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The Point, June 29, 2022: Alachua County School District Reverses Decision, Will Not Enforce Clear Backpack Policy Next School Year

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The stories near you

• WCJB TV20: Alachua County School District reverses clear backpack rule after backlash from parents. "One day after announcing clear backpacks will be required for middle and high school students, Alachua County Public Schools is eliminating the rule. School district officials worked with law enforcement to create the rule following recent mass shootings including the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas."

• WCJB TV20: 'There’s an issue that really is a crisis’: Residents voice their concerns about Alachua County Animal Services in commission meeting. "This year, the shelter reported 251 intakes of pets with some being adopted, returning to their owners, or even being euthanized. A lot of frustration was vented Tuesday night over the conditions at Alachua County Animal Services."

• The Gainesville Sun ($): Eagle-Glenn vows to be 'conservative' voice for thousands of Alachua County residents. "Eagle-Glenn used to battle the county commission that she now serves on. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed the Gainesville attorney and local Republican Party committeewoman earlier in June; she was sworn in Tuesday morning." 

• WCJB TV20: Standardized test scores in North Central Florida had little change in 2022. "In the last year of the Florida statewide assessments tests, the percentage of students scoring a satisfactory grade remained stagnant. Most districts scored slightly lower in English for grades three through ten."

• WUFT News: Tiny retail park opens in Williston. "With tiny house retail shops, restaurants and a beer and wine bar, Homestead Park has transformed a rural area into a community gathering place, co-owner Guido Jessen said."

• WJCT News:Algae warning issued in Clay County as holiday weekend nears. "Health officials are warning of potential risks from blue-green algae in Clay County, the county's third warning in just over a month. With the July Fourth weekend approaching, the Florida Department of Health in Clay County said this week that the public should exercise caution 'in and around Clay County waterways.'"

• First Coast News: Realtors: Palatka, Hastings becoming 'new frontier' due to lower housing prices. "Many people who work in St. Augustine can no longer afford to live there and are moving farther west."

• The Gainesville Sun ($): Rev. Les Singleton remembered for advocacy, bringing other religious communities together. "The Rev. Les Singleton set up an interfaith program following the Sept. 11 attacks and was an advocate for same-sex marriage. He died at 80." 

• Ocala Star-Banner: Ocala BBQ king Rashad Jones of Big Lee's wins Food Network contest, becomes 'Master of 'Cue'. "Ocala's Rashad Jones – the man behind Big Lee's – Serious About Barbecue – has prevailed in Season 3 of the Food Network's "BBQ Brawl" show and earned the title "Master of 'Cue."

• The Florida Times Union ($): Operation New Hope founder is retiring after 23 years helping Jacksonville-area ex-offenders rebuild lives. "Founder Kevin Gay is retiring from Operation New Hope, which he built into a national model for easing ex-offenders back into their communities."

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Around the state

• News Service of Florida: Floridians will get 'tax freedom’ on sunscreen, concert tickets, pool noodles and more. "Floridians facing economic pressure from inflation will get a second crack to save on “freedom” starting Friday. 2022 is the second year in a row the sales tax holiday will allow residents in the state some relief from inflation."

• News4Jax: Florida judge will decide whether to block 15-week abortion ban law Thursday. "Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida and other reproductive health care providers are challenging Florida’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy at a state court in Tallahassee." • Panama City News Herald: Judge postpones criminal trial of former Lynn Haven mayor Margo Anderson for 11th time. "Anderson was initially indicted Aug. 18, 2020, along with then-Lynn Haven City Attorney Adam Albritton, on more than 60 federal charges. Those included conspiring to defraud, numerous counts of wire fraud and embezzlement of federal funds."

• City & State Florida: Florida among states shifting road safety dollars away from safety programs. "With traffic deaths soaring over the last two years, some federal officials are questioning why nearly half of state transportation departments have diverted money from Washington specifically designated to making highways safer. Florida has redirected 13.5% of its share of the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program for other uses, records show."

• Associated Press: Jury is chosen to decide Florida school shooter’s sentence. "A jury of seven men and five women was tentatively chosen Tuesday for a penalty trial to decide whether Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz should be sentenced to death or get life in prison for the 2018 attack, capping a nearly three-month winnowing process that began with 1,800 candidates."

• Tampa Bay Times ($): Widow of Tampa police officer killed in wrong-way crash sues state, contractor. "The widow of a Tampa police officer killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 275 last year has filed suit against the Florida Department of Transportation and one of its contractors, claiming they bear responsibility for her husband’s death because a system meant to detect wrong-way drivers failed."

• Miami Herald ($): Biden’s housing chief calls Miami the ‘epicenter of the housing crisis in this country’. "Miami-Dade’s 2022 budget says the county needs an additional $400 million for repairs and improvements at public housing than is in the budget."

• WUSF: In the first week, Tampa’s housing hotline receives hundreds of calls. "The infoline is an effort to streamline resources for people who may have questions or concerns on a slew of housing issues — eviction notices, landlord complaints or rising rent and mortgage costs — and don’t know where to start."

• The New York Times ($): Disney Board Renews Bob Chapek as C.E.O. "The company has faced major challenges recently, leading some to question whether Mr. Chapek would last. His contract was extended three years."

• Fox35 Orlando: Disney employees backing out of home buying, costing realtors big time. "Some Central Florida realtors say more Disney employees continue to back out of buying homes after the Walt Disney Company decided to postpone the relocation of several positions from California to Florida."

• News4Jax: COVID-19 cases plateauing in Florida after uptick, expert says. "For most of the past month, the state has averaged between 10,000 and 11,000 cases a day reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The trendline has relatively plateaued, compared to the time from mid-March to late May when it was more of an increasing trend."

• Tampa Bay Times ($): Look out, Pasco: Here come giant African land snails. "The giant African land snail gobbles up plants and can carry a parasite known to give people meningitis, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services."

• Tampa Bay Times ($): St. Petersburg mayor: ‘Major announcement’ on Tropicana Field coming Wednesday. "Mayor Ken Welch gave himself a June 30 deadline to select a developer to redevelop Tropicana Field, one of the largest land deals in the country."

From NPR News

• Law: Ghislaine Maxwell is sentenced to 20 years in prison

• Politics: Trump didn't want to stop Capitol attack, former White House aide testifies

• National: The school at the center of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting will be rebuilt

• Elections: The Supreme Court has delayed creating a majority Black voting district in Louisiana

• Business: Airbnb officially bans parties at its listings in a new policy

• Health: FDA advisers recommend updating COVID booster shots for the fall

• Health: The U.S. will offer nearly 300,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine in the coming weeks

• Abortion: After state court victories, clinics have resumed abortions in some states with bans

• Education: Arizona offers free college tuition to the state's Native students

• Public Health: Dogs are sniffing out disease in animals vital to traditions of the Blackfeet tribe

• World: Turkey has dropped its objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO

About today's curator

I'm Fareeha Haque Abrar, a journalist at WUFT. Originally from North Carolina, I grew up reading Florida stories since moving to Jacksonville at 4 years old. I am a senior journalism major and am a part of a team searching for local and state news each week that's important to you. Please send feedback about today's edition of The Point or ideas for stories we may have missed to fareehaabrar@ufl.edu.

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org