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2022 was a busy year, and The Point newsletter was there in your inbox most weekday mornings with the day’s top news to keep you informed. Here are some of the stories that defined the year.
This year, WUFT reported on local and state elections. Included in our coverage were Alachua County, Citrus and Hernando Counties, Dixie, Gilchrist and Lafayette Counties and Marion, Putnam and Union Counties. We also covered the Gainesville mayoral race and hosted a mayoral debate.
Statewide, WUFT followed the races for Florida’s U.S. House and Senate seats, 8th Judicial Circuit, state legislature, and governor.
WUFT is committed to reporting on racial justice. Report for America Corps Member Katie Hyson brought you stories about the GPD K9 attack of Terrell Bradley and the ensuing aftermath, a Gainesville public charter school defying the achievement gap, and a Black marching band style erased from a Gainesville high school.
Our reporters also told stories featuring diverse voices. While protests erupted in Iran over women’s rights, North Florida hijabis fought for the right to dress as they choose. After a slew of instances of antisemitic rhetoric, the Jewish community banded together to unite against antisemitism. And following two years of pandemic closures, the LGBTQ+ Pride festival returned to Gainesville.
A lot happened in state and local government this year, and WUFT was there covering it.
In January, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that former Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell was not allowed to make changes to the budget without the approval of the county commissioners.
North central Florida became the center of debate as proposals for new roads came with mixed reviews. Citrus County residents voiced their disapproval over proposed toll roads, and a potential turnpike extension threatened to demolish a historic Black community in Sumter County. Meanwhile, Levy County began its project to convert dirt roads to be more cement-like.
The Alachua County School District defied statewide mandates and continued requiring masks during the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. This decision could have cost the county $2 million in state funding.
Pedestrian safety remained a hot-button issue in Gainesville this year, and the city commission instituted a number of changes on West University Avenue.
Gainesville also struggled with how to solve the city’s lack of affordable housing. Some solutions, like a groundbreaking in Duval or a fight for affordable housing in historic Pleasant Street, received community support, while others were met with skepticism. The city commission also approved a measure eliminating single family zoning despite widespread community opposition.
After an emotional debate, Florida lawmakers passed the controversial “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” as critics termed it, affecting classrooms and school districts across the state.
A case involving transgender rights in Florida made its way to the U.S. Appeals Court.
The Florida Supreme Court heard the case of whether Marsy’s Law protects police identities when they’re involved in deadly shootings. That decision is pending as the year comes to a close.
Our reporters completed several special projects this year, highlighting their skills and passion for longform storytelling and investigative journalism.
WUFT produced a podcast called “Decolonizing the Curriculum” that explored the longterm effects of colonialism on Florida’s education system.
- Episode 1: Understanding the fabric of Africa and Florida
- Episode 2: The Seminoles and land grant universities
- Episode 3: The changing landscape of K-12 and higher education in Florida
- Episode 4: Remembering Black joy in Florida
- Episode 5: Unsung heroes and heroines in Alachua County
Sky Lebron reported on the lack of broadband in rural north central Florida.
Melissa Feito spotlighted health advocates working to close the Latino vaccination gap.
Meleah Lyden helped tell the story of a Black Seminole historical reenactor.
For the 50th anniversary of the Florida Clean Water Act, WUFT’s special project “Watershed” highlighted the progress made toward water conservation in Florida and what remains to be done.
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From major hurricanes to protests, WUFT brought you the most up-to-date information on breaking and developing stories throughout the year.
In October, the University of Florida announced that one candidate, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, had made it to the final round of decision making to become the university’s next president. UF students protested his appointment, which prompted university officials to renew enforcement of a decades-old rule about campus protests. The UF Faculty Senate voted “‘no confidence” on the decision to select Sasse, but the Board of Trustees ultimately approved his appointment in November.
Hurricane Ian ripped through the coast of Southwest Florida as fall began and the Atlantic Hurricane Season peaked. Our reporters brought you stories of hope and loss, bravery and grief. Southwest Florida farmers struggled after the hurricane, with impacts on the agriculture industry topping $1 billion. Experts said students returning to school may face long-term challenges in the aftermath. One man weathered the storm in a boat.
Activists protested in Gainesville this year on issues like abortion, gun reform and university graduate assistant wages.
A federal judge blocked UF from barring professors from testifying as expert witnesses against the state government in a case that highlighted recent battles over academic freedom.
Florida failed for three months to provide Medicaid coverage for the state’s sickest children and was ordered to pay nearly $9.1 million.
Arts and Culture
WUFT told stories throughout the year about art, music and culture. Here are some highlights:
- Inside the effort to diversify north central Florida’s largest arts festival
- Beats on the block: Gainesville artists are showing their talents downtown
- Keeping the tradition of quilting alive through charity and community service
- Artwalk Gainesville creates a monthly sanctuary for both expression and community
- Inside the Matheson History Museum exhibit on iconic 70s concert venue
- Radio show for health care workers hits a year on air, plans for more
- Gainesville to host Florida Artist Blacksmith Association Conference, become new region
- Gainesville music teacher reinvents how to love music
- Queer Maker’s Market connects LGBTQ+ community for Gainesville pride month
- Three self-taught artists organized the first annual art show in Alachua
Today’s news cycle can be filled with negativity, but here are some positive stories that WUFT brought you in 2022.
- NASA’s Artemis I rocket successfully completed its lunar orbit, paving the way for astronauts to return to the moon.
- A Gainesville non-profit sought to build community and confidence through Black hair.
- Inmates at Lowell Correctional Institution faced off in a culinary arts competition.
- Three Ocala natives competed for gold in the Beijing Summer Olympics
- A program in East Gainesville used tennis to combat the achievement gap – and it worked.
- A dairy farm in Trenton turned cow poop into renewable energy (and profit).
- For one Buchholz High School student, a midnight trip to get a glass of water turned into a discovery of a new calculus technique.
Thank you for supporting WUFT throughout this year. We look forward to serving you in 2023.
Kristin Moorehead curated today’s edition of The Point.