Tuesday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida retailers expect a dip in sales this Fourth of July
The Florida Retail Federation is expecting a slight dip in Fourth of July holiday spending this year. The group anticipates celebrants will spend about $73 per person this year. Independence Day falls on Thursday this year, meaning some people might cut their celebrations early to head back to work Friday morning. Still, nationwide spending this year is expected to be one of the highest on record at more than $6.7 billion. If that forecast holds, it will be the third highest in history. More from Florida Politics and Florida Daily.
Everything you need to know about Florida's new wireless communications while driving law
The Florida Department of Highways Safety and Motor Vehicles is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation and law enforcement partners to educate Floridians on the changes to distracted driving law with the Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign. The Wireless Communications While Driving Law, section 316.305, Florida Statutes, takes effect on July 1, 2019. This new law requires drivers to put their phones down and focus on driving. See the details here and read more from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Florida’s Coco Gauff, 15, continues making history at Wimbledon
If the sports world didn’t know Delray Beach’s teen tennis phenom Cori “Coco” Gauff before her Monday match at Wimbledon, they do now. Gauff, 15, defeated five-time Wimbledon champ Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 in what was just the third tour-level match of her career. She did so while also making history as the youngest competitor to ever qualify for the tournament’s main draw in the professional era. More from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Meet the Florida woman-turned-mermaid and entrepreneur
When some people head to the beach, they go in board shorts or bikinis. Skye Morrison goes in a fin. Morrison wears a mermaid fin costume and does pop-up appearances in Panama City Beach at access point #18 along Cobia Street. Children can get photos with her when she hangs out on the shore. More from the Gainesville Sun.
Northwest Florida tourism officials are taking over the visitor center near Alabama state line
Visit Florida, the state’s primary tourism marketing arm, is beginning the new budget year with $26 million less in funding. It came after a bitter fight to close the agency. One casualty of the cut was the closing of a rural welcome center on the state line in the Florida Panhandle. Yearly, 300,000 vehicles cross the Alabama-Florida state line on U.S. Highway 231 in Jackson County. The welcome center there is the least visited in the state. More from WJXT and the Panama City News-Herald.
Robotics company seeking volunteer seniors to test new ‘proactive social companion’
A Broward County-based organization announced a partnership with a robotics company and is seeking local seniors as volunteers to pair with a “proactive social companion,” robot for older adults, called ElliQ. At its recent Aging in South Florida Symposium, South Florida Institute on Aging announced a partnership with ElliQ creator Intuition Robotics backed by investors including Toyota Research Institute, AI Ventures, Samsung NEXT and iRobot. ElliQ offers users tips and advice, responds to questions and surprises with suggestions.
» More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Iguanas spread in Florida as climate warms: ‘They’re a menace’
After a warm winter and now with record-breaking summer heat — the kind of weather iguanas thrive in — the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has declared open season on the exotic reptile. Agency biologists say they don’t know how many iguanas are in Florida, but they know the kinds of problems they’re causing. These include “erosion, degradation of infrastructure such as water control structures, canal banks, sea walls and building foundations.""
» Read more from the Washington Post.
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