Central Florida Roundup
Python detection cameras in Florida
From its new U.S. headquarters in Osceola County’s NeoCity technology district, Belgian nanotech research firm Imec and partners are developing a camera designed to allow faster and more accurate detection of the invasive Burmese and rock pythons that have infiltrated the Everglades.
Currently, licensed python hunters drive down levees and back roads at night with large spotlights mounted on their vehicles looking for pythons. But that leaves vast swaths of the Everglades beyond their view and open for pythons, which lay as many as 50 eggs at a time, live up to 20 years and feast on native Everglades mammals.
Imec is working with researchers at the University of Central Florida, University of Florida and startup Extended Reality Systems. The camera has been tested at the Brevard County Zoo and at a UF facility in South Florida. The team is planning further field tests with the cameras mounted on cars and drones.
- Lake County commissioners approved plans by ornamental nursery Liner Source to build an on-site dormitory to house nearly 200 seasonal migrants.
- Former University of Central Florida President Dale Whittaker told the Orlando Sentinel that Republican leaders in the Florida House of Representatives demanded that he give up his job. Whittaker resigned in February amid a controversy over the use of operating funds on construction projects.
- Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, the first-term prosecutor who attempted to stop seeking the death penalty in all cases but lost a court fight with former Gov. Rick Scott, announced that she will not run for re-election in 2020.
- Voters in Tavares will decide in November whether the small Lake County city should borrow $27 million to build a 1,000-seat performing arts center and a 600-car garage.
- The city of Orlando banned the use of single-use plastic and polystyrenes — such as straws, cups and containers — at all city-owned parks and venues.
- The 9th Judicial Circuit, which includes Orange and Osceola counties, will reopen its business court.
- AdventHealth plans to build a stand-alone emergency department near Walt Disney World.
- Tijuana Flats, the Altamonte Springs-based fast-casual chain with 135 restaurants, named Brian Wright CEO. Wright, who had previously been CEO of a Massachusetts-based restaurant chain Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, replaces longtime board member Rick Van Warner, who had been interim CEO for more than a year. Tijuana Flats also named a new CFO and a senior vice president of operations. The company says it plans to accelerate its expansion.
- Brixmor Property Group will spend $32 million renovating Pointe Orlando, a 420,000-sq.-ft. shopping district in Orlando’s International Drive tourism corridor.
- Samsung Ventures, a venture capital arm of Samsung Electronics, led a $3.5-million investment in Lake Mary-based NanoPhotonica to continue development technology used in displays for phones, televisions and other devices. DeepWork Capital, a Central Florida-based VC fund, contributed to the investment.
- Co-working space provider WeWork will open a three-floor, 70,000-sq.-ft. space in downtown Orlando.
- The National Center for Simulation promoted George Cheros from COO to president and CEO. Cheros had been serving as interim president since former president Thomas Baptiste stepped down in April.
- Voters in Osceola County rejected a proposed sales-tax increase to pay for transportation projects. But Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says he wants to ask voters in his county to approve a 1-cent increase to pay for transportation projects in November.
- Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, has begun construction of the leg from West Palm Beach to Orlando.
- OSHA opened an investigation of Universal Orlando after a number of employees and visitors said they experienced electrical shocks at the resort’s Volcano Bay water park. Meanwhile, Universal opened a Harry Potter-themed roller coaster.
- Investment firm Hill Path Capital raised its stake in SeaWorld Entertainment to 34.5% and gained three seats on the Orlando-based marine park operator’s board of directors. The company also said it would buy back $150 million worth of shares. Meanwhile, SeaWorld’s largest park, SeaWorld Orlando, plans to open a new roller coaster next year.
- Disney Cruise Line and Port Canaveral reached a 20-year agreement that will see two of three new ships Disney is building based at the Brevard County seaport.
Read more in Florida Trend's August Issue.
Select from the following options:
* offer valid for new subscribers only