Wednesday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
Scientists believe weapon against citrus greening already exists in nature
Researchers are turning to a plant’s own microbiome to fight the destruction of citrus greening on Florida’s citrus trees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded FIU scientists $500,000 to investigate natural compounds that could suppress or even eliminate the deadly bacteria that causes citrus greening. Currently, no cure exists for this disease that has left its mark on Florida’s citrus production, causing more than a 70% reduction in orange crops since first appearing in the state in 2005. More from FIU News.
Citizens Insurance picks a new CEO. ‘The timing is very critical for us.'
Pointing to a need to move quickly, the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors on Tuesday chose Tim Cerio to become president and CEO of the state-backed insurer. Cerio, who has long been an influential player in Tallahassee, has served as the Citizens general counsel since 2021. He will replace Barry Gilway, who announced Dec. 22 that he would retire as president and CEO after more than a decade in the position. More from the News Service of Florida.
First military housing in 30 years due at SouthCom
A military housing complex project in Doral’s U.S. Southern Command land will offer more than 50 acres of affordable housing to military members and their families who serve at the command’s headquarters. Construction is set to begin in the fall. This project will be the first military housing compound constructed in South Florida after the closure of the military housing at Homestead Air Force Base caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. More from Miami Today.
How a new stadium deal could improve Rays’ fortunes on and off the field
The Rays have had considerable success on the field, including making the playoffs the last four seasons and eight since 2008, despite having among the lowest payrolls. Last season’s $78.2 million opening day payroll (based on player salaries and not counting prorated signing bonuses, incentives or buyouts) was the largest in their 25 seasons. The Yankees and Red Sox, two of the teams they compete with in the American League East, have been over $200 million in several seasons. More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Orlando nightlife industry pitches surcharge to fund downtown public safety costs
A nightlife-advocacy group is pitching Orlando officials on a surcharge on downtown purchases as a way to fund more cops and public safety initiatives in the area. The proposal of a 5% tax was crafted by the Orlando Hospitality Alliance and comes amid an ongoing debate on the best way to fund public safety downtown surrounding Orlando’s nightlife. The charge would be on top of the sales tax customers pay on bar tabs and other purchases. More from the Orlando Sentinel.
E-bike boom: Rad Power Bikes selects St. Petersburg for first southern U.S. store
Social distancing, sustainability and accessibility helped fuel e-biking during the pandemic, but the battery-propelled bicycles seem to be here to stay. Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes is widely considered the largest e-bike seller in the United States. Last month, they opened a St. Petersburg store — the company’s first in the South and only their second on the East Coast.
» More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Out of the Box
It will be lit: Museum of Illusions turns on Life in Neon after-hours party
Museum of Illusions Orlando is introducing Life In Neon, an after-hours event at the attraction that mixes its mind-bending exhibits with trippy lighting. The party will feature live EDM DJs, body paint and neon that enhances Museum of Illusions’ displays of visual trickery. For example, the attraction, located at Icon Park on International Drive, will include LED light-up balloons in its Infinity Room as well as a disco ball hovering above the usual “head on a plate” exhibit. It will provide glow sticks and other props for the evening.
» Read more from the Orlando Sentinel.
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Florida lawmakers continue debate over school red tape, education spending and more