Northwest Florida Roundup
Researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine have identified a potential low-cost method for predicting if a person is at risk of developing dementia.
By analyzing data from nearly 13,000 subjects who participated in a long-term aging study, FSU researchers found that a cognitively healthy person’s memory capabilities successfully predicted the likelihood of developing or not developing dementia over a 15-year period.
“Our findings show that interviewers were able to detect deficits in the memory of participants that predicted higher risk of developing dementia over time,” says research author Angelina Sutin, professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine.
The study surveyed a representative sample of adults aged 50 and older about their health, financial situation and well-being every two years for as long as they choose to remain in the study.
Participants’ memory acuities were rated over time by interviewers on a 1-to-5 point scale, with a score of 1 exhibiting no memory impairment and 5 exhibiting great difficulty.
They found that each 1-point increase toward poor memory, as rated by the interviewer, was associated with a 40% increase in risk of developing dementia or cognitive impairment at some point over the long-term follow-up periods.
- Pensacola Habitat for Humanity has prevailed in its effort to overturn a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture decision that it says would have crippled potential homebuyers’ ability to qualify for low-interest mortgage loans. The USDA previously had ruled that much of Santa Rosa County’s rapidly growing Milton-Pace area was “non-rural,” a designation that precluded homebuyers in that area from obtaining zero-down, government-backed loans. To qualify for the loan program, applicants must meet the low-income requirements for their area, live in an eligible rural area and demonstrate an ability to repay the debt. “The USDA’s decision to listen to the voices of the community and maintain the rural designation is a huge win in the effort to ensure there is enough affordable housing for the local workforce,” says Pensacola Habitat President and CEO Sam Young.
- Jacksonville-based GreenPointe Developers have begun work on a 900-acre master planned community north of downtown Tallahassee near the new Amazon fulfillment center. The company is one of the largest privately held residential developers in the state. Since its founding in 2008, GreenPointe has built 17 planned residential communities consisting of 18,500 single family homes and 3,500 apartments.
- Construction is underway at Pensacola Shipyards on the 100,000-sq.-ft. Barn Pensacola boat storage facility. Developer David Finkelstein bought the 26-acre shipyard site on Bayou Chico in 2022 for $3.25 million.
- The University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity has received a $2.5-million grant from the National Security Agency to expand the National Cybersecurity Workforce Development program called CyberSkills2Work. The program focuses on recruiting, preparing and placing transitioning military and first responders into cybersecurity work roles in critical infrastructure sectors, such as financial services, the defense industrial base and energy. UWF leads a coalition of 10 universities addressing cybersecurity challenges, including a critical national shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals in the U.S.
- A partnership between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Trust for Public Land and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has acquired three large parcels of wetlands in the growing Navarre community that will be dedicated as a nature preserve. Called Creets Landing, the 545-acre combined area will serve as a habitat for endangered species and provide added protection from flood risks to surrounding residential communities.
- Panama City commissioners have approved a $150-million bank loan to pay for needed infrastructure projects that are reimbursable through federal grants. Officials say the loan is necessary because the city does not have enough money to pay for the 32 projects, all of which have strict timelines outlined in their federal grant agreements. Nearly all the infrastructure projects are a result of severe damage caused by hurricanes Michael in 2018 and Sally in 2020.
- Bay County commissioners have approved two new ordinances that will affect short-term rental property owners and tourists visiting the area. One creates an annual checklist of requirements for such owners, while the other mandates that information on rip currents and double red flags must be displayed on their properties. The action comes after nine people drowned on Bay County beaches during a recent summer tourist season. "We want to do the absolute best we can do to educate every single person who comes here, even if they forget what they learned last year," Commissioner Clair Pease says. "We want to do it every time they come, and we want them to teach their children."
- After a year-long delay following completion of construction, Amazon is now operating its $200-million, 2.8-million-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Tallahassee. The company blamed the delay on recurring supply chain issues related to acquiring robotic machinery and technology needed to make the building fully operational. Amazon has begun hiring and eventually expects to have a workforce totaling 1,000.