This week’s end to $300 federal unemployment benefit sparks mixed reaction
A $300 federal unemployment benefit will end on Saturday for Floridians, and it’s sparking mixed reactions among those depending on the benefit and employers desperate to fill open positions. The state decided last month to opt-out of the additional federal benefit as part of its “Return to Work” initiative. The good news for those who depend on the extra money is that they will continue to see the checks through the first couple of weeks of July. [Source: WTSP]
Murders up 15% in Florida in 2020; overall crime down, annual report shows
While violent crimes were on the rise in 2020, overall crime in Florida fell for the 50th straight year, according to the 2020 Annual Uniform Crime Report. Violent crime rose 2.3 percent in 2020 from 81,091 incident in 2019 to 82,941. However, property crimes fell 17 percent with only 381,864 incidents compared to the previous year's 460,237. [Source: WGFL]
Black farmers get priority as Florida prepares to issue new medical marijuana licenses
A Black farmer with ties to doing business in Florida will be at the head of the line for a long-awaited batch of medical-marijuana licenses in an application process that state health officials will launch soon, senior aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis said. The aides told The News Service of Florida that the Department of Health will kick off the rulemaking process for Black farmer applicants within “weeks to months” and set the stage for another set of licenses that would nearly double the number of medical marijuana operators in the state. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Florida's gas prices going down after double-digit increases last week
Florida’s average gas prices inched lower over the last week, dropping by 3 cents. After several weeks of rising prices, Floridians could continue to see declines, the AAA-Auto Club South said in its weekly gasoline prices briefing. The average price of gas in Florida is now $2.94 a gallon. The week before, the statewide average ballooned by 12 cents, mostly because of rising market prices. [Source: Tallahassee Democrat]
Coyote population booms in Florida
Floridians are always on the lookout for creatures big and small, from alligators to pythons to disease-carrying mosquitoes. We can now add coyotes to that list. They’ve inundated South Florida to such a level that Broward County Parks, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, held an online coyote seminar this spring to inform residents how to deal with coyotes. The FWC said there’s no population estimate for coyotes in Florida, but they’ve been spotted in all 67 counties in Florida, even on beaches. [Source: NBC Miami]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› NFTs are hitting the mainstream. What does it mean for Miami’s art world? [Miami Herald]
When Will Smith comes to your gallery, it may be a sign that the mainstream is catching up with what you’re doing. So it was that the legendary actor arrived at a recent event hosted by Blackdove, a Miami-based specialist in digital art — and, increasingly, non-fungible tokens, now better known as NFTs.
Royal Caribbean 1st major cruise line to sail with passengers from U.S. in 15 months [Orlando Sentinel]
Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas left Miami on Sunday for a two-night test cruise becoming the first major cruise ship to sail from a U.S. port with passengers since March 2020. These ones, though, didn’t have to pay. That’s because it’s part of a simulated sailing for the cruise line to demonstrate its COVID-19 safety protocols in order to get a conditional sailing certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
› Niagara Bottling developing $70 million plant in Middleburg [Jacksonville Daily Record]
California-based Niagara Bottling LLC is preparing to build a $70 million, 550,000-square-foot beverage manufacturing facility in Middleburg. The Clay County Board of County Commissioners approved incentives grants for the project Feb. 9 and signed the deal April 27. The Economic Development Grant and Tangible Personal Property Capital Investment Grant are calculated and paid after the investments are made and the agreements do not specify a precise amount.
› Clearwater wants a new transit hub and City Hall. A $28M grant could help. [Tampa Bay Times]
Plans for two major downtown improvements are lined up like a series of dominoes waiting to fall into place. All they need, officials say, is a $28 million push. The bus terminal on Park Street is one of the busiest transit hubs in Tampa Bay, but the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has deemed the 40-year-old facility functionally obsolete.
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› Southern rock to Miami sound: A look at Florida's most influential musicians [Gainesville Sun]
Before he was singing the praises of Georgia, singer and pianist Ray Charles was honing his craft in Tampa and other Florida towns. And Southern Rock was born in the Sunshine State, thanks to the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and other bands that formed in Jacksonville. Don't forget South Florida's influence either, from the fresh sound of a Boca Raton songstress to the Miami sound in the 1980s including hip hop legend Luther Campbell, whose stand for free speech helped all musicians forever thereafter.
› McClellan Park School is gone; dispute over Sarasota’s historic preservation isn’t over [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Months after the contentious demolition of the McClellan Park School site, loopholes revealed in the city’s preservation processes continue to fuel residents’ fight to protect Sarasota’s historic architecture. In March, the city’s Historic Preservation Board was upset when city staff granted an administrative waiver that dismissed the board from reviewing the site’s demolition request.
› Answer coming on whether USS Orleck becomes downtown Jacksonville ship museum [Florida Times-Union ]
A Jacksonville group's quest to bring a Navy ship to downtown Jacksonville as a floating museum has had its ups and downs the past 11 years, but after a global pandemic and then a hurricane that broke the USS Orleck free from its Louisiana dock, local boosters are hoping to have the ship here by Veterans Day.
› Forts and bricks: How the military and industry evolved in early Pensacola [Pensacola News Journal]
Throughout the colonial period, countries such as Spain, Great Britain and France fought over Pensacola, primarily because of its deepwater port. At the time, Pensacola Bay was the deepest natural port along the entire northern Gulf of Mexico, and this would play a key role in its history. When the United States acquired Pensacola in 1821, its military significance only grew, and this also would impact the local economy.