Six months after Hurricane Ian, some residents struggle to move on
Six months after Hurricane Ian roared ashore in Southwest Florida, some residents are still living in the wrecked ruins of their homes, surrounded by damage wrought by one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the United States. Mike Walcher, a local reporter for WGCU-TV and an instructor in the journalism program at Florida Gulf Coast University, recently chronicled the stories of several people on Lee County's Pine Island, one of the areas hit the hardest. More from WGCU and the Weather Channel.
Florida's state pension fund was invested in failed banks
A portion of Florida’s $177 billion pension fund was invested in stocks of now-defunct Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. The State Board of Administration — the state agency that oversees investments of Florida’s pension fund — had less than $25 million tied up in SVB stock and around $5 million in Signature Bank stock, according to a spokesperson for the agency. [Source: South Florida Business Journal]
Mischievous manatees act as big tourism draw for Florida
Manatees have an underrated mischievous side. Just ask any winter snorkeler at King Spring in Crystal River. Although it’s illegal for snorkelers to disturb any of the manatees seeking shelter in the spring’s warm waters, manatees heed no such rule when it comes to investigating humans. They often like to silently approaching from behind or beneath swimmers who have come to see them in their natural environment. [Source: The Villages Daily Sun]
As population spikes, Florida targets waning nurse numbers with $125 million investment
Florida is now officially the country’s fastest growing state, something Gov. Ron DeSantis often takes the credit for. But the number of nurses in the state is going in the opposite direction — so much so that the Florida Hospital Association predicts a shortfall of 59,100 nurses by 2035. This is especially problematic in a state with a sizable aging population that typically requires medical care. [Source: WLRN]
Affordable housing package heads to Florida House floor
The Senate on March 8 unanimously passed a similar bill (SB 102). As with the Senate version, the House proposal carries a $711 million price tag. Among other things, it would bar local rent control laws and pre-empt local-government rules on zoning, density and building heights in certain circumstances. It also would create tax exemptions for developments that set aside at least 70 units for affordable housing and speed up permits and development orders for affordable housing projects. [Source: News Service of Florida]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Beeline Inc. rated as top place to work in Jacksonville [Florida Times-Union]
A casual dress code. Plenty of open-air work spaces. And the general ambience of a hipster entertainment complex envelopes Beeline Inc. on Jacksonville’s Southside more than it portrays an actual workplace to the uninitiated when walking through the doors of the technology firm. Beeline is a software platform between companies and talent -- or non-fulltime employees -- that serve as contractors, consultants, contracted with staffing agencies, outsourcing firms and gig economy workers who are not beholden to a single employer.
› The Bail Project helps low-level offenders pay bail in Orlando [Orlando Sentinel]
The Bail Project has assisted 288 people since opening a local office in Orlando last year. Other locations in Florida include Jacksonville and Pensacola. Since launching in 2018, the nonprofit has posted bail for more than 29,000 people across the nation. Employees are usually given recommendations on who to bail from public defenders and recidivism-reducing partners to assist low-level offenders in jail. Unlike commercial bail companies, The Bail Project does not collect collateral.
› ‘Competition is fierce’: Beyond Ultra, Miami Music Week to feature more than 100 events [Miami Herald]
Thousands of music fans from around the globe will descend upon downtown Miami this week for Ultra, the renowned three-day electronic music festival known for its elaborate stages, reverberating bass and extravagant fashion choices. But Miami Music Week – which kicked off Tuesday and runs essentially non-stop through Sunday night – is serving up a plethora of EDM menu options beyond the mega-event that occupies Bayfront Park through the weekend.
› Which projects could compete with Rays stadium for Pinellas tax dollars? [Tampa Bay Times]
That the Tampa Bay Rays will ask for Pinellas County tourist tax dollars to help build a new stadium is almost a sure thing. The questions, for now, are when? And how much? And then, once a request has been put to the Pinellas County Commission: What else? As in, what other projects are vying for the same pot of money?
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› A Palm Beach man paid for cars, Aspen trips with investors’ stolen $5.2 million, feds say [Miiami Herald]
Federal regulators accuse a Jupiter businessman of diverting $5.2 million of investor money to “pay for personal expenses, such as luxury cars, jewelry, designer clothing, vacations to Aspen and Hawaii, and day-to-day living expenses.” According to a civil complaint filed in West Palm Beach federal court by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Peter Krieger also has agreed to pay back his victims. That may be a challenge.
› Reenergized American Legion breathing new life and love into historic Post 33. [Pensacola News Journal]
After years of neglect and disrepair, members of the reestablished Frank R. Marston American Legion Post 33 are working to bring the historic Post 33 building back to life. The group got a huge boost last week when the Pensacola Community Redevelopment Agency approved a $140,000 grant to rehabilitate the exterior of the building.
› Khan’s investment company seeks permit for office foundation [Jacksonville Daily Record]
In another move toward riverfront development, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s real estate investment company wants to build the foundation of a proposed office building at the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences property along the Downtown Northbank. The city is reviewing a permit application for PCL Construction LLC of Orlando to put in the foundation at an estimated project cost of $200,000.
› Sarasota and Bay Park leaders respond to boaters' concerns about the park [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Local boaters and other community members raised concerns about the Bay Park Conservancy’s plans for the city of Sarasota’s new waterfront park, leading to changes in those plans. The Sarasota City Commission reviewed land-use changes on Monday that involved The Bay, a 53-acre park that is gradually being built.