Friday, June 28, 2024

Top Stories

Article Icon 1State Sets $1.5 Billion for Natural Resources 

The state will spend $1.5 billion starting July 1 to protect land and water resources that contribute to economic and flood benefits.

$850 million will go to Everglades restoration projects, with $665 million set for targeted water quality improvements and grants.

The budget also includes $100 million for the Florida Forever Program, the state’s blueprint for preserving natural and recreational lands, with funding for reservoirs, wastewater, and coral reef restoration.

Florida’s total investment in Everglades restoration and water quality improvements will be a record-breaking $6.5 billion since 2019.

Article Icon 1Jury OKs Death Penalty for Florida Murderer

A jury on Wednesday voted 9-3 that former prison guard trainee Zephen Xaver, 27, be sentenced to death for the execution-style murders of five women inside a Sebring bank in 2019.

In closing arguments, prosecutors argued for death because the massacre was long-planned, “shockingly evil,” and fulfilled his years-long desire to experience killing.

Defense attorneys urged jurors to spare Xaver, saying he has a mental illness and had been hearing voices since childhood urging him to kill.

The final decision rests with a circuit judge who could reject the jury’s recommendation and sentence Xaver to life without parole.

Article Icon 1 Tampa Stadium Ranks No. 1 for Concert Sales

Major artist pairings like Billy Joel with Sting and Kenny Chesney with Zac Brown have sold out Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, making it the highest-ranked venue in the U.S. for gross concert sales for the first half of 2024.

According to a report released Tuesday by trade publication Pollstar, gross sales were nearly $24 million, and the venue ranked No. 8 out of the 50 stadiums ranked worldwide.

More big numbers are expected for the second half of 2024, with two Morgan Wallen and Jelly Roll shows in July and a Zach Bryan show in August.

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Around Florida
South Florida

 Miami Beach and Poseidon Ferry have teamed up for a yearlong water taxi pilot program to transport passengers between Miami and Miami Beach. The service started Sunday and aims to reduce traffic congestion. (More)

Key West: U.S. Border Patrol stopped more than 100 Haitian migrants who arrived in a sailboat off the Florida Keys on Wednesday. (More)

Miami Beach: The first female fire chief in the county was appointed this week. Fire Deputy Chief Digna Abello will replace outgoing Chief Virgil Fernandez. (More)

Central Florida

Eatonville: After decades of water problems, town leaders say the state has issued a $34 million grant to replace water mains and pipes in 2025 within the historic town. (Video)

Cocoa: City leaders unveiled the Four Corners Community Visioning Plan this week to boost business at U.S. 1 and SR 520. Community meetings will be scheduled for input. (Video)

North Florida

Vilano Beach: The set for the movie “Florida Man” caused a stir among locals on Monday when “3 Dead Inside” was painted on the side of a highway-facing wall of a house. (Video)

Ocala: Nearly a decade after the event was held amid a crime spree, a federal judge Wednesday ruled that the city violated the Constitution in organizing and carrying out a prayer vigil. (Video)

The Panhandle

 Tallahassee: A new law taking effect July 1 requires Floridians who get food benefits and are 18-59 with no one under 18 in their household to complete 80 hours per month of employment workforce training. (Video)

Destin: Whiskey Fest debuts Friday and Saturday at the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. Music group Jefferson Starship is headlining the “celebration of exquisite whiskeys.” (Get Tickets Here)

Texas Sports

➤ Yandy Diaz has tied the Tampa Bay Rays hitting streak record at 19 games after recording two hits in a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. Diaz will have a chance to break the 15-year record tonight against the Washington Nationals. (More)

 The Gators athletics program placed fourth in the 2023-24 LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup standings. Florida is the only program to finish among the nation’s top 10 in each of the last 40 national all-sports standings. (More)

➤ Seven athletes from the Tampa Bay Area are competing at the 2024 Paris Olympic games starting July 26. (See List)

Yesterday’s Results: MLB | Copa América

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The Business Of Texas

Palm Beach International Airport announced Wednesday that Porter Airlines will offer nonstop service from West Palm Beach to Toronto, Canada, starting in November. (More)

Meanwhile, Breeze Airways announced it will add direct flights to Fort Myers from Burlington, Vermont on Mondays and Fridays starting October 4. (Video)

Miami private equity giant H.I.G. Capital announced Monday the closing of its latest fund, H.I.G. Infrastructure Partners, which surpassed $1.3 billion in capital commitments. (More)

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Et Cetera

A K-9 police dog named Streeter jumped from a bridge to pursue three suspects who had been cornered and jumped after a drive-by shooting in Pensacola. (Video)

“Florida Man: The Joy of Chaos” is a new video game coming out later this year for PCs where the main character causes mischief around the fictional “Floridale.” (More)

A Caribbean flamingo hatched at Zoo Miami after 28 days of incubating. (See Photos)

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The Polling Station

Have you ever visited a Buc-ee’s gas station?

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Thursday’s Results:

Will you participate in early voting in Florida for the presidential election?

    1. Yes: 60.6%
    2. No: 39.4%
Texas Trivia

Where in Florida would you find Fort Jefferson?

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