Takeaways from Tallahassee — Spin the black circle

Blue Tally Takeaways (5)
While retailers are sinking, a venerable Tallahassee record shop holds its own.

Spin the black circle

Back in the day, Tallahassee’s Gaines Street was home to industrial warehouses and derelict buildings, and the only draws were a skateboard shop and the Cow Haus concert hall.

In recent years — with the addition of such developments as CollegeTown, luxury student apartments and a Greenwise Publix — the avenue is gentrifying. The skate shop was displaced to make room for yet another hotel and Gaines Street has become a shopping and entertainment draw for university students and residents from around the city.

Tallahassee native Sharod Bines has witnessed the changes over the past decade from his store, Retrofit Records, a little shop located in a small strip center less than a mile from the Capitol.

“The foot traffic is nice,” the genial shop owner said of the metamorphosis. “I wouldn’t say it’s good for rent.”

Retrofit Records had a front-row seat to Tallahassee’s Gaines Street metamorphosis. Image via Facebook.

Bines started the store/music venue in his 20s with a partner and now operates Retrofit Records on his own. It filled a void when one of the largest record stores in the southeast closed a few years earlier, a victim of high overhead and the newfound ability for people to download and listen to their favorite tunes for the cost of a blank CD.

YouTube is now the No. 1 way people access music for free, but there still is a contingent of people who listen to music the old-fashioned way — vinyl records played on a turntable — that keep Bines in business.

“Here at the shop, we see a range of people, older people who were collecting since they were like kids and never got rid of their collections,” Bines said. “Then there’s older people who got rid of their collections in the ’90s and bought CDs. And then they regret it … and now they’re trying to buy back everything they got rid of. There’s a lot of younger people who maybe inherited their parent’s collection or grew up around records, and they know about the culture. And then there’s a lot of young people who are just getting into it because I think they think it’s a cool trend.”

In addition to albums — his inventory is about half used, 25% new releases and 25% reissues of older records — Retrofit has a smaller collection of CDs and 45s, and even a few cassette tapes. Bines also sells new and used sound equipment, art posters, apparel, buttons, postcards and such. The store also has professional production equipment, used for performances over the years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the brakes on live in-store events throughout the past year, but album sales have held steady — although you have to bring your own gloves if you want to flip through them.

Why is his business holding steady while other retailers are sinking fast?

“Music, I would equate it to a comfort food,” Bines explained in an interview with the Florida Retail Federation. “When you’re stressed out or going through something, you can always rely on music or have access to it. I think … that was something that people turned to, to provide some escapism and provide an ‘out’ when things are very stressful. When you are stuck in your home, you can’t go to shows, you can’t see live music, the next best thing is to get a record, put it on and just enjoy it.”

Bines does buy used record collections but warns you not to get too excited if you find Elvis records in your mother’s attic. “Elvis records are not rare. They pressed millions of Elvis records,” he said. “They’re very common and not worth a lot. Only one or two are actually worth quite a bit of money.”

If the attic should contain an original pressing of Prince’s Black album or the Beatles’ so-called “Butcher Cover,” you’re in luck. They’re worth thousands. The butcher cover is actually a Beatles album called “Yesterday and Today,” featuring the Fab Four dressed in butcher coats while posing with meat and dismembered baby dolls. After complaints about the imagery, the album was recalled and reissued with a less gory cover. “That’s a pretty rare album that actually came to the shop one time about four or five years ago,” Bines said.

Some customers buy albums for the cover art, while others see them as investments. But in Bines’ mind, the album’s ultimate value is in the playing — on a sound system good enough to enjoy the music.

A big mistake for budding audiophiles is to buy a cheap turntable.

“Do you know that company and all their little suitcase lines and cheap built-in speakers? A lot of people have issues and problems with those,” he said. “A lot of times, younger people will come in, they’ll buy two or three new records, and they’ve already spent more than the cost of the turntable.”

He tells them: “You’re doing it backward. Invest in the equipment upfront, and then you can always build your collection over time. There’s still records that you can get for 50 cents, a dollar, two dollars. So you can build your collection for cheap.”

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Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Jason Delgado and the staff of Florida Politics.

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Republicans declare war on Big Tech — DeSantis and Republican leaders in the Legislature unveiled the Transparency in Technology Act this week, which he stated last month would be one of his legislative priorities for the coming Session. The TIT Act includes a daily $100,000 fine for “de-platforming” candidates for office, such as when Twitter and other sites banned former President Donald Trump. The Governor leaned in hard on the proposal this week, declaring social media companies the “big tech cartel.” He appeared on Fox News and Newsmax numerous times this week to promote the bill. House Speaker Chris Sprowls also toured in support of the legislation.

Liability bill for health care filed — Lawmakers filed legislation this week to protect health care providers against frivolous lawsuits resulting from COVID-19 transmission. The pair of bills are part two of Republicans’ package to protect businesses against lawsuits if a business makes a “good faith effort” to protect against spreading COVID-19. The House Health and Human Services Committee released a draft of their proposed committee bill Friday after Sen. Jeff Brandes filed his version on Wednesday. Brandes’ does not require a physician’s affidavit for the plaintiff for a case to proceed. The affidavit has been a point of contention for Democrats, who have so far opposed the liability protection bill for general businesses.

Lawmakers scrutinize DeSantis’ budget — Lawmakers in the House and Senate had their first opportunity this week to take a deep dive into Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ proposed $96.6 billion budget. The proposal is $4.3 billion larger than the current fiscal year’s budget and makes no recommendation for increasing state revenue. Republicans and Democrats alike questioned parts of the budget, relying on federal aid to spend top dollar on the pandemic response despite predicted revenue shortfalls. The Governor was optimistic last week that Florida could continue beating revenue projections, but others, including Senate budget chief Kelli Stargel were more cautious. She warned that even recurring projects could be cut when the Senate negotiates its proposal.

Vaccinations overtake infections — COVID-19 vaccinations overtook infections this week, marking a milestone in the state’s COVID-19 response. As of Friday morning, nearly 1.9 million people have received at least one shot in Florida, including 554,502 people that have also received their booster shot. The state is approaching 1.8 million COVID-19 infections. DeSantis has focused the state’s vaccination effort on the state’s elderly population. The shot is available to residents and snowbirds aged 65 and older. This week’s latest update included expanding the houses of worship program to one multifaith collaboration at a synagogue in Aventura. DeSantis also announced that 750 shots would be reserved for homebound Holocaust survivors.

Pahokee vaccination site — Earlier this week, DeSantis was in Pahokee to open a new vaccination site in the rural and majority Black town along Lake Okeechobee. The site came online after some critics, including several Palm Beach County officials, argued the Governor is not doing enough to provide the vaccine to the county’s rural and minority communities. Publix pharmacies are the primary vehicle for administering vaccines in Palm Beach County, with all Publix locations in the county also administering shots. Shots sent to Publix come instead of being sent to county health departments or hospitals. Despite the heated political moment in the nation, DeSantis said people should stop worrying about the politics of the vaccine rollout.

Coronavirus numbers

Positive cases:

— 1,731,931 FL residents (+64,489 since Jan. 29)

— 31,942 Non-FL residents (+814 since Jan. 29)

Origin:

— 14,099 Travel related

— 654,221 Contact with a confirmed case

— 19,196 Both

— 1,044,415 Under investigation

Hospitalizations:

— 73,970 in FL

Deaths:

— 27,913 in FL

Grants available

DeSantis announced this week that more than $92 million in grant funding is available to help local governments deal with the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The funding comes through the Community Development Block Grant — Coronavirus Relief Program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Department of Economic Opportunity administers the grant fund.

Ron DeSantis announces millions in federal dollars to help local governments address COVID-19. Image via Colin Hackley.

“As Florida communities continue responding to and recovering from the pandemic, this funding will provide local governments and their communities with vital support,” DeSantis said.

DEO Executive Director Dane Eagle added, “In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, we encourage communities to take advantage of the Community Development Block Grant — Coronavirus Relief Program resource. The Department is proud to partner with local governments to put this funding to good use.”

The pre-application cycle is now open for both CDBG-CV Entitlement and Small Cities programs. The pre-application cycle is required for communities to provide project information for DEO to perform a review and provide technical assistance to applicants to ensure a project or program viability.

Successful project applications must primarily benefit low- and moderate-income residents.

Also this week, the Governor announced HUD had sent another $46.9 million in funding to Florida through the Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation fund. The money is directed toward communities that were impacted by Hurricane Michael. The DEO’s Rebuild Florida program will administer the funds.

“I appreciate the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for issuing this additional funding,” DeSantis said. “This nearly $50 million will go a long way in making the many Northwest Florida communities still recovering from Hurricane Michael more resilient to future storms.”

Projects in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty, Wakulla and Washington counties are eligible for funding.

More grants

Florida this week received a $75 million grant to help bolster community resilience against future storms.

The funding will be awarded to 30 Florida communities via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant — Mitigation program.

The money will target “critical facilities” that serve a “public safety purpose,” a news release said.

“While we continue to help communities recover from the impacts of major storms in recent years, we also need to prepare for future storms,” DeSantis said.This funding will be central to that preparation and make these communities more resilient.”

Dane Eagle’s DEO will administer $75 million in grants to boost storm resiliency.

The Department of Economic Opportunity will channel the funds through the Rebuild Florida Critical Facility Hardening Program.

The money can be used to fortify wastewater and water treatment plants, emergency shelters, and emergency facilities such as fire rescue stations.

“Gov. DeSantis continues to make the resiliency of Florida’s communities one of his top priorities, and the Rebuild Florida Critical Facility Hardening Program marks this commitment,” said Eagle. “This Mitigation funding will allow Florida’s communities impacted by recent storms to harden and fortify infrastructure that serve as a critical lifeline to those in need during a disaster.”

Veteran of the Month

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried named retired Lieutenant Colonel Ray Mobley this week as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Veteran of the Month.

Mobley served as a U.S. Army veterinarian and is a retired Florida A&M University Professor. He served 21 years, providing veterinary care to military working dogs and pets of military personnel and families.

“It’s my honor to recognize Lieutenant Colonel Ray Mobley as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ February Veteran of the Month, and to highlight his remarkable career and service, particularly during Black History Month,” Fried said.

Nikki Fried honors Ray Mobley as February’s Florida Veteran of the Month.

After retirement, Dr. Mobley served four years as a Biological Administrator at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He was responsible for training food safety personnel.

Afterward, he served as a FAMU Associate Professor in the Cooperative Extension Program. There, he provided animal medicine support to community-based clients.

Dr. Mobley retired from FAMU as a Full Professor and was awarded Professor Emeritus status in 2015.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.

He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University and his Master of Public Health from Tulane University.

‘Treasure Hunt’

In January, more than $24 million in unclaimed property was returned to Floridians, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced.

Unclaimed property is a financial asset that is lost or unknown by its owners. It can take many forms, including dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, or safety deposit boxes.

Patronis has now returned over $1.1 billion in unclaimed property since taking office in 2017, a news release notes.

Jimmy Patronis helps Floridians reclaim millions in ‘lost treasure.’

“I am thrilled to announce that during the month of January, we returned more than $24 million back to Floridians in unclaimed property,” Patronis said. “Since the fiscal year began, we have returned more than $218 million, which is especially important now more than ever. As we continue to endure the economic impacts of COVID-19, I will do everything I can to financially help Floridians get through these tough times.”

Unclaimed property returns have climbed in recent months amid the COVID-19 pandemic and elevated unemployment.

In January, Orlando, Tampa, Miami and West Palm Beach residents recovered over $19 million in unclaimed property.

“I encourage all Floridians to search now for unclaimed property at FLTreasureHunt.gov,” Patronis added.

The Florida Department of Financial Services is the custodian of unclaimed goods.

Instagram of the week

The week in appointments

Board of DentistrySara Bernard and Angela Johnson were appointed to the Board of Dentistry by DeSantis this week. Bernard, of Windemere, is a partner and real estate attorney at Holland & Knight. Bernard has served as executive director and chair of the University of Central Florida Alumni Association and was recently recognized by the Orlando Business Journal with the 2021 Women Who Mean Business Award. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the UCF and her law degree from the University of Miami. Johnson, of DeLand, is a dental hygienist at Heartland Dental. She has been involved in clinical dentistry for over 38 years and as a clinical hygiene mentor for three years. Johnson is a member of the Women’s Club of Victoria Gardens and the Volusia County Hygiene Study Club. Johnson earned an associate degree in dental hygiene at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board — DeSantis appointed Jonathan Scott Christy to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board. Christy, of Marianna, is a Trucking Supervisor for Anderson Columbia, a position he has held since 2000. He is a Commercial Driver’s License holder with over 20 years of experience in the construction industry; he is trained in pre-trip and post-trip inspection, defensive-driving and load requirements.

Lake-Sumter State College District Board of Trustees — The Governor appointed David Hidalgo, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist from Clermont, to the LSSC Board of Trustees on Friday. Hidalgo has worked at Envision Physician Services since 2006 and is a member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, National Firewood Association and the South Lake Chamber of Commerce. He earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and nursing from McNeese State University, his master’s degree in anesthesiology from Barry University and his Master of Business Administration from the UF.

9th Judicial Circuit Court — DeSantis appointed Judge Gisela Laurent, of Winter Garden, and Joshua Mize, of Winter Park, to the 9th Judicial Circuit Court. Laurent has served on the Orange County Court since 2017. She is the first female Hispanic judge appointed by a Governor to the 9th Judicial Circuit Court. She received her bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Florida. Laurent fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Patricia Doherty. Mize has been the owner of Mize Law since 2018. He previously served as an Associate at Morris, Manning & Martin. He received his bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Florida. Mize fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Gail Adams.

Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority Governing Board — DeSantis has reappointed Jim Holton to the TBARTA Governing Board. Holton of St. Petersburg is an attorney at Hall Booth Smith and the president and owner of JWH Properties, a real estate investment company. He has served on the board of Enterprise Florida, the Florida Transportation Commission, and the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Board of Governors. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his law degree and LLM from Boston University.

‘Community Champions’

February is Black History Month, and Florida celebrates with a pair of student contests and a trio of educator awards.

This year’s theme, announced by First Lady Casey DeSantis: “Community Champions — Celebrating the Contributions of African Americans in Florida’s Communities.”

“Countless contributions of Black Floridians continue to shape our communities statewide,” she said. “During Black History Month, the Governor and I look forward to recognizing and celebrating these champions of service who have made Florida stronger. I encourage students from across the state to join in these celebrations and enter our art and essay contest, as well as educators that go above and beyond to serve our students.”

Students in grades K-3 can participate in an art contest, while students in grades 4-12 can participate in an essay contest. Additionally, students, parents, teachers and principals are invited to nominate full-time educators of all student grades for the Black History Month Excellence in Education Award.

Art contest entries should be original, two-dimensional artwork based on this year’s theme. Two winners will be selected.

Essay contest entries should be no longer than 500 words and based on this year’s theme. Three winners will be selected: one elementary school student (grades 4-5), one middle school student (grades 6-8), and one high school student (grades 9-12). Each winner will receive a 4-Year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

The Black History Month Excellence in Education Award Contest is open to all full-time educators in an elementary, middle, or high school in Florida.

Three winners will be selected: one elementary school teacher (grades K-5), one middle school teacher (grades 6-8), and one high school teacher (grades 9-12). Nominations may be submitted by a principal, teacher, parent/guardian or student.

Student contest forms and educator nomination forms must be mailed to Volunteer Florida or submitted online at www.FloridaBlackHistory.com.

To view an introductory video, click on the image below:

Right to Farm

A bill expanding protections for farmers under Florida’s Right to Farm Act moves its way through the Senate committee process.

SB 88 prevents a plaintiff from recasting a lawsuit as a negligence suit or another type of claim as a means of circumventing the legal protections for farming in the Right to Farm Act. It also requires a plaintiff to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a farming activity does not comply with state and federal environmental laws, regulations or best management practices.

The bill, filed by Sen. Jason Brodeur, is a priority of Senate President Wilton Simpson, a lifelong egg farmer.

Jason Brodeur fights for the ‘Right to Farm.’ Image via Colin Hackley.

“We frequently update our laws to recognize changes in other industries, and I want to make sure our hardworking Florida farmers aren’t left behind,” Simpson said. “The Senate is committed to preserving Florida’s farms, legacy businesses that contribute to our nation’s food supply and billions of dollars to our state’s economy.”

Brodeur’s legislation also limits plaintiffs who may bring a nuisance lawsuit based on a farming activity to those located within one-half mile of the activity and limits damage awards to the market value of any property harmed by the nuisance. Unsuccessful plaintiffs would be required to pay the defendant farm’s attorney fees and costs in limited circumstances. The lawsuit was based on a farming activity complying with environmental laws and agricultural management practices.

Additionally, the bill adds agritourism to the definition of farm operations.

“Farms that conform to generally accepted agricultural and management practices should not face frivolous or nuisance lawsuits,” Brodeur said. “By modernizing the Right to Farm Act, we are striking the correct balance between residential development and critical farm work and agritourism activities.”

Where’s the remote?

Sen. Perry Thurston sent a letter to Rules Chair Kathleen Passidomo this week asking why public testimony must be delivered in Tallahassee.

The Senate currently requires public comments to be delivered via videoconferencing from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center near the Capitol. Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, says the Senate should take the next step and allow commenters to video in from their hometowns.

“Many of my constituents, and I’m sure many of yours as well, are rightfully dismayed over the limited participation currently in effect in Tallahassee,” Thurston wrote. “In conversations I’ve subsequently had with IT professionals, linking up committee hearings with other designated remote locations outside of Tallahassee is not only doable but easily accomplished.”

If everything else is virtual, Perry Thurston asks why isn’t public testimony. Image via Colin Hackley.

Passidomo, a Naples Republican, said the Senate would explore the idea, but she said it wouldn’t be easy, and it certainly wouldn’t happen this year.

“Over the last several months, we have all seen firsthand the successes and failures of various videoconferencing technologies. While we all value transparency and embrace the value of public input, our experience in implementing remote testimony at the Civic Center is just a sample of the many personnel, logistical, technological, and procedural hurdles we would need to overcome to implement the changes you have suggested,” she wrote in reply.

Fine renewed

House Speaker Sprowls reappointed Rep. Randy Fine to the Education Commission of the States.

The commission, established over 50 years ago as an interstate compact on education policy, gathers and analyzes data on education needs and resources. It also encourages research in all aspects of education.

“Rep. Fine’s record for raising standards and accountability in Florida’s education system will serve him well on the Education Commission of the States,” Sprowls said. “Rep. Fine will serve as a strong leader in this national effort to improve our schools, colleges and universities.”

Randy Fine gets another round on the Education Commission of the States, thanks to Chris Sprowls.

Ahead of the interim Session, Sprowls appointed Fine as the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman and a member of the House Education and Employment Committee.

Fine served on the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee from 2016 to 2017. From 2018 to 2020, he was the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair and served on the House Education Committee.

Last Session, he authored and passed legislation to expand Holocaust education in Florida schools, appropriate security funding for Jewish Day Schools and hold school districts more accountable. His Holocaust education bill also set in motion a process that could lead schools to teach about the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots and massacre.

Sprowls’ statement called Fine a champion for school choice who believes education is the great equalizer in the United States.

Demilitarize the police

Democratic Reps. Travaris McCurdy and Angie Nixon filed a bill this week to block local law enforcement agencies from purchasing surplus military equipment.

Under HB 187, police departments would not be allowed to “acquire, purchase or otherwise accept” specific gear, including armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, drones, grenade launchers or explosives.

Travaris McCurdy and Angie Nixon do not see the need for police to have military weapons.

The bill would also disallow the use of tear gas or “kinetic impact munitions,” such as rubber bullets and bean bag rounds, from being used against protesters.

“Research has shown that the militarization of local law enforcement through military-grade weapons, armored vehicles, combat attire, and other items provided by the Department of Defense does not reduce crime,” McCurdy said. “There is no need for law enforcement agencies to be outfitted like combat soldiers while they are tasked with protecting and serving our community. The most important thing for policymakers and the public to know is that you can’t justify giving surplus military equipment to police departments on the grounds it will lead to a reduction in crime. There is no evidence for that.”

Nixon added, “Having been a community organizer for over 10 years, I have organized and led protests fighting for underserved and underrepresented communities. I am excited to join Rep. McCurdy in filing this legislation, which will aid in the safety of countless residents and organizations that peacefully protest while exerting their first amendment rights.”

Fee relief

Maitland Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil filed a bill that would waive some graduate students’ fees at state universities.

HB 553 would apply to grad students who work at least one quarter as a graduate assistant, graduate research assistant, graduate teaching assistant, graduate research associate or graduate teaching associate.

Qualified students would be granted waivers for financial aid fees, technology fees, and capital improvement fees.

Joy Goff-Marcil looks to give grad students a break. Image via Colin Hackley.

“Graduate students at our incredible state schools carry the dual-role of being both an employee and a student,” Goff-Marcil said. “Our postsecondary school system relies on these students for proper instruction of undergraduate courses, as well as research and academic breakthroughs that keep our universities excelling and growing.”

The bill has earned the support of the Graduate Assistants United advocacy group chapters for the University of Florida and Florida State University.

“Florida does a disservice to itself by permitting its universities to impose an unreasonable burden of fees on graduate assistants,” FSU-GAU said in a statement. “Many graduate assistants earn below poverty wages even before fees are factored in. They can then find themselves denied up to nearly a third of their income because they are forced to pay it back to the university.”

Tampa Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz is sponsoring the Senate companion (SB 176).

“If our state fails to act and rectify this significant economic weight that is placed on our graduate assistants, we will continue to lose talented candidates to other states as they leave in search of greater support commensurate to the essential role they serve,” Cruz said.

‘Stay at the Scene’

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles launched a campaign this week to encourage drivers to remain at the scene of an accident.

The “Stay at the Scene” campaign aims to educate drivers on the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident. It also seeks to teach drivers how to report hit-and-run crashes to law enforcement.

“When you flee the scene of a crash, you’re not only breaking the law, you could be leaving someone who needs immediate medical attention,” said FLHSMV executive director Terry Rhodes. “While being involved in a crash can be scary, choosing to flee from the scene can have life-altering consequences. Remember: If you are involved in a crash, stay at the scene.

If in an accident, the FLHSMV says ‘stay put.’

The campaign comes hit-and-run fatalities went up 18%, while the total number of hit-and-run crashes decreased by 13% compared to 2019.

Most hit-and-run crashes happen at night or low-light hours. According to an FLHSMV analysis, 85% of all hit-and-run fatalities from 2015 to 2020 occurred during dawn, dusk, or nighttime conditions.

Notably, 137 of the year’s 254 hit-and-run deaths involved pedestrians or bicyclists.

Florida law requires that drivers remain at the scene of an accident that results in property damage, injury or death.

Turkey talk

It’s nearly turkey season in Florida, and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has launched a map to predict the quality of wild turkey habitat.

Based on a model developed for Virginia, the new map predicts good, fair or poor quality habitats based on location, amount, and habitat arrangement needed during a wild turkey’s life cycle. The map will allow FWC biologists to assess habitat sustainability on the ground.

Florida prepares for wild turkey season with an interactive map of habitats.

Habitat assessments plus sightings reported during the public 2020 Wild Turkey Summer Survey enabled biologists to predict wild turkeys’ distribution across the Sunshine State.

Turkey hunters can also use the map to plan where to hunt, with information available at a scale smaller than two basketball courts.

However, the prediction may not be accurate in areas covered beneath the main forest canopy, such as shrubs and small trees.

Spring turkey season south of State Road 70 opens March 6 and runs through April 11 on lands outside the wildlife management area system. North of State Road 70, the season opens March 20 and runs through April 25.

FWC also offers two Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends, one from Feb. 27-28, south of State Road 70, and the second from March 13-14, north of State Road 70. The weekend hunts are available to youth 15 years old and younger and occur on many wildlife management area system lands and lands outside of the WMA system.

Protect your pets

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is warning pet owners to keep their eyes peeled as the state enters peak coyote season.

Coyotes are a particularly unfriendly species of canine that love to prey on their domesticated cousins as well as cats, chickens and other animals.

While they invoke images of tumbleweeds, cactuses and dusty trails, coyotes feel right at home in the Sunshine State — FWC says they’re in every county, skulking about in rural and urban areas alike.

“Coyotes are found throughout Florida and they are part of the landscape,” said Greg Kaufmann, FWC Wildlife Assistance Program Administrator. “There is a strong possibility coyotes are in your community, even if you are living in an urban part of the state.”

Like other predators, Coyotes are mostly drawn in by food, so FWC recommends securing or removing any sources of temptation — trash bins, bags of pet food, and pets or small livestock.

“Cats should be kept inside for their protection as well as to protect songbirds and other native wildlife cats prey upon,” Kaufmann said. “When walking dogs, keep them on a short leash, especially at night, dusk or dawn, and be extra careful when walking your pet in wooded areas.”

If the indoors are a no-go for pets, FWC recommends investing in an outdoor predator-proof pen. Electric fencing is also an effective deterrent to prevent wildlife from preying on domestic animals.

The commission says coyotes can’t be placated with offerings of food, so don’t even try. Anyone who does could face a fine or be put in cuffs, assuming they walked away with their hand intact.

To learn how to “haze” (or deter), coyotes, click on the image below:

NAACP agenda

The NAACP Florida State Conference formalized its legislative agenda for the coming Session, focusing on COVID-19 and its impact on the Black community and beyond.

NAACP Florida State Conference President Adora Obi Nweze called the agenda bold and strong.

“With COVID-19 as an ongoing reminder of the pain in our communities, I call on the Governor and Department of Health to expand the number of distribution sites in communities of color and specifically the Black community,” she said. “The current rollout is inadequate and putting our lives at risk in the Black community.”

The NAACP announces a bold agenda for the 2021 Legislative Session. Image via Facebook.

However, their priorities go beyond the pandemic. Their agenda chases economic opportunity, civic engagement, environmental and climate justice, health care, criminal and juvenile justice, and education.

Backed bills include creating the Office Of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the Governor’s Office, per a bill by Sen. Lori Berman.

The group is also opposing HB 1, a priority for DeSantis and Republican leaders. That proposal, which Nweze called a “racist anti-protest bill,” aims to crack down on violent protests and protect law enforcement officials. However, critics say it’s an attempt to discourage peaceful demonstrations.

The group is also pushing for members to recognize May 20 as the appropriate “Juneteenth” date in Florida, the day Florida surrendered to the Union during the Civil War.

Corona Directions

Staff Reports


One comment

  • Chantelle Murray

    February 8, 2021 at 2:04 am

    Lots of information

Comments are closed.


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