Buzz: Pension Reform, Lottery Sales, Pet Adoptions and More
Bill Scheu to the Rescue
Jacksonville attorney Bill Scheu may have to start sporting a big “S” on his chest. Seemingly the go-to guy when an issue needs to be examined or resolved, he's been appointed to head a task force to review Mayor Alvin Brown’s fire and police pension reform bill. In 2012, he looked at the issue of Pell grants at FSCJ, and in 2004, he served as interim Duval County Supervisor of Elections. The pension task force plans to have a report for the mayor by mid-August.
Lottery Sales Set Record
The Florida Lottery topped $5 billion in sales for the first time, for the fiscal year ending June 30. As a result, a record $1.41 billion will be put in the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund. More than $1 billion has been transferred to the fund for the last 11 consecutive years, representing about 6 percent of the state’s total educational budget. In the previous fiscal year, the set a record of $4.45 billion in sales; $1.31 billion was transferred to the trust fund.
No One Racing to Greyhound Gambling
Been to a greyhound race to bet on the dogs lately? According to a report commissioned by the Florida Legislature, greyhound racing is a dying sport. A 307-page report says the total handle for the sport fell from $938 million in fiscal year 1990 to $265.4 million in fiscal 2012, a decline of 67 percent. The report says facilities with greyhound racing lost $35 million in 2012, while those with poker rooms, including ones in Orange Park and Jacksonville, made $39 million in 2012.
A Kick for Jacksonville?
After a 15-year hiatus, professional soccer could be returning to Jacksonville. The North American Soccer League votes in Dallas July 25 whether to add Jacksonville as an expansion team city, The Florida Times-Union reported. An ownership group was formed in May; its chief executive officer is Mark Frisch, executive vice president of Beaver Street Fisheries Co. Dan Sala, a former goalkeeper, serves as president. NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said strong support for soccer during exhibition games bolstered the city’s case for its own team.
Pumping Up Pet Adoptions
The Jacksonville Humane Society found homes for 593 cats and dogs in June, continuing to compete in ASPCA's Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. That's 214 more pets adopted this June than in June ’12, and the most successful June in more than five years. JHS Executive Director Denise Deisler said this summer's goal is 2,013 adoptions, for the $100,000 prize. More than 1,000 pets will be available during a mega pet adoption event July 26-28 at Jacksonville Fairgrounds. The adoption fee is $25 for all pets and includes spay/neutering, microchip, vaccines and city license. Free adoptions are available for those with military IDs.
First Baptist Heading South
First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is planning to buy $2 million in land in Nocatee to grow its presence in St. Johns County. The 29-acre parcel is located at the intersections of Nocatee Parkway, Crosstown Parkway and Valley Ridge Boulevard, according to the St. Augustine Record. First Baptist plans to build a church and administrative office. It currently holds services for about 400 people at Ponte Vedra High School and leases office space on C.R. 210.
Baker County Chamber Publishes Visitors Guide
What is there to do in Baker County? A new printed and digital guide, Baker County Visitors & Relocation Guide 2013, details many of the recreational activities available there, just a short drive from Jacksonville. It lists hunting, fishing, camping, horseback riding and driving all-terrain vehicles. Baker County is home to Olustee Battlefield Historic Site, the location of a Civil War battle. To get a guide, contact Baker County Chamber of Commerce at bakerchamberfl.com.