Buzz: Retreating Trawlers, Internet Cafés, Growlers and More
Hundreds of handcrafted, wooden shrimping trawlers used to run out of the many small ports all over the South, supplying shellfish for America. Now low-priced and often subsidized foreign, pond-raised shrimp has driven down prices, putting many U.S. shrimpers out of business. Fernandina Beach photographer John E. Adams is working on a study of the disappearing crafts, “Evanescent Trawlers of the South.” Adams started his career as a commercial salmon fisherman and sea urchin diver, then spent 20 years in the Navy. He said this project pairs his passion for boats and photography. He launched a kickstarter project to raise money to take three trips through Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina to complete the project and create a book, gallery exhibits and prints. His goal is $1,950, and he's raised more than half. The deadline is March 31.
Internet Café Investigation
Law enforcement agents and prosecutors have announced multiple conspiracy, money-laundering and racketeering charges against 57 people involved with Internet café operator Allied Veterans of the World. Law enforcement officials said the operation masqueraded as a charity with less than 2 percent of the profits going to veterans — and this is just the first wave of arrests; more charges are possible. The roles of Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba and FOP Vice President Robbie Freitas weren't revealed at a multi-agency news conference in Orlando. Officials wouldn't discuss what involvement former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll had in the case. She resigned March 12, a day after being questioned by investigators. Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis, who represented Allied Veterans, was called one of the masterminds of the $300 million racketeering scheme. Investigators claimed he received about $7 million.
Growling About Growlers
The craft beer industry is asking the Legislature to approve the sale of a new size of growlers (reusable containers for taking draft beer home). According to the bill’s summary, it's now legal for craft beer-makers to sell 32-ounce and 128-ounce bottles of beer; the brewers want the 64-ounce size legal, too. They say it's a better size for most consumers, holding about four pints. The 64-ounce growler, the industry standard, is readily available and much cheaper than 128-ounce and 32-ounce bottles, beer company officials said. The term “growler” is thought to have originated in the early 20th century, coined from the rumbling noise carbon dioxide makes when it rattles the beer pail's lid. The bill was up before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on March 14; it's been referred to three other committees.
Clay County Commissioners have unanimously voted to add “In God We Trust” to the county seal. Keystone Heights resident Lyndell Hale and First Baptist Church of Keystone Heights' Pastor Daniel Findley urged commissioners to add the phrase, The Florida Times-Union reported. Hale said he believes Clay is a Christian county. Commissioner Diane Hutchings said the words reflect “our nation’s heritage” and are on U.S. currency and government seals. An Orange Park resident, David Johnson, objected to adding the phrase, saying, “It violates the spirit, if not the wording, of the First Amendment.”
Lynching a Lapse in Judgment
A second-grade teacher who sent home a coloring assignment of a lynching may face five days suspension without pay. Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Atlantic Beach Elementary teacher Teresa Flores showed a lapse in judgment and the assignment was inappropriate for second-graders. Principal Kimberly Wright will have a letter of reprimand in her file because of the incident. The School Board votes on Vitti’s recommendation on April 2.
Firefighters Raffle Rifle
The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters is holding a raffle to give away an AR-15 rifle, to benefit local firefighters. The posting on JAF's website reads, “AR-15: Your gun … your way.” The raffle winner gets $1,200 to build out the rifle. Tickets are $10; the drawing is April 18. An AR-15 is similar to the one used by the man who murdered 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School children in Connecticut.
Schultz Center Funding
Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti believes teachers can be trained better in their schools and wants to cut 80 percent of the district’s funding to the Schultz Center for Teaching & Leadership. Vitti thinks duplications and inefficiencies muck up the way the district staff handles staff training, The Florida Times-Union reported. DCSD spent $38.1 million on training last year; $2.45 million went to Schultz Center. Vitti’s plan, if the School Board approves, would have the center hold training for only assistant and aspiring principals.
Drug House Demolished
St. Johns County crews have torn down a mobile home contaminated by methamphetamines. The Sheriff’s Office responded to multiple reports of meth labs there, St. Augustine Record reported. The Sheriff’s Office is working with the county’s code enforcement office to fight drug dwellings, especially ones where meth labs are found.
Florida Coastal School of Law launches a new program next fall to give students, who meet a set of criteria, assurances that they'll have academic success, legal work experience and pass The Florida Bar examination. If they don’t, the students will be reimbursed a portion of their tuition, Jacksonville Business Journal reported. The Coastal Law Assured Outcomes Partnership, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is designed to stem the decline of law school applications, attract better-prepared students, improve classroom discourse and retain higher quality students through graduation.