When Trump asked for a 'number' to support his claims of record approval ratings, Hope Hicks gave him a Tennessee GOP poll: 'I mean, I had to give him something, right?'
Trump "didn't seem to process" that the approval rating he was citing was lower than his ratings among Republicans nationwide, per Mark Leibovich.news.yahoo.com
Democrat wins congressional seat in Florida special election
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick has won the race for Florida's 20th congressional district. She was heavily favored to win the election, since the district leans blue. She is filling a seat that was left vacant by Congressman Alcee Hastings, who died in April 2021. CBS News political associate producer Aaron Navarro joined CBSN's Lilia Luciano to discuss.news.yahoo.com
Florida Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime
A Florida man was charged with federal hate crime in Ocala for setting fire to a church. According to the indictment, Shields intentionally set fire to the Queen of Peace Catholic Church on July 11, 2020. Shields is charged with one count of intentional damage to religious property, a hate crime charge that falls under the Church Arson Prevention Act, and one count of using fire to commit a felony. If convicted, Shields faces a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment for intentionally damaging religious property. Shields faces an additional mandatory minimum of 10 years for using fire to commit a felony.justice.gov
Motorcyclist, bear killed in collision on Marion County road
FHP reported a motorcyclist hit a bear near the Ocala National Forest. This story was originally published on Click Orlando: https://www.clickorlando.com/traffic/2021/03/12/motorcyclist-dies-after-striking-bear-on-marion-county-road/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=snd&utm_content=wkmg6MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A 42-year-old Ocala man and a bear were killed late Thursday in a motorcycle crash in Marion County, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The fatal wreck was reported at 11:02 p.m. on State Road 40 at State Road 19 near the Ocala National Forest. 40 when he struck the bear, which was in the westbound lane of the road. The bear also died, troopers said.
Ernst wins Drive On Championship for 3rd LPGA Tour title
Albane Valenzuela misses a putt during the final round of the LPGA Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala in Ocala, Florida on Sunday, March 7, 2020. [Alan Youngblood/Special to the Ocala Star-Banner]OCALA, Fla. – Austin Ernst won the Drive On Championship on Sunday for her third LPGA Tour title, pulling away to beat fellow former NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho by five strokes at Golden Ocala. She won the NCAA title in 2011. It’s just unfortunate that’s when mine came for the week.”Winless on the tour, the former 23-year-old former Wake Forest star from Colorado won the NCAA title in 2018 and the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019. Nelly Korda, tied with Ernst and Kupcho for the first-round lead, had weekend rounds of 76 and 75 to tie for 28th at even par.
DeSantis: Age, not jobs will decide vaccine eligibility in Florida moving forward
Ron DeSantis said Friday the state will vaccinate based on age, not profession, as it moves forward with the next phase of the vaccine rollout. “If you’re 60, you’re going to be able to go. With the rough outline of how the vaccine rollout will happen going forward, DeSantis has again chosen to break with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The state is working on a plan to distribute those doses that will likely concentrate on law enforcement officers, DeSantis said. Health experts believe that once more of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available the state should be able to vaccinate more people in different age groups.
Florida’s first Buc-ee’s travel center opens to large, excited crowd
WORLD GOLF VILLAGE, Fla. – The Texas-based chain known for operating the world’s largest convenience stores opened its first travel center in Florida early Monday morning. Kristi Gamble left her Orlando home about 1:30 a.m. not to miss being there when the store opened. The new location on World Commerce Parkway in St. Johns County is 52,600 square feet and has 104 fueling positions. More than 2,000 people signed a petition opposing the development in 2019, citing traffic concerns and a worse quality of life. “But that’s what development is for, it highlights this area right over here that it can be a stop -- as long as it is managed well.”AdJill Olsen, who lives just down the road, is even more concerned.
Report: Prison failed to protect women inmates from staff
OCALA, Fla. – A Florida women’s prison has likely violated inmates’ constitutional rights by failing to protect them from sexual abuse by staff, federal investigators announced Tuesday. The Justice Department provided the prison with written notice and suggested minimum remedial measures that include installing additional video surveillance and adopting new policies to protect inmates, officials said. “Prison officials have a constitutional duty to protect prisoners from harm, including sexual abuse by staff,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said in a statement. The investigation found that sexual abuse by staff was frequent at Lowell and that the women remain at substantial risk, officials said. Prisoners are discouraged from reporting sexual abuse, and investigations of sexual abuse allegations are inadequate, investigators said.
Justice Department Alleges Conditions at Lowell Correctional Institution Violate the Constitution
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida today concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the conditions at Lowell Correctional Institution (Lowell) in Ocala, Florida, violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. Specifically, the department concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that Lowell fails to protect prisoners from sexual abuse by the facility’s staff. Our investigation found that staff sexually abused women incarcerated at Lowell and that these women remain at substantial risk of sexual abuse by staff. In addition, prisoners are discouraged from reporting sexual abuse and investigations of sexual abuse allegations are inadequate. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.justice.gov
716 acres donated to Land Trust in critical O2O wildlife corridor
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 700 acres of Welaka Woods property has been donated to the North Florida Land Trust. The 716-acre conservation easement is in the critical Ocala to Osceola wildlife corridor. The donation was made by Welaka Woods, LLC. “Welaka Woods is in a significant recharge area for the Floridan aquifer which is a vital drinking water source. This conservation easement donation helps to further the goals of the O2O partnership by conserving this land for the future of the wildlife and forests.
Ocala police chief killed in plane crash
Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham was killed in a plane crash Sunday morning, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies and Marion County Fire Rescue responded around 11:30 a.m. to the plane crash in the area of Southwest 140th Avenue in Dunnellon. First responders located the single-engine private plane and discovered the pilot, who was the sole occupant of the plane, had died. The pilot was identified as Graham, according to the Sheriff’s Office. “The family of Chief Greg Graham, Ocala Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and all who knew Chief Graham experienced a tragedy today,” said Sheriff Billy Woods.
Sheriff: Investigation underway after human remains found
OCALA, Fla. – Detectives are trying to find out how a second set of human remains ended up on a north Florida property. Marion County Sheriff's officials said in a Facebook post that they executed a search warrant on Monday at an abandoned property in the Florida Highlands after receiving information from the neighboring Alachua County Sheriff's Office. On Tuesday, detectives and other officials excavated the lot and found human remains. It was the second set of remains found on the property. Sheriff’s officials said separate investigations are ongoing and the cases are believed to be unrelated.
Here's why swing-state North Carolina is 'smack in the middle' of the 2020 election
U.S. President Donald Trump points to a delegate at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 24, 2020. Former Vice President Biden, whose campaign until recently had been largely virtual due to the pandemic, has visited North Carolina three times since February. "Most paths to the White House go through North Carolina," said Chris Cooper, professor of political science at Western Carolina University. Five of them included winning North Carolina. "If the Republicans don't win North Carolina, it suggests the GOP stranglehold of the South is lessening and may be gone."cnbc.com
Police arrest 2 for burglary after finding wallets with licenses at the scene
OCALA, Fla. – Two Florida men are behind bars after the Marion County Sheriff’s Office says they left their wallets with driver’s licenses at the scene of a burglary. The Sheriff’s Office says Robert Hobby, 41 and Marcus Reeves, 23, face 14 charges total for grand theft and burglary. The Sheriff’s Office the duo broke into convenience stores and stole cigarettes and lottery tickets. In addition to leaving their wallets and licenses behind the two were seen on surveillance cameras smoking the stolen cigarettes in the stores.
Trump makes campaign stops in Georgia and Florida, and holds White House event for seniors in Florida
President Trump made campaign stops on Friday in Florida and Georgia, and held an official White House event that might as well have been a rally. At his 90-minute rally in Macon, Georgia, Mr. Trump criticized NBC News after his contentious town hall with journalist Savannah Guthrie. "Can you imagine if Joe Biden was treated like Guthrie treated us, not me, it's us," Mr. Trump said. At a White House event in Fort Myers, Florida, for seniors earlier Friday, Mr. Trump said was "well aware" that "America's 54 million seniors have borne the heaviest burden of the China virus." The light at the end of the tunnel is near," Mr. Trump said.cbsnews.com
North Florida Land Trust acquires land to protect Florida scrub-Jay habitat
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – North Florida Land Trust and its partners have acquired 25 acres in the O2O Wildlife Corridor that is an important habitat for the Florida scrub-jay, the organization announced this week. The Florida scrub-jay is a federally threatened species. NFLT said it worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, Ocala National Forest, and the U.S. “The Ocala National Forest is very excited that North Florida Land Trust purchased this property, which will forevermore protect a piece of rare Florida scrub habitat,” said Carrie Sekerak, deputy district ranger for the Ocala National Forest. NFLT leads the O2O Wildlife Corridor Partnership, an effort by public and private organizations to accelerate land conservation within the O2O.
Man arrested after driving through Ocala church, setting it on fire
MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A driver plowed into a Florida church and then set it on fire as parishioners prepared for mass Saturday, but no one was hurt, authorities said. All parishioners were able to escape the church without injuries, and Marion County Fire Rescue was able to extinguish the flames quickly. The damage caused to the church was described in the report as extensive, and since it exceeded more than $1,000 in value resulted in a burglary charge. According to the police report, Shields told deputies he targeted the Catholic Church because of a “mission.” He also indicated during the interview that he had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, but had not been taking his medication. He is being held in the Marion County Jail with no bond.
Wall Street-owned loans tricky for hoteliers in virus era
FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2019 file photo, developer Danny Gaekwad talks about the roof top bar on his Hilton Garden Inn hotel that is presently under construction in Ocala, Fla. Since the coronavirus crisis started, hotel owners say they are struggling to get relief on a type of loan that Wall Street investors buy. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner via AP)
Man pleads guilty to having Molotov cocktails at DCF office
OCALA, Fla. A Florida man accused of trying to throw a Molotov cocktail at a child welfare office faces up to 10 years in federal prison. Tommy Lee Holt, 26, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Ocala federal court to possession of an unregistered destructive device in the form of an incendiary bomb, according to court records. Witnesses said Holt lit the wick of one device but dropped it before throwing it at the building. A deputy who apprehended Holt said the man was holding a lighter and wreaked of gasoline. A criminal complaint said Holt has five minor children, all of whom have been placed in foster care by the agency.
2 charged in 2019 shooting death of Putnam County man
INTERLACHEN, Fla. – The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office on Monday announced the arrest of two men in connection with the 2019 shooting death of a 21-year-old man in Interlachen. Hargrove was extradited from Ohio to Putnam County where he was charged with homicide and remains in the Putnam County Jail on a $105,000 bond. Howell was arrested on June 4 on the charge of homicide and remains in the Putnam County Jail on a $100,000 bond. The vehicle pulled from the parking area and onto State Road 20 at a high rate of speed, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Two other suspects are under investigation, the Sheriff’s Office said, but were not identified.
Report: Florida drive-in is the only U.S. theater showing new movies
OCALA, Fla. – There’s no natural disaster or worldwide pandemic that can convince John Watzke to close his drive-in theater in Ocala. Even as movie theaters across the country shut down to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Watzke and his small Ocala Drive-In theater continue to show new films and classics to moviegoers desperate for a night out. “Anybody that knows me and knows the drive-in knows I don’t close,” Watzke, 63, told Vice. Only 14 movie theaters were open in the U.S. last week, according to Deadline, and 13 were drive-in theaters. “I’m taking every precaution possible.”This weekend, the theater is showing ‘Trolls World Tour’, ‘E.T.’ and ‘Resistance.'
Ocala woman wins $397 million in Powerball drawing
Sheryll Goedert, 61, managing member of Vacation Life LLC, claimed the $396.9 million jackpot from the POWERBALL® drawing, the Florida Lottery announced. The next POWERBALL drawing will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, March 11, at 10:59 p.m. National POWERBALL drawings are broadcast live, in high-definition, from the Florida Lottery’s state of the art draw studio in Tallahassee. Drawings are also available for viewing on the Florida Lottery website. Winning numbers are available on the Lottery website, at retailers statewide and by phone at (850) 921-PLAY.
Rare rainbow snake spotted in Ocala
OCALA, Fla. – A woman recently reported stumbling upon a 4-foot Rainbow Snake (Farancia erytrogramma) while hiking in the Ocala National Forest. The rare snake hasn’t been seen in the county in more than 50 years! The Florida Museum of Natural History confirms this is the first record of this species in Marion County since 1969! “Our biologists speculate the recent drawdown of Rodman Reservoir had this rainbow snake on the move,” FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said. The snake spends most of its life hidden.
Federal Court Bars Florida Tax Return Preparer and His Business From Preparing Tax Returns
On Feb. 14, 2020, a federal court in Ocala, Florida, entered a permanent injunction against Philip Mott Harris II and his business, 24/7 Tax Services LLC, barring them from preparing federal tax returns for others and owning or operating a tax preparation business, the Justice Department announced today. The court also ordered that Harris and 24/7 Tax Services LLC disgorge $544,874.56, representing the ill-gotten gains that they received for the preparation of tax returns. Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. The IRS has information on its website for choosing a tax preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers. In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers.justice.gov
Boy, 9, charged with attempted murder of 5-year-old sister
OCALA, Fla. – A 9-year-old boy has been charged with trying to kill his 5-year-old sister by stabbing her with a kitchen knife inside their Florida apartment last month, officials said. The boy was charged Tuesday with attempted first-degree murder and appeared in court on Wednesday in Ocala, prosecutors said. When she returned, she said she found the boy stabbing his sister with a kitchen knife in a bedroom. The child told investigators he thought of killing his sister two days before the Jan. 28 stabbing, Ocala police said. The public defender's office is awaiting results of a competency examination that will determine whether the boy understands the charges, the Ocala Star-Banner reported.
Florida boy, 9, charged with attempted murder in stabbing of 5-year-old sister
OCALA, Fla. – A 9-year-old Ocala boy faces attempted murder charges in the stabbing of his 5-year-old sister, according to police. The girl was airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville with multiple stab wounds, according to Ocala police. When she returned home, she said she walked into a room and saw her son stabbing his sister with a kitchen knife, according to authorities. The mom said she was able to grab the knife away from the boy, according to police, who added that the boy ran away. The boy told officers the thought to kill her entered his mind two days ago, according to an arrest affidavit.
US Navy dropping live bombs in Ocala
OCALA, Fla. – If you hear loud booming sounds, don’t worry it’s just the Navy dropping bombs in the middle of Florida. The Naval Air Station in Jacksonville is conducting live and inert bomb training at Pinecastle Range Complex in the Ocala National Forest. The range complex is about 2 miles west of the Camp Ocala campgrounds and near several hiking trails. It's common for F-18 jet fighters and other Navy aircraft to drop bombs in the middle of the range. Anyone who has a noise complaint is asked to call the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility in Jacksonville at 800-874-5059.
Ocala boy battling cancer gets surprise from country music star Kelsea Ballerini
A blind Ocala boy battling brain cancer was brought to tears when he opened a special gift that arrived in the mail on Tuesday. Ayden Morgan, 9, pulled a guitar sent from country music star Kelsea Ballerini out of the box. (Credit: Tiffany Henke)During the meet and greet, the pair connected about their love for music and playing different types of instruments, including the electric guitar. It seems Ayden really touched Ballerini as her sweet gift arrived almost six months after. Ayden was born with a very rare brain cancer that left him completely blind since the age of 3.
Florida mother, her 4 kids found dead
Casei Jones, 32, and her children, who range in age from 1 to 10, were last seen about six weeks ago in the Ocala, Florida, area, the sheriff's office said. On Sunday, Michael Jones crashed his van near Brantley County in southeast Georgia, about 150 miles north of Jones' last known Florida address. Deputies "smelled a foul odor" coming from Michael Jones' van, according to a Brantley County Sheriff's Office press release. Marion County officials said a warrant for second-degree murder charges has been issued for Jones' arrest. "True evil poked its head up here in Marion County," Sheriff Billy Woods said.
Red-cockaded woodpecker makes comeback in Florida
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A red-cockaded woodpecker captured at Camp Blanding in Clay County is evidence that a project led by North Florida Land Trust to preserve land within the Ocala to Osceola (O2O) wildlife corridor is working. The unusual thing about this particular bird is where it came from, the Osceola National Forest 27 miles away. The creation of this wildlife corridor has been a group effort with now more than 18 conservation agencies and nonprofits participating, including groups like the National Forest Service, Florida National Guard and USDAs Natural Resource Conservation Service. These public-private partnerships can have an impact thats well beyond what the Federal government could accomplish on its own, says Russell Morgan, Florida NRCS state conservationist. North Florida Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that champions environmental protection in its primary, 11-county focus area of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Union, Columbia and Volusia counties.