Florida is really close to the one million mark for confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s about one out of every 22 of us here in the state. Only Texas and California have more than one million confirmed cases. Back in September, the governor lifted COVID restrictions and allowed all businesses to re-open without capacity limits. He also took authority from county governments to enact their own COVID restrictions, and removed financial penalties associated with wearing masks. Hendry and Glades Counties have seen a steady increase in cases, with Hendry County approaching 2,500 confirmed cases, up 96 since November 20th. Glades County up by six since the last report at 672.
Residents of Pahokee have launched a recall petition aimed at removing three city commissioners from office: Mayor Keith Babb, Vice Mayor Clara Murvin and commissioner Benny Everett, accusing them of malfeasance since they have refused to fire City Manager Chandler Williamson, despite three Palm Beach County Inspector General audits. The committee collected far more than the 304 signatures required by law in the first step of the recall process. Williamson said discrepancies were found by the City Clerk’s office, but Elections Supervisor Wendy Sartory Link’s office verified them. The recall committee also must take another step by circulating a second recall petition. If that petition is verified, a circuit court judge could set a date for a recall election. Mayor Babb has posted social media comments — since deleted — accusing committee members of racism by targeting three Black commissioners. The committee chairperson, who is Black, denied that accusation. The latest audit criticized Williamson for using his city-issued credit card on nearly $6,000 in personal travel since 2015, including a first-class airplane ticket to Atlanta and $500-a-night hotel rooms in Las Vegas.
In possibly the largest land donation for conservation to the University of Florida, and among the largest to the state this century, 27,000 acres is being permanently protected for conservation. Researchers expect the donation to have the potential to save endangered species, support Everglades restoration, provide vital research into best practices of cattle ranching and stave off developments. The land has a northeast border that approaches Yeehaw Junction at State Road 60 and Florida’s Turnpike. It is directly north of the state Kissimmee Prairie Reserve, and joins about 250,000 acres of protected land in that area.