WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the immediate availability of $50 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds for use by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as a down payment to offset costs of repair work for damage caused by Hurricane Ian earlier this month.
“Today we’re making available $50 million in emergency funds to help Florida repair roads and bridges after the devastation of Hurricane Ian,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This important step is only part of a larger federal commitment: as President Biden said, we will be with the people of Florida for as long as it takes to recover and rebuild stronger.”
“The Federal Highway Administration is working closely with the Florida Department of Transportation to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The quick release funding we are providing will help get those repairs done as soon as possible and better prepare this area for future storms in Florida.”
Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida as a strong Category 4 hurricane with storm surges in excess of 10 feet in many places and heavy rainfall for several days. The subsequent flooding damaged, washed out, and/or destroyed roadways, causeways, intersections, and bridges throughout several regions in the state. Quick release funds will be used to pay for repairs on the Sanibel Island and Pine Island Causeways in order to restore essential traffic to the islands and protect the remaining facilities. FDOT has also identified 20 critical intersections in which they indicate a need to perform emergency repairs in order to restore essential traffic.
FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funding to States, territories, Tribes, and Federal Land Management Agencies for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These “quick release” Emergency Relief funds are an initial installment of funds toward restoring this essential transportation link.
The FHWA Emergency Relief program complements Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs and provisions by encouraging agencies to identify and implement measures to incorporate resilience in the design, restoration and repair of damaged infrastructure, to better withstand future damage from climate change and future weather events. FHWA is also updating its ER Manual to spotlight the program’s impact on improvements to system resilience and the equity of infrastructure spending.
Magic Beat Raptors for Second Win in a Row
ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida National News) – The Orlando Magic (7-20) continued their winning ways against the Toronto Raptors (13-13), defeating them 113-109 , just two days after a come-from-behind overtime victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. This two game winning streak puts an end to the Magic’s previous nine game losing streak.
The Magic started strong, taking a 37-25 lead into the second quarter, led by 10 first quarter points from Franz Wagner. But the Raptors caught up to the Magic midway through the second quarter led by Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. But at halftime, the Magic held a slight lead, 67-63.
The Magic extended their lead to 94-87 with remarkably impressive scoring from Franz Wagner who added 14 points in the third quarter alone. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors tied it up 108-108 with about two minutes remaining after two free throws by OG Anunoby. Paolo Banchero made one of two subsequent free throws, and Moe Wagner drew the charge from Gary Trent Jr. to negate his two point basket. Fred Van Vleet later added a free throw to tie the game at 109-109. A Franz Wagner tip layup put the Magic up 111-109. A missed shot by Fred Van Vleet sealed the Raptors loss. Banchero’s two free throws put the Magic ahead 113-109 at the end of the game.
Franz Wagner led the scoring for the Magic with 34 points, while Paolo Banchero scored 23. Mo Bamba finished with 13 rebounds. Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz ended with 5 assists.
Several Magic players remain injured and were unable to play, including Wendell Carter Jr. (plantar fascia strain), Gary Harris (strained right hamstring), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee recovery). Isaac has started his rehab program, playing in full contact 5 on 5 practice games with the Lakeland G League affiliate, and hopes to return to the court soon for Orlando.
The Magic face the Raptors at Amway once again on Sunday, 12/11 at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to follow www.FloridaSportsChannel.com and www.FloridaNationalNews.com for more.
Gaetz friend gets 11 years for sex crime, other counts
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and other crimes.
Joel Greenberg, former tax collector for Seminole County, had pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, also including identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he paid at least one girl to have sex with him and other men.
“Nothing justifies my actions. My conduct is so shameful. I feel remorse for what I’ve done,” Greenberg said in court Thursday.
Greenberg’s attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell for leniency, saying that his client had assisted in investigations of 24 people, including eight for sex crimes. Defense attorney Fritz Scheller said that Greenberg’s cooperation has led to four federal indictments, and that he believed additional ones were expected in the coming month.
Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an investigation into his friend Gaetz over whether he paid a 17-year-old girl for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot. No charges have been brought against the Republican congressman, who represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a significant reduction in Greenberg’s prison sentence, agreeing during a court hearing on Wednesday to a reduced range of nine years and three months to 11 years. Presnell ended up imposing the upper limit of that range.
The minor in the sex crimes case was almost an adult and had advertised as being over age 18 in her escort profile on the website “Seeking Arrangements,” which facilitates “sugar daddy” relationships, Scheller wrote in court papers.
The defense attorney also said that Greenberg “has provided significant substantial assistance to the government in the areas of public corruption, election fraud, wire fraud, and sex trafficking.”
Scheller also had asked the judge to take into consideration Greenberg’s struggles with mental illness, starting with an attention deficit disorder diagnosis at age 7 and panic attacks, depressive and anxiety disorders as an adult. At the time he committed the crimes, he had bipolar disorder with symptoms of mania, which affected his judgment and impulse control, Scheller said.
Greenberg has been linked to other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none has been implicated in the sex trafficking investigation.
Some documents related to Greenberg’s cooperation were filed under seal and out of the public eye, with prosecutors and the defense attorney saying they were part of ongoing investigations being conducted by federal authorities in Florida and Washington, as well as state investigators.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023
WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.
“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.
Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.
“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”
“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.
For more information on the events, visit https://www.BuenaVistaEvents.com or https://www.MisterRogersWeekofKindness.com.
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