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3 Florida panthers die in early 2012, after 24 deaths, 32 births documented in 2011

AC_Beyond2012E  Florida panthers are off to a rough start in 2012, with three deaths documented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Last year, 24 Florida panther deaths were recorded, but FWC biologists also observed 11 radio-collared females giving birth to 32 panther kittens. Overall, the known number of newborn panthers in 2011 appears to have offset the known number of panther deaths.

Today, an estimated 100 to 160 adults of this federally endangered species live in Florida. Panthers almost disappeared from the wild in this state when their numbers fell to fewer than 30 in the 1970s. Since then, their population has been increasing.

Collisions with vehicles continues to be the greatest source of human-caused mortality to this long-tailed cat that can weigh up to 160 pounds and grow to 6 feet or longer.

Already, in just the first week of 2012, there were two documented deaths of panthers hit by vehicles on highways in Collier County, where the greatest concentration of panthers in the state is found. The third fatality was caused by a fight with another panther. Among the 24 documented panther deaths in 2011, nine deaths, or more than a third, were due to collisions with vehicles.

“Florida panther deaths are most often the result of one of two things:  collisions with vehicles or aggression from other panthers,” said Kipp Frohlich, head of the Imperiled Species Management Section at the FWC. “We can’t control panthers fighting when they are defending their territory; that is a part of nature. But we can do something about human-caused panther mortalities.”

“People who slow down and drive carefully in rural areas, especially where panther crossings are identified, can make a difference in conservation of this endangered species. It is especially important to slow down and keep a careful lookout at dawn or dusk, when panthers are most likely to be on the move,” Frohlich said.

The FWC continues to work with many partners to conserve and increase habitat available to panthers on both public and private lands. This is a critical step to ensuring the survival of panthers, the official state animal of Florida.

People are encouraged to report sightings of an injured or dead panther by calling the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone. Another option is texting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (standard usage fees may apply).

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FloridaWorks receives $5 million healthcare and biomanufacturing training grant

AC_Beyond2012E  GAINESVILLE – FloridaWorks is partnering with local businesses to provide on-the-job-training (OJT) opportunities through a new Healthcare and Biomanufacturing Occupations Training Program (HBOT).

The program, which can be implemented over the next four years, is made possible through a $5 million grant from the United States Department of Labor.

Funding for the program comes from H1B visa fees collected from employers hiring foreign workers. HBOT encourages employers to hire and train for the employer’s specific needs, and are required to hire and train unemployed adults and retain them in employment after the HBOT funded on-the-job training period ends. It is anticipated that this program will provide over 200 unemployed people in the region with new employment opportunities.

The HBOT program is specifically designed to assist the healthcare and biomanufacturing companies in Alachua and Bradford counties, by reimbursing them with up to 90 percent of salaries to train local workers on the job. FloridaWorks will accept applications from employers to hire workers under the program.

FloridaWorks, the Alachua Bradford Regional Workforce Board, is a workforce investment board comprised of 37 local community leader board members.

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Basic and Advanced Storm Spotter Class

CommunityInterestACBeyondALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Alachua County Emergency Management, in cooperation with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, is sponsoring a Basic and Advanced Storm Spotter class on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The class will be held at the Alachua County Public Health Auditorium (224 SE 24th Street, Gainesville). This class is free and open to the public.

Alachua County Emergency Management Director, David Donnelly said, "Severe weather is a fact of life in Florida, and Alachua County is looking for a few good volunteers." He continued, "Even with advancements in technology, such as Doppler radar, government officials must still rely on a network of trained volunteers to become their eyes and ears on the ground to provide better weather watch and warning services. You can be the one to make a difference, and be an asset to our community."

For more information or to register, contact Alachua County Emergency Management at 352-264-6500 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Road and Lane Closures for January 7 - 13, 2012

CommunityInterestACBeyondLAKE CITY – The following is a list of roadwork underway by the Florida Department of Transportation that may impact traffic.

 ALACHUA COUNTY:

Archer Road (State Road 24) Nighttime lane closures at Southwest 40th Avenue to extend the left turn lane.

 East University Avenue (State Road 26) Daytime lane closures near Northeast 43rd Street to repair sidewalk.

 Interstate 75 No lane closures expected at the northbound exit ramp to Newberry Road (State Road 26) where the ramp is being widened. The speed limit is reduced to 60 mph. Semi-trucks are allowed to use the northbound inside lane approaching the Newberry Road interchange. The sidewalk on the south side of the overpass between the northbound and southbound exit ramps remain closed. Pedestrians are directed to use the sidewalk on the north side of the road.

 Interstate 75 frontage road (April Boulevard) Daytime lane closures from US 441 to the end of the road to resurface.

 Main Street (State Road 329) Daytime lane closures from Williston Road (State Road 331) to North Eighth Street to repaint the roadway markings.

 Southwest 13th Street (US 441) Daytime lane closures south of Archer Road (State Road 24) to modify sidewalk and driveways on both sides of the road to make improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists. The work is being overseen by the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

Southwest 34th Street (State Road 121) Crews will be repainting the roadway lines between Williston Road (State Road 331) and West University Avenue (State Road 26) which is a moving operation.

 State Road 121 Crews will be repainting the roadway lines from US 441 to the Union County line which is a moving operation.

US 27/41 Daytime lane closures from the Levy County line to US 441 in High Springs to repaint the roadway markings.

 US 301 Crews will be repainting the roadway lines between the Bradford and Marion county lines which is a moving operation.

 Waldo Road (State Road 24) Daytime lane closures just north of Northeast 39th Avenue for construction of a driveway and a right turn lane.

 BAKER COUNTY:

County Road 125 (Manntown Bridge) Daytime lane closures to replace the bridge by installing piers for the new bridge foundation.  The bridge is scheduled to be closed to all traffic beginning January 16 for four months for bridge replacement. Traffic will be detoured to Mud Lake Road (County Road 130) to State Road 121 to I-10 and back to CR 125.

 East Boulevard Possible daytime lane closures at the railroad crossing just south of US 90 in Macclenny to allow CSX Railroad to widen the crossing to provide sidewalks.

 Sixth Street (State Road 121) Crews will be repainting the roadway lines from US 90 to the Union County line which is a moving operation.

BRADFORD COUNTY:

Pratt Street Possible daytime lane closures to build sidewalk on the north and west side of the road between State Road 100 and Myrtle Street in Starke.

US 301 Crews will be repainting the roadway lines between the Alachua and Clay county lines which is a moving operation.

 CLAY COUNTY:

County Road 315C No lane closures expected as crews place sod along the newly widened lanes between Christian Camp Road (County Road 214) and Blanding Boulevard (State Road 21).

 COLUMBIA COUNTY:

Branford Highway (SR 247) Work is scheduled to begin on adding a northbound right turn lane onto Bascom Norris Road. Utility companies have approximately 40 days to move their utility lines off the east side of the road which should not impact traffic.

Interstate 10 Nighttime lane closures begin Sunday night at 9 p.m. through 6 a.m. Monday and continue each night during the week to repave the on and off ramps at US 41 (Exit 301) and US 441 (Exit 303). Daytime lane closures for replacing the motorist aid call box pads and on drainage improvements on both sides of the interstate. Also, may begin installing guardrail in the median which will require the inside lanes to be closed during the daytime. The speed limit is reduced to 60 mph during lane closures. No lane closures allowed Friday (after 6 a.m.) through Sunday.

 Interstate 75 Daytime lane closures for northbound traffic from the Alachua County line to north of the US 41/441 overpass in Ellisville to place the final layer of asphalt. This work was postponed from last week due to cold weather. The speed limit is reduced to 60 mph during lane closures.  No lane closures allowed from Friday at 6 a.m. through Sunday at 9 p.m.

 Interstate 75 Daytime lane closures for northbound traffic two miles north of US 90 at the railroad overpass Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for routine bridge maintenance.

 US 41/441 Daytime lane closures from US 90 to the Alachua County line to repaint the roadway markings.

 US 90 Daytime lane closures between the Baker and Suwannee counties to repaint the roadway markings.

 HAMILTON COUNTY:

Interstate 75 Day and nighttime lane closures between US 129 (Exit 451) and State Road 6 (Exit 460) for replacing deficient asphalt and sealing the bridge joints on the Alapaha River Bridge and railroad overpass as well as placing the final roadway markings. The speed limit is reduced to 60 mph during lane closures.  No lane closures allowed from Friday at 6 a.m. until Sunday at 9 p.m.

Interstate 75 The southbound agricultural inspection station at mile marker 446 is closed until February while a new station is built.  All livestock is redirected to the FDOT weigh station at mile marker 451 which is north of the closed agricultural inspection station.

 LEVY COUNTY:

Alternate 27 Crews will be repainting the roadway lines between US 129 in Chiefland and the Marion County line which is a moving operation.

 MADISON COUNTY:

Interstate 10 Daytime lane closures at the Suwannee River bridge and the overflow bridge Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to take samples from the roadway approaches to the bridges.

State Road 6 Daytime lane closures from US 90 to the Hamilton County line to trim trees.

State Road 53 Daytime lane closures from US 90 to the Georgia line to repair the asphalt.

State Road 145 Daytime lane closures to place sod on the shoulders and install guardrail in areas between Hanson and the Georgia line.

 US 90 Daytime lane closures from Greenville to the Jefferson County line to clean ditches.

 US 90 Daytime lane closures across from Country Kitchen Road for Progress Energy to construct a turn lane and upgrade their driveway.

 SUWANNEE COUNTY:

Interstate 10 Daytime lane closures between US 90 (Exit 275) and US 129 (Exit 283) to work on the shoulders and place guardrail in the median. The speed is reduced to 60 mph during lane closures. No lane closures allowed Friday through Sunday and lane closures are restricted to two miles.

 US 90 Daytime lane closures between the Columbia and Madison county lines to repaint the roadway markings.

 US 129 Crews will be repainting the roadway lines from US 27 to the Suwannee River which is a moving operation.

TAYLOR COUNTY:

US 27 Daytime lane closures from Jefferson Street to County Road 30 to make asphalt repairs.

US 98 Daytime lane closures for the construction of a temporary bridge across the Aucilla River at the Jefferson County line. No detours will be required for this project.

 

UNION COUNTY:

State Road 100 Work continues on the multi-use trail that follows the old Norfolk Southern rail corridor adjacent to SR 100 from State Road 238 to County Road 237.

 State Road 121 Crews will be repainting the roadway lines between the Alachua and Baker county lines which is a moving operation.

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Kayakers Paddle Entire St. Johns River

CommunityInterestACBeyond 310-Mile Journey Ends Jan. 4 at Huguenot Park in Jacksonville 

JACKSONVILLE – Matt Keene of Melbourne, Fla., and Ryan Cantey ofJacksonville, Fla., will complete their 310-mile kayak journey of the St. Johns River tomorrow at Huguenot Memorial Park at approximately 11 a.m.

Matt and Ryan began the 310-mile trip on Dec. 13 at Blue Cypress Lake near the headwaters of the St. Johns River.  The two experienced kayakers are paddling the length of the St. Johns River to raise awareness about the river and the outstanding recreational opportunities that it provides.  They are also raising awareness and collecting donations for St. Johns Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization advocating for a clean and healthy St. Johns River.

To learn about their trip and track their progress, visit http://www.marsh2mayport.com or follow them on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marsh2mayport.

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