News Update for 06/11/24

A Polk County woman is accused of robbing the place she used to work. Lakeland Police announced yesterday that Iesha Williams was arrested for robbing the McDonald’s where she used to work on South Florida Ave. Police say she wore a mask, but employees recognized her anyway. She was found about half-an-hour later and arrested. The LPD says she confessed. The 33-year-old is facing charges that include robbery with a firearm.

The sentencing trial continues today for Zephen Xaver. Xaver is facing the death penalty after he pleaded guilty to shooting the 5 victims at SunTrust Midtown Bank Branch in Sebring in 2019. State prosecutors gave their opening statements yesterday, where they detailed what happened in the moments before and after the women’s deaths. Xaver claims voices in his head made him commit the crimes. The penalty phase is expected to take several weeks.

Governor Ron DeSantis says Florida is ranked number one in education nationwide and now the teachers are being rewarded. Yesterday while speaking in Hialeah the governor announced a record one-point-25 billion dollar increase for teacher pay for 2024-25. Governor DeSantis says the average teacher salary will jump from 40-thousand to 48-thousand in the upcoming budget. And every penny will go into teacher’s pockets.

And there is a new tool designed to help solve cases in Florida. Attorney General Ashely Moody was in Tampa earlier today to talk about new playing cards that display information about local cold cases. Moody says there are currently about 20-thousand open homicide investigations in the state. The goal is to distribute more than five-thousand decks to jails and prisons to try to generate new leads from inmates. Similar efforts in other states, like Connecticut and South Carolina, have led to more than two dozen solved cases.

The School Board of Highlands County is seeking a new principal for Sun N’ Lake Elementary School in Sebring. Assistant Principal Jessica Lowe was slated to fill the vacant position but has since accepted a principal position in Okeechobee County. The principal position is currently being advertised with a closing date of June 19th for applicants.

JPMorgan Chase is planning a major expansion project in Central Florida. The company is planning to add a total of 13 bank branches in the area, including three on the Space Coast, over the next three years. The move is part of a multi-billion-dollar effort to add five-hundred locations and hire 35-hundred workers by 2027.

NASA astronauts at the International Space Station will stay up there for at least another week. Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station onboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft last Wednesday. This marked the capsule’s first crewed mission. NASA and Boeing gave an update yesterday, saying the astronauts will return to Earth no earlier than Tuesday, June 18th in order to allow engineers to keep an eye on three small helium leaks. The initial plan was for the flight crew to spend only a week at the ISS before making their way back home.

Work is underway across South Florida to prepare for heavy rain. The National Weather Service has a Flood Watch in effect through tomorrow night. As much as eight inches of rain could fall in Southwest Florida and the Lake Okeechobee region. Up to five inches could fall across the east coast metro area. Crews from the South Florida Water Management District were lowering canals yesterday to avoid flooding. City employees in Hollywood were clearing storm drains. The city manager tells CBS News Miami we’re trying to be very proactive much more than we ever have been.

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