News Update for 06/14/24

Jurors in the Zephen Xaver penalty trial started Thursday morning off by hearing testimony from Imani Davis, on-again and off-again girlfriend of Xaver. Davis said she met Xaver sometime between 2014 and 2015 online. Around 2018, Davis and Xaver broke up and lost communication but on the day of the murders, Xaver reportedly resumed contact via text messages. Testimony was also heard from Erika Chevillot, an acquaintance who met Xaver in boot camp and Dr. Greg Pritchard, a licensed psychologist. His expert testimony revealed he did not believe Xaver suffers from severe auditory hallucinations. Court resumes at 8:30 AM this morning and the families of the victims are expected to give their impact statements.

Commercial air service is back in Polk County. An Avelo Airlines flight took off yesterday from Lakeland Linder International Airport to New Haven, Connecticut. It’s the first commercial airline flight at the airport in twelve years. Avelo will fly twice a week, Thursdays and Sundays, and it gives residents a more convenient option than Orlando or Tampa. County Commissioner Martha Santiago says the passengers on the inaugural flight were making history.

A price gouging hotline is open while a state of emergency remains in place for South Florida communities impacted by flooding. Attorney General Ashley Moody activated the state’s phone line earlier today to protect residents from falling victim to scams during and after the storm. The emergency order is in place for Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, and Sarasota counties.

Florida is bracing for another day of flooding downpours. The National Weather Service says heavy to excessive rainfall will continue to bring flooding to the southern Florida Peninsula today, “with locally considerable flash and urban flooding possible.” The Weather Prediction Center has issued a level 2 flood threat for south Florida. Thunderstorm activity in the region is expected to subside by the weekend, but forecasters say flash flooding and urban flooding will remain possible through Saturday.

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis’s budget signing on Wednesday is delivering $5.7 million to Florida Polytechnic University for the design of its planned Student Achievement Center. The funding will come through Florida’s Public Education Capital Outlay program for the budget year beginning July 1. The Student Achievement Center, planned for a space near the main building on the Lakeland campus, will provide study spaces, an auditorium and collaborative multimedia spaces. It will offer space for both faculty and staff and will help accommodate expected student body growth in the coming years.

South Florida airports are taking a major hit while heavy downpours continue to impact the area. FlightAware is tracking more than 300 cancellations and more than 300 delays at Miami International Airport. At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, travelers are trying to figure out new plans after more than 140 flights were grounded due to weather. Officials are warning drivers to use caution as they make their way to the terminals and watch out for partial road closures near the airport.

The FAA is looking at what impact future SpaceX launches may have on the environment. The federal agency held a public information meeting yesterday at Kennedy Space Center. The FAA is studying how Starship and Super Heavy launches could affect air and water quality. A Titusville resident attended the meeting because he’s worried about losing oyster and clam beds. He said he supports the space system, but there needs to be a balance.

South Florida can expect another wet day. The National Weather Service has a Flood Watch in effect today for Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties and Southwest Florida. The NWS says 12 inches of rain have fallen over South Florida since Tuesday. We could get another four inches today. Looking ahead, the NWS is calling for showers through next Thursday.

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