Mayor’s Seat and Four Council Seats Up For Grabs Today – Get Out and Vote

It’s election day in the City of Ocala.  The mayor’s seat and four city council seats are up for grabs, an unusual situation according to the Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox.  And even though there are more than 38,200 eligible voters in the city, turnout has historically been low.  Polls are open today until 7 pm and we’ll have the results on the Wednesday morning news.

Officials are banning alcohol at a Georgia beach for the weekend of the Georgia-Florida football matchup, hoping to discourage big crowds amid a high rate of coronavirus infections.  Commissioners in Glynn County voted 6-to-1 to prohibit possession or consumption of booze on the beach at St. Simons Island on Oct. 29 and 30.  The island has become a hotspot for Georgia Bulldog fans on their way to the big game in Jacksonville each fall, with residents referring to the surfside crowds as “frat beach.”  The annual Georgia/Florida matchup is October 30th.

If you work the stock market here’s the latest.  Stocks on Wall Street closed sharply lower Monday, mirroring losses overseas and handing the S&P 500 index its biggest drop in four months.  Worries about heavily indebted Chinese real estate developers — and the damage they could do to investors worldwide if they default — rippled across markets. Investors are also concerned that the U.S. Federal Reserve could signal this week that it’s planning to pull back some of the support measures it’s been giving markets and the economy.

Marion County Schools saw another 30% drop in the number of covid cases over the past week according to figures released by the district on Monday.  In addition the number of those needing to be quarantined dropped by 21%.  In total, 256 students and staff tested positive for the disease.  The school district is the county’s largest employer with 7000 employees and more than 42000 students.

The Florida Gators remained at the number 11 position in the nation after being beaten by Alabama on Saturday.  The Gators put on an impressive stance against the Crimson Tide following a disastrous first quarter.  The final score was 31-29. Alabama remains a the top of the heap this week followed by Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas A&M.

FBI agents and police Monday swarmed the home of the boyfriend wanted for questioning in the disappearance of 22-year-old Gabby Petito, whose body was apparently discovered over the weekend at a Wyoming national park months after the couple set out in a van on a cross-country trek.  The FBI’s Tampa office said in a tweet that it was serving a search warrant, and local media reported that 23-year-old Brian Laundrie’s parents were seen getting into a police vehicle outside the home. Agents would not comment further.  Laundrie has been missing since Tuesday but police are confident he will be located.

Pfizer said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters.  With kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.  For elementary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now. Yet after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults getting the regular-strength shots.

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did — approximately 675,000.  The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time. Like the Spanish flu, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection.

Law enforcement officials in Wyoming believe they have found the body of 22 year old Gabby Petito, missing since late August after going on a cross country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. No information or the cause of death has been listed by Wyoming investigators.   Laundrie returned from the trip September 1st alone and Petito’s family filed a missing persons report.  The 23 year old Laundrie has been listed as a person of interest in the case but now he’s been missing since Tuesday.  Officials have been searching a 24,000 acre wildlife area for the man.

Let’s talk about the tropics.  Florida seems to be in good shape despite the formation of two tropical storms in the Atlantic.  Peter and Rose are on a west northwest track but according to the National Hurricane Center, both systems are expected to make a turn to the north and leave us alone.  There is also a third system now forming off the coast of Africa.  It’s way too early to make any predictions about that system. 

In Afghanistan, the new government is beginning to tighten up on women.  Female employees in the Kabul city government have been told to stay home, with work only allowed for those who cannot be replaced by men.  The decision to prevent most female city workers from returning to their jobs is another sign that the Taliban, who overran Kabul last month, are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises by some that they would be tolerant and inclusive.

The United States acted Sunday to stem the flow of migrants into Texas by blocking the Mexican border at an isolated town where thousands of Haitian refugees have set up a camp, but the migrants quickly found other ways to cross nearby.  The attempted border closure happened as officials also began flying some of the migrants back to their homeland.  And now Mexico says it will no longer allow the migrants to cross over into the US

A new poll in Florida shows that the approval ratings for Governor Ron DeSantis continue to drop over his handling of the Covid crisis in the state, especially his order forbidding the masking of children in school.  DeSantis has been frequently mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2024. But now 60% of Floridians think he should not run and stay put in Florida.  That doesn’t mean Joe Biden is faring any better.  His approval ratings have now slipped to 46%.

After sharply rising to about $3-09 a gallon, gas prices in the Ocala area are slowly starting to decline once again.  The lowest price we can find today is $2-84, but that’s only at Sam’s Club on State Road 200.  A more likely price you’ll pay around town is about $3-03 a gallon.  For the lowest prices in your neighborhood, just log on to our website,  The link is right there on the front page.