Another 103 Sickened With Covid Friday

Another 103 people were confirmed sickened with the covid virus on Friday by the health department for a total in Marion County now of 27,485.  Another two people have also died from the disease bringing the death toll to 782.  Please remain safe this weekend. Classic hits reminds everyone to mask up when going out in public for any reason and observe social distancing guidelines.  Remember, if you’re not masking up, you’re just part of the problem.

Tiger Woods has been transferred to Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in California.  Woods suffered broken bones and serious leg injuries in a roll over crash this week while on his way to a video shoot.  Medical experts say Woods will recover, though it will be a long process just to get back to normal everyday life, let alone professional golf. 

A convicted felon is headed back to prison for more than two years after pleading no contest to possession of drugs, paraphernalia, and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon Thursday.  Brad Hutchins was ordered into custody immediately to begin serving the sentence.  The 39 year old spent 10 years in prison on drug and weapons charges before being released in March of 2015.

Florida is moving to put the clamps down on 16 invasive reptile species that have wreaked havoc in the Everglades and across the state.  But the move by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service may be little more than closing the barn door after all of the animals have escaped.  The 16, including pythons, iguanas, and other lizards can only be brought into the state for exhibition at zoos and research facilities.

Russian media reported that a Boeing 777 plane made an emergency landing in Moscow in the early hours of Friday after the pilot reported a problem with the engine.  There were no passengers on board as the flight was for cargo.   Just about a week ago a 777 engine blew up after take off from Denver.  The event caused authorities to ground Boeing 777 models that use that engine, the Pratt & Whitney 4000.  The Russian plane was equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines.

An Ocala landlord who shot and killed one of his tenants about a year ago is now claiming he was defending himself under Florida’s stand your ground law.  Stanley Jensen attended a court hearing Thursday by Zoom video.  The 59 year old, who is charged with second degree murder, did not testify but his attorney says the tenant, 49 year old Marc Bruss, attacked Jensen with a machete at the time of the killing.   The judge, Anthony Tatti, will rule on the case at a future date.

One person was killed and another injured Thursday afternoon in a fiery head on crash on County Road 484 near State Road 200.  The victim was a 55 year old man from Dunnellon.  He was the driver of the car.  Investigators say the man, driving a Honda, crossed the center line for some unknown reason, and slammed into an asphalt truck without braking.  The driver of the truck was injured but is in stable condition.  On impact the vehicles burst into flames

A standalone Peppa Pig theme park is set to open next year at the Legoland Florida Resort. The new park, based on the popular preschool animated television series, will be located near the main Legoland theme park, but will be separately ticketed, according to a news release.

Once known for singer Anita Bryant’s anti-gay rights campaign and a ban on gay and lesbian adoptions, Florida is now home to two metro areas with among the highest concentrations of gay and lesbian coupled households in the U.S., according to a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Orlando and Miami had the fourth and sixth highest percentages respectively of same sex coupled households in the U.S., according to the report released this week using data from the bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey  San Francisco, Portland and Seattle topped the list

Costco will increase its starting wage to $16 an hour, surpassing most of its main competitors at a time when efforts to raise the minimum wage gain traction in the U.S.  Costco CEO Craig Jelinek announced the increase Thursday.  The starting wage scale puts Costco above competitors, including Amazon, Target and Best Buy, which have $15 minimum wages. Walmart’s starting pay is $11 an hour.  The nearest Costco to Ocala is in the Orlando area.

U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose this week but still remain near historic lows.  Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan increased to 2.97% from 2.81% last week.  The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans, popular among those seeking to refinance their mortgages, rose to 2.34%.

If you’re looking for a beach getaway that’s not too far away, here ya go.  St. Pete Beach came out on top this year in TripAdvisor’s list of top U.S. beaches. Typically outdone by places like Clearwater Beach or Siesta Key, the home to snow-white sand and the big pink hotel got the top spot this year, and it ranked No. 5 in the world. TripAdvisor called it “the most perfect place to watch the sunset.”

Disney Cruise Lines is canceling cruises through May, the company announced Wednesday. Disney Magic European has canceled cruises through Aug. 10. Disney will work between now and then to implement new safety protocols in preparation for returning to the High Seas,

Florida Senators continued moving forward with a proposal to do away with the state’s long-standing no-fault auto insurance system. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would eliminate no-fault and its requirement that motorists carry personal-injury protection, PIP, coverage, and mandate bodily injury coverage. Sponsor Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, said the bill would make Florida like 48 other states with bodily-injury insurance systems. He said he thinks it would help ensure that motorists have adequate coverage.

State lawmakers just hate it when citizens come up with constitutional amendments.  Now A Senate committee next week will take up a proposal that would require approval from two-thirds of voters for ballot measures to pass.  Currently, proposed constitutional amendments require approval from 60% of voters to pass. The Republican-controlled Legislature has taken a series of steps in recent years to make it harder to amend the Constitution. The saving grace?  If approved by lawmakers, it would have to go on the 2022 ballot and get voter approval.

Florida Democrats have tried and failed for years to close loopholes in the state’s tax code that allow big corporations to shift money to other states, a strategy that some analysts estimate costs Florida half a billion dollars annually. Rep. Fred Hawkins, a freshman state legislator who previously served as a Commissioner for Osceola County, has filed a bill that would force multistate and multinational companies to file a single tax return covering their entire business, rather than letting them file separate returns for each of their many subsidiaries.

In an alarming portrait of Florida’s prisons, state Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch recently warned lawmakers that the system is woefully understaffed and could erupt in violence as tensions mount. Inch didn’t mince words, using language such as “collapse” and “crisis.” Asked by a group of state Senators to identify at least one prison that could be closed to save money, Inch refused.

121 more people were confirmed with the coronavirus Wednesday according to the Marion County Health Department.  In addition seven more people were confirmed dead from the disease.  27,301 people have contracted the disease countywide since the pandemic began about a year ago.  Classic hits reminds everyone to mask up when going out in public for any reason and observe social distancing guidelines.  Remember, if you’re not masking up, you’re just part of the problem.

Governor Ron DeSantis may have signed his political death warrant Tuesday when he ordered flags at half mast in Palm Beach County and Tallahassee in honor of Rush Limbaugh.  The move is not only getting backlash from the public but from political leaders as well.  Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay posted a statement declaring the county will not lower flags for Limbaugh on Wednesday. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said his city would not honor hatred, racism, bigotry, homophobia or anything else Limbaugh has spewed over the years.

Florida water management officials approved a permit Tuesday for Nestle Company to pump nearly 1 million gallons a day from a spring to make bottled water from the Gennie Springs near Live Oak.  Environmentalists have argued that the bottling operation is a threat to Florida’s drinking water and the future of the popular spring.  Nestle said it would work with local officials to ensure that the springs remains stable.

A women described as homeless is now a guest at the no frills hotel after police found her early Wednesday morning with a stolen car.  28 year old Danielle Pawlowski was discovered with the car near the Aarons Furniture Store on State road 40.  The vehicle had been stolen from the Marion County Facilities Maintenance Building on Tuesday. 

Publix is joining the bandwagon of companies that is offering incentives to employees.  The company announced this week that it will offer a $125 gift card to all employees who get the coronavirus vaccine.  Publix joins several other retailers around the country providing incentives for employees to get the protection

If you’re Southern Baptist, this might interest you.  The Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee voted Tuesday to boot four of its churches, two over policies deemed to be too inclusive of Gay and Lesbian people and two more for employing pastors convicted of sex offenses.  The actions were announced at a meeting marked by warnings from two top leaders that the SBC was shooting itself in the foot with divisions over several critical issues including race.

Center State Bank will soon be no more.  The company, in a letter to its customers, Center State announced that they are close to completing a merger with South State Bank.  The merger will include a name change to South State Bank.  South State operates 160 branches in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia.  The merger and name change is expected sometime this spring. 

A former Florida resident accused of traveling to Turkey and attempting to join the Islamic State group was indicted Tuesday on a terrorism charge.  A federal grand jury in Gainesville formally charged 33 year old Mohamed Suliman, a U.S. citizen, with attempting to provide material support for a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to court records. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.  Suliman was arrested by Turkish authorities while trying to cross a border into Syria and was returned to the US to face charges.

Ocala detectives are investigating an attempted home invasion Tuesday and shooting at a Northeast side apartment complex.  Police were called to the Sutton Place Apartments on NE 23rd Circle around 2 AM when a woman who lived there heard noises outside her bedroom window then a crashing sound.  When police arrived at the scene they found several windows of the home had been shot out, one of those a bedroom window where children were sleeping.  No arrests have been made and investigators are asking the public for clues. Tiger Woods suffered serious leg injuries that required surgery Tuesday after he apparently lost control of the SUV he was driving and rolled it.  Woods had to be extricated from the vehicle by fire-rescue.  Woods was taken to a local trauma center and then into surgery for the injuries which were described as serious, but not life-threatening

96 people were confirmed sickened with the covid virus on Tuesday in Marion County by the health department.  Even more shocking, another 16 have been confirmed dead.  That make for more than 30 dead from the disease in just the last two days.  Classic hits 104.7 urges everyone to mask up when you’re out in public for any reason and observe social distancing guidelines.  Remember, if you’re not masking up, you just part of the problem. 

Florida’s teachers and law enforcement officers who are 50 and older will be the next groups to get the coronavirus vaccine as the percentage of older residents inoculated is reaching a point where the program can be expanded according to Governor Ron DeSantis.  DeSantis did not say specifically when the new groups will be able to get the vaccine, but he expects it to be soon through the recently added sites run by the federal government.

Victims of a 2019 shooting at a Florida military base and their families are suing Saudi Arabia, claiming the kingdom knew the gunman had been radicalized and that it could have prevented the killings.  The suit, filed Monday, also claims that Saudi trainees knew in advance about plans for the shooting but did nothing to stop it. Three sailors were shot and killed in the attack

Crime statistics are difficult to comprehend and law enforcement and cities tend to spin the numbers to their favor.  In Ocala, law enforcement and city officials will tell you the latest numbers from the FDLE are just ducky showing that the overall crime index in Marion County is down by 5.7%.  What they won’t tell you is that violent crime in Ocala has now increased by 5.5%.  The latest numbers reflect stats from 2018 to 2019.  The numbers for 2020 aren’t in yet.  The county as a whole is in the middle for violent crime, 30th in the state out of 67 counties.  But Ocala is now listed in the top 20 most violent cities in the state.

A federal judge has ruled that Kelly and Connie Meggs of Dunnellon will remain behind bars for their participation in the riot at the US Capitol on January 6th.  The couple is being held at the Marion County jail after the federal court ruled that they are a danger to the community.  The Meggs will soon be moved to a jail facility in Washington DC where they will answer to the charges against them.

If you’re in a position to do so, it’s a great time to buy a home in Marion County with interest rates still at historic lows.  But it’s also a great time to be selling a home as prices have skyrocketed over the past year.  The median price of a home in Marion County is now at $96,000, up by more than $20,000 since January of last year.  But while the median price is up, sales of existing homes in Marion County declined by a little more than 4% over the same month last year.

The order by Governor Ron DeSantis to lower flags to half-mast in honor of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is creating a  lot of flack for his honor.  Nikki Fried, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner and the only statewide Democratic officeholder, said Monday that she would not abide by the Republican governor’s orders.  Fried said quote my concern is that the governor is bending over backwards to honor a radio host who has consistently made racist, polarizing and conspiracy comments.  Limbaugh died last week of cancer.

The My Pillow guy, who was a staunch supporter of Donald Trump and several conspiracy theories, is in more trouble and this one could cost him his business. Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit Monday against the founder and CEO of Minnesota-based My Pillow, saying that Mike Lindell falsely accused the company of rigging the 2020 presidential election.  Some 18 big retailers around the country have dropped My Pillow from their inventories.

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson says it will be able to provide 20 million U.S. doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March, assuming it gets the greenlight from federal regulators.  J&J disclosed the figure in written testimony ahead of a Congressional hearing on Tuesday looking at the country’s vaccine supply.

Sheriff’s investigators have arrested 8 people in a sting operation who were looking to have sexual relations with underage children.  The eight men traveled to a location in Marion County to have sex with the child they thought they had been messaging online.  Instead, they were met by law enforcement, placed in handcuffs and arrested.  The men face multiple charges.   Investigators say the sting operation was conducted in cooperation with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office and Gainesville police.  6

In a significant defeat for former President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to step in to halt the turnover of his tax records to a New York state prosecutor.  The court’s action is the apparent culmination of a lengthy legal battle that had already reached the high court once before.  Trump’s tax records are not supposed to become public as part of prosecutors’ criminal investigation, but the high court’s action is a blow to Trump because he has long fought on so many fronts to keep his tax records shielded from view.

Boeing has recommended that airlines ground all 777s with the type of engine that blew apart after takeoff from Denver this weekend, and most carriers that fly those planes said they would temporarily pull them from service.  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ordered United Airlines to step up inspections of the aircraft after one of its flights made an emergency landing at Denver International Airport Saturday as pieces of the casing of the engine, a Pratt & Whitney PW4000, rained down on suburban neighborhoods. Nobody was hurt and the plane returned to Denver International without incident.

Two of the biggest remaining American tire companies are joining forces.  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is acquiring Cooper in a deal with an equity value of $2.8 billion that will combine the two century-old Ohio manufacturers. The deal will bring an array of tire brands together under one roof, including Goodyear’s Dunlop and Kelly brands, and Cooper’s Mastercraft and Mickey Thompson brands.

That couple from Dunnellon who were arrested late last week for participating in the coup attempt against the US Government are being held in the Marion County jail without bond for the US Marshalls Service.  It’s not known when Kelly and Connie Meggs will be brought in to federal court to face charges.   They will be facing a long list of federal raps participating in the insurrection.  Kelly Meggs is the self-described leader of the Florida Chapter of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group.  The Oath Keepers are a far right, anti-government group with several thousand members.

A disturbed man struck a priest and barricaded himself inside a Florida church on Sunday before he was arrested by police in Melbourne.  Police officers arrived to the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church early Sunday in response to an incident involving church officials and a man.  Police say the man hit one of the priests and was seen with a firearm when officers arrived at the scene. Members of the church were able to escape, but the man barricaded himself near the front door of the church and threatened to kill himself but gave up four hours later.

A Democratic senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter storms that plunged Texas and other states into a deep freeze that caused power outages in millions of homes and businesses.  Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith says natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, many of which were passed on to customers.

A new poll in Florida shows that most residents, including Republicans, Democrats, and Independents want the state to spend more on health care, schools, and support for families and businesses.  The poll was conducted between January 31st and February 4th.  Only 13% of those interviewed advised the state to live within its means.  And if you don’t like wearing a mask.  Sorry, you’re in the minority.  67% of voters strongly or somewhat support a statewide mask mandate, compared to 27% who don’t.

Gas prices in the Ocala area took a big spike upward over the past week, more than 13 cents a gallon to be exact, for an average now of $2-64 a gallon.  For classic hits listeners, a few stations are posting prices in the mid 2-50’s.  To find those lower prices and pricing in your neighborhood, just log on to our website, classichitsocala.com.  The link is right there on the front page.

 The Florida Department of Agriculture says three Tampa men have been arrested in connection with a gas pump skimming operation here in Marion County.  The men were arrested last week according to the statement.  The investigation dates back to last August when officials observed on video, a man tampering with a pump.  At the time of the arrest, one of the men was in possession of a skimming device, and several stolen credit cards.  The Ag department did not identify the station where the hacking occurred.