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    Singer-songwriter David Olney died Saturday night during a performance onstage at a Florida music festival, Variety reported. He was 71. Olney, who was playing at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, stopped during the middle of one of his songs and dropped his head, the website reported. According to his website, Olney died of an apparent heart attack. Olney, a Nashville-based musician, has had songs recorded by Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, The Tennessean reported. He was performing next to Amy Rigby and Scott Miller on Saturday at The Boathouse at WaterColor.  Rigby described what happened in a Facebook post Sunday. “I was sitting next to him in the round, had been so honored and looking forward to getting to trade songs with him and Scott Miller,” Rigby wrote. “Olney was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes.” Born in Rhode Island in 1948, Olney moved to Nashville in 1973 and later formed the rock group The X-Rays, Billboard reported. After releasing his first solo album, “Eye of the Storm,” in 1986, Olney would release more than two dozen albums, The Tennessean reported. A performance Olney gave earlier Saturday during the festival was captured on video and posted to YouTube. Harris covered Olney’s song, “Jerusalem Tomorrow,” in 1993, and “Deeper Well” in 1995, Variety reported. He also did a version of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.' Other artists who recorded or performed Olney’s songs include Ronstadt (“Women Cross the River”), Steve Earle (“Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”), and Del McCoury (“Queen Anne’s Lace”), Rolling Stone reported.
  • Jimmy Heath, a saxophonist, composer and bandleader who played with some of the biggest names in jazz, died Sunday morning in Loganville, Georgia. He was 93. Heath’s death was confirmed by his wife, Mona Heath, WBGO in Chicago reported. Heath’s grandson also confirmed the musician’s death to NPR. Heath’s career spanned seven decades, and he played his music along with jazz greats Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, NPR reported. Known as a saxophonist, Heath also composed and arranged music. Davis called Heath “one of the thoroughbreds” of jazz, WBGO reported. James Edward Heath was born Oct. 25, 1926, in Philadelphia, the radio station reported. His father, Percy Heath Sr., played clarinet in a marching band. His mother, Arlethia, sang in the choir of her Baptist church. “My father played the clarinet,” Jimmy Heath told NPR in 2013. “He was an auto mechanic for a living, but he played the clarinet on the weekends. He’d get it out of the pawnshop and play in a marching band in Philadelphia. But my mother sang in a church choir. But we were privy to have all these great recordings in our home at that time. We heard all the bands. The big bands were prominent at that time.” In 1945 and 1946, Heath played in the Nat Towles Orchestra and toured the Midwest and South, WBGO reported Heath formed the Jimmy Heath Orchestra in 1946, which featured Coltrane on second alto. Davis hired Heath on tenor and recorded “C.T.A.” (for Connie Theresa Ang, Heath’s girlfriend) on the 1953 album, “Miles Davis Volume 1,' WBGO reported. Phil Schaap, the curator of jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York, told NPR that Heath’s biggest contribution to music was bringing the 1940s bebop revolution to future generations. “Moses is dead. The tablets are still here,” Schaap told NPR. “Well, Jimmy Heath read the commandments of jazz, and he got the tablets from the great prophets. And he used it his way to great benefit, and he even fed it back towards the prophets. You know, Miles Davis used his stuff. Charlie Parker used his stuff. And John Coltrane was nurtured by Jimmy Heath.”
  • Bernie Sanders made a comparison Sunday between the challenges women face in politics today and his running for president at the age of 78 as the Democratic presidential candidate continues to face questions over his recent feud with Elizabeth Warren on sexism in politics. During an hourlong appearance on New Hampshire Public Radio, Sanders was asked if he thinks female candidates have a different experience as presidential candidates than him and whether gender is still an obstacle for female politicians. Sanders answered yes. “But I think everybody has their own sets of problems,” the Vermont senator said. “I'm 78 years of age. That's a problem.' He then went on to note that age concerns could also be a challenge for 38-year-old former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, saying “if you're looking at Buttigieg, he's a young guy.” “And people will say, well he's too young to be president. You look at this one, she's a woman,” Sanders said. “So everybody brings some negatives if you'd like. I would just hope very much that the American people look at the totality of a candidate, not at their gender, not at their sexuality, not at their age, but at everything. Nobody is perfect. There ain't no perfect candidate out there.' Asked after a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday to comment on Sanders’ statement and if being a woman was a problem, Warren said only, “I have no further comment on this.” Division among Sanders and Warren became fierce last week after the two progressives had largely left the other unscathed for much of the 2020 race. Warren and Sanders disagreement comes over a private 2018 meeting. Warren contends then that Sanders told her he didn’t think a woman could win the White House. Sanders has vocally disputed that claim, but on Sunday tried to avoid talking about the meeting. “I really don't want to get into what was a private conversation,” Sanders said on the public radio program. “But to answer your question, let me just say this, it is hard for me to imagine how anybody in the year 2020 could not believe that a woman could become president of the United States. And if you check my record, I've been saying that for 30 years.” ___ Associated Press writer Will Weissert in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report
  • A wedding is usually a day for the bride. Saturday, it was a day for the dogs. A bride and groom added a heartwarming wrinkle to their marriage ceremony in Pennsylvania, as five dogs strutted down the aisle with bridesmaids. Heather Pavlich, who married Adam Peterson on Saturday at the Corinthian Banquet Hall and Event Center in Sharon, was more than happy to share her big day with furry friends. “The bride had contacted us, asking if we had some adoptable pets that her and her girls could walk down the aisle for her wedding today,” Heather Huff, of Legacy Dog Rescue of Ohio in Youngtown, told WKBN. Pavlich adorned each table at the wedding with a small basket for donations, the television station reported. “I just knew, if I ever got married, I wanted them to be here and spread the word that there’s no need for flowers,” Pavlich told WKBN. As Pavlich’s bridesmaids walked down the aisle, they were escorted by an adoptable dog. “At first, I thought she was a little crazy, but I know Heather quite well and it means a lot to Heather to adopt dogs,” maid of honor Olive Radeker told WKBN. Dogs at a wedding are not entirely new. In November, a Florida woman had her bridesmaids carry puppies instead of flowers. The dogs were well-behaved and did not beg for food during the reception, Huff told the television station. “They’ve been doing surprisingly well and haven’t tried to beg for anyone’s food yet,” Huff said. Pavlich said she hoped publicizing the dogs at her wedding will help their chances for adoption. “I just want everybody to know that fostering and adopting is the way to go and not shopping,” Pavlich told WKBN. Pet lovers wishing to adopt any of the dogs can visit the Legacy Dog Rescue of Ohio website.
  • The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is accusing U.S. intelligence agencies of withholding documents from Congress on Ukraine that could be significant to President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. “They appear to be succumbing to pressure from the administration,” Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday on ABC's 'This Week.'' Schiff was selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as the lead impeachment manager for Trump's Senate trial. Schiff, D-Calif., contended that the National Security Agency “in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial. That is deeply concerning.' He also said 'there are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course.” The White House's National Security Council referred questions to the intelligence agencies. The CIA and NSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trump’s impeachment trial resumes Tuesday. Democrats have previously criticized the State Department for withholding relevant documents to the impeachment inquiry. In the weeks since Trump was impeached, Democrats have sought to focus on new evidence about Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and are pushing the Senate to consider new documents and testimony, such as from former national security adviser John Bolton. During the ABC interview, Schiff was asked about a Politico report that said intelligence officials were pushing the House and Senate Intelligence committees to drop the public portion of an annual briefing on world security threats following last year’s session in which Trump lashed out over the assessments on North Korea, Iran and the Islamic State. The request was reportedly being made in a bid to avoid a repeat in which intelligence officials might publicly disagree with Trump on the security risks. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!' Trump tweeted after that Jan. 29 hearing, before abruptly reversing course and saying he and the intelligence community 'are all on the same page.' On Sunday, Schiff described the news reports as “all too accurate.” “The intelligence community is reluctant to have an open hearing, something that we had done every year prior to the Trump administration, because they're worried about angering the president,” he said. ___ Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg made a pitch to African American voters the day before the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., visiting a black church in Tulsa, the site of a race massacre nearly 100 years ago that left hundreds dead and the city’s thriving African American community in rubble. The former New York City mayor spoke out against racial income inequality and outlined an economic proposal aimed at increasing the number of black-owned homes and businesses. The plan includes a $70 billion investment in the nation’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. “I do believe the next president has to make the issue of economic inequality a top priority, and there’s no better place for me to talk about it than right here in Greenwood,' Bloomberg told parishioners Sunday at the Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bloomberg described the initiative as a 'plan for righting what I think are historic wrongs and creating opportunity and wealth in black communities.” The plan offers incentives for investment in underserved communities, increases support for black-owned banks and ties federal housing money to progress in reducing segregation. It would require bias training for police, teachers and federal contractors, and address voter disenfranchisement practices such as ID requirements, poll purging and gerrymandering. “As someone who has been very lucky in life, I often say my story would only have been possible in America, and I think that’s true,' Bloomberg said later during a speech to several hundred people at the Greenwood Cultural Center. “But I also know that my story would have turned out very differently if I had been black, and that more black Americans of my generation would have ended up with far more wealth, had they been white.' Bloomberg also pledged to back a commission to study whether black Americans should receive reparations for slavery. Bloomberg faced some criticism in November for visiting a black church in Brooklyn just days before launching his presidential bid, when he apologized for his longstanding support of the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police strategy he embraced as mayor that disproportionately impacted people of color. The visit to Oklahoma, a Super Tuesday state whose primary is March 3, keeps with Bloomberg’s strategy of skipping early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire and focusing on delegate-rich Texas, California and others. The Greenwood Cultural Center houses artifacts and other memorabilia from the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, in which white mobs killed an estimated 300 black residents and injured 800 more. About 8,000 residents were left homeless after firebombs, including some dropped from airplanes, destroyed movie theaters, churches and hotels and decimated the economic and cultural mecca that had become known as Black Wall Street. The black community rebuilt in the decade that followed, but urban renewal programs in the 1950s and 1960s wiped out much of that progress, and the city remains largely segregated. “Although it’s been nearly 100 years since the massacre took place, we are still dealing with issues of racism and inequality in our city,” said Mechelle Brown, program coordinator at the center. “I think our community, especially, is dealing with the historical trauma to that has been passed down from generation to generation, specifically as it relates to the history of the massacre. “Those feelings of fear, anger, bitterness, resentment have been passed down.” In the past year, several presidential candidates visited the Greenwood district, including former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. It was the first time that Brown could recall any major presidential candidate visiting the area. O'Rourke and Booker have seen quit the 2020 race. While those campaign stops are undoubtedly an attempt by Democratic candidates to reach black voters, a critically important segment of the party’s electorate, they also present an opportunity for residents to meet the candidates firsthand, said Judy Eason McIntyre, who represented the district in the state Legislature for a decade. “Yes, some will say it’s pandering, but I’m not one of those,” McIntyre said. “It allows people to get to know them up close. It also maybe generates some excitement and knowledge about getting out to vote.” Although Sunday’s visit was Bloomberg’s first campaign stop in Oklahoma, Bloomberg Philanthropies last year granted a $1 million grant to the city to commission temporary works of art accessible to the public.
  • Willie Lanier knows a thing or two about the Super Bowl. The Hall of Fame linebacker starred for the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the Super Bowl 50 years ago. The Chiefs have not returned to pro football’s biggest game since then. But Lanier’s message was simple as the Chiefs prepared to host their second straight AFC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon. “Kansas City, bring it home.' Lanier narrated a 70-second video in advance of the Chiefs’ battle against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium, The Kansas City Star reported. “Sometimes we find ourselves challenged,” Lanier said in the video. “Sometimes we find ourselves cornered. But sometimes we find ourselves destined.” The last time the Chiefs played in the Super Bowl, the Minnesota Vikings were favored by 13 points. But coach Hank, Stram urging his offense to “just keep matricularing the ball down the field,” scored a 23-7 victory in the final meeting between the merger of the AFL and NFL. That game was played at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. If the Chiefs win Sunday, they will go Miami on Feb. 2 to face the winner of the NFC Championship Game between Green Bay and San Francisco.
  • President Donald Trump is expected to discuss new U.S. trade agreements with its North American neighbors and with China during an appearance Sunday at a convention of American farmers. When Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau Federation's convention last year, he urged farmers to continue supporting him even as they suffered financially in the fallout from his trade war with China and a partial shutdown of the federal government. Trump's follow-up speech Sunday in Austin, Texas, will give him a chance to make the case to farmers that he kept two promises on trade that he made as a candidate - to improve trade with China and separately with Canada and Mexico - and that farmers stand to benefit from both pacts. “They hit ‘paydirt' with our incredible new Trade Deals: CHINA, JAPAN, MEXICO, CANADA, SOUTH KOREA, and many others!” the president tweeted Sunday, mentioning U.S. trade agreements with two additional Asian countries. Trump signed a preliminary trade deal with China at the White House last Wednesday that commits Beijing to boosting its imports of U.S. manufacturing, energy and farm goods by $200 billion this year and next. That includes larger purchases of soybeans and other farm goods expected to reach $40 billion a year, the U.S. has said, though critics wonder if China can meet the targets. Also last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a successor to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The administration designed the new agreement to return some factory production to the United States, mostly automobiles. NAFTA had triggered a surge in trade among the three countries, but Trump and other critics blamed it for U.S. job losses brought about when American factories moved production south of the border to take advantage of low-wage labor in Mexico. The House passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal in December and Trump is expected to sign it soon.
  • Adolfo Cardenas smiles faintly at the memory of traveling with his 14-year-old son from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border in only nine days, riding buses and paying a smuggler $6,000 to ensure passage through highway checkpoints. Father and son walked about 10 minutes in Arizona's stifling June heat before surrendering to border agents. Instead of being released with paperwork to appear in immigration court in Dallas, where Cardenas hopes to live with a cousin, they were bused more than an hour to wait in the Mexican border city of Mexicali. “It was a surprise. I never imagined this would happen,' Cardenas, 39, said while waiting at a Mexicali migrant shelter for his fifth court appearance in San Diego, on Jan. 24. Illegal crossings plummeted across the border after the Trump administration made more asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. court. The drop has been most striking on the western Arizona border, a pancake-flat desert with a vast canal system from the Colorado River that turns bone-dry soil into fields of melons and wheat and orchards of dates and lemons. Arrests in the Border Patrol's Yuma sector nearly hit 14,000 in May, when the policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico took effect there. By October, they fell 94%, to less than 800, and have stayed there since, making Yuma the second-slowest of the agency's nine sectors on the Mexican border, just ahead of the perennially quiet Big Bend sector in Texas. Illegal crossings in western Arizona have swung sharply before, and there are several reasons for the recent drop. But Anthony Porvaznik, chief of the Border Patrol's Yuma sector, said the so-called Migration Protection Protocols have been a huge deterrent, based on agents' interviews with people arrested. “Their whole goal was to be released into the United States, and once that was taken off the shelf for them, and they couldn't be released into the United States anymore, then that really diminished the amount of traffic that came through here,” Porvaznik said. In the neighboring Tucson sector, arrests rose each month from August to December, bucking a border-wide trend and making it the second-busiest corridor after Texas' Rio Grande Valley. Porvaznik attributes Tucson's spike to the absence of the policy there until three months ago. In late November, the administration began busing asylum-seekers five hours from Tucson to El Paso, Texas, for court and delivering them to Mexican authorities there to wait. This month, officials scrapped the buses by returning migrants to Mexico near Tucson and requiring them to travel on their own to El Paso. More than 55,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico to wait for hearings through November, 10 months after the policy was introduced in San Diego. The immigrants were from more than three dozen countries, and nearly 2 out of 3 were Guatemalan or Honduran, according to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Mexicans are exempt. Critics say the policy is unfair and exposes asylum-seekers to extreme violence in Mexican border cities, where attorneys are difficult to find. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups asked to put the policy on hold during a legal challenge. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Oct. 1 and has not indicated when it will decide. On Tuesday, critics scored a partial victory in a separate lawsuit when a federal judge in San Diego said asylum-seekers who are being returned to Mexico from California must have access to hired attorneys before and during key interviews to determine if they can stay in the U.S. while their cases proceed. Immigration judges hear cases in San Diego and El Paso, while other asylum-seekers report to tent camps in the Texas cities of Laredo and Brownsville, where they are connected to judges by video. In Yuma, asylum-seekers are held in short-term cells until space opens up to be returned to Mexicali through a neighboring California sector. Those interviewed by The Associated Press waited up to a week in Yuma, though Border Patrol policy says people generally shouldn't be held more than 72 hours. Volunteers visit Mexicali shelters to offer bus tickets or a two-hour ride to Tijuana, along with hotel rooms for the night before court appearances in San Diego. Cardenas, who worked construction in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, said he feels unsafe in Mexico and that it was impossible to escape gangs in Honduras. “They are in every corner,” he said. Enma Florian of Guatemala, who crossed the border illegally with her 16- and 13-year-old sons near Yuma in August, doesn't know if she would stay in Mexico or return to Guatemala if denied asylum in the U.S. The grant rate for Guatemalan asylum-seekers was 14% for the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, compared with 18% for Salvadorans, 13% for Hondurans and 11% for Mexicans. “The dream was to reach the United States,” she said, holding out hope that she will settle with relatives in Maryland. While illegal crossings have nosedived in Yuma, asylum-seekers still sign up on a waiting list to enter the U.S. at an official crossing in San Luis, Arizona. U.S. Customs and Border Protection calls the Mexican shelter that manages the list to say how many asylum claims it will process each day. The shelter estimates the wait at three to four months. Angel Rodriguez, one of 143 Cubans on the shelter's waiting list of 1,484 people, has had bright moments in Mexico, including a beautiful Christmas meal. But the 51-year-old rarely goes outside and he dreads the possibility of being forced to wait for hearings in Mexico after his number is called to make an initial asylum claim in the US. “That's sending me to hell again,” said Rodriguez, who hopes to settle with friends in Dallas or Miami. “If I'm going to seek asylum, I'm going to look to a country that is the safest and respects human rights. That country is the United States of America.
  • Gun companies are gathering for their annual conference and trade show this week in Las Vegas at a pivotal moment for the industry amid slumping sales, a public increasingly agitating for restrictions on access to firearms and escalating tensions over gun control efforts. The event, held by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry's lobbying group, will take place in Las Vegas — about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the deadliest mass shooting modern U.S. history. An estimated 60,000 people are expected to attend, navigating a vast expanse of aisles filled with not just firearms but all sorts of accessories and industry-related apparel. Gun sales normally taper off during Republican administrations because gun owners are not as compelled to stockpile weapons out of fear that lawmakers will impose restrictions on firearms. But the past three years under President Donald Trump have been particularly volatile, fueled in part by the Las Vegas shooting and other high-profile mass killings that have driven efforts to either restrict access to guns or to ban certain firearms and products. With Congress stymied by gridlock, the most notable action on guns has occurred at the state level in places such as Virginia, where Democrats took control of the statehouse in last year's elections. They are vowing to pass a slate of gun control measures, prompting thousands of pro-Second Amendment activists to plan a rally Monday at the Capitol. Virginia is being closely watched by the industry, looking to see how it will play out and what it might portend for the future of gun politics in the year ahead. Sagging gun sales have afflicted almost every corner of the industry, most notably iconic gun manufacturers such as Ruger, Remington and Colt. Colt, one of the most storied firearms companies in the U.S., decided to suspend production of its AR-15 long guns. Sturm, Ruger and Co. Inc. saw sales slump about 20% last year and has reduced its workforce and production. Remington emerged from bankruptcy in 2018, but remains under scrutiny after being sued by families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in which the perpetrator used an AR-15 made by the company. Ruger CEO Christopher J. Killoy has said the company decided to forego steep discounts in its prices, a tactic some other manufacturers have used, to focus instead on scaling back production to weather the storm. The pushback from the public, lawmakers and the retail sector has been most intense against AR-style guns that have been used in several recent mass killings, including Las Vegas, the Orlando nightclub massacre and the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. That has placed gun manufacturers in a difficult position because the popularity of those weapons has fueled their profits in recent years. It's not just gunmakers that have booths at the Las Vegas show. It's a wide array — from companies that make holsters, scopes, ammunition and safes to apparel and even coffee brewers. It caters to the spectrum of gun owners — from hunters to those in the military and law enforcement. Firearms on display at the event are inoperable and none are actually sold at it. There is a panel discussion on how to use social media influencers to boost sales, a golf tournament to raise money for veterans and a “day at the range” where participants can check out and fire all sorts of guns. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is among the keynote speakers. Gary Ramey, the owner of a small handgun company based in Gainesville, Georgia, said his company has seen drops in sales in the past year, and the Las Vegas gathering will be especially critical to see new products and meet suppliers. “We’ve been busy just trying to keep our head above water in this tough market. It’s been difficult,” he said. He added later: “Our Second Amendment rights have never been under more scrutiny or attack than they are now.” Ramey has been going to the event for 20 years, well before he founded Honor Defense, a company that specializes on handguns that can be purchased with custom colors and designs. His is primarily a family run business that uses only American built parts. Bryan Haaker, who co-founded a gun parts and accessories company in New Hampshire in 2012, has weathered the recent turmoil by finding growth in smaller caliber firearms and the competitive shooting arena. He will be at the Las Vegas convention as well. “We've seen nothing but the market grow,” Haaker said.

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Care and Protective Services announced the city of Jacksonville, once again, earned the no-kill designation for the year of 2019. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “A no-kill community is a city or town in which every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within that community has reached a 90% save rate or higher and adheres to the no-kill philosophy, saving every animal who can be saved.'  According to a release put out by the JHS, the save rate for APCS was 90 percent and for JHS it was 95 percent, making a citywide save rate of 93 percent.  In total, 16,874 animals entered the JHS shelters in 2019, which is a significant decrease from 19,366 animals in 2018, according to the JHS.  According to JHS, Jacksonville earned the distinction of being the largest city in the United States to earn a no-kill status. The city has maintained that status until last year when ACPS save rate fell to 86 percent.  “Examining the data and trends in 2017 and 2018 resulted in our renewed focus on cats and kittens in 2019,” said Deisler. “As a community, we had to take a look at ourselves ask – what can we do to save those lives? We knew that with the help of our community, a return to no-kill was possible. We are excited about the results from 2019 and even more excited for 2020. Thank you, Jacksonville!”
  • Thirty-nine years after three Florida Highway Patrol troopers were killed in a plane crash, the state is honoring their sacrifice with a roadway designation. On July 13, 1981, Cpl. Cleo “Tommy” Tomlinsons, Trooper Merle Cook and Trooper Robert Pruitt were in an airplane that crashed in St. Johns County while assisting in the search for two suspects wanted for breaking and entering.  “We had received a call requesting assistance from the Sheriff’s Office on some burglary suspects they were trying to track,” retired FHP Trooper Rick McIntyre said.  McIntyre said it happened on a Monday. He dropped off his co-worker and friend, Tomlinson, at the airport so he could help search the wooded area. On his way back to assist on foot, he witnessed the horrific plane crash.  “A person goes into shock when they see something like that,” McIntyre said. “At the time, I had less than five years on the patrol and it was something horrible to witness.”  As the calls went out over the service radio, Tomlinson’s son was on the receiving end. He was in training to become a trooper.  “I can remember every detail about that day,” Tomlinson’s son and retired FHP trooper Chet Tomlinson said. “That day I was in recruit training at Parris Island.”  That day, three families lost a husband and father. The community lost three troopers who were protecting their homes.  Now, almost four decades after the crash, family members said they are thankful that their fathers’ sacrifices have not been forgotten.  “Hopefully the people and the citizens of the state of Florida understand the sacrifice the officers make each and every day when they walk out the door,” Tomlinson said.  Of the 48 FHP troopers who have died in the line of duty, fewer than half have received a roadway designation.  The sign, which includes all three troopers, is on U.S. Route 1 and stretch about 5 miles long. The FHP said it is in dedication of their sacrifice and a reminder for drivers to stay alert while on the road.
  • Dozens of strangers showed up Friday afternoon at the Jacksonville National Cemetery to make sure a local homeless veteran got the proper burial he deserved. Many of the people attending didn’t know John Meade Jr. was a veteran when he was alive. But they wanted to honor him properly, now that he’s gone.  “He was very much appreciated, and we all appreciate the service that he did. Not only for everybody else, but what he stood for,” said Shirley Greco, who attended the ceremony.  He had a lot of family at his funeral – maybe not in blood, but in spirit.  “I really do wish that he could be here to see the turnout today for him, I really do. And I think there’s a way that he knows how it turned out today,” Greco said.  “Whoever the vet is, doesn’t get buried with no family, so we become their family,” said Wayne May.  For at least 10 years, Meade sat on a bench in downtown St. Augustine every single day, and was a friendly face to everyone who passed by.  While he talked to everybody, no one knew much about him.  After Meade died, an officer with the St. Augustine Police Department spent 80 hours digging for information about him.  When the officer found out he served in the Army, he wanted Meade to have a proper burial. He asked the community to come out to Jacksonville’s National Cemetery, and they showed up by the dozens.  “People did care about him, and he’s never alone,” said Ken White, a veteran.  “I wish I would’ve known him,” another veteran said.
  • McKenzie Adams was 9 years old when she took her own life on Dec. 3, 2018, in her Linden, Alabama, home. A federal lawsuit filed Thursday by her family alleges that administrators and teachers at her elementary school, U.S. Jones Elementary in Demopolis, failed to protect her from incessant bullying. Demopolis is located in west Alabama, about 60 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa. “(The defendants) exhibited deliberate and blatant indifference to the wrongful persistent bullying and harassment, rife with racial and gender-based slurs, imparted upon McKenzie by a boy who was her classmate,” the lawsuit states. Linden and Demopolis police officials investigated the allegations of bullying in the wake of McKenzie’s hanging death but said they could not find the evidence to back up the family’s claims. The school also denied the allegations that bullying had been reported to administrators by the girl or her family. “We have concluded our internal investigation to the allegations of bullying which led to this senseless death. There have been no findings of any reports of bullying by either the student or family,” a Dec. 11, 2018, statement from the school district said, according to the Tuscaloosa News. “The findings of this internal investigation are consistent with the results of the investigation of the Linden Police Department at this point in time.” McKenzie’s family begged police to reopen the investigation. Her mother and grandmother are adamant that the bullying was reported to school officials multiple times. “Her case deserves a second look,” her weeping mother, Jasmine Adams, said at a news conference last January, according to WBRC in Birmingham. “There are things that could have been missed on the first go-round. And I just feel she deserves a second look at her case.” Hundreds of mourners attended the girl’s funeral, which was held in the gymnasium of her school. According to the News, a wreath of flowers spelling out “You are loved, little one” stood near her white casket. McKenzie, who family members said hoped to be a scientist when she grew up, wore a silver tiara as she was laid to rest. McKenzie’s mother and grandmother, Janice Adams, filed Thursday’s lawsuit on behalf of the girl, whose death made national headlines. Named in the lawsuit are the school, the Demopolis school system, Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff, then-U.S. Jones principal Tori Infinger, then-assistant principal Tracy Stewart and fourth-grade teacher Gloria Mims. Infinger resigned in April 2019, according to the Demopolis Times. It was not immediately clear Friday where Stewart is currently employed, but Mims remains listed as a teacher on the U.S. Jones website. “The Demopolis City Board of Education has only recently learned of a lawsuit filed against them on behalf of McKenzie Adams,” the school system’s attorney, Alex Braswell, said in a statement obtained by WSFA in Montgomery. “While we are not permitted to discuss pending litigation, the Demopolis Board of Education can say that we look forward to defending this case and dispelling the allegations made therein.” ‘Tell it to the wall because I do not want to hear it’ The lawsuit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages, alleges that McKenzie, who was enrolled at U.S. Jones Elementary for the 2018-2019 school year, was “targeted and taunted” by a white 9-year-old in her class, who called her the N-word and an “ugly a** bit**.” The abuse took place both in the classroom and in the school gym, her family claims. “According to information and belief, on Oct. 24, 2018, (the boy) passed a note to McKenzie in which he called her a “bit**” while in the classroom of defendant Mims,” the lawsuit states. He also used sexually explicit terms in the note. The Adams family believes the abuse stemmed from the fact that McKenzie went to and from school with a white friend and the friend’s mother. McKenzie wrote in her diary Nov. 5, 2018, that two boys at school had been bullying her, the suit alleges. “Upon information and belief, on the date of her death, Dec. 3, 2018, (the boy) told McKenzie to kill herself, told her that she was better off dead, and instructed her on the manner to take her own life,” the lawsuit says. McKenzie’s mother and grandmother say Mims, who was McKenzie’s math teacher at the time of her death, was aware but “deliberately indifferent” to the bullying taking place. Janice Adams, the girl’s grandmother, attempted in August 2018 to set up a meeting with Mims to discuss the ongoing abuse. “Plaintiff Janice Adams never received a return call from Mims,” the suit states. She tried again in September to set up a meeting to discuss the abuse and what it was doing to McKenzie’s “state of mind.” “On Oct. 1, 2018, she received a generic notice that there was no need for a parent-teacher conference,” the lawsuit says. Progress reports came out that month, and McKenzie’s report indicated she was failing math, the class Mims taught. Ordinarily, her family told media outlets, McKenzie excelled in math. “Plaintiff Janice Adams was aware that McKenzie was struggling in the course due to emotional challenges resulting from the bullying and harassment that McKenzie was experiencing in her class,” the complaint said. “Concerned about McKenzie’s state of mind, plaintiff Janice Adams went to Mims’ classroom on Oct. 12, 2018, to request a meeting with Mims. “At that time, Plaintiff Janice Adams identified (the alleged bully), informed Mims that McKenzie was being bullied by him, and asked that the school address the bullying. Plaintiff Janice Adams left her contact information for a follow-up meeting. Mims failed to call her back.” The lawsuit states that Infinger was present for the meeting and was made aware of the supposed bullying going on in Mims’ classroom. Janice Adams claims the principal failed to act. On Oct. 24, Mims obtained the harassing note the boy passed McKenzie in class. Mims contacted the girl’s grandmother and told her that, instead of disciplining the boy, McKenzie would be disciplined for responding to the bullying, the lawsuit states. Talking to law enforcement officials later, Mims admitted that there were two boys, including the one indicated in the lawsuit, who “bothered” everyone in the class, the court document says. Mims told police the boy was “often jumping around and striking other children.” She called him a “clown” and said the boy was always in trouble. Despite his behavior, the lawsuit alleges, no action was taken to discipline the boy for his harassment of McKenzie. McKenzie complained to the teacher multiple times about the bullying. “Upon information and belief, on numerous occasions, Mims instructed McKenzie to ‘tell it to the wall because I do not want to hear it,’” the lawsuit states. Read the entire federal lawsuit filed on behalf of McKenzie Adams below.  The lawsuit alleges that Mims admitted to law enforcement that she was aware that the boy was engaged in conduct defined as bullying by Demopolis City Schools, that he specifically targeted McKenzie and that McKenzie’s family was concerned about the emotional impact the bullying had on the girl. “Upon information and belief, Mims was aware that one risk factor for suicidal ideation was bullying,” the suit says. The complaint states that Mims violated school and district policy by failing to notify Infinger, the principal, or the central office of the first instance of bullying. She also failed to inform them of the continual bullying and failed to take action on her own to stop the harassment, the document says. “Defendant’s deliberate indifference created a dangerous environment and barred McKenzie’s access to a safe learning environment. As the direct result of Mims’ conduct, McKenzie committed suicide,” the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit also blames Infinger’s lack of action for the girl’s death. It states she had actual knowledge of the behavior toward McKenzie and failed to train teachers and administrators on gender- and race-specific bullying. Stewart is named in the lawsuit because McKenzie’s family alleges that Mims gave the harassing note of Oct. 24, 2018, to the assistant principal and she did nothing to stop the bullying. “Stewart contacted McKenzie’s family on Oct. 25, 2018, regarding the note,” the lawsuit states. “At that time, plaintiff Janice Adams informed Stewart that McKenzie was being bullied and had been bullied since the commencement of the school year.” Stewart informed Adams that McKenzie would be punished for responding to the note. It was not clear in the filing what the girl’s response was. “Following the phone call with plaintiff Janice Adams, Stewart spoke on a three-way phone call with plaintiff Janice Adams and McKenzie’s mother, plaintiff Jasmine Adams, to discuss McKenzie’s discipline regarding the note,” according to the lawsuit. “Plaintiff Jasmine Adams expressed concern about the bullying, the harassment and the fact that McKenzie was being disciplined by U.S. Jones.” The distraught mother informed Stewart that she planned to contact the State Department about the persistent bullying and harassment. “Stewart asked plaintiff Jasmine Adams not to contact the State Department and stated that U.S. Jones would handle the matter,” the suit says. “However, U.S. Jones did not handle the matter.” The lawsuit alleges that the school system did not adhere to state and federal anti-bullying measures. It claims that all the defendants named in the complaint had participated in the Jason Flatt Suicide Prevention Program, a program by The Jason Foundation designed to provide professional development for teachers and youth workers so they can better identify children at risk for suicide. The foundation was created in 1997 by Clark Flatt after his 16-year-old son, Jason Flatt, died by suicide. The lawsuit also claims the school and district failed to comply with the Jamari Terrell Williams Bullying Prevention Act, which AL.com reported was enacted to strengthen the state’s 2009 anti-harassment law. The act requires schools to define, control, report and stop bullying. The act is named after 10-year-old Jamari Williams, a gifted Montgomery dancer and honor roll student who took his own life Oct. 11, 2017, after being bullied for “being different,” according to the website for a foundation set up in his name. The federal lawsuit in McKenzie’s death accuses the district of violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on gender, as well as Title VI, which prohibits discrimination based on race. The lawsuit also accuses the school system of denying Adams equal protection under the 14th Amendment. It asks for compensatory damages “in an amount that will fully compensate McKenzie and her family for all they suffered” and such punitive damages that would “properly punish them for the constitutional, statutory and common law violations perpetrated upon McKenzie as alleged herein, in an amount that will serve as a deterrent to defendants and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.” Since McKenzie’s death, her aunt, Eddwina Harris, has been working to kickstart an anti-bullying organization called the McKenzie Foundation. A GoFundMe page set up to collect donations has raised $12,830 of its $20,000 goal. A large portion of the work of the McKenzie Foundation appears to be public speaking on the dangers of bullying. “If you knew your child was at a place where there was a ticking time bomb, you would come and get them out,” Eddwina Harris told the News following her niece’s funeral. “The time is now to get them out of a dangerous situation.” As for the national publicity McKenzie’s death received, Harris said she believed it would do some good in the wake of tragedy. “It’s touching that one little 9-year-old girl has changed the lives and minds of so many people and it’s going to stick with us for the rest of our lives,” she said.
  • Two months after a young mother was found shot to death in a southside apartment off Gate Parkway, Jacksonville Police have announced an arrest.  Police obtained an arrest warrant on Thursday for 23-year-old Keeshawn Glover for charges of second degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 24-year-old Felisia Williams was found dead in her home at the Gardens of Bridge Hampton Apartments near Belfort Road.  Family and friends say Williams had a 4-year-old daughter.  According to JSO, Williams and Glover knew each other, but they did not elaborate on their relationship.  

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