Nick Evans

Reporter/Producer

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University.  He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU.  While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter.  Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years.  He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan.  When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.

Local citizens gather at the Woodville Community Center
Nick Evans

Tallahassee Community College’s Wakulla Environmental Institute hopes to train a generation of future park rangers, and they believe a tract of land on the west side of Wakulla Springs State Park could be the perfect classroom.  The nearly 2,000 acre parcel includes Cherokee Sink, a popular swimming hole closed in 2009. 

Adrian Wyllie speaks with the Granstroms standing at his side.
Nick Evans

A group of Floridians is calling for changes to the family court system.

The sun beat down on the steps of the old Capitol building as rally organizers Tina and Ray Granstrom set up signs.  Mr. Granstrom is divorced and says the family court’s custody rulings keep him from an active role in his childrens’ lives.

“I’m not a visitor, I’m a loving father,” Granstrom says, “and yet the family court calls me a visitor.”

Libertarian candidate for governor, Adrian Wyllie joined the organizers.  He says family court punishes good parents unnecessarily.

A neon sign reading medical with a marijuana leaf beneath it.
Chuck Coker via Flickr

According to recent polls, a plan to allow medical marijuana in Florida enjoys strong support among the state’s voters.   Opponents of the proposed amendment to the state constitution are ramping up the rhetoric.  But some, including one former attorney general, say the claims coming from organizations like Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot, may be a bit overblown.

A sign reading "Rape is the most common violent crim on American college campuses today"
Wolfram Burner via Flickr

Sexual violence on college campuses is an issue that has been simmering in the public consciousness for a long time.   But after national criticism of the Jameis Winston investigation, the issue has reached a full boil in Tallahassee. 

Students attending Wednesday's presidential search committee meeting.
Nick Evans

It’s no secret Florida State University’s presidential search has put a bitter taste in the mouths of many students, faculty, and alumni.   Several of these stakeholders made their voices heard at Wednesday’s presidential search committee meeting.

Some, like FSU student John Emanuello, followed the procedures, using the public comment time to call for a reset in the presidential search.

“Now’s the time to take a step back and revaluate and reassess how the search has gone and where it should go in the future,” Emanuello says.

A statue of Secretariat, the Belmont Stakes record holder, stands in the paddock at Belmont Park.
Wally Gobetz via Flickr

It’s funny how a horse race mirrors a horse’s career:  years of training, hours of television coverage, and hats that strain credulity.  And then the gate goes down, the horses are off, and whole thing is over in less than three minutes.  The race itself is only a small part of the spectacle, just as a horse’s racing career is only a small part of its life.  Barbi Moline of Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care, or Florida TRAC, works with horses after they’ve left racing.  Moline says every horse comes to her group with different needs.

Sally Falko via Flickr

The Florida Supreme Court heard a case Thursday questioning current limits on workers compensation.  At issue is a ruling at the District Court level addressing a potential gap between temporary and permanent disability coverage.

Bradley Westphal was a firefighter in St. Petersburg, and he injured his back while fighting a fire in 2009.  The injury left Westphal in a category known as "temporary total disability."  This means he was unable to work for the moment, but his doctors expected him to be able to work again at some point.

Local agencies say pregnancy health is vital to reducing infant mortality
Susan Collins via Flickr

The Florida Department of Health released data Wednesday on infant mortality rates in Leon County.  A sharp decline in deaths among black children is the highlight, but officials say it’s difficult to draw conclusions from a single year. 

After jumping to a rate of 9.3 per thousand in 2012, this new information shows infant deaths dropped all way to 5.3 per thousand in 2013.  Sandy Glazer with the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition says this shows their efforts are succeeding.

StarMetro bus rolling along the parade path during Springtime Tallahassee
Andy Callahan via Flickr

Teenagers have a lot of free time on their hands over the summer, but for those without wheels it can feel like being grounded.  Tallahassee’s StarMetro bus service has a plan to help them beat the cabin fever.

Without a car, getting from point A to point B in Tallahassee can be a challenge no matter what time of year it is.  When the mercury climbs into the 90s, it becomes even more difficult.  That’s why, city spokeswoman Heather Teter says, StarMetro is offering a multi-month pass to help kids 17 and under get around town during the summer. 

Elizabeth Ricci

Tallahassee resident Mario Hernandez has become a naturalized citizen after decades of thinking he already was  one. 

Hernandez came to the U.S. in the ‘60s from Cuba.  He was 9 years old.  Over the next few years, Hernandez lived a normal American life in Fullerton, California.  When he went into the Army in 1975, his citizenship status was checked, but in an interview with WFSU this March, Hernandez said he sailed right through the hearing.

Nick Evans

Last week 85 animals were taken out of a single house and delivered into the care of the Tallahassee-Leon Community Animal Service Center.  After a busy weekend, the shelter is well on its way to finding the animals new homes.

The cats were all given names taken from candy: things like Nestle, O’ Henry, and Tootsie.

Animal Services Director Erika Leckington says the influx of animals was a challenge, but the shelter had a very productive weekend.

Nick Evans

Update 5/15/2015 3:10 pm:

On Tuesday WFSU reported the Rickards High School Marching Band had been invited to the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  That was incorrect, but Band Leader Zachery Nealy says the Rickards Raiders have still been invited to a prestigious parade. 

“The crosshairs got mixed up,” Nealy says, “And so, no, it’s not the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as I’ve been advised to say, it’s not the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  It is the McDonalds Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

Ahmad Hashim

It’s no secret technology is becoming a bigger part of our lives.  The TalTech Alliance wants to make sure it’s also a bigger part of the local community. 

This was the impetus for the Tallahassee TechExpo.  The TalTech Alliance, a local organization promoting technology entrepreneurship, has been hosting this event for seven years with the goal of providing a chance for businesses and individuals to network and develop new projects in the area.  

Darius Norvilas

With the cost of groceries steadily climbing, some Leon County seniors are finding themselves unable to keep up.  Elder Care Services in Tallahassee maintains a food pantry to help out in emergencies, but even that is stretching thin.

Elder Care Services is a private non-profit in Tallahassee offering assistance like the Meals on Wheels program for local seniors.  Senior Solutions Specialist Ed Gines  says the group also operates an emergency food pantry providing groceries for seniors in need.

Sally Falko

David Beckham’s bid to extend a Florida sales tax rebate to his proposed Major League Soccer facility may be in jeopardy.  The Senate chose Thursday to delay a vote on the bill at the last minute.

Florida lawmakers feel sports facilities like stadiums have an important role to play in metropolitan environments.  Not only are they a significant source of tax revenue, but they can serve as a kind of hub supporting complimentary businesses like restaurants. 

Nick Evans

A bill meant to clarify the operation of small brewers in Florida passed the Senate Tuesday.  But, many see the the measure as an attempt to limit the growth of the craft brewing industry.

Throughout the country, craft or micro breweries have been growing in popularity.  The Brewers Association, a group promoting craft brewers, says nation-wide the industry provided over 100,000 jobs, and was worth about $14 million in 2013. 

Nick Evans

With Florida lawmakers returning from recess, House Democrats are highlighting what they see as missed opportunities.  They’re pushing a slate of what they call “Unfinished Business” - ignored legislation they hope can gain traction before the session ends.

“There are great things that need to be done that are not being done,” House Minority Leader Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale) says.  “There are a lot things that we need to get accomplished, and we’re spending the time squabbling back and forth and wasting good time that we could be helping Florida families.”

EcoEagles

Students from Florida’s Embry-Riddle University have designed a hybrid car that consumes energy as efficiently as a gas-powered car getting 100 miles per gallon.  This is based on an EPA formula comparing the energy used to charge the batteries with a gallon of gas – 33.7 kilowatt hours equals one gallon.

Danielle Spraggs

A bill making it easier for local homeless coalitions to receive state funding passed another hurdle Thursday.   

Services for the homeless at the local level are managed by what are known as “continuums of care.”  An important source of funding for these agencies comes in the form of so-called Challenge Grants, which require a continuum of care to match the funds they receive from the state. 

Nick Evans

In a controversial ruling last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down core provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  But some Florida lawmakers are working to put those protections back in place at the state level.

Under the Voting Rights Act, jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination were subject to federal review before making changes to their voting laws.  But the Supreme Court said the law did not reflect current conditions and American society is far different today than it was when Congress passed the act. 

Sarah Sosiak

Florida sales tax holidays have become popular tools encouraging consumer spending on items like school supplies.  But the omnibus tax holiday bill that passed the House Thursday is leaving some lawmakers wanting more.

Besides back-to-school shopping, Rep. Ritch Workman’s (R-Melbourne) bill includes temporary exemptions for energy-efficient appliances, hurricane preparedness supplies, and gym memberships. It also offers a permanent exemption for child car seats and bicycle helmets.

Nick Evans

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed four sex offender bills into law Tuesday during a public ceremony at the Capitol.  The event brought together a number of Republican lawmakers to show off the first bills passed by the Legislature.

Flanked by lawmakers, sheriffs and victims’ advocates, Scott said the package of bills will make the state safer.

e-Magine Art

Florida pharmacies are pushing a bill to increase the amount of support staff a registered pharmacist can legally oversee, but deciding where to draw that line is presenting challenges in the statehouse.

Rep. Mike La Rosa (R-St.Cloud) has proposed the bill allowing registered pharmacists to oversee up to six technicians.  The current limit is three. 

The change has drawn support from large pharmacy companies, but resistance from industry groups. So La Rosa has authored an amendment suggesting the Florida Board of Pharmacy hold discretion over any staff increases.

Nick Evans

Lobbying is often done with food, but seldom on this scale:

Six thousand key limes.

Two hundred pounds of graham crackers.

And 55 gallons of sweetened condensed milk.

It’s a modern take on an old adage – the organizers behind Florida Keys Day are hoping the fastest way to a lawmaker’s heart is through their stomach. The event has been a hit at the capitol for years now, but Chef David Sloan says this year’s pie makes it unique.

Susan Collins

Federal law bans discrimination based on pregnancy, but Florida law is less clear.  But the state Senate appears set to grant civil rights protection to pregnant Floridians.

Three Florida district court cases have wrangled with pregnancy discrimination.  In two, the courts found Florida law provides protection.  But in the most recent case, the court said pregnancy is not protected because it is not explicitly referenced in state statute.  Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) says her bill puts the matter to rest by adding pregnancy to the list of protections.

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