Issues of Interest

TWITTER SCAM A 17-year-old Tampa teenager and a 22-year-old Orlando man were arrested in conjunction with a hack on Twitter where they took over prominent individuals’ accounts and attempted to solicit bitcoin contributions from those individuals’ followers. They netted approximately $117,000 before being caught.

LAKE OKEECHOBEE The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Water Policy and Ecosystem Project’s Innovative Grant Program will award $5.2 million in funding to the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. The grant recipients will implement enhanced nutrient removal technologies, monitor water quality, share data, and work to improve the relationship between environmental conditions and nutrient dynamics in Lake Okeechobee.

GRANT FUNDING The Rural Infrastructure Fund, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, provided $900,000 in awards to two rural Northeast Florida communities to improve infrastructure. The award recipients were Columbia County, for funding the construction of a natural gas main loop; and White Springs, to help fund construction, engineering and inspection services to improve their sewer system transmission capabilities. Additionally, 26 Community Planning Technical Assistance grants were awarded to local governments and regional planning councils. The grant program assists communities with the creation of innovative planning and development strategies to promote economic diversity, while protecting environmentally sensitive areas. To view the grant recipients, go here.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING LOANS The Florida Housing Finance Corporation will relaunch the Hurricane Michael Recovery Loan Program to assist those who were impacted by the 2018 hurricane to find housing. The program will provide $10 million in down payment assistance to Floridians in the following impacted counties: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington.

NEW AREA CODE The Florida Public Service Commission approved the addition of a new area code for the Florida Panhandle – 448 – beginning March 20th. Customers will have six months to transition, beginning August 22nd, when local calls can be made by dialing either 7 or 10 digits. Starting February 10, 2021, ten-digit dialing will be needed for all calls in the 850 area code.