Florida

Record-setting 17-foot Burmese python caught in South Florida, officials say

The largest Burmese python ever seen in South Florida wasn’t able to slither her way out of being captured earlier this week. A snake hunter captured the female snake while on South Florida Water Management District property in Miami-Dade County Monday night, the agency announced in a press release Wednesday. Homestead resident Kyle Penniston was credited for reeling in the elongated reptile, which was measured at 17 feet, 5 inches and weighed in at 120 pounds, according to the SFWMD. The python is the third to have been caught as part of the agency’s Python Elimination Program that measured more than 17 feet. Snake hunters for the SFWMD have captured 1,859 of the invasive species on district-owned land, according to the press release. “Eliminating invasive species such as Burmese pythons is critical to preserving the rare Everglades ecosystem,” the SFWMD said. “Florida taxpayers have invested billions of dollars to restore the water quality and hydrology of the Everglades. Reducing the populations of invasive plants and animals is necessary to ensure this investment results in meeting the shared goals of the overall restoration plan. The combined length of the snakes caught so far is more than two miles, while they have collectively weighed more than 11 tons. Penniston alone is credited with eliminating 235 snakes, the second-most in the program, while Miami resident Brian Hargrove comes in at first place with 257 snakes caught, the agency said. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission manages a similar program named the Python Removal Contractor Program,which enlists qualified individuals to survey areas of state-owned land for pythons. The snakes are then humanely euthanized according to guidelines set by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Prominent figures such as U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla) and celebrity chief Gordon Ramsey have taken part in the hunts, according to the SFWMD.

To see photos of this monster python, click on the text above.       🙂

How a 2-star Army general took charge of a broken city

Mark McQueen’s sand-colored combat boots have walked the ground during many disasters. Afghanistan. Iraq. Florida’s Panama City. The two-star general had no sooner retired from the Army and started his job as city manager for this Gulf Coast community when it was slammed by a category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Michael became the most devastating hurricane to hit Florida in decades. Almost all of Panama City’s water, sewer, electric and cell services were wiped out. Despite McQueen having no municipal experience and having been on the job only two weeks, city leaders say he’s exactly the man they need for the long recovery ahead. “I believe the Lord sent him,” said Panama City Commissioner Billy Rader. “God knew this was going to happen before we did.” The 58-year-old was a rare choice when commissioners picked him out of a candidate pool of 80 people, and not just because his experience was from the military. When McQueen accepted the job six months ago, he asked the commission for a grace period to wrap up his military service and end his a civilian job as a church’s business administrator. There was another pressing matter, too. “There was a gentleman who needed a kidney,” he says casually. That’s right. In the last four months, McQueen has retired from the military, started a new job, helped coordinate one of the largest hurricane responses since Katrina, and donated a kidney. To a stranger. In August, he donated his left kidney to a man at his church, and took a few weeks to recover (the recipient is doing well). McQueen came to Panama City in 1988 for a job at a local community college. He met his wife here, and they raised their two children here. Over the years, he rose in the ranks of the military, from officer to Special Operations Command, to his final assignment as commanding general of the 108th Training Command headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, he commanded some 7,000 soldiers. One of their tasks was to repair Baghdad’s infrastructure. Another, more recent assignment was to help orchestrate the emergency response to Hurricane Florence on Sept. 14. He missed a recent city commission meeting because of that. On Sept. 24, he marked his first day on the job, and outlined to the local paper what he wanted to accomplish in his first 120 days. He spoke of looking “down and in” and “up and out” to set the framework for a long-term strategic plan. He mentioned five-year goals and a long-term vision that stretched toward 2050. All that lasted approximately two weeks. When Hurricane Michael bore down on Florida’s Panhandle, he ordered an evacuation for parts of the city and unrolled his Army bed mat and camouflage blanket in the corner of the police chief’s office. As the eyewall of the monster storm passed over the city, the police station’s roof threatened to lift. Water trickled into the building. When the storm passed, he surveyed the damage in this city of 40,000 people. Ninety percent of all the power poles were down. One of the two wastewater treatment plants was inoperable. Cellphones weren’t working. The city’s lush tree canopy was in splinters, covering roads and homes. “This is Baghdad with trees,” he said. “One hundred percent collapse of infrastructure.” His own home wasn’t damaged — “only a few roof tiles” — which allowed him to pour all of his focus into the city. Now, more than two weeks since the storm, he’s still sleeping in the chief’s office, but took a day to fly to Washington, D.C. His retirement ceremony from the military was Friday. It was his first day off since before the storm. After, he plans to return to Panama City and pull on his combat boots for the long haul. He knows he has his work cut out for him. Tens of thousands of homes are unlivable, and in a city where 75 percent of the schoolchildren get free or reduced price lunch, it will be a challenge to find affordable housing — or any housing at all — for the needy. Said McQueen: “I’m going to rebuild the economic engine of the city. We’re going to work the problem, and create a solution.”

We know you will, Sir.  Gongrats on your retirement, General….and for all your hard work in Panama City.    🙂

Donald Trump Taunts Florida Democrats for Nominating Socialist Andrew Gillum

President Donald Trump celebrated Wednesday that the Republican nominee for Florida governor was facing a radical socialist in the election. “Not only did Congressman Ron DeSantis easily win the Republican Primary, but his opponent in November is his biggest dream,” Trump marveled on Twitter. “A failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city.” Gillum surprised the Democrat establishment in Flordia with a primary victory. He was endorsed by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and ran on a platform of universal health care, a $15 an hour minimum wage, abolishing ICE, and repealing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” gun defense law. “This is not what Florida wants or needs!” Trump wrote on Twitter. Gillum was endorsed by liberal billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros and published a video calling for Trump’s impeachment.

Armed 70-Year-Old Turns Tables, Kills 18-Year-Old Robbery Suspect

An armed 70-year-old Orange County, Florida, homeowner opened fire on two 18-year-old armed robbery suspects Wednesday, killing one. The homeowner was also shot and wounded during the confrontation. According to WFTV, Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jeff Williamson said, “We believe their intent was to commit an armed burglary of the residence. Unbeknownst to them, the resident of the home was inside.” Moreover, the resident, 70-year-old Juan Jose Carraballo, was armed. Carraballo exchanged gun with Gerald Anderson, killing him on the scene and causing the second suspect, Luismil Hernandez, to flee through the rear of the home. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Carraballo’s wife came home from work shortly thereafter to find him “crawling on the ground.” He was bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds but told his wife, “[I] shot one of them.” Carraballo was rushed to the hospital for surgery and emerged in stable condition. Hernandez was arrested Friday and charged with “armed burglary and first-degree felony murder.” He is being held without bond.

Good for Mr. Carraballo for standing his ground against these maggots!  We wish him a speedy recovery!

 

Florida cop taunts would-be killer with lube on way to prison: ‘You are going to need a lot of this’

A police officer taunted the Jacksonville man who shot him multiple times last year by taking out a tube of K-Y Jelly personal lubricant in court Wednesday and saying, “You are going to need a lot of this,” local reports said. Kevin Rojas, then 19, shot the undercover police officer three times during a 2016 traffic stop, including once in the face, the Florida Times-Union reported. The critically-wounded officer, who was taking his son to school during the incident, returned fire but did not hit Rojas. His son was not injured. Local reports did not identify the undercover officer. In October, Rojas was found guilty of numerous felonies, including attempted first-degree murder, grand theft auto, attempted manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday. The wounded officer, who formerly served in the Army, began by calling Rojas a coward at the sentencing hearing, the Florida Times-Union reported. “I will take those bullets instead of a fellow officer and an innocent bystander,” the officer said, according to the Times-Union. “When I brought the fight back to you, you ran like a coward.” The officer then produced a tube of K-Y Jelly and told Rojas he would “need a lot” of it in prison, according to local reports. When questioned by a judge in a 30-minute hearing about the stunt, the officer refused to comment, the Times-Union reported. The officer’s supervisors were aware of the incident and will address it, according to local reports.

Let’s hope those sups give the good officer a medal!  The man took 3 bullets, including one in the face!!  His little “stunt” was funny and the judge should have laughed or shook his head and let it go; NOT berate the poor officer for such a little thing.  Glad this piece of garbage Kevin Rojas was given life in prison.

Your Orange Juice is definitely going to cost more

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will release its first citrus production forecast for Florida’s 2017-2018 Thursday after Hurricane Irma swept the Sunshine State more than a month ago, wiping away a majority of its treasured crop. Initial reports indicated that 50-70% of citrus crops have been washed away due to the storm. Florida’s Department of Citrus told FOX Business that farmers across the state are reporting anywhere from 30-70% crop loss over the last few weeks. Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said that the Florida Citrus industry as a whole has taken a “heavy hit” this hurricane season. “Before the hurricane, we were expecting more than 75 million boxes of oranges on the trees this season. Sadly, that’s no longer the case. This may, temporarily, mean less Florida Orange Juice on grocery store shelves and a corresponding price increase,” she said, without elaborating on how much the price hike will be. Yet, Florida’s Department of Citrus says despite the massive setback and soon-to-be price jumps, it is confident that no shortages will happen.

Florida: Elderly white woman followed home from store, robbed in driveway by black male thug

An 86-year-old woman had just gotten home from grocery shopping at Walmart when an armed man ran up behind her and demanded her purse. Investigators later told her she had been followed home from the store by the suspects. It happened Sunday around 12:30 p.m. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is now on the hunt for the suspect and his getaway driver. The victim wasn’t hurt. But she’s too shaken up to talk about what happened, after having a gun pointed right at her. Fortunately for investigators, a camera caught the whole thing. Surveillance images show the woman in her driveway unloading groceries, unaware of the threat behind her. Walking up from the street is a man raising a semi-automatic handgun, completely aware of who and what he’s after. “Nothing more despicable than robbing our elderly and victimizing our children,” said Larry McKinnon, Public Information Officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The woman had been shopping at the Walmart on Causeway Boulevard. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says the woman had just bought groceries. She loaded them into her vehicle and drove home. But she wasn’t alone. “They clearly knew it was an elderly woman. They did surveillance on her from the store,” McKinnon said. Investigators say at least two suspects followed her home and parked nearby. Once she started unloading her groceries, a black man – wearing a red hat, red bandana, and a black shirt, pants, and shoes – got out of the passenger seat of a 2014-2017 dark gray Toyota Corolla and ran toward her. The man was armed with a silver semi-automatic handgun and forcefully removed her purse before running back to the car and taking off. “They followed her home and not only took her purse, but I guess felt the need that somehow they had to produce a gun to make her give up her purse as if she was some type of threat,” McKinnon said. The victim’s purse was found in a trash can at the Git-N-Go on Rideout Road in Tampa a short time later. “Obviously, they were for quick cash, credit cards,” McKinnon said. Frequent Walmart shoppers like Nichole Davenport are concerned to hear of a crime like this originating at a store they find relatively safe. “The guy has got to be pretty desperate,” Davenport said. “To know that somebody followed someone home from this store, it’s pretty creepy. It attributes to the fact that we are living in a day and age where we need to be aware of our surroundings.” Though the victim got away unharmed, investigators are anxious to get these thieves off the street before someone else is. “It really just goes to display how despicable these suspects are to do that to anyone, not to mention an elderly woman like this,” McKinnon said. Anyone with any information about the suspects is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 813-247-8200. Anyone who wants to be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS(8477) or report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com

Just awful!!  What a piece of garbage!!  We’re just glad the poor woman is ok, and that they found her purse, minus her credit cards (which can be replaced) and some cash.  It could have been far worse.  That said, if you are in Hillsborough County, FL and know something, please call that number above.  This oxygen thief and his accomplice(s) need to be found and arrested.  Unreal..