CW44 News - 6.16.2020 - McKeonSTARTING THIS WEEK HILLSBOROUGH OFFERS MORE FREE COVID 19 TESTING. SITES FROM WIMAUMA TO SUN CITY CENTER TO PLANT CITY TO BRANDON TO RUSKIN TO TWO TAMPA LOCATIONS— PLUS MOBILE TESTING.
CW44 News - 6.16.2020 - Alvarez“We have about 20,000 students enrolled in virtual Summer Bridge. Yesterday we began opening our campuses back up for some different programs including athletics,” said Kevin Hendrick, Assoc. Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services. Tampa Bay students are back on school grounds!! Thursday, Governor DeSantis announced his recommendations to safely reopen Florida’s education system. Pinellas County Schools are finalizing plans for students to head back to class in August, but some major changes are being considered. “Of course there’s a long time and one of the things we’ve all learned in the last couple months is things change on a regular basis so we’ll see what that looks like come August 12th but we’re planning for multiple scenarios,” said Hendrick. During the summer bridge period, the district distributed 26,000 computers and other devices to students for continued education. “In many cases, parents were able to see teachers live, see what the lessons look like and support their children in different ways,” said Hendrick. And an upside to Covid-19’s impact on the district is the access to new resources for students. School officials say learning from distance gave them an opportunity to explore new educational options and some of those techniques are being adopted into their school system given the positive effect on student engagement. “Because they had technology support, because they had internet access at home. So as a school district, we’re going to try to extend that forever. We don’t think there’s ever a reason to why the students should be at home without internet and without a computer device,” said Hendrick. During a special Pinellas County School Board Workshop Tuesday morning, officials addressed specific protocols on how classrooms and workspaces will be sanitized. “What we’re asking them to do now is, from this point forward, every single night, to clean in a very prescribed protocol,” said Clint Herbic, Assoc Superintendent, Operational Services. And Hendrick says there’s a tunnel vision focus on helping students academically and emotionally as they reopen. “Face to face instruction with a high quality teacher is always going to be the best way, being around others their age and growing and learning. When you’re doing this digitally, there’s a chance that those things slide,” said Hendrick. Hendrick says it may take a couple years to get new computers in every student’s hand, but it’s become a long term goal. Pinellas County Schools’ final back to school plans will be released on July 14th. Stick with CW44 News at 10 for this developing story.
CW44 News - 6.15.2020 - Clearwater Beach Sidewalk Poetry Contest WinnersClearwater, Fla. – The city of Clearwater is excited to announce the winners of the city’s first-ever, city-wide poetry competition, “Poetry Made Concrete.” The five winning poems will be featured in the coming months on Clearwater’s sidewalks for the life of the walkway, by stamping the poems into the concrete of newly constructed and repaired sidewalks in five locations throughout the city. The city received more than 200 submissions from Clearwater residents and students. Thanks to the judges who participated: Dr. Greg Byrd – Professor at SPC-Clearwater, and published poet and author. Sarah Hayes – Countryside High School student. Juliahna Green – Clearwater Neighborhoods Coordinator. Howard Smith – Community Redevelopment Business Administrator and Diversity Leadership Committee Member. Lisa Baughman – Clearwater Librarian. “This program brings art and literature to the public realm by transforming something as ordinary as a sidewalk into a work of art. We hope that when residents happen upon these poems around the city, it will add moments of surprise and inspiration to an otherwise unassuming public space” said Juliahna Green, Neighborhoods Coordinator. The winners of Clearwater’s 2020 Poetry Made Concrete competition are Jason Fritsky, Karen Cunningham, Kathryn Marquina, Ted Knapp, and Shayna Walker. Their poems can be found here: https://www.myclearwater.com/residents/neighborhood-services/clearwater-placemaking-hub/sidewalk-poetry. The Poetry Made Concrete program is part of the city’s placemaking initiative to make public spaces fun and engaging. This is the sixth placemaking project the city has launched this year. The city has also introduced sidewalk rain art, signal box art, storm drain mural program, the little free library program, and dumpster art. All programs are active and have received widespread community interest and support.
CW44 News - 6.15.2020 - LGBTQ Supreme Court WinLGBTQ Supreme Court Win. Employers may not discriminate against LGBTQ employees.
CW44 News - 6.15.2020 - Alvarez“People call in primarily because they’re stressed, they lost their job, they’re sitting at home, drinking, using drugs and it’s really starting to catch up with them,” said Linda McKinnon, President/CEO, Central Florida Behavioral Health Network. In such unprecedented times, alcohol and substance abuse patient numbers have inevitably become a focus in healthcare. “We have been dealing for the last couple years with opioid abuse, of course methamphetamine,” said Mckinnon. Pinellas County, in particular, is seeing an uptick in substance abusers according to CFBHN. “E.R.s and the hospitals are starting to see a surge in people coming in mainly related to bad methamphetamine. And the other, Pinellas County is sort of specific with this, we have not really been able to address the surge with fentanyl,” said McKinnon. So Tuesday, Pinellas County officials announced they’re funding $40,000 in government grant to local substance abuse program providers to help fight the issue. But the McKinnon explains that a grant this size is merely a drop in the bucket. In fact, it’s hardly comparable to amounts in annual funding the state has recently received to solve the drug and alcohol abuse problem. “This particular grant is not a large amount of money and it really, on it’s own wouldn’t address a whole lot of issues, [like] detox to residential care to outpatient, group,” said McKinnon. Total state and federal funding for substance abuse treatment reached more than $174 million from 2019 - 2020, according to CFBHN. The Network provides the money as a safety net for families who don’t have insurance or any other resources. The CFBHN received just over $69 million to grant the 14 counties in their Suncoast Region. Of this amount, Pinellas County received more than $9 million for adult substance abuse treatment and over $2 million for children’s substance abuse treatment totaling over $11 million in funding for the county. “And that is targeted directly to opioid overdose. The Feds have just changed that so that next year we’ll be able to expand that and work with people on methamphetamine and other drugs, because we know it’s not just one drug,” said McKinnon. And while this amount seems sustainable, McKinnon says Florida is among the most underfunded states when it comes to mental health and substance abuse. “We have been for many many years. We’re considered, 48, 49, or 50th in the nation and have to spread our funds to try to ensure a safety net,” said McKinnon Since COVID-19, of course traditional patient care has changed. McKinnon says in January, the CFBHN provided about 1,158 telehealth services, and by the end of April, they provided more than 54,000 telehealth service calls. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call this free helpline at 844 MYFLHLP (844-693-5457)
CW44 News - 6.12.2020 - McKeonHillsborough County Parks and Rec Centers Reopen following COVID-19 Lockdown
CW44 News - 6.12.20.2020 - AlvarezGov. DeSantis announces plans to reopen all public schools across Florida.
CW44 News - 6.11.2020 - McKeonAN UPWARD TREND IN COVID 19 CASES AND NEW DATA IN Hillsborough CREATES CONCERN AND PROMPTS THE COUNTY’S EMERGENCY POLICY GROUP TO MAKE THE DECISION TO MEET MORE OFTEN.
CW44 News - 6.11.2020 - AlvarezTampa Bay Non-Profit Focusing On Assisting Minority Founders
CW44 News - 6.10.2020 - McKeonHillsborough County Emergency Management Meeting - Spikes in new infections
CW44 News - 6.10.2020 - AlvarezCOVID-19 Assistance Program in Clearwater
CW44 News - 6.9.2020 - McKeonSt. Pete Giving Away 10,000 Masks To Residents and Workers
CW44 News - 6.9.2020 - AlvarezA TAMPA NATIVE AND BEST SELLING AUTHOR IS SPEAKING OUT ABOUT RACIAL TENSION IN AMERICA!! SHE SAYS IT’S TIME TO HAVE THOSE UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS – IN ORDER TO MAKE PROGRESS
CW44 News - 6.8.2020 - AlvarezST. PETE POLICE DEPARTMENT CHANGES POLICY IN RESPONSE TO RECENT PROTESTERS
CW44 News - 6.8.2020 - McKeonNew COVID-19 Testing Site in Brandon, FL
CW44 News - 6.5.2020 - AlvarezPinellas County Commissioners Meeting - Addressing economic losses from pandemic and new parks
CW44 News - 6.5.2020 - McKeonDoctors urging protesters to protect themselves from COVID-19.
CW44 News - 6.4.2020 - McKeonIN LESS THAN TWO HOURS THE GOVERNOR'S PHASE 2 OF HIS STEP BY STEP RECOVERY PLAN ROLLS OUT. CW 44'S PRICE MCKEON BREAKS DOWN WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THIS NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER.
CW44 News - 6.4.2020 - George Floyd Minn. Funeral ServicesGeorge Floyd Minn. Funeral Services
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CW44 News - 6.4.2020 - AlvarezPINELLAS COUNTY (CW44 News at 10) - People continue to march throughout Tampa Bay in peaceful protest against police brutality, systemic racism and in George Floyd's memory. CW44's Andrea Alvarez spoke with Lorielle Hollaway, the owner of Cultured Books in St. Petersburg, who says she's looking to help change the narrative in her community. Tucked in the Southwest corner of St. Petersburg, you'll find towering walls bursting with black history and proud black business owners fighting to change the dynamic of their city. Among this backdrop stands, Cultured Books, colloquially known as 'The Deuces', which specializes in presenting multicultural books that share positive stories about people of color, black in particular. "We see you, we're not backing down. We're not letting you continue to have systemic racism in place - affecting our communities. We can only tell you what's happening, but we need the people in the government to act on it, to do something about it. We started the bookstore around 2017, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do as far as being in college and essentially the bookstore came about. It is my way of activism, making sure that the narrative that black and brown children are inferior or less than, that it's not pushed to them." For this mother of three, her focus is the future. Not just for her, but for her girls. "In perfect world, my daughters wouldn't have to deal with racism. They are eight years old. 10 years old and 18 months. Black children, they have to live with [racism]." Ms. Hollaway remarked, visibly moved by emotion. Like so many other protesters taking to the streets, she is looking to change the narrative of this story. In regards to the violent element of the protests, Hollaway said, "Don't take it into your hands to be destructive because that isn't helping us. When the looting and the rioting and the [inaudible] calling, that's just another dog-whistle term that is not directed to you. It's directed to black people. Racism isn't just calling someone a derogatory term, it can be the way that our communities are run, the way that our schools are underfunded. The food deserts. The book deserts." Her vision for the future includes more than just those marching. "...there is privilege in being white. Use [that] privilege to benefit and to uplift friends who are black. Family members who are black. Communities who have black people in it. That's my hope."
CW44 News - 6.4.2020 - Ahmaud Arbery Case UpdatesAhmaud Arbery Case Updates
CW44 News - 6.3.2020 - McKeonTampa News Conference following Tuesday Night's Violence
CW44 News - 6.3.2020 - AlvarezST. PETERSBURG (CW44 News at 10) - City of St. Petersburg officials stood among protesters at the steps of City Hall Wednesday morning to deliver a message addressing recent protests on police brutality in America. Protesters and bystanders listened as Mayor Rick Kriseman, local pastors and other officials spoke. “We are proud that we are on the cusp of a new most welcoming world that works for all of us. But we know there is much work, still, to be done,” said Dr. Kanika Tomalin, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator of St. Petersburg. “We have some healing to do. We have some work to do. To all the genuine people that are out there doing the work, I salute you, I love you. Thank you,” said one of the local pastors. Just hours before, peaceful protesters took to the streets of St. Pete once again. “I have to say its super super nice to see all the young people out here today. They’re the future and having them here supporting this is really awesome,” said Trina Fard, a Protester in the video.“My feet are killing me, but I have to say it’s a reminder of the pain, which is miniscule to what these young men, young black men who were murdered in cold blood felt in their last moments. So, we do it because it’s important and their voice has been silenced forever and now we have to be their voice.” But city leaders say, as nighttime fell, so did the message for some. “For most of that last four days and nights, we’ve also had some of the very best protesters in the country. But we’ve also had those who have failed to convey a clear message; who have chosen not to lift their voices, but lift bottles, rocks and fireworks,” said Mayor Kriseman. According to the St. Pete Police Department, just before midnight, protesters returned to police headquarters and officers announced it was an unlawful assembly, prompting protesters to head out. Minutes later, police say they launched smoke bombs and protesters began throwing fireworks back. Twenty three people were arrested after refusing to leave and a bag with fireworks was confiscated. “Our people have been speaking up and we have been listening, but the key thing is, I don’t think we’ve been hearing them. We’re going to start hearing some people,” said St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway. Still, peaceful protesters are keeping a tunnel vision focus as they march on. “Find a place. Join a protest. Make your voice heard. Support black lives, they need it… especially now,” said Fard. President and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League, Watson Haynes II presented a ten point plan which is being reviewed and potentially instilled into legislation which could make a national impact. Stick with cw44 news for this developing story.

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