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Latest from Gene Wexler

    A new study from WalletHub finds smokers in the state of Florida spend $1,724,214 in their lifetime, enough to buy a big home and a few cars. The study also breaks down the cost per year with Florida smokers coming in at $33,808 annually.  Florida ranks number 21 on the list of all 50 states and D.C. in terms of cost: Georgia came in first with smokers spending $1,396,882 in a lifetime; Connecticut came in last with a massive $2,854,614 lifetime cost. WalletHub says for their calculations they “assumed an adult who smokes one pack of cigarettes per day beginning at age 18.”  They also “assumed a lifespan of 51 more years, taking into account that 69 is the average age at which a smoker dies.” As for the $1,724,214 lifetime figure, here are the costs in the categories calculated by WalletHub that lead up to that number: Out-of-pocket cost per smoker - $110,759 (rank 22) Financial-opportunity cost per smoker - $1,218,912 (rank 22) Health-care cost per smoker - $169,369 (rank 31) Income loss per smoker - $207, 603 (13) Other costs per smoker - $17,571 (50) Total cost over lifetime per smoker - $1,396,882 Total cost per year per smoker - $33,808 The CDC says smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.  Since 1964, smoking-related illnesses have claimed over 20 million lives in the U.S.  Of those deaths, 2.5 million were non-smokers who developed diseases from secondhand smoke exposure.
  • A Florida man set up a GoFundMe campaign in response to another raising money for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The “Support Tunnels Under Trumps Wall” campaign started by Rigo Torres has been shared more 321,000 times on social media, though it has only raised $2,765 over six days.   The “We The People Will Fund The Wall” campaign started by Miramar, Florida Purple Heart veteran Brian Kolfage has raised $17,488,742 in ten days with a goal of $1 billion. The description for Torres’ tunnels funding says: To the thousands of people raising money for a wall...... I’m raising money to supply tunnel builders with shovels...... I’m sure we won’t need the $150,000,000 but In all reality who gives a shit..... let’s see how much I can raise.... actually I’d donate to ACLU The American Civil Liberties Union which is focused on defending the rights of immigrant familiesand says it 'won't stop fighting until families are reunited.' The organization already has raised over $1 million, thanks in part to donations from celebrities like musician John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen.Let’s help these kids and parents be together and spend time with family, and not in detention centers.... Torres says he will donate the money to the American Civil Liberties Union.  Kolfage’s wall campaign says they will hold all funds until they have all legal aspects covered to make sure it goes towards actual border wall construction.
  • Winter Garden Police say “with great pleasure” that they’ve arrested a man wanted for a crime spree across Winter Garden and Orlando back in April. Police say Calvin Love, 45, is responsible for the string of robberies and burglaries, beginning with a shooting at the SunTrust bank in Winter Garden.  A man was shot twice at the ATM and lived. Police also believe Love carjacked a person, committed more robberies across Orange County, and even torched the vehicle he stole. Winter Garden Police say Love has been turned over to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for questioning on other cases.
  • In their 2018 Christmas special titled “’Tis the 30th Season,” The Simpsons made a low-key trip to a resort and theme park in Kissimmee, Florida.  Anyone not watching closely likely missed the reference; the word “Kissimmee” was never actually said by any character.  It was clearly shown on Homer Simpson’s computer screen as he was looking for a place to take the family on a Christmas vacation. “Kissimmee St. Nick Theme Park and Resort,” was seen on the screen followed by “ONLY 4 ROOMS LEFT BOOK NOW.” The warning about few remaining rooms made Homer quickly book it, only for the family to wind up at a hotel that looked like something out of the movie Psycho. And of course the show took a quick shot at Florida’s large population of senior citizens: The theme park the Simpsons travel to features a horrifying “Tunnel of Love,” a Gator Petting Zoo and a Hall of Vice Presidents.  The episode also made reference to Florida’s heavy thunderstorms as well as Disney.  The resort manager explains their local theme park can’t compete with the big ones, like Disney’s new “Family Guy World,” a park that does not actually exist.
  • New details are starting to emerge about Brightline’s proposed plan for rail service from Orlando to Tampa. The Orlando Business Journal looked through a 200-plus page regulatory filing by Brightline, which will become Virgin Trains USA in 2019 after partnering with Virgin Group. The filing from Nov. 16 states Brightline wants to begin passenger rail service from Orlando to Tampa in 2021.  They hope the entire trip will take an hour long. Orlando International Airport is currently building the new Orlando Brightline station, but the filing does not specify where the Tampa station will go.  It says it will go somewhere in the downtown area and the “Tampa expansion is contingent on our ability to obtain certain land rights, which requires that we demonstrate the financial wherewithal to complete our Florida passenger rail system.” The Orlando-Tampa expansion is expected to cost $1.7 billion.  Brightline is currently about $625 million in debt and hopes to fund the effort partly through its new partnership with Virgin. According to the Business Journal, Brightline expects to carry about 6.6 million passengers a year on its rail servcie between Miami and Orlando.  The Orlando-Tampa expansion would bring an additional 2.9 million passengers a year.
  • Pasco County deputies and members of the community are working together to bring awareness to people who fail to stop for a stopped school bus. On Wednesday, Monica Douglas recorded a video of a caravan of drivers blowing past a stopped school bus unloaded children on U.S. 19 in Pasco County.  According to WFLA-TV, deputies ticketed 13 people during their multi-day operation at that location. The U.S. has recently seen numerous incidents involving children being hit by cars while waiting for the bus.  In Tampa, a car hit five children and two adults waiting for a bus.  Two of those children suffered serious injuries. Here’s Douglas’ video of the Pasco County operation in action: (Video)
  • Clearwater Police found a stolen Krispy Kreme Doughnuts van on Tuesday afternoon in Crest Lake Park and decided to share the loot. The store manager gave the dozens of doughnuts still on board to the police officers, who enjoyed some for themselves and then gave the rest out to homeless people next to their police station. The Department made this post on their Facebook page: The van was actually found 300 miles from where it was stolen in Lake City.  Police haven’t identified suspects.
  • Osceola County is throwing a daylong festival to benefit its local first responders. Today Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins Jr. announced the event will raise funds for Back the Blue, LLC, a non-profit charity dedicated to helping first responders in Osceola County. Proceeds for the Hastings Ranch and Farm Fall Festival will go to the charity.  There will six to nine tribute bands scheduled to appear, playing music in the styles of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Boston, Styx, Journey, AC/DC and more. Representatives from Osceola’s law enforcement and fire departments will be there as well. The festival is on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10a to 9p at the Hastings Ranch and Farm located at 5452 Jones Road in St. Cloud.  CLICK HERE for more information.
  • Starting Friday, Sept. 20, Americans will be able to freeze their credit free of charge. It’s part of the new Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Trump on May 24.  The law largely loosened restrictions placed on banks after the financial crisis (many have called it the “Dodd-Frank rollback”), but it also made changes to the federal laws on consumer credit. Some financial experts believe credit freezes are one of the best ways to protect against identity thieves and stop new account fraud.  Now people can do it through the three major credit unions without paying a fee. Here’s how to freeze your credit for free: -TransUnion: Visit TransUnion.com/credit-freeze The company also has a free freeze mobile app called myTransUnion. -Equifax: Go to Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services or call its automated line at 800-685-1111 -Experian: Visit www.Experian.com/freeze or call 888-EXPERIAN A credit freeze blocks a lender from checking your report, which means a criminal would not be able to open an account using your personal data.  President Trump signed the new law into effect eight months after Equifax revealed its consumer database had been breached in a criminal cyber attack, exposing information of as many as 148 million consumers.  Depending on where they lived, consumers had to shell out anywhere from $3 to $10 per freeze and then another fee to lift it.
  • A home in Baldwin Park is heavily damaged after a crane toppled onto it on Tuesday morning.  Ironically, the home on Lower Park Road between Common Way Rd and Meeting Pl was getting roof repairs done when it happened around 11:30 a.m. One woman who lives in the neighborhood heard helicopters overhead and thought police were actively looking for a criminal. “I’m glad it’s not crime but I’m very sorry to hear that someone’s house is very damaged,” she said.  “I’m wondering how that happened.  It’s a pretty big mistake.” A representative for company that owns the crane, Beyel Brothers Crane and Rigging, said he was not authorized to speak at the time (around 2 p.m.). Orlando Police said the homeowners were notified.  The Orlando Fire Department confirmed they contacted Code Enforcement. Check back to News965.com for updates. (Tweet) (Tweet) (Tweet) (Tweet)
  • Gene Wexler

    Anchor

    Gene spent his youth in upstate New York before making the pilgrimage down to the sunshine state. After spending a few years reporting, anchoring, and hosting at our sister station WOKV in Jacksonville, Gene was asked to bring his talents to Orlando at News 96.5 WDBO

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • According to officials, a man said he was just joking when he threatened on social media to shoot third-graders at a North Carolina elementary school. >> Watch the news report here Isaiah David Napier, 18, is now charged with with making a false report concerning mass violence on an educational property. >> On WSOCTV.com: Man sends inappropriate Snapchats to 13-year-old boy, mother says Wake Forest authorities said Napier was arrested after a tipster pointed out a concerning Snapchat post. 'Any threat against school property and children of this county will be taken seriously no matter what your age and no matter the intent,' said Eric Curry, with the Wake County Sheriff's Office. Napier allegedly posted a picture of himself on Snapchat holding what appeared to be a rifle and threatened to shoot third-graders at a nearby school for calling his mom names. >> Read more news stories  Wake County deputies credit the person who notified law enforcement officers for Napier's arrest. 'They immediately took steps to call the authorities for us to step in to investigate. That's the kind of community support we need to have,' said Curry. Deputies said the weapon seen in Napier's post was actually an airsoft gun.
  • Nine people were hurt, two critically, in a military vehicle crash in New Mexico, authorities said Tuesday night. According to KDBC and KFOX, the wreck, which involved two Stryker vehicles, occurred about 7:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 54 in Otero County.  >> Read more trending news  The nine victims, all military personnel, were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Read more here or here.
  • A New York man was arrested Friday in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a well-known and beloved gas station manager who investigators said was trying to stop him from leaving without paying for $22 worth of gas.   Joshua E. Roston, 33, of Baldwin, was arrested in Philadelphia on a vehicular homicide warrant out of Nassau County, according to Nassau County police officials. Though he was in the process of being extradited, he remained in the Philadelphia Jail Tuesday morning.  Roston is accused of running over Cemal “John” Dagdeviren, 59, of Levittown, the morning of Jan. 14 after Dagdeviren, who managed the Pit Stop Repair Shop in Baldwin, confronted him over payment for gas that had been pumped into the 1999 GMC Suburban Roston was driving. The slaying of the Turkish immigrant, who moved his family to the United States 25 years ago, has made international news.  The entire incident was recorded by surveillance cameras at the Pit Stop, which is a combination gas station and repair shop. Dagdeviren was also a mechanic there.  Police officials said the incident began shortly before 7:30 a.m. that morning, when the driver of the Suburban asked that an attendant fill up his SUV’s gas tank at the full-service island. According to NBC News, Nassau County Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick told reporters at a news conference that the attendant became suspicious because the truck had no license plates and the driver was acting oddly.  “They stopped at $22 and asked him to pay at that time,” Fitzpatrick told reporters, according to the news network. “The attendant said to pull over to the side.” The driver, who was dressed in an orange knit hat and gray sweatshirt, went inside the store to pay, but gave the clerk a fake credit card that was declined, Fitzpatrick said. He then went back into the parking lot, where Dagdeviren stepped in and confronted him. The surveillance video, a portion of which was released by police officials, shows Dagdeviren talking with the driver as he goes back to the SUV and climbs inside. Dagdeviren appears to realize the man plans to drive off without paying and goes to the driver’s side door and knocks on the window.  See raw footage of the final moments of Cemal Dagdeviren’s life below, courtesy of Fox News.  When the man doesn’t roll the window down, Dagdeviren tries to open the door, but it appears to be locked. He hurries behind the vehicle and stands behind it as the driver begins to back up. The SUV bumps into his body.  Dagdeviren returns to the front of the vehicle after standing behind it does not stop the driver and, as the driver begins to inch forward across the parking lot, he stands directly in front of the SUV.  Dagdeviren is standing in front of the vehicle with his hands on the hood when the vehicle appears to accelerate into him. The video released by police officials ends at that point, but investigators said Dagdeviren was run over, suffering a severe head injury.  The driver then fled the scene, investigators said, leaving Dagdeviren lying mortally wounded in the roadway. Dagdeviren was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police officials said.  Parminder Singh, who works at a neighboring gas station, told CBS New York that he saw Dagdeviren lying on the ground and went to see what had happened.  “Does anybody’s life cost $22?” Singh said. “No. It’s really bad. People don’t think before they commit something.” Dagdeviren’s son, Ali Dagdeviren, called his father’s killer a monster. “If you do that to anybody for $22, you can do anything,” Ali Dagdeviren, 35, told the news station.  Cemal Dagdeviren came to the United States nearly 25 years ago to provide a better future for his family, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help the Dagdeviren family lay the patriarch to rest. He and his wife have two grown sons, Ali Dagdeviren, who was recently married, and Ceyhun “Jay” Dagdeviren, who is in the academy to become a New York City firefighter. Jay Dagdeviren, 25, also volunteers as a firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Bethpage Fire Department.  “Cemal was a hardworking and kind man who will be dearly missed by his friends and family,” reads the fundraising page, which exceeded its $20,000 goal by $4,000 in just seven days.  “My father worked hard for his family and never got into trouble, never even got a parking ticket,” Ali Dagdeviren told Newsday. “We are in a lot of pain. This is really hard for us.” Cemal Dagdeviren’s customers paid their respects in a steady stream the day after his death. They also held a candlelight vigil in his honor that night at the station, which was closed for business.  According to Newsday, crime scene tape surrounded the station and blood stained the street where Dagdeviren died. Flowers and candles fashioned a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk, built by distraught patrons who described Dagdeviren as a good, trustworthy mechanic with a quick smile and a tendency to wave off payment for minor repairs he’d made for his customers.  “It is very sad,” Yvonne Holloway said. “He was a very hardworking man and one of the nicest people you could ever meet.” “He would say, ‘Have a good day,’ and he meant it,” longtime customer Liz Boylan told Newsday as she dropped off flowers. “I am upset because he was just so sweet.” A funeral was held Wednesday for Dagdeviren in the U.S., Newsday reported. Turkish news media reported a second service was held in Istanbul, where the family returned his body for burial.  Homicide detectives announced Thursday that they had tracked down the Suburban and identified Roston as the man in the orange ski hat. The SUV was impounded as evidence.  Detectives began a manhunt for Roston, who they suspected had fled the New York area. A $10,000 reward was offered for his capture, the details of which were not immediately available Tuesday.  “He knew what he was doing when he stepped on the gas and crushed that man’s life and his family’s life,” a police official told NBC New York.  Roston has a criminal history that includes stealing gas, shoplifting and stripping vehicles for parts, the news station reported. 
  • After just over two years in office, President Donald Trump’s White House has clearly decided that the televised White House briefing – a regular staple since Bill Clinton came into office – is no longer needed, as Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has not formally taken questions from reporters at the podium in the Brady Briefing Room in over a month. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway!” President Trump tweeted on Tuesday. Before the briefings became a daily televised event in the Clinton Administration, White House briefings were mainly what’s known as ‘pen and pad’ gatherings – that is, no television, no radio recording, a throwback to the days when newspaper and magazine reporters dominated those covering the White House. The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the “podium” much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019 The number of briefings dwindled throughout 2018 – for example, Sanders held only three in July, only once in both November and December. The last formal briefing was on December 18. Critics of the briefings say it’s become a place for reporters to grandstand – the President in his tweet today said reporters acted ‘rudely’ – but it’s also been an important venue over the years for a President, in order to get out the message of that administration. Before the Clinton White House – with Communications Director George Stephanopoulos and Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers – made the briefing into a daily televised event which kept the focus on the White House, standard procedure allowed for only a few minutes of televised proceedings at the start of a briefing. After about five minutes, the TV lights would be turned off, the microphone would go silent, and the briefing would continue to be on the record, but not for broadcast. The White House Correspondents Association on Tuesday urged the President to reconsider. Statement on White House news briefings from WHCA President Olivier Knox. pic.twitter.com/jhQjVrz1bC — WHCA (@whca) January 22, 2019 While Sanders has not been on television much in recent months, the President has made himself available repeatedly, often entertaining questions as he departs the White House, or in photo opportunities with reporters. Mr. Trump has held only two formal, solo news conferences; the last one – the day after the November elections – included a verbal showdown with CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
  • Officials in Kentucky said a Catholic school at the center of a controversial encounter among white teenagers, Native American protesters and others was closed Tuesday after officials learned of a planned protest at the school. >> Read more trending news In a statement, officials with the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School said police warned them of the planned protest in the days after video surfaced online that appeared to show teenagers from the school surrounding a Native American man outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. “Due to threats of violence and the possibility of large crowds the Diocese was advised to close Covington Catholic High School, the Diocesan Curia and neighboring Covington Latin School,” officials said in the statement. >> Teen wearing MAGA hat in protest video speaks out A video surfaced online last week of a student, who identified himself in a statement as Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann, smirking as a Native American elder beat a ceremonial drum near his face. The video sparked outrage nationwide, though longer videos from wider perspectives later revealed that the drummer -- Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips -- had intervened between the boys and members of a black religious sect, according to The Associated Press. Phillips appeared to intervene at a time when the teens seemed to be getting rowdier and the black street preacher who had been shouting racist statements against both groups was escalating his rhetoric, the AP reported. >> Trump says Catholic students ‘treated unfairly’ after encounter at National Mall The incident drew the attention of President Donald Trump, who said Monday on Twitter that Sandmann and his classmates “were treated unfairly with early judgement s proving out to be false – smeared by media.” Officials with the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School said a third-party investigation of the incident at the Lincoln Memorial will be launched this week. “This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people,” officials said. “It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate. We pray that we may come to the truth and that this unfortunate situation may be resolved peacefully and amicably and ask others to join us in this prayer.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.