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Latest from Gene Wexler

    Several veterans charity groups in Central Florida are spreading awareness of their services following a troubling VA report on veteran suicides. Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report showing at least 60,000 veterans committed suicide between 2008 and 2017. In 2017, more than 6,100 veterans died by suicide, and increase of two percent over 2017 and six percent since 2008. K9 Partners for Patriots “When I came back from those [Iraq] deployments, something was off but I couldn’t place my hand on it,” said Ron Flaville. Ron Flaville is the new CEO of a veterans charity group called K9 Partners for Patriots which is based in Brooksville, Florida.  He spent 17 years in the military (Marine Corps and Army) and deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2009.  He was diagnosed with PTSD while in service, but he says it got worse when he got out and moved to Central Florida with his wife. “I started isolating really bad,” Flaville said.  “I was suffering with bits of depression, anxiety and outbursts of rage.” Flaville said his wife pushed him to get a dog, and later to begin training her to be his service animal.  The two met Mary Peter who was then a dog trainer and would later go on to start K9 Partners for Patriots. Flaville said he went from a reclusive life and a troubled marriage to being a dog trainer.  He said it became the mission and challenge he needed. “Over the years I’ve developed better coping mechanisms, and having Sophia is what has allowed me to be able to do that.” Flaville said he’s noticed a “180 degree change” in the veterans who go through their program, which involves instructing veterans in how to train their dogs to become service animals.  Flaville himself went from taking 14 medications to now four. How do the dogs help?  If a veterans is having a nightmare during their sleep, their trained dog will come over to lick or paw them to wake them up, which is safer than having a person wake them up. If a veteran is having an anxiety attack or an episode of rage, the dogs try to turn the focus to them. But a service animal may not be for every veteran. Camaraderie Foundation Orlando-based veterans charity Camaraderie Foundation provides mental health counseling for veterans suffering from PTSD or TBI. “Different types of therapies that are accepted and approved by our medical-advisory council,” said CEO Nef Rodriguez.  Rodriguez said Camaraderie Foundation has an 87 percent success rate. “We got EMDR as one, accelerated resolution therapy is another, and we have cognitive behavioral therapies.” Both Rodriguez and Flaville said their programs have helped veterans get off of prescription medications that weren’t working for them. Flaville urges veterans who are struggling to not lose hope. “I know it’s easy to get caught up in the depression and thinking that nothing will ever go right.  I am here to tell you a hundred percent that it can. Do not give up.” There are many other veterans charity groups in Florida, such as 22 Project, aiming to provide alternative therapies for veterans who are suffering. (App users click here to see video) (App users click here)
  • NASA on Tuesday unveiled two new next-generation spacesuits for the future mission to the Moon. The suit for the planned landing at the lunar south pole is called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU).  NASA says the suit is a bit like a spaceship in the way it protects astronauts.  It’s red, white and blue. The other suit is orange and called the Orion Crew Survival System.  That one will be worn during launch and later during re-entry in the Orion spacecraft.  The suit provides thermal protection for the astronauts. NASA says these new suits improve on the technology used in the Apollo suits as well as those currently used by astronauts on the International Space Station. Humans haven’t landed on the moon since 1972, and NASA’s Artemis program is aiming to put the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. (App users click here to see video of the new spacesuits)
  • A video of a white Florida woman yelling at a black teenager over a dropped gum wrapper in St. Petersburg has quickly gone viral. The woman calls the teenager the N-word for dropping the wrapper, and she doesn’t seem to care about being recorded on video. Many Internet sites refer to the woman as “Pick It Up Peggy” for yelling at the 14 year-old, who ignores her by looking down at his phone.  According to the video uploader Daysha Adriana, the teen was walking to pick up the dropped trash when the woman confronted him. “Pick it up, find it, get down on your knees and find it,” she yelled.  After the boy turns and walks away she yells at him some more, including the N-word in her rant. The teenager is identified as Barry Hendry. WTSP reports he admits he threw the gum wrapper on the ground, but he also thought the woman was going to attack him.  He tells WTSP he had never been called the N-word before that. The post has been viewed over 233,000 times as of the publication of this article.  The post has been updated to say the family is not looking for vengeance towards the woman, nor are they looking to “fight racism, with racism.” (App users click here to see the video)
  • Orlando’s first-ever cat cafe called The Kitty Beautiful opened for business in downtown Orlando, a place where people can play with cats and get coffee, pastries, juice, snacks, beer and wine. According to its website, patrons of The Kitty Beautiful can either pay a “small cover fee” or a monthly membership to gain access to a separate room to play with and “hang out with a bunch of free roaming, fully adoptable cats.” Playing in the cat room costs $10 an hour ($12 for an hour and a drink).  People are not allowed to bring their own cats from home.  All cats at The Kitty Beautiful are from the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando and will all be available for adoption. The Kitty Beautiful also hosts cat yoga classes for $20 and “Mewvie Night” for $10.  A monthly membership costs $35. The store is in a soft opening right now with a planned grand opening Nov. 1-3.  It’s located at 360 State Lane. (Tweet) (Facebook post)
  • The onePULSE Foundation released six concept designs from different teams who are competing to create the National Pulse Memorial and Museum.  The Foundation wants public feedback over the next week to help pick a winning design. “As much as it’s about going forward and making sure we memorialize this appropriately and record history accordingly, it’s also still emotional as well,” said CEO Barbara Poma. Poma said they’ve had private meetings for families, survivors and first responders to gather their feedback. They also want the public to give feedback on the six concepts. A blue-ribbon jury will take all of the comments and make a decision for the winning design team, which will be announced Oct. 30. CLICK HERE to view the six concepts.  Scroll down to the bottom of each one to leave a comment (250 word maximum).  The comment period will run until Oct. 10. The community is also invited to see the six concept designs in person at the Orange County Regional History Center through Oct. 10 as well.  The exhibition will be on display Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and noon-4 p.m. on Sunday at the History Center. CLICK HERE for a detailed pamphlet about the design competition.  The Pulse Memorial will be located at the site of the club and the museum will be located on newly-purchased land down the road on Kaley Street at Division Ave.
  • Law enforcement across Central Florida are participating in “National Night Out” tomorrow October 1 and invite you to come out and meet the people behind the badge. National Night Out is an “annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.”  The program was started in 1984. “It’s an opportunity for people to see our deputies in a non-enforcement type situation,” said Orange County Sheriff John Mina.   “It’s a way to promote neighborhood watch.  And that’s basically the goal.  We want more neighborhood watch programs.  The more we have, we believe, it’s one of the number one ways you can prevent vehicle burglaries and residential burglaries in your neighborhoods.” CLICK HERE for more information on the program from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. CLICK HERE for a list of all the parties happening in Orange County. The Orlando Police Department will also be participating in the National Night Out 2019.
  • The Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center cared for and rehabilitated 39 green and loggerhead sea turtles who were pushed back to shore after their habitat was disrupted. Strong storms and winds offshore can disturb Sargassum where young sea turtles go for shelter and food while they grow.   “It disrupts the Sargassum and pushes them back to the beach,” said Shanon Gann, sea turtle program manager at Brevard Zoo.  “Their life-cycle is kind of disrupted. That’s where they would be living and hiding from big predators.” Gann said the Sea Turtle Healing Center was brought 39 turtles from up and down the Brevard County coastline this past week.  Staff and volunteers cared for them to bring them back to health. “These turtles are double lucky because they made it back to us,” Gann said.  “A lot of those that have been disrupted from where their Sargassum rafts maybe didn’t make it back to us at all.” On Thursday morning, the turtles were driven down to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.  They were transported via boat back to the Sargassum weed lines. Gann said anyone who finds washbacks should immediately call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-676-1701 or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission at 1-888-404-3922.
  • A deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office rescued a woman who was in the middle of a retention pond. The department tweeted a video saying Deputy Jason Hess potted the woman struggling in a retention pond.  He then jumped in to rescue her. Captions from the video reveal Deputy Hess responded to a call about a woman who wandered away from her home overnight.  The woman was spotted walking into a retention pond, and it was known she didn’t know how to swim. In the video, Deputy Hess is seen pulling the woman out of the pond to safety, rolling her on her side, and comforting her. The woman survived and was taken to the hospital. Deputy Hess dried off and went back to work. (App users tap here to see the video)
  • A touching picture of a school custodian in Texas comforting a student with autism is gaining national attention. According to KTRK-TV, Hollie Bellew-Shaw of Alvin, Texas shared a picture of her fourth-grade daughter’s elementary school custodian.  Ms. Esther is on the floor of the school stage as Bellew-Shaw’s daughter Kenlee wrapped herself in a blanket and covered her ears.   (App users tap here to see post) “Our school custodian is literally the best, sweetest individual in the world,” Bellew-Shaw captioned the picture on Facebook.  “Kenlee wanted no part of being in the cafeteria this morning with all the noise, so she laid down w/her blanket on stage.  When Ms Esther saw her, she came and laid next to her and patted her back.” The Alvin Independent School District also shared the picture.  As of Monday evening, their post was liked over 1,600 times, had hundreds of shares and dozens of comments. (Tap here to see post)
  • Many Central Florida counties are preparing  for Hurricane Dorian by offering free sand bags. Orange county is hosting events d at five parks from Aug. 19 through Aug 31. All sites are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. -Barnett Park, 4801 W Colonial Drive -Blanchard Park, 2451 N Dean Road -Bithlo Community Park, 18501 Washington Ave -Meadow Woods Recreation Center, 1751 Rhode Island Woods Circle -West Orange Recreational Complex, 309 S West Crown Point Road (Sundays this location is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.) All supplies will be provided including bags, tools, and sand.  Orange County released this video showing how to use sand bags once you get them. Residents must present a valid ID showing Orange County residence. The county released this tutorial video showing how to use the sand bags. For Seminole County residents, free self-serve sandbag operations start Wednesday, Aug. 28 at noon at the Boombah Seminole County Sports Complex (Overflow Parking Lot) in Sanford. -Hours of operation: Wednesday 8/28, 12:00pm-7:00pm, Thursday, 8/29 10:00am-7:00pm -Number of bags: 15 per household Residents can text DORIAN to 888777 to register for text alerts specific to storm impacts to Seminole County. In Osceola County, the following locations will be available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday (8/29) and Friday (8/30). -Road & Bridge Department – Kissimmee: 1698 S. Hoagland Boulevard in Kissimmee, 34741 -Poinciana Library: 101 N. Doverplum Avenue in Poinciana, 34758 -Celebration Community Field Complex: 319 Campus Street in Celebration 34747 -Holopaw Community Center: 8801 Community Center Road in Holopaw, 34773 -Kenansville Community Center: 1154 S. Canoe Creek Road in Kenansville, 34739 -Osceola Heritage Park, (Shakerag Road): 1211 Shakerag Road, Kissimmee FL 34744 -St. Cloud Civic Center - 3003 17th St. When: Thursday, Aug. 29th & Friday, Aug. 30th Hours of Operation: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a 25-bag limit and help is available for those unable to fill the bags themselves Brevard County is not giving out sandbags at this time. Volusia County is giving out sandbags starting Thursday Aug. 29 also. The city of Deland says  sand and bags will be available from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday In preparation of possible effects from Hurricane Dorian, the City of DeLand will provide sand and bags to residents beginning at noon Thursday in the parking lot south of Melching Field, 601 South Woodland Boulevard. Shovels will be available on site. -There will be a limit of 10 bags per residence. -People are asked to bring their ID. 
  • 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

  • An administration official said that U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has formally notified President Donald Trump that he intends to resign. >> Read more trending news  Perry was traveling with the president to Texas Thursday when he shared the news aboard Air Force One. Perry had disputed reports that he was planning to leave the administration in an interview Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal. But he reportedly left the door open, saying he expected to be at the Energy Department at Thanksgiving. He gave a less definitive answer, however, when asked whether he’d be there through the end of the year. Bloomberg News reported in April that Perry was reportedly planning to leave the Trump administration.  Perry became Energy secretary in 2017.The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The U.S. and Turkey agreed Thursday to a five-day ceasefire in Syria, Vice President Mike Pence announced at a news conference in Turkey. >> Read more trending news  Pence said military operations will be paused for 120 hours on the border between Turkey and Syria to give U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds time to withdraw from the area. 'The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours,' Pence said. 'All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.' The announcement came after a high-level delegation, including Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. Trump praised the announcement Thursday while speaking with reporters in Forth Worth, Texas. He credited his threat of sanctions on Turkey as 'tough love' that led to the ceasefire. 'This is an incredible outcome,' Trump said. 'It's a great day for the United States. It's a great day for Turkey.' Erdogan announced Turkey launched a military operation in northern Syria last week, days after Trump pulled U.S. troops out of the region. Trump disavowed the decision in statement, saying he 'made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea.' The Associated Press reported the agreement, 'essentially gives the Turks what they had sought to achieve with their military operation in the first place.' Kurdish forces were not party to the agreement, and it was not immediately clear whether they would comply. Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The next Group of Seven summit will be held in June at Trump National Doral Miami, one of President Donald Trump's golf resorts in Florida, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced Thursday. >> Read more trending news  Mulvaney said officials considered about a dozen different locations for the meeting, which will be held June 10-12. 'Doral was far and away the best physical facility for this meeting,' Mulvaney said, adding that a site selection official told him, 'It's almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.' The site was chosen despite ongoing investigations into whether Trump has used his office for personal gain. Mulvaney said Thursday that he was unconcerned by the appearance of a conflict of interest. He told reporters Doral was chosen partially because the site was dramatically cheaper than others officials considered. 'There's no issue here on him profiting from this in any way, shape or form,' Mulvaney said. Trump has touted his resort, saying it's close to the airport, has plenty of hotel rooms and offers separate buildings for every delegation. When the United States has hosted the summit before, it has been held in Puerto Rico; Williamsburg, Virginia; Houston; Denver; Sea Island, Georgia; and Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Tropical storm warnings are in place along the Florida Panhandle for a tropical system that doesn’t even have a name yet. Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 is currently off the coast of Mexico in the southwest Gulf of Mexico.  In recent days, meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center have increased the storm’s chances of tropical development to 90-percent as of the NHC’s latest advisory. The storm is not expected to reach hurricane strength, but it is forecast to make landfall this weekend over the Panhandle as Tropical Storm Nestor. News 96.5 WDBO spoke to the National Weather Service office in Melbourne about what impacts Central Florida could see from the storm.  Meteorologist Scott Kelly says it could impact your weekend plans. “It looks like it will mainly be a rain producer for us with some embedded strong thunderstorms.  We’re not expecting a lot of strong winds with it, although there could be some strong winds with the thunderstorms that come through early on this weekend,” said Kelly. 

Washington Insider

  • Brushing aside questions about the ethics of hosting the G-7 summit at one of President Donald Trump's own  golf properties, the White House announced Thursday that the 2020 meeting of the G-7 will take place at the President's Doral resort in Miami, Florida. “Doral was by far and away - far and away - the best physical facility for this meeting,” said Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Pressed repeatedly by reporters in a rare Q&A in the White House Briefing Room, Mulvaney gave the back of the hand to any ethical concerns. Democrats in Congress said the decision just screamed self-dealing by the President. “This is corruption in the open,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). “Corruption in plain sight is still corruption,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). “Unbelievably brazen. Taxpayer and foreign money funneled right to his own club as a result of a decision he is making as President,” tweeted Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). “This is just open corruption,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). “Congress should block any taxpayer money from going to G7 while it's at Trump's resort,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). “This is a textbook case of unconstitutional conduct,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “By holding G7 summit at his own resort, the President is using his office to enrich himself,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). “This is corruption, plain and simple,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is running for President. Outside ethics watchdog groups chimed in immediately. “By treating the G7 summit like a commercial for his businesses, inviting foreign governments to line his pockets and hold their next meeting at his Doral, FL golf course next year, he mocks the Constitution he swore to uphold,” said Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra.