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Trump visits the Villages, I-4 Ultimate worker killed, Fried cajoles clemency board, and other Florida news you may have missed



I-4 Ultimate construction to pause after falling beam kills construction worker: A downtown Orlando construction accident last Saturday night left one worker dead and another in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. According to SGL Constructors, the contractor responsible for I-4 Ultimate construction, the accident was caused when a beam crashed down into a construction area around 6:30 p.m., near the I-4/408 interchange by Lake Lucerne. Orlando Fire District Chief Walter Lewis said one worker was "heavily trapped" and died on the scene, while the other was transported to the hospital by bystanders. The I-4 Ultimate construction project is currently suspended along its 21 miles, except for emergency maintenance. This is the fifth worker death since the start of the I-4 Ultimate project. More than 160 injuries have been reported to federal authorities.

Nikki Fried calls on Florida's Republican-dominated cabinet to restore felons' civil rights: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is getting impatient that Florida's Republican-dominated clemency board isn't using its power to restore the civil rights of felons who have been released from prison. Fried, the only Democrat on the panel, wants new rules so people who have committed low-level felony offenses can get their civil rights restored. The governor's office said last week that Gov. Ron DeSantis is "considering many proposals" to reduce a clemency case backlog but did not provide specifics. Voters in November 2018 overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment aimed at restoring the voting rights of felons who have completed terms of their sentences.

Shelter for unaccompanied migrant children will no longer open in Orlando: According to a letter from U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the Department of Health and Human Services no longer has plans to open a housing facility for 500 unaccompanied children here. "While Central Florida is off the list, the search continues in Texas and Arizona (states with fewer child welfare laws, where children may be at greater risk), and the Congresswoman will keep working to end child detention and return children to their families," the statement said. Florida currently has three detention centers in Homestead, Miami Gardens and Cutler Bay. However, the Homestead location, which was investigated for multiple sexual abuse claims, recently relocated the children at its shelter to other facilities.

Eager to reach elderly voters, an embattled Trump visits the Villages: After postponing a visit to Florida's largest retirement community last August, President Donald Trump has rescheduled his first official visit to the Villages for Thursday, Oct. 3. The stop comes after the president canceled his planned Aug. 6 visit because of the August mass shootings in El Paso and Daytona, which resulted in the deaths of 31 people. Trump's visit to the Villages occurs as Democrats launch an impeachment inquiry, but seeing as 68 percent of Sumter County voted for Trump in the 2016 election, this likely won't be an issue.

To protect Florida's water, Blue-Green Algae Task Force recommends regulating septic tanks: Members of the state's Blue-Green Algae Task Force met last week and agreed that lax oversight of septic tanks is contributing to the state's unprecedented algae blooms. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should be teamed with health officials who issue permits for septic tanks, as the state tries to ensure cleaner waterways, the task force says. But task force members also made clear they still intend to tackle issues of agricultural and urban use of herbicides and fertilizers, a topic they have not fully addressed.

This story appeared in the Oct. 2, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.

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