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Local and State News Update

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Here’s a local news update from WFIT, Florida Today, and the Florida News Exchange.

CEO Murray delivers upbeat report on state of Port Canaveral after record year

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray reported a $20 million dollar increase in operating revenue over last year. Those totals represent $99 million from cruise operations, $18.5 million from cargo operations, and $10.6 million from leases and recreation.

At the same time, Murray warned that the port needs expanded cruise, cargo and road infrastructure in the future if it wants to continue to thrive. Similarly, cargo operations are seeing increases and existing facilities are being taxed. Additionally, the highway system in general and ground transportation need improvements to handle the increased number of tourists using the Port. Nevertheless, Murray and other port officials were generally positive about the port's performance and its outlook.

For the current 2022-23 fiscal year, the port expects 904 cruise ship calls, and 5.8 million passenger movements.

Five cruise lines will have ships based at Port Canaveral during all or part to the budget year, with as many as 13 of those ships based at Port Canaveral at one time.

Port Canaveral is the world's second-busiest cruise port, behind Miami, based on passenger counts, and is one of the Space Coast's major tourism drivers.

With all six available cruise terminals "running pretty much at capacity," Murray said, "we're going to need another cruise terminal," as well as additional parking facilities.

Florida Tech Receives $2.1M to Support Students with Disabilities

Florida Tech has received over $2.1 million from the estate of John and Maria Callahan to create the endowed Kathleen Callahan Scholarship. This scholarship is in memory of their daughter, a special education teacher and advocate for helping underprivileged children. It will recognize an outstanding undergraduate student (or students) with learning or physical disabilities or emotional or behavioral challenges who demonstrates strong academic performance.

The first scholarships will be awarded for the fall 2023 semester.

A panoply of holiday parades.

Holiday parades along the Space Coast kick off this weekend. WFIT’s Rick Glasby has the list:

The Palm Bay Holiday Light Parade is scheduled for this Saturday, at 6pm. The parade will start at EFSC and travel west on Malabar to City Hall.

The Cocoa Village Holiday Boat parade is set for Friday, Dec 9, starting at 6PM. Judging will be done at Cocoa’s Riverfront Park.

The Cocoa Beach Christmas Boat Parade happens Saturday, Dec 10th.

Viera’s Golf Cart Holiday parade is also set for December 10th.

The Cocoa Village Holiday Bike parade is happening Friday, Dec 16, starting at 5PM.

And the Surfing Santas hit the waves in Cocoa Beach on Christmas eve morning.

Wildlife Officials Take Aim at Reptile Issues

State wildlife officials want more money to eradicate invasive Burmese pythons and increased penalties for people who illegally import and release venomous reptiles.

The proposals were part of 150 million dollars in legislative funding requests backed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservative Commission.

FWC staffmbers were directed to consider giving a raise to people called out to handle nuisance alligators.

Commissioner Gary Lester says increasing funding for stipends in the nuisance-alligator program, saying trappers keep the agency from having to do it.

“There are just so many reasons that we are so fortunate that we don’t have to have our own department to do all this.”

Lester made the suggestion after alligator hunter Robb Upthegrove, expressed disappointment that legislative-funding requests didn’t provide assistance to alligator hunters.

“Help us do this job, because if you have to do it, it is expensive.”

The agency’s funding requests approved Wednesday came in preparation for the 2023 legislative session, which will start in March.

For updates on these stories visit FloridaToday.com

Terri Wright has held the position of General Manager at WFIT since 1998.