Buzz: Attack on, the Butler/I-95 Nightmare, Scratch-Off Lottery Bonanza and More


Beware the Ides of February
After a denial of service attack on Feb. 15, and its interactive voice system are back in working order, according to Gerri Boyce, media relations coordinator for the electric and water utility. Customers are able to access both systems to pay their bills through the usual payment channels. JEA immediately implemented countermeasures after the cyber attack, but the scale of it was so wide, JEA had to call in outside help. The utility has also contacted the FBI, Boyce said.

Solving the Butler/I-95 Nightmare
The good news is that Gov. Rick Scott is steering $78 million to Jacksonville for a new highway interchange at Interstate 95 and J. Turner Butler Boulevard. The bad news? It won't help motorists until late 2017 or early 2018. Funding for the project isn’t available until 2014; construction will start in 2015. The interchange will include an elevated flyover ramp connecting southbound I-95 to eastbound Butler lanes, as well as other improvements. The area now handles about 150,000 vehicles a day.

Scratch-Off Bonanza
The Florida Lottery has broken the record for Scratch-Off lottery tickets for the second week in a row. For the week of Feb. 17, lottery sales exceeded $64.7 million, breaking the $63 million record set a week earlier. Hot sellers for the week of Feb. 17 — Millionaire game ($9.9 million), Gold Rush Tripler (more than $6.6 million) and new Life series of Scratch-Off games (more than $12.6 million) — were the highest single-week Scratch-Off sales in the Lottery’s 25-year history. Since 1988, the Florida Lottery has contributed more than $24 billion to education and funded 600,000 Bright Futures scholarships. In fiscal year 2012-’13, the Lottery transferred $1.49 billion to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, the second-highest level in Lottery history. Gov. Rick Scott is proposing an $18.47 billion in total funding for K-12 education, an increase of $1.25 billion over last year’s budget.

Thrashing Out at Internet Cafés
State Sen. John Thrasher (R, St. Augustine) wants to put a one-year moratorium on Internet cafés. Thrasher, chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, said at a Senate Gaming Committee meeting on Feb. 18 that he planned to introduce a bill for a one-year moratorium to be introduced for consideration during the upcoming session. Legislative leaders have indicated they don't want to address any gambling issues until the 2014 session. House and Senate committees are conducting a one-year study of gambling in the Sunshine State, including Internet cafés, poker rooms and Indian-owned casinos.

Wedding Nightmare Averted
A couple whose hotel arrangements were canceled because of a major concert tour had their reservations reinstated. Howard Johnson’s manager Tripal Shah contacted Lisa Dolyah and Trey Gillette, planning to marry on Sept. 13 in St. Augustine, to tell them their reservations had been reinstated. He offered a free one-night stay in the hotel’s honeymoon suite. Dolyah told the St. Augustine Record she'd already made reservations at another hotel. She said she's pleased some of the wedding guests will be able to stay in the historic district. The Gentleman of the Road tour, featuring Grammy-winners Mumford & Sons and fun., announced a St. Augustine stop for Sept. 13 and 14. Shah said a big rush of concert-goers wanting rooms caused the cancellation of the wedding party’s reservations.

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