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Judge halts fines against owners of Mount Dora ‘Starry Night'

An attorney for the Mount Dora family has filed a federal complaint against the city.

A federal judge granted this week a temporary restraining order against the city of Mount Dora in the ongoing saga of the fight over a giant mural.

Read: Fines accruing against homeowners with ‘Starry Night' mural in Mount Dora

The order stops Mount Dora from levying fines against the owners of the "Starry Night" house.

Homeowners Nancy Nemhauser and Ludomir Jastrzebski were fined $100 per day, totaling $9,000.

City offiicals said the mural was first classified as graffiti, but later said it's considered a sign, which is a code violation in a residential area. City officials argue a sign violation serves as an advertisement for the artist, despite the artist's name included on the mural.

Read: Magistrate judge to decide if Mount Dora man's 'Starry Night' mural violates code

9 Investigates: National Weather Service staffing problems

The National Weather Service provides a crucial service that saves lives, but 9 Investigates discovered that the agency has struggled for years to maintain staffing levels, leaving some to question whether it's prepared for another natural disaster.

Daniel Sobien, of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, a trade union, said a 2016 report listed 643 job vacancies at the agency.

"To be down 700 positions, a lot of those are meteorologists, that’s a lot of people," Sobien said. "We, the National Weather Service, can’t do certain functions we used to do."

Download: Free WFTV weather app

The NWS, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, disputes those numbers, saying the situation has improved.

Currently, there are 305 current openings at the NWS' 122 weather forecast offices.

The agency said there are 16 funded vacancies at its six Florida weather forecast offices and eight funded vacancies at the National Hurricane Center.

The NWS in 2016 employed more than 4,200 employees, 86 percent of whom worked in field offices. A 2017 audit determined that open positions were filled within 64 to 467 days.

Read: Tsunami warning sent from Texas to New York was a test, NWS says

"We need to bring new people into the weather service," NWS Deputy Director Mary Erickson told 9 Investigates' Christopher Heath. "We pride ourselves on making sure we always get the mission done, making sure we have key people in place to protect life and property."

The NWS said it moves employees to places ahead of major weather events, such as hurricanes, and sends in additional staff to assist with prolonged natural disasters, such as flooding and wildfires.

In 2017, the agency brought in extra staff members to track Hurricane Irma ahead of the storm's approach, Erickson said.

"We are always preparing ourselves," she said. "We have a four-level backup across our systems."

Read: It rained so much in Houston that NWS added new colors to rainfall maps

But employees said changes have come too slow and too many are overworked.

"Some of them have been working months without a day off," Sobien said. "When you are tired, you make mistakes sometimes."

A 2012 review by the National Academy of Sciences determined that the quality of the NWS' warning capability corresponds with its "capability to muster an ample, fully trained local staff at its weather forecast offices as severe weather unfolds," a Government Accountability Office report said.

"Because operational unit managers and staff were doing work to cover for vacancies, they were unable at times to perform other key tasks, according to officials across the NWS units we interviewed," the report said.

Read: National Weather Service in Boston mocked for seeking stories from 1896 hurricane

Money doesn't appear to be the problem.

The GAO report determined that the NWS had the funding to hire staff, but the positions remained unfilled, highlighting what critics said is a slow process of attracting and hiring candidates.

The NWS, which has a budget of more than $1 billion, is improving its staffing, Erickson said.

The agency said it recently hired a contractor to assist with hiring and worked to streamline its career advancement process.

Read: 5 things to know before hurricane season

Although Erickson didn't specify when the NWS will fill its vacancies, she said further improvements are coming and the agency is prepared for sudden weather events.

Nonetheless, there remain concerns.

The Trump administration in its 2018 budget recommendation has proposed slashing the NWS' budget by about 8 percent and eliminating 355 jobs, including 248 forecasting positions.

Congress hasn't acted on the president’s proposal and isn't expected to take up the budget this year.

Read: The 6 deadliest hurricanes ever recorded

Seminole County Environmental Services Department announces water restrictions

Beginning on March 11, the following lawn watering rules will be in effect for Seminole County residents:

  • No watering is allowed between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on any day.
  • Residents with an odd number street address may water on Wednesday and Saturday.
  • Residents with an even number street address may water on Thursday and Sunday.
  • Reclaimed water customers may irrigate twice a week year-round.
  • Non-residential customers irrigate on Tuesday and Friday.

These restrictions are considered mandatory in Seminole County including those on private wells.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are replacing sod and need to irrigate more than they restrictions allow, you must fax, email or deliver your current receipt for sod to:

Water Conversation Section

500 West Lake Mary Blvd.

Sanford, FL 32773

After receiving the receipt for sod or landscape material, you may be given permission to irrigate for an additional 30 days.

Read more news from Seminole County .

Seminole County Environmental Services Department announces water restrictions

Beginning on March 11, the following lawn watering rules will be in effect for Seminole County residents:

  • No watering is allowed between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on any day.
  • Residents with an odd number street address may water on Wednesday and Saturday.
  • Residents with an even number street address may water on Thursday and Sunday.
  • Reclaimed water customers may irrigate twice a week year-round.
  • Non-residential customers irrigate on Tuesday and Friday.

These restrictions are considered mandatory in Seminole County including those on private wells.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are replacing sod and need to irrigate more than they restrictions allow, you must fax, email or deliver your current receipt for sod to:

Water Conversation Section

500 West Lake Mary Blvd.

Sanford, FL 32773

After receiving the receipt for sod or landscape material, you may be given permission to irrigate for an additional 30 days.

Read more news from Seminole County .

Construction set on interim Pulse memorial site

Construction of the temporary memorial will begin next week to remember the victims and survivors of the Pulse shooting, the onePulse Foundation announced in a news release Thursday.

Forty nine people died and more than 100 others were injured in the shooting June 12, 2016.

Photos: Victims of Pulse nightclub shooting

The temporary memorial will allow families, survivors, first responders and other people to pay their respects while details of the permanent memorial are being finalized.

The onePulse Foundation and the Orange County Regional History Center will collect and conserve all the items, artwork and messages left at the Pulse site Feb. 25.

Read: Judge rules on crucial evidence in Noor Salman trial

Meanwhile, the federal trial for the wife of the Pulse gunman begins March 1.

Noor Salman faces charges of aiding a former terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.

Channel 9 will have a team of reporters in the courtroom. Coverage of the trial begins March 1.

>>> Pulse shooting trial <<<

Construction set on interim Pulse memorial site

Construction of the temporary memorial will begin next week to remember the victims and survivors of the Pulse shooting, the onePulse Foundation announced in a news release Thursday.

Forty nine people died and more than 100 others were injured in the shooting June 12, 2016.

Photos: Victims of Pulse nightclub shooting

The temporary memorial will allow families, survivors, first responders and other people to pay their respects while details of the permanent memorial are being finalized.

The onePulse Foundation and the Orange County Regional History Center will collect and conserve all the items, artwork and messages left at the Pulse site Feb. 25.

Read: Judge rules on crucial evidence in Noor Salman trial

Meanwhile, the federal trial for the wife of the Pulse gunman begins March 1.

Noor Salman faces charges of aiding a former terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.

Channel 9 will have a team of reporters in the courtroom. Coverage of the trial begins March 1.

>>> Pulse shooting trial <<<

Accused gunman in Deltona shooting arrested in South Carolina

A man was arrested Wednesday in South Carolina on charges of attempted murder and armed carjacking in Deltona.  

 

Peter Neville Bamfield, 19, is accused of shooting a man on Dumas Drive in Deltona.

 

Investigators said they found Tarell Williams, 28, wounded and lying on a driveway as a resident was trying to help him.

 

Read: Man shot in chest in Deltona

 

Multiple witnesses reported hearing gunshots and seeing a dark Honda passenger car speed away from the scene, deputies said.

 

Detectives said they determined Williams was driving the car when Bamfield pointed a gun at him from the front passenger’s seat and began shooting as Williams tried to escape.

 

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office detectives and members of U.S. Marshals Task Force in Central Florida and in South Carolina worked together to find Bamfield.

 

Bamfield was taken to the Darlington County Jail in Darlington, S.C, pending extradition to Volusia County to face the charges.

Suspect in Deltona shooting arrested last night in South Carolina, thanks to cooperation between our detectives & US Marshals Task Force members in Central FL and SC: https://t.co/6WaE8m9wrT pic.twitter.com/Z7F7wBtgoE — Volusia Co. Sheriff (@VolusiaSheriff) February 22, 2018
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