Jessica Meszaros

Jessica Meszaros is a reporter and host of All Things Considered for WGCU News.

She was a multimedia reporter for Miami’s public radio station, WLRN Radio, for more than two years.

In the summer of 2013, Jessica interned for NPR's All Things Considered  in Washington D.C. She has a background in newspaper reporting from her summer 2014 internship with the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida.  

Jessica graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Honors College.

 

After a few hundred protesters marched through downtown Bradenton Monday evening, Manatee County commissioners voted Tuesday to remove a Confederate statue from the front of the Manatee County courthouse. Although there were multiple heated interactions and three arrests, the protest ended peacefully.

Activists plan to peacefully protest a Confederate monument in the city of Bradenton on Monday evening. But after a white supremacist rally in Virginia over a similar issue turned deadly, Manatee County law enforcement officials said they want to make sure the public is safe. 

At Lee County’s regular commission meeting Tuesday morning, locals used the public comment period to voice their opinions about removing Confederate memorials in public spaces. People spoke for and against the move.

The Florida Supreme Court will not overturn the governor’s vetoes of money the state owes some residents for destroying their citrus trees. However, justices did appear to agree the homeowners are due their compensation.

It’s rare to see an unfiltered night sky in many parts of Florida. Artificial lights in highly populated areas, like Fort Myers or Miami, cover up views of constellations and the Milky Way. But, Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee is now an “International Dark Sky Park.” That means the preserve removed unnecessary lights. And the ones they kept were changed to be “night sky friendly” by using different bulbs or making the lights point down to the ground, rather than up to the sky.

Residents in Lee and Broward Counties took Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Supreme Court this week. They’re trying to overturn Scott’s vetoes of state money owed to them after agriculture officials destroyed their healthy citrus trees. The homeowners also took the state’s agriculture commissioner to lower courts.

Children in rural Hendry County are training wild horses, making them suitable for adoption. They’re challenged to discipline 12 mustangs from Nevada in 100 days. But since Gov. Rick Scott just vetoed state funding for their club, the group predicts a future financial struggle. Let's go to the ranch in LaBelle where the kids are taming these wild animals. 

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 2:20 PM

Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed a part of the state budget that would’ve compensated residents in Lee and Broward Counties years after the state removed their healthy citrus trees. The 16-year battle for reimbursement continues.

This past state legislative session, Florida’s beaches got the most funding for renourishment than they have in more than a decade: $50 million. 

 UPDATED: Friday, June 30, 2017 at 10:36 AM 

CORRECTION: WGCU originally wrote, "Acquaviva did not return WGCU’s calls for comment," but it should read "call."

Lee County is once again looking for the chemical arsenic on Pine Island. That’s after documents surfaced from a few years ago showing arsenic levels hundreds and sometimes thousands of times higher than the federal government allows on private and public lands.

Experts say this could’ve potentially harmed island residents and wildlife within the surrounding estuaries. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, but state and federal health officials say if high levels are consumed, it can make people sick and cause cancer.

Public records show state environmental officials knew about the high arsenic levels but decided to stop testing for it in 2015.

A couple researchers created fake mangroves in Manasota Key to bring back marine life that was lost from development. Along Florida’s coasts are seawalls-- built to prevent the shoreline from eroding. But that defense sometimes means removing natural habitats. Experts are now trying to turn these solid barriers into thriving ecosystems.

The state is spending $4 million to remove abandoned orange groves across Florida. That’s about four times the budget state agriculture officials had in past years for this effort. 

The Florida Burrowing Owl is now considered a “Threatened” species, which means it has higher protections from the state. And environmental advocates in the city of Cape Coral hope this new title will help their efforts in preserving the local burrowing owl population. 

A Southwest Florida research company said it has developed a medication to combat Zika. The pill is meant to treat people who’ve already contracted the mosquito-borne virus. 

The Manatee County branch of the NAACP is accusing the Bradenton Police Department of racial discrimination. The civil rights organization is referencing public records it recently requested from the department.


UPDATE: If you think you've spotted  a New Guinea flatworm in your area, the recommendation is to not touch it, take a picture of it and report it to state wildlife officials at 888-IVE-GOT1.

An invasive flatworm could potentially threaten wildlife, and even people in Southwest Florida. The New Guinea Flatworm was first found in the state near Miami more than a year ago. Now, they’ve popped up in Cape Coral, and most recently, Sanibel Island. 


Federal lawmakers from Florida are criticizing the state’s recent decision to allow for higher levels of toxins in its waterways. They’re worried about public health because some of the toxins cause cancer.

The Florida Environmental Regulation Commission approved increased levels for about 20 different toxins in Florida surface waters, like rivers and estuaries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would still have to approve the move.

Nine members of Congress recently sent the EPA a letter voicing their concern.


The state wants to increase the amount of toxins it can put in Florida’s surface waters. State officials said they’re doing this based on federal guidelines. But some people worry it could harm residents. 

The cost of fighting a disease that’s ravaging Florida’s citrus industry is triggering growers to abandon their groves. Citrus greening causes orange trees to decline and die within a few years. And there’s no cure right now.  These “grove graveyards” become breeding grounds for the disease.

 

Gov. Rick Scott was in Fort Myers on Friday, talking about Zika virus preparations in the state. Zika is linked to deformities in unborn babies. It’s a mosquito-borne virus, but Florida’s more than 90 cases are so far only travel-related. The governor said he’s ready for the possibility of Zika-infected mosquitoes to cross over state lines.

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