Teacher of the Week: Michele Hanson

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- It is Wednesday so that means it is time for our Teacher of the Week! This week we are recognizing Michele Hanson at Wilkinson Junior High School in Clay County. She has been teaching for 12 years.

Hanson teaches agricultural science and has done amazing things with the program at the school. The kids are growing crops like potatoes and corn and raising a cow, pig and even chickens. Mrs. Hanson said she loves teaching kids and empowering them to be all that they can be. She said she doesn't mind putting in the extra hours and even coning in on the weekends because it is all for the kids.

"The most important thing that I think I teach them is work ethic. Work ethic transcends anything we do in life and if kids develop a good work ethic and communication skills and the ability to work in a team, then they will be more successful when they are older," said Mrs. Hanson.

Community Sponsors

Are you interested in promoting your business to local customers?

Woman accused of embezzling $57K from elementary school

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- An elementary school employee is facing charges of schemes to defraud, grand theft and uttering forged instrument following an investigation by the Clay County School Board.

Julie Herringdine, 37, is accused of reimbursing herself for items paid for using a Clay County School Board Credit Card, according to a police report from the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

School Board officials were notified the J.L. Wilkinson Elementary School account was in overdraft in September 2013 and launched an investigation into the school's financial records.

Caught on camera: Auto burglar takes $18 from unlocked SUV

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- Deputies are seeking an auto burglar who took $18 out of an unlocked GMC SUV on November 27 of last year.

The subject, described as 5'10" to 6' tall and wearing white sneakers, dark pants, dark baseball cap and a camouflage jacket, was seen on the homeowner's surveillance video between 3 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Nov. 27.

According to a release from CCSO spokesperson Mary Justino, the subject took $18 out of the unlocked SUV and left the door open.

Anyone who has any information about the identity of the subject is asked to call CCSO Det. Mark Maertz at (904) 264-6512.

Clay County Fire Rescue gets FEMA grant

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- The Clay County Fire Rescue Department is one of five Florida departments seeing part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. 

The grant is designed to make sure communities have enough protection from fire. Clay will get about $2 million.

The money will be used to hire 21 firefighters. They'll be spread through seven departments across the county.

However, it will be several months before they start work. The extra staff means, according to fire chief Lorin Mack, a quicker response time and less of a need to shuffle staff and equipment when there's an emergency.

Community Sponsors

Are you interested in promoting your business to local customers?

Get a free, sober ride home tonight

JACKSONVILLE, FLA-- We want you to get the new year started off safely so put this number in your phone, 885-286-9246.

855-286-9246 is the phone number to AAA's Tow-To-Go program.  You don't have to be a AAA member to use the service, it just gets you a safe, free ride home and saves you from driving intoxicated.

"New Year's Eve is the busiest night of the year for the Tow to Go program because so many motorists seem to be more inclined to use a designated driver but don't always have someone willing to be one in their own party during the biggest celebration of the year," said Gerry Gutowski, Sr. Vice President, Automotive Services, AAA–The Auto Club Group. "We prepare our call center teams and tow truck service providers for weeks in advance, so we can manage the increased call volume that's typical of this time of year."

Local high schools receive their new grades

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly half of Florida's high schools are getting an A grade for the 2012-13 school year.

The grades released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Education show a slight increase in the number of A graded schools.

But the number of D and F rated schools also went up. There were eight high schools that received F grades as opposed to just three in 2012.

Water mold killing off popular Christmas trees

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- It might soon cost you more to deck the halls.
This year, a water mold is attacking and in some cases killing off a popular Christmas tree.

The Fraser Fir is native to mountainous regions like North Carolina and Oregon.

But at some tree farms, it is not exactly the most wonderful time of year.

The firs are turning from green to brown because of a water mold called phytophtora.

Heavy rains during the growing season have caused the mold to flourish and spread quickly.

It's a threat because it kills the tree's root system, which keeps water from being absorbed.

Jeff Pollard is a North Carolina-based Christmas tree farmer, who told NBC News he might lose a quarter of his crop.

"Didn't expect it to be quite this severe this fast," he said.
The Christmas tree industry stands to lose several million dollars because of the loss in crop.