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Joe Byrnes

Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.

Recent Stories from Joe Byrnes

The driver of a semi hauling cows was not injured when the truck crashed on Interstate 75 Thursday morning, but 19 cows were killed. Photo: FHP

Cows die, I-75 shut down after truck hits guardrail and overturns

Nineteen cows are dead after a truck hauling 83 of them crashed and overturned on Interstate 75 in Sumter County Thursday morning.  The driver, a Plant City man, was cited for careless driving. Florida Highway Patrol troopers say the driver fell asleep in the northbound lanes just south of the Florida Turnpike. The truck veered into the median and hit a guardrail. The driver was not hurt. But some of the cows got loose, according to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. I-75 was shut down in both directions for hours.

After a threat on social media Monday, 604 students skipped school at Belleview Middle School in Marion County on Tuesday. Photo: Marion County Public Schools

Hundreds skip school in Belleview after shooting threat; teen arrested

More than a thousand students skipped school at Belleview Middle and Belleview High in Marion County Tuesday after a threat on social media. And a 14-year-old Belleview High student has been arrested, accused of threatening a school shooting on Snapchat. Detectives say he posted a message Monday saying, “Belleview Middle and High shooting tomorrow.” The student created a new account, posted the threat, then reported it to the Sheriff’s Office. Marion County sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Bloom says the teen did not have access to guns and his motive isn’t clear. But the consequences are — dozens of worried parents called the Sheriff’s Office. “It had a big ripple effect,” Bloom said. “At Belleview High School alone, there were 470 students …

In this image from video, attorney Kelly Mathis addresses the Lake County Commission on Tuesday. Image: Lake County Commission

Lake County Commission delays vote on banning internet cafes

When it comes to public hearings to ban simulated gambling houses, the Lake County Commission knows when to hold ’em. And when to put them off until April. Sheriff Peyton Grinnell is urging commissioners to outlaw the game rooms in unincorporated Lake County. He says it would reduce crime, citing numerous break-ins, thefts, robberies and drug offenses. But Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis, who represents a company that provides software for internet cafes, told the commission there are other ways to address safety, like using off-duty deputies. “We think there are a lot of better solutions to closing down 15-plus businesses, with landlords not receiving rent, with 50 employees losing their jobs, but even more so, the hundreds and hundreds of …

Rebecca Fierle-Santoian was arrested Monday evening on a Hillsborough County warrant for aggravated elder abuse and neglect. Photo: Marion County Jail

Legislature tackles guardianship issues as Fierle faces charges

Former guardian Rebecca Fierle-Santoian bonded out of the Marion County Jail Tuesday after her arrest Monday on a warrant for aggravated elder abuse and neglect. Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature is tackling some of the problems her case brought to light. Fierle, 50, faces charges of aggravated elder abuse and neglect in connection with the death of Steven Stryker in a Tampa hospital last May. He was one of hundreds of people — in 13 Florida counties — for whom Fierle acted as an appointed guardian. She refused to let Stryker be revived, enforcing a do-not-resuscitate order, though state prosecutors say the man in his mid-70s had a strong desire to live and was able to make the decision on his …

The Melbourne Police Department has recovered several Highwaymen paintings, a clock and a vase reported stolen over the summer. Photo: Melbourne PD

Highwaymen paintings recovered, stolen parrots still missing

Melbourne police are looking for the man they believe stole several Highwaymen paintings, parrots, a grandfather clock and an heirloom vase. The stolen Highwaymen paintings, clock and vase have been found, but not the parrots — Little Jim, Red Neck, Buffett, Mack and Bobblehead — or the man suspected of stealing them.