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Andrew Bain; Retired Director of Elections Bill Cowles; Magic Retires Shaq's Number; Nikki's Place

On the Tuesday, February 13th edition of Engage:

State Attorney Leads Forum in De-escalating Violence

Andrew Bain is the State Attorney representing Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit serving Orange and Osceola Counties. He ascended to the elected position last summer. Governor DeSantis removed his predecessor Monique Worrelland appointed Bain to the position.

The former pro football player and Orange County Court Judge has been speaking with Florida residents about de-escalating tense and potentially dangerous encounters with police. Bain is giving advice to citizens about how to cool down encounters when they look like they’re getting too hot.

We spoke with the State Attorney about his seminars.

Long-serving Election Official Retires

After 27 years of service -- Bill Cowles would like to relax at the beach with his family. He was elected as Orange county’s Elections Supervisor in 1996. Last month, he returned to civilian life – retiring a year short of the conclusion of his term.

He doesn’t blame the chaos that followed the 2020 General Election, nor is he concerned about a repeat in 2024. His replacement will be appointed by Governor DeSantis until a new supervisor can be elected in November. Cowles joined Engage to talk about his time in office and his expectations following his departure.

Florida Passes on Summer EBT Program

Last year, free or reduced-cost lunches were provided by schools to nearly thirty million students nationwide. In Florida more than half of the state’s public school students accept free or reduced lunches and in some cases -- breakfasts.

Florida participates in the federally funded National School Lunch Program to provide nutritious lunches on school days. Come summer -- school lets out and the free lunches disappear until classes resume in the fall. To plug this gap -- the USDA provides a program called the Summer EBT. It’s forty dollars per child, per month, for families eligible for EBT and SNAP benefits.

Florida and fourteen other states chose NOT to accept this benefit for its residents. This decision will impact nearly fifty thousand Orange County elementary students and twenty-three thousand middle school students – the state doesn’t record high schoolers eligible for free or reduced cost meals.

Eric Grey is the executive director of the Christian Service Center – providing housing resources and food-relief for low-income Floridians in Central Florida. We spoke with him about food insecurity and the role EBT benefits play.

Orlando Magic Retire Shaq's No. 32

The Orlando Magic are retiring jersey number 32 tonight – that's the number Shaquille O’Neal wore. A ceremony will be held after the Magic host the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Kia Center. Shaq will be the first player to have his number retired by the franchise.

The voice of the Magic, play by play broadcaster David Steele joined us live to remember Shaq and his contributions to the community.

Nikki's Place is Out in the Community

Nikki’s Place has been serving authentic Southern food in Paramore for nearly seventy five years. Owners Elaine and Nick Aiken Junior have run the twenty-seat restaurant on Carter Street for twenty-five of those years. Elaine manages the books, Nick runs the kitchen and their daughter Nikki works the dining room.

The food has stayed pretty much the same since Nick started working for the previous owner, back in 1953. On Fridays, Nick Jr. hits the road to sell meals from his van. Engage joined him for one of his ventures.

Cheryn joined WMFE after several years as a weekend news anchor at Spectrum News 13 in Orlando.