Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Brevard County News Stories For 2015

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: SpaceX

Brevard County saw many local news stories make national and worldwide headlines in 2015. There were also several stories that had a significant and immediate impact on thousands of Brevard County residents' day-to-day lives.

The 2015 top stories were selected based upon the following criteria:

A. Stories that gained national or worldwide attention;
B. Stories that had an impact on Brevard County residents' lives or wallets; and
C. Stories that marked a significant change in policy, leadership, or spending in local governmental organizations.


1. SpaceX Landing

The biggest story on Florida's Space Coast just happened during the final days of 2015. The successful orbital launch and landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station made space history and worldwide headlines. This technical feat could significantly increase the number of launches from Brevard County in the future if the cost per launch is reduced through the use of reusable rockets.


This unusual crime story generated headlines around the world.


A heart-wrenching crime story that made national headlines.


This story marks the first time in Brevard County's history that private citizens undertook investigative journalism and broke a story via their Facebook page that was a catalyst to the criminal investigation of public officials instead of the mainstream media. So far, no Brevard Public Schools employee has been fired for ignoring state auditors' warnings and BPS purchasing rules which led to the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars for an uncompleted software program.


This story is significant because it was another Brevard County story in 2015 that was investigated by a private citizen whose blogging on a small website led to the forced resignation of a top public administrator instead of the mainstream media. The story impacted how Port Canaveral will determine where a cargo rail line will be placed in Brevard County - if at all.


This story could have been the top story in 2015 if it wasn't completely overshadowed by SpaceX's historic launch and landing later in the year. Before the SpaceX explosion, a rocket explosion from Cape Canaveral had not occurred since 1998.


A crime story that made national headlines and shocked the otherwise sleepy beach-side community of Satellite Beach.


A negotiated settlement contract between the Brevard School Board and the teachers union gave the largest salary increase that Brevard County's 4,800 teachers had seen in 8 years at a cost to BPS of over $11 million annually.  Also part of the contract was designating every Wednesday an early release school day which had a negative financial impact on Brevard County's working parents with young children who had to either miss work every week or pay more in child care costs. While not a major headline story, the union contract had a significant impact on the lives of thousands of teachers, students and parents in Brevard County.


Brevard County's most heated political story in 2015. The proposed tax increases were tabled until February 2016 when County Commissioners will finally vote 'yes' or 'no' on the proposals.


In exchange for bringing 1,000 jobs to Brevard County, Northrop Grumman received an economic development incentives package which included an exemption from school property taxes, a $1.15 million grant over five years from the City of Melbourne, $2 million from Brevard County, and $16 million from the State of Florida. The additional jobs will have a significant impact on south Brevard's rush hour traffic and will give a boost to the local real estate market.