Christine DiMattei

Anchor/Reporter

Years ago, after racking her brains trying to find a fun, engaging, creative nighttime gig to subsidize her acting habit, Chris decided to ride her commercial voiceover experience into the fast-paced world of radio broadcasting. She started out with traffic reporting, moved on to news . . . and never looked back. Since then, Chris has worked in newsrooms throughout South Florida, producing stories for radio broadcasts and the web.

In her other life, she has been married to 12 husbands (including a not-so-wild boar and a garden slug), given birth to 15 children, died four times, twice taken vows as a nun and once been abducted by pirates in the Caribbean. And all this by doing English language dubbing for dozens of foreign films, soap operas and cartoons.  Both lives, she says, have been "a most excellent adventure."

Ways to Connect

Broward Center for the Performing Arts

It looks like the greatest operatic hero in South Florida this season comes armed with a checkbook instead of a broadsword.

Weeks after the Florida Grand Opera announced that a funding shortfall might force the company to pull out of its Fort Lauderdale performance dates next season, FGO general director Susan Danis says an anonymous donor has stepped forward to help.

During President Obama's State of the Union address tonight, a young, undocumented "DREAMer" from South Florida will be in the guest seat next to Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel.

Charlene Rupert, 21, of Palm Springs came to the United States from Venezuela with her grandmother when she was 11-years-old. She says she didn’t realize she was an undocumented immigrant until she was 16.

whitehouse.gov

A South Florida sea-level rise researcher will have one of the best seats in the house for the President’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Nicole Hernandez Hammer of Boca Raton will be one of First Lady Michelle Obama’s invited guests.

Hernandez Hammer says her research shows that cities and regions most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea-level rise also have large Hispanic populations.

“Most people don’t know about our vulnerability. That was really eye-opening and encouraged me to go into advocacy,” she says.

John Walther / Miami Herald staff

Much has been written about the close bonds forged between Jews and African-Americans in Miami in the 1950s at the start of the civil rights movement.  But a more complex, conflicted side of that relationship has fired the imagination of local novelist Joan Lipinsky Cochran.  

UnitedOptOut.com

Across Florida, parents and teachers are pushing back against standardized testing in public schools. One way is simply “opting out” – or keeping their children from taking the test.

And now a national organization opposed to public education's reliance on standardized tests is bringing its message to Fort Lauderdale.

freedigitalphotos.net/stockimages

After last year’s legislative session, Florida failed to secure the tax incentive money it needed to lure more movie and television projects to the Sunshine State.

But things could change in 2015. And Palm Beach County lawmakers want to play a starring role in replenishing those funds.

Florida House of Representatives

Palm Beach County lawmakers say tightening regulations on so-called "sober homes" will be one of their top priorities during this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. 

Sober houses are group homes for people recovering from drug or alcohol dependencies. In recent years, the facilities have become a booming business in parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. But critics complain many of the facilities are bringing noise, traffic and even drug dealing to their single-family neighborhoods.

Keith Douglas

In Broward County, it looks like a matter of “no dollars, no divas.”

South Florida’s premiere opera company says lack of funds might soon bring down the curtain on its Fort Lauderdale performances. 

Timmy Gunz / Creative Commons/Flickr

It turns out some of South Florida's largest hospital systems are taking a page out of the urgent-care playbook.

Questions about the safety and efficiency of urgent-care and retail clinics were raised during Thursday's panel discussion at the Tower Forum, a monthly gathering of Broward County business professionals.

Broward-based Memorial Healthcare System opened its first urgent-care center in 1976, according to President and CEO Frank Sacco.

"We currently are tracking almost 60,000 visits at that urgent care center," says Sacco.

Mark Hedden / WLRN

Just after midnight on Tuesday morning, gay marriage became legal in Florida. But the first marriages started in Miami-Dade County about twelve hours earlier.

It was about 11:30 in the morning. Judge Sarah Zabel held a hearing and decided there was no need to wait. She lifted the stay on her ruling declaring Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

And gay couples could start getting married right away.

Our reporter John O'Connor was at the courthouse. And we had people at courthouses in Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, too.

Alicia Zuckerman

The museum director who helped usher in one of the most significant changes in South Florida's arts scene is leaving the Sunshine State to return to his roots.

Thom Collins is giving up his position as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) to lead the acclaimed Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Palm Beach County School District

After nearly three years leading the country's 11th-largest school district, Palm Beach County's schools superintendent says he is stepping down.

E. Wayne Gent announced today that he won't be renewing his contract when it expires at the end of June.  That means his replacement will be Palm Beach County's fourth school superintendent in as many years.

Gent was hired in 2012, after the ousting of longtime superintendent Art Johnson and a brief interim term by a retired business executive.

AmateurX / Flickr

The country’s largest auto club is making it easier for Florida parents to comply with a revamped child car seat law.

As of the New Year, state law now requires that children need to be secured in car-safety seats until the age of six.  Previously, kids could transition to regular adult seat belts as young as age four.

Each Friday, throughout the month of January, AAA will be giving away free booster car seats.

AAA Director of Traffic Safety Culture Michele Harris says the organization takes child safety seriously.

Christine DiMattei

In downtown Delray Beach Monday night, same-sex couples who gathered to get hitched in a group wedding were greeted by balloons, flowers and dancing in the streets.

The doors of the South County Courthouse opened at 10:30 p.m. so marriage licenses could be processed before the ceremony. By then, dozens of couples were lined up outside, and a few started slow-dancing on the sidewalk after someone docked an iPod to a speaker.

Shortly after midnight, about 80 couples exchanged vows in a civil ceremony presided over by County Clerk Sharon Bock.

Flickr/CreativeCommons/tax credits.net

As Floridians ring out the old and ring in the new for 2015, there’s one thing they can say “farewell” to: a tax on their insurance bills that goes toward paying hurricane damage claims.

Insurance policies issued or renewed after Jan. 1, 2015, will no longer include the hurricane tax for the Florida Catastrophe Fund. The charge shows up on most insurance bills including homeowner and auto insurance policies.

But watchdog groups are urging policyholders to check their insurance bills, anyway. 

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