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Franklin Graham writes tribute to his late father, Billy Graham

The Rev. Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist known as “America’s pastor,” died Wednesday after battling various health ailments.

He was 99.

Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, posted a tribute to him on Facebook following the news of his father’s death.

>> Read more trending news 

“Where is Heaven?” Franklin Graham recalled his father being asked, to which he then replied, “Heaven is where Jesus is, and I am going to Him soon!”

“He will be missed by our family, his colleagues, faithful ministry partners, and, yes, many around the world,” Franklin Graham wrote. “But what joy he has to be welcomed by God the Father, and be reunited with my mother in the presence of Jesus who speaks peace to eternal souls.”

Related: Anne Graham Lotz on her father Billy Graham’s death: ‘Daddy is home’

Franklin Graham’s mother, Ruth Graham, died in 2007.

Read Franklin Graham’s Facebook post below:

Gun-shaped cellphone case mistaken for weapon at Florida high school, officials say

A DeLand High School student caused a scare Tuesday when some students thought his cellphone case was a gun, school officials said.

>> Read more trending news

The 15-year-old boy's cellphone case was shaped like a gun, and a student thought it was a real weapon in the teen's back pocket, so the student reported it to a teacher, officials said.

The school was placed on a 30-minute lockdown.

The 15-year-old, whose name has not been released, faces charges of disruption of an educational institute, a misdemeanor, officials said.

“We know that kids will be kids, but in today’s world, we must be vigilant,” DeLand police Chief Jason Umberger said in a news release. “I want to express to all of our young people out there that they should always feel comfortable coming forward with information. Even if you’re not sure, we want to know. We don’t know what we don’t know, so whether a potential threat is made through Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or something else. Take a screenshot and send it over. You never know, you could be saving the lives of your friends."

The school district has reported at least 18 threats – all not credible – since the Parkland high school shooting, officials said. 

School officials urged parents to be vigilant.

"You have to have a discussion with your children regarding 'see something, say something' to a trusted adult. You have to monitor your children's cellphone and social media, and third, you need to check their backpack," said Volusia County Superintendent Tom Russell.

All aboard: Disney Cruise Line looks for workers to man its ship kid clubs

If you’ve dreamed of working on the high seas, then Disney is looking for you.

The cruise line that Mickey built is hiring youth activities counselors to live and work on its fleet of cruise ships, Metro reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The hours are long, according to Metro, at 80 hours a week, but the job offers fun and amazing ports of call in Mexico, Barcelona and Disney’s private island Castaway Cay.

The job posting opened in December, but it appears that the cruise line is still recruiting.

But not anyone can apply or be hired. You have to have two years’ recent experience working with children in a “high-volume, fast-paced recreational/camp environment.”

Among the other qualifications:

  • Must be able to command the attention of large groups of children
  • At least 20 years old
  • Work a seven-day 70-84 hour work week with limited time off
  • Adhere to Disney Cruise Line appearance guidelines

It would also help to be bilingual in Spanish or Portuguese and have experience working with children with special needs.

If chosen, cruise line cast members live with a roommate on board the ship and also must be willing and able to follow and lead the shipboard emergency procedures.

The positions are for any of the four Disney ships: the Wonder, Magic, Fantasy or Dream, and Disney’s private Bahamian island, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Click here to apply.

Ohio woman charged with felony animal cruelty after one dog decapitated, others starved

A Middletown woman has been jailed and charged with felony animal cruelty after several dead dogs were found in her backyard, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

>> Read more trending news

The county dog warden’s office received information last week advising that there were dead dogs in the yard at the residence in the 1300 block of Oxford State Road.

Four dogs were observed by the humane officers when they arrived on Friday. Two of the dogs were found in doghouses, another one was found in a black plastic tote along with a decapitated dog’s head, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The owner, Tina Marie Jackson, said she ran out of dog food and she never provided bedding in the doghouses to keep the dogs warm. She did not offer an explanation for the decapitated dog.

Necropsies were conducted on all four dogs, and three were found to have no food in their stomachs, and the cause of death was ruled starvation. There could not be any determination on a cause of death for the dog with the severed head due to lack of evidence in the specimen.

“I am beside myself,” said Sheriff Richard Jones. “Owning one animal and treating it like trash is appalling but this woman had four. I am disgusted that these poor animals suffered and I am glad Ms. Jackson is behind bars.”

Jackson, 39, was arrested and charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty to companion animals. She is currently housed in Middletown City Jail in lieu of $5,000 bond. Jackson is scheduled to be back in court Monday for a preliminary hearing.

Wendy Williams announces 3-week hiatus due to Graves’ disease

Wendy Williams is taking three weeks off from her talk show.

The former radio personality turned daytime TV show host was candid with her live audience Wednesday as she made the announcement. The 53-year-old has Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism, both of which she has spoken about in the past. 

>> Read more trending news 

“Wendy is a true champion and has never missed a day of work. But her health and well-being must be put before all else,” a show representative told People. “Wendy has been openly dealing with her Graves’ disease for many years, in addition to hyperthyroidism. Yesterday, Wendy’s doctor prescribed a necessary three weeks of rest to get her levels and medication in sync. The show will be in repeats during this unplanned hiatus. A live show was produced today so that Wendy could speak directly to her fans and explain her condition.”

“My doctor has prescribed -- are you ready? As of today, three weeks of vacation,” she said.

Williams then described the symptoms that come with Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism.

“Along with hyperthyroid and Graves’ disease, it promotes nervousness,” Williams said. “No, I’m not nervous. Anxiety, please. I’m over 30 years in this game.”

Related: Watch: Wendy Williams faints on live TV

The wife and mother to a teenage son did admit she has some symptoms, including a rapid heartbeat.

“Now, I can cop to irritability, but I’m just thinking it’s me micromanaging,” she said. 

Ever the workhorse, Williams said she would be back in less than three weeks.

“I’ll be back in two (weeks). I’m not an heiress. Who is going to pay my bills? Are you serious? I’m just saying, I come from working class,” she said.

Williams said she blamed her symptoms on the stresses of being a working wife and mother, encouraging women to put their health first.

“What I want to say to women, more than men, is stop putting everyone first because if we’re not good, they’re not good,” she said. 

Williams took three days off last week after she said she was “feeling flu-ish.” It was the first time she was out sick from the show since it started in 2009. In October, Williams fainted on-air while introducing a segment.

Related: Wendy Williams addresses fainting on live Halloween show

“That was not a stunt,” Williams said at the end of that episode. “I overheated in my costume, and I did pass out. But you know what? I’m a champ and I’m back.”

CNN reported that there will not be a fill-in host for the show. Repeat episodes will air during the hiatus.

Watch Williams’ message to viewers below.

Florida sheriff details proposal to arm teachers, school employees

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood wants certain teachers to be secretly armed with concealed weapons. 

>> Read more trending news

“The day of waiting for Tallahassee or Washington, D.C., to protect our kids is not coming,” he said

Chitwood provided more details on how this would work, saying it would be an extension of a program that’s been tested for the past year in Polk County. 

“That’s the only way you’re going to stop these guys, because they’re going to kill themselves,” Chitwood said. 

It would be modeled after the so-called Sentinel program. Candidates would become special deputies, who are screened and trained by officials with the sheriff’s office to stop any threat on campus. 

The Volusia County school superintendent said that is a conversation that needs to be had with the community and the school board. 

None of the five school board members returned requests for comment -- but parents in Ormond Beach had plenty to say. 

“If they’re armed, teachers might not go into the school,” said Brianna Clark, a parent. 

Kelly Clarkson: The First American Idol

Kelly Clarkson: The First American Idol

Anne Graham Lotz on her father Billy Graham’s death: ‘Daddy is home’

Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, posted a statement about her father's death Wednesday morning. 

The famed American Christian evangelist died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He was 99 years old.

>> Read more trending news 

Lotz is one of Graham’s five children with his wife Ruth Bell Graham, who died June 14, 2007.

“For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven,” Lotz  said in a statement posted on her Facebook page.

Read Lotz’s full statement below:

“My Father’s legacy is one that encompasses the world…and engulfs my own life. When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great. Whose mind remembered details that even a computer would have trouble recalling. “But when I think of him I also think of his message because he was immersed in it. Saturated in it. He was his message…a simple man who had responded to God’s love by placing his faith in Jesus, receiving the assurance that his sins were forgiven, that he would not perish, but would have everlasting life. Simple faith. Faith that now matters more than anything else. “For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven. Daddy not only claimed Jesus as the only Way to God, he lived by the Truth publicly on platforms and privately behind closed doors, and is now enjoying real Life. “I have often stated that I was raised by a single parent because ministry took my father away from our family—for weeks and months at a time. Daddy estimated that he was gone from home approximately 60 percent of his children’s growing-up years. Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too. “While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come. My prayer on this day of his move to Our Father’s House is that his death will be a rallying cry. That tens of thousands of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and ordinary men and women will rise up to take his place. That they will take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race and faithfully pass it on to those with whom they come in contact. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past. “It’s a message, when received, that brings a fresh beginning, unshakable joy, unexplainable peace, eternal significance, meaning and purpose to life, and opens Heaven’s door. “It was this message, which Daddy carried to the world, that penetrated my own heart as a young girl and has created in me a personal, passionate resolve to communicate it myself to as many people as possible. And so, even as my tears seem to be unending, I silently rededicate my life to picking up and passing on the baton. Would you do the same?”

Parkland students march at Capitol calling for tighter gun control laws

About 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School poured into the state Capitol this morning to call for tighter gun control laws in the wake of last week’s massacre on their school campus.

>> Read more trending news

The students arrived at a Tallahassee high school to extended applause late Tuesday after a 400-mile trip on three buses, The Associated Press reported.

The students told about 500 students and parents waiting for them that they are fighting to protect all students.>>Read the full story here.

Paul Manafort, Rick Gates face new charges: report

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, and Rick Gates, who served as a campaign aide, are facing new charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's criminal case against the pair, Politico reported Wednesday.

READ MORE: Mueller investigation: Lawyer pleads guilty to lying to investigators in Russia probeWho is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller? | Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation? | What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with? | MORE

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