News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida on February 21, 2009 · Page 28
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News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida · Page 28

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Fort Myers, Florida
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Saturday, February 21, 2009
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Page 28
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B8 THE NEWS-PRESS, LOCAL & TALLAHASSEE Crist proposes more property tax cuts Gov. Charlie Crist wants more property tax cuts. The Republican governor Friday proposed three additional state constitutional amendments and another law. Legislation and an amendment passed in 2007 and 2008 helped cut property taxes an average of 3 percent annually after a stream of increases. One proposed amendment would put spending caps on local governments. Another 'would give breaks to first-time home buyers and non-homeowner taxpayers. The third would bar tax increases for primary homeowners if their property values go down. Crist also is supporting a bill to aid taxpayers who appeal their assessments. DELAND Three go to prison for fatal 1-4 prank Three people whose prank of putting a chair on Interstate 4 in the middle of the night and causing the death of a Longwood police officer will go to prison. A circuit judge Friday sentenced 20-year-old Tyler Jenkins, who placed the plastic lawn chair in the center of the highway, to nine years in prison, followed by six years of probation. He had previously pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the July 2007 death of Sgt. Karl Strohsal. The chair had caused Strohsal to swerve and hit a guardrail. Strohsal got out of his vehicle and was hit by another car. Two other participants, 20-year-old Katie Jo Peller and 19-year-old Eric Biggs, were sentenced to four years in prison and one year of probation for the charge of accessory to manslaughter. PALATKA Teen denies being out day girl vanished The 17-year-old who was watching over Haleigh Cummings in northeast Florida before the 5 year old went missing two weeks ago is denying reports of not being home at the time. Misty Croslin told NBC's "Today Show" Friday that she was home and called police when she realized the girl was not there. She said "it was not a long period of time" after she looked around the house and called out for Haleigh when she contacted authorities. Croslin is the girlfriend of Haleigh's father, Ronald Cummings. Haleigh vanished from her father's mobile home. Police also received a tip about a relative of Croslin's who was in the area at the time, but has since returned to Tennessee. Officials have spoken with him, but would not give further information. MIAMI Graffiti artist falls from highway sign The Florida Highway Patrol says a man who was hit and killed by a truck on an expressway might have fallen from an overhead sign he was tagging. The 28-year-old man fell from a catwalk on a road sign hanging over the Palmetto Expressway at about 1 a.m. He was identified by authorities as Enrique Vicente Olivera. Authorities say a pickup truck hit and killed the man on the roadway. The driver of the pickup truck did stop. FHP troopers found a can of spray paint near the man's body. Several signs on Interstate 95 in Miami were vandalized earlier this week; officials say they don't know if the man who STATE, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, fell scrawled the graffiti on the other signs. PORT ST. LUCIE Boy's body sought at abuser's homes Authorities have searched the grounds of three homes owned by a convicted child abuser, looking for the body of one of her adopted children. Judith Leekin was sentenced to 20 years in a Florida prison this month. She was also sentenced in New York to serve 11 years in federal prison for fraud. The terms are to run concurrently. Authorities say they searched her Florida homes Thursday after getting an anonymous tip. They say they were looking for the body of a 10-year-old adopted boy who disappeared a decade ago while in Leekin's care. They didn't find him but say the search will continue. Leekin was accused of abusing 11 disabled children she adopted from New York while pocketing more than $1 million in subsidies for their care. MAYP0RT Chief petty officer to be arraigned A Navy chief petty officer accused of mistreating Iraqi detainees while on duty at Camp Bucca is scheduled to be arraigned at Mayport Naval Station. Chief Petty Officer Tracy Necaise, 43, of Pensacola, who was the guard duty officer at the Iraq prison camp, is charged with two counts of conspiracy and two counts of assaulting detainees. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday. The detainees are accused of spitting and throwing urine and feces on the sailors, which angered the guards. Necaise was not involved in pepper spraying the detainees. If convicted, the charges carry more than a year in the brig and a dishonorable discharge. MIAMI King of Spain, Crist meet, talk trade Spain's King Juan Carlos I and Gov. Charlie Crist met in Miami to discuss trade opportunities. Both leaders noted the history and culture that Florida and Spain share. Each said Friday that they particularly hope to collaborate on renewable energy projects. Crist said Florida is negotiating with the company that built the world's largest solar energy farm in Spain, to build a similar farm in central Florida. The Florida-Spain Business Forum is part of a series of events with state, local and international officials honoring the 450th anniversary of the Spanish arrival in northwest Florida. The king and his wife, Queen Sofia, visited Pensacola on Thursday. The royal couple planned to . attend the South Beach Wine & Food ANNUAL SHOW AND SALE of HANDPAINTED PORCELAIN SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2009 10 A.M. TO 4 P.M. Located at: Browning Hall at: St. Hilary's Church Comer of McGregor and Colonial Blvd., in Fort Myers 2009 Festival in Miami Beach later Friday. JACKSONVILLE Baby jaguar bom at Jacksonville zoo There's a new baby jaguar at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. No word yet on the cub's name. Officials say they'll announce it when he's put on public display in another five weeks or so. The zoo auctioned off the right to name him. The 7-week-old is the first jaguar to be born there in almost 28 years. The first photos of the cub were taken last weekend when he had his first physical exam. His birth brings the zoo's jaguar population to eight the largest of any zoo in the country. MIAMI BEACH Celebrity chefs are in South Beach While the South Beach Wine & Food Festival expects to draw more than 18,000 hungry people to its annual food-fest, tickets to some of the events are still available a far cry from the early sellouts of previous years. The four-day event, which started Thursday night, showcases the talents of culinary experts and celebrity chefs such . as Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart. It has become one of the largest festivals of its kind in the country. But tickets to more than half of the 44 events are still available. The festival's director said Wednesday the festival gave fewer free passes to sponsors this year and created a bigger ticket supply, Prices were hiked and receipts so far have topped $3.7 million, compared to $3.2 million ' in 2008. CORAL GABLES Former secretary joins UM institute Former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, who served in President George W. Bush's administration, has been named a non-resident scholar at the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies. Gutierrez will work with the program's Cuba Business Roundtable that recruits companies interested in doing business with a post-embargo, post Castro Cuba. He will be based in Washington, D.C. "His experience in government and his extensive knowledge of global business challenges will enhance ICCAS's resources and help in developing important partnerships," University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala said in a statement. -. , Cuban-born Gutierrez will also serve as keynote speaker in ICCAS' Cuba Transition Project seminars in Eastern Europe, ' Latin America and Canada. JACKSONVILLE Drop in shark attacks blamed on recession Bites are at lowest levels in five years The Associated Press Shark attacks dipped to the lowest level in five years in 2008, a change that might have happened because the ailing economy kept cash-strapped vacationers away from beaches, a leading shark expert said Thursday. There were 59 shark attacks around the world last year, compared to 71 in 2007, said George Burgess, an ichthyologist and director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History. "I can't help but think that contributing to the reduction may have been the reticence of some people to take holidays MIAMI Singer graduates from drug program Mexican singer and actor Pablo Montero has completed a drug rehabilitation program in Miami. Montero, whose legal name is Oscar Hernandez, graduated Friday. He received his certificate i v i i cqjS)$dze WHITE VINYL SINGLE HUNG REPLACEMENT WINDOWS Up to 52" Wide. Plus Standard Installation. 4 Window Minimum ffiMHI3Sffiiti E7 Mil? l STOW irrO ft 111.. J rrm m mm i i l i IN I lav Y PI ,m r i Miwir ... bum" - HULPIUxn i OVER 1 500 B30B "7 SSmSSSSbt Kn, if poJ, Florida's Home Accessory Suoerstore and gp to the beach for economic reasons," Burgess said in a news release. Burgess said he expects the economy to . help cause another decline in attacks in ; 2009, but over the long term, he expects a gradual increase from one decade to the next. While the economy is a possible explanation, shark populations also have declined due to commercial fishing. In some areas, the number of sharks is down to 10 percent of the original . populations. "We've got a lot less sharks than in the past,1 Burgess said. ; . There were four fatal attacks in 2008, which is about average, Burgess said. Only one death was reported in 2007, a two-decade low. Two of the deaths were in Mexico, during a ceremony in a Miami courtroom and, through an interpreter, told Judge Deborah White-Labora and other attendees that the experience made him stronger. Police .stopped Montero in 2007 for allegedly running a red light and then making a left turn from a right-turn only lane. The police report said a. small . i w i w i Impact Resistant Windows I ---Aj mail a m r I AVAILABLE iffljiwttwIMHMHSS II' lUn m p one was in Australia and one was in the United States. . The number of shark attacks in the United States dropped from 50 in 2007 to 41 last year, Burgess said. Of those, 32 were in Florida, the same as the previous year, followed by North Carolina and South Carolina with three each; Hawaii with two and California with one. Surfers accounted for 57 percent of the attacks, followed by 36 percent for swimmers and waders and 8 percent for divers, Burgess said. Volusia County continued its dubious distinction of the world's shark bite capital with 22 attacks, its highest yearly total since 2001. Most of them were in the surf haven of New Smyrna Beach on the central Atlantic coast. bag with cocaine was found in his car. Montero told officers the bag belonged to him and not to his passenger. The arrest in Miami Beach came two days after Montero helped present nominees for the Latin Grammy Awards at a South Florida press conference. Montero was nominated for the category of regional Mexican song. IIIlVJtM Silver Line' flMnftttOT!3Xi Y'ullll flO.nnnl utility ns nc .JBBB mm 1 NORTH MS 592-1966 2321 faMM kach N. IM rat if Nipt mj BOlSPOiS 495-2605 liR.41hnihwlHltiCMMM Unt wi if Mb I taty ftnitvt SOUTH FT. MYERS 437-2266 WlMWMlllMiMHakM

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