The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida on November 4, 1997 · 14
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The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida · 14

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Tampa, Florida
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Tuesday, November 4, 1997
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14
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6 -FLORIDAMETRO D THE TAMPA TRIBUNE O TUESDAY. NOVEMBER 4, 1997 Send comments and tips through e-mail to: floridametrotampatrib.com LAWRENCE FLETCHER, Senior EditorNews, (813) 259-7626 Ftorida Metro tax, (813) 259-7676 RdcusOnFlorida Tornado victims begin cleanup NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Damage is estimated at $14 million but could go higher as almost 300 homes were destroyed or damaged. An Associated Press report Residents of this beachfront community on Monday loaded waterlogged furniture onto trucks, scraped up rooftops from their neighbors' yards and waited for insurance adjusters to calculate their losses from a devastating tornado that ripped through the area. "This was one of the worst we've seen," state Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson said before touring this town of 18,000 people. "This is another part of the price we pay when we live in paradise." Nelson estimated the damage at $14 million but said it could go higher as insurance adjusters interview more homeowners. Almost 300 homes were damaged and 175 people were dislocated. On Monday, Gov. Lawton Chiles requested federal aid for Manatee and Volusia counties. No one was killed when the tornado tore through four neighborhoods early Sunday without any warning. Thirty-two people were injured, including six requiring hospitalization. By Monday, two remained in the hospital one with a fractured back, the other with a fractured pelvis. The damage was widespread. At the nine-story Diamond Head Point condominiums, two towers were mangled by the storm, which twisted metal from balconies around the white concrete building and left furniture hanging out windows. "There's nothing left," said Jerry Kersenbrock as he left his fifth-floor, two-bedroom condo with a suitcase filled with shoes and a ceramic pig in his hands. His wife, Virginia, remained at Bert Fish Medical Center with the fractured pelvis, caused by a living-room china cabinet smashing into her bedroom and pinning her to the floor. Her husband said she was peppered with glass. "She's in good spirits," he said. "She's grateful to be alive." About a mile closer to the beach, Art and Jane Irish greeted neighbors and friends who stopped by to see their devastated three-bedroom home fir- " ifrW AP photo Few homes escape damage in this north New Smyrna Beach neighborhood following Sunday morning's tornado. About 175 people were forced to find shelter elsewhere. in one of the worst-hit areas. Police were restricting movement to the 10-block area across the Indian River. The roof of the Irish's home was in a pile in their front yard but for a portion above a bedroom, the porch and the kitchen. Shattered glass creaked underfoot as the elderly couple removed lamps and furniture from their house. A vanity and queen-sized bed, in a bedroom where a wall collapsed, now overlooked their neighbors' yard. Sunlight streamed into the roofless living room filled with a water-soaked couch, La-Zee Boy and coffee table. "Look at the sky. Look how blue it is," Jane Irish said while picking up glass, pillows and a tablecloth in their living room. Her husband, who has had the winter home in his family for more than 40 years, shot back: "It's our roof dear." In this neighborhood by the beach, where some houses amazingly escaped without damage, neighbors with unscathed homes offered help. Charon Luebbers had planned a 40th birthday bash barbecue for Sunday but canceled it. She spent Monday pulling a cooler filled with hot dogs, potato chips and soda around the neighborhood, offering lunch to neighbors whose kitchens were detached from their homes by the 155 mph winds. "My house was spared, that was a good birthday gift," Luebbers said. "It wasn't the party I expected." Myrna Rose, a licensed massage therapist, brought her massage chair and set up shop in front of a home that was knocked off its foundation. She offered free massages to homeowners, repairmen and emergency workers. This was one of the worst we've seen. This is another part of the price we pay when we live in paradise, Bill Nelson State insurance commissioner 7th chUd dies of abuse in 2 months JACKSONVILLE - Another child dies of abuse and once again, the mother's boyfriend has been charged in the death. By SALLY KESTIN of The Tampa Tribune A Jacksonville toddler became the latest child to die of abuse in Florida. In what has become a familiar pattern, Jeffery Petry died Saturday from a beating inflicted by the mother's boyfriend, police say. . Jeffery, two weeks shy of his first birthday, is the seventh Florida child to die of abuse in two months. Mothers' boyfriends have been charged in six of the seven cases. "We are in the throes of a plague," said Jack Levine of the Florida Center for Children & Youth. Jeffery's mother, 21-year-old Ladeena Petry, left the boy and three other children in the care of her boyfriend Friday while she went to work the night shift at a Wal-Mart, said Sgt. Don Schoenfeld of the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office. The boyfriend, Richard Green Jr., 32, told detectives he became frustrated when Jeffery would not sleep. He slapped the boy's head with the back of his hand six or seven times, Schoenfeld said. By the time Ladeena Petry returned from work about 8 a.m. Saturday, Jeffery had been dead for some time, Schoenfeld said. Green "never called anyone," Schoenfeld said. Detectives charged him with murder. The case is similar to that of the other six children who died, except that Jeffery had not been under the supervision of the state's social services agency before he was killed. Agency officials are firing workers they say -mishandled two of the cases, including that of Tampa toddler Jonathan Flam, who died last week. As part of the shake-up, the top social services administrator in Tampa, Chip Taylor, was demoted. Levine said the state must do a better job of detecting when children are in harm's way. Jeffery's family moved to Florida from Virginia about thee months ago, Schoenfeld said. "The reason Florida is such fertile ground for these tragedies is we are a state of transients," Levine said. Young parents struggle to support families far from relatives and friends, he said. "What we have is an unprecedented number of single mothers ... desperate for employment to make ends meet and also desperate for companionship," he said. Sally Kestin covers social services and can be reached at (813) 259-7562. I " ; JOCK FISTICKTribune photo Roy Leep, left, watches a tape commemorating his career during the 6 p.m. newscast Monday with John Wilson. Veteran weatherman announces retirement TAMPA - After 40 years as a meteorologist, Roy Leep said he will retire on Nov. 26 from WTVT, Channel 13. By WALT BELCHER of The Tampa Tribune Roy Leep made it official Monday night. The 40-year veteran meteorologist at WTVT, Channel 13, told viewers of the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts he will retire on Nov. 26. In a short statement at the close of the 6 p.m. newscast, Leep said he was making the announcement "with knots in my stomach, and some people say, with rocks in my head." "It's not easy to leave a career of 40 years, a career I dearly love," he added, his voice cracking with emotion. "I'll be with you until Nov. 26 and then I'll enjoy watching it with you," he said. Co-anchors John Wilson and Kelly Ring praised Leep, pointing out that he is a modest man. "His forecasts are better than anyone in the world," Ring said. Channel 13 closed the newscast with a repeat of a tribute that aired in August when Leep celebrated his 40th year at the station. "I wanted to keep it short and sweet. I will have more to say on my last day, Nov. 26," Leep said Monday afternoon. Leep's dog Scud, featured on the 10 p.m. news, will be retiring, too. "I don't have much to say that hasn't already been reported," Leep said. News of his retirement announcement was front page news Saturday and WTVT heavily promoted the announcement on Sunday and Monday. Leep, who turns 65 on Nov. 9, said he wants to go out while he is on top. "I look around the country and see some people who have stayed on the air too long," he said. "I don't want to be a hanger-on who ends up doing weekends and fillers." Leep said he plans to travel and spend more time with his family. He said he will remain an active board member of the American Meteorological Society. "I'm not ruling out that I might one day work in meteorology again, but for now, I want to sit back and relax," he said. German tourist tells of attack by robbers MIAMI - A dozen young men are on trial on federal charges of being part of a robbery gang that targeted foreign tourists. An Associated Press report An elderly German tourist testified Monday that, near Miami International Airport, four men in another car got him to pull off the highway, telling him his rental car was on fire, then tried to rob him. Erich Henkle, 71, of Offenbach, Germany, testified at the trial of a dozen young men facing federal charges of operating a tourist robbery gang targeting foreign tourists, especially women and the elderly. Federal prosecutors say the gang sought out foreign tourists because foreigners wouldn't know their way around Miami, wouldn't be able to quickly contact police, and were less likely to return to Miami to testify. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Monique Roth's prosecution team is paying to fly in victims from around the world to testify against the 12 defendants. All of the Miami defendants are charged with racketeering and with interfering with commerce. Testifying Monday with the help of a German interpreter, Henkle said he was on vacation with his daughter Sigrid on March 12, 1993, and was driving a rental car from Miami International Airport on State Road 112 when the incident took place. "A car pulled alongside of me and they yelled 'Your car is on fire!' I didn't understand. But he yelled again, pointing to the rear of the car." Four men in a car pulled over behind him, and he told them: "There is no fire," Henkle testified Monday. That was when he noticed one of the men from the other car had gotten out and was letting the air out of his tire, Henkle testified. A Florida Highway Patrol cruiser came along and the trooper caught four suspects as they tried to make a getaway. Assaults on tourists in Florida peaked four years ago, during a yearlong, statewide crime wave that left 10 visitors slain. Those murders drew international attention, hurting Florida's $31 billion tourist industry. The defendants in this case have not been linked to any of the tourist slayings. All 12 were indicted in 1996, in an investigation into more than 200 tourist robberies. House-warming gift 5 ;- "' ? - ': i I I - f ?. I 2 f ' 'I y v. COLIN HACKLEYTribune photo House Speaker Dan Webster, R-Orlando, left, thanks state Rep. Deborah Tamargo, R-Tampa, for a USF football jersey she presented to him. Tamargo was sworn in Monday in Tallahassee, taking the seat vacated by Elvin Martinez. Most major Florida newspapers gain readership Reversing a recent downward trend, three of the five largest papers in Florida post circulation gains in a six-month period. A Tribune staff, wire report Circulation increased at most big newspapers in Florida and across the nation, as the booming economy attracted more readers and the effects of higher subscription prices began to wear off. Figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulation showed increases at nine of the nation's top 15 newspapers. Florida papers also reversed or slowed a downward trend. In a similar report this spring, the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale was the only big Florida newspaper to show a daily circulation increase from a year before. But for the most recent reporting period, three of the state's five biggest papers had improved numbers. The Miami Herald is the state's largest paper, according to averages for the six months ending Sept. 30. The Herald reported circulation of 351,432 papers on a Monday and Thursday-through-Saturday average, and 463,702 on Sunday. The Tampa Tribune was among papers losing circulation, as the newspaper focused on its core market of Hillsborough and Pasco counties and lost outlying readers. "Our basic challenge is to identify our market and concentrate on serving it very well," Tribune publisher Reid Ashe said. The Wall Street Journal remains the nation's best-selling newspaper, with daily circulation of 1.77 million, down 0.5 percent from the year before. It was followed by USA Today, at 1.63 million, up 2.4 percent, and the New York Times, 1.07 million, up 0.3 percent, i i Florida's Top 5 newspapers, their daily circulation averages for the six months ending Sept. 30 and percentage changes were: Miami Herald, 351,432, up 2.1 percent; St. Petersburg Times, 321,447, up 1.4 percent; Orlando Sentinel, 250,886, down 0.4 percent; Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), 240,091, up 0.9 percent; Tampa Tribune, 227,570, down 5.5 percent. For Sunday, the numbers were: Miami Herald, 463,702, down 0.4 percent; St. Petersburg Times, 414,113, up 0.6 percent; Orlando Sentinel, 373,431, down 0.1 percent; Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), 354,105, up 1.1 percent; Tampa Tribune, 320,083, down 4.6 percent. The results reverse a general decline in circulation over the past two years at major papers after many raised prices to offset higher newsprint costs and cut back costly deliveries to outlying areas.

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