Around the Region

Published: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 12:35 a.m.

COURTS: Federal judge dismisses suit over wood chemicals

  • A federal court judge has dismissed an environmental group's lawsuit, filed in conjunction with a Gainesville family, accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of moving too slowly to ban hazardous wood-treating chemicals.

    In 2002, Beyond Pesticides, a national organization promoting pesticide safety, filed suit against the agency on behalf of the Communications Workers of America, the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif., and Joseph and Rosannecq Prager of Gainesville.

    Central to the case were claims that the EPA had failed to ban preservatives, including creosote and chromated copper arsenate (CCA) - which are laced with arsenic, dioxins and other compounds - despite what the groups called "mountains of health and environmental effects data" that outline the dangers posed to treaters and consumers.

    In a statement, Beyond Pesticides said that Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., dismissed the case because the EPA had not yet issued a final action on how to regulate the wood-treating chemicals.

    - Greg C. Bruno

    COMMUNITY: Air potato roundup takes place today

  • It's not too late to help Gainesville take back its parks and right of ways from one of the region's most noxious invasive plants, the air potato.

    From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. todaySaturday, participants in the fifth annual Great Air Potato Roundup will work with city experts to help eradicate the weeds as part of Invasive Plant Awareness Week. Last year more than 900 volunteers collected 13 tons of air potatoes from 22 nature park and creek connection sites.

    This year's event is co-hosted by Gainesville Ecosystems At Risk, a newly formed volunteer organization created to educate residents about threats to the area's natural systems. Latecomers can still register today at Morningside Nature Center at 3540 E. University Ave. For more information, visit

    - Greg C. Bruno

    COMMUNITY: Bald eagle recovering, may fly free Sunday

  • Alexandra the eagle is recovering nicely after a Thursday morning collision with a pickup, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine staff said late Friday.

    UF veterinary technician Elijah Rooney said that X-rays showed the female bald eagle had nothing broken after the accident.

    "Otherwise, she looks very healthy," Rooney said. "We're going to give her a flight test, and if all goes well, she'll be released either Sunday or Monday."

    The eagle had been struck by a pickup on U.S. 441, captured in a nearby wooded area and taken to the vet school for treatment.

    - Diane Chun

    STATE: Flag incident gets students disqualified

  • FORT LAUDERDALE - Students performing a play about the dangers of mindless political indoctrination were disqualified from a Broward County theater competition after cutting up a U.S. flag.

    The troupe from Archbishop McCarthy High was performing a 1963 James Clavell play called "The Children's Story." In the play, a class of U.S. third-graders cut up the flag after the country is defeated by a powerful enemy and their new teacher tells them if the flag is so good, everyone should get a piece.

    Judges at the Florida State Thespians District 13 one-act play competition said cutting up the flag broke Florida laws, and disqualified the group from the competition earlier this week. Melody Wicht, who teaches drama at Pembroke Pines Charter high, said she based her decision on a Florida statute that charges ``whoever publicly mutilates, defaces or tramples with intent to insult'' the flag with a first-degree misdemeanor.

    Teens in the play said it presents a patriotic message. ``The play is actually pro-American,'' said Erin Fragetta, 15, who worked on the production. ``It was intended to be an anti-communist message, and the judges just turned it around on us.''

    - The Associated Press

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