Around the Region


Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 11:05 p.m.

Nurse reports seeing bound woman in van

  • A motorist's report that she saw someone tied up in a passing van has Gainesville Police searching for any information about a possible abduction.
    A Tampa nurse, visiting a friend in Gainesville on Sunday, told officers she was in her vehicle at NW 8th Avenue and NW 34th Street when she saw a minivan with a woman bound inside. Police, who received the report at about 4 p.m., investigated but weren't able to locate the van.
    "Maybe it was a joke. Maybe it was real. We don't know. It could have been someone actually kidnapped," said police spokesman Sgt. Keith Kameg.
    The witness described the woman as having an olive complexion with short, black, straight hair, a police report states. The woman, wearing a tan jacket and pants, appeared to be in her 20s and weighed about 125 pounds.
    The driver said she spotted the woman when the van's sliding door opened. The woman's hands and feet were bound, and she started to scream and yell for help as she tried to get out through the open door.
    Driving the van was a white man with short, black hair, possibly in his late teens, according to a report. The van appeared to be a newer model and was a dark tan color with tinted windows. Police are asking anyone who might have information about the incident to contact Detective Michael Douglas at 334-2349.
    - Lise Fisher

    Area man charged in seven burglaries

  • A Gainesville man was charged with seven burglaries Monday evening, according to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
    Ronnie Joe Carroll, 38, of 5308 SW 67th St., was arrested and charged with burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property. He is being held at the Alachua County jail on a $95,000 bond.
    In June and July of last year, court records show that Carroll allegedly stole thousands of dollars in jewelry, CDs and musical instruments, pawning the items at local shops. In one case, he allegedly pawned a Gainesville resident's Les Paul guitar - valued at $5,000 - for $80, according to the court records.
    Carroll had been arrested and charged with dealing in stolen property on July 14, and he was released from the Alachua County jail on his own recognizance, jail records show. He was charged with committing more burglaries after he got out of jail.
    - Meredith Mandell

    Washroom fire destroys Putnam County home

  • A fire that started inside a washroom destroyed a western Putnam County home Tuesday morning.
    Clothes that had fallen behind a dryer and crushed a vent led to the blaze at 263 Little Orange Lake Drive, said Putnam County Fire Marshal Joe Guidry. When the dryer was working, it overheated due to the blocked vent. The heat ignited the clothing behind the appliance. Flames spread to a nearby box and then through the double-wide mobile home.
    The home's owners, Mark Herriott and his wife, Lauren, were at the residence at the time of the fire, reported shortly before 9:30 a.m. They were not injured.
    Several pet cats at the home were saved but one died in the fire, Guidry said. Firefighters from Alachua County, Melrose and Putnam County responded to the emergency, said Guidry and Mark Hughes with Alachua County Fire Rescue.
    - Lise Fisher

    VA Medical Center plans prayer service

  • On the eve of this weekend's elections in Iraq, Gainesville's Veterans Affairs Medical Center will hold a noon prayer service Thursday at the flagpole in front of the hospital.
    The public is invited to take part in the short service to show support for U.S. military personnel engaged in the war on terrorism, VA officials say.
    - Diane Chun

    SFCC recognized for international education

  • Santa Fe Community College's success in international education has drawn national recognition.
    SFCC received the 2005 Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education from the Institute of International Education at the organization's meeting this week in New York, college officials reported. The IIE recognizes colleges and universities that foster international study and increase participation in international elements of teaching and learning.
    At SFCC, more than 16 courses have been revised and six more have been created to better reflect global perspectives, according to college officials. SFCC faculty and students studied in Guatemala, Honduras and Western Europe last year and can travel to China, Peru, London or Costa Rica this summer.
    The college also began offering business Spanish classes and an Internet-based continuing education course for schoolteachers in international economics.
    - Douane D. James

    UF student senate may give loan to hotel

  • The University of Florida student senate will consider giving a $500,000 loan to fund renovations at the Reitz Union Hotel.
    Sen. John Pughe said the money is needed to update the hotel rooms and that the hotel does not have the money to pay for the renovations. "The renovation will bring an added frosting to our university," Pughe said. "It will enhance the beautiful campus we already have and give alumni a wonderful place to come back to on campus - and that's priceless."
    Senators will meet at the budget and appropriations meeting Thursday to discuss details of the loan. Pughe said the bill has to pass through the committee before senators can vote on it at their next meeting on Feb. 1.
    - Deborah Ball
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