Around the region

Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 2:59 a.m.

Tractor-trailer backs over man, killing him

A Lake City man was killed last week when a tractor-trailer driver backed over him at a logging site in Live Oak, according to Suwannee County Sheriff's Office report.
Bobby Junior Griffis, 40, of Lake City was pronounced dead on Jan. 24 at the scene, at 116th Street and 133rd Road in Live Oak.
According to the report, Griffis was helping truck driver Jennifer Suzanne Brown, 30, of Live Oak, connect to a trailer when the accident happened.
Chief Deputy Ron Colvin said Brown told investigators she did not see Griffis behind her truck until after she had hit him.
- Alice Wallace

Keystone Heights man dies in ATV accident

A Keystone Heights man died during the weekend after he was thrown from his all-terrain vehicle, the Clay County Sheriff's Office reported Wednesday.
William Ellison "Web" Brannon, 20, died in the crash, according to deputies.
Brannon had been driving north on Oak Forest Lane, eight miles north of Keystone Heights, a Sheriff's Office report stated. The ATV went off the unpaved road and Brannon was ejected.
Lee Brannon, 54, of Keystone Heights said his son had been heading home late Saturday but never arrived. His son's girlfriend searched for William Brannon but it was a neighbor who later discovered the crashed ATV.
A funeral for the man is scheduled for Saturday.
Clay County is one of several counties in North Florida that opted out of last year's state law change allowing ATVs on unpaved roads with a speed limit of less than 35 mph, the Sheriff's Office reported.
- Lise Fisher

Police say GHS student brought knife to school

Police arrested a Gainesville High School student after police said he brought a knife to school Tuesday after making threats to kill another student.
The 15-year-old was charged with possession of a weapon on school property, Gainesville Police Sgt. Keith Kameg said.
People at the school saw the student with the 9-inch-long serrated steak knife and reported it to school officials.
Last week the student had threatened to kill another teenager, Kameg said. The boy later said he had been mad at the other student and wanted to hurt him.
No one was injured, police reported.
- Lise Fisher

Area man charged with having sex with teens

A Gainesville man is facing criminal charges alleging he had sexual contact with two female teenagers, police reported.
Allen Jermaine Strawder, 18, was arrested Tuesday and was being held at the Alachua County jail on charges stemming from two cases, Gainesville Police Detective Jorge Campos said.
Police allege Strawder was having sex with two teenagers, one 13 and another 15. Police learned about the allegations after the parents of one of the teenagers caught him at their home over the weekend.
Warrants were issued on two charges of lewd and lascivious battery on a person under 16, Campos said.
- Lise Fisher

Suspects sought in robberies, pickpocketing

A group of thieves targeted people at two Gainesville area locations, a medical facility and a restaurant, early Wednesday, officers reported.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the Gainesville Police Department were investigating reports of robberies and pickpocketing at the North Florida Regional Medical Center off of Newberry Road and the Cracker Barrel restaurant, 4001 SW 43rd St.
The men, who were described as well-dressed, black and in their 40s and 50s, got on an elevator with a woman at the hospital and apparently stole a cosmetics bag from her purse about 9:30 a.m., Gainesville Police reported. The men distracted her when one claimed his foot was caught in the elevator door. Another woman at the hospital also made a similar report, saying the men who matched the thieves' description in the earlier robbery tried to take her purse.
About a half hour later, an Illinois couple at the restaurant reported thieves had stolen from them and that the suspects appeared to be the same men, according to deputies. The men pretended the restaurant door was stuck while one took the woman's wallet. A video camera at the business recorded the theft.
The number of men in the different reports varied from three to four but their descriptions were the same, officers said.
In the two of the reports, the men picked older residents as their victims including a 79-year-old woman and an 82-year-old man, according to officers.
- Lise Fisher

School attendance helps determine funding

Attendance of Alachua County public school students will be vital in the coming week because of its connection to school funding.
This is the second time this school year that students will be counted to establish counts for funding from the state. In order for students to be included in the counts, they must attend at least one day during the week of Feb. 5-9. The first count was in October.
Last year, Alachua County public schools lost funding for about 80 students, which translated to about $350,000.
Keith Birkett, assistant superintendent for Planning, Budgeting and Systems Accountability, said it's important for students to be in school at all times, but next week has a big monetary impact on the district.
Birkett said 28,000 students are enrolled in the county. All students K-12 are counted.
- Andrew Tan

Time running out for taking county survey

Alachua County residents who want to participate in a survey on county services have until Monday to do so, thanks to a deadline extension.
The survey was included in the county's annual report/calendar that reached residents about a month ago. It can also be taken online at
"The best way for the County Commission and county government to make informed decisions about the needs and desires of its citizenry is for that citizenry to be engaged in the process." County Manager Randall Reid said. "This survey crosses the digital divide. It gives all of our citizens the opportunity to comment on a number of broad issues and services.
"Not all citizens can come to meetings to engage in government processes or have Internet access. Returning this survey by the new deadline date will add your voice to the report that will be presented to the County Commission later in the year."
A postage-paid envelope was included in the calendar.
- Cindy Swirko

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