Around the Region - Jan. 3

Published: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 12:56 a.m.


Fire leaves house badly damaged

The first residential fire of 2009 in Gainesville occurred about 5:13 a.m. Friday when neighbors reported that a house at 914 SE 19th Terrace was ablaze.

Gainesville Fire Rescue crews could see smoke and flames coming out of the front of the 1,200-square-foot house and checked the house to ensure that no one was inside, reported GFR spokeswoman Carol Davis.

The fire appeared to have started in the front bedroom.

However, due to the extensive damage to the home and the instability of the structure, investigative efforts into the cause of the fire have been slowed, according to GFR fire investigator Kelly DeRasmo.

Living in the house was Odis D. Berry and his niece.

They were not home at the time of the fire.

Sun staff report


Improvements to SR 47 set to begin

Improvements to a 4.3-mile section of State Road 47 between the Gilchrist County line and U.S. 27 in Fort White are scheduled to begin Tuesday.

The travel lanes will be resurfaced, requiring lane closures weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. However, to accommodate school traffic, no lane closures will be allowed at the U.S. 27 intersection between 1:45 and 3 p.m. weekdays.

In addition to resurfacing, the project includes:

Adding asphalt to curves to improve safety and drainage.

Replacing bridge joints on the Santa Fe River Bridge at the Gilchrist County line.

Repairing the culvert in front of the library.

Replacing guardrail.

Constructing wheelchair accessible ramps at the sidewalk intersections.

Replacing traffic signal sensors embedded in the pavement at the U.S. 27 intersection.

Approximately 2,300 vehicles a day travel State Road 47 from the Gilchrist County line to U.S. 27 in Fort White. This section of State Road 47 was last resurfaced in 1997.

Staff report


Man faces sexual battery charge

CRAWFORDVILLE A North Florida man was arrested in connection with the sexual battery of a 4-year-old girl.

Capt. Steven Ganey of the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office says 34-year-old Francisco Ramon Alicea is being held without bail for alleged capital sexual battery.

He was booked into the jail early Thursday morning. Ganey says if convicted, Alicea could face the death penalty. Florida statutes allow the death penalty in sexual-battery cases involving victims under 12.

Authorities say the girl was in Alicea's care on New Year's Eve when the assault occurred. Ganey says Alicea confessed to the sexual battery.

The name of Alicea's attorney wasn't immediately available.

The Associated Press

Parrot spooked to death by fireworks

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES Officials at a wildlife conservatory are blaming the loud noise from New Year's Eve fireworks for the death of a rare parrot.

Workers at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Loxahatchee Groves were checking their birds Thursday morning when they discovered a dead red-browed Amazon parrot with severe head and face injuries.

Paul Reillo, director of the conservation center, says the injuries indicate that the bird had thrashed itself to death against its enclosure. He says the animals always get spooked by the fireworks but have never reacted so violently.

The parrot was part of a recovery project to breed the rare species and reintroduce it to its natural habitat in Brazil.

The Associated Press

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