Around the Region

Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 10:42 p.m.

Police search for man in Dixie bank robbery

Investigators in Dixie County are searching for the man who robbed an Old Town bank Monday afternoon, the first bank robbery in the county in about seven years.

A man entered the Drummond Community Bank, 25873 S.E. Highway 19, and robbed the business shortly before 4 p.m., the Dixie County Sheriff's Office reported.

None of the four employees who were inside were harmed. Officers had no information that the suspect produced a weapon, but the man demanded cash from an employee, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The suspect was a white man, approximately 6 feet tall, 165 to 185 pounds with blondish-brown hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt with images on the front and back; tan, cargo-type shorts; white tennis shoes and a white or light-colored cap with a design on the front.

Numerous agencies and groups are assisting in the investigation, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the Gainesville Police Department, the K-9 unit from the Cross City Correctional Institution and the Cross City Police Department.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at 498-1220 or 498-1462.

Truck driver crashes, dies on rain-slick I-75

A truck slid out of control on Interstate 75 in Columbia County on Monday night, killing the driver, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Joseph L. Larue, 62, of Brandon died in the crash, which occurred about two miles north of U.S. 90 shortly before 7 p.m.

Larue was driving north in a 2005 Freightliner truck when he lost control on the interstate's wet pavement, troopers reported. The truck began to rotate and slid off the roadway and onto the shoulder, hitting several pine trees.

Larue, who was wearing a seat belt, died on the scene, according to FHP.

Shands copter pilot, flight director honored

ShandsCair pilot Don Irving was named 2009 Pilot of the Year by the Florida Emergency Medical Services Pilots Association at an awards ceremony in Orlando on Tuesday.

Irving was at the controls of the ShandsCair helicopter back in March, transporting a trauma patient back to Shands at the University of Florida, when a duck sailed right through the windshield and struck him in the face.

Irving landed the emergency helicopter safely.

"Don is one of the most level-headed and unflappable people I've ever met," said Dr. David Meurer, ShandsCair medical director.

At the same ceremony, Jim Howard, ShandsCair flight program director for many years, was named Flight Nurse of the Year by the Florida Air Surface Transport Nurses Association.

After 25 years with Shands-Cair, Howard recently took a new position as a nurse specialist with the UF Physicians Cardiology West outpatient practice.

UF receives $1M grant for master's program

The University of Florida is getting nearly $1 million for a new master's program that will train students to help impoverished populations through sustainable development.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation selected UF and nine other universities worldwide to share $7.6 million in seed money to create master's programs in development practice. The programs instruct in multiple disciplines, preparing students to work in international agencies and non-government organizations.

"You need to train people on multiple fronts to be able to deal with the complexity of these issues," said Leonardo Villalon, director of UF's Center for African Studies.

UF's grant will be supplemented with about $800,000 in university funding over four years. The money will pay for two new faculty positions and a program coordinator.

Crist OKs controversial water management bill

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Charlie Crist again disappointed environmentalists Tuesday by signing a wide-ranging law that takes permit-issuing authority away from the boards of water management districts.

Instead, it gives the executive director in each of Florida's five water management districts the power to issue surface water and consumptive use permits.

Environmentalists had urged Crist to veto the bill, saying the measure would shut the public out of the permitting process.

In a signing letter, Crist wrote that other provisions would enhance water conservation, but he urged the boards to keep putting the permits on their meeting agendas

"We're very disappointed," said Eric Draper of Audubon of Florida. "The Legislature argues the public doesn't care about this, but they do."

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