Around the Region - Jan. 8

Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 1:10 a.m.


Authorities identify woman killed in crash

The woman killed in a Wednesday morning traffic accident in northwest Gainesville has been identified as Billie Jo Eaton, Gainesville Police said Thursday.

Eaton, 75, of 8620 N.W. 13th St., died when she pulled out of the Turkey Creek Forest subdivision on U.S. 441 and drove north in the southbound lanes. She hit a car driven by Wayne Bryant, 54, who received minor injuries. The accident happened about 8:45 a.m.

— Cindy Swirko


Gumby's reopens after roach problem resolved

Gumby's Pizza was shut down temporarily Tuesday after a state inspection found live and dead roaches, but the restaurant was allowed to reopen Wednesday afternoon after correcting all violations.

A routine state inspection of the restaurant at 2028 S.W. 34th St. found nine critical and eight noncritical violations. A state spokeswoman said roach activity is considered an immediate health risk to the public and grounds for closure.

Other critical violations included a repeat violation for a buildup of slime in the ice machine and a soiled microwave interior.

Shift leader Matt Blankenship said the restaurant reopened around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday after a health inspector "passed us."

The state temporarily closed 30 restaurants statewide in December, including nine for roach activity.

— Anthony Clark

Museum researcher lands $865,000 grant

A Florida Museum of Natural History researcher has received a $865,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the museum announced Thursday.

Nico Cellinese, assistant curator of the herbarium and informatics, will study genetic diversity in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. The five-year CAREER grant begins March 1.

Cellinese's work will mainly be done on islands in the Aegean Sea. She will study species in the bellflower family to better understand their evolutionary origins, according to the museum.

She is using part of the funding to hire a graduate student and a post-doctoral researcher. She is also developing two online courses in Mediterranean biogeography, one for college students and the other for K-12 students.

— Nathan Crabbe

Controlled burn likely to bring smoke today

Large plumes of smoke should be expected around the Osceola National Forest throughout the day today. A controlled burn has been scheduled to clear a large swath of the forest in Columbia and Baker counties.

The U.S. Forest Service, with assistance from the Florida Division of Forestry, plans to burn 3,400 acres to clear underbrush that could serve as fuel during a forest or wildfire.

Federal and state officials said the burn will be ignited by small capsules dropped from aircraft. Aerial ignition is being used because much of the area being burned is inaccessible to ground equipment.

— Karen Voyles

Clinic on hearing loss kicks off on Monday

The University of Florida Speech and Hearing Clinic will offer "Living with Hearing Loss," a series of free classes for people with hearing impairment, beginning Monday.

Hearing loss affects more than 36 million Americans and is the third most common health condition in the United States.

The education series includes four free classes: "Coping with Hearing Loss," "A Thousand Ways to Say ‘Huh,' " "Handling Difficult Listening Situations," and "What Other Help is There?"

The series begins on Monday and will be repeated in February and March. Classes are held on Mondays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the UF Speech and Hearing Clinic, 1405 N.W. 13th St., Suites B & C, in Gainesville.

Participants are encouraged to bring family and friends to the classes, but space is limited. Call 273-0542 for details or to register.

— Diane Chun

Area panel accepting nominations for awards

The Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women is accepting nominations for this year's Elizabeth Cady Stanton Award and Ida B. Wells Award.

Nominations must be returned by Feb. 10 and should be sent to: Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women Inc., P.O. Box 13245, Gainesville, FL 32604.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was instrumental in calling the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, N.Y., and became a leader in the women's movement.

Ida B. Wells was a crusading journalist and lectured around the world about the lynching of African-Americans. She also worked for suffrage and helped to found the first black suffrage organization.

For more information and to obtain a nomination form, call 378-4853.

— Staff report

3 UF faculty members named Fulbright Scholars

Three University of Florida faculty members have been named Fulbright Scholars.

They are among 1,250 academics who received Fulbright grants to teach and conduct research abroad.

Ido Oren, associate professor of political science, will lecture at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. Sheryl Tracy Kroen, associate professor of history, will lecture at the University of Western Piedmont in Italy. Paul Oldfield Robinson, assistant professor of architecture, will lecture and conduct research at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and northern Italy.

Another 850 foreign scholars have received awards to study at U.S. campuses, including six at UF. They hail from Argentina, Croatia, India, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank.

— Nathan Crabbe


Video shows officers speeding by injured nurse

JACKSONVILLE — A surveillance video shows two Jacksonville sheriff's cruisers were using neither flashing lights nor sirens as they sped by a seriously injured pedestrian who had been hit by a car during a chase last June.

Both narrowly missed the unconscious woman and continued to pursue the traffic violator who had struck the victim, a nurse who was walking across a narrow roadway between Shands Hospital and a parking garage.

Sean Cronin, a lawyer representing the nurse, Karen Elaine Hamel, released the video Thursday. He said she wouldn't have stepped off the curb if she'd heard a siren or spotted flashing lights.

Cronin said another point is the driver who hit Hamel, Dvon Biggs, was being pursued because he ran a stop sign.

"It's not because he had robbed a bank or done something that was harm to others," he said.

Biggs told police he initially fled because he had an invalid driver's license and didn't see Hamel due to looking in his rear view mirror at the officers chasing him.

— The Associated Press

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