Around the Region - Jan.16

Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.


United Way spearheads tax-filing help effort

The United Way of North Central Florida has teamed up with the East Gainesville Development Corporation and the UF Levin College of Law to open more than a dozen free tax preparation sites to help eligible residents with their tax returns.

If your family earned less than $49,000 in 2009, you could qualify for up to $4,800 back from the IRS.

Made possible through a VITA grant issued by the IRS, the Free Income Tax Assistance program will provide services to all eligible residents from now until April 15.

Call 2-1-1 to make your appointment for free tax preparation by a volunteer tax preparer.

For more information, call 333-0854 or go online to

Staff report


Biden will visit S. Florida, discuss Haiti earthquake

MIAMI - Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit South Florida to discuss the situation in Haiti and the aftermath of its major earthquake.

According to his office, Biden, his wife Jill and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will meet with Haitian-Americans Saturday morning in Miami.

Later, Biden and Napolitano are scheduled to speak at a local air base where relief supplies are being flown out to the country. South Florida is the home to the largest Haitian-American population in the United States.

The Associated Press

Crist seeks disaster status over citrus freeze

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Charlie Crist has asked that the federal government to declare all of Florida an agriculture disaster area due to 13 straight days of freezing weather.

Crist made the request Friday in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Such a declaration would make growers eligible for low-interest loans. It's also a first step toward possible financial aid from Congress.

Crist wrote "No sector of agriculture appears to have been spared."

That includes citrus and other fruit such as strawberries, mangos and blueberries; corn, tomatoes and other vegetables; sugarcane, oats, nursery crops and tropical fish.

The Associated Press

High court judges want Twitter ban for jurors

TALLAHASSEE - Two Florida Supreme Court committees have urged justices to ban jurors from tweeting, texting, e-mailing and using the Internet to communicate about or do research on their cases.

The committees on criminal and civil jury instructions filed a joint recommendation Friday.

Jurors and prospective jurors now are told they cannot discuss court matters with anyone, but lawyers and judges on the two panels say that's not enough in the electronic age. They've proposed instructions specifically prohibiting various forms of communication. They also say the warnings should be given more often, starting when prospective jurors first arrive at the courthouse.

Michigan, California and Connecticut have similar instructions.

The Associated Press

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