Around the region for Jan. 11, 2011

Published: Monday, January 10, 2011 at 10:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 at 10:11 p.m.

police beat

Monkey loose near Williston

Florida wildlife officials have several questions and some advice for the public since getting reports of a monkey on the loose near Williston.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said the sightings have been outside town in the area of some Levy County farms. No monkeys are reported missing in the area.

“We're not sure what kind of monkey it is but we do know that we do not want people trying to approach it,” said commission spokeswoman Karen Parker. “Monkeys do have teeth — even the small ones — and we do not want anyone getting bit.”

Parker said anyone who sees the monkey should not approach the animal and should not feed it. People are urged to call the commission on the hotline at 888-404-3922.

— Karen Voyles


Magnet program forum held today

Parents and students can learn about high school career magnet programs at a forum at 6 p.m. today at the Buchholz High School auditorium, 5510 NW 27th Ave.

The Career Academy Forum will feature displays from each career program, including culinary arts, finance and health care. The deadline to apply for these programs for the 2011-2012 school year is Feb. 25.

— Jackie Alexander


Panther found dead on state road

LA BELLE — A Florida panther has been found dead on a state road in Hendry County.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that the 1-year-old male was found dead Friday, apparently from a vehicle strike.

The panther was one of two male kittens found and tagged by biologists in July 2009. His mother was killed by another panther in October. This is the second panther death recorded in 2011, the first involving a vehicle.

The FWC documented 23 panther deaths in 2010, including 16 by vehicles.

— The Associated Press

Report: Florida road deaths down

TALLAHASSEE — A preliminary report shows Florida reached a 32-year low with 2,430 traffic deaths in 2010.

That's 133 fewer than the year before, according to the report released Monday by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

It's the lowest since 1978 although the state's population has doubled since then.

Officials attributed the reduction in part to a new law that went into effect in 2009. It lets police stop motorists for failing to buckle up. Before then they could issue seat belt tickets only if making a stop for another violation.

They also credit educational programs about seat belt use and the dangers of distractions.

— The Associated Press

Immigration panel hears experts talk

TALLAHASSEE — A special panel to study the immigration issue is hearing from a variety of experts on the hotly debated issue and the impact it has on the state of Florida.

The panel was told Monday that as many as 725,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Florida, three times more than in 1990.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said Monday it opposes draft legislation that would require police to check the status of suspected illegal immigrants during a lawful stop.

— The Associated Press

Police: Woman stabbed attacker

TITUSVILLE — A Titusville woman is in the hospital recovering from a stab wound and head injuries after police say she went to a woman's house and attacked her.

Police say the 35-year-old woman arrived at the house Monday, knocked on the door and then attacked the woman who opened the door for her.

Police say the resident defended herself with a knife and wasn't injured. Paramedics arrived on the scene and transported the injured woman, and a man with stab wounds, to a hospital. It wasn't known what the man's connection was to the incident.

Police say both were listed in stable condition. Charges have not been filed.

— The Associated Press

Florida sued over minimum wage

TALLAHASSEE — Two legal groups have sued Florida's labor agency for failing to raise the minimum wage by 6 cents per hour this year to keep up with inflation.

The lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of minimum wage workers claims the Agency for Workforce Innovation violated the Florida Constitution by not raising the state minimum wage to $7.31 on Jan. 1.

Instead, the agency kept Florida under the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

— The Associated Press

AFL-CIO disputes pension ‘myths'

TALLAHASSEE — The AFL-CIO and two outside experts have disputed what they say are “myths” about Florida's public employee retirement funds.

At a news conference Monday they said it's untrue that state and municipal retirement systems are underfunded or that they provide lavish benefits. They also disputed claims that public pensions are too high and eating up state and local budgets and that they hurt local economies.

The pension plans have drawn criticism from Gov. Rick Scott, some lawmakers and a conservative think tank.

Scott has called public sector pensions “a ticking fiscal time bomb” because he doesn't think they can continue their current high rate of return on investment.

—The Associated Press

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