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OcalaECONOMY'S TOUGH ON THOROUGHBREDS

The number of thoroughbred horses born each year in Florida has declined by about 25 percent as a result of the weak economy. The Jockey Club, the registry for all thoroughbred horses in the United States, also reports a 13.5 percent decline nationwide. Cathy Thomas of Ups & Downs Farm in Citra told the Ocala Star-Banner it takes a lot of money to get the horses ready for sale or racing. With prices dropping, many smaller companies have exited the business. The Jockey Club projects that in 2012 breeders will produce the smallest crop of thoroughbred race horses in North America since 1971. Florida has traditionally been one of the largest producers of thoroughbred horses.

Wellington

Wildlife sanctuary fined for lost thumb

A wildlife sanctuary must pay a penalty of $2,786 for an incident last year in which a jaguar bit off part of a visitor's thumb. The Panther Ridge Conservation Center Inc. reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the 2010 case in which a volunteer leading a tour allowed a woman to pet the jaguar through its cage, and the cat bit her thumb.

ORLANDO

Scott pats himself on the back on jobs

Gov. Rick Scott told the Florida Chamber of Commerce Monday that his agenda of trimming government costs and regulations is working. While the state lost 15,600 public-sector jobs between January and August, Scott says Florida gained about 87,200 private-sector jobs. He said Florida is running on a budget surplus, which he attributes to tough decisionmaking during his first five months in office.

TALLAHASSEE

Stearns wasn't always critical of green funds

Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, a critic of the federal green energy loan program that helped a now bankrupt solar panel manufacturer, supported at least two Florida projects that received federal money. Stearns is the chairman of a House subcommittee that's investigating $528 million in federal loans Solyndra received before the California company filed for bankruptcy. He's criticizing the Department of Energy for rushing to hand out money that was part of the $862 billion federal stimulus passed in 2009. But Stearns welcomed the announcement that Saft was using a $95.5 million federal grant to build a high-technology battery factory in his district. He also wrote to the Department of Energy to support a loan for a Vero Beach bioenergy plant. INEOS New Planet BioEnergy later received $50 million.

MIAMI

Woman gets 35 years in Medicare fraud

A Miami woman was sentenced Monday to 35 years in prison for her role in a $205 million Medicare fraud scam involving mental health centers. Authorities said Marianella Valera manipulated records so patients would have to stay longer at the facility, racking up higher Medicare bills. She was sentenced Monday. Valera and Lawrence Duran owned American Therapeutic Corp., the nation's largest community mental health center chain. Duran was sentenced to 50 years in prison Friday.

Elsewhere

eGLIN aIR fORCE bASE: The 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg is completing its move to Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle. The Fayetteville Observer reported Monday about 1,500 soldiers have moved. The change was ordered under the Base Realignment and Closure law of 2005.

Jacksonville: Two more cases of West Nile virus in Jacksonville have been confirmed, bringing the total to 14 for the year, two fatal. The new cases involve 46- and 72-year-old men, said the Duval County Health Department.

PORT ST. LUCIE: City police say a 78-year-old man fatally shot his 21-year-old wife before setting their house on fire and killing himself Saturday. No names or motive were released.

Times wires

OcalaECONOMY'S TOUGH ON THOROUGHBREDS 09/20/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:00am]
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