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Pinellas hires sinkhole researchers

If you remember any sinkholes that have occurred in Pinellas in the past 50 years, county officials want to know. To help in planning development, the county has hired the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute at the University of Central Florida to analyze the risk of sinkholes occurring in the county. Researchers analyze how often sinkholes have occurred in an area to figure out the probability that sinkholes will occur there again. "Only with a very thorough record of the sinkholes that have formed in recent times can we have enough information to plot out a valid picture of which areas tend to have sinkholes and which areas don't," said Barry Beck, director of the sinkhole institute. Pinellas is the first county to conduct a sinkhole survey to help plan development, Beck said. In Pinellas, residents may report sinkholes by calling 462-3665 until March 31. After March 31, reports can be made to the sinkhole institute at (407) 281-5644. Morning show broadcast from Tarpon

TARPON SPRINGS - As part of its live broadcast from The Pier in St. Petersburg next week, Good Morning America will show footage from a sponge warehouse, a pastry shop on Athens Street and a restaurant facing the Anclote River. The taped segment will be fleeting and will air between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. "They looked for things to visit that were off the beaten path and would say something about the different kinds of people who live there," said Cathy Rehl, the show's representative. The show, anchored by Joan Lunden and Charles Gibson, will broadcast from the top floor of The Pier. It is one of five broadcasts from Florida throughout the week. For the taped segment, producers also shot footage of the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and Roy Parke's 140-acre strawberry farm in Dover. All three scenes will be featured in a four-minute time slot, Rehl said.

Judge refuses to step down on gun case

INVERNESS - County Judge Gary Graham on Wednesday refused to step down from a case involving a Crystal River couple whose son brought a handgun to school, even though the judge's political opponent represents the couple. Crystal River lawyer Charles Horn, seeking to unseat Graham in the November election, has filed a motion asking Graham to disqualify himself. Ronald and Cary James thought that political situation would make it difficult for Graham to render fair decisions, according to the motion. Graham denied Horn's motion during a brief hearing Wednesday morning. The judge said a party must have a well-founded fear that the court would be prejudiced. Based on a state law enacted in October, prosecutors filed a misdemeanor charge against the Jameses for failing to keep the .22-caliber pistol away from their son. The charge is one of the first applications of the law designed to force adults to keep guns out of children's reach. Graham could not be reached for comment on the decision Wednesday evening. The Jameses' case is scheduled for court Monday.

Tampa woman, 70, missing from home

TAMPA - Police are looking for a 70-year-old woman who suffers from memory lapses and has not been seen since Monday. Digma Torres of 8220 N Florida Ave. was last seen by a nurse who checks in on her daily, Tampa police Detective D.M. Osada said. She was wearing a white-and-black-check dress and black shoes. According to Osada, Mrs. Torres has memory lapses when she does not regularly take her prescribed medicine. Mrs. Torres' son reported her missing Wednesday afternoon when he did not find her at her home at the J.L. Young apartment complex. Mrs. Torres is of Latin descent. She is 5 feet 6, 140-150 pounds, with gray-brown hair and green eyes. She does not own a car.

Weeki Wachee mermaids are in movie

WEEKI WACHEE - Cyndi Lauper can sing, and she's not a bad wrestler.

But when producers of a film starring Lauper and David Keith needed to teach Lauper the art of working underwater, they turned to the experts: the Weeki Wachee mermaids. Two women from the Hernando County tourist attraction finished filming Wednesday on the set of Moon Over Miami, a film starring pop singer Lauper as a woman who works as a mermaid in a Miami lounge. Dan Wilson, public relations manager for Florida Leisure Acquisition Corp., which owns Weeki Wachee Spring, said Wednesday that two of the attraction's mermaids have been in Miami since Feb. 5 filming scenes with Lauper and Keith. "We're real excited about it," Wilson said. "And the two girls are just thrilled." The mermaids are Kim Ramsey and Wendy Slidell. Aaron Russo Entertainment, the company producing the film, began negotiations with Weeki Wachee late last year for consulting help on the project. Wilson said that the film's script calls for Ramsey and Slidell to play mermaids from Weeki Wachee who are in Miami for a special appearance. The two Weeki Wachee women meet Lauper's character. The film is scheduled for release later this year or in early 1991.

- Compiled by DAIL WILLIS from staff reports