A Panama City man was missing in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday after the boat he was on was dragged to the bottom while tied to a second vessel that was scuttled, a Coast Guard official said. Two survivors were rescued Sunday about six hours after the accident, about 12 miles south of Panama City, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Bill Weaver. The search for the missing man, Dean Nelsen, has been suspended, Weaver said. The men, all from Panama City, were aboard a 25-foot boat that was towing a steel-hulled fishing boat about 40 feet in length. The two boats were tied together when the larger one began sinking as planned to serve as an artificial fishing reef. "Before they could cut the tow line it pulled them down too far," Weaver said. The smaller boat turned over and both vessels sank in 115 feet of water about 3 a.m. Sunday, he said.Town has trouble finding leaders
ZOLFO SPRINGS _ Tired of the town's financial woes and political backbiting, the mayor and three council members have decided to let somebody else run things. Problem is, hardly anyone wants the job. Only two people signed up to replace the outgoing council members in the municipal election, so the vote was canceled for lack of interest. Then last week, one of the two remaining council members resigned to run for mayor. So the town had a mayoral candidate, but no election. Now, town officials have decided to let the two people who filed to run for council take their seats Nov. 12 and to hold an election a week later to pick the mayor and remaining two council members. Former Mayor Alton Allen said he didn't want to take on the Hardee County town's problems. "That's like getting into a boxing ring with a 9-foot gorilla," he said. "You just can't win."
U.S. high court rejects killers' appeals
WASHINGTON _ The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals from Florida death row inmates Robert Raymond Clark and Peter Ventura. The justices let stand rulings that each man received a fair trial and a proper sentence. Clark abducted a St. Petersburg businessman from a bank parking lot on April 27, 1977, and forced him to drive to a secluded area. After having the man write out a $5,000 check, Clark shot him twice in the head. Clark has been scheduled for execution four times. Ventura was convicted of carrying out a contract killing in 1981 in Volusia County. Also Monday, the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee issued a stay of execution for Paul William Scott, who had been scheduled to die today for beating a Boca Raton florist to death in 1978.
State to get four new federal judges
MIAMI _ Florida will get four new federal judges to keep pace with growing criminal and civil caseloads, officials said Monday. One federal judge will go to the Southern District based in Miami, two will be added to the Middle District _ which includes Jacksonville, Orlando and the Tampa Bay area _ and one will go to the Northern District based in Tallahassee. The four were among 88 new federal judicial positions authorized in the 1990 Judicial Improvements Act on Sunday.
Death penalty urged in murder plot
PALATKA _ A man convicted of the videotaped murder of one man and the slaying of another should die in Florida's electric chair, the jury that found him guilty recommended Monday. The panel voted 8-4 that Konstantinos Fotopoulos should be executed for the killings of Kevin Ramsey and Bryan Chase, whom Fotopoulos had hired to kill his wife. They could have recommended life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years on each conviction. Circuit Judge James Foxman, who is not bound by the jury's recommendation, will sentence Fotopoulos on Thursday.
Two more encephalitis cases announced
TALLAHASSEE _ State officials Monday announced two more confirmed cases of St. Louis encephalitis, a mosquito-borne viral illness that has caused three deaths since the outbreak began in August. Health officials in 23 counties have reported 65 confirmed cases, according to David Adams, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. The new cases were reported in St. Lucie and Marion counties.
_ Compiled by DAVID CONYERS from wire reports