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Big as a horse, and still in diapers

Horses that pull carriages through the nation's oldest city will soon leave less evidence of their passing. They will be required to wear diapers. "It's just something whose time has come," City Manager Joe Pomar said after the City Commission voted Tuesday to require the diapers. Carriage owners have 90 days to comply with the new regulation. In the tourist season, as many as 50 horses pull carriages around the city, Pomar said. Gary Colee of the St. Augustine Tasnsportation Co. said he couldn't predict how the horses would take to the diapers. "Some might work fine with it, some might not. It's something new to them," he said.

From rags to riches to rags

JACKSONVILLE _ It was a burglar's dream: $237,000 in cash stuffed in suitcases. Then the IRS got involved. John Franklin told police he found the case during an August burglary of a mini-warehouse storage locker, authorities said. The unemployed man said he used the loot to buy an $84,000 house, two vehicles, furniture, appliances and designer clothing, detectives said. He got married and spread some of his wealth among friends. The IRS began tracking Franklin after it received a cash-transaction report on his home purchase. Franklin had no bank account or known source of income. IRS agents notified police, and Franklin was arrested Monday on burglary charges. No one has reported the $237,000 stolen, and police think it was stored in the locker by drug dealers.

Chiles signs death warrant

TALLAHASSEE _ Gov. Lawton Chiles on Wednesday signed a second death warrant for Allen Lee "Tiny" Davis, convicted for the May 1982 slayings of a Duval County woman and her two young daughters. Davis, 47, was scheduled to die in Florida's electric chair at 7 a.m. on March 11. Davis' first execution was set in 1986, but a federal appeals court issued a stay. Court documents show that Davis used a pistol to fatally beat 36-year-old Nancy Weiler, inflicting 25 blows to her head and neck. Her daughter Kristina, 9, was bound and shot twice, and the second daughter, 5-year-old Katherine, was shot and then severely beaten. Testimony showed that Davis intended to rob the home.

Birds treated after fuel spill

BIG TALBOT ISLAND _ Cindy Mosling's bird sanctuary resembled a M+A+S+H unit for birds Wednesday as she and a small army of workers struggled to treat nearly 500 birds injured in a mysterious fuel spill. Most of the soiled birds treated at the Bird Emergency Aid & Kare Sanctuary (BEAKS) are pelicans, and about 30 have died. Diesel fuel appeared last week in an area of the St. Johns River near the Mayport ferry landing in Jacksonville. The source has not been determined. The bird sanctuary is drying off the birds, feeding them Gatorade, Pepto-Bismol and fish, and treating their eyes with ointment. Just three weeks ago, BEAKS released birds caught in a mystery spill Dec. 9, also in the Mayport area. Some of those birds have showed up in the latest spill.

Arsonist hits Duval GOP

JACKSONVILLE _ An arson before dawn Wednesday destroyed the campaign offices of President Bush and Pat Buchanan and the headquarters of the Duval County Republican Party. Someone broke into the building through a front window and poured flammable liquid in several places, authorities said. No one was arrested.

Train silence has a price

WASHINGTON _ A proposal by federal railroad officials would again silence Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) train whistles at night. The Federal Railroad Administration will let local governments enforce their bans on train whistles after dark _ under one condition. The crossings must be made safer, primarily through the installation of gates and barriers. That would cost $40,000 to $128,000 per crossing, according to estimates. Local governments say they can't afford the compromise. Some plan to challenge the requirement. More than 35 city and county governments along 340 miles of FEC track from Jacksonville to Miami have banned whistle blowing at night since state law allowed them to in 1984. In July, federal officials overrode the local laws, citing increased accidents.