University System Chancellor Charles Reed makes a point Monday during selection of a site for Florida's 10th state university. The Board of Regents chose a 420-acre site off Interstate 75 in south Lee County. The land, roughly valued at $50-million, is being donated by Alico Inc., which also will give the new university 200 more acres that will be sold to create an endowment for the school.
Possible congressional hopefuls rumored
TALLAHASSEE _ U.S. Rep. Andy Ireland's announcement that he won't seek another term in Congress has brought out plenty of would-be candidates. Among the Republicans who have announced or been rumored so far are state Rep. David Thomas, a Sarasota ophthalmologist; state Rep. Chris Corr, an Apollo Beach developer; and Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Selvey. Among the Democrats: Rand Snell, an aide to Gov. Lawton Chiles who is resigning; and Stephanie Slavin, a Sarasota businessman. Before his retirement, Ireland's district was expected to be based in mostly Republican Manatee and Sarasota counties. Now, with the Republican incumbent out of the picture, expect Democratic legislators to move it northward into more Democratic portions of Hillsborough County. The Legislature this year is redrawing lines for the state's congressional and legislative seats.
50 mourn circus elephant at memorial
MELBOURNE _ Mourners at a memorial for the circus elephant killed in Palm Bay vowed to turn their sorrow into action. The 8,000-pound elephant, owned by the Great American Circus, was shot to death Feb. 1 by police after it broke free from trainers while carrying six passengers. More than 50 people attended the memorial Sunday at the Crane Creek Promenade in Melbourne; many wore black clothing and arm bands, and a few cried during the service.
Celebrated Cuban refugee given job
KEY BISCAYNE _ Weeks after Inova Lara fled Cuba, she can be found splashing with dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium. She was among 34 Cubans who made it to Florida on Jan. 3 in a Cuban state helicopter piloted by her stepfather. Lara had worked in Cuba as a tour guide, scuba diving with tourists. Richard Howard, a Seaquarium executive vice president, saw a story about her in the newspaper and tracked her down.
PSC won't order Southern Bell refunds
TALLAHASSEE _ Utility regulators voted Monday not to order Southern Bell to set aside $100-million for refunds to customers. The Public Service Commission (PSC) thought it was too soon to tinker with an experimental plan regulating the profits of the state's largest telephone company, PSC spokeswoman Bev DeMello said after the unanimous vote. Southern Bell is earning a profit margin of 12.93 percent, according to DeMello. Analysts had estimated about $100-million could be returned to customers if the PSC agreed to clamp down. The state public counsel, who is appointed to represent consumers in cases before the PSC, was joined by consumer groups and state Attorney General Bob Butterworth in asking the regulators to roll back Southern Bell's profit margin because of declining interest rates. Southern Bell said that while the recession has lowered its earnings rate, the company's borrowing costs haven't fallen significantly.