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Justice lauds family court experiment

While state legislators made efforts to ban human cloning in Florida, a state Supreme Court justice thinks a clone of a Pasco family court judge is just what the state needs.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente applauded an east Pasco initiative Thursday as she made her first fact-finding trip to see how the new Unified Family Court program is working in the real world.

"I use Judge (Lynn) Tepper as my poster child judge," Pariente said. "She was doing this before it was the thing to do. I'd like to be able to clone Judge Tepper and bring her around the state."

The program began last summer with pilot efforts in Broward County and the Pasco-Pinellas circuits.

The goal is to find families caught up in an assortment of legal troubles and present the entire caseload to a single judge. A judge familiar with the family can spot and address underlying problems. Pariente said she expects the program to grow statewide.

State parks officials, boaters get into turf fight over sandbar

NEW PORT RICHEY _ Boaters who frequent a popular sandbar near Anclote Key are calling state parks officials spoilsports for pulling the plug on pets, campfires and overnight camping.

They have taken their fight to cyberspace at to gather support and announce updates.

The group got a meeting last week with state parks officials who say they will be open-minded. But the state is only following rules that protect nature as well as nature-lovers, a spokesman said. The sandbar became state park property June 1, and two signs notifying boaters of the regulations were erected in January.

The new restrictions for the Anclote Bar are being put in place as part of a plan to manage the natural resources of all the barrier islands that make up the Gulf Islands GEOpark, which includes Anclote Key, Three Rooker Island, Anclote Bar and several smaller keys and emerging sandbars, said Scott Robinson, the division's park manager of Gulf Islands GEOpark.

"It certainly is possible for humans and birds (to coexist), but we have to take special precautions that the birds have an opportunity to thrive out there," Robinson said.

Boaters have talked with parks officials, but much remains unresolved.

Scientists dive into fish tale: How did sturgeon get here?

ST. PETERSBURG _ To the untrained eye, it is a large and strange-looking fish.

To scientists, the fish that washed up in a Shore Acres neighborhood last week is a gem.

Marine biologists and others are dazzled by the discovery of the largest sturgeon found in the Tampa Bay area since 1897, and one of only a handful found here in the past century.

"It's truly a living relic," said Daniel Roberts, a research scientist at the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg, where a necropsy was performed Monday on the sturgeon. "Most people have never seen any of these fish. They're very rare."

Now researchers are trying to learn how the fish got here. Did it take an incredibly bad turn, or are the prehistoric-looking creatures making a comeback in this region?

The fish, a 40-year-old female, was plump with 10 pounds of ripe, black eggs _ high-quality caviar that would have brought an estimated $6,500.

In the late 1800s, more flesh and caviar from sturgeon was harvested in Tampa Bay than any other fishery port in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, the sturgeon has been threatened with extinction, killed off by overfishing, dams and pollution.

Drunk driver will spend one day a year behind bars

MIAMI _ In an emotional hearing Monday, the man who pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter charges in an accident that killed two young Tampa women agreed to a most unusual punishment: Scott Hanish must spend one day a year _ the anniversary of the crash _ in jail for the next 12 years.

Hanish, 26, first must spend a year in a state prison. The sentence, which begins immediately, includes two years of house arrest and 10 years of probation.

Amy Buchman, 24, was spending the weekend with her friend Nicki Kleban, 23, a second-year law student at the University of Miami. At 3 a.m. on Aug. 30, 1998, returning from a night on South Beach, the young women followed the orders of every parent: When you have been drinking, call a taxi. They were on the Palmetto Expressway when Hanish's Chevy Blazer crashed into their cab.

Test results indicated Hanish, then a 22-year-old Florida International University senior from Scottsdale, Ariz., had a 0.13 percent blood-alcohol level. The law presumes impairment at 0.08.

"We just thought it was appropriate while the families were grieving on the most difficult day of the year for them that he should also be thinking of them," said Miami-Dade County prosecutor Stephen Talpins, who came up with the idea with co-prosecutor George Cholakis.

In short . . .

ZEPHYRHILLS _ The rowdy Livestock music fest got the permit it needs despite Health Department concerns about drug use and bathroom waste. Organizers won over county commissioners by promising to comply with any requests from the county.

About 15,000 people per day are expected for Livestock 2002, which is set for April 27 and 28 at the Zephyrhills Festival Park off U.S. 301. This year's headliners include Kid Rock, Stone Temple Pilots, Rob Zombie, Jerry Cantrell and Sevendust.

+ TAMPA _ Jacksonville lawyer Paul I. Perez was sworn in Monday as the new U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida. He said his administration would be guided by Attorney General John Ashcroft's directive to focus on terrorism, immigration, drugs and to get guns out of the hands of convicted felons.

+ LARGO _ Tampa Area Naturists again pressed their case for turning an obscure part of Fort De Soto Park into a clothing-optional beach, but the tide appears to be against them. The group is set to talk to Pinellas County's park board next month, but most county commissioners say they won't approve such a measure.

Coming up this week

Get your fantasy team lined up, because this week is the last for spring training baseball. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays play their last spring game at home Thursday against the Detroit Tigers. The first home game of the season will be April 2, also against Detroit.

Zephyrhills task force members will meet again Wednesday to discuss whether Krusen Field, the city's historic park, should be sold to Zephyrhills Spring Water Co. The water company, which wants to use the land to build 200,000 square feet of extra warehouse space, has vowed to build the city a new, state-of-the-art park elsewhere in town.

_ Compiled by Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne.

Brandi Winans looks over the large, unusual fish that washed ashore in Shore Acres recently. The rare sturgeon excited marine scientists, who say it is the largest one found in the bay area in a century. Scientists do not know why the fish died, but after studying tissue samples hope to determine whether it is from the Suwannee River, where a healthy population of sturgeon exists.