After a yearlong delay and an estimated $2.3-million in cost overruns, workers finally succeeded in pulling a 42-inch wastewater pipe beneath Seddon Channel on Thursday night. The pipe, which runs 1,300 feet between Davis Islands and Hooker's Point, is a critical link in the city's $28-million plan to bring reclaimed water to South Tampa lawns.
Contractors began the work in September 2002, expecting to take six weeks, but ran into a series of problems, including the cracking of a massive sewage pipe. Davis Islands residents complained about constant noise and said vibrations damaged their homes. In July, the City Council voted to buy one couple's house for $340,000.
City officials expect the construction site to be mostly restored by Christmas. After that, they say, they will review damage claims.
In the meantime, they will be exploring legal options against Piute Contractors Inc. of Colorado.
District report faults
TAMPA _ A Hillsborough school district investigation has shown that a maintenance worker who was electrocuted at Shaw Elementary School did not follow safety procedures.
Patrick Alfonso, 29, died Sept. 2 as he tried to repair a fluorescent light at the elementary school. A transformer that supplied electricity to the bulb had malfunctioned, and Alfonso was switching transformers when he was electrocuted, district officials said.
Alfonso worked for the district for seven years as a "multitrades" employee. He was assigned to do maintenance on several schools, including Shaw Elementary.
The Oct. 5 school district report on the investigation, which was conducted by school employees, found that Alfonso did not turn off the power before trying to replace the light. He was not wearing insulated gloves or protective clothing at the time.
"The primary cause of this accident was the victim's failure to comply with . . . procedures," the report said.
Alfonso's family has reportedly consulted a lawyer.
USF professor chosen
as Schiavo's guardian
CLEARWATER _ The chief judge of the Pinellas-Pasco circuit appointed a University of South Florida professor Friday to investigate Terri Schiavo's case and recommend to the governor whether his order reinserting her feeding tube should stand.
Judge David Demers appointed Dr. Jay Wolfson as Mrs. Schiavo's guardian ad litem and ordered a report to Gov. Jeb Bush within 30 days.
The appointment of a guardian ad litem, which does not displace Michael Schiavo as his wife's guardian, was mandated by"Terri's Law." The measure passed by lawmakers on Oct. 21 gave Bush the authority to order doctors to reinsert Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube.
Mrs. Schiavo's parents object to Wolfson's appointment because they say he expressed opposition to "Terri's Law" in a recent TV interview. But Demers said he read a transcript of the interview and did not agree that Wolfson expressed opposition to the bill.
Demers said Wolfson is to review the court file, interview anyone he desires and decide if Mrs. Schiavo would benefit from therapy allowing her to swallow food and water.
Mrs. Schiavo's parents say their daughter might live without a feeding tube if she is given such therapy. Michael Schiavo said doctors have already said the therapy won't work with her.
The brain-damaged woman has been on the feeding tube for 13 years. Many doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. Her parents disagree with the diagnosis.
Teen accused of molesting
classmate at school
TAMPA _ A 14-year-old student was charged Friday with sexual battery against a female classmate at Tampa Bay Technical High School.
Anthony Ja'Vell McFarland of 6800 N Lyman St. allegedly exposed himself to the 14-year-old victim and rubbed on her. Deputies say he then sexually battered the girl in a stairwell area of the school. McFarland is being held at the Juvenile Assessment Center on charges of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation.