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SMOKE-FREE DAYTONA GRANDSTANDS

DAYTONA Beach

The grandstands at Daytona International Speedway will soon be smoke-free. NASCAR driver Jeffrey Earnhardt held a news conference Tuesday along with a group of Florida teens and local officials. Earnhardt, grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt, said that families see drivers and venues like Daytona as legendary and this decision sends a healthy message to race fans. He is a spokesman for Tobacco Free Florida. The grandstands will officially be smoke-free starting with the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on July 6. Members of the group Students Working against Tobacco encouraged other outdoor Florida venues to also adopt tobacco-free and smoke-free policies.

CAPE CANAVERAL

Satellite is top-secret except public launch

The Air Force has launched a rocket from Cape Canaveral carrying a top-secret satellite for the United States. The unmanned Atlas V rocket rose from its seaside Florida pad on Wednesday morning. On board was a satellite belonging to the National Reconnaissance Office. The office declined for security reasons to provide any details of the satellite, its mission or even whether it reached orbit. A launch attempt Monday was foiled by a problem with the environmental control system at the pad. The rocket had to be removed temporarily from the pad, in order to fix the problem.

NAPLES, Fla.

Florida panther found dead along rural road

A young Florida panther has been found dead in southwest Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that the body of a female panther, around 7 months old, was found near a rural road Tuesday. Officials think the animal was hit by a vehicle. The News-Press in Fort Myers reports that this is the 14th panther death and sixth road death for 2012.

Times wires

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