St. Petersburg Times
A Look Back to the News in 2005


 

For a number of years this was the official website for the St. Petersburg Times. In 2011 the St. Petersburg Times was renamed the Tampa Bay Times. It is an American newspaper published in St. Petersburg, Florida.

According to Wikipedia: The newspaper traces its origins to the West Hillsborough Times, a weekly newspaper established in Dunedin, Florida on the Pinellas peninsula in 1884. At the time, neither St. Petersburg nor Pinellas County existed; the peninsula was part of Hillsborough County. The paper was published weekly in the back of a pharmacy and had a circulation of 480. It subsequently changed ownership six times in seventeen years. In December 1884 it was bought by A. C. Turner, who moved it to Clear Water Harbor (modern Clearwater, Florida). In 1892 it moved to St. Petersburg, and by 1898 it was officially renamed the St. Petersburg Times.

Content is from the site's 2005 archived pages.
The website for the Tampa Bay Times is found at: www.tampabay.com/

 

A Look Back to the News in 2005

~~~~~

 

Extreme Makeover in Seminole

James Dolan worked at a Radio Shack in St. Petersburg, FL in 2004, when a gunman entered the store, killing two customers and shooting Dolan in the head. Dolan survived, but lost his eyesight.

ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" rebuilt his family's home, adding a voice activated system that helps him perform routine tasks around the house. The walls of each room in the house have a distinct texture to help him navigate. Original airdate - May 1, 2005.

To rebuild a shooting victim's home by Sunday, a TV army has invaded.

SEMINOLE - As crews for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and partner Lexington Homes continued work at the 99th Way N home of James Dolan on Thursday, preparations were being made for the grand unveiling Sunday.

Fans lined the street near the construction site Thursday afternoon, and cast members of the popular show were seen signing autographs during breaks. The weather was drastically improved from Wednesday's raw chill, and workers were busy installing windows and applying stucco to outside walls.

Extreme Makeover is providing a new home for Dolan and his family. The 30-year-old father of three was blinded in the Nov. 18 shootings at a St. Petersburg RadioShack. The shootings left three others dead, including the gunman, who killed himself.

Some special touches on the Dolans' sprawling new home, including solar panels for water heating, were installed Thursday. And Kathy Danielson, owner of St. Petersburg's Vineyard Designs, said she was preparing a variety of silk floral arrangements to accent the house for the Dolans' return. The Dolans have been sent on a Puerto Rican vacation while the home is being built this week.

John Riddle, a spokesman for the project, said Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will provide free rides between the northwest corner of the Tyrone Square Mall parking lot in St. Petersburg and the Extreme Makeover site beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday for people who want to catch the dramatic "move that bus" climax the show is known for.

Parking in the neighborhood is scarce. The exact time of the unveiling remained a mystery Thursday, but it was expected to be between noon and 4 p.m.

The episode featuring the Dolans is expected to air in about five to eight weeks on WFTS-Ch. 28.

 

~~~~~

 

Weather improves for 'Extreme Makeover' work

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
Published March 11, 2005

  

SEMINOLE - As crews for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and partner Lexington Homes continued work at the 99th Way N home of James Dolan on Thursday, preparations were being made for the grand unveiling Sunday.

Fans lined the street near the construction site Thursday afternoon, and cast members of the popular show were seen signing autographs during breaks. The weather was drastically improved from Wednesday's raw chill, and workers were busy installing windows and applying stucco to outside walls.

Extreme Makeover is providing a new home for Dolan and his family. The 30-year-old father of three was blinded in the Nov. 18 shootings at a St. Petersburg RadioShack. The shootings left three others dead, including the gunman, who killed himself.

Some special touches on the Dolans' sprawling new home, including solar panels for water heating, were installed Thursday. And Kathy Danielson, owner of St. Petersburg's Vineyard Designs, said she was preparing a variety of silk floral arrangements to accent the house for the Dolans' return. The Dolans have been sent on a Puerto Rican vacation while the home is being built this week.

John Riddle, a spokesman for the project, said Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will provide free rides between the northwest corner of the Tyrone Square Mall parking lot in St. Petersburg and the Extreme Makeover site beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday for people who want to catch the dramatic "move that bus" climax the show is known for.

Parking in the neighborhood is scarce. The exact time of the unveiling remained a mystery Thursday, but it was expected to be between noon and 4 p.m.

The episode featuring the Dolans is expected to air in about five to eight weeks on WFTS-Ch. 28.

 

~~~~~

 

St. Pete-Clearwater Airport loses another carrier

Jetsgo's demise means that after ATA's April pullout, the airport will have lost 80 percent of its commercial service.

By JEAN HELLER, Times Staff Writer
Published March 11, 2005

St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport was hit again today by an airline bankruptcy when the Canadian carrier, Jetsgo, abruptly ceased operations, leaving 101 Toronto-bound passengers on the daily flight stranded. Forty-eight of them were able to purchase one-way tickets on a Skyservice flight that left at mid-morning. The rest were seeking seats on flights leaving from Tampa International Airport or on other carriers over the weekend.

This is the third blow to the mid-Pinellas airport in a litany that began late on the night of Nov. 30 when the Largo-based Southeast Airlines, a public charter, abruptly locked its door. Earlier this year, ATA, an Indianapolis-based carrier, announced it would sharply curtail its operations and would end all service to St. Petersburg on April 10.

SEAL carried 22 percent of St. Pete-Clearwater's passengers, ATA 50 percent. Jetsgo accounted for 6 percent. Its demise means that after ATA's April pullout, the airport will have lost 80 percent of its commercial service.

Offsetting that slightly is the planned startup of service by Lehigh Valley Airlines on March 24, providing five to six flights a week to Allentown, Pa.

~~~~~

Accuser's bro. says he saw Jackson abuse

March 08, 2005 By TIM MOLLOY | Associated Press Writer

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) -- The 14-year old brother of Michael Jackson's accuser described the molestation allegations against the singer for the first time, saying he saw Jackson touching his brother as the boy slept on the singer's bed.

He said that he twice saw Jackson masturbating with one hand while the other was in his brother's underwear. He did not state the dates of the incidents, which the prosecution says followed a February 2003 TV documentary in which Jackson appeared with the boy at his Neverland ranch.

"I didn't know what to do," the witness said, adding that he watched both incidents for a few seconds before going to a guest room. Speaking calmly, directly and unemotionally, the boy said the alleged molestations occurred two days apart.

The defense says the allegations are a fiction created by the children's mother in an attempt to extort money from the pop star. The accuser's brother faced more questioning Tuesday.

The boy said the molestations occurred sometime after Jackson had shown him and his brother sexually explicit magazines kept in a suitcase in his bedroom. "We all looked at them one at a time," he said.

The defense has said Jackson had "girlie" magazines in his house but never showed them to children.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon projected on a courtroom screen the covers of magazines, including one called Barely Legal that depicted a young woman with her breasts exposed.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to rebut a damaging documentary in which Jackson said he allowed children to sleep in his bedroom.

The accuser's brother also described an incident in which Jackson grabbed a mannequin that he kept in his bedroom and "he pretended like he was having intercourse with it" on a bed while fully clothed and laughing.

Jurors were shown a photo of a mannequin depicting a girl with braids.

The brother said Jackson had once asked him if he ever masturbated. The boy said he answered no. "Then he said to me, 'Everyone does it. You should try it. It's OK,'" the witness said of Jackson.

He also told of Jackson conducting drinking parties with his young boy guests in which he served them wine and called it "Jesus juice."

The witness said that on the night he discovered Jackson with his brother, he pushed open the door to Jackson's room and, "I saw directly onto the bed. I saw my brother was outside the covers. I saw Michael's left hand in my brother's underwears and I saw his right hand in his underwears," he said.

He described his brother as curled up and snoring slightly, and he said he saw Jackson masturbating. "He had his eyes closed," the witness said.

Two days later, he said, he encountered a similar scene.

"I went upstairs. The same thing was happening but my brother was on his back. ... My brother was asleep. Michael was masturbating while he had his left hand in my brother's underwears."

The witness said he didn't tell his mother, sister or brother what he had seen.

"Who was the first person you told what you saw?" Sneddon asked.

"Dr. Katz," he said of psychologist Stan Katz, who interviewed the family and then reported to authorities that the boy might have been molested.

The family went to Katz after contacting attorney Larry Feldman, who had sued Jackson over 1993 molestation allegations. No charges were filed after Jackson settled the case for millions of dollars.

The courtroom was still during the testimony. Sometimes the boy spoke softly and had to be told to speak up, but he did not hesitate to answer questions.

Jackson's mother, Katherine, and father, Joe, were present but showed no reaction. Jackson occasionally leaned over, put his hand on his lawyer's shoulder and whispered in his ear.

Jurors listened intently and a few took notes.

"I'm sorry, I'm under a gag order," Jackson said as he left court and a reporter asked how he felt hearing the testimony. The witness also testified that Jackson showed him and his brother Internet sex sites, slept in bed with them and appeared before them naked and sexually aroused at Neverland.

"Me and my brother were watching a movie and Michael walked up naked," the witness testified. "Me and my brother were grossed out. He sat on the bed and said it was natural," then left the room.

Sneddon asked if anything was notable about Jackson's appearance, and the boy, using a slang term, said Jackson was aroused.

When Sneddon asked him about his choice of words, the boy said, "That's what Dr. Katz called it."

The brother also described Jackson as making crude sexual jokes in their presence.

The rosy-cheeked boy appeared to grow fatigued by the end of the day, yawning widely and rubbing his eyes with his hands.

~~~~~

Schiavo's case lands in Congress

By Anita Kumar
Republicans in Congress are working on bills to prevent the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

The Terri Schiavo Case

By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
Published March 11, 2005

WASHINGTON - With avenues to keep Terri Schiavo alive closing in Florida, they were opening in the nation's capital Thursday. The tide turned decidedly in favor of the parents who want to prolong their brain-damaged daughter's life.

Just eight days before the court-ordered deadline to remove Schiavo's feeding tube, Republicans on Capitol Hill rallied around the case that has become the cause celebre of conservative and religious groups.

Congressional leaders fast-tracked a bill that could lead to a federal court review of the case - and perhaps another trial in Pinellas County.

Almost a dozen conservative and Christian groups marshaled forces and urged Americans to lobby Congress to prolong Schiavo's life.

RightMarch.com, which formed to provide a political voice for the right, announced plans to run ads in national newspapers and on radio starting Monday.

Rep. Joseph Pitts, a Pennsylvania Republican who spoke about Schiavo on the House floor Thursday, said his colleagues were working on other Schiavo bills and the House leadership is "working night and day to save her life."

"Death by dehydration is a painful, agonizing and arduous process that takes 10 to 14 days," Pitts said. "Compared to starvation and dehydration, death by hanging, firing squad or even electric chair seem humane."

The gathering momentum in favor of federal intervention was palpable, and came through loud and clear in the different takes by the attorneys on each side of the dispute.

George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo, sounded resigned that politics in the nation's capital could delay the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube the way it did in 2003, when Florida's governor and Legislature stepped in.

"It's certainly disheartening to see them falling all over each other to pander to these groups," Felos said. "It's a massive campaign of smear and misinformation. It's a repeat of Terri's Law."

The attorney for Schiavo's parents had the opposite view.

"We're very encouraged at what is happening in Congress," said David Gibbs III, attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler. "The family is profoundly grateful."

* * *

The bill would require incapacitated people without living wills to be appointed attorneys before artificial life support is terminated.

Were it to become law, Schiavo's parents could ask a federal judge to order a new trial for Terri Schiavo in state court, because she had no such attorney when the case was tried in 2000.

Sponsored by Florida Sen. Mel Martinez and Rep. Dave Weldon, both Republicans, the bill was introduced on Tuesday. By Thursday, it had 103 sponsors in the House and seven sponsors in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon, is trying to get it to the Senate floor next week without being heard in committee first. Tom DeLay, House majority leader, is working to get the bill in front of the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether Democrats would try to stop the bill. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he prefers for it to be heard in a committee first.

Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, said he hopes for Democratic support and has heard no direct opposition. He said recent Democratic attempts to reach religious voters, who overwhelmingly voted Republican in the last election, could translate into Democratic cooperation.

"The Democrats are trying to find their own voice with the faith community," Brownback said. "Here would be an easy one for them to say, sure."

The bill would apply only to those who meet four requirements:

They must be legally incapacitated; there must be a state court ruling to withhold sustenance; there must be no written directive; and there must be a legal dispute, as in Schiavo's case.

It would allow a "party of standing" to ask a federal court to review the case to ensure that the person's rights of due process weren't violated. The procedure is similar to that in death penalty cases, which take years, sometimes a decade, to wind through the courts.

If a court agreed that a person's rights were violated, it could order the case back to state court for a new trial.

Felos said such a law eventually would be overturned as unconstitutional - as was "Terri's Law" in Florida - because it cannot retroactively affect a case a judge ruled on five years ago, and because a federal right to refuse unwanted medical treatment already exists.

A federal court could decide Schiavo's rights were violated because she did not have her own attorney at the original trial, who would call witnesses and present evidence solely on her behalf.

Though Schiavo has had at least one guardian ad litem, who is supposed to act in her best interests, a lawyer would be different because he would be able to present his own case.

* * *

A sign directing reporters to Thursday's press conference misspelled her name as "Terry" Schiavo. Representatives from almost a dozen conservative and Christian groups attended, as did some of the 17 disability organizations supporting the Schindlers, including the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.

They talked about her "death sentence" and "execution." They said it was illegal to starve animals to death. They said she was treated worse than death row inmates.

"Even the Nazis were hesitant to use starvation and dehydration as a means of inflicting death," said Paul Schenck of the National Pro-Life Action Center. "They reserved it for only their most cruel acts."

Groups at the press conference included National Right to Life Committee, Family Research Council and Religious Freedom Coalition. On their Web sites, the groups encourage people to write and call their member of Congress, as they did Florida lawmakers in 2003.

RightMarch.com said 30,000 to 35,000 have written to their members of Congress through their Web site, and through pleas to their members.

"The system must not be allowed to be twisted so those who are unable to speak for themselves are brushed aside by our courts," said William Greene, the group's president. "The right to legal counsel and due process must apply to every American."

They accused Michael Schiavo of living with another woman and squandering hundreds of thousands of dollars from a medical malpractice suit. They called the judge biased and said he failed to follow the law. They said the media mischaracterized their motives.

"Anyone whose motives are as highly questionable as Michael Schiavo's should not be granted the legal right to determine if someone else's life is worth preserving," said Lanier Swann of the Concerned Women for America.

Schiavo, now 41, suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when she had a heart attack and collapsed in her St. Petersburg home. Her husband has been fighting for seven years to remove her feeding tube. Her parents are fighting to keep her fed at the Pinellas Park hospice facility where she lives.

A Pinellas judge ruled Schiavo's feeding tube could be removed after hearing testimony at a trial that she would not have wanted to live that way. Twice she stopped receiving food and water; both times the decision was reversed.

Schiavo is in what some doctors say is a persistent vegetative state, and doctors have said she cannot understand what is going on around her. The Schindlers dispute that, saying she laughs and cries, and could recover with therapy.

At the press conference, reporters were given a three-page statement of Barbara Weller, one of the Schindlers' attorneys in Florida, of her account of seeing Schiavo in December 2004. Weller writes that Schiavo looked at people, smiled and used words like "uh uh."

"When her mother was close to her, Terri's whole face lit up. She smiled. She looked directly at her mother and made all sorts of happy sounds," she wrote. "When her mother talked to her, Terri was quiet and obviously listening."

A reporter asked if it was true that Schiavo could speak 10 years ago before her husband ceased her therapy. That allegation has never been made, not even at the first trial.

Ken Connor, who represented Jeb Bush in trying to pass Terri's Law, answered the question this way: "There's no question that over the course of time Terri has become more unresponsive while in her husband's care," he said.

"She has been subjected to profound isolation, including light depravation, over the last number of years."

If Schiavo's feeding tube is removed, she is expected to die within two weeks.

~~~~~

$1-million offered to end husband's role

An attorney for Michael Schiavo says he will not take a businessman's money to surrender guardianship to his wife's parents.

By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
Published March 11, 2005


A wealthy California businessman offered Terri Schiavo's husband $1-million Thursday if he walks away as his wife's guardian and lets the woman's parents take over.

Saying he wants to keep Schiavo alive, Robert Herring Sr. deposited the cash into his attorney's bank and awaits word from Schiavo's husband.

"It seemed like everybody was wasting a lot of money and wasting a lot of time" in the courts, Herring said in an interview. "So I came up with the idea to shortcut everything and make an offer."

An attorney for Michael Schiavo said the offer won't be accepted. Attorney George Felos said Schiavo turned down a similar $10-million offer about two weeks ago made via an attorney for an anonymous Floridian.

Previously, Schiavo also received an offer of $700,000, and that was turned down, Felos said. The lawyer said Schiavo once promised to his wife before her collapse 15 years ago not to let her live by artificial means.

"There is no amount of money anyone can offer him to induce him to betray his promise to Terri," Felos said. "He's simply not going to betray her for money."

Even if he changed his mind, Michael Schiavo would be powerless to stop the removal of his wife's feeding tube on March 18, Felos said. A court has ruled Terri Schiavo would not want to live by artificial means, and her husband can't reverse the court order, Felos said.

Herring's offer was contingent on the court approving Terri Schiavo' parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, as the new guardian for their daughter.

Herring, 63, is described by California media as one of the wealthiest individuals in the San Diego area. A technology mogul who made riches manufacturing circuit boards, Herring also is the founder of Wealth TV, which shows how the wealthy acquire and enjoy their riches.

Herring said in a written statement announcing the offer that he believed new medical advances, including stem cell research, might help Schiavo.

In 1998, Michael Schiavo offered to donate to charity the $700,000 then remaining in a trust account set up for his wife's care if her parents agreed to let her feeding tube be removed. They refused.

The money had been won in a medical malpractice case. Schiavo stood to inherit it upon his wife's death. Today, only about $50,000 remains.

"He has said from the beginning that this case isn't about money," Felos said.

 

~~~~~

 

Getting a firm handle on gambling

By JONI JAMES
Published March 11, 2005

Now that voters have approved slot machines for four Broward County parimutuels, controversy is swirling in Tallahassee. Here are some questions and answers about slot machines, Indian gambling and the role of the Legislature.

If voters have spoken, why is the Legislature involved?

Lawmakers must figure out how to regulate and tax slot machines. Gov. Jeb Bush and his allies in the Legislature say the constitutional amendment passed in November didn't specify the type of slot machine to be used.

Aren't all slot machines the same?

No, even if they look alike. The difference is in the software and how a player's winnings are determined.

What's the difference?

In Vegas, a player's chance of winning is the same every time, and each machine operates independently. Federal law calls that "Class III" gambling. At Indian casinos in Florida, gamblers use machines that mimic bingo and play each other. Those are called "Class II" machines.

So what's all the fuss?

Bush and his allies don't want Class III machines at the parimutuels because that could allow the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians to have them at their casinos.

Why are the Indian Tribes involved?

The Seminole Tribe of Florida pioneered Indian gambling in the United States in 1979 when it opened a high-stakes bingo hall. By the mid '80s, Indian tribes nationwide had joined in, and in 1988 Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

But aren't casinos illegal in Florida?

Yes, but Indians can offer any form of gambling the state allows, which is why their machines in Florida mimic bingo and the lotto. But they can't have blackjack, craps or other types of casino gambling .

What gives them that right?

The tribes are considered sovereign nations, which limits state oversight. They can sell cigarettes, for example, and not charge tax .

So why does it matter which type of slot machine the Legislature approves?

Gambling opponents, led by Bush, believe that by limiting the parimutuels to Class II machines, they can prevent the Indian casinos from getting Vegas-style machines.

Why are they so opposed to Vegas-style machines?

They say they are more addictive. Proponents disagree. One thing both sides agree on: Class III machines offer bigger jackpots and bigger profits for casinos. That's why the parimutuels want Class III machines and have threatened to sue the state if they don't get them.

What did the amendment say?

It just said slot machines. Proponents say everyone knows what that means: Vegas-style machines. That's what federal law suggests, too, but state law doesn't make the distinction. Bush and his allies see a loophole to exploit.

Will the tribes automatically get Vegas machines if the parimutuels get them?

No, the state would be forced to negotiate an agreement to allow them, and the Miccosukees already have asked Bush to begin talks.

If Vegas-style machines are allowed, can the Tribes add other casino games like blackjack?

Probably not. Florida law already allows two other forms of Class III games, dog and horse racing, and that hasn't opened the door to casino gambling.

If only Broward County parimutuels qualify for slot machines, can Indian casinos in other counties get them?

Bush has made contradictory statements on this point, suggesting on the one hand that slot machines could be headed to the Seminoles' Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, but on the other that the Miccosukees might be barred because they do not have a Broward County facility.

What do the tribes say?

Their position is clear: They can have any form of gambling that's legal anywhere in Florida. They don't even call the machines at their casinos slots. They call them video lottery terminals.

What are the odds of winning at the slot machines?

That won't be known until the law is written. Legislators are expected to set a minimum payout scheme for the parimutuel machines. For Indian machines, any minimum payout requirement would have to be part of negotiations with the state.

Who would regulate the slot machines

The state will have some role, but lawmakers might choose to give some oversight to Broward County. Some lawmakers, however, might push for the state to own the machines and lease them to the parimutuels. The state can't regulate Indian machines unless the tribe agrees.

What's in it for taxpayers?

Potentially millions of dollars. The amendment gives legislators authority to tax the proceeds. Parimutuels have offered at least 30 percent, but some lawmakers want twice that. A 30 percent tax would generate about $250-million, with the money earmarked for education statewide.

Would the tribes' machines be taxed?

No, but federal law allows states to negotiate revenue sharing.

 

 

June 14, 2006

Shop owner sought in Nev. judge shooting

By SCOTT SONNER | Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Police searched Tuesday for a pawn shop owner wanted in the slaying of his estranged wife and declared him a suspect in the sniper shooting of a judge who handled the couple's pending divorce.

Darren Roy Mack, 45, had access to "multiple weapons" and may be armed, said Reno Deputy Police Chief Jim Johns. He was driving a silver Ford Explorer with California license plates but may have changed cars.

Judge Chuck Weller was shot in the chest on Monday as he stood near his third-floor office window at the county courthouse, police said. Shortly afterward, Charla Mack was found dead in the garage of her home.

Police responded to a reported domestic dispute at her town house and found her face down in a pool of blood with stab wounds to her upper torso and neck, the criminal complaint said. It also said a detective found an empty sheath for a "dagger" on the floor of the master bedroom closet.

The two attacks apparently happened within hours of each other, police said, though it wasn't immediately clear which was first.

Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick said a warrant was issued Tuesday for Mack's arrest on one count of open murder with the use of a deadly weapon.

Police also think Mack targeted the judge, firing the shot from a parking garage across the Truckee River two blocks away - the distance of at least three football fields.

"It does not appear this was a random crime," Johns said at a news conference.

Weller, a 53-year-old family court judge, was hospitalized in good condition Tuesday. Weller's assistant also had bullet fragments removed from her arm and hip and was released from a hospital, police spokesman Steve Frady said.

Weller issued a statement Tuesday thanking the community, law officers and emergency medical personnel "for their work in saving my life."

"I also want to give my deepest sympathies to the children and family of Charla Mack," he said. "It is my hope that the community will join me in reaching out to that family in what has truly been a tragic and senseless crime."

The statement indicated he was being moved to an undisclosed secure location, but it did not say when.

The courthouse shooting Monday morning led to a shutdown of a six-block area near downtown as SWAT teams searched parking garages, high-rise construction sites and a movie theater for the gunman. Flights were briefly suspended at Reno-Tahoe Airport and some planes were searched after a vehicle that looked like Mack's was spotted, but Mack wasn't found.

According to Washoe County District Court records, Charla Mack, 39, filed for divorce on Feb. 7, 2005, and a mutual restraining order was signed in May 2005. A custody hearing was scheduled for this September before Weller.

Mack owns a Reno jewelry store and pawn shop within a few blocks from the courthouse. His photo, along with his wife and three children, appears on a Web site advertising the sale of diamonds and other jewelry. The children were not injured.

---

Associated Press writers Martin Griffith and Tom Gardner in Reno, Brendan Riley in Carson City contributed to this report.

 

~~~~~

New moms shape up with tots outdoors

StrollerShape and Stroller Strides incorporate baby strollers into aerobic and strength-training workouts.

By ELIZABETH MILLER
Published March 11, 2005

New moms trying to shed those postpregnancy pounds are taking their workouts to the streets.

No babysitter? Don't want to leave your child at day care or in a nursery? No problem. Stroller classes allow moms to exercise with their babies or toddlers.

"I just had my second child, and sometimes it's very difficult to get out of the house and have any type of me time," said Stephanie Bailey, co-owner of StrollerShape.

Owned by sisters Bailey and Cheryl Smith, StrollerShape is one of several programs locally and nationwide that use baby strollers for aerobic and strength-training workouts.

"We're more than just an exercise program. We're also like a moms club," Bailey said. "Once a month, we plan an activity for just moms, and we also plan family activities."

The sisters launched StrollerShape classes at Kate Jackson Park in South Tampa in January and will kick off the program at West Park Village in Westchase on March 19. A similar company, Stroller Strides, launched classes this month in Old Hyde Park Village and at the New Tampa Community Park.

Smith, who has a graduate degree in exercise science, previously worked as a personal trainer and last year was wellness director for the Palm Harbor YMCA. Bailey, who lives in Beach Park, worked in sales and marketing.

Two of seven children, Smith and Bailey ran track and cross country at Leto High School. After becoming moms, they wanted to start a business that would allow them to stay home with their kids.

Exercising outdoors is less confining and more social than a gym for moms and their kids, said Smith, who lives in Westchase.

"They're getting fresh air and getting to interact with their babies and make friends with other moms at the same time," Smith said. "Maybe they've already been doing something like this on their own, but being in a class offers the accountability of knowing someone's counting on you to be there. Most people need a little more motivation."

An instructor leads the group through a warmup and a power walk, jog or run, depending on the participants' desired level of intensity. Strength-training intervals with weights or exercise bands are incorporated along the route.

Stroller exercise programs began gaining popularity in 2001, when Stroller Strides started in San Diego.

Ginger Couden, who recently moved to Seffner from Hawaii, owns the local franchise. She took Stroller Strides classes in Hawaii and loved it so much she became an instructor. When she decided to quit her job and stay home, she and her husband settled in Tampa.

"I gained 50 pounds because of complications during the end of my pregnancy that restricted me from working out," Couden said. "It helped me lose the weight . . . I love bringing the program to other moms."

The one-hour classes cost an average of $10 per class, with discounts available for packages.

IF YOU GO

StrollerShape offers classes at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Kate Jackson Park in South Tampa and at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday starting March 21 at West Park Village in Westchase. A kickoff for the Westchase classes is March 19. For information, call Cheryl Smith at 312-1030 or go to www.strollershape.com Stroller Strides offers classes at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Old Hyde Park Village and at 9 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the New Tampa Community Park. For information, call Ginger Couden at 394-7754 or go to www.strollerstrides.com

 

~~~~~


[Times photo: Scott Keeler]
As if by divine intervention, the sun provides the candlepower for the abandoned Cape St. George Lighthouse on St. George Island, the southern barrier of Apalachicola Bay.

Lighten up

The new generation of ultra-light flats boats takes anglers into the skinniest of water, inaccessible to heavier craft.

By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Editor
Published March 4, 2005

FORT PIERCE - It's easy to run aground when you are chasing redfish through the shallows of the Indian River, where locals consider 2 feet to be fairly deep for fishing.

Like all boat owners, I pray I never hear the sound of oyster shells grinding against a fiberglass hull. As the owner of a 20-foot vee bottom, I stick to marked channels, lest I leave my outboard's lower unit lying somewhere on the bay bottom.

On a recent trip, my host vowed that wouldn't happen as we motored along one of Florida's most undeveloped coastlines.

"Trust me," Mike Holliday said. "All this boat needs is about five inches of water."

I was a little apprehensive as Holliday, an East Coast guide and director of communications for Maverick Boat Company, slid his 17-foot Hewes Tailfisher flats boat onto plane and blazed off into the great unknown.

"This is a go-anywhere boat," said Holliday, who often fishes the backcountry of the 156-mile long estuary. "This will take you into the really skinny water."

The Maverick Boat Company, which manufactures Maverick, Hewes and Pathfinder boats, knew it needed a lightweight, fiberglass flats skiff capable of running in less than a foot of water that was within the financial reach of most anglers.

In August 2004, Maverick unveiled the Tailfisher Tunnel Hull, a 750-pound flats boat that, when matched with a Yamaha 60-horsepower outboard, lists for about $19,000.

"A lot of our customers told us that they wanted a boat that would serve a specific purpose," said Scott Deal, Maverick's president. "These guys fishing the redfish tournaments want to get into the really skinny water. That is all they want to do."

Maverick also makes a carbon/kevlar flats boat, the Mirage HPX, with a hull weight of 425 pounds. Because of the materials used, the HPX series, available in vee or tunnel hull, costs about $9,000 more than the the Tailfisher.

"Right now the 17-foot Tailfisher Tunnel Hull is our No. 1-selling flats boat," said Holliday, who oversees the company's professional guide program. "It is a great boat for the price."

These days, saltwater fishing has become a highly-specialized sport. Most anglers either fish inshore or offshore, unless they are fortunate enough to own two boats. Many inshore anglers around Tampa Bay target a specific species, such as tarpon, snook or redfish. Of those three, redfish anglers need the boats that allow access to the shallowest water.

Several manufacturers are building ultra-skinny boats that are sometimes called technical poling skiffs, which are also great in the Florida Keys for bonefish and permit.

Anglers use a long pole, typically fiberglass or graphite composite, to sneak up on fish after motoring to the skinny water. Trolling motors are also an option, but they can scare fish in clear, shallow water, and the batteries for a trolling motor add considerable weight.

The poling boats need less power because they are so light - anywhere from 400 to 800 pounds for a 17-foot hull - and most will run 30 to 40 mph with a 60-horse outboard.

Different makes of boats vary greatly in the level of comfort and finish, but they are all designed with one thing in mind: Allow an angler to get into the skinniest water, both on plane and by pole, to catch fish that are out of reach to boats that need more than 10 inches to float.

Typical flats boats are much heavier, some weighing as much a 1,500 pounds. They have more options, such as larger baitwells and more comfortable seats, and bigger skiffs can be smoother and drier in choppy water. But the heavier flats boats need more water to run and float, and the larger motors required to push the weight burn a lot more fuel, adding considerably to the cost of a day on the water.

Poling skiffs come in a wide range of prices, starting around $8,000 for a 15-foot boat with tiller motor and a trailer, soaring to as much as $40,000 for a tricked-out 17-footer.

The Tailfisher Tunnel Hull is indicative of the new poling skiffs geared for anglers interested in competing on one of the many redish torus. The Tailfisher's 6-foot, 1-inch beam with an 18-gallon gas tank and a 70-horse Yamaha motor is light enough to be poled for hours and still provides good range. The tunnel hull allows the motor to be raised above the deepest part of the hull, providing an even shallower ride on plane.

Hewes, named after the legendary Bob Hewes, an industry pioneer who began building shallow-draft boats in the mid 1950s, also manufactures the heavier Redfisher series, which comes in lengths of 16, 18 and 21 feet.

Hewes boats have an excellent finish and an established market after decades of building solid skiffs, but there is growing competition for shallow-minded anglers.

"We are always busy," said Tony Mitzlaff, general manager for the Jacksonville-based Mitzi Skiffs. "We have got our own little niche."

The company started with a 15-foot, two-man skiff and added a 16-footer, a 17-footer and ST tunnel models, which are advertised as "the perfect blend of a vee hull ride with the shallow running ability of a tunnel hull." The Mitzis don't have the opulent finish of some other skiffs, but they are less expensive than most, with a 17-foot hull that weighs 560 pounds costing less than $15,000 for boat, 60-horse motor and trailer.

Titusville's Hells Bay Boatworks, founded by Hal Chittum and world-class fly-rodder Flip Pallot, is marketed as a boat that can take a professional pounding by a guide who works 200 to 300 days a year. The company offers many models of poling skiffs ranging from a 14-foot, 8-inch Devilray that weighs 260 pounds to the 18-foot Marquesa hull that weighs 625 pounds. These are some of the most popular poling skiffs and among the most expensive, with some fully-loaded models costing more than $35,000.

Bass boat manufacturer Ranger of Flippin, Ark., has a new bare-bones boat called Banshee, which measures 16-feet, 8-inches with a hull that weighs 543 pounds. Advertised to run in less than five inches of water, a Banshee with a 40-horse motor sells for $11,250. Ranger also makes the Phantom, which offers more features and a more refined look at 650 pounds.

In St. Petersburg, Renegade Marine builds two popular tunnel-hulls, the 17-foot Skate, with a 825-pound hull, and the Skate 20, with a 975-pound hull. The Skate is marketed as an economical option to the Hell's Bay boats.

And more manufacturers are getting involved as they discover that some anglers will do anything to get into ankle-deep water without getting their feet wet.

 

~~~~~

 

Bus drivers bend the boss' ear

In a wide-ranging session, the superintendent says his office will work for change with input from the drivers.

By THOMAS C. TOBIN, Times Staff Writer
Published March 11, 2005

CLEARWATER - They chug through Pinellas traffic, often enduring raucous behavior in the seats behind them. They watch in disgust as motorists blow past their flashing red lights and stop arms.

While top officials refer to their passengers as society's "precious cargo," the county's 800 school bus drivers earn less than people who drive garbage trucks.

Now, in the wake of two student deaths in bus-related accidents, they are under siege from parents and the public.

"There's probably no harder job that we have in this school district right now," Pinellas school superintendent Clayton Wilcox told more than 100 drivers Wednesday in a meeting to brief them about changes and listen to their concerns.

No job, he said, is "under more of a microscope."

Presented with the rare opportunity to sound off, the drivers did not hold back. They spoke of principals who refuse to discipline misbehaving students, inaccurate routing instructions that cause problems on the street, an office culture that discourages complaints, and a bureaucracy that dampens any impulse toward improvement.

Drivers also complained of new pressure from parents who confront them during their routes, emboldened by the public outrage that followed the recent traffic deaths of students Rebecca McKinney and Brooke Ingoldsby.

One driver recounted how a parent jumped out of a car, knocked on his bus' door and told him he was speeding. Many of his colleagues said they could tell similar stories.

"If people are following your bus, I've got to tell you that's another whole set of issues that we've got to talk about. And I believe that's happening," Wilcox said. "We simply can't have that because it does create an unsafe situation. . . . Sooner or later, somebody's going to try to cut you off and they're going to have a collision with a 60,000-pound bus."

Wilcox said he senses the stepped-up scrutiny in his own office. While some parents call with legitimate complaints, he said, others "call and e-mail me on a daily basis about little things. Little things, like the bus pulled out into traffic. Well, how else are you going to pull out?"

Throughout the one-hour meeting at the High Point bus compound in Clearwater, drivers joked with Wilcox, applauded many of his answers and thanked him for coming. The superintendent said he would return in a few weeks with answers to their questions and solutions to some of their problems.

He said he will do the same at the district's five other bus compounds.

Wilcox already has addressed some driver concerns by reorganizing the transportation department.

Among the planned changes: putting drivers in closer contact with supervisors, opening a call center to field parent concerns and adding employees to audit the system for unsafe practices and dangerous bus stops. Many existing supervisors will have to reapply for their jobs, and Wilcox will take a personal role in some of the new hiring.

He also promised to upgrade conditions at the High Point compound, a temporary facility dotted with portable buildings and poor restrooms.

"We're not going to be here forever but at the same time I don't think it's right to have you working in conditions that are less than what I would work in," he said.

Also on the way is new technology that would put school phone numbers and students' home information at drivers' fingertips so they don't have to rely on dispatchers, Wilcox said.

In addition, he said, the district will combine the department's global positioning system with a new system that allows officials to call the home of every student with timely recorded messages. The combined system will detect when a bus is running late or early and automatically alert parents.

Many of the improvements discussed Wednesday might have altered the sequence of events that led to the deaths of McKinney and Ingoldsby. Both girls were dropped off at stops that required them to cross busy roads, in violation of a 2-year-old district directive. Computer problems and the department's chronic inability to resolve complaints contributed to both accidents.

"I pray for him, I really do, because he came into a ball of fire," five-year driver Katrina Peterson said of Wilcox. "He came into a mess that's been going on for years."

Said another driver, Linda Huber: "I'm glad he came, and we'll see if there's any real changes."

Wilcox had no solutions for one problem. Asked why drivers couldn't be paid more, he said there was only so much money to go around, but he would work on it.

"I hear what you're saying but there's not a group of folks in this district that don't think they need to be paid more," he told the drivers. "That said, there are some new dynamics and so we'll see what happens."

Pinellas school bus drivers start at $11.29 an hour and can earn a maximum of $16.42 an hour with experience. Sanitation drivers in St. Petersburg and Clearwater start at higher rates and can earn up to about $20 an hour.

"I hope that what you see is that, in this process, we have not blamed bus drivers," Wilcox said. "We've got to trust the talent in this room to fix this."

 

~~~~~

 

CLEARWATER - They chug through Pinellas traffic, often enduring raucous behavior in the seats behind them. They watch in disgust as motorists blow past their flashing red lights and stop arms.

While top officials refer to their passengers as society's "precious cargo," the county's 800 school bus drivers earn less than people who drive garbage trucks.

Now, in the wake of two student deaths in bus-related accidents, they are under siege from parents and the public.

"There's probably no harder job that we have in this school district right now," Pinellas school superintendent Clayton Wilcox told more than 100 drivers Wednesday in a meeting to brief them about changes and listen to their concerns.

No job, he said, is "under more of a microscope."

Presented with the rare opportunity to sound off, the drivers did not hold back. They spoke of principals who refuse to discipline misbehaving students, inaccurate routing instructions that cause problems on the street, an office culture that discourages complaints, and a bureaucracy that dampens any impulse toward improvement.

Drivers also complained of new pressure from parents who confront them during their routes, emboldened by the public outrage that followed the recent traffic deaths of students Rebecca McKinney and Brooke Ingoldsby.

One driver recounted how a parent jumped out of a car, knocked on his bus' door and told him he was speeding. Many of his colleagues said they could tell similar stories.

"If people are following your bus, I've got to tell you that's another whole set of issues that we've got to talk about. And I believe that's happening," Wilcox said. "We simply can't have that because it does create an unsafe situation. . . . Sooner or later, somebody's going to try to cut you off and they're going to have a collision with a 60,000-pound bus."

Wilcox said he senses the stepped-up scrutiny in his own office. While some parents call with legitimate complaints, he said, others "call and e-mail me on a daily basis about little things. Little things, like the bus pulled out into traffic. Well, how else are you going to pull out?"

Throughout the one-hour meeting at the High Point bus compound in Clearwater, drivers joked with Wilcox, applauded many of his answers and thanked him for coming. The superintendent said he would return in a few weeks with answers to their questions and solutions to some of their problems.

He said he will do the same at the district's five other bus compounds.

Wilcox already has addressed some driver concerns by reorganizing the transportation department.

Among the planned changes: putting drivers in closer contact with supervisors, opening a call center to field parent concerns and adding employees to audit the system for unsafe practices and dangerous bus stops. Many existing supervisors will have to reapply for their jobs, and Wilcox will take a personal role in some of the new hiring.

He also promised to upgrade conditions at the High Point compound, a temporary facility dotted with portable buildings and poor restrooms.

"We're not going to be here forever but at the same time I don't think it's right to have you working in conditions that are less than what I would work in," he said.

Also on the way is new technology that would put school phone numbers and students' home information at drivers' fingertips so they don't have to rely on dispatchers, Wilcox said.

In addition, he said, the district will combine the department's global positioning system with a new system that allows officials to call the home of every student with timely recorded messages. The combined system will detect when a bus is running late or early and automatically alert parents.

Many of the improvements discussed Wednesday might have altered the sequence of events that led to the deaths of McKinney and Ingoldsby. Both girls were dropped off at stops that required them to cross busy roads, in violation of a 2-year-old district directive. Computer problems and the department's chronic inability to resolve complaints contributed to both accidents.

"I pray for him, I really do, because he came into a ball of fire," five-year driver Katrina Peterson said of Wilcox. "He came into a mess that's been going on for years."

Said another driver, Linda Huber: "I'm glad he came, and we'll see if there's any real changes."

Wilcox had no solutions for one problem. Asked why drivers couldn't be paid more, he said there was only so much money to go around, but he would work on it.

"I hear what you're saying but there's not a group of folks in this district that don't think they need to be paid more," he told the drivers. "That said, there are some new dynamics and so we'll see what happens."

Pinellas school bus drivers start at $11.29 an hour and can earn a maximum of $16.42 an hour with experience. Sanitation drivers in St. Petersburg and Clearwater start at higher rates and can earn up to about $20 an hour.

"I hope that what you see is that, in this process, we have not blamed bus drivers," Wilcox said. "We've got to trust the talent in this room to fix this."

 

~~~~~

Baptist minister finds a place to call home

After years as a missionary, the Rev. Stephen Chick and his family have settled in Tarpon Springs and are helping to bring new life to a church in New Port Richey.

By EBONY WINDOM, Times Staff Writer
Published March 11, 2005

TARPON SPRINGS - When someone asks the Rev. Stephen Chick where he's from, he answers with a long story.

For him, there's no simple answer to that question.

That's because as a second-generation missionary, Chick has traveled the world.

He spent much of his childhood trekking from coast to coast with his family, starting new churches and spreading the gospel along the way.

Chick, who lives in Tarpon Springs, loves to talk about his journey. Now 36, the senior pastor at Suncoast Baptist Church in New Port Richey spent the past decade working in England as a church planner.

Like his dad's, Chick's job was to help start new churches. But according to Chick, he had his work cut out for him.

In England, only a tiny percentage of the population actually goes to church, he says. Ironically, English settlers are credited with initially bringing Christianity to America, Chick says.

"It was a main evangelic country," Chick said, referring to England. "Now, it needs to be evangelized. ... They're closing churches down left and right."

So as a result of Chick's mission work, a renovated chapel in Cannock, England, is up and running.

Over the years, Chick has logged hundreds of thousands of miles in his trusty minivan with his wife and three kids. One year, the family lived on the road. From hotel to hotel, and church to church, they raised money to support 850 churches.

Now, after a lifetime of missionary work, Chick has hung up his traveling shoes. The kids are getting older, he says, and need stability. The time has come to park the minivan and settle down.

Just last month, Chick embarked on a new chapter in his journey. He stepped in as senior pastor of the west Pasco church.

"(God) opened doors for us to come here," he said.

It all started a year ago. Chick got word that Suncoast was without a permanent pastor. Apparently, the former one had moved away. So Chick submitted a resume. But at the time, the church wasn't financially able to take on a new pastor.

So, he waited.

In the meantime, the Chick family started worshiping at Suncoast each week.

Right away, they loved the church. There was just something about it. Suncoast wasn't one of those churches where folks don't even say hello, Chick says. At Suncoast, everyone was warm and friendly. The Chicks immediately felt right at home.

So months later, when the time came to hire a senior pastor, Chick had already won over the congregation. An overwhelming 98 percent voted him in.

Now, with Chick in the pulpit, attendance at Suncoast has swelled from 82 to 200, thanks in part to Chick's slick marketing campaign. On the side, Chick runs a home-based business hawking church promotional items. So Chick uses his business savvy to help get the word out about Suncoast. He hopes to draw in young families from North Pinellas and West Pasco.

"When you look at the church in Jerusalem, there was all ages, all backgrounds," Chick said.

Even the largely senior congregation agrees that younger faces are needed in the pews, Chick says.

"We were basically looking for a younger pastor who could draw a young crowd into the church, not just strictly retirees," said Deacon Don Doty, 76, who has been a Suncoast member for 11 years.

In only a month, Chick has transformed into a round-the-clock public relations representative for the church. And he encourages the congregation to follow suit.

When Chick spots a clerk at Wal-Mart, he invites him or her to church. And at restaurants, too. One time he paid a woman's breakfast tab. She looked shocked.

Chick just grinned. His parting words were: "Come visit Suncoast Baptist Church sometime."

Church volunteers pass out free pens, key chains and yo-yos - all emblazoned with Suncoast's name. During Valentine's Day, they handed out pastel-colored carnations to passers-by at a shopping plaza. A business card was attached.

"The Yellow Pages do not work," Chick said. "I want the world to know about Christ."

Soon Suncoast will transition to blended worship services in order to "satisfy seniors and appeal to younger groups."

Chick uses a relevant message each week. For his sermon titles, he borrows phrases from hit TV shows such as Trading Spaces and While You Were Out.

And Suncoast's new cafe offers a selection of gourmet pastries and coffees before Sunday worship.

Things are changing at Suncoast.

"I hear people say, "We've never done it like this before,' " Chick said. "But this is 2005, and we've got to learn to reach people differently than in the 1960s."

There are plans to revitalize Suncoast's children's program and start several new ministries, too. They include groups for widows and single moms.

Chick logs about 80 hours a week at Suncoast. All on a part-time salary - for now. But it's not a job, it's a calling, Chick says. And besides, it all gives him a sense of fulfillment, said his wife and "best friend," Lisa, 34.

"(Chick's) a Godly man and has a great desire to see the church grow both physically and spiritually," said Doty, who lives in New Port Richey. "He wants to reach out into the community and bring others to know Christ."

In the meantime, Chick and his family are glad to call Tarpon Springs home. And they plan to stick around long enough to see the kids, Seth, 13, Eden, 10, and Noah, 6, graduate from high school. Chick says family comes first. The couple hope to buy a house soon. And that's a big deal for a family that has lived in 15 homes in the past 14 years.

So folks who ask the Chick kids where they're from can get ready for a long answer.

 


SPTimes.net