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Tallahassee heaps more praise on Tampa boys

Lawmakers spotlight the two 13-year-olds who turned in the $4,000 they found. Jeb Bush gives them a tour and a tip on how to shake hands.

By MELANIE AVE and ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 20, 2002


Lawmakers spotlight the two 13-year-olds who turned in the $4,000 they found. Jeb Bush gives them a tour and a tip on how to shake hands.

TALLAHASSEE -- The two 13-year-old Tampa boys who found and returned $4,000 last month keep raking in praise and rewards.

The latest attention came Tuesday, when Florida lawmakers officially recognized them, a state representative promised to set up a scholarship fund and Gov. Jeb Bush gave them a tour of his office.

The governor also offered Jarvarious Jones and Oscar Carter a few tips on how to shake hands.

"You gotta do that eye contact thing," Bush told the Greco Middle School students as he demonstrated a firm grip.

The boys have been in the spotlight since they found several envelopes filled with cash near their school bus stop and turned them over to their assistant principal. Tampa police later returned the money to a Chicago man who said he lost it while traveling from his hotel to a nearby restaurant.

Jarvarious said some of his friends are jealous at the attention he has received, but Oscar said he is just fine with the way things are going.

The boys have received bikes, cash, savings bonds and dinners. They have been interviewed on national television and recognized by both the Hillsborough County School Board and Tampa City Council.

This spring, they will throw out the first pitch at a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game.

But it was Tallahassee's turn on Tuesday.

The boys were in the House Gallery when state Rep. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, stood up to recognize them. Joyner said she hopes to raise more than $15,000 through her sorority to buy each of them a prepaid college scholarship.

They "set the standard for honesty and integrity," she told her colleagues. "They're role models that other young children can emulate."

The boys then walked over to the state Senate, where Sen. Les Miller, also a Tampa Democrat, recognized them for a second time.

"They basically stopped proceedings," said Connie Milito, a lobbyist for the Hillsborough County school district.

Gov. Bush gave each of the boys a manatee puppet and a tour of his private office. Before showing them inside, he pointed to the pictures of Florida notables hanging on the wall of his conference room.

"This is the office we let the big shots like you come in," Bush said.

Milito said she was personally inspired by the two boys and plans to contribute to their scholarship fund, one of two that has been established.

"It renewed my faith of what I know lies within our youth," she said. "Our kids have it in them. A lot of times you only hear the negative things. But these two young men did a great thing, and no one was watching them."

-- Times staff writer Anita Kumar contributed to this report.

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