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News and notes

By TIMES WIRES
Published July 22, 2006


Back to school with a break for the wallet

The annual statewide tax holiday on some clothes, books and school supplies begins today and runs through July 30. It gives parents two weekends (and the week in between) to stock up on back-to-school supplies for the kids without paying the statewide 6 percent sales tax or any local sales taxes. The tax holiday applies to clothes and books priced at $50 or less and school supplies priced at $10 or less. The Florida Retail Federation predicts the tax holiday will boost back-to-school sales well above the 19 percent increase predicted for the nation as a whole.

'Redneck Riviera': one heck of a party

What do 17,000 construction industry professionals do when they get together? At the Southeast Building Conference that starts Aug. 3 in Orlando, they are encouraged to let it all hang out. A day after a workshop on job site safety, members can attend a bash called the "Redneck Riviera." According to an e-mail sent to members by conference organizers, the festivities include "armpit music, spittin' and belching contest." The invitation promises: "This is going to be one heck of a party."

Democrats to debate in race for governor

The Democrats break onto TV. Gubernatorial candidates Rod Smith and Jim Davis will hold a debate Saturday that will be televised live on Bay News 9 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The debate before Democratic activists in Fort Lauderdale also will be available to watch at no cost on Channel 340 (Tampa Bay on Demand).

A penny saved is worth $660,000

Nowadays, pennies aren't even worth the metal they're made with. A rare few, however, can fetch more than $600,000. Denis Loring and Donna Levin, of Singer Island near West Palm Beach, reaped a windfall from a copper 1792 penny the couple bought last year at a Beverly Hills auction for $437,000. Two months ago, the penny sold for $660,000 to an anonymous East Coast energy company executive. The coin was originally owned by descendants of Oliver Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, said Greg Rohan of Heritage Auction Galleries, which arranged the sale. It is one of nine known to exist.