In brief: Secretary of state fears a poor voter turnout

Published August 10, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb said Wednesday she is worried that voters aren't paying much attention to the Sept. 5 primary election, when they can choose nominees for governor as well as a Republican Senate contender.

Cobb said several of the state's 67 elections supervisors have already forwarded some concerns about turnout, which is historically small in Florida when voting occurs the day after Labor Day.

Several polls also suggest some voter indifference. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats surveyed say they haven't decided whom they want as their gubernatorial nominee: state Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua or U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa. And turnout for the first Republican gubernatorial primary in a dozen years may be influenced by the appearance of a runaway win for Attorney General Charlie Crist over Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

Alleged serial rapist is found guilty of one

MIAMI - A jury found a man guilty Wednesday of all charges in the rape of an 11-year-old girl after she got home from school.

Reynaldo E. Rapalo, dubbed the "Shenandoah rapist" for the area where most of the sexual assaults occurred in 2002 and 2003, was charged with seven rapes, but was being tried only for the June 2003 attack on the girl.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on charges that include lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12, kidnapping of a child under 13 and sexual battery on a child under 13.

Rapalo, a native Honduran who was living in Miami on an expired visa, did not testify in the trial that began Monday.

While awaiting trial, he used tied-together bed sheets to briefly escape from a Miami-Dade County jail.

Interim Embry-Riddle leader now permanent

DAYTONA BEACH - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's interim president has been named the university's fifth president.

John Johnson, 60, was named to the position by trustees Tuesday. He had been interim president since December when George Ebbs resigned.

Johnson joined Embry-Riddle in 2004 as a provost and chief academic officer after four years in a similar role at Texas A&M University at Texarkana. He has taught and researched in the fields of speech and hearing, science and biology and completed postdoctoral studies in academic administration.

Study: Post-hurricane blues stay with seniors

PUNTA GORDA - High levels of stress, depression and anxiety have persisted among Charlotte County's older residents long after Hurricane Charley devastated the area in 2004, a study says.

More than half of a study group reported they were still experiencing stress nearly 18 months after the storm that killed four people and damaged almost half of the homes in Charlotte County, according to the study conducted by the University of South Florida's department of aging and mental health.

Fourteen percent of the people, ranging from age 66 to 90, had symptoms associated with depression - nearly three times above the normal rate, the study found.