News and notes

Published August 15, 2006

It's like you're right there covering the shuttle launch

Check this out, space fans: www.capehistory.org. The site, created by University of Central Florida students and instructors at the school's Institute for Simulation and Training, re-creates astronaut John Glenn's 1962 launch from Cape Canaveral into space. The UCF group used a $25,000 state grant to create "Shadows of Canaveral," a virtual reality site in which visitors take on the persona of a reporter sent to Florida for the launch. The team paid attention to detail, using photos, blueprints and help from a former launch site employee to make the virtual journey as real as possible.

No charges for Virginia man, but no alligator boots either

A Virginia truck driver will escape misdemeanor charges after wildlife officials confiscated a dead, 10-foot alligator that he hauled from Florida. Elliott Terry of Roanoke, Va., planned to stuff the gator or turn it into a pair of boots after running over it while driving his car-carrier from Orlando last week. Instead, Virginia authorities dumped it in a landfill. It's a misdemeanor to remove alligators from the state, but Terry said a Florida police officer told him it was okay. Usually, that would get him as much as 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. But all he got was a stern lecture.

Two high school principals turn average into excellent

Two Tampa Bay area high school principals have wowed the Florida Board of Education by improving their school's performance by two letter grades. Gaither High in Hillsborough County and River Ridge Middle/High in Pasco County both rose from C to A on the latest school report card. The board will honor Gaither's Brenda Grasso and River Ridge's Jim Michaels today, along with 15 other principals from similarly improved high schools across the state.

Myracle, born after her mom crashed, is testament that miracles do exist

A pregnant woman who crashed her car into a Pahokee canal gave birth alone while trapped in the mangled vehicle waiting for help, authorities said. Palm Beach County sheriff's Deputy Stephen Maxwell was starting his shift Sunday morning when he noticed a person's head poking through tall grass along a canal bank. Maxwell found Kenyetta Biggs, 21, trying to get out of her partially submerged car. She told him that her baby was also inside. "As I looked around her, I saw the newborn baby laying in the passenger seat with the placenta and umbilical cord still attached," Maxwell said. Biggs and the girl, Myracle LaKenya, were doing well.