Odor causes school evacuation for 2 hours

Published January 27, 2007


A noxious odor sent 36 Hernando County students to area hospitals, after rescue and hazardous-materials crews rushed to Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics Friday afternoon.

But firefighters from Hernando using air-testing equipment were unable to find the cause of the mysterious odor - which some likened to ammonia - that caused the school on Elgin Boulevard to be evacuated just before 1:30 p.m.

By 3:30 p.m., the school reopened and all of those waiting outside calmly filed back in.

The odor first began wafting through the middle school wing where assistant principal Cynthia Timmons caught a whiff. One student described the scent as being similar to a strong permanent marker.

Challenger enrolls about 1,450 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.


Condition still critical for 2 hit on sidewalk

The Palm Harbor couple who survived Tuesday's fatal crash on Pinellas Avenue remained in critical condition on Friday, a spokeswoman for Tampa General Hospital said.

Donald Wright, 82, and his wife Lillian, 92, were two of the three pedestrians outside the Hospice Thrift Shop who were struck by a van that jumped the curb and veered onto the sidewalk just after 1 p.m.

The Wrights were taken to Helen Ellis Hospital, but transferred to Tampa General when their conditions deteriorated.

The third pedestrian Amelia E. McBride, 92, of Tarpon Springs, died on Tuesday.

The driver of the van, Sandra K. Burns, 69, of Trinity, told police she had been backing up to exit the parking lot of the Tarpon Plaza.


Neighborhood activist opens services center

Jonathan Wade hopes that a small, once-dilapidated building can bring a sliver of hope to some of the North Greenwood area's residents in need.

Inside, the new Jonathan Wade Center for Growth and Development will provide a host of services, including substance abuse, employment and family counseling.

Wade purchased the building, at 1402 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, in 2003 with a $29,000 community block grant. He took out a $90,000 equity loan for renovations and received $25,000 from the city and $6,500 from the Pinellas County Substance Abuse Advisory Board. An anonymous donor added $10,000.

At 11 a.m. today, the building will make its public debut.

The Wade Center will offer services through Spiritual Change Inc., a nonprofit group Wade founded in 1999 that provides substance-abuse prevention targeting North Greenwood.