tampabay.com

Dateline Florida

By TIMES WIRES
Published January 31, 2007


National Champ Gator edges out Panther for No. 1

Eager to keep the "We're No. 1!" news flowing, University of Florida officials announced this week that 2006 sales of UF's specialty license plates edged out the popular "Protect the Panther" tag. More than 90,430 UF tags sold, compared to 87,806 for the Panther plates. That leaves UF - where else? - at No. 1. The Gators are still basking in the school's simultaneous national championship football and basketball titles. Institutional bragging aside, the tag sales go for a good cause. The $25 annual fee for each tag goes toward scholarships. Last year, UF raised $2.26-million. This year's redesigned UF plates proclaim "The Gator Nation." They replace the tag designed in 1997 that read "National Champions," in honor of the football team's first national title in 1996.

Got an ad? I'll put it on my backpack

With ingenuity that might impress even the Donald, a Leto High School junior hopes to raise money for a trip to Europe using her school backpack. Brankica Blazenovic is selling advertising space on the backpack through eBay because she's $1,500 short for a trip with the school's French club. For the right price, she'll stitch company logos on her backpack, which she plans to carry daily. She promises the backpack will be seen throughout France, Spain, Monaco, Croatia and Brankica's native Bosnia, where she also hopes to visit friends and family. She'll take lots of pictures, too - the logo prominently displayed, of course. The auction ends Sunday. As of Tuesday afternoon, her backpack was still waiting for bids.

Ice chunk's origin remains a mystery

Heaven only knows - still - where a chunk of ice came from that fell out of the sky in Town 'N Country Sunday, crushing the roof of a car and blowing out its rear window. Federal Aviation Authority spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says investigators are still tracking down airplanes that may have been flying low near Tampa International Airport, as well as aircraft at higher altitudes. "This is a very unusual situation," Bergen said. "A lot of the ice that we see is much smaller and it's blue in color." Witnesses said the chunk that hit Andres Javage's Mustang was an 18-inch white block. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service say the origin of the ice is a mystery to them, too, since local weather conditions when it fell would not have produced it.

Correction

Joseph G. Spicola served as state attorney and public defender in Hillsborough County. He was also a Tampa city attorney. An obituary Tuesday misstated one of his local roles.