Dateline Florida

Published February 7, 2007

Lemon-fresh look coming soon to Sunshine Skyway

The Sunshine Skyway's long-awaited makeover is about to begin. V.H.P. Enterprises will begin cleaning and painting the concrete barriers on the 197-foot bridge between St. Petersburg and Bradenton by week's end, said Kris Carson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Transportation Department. The Tarpon Springs company has the $3.9-million contract to paint the bridge's 42 steel cables, which now appear to be two-toned yellow. Workers will paint the cables one shade of yellow and the barrier walls off-white. All the existing paint on the cables will be stripped off and four new coats will be applied in a process expected to take 180 days.

Unused storm supplies go to good use

No hurricanes hit Tampa this past year, and therefore nobody ate the 9,000 prepackaged, ready-to-eat meals stockpiled at Tampa General Hospital. Before the meals expire, hospital officials will donate them to Metropolitan Ministries, which will distribute 4,000 to the local homeless and 5,000 to Central Florida tornado victims. A truck will pull up to the hospital's warehouse today to start loading the meals.

Midday Market debuts today

The folks who brought you the popular Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Petersburg will add a flourish starting today. The Wednesday Midday Market, aimed at the lunch crowd, makes its debut at 11 a.m. in Williams Park. It will last until 2 p.m. and will feature 25 to 30 food and craft vendors, many familiar to Saturday's regulars.

Annual state count finds fewer manatees

An annual census has found fewer manatees in Florida waters this year. A team of 16 observers counted 2,812 manatees between Jan. 30 and Thursday, compared with 3,116 last year. State officials say the census isn't meant to count every living manatee. "We know there are at least this many manatees in Florida waters," said Wendy Quigley, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "It helps us provide a snapshot of manatee distribution around the state."



In a Jan. 31 story about contempt-of-court charges against Richard Keith Alan II, a lawyer for a Florida A&M University fraternity member convicted of hazing, the Associated Press erroneously described the allegation. Alan was accused of phoning a dismissed juror at her home and interrogating her.