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Dateline Florida

Published February 20, 2007


Watery jacket ready if chill threatens berries

The strawberries are safe - for now. The cold snap that hit the region over the weekend did no damage to the strawberry crop in eastern Hillsborough County. The cold was "a nonevent" for farmers, said Shawn Crocker, head of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. A little cold is sometimes a good thing: It can give the fruit an added punch of sweetness. Still, the thermometer-watching isn't completely over. This morning's expected low in Plant City is 37 degrees. Warmer weather is expected later this week. Billy Simmons, right, of Simmons Farms in Dover talks on his cell phone with his farm foreman as he checks sprinklers. Growers use the water to form a protective coating of ice over the plants to protect the flowers, which will blossom into strawberries. On Simmons Farm it stayed around 30.

No. 4 in pay among peers, at least until board meets

By many standards, the University of South Florida is the state's No. 2 public university. But its president, Judy Genshaft, right, ranks fourth in pay among her peers. USF's board of trustees meets today to discuss raising her base salary, which is nearly $100,000 a year less than the University of Central Florida's John Hitt, who is the highest paid public university president in the state. Genshaft's base salary is just over $370,000, which doesn't include an annual performance bonus. The presidents at the University of Florida and Florida International University also have higher salaries than Genshaft.

GOP tosses straw poll

It looks like grass roots Republican organizers can forget about getting wined and dined by the presidential campaigns. State GOP chairman Jim Greer announced Monday that plans for a nonbinding straw poll - basically a high-profile, unofficial popularity contest for party activists - have been axed. Instead the state party is teaming up with the Fox News Channel for a live, televised debate from Orlando Oct. 20. Scrubbing the straw vote is probably good news for many candidates, who would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning. But not for Mitt Romney, whose team was already gearing up to campaign.


[Last modified February 20, 2007, 00:42:52]

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