tampabay.com

Statewide drug investigation nets 739 arrests, 380 in Tampa Bay area

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 9, 2007


TAMPA

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has arrested 739 people on drug charges, including 380 in the Tampa area over a recent weeklong drug sweep.

The department announced Tuesday that the sweep yielded more than 2, 400 kilos of cocaine, 384 pounds of marijuana, 1, 165 grams of methamphetamines, and more than $375, 500 in currency.

The department worked with various local, state and federal agencies to issue search warrants, arrest drug traffickers and dismantle methamphetamine labs.

Trena Reddick, an FDLE spokeswoman for the Tampa area, said one reason the number of local arrests was particularly high was that they included suspects arrested in longer-range investigations.

TALLAHASSEE

Tackle KidCare, Democrats urge Crist

Democratic legislative leaders wrote to Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday urging him to include simplifying KidCare in the list of things lawmakers tackle when they return to the Capitol in late June.

More than a half-million Florida children do not have health coverage, and many of those would be eligible for the state subsidized insurance program. Advocates say KidCare has been made too difficult to navigate for parents, and that's what has caused enrollment to drop dramatically over the last few years.

A bipartisan effort to streamline KidCare broke down in the Senate, as leaders said the different parties trying to negotiate the details did not work out their disagreements in time to pass the legislation.

Teacher group takes complaints to Crist

Fifteen teachers from across Florida met Tuesday with Gov. Charlie Crist to outline the challenges they are facing, including excessive testing, unrealistic goals, poor leadership and high turnover among faculty members and principals.

Teachers from schools with high percentages of students who have learning disabilities or don't speak English as a first language told him it's unfair to expect them to compete with other schools.

Fellsmere Elementary School, where Brooke Flood is a resource coach and math coordinator, has 300 students for whom English is a second language. Flood said studies show it takes seven years to learn a language, yet third-graders are expected to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test with only three or four years of exposure to English.

Middle school pupils set reading record

It's official: 186, 054 Florida middle school pupils are world record readers.

Guinness World Records confirmed Tuesday that they set a record for "most people reading aloud simultaneously in multiple locations" on Sept. 28. They read in unison an excerpt from Peter and the Starcatchers, a book by Ridley Pearson and Miami humor columnist Dave Barry.

The previous record was set by 155, 528 students in the United Kingdom who read William Wordsworth's poem Daffodils on March 19, 2004.

NAPLES

Shark bites leg of German tourist

A shark bit a German tourist on the leg while the man was swimming off a beach, authorities said.

Hans Pruss, 68, was treated for a serious wound on his left thigh after being bitten by a shark of unknown species about 100 yards offshore Monday morning, police said.

Pruss swam ashore and walked about 150 yards to his hotel, where an employee called 911.

The shark attack was just the eighth in Collier County since record keeping began in 1882, according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.

Police said they will be monitoring the beaches and urged people to be cautious when swimming in the Gulf of Mexico for the next few days.

"Enjoy the beach; just remember that it's their water, too, " said Michael Bauer, Naples natural resources manager. "Be aware of your surroundings."