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Talk of the bay: Florida schools are a bargain - to a degree

By Times Staff
Published January 9, 2008


Florida colleges are still a bargain, Kiplinger's Personal Finance says. Six state schools rank among the 100 "best values in public colleges" in the magazine's February issue. They include the University of South Florida, which made its debut at No. 79 on the list. The University of Florida again came in second in the nation, behind the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Rankings are based on academic quality, cost and financial aid. Other state schools on the list: New College of Florida, 5; Florida State University, 15; University of Central Florida, 51; and Florida International University, 81.

Parton attraction sale cuts 162 jobs

About 162 workers at Dolly Patron's Dixie Stampede learned Monday afternoon that the show doesn't always go on. They were abruptly laid off upon learning the Orlando attraction's owners had sold the place, despite assurances earlier in the day that nothing was up. People with tickets for future installments of the corn-pone dinner theater production will be offered refunds. Co-owner and attraction namesake Dolly Parton said an unidentified buyer just made an offer too good to pass up for the 13 acres strategically located between Sea World and Walt Disney World. "I'm a firm believer in timing and opportunity," said Parton, who operates Dixie Stampedes in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.; Branson, Mo.; and Myrtle Beach, S.C. "We will be back bigger and better than ever." The $28-million dinner theater in Orlando opened in 2003.

HSN's holiday wish list fulfilled

While most retailers are still groaning over their lackluster holiday shopping season, sales at HSN rebounded big time. "HSN had double-digit, something like 20 percent, gain" in fourth-quarter sales, enthused Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive officer of the St. Petersburg TV shopping network's parent, IAC/InterActiveCorp. IAC won't release numbers for a few weeks. But HSN, which was aided by a comparison to its weak holiday performance a year ago, nonetheless matched the online retail industry sales gains during the two-month holiday season. Diller lauded Mindy Grossman, HSN president and chief executive, for turning around the once struggling network. "The rebound started in August and just continued to build through the holiday," he told investors gathered Tuesday at a Citicorp media and telecommunications conference in Phoenix.

[Last modified January 8, 2008, 23:05:52]

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