Dateline Florida

By Times Wires
Published March 1, 2008

Top students earn Barnes scholarships 

Meet the winners of the 2008 Barnes Scholarships. They beat out more than 250 other students for scholarships worth up to $15,000 a year for four years. One has helped keep his ravaged family afloat. There's a valedictorian and one headed to Yale. Yet another is from the Philippines and is an ambassador in the Model United Nation. Another beat cancer - twice - and is now battling it again. The scholarships, named in honor of former Times chairman and chief executive officer Andrew Barnes, go to college-bound high school seniors who have overcome significant obstacles while maintaining high grades. Story, 5B

Elvis, weather boost fair attendance

Florida State Fair attendance was up by about 32,000 this year, and fair officials attribute it to the weather and Elvis. About 490,000 people attended the fair during its 12-day run. The most popular day was on Feb. 8, which was student day. About half of the 76,000 tickets sold that day went to children, Florida State Fair Authority executive director Chuck Pesano said. Though the numbers are preliminary, he said this year's attendance spike was probably because of pleasant weekend weather and the new show, GLITZ!- a Las Vegas Revue. More than 6,000 people packed into each of the six Elvis impersonation shows, he said.

Anonymous dough rolls in for USF

The University of South Florida is rolling in scholarship dough. An anonymous donor gave the school $5-million for academic and scholarship programs, which will be matched by the state. Of the $10-million total, $8-million has been earmarked for need-based scholarships with preference to women and minorities. The remainder will establish the USF Academic Endowment Fund to be used at the discretion of the university's president. The gift comes on the heels of a $2-million gift from the Helios Education Foundation, which was matched by the state and will be used for scholarships for low-income, minority students.

Database delay may have hindered search

A delay in updating a state database may have kept police from finding a North Port mother of two alive. When Denise Amber Lee, 21, was reported missing Jan. 17, police focused on a green Chevrolet Camaro seen leaving her home, the Ledger in Lakeland reports. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement checked three nearby Camaro owners. But King, who registered his car a month earlier, was not in the database,which is updated every 90 days. The state wants updates to be about weekly.