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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 17, 2001

    Farners’ closing cuts a link from Tampa’s history

    Farners, the store that put five generations of Tampa children in school shoes, cowboy boots and patent leather Mary Janes, is closing.

    The news Friday dismayed longtime customers. U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew recalled going to Farners as a girl to pick out a pair of black and white saddle oxfords.

    "I bought my kids' shoes in there. I bought my grandchildren's shoes in there," Bucklew said. "It's a sad day."

    The store originally opened downtown in the 1930s, when Sam and Bessie Edelstein bought a ladies shoe store already called Farners.

    The Edelsteins later moved Farners to South Dale Mabry Highway.

    "We're probably the last full-service family shoe store in the area," said manager Mike Edelstein, 64. His mother Bessie, who was Mrs. E to customers, retired recently at age 89 because of her health. Edelstein's children have gone into other careers.

    "Times change," Edelstein said.

    Farners fans remember it as an old-fashioned shop where a child got a balloon with a pair of new shoes.

    "Mom and pops just don't stay around anymore," said former Tampa mayor Sandy Freedman, a Farners shopper over the years. "It's a shame."

    The store, at 1915 S Dale Mabry in the Carriage Trade Plaza, will remain open until a sale clears out its million-dollar inventory, Edelstein said.

    Weather to cool for the weekend

    The weather has been unseasonably warm this past week, but that's about to change. A cold front sweeping through the Tampa Bay area could bring patchy fog and a few scattered showers today, followed by slightly cooler weather over the next several days.

    "This will bring temperatures down to near normal," said Dan Sobien, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

    Forecasters predict only a 20 percent chance of rain today, and they expect any rain to be gone by early afternoon.

    Today, the temperature may climb to about 77 degrees by noon before it starts to slowly cool off, forecasters said. Temperatures during the next two nights may drop to about 50 degrees.

    Man passes note, robs bank in St. Petersburg

    ST. PETERSBURG -- The AmSouth Bank at 3399 66th St. N was robbed shortly before 3 p.m. by a man who handed a bank teller a threatening note, police said. The note said the robber had a gun, although he never showed a gun.

    After robbing the bank, the man ran west on 34th Avenue N toward 67th Street, police said. A witness in that area told police officers that he saw the robber changing clothes. The robber had not been caught Friday night.

    Airport visitors can nose around bombers

    Two fully restored World War II heavy bombers, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-24 Liberator, landed at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport on Friday afternoon as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour.

    The tour, sponsored by the non-profit Collings Foundation of Stow, Mass., strives to keep World War II memories alive. The B-17 was commissioned on April 7, 1945. It was constructed too late for combat, but it did serve as part of the Air/Sea First Rescue Squadron and later in the Military Air Transport Service.

    Under the British flag, the B-24 saw combat in the Pacific theater. It is one of only 10 B-24s in the world and the only one that is frequently airborne. Aviation enthusiasts may walk a bombing catwalk and view the cockpit and tail gunner position in the B-24, or they may look out the top hatch or the nose of the B-17. The aircraft will be on display today and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday. The cost is $7 for adults and $3 for children.

    Three dancers, one patron arrested in strip clubs

    Police made four arrests at Tampa strip clubs late Thursday, the day after a county judge upheld the city's lap dance ordinance.

    On Friday, yet another judge weighed in on the city's side of the long-running dispute.

    Police said the arrests came after they made inspections at 2001 Odyssey, the Pink Pony and Gold Rush clubs, where three nude dancers and one patron violated the city's ordinance requiring a 6-foot separation between them.

    On Wednesday, County Judge James Dominguez ruled that the ordinance does not violate free speech protections in the Constitution.

    On Friday, County Judge Mark Wolfe also upheld the ordinance. Other county judges, who heard arguments in about 200 cases as a panel last year, are expected to issue their decisions soon.

    Tampa driver charged in bicyclist’s death

    TAMPA -- Police have charged a Tampa man with leaving the scene of an accident in which a bicyclist was killed Thursday night.

    Tampa police said a vehicle driven by 32-year-old Ronald King of 3610 W Rogers Ave. struck a man riding a bicycle across Dale Mabry Highway at Wisconsin Avenue about 11:30 p.m.

    King fled the scene, police said. He was arrested a few blocks away near Gandy Boulevard.

    The bicyclist, whose name has not been released, died at Tampa General Hospital.

    King is being held in jail on $7,500 bail.

    Worker injured when bag of rocks hits his head

    ST. PETERSBURG -- A 50-pound bag of crushed rocks fell on the head of a worker in a construction hole near Lake Maggiore on Friday morning, temporarily knocking him unconscious.

    Rodelpho Cerda, 44, sustained only minor injuries in the incident but was taken to Bayfront Medical Center after complaining of slight numbness in his extremities.

    The site at 4015 Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) St. N, directly across from the Lake Maggiore Baptist Church, is going to be a sewage lift station. The bag came loose from a crane and fell about 10 feet onto Cerda, Fire Department spokesman Lt. Chris Bengivengo said. It happened about 11:30 a.m.

    Taxi company files suit against cabbies

    TAMPA -- A local taxi company being sued by cab drivers has filed its own lawsuit against two of those drivers, seeking at least $5-million in damages.

    Gulf Coast Transportation Inc. and its general manager, Nancy Castellano, filed the lawsuit Friday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court against John Bailey and Frank Dunn. The suit contends that Bailey and Dunn defamed the company and Castellano, and interfered with their business.

    Dunn and Bailey are among 26 cabbies who filed a lawsuit Jan. 10 against Gulf Coast, which operates more than half the cabs in Hillsborough.

    The cabbies claim that Gulf Coast treats drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. That deprives them of minimum wages, unemployment compensation, health benefits and Social Security.

    Sheriff seeks suspect in two sexual batteries

    The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is asking for help finding a man wanted in connection with two sexual attacks on women.

    It has issued arrest warrants for Michael Antonio McNeair, 22, of 1702 E Osborne Ave. in Tampa. He faces two counts of sexual battery, burglary and armed burglary.

    The offenses occurred in October 1999 and December 2000 in the neighborhood of Sligh Avenue and 56th Street, according to sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder. In both cases, the suspect entered the house of a female and sexually battered her. In one instance, he was armed with a knife.

    Anyone with information about McNeair's whereabouts can call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or CrimeStoppers at (800) 873-8477.

    Hillsborough authorities call man’s death homicide

    Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies found a man's body Friday evening and are investigating his death as a homicide.

    Deputies were called about 7:30 p.m. to the Kramer Mobile Home Park at 17620 U.S. 301 S, near the Manatee County line. Spokesman Rod Reder did not say who called deputies.

    The man they found died of blunt trauma to the upper torso, Reder said. The victim's identity has not been released.

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