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  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
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    Around the state

    Compiled from Times wires

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001


    Florida's population center still lies in Polk County

    A spot in a citrus grove in southern Polk County is Florida's population center, U.S. census officials said Tuesday after reviewing the count for 2000.

    The population center -- or "centroid" in census parlance -- is in the community of Lake Buffum, beside swampy Buffum Lake about 11/2 miles north of U.S. 98, between Fort Meade and Frostproof.

    HelenJane Armstrong, director of the Map and Imagery Library at the University of Florida, said the center is about half a mile southwest of the old railroad stop of Wolfolk.

    Willie Shaffer, chief clerk for the county's road maintenance office in Frostproof, said Lake Buffum is a community of just a few homes. "They are so small they don't even have a post office."

    Each decade, after the U.S. Census Bureau tabulates the census, it calculates the center of population for both the United States and the individual states, said Frederick Broome, a geographer with the bureau.

    The center of Florida was determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of Florida would balance perfectly if all 15,982,378 residents were of identical weight.

    June Nogle, a demographer at the Bureau and Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida, said Florida's center of population has been in Polk County since the 1960s. "It has wiggled about a bit, but it has not really changed."

    Robber of armored car driver makes a key error

    LAKELAND -- A gunman marched into a busy Kmart Tuesday afternoon, robbed an armored car driver, wounded a store employee as he made his getaway and fired shots at an off-duty Osceola County deputy who chased him.

    For his effort, the thief netted a a money bag full of keys but no cash, said Polk County sheriff's Capt. W.J. Martin.

    "That must have just ruined his day when he looked inside that bag," Martin said. "He opened it and there wasn't a single dime in there."

    The robber, described as black, 6 feet tall, weighing 160 and last seen wearing long, black jean shorts, a red shirt, black high tops and a baseball cap, fled in a maroon Nissan Pathfinder. He was still being sought Tuesday.

    Authorities said he entered the store at 4717 S Florida Ave., confronted Loomis Fargo driver Andrew Masiahdas, 47, and demanded his money bag and gun. Masiahdas gave him both and the man fled through the garden shop and ordered manager John Pearcy to step aside, Martin said. Although Pearcy obeyed, the man shot him in the collarbone.

    Pearcy, 58, was in stable condition Tuesday night at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said.

    The off-duty sheriff's deputy, who was leaving a restaurant and saw the Pathfinder run a red light, gave chase in his pickup truck. He broke it off when the Pathfinder's driver fired a handgun, hitting the pickup three times.

    Killer of spring breakers gets life term, no parole

    DAYTONA BEACH -- A man convicted of the stabbing deaths of two Maryland spring breakers was sentenced to life in prison without parole Tuesday.

    Jonathan Trull, 30, was found guilty last month on two counts of first-degree murder in the April 16, 1998 deaths of Kevans Hall and Matthew Wichita, both of Columbia, Md.

    Circuit Judge Shawn Briese postponed until April 24 sentencing Trull on an attempted murder charge for attacking another Maryland spring breaker, Seth Qubeck.

    Trull declined to address the court before his sentencing.

    Trull's brothers, Christopher, 27, and Joshua, 20, await sentencing for their roles in the two-minute melee that left Hall and Wichita dead and a friend seriously wounded. They were convicted of aggravated assault.

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