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    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001


    Firefighter injured at fire outside Ybor City

    TAMPA -- A firefighter was injured early Monday while responding to a two-alarm blaze just outside Ybor City, officials said.

    Tampa Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Terry Jones said firefighter J.C. Collins, 49, hurt his shoulder while responding to the 4 a.m. fire at 3212 E Third Ave., at the business of Smith & Casady Insulation.

    Collins, a 23-year veteran, was trying to open an overhead door inside the business when he was injured, Jones said. He was treated at Memorial Hospital and released. Damage to the $800,000 building was estimated to be $175,000. The cause is still under investigation.

    Boy has different form of meningitis than girl

    TAMPA -- Tests have shown that a 10-year-old Alafia Elementary School boy has a different form of meningitis than a fellow student, a 6-year-old girl who was hospitalized several weeks ago. The ruling means the two children did not infect one another, said Hillsborough district spokesman Mark Hart. Hart said the fourth-grader, who was admitted Friday to St. Joseph's Hospital, has been diagnosed with viral meningitis. He has been released from the hospital. On May 9, a kindergartener at the school was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a serious infection of the brain lining and spinal cord. The girl has been released from Brandon Regional Hospital.

    Bacterial meningitis is usually more severe than the viral type, according to the U.S. Center Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can cause brain damage, hearing loss and learning disabilities.

    Parents of children at Alafia have been advised to watch their children for symptoms including fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck.

    Woman kidnapped in Ybor City, assaulted

    TAMPA -- A Tampa woman was kidnapped from Ybor City, choked until she was unconscious and sexually assaulted. The woman, whose name is being withheld because of the nature of the crime, was found by a passer-by and taken to University Community Hospital, where she remains in stable condition. Tampa Police spokesman Joe Durkin said the incident happened at 5 a.m. Saturday. The 21-year-old woman was sitting in her car at 22nd Street and 14th Avenue, Durkin said, when an unknown man exited the car in front of her and entered her car. The man then forced the woman to drive to the 11000 block of N Central Avenue, Durkin said, where he beat her and raped her. The suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, with a medium complexion, light colored eyes and short hair.

    Speaker to discuss the racial divide

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Citizens United for Shared Prosperity will hold a town hall meeting from 7 to 9 tonight at the St. Petersburg Times auditorium, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Omali Yeshitela, founder of the Uhuru Movement and CUSP chairman, will speak on "Bridging the Racial Divide." There also will be speakers from local unions and the NAACP. For information, call CUSP at 357-7982.

    Thousands stolen from church safe

    BROOKSVILLE -- About $12,000 was stolen from a safe in a break-in at Grace Presbyterian Church over the weekend. The Rev. Chet Okopski said the congregation has been hurt both financially and spiritually by the break-in, the likes of which the church had never before experienced. "When it's your church, it's a deeper sense of violation," he said. "A church is a place of trust, and when someone comes and does something like this, it really rains on your parade. It's really like someone shot your dog." According to reports, someone smashed an outside glass door to get inside the church at 8375 Spring Hill Drive late Sunday or early Monday. The church has no alarm. Once inside, the thief or thieves smashed another locked glass door leading to the sanctuary.

    Graduation times and places in Hillsborough

    Here is a list of upcoming public high school graduation ceremonies in Hillsborough County. Valedictorians and salutatorians of each school will be recognized in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times.

    FRIDAY: 4 p.m.: Durant, USF Sun Dome; East Bay, Florida State Fair Expo Hall.

    8 p.m.: Wharton, USF Sun Dome.

    MAY 29: 4 p.m: Blake, Ice Palace Arena; Chamberlain, USF Sun Dome; Plant City, Florida State Fair Expo Hall.

    8 p.m.: Leto, Florida State Fair Expo Hall; Robinson, Ice Palace Arena; Sickles, USF Sun Dome.

    MAY 30: 4 p.m.: Armwood, USF Sun Dome; Brandon, Florida State Fair Expo Hall; Jefferson, Ice Palace Arena.

    8 p.m.: Bloomingdale, USF Sun Dome; Hillsborough, Florida State Fair Expo Hall; Plant, Ice Palace Arena.

    MAY 31: 4 p.m.: Gaither, USF Sun Dome; Tampa Bay Tech, Florida State Fair Expo Hall.

    8 p.m.: King, USF Sun Dome; Riverview, Florida State Fair Expo Hall.

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