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    Player charged in post-game fight

    By Compiled from Ledger and Times wires

    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 30, 2000

    PORT ORANGE -- A 15-year-old Pop Warner football player was charged with battery after allegedly injuring a police officer who was trying to stop a post-game fight.

    More charges may be filed Monday against other players involved in the on-field fight between Port Orange and West Orange teams, police spokesman Cmdr. Mike Sheridan said.

    Jason Lemont Carter, 15, who played for West Orange, was charged Thursday with juvenile felony battery on a law enforcement officer for allegedly throwing a traffic cone at the officer and punching him in the face. The officer suffered minor injuries.

    Port Orange won the Sept. 23 game with a touchdown in overtime. According to witnesses, West Orange players then went to the Port Orange bench, where players exchanged words and began fighting. Parents and coaches also poured onto the field, but detectives reviewing videotapes taken by spectators determined that the adults were trying to stop the fight, not participate.

    The teams are made up of 14- and 15-year-olds from Port Orange, south of Daytona Beach, and Winter Garden, near Orlando.

    Also Thursday, the Mid-Florida Pop Warner Football Association ordered the players involved in the fight and their parents and coaches to attend a sportsmanship seminar next week. The association also kicked out one player, suspended two others and placed six coaches on probation for the rest of the season. All nine of those sanctioned were on the West Orange team.

    Fire at plant forces evacuations

    FROSTPROOF -- A large area of this southeast Polk County town was evacuated Friday when fire destroyed a fertilizer plant, creating clouds of heavy black smoke.

    No one was injured at the Ben Hill Griffin Inc. plant, but firefighters worried that 800 tons of ammonium nitrate on the site could explode.

    Polk County Deputy Fire Chief Terry Hancock said the presence of other materials, such as potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate and sulfate of ammonia, added to the potential danger. As a result, firefighters could do little more than watch the plant burn.

    An employee said 23 of the about 35 people employed at the plant were there when the fire broke out about 10:30 a.m. The cause was believed to be spontaneous combustion in a bin of sludge, a residue from sewage treatment plants that is used as filler in fertilizer.

    A school and a day care center were among the facilities evacuated. Jill Weinishke, an information officer for Polk County, said about 300 homes were evacuated. Most residents were able to return by early evening.

    Weinishke estimated the plant loss at $3-million. Ben Hill Griffin III, the owner, said the plant was insured and would be rebuilt.

    Official charged with selling vote

    NAPLES -- Collier County Commission Chairman Tim Constantine has been charged with accepting improper gifts in exchange for his vote on a proposal that would have benefited a failed golf development deal.

    Constantine was released from jail on $2,500 bond after his arrest Thursday. He said in a taped radio statement that he was innocent, but that he planned to resign.

    Constantine was charged with one count of racketeering, which carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, and three counts of unlawful compensation, which carry up to five years in prison on each count.

    Prosecutors also filed additional charges against Commissioner John Norris on Thursday. He was arrested in June on one count of unlawful compensation, but now faces the same charges as Constantine.

    Investigators said Constantine and Norris abused their office by accepting loans, money and a round of golf worth $3,500 from investors in the failed Stadium Naples. In exchange, prosecutors said, they voted in favor of a measure to give $1-million in county taxes to pay for tournaments at the proposed golf stadium. The project collapsed in July 1997.

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