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    Around the state

    By Compiled from Times wires

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000


    Mote Marine shark expert Perry Gilbert dies at 87

    SARASOTA -- Perry Gilbert, an internationally known shark expert who helped make Mote Marine Laboratory a leading research center, died at his Siesta Key home Sunday of heart failure. He was 87.

    Gilbert became director of Sarasota's Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in 1967 after establishing his reputation at Cornell University. Cape Haze became Mote Marine Lab, and Gilbert helped bring other prominent researchers there.

    In 1991, Congress designated Mote as the National Center for Shark Research.

    "No one has made a bigger contribution to the prestige of this area on a worldwide basis than Perry Gilbert," said Robert Hueter, director of the shark center.

    Gilbert and other scientists spent years working with the Navy to develop a shark repellent. While they didn't find one that would work on all species, their new understanding of sharks expanded scientific knowledge of the fearsome predator.

    Gilbert wrote two books on sharks and published more than 150 papers.

    He retired as director of the laboratory in 1978.

    McCollum letter cites "mysterious liberal groups'

    ORLANDO -- Republican Bill McCollum is accusing "Hollywood rich liberals" and "liberal, Washington-based groups" of trying to defeat his bid for the U.S. Senate.

    In a letter sent to potential donors recently, McCollum said, "Mysterious liberal groups from outside Florida have launched a number of personal and vicious attack ads on me. These liberal, Washington-based groups are spending millions of dollars to defeat me."

    The letter said the groups are interested in defeating McCollum to wrest control of the Senate from "common-sense conservatives and hand it over to the tax-and-spend liberals of the past."

    Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for McCollum's Democratic opponent, Bill Nelson, described the letter as "mean-spirited" and said it was an attempt by McCollum to appeal to far-right voters. "I think to send a letter like that is to suggest that Bill Nelson is associated with individuals that the national Republican Party tries to paint as evil," McLaughlin said.

    Earlier this month, McCollum sent a letter to supporters asking for contributions to help him fight off efforts by President Bill Clinton to keep him from getting elected.

    Groups say power plant emissions killing Floridians

    TALLAHASSEE -- Noxious fumes from coal- and oil-fired power plants lead to the early deaths of about 1,740 people and trigger more than 30,800 asthma attacks in Florida each year, a coalition of environmental groups says.

    The Florida Clean Power Coalition on Tuesday released a report, "Death, Disease & Dirty Power," based on research by Abt Associates, a firm the government uses frequently to assess the health benefits of Environmental Protection Agency regulations, the coalition of groups said.

    Holly Binns of the Florida Public Interest Research Group, a member of the coalition, said cleaning up the power plants would save more than twice as many lives as seat belts do.

    The report said reducing power plant pollution by 75 percent would prevent 1,050 Florida deaths and 17,300 asthma attacks a year.

    Fire ruins Jacksonville church; arson suspected

    JACKSONVILLE -- Authorities were investigating a fire believed to be arson that destroyed a Haitian church a month after a minister began receiving threats.

    Investigators said the fire had broken out in several places, and the scene smelled of gasoline when about two dozen firefighters responded about 12:40 a.m. Wednesday to the First Haitian Church of the Nazarene. They were unable to contain the fire before it burned most of the building's interior.

    "Everything is destroyed," said the Rev. Max Jeroy. He said the 60 members of the Creole-speaking parish must find another place to worship.

    Jeroy said the father of a homeless Haitian family had become hostile toward him in August when he asked them to leave his home, where they had been staying since June. Jeroy said the father on Sept. 10 threatened to kill him and burn his house and the church.

    The threats were reported to police, he said.

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