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By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 12, 2000
INVERNESS -- A federal appeals court on Monday agreed that overseas absentee ballots received between Election Day and Nov. 17 were valid. A three-judge panel from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul was correct this weekend when he ruled that elections officers statewide were correct to count the ballots. Two groups of voters filed lawsuits earlier this month challenging the validity of the ballots. Citrus County's elections supervisor, Susan Gill, and its canvassing board were listed as defendants in one suit.
SPRING HILL -- A woman's purse was snatched in a shopping center parking lot Sunday. According to a Hernando County sheriff's report, a woman was leaving work at Professional Billing Associates of Tampa Bay, 12555 Spring Hill Drive in the Niagara Square Plaza, when two men grabbed her purse. They ran west. The woman was unhurt but was unable to give authorities a detailed description of the men. Another worker in the plaza said he saw a white, late-80s style Pontiac Bonneville just before the reported time of the crime, 10 p.m., the report said.
TARPON SPRINGS -- The Pinellas County School District is sponsoring a financial aid seminar from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at East Lake High School, 1300 Silver Eagle Drive.
The seminar will cover the Florida Bright Futures scholarship program, how to organize a financial aid search, types of financial aid, government grants and loans, completion of the free application for federal student aid, understanding the student aid report, college financial aid packaging, the Pinellas County Education Foundation scholarship catalog, scholarship essays and scams. The seminar is open to students and families from any school. Attendees should arrive before 7 p.m. to pick up handouts used in the seminar.
PALM HARBOR -- Personal financial adviser David Lough will give a free seminar on "Planning Your Legacy" from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Palm Harbor Senior Activity Center, 1500 16th St. Call (727) 771-6000 for information.
CLEARWATER -- The Pinellas County Hazardous Materials team responded to a leak at the Clearwater Beach roundabout Monday morning, when chlorine seeped from the underground mechanical rooms beneath the large oval fountain in the roundabout's center.
Two contractors doing routine maintenance reported the leak in the fountain's chlorine-injection system at about 10 a.m., after they became sick from a plume of chlorine fumes. The two men, whose names were not available, were treated at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater for minor injuries from exposure to the chlorine, which can irritate the eyes and respiratory system, said Pete Huffman, the Clearwater Fire Department's assistant training chief.
Part of the roundabout's outside lane was closed to traffic while hazardous materials team members donned bubble suits and entered the fountain's underground vaults to ventilate the chlorine fumes. The scene was cleared at about 12:40 p.m.
TAMPA -- Sheriff's deputies are searching for four suspects in connection with the death of a 20-year-old man early Monday.
Deputies said Rene Yacinthe was outside his residence at the Summer Wind apartment complex at 1407 E 127th Ave. in North Tampa on Monday shortly after midnight when he was confronted by the men in the north parking lot.
Yacinthe died at the scene from what deputies would describe only as "trauma to the upper torso."
Descriptions of two of the men said they were Jamaican and in their 20s. One had long hair, combed back in dreadlocks, and a mustache. The other man had an Afro hairstyle and a black goatee.
The men were described as driving a 1987 to 1989 two-door gray Acura with tinted windows.
TAMPA -- A U.S. Army recruiting captain is recovering at home after he fell 40 feet Saturday during a rappelling demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center.
Capt. Jerry Johnson of Tampa was discharged from Tampa General Hospital on Sunday morning, said Ron Horvath, spokesman for the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion.
Johnson lost his grip while rappelling in a stunt show and plunged feet-first to the concrete floor.
TAMPA -- A 42-year-old Tampa man was killed Sunday night as he tried to cross N Dale Mabry Highway on foot.
The incident happened shortly after 9 p.m. in the 2300 block of the highway. Police said the man, identified as Ronald W. Lang of 13711 Wilkes Drive, was walking across the northbound lanes of the highway when he was struck by a car driven by Darvis Antwon Hunt of Tampa.
Lang was pronounced dead on scene. Hunt was not charged.
TAMPA -- Sheriff's deputies have released the name of the man killed in the parking lot of the Night Gallery Bottle Club on Sunday night and charged another man in his death.
Deputies said 34-year-old Robert James Davis of 12202 N 22nd St. was outside the club at 10103 U.S. 92 about 6:30 p.m. Sunday when he began arguing with the manager of a club next door.
The manager, Christopher Stapleton, 29, of 11209 Thomas St. in Mango, shot Davis once in the head with a .38-caliber pistol, deputies said.
Stapleton told deputies he feared Davis was reaching for a gun under the seat of his pickup truck when he fired a warning shot at him.
Davis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Stapleton was charged with manslaughter and remained in jail Monday night without bail.
DOVER -- A semitrailer truck driver for the U.S. Postal Service was badly beaten Monday night by two men who may have stolen packages and mail from his truck, authorities said.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Rod Reder said 58-year-old Hernan Pacheco had his semi backed up to a loading area at the Dover postal station at 14170 E Martin Luther King Blvd. to get the truck filled with mail.
Pacheco had just closed the trailer doors about 6:30 p.m. and was walking around the truck when two men came up behind him, Reder said. The men covered Pacheco's head and began hitting him with their fists, knocking him to the ground. One man held Pacheco to the ground while the other went into the trailer of the truck. The two fled in an unknown direction, and Pacheco didn't manage to get a good look at either man, Reder said.
The Postal Service called in their own inspectors, who wouldn't release any details about the incident Monday night, including whether Pacheco's attackers managed to steal any mail. The inspectors will investigate the incident, Reder said, but the Sheriff's Office will try to find the attackers. If found, the men face federal charges for tampering with U.S. mail, Reder said, in addition to any charges for the assault.
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