Panhandle shore restoration proposed
Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment have proposed $58 million in restoration projects along the state’s oil spill-affected Gulf Coast for public review and comment.
The projects would be paid out of a $100 million pot of money from BP from an April 2011 agreement that is overseen by the trustees. Florida has already approved and begun work on seven projects, including several boat ramps, dune restoration and shorebird and sea turtle habitat restoration.
The new proposed projects include $20 million for a fisheries hatchery in Escambia County; artificial reef creation and restoration off the Panhandle coast; shoreline restoration in Escambia County; and oyster and scallop restoration in several Panhandle counties.
School to allow gay-straight club
A Florida school board will allow the formation of a gay-straight alliance club at middle school a day after it was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Lake County Schools agreed to a consent order issued by a federal judge, allowing the club to be established at Carver Middle School. The school is northwest of Orlando.
The ACLU sued the school board on Wednesday on behalf of eighth-grader Bayli Silberstein, who had been trying since last November to get approval to form the club. The lawsuit said repeated delays by the school board in granting approval was tantamount to a denial.
Future of St. Petersburg’s Pier in limbo
At the end of May, St. Petersburg’s landmark downtown Pier — a 40-year-old structure with a building that looks like an inverted, pyramid — will close, leaving hundreds of shop employees jobless. What will happen after is the most contentious debate to hit normally sleepy St. Pete in decades.
On Thursday, the city council postponed a crucial vote on the Pier — whether to pay $1.5 million to an architect for the next design phase of the proposed replacement —to review a 400-page report from the architects.
City officials say the current structure is unsound and have voted to replace it with a $50 million modernist structure dubbed “The Lens.” A majority of the city council and some residents aim for demolition of the current Pier by 2014. But fans of the structure, including many environmentalists and citizens worried about spending taxpayer money, have argued that the issue of closing the structure and building a new one should be put to voters.
Transformers theme park to open
Universal Orlando says its new, 3-D theme park ride based on the Transformers toy brand will open June 30.
According to a news release, the ride is an interactive, “larger than life battle” between the Autobots and Decepticons. It uses flight simulator technology, along with wind, heat and smoke to make the riders feel immersed in the experience.
The theme park plastered an 80-foot Transformers display on the side of an Orlando office building this week to drum up excitement for the opening.
Man guilty of daughter’s starvation
A Polk County jury found 30-year-old Chauncey Gardner guilty Wednesday of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter, for starving his infant daughter to death. He faces up to 120 years in prison.
Gardner’s five-month-old baby, Chauntasia, was found dead Nov. 1, 2009. Gardner and the baby’s mother, Tivasha Logan, told detectives they were unaware that they had been feeding the baby an improper ratio of powdered formula to water.
The Lakeland Ledger reports that Gardner has 10 children from six different women and helped take care of his children when he was able to do so and not in jail or prison. Logan is serving a life sentence in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter of a child.
Post staff and wire services.