Scott: Miami port dredging means jobs statewide
MIAMI (AP) - Gov. Rick Scott says the dredging operation at Miami's port will enable it to handle larger cargo ships passing through a widened Panama Canal and produce thousands of jobs statewide.
Scott and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez were among the officials who toured by boat the dredge Terrapin Island. The dredge is deepening the port's main channel to 50 feet in the next 18 months, before the larger Panama Canal opens.
Scott and Gimenez say the PortMiami improvements will eventually create 33,000 jobs across the state.
The state is contributing $112 million and Miami-Dade County $108 million for the deepening project.
The plan also calls for several environmental mitigation projects, including restoration of 16 acres of sea grass in Biscayne Bay and creation of nine acres of artificial reef.
Officials: Encouraging sign for 24 stranded whales
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla. (AP) - National wildlife officials say 24 whales believed to be part of a pod found stranded in the Everglades have not been located again by air, a potentially encouraging sign they have moved farther offshore.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stranding coordinator Blair Mase says a Coast Guard air search Friday also found a group of seven whales swimming in 12 to 14 feet of water south of where they were located a day before.
Two other whales were seen floating in shallow water near the shore of Plover Key.
A fishing guide discovered several beached whales and dozens of others in the waters off a remote section of the Everglades Tuesday. Six were found dead the next day and four others were euthanized.
Coast Guard rescues 2 men after boat sinks
ELLIOT KEY, Fla. (AP) - Two people are safe after the U.S. Coast Guard rescued them from the water after their boat sank.
A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Station Miami saw two flares off Elliot Key Thursday night. They arrived at the scene about 10 minutes later and found one person in the water and the other clinging to the mast of a sunken sailboat.
A Coast Guard rescue swimmer was lowered into the water and rescued both men.
Co-pilot Lt. Chris Branning says the men had flares, a VHF-radio, flashlights and were wearing life-jackets, which made the rescue much easier in pitch black conditions.
The men were taken to the Coast Guard station where they received medical attention.
No further details were immediately available.
GULF OIL SPILL-RESTORATION
Gulf gets more restoration projects from BP fund
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says coastal resiliency is important to President Barack Obama's climate action plan.
Jewell was at a national park outside New Orleans Friday to describe the latest round of efforts to help the Gulf Coast recover from the 2010 BP oil spill.
Money for the 44 projects is coming from a $1 billion fund BP created in 2011.
Of the projects, 16 have been added in Florida since a preliminary announcement last spring. The new projects raise Florida's total fund allocation from about $73 million to more than $105 million, and boost the Gulf-wide total to $627 million.
More than $300 million will remain in the fund once final approval is granted to the new projects.
1 killed, 1 injured in Orlando hit-and-run
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a teenager is dead and another is in critical condition after a car hit the bicycle they were riding near Orlando.
The Florida Highway Patrol says the hit-and-run crash happened around 3:20 a.m. Friday, ejecting both teens from the bike. A black Mercedes fled the scene.
According to FHP, the bicycle was not in a crosswalk as it crossed State Road 50.
Authorities are searching for a black Mercedes, which likely has extensive front-end and windshield damage. Troopers are also asking anyone who witnessed the crash to contact them.
FHP says 17-year-old Melanie Luque died at the scene and 18-year-old Travis Luque Exposito was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Woman at center of infamous killing set free
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) - A woman who was convicted of assisting in her mother's killing has left prison after serving 15 years.
Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jessica Cary says Valessa Robinson was released from a South Florida prison early Friday.
She was 15 when she helped boyfriend Adam Davis and Jon Whispel kill Vicki Robinson in the family's upscale Tampa home in 1998.
They had taken LSD the night of the murder. They stole Vicki Robinson's van and credit cards and dumped her body. Shortly after, they set off on a cross-country escape and were captured in Texas.
Valessa Robinson was convicted of third-degree murder. Prosecutors said her mother had planned to send the teen to a Christian boarding school for troubled girls.
Davis is on death row and Whispel remains in prison.
BACKYARD CHICKENS-AUTISTIC BOY
Fla. city ends program allowing backyard chickens
(Information in the following story is from: Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com )
DEBARY, Fla. (AP) - The father of an autistic boy says he'll be contacting his attorney after the DeBary City Council voted to end a pilot program that allows residents to keep chickens in their backyards.
Councilmembers ended the program with a 3-2 vote Wednesday.
Joseph Hart says he will fight to keep the chickens, which he says have helped his 3-year-old son J.J. make tremendous progress. A physician recommended getting the chickens to help with therapy for the boy.
Councilmember Chris Carson says he'd like to keep the program going for the boy. But he voted the end the pilot program, saying he didn't want to create opportunities for people to turn chickens and their eggs into a business.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the program ends on Dec. 31.
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