A Florida elementary school has agreed to stop serving Mountain Dew to students before they take state assessment tests after parents complained.
Creel Elementary School in Melbourne was serving students trail mix and about three tablespoons of the Mountain Dew before administering the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test each day.
Critics say giving students the sugary caffeine-laden drink could cause them to crash in from a sugar high in the middle of a test that is used in high-stakes educational decisions.
"She said every morning, they had Mountain Dew," grandmother Martha Thorp said her 10-year-old granddaughter told her.
Creel Principal Kathryn Eward told Florida Today that the practice is about 10 years old. She says it began after she read a Phi delta Kappa study about its positive impact on students’ energy levels.
Thorp, who was an educator locally for 20 years, said she never heard of schools giving soda to kids.
"To me, it's a poor precedent," she said. "We're setting for young children that they should be hyped up before a test."
"I don't believe that anyone but the parent should be able to give permission for that type of drink to be given to a child," she added.
Thorp contacted local media, which got the attention of Brevard Public schools officials.
"Once that was brought to our attention, we eliminated that practice," Brevard Public Schools Spokeswoman Michelle Irwin said. "We've advised Creel Elementary to only provide water as a beverage."
"She felt that it was a professional practice and implemented it," Irwin said of Eward. "Since then, there's been new information (about what's best for students)."
When an Afghanistan war veteran returned to his Florida home to find two ex-convicts had moved into his house and changed the locks, he never imagined he’d have to enter into a lengthy legal battle to get them out.
U.S. Army Spc. Michael Sharkey and his wife Danielle live in Wahiawa, Hawaii, where he is currently stationed. The couple also owns in a home in New Port Richey, Fla., where they intend to return next month.
Sharkey says a couple, Julio Ortiz and his girlfriend Fatima Cardoso, broke into his house, changed the locks and refuse to leave.
When he called authorities, the Pasco County Sheriff's department informed the Sharkeys they have no legal grounds to evict the squatters.
Ortiz, 42, told a local news channel that Sharkey gave him permission to live in the house and that they had a verbal agreement that he would make repairs to the home in exchange for rent-free housing.
Sharkey and his housesitter Lisa Pettus say Ortiz is lying.
Pettus, who was left in charge of the unfinished home while the family lived in Hawaii, says Ortiz was hired as a handyman and was never given permission to live in the house.
Police refuse to throw Ortiz out of the house saying it’s a civil matter.
“I work hard, long hours, and these people never had permission to live in my home,” Sharkey told WFLA. “They should be thrown out.”
Both Ortiz and Cardoso have extensive rap sheets. Ortiz served a combined 12 years behind bars in New Jersey for robbery, drug dealing on school property and carjacking, the Daily Mail reported.
Cardoso has served more than two years on drug charges and has been arrested seven times on drug charges since 2011, according to WFLA.
“They are criminals,” Sharkey said. “I am serving my country, and they have more rights to my home than I do.”
A 43-year-old Florida man died after he saved his two dogs from a house fire, when they ran back inside and he chased them.
Marvin Jerry Chapman initially escaped the fire unharmed Friday night but ran back into the burning mobile home to save his dachshunds.
The fire started around 7 p.m. Friday, according to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue.
Neighbors said they heard Chapman yell “Fire” and several called 911.
Witnesses say two men dragged Chapman out of the home, but he went back in for the dogs, Peanut and Princess.
“He was able to get one dog in the rear of the trailer, break a window and throw that dog out,” Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles told the Sun Sentinel.
But 4-year-old Peanut ran back into the house. The body of the other dog, 10-year-old Princess, was found under a bed.
The house was engulfed in flames by the time fire fighters arrived.
Chapman sustained critical burns and died at Jackson Memorial Hospital Saturday morning.
“He would give up his life as he did for what he loved,” said a tearful relative, Jackie Cardenas.
Champan lived in the home for 19 years with his wife, Doris, who was at work at the time of the fire.
“My daughter is devastated,” said mother-in-law Betty Wood. “In an instant she lost everything, her husband, her dogs, her home.”
“Jerry used to say, ‘We don't have much, but this is our little circle right here,’” she added. “He risked his life for his babies, and now it's all gone.”
The family is trying to raise funds for a funeral on GoFundMe.
“Your love and support is more than any money can ever buy ... With any donations, it will help for funeral costs and to help Doris rebuild her life with out her honeybun and her babies,” the donation page says.
The fire is currently being investigated by Broward Sheriff's fire marshal bureau and the state fire marshal.
Investigators have discovered that a Florida teacher who confessed to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy left another school six years ago after they investigated her for comments she made about an eighth grade student.
Jennifer Fitcher, 29, was recently arrested for having sex with a 17-year-old student dozens of times in the back of her pickup truck in Lakeland, Florida. In this case, the boy’s parents made the shocking discovery.
"The mother thought there was some suspicious activity with her son disappearing at the early morning hours," said Sgt. Gary Gross to the NY Daily News. "She started looking at his text messages and noticed he was conversing with two different females. At that point, he called the teacher. She admitted that they had been in love and that they had been having sex."
After being arrested, Fitcher told authorities that she had, at one point, become pregnant with the teen’s child, but decided to have an abortion.
Shockingly, the teacher’s history of inappropriate behavior with underage students doesn’t end there. Back in 2008, Fitcher left an Orange County school after they launched an investigation following comments she reportedly made about an eighth grade student. According to reports, Fitcher had confessed to another teacher that the student, “makes me melt into a puddle with those eyes,” and that she had recently had a sex dream about him.
"Oh my goodness, it was a goooood dream!" Fitcher reportedly told her colleague.
Another couple has now come forward saying they have proof that their son has had inappropriate conversations with Fitcher. That couple says they were able to connect the dots when they saw Fitcher’s mug shot on the news after she was arrested.
Sgt. Gross says that he would definitely consider Fitcher to be a sexual predator but cannot yet say if she has actually had sex with any other students.
"I would classify her as a sexual predator based on how she used aliases and lured this guy in," said Gross. "We think there could be other victims and we encourage them to come forward."
Fitcher has been charged with six counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
A lucky cat jumped three stories from a burning building on Tuesday and survived.
When firefighters answered a call at an apartment building in Celebration, Fla., they found the cat on the third floor (video below).
Firefighters broke a window in hopes of coaxing the kitty to their ladder, but the cat refused to go with them.
“When we broke the glass the cat jumped and tried to scale on the side of the wall,” Daniel McAvoy, Deputy Chief of the Osceola County Fire Rescue, told ABC News (video below).
“It caught a ledge as it went down running and ended up going down to the ground and was fine,” added McAvoy. “Cats almost always fall to their feet and that’s exactly what happened here."
“We are thankful the cat just had burnt paws and minor scratches,” Josue Alicea, roommate of the cat’s owner, told Bay News 9.
The fire in the apartment building was apparently caused by a lightning strike. The fire started in the attic and spread throughout the building.
Fortunately, all the residents managed to escape the fire.
A Plant City woman was caught on surveillance footage stealing a donation jar from a Bravo Supermarket checkout counter this past Tuesday. The money was supposed to be given to a young girl with Lupus.
The video shows the woman and a young girl at the checkout counter. The woman looks around the store to make sure no one is watching, then prompts the girl to put the jar in their shopping cart. Then, they quickly hide the jar under shopping bags.
Mildred Diaz, whose 15-year-old daughter was meant to receive the money, said she hopes the woman gets caught.
"She is not only stealing from my daughter,” Diaz said, “she's stealing from millions of people who have Lupus that count on donations.”
Despite the loss, Diaz encouraged people to attend a Lupus fundraiser on May 4 at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa to help others battling the disease.
Anyone with information regarding the case should contact the Plant City Police Department.
Here is the ultimate example of no good deed going unpunished.
Retired Marine Ralph Tackett was sitting in his home on Monday morning when he heard a car crash outside. He promptly ran out his door, hopped in his car and drove to the scene of the crash.
As he approached the wrecked silver Pontiac, three men hopped out of the car and said they needed a tire.
“A tire?” Tackett responded. “I think you need more than a tire.”
Then, one of the men inexplicably pulled out a gun and shot Tackett in the jaw.
“They didn’t ask for the car, didn’t ask him to get out or anything,” said Tackett’s wife, Sandy. “They just shot him.”
Tackett hit one of the men after being shot and then ran across the street back to his house. His wife says he was spitting teeth and blood everywhere when he came inside. He was taken to a hospital where surgeons removed the bullet from his jaw.
"They got the bullet out, he's got three plates in his jaw, three titanium plates and he's going to need more surgeries," Sandy Tackett said.
Tackett, a father of two, is still in shock over what happened.
"He said, 'I just can't believe it, I'm not going to go out and help anybody anymore'” Sandy said. “He says, 'I thought I was doing the right thing' and instead he says 'I get shot.’”
Police are still searching for the three men involved in the shooting. Officials have asked anyone with information about the crime to call Crimestoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
Florida woman Desiree Taylor was arrested Monday after she walked into a Publix grocery store without pants on and stole two boxes of wine.
The 35-year-old walked into the Ocala store with only a T-shirt and flip flops, barely turning heads. She then allegedly proceeded to steal $42 worth of boxed wine.
When the store manager attempted to stop Taylor, she took a swing at him and ran away.
Taylor was later arrested, for the second time in two months, and charged with disorderly conduct and petty theft.
In a previous case, the woman was charged with battery of an officer.
Taylor is currently being held on $1,000 bond.
The unusual thief was caught just one week after a different Florida woman was filmed at a St Petersburg McDonald’s wearing only a pair of underwear.
The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill to allow citizens to arm themselves without a gun permit in the event of a natural disaster.
Anyone with no criminal record would be able to carry a gun without a permit during a crisis situation or evacuation procedures for a natural disaster, like a hurricane or wildfire, according to a bill passed Friday by the House.
The House voted 80-36, sending the bill to the state Senate. The Senate is preparing to put the measure to a vote and get the bill on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk by the end of the month.
The National Rifle Association backed the bill, but law-enforcement lobbyists and the Florida Sheriffs Association are against the measure.
"We don't want to kill the bill; we want to clarify it," said Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford.
Rutherford says the bill doesn’t clearly state what constitutes an evacuation.
"Does it mean when you're moving out, when you check into your hotel?" he asked.
Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, warned that arming people in high-stress situations is dangerous.
"They will face a different reality," Torres said. "You are talking about introducing concealed firearms into an environment that is already teeming with tension. I hope that tragedy will not be a byproduct of our decision here today."
The measure comes as climatologists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies noted the global average temperature for March 2014 is the fourth warmest since record-keeping began in 1880.
Warmer water means stronger storms. The temperature of water is highly influential on the speed, size, and intensity of a hurricane. Warm temperatures heat up the surface of the ocean, increasing evaporation and giving a hurricane the water vapor it feeds on.
At the urging of animal advocates, Delray Beach officials are considering an ordinance that would stop dogs from puppy mills being sold in the city. However, any such rule may have an unintended effect that is opposed by many local residents, according to the Sun-Sentinel. It could hurt the iconic Waggs to Riches—the city’s only dog/puppy store.
The controversial puppy-mill ban, which is the hottest new movement in animal rights, was discussed at Delray City Hall Tuesday night, with both elected officials and residents expressing conflicting emotions. They agreed puppy mills are horrible, but many also expressed the belief that having a pet boutique in the downtown area of the business district adds positive vibes and value.
"I have a problem with penalizing a business that has been here for the period it has," said Mayor Cary Glickstein, stating that Waggs to Riches has “become part of the Delray Beach downtown community."
Dozens of residents shared stories of how purchases from the store, which has called downtown home for eight years, changed their lives, the Sun-Sentinel reports. "We have bought two puppies from Waggs to Riches, and we have had nothing but fantastic things from both puppies," said resident Michael Gooch.
Some shoppers say an onslaught of health problems begins after a while, leading them to believe their new pets came from puppy mills, reports the Sun-Sentinel.
People pop in to pet the tiny designer dogs and often end up shelling out thousands to take them home. But most pet stores that sell puppies admit that the real business benefit from the presence of puppies is the sale of glitzy items that adorn them or make live comfortable for beloved pets. The Sun-Sentinel found that many who just come in to pet the pups pick up custom accessories, stock up on rhinestone collars and leashes and discover they can’t do without a designer doggy stroller.
The city commissioners finally agreed to consider creating a law banning the retail sale of puppy mill-pets, but they still don't want to see the city's only puppy store's sales suffer--especially since it has not been a source of complaints. So they decided they will look at other bans; such as one recently passed in nearby Parkland.
They also want to consider what practices Waggs to Riches follows when making its puppy purchases. If the shop complies with rules set by various agencies that monitor the sale of animals, several commissioners said they would consider grandfathering the store into any rules passed.
LEGAL ISSUES INTERFERE WITH IDEALISM
Although the city has not changed any business rules, all the negative talk about the store has thrown the moral battle into the legal arena . Waggs to Riches’ owner Kim Curler has filed a lawsuit against Delray residents Mindy Farber and Stacy Aberle, who are animal activists, and Commissioner Petrolia, who has publicly supported passage of a ban . Kurler’s complaint contends their comments on social media and protests outside her shop have caused sales to plummet and she is seeking damages for libel.
The complaint says Curler sells "vaccinated, micro-chipped, hand-selected" animals from licensed breeders. But Farber and Aberle counter that Curler has purchased dogs from puppy mills. They refer to Palm Beach Animal Care & Control records, which contain required reporting information by Curler about the source of the animals she sells. Farber said three of the breeders from which Curler reported purchasing dogs are on The Humane Society's national, 'Horrible 100' list. These are puppy-mill breeders that violate U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections.
From a legal perspective, whether the shop sells dogs from so-called "puppy mills" is a moot point, reports the Sentinel, because Delray currently doesn't have rules against doing so.
The viability of the lawsuit is still being determined. The defendants have filed to have the suit dismissed, saying they haven't slandered the business.
LOS ANGELES, SAN DIEGO PUPPY-MILL PET BANS – THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY
The City of Los Angeles passed a mill-bred puppy ban for pet shops in November 2012, effective July 1, 2013, touted as an example of overwhelming success in stopping the sale of puppy-mill puppies. But the General Manager of the Animal Services Department admits publicly that there has thus far been no real enforcement of the ban. It appears that pet stores are basically ignoring it. Activists confirm that pet shop owners now claim they are” not selling” but are “adopting” puppies to the public for a price.
California legislators developed very strict and detailed State laws governing pet shops; however, with passage of bans, many stores have subsequently opted out of obtaining pet shop permits and claim to have merely become pet-supply outlets, officials report.
Activists are also now lamenting the predictable fact that anyone wishing to buy a purebred puppy can merely order it over the Internet, and many of those puppy brokers work directly with puppy mills or backyard breeders. Tragically, sales over the Internet are unregulated; thus the animals do not have the protection of the recordkeeping/reporting and inspection that is required of pet shops under the States’ jurisdiction.
The only pet store that sold puppies in the city of San Diego closed his doors and moved to the adjacent city which does not have a ban and is close enough to attract San Diego city residents. Owner David Salinas has filed a federal lawsuit against San Diego and animal activists involved in picketing his store and making accusations about the condition of the animals. He is also alleging violations of his Constitutional rights.
Source: Sun Sentinel