Regional News: Ga Officer Issues 800 Driving & Texting Citations

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Gov. Robert Bentley is praising progress in integrating the racially segregated Greek system at the University of Alabama. Bentley says it's a "positive first step" that a few traditionally white sororities have accepted minorities as members.

ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) -- Farmers in 50 Alabama counties are eligible for federal emergency loans because of the unusually wet summer. The Anniston Star reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the assistance at the state's request. Hassey Brooks of the Alabama Department of Agriculture says cotton, soybeans, hay and peanuts were among the biggest losses for Alabama farmers this year.

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) -- A judge sentenced a Dothan man to 10 years in prison for sending a nude photograph of himself to a teenage girl. The Dothan Eagle reports that 49-year-old Franklin Whaples pleaded guilty to a single felony count of transmitting obscene material to a minor and three counts of possessing child pornography.

4 people convicted in tax refund scheme
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) -- Five people could spend years in prison for being part of a scheme to file fake income tax returns.
U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh announced four defendants were convicted Thursday, while a fifth defendant pleaded guilty during the trial.
Wilson Calle, 55, and Angel Done, 54, both of New York City, as well as Blaine Johnston, 62, of Marianna were convicted of conspiring to defraud the federal government.
Wilfredo Rodriguez, 53, of Miami, Florida, was convicted of filing a false federal income tax return. Diana Gonzalez, 63, of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the federal government.
The federal government alleged the group tried to get $19 million in tax refunds between 2008 and 2009.
The convictions could result in maximum sentences of five to 10 years.

UF administrators discuss future of online degrees
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- University of Florida's online bachelor's degree program will start off with a small number of students and it will operate in the red for the first few years but ramp up to 24,100 students and millions in profits within 10 years.
The Gainesville Sun reports university administrators told the Board of Trustees this week that budget projections show the online program operating in the red for the first four years, being self-sufficient in the seventh year and having a profit margin of $14.5 million by the 10th year.
UF was given a legislative mandate to create an online baccalaureate program. Its goal is to offer the same academic curriculum as the on-campus courses, at 75 percent of the cost of regular tuition.

Ga. officer gives nearly 800 tickets for texting
ATLANTA (AP) -- If you text and drive in Gwinnett County, a police officer is looking to ticket you.
Police Officer Jessie Myers told WSB-TV that he has issued nearly 800 tickets to motorists for driving while typing on cell phones. He expects to reach 1,000 tickets by the end of the year.
Myers said it's easiest to catch people in the act at traffic lights. Typing at a red light is illegal if the car is on a roadway.
He also said that Georgia law forbids drivers from using Web-based mapping applications on their phones, too.

ATLANTA (AP) -- Atlanta-based Home Depot is eliminating the limited medical insurance it has offered to its many part-time employees. The change means those workers will either seek coverage from new public insurance marketplaces that open Oct. 1 or face a penalty.

Ga. Sea Turtle Center returning 5 turtles to ocean
JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. (AP) -- Coastal Georgia's hospital for sick and injured sea turtles is returning another batch of its recovered patients to their ocean home.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center was scheduled to release five turtles Saturday at Great Dunes Park on the beach at Jekyll Island.
Four of the turtles came to the center for treatment over the summer. The fifth, a Kemp's Ridley sea turtle named Stevie, spent more than a year being treated by veterinarians after being struck by a boat propeller.
Dr. Terry Norton, the Sea Turtle Center's director and chief veterinarian, says returning five turtles to the wild at once will be a moment to remember. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center opened on Jekyll Island in 2007.