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Regional News: Ballet Vandals; Fla Child Abuse, Murder; Nesting Hawks Agitated; Turtle Eggs Theft

By: ap
By: ap

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Montgomery Ballet halted practices for the weekend as ballet members cleaned up glass from rocks that were thrown at the windows of its studio on Eastern Boulevard.
Office Manager Sarah-Ellen Thompson said police are investigating the vandalism, and the ballet has requested extra surveillance by officers.
She estimates that the crime occurred sometime between 6 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday. She tells The Montgomery Advertiser that she's not sure why anyone would damage the studio.
Nicole Miller, a teacher with the ballet and member for six seasons, said the most trouble they've had at the location were some cars being broken into a few years ago.
The ballet hopes to be able to resume normal operations by Monday.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Democrat Parker Griffith and Republican Robert Bentley are both 71, both doctors and both running for governor. But Griffith is emphasizing their differences in his race for governor. Griffith says he would repeal the state immigration law that Bentley signed and replace it with a law that doesn't put so many regulations on businesses.

DOUBLE SPRINGS, Ala. (AP) -- Federal officials have discovered white-nose syndrome in two bats collected in Bankhead National Forest. The bats tested positive for the illness in Lawrence County. The fungal growth has caused the death of nearly six million bats. There are no known risks to humans.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A southwest Florida mother who police say starved and tortured her eight children has been given a $120,000 bail.
Jamie Marie Hicks, 43, was charged Thursday with two counts of aggravated child abuse and two counts of child neglect. She appeared in court Saturday.
Tampa police say Hicks hit and choked the children, held their heads under water and withheld food from them for days.
The Tampa Bay Times reports16-year-old twin boys were malnourished and hospitalized after weighing in at 88 and 94 pounds.
The twins' stepfather, Vernon Courtney Lovell, was charged with two counts of child neglect.
Police expect more charges as medical reports come back on the younger children.
State child welfare officials have taken custody of the children and are investigating.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A Tampa Bay mother has been charged with first-degree murder after authorities say she fatally stabbed her 4-year-old son.
St. Petersburg police say Tasha Trotter has not given a statement and it's unclear why she allegedly killed her son.
Authorities responded to an apartment building Friday night and found Joseph Artis outside with multiple stab wounds. The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The boy had been staying with his grandmother, who had legal custody.
Trotter had visitation rights and stopped by the apartment Friday night. At some point, police say she grabbed a knife from the kitchen and began stabbing the boy.
Officials say Trotter has a history of mental health issues. She was taken to Pinellas County Jail.

PORT ORANGE, Fla. (AP) -- Six people have been attacked outside a central Florida library this week by a pair of hawks nesting in a nearby tree.
County officials are advising library patrons to use umbrellas as shields from the two red-shouldered hawks. County spokesman Dave Byron said three patrons of Port Orange Regional Library were scratched on the head, but no one was hospitalized.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the hawks were trying to protect what appears to be three babies in the nest.
Byron said the hawks are a federally protected species and the nest can't be removed without a special permit.
The library will provide escorts and umbrellas for the next few weeks until the babies are able to fly out of the nest and their parents are less protective.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A South Florida man has pleaded guilty to poaching more than 300 sea turtle eggs.
The U.S. Attorney's Office reports that 52-year-old Kenneth Cornelius Coleman pleaded guilty Friday to one count of unlawfully transporting endangered sea turtle eggs. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Authorities say Coleman took 316 sea turtle eggs from nests in Juno Beach over two days last July. The poaching was discovered by employees at a sea turtle rescue center, who were able to rebury 219 eggs found in canvas bags on the beach. Another 97 eggs discovered by police the next day were also reburied.
Witnesses identified the poacher as Coleman. He previously spent 30 months in jail for transporting endangered sea turtle eggs in 2010.

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- The University System of Georgia is banning tobacco products on state-run properties starting Oct. 1.
The Times of Gainesville reports the ban will forbid people from smoking in their own vehicles, which is allowed on some campuses.
The new rule will require changes. For example, the University of North Georgia now allows tobacco products on nonresidential campuses if the user remains in a car.
UNG Acting Vice President for Student Affairs Janet Marling said she expects there will be clarifications on whether designated smoking areas will be allowed. She said the rule could require lifestyle changes for students who live on campus.

Man's encounter with boy prompts search for truck
WOODSTOCK, Ga. (AP) -- Sheriff's deputies in a north Georgia county are on the lookout for a suspect who drove a black Dodge pickup after a child reported that he tried to lure him into the vehicle.
Cherokee County sheriff's officials said the 12-year-old boy told deputies that he got off his school bus Wednesday afternoon, and the man approached him and said the child's father was in the hospital and he would take him there.
Instead, the boy said he needed to talk to his mother first and ran to his home. Authorities say the pickup then left the subdivision in Woodstock, north of Atlanta.
On Friday, investigators were able to obtain images from the school bus's interior camera and a Dodge pickup can be seen parked near the bus stop that day.


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