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Serving Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Poinciana, Harmony, Narcoossee, BVL 117TH YEAR THURSDAY EDITION 50 CENTS MARCH 21, 2013 Medium home prices surge on record low interest rates... Page C-1HomefinderPHS soccer star signs with Alabama A&M... Page A-13Sports For the latest activities, events and classes, see...Page B-3 We ekend We atherPa r tly cloudy 20% chance of rain Osceola County still waiting for gun manufacturer to pull triggerOsceola County has a message for Colts Manufacturing, the legendary revolver maker and a business partner in bringing a manufacturing operation to the area: Get the lead out, because we have an itchy trigger finger. See page A-3 Index County news r f n t tb bf f b f n t nnff Police newsTwo juveniles arrested for six car burglariesOsceola County Sheriffs deputies arrested Thomas Sonderman and Michael Morris, both 17, and charged them with six counts of armed burglary and three counts each of grand theft and petit theft. See page A-9 CommunityWould you vote to approve legalizing medical marijuana if it was put on a ballot? No. Yes. I would need more information. I have no opinion. Vote at www.around osceola.com Results from the March 14 Question of the week: Do you feel comfortable boarding a plane knowing small knives, baseball bats and hockey sticks will again be allowed on board? No. 76.9% Yes. 17.3% Im not sure. 4.8% I dont like to fly. 0% By Ken Jackson Staff W riter Osceola County Corrections Officer Reeshemah Taylors actions to foil a potentially-deadly escape attempt from the Osceola County Jail in 2009 has earned accolades around the state and country. Her actions to disarm an inmate who got hold of another officers gun saw her travel to Texas to accept the American Correctional Associations 2011 Medal of Valor, to Tallahassee to take the Florida Attorney Generals Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award, and most recently she received the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor in Washington from Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder in February. Now theres finally time for local government to give Taylor her due. At Mondays meeting of the Board of Osceola County Commissioners, the board delivered a proclamation declaring March 18, 2013 as Reeshemah Taylor Day in Osceola County. Commissioners Brandon Arrington, John Quiones and Chairman Frank Attkission presented her the proclamation in honor of her valor as well as a framed copy of the front page of the Feb. 23 Osceola News-Gazette that had the story of her trip to Washington. Taylor said that the attention rattles her a bit, even going on four years after the incident. Im at ease with it, but when you go through something like that, you really want to try to forget what happened, she said Monday. Im appreciative of all of it though. On June 22, 2009, inmate Angel Santiago, a Puerto Rican gang member who already was serving consecutive life sentences and was in the Kissimmee jail pending trial on another armed robbery charge, attacked Taylor with another officers fully-loaded 9 millimeter handgun and held it to her head. Using her corrections training and a little guile and backbone honed from nine years in the U.S. Army, Taylor managed to get the gun pointed away from her, kneed Santiago in the groin and put him in a headlock. Celebrated Osceola Corrections officer honored with special day Photo/Osceola CountyOsceola County Corrections Officer Reeshemah Taylor, center, with her son, Jared, 9, was honored by the Osceola Commission with a proclamation on Monday for her heroic actions in 2009. March 18, 2013, was declared as Reeshemah Taylor Day. See Officer, page A-8 By Brian McBride Editor Four people, including two from Kissimmee and St. Cloud, were killed over the weekend in four different Osceola and Orange county crashes, the Florida Highway Patrol reported. Three of the victims were killed on Sunday, while the fourth was pronounced dead on Friday. The most recent crash happened on Sunday at about 10:30 p.m., when Keri Ann Fraley, 35, of Silver Springs, was driving a 2004 Nissan Maxima northbound on U.S. Highway 441, north of State Road 60, with her children, Korbin Fraley, 9 and Aiden Keogh, 3. According to Florida Highway Patrol reports, Keri Ann crossed into the oncoming lane in an attempt to pass another vehicle, but failed to see a 1996 semi-tractor trailer driven by Nathan Butler, 54, of Oakland Park. The car hit the truck head-on, killing Keri Ann at the scene. Both of t he children, who were wearing seat belts, were not injured, but were taken to a hospital as a precaution. Butler was not injured. The crash remains under investigation. Earlier Sunday, at about 6:50 p.m., Brianni Lundy, 20, of Four killed in weekend crashes See Crashes, page A-8 By Fallan Patterson For the News-Gazette One of the men accused of taking part in para-military training with plans to attack Orlando City Hall is withdrawing his guilty plea, alleging he was poorly represented by the Orange-Osceola Public Defenders Office. Kent Ryan McLellan claims Assistant Public Defender Migdalia Perez did not adequately review his case before pressuring him to enter into a plea deal rather than proceed with his wishes for a jury trial, according to a motion filed Suspect linked to skinhead group withdraws guilty plea See Suspect, page A-11News-Gazette Photo/ A ndrew S ullivanProfessional and Technical High School (PATHS) Advanced P lacement human geography t eacher Stephanie M iddleton r eacts with s hock a fter her a nnouncement as the 2014 O sceola County School District t eacher of t he y ear. T he award, which was announced on Friday night during a ceremony at t he Gaylord P alms Convention Center, places M iddleton in c ontention for t he state of F lorida t eacher of the y ear title.Elated educator
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Thursday, March 21, 2013 NEWS-GAZETTE, Page A3 By Ken Jackson Staff W riter Osceola County has a message for Colts Manufacturing, the legendary revolver maker and a business partner in bringig a manufacturing operation to the area: Get the lead out, because we have an itchy trigger finger. Colts projected to bring approximately 63 engineering and manufacturing jobs, paying an average salary of $45,000, starting in 2012. The deal was announced as part of Colts 175th anniversary in late 2011. Going on 16 months after the two sides brokered a deal and found funding to renovate a Shady Lane building, used formerly by the Osceola County Council on Aging, it still sits empty, employing no one. The Board of Osceola County Commissioners made mention of this at a recent meeting, directing county staff to research the possibility of contracting with other businesses interested in utilizing the facility should Colt, which is currently headquartered in Hartford, Conn., default on its contract and not bring its jobs. Original contract language stated that Colts has penalties due to the state and county (up to $50,000 due to Osceola) if the new Osceola County still waiting for gun manufacturer to pull trigger News-Gazette Photo/Andrew SullivanOsceola County government officials are still waiting for the Colt Manufacturing company to occupy a building in Kissimmee they renovated after making a deal with the firm 16 months ago. See Colt, page A-11 032113.TNG 030713.TNG www.centerstatebank.com We Believe In You!FREE Business and Personal CheckingMember FDIC Nancy Morrisey Branch Manager KissimmeeKissimmee407-847-3800St. Cloud407-957-3800Southchase407-438-1140Poinciana407-944-3800Ashton407-891-8396092012.TNG Starting At: $ 1,459.00 Kissimmee 321-697-54621770 Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy. Kissimmee, FL 34744 Orlando 407-277-79771351 N. Goldenrod Rd. Orlando, FL 32807 032113.TNG(Based on a standard 10x10) GRANITE*Select Colors OnlyStarting At:$2799 InstalledSq.Ft. Kitchen Cabinets INTEREST 0% Financing Available for 12 months*FREE GLASS TILES* FOR BACKSPLASHWith Cabinet And Granite Purchase Over $5,000.00 *Selected Styles Only Porcelain Tiles $1.49 S/fFrom Mosaic Starting From$19.99 eachShower Wall Remodeling Up to 88 sq. Starting from $14999Includes: Tiles, Flush Cap, Cenefas, Grout, Mastic and Shower Floor Floor Tiles from 39 sq. ft.
Page A4, Editorial off targetTo the Editor: Your Saturday March 16 editorial regarding Celebration High School athletics makes for an interesting read. On many levels it is simply off target. First off to infer that I should have more important matters to attend to is way off base. Acquiring physicians to do sports physicals is as much about risk management, student success and student safety as anything else. We need to do all we can to help students be successful in the classroom, on the stage, and in athletics. At various times any one of those can rise to the top of the priority list. Schools and school districts are fluid not static organizations, and based on what might be an urgent need that day will take priority. Arranging for physicals is no different than helping students secure instruments at the last minute for a performance when theirs have been lost, damaged or stolen, or helping disabled students get a motorized wheelchair. Ive done that too, or should I have told those students, no sorry cant help; the Osceola News Gazette thinks I have more important matters to attend to. I dont think so. To slam Laura Rhinehart is unfair. Dr. Rhinehart came into a dysfunctional school that was a perennial D school. She turned it around and made it into a high school that earned back to back As, and a B. On top of that, she launched a second successful international baccalaureate (IB) high school program in our school district as principal. This year, Celebration High School will have its first IB graduating class. Laura Rhinehart is an exceptional educational leader, who has made Celebration High School into a stellar academic institution. As an educational leader, Laura Rhinehart sets an example others would be well served to emulate. Admittedly, Coach Meierkort has had a rocky start at Celebration High School, which is to be expected. Any high school that would hire a football coach who for the last 18 years has been a head college football coach is treading into unknown territory, so is the coach. Both sides will need time to adjust to each other. Ed Meierkort is a good man who knew what he was getting himself into when he accepted the position at Celebration High School. Meanwhile he is all in. As for problems with fund raising, he has accepted responsibility for any problems and been investigated. The investigation showed he was not a good administrator with a fund raising program that he was unfamiliar with. So Dr. Rhinehart hires Coach Ed, and his team plays hard but struggles on the field going 0-10. So where are the victories? Coach Ed and Dr. Rhinehart know these are student athletes. The emphasis is on student. Here is what was conspicuously not mentioned in the editorial; the Celebration High School 2012 football team had the highest team GPA in class 7A in the state of Florida. Id say thats a pretty good start for a guy who has never worked in a High School. Your editorial states that Coach Meierkort is not interested in doing much of anything at the high school except coaching football. That is patently irresponsible of the Osceola News Gazette Editorial staff to print, considering the Celebration High School football teams academic accomplishments in being the top academic football team statewide. As your editorial points out, coaches are expected to be teachers first, and then a coach. Based on the teams academic success, Coach Ed is obviously teaching his players the right priorities. If your editorial reported on the positives as well as the areas in need of improvement it would have been a far more accurate picture of the Celebration High School Football program. So just like Celebration High School Athletics is in need of improvement, so is the Osceola News Gazette Editorial staff in as much or greater need of improvement in telling the entire story. Meanwhile, I still think the Osceola News Gazette is a good local newspaper, just like I think Coach Ed is good for kids, and that Laura Rhinehart is a terrific Principal. Now lets all get better and keep improving. Jay Wheeler Osceola County School Board Chairman Better funding method neededTo the editor: Florida court clerks and comptrollers have operated under extreme budget deficits for the last several years, leading to fewer employees, longer lines, slower transaction times and backlogs of court filings. While we have made every effort to ensure easy and efficient access to our services, it has become an issue that must be addressed. In this session of the Legislature, Floridas court clerks and comptrollers are proposing changes that, if adopted, would provide sustainable, stable and adequate funding within our offices. For more than 150 years, we were funded by the fines, fees and service charges we imposed and collected. A constitutional change -adopted in 1998 and implemented in 2004 -required the state to fund the state courts system. And in 2009, the Legislature required court clerks to be funded through the general appropriations process and at the same time diverted (for other state purposes) the revenues previously used to fund court clerks. Now, clerks and comptrollers are asking lawmakers to switch to a continuing appropriation budget that would cap clerks budgets at a level set by the Legislature and allow for an upward or downward adjustment of 3 percent without legislative approval. A budget increase would be warranted if, for example, there were new judges requiring additional clerk staff, health care costs rose significantly or the clerks office workload increased due to uncontrollable circumstances. As a solution, the clerks are proposing that the first $80 of the civil filing fee for trial and appellate proceedings go to the Clerks of the Court Trust Fund instead of to the states General Revenue Fund as it does now. Clerks also want the Legislature to eliminate the 8 percent service fee the state imposed in 2009 to administer this same trust fund. Clerks now send revenue they collect from court operations to the court trust fund and then the state sends the money back to the clerks to fund their operations, charging a service fee to handle the money. This restructuring of funding is the best way to create stable and sustainable budgets for court clerks and comptrollers offices across the state, while still allowing these offices to be accountable to the Legislature. Clerks also would return any excess revenue they would generate on the court administration side to the state. Clerks and comptrollers also want the Legislature to establish a formula to annually fund an appropriation to help deal with the backlog of foreclosure cases. Additional funding was made available to the clerks in only two of the last three fiscal years. In summary, clerks and comptrollers want the following: an exemption from the 8 percent service fee on the trust fund; to keep the first $80 in civil trial and appellate filing fees; additional funding annually to handle foreclosures; and a budget based on a continuing appropriation. Call your state legislator on this issue and return your clerks office to a more reasonable way of budgeting and doing business. Armando R. Ramirez Osceola County Clerk of the Circuit Court Y our view OSCEOLA NEWS-GAZETTE Publisher/Ad Director TOM KIRK Editor BRIAN McBRIDE Sports Editor RICK PEDONE Lifestyles Editor PETER COVINO Chief Photographer ANDREW SULLIVAN Production Manager STEVE KRAUS Accounting Manager LOUISE McCLEAN Circulation Manager KATHY BECKHAM Staff Writer KEN JACKSON(USPS Number 513540) (ISSN 1060-1244) Published each Thursday and Saturday for $52 per year, by Sun Publications of Florida. All rights reserved. Periodicals postage paid at Kissimmee, FL. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Osceola News-Gazette, 108 Church St., Kissimmee, FL 34741.The Osceola News-Gazette is published by Sun Publications, a division of Independent Publications. Phone 407-846-7600. Fax 407-846-8516. Email at email@example.com. The Osceola News-Gazette is on the World Wide Web at: www.aroundosceola.com.Year 117 No. 23 O PINION O PINION
Thursday, March 21, 2013 NEWS-GAZETTE, Page A5 032113.TNG
Page A6, 022813.TNG EASTER SUNDAY IS MARCH 31, 2013Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Featuring local churches and houses of worship.John 11:25-26 To Place Your Ad Call407-846-7600 Deadline: 3/23/12 at 3:00 pm $185 per block Single Block Size 2.667x3.75 Includes: Thursday, March 28th Osceola News-Gazette Saturday, March 30th Osceola News-Gazette Includes One Color -PurpleAroundOsceola.com Online... All The Time! www.AroundOsceola.com
Thursday, March 21, 2013 NEWS-GAZETTE, Page A7Friday, March 15, All-Star Boxing returned to the Kissimmee Civic Center, with the title bout pitting Orlando Cruz versus Aalan Marti nez for the World Boxing Organizations Latin Featherweight Title. crowd in the Civic Center into a frenzy in the early rounds, as Cruz put up a barrage of punches behind a wily defense. In the fourth round Martinez, who had been holding close on the score cards, started to come apart, as Cruz landed several com binations. Cruzs in-ring taunts also played a role, distracting his to get into the head of the 30-year-old Martinez. In the sixth round it all fell apart for Martinez, who was repeatedly knocked down by www.aroundosceola.com.News-Gazette photos by Andrew Sullivan
Page A8, Miami, was driving a 1997 GMC SUV northbound on Floridas Turnpike at milemarker 194. Lundy lost control of the vehicle when one of the tires separated, patrol reports stated. The SUV traveled onto the shoulder of the turnpike and overturned multipl e times, ejecting passenger Timbrina Thomas, 20, of Miami Gardens. Thomas, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead by the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiners Office. Lundy and another passenger, Samyra Wilson, 20, of Miami Gardens, suffered serious and minor injuries, respectively. Both were wearing seat belts, reports stated. At about 12:29 a.m. on Sunday in Orange County, Edgardo Muniz, 46, of Kissimmee, was killed when his 2010 Jeep Wrangler caught fire in a crash. According to patrol reports, Billie Dolezal, 49, of New Port Richey, was driving a 2006 semi tractortrailer eastbound on Sand Lake Road, approaching the intersection of John Young Parkway behind Muniz. Dolezal failed to stop and slammed into the back of Munizs car, reports stated. The impact created a chain reaction with Muniz hitting the back of a 2004 Nissan Xterra in the center lane, which then hit the back of a 2011 Honda Civic. The tractor-trailer and Munizs car caught fire, reports stated. Muniz was pronounced dead by the medical examiners office. Dolezal suffered minor injuries. The people in the other two vehicles involved suffered injuries. Charges are pending. On Friday, a St. Cloud man driving a motorcycle was killed after hitting a tree. Robert Wilson, 45, of St. Cloud, was driving a motorcycle southbound on Nova Road at about 7:15 p.m. For unknown reasons, he failed to navigate a curve, left the road and hit a tree, patrol reports s aid. He was pronounced dead by the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiners Office. The crash is under investigation. Backup soon came to effectively end the escape attempt and return order to the jail. She said the flight or flight instinct kicked in when it happened, helped along by a little bit of improvisation. More of it was my personality anyway, but the techniques I used to take him down was corrections training, Taylor said. I knew his background, that he was serving two life terms and I knew that I wasnt ready to die that day. I just did what I needed to do. After a video showing Taylor receiving her Medal of Valor from the vice president was shown, commissioners commended Taylor for her actions. We feel great pride having you in our community displaying your great heroism, Quiones said. Attkisson lauded her commitment to upholding the law. Our job number 1 is to provide for the public safety, he said. I commend her and the training, expertise and leadership of our corrections department. My family is safer tonight because of that. In a 2011 interview, Osceola County Jail Chief Sherry Johnson said of Taylor, If I could clone her, that would be amazing. I think it speaks volumes to her fiber. The incident still adds to her reputation at the jail among the inmates, she said. When they ask me I say, That wasnt me, that was my twin sister. I dont want to talk to them about it, Taylor said. You dont get personal with the inmates, but they know. Taylor, 40, who is coming up her 10-year anniversary at the jail, said that its events and honors like Mondays proclamation keep the incident fresh in her memory, and sometimes thats not a great thing. It comes up sometimes, but not as much as before. I used to think about it all the time. You never know when something like that is going to come up again, so its in the back of my mind as something to watch out for.OfficerContinued from Page A-1 CrashesContinued from Page A-1 Contact Brian McBride at 321-402-0436 or by email at bmcbride@osceolanews gazette.com 032113.TNG Coming to your area... 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Thursday, March 21, 2013 NEWS-GAZETTE, Page A9 Most of us know what rabies is, but its not something we think about often. Thanks to public health education, mandatory pet vaccinations and the wildlife oral rabies vaccination program, rabies cases in the U.S. have dropped dramatically in the past 15 years. But unfortunately this severe disease is still reported across the country, making rabies a continued public health threat. What do you need to know to keep your family, pets and community safe?Controlling rabies casesAlthough steps to control pet and wildlife rabies cases have reduced the risk to humans, rabies is still a threat because if its not treated immediately, it has the highest case-fatality rate of any infectious disease. Transmitte d by the saliva of an infected animal, rabies can be prevented by prompt medical care. If exposure is suspected, contact your health care professional immediately. Continued diligence in vaccination programs for pets, livestock and wildlife is needed to lower the threat of rabies. Make sure to keep your pets up to date on their immunizations and get involved in your communitys efforts in controlling the disease in the wildlife population. Controlling and preventing rabies requires several proactive efforts. First, pet owners must understand the need for pets to get vaccinated on a regular basis. Second, seek immediate treatment if pets are bitten by an infected animal. Finally, efforts to decrease the disease among wild animals must be made. Approximately 92 percent of all animal rabies cases in the United States occur in wildlife, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Animals that are most likely to be infected with rabies in the U.S. include raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Public health programs, such as those that vaccinate wildlife against rabies, help reduce rabies exposure and the spread of the disease to pets, livestock and people.Wildlife treatment effortsManaging rabies in the wildlife population is a complex task. Fifteen years ago the Federal government created a program that uses the first and only oral rabies vaccine for wildlife, RABORAL V-RG, to reduce this infectious disease. Oral rabies vaccines are provided to wild animals in the form of consumable baits, explains Dr. Joanne Maki, veterinary public health technical director for Merial, maker of RABORAL V-RG. These baits are placed strategically throughout the country where wildlife at risk of exposure to rabies will eat them. This approach has prevented rabies transmission in wild animals, particularly raccoons, coyote and foxes.Vaccinating wildlife is a comprehensive approach that helps keep pets, livestock and people safe from rabies as well. Courtesy of BrandpointThink rabies is a thing of the past? Well, think againA pair of transient teens were arrested on Tuesday in connection with a string of St. Cloud car burglaries. Osceola County Sheriffs deputies a rrested Thomas Sonderman and Michael Morris, both 17, and charged them with six counts of armed burglary and three counts each of grand theft and petit theft. The investigation began over the weekend when deputies took nine reports of car burglaries in the area of Old Hickory Tree Road, Dean Street, Kelley Street and 10th Street in St. Cloud. Detectives obtained information, which led them to identify Sonderman and Morris as suspects. Early Tuesday, deputies responded to the Packard Avenue neighborhood in reference to several car burglaries in progress. When they arrived, they located Sonderman and Morris in the area and also recovered victims stolen property. The two juveniles were brought in for questioning and cooperated with the investigation. Based on their statements and the evidence recovered, Sonderman and Morris were booked into the Orange County Juvenile Detention Center. The investigation is ongoing with additional charges pending.31 arrested at Saturday checkpointSaturdays Safety and DUI Sobriety Checkpoint, operated by deputies from the Osceola County Sheriffs Office, netted 31 arrests for driving under the influence and other charges. Deputies conducted the stop on U.S. Highway 192 from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., and during t he f ive-hour safety operation deputies issued 143 citations and 61 written warnings. Seven of the 31 arrests were for DUI, and the other arrests were for outstanding warrants, traffic and drug charges. Police newsTwo juveniles arrested for 6 car burglariesA handful of roads and streets in the Poinciana area are scheduled for resurfacing from Monday through April 5 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Those streets are: San Lorenzo Road, from Marigold Avenue northeast to Marigold Avenue; Valnera Court, from San Lorenzo Road northwest to San Lorenzo Road; Pisa Lane, from Valnera Court north to end of the cul-de-sac; Turin Way, from Pisa Lane west to end of the cul-de-sac; Estrada Lane, from San Remo Road west to end of the cul-de-sac; Madrid Drive, from San Remo Road west to San Remo Road; and Fresno Court, from San Remo Road west to San Remo Road Additionally in Osceola County, eastbound traffic on Osceola Parkway east of Buenaventura Boulevard will be diverted to the north side of Osceola Parkway for approximately a quarter of a mile to allow contracting crews for Toho Water Authority to relocate water and sewer for the upcoming road widening project. This will result in two-way traffic on the north side of the road for the next four to six weeks. There will be temporary lane closures but no road closures. Traffic delays can be expected. Schedules could vary according to weather and equipment related issues. For more information, call 407-742-0100 or email pio@ osceola.org.Road resurfacing projects set County 030713.SNG (407) 935-9977 1943 E Irlo Bronson Hwy. Kissimmee, FL 34744 032113.TNG CHEESESTEAK CHEESESTEAK FACTORY FACTORY BEST Cheesesteaks south of Philly! Come By And Check Out Our New Look! Great sandwiches and BIG salads. 032113.TNG
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Thursday, March 21, 2013 NEWS-GAZETTE, Page A11 jobs are not delivered within three years, or the end of 2014. C ommission C hairman Frank Attkisson admitted this week that county leaders are getting a bit apprehensive as more time passes since the 2011 announcement, which featured Gov. Rick Scott attending wearing Western garb. We have an agreement, and we wont consider breaking it, but I dont want this to go another six months to the end of this year and us not have a backup contract, he said. Our job is to get jobs for citizens, and not to sit on real estate. The agreement was laden with incentives. The state provided $250,000 from the Governors Quick Action Closing Fund, and the county spent roughly $550,000, to renovate the building. Valencia College originally offered up $100,000 to design and start a specialized training program to provide Colt a local labor force. Weve done our commitment and fixed up the building, Attkisson said. At the unveiling, Colt said it would make additional capital investment in the building. The companys rent is $1 per year until 2016, when it will pay $108,000 annually. The facility was built with the firearm industry in mind; a firing range was built into it as an intended amenity. Attkisson said that despite the national gun debate sparked by the Newtown, Conn. school shooting in December, he has information that there are manufacturers in both Connecticut and Colorado that have expressed openness to hearing relocation proposals. You wont know until you shop it around, but if you built something for this, you should shop it to that industry, he said. County Manager Don Fisher acknowledged that the county is beginning to get apprehensive about the deal, but said the gun maker is still within the parameters of the deal. Theyre still in c ompliance with all state and county contracts, he said. Attkisson said the last thing he wants to see is the county maintaining empty buildings, spending money on upkeep and vandalism prevention. He pointed to the Shady Lane building, as well as the former home of Experience Kissimmee at the corner of U.S. Highway 192 and Bill Beck Boulevard. The National Senior Games Association was supposed to move into that building earlier this year only to see the organization delay the move after the county spent a small sum to make the building move-in ready. In this tough economy, the county needs to get the biggest bang for its buck, he said. If the county has real estate holdings, its in our best interest to make use of them, or sell, Attkisson said. on March 5. McLellan claims in the motion that Perez failed to give the Osceola County Clerk of Courts Office his new address, causing him to miss a hearing regarding a previous motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and that Perez barely spoke with him and rarely returned phone calls. The defendant avers that (his) desire to proceed to a jury trial was overcome by Ms. Perezs dire warnings and that the entry of his plea was not knowingly, voluntarily and freely made, the motion states. McLellan denied he was part of American Front, described in court documents as a militiastyle, anti-Semitic, skinhead organization and known domestic terrorist organization. Marcus Faella, whose Hollopaw property was listed in court documents as the organizations headquarters and training grounds, allegedly ran the organization. McLellan was arrested in May 2012 along with Faella and at least 11 other defendants, after an undercover government informant who had recorded conversations and training exercises went to law enforcement in fear for his life. In Oct. 2012, McLellan pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of paramilitary training participation, a third degree felony, and was sentenced to four years probation. However, eight of McLellans co-defendants have had their charges dropped by the Orange Osceola State Attorneys Office for lack of evidence. Two other co-defendants also pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Through his new attorney, Robert M. Edge, of St. Cloud, McLellan claims the case hinges solely on speech and activity occurring on private property which he maintains is legal. Ninth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jon B. Morgan will hear the case. Faella has pleaded not guilty to preparing for an inevitable race war against Central Floridas Jewish, immigrant and minority populations by allegedly training members of American Front in weapons handling, shooting techniques and hand-to-hand combat. According to court documents, Faella and his wife, Patricia Faella, who also was arrested, barricaded their Holopaw property with barbed wire fence and fortified entrenchments made of railroad timber and cement pilings. His arsenal included AK-47 assault rifles, 12-gauge shotguns, TEC-9 semiautomatic firearms and 9 mm pistols. During a two-year investigation of the organization, law enforcement uncovered evidence Faellas group considered themselves protector of the white race and planned an attack on Orlando City Hall as a way to increase their profile and recruit new members. Additionally, Faella allegedly asked American Front members such as McLellan to lure members of SHARPS (Skin Heads Against Racial Profiling) and REDS, another anti-racist skinhead group, to an undisclosed location to ambush them and put their teeth to the curb, a reference to violence portrayed in the movie American History X. Faellas trial is scheduled for April 1. SuspectContinued from Page A-1 Colt Continued from Page A-2 Contact Ken Jackson at 321-402-0435 or by email at kjackson@osceolanews gazette.com. 031413.TNG Celebrating our 12th Anniversary 2001-2013 Thank You For Your Loyal Patronage! 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Thursday, March 21, 2013 NEWS-GAZETTE, Page A13 By Rick Pedone Sports Editor Osceola boys water polo coach Trish Abell joked Tuesday that every time her team plays rival Gateway, it rains. If there is one tiny blip on the radar, I can tell you where it will be, she said. Gateway Coach Vonnie Kochensparger said thats true. It happens every year, she said. The coaches also agreed that the 20-minute rain delay during the third period of the boys match at the Osceola YMCA worked to the Kowboys advantage, resulting in Osceolas 7-6 overtime win that clinched the No. 2 seed at the district tournament next month. Osceolas Jorge Guiterrez got hot at the right time, scoring all three of his goals in the fourth quarter and overtime. His game winner came just 11 seconds into the extra period. The Kowboys, 5-5, were down three goals, 6-3, with 6:39 to play. Guiterrez scored to cut the lead to 6-4 and then Casey Raines closed the gap to one with 2:35 left. A minute later, Guiterrez scored the equalizer. Play like a Kowboy, are the instructions Abell gave to her team before the overtime. We just couldnt get anything going in the first half. I dont know what it was. I think the (rain delay) helped us. It gave us a chance to get together and talk about what we needed to do, to refocus. The Kowboys had the advantage in the fourth quarter and in the overtime because Gateway goalie Frankie Correa had to defend in the deep end of the pool, where he had to tread water. The opposing goal is in water only 4 feet deep, allowing the goalie to stand and increase his mobility. OHS won a coin toss before the overtime that decided which goal they would attack. Kochensparger said that her team became tentative in the last few minutes of the game after building the threegoal lead. We were playing too slow, like we didnt want to make a mistake, she said. We lost the momentum, and (Osceolas) kids played hard at the end. Because OHS and Gateway are the only teams that play water polo in Osceola County, both coaches said their annual meeting carries extra impact. Our young players learned a lot about what this game means, Abell said. They heard us talk about it, and they knew that it meant a lot to the coaches and to the four year players, like Casey and Manny (Serrano), and now they know for themselves what its like. It will help us be more prepared next time. Kochensparger said, It means a lot. We definitely dont like to lose to them, especially when we led the whole game, she said. But, after the Panthers started the season 0-5, they have made steady improvement. If you had told me before the season that wed have a 3-6 record at this point, the same as the girls, I would have taken that in a minute, she said. Brandon Hernandez scored three goals for Gateway, which holds the No. 3 seed at the district tournament next month at Lake Highland Prep. That means that Osceola and Gateway will square off in the district tournament semifinal round. Abell said she can give you the weather forecast for that match right now. We can tell you, without a doubt, that on April 16, at Lake Highland Prep, it will rain, Abell said with a smile. The girls match Tuesday was less dramatic, as OHS won 14-2. It was the Lady Kowboys sixth straight win over their rivals. Rose Donaldson scored four goals and Meg Clancy had four assists and four steals for OHS. Kendall Castillow had five steals and two blocks. Osceola, 8-3, is the No. 2 seed at the district tournament, and despite the loss, the Lady Panthers, 3-6, are the No. 3 seed. Our captains, Caitlyn Phelps and Logan Spurlock, led us to the win, and all of our girls contributed. We are playing well, Osceola Coach Rennie Adams said. With only 12 on the team this year we lack depth in our secondary, but what we have is an incredible group of young ladies both in and out of the water. Lake Nona is the No. 1 seed for both the boys and girls at the district tournament. Osceola rallies from three goals down to edge Panthers, 7-6 Estelle Esperance selects Alabama A&M for soccer Follow us on Twitte r www.twitter.com/OsceolaSport s Rain doesnt dampen Kowboys By J. Daniel Pearson For the News-Gazette The early-season flag football showdown Tuesday between Harmony and Gateway was first delayed by rain, then suspended after an injury to a Harmony player. With the score knotted at 7 in the third period, Harmonys Lily Loutfi went down at midfield after an apparent collision with a Gateway player. Loutfis body shook with spasms for several minutes and the game was delayed about 40 minutes until Loutfi could be transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center. Harmony Coach Paul Strauch left in the ambulance with her, and Gateway Coach Steve Robertson agreed to suspend the contest. Arrangements to finish the game were not completed Wednesday morning. Harmony Athletic Director Chuck Hitt said Wednesday that Loutfi was diagnosed with a concussion and she was held overnight for observation. She is the second Harmony athlete in as many months to suffer a concussion. Softball player Emily Fiorelli was briefly knocked out in February sliding into third base. She may be ready to return to action next week, Hitt said. Between the rain delay and the injury it was wild night, Robertson said. Obviously the most important thing is that our prayers go out to the Harmony player and her teammates. Stopping the game was the right thing to do. Things got off to a soggy start after a strong but short downpour delayed the start of the game by nearly 40 minutes. When things got started, Gateway jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when quarterback/safety Tiffany Charneco intercepted a Sage Leffew pass and returned it 11 yards to the Harmony 33. From there, Charneco directed a five-play drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ashley Collazo. Leffew would r eturn the favor two possessions later. Playing defensive back, she picked off a Charneco pass and returned it 22 yards to midfield. From there, she directed a game-tying, six-play scoring drive. Leffew did most Water polo showdown Injury halts flag football showdown at GatewayGateway quarterback Tiffany Charneco is under pressure from the Harmony defense during their game Tuesday. The contest was suspended in the third period, tied at 7.News-Gazette Photo/Andrew SullivanOsceolas Jorge Guiterrez fires in the winning goal against Gateway 11 seconds into overtime at the Osceola YMCA Tuesday.News-Gazette Photo/Andrew Sullivan By Rick Pedone Sports Editor It wasnt a difficult decision for Estelle Esperance to choose Alabama A&M when it was time to sign her national letter of intent. The Poinciana High senior soccer star did her research and made, for her, the obvious decision. I was really being recruited by a lot of other schools, and I thought Alabama A&M and Jackson State in Alabama were the best choices, she said. I wanted to stay in the southern area. After she visited Alabama A&M, located near Huntsville, she decided it was the place to be. Both schools are in roughly the same location, but the thing is that they are big rivals, she said. I didnt visit Jackson State, but after talking to a lot of people about it, I decided that the outlook there didnt seem to be as positive. Esperance for four seasons has been a member of the Lady Eagles varsity soccer program and evolved into a coach on the field. What I learned about playing at Poinciana is that because of the competition level, I had to work with a lot of the girls who didnt come in with as much experience as I had, Esperance said. I had to learn how to work with the other players so that they would become better; I had to be a leader so I could help them out. Esperance was a striker at Poinciana and is the teams all time scoring leader (68 goals, 38 assists) and she also played center midfield during her career. I have an ability to visualize what is happening up front that allows me to distribute the ball to the right place, she said. Im very fast, so I also played a lot at outside forward. I could bring the ball down the side and then push it into the center of the field. Poinciana Soccer Coach Ryans Calmont said Esperance is a superb student-See Signings, page A-14 Poincianas Estelle Esperance signed a soccer grant to Alabama A&M recently at the high school with, standing from left, Eagles track coach Corey Fleming, her father, Ludger Esperance and soccer coach Ryans Calmont.Photo/Special to the News-GazetteSee Flag, page A-15
Page A14, Life Academy completes SIAA SigningContinued from page A-13 Kowgirls prep for big 7A-5 testathlete and a great high school soccer player. Calmont said Esperance created most of her scoring opportunities. Its impressive because of the talent she played with, many of (the goals) were unassisted, he said. She has tremendous speed and is even faster with the ball. I have had the pleasure of coaching her four years and also watched her grow to be a leader on and off the field. Esperance also is a twotime state qualifier for the Lady Eagles track team in the 4 x 400 and the 400. She ran cross country as a sophomore. I had to stop doing cross country became my body was wearing out, she said. It was too hard to do three sports seasons. Esperance said she soon will receive a training program from Alabama A&M so she will be in good condition when she reports there in July. They have an orientation program for the freshmen athletes, she said. The Bulldogs are coached by Frank Davis and compete in the NCAA D-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference. Her determination and excellence on the soccer field and on the track will come in handy as she pursues her goal of becoming a cardiologist. Probably that, or something related in the medical field, she said. Calmont said the Bulldogs are getting a great player. She will be a great asset to the team, he said. She will be missed, but I look forward to seeing her play at Alabama A&M and fulfill her dream of one day playing for the U.S. National Team. By Rick Pedone Sports Editor Osceola can clinch the No. 1 seed for the 7A-5 district softball tournament by beating East Ridge today at 7 p.m. at East Ridge. The Kowgirls, 15-2, are 9-0 in the district and beat East Ridge, 7-6, early this season in Kissimmee to hand the Knights their only district setback. The district tournament begins April 15 at OHS. The top two seeds receive firstround byes. O sceola won t hree of four games at the Gulliver Prep Slamfest last weekend. The Lady Kowboys blanked Okeechobee, 6-0, as Kenya Pereira pitched a two-hitter and Haisette Escudero, Noemi Chavez and Jessica Callahan all had two RBIs. Osceola stopped Key West, 11-5, as Morgan Crapo earned the win and Kali Jones knocked in two runs. The Lady Kowboys then lost to host Gulliver Prep, 1-0, as Pereira surrendered the games lone run in the sixth inning. Osceola beat American Heritage, 8-5, for their third win at the tournament as Escudero drove in three more runs and Crapo earned the win. Patricia Ortiz-Hernandez drove in two runs. After todays game Osceola will prepare to host the Kissimmee Klassic at the Osceola County Softball Complex March 28-30. St. Cloud also will play at the tournament. The Bulldogs, 9-4 and 4-1 in 7A-6, lost a 4-3 decision to Pine Castle Christian Friday. St.Cloud will host Wes t Orange today at 7 p.m. Harmony, 13-1, is 5-0 in 7A-6. 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Thursday, March 21, 2013 NEWS-GAZETTE, Page A15 A-15 FlagContinued from page A-13 Seniors all-star hoops Saturday By Rick Pedone Sports Editor The Osceola County Senior All-Star girls and boys basketball games will be Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (girls) and 6:30 p.m. at St. Cloud High. A 3-point shooting contest will preceed each all-star game at 4 p.m. (girls) and 6 p.m. Osceola High girls coach Barner Cooks has supervised the county all-star game for several years with the goal of allowing the players to wear their high school uniforms one more time. Cooks said that it will give the players one more opportunity to impress college scouts. The All-Stars are split into Light and Dark teams. The girls Light Team includes players from Gateway (Tiffany Charneco, Jaimie Olivo, Amanda Lopez, Ashley Collazo) and Poinciana (Geri Navarro, Majjdah Barnett, Brandii Walker). The Coach is Pam Reeves of Poinciana. The Dark Team includes seniors from Osceola (Jasmine Ramos, Jhosinnory Diaz, Jamecia Daniels, Kendell Kranich), C elebration (Gabby Ortiz, Tuesday Webb), St. Cloud (Candice Wilkins) and City of Life A cademy (Abby Robinson). The coach is Osceolas Shaquana Morgan. The 3-point shooting contest participants are Osceolas Diaz, Celebrations Ortiz, Poincianas Walker and Navarro, Gateways Lopez and St. Clouds Wilkins. The boys Dark Team AllStars is coached by Kelvin Wills of St. Cloud. Team members are from Gateway (Joel Brown, Teshawn Hodge, Theo Belhomme), Harmony (Imari Hillery, Isaiah Moser, Kevin Guevara, Colton Viscomi), St. Cloud (Ronald Johnson, Eddy Sanchez, Jamal Demetrius, James Clark) and City of Life Academy (Tyler Travlute, Daniel Vila, David Vila). Coaching the boys Light All-Stars is Osceolas Nate Alexander. Team members are from Liberty (Keenan Johnson), Poinciana (Joey St. Hilaire, Dyland Jean-Pierre), New Dimensions (Stone Treadwell, Devon Pitter), Osceola (Josh Antoine, Alex Forde, Jonat han Phillips, Aubrey Williams), Celebration (Kyle Arzt, Billy Frazil, Romelo Banks) and Life Christian (Zeke Cox, Izic Vanegas, Nick Rodriguez). of the work herself, running for 30 yards and passing for eight more. She scored on a 3-yard run. Her conversion pass to Julia Ingler tied game at 7-7. Before the suspension, Leffew completed 5 of 6 passes for 36 yards and also rushed for 31 yards on eight carries. Leffew also had two interceptions and pass breakups on defense. Charneco completed 17 of 28 passes for 139 yards, one score and two interceptions before the game was stopped. We made a few mistakes and had a couple of dropped passes, but I thought we were right there in the game, Robertson added. Harmony has been the top dog in the county, but I know we are close. We have an opportunity to knock down the door this year. Sports briefsRain Tuesday postponed the 7A-5 district baseball game between Osceola and Gateway. The game, which counts in the OBC, was rescheduled for today at 7 p.m. at the Ridenour Athletic Complex. The teams will play again Friday at 7 p.m. at Osceola. R ROOFING Locally Owned FREE EstimatesLic# CCC057668Qualty roofing at affordable prices! P PLUMBING LEAK TECH PLUMBING, INC. 24 hr Service SERVICE SAVER$2500OFFExpires 04/30/2013 Never A Service Fee We Do It All!! Call Andy 321-443-2504 NO JOB P BILLYS PRESSURE WASHINGCall Billy at 407-709-5617 Exterior Cleaning, Deck Cleaning, Driveways, Sidewalks and Pool areas for Residential and Commercial L k kk k k k SMITH PROPERTY SERVICES YOU NEED IT... WE CAN DO IT!!! 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I Bet You Didnt KnowMon.-Fri. 8:00 a.m.:30 p.m. Saturday 8:00 a.m.:00 a.m. Fill Your Tires With Nitrogen New ServiceIn a January 2013 win over Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans pulled down 23 rebounds but scored just two points the seventh player in league history with at least 23 boards and no more than two points in a single game. And one of those players did it a remarkable five times, including one game in which he collected 28 rebounds and didnt score a single point. Any guesses? Hint: hes in the NBA Hall of Fame. The answer is Dennis Rodman. More than any other sport, baseball is a game of statistics. So heres the latest from a Yale professor of economics who used mathematical models to determine the age at which hitters and pitchers reach their peak. Using the career stats of every major leaguer from 1921 through 2004 who played at least 10 full seasons, the professors findings were surprising. The peak age for a hitter is roughly 28 (which just happens to be the age at which eyesight begins to decline) and for a pitcher approximately 26. Name this university: less than 13,000 undergraduate students; located in a town of approximately 120,000 people; and in a 12-week period from the end of October 2011 until late January 2012, the football and mens and womens basketball teams combined to go an incredible 40-0. The answer is the worlds largest Baptist college, Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Oh yeah, quarterback Robert Griffin III went on to win the Heisman Trophy, the Lady Bears became NCAA champions, and 10 other Baylor teams ranked in the top 25 nationally during that period. I bet you didnt know..... Ray Icaza RAY ICAZA EXECUTIVE MANAGER ST CLOUD1001 Irlo Bronson Hwy. St. Cloud, FL 866-503-8348 www.starlingchevy.comI Have Moved to Our St. Cloud Dealership. Stop in Today for Great Deals on Chevy, Buick & GMC Vehicles032113.TNG 032113.TNG 032113.TNG
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The real estate market is starting to show signs of improvement, which is wel come news for people want ing to sell their homes. This positive momentum alone isnt enough to close a deal, though a homeowner must make their properties appealing to potential buy ers so they stand out from the competition. The good news is its easy to create an appealing atmosphere with a few staging tips and tricks from the experts. When people ask what is most important about home staging, I say, delete, delete, delete and clean, clean, clean, says Cathy Mansour, an interior designer and director at Aqua Hospitality Carpets. -You cant be too tidy or too well-scrubbed. Start by eliminating all clutter. Not only does it make your home look unor ganized, clutter also makes it look much smaller. Pack away papers, knickknacks, excessive photography or decor, and extra furniture. Uncluttered rooms highlight the space and personality of a home so buyers take notice of these attributes rather than the cluster of family photos or stack of magazines on the coffee table. Once clutter is gone, its time to assess the flooring. More buyers desire carpet because it is comfortable, reduces noise and improves indoor air quality. Sellers should highlight this feature. Carpet is warm and invit ing in a family room, says Karen Dembsky, owner of Peachtree Home Staging and president of Georgia Real Estate Staging Association. Area rugs over hard surface floors make the room look smaller. While clean, fresh carpeting is an asset when it comes to selling a home, any floorcover ing can be a drawback if it is dirty, dated or has an odor. -Have carpets professionally cleaned before opening your doors for showings. The Car pet and Rug Institute (CRI) rec ommends hiring only reputable carpet-cleaning professionals who will use effective cleaning solutions and equipment to do the best job possible. Ask about training and certifications, and whether a cleaner will come to your home for an inspection first to deter mine what type of cleaning or repair is required, including any stain treatments. Visit www.carpet-rug.org to find cleaning professionals who use CRI-certified carpet cleaning products as part of their cleaning process. If repairs cant be made, the carpet will need to be replaced. Dembsky stresses carpet is one of the most cost-efficient upgrades you can do when staging your home for sale. Replacing carpet you can always get your money back, she says. Just dont put it in the bathroom buyers dont like that. Once your home is clean and clutter-free, its time to let in the light. Dark houses look drab no matter how stylish or clean they are. Pull back drapery, turn on the hallway sconces and update wattages on dim bulbs. About 100 watts per 50 square feet is a good target. If you have outdated lighting hardware or lampshades, consider affordable replacements its typically an easy update that transforms a room instantly. Once you let in all that wonderful light, some walls may look dated. A fresh coat of paint can liven up a room and make it look modern and clean. While theres often no need to repaint every inte rior wall, focusing on rooms where walls are dirty, dam aged or feature a dated color can give your entire interior design a facelift. Section C REAL ESTATE IN OSCEOLA & SURROUNDING COUNTIES www.aroundosceola.com March 21, 2013 CLASSIFIEDS Pages C3 C5 LEGALS Page C6 Retail sale s, a key measure of consumer spending, also rose more than expe ct ed in Fe bruar y. Sales increased by 1.1 percent, the largest increase since Septembe r, accord ing to a repo rt released We dnesday by the Commerce Depa rt ment such as mortgage bonds and U. S. Tr easur y notes to seek risk ier, higher returns on in vestments. When demand declines for government and mo rt gage bonds, mo rt gage rates tend to rise paper wo rk r eady in case rates drop will help speed up the process. T hey should be prepared to act appropriately, accordingly and expeditiousl y, he says. In the unlikely ev ent that rates drop back to record lows homeowners may have a small window to move he says Mo rt gage tip:Ad justable -rate mo rt gages are a good option fo r buyers who do not plan to stay in their homes fo r long and who want lower monthly payment s.Mo rt gage Ne ws So ur ce : Ba nk ra te .c om 2013 3.61 3.52 3.58 3.76 3.85 10/24/201211/28/20121/2/20132 /6/20133 /13/20132.75 3.00 3.25 3.50 3.75 4.00 4.25 4.50 Ad justable rate mo rt gages So ur ce : Ba nk ra te .c om 2013 3.00 3.01 2.95 3.00 2.97 2.73 2.74 2.76 2.76 2.82 10/24/201211/28/20121/2/20132/6/20133/13/20132.00 2.25 2.50 2.75 3.00 3.25 3.50 3.75 1 yr ARM 5/1 ARM Bankr ate National Tr end s L ocal Mo rt gage Rate sInstitution Phone Ra te Orig Disc. Lock APR Ra te Orig. Disc. Lock APRThese are largest area rates that banks and thri ft s were charging W ednesda y. For additional Florida area rates visit www .bank rate.com By Po rate.co mBank rate mor tgage updateMo rt gage rates jumped this week as the job market improved, consumer spending increased and the economy gained momentum. according to the Bank rate.com national survey of large lenders. The mor tgages in this week s surv ey had an average total of 0.35 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mort gage index stood at 4.15 percent; four weeks ag o, it was 3.79 percent. The benchmark 5/1 adjustable -rate mor tgage rose to 2.82 from 2.68 percent. Ra tes climbed immediately after the Commerce Department released its closely watched monthly employment repo rt last week U. S. employers created 236,000 jobs in February more than economists had expe ct ed. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. senior branch manager f or GFI Mo rt gage Bankers in New Yo rk. T hey are seeing rallies In almost all cases the rate is based on a lock-in period of 30 to 60 days Borr owers should review how the rates are calculated and inquire about additional closing costs such as appraisal fees and title searches NA means rate quotes not available on sur v ey date Ra tes are based on a loan amount of $165,000 to $417,000 with a 20 pe rc ent down payment. Bank of America 800-432-1000 3.625 0.00 1.13 60 3.810 2.750 0.00 1.25 60 3.098 SunTrust Bank 800-273-7827 4.750 1.00 0.02 60 4.866 3.900 1.00 0.19 60 4.122 STUFF FINDER HOME FINDER AUTO FINDER INSIDE TODAYS HOMEFINDERCLASSIFIEDSCLASSIFIEDS JOB FINDER The median price of Orlando homes sold during the month of February leapt nearly 20 percent over February 2012, driven in no small part by a record low inter est rate of 3.21 percent that is enabling buyers to afford a little more house, reports the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association. The February 2013 median price of $133,000 is 19.82 percent above that of February 2012 ($111,000) and 4.72 per cent above that of January 2012 ($127,000). The jump in median price can be attributed to a mix of factors, said ORRA Chairman Steve Mer chant, broker-owner of Global Realty International. We are in a solid sellers market with minimal inventory and huge demand from buy ers seeking to take advantage of interest rates, says Merchant. Those conditions are encourag ing more owners to make their homes available for purchase, and normal homes are generally priced higher than foreclosures and short sales. In addition, that same buyer demand is really driv ing up the price of foreclosures and short sales, for which heated bidding wars are now routine. All sales types experienced year-to-year median price increas es in February, with foreclosures leading the way with a 26.71 percent jump. The median price of short sales increased 11.76 percent; normal sales increased 5.69 percent. Completed Sales Members of ORRA participat ed in the sales of 2,203 homes (all types combined) that closed in February 2013, an increase of 11.54 percent compared to Feb ruary 2012. Single-family home sales increased 16.68 percent, while condo sales dropped 6.69 percent. Compared to February of 2012, the number of short sales (487) decreased 24.73 percent and the number of foreclosures (521) decreased 2.98 percent. The number of completed tradi tional sales (1,195), however, is a 51.07 percent increase com pared to last year. Homes of all types spent an average of 84 days on the market before coming under contract in February 2013, and the average home sold for 96.11 percent of its listing price. In February 2012 those numbers were 94 days and 93.38 percent, respectively. The average interest rate paid by Orlando homebuyers in February, 3.21 percent, set yet another record as lowest average interest rate since ORRA began tracking the statistic in 1989. A year ago, homebuyers paid an average interest rate of 3.92 percent. Pending Sales Pending sales those under contract and awaiting closing are currently at 8,825. The num ber of pending sales in February 2013 is 5.59 percent lower than it was in February 2012 (9,348) and 1.33 percent higher than it was in January 2013 (8,709). Short sales, which take much longer to process from contract to close, made up 61.79 percent of pending sales in February 2013. Normal properties accounted for 25.96 percent of pendings, while bank-owned properties accounted for 12.25 percent. Inventory The number of existing homes (all types combined) available for purchase in Orlando is continuing a steady decline that began back in July 2010 at 16,563 and now rests at 7,183. In February 2013, inventory was 22.37 percent less than it was in February 2012. The inventory of single-family homes is down by 25.40 percent when compared to February of 2012, while condo inventory has decreased by 9.98 percent. The month-of-supply decreased in February when com pared to February 2012: Current inventory combined with the current pace of sales equates to a 3.26-month supply of homes in Orlando right now, while there was a 4.69-month supply in Feb ruary 2012. There was a 3.64month supply last month. Affordability The February affordabil ity index is 248.38 percent, a decrease of four points from Januarys index of 252.38 that is attributed in part to the inter est rate decline. (An affordability index of 99 percent means that buyers earning the state-reported median income are 1 percent short of the income necessary to purchase a median-priced home. Conversely, an affordability index that is over 100 means that medi an-income earners make more than is necessary to qualify for a median-priced home.) Buyers who earn the reported median income of $54,929 can qualify to purchase one of 4,013 homes in Orange and Seminole counties currently listed in the local multiple listing service for $330,346 or less. First-time homebuyer affordability in February decreased to 176.63 percent from last months 179.47 per cent. First-time buyers who earn the reported median income of $37,352 can qualify to purchase one of the 2,873 homes in Orange and Semi nole counties currently listed in the local multiple listing service for $199,676 or less. Staging on shoestring: Pro tips for quick home salesPhoto/BrandpointMedian price of area homes increased 20 percent in February, compared with previ ous year. Median Orlando area home price was $133,000. HOMEFINDERHOMEFINDER Median home prices surge on record low interest rates Photo/Brandpoint
Page C2, Crooked door needs repair Q: The antique door to our bathroom is solid oak. Unfortu nately, its no longer closing straight -the door latch is lower than the hardware on the frame. Its also scraping the floor when its opened and closed. How can we repair this? -Cliff, West Hartford, Conn. A: Fixing this problem can be as simple as adjusting the hinge pins of the door, or as complex as resetting them (which isnt too complex, its just a two-person job). Sticking, dragging doors -or doors that wont close completely -can have a number of causes. In newer houses, a doors hinges might have been placed incorrectly, or the mortise of the door might not be deep enough (or too deep). Checking the depth of the mor tise is simple: run a finger along the hinge leaf thats set into the door. If the leaf isnt flush with the wood, the trouble may lie there. The new wood might have swollen slightly, as well. Because youre in an older home, the door probably opened and shut for years with no problem, meaning the hinges are (or were) set just fine. However, the door frames of aging homes typically settle as time passes, and the frame could be slightly warped. The hinges also might have worked loose. The first (and easiest) fix is to check all the hinges -tap them down into place if necessary -and tighten the screws holding the hinges to the door. If a screw wont tighten down, remove it, insert a wooden toothpick (or several) into the hole, and reinsert the screw. If the door still sags, try putting a shim between the bot tom hinge and the door. Remove the door completely from its hinges (this is where that second person comes in handy). Then, unscrew the bottom hinge leaf from the door. Using the leaf (the flat part) as a template, cut a piece of noncom pressible cardboard, particle board or sheet brass (available in various precut sizes at the hardware store) to match. Punch out screw holes in the same area as on the leaf. Lay the shim against the door first, then fasten the hinge leaf to it. Rehang the door and check the fit. Conversely, if the door latch were higher than it should be, you would place a shim in the top hinge. Now, what if the latch lines up but the door still scrapes or sticks? Try covering the sticking edge with chalk, and open and close the door. Mark spots on the door edge where the chalk has rubbed away. Lightly sticking doors can be repaired by sanding the contact points. Dont sand too much, or the door wont fit tightly. HOME TIP: To easily sand away sticky spots from the bottom of the door, tape a piece of sandpaper to the floor and briskly move the door back and forth across it. Elevate the sandpaper with thin pieces of cardboard as the sanding process continues. Send your questions or home tips to ask@thisisahammer. com, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. (c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc. With the 2 percent payroll deduction going away, paychecks are that much smaller, and its more important than ever to find ways to reduce grocery bills. Retailers know this, and theyre becoming even more ruthless about getting you to part with your shopping dol lars. Here are 10 tips to help cut your grocery bill: 1. Check the sales flyers that come in the mail or the newspaper, and make a list of your meals for the coming week. Check ingredients at home to make sure you dont buy duplicates. 2. Stores are laid out to get you to spend the most money. Bakeries will blow the scent of baked goods to entice you into that area. The deli section will put out samples of meats and cheeses, hoping youll try a sample and buy. Staples like milk and eggs will be in the back corner of the store, forcing you to go a long distance past other items. Look down each aisle. If theres nothing down that aisle you need, dont go there. 3. Set a limit on how much extra youre willing to spend if you come across real bargains while in the store. 4. Shop at night, if possible, by yourself. Leave the kids at home or tell them there will be no extras. 5. Eat before you go. Youll be less tempted to buy items not on your list. 6. Buy in bulk only if it makes sense. If you can save money on a five-pound package of hamburger and freeze it in onepound packages, do that. But if a mega-size box of cereal will only go bad in your cupboard, its no bargain. 7. Check the unit price on each item, especially now that the package sizes of so many items are changing. The price might be the same, but with less in the package, it actually costs more per serving. 8. Buy plain foods such as rice or pasta and add your own seasonings. Buy plain cereal and add your own sugar -or not. 9. Buy cheaper cuts of meat and use your slow cooker to make a meal. Add another meatless dinner to your meal rota tion. 10. Get creative in the kitchen and look online for new recipes. Experiment with adding ingredients such as cooked rice or pasta and vegetables to a can of soup for a hearty meal. David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 328536475, or send email to email@example.com. (c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.10 Easy ways to cut your grocery bill By Samantha MazzottaQ: I am not a collector but have managed to accumulate several older perfume bottles, which I purchased at garage sales in the Chicago area. There are four I think could be valuable: La Prai rie by Waterstone, Nanette, Aluria by Lucretia Vanderbilt, and Paradise for Two. Are they worth keeping, or just more clutter? I think I probably paid a few dollars each for them. -Sandra, Naperville, Ill. A: I found all of your bottles refer enced in The Wonderful World of Perfume Bottles: Identication & Value Guide by Jane Flanagan and published by Collector Books. According to Flanagan, Paradise for Two was manu factured in 1908 by Schaefer-Martin Co. and is worth about $50 with its original box. Aturia is from 1938 and sells in the $45 to $60 range. Nanette, your rarest bottle, was introduced in 1950 and often sells in the collectors marketplace for $175. La Prairie, launched in 1993, is worth about $60. All things considered, you made four good investments. *** Q: I purchased a basket for $5 at a ea market and am enclosing a picture of it. I am curious about who made it and what it was used for. -Betty, Jamestown, Tenn. A: Sometimes a basket is simply a basket. This is the type of basket often found at import shops. Since they are mass-pro duced and not signed, your question about who made it is im possible to answer. It is of recent origin, and you probably paid about what it is worth. *** Q: I have a 5-inch-high pitcher signed by Hohr Merkel. What can you tell me about it? -Beverly, Lake Lillian, Minn. A: I examined the pictures you sent me, and your pitcher ap pears to be from Copenhagen. Pitchers and vases of this type generally sell in the $15 to $25 range. I was not able to nd the artist in any of my reference books. *** Q: I have eight Boys Life magazines from the 1960s, and I am wondering if they are worth keeping. -James, Hooksett, N.H. A: Not really, since most of the copies of this magazine Ive seen from this period have been priced for about a dollar an issue. Write to Larry Cox in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the large volume of mail he receives, Mr. Cox is unable to personally answer all reader ques tions. Do not send any materials requiring return mail. 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