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Fla. manatees make their Super Bowl picks at lab

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- Like many football fans, two manatees at a Florida research center have made their picks for the Super Bowl.

Hugh and Buffett live at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. They've been trained to approach signs dropped into their tank, and touch the signs with their snouts.

On Friday, the manatees' trainers dropped signs bearing the logos for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Twenty-six-year-old Hugh picked the Steelers and 23-year-old Buffett picked the Packers.

It should be noted that manatees generally have terrible eyesight.

The manatees were born in captivity and have never lived in the wild. The marine lab studies their behavior through training exercises to understand how to protect the marine mammals in the wild.

Players Theatre to test captioning during play

Sarasota, Florida - The Players Theatre will give the deaf a chance to enjoy a night out at the theatre. On February 15th, Neil Simon's play "Rumors" will be provided in real time captions on the screens above the stage.

This is a joint project of Players Theatre and the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota.

HLAS studies have shown that 73% of people with hearing loss miss 30% or more of what is said or sung at plays, a key reason that many do not go to the theatre often.

With 110-thousand people with hearing loss in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, there is a significant opportunity for theatres to add needed ticket sales.

According to HLAS, 16% of the local population has hearing loss, tying it for the highest incidence in the nation. This special performance is not open to the public and used to provide a "soft opening" for each new show at Players Theatre.

Craft festival masters art of longevity

Siesta Key, Florida - Jewelry, ceramics, photography-and crowds; you'll find them all and much more this weekend at the Siesta Key Craft Festival.

The festival is known for attracting large crowds over its 17 year history. While crafts of all sorts are featured, the festival will also have a market with plants, florals and handmade soaps.

The festival is free. It runs today (February 5th) and tomorrow (February 6th) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's located at Siesta Key Village at 5124 Ocean Boulevard.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Downtown Sarasota Alliance.

Bridge jumper rescued from Sarasota Bay

Bridge jumper rescued from Sarasota Bay

Sarasota, Florida - Police and fire rescue saved the life of a distraught man who jumped from the Ringling Bridge Friday.

Police said the 30-year-old man handed his identification to a pedestrian, spoke briefly about his problems, climbed over the railing and jumped into the water.

"Officer Bruce King, Sergeant Jason Reed, and fire rescue launched the Sarasota Police Department boat for a rescue attempt," the department said Friday night. "Other officers from the bridge located the victim in the water and directed the boat to the victim."

Passenger stabs another on Sarasota bus

Sarasota, Florida - A passenger on a public transit bus was stabbed in the chest for no apparent reason on Friday.

Police said the suspect, Andrew S. Timshin, 24, boarded the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus near 2nd Street and Lemon Avenue, walked towards the back of the bus, pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed another passenger in the chest without any provocation.

Timshin was arrested at a bus stop and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

The victim, a 40-year-old man, was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg for treatment. His name has not been released.

Dad charged with injuring his 6-week-old son

Sarasota, Florida - An aggravated child abuse charge has been brought against a 22-year-old man after his 6-week-old son suffered a head injury.

The sheriff's office said Joshua Hammer of Bee Ridge Road is also charged with one count of child neglect.

Hammer and his wife brought the infant to Sarasota Memorial Hospital saying their son had a fever. Doctors determined the infant had bleeding on his brain.

When told of the head injury "they came up with three separate traumatic events in an attempt to explain," the arrest affidavit stated.

Hammer was taken to the county jail and held without bond. The child was placed into the custody of his maternal grandmother.


True "cheese-head" hopes for Packer win

Sarasota, Florida-The Super Bowl will have Karl Nelson's attention, he is a true "cheese-head." He's the owner of Greenleaf Cheese in Sarasota and knows all there is to know about cheese. Nelson has even been to the World Cheese Championships.

Nelson carries 140 different cheeses and his shop is the unofficial Sarasota home of the Green Bay Packers.

Nelson reportedly slices about 100 pounds of cheese a day and can identify all 140 types in his store; he can identify about half as many by touch.

The Green Bay native will be watching Super Bowl XLV hoping for a Packers win.