5 Things to Know in Florida for July 16

Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about in Florida today.

Seaworld suspends worker accused of posing as PETA activist

SeaWorld suspended an employee accused of posing for years as an animal-rights activist and trying to incite violence among peaceful protesters, company officials said. CEO Joel Manby said in a statement Wednesday that SeaWorld Entertainment hired an independent outside counsel to investigate claims made this week by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Woman who fought son’s circumcision gets plea

A Florida woman who was jailed in her fight against her son’s circumcision can avoid additional jail time on a child-custody charge. Thirty-year-old Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach entered a plea deal Thursday allowing her to escape prosecution for interfering with child custody if she doesn’t land in trouble in the next year. Hironimus had fled with her 4-year-old son to avoid the circumcision that the boy’s father wanted and judges agreed should be performed. She was jailed on a contempt charge, but freed after she agreed to the procedure. The child custody charge was the last legal hurdle remaining for her.

Satellite Beach may ban 3 invasive trees

The Satellite Beach City Council is going after three species of invasive trees. The council unanimously approved an ordinance banning Brazilian pepper, Australian pine and melaleuca trees from all properties within the city during a first reading on Wednesday night. Florida Today reports if the ordinance is approved on Aug. 5, residents will face a Nov. 15 deadline to remove the invasive trees from their yards. The council adopted a list of nuisance trees in 2007 but decided not to set a removal deadline until all such trees had been removed from municipal property.

Troopers: greyhound bus catches fire in panhandle

The Florida Highway Patrol says a Greyhound bus caught fire as it traveled west near Milton in the Florida Panhandle. An incident report says driver Kenneth Earl Mann of Jacksonville told troopers he was traveling on State Road 8 in Santa Rosa County when he smelled smoke around 3:44 a.m. Thursday. Mann told investigators he pulled over on the shoulder of the highway and saw that a fire had broken out in the back of the bus. Troopers say all 37 passengers got off the bus and no one reported injuries.

84-year-old woman helps rescue 11 from burning building

An 84-year-old woman is credited for letting her neighbors know that a fire had broken out in their Jacksonville apartment building. The Florida Times-Union reports that 84-year-old Carmen Rodriguez smelled smoke early Wednesday and ran outside, where she saw flames coming from the building. Daughter Sol Maria Cabrera says her mother then yelled for neighbors to “get out” as she knocked on doors. By the time firefighters arrived, all 10 adults and one child living in the building had made it out safely. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue spokesman Tom Francis estimates damage to the building could exceed $100,000.

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