elgin_jones_web_13.jpgON THE WATCH
The parent company of Albertsons, the nation’s fifth largest grocery store chain, has reached agreement to purchase Safeway, the second largest grocer in the U.S., for $9 billion. The combined company will dominate the west and Midwest but will still be second behind Krogers. The merger will create a network of 2,400 stores, 27 distribution facilities and 20 manufacturing plants, with more than 250,000 employees. Safeway has no stores in Florida and Albertsons has three, including one in Oakland Park. But the new company could be poised to push into the state, providing competition for the already saturated market. Keep on the watch.

Palm Beach County

AT&T plans to conduct testing of its new digital phone and Internet service in two cities in the U.S. and Delray Beach is one of them, according to the Federal Communication Commission. Carbon Hill, Ala., is the other city. Joe S. York, president of AT&T Florida, confirmed the plans and said it is an opportunity for Floridians to gain access to the new technology. A series of community meetings is taking place to explain the plan.

Dwarka Latchman, a limo driver of Boca Raton, was charged with driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and causing property damage. His arrest came after an accident and, according to the police report, Latchman, 51, was aware his license had been suspended.

Broward County

Heather Brinkworth of Fort Lauderdale is the newest member of the Broward County School Board. She was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to fill the District 3 vacancy, succeeding Katherine P. “Katie” Leach, who resigned last December. The term ends in November 2014. Brinkworth taught reading at Stranahan High School and Lauderhill Middle Community School and is the past chairwoman of Fort Lauderdale’s Education Advisory Board and a PTA president.

Broward Sheriff’s detectives arrested Feirious Tanner, 25, on burglary charges. He is suspected of being behind several burglaries at the offices of complexes around the county where tenants’ rent checks were reported stolen. He was caught on surveillance video at the office of the Courts at Oakland Park apartment complex smashing a window, police said. He then tried to fish out checks from the after-hours payment drop box but did not actually enter the office, the report said. Tanner confessed to that crime, according to police.

A jury found Fort Lauderdale police were partly at fault in the 2009 death of 14-year-old Tronodd Lomack. He was riding an ATV in his Lauderdale Manors neighborhood when Officer Justin Krashefski spotted him. Lomack sped off and hit a parked truck before crashing into a sound barrier wall, which led to his death. A Fort Lauderdale police investigation determined Lomack was totally at fault and that Krashefski never pursued or chased him. Witnesses disputed that finding, saying the officer chased Lomack and caused him to hit the truck. A jury in the civil trial agreed. Jurors determined Lomack and his family suffered $2.5 million in damages and that Fort Lauderdale police are 65 percent at fault, meaning the city is responsible for $1,625,000.

Ronald St. Hill, 31, is accused of choking and raping a woman, whom he knew, at gunpoint. According to the arrest report, St. Hill took the woman’s keys and entered her Pompano Beach apartment at 1:30 a.m. while she slept. The woman struggled but St. Hill pistol whipped her and then bound her hands and feet with duct tape, the police report said. He is charged with sexual assault, domestic battery by strangulation, assault with a firearm and several other charges related to the rape. He also allegedly left two children unattended at his own home, where a rifle and marijuana were found, to carry out the rape and is also facing child neglect-related charges.

Miami-Dade County

A quiet situation began unfolding in the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office during the 2012 reelection bid of  Pedro J. Garcia, who wound up losing to challenger Carlos Lopez-Cantera. The matter also involves the current Property Appraiser, Lazaro Solis, who took over after Lopez-Cantera was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott as lieutenant-governor. The situation centers on homestead exemptions, which Lopez-Cantera successfully made a campaign issue in his 2012 bid. Stay tuned.

Ana Alliegro, a political companion of former Republican U.S. Rep. David Rivera, was arrested in Nicaragua, where she allegedly fled while being investigated for campaign finance fraud. She has been returned to the U.S., where she is facing a slew of charges. The alleged scheme involved secret money that was funneled to the campaign of candidate Justin Lamar Sternad against Democratic opponent Joe Garcia, who was elected to Congress.

Alexis Martinez, the Miami-Dade Public Schools regional superintendent who oversees 100 schools in the southern end of the county, has been reassigned. Martinez, 54, was arrested on charges of evidence tampering and obstruction of justice. School officials are not releasing details but the case reportedly involves a domestic violence shooting incident in which no one was injured. He is accused of removing the gun used in the incident.

Monroe County

Benjamin Check, 21, of Marathon is facing charges after he was seen brutalizing his dog in a shopping plaza parking lot, police said. Witnesses said he was lifting the dog up by the ears and then slamming it into the ground. Authorities said the dog was not injured. The report said when officers frisked Check, they found someone else’s wallet in his pocket. In addition to animal cruelty, he is facing theft charges. The investigation is continuing.

Burmese pythons have infested South Florida land and marshes and are feasting on native wildlife species. Scientists at the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey said their studies indicate pythons are not dangerous to humans because the five known attacks over the past decade were “defensive” in nature and not predatory. I say nonsense.

Paul Davis is returning to his high school alma mater as the head coach of the Marathon High School football team. He was a star athlete in football, basketball and baseball in the 1980s at Marathon High. He went on to play football at the University of Western Michigan and pursued a career in the NFL. He has coached high school football and basketball around the country, including in Key West.