elgin_jones_web_13.jpgEJones@SFLTimes.com

CELLULAR UPGRADE
ATT has upgraded its wireless network in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties with 53 new towers and other enhancements. ATT says the upgrades will accommodate
more traffic and performance. To customers that means fewer dropped calls and faster data speeds.

EARLY VOTING
Early voting for the presidential primary will begin in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties this week. Last year, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law new procedures that, among other things, reduce the number of early voting days from 45 to eight. The eight-day period starts Saturday, Jan. 21 and will end Saturday, Jan. 28.

POSSIBLE SALE
The board of Miami Lakes-based BankUnited is considering whether to put the bank and its $10.7 billion in assets up for sale. With 80 branches located mostly in southeast Florida, it is one of the largest Florida-based banks.  With word spreading of a possible sale, federal regulators restricted trading of BankUnited stock to ensure stability. A final decision on any sale is expected within the next few months.

Palm Beach County

SHOOTING

An unidentified Hispanic man was shot and killed Sunday around 8:30 p.m. in the 2300 block of Pinewood Lane, near Greenacres. Sheriff's deputies have not released the victim’s name. He and the suspect met at the scene and got into an argument, when he was shot. The victim was driving a red SUV and the suspect, who was described as a male wearing a dark-colored, hooded sweat coat, was riding a bicycle. The victim died at the scene. Police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.

MENTAL HEALTH
Boca Raton’s Promise, a youth advocacy organization, is hosting a forum on mental illness on Jan. 22. The group seeks to educate people on how to assist those suffering from mental illness, particularly teens.  It will premier the film Breaking the Silence in which local teens discuss their experiences with various types of mental illness. The screening begins at 1 p.m. at the Dawson Theater of Boca Raton Regional Hospital at 800 8th St. Call Rita Thrasher for additional information, 561-866-1850.

BURGLARY SUSPECTS
Daniel Thompson, 28, of Lantana and Christopher Carmichael, 26, of Lake Worth have been charged with burglarizing a residence where they had repaired a leaking roof. Police said the two men stole more than  $70,000 in cash, jewelry, electronics and other property from an apartment where the company they work for had been hired to do the repairs. Their supervisors at the roofing company told police that there had been other reports of properties the two worked on being broken into. On this occasion, a resident said she left her apartment locked while the men were working and returned home to find it ransacked and the men and her property gone.

Broward County

WOMAN CAPTURED
Mary Gwen Meegan, 44, a suspect in the murder of 69-year-old Robert G. Tyler at a Hollywood motel last month, has been captured in Marathon.  She remains in the Monroe County Jail pending extradition to Broward County. Tyler was found dead on Dec. 15, 2011, in his motel room and Meegan had been sought in the case.  She is charged with murder.

COLLABORATION
Residents of northwest Fort Lauderdale held a barbecue this past weekend to show their support of and appreciation for members of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. For years, the relationship between the two sides has been tense but now they are teaming up to mount an attack on criminal activity in the area. The get-together was organized by residents and Police Chief Frank Adderley, Fraternal Order of Police President Jack Lokiensky and others attended.

TRIPLE HOMICIDE
Two women and a child were found dead in a Lauderdale Lakes apartment complex. Another child found inside was unharmed. The scene was described as bloody and gruesome. The bodies were discovered when a man went to check on them and  called police immediately upon opening the door.  Authorities are asking anyone with information about the killings to call Crime Stoppers of Broward County at 954-493-8477.

CARJACKING

Anthony M. Costi, 20, is charged with multiple offenses after, police said, he carjacked the vehicle of a couple who had dined at a downtown pizza parlor. Police said Costi jumped into the car when the male went back into the restaurant to retrieve something. His passenger struggled and was able to exit the car and was grazed by the car as Costi sped off, police said. Police spotted the vehicle a short distance away and arrested him after a brief chase.

Miami-Dade County


CITY ELECTIONS

Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Florida City Commision.  They are incumbent Sharon Butler and candidates James Brady and Avis Brown. Florida City has a mayor and four commissioners. The top two vote-getters in the Jan. 24 election will fill the seats.

WIFE SHOT
Larry Valadez believed he was shooting at an intruder at their home in southwest Miami-Dade County and fired several shots. It turned out to be his wife, who was hit an unknown number of times and was rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center. Police said he will not be charged. His wife’s condition is unknown.

MOTHER APPOINTED
Sweetwater city commissioners have appointed the mother of Mayor Manny Marono to the  commission. Isolino Marono, 63, was appointed by a majority of commissioners to finish the term of the late Vice Mayor Ariel J. Abelairas. Her son did not vote on the measure but the appointment still is raising questions about open government and potential conflicts. It is not known whether she will seek the seat permanently in May when the term ends and elections will be held.

RINGING THE BELL
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell delivered her state of the district address in which she touted her efforts in saving residents millions of dollars and streamlining county government by identifying waste. During the speech, Bell also unveiled new initiatives intended to attract and assist businesses. Prior to being elected in 2010 to the seat previously held by longtime commissioner Katy Sorenson, Bell served as mayor of Homestead, the first women ever to hold the top spot in the city. Her southwest Miami-Dade County Commission district includes Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead and parts of Kendall.

Photo: Eljin Jones