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Losses in Space- Central- Dec. 2002

The Astronaut Hall of Fame and U.S. Space Camp in Titusville, proud icons of U.S. success in space and the space program's hold on kids, found out the hard way what NASA has known for decades -- funding sources can be fickle.

Already hurt by the economic slide in late 2000, the two attractions were dealt further setbacks in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Delaware North Parks Services of Spaceport Inc., operator of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA, stepped in to rescue the Astronaut Hall of Fame in September, when the facility went into foreclosure. But the Space Camp has been closed.

The two attractions had been owned and operated by the U.S. Space Camp Foundation, created by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, which operates the original Huntsville Space Camp in Alabama. While the Alabama facility receives state funding, the Titusville camp did not.

"We looked at the California and Florida camps as feeder camps for the Huntsville location, where there are a lot more programs going on," says Al Whitaker, spokesman for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Upheaval in the airline industry was the death blow, Whitaker says, because 85% of the Florida space camp kids were from out of state. After the hijackings, airlines stopped allowing minors to fly unaccompanied, making it difficult for most to attend.

Delaware North's acquisition of the Astronaut Hall of Fame came in time to keep the exhibits intact. Previous operators had already been making arrangements to return the artifacts to the astronauts and their families, who are lending them to the museum. The upgraded Astronaut Hall of Fame was scheduled to reopen late last month.

The Hall of Fame will become part of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Separate admission will be required, but visitors to the complex and the Hall of Fame will get a price break.

Although Delaware North, which leased some of the Space Camp facilities and equipment from the bank that foreclosed on the attraction, has no plans to resurrect the camp as it once was, it holds out the possibility for a similar program. Education will be one of its primary missions for the visitor complex, which sees about 2 million visitors a year, many either on school field trips or from overseas.

"For the near term, we'll use the facility (the Astronaut Hall of Fame) to enhance our existing educational programs," Delaware North President Rick Abramson said at the time the company took over the property from the lenders. "We're currently exploring the possibility of one day running a program similar to Space Camp, and we're planning innovative, in-depth, educational programs that will take the Visitor Complex experience to a whole new level."


Altamont Springs -- Volo Communications says it will boost employment from 35 to about 100 by the end of 2003. The telecommunications and data company, which recently relocated from Boston, will be looking for people in sales, programming and systems design.

Daytona Beach -- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has received a $20-million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration to research how to improve pilot training.

Delta Air Lines has added weekday service and additional weekend flights between Daytona Beach and Cincinnati. The new weekend flights are in addition to the three made by Delta partner Comair on weekends.

ForHealth Technologies will relocate from Oklahoma City on the heels of $290,000 in state incentives and $58,000 in Volusia County incentives. As part of the relocation, ForHealth will begin manufacturing its drug dispensing and tracking machinery, which is now contracted out.

Edgewater -- American Maglev Technology's attempt to build the nation's first operational magnetically levitated train ground to a halt when Old Dominion University in Virginia said it had run out of funding for the student shuttle. The company hopes to get additional funding for the project from the federal government.

Groveland -- Marriott International was scheduled to close its 125,000-sq.-ft. food service distribution center Dec. 1, laying off 103.

Melbourne -- Harris Corp. (NYSE-HRS) has won a $61-million patent infringement case against Ericsson.

Orlando -- CNL Retirement Corp., a subsidiary of CNL Financial Group of Orlando, has bought 11 senior housing centers from Prime Care Properties for $109 million. The centers are located in seven states, including Florida.

AirTran Airways (NYSE-AAI) will launch a new regional airline service, AirTran JetConnect, to link Pensacola, Greensboro, N.C., and Savannah, Ga., to its Atlanta hub. The service will be operated by Air Wisconsin using 50-seat Bombardier regional jets.

Orlando Sentinel Communications and Time Warner Cable have extended their agreement to jointly produce the Central Florida News 13 24-hour local news channel for another year. The station went on the air Oct. 28, 1997.

New York non-profit housing group Promesa and local businessman Tony Suarez have teamed up to propose Plaza Santa Rosa, a $15-million commercial complex on Lake Barton in east Orlando. The complex would consist of space for small businesses and retail tenants in what is characterized as an economically depressed area.

Super Vision International (Nasdaq-SUPVA), a designer of fiber-optic and LED lighting systems, has won a $41-million verdict against two former employees and several companies in Hong Kong and China. Super Vision alleged the employees stole trade secrets and were planning to manufacture competing products in China.

GDC Properties altered its plan for a downtown mixed-use project, dropping the number of apartments from 338 to 80 and adding a 32,500-sq.-ft. full-service grocery store. The living units would include 20 so-called live/work lofts -- two-story units with a business on the ground floor and living quarters above.

Unable to survive under the burden of a $70,000 deficit, Accessible Alternatives -- a transitional living program for spinal-cord injury victims -- has closed after 17 years.

Oviedo -- The City Council approved a master plan that would create a new downtown in the fast-growing community just north of the University of Central Florida. The new downtown, southeast of the existing town center, would be anchored by a 7,000- to 12,000-seat amphitheater and would include up to 80,000 square feet of residential and commercial space. According to the master plan, the development is expected to cost between $8 million and $9 million.

Sanford -- Suncor Investments wants to develop condos, townhouses, offices and shops on the shore of Lake Monroe just west of City Hall. The company says the project complements the city's planned Riverwalk complex.

City commissioners are studying whether to switch to a strong-mayor form of government. Currently, the city manager runs day-to-day operations.

Southeast Airlines plans to begin five-times-a-week service between Sanford and New York's Newburgh Stewart International Airport. Flights will run daily except Tuesday and Wednesday.

Baldwin Park

ORLANDO -- Baldwin Park Development won approval to add 472 housing units and cut commercial space by more than 300,000 square feet. The move touched off anxiety among some over traffic and school crowding as the redevelopment of the former Naval Training Center property near downtown Orlando continues.