Photo: Paul Hennessy/NewscomAnimal rights activists want voters to make Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club disclose what happens to its dogs when the track is done with them.
Central Florida Roundup
Dogged opposition: Greyhound activists take their fight to Seminole County voters
Frustrated by years of inaction from state lawmakers and the politics of gambling policy, animal-rights advocates are now trying to appeal directly to voters in their bid to better regulate — and eventually eliminate — greyhound racing in Florida.
The first battleground is in Seminole County, where activists are gathering signatures for a countywide referendum they call the Greyhound Protection Act. It is aimed at Seminole County’s one greyhound track, Penn National Gaming’s Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club, one of 12 greyhound racing venues in Florida.
The measure would force the track to disclose all injuries to its animals and reveal what happens to its dogs when the track is done with them (euthanized, adopted, etc.). It would also make the track’s greyhounds subject to county licensing, much like household dogs are.
Anjali Sareen, an intellectual property attorney in Maitland and a dog owner, is volunteer chairwoman of the group leading the petition drive. Sareen says activists are targeting Sanford Orlando Kennel Club because Penn National Gaming has said it will continue to race greyhounds even if the Legislature eliminates the longstanding requirement that tracks continue live racing if they want to conduct other gambling activities. Many tracks have seen the popularity of dog racing wane and will likely scale back or eliminate racing if they don’t have to maintain it in order to offer simulcast wagering, poker rooms or slot machines.
Representatives for Penn National Gaming did not respond to requests for comment.
Florida is one of seven states where dog racing remains both legal and operational. It is one of just two, along with Alabama, that does not mandate injury reporting, according to Grey2KUSA Worldwide, an advocacy group that is helping with the Seminole County petition.
- DELAND — Stetson University launched a $150-million fundraising campaign, its first since 2009.
- The university will use $50 million for facilities, $40 million for student support, $40 million for faculty support and $20 million for current uses. The school has raised roughly $80 million so far.
- LAKE BUENA VISTA — Planet Hollywood is laying off 468 workers as it closes its restaurant at the Disney Springs retail complex at Walt Disney World. The company plans an extended renovation and retheming of the restaurant.
- LAKE COUNTY — Voters renewed a one-cent sales tax used for schools, roads and other infrastructure.
- LAKE MARY — Faro Technologies, which makes computeraided measurement and imaging devices and software, is laying off 8% of its workforce. CEO and President Jay Freeland is leaving after 11 years with the company.
- MAITLAND — A consortium of developers that includes Allen Morris Co., Lamm & Co. Partners and Millenia Partners plans to break ground on a $67-million mixed-use development called Maitland City Centre. The center will include 220 apartments, 24 live-work units combining apartments and office space and 32,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
- MELBOURNE — Defense contractor Northrop Grumman expects to add more than 1,500 jobs through a multibillion-dollar contract with the U.S. military to develop long-range bombers.
- ORANGE COUNTY — County commissioners pledged $3 million toward the University of Central Florida’s proposed $60-million campus in downtown Orlando. > Stuart-based Seacoast Bank acquired 14 central Florida branches from Chicago- based BMO Harris Bank for approximately $10.5 million. Struggling to combat anti-captivity activism and heightened competition from other parks, SeaWorld Entertainment plans to restructure ticket pricing and more aggressively promote its education and conservation work. The company also said it will end “theatrical” killer whale shows at its park in San Diego, replacing them with shows featuring the marine predators’ more natural behaviors. Artegon Marketplace will build a 25,000-sq.-ft. “food hall” in a continuing attempt to revive the former Festival Bay Mall in the city’s tourist district.
- ORLANDO — Mayor Buddy Dyer was easily re-elected to a fourth term. > Atlanta office property developer and manager Piedmont Operating Partnership bought the tallest building in downtown Orlando, the 35-story SunTrust Center, for $170 million. Universal Orlando and the rest of NBCUniversal’s theme parks set another summer attendance record this year, thanks primarily to a second Harry Potter land that opened in Orlando in mid-2014. > The city agreed to pay $5.85 million to buy and preserve a one-block urban park, staving off another plan to develop the land. > An International Drive attraction based on the “CSI” television show franchise closed. > Major League Soccer franchise Orlando City SC will launch a National Women’s Soccer League team in 2016 called the Orlando Pride. > IT company Orion Technology Services will open a Florida location, investing $768,000 and hiring 30.
- OSCEOLA COUNTY — 4 Rivers Smokehouse, the barbecue chain owned by Orlando restaurateur John Rivers, opened its first location in the county.
- VIERA — Satcom Direct, which makes satellite voice and broadband services for flight decks and cabin communications, opened a 42,000-sq.ft. headquarters.
The United States Tennis Association named Kurt Kamperman chief executive of the national training campus it is building in Orlando’s Lake Nona community.
In a corporate restructuring, Adventist Health System named Daryl Tol president of its central Florida region. Tol, who had been president of the system’s east Florida region, succeeds Lars Houmann, who had been both CEO of the central Florida region and Florida as a whole. Houmann will now focus solely on his statewide role.
Innovation -- Building a Better Deer
On 15 acres of ranchland in Sumter County, just west of The Villages, Steve and Debbie Munz are genetically engineering a kind of deer that hunters prize. Using laparoscopic artificial insemination, embryo transfers and live-breeding, the couple cross-breed deer from states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio with Texas deer. The northern deer’s antlers are strong and dense with bone but narrow, while Texas deer have wider, less dense antlers. The cross-breeding produces animals with massive, multitined antlers. Business is small but growing: Steve Munz says Galaxy Whitetail Solutions has sold roughly $200,000 in deer in 2014 and another $75,000 or so in deer semen. His long-term goal, he says, is to build a commercial deerhunting operation. “I would like to bring more people into hunting in Florida,” he says. “Everybody wants to go to Texas to kill a big buck. But I’ve got the genetics here.”