While most Southern states are bearing up under the unusual cold and snow, Florida is chilling in a bad way.  Beach bars and hotels are serving far fewer sunbathers and snowbirds, golfers are staying away, and fishing and boating trips are down, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Stunned iguanas have been falling out of trees, and now the cold is killing off endangered manatees.  Nearly 200 have died, and hundreds of others stressed by the cold are taxing statewide facilities that care for the marine mammals.

Last year, the Tampa Bay area had one day in which the temperature did not reach 60 degrees.  This year, there have been 18 such days.  “I’ve lived here most of my life, and I can’t remember seeing this type of cold,” Jeff Hollis, who oversees three golf courses for the city of St. Petersburg, told the Times.

Guns and rosé: The Virginia Senate voted 22-18 to allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons to take their firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol.  This would seem a dangerous step except Virginia law already allows people to carry guns strapped to their hips or slung over their shoulder into restaurants.  State Senator Emmett W. Hanger, the Augusta Republican who sponsored the bill, argued that current law prohibits law-abiding women who carry guns in their purses, for instance, from enjoying their favorite restaurants, such as the Red Lobster.  To which Democratic Senator Mary Margaret Whipple of Arlington replied, “I’ve never really been afraid for my life in the Red Lobster.”

Do they know something? Vultures have taken up roosting in a large telecommunications tower in Hickory, North Carolina.   Alan Barnhardt, executive director of the Catawba Science Center in Hickory, told the Charlotte Observer, “The birds usually roost in tall trees, but as we cut down more of the old-growth trees, where are they going to go?”

Dew Droplets: President Barack Obama plans to visit Savannah, Georgia, March 2 … Virginia’s attorney general plans to contest a key finding by the Obama administration that carbon dioxide is a danger to public health and contributes to global warming … .North Carolina education officials backed away from a proposal that would have limited the required high school U.S. history course to events of the last 132 years … A federal magistrate has ruled that a former Broward County, Florida, high school student had a First Amendment right to rant against her teachers on Facebook … Charleston, South Carolina’s first year-round cruise ship season began this week … The owner of a hookah bar in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, claims hookahs should be exempt from the state’s new smoking ban … The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates both approved measures authorizing a specialty license plate with the slogan “Trust Women/Respect Choice” … Seven couples got married Valentine’s Day in front of the giant Vulcan statue overlooking Birmingham, Alabama … Jessica Patterson and Matt McCullough got married at the White Castle restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee … At least four people have been charged after a fight broke out in the vending machine line at the Chuck E. Cheeese in Memphis, Tennessee … Megan Baumann (at right), a 27-year-old high school social studies teacher in Clinton, Tennessee, has been notified that the school system intends to dismiss her for engaging in “intimate sexual acts” with unidentified male students who attend the school.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.