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Third-grade students save Florida Barnes & Noble from closing after writing CEO

When book-loving third-grade class in Ormond Beach found out that the nearby Daytona Beach Barnes & Noble bookstore was in danger of closing, they stepped up and wrote the CEO of the chain, begging him to keep the store open.

>> Read more trending news

The class mailed a personal letter to Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros, who is based at the company's New York City headquarters.

The Tomoka Elementary School students even suggested alternative sites in the area and invited Parneros to check them out.

Parnros and his team listened.

Swayed by the Ormond Beach students' love of books, company officials told a local newspaper the executive stepped in to ensure that Barnes & Noble's Daytona Beach store and its landlord could find a way to extend the lease.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Photos: Army beats Navy 14-13

Country's first private high-speed rail starts simulated service

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline will begin simulated service this week, running 10 round-trip trains a day along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks as it prepares for the launch of its passenger service later this year.

>> Read more trending news

The trains will not be carrying passengers. The company said the simulated service includes 10 northbound and 10 southbound trains running daily along the FEC line between 15th Street in West Palm Beach and Broward Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale.

Brightline trains are expected to start shuttling passengers between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale this month, with service to Miami set to begin in the first quarter of 2018, according to an analysis of a $600 million bond issue the company plans to use to help pay for the project.

The December start comes five months after Brightline’s original launch date, which called for service to begin last summer on the 30-minute route between downtown West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. A series of issues delayed the launch of the project.

Despite the delays, officials said last week that a plan to create a quiet zone to silence the horns of both Brightline’s trains and other freight traffic along the Florida East Coast Railway is still on track.

On Tuesday, Brightline officials said safety remains their top priority. In addition to Brightline’s service, freight trains will continue to operate along the FEC route.

“With the double tracking in place, trains can run in either direction and at any time,” Brightline said. “The public should always expect a train and should cross only at designated at-grade crossings.”

Pet cemetery condition like a 'war zone,' pet owners say

When Marla Cupp spent $500 on a burial plot for her dog 30 years ago at Garden of Pines Pet Cemetery, she never figured the sacred space would someday resemble “a war zone.”

>> Read more trending news

But when Cupp, of Hamilton, recently visited the Ross Township pet cemetery, that’s exactly what she found, she said.

Large trees had been knocked over, limbs were scattered, weeds were several feet high and mud covered some of the grave markers, Cupp said.

“We never dreamed it would look like that,” she said, adding that it took her and her sister Debbie Southard both more than an hour to find their buried pets.

At one point, she took a metal pole and pounded on the ground until it hit the marker.

“Shocked” was her reaction.

Southard’s dog, Cleo, died in 1983. Cupp’s dog, Pudgy, died in 1988.

“When we bought, it was beautiful out there,” said Cupp. “When your pet dies, you want to have a peace of mind that everything is OK.”

The pet cemetery has been owned by Tim Vogel since 1991. He said that because of high winds and heavy rain, he has been unable to keep up with maintenance at the 10-acre property.

“It’s been a rough year,” said Vogel. “It’s always a battle.”

Vogel estimated “several thousand” pets are buried at the cemetery, which is zoned agricultural, according to the Butler County Zoning Office.

Vogel said he is seeking volunteers to help him clean up some of the debris.

On Thursday, volunteer Thomas Kelly was at the cemetery helping to clear debris.

“We may have this cleared before spring comes,” he said. “The more people you have in a group (volunteering), the more you can get done at one time.”

Stay safe while driving on black ice

When winter hits, some of the country can deal with the aftermath of the snow and ice, while other areas, where snow is infrequent, may need a refresher on how to drive in what Mother Nature drops.

>>Related: 7 winter driving tips

One situation that can catch even the most seasoned driver off-guard is encountering black ice. 

>> Read more trending news 

For those unfamiliar with black ice, it’s a very thin coating of ice on a road. It technically isn’t black, but is so thin and transparent that drivers can’t always differentiate between wet or icy roadways.

Esurance reminds that black ice usually forms at night or early morning and is barely noticeable until it is too late and after drivers have potentially lost control of their vehicles.

So how can you protect yourself, your passengers and your car when there’s a potential for black ice?

Cars.com says know where it can form like bridges, overpasses, shady areas and roads that don't’ get a lot of traffic.

Cars.com compiled a list of AAA recommendations:

  • Look for roads that are slightly darker and duller than the rest of the street. 
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Avoid changing lanes unnecessarily.
  • Try hitting breaks before ice.
  • Control your skids by easing off the gas pedal and steer in the direction you want to go.
  • Don’t pump brakes if you have anti-lock brakes.
  • Four-wheel drive won’t help you stop faster on ice.

Police: Worker dies after being electrocuted at Ford Truck Plant

Authorities are investigating after a worker died early Saturday morning at the Ford Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky.The man, whose identity has not been released, worked in the stamping department, WAVE reported.

>> Read more trending newsThe cause of death is believed to be electrocution.Authorities arrived to find Ford security officers performing CPR on the victim, but he died at the scene, WAVE reported.An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Missouri woman wins lottery twice in single day

A Missouri woman was visited by lady luck twice in one day.

>> Read more trending newsOn Nov. 29. Veronica Buchanan won $1,000 on a $10 scratch-off ticket, KSDK reported. Later in the day, she bought another $10 scratch-off ticket from the same store, and won $100,000.The lucky store was the Bellefontaine BP gas station, KSDK reported.

More ideas to keep kids entertained during a storm

There’s only so much time you can spend playing video games or using a tablet. 

So what can you do to keep the kiddos occupied when they’re stuck inside?

>>Related: How to keep your kids entertained when stuck at home by severe weather

Here are some ideas:

Treasure Hunt

X will mark the spot when you come up with some treasures, find the best hiding spots and draw a pirate map to find the booty, American Home Shield suggests. You can hide multiple treasures, or even additional clues or puzzles on the way to finding the grand prize.

>>Related: Snow day? 5 kid-friendly craft ideas to ward off cabin fever

Dance off

You don’t need a video game to have a silly dance off. Put on some crazy music and see who can put together their best dance moves. It burns off energy at the same time the kids are stuck inside, AHS reminded.

>> Read more trending news 

Marshmallow Tinkertoys

Marshmallows aren’t just for roasting anymore. Parents magazine suggests using them as an editable Tinkertoy. Marshmallows and pretzel sticks can take the place of the classic toy.

Bowling game

All you need are some water bottles and a ball and poof, you can go bowl without having to go to the local bowling alley.

Greeting cards

Gather up any craft supplies and some paper and have the kids make greeting cards with a note included. After the weather breaks, the kids can then mail them to their intended recipient, Parents.com suggests

Upcycled T-shirt bowl

We all have that pile of T-shirts we don’t want to get rid of but don’t want to wear anymore either. You can slice them up and make a bowl out of them. 

Click here to find out how.

Origami

Find some paper and start folding cute animals and other shapes as you try your hand at origami

Go out and play

Embrace your inner child. Find the warmest clothes you can. Throw on some layers and actually go out and play in the snow with your kids instead of keeping them cooped up inside, Parents magazine suggests. If it is raining, and once any danger of a mega storm passes, go out and splash in a puddle and make memories with your family.

Source: Marlins, Yankees agree on deal for slugger Giancarlo Stanton

In a blockbuster deal, the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins have agreed to a trade that would send reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to New York, a source told The Associated Press on Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

The trade is not official yet, since Stanton must agree to the terms stipulated in his no-trade clause, ESPN reported.

Infielder Starlin Castro would go to Miami as part of the deal, a second source familiar with the negotiations told the AP.

The deal — which will give the Yankees a potent power-hitting combination with slugger Aaron Judge — is awaiting physicals for the players involved, according to multiple reports. Stanton reportedly gave final stamp of approval to the trade on Saturday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Stanton is owed $295 million over the next 10 years. ESPN previously reported Friday night that he was prepared to listen to a proposal involving the Yankees. Castro, 27, an American League All-Star for the Yankees, has two years and approximately $23.7 million remaining on his contract, MLB.com reported.

The Yankees bolstered their lineup and the Marlins will receive several prospects in addition to Stanton, but the deal stunned Miami fans, who are criticizing team CEO Derek Jeter -- a five-time World Series champion with the Yankees -- for the deal. Jeter has been ripped for already trading away an All-Star to cut payroll, as he sent second baseman Dee Gordon to the Mariners last month.

Stanton has spent  his entire eight-year career with the Marlins. In 2017, he hit 59 home runs, drove in 132 runs and batted .281 to win the NL’s MVP award.

First fire-related death confirmed in Southern California blazes

A woman whose body was found at a crash site on an evacuation route in Southern California was confirmed as the first fire-related death in a series of wildfires, CNN reported Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead in a car that authorities said was involved in a crash during Wednesday’s evacuations near the Thomas Fire. The cause of death was “blunt force injuries with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries,” the Ventura County medical examiner office said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown was scheduled to visit Ventura County -- where the largest of the six wildfires is raging -- on Saturday, CNN reported.

Firefighters had been making progress against the Thomas Fire, reaching 10 percent containment, but high wind gusts forecast for the region this weekend could reverse it, CNN reported.

>> Terrifying footage of smoky commute

“With this break in the weather, we've made good progress, but that progress is limited to those areas that are safe to fly in,” said Todd Derum, the incident commander for Cal Fire.

>> Photos of the California fires

The Thomas Fire has burned 143,000 acres since it began Monday in Ventura County and has spread into Santa Barbara County. It is the largest fire in the Los Angeles area since the Bel-Air fire in 1961 scorched the homes of the rich and famous, CNN reported.

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