Originally created 11/30/02

Across the Southeast



Governors will meet, discuss education

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -New federal legislation on public school reform is high on the agenda for a meeting in Chapel Hill next week with Education Secretary Rod Paige and governors from at least seven states.

The conference, which begins Sunday night, is sponsored by the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Education Leadership and Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Education Commission of the States.

The events include panel discussions open only to the governors and policy advisers. Those planning to attend include North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes and Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton.

Mr. Barnes is the chairman of the Education Commission of the States, which advises governors and state policymakers on trends in public education. Mr. Patton is the chairman of the National Governors Association.

Freeze could raise Christmas-tree prices

BOONE, N.C. -Christmas trees could end up costing more this year because of a late spring freeze that reduced the number of North Carolina trees ready for harvest by as much as 30 percent.

North Carolina is the second-leading producer of Christmas trees behind Oregon. Agricultural extension agents in the state say growers have been able to command $2 to $4 more per tree this year.

"Prices went up a little this year because it was a seller's market," said Jim Hamilton, a horticulture agent for the Watauga County Cooperative Extension Service. "But growers have also been conscientious about not pushing their prices too high because they don't want to hurt future sales."

The average wholesale price for a 6- to 7-foot Fraser fir - the industry standard - has been about $27 a tree this season, Mr. Hamilton said. That will translate to a cost of between $40 and $50 for trees sold on retail lots.

Early cold snap gives chills to Floridians

ORLANDO, Fla. -A blast of cold, dry air swept into Florida early Friday, sending temperatures as low as 25 degrees in the Panhandle cities of Tallahassee and Perry.

"It is kind of unusual to see it that cold in late November," said Greg Mollere, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee. "You don't expect this for another month or two."

Orlando hit 41 degrees overnight, about 15 degrees below normal, and temperatures were expected to drop further by the weekend.