TAMPA - Here are five things you need to know happening in Florida on Thursday, July 5..
(1) Senator Bill Nelson in St. Petersburg
Senator Bill Nelson will be in St. Petersburg on Thursday to meet with Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) scientists. He will discuss how their research on the long-term impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will benefit from the RESTORE Act.
Nelson's visit comes a few days after Congress passed legislation that will send money the government received from fining BP to Gulf Coast communities most affected by the oil spill.
Most of the funds will be used for restoration and economic development activities but some money is being dedicated for long-term spill-related scientific research.
The Florida Institute of Oceanography is based at the University of South Florida. The FIO is a consortium of more than 20 public and private institutions from across the state that focuses on marine science.
The meeting will take place at 11:00 a.m. at the C.W. Bill Young College of Marine Science Complex on the USF St. Petersburg campus.
(2) George Zimmerman bond decision
The judge in George Zimmerman’s murder trial is expected announce his decision on Thursday whether Zimmerman will be released from jail or remain behind bars.
Zimmerman is charged with the February murder of Trayvon Martin. He told police he shot Martin in self defense and pled not guilty.
Zimmerman had been free on a $150,000 bond, but the judge revoked the bond in May after prosecutors said he and his wife misled the court about his finances.
Using a PayPal account, Zimmerman collected around $204,000 to help in his defense. About $150,000 is now in an managed trust after $30,000 was used to pay for "life in hiding."
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O'Mara, says his client should be granted freed on the original bond amount because he is not a danger to the community and has cooperated with police in the murder investigation.
(3) Suncoast Parkway road inspection
Officials with the Florida Turnpike Enterprise will inspect a section of the Suncoast Parkway in Hernando County for damage on Thursday.
Crews will be using a falling weight deflectometer to see if flood waters from Tropical Storm Debby damaged the roadway. The special piece of equipment takes electronic readings of the road to determine its structural integrity.
The southbound lanes of the Suncoast Parkway from near the Citrus-Hernando County to State Road 50 opened on Wednesday morning. The northbound lanes in the same area could reopen as early as today if the road is deemed safe.
(4) 2012 Miss Florida Pageant
The first preliminary round of the 2012 Miss Florida Pageant will take place Thursday night in St. Petersburg.
The forty-three contestants from across the state have been making appearances across the Tampa Bay region since Sunday.
The winner of the pageant will go on to compete at the 2013 Miss America Pageant. Over $50,000 in cash scholarships will be awarded to this year's Class of 2012.
Preliminary round one will begin tonight at 7:00 p.m. with round two Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
Both the finals of the Miss Florida Pageant and the Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen Pageant are on Saturday. The teen finals begin at 5:00 p.m. with the Miss Florida finals following at 7:30 p.m.
The competition takes place at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. For more information or tickets, call (727) 892-5767.
(5) Rock the Park
The monthly Rock the Park musical showcase series takes over Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Thursday.
Three bands from Orlando and Tampa will perform beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The line-up is
Rock the Park is a free event. All ages are welcomed and pets on leashes are allowed.
For more information, visit www.rocktheparktampa.com .
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