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Good Reads

  1. Jim Kern started the Florida Trail five decades ago; he's still waiting for the Legislature finish it

    Essays

    Look how far you can get just by putting one foot in front of the other.

    Jim Kern on his island property surrounded by the waters and marsh of the Tolomato River North of Saint Augustine. The avid hiker has worked since the 1960s to get the Florida Trail on the list of National Scenic Trails and continues his efforts to get the state and federal funding to complete what he started. [Photo by Bob Self for For the Tampa Bay Times]
  2. An FAA investigation warned of 'potential tragedies.' Officials hid it from the public

    Airlines

    Before the jet's pilots nearly lost control of their plane as it hurtled down a Las Vegas runway, it flew for weeks with a problem that could have killed everyone on board.

     Two maintenance personnel work on the panel of a Allegiant Air MD-80 tail section at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016.
  3. Born exposed to drugs, what chance did he have? One mom risked finding out

    Health

    The boy was only two days old when his mother slipped out of the hospital. Hours later, he shuddered and convulsed, his body going into withdrawal from the opioids he had grown used to in her womb.

    DeAnne DeCicco, 37, enjoys a rare, quiet moment with her son Enzo DeCicco, 4, before bedtime in their family home in Fort Myers n March 14, 2017. (JOHN PENDYGRAFT |   Times)
  4. Susie Wheldon, wife of late IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon, opens up about life without him

    Auto racing

    At the edge of the racetrack, on a wide pad of asphalt, Susie Wheldon stooped to help her small son.

    Susie Wheldon, 38, hands her son Sebastian, 7, his crash helmet at Ocala Grand Prix January 29, 2017. The helmet was designed by the same artist who did helmets for his father, race car legend Dan Wheldon.  It depicts a caricature of Dan Wheldon, the Lionheart, in knight's armor fist bumping Sebastian.
  5. Unresponsive doctors and others who don't understand add to the anguish endured by women with endometriosis.

    Human Interest

    I couldn't believe it was back.

    I was in Jacksonville, about to photograph my first out-of-town college football game as the solo shooter, and there I was, crying on the floor of the media bathroom, clutching my abdomen. It felt as though a shadowed figure was stabbing me again and again. I gripped the toilet bowl …

    Eve Edelheit poses for a portrait in her apartment in St. Petersburg on February 1, 2017. She felt trapped in her apartment for months in 2016 after her endometriosis surgery took a bad turn and put her on bed rest for nearly 10 weeks.
  6. Can you solve the mystery of this afflicted St. Petersburg statue?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    She slumps beside the sidewalk on a plaster stump, right arm resting on her thigh. Her right hand fell off long ago. Her left arm is gone.

    A weather-worn, life-size statue sits on the north edge of 22nd Ave S near 46th Street. Its origin is a mystery. Recently, someone placed a shirt over the statue's head. Photographed Jan. 5, 2017. (JOHN PENDYGRAFT |   Times)
  7. She was 7 when he killed her father, but time hasn't tempered her blame

    Public Safety

    The documents were folded, tucked away for a reason. They weren't the kind of thing 28-year-old Amanda Peters wanted to look at every day, but she kept them in a box of important records, along with her Social Security card and her passport, to call upon when needed.

    Amanda Peters (right) and her mother Roseann Peters pose for a portrait in front of Amanda's new home in Connecticut. In 1995, Adam Millan shot and killed Vincent Peters, Amanda's father, when she was just 7. Millan served just 12 years under a plea deal. The Peters family feels like justice was never served in their case. But last year Milan was arrested in Hillsborough County, accused of sexually assaulting a woman while working as an electrican. Now the Peters family hopes Millan will get life in prison. [Alexander F. Yuan  |  Special to the Times]
  8. Blink and you'll miss the old attractions of Florida, disappearing fast

    Human Interest

    I know I wasn't the only one bummed out last month by the news that Florida's version of Stonehenge, the Airstream Ranch, was being torn down.

     Airstream Ranch, the RV Stonehenge of Interstate 4, was razed last month. It was erected by Frank Bates in 2007. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]
  9. Catching up, one year later: A recovering heroin addict finds hope and grace

    Human Interest

    The day before he almost died, he had seen his older sister overdosing in a recliner. He had watched his neighbor, a nurse, give her a shot of Narcan, the drug that lifts addicts from the brink of death. He had seen the paramedics cart her away.

    Six months after overdosing and almost dying, Michael Dingman has completed a recovery program, has a job  and lives in a Sarasota halfway house.
  10. In 24 years together, they avoided fights about politics. Then Donald Trump became president

    Human Interest

    PALM HARBOR

    For years, Steve and Chazzy Foy avoided talk of politics. It wasn't that important to them. And they had a vague awareness that, in their 24 years together, they had grown apart politically.

    Chazzy and Steve Foy pose for a photograph at their home Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 in Palm Harbor. The couple has always avoided talking about politics but this most recent election has sparked a controversy within their relationship. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
  11. Orthodox Syrians gather to pray, but talk of immigration ban is elusive

    National

    TARPON SPRINGS

    The special service wouldn't start for an hour. But by 5 p.m. Thursday, people were pouring into the church.

    Lexi Gabro plays the electric keyboard during a service Thursday at St. Athanasius Syriac Orthodox Church in Tarpon Springs. His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, who lives in Damascus, Syria, visited the church.
  12. I needed help finding love, so I turned to Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba

    Human Interest

    I had an idea growing up of what love should look like.

    Dashboard Confessional frontman Chris Carrabba, left, and drummer Mike Marsh perform during the Ambassadors of Rock Tour at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  [Getty Images]
  13. Peter Pan and Wendy found love in real life

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — He first saw her onstage, dancing in a silver sequined dress.

    Taylor and Gabriella Simmons act as Peter Pan and Wendy in Peter Pan at freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 12, 2017. Taylor and Gabriella got married in Bradenton on December 30, 2016.
  14. Can we get our beloved Publix to take over the business of running Florida?

    Human Interest

    It's no secret that I love Florida. I love our beaches, our gorgeous sunsets and state parks. I especially love our police-beat stories, where you regularly find headlines like, "Accused 'porta potty' puncher popped in toilet tantrum."

    Publix was founded in Winter Haven in 1930 and now has 700 stores around the country. It is the country’s largest employee-owned grocery chain.
  15. In the digital age, do blind dates still exist?

    Human Interest

    Troy Coker called it a "legitimate, classic blind date."

  16. Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco taught me everything I know about love

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    Even on the outdoor patio of Ybor City's Cuban Club, the smoke hung like fog. It was a cigar festival, after all, and hundreds were puffing on stogies. Among the few not partaking were Dick Greco — the former four-time mayor of Tampa — and me. He was there supporting his wife, whose medical …

    (from left to right) Paul Guzzo, Dick Greco and Amy Guzzo pose for a portrait in the Tampa Bay Times studio in St. Petersburg on Friday, January 13, 2017.
  17. Time for a kindness break

    Human Interest

    Join hands with me, will you, for a pre-Thanksgiving prayer:

    First lady Michelle Obama hugs former president George W. Bush as they and their spouses President Barack Obama and former first lady Laura Bush arrive at the opening ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, a rare bipartisan moment in 2016. (Al Drago/The New York Times)
  18. Think you can guess whether these voters will choose Clinton or Trump?

    State Roundup

    Certain groups can be expected to vote a certain way each presidential election. Non-white voters, for more than half a century, have voted for a Democrat. The most recent polls in key states show Hillary Clinton winning that demographic. Gun owners voted against President Barack Obama and for President George W. Bush, …

    Faye Whitefield Morazan Carlton, 61, of Lakeland, Eric Maughan, 47, of Lutz, and Jordan Orr, 26, of Lakeland. CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times

  19. Tampa and Cuba, once Cold War enemies, now work together to save the ocean

    Water

    FOUR MILES OFF THE COAST OF KEY LARGO

    Five scientists sit in a fishing boat on Aug. 21, waiting for divers to emerge. They stare at the water, struggling to keep the conversation going.

    JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times  Hanzel Caballero (left) and Pedro Chevalier (right) from the National Aquarium of Cuba prepare to dive to help set nets in an underwater nursery of elk horn coral run by The Florida Aquarium in anticipation of a coral spawn in the Florida Keys Sunday, August 21, 2016.
  20. Florida controls the road to the White House, so why not the White House?

    Human Interest

    You, as a Florida voter, hold the fate of the world in your hands.

    Let's put a Florida man, or woman, in the White House. (Times illustration  |  Ron Borresen)