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  1. Charlie Crist asking local youth for advice on how to stop deadly car theft epidemic

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is meeting with local children Wednesday night to get their thoughts on how to stop the deadly juvenile auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    "We must come together to find a way to stop this deadly trend before more lives are lost," Crist said in a statement ahead of the event. "To truly enact change, our youth must be a part of the solution, and I look forward to hearing directly from them on how we can work together to do just that."...

    From left: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Congressman Charlie Crist, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway during a meeting earlier this year to discuss the car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  2. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman sells house for $3 million to new player

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman's multi-million Davis Islands home is staying in the Lightning family. Yzerman sold his 6,265-square-foot house Monday to new defenseman Dan Girardi for $3 million.

    The sale was recorded in a Hillsborough County filing Tuesday.

    Previous coverage: Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million...

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman sold for $3 million Monday to Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi. | [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  3. Hernando commissioners propose tax-rate reduction as budget talks continue

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The typical budget battle between the Hernando County Commission and Sheriff Al Nienhuis has largely been averted this summer, except for a dust-up over how the sheriff has accounted for federal inmate money. But a minor skirmish did break out this week.

    Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes suggested a small rollback in the proposed property tax rate for the 2017-18 fiscal year and proposed that it be equally shared by the county's operations and the sheriff, sparking a familiar divide in the commission and a debate about taking needed funding away from important public safety functions....

    Hernando County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes has suggested a small rollback in the proposed property tax rate for the 2017-18 fiscal year and proposes that it be equally shared by the county's operations and the sheriff.
  4. Danny Rolling killed five in Gainesville 27 years ago this week


    The following story appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on October 26, 2006, the day after Danny Rolling was put to death. Also included are photos covering the period from the time of the murders to the day of Rolling execution.

    Rolling Executed

    By Chris Tisch, Tamara Lush and Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler

    Times Staff Writers

    STARKE – The drab brown curtain between killer and survivors opened at 5:59 p.m. Wednesday. Danny Rolling lay on a gurney....

  5. Ex-TPD sergeant LaJoyce Houston takes plea deal in stolen tax refund case


    TAMPA — LaJoyce Houston, a former Tampa police sergeant accused with her husband in a federal tax refund fraud scheme, has agreed to plead guilty to receiving stolen government property, court records state.

    A plea agreement in which Houston admits to the charge was filed Wednesday morning in federal court in Tampa. A hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

    Houston, 50, was expected to go to trial next month on more than a dozen charges, including aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. But if she proceeds with her guilty plea, she will no longer face most of those charges....

    Former Tampa police officers Eric and LaJoyce Houston walk into the Sam Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse on Oct. 28, 2015, to face charges relating to stolen identity tax refund fraud. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES
  6. Deputies: Vet who practices in Gulfport, Port Richey abused animals at Lakeland home


    LAKELAND – A veterinarian who practices part-time in Gulfport and Port Richey was arrested Tuesday along with her husband after Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies found more than 30 severely abused animals at their Lakeland home.

    Gail Anne Nichols, 66, and Paul Craig Smith, 74, are each facing three counts of felony animal cruelty, one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty and five counts of confinement of animals without sufficient food, water or shelter after the deputies seized 28 miniature horses, two full-sized horses and eight dogs from their home at 3211 West Bella Vista Street....

    Veterinarian Gail Nichols, 66, (above) who practices in Gulfport and Port Richey, was arrested Tuesday along with her husband Paul Smith, 74, after Polk County deputies found more than 30 severely abused animals at their Lakeland home. The two are each facing several counts of felony animal cruelty, among other charges, after at least 38 horses, birds and dogs were found at 3211 West Bella Vista Street in dire states and in filthy, unlivable conditions. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  7. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined


    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday night's new episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" in our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast. Listen below:...

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  8. Steve Kornell says small fix can help St. Pete's sewage problems


    ST. PETERSBURG— Steve Kornell knows his idea won't put much of a dent in the $326 million bill the city must pay over the next five years to fix its inadequate and outdated sewer system.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rick Kriseman's administration lashed in St. Pete sewage report...

    St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell (right) during a 2012 council meeting at City Hall. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  9. FWC reminds you to mind mating manatees in Tampa Bay


    Female manatees know what it's like to be sought after — maybe too much so.

    It actually sounds pretty exhausting. If you ever see what appears to be a large herd of manatees huddled together in the water, they're likely mating. But for every one female manatee, there can be up to 25 male manatees surrounding her, drawn to her pheromones, biologists say.

    That's a lot of males vying for one female's attention....

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding Floridians to be mindful of manatees while they're mating. Interfering in their mating practice could be considered harassment, according to FWC. (FWC)
  10. Can the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl thrive in competitive sports market?


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's a funky name: the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. But the new sponsors for the former St. Petersburg Bowl might need more than an eye-catching name to create a thriving, profitable contest.

    With a proliferation of college football bowl games and a local market with limited brand-name options, both nabbing a corporate sponsor for the annual St. Pete football gathering and keeping it is a challenge. ...

    NC State head coach Dave Doeren clutches the championship trophy after winning the Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in 2014. Bowl organizers are changing the name of the game to the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

  11. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues


    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans sat for the anthem in Week 11 last season to protest the election of President Donald Trump, but he received a lot of negative feedback and his protest lasted one game....

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  12. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs


    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    "I'm definitely impressed with both rookies," first-year tight ends coach Ben Steele said. "Auclair and O.J. (Howard) obviously both have made huge strides with the gap from coming from college, especially from Canada. Without a doubt, (Auclair) is one of those guys that just works super-hard. He's a natural learner, a football junkie and that helps with the transition. He still has a lot of room for improvement as everybody does in camp."...

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  13. Off-duty Manatee County deputy saves couple from burning car

    Public Safety

    MANATEE COUNTY — Neil and Claudia Cook are lucky to be alive after an off-duty deputy spotted them trapped in their smoking car and rescued them just before it became engulfed in flames on Sunday.

    Manatee County deputy Willie Finklea was riding his motorcycle with his wife on Moccasin Willow Road around 2:27 p.m. when he noticed the Cooks' car on the side of the road, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports....

    Neil and Claudia Cook were trapped in their smoking car on Sunday when an off-duty deputy kicked out the window, rescuing them just before the car became engulfed in flames. [Courtesy of Manatee County Sheriff's Office]
  14. Calm (Largo) and clamorous (St. Petersburg) converge Friday night


    If Largo and St. Petersburg high schools are going to be successful this football season, it will be because of defense. And if those defenses are going to be successful, it will be because of secondaries that are potentially the best in Pinellas County.

    Largo's soft-spoken and hard-hitting group includes seniors Cameron Tisdale and Calvin Lockett, junior Solomon Brown and sophomore Jayion McCluster. ...

    St. Petersburg High School CB/RB Jalynn Williams practices with his team Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.
  15. After 17 years, Pasco-Hernando State College attorney steps away


    The longtime attorney for Pasco-Hernando State College has resigned for what he says are "purely personal reasons."

    Steve Schroeder, who also holds the title of vice president of policy, announced his resignation to college president Timothy Beard last week. After 17 years at the college, his last day will be Sept. 8.

    Beard said the move came as a surprise, despite Schroeder's occasional mentions of wanting to do something else....

    Steve Schroeder, the general council for Pasco-Hernando State College, resigned last week. His last day will be Sept. 8.