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Tampabay.com - Reporting with a camera

Big event seeks big hearts (w/video)

A dog is about to be loaded onto a trailer at the Pet Resource Center on Thursday, October 5, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Three trailers with about 90 dogs are traveling today to Jacksonville to participate in the Mega Pet Adoption event taking place at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds from October 6 to October 8, 2017.

ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times

A dog is about to be loaded onto a trailer at the Pet Resource Center on Thursday, October 5, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Three trailers with about 90 dogs are traveling today to Jacksonville to participate in the Mega Pet Adoption event taking place at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds from October 6 to October 8, 2017.

For the first time, Hillsborough County sent some of its homeless pets to the one-day Mega Pet Adoption event in Jacksonville. The event, billed as the largest in the country, is held three times a year and draws as many as 8,000 people from across northeast Florida seeking to adopt up to 1,000 animals. At the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, one of 10 groups taking part, 100 dogs were packed up Thursday morning for the trip to the event site at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds.

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Stunning photos from Caribbean give sense of Hurricane Irma's destructive power

This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten.

Jonathan Falwell via AP

This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island known as St. Martin in English which is divided between French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — French, British and Dutch military authorities rushed aid to a devastated string of Caribbean islands Thursday after Hurricane Irma left at least 11 people dead and thousands homeless as it spun toward Florida for what could be a catastrophic blow this weekend.

Warships and planes were dispatched with food, water and troops after the fearsome Category 5 storm smashed homes, schools and roads, laying waste to some of the world's most beautiful and exclusive tourist destinations.

The hurricane was still north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday evening, sweeping the neighboring nations on Hispaniola island with high winds and rain while battering the Turks and Caico islands on its other side.

Big waves smashed a dozen homes into rubble in the Dominican fishing community of Nagua, but work crews said all the residents had left before the storm. Officials said 11,200 people in all had evacuated vulnerable areas, while 55,000 soldiers had been deployed to help the cleanup. …

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All Eyes: Tampa Bay prepares for Hurricane Irma (w/video)

Jackie Kreuter, 56, (right) of Gulfport, FL, tosses pool furniture in the pool Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 so it doesn't fly around during the impending hurricane. Kreuter, along with her mother, husband, sister, daughter, grandson, five dogs and a bird are boarding up their home and business and leaving for Ocala to get out of Hurricane Irma's way. "It's a mad dash to get everything done on time," said Kreuter, a 20-year resident of Florida who was supposed to go on a Caribbean cruise this week.

LARA CERRI | Times

Jackie Kreuter, 56, (right) of Gulfport, FL, tosses pool furniture in the pool Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 so it doesn't fly around during the impending hurricane. Kreuter, along with her mother, husband, sister, daughter, grandson, five dogs and a bird are boarding up their home and business and leaving for Ocala to get out of Hurricane Irma's way. "It's a mad dash to get everything done on time," said Kreuter, a 20-year resident of Florida who was supposed to go on a Caribbean cruise this week.

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday suspended all tolls in Florida, another sign that the state is preparing for the worst as Hurricane Irma strengthened into a Category 5 storm with wind speeds now up to 185 mph. The storm is now the most powerful seen in the Atlantic in over a decade, and roared westerly toward islands in the northeast Caribbean Tuesday with an inevitable turn to the north upcoming, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

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Photo gallery: Tim Tebow greets media in Tampa

Although not in the lineup Tim Tebow took timeout from his busy schedule during game day to speak with members of the media prior to the Port St. Lucie Mets taking on the Tampa Yankees Thursday in Tampa. The Port St. Lucie Mets will play a four game series against the Tampa Yankees before heading to the Clearwater Threshers on Monday, Aug. 14 for a three game series.

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Gibbs High celebrates 90th birthday (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — Students and parents arrived at Gibbs High before dawn Thursday and were greeted by a large contingent of teachers, administrators and school district officials, along with the Gibbs marching band, the Gladiators football team and cheerleaders.

The sprawling campus was bedecked in blue-and-gold balloons to mark the first day of classes.

And why not? Gibbs is celebrating its 90th year. But it was also the kind of display that principal Reuben C. Hepburn has turned into a regular feature since he arrived on the scene two years ago with an emphasis on closing the achievement gap and ramping up school spirit.

"I want our students to be able to come to a place where they know they're going to be cared for," Hepburn said. "And I want them to be prideful, I want them to be excited to display that Gladiator brand, that Gladiator logo, no matter where they go."

He said it was important to kick off the year with "something special."

The school opened in 1927 as the county's first secondary school for black students, and it remains a point of community pride for many of St. Petersburg's African American residents. …

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Photo gallery: Tampa Comic Con

View a gallery of images of Tampa Comic Con participants during this year's convention. As always the characters were out in full force.

To download or order reprints of these plus other images from Tampa Bay Comic Con, please visit our 2017 Tampa Bay Comic Con photo gallery.

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Photo gallery: Nine years later, library attack victim Queena works at learning to walk again

Slowly, Queena Phu is learning the act of walking again through exercises in locomotion, strength and balance.
She practiced her steps once again Monday afternoon with trainer-technician Mike Lopez at the nonprofit Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center near the University of South Florida.
Queena was an East Bay High School student nine years ago when she suffered brain damage from a brutal attack while returning books to Bloomingdale Regional Public Library.
Much of the cost of her therapy has been born through fund-raising events like the second Hope Classic, scheduled for Aug. 6 at Topgolf Tampa.
"It has been an incredible experience being able to see how much she's excelled from her therapy," Lopez said. "The strides she has taken have been an inspiration to all of us."

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Photos: Snooty the manatee remained lovable over the years

Snooty, the world's oldest living manatee in captivity, and arguably the world's most famous, has died, the South Florida Museum announced on Sunday. 

Snooty had just turned 69-years-old and had lived in Bradenton since the 1940s.

Story: Snooty, oldest manatee in captivity, dies in accident

Timeline: A history of Snooty the manatee

 

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Diana Huey, star of Disney's The Little Mermaid, joins mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs (w/video)

Actress Diana Huey tried on a mermaid tail in the water at Weeki Wachee Springs in Weeki Wachee, Fla. on Wednesday.
Huey stars as Ariel, the title role in the national tour of Disney's The Little Mermaid, running July 11-16 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
Most days, she simulates swimming through her undersea kingdom by flying around in a harness. But during her visit to Weeki Wachee Springs, she watched the underwater version of The Little Mermaid, then learned from the best how to swim with a tail.

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Swah-Rey quickly becomes dessert hot spot (w/video)

Two years ago Leslie Ann and Gregg Ciccone moved to St. Petersburg to be close to family and flip houses.

Greg had a career in the food industry and Leslie Ann was a air traffic controller.  She saw a need for a good dessert restaurant so the couple opened up Swah-Rey on Central Avenue.

Gregg based his menu off the recipes of his Italian grandmother and they sell cake slices, mini cakes, pie in a glass, cheesecakes and creme brûlée along with draft beers, wine, tea and Kahwa coffee.

Business has been so good that they will be opening a smaller shop on Central Ave. closer to downtown that will specialize in the mini’s.

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Cuteness: Corgi racing at Tampa Bay Downs (w/video)

More than four dozen short-legged racers ran track of Tampa Bay Downs for Corgi Racing on Saturday. 48 corgis stepped up to the starting line, after horse racing had finished for the day, to see who was the fastest and cutest Corgi at the track.

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30 refugees become US citizens honoring World Refugee Day (w/video)

30 former refugees were sworn in today as new US citizens at Pinellas Technical College. World Refugee Day was also celebrated at the event as various former refugees were honored for their service around Tampa Bay.

Dancers from The Democratic Republic of the Congo entertained guests and their families with a "Dance of Hope," for the new US citizens.

New US citizen, Ali Alazzawi, a native of Baghdad, Iraq, said he has great hope as he looks to the future with his family in the US. "I want to thank everyone for this great opportunity I have been given," he said.

Of the 30 newest citizens, a third are Cuban. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Philippines and Venezuela each had two. The others came from as nearby as Haiti and as far as Burma.

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Ex-Yankees SS Derek Jeter helps dedicate new youth addiction treatment center (w/video)

On Tuesday, former New York Yankees shortstop and founder of the Turn 2 Foundation Derek Jeter and his sister, Turn 2 Foundation President Sharlee Jeter, attended the dedication ceremony for Phoenix House's newly renovated Derek Jeter Youth Addiction Treatment Center in Brandon, Fla. The new facility doubles the center's treatment capacity over its previous location on West Waters Avenue in Tampa. A $850,000 contribution by Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation funded the new facility, but a surprise contribution of $150,000 unveiled during the ceremony raised the total to $1,000,000.

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Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honors Memorial Day (w/video)

   Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honored those that served during their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with rhythm section. On Saturday local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed flags on veterans’ graves prior to the event. This is an annual tradition of Curlew Hills' Memorial Day services and helps the Scout troops achieve merit badges.

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Photo gallery: Florida High School Track & Field State Championships, May 6, 2017

View a gallery of images from Saturday's Florida High School Track & Field State Championships in Bradenton.

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