Friday, September 21, 2018
News Roundup

The Daystarter: Governor signs bill that merges all USF campuses; where uprooted West Tampa residents landed; Tiger, Bourdais top busy sports weekend; St. Patrick’s Day parties

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

• As you head out for your morning commute, check out our live blog for the latest traffic updates and road conditions across Tampa Bay.

• Plan your week! Here are the top things to do this week in Tampa Bay including lots of St. Patrick’s Day parties, Jason Mraz and Saturday Night Live’s Ana Gasteyer on local stages.

• In a rare Sunday overtime session, the Florida Legislature passed a budget of nearly $89 billion for next year to end a session that was overshadowed by the mass shootings in Parkland.

• On Sunday, Gov. Rick Scott signed the Legislature’s two sweeping education bills reforming K-12 and higher education that included a provision to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its accreditation.

• A 2-year-old girl drowned Sunday, hours after she was pulled from a lake behind her home. The death appears to be accidental. Stay with for updates.

• Patients have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting their health care providers these days. Some some doctors and institutions in the Tampa Bay area are offering new "perks" to patients in an effort to draw more business. Inspiration Place, which opened late last year, allows women to get a massage and a pedicure in between routine clinical appointments, like a pap smear or mammogram. They are separating themselves from the pack with what has come to be known as "concierge medicine," offering perks to women, often the heads of households, who are looking for some comfort and more of an "experience" at the doctor’s office.

• Until the bulldozers moved in, more than 2,000 people lived in North Boulevard Homes, an aging West Tampa public housing complex of about 820 military-barrack style apartments. Over an 18-month period, they were all relocated one way or another. Seven tenants died and 25 were evicted. The rest are now scattered across Tampa Bay and as far away as Brooklyn, N.Y., Philadelphia, and Gulfport, Miss. Find out where they went.

• The wheels have been set in motion for Duke Energy Florida to build a solar photo-voltaic car canopy in a section of a pier parking lot whose users will include patrons of a proposed Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille and nearby public boat slips. The facility will provide shade, light and charging stations for electric cars. Base rent for Duke will be $12,000 a year, but the lease must be renewed every 10 years per city charter. Read more about a facility the city says fits in with the pier’s sustainability efforts.

• During a key vote in the Florida Senate to reject an assault weapons ban, Republican Sen. David Simmons argued that the original reason for the Second Amendment was so people could protect themselves from a tyrannical government. Simmons invoked the Nazis to drive home his point. "Adolf Hitler confiscated all the weapons — took all the weapons, had a registry of everybody — and then on the night of June 30, 1934, sent out his secret police and murdered all of his political opponents," Simmons said March 3. "You think it doesn’t happen in a free society? It does." PolitiFact Florida reports that Simmons’ statement misses several historical facts.

• The sixth-graders kept bickering, but it was the older boy’s final retort that set the 11-year-old off. "Black people should live in the street!" the 12-year-old said, according to a police report. "That’s it!" the younger boy said before charging the 12-year-old and shoving him out of his seat to the floor. His desk fell with him, a corner of it slicing the first knuckle of his left middle finger. More than a year after the January 2017 incident at Safety Harbor Middle, the classroom confrontation is the subject of a lawsuit against the younger boy, his mother and the Pinellas County School Board. Colleen Wright has the details.

• For the second year in a row, St. Petersburg resident Sebastien Bourdais won Sunday’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, this time despite cutting a tire on the race’s opening lap. The 39-year-old native Frenchman earned his 37th career win.

• At the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook, a birdie putt by Tiger Woods to force a playoff came up just short, giving Paul Casey his first PGA Tour victory since 2009. Columnist Tom Jones writes that, despite finishing second, Woods delivered a weekend that Tampa Bay golf fans won’t soon forget.

• It was a big weekend for music fans and our pop music critic Jay Cridlin has lots to report on this year’s Gasparilla Music Festival on our Soundcheck music blog. You can also catch up on Tampa Bay’s own American Idol hopeful.

• Zach D’Onofrio came bearing socks. He left with a golden ticket to Hollywood. The Wesley Chapel 17-year-old charmed his way past the judges during Sunday’s premiere of the ABC reboot of American Idol, crooning Frank Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight. He’ll move on to the Hollywood rounds airing later this spring.

• We’ve had so many people ask us we thought everyone could use this guide to how to get Hamilton tickets when the blockbuster show comes to the Straz Center next year


Football: Sickles 7, Freedom 3

TAMPA — Sickles needed a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter to escape Freedom 7-3 on Homecoming and remain in the hunt for a Class 7A, District 8 title.Gryphons coach Patrick Murphy knew that facing the Patriots would be a battle. Freedom (1-...
Updated: 9 minutes ago

Football: Clearwater Central Catholic 38, Northeast 17

ST. PETERSBURG — Championship caliber teams don’t cut themselves any slack.Just ask senior quarterback Rory Hicks, a tough grader moments after visiting Clearwater Central Catholic rolled out its textbook offensive precision to subdue Northeast, 38-1...
Updated: 13 minutes ago

Football: Wesley Chapel 48, Gulf 7

NEW PORT RICHEY — Welcome to the Jelani Vassell show. The Wesley Chapel junior entered Friday night’s game leading Pasco County in touchdowns with seven. Before the first quarter ended against Gulf, he had added three more as the Wildcats eventually ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago

Rays journal: Carlos Gomez says ump should’ve been ejected

TORONTO — After unleashing a Twitter rant criticizing umpire Andy Fletcher's work behind the plate Thursday, Rays OF Carlos Gomez doubled down on his comments, saying he was even more upset about how Fletcher treated him when questioning a thir...
Updated: 15 minutes ago

Football: Wiregrass Ranch 42, Wharton 6

TAMPA — The Wiregrass Ranch Bulls football team has been struggling on offense the last two weeks heading into Friday’s District 7A-8 game against Wharton High. The Bulls had scored a total of 19 points the last two games after averaging 30.5 the fir...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Rays bounce back big after a debacle

Rays bounce back big after a debacle

TORONTO — The way the Rays played Friday — all nine innings, lesson learned — in beating the Jays 11-3 provided the best answer on how, or even if, they could rebound from the crushing loss the night before that all but ended their ...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Football: Dixie Hollins 43, Dunedin 6

ST. PETERSBURG — A 14-point halftime lead by Dixie Hollins become a blowout as the Rebels took big chunks of yardage through the air and on the ground in the second half to stifle visiting Dunedin, 43-6.The Rebels got on the board late in the first q...
Updated: 1 hour ago
UCF-FAU featured the fun most Florida teams would love to have

UCF-FAU featured the fun most Florida teams would love to have

ORLANDO — The first two times Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic faced fourth down Friday night at No. 16 UCF, they kept their offense on the field. The quarterback punted.On the third time, the Owls brought their punt unit onto the fie...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Forward Adam Erne flicks the puck into the net, but he has no time to celebrate.He flips around. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Snow flies off his skates. Erne then squares his body as he arrives in the defensive zone, steps away from the net.Within a secon...
Updated: 1 hour ago
FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

ST. PETERSBURG — An act of kindness ended tragically when the body of a missing motorist was found Friday more than 15 hours after he pulled over on the side of Interstate 275 to assist another driver.Dhimitri Andoni, 22, of Clearwater was driving no...
Updated: 2 hours ago