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Homelessness, transit, Rays top stories of the year for Tampa Bay

In 2010, we shivered.

A record cold spell prompted farmers to pump billions of gallons of water from the ground, which helped save crops but triggered dozens of sinkholes.

In 2010, we grieved.

A gunman killed two police officers during a traffic stop in Tampa. New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died at age 80. Too many bicyclists were killed on our streets.

In 2010, we debated.

Hillsborough County voters rejected a sales tax increase to pay for light rail. In St. Petersburg, with new Mayor Bill Foster at the helm, officials banned panhandling on major roads and insisted the Tampa Bay Rays find a new stadium site within or near city limits.

In 2010, we cheered.

The Rays won the American League East division title. Winter, the dolphin, starred in a movie. The Republican National Committee chose Tampa to host the 2012 GOP convention.

In 2010, we wondered.

Will trappers ever catch the elusive monkey? Is the "Hiccup Girl" guilty of murder? Do body scans and patdowns at the airport keep us safe?

What will the new year bring?

The homeless

• Homelessness and panhandling were big issues on both sides of the bay this year. St. Petersburg banned street solicitation. A similar measure in Tampa failed. Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats plans to open a new homeless shelter in an old jail annex in the coming weeks.

St. Petersburg city leadership

• In January, St. Petersburg voters selected Bill Foster to lead the state's fourth largest city. His first year was filled with budget cuts, criticism over BayWalk's continued decline, celebration over a flourishing Beach Drive and the soon-to-open Dalí Museum, and new crime-fighting strategies, including a more lenient police car chase policy, and red light cameras.

The Rays' ballpark debate

• Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg made it clear that he wants to leave downtown St. Petersburg and explore new stadium sites on both sides of the bay. He said the Rays will not stay at Tropicana Field through 2027, and asked the city of St. Petersburg to allow the team to explore options outside Pinellas. The city denied that request, saying new stadium discussions must be limited to city limits or the Gateway area. The stalemate continues.

Mass transit

• Mass transit was a hot topic in 2010, with federal money promised to pay for most of a high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando. But Hillsborough voters in November shot down a transit tax to pay for light rail. A similar Pinellas initiative was delayed until at least 2012.

The mystery monkey

• The adventures of a wild rhesus macaque captivated the Tampa Bay area this year as he escaped trappers and foraged in back yards from Hudson to Pinellas Point. Facebook fan pages popped up for the Mystery Monkey, who is still on the lam.

Bicycle safety

• The roads were dangerous for Tampa Bay area bicyclists this year. At least 10 people were killed. They included young and old, rich and poor. The son of a former governor, an art teacher, a cancer researcher, a math teacher, a man still unnamed.

Kindles in schools

• Clearwater High School students chucked their textbooks for Kindles this year, becoming the first public high school in the nation to embrace electronic readers on such a large scale.

Homelessness, transit, Rays top stories of the year for Tampa Bay 12/24/10 [Last modified: Sunday, December 26, 2010 12:31pm]
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