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Sherri Day, Brandon bureau chief, makes way for Ernest Hooper

I won't draw this out. Here is what you need to know: Ernest Hooper is the new Brandon bureau chief.

Starting Monday, he will supervise the Times' coverage in east Hillsborough County. This, my friends, is awesome news. You know Ernest, so I don't have to explain why.

And don't fret. He's keeping his Friday column in the South Shore & Brandon Times section.

Because there can be only one big kahuna in a bureau, I'm moving on. I am going to the Times' Tampa office to become an assistant metro editor. This is a promotion. But when I told my staff last week over Krispy Kreme doughnuts, there were tears. Mostly from me.

I'm excited about the new challenge. I'll supervise reporters who cover law enforcement, court proceedings and breaking news, heady and important business in this county. But I'll miss my team in Riverview. They made coming to work every day fun. As I pore over police reports, I'm sure I'll pine for conversation on topics that ranged from Princess Kate's fascinators to the coordinates of the latest sinkhole.

There also was a lot to like about our office. It sits in an imposing building replete with Greco-Roman-looking columns in Riverview's Winthrop Town Centre. I'll miss Menchie's yogurt shop, near-daily jaunts to Publix and looking out my window and wondering about the latest happenings at the Regent.

Slurpies from the 7-Eleven at Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road helped ease the trials of my twin pregnancy in 2010. I also reveled in the pad thai at Jasmine Thai, the chips at La Septima in Brandon and anything on the menu at Circles in Apollo Beach.

Okay. So I like to eat. There are plenty of places to do it well in east Hillsborough. Perhaps that's what made my weekly appointment with the lunchtime group at the Weight Watchers on Causeway Boulevard a can't-miss event.

There is much to admire about the people of east Hillsborough. It still seems the kind of place where a handshake and a person's word is a necessary addendum to a contract. The way this community continues to rally around the Bloomingdale Library rape survivor warms my heart.

This is the home of the mighty Armwood Hawks and the mightier Zach Bonner. Who knew so much happened in Sun City Center, where the golf cart is the preferred mode of transportation and bachelors just issued a saucy new calendar?

You've heard the one about change being life's only constant. This paper has a new name for our flagship edition, Tampa Bay Times. That'll take some getting used to. Maybe it will help people stop thinking that we drive over a bridge every day to cover the news. Ernest lives in Seffner. I live in New Tampa. We're at home, and now our name reflects that.

Some of you may have noticed that longtime South Shore & Brandon Times photo editor Skip O'Rourke's photos no longer appear in the section. That change business got him, too. He's in Pasco County now, leading photo efforts there. If you think you see him out and about, you're probably right. He lives in Brandon.

Look for me, too. After nearly three years as bureau chief, east Hillsborough is a part of me. I regularly take visitors to see the manatees at the TECO Power Plant. I'm sure that Christmas Lane in Dover will become part of my family's yearly tradition. (For the uninitiated, get there early. It's delightful.) There is one thing I hope never to experience again: traffic around Westfield Brandon mall during the Christmas holidays. How many ways can you say nuts?

You can still reach me at sday@tampabay.com. Or, if you look closely, you might see me at the Strawberry Festival or sipping a milkshake at Brandon Farms' stand on State Road 60.

It's been fun.

Sherri Day, Brandon bureau chief, makes way for Ernest Hooper 01/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 3:30am]
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