Tuesday, January 23, 2018
News Roundup

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 [email protected] 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.

Comments

Column: #MeToo in Tampa, 1973

I graduated from Robinson High School in Tampa in 1970 and then started my freshman year of college. As a result of having changed majors, I was out of sequence in my design program at the University of Florida after the fall quarter of ’72. I would ...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Targeted by false filings, Pinellas judge takes witness stand

Targeted by false filings, Pinellas judge takes witness stand

LARGO — In his eight years as a circuit judge, Thomas Minkoff has handled family and civil cases. He oversaw more than 14,000 foreclosure hearings at the height of the Great Recession.He was in court once again on Tuesday, but not in his usual perch ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago

Parents of defendant in Seminole Heights killings ‘devastated’ he faces death penalty

TAMPA — The father of Seminole Heights killings suspect Howell Donaldson III hopes the state attorney will reconsider his decision to seek the death penalty in the case, attorneys for the family said Tuesday."It’s upsetting to the family to know that...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
The Diary of Anne Frank opens at Stage West

The Diary of Anne Frank opens at Stage West

Anne Frank became one of the most notable victims of the Holocaust after the publishing of her diary, which chronicled more than two years of the Jewish teen’s life in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. Her story will come to life...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
ScarFace the Osprey scarfs up prized neckwear to make Coquina Key home

ScarFace the Osprey scarfs up prized neckwear to make Coquina Key home

ST. PETERSBURG — Some 25 feet up in the air, towering over Coquina Key Island sits an osprey surveying the park below. It is on the hunt for any bit of material so it can to prepare a nest for future hatchlings. Whether it be sticks, hay, palm leaves...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Man sentenced for smuggling king cobras in potato chip cans

Man sentenced for smuggling king cobras in potato chip cans

LOS ANGELES — A Southern California man has been sentenced to five months in federal prison for smuggling three highly venomous king cobras hidden in potato chip canisters through the mail.In a plea agreement, Rodrigo Franco admitted smuggling anothe...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Suspect in custody after man fatally shot in Holiday

HOLIDAY — A man is in custody after a fatal shooting in Holiday on Tuesday afternoon.Pasco County deputies say a male victim died of gunshot wounds at 3519 Richboro Drive.A preliminary investigation indicates the shooting may have stemmed from a disp...
Updated: 1 hour ago
He drove into Tampa Bay and walked away uninjured, troopers say

He drove into Tampa Bay and walked away uninjured, troopers say

A Miami resident lost control of his truck and tumbled into Tampa Bay Tuesday morning — and walked away unscathed.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Osvaldo Jares, 25, fell asleep at the wheel of his 2002 Ford F150 before losing control and dri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa micro housing advocates find big demand for living small

Tampa micro housing advocates find big demand for living small

TAMPA — When Omar Garcia announced plans to transform a vacant downtown office building into 120 micro apartments of about 300 square feet each, the calls and checks poured in."We got 90 reservations like that," Garcia said Tuesday, snapping his fing...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough State Attorney will seek death penalty in Seminole Heights killings

Hillsborough State Attorney will seek death penalty in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren will seek the death penalty for Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, the man charged with killing four people last year in southeast Seminole Heights."The death penalty is for the worst of the worst, crimes ...
Updated: 2 hours ago