Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa dog park to honor deputy who died acting as 'human shield'

TAMPA — John Kotfila Jr. loved his German shepherd Dexter, but when dog owners visit the park named in his honor, they'll be reminded of an even more profound devotion.

The City Council on Thursday approved a plan to create a new dog park honoring Kotfila, the Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy killed this year after he drove his cruiser into the path of a speeding wrong-way driver to save another motorist.

"It's a fitting way to pay homage to a guy who lost his life protecting somebody else's," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. "That's the least we can do for him, his family and his memory."

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plans to build the park on land it owns under the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. That's the elevated road where Kotfila, 30, was mortally injured in a March 12 crash with Erik Thomas McBeth of Hudson, who also died.

The driver Kotfila saved has said he "was trying to be a human shield."

"I feel certain in my heart that he knew exactly what was about to happen to me," Sarah Geren said after the crash, "and that he sacrificed himself instead."

Given Kotfila's love for his dog, officials said, expressway authority executive Joseph Waggoner thought it made sense to name the park for him.

It could open in late February or early March between N Raymond and N 12th streets at the northern end of the Channel District. The city will contribute $15,000 a year to maintain it.

Council wants city to help drywall victims

Council members scheduled a Nov. 10 discussion on ways the council can work with Hillsborough County to provide relief to families whose government-subsidized homes are blighted with toxic Chinese drywall.

Hillsborough commissioners this week discussed working with the city and Tampa Housing Authority to use affordable housing funds to rehab the homes of four Belmont Heights families whose drywall has emitted hazardous fumes for nine years.

"It's sad, what's going on with these families," council member Frank Reddick said.

Council member Mike Suarez requested that the city and housing authority report on who is responsible for construction defects on the houses, what insurance the contractors or subcontractors had and whether it would be possible to try to claw back money from the contractors or drywall supplier.

Hearing on planning for medical marijuana

The council also gave its initial approval to an ordinance putting a 180-day hold on proposals to establish medical marijuana dispensaries or similar facilities inside city limits.

The idea of the hold, similar to a moratorium enacted by Hillsborough County, would be to give the city time to set rules for dispensaries if Florida voters allow the use of medical marijuana by approving Amendment 2 on Nov. 8.

"Thank you for taking the initiative of protecting our children and our community," anti-marijuana activist Teresa Miller said. She compared dispensaries to pill mills that attracted patients from out of state before being forced out of business. "These are not the type of tourists or businesses that we want to attract."

A final hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 17.

Council says farewell to Lisa Montelione

Thursday was the last meeting for two-term council member Lisa Montelione, who is leaving her northern Tampa seat early to run for the Florida House of Representatives in District 63.

"You have been a tenacious, passionate and effective council woman for your district, and I think the city's a better place for your service," council member Harry Cohen told her. "Thank you very much. We're going to miss you."

"It's very emotional," Montelione said. "I've learned so much from all of you. Sometimes we agree. Sometimes we don't agree. But I believe we all have the community and our citizens ... at the heart of everything that we do."

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

Comments
The St. Petersburg Women’s March: Here’s what you need to know

The St. Petersburg Women’s March: Here’s what you need to know

ST. PETERSBURG — On Sunday afternoon, people will take part in the Women’s March, part of a series of marches taking place this weekend. Here’s what you need to know:When is the Women’s March?The march begins at noon on Sunday, Jan. 21, and a rally w...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Deputies: 18-year-old speeding on U.S. 19 rear-ended car, faces charges of DUI, fleeing scene

PALM HARBOR — A speeding teenager on U.S. 19 refused to stop for deputies and took off, later rear-ending a car and injuring three adults early Sunday morning, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.A little after 1:30 a.m., Kingzig Montan...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Forecast: Sunny, high of 78 in Tampa Bay

Forecast: Sunny, high of 78 in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Temperatures should reach the upper 70s on a warm, sunny, mild Sunday, kicking off a mild week in Tampa Bay, forecasters predict. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Woman dies after falling ‘several decks’ from a balcony on a Carnival cruise

Woman dies after falling ‘several decks’ from a balcony on a Carnival cruise

A woman sailing on a Carnival Cruise Line ship from Jacksonville fell from her cabin’s balcony and died Friday.Doral-based Carnival Cruise Line spokesman Vance Gulliksen confirmed the death Saturday, saying in a statement that the incident occurred e...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

More inmates died in Florida prisons last year than in any other year on record, leaving the state scrambling to identify causes and find solutions. The tally, 428 inmate deaths in 2017, was released late Friday by the Florida Department of Correctio...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18

Leonard Pitts Jr.: One year later.

And here we are, one year later.If you are groping for markers by which to measure how profoundly we have been changed since Inauguration Day, here’s one you might want to consider:In January of 1998, reports surfaced of a sexual affair between Presi...
Published: 01/21/18
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jalen Hudson came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Chiozza, Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributed clutch baskets down the stretch as Florida rallied to upset No. 18 Kentucky 66-64 Saturday night. "We were able to win it jus...
Published: 01/20/18
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Published: 01/20/18