Here's what's new this morning.
GASPARILLA PARADE'S NAVY HERO SURVIVED DANGER, INJURY
When U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr Ramesh Haytasingh got in trouble as a young man, a judge told him to speak with a U.S. Navy recruiter. That meeting led Haytasingh to deployments totalling four years and eight months in Iraq and Afghanistan, half of them as an explosives specialist. On Saturday, he will roll down Bayshore Boulevard with the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates as the procession's community hero. The honor goes to a local person with an inspiring story.
OPPONENTS LINE UP AGAINST NEGRON'S EVERGLADES PLAN
Rochelle Neumann held back tears up as she told a Senate committee how her family rebuilt their paddle board company in Stuart four years ago only to have it closed for good when toxic algae plumes returned last year and poisoned the coast. Neumann was among dozens of residents and business owners who came to testify Wednesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Natural Resources, which is drafting a $2.4 billion plan to use tax money to bring fresh water to South Florida and avoid another toxic algae summer.
FEDS ORDER PINELLAS BALLOTS BE PRINTED IN ESPANOL
Bilingual ballots will soon be routine in elections in Pinellas County, which has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Justice to publish all voting materials in both English and Spanish for the first time.
RUTH: DON'T EXPECT MUCH FROM BILLIONS IN ROAD WORK
By the time the $6 billion plan by the Florida Department of Transportation to add 90 miles of toll lanes to Interstates 75, 275 and 4 and expand a new Howard Frankland Bridge to eight free lanes, plus two express, pay-to-drive lanes, is completed, on this much we can probably all agree: we will all be such burnt, fried and scorched toast. Here's what we'll likely wind up with for $6 billion, according to columnist Daniel Ruth.
EPILOGUE: LONGTIME MADEIRA BEACH PUBLIC SERVANT PATRICIA SHONTZ
If ever there was an institution embodied by one person, for Madeira Beach that person was Pat Shontz, who died Jan. 19 at the age of 83. "She had a great love for this city," said longtime friend and business associate Art Broderick.
HAWAII? EVEN BUCS PRO BOWLERS ARE OK WITH ORLANDO
For most of its history, the real perk of going to the Pro Bowl -- as an NFL player, as a coach, as a fan, as a reporter -- was Hawaii, the king of All-Star venues. With this year's game and the next two years in Orlando -- Sunday's game at Camping World Stadium and this week's practices at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista -- you could expect a understandable drop in excitement, compared to its island predecessor.
BY THE NUMBERS: FSU A RECRUITING POWERHOUSE
Since Jimbo Fisher took over in 2010, Florida State has been one of the top recruiting programs in the country. Each class has been ranked in the top 11, a streak that will likely continue this season. Here's a numerical breakdown.
SAFETY HARBOR MAYORAL CANDIDATES FOCUSED ON DOWNTOWN
On March 14, voters will choose between former mayor Joe Ayoub and current Seat 1 Commissioner Janet Hooper to replace Mayor Andy Steingold, who has decided to step out of local politics for the first time in a decade. The Tampa Bay Times asked the candidates to share a bit about themselves and what they plan to do if elected.
THE STORY BEHIND MY FAMOUS, ONCE-STOLEN VIOLIN
The violin is more than 300 years old. There's only a handful like it in the world. Known as the Gibson ex Huberman, the revered instrument came Joshua Bell's life one fateful day during the summer of 2001. Bell, in his own words, tells the story of this once-stolen violin, before he comes to Tampa to play the Straz Center.