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News at noon: Florida at epicenter of election today; Lightning get Kucherov in fold; Recruiter to bring jobs to St. Pete; Wrecking ball coming to old Pheil Hotel

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton laughs with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after their presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Monday. [Associated Press]

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton laughs with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after their presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Monday. [Associated Press]

Florida is at the epicenter of the presidential race today with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton each in the state on separate visits. Trump is in Panama City tonight for an appearance scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. His counterpart will be joined by Al Gore in Miami at 3 p.m., and Bill Clinton is speaking at the Safety Harbor Community Center; doors open at 5:45 p.m.

LIGHTNING SIGN KUCHEROV TO 3-YEAR DEAL

Times Lightning reporter Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) is reporting that the team has agreed to a three-year deal with Nikita Kucherov worth $4.766 million annually. Kucherov, the team's leading scorer last season, was a restricted free agent. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

VETERAN RECRUITER BROUGHT ON TO BRING JOBS TO ST. PETERSBURG

St. Petersburg is about to launch its first Economic Development Corp. dedicated to recruiting more and better jobs to the city, and this morning announced veteran corporate recruiter J.P. DuBuque as the EDC's first president. The creation of an EDC comes as St. Petersburg's downtown enjoys a renaissance in cultural activities, restaurants, hotels and a boom in housing construction.

[SCOTT KEELER | Times]

The 1920s-era Pheil Hotel, dubbed the "cheese grater" after its metal facade added in the 1960s, is scheduled for demolition on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.

WRECKING BALL ABOUT TO TAKE DOWN ST. PETERSBURG'S 'CHEESE GRATER BUILDING'

The final stages of demolition of the historic Pheil Hotel and bank — also known as the "Cheese Grater Building" — are about to begin. Workers today began moving into place a lattice crane, which at 9 a.m. Wednesday is scheduled to hoist a 6,500 pound wrecking ball several feet above the 11-story hotel on the 400 block of Central Avenue. The massive hole created as the ball plunges through the center of the building will become a repository for pieces of the hotel as it is demolished over the next two weeks.

WHERE DOES USF STAND AT MIDSEASON?

Here at halftime of USF's season, even the most scrutinous of Bulls fans likely agree their team has met expectations. We find out in the second half if they meet history (i.e. first conference title, first 10-win season, etc.). That pursuit continues Saturday at home against Connecticut. Joey Knight breaks down the second half with his midseason report.

CAN'T SEE AMY SCHUMER? SEE ANOTHER COMIC BEFORE THEY HIT BIG

Amy Schumer, who is performing at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Sunday, made headlines when she called Tampa "horrendous" and described how she hooked up with a guy and had a great time in her book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. Even you can't catch Schumer's performance, entertainment editor Stephanie Hayes says there are plenty of opportunities to catch a few up-and-coming comics at several locations around Tampa Bay before they hit it big.

[SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter Sept. 22 at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo.

YOUR PINELLAS COUNTY BALLOT QUESTIONS TRANSLATED

While voting for the next president and other elected officials on Nov. 8, don't overlook six proposed amendments to the county charter and a school referendum. We sorted out the jargon so you don't have to.

SAMSUNG STOPS MAKING GALAXY NOTE 7 AS FRESH PROBLEMS EMERGE

The latest Samsung fallout is its decision to halt production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones permanently, a day after stopping sales worldwide. This after Samsung said it identified the problem after an earlier that was causing batteries to catch fire.

LEAKED EMAILS SHOW HILLARY CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN STRAINED TO HONE HER MESSAGE

Thousands of emails released by WikiLeaks on Monday provide a revealing glimpse into the inner workings of Hillary Clinton's campaign. They show a candidacy that began expecting a coronation and was thrown badly off course by a misreading of the electorate and a struggle to define what she stood for.

[FSU College of Law]

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, speaking to graduation ceremonies for the Florida State University College of Law on May 1, 2016.

IN REBUKE OF RICK SCOTT, FEDERAL JUDGE EMERGES AS KEY ELECTIONS FIGURE

The judge who extended the voter registration deadline in Florida has two more chances to shape the presidential election in the coming days. Citing obstacles to voter registration caused by Hurricane Matthew, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered the state to accept voter registration forms for one more day, through Wednesday, when he will hold a hearing and decide whether to extend the deadline even further, until Oct. 18, as the Florida Democratic Party is seeking.

AS BABIES STRICKEN BY ZIKA TURN 1, HEALTH PROBLEMS MOUNT

A year after a spike in the number of newborns with the defect known as microcephaly, doctors and researchers have seen many of the babies develop swallowing difficulties, epileptic seizures and vision and hearing problems. It's an indication the virus is causing more severe health problems than first suspected.

NATURE COAST ALUM DESHAWN SMITH FINDS FOOTING AT MISSISSIPPI JUCO

Nature Coast running back DeShawn Smith showed great promise coming out of high school, but lost focus when the 2015 football season ended after his arrest on May 4. The misstep could have been enough to derail his future. But with the help of the coaches at Nature Coast, he found a home at Jones County Junior College in Mississippi.

News at noon: Florida at epicenter of election today; Lightning get Kucherov in fold; Recruiter to bring jobs to St. Pete; Wrecking ball coming to old Pheil Hotel 10/11/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 12:10pm]
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    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG —Three years ago, with the now demolished inverted pyramid still standing stubbornly in the background, Mayor Rick Kriseman laid out a plan to replace or renovate the iconic structure.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman addresses the crowd Wednesday morning at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new pier. Construction will start next week. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
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    Local Government

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    Movies

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    Local Government

    In a pocket formed at the end of a branch of the Anclote River, Kevin Meisman has seen the size of the boats coming by his family's business get smaller.

    Kevin Meisman, 37, looks out from the dock of his family’s business, Quality T-Tops & Boat Accessories, in Tarpon Springs. Meisman says that, without dredging along the Anclote River, the number of boats he can service is limited.