Saturday, February 24, 2018
News Roundup

News at Noon: Hillsborough reaches tax deal with Airbnb; gas prices spike; Pasco moves forward on school rezoning; area home sales surge

The Hillsborough County Tax Collector's office said it has signed an agreement with Airbnb that requires the peer-to-peer rental company to collect taxes on each night booked through its online portal. The agreement will go into effect Feb. 1, meaning the county will just miss out on taxing Airbnb customers in town for the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 9.

DRIVING FOR THE HOLIDAYS? YOU'LL PAY MORE FOR GAS

Gas prices have spiked as much as 15 cents a gallon around Tampa Bay in the past week — and there's no sign of a decrease any time soon, analysts say. Nationally, gas prices are the highest they've been in December in the last six years. Why? OPEC recently agreed to reduce its output by more than 1 million barrels of oil, jumping prices to more than $50 a barrel after the announcement.

PASCO GIVES TENTATIVE OKAY TO SCHOOL REZONINGS

The Pasco County School Board has given tentative approval to three recommended attendance zone changes for 2017-18. The change for east Pasco middle and high schools proved the most contentious, with speakers from potentially affected communities clearly divided between two options.

HOME SALES SURGE AGAIN IN AREA AS PRICES CONTINUE TO CLIMB

Tampa Bay home sales showed huge year over year gains in November while prices in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties also jumped dramatically. The November figures are a sign that Tampa Bay's housing market remains strong even as rising interest rates threaten to put a chill on sales nationwide.

FHP WARNS OF SCAM INVOLVING FAKE TRAFFIC CITATIONS

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the scam goes like this: Drivers receive emails requesting payment of a citation within a certain time frame. If the payment isn't received on time, the company will demand a daily late fee. The email includes a linked payment page and email address. Anyone receiving such an email should contact authorities.

DEATH TOLL AT LEAST 31 IN MEXICO FIREWORKS BLAST

The third such blast to ravage the market on the northern outskirts of Mexico's capital since 2005 sent up a towering plume of smoke that was lit up by a staccato of bangs and flashes of light. Once the smoke cleared, the open-air bazaar was reduced to a stark expanse of ash, rubble and the charred metal of fireworks stands, casting a pall over the country's Christmas season.

SHERIFF JUDD ACCUSES 'QUEEN OF GRINCHES' IN TOYS FOR TOTS SCAM

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says his office arrested a real-life Grinch accused of taking part in a scam to steal toys from Toys for Tots. Tammy Strickland, 38, faces 166 felony counts and 28 misdemeanor charges. She is accused of filing applications using fictitious names with Toys for Tots to try and obtain toys she intended to give to clients of her personal tax preparation business. "It certainly lowers you overhead if you're stealing the toys from Toys for Tots," Judd says.

12 BLOGS OF CHRISTMAS: IN DEFENSE OF EGG NOG

During the Christmas season, eggnog is truly the gift that keeps on giving. So save your hot cocoa and cider, spiked and otherwise. We live in a nog nation and it should be celebrated as the premier beverage of the holiday season. So says Times staff writer LaVendrick Smith.

REVIEW: 'FENCES' MIGHT TRANSLATE BETTER ON STAGE

August Wilson's Fences is a stage actor's bounty, a dense, dramatic slice of African-American life calling for acting with a capital A. However, Times film critic Steve Persall writes that Denzel Washington's adaptation of Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play is slightly problematic in screen form.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

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Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

TAMPA — Roughly 20 minutes into Saturday morning's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, reigning champ A.J. Richmond glanced over his left shoulder to former college teammate Jon Mott and flashed a quick hand signal."He was telling me that t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Broward sheriff’s office launches internal investigations amid questions after Parkland massacre

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Police: Registered sex offender who attacked Marriott hotel worker arrested

Police: Registered sex offender who attacked Marriott hotel worker arrested

TAMPA — A registered sex offender was arrested early Saturday morning by Tampa Police in connection with a hotel worker who was attacked earlier this week, the department said.John Eckhard, 41, was arrested about 1:30 a.m. on charges of aggravated ba...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Orchestra explores spirit of Florida and the U.S. with ‘Triptych’ and ‘New World’ Symphony

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ST. PETERSBURG — One of the more important programs in the Florida Orchestra’s season combined Antonin Dvorak’s best known symphony with the debut of a major commission. Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, better known as the "New World," reaches to the roots o...
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Parents accused of torturing their 13 children face new charges

Parents accused of torturing their 13 children face new charges

The 13 Turpin siblings gained their freedom last month after one of them escaped through a window and called 911, ending years of imprisonment under parents accused of starving and chaining them to their beds in a putrid home not far from Los Angeles...
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Activists call for tech companies to drop NRA’s digital TV channel

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Activists are calling for Apple, Amazon, Google and other streaming companies to drop the National Rifle Association’s digital TV channel in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida school last week, putting the companies in the delicate position o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pregnant mother Paige Howard wins women’s Gasparilla 15K

Pregnant mother Paige Howard wins women’s Gasparilla 15K

TAMPA — Initially, Tampa's Paige Howard was a little reticent about joining the pre-dawn throng at the starting line of Saturday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K.On a morning when temperatures began in the mid-60s and climbed, Howard's ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Concerned about gun posts, dad turns in son’s phones. Cops find something else.

Concerned about gun posts, dad turns in son’s phones. Cops find something else.

After the Parkland school shooting that horrified the nation, a Miami father told police he was worried about his son’s disturbing posts with guns on Instagram and Snapchat.So he gave investigators his son’s smartphones — and they found child porn, c...
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Trump processes Fla. students’ grief as president, parent

Trump processes Fla. students’ grief as president, parent

WASHINGTON — Once again, it was the images of children that propelled President Donald Trump to act. Trump spent the first days after the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida fixated on the grieving and anguished students and parents. While at his Flor...
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Live blog: 2018 Gasparilla Distance Classic

Live blog: 2018 Gasparilla Distance Classic

The Tampa Bay Times will be there for every step of this year's Gasparilla Distance Classic. Whether you'll be walking, skipping, jogging or sprinting across the 5K, 8K, 15K or half-marathon finish, join us by using #gasparillarun.(function(d, s, id)...
Published: 02/24/18