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News at Noon: Life sentence shortened after 20-plus years; National Signing Day updates; area hot among industrial markets; Fed to leave rates alone

Floyd LaFountain sits in court Wednesday before being resentenced to 22 years, time already served, and 15 years probation, in the death of Manuel Huerta in 1994. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]

Floyd LaFountain sits in court Wednesday before being resentenced to 22 years, time already served, and 15 years probation, in the death of Manuel Huerta in 1994. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]

Floyd LaFountain, 39, serving a life sentence, has been resentenced to 22 years — time he has already served — for his role in a 1994 robbery in which someone else pulled a gun and killed 73-year-old Manuel Huerta of Tampa. A series of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions, which declared it unconstitutional to give juveniles life sentences, opened a path toward his reduced sentence.

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: LIVE UPDATES ALL DAY

Whether you follow the Seminoles, Gators, Bulls or one of the many high schools around the Tampa Bay area, the Times is bringing you all the news from signing ceremonies, the first day high school seniors can officially commit to colleges. Our blog includes tweets, photos, videos, stories and more.

TAMPA BAY EMERGES AS ONE OF NATION'S HOTTEST INDUSTRIAL MARKETS

The Tampa Bay area vaulted from No. 28 to No. 10 last year in net leasing of distribution and light industrial space, according to a new report by Colliers International. Overall vacancy rates dropped to 6.3 percent despite more than 4.4 million square feet of new construction in 2016. Among the area's key strengths are its location on the busy I-4 corridor and a growing population that increasingly shops online, a trend reflected in Amazon opening major distribution centers in Ruskin and Lakeland.

FED LIKELY TO LEAVE RATES ALONE AT TIME OF UNCERTAINTY

At some point in the coming months, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to resume raising interest rates. Just not quite yet. The Fed will likely end its latest policy meeting this afternoon with a decision to keep its benchmark rate unchanged at a time of steady economic gains but also heightened uncertainty surrounding the new Trump administration. Expect an announcement after 2 p.m.

ZOO CALLS BABY MANATEE'S DEATH 'TRAGIC ILLUSTRATION' OF HUMAN IMPACT

It was just a week ago that the Lowry Park Zoo was posting videos on its Facebook page of the orphan manatee calf nicknamed Emoji. He was happily swimming, drinking formula from a bottle and seemed to be making great health strides three months after he had arrived at the zoo emaciated and with a stomach full of trash. But Monday morning, the heartsick veterinary staff reported that the little seacow had passed away.

JUST IMAGINE IF PUBLIX RAN THE LEGISLATURE

Can we put Publix in charge of running the state? It's a thought from Times reporter Craig Pittman. After all, the Legislature, which convenes March 7, had a total meltdown in 2015 and did things that were, in a word, illegal. The House adjourned without approving a budget. The Senate came up with self-serving redistricting maps. The Supreme Court called both unconstitutional. And the voters are just plain ticked off.

WOMEN ARE, VERY SLOWLY, GETTING MORE SEATS IN BOARDROOM

According to a study, the number of women sitting at the table in corporate boardrooms across the country is rising very slowly — but parity won't happen until 2055 unless the pace picks up. That's nearly 40 years away, which may be about when girls born today begin sitting on corporate boards.

TOM JONES ASKS: DID THE LIGHTNING SEASON DIE ON TUESDAY?

The Lightning still has 31 games left to play and is still, incredibly, only six points out of a playoff spot. If Tampa Bay went on a, say, 8-1-1 run, it very well could climb comfortably into the playoff pack. Times columnist Tom Jones says games such as Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Boston suggest the Bolts simply are not capable of going on such a run. In a nutshell, the loss has been what this season has been all about.

SOME IDEAS FOR YOUR WEEKEND

Rays Fan Fest, a second dose of Monster Jam and a night of arena-size stand-up comedy from Katt Williams are only some of the happenings this weekend.

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.

News at Noon: Life sentence shortened after 20-plus years; National Signing Day updates; area hot among industrial markets; Fed to leave rates alone 02/01/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 12:00pm]
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    Local Government

    Tampa Bay political leaders often tout taking a regional approach to solve the region's most pressing issues. But the challenge has been getting Hillsborough and Pinellas County leaders together on the same page.

    Or in this case, in the same room.

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