Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

News at noon: Obama near arrival in Tampa; St. Petersburg celebrating boom times; survivors look back on Pearl Harbor; and Ava restaurant coming to the Heights

President Obama planned to use a speech in Tampa today to assess his role in fighting terrorism, taking credit for withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan while acknowledging the challenges of the Islamic State. He also was to send an implied warning to Donald Trump against what a top adviser deemed "poor decisions" brought by overstating the threat. The speech at MacDill Air Force Base, scheduled to begin about 4:10 p.m., is Obama's final address on national security and was to be preceded by a private visit with active duty service members and public thanks for their efforts. Stay with tampabay.com for live updates from MacDill.

WHAT'S THE STATE OF ST. PETERSBURG'S ECONOMY? DESPITE SOME HURDLES, IT'S HARD NOT TO CELEBRATE THE BOOM

The city's second annual "state of the city economy" gathering at USF St. Petersburg attracted nearly 200 to hear top city officials celebrate a town bursting with new construction of residential condos and apartments, new and compelling museums, a pier and renewed waterfront in the making, lower unemployment closing in on 4 percent and even lower poverty this year over last, among a host of thumbs-up economic indicators.

LOOKING BACK FROM TAMPA BAY ON PEARL HARBOR ATTACK, 75 YEARS AGO

National Archives and Records Administration

Ed Socha, who now lives in Sun City Center, was aboard the USS Maryland, left, as the battleship Oklahoma sank after being bombed by Japanese planes in Pearl Harbor.

Fewer and fewer people are around to talk about their memories of Dec. 7, 1941, the day of the sneak attack by the Japanese that took 2,400 U.S. lives and forced the nation into war. But many who are keep those memories alive. Howard Altman introduces us to a few.

AVA RESTAURANT TO OPEN IN THE HEIGHTS DEVELOPMENT IN TAMPA

Ava restaurant will open a second Tampa location next year inside the Heights, a 43-acre redevelopment project around the historic Armature Works building. Well known for its wood-fired pizza, Ava will serve Italian fare from a pizzeria inside the Heights Public Market, a unique food hall with vendor stalls located inside the Armature Works building. Executive chef Joshua Hernandez has developed a menu of pizzas, salads and paninis made from a 900-degree, Italian-made Acunto oven.

DRIVING WHILE DROWSY SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES CRASH RISKS, AAA STUDY SHOWS

Getting a good night's sleep has long been cited as an important factor in our overall health and productivity. But how does it impact our driving? Sleepy drivers nearly double their risk of getting in a car crash when they get behind the wheel, and even mimicking the effects of driving while intoxicated, according to a Dec. 2016 study by the AAA Foundation.

CITING COST OVERRUNS, TRUMP SAYS BOEING'S CONTRACT TO BUILD AIR FORCE ONE SHOULD BE CANCELED

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that Boeing's contract to build the next Air Force One should be canceled because of cost overruns. Boeing won the contract in January 2015. But it wasn't much of a competition. Boeing's 747-8 was the only plane made in the United States that could meet the requirements for the presidential aircraft while also being "consistent with the national public interest," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement at the time.

FOND FAREWELL: LENNIE BENNETT RETIRES AS TIMES ART CRITIC AFTER 14 YEARS

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Lennie Bennett at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg in February 2016.

In explaining an upcoming exhibition, breaking down its significance for art connoisseurs and casual readers alike, Lennie Bennett would flip to a relevant page and walk you through it. Lennie never talked down to you, Times Arts and Entertainment Editor Stephanie Hayes writes, although she rightfully could have. But she always left you feeling more learned and inspired. Lennie has been the Tampa Bay Times' art critic — art educator, really — for 14 years. Now, her career winds to a stopping point as she retires.

REVIEW: PLODDING ADAPTATION OF 'THE GREAT GATSBY' IS A SHADOW OF THE REAL THING

Like any other adaptation of a great novel, getting The Great Gatsby to the stage requires ambition and steel nerves, Andrew Meacham writes. Stageworks Theatre, which has never shied away from daunting tasks, has picked up the mantle with Simon Levy's adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic.

LOBBYING REPORT: TUESDAY AT BASEBALL'S WINTER MEETINGS

It's the most wonderful time of the year - if you like rumors, speculation, jumped-to conclusions and, undoubtedly, some outright fabrications about your baseball team and favorite players. Marc Topkin brings you the latest chatter surrounding the Rays.

MLB COMMISSIONER: THERE HAS TO BE 'END GAME' IN RAYS' STADIUM BID

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been saying for months that he is optimistic Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be able to get a new stadium and that if so the franchise can be successful in the Tampa Bay market. But Monday - while stopping well short of a threat - Manfred said there eventually has to be some action.

HAS OREGON COOLED OFF ON WILLIE TAGGART?

Because plenty of dominoes still could fall in this dizzying period of upheaval on the coaching landscape, USF fans have reason to remain anxious about Willie Taggart's future at USF. But it's appearing less likely that Oregon will represent his next rung on the coaching ladder.

ALABAMA, OHIO STATE FAVORED IN SEMIFINALS

If the odds makers are correct, Tampa's national title game will be Ohio State vs. Alabama. That's according to some odds released last evening by Bovada. The third-seeded Buckeyes are a three-point favorite over No. 2 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, while No. 1 'Bama is a 17-point favorite over Washington in the other semifinal, the Peach Bowl.

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Dunedin man seriously injured in motorcycle crash

Dunedin man seriously injured in motorcycle crash

OLDSMAR — A Dunedin man was seriously injured in a high-speed motorcycle crash early Thursday morning.According to deputies, 37-year-old Justin Kaune was riding southbound on Bayside Boulevard around 2:30 a.m. when he struck a cement median and lost ...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Tampa Bay area’s population projected to grow to 3.1 million this year

Tampa Bay area’s population projected to grow to 3.1 million this year

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay area’s population, already the largest of any metropolitan area in the state, is projected to grow from 3 million last year to 3.1 million this year, and to 3.3 million over the next five years.That growth is expected to bring c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police seek machete-wielding suspect in Plant City robbery

Police seek machete-wielding suspect in Plant City robbery

PLANT CITY — Police are searching for a suspect who, armed with a machete, robbed a Plant City convenience store on Tuesday.Police say the suspect arrived at the Circle K convenience store station at 1514 Alexander St. S around 2:50 a.m. and demanded...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor at U.S. Capitol

Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor at U.S. Capitol

MONTREAT, N.C. — U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says the Rev. Billy Graham’s body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for two days next week. Ryan says he’s inviting members of Congress and the public to pay their respects to the man called "...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

CLEARWATER — Police Chief Dan Slaughter started this month a new unit to target repeat offenders and nuisance properties.The Special Enforcement Unit consists of six police officers and a sergeant from within the department to focus on the small grou...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top 5 at noon: Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons; about those annoying popups on your phones; and more

Top 5 at noon: Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons; about those annoying popups on your phones; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:TRUMP ENDORSES RAISING MINIMUM AGE TO 21 FOR MORE WEAPONSPresident Donald Trump endorsed stricter gun-control measures today, including raising the minimum age to 21 for possessing a broader ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough County inmate dies after becoming unresponsive at Falkenburg Road jail

Hillsborough County inmate dies after becoming unresponsive at Falkenburg Road jail

TAMPA — A 54-year-old inmate died Saturday after she became unresponsive at the Falkenburg Road Jail, authorities said.Tammie Castro was alert in the jail infirmary when jail officials called for paramedics at 3:34 a.m. but became unresponsive within...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly a decade after it was first proposed, a new boutique hotel in downtown St. Petersburg is finally under construction.Workers are preparing the foundation of the Galaxy, an 11-story, 92-room hotel at Third Avenue N and First Str...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

CLEARWATER — Ruth Eckerd Hall is requesting a $3 million grant from the city to help complete the $21 million renovation of its facility on McMullen Booth Road.The Expanding the Experience project began in 2015 with a renovation of the Murray Theatre...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecasts

Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecasts

TAMPA — Bloomin’ Brands this morning beat Wall Street expectations in reporting fourth-quarter net income of $16.4 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier. The Tampa-based restaurant chain group — which in...
Updated: 3 hours ago