Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

News at noon: The FBI finds threats against a St. Petersburg mosque aren't credible, a dead deer dangles from a Brandon High flagpole — and a controversial state forestry contract was weird from the start

• FBI officials identified and interviewed a person who left threatening voicemails at two Pinellas County mosques over the weekend and found no actual plans to carry out acts of violence, an FBI spokesman said today.

• It wasn't until the sun peeked above the horizon, illuminating the flagpole outside Brandon High School, that the flock of teachers and students streaming into the building for class Monday morning noticed something was amiss. Strung up the pole, where a flag usually flies, a dead deer hung by its back leg.

• A $500,000 contract with Forestech, a company founded by the a state Department of Environmental Protection official and her husband, was cancelled last month. Questions about how it was awarded led to the resignations of at least two agency officials and renewed concerns about DEP Secretary Jon Steverson's management of the state park system. But even before that, it seemed clear to those paying attention that something was strange about the way this contract was being handled.

• With six weeks left in 2015, clear winners and losers are emerging among prominent publicly traded companies in the Tampa Bay area, our business columnist Robert Trigaux writes, as stock markets open today fresh from last week's sharp declines. Concerns are now compounded by the attacks in Paris that occurred after U.S. markets closed Friday.

• For three quarters and then some, the Cowboys-Buccaneers game was devoid of drama. But then defensive end Greg Hardy, already a controversial figure, took off his helmet and began yelling toward Bucs fans in the south end zone. And after that? Drama in droves. Thomas Bassinger looks at how the game pivoted in today's Turning Point.

• Our restaurant critic has a few things she wants to tell you about the new Kings Street Food Counter in St. Pete: "Like, on the weekends Kings Street is serving food until 4 a.m. Also, they have a whole poutine menu and the best corn dog I've had in recent memory. And for dessert, it would be unwise to forgo the flaky, crispy cronut topped with molten deep chocolate ganache and a flurry of really good bacon chunks." And while she needed to find strangers to help her finish that cronut, the beer garden atmosphere provided the perfect environment to do it.

• The family-friendly Florida Strawberry Festival has booked one of the friendliest families around, the Osmonds, to headline its 2016 lineup next March. The lineup is a huge slate of names from the worlds of country (The Band Perry, Cole Swindell, Josh Turner, Martina McBride, Merle Haggard), rock and pop (Charlie Wilson, Cheap Trick, Echosmith) and Christian rock (Lecrae, Casting Crowns) and more.

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