Friday, July 20, 2018
News Roundup

News at Noon: This election day is setting records. Is the Sunshine Skyway still closed? Also, a five-senses guide to St. Paddy's Day.

• It's Election Day in Florida, and voters who hadn't cast their ballots in early voting are headed to the polls throughout Tampa Bay today to vote the old fashioned way. Even before the polls opened at 7 a.m., turnout was already on a record pace. More than 2 million Floridians have cast ballots via early voting and mail ballots. More than half of them (1.1 million and counting) are Republicans. By the time polls close tonight, the statewide turnout is expected to set a new record for votes cast in a presidential primary in Florida. Remember: Polls are open locally until 7 p.m., and this is a primary — only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote. We've got a quick reminder about what you'll need to bring. Tampa Bay Times reporters will be in the field all day long — keep up with them in our live blog.

• Sea fog closed the Sunshine Skyway early this morning — and it was still closed around 11:30 a.m. We'll let you know when it finally reopens, but be ready for a repeat of the same conditions tomorrow morning.

• "In case you haven't noticed, St. Petersburg's Fourth Street N is crawling with new restaurants," writes Times staffer Justine Griffin. Pei Wei, the fast-casual Asian food restaurant chain, opened there yesterday. It follows the recent opening of Fresh Kitchen, a restaurant known for its veggie bowls and cold-pressed juices. Those new restaurants are helping solidify the street as another new corridor for food in St. Pete's bustling restaurant and nightlife scene. And there's more on the way.

• Legoland announced big expansions to the Winter Haven theme park and resort this morning, with the goal of making the kid-centric park a major player in the Florida vacation scene. The park will add a large family resort area, night time entertainment, a themed-area with a ride and a 4D theater experience, all with predecessors inside and outside of the brand. But the final project to debut will be the largest.

• Mother Teresa will be made a saint on Sept. 4, the 19th anniversary of her death. Pope Francis set the canonization date today, paving the way for the nun who cared for the poorest of the poor to become the centerpiece of his yearlong focus on the Catholic Church's merciful side.

Robbyn Mitchell recaps last night's finale of The Bachelor. It's a fact that hearts are always broken on this show — but this was brutal. JoJo was so obviously in love with Ben that even his parents, Amy and Dave, felt impressed by her. Her feelings were never in question. Which made every moment of this episode cringeworthy. She put it all out there in a way that felt as real as any Bachelor confession ever. And then he crushed her.

• Those eager to have a say about how the gateway to St. Petersburg's new Pier will look and function will get a chance to do so today when designers of the $20 million project unveil their preliminary concepts. Find out what's in store with our sneak peek before you go.

• Thursday is St. Patrick's Day; have you made any plans? You don't need to be Irish — pretty much anyone can wear something green and drink lots. But for the savvy celebrant, there can be something more. "Every sense can be tickled by St. Paddy's Day if you know where to look," writes Robbyn Mitchell. "Lucky for you, you've got us." Check out this five-senses guide to the year's greenest holiday.

• Here are the rest of the top things to do today around Tampa Bay, including some early St. Patrick's Day parties and international teams here to play baseball.

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For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where the Rays come out of the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Marlins. Here's the lineup for Tampa Bay, which dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami:Kiermaier CFHechavarria SSBauers 1BRoberts...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
USF reportedly lands Virginia Tech transfer

USF reportedly lands Virginia Tech transfer

USF reportedly has added some offensive line depth, adding Virginia Tech transfer Thomas Hopple.It appears 247Sports had the story first. Hopple, not projected to be a part of the Hokies' two-deep chart in 2018, must sit out this season per NCAA tran...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Pasco sheriff: Woman faked kidnapping attempt on her daughter to frame former business partner

Pasco sheriff: Woman faked kidnapping attempt on her daughter to frame former business partner

HOLIDAY — The mother of a 12-year-old girl was arrested Thursday after authorities said she faked a kidnapping attempt on her daughter in an effort to frame a former business partner.Tammy Steffen, 36, is charged with child neglect, filing a false po...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Watch: Florida woman brought to tears upon realizing she left her 8-month-old son in a hot car

Watch: Florida woman brought to tears upon realizing she left her 8-month-old son in a hot car

A Volusia County woman was brought to tears Tuesday after she returned to her car to see her 8-month-old son still alive and healthy after she left him inside with the windows closed.Accompanying her baby, however, was a Volusia County deputy.Meagen ...
Updated: 29 minutes ago

Authorities identify victims in Spring Hill shooting

SPRING HILL — Deputies on Friday identified three victims in a string of shootings Thursday that left the shooter and one victim dead.The shootings began in Hudson, where deputies said Theodore Antonia Parker, 59, shot at 44-year-old Tonya Haseman ar...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida is one of three states in the nation with the biggest income gap between the very rich and everyone else.In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally had an average income of more than $1.3 million — or 26.3 times as much as the $50,107 ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Largo woman, rescuers save beached whale on Indian Shores

Largo woman, rescuers save beached whale on Indian Shores

Times Staff Writer INDIAN SHORES — The sun had yet to rise. A strong breeze from the Gulf of Mexico cooled the otherwise warm and muggy Indian Shores beach. The surf was choppy Friday morning as Bonnie Charity began her daily walk, unlike some days w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Friday that his agency will not arrest a man deputies say fatally shot another man during an argument over a handicap parking space.The incident falls under Florida’s self-defense law known...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

TAMPA — When it comes to filling a ballpark, the Tampa Bay Rays are Major League Baseball’s perennial bottom-dweller. The team has finished last in average attendance the past six seasons at Tropicana Field. As of the All-Star Game, the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays call up C Adam Moore to replace injured Wilson Ramos

Rays call up C Adam Moore to replace injured Wilson Ramos

The Rays made the easiest move to replace injure C Wilson Ramos, calling up journeyman Adam Moore from Triple-A.Moore, 34, has played parts of eight seasons in the majors, last with the Indians in 2016 and before that with the Mariners, Royals and Pa...
Updated: 3 hours ago