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What you need to know for Friday, Feb. 26

Kristin Chenoweth comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall. [Photo courtesy of Ruth Eckerd Hall]

Kristin Chenoweth comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall. [Photo courtesy of Ruth Eckerd Hall]

• You'll want grab a jacket before you head out this morning, as temperatures are expected to drop a bit more, according to 10Weather WTSP. Some areas will see temperatures in the 40, with continued cooling into Saturday.

• Waking up and wondering about the Republican presidential debate? Who told the truth? Who didn't? PolitiFact has a full report this morning at

• President Obama is heading to Jacksonville this afternoon to talk up economic growth spurred seven years ago by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He's visiting Saft America, a battery manufacturing plant that received a $95 million stimulus grant in 2009. Follow @JeremySWallace for on-the-ground reporting and look for updates at

Plan your weekend! Our critics have culled the best date night and family playtime options for you, from the free Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field to concerts from Josh Groban and the Beach Boys and even some Oscar night fun at a local movie house.

• Before heading to tonight's performance of Mozart's opera, Cosi Fan Tutte, read our performing arts critic Andrew Meacham's take. He calls it a promising start to the Florida Opera Festival.

• Speaking of opera, the Wicked pipes of Kristin Chenoweth are opera-trained. We talked with the Broadway and Glee star ahead of her show tonight at Ruth Eckerd Hall. She promises to show off her eclectic tastes, with some Dolly Parton between Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Schwartz, and torch songs like My Funny Valentine.

What you need to know for Friday, Feb. 26 02/26/16 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:24pm]
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  1. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  2. In Florida, nation's only lightning center closes after DARPA cuts funding


    University of Florida professor Martin Uman usually spends much of this summer at an old Army base about an hour northeast of Gainesville, shooting rockets at thunderclouds, then measuring the bright flashes of lightning that followed.

    Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning at the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, which recently lost federal funding. A rocket trailing a grounded wire is launched toward an active thunderstorm at the ICLRT. One launch is from a tower, one from ground. When the wire is about as high as the Empire State Building, lightning is induced to strike the top of the wire, much as it strikes tall objects like the ESB. Interestingly, the cloud charge source is about 3 miles high, so a 300 yard-long wire can cause a 3 mile or more long lightning.  After that, there are several normal tortuous strokes ( downward leaders from the cloud charge/upward return strokes) which can be seen as the wind blows the individual strokes to the right. The time between strokes is about 50 thousands of a second. Between some strokes, continuing current can be seen. Continuing current is what generally starts forest fires. [Photo by Dr. Dustin Hill]
  3. Editorial: Reasonable clarity on gambling in Florida


    Gambling expansion strategies — and misfires — are nearly an annual ritual in Florida. There were the eight counties that voted to allow slot machines but were blocked by the Florida Supreme Court. There was the governor's $3 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2015 that was never approved by the …

    Gov. Rick Scott agreed to a much simpler deal with the Seminole Tribe that embraces the status quo instead of expansion. And that’s a good thing.
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Editorial: Hillsborough smartly embraces diversion program for youths


    Children who commit minor crimes can pay for their mistakes for a lifetime — losing a chance to attend college, join the military or obtain credit and a good job. That is unjust to the individuals and a burdensome cost to society, and Hillsborough County is taking the right new approach by giving some juveniles a …

    Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has announced an agreement between law enforcement agencies and the courts that will allow first-time offenders who commit nonviolent crimes as juveniles to be issued civil citations rather than face an arrest and prosecution.