Sunday, February 18, 2018


Divya Kumar

Divya Kumar

Divya Kumar joined the Times in 2016. Born in Indiana, she has called Florida home for the last decade. Divya holds bachelor’s degrees in mass communications and economics from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Kidney recipient Keshava Persaud, left, embraces April Scott , an altruistic organ donor, as Persaud's wife, Pauline, greets Scott's husband, Steven Schmitz. The couples met for the first time Wednesday at Largo Medical Center. Scott donated one of her kidneys and Persaud was the recipient. Schmitz also is an altruistic donor, but does not yet know the identity of the person who received his kidney. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]

A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

LARGO — Keshava Persaud entered the room inside Largo Medical Center, his wife at his side. His eyes went right to the couple across the room. They looked so young, he thought. Tears welled as he handed the woman, April Scott, 49, potted white...
Published: 02/14/18
Christine Leinonen, right, unveils a sculpture honoring her late son, Drew Leinonen, at Seminole High School on Friday. Helping her is a friend, Kendra Frorup, of  Wesley Chapel. Drew Leinonen was killed in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Years earlier, as a student, he started Seminole High's Gay-Straight Alliance. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

At Seminole High, a new sculpture recalls a popular alum killed in Pulse shooting

SEMINOLE — With the help of a friend, Christine Leinonen lifted the black veil, revealing the bronze likeness of two clasped hands. First came the tears, and then an observation about the sculpture: The hands, she said, were the perfect...
Published: 02/09/18
Florida Commissioner Adam Putnam visits the Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. [DIVYA KUMAR | Tampa Bay Times]

Why should veterans get concealed weapon permits? Adam Putnam says it's because they face threats from ISIS

The road to Tallahassee was paved with a Wednesday pit stop at the Veterans Art Center in St. Petersburg for gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, who shared his “conservative vision” to “push back against forces of the left that want...
Published: 02/07/18
Luis Rodriguez and Sgt. Tim Montanari at a signing event for Rodriguez' book. The two first met when Montanari arrested Rodriguez during a violent confrontation in 2001.

The cop and the lost soul: Years after their violent meeting, they are friends

ST. PETERSBURG — For the past 10 years, Luis Rodriguez and St. Petersburg Police Sgt. Tim Montanari have called each other friends. They met when Montanari arrested Rodriguez for trying to kill him and another officer. "I was just a mess,"...
Published: 02/07/18
The City of St. Petersburg is considering a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

St. Petersburg still mulls plastic bag ban. But it’s in no hurry.

ST. PETERSBURG — The proposed ban on single-use plastic bags is still on the table for City Council. But the city isn’t ready to act just yet. Officials are still surveying the public and businesses to find out what they think and are also waiting to...
Updated one month ago

Pinellas news briefs

GOODWILL PROGRAM SEEKS BOOKS, DONATIONS, VOLUNTEERS: A drive to support Goodwill’s BookWorks childhood literacy program runs from Feb. 1 through March 15. People in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Marion, Sumter and Highlands counties...
Updated one month ago
The Tampa group

Tampa okays ordinance regulating massage parlors through bathing permits

TAMPA — The City Council voted unanimously with one member absent Thursday morning to adopt a revised bathhouse ordinance from the 1980s aimed at cracking down on illicit services offered in massage parlors.The measure was criticized as...
Updated one month ago

New bar recalls St. Petersburg’s casual, laid-back past

ST. PETERSBURG — The owners of Five Bucks Drinkery recently opened Tamiami, a bar that aims to nod to St. Peterburg’s history, at 269 Central Ave., the location of the former Crowley’s. The bar is named after the old St. Petersburg hotel and former...
Updated one month ago
St. Petersburg's long-awaited partnership with Duke Energy to replace its old street lights with new LED lights was announced by Mayor Rick Kriseman at a news conference Thursday at Silver Lake Park. The city will replace 31,000 street lights. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]

Finally, St. Petersburg, Duke Energy agree on LED streetlights

ST. PETERSBURG — After years of impasse, Mayor Rick Kriseman and Duke Energy on Thursday evening celebrated a long-awaited partnership to start replacing all 31,000 of the city’s incandescent streetlights with LED ones.In his inaugural address...
Updated: 2 months ago
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, is sworn in for a second term by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Mark Shames, right, as Kriseman's wife, Kerry, holds a Torah and his son, Samuel, looks on Tuesday at City Hall. Not shown is the Krisemans' daughter, Jordan. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

St. Petersburg city leaders take oaths, promising a 'progressive' era

ST. PETERSBURG — On a chilly morning facing a crowd bundled in winter coats, Mayor Rick Kriseman and new members of a historic City Council were sworn in Tuesday, pledging progressive leadership.
Updated: 2 months ago