06/17/10 Human Interest
VALRICO — She feels she's right back where she started.
"Only worse," said Michelle Brown.
Eight months ago, Brown's husband, Greg, lost his plumbing job just after the family moved into the first home they've ever owned.
Desperate for work, Michelle finally found a job as a photographer. For a while, it seemed like things were going to be okay.
"It felt like we were going to make it out of this," she said....
TAMPA — She doesn't waste time wondering why her family was featured in an Oscar-winning movie. For Collins Tuohy, fame is lame. There's just too much in the world that needs to be done.
The 23-year-old sister of the Baltimore Ravens' Michael Oher, whose family was portrayed in The Blind Side, will be in Tampa this weekend with her mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy.
Michael Oher, 23, was born into a Memphis family with 13 children. He never met his father and his mother was a cocaine addict. By the time he was a teen, Oher was homeless. The Tuohys welcomed him into their family and eventually adopted him....
04/29/10 Human Interest
04/22/10 Human Interest
SUN CITY CENTER
Four years ago, Andy Oosthuizen owned nothing but a toothbrush and the clothes he wore. Opening a dinner theater in Florida was the last thing on his mind. It was April 2006. White farmers in South Africa had burned down his restaurant and store. They didn't approve of him allowing black children to go to school on his property. "It was a case of life being so complicated there," Oosthuizen, who is white, said as he sat at a table in the Palace Dinner Theatre. Beside the 64-year-old, a stage awaits actors while neatly set tables are positioned just so for the next crowd. Staying "wouldn't have been worth putting my life in danger," he said....
TAMPA — Despite cracks and temporary patches, the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir is full.
Thanks to El Niño rains, a sluggish economy and conservation efforts, the region stands ready for the 2011 dry season with several sources of water, including 15.5 billion gallons from the reservoir.
"We're completely opposite from where we were a year ago," said Gerald Seeber, general manager of Tampa Bay Water, the region's utility....
BRANDON — As a plan to develop land along Interstate 4 moves forward, residents are looking for ways to fight the project.
Despite stricter growth codes touted by Hillsborough County officials, those who live near the proposed I-4 Green Tech Corridor said the plan will open rural land up to developers.
"This is the wrong thing to do, and we're all very disappointed," said Terry Flott, a Seffner community activist....
TAMPA — Gus Muench routinely pulls pieces of plastic from his crab traps on the Little Manatee River. It's the kind farmers use to grow crops.
But it's what he doesn't see that makes him wonder, the Ruskin resident told U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials Wednesday.
"It's the things we don't see that turn the water green," he said.
Muench was among more than 100 people who spoke at one of two public hearings held by the EPA on proposed changes aimed at improving water quality in the state. ...
VALRICO — While sipping on a beer, Robert Nelson Thomas decided to rob a bank. It was June 18, 2009.
Tired of being broke and living in the barn behind his mother's home, the 38-year-old got on his silver mountain bike and pedaled as hard as his bad back would let him.
He ended up in the Sweetbay Supermarket parking lot about a half mile away, just past what was then a Washington Mutual Bank. ...
BRANDON — Gangs are all over Hillsborough County, and they're right here in your back yard.
Although they've always had a presence in the county, the popularity of such groups has steadily risen in recent years, said Hillsborough County sheriff's Detective Marc Wilder.
In the past six years, the number of active gang members has more than doubled to about 4,300 in about 100 gangs, Wilder said ...
SUN CITY CENTER
A silver vase has turned black. The copper wiring behind the light switches have corroded, too.
But Eloise Lewis' gold rings were her first clue that contaminated drywall was used to build her new home. Not long after the 82-year-old moved into her two-bedroom, two-bath house on the lake in 2006, all her gold rings turned a strange dark orange color.
"And these are not cheapo rings," Lewis said. "These are rings from Tiffany's and places like that. It had never happened before."...
TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Planning Commission unanimously voted to postpone its final decision on the Interstate 4 Green Tech Corridor until April 5.
The decision came after a contentious four-hour meeting Monday night.
"I just don't want to rush this if we don't have to," said planning commissioner Frank Chillura. "It's very important."
The project would run along a 30-mile stretch of land from Temple Terrace to Polk County. Changes to county rules must be made for the development to happen....
TAMPA — Police have identified two men involved in a deadly Ybor City shooting early Sunday morning.
Willie Jones, 23, shot and killed Eduardo Castillo, 26, when Jones tried to stop a fight between Castillo and his girlfriend, according to the Tampa Police Department. It was at about 3 a.m. when the fight took place at 2028 E Seventh Ave.
When Jones and witnesses intervened, Castillo threatened them and reached into his waistband, police said....
RUSKIN — Parents arrived with sleepy children at 6 a.m.
They formed a line that grew as the sun rose Friday morning, snaking through the parking lot at the Suncoast Community Health Center in Ruskin.
Eventually, some were turned away. But none of them could afford to miss a free visit with the dentist.
As part of the national Give Kids A Smile initiative, Hillsborough County dentists, dental hygienists and others volunteered their time to treat nearly 50 children at the government-funded health center....
BRANDON — After two years and more than 50 meetings, a plan to develop land along Interstate 4 from Temple Terrace to Polk County continues to take shape.
The next stop for the I-4 Green Tech Corridor is a public hearing before the Hillsborough County Planning Commission on Monday. Planning commissioners will discuss proposed changes to county rules that could pave the way for the project to happen....
03/07/10 Human Interest
TAMPA — He takes his spot before them, bringing the room to silence.
Every Monday at Seminole Heights Baptist Church, Mark McGee teaches his students discipline and mercy. Here, they learn that God is in control, and that their bodies are a gift.
This isn't just any Bible study. This is Christian martial arts — one local example of a growing national trend of religious health practices....