05/17/13 Human Interest
PALM HARBOR — The grinning teenager, surrounded by a makeshift mariachi band, holds a sign: "Prom?"
The photograph of his romantic gesture is captured in Palm Harbor University High School's 2013 Aftermath yearbook — and it unlocks a surprise.
"Hold your smartphone over this photo and a video of prom pictures starts to play," said Judy Cannaday, the school's journalism teacher and student media adviser. "It's awesome!"...
Environmental workers have skimmed all of the diesel fuel they can from the surface of the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs following a large boat fire Tuesday, and divers are now trying to determine how much fuel remains in the hold of the 85-foot Skye Marie, the U.S. Coast Guard said Friday.
SWS Environmental Services has collected about 4,900 gallons of diesel-contaminated water around the Skye Marie, which was anchored at the Chevron fuel depot at Tarpon's Sponge Docks around 11 p.m. Tuesday when flames began shooting out of the boat's cabin....
05/13/13 State Roundup
OLDSMAR — Gov. Rick Scott launched a two-day, campaign-style swing through the state Monday to celebrate the Legislature's decision to temporarily eliminate a sales tax on manufacturing equipment.
"This is a great victory," Scott told a trade crowd inside BryCoat, a local metallurgical coatings manufacturer. "By removing the tax, Florida businesses will now be able meet their full potential. Manufacturers can buy more equipment, hire more people, do more marketing, do more research."...
OLDSMAR -- Gov. Rick Scott launched a two-day, campaign-style swing through the state on Monday to celebrate the Legislature’s decision to temporarily eliminate a sales tax on manufacturing equipment.
“This is a great victory,” Scott told a trade crowd inside Brycoat, a local metallurgical coatings manufacturer. “By removing the tax, Florida businesses will now be able meet their full potential. Manufacturers can buy more equipment, hire more people, do more marketing, do more research.”...
05/07/13 Local Government
LARGO — Seven years ago, after an unexpected inheritance, Pateeka Murphy and her husband bought a single-wide mobile home in the Briarwood Travel Villa and RV Park.
The couple, who met at a Fort Lauderdale homeless shelter, painted the walls white, the trim red. They plucked ripe bananas from nearby trees.
"We moved from a van to a tent to the most beautiful home of all," said Murphy, who uses a wheelchair and lives on $750 a month. "And now, we could lose everything."...
05/07/13 Human Interest
OLDSMAR — Wanted: A master of buzz cuts, hot shaves and gentle (but firm) advice.
The folks at Oldsmar Family Barber Shop have searched nearly a year for the right person. They've asked around town and posted on Craigslist. Recently, they've stopped running ads for their red brick salon on St. Petersburg Drive because there are too many customers and not enough hands.
"It's difficult to find a good barber," said Izzy Cintron, who each day serves 20 to 30 clients. "You've got to be a barber and a psychologist. You've got to really listen to people, build relationships with people, so they keep coming back."...
LARGO — In a recent photo, the smiling baby girl with dark brown eyes and a curly black ponytail is holding a tiny pail and shovel, ready for the beach.
Ananhie Fernandez, 2, loved the water and her butterfly-print bathing suit. Her future, it seemed then, was bright.
But early Sunday, for reasons still unexplained, her mother's live-in boyfriend slammed the toddler against a chair and wall, police say. Sometime before 3 a.m., 27-year-old Joel Adrian Cruz — accompanied by Ananhie's mother, Karina Mora, 19 — brought the child to St. Petersburg's All Children's Hospital....
She painted her lips red, slipped into a lacy black dress and pulled on 5-inch, patent leather Christian Louboutin pumps.
"These," she said, shouting amid the Mahaffey Theater crowd, "are my special graduation heels."
And Krystle Hoshowski, 25, strutted, literally, into the next phase of her life: Hard-working, fashion-loving University of South Florida graduate with a bachelor's degree in business management and a minor in health care. ...
05/03/13 Economic Development
OLDSMAR — From a ramp three stories high, she launches 40 feet through the air. The Florida athlete says this stomach-dropping rush is vital to her year-round training — but, for now, she can fly domestically only in Southern California.
Largo's Amanda Geving, 24, is among a growing and vocal group of local BMX riders who support a state-of-the-art Olympic-style track, only the nation's second, proposed for Oldsmar....
OLDSMAR — Beimei Kohler envisions white petals brushing the pavement. If her landlord approves, the co-owner of Aki Sushi on Tampa Road plans to build an arbor in her parking lot and plant climbing jasmine.
The move is consistent with the city's Tampa Road Corridor Plan, which seeks, among other roadway improvement initiatives, to beautify highly visible businesses along Oldsmar's main drag. ...
04/30/13 Public Safety
OLDSMAR — A woman called 911 early Tuesday to report a bizarre yet distinctly Floridian sight: An alligator, she told dispatchers, was snapping at cars near a dentist's office.
Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found the 10-foot reptile at the corner of Tampa Road and County Road 611 around 5:45 a.m., a Sheriff's Office spokesperson said.
Deputy Jeff Crandall, a 30-year squad veteran, chose to wrangle the beast. He roped the gator's neck, according to the Sheriff's Office, and taped its snout. ...
04/30/13 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — He was a prominent Pinellas engineer who taught Sunday school, a casual guitarist who preferred the old gospel songs, a Southern gentleman who always held the door.
But William "Bill" Baker's favorite role was family man.
"Every day, he said 'I love you,' " said Barbara Baker, his wife of 30 years. "He never hesitated to tell us how he felt, how much he appreciated us."...
04/30/13 Real Estate
LARGO — Monica Breeding's dream home took six years to build.
The city demolished a dilapidated mobile home park in 2007, envisioning a pristine new neighborhood to sprout from the rubble. Officials hoped the roughly 2-acre plot of land on Fourth Avenue NE, formerly the Marine Mobile Home Park just behind Largo High School, would become Eleanor Oaks, a five-house, environmentally friendly, single-family subdivision....
TARPON SPRINGS — He read the tweets, the derogatory statements about his daughter. And after the fury passed, he crafted a response.
The father of the Tarpon Springs High School teen who has accused a male schoolmate of rape said Tuesday that he wrote a nine-paragraph statement to defend her.
"Trust me, I wanted to say so much more," he said. "And I will after the state is done handling the case."...
ST. PETERSBURG — They were sisters — not by blood, but through their shared love of drawing, Nintendo Wii, long talks and music.
Both 16, Alexia Douglas and Christina Shiver collected ticket stubs from rock shows and summer Warped Tours. Alexia taped dozens to her dresser mirror, leaving little room to inspect her dark-haired, green-eyed reflection.
On a book shelf, next to her favorite cotton-candy body spray, she kept the next adventure: Of Mice and Men, playing May 2 at St. Petersburg's Jannus Live....