Elisabeth Parker, Times Staff Writer

Elisabeth Parker is a community news reporter for the Times, based in Tampa. A graduate of the University of South Florida, she joined the Times in 2002.

She's always looking for story ideas.

Phone: (813) 226-3431

Email: eparker@tampabay.com

  1. Restaurateur Richard Gonzmart crowdsources food sampling for Ulele restaurant

    Human Interest

    TAMPA HEIGHTS — Dinner one day last week for a lucky few — 40 or so — was a sampling of ice creams vying to make the menu of soon-to-open Ulele.

    Six flavors of fresh ice cream, served up in half coconut shells with a view of the Hillsborough River.

    Rank them according to your favorite.

    Fourth-generation family restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, of the Columbia, has been tasting possible menu items for months for the highly anticipated native-inspired restaurant he calls his legacy. One day it was jumbo lump crabs and five types of gulf snapper, and another it was candied duck bacon and maple fried ice cream. He tasted tequilas for eight hours straight on another day....

    Richard Gonzmart, who also owns the Columbia, says that the opening date of Ulele, featuring native-inspired cuisine, is not set.
  2. Tampa City Council looks to spur riverfront development with land deals

    Local Government

    TAMPA — A plan to spur riverfront development on a prime 12-acre site in West Tampa moved ahead Thursday when the Tampa City Council unanimously voted to buy two pieces of property several miles away to relocate utility trucks.

    The trucks have been kept at 2609 N Rome Ave., two blocks south of W Columbus Drive and a block from the Hillsborough River. City Hall will eventually market that site to developers as part of a larger, 120-acre redevelopment called West River. The development will ultimately hold 1,500 new residential units mixed with stores and trails along the river leading to Riverwalk and other waterside amenities....

  3. Local moms join national trend of selling breast milk online



    Her freezer holds plastic bags of liquid gold. • Not all new mothers can produce enough milk to feed their babies, but Brittney Coley, 26, makes twice as much as her 5-month-old, Jaxson, needs. • Last week, while Jaxson cooed contentedly at one breast, Coley pumped milk from the other into a bottle. She calls it breast juice and sells the extra for $2 an ounce. It boils down to capitalism. • Coley turned to a website where women sell their milk in May, after her air conditioner broke down for a second time and she scrambled to afford the fix. She signed in and posted her ad on onlythebreast.com....

    Nick Payton  heads to the kitchen with freshly pumped milk from his wife, Brittney Coley, who feeds their baby while pumping. Coley says, “Usually my goal is to make enough for the car payment or the electric bill.”
  4. Researchers show off projects at Haley VA Medical Center


    TAMPA — Retired Marine Lt. Col. Ty Edwards gripped a vertical bar attached to his power wheelchair and pulled himself upright.

    Edwards couldn't stand by himself until his physical therapist at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center came up with the idea for the StandBar. The device is being patented by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    As the VA endures allegations of poor care, wrongful deaths and delayed medical care across the country, Haley officials spent Thursday highlighting researchers' work advancing medical care. Much like a science fair, researchers at the Tampa hospital packed an auditorium with rows of displays. ...

  5. Priest again leans on faith amid tragedy

    Human Interest


    Three weeks ago, Father Carlos José Rojas stepped up to the pulpit in St. Joseph Catholic Church with a message of hope.

    Not to hope would be to despair, he wrote in a text.

    Rojas should know. For the second time in a year, he has been asked to take over a church touched by tragedy.

    First it was Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Wimauma, where he replaced Father Demetrio Lorden, who was hit by a car while riding his bike home from church. He was in a coma for a week and is recovering in Spain....

    Father Carlos José Rojas helps Yasmin Luna with a reading during a Mass for kindergarten graduation at St. Joseph Catholic Church on May 29. He recently came from Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Wimauma.
  6. Friends carve a path from Academy Prep to Tampa Prep to college


    TAMPA — They met in fifth grade at an old brick schoolhouse in a neighborhood where just 45 percent of kids graduate from high school. They leaned on each other through four years at Academy Prep, where classes run up to 11 hours a day, six days a week, for 11 months a year.

    Together, they were accepted at Tampa Prep. And nearly four years later, on Sunday, the best friends graduated....

    Alterria Pyles, left, and Jomarie Adorno graduated from Tampa Prep. Alterria is headed to University of Miami; Jomarie to UCF.
  7. Trapper takes nuisance alligators to her sanctuary

    Human Interest


    Karina Sura Paner stood on a golf course recently and scanned a pond for eyes.

    She was looking for an alligator — one that had become a nuisance.

    It had left the Lutz pond bordering TPC Tampa Bay and waddled up to a house. A woman spotted it next to her garage. Worried for her dog, she launched a broom at it. Then she threw her shoes at it. Then she called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. ...

    Amos, at 11 feet, is one of the main features at the sanctuary.
  8. After living in her car, student finds a home and hope



    On a cold night four months ago, La'Quita Carter took a pillow from the trunk of her car, climbed into the back seat and wrapped herself in an old blanket.

    A polar blast was sliding south, prompting sheet-draped outdoor foliage and the opening of Tampa's shelters.

    La'Quita was 18 that cold night and needed a few hours of sleep before school. She had parked outside an apartment building and, as usual, she was scared. She had nightmares of someone breaking in to her car to get her. She was scared to tell anyone she was homeless, scared of what might happen to her in the system....

    During a class at Blake High on Monday, La’Quita Carter performs an end-of-year ritual, going through papers she no longer needs.
  9. Reward offered to help solve 9-year-old Tampa girl's death


    TAMPA — The woman last known to have been with a 9-year-old Tampa girl who was found dead in Tampa Bay over the weekend underwent a mental health evaluation two years ago after telling witnesses "Satan is trapping her mind."

    Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies were called to an east Tampa gas station in January 2012, where Eboni Wiley was reportedly hallucinating. She was transported to a treatment center, according to a Sheriff's Office report, which goes into little other detail....

    Felecia Williams attended Edison Elementary School in Tampa. 
  10. A conversation with Tampa's first female district fire chief


    TAMPA — For 20 years, Susan Tamme has helped rescue people and put out fires across the city. Last week, Tamme, 54, of Oldsmar, was named a district chief at Tampa Fire Rescue — the first woman to reach that rank in the department's 119-year history.

    Tamme recently took some time out from a firefighters' convention in Philadelphia to talk to the Times about her climb up the ladder....

    Susan Tamme, 54, was named district chief at Tampa Fire Rescue last week.
  11. Versatile teen is top volunteer at Central City YMCA

    Human Interest

    Joshua Felder had just turned 17 when he got a call: He was the Central City YMCA's volunteer of the year. Last summer, Joshua spent more than 300 hours volunteering at a children's summer program. He encouraged and entertained kids and taught them some new skills. At a dinner in March, he was recognized as one of just two teens to ever get the award, said the Tampa YMCA's communications director, Lalita Llerena. Tampa Bay Times reporter Elisabeth Parker caught up with Joshua at his Y to hear about his past community service and his plans for more....

    Dylan Kinsman and Joshua Felder have a little fun on Healthy Kids Day. Joshua not only put in a boatload of volunteer hours helping kids, he excels at school and has a passel of unusual talents.
  12. Mama Joy and her large brood get a home makeover

    Human Interest


    Rain leaked in through holes in the roof of the 1918 home.

    Inside, 10 children shared one bathroom. They had no closets. Light switches didn't work, so they used lamps. And they unplugged the stove to use the microwave.

    One day, Mama Joy — that's what the kids call her — was sitting at her kitchen table when a ceiling panel fell and hit her on the neck.

    The house was falling down on top of Ruby Brown in December, when she was the focus of a Tampa Bay Times Holiday Hopes story. Her aunt had raised her and left her the house. So when her three nieces came to her with their children, she took them so the mothers could get their lives on track. ...

    Volunteers from Relevant Church in Ybor City race to complete the six-day home makeover for Ruby Brown, who cares for many nieces and nephews. The home was in great need of repair. 
  13. Restaurant at Haley VA offers food fit for heroes


    TAMPA — Of the three meat sliders Army Cpl. Jeremy Voels balanced on a plastic foam plate, he ranked the flank steak the best.

    "Amazing," Voels said.

    Chef Gordon Lippe had marinated the meat for three days before cooking it that morning, he told Voels.

    The sliders were a sample of more to come at the opening Monday of the American Heroes' Café at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center. It's the first restaurant nationwide run by a food service within a veterans hospital, said Kathleen Fogarty, the director of the medical center....

    Chef Gordon Lippe looks over the buffet line as patient Jeremy Voels puts fruit on his plate during Monday’s grand opening and food tasting at the American Heroes’ Café at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center.
  14. Arson suspected in fire that killed animals at Tampa clinic


    TAMPA — Three cats sat on Pam Duval's desk every day.

    So when she got the call early Saturday about a fire at the Animal Coalition of Tampa Bay, she hurried to the scene. Amid the billowing smoke, Duval told firefighters where they could find the cats. The feline trio roamed free at night in the clinic's administrative area.

    Firefighters brought her Jazz, Boy and Mama wrapped in blankets. The smoke had been too much....

  15. Tampa businesses recognized for sustainability



    Oyster shells from Anise Gastro Global Bar, once destined for a landfill, have gone back underwater to provide homes for new oysters. • The bar also put up a vertical garden earlier this month. • At Moxies Cafe, a spoon-washing station, its water constantly running, is gone. Now baristas use a clean spoon for each drink served from the coffee station. • The bottom line: a water bill cut in half. • With a tweak here and a memo there, money and resources are saved. • The city will recognize 10 local businesses with a Green Business designation at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, which is Earth Day. Then at 5:30 p.m., a tour leaves from Duckweed Urban Market, at 803 N Tampa St., to visit several participating businesses. • Each business worked with a student from the University of Tampa or the University of South Florida through a 12-week program launched by the Sustany Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2007 to enhance the quality of life of the Tampa Bay community. • The recycling and conservation plans make sense both for business and the environment....

    Vegetable scraps in the kitchen at Bamboozle in downtown Tampa are taken home by owner Lynn Pham to use as compost for her herb and vegetable gardens.