05/16/13 Human Interest
SULPHUR SPRINGS — Today a row of tomato plants stretches toward the sun in the center of a raised bed banked by corn stalks, tenderly planted by small hands last weekend.
Children planted beans and herbs and placed worms in the earth and climbed two large oak trees that partially shade a formerly vacant lot.
Tampa's newest community garden is growing inside a square mile better known in recent years for crime, drugs and more than its share of impoverished children....
05/11/13 Human Interest
Two years ago, Judy Dennis packed up her dining room and put it in storage.
Her mother had suffered a stroke.
Every day since then, three times a day, pureed potatoes and eggs and yogurt and fruits are spooned to Annie Lee Enfinger, who sits propped in the bed where the table had been.
Life unfolds around her. Meals are eaten in sight. News and cooking shows play on the living room television....
05/09/13 Human Interest
TOWN 'N COUNTRY
A spiritual alliance could be assumed when an organic farm and a Hindu temple share a boundary.
And it was so for the first three years, says Chris Chooyick, priest at Shree Mariamman Kali Temple, which sits just north of Hillsborough Avenue next to Sweetwater Organic Community Farm.
The curious on either side ventured across the property line. They welcomed each other and shared food....
TAMPA — It was the first time Susanne Meyers spoke to the families of two people she left to die in a ditch on a dark Ruskin road on July 1, 2011.
Reading from notes, Meyers, 53, said on Thursday that she was a retired nurse who would never knowingly leave someone injured.
"I wish there was something I could have done to help them," Meyers said before a judge handed down her sentence. "It all happened so quickly that I think I was stunned."...
Palma Ceia to Tampa International Airport
HART's route: Depending on when you leave, there are two routes, both with a transfer. One is direct but requires a walk to a second bus; the other goes to a downtown station.
Miles, estimated travel time: I took the direct route, which took an hour and five minutes for the 8.3-mile trip.
Cost: $4 each way...
04/27/13 Human Interest
Rob Parissi was 25 and playing guitar with his rock 'n' roll band Wild Cherry when he jotted some lyrics on a server's drink order pad. The words would make him a star. It was 1976 when Play That Funky Music topped the charts and later stuck at number 73 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All Time. Parissi, 62, spins smooth jazz in New Tampa and has a new song that's on the charts. Over a martini at Cassis American Brasserie in St. Petersburg, he and his fiance, Ilona Bellamy, told Times reporter Elisabeth Parker how the song came to be and how he ended up in Tampa....
The cousins held up pinkies stained purple with ink, marked reminders of their votes in Venezuela this month for the successor to deceased president Hugo Chávez.
Antonio Daher, 21, had traveled more than 1,300 miles, taking four planes to get to his home in Valencia, Venezuela.
It was his first time voting, said Daher, an economics major at the University of Tampa, who with a friend organized a rally last week on the grounds of UT....
04/25/13 Human Interest
TAMPA PALMS — Good news for a Chamberlain High School senior came last week as a three-pack combo.
Terrell Jefferson, 19, couldn't stop smiling.
He got a letter of acceptance to Florida A&M University.
He won scholarships that will fully pay for his costs.
And he learned he has no tumors.
Jefferson was featured in the Tampa Bay Times Holiday Hopes series six months ago. He wanted help to pay for a test to determine if he had inherited a rare disease called Von Hippel-Lindau, which eight months earlier had killed his father....
04/18/13 Human Interest
TOWN N' COUNTRY
There's a smudge of cherries jubilee on the beak of Lacey the duck.
The red lipstick came from Sandra Griffin as she comforted the 3-year-old Muscovy.
"You have to be good for mommy because mommy loves you," she had whispered in Lacey's ear.
Griffin, 70, knows what some say about the Muscovy duck.
They're nasty. Vicious. Aggressive. They splatter sidewalks with poop, spreading disease....
04/14/13 Personal Finance
The woman behind a counter at Gold Pros in Westfield Countryside mall found "14K" stamped on a clasp of a chain my sister gave me when I graduated from high school. She poured acid on a few links and polished a spot until it turned brown — proving it was real gold. She weighed it and made me an offer: $80.
Not bad, I thought. I had been prepared for less. But aloud, I demurred. "Hmmm. I was just curious." ...
TAMPA — Donald F. Castor, a former Hillsborough County judge and father of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, died Tuesday at age 81.
JudgeCastor was hospitalized in early March with pneumonia and was moved Monday to LifePath Hospice Melech House in Temple Terrace.
An avid basketball fan, he watched the NCAA men's championship game Monday night with his wife, Mickey. They were up past midnight, said his daughter, who cut short a visit to Cuba to be with her father. ...
TAMPA — The dramatic odyssey of a Tampa dad sailing to Cuba with his wife and kidnapped sons culminated in undramatic fashion Tuesday when the communist nation readily turned the family over to the U.S. government.
A U.S. plane carrying the Hakkens — and a family rat terrier named Natti — returned from Havana to Tampa this morning. The boys were medically checked out during the flight....
03/21/13 Local Government
TAMPA — Stroll into the lobby of the Plaza Harbour Island and ask to use the restroom.
Chances are the doorman will apologize. Residents at the luxury condominium tower say they've had more than their share of sharing.
Several times a week for more than a year, visitors trekked from a dirt lot across the street where they left their cars while they went on cruises from Tampa's port. A website directed them to the exact address of the Plaza and touted: "Why pay $15 at the port when you can pay $7.99 with Capital Parking?"...
SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Tina Rodriguez walks her pit bull past piles of trash and old furniture at a dead end on Mohawk Avenue.
The road parallels Hillsborough Avenue and could soon be a back entrance to a Walmart Supercenter.
Although the retail giant regularly meets resistance as it saturates the country, Rodriguez and many of her neighbors say they will welcome the store at 1720 E Hillsborough Ave., once home to a Chevrolet dealer....
03/14/13 Human Interest
“Everybody's got their spot," said 15-year-old Michael Royal, describing how he and his teammates at Dorothy Thomas Exceptional Center became a powerhouse. Michael found his on the left side of the basketball court near the net. He can shoot baskets from there best because he's left-handed, he guesses. Michael scored 10 baskets last week at the 20th annual Leonard Shearer March Madness Basketball Tournament. His team won both games they played, taking home two trophies. ...