Clear47° WeatherClear47° Weather

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


  1. Holiday Hopes: Dedicated student seeks scholarship money

    Human Interest


    She was 12 days old when her father was kidnapped by the Taliban. It was 1996 and they were living in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was on his way home from work to his wife and four children, the oldest just 5.

    Fereshta Abdul Khaled was too young to witness her mother's search for her father in their homeland or the trip to Iran and then Russia, to escape the Taliban and find a safe home. Nor does she remember her father's touch or his love....

    Fereshta’s bulletin board features an Afghan flag, family pictures and a 2013 King High School graduation announcement.
  2. Florida House of Representatives: District 64


    Florida House | District 64

    A court challenge over the eligibility of a write-in candidate for the District 64 seat has pushed this contest between two Republicans from the primary to the general election. An appeal involving this race had not been decided by early October, but all registered voters in the district are able to vote in it. James Grant, whose father was a longtime state lawmaker, is being challenged by Miriam Steinberg, whose husband, Democrat Michael Steinberg, ran against Grant four years ago. By Elisabeth Parker, Times staff writer...

  3. Traveling exhibit highlights Tampa's colorful Prohibition history

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — During the days of Prohibition, Tampa was a wet spot.

    Rum flowed in from Cuba and moonshine from surrounding rural areas.

    Prohibition didn't curtail drinking. Instead, it went underground — in some cases literally. Local lore tells of tunnels leading from the Ybor City port up into speakeasies.

    "The area had some logistical advantages," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of the Tampa Bay History Center. "Florida was one of the wettest states and Tampa was one of the wettest cities."...

    This photo from 1931 shows whiskey caches uncovered by authorities at 1014 10th Ave. in Tampa (around the current location of the Children’s Board office).
  4. Veterans with spinal cord injuries gain jobs, sense of purpose

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Troy Webb rolled his wheelchair back from a wall of screens showing the busy hallways of the James A. Haley VA Medical Center. He can see into a million square feet of the center through more than 100 cameras from his work space, a room the size of an average bedroom.

    He picked up a ringing phone. A Mercedes was involved in an accident in the parking garage. It was turning out to be a quiet morning, but more than 10,000 people would filter through the center by the end of the day....

    Troy Webb, 37, works at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center as a police dispatcher. It’s his first job in 15 years.
  5. Jane Goodall surprises children in USF nature program

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Anthony Santos Rivera was among the kindergarteners at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens carrying magnifying glasses, which they used to inspect leaves, butterflies and caterpillars Tuesday.

    The Pizzo Elementary School students were on a field trip as part of a program started by well-known primatologist Jane Goodall. Called Roots & Shoots, it encourages young people to save the Earth. Anthony's class is building a butterfly garden in a courtyard of the school. ...

    Primatologist Jane Goodall spoke to kids in the Roots & Shoots program, which she created.
  6. New slaughterhouse caters to Muslims

    Human Interest

    BY ELISABETH PARKER Times Staff Writer


    Along an industrial strip on the city's eastern edge, a block north of the Victory Temple and a drive-through Good Times Liquor, a halal slaughterhouse opened a meat market this summer.

    Fresh meat open to the public, says a sign outside Musa Slaughterhouse at 6211 N 56th St.

    Drivers passing see large pictures of bucolic goats, chicks, sheep and cows that trim the top of the large warehouse. ...

    The meat market at Musa Slaughterhouse in Tampa offers fresh cuts of goats, sheep, cows or chickens slaughtered according to the Islamic standard of halal. This is the only halal slaughterhouse in Tampa, which allows Muslims to get fresh meat.
  7. Interview: MOSI's interim director on the museum's changes

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Things are in flux at the Museum of Science and Industry.

    In the past year, the Hillsborough County government, which owns MOSI's land and has loaned it money, ordered up a consultant's report that found the museum was in financial decline and needed to overhaul questionable accounting practices. MOSI temporarily closed its cafe after pests were found. And the nonprofit museum accepted the resignation of longtime president Wit Ostrenko, who announced plans to retire....

    Molly Demeu­lenaere, 36, is excited about big changes at MOSI.
  8. Betty King Culbreath Gibbons dies at age 92

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Betty King Culbreath Gibbons lived a life of coincidences.

    Born in Oklahoma in 1921, she came to Tampa as a small child and lived most of her life here. As a teen, she loved to sail her boat across Tampa Bay.

    "My mother was an extraordinary, dynamic and adventurous person," Kay Culbreath Heller said. "She never lost that joy of sailing."

    Culbreath Gibbons, a millionaire socialite who married two of Tampa Bay's most influential and best-known men, died Friday. She was 92....

    In this 2007 photo, Sen. Sam Gibbons, who died at 92 in 2012, is shown with his wife, Betty Culbreath Gibbons.
  9. Hope Terrible: A success story with an unusual name

    Human Interest

    Two awards from the Tampa Housing Authority hang on Hope Terrible's dining room wall. One is the Geraldine Barnes Resident Recognition for personal development, dated 2012. The other, which she received in July, recognizes her for "Extraordinary Accomplishments as a Public Housing Resident." Terrible was honored for starting her own business, Full of Hope Cleaning Services.

    Her counselor had invited her to a lunch and didn't tell her about the award. "That was a shock," she said. "I called my mom as soon as I left. My mama's so proud of me."...

    Hope Terrible, 45, creator of Full of Hope Cleaning Services, poses in her home with some tools of the trade.
  10. Tampa Bay Markets reaching out for more farmers

    Human Interest

    HYDE PARK — Eggs from Lutz and eggplant and okra from Brooksville draw more than 1,000 shoppers on the first Sunday of every month to Hyde Park Village.

    It's the largest of six open-air Fresh Markets operated by Tampa Bay Markets in the area. But even so, the fresh bounty offered accounts for just a quarter of the goods available.

    That's a problem, said Tiffany Ferrecchia, market manager. She hears regularly from people who come from other states expecting to find more heirloom tomatoes and fresh greens at the markets....

  11. Votes won't count Tuesday for District 64

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Your vote for James Grant or Miriam Steinberg for state House District 64 won't count — at least not on Tuesday.

    Although both candidates will be listed on the ballot for voters in Carrollwood, Citrus Park, Oldsmar and Safety Harbor, a notice that precedes the names says, by court order, the votes will not be tallied.

    But the next sentence says: "This order is currently under appellate review and the information contained in this notice is subject to change pending the outcome of the appeal."...

    Miriam Steinberg is challenging James Grant for the state House 64 seat.
  12. Seminole Heights bringing second garden into fold

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — It starts with good earth, and that requires truckloads of mulch and horse poop turned with scraps from local restaurants.

    For months, people who grow their own kale have been layering and mixing compost at 6011 Highland Ave.

    Seminole Heights gardeners are recognized for starting the city's first community garden a little more than a mile south of the Highland plot....

    Denise Moore, president of the Seminole Heights Community Garden committee, talks on the phone as she walks around the lot that will be used as a second garden at 6011 Highland Ave. in Tampa. The second garden will be used and cultivated by volunteers exactly as the other garden has been. Moore hopes to form a solid crew of helpers that will make the garden plantable by October.
  13. State House, District 64


    State House | District 64

    The District 64 contest pitting Republicans James Grant, whose father was a longtime state lawmaker, against Miriam Steinberg, whose husband, Democrat Michael Steinberg, ran against Grant four years ago, will appear on the primary ballot — but may not count pending court action. A judge disqualified a write-in candidate who would have appeared on the November ballot, meaning that the election would need to be open to all eligible registered voters, not only Republicans. As of early this week, that was on appeal and could change. Elisabeth Parker, Times staff writer...

    Miriam Steinberg
  14. South Tampa pizza landmark closes its doors for good

    Human Interest


    Teresa Williams walked through the door at Cesare's of New York Pizzeria and stared hard at Silvana Bastone.

    "Is it true?"

    "Yes," Bastone said, her voice somber. She has made pizza at Cesare's for 38 years. But Thursday, she was stretching her last pies at the South Tampa landmark and closing the doors for good.

    For decades, the pizzas here drew hundreds of Plant High School students across the street for lunch. Others came for the fresh tomatoes, spinach and the crispy crusts....

    Customers enjoy the last pizzas being severed at Cesare’s of New York Pizzeria on Thursday. Silvana Bastone and her family have been baking pizza’s for 38 years starting with her father, Cesare.
  15. USF professor says nanotechnology holds key to curing cancer


    TAMPA — About a dozen researchers are splitting fibers in pursuit of a cure for cancer in a third floor research lab on the edge of the University of South Florida campus.

    Every few weeks, they divide the fibers, made from crustaceans, which are the size of a human hair, into millionths.

    You can't see these nanofibers or other nanoparticles made in the lab without a high-powered microscope, but they are the seeds of innovations that Shyam Mohapatra says will change our lives....

     Shaily Sharma, who recently graduated from USF with a masters in Biology, looks at the tumoroids she has been growing with nanopartical fibers and cancer cells, Thursday, July 17, 2014. She works in the lab with Professor Shyam Mohapatra, PhD, and other recent graduates or current students to do tests and develop new nanoscale biomedical diagnostics and therapeutics for cancers, asthma, viral infections and traumatic brain injuries.