12/04/13 Human Interest
SOUTH TAMPA — A decision to allow openly gay boys in Scouts rippled down to the area's oldest troop with an unintended lesson.
Troop 4 has met at a church by the base of the Davis Islands bridge for the past 60 years. But after the Boy Scouts of America changed its century-old policy, the troop was told by the church that it must leave. Some 70 percent of troops nationally are sponsored by churches, and some, like Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church, pulled sponsorships following the change. Holy Trinity said the Scouts' policy goes against God's Scripture....
11/29/13 Human Interest
Deborah Barr stares into a Bible but can't make order of the letters. • She was cross-eyed as a girl, and even after surgery, couldn't learn to read. Her eyes didn't focus. When she looked at you, one pupil would wander away. • But she got by, and now, at 56, Deborah lives on her own in an apartment in public housing. She shops and cooks by herself, trusting a cashier to take the correct amount from her hand, trusting a neighbor to read her mail. To bake a cake, she uses the pictures on the box. • She doesn't need words. But there are some she dreams of reading. • She wants to follow her pastor as he reads from the Bible, telling of Moses and the Israelites and their journey out of slavery. His voice fills the small Israel Bethel Primitive Baptist Church in Seffner, with a message about underestimating people. • Deborah knows something about that....
TAMPA — Idelisa Olivera got up at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and brewed herself a cup of Cuban coffee, like she always does, then she put on a brilliant purple blouse with a scrolling vine print, and then she spritzed herself with perfume.
Olivera, 97, doesn't leave home without perfume.
"You can smell when she's been around," said her daughter, Borja Magro.
"Ma, please, I'm dizzy here," Magro tells her and rolls down the car window when her mother gets in. Then her mother tells her: "Oh no, my hair!"...
11/20/13 Human Interest
To gain job skills, the people who come to MacDonald Training Center once sorted coat hangers and folded calendars and did make-work. It didn't matter how messy the end product was because the businesses that hired the center did so out of pity.
Today, those jobs are gone and the center has evolved. Trainees, people with a range of developmental delays, now learn skills in a high-tech clean room....
TAMPA — As rain drizzled down and wind whipped off the water Saturday morning, onlookers gathered near the Courtney Campbell Trail to celebrate the partial completion of a project years in the making.
Open since early September, the first segment of the trail is a nearly 6-mile section from Rocky Point Road to the Hillsborough County line, including the only motorless bridge over Tampa Bay since the Friendship Trail Bridge, adjacent to the Gandy Bridge, closed in 2008....
11/08/13 Human Interest
Lured here by the area's devotion to child welfare, Kelley Parris took the post in July as head of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, with its $30 million taxpayer-supported budget.
After a bosses' day lunch with her staff recently, she met with Tampa Bay Times reporter Elisabeth Parker to talk about her desire to continue the legacy of child advocates Colleen Bevis and Dottie Berger MacKinnon and to run a tight and responsible agency. She wants to gain the trust of voters, who in 2016 will vote on the property tax that supports the agency. Ultimately, she wants to reduce child deaths in the county. ...
TAMPA — The last time Shayla Thompson saw her nephew was in church.
She remembers holding Joshua Worthy and teasing him with a piece of gum he wanted. "He was laughing so hard," said Thompson, 21.
Joshua would have turned 2 on Dec. 10. But he died last month and on Friday police charged his mother, Quanyisha Sharell Thompson, 24, with his murder.
Joshua lived with his mother and sisters at 3809 N Jackson Court. He was Thompson's fourth child and her first boy, according to her family. Neighbors said she and her boyfriend kept to themselves in the center of a row of apartments. Thompson was big with her fifth pregnancy on Oct. 1 when someone called police, who arrived to find Joshua not breathing. He died a short time later at Tampa General Hospital....
11/06/13 Human Interest
DAVIS ISLANDS — Prepare for salty wet dogs. Expect wild yelps. The Davis Islands Dog Beach will open early next week, officials say.
The 200 feet of beach has been closed for renovations since June 10, much to the dismay of dog owners, including many who do not live on the islands.
But work has been completed ahead of the scheduled Dec. 1 reopening date. A formal ribbon cutting is planned for next month, when the boat ramp next to the park is complete....
10/23/13 Human Interest
Stephen McEntegart carried a pink rosary as he paced outside a women's clinic in Tampa. He was praying for babies.
"Prayer is the most powerful thing we have," said McEntegart, who has been active in the antiabortion movement since college. He and his wife have two children and had two miscarriages, which brought home a truth, he said: "You know that it is a child."
McEntegart, who lives in St. Petersburg, was part of a rotation of volunteers from multiple churches who have held signs and prayed outside Tampa Woman's Health Center at 2010 E Fletcher Ave. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for the past month....
10/16/13 Human Interest
TOWN 'N COUNTRY
An oddball team started last year when a couch potato decided to get active. She talked her friend — a great-great-grandma — into powerlifting. They talked a few more women into joining them training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Town 'N Country Recreation Center with coach Bill Beekley.
The oldest is 92. The baby, 67.
These five women lifted a combined 705 pounds in the final round of the county's 33rd Annual Tampa Bay Senior Games last week....
10/09/13 Local Government
TAMPA — Check out what $7.4 million is buying the city at Water Works Park, where construction is about to start.
There's the rejuvenation of the bubbling spring, an event pavilion with a festival lawn, a dog park, a playground with a splash pad, a floating boat dock, a kayak launch and a new section of the Riverwalk, part of it going over a spring-fed basin.
Here's what that money doesn't buy: parking....
“Congratulations," Mahmoud Gomaa said to a class of first-graders standing under a model airplane. "You've just arrived in the holy city of Mecca."
Gomaa, vice principal of the American Youth Academy, came to the school seven years ago and brought the annual hajj simulation to teach children about the rite, the fifth pillar of Islam.
The annual five-day pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city starts Sunday. But in Tampa, more than 400 students at the private Islamic school started early, re-enacting significant events in the lives of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael as chronicled in the Koran....
10/02/13 Human Interest
CARROLLWOOD — Back in May, a lucky someone bought a winning Powerball ticket at Carrollwood Market.
The jackpot: $50 million.
Either that someone doesn't know or is keeping a secret.
The ticket holder has until midnight on Nov. 22, to collect the winnings.
Florida Lottery officials have taped signs to the windows of the convenience store telling of the winning ticket, one of three to split the jackpot. Someone stuck a note under one of them: "Check your tickets. No one has claimed this money."...
10/02/13 Human Interest
A place to run free under tall oaks, grow vegetables and play in a house with a roof made of plants — a back yard.
That's the plan for the formerly homeless kids who now live at a MiraclePlace. The 52-apartment expansion opened in August at Metropolitan Ministries for families to stay for up to a year.
These kids can look out their bedroom windows in their upstairs apartments to the back yard, completed last month. ...
10/01/13 Human Interest
Bathroom wipes touted as a flushable alternative to toilet paper are clogging sewer systems across the Tampa Bay area and costing taxpayers significant money for emergency cleanups.
While manufacturers insist their wipes aren't the culprit, authorities here say the increase in clogs came with an increase in marketing of the popular product during the past five years.
Richard Cummings, who oversees Hillsborough County's sewer collection, calls flushable wipes insidious....