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. Arson suspected in fire that killed animals at Tampa clinic

    Fire

    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....

    Shown is some of the damage from the early morning fire at the Animal Coalition of Tampa on Saturday in Tampa.
  2. Tampa businesses recognized for sustainability

    Environment

    TAMPA

    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....

  3. Heirs to Beach Park 'art collection' of rare cycads are moved to save it

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    A jungle of species once rooted in the most remote and forbidden corners of the world grew lush and dense amid the mansions of Beach Park.

    The garden flourished so well that people passing by on elite Swann Circle couldn't see the house in the center, where an orthopedic surgeon and his wife raised three boys and tended their botanical treasures.

    Dr. U.A. Young and his wife, who called herself Ben, moved here in the early 1950s from Texas....

    The trunk of the Cycas scratchleyana sprouts fronds amid a collection heading across the bay.
  4. GoRuck Challenge offers a beast of a bonding experience

    Health

    TAMPA

    Carrying rucksacks stuffed with bricks or sand, four women and 21 men dripped stagnant bay water on the sidewalk. They wore workout clothes and head lamps. At least one carried a kettle bell. • They marched down Seventh Avenue in Ybor City on a Friday night, under twinkling white lights past women in short shorts teetering on heels and down a gantlet of bars vibrating with music to arrive at the Bad Monkey just before midnight. • You might wonder about this fluky juxtaposition — the rugged group on the sidewalk counting off pushups in a party zone. But this team had embarked on a grueling all-night adventure in order to experience military-style camaraderie. What better place for them to stop than the Bad Monkey, named for a former Navy SEAL call sign? • It was early yet for them. Before dawn, they would travel 21.5 miles across Tampa with their bricks and ceaseless exercises. At one point, they would take a railroad tie from Cypress Point Park and jointly carry it over their heads. • They call this rucking....

    Holding heavy rucksacks above their heads, GoRuck Challenge takers do drills at Desoto Park on Friday. Four women and 21 men signed on to the event.
  5. Kids learn to manage emotions with Frameworks of Tampa Bay

    Health

    DOWNTOWN — When Jessica Muroff tells people about her job as director of a nonprofit organization that teaches kids to manage their emotions so those emotions don't manage them, she is typically asked one question: Do you have programs for adults, too?

    Clearly the topic of social and emotional intelligence is popular.

    Founded in April 2011, Frameworks of Tampa Bay goes to schools and nonprofit groups. It's currently teaching 1,500 young people ages 8 to 18. ...

  6. Global company Ironman calls Tampa home

    Health

    TAMPA — Avoid eye contact and never smile at the monkeys, reads a warning to athletes at Ironman Malaysia. In past races, the monkeys have gotten aggressive. There are sharks and crocodiles to contend with in the open water in Australia. And last year, a cliff gave way while athletes were cycling in Switzerland, leading to a dead end of mud.

    Race organizers deal with such predicaments and more as they take Ironman triathlons global. Started in 1978 in Hawaii, the race has since grown seismically. The brand claims 85 percent of long-distance triathlons around the world, said Andrew Messick, Ironman CEO. ...

    A wave of women approaches the entry point for the Ironman 70.3 World Champion­ship in Clearwater. This year there are 190 Ironman events, a long way from the first “Iron Man” in Hawaii in 1978, which drew 15 men.
  7. 2014 Barnes Scholarship honors high-achieving students who overcame obstacles

    Human Interest

    For some, navigating through a stew of troubles builds strength and fuels a drive for success.

    This year's Barnes Scholarship winners epitomize this zeal.

    Every year since 1999, the Tampa Bay Times has helped high-achieving students who have overcome significant obstacles through the scholarship named for Andrew Barnes, former chairman and CEO of Times Publishing Co.

    High school seniors in Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties are eligible to apply. This year's winners include two each from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. They are eligible to receive up to $15,000 per year for four years at a U.S. college or university....

    Shilling
  8. Naples man charged in beating of pharmacist, prescription drug theft

    Crime

    TEMPLE TERRACE — A Naples man was charged Monday with attempted murder and armed robbery after authorities say he tried to steal prescription drugs this weekend from a pharmacist he left in critical condition.

    Brandon James Walker, 25, was arrested at 2 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel in Tampa, according to Temple Terrace police. His charges also include occupied armed burglary and three other counts of burglary. ...

    Brandon James Walker faces charges including attempted murder.
  9. Preservationist Ann McDonald championed Seminole Heights

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Ann McDonald bought a 1926 bungalow eight years ago with her sister, added a bathroom and painted it inside and out. She fashioned a driveway and landscaped the lawn with Florida plants.

    Over the hearth in her living room, she put pictures of her family. In one, a grandson is held by Barack Obama, taken before he was elected president.

    McDonald, 74, a social activist and historic preservationist, devoted her last years to Seminole Heights. She died Feb. 28 after a sudden illness. ...

    The Capt. William Parker Jackson House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to McDonald.
  10. Outspoken education historian leaving USF

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — A respected critic of state and national education policy is leaving Florida.

    Sherman Dorn, a University of South Florida education professor, accepted a leadership position at Arizona State University, starting in July. He will be director of the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

    Dorn, 48, is an education historian of the past 70 years, a span that started with a significant growth in high school graduates that plateaued in the 1970s. He came to USF as an assistant professor in 1996 and currently chairs the Department of Psychological and Social Foundations, which will cease to exist in June as part of a reorganization at USF. ...

    Sherman Dorn’s move, in part, is due to life changes.
  11. Eating fresh? It's now a SNAP for all at Sweetwater Sunday market

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    The farm-to-table movement — typically fare for the affluent and for trendy restaurants — is expanding to reach those with limited incomes. • Starting Sunday, food stamps can be used to buy local, organic produce at the Sweetwater Organic Community Farm Sunday Market, with a sweetened deal. Shoppers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can use up to $10 in SNAP benefits to double the value in produce, thanks to two grants. • That equates to as much as $20 worth of produce, said Brian Smiley, the farm's operational manager. It includes kale, lettuce, carrots, choy, chard, dill and cabbage, harvested just after sunrise and available at that day's market, from noon to 4 p.m....

    Amanda Hull and Lauren Miller dig in at the farm, whose yields have gone to members, Rollin’ Oats and the Refinery. It will join a growing trend of fresh markets accepting SNAP.
  12. Seminole Heights rallies for Domani Bistro after fire

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Brian Bosco had painted the walls red and tan and stained the dining room tables. He designed a kitchen in the 1922 building so that everything had its mise en place, its place in the work flow, he said.

    "I did everything by hand. A solid year of my life before it opened," said the co-owner of Domani Bistro Lounge.

    Bosco was devastated by the early morning fire Tuesday that engulfed his restaurant and damaged a neighboring furniture consignment boutique, A Modern Line....

    The restaurant at 6421 N Florida Ave. was consumed by flames. Brian Bosco had insurance and vows to rebuild. “I hope we can bring it back even better,” he said.
  13. A defender of freshwater springs restores one in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    Two years ago, Tom Ries came upon a forgotten artesian spring that once provided water for Tampa.

    "I poked around and pushed through shrubs and Brazilian pepper trees and saw clear water," said Ries, director of Ecosphere Restoration Institute, a nonprofit group specializing in environmental restoration. Ries followed the flow piped underground to the nearby Hillsborough River. There, he saw a manatee that had also found the freshwater source. Ries figured he could do better with Ulele Spring. ...

    Ulele Spring will soon will be a feature in Water Works Park, 
a stop along the Tampa Riverwalk.
  14. 2014 Gasparilla races will draw thousands; here are three that will inspire

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    For some people, finishing a race is a testament of strength. For others, it's fun with friends.

    There may be as many reasons to run as runners. An expected 30,000 will line up Saturday and Sunday to run distances ranging from 5 kilometers to a half marathon in the 2014 Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic.

    A few stand out among the crowd. Boyd Yesler is running his 32nd consecutive year at Gasparilla, and at 63, he isn't sure he can quit....

     Boyd Yesler ran his first Gasparilla in 1983. And every year since, starting in 1983.
  15. Eagles, volunteer watchers show all-American tenacity

    Human Interest

    RUSKIN

    The nest weighs more than a ton and is perched 100 feet up in a longleaf pine near U.S. 41 and the Little Manatee River.

    "This is probably the most-watched nest in the county," said Nancy Murrah, volunteer Eagle Watch coordinator for Hillsborough County. Drivers regularly pull off the road, some settling into lawn chairs with binoculars, to watch these American bald eagles.

    "This particular couple, they're good parents," said Murrah, 56, as she watched last week. "I guarantee one of them is watching us right now."...

    A parent drops off a fish for two adolescents near the Little Manatee River in Ruskin. The nest is 6 feet across and 10 feet deep.