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Erin Sullivan, Times Staff Writer

Erin Sullivan

Erin Sullivan covers business in Hillsborough County. She came to the Times in 2006 and previously covered crime, courts and breaking news in Pasco County. Sullivan grew up in Alliance, Ohio, and attended the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. During college, she also studied at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark. After graduating from OU in 2000, she was a Pulliam Fellow at the Indianapolis Star and then worked for the Associated Press in London on a foreign correspondence fellowship. Upon returning to the United States in late 2001, she worked at the Birmingham Post-Herald in Birmingham, Ala., the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., and the Orlando Sentinel, before joining the Times. Sullivan was a finalist for a Livingston Award and, in 2004, was inducted into the Scripps Howard Hall of Fame for writing.

Story ideas are welcomed and sincerely appreciated. Give her a call or send an email.

Phone: (813) 226-3405


Twitter: @EASullivan

  1. Clementine Café via Airstream is coming to Ybor Daily Market



    They're still talking about the chicken.

    "It was perfect," said Theresa Bloise, a food blogger at She Bites, who was one of about 20 people at a private dinner last weekend catered by the soon-to-debut Ybor City restaurant Clementine Café.

    "It was juicy. Well-cooked. The skin was great. Smoky but not too smoky."

    To serve chicken as the main event at a party for Tampa foodies when you have a restaurant opening in a few weeks was a bold decision. Chicken isn't flashy. It's often mediocre....

    Dathan Senn, left, owner of Executive Auto Designs in Largo, talks with Misty and Brian Sommers, owners of Clementine Café, whose kitchen is a vintage 1973 Airstream. It’s set to open at the Ybor Daily Market at 1920 E Seventh Ave.
  2. Wesley Chapel teen loses bout with rare skin condition

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — He had a cold.

    It was Dec. 15 and Sean Bartell, a very normal, healthy 16-year-old boy who spent his time either studying or playing video games, felt sick. He saw his pediatrician, who diagnosed an upper respiratory infection.

    The next day, his body was covered in red bumps. Was it measles? His parents, well-known Wesley Chapel community philanthropists Paul and Jamie Bartell who volunteer as Santa and Mrs. Claus each year, worried. ...

    Sean Bartell in 2013 at his National Honor Society induction ceremony.
  3. Family 'fudge sauce' Maison de Nora makes a comeback

    Human Interest

    Editor's Note: Maison de Nora fudge sauce is $12 a jar and the fudge cookies are $12 for a dozen (at least 10 oz.) Send a message to or call (813) 220-5666 to place orders and to arrange either local pick up, delivery or shipment. It is not currently available at Oxford Exchange.


    From a kitchen north of Tampa, a once-famous fudge sauce is making a comeback....

    “It’s time,” said Jill Levin Stilton, granddaughter of the recipe’s creator.
  4. For this group of craft artists, no request is too unusual


    WESTCHASE — After she gets the girls down for a nap, Nickole Kostelis heads to her garage and fires up her power tools.

    She's been doing woodworking since high school, but until recently it had been a hobby for the stay-at-home mom of three young daughters. About four months ago, she found a group on Facebook called Made by Mama, which was created as a way for Tampa Bay artists to sell their handcrafted goods. Kostelis joined. She called herself Mom With a Saw and posted her work. Old cribs and bed frames transformed into cool benches. Rustic wall hangers. Signs for newlyweds....

    Nickole Kostelis wraps wire around handcrafted name plates for teachers. The stay-at-home mom’s woodworking hobby became a business after she joined the group Made by Mama.
  5. Tampa surrealist photographer creatively connects with families


    TAMPA — She sees them in her dreams, these characters.

    A winged ballerina with Harlequin smudged eyes in an ancient wood.

    A tuxedoed gentleman in a gas mask with a steaming power plant atop his hat.

    A little girl who woke up floating on a bed in the ocean.

    Shimmering, magnificent mermaids.

    Lissa Hatcher always has something close by to capture the visions so they don't slip away: the voice recorder on her phone, her iPad, sketch books. They become real to her. They have names and backstories and personalities. They push her to keep going....

    Bella Always Another Rainbow is among Lissa Hatcher’s pieces. The young girl shown on a bed in the ocean really is on a bed in the ocean.
  6. At 100, Hillsborough extension service offers broad services


    Stephen Gran wants you to know there's more to his office than you might think.

    "We're not just for farmers," said Gran, director of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension office in Hillsborough County. That's the county extension, for short.

    The agency celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and, although it began with farming and food preservation, the service has evolved as the county became more developed....

    Nicole Pinson teaches a class about secrets and shortcuts of master gardeners at the Ruskin Branch Library on Nov. 6.
  7. HCC, USF join forces to help nursing students earn their degrees


    TAMPA — Nearly three years ago, Jamie Kaleo's father had a heart attack. Her healthy-living, clean-eating, marathon-running dad suddenly needed a triple bypass operation. It was terrifying. But something monumental happened as she sat with him in the cardiac intensive care unit at St. Joseph's Hospital. Kaleo, a personal trainer, watched the nurses taking care of her dad. They were wonderful. I want to do this, she thought....

  8. Renamed Hillsborough Fire Rescue station adds to firefighter's memory


    Iran David "I.D." Rivers was a bear of a man with a buzz cut, a thick reddish mustache and a cheery disposition who hugged so fiercely he lifted people up, their legs swinging. He seemed to make friends everywhere. Things like grocery shopping took him quite a while.

    It has been a year since he died, but the loss still feels fresh and raw at the fire station where he spent much of his life, tough men and women blinking back tears, fighting to control their voices. Rivers, a Hillsborough County firefighter and emergency medical technician for 24 years, died from a heart attack while on duty on Sept. 22, 2013. He was 48....

    Fire inspector Sharri Dufresne, left, and Capt. Jodi Lopez unveil a plaque Tuesday during a ceremony to rename Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Station No. 6 in honor of firefighter Iran David “I.D.” Rivers, who passed away a year ago during his shift.
  9. USF public health college's new mission: Help others help themselves


    TAMPA — Infectious diseases can be terrifying. Ebola. HIV/AIDS.

    But in the United States, you aren't likely to die from one. Here, the usual killers are noncommunicable diseases: cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes. They account for 88 percent of deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

    "More people are dying from heart attacks than from yellow fever," said Linda Whiteford, a University of South Florida anthropology professor recently tapped to help lead a center focused on fighting these diseases....

  10. A grand social experiment, the Oxford Exchange turns 1



    The crabs sold. • Allison Adams couldn't believe it. The crabs, dead for more than a century, if not quite a bit more, had been displayed in glass cases and shown in a French museum before being sold from collector to collector and ending up at a market in Paris, where Adams bought them early this year for her shop inside the Oxford Exchange. She thought the crabs were odd and beautiful and, after a lengthy holdup in Customs, where a French expert had to be hired to officially name the various crab species and declare that, yes, the crabs were definitely dead, they arrived. • Within weeks, nearly all of the 10 cases of crabs were bought. • At $1,000 a piece. • "I never thought they would sell," said Adams, 43, director of the Oxford Exchange, a grand, sweeping mixed-use business and social experiment created by Adams and her brother, Blake Casper, 40, that is celebrating its first anniversary Tuesday....

    The Bookstore at the Oxford Exchange, a curated collection of classic and contemporary books, has a good number of buyers, not just browsers, Blake Casper says.
  11. Experts on homeless issues to address Hillsborough panel


    TAMPA — Two national experts focused on finding solutions for homeless issues are speaking Tuesday morning at the University Club of Tampa to local leaders who are working to fight the problem here.

    The speakers are:

    •Philip F. Mangano, president and chief executive officer of the American Round Table to Abolish Homelessness in Boston. He previously served under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama as executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness....

  12. A weight loss success story turns into a career



    After her older sister died from breast cancer in 2004, Kat Ward consoled herself with food. To honor her sister, Ward left the hotel business and got a job with the American Cancer Society, intense and meaningful work she enjoyed. But she lived on drive-through fast food. Her weight ballooned from 160 pounds to 235. She tried diets, but nothing seemed to work.

    Then on Sept. 7, 2008, at age 24, Ward woke with this strange feeling. She doesn't know why. There was no trigger; no photo she saw of herself, no cruel remark about her weight. ...

    Kathleen Ward, left, with her sister, Danielle Jane Granger. After her sister’s death in 2004, Ward says she packed on the pounds by consoling herself with food. Then she had an epiphany.
  13. Plant City's Red Rose Inn sold at auction — or was it?


    LAKELAND — Sean Strano hovered outside a conference room at the Lakeland Center, his business cards in hand. Like everyone else packed in the hallway, he wanted to know who bought the Red Rose Inn, the beloved hotel in Plant City known for its kitschy commercials, doo wop dances and Gone With the Wind-themed decor.

    It hit the auction block Friday, the second day of a bankruptcy liquidation sale of the assets of the Madonia family, who spent more than a half-century building a fortune in the tomato farming business, only to see it all slip away. ...

    The Plant City hotel among assets of the Madonia family being auctioned to pay creditors. Its fate remained uncertain Friday.
  14. Red Rose Inn a symbol of an empire's collapse



    How did it come to this?

    Evelyn and Batista Madonia worked for more than a half-century building their fortune. They are known for the Red Rose Inn, a Plant City landmark, but the real money, millions upon millions, was made in tomato farming.

    They had 10,000 acres in Florida and Virginia and employed 1,000 workers. Their assets are vast: housing camps and luxury homes here and up north for the workers and executives, packing and storage facilities, millions of tomato stakes. And the equipment, anything imaginable to run a huge operation: $200,000 tractors, sprayers, forklifts, pickups, semis, golf carts....

  15. UT entrepreneurship director helps students capitalize on dreams

    Human Interest

    Rebecca White was an early champion of entrepreneurship studies, which is now one of the fastest-growing majors on college campuses. White, 56, helped create the entrepreneurship center at Northern Kentucky University before coming to the University of Tampa in 2009. Since she became director of UT's Entrepreneurship Center, the number of students majoring in entrepreneurship has doubled. "We are building an entrepreneurial community," White said. ...

    Rebecca White helps UT students capitalize on their dreams as director of the Entrepreneurship Center. Her passionately creative mother inspired her, and she in turn wanted to be a role model to her children as she pursued a Ph.D while juggling family life.