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Ernest Hooper, Times Columnist/East Hillsborough Bureau Chief

Ernest Hooper

Ernest Hooper is the East Hillsborough Bureau chief and columnist at the Tampa Bay Times. Hooper joined the Times in 1992 and has worked as a prep sports writer and editor, TV/radio sports columnist, NFL writer, news columnist and unofficial ambassador, representing the Times as an emcee, judge or keynote speaker at hundreds of nonprofit events and civic functions. Hooper added the role of East Hillsborough Bureau chief in 2012. He oversees news content for the Times' regional edition east of Tampa, the SouthShore & Brandon Times, and writes two columns a week. His commentaries about family, community issues and political perspectives have helped Hooper connect with readers over the years, but he's probably best known for his signature tagline: That's all I'm saying.

Phone: (813) 661-2440


  1. Hooper: Too bad Facebook posts don't follow Rotary's lead

    Human Interest

    I'm not a Rotarian, but I hold great admiration for Rotary's Four-Way Test.

    Developed in 1932, it asks members to ensure that the things they think, say or do must pass this test: 1. Is it truthful; 2. Is it fair to all concerned; 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships; 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

    Now, 84 years later, it's a perfect antidote for social media users' worst intentions. Imagine if we — and I mean all of us — used the four-way test to vet everything we post on Facebook. Either Facebook would be far more courteous — especially in these politically heated days — or the vast majority of us would be unable to post anything. …...

  2. Hooper: Portraits of Buffalo Soldiers show history and so much more


    After arriving at the Marriott Waterside on Tuesday for the convention of the National Association of the Buffalo Soldiers & Troopers Motorcycle Club, Tony Harris, Frank Austin and Dwayne Ware came across an artist on the second floor of the hotel diligently working on a broad canvas.

    John Barge III, on his knees, was adding to his original work featuring members of the club when the gentlemen mentioned they were from the West Point, N.Y., chapter. Barge smiled and knew immediately he would make another addition to the portraits — Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews, longtime head of a Buffalo Soldiers chapter in upstate New York who has dedicated himself to preserving the history of the soldiers at West Point....

    Barge paints a portrait of Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews, longtime head of a Buffalo Soldiers chapter in upstate New York who is dedicated to preserving the history of the soldiers at West Point.
  3. A different kind of celebrity makes her young fans' day

    Human Interest

    The teenager cupped her hand over her mouth, her face growing red as she greeted the celebrity. Her eyes began to water with tears of joy and she fanned herself just a bit.

    Who could elicit such a reaction at the Clearwater Ulta Beauty store on Saturday? Self-made 20-year-old YouTube lifestyle consultant Aspyn Ovard.

    Ovard, who lives in Utah, inspired about 200 girls — and at least one guy with a beard — to line up at 10 a.m. to purchase a product and get a wristband to return to see Ovard at 3 p.m. My 14-year-old daughter and her two friends joined the buzz....

    Digital influencer and YouTube fashion and beauty creator Aspyn Ovard kicks off the #PhotoBombPop promotion on National Bomb Pop Day, June 25. The #PhotoBombPop promotion seeks original humorous and creative photo bombs featuring the iconic Bomb Pop. To participate, entrants should upload their photo bomb to, or to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #PhotoBombPop. (PRNewsFoto/Wells Enterprises, Inc.) THIS CONTENT IS PROVIDED BY PRNewsfoto and is for EDITORIAL USE ONLY**
  4. Hooper: Why ruin the Pokémon for those who enjoy the quest?


    For my friend and me, Jigglypuff served as code when our sons would grow inattentive as they enveloped themselves in a deep and meaningful conversation about Pokémon.

    Even when they were teenagers, with supposed raging hormones, we watched as my two sons and his two sons debated some pressing question about Mewtwo versus Articuno versus Entei (or something) at Universal Studios while a tour group of beautiful girls walked right by them....

  5. Hooper column: Asking the next generation to succeed where we have failed

    Human Interest

    My younger son posted that he's "waiting on the world to change, but our time is minimized more and more every day."

    My older son posted, "my tear ducts have been put to the test."

    They're 22 and 23, the age where innocence begins to give way to reality.

    And they deserve better.

    Our consternation about the murder of five Dallas police officers and the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling is rooted in what it means to the next generation....

  6. Hooper: Mary McLeod Bethune would make imposing stand in statuary hall

    Human Interest

    In 2015, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, started pushing to replace the U.S. Capitol National Statuary Hall statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, one of two images representing Florida.

    Last week, that goal moved one step closer when an ad-hoc committee designated by the state Legislature chose to replace the statue with a replica of pioneering educator Mary McLeod Bethune....

  7. Food Network spot helped Metro Diner expand into a chain

    Human Interest

    Metro Diner founder Mark Davoli tells a story about how a couple in Virginia saw his restaurant featured on the Food Network and immediately drove to his original location in Jacksonville to try the Yo Hala on the Square: a sinfully good blend of bananas, brown sugar, cream cheese and hazelnut syrup prepared like French toast.

    The story not only speaks to the lure of good food, but the power of the Food Network....

  8. Hooper: Readers, tell me what you like, want


    On Tuesday, I attended the weekly meeting of the Temple Terrace Rotary Club, a spirited group that has achieved much in helping Rotary International with its worldwide goals while providing charitable efforts for the local community.

    I got a chance to speak to some of the members about the Tampa Bay Times' reinvigorated efforts since acquiring the Tampa Tribune in May. The feedback proved helpful, but the conversations left me wanting more....

  9. Palm Harbor high grad prepares for pageants and med school

    Human Interest

    PALM HARBOR — They told her not to talk about it.

    As she prepared for medical school interviews, some of her premed advisors at the University of Miami told Victoria Humphrey to speak of her grades, her goals and her Ivy League summer research internship in New York City.

    But they didn't tell the Palm Harbor resident to talk about tiaras and sashes and congeniality and makeup....

    Victoria Humphrey, a graduate of Palm Harbor University High’s IB program, is a Miss Florida Pageant competitor.
  10. Hooper: A son fills in for his dad on Father's Day

    Human Interest

    Editor's note: Ernest Hooper's son Mat fills in today so his dad could take Father's Day off.

    The apple never falls far from the tree. Contrary to that belief, my dad and I have a lot of differences.

    He graduated from the University of Florida. I graduated from Florida State University. Go Noles.

    He went to school for journalism. I went to school for creative writing.

    He always wanted to be a journalist. I grew up dreaming of being a football player, then a novelist....

  11. Donald Trump's stances increasingly isolate his supporters


    A Facebook friend posted a photo of himself glad-handing with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump after his rally Saturday in Tampa.

    Some congratulated him, but others offered a level of condemnation uncommon for normal discourse.

    More than one person said he should be ashamed of himself. Another asked what's it like to shake hands with the devil and a third described at as "incredibly disappointing."...

    Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a speech Saturday in Tampa.
  12. Hooper: Sunset Music Festival reminds young and old alike about the dangers of drugs


    When your college-aged sons attend a concert where two people die and 57 are hospitalized, you immediately grow concerned.

    Ask Cindy Grant about concerts such as the Memorial Day weekend Sunset Music Festival — where the good times got tainted by two deaths and 89 calls for distress — and your worries multiply. The cause of those deaths is still under investigation, but Tampa police believe drugs played a role in the medical problems....

  13. Lennard student earns spot on Times Square billboard


    RUSKIN — Lennard High's Tyler Connor took a chance.

    And another chance, and another chance.

    By putting himself out there, Tyler's image appeared on a six-story digital billboard in Times Square on Wednesday. He earned the honor and a $1,000 scholarship by entering a contest sponsored by the Taco Bell Foundation and Get Schooled.

    The two foundations teamed to recognize more than 300 junior and senior high school students from 38 states with $1,000 scholarships, including Tyler. Each of their images and stories were featured on the billboard deemed the Más Times Square Yearbook....

    Lennard High’s Tyler Connor was one of 300 students featured on a four-story billboard in New York’s Times Square.
  14. Group's welcome makes award more meaningful

    Human Interest

    The Hispanic Professional Women's Association staged a terrific gala Saturday night at Centro Asturiano.

    The Spanish-influenced food and Latin music from Aramis y Sol Caribe perfectly suited the "Havana Nights" theme, and the association partied with a purpose by granting a scholarship and welcoming mentees.

    But the night's best moment came when board member Marilyn Westropp received the "Star Award" from president Marggie Nichols....

  15. Hooper: Slow down Hillsborough drivers, let's be careful out there



    A Facebook friend described it as the most horrific accident or disaster she had ever seen.

    The tragic wreck that took the life of Rich and Tanya Crete on Monday morning at N Parson Avenue left a void in the hearts of many. Crete owned Rich's Backyard Birds in Valrico and had a lot of friends and customers.

    But I can't escape the fact that the wreck occurred on a suburban road. The location serves as a reminder to us all:...