09/18/14 Human Interest
They called the meeting to order, said the Pledge of Allegiance and then got down to business.
April Coates, 11, sat at the head of the table inside the conference room at the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, gavel within reach. But she never had to use it.
In orderly fashion, the five grade school girls — April, her sister Aubrie, Hunter and Kennedy Warbritton and Roxy Morrison — went through the meeting agenda as they planned the Oct. 4 ABC Superhero Fun Run at the Covington Park Clubhouse. If you knew the background, you might have expected somber voices and watery eyes....
09/17/14 Human Interest
SAFETY HARBOR — Drawing from a mix of personally penned tunes and covers that included Oasis and Coldplay, prodigious singer Robin Taylor regaled the small but engaged audience at Brady's Backyard BBQ with an effortless voice and remarkable expertise on the piano and guitar.
On one particular song, the folks sitting in the back of the room heard a soft, harmonious vocal underneath his singing. For a moment, they thought Taylor had recorded a faint backing track to support his vocals....
09/14/14 Human Interest
Empathy may be the most difficult emotion to teach our children and elicit from adults.
Condemnation, anger and fear rule the day on so many issues. But if you look at history, those emotions prove fleeting and ineffective when bringing about real change. It's man's ability to understand and share the feelings of another that will guide us in the right direction on issues such as immigration, equal pay and domestic violence....
09/12/14 Human Interest
As she tries to envision her son — see his smile, recall his voice, remember his touch — tears fill her eyes.
She wants what any mother would want: a chance to see her son play with his younger half brother, enjoy rides at Disney, hug his grandmother — as the court ordered.
She longs to pick him up after school, check on his homework and meet his friends — as the court ordered....
09/07/14 Human Interest
I hear people use the phrase "my personal Facebook page," and I just laugh.
Nothing is personal about Facebook, regardless of who you choose to friend or your so-called settings. It's a public forum.
As we learned last week when Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri cautioned his deputies about online activity after learning about a detective's racially charged posts, Facebook and Twitter can come back to haunt....
09/04/14 Human Interest
Sometimes the connection between the past and the present gets distorted, like a bad cellphone call.
Memories, like signals, can fade. Deeds, like parts of a conversation, can get distorted. Every once in awhile, the call gets dropped.
New St. Paul AME pastor Karen Jackson Sims says the inaugural H'Attitude Awards are all about making sure young African-Americans don't get disconnected from the achievements of their most recent predecessors. The awards program takes place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday during a brunch at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and will recognize key contributors in various categories including business, civil rights, education, arts, medicine and legal....
09/04/14 Human Interest
Whether it's a stiletto strut across the stage a la Tina Turner, swaying in front of the microphone stand like Aerosmith's Steven Tyler or emulating the high-energy high jinks of a certain Rolling Stones frontman, everybody wants to be a rock star.
Everybody wants to move like Jagger.
For the third consecutive year, the nonprofit Because of Ezra will give people that opportunity with Karaoke for the Kure: Solid Gold on Sept. 12 at the Orpheum in Ybor City. At the end of last year's event, people were still waiting to get their turn on stage with Rockaraoke, a Seattle-based band that plays live for singers and brings a 600-song catalog to every show....
08/31/14 Human Interest
As we head toward November, voters should make a point of asking Hillsborough County School Board candidates where they stand in terms of superintendent MaryEllen Elia.
Elia hasn't been perfect, but this district stands as a state leader under her guidance. When you talk to people who have dealt with this district and other school districts, they praise Elia for being comparably better....
08/27/14 Human Interest
On a hot summer afternoon back in 1979, my teenage friends and I sought to negate the boredom of those times — no fancy home video games back then — by searching for a diversion.
We lived just a mile from Florida State University and often went down to campus to find some fun. Imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon a cheerleading camp at Osceola Hall, a private dormitory. Teenage boys randomly finding a collection of 200-plus girls was like Capt. Jack Sparrow stumbling upon buried treasure....
08/24/14 Human Interest
Weekend rallies in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota reflect the anger and anguish rippling out of Ferguson, Mo., over the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown.
Debate rages over whether it was justified, but at some point the focus has to move toward how we prevent this from happening again. Too many want to dismiss the loss of life as just the way it goes, but no parent of young black people, myself included, should be willing to accept such a fearful status quo....
08/21/14 Human Interest
A simple task awaited Sara Walsh when she arrived at ESPN headquarters last week.
Shoot hoops with hip-hop star Lil' Wayne.
"I hate to say this, but sometimes I feel like I don't have a job," Walsh said later with a laugh.
To go from three-sport star at Gulf High to SportsCenter anchor and Fantasy Football Now commentator makes Walsh the envy of a lot of aspiring sportscasters and sports fans....
08/20/14 Human Interest
I can't understand why some people want to dump water on a good idea.
The positives that have poured out of the ALS ice bucket challenge far outweigh the negatives. In case you've missed this Internet sensation, let me explain.
Social media networks have filled with people dumping ice water on their heads and challenging friends to donate to the ALS Foundation or accept the challenge. They have ranged from celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake to athletes including Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy....
08/17/14 Human Interest
A predominantly black church in Tampa cancels a gay man's funeral.
A Hillsborough School Board candidate of Indian descent is smeared with a mailer so vile and racist she called a news conference to respond.
A St. Petersburg worker remains bitter about a white supervisor spray-painting his safety vest with KKK — largely because the supervisor remains employed and in charge.
As a community, are we learning from the past and evolving as a society? For every action we've taken against bigotry and racism lies an opposite reaction that suggests such adverse attitudes have simply gone underground....
Craig Latimer and I have something in common.
Like all journalists, I strive to report the news and not be a part of it. It's much the same for Latimer, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.
If all goes well on Aug. 26, results will roll in, complaints will be minimal and the fact that this is Latimer's first election as supervisor will be a mere footnote.
But if Latimer ends up answering more questions about technical gaffes than turnout, he will be singing Oh, What A Night for all the wrong reasons....
08/14/14 Human Interest
SUN CITY CENTER — Doug Arnold is going to build a town hall in Sun City Center, a place where people can come and exchange ideas and interests like back in the good old days.
And he's not going to use bricks, mortar or any construction materials to erect this center.
He's going to use the Internet.
Arnold, a Sun City Center resident, announced plans for the Sun City Center Citizens Network last week. He's currently beta testing the site at suncitycentercitizensnetwork.ning.com with the hopes of creating a digital town hall that will help residents in the retirement communities connect on a better level....