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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

Email: ehooper@tampabay.com

  1. Hooper: A kiosk never smiles back


    I spend a lot of time in Starbucks and Panera Bread and various other establishments where the caffeine is strong and the Wi-Fi is good.

    The Times' unofficial Ybor City bureau remains for me Tre Amici@The Bunker, a place where I love to convene meetings and craft columns with just the right mix of ambient sound and coffee bean aroma. The folks there, led by manager Amy Hilson-Griffin, always offer a kind word, even when I tease Hilson-Griffin about her love of embroidering....

  2. Hooper: Hip clothing chain Suitsupply adds to Tampa's cool factor

    Human Interest

    Amsterdam, London, Milan, Miami, New York, Zurich. And Tampa.

    Suitsupply, known for its European-styled suits, added Tampa to its international list of 69 stores last week with a grand opening in Hyde Park Village last week.

    But it won't come in trying to convince the city to embrace its hip and chic clothing. No, Suitsupply vice president Nish De Gruiter told me the high number of online orders coming out of Tampa drew the company to our city. It's a sign the degree of cool is on the rise. Maybe I can't call Tampa America's biggest small town anymore. …...

  3. Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen stirs up good times in Brandon

    Human Interest

    WHAT I ATE: Given its name, you immediately gain an idea of what to expect and Tibby's appears to offer an array of New Orleans' best-known dishes. I stopped by for lunch and found a collection of midday specials reasonably priced under $10. I opted for the Chicken Pontchartrain while my guest picked from the list of "Classic Combinations," choosing a Bienville Salad and a cup of Seafood Gumbo. We added the Muffuletta Spring Rolls as an appetizer and closed the meal with traditional beignets....

    Chicken Pontchartrain is served in lunch portions, as seen here, or in larger dinner portions at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen. The new restaurant includes tasteful, Mardi Gras-themed decorations. 
  4. PBS takes illuminating look at education

    Human Interest

    WEDU-Ch. 3 and PBS launch a special week of primetime Spotlight Education programming tonight, and we all need to tune in.

    It includes 11 films and documentaries, plus a special Florida This Week episode at 9 p.m. Thursday that includes Hillsborough schools superintendent Jeff Eakins and St. Petersburg College Provost Kevin Gordon.

    The shows reveal that in education there are failures that need to be exposed, challenges that need to be addressed and — most important — solutions that need to be highlighted. Some say the public education system can't succeed, but failure isn't an option. We have to drill down on the complexities and get everybody pulling in the same direction. …...

  5. Taste of Honey event set for USF Botanical Gardens


    More than Pooh-like cravings are drawing people to the University of South Florida's annual Taste of Honey event.

    The tasting, now in its seventh year, will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Botanical Gardens. Tickets are $20 each.

    The taste will feature more than 100 exotic and unusual honeys from around the world, and some extracted by USF students.

    "Each honey has its own flavor, sometimes subtle, sometimes profound," said Kim Hutton, special events coordinator for the Botanical Gardens. "It is great fun, almost an adventure in flavor. In the end, everyone finds their favorite."...

  6. Numbers reflect groups' drive to prevent suicides


    TAMPA — The numbers can't restore the lives of those gone.

    They can't mend the broken hearts of loved ones who grieve.

    They can't help family and friends solve questions that have no answers.

    But the numbers can illustrate why the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Suicide Prevention Task Force will recognize World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:...

    Crisis Center of Tampa Bay president and CEO Clara Reynolds says, "It's so important we provide more education, provide more awareness to the general population on how they can help other people." Photo courtesy of Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
  7. Hooper: Fitness instructor's optimism in fight with cancer has an infectious effect

    Human Interest

    Shawn Becklund, 11 months after doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer, thanked friends, family and supporters last week with a gathering at Spaghetti Warehouse, which graciously comped the meals for her group.

    Becklund, a fitness instructor, exudes so much energy and optimism that people want to revel in it. Jeremy Parker and his wife came with his three kids under 3, including a newborn. Every parent knows that's an incredible tribute. And some 50 others saluted Becklund by showing up....

  8. Hooper: Cancer survivors as models of meaningful change


    The participant came into the program needing a cane to walk and a brace to support his shoulder.

    A cancer survivor, to be celebrated for sure, showing the lingering aftereffects of his battle.

    But by the time he completed the YMCA's LiveSTRONG program designed to help adult cancer survivors reach new goals, he had gained enough strength to shed the brace and he used the cane only as a guide. On the final day, he took to a recumbent bike and pedaled a full rotation....

  9. Sunday Conversation: Actor and Tampa native Alexis Carra


    Sometimes the ups and downs of trying to succeed as a Hollywood actor wears on Tampa native Alexis Carra. When it does, she leans on her friends in the women's group The New Hollywood— friends who always find a way to build her up. The encouragement Carra gets from her support network is one of the reasons she's been tabbed to deliver the afternoon keynote speech Sept. 9 at the 2016 Working Women State Conference....

    Actor Alexis Carra says when she’s down, she has “a group of women to reach out to, to share how I feel.” The Berkeley Prep grad who grew up in West Tampa will be the afternoon keynote speaker at the Working Women State Conference on Sept. 9.
  10. Cleo Heart continues jazz stylings at Tace Lounge


    CARROLLWOOD — Cleo Heart characterizes her outlook on performing at Tace Lounge this Saturday with three words: "excitement, neurosis and anticipation."

    Neurosis? It's a surprising word choice for someone who has delivered stylish jazz vocals to Tampa Bay-area audiences for more than 30 years, but after visiting New Orleans twice this summer, Heart possesses a renewed energy for the genre. It doesn't hurt that Tace, located at 14380 N Dale Mabry Highway, specializes in New Orleans cuisine....

    Cleo Heart will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Tace Lounge in Carrollwood.
  11. Hooper: Democrats offer intriguing race in State Senate District 19


    The Florida State Senate District 19 race has shaped up to be one of the area's most intriguing.

    The four Democrats vying in Tuesday's primary to face off against a little-known Republican all bring bonafides to a race to represent portions of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

    Ed Narain and Darryl Rouson currently serve as state representatives in the House.

    Betty Reed formerly held the seat Narain holds and wants to go back to Tallahassee. She repeated that phrase at least a dozen times during a political forum I got the chance to moderate on Tuesday night....

  12. Hooper: Investing in early childhood assures rewarding adult outcomes

    Human Interest

    The Children's Movement of Florida will host a debate Tuesday among the four Democratic candidates vying for the District 19 state Senate seat, and it will focus on issues affecting children from birth to age 5.

    The forum will be the first of several hosted by the grass roots group, and with good reason.

    The latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Florida 40th overall in child well-being and 47th in health....

  13. Hooper: Let's champion Carrollwood priest's bid for solidarity



    Father Stephan Brown said he no longer can sit at home and watch violent outbreaks, young African-American men dying in the streets and police officers murdered in the line of duty.

    Add terrorist acts and the harsh rhetoric surrounding immigrants to the mix and the disruptive aspects feed what Brown calls an "endless division, distrust and disgust of so much hate."

    It's all enough to make a 52-year-old priest cry. And Brown has cried....

    The Rev. Stephan Brown
 is the parochial vicar at St. Paul Catholic Church in Carrollwood. [Photo courtesy of Stephan Brown]
  14. Hooper: Belief in government, not rhetoric, is key to change

    Human Interest

    Someone far smarter than me recently responded to the statement, "I hate my government at all levels" by arguing that while it can perform better, it's not doing badly enough to justify antigovernment hysteria from both the far right and far left.

    He added that such hyperbole is paralyzing the political process. I couldn't agree more.

    Some will insist what we describe as hysteria is actually reality rooted in unfair acts and a detachment from real Americans. From my view, however, it's really more about charlatans who succeed only by ginning up anger and never acknowledging our government's best aspects....

  15. Hooper: Sometimes, kids have to endure proud parents


    The mother and father sit in the driveway toasting each other with tasty mimosas and broad smiles.

    In the background, their kids trudge toward the school bus.

    It's just an Internet meme, but in some ways it reflects the joy parents share about the first day of school.

    Camps give way to carpools, homework replaces boredom and you finally have a legitimate reason to make them turn off the television and read a book. Or go to bed....