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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: Educators who have early influence on children deserve our admiration

    Human Interest

    The Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties staged a daylong conference this past Saturday that sought to lend wisdom and knowledge to educators while boosting the appreciation we should share for their work.

    The fact it drew 800 people — on a Saturday morning — says much about the coalition and the dedication of these early learning educators. I like to call them "Soldiers for Society" because their positive efforts impact so many facets of our world: education, law enforcement, economics and even the military....

  2. Sunday Conversation: Little Greek Fresh Grill president Nick Vojnovic


    During his 15 years as president of the Beef 'O' Brady's chain, Nick Vojnovic recalls, there was a fundraiser at the Valrico corporate store for a child battling leukemia. The event included a "Be The Match" bone marrow registry drive and Vojnovic gladly went through the process of signing up, placing a cotton swab in his mouth, and turning the sample over to officials. He had no idea if he would ever be a match....

    Little Greek Fresh Grill President Nick Vojnovic was diagnosed with primary myelofibrosis, a life threatening condition that requires a bone marrow transplant. One match was found on the “Be the Match” donor registry.
  3. Does state's environment get an earthly chance?

    Human Interest

    Phosphate sinkholes, sewage water dumps, algae blooms. It's all enough to make me wonder if our elected officials understand the truly fragile nature of Florida's environment. God didn't intend for this state to be totally covered with asphalt ribbons and concrete jungles. …

    Is it just me, or does someone else think the "B" in TBX stands for boondoggle? …

    Some African-American leaders are complaining Hillary Clinton needs to strengthen her voter registration outreach efforts. But if we did a better job teaching civil rights history, would we even need an outreach effort? …...

  4. Sunday Conversation with 'Great Day Tampa Bay' co-host Stephanie Webb


    Great Day Tampa Bay co-host Stephanie Webb has the phrase "This Too Shall Pass" tattooed on her arm. It's a homage to her late parents and a reminder that she persevered through the diagnosis and removal of a surprising tumor doctors found in her side two years ago. It also reflects the upbeat, positive attitude she brings to her television show each day at 9 a.m. on WTSP-Ch. 10. Webb joins co-host Michael Clayton, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver, in trying to deliver an upbeat and empowering series of interviews and segments. She also strives to connect with the community's philanthropic efforts....

    Formers Bucs receiver Michael Clayton joined Stephanie Webb as co-host of Great Day Tampa Bay in March. The show airs weekdays at 9 a.m. on WTSP-Ch. 10.
  5. Hooper: Death of pitcher Fernandez hits home for his Tampa fans

    Human Interest

    Sports can create a bond between fan and player that defies logic.

    The fan develops an affinity for the athlete by seeing remarkable achievements, reading engaging interviews and, often, simply gaining a sense the athlete is a good person.

    I developed that bond for Miami Marlins and former Alonso High pitcher Jose Fernandez. I never met him, but I swear I knew him. I knew his engaging smile, his competitive fire, his playful nature — best illustrated by a growing relationship with Marlins hitting coach and baseball great Barry Bonds....

  6. 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....

  7. 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. …...

  8. 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. 
  9. 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. …...

  10. 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."...

  11. 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.
  12. 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....

  13. 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....

  14. 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....

    Tampa native Alexis Carra said she really enjoyed “growing up in West Tampa and the part of my heritage where  everybody was an aunt. I love that part of the the Tampa Cuban culture.” [Courtesy of Alexis Carra]
  15. 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.