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

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  1. Possibility of designer's touch on pier is intriguing

    Human Interest

    Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and Arts gave famed architect Yann Weymouth a lifetime achievement award last week. And while the designer of the Dalí Museum expressed gratitude for the recognition and appreciation for the burgeoning arts scene, he emphatically said there's still more to be done. That work may include a team that features Weymouth earning a bid to design St. Petersburg's pier. Looking at his achievements, I'm intrigued with the possibility of Weymouth revitalizing the inverted pyramid. …...

  2. Hooper: Athletes' stories of gambling scandals could serve as lessons

    Human Interest

    Jim Sweeney wants everyone to know he didn't do it.

    Jamall Anderson wants everyone to know he did do it, and why.

    And I just want to know what would have happened if Sweeney had met Anderson in 1996 instead of a few weeks ago at a Beach Drive restaurant in St. Petersburg.

    I met Sweeney, who has lived in Palm Harbor for decades, last month leading up to the premiere of the ESPN "30 for 30" film Playing for the Mob, which chronicles the 1979 Boston College gambling scandal. Sweeney started at point guard for that team but never intentionally made mistakes to influence the outcome of games....

  3. Lightning's youth development program scores at Centennial Middle School

    K12

    Jay Feaster still smiles about the scene he witnessed at Centennial Middle School.

    "There were so many kids stopping the principal and the assistant principal and asking, 'Can I go to PE today?'" said Feaster, the Tampa Bay Lightning's executive director of community hockey development. "They were pumped up."

    Feaster got the 200 kids pumped up by bringing street hockey to physical education classes at Centennial. It was one of the first outreach efforts by Feaster, whose role will eventually take him to more schools in Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Polk counties....

    “It’s a matter of getting sticks in the hands of kids and getting them to realize they have a place to play,” Jay Feaster said of the Lightning program.
  4. Hooper: In mourning, Wendy LaTorre focuses on suicide prevention

    Human Interest

    What do you do the day after your husband commits suicide?

    If you're Wendy LaTorre, widow of late chiropractor William LaTorre, you vow in a Facebook post to raise awareness of suicide prevention and depression.

    "We will refuse to just accept this quietly," she wrote. "We will make it OK to talk about these issues. I don't know how we will do that, but you will know how and we will do it together."...

  5. Review: Stagework Theatre's provocative season opener 'Superior Donuts'

    Stage

    Superior Donuts, the latest treat offered by Stageworks Theatre, sprinkles enough comedic sugar on its fried confection to make for an appetizing evening.

    Yet it's the filling, a provocative mix of challenges about fear, hope and dreams, that prompts the satisfied audience to take enjoyable bites out of the production.

    Written by Tracy Letts (August Osage County) and first performed in Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in 2008, this version marks the opening production for Stageworks' 2014-15 season, a season artistic director Karla Hartley says will focus on building relationships despite differences....

    Cast members Josh Goff and Roxanne Fay.  in Superior Donuts at Stageworks Theatre in Tampa.
  6. Hooper: It's not surprising that Ian Beckles has more to offer

    Human Interest

    Ian Beckles stages a fundraiser Saturday evening for the upstart foundation that bears the same name as his weekend radio show about food and dining.

    But to be clear, Beckles is "the Flavor of Tampa Bay." His diverse interests, vast network of friends and affable manner make him an ambassador for all that's good about our area.

    Inspired by a visit to the Children's Home, Beckles will now channel some of his boundless energy to help kids. His gala event at the Don Vicente Inn in Ybor City will feature food from the Seminole Hard Rock's Council Oak and six craft breweries. . . ....

  7. Valrico talent manager broadens his reach with podcasts

    Human Interest

    Bruce Wawrzyniak remained calm, but he insisted the club deliver on its promise.

    The Valrico-based talent manager had booked one of his clients, Melissa Brethauer, for a four-night performance at a Nashville night spot. On the last night, the club respectfully explained they had double-booked the venue and needed Brethauer to step aside.

    Brethauer dejectedly said she would just go back to the hotel room and do some songwriting. But Wawrzyniak couldn't accept that plan. Despite Brethauer's objections, he went to the club manager and insisted she be allowed to play, even if she had to go on after the other act....

  8. ESPN documentary traces Pinellas man's involvement in point shaving scandal

    College

    The call to the Palm Harbor home came from a coat closet of an Italian restaurant in Maura Sweeney's hometown of Lyndhurst, N.J., The voice on the other line spoke in hushed tones.

    "Maura, they're after Jimmy," the caller warned about her husband. "They're on their way down right now. Make sure he doesn't come home. Make sure he doesn't step into the house tonight."

    Maura, knowing her husband Jim had testified against the mafia members known as the "goodfellas" two years earlier, took the threat seriously. She envisioned shadowy figures driving down I-95, then thought they might already be in town....

    Sweeney, left, was the captain of Boston College’s basketball team in 1979.
  9. Hooper: Building an agenda on climate change for Gov. Scott

    Human Interest

    My father always said if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

    It's clearly an adage the climate scientists who met with Gov. Rick Scott endorse. That's why they will gather today to create an agenda for Scott, who has yet to take a position on the issue, but requested solutions. He won't attend the summit at Eckerd College today, but you can, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. …...

  10. Hooper: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship looks to builds leadership skills

    Human Interest

    The new ABC comedy Black-ish builds a story around a black family looking to maintain some connection to its heritage while living in suburbia.

    The father, played by Anthony Anderson, laments that his son wants to play field hockey instead of basketball and then really loses it when his son declares that he wants to have a bar mitzvah and change his name to Schlomo.

    Comedy is at its best when its rooted in truth, and assimilation stands as a reality for many blacks as they look to embrace diversity, enjoy improved lives while maintaining a connection to their historical roots. As Anderson's character takes his son through a farcical African ceremony to supplant the bar mitzvah, his father, portrayed by Laurence Fishburne, deadpans, "He would be better off watching Roots."...

  11. Hooper: Maddon's clothing choice fits Tampa Bay nonprofit's needs

    Human Interest

    Frameworks Tampa Bay, a nonprofit that promotes the development of youth social and emotional skills, recently got a boost from Rays manager Joe Maddon when he sported a Frameworks T-shirt during a postgame interview.

    Since late July, Maddon has sported T-shirts from various nonprofits after soliciting groups through his Twitter account, which has more than 170,000 followers. Shirts have come from Tampa Bay organizations, other states and even Canada. Maddon speaks of each group during televised interviews on Sun Sports, and he tweets about it....

  12. Hooper: Build a thriving, home-grown tech community

    Columns

    When I think about the mission of Hillsborough County's Economic Development Innovation Initiative, I see a specific vision of director Lindsey Kimball.

    In my mind, she's standing at the county line with a bouffant hairstyle and a gold lame dress — arm extended and palm up — singing an old Supremes song.

    Stop, in the name of technology, before you break my heart.

    Kimball laughs about the vision, but corrects: She would probably choose the music stylings of 2014 pop star Sam Harris and sing Stay With Me....

  13. Brandon Regional, All Children's Hospital team on neonatal care

    Health

    BRANDON — Driving through the crowded highways of Tampa and across the Howard Frankland Bridge to St. Petersburg almost surely would add to the stress of parents seeking care for a newborn in need of neonatal care at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine.

    However, that arduous drive has become less likely for SouthShore and Brandon residents now that Brandon Regional Hospital has formed a partnership with All Children's Specialty Physicians. Neonatologists and maternal-fetal medicine physicians from All Children's will be on staff at Brandon Regional and work with the hospital to increase the care provided to newborns and high-risk expectant mothers....

    Brandon Regional CEO Bland Eng says All Children’s is a leader in the field of neonatal care.
  14. Longtime Tampa activist, radio host Jetie Wilds Jr. dies

    Obituaries

    TAMPA— Jetie B. Wilds Jr. spoke with a deliberate tone when he hosted his public affairs show Citizen's Report on WTMP-AM 1150. His words didn't rise with emotion, but that belied how much he cared about Tampa and particularly the African-American community.

    Mr. Wilds, a community activist, columnist, political candidate and former talk show host who welcomed elected officials and dignitaries to his Saturday morning show for years, died Sunday. He was 74....

    Jetie Wilds Jr.
  15. The wait is on for these things to become reality

    Human Interest

    As Tom Petty, who was in concert Sunday at the Amalie Arena, might say, the waiting is the hardest part.

    Here's what I'm waiting for:

    I'm waiting for an ordinance that started in Tampa to become a national law.

    I got a chance to speak with Ben Ritter, co-chairman for the Mayor's Alliance For Persons With Disabilities. He mentioned that the state enacted a law requiring gas stations to post a phone number on their pumps so people with disabilities can call to request assistance....