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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

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  1. Hooper: Redlands Christian group steps in to help migrant workers

    Human Interest

    Redlands Christian Migrant Association executive director Barbara Mainster tells the story of a young migrant girl who had only one wish: She wanted her father to come home and take her to the convenience story for Cheetos and a soda.

    But her father isn't coming home. Deported for driving without a license, he's one of the many undocumented immigrants separated from his family. RCMA welcomed President Barack Obama's decision last week by launching an immigration assistance program to help migrant workers with the new rules and help them avoid scam artists....

  2. 'Forever families' celebrate adoptions at Tampa ceremony

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    The moment seemingly called for a mother to comfort her daughter.

    But as Circuit Judge Katherine Essrig finalized Valeishia Mays' adoption of 17-year-old Audris, it was Audris who had to comfort Valeishia as she quietly wept during the proceedings Friday.

    "When I saw Audris comfort her, I almost lost it," Essrig said.

    Asked if she expected her mother to be so emotional, Audris nodded with quiet confidence....

    Valeishia Mays cries as her newly adopted daughter, Audris, 17, offers a supportive hug Friday during Hillsborough County’s National Adoption Day celebration at the George Edgecomb Courthouse in Tampa. “I’m a cry baby,” Valeishia Mays said.
  3. Wesley Chapel mom's determination helps her become young adult novelist

    Human Interest

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Amy Christine Parker sat in the car line at her daughters' school when the news arrived in an email.

    Where else would a Wesley Chapel stay-at-a-home mother receive word about her long-held dreams?

    Just before 4 p.m. on that unforgettable day in 2012, Parker's literary agent called and told her to check her email. Publishers had bid on her first novel, a young-adult tale about a teenage girl trapped in a cultlike community with an abusive leader preparing for a doomsday end of the world....

    Author Amy Christine Parker talks to seventh-graders at Dr. John Long Middle School on Monday. 
  4. Hooper: Connect the dots with light rail and a new Rays stadium

    Human Interest

    Sometimes crazy ideas leap from my mind and can't be contained. Even when they should.

    What if the next transportation initiative includes multiple counties and funding for a new Rays stadium? Yes, it could draw even more opposition from people opposed to public financing of stadiums, but it also could draw baseball fans to the ballot who otherwise would sit out.

    Yeah, crazy. Not so crazy: some kind of transportation initiative returning to the Pinellas ballot in 2016. It's still a problem in need of a solution, and a movement in need of an effective strategy. …...

  5. Her mission: Healthy kids taking a stand against tobacco

    Health

    Nikki Ross-Inda likes to carry around a plastic container full of thick, brownish liquid.

    A child might mistake it for Aunt Jemima syrup, but Ross-Inda intends to make sure kids understand the "jar of tar" — the approximate amount of tar that passes through a smoker's lungs each year from smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day — represents one of the 4,000 chemicals contained in cigarettes. Sixty of those chemicals are known to cause cancer....

    Nikki Ross-Inda, center, created the Moffitt Healthy Kidz Program, which educates underserved youth and their families through activities addressing mental and physical health.  [Times file photo]
  6. Hooper: Lawmaker to share story of overcoming struggles in school

    Human Interest

    With six weeks remaining as a high school senior, Kionne McGhee had a 1.9 grade point average. School officials labeled him emotionally handicapped and suspended him 20 times.

    Now, he's not only a lawyer and college professor, he's State Rep. Kionne McGhee.

    McGhee, 36, brings his story to Hillsborough Community College's fourth Hope Scholars Summit on Friday. They couldn't have chosen a more inspiring speaker. For details, call (813) 253-7851. …...

    Charlie Crist, left, stands with Florida Rep. Kionne McGhee, second from left, U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, center rear, and Florida Sen. Dwight Bullard, right, after Crist spoke to the congregation at the Second Baptist Church during a campaign stop, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 in Miami.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
  7. Founder helps Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan bring his vision to reality

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — It's less than a week before his 85th birthday, but the spry bounce in James Hammond's walk and the ease of his smile belie his years.

    The youthful aura reflects his enthusiasm about the latest chapter in a book of service the longtime civil rights activist has authored throughout his life.

    "I'm a vegan," Hammond said. "I've been a vegetarian for 30 years and a vegan for seven years. I had a portobello sandwich for lunch. I eat vegetables, fruits, nuts. I don't get sick. I stay healthy and I feel fabulous."...

    “I’m really excited about what’s going on. After 26 years, we’re on the threshold of moving forward,” says James Hammond, a prominent local civil rights leader and one of the founders of the nonprofit Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan.
  8. Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce needs to rebuild foundation

    Business

    When Michael Matthews was elevated to chairman of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce last month, he received more than 90 emails — many laced with negative rumors and innuendos about the group's future.

    "That's counterproductive," Matthews told chamber members during a monthly luncheon Tuesday. "That's not how the community will rebuild this chamber.

    "Success is not going to be built in back rooms or through gossip on the phone and emails."...

  9. Hooper: Zach Bonner tries for Guinness World Record food drive

    Human Interest

    Zach Bonner is at it again.

    The inspirational Bonner, who founded his Little Red Wagon Foundation when he was still small enough to sit in a wagon, is now 16 and still on a mission to help homeless children and do good in the world.

    On Friday, Zach will aim to set a Guinness World Record for most canned goods collected in a 24-hour period at the Metropolitan Ministries tent at 400 W Palm Ave. in Tampa He will begin at noon and work to double the current record of 560,000 pounds by noon Saturday....

  10. Don't let domestic violence conversation give way to apathy

    Human Interest

    A warmth filled the WFTS-Ch. 28 television studios last week.

    Leaders from the area's top domestic abuse shelters had gathered to take part in the station's sixth annual Take Action Against Domestic Violence awareness show. The on-air conversation centered on new initiatives — like the Allstate Foundation's Purple Purse initiative designed to combat financial abuse — and the program spotlighted several nonprofits that turn victims into survivors....

  11. 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. …...

  12. 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....

  13. 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....

    Tampa Bay Lightning alumni Jassen Cullimore and Jay Feaster, corner right, executive director of hockey development for the Tampa Lightning, pump up students during a recent visit to Centennial Middle School in Dade City.
  14. 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."...

  15. 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.