Jared Leone, Times Staff Writer

Jared Leone

Jared Leone works in the Carrollwood bureau assisting daily and regional coverage for the St. Petersburg Times and the Friday North of Tampa section. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2004 and started working for the Times in 2006.

Phone: (813) 286-5314

E-mail: jleone@tampabay.com

  1. At only 11, Clearwater golfer will play the 18th hole at Augusta

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — Wearing sky blue, her favorite color, Tia Walker straightens one elbow and loosens the other one. Her head is down, her eyes fixed on a spot just a few feet from her. Her long arms gracefully power her seven-iron through the golf ball, which gently hits the bottom of the cup on the practice green at Countryside Country Club.

    Tia, 11, is something of a golf prodigy. She can drive the ball 150 yards. She can sink a 30-foot putt. And now she is getting ready to play the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club, a feat many duffers dream of, as part of the Drive, Chip and Putt Challenge Championship on Sunday. All this within a year and a half of taking up the sport....

    Tia Walker of Palm Harbor will play in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championships on Sunday.
  2. Traditions and spring training baseball go hand in hand

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER

    Jackie and Andy Wade loaded up for the hour-and-a-half drive from Davenport to take their baby, Dexter, to his first spring training game at Bright House Field on Wednesday.

    They were looking forward to a fun day at the ballpark, wearing their support for the Philadelphia Phillies — Andy in a jersey, Jackie in a red T-shirt and 8-month-old Dexter in a onesie that read "Property of the Phillies." Jackie, 29, bought the onesie while pregnant with the intention of taking Dexter to spring training in it....

    Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and the Phillie Phanatic celebrate the spring opener for the Phillies against Blue Jays at the Bright House Field. The game attracted more than 5,000 fans but was stopped after seven innings because of rain.
  3. Clearwater Beach surf shop will make way for craft brewery

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — Bill McKenna's surf shop has been a Clearwater Beach fixture for 35 years.

    Mandalay Surf Co., one of Clearwater's first surf shops, opened in a 700-square-foot space near the then-Clearwater Beach Hotel. McKenna sold surfboards, skimboards, skateboards and beachwear there for 12 years before moving to Mandalay Avenue and Baymont Street, where he continued to build a following....

    Bill McKenna shows sunglasses to Rochelle Huly, of West Bloomfield, Mich., at his surf shop. McKenna is 72 and ready to sell the building to owners of the island’s first craft brewery.
  4. Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival offers food, free grooves

    Events

    CLEARWATER

    Playing incessantly, sometimes five sets a night throughout the Tampa Bay area, showed Rick Barrio Dill that he could make it playing professionally. The sweat. The heat of the gig. Feeling like his fingers were about to fall off while slapping the strings on his Fender bass.

    For the past three years he has played about 260 shows a year with Vintage Trouble, one of the best-known unsigned bands in the country....

    Rick Barrio Dill, left, of Vintage Trouble will perform near his parents’ turf Saturday.
  5. Pilot trolley route will take riders to downtown Safety Harbor

    Transportation

    SAFETY HARBOR — The Jolley Trolley's brass rails and wooden benches could soon signal a boon to Safety Harbor businesses.

    After nearly 18 months of planning and negotiating, an eight-month pilot program to bring a trolley to downtown Safety Harbor will start Feb. 1.

    "I think it's more of a business morale boost to see the Jolley Trolley up and down the street every hour with riders," City Manager Matt Spoor said. "It's a shot in the arm … to see people get off and on the trolley. I think that's the key. What good it brings after that, we'll be able to gauge and study."...

    The Jolley Trolley will run from downtown Dunedin to downtown Safety Harbor, with a stop at Countryside Mall, starting Feb. 1
  6. Safety Harbor will serve up its tastes Monday

    Human Interest

    SAFETY HARBOR — Shawn and Mercedes Ofalt wanted to fill a sandwich shop void in downtown Safety Harbor.

    Shawn grew up here and the couple moved back to the area about five years ago.

    After months of looking for just the right spot, they found one well-suited for them to serve up homemade specialty sandwiches, soups and breads, Mercedes said.

    They opened Sandwich on Main with their tastes in mind....

    Pickles garnish sandwiches at Sandwich on Main, one of the 18 restaurants participating in the 8th annual Taste of Safety Harbor on Monday at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.
  7. Local guide dog Coastie to help Marine Corps veteran

    Human Interest

    Dan Jones never had a problem getting around. A Marine Corps veteran, he took daily 5-mile walks on the Rails to Trails path close to his home in Apopka, near Orlando.

    But he gradually lost his peripheral vision, until the world looked like he was viewing it through a tunnel. Sixteen months ago, Jones, 54, was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. He needed help to safely function in his daily life....

    Coastie has had lots of media exposure.
  8. Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club shoots for National Register of Historic Places listing

    Human Interest

    TEMPLE TERRACE — Wearing black knickers and a white, newsboy-style cap slung over his face, Mike Stevens lined up his nearly 100-year-old hickory shaft iron and let go.

    A free and easy swing sent his old-fashioned mesh golf ball sailing down the fairway and bouncing lightly on the Bermuda grass to settle just where the course curves.

    Using the old gear really takes advantage of the original intent of the course, Stevens says....

    Dressed in traditional golf togs, Mike Stevens waits for another golfer to chip at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club.
  9. North Tampa events and meetings

    Briefs

    Infant and child CPR: Learn how to perform CPR and choking rescue techniques on infants and children using American Heart Association guidelines. Participants must be at least 9 years old. Registration required; $30. St. Joseph's Women's Hospital Pavilion, 4321 N MacDill Ave., fourth floor. Today from 6 to 9 p.m.; Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m.

    Arts and crafts festival: The GFWC Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club helps sponsor the event with a food court and booths with art, jewelry and crafts. Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $2 parking fee. Lake Park, 17302 N Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz. (813) 264-3806....

  10. Downtown Tampa to get pay stations that let you keep the change

    Growth

    DOWNTOWN — Pushing those nickels, dimes and quarters through parking meters can really add up.

    In Tampa, they ring up to the tune of close to $2.1 million a year.

    And if all goes as expected, that number could increase.

    The city is rolling out new solar parking meters that officials say could help bring in an additional $250,000 annually.

    The meters will be installed in phases, the first expected to be in use Monday. The final machine should be up and ready for use the week of Dec. 20....

    The City of Tampa is installing new solar pay stations for parking downtown.
  11. Controversial sidewalk near Westchase gets county commissioners' approval

    Growth

    Bevin Maynard will soon be able to take her children on a bike ride without having to cross a major road to get on a sidewalk.

    Maynard, who works as a bike safety coordinator, knows the risks of not having a safe place to ride.

    "With all the recent fatalities, it doesn't make sense not to build (a sidewalk)," she said.

    Hillsborough County commissioners agreed.

    They unanimously voted Thursday to approve a controversial half-mile sidewalk along Nine Eagles Drive in front of Westchase's Bryant Elementary School....

  12. Walmart Supercenter opens on Gandy Boulevard

    Growth

    GANDY — The world's largest retailer just got a little bigger. The latest Walmart Supercenter opened Oct. 27 at 4302 Gandy Blvd. The location will employ about 300 people where a Sticks 'N' Stuff and the Pleasure Zone Adult Supercenter were once located. The 145,000-square-foot store features a fresh layout with wide aisles and bright colors inside. The 24-hour store has a pharmacy, grocery store and more than 30 other departments. Plans for the store has been in the works for three years, with some residents concerned about its impact on their community. Reached this week, Al Steenson, president of the Gandy/Sun Bay South Civic Association, was concerned about increased traffic on Lois Avenue. "I think it's going over well but we'll see what happens through the holidays," he said. Above left, Martha Alderman hands out holiday food shopping lists to Marion Skinner, center, and Minnie Sutton, right, as they entered the store on opening day. All three live in the Bayshore Presbyterian apartments in Tampa and are members of the Bayshore Belles chapter of the Red Hat Society. Jared Leone, Times staff writer...

  13. New book by Temple Terrace Preservation Society explores city's history

    Human Interest

    TEMPLE TERRACE — This book is just a start.

    Grant Rimbey of the Temple Terrace Preservation Society has spent the last decade gathering news clippings, photos, brochures — anything old that might have some tie to the city.

    "It was mostly just gathering stuff that was scattered in the winds," Rimbey said. "We are hoping to tie a lot of the loose ends together."

    All the scouring finally paid off. The result, Images of America, Temple Terrace by Arcadia Publishing, is available for $21.99 starting Monday....

    Images of America, Temple Terrace, which sells for $21.99, has been a decade in the making.
  14. Voting location changes for Palm River precincts

    Politics

    TAMPA — Some changes are in store for east Hillsborough voters even before any ballots get counted.

    Like where to vote.

    The Hillsborough County supervisor of elections changed locations for Precincts 966 and 968 in Palm River after finding out last week the business that had hosted the precincts was closed.

    Now the 3,910 voters who used to go to All Events Catering at Harris Hall will vote at the 78th Street Community Library, about a half-mile away....

    Patti Vincenzini of Lithia arranges voting booths at the Palmetto Club ballroom Monday in preparation for Election Day at Precinct 701 in the Fishhawk neighborhood. The new polling site for precincts 966 and 968 is 78th Street Community Library. 
  15. 'Green' Mobil gas station to open in Dunedin

    Growth

    DUNEDIN — This grand opening has been 10 years in the making.

    Back in 2000, local business owners Spiro and Labrine Voutsinas took their family to meet the "green patriarch," His All Holiness Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christianity. He talked about the importance of saving the environment. So the husband and wife began thinking of ways they could help.

    "We have to be more green, more involved," Labrine Voutsinas said, calling the green movement a "moral issue."...