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Josh Solomon, Times Staff Writer

Josh Solomon

Josh Solomon covers the police and court beats in Pasco and Hernando counties for the Tampa Bay Times.

Before joining the Times in 2014, Josh graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He grew up in northern New Jersey.

Phone: (813) 909-4613

Email: jsolomon@tampabay.com

Twitter: @josh_solomon15

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  1. Hernando offers get-out-of-jail-free card at Saturday event

    Public Safety

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County residents who have low-level arrest warrants won't have to fear handcuffs if they turn themselves in Saturday.

    Criminal justice officials in the county are conducting Operation Safe Surrender, in which people with nonviolent misdemeanor arrest warrants can come to the courthouse and receive favorable treatment. And they won't be arrested.

    "It's a win-win for the defendants, the Sheriff's Office and the criminal justice system as a whole because we don't have to go out and look for them," said Denise Moloney, spokeswoman for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. "They're coming in and getting them taken care of on their own terms....

  2. Early morning threatening tweets land Moon Lake man in jail

    Crime

    MOON LAKE — The man made bomb threats over Twitter, Pasco County deputies said, claiming he had placed explosives around local government buildings.

    And he stole a neighbor's Wi-Fi to do it, they said.

    Terrance Upham, 43, of the Moon Lake neighborhood near New Port Richey, sent the tweets in the early hours of Sunday morning.

    "A pipe bomb an other exploxives (sic) will detonate an placed in an around pasco government building," Upham tweeted from the handle @repit4u, deputies said....

    Upham
  3. With future uncertain, boy fulfills his dream of being a Pasco deputy

    Human Interest

    LAND O'LAKES — As the helicopter rose off the ground, Brave Wetherington wore the kind of smile appropriate for a kid fulfilling a dream: wide and full of teeth.

    Moments earlier, the 12-year-old boy had been deputized by Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and given his own gold badge. Then, it was off to ride in the helicopter.

    Most people aren't lucky enough to achieve their goals at such a young age. But for Brave, who wants to be a law enforcement officer when he grows up, there was a sense of urgency. Next week, Brave will have open-heart surgery, and doctors will attempt to fix the defect he's had since he was born in China....

    Brave Wetherington, 12, of Brooksville prepares to take off in a Bell Jet Ranger II helicopter from Land O’Lakes Detention Center on Monday. The boy, born with a congenital heart defect, has dreams of joining law enforcement.
  4. Sanitation worker dies after falling off truck in west Pasco

    Accidents

    PORT RICHEY — They often work under the cover of darkness, coming and going through alleys and near homes. But their job is not without risks.

    Six minutes before sunrise on Friday, a sanitation worker fell off the left rear corner of a garbage truck as it was backing up, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The truck then ran over him.

    Dantrell Gray, 25, of Spring Hill was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, where he was pronounced dead....

  5. Firefighters close to containing all four wildfires in Pasco County

    Fire

    LAND O'LAKES — A day after two more wildfires ignited, officials said late Thursday that they were close to containing all four fires that burned through parched Pasco County this week.

    That is, until another brush fire starts.

    "I believe we are moving in a forward motion," said Florida Forest Service spokeswoman Judith Tear. "The fire did what we thought it was going to do. The tactics we had planned worked."...

    Pasco County fire crews are battling two brush fires that broke out Monday afternoon. A voluntary evacuation for homes in the area was lifted Monday night around 8 p.m. [Pasco County Fire Rescue]
  6. Two wildfires start in Pasco County as crews contend with first two

    Fire

    LAND O'LAKES — Two more wildfires ignited in Pasco County on Wednesday, bringing the total number of brush fires authorities have had to deal with this week to four.

    Officials learned of the third fire, named the "south bike trail" fire, around 12:30 p.m. after it had already covered 10 acres. In just two hours, it grew to 25 acres. That blaze, in Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, triggered closure and evacuation of the park, including bike trails, campers and day users, but did not threaten homes....

    Pasco County fire crews are battling two brush fires that broke out Monday afternoon. A voluntary evacuation for homes in the area was lifted Monday night around 8 p.m. [Pasco County Fire Rescue]
  7. Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency as brush fires vex Pasco firefighters

    Fire

    LAND O'LAKES — Gov. Rick Scott issued a statewide state of emergency on Tuesday as more than 100 wildfires burned across a scorched and parched state. Meanwhile in Pasco County, firefighters brought one brush fire under control but struggled to contain another.

    More than half of Florida is experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, fueling fires that have swept across 68,000 acres since February....

    Pasco County fire crews are battling two brush fires that broke out Monday afternoon. A voluntary evacuation for homes in the area was lifted Monday night around 8 p.m. [Pasco County Fire Rescue]
  8. Firefighters in Hernando, Pasco counties battling brush fires fueled by Florida's drought

    Fire

    Just as crews knocked down a wildfire in Hernando County, two other brush fires flared up in Pasco County.

    In Hernando County, firefighting crews had contained about 90 percent of what they're calling the "water tower fire" by Monday afternoon. They hoped to have the fire fully contained overnight after it consumed 1,100 acres.

    The more pressing concern Monday evening were the two smaller brush fires off State Road 52 and Hays Road in Pasco County that firefighters were trying to contain....

    Crews continued to battle a brush fire Sunday night near Hernando Beach.
  9. Pasco deputies say man tried to kill 90-year-old woman

    Crime

    LAND O'LAKES — An Indiana man faces an attempted murder charge after Pasco deputies say he tried to kill a 90-year-old woman inside a car Thursday night.

    Eric Moore, 46, of Indianapolis was in a car with Irene Parish. Another woman, who was not identified, was driving the car, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Moore was employed by the 90-year-old woman, who is a business partner of the driver....

    Moore
  10. First 2017 hurricane forecast calls for below-average season, 11 named storms

    Hurricanes

    The first hurricane forecast of 2017 from Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science calls for a slightly below average season and 11 named storms this year.

    Researchers believe the formation of storms will be suppressed by an impending El Niño, the phenomenon of warmer-than-average water temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

    The warmer waters tend to strengthen high-altitude winds that swirl over the tropical Atlantic Ocean, essentially blowing apart storms and making it harder for them to condense into dangerous cyclones....

    This GOES East satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Matthew moving northwest along the east coast of Florida on Oct. 6, 2016. The first hurricane forecast of 2017 from Colorado State University calls for a slightly below average season this year with 11 named storms. (NOAA via AP)
  11. Report faults pilot for 2015 fatal Spring Hill plane crash

    Accidents

    A 2015 plane crash that killed an Odessa pilot and left wreckage strewn across the back yard of a Spring Hill home was caused by pilot error, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled in a report last week.

    The agency's report also said the pilot, Gary Cohen, had cocaine in his system.

    The NTSB, which investigates transportation accidents, found that Cohen failed "to maintain a stabilized instrument approach" into Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, "which resulted in a loss of control."...

    Gary Cohen with his sea plane at the Bartow Municipal Airport in Bartow on 3/14/14.
  12. Hernando deputy fired for failing to properly help man in need

    Public Safety

    BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County sheriff's deputy has been fired after an internal investigation found he failed to help a distressed man and instead sent him to another jurisdiction, the Sheriff's Office said.

    Two deputies, Jeffrey Lamondra and Brian Schneider, encountered a 60-year-old man who was standing outside the Hernando County Family YMCA on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill on Feb. 12, according to an internal investigation. The man was wearing nothing but underwear, was holding a catheter drainage bag and had $64 in cash....

  13. Think you can learn to ski in a weekend? I tried

    Travel

    AVON, Colo.

    There are certain dreams you give up when you move to Florida.

    Learning to ski, for one.

    Eighteen years in the Northeast, and I had never put on skis. Despite the four hours I logged last year during a trip out west, the word beginner gave me too much credit.

    So when friends from New York asked if I wanted to meet them at Beaver Creek ski resort in Colorado for a long weekend, I was apprehensive. ...

    The porch at Zach’s Cabin, a Beaver Creek restaurant that offers skiers Crocs so they can take off their ski boots, affords a panoramic view.
  14. Pasco sheriff: Holiday man spends thousands at strip club after swindling disabled woman

    Crime

    HOLIDAY — First he cajoled her to move in with him from out of state.

    Then, William Bradley Tide, 48, of Holiday stole nearly $150,000 from Maryanne Andersen, a woman in her 60s with a mental disability, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and Tarpon Springs Police Department.

    He spent more than $9,000 of that in a strip club, leaving Anderson alone in his house without furniture, "living in complete disarray," deputies said....

    William Tide spent more than $9,000 of Maryanne Andersen’s money at a strip club, officials say.
  15. Son, convicted of killing dad, should be executed, Pasco mother says

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Nearly two years ago, Dakota Clarke saw his older brother standing in the kitchen with a gun.

    Clarke, then 15, had come out of a bedroom where he was playing video games after he heard a bang, a yell and two more bangs, he told lawyers during a deposition. His older brother, Patrick Clarke Jr., held a rifle at his waist. Their father lay on the floor, shot three times. ...

    Patrick Clarke Jr., 24, was convicted of first-degree murder.