OSPREY — One Saturday a week before Christmas 1959, a young ranch hand, his wife and their children spent the day running errands.
They picked up cigarettes, Cokes and penny candy at the hardware store and stopped at the ranch for cattle feed.
The ranch hand's wife, an attractive woman with a figure like Marilyn Monroe, headed home that afternoon in the family's 1952 Plymouth. ...
04/03/13 Human Interest
CLEARWATER -- Terry Power's face tightened as he listened to his wife's attorney tick off their assets on the final day of his divorce trial. He sat in a leather chair at a glass-covered table inside a paneled judicial chamber and he thought not for the first time that her voice annoyed him.
He let his gaze drift briefly to the right beyond the judge, to the view of spindly palm trees swaying slightly in front of the glistening Intracoastal Waterway. How stunning it was out there. How stifling in here....
Owners of dozens of Internet gambling centers in Florida were arrested Wednesday as part of a three-year investigation into Jacksonville-based Allied Veterans of the World, a purported charity group that authorities say collected millions of dollars for itself and little money for veterans.
The probe led to the arrest of 55 individuals in Florida and five other states and prompted the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. It is the "first wave" of Operation Reveal the Deal, which targets illicit slot machine operators who exploited a loophole in the state's sweepstakes laws, said Gerald Bailey, commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at a news conference in Orlando. ...
03/03/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Last November, Ken Conklin sat in a Pinellas County courtroom in his Sperry deck shoes and tried to ignore the men with sallow cheeks who, based on the charges against them, slept in parks, smoked pot and drank lots of beer.
For the second time in a year, Conklin, 41-year-old computer guy and nature lover, had been called to account over the condition of his front yard. The record so far was Code Enforcement 1, Ken Conklin 0. But he was unbowed....
01/05/13 Human Interest
Aging men and women in robes and floppy hats moved purposefully past the ticket gate, through a tunnel that smelled of sulphur, down a path where New Age music piped from speakers hidden in the bougainvillea beds.
The dark spring, surrounded by live oaks and palm trees and a long row of purple chairs, glistened before them in the bright sunlight.
Men in Speedos with protruding bellies disrobed to reveal fading bypass surgery scars — testament, they said, to the water's healing properties. Women in fancy hats with bows and feathers flexed their arthritis-free fingers....
12/07/12 Human Interest
Gretchen Molannen, the woman who battled a rare sexual arousal disorder, took her life sometime in the early morning hours of Nov. 30, almost two days before she was found, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Det. Bryan Faulkingham said it was hard to be precise about when she died, but it was likely only hours after she was last seen by her boyfriend around 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 29. Her boyfriend and two other family friends found her before midnight on Dec. 1....
A woman who was featured in a Tampa Bay Times story that dealt with a rare sexual disorder was found dead of suicide late Saturday at her home in Spring Hill, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's officials did not provide details about how or when Gretchen Molannen died, but she was last seen alive Thursday at 11:30 p.m. Records show deputies responded to a suicide call about midnight Saturday night. The Times received emails from two of her friends confirming her death and lamenting that she wasn't able to get the help she needed....
11/30/12 Human Interest
SPRING HILL — On the edge of a well-to-do neighborhood, where lofty stucco homes come with pool cages and smooth lawns, a woman awoke in a faded white ranch house curtained by overgrown oaks.
Gretchen Molannen, 39, donned white capris, a loose fuchsia top, sneakers. She brushed her teeth, sat gingerly on the edge of her couch and tried to ignore the tingling pressure between her legs....
The final presidential debate will take place at a tiny, little-known university in Boca Raton described by its president as "a funky hothouse flower of American education."
Lynn University, with 2,100 students and 181 faculty members, will emerge from obscurity today when an estimated 60 million viewers tune in for the third debate between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney....
10/19/12 Human Interest
The other day, I handed $1.25 over to a Suncoast Parkway toll operator wearing filthy blue surgical gloves.
Was it ink from all the dollar bills she handled? Grime from coins sitting on the floorboard of someone's car?
Turns out, unless you clean toilets for a living, money is one of the nastiest things you'll touch in a given day. Tests have discovered everything from cocaine to Bisphenol A, a chemical used to make plastics and known to cause health problems, on our greenbacks. ...
LARGO — Marjorie Buda pulled her Chrysler Concorde up to the driver's license office. A layer of sweat had accumulated on her upper lip.
"I'm a wreck," she said Friday. "I got a bad feeling about this. They're looking for anything to take older drivers' licenses away from them."
As she spoke, a man with a clipboard exited the office and headed toward her. ...
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.
Sunlight streaks the red-clay trail, which bulges with tree roots that spread like spider veins. We try not to trip over them as we ascend the mountain, past silverbell and hemlock trees, toward the sound of streaming water. Here in the Smoky Mountains, it is all about finding ways to scale higher.
You can ride on a horse up the mountain. You can take a skylift. Or you can hike, as we chose to do on this August afternoon. ...
09/21/12 Human Interest
Her dark eyes scanned the fluorescent-lit lunchroom, locking onto her friends in the center of the chaos. Her thoughts sprayed in many directions: the upcoming eighth-grade formal, a surprisingly bad grade she recently got on an English paper, her role in the school play.
She passed a table full of white girls and one of them high-fived her. She passed a table full of white boys and one of them called her name. She arrived at a table full of black girls — the table where she sits almost every day. As she set her notebook down, one of her best girlfriends ignored her and moved to another table....
TAMPA — The two women in Section 128 dressed as if they belonged in the audience for vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican National Convention. Jackets and skirts.
When Ryan started to knock President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, the pair stood and unfurled a pink banner they had somehow snuck into the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"Vagina. Can't say it? Don't legislate it," the banner said. It referred to an abortion debate in Michigan in which a female lawmaker was prevented from speaking after talking about a woman's genitals. The women, who supposedly got their tickets from a disenchanted Ron Paul supporter, were quickly escorted out. But they had succeeded in briefly halting Ryan's speech....
TAMPA — Andrew Speirs climbed a statue of a former Tampa mayor and tied a black bandanna around the bronze head. He and other black-clad protesters were getting impatient.
A paltry crowd of 300 moved to the cobblestone street in front of Centennial Park for a march against voter suppression.
Speirs and other anarchists, dressed in black to shroud their identities, chanted ominously. ...