TAMPA — A framed black-on-white sign in the reception area of Ralph E. Fernandez and Associates in Hyde Park makes a powerful political statement: "If you voted for Donald Trump this firm does not want your business."
In these polarized times, such a business decision may seem absurd, acknowledges Fernandez, a longtime Tampa attorney. But he stands by it.
"Someone said recently they're a lifelong proud Republican and voted for Trump," Fernandez said. "I told them to turn around and leave."...
TAMPA — Metosha D. Godwin had an extra pep in her step in recent weeks, her family said.
Godwin had plans for her future. Her own hair salon, perhaps, and maybe a clothing store that had affordable yet fashionable items.
"She was in a good place," said Godwin's niece Shawntavia Dunbar. "This isn't fair. She didn't deserve what she got."
Godwin, 50, was shot and killed early Sunday by Sol William Hoke, 39, at the Tampa Super Shop at 3401 E Lake Ave., according to Tampa police....
06/16/17 Human Interest
Steel. It's steady. It's firm.
Not like the body that sculptor Donald Gialanella is left with, wracked on the right side by tremors from Parkinson's disease.
Steel is the medium of choice for the St. Petersburg artist. He can often be found strolling the Ybor City yard of Tampa Steel & Supply, looking for scraps or whole pieces that might inspire his next sculpture.
"Take pieces like this," Gialanella said, holding up small rods from a bin. "Weld them together and they'll survive the harshest conditions."...
TAMPA — Travel to Cuba by commercial airlines and sea cruises will still be allowed under a new policy directive from President Donald Trump, but it will carry more restrictions than the more open engagement established under his predecessor.
When Trump visits Miami today to announce the new rules, he will decry how a new influx of U.S. visitors to the island under President Barack Obama has been filling the coffers of the Cuban military....
TAMPA — The Montgomery family says they complained a year ago about the heavy oak branches hanging over utility lines outside their home on Orient Road.
In a freak accident early Thursday morning, one branch finally snapped just as 36-year-old William Vantassel of Hudson was driving by in the dark, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.
Vantassel died when his 2015 Nissan Altima collided with the limb as it dangled above the road from utility lines....
TAMPA — If President Donald Trump takes his cue from opponents of new and open relations with Cuba, he will decry how an influx of U.S. visitors there is filling the coffers of the Communist nation's military.
Trump is expected to address tourism when he visits Miami on Friday for a long-awaited announcement of his administration's Cuba policy.
Trump the candidate criticized normalization of relations with Cuba under President Barack Obama as a bad deal for the United States. And the Cuban military does indeed manage the bulk of the island's growing tourism industry — 60 to 70 percent of it, by most accounts....
TAMPA — It seemed laughable back in the 1980s, the idea that the University of Tampa with its small enrollment and still-developing academic reputation could support an honors program.
But a small band of professors proved the skeptics wrong. Constance Rynder was one of the champions.
"She argued we deserved it," said Frank Gillen, first director of the UT honors programs. "She created new history courses for it. Determination defined her."...
TAMPA — Musician Ray Villadonga promised he would live each day to the fullest, as many people say once they're diagnosed with cancer.
But friends say he did just that, as they would expect from a man as genuine as Mr. Villadonga
Just a month ago, frail from the effects of pancreatic cancer, the performer also known as radio host RayZilla took the stage at Tampa's Riverfest, alongside restaurateur and friend Richard Gonzmart and local band the Lint Rollers....
06/09/17 Human Interest
It's a simple project, really, especially for a developer who is helping transform an entire historic district:
Spruce up tiny José Martí Park in Ybor City so it stands as a more fitting memorial to the man considered the George Washington of Cuba — the poet, journalist and soldier killed in battle while helping free the island from colonial rule in the late 1800s.
But first, developer Ariel Quintela has to navigate a web of sometimes competing interests who exercise some measure of control over a plot of land not much bigger than a basketball court....
Tampa will have a spot on the inaugural voyage of NASA's most powerful rocket ever as it paves the way for the future exploration of Mars.
A 17-member Tampa-based group called Team Miles designed a miniature satellite that will be on the unmanned rocket Space Launch System that NASA hopes to launch into deep space in 2019.
"Shock and joy," team leader Wes Faler told the Tampa Bay Times by phone just moments after hearing the news at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. "This is unbelievable."...
06/07/17 Human Interest
Blood trickling from his mouth, a bullet hole in his chest, the teenager leaned against a telephone pole, crying and begging for help.
The cop broke down in tears, swearing he only fired to wound the man — a suspect who was running from the scene of a store burglary.
Martin Chambers, 19, didn't live long afterward. But the days of rioting that followed his death seemed like they'd never end....
TAMPA — Joseph W. House was a decorated veteran, past chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and former member of the University of Tampa board of trustees.
And for one year, he was Batman.
It was the early 1990s, remembers his wife, Susan House, and the two of them were the first married couple to jointly chair the annual fundraising drive for the local chapter of the United Way....
06/05/17 Human Interest
Nicolas Victorin came away with more than a degree from his years of study at Hillsborough Community College.
A scholarship student from Haiti with a can-do attitude, Victorin made key connections during his time in Tampa that are helping him rebuild his home town.
Last year, Victorin was elected mayor of Pignon, an agricultural city in northern Haiti with a population of 42,000. At 31, he is the youngest mayor serving in the impoverished island nation....
06/04/17 Human Interest
Dick Greco, the four-time mayor and Tampa native who shocked the area two years ago when he moved across the bridge to St. Petersburg, may be returning to his home city.
Well, possibly, in two years.
Greco and his wife, Linda McClintock, have purchased a seventh-floor, 2,800-square-foot condo at the 24-story, 71-unit Virage on Bayshore Boulevard due to start construction this fall.
"When we look out our window we'll be able to see downtown Tampa clearly," said Greco, 83. "It's going to be gorgeous."...
Judy Poffo spent much of her life surrounded by muscle-bound tough guys with over-the-top personalities.
Her husband, Angelo Poffo, was a professional wrestler for decades as was younger son "Leaping" Lanny Poffo.
And her older son Randy Poffo, better known by his in-ring name "Macho Man" Randy Savage, is considered one of that profession's all-time greats.
Yet there was never any question that Judy ran the family....