One shocking headline after another about dead children who at some point were under the Department of Children and Families' supervision has jolted Tallahassee and ushered in what could be the year of the child.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature appear poised to spend more money on children. And a Senate bill makes a sweeping proposal to overhaul the child protection workforce, though there is debate among professionals in that workforce about whether the changes would be effective. From the field, there is a growing sense that the best way to save children is to use the tools caseworkers have at their fingertips — such as an innovative computer program — and interest in addressing specific issues such as dealing with paramours in troubled homes....
When I was pregnant, I worried that I would have a boy. As it turned out, we had a girl. Then came pregnancy No. 2: twin boys. The pregnancy was difficult, but even after our boys were born healthy there was a nagging fear.
I am afraid of raising black boys in a world where too many people see them as violent thugs because of the color of their skin. Their very existence strikes fear into the hearts of people of all races who have been conditioned to recoil at the sight of black males. I am terrified. These boys are my babies....
05/04/12 Local Government
TAMPA — The news about a major water main break Friday afternoon in New Tampa spread almost as quickly as the gushing water on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
Preschool teachers worried about parents having an even more arduous evening commute. Small-business owners with dry taps closed down or struggled to stay open. Hair salons turned away scheduled clients. On Facebook, there were pictures of store shelves emptied by shoppers frantically seeking bottled water....
01/05/12 Human Interest
I won't draw this out. Here is what you need to know: Ernest Hooper is the new Brandon bureau chief.
Starting Monday, he will supervise the Times' coverage in east Hillsborough County. This, my friends, is awesome news. You know Ernest, so I don't have to explain why.
And don't fret. He's keeping his Friday column in the South Shore & Brandon Times section.
Because there can be only one big kahuna in a bureau, I'm moving on. I am going to the Times' Tampa office to become an assistant metro editor. This is a promotion. But when I told my staff last week over Krispy Kreme doughnuts, there were tears. Mostly from me....
From birth until the school years, parents can expect to spend a small fortune on baby gear and soothers, toys and clothing — every bit of which is absolutely essential, that is, until your child outgrows it in a matter of months.
No wonder every parent dreams of a reliable source of hand-me-downs.
But in an age when many of us live far from our children's older cousins, or haven't found a fairy godmother, we're left navigating a robust baby goods market....
I got married on Sept. 1, 2001. My husband and I exchanged vows, standing in a gazebo overlooking a pond at the junior college in our south Georgia hometown. A jazz trio played Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World. I was 25, and life was amazing.
Ten days later, I was standing less than a block away from the World Trade Center, staring at the twin towers ablaze. My world was about to fall apart. ...
08/11/11 Human Interest
As the mother of 9-month-old twins, I get this question all the time: What did you do when you found out you were having twins?
In my mind, people expect a common reaction: a confession of shock, excitement, fear or all of the above. The truth, as often is the case, is a lot more complicated than that. Yes, I was happy — for about 30 seconds. Fear, anxiety and all-out heartbreak set in quickly because my doctor told me he didn't think one of the babies, who at about 6 weeks was much smaller than his brother, would make it. And so I proceeded with extreme caution through the next nine months, determined, by faith, to do my part to bring healthy babies into the world and help them thrive....
05/05/11 Human Interest
Today we end our four-week series on Sun City Center, which this month began its celebration of its 50th anniversary. Throughout the month, the Times told stories of the community's history, its vibrant cultural clubs and offerings, and looked at a population rarely discussed in the 12,000-home retirement community: the elderly. In our final story, we explore how younger residents say the community can foster improvement and growth. Separately, columnist Ernest Hooper offers an appreciation....
02/10/11 Human Interest
I knew tears would flow, but I didn't expect them to come from my 3-year-old daughter.
Mommy, where are my brothers, she asked Monday morning as I dressed her for preschool.
I told her that her father had taken them to the sitter's house. That Mommy would drive her to school and then go to work. It is time, I said.
Your twin brothers, once snug inside my tummy, are ready. Preemies no more, they are healthy and happy. And Mommy is well. I have to go back....
Ballot Battles: Your guide to the 2010 primary elections
With campaign season in full swing, the Times staff presents Ballot Battles, a breakdown of the Aug. 24 contested primary races.
Join us each Friday in July as we tell you about the primary elections that matter in our districts, regions, neighborhoods and subdivisions. Along with objective, reported pieces by our staff writers, columnist Ernest Hooper will handicap each race, providing analysis mixed with a bit of wit and humor. This week, we feature the U.S. Congressional races for Districts 9, 11 and 12....
TAMPA — One week after her ex-husband resigned as senior pastor of Without Walls International Church, Paula White plans to take the pulpit Sunday as the church's new leader, the Whites said in separate interviews late Friday.
White, who held her first staff meeting Friday and spent time looking for a place to live, said she will officially take the reins when she preaches at its two morning worship services. The services will also honor Bishop Randy White, who founded the church with her 18 years ago. ...
BRANDON — Bell Shoals Baptist Church has named a North Carolina preacher as its new senior pastor, the church announced Monday.
The Rev. Stephen Rummage learned he had been tapped to lead the megachurch Sunday night when church officials offered him the job via Webcast. He received a 99.8 percent affirmative vote from the congregation, church officials said.
Rummage, who is married and has a son, is the pastor of the Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. He expects to deliver his first sermon as senior pastor at Bell Shoals on June 28....
TAMPA — Four months ago, the future of Without Walls seemed in peril because of financial troubles, but this week the church rebounded from foreclosure proceedings.
Church leaders signed a new loan with its California lender Monday, senior pastor Randy White said.
"I'm very, very delighted," White said. "It was a great victory for our church and for our people that we don't have that pressure under us like we did have before."...
Under a different set of circumstances, Nadya Suleman might be a cause celebre for the antiabortion movement.
She believes in large families.
She says life begins at conception.
She declined to selectively reduce her offspring after she got pregnant with eight babies.
She had all of her frozen embryos implanted because "they were lives," Suleman said this week in an interview broadcast repeatedly on the Internet and television....
Never one to mince words, St. Petersburg evangelist Bill Keller has a message for the Internal Revenue Service: strip him of his tax exemption or leave him alone.
The agency has been investigating Keller, 51, for a year after he equated voting for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney with casting a vote for Satan.
Keller's struggle with the IRS is emblematic of the frustration preachers around the country feel as they try to help their congregations navigate moral issues during elections. They feel they have the responsibility to provide guidance, but are hamstrung by federal law....