Even though Pinellas is Florida's most densely populated county, huge swaths of open land flank I-275 near the Howard Frankland Bridge. They are once and future landfills and, viewed together offer a surprising, untapped opportunity for major development.
To the east of the interstate is Toytown, which recently attracted an offer from SportsPark Partners to convert that closed relic of a dump into a trendy tourist magnet. The idea is to cover unstable, methane-leaking ground with playing fields and parking lots, attract the Atlanta Braves for spring training, create the biggest amateur sports venue this side of Disney, all while Johns Hopkins researchers make cutting-edge discoveries about collisions and broken bones....
10/14/15 Life Times
They appear on TV and in the newspaper. Some come in the mail.
If it seems like advertisements for Medicare plans are everywhere these days, there's a reason: The annual open enrollment window began Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.
With more than 3.5 million enrollees and dozens of drug plans to choose from, Florida has one of the most robust Medicare markets in the country.
Confused about your choices? You aren't alone. The Tampa Bay Times annually publishes a special Medicare report to help guide people through the choices, including charts of available drug and health plans. ...
10/14/15 Life Times
You've used Medicare's online Plan Finder to determine which prescription drug and health plans are available. Now comes the hard part: deciding which one is best for you. There's a lot to consider, and it goes far beyond premiums and deductibles. Is the plan reliable? Will it cover your medications? Are your preferred hospitals and doctors part of the network? Before you make a choice, here are the three pages on the Plan Finder site you may want to examine:...
Acceptance to Florida's flagship public university this spring came with a huge twist for roughly 3,100 high school seniors: They are welcome to join Gator Nation, but only by computer — at least at first.
In a new experiment, the University of Florida is offering students who otherwise would not have made the cut for traditional freshman enrollment another option of attending classes online-only until they've accumulated two years of study. They are guaranteed admission on-campus after that....
04/02/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — With the opening day of baseball season fast approaching, the St. Petersburg City Council voted Thursday to reopen the debate about the future of Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay Rays.
The council voted to hold a workshop "as quickly as possible" on Mayor Rick Kriseman's latest proposal to let the team explore stadium options in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
The vote did not signal that council members will approve a regionwide search. A similar proposal failed in December by a 5-3 vote, and key council members continued to maintain that two deals Kriseman has negotiated with the Rays leave the city with the short end of the stick....
ST. PETERSBURG — Controversial changes to the city's historic preservation ordinance have shifted to a slower track, but not much slower.
The City Council decided Thursday to delay the final vote on ordinance changes until its July 23 meeting to provide time to hold another public workshop and give concerned property owners more time to weigh in.
The proposed changes, among other things, would make it easier for neighborhoods to apply for landmark status, which restricts how people can renovate and develop property. ...
04/01/15 Human Interest
Minor-league baseball can tolerate muggy Florida's open-air stadiums. If rain or lightning wipes out $1 Tuesday, who cares if average attendance slips from 1,300 to 900?
Major-league stakes are higher. Forget nostalgic notions about baseball under summer skies. Fans forking out $40 for a ticket and a beer want protection and comfort. As a result, the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays play in roofed stadiums with air conditioning, a situation that is neither gratifying nor cheap....
04/01/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman's latest attempt to break a stadium standoff with the Tampa Bay Rays may get an airing before the St. Petersburg City after all — if not a vote.
Council member Karl Nurse has added an item to Thursday's council agenda, calling for a workshop on the stadium. If his colleagues agree to hold one, he also wants to invite the Rays to send a representative....
03/30/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay's five-year stalemate over a new baseball stadium continues — with no obvious end in sight.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman decided Monday he doesn't have enough City Council votes to forge an agreement that would allow the Tampa Bay Rays to explore potential new stadium sites on both sides of the bay.
That keeps the team playing at Tropicana Field into an indefinite future, Kriseman said, and prevents the city from developing the Trop's 85 acres....
Non-euphoric pot may nudge forward in the Legislature this year, but the window for a full-fledged medical marijuana system has all but slammed shut.
A bill by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would allow broad use of medical marijuana has not been scheduled for a committee hearing. Neither has a companion House bill, and by House rules, the deadline for that is Tuesday. Nor has leadership in either chamber shown any signs of making marijuana a high priority....
03/23/15 State Roundup
Noneuphoric pot may nudge forward in the Florida Legislature this year, but the window for a full-fledged medical marijuana system has all but slammed shut.
A bill by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, which would allow broad use of medical marijuana, has not been scheduled for a committee hearing. Neither has a companion House bill sponsored by Reps. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and John Wood, R-Winter Haven. The deadline for that is today. The Republican leadership in neither chamber made passage of a medical marijuana plan a high priority, despite a statewide November ballot measure that won 58 percent of voters' approval....
MOST FLORIDIANS FAVOR medical marijuana of some kind. A flamboyant Orlando lawyer, children with seizures and a presidential election have seen to that.
What type of system Florida might adopt — and when — remains a moving target.
Attorney John Morgan's United for Care group has launched another constitutional amendment campaign for 2016, after falling just shy last year of the 60 percent required for passage....
During baseball season, St. Petersburg resident Claude McKenzie heads for sections 302 and 304 at Tropicana Field, where he works as a "fan host" for the Tampa Bay Rays.
"It's not the type of job you can really live on, but it offers socialization and a good time. It makes me feel special," said McKenzie, 55, who also holds down a day job at a nearby hotel.
Still, McKenzie was happy to hear Thursday that he is about to receive a jump in pay. The Rays are joining the likes of Wal-Mart, T.J. Maxx and other service industry employers and raising their minimum wage to $10 an hour....
The nation's three largest tobacco companies have agreed to pay $100 million to settle roughly 400 lawsuits filed in federal court by Floridians who contended that smoking damaged their health or killed a loved one.
The settlement does not affect federal cases that have already gone to trial or are on appeal. It also doesn't affect more than 2,000 cases still wending their way though state courts. Those cases could prove far more costly to the tobacco companies if plaintiffs ultimately prevail....
ST. PETERSBURG — As hundreds of Tampa Bay Rays fans flooded Tropicana Field's plastic turf Saturday, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said he'll seek a replacement stadium no later than 2022 — with or without permission from St. Petersburg.
For five years, city officials have blocked his request for a regionwide hunt for a new ballpark — most recently at a tense City Council meeting in December....