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  1. Hillsborough County's schools growing, but not as fast as charters


    TAMPA — Charters are the big winners again this year as families continue to move into Hillsborough County and many opt for the tax-funded but independently operated public schools.

    Of the net growth of 4,736 students, about one-third were in charters. Their 12 percent growth rate was five times that of the district as a whole, which now serves 206,099 children.

    Nearly 700 students signed up for five new charter schools. In southeast Hillsborough's district-run schools, there was a similar surge in elementary school enrollment, with 632 more students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. A new elementary school, Thompson, opened in Ruskin to accommodate the growth, and at least two more are on the horizon....

  2. FSU's Jimbo Fisher not mad at Jameis Winston for dressing out while suspended


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday he hopes Jameis Winston's suspension against Clemson will be a turning point in the quarterback's maturation process.

    Winston was relegated to watching FSU's 23-17 overtime victory while serving a single-game suspension for making a lewd comment last week on campus.

    "I think it hit home, there's no doubt," Fisher said....

  3. Bucs starter Josh McCown sees specialist; likely out vs. Steelers


    TAMPA — Bucs starting QB Josh McCown is expected to miss Sunday's game at Pittsburgh and could be out longer if surgery is required to repair a ligament in his right thumb.

    McCown was examined by a hand specialist Monday and will be re-evaluated in a week or two to determine if surgery is needed. While McCown, 35, could play if surgery is avoided, it could still be several weeks before he returns to the playing field....

    Josh McCown, right, has damage in his right (throwing) thumb and saw a specialist, but it’s not known if he’ll need surgery.
  4. Rays, Red Sox playing surprisingly meaningless series

    The Heater

    BOSTON — Having battled in the playoffs last year for the second time, and dramatically in several other Septembers, the Rays and Red Sox meet this week in what would have seemed six months ago to be the most unlikely scenario: with nothing at stake.

    The Red Sox, a year after winning the World Series, are guaranteed to finish last in the American League East. The Rays, a popular pick to win the World Series this season, are most likely to finish fourth and with a losing record....

    With nothing at stake for the Rays, Alex Cobb faces the Red Sox looking to push himself at the end of the season.
  5. Largo commissioner hires Brian Battaglia to fight censure

    Local Government

    LARGO — City Commissioner Curtis Holmes, threatened with censure for downloading inappropriate material on his city-owned iPad, isn't going down without a fight.

    Holmes has hired St. Petersburg lawyer Brian Battaglia to represent him. Battaglia lost a bid last month for a judgeship on the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court to Clearwater lawyer Kimberly Sharpe. Battaglia, is the son of renowned lawyer Anthony Battaglia, who died Sept. 15. The senior Battaglia's funeral is today. Largo officials have postponed a meeting scheduled that day to discuss Holmes' possible censure to Sept. 30 so Brian Battaglia can attend....

  6. Rock star promoter has music industry stories to share

    Life Times

    When you're a young boy growing up in Manchester, England, it's tough not to dream of one day becoming a world-class soccer player.

    Tony Michaelides, a 61-year-old bubbly bloke with an alarmingly pleasant disposition and a thick British accent who now lives in Pass-a-Grille, dreamed of just that during his childhood in northern England. He spent hours and hours every day kicking around a soccer ball. ...

    Tony Michaelides, right, worked with Peter Gabriel, pictured in 1981.
  7. Rays: Name coincidence between Boxberger baby, Maddon restaurant

    The Heater

    Rays at Red Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Fenway Park, Boston

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Cobb (9-8, 2.82)

    RED SOX: RH Clay Buchholz (8-9, 5.29)

    On Cobb: Lost to Yankees in last start, snapping streak of 12 starts allowing two or fewer runs. Leads majors with 1.51 ERA post All-Star break. Is 2-3, 3.80 in eight starts vs. Sox....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  8. Florida Gators veterans work to keep team's spirits up


    GAINESVILLE — The postgame locker room after Florida's 42-21 loss to No. 3 Alabama on Saturday had a familiar feel that left Gators LB Jarrad Davis and several of his veteran teammates uneasy.

    They decided to address it immediately.

    "Me personally and a couple of other guys on the team tried to go around (the locker room) and make sure everybody keeps their head up, because this is only one game out of however many games we have an opportunity to play this season," Davis said....

    Jarrad Davis (40), moving in as Jabari Gorman stops Derrick Henry, doesn’t want his team dwelling on Saturday’s rout.
  9. Jonathan Drouin's injury not considered serious, but Lightning cautious

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning still doesn't consider Jonathan Drouin's upper-body injury serious, but the touted wing prospect could be sidelined at least the rest of the week, and maybe longer, after showing no improvement.

    Drouin, 19 who hasn't practiced the past three days, was set for additional testing Monday, with the team expecting a clearer indication today of how long he'll be out. Coach Jon Cooper indicated it could be as much as two weeks....

    Jonathan Drouin, who hasn't practiced the past three days, skated on his own before today's workout. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  10. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy makes preseason NHL debut Tuesday

    Lightning Strikes


    Ever since he was a kid in Tyumen, Russia, Andrei Vasilevskiy longed to play in the National Hockey League. Even as Vasilevskiy, 20, starred on the international stage, becoming one of the most touted goalie prospects in years, he wondered how his skills would translate to North America. The wait is finally over. Vasilevskiy makes his much-anticipated debut tonight, starting for the Lightning against the Predators in the exhibition opener at Amalie Arena. No doubt, it'll be emotional. "Nervous, excited, it's a good feeling," Vasilevskiy said. "It's my dream, my childhood dream. It's just a preseason game, but it's a very good day. I'm very happy. If it's a good game, I'll be more happy." The Lightning believes the sky is the limit for Vasilevskiy (pronounced va-SILL-ev-ski), the 19th overall pick in 2012. Vasilevskiy boasts a unique blend of size (6 feet 3, 210 pounds), athleticism and poise. It's why ESPN's Corey Pronman labeled Vasilevskiy "one of the best goalie prospects of the past 20 years," and one former Russian Olympian compared him — unfairly — to Vladislav Tretiak, arguably the greatest goalie of all time....

    Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 20, is scheduled to play the whole preseason opener tonight against Florida but is pegged for the AHL this season.
  11. Rays' young, developing rotation cause for 2015 optimism

    The Heater

    BOSTON — Sitting on the bench watching Alex Colome's solid start against the Yankees last week — which was a few days after Nathan Karns' even more impressive Rays debut — Drew Smyly turned to Alex Cobb in amazement with a question:

    " 'Where do you get all these guys that can go seven shutout innings?' '' Cobb relayed. "I was like, 'The minor leagues. That's what we do. You didn't have that (in Detroit)?' And he's like, 'No, this is very abnormal.' ''...

    Drew Smyly, dazzled by the Rays’ collection of young pitchers, is a key component at age 25.
  12. Rays-Red Sox preview



    at Red Sox


    What's new: Having dealt a number of veterans and locked up last place in the AL East, the Red Sox are looking as much into the future as they can, playing recently signed Cuban OF Rusney Castillo, OF/INF Mookie Betts, INF Xander Bogaerts (who left Sunday's game with neck stiffness) and C Christian Vazquez regularly. Though 2B Dustin Pedoria is shut down after left thumb/wrist surgery, DH David Ortiz is still going strong with 35 homers and 104 RBIs. OF Yeonis Cespedes, acquired from Oakland, has 22 and 97 for the season....

  13. Review: 'How to Get Away with Murder' isn't as strong as its star Viola Davis

    The Feed

    Let's get something straight: ABC's new show How to Get Away with Murder was not created or written by Shonda Rhimes, the mighty showrunner of huge network hits like Grey's Anatomy (now heading into its 11th season) and super buzzy Scandal.

    The new series, an hour-long drama that will follow Grey's and Scandal on Thursday nights, was created by Peter Nowalk, a protege of Rhimes who cut his teeth on those other two shows. Rhimes' involvement in Murder is as executive producer, and the show comes out of her production company, ShondaLand (which means ABC's entire primetime Thursday lineup now consists of ShondaLand shows)....

  14. Neighbors remember boy, 12, killed in Hudson crash


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Neighbors were expecting Ernest Kelly knocking on their doors soon.

    This time of year was usually when the 12-year-old would be selling holiday cookie dough, a fundraiser for Athenian Academy in Port Richey where the sixth-grader attended.

    But Saturday, they saw news trucks parked in front of the family's house on quiet Sage Avenue. Word spread that there had been a crash....

    Ernest Kelly, 12, died as a result of Saturday’s crash.
  15. Top things to do in Tampa Bay Sept. 23


    Taste of Midtown: Sample culinary treats from area restaurants while taking in the Through Our Eyes: Midtown and Beyond project, which showcases student journalists' photography, writing and multimedia. Tonight also features music by Lakewood High and John Hopkins Middle school students. It's at 5 p.m. at Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 895-6620.

    Brewery Oktoberfest: Cigar City turns the tasting room into a semi-traditional bier hall with 10 German style beers on tap and a limited supply of 1-liter Oktoberfest steins. It's open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Cigar City Brewing, 3924 W Spruce St., Tampa. No cover. (813) 348-6363, ext. 206....

    The Tasting Room at Cigar City Brewery .