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  1. Providence Road closed in both directions north of Bloomingdale Avenue due to gas leak

    Roads

    RIVERVIEW — A gas leak closed both directions of Providence Road just north of Bloomingdale Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

    No one was injured and there were no evacuations, but authorities were telling residents in the area to "shelter in place" until crews repaired the leak.

    The leak began when a construction worker broke a 6-inch natural gas main in the area, according to Hillsborough Fire Rescue officials. Crew were still working to stop the leak at 4:30 p.m. ...

  2. Pasco County high school teacher announces plans to change gender

    News

    TRINITY — Parents, students and teachers at Mitchell High School in Pasco County learned early Thursday that social studies teacher Robert Konrad no longer wants to be identified as a man.

    The news came to parents via email and robocall from principal Jim Michaels, while teachers and students learned of it at school.

    "Mr. Konrad has begun the process of gender transition and is anticipating presenting as a female no later than August of 2015," Michaels wrote in the email, which he repeated in a staff meeting and during Konrad's classes. "As you can imagine, this is a very private decision, but Mr. Konrad has indicated that he will respond to appropriate questions you may have about the transition process."...

  3. Robbery suspect shot by Tampa officer dies in hospital

    Crime

    A robbery suspect who was shot by a Tampa police officer last week died Wednesday at Tampa General Hospital after he was taken off life support.

    John C. Carr, 20, had been hospitalized for more than a week following the Oct. 12 shooting.

    Police say Carr, who was on probation for a 2011 armed robbery conviction, accosted a man and woman early that morning at the Tampa Park Apartments, 1015 Lily White Court. He demanded money from them at gunpoint. The woman, Kimberly Green, fled and called 911....

  4. Gerald McCoy says Bucs defense has earned title of being 'soft'

    Bucs

    Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says the Bucs defense is soft. Worse yet, he says, it's on tape for all of the NFL to see.

    "If you look out there on tape and you see a bunch of guys sitting on blocks, are you not earning the title of being soft?'' McCoy said Thursday. "I mean, guys get so sensitive around the league but we have to be men. This is a man's league. We're professionals and guys have issues with criticisims. I've been getting criticized since I've been in the NFL. I don't even feel it anymore. We have to accept what happened like I did last week.''...

    Gerald McCoy said the Bucs have been making too many excuses for not playing well: a new scheme, injuries, breakdowns. He wants players to take more accountability. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  5. The Daily Drivers: 2015.5 Volvo V60 T6 AWD R-Design

    Autos

    In an automotive age where SUVs rule, station wagons are a fading market category. But Volvo has been a resolute defender of the traditional family haulers. Its all-new stylish V60, which is based on the S60 sedan, is just what you'd expect from the Swedish automaker that has a solid reputation for safety.

    Appearance: Yes, wagons can be sexy. The V60's front channels the classic Volvo. The grille has a familiar diagonal line with a Volvo badge. The hood is chiseled, and the car's look is heightened by a high door line and narrow windows that appear as one uninterrupted design framed in chrome trim. The vertical taillights flare out to hug the body. At an angle, they are almost L-shaped. The spokes of the 19-inch Ixion alloy wheels have a visual twist, and the integrated chrome dual-exhaust tips finish off the look. Overall, these elements fuse into a cohesive design. The V60 has certainly come a long way from the boxy Volvo wagons of previous decades....

    Sports mode turns the gauges red, with gauges to monitor the car’s power.
  6. Army Corps denies Pasco channel dredging permit for SunWest development

    Local Government

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied Pasco County permission to dredge a deepwater channel in the Gulf of Mexico to its proposed SunWest Park in Aripeka.

    The corps previously denied Pasco's application, which the county then appealed to senior corps staff in Jacksonville and learned this week that the denial was upheld.

    The decision was applauded by Mac Davis, president of the Gulf Coast Conservancy, one of several environmental agencies that fought the dredge, citing damage to sea grass beds, among other issues....

  7. Pasco County high school teacher announces plans to change gender

    Teachers

    TRINITY — Parents, students and teachers at Mitchell High School in Pasco County learned early Thursday that social studies teacher Robert Konrad no longer wants to be identified as a man.

    The news came to parents via email and robocall from principal Jim Michaels, while teachers and students learned of it at school.

    "Mr. Konrad has begun the process of gender transition and is anticipating presenting as a female no later than August of 2015," Michaels wrote in the email, which he repeated in a staff meeting and during Konrad's classes. "As you can imagine, this is a very private decision, but Mr. Konrad has indicated that he will respond to appropriate questions you may have about the transition process."...

  8. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 24

    Events

    Helloween 11: One of Tampa's biggest costume parties is themed "Something Wicked This Way Comes" this year, featuring a haunted house, DJ dancing and $5,000 costume contest. 9 p.m., Jackson's Bistro Bar & Sushi, 601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa. $20, $30 VIP. (813) 277-0112.

    13 Ugly Men: Halloween Freakshow: This year marks the 17th annual Halloween Freakshow, complete with costumes, twisted entertainment and a DJ. The party goes on until 3 a.m.. 8 p.m., District 3, 802 E Whiting St., Tampa. $15 women, $25 men. (727) 744-6496....

    (2013)  The Jackson's Dancers pose for a photo at Pied Piper's Helloween X Voodoo in the Bayou Costume Party.
  9. Covington says he will represent himself, plead guilty in Lutz triple-murder case

    Criminal

    TAMPA — The murder trial of Edward Covington took an unexpected turn Thursday afternoon when he declared that he would represent himself and plead guilty to three murders.

    "I fired my legal team" Covington said. "I'm extremely dissatisfied and I would rather represent myself and go from there."

    He went on to say that he would waive a jury's decision in the death-penalty phase, meaning his fate would be left to Hillsborough County Circuit Judge William Fuente....

    Edward Covington, 42, is on trial for killing girlfriend Lisa Freiberg and her two children in their Lutz mobile home on Mother's Day 2008. His defense is asserting that he was legally insane at the time. [Pool photo]
  10. Rape suspect arrested after identifying himself to television crew

    Crime

    A man suspected of raping a teenager in Pinellas Park walked up to a television crew recording a story about the case, identified himself and was later arrested Thursday morning, police said.

    Pinellas Park police said a WTVT-Ch. 13 crew was recording a segment about the reported rape, which involved a 15-year-old girl, when the "man approached them and said that he was the person that the police were looking for in this case." ...

  11. Tampa's Riverwalk builder fined $10,000 for illegal concrete dump

    Water

    TAMPA — The contractor building an $8.8 million section of Tampa's Riverwalk will pay $10,000 in fines for dumping concrete waste into the Hillsborough River.

    Johnson Bros. Corp. of Lithia also agreed to cover the investigative costs of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, which each imposed a $5,000 fine.

    Together, those costs bring the total that Johnson Bros. will pay to slightly more than $11,000....

  12. More than 100 Sears and Kmart stores to close, report says

    Retail

    Times Staff Writer

    Struggling retail giant Sears Holdings Corp. will lay off at least 5,457 employees and close more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores, many before Christmas, an online report said Thursday.

    Seeking Alpha, a financial news and analysis service, listed a Kmart with 68 employees in Zephyrhills among the stores already in the liquidation process.

    No other stores in the Tampa Bay area appear on the report's "exclusive'' but incomplete list of stores slated for closing. ...

  13. Tarpon Springs' Davis off to a legendary start

    Footballpreps

    TARPON SPRINGS — For his seventh birthday, Daniel Davis was allowed to get whatever he wanted.

    Davis chose a tattoo.

    The request prompted a few double takes from his mother, Tiffaney Lake.

    "I thought it was going to be simple," Lake said. "I figured Daniel would want to go to Busch Gardens, Chuck E. Cheese, something that most 7-year-olds would want. But once he told me he wanted this, I said, 'Oh Lord.' "...

    Daniel Davis, now a 5-foot-9, 160-pound receiver, had his nickname, Bug, tattooed 
on his arm for 
his seventh birthday.
  14. Clearwater considers switch to once-a-week trash collection

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Last year, a flurry of angry phone calls prompted Clearwater to cancel a pilot program to reduce trash collection from twice a week to once a week in a couple of neighborhoods.

    Now the issue is back. Clearwater leaders are strongly considering switching to once-a-week garbage collection citywide. They know they would take some heat for it, too — especially because residents' trash pickup bills wouldn't go down....

  15. Hometown North Pinellas

    News

    Pets given blessings: Students at St. Cecelia Catholic School in Clearwater recently celebrated the Blessing of the Animals as part of the Feast of St. Francis. Students brought pets to school to receive a blessing, and those without pets brought their favorite stuffed animals. The school celebrates this tradition every year.

    MAKE KINDNESS COUNT: Lily Uline of Safety Harbor started Make Kindness Count after her mother gave her $250 for Christmas and told her to give it away. On her 10th birthday, Uline decided to do random acts of kindness for people, then give them a card to pass along the kindness to someone else. Uline, who calls herself a "happiness ambassador," sees acts of kindness as anything from a thank you letter, spending time with someone or just helping with chores. She even has a Facebook page for Make Kindness Count and helps nonprofit organizations in her community by raising awareness for their needs. She recently promoted the Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center in Safety Harbor through a Facebook video encouraging donations. ...

    “Happiness ambassador” Lily Uline of Safety Harbor encourages people to pass along acts of kindness to someone else.