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Times staff,

If you have a news tip, please call our City Desk at 727-893-8215.

You can also call one of our county news bureaus directly:

Hernando County: 352-754-6101

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North Pinellas County: 727-445-4221

Pasco County: 727-869-6235

On the Web, you can also go to sptimes.com/connect/ for details on other ways to contact us.

E-mail: local@tampabay.com

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  1. Jennings will remain out

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — OF Desmond Jennings will miss at least another two weeks as the Rays put him back on the disabled list due to continued problems with his left knee. Now the question is whether the rest of the season will be lost.

    "Just from talking to him the last couple days I know he's frustrated with it and there's just some uncertainty," manager Kevin Cash said. "So I think our best thought was let's get him off his feet and see if 15 days of rest can help."...

    Outfielder Desmond Jennings continues to have problems with his left knee and will miss at least another two weeks.
  2. Rays-Royals Friday preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Royals

    When/where: 7:10 tonight, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Rays Rally 'Stache to all fans, presented by Dali Museum.

    Probable pitchers...

    Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers) OHGL104
  3. Rays hold on to edge Twins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As the Rays have struggled to gain any traction in the multi-team race for an American League wild card spot, manager Kevin Cash has noted more than a few times that they needed to take advantage of the opportunities presented.

    Thursday, they did just that, and benefited from a timely mistake by the Twins, to eke out a 5-4 win.

    After starter Drew Smyly turned a 2-0 first-inning lead into a 4-2 deficit by the fourth, the Rays came back impressively to tie it, then took the lead on a sixth-inning passed....

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) can't reach a homer by Minnesota Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar (5) in the fourth inning of the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, August 27, 2015.
  4. Week 1: Game day grab bag

    Footballpreps

    Notable head-to-heads

    Mitchell DL Devontay Taylor vs. River Ridge RB Chris Schwarz

    After playing a limited role last season, Taylor has become an important defensive presence, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound end who can stop the run with size and rush the passer with his speed.

    In the spring game against Fivay and last week's kickoff classic against Palm Harbor University, Taylor wreaked havoc against opposing quarterbacks with a combined four sacks and a fumble recovery....

    Five-star receiver Nate Craig-Myers is ready to embark on his first full season at Tampa Catholic after injury sidelined him a year ago.
  5. Bucs D-coordinator Frazier fine with coach Love Smith calling defensive plays

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier confirmed what Lovie Smith has been reluctant to say: The Bucs' head coach is handling the defensive play-calling duties this season.

    Frazier also said he's fine with the arrangement.

    "(Lovie) is going to be heavily involved as he's always been with our defense, and he's going to do the majority of the defensive play-calling," Frazier said Thursday. "It really doesn't change my role from a year ago, it really doesn't. My role is to come in and help our defense and help them prepare for every ball game and help our team win. It really doesn't change anything I have to get done."...

    Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, left, says he’s fine with coach Lovie Smith handling the defensive play-calling duties. “It really doesn’t change anything I have to get done,” Frazier says.
  6. Bellamy Elementary teachers dress, teach like pirates for first day of school ... and beyond

    K12

    TAMPA

    Bellamy Elementary School is going full pirate this year.

    "Arrrgh you ready for a great school year?" assistant principal Theresa Seits asked students as they filed in the building Tuesday.

    For the first day of school, every teacher, administrator and staff member donned pirate gear, carried "school maps to success" and handed out gold doubloons to students — all because of the Dave Burgess book Teach Like A Pirate. ...

    Second-grade teacher Brittany Sawyer, from left, second-grade teacher April Woods and Exceptional Student Education teacher for second and third grade Amanda Sligh take a selfie with assistant principal Theresa Seits’ parrot at Bellamy Elementary School.
  7. Gators to play two QBs in season opener

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's quarterback competition will stretch into the season.

    Coach Jim McElwain said Thursday that sophomore Treon Harris and redshirt freshman Will Grier both will play in the team's Sept. 5 season opener against New Mexico State.

    "It will play itself out," said McElwain, who has not named a starter. "Like I've said, and I mean this, you guys keep pushing for this, but there isn't a timetable. The timetable is figure out a way to win the football game with whoever is moving the team."...

  8. Families slammed by steep rate hikes in the Healthy Kids plan can seek refuge in Obamacare

    Health

    Jim Fike was among the thousands of Floridans who feared their families would be stuck with a Florida Healthy Kids insurance plan — even though the rates will double come Oct. 1.

    But this week brought some good news.

    On Thursday, federal health officials said they would allow the 36,000 Florida families affected by the rate hikes to purchase a new plan on the Obamacare marketplace without having to wait for the Nov. 1 start of open enrollment....

  9. Just a shirt?

    Blog

    You might read today's story about the Idlewild Baptist Church spirit shirt giveaway and say, it's just a shirt.

    But sometimes it isn't.

    A reader shared this green flyer that came home in a child's bookbag Thursday. At the family's request, we deleted the school name....

    A reader shared this flyer, which went home in a student's bookbag.
  10. Jefferson finds a little OL double trouble

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA — Jefferson football coach Jeremy Earle makes it a point to know every 6-foot-3, 250-pound boy that walks the hallways. So in the fall of 2013, when he saw not just one, but two students that size he'd never met, Earle set out to change that.

    Twins Oscar and Jesus Gonzalez, first-generation Cuban-Americans, knew limited English then, Earle said, and the freshmen went about their business quietly, walking from class to class....

    At 275 pounds each, Jesus and Oscar Gonzalez, from left, help beef up Jefferson’s offensive line.
  11. Tampa snags Johnson & Johnson corporate services headquarters with 500 jobs

    Business

    TAMPA — Johnson & Johnson, the giant pharmaceutical company best known for its Tylenol and Band-Aid brands, on Thursday said it has picked Tampa as its headquarters to house key corporate services including finance, human resources and information technology.

    As part of the deal, the company will create 500 jobs averaging at least $75,000 over the next three years and make a capital investment of $23.5 million into the Tampa region. In exchange, Johnson & Johnson becomes eligible for state and local incentives of up to $6.37 million the company would receive — once it delivers on the promised jobs and wages. ...

  12. Tampa Premium Outlets job fair draws a crowd of 1,000 people

    Retail

    TAMPA — Just finding a place to park at the Tampa Premium Outlets job fair was itself a job worthy of a paycheck.

    About 1,000 people packed the fair during the first two hours, resumes in hand, dressed to the nines, hoping to land one of the more than 800 positions available at the Pasco shopping center.

    The convention space, in the Embassy Suites on Fowler Avenue near the University of South Florida, was bursting at its seams. Applicants, some of whom had started lining up as early as 6:30 a.m., stood five and six deep at each of the 59 vendor tables. Others sat at lobby tables, the bar, even on the floor filling out paperwork....

    From right, Tom Daggett, 53, of Wesley Chapel, Kaleb Reed, 22, of Land O’Lakes, Gio Vasquez, 21, of Wesley Chapel, and Jessica Fountain, 18, of Brooksville fill out applications Thursday at the Tampa Premium Outlets job fair in Tampa. “I would love to work at Nike. I just love their clothes,” Reed said. [SCOTTY SCHENCK | Times] 
  13. Teacher shirts in Hillsborough strike a nerve when they advertise a church

    K12

    TAMPA — More than 2,000 Hillsborough County public school teachers received T-shirts this week that advertise a megachurch with conservative values, fueling a backlash from some who said the gesture was inappropriate.

    The back of the shirts say "Staff" in large letters, and underneath are the words, "In Partnership with Idlewild Baptist Church."

    "We partner with a lot of faith-based organizations, not just this one," said school district spokeswoman Tanya Arja. "They care about our schools and our students, so we're proud of the partnership."...

    The T-shirts represent the latest in a series of contributions from Idlewild.
  14. Bucs' Russell Shepard drives toward 2nd career for long haul

    Bucs

    TAMPA — When receiver Russell Shepard hauled in a touchdown pass in the Bucs' preseason win Monday against the Bengals, he showed a flash of promise that his elite play on special teams could carry over to offense.

    For two years, Shepard has kept a job on the roster by being the Bucs' leading tackler in kick coverage. His 14 solo tackles on special teams matched the most of any player in the NFL last season....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard (89) during Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa on Monday, August 11, 2014.
  15. Three linemen, three tall tales

    Footballpreps

    Offensive linemen aren't created overnight. They tend to get their size from their parents, and their appetites just might break the bank … or a few restaurant record books.

    Dillan Gibbons, Jr., Northside Christian

    Height: 6-6Weight: 320

    It was apparent even from the womb that Northside Christian offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons was going to be a big child. Gibbons and his twin sister fooled hospital personnel when their mom went in for an ultrasound....

    Pasco’s Jamal Mention