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  1. Hernando commission moves forward with ambitious plan for added space

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — After receiving an 85-page report detailing the need for approximately $30 million in new construction to provide expanded office space for Hernando County government employees, the County Commission agreed Tuesday to study the idea further.

    Commissioners voted 4-1 to advertise for engineers and architects who can craft a detailed plan for the additional space, which was recommended by a space needs committee formed last year and charged with determining how much new space various offices will need through 2025....

  2. Tampa Bay judges reach consensus on seeking the death penalty: for now, Florida can't


    TAMPA — Trial courts in the Tampa Bay area have reached a consensus: Florida has no death penalty and won't until lawmakers rewrite the state's statute.

    A day after Hillsborough prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty for a 30-year-old woman accused of murdering both her parents-in-law, a trial court judge's ruling in another capital case has foreclosed that possibility, at least for the time being....

  3. Tinker to become MacDill's official middle school


    Subject to a Hillsborough County School Board vote on Tuesday, Tinker K-8 will be the official school for middle school students living on the MacDill Air Force Base. The boundary map is here.

    The district added grades 6 to 8 to the elementary school this year and made the slots available to students who used the choice plan. It was widely popular; 127 of the base's 134 middle school students opted for Tinker, according to the district's 40-day enrollment figures....

    Middle school students from Tinker and Monroe at the fall student forum
  4. St. Petersburg police: Man robs taxi driver, leaves wallet in the back seat



    St. Petersburg police: Man robs taxi driver, leaves wallet in the back seat

    A 22-year-old man accused of robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint left behind some valuable clues for police, according to an arrest report.

    D'Andre Foster of St. Petersburg hired the taxi driver Jan. 1 and ordered him to stop at the intersection of Ninth Avenue N and 35th Street. He asked for change. As the driver pulled cash from his pocket, Foster pointed a hand gun at him and demanded money, a report says. They struggled for the gun, but Foster ran off....

  5. Juan Montoya's hectic week includes St. Petersburg — and the White House

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG — The past week has been a microcosm of the hectic but rewarding life of a world famous racing driver.

    Defending IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg champion Juan Montoya arrived Tuesday in St. Petersburg for the track-building ceremony downtown after taking a red-eye flight from Phoenix (via Los Angeles), where Team Penske was part of Chevrolet's IndyCar testing on Monday....

    Juan Montoya's second Indianapolis 500 win last year further cemented a legacy that includes a CART title, 14 CART/IndyCar wins, seven Formula One victories including the Monaco Grand Prix, two NASCAR Sprint Cup wins and three titles at the 24 Hours of Daytona. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  6. Da Vinci, van Gogh and now Chihuly: Art thieves strike everywhere


    ST. PETERSBURG — It was just gone, the delicate glass masterpiece likely slipped inside an overcoat or dropped into a handbag.

    Dale Chihuly's Cobalt and Lavender Piccolo Venetian with Gilded Handles was discovered missing Monday from his collection on Beach Drive. The work, just 8 inches tall, is valued at more than $20,000....

    , a pencil and watercolor on paper, by Edgar Degas was among the works stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. [File photo]
  7. Seminole tae kwon do instructor faces additional sexual battery charge


    SEMINOLE — A former tae kwon do instructor who was arrested Friday on charges of molesting two young girls at his workplace is now facing additional charges.

    Andrew Jin Kim, a 23-year-old who was initially facing two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation after police said he touched a 6- and 7-year-old inappropriately, is facing an additional count of capital sexual battery, authorities said....

  8. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 10


    Diana Ross: One of the most iconic female singers of all time began her journey five decades ago as the leader singer of The Supremes. 8 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $58.75-$128.75. (727) 791-7400.

    Florida Orchestra Coffee Concert: Viva Italia!: Under the direction of Stuart Malina, the orchestra presents Symphony No. 4 "Italian" (Mendelssohn), Fountains of Rome (Respighi), La Traviata Prelude to Act 1 (Verdi) and Cappriccio Italien (Tchaikovsky). 11 a.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $24-$42. (727) 892-3337....

    Diana Ross attends the 2014 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California,  November 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWN        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
  9. NRA's Hammer says water agency's actions against local gun club are illegal


    The National Rifle Association's most influential lobbyist denounced a state water agency Tuesday, demanding that Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature abolish the Southwest Florida Water Management District for what she called violations of the Second Amendment.

    Marion Hammer, whose Florida concealed weapons permit is License No. 0000001, is upset at the agency commonly known as Swiftmud because it is trying to make a Pinellas Park gun club clean up lead pollution caused by spent ammunition....

    A man takes aim while trap shooting at the Skyway Trap & Skeet Club in St. Petersburg. [Times files | 2012]
  10. Hillsborough officials launch gun bounty program to nab illegal firearms


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County officials said Tuesday they will start paying tipsters $1,000 for information about an illegal gun that leads to an arrest.

    The gun bounty program — part of a new partnership between the county's law enforcement agencies and Crime Stoppers Tampa Bay — is the first of its kind in Hillsborough. It was spurred by a deadly 2015, one of the area's bloodiest years in recent history....

    Hillsborough sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski speaks at a press conference held to announce a new reward program designed specifically to help curb gun violence in Hillsborough County. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  11. American Athletic Conference releases 2016 USF Bulls football schedule


    TAMPA — For at least the foreseeable future, the UCF-USF football rivalry is headed back to a Saturday.

    The 2016 Knights-Bulls matchup — set for Nov. 26 at Raymond James Stadium — caps the Bulls' American Athletic Conference schedule released Tuesday morning. The past three games between the rivals have been staged on Black Friday (2013, '14) and Thanksgiving night ('15)....

    Marlon Mack, taking a hit from former Lakewood star Shaquill Griffin, has a USF season record eighth game of 100 rushing yards. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 

  12. Second teen who escaped from Hillsborough lockup arrested


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested a second teen who escaped from a Hillsborough County juvenile detention center last month.

    Anthony Cook, who authorities say slipped out of Falkenburg Academy last month through a hole cut out of a chain link fence, was located Tuesday at about 10 a.m.

    Police said officers responded to a call at 320 Northeast Blvd N. The unknown caller said that Cook was at the home. ...

  13. With a Lenten Wheel of Fortune and Ashes-To-Go, options abound for observing Ash Wednesday


    Christ the King Catholic Church is making Christian history, giving believers a new reason to observe the Lenten season.

    Perhaps even starting a revolution — at least that's the Rev. Len Plazewski's theory.

    He'll know for certain Wednesday morning, when he debuts to his congregation his "Lenten Wheel of Sacrifice."

    "This is going to spread like wildfire," Plazewski predicted....

    The Lenten Wheel of Sacrific debuts on Ash Wednesday at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa. [Photo courtesy of Christ the King]
  14. Second victim dies in Tampa strip club shooting; police seek person of interest


    TAMPA — A second person has died in the shooting at a crowded strip club over the weekend that has already left one dead and six others with gunshot wounds, according to Tampa police.

    Christopher Houston, 20, is the second death linked to the shooting at Club Rayne, located at 8123 N. Nebraska Avenue. He died late Monday, police said....

    Tampa police detectives are asking for the public's help in identifying a man they want to talk to in connection with the fatal shooting at Club Rayne early Saturday morning that left two people dead and six others with gunshot wounds. Anyone with information about this man is asked to contact the Tampa Police Department at (813) 231-6130. [Tampa Police Department]
  15. News at noon: New Hampshire Primary; Missing Chihuly recovered; Manatees flood Crystal River; Local Valentine's date ideas


    New Hampshire voters are braving the snow and cold to vote today for their choice for president in their "first in the nation" primary. Follow the latest from Times political editor Adam C. Smith and Washington bureau chief Alex Leary on the campaign trail in our live blog, and check in tonight for the results after polls close at 7 p.m....

    Matt Parri, left, and Martin Munro, with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office, move one of 18 pallets containing more than 204,000 ballots to a delivery truck at the warehouse in Largo on Tuesday (2/9/16)  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]