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Times staff,

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

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Hernando County: 352-754-6101

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

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  1. Rays designate fading prospect Hak-Ju Lee for assignment

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — SS Hak-Ju Lee came to the Rays as the key piece — more so than RHP Chris Archer — of the five-player package they got from the Cubs in the January 2011 deal for RHP Matt Garza.

    "He was the king of the trade," Archer said, "and I was the bishop."

    But Tuesday, the Rays gave up control of Lee, designating him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for third C Luke Maile, giving them 10 days to trade, release or (they hope) pass the former top prospect through waivers....

  2. Bucs' kicking game remains unsettled

    Bucs

    TAMPA — They are the only men who put the foot into football, yet they have virtually no job security. Technically, they are like any other player on the team. But they are listed on the roster as specialists, independent contractors who spend most of the day on a separate practice field.

    Twelve days before the regular season opener, the Bucs had three place-kickers at practice Tuesday — Kyle Brindza, a rookie from Notre Dame who arrived in a trade a day earlier from the Lions in exchange for tight end Tim Wright; Connor Barth, the most reliable kicker in team history who was cut by the Broncos last week; and Patrick Murray, the second-year pro who took Barth's job a year ago but quickly is losing his grip on the gig....

  3. Amid contract talks, free agent cornerback Tim Jennings visits Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Two-time Pro Bowl CB Tim Jennings visited the Bucs on Tuesday and could be reunited with coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

    Jennings watched practice with Smith as the Bucs tried to reach a contract agreement with his agent. There was no announcement Tuesday night.

    Jennings, 31, was released Sunday by the Bears, where he had played under Smith. He was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2006, playing for Frazier who served as the team's defensive backs/assistant head coach. Despite enjoying his first four seasons with the Colts, Jennings blossomed with the Bears, recording 16 of his 20 career interceptions in five seasons....

  4. Thousands facing steep increases for Healthy Kids insurance can enroll in Obamacare until Nov. 30

    Health

    Families wishing to drop their Florida Healthy Kids insurance plans can purchase new plans through the Obamacare marketplace beginning Tuesday, Florida Healthy Kids officials said.

    The special enrollment period ends Nov. 30.

    Federal officials decided to open enrollment for some 36,000 Florida families who pay the full rate for Healthy Kids coverage because their monthly premiums are set to double come Oct. 1....

  5. Powerhouse swim coaches reach 20-year milestones

    Swimming Preps

    Bill Shaffer and Lisa Bitting knew each other as high school swimmers in the 1980s — Shaffer at Chamberlain, Bitting at Seminole.

    Both were good enough to swim in college. Once they returned to the area, they became coaches, though not at their alma maters. Instead, they built other programs into swimming powerhouses — and became good friends in the process.

    Shaffer coaches Jesuit and Academy of the Holy Names. Bitting guides Palm Harbor University's program. The two have paced the pool decks at their respective schools for so long they have become institutions. Now, they are embarking on a milestone with Shaffer (Jesuit) and Bitting (PHU) entering their 20th seasons with their teams....

    In addition to coaching Jesuit for two decades, Bill Shaffer has been at the head of the Holy Names program for eight years. Two of his sons swim for Jesuit this season.
  6. Man facing disorderly intoxication charge tells police he's Kris Kringle

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Man gets in the Christmas spirit, early

    A 32-year-old St. Petersburg man told police his name was Kris Kringle and that he was born in 1935 when they questioned him after a fight in a bar on Aug. 24, according to an arrest report.

    Casey Adam Arundel faces charges of providing a false name to law enforcement and disorderly intoxication. Investigators wrote in the arrest report that he had made threats and started a fight with security and other patrons at a downtown St. Petersburg bar on Second Street N....

  7. Hillsborough deputies identify homicide victim found in cemetery

    Crime

    WIMAUMA — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has identified the body found Monday in Fellowship Cemetery.

    The man was identified as Juan Alberto Pelaez, 69. He was found dead around 2 p.m. Monday, according to the Sheriff's Office, at the cemetery at 10232 Highway 674. He suffered trauma to the upper torso, according to deputies, who ruled his death a homicide.

    Pelaez's 2005 Hummer was recovered at the scene by deputies. The cemetery is located about 8 miles east of Sun City Center....

  8. Armwood Class 6A's No. 2 in Associated Press football poll

    Blog

    The Associated Press' state high school football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records, rating points and previous rankings. Area teams in bold:

    Class 8A
     1. Apopka (17) 1-0 179 1  
     2. Charles Flanagan (1) 1-0 163 2  
     3. Christopher Columbus Catholic 1-0 131 3  
     4. Kissimmee Osceola 1-0 130 4  
     5. Dr. Phillips 1-0 108 5  
     6. Vero Beach 1-0 92 7  
     7. West Orange 1-0 63 8  
     8. Atlantic Community 1-0 37 NR  
     9. Manatee 0-1 34 6  
    10. Miramar 0-1 17 9  
    Others receiving votes: South Dade 8, Fort Pierce Central 8, Palm Beach Gardens 5, Miami Southridge 3, Coral Gables 3, West Port 3, Deerfield Beach 2, Mandarin 2, Timber Creek 1, Wellington 1. ...

  9. Hernando Births for Sept. 4

    News

    Births

    Ferrugia, Alexandrea Nance and Russell Gregory Gruner, Spring Hill, Kyla Ray Gruner, 7 pounds 8 ounces, 6:27 p.m. Aug. 22, 2015, at Bayfront Health Spring Hill.

    Newel, Kristine Colby and Thomas E. Newel, Spring Hill, Theodore James Newel, 6 pounds 8 ounces, 1:59 p.m. Aug. 15, 2015, at Bayfront Health Spring Hill.

    Stromberg, Lindsay Christine and Kevin Barry O'Neil, Brooksville, Brayden Patrick O'Neil, 7 pounds 9 ounces, 5:49 p.m. Aug. 17, 2015, at Bayfront Health Spring Hill....

  10. Hernando Anniversary for Sept. 4

    News

    Anniversary

    Edward L. and Betty J. Shumaker of Spring Hill celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary this week. They were married Sept. 3, 1949, at Outer Drive United Presbyterian Church in Detroit.

    Mr. Shumaker served in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps from February 1952 to February 1954 during the Korean War. He retired from the Mount Clemens, Mich., Viny Plant of the Ford Motor Co. on March 1, 1985, where he had been a quality control supervisor and a laboratory technician....

    Courtesy of the Shumakers  Edward L. and Betty J. Shumaker of Spring Hill recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. They were married Sept. 3, 1949, at Outer Drive United Presbyterian Church in Detroit. Mr. Shumaker served in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps from February 1952 until February 1954 during the Korean War. He retired from the Mt. Clemens, Michigan Viny Plant of the Ford Motor Car Company on March 1, 1985, where he had been a quality control supervisor and a laboratory technician. Mrs. Shumaker was a stay-at-home mom to the couple?s three children ? Ed (Elaine), of Tennessee; Nancy of Minnesota, and Lawrence of Michigan. They have seven grandchildren.
  11. Hernando Blood Mobile for Sept. 4

    News

    Bloodmobile locations

    LifeSouth Community Blood Center will have blood drives at the following off-site locations during the coming week.

    Today (Friday): 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mariner Village Center, 11092 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Walmart, 7305 Broad St., Brooksville.

    Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Walmart, 1485 Commercial Way, Spring Hill; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sam's Club, 13360 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill....

  12. Tampa Prep power forward Juwan Durham commits to UConn

    Preps

    One of the top basketball prospects in the nation ended his recruiting process on Tuesday afternoon.

    Tampa Prep senior Juwan Durham announced via Twitter that he has committed to Connecticut.

    Initially, Durham, a 6-foot-9 power forward, was going to name a list of his top five schools this week. But he made his decision after taking an official visit to the school over the weekend and after having a lengthy discussion with his family....

    Juwan Durham, a 6-foot-9 power forward, is working his way back from an ACL tear, which didn’t derail his recruiting.
  13. Republicans Jim Norman, Tim Schock file to run for Hillsborough County commissioner

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Jim Norman, a former Hillsborough County commissioner who exited politics amid scandal three years ago, began his official comeback Tuesday.

    Norman, 61, submitted paperwork to run for county commission as a Republican in the District 6 county-wide race.

    He quickly picked up an opponent. Tim Schock, who owns a local consulting company, filed Tuesday as well.

    Schock, 42, previously ran for commissioner in 2014. He lost to Commissioner Al Higginbotham, finishing a distant second with about 15 percent of the vote....

  14. Rapper Pitbull named ambassador for Florida tourism

    Tourism

    Miami-based rapper Pitbull is partnering with Visit Florida to promote the state as a tourism destination.

    Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Pérez, is Visit Florida's newest ambassador. The rapper will film his upcoming video for the single, Sexy Beaches in Florida. His videos have more than 6 billion online views and he has had No. 1 hits in more than 15 countries. ...

    Miami rapper Pitbull has been named an ambassador for Florida tourism. Here he is shown performing at the 42nd annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles in 2014.
  15. Tourism leaders share ideas to keep visitors flocking to Florida

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Florida has raised the bar every year over the past four years in the number of visitors who have flocked to the Sunshine State for the warm weather, the beaches and the roller coasters.

    More than 97 million people vacationed in Florida last year. During the first half of this year, 54 million visitors came here, which is the most ever for a six-month period, according to Visit Florida, the state's tourism agency. ...