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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

Hillsborough County/Tampa: 813-226-3303

North Pinellas County: 727-445-4221

Pasco County: 727-869-6235

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


  1. Sickles embraces its new defensive identity


    TAMPA — Try as he might to forget last year's matchup with Plant, Sickles linebacker Jake Hampton won't let the memory fade. He walks around with a photo of the 54-6 final score as the background of his cell phone.

    And he's not the only one who won't let himself forget.

    "I look at it pretty much every day," Sickles coach Brian Turner said of the scoreboard picture. "That was humiliating, and on TV, too, however many people watching."...

    Want to know why Sickles has five shutouts already this season? Here are three reasons, from left: Cameron Miller, Anthony Montalvo and Jake Hampton. (JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times)
  2. Big investor in Ybor City looks to pay $792,000 for city-owned lot

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — After nearly two years of trying, City Hall appears to have a buyer with a big plan for a high-profile corner in Ybor City.

    The City Council next week is expected to consider a contract to sell a third of a block at E Seventh Avenue and Nick Nuccio Parkway for $792,000.

    The buyer is a partnership between homebuilder Ariel Quintela and Darryl Shaw, the CEO of BluePearl Veterinary, a Tampa-based company with emergency animal hospitals and specialty veterinary clinics in 17 states....

    The Marti would go up at the northeast corner of Nick Nuccio Parkway and E Seventh Avenue, next to the arched gateway to Ybor City. In the background is the the historic Marti-Maceo Club, officially known as Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo, which would remain.

  3. Five arrested in armed robbery at St. Petersburg bar


    ST. PETERSBURG — Five people were arrested following an armed robbery at a bar and a subsequent car chase early Thursday morning, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

    The suspects are accused of robbing patrons inside the Twin Horse Saloon at 2747 53rd Ave. N shortly after midnight. Deputies said that one man held a gun to the bartender's head and they all beat patrons, taking cash and cell phones. No one in the bar was seriously hurt....

  4. HCC advisory council drops Pledge of Allegiance from meetings


    TAMPA — An advisory council comprised of students, faculty and staff at Hillsborough Community College will no longer say the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings — and the college isn't happy about it.

    The Institutional Advisory Council voted in September to drop the pledge from its meetings, according to their minutes, which describe a discussion about academic freedom and "structured dissent." ...

  5. Jim McElwain steers Florida Gators back toward top (w/video)


    GAINESVILLE — Not long after coach Jim McElwain took over at Florida, he turned a borrowed phrase into one of the Gators' mantras.

    Restore the order.

    "The order for a long time (was), there were the Gators — we were right up there at the top of the order," McElwain said. "Yet, for some reason, the order has been skewed."

    When UF was at its peak, it captured 10 SEC East titles in an 18-year span. But the Gators have been shut out since then — with SEC newbie Missouri taking advantage of the division's new hierarchy. The Tigers have won the SEC East each of the last two seasons and embarrassed UF last year in a 42-13 rout at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium....

    Florida head coach Jim McElwain regroups with players during a timeout in the fourth quarter of the Gators' victory over Ole Miss. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  6. Internet Cat Video Festival set for return to St. Petersburg park


    Saturday belongs to the dogs when the SPCA holds its annual PetWalk fundraiser in Vinoy Park, but Friday is for felines, with an outdoor screening of the wildly popular Internet Cat Video Festival in Vinoy Park.

    SPCA Tampa Bay did a similar festival in May but it promises this is an all-new collection of cat antics because there is a seemingly bottomless well of kitty comedy on the Internet. ...

  7. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Platinum


    The bottom line: The Cadillac Escalade is for those who need a luxurious family vehicle that also carries some cachet. (Don't need that? Try the Chevy Suburban.) As long as gas prices don't rocket, big is back.

    When we tested the newly redesigned 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV (extended wheelbase) last year, we said the changes would put the big SUV back on the A-list for those who like their luxury large. Recently, we drove the regular Escalade — in the fully loaded Platinum trim — and it's still a case of livin' large. ...

    The design of the second-row climate controls mimics the look of the front panel.
  8. Defendant takes stand in I-4 mistaken identity murder case


    TAMPA — Accused of killing a man in a drive-by shooting on Interstate 4 in 2013, Jerome Hayes took the stand on Thursday, the only witness to testify for his defense.

    Hayes, 51, a small, tense man with a shaved head, told jurors that when he pointed his 9mm Glock at another car and fired three rounds, he had no intention of killing someone. Rather, he said, it was a "spur of the moment" decision intended to scare the green Ford Mustang's driver, a man Hayes said he thought might have been following him....

    Jerome Hayes, 51, describes firing a 9mm Glock pistol at a green Mustang while driving on I-4 from the witness stand in his own defense in Hillsborough County Court Thursday morning. He is accused of fatally shooting Fred Turner Jr., a 47-year-old Orlando man who was found dead on June 29, 2013, behind the wheel on the side of Interstate 4. Authorities said Hayes' intended target was a man he had fought outside of the Tampa Gold Club, a strip club on Adamo Drive. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  9. Wesley Chapel medical tech firm plans to add 500 jobs


    A Wesley Chapel health care software company said it plans on adding 500 jobs after recently securing $18 million from several private equity firms.

    CareSync said this week its "user base" has increased 20-fold in the last four months in response to the company's development of a chronic care management program.

    Company officials said that it planned to add the jobs in the next 18 months. A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached to comment Thursday....

  10. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 9


    Toro Y Moi: The indie-soul singer is one of the original icons of the chillwave music movement. 9 p.m., State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $18. (727) 895-3045.

    FitLine Zip Line in Downtown Tampa: Fitlife Foods is setting up two 25-foot zip lines carrying people through downtown Tampa on Franklin Street from Zack to Madison streets. There's also a 100-yard interactive game, activities and contests. . 11 a.m., Start Point, Corner of Zack and Franklin Street, Tampa. $10 zip line or rock wall, $15 both. (813) 451-6750....

    Toro y Moi. Credit: Andrew Paynter.
  11. 'American Horror Story: Hotel,' season 5 episode 1: Such a lovely place


    It's difficult for me to decide which scene in American Horror Story: Hotel's premiere disturbed me the most.

    With every season of AHS, I yearn for that pivotal scene that pushes the boundaries of cable TV censorship. If I'm rendered speechless and think "what the heck did I just watch?" after, then Ryan Murphy and his team have succeeded.
    Hotel's season premiere had about three of those scenes....

    A clean-cut Wes Bentley plays Detective John Lowe, who's murder investigation leads him to the Hotel Cortez -- room 64 to be exact.
  12. Football picks, Week 7


    Zephyrhills Christian at Keswick Christian

    Rodney Page: Zephyrhills Christian 28-21

    Kelly Parsons: Keswick Christian 24-21

    Bob Putnam: Zephyrhills Christian 21-13

    Land O’Lakes at Tampa Catholic

    Rodney Page: Tampa Catholic 36-6

    Kelly Parsons: Tampa Catholic 45-12

    Bob Putnam: Tampa Catholic 28-14...

    Will Clearwater still be unbeaten after this week? Our staff writers think so.
  13. Lazydays acquires Colorado RV company


    Lazydays, a Seffner-based company that bills itself as the world's largest RV dealer, announced that it will acquire the RV America chain and its three dealerships in Colorado.

    The acquisition includes three dealerships in the Denver area, one of which has the world's largest indoor RV showroom in Johnstown, Colo, according to a news release. All three dealerships will retain the RV America names for now and will transition to Lazydays RV sometime next year. ...

  14. Clearwater High School placed on lockdown after 'unfounded incident' about a gun

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater High School was placed on a precautionary lockdown Thursday morning after a student lied about seeing a gun on school property, police said.

    Clearwater police received a report about a student seeing another student with a gun in the school bathroom. The student who allegedly saw the gun called a parent who picked the student up "without advising the school administration or police about the incident," police said....

  15. Sheriff says 911 center remains a work in progress

    Public Safety

    DADE CITY — The car alarm signaled trouble, and Phillip Tyler knew what to do. He dialed the Pasco County Sheriff's Office to report the attempted auto burglary.

    The call, about noon on a Friday to the sheriff's nonemergency number, went unanswered and then unattached.

    "I got disconnected twice,'' said Tyler, 51, of Holiday. "It's not the first time.''

    It took three hours, and two phone calls to the assistant county administrator in charge of public safety, before a sheriff's corporal called back to take the report....