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  1. Humane Society: Tampa "zombie cat" won't return to owner


    TAMPA -- The saga of Bart the "zombie cat" continues.

    The Humane Society of Tampa Bay released a statement Friday, which said the organization will not return Bart to his owner, 52-year-old Ellis Hutson, as originally planned.

    It turns out that Hutson's neighbor, Dusty Albritton, posted a video about a week ago on YouTube which includes comments about Bart's condition before burial. After seeing the video, Humane Society officials intend to find the 23-month-old cat a new home following his treatment....

    Bart rests at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay on Wednesday, following his surgery Tuesday. He is expected to make a full recovery.

 [Humane Society of Tampa Bay]
  2. Jury finds Tampa pharmacist guilty of wife's murder


    TAMPA — Jurors convicted a Tampa pharmacist on Friday of beating his wife to death with a baseball bat in 2010.

    The conviction of Olufemi Ademoye, 56, followed weeks of testimony in which defense attorney Barry Cohen sought to convince jurors that the defendant's wife, Juliet Ademoye, had died from an accidental fall in the couple's Tampa home. But physical evidence — in particular, Juliet Ademoye's blood found on a baseball bat — suggested otherwise....

  3. What's Cynthia Weil reading?



    Cynthia Weil

    If you've seen the 2013 Tony-award winning play Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, you'll recognize Cynthia Weil as King's friend and fellow songwriter. Weil and her husband, Barry Mann, have a friendship with King that dates to the early 1960s, during their time writing songs inside Broadway's famed Brill Building. Weil's songs — she penned the lyrics, her husband the music — include You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling, On Broadway and We Gotta Get Out of This Place. ...

    Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil are a husband and wife songwriting team.
  4. Pot Roast Spud?! Three restaurant chains look to conquer Tampa Bay


    One has a "secret menu" and a beef-and-marinara monster sandwich called "the Godfather." Another makes pretty pizzas with spicy twists. And another is a breakfast joint that serves an omelette called "the Bacquezo" (bacon, chorizo, cream cheese).

    Several restaurant chains are about to attempt a Tampa Bay takeover, including Deep South staples McAlister's Deli and Newk's Eatery, both considered "fast casual," (an unsnobby way to say quick, inexpensive but nicer than McDonald's) and Another Broken Egg Cafe (somewhere between a Denny's and a First Watch)....

  5. In John Hopkins sex assault case, school's handling in question


    ST. PETERSBURG — It was almost too heavy for her to carry, but she fell for the saxophone all the same, practicing in the band room at John Hopkins Middle School. She named her instrument "Reed." It made her feel calm. She would come in an hour early to play. She would stay long after the last bell.

    Then one recent Monday, the 12-year-old girl hurried out of school. She was pale. Her face was drawn....

    A 12-year-old girl who withdrew from John Hopkins Middle School after she says she was sexually assaulted in the band room poses for a portrait with her saxophone in her home.  
  6. For women in the Pinellas County Jail, the Red Tent room offers tears, growth, hope

    Human Interest

    Editor's note: The four-hour Red Tent Project session was recorded. The women's words have been edited for length and clarity.


    Two afternoons a week, after lunch, before laundry duty, a dozen women at the Pinellas County Jail leave their pods and thread down a long, dark corridor — through 10 locked doors, past a guard station, into a space they call the Red Tent Room....

    From left, Pinellas County Jail inmates Candi Cales, Rosalee Baker, Karen Fleming, Shirley Parker and Traci Johnson work on crafts and listen to others at a Red Tent Project meeting. Cales, 34, is in for possession of clonazepam, a drug used to prevent seizures and panic attacks. “I was a toddler teacher, and I have three kids that I lost my rights to,” she says. “I’m just here to do my time and try to get them back.” Cales says she started attending Red Tent Project meetings to try to better herself and because she loves crafts.
  7. Dunedin woman waits, wonders why Social Security is denied


    DUNEDIN — Gabriela Pezzuti remembers sitting on the balcony of her family's Havana apartment as a child and looking up at the clouds.

    It is one of her few memories of her birthplace, Cuba. She moved to the United States at age 6.

    For the past 60 years, Pezzuti considered herself American: she had Social Security and voter's registration cards. She got a driver's license when she was a teenager. She paid income taxes. Her tax returns show Social Security taxes have been withdrawn from her earnings....

    Gabriela Pezzuti, 65, left, visits with her daughter, Nina Womack, 22, of Dunedin, at Womack's home in Dunedin. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  8. St. Pete sees demolitions as key to better neighborhoods

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Years after a housing bust and crippling recession, the city has started to aggressively demolish the detritus of that era, knocking down vacant, decrepit homes that have become magnets for crime, vagrants and pests.

    Across St. Petersburg in 2014, the city demolished 100 homes, a 28 percent increase over the 78 demolitions completed in the last year of former mayor Bill Foster's term....

  9. Top things to do for Jan. 31


    Gasparilla Pirate Fest Invasion: Join thousands lining the downtown waterfront around 11:30 a.m. to watch the spectacle as fully-rigged pirate ship Jose Gasparilla sails in. The ship docks and the mayor surrenders the key to the city at about 1 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. Then the marauding buccaneers celebrate their successful invasion with a street festival featuring pre and post parade music starting at 10 a.m., Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. Then the serious business of the day: Tossing thousands of beads to hundreds of thousands of people. The 2015 grand marshals are U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major James C. Faris and actor and TV show host Mario Lopez. The parade steps off at 2 p.m. from Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa. All events are free, $45 reserved parade seating. (813) 251-3378....

    Gasparilla Parade.  Susan Welsh of Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O'Malley yells to the crowds along Bayshore Boulevard during the Parade of Pirates Saturday (2/7/2004).
  10. St. Petersburg police warn of 'alarming spike' in car thefts and burglaries

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — Car thefts and burglaries have risen dramatically across the city in the last two years and for the most part, police say, kids are behind it.

    In 2014, St. Petersburg police documented 1,418 auto thefts or burglaries, up from 876 in 2012. Officers made 600 arrests for the crimes last year, said Major Paul McWade, including 74 in December alone. Adults are usually the culprits in auto burglaries, he said, but when a car is stolen, 97 percent of the time a juvenile is behind it. In almost all cases, stolen or burglarized cars were left unlocked....

  11. New methodology helps boost Florida consumer confidence index

    Personal Finance

    Florida consumer confidence rose sharply in January, but researchers attributed much of the climb to changes in how survey data was collected.

    The University of Florida report released Friday, which showed confidence rising 6 points to 93.3, was based for the first time ever on a cell phone survey.

    Since the survey began in 1985, researchers had used landlines to contact Floridians, a practice kept in place as cell phones rose in popularity "to maintain an index that reflects changes in consumer attitudes rather than changes in method," said survey director Chris McCarty....

  12. As measles spreads, concern over unvaccinated children does, too


    TAMPA — If parents refuse to vaccinate their children, Dr. Marcy Solomon Baker politely asks them to find a new pediatrician. She doesn't want their children sitting in the waiting room and putting others at risk.

    Amid the recent measles outbreak, Baker, who works for BayCare Medical Group, has been hearing from parents who want reassurance that policy is still in place.

    " 'You guys don't see unvaccinated kids, right?' " she said, recalling a typical conversation....

  13. Funding for St. Petersburg's proposed new police headquarters mostly comes from other projects

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman's proposed deal to build a new police headquarters by redirecting $20 million in Penny for Pinellas money will make significant changes to the Penny spending plan, but nonetheless, the administration says it won't mean dramatic cuts in other city projects.

    The reason? City officials say the agreement to build the $70 million facility largely shifts money around and takes advantage of removing from the Penny spending list some projects already completed with other government funds....

    The St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters building at the intersection of First Avenue N and 13th Street. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times (2011)]
  14. 'Aye do' — Tampa couple to wed before Gasparilla Parade

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For one Tampa couple, the 100th Gasparilla Pirate Fest will mark more than just a day of merriment.

    John Mark Wallace, 59, and Jamie Labrecque, 52, will say "I do" Saturday morning outside the Academy of the Holy Names before boarding a parade float as newlyweds. And their ceremony will feature pirates a' plenty.

    Nearly 300 people are expected to attend the bash off Bayshore Boulevard....

    Valorie Jackson, left, and Elaine Privette, right, talk over Saturday's wedding plans with Jamie LaBrecque the bride-to-be on the day of Gasparilla Pirates Festival at Love's Artifacts Bar and Grill on 4914 S MacDill Avenue in Tampa on Thursday, January 29, 2015. Mark Wallace Wallace a member of Krewe of Rogues and Jamie LaBrecque a member of Krewe Les Belles Femmes will exchange vows before the start of the Gasparilla Pirates Festival near the Academy of Holy Names on Bayshore and MacDill Avenue.
  15. Tampa high school girls arrested in knife fight over boy


    TAMPA — Two female students were injured Friday morning at King High School in what school officials believe was a fight over a boy.

    The fight, which broke out at 7:35 a.m. just before the first bell, pitted two 10th grade girls against two 11th grade girls, Hillsborough County schools spokesman Steve Hegarty said. One of the 10th graders had a folding 2-inch knife, and cut both the 11th graders....