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  1. 40 years in the making, new section of Tampa’s Riverwalk opens today


    Tampa’s newest section of the Riverwalk doesn’t officially open until 5 p.m. today, but who could blame René Girven for going by early for a sneak peek?

    “I live in the Element, and I’ve been watching this project since its inception,” said Girven, 47, a regular walker and biker in downtown. Kept out by a single strand of yellow caution tape, she was tempted by the idea of a quick, unauthorized stroll....

    The newest section of Tampa’s Riverwalk, going north under the Kennedy Boulevard bridge and ending at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, officially opens today at 5 p.m. Its whale-ribbed frames hold up large fabric awnings to shade passing walkers.
  2. Friday's sports on TV/radio

    TV and Radio


    Arena Football
    Cleveland at Tampa Bay7:30 p.m.620-AM
    Trucks: Kroger 250 practice10 a.m.FS1
    Sprint Cup: STP 500 practicenoonFS1
    Sprint Cup: STP 500 qualifying4:30 p.m.FS1
    F1: Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying 5 a.m. (Saturday)NBCSN
    Baseball, spring training
    Red Sox at Braves1 p.m.ESPN
    Diamondbacks at Angels4 p.m.MLB
    Mariners at Royals9 p.m.MLB
    College baseball
    Cincinnati at USF6:30 p.m.1010-AM
    Mississippi at Arkansas7 p.m.SEC
    Southern Miss at Rice7 p.m.FS2
    College basketball, NCAA Tournament
    South Region semifinal: UCLA vs. Gonzaga7:15 p.m.Ch. 10; 1040-AM
    East Region semifinal: N.C. State vs. Louisville7:35 p.m.TBS
    South Region semifinal: Utah vs. Duke9:45 p.m.Ch. 10; 1040-AM
    East Region semifinal: Michigan State vs. Oklahoma10:05 p.m.TBS
    College basketball, Women's NCAA
    Greensboro Region semifinal: North Carolina vs. South Carolina7 p.m.ESPN
    Oklahoma City Region semifinal: Iowa vs. Baylor7:30 p.m.ESPN2
    Greensboro Region semifinal: Florida State vs. Arizona State9:30 p.m.ESPN2
    Oklahoma City Region semifinal: Stanford vs. Notre Dame10 p.m.ESPN
    College basketball
    Division II women's final: California (Pa.) vs. California Baptist8 p.m.CBSSN
    College hockey, Division I tournament
    Yale vs. Boston U2 p.m.ESPNU
    Minnesota vs. Minnesota-Duluth5:30 p.m.ESPNU
    Quinnipiac at North Dakota8 p.m.ESPNU
    PGA Europe: Hassan Trophy7 a.m.Golf
    Champions: Mississippi Gulf Resort ClassicnoonGolf
    PGA: Valero Texas Open3 p.m.Golf
    LPGA: Kia Classic6 p.m.Golf
    Pistons at Magic7 p.m.FSF
    Trail Blazers at Suns10 p.m.NBA
    Euro qualifier: Ukraine at Spain3:30 p.m.ESPN2, ESPND
    Euro qualifier: England vs. Lithuania3:30 p.m.FS2
    Euro qualifier: Russia at Montenegro (taped)5:45 p.m.ESPND
    Miami Open7 p.m.Tennis

  3. Armed robbery at Tampa food mart sends one victim to hospital


    TAMPA — Police were investigating an armed robbery Thursday night at a Food Mart on Nebraska Avenue that sent one victim to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition.

    Police responded to a call at the Nebraska Food Mart, 7508 N Nebraska Ave., at 9:50 p.m. and found an elderly man facedown in the parking lot.

    Lt. Michael Stout said three men, two of them armed and wearing masks, walked into the store and found a clerk mopping the floor. One suspect pistol-whipped the clerk, Stout said. Together, the suspects emptied out three registers before fleeing. ...

  4. Lightning falls to Predators

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning felt it probably deserved a better fate in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Predators.

    "Let's not kid ourselves. We played a good team, and we thought we were the better team," captain Steven Stamkos said.

    For the most part, Tampa Bay was, holding the 100-point Predators to 19 shots. The Lightning had the puck for what coach Jon Cooper estimated was three-quarters of the game. It killed off five power plays, including a double minor....

    Lightning defenseman Matt Carle (25), left, and center Brian Boyle, on the ice, battle for the puck during the second period, during which the Lightning pulls within 3-2.
  5. Cedric Paquette returns for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — C Cedric Paquette returned to the lineup Thursday, convinced the upper-body injury that has bothered him since February — and had sidelined him the previous six games — is behind him.

    "I'm ready to go," Paquette said.

    And, for at least one day, C Vladislav Namestnikov stayed with Tampa Bay, though coach Jon Cooper said that could change today. Namestnikov, on an emergency recall, has to be returned to AHL Syracuse or he'll be the third of four allotted post-trade-deadline callups. But with LW Brenden Morrow day to day with an upper-body injury, Namestnikov remained, playing in the 3-2 loss to the Predators and scoring....

    Lightning center Cedric Paquette celebrates the first-period goal of Vladislav Namestnikov (not pictured) against the Predators.
  6. Loretta Lynch attends investiture of top federal prosecutor in Tampa


    TAMPA — Lee Bentley has been on the job for 21 months as the region's top federal prosecutor and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December, but Thursday delivered the fanfare.

    U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch attended Bentley's ceremonial investiture as U.S. attorney for Florida's Middle District. It was an occasion marked by moments solemn and jovial.

    Lynch didn't speak publicly but sat beside Bentley and his family in a room packed with judges, lawyers, law enforcement agents, and local dignitaries. ...

    Lee Bentley, newly sworn in as U.S. attorney general for the Middle District of Florida, hugs attorney Andra Dreyfus during his investiture ceremony at the Federal Courthouse in Tampa on Thursday. Bentley succeeded Robert E. O’Neill.
  7. Shooting guard Shawn Smith transfers to USF


    TAMPA — A day after confirming the departure of point guard Anthony Collins and low-post reserve Dre Clayton, USF announced Thursday that well-traveled shooting guard Shawn Smith transferred into the program.

    A Jacksonville native, Smith (6 feet 4, 205 pounds) spent the 2013-14 season at Texas A&M before transferring to Lee College, averaging 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the junior college program on Houston's outskirts. He can play right away for the Bulls and will have two years of eligibility remaining....

  8. 2015 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg field

    Auto racing

    Marco Andretti

    No. 27 Honda

    Andretti Autosport

    Age: 28 Hometown: Nazareth, Pa.

    Notable: His runnerup finish last season at Birmingham was the closest he got to ending a victory drought dating to 2011, and he was ninth in points. He led 20 laps in last year's Indianapolis 500 before finishing third.

    Sebastien Bourdais

    No. 11 Chevrolet...

  9. Thousands in Pinellas County lose power Thursday

    Human Interest

    More than 4,000 Duke Energy customers in the East Lake area lost power Thursday evening, according to the utility's online outage map.

    Outages were reported just before 8 p.m., according to the site, and Duke Energy expected to reestablish power about 10 p.m. in some areas and 11:30 p.m. in others.

    A reason for the outages was not provided, though the company said outages are most commonly caused by adverse weather, trees, animals, equipment failure or vehicle accidents....

  10. Arnett Doctor, driving force behind Rosewood reparations, dies at 72


    SPRING HILL — A lot of factors contributed to the passage of the historic Rosewood compensation law 21 years ago.

    Witnesses were still alive to share their harrowing accounts of the racially motivated 1923 massacre that left at least six black and two white residents dead. High-powered lawyers got behind the bill. They produced crucial evidence of the loss of property, as well as lives....

    Arnett Doctor, a descendent of people involved in the Rosewood attacks that left six black people and two white people dead, helped win $2.1 million for Rosewood survivors.
  11. Fancy footwork, Rockettes style

    Human Interest

    EVE EDELHEIT | Times

    Kristi Opheim, a junior at Viera High School in Melbourne, dances during the Rockettes workshop at the Florida State Thespian Festival at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa on Thursday. Students from around the state attended the festival, which is in its 25th year. The festival runs through Sunday.

    11th grader Kristi Opheim of Viera High School in Melbourne, dances during the Rockettes workshop during the Florida State Thespian Festival 2015 at the the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa on Thursday, March 26, 2015. This is the 25th year of the festival, in which students come from around the state to participate. The festival will go through Sunday.
  12. Rays: Cash catches up

    The Heater

    Still has it

    It has been fewer than five years since Rays manager Kevin Cash played in the majors, so it shouldn't be surprising that Cash (left) squatted behind home plate to warm up reliever Kirby Yates before the ninth inning of Thursday's game against the Yankees. "I was really good at that, warming up pitchers," joked Cash, 37, a catcher for all but five of his 246 major-league games from 2002-10. "It's the other things I wasn't good at."...

  13. Tampa City Council says goodbye to Mary Mulhern


    TAMPA — The Tampa City Council said goodbye Thursday to two-term member Mary Mulhern, known for her liberal politics, independent streak and readiness to speak her mind.

    Since winning a seat against a veteran council member who raised more than four times as much money, Mulhern, 56, has championed the arts and environment, opposed the purchase of downtown surveillance cameras and questioned what she described as the militarization of police ahead of the Republican National Convention. She also opposed bans on panhandling that did not address the underlying problems of poverty and homelessness....

    “It’s not an easy job, but it’s been an incredible learning experience for me.” 
Mary Mulhern, 
on her two terms on Tampa City Council
  14. Woman in critical condition after fire in St. Petersburg town home


    ST. PETERSBURG — A 63-year-old woman found unresponsive inside a burning town home was rushed to the hospital and remained in critical condition Thursday evening, authorities said.

    St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue crews found smoke pouring from the front door when they arrived just before 7 p.m. at the two-story residential town home at 5822 16th Lane S.

    They found the woman on the second floor, where she had been overcome by smoke, said Lt. Steve Lawrence, Deputy Fire Marshal. She had no burn wounds, he said, and was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. ...

  15. The Villages again leads nation as fastest-growing metro area


    For the second year in a row, the Villages in Central Florida is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday.

    The popular retirement mecca grew at a 5.4 percent clip between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, to reach a population of about 114,000.

    The Villages, a community located about 50 miles northwest of Orlando, is known for its golf carts, which are used almost as much as cars, and for the sometimes frisky behavior of its 55-and-older residents. ...

    Residents of the Villages gather at City Fire American Oven and Bar. The thriving retirement community was joined in the top 20 fastest-growing U.S. metro areas by five other Florida metros as the Sunshine State became the third most populated.