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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

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Pasco County: 727-869-6235

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

E-mail: local@tampabay.com

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  1. Special election today in Tampa City Council District 7

    Elections

    TAMPA — Polls open at 7 a.m. today for a special Tampa City Council election in northern Tampa and New Tampa.

    The race is a runoff in council District 7, where the seat came open after Lisa Montelione resigned mid-term to run for the Florida House of Representatives.

    Emergency room doctor Jim Davison and attorney Luis Viera emerged from a field of six candidates — including a former police officer, a retired teacher, a journalist and another doctor — on Nov. 8....

    Jim Davison is a candidate for Tampa City Council District 7.
  2. A theme park Christmas: Busch Gardens, Universal, Disney and more get festive for the holidays

    Blog

    The first few weeks in December are just about the best times to visit Florida's many theme parks to enjoy the holiday lights, shows and Christmas characters.
    The weather is mild and the crowds are much lighter than, say, the week of Christmas, when tourists and relatives flock to the Sunshine State.
    Even though you won't have to worry about snow flurries or icy roads, the parks are still cheerfully bedecked for the holidays.
    We checked out attractions around Tampa Bay and beyond that offer holiday festivities, from Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
    Here's what to expect if you go....

    This year's ICE theme is A Charlie Brown Christmas.
  3. Cuts in Hillsborough school busing will be discussed at today's School Board meeting

    K12

    TAMPA — The planned cutback on courtesy busing will get a public discussion Tuesday at the 3 p.m. Hillsborough County School Board meeting.

    As of midday Monday, members Melissa Snively, April Griffin, Tamara Shamburger and chairwoman Cindy Stuart had flagged the transportation item for comment.

    To save money, the district plans to phase out busing for nearly 7,500 middle and high school students who live within two miles of their schools. Such service, known as "courtesy busing," does not get dedicated transportation funding from the state, meaning the millions of dollars spent could be used in the classrooms instead....

    Students unload from buses at Lennard High School in Ruskin. Lennard has 183 students who receive courtesy bus rides, which are being phased out next year by Hillsborough County school officials to save money. [LOREN ELLIOTT  | Times]
  4. Housing groups fear Ben Carson will reverse efforts to improve low-income housing

    News

    TAMPA — The choice of a Palm Beach neurosurgeon with no political experience to oversee an agency responsible for providing homes for more than five million of the nation's poorest residents has alarmed some public housing advocacy groups.

    President-elect Donald Trump on Monday announced Ben Carson as his nomination for secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The former Republican presidential candidate, who lived in public housing during part of his childhood, has never held office. He has said helping the poor is not the job of government....

    GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development has worried some public housing advocacy groups.Carson has never held office and has no experience in housing administration or urban renewal.
  5. Even after summer storms, dry November raises wildfire concerns

    Weather

    If the start of Florida's dry season has seemed even drier than normal, it's not because your rain gauge is out of whack.

    Just one-tenth of an inch of rain fell at Tampa International Airport last month, making it the second-driest November on record, according to the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

    St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport saw only three-tenths of an inch, third-driest in the record books. And Tarpon Springs, where not even a trace amount of rain fell, saw its driest 11th month since record-keeping began there in 1892....

    Heavy rainfall from Hurricane Hermine, which caused flooding in Pasco County in September, seems like a distant memory two months later, after one of the driest Novembers on record.
  6. The Daystarter: A rainy day; Obama visits MacDill in Tampa, a plot twist in St. Petersburg's sewage sage; and backlash over Carson's appointment

    News

    • Rain is expected Tuesday with a chance for storms, as highs reach the mid-to-upper 70s, according to 10Weather WTSP.

    10News WTSP...

    In September, signs were posted warning beachgoers not to enter the water because St. Petersburg had released tens of millions of gallons of sewage. A state official who helped investigate St. Petersburg's sewage crisis has interviewed for a city job in the department that oversees the sewer system. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  7. Hernando Events for Dec. 9-15

    Events

    Events

    9 Friday

    VITA training classes: The United Way of Hernando County's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program will provide free training for those interested in volunteering for the 2017 tax season. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pasco-Hernando State College Spring Hill Campus, 450 Beverly Court, Spring Hill. (352) 688-2026.

    Eckerd Kids Family Fest: The event is a fundraiser to support needy families and Eckerd Youth Challenge. It includes free food and activities. 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Free. Family Chiropractic Health Center, 13315 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville. (352) 777-3633....

  8. Four-stop Tour de Clay offers visitors an up-close look at artists at work

    Visual Arts

    SAN ANTONIO — On any given work day, the genesis from a blob of clay to something from which one can eat or drink commences with a swirling potter's wheel and a fair amount of elbow work.

    For 44 years, Jack Boyle has carved a living this way, the last 40 in a studio and shop housed in a brick building on Curley Street. There, he builds, glazes and fires functional and decorative pieces that adorn the wooden shelves....

  9. Pasco Events for Dec. 9-15

    Events

    9 Friday

    Holiday craft fair: Local artists and vendors will sell an array of items, including jewelry, designer handbags, homemade decorative items and edibles. There will be a $3 lunch available, which includes a hotdog, drink and chips; proceeds will benefit the local Alzheimer's Association. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free. Rosecastle of Zephyrhills, 37411 Eiland Blvd., Zephyrhills. (813) 783-8100....

  10. High school scoreboard for Dec. 5

    Preps

    Monday's scoreboard

    Boys soccer

    Clearwater 4, Dixie Hollins 1

    Girls soccer

    Largo 8, Keswick Chr. 0

    Countryside 2, St. Petersburg 1

    Northeast 5, Pinellas Park 2

    Dixie Hollins 4, Clearwater 0

    Boys basketball

    Canterbury 56, Universal Academy 54

    Girls basketball

    Lakewood 65, Boca Ciega 24

    IMG 67, Calvary Chr. 51...

  11. Tuesday's sports on TV/radio

    TV and Radio

    TODAY

    College basketball
    Purdue vs. Arizona State7 p.m.ESPN
    Villanova at La Salle7 p.m.ESPN2
    Youngstown St. at Michigan St.7 p.m.ESPNU
    East Carolina at Virginia7 p.m.Fox Sun
    Houston at Arkansas7 p.m.SEC
    California vs. Princeton7 p.m.FS1
    Brown at Providence7 p.m.FS2
    Fresno State at Marquette7:30 p.m.CBSSN
    NJIT at Minnesota8 p.m.Big Ten
    IU-Fort Wayne at Notre Dame9 p.m.ESPNU
    Texas at Michigan9 p.m.ESPN2
    Florida vs. Duke9 p.m.ESPN 620-AM
    Lamar at DePaul9 p.m.Fox Sun
    Hawaii vs. Seton Hall9:30 p.m.FS1
    NBA
    Magic at Wizards7 p.m.FSF
    Spurs at Timberwolves8 p.m.NBA
    Soccer
    UEFA Champions League: Atletico Madrid at Bayern Munich2:30 p.m.ESPN2, ESPND
    UEFA Champions League: Arsenal at Basel2:30 p.m.FSF
    UEFA Champions League: Celtic at Manchester City2:30 p.m.FS1
    UEFA Champions League: Borussia Monchengladbach at FC Barcelona2:30 p.m.FS2
    UEFA Champions League: Arsenal at Basel (taped)4:45 p.m.ESPND
    ...

  12. Jameis Winston's unique style has galvanized Bucs

    Bucs

    "There are those with immense talent and others with great passion. And then there are those who galvanize an entire organization. @jaboowins" — Tweet from Bucs director of player development Duke Preston.

    TAMPA — Sure, sometimes it looks as if he has anvils for feet. He has thrown only six touchdowns and three interceptions in the past four weeks. And you wondered at times if anything could wipe off that cantaloupe grin. But when the season was about to fall like a bad souffle, Jameis Winston knew exactly what to do and what to say to pump belief back into the Buccaneers....

    Second-year quarterback Jameis Winston, center, flanked by receiver Mike Evans and coach Dirk Koetter, seems to have developed a knack for inspiring his teammates.
  13. Shorts, Humphries injuries leave Bucs dangerously thin at receiver

    Bucs

    TAMPA — With Cecil Shorts done for the year with a major knee injury and Adam Humphries in concussion protocol, the Bucs are again scrambling to replenish an already depleted group of receivers as they go for their fifth straight win Sunday at home against the Saints.

    "We're concerned. We finished the game with three wide receivers," coach Dirk Koetter said of Sunday's 28-21 win at San Diego. "I think we'll be okay."...

    Bucs wide receiver Cecil Shorts is carted off the field after sustaining a season-ending knee injury Sunday against the Chargers.
  14. Waiting out market could work out for Rays in pursuit of a bat

    The Heater

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Another option came off the board — well, the computer screens — for the Rays on Monday as Steve Pearce decided against a comfortable return to Tampa Bay to take $12.5 million over two years from the Blue Jays.

    While that may be a loss — though how big may be based on how quickly and effectively Pearce recovers from elbow surgery — it is not defeat for the Rays....

    Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista holds a bat during practice in Cleveland, the site of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series .[Associated Press]
  15. Valrico man killed in crash with semi while driving tractor

    Accidents

    WIMAUMA

    A Valrico man was killed Monday when he was struck by a semitrailer truck while riding his farm tractor.

    James B. Simmons, 84, was driving his tractor on State Road 674, east of Owens Lake Road, partially in a westbound travel lane and partially in the shoulder of the road, when the accident occurred around 3 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

    Tommy Mars, 57, of Lake Alfred was driving his semi west on SR 674 and failed to see Simmons on his tractor. The front of Mars' truck struck the back of the tractor, killing Simmons. ...