Florida's aquifer needs special protection from being overpumped, the Sierra Club contends in a petition sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The club's Florida chapter has filed the petition asking the EPA to declare it a "sole source aquifer," a tool to protect drinking water supplies in areas where there are few or no alternative sources. Such a declaration, carried out only after a public hearing, would require the federal government to give it greater protection and also offer grants and other financial assistance for avoiding pollution. The aquifer, which is the primary source of water for Florida's 19 million residents, is "threatened by ...over-pumping, pollution and waste," said Tom Larson, Sierra Club Florida chapter conservation chair....
Here is a listing of public meetings scheduled for this week:
Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission, 9 a.m., commission chambers, Hernando County Government Center, 20 N Main St., Brooksville.
Hernando County Commission, 9 a.m., commission chambers, Hernando County Government Center, 20 N Main St., Brooksville....
TAMPA — For all intents and purposes, Lyft is a taxi company, and it violated Hillsborough County rules by operating without proper permits.
That's the ruling from county hearing officer Susan More, who upheld a $200 citation against the ride-sharing company issued in December.
In her ruling Monday, More said police witnessed a driver using a cell phone with Lyft software that "calculated distance and fare, which, in essence, serves as a taximeter."...
LifeSouth Community Blood Center will have blood drives at the following off-site locations during the coming week.
Today (Friday): 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunrise Plaza, 31100 Cortez Blvd., east of Brooksville.
Saturday: 9:45 a.m. to noon, Antioch Fellowship Baptist Church, 3031 Landover Blvd., Spring Hill; 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., Best Buy, 1389 Wendy Court, Spring Hill.
Sunday: 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Christ Lutheran Church, 475 North Ave. W, Brooksville; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 14107 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill; 1 to 4 p.m., Walmart, 7305 Broad St., Brooksville; 1:30 to 5 p.m., Walmart, 13300 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill....
Cribbs, Emily Ann and Scott Jacob Cribbs, Brooksville, Rosalee Evelyn Cribbs, 6 pounds 13 ounces, 3:21 p.m. April 14, 2015, at Bayfront Health Spring Hill.
Dominguez, Shawna Marie and Anthony Michael Hooks, Brooksville, Faith Ann Marie Hooks, 6 pounds 13 ounces, 4:53 a.m. April 18, 2015, at Bayfront Health Spring Hill.
05/05/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — There's a street named after Braydon Coburn in his tiny hometown of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.
It leads to the Wickenheiser Centre, a new complex with an indoor/outdoor hockey rink, plus a sheet for curling, plenty enough to entertain the tight-knit farming community of around 2,000 people. Coburn's friend Hayley Wickenheiser, whom he labels "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey," is the favorite daughter, but Braydon Coburn Drive has a good ring to it, too....
Utility giant Duke Energy bought ownership stake in the proposed Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline that will run through Florida. In a statement released Tuesday, Duke Energy announced it will invest about $225 million in the approximately 500-mile pipeline. The $3 billion pipeline will run from Alabama, across Georgia, and into Florida. The pipeline is scheduled to begin service in 2017.
Free for Moms
Moms can get in free at lots of area attractions with at lease one paid admission at the following:
• Florida Aquarium: Good for both Saturday and Sunday with one paying person. $23.95, $20.95 seniors, $18.95 ages 3-12. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 273-4000. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
• Dino World: $16.95, $14.95 seniors, $11.95 ages 3-12, 2 and younger free, 5145 Harvey Tew Road, Plant City. (813) 717-9865. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday....
Three weeks before her 20th concert tour, Bette Midler isn't feeling entirely divine. • "You don't even want to know," Midler sighed by telephone from California. "The story is much too sad to be told … I'm wearing hats to cheer myself up." • Costumes still must be fitted, rehearsals endured. Midler, 69, interrupted herself, complaining how expensive going on the road is these days: • "Wait a minute," she said, snapping to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy attention. "Are you kidding me? I've been on 20 tours? You know what? You're probably right. Oh, my God." • How does that make Midler feel? • "Like retiring," she said, laughing like that's the last thing on her mind....
05/05/15 Human Interest
TAMPA — The lunchtime crowd was sparse Tuesday for the Give Day Tampa Bay celebration at Channelside Bay Plaza. Volunteers staffing charity display tables talked among themselves. A lonely bartender dressed for Cinco de Mayo waited for customers.
But online, the party was hopping.
People, many using a new donation app, had contributed more than $1.02 million to 550 Tampa Bay area non-profits by late Tuesday afternoon, with nearly a third of the 24-hour fund-raising drive left to go. Last year, it took the whole 24 hours to raise $1.089 million....
Thomas Mothershed grew up in Tampa watching his minister father sing for the congregation. The city is full of fond family memories for him.
But he didn't know that years later, he'd be on his own stage in Tampa with the cast of Disney's Beauty and the Beast playing the role of a another famous father — Belle's bumbling but loving patriarch, Maurice.
"Maurice is a single father, trying to make the world a better place for Belle while teaching her not to conform and to love, and be herself," said Mothershed 45. "I am on stage with the girl who's playing Belle, and we have what we call 'heart moments.' It feels like I have an extended daughter."...
A Miami Beach man who cost lenders millions during a real estate flipping scheme in Hillsborough County was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years, 3 months in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The court also ordered Stephen Mayer, 51, to repay more than $3.1 million to affected lenders and forfeit $4 million.
Between 2003 and 2007, authorities said, Mayer recruited buyers with good credit to get mortgage loans and transfer the titles back to him. He then transferred properties among investors for a profit. Agents identified more than 20 homes involved in the scheme....
NEW PORT RICHEY — A suspect in a February triple homicide in Moon Lake tried to hire someone to kill a surviving victim so she couldn't testify in court, Pasco County authorities say.
Christopher Lee Duncan, 26, also tried to convince a witness to change her story, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
Duncan already was facing three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He now has been charged with solicitation to commit murder and tampering with a witness....
05/05/15 Local Government
CLEARWATER — The City of St. Petersburg's effort to transform its poverty-stricken southern neighborhoods took a major step forward Tuesday when the Pinellas County Commission gave its initial endorsement of a dramatically different approach to community redevelopment.
The commission voted 6-0 to move forward with work to finalize the Southside Community Redevelopment Plan. Though the final vote is set for next month, Tuesday's move signaled clear support for strategies that haven't been used in Pinellas before now and that could serve as a model for tackling blight and poverty in other parts of the county....
Aquatica, SeaWorld Orlando's water park, will lop off more than half its admission price for three nights in May and have extended hours to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Ihu's Breakaway Falls, its new drop-tower water slide.
The park is calling it Challenge Nights on three consecutive Fridays: this week, May 15 and May 22. Tickets are $25 (regular admission is $57), which includes parking and a picnic meal at Aquatica's Banana Beach restaurant. The water park typically closes at 5 p.m., but for Challenge Nights, visitors will have full access to the park 4 to 5 p.m., then a picnic meal with "animal ambassador" visits, and from 6:15 to 8 p.m. the park will have select rides open, including Ihu's Breakaway Falls, Whanau Way, Omaka Rocka and wave pools....