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  1. Stamkos marks one year as Lightning captain

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA —- The Lightning had just finished a lackluster second period Thursday, and Steven Stamkos wasn't happy.

    As he has several times this season, the 25-year-old captain made his voice heard in the locker room at intermission. Everybody listened, then pulled out a 4-2 win over Toronto.

    "He let us know we're a better team, we've got to compete harder, win battles," said veteran wing Brenden Morrow, 36, a former Stars captain. "If (speaking up) wasn't something he was comfortable with before, you wouldn't be able to tell now. It's not fake or made up; it's coming from the heart....

  2. Florida-Kentucky basketball preview



    Florida at Kentucky

    When/where: 2; Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

    TV/radio: Ch. 10; 1250-AM

    Records: Florida 15-15, 8-9 SEC. Kentucky 30-0, 17-0.

    Notable: The Gators are the last thing standing between Kentucky becoming the second team to go 18-0 in SEC play. Florida achieved that feat last season. … Florida G Michael Frazier, who has missed six games with a high ankle sprain, is available to play, but how much and how effective he'll be is uncertain. … The Gators have never won a regular-season game against a No. 1 team. … The Gators and Wildcats are the only teams in the league allowing fewer than 60 points per game. … Four Kentucky players average double figures....

  3. FSU-Pittsburgh basketball preview



    Florida State vs. Pittsburgh

    When/where: Noon; Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee.

    TV/radio: ESPN2; 1040-AM

    Records: Florida State 15-7, 7-10 ACC; Pittsburgh 19-12, 8-9.

    Notable: Pitt is playing in Tallahassee for the first time as a member of the ACC. The Panthers defeated FSU in their first meeting this season at Pitt. … The Panthers seek a 14th consecutive season with at least 20 wins. … The Seminoles have won eight consecutive regular-season home finales dating to 2006. … Kiel Turpin will be honored as FSU's only graduating player on Senior Day. He is tied for 21st with 61 career blocks and 24th in field-goal percentage (52.5). … Last week FSU's Xavier Rathan-Mayes averaged 23.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in two games....

  4. USF Board of Governors approves land purchase from Poynter Institute

    Real Estate

    The USF Board of Governors voted Thursday to approve spending $6.2 million to buy 3.7 acres of vacant land in St. Petersburg from the Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times. The deal is still not complete, said Lara Wade, director of public affairs at the university. The vote by the board was one step forward in completing the deal. Late last year, the USF System signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Poynter to transfer the land, which is adjacent to USF St. Petersburg. The rectangular block fronts Fourth Street and adjoins the new Kate Tiedemann School of Business....

  5. USF-Tulane basketball preview



    USF vs. Tulane

    When/where: 4; Sun Dome

    TV/radio: ESPNews; 1040-AM

    Records: USF 9-21, 3-14 AAC; Tulane 14-15, 5-12

    Notable: Despite his ongoing suspension, leading scorer Corey Allen Jr. will be recognized as USF's lone senior prior to this home finale. … USF, a 56-51 overtime loser at Tulane on Jan. 11, is coming off its most inspired effort of the season. With Allen and top rebounder Chris Perry (health issue) sidelined, the Bulls held UCF to 26.4 percent shooting in Wednesday's 74-45 romp. … Freshman Troy Holston Jr., who has replaced Allen, notched his first career double double (19 points, 10 rebounds) Wednesday and is 13-for-23 from 3-point range in his last four games. … Tulane, on a five-game skid, still has a crack at the No. 7 seed in the league tournament if it wins and East Carolina loses Sunday at Houston. If Houston loses and USF wins, the Bulls snag the No. 10 seed....

  6. Tampa police unveil 60 body cameras for patrol officers

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — As Officer Cliff Griffin pulled over a white PT Cruiser Friday afternoon on Nebraska Avenue, his hand moved to the pocket on the front of his Tampa police uniform. A tone sounded as he hit a button on a battery pack underneath. From that moment, everything Griffin did was recorded through a tiny lens perched on his shoulder.

    Minutes later, he played back the recording on a laptop computer inside his car. Through a frame that bounced up and down with each of his steps, it showed Griffin walking to the car, and played back his short conversation with the driver before he sent him on his way....

  7. Pier survey's value to be determined

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For weeks, the city nudged residents to complete an online survey to choose up to three of seven pier proposals they like best.

    Hours before Friday's midnight deadline, city officials declined to say how many of St. Petersburg's 229,780 residents eligible to do so had participated in the nonbinding poll. But figures released earlier in the week indicated that only a tiny fraction had done so....

  8. Outgoing chief judge: Spate of recent murders shows need for better mental health care


    The chief judge for Pinellas and Pasco counties says he can't remember a stretch with so many brutal murders.

    "It's incredible, it really is," said Judge Thomas McGrady. "I've never seen it like this. I mean, statistically crime is down. I think statistically murders are down, but you wouldn't know it in the last few months."

    In recent months, Pasco has seen a double-murder and a triple-murder, a Tarpon Springs officer was shot and killed, an Oldsmar woman was decapitated and a 5-year-old girl was thrown off a bridge to her death near the Sunshine Skyway bridge....

    Thomas McGrady, the current chief judge of Pinellas and Pasco counties, will not run for a third term as chief judge. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  9. Authorities target kratom as herbal supplement being abused as a drug

    Public Safety

    After the recent crackdown on prescription and synthetic drugs across the state, authorities are now focusing on controlling an herb currently legal in Florida and believed to elicit the same effects of some narcotics.

    Made from the leaves of trees that grow in southeast Asia, kratom is on the radar of many agencies: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began detaining imported kratom last year and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services ordered grocery and convenience stores to stop selling the products. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also added it to its list of drugs of concern....

    An opened capsule containing Kratom.[JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  10. Consumer advocates say Duke Energy trying to collect more money


    In a filing late Thursday, consumer advocates state that Duke Energy Florida is positioning itself to collect more money from customers by seeking to change past orders regarding the canceled Levy County nuclear plant.

    Led by the state Office of Public Counsel, the advocates state in a 10-page filing with the Public Service Commission that Duke's proposal to regulators on Monday turned a simple, expected ending of charges for Levy into an attempt to "improperly" reverse millions in customer credits....

  11. Hillsborough board will hear from minorities task force on 4/21


    A task force that wants to reduce the suspension and arrests of minority students will bring its recommendations to the Hillsborough County School Board on April 21.

    While members are still discussing some of the details, the list looks like this:

    * Revisions to the code of conduct in the student handbook. The word "offenses" would be changed to "incidences." The list of zero tolerance actions would be revised, with hopes that fewer cases will be referred to law enforcement....

  12. Minor-league connection fuels big-league dream

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — Long before outfielder Joey Butler made his way to the Rays' spring training, he was a 25-year-old prospect trying to figure out a path to the major leagues as a Triple-A newcomer.

    He ended up seeking veteran advice from a teammate in Round Rock, Texas, and striking up a performance-based friendship with a former big-league catcher nearing the end of his playing career....

    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joey Butler #20 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 15, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
  13. For Billy Donovan, it's a season of wrestling with Gators


    GAINESVILLE — Billy Donovan collapsed into his seat, shook his head in disgust and clearly mouthed the word "unbelievable."

    The technical foul on sophomore guard Kasey Hill added yet another frustration to a season in retreat for the two-time national champion Florida coach who had his team in the Final Four just last year.

    This season — this team — drives Donovan batty. He has said so himself....

    Billy Donovan's Gators (15-15 ) will begin postseason play this week in the SEC tournament, and it's very possible the season will be put out of its misery. Without a .500 record, the Gators most likely wouldn't be invited to the NIT. [The Gainesville Sun]
  14. When state testing goes awry, here's how it feels to the kids


    Tampa Bay Tech freshman Jude Cineas didn't have high hopes as he sat for his state writing exam on Tuesday morning.

    New computer systems rarely work well, he reasoned.

    So as he began typing his answers, after more than an hour spent reading passages and gathering thoughts, Jude kept saving his work — just in case.

    "When I got up to the middle of my third paragraph, two students said their computers logged off, just froze," he recalled. "I clicked save and continued writing."...

    Ninth-graders at Land O’Lakes High wait to get started Wednesday on the new writing test that is part of the Florida Standards Assessments. Earlier in the week, Pasco County schools suspended testing after the system mal-functioned during its debut.
  15. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Saturday March 7


    Gasparilla Music Festival: Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park and Kiley Garden will come alive with two days of Tampa music, food and culture. This year's festival features four stages and over 40 acts. Kids get their own festival as well with a kiddie disco. It starts at 10 a.m., Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. Saturday SOLD OUT, limited tickets available for Sunday. $40-$115.

    Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival: Today marks the opening day for this all-new festival with Florida-inspired food, wine and a free concert by pop star Gavin DeGraw. 10 a.m., Busch Gardens, 3605 Bougainvillea Ave., Tampa. $95, $90 for ages 3-9. ...