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  1. Rays-Blue Jays preview

    The Heater

  2. Bay area's elite high school football programs reunite

    Footballpreps

    Every year when the time for scheduling a preseason game approaches, Plant High football coach Robert Weiner calls around the state looking for the best opponent for his four-time state champion Panthers.

    Last year, it was Godby, the Tallahassee tank of a team that handed Plant a 19-point loss. In 2011, the Panthers took on Miami Columbus, an eventual Class 8A state semifinalist.

    But while at a February event for high school coaches at USF with Armwood coach Sean Callahan, Weiner suddenly realized he didn't have to search far and wide this time for the best matchup in Florida. ...

    Mazzi Wilkins can’t get to the extra point of Armwood’s Nick Feely in overtime. Reeves Rogers did to give Plant a 20-19 win.
  3. Outdoors news and notes

    Outdoors

    Fishing

    State agency seeks anglers to catch tarpon

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's tarpon genetic recapture program needs anglers who fish Florida's northern counties. The information gathered by fishermen helps scientists learn more about the fish's history.

    Anglers supply the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute with DNA "fingerprint" data from tarpon then release them so they can be caught another day. Much work has been done in Southwest Florida, but researchers need DNA samples from fish larger than 30 inches hooked in northeast and northwest Florida....

  4. St. Pete officials gearing up for film festival expected to draw 20,000 visitors

    Tourism

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not Cannes or Sundance or even the Bollywood awards.

    But city and business leaders are gearing up for a little-known film festival that is expected to draw 20,000 people to St. Petersburg in November, highlighting the city's tourism and marine science industries.

    That's almost as many as the 24,000 visitors drawn to Tampa in April for the much ballyhooed International Indian Film Academy Awards show....

  5. Long leg of the law

    Human Interest

    MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

    Alma Herrera Edwards King, 7, and her sister Jamila Herrera Edwards King, 10, paused their bicycle ride to ask if they could pet St. Petersburg police horses Thursday evening on the Pinellas Trail. They were riding with their father, Curtis King of St. Pete Beach. Officers Ron Try, left, atop Brooklyn, and Julie Bryan, with Jacob, said yes, and chatted with the girls while telling them how to pet the 1,400-pound horses. The St. Petersburg Police Department has started patrolling problematic portions of the Pinellas Trail on horseback....

    Alma Herrera Edwards King, 7, left, and her big sister Jamila Herrera Edwards King, 10, right, stopped their bicycles to ask if they could pet the horses while out for a ride on the Pinellas Trail Thursday evening with their dad Curtis King of St. Pete Beach (not pictured). Officers Ron Try, left, atop Brooklyn, and Officer Julie Bryan, right, atop Jacob said yes, and chatted with the girls while instructing them how to pet the 1,400-lb. horses. The St. Petersburg Police Department has started patrolling problematic portions of the Pinellas Trail on horseback.
  6. Jury can't reach verdict in case of man charged with burning girlfriend to death

    Criminal

    LARGO — A judge declared a mistrial in a first-degree murder case Wednesday evening after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on whether a 41-year-old Pinellas man killed his girlfriend in 2010 by lighting her on fire.

    Jeffrey Robert Grant was facing life in prison in connection with the death of Jennifer Guthrie, who was doused with gasoline and set ablaze behind what was formerly Wachovia Bank, 14147 Walsingham Road, where she and Grant had been sleeping. Both were homeless. ...

  7. Cute panther kitten has a new home to roam (w/video)

    News

    JIM DAMASKE | Times

    Yuma, a Florida panther cub, explores his new enclosure at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park on Thursday. The young panther will live out his days at the park after being rescued in January from the wild near Naples when he was about 1 week old. He had been abandoned. The park held a ceremony Thursday morning with speeches explaining Yuma's circumstances, which were followed by a brief countdown for the opening of a gate allowing Yuma to enter his new enclosure. The Florida panther is an endangered subspecies of cougar that lives in forests and swamps of South Florida. For a video report, go to tampabay.com/video....

    Yuma, a Florida panther cub, explores his new enclosure at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park on Thursday. The young panther will live out his days at the park after being rescued in January from the wild near Naples when he was about 1 week old. He had been abandoned. The park held a ceremony Thursday morning with speeches explaining Yuma’s circumstances, which were followed by a brief countdown for the opening of a gate allowing Yuma to enter his new enclosure. The state animal, the Florida panther is an endangered subspecies of cougar that lives in the forests and swamps of South Florida.
  8. Housing for homeless teens given preliminary nod by City Council

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A 55-bed dormitory and service center for homeless teens gained preliminary approval from the City Council on Thursday after a few initial bumps.

    Starting Right, Now, a Tampa-based nonprofit, was close to inking a deal with the Pinellas County School District to occupy the vacant Harris TIP school, 4600 Haines Road, when council member Darden Rice this month asked for a delay in zoning changes....

  9. New bus pass program launched for SPC students and employees

    Mass Transit

    ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg College and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority formally launched their new collaborative Universal Pass initiative Thursday, which allows SPC students and employees to ride the bus for free by simply flashing their school ID when they climb aboard.

    The college will pay PSTA $75,000 from student activity fees to provide free bus rides to their 45,000 students and 3,900 employees for the next year. ...

  10. Military says about 70 percent of troops' vehicles being shipped will be late

    Military

    The company hired to deliver the personal vehicles of troops and civilian defense workers around the world has successfully transported just 7,987 of the 27,358 vehicles it is shipping, and 70 percent of those still in transit will arrive late, according to an email by military officials released this week.

    The figures show that an additional 2,250 vehicles are awaiting pickup by their owners. But many have complained that International Auto Logistics of Brunswick, Ga., does not notify them when vehicles arrive at processing centers....

  11. Kiermaier catch saves Rays' day

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After committing fielding miscues in each of the past two games, RF Kevin Kiermaier needed a play like the dive he made Thursday to help save the Rays' win.

    "He's got to keep playing that way," 3B Evan Longoria said.

    Kiermaier entered the game in the eighth as a defensive replacement. With Andrew Romine on second, Rajai Davis hit a one-out fly ball to shallow rightfield. Kiermaier briefly lost it in the lights and made an instinctive decision to dive headfirst for it....

    Rays right fielder Kevin Kiermaier makes a sliding catch on a fly to right by the Detroit Tigers' Rajai Davis in the eighth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  12. Avoiding the HPV vaccine for your kids? Maybe it's time to reconsider

    Health

    If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you might be wrestling with a big question: Whether to get your child the HPV vaccine.

    Unlike other vaccines, this one isn't a requirement to go to school, and a lot of Florida parents are declining it. In fact, we have the second-worst HPV vaccination rate in the nation. Just a quarter of girls ages 13 to 17 (and even fewer boys) have received all three doses of the vaccination needed to protect against the human papillomavirus. ...

  13. Paratrooper from Ruskin killed in Afghanistan

    Military

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. — An Army paratrooper from Ruskin has been killed in action in Afghanistan as the United States continues to wind down its presence there, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

    Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett died the prior day. The 39-year-old from Ruskin was assigned to the headquarters battalion of the 18th Airborne Corps. He died of injuries sustained while engaged against enemy forces, according to a Department of Defense news release....

  14. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Hyundai Sonata

    Autos

    When Hyundai came out with the sixth-generation Sonata, it was a wakeup call for midsize sedans and other manufacturers' mundane styling. With its "Fluidic Sculpture" design, the Sonata dared to be different. Now for the new generation Sonata, Hyundai — for better or for worse — has reined in those sculptural flourishes.

    Appearance: Overall, the 2015 Sonata is longer and wider. In fact, it's now classified as a large sedan. Lyra sees the new design as a natural progression to a more mature look. Peter thinks it now looks like most of its competitors — generic. Still, he will admit that the sloping, coupelike roofline, especially with our tester's panoramic sunroof, is a winning design. But he doesn't care for the wider, more stately grille that now wears its Hyundai badge on an unattractive black insert. Some nicer touches on our Limited tester: an integrated spoiler on the rear decklid, dual chrome exhaust tips and LED running lights and taillights....

    The rear side windows have manual window shades to reduce the sun’s glare.
  15. San Antonio plans lawsuit against St. Leo in warehouse dispute

    Local Government

    SAN ANTONIO — The city plans to sue the adjacent town of St. Leo for its approval of a university's plan to build a warehouse along a residential street.

    San Antonio commissioners voted Tuesday to have their lawyer Brian Bolves draft a lawsuit against the town on the grounds that the approval violates St. Leo's comprehensive land-use plan and land development code. The suit also contends that building the warehouse would create a potentially dangerous situation on Pompanic Street, a narrow road whose center line serves as the border between St. Leo and San Antonio....