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William R. Levesque, Times Staff Writer

William R. Levesque

William R. Levesque is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience who began working at the Tampa Bay Times in 1994. He covers business news, including utilities, energy and agriculture.

Phone: (813) 226-3432


Twitter: @Times_Levesque

  1. Allegiant Air flight runs low on fuel over closed airport, makes emergency landing


    An Allegiant Air flight ran dangerously low on fuel last week as it circled an airport in North Dakota that was actually closed so the Navy's Blue Angels could practice for a forthcoming air show.

    The pilot told the tower on Thursday that he didn't have enough fuel to make it to a back-up airport, so he was forced to declare an emergency to clear airspace for a landing at Fargo's Hector International Airport, according to a recording of air traffic between the pilot and tower available on the website

    An Allegiant Air flight had to make an emergency landing in North Dakota last week when it ran low on fuel while flying to an airport that was closed. It's the latest in a number of problems with Allegiant Air, including several emergency landings at St. Pete Clearwater International Airport. This photo was taken there in June. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  2. Utilities cry foul over efforts to end energy-efficiency payments by big business


    Floridians can expect higher electric rates, Florida utilities warn, if Wal-Mart and big business win regulatory approval on something that boils down to a simple argument.

    Namely, big business knows best how to spend its money on energy efficiency, not the utilities.

    A highly technical but consequential regulatory battle opened last week at a hearing by the Florida Public Service Commission that once again puts energy efficiency on the front burner. Wal-Mart and others want the PSC to allow big business to opt out of mandatory payments for utility energy-efficiency programs they don't use if they already invest in energy conservation on their own....

  3. Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke steps down to become chief operating officer of the NFL


    TAMPA — Tod Leiweke said that hockey was his first love when Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik lured him away from the NFL's Seattle Seahawks in 2010 to come rebuild the bay area's failing hockey franchise as its new CEO.

    Now pro football has wooed Leiweke back.

    The Lightning CEO resigned Friday to take on one of the top jobs in the National Football League: chief operating officer, a position last held by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell himself in 2006....

    Tod Leiweke, left, will stay in a lesser capacity until August while president Steve Griggs takes over as Lightning CEO.
  4. St. Petersburg's C1 Bank raises its minimum wage to $15


    As protesters in 30 cities this week marked the third anniversary of the last increase of the federal minimum wage, St. Petersburg-based C1 Bank confirmed Thursday that it is hiking its minimum "living wage" from $14 to $15 per hour starting Oct. 1.

    That's more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and far higher than Florida's $8.05.

    The community bank with 31 Florida branches, one of the fastest-growing banks in the nation with $1.6 billion in assets, first established a living wage in April. That generated national publicity for C1 and helped focus attention on low teller pay in an industry that pays top executives multimillion-dollar bonuses and salaries....

  5. Walmart seeks to opt out of state energy conservation costs


    TAMPA — A Floridian who spends a miserly $100 a month on electricity is essentially treated the same as a mega-corporation whose utility bill is $1 million when it comes to the cost of energy efficiency.

    They both pay a proportional share of the cost of their utility's energy-conservation programs.

    But the Florida Public Service Commission is scheduled to open a hearing today on a proposal by Walmart and a group of big commercial energy users seeking to opt out of mandatory payments to fund conservation programs offered by the state's investor-owned utilities....

  6. TECO Energy, parent of Tampa Electric, says it may put itself up for sale


    TAMPA — The parent of the Tampa Electric Co. and Peoples Gas said Thursday that it is exploring a potential sale, an announcement that provided an immediate boost to the company's stock.

    A sale of TECO Energy would affect its 700,000 customers who are mostly in Hillsborough and Polk counties, in addition to 350,000 Peoples Gas Systems customers throughout Tampa Bay and Florida.

    TECO released a terse statement late in the afternoon confirming it is considering a sale, a response to a report about a potential sale by the news website, SparkSpread....

    A popular feature at TECO's Big Bend Power Station is the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. The power station has four coal-fired units with a combined output of more than 1,700 megawatts. Warm water discharged from Unit 4 attracts manatees to the area.[Times (2012)]
  7. Equipment problem leads to noise complaints at St. Pete-Clearwater airport


    Malfunctioning navigational equipment at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is forcing many aircraft to fly over neighborhoods north of the airport rather than Old Tampa Bay, and airport officials said Wednesday the timing of a fix isn't known.

    Airport director Thomas Jewsbury said at a meeting of the airport's noise-abatement task force that a navigational aid used by pilots and maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration was taken off line in late March because of technical problems....

  8. Problems continue for Allegiant as airline reports third emergency landing in a month at St. Pete-Clearwater


    For the third time in a month, an Allegiant Air flight has been forced to make an emergency landing at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

    But this time, the airline confirmed, passengers didn't know.

    Allegiant Flight 977 left Asheville, N.C., on Friday, bound for Punta Gorda, but was forced to divert to St. Pete-Clearwater because of bad weather, the airline said.

    But before the MD-83 aircraft landed, pilots declared an emergency after an "indicator light" pointed to a possible "maintenance issue" on the aircraft, Allegiant said Saturday....

    Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said passengers were not aware of the emergency.
  9. New Haley VA director had controversial reign at Mississippi VA hospital


    TAMPA — Three years ago, Department of Veterans Affairs manager Joe D. Battle got the unenviable job of turning around the Jackson, Miss., VA hospital, a facility critics called a dysfunctional mess.

    The hospital didn't have enough doctors, and two patient deaths were blamed on inadequate staffing. A radiologist was accused of failing to properly read thousands of images. Veterans were assigned to "ghost clinics" without seeing doctors....

    Joe D. Battle is expected to take over the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, one of the nation’s busiest veterans hospitals, within the next 40 days.
  10. Gay Pride festivities take on special meaning for revelers

    Human Interest


    They wore the colors of the rainbow in shirts and hair and body paint at an event that many recognized as so much more than just a parade and good party.

    Thousands of Tampa Bay residents and other Floridians gathered Saturday for the annual St. Pete LGBT Pride Parade and block party along Central Avenue, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was a right guaranteed by the Constitution....

    Chris Kiss and Jeff Lucas, both of St. Petersburg, walk with the Pride Parade down 30th Street N on Saturday. Also present were protesters who carried signs condemning gay marriage.
  11. Allegiant Air defends safety record amid emergency landings, cancellations


    At the height of its travel season, Allegiant Air finds itself with a challenging public relations problem.

    Recent headlines described two emergency landings at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in June; a series of flight cancellations there and at other airports that left hundreds of passengers temporarily stranded; and a labor dispute with a pilots union alleging Allegiant puts profits above safety....

    Allegiant Air is defending its safety record after a series of emergency landings and cancellations at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.
  12. Wasp causes Allegiant Air flight out of St.Pete-Clearwater to divert to Orlando


    A Florida wasp provided the latest challenge to Allegiant Air in a difficult month for the airline, crawling into an aircraft sensor Thursday and forcing a flight departing St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to make an unscheduled landing.

    Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said Flight 894 with 159 passengers took off at 7:30 a.m. headed to Niagara Falls, N.Y., but diverted to Orlando Sanford International Airport not long after takeoff because of problems with the sensor....

    Allegiant Air flight takes off from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. June has been bumpy for Allegiant with two emergency landings at the Pinellas airport earlier in the month and a series of flight cancellations since.
  13. Allegiant Air cancels additional flight at St. Pete-Clearwater International


    Allegiant Air's troubles continued Tuesday when it canceled a flight out of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport due to an unspecified "maintenance issue," the airline confirmed.

    The Las Vegas-headquartered airline has now canceled about 14 flights arriving or departing at the airport since the emergency landing of one of its aircraft on June 17 due to a pressurization problem. That was the second Allegiant emergency landing at the airport this month....

    Allegiant Airlines has drawn considerable bad publicity in recent months including a long labor dispute with its pilots and an April report by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Aviation Mechanics Coalition that listed flights delayed by mechanical issues nationwide between September and March.
  14. Marco Rubio weighs in on Haley VA rat infestation


    TAMPA — With dead rats falling from the kitchen ceiling at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center, Sen. Marco Rubio Monday urged the hospital's interim director to resolve pest control issues.

    Rubio said he was "alarmed" by a recent Tampa Bay Times report that revealed how three dead rats fell through the ceiling of the hospital's kitchen last week during work to install new fire sprinklers. Internal hospital emails from the facility's infection chief also said the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital has a cockroach infestation....

    James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Tampa.
  15. Haley VA: Dead rats show pest control working


    TAMPA — The dead rats falling from the kitchen ceiling of one of the nation's busiest veterans hospitals show the facility's pest control efforts are working.

    That is what officials at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center said Monday in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times report that revealed the hospital is battling a severe infestation of rats and cockroaches.

    Haley spokeswoman Karen Collins provided some detail about the hospital's "vermin control" efforts that include rat traps placed on ceiling tiles in a kitchen that prepares food for hospitalized veterans and a canteen kitchen that serves veterans, staff and visitors....

    James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Tampa. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]