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History center's design unveiled; 2008 opening

Published Feb. 24, 2006

A Tampa museum without controversy. Imagine that. Absent the drama dogging Tampa's Museum of Art, the Tampa Bay History Center unveiled preliminary renderings of its building Thursday. E. Verner Johnson and Associates of Boston designed the five-story, $17-million showpiece, expected to open by mid-2008 in the downtown Cotanchobee-Fort Brooke Park. Fireworks seem unlikely: Mayor Pam Iorio, Hillsborough County commissioners and the Florida Communities Trust, which helped fund the project, all agree.

After drinks, passenger

sticks foot in his mouth

A thirsty guy, that Rod Russell Wright. The 49-year-old Michigan podiatrist managed to down four beers and two cocktails during a 177-minute flight from Flint to Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, a witness told Tampa International Airport police. Police? Yes, they were called after Wright reportedly declared loudly that he could "blow the plane up" anytime he wanted. The math: one drink every 29 minutes equals one charge of disorderly intoxication and $250 bail.

Manatee numbers rise; annual debate follows

An annual survey found 3,116 manatees in Florida waters and touched off the annual debate over what the number means. It's slightly below last year's (3,143) and below the record set in 2001 (3,300). The first official survey in 1991 found 1,267 manatees. Last month, state wildlife officials proposed moving the species from the "endangered" to the "threatened" list. Those who favor easing restrictions say the numbers show manatees don't need as much protection. The Save the Manatee Club, which favors tighter regulations, says the count is nothing more than "interesting cocktail conversation." Scientists split the difference: There probably are more manatees, and the counting methods are more rigorous.

Flea market denies

shopper's service dog

June R. Dragon couldn't shop at a Crystal River flea market Tuesday and she thinks that's a crime. That's because the owner said her service dog wasn't welcome. The 47-year-old, who is hearing impaired, plans to meet with prosecutors to see if criminal charges are warranted.