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News at noon: Rays sideline reporter loses job over insensitive comments; highway expansion will burden minorities; student test scores tick upwards; Gordie Howe dies

Clara Ray, 72, a retiree and resident at the Mobley Park apartments, hopes that she doesn't have to move if Interstate 275 expands. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
Clara Ray, 72, a retiree and resident at the Mobley Park apartments, hopes that she doesn't have to move if Interstate 275 expands. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Jun. 10, 2016

Tampa Bay Express calls for widening the region's highways to create 90 miles of toll lanes that promise a faster ride. But the $6 billion project, much like the first highways built half a century ago, puts a disproportionate burden on minority and low-income residents whose homes are in its path.

TIA KEEPING AMAZON'S WAREHOUSES STOCKED

Amazon goods are flowing into Tampa International Airport daily aboard a Boeing 767 cargo freighter plane. Then it's all shuttled away to the nearby warehouses on Amazon trucks, where the merchandise is sorted, packed and shipped to customers' doors. All that Amazon activity has increased the Tampa airport's cargo activity by 20 percent so far this year compared to last and generated more than $275,500 in revenue for the airport over the last seven months in fees and building rental payments.

OUTBACK, CARRABBA'S FALL IN RESTAURANT POLL

Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill, two of Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands anchor restaurant chains,were deposed from their No. 1 rankings in an annual Harris Poll Equitrend survey that measures how people feel about restaurant brands.

RAYS REPORTER LOSES JOB OVER COMMENTS

Emily Austen, a sideline reporter on Rays television broadcasts, will no longer appear on Fox Sports Sun because of insensitive comments she made on the Facebook Live page for Barstool Sports, a sports Web site. Austen was a sideline reporter on Rays and Magic games, and hosted such programs as Inside the Rays.

GORDIE HOWE DIES

The Detroit Red Wings have confirmed that Gordie Howe, one of the greatest players in National Hockey League history, has died at age 88. Howe, who had a major stroke in 2014 but benefitted from stem cell treatment, was part of the NHL for 26 seasons.

STUDENT TEST SCORES TICK UPWARDS

The second year of testing under the Florida Standards Assessment system showed modest improvements over 2015's scores, the state announced as it released the scores on Friday, along with the results of end-of-course exams for middle and high school students. Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart pointed to improvements in math, English language arts, science, civics and U.S. history.

HOW TO GET YOUR TRUMP TICKETS

Donald Trump's rally at the Tampa Convention Center (333 S. Franklin Street), is scheduled to start Saturday at 11 a.m., and doors open at 8 a.m. Here is how you can register for tickets.

COMING SOON: FROZEN RIDE, SOARIN', STAR WARS FIREWORKS

Next week at Walt Disney World, Star Wars fans will find amped-up fireworks and the return of Soarin', and little girls will finally get their Anna and Elsa attraction when Frozen Ever After opens at Epcot on June 21.

COBRA'S CURSE, ADVENTURE ISLAND'S SUNSET CELEBRATION

Busch Gardens announced that its much-anticipated Cobra's Curse roller coaster will open to the public on June 17. Across the street, water park Adventure Island will begin extending its hours next week for Thursdays through Saturdays until Aug. 6 for the tropical family-friendly Island Nights sunset celebration.

DEPUTY FACES DUI CHARGE IN WRONG-WAY CRASH

A Hillsborough Sheriff's deputy was arrested early Friday after he drove the wrong way on Interstate 75, crashed into a tractor-trailer and fled the scene, authorities said. Justin Garrett, 29, faces charges including driving under the influence.

MIAMI BEACH MAYOR IS ONE TO WATCH

Bob Buckhorn's biggest obstacle to the governor's mansion may be the mayor of a much smaller city more commonly associated with spoiled brat celebs captured on camera by TMZ than for spawning strong statewide candidates: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

BIRD MAN CRASHES TO EARTH

Once upon a time, Ralph Heath Jr. was a legend: the Bird Man of Tampa Bay. Starting with one cormorant in 1971, Heath eventually ran the largest non-profit wild bird hospital and sanctuary in the United States. But now, the people who run the sanctuary he started are changing the locks to keep him out. Heath faces numerous misdemeanor charges over keeping turtles and birds in a Largo warehouse where state officials found all over the floor rotting fruit, feathers and feces.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

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