Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
• Make sure to grab the umbrella. A cold front moves through today, bringing showers to the Tampa Bay area, according to the National Weather Service. The best chance for rain will be along the North Suncoast in the afternoon hours into the evening. Saturday will be dry with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. It'll be the better of the two weekend days, as showers return Sunday. And so does the heat. High temperatures will hover near 80.
• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay.
• Is your child entering kindergarten in the fall of 2019? Or going into middle or high school? Are you just wanting to change schools? School Search, an annual project of the Tampa Bay Times, can be a helpful first step as you sort through your options. Check out our comprehensive look at choices for K-12 schools across the Tampa Bay area.
• Mail ballots have already gone out for the 2018 election. Find out everything you wanted to know about local, state and federal candidates, where they stand on issues such as gun rights, opioids and education using the Tampa Bay Times handy-dandy "Know Your Candidate" voter guide. Remember: Election day is Nov. 6.
• The suspected drunk driver who made a U-turn and drove the wrong way on the Howard Frankland Bridge was released from prison on bail early Friday morning, one day after a crash that left a woman in "very critical condition." Andy Andreia Cuff Jr., 25, arrested on a charge of DUI with serious injury, was released from the Pinellas County Jail after posting $5,000 bail. It is just another instance of a wrong-way driver leaving carnage on Tampa Bay's interstates. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.
• Gov. Rick Scott gave his campaign $1.2 million on Tuesday and he has funneled at least $12.5 million of his personal wealth into the U.S. Senate race in just over a week, according to federal election filings. Steve Contorno reports that the Republican has now poured more than $64 million of his own money into his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
• Were state workers used to clear storm debris from the Georgia home of an official with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles? A complaint says that eight days after Hurricane Michael made landfall, state official Kelley Scott dispatched state workers to clean up her property.
• Federal officials are investigating reports that the head veterinarian at ZooTampa accidentally killed at least two manatees with shoddy medical care. Craig Pittman reports that investigators are also asking questions about "credible reports" that Dr. Ray Ball, head veterinarian at what was formerly known as the Lowry Park Zoo, performed improper field amputations on wild manatees. The zoo has placed Ball on paid administrative leave while the allegations threaten the zoo's own permit for treating and exhibiting the marine mammals.
• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.
• Nervous about mailing in your ballot? You're not alone. Mail ballots in Florida were more likely to be rejected than those cast during early voting or on election day in the last two presidential contests, according to a report from the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Zachary T. Sampson explains that concern forms a tense backdrop as Florida elections' supervisors encourage more mail voting and early voting.
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• Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis keeps attacking his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum for repeatedly drawing attention to Tallahassee's crime rate while he was mayor and for being anti-law enforcement. But Dan Sullivan reports that Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren pushed back against that message, defended Gillum's record and criticized DeSantis for using "shameful political attacks."
• Are Tampa's parks safe from sale to a private developer? Not as safe as they are in St. Petersburg, city attorneys told council members. Tampa parks are protected by ordinance, not city charter, as is the case in St. Petersburg. Charlie Frago reports that council member and mayoral candidate Mike Suarez wants to change that.
• Columnist Sue Carlton writes at that while the nation hurtles toward next week's big election in a hurricane of anger and insult, the Tampa mayoral race has been a far more polite affair — so far, that is.
• The number of homeless veterans in the Tampa Bay area is dropping, and at a faster rate than the national average, according to statistics released Thursday. Howard Altman reports that federal officials credit an emphasis on federal housing and veterans programs to combat the problem, such as the The Obama-era HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program which the Trump administration has continued. It combines rental vouchers with case management and clinical services.
• Hillsborough officials decided to show off the progress of work on building the county's new $17 million sports complex, reports Dennis Joyce, which will be a state of the art collection of 15 athletic fields — a designed to attract national tournaments to the 65-acre center on Columbus Drive between U.S. 301 and Falkenburg Road.
• Being benched is uncharted territory for Jameis Winston, who will play the role of backup quarterback despite being healthy and ready to go. Eduardo Encina reports that Taking a backseat is something very new for the Bucs' franchise quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick.
• The latest Bucs news is just a few clicks away. Check out the Tampa Bay Times coverage all season long. And on @Twitter follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard for the latest updates.
• The Times can keep you up-to-date on the Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup, just click here throughout the season. And for the latest updates on @Twitter, follow Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Nick Kelly at @_NickKelly.
• The Tampa Bay Times has teamed up with ProPublica to track anything that goes wrong at the polls this year: Voting abnormalities? Election misinformation? Unusually long lines? Malfunctioning voting machines? Robocalls? Social media rumors? Here's how to reach out to us:
• Text message: Send the word VOTE or VOTA (for Spanish) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).
• WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE or VOTA (for Spanish) to 1-850-909-8683.
• Facebook Messenger: Go to m.me/electionland.
• Twitter: Tag @Electionland.
• Check out the latest episode of the Tampa Bay Times podcast Sports Day Tampa Bay led by veteran sportswriter Rick Stroud.
• Listen to our new podcast, Life of the Party, that keeps you caught up just enough to get by in small talk. Times staffers Stephanie Hayes and Brittany Volk will discuss what's going on, from celebrity news to movies and music, plus offbeat info that will make you the most interesting person in the room.