Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Breaking News

News at noon: Vet for Tampa zoo accused of killing manatees through malpractice; should St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce find a new home?; and more

Here are the top five latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.

VET FOR TAMPA ZOO ACCUSED OF KILLING MANATEES THROUGH MALPRACTICE

Federal officials are investigating reports that the head veterinarian at ZooTampa accidentally killed at least two manatees with shoddy medical care. They 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 amputees on manatees. Until the investigation is over, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in an Oct. 22 letter to the zoo, Ball must "cease all activities involving manatees." The zoo’s own permit for treating and exhibiting the marine mammals may be in jeopardy, the letter said.

DRIVING FOR UBER IN TAMPA? THE COMPANY WILL PAY YOUR TUITION IN NEW PROGRAM

Tampa Bay Uber drivers have a new incentive to keep driving: The ride share company will pay their tuition. A new program called Uber Pro is being tested in Tampa Bay and seven other cities. It will rank drivers into different categories based off of how many rides they’ve completed. Once they’ve hit 3,000 rides, the company will cover tuition for online classes at Arizona State University.

NEIGHBOR SUES OVER TAMPA ELECTRIC'S SOLAR FARM PLAN IN PASCO

The battle over a solar energy farm in rural northeast Pasco is moving from county commission chambers to circuit court rooms. Sandra Noble, a Blanton homeowner, has filed two legal claims in Pasco Circuit Court seeking to overturn the county’s approval of Tampa Electric Co.’s planned solar energy facility on 382 acres abutting her property. The utility recently paid more than $6.8 million for the land upon which it plans to install 470,000 solar panels for a 55-megawatt system along Blanton Road. Prior to the lawsuit, Tampa Electric said its goal was to be operational before the end of 2019.

AS MORE SHOPS OPEN IN DOWNTOWN ST. PETE, SHOULD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FIND A NEW HOME?

Shoppers can find an array of unusual and upscale items in downtown St. Petersburg: Purses made in Italy of genuine crocodile skin. Hand-enameled jewelry and Russian nesting dolls. Stiletto heels, slinky cocktail dresses and original artwork. Yet hardly anyone thinks of downtown as a shopping destination like, say, Tampa’s International Plaza or even Hyde Park Village. "This is a restaurant and bar town," says L.A. Newsome, who recently opened the NautiGirl beachwear store in St. Petersburg’s downtown core. Could the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce do more to help the retail scene? Some think it could — by moving.

USF'S CHARLIE STRONG MENTIONED AS CANDIDATE FOR MARYLAND JOB. IS HE REALLY?

With Maryland's decision Wednesday to part ways with Coach DJ Durkin only one day after his reinstatement, college football's crazy season commenced prematurely. And wouldn't you know it, Charlie Strong's name immediately was tossed in as a candidate for the Terrapins vacancy. Strong, who has guided the Bulls to a 17-3 mark in slightly less than two seasons, is the No. 1 candidate on the list floated out Wednesday by Yahoo Sports national college football reporter Pete Thamel.

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