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The Daystarter: Cindy makes landfall while lashing Florida Panhandle; questions linger over siblings' drowning deaths; mental health crisis at Florida universities; what you need to know for Pride

Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA | Times (2016)]
Published Jun. 22, 2017

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

• Lingering moist tropical air will make the Tampa Bay area feel like a sauna again today, according to 10Weather WTSP, with highs above 90. There's a chance of afternoon showers. It should dry up a bit for the weekend.

• As you head out for your morning commute, check out our live blog for the latest traffic updates and road conditions across Tampa Bay.

• Tropical Storm Cindy has made landfall in southwestern Louisiana, bringing rain and the threat of flash flooding and tornadoes a day after a boy was killed in Alabama. In addition to bands of drenching rain, the storm brought high winds and numerous, short-lived tornadoes and waterspouts. Most of the severe weather was to the east of the storm, including the Florida Panhandle. As of about 5 a.m., the storm was centered about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is moving north near 12 mph (19 kph).

• The last time their parents saw them, siblings Kesha and Sebastano were walking together to the pool at the Clarion Inn and Conference Center about 2:45 p.m. Sunday. A short time later, brother and sister from Texas were found unresponsive, 17-year-old Kesha at the bottom of the 8.5-foot deep pool and her brother, 12, face down in the water with his arm resting on the pool deck, according to case summaries released Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office. Questions, however, still linger over their deaths.

• During the 2015-16 school year, counseling centers at Florida's public universities handled more than 9,100 crisis visits — more than double the year before. Emergency hospitalizations and counseling sessions jumped dramatically too. Florida, like other states, is facing a crisis as more students with mental health issues enter college. This year, however, the Legislature declined a $14.5 million request to add new counselors, leaving universities to figure out solutions using money in their own budgets. Tampa Bay Times higher education reporter Claire McNeill explores the issue.

• St. Pete Pride is this weekend, and the question many are asking: Will mayoral candidate Rick Baker, who did not march as mayor from 2001-10, finally take part during an election year? The answer is, well, complicated. Read Times reporter Charlie Frago to find out what Baker and his rival, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, are approaching Pride this year.

• The 2018 midterms don't seem nearly that far away after a special election this week in Georgia, so Times Political Editor Adam C. Smith asked the Florida Insiders what they expect in Florida next year. Overwhelmingly, these veteran political operatives, fundraisers, lobbyists and activists are bullish on Republicans.

• The first class of Walmart's in-house training academies graduates today. About 50 local participants will be recognized during a ceremony held at a St. Petersburg Walmart located at 10237 Bay Pines Blvd. N. Follow business reporter Malena Carollo on Twitter at @malenacarollo for live coverage of the event and check back here for updates: tampabay.com/business

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• The Tampa City Council meets at 9 a.m. and is again scheduled to discuss short-term fixes to the parking problems and snarled traffic around the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Possible steps could include upgrading equipment at the city's Royal Regional Lot on Tampa Street, re-striping Cass Street to move traffic into the Poe Garage more efficiently, and teaming up with HART, the Straz and the Downtowner to provide shuttle service for Straz patrons to parking lots that are farther away from the performing arts center. Follow Richard Danielson at @Danielson_Times for updates.

• Taxpayers are slated to pitch in more for the Jolley Trolley next year to cover upgraded vehicles and technology despite declining ridership on the city's routes. Tracey McManus has the details.

• Memories of a special time can echo across miles and decades. They can bring people back to Brandon from as far away as Texas to celebrate something they achieved together. That was the case for members of the 1976-77 Brandon High School boys basketball team. They gathered last week at the original Beef O'Brady's restaurant about five minutes from the gym where, 40 years ago, they won the school's first-ever Western Conference championship. Joe Henderson tells their story.

• By making a side deal with the Vegas Golden Knights, the Lightning was able to hold on to young defensemen Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek, who weren't on its expansion draft protection list and who are expected to compete for roster spots in training camp. And the Lightning was able to free up $4.6 million in cap space for next season, with Vegas agreeing to make veteran defenseman Jason Garrison its selection from Tampa Bay.

• Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman knew he was a long shot to win the Norris Trophy, given to the league's top defenseman, at Wednesday's NHL awards show. But he was honored to be a finalist, finishing third in the voting behind first-time winner Brent Burns of the Sharks and Erik Karlsson of the Senators. Burns had 96 first-place votes, Karlsson 63 and Hedman three.

• Taking two of three from a Reds team that came in among the majors' worst and on a nine-game losing streak wouldn't seem like much of an accomplishment. But after Wednesday's 8-3 matinee win that pushed the Rays' record to a season-high-matching three games over .500 at 39-36, they had good reasons to be encouraged, Marc Topkin writes.

• On June 10, 2009, the Brewers selected a Sarasota High School shortstop in the 16th round of the MLB draft. He'd assembled an impressive resume in prep ball, but as one of more than 1,500 players drafted that year, he had a tough road to the big leagues. Scooter Gennett eventually made it to the show, and he'd make his mark, too. On June 6, 2017 — nearly eight years later to the day — the Reds utility man became the 17th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in one game. Read more on the former Sarasota standout.

• It's time to plan your weekend! Our critics and writers have laid out their top picks for you on our Weekend Planner page including an amazing collection of Lego sculptures coming for a free summer exhibition in Tampa's Channelside area and our top picks for concerts, stage and art shows this weekend.

• The Times guide to St. Pete Pride is online and ready to help you plan your weekend.

• Pride flags that aren't rainbows, George Michael tributes and other top things to look for this weekend during St. Pete Pride.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay.

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