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The Daystarter: An eye-opening look at Florida foster care; Stonewall Jackson Elementary will remain just that; hug the Bucs' Gerald McCoy while you still can

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Published Dec. 27, 2018

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

• Skies will be mostly cloudy with a high near 76, according to the National Weather Service. The day will be breezy, with winds reaching 14 mph and gusting up to 24 mph. Expect a low tonight in the upper 60s.

• A Tampa Bay Times investigation finds Florida's overburdened foster care system repeatedly bounces children from home to home and family to family. Thousands of foster children move so much they risk psychological harm.

• The Hillsborough County School Board voted recently to remove Robert E. Lee's name from an elementary school. But what about the school named after another Confederate hero, Plant City's Stonewall Jackson Elementary School? Find out why that name will stand, for now.

• Michael Tsalickis of Tarpon Springs had such an extraordinary life that National Geographic once filmed him wrestling an anaconda and actor Robert Duvall starred in a movie based on his adventures. The man known as Jungle Mike wrestled snakes, built a hospital in Colombia — and served 20 years for a record St. Pete cocaine seizure. Read about this Tarpon Springs native's life.

• There will be less boliche served on so-called Boliche Boulevard with the announcement this week that the iconic Arco Iris restaurant is closing its main location. Arco Iris has been a mainstay for three decades along a stretch of Columbus Drive in West Tampa that, with all its Spanish-speaking businesses, has come to be known as boliche for the Cuban dish blending eye-round roast, chorizo sausage and tomato sauce.

• Six former employees of the Florida State Fire College have joined a class-action lawsuit against flame retardant manufacturers, alleging their exposure to toxic chemicals caused serious medical conditions including thyroid disease, breast cancer and kidney cancer.

• The next addition to the Warehouse Arts District could be a new outdoor event space and glass blowing facility. That's the goal of Robert and Cherie Beaman, who have applied for a zoning change to allow for such a venue. They envision using the outdoors area for crafts fairs, beer fests, concerts, music festivals and anything else they can come up with.

• Who can blame supporters of Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights of most ex-felons, for thinking that lawmakers can't be trusted to implement the measure? Just look at how other recent ballot measures fared once passed by wide margins.

• The minimum wage in Florida is going up to $8.46 next week. Except Florida is still in the bottom half of the United States. Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano wonders when will state lawmakers realize there's a big gap between $8.46 and $15? Read his argument.

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

• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

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• As the Bucs season winds down, columnist Martin Fennelly takes at look at the career of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who might be playing his final game with the team on Sunday. That and other coverage of the Bucs is just a click away at For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow beat writers Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• The Bucs are treating Sunday's game against the Falcons like business as usual, Rick Stroud writes, though their head coach is on the hot seat and it's the 11th year with no playoffs.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times new online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.

"It's good to be the Lightning," writes hockey beat writer Diana Nearhos, who lays out a string of impressive numbers that have defined the team's season so far. To stay up-to-date on the Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup: Click here for the latest news throughout the season. For the latest updates on @Twitter, follow Diana at @dianacnearhos along with fellow Lightning beat writer Nick Kelly at @_NickKelly.

• It's bowl season and we've got you covered with our guide of "can't miss" games to "why, just why."

• Wisconsin and Miami followed much of the same dreary path that started in the warmth of the Orange Bowl and ends with a frigid thud at Yankee Stadium in today's Pinstripe Bowl.

• To get the latest Rays' news from the Times this offseason, click here and follow baseball writer Marc Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

• Check out the Times coverage of Gator football all season long and keep up with college football beat writer Matt Baker on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.

• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.

• Check out the latest episode of the Times sports podcast Sports Day Tampa Bay led by veteran sportswriter Rick Stroud.

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The Tampa Bay Times online Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

• Jay Cridlin presents his biggest year-end playlist ever as he offers up the 50 best songs of 2018.

• 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.

• Don't just write the right way — write the Lane way. Keep up with Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lane DeGregory's podcast, WriteLane, and learn about her approach to the craft of storytelling.

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Check out the Tampa Bay Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.