Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
• We'll see showers and thunderstorms with an approaching cold front, with the highest rain chances to the north of Tampa Bay, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures will range from the upper 70s to mid 80s.
• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay.
• In eastern Collier County, an hour’s drive inland from the waterfront condos of Naples, amid cattle ranches and tomato fields and cypress swamps, panthers prowl the night. For now. Parts of that land are so important for the panthers’ future that in 2006 a group of scientists included it in what they called “the primary zone.” That means it’s land that should be preserved at all costs or else risk the extinction of Florida’s official state animal. But now federal officials are considering a proposal from 11 major landowners in that area to allow them to build thousands of new homes and businesses and also open new sand and gravel mines. Read Craig Pittman’s story, about a “Habitat Conservation Plan” that would wipe out 20,000 acres of prime panther habitat.
• There were more than 10,000 collisions between bicycles and cars along Tampa Bay area roadways from 2011 to July of this year. We looked at state data to show you the 11 most treacherous intersections (two were tied for 10th places. And if you check out our maps, you’ll see that, yep, it’s pretty much all treacherous, showing that the region is deserving of its dubious reputation for bike safety.
• The Florida Department of Transportation has an image problem, and new hires in the agency are trying to fix it. DOT was known for having an antagonistic relationship with the public that peaked during the Tampa Bay Express highway expansion project, or TBX. That project was quashed after public outcry, and many leaders were replaced. Now, the agency is trying to move forward and build trust within the community. A new district secretary who is viewed as more open helps. So do initiatives, like last week’s listening tour in West Tampa, which hope to open dialogue between citizens and officials.
• The best journalism in the bay area is all in one place. Check out all the Tampa Bay Times investigations and special reports.
• The Tampa Bay Times has launched a redesigned website at tampabay.com with a new commenting platform. Executive Editor Mark Katches explains what’s new and how you could win $200 by taking a quick survey.
• After Johns Hopkins took over St. Petersburg’s All Children’s Hospital in 2011, residents believed the beloved local hospital could only get better. But two of our investigative reporters started hearing troubling rumors that the exact opposite had happened in All Children’s heart-surgery unit. They spent a year digging into the program and discovered a litany of problems that were hidden from the public — and the parents who entrusted their kids to the hospital’s care. The consequences were tragic. Read Heartbroken, the investigation into Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital by Tampa Bay Times reporters Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi. Executive Editor Mark Katches also writes about the journalists who produced the report and how they did it.
• On Christmas Eve 1975 four people were killed in a Winter Garden furniture store. The next year a jury convicted Tommy Zeigler of the murders of his wife, in-laws and a longtime customer in one of Florida’s most infamous crimes. He was sent to Death Row, but has maintained his innocence ever since. But again and again for the past two decades, the state has refused to allow for full DNA testing of the evidence in his case. In fact, the state has rejected post-conviction DNA tests 70 times, or almost three out of every four requests, according to a review of 500 death penalty cases going back four decades. Times reporter Leonora LaPeter Anton and photographer Cherie Diez chronicle the Zeigler case in the multipart series “Blood and Truth: The Lingering Case of Tommy Zeigler.” Read a new chapter online every day this week:
• Blood and Truth Chapter 1: The lingering case of Tommy Zeigler.
• Blood and Truth Chapter 2: Finding a killer.
• Blood and Truth Chapter 3: Trial and errors.
• Blood and Truth Chapter 4: Science offers scrutiny.
• Blood and Truth Chapter 5: Could he be innocent?
• Blood and Truth: Epilogue.
• The discovery of graves at the Water Street site is a reminder that much of downtown Tampa is built over dead bodies. Some were Seminole Indians; others were early settlers. Kirby Wilson spoke with archaeologists and historians about the procedures for handling such a discovery and how to handle discovered remains with dignity. We also ask about the role modern DNA testing can have in these situations.
• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.
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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.
• Hey, don't count these guys out just yet. They're still alive, but barely, sports columnist Tom Jones writes. It's a longshot, but the Bucs still have hope after they won their second in a row, a solid 24-17 victory Sunday over Carolina.
• Because of injuries, the Buccaneers were down to their fifth, sixth and seventh cornerbacks against Carolina, and they were playing their third, fourth and fifth safeties. But the rag-tag band of pickups made Cam Newton’s life difficult on Sunday, with four interceptions in Tampa Bay’s win.
• The Times can keep you 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 Lightning beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Nick Kelly at @_NickKelly.
• The latest Times coverage of the Bucs is just a click away at tampabay.com. For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow beat writers Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.
• 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.
• 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.
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The Tampa Bay Times online Opinion page has the latest editorials, columns and letters to the editor.