10/18/17 Human Interest
For a year, Joe Davison kept a secret he wanted to tell so badly he feared it would burst from his mouth like an alien baby from John Hurt's chest.
It was Davison's "I told you so" to all the naysayers who for decades said he would never fulfill his Hollywood dream. Finally, he was contractually allowed to say the words.
"I'm in next season of Stranger Things," Davison, 41, said from his dining room adorned with a Halloween store tapestry made to look like the alphabet wall from Season 1 of the Netflix series....
TAMPA — When Bruce Adams Samson was inaugurated king of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla in 1992, his friends added flair to the ceremony by having a trained tiger stroll into the crowd and seek out the next monarch.
How the big cat identified Mr. Samson remains a mystery, said his wife, Ada Jean Samson, but will always be one of her fonder memories.
It is also one of the few moments of Mr. Samson's life that could be described as glamorous, friends and family said....
TAMPA — Who do you turn to if you're FEMA and you need to pack up as many meals as possible to feed a hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico?
You turn to GA Foods of St. Petersburg, provider of shelf-ready meals and other food for institutional customers across 40 states, and now the kitchen for the U.S. territory that was devastated last month by Hurricane Maria.
10/13/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — Like most of the world, it was from President John F. Kennedy that Daisy Carbonell Rocamora and George Carbonell learned of the Soviet nuclear weapons that started the Cuban Missile Crisis.
But on that day in October 1962, the brother and sister were living on opposite sides of the confrontation.
From Tampa, Rocamora watched on television as the U.S. president discussed the growing crisis. Her brother was in Cuba, listening to the speech on a shortwave radio....
The State Department has announced a plan for issuing visas to Cuban citizens while the service is suspended at the U.S. Embassy in Havana over mysterious "health attacks" against American diplomats.
Here's how it will work, according to an e-mail from the State Department in response to a query from the Tampa Bay Times:
"In the coming weeks, we will begin transferring current immigrant visa applications and scheduling immigrant visa interviews for Cuban nationals at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia."...
10/11/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — Elvin Martinez and his eight siblings were raised in a century-old home on the corner of Spruce Street and MacDill Avenue.
It's where the retired-judge's five sisters held their wedding receptions.
And it's where Martinez hosted his victory party in 1966 when he became the first Hispanic candidate in modern times elected to the Florida House of Representatives
With so many memories attached to it, Martinez gets emotional over his decision to allow developer Domain Homes to demolish the 2,500-square-foot two-story wooden structure last weekend....
10/10/17 Human Interest
Susan Johnson has long told the tale of how she dated internationally renowned artist Theo Wujcik for just three weeks before they married.
What she usually leaves out is they were actually only together for half that time. He was on the road, live-painting alongside a punk band for the other half.
"Oh, I'm so embarrassed," Johnson, 58, said between full-body laughs. "But he wrote to me every day — a lot. He'd send eight to 10 letters a day. And when he got back and asked me to marry him, I knew it was right. It didn't take long."...
10/04/17 Human Interest
Last Sunday, as local NFL fans geared up again to celebrate America's most popular contact sport, a dozen people gathered at the Davis Islands Seaplane Basin to introduce Tampa to an equally rough variation on the game — Gaelic football.
The game resembles a mix of soccer and rugby and its Tampa proponents don't expect it will ever attain the popularity it enjoys in its native country....
Visa service for Cuban citizens seeking to visit the United States is a casualty of the diplomatic pullback by Washington, threatening the cultural exchange programs and visits from Cubans that Tampa had embraced.
The State Department announced Friday that it is cutting staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana by 60 percent in response to mysterious health problems affecting its diplomats in Cuba's capital city. Until the socialist government can prove it's safe for staffers to return, visas will not be processed there....
10/01/17 Human Interest
A week after most of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 53-man roster and coaches stood and linked arms during the national anthem, about the same number of people gathered outside Raymond James Stadium to protest the team's actions, prior to Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
Barbara Haselden, organizer of the "Stand Up for America!" protest at the corner of Columbus Drive and Dale Mabry Highway, was happy with the turnout, as much for passing cars honking support as for those braving the heat to stand on the roadside....
TAMPA — Despite a promise in June from President Donald Trump that he would impose stricter regulations on Cuba travel, the number of people shuttling by air and sea between Tampa and Havana has continued to rise.
Still, as they've waited for the regulations to become official, local travel agents were jittery about the future for this new market.
One shoe finally dropped Friday....
Florida is touted as the Sunshine State yet ranks 14th nationwide for solar power installations.
"New Jersey is number four," quipped Rick Garrity, retired executive director of Hillsborough County's Environmental Protection Commission. "We have to be ahead of New Jersey."
On Monday, Garrity served as emcee for the launch of a project he believes will help Florida one day obtain that No. 1 spot....
09/24/17 Human Interest
Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.
Now the 35-year-old mother hopes she can be as brave as her little girl as she endures her own amputation.
Del Corpo-Nugent will lose her lower right leg Monday or Tuesday, she told the Tampa Bay Times from Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor via Facebook messenger, and she will be fitted for a prosthetic within the next couple of weeks....
The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.
Now, the downtown Tampa marine research and tourism center is partnering with a Miami-based non-profit on expanding its rescue work in Cuba — to endangered green turtles.
In a unique approach to the challenge, the aquarium will venture into the travel industry next year by offering educational trips to one of Cuba's most scenic beach areas — excursions that will double as an educational and fund-raising effort to help the turtles....
09/19/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — It's 9 Monday morning, and Tedd Webb is exhausted.
Sure, he's been up since 3:30 a.m. and just finished co-hosting the AM Tampa Bay show on News Radio 970 WFLA-AM, but it's the same schedule he's kept through most of his five decades on the radio.
No, his fatigue is different now, tied to the congestive heart failure and diabetes that have plagued him for years but grown worse in recent months....