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Times staff,

If you have a news tip, please call our City Desk at 727-893-8215.

You can also call one of our county news bureaus directly:

Hernando County: 352-754-6101

Hillsborough County/Tampa: 813-226-3303

North Pinellas County: 727-445-4221

Pasco County: 727-869-6235

On the Web, you can also go to sptimes.com/connect/ for details on other ways to contact us.

E-mail: local@tampabay.com

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  1. Tarpon Springs psychic charged with defrauding veteran, widow out of $155,000

    News

    TARPON SPRINGS — A psychic was arrested Tuesday after police said she scammed two clients out of more than $150,000.

    Gina Wilson, 31, ran a psychic and palm reading business out of her home at 1845 S Pinellas Ave. She is charged with scheme to defraud.

    Investigators started looking into Wilson in November after a 33-year-old military veteran told police he'd been scammed by her while seeking her services to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder after two combat tours in Iraq. The man went to Wilson's home for more than 15 months. She promised to help with "the darkness surrounding him," according to an affidavit....

    Gina Wilson
  2. St. Pete Economic Development Corporation lures marketing firm MXTR to town

    Economic Development

    St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation has lured its first big catch to St. Petersburg — MXTR Automation. The digital marketing company announced Wednesday that it will fill 20 "high-wage" creative positions within the next 18 months, as well as open an office in downtown St. Petersburg this year.

    "It's easy to sell this place," Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday. It's unclear what incentives were tied to the expansion....

  3. Hernando sheriff: Middle school staffer accused of sexually assaulting student

    Crime

    SPRING HILL — A staffer and coach at Fox Chapel Middle School was arrested Tuesday, accused of sexually assaulting a student on the school's campus.

    Marcus Gerard Wells, 34, of Spring Hill, an in-school suspension monitor, sexually battered a girl who attended the school eight times over a two-week period, Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis said during a news conference Wednesday.

    He faces four counts of sexual battery of a victim 12 to 18 years old by a person in custodial authority, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. The agency did not identify the girl or her age, saying only that she is a minor between the ages of 12 and 18....

    Marcus Wells, 34, an in-school suspension monitor at Fox Chapel Middle School, was arrested Tuesday on allegations that he sexually battered a student, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. He was fired by the school district. [Photo courtesy of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Memorial service sparks wistful memories for daughter of slain Hillsborough deputy

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — As the somber notes of "Taps" sounded in a stiff breeze, Sherri Longway thought about her father.

    She wondered if her dad, Hillsborough Sheriff's Deputy Mark Longway, was looking down on her as she sat in the Sheriff's Office memorial plaza in Ybor City, steps away from the glass panels commemorating her father and 15 other Hillsborough deputies who have died in the line of service....

    
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy honor guard stand near a memorial wreath during the HCSO's annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service Wednesday, May 24, 2017 in the Ybor City area Tampa. Sheriff David Gee along with dignitaries and members of the sheriff's office paid tribute to members of the Sheriff's Office who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
  5. Pasco Events for May 26-June 1

    Events

    26 Friday

    Line dancing: 10 to 11 a.m. $3. CARES Rao Musunuru M.D. Enrichment Center, 12417 Clock Tower Parkway, Hudson. (727) 863-6868. caresfl.org.

    Knights of Columbus Council 6476 all-you-can-eat dinner: Doors open at 4 p.m. Includes baked or fried fish and another entree choice. 5 to 7 p.m. $10. St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 4843 Mile Stretch Drive, Holiday. (727) 389-7067....

  6. St. Petersburg police team with federal agencies to crack down on gun and drug offenders (w/video)

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police say Raymond Adams, 29, jumped a fence to break into a home in the 800 block of 51st Avenue S.

    Moments later, they say, he was a passenger in a getaway car while a police cruiser trailed behind. His driver hit a tree, but police say Adams got out of the car and kept running. A witness told investigators Adams dropped his 9 mm pistol, a pair of gloves and a hoodie in a garbage can while fleeing from St. Petersburg police....

    Some of the guns confiscated during an eight month firearms, drug trafficking, and violent crime operation dubbed the St. Petersburg Violent Crime Reduction Initiative were on display Wednesday, 5/24/17 at the St. Petersburg Police Department.  Federal charges have been filed against 35 individuals and state charges have been filled against 9 individuals in St. Petersburg. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  7. Graco recalls car seats; webbing may not hold child in crash

    Public Safety

    Graco Children's Products is recalling more than 25,000 car seats because the harness webbing can break in a crash and may not keep children restrained.

    The recall affects certain My Ride 65 convertible seats with model numbers 1871689, 1908152, 1813074, 1872691, 1853478, 1877535, 1813015, and 1794334. The seats were made on July 22, 2014 and have a code of 2014/06 on a tag that's on the webbing. ...

    Graco has recalled eight different car seat models.
  8. Plan your weekend: Memorial Day, Sunset Music Fest, comic Pablo Francisco, sci-fi writer Jeff VanderMeer

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Holiday

    Memorial Day: Monday is the day to honor those who died serving their country, and the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony will have Fox 13 anchor Alcides Segui as emcee, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and musical performances starting at 10 a.m. at 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg. But first, on Sunday, the Light Up Tampa Bay celebration in Channelside Bay Plaza will have live music, entertainment and family-friendly activities. Fireworks have been canceled this year, however, because of the Hillsborough burn ban. It runs 6-9 p.m. Sunday at 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Free. For more Memorial Day events and parades, see Tampabay.com/thingstodo....

    GULF SHORES, AL - MAY 20:  Diplo of Major Lazer performs at the Surf Stage during 2017 Hangout Music Festival on May 20, 2017 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Hangout Music Festival) 700050769
  9. Sunshine Skyway closed, Tampa flights delayed as storms move into Tampa Bay

    Public Safety

    The Sunshine Skyway bridge has been closed because of the weather conditions, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has announced.

    Also, several flights in and out of Tampa International Airport on Wednesday afternoon were delayed due to the storms. Check your flight status before heading to the airport....

    Storm clouds build over downtown Tampa on May 24, 2017. [HOWARD ALTMAN | Times]
  10. Hernando Briefs for May 26

    Briefs

    COUNTYWIDE

    Groups may apply for outreach grants

    Hernando County government is accepting applications for 2018 community outreach grants. Organizations may apply for a $5,000 grant to implement a project that will enhance the community's character, value, safety or environment or recreational opportunities. Projects must fall within one or more of the following categories: healthy and safe lifestyles, social connections, environmental preservation amd tourism. Grant funding is reimbursed upon project completion. The program is designed for short-term projects that begin and end between Oct. 1 and July 31. Projects must take place in Hernando County and have a public benefit. Applications are due by June 30. To apply, visit HernandoCounty.us/bocc/budget/communitygrants.htm. For information, call (352) 754-4004 or send email to Budget@HernandoCounty.us....

  11. Clearwater officer fired after investigation reveals use of unnecessary force on teen

    Public Safety

    A Clearwater police officer was fired after an internal investigation found he used unnecessary force on a teenager in custody, the agency said Wednesday.

    No other information was released, including the officer's name. Chief Dan Slaughter will give more details during a news conference today at 3:30 p.m.

    This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

  12. Meadowlawn Middle School teacher arrested on molestation charges

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A Meadowlawn Middle School science teacher was arrested Wednesday morning on charges that he molested three students, police said.

    Joseph Zavalnak, 41, faces five counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. The victims were ages 13 and 14, according to arrest reports. St. Petersburg police said they began their investigation after one victim's parents called police.

    Arrest reports provide more details on the charges against Zavalnak, who has worked for the Pinellas Schools District since 2009....

    Joseph Zavalnak, 41, a Meadowlawn Middle School teacher, was arrested May 24, 2017on charges that he molested three underage girls, police said. He faces  five counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. The victims were between the ages of 12 and 18, police said. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  13. Vendors for May 26

    News

    • Sponsors and raffle items are being sought for the Humane Society of the Nature Coast's Cruising for Critters poker run, which will begin at 9 a.m. June 3 at PetSmart, 1345 Wendy Court, Spring Hill. The top sponsor level is King of the Road for $1,000. Other levels include: Cruiser for $500, Side Car for $250 and Scooter for $100. For information, call (352) 796-2711 or send email to fundraising@humanerescue.org. For a sponsorship form, visit humanerescue.org....

  14. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 25

    Events

    Idina Menzel: The singer is known for her roles in the musical, Rent, on Fox's Glee, in the film Frozen as the voice behind Let It Go and in the re-make of the classic film Beaches. 8 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $73.75-$200. (727) 791-7400.

    Sister Hazel: The '90s All For You hitmakers are known for combining elements of acoustic rock, folk, and jangle pop. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $29-$49. (727) 791-7400....

    Idina Menzel
  15. Hernando Bloodmobile for May 26

    News

    Bloodmobile locations

    LifeSouth Community Blood Center will have blood drives at the following off-site locations during the coming week.

    May 26: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Walmart, 1485 Commercial Way, Spring Hill; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Walmart, 7305 Broad St., Brooksville.

    May 27: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Goodwill Industries, 4750 Commercial Way, Spring Hill.

    May 28: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Christian Church in the Wildwood, 10051 County Road, north of Weeki Wachee; 1:30 to 5:30 p.m., Sam's Club, 13360 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill....