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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. Ryas vs. Yankees, 1:05 Thursday, Port Charlotte

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Yankees, 1:05

    Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte

    Pitchers: Rays, Austin Pruitt; Phillies, Jordan Montgomery

    Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    On Deck

    Friday: at Pirates, 1:05, Bradenton. Rays, Diego Moreno; Pirates, Trevor Williams

    Saturday: vs. Red Sox, 1:05. Rays, Jake Odorizzi; Red Sox, TBA

    Today's other area teams...

  2. New USF basketball coach Brian Gregory wants to emphasize Tampa Bay recruiting (w/ video)

    College

    TAMPA — Should Brian Gregory manage to resuscitate a USF men's basketball program that is showing nary a vital sign, an image from his introductory news conference Wednesday just might reveal how he did it.

    Gregory, fresh off the podium, was chatting up veteran Tampa Prep boys coach Joe Fenlon.

    If any message especially resonated Wednesday, it was his desire to re-establish the Tampa Bay area and its surrounding counties as top recruiting priorities. ...

  3. How the Tim Beckham spring turnaround could pay off for the Rays

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — The way last season ended, Tim Beckham could not have seemed more irrelevant to the Rays, sent down after late-season mental lapses then sent home for September even as two infielders were summoned to fill-in off their couches.

    The way this season is starting, Tim Beckham could not seem more important to the Rays, slated initially for a key super utility role and then with Matt Duffy's stalled heel rehab shifted to what looks to be the starting shortstop job, impressing since camp opened with his performance and attitude....

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham (1) blows a bubble while waiting for batting practice to start before the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla. on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.
  4. Man accused in death of Busch Garden flamingo ordered to in-home competency training

    Criminal

    TAMPA — The man accused of killing a beloved Busch Gardens flamingo drinks alcohol frequently, doesn't always take his psychiatric medication and has a history of trouble with the law, attorneys told a judge Wednesday.

    Those issues were the focus of a court hearing at which Circuit Judge Tom Barber ordered Joseph Corrao to undergo in-home competency training before the animal cruelty case against him can continue....

    Joseph Corrao, who is accused of killing Pinky, a Busch Gardens flamingo, in August, is seen during his competency hearing at the Hillsborough Courthouse Annex in Tampa on Feb. 17. (ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times)
  5. Watch a small poodle in a tiny orange sweater get freed from a drain in Port Richey (w/video)

    Public Safety

    PORT RICHEY — It was scary to be Taffy the dog on Wednesday morning.

    No, not even the orange sweater the 15-year-old poodle was wrapped in to keep him from the chill at 6 a.m. was enough to protect him from the elements.

    "I was out in the yard with him," said his owner Wesson Williams, 78. "I turned my back for one minute and then he disappeared."

    Soon he heard the barks coming from under the ground. ...

    Wesson Williams, 78, holds his 15-year-old poodle, Taffy, after he is pulled from a knot of roots in a storm drain. (City of Port Richey)
  6. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

    Autos

    The Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe is a classic muscle car. Sure it has the luxury Mercedes-Benz heritage and pedigree. The C Class — similar in size to a Mustang or Camaro — has been redesigned for 2017. And like the Ford or Chevy, it shares a large engine, small two-door body and rear-wheel drive.

    Appearance: In this, the C63 doesn't have the sometimes overwrought design of a traditional muscle car. Instead, its lines — the rounded roof, creased fenders and pillarless windows — flow naturally yet connote power. Lyra calls it "breathtakingly beautiful," and the Mercedes-Benz fan who approached her to get a better look also thought so. Our car was helped by its deep Brilliant Blue Metallic paint, a gorgeous hue set off by cross-spoke black wheels with red brake calipers. Up front, the "diamond" grille carries a huge M-B badge, perhaps the most ostentatious thing about the car....

     2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  7. Tampa Bay Rays, Cross-Bay Ferry and PSTA offer Tampa fans a deal

    Transportation

    For one month, fans of the Tampa Bay Rays will have a new way to get to games.

    The Rays, the Cross-Bay Ferry and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority announced Wednesday they will adjust the ferry's schedule and add later runs to allow Tampa fans an across-the-bay commute for home games during April. The only exception is a day game April 27.

    "This is a fantastic way for Tampa fans to help kick off baseball season in Tampa Bay," said Ed Turanchik, a project advisor for the ferry. ...

    Passengers board the Cross-Bay Ferry near the Tampa Convention Center.  JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times
  8. Class notes

    K12

    Calendar

    April 3: Report cards.

    • April 28: Progress reports.

    Class notes

    • Pasco Fine Arts along with Florida Council on Arts and Culture are the hosts for 2017 Kids 'N Art Exhibition through April 14 at the center, 4145 Fairford Drive, New Port Richey. The exhibit features work of children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Awards and a reception will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For information, go to Pascoarts.org and click the "Art Happening" menu....

  9. Plan your weekend: Tampa Pride, Disney on Ice, Tampa's Fourth Fridays, Drumline Live

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Parade

    Tampa Pride: Even though Tampa's modestly sized Pride parade and festival is affectionately known in the community as the "baby pride," this year's event is expected by organizers to top last year's crowd of 30,000. Things get started Saturday at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor parking lot at E Eighth and Ninth Avenues between 14th and 15th Street when vendors open at 10 a.m. At noon there will be a Pulse nightclub tribute ceremony at Centro Ybor with shooting survivors and Orlando first responders. At 1 p.m. the parade begins at Nuccio Parkway and Seventh Avenue. It's followed by a concert by Steve Grand at 4 p.m., hailed as the first openly gay country singer to taste mainstream success when his video for the song All American Boy went viral. New this year: The marching bands from Plant High School and at least one other local school will be the first school marching bands to participate in the parade....

    Tod Macofsky and Gina Young in "It Gets Better" at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 10th, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.
  10. Pasco school boundary dispute now up to judge

    Education

    The fate of recently approved school boundary maps for east and west Pasco County now lies in the hands of state administrative judge D.W. Alexander.

    Over two lengthy hearings, held Feb. 27-28 and March 15, Alexander listened to parents and school district officials offer frequently opposing testimony about the attendance zone process and whether it met the letter of state law.

    If he sides with the parents, and finds the board did not follow proper rule-making procedures, the district could have to conduct the rezoning again....

  11. Afternoon Update: White House distances Trump from Manafort-Russia ties; four dead in vehicle, knife attack in London; biotech giant to open Tampa center; Jameis Winston's grandmother dies

    Here's what you may have missed, and what you need to know as you start winding down:

    WHITE HOUSE DISTANCES TRUMP FROM MANAFORT-RUSSIA TIES

    President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, the Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was not aware of Manafort's clients from the past decade and there are "no suggestions" Manafort did anything improper. Spicer said nothing in the AP report references any action by the president, the White House or any Trump administration official....

    Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 17, 2016. Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. [Associated Press]
  12. Hometown Pasco for March 24

    Human Interest

    Hometown Pasco

    HIGH FIVES

    PHSC students named to All-Florida Academic Team: Pasco-Hernando State College students Diana Castro Jaramillo, Spring Hill Campus, and Kellie Gordie, West Campus in New Port Richey, were nominated for the 2017 Phi Theta Kappa All-Florida Academic Team. The students were selected based on academic achievement, leadership and community service and have the opportunity to attend an awards ceremony in Tallahassee on April 7....

    Tech Challenge Award presentation: Pasco-Hernando State College recently named student Samantha Hawley the winner of the 2016 Mobile Tech Challenge. Hawley was recognized in a ceremony at the Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel and was awarded $1,000 from sponsor Modo Labs for her winning entry, titled “Campus Tour for New Students” (West Campus). PHSC students Ethan Williams and Michael Corrigan were awarded $750 from SMA Solutions for their entry, “Welcome to PHSC!” (West Campus), and Corrigan received $500 from Unisys for his entry, “General Tour with Conquistador Theme” (West Campus). An additional recognition went to Corrigan from the alumni community. The winners were invited to visit Diamond View Studios in Tampa. The tour, hosted by Tim Moore, the 2016 Distinguished Alumni of the Year, was just one of the prizes offered to the students. From left are: Kevin O’Farrell, Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch provost; Glynis Williams, PHSC instructor; Melissa Harts, PHSC technology and distance education vice president; Andrew Yu, Modo Labs founder and CTO; Tim Moore, Diamond View Studios director; Timothy Beard, PHSC president; Patricia White, Unisys client executive of enterprise solutions; Corrigan; Williams; Nicholas Dirks, student finalist; Kaylie Caraway, student finalist; Kyle Bowen, student finalist; Hawley; Doug Park, SMA Solutions director of public sector accounts; Jan Scott, PHSC management information services executive director, and Mark Tennyson, PHSC systems and software applications developer.
  13. Hometown Hernando for March 24

    Human Interest

    We want your news!

    Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it's snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. You can contact Hometown Hernando news coordinator Jean Hamilton at: PHONE (352) 848-1438, FAX (352) 754-6133, EMAIL jhamilton@tampabay.com....

    Church members give toys to help children: Nativity Lutheran Church of Weeki Wachee recently collected stuffed animals to benefit children traumatized after a home fire or vehicle wreck. On Feb. 10, a group from the church delivered the toys to Hernando County Fire Rescue Station 2 in Spring Hill, to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and to the Florida Highway Patrol office. From left, are: Olivia Haaland; the Rev. Giuseppe Mattei; Thomas Nickola, firefighter/EMT; Joanne Johnson; Gloria Mraz; Susan Nordstrom, and Raina McDannold.
  14. Lightning needs big win total in final 10 games for playoff hope

    Lightning Strikes

    BOSTON — When Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked if Tuesday's loss to the Coyotes was one of the most frustrating of the season, his answer was telling.

    "A lot of frustrating games this year," Cooper said. "This ranks up there, though."

    That there have been so many from which to choose is damning, the reason the Lightning will likely miss the playoffs. Sure, Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Arizona was inexcusable. It was mind-numbing. If, in an absolute must-win game, you can't beat the second-worst team in the league at home, maybe you don't deserve to be in the postseason....

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper minds the bench during the first period of Tuesday's (3/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Arizona Coyotes at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  15. Hernando Briefs for March 24

    Briefs

    COUNTYWIDE

    PHSC to host open houses

    Pasco-Hernando State College will host open houses from 5 to 7 p.m. at both Hernando County campuses aimed at 2017 and 2018 high school graduates who are undecided on college plans, and any potential students seeking higher education opportunities.

    • April 11 at the North Campus, in front of building A, 11415 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Brooksville....