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  1. What you should know about new Rays reliever Dan Jennings


    The Rays have finally brought in a reliever — and this one isn't a DFA'd castoff. White Sox left-hander Dan Jennings will come to Tampa Bay, while first base prospect Casey Gillaspie heads to Chicago. The 30-year-old reliever has a lifetime ERA of 2.86 in 261-1/3 innings, recording one save and 27 holds in 35 opportunities. Here are some more things to know about the newest Ray....

    Artsy, no?
  2. Bealls and West Marine to join Pollo Tropical at redeveloped Kmart site in Clearwater

    Economic Development

    CLEARWATER — The long-vacant shopping plaza on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, formerly home to Kmart, is nearing completion, bringing a handful of well-known retailers to the area.

    Construction on the main section of the 10-acre property should be completed by fall, said Will Tolliver, managing director of retail for the Texas-based real estate investment company Leon Capital Group. Bealls department store and West Marine boating supplies have signed leases, and Leon Capital is completing negotiations with "a national pet goods store," Tolliver said....

    The long-vacant shopping plaza on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, formerly home to Kmart, is nearing completion. .JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  3. Dunedin approves contract approved for new city manager

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — City officials finalized the last step in the process to bring home their next manager.

    On Tuesday, the City Commission unanimously approved the contract for Jennifer Bramley, whose start date will be Aug. 28. Bramley's base salary is $163,000, and will be up for a 3 percent salary increase, or $4,890, in February, depending on a performance evaluation by the Commission, said Theresa Smalling, director of human resources and risk management....

    Jennifer Bramley, 52, is the new Dunedin city manager.
  4. Clearwater council approves wording of referendum on Coachman Park

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The City Council last week approved the referendum wording voters will see on the Nov. 7 ballot.

    The question relates to Imagine Clearwater, a $55 million redevelopment plan that calls for converting Coachman Park into a garden and relocating its concert band shell to a new, 4-acre open green space, what is now the large parking lot just south of Coachman; an estuary under the Memorial Causeway; a half-mile Bluff Walk with shaded paths, gardens and terraces; and a plaza with water features and event space at the corner of Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue....

  5. Top 5 at noon: Snooty was a breed apart from other manatees; state no longer seeking death penalty for former FSU student in death of mother, stepfather; and more


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on


    The most famous manatee in Florida, the longtime star attraction of Bradenton's South Florida Museum, the official mascot of Manatee County, drowned in his tank on Sunday, a day after the celebration of his 69th birthday. Snooty's birth and life were so different from every other manatee's that it marked him as a breed apart. Even in death, Snooty will forever swim apart from his fellow manatees....

    Aquarium curator Carol Audette touches noses with Snooty the manatee in 2001 at the South Florida Museum. Snooty was 53 then. [Times 2001]
  6. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 28


    Lady Antebellum: The Grammy-winning trio take the stage with openers Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $26.75-$60.

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The three-day fan convention kicks off with numerous tables of comics and collectibles. Celebrity appearances today include Khary Payton (Ezekiel from The Walking Dead) and Michael Biehn from Terminator and Aliens). Noon, Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. $30-$40; $60 three days, 12 and younger free. (813) 274-8511;

    LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 02:  (L-R) Recording artists Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum perform during the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on April 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
  7. St. Pete City Council plans to discuss plastic bag ban

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A City Council committee will start considering a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags at Thursday afternoon's meeting. If it were to adopt such a measure, it would be the second city to do so in Florida.

    The five-member Energy, Natural Resources and Sustainability committee will consider the proposal at a 3:30 p.m. So far, Coral Gables is the only Florida city to have a plastic bag ban....

  8. Memory Cafe offers friendly get-togethers


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Memory Cafe, a regular get-together designed to help caregivers and people with a dementia diagnosis, is starting up in St. Petersburg. The event is billed as "an opportunity to get out, meet new people, share stories, learn a little, laugh a little and make new friends in a safe and friendly environment."

    The first St. Petersburg event will be held from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Hollander Hotel, 421 Fourth Ave. N. Meetings will be every third Wednesday at the same time and place. Like the Gulfport Memory Cafe, which launched in February, the Hollander Hotel Memory Cafe is being sponsored by dementia coach Cate McCarty, known as "Dr. Cate," and Jane Ogilvie, an elder care consultant with Senior Solutions of Pinellas County. ...

  9. Assistant city manager in Largo was a contender in Oldsmar

    Local Government

    LARGO — Assistant City Manager Mike Staffopoulos made the short list of applicants for a city manager opening in Oldsmar.

    Staffopoulos, 49, said he applied for the job because of the opportunity to grow professionally and to direct a local municipality with stable government. He wants to lead a city before he retires, he said.

    Oldsmar City Council members went with Al Braithwaite, the city's director of administrative services, to replace Bruce Haddock, who will retire in January after three decades in the top job....

  10. Ramsberger chosen for Chief Justice Award


    The Florida Supreme Court's Chief Justice presented Pinellas Circuit Judge Peter R. Ramsberger the 2017 Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence.

    Ramsberger was elected to the bench in 1990 and appointed to the Pinellas-Pasco circuit in 1997. He has created and presented at least 100 judicial educational programs, including the Florida Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Florida State University College of Law....

    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Peter R. Ramsberger was presented the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.
  11. Hudson man, 53, accused of impersonating police officer


    HUDSON — A 53-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on a charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer after the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said he pulled over a motorist and claimed to be an off-duty officer.

    The incident started at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office said, when a caller reported they had been pulled over by a black 2015 Chevrolet Yukon using flashing blue lights....

    Scott Ziegler, 53, was arrested on a charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer on Wednesday by Pasco deputies. [Courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  12. Duke Energy quietly builds a $1.5 billion plant in Citrus County


    CRYSTAL RIVER — Sequestered in a remote part of Citrus County is the most expensive development project you likely haven't heard of.

    Duke Energy Florida is about halfway through construction of its new $1.5-billion natural gas plant in Crystal River. When completed next year, the plant will help power its 1.8 million customers statewide.

    "When I came here, I was like, 'This is going to be a bear,'" Robby Armstrong, senior construction specialist for Duke overseeing the project, said. But now, Armstrong says with relief, "We're almost done." ...

    Robby Armstrong, Sr., construction specialist at Duke Energy, leads a tour through construction on the combined cycle natural gas plant at the Crystal River Energy Complex. The $1.5 billion project is the largest Duke Energy combined cycle project. Construction is about midway through and expected to be completed in 2018.
[MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  13. Another Florida man tapped for Trump administrative job


    President Donald Trump’s choice to be the next U.S. director for the African Development Bank has strong ties to the Sunshine State.

    On July 19, the White House announced J. Steven Dowd of Florida as its choice to represent the United States for the African Development Bank, a multilateral development and finance institution. Dowd owns property in Seminole County and has worked for two businesses incorporated in Florida....

    The White House is filling up on Floridians
  14. Sign up for the daily News at Noon email newsletter


    The Tampa Bay Times has launched a daily newsletter called News at Noon. It'll be the perfect way to catch up with the latest breaking news and our top stories right in your inbox each weekday.

    From sports, things to do, the latest political coverage and developments in the day's biggest stories, get up to speed during your lunch hour with News at Noon....

  15. Hillsborough approves miniscule cut to property tax rate, give $2 million to bus system


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioners on Thursday approved a decrease in the property tax rate for next year that will save most homeowners a little pocket change.

    Across the county, homeowners will pay a millage rate of 5.7913, or $5.7913 for every $1,000 in property value. Last year the rate was 5.7926.

    The deduction will save the entirety of all Hillsborough taxpayers about $100,000. As property values have continued to rise, the vast majority of taxpayers are still likely to pay more in property taxes next year....

    Passengers are seen near a bus at Westfield-Brandon Transit Center Thursday, July 13 in Brandon. On Thursday, commissioners approved a $2 million one-time payment for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times