Top Headlines Archives - Page 7 of 1677 - SaintPetersBlog

Triplets reunited as Tampa Bay Lightning continues playing well

Once again, they were magic.

Once again, they were so electric you could almost see sparks on the ice. Nikita Kucherov. Ondrej Palat. Tyler Johnson.

The Triplets.

Stop them if you can.

You remember the Lightning’s Triplets, don’t you? In 2014-15, they were the most amazing line in the National Hockey League. They led the NHL in scoring that year, and given their tender ages, it seemed they would be a success for years to come.

Ah, but injuries happened, and the line was split up, and they appeared as a trio only every now and then.

Have you looked lately? The Tampa Bay Lightning line is clicking again, a one-two-three punch that can still take over games. They were solid in Colorado, getting off 13 shots. Then, in a keeper of a win against Edmonton, they were good again in a 4-1 victory.

Palat scored two goals. Kucherov scored one and had three assists. Johnson had two assists. And the Lightning pointed for the seventh straight game. At what may be their last chance, the Bolts are finally playing well again.

“It’s not that you put them together and all of the sudden the magic starts,” said coach Jon Cooper. “It’s playing the right way before that happens. Everyone had been defending really well. All of the sudden, you have the puck more, you have the puck in the right places more.”

Tuesday night’s game was an answer as to why the team had been spinning its wheels. The Bolts need more Triplets.

“It’s fun,” said defenseman Anton Stralman. “I’ve got the best seat in the house to watch it. They have that something extra and tonight they really brought it.”

Said Johnson: “It’s been great. We haven’t had much opportunity to play together the last couple of years. Maybe a period or two here or there. There haven’t been too many times (we played together) the entire game. Last game, we played well. We had a lot of chances to score, but it just didn’t go in for us. Now they’ve started to go in and we even had more opportunities.”

So will the Triplets stay together?

“It’s getting results, so I hope so,” Johnson said. “I like playing with those guys. They’re fun to play with. They make the game a lot better.”

Palat scored the first two goals for Tampa Bay. But Edmonton came back on goal by Iiro Pakarinen, then had another goal disallowed on an off-sides. It was a rare challenge won by Tampa Bay.

Kucherov added a third goal, and Vlad Namestikov was awarded a goal when he was hooked on an empty netter with one second to play.

Tampa Bay is home Thursday night against Calgary.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Child welfare investigator, mother arrested for cocaine, heroin in home

A recently-fired employee of the Florida Department of Children and Families, who had worked as a child protection investigator since 2015, was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies on drug trafficking charges after a warrant was issued for her arrest, a spokesperson with the agency said Tuesday.

According to the Lakeland Ledger, Laymeshia Hicks, 25, turned herself into the Polk County Sheriff’s Office late Monday afternoon. She and her boyfriend, Xzaiveous Scott, 31, are each facing charges of trafficking in heroin, trafficking in cocaine, possession of a structure to traffic drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputies found the drugs in the master bedroom when they responded to an armed home-invasion call last Friday at the couple’s home, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Scott’s nephews, ages 16 and 18, were there when two intruders forced their way inside and ransacked the house Feb. 17, she said.

Investigators found 68 grams of heroin and 288 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of about $35,000, authorities said.

“The alleged actions of this individual are completely reprehensible and do not in any way reflect the values of the department” DCF spokeswoman Jessica Sims told FloridaPolitics.com late Tuesday. “We are charged with protecting the state’s most vulnerable individuals and we have extremely high standards for those tasked with carrying out this mission.

“Ms. Hicks was employed by the department in late 2015 as a child protective investigator after passing a level two background screening, and immediately upon learning of these charges, we began taking steps to terminate her employment. We will continue to assist law enforcement in any way possible,” Sims concluded.

According to the Bradenton Herald, Sheriff Grady Judd said Hicks’ 3-year-old child was living in the house.

“Are you kidding me?” Judd said. “Come on, girl, what is wrong with you?”

Judd said he thought the couple was victims of a home invasion, but he said Scott ran because he knew law enforcement would find drugs.

Scott came to the house during the investigation but later left. Detectives contacted both Scott and Hicks by phone, but they refused to meet or talk, the release said.

The Lakeland Ledger went on to give descriptions of the armed robbery suspects:

— A 5-foot, 11-inch to 6-foot, 1-inch-tall black man with a light complexion and skinny build. He was last seen wearing a camouflage-style sweatshirt and pants, black mask with a skull face, black shoes and gloves.

— A 5-foot, 10-inch-tall black man with a light complexion and husky build. He was last seen wearing a red/orange hooded sweatshirt, gray pants, black shoes, black bandanna, gray skull cap and black gloves.

Law enforcement asked that anyone with information about Scott’s whereabouts or with information regarding the robbery call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200, the Ledger reported.

Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous may call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477 or visit www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com, where they may be eligible for a cash reward.

Marilyn Meyer can be reached at marilyn.meyer@theledger.com. Follow her on Twitter @marilyn_ledger.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Red-light camera ban clears green-lighted by House committee

A House bill to ban red-light cameras cleared its final committee Tuesday and is ready for a floor vote when the 2017 Legislative Session kicks off next month.

The House Government Accountability Committee approved HB 6007 with a 13-3 vote; the only no votes came from Democratic Reps. Joe Abruzzo, Carlos Guillermo Smith and Clovis Watson.

Last month, the bill had made it through the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the House Appropriations Committee with similarly lopsided votes.

The bill would not take effect until July 1, 2020, though it would cause a substantial dip in revenue on the state and local levels. According to the Government Accountability Committee’s staff analysis, banning red-light cameras would cause the state to lose out on about $63 million in general revenue a year, while local governments would lose nearly $73 million.

Earlier this month, a Senate bill that would put an end to the cameras failed to make it through the Senate Transportation Committee, though Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell filed an identical bill Feb. 1.

Lawmakers backing a total ban on red-light cameras have pointed to a study from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that showed crashes were up more than 10 percent at intersections with cameras.

While the data shows an increase in rear-end collisions and crashes involving injuries, it did show a 3 percent decline in crashes involving running red lights and a 20 percent reduction in accidents involving pedestrians or other non-motorists.

Detractors say that study is flawed, however, because it includes crashes up to 250 feet away from intersections.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Senate committee OK’s 3 bills: job protection, veteran IDs, emergency management

Three bills were passed unanimously Tuesday by members of the Senate Military and Veteran’s Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee as legislators shuffled back into the state capital following a long holiday weekend.

Gulf Breeze Republican Doug Broxson, the committee’s vice-chair, led the 45-minute meeting.

SB 370, introduced by Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel, requires certain public and private employers to provide up to 15 days “of unpaid leave to an employee engaged in a Civil Air Patrol mission, or training,” prohibiting the firing of members of the Florida Wing of the Civil Air Patrol because of his or her absence in the duty.

SB 440, introduced by Jacksonville Democrat Audrey Gibson, who chairs the committee, expands “the list of forms of identification which a notary public may rely on in notarizing a signature on a document to include a veteran health information card,” in the event a veteran doesn’t have a state-issued ID card or driver’s license.

SB 464, introduced by Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens, creates an interagency workgroup to share information, coordinate ongoing efforts and collaborate on initiatives relating to natural hazards, and designates each relevant county director of the division of emergency management, or his or her subordinate, as the liaison to, and coordinator of, the workgroup.”

Later, Veterans Florida gave a presentation.

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Lens of time magnifies FSU experience for Oscar-nominated cinematographer

Oscar nominee and Florida State University alumnus James Laxton is coming off the best professional experience of his life on the film “Moonlight,” which is nominated for eight Academy Awards — including Best Picture.

Laxton earned an Oscar nomination for cinematography on the film and now, days before the 89th Academy Awards on Feb. 26, he’s still trying to process that news.

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet. It definitely feels surreal but in a good way,” said Laxton from his California home. “It feels amazing.”

Laxton teamed up with six other Florida State film school alumni on “Moonlight,” including his good friend Barry Jenkins, who wrote and directed the film and earned Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Laxton knew something special was happening during the filming of “Moonlight” in the fall of 2015. The crew set up in Miami’s tough Liberty City neighborhood where Jenkins and playwright Tarell McCraney grew up just blocks away from each other. Laxton said he could feel a heightened intensity unfolding during filming.

“You do feel a certain sense when you’re on set with the energy and the spirit that seems to be palpable among the collaborators around you that something special is happening,” Laxton said. “But that’s a very personal thing and not necessarily something that you feel confident would connect with as many people as ‘Moonlight’ has.”

Laxton and Jenkins met at Florida State about 15 years ago, when they shared classes in the College of Motion Picture Arts, as well as a four-bedroom house near campus. The roommates came from very different backgrounds: Laxton was from San Francisco and had grown up visiting film sets with his mother, who was a costume designer. Jenkins channeled the difficulties of his Liberty City childhood into academics and sports, and he excelled in the classroom, track and football.

But at Florida State, the two students discovered they had more similarities than differences.

“We just connected on a number of levels,” said Laxton, who graduated with Jenkins in 2003. “At the very beginning, we watched films together, talked about films together and learned what inspired and connected us. It became very clear, very quickly that we had a lot of common instinctual connections in a visual sense.

“What attracted him to filmmaking visually, attracted me to filmmaking as well. The conversations just started. When we started making short films in school, what we wanted those to look like became almost effortless conversations because we had this background of knowing what inspired each other on a personal level.”

The Jenkins-Laxton cinematic partnership grew at Florida State and continued after graduation. Laxton has become Jenkins’ go-to guy for cinematography because of their history, mindset, friendship and chemistry — all elements that together become invaluable on a film set.

“The majority of the work I’ve done has been with James,” Jenkins said. “There are things I want to set up that are very spontaneous and James is great with that. If I come up with something on the fly, I don’t have to explain every detail of why or how because James and I have the same shorthand. When you’re making a film, you want to operate with as much trust as possible.”

Laxton believes that kind of trust shared among the FSU alumni on “Moonlight” is a key reason the film has succeeded with crowds and critics.

“It allows us not to second-guess one another and to trust that someone is onto something,” Laxton said. “Let’s support them, let’s keep moving in that direction, let’s keep creating without hesitation. We all felt very at ease and trusting. That supports the creative spirit the film wanted and needed from us.”

Laxton looks back on his FSU experience as a very special time in his life in a unique location. As a native of San Francisco, he’d never experienced a place with the distinctive southern beauty of Tallahassee — the landscape of northern Florida made the learning process even more memorable. And, he discovered the school’s nurturing environment set it apart from other strong film schools around the country.

“I think not being in a major industry hub like L.A. or New York allowed me to learn the craft in a way that felt very personal, safe and comfortable,” Laxton said. “There was never the added pressure of feeling like I needed to get an internship at a studio or find commercial work as a production assistant.”

So what’s next for Laxton? The immediate future includes a new HBO project, and he’s reading lots of scripts. But he understands it will be tough to re-create his extraordinary experience working with his FSU family on “Moonlight.” It gave him a rare chance to contribute a personal perspective, or what he calls his “voice,” to a film that created such an intimate bond with so many people.

Those are the thoughts he’s been turning over in his mind since the release of “Moonlight” last October and becoming part of the film’s wild ride. Laxton is thinking about the concept of voice in filmmaking — something he thinks would be a valuable exercise for today’s film students — and he’s examining how the truths of his voice influence his work.

“The advice I would give is, just think about who you are and where you come from,” Laxton said. “What your perspectives are in the world. Be conscious of those ideas and allow them to come through how you approach a project visually.”

As for getting the FSU film school family back together on a future film project, Laxton said he’d jump at the chance to work again with his old friends and college roommate.

“I definitely would love to work with Barry again,” Laxton said. “We definitely intend to collaborate as long as we’re standing on two feet.”

Via the Florida State University News.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Defense cites Stand Your Ground law in theater shooting case

A Florida judge is hearing evidence to determine whether a retired police officer acted in self-defense when he shot a man in a movie theater in 2014.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Barthle is being asked to decide whether Curtis Reeves should be immune from prosecution under Florida’s controversial stand your ground statute. The hearing started Monday and continued Tuesday.

The law says a person has no duty to retreat when faced with a violent confrontation and can use deadly force if he or she fears death or great bodily harm.

Reeves shot 43-year-old Chad Oulson during an argument over cellphone use as movie previews played.

Prosecutors say the 74-year-old Reeves provoked the confrontation. Reeves’ attorneys say Oulson’s actions made him think he was in danger of serious assault.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

FSU has tough schedule to contend with in 2017 football season

If FSU is indeed going back to the college football playoffs this season, it will have to walk across broken glass to get there.

According to Bleacherreport.com, the Seminoles will play the fifth-toughest schedule in America in 2017, including an opening game against Alabama in Atlanta.

Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles also play Miami, at Clemson, Florida and Louisville (with Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.) Even with 16 returning starters and quarterback Deondre Francois, that’s tough duty.

Florida isn’t far behind. The Gators play the 7th-hardest schedule, starting with a neutral site game against Michigan. They play Tennessee, LSU and Georgia.

According the report, Michigan will play the toughest schedule in America, followed by Alabama, Ohio State and Rutgers.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
business incentives

Bill to kill business incentives, Enterprise Florida cleared for House floor

A House bill that would abolish the Enterprise Florida economic development organization, eliminate a throng of business incentive programs, and strip the VISIT FLORIDA tourism marketing agency down to a barebones $25 million budget cleared its second and final panel Tuesday.

That means the measure (HB 7005), OK’d by the House Appropriations Committee on an 18-12 vote, is ready to be considered by the full House when the 2017 Legislative Session begins March 7. 

The vote was another hit to Gov. Rick Scott, an advocate of both agencies and economic incentives, which he says create jobs for Floridians. In a statement, he again responded to the House with the “P” word.

“Today’s vote by politicians in the Florida House is a job killer,” the governor said. “I know some politicians … say they don’t necessarily want to abolish these programs but instead want to advance a ‘conversation.’

“This is completely hypocritical and the kind of games I came to Tallahassee to change,” he added. “Perhaps if these politicians would listen to their constituents, instead of playing politics, they would understand how hurtful this legislation will be to Florida families.”

Even if the House passes its bill as currently is, however, it could well be dead on arrival in the Senate. The House originally aimed to kill VISIT FLORIDA, then offered to keep it but with far less money.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, the St. Petersburg Republican who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development, on Tuesday filed his own economic development legislation. It would leave VISIT FLORIDA alone, and overhaul but not get rid of Enterprise Florida and incentive programs.

“The focus of economic development should be on Florida’s small businesses,” Brandes said. “Fostering a start-up culture in our state and encouraging small business development will create a better ecosystem where opportunity can thrive.”

But the House legislation is the star of GOP House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s push for more government transparency and better stewardship of the public’s money.

Corcoran had threatened to sue VISIT FLORIDA after it refused to reveal a secret deal with Miami rap superstar Pitbull to promote Florida tourism, later revealed to be worth up to $1 million. The ensuing controversy cost former agency CEO Will Seccombe his job.

That’s what got the measure support from House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa: “We need to see (VISIT FLORIDA) on the front page when they’re helping us, not embarrassing us.”

She also noted that singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett has promoted the state for years. “He’s the loser here because he never earned a dime for that,” Cruz said.

As state Rep. Paul Renner, the Palm Coast Republican behind the 190-page bill, told the committee: “No more Pitbull contracts in secret …  no more money going to a privileged few.”

An array of local economic development interests, regional tourism groups, small business advocates and small business owners themselves opposed the bill, including hoteliers, restaurateurs, and even a co-operative of Panhandle oyster farmers. 

Chris Hart, Enterprise Florida’s CEO, told lawmakers his group is “fiscally responsible. We have integrity, we are stewards of public dollars … and we take the job very seriously.”

But state Rep. David Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat who voted against the bill because of the VISIT FLORIDA reduction, said he had “nothing good to say about Enterprise Florida … I have grave concerns about the incentives paid and the return on investment.”

Give him a bill only on that organization, he added, “and I’ll kill that for you.”


After the hearing, committee chair Carlos Trujillo held a brief media availability, which can be seen in the Periscope video below:

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

City of Tampa to host public meetings regarding potential expansion of streetcar

The city of Tampa and the Florida Dept. of Transportation are currently conducting a $1.6 million study to explore the idea of expanding the Tampa Historic Streetcar, a system that has previously been considered something of a white elephant since it began operating 15 years ago.

As part of that study, city officials will hold the first of three public meetings next month to get input from the community.

With no prospects for any new sources of funding to pay for transit on the horizon, FDOT announced in 2015 that they would conduct the study in conjunction with the city of Tampa, evaluating the potential extension of the streetcar system from its current western terminus at Whiting and Franklin Street in downtown, up through to the Marion Transit Center and potentially to Tampa Heights.

The first meeting with the public will take place on Tuesday, March 7 at the Tampa Bay History Museum from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. City officials are calling it a “community brainstorm session” where residents will hear about the planning process and then provide input back to the planning team about the purpose of the project and about the needs of the downtown Tampa community for transportation options.

“Our urban core demands more transportation options. The streetcar system is an underutilized asset and we are taking a hard look at its future. A potential extension of the system through downtown could open up connections to new neighborhoods, jobs, and entertainment.,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “The goal of this planning process is to take the first step towards creating another viable transportation choice for Tampa.”

Other meetings are scheduled for April 4 and May 2. The first phase of the study is expected to be completed early this summer.  If the results of the feasibility analysis are positive, a second phase will be initiated to select a preferred alternative and refine plans and strategies.

The $2.7 million Historic Streetcar system opened in 2002 and has struggled ever since to build ridership. Part of the problem some official said is the lack of frequency of routes. Traditionally the service doesn’t begin until 11 a.m. , but there is a pilot project that has been ongoing for months experimenting with beginning service at 7 a.m.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Tampa pizzeria shot at by UberEats driver now faces eviction

A Tampa pizza shop shot at by an UberEats driver in January is now facing another attack — eviction over unpaid rent.

New Port Richey resident Amy Abdallah, 38, is the co-owner of Crusty’s Pizza. In late 2015, Amy and her husband Tony Abdallah agreed to lease a commercial property to operate Crusty’s  at 6607 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa.

Fredrika Lundgren is listed as the landlord. Records also suggest Tony Abdallah could be the same person as 39-year-old Ahmed El Sayed Abdallah.

The five-year lease was agreed to last through the end of 2020.

But according to a lawsuit filed Feb. 7, the Abdallah’s have not paid rent since June 2016, with an accumulated $15,868.

Lundgren seeks to evict Crusty’s and collect the unpaid rent.

An eviction notice is only the most recent problem facing Crusty’s.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, Tony Abdallah had sent away an UberEats driver who arrived at Crusty’s “under the influence.”

Furious, the driver allegedly shot at least five rounds at the building with a BB gun, which the Tampa Bay Times described as “narrowly missing the couple’s 18-year-old daughter doing prep work in the kitchen.”

“It was very traumatizing,” Abdallah told Fox 13 News. “My husband asked him, ‘Do you have a heating bag to carry food in?’ and he became very angry and started screaming profanities.”

The driver then drove away, returning later to shoot two more times into Crusty’s front window, also hitting an adjoining Korean restaurant.

“I’ve never met someone who got so angry and cussed so much, not being able to deliver pizza,” Abdallah said.

Uber told reporters they suspended the unidentified driver.

Although Fredrika Lundgren is the plaintiff in the past due rent complaint, the attached lease identifies her as the landlord. Per the Hillsborough County property appraiser, the listed property owner is Paul Stephenson, Lundgren’s husband.

Addresses for both Stephenson and Lundgren are in Albia, Iowa.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons