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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

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  1. USF dismisses arrested safety Hassan Childs from program

    College

    USF senior safety Hassan Childs, arrested Monday for his part in a suspected road-rage incident, is no longer part of the Bulls program, first-year coach Charlie Strong announced Tuesday.

    Childs, 22, was shot after twice pointing a gun at a car carrying a family of three late Saturday night near campus, Tampa police said. It's unclear if he remained hospitalized Tuesday, but Strong said a full recovery is expected....

  2. FSU's Dalvin Cook would love to reunite with Bucs' Jameis Winston

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — Running back Dalvin Cook played only one season at Florida State with current Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, but the idea of a reunion if Tampa Bay were to draft him with the No. 19 pick in next month's draft is, much like Cook, an exciting prospect.

    "Longtime brother. Great bond. Jameis is a player I look up to as a role model," Cook said Tuesday after finishing his pro day in front of NFL scouts and coaches at Florida State. "To be in the backfield again would be something special. I feel like we started to build a bond when he was at Florida State, so it would be something special."...

    Dalvin Cook runs a drill for NFL scouts during Florida State's pro day, Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC104
  3. Veterans Rickie Weeks, Tommy Hunter make Rays roster; Peter Bourjos trade completed

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — The first challenge for veterans Tommy Hunter and Rickie Weeks was showing the Rays after signing minor-league deals that they were worthy of earning spots on the opening day roster, and both got word in advance of Tuesday's contractual deadline that they had.

    Next comes the opportunity to play significant roles.

    In adding Hunter to their bullpen and Weeks to their lineup at least against left-handers, the Rays are turning to experienced options in hopes of big returns. They seem likely to do so again in acquiring outfielder Peter Bourjos on Tuesday from the White Sox but will wait until closer to the noon Sunday roster deadline — an hour before their opener against the Yankees — to decide for sure....

    Rickie Weeks has had an impressive camp while adjusting to a new position, first base.
  4. Rays vs. Orioles, 1:05 p.m. Wednesday, Port Charlotte

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Orioles, 1:05

    Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte

    Pitchers: Rays, Erasmo Ramirez, Orioles, Kevin Gausman

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM

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

    On deck

    Thursday: Twins, 1:05 p.m. Rays, Jake Odorizzi; Twins, Hector Santiago

    Friday: at Phillies, Clearwater, 1:05 p.m. Rays, TBA; Phillies, TBA...

  5. Rays journal: New catcher Derek Norris working fast to get to know pitchers

    The Heater

    FORT MYERS — Newly acquired C Derek Norris dialed up his crash course Tuesday on Rays Pitching 101 against the Twins, when he put down his iPad and saw them throw live from behind the plate.

    "It's definitely a speed course," Norris said.

    Norris caught the first seven innings and worked with RHPs Chris Archer, Danny Farquhar, Chase Whitley and Austin Pruitt....

    New Rays catcher Derek Norris chats with the Twins’ Brian Dozier while catching his new teammates for seven innings.
  6. Shell Key brushfire may have started with careless camper, deputies say

    Public Safety

    TIERRA VERDE — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies are investigating the cause of a brush fire that swept across more than an acre of wooded land on the south side of Shell Key Preserve on Tuesday.

    The fire was reported about 12:50 p.m. Firefighters from Hillsborough County, Lealman, St. Pete Beach, Tampa and St. Petersburg spent nearly three hours trying to contain the blaze.

    Investigators say that no one was on Shell Key Preserve when fire crews arrived, but there was evidence that someone had recently been camping there....

    A brush fire broke out in a wooded area on the south side of Shell Key Preserve in Tierra Verde Tuesday afternoon and grew to about an acre. Investigators believe campers may not have properly extinguished a campfire. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  7. McDonald's All-American Game: Kevin Knox attracts pint-sized media moguls

    Preps

    CHICAGO — Hayden McCain started playing basketball three years ago. His younger brother, Hudson, joined him a year later.

    Since then, the sport has played a dominant role in their lives. The two hone their skills night and day on the family's backyard court in St. Petersburg. But they wanted to be more involved in basketball so they started making videos.

    The short clips include everything from drills to reviews of the latest sneakers....

    Brothers Hudson, middle, and Hayden McCain interview Kevin Knox for their YouTube channel.
  8. Largo police: Pinellas school teacher arrested on child pornography charges

    Crime

    LARGO — A sixth-grade social studies teacher was arrested Tuesday after police said they found child pornography on his computer.

    The pornography, which police said was found on the personal laptop of Robert James Plotkin, was downloaded from the Internet and included images of children ages 3 to 17. But none of the teacher's students were included in those images, said Largo police Lt. Joe Coyle....

    Robert James Plotkin, a 57-year-old teacher at Clearwater Intermediate, was arrested Tuesday on 10 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of tampering with physical evidence, according to Largo police. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  9. Jalen Tabor's mouth remains fast, legs not so much at UF's pro day

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Cornerback Jalen Tabor's mouth never fled from a challenge in three seasons with the Gators, so it's no surprise that he kept talking the talk Tuesday, even after running a startlingly slow 40-yard dash that could knock him out of the first round in next month's NFL draft.

    "It's not going to be my loss if you pass on me," Tabor said after Florida's pro day. "I'm going to be in this league for a long time. Somebody could lose their job if they pass on me, so I ain't mad at it." ...

    Linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) tests at the vertical leap station during Florida's NFL Pro Day in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) GVP111
  10. Pinellas school news: Pinellas offers a second shot at choice programs; art students are honored, and more

    K12

    Late Application Period offers students another shot at choice programs

    Nearly 50 choice programs in the Pinellas County school system still have open seats available for the 2017-18 academic year. Students can apply during the annual Late Application Period, now under way, using the Student Reservation System. The seats remain open after the initial application process that took place in January and February. The district has lifted geographic restrictions for the programs, so students can apply from throughout the county. However, families will have to provide their own transportation if they live outside a program's initial application area. The programs with open seats include: the Center for Computer Technologies at Countryside High; the Center for Culinary Arts at Dixie Hollins High; the Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Countryside High; the Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy at Tarpon Springs High; Azalea Middle School's Middle Grades Engineering Gateway to Technology; the Center for Gifted Studies at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle; the Pre-Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) program at Pinellas Park Middle; the Leadership Conservatory/Pre Cambridge AICE program at Tarpon Springs Middle; and Montessori Academy at Gulfport Elementary School. For a full list of programs with openings and more information about Pinellas school choice programs and how to apply, visit pcsb.org/choice. ...

    The Pinellas County school system’s Book Bus will show up at Summer Bridge sites and community centers as part of the district’s summer reading initiative.
  11. Afternoon update: Panuccio is highest ranking Floridian in Trump's administration; hospitals face Medicaid cuts in first drafts of state budget; Cuban sandwich festival has become international competition; what is Bucs' plan behind Winston?

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

    FOR NOW, PANUCCIO IS HIGHEST RANKING FLORIDIAN IN TRUMP'S ADMINISTRATION

    Most Florida political junkies assumed Attorney General Pam Bondi would wind up with a plum, high-profile job in the Trump administration, a reward for her early endorsement of the New York billionaire and part-time Floridian. Turns out, however, that the Floridian who so far has landed the most influential administration gig is someone who struggled to get confirmed by fellow Republicans in the Florida Senate. Jesse Panuccio, Gov. Rick Scott's former general counsel and jobs chief, is acting associate attorney general of the United States, the third highest ranking official at the Department of Justice....

    Jesse Panuccio, Gov. Rick Scott's former general counsel and jobs chief, is acting associate attorney general of the United States, the third highest ranking official at the Department of Justice. [AP photo]
  12. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for March 29

    Events

    Chasco Fiesta: Located adjacent to the park on Bank Street, this year's nine-day festival carnival has a midway with a special area for younger children offering them more minimally frightening rides. 5 p.m., Sims Park, 5547 Main St., New Port Richey. Free to attend. Wristband for carnival rides: $15-$25 (varies by day). (727) 842-6055.

    St. Petersburg International Baseball: Canada vs. Philadelphia: The seventh season of international baseball features a series of games with Team Canada and the Puerto Rican National Team going to bat with MLB prospect teams and world all-stars. 1:05 p.m., Walter Fuller Baseball Complex, 7901 30th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $10 (Walter Fuller games), Free (Huggins-Stengel). (727) 892-5065....

    The Chasco Fiesta runs March 24-April 1 in downtown New Port Richey featuring 9 days of activities including carnival rides, music, boat and street parades, a Native American Festival and more.
  13. King of the comebacks? Lightning makes a case this season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When exactly did you give up on the Lightning?

    Was it when captain Steven Stamkos suffered a knee injury in mid-November, forcing him to miss most of the season? Or when Tampa Bay fell to last place in the Eastern Conference on Feb. 4?

    Maybe it was when Tampa Bay became sellers at the March 1 trade deadline, shipping away two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop, plus veterans Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula. ...

    Victor Hedman's second goal 46 seconds into overtime sealed a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes on March 2. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  14. Hernando Briefs for March 31

    Briefs

    COUNTYWIDE

    AARP to offer driver safety program

    AARP Driver Safety Program classes are available at various locations. The cost for each six-hour course is $15 for AARP members (bring membership card) and $20 for nonmembers. These classes are scheduled in April:

    • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 5, Brooksville Enrichment Center, Suite 120, Bayfront Health Brooksville Medical Arts Building, 17222 Hospital Blvd., west of Brooksville. Call Pat at (352) 586-2731....

  15. Vivica A. Fox joins Moffitt Cancer Center board of advisors

    Corporate

    Actress Vivica A. Fox is the latest well-known addition to Moffitt Cancer Center's national board of advisors.

    "She has felt the pain of losing loved ones to cancer, and she feels deeply about finding ways to defeat the disease," Bob Griese, Pro Football Hall of Famer and chair of Moffitt's board of directors, said in a release on Tuesday.

    Fox has previously been involved with cancer patients. Her wig company, Vivica Fox Hair Collection, has a line of wigs specifically for cancer patients. ...

    Vivica A. Fox joined Moffitt Cancer Center's national board of advisors.
[Photo courtesy of Moffitt Cancer Center]