Friday, December 15, 2017
Breaking News

News at noon: Joe Biden slams Hillary Clinton; deputies arrest SUV owner in Pasco hit-and-run case; Armwood football coach resigns; Bucs sign veteran backup quarterback

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:

JOE BIDEN SLAMS HILLARY CLINTON

Joe Biden has a reputation for saying what's on his mind, and on Thursday night, he reportedly didn't hold back at all about former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. "I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate," Biden reportedly told an audience of hedge fund managers at the annual SALT conference in Las Vegas. "No man or woman should announce for the presidency unless they genuinely believe that for that moment in the nation's history they are the most qualified person to deal with the issues facing the country," Biden continued, according to TheStreet's Ronald Orol.

ANTHONY WEINER TO PLEAD GUILTY TO RESOLVE SEXTING INQUIRY

Anthony Weiner, the former Democratic congressman whose "sexting" scandals ended his political career and embroiled him in a tumultuous FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton before the election, is to appear in a federal courtroom in New York City on Friday to enter a guilty plea. The federal authorities have been investigating reports that, beginning in January 2016, Weiner, then 51, exchanged sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

PASCO DEPUTIES ARREST SUV OWNER IN HIT-AND-RUN, ACCUSE HER OF FILING FALSE STOLEN VEHICLE REPORT

The hit-and-run incident that left a 14-year-old injured earlier this week has taken a sudden turn: A 22-year-old woman was arrested Thursday night and accused of falsely reporting that the sport-utility vehicle involved in the incident was stolen.

THIRD GRADERS IMPROVE PASSING RATE ON FLORIDA STANDARDS ASSESSMENT READING TEST

Florida's third graders had a higher percentage passing the state language arts test this spring than last, the second consecutive increase on the annual exam that helps determine whether children move into fourth grade.

FLORIDA UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS TO 4.5 PERCENT

Florida's unemployment fell from 4.8 percent in March to 4.5 percent in April, the latest sign that the state's economy is strengthening and the job market is tightening.

TRUMP BACKERS IN FLORIDA: PROTECT HAITIANS

Donald Trump supporters in Florida are urging him to extend a program allowing Haitians to stay in the U.S. "Our friends in the Haitian community need your help. We strongly urge you to instruct the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitian nationals living in the United States," reads a letter sent to the president.

CLEARWATER AUTO LENDER SEES SHARES DROP IN WAKE OF QUARTERLY LOSS, RISK REVIEW

Clearwater specialty auto lender Nicholas Financial saw its shares drop Friday morning to their lowest price since 2010 in the wake of a quarterly loss and an announced effort to tighten the company's risk assessment tools when making loans.

MOTORCYCLIST CRASHES INTO ALLIGATOR IN LITHIA, IS SERIOUSLY INJURED

A Wimauma motorcyclist was seriously injured early Friday morning after he crashed into an alligator in Lithia. Around 12:28 a.m., Calun Nelson, 27, was traveling westbound on State Road 674, west of Katie Stanaland Road, when he struck the 10-foot, 9-inch gator as it crossed into Nelson's path, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

ARMWOOD FOOTBALL COACH SEAN CALLAHAN RESIGNS

Armwood coach Sean Callahan, who turned the football program into a state powerhouse, has resigned. This fall was supposed to be Callahan's final season. He was in the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program), a lucrative package for teachers who have leave the profession within five years after signing up.

Callahan had to accelerate his departure and told the players after Thursday night's jamboree.

BUCS OPT FOR EXPERIENCE BEHIND WINSTON, SIGN FITZPATRICK

No longer content to enter training camp without an experienced backup for Jameis Winston, the Bucs have signed vagabond veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick, who was a starter the past two seasons for the Jets, has played for six NFL teams in his career.

TRIPLE CROWN: WHY 'ALWAYS DREAMING' IS REASON TO KEEP DREAMING

Always Dreaming, which plodded through the mud and muck and slop two weeks ago to win the Kentucky Derby by nearly three lengths, has the pedigree to win the Triple Crown. He is the son of Bodemeister, which won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2012. When he breaks out of the gates at the Preakness Saturday, Always Dreaming will try to become the 15th horse since Affirmed to win the first two races of the Triple Crown. Don't be surprised if he does, Tom Jones writes.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

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Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and …

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and …

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Updated: 8 minutes ago

FHP: Overturned vehicle reported on northbound Howard Frankland

ST. PETERSBURG — Drivers should avoid the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge for a while: The Florida Highway Patrol is responding to a report of an overturned vehicle there.The incident was reported at 2:11 p.m. on northbound Interstate 275, near mi...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Traffic grew heavy, and so did contractions, so Plant City mom delivers in car

Traffic grew heavy, and so did contractions, so Plant City mom delivers in car

BRANDON — Christine Stallworth had experienced false labor before so she decided to ignore the contractions she was feeling Thursday as she and her husband Clifford drove their two boys from home in Plant City to school in Tampa.But this time, 10 day...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Pour Taproom, a craft beer bar with 85 taps that customers pour their own brew from, will open at noon on Saturday, Dec. 16. The nearly 2,300-square-foot bar at 225 Second Ave. N has undergone extensive renovations, including a St. Petersburg-themed...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Updated: 1 hour ago

AOL Instant Messenger is no more, and it’s okay your inner 13-year-old is crying

Saying goodbye to an old friend stings.On the morning of Dec. 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger died.Take a moment to allow the 13-year-old inside of you let out a deep sob; think about the bulletin you wish you could post to your MySpace page about ho...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Three months later, the Pinellas County school district has totaled up the costs of operating 16 schools as shelters for 25,000 evacuees during Hurricane Irma.The district is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for a reimbursemen...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Being your own lawyer: bad idea. People in Tampa Bay do it anyway.

Being your own lawyer: bad idea. People in Tampa Bay do it anyway.

LARGO — Daniel Richards walked into the courtroom in his orange jail scrubs. Carrying a stack of papers, he stood in front of Pinellas Circuit judge Chris Helinger as she glanced at the handwritten documents he filed days earlier."I foresee foul play...
Updated: 1 hour ago