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  1. Family Promise spurs homeless empathy with Box Car City


    BRANDON — On the night of April 28, the grounds surrounding the First Presbyterian Church of Brandon will be lined with boxes.

    Some of those boxes will be decorated with papers and streamers, others will represent a favorite sports team.

    All of the boxes, however, will be home for the night to participants in Family Promise of Greater Brandon's fourth annual fundraiser, Box Car City, which gives guests a glimpse into the hardships of homelessness....

    Susan Raines participated in the Family Promise of Greater Brandon's 2016 fundraiser, Box Car City, which was held inside due to weather. Photo courtesy of Edwina Reddick.
  2. Grammy-award winner to perform at Brandon's Bell Shoals Baptist


    Bell Shoals Baptist Church will welcome Grammy Award-winning Christian music singer Francesca Battistelli at 7:30 p.m. on Friday (April 28) on the Brandon campus, 2102 Bell Shoals Road.

    Battistelli will perform with the Bell Shoals Worship Ministry Choir under the direction of Pastor of Music and Worship Justin Millsaps.

    Battistelli, 31, released her first studio album in 2008 and her first Grammy nomination in 2009. Her song "Holy Spirit," from her latest album "If We're Honest," won Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song at the 2016 Grammys. Her music has been at #1 on the Christian charts and in the top 20 for pop....

    Grammy-winning Christian music star Francesca Battistelli will perform with the Worship Ministry at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon on April 28.
  3. Rays Tales podcast: Matt Duffy's rehab, Chad Mottola's career, Todd Kalas' return


    In episode 4 of our Rays Tales podcast, Times beat writer Marc Topkin talks with rehabbing shortstop Matt Duffy about how tough it is to watch and what podcasts he likes to listen to, Chad Mottola about his playing career and how it shaped his philosophies as a hitting coach and longtime Rays TV man Todd Kalas about his return to the Trop....

    Marc Topkin talks with rehabbing shortstop Matt Duffy about how tough it is to watch his teammates play without him.
  4. Review: Divine, bloody 'American Gods' has us ready to worship this series

    The Feed

    Get ready to worship. Hot and heavenly American Gods on Starz is about to convert us all.

    If a holy war between deities isn't thrilling enough, the all-star cast of Ian McShane (Deadwood), Ricky Whittle (The 100), Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) and Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow) will have you swooning.

    The series adapts the novel from Neil Gaiman, exploring the brewing war between old and new gods, vying for the worship of millions of modern humans....

    n Yetide Badaki plays Bilquis, a version of the Queen of Sheba.
  5. Find A Friend: Bristol, the Cat


    A Megaesophagus is not a type of dinosaur, nor is it a fatal condition. But Bristol is a miraculous kitty. Shortly after her foster family took in Bristol, she stopped retaining weight. Veterinarians rendered a grim diagnosis, but they completely underestimated the power of a determined American Shorthair and her hip and handy foster dad. He'd seen her digestive condition before and responded with a custom-built feline dining chair. She now thrives on delicious wet food and has begun interviewing for a forever-home to co-exist with other cats, dogs, and mature children. To adopt 8-month-old Bristol fully spayed, vaccinated, microchipped and more, visit, or find them on Facebook @StFrancisAnimalRescue....

    8-month-old Bristol is  fully spayed, vaccinated, microchipped.
  6. News at Noon: Water restrictions on the horizon; judge seeks to end logjam in Scientology case; bills would cap workers' comp lawyer fees; Fisher defends Dalvin Cook's character


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on


    As parched conditions persist in west central Florida, the region's water management district has put residents on notice: Water restrictions could be coming. The Southwest Florida Water Management District's Governing Board voted Tuesday to declare a Phase 1 water shortage in the district's 16 counties, which include Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando. The main purpose of the declaration is to alert the public that watering restrictions could be on the horizon....

    Watering schedules remain unchanged, but the declaration prohibits "wasteful and unnecessary" water use, according to a news release from the district commonly known as Swiftmud. [Times files]
  7. Sheriff's Office: Deputies roll up to house party as intoxicated teen jumps off roof


    Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies said they were already called to the house in unincorporated Largo twice for complaints about a loud party.

    They issued two warnings and told the host, 20-year-old Salvador Andres Contreras, to keep it down, according to his arrest report.

    As they rolled up a third time just after 1 a.m. on April 23, an intoxicated 17-year-old boy jumped off the roof of the one-story house at 13461 Del Prado Drive S. They also saw several people drinking and smelled marijuana inside the house....

  8. Nestle Professional shutting down Tampa office, relocating employees


    TAMPA — Nestle Professional has begun rolling out severance packages as it lays off 45 employees serving its downtown Tampa offices, smaller than expected when it first announced the pullout in November 2016.

    About 30 of those positions are in Tampa, while 15 were remote salespeople.

    Nestle Professional, the food and beverage division of Nestle Global, is combining its food and beverage divisions and relocating operations to its headquarters in Solon, Ohio, and a branch in Thonotosassa....

    Nestle has begun offering severance packages as it pulls out of its offices in downtown Tampa. [Times file photo]
  9. Things to do Planner: Broadway's Aaron Tveit, gamer comedy Let's Play Live, Egypt Shrine Circus


    BROADWAY WONDER: Aaron Tveit

    The handsome star of Grease: Live! and Les Misérables, Aaron Tveit brings the best of his on-stage charm and voice to Ferguson Hall at Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. His career is like a theater kid fantasy, from playing in Rent at the Hollywood Bowl, to originating the role of Frank Abagnale Jr. in the Catch Me If You Can musical to playing Danny Zuko in Grease: Live! on Fox. The show promises to be full of popular rock covers with some Broadway mixed in at 7 p.m. Sunday. 1010 N MacInnnes Place, Tampa. $35.50-$55.50. (813) 229-7827.

    Actor Aaron Tveit attends the “Grease: Live” Panel & Reception at The Edison Ballroom on August 15, 2016 in New York City.
  10. Art Planner: Contemporary fiber art showcase, Construct celebrates architectural art

    Visual Arts


    Fiber arts are the star of the new exhibition opening Friday at Florida CraftArt in St. Petersburg. Don't expect to find your granny's crocheted afghans here; Contemporary Fiber in Florida showcases work by Florida artists who take contemporary, innovative approaches to fiber art and fresh interpretations of the traditional types. This movement of fine art encompasses a diverse range of media, from basketry to wearables to abstracts, like Stephen Sidelinger's pictured piece, A Cautionary Tale, created with embroidery floss. Florida CraftArt makes a weekend of the exhibition's opening, including workshops on surface design, tapestry and basketry and a curator's talk from Cindy Bartosek. The free opening reception happens from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday at 501 Central Ave.

    A Cautionary Tale, by Venice artist Stephen Sidelinger, created with embroidery floss, is part of the Contemporary Fiber in Florida exhibit at Florida CraftArt.
  11. 5 things to do under $5: Fabulous Thunderbirds in Clearwater, Dragon Boat Races


    1Blast Friday: You get a free concert at this downtown Clearwater block party. This month brings the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the quintessential American band on such barn-burners as Tuff Enuff and Wrap It Up. Co-founder Kim Wilson still spearheads the group. 5:30-10 p.m. Friday. 400 block of Cleveland Street, Clearwater.

    2Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Races: It's free for spectators to watch paddlers from around the globe compete in the waters of Garrison Channel. This event features 400-meter sprints on a fully buoyed course. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, 601 Old Water St., Tampa. (813) 569-1030. ...

  12. Falcons receiver shares letter from mother saying he inspired her son during flight


    Even in private moments, athletes can find themselves in the public eye.

    In the case of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, something as simple as his behavior on a routine flight recently became a source of inspiration for a young athlete.

    Sanu on Friday tweeted a photo of a letter a woman who sat behind him along with her son handed him as he disembarked. She told him to read it later and walked away....

    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu comes down with a catch in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves during a game in Tampa in November. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  13. Eaters will crown wieners at event-packed RiverFest in Tampa


    It's all about wieners and winners this weekend at RiverFest in downtown Tampa.

    The big addition to the third annual celebration of the Tampa Riverwalk is Saturday's Hot Dog Festival at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, which includes the crowning of "Tampa Bay's Best Hot Dog" through public voting, an eating competition and a "wiener dog derby."

    Admission to RiverFest events is free, but for the price of a $13 wristband you can sample hot dog entries from local restaurants and cast a vote for the area's best from 4 to 8 p.m....

    The balloon glow, a highlight of last year's Riverfest, is returning to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. [Riverfest]
  14. From St. Pete to Cannes: Web series showcases Pinellas filmmaking with zero state money

    The Feed

    Created and recorded in St. Petersburg on a shoestring budget, BTS is a wacky web series about an indie film company where staff meetings generate ideas ranging from bad to terrible.

    "It's Waterworld meets the Muppets," says a character in the first episode, offering up his ridiculous pitch for a new project. "Five samurai, and they're all looking for Kanye West," says another. One character sings a song about her promiscuous cat....

    BTS main cast members get pitched movie ideas in a scene filmed at Litewave Studios. (Left to right: Chris Cavalier, Lucius Baston, Alison Burns, Chris Jackson, Alissa Schneider) [Litewave Studios]
  15. Pinellas law enforcement agencies participate in annual Special Olympics Torch Run

    Human Interest

    Law enforcement agencies from across Pinellas County are participating in the 25th annual Special Olympics Torch Run on Wednesday.

    The run began at 8:15 a.m. at the St. Petersburg Police Department and will end at Paul B. Stephens school in Clearwater around 1 p.m.

    The torch is passed to runners from different Pinellas agencies in a relay as Special Olympics athletes greeting runners along the way and at the end of the race. ...