5 things you need to know happening in Florida on Thursday, March 13, 2014

TAMPA - Here are five things you need to know happening in Florida on Thursday, March 13, 2014.

(1) Keosha Jones sentencing

Keosha Jones is scheduled to be sentenced in Federal Court in downtown Tampa on Thursday.

Jones was arrested last year for allegedly sex trafficking two 14-year-old runaways.

Authorities say Jones posted nude pictures of the girls to classified ad website www.backpage.com and then made them perform sex acts at the Bayway Motel in St. Petersburg.

Jones and her boyfriend allegedly kept all the cash the teens collected.

According to detectives, the girls said they thought Jones would kill them if they didn't make money.

After originally pleading not guilty, Jones changed her plea in September, admitting she conspired to sex traffic the teens.

Jones faces up to life in prison when Judge Richard Lazzara sentences her at 9:00 a.m. today.

(2) Hillsborough River green dye test

Crews will test dye a small portion of the Hillsborough River in preparation for the 2014 Mayor's River O'Green.

The dye is potable water grade, non-toxic, and biodegradable. It is primarily used to trace leaks and in large bodies of water.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will host the third annual Mayor's River O'Green on Saturday in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, crews will dye the Hillsborough River kelly green between Cass Street Bridge and Kennedy Bridge.

Today's dye test will occur at 9:30 a.m. at the boat docks at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

For more information about Saturday's holiday celebration, visit tampagov.net/riverogreen .

(3) Valspar Championship

The Valspar Championship begins on Thursday morning on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

One hundred and forty-four PGA players will compete to try to win a check of $1,026,000.

Thursday and Friday's pairings can be found on PGATour.com. The event's three most recent champions, Kevin Streelman (2013), Luke Donald (2012) and Gary Woodland (2011), will tee off together at 8:10 a.m. on the 10th tee.

One afternoon pairing includes popular golfers Jason Dufner, Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker starting at 1:10 on the 1st tee.

Children 15 and under will be admitted free with a ticketed adult.

Public parking is $10 a day. You can park in Lot #1 located at the southwest corner of Belcher Road and Klosterman Road.

The PGA Tour implemented new guidelines this year on what guest can bring to PGA events. For a complete list of allowable and prohibited items, visit www.valsparchampionship.com/security-guidelines/ .

(4) Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning will attempt to end their longest losing streak of the season when they host the Florida Panthers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday night.

The Lightning have lost five straight games in a room and 10 of their past 13 games. Right now Tampa Bay finds themselves just two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, which holds the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

All-Star center Steven Stamkos has no points on eight shots in three games since he returned after missing 45 games with a broken tibia.

The Lightning has already defeated the Panthers three times this season.

Like Tampa Bay, Florida has lost 10 of their last 13 games. The Panthers are just 24-34-7 this year.

The opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit lightning.nhl.com .

(5) Mitch Albom opens Ernie in Lakeland

New York Times bestselling author Mitch Albom will be in Lakeland on Thursday for the opening of his play, Ernie.

Albom is best known as the author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

His play is about legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell who is about to deliver his final farewell to fans at Comerica Park in Detroit. In the play Harwell meets a magical boy who convinces Ernie to give his final broadcast, not of a baseball game, but of his life.

The play has run for three summers in Detroit. For the first time, Ernie is being staged in Lakeland, the spring training home of the Tigers.

Albom will be in Lakeland for the opening night performance. He will host a talk back with the actors after the show for the audience.

Tonight's performance begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Polk Theatre in Lakeland.

The play will run through March 31. Show times vary between 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. depending on the day.

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling (863) 682-7553 or visit www.polktheatre.org .

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