5 things you need to know happening in Florida on Wednesday, February 20

TAMPA - Here are five things you need to know happening in Florida on Wednesday, February 20.

(1) Janet Napolitano in Florida

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will be in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami on Wednesday.

Napolitano will join Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to see customs and security operations at Port Everglades and Miami International Airport.

The Secretary is expected to discuss the Homeland Security Department's on-going efforts to facilitate lawful travel and trade.

(2) Charlie Crist talks to UT students

Former Governor Charlie Crist is scheduled to speak at the University of Tampa on Wednesday as part of the school's 2012-2013 Florida Governor's Leadership Forum.

The program is intended as a way for students, such as those who are campus leaders, leadership minors or Presidents' Leadership Fellows, to have an open and intimate discussion with the former governors.

The forum is being coordinated by Pam Iorio. The former Tampa Mayor is the leader-in-residence in UT's TECO Center for Leadership at the Sykes College of Business.

Former Governor Bob Graham spoke as part of the Leadership Forum series on November 27.

Crist's presentation is not open to the public.

(3) Synthetic drug ban proposal

The Hillsborough County Commission is holding a public hearing on Wednesday regarding a proposed ordinance that would ban synthetic drugs in the county.

It would outlaw the possession, sale, display for sale, or manufacture of synthetic drugs known by such names as K2 or Spice.

The ordinance will assist law enforcement officers to combat the rise in the sale and use of the dangerous drugs.

Synthetic marijuana-like drugs have been known to hallucinations, vomiting, agitation and other dangerous effects.

Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the ban ordinance at 2:00 p.m.

(4) Bass Pro Shops road improvement vote

The Hillsborough County Commission is scheduled to vote on an agreement on Wednesday to share the costs of road improvements for the proposed Estuary commercial complex.

The Estuary would be located between Interstate 75 and Falkenburg Road. The retail complex would be anchored by a 145,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops store. It would also feature a hotel and office space.

The agreement would allow for $6.25 million of taxpayers' money to be used to build an extension of Palm River Road and widen Falkenburg Road. Developer David Verardo's I-75/Palm River Road LLC would be responsible for the remaining costs of improvements.


Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the agreement at 10:00 a.m. in the County Center in downtown Tampa.

(5) McKechnie Field renovation grand opening

The Pittsburgh Pirates are holding a grand opening unveiling of the renovated McKechnie Field in Bradenton on Wednesday.

The stadium is spring home for the Pirates and also the home park for the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates' Single-A Florida State League affiliate.

The $10 million project features a number of new amenities for fans.

There is a new boardwalk allowing fans to circle the entire ballpark for the first time. The Fan Plaza inside the main gate has been expanded and includes new concessions and restroom facilities.

More shaded seating areas have been added around the park. Fans will also enjoy the new Left Field Party Deck and the Boardwalk Barbeque Area for group picnics.

For more information about the McKechnie Field renovation, call (941) 747-3031 or visit     www.bradentonmarauders.com.

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