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TAKING ROOT

Groveland’s aquaponic farm offers a healthy way to grow food. LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE

Eat these foods and be well.

FEB '21

VILLAGE EDITION

FE ATURIN G

AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME

Meet the multimillion real estate producers in Lake and Sumter counties.

FULL HOUSES The real estate industry in Lake and Sumter counties remains strong.

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SHARON BASSETT B R O K E R / O W N E R BASSETT PREMIER REALTY


E.R. care backed by a name you trust. More than ever, you want to be sure of where to turn for quality care, the moment you need it most. As part of the only regional health care system backed by the experts at University of Florida Health, our emergency room offers advanced stroke and cardiac care, air medical services, lifesaving treatments and access to over 100 specialists — right where you call home. Learn more at: TheVillagesHospital.org

Close. Caring. Connected.

THE VILLAGES® is a federally registered trademark of Holding Company of The Villages®, Inc., and is used under license. UF Health The Villages® Hospital is a part of University of Florida Health.


THE VILLAGES ®

1560 Santa Barbara Blvd 1950 Laurel Manor Dr, Ste. 142 8485 SE 165th Mulberry Ln Dr. Glick 1501 N US Hwy 441, Ste. 1102

SPECIALIZING IN

Primary Care Cardiology Vascular Surgery URGENT CARE Nephrology 201 La Grande Blvd, Lady Lake Lab Services OPENING 2021 Brownwood ® Center for Limb Preservation LEESBURG Radiology Services 511 Medical Plaza Drive, Ste. 101 Vascular Access Center Dr. Bello 25010 US Hwy 27, Units G&H 601 E Dixie Ave, Ste. 805 Urgent Care 802 E. Dixie Ave URGENT CARE

27637 US Hwy 27 352.350.5704 fhvhealth.com


DR. RICH CASTELLANO FACIAL SPECIALIST SURGICAL AND NON-SURGICAL

FACELIFTS (SURGICAL AND NON SURGICAL) FACIAL POLISHING (CO2, IPL, SKINPEN MICRONEEDLING) FACIAL SCULPTING (FILLER, WRINKLE RELAXERS)

Liz had ImageLift, Laser, and filler treatments. Results are typical and do vary.

Kathy had a Laser ImageLift. Results are typical and do vary.

888.875.3223


YOU ARE INVITED SOCIAL DISTANCING SEMINAR FOLLOWING CDC GUIDELINES

WATERFRONT INN SEMINAR Wednesday, February 17th @ 2 pm 1105 Lakeshore Drive •

Masks are required for guests and staff • Very limited seating

CALL NOW TO RESERVE YOUR SEAT!

DR. RICH CASTELLANO

is a Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon as seen on:

*Patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment, or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination, or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hrs of responding to ad for the free, discounted fee, or reduced fee service, examination, or treatment.

8630 East CR 466, The Villages www.IMAGELIFT.com


At Babette’s, we understand that whether you are shopping for one or two rooms or an entire home, it can be overwhelming. Our talented decorators specialize in making the process simple, working with you every step of the way. Scheduling a design consultation whether in our store or in your home, is the perfect way to begin planning a design vision for your home. Whether you are looking for a custom look or want to start with a pre-designed package, our design process is all about each individual customer and we really personalize it. View our design portfolio and schedule an appointment at

www.MyBabettes.com

(352) 617-6001 8345 US Highway 441, Leesburg 3691 Meggison Rd., The Villages


KNEE REPLACEMENT?

OR DO YOU MEAN

PERFORMANCE UPGRADE?

At Advanced Orthopedics Institute we specialize in hips, knees, shoulders, ankles, wrists...and tennis players. Knee pain, stiffness, locking, giving way (buckling), creaking, swelling or inability to walk or play without pain can occur because of traumatic injury, arthritis, or overuse. Depending on the cause, conservative care such as a brace or therapy may relieve the pain. If not, rejuvenative stem cell therapy, arthroscopic knee surgery or partial or total knee replacement can be life-enhancing and allow you to return to your active lifestyle. Get moving. Call 352.751.2862.

G E T A-O K W I T H AO I

AOI-HealthyLiving-Spreads-all-2020-R2.indd 5-6


John T. Williams, Jr., MD

Alfred J. Cook, Jr., MD

1400 N US Hwy 441, Suite 552 | The Villages, FL 32159 phone 352.751.2862 | fax 855.420.1047 | goaoi.com

9/4/20 2:44 PM


United We Stand! Let’s Spread the Love! ES AG ILL V E TH

NE JU KE LA

56 LAKE JUNE RD, LAKE PLACID, FL 33852 STUNNING VIEWS! This Custom Built 4 Bedroom, 3 Bath, LAKEFRONT HOME is perfectly nestled on the deepest point in the cove, of the prestigious 3,500 acre freshwater LAKE JUNE in the HEART of Highlands County in Lake Placid Florida. This impressive home has been meticulously cared for by the one owner that designed and built this Lovely home. $569,750 | MLS #G5037333 H UT SO EEK R C CE RU SP

ING ND PE

1104 BECKER AVE, THE VILLAGES, FL 32163 BEAUTIFULLY-APPOINTED 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath “Avondale” Bungalow Courtyard Villa nestled in The Village of Pine Ridge on a CORNER Home site. Solid Block and Stucco construction with a Two-Car garage, privacy wall, completely “Turnkey furnished”! Income producing/Tenant Occupied w/2-Year Lease $1,800/ Month. $334,500 | MLS# G5027614

9453 SE 173RD PLACE, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 This DYNAMITE 3/2 “Holly” Model comes completely “Turn Key” FURNISHED with Brand new AC (10/2020) and move-in ready! Nestled on an elevated home-site in the Spruce Creek South 55+ Active Adult Community. Open and spacious split bedroom floor plan. Featuring; 2-Car Garage with a painted garage floor, Garage service door, front porch, glass front storm door, 12’ X 10’ rear Enclosed lanai, inside Laundry Room and VAULTED CEILINGS. $168,950 | MLS# G5034990

US EO RG O G

10135 SE 179TH ST, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 BEAUTIFUL 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath Partially furnished “Fir” model in the sought-after Spruce Creek South 55+ Active adult Gated Golf Community. The exterior of this Charming home has GREAT CURB APPEAL with the screened front porch, (2007) shingled Roof, the A/C was installed in (2008) and New Hot Water Heater (2020). $149,900 | MLS# G5036061

14329 SE 170TH ST, WEIRSDALE, FL 32195 Private and Secluded! 10 Absolutely Gorgeous Acres of Land to build your dream home and bring your animals. Surrounded by citrus trees and farms, this Dynamite location in Weirsdale is just minutes to Lake Weir, The Villages, Grand Oaks Resort, Carriage Museum and Orange Blossom Opry. The Owner has already cleared a portion of the property to build your home and has poured the 20’ x 46’ slab for your pole barn. $175,000 | MLS# G5033687

1.352.307.2925

If you are thinking about selling your home, contact us today! 1.352.307.2925

BassettPremierRealty.com

Spruce Creek Professional Plaza | 10935 SE 177th Place, Suite 201, Summerfield, FL 34491


Dianne cb Novak Broker Associate

Sharon Bassett, Owner/Broker

HSE, MRP, RENE, SFR, SRES, GRI, ABR

Jenelle Littizzio

Kyle Willman Realtor®

Broker Assistant

S OR EST INV N TIO TEN AT

5031 SE 115TH STREET, BELLEVIEW, FL 34420 SIX GORGEOUS ACRES centrally located in Belleview! ZONED R-3 with a Retention pond at the backside of the property designed for MULTI-HOUSING. Seller provided Plans, TOPO and ENGINEERING reports. Perfect site for apartments, duplexes and/ or townhomes. Great location near shopping, restaurants, medical, and much more! The Two-story home on site can be remodeled for your Sales Center! $349,900 | MLS# G5031672

ES AG ILL V E TH

6010 POLOCHECK PLACE, THE VILLAGES, FL 32163 Dynamite location! This LIGHTLY LIVED IN 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath “SUNFLOWER 5” Designer home is perfectly located in the Village of Southern Oaks. Featuring; Gable roof, 2-Car and Golf Car Garage, leaded glass front door, foyer, white GOURMET style kitchen, gas, ceramic tile throughout the main living area, recessed lighting, Roman shower, and nova purified water system. TWO New Golf courses are coming SOON! $335,000 | MLS# G5031948

ING ND PE

9899 NW 26TH ST, WILDWOOD, FL 34785 Build your Custom Dream Home on LOT 48 at the end of the Cul-de-Sac. These Gorgeous 13.95 Acres are located in the Gated PRESERVE AT OAK HILL Equestrian Community! Deed Restrictions allow for your barn and horses. The Preserve at Oak Hill offers quiet country living right in the Heart of Sumter County. $149,000 | MLS# G5015190

ING ND PE

16151 SE SUNSET HARBOR ROAD, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491

19 GORGEOUS ACRES near Lake Weir! Zoned A-1. Let’s Build your Forever home right here! Enjoy the serene COUNTRY LIVING amongst the Towering Oak trees, 5-Stall Barn, Three board fencing, well, septic, water and electric available. Just minutes to The Villages, Shopping, Medical, Restaurants and much more! (4) 3-ACRE parcels are available. $498,750 | MLS# G5034434

IN 3 ING D N PE

YS! DA

40646 OAK WOODS WAY, LADY LAKE, FL 32159 STUNNING 4/2 Ranch home on 5 ACRES. Gorgeous Oak trees with Fenced Entry Gate, 21 x 14 Carport, Double Car Garage with electric Openers, 16x12 Workshop with porch, Beautiful Mature Landscaping with stone edging, 41x11 Wood deck and a wrap around porch. As you enter through the Stone and Pillar entrance you are Welcomed by a large living area with a double sided stone Gas burning fireplace, beautiful wooden floors, Cypress wood trim throughout, Soaring Vaulted metal Ceilings with recess lighting and skylight. $469,750 | MLS#G5037483 L HIL AK TO A E RV ESE PR

9060 NW 19TH ST, WILDWOOD, FL 34785 Let’s Build your Custom Dream Home right here. LOT 78 features 10.08 Acres nestled in the Cul-de-Sac with rolling hills. This Prestigious & Gated Equestrian Community’s Deed Restrictions allow for your barn and horses with open pastures. Surrounded by horse farms, four board fencing and 100 acres of horse riding trails, underground utilities and street lights. $110,000 | MLS# G4838375


FEB'21 V.17

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CONTENTS 1 of 2

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At home in real estate Meet Kara Wisely, who was named Realtor® of the Year by the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties. STORY: JAMES COMBS

042

The state of real estate The local real estate industry remains strong despite a sea of uncertainty and change brought on by coronavirus. COMPILED BY: JAMES COMBS, THERESA CAMPBELL, ROXANNE BROWN

052 SPECIAL ADVERTISIN G SEC TIO N

These Realtors find closure See a listing of the area’s top-producing real estate agents.

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Fishing for health Innovative plan to grow healthy produce in Groveland taking root swimmingly. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

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FEATURES


Happy Valentines Day from the staff at TB Financial!

We Listen. We Care. We Educate.

TB

F INANCIAL

352.350.1161

TBFinancialGroup.com

G ROUP I N C.

3261 U.S. Highway 441/27, Suite F-2 Fruitland Park, FL 34731

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TB Financial Group Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life, health, and annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. Our seminars are very general in nature and not meant to replace the advice of your CPA, Tax Preparer, Investment Advisor or Attorney. We will not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal professional for these matters.

er nly TH is v VP o g RS atin Se nd by a

Liz Cornell, CAS®

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER


FEB'21 V.17

≈ N.04

CONTENTS 2 of 2

DEPARTMENTS

first

032

023

THE HIT LIST 024 PERSON OF INTEREST 028 OUTSTANDING STUDENT 030 MY FIRST TIME 032

agenda

028

030

084 096

098

087

083

TO-DO LIST 084 LOCAL TALENT 087 ATTRACTIONS 088 HI, SOCIETY 090

healthy living

095

088

INSPIRATION 096 HEALTHY BODY 098

menu

103

104

IN THE KITCHEN 104 FORK ON THE ROAD 108 SPIRITS 110 DINING GUIDE 112

columns FROM THE PUBLISHER 014 AT YOUR SERVICE 015 FINAL THOUGHT 124

108 110

124

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

Visiting the Clermont Historic Village is worth the trip. LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE

Eat these foods and be well.

E ON TH R C OV E

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • F E B ' 2 1

Groveland’s aquaponic farm offers a healthy way to grow food. LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE

Eat these foods and be well.

FEB '21

VILLAGE EDITION

FE ATURIN G

AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME

Meet the multimillion real estate producers in Lake and Sumter counties.

+

Realtor® of the Year FE ATURIN G

FULL HOUSES The real estate industry in Lake and Sumter counties remains strong.

AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME Meet the area’s multi-million real estate producers.

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TAKING ROOT

FEB '21

VILLAGE EDITION

FULL HOUSES The real estate industry in Lake and Sumter counties remains strong.

+

SHARON BASSETT B R O K E R / O W N E R BASSETT PREMIER REALTY

Lake and Sumter Style

Village Edition

Photo: Douglas Tyler Model: Kara Wisely

Photo: Douglas Tyler Model: Sharon Bassett


YOUR

MULTI AWARD WINNING BUILDER

WEST CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. TAKES HOME

1ST PLACE

IN THE 2018 AND 2019

PARADE OF HOMES WITH THESE CUSTOM-BUILT HOMES IN UMATILLA AND MOUNT DORA. CALL TODAY TO START THE JOURNEY TO YOUR NEW AWARD-WINNING HOME! • CUSTOM HOMES • ADDITIONS • REMODELS • FAMILY-OWNED & OPERATED FOR 30 YEARS • GREEN ADVANTAGE CERTIFIED BUILDER

A BIG THANK YOU TO WEST CONSTRUCTION! FROM START TO FINISH, WE ARE THRILLED WITH THEIR EXPERTISE, CRAFTSMANSHIP AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL. WE WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND DALE WEST AND HIS ENTIRE WEST CONSTRUCTION TEAM TO ANYONE LOOKING TO BUILD OR REMODEL. — KIM AND STEVE BAKICH

JOSEPH & DALE WEST

352.989.7757 1004 N. DONNELLY ST., MT. DORA

CBC057387 WESTCONSTRUCTIONFL.COM


FROM THE PUBLISHER

Welcome home People continue moving to Lake and Sumter despite the pandemic. t has been nearly a year since the coronavirus outbreak. Wow, does time fly or what? I must say that I feel extremely fortunate. Neither myself nor my family members have come down with the virus. Furthermore, my company was deemed an essential business and therefore we never had to shut down. Despite the economic downturn, many clients continued advertising with us throughout the pandemic because of the strong relationships we’ve built. Not everyone was as fortunate. Some people lost loved ones.

Some lost their companies. Many lost their jobs. It’s heartbreaking to see the havoc this pandemic has wreaked. As always, though, Style tries to find hope in the face of tragedy. And that brings me to this month’s issue. When the coronavirus outbreak occurred, I was particularly worried about the real estate industry. Who would want to buy or sell homes during this uncertain time? Wouldn’t real estate agents have a higher risk of exposure when constantly showing homes? Could real estate agents successfully adapt so they could safely sell homes with contracting and/or spreading the disease? It looks like my fears were unjustified. This month’s feature story closely examines how the real estate industry has fared throughout the pandemic. It may be surprising to some that the market remained strong throughout

2020. In fact, some real estate agents have enjoyed a record year. To me, that speaks volumes about the area and all the wonderful attributes that make it desirable to live here. Outdoor spaces, access to many lakes, a strong health care system, fun-filled retirement communities, and friendly people are some of the reasons why our county continues growing each year. I know I love living here and wouldn’t consider moving anywhere else. Yes, 2020 was rough. And yes, there are going to be tough times ahead. However, we’ll all get through this together and come out stronger on the other end. May God bless each of you. Sincerely,

Have a story to tell? We’re always looking for stories about people who live and work in our area. Send suggestions to editorial@akersmediagroup.com.

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MASSAGES

FACIALS

WAXING

MAKE TIME FOR YOU

BODY TREATMENTS

We are committed to bringing high quality products and services to the community. With facials, body treatments and massages using 100% organic and natural products, to highdose vitamin IV therapies and salt treatments, Immunity Health Spa has put together a menu with options sure to impress.

IV THERAPY

S A LT T H E R A P Y

ANTI-AGING

IMMUNITYHEALTHSPA.COM | (352) 750-9909 | 480 N US HWY 27/441 | LADY LAKE, FL 32159 (IN KOHL’S SHOPPING PLAZA)


sure there are highly qualified medical personnel who are experienced in IV therapy to discuss all your concerns including current symptoms, health history, allergies, previous reactions, etc. This will help not only make your experience as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, but also help the clinician recommend an appropriate drip for your individual needs.

IS ALL IV THERAPY CREATED EQUAL? Absolutely not. There are many different IV therapy drips out there that are beneficial, but as a consumer, it is important to know what exactly is in each bag and how much of each ingredient. You also want the highest quality vitamins used in your drip so the body can utilize them the absolute best. It would be ideal not to have any additives, synthetic coloring, or preservatives in an IV drip.

WHY IS HIGH DOSE VITAMIN IV THERAPY NEEDED? Giving ourselves the essential vitamins and nutrients is the least we can do. They work so hard for us every day performing millions of functions in the body. We cannot receive these nutrients solely from the foods we eat so we must utilize supplements. IV therapy bypasses the GI system and allows our body to absorb 100% of the vitamins and minerals administered. I can bet that most of the general population has some sort of micronutrient deficiency. There are just not enough nutrients in the soil used today to provide us with those essential vitamins and minerals that we all require to function at our best. Prescription and OTC medications are known to cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. So, with the US consuming over 50% of the world’s prescription medications, that is yet another indication that the majority of the population is nutrient deficient.

WHAT TO ASK WHEN INQUIRING ABOUT AN IV DRIP? There are many questions to ask when considering an IV drip. What ingredients do they contain? How much of each ingredient? How will this benefit me? Any major or minor side effects? Who is going to be starting the IV and what is their background? It is important to make

WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR IV THERAPY Virtually anyone seeking to enhance their wellness and be proactive on living a healthy lifestyle may consider this revitalizing treatment option. Some common reasons for needing IV therapy are, dehydrated, fatigued, stressed, needing an immune system boost, sluggish metabolism. IV therapy should not be considered a replacement for a balanced diet and healthy habits. However, it can be used to supplement a generally healthy lifestyle to enhance your overall wellness!

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I RECEIVE IV THERAPY There are many things to consider when developing a treatment plan, so how often you should undergo IV therapy will vary from person to person. When you first begin treatment, you may need to schedule weekly infusion sessions. If you have a chronic health condition that affects your immune system, you may decide to maintain this schedule. However, most people will benefit from treatments spaced about two weeks apart once their nutrient levels become stabilized. This is because you should expect your nutrient levels to remain elevated for between two to three weeks after each treatment. Some patients choose to schedule infusion therapy sessions monthly once they have achieved their desired results, and others only seek treatment when they experience symptoms. Because your treatment plan will be customized for you as an individual, it is difficult to put a schedule on sessions. Call us to schedule a free consult to speak to our provider about the best options for you.

IMMUNITYHEALTHSPA.COM | (352) 750-9909 | 480 N US HWY 27/441 | LADY LAKE, FL 32159 (IN KOHL’S SHOPPING PLAZA)


Compliments to Plaza Cadillac for having such professional employees. Allan Staton was my salesman, and it was a pleasure working with him as he listened to my needs and assisted me in finding the right SUV. A few weeks after purchasing, I got 2 nails in my tire. Allan and the Service Department stayed late and waited for my car to be towed in so they could install a new tire. I highly recommend Allan Staton and Plaza Cadillac. Thank you!

“ —JOAN ALIPO

P L AZ A 8893 US HWY 441 LEESBURG, FL 34788 352.787.1323

P L AZ A C A D I L L AC . CO M

Joan Alipo

Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (right) Allan Staton, Salesperson (left)

P L AZ A CA D I L L AC


P L AZ A 8925 US HWY 441 LEESBURG, FL 34788 352.787.1255

P L AZ A L I N C O L N O F L E E S B U R G . CO M

Our Salesman, Mitch Smith, was top drawer. He gave a full explanation of all the intricacies and details of our beautiful new car! He was also very personable, and we talked at length about our families.

Avon Cote and Deven Farley

Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (left) Mitch Smith, Salesperson (right)

Lincoln has always had style inside and out, and we particularly enjoy the comfort of the seats, the voice activated navigation and all the other gadgets. Final note: Great cookies in the lounge! —AVON COTE AND DEVEN FARLEY

P L AZ A L I N CO L N


We come to you! Stay Home. Stay Safe. Heal in Comfort. Rapha Wound Care Associates’ provides convenient, physician-led medical care services in the home for patients in need of: • Wound Care • General Adult Medicine • Covid-19 treatment • Urgent Care • Medical Marijuana certification L-R: Nikki Langston, LPN; Martin Schnell, MD; Feather Moore, Admin

“Where faith and science meet, real healing begins.”

To learn more, visit us at raphawoundcare.com

352.409.4404 / Info@RaphaWoundCare.com

Hair growth guarantee or your next treatment is free!

NonSurgical Solutions We design non-surgical treatments and procedures to restore health inside and out.

Hair Growth Pain Management Regenerative Medicine Aesthetics Sexual Health Contact us to learn more about our compassionate, effective, and comprehensive aesthetic and regenerative services. 352.525.2825 | nonsurgicalsolution.com 1400 US Hwy 441 N, Suite 906, The Villages

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first PEOPLE. COMMENTARY. NEWS.

Leesburg High School senior Alexis Gamez gets a lift from competitive weightlifting.

F E B ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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THE HIT LIST

FLOWER POWER Some love how they look on a dining room table, others sneeze at the sight. Are you a flower person on holidays? Or do you think they’re a waste of money? The most popular flowers to give on Valentine’s Day are roses (mostly red), with almost 10 million sold each year. Other popular bouquets for the romantic holiday are carnations, tulips, lilies, daisies, and orchids.

FIRST MISS LEESBURG GAVE PAGEANT OF LIFE HER BEST SHOT Leesburg resident Kay Hallgren can proudly lay claim to being the city’s first Miss Leesburg more than six decades ago. Leesburg didn’t have an actual pageant in the 1950s; however, Kay was selected by local civic clubs to represent Leesburg at the regional Miss Florida Pageant in New Smyrna Beach in 1952, when she was 16. Kay was one of eight semi-finalists at the state contest, even though she didn’t know anything about pageants. No one coached her; she just gave it her best shot. After competing at Miss Florida, Kay performed in the Leesburg Ski Circus, sponsored by the Leesburg Recreation Department. The ski group would put on a free show every Sunday afternoon at the Venetian Gardens boat basin. One of the highlights for Kay’s ski group was going to Cypress Gardens for publicity photos and meeting

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L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • F E B ' 2 1

competitive swimmer/actress Esther Williams while Esther was filming the movie “Easy to Love” with Van Johnson. Kay Hallgren

Kay also remembers the Leesburg High School Jacket Hive Teen Center at Venetian Gardens. It was open on weekends, and teens would flock there after football games to dance the “shag” and just hang out. Other popular teen spots were Hester’s Drive-In, Carney’s Drug Store and the Crest Drive-In Theatre. In 1954, Kay married Leesburg policeman Chet Coker, one of eight officers who covered all shifts. They had two children. She attended Lake Sumter State College with her daughter Lisa and graduated summa cum laude in 1975. She also has a master’s degree in religious education and a doctorate in Bible studies. Her advice to young people today: “Do not be discouraged; be part of the answer instead of part of the problem. Hard times bring out the best in people of faith.”


THANK A LINEMAN, HELP A LSSC STUDENT

Brant Duke

A new specialty license plate thanking lineworkers has Lake-Sumter State College students giving thanks. Proceeds from the Thank a Lineman plate recently established when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1135 into law will go to scholarships for students in the Electric Utility programs at Lake-Sumter State College. These programs prepare students for a career as a lineworker in as few as six weeks. “Lineworkers are the hard-working men and women who install and maintain our power lines and who go out to restore power in the event of outages or downed lines,” says Lake-Sumter State College President Dr. Stan Sidor. “We are appreciative of Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for providing public recognition of these individuals who are critical to our state’s economy.” Brant Duke, a Lake-Sumter State College graduate and lineworker for the City of Leesburg, found a rewarding career in the program. “I knew I liked to work outside and not behind a desk, so I thought I would try it out,” says Brant. “The LSSC Lineworker programs gives you a true feel of lineworker life. The benefits of this program are exponential, and it’s far cheaper than other programs I know.” “We are committed to providing a career pathway for students to begin high-skill and high-wage careers in the electric industry,” adds Dr. Sidor. “We believe our programs are second to none in providing handson training and in-depth learning for lineworkers and electric utility professionals. Our graduates are servicing power lines across the State of Florida and the country on a daily basis.” Florida drivers who want the Thank a Lineman plate on their car can visit thankalineworker.com or contact their county’s tax collector office to pre-order. The 2021 plates are expected to be available once the state’s minimum pre-order threshold is met.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, NTC The National Training Center in Clermont has hosted hundreds of athletes seeking Olympic glory since it opened 20 years ago. Tori Bowie and Justin Gatlin are among the most notable athletes who trained at the state-of-the-art facility featuring a 400-meter outdoor track-and-field complex, a 37,000 squarefoot fitness center, aquatic center, and Human Performance Lab for sports-science testing. Bowie became only the fifth U.S. female sprinter to win medals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as in the 4x100 relay. Gatlin took home a silver medal in the 100-meter after finishing second to Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. In 2016, the facility hosted 16 athletes vying for a spot in Rio de Janeiro. They represented different sports—track and field, swimming, and triathlon. And they even came from different countries such as Jamaica, Zambia, Trinidad, and Tobago.

F E B ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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THE HIT LIST

ONE YEAR LATER “From January 21 through February 23, 2020, U.S. public health agencies detected 14 cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), all related to travel from China,” according to cdc.gov. The first non-travelrelated case in the U.S. was confirmed on Feb. 26, 2020, in a California resident who had become sick on February 13, 2020. “Through the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, U.S. public health agencies receive real-time data from emergency departments in approximately 4,000 health care facilities in 47 U.S. states and the District of Columbia,” says cdc.gov. In the 14 counties with early non travel-related cases of the coronavirus, no substantial increase was observed related to COVID-19, such as fever and cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or a coronavirus diagnostic code, before Feb. 28. COVID-19 cases quickly spread throughout the U.S. and multiplied, finally making their way to Florida. On March 15, 2020, 39 cases of COVID-19 in the state of Florida were confirmed. As of Dec. 1, 2020, COVID cases in Florida reached 1.2 million, resulting in nearly 19,000 deaths. Source: The New York Times.

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DID YOU KNOW? Ninety years ago this month, President Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, were staying at the Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora for a month-long vacation. The county’s numerous lakes served as a recreational playground for the president and first lady, who spent much of their time fishing and exploring beautiful waterways. In the evening, they relaxed on the grand veranda rocking chairs and watched spectacular sunsets over Lake Dora. The room they stayed in is today called the Calvin Coolidge Suite.

FUN FACT For 119 years, the City of Eustis has displayed patriotic spirit with its popular Georgefest celebration, which today attracts thousands of visitors. Longevity-wise, Georgefest is the second oldest Washington celebration — by a meager four years — only to Laredo, Texas, which began celebrating the first president’s birthday in 1898. Georgefest is also the longestrunning festival of any kind in Florida.

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PERSON OF INTEREST

PEO PLE

Turning the page Reading transforms Eustis woman’s life. STORY BY: ROXANNE BROWN

≈ PHOTOS: DOUGLAS TYLER

leave early every Wednesday, she embraced the opportunity to n paper, Johnnie Coley seemed improve her reading. pretty much set. Four years later, with the help of very committed and loyal tutor A 35-year social worker, Lisa Dunklin, Johnnie reached her goal. In October 2020, Johnnie published author, COVID-19 graduated the program able to read at a 12th-grade level. survivor and college“To think of somebody looking at a grown woman who has two scholarship basketball player degrees and saying, ‘I’m going to invest in you for four years,’ that’s with a bachelor’s degree in just unbelievable. That’s powerful. I will remember her for the rest psychology and a master’s in of my life,” Johnnie says of Lisa. human services management, Lisa responds that she was inspired by helping Johnnie her life seemed complete. learn to read. A huge secret the 59-year-old “There was no real plan. We were learning together through Eustis woman kept well-hidden the whole process. At our first meeting, Johnnie had goals in mind, her whole life; however, was and I felt it was my job to figure out a way to get to those goals, weighing her down and affecting and though it was harder than we both probably thought, we every aspect of her life. She couldn’t kind of held on to each other and took it one step at a time,” Lisa read past a 4th-grade reading level. says. “Knowing I was able to help her is satisfying but I look at And she knew she needed to come clean. her and think it took a tremendous amount of courage for her to “I saw myself just kind of going through ask for help.” life and I was trying to get myself together, Looking back, Johnnie says she doesn’t exactly know how get myself right as far as my relationship with she got by. She’d skim through emails, memos, documents at God,” says Johnnie. “That’s when I thought, you know work, church readings, songs and what? I’ve got to stop the lying more, picking out enough words about reading. I said, ‘God, can to get through. you forgive me for fake reading, “I was fake reading all over the for projecting the type of person place. When my eyes would fall that I wasn’t?’ And then I on the paper to read, it’s like I just got my help.” froze. It was like too big for me,” Johnnie signed up for a Johnnie says. tutoring program at the Johnnie would memorize certain W.T. Bland Public Library things and ask people to talk about in Mount Dora that worked the topics to make it look like with Lake County’s free adult she’d read about them. In college, literacy program, but weekly she occasionally copied off other tutoring sessions were during students to get by. working hours. “I’m not proud of that,” says Undeterred, Johnnie presented Johnnie, adding that she is her problem to her boss at the glad to be rid of that type of Mount Dora Children’s Home. pressure and shame. When he offered to let her Johnnie Coley and Lisa Dunklin

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“I FEEL LIKE A TON OF BRICKS HAS BEEN LIFTED OFF MY SHOULDERS.” —JOHNNIE COLEY

“I feel like a ton of bricks have been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have to fake anymore. I don’t have to lie anymore,” she says. “I’ve always worked in social work, and it kind of hit me that in working in an environment where I am helping people help themselves, interestingly enough, I ended up with everything I needed around me to be able to help myself.” Johnnie admits she never realized what she was missing. Because of that, she signed on as a tutor for the same program that helped her. “I’m a better, more confident, happy person and I don’t know how reading can make you better in so many other ways like that, but it does,” Johnnie says. “Because someone reached out to help me, I want to turn around and do the same for someone else. They just need that one person to say, ‘Yeah, I know what that’s like.’ To point someone in the right direction is a beautiful thing.”

How has learning to read changed your life? “You get to see the world through reading, and I didn’t even know that. I mean, I’m black and I didn’t even know that Martin Luther King won a Nobel Peace Prize, but I know it now because I read it in the readings Lisa gave me.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a little bit embarrassed by it (not knowing how to read), but my happiness in learning how to read exceeds my embarrassment about it.”

What are your thoughts on how you got by “fake-reading” all these years? “I look back and I am like, What in the world went down? It’s unbelievable. I mean, I lived the life, but I’m still in shock that I was able to survive with such a cover-up, with such a lie.”

How do you feel about Lisa? “Basically, I just look back and appreciate what God did for me in sending me the right person. Because if it had been somebody else, somebody not so patient or understanding through the whole tutoring experience, it may not have come out this way. I’ll be honest with you, there were times she told me to read something and I’d be crying, I couldn’t figure out the words and I would get mad. It was hard. It was challenging. To somebody else, this might not be a big deal, but it’s a big deal to me. It’s just amazing what she’s done for my life; I don’t even think she really understands it.”

Know a person of interest? Tell us!

Email your recommendation to roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.

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OUTSTANDING STUDENT

PEO PLE

Alexis Gamez Raising the bar for female weightlifters. INTERVIEWER: JAMES COMBS

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL S HA XIS 8 . A 3 T OIN E- P D A E GR RAG AV E

VITAL STATS

ALE

• Will graduate Leesburg High School in 2021. • Captain of LHS weightlifting team. • Student representative for the LHS program Pledge Against Bullying. •

• President of Student Government Association (SGA), Region 2 vice president of Skills USA, and a member of the school’s Beta Club, National Honor Society, Interact Club, and Triad Club.

How do you balance academics, athletics, and clubs? I keep a Google calendar. Also, the

What advice would you give small girls considering weightlifting? Seek discomfort, risk boldly,

Skills USA program has taught me planning, organizing, and time management. They also teach us flexibility and adaptability. I’ve learned to be flexible with my time.

and always try to get out of your comfort zone.

How do you stay strong and fit? I have a high protein intake—147 grams a day. I use an app called MyFitnessPal that logs my steps for the day and how many calories I consume in a day. Each morning I complete 150 pushups and 180 crunches. Then I do 30 split squats. I also run two miles each day after school and spend 25 hours each week in the weight room.

You’re a female weightlifter. Are you a tomboy or girly? Girly. I wear white bows to big weightlifting meets. Nobody else has a bow; it’s my signature thing. So, I’m all about bows and barbells. I also love to shop, put on makeup, and wear dresses.

You are a strong anti-bullying advocate. Tell me about that. I got into the program my freshman year. I

How strong are you? I can bench press 160 pounds. I can back squat 260 pounds. My clean and jerk is 180 pounds. Pound for pound, I’m the strongest female on my team. I set a school record in the bench press and hold the school’s total record for bench press plus clean and jerk.

saw a group of people who had others saying bad things about them. I wanted to be there for those students. Being someone who others could talk to and rely on is the person I enjoy being. When students come up to me and attempt to badmouth another student, I don’t have anything to do with it. I do not tolerate badmouthing at all.

Do your male counterparts respect you?

Future plans? My first choice is to attend Lake-

Yes. When they come into the weight room and see me lifting the same amount of weight they are, there’s no gender barrier. They don’t think it’s weird I’m lifting as much as they can. And I don’t see myself any different from the boys. You can still be pretty and lift barbells.

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Sumter State College and then attend nursing school at the University of Central Florida. Lately, though, I’ve been considering going into the hospitality and tourism industry. I was in my school’s culinary program for three years, so if I did something in hospitality and tourism, it would be baking.

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MY FIRST TIME

PEO PLE

Don Landy A world turned upside down by case of puppy love. INTERVIEWER: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

n Tennessee, German Shepherds are not a very popular breed and it took us several months until we finally found a breeder that had two puppies left. One of them was Sabrina. She was not exactly best of show as far as breed was concerned; she was a big roly poly ball of fur. But she was the most lovable little thing you’d ever want to meet. We brought her home and she promptly got carsick and threw up all over my wife’s new car, but she had the ability to give you this look, ‘Did I do that?’ She’d give you this look and

What about your first time?

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≈ PHOTO: ANTHONY RAO

tilt her head and you’d just laugh and fall in love with her. For 11 years she was absolutely the love of our life. Unfortunately, she was the dumbest German Shepherd ever created. I’d always understood that German Shepherds were the closest things to human beings when it came to being smart. We put her through a series of classes and the minute we’d bring her home she would forget everything she’d learned. All she wanted to do was be a lovable, huggable, playful puppy. Sabrina ultimately was diagnosed with inoperable cancer just shy of her 11th birthday. I’d promised her when I first got her that I’d never allow her to be in pain,

so that night we called our vet and I said, ‘I wanna be the last person of the day so you can put her to sleep.’ I sat on the floor of the vet’s office and Sabrina went to sleep in my arms and it just totally destroyed me. I came home that night, sat down and I wrote a letter to myself about everything she had meant to me; the ways that she changed my life for the better. I came across it a couple years later and ended up writing “Unconditional Love on Loan From God” about Sabrina and I and everything we had been through together. She was the most amazing little girl. Never having had a dog, I’d have turned the world upside down for her.

To share a story about your first time doing something significant, email victoria@akersmediagroup.com.

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smart One

cookie

Personal touch is the Realtor of the Year’s key ingredient. STORY: JAMES COMBS

ara Wisely sweetens real estate transactions. With each home closing, the executive chef turned real estate agent makes clients a salted honey pie or batch of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. During the holidays, she prepared 303 cookie boxes and personally delivered them to customers and friends. “I think I baked more than 10,000 cookies this past year,” says Kara, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty in Mount Dora. “When holiday season comes, people start texting me and asking, ‘Am I getting a box of cookies this year?’” Little deeds can lead to big results. Such is the case for Kara, who was named 2020 Realtor of the Year by the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties. She enjoyed a banner year, closing 32 deals and amassing $8,577,387 in sales. For her, the award was served with a slice of humble pie.

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≈ PHOTO: DOUGLAS TYLER

“I’m very honored to win this award, but I don’t feel like I deserve it,” she says. “I’m relatively new in the industry, and everyone who has won this award has been in the industry for at least 10 to 15 years. I look up to and admire previous winners and don’t feel like I’m an equal at this point in my career. I would have never won this award without customers, friends, and other real estate agents.” Such modesty is a breath of fresh air; however, those close to Kara say she is very deserving. “Kara is one of the hardest-working agents I know, and it is a pleasure to have her on my team,” says Ginger Griffin, managing broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty. “Kara’s goal is to earn a reputation of being a constant professional when working with sellers and buyers and in assisting them in achieving their real estate needs. Kara’s sellers and buyers are not only business to her but become like an extended family member or friend.” Winning awards is nothing new for Kara, who earned a bachelor’s degree in pastry arts from Walnut Hill College in Pennsylvania. She spent 10 years as an executive pastry chef and enjoyed seeing faces of delighted customers peering at goodies inside a display case: cream-filled pies, cakes with buttercream frosting, and doughnuts frosted with vanilla and covered in rainbow sprinkles.


While that profession was rewarding, her lifelong dream was to become a real estate agent. She moved to Florida in 2016 and decided to pursue her dream. “I love people and I love homes. Real estate always seemed like a career I was meant to do,” Kara says. She earned her real estate license in Ocober. 2016 and became a member of the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties. During her first 12 months of membership, she produced $268,500 in real estate transactions. The association named her as its 2017 Rookie of the Year. The secret behind Kara’s success is simple. In an era of electronic communication, she prefers face-to-face interaction. She stuck to her philosophy during the coronavirus. “I don’t hide behind a computer or text messages,” she says. “I’m an in-person person. We’ve been hit hard by COVID, and lots of people are missing that personal interaction. I think personal interaction is something people really appreciate.” She also embraces the demands of the job, which often require her to work 60 hours a week. Kara finds herself waking up to numerous emails and managing international clients in a different time zone. She’s so dedicated that she drew up contracts on Christmas Eve. “Not all clients and not all transactions are the same,” she says. “Sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches. If you’re not willing to roll with the punches, then you’re causing more drama than you need to.” That customer-focused approach pleases clients like Tavares residents David and Gina Rigby, who chose Kara as their real estate agent for three home purchases. “She is so genuine and really listens to your needs and wants in order to help you find your perfect home,” Gina says. “Her warmth, smile, and laughter really light up any room.” Mary Meyers-Arman of Eustis echoes those sentiments. “When I first contacted her, she listened to what I wanted and needed and then found houses that might fit my list,” Mary says. “Despite being incredibly

“REAL ESTATE ALWAYS SEEMED LIKE A CAREER I WAS MEANT TO DO.” — K A R A W I S E LY

busy, she always found time to talk to me and walk me through whatever issue I was having in my search for a home.” The excitement of finding the perfect home for clients is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her job. “I love showing homes that are unique and not cookie-cutter,” Kara says. “In one house the entire kitchen is laid with tiny stones. I also love folky houses with orange shag carpet because they bring me back to the 1970s.” When she’s not showing homes, Kara stays busy as a board member for the Eustis Chamber of Commerce. She also graduated in the Leadership Lake County Class of 2020. She feels community service is paramount to being a successful real estate agent because it deepens her knowledge of local issues and helps her connect with members of the community. “Giving back to the community is key,” she says. “The more you know about your community, the more you can show customers what a wonderful life we enjoy here in Lake County.” No doubt about it, Kara is one smart cookie who understands that presentation is just as important in real estate as it is in baking.


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DOORS ARE OPENING IN

REAL

ESTATE Local real estate market remains strong as prices go through the roof. STORY: JAMES COMBS, THERESA CAMPBELL, ROXANNE BROWN


Photo of Lynn Haynes by Douglas Tyler

Lynn Haynes

ynn Haynes, a real estate agent with Morris Realty and Investments, grew understandably concerned about the fate of her industry when the coronavirus hit last March. With businesses closing across the country and millions of individuals forced to file for unemployment, buying or selling a home during a pandemic and economic upheaval seemed like a hopeless endeavor. “When COVID-19 broke out, I thought the real estate market would slow down,” Lynn says. Turns out she was wrong. Lynn achieved her best sales year since becoming a residential real estate agent five years ago and finished in the top 4.5 percent of Realtors in Lake and Sumter counties. “The real estate market is strong, and now is the time to make your move whether buying, selling, or investing,” Lynn says. Lena Williams, another experienced agent with Morris Realty and Investments agrees: “I personally feel that COVID helped people appreciate the meaning of HOME and how important their home is to them.” “People had the opportunity to work on projects in their home and also, some decided it was time for a new home. We did see a decrease in the amount of people traveling Florida from other states to “shop” for their Florida home, but it didn’t stop them all! We had many virtual showings and several purchases where buyers never stepped foot in the home,” Lena continues. After researching and crunching numbers, Lynn has reached an

important conclusion: the Lake County real estate market will remain strong. That’s because U.S. housing prices continue to surge, making the real estate market a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economy. It’s quite simply a matter of supply and demand. With mortgage rates at historic lows, high demand has created a low supply of housing for sale. As a result, many homebuyers are making offers above the asking price or getting into bidding wars with other potential buyers. In November 2020, the average sale price of a home in Lake and Sumter counties was $282,719, compared to $244,896 exactly one year earlier, according to data from the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties. In fact, 40 percent of homes sold in November 2020 cost between $249,999 and $299,999. “It’s a seller’s market, and that won’t change through the first quarter of 2021,” Lynn says. And Lena says that both buyers and sellers are benefitting greatly. “Some of the most successful investors have bought and sold real estate in all kinds of markets. People will always need a place to live. You could own your home and a rental property and use the income from the rental property to pay off your personal home,” she says. “The options are endless with real estate and there’s no place like home!” But since the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a change in what amenities clients want. The three-bedroom, twobathroom home is no longer the standard. Today, buyers want media centers, office space, outdoor space, fire pits, and summer kitchens.

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“They want things that weren’t on the list before,” Lena says. “They’re looking at the next step and possibly continuing to work from home.” Along those same lines, Lena’s noticed that many buyers are seeking more “chill” in their lives. “Every buyer is different, but lately we are seeing more requests for open floor plans with casual living spaces and less formal settings. People are moving away from formal dining rooms. And since people are appreciating the time they have at home more, outdoor entertaining and outdoor spaces are huge.” Helping clients take that next step requires ingenuity on Lynn’s part. Because Lynn spent 75 percent of her time in 2020 working from home, she increased her use of real estate marketing tools such as virtual tours, email flyers, videos, photographs, and aerials. “Our marketing has been ramped up because, as real estate agents, we’re not going into as many homes,” she says. When showing homes, she requires precautions from sellers to minimize contracting the virus. That means leaving lights on and doors to each room open to minimize touching hard surfaces. “That way, we only have to unlock the front or back door,” Lynn says. “It was important to come up with a plan to minimize COVID risks. None of my clients have had it, and nobody in my office has had it.” Those clients included young couples purchasing their first home to retirees hoping to downsize. There are several reasons they move to Lake County, known for its quaint, small towns, gentle rolling hills, and pristine lakes. “Older people come here for our vast health care system,” Lynn says. “Younger people are moving here because of our school options and the more rural feel compared to Orlando. They also like our lakes and the proximity to theme parks and the beach. They can buy a nice home for an affordable price compared to living near a beach or larger city.”

Lena Williams

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The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped real estate values from increasing in Sumter County and values are projected to stay strong, according to Connie Mahan, certified residential specialist, broker, and owner of Connie Mahan Real Estate Group in Bushnell. “At the moment and hopefully through 2021 because of low interest rates, even with the increase in home values, prices are still moderately affordable,” says Connie. “We have an incredible demand for housing in South Sumter priced ideally under $200,000.” And while the early stages of COVID-19 brought the country to a halt, Connie noticed that only lasted about three to four weeks for Sumter County’s real estate market. “Luckily for us, our rural geography and our economic development fueled mostly by The Villages didn’t let that last long. Out-of-area buyers found great comfort in a less congested area while still enjoying access to many things they are used to within a short drive. Going back to low interest rates, there was a definite benefit to buying during COVID, despite of COVID, if that makes sense,” she says.

Photo of Lena Williams by Nicole Hamel

Real estate in Sumter County


“AS A SELLER THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO GET A GREAT AGENT.”

—CONNIE MAHAN

The demographics of a majority of home buyers Connie serves, outside of The Villages, is a younger buyer, ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-50s with a family. “We do have some retired buyers but not as many as they shop closer to The Villages,” she says, adding most families are seeking homes in the $165,000 to $225,000 price range, and some up towards $260,000. “The prime spot is $185,000 to $215,000.” Connie adds that nearly 60 percent of buyers in 2020 were relocating from the more suburban areas surrounding South Sumter, including Dade City, Clermont, and Leesburg. “The other half were folks just moving within the county,” she says, adding that only a small number of buyers move to South Sumter from out of state. “Buyers want move-in ready homes,” says Connie. “The days of buyers looking for fixer uppers are gone. My guess would be with stress from COVID, virtual learning, finances, life, etc., all if not most of our buyers are willing to pay a little more—again thanks to low interest rates—to have a finished product.” Connie says the current demand for housing is the highest she has ever seen in Sumter County, and that buyers are savvy. “Although it’s an incredibly strong sellers’ market, overpaying doesn’t serve them, and they’re sticking to market value even in bidding wars,” she says of buyers. “One of the things we love about our area is our rural geography and slower way of life; the demand for some housing communities and

Photo of Connie Mahan by Douglas Tyler

COMPARING THE AVERAGE SALE PRICE OF HOMES IN LAKE AND SUMTER COUNTIES BETWEEN 2019 AND 2020.

January 2019: $214,941

January 2020: $245,678

February 2019: $236,163

February 2020: $246,742

March 2019: $243,488

March 2020: $254,454

April 2019: $240,167

April 2020: $241,493

May 2019: $245,794

May 2020: $255,480

June 2019: $251,842

June 2020: $257,627

July 2019: $237,436

July 2020: $265,922

August 2019: $246,479

August 2020: $277,133

September 2019: $239,299

September 2020: $291,100

October 2019: $241,123

October 2020: $281,675

November 2019: $244,896

November 2020: $282,719

December 2019: $261,048 Source: Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties

Connie Mahan


“FOR THE FUTURE OF LAKE AND SUMTER COUNTIES,

THE PRICE RANGE AND THE NUMBER OF HOMES SOLD IN LAKE AND SUMTER COUNTIES BETWEEN JAN. 1, 2020 THROUGH NOV. 30, 2020.

Price range

Sold Units

$1-49,999:

86

$50,000-59,999:

37

$60,000-69,999:

62

$70,000-79,999:

67

$80,000-89,999:

74

$90,000-99,999:

87

$100,000-119,999:

205

$120,000-139,999:

299

$140,000-159,999:

362

$160,000-179,999:

453

$180,000-199,999:

465

$200,000-249,999:

1,539

$250,000-299,999:

1,207

$300,000-349,999:

697

$350,000-399,999:

447

$400,000-499,999:

383

$500,000-599,999:

147

$600,000-599,999:

109

$700,000-799,999:

54

$800,000-899,999:

30

$900,000-999,999:

21

$1 million and over:

24

Source: Stellar MLS *Reported sales are dependent upon timeliness of sales and totality of information reported by participants. Information provided here does not include all sales in the reported areas.

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L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • F E B ' 2 1

Micki Blackburn Nagel


I AM EXPECTING ENORMOUS GROWTH.” subdivisions is strong. With the growth we will be experiencing because of The Villages expansion towards South Sumter there is a clear and obvious supply and demand issue at play. Builders may not be familiar with our market yet and have stayed on the north end or closer to Clermont, but while land prices are somewhat affordable, my recommendation would be to come in and plan housing now. Because the need is already here. It is most definitely a sellers’ market in our area, and the shortage of houses and demand on families to be close to work in The Villages continues to make our market a strong sellers’ market.” Connie’s advice for buyers and sellers: “As a buyer, find a great agent,” she says. “And by great, I mean one that has years of expertise, knows the market, knows where things are growing and what there is to offer. A good agent can connect you with a good lender, with down payment assistance programs and can guide you along the way to make sure that your purchase is the best packaged deal there can be for you. Real estate sales aren’t always just about price. There are many factors that make a ‘great deal.’ Home warranties, negotiated repairs, someone leaving a piece of furniture or accommodating a timeline are all things to take into consideration when figuring out that’s best for you.” “As a seller the most important thing is to get a great agent,” Connie adds. “For a seller it is crucial to have specific tailored guidance from the very beginning. Fix this instead of that, paint with this color instead of that color, and most importantly sellers need price analysis and marketing plan. Research has proven time and time again that a seller who uses a great Realtor is going net more money than going it alone and they will also have a quicker and smoother transaction. Keep in mind though smooth doesn’t always mean easy. But that’s what we are here for. To take care of the hard parts.”

Photo of Micki Blackburn Nagerl by Akers Staff

Real estate in South Lake County Micki Blackburn Nagel, owner and broker of Micki Blackburn Realty, Inc., in Clermont, didn’t hesitate when asked if real estate remains a sound investment. “Absolutely,” she says. “The values of homes have greatly increased. For the future of Lake and Sumter counties, I am expecting enormous growth.” Her projection of home values and the market throughout 2021? “Up and up,” says Micki, who has acquired an in-depth knowledge of the South Lake County market and stays educated with current laws, regulations, and real estate trends. “Realtors have done well throughout COVID-19, mostly because so many people from particularly up North and East

—MICKI BLACKBURN NAGEL

are moving here,” says Micki, and she notes the demographics of buyers interested in purchasing homes in South Lake are of all ages, ranging from young to older adults, including singles, couples, families, and empty nesters. “Buyers are looking for homes with modern kitchen, open floor plans, larger master bedrooms, and adequate closets and storage,” she says. In South Lake, Micki notes it’s a seller’s market because inventory is low. Her advice to potential buyers is to check the neighborhood of the home they are interested in purchasing. “Is it going down? Are there too many rentals?” She also encourages sellers to keep in mind that home values are increasing. “You should remember that your next purchase may be more expensive than anticipated,” she says.

Overall tips for choosing an agent Micki is proud that the knowledgeable professionals at Micki Blackburn Realty, Inc. have over 100 years of combined real estate experience, and she offers tips for buyers and sellers to find the right Realtor for them: “Make sure your Realtor is full time, experienced, knows your area well, its history and future.” Lena, based in Leesburg, adds that working with a local real estate agent who is willing to work on “your time” is key. “Make sure they are willing to show you homes on weekends and evenings if that is when you are available and make sure that your agent is local. The internet has exploded with real estate websites that “sell” leads to real estate agents. You could easily click a link for more information on a home and have a real estate agent contact you from halfway across the State of Florida because they bought the lead,” Lena says. “They may not have the knowledge or experience you need because they don’t know the area.” And while a virtual tour may be a good starting point, the human touch is the key to a smooth transaction. “You are in control, so you should ask the agent how familiar they are with the market you are shopping in if they are local,” Lena says, explaining that, “With COVID, internet looking has exploded more than before. It is a great tool for video tours and a lot of information is easily available, but the internet cannot replace a professional realtor when it comes to negotiations and getting a deal to the closing table. Choosing a real estate agent may be the most important decision you make when buying or selling, so make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your real estate agent.”

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villages PEOPLE. PLACES. EVENTS.

Swaying to the beat Members of the 'O Ka Hula Dance Group are shaking it up.

Up, up, and away! The Villages Balloon Festival will take fun to new heights.

He gets around Seasoned traveler Robert Palusak shares his adventures with members of the Worldwide Foreign Travel Club in The Villages.


IN THE VILLAGES

O H

T

G L

CO MMENTARY

Going under? Will this pandemic sink the ocean liners we know and love? STORY: JOE ANGIONE

ebruary is usually the month when the cruise business gets under full sail, with dozens of ocean liners carrying millions of passengers to exciting ports around the world. Not this year, not so far. Although new vaccines are reducing the threat of COVID-19 infection, many cruise enthusiasts remain extremely wary of booking passage on ships that early last year were the scene of massive numbers of infections, and lockdowns of thousands of passengers in staterooms not much bigger than a prison cell. The pandemic has yet to release its stranglehold on the cruise industry. The Centers for Disease Control’s “no sail” order helped drag business down nearly 50 percent across all

cruise lines in 2020. And business hasn’t improved much this year. This lack of revenue is making many cruise ships financially impossible to maintain. Keeping cruise ships in operation is a costly matter. Carnival Cruise Lines, the biggest cruise company, reports that even when their ships are operational but not in-service carrying passengers–docked and shut down–they cost Carnival more than $250 million a month to maintain. There’s little revenue to offset these tremendous costs. About 60% of Carnival’s fleet is still idled at anchor, traveling nowhere, and generating no money. So Carnival sold off six of its older ships. The line is also working on additional agreements to dispose of 18 more from its inventory and is delaying orders for four new mega ships due to the COVID fallout.

Joe Angione loves to share stories of his adventures.

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Royal Caribbean is another major cruise line with similar COVID-driven sales and revenue problems. Most of its 26 ships, including the industry’s largest luxury liners, are also stuck in port, locked down by lack of passenger interest that has worsened due to COVID fearmongering by government and health care authorities. What is a cruise-enthusiast to do? Best bet is to hold on to your cruising dollars a little longer, at least until fall, maybe even until year’s end, when COVID vaccines have proved their effectiveness, and most of the travelling public have vaccine protection. By then, cruise deals will have reached their peak, with major ticket discounts and bonuses including waived gratuities, free alcohol packages, reduced prices at on-board specialty restaurants, and on tour bookings. Cruisers’ patience will soon pay off in big savings.

If you want to contact him, email joeangione@aol.com.

2

In w T


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MEET A VILLAGER

PEO PLE

Around the world in 400 days Globetrotting Villager Robert Paluszak crisscrosses the earth on planes, trains, automobiles, ferries, buses, elephants, and camels too. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

obert Paluszak is well qualified to serve as a steering committee member and contact person of the Worldwide Foreign Travel Club in The Villages, and he delights in sharing his love for traveling with 500 Villages neighbors on the group’s mailing list. Along with his wife Marilyn, the couple redesigned the club’s website WWFTC.com, filling it with valuable travel tips, maps, resources, and their favorite Maya Angelou quote: “Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the places that take your breath away.” The Paluszaks’ most memorable breathtaking journey was in 2005-’06.

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

“We actually traveled 400 days around the world,” Robert recalls. “We went across the Pacific by freighter, and we used some ferries, trains, busses, private car rentals, and we also used elephants and camels.” They slept in 155 different beds around the globe. “When you’re traveling for that long, you need to stop and rest occasionally. You can’t be like on a seven-day vacation and do that same level of activity for 400 days,” says Robert. “Back in 2005, Airbnb didn’t exist, so we used vacation rentals and we would rent a place for two or four weeks just so that we could stay someplace

and rest for a little bit before we continued moving on.” His wife also wanted to experience the daily life and culture of the different lands. “I had a very determined effort to see what it felt like to live in a place than just drive through it,” adds Marilyn. “We’d go to the grocery store to buy groceries, make our meals, and do the things that people lived there do, so it was fun.” In planning their worldwide journey, the couple bought a two-seater convertible in the U.S., which they picked up in Germany to drive around during their five months there. The car is now in their garage in The Villages, where they have lived for 13 years after moving from Albany, New York. In addition to the travel club, Robert also serves as president of two investment clubs in The Villages: The Growth Stock Pickers, and the Investment Education Club. In his professional life, Robert worked in information technology and information security for over 20 years, followed by a second career as a financial advisor for 10 years.

Do you know an interesting Villager? Email theresa@akersmediagroup.com


Rivers Family Medicine

KESHIA RYTTER

Rivers Family Medicine has taken necessary steps to ensure the safety of our patients during the coronavirus pandemic. For information about the vaccine and locations visit our website or call to schedule an appointment with your provider for further consultation.

L-R: Dr. Julio Ugarte, Dr. Steven Rivers, Dr. Erin Dariano, Dr. Anthony Desmarais

New Location Coming Soon:

352.205.4303 1503 Buenos Aires Blvd., Bldg. 110, The Villages riversfamilymedicine.com

2771 Brownwood Blvd., The Villages Sandspur Ice Plant Building


SOCIAL CLUB SPOTLIGHT

CLUB

Aloha ‘O Ka Hula Dance Villagers, the sisterhood, and fun of hula. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

Violet Ray

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VST Y L E • F EB' 21

he ladies in the Aloha ‘O Ka Hula Dance Group have brought the spirit of Hawaii to Florida. Violet Ray, who started the group shortly after moving to The Villages with her husband in 2008, has a long history with dance and the practice of hula. Violet has been hooked on hula ever since she was a line dance teacher in Las Vegas in the 1990s and some of her students from Hawaii invited her to join their hula group. She danced with the group for several years, and after a trip to Hawaii with her husband, the couple decided to move there in 2002. She continued her study of hula in Hawaii, and when she got to The Villages, she didn’t want to give it up. She found there was no hula group close by, so she started her own. The group that grew to 26 women has been together for over 12 years. Meeting Tuesdays at the Seabreeze Recreation Center and Thursdays at the Lake Miona Recreation Center, the women get in three hours of hula each session, along with a three-hour practice session on Sundays at Bridgeport. For beginners, Violet also offers a basics class at Allamanda Recreation Center on Mondays.

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL The Aloha ‘O Ka Hula troupe performed at tree lighting ceremonies during the Christmas season, entertained social clubs year-round, and did driveway parties during quarantine. They also perform at Mardi Gras every February. This year’s Mardi Gras celebration is tentatively set for Fat Tuesday (Feb. 16), in Spanish Springs Town Square. Dawna Thomas of Fernandina, who did hula and Tahitian dance when she was younger, has been a part of the troupe for four years. “But to come to The Villages and to start when you’re an elderly person it’s so different, so we have a lot of fun,” she says. Dawna loves the comradery and hula spirit of the group. “Violet makes it so interesting, she’s a wonderful teacher. She’s so talented in other genres besides hula, but with hula it’s very graceful and slow and relaxing,” Dawna says. Violet even choreographs most of the dances. Violet also comments on the comradery of the group, loving that everybody is so willing to help each other. “When you become a group, they call it halau, you feel like family; that feeling of ohana. Everybody’s close to each other, everybody’s nice. We got a nice group of ladies,” she says.


Halua literally means “a branch from which many leaves grow.” Ohana is the Hawaiian word for “family.” Janice Brennan of Tamarind Grove joined the group after relocating to The Villages in 2011. Growing up in Kona, Hawaii, Janice’s mother, who loved everything about hula, was heartbroken that her daughter didn’t share her appreciation for the practice. “Hula is very athletic, especially learning it as a child in Hawaii,” Janice says. “It uses a lot of muscle and the teachers quite often are very military-like. And I was shy, so I didn’t even like being in the class with other people watching me.” It wasn’t until she got to The Villages, where she says the dancing is a lot gentler, that she decided to give hula a second chance. “When you get older you start thinking about your childhood and your history, so I decided to give it another try,” she says. After talking with Violet, she kept thinking about the group, and decided to go watch a class. She was drawn in by the loving way that

“VIOLET MAKES IT SO INTERESTING, SHE’S A WONDERFUL TEACHER.” — D AW N A T H O M A S

Violet taught the troupe, and the interaction that all of the girls had with each other and with Violet. Janice now has a greater appreciation for the traditional hulas in the Hawaiian language and the cadence of the Hawaiian songs; “They are very melodic and soothing, so it’s very peaceful.” Janice also likes when the group incorporates their instruments into dances. They have hollowed out

gourds and bamboo pu’ili sticks that take quite a bit of coordination among the hula sisters to avoid accidentally hitting one another. Violet even took some of the girls to visit Hawaii in 2010 and 2015, where they attended the Merrie Monarch Festival, which Violet calls “the Olympics of hula.” On the islands, the group watched the hula competitions, did workshops, and danced on the beach.

Linda Williams, Margaret Sado, Violet Ray, Kimberly Foreman, Di Capasso, Mitzi Swift, and Jean Kagan

Want to see your club in Social Club Spotlight?

Send your suggestions to victoria@akersmediagroup.com.

F EB ' 21 • VST Y L E

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FESTIVALS

To air is

human The Villages Balloon Festival offers much more than colorful aircrafts. STORY: GARY CORSAIR

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VST Y L E • F EB' 21

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL


he star performers at The Villages’ next big event will be full of hot air. More than a dozen magnificent, radiantly colorful aircrafts will be the featured attraction at The Villages Balloon Festival, Feb. 5-6, at The Villages Polo Complex, 700 Buena Vista Drive, The Villages. Yes, aircrafts. “We’re governed by the FAA and the government. Hot air balloons are the same as a 747 as far as they’re concerned,” says long-time balloon pilot Bill Whidden, who resides in Tavares. Yes pilot. “You have to have a license to fly,” says long-time ballooning enthusiast Chuck Rohr, who resides in Mount Dora. “For years I licensed pilots. I issued the first civilian pilots licenses in the late 1950s. I always made sure they knew what they were doing before letting them solo.” So rest assured that the balloonists at the fourth annual event in The Villages will know what they’re doing. “You can

only get into these events if you have an FAA certified balloon, and the FAA is pretty tough,” says Chuck, who built hundreds of balloons in an old Louisiana schoolhouse he transformed into a balloon factory in the 1960s. But what about spectators or anyone thinking about ascending 30-40 feet in a balloon tethered to the ground by ropes and cables? What do they need to know? “People, all they want to see is pretty colors, but there are 120 physics principles that apply to a balloon,” says Bill. “A balloon is a moving mass of 4 ½ tons. If the wind is over five knots, tethering is not something I want to do. You don’t want to risk anyone’s broken leg.” So be cognizant of the wind if you attend the balloon fest. “I’m not sure about the weather choice, but I’ve only been doing this for 39 years,” Bill says facetiously. “I usually don’t fly in February. You can still have funnel systems coming through here. I’ve done less flying in February through March than any other month,” Bill says. “Doing tethering can be safe. But if there’s any speed going across the top, the balloon wants to lift. It wants to pick you up. Then the wind dies, and bam, it throws you back on the ground.”

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FESTIVALS

“PEOPLE, ALL THEY WANT TO SEE IS PRETTY COLORS, BUT THERE ARE 120 PHYSICS PRINCIPLES THAT APPLY TO A BALLOON.” —BILL WHIDDEN

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The Villages’ first balloon fest was in June 2019. Last year’s event was in February. Wind gusts could potentially limit or cancel tethered rides, which will be offered Friday, 4-8pm, and Saturday, 7-9am and 4-8pm. Cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children, booked on site at a tethered rides payment booth, first come, first served. Rides last approximately five minutes. Those who choose to remain on the ground can still enjoy the beauty of the balloons, which are especially spectacular at night. The balloon festival website states the “balloon activities are weather dependent” and that balloon glow

“will happen between 6:30-8pm and can end early or start late.” Balloon ascensions are planned for early morning and late afternoons if weather conditions are favorable for flight. Balloon glows are scheduled each evening as well, when balloons return to the field after ascensions. One thing weather won’t affect is the enthusiasm of pilots who enjoy talking about their $50,00– $60,000 aircrafts and the hobby they love. Both Bill and Chuck encourage festival attendees to interact with pilots – assuming they aren’t busy, of course. “Balloonists are pretty open guys,” said Chuck, a South Florida

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FESTIVALS

legend who starred in the movie The Great Balloon Race. “If you have a good personality, introduce yourself. People are very open to the public at events.” You may even be able to transition from spectator to participant. “If you go up to a pilot and explain that you really want to get involved, they’ll give you a dirty job, like having to walk the air out of the balloon, or help packing

balloons up, things like that. Again, having a good personality is the key,” Chuck says. Event organizers say the balloon festival will take place, rain or shine. They obviously understand one of the basic tenants of ballooning. “It’s a weather permitting thing,” Chuck says. “If it’s nice, you go ballooning; if not, you go have a party.” And The Villages is preparing to throw quite a party.

2021 The Villages Balloon Festival Overview on Feb. 5-6 • Antique car show, Saturday, 2-6pm • Polo exhibition, Saturday, 3-4pm • Arts and crafts. • Live music. • Beer and wine will be offered at the Bottom’s Up Boulevard beer garden at the south end of the balloon glow field. A beer cart will also make the rounds. The main bar in the pavilion will be open as well. Water and soft drinks will be available.

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VST Y L E • F EB' 21

• At least 11 food vendors will serve standard fare, and specialties including baconwrapped corn on the cob, jumbo lump crab cakes, New England style lobster rolls, turkey legs, and wood roasted portobello mushroom caps. Food will be sold beginning at 2pm on Friday and Saturday. • Kids can enjoy a fun zone featuring inflatable games and slides, free of charge. Caricature artists and face painters by We Draw the Crowd returns from

last year. Children can explore their artistic sides at a large mural board, where everyone is invited to add their own drawings. • The Fly Me to The Food alley will also feature retail merchants selling aromatherapy/magnetic/ healing needs, CBD products, essential oils, fingernail art products, jewelry/accessories, and Tupperware. • Several businesses and non-profit groups will present information and special offers.


IF YOU GO

THE VILLAGES BALLOON FESTIVAL Feb. 5 & 6 Friday: 3-8p.m. Saturday: 6:30-9a.m. and 3-8p.m. (Gates open at 2p.m.)

Admission: $20 for single day, $30 for a weekend pass. Children 10 and under are free.

*Tickets are $15 for a single day and $20 for a weekend pass if ordered prior to the event. Advance tickets may be ordered online or purchased at The Villages Box Office locations. Presenting sponsor Fross & Fross Wealth Management.

For more information visit: thevillagesballoonfestival.com

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BOOK CLUB

CO MMENTARY

Olive, Again By Elizabeth Strout. A book with a 'It's never too late' message. STORY: KATHY PORTER

ookworm members waited more than 10 years for Elizabeth Strout to reprise her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Olive Kitteridge,” and she has done so impressively with “Olive, Again.” In this bittersweet revival, retired math teacher Olive is in her late 70s. She has mellowed a bit, and although she is still painfully honest, she is less easily angered. Yet, she bemoans the changes in her life and in the little town of Crosby, Maine. Olive is lonely. Her husband Henry has passed away. Her son Christopher lives in New York City with his wife and four children and rarely sees his mother. Olive has never met her grandson, Henry’s namesake. Enter widower Jack Kennison, a retired Harvard professor. He and Olive strike up a friendship born out of mutual loneliness. As her relationship with Jack matures, Olive decides to sell her home and marry Jack.

Her prospective marriage does nothing to improve her relationship with her son. After a disastrous visit by the family, Olive realizes that her son has married a woman just like his mother. No wonder she doesn’t like her. As the novel moves through the years, we meet the various townspeople who are part of Olive’s life in one way or another. Among them are Olive’s former lonely student, Andrea L’Rieux, who is now Poet Laureate and, much to Olive’s disgust, has written a poem about her; the MacPherson family with their unspeakable secrets; Anita Coombs, who always liked Olive and whose children are “looney tunes”; and Olive’s longtime friend Isabelle. We develop a fondness for these characters and, as our emotional connection to Olive intensifies, we recognize this is a testament to Strout’s writing. “Olive, Again” will provide book clubs with the basis for a stimulating discussion about coping with aging, not to mention that it is an outstanding book with brilliant character studies to entertain all readers.

Want to read more about the story of Olive Kitteridge? “Olive, Again” can be found at Target, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or on Amazon.

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Southern Living Sharon Bassett, Owner/Broker

HSE, MRP, RENE, SFR, SRES, GRI, ABR

Kyle Willman Jenelle Littizzio Broker Assistant

RealtorÂŽ


n

Sharon Bassett and her team at Bassett Premier Realty make you feel right at home. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Dianne cb Novak Broker Associate

ver since attending school at a young age, Sharon Bassett would seek self-awareness to motivate her. Today, by challenging herself to exceed her client’s expectations, she continues to evaluate herself and her team to always be better. As the broker and owner of Bassett Premier Realty in Summerfield, Sharon embraces southern hospitality and comfort with all of her clients. Her mission is to be the best brokerage and realtor team that clients have come to trust and glean in finding their perfect home or property. After every home closing, she sends out a survey to her clients to gather their input and feedback on how she and her team served them and to provide a higher level of value and service in meeting her next client’s expectations. Just ask Diane Magoon. Last August, Diane contacted Sharon on a Friday afternoon and informed her she’d be flying from New York to Florida to look at homes the following Monday and Tuesday. Sharon immediately knew she had a small window to meet Diane’s needs and expectations. She immediately rearranged her schedule to gracefully accommodate Diane and her husband, Bruce, and made them feel they were the only focused important client during those 48-hours with Sharon. She generously showed the Magoons 20 houses in two days and helped them find their dream home in The Villages. “If I was ever going to buy another home, Sharon is the real estate agent

I’d use,” Diane says. “She’s friendly, she’s personable, and she’s professional. Most importantly, she paid attention and listened when I told her what I was looking for.” Another client, Carlos Cutler, had an equally satisfying experience with Sharon. Carlos, who lives in New Hampshire, purchased a home in Florida two-and-ahalf years ago to rent. He chose Sharon to be his property manager. “Sharon is a rock star in real estate,” Carlos says. “I never had a worry or concern. Sharon is very transparent and always communicating.” Through Sharon’s unwavering faith in God, exudes her passion to benevolently always serve her staff and clients above and beyond. “My faith has taught me to serve others and try to do the best job I can every day and be kind to everyone,” Sharon says. “The Lord has blessed me with a business, that I absolutely love. We make every effort to elevate love, kindness, and professionalism with our clients. I am so thankful for my family and friends, for my team, and clients who have walked and shared with me in my beliefs.” Sharon has been involved in the housing industry for many years. She earned her real estate license at age 22, studied interior design at SCC, and earned her residential contractor license at age 30. She also managed design centers for several large national building contractors and was the licensed contractor of a 17home subdivision in DeLand. In March 2017, Sharon’s dreams came true was when she opened Bassett Premier Realty. “I was so excited to open my own real estate business. I have a dream board hanging on my wall to constantly remind me of my goals to keep me accountable

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SHARON’S FAITH IS WHAT GIVES HER HOPE, AND SHE DESIRES NOTHING MORE THAN TO SEE WORLD PEACE. THERE’S A BIBLE VERSE THAT IS NEAR AND DEAR TO HER HEART.

and motivated,” she says. “I’ve worked hard to achieve every goal I have set for myself and will continue on defining new goals that feed my passion. Everything happens at the perfect time for the right reasons.”

Corinthians 13: 4-5. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

Why choose Bassett Premier Realty? Sharon has been a licensed Realtor for over two decades. Her knowledge and experience are invaluable when working with both buyers and sellers. She has earned several designation titles and certifications furthering her knowledge to assist in these specific areas that include: Home Staging Expert (HSE); Military Relocation Professional (MRP); Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE); Seller Representative Specialist (SRS); Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource (SFR®); Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®); Graduate, REALTOR® Institute 1 (GRI1); Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®). “We listen to our clients in order to understand why they’re selling or buying a home.

COMING SOON!

We can effectively negotiate to get the best price for their property. Our primary goal is to guide them through the entire process, making it as smooth as possible to make our client’s dreams come true.” When clients hire Bassett Premier Realty to sell their property, we do more than simply placing it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). We heavily invest by showcasing these properties in publications, digitally thru websites and social media, direct mailings, and open houses. Using professional photographers and drone videographers are advantageous to our overall marketing plan. Capturing stunning real estate imagery can significantly sell listings faster by providing the potential buyer a visual experience immediately before viewing a listing firsthand. Of course, while technology is an integral part of a Realtor’s arsenal, it will never replace the TLC aspect of your personal real estate agent. Clients desire agents with extensive, in-depth knowledge of the communities they serve, as well as knowledge of the local market. Having lived in Florida for 34 years, Sharon together with her team possesses this knowledge.

Take a SNEAK PEEK into this GORGEOUS LUXURY ESTATE HOME. No stone was left unturned with this meticulously designed and crafted, resort-like 5B/4.5B/2G GRAND HOME & ENTERTAINMENT PARADISE with amenities GALORE, including Gym, Billiard Room and Outdoor Hibachi Kitchen. Sits privately on 3+ acres, fully fenced, with stunning landscapes, circular driveway, with an additional (4) Car Garage/Carports & (3) RV hookups. Contact us for more information and availability. 352.307.2925


56 LAKE JUNE RD, LAKE PLACID, FL 33852

STUNNING VIEWS! This Custom Built 4 Bedroom, 3 Bath, LAKEFRONT HOME is perfectly nestled on the deepest point in the cove, of the prestigious 3,500 acre freshwater LAKE JUNE in the HEART of Highlands County in Lake Placid Florida. This impressive home has been meticulously cared for by the one owner that designed and built this Lovely home.

$569,750 | MLS #G5037333

As a result, the entire buying process leads to a more relaxed, productive, and stress-free experience. “It’s important to have a local Realtor who knows about the area’s schools and attractions, as well as zoning and restrictions,” Sharon says. “Everyone needs an experienced, local real estate agent who fully understands the area.”

A solid team Sharon is so grateful for her team at Bassett Premier Realty who shares her passion for real estate and aspires to provide excellence in serving their real estate clients.

When Jenelle Littizzio joined the company in April 2018, she had little to no knowledge about real estate. Sharon trusted her faith in Jenelle who assisted in the marketing and advertising of their properties. She has since been promoted to broker assistant/office manager. Her job duties include creating marketing materials for the company’s active listings, processing contracts, and maintaining status reports. Jenelle is now working on gaining her real estate license. “I’m proud of our team and how far we’ve come,” Jenelle says. “We all come together to help one another and make sure all our client’s needs are met.” Part of that togetherness entails daily morning devotionals.

“We do this to bring God in our lives both spiritually and mentally,” Jenelle says. “We give all the glory to Him.” Dianne cb Novak was excited to join Bassett Premier Realty in January as a Broker Associate. She’s been a realtor for 15 years with 10 years as the owner broker of High Ridge Realty of Weirsdale. Though she transitioned from having her own business, she says joining Bassett Premier Realty has been a gratifying experience for her. “I’m really impressed by Sharon,” Dianne says. “I like the way she works, and I know I can learn a lot from her. I love her attention to detail, her friendliness, and her fairness.”

352.307.2925 / BassettPremierRealty.com / Spruce Creek Professional Plaza / 10935 SE 177th Place, Suite 403, Summerfield

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REALTORS

Top Producers Congratulations to the Top Producers of the Realtors® Association of Lake & Sumter Counties.

Multi-Million-Dollar Club Adams Homes Realty Inc.

Beacon Real Estate & Associates

Nita Sacco

Gerri Rosenthal Al Spry

Alberson Realty Michael Alberson Arellano Realty & Investments Karin Arellano Jorge Coello Theresa Kay Ashley Pun Maria Seymour Arrow Realty & Investments Inc. Geoffrey Binneveld Anita Dinard Rena MacPhee Asano Real Estate LLC Leslie Campasano Ashley Realty Group Ashley Taylor Bassett Premier Realty Inc. Sharon Bassett

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Bella Collina Real Estate Company LLC Matt Dixon Dawn Roffey Berkshire Hathaway-Villages Jim McCallum Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Florida Realty Nikki Bartle Mendez Kristie Baumgartner Jinx Bright Dawn Bush Isabel Collins Bob David Jamie Lynn Hane Collie Hendrickson Jr Selina Hicks Brittany Knight Lynn Risch Mike Rivera Candace Van Waes Mary Jo Williams Kara Wisely

Black Tie Real Estate & Investments Mark Dyer Mike Ritzenthaler Karen Scarbrough Alex Scopino BNB Realty Inc. Lori Baker Doug Hampton Paula Purvis Bonjorn Real Estate Pamela Bonjorn Genger Narehood Burton Realty Group LLC Rachel Rivera Cam Realty & Property Management

Carlton Royce International Inc.

Charles Rutenberg Realty Orlando

Olivia McLain

Robert Bryan Arlene Doman Denise Guthrie Glori Hooke Marge Hooper David Kennedy Christopher Murphree Sandy Trzaska Joseph Wynkoop

Catherine Hanson Real Estate Inc. Cheryl Mullen Leslie Rotarius PA Century 21® Alton Clark Joe Hamblin Kathi Hill Susan Prickett Regina Rodriguez Ted Trawick Century 21® Carioti Jurgita Blake Century 21® Prime Property Resources

Beth Atalay

Summer Alvis Nicole Tucci

Carlino Commercial Group Inc.

Century 21® Professional Group

Jeffrey Carlino Maryling Alonso Marty Bouhall Jonathan Martin Alex Vonhartman

Lori Walker

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Jean Nunn April Rager Maria Rodriguez Andrea Summers Lydia Todd Dana Vander Meer Linda Weber

Ronald Musselman Andrew Nolan Janet Shatzer Andrew Stasky

Coldwell Banker® Vanguard Realty

Simon Ambrose Tom Eleazer Double MM Development

Christopher Forbes

Alyse Carter Robin Costoplos Daemon Fields Denise Hedrick Mollie Podell Robert Podell Jr. Lori Reisman

Clermont Lakes Realty Inc.

Connie Mahan Real Estate Group

Kimberly Bergin

Connie Mahan

Coldwell Banker® Realty

Dalton Wade Inc.

Chris Forbes Realty & Development

Jennie Luft PA Christine Peloquin Coldwell Banker® Tony Hubard Jamie Bevelacqua Richard Bisaillon Pam Eddy Renee Goergen Shirley Guercio Kaley Hansen Lisa Haynes Shani Marbais

Nicky Lerch Dana Realty Group LLC

Discover Florida Realty

LLC Mo McLay Down Home Properties LLC Vickie Knight Joy Melanie Moyse Kristen Pillar Kevin Russell Dunn Realty Sean Dunn Mary Dunn Genevieve Matos

Dana Fassett Linda Killoran

Duteau Realty Inc.

Dave Lowe Realty Inc.

Dyson Realty

Susan Brooks Nova Fuller Tony Jackowitch Michele Lowe

Jessica Duteau

Donna Dyson


TOP

Empire Network Realty

EXP® Realty LLC

Florida Realty Investments

Hickory Hill Realty & Management Inc.

Gail Barnard Jarrett Bishop Bonnie Black Lily Boutros Mary Kelly Alice McKillips Kristi Quick

Lois Benaglio Ryan Benaglio

Florida Realty Marketplace

Homeland Florida Realty Inc.

Jeri Anarumo Christine Selzler

Trisha Browne Colleen Donlevy-Burns Brandon English Doreen Landi Cathleen McGrath Michelle Ritson Tracie Ruffolo

Brenda Bell Sabrina Deem PA Chris Feamster Matthew Fenlon Debbie Gentry Dustin Hansen Michael Harris Kevin Howard Brandy Lake Donald Maycott Bryan McDaniel Monica McDonald Kenny Riehm Chris Sanford Kathy Tucker Kelly Wheeler Dawn Williams

ERA® American Realty

Expert Advisors Group

Tina Teraskiewicz PA

Dawn Theroux

James Armstrong III Mandy Fisher Wendy Moore Bryan Nelson Eddy Workinger Jr.

Four Star Home Brokers Inc.

Diana Mahadeo Encore Premier Realty Inc. Dani Roberts Engel & Völkers

ERA® Grizzard Real Estate Melissa Barnes Stacy Bracewell Mel Burich Toni Chapman Christi Charpia Doug DuVarney Nancy Fallon Sharon Gamble Christine Graf Lauri Grizzard Ricky Harper Kaylyn Howard LLC Heather Jackson Shannon King Tammy PA King Dalemarie Lamb-Witter Loretta Maimone Karol McDermott Dustin Meyers Ira Miller Marilyn Morris Genie Muldoon Misty Noland Clarissa Rainey Jim Richardson Lindsay Sellars Margaret Smith Julie Townsend Ann Van De Veer Kenneth Weber Cynthia Wheeler Sharon Wooten Craig Yox Executive Florida Realty Inc. Tony Piccione Exit Realty® Tri-County Shirley Peacock Carolyn Tessada Jack Voller

Fontana Realty West Ocala

Garnet Eversole Colleen A. Kramer

Fierce Realty

Foxfire Realty

Carolyn M. Maimone Stacy Potter PA

Gerard Corbin Fran Dann-Akin Carol Lench Robert Loiselle Donna Moody Cheryl Parisi-Ciolfi Cheri Pecoraro Jill Ruell Linda Sanfilippo PA John Tanzi Dottie Wise

Flamingo Real Estate & Management Robbie Shoemaker Leesa Wales Florida Fine Homes Realty LLC Jill Buckley Laura Carver Lori Purcell Catherine Tarquini

Future Home Realty Inc. Susan Moeller

Florida Heritage Real Estate Group LLC

Garden Gate Real Estate Inc.

Sherri O’Neal

Valerie Barber Jami Robinson

Florida Lifestyle Realty Group Karen Riscinto Florida Plus Realty LLC Claire Brooks Christina Greenslade Lesley Greenslade Bob Mager Nicky Martz Mary Mateo Jessica McKinney June Moore Norma Sebert Diana Stone Tonya Tibbetts Sandy Twito

High Cotton Realty LLC

Mariellen Owens

La Rosa Realty Horizons LLC

Morris Realty and Investments

Homerun Realty LLC

Sabine Bayona PA Sonya Dumas Terri Kuebbeler Bobby Orr

Michael England Lana Flodman Elizabeth Izquierdo Clayton Quest

Yanett Saborido

Nan Seelall

La Rosa Realty Winter Garden LLC

JMR Realty Inc. James Romeyn Keller Williams® Cornerstone Real Estate Karen Kamperman Debra Kline Crystal McCall Keller Williams Realty CS

John Kelty

Hancock Real Estate

Crystal Bracero Regina Cruz Cheryl Glover Debbie Hauert Kasey Hilyard David Johnston Nancy Lezotte Edward Lian Anamaria Marquez Brandie Mathison-Klein Tom McKnight Christine Newsome PA Adam Rodriguez Arielle Schaefer Rose Siegler Patricia Sierra Debra Vallier

Heirloom Realty International Elizabeth Downes

Nai Heritage LLC

Brandi Stewart List Now Realty LLC Matt Buttner

Rob Crawford Greg Nacke

Keller Williams® Elite Partners III Realty

Craig Hegstrom

Lake Real Estate Group

Kellie & Co Real Estate

Kelty Realty LLC

Joan Defoe Kim Ducharme-Levensohn Lauren Fickett Lynn Haynes Jo Leen Howe Camie Kennedy Theresa Morris Guy Shipley Kevin Shipley Scott Strem Lena Williams Move Florida Real Estate

Loch Realty Group

Kellie Wheeler

Susan Halverson PA Monique McGuire

Sherae Blair Oscar Brea PA Samuel Cruz P.A Ivette Garcia

Audrey Benassi

Daniel Tatro

Hegstorm Realty

La Rosa Realty LLC

Homesmart

Ashton Kreidel

Sean Rich Adam Rich

Mary Jane Easley Janet Pratt Cesar Villarroel Monique McGuire Realty Inc.

Kreidel Realty Group

Harbor Hills Sales Inc.

Keller Williams® Realty Elite Partners IV

Mission Inn Real Estate Inc.

Barbara Cifelli Dani D’Angelo Mark Donohue Coach Torrance II Jennifer Warren

Ginger Mansour

Grizzard Commercial Real Estate

Matthew Mobley Mitchell Stiefel

Melinda Weprin Nick Whitehouse

Lokation Jerry Buysse Steven Simpkins Maximum Realty Investments Heather Earnest Micki Blackburn Realty Daniel Brady Patricia Daries Andrea Edgington Janet Gibbs Michael Lovett Cindy Newman Dale Odom Joe Patterson Annie Ragar Mid Florida Real Estate Brokerage

REALTORS

Will Schinagl

Timothy Sennett Nancie Lyons Realty Nancie Lyons Narrow Road Realty Brad Verkaik National Land Realty LLC Richard Gonzalez Nexthome KD Premier Realty Liz Bell Chris Day Nanette Elliott PA John Hoad Cindy Hughes Jason Kranz PA Alexandrea Melyn Kimberly Scudder Kelly Shipes Patrick Shores Angie Taylor Nexthome Orange Blossom Real Estate Ana Afshin Noble Realty Kyle Lawrence

Susan Ellis

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REALTORS

Ocala Realty World LLC

Picket Fence Realty LLC

Kimberly McElroy

Melissa Samar

Olympus Executive Realty Inc.

Pileggi Real Estate Group

Reto Badraun PA Melanie Bigio Sharon Black Marsha Burton Gordon Sinnia Calderon LLC Marcus Correa PA Raisa Devore Josh Duclos Mandy Gerow PA Krichely Gonzalez Rodriguez PA Andre Hernandez Larry Hilton Jr Kari Labarca PA Danay Lay Jay McGriff Jr Jorge Mulet Sr PA Kirstie O’Banner PA Eileen Patterson Auristela Perez Carrasquero Mary Poillion PA Nancy Pruitt PA Jackie Rogers Cindy Sapp Wilfred Sierra Sosa PA Mary Stallone Monica Velez LLC Leonardo Vidal PA Sandra Wyhnanskyj PA

Teresa Pileggi

Optima One Realty Inc. Caleb Cox Joshua Earley Kathy Entler Brian Martin Jon Powell Tony Stanley Amber Steadham Orlando Homes & Investments Noel Moenssens Orlando Realty Solutions LLC Celie White Pal Realty Debra Askew Cary Fier Betty Fitch Linda Grabusic Mary Jane Grimes Sheryl Mowry-Miller Parrish Realty Group Inc. Michelle Parrish

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Preffered Real Estate Brokers III VIV Cunningham PA Mario Deniz Michael Huculak Tommy Mydlo II Chris Walker Sr Preffered Real Estate Brokers William Perry Premier Sotheby’s Int’l Realty Tana Darley LLC Dawn Giachetti Janet Hoffman Property FindersConway Realty Jeannene Case Missy Conway RE/MAX® Freedom April Couturier Scott Hubbard Jacob Pfaff Kimberly Volean Stephen Yohn RE/MAX® Neighborhood Professionals Kim Beisley Dawn Brooks Sammi Brooks Kimberly Jones-Wilde Rich Sczykutowicz RE/MAX© PREMIER REALTY Kim Aschman Mike Baas Denise Beserock Carla Boyd Marianne Buchanan Lynn Bucklew Paul Carraway Keith Caulk Tammy Dunseath Holly A. Farley Anthony Filone Tammy Freilich Marty Goff Heather Hamilton Peter Hettmann Erica Jacobs Gina Johnson

Judi Johnson Katy Kelly Andy Key Kim Luxem Debbie Martin Jarene Mathias Faith Mileo Dave Monty Robert Payne Mark Sevegny Adriana Skoloda Kendall Vansant Jimmy Wendrickx Sharon Wick LLC Hope Wilson PA RE/MAX® Premier Realty Lady Lake Henry Allcott Lynn Bartlett LD Black Bowers-Black Ms. Gerrie Cosme Matias Holly Denton Mary Dyer Leslie Harker Thomas Heller Kyle Lambert Fred Lippert Thomas Oldenborg Larry Quartararo III Debbie Roberts Matt Roberts Rose Rupe Brad Salmons Diane Siefkas Robert Slutsky John Starr Cindy Steinemann Wendy Vogt Guy Williams Jr. Joy Wilson Deborah Woods RE/MAX® Results Real Estate

Realty Executives® Gallery Properties Enger Barnes Realty Executives® In the Villages Kathy Abruzzo Patti Belton Bob Berube Kandis Buse Bill Clarke PA Sherri Crider PA Sheila Davis Tim Davis Scott Dunn Jeff Dyer Terri Edwards Lisa Esposito Amanda Fincher LLC Melissa Huennekens Doug Lange Alan Lauder Karla Mason Annette McCullough Rick McKean Riley Mills Jr. Donna Normington Sunny Parsons Donna Pattemore Frances Pierce PA Cheri Probert Jana Raber Steve Savage PA Peggy Schaefer Debbie Schoonover Pasquale Serafino Cheryl Simmons Cissie Smith Realty Professionals of FL LLC Julie Clay Harvey Rosenberg

Donna Cline-Hansard Elizabeth Dietrich PA Linda Engelbrecht Carlos Fuentes PA Vickie Iverson Laura Jensen Matt Jensen Carol Julianelli Sharon King Sally Love Jayne Marvin Frank Melino Lori Morgan PA Nathan Piotrowski Lena Sharff Jeannie Ulmer Ron Wallace Zachary Watson Cindy Wise Jenna Wood Michelle Zieth Sandy & Ray Realty LLC Ray DiTirro Scates Realty & Investment Properties Eileen Scates Sellstate Superior Realty Susan BeVille PA Diane Gatelein Lillian Gauvin Mary Hart William Peck Linda Sears Susan Wellington Jack Wilson PLLC Shipes and Lawrance Inc. Kathleen Lawrence

Spruce Creek Real Estate LLC Katy Crouse

Vickie Couture St. Clair Realty Group LLC

Vintage Realty Inc.

Tina St. Clair

Skye Smathers

Stake Your Land Realty Inc.

Visionary Properties Inc.

Katina Hargrove

Evan Merritt

Mary Baker Judy Blundell Louise Janssen Bonnie Kosson Jody Zeller

Sunshine State Realty

Watson Realty Corp

Ashlee Mohammed

Jonathan Faw Kay Hill Melissa Horbal Linda Lake Nancy McCloskey Jody Parks Patti Pate Denise Pierce Larry Pierce Christine Tangusso Deborah Zimmer

Sumter Realty

Team Wyn Realty LLC Gloria Wyninger Terza Real Estate Shelley Emery The Corcoran Connection LLC Jennifer Garrison Nancy Simpson Eccles The Florida Property Shop Sale Sarah Gholami Touchstone Real Estate Bobbi Bain Denise Beyer Cindy Coldren Addie Owens

Jearri Bush Jim Middleton Jr.

Right Realty Connection Inc.

RE/MAX® Titanium Group

Bethany Burge Bosbous Geoffrey Chernault Greg Sizer

Signature International Real Estate LLC

Travis Realty Group

Carolina Rosillo

Robert Slack LLC

Joy Ray Diane Travis

Smith & Smith Realty Inc.

Melissa Becorest Joe Carlisle Joe Cooper Darlene Misciagno Marisol Ortega P.A. Keith Packey Corrine Ritzel Michele Rueff Real Living Resolutions William Kolb Jer Kolb

Sid Benachenhou Ron Espittia Randall Kain Tonya Lathrop Paige Rosen Rock Springs Realty LLC Joel Bornstein

Realteam Realty Inc.

Sally Love Real Estate Inc.

Trish Leisner

Terrie Alderman Nancy Britton

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Danny Smith Southern Style Management Inc. Matthew Ferland Kay Lawson Spouses with Houses Realty Rachael Segarra

Vickie Couture Real Estate Services LLC

Tyre & Taylor Commercial Realty Glenn Tyre Vangie Berry Signature Realty Ryan Berry Brenda Flagg Duane Lanier Angela Phillips Michael Tart Susan Tindel

Watson Realty Corp. Realtors® Gigi Capria Dennis Hjorten Rhonda Moretti Michael Stich Weichert Realtors® Hallmark Properties Julie Hall Betty Hensinger April Stevenson Joey Feeser Nancy Haufe Edward Payeskie Jr Wheatley Realty Group Awilda Lopez Brandon Smith Matthew Wheatley Alison Wheatley Whittington Real Estate Lili Whittington Xcellence Realty Inc. Eneida Cortes Eugene Cusie


TOP

REALTORS

Million-Dollar Club Paddy Patterson Misti Winters

Ray Levy Becki Stauber

Down Home Properties LLC Cassandra Cavanaugh Stacey Gottdenker Hannah Joy

Jill Nelan

Berkshire Hathaway Hometeam

Ace It Realty

Tess US Uddenback Slack

Century 21® Alton Clark

Community Realty LLC

Claudia Harbaugh Svyla Karageorge Kwynn Nicholas Betty Salas Anne Sasser Edward Whitman

Craig Jacobs

Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Florida Realty

A Real Estate Boutique LLC

Candice Czaplak All Florida Homes Realty LLC Ashley Robey Allen Realty & Investments, Inc. JoAnn Pendley Amerivest Realty Philip Dowling Perrine PhippsDowling Dolly Plant Angler Real Estate & Dev. Fred Plummer Arellano Realty & Investments Diana Kepley Diana Suarez Susie Westbrook Arrow Realty & Investments Inc. Randy Heimos Assist2sell Buyers & Sellers Karen Tefft Bassett Premier Realty Inc. Maria Covella Beach Avenue Brokers Lisa Rose

Jennifer Conner Billie Dahl Debra DeGelormo Jessica Essig Robert Kilgore Joanne Levy Glenys Rojas Pena BlackTie Real Estate & Investments Pete Campbell Lauren Lester Bosshardt Realty Services LLC Bev Anderson Bryan Properties, Inc. Paul Bryan, II Burke Realty Lena Berry Jeff Burke Can Realty, LLC Nicole May Carlino Real Estate Group Inc. Sandra DeDalis Catherine Hanson Real Estate, Inc. Jean Barlow George Kittleson Jill Moorman

Century 21® Prime Property Resources Kelly Rice Robert Southern, Jr. Champion Real Estate Group Inc. Kandi Hardesty Charles Rutenberg Realty Orlando

Dunn Realty

Connie Mahan Real Estate Group

Jamie Dunn

Rosa Brito Alex DeFrancisci Samantha Merritt Amanda Yarbrough

Duteau Realty Inc.

Dalton Wade Inc.

Edward Fox, IV

Dennis Knauss Jr. LInc.oln Loucks

Engel & Völkers

Dan Snyder Realty Services,Inc.

Joao Berriel PA Celia Davis Lisa Reed Todd Tharp

Dan Snyder Dave Ellis Realty, LLC

Asheley Raybon

Expert Advisors Group

Ed Fox Real Estate

Jon Wanberg Chad Williams

ERA American Realty Mirian Metcalf Mark Siegel

Dave Lowe Realty, Inc.

ERA® Grizzard Real Estate

Barbara McGuire Jeremy Stevens

Kirby Cartwright, IV Kathy Ghearing Ashley Lowe Pamela Myers Tammy Sharp

Coldwell Banker® Tony Hubbard

David Chenevert Realty

Paul Bills, Jr Dennis Bronson Nashay Hughes Jessica Purvis Vicki Thomas Vici Winn

David Chenevert

Olga Jakubowski Paul Kelly Carl Martin Hope Medina Kristen Myer Megan Phipps Stacey Ray Barbara Thompson PA Doug Troyer

Discover Florida Realty

Coldwell Banker® Vanguard Realty

Doran Real Estate Company

Coldwell Banker® Stevens Real Estate

Luciana Beck Bill Casey Patricia Casey Dana Latimer

Patricia King Val Palmer

Georgina Doran

Exit® Realty Tri-County Steven Boone Lynn Gagnon Jessie Kulpan Donny Stokes Sam Walsh EXP® Realty LLC Dennis Atanacio Bryant Day, Jr

Florida First Realty Associates LLC Melody Ostrom Michelle Ressler

Dave Ellis

Deborah Elliott Mercedes Ibarra Sejba Chrissy Keene Bradley Moore

Chad Gunter Mary Jo Hatley Breanna Mansfield Kelly Monroe Francine Sell-Phillips Lynn Shepherd Willy Sybert Danny Torchia James Torrance Jose Vega

Florida Lifestyle Realty Group Lorie Clarke Reese, PA Florida Plus Realty, LLC Bibi Rucker Margie Smith

Joyce Ann Ellis Randy Erb Veronica Jauregui Teresa Ouellette Michael Palmer Sharon Smith Russell Stevens Tina Williams Greg Wood Future Home Realty Inc. Renata Cockburn Galbreath Realty, Inc. Gerald Galbreath Garden Gate Real Estate, Inc. Michelle Bevill Barry Blake Robin Cropp Rex Rutledge Tom Tran George Ann Lavender Properties George Lavender

Florida Real Estate Center LLC

Global Properties Sales/Mgmt

Jelixa Novo Don Wilson

Bill Marsh Joe Pietzyk

Florida Realty Investments

Gunn Property Services, LLC

Tracy King

Pam Gunn

Four Star Home Brokers, Inc.

Hancock Real Estate

Linda Biggs Jim Cote

Joe Larrabee

Foxfire Realty Gary Arnold Bonita Baker Timothy Condron

Holland Realty, Inc. Michael Holland

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REALTORS

Holly Curley Choice Realty, Inc. Holly Curley Homecoming Realty Group Inc. Pam Taylor Homesellers of Central Florida Mike Joy Homesmart Angela Tahal Jhanco LLC Jean Hanson John Edwards Realty Investment April Allain John Roberts Realty Janel Semonasky Fred Slotnick Just a Farmgirl Realty LLC Danielle Newsome K & J Property Services, LLC Jessica Sciacca Keller Williams Cornerstone Real Estate

Lisa Ferris Dana Kuharske Shelly Linder Sean Pankalla Luz Starrett

Narrow Road Realty

Preffered Real Estate Brokers III

Charlene Degroot Leslie Verkaik

Anyssia Singh Pamela Tarver Stephanie Williams

La Rosa Realty Orlando LLC

Nexthome KD Premier Realty

Evelyn Feliciano

Lisa Hoad Charles McGuire Nancy Reynolds Chris Schmidt, PA Bronwyn Talley Jamye Toale Eric Wiersma

La Rosa Realty, LLC Nicole Bonadies Joey Saez Paul Tangalan La Rosa Realty Winter Garden LLC Laterria Jones

Number One Choice Realty Corp.

Debbie Payne

Daulis Webb

Lake County Home Team, Inc.

Olympus Executive Realty Inc.

Sheryl Wilburth

Jill Kruse Tiffany Lawson Alyssa Rodriguez

Elaine Auston Bob Currie Frank Dolney Renee Lannaman James Limpus Tina McDonald Christine Pasqualino Kirsty Pitts

Lakeshore Realty Inc.

Optima One Realty, Inc.

Amy Whitaker Jen Meece

Lindsey Barker Vrex Isaac Ashley Jordan Aimee Stanley Troy Steadham

Lake Real Estate Group

Madison Allied LLC

Kreidel Realty Group

Paul Wulf

Emily Fletcher

MEB Realty

Jon Hernandez Tiki Jackson Whitney Saldana Gale Springer Keller Williams® Realty Elite Partners IV Steven Robinson Brad Rosel

Barbara Hemingway Micki Blackburn Realty Bernice Kaczneski Kerri Leininger Moffett Real Estate Crista Moffett Moore Realty Group,Inc. Robert Moore

La Rosa Realty CW Properties LLC

Morris Realty and Investments

Carrie Kirkland

Felicia Wagner

La Rosa Realty Horizons LLC

Mount Dora Golf and Lake Realty

Jess Beckford amal Bensaoui

John Welch

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Florina Sharrock

Lake Compass Realty Group

Marguerite Garvey

Keller Williams® Elite Partners III Realty

Nexthome Orange Blossom Real Estate

Orlando Homes & Investments Noel Moenssens Oxford Land Company Reginald Caruthers Robby Strickland Pal Realty Kirk Morel Palisades Realty Inc. Deena Thurmond Patterson Realty Janice Patterson Richard Patterson Paul Buchanan, LIC. R.E. Broker Paul Buchanan

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Preffered Realty Management Group Jim Carruthers Edye Holt Premier Homes Realty of FL LLC Rick Itwaru RE/MAX® Freedom Clay Bass Stephanie Ray Sharon Whitman Karey Team Yarborough RE/MAX® Premier Realty Debbie Affatato Sharon Baldwin Jack Boyd Lisbeth Cline Dustin Dubie Kimberly Hennessy Patti Shappy Will Siebert RE/MAX® Premier Realty Lady Lake Lisa Atkinson Oliver Deffenbaugh Marilyn Fletcher Bonnie Graham Ellie Hennessee Buddy Lewis Martha Lewis Marilyn Ptalis Becky Rainwater Roland Stults Bob Woodsford RE/MAX® Results Real Estate Elaine Giddens RE/MAX® Titanium Group Dana Broadway Krish D’errico Octavio Ibarra Bill McElhill Stephen Misciagno Maria Molina Ed Sloniker Terri Steck Real Estate Investment CFL Trey Aulls III

Realty Choices, LLC Stanley Carroll Dee Hill Realty Connect Teri Paduano Realty Executives® In The Villages Lauren Arch Austin Bakich Mike Byrne Gail Carter Lisa Cline Poppy Donnelly Sean Donnelly Cindy Dunn Ann Dyer Darcie Furnier Bob Gallucci Mary Grant Martin Gregory Julie Haines Lee Harper Barbara Kac Eddie Manson Realty Executives® Lifestyle Group Thomas Clark Angie Colon Realty Partners LLC Debbie Antolik

James Miller Rae Pearson Karen Price

Uptown Properties

Sellstate Superior Realty

Vangie Berry Signature Realty

Terry Bole Andrea Bonivich Greg Kelly Diana Killen Deanna Langley DeLynda Pratt Laura Shea Rooster VanderRoest Sandy Windham Susan Zeigler

Tera Morgan

Smith & Smith Realty, Inc.

Carlin Washo

Jim Larsen Billie Faye Smith

Watson Realty Corp.

Spouses with Houses Realty Cindy Duane Michell Middleton Bob Sharff Sumter Realty Joel Merritt Tadlock Realty Jennifer Tadlock-Story

Realty Professionals of FL, LLC

Terza Real Estate

Jennifer George Douglas Silber

The Florida Property Shop Sale

Reyes Real Estate LLC

Elizabeth Turner

Judd Bristo Richland Properties

Marilyn Pelletti

Delphine Lampert

Vintage Realty, Inc. Ronda Gingerich Allison Petruccelli Bill Petruccelli Washo Real Estate Company

Kim Koch Ana Zitnick Watson Realty Corp., Realtors® Tara Nieves Trujillo Kris Persaud Ellen Tidwell Weichert Realtors® Hallmark Properties Anjeanette Connor Lynne Cox Tammy Girard Ric Smelser Patti Stokes Joanne Galyean, PA Leslie Jarrard Anna Miosky Ariya Mobed

The Market Realty Group

Wheatley Realty Group

Joe Saunders

Shani Carty Pam Howell

Seth Richard

Travis Realty Group

RLW Realty

David Picciano

White Pelican Realty, Inc.

Tri Coast Realty LLC

Young Real Estate

Noel Lawrence

Karin Mezzell

Jessica Starkey Rochette Realty LLC Edward Rochette Rock Springs Realty, LLC

Tribe Realty Jennifer Kraschinsky

Dawn Hosier

Tyre & Taylor Commercial Realty

Rocker Realty, Inc.

Lee Johnson Donald Oliver

Tracy Summers Sally Love Real Estate Inc. Walter Coe Kris DiLeva Jim Hill Teena Levy

Tyre & Taylor Realty, Inc. Sue Hooper

Martha Hoffman


“We can honestly say that whilst we were somewhat reluctant to sign with Wiseman owing to the long lead time from contract signing to completion, the finished product was well worth the wait. The custom design is exactly what we asked for and we maintain that the craftsmanship of the pool, spa, equipment, pavers, screen enclosure, and summer kitchen are second to none.” — TOM & LYNDA MURPHY

We know that every single customer is unique—Building Unique Pools is our company motto—and so every project we undertake is delivered to a client’s signature set of personal tastes and, where necessary, solves any challenges their property may present. 352-431-3766 | www.WisemanPools.com | 1517 W Main St., Leesburg Wiseman Pools is a family-owned-and-operated, licensed residential and commercial swimming pool builder with an extensive portfolio of projects. From the small—fountains and in-ground spas. To the large—million dollar installations with multiple pools and spas. Our customers, large and small, demand a quality swimming pool for a fair price. And we deliver.


We Are Ready to Knock Out COVID-19.

A Little Vaccine Packs a Big Punch of Protection! Our residents and staff are already scheduled to receive the Coronavirus vaccine! YOURLife has spent the last 9 months working diligently to keep our residents safe, healthy and happy – now those efforts include the vaccination of our residents, staff and essential family caregivers. TM

10 70 0

US HW Y 44 1, LEESB

352.25

URG | O PEN DA I L Y 11 A M -9

3.2442

|

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BEST OF THE

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Now is the time to make the transition – and secure your loved one in our vaccination schedule! Call Jessica for more information.

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Life Life

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7330 Powell Road | Wildwood, FL 34785 YourLifeWildwood.com Assisted Living Facility License #13436

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INTRODUCING

TOPREALTORS

®

2021

The Top Realtors® 2021 features a stellar group of salespeople whose goal is not only selling, but making sure their clients are 100 percent satisfied. In fact, many of them get to know each person they deal with personally to ensure buying a home, property, or commercial space is something remembered with pride. You’ll recognize many of their faces because they’re not only Top Realtors, they’re a part of every community in Lake and Sumter counties. They share their skills and their time with a number of charities and foundations. Enjoy getting to know the Top Realtors 2021 just a little better.

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REALTORS

Morris Realty &

Investments Camie Kennedy 352.408.4668

Felicia Wagner 352.638.1264

Kim

Ducharme Levensohn

Lynn Haynes

352.874.5906

352.516.0903

Lauren Fickett 352.636.2167

Lena Williams 352.636.4488

Theresa Morris 352.360.3736


Scott Strem 352.978.3428

Mike Barrett

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REALTORS

Jo Leen Cooper Howe

352.255.5710

352.267.0770

Charlie Costar

Guy Shipley

Kevin Shipley 352.744.7539

Lindsay Sanders 352.661.0232

321.356.3755

407.402.5123

Joan DeFoe 352.516.6843

Theresa Morris, Broker/Owner of Morris Realty and Investments, is proud to introduce you to her award winning team. The Morris Realty & Investments team is at the top of their game! When it comes to buying or selling your home, of course you want the most distinguished real estate agency in Lake & Sumter Counties on your team. Winning for our clients is our top story. The agents at Morris Realty & Investments rank #6 out of 317 agencies in Lake & Sumter Counties with only 19 agents, topping other local agencies with over 200 realtors. The professionals at Morris

Realty are more active, more productive and work harder for their clients. This all-star team knows what it takes to succeed for you. Broker and Owner Theresa Morris has been leading this all-star team for over 13 years and sets the game plan for agency performance with her commitment to principled service and dedication to serving our local community. Morris Realty & Investments serves Lake, Sumter, Marion,

and Orange counties. They have retirement and lakefront property specialists on staff, along with property management and commercial services to meet whatever needs their clients have. You can’t go wrong with any of these “Top Producers” on the Morris Realty TEAM! Make calling Morris Realty & Investments today your top priority and let us hit a home run for you!

10135 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg 352.435.4663 (Home) ≈ MorrisRealtors.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE F E B ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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Dan Brady

Realtor®, Property Management, Micki Blackburn Realty At the office of Micki Blackburn Realty, real estate agents have come up with a spot-on nickname for their co-worker Dan Brady. He’s simply known as “Dan the Man.” It’s a well-deserved moniker. Dan, who has been employed at the company for 22 years, assumes multiple roles. He’s a property manager who oversees Micki Blackburn Realty’s 52 home rentals. He also sells commercial and residential real estate. He efficiently juggles both duties. Since becoming property manager, Dan has increased the company’s number of home rentals from 10 to 52. As a real estate agent, he achieved more than $3 million in sales in 2020. “I don’t know of anyone else who could do everything that he does,” says Micki Blackburn, owner of the company. “He has been with me for many years and has a special place in my heart. He’s a prince.” As property manager, Dan coordinates activities between landlord and tenant and handles the day-to-day activities that are centered around the home or property. The job can be stressful.

Each day, he must resolve tenant concerns and complaints. While most people dread communicating with angry clients, Dan welcomes the challenge. “What I really enjoy in my role as property manager is problem-solving issues that arise,” he says. “I want everyone to be happy.” Sometimes, his roles of property manager and real estate agent overlap, meaning clients who start out renting a home ultimately become buyers. “Because of their circumstances, their credit is not too good and they end up renting a home. This allows them to maintain the house, make their payments on time, and establish stronger credit,” he says. “Then they’re able to buy the house. This has happened with my clients on several occasions and makes me extremely happy.” Working at Micki Blackburn Realty makes him equally happy. “The support, unity, and reputation of this company is why I enjoy being here,” Dan says. “Micki and myself both stand for honesty and integrity. I have no desire to leave.” That’s music to Micki’s ears. “He’s hard-working, eventempered, and just an all-around great guy,” Micki says. In other words, Dan certainly is the man.

450 E. Hwy 50 Suite #1, Clermont, FL, 34711 ≈ 352.516.3257 mickirealty.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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REALTORS

Amanda

Yarbrough Realtor®, Connie Mahan Real Estate Group

Connie Mahan (L) Amanda Yarbrough (R)

Spotlighting Amanda

As a professional, Amanda Yarbrough’s focus has always been her clients. She has maintained that mindset working as a hairdresser for the past 14 years, since 2007 when she opened her own shop in Sumterville called Southern Sass Salon, and now, as a Realtor with Connie Mahan Real Estate Group after becoming licensed as an agent in November, 2019. Owner Connie Mahan immediately recognized Amanda’s potential and today, has proudly honored her with the title of “Top Realtor” for 2020. “We’re going into our 10th year in business and we have never had a new agent, in their first year, be able to break the $2-million; almost $3-million sales mark,” Connie says of Amanda. “It’s a big deal for her and it’s a big deal for us. She’s definitely a hard worker.” For Amanda, the recognition justifies her transition into real estate and confirms her thought process of, “If I can handle women and hair, I can handle real estate. I was already experienced in talking with people and learning what their needs were, so real estate just came natural.” Today, Amanda, aside from her stylist duties, lists and sells residential and commercial properties in Citrus County, and throughout Lake and Sumter Counties. Amanda says she is excited and proud to have earned Top Realtor status from Connie, but most of all, in how she got there. “In every situation, my goal is being as straight forward and honest as possible with every one of my clients,” Amanda says. “I think people find it important knowing that when they come to me at #TEAMCMREG, they are getting the best advice, the best deal, the right inspections and ultimately, the home they want.” “I want people to feel they can always trust me, that I am in it for them and not just to get the sale. I feel like this is E S T A T Ewhat GRO P supposed to be doing.” I Uam REAL ESTATE GROUP

connie mahan REAL

connie mahan

connie mahan Amanda Yarbrough ≈ 352.457.0394 REAL ESTATE GROUP 218 N. Florida St., Suite 1, Bushnell ≈ 352.569.0233 ≈ conniemahan.com experience you can close on

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REALTORS

Visionary

Properties Professionalism, high ethical standards, and honesty have been trademarks of Visionary Properties, which was opened by broker Mary Baker in 2000. She and her dedicated team of real estate agents go above and beyond to meet their customers demands. “We’re the only broker in Lake and Sumter counties that has a dedicated customer service department,” Mary says. “We’re all about customers’ needs. Period.” That customer service department is manned by Mary Robertson and Steve Longshore. They match buyers with quality agents and enrich all aspects of their customers real estate experience. They also are a sounding board of expert advice along the way. Last February, Mary moved the company from Tavares to downtown Leesburg. Moving to the Lakefront City is bittersweet for Mary, who graduated from Leesburg High School in 1977. “I love being part of downtown Leesburg,” she says. “Approximately 75 percent of business comes from The Villages, so we’re now closer and more centrally located.”


Congratulations to our 2020 multimillion dollar producers and staff Judy Blundell,

Louise Janssen,

REALTOR®

REALTOR®

Specializing in 55+ communities, The Villages, Waterfront homes, and all of Lake County.

I am your Villages specialist. I live and work in The Villages. Call me to guide you through the lifestyle of our community and to choose the home for you.

Jody Zeller,

Steve Longshore,

REALTOR®

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Listing and selling homes in and around The Villages. I am always here to help with all your real estate transactions.

Providing concierge service for the buyers home search. Building trust and loyalty for Visionary Properties.

Bonnie Kosson,

Marjorie Graham,

REALTOR®

Don’t tell people your plans. Show them your results and always with a smile.

Randy Owens,

TRANSACTION COORDINATOR

Assisting our agents and their customers during each stage of the transaction from contract to closing.

Mary Robertson,

REALTOR®

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Specializing in Sarasota County, including Osprey, Venice, and Englewood.

Providing concierge service for the buyers home search. Building trust and loyalty for Visionary Properties.

1012 West Main St., Leesburg ≈ 352.636.2733 flpropertiesinvision.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE F E B ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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REALTORS

Jessica

Huey Graham Realtor®, ERA Grizzard Real Estate Jessica Huey Graham has always dedicated her life to three things: God, family, and work. These are the pillars through which she has found success and continues to thrive in her career and life.

Clarissa

Rainey Realtor®, ERA Grizzard Real Estate Clarissa Rainey has been a top producer for all four short years of her career in real estate. Growing up in Gainesville, and later moving to Oxford, Clarissa now resides in Ocala. Through golfing and selling homes all over Central Florida, she is very familiar with the area. As a “horse girl,” she loves selling farms and homes with large plots of land. “I am passionate about the real estate business and love helping people achieve their goals, whether it’s purchasing a forever dream home or selling their current home or property,” Clarissa says. “The most wonderful asset of this business is the wide variety of professional connections that I have made, as well as the personal bonds I have formed with my clients.” Clarissa appreciates the diversity she experiences in the real estate profession, and although it can be “extremely challenging at times, it is still the most rewarding job and I love it,” she says. She credits her success in real estate to networking, and her “gift of gab.” Clarissa does very little advertising but relies on her communication skills, referrals, and local knowledge for acquiring new clients. “Flexibility, mobility, and the ability to travel across not only Florida but the U.S. meeting new people makes this job so attractive,” Clarissa says. She finds value in every person she meets, and takes her job to heart, going above and beyond to make her clients feel special. She strives for each customer to have the best buying or selling experience, and stands by her motto: “No job is too far, too big, or too small… I love them all!”

Jessica Huey Graham (L) and Clarissa Rainey

Jessica Huey Graham: 352.504.7772 ≈ Clarissa Rainey: 352.226.0982 1300 Citizens Blvd., Leesburg ≈ ERAGrizzard.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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Felecia

Ricky

Realtor , ERA Grizzard Real Estate

Realtor®, ERA Grizzard Real Estate

REALTORS

Humphrey Harper ®

Felecia Humphrey has been in real estate since 2011, earning the Rookie of the Year Award in her first-year and Realtor of the Month in 2018. She is also a consistent multi-million-dollar producer selling over 5 Million Dollars in real estate in 2020 alone. The first year into her career she was asked to join ERA Grizzard’s “A-Team,” involved in a worldwide referral system, this is where Felecia gets some of her business as well as referrals from a multitude of previously satisfied customers. Felecia has been an affiliate with Homes for Heroes, an organization that works with our military, first responders, and front line workers such as teachers, doctors, nurses, and veterinarians. Please ask her how you can receive monies back for buying or selling a home through a couple of different programs! This is her way of giving back to our Heroes! Purchasing or selling a home is one of your biggest decisions, with her expertise in real estate she will guide you from beginning to the end of the transaction! “Honesty, integrity, knowledge, and experience sums it up! I’m here for you from beginning to closing and beyond!”

As an accomplished professional in the real estate industry, Ricky Harper is driven to see that each transaction is successful to the day of closing by keeping everyone informed and providing the best service. Being dedicated and instilled with a market-savvy attitude, and using highly effective marketing tools, Ricky knows that the real estate transaction represents the most important purchase or sale a person can make; whether the person is a first-time homebuyer or an investor. “It is really about getting to know my clients personally, being straightforward and honest,” says Ricky. The proof is in his work ethic. Ricky has been recognized at the national level in 2019 as a Top Producer by Tom Ferry’s Best Real Estate Professionals. In 2020, he was recognized by ERA Grizzard as one of their Top Real Estate Producers with $12.7 Million in total sales volume. Ricky says that a large amount of his business comes from referrals with business partners, community relationships, friends, and family.

RHarper@ERAGrizzard.com ≈ 352.205.5663 ≈RHarper@ERAGrizzard.Com FHumphrey@ERAGrizzard.com ≈ 352.267.4020 ≈ FHumphrey@ERAGrizzard.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE F E B ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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REALTORS

Robbie

Shoemaker Broker/Realtor®, Flamingo Real Estate and Management Flamingo Real Estate & Management is local and homegrown with its roots in the Wildwood and Oxford areas. With over 15 years of real estate knowledge, co-owner Robbie Shoemaker, along with his wife Jamie, are unique in their approach to real estate. Flamingo Real Estate & Management offers a wealth of services, including residential, commercial, vacant land, industrial, property management, 1031 exchanges, re-zoning, and land entitlement. “I’m not certain there’s another firm that offers this amount of knowledge and local expertise on so many levels. It allows us the ability to truly serve our customers and help them maximize their real estate portfolios,” Robbie says. Robbie is President of the Wildwood Rotary Club, a Board of Director of the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties, and Chairman of the Florida Commercial Brokers Network. He believes it’s not just enough to be in business, but to give back to your industry and local community. “I’m proud that we are able to support local churches, local schools, baseball-softball-football teams, pageants, cancer research, and the list goes on,” he says. “When you do business with Flamingo Real Estate & Management, you know your investment doesn’t stop with your real estate portfolio, it continues with the relationships built between you and your agent, and the agents’ reinvestment within the community.

“I’M NOT CERTAIN THERE’S ANOTHER FIRM THAT OFFERS THIS AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE AND LOCAL EXPERTISE ON SO MANY LEVELS.” —ROBBIE SHOEMAKER

900 Cleveland Ave. Wildwood 34785 ≈ 352.689.1000 flamingoRE.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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“PURCHASING A HOME IS EXPENSIVE AND WITH THESE INDIVIDUALS GIVING SO MUCH OF THEMSELVES TO SERVE THEIR TOWN, THEIR STATE OR THEIR COUNTRY, THEY DESERVE TO GET SOME HELP IN ACHIEVING THE AMERICAN DREAM.” —CATI WIEMER

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REALTORS

Cati

Weimer Broker/Owner, Realtor®, Nautilus Realty Florida After 14 years in the real estate industry, Cati Weimer decided to open her own brokerage in order to focus more on her passion. When she opened the doors to Nautilus Realty Florida in April 2020, she did so with a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification, and a partnership with Homes for Heroes – a National program that focuses on helping veterans, police, firefighters, paramedics, healthcare professionals, and teachers achieve home ownership. “Heroes who work with me will receive a portion of my commission in a check after closing, I also partner with several lenders that offer discounts on their fees. There’s no catch to it,” Cati says, explaining that it is her way of giving back. “I joined this program because my significant other is a Navy submarine veteran, so I understand their unique needs, but I also feel that it is something these Heroes deserve,” Cati adds.

“Purchasing a home is expensive and with these individuals giving so much of themselves to serve their town, their state or their country, they deserve to get some help in achieving the American dream.” With that, and in addition to all general buyers she happily serves throughout Central Florida, Cati, also an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), focuses on first-timers. “I’m very knowledgeable in downpayment assistance programs and was in title for 11-years, so with that background, I can help first-time home buyers through the entire process,” says Cati. To spread the wealth even further, Cati is currently looking to recruit eager agents “who are ready to learn and are passionate about serving this community.” “I don’t do this for the money, I do this to see the smiles on my client’s faces. This whole process leads up to that picture where I’m handing them the keys and they are looking forward to the rest of their lives,” Cati says.

nautilusrealtyfl.com ≈ 407.692.3190

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REALTORS

Christopher

Walker Realtor®, Preferred Real Estate Brokers When life throws you a lemon, squeeze purpose. That’s the life lesson Christopher Walker learned after being a homeless 22-year-old father to two young boys. They spent seven months living in an abandoned house. Christopher persevered. Twenty-five years later, he is a successful real estate agent with Preferred Real Estate Brokers. In fact, Christopher has achieved the proud title of multi-million dollar producer two years in a row and in 2018 was a milliondollar producer. He’s also author of “Lemons to Lemonade,” a book published in 2014 that shares the inspirational stories of people who successfully — C H R I S T O P H E R WA L K E R navigated through difficult situations. He has appeared on 120 radio and television networks promoting the book. Christopher likens his life to the process of making lemonade. “I was cut, squeezed, and shaken so I can refresh the life of somebody else,” he says. “No matter how sour of a situation you find yourself in, there’s always hope.” Christopher also provides others with hope as senior pastor of Champions Cathedral Church in Clermont and by serving as a board member of the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance and the Faith Neighborhood Center. He became a real estate agent in 2016, serving Lake, Sumter, Orange, Polk, and Osceola counties. “I educate my buyers and sellers on the process of real estate so that the transaction is as smooth as possible and they become repeat clients,” he says.

“NO MATTER HOW SOUR OF A SITUATION YOU FIND YOURSELF IN, THERE’S ALWAYS HOPE.”

2430 State Road 50 Suite B, Clermont 34711 ≈352.321.2930 chriswalkergroup.info PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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REALTORS

Danny & Billie Faye

Smith

Brokers/Owners, Smith & Smith Realty

Danny and Billie Faye Smith are not just the owners of Smith and Smith Realty, but its main brokers. “When people come to us, they are working with the actual people whose names are on the door,” says Danny, explaining that in today’s world, that’s rare. Smith and Smith’s primary focus is in Sumter County, plus outside of The Villages with agents covering all of north Lake and southeast Marion Counties. With that, they promise to buy or sell as quickly and efficiently as possible and proudly deliver on their “not just a number’ mentality in more ways than one. “If you want individualized service, we are that small company that is catered to each of our clients. We are not focused on the volume, but rather on making sure our clients get what they want and need,” Danny says. “More than anything else, personalized service is what we consider our specialty.” Billie Faye agrees, adding that Smith and Smith’s biggest reward is repeat customers. “We try hard to build relationships with the people we deal with in hopes that they’ll refer their family and friends to us and come back to us with all their real estate needs,” she says. Combine that with their education and experience, and you’ve got one of the best packages around. Danny, licensed in 1997 and in charge of the commercial and investment side of the business, holds two of the most prestigious designations in the Real Estate industry – a CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) and an ALC (Accredited Land Consultant). Billie Faye, licensed in 1998 and whose focus is residential and farming properties, boasts a GRI (Graduate of the Realtor Institute) and SRE (Senior Real Estate) specialty.

1102 N. Main St., Suite F, Wildwood ≈ 352.748.5656 SmithSmithRealty.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE


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REALTORS

Nikki Serrano Broker/Owner, Realtor®, Stellar Real Estate Agency

Nikki Serrano began her career in real estate around 2016, and moved up the ladder quickly, becoming one of the top producers at the firm she worked at within her first year there, and later moving on to start her own firm. Nikki grew up in Hernando County, and knows central Florida like the back of her hand, including Citrus, Marion, Lake, and Sumter counties. She also has agents throughout Florida, including the Destin area, Lake City, and Orlando. Nikki finds the best way to connect with clients is to treat them the way she wants to be treated. “I’ve been on the wrong end of customer service at times, learned what I didn’t want, and I give my clients the exact opposite.” Nikki knows what people want, expect, and deserve, and aims to always give Stellar representation to her clients. As for the effects of COVID that many realtors had to learn, Nikki felt she was well-prepared and ahead of the curve for the quarantines that were put in place in early 2020. “I have a lot of 55-plus clients, and so with them especially I’ve been doing video walkthroughs and electronic transactions for years. I was already doing things that a lot of agents are still learning to cope with now. Everything that I’ve done has been online, along with the video walkthroughs for quite some time now, so it really didn’t change the way I was doing anything, in that regard but I have refined it to a smooth transaction,” Nikki says. She has gained a lot of referral business from satisfied clients, and for that she is truly grateful.

“I WAS ALREADY DOING THINGS THAT A LOT OF AGENTS ARE STILL LEARNING TO COPE WITH NOW.” —NIKKI SERRANO

5531 SW 30th Ave, Ocala 34471 ≈ 352.585.1562 stellarrealestateagency.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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Tim

REALTORS

Sennett

MBA, CCIM, Realtor®, NAI Heritage, LLC The very first property Tim Sennett ever sold was commercial and 36 years later, that is his specialty at NAI Heritage, LLC, where he has worked as an agent for nearly two years. “I sell & lease basically everything; vacant land of all sizes, industrial, office and professional office space, retail, shopping centers, multi-family, anything that is not a single-family home,” Tim says, adding that he also works with companies or individuals looking for investment properties using IRAs or other funding sources. Tim does not sell single-family homes, but he says he can refer buyers or sellers to an appropriate realtor. Tim, a commercial and land specialist who focuses on all of Central Florida, including Lake and Sumter counties, says no matter what someone is looking to buy or sell, closing the deal, and as efficiently as possible, is a skillset he chalks up to experience, and it’s paid off. Tim has earned the highest designations possible in the real estate world – a CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) he’s held for more than 21 years and an ALC (Accredited Land Consultant) he is finalizing. That experience, along with Tim’s hard-working nature and positive energy works in favor of his clients. “I know the area. I know the properties, I do a lot of research every day to keep up with what is available, what has been sold, how much it sold for and I know the market values of properties,” Tim says. “I am also very user-friendly. People can approach me easily, call me anytime and ask me anything.” Through it all, Tim says the most rewarding part of real estate is satisfied clients and knowing he helped get them there. “I treat every client equally, whether handling a $200k or $2-million piece of property; what’s most important is taking care of their needs,” Tim says. “I just enjoy helping people; the payday comes down the road.”

2605 SW 33rd St., #200, Ocala ≈ 352.516.6848 tim@sennett.com ≈ naiheritage.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE F E B ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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Paul Young Veteran, Broker, Founder, Real Estate Expert, Young Real Estate After finishing college and into his second year in real estate, Paul Young became a multimillion-dollar producer. After connecting with other Realtors at events and through transactions, many finally convinced Paul to open his own brokerage. That was in 2019, and since then, Young Real Estate has grown to over 100 Realtors throughout Florida. With a background in military, Paul is glad to employ a number of local veterans and military retirees, making Young Real Estate qualified and helpful with acquiring VA loans for home buyers.

“THE HOUSE IS WHERE YOU LIVE, IT’S IMPORTANT, BUT IT’S ALSO THE BIGGEST INVESTMENT YOU WILL EVER MAKE...” — PAU L YOU N G

The transition from Realtor to broker, Paul explains, is not for everyone. “As a realtor you’re talking to clients, prospecting, working on deals, and in your mind, those are all money-making activities. As a broker, you’re training, doing administrative tasks, and recruiting, but it’s stuff that has to be done,” he says. Recently, he has been focusing on getting the brokerage’s Realtors to produce as much as they can by training new and experienced Realtors. “The mentality needs to be: I need to be an expert in the industry, I need to educate you and show you what all your options are so you can make an educated decision. The mentality was never ‘I’m trying to sell them a house,’” Paul says. “The house is where you live, it’s important, but it’s also the biggest investment you will ever make, so I help homebuyers make good financial decisions, as well.” Paul has always gotten along with people, which helped start his brokerage. That trait also propelled him into becoming Orlando Real Producers’ top 4 finalist for a professionalism award. He has also been featured in Orlando Magazine’s Hot 100, Top 10 Realtors in the state of Florida, Top 100 in the country, Young Professionals Network 20 Under 40, and more. Paul is also in the TV show “The American Dream” every month.

Office: 407.633.4663 ≈ Cell: 407.538.0066 youngrealestate.com PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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REALTORS

Nova Fuller Realtor®, Dave Lowe Realty Inc. As her name suggests, Nova Fuller is a Star Realtor. In 2020 she appeared in Forbes’ Top 500 Real Estate Agents in the U.S., has received Five Star Real Estate Award seven times, featured in Orlando Sentinel Top 1% and multimillion dollar producer year after year. The native Central Floridian has 17 years of experience in both residential and commercial properties. Nova says, “My understanding of location combined with market knowledge is invaluable to buyers and sellers.” She attributes her success to referrals and the personal attention she gives to all her valued clients.

dave lowe realty, inc.

303 N. Highland St., Mount Dora ≈ 352.551.7359 nova@davelowerealty.com ≈ novafullerrealestate.com

Falling in love with the right house

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means you need the right lender by your side.

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352.669.2121

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Olympus

Executive Realty 100% Commission Real Estate Florida 2020 hasn’t been what we predicted when we made our resolutions this time last year. The real estate market in Central Florida appeared to be in overdrive this past year with a flurry of activity in the singlefamily sector. New construction and approvals continued at a feverish pace, barely able to keep up with demand. Bottlenecks in the supply chain affected the timely delivery of products, and the increased costs plowed right through to the consumer whose primary concern was to manufacture a safer environment for their families. This desire was also driven by a stimulus which drove interest rates to the lowest it’s been in decades. Though rife with macro

challenges, we have had to learn to adapt both our personal and professional lives if we expected our businesses to remain both relevant and sustainable. Thankfully, not everyone was immune to the setbacks in our economy. At Olympus Executive Realty, we kept a keen eye on the market. Based on our observations the competitors were early adopters, quick to exercise alternative sales and listing strategies. Very few employed proactive measures early on. As a result, the majority of the brokerages in Central Florida had little to no growth; a smaller percentage was flat and an even smaller percentage experienced singledigit gain in 2020. Less than a

handful of agencies experienced double-digit growth. Olympus Executive Realty boasts more than 28% increase in sales volume over 2020. We are proud of the addition of dozens of top producers, including out of state Florida license holders, who chose to make Olympus Executive Realty their home. While we have not had the pleasure of meeting regularly in person this past year, we are grateful to our Agent Executives for their dedication and perseverance and plan to continue our mission and provide you with our continued support and the privilege of assisting with your success. We are Olympus Executive Realty because of you. 2021 Here We Come!

#1 LAKE COUNTY BROKERAGE IN AGENT GROWTH #1 LAKE COUNTY BROKERAGE IN INCREASED SALES #1 LAKE COUNTY INDEPENDENT BROKERAGE IN TOTAL SALES VOLUME

16903 Lakeside Drive, Suite 6, Montverde ≈ 407.469.2000 OlympusExecutiveRealty.com ≈ 100% Commission Real Estate Florida PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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888.321.6013 WaterOakCountryClub.com 224 Magnolia Drive, Lady Lake


ROOT-ING for health Health-minded duo partners with City of Groveland on a fishy new endeavor. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

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≈ PHOTOS: ANTHONY RAO

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nteresting, even revolutionary, things are happening inside a greenhouse that recently sprang up in Groveland. The greenhouse exists because Mark Pester, a former marketing specialist turned aquaponic farm builder and operator from Ocoee, and popular, longtime Clermont chiropractor Dr. Paul Sorchy decided to build on their understanding of how important good, clean, nutrient-filled foods – especially fruits and vegetables – are to maintaining good health. Together, they founded Backyard Farm Express, and three years ago, embarked on a venture focused on an innovative way to grow the healthiest crops possible. “We started the company with the purpose of growing food that heals,” Mark says. Today, the two are working closely with the City of Groveland, the first municipality in the area to embrace their vision of building a specialized farm that can grow healthy fruits and vegetables. The technique? Aquaponics: the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, a soil-less water-based system used to simultaneously raise fish, fruits and vegetables in an indoor or covered outdoor ecosystem. In aquaponics, waste from fish (in this case, tilapia) serves as nutrients for plants to absorb, and in turn, the plants purify the water that cycles within the system. No soil necessary. Mark says this technique produces food that is extremely nutrient-rich. “That’s important because if I’m using soil that’s been depleted of nutrients or that’s been loaded with a bunch of


chemicals, that affects the food we eat. We’re going to be putting that into our bodies as a building block and sometimes, the nutrition we think we are getting is really void of nutrition because it didn’t start out in a great place,” Mark explains. Backyard Farm Express builds aquaponic farms for entities and individuals interested in growing healthier produce and introducing it into their homes or communities. “This got started as a vision for the farm community and kind of the agrarian lifestyle and Paul was always advising people, when they are trying to get through certain health issues, that the food you eat, that your diet, is a big part of your health,” Mark explains. “That brings to us to the question of “Where do I get this type of high-quality food? And the answer is that it’s a lot harder than it should be; that’s why we partnered together to make nutrient-rich food more accessible.” Mark says educating and involving the community just completes the puzzle. He also says aquaponics is not a replacement for conventional farming, which he calls essential. Aquaponics enhances soil-based growing and by making certain some fruits and vegetables are more accessible yearround, he says. “We need both, and in working together, we will build a more food conscious culture,” says Mark. He points out that not all fresh produce is created equal health-wise. That’s where the duo’s expertise and their innovative company really comes in. “The simple message behind all this is, ‘The food that you eat is either killing you or healing you.’ And often, just out of habit and what we’ve learned, the easy way is not always the healthy way,”

Mark Pester

Dr. Paul Sorchy

Mark says, adding that although they don’t try to make anybody feel bad about their eating habits, the truth lies in sobering facts. Mark cites, “The CDC says that the number one reason of premature death in North America is inflammation from related diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and the number one way to fight inflammation is not a medication, it’s leafy green vegetables and fresh produce.” Another thing people may not realize, Mark says, is that when fruits and vegetables arrive at stores, they are not as fresh as locally sourced produce and usually don’t contain the same amount of nutrients. He says that’s because a lot of produce is picked before fully ripened to make up for the time involved in packing and transportation, so the more local the better. A large percentage of produce never even makes it onto store shelves because it arrives rotten or close to it from places like California, Canada or Central America. “Historically, people got their food local until the around the 1950s when they started getting produce from other areas. People wanted it cheaper, they wanted it

faster, but in turn, we pay a price for that,” he says. “There’s no way to really fix that, except for getting produce that was grown locally and maybe picked just one to two days prior. It supports the economy because it pays local growers.” So far, Backyard Farm Express has built seven Aquaponic farms that not only take up much less space than conventional farms – the average is about 1/10th of an acre – but that are housed in pesticide and chemical free greenhouse-type buildings that use 2 percent the amount of water as a conventional farm. Not only that, one acre of an aquaponic farm yields the same amount of produce as a typical 20-acre farm. Mark says fruits and vegetables grown aquaponically include various types of lettuce and other leafy greens

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like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, Bok choy and herbs, along with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, papayas, watermelon, pumpkins and certain berries. In short, the produce is cultivated in beds of water made nutrient-rich using the solid waste from tilapia swimming in special pools beside them. The fully grown fish can also be harvested and eaten, then, with new fish, the cycle starts all over again. So far, Backyard Farm Express farms have been built for people and schools in Apopka, Ocala, Winter Garden, Oakland and Minneola. In February, the very first farm requested by and built for a local municipality opened its doors on property owned by the city at Groveland’s Downtown Festival Park, located at Crittendon Street and N. Main Avenue. Mark says he is excited because Groveland has invited the entire community to participate and benefit from the project. He says he hopes Groveland’s farm can become a model for other cities. Groveland City Manager Mike Hein, who introduced the idea of bringing Aquaponics to Groveland to city officials after touring one of the company’s other facilities, says he has high hopes for the farm’s future. “The company’s enthusiasm and investment to quality and locally grown food paired ideally with the city’s new land use codes that encourage sustainable food supply,” Mike says. “Groveland’s agricultural past, coupled with its commitment to maintain open spaces, dark skies and that feeling of decompression make our partnership a natural choice.” Mayor Evelyn Wilson says she believes the farm is another way to build the town’s sense of community and pride, which is why she and the council voted unanimously to bring it to town. “I believe the Aquaponics farm is a perfect fit for the City. It symbolizes our

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“WE STARTED THE COMPANY WITH THE PURPOSE OF GROWING FOOD THAT HEALS.” —MARK PESTER


past, our agricultural roots, and points to the future of self-sustainability and farm to table restaurants,” Evelyn says. “I expect it to raise awareness with our residents about the importance of food supply. I also think it will serve as a tremendous educational instrument and provides a source for healthy alternatives.”

The farm’s build-out started in November 2020 and was completed in February. The city, with help from community partners like their utility operators Woodard & Curran, committed $60,000 for the project. In return, officials estimate they will be able to harvest about 10 tons of fresh produce annually, some of which will be donated to local food pantries for local families in need. But that’s not all. The farm, which is handicap accessible and includes patio decking for wheelchairs, will offer new opportunities to engage Groveland youth as the city and farm intend to work closely with local schools to arrange group tours and classes. “What we hope to accomplish is several things: educate, enhance, experiment, excite and empower. We want the farm to help educate the community, especially our new residents, about farming and its importance,” says Mike. “Our vision is to develop an entire community that can rely on locally sourced food supplies. The demonstration Aquaponic Farm will help inform our residents about the potential of communities centered around agriculture to preserve open spaces and our sense of natural charm.” Programs at the farm will also engage seniors, and farm stands selling fresh produce will be open on site and at satellite locations. The city is also looking to grow the site into an operation known as villages or hamlets–walkable, mixed use areas–that will be used to complement the farm and

eventually create an all-inclusive community-based culture with venues for entertainment, cookouts, a brewery, restaurants, food trucks, tiny homes, park space, farm animals and more. “People want to feel empowered, people want to feel like they have the ability to have a house without a lot of debt, close access to food, to open space and things of that nature,” says Andrew Landis, Groveland’s senior planner of the Planning and Zoning Division. Community Development Director Tim Maslow, says, “This is really meant to empower the residents of Groveland who want to start living that lifestyle they desire of knowing your neighbors, having a sense of community, and all at a very low cost.” City officials blessed the project by creating a land-use specifically for the project, donating the land, which was the site of the historic sawmill in town once owned by J.R. Arnold, and entering into a 10-year agreement with Backyard Farm Express. The company will operate the farm that officials see as a wonderful opportunity and addition to Groveland’s downtown district. “In order to have a thriving downtown, you gotta make it family friendly,” says Tim. “Those are the best downtowns, where there is something for everyone that’s nice, friendly, safe, comfortable and fun.”

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A Calm Oasis:

Mindfulness PA ID

I

f you’ve ever wanted to catch your breath and clear your head, mindfulness can help. Mindfulness techniques ground us and help us become more resilient to life’s challenges. Amy Roberts, LCSW and Mindfulness Meditation Teacher at the Robert Boisonneault Oncology Institute, says that developing a beginner’s mind is key. “It’s living in the moment and being aware of the

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P R OM OTION AL

F E ATUR E

moment you’re in,” she explains. “Being aware of your reactions, your thoughts, your body, but in a way that’s patient and trusting. A childlike curiosity.” Being non-judgmental is central to mindfulness. “You’re noticing you’re having some reactions or some feelings, and going, ‘Huh. That’s interesting,’” Roberts says. “Not judging it as right or wrong, or good or bad, but being curious about your

feelings, emotions, or responses. It’s really extending a kindness inward, but also to those around you.” Speaking recently at RBOI’s “We Can Week,” a virtual event for cancer survivors and their supporters, Roberts points to studies showing that mindfulness improves memory and concentration. Mindfulness can also decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, while improving quality of life and one’s ability to cope. Cancer


centers have increasingly introduced mindfulness-based stress programs. The benefits are far-reaching. Citing an American Society of Clinical Oncology study, Roberts says, “After an 8-week course, these concepts, tools, and mindset that you’re learning stay with you. The skills you learn show long-term improvement. It’s not just a temporary release.” To learn more about mindfulness programs at RBOI, call Amy Roberts at 352-732-0277.

Tune In, Grow Joy, Give Thanks The Body Scan slows down the nervous system, eases the mind, and helps us tune into our senses. You can access Amy Roberts’ body scan video at any time on RBOI’s guided meditation page, RBOI.com, under the “Cancer Support” tab. Growing a Positive Experience expands our daily moments of happiness. These moments can include a child’s greeting, sounds in nature, a stranger holding a door open, and more. Growing them means using all our senses to absorb the experience. “This is something you’re doing anyway throughout the day,” Roberts says. “But instead of pushing it aside, you’re learning to let it in and let it really resonate with you.” Keeping a Gratitude Journal helps provide balance for when times are tough. “Every morning or evening,

3x

Increase in meditation by U.S. adults between 2012 and 2017

Americans who meditate weekly

write down a few things that happened that day or that you have that day that you’re grateful for,” Roberts says. It can be something simple like, “I really love my hair color today,” or, “I have a roof over my head.” Then think about why you are grateful for those things and what they mean to you. Gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring what is difficult in life. Rather, it can help provide an emotional anchor for when life feels overwhelming.

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Patience and empathy are key. “If you decide you want to start a practice and you forget a day or a week, just start again,” Roberts advises. “Every time you restart, you’re rewiring your brain and you’re practicing it all over again. So just be really sweet and kind to yourself.”

40%

Attendees of the largest online meditation lesson (held on Aug. 8, 2014)

90% and 94% Men and women, respectively, who find meditation to be helpful

Patient-centered radiation oncology close to home The Villages 352.259.2200 Ocala 352.732.0277 Timber Ridge 352.861.2400 Inverness 352.726.3400 Lecanto 352.527.0106 RBOI.com

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agenda EVENTS. TRAVEL. PEOPLE.

Patrick Gibson is singing a different tune these days to glorify God.

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THE TO-DO LIST

feb. 2021


feb.ON STAGE Enjoy quality entertainment on the many stages of Lake and Sumter counties. REMEMBERING THE STARS

2/12 @ 2 p.m.

During his 60-year career in television, Emmy and Peabody award-winning host Charlie Grinker worked with many of America’s favorite comedians. He shares memories of Jackie Gleason, Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball, Dean Martin, and many more during his popular show, “Favorite Moments of the Stars.” Clermont Performing Arts Center. 3700 S. Highway U.S. 27, Clermont. 352.394.4800. JUST FOR LAUGHS

2/12 @ 8 p.m.

Meet comedian Max Dolcelli, who has opened for and worked with popular comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Ray Romano, and Tim Allen. Clermont Performing Arts Center. 3700 S. Highway U.S. 27, Clermont. 352.394.4800. EVENT

Collage of creativity The talents of approximately 285 of the country’s leading artists will be on display at the 46th Annual Mount Dora Arts Festival. The premier arts festival in Central Florida will feature oils, clay, graphics, photography, watercolor, acrylics, glass, jewelry, sculpture, mixed media, and more. Entertainment and food too. Feb. 6 & 7 / Downtown Mount Dora / mountdoraartfestival.org / 352.383.0880.

FAB FOUR-EVER

2/20 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Return – The Ultimate Beatles Tribute Band will recreate the excitement of Beatlemania with authentic outfits and instruments, costume changes, and perfect performances of hits from Meet The Beatles through Let It Be. Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. 352.821.1201. TIME TO BEE (GEE) EXCITED

2/27 @ 7 p.m.

“Stayin’ Alive” is a tribute to the Bee Gees, a band that has been electrifying audiences for five decades with hit songs such as “Night Fever,” “Jive Talkin’,” and “You Should be Dancing.” Clermont Performing Arts Center. 3700 S. Highway U.S. 27, Clermont. 352.394.4800.

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THE TO-DO LIST

feb.JAMS Move to the beat of one of your favorite performers at one of these great concerts or local venues!

2/5 @ 5 p.m.

2/13 @ 9 p.m.

C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

SEPTEMBER DOGS BAND Frank’s Place, Leesburg

2/6 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

2/14 @ 1 p.m.

THE ISAACS Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

MANFREDI ROCKS Ruby Street Grille, Tavares

2/6 @ 6 p.m.

2/14 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

THE PERRYS Croom-A-Coochee Baptist Church, Webster

LET’S HANG ON (FRANKIE VALLI TRIBUTE) Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

27 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m . DAILEY AND VINCENT Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

2/8 @ 7 p.m. JIM MESSINA Savannah Center, The Villages

2/12 @ 5 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages

2/13 @ 1 p.m. JIMMY HUNTER Lake Harris Hideaway, Tavares

2/13 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. MICHAEL TWITTY Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

EVENT

CRAZY ABOUT GEORGE

2/13 @ 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Since 1902, Eustis has celebrated the birthday of the country’s first president. It’s the second-longest running celebration of George Washington’s birthday. The 119th Annual Georgefest features a chili cook-off, parade, dog jog, carnival, and 5k. Feb. 26-28 / Downtown Eustis / eustisgeorgefest.org / 352.483.5491.

ONGOI NG EVENTS Events are subject to change and cancellation.

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THREE TENORS PLUS ONE The Sharon, The Villages

2/21 @ 4 p.m. C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

2/21 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. EVERLY BROTHERS EXPERIENCE Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

2/23 @ 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. VILLAGES PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA The Sharon, The Villages

2/26 @ 5 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grill, The Villages

2/26 @ 8 p.m. THE PLATTERS Savannah Center, The Villages

2/27 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. DOUG STONE Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

* Dates and times are tentative due to COVID-19 guidelines. Contact the venues for updates.

1ST FRI

1ST FRI

EVERY SUN

EVERY SUN

Eustis 1st Friday 6-9 p.m. Historic Downtown Eustis

Clermont First Friday Food Trucks 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Downtown Clermont

Clermont Farmer’s Market beginning at 9 a.m. Downtown Clermont

Downtown Mount Dora Village Market 9 a.m.- 2p.m. 230 N. Alexander St. Mount Dora

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LOCAL TALENT

PEO PLE

Re-purposed Clermont-based singer/songwriter Patrick Gibson finds new calling through music he hopes will inspire the world. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

≈ PHOTO: DOUGLAS TYLER

aking music is nothing new for Patrick Gibson, but the heart behind his songs is newly inspired. “The life stage is a magical place,” Patrick says. Patrick has been singing since he was in third grade – hopping on stage with his dad’s southern rock band in Oklahoma – plus playing the guitar and writing songs since he was 12. Patrick, now 38, has recorded a handful of singles and four albums, toured the country playing concerts and other gigs, and is a wellknown for performances at the House of Blues in Orlando and throughout the state. Songs of his like “Florida,” “Daddy’s Little Girl,” and “Florida Cracker Country Boys” remain popular, and as a member of the Grammy Recording Academy, his music was placed on the official Grammy ballots two years in a row; not to mention he personally attended the 60th and 61st annual Grammy Award shows in New York and Los Angeles. Nevertheless, Patrick let it all go. “I wanted to step away and clear my mind and make more time for God, for my family and for my kids and just focus on life for a little bit,” says Patrick. “In March, 2020, I decided to step down from the chase of cutting records and trying to become a more popular artist. We had a final show at the House of

Blues which was an awesome opportunity to say goodbye to the industry.” That’s also when Patrick became immersed in spreading God’s word through his role as worship leader at Tuscanooga Baptist Church in Groveland and when all of a sudden, the door to new opportunities was flung open. “I had to learn, I had to grow and now I’m just grateful that God never gave up on me,” Patrick says. Patrick returned to the chase in November with a release to digital outlets of “The American Prayer,” a song he wrote following racially spurred turmoil between citizens and law enforcement throughout the nation during 2020. Patrick says its lyrics signify support and thanks for law enforcement officers, military personnel and other front-line workers and their families. Since then, Patrick and his local team partnered with a Nashville label that found interest in the song and together, are pushing to get it to major radio. “I’m not sure what the outcome’s gonna be, but with God as the captain of this project I feel he’s gonna use it as he sees fit, and hopefully in a mighty way,” Patrick says. “My family supports it, my church supports it, so maybe this is God saying, ‘Hey, welcome back man, I can use you.’”

Wanna learn more about Patrick?

Visit pgcountry.com


ATTRACTIONS

PL ACES

Travel back in time Add Clermont Historic Village to your list of places to visit. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

hether you are a local Clermont resident or an out-of-town visitor, the Clermont Historic Village is a definite must-see. In 1996, the City of Clermont purchased property for the historic village, and the attraction has since obtained various local historical buildings to fulfil the Clermont Historical Society’s mission to preserve, maintain, and share the history of South Lake County’s pioneering families. The Clermont Historic Village, which officially opened as an attraction around 2005, is now a “cluster of buildings that have been moved in from parts of town that give them a good cross section of what life was like around 1900,” says Clermont Historical Society President Jim Briggs, who has served as president of the organization’s board for four years and recently got re-elected for another term. Historical society volunteers previously conducted extensive tours of the historic village, but due to COVID-19, volunteers are limited to demonstrating certain features and answering questions. Audio recordings activated by push buttons tell the stories of each building. COVID-19 also affected hours of operation. Clermont Historic Village is now open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Jim says they usually see anywhere from a handful of visitors up to 75 people. “Thanks to the internet, we’re getting a lot more people from out of town, even out of state and out of the country,” Jim says. A review of the guestbook

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at the historic village indicates that about one in five visitors is local. In 2018, the Clermont Historic Village registered a total of 2,553 visitors from 35 states, Puerto Rico, and 11 countries, including Costa Rica, Brazil, Germany, England, Canada, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Scotland, Israel, Norway, and Slovakia. In 2019, the number of visitors rose to 2,731. In 2020, visits dropped considerably to pandemic related closures. Luckily, the Clermont Historical Society was able to receive a Volunteer docent Donna DiGennaro assumes the role of schoolmarm in a replica of the Herring Hooks one-room schoolhouse.


Top photo/first page: The Clermont Historical Society’s Board Members, posing in front of the Kern House, are (bottom) Carole Fernandes, (middle from left) Treasurer Karen Miller, Chair Micki Blackburn, and (top row from left) Larry Oskin, Recording Secretary Donna DiGennaro, Vice President Devon “Pete” Cole, Dieter Grube and President Jim Briggs.

Volunteer docent Sarah McCullough uses some of the “modern” gadgets in Mrs. Alexander Kern’s kitchen.

Volunteer docent Maureen Potter proudly displays the Townsend House spinning wheel.

England style of homes in 1885 on Montrose Street by Alexander relief grant from Lake County to make up for revenue lost from Kern from New Jersey. It was moved to the historic village in admissions and donated funds. 2008 and opened for tours. Years later, Mr. Kern was one of the Most buildings at the historic village were moved there from signers when Clermont was incorporated. other parts of town, and some were repaired and refurbished. Jim likes to point out the differences between the Kern House Clermont Historic Village is home to the very first Cooper and the Townsend House, “because that’s what the Clermont Memorial Library, built in 1914 and nicknamed the Little Cooper. foundation was; a mix of people from all over with different The only building that is a replica is the Herring Hooks interests and different financial situations,” he says. He calls the one-room schoolhouse, recreated by volunteers using old Kern House a “Yankee house,” whereas the Townsend House photographs of the actual building. represents Florida “Cracker” architecture, and was built with The schoolhouse is the most recent addition to the historic local lumber. village, and was dedicated on April 13, 2013, thanks to many Between the Kern and Townsend houses you will find a typical generous donations from the community and local builders. outhouse, which was built as part of an Eagle Scout Project by The original building, built in 1881, was located on the east Jamaal Anderson Reid and the historic village. side of US 27 near Jack’s Lake. It originally served as Herring Other buildings at Clermont Historic Village are an original Hooks’ Hunting Lodge, until Mrs. Thomas J. Hooks took it over Quonset hut, built on site by the U.S. to teach neighborhood children. Later, Military in 1943 during WWII, which Lake County formed a school board IF now serves as a WWII museum, and and created a traditional school system, YOU GO Clermont’s Train Depot, which also giving Mrs. Hooks a true classroom for stands at its original site. The train depot her students. was refurbished in 2011. The gem of the Clermont Historic CLERMONT HISTORIC VILLAGE MUSEUM Admission to the museum is free, but Village is the Townsend house, originally a suggested donation of $5 per adult built in 1895 by the first Black family 490 West Ave., Clermont for a tour is appreciated. If you would to settle in Clermont. James and Sallie Hours: Sat. and Sun. 1-4 p.m. like to make additional donations to Townsend’s family was so well-respected (subject to change) keep the Clermont Historic Village that members of the business community For more information, open and running, you can do so paid to move and restore the house, Jim call 352.432.3496 or at the village. Donations help with 352.242.7734. You can also visit says. It was the first building to be moved clermonthistoricvillage.org or insurance, maintenance, and special to the historic village property in 2002. It Clermont Historic Village Museum events, including an annual Heritage has been open for public tours since 2005. on Facebook. Day Festival the historical society The other family home is the Kern hopes to resume in November. House, built in the traditional New

Know of a cool place you’d like us to feature in Attractions? Contact us at least three months in advance and provide all the details to victoria@akersmediagroup.com.

VICTORIA SCHLABIG

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HI, SOCIETY!

Michelle Smith and Pamela Bussey

Barbara Chandler and Pauline Harris Laura VonMutius holding an American Kestrel Susie

Lisa Moore and Kay Volmar

Barred Owl Maple

Featured Artist Lauren Austin

Bryan Breneman and Wife Featured Artist Lauren Austin

F E AT H E R E D F R I E N D S F E AT U R E D @ MOUNT DORA CENTER OF THE ARTS ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. Art quilter Lauren Austin was on hand Jan. 8 for the opening reception of “Birds Are My People” exhibit at the Mount Dora Center for the Arts, which explores the relationship between black people and Central Florida’s natural world of owls, ospreys, eagles, and hawks. The artistic quilts remain on display at the art gallery through Feb. 28.

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Matt Walsh and Krysta Smith

See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Kay Volmar and Featured Artist Lauren Austin

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HI, SOCIETY!

Peter Debisshop

Christine Mackenzie and Mike Bracuch

Elvis

Robert Holtz

Tom Logrippo

The Avalanche Band

Richard and Collette Pawelove Mack Smith

See all the photos for this event at lakeandsumterstyle.com/hisociety

Mike Lamm

E 'S WHER ?! M Y P IC

C RU I S E - I N F I T F O R T H E K I N G ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. A wide variety of classic and antique cars, hot rods, exotic and import vehicles were the attraction at a Jan. 9 cruise-in car show in downtown Leesburg. The event also featured an Elvis impersonator, live music by The Happy Days Rockers, a 50/50 drawing, and a costume contest.

@ DOWNTOWN LEESBURG

Randy, Mariland, and Elvis

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healthy living MIND. BODY. SOUL.

Salina Rubio helps people heal physically and spiritually by releasing trapped emotions.

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INSPIRATION

PEO PLE

Healthy healing Clermont woman devotes life to healing mind, body and spirit by targeting trapped emotions. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

alina Rubio’s curiosity was sparked the moment she heard about The Emotion Code, nearly two years ago. The Clermont resident was intrigued while she listened to a podcast in which The Emotion Code creator Dr. Bradley Nelson spoke about healing mind, body, and spirit using energy frequencies to release negative emotions trapped by their subconscious in their bodies. “It took me about three months to get through the book and I thought it was amazing, but I never really applied it because I just thought it was a little out there,” Salina says. Salina decided to give The Emotion Code a try after medicines and treatments failed to relieve her debilitating back pain. “I was just so frustrated that one day, I sat with the book and just went through the steps. I was able to release a few trapped emotions and in one day, the pain I felt went from about an 8 to a 2 right away,” Salina says. “I started experimenting with all my family and friends. Some of them had really miraculous results with longstanding health issues, so I thought, ‘There is really something to this.’” Fast forward to May 2020. Salina, a newly certified Emotion Code Practitioner, left her job as a social worker to focus on what she loved doing – helping people – but in a different way. “You can do it to curb emotional eating or cravings, especially sugar and carb cravings, for your animals – mostly dogs and cats and their behavioral issues, marital or partner issues, and being able to connect better with your kids,” she says. “It also works well for mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, addictions, so it could be anything and what’s become very popular is people using it for business alignment and being able to connect with and achieve their business goals.” Salina says trapped emotions sometimes date back to peoples’ childhoods, a trauma they experienced or any life situation that affected them negatively. Practitioners like Salina, with permission, tap into a person’s subconscious, so healing doesn’t have to be done in person; treatment can be done remotely by Facetime, email, or phone. “You’d be surprised the relief releasing just one trapped emotion can have,” Salina says. Salina says she has local clients, but many people and animals she’s helped live in other cities, states or countries. Salina is one of only a few thousand certified practitioners in the country, including Florida, and currently the only one in Lake County. To contact Salina about booking a session, visit radiantlifecoding.com, her Instagram or Facebook page or call 352.301.1281.

Do you know someone who is a healthy inspiration?

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Email your recommendations to roxanne@akersmediagroup.com


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BODY

FOOD AS medicine A diet of 80% whole foods does a body good. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

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ood as medicine is by no means a new concept. The idea derives from 5th century science and Hippocrates, the “founder of medicine,” who reportedly originated the phrase “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Today, “food as medicine” is more of a way of life for many rather than a temporary addition to your diet. Food as medicine often focuses on herbs and plants being ingested, whether eaten in food or drink, and there are many sources of information detailing which plants have positive effects

on inflammation, immune systems, and levels (cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.). So, what plants are considered food as medicine? Meredith Cheshire, a herbalist with a degree in medicinal herbs who owns Faeve Plant Therapies in Mount Dora and The Villages, offers her insight into which plants can be used in the kitchen as well as medicinally. “Many herbs that we can easily attain and grow in Florida have been used in medicine for years,” Meredith says. “Not surprisingly, many herbs are extremely supportive of digestive issues such as garlic, fennel, cayenne pepper, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, and ginger.” Studies have shown that rosemary and peppermint soothe the nervous system. And there’s solid evidence that herbs help with flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome, balancing of stomach acids and stomach juices, nausea, and vomiting. There is a reason you’re given peppermint candies after a meal at a restaurant – they help aid digestion. Herbs such as cayenne pepper, ginger root, and turmeric support anti-inflammatory processes, while peppermint, ginger and other herbs reduce fever in human and animals according to studies. Respiratory disorders, including coughs, colds, and bronchitis, can be helped by garlic, fennel, and thyme. There’s also evidence that thyme is a mild expectorant (a medication that helps bring up mucus and

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BODY

“SEVENTY PERCENT OF A PERSON’S IMMUNITY STARTS IN THEIR GUT. IF YOUR GUT IS NOT HEALTHY, CHANCES ARE YOUR BODY ISN’T EITHER.” —MICHELLE WILLIAMS

other material from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea). Dandelion and nettle – both grown in Florida and found in some farmers markets – also offer high medicinal benefits. “Dandelions may be a weed to some, but they are one of the highest sources of potassium of any food we have access to,” Meredith says. Dandelion is a strong diuretic and kidney stimulant that may reduce high blood pressure. “There is anecdotal evidence that dandelion can be effective for muscular pain as well,” Meredith adds. Dandelions make great tea, and Meredith recommends eating salad made with dandelions and other greens. Nettle can be found all over Florida, but unfortunately harvesting nettle from the wild can be slightly problematic because of stringers on the tips of the plant’s leaves. “This herb strengthens and supports the whole body,” Meredith says. “Nettle was historically used for internal hemorrhaging, although modern medicine does a better job at that now.” Nettle is most commonly used as a tea, because you don’t have to worry about the stingers when boiling the leaves. Michelle Williams, owner of Jeff ’s Health and Nutrition in Leesburg since January 2020, emphasizes that there are numerous

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foods that can be used as medicine or to help rid the body of toxins and improve health. Michelle, who has been in the health and fitness industry for over 15 years, focuses on food and nutrition. In fact, she combined nutrition with physical training at one point during her career. She recommends walking the perimeter of your grocery store, where most whole foods can be found. “One-ingredient foods and whole foods can help your body in so many ways,” Michelle says. “Things like whole leafy greens (spinach, kale, bok choy and so on) are loaded with vitamins and minerals that can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and avoid the risk of heart disease,” she says. The outer edge of the store is typically stocked with fresh produce, meat, fish, milk, eggs, yogurt, and other dairy products, while the center of the store is filled with cans, jars, snacks and processed foods. Fruits like apples, oranges, and pears are also packed with vitamins to boost immunity. “More than 50% of the American diet is made up of


processed foods. That is tragic for the body. The more whole foods we can get the better we will feel,” Michelle says. Eggs are also a super food that provide things like biotin and vitamin D, which can boost immunity. Many people who don’t get the vitamins and minerals they need just from food should add supplements to their diet. “Every ‘body’ is different,” Michelle says. “Some individuals can’t absorb certain minerals or vitamins like they should and may need to supplement.” That’s why grocery stores carry Vitamins B, B12, E, D, C, and other supplements. Michelle likes to recommend to everyone that they should be on a great probiotic. “Seventy percent of a person’s immunity starts in their gut. If your gut is not healthy, chances are your body isn’t either,” she says.

Michelle says that shopping in a health food store is important because professionals there can help guide you in the right direction, and answer questions. The best way to find out if you need dietary supplements is by having blood work or talking to your doctor. Meredith aims to use at least one fresh or dried herb in every meal, and she recommends herbal teas twice a day for certain conditions. “Any time you are evaluating adding an herbal medicine to your everyday life in large quantities, it is always good to get an opinion from either the doctor that prescribed you the medication, your pharmacist, nutritionist, or herbalist,” she says. “Large quantities,” refers to taking supplements or herbs in pill form, not just adding rosemary to your potatoes. Again, every individual is different and may react differently to a certain food, even some labeled as “healthy.” Of course, processed foods should

be avoided as much as possible. Another thing to look for when shopping is GMO labels, as well as produce labels. An article in the August 2020 issue of Style explains how GMOs affect our bodies. Produce labels tell you where a piece of fruit or vegetable is from, and it is always best to choose a product from as close to home as possible, e.g., choose a tomato from Georgia instead of a tomato from Mexico. The less distance a food travels, the less preservatives it typically contains. Lastly, stick to a rule of trying to eat clean 80% of the time. Michelle emphasizes that if you fill 80% of your diet with whole, non-processed foods, and avoid sugar, bleached grains, boxed and canned items, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.

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menu

FOOD. DRINKS. REVIEWS.

Great food and drinks await those who visit Wolfgang Puck Kitchen and Bar in The Villages.

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IN THE KITCHEN

RECIPE

Sweet success Mom and daughter rolling in dough making ‘better than mum’s’ scones and special-blend teas. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

rika Shanoff and her mother Leila Shanoff are smart, creative businesswomen. The pair found success during the coronavirus pandemic by improvising day-to-day operations of Erika’s Tea Room and Gifts, Inc., 787 W. Montrose St., in downtown Clermont. They are now promoting, baking, and shipping online orders of their award-winning “Florida famous scones” to different places around the globe. “On a daily basis, we ship about 200 scones,” says Erika. “We ship nationally, and we just shipped internationally.” The Shanoffs were three times busier during the 2020 Christmas season. Leila was in the kitchen through the wee hours with her hands in a dough mixture of high-quality heavy cream, buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, flour, sugar, baking powder, and other fresh

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ingredients, all needed to whip up 600 scones daily that were individually wrapped and sent to loyal fans and repeat customers in Hawaii, California, and Alaska. “The typical comment we hear is that our scones are amazing,” says Erika, recalling one cute compliment received soon after the tearoom opened in 2014. “A little girl was visiting from England with her family. She came to the door of the kitchen and she said, ‘Excuse me, ma’am, can I tell you something? Your scones are better than my mum’s.’” The mother-daughter duo cherishes a special compliment from Kevin Harrington, the original shark on the TV show “Shark Tank.” At an industry event, he called Erika’s Tea Room’s scones “amazing.” He was especially enamored with a white chocolate apricot scone. “I’m a sweets kind of guy, so I know when something is good, and I love their scones,”


Leila and Erika Shanoff

Kevin said in a video testimonial. “Erika’s Tea Room, you guys got it rockin.’ Thanks for making a great product; this was one of the best scones I have ever had.” The shark isn’t the only authority spreading the word. Erika’s Tea Room products have been featured in ‘Tea Time’ magazine, too. “Head sconista” Leila is recognized as a national scone maker and certified tea master who delights spending time in the kitchen experimenting with countless flavor combinations each week. She also has created 140 special-blending tea flavors to complement the scones. “We would really like Erika’s Tea Room scones go all over the world,” says Leila, while her daughter is marketing minded and has a talent for creating gift bundle

packages of teas, scones, and a teapot to fit any kind of theme or special occasion, including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day. Leila’s on a mission to educate the world about scones, which are usually made of wheat or oatmeal and made with baking powder as a leavening agent. She believes that many people haven’t had the pleasure of tasting a delicious scone. “Real scones are not hard. It depends on how they are made, and I always say I am the Julia Childs of scones. I don’t believe in just doing the standard, that is not my personality. Typical scones are plain or cranberry. I could do that, but instead of cranberry, I do orange cranberry with fresh orange juice and chunks of orange peel,” says Leila. “Every week I come up with another concoction

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IN THE KITCHEN

HELPFUL HINTS Aerate the flour for fluffier scones. Dried fruit in scones allows them to last longer than fresh fruit.

C R E A M C H E E S E S C O N E S : C H E R RY A L M O N D INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus small amount for rolling out dough 12

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cup granulated sugar

12

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teaspoon salt

2

teaspoons baking powder

12

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cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

3

ounces cream cheese

13

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cup heavy cream

4

ounce bag of dried cherries

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cup sliced almonds

12

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until bottoms are brown (about 10 minutes).

M O C K D E VO N C R E A M INGREDIENTS 12

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cup heavy whipping cream, cold

1

tablespoon powdered confectioners’ sugar

1

8 oz. container mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, room temperature

1

teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Beat with hand mixer until thick. Refrigerate overnight.

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of flavors. There are so many flavors, so why be pigeonholed?” Among Erika’s Tea Room signature scone flavors are lemon blueberry, Crème brûlée, white chocolate apricot, thin mint, cherry almond, and orange cranberry. Erika and Leila also offer premium scones of pina colada, caramel walnut, pistachio chip (Erika’s favorite), and Leila has created adult-beverage infused scones, including apple bourbon, a spiced rum and raisin scone, strawberry champagne scones with chunks of strawberries, and other varieties. “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” says Leila of the adult-theme scones. “Everybody has been loving them, so we continue to have them on our website.” Because of the pandemic, the Shanoffs decided to make the tearoom reservations only, and only have high teas on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. During the week, they will serve groups of 20 or more. Weekday offerings and high teas are reservation only. “We are shipping so vastly now that we need the days to ship,” says Erika, adding that the tearoom also ships special monthly subscription boxes of a dozen scones of three new flavors, available in three different package levels. One popular offering is gluten-free scones. “Gluten-free flour is the perfect


“EVERY WEEK I COME UP WITH ANOTHER CONCOCTION OF FLAVORS. THERE ARE SO MANY FLAVORS, SO WHY BE PIGEONHOLED?” —LEILA SHANOFF

flour and I have been making these and people can’t believe they are gluten free,” adds Leila. “I can make any scone gluten free.” The Shanoffs also enjoy hosting special themed events for adults. This month, they’ve planned the Perfect Matches of Downton Abbey at 6 p.m. Feb. 13, and The Breakfast Club at 6 p.m. Feb. 27, featuring a menu of maple bacon scone, strawberry soup, breakfast quiche with breakfast potatoes, and cinnamon bread pudding. Past theme events have been trivia, costume contest, games, activities, sing-a-longs. “For our themed evenings, we have a lot of fun,” says Erika. “Quite a few Canadians come here every year when they are here for the season, and we get lots of Brits. The Brits love what we do because it reminds them of home.” In February, Erika’s Tea Room has special online offers: a tea for two toucan teapot and cups paired with chocolate-covered strawberry scones and strawberry cupcake tea; and a butterfly teapot packaged with mixed berry scones and the berry tea, billed touted as a gift for a mom or daughter.

HELPFUL HINTS Buy an immersion blender to make soup, it is a wonderful way to create tasty soups using fresh frozen vegetables.

CR EA M OF CA R ROT SOU P INGREDIENTS

4

bags of frozen carrots

2

(48-ounce) containers low sodium chicken stock

1

cup heavy cream Add spices to taste – parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a pot (except heavy cream) and bring to a boil. Add heavy cream and blend; keep on low heat until ready to serve.

Leila is happy in the kitchen baking scones, regardless the time of the day or night. She finds it a lot less pressure than her years in the corporate banking world, and Erika relishes being the tearoom operations over being a schoolteacher. The Shankoffs moved to Florida from New Jersey.

Since opening the tearoom in 2014, locals have visited Erika’s for a high tea experience, special luncheons, and many have raved over Leila’s homemade soups. She agreed to share her recipes for Carrot Soup and Cream Cheese Scones: Cherry Almond for Style readers to enjoy.

Hey, readers! Do you have favorite recipes or know a chef we should profile? Comment on this article or send story ideas to theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

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FORK ON THE ROAD

REVIEW

The Puck stops here Celebrity chef’s staff serves a deliciously memorable dining experience. STORY: JAMES COMBS

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

here’s always a debate when it comes to restaurants. Would you prefer amazing food and poor service or mediocre food and flawless service? Fortunately, you don’t have to choose one or the other when dining at Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar in The Villages. This is one restaurant that consistently delivers amazing food and flawless service. Your memorable dining experience begins with a hostess stepping outside to open the door and graciously greet diners. Next, you’ll be impressed when your knowledgeable server provides detailed information about various menu items. The final piece of proof comes when diners receive a beautifully presented plate of food that makes for an even tastier meal. One might not expect anything less from a restaurant that bears the name of Wolfgang Puck, a celebrity chef who has been a mainstay on popular cooking shows. The famed food connoisseur has built a brand that encompasses three companies: Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar, part of the Brownwood Hotel and Spa, opened last March with much fanfare... and bad timing. Coronavirus forced the restaurant to close until June. Villagers say the wait was well worth it. “Guests love the atmosphere, the décor, and the service that we provide,” says Nikki Smith, assistant general manager. “We give that fine dining service but in a casual atmosphere.” The restaurant comes with a few distinctions. First, it’s the only Wolfgang Puck location with gulf grouper on the menu. Second, it’s one of only two Wolfgang Puck locations to offer an open kitchen, allowing the smells, sounds, and sights of cooking to become an integral part of the dining experience. “The grouper was created specifically for The Villages,” Nikki says. “The concept behind the open kitchen is that you feel like you’re dining in Wolfgang’s home. Our goal is to make everyone feel comfortable and at home.” A diverse menu catering to all tastes helps accomplish that goal. Pizzas with unusual toppings—including wild mushrooms, smoked salmon, and basil shrimp—are a big hit. Diners can also choose bacon-wrapped meatloaf, New York strip steak, burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, and a variety of salads. But the most popular item is pork schnitzel served with Austrian potato salad, cherry tomatoes, arugula brandy mustard sauce, and cucumber dill salad.

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“WE GIVE THAT FINE DINING SERVICE BUT IN A CASUAL ATMOSPHERE.” —NIKKI SMITH

And if you have trouble deciding what to order, just ask your server. He or she will happily provide precise details of each dish and make each one sound delicious. “The French dip is awesome,” says waitress Tina DiBileo. “Once you dip it into the au jus sauce it just melts in your mouth.” She’s right. The sandwich is layered with thinly sliced New York strip, fresh horseradish, fontina cheese, and onion marmalade. However, the fresh bread is what makes this sandwich truly special. The slight crunchiness on the outside and

Let’s do lunch or dinner

softness inside are ideal for texture as well as soaking up that delicious au jus broth/gravy. A side of onion rings–considered deep-fried kryptonite by many people–is highly recommended with the French dip. Yuengling is used in a beer batter, resulting in the perfect combination of a crispy, light, and fluffy outer crust. More importantly, the breading does not fall apart at first bite. Meanwhile, as you’re enjoying lunch or dinner, don’t be surprised if various servers, hostesses, or managers stop by your table to make sure your dining experience is even more enjoyable. In fact, chefs visit the tables of customers with special dietary needs to figure out how these guests can be accommodated. The same level of service is found at the open bar, where bartenders Jessica

McKenna and Cristal Torres serve cocktails with names like Moscow Mule, Passion Fruit Cosmopolitan, and Kentucky Punch. Consider the Espresso Martini, which will undoubtedly satisfy coffee lovers. “Many guests come in and have this drink as a dessert,” Jessica says. Wine connoisseurs are also in luck. A large glass-enclosed wine display features many of the classics—reds, whites, and sparkling. “When it comes to our wine selection, we’re like a candy shop for grownups,” Nikki says. At Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar, the debate between food or service has been settled. The recipe for a superb dining experience seems quite simple, actually. Delicious food and stellar hospitality keep diners wanting more.

Tell us about a great restaurant by emailing james@akersmediagroup.com.

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SPIRITS

D RINK

Cheers! Bully Brewing offers dog treats made from Leesburg brewery’s grains for your pooch and tasty craft beers for their humans. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

eer and dog lovers, Bully Brewing is for you. Leesburg’s newest family owned and operated microbrewery is a fun, dog-friendly place where humans savor core beers and rotating seasonal favorites, and dogs enjoy a special treat made from the brewery’s leftover grains. Bully Brewing is located at 2204 Griffin Road, behind Lakeside Electrical Contractors, nestled in a former warehouse converted into a brewery with a cozy, industrial-vibe decor and dog bone-shaped tables. The second-floor mezzanine houses all of the equipment for the onsite brewing process. “If people are interested, they can come in for a tour and see where the magic happens,” says Brewmaster Falisha Gonzalez, 26, of Leesburg, who recently completed schooling at Daytona State College for her hospitality beverage science certificate. The brewery owned by Falisha’s father, Ryan Gonzalez, opened Feb. 29, 2020. He did home brewing for several years as a hobby before the family decided to make it a business operation. “My dad home brewed and when I was around, I would help him out with that, and what really got me into it more was the schooling,” says Falisha. “I do like brewing beer, but honestly the best part is when our tap room is open and we’re serving and

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Shannon Kent, who bartends and runs administrative side of Bully Brewing, owner Ryan Gondalez, and Brewmaster Falisha Gonzalez.

“RIGHT NOW, IPAS ARE PRETTY HOT.” — RYA N G O NZ A L EZ

getting the feedback of people coming in and enjoying it,” she adds. “Seeing the same people come back, and all the new people, to me that’s awesome.” Bully Brewing offers craft beers to please all realms of beer drinkers, from the newbies to the more experienced. “We have six core beers that we have all the time, and then we have three that we rotate out,” says Falisha. “The most popular is a toss-up between our Weezy’s Cream Ale and our Red Nose Red, both of those go the quickest. If you like light beers, the Weezy is the way to go, and the Red Nose Red is the middle of the road.” The brewery once did a jalapeno beer that generated more raves than Falisha or her father expected. “The jalapeno beer was a big hit; we blew that keg. It was a really good beer,” says Ryan. “When we first made it, I tasted the warmth to it and thought to myself, Nobody is going to drink this. It’s too hot. Nobody wants to drink a jalapeno. But after the yeast did its thing, it settled

down, and chilled out just perfectly with a little bit of spice in the back of your throat.” He says Bully Brewing will make it again. Style writer, James Combs, who is eager to try the jalapeno beer, gives Bully Brewing two thumbs up during a recent visit. “It’s apparent to me that Bully Brewing puts much thought and love into the brewing process to achieve the aroma, body, flavor, and finish customers desire in a beer,” says James. “That’s a good thing because craft beer lovers demand

complexity and unique combinations of flavors and aromas. Bully definitely delivers, whether you order a light beer like Weezy’s Cream Ale, a tasty, darker beer like the Red Nose Red, or anything in-between. I was very impressed by the freshness of the craft beer.” The crisp freshness was apparent to me, too. Weezy’s Cream Ale won me over, and it was nice to enjoy a refreshing lighter beer that didn’t taste watered down. The freshness can be attributed to the brewery’s dedication to sanitation in the brewing process. “If the equipment is not clean, you will not have good beer; you will get all of these off flavors,” says Falisha. The brewery also brews IPA (India Pale Ale) beer, which grew in popularity in the 18th century. “Right now, IPAs are pretty hot.” says Ryan, noting that IPA. “It comes from when they shipped pale ales from England to India. In order to preserve the beer, they had to hop it, because hops have a natural preservative in it so that the beer wouldn’t go bad.” The brewery has its food license and can serve simple bar fare, such as hot dogs, boiled peanuts, granola bars, chips, and more. They also plan to have food trucks stationed there on weekends. As for the brewery’s Bully name, Ryan’s dog, Dixie, an American pit bull terrier, is the original inspiration behind it. “She is the mascot,” he says, adding Dixie is also a fan of the brewery. “She likes to drink a little beer when it spills on the floor.” IF YOU GO

BULLY BREWING 2204 Griffin Road, Leesburg, Florida 34748 Hours: Tue. to Thu. 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fri. 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information call 352.638.9207

Do you know a place where we can drink? Comment on this article or send story ideas to theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

THERESA CAMPBELL

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DINING GUIDE

dine

OUT From classic diners and lakeside restaurants to fine dining and everything in-between, Lake County’s culinary scene is booming. Your favorite meal is sure to be served with a side of hospitality. Denotes locations where you can find Lake & Sumter Style A S TAT U L A

CLERMONT

Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940

Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988

ASTOR Blackwater Inn 55716 Front St. 352.759.3802 Castaways Restaurant 23525 US SR 40 352.759.2213 Sparky’s Place Restaurant 24646 SR 40 352.759.3551 Williams Landing 55716 Front St. 352.759.2802

Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431 Clermont Brewing Co. 750 W Desoto 321.430.2337 Corelli’s Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924

BUSHNELL

Devenney’s Irish Pub 16909 High Grove Blvd. 352.432.3925

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s 2586 W CR 48 352.568.7000

El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884

Darryl’s Diner 2237 W CR 48 352.444.2318 Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877

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Friar Tuck 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd. 352.404.6818

Stavro’s & Sons of Eustis 2100 W. CR 44 352.589.9100

Lil Anthony’s Pizza 7965 SR 50 352.429.7499

Taki’s Pizza House 2824 S. Bay St. 352.357.0022

Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. SR 33 352.429.2997

Thai Sushi America 925 N. Bay St. 352.357.1949

H OW EY- I N THE -HILLS

The Crazy Gator 402 N. Bay St. 352.589.5885 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939 Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929 Tony’s Pizza & Subs 2760 E. Orange Ave. 352.589.9001 F RU I T L A N D PA R K Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575

Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884

Troy’s Cuban Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295

ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227

Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118

Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225

Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006

Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565

EUSTIS

Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 230 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.394.0036 Robata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688 Root and Branch Bistro and Bar 1200 Seaver Dr. 352.708.4529 Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411

G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900

Sarah’s Greek Cuisine & More 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd., Ste. 305 352.404.8031

Gators Dockside 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.242.1825

The Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.7808

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • F E B ' 2 1

Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027 Gators Dockside 15241 US Hwy 441 352.357.1255 Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288 LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600 Nalan Sultan Mediterranean Grill 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.4444 NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256

NY Deli N Diner 3325 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.365.0051 Rae Rae’s Restaurant 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.323.1595 Stavro’s 3223 US Hwy. 441 352.315.0028 The Rose Plantation 200 Rose Ave., Fruitland Park 352.805.4340

JB Boondocks Bar & Grill 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd. 352.324.3600 La Hacienda Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3910 Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.2718 L A DY L A K E Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998 El Ranchito 1 Lagrande Blvd. 352.750.3335 Harbor Hills Country Club 6538 Lake Griffin Rd. 352.753.7000 Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 504 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.753.2722 OakWood Smokehouse & Grill 860 S. Hwy 27/441 352.751.5640 Takis Greek and Italian Restaurant 13761 U.S. Hwy. 441 N. 352.430.3630 LEESBURG Bloom’s 610 W. Main St. 352.787.1004

G R OV E L A N D

Breakfast Station 2229 Citrus Blvd. 352.315.0291

Coyote Rojo 214 W. Broad St. 352.557.8999

Brick & Barrel 209 W. Main St. 352.431.3069

Ikaho Sushi Japanese Restaurant 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria 27405 US Highway 27 352.728.2020

James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050

Cedar River Seafood 8609 S. U.S. Hwy. 441 352.728.3377

Chesapeake Bay Grill 4467 Arlington Ridge Blvd. 352.315.0066 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442 Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989 Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 CR 44 352.365.2177 God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447 Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room 311 W. Magnolia St. 352.474.2739 HP Grill 1403 S. 14th St. 352.314.0006 Ichiban Buffet 10301 Hwy. 441 352.728.6669 Kountry Kitchen 1008 W. Dixie Ave. 352.323.0852 La Palma Mexican Grill 1690 Citrus Blvd. 352.323.1444 Lilly’s Super Subs 2339 CR 473 352.343.4663 Magnolia’s Oyster Bar 201 W. Magnolia St. 352.323.0093 Main Street Cantina 205 W. Main St. 352.435.7279 Mamma Mia Pizza 755 North 14th St. 352.326.0101 Mammoth Oak Brewing Company 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.326.0100 Mrs. T’s Place, Southern Restaurant 305 Pine St. 352.431.3217 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616 Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 2775 U.S. 27 352.435.4633


Arigato Steak House 1401 Citrus Blvd. 352.728.0788 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293 Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680

Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 The Surf Bar and Grill 650 N. Hwy. 27 202.527.0100 Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232 MOUNT DORA

Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565

1921 Mount Dora 142 E. Fourth Ave. 352.385.1921

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093

Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668

San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174

Barnwood Country Kitchen & Smokehouse 3725 W. Old US Hwy 441 352.630.4903

Sip Restaurant and Wine Bar 707 W. Main St. 352.435.7840

Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101

Sully’s Smokehouse 10820 CR 44 352.483.7427

Café Gianni 425 N. Alexander St. 352.735.3327

Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344 The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717 The Mojo Grill & Catering Co. 9925 US-441 352.787.0494 The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250 Turners 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274 Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777 MASCOTTE Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093 MINNEOLA Lil Anthony’s Pizza 205 N. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.1516 Minneola Grill 117 W. Washington St. 352.394.2555

Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426 Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000 Fiesta Grande 421 N. Baker St. 352.385.3540 Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936 Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446 Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444 J.K. Thai Garden 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.4700 Let’s Do Lunch 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.4577 Magical Meat Boutique 322 N. Alexander St. 352.729.6911 Mount Dora Pizza & Subs 2718 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441 352.383.5303 Olive Branch Grille 115 W. 3rd St. 352.729.6734

One Flight Up 440 N. Donnelly St., Ste. 100 352.735.1446

Hurricane Dockside Grill 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. 352.508.5137

BlueFin Grill & Bar 2738 Brownwood Blvd. 352.571.5344

Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669

Kalua Hale Beach Bar 181 S. Joanna Ave. 352.609.5910

Cane Garden Country Club 1726 Bailey Trail 352.750.0627

Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313

Chengs Chinese Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678

Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 CR 448 352.343.6823

China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965

PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092 Shiva Indian Restaurant 140A W. 5th Ave. 352.735.4555 Lake House Bar & Grill 315 N. Highland St. 352.735.7433 Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Que 1305 N. Grandview St. 352.735.7675 The Bavarian Haus 433 N. Alexander St. 352.735.8387 The Country Club 1900 Country Club Blvd. 352.735.2263 The Goblin Market 331-B Donnely St. 352.735.0059 The Pizza Shop 925 E. First Ave. 352.735.3411 Vincent’s Italian Restaurant 5914 Orange Blossom Trl. 352.735.4578 Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500 SORRENTO Del Franco’s Pizza 31436 CR 437 352.383.8882 Lisa’s Kountry Cafe 23911 CR 46 352.735.3380 TAVA R E S Bella Nona Pizzeria 280 Silverado St. 352.508.9370 BTW (Burgers, Tacos & Waffles) 115 E. Main St. 352.508.9287 Fish Camp Lake Eustis 901 Lake Shore Blvd. 352.742.4400

O’Keefe’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 115 S Rockingham Ave. 352.343.2157 Palm Gardens Restaurant 1661 Palm Garden St. 352.431.3217 Puddle Jumpers 111 W Ruby St. 352.508.5862 Ruby Street Grille 221 E. Ruby St. 352.742.7829

Chop House at Lake Sumter 1045 Old Camp Rd. 352.750.6000 Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evans Prairie Trail 352.750.2225 Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill 297 Colony Blvd 352.751.0400 Giovanni’s 3439 Wedgewood Lane 352.751.6674

Sunrise Grill 462 E. Burleigh Blvd. 352.343.7744

Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077

Tavares Ice Cream 214 E. Main 352.508.5342

Habaneros Mexican Grill 3551 Wedgewood Ln. 352.633.2080

The Hideaway 11912 Lane Park Rd. 352.343.3585

Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200

Tiki West Raw Bar and Grill 118 W Ruby St, Tavares 352.508.5783 THE V I L L AG E S Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027 Belle Glade Country Club 446 Moyer Loop 352.205.8208

NYPD Pizzeria 4046 Wedgwood Ln 352.750.1994 Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501 Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499 RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.5272 Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939 Sakura 265 Colony Blvd 352.205.7393

The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535 W I L DWO O D China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913 Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293 Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223

The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800

Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577

Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005

O’Shucks! Oyster Bar and Grill 1016 S Main St. 352.399.2200

VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887

Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 2468 Burnsed Blvd., 352.626.1059

U M AT I L L A

Traditions Café 3107 Hwy. 44 352.748.1077

Combat Café 831 S Central Ave. 352.483.0250 Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145

Legacy Restaurant 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475

Gators Dockside Grill 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969

Margarita Republic 1102 Main St. 352.753.4600

Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555

Mezza Luna Italian Restaurant and Bar 320 Colony Blvd. 352.753.3824

Shang Hai Restaurant 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004

Woody’s Bar-B-Q 1220 S. Main St. 352.748.1109 YA L A H A Yalaha Bakery 8210 CR 48 352.324.3366

Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q 41100 SR 19 352.669.3922

San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant

GOOD GRUB

THIS MONTH'S EDITOR'S PICK

“Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” Lake Countians certainly do. We’re not talking about the city but rather the restaurant. Specifically, San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant, which has locations in Leesburg, Tavares, and Clermont. Lots of Mexican favorites await diners, including golden-brown, pan-fried chimichangas. Also, you cannot go wrong with the California Burrito, which comes with grilled steak, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, rice, and refried beans. For an appetizer, consider the Sampler Platter, featuring a diverse selection of quesadillas, chimichangas, flautas, nachos, and tamales. 1337 S. 14th St., Leesburg / 352.805.4174

F E B ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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DINING GUIDE

Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 352.753.2722 | 304 US-441, LADY LAKE Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant in Lady Lake has the distinct honor of calling itself a true family-owned restaurant. In fact, five generations of family members have represented the restaurant since its humble beginnings in May 1962. As many generations of customers have dined there throughout the years thanks to the outstanding service and scrumptious dishes such as Spaghetti a la Bruzzi, Delmonico steak, and lasagna. This food savvy family prepares everything from scratch, crafting everything with love to satisfy your taste buds.

Subway SUBWAY.COM LADY LAKE | 208 W. GUAVA ST. | 352.750.4929 EUSTIS | 469 PLAZA DR. | 352.357.7827 MOUNT DORA | 18870 U.S. HWY. 441 | 352.735.4376 LEESBURG | 2013 CITRUS BLVD. | 352.787.6442 10135 U.S. HWY. 441, SUITE 4 | 352.326.3234 27405 U.S. HWY. 27, SUITE 4 | 352.314.8847

Wednesday-Sunday 4pm-9pm Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Full Gluten-Free Menu

Custommade, fresh sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads made right before your eyes. The “healthy” alternative to fast food.

THE VILLAGES | 1580 BELLA CRUZ DRIVE | 352.750.9600 8796 S.E. 165TH MULBERRY LANE | 352.750.9991 1070 LAKE SUMTER LANDING DRIVE | 352.205.8535 349 COLONY BLVD. | 352.391.1657 WILDWOOD | 480 W. GULF TO ALANTIC HWY. | 352.748.8800

Yalaha Bakery 352.324.3366 | 8210 STATE ROAD 48, YALAHA The family owned German Bakery since 1995, is an award-winning Bakery that offers to customers high-quality German products made with the highest culinary standards. Fine European pastries and breads are made with organic flours, chocolates, and spices, butter, and imported European ingredients. Take home tortes, tarts, and wonderful pretzels, but before you go home, enjoy something from our delicious deli menu. We serve breakfast from 8-11am and lunch and dinner are served 11am-7pm. Enjoy German specialties like Nurnberger breakfast, Hunterschnitzel with Spätzle, Bratwurst, Reuben, Quiche, typical German soups, and maybe Semelknoedel (bread dumplings with mushroom sauce) for lunch or dinner. We offer a fine selection of German beers and wines. Whatever time of day, you’ll find something you love at Yalaha Bakery. On the weekends you can come and enjoy various events and music concerts on Saturdays and Sundays at our Beer Garden. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or via our website www.yalahabakery.com

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Open Daily 8am-7pm

A German Bakery Like No Other!


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FINAL THOUGHT

CO MMENTARY

Your bracket will be a bust Filling out a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket is far from a slam dunk. STORY: JAMES COMBS

he NCAA Tournament field will be announced next month. As the clock ticks toward tipoff, millions will scramble to gain insight and knowledge so they can fill out what they hope is a flawless bracket and win a few—or a few million—bucks. They’ll check out updated injury lists. They’ll research which teams entered the tournament on a winning streak and which ones limped into the postseason. They’ll comb through the regular-season results of traditional powerhouse programs to determine which one is most vulnerable to an early-round upset. All that research is a colossal waste of time. That bracket you’re about to fill out inevitably will be full of misses. And if you pride yourself on being the Nostradamus of college basketball, then March Madness will quickly turn into March Sadness.

That’s not a knock on your basketball IQ. It’s just that the only predictable thing about the NCAA Tournament is that it’s wildly unpredictable. First, there is no documented evidence that anyone has ever filled out a perfect bracket. Second, there’s a reason Warren Buffet offered a $1 million prize in recent years to the person who filled out a perfect bracket. He knew his money was safe. Seriously, who in his right mind would pick Mercer University (where the hell is that?) to beat a Duke team loaded with former high school All-Americans? That actually happened in 2014, and I’m sure many fans shredded their brackets immediately afterward. Trash cans probably filled up quick in 2018 when Virginia, a No. 1 seed, fell in the first round to Maryland Baltimore County, a No. 16 seed. There’s nothing wrong with filling out a bracket, as long as you don’t take being right too seriously. Your bracket gives you immediate rooting interest in every game, and for a few hours you can claim

to be the biggest Colorado State fan east of the Mississippi River. Having a bracket keeps your attention. Just don’t get mad when those with less basketball knowledge have a more accurate bracket than you. Remain calm when your wife, who hasn’t watched a lick of college basketball all season, successfully picks Louisville to the Final Four simply because “cardinals are the most beautiful birds on the planet.” Don’t go berserk when your best buddy, who openly hates basketball, correctly predicts Wofford upsetting mighty North Carolina based on his silly system of “picking the schools with the most unique names.” Just sit back and enjoy the NCAA Tournament for what it is—one of the greatest spectacles in sports where big powers, small powers, and teams you’ve never heard of duke it out on the hardwood.

Hey, readers! Is there a particular subject that you would like me to write a commentary about? Tell me, via email, at james@akersmediagroup.com.

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JAMES COMBS


Historic Downtown

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STYLE Magazine, Village Edition, February 2021  

Lake and Sumter Counties' Premier Life+Style magazine brings you all the happenings in the number-one-ranked active-adult retirement communi...

STYLE Magazine, Village Edition, February 2021  

Lake and Sumter Counties' Premier Life+Style magazine brings you all the happenings in the number-one-ranked active-adult retirement communi...