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Table of Contents 07 14 08 20 18 07 Local

Local stories this month highlight Judy’s Dance Studio, Leadership Brandon’s 12th Annual Casino Night fundraiser, FishHawk’s Summer Concert specialists - The Landsharks, and the non-profit RVR Horse Rescue “Fun Day.”

16 Spotlight interview

Volume 5 Issue 1 • September 2011

16 on the cover Carla Bruning

Newsome High School Principal

The new school year begins with a new, but very professional principal at Newsome High School. Read Carla Bruning’s heart for education and the students and community she will now serve.

18 Business profile

Dr. Michael Sip and his professional staff at Sip Signature Dentistry delight in enhancing your smile. For some hometown Southern hospitality and award-winning dental expertise, visit soon for cleaning and whitening treatments, one-visit crowns, Invisalign braces, TMJ problems, or any other general dentistry needs.

20 dining profile

This review leaves no room for doubt. “Willie’s” is “The Place for Seafood” and if you love “New Orleans style,” come hungry.

14 - non profit of the month 22 - Event Calendar

Licensing Opportunity

Licensed territories are available. We are looking to expand the family and are looking for motivated individuals to join our award winning team. If you are interested in owning your own Focus Magazine contact Mike Floyd at 813.707.8783 ext 26.


september 2011 Full digital version of the current and past magazines Extended features, interviews, dining profiles and business profiles with extra content Community news updates

FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


Letter From The Publisher Like many of you, my family and I have enjoyed the summer. The pace has been a little slower and we’ve spent extra time with our sons doing things that become those treasured memories. But here we are in the month of September already, with school and its related activities back into the weekly routine. We’ve relaxed, we’ve enjoyed, and now we’re shifting more into the “work” mode.

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We’ll help the boys when they need it with their homework and their sports workouts. Together Dede and I, along with our staff and our valued customers, will work at continuing to improve Focus Magazine so that it always represents the best of our community. And we hope always to encourage our readers in their own “work,” too. Carla Bruning’s work as Newsome High School’s new principal deserves encouragement. Her responses in Derek Maul’s spotlight interview reflect a woman passionate about her work and the students in her charge. She shared, “Working with people – family, parents, community – is what I feel I do the best… I like to learn, and getting involved is how you learn things… And I’m motivated to see both children and adults achieve things they didn’t think they ever could.” We agree and believe that with administrators who work like that, our young people are in good hands. The specialized work of RVR Horse Rescue will be showcased in a family Fun Day this month, which is another way to “learn” about the caring, compassionate folks in our community who could use your help. So, as we move into fall and as you and your family, like Bruning says, “get involved to learn new things”, may your lives be richer for the effort.


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september 2011

Mike Floyd - Publisher

Got a story idea? Looking to advertise in Focus? Contact us for more information.

Publisher Mike Floyd

Floyd Publications, Inc. 702 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd. Plant City, FL 33563

Office Manager Dede Floyd

Office 813.707.8783 Fax 813.764.0990

Copy Editor Cheryl Johnston Credit Manager Angel Carter Standards of accuracy: The goal of the writers at FOCUS Magazine is to provide heart-warming stories that are accurate from the start. Being human, however, we sometimes make mistakes. Please forgive us.

Sales Sophia Hyde | Julie Hasting | Linda Simmons Brent Simmons | Bernadette Casey | Aldo Trevino Production Anthony Sassano |Tony Cartagena

So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and inform it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 707-8783 or e-mail The staff will fix the error in a timely manner. FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local Plant City businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Advertisers warrant and represent the descriptions of their products advertised are true in all respects. Focus Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters and their contents sent to Focus Magazine become the sole property of Floyd Publications, Inc and may be reproduced thereof. All views expressed in all articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Floyd Publications, Inc. Use or duplication of material used in this publication is prohibited without approved written consent from Floyd Publications, Inc.

FOCUS TV Shana Johnson Mitchel Distribution Byron Spradlin Belva DeVane Photographers Billy Friend Lori Blaser | Jennifer Darnell Staff Writers Cheryl Johnston Brian West | Joe Bowles Derek Maul | Heather Davis | Dan Conrod | Heather Davis Megan Braglin | Cheryl Turner | Amanda Molinaro John Ross Contributors Al Ruechel | Gil Gott Bruce Rodwell | Jo-An Lusk | Nate Davis

Local » Focus

A large crowd gathered at FishHawk’s Summer Concerts for a Cause, a weekly event that is fun for the whole family. Photo by Shana Mitchell

LandsharksFishhawk in Concert Summer series T Written By: Shana Mitchell

his summer, Friday nights have been festive in Fish Hawk. From June 10th to August 19th, the large community in Lithia has hosted a summer concert series that has gathered neighbors, new comers, and 2,339 pounds of food!

Concerts in Fish Hawk’s outdoor center Park Square have become a found tradition for the neighborhood. Given the growing popularity of the concerts, organizers decided to structure the summer series with a higher purpose. FishHawk home builder, Newland Communities, partnered with Feeding America Tampa Bay to host the Summer Concerts for a Cause. “You do not have to live in the community.

Anyone at anytime is welcome to come out and enjoy our concerts.” said Pierette Haraden from Newland Communities. With the only encouraged admission being a non-parishable food item, the live musical entertainment is completely free.

and the Beach Boys, The Landsharks have perfected the art of jamming. The summer series is an attraction for all ages. FishHawk resident Tammy Leopard frequents the Park Square concerts and said, “It is one of the reasons we moved to FishHawk a year ago.” Being a mother of three, she said the concert series is a family event with something great for her 4-yr-old,

10-yr-old, and 12-yr-old children who love playing in the fountains and hanging out at the Art Monkey painting center. Keep your coolers and lawn chairs handy because according to Pierette Haraden, “Newland Communities is planning to bring back the Summer Concerts for a Cause again next year.”

The FishHawk Summer Concerts for a Cause provides live entertainment like the beachy beats of The Landsharks. Photo by Shana Mitchell

The main man on the mic the night of August 12th, was the lead singer of The Landsharks, Gary Roland. He said, “Today it is hot, but it is fun.” As an eight time venue veteran, The Landsharks know that playing in Park Square is all about having a good time. The crowd was transported that night from the lush grassy lawn to a tropical beach by the summertime classic sounds that filled the air. Having played alongside Jimmy Buffet FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


Local » Focus

12th Annual Casino Leadership Brandon Alumni’s Night Sole Fundraiser a Full House C Story and Photos by: Cheryl Rogers-Turner

ards were stacked in favor of the 12th Annual Casino Night held at Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association in Brandon. The doors opened at 6:30 p.m. sharp on Friday, August 12, 2011 to a crowd of past and current Leadership Brandon alumni and supporters of the Greater Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership program.

According to Crystal Colegrove, the Chamber’s Director of Member Programming “The annual Casino Night is the only fundraiser Leadership Brandon hosts during the year. Donations collected from ticket sales go toward transportation costs associated with the monthly field trips.” Approximately eight monthly trips during the Leadership Program consist of tours of various facilities throughout the county to familiarize participants with the inner workings of our community. “Scholarships are also available from this fundraiser, so the success of this event to the Program is crucial,” stressed Colegrove. Often an individual is nominated to participate in the Program because of their leadership potential identified by an employer or an agency they might volunteer for. In many of these situations the individual does not personally have the funds to attend the Program. Leadership Brandon Alumni desire that not one person who qualifies for the Program would be turned away for

lack of financial resources. The scholarships, both full and partial, are essential to the continuance of the Program. Derek Doughty of the LB Class of 2009 mentioned that he has attended this event for the past three years and enjoys it so much he will continue to attend in the future. He mentioned he “actually won” two silent auction items this year as well as three drawings and has won similar drawings in the past, he says, “when the Blackjack gods choose to smile at me.” Irma Davis, “a proud LB 2007 Graduate” had a really great time this year. She shares that both she and her boyfriend were “overjoyed at how full the room was with friends and classmates” and they “both had a really great time.” Davis won a mini-golf package from ACE Miniature Golf on Kings Avenue in Brandon, and her boyfriend won a lingerie party from the Pink Petticoat and two smoothies from Planet Smoothie. They will probably swap each other out. “I wanted to bid on the silent auction, but the craps table kept me too occupied and I missed the deadline.” Several local sponsors helped to make this night special for the folks at Leadership Brandon, including Chick-fil-A at Lake Brandon Village, Tampa Electric, The Tampa Tribune, ACE Heating and Cooling, Dolly Brown and Everest University, Flooring

Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Board, Melissa Snively wins big as husband David and Dr. Gary Kotila watch in surprise. photo by Brandon Chamber of Commerce

America, Fortis University, the Law office of Ingrid M. Hooglander, Miranda Kelly, Mister Hotshine Car Wash & Lube Centers, Sosa Law Office, P.A., and Sunshine State Federal Savings and Loan Association. Casino games were provided by Florida Casino Parties. They did a fabulous job at each station. Gamers pretty much stuck to the tables they started with, probably because the turnout was so good that most tables stayed full all evening. Stations included several blackjack tables, craps, roulette, and two tables for Texas Hold ‘Em poker.

There were also three faux slot machines for authentic casino sound effects, and a beautiful hostess meandering among the players, visiting and providing ambiance. For additional information regarding the Leadership Brandon Program, please visit To make donations to the Program or for are additional questions, please contact Crystal Colegrove at the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce: 813-689-1221, or email

Where Brandon Ends and the FUN Begins! • Dinner • DJs • Live Bands • Dancing • Ladies Night

• Late Night Menu • Pool • Arcade Games • Karaoke

Something For ALL! 8

september 2011


1602 E. SR 60, Valrico, FL 33594 Find Us on


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Title Sponsor:

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Supporting Sponsor:

- Sponsors - Local Dance & Music Groups Contact the Brandon Foundation at : (813)- 689-6889

Family Fun, Entertainment and Vendors to help start your holiday season off with a smile. Winthrop Christmas tree lighting, Santa’s Workshop, 5K run and much, much more!

December 2– 4 Winthrop Town Centre Corner of Providence & Bloomingdale Riverview, Florida Benefiting the Brandon Foundation and its registered charities. FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


Local » Focus three-studio dance facility. Soon we’ll build an arts complex on our North Miller Road property.” Today their family includes two sons, Mead Andrew and Charlie IV, and Charlie’s wife, Sined Lopez Comiskey. One day there will be grandchildren who Judy says will “light up our lives.” Talent development thrills Comiskey, who believes “every child is born with unlimited and untapped potential.” She adores working with children, she says because, “You never know what to expect next and they keep you smiling. I’ve never met a child I didn’t learn something from.” Because of our “highly experienced, caring teachers,” she adds, “many become professionals. Amazing individuals like Nora Trivunovich, Linda Cheney, Melissa Kelly, Dawn Gundlach and Laura Crane keep the academy running smoothly.” Social skills and academic performance in both the verbal and math categories show marked improvement in children who participate in the arts. This, Judy says, is why the academy’s motto is “Smart Kids Dance.” Senior Jazz Class Photo courtesy of Motte Photography

Judy’s Dance Honored by Academy Brandon Chamber T

Judy’s Dance Academy is committed to numerous charitable causes, too. These include Relay for Life, Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, American Diabetes Association, Cystic Fibrosis - Rock and Roses, and Camp

Christina. Studio dancers also perform at local nursing homes, the Hillsborough County Fair, the Strawberry Festival, Nativity Bethlehem Breakfast, Novemberfest, and St. Stephen’s Spring Fling. When not dancing, Judy enjoys local community productions, her involvement with Nativity Catholic Church activities, and playtime with the family’s two “adorable” labs, Lady Godiva and Coco Channel. She attends conventions and workshops to stay current in dance. “But,” Judy shared, “flying airplanes is my favorite hobby because I conquered my fear of flying by becoming a pilot myself.” She participates also with Women in Aviation, the Airline Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Valrico. On being a local, Judy said, “I love living in Brandon. The small town atmosphere helps you know people more personally. My studio echoes this through the families who have become friends outside of dance.” Describing her philosophy about giving back and paying forward, she believes, “Life is like a boomerang. The more you give out in your community, the more that comes back to you. This gives a sense of stability and purpose in our ever-changing environment.” Whether it’s wings in the sky or dancing shoes on the ground, Judy Comiskey has found her way and most definitely, her home here in Brandon.

Written By: Cheryl Johnston

he Brandon Chamber of Commerce recently recognized Judy Comiskey for her 20-year involvement with the organization.

In addition to the community commitment, she is the very active owner of Judy’s Dance Academy in Valrico, a comprehensive, family oriented studio for all ages. The value of Chamber membership was an early lesson. Comiskey shares, “Membership connects me with people I would otherwise not have known and gives me a better understanding of the needs in our community.” She also credits the Brandon Chamber for “great promotion of area businesses and its wonderful annual



Judy and her husband, Charles Comiskey III, relocated to Brandon 25 years ago with his civil engineering work. Today he is a project manager for Total Building Solutions. As a teen in Evansville, Indiana, Judy founded the still active Harrison High School Dance Team with which she toured Europe before meeting Charles and earning a B.A. in Communications from Purdue. Prior to Brandon, she taught in Chicago, Houston, and Stuart. But here, Comiskey said, is her greatest accomplishment. “I took a leap of faith (encouraged & financed by my Uncle) 20 years ago to open a one-room studio with 50 students that is now a thriving

september 2011

2010-2011 JAM Dance Company Photo courtesy of Motte Photography

Brandon Chamber Of Commerce » Focus

BRANDON CHAMBEr Business briefing BRANDON CHAMBER BUSINESS BRIEFING SMALL BUSINESS EDUCATION In partnership with the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, the Hillsborough County Small Business Information Center (SBIC) holds FREE small business counseling every Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30am to 4:00pm, at the Chamber. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call 813-689-1221. This month’s FREE Working Smarter Workshops, led by counselors of the Hillsborough County Small Business Information Center, is “Growing Your Business”. It will be held on Tuesday, September 20th, 9:30am to 4:00pm. The focus of this workshop is expanding and enhancing your existing business. For more information, or to register, please contact Jamie Reid at or 813-689-1221, ext. 8843.

BIZ ED 101 SEMINAR SERIES “Grant Writing for Non-Profit Organizations” will be held on Wednesday, September 28th, 11:00am-1:00pm, at the Brandon Chamber, 330 Pauls Dr., Brandon. Interested in basic elements of Grant Writing for Non-Profit Organizations? Learn the basic sections of a grant, how to design an effective program including indentifying outcomes and program impact and strategies to preparing a grant budget. Understand the different types of grant funding available and how to determine if a specific funder is a good fit for your organization. Cost is $18 for Brandon Chamber members and $30 for potential members with lunch included. For more information or to register please visit or contact Jamie Reid at, or 813-689-1221, ext. 8843. LUNCH WITH TODAY’S LEADERS You are invited to attend lunch with Colonel Richoux, Commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill Air Force Base on Thursday, September 29th, 12:00pm, at the Embassy Suites, 10220 Palm River Rd., Tampa. Colonel Richoux will discuss “MacDill’s Economic Impact: Past, Present and Future”; Past: The Age of the Fighter Aircraft, Present: The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Future: Air Refueling and Unmanned Aircraft, Always: Brandon is an Air Force Town. Cost is Seats at $18 for Brandon Chamber members and $23 for potential members. Corporate table preferred seating is also available at $170 for Chamber members and $210 for potential members. For more information or to register please contact Crystal Colegrove at or Laura Cook at or by contacting the Chamber offices, 813-689-1221. 2011 SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR SEMIFINALISTS ANNOUNCED Congratulations to the 2011 Small Business of the Year Awards Semi-Finalists! • Home Based B&W PC Consultants – Bill Thomas Immaculate Janitorial Services, LLC – LaShunda & Jerald Mangum Morningstar Electric, LLC – Ken & Tammy Morningstar TakeOut Butler, LLC – Erik Butler Yard Guards on Doody, LLC – Cheresee Rehart • Minority & Women Owned Campbell’s Dairyland, Inc. – Jill & Jay Paules / James & Leesa Lee Leonard’s Academy of Dance & Centre for the Arts – Leonard Mardis Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital – Dr. Sharon Hunter, DVM Teachers’ Helper, Inc. – Shearon Bailey Tutoring Club of Valrico – Susan Prestridge 1-5 Employees

Community Insurance Group – Bill Puckett Green Lizard Lawn Care, LLC – Nicole Davis Hi Tech Automotive – Joe & Melissa Canfield Minuteman Press – Mike & Julie Arndt Re/Max Southshore Realty – “The Liberman Team” – Steve & Kathy Lieberman • 6-15 Employees Busiciglio Orthodontics – Dr. Derek Busiciglio Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association – Dawn Galia Park Square Cellar – Shawn & Mary Sarkisian & Kevin Fulcher Rory B. Weiner, P.A. – Rory B. Weiner Valrico Animal Clinic – Dr. David Thomassy • 16+ Employees Delany Creek Lodge – Sue Smith Hess Orthodontics – Dr. Michael A. Hess, DMD, MS KnowledgePoints – Rod Burkhardt Superior Residence of Brandon Memory Care – Jill Andrew The Green Boutique Gifts & Home Accessories, Inc. – Rosalind Creager The Small Business of the Year Awards will be held on Thursday, October 20th, at the Crowne Plaza Tampa-East, 10221 Princess Palm Rd., Tampa. For more information or to register please visit www. or contact Jamie Reid at jreid@, or 813-689-1221, ext. 8843. SEPTEMBER NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES Business After Hours – Tuesday, September 13th, 5:30pm, hosted by Southern Funeral Care & Cremation Services, Inc., 10510 Riverview Dr., Riverview. Networking at Noon – Tuesday, September 20th, 12:00pm, hosted by Ed Morse Cadillac of Brandon, 11024 Causeway Blvd., Brandon. Coffee Club – Tuesday, September 27th, to be announced YOUNG PROFESSIONALS - BRANDON Are you under 39 years of age? Or feel like it??? Then this group is for you. YP Brandon inspires young professionals to Lead by example, Grow by association, and Give back to the Brandon community. Come join the Young Professionals at Tres Amigos Cantina, 2025 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, Thursday, September 1st, 5:30pm, for a Networking Social. This event is FREE for YP members and $5 for guests. Can’t make the social? Join us for a Straight Up Networking Luncheon on Wednesday, September 14th, 11:45am, at Embassy Suites Tampa-Brandon, 10220 Palm River Rd., Tampa. For more information on YP Brandon or their events please contact Crystal Colegrove at ccolegrove@ or 813-689-1221, ext. 8824, Victoria Singletary at vsingletary@brandonchamber. com, ext. 8836 or visit

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FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


The Premier Showplace for Talent in Florida


Performing in the Red Rose Dining Room


The trio covers the top hits from yesterday to today! Also, P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds perform before and after the show.


Richie Merritt, formally of the Marcels, will be performing in the Red Rose Dining Room. Also, P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds perform before and after the show.


Doo Wop At Its Best! Relive the 50s & 60s as though it was yesterday. “Forever in Love,” “Just Over the Brooklyn Bridge.” Plus, P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds.


The Mystics, including, original members of the group, George Galfo and Phil Cracolici, will perform their hits, including their number one chart topper “Hushabye.” P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds perform before and after the show.


Performing in the Red Rose Dining Room


Doo Wop At Its Best! Relive the 50s & 60s as though it was yesterday. “Forever in Love,” “Just Over the Brooklyn Bridge.” Plus, P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds.

A dynamite crowd pleaser! P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds perform before and after the show.

A dynamite crowd pleaser! P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds perform before and after the show.

Coming Soon! NOVEMBER 12




Performing in the Red Rose Dining Room

A dynamite crowd pleaser! P.J. Leary’s Las Vegas Sounds perform before and after the show.

Stay overnight and join in on the Sunday Tea (Oct. 2) with a reading by Marjorie York with her one woman show of “Just Call Me Peggy,” a tribute to Gone With The Wind author, Margaret Mitchell; cast members will also be in attendence to sign autographs and talk about their experience of being in one of the greatest films of all time!




from the 97th Regimental String Band. Period costumes welcome, but not required. Doors open 6:30, Dinner served at 7:00, 1861 Ball Events at 8:00.


A Tribute to one of America’s top novels and film! Come see and meet original Gone With the Wind cast members, Mickey Kuhn and Patrick Curtis. Music

The act comes to Plant City to help benefit St. Jude Hospital. The annual event includes Dinner in a Supper Club atmosphere and great musical talent to dance the night away with... and, for a very good cause.

TEL: 813.752.3141 • I-4 Exit 21 • 2011 N. Wheeler St.• Plant City, FL 33563 •

FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


Local » Non-Profit of the Month she has into the daily operation of the rescue, and has hired Michelle Russell on as her full-time Medical Director to watch over the needs of the Ranch. Russell, with over 20 years experience as a veterinarian technician, is an absolute necessity for the success of the Ranch. Also critical to the operation are volunteers. RVR currently has seven or eight committed volunteers who assist with daily chores such as feeding, cleaning stalls, exercising and assisting in rehabilitating the horses. Jayroe and Russell are especially proud of their team of volunteers, including Kat Wiggins, who “will pick up a rescue anywhere, anytime,” and Ron O’Bonnon, Russell’s fiancé, who takes care of the buildings, barns and all electrical work. Because of the costs involved in properly caring for a horse, Jayroe does not take voluntary surrenders at RVR. She can only take in severe cases which require immediate veterinary attention. Some of those cases have become permanent residents at the Ranch because their injuries have caused

them to be unadoptable. One is blind; another has bad knees and cannot be ridden. One was severely beaten with a baseball bat. Another dragged by his forelegs behind a truck to die in a field after he collapsed from being ridden too hard at a barrel race. Many are brought in severely emaciated, not because of meanness so much as a lack of knowledge on the proper care and nutrition a horse requires to stay healthy. The stories go on and on and on. Ongoing needs at the Ranch include more volunteers, lots of them, and donations of money, building and horse supplies for their location at 12611 Hayes Clan Rd, Riverview, FL 33579. Donations may be mailed to the ranch. Volunteers, supply donors, and anyone interested in adoption information can call 813-500-1071 or 813-310-9094. Readers can also visit the website, RVRHorseRescue. com, or friend them on Facebook. The staff and volunteers look forward to meeting their neighbors September 25th at Fun Day. All support is sincerely appreciated.

Michelle Russell, Medical Director at RVR, with her daughter and “the twins,” both rescued horses. Photo provided by RVR Horse Rescue

RVR Horse Rescue Riverview Ranch hosts “Horse Rescue Awareness Fun Day” September 25, 2011 Written By: Cheryl Rogers-Turner


VR Horse Rescue’s greatest desire is to teach responsible horse ownership at their “Horse Rescue Awareness Fun Day” slated for September 25, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The fun will include a tour of the Ranch, opportunity to meet the horses, pony rides, T-shirt sales, a 50/50 raffle, barbeque chicken dinner for adults, and hot dogs with chips for the kiddos.

“There will be plenty going on for the entire family” says Michelle Russell, Medical Director at RVR. The day includes several knowledgeable speakers who will touch on topics such as horse rescue, body scoring, nutrition, hoof care, grooming and patience. Anyone contemplating horse ownership or who may have become an overwhelmed horse owner will want to be at the Ranch for this event. The community is invited to attend as the event will not only educate, but also benefit the current resident rescues.

RVR owner Shawn Jayroe has been rescuing horses most of her life, but over the past 10 years has watched the operation slowly grow into what it is today. Situated on 40 prime acres about a mile off Balm-Riverview Road in Riverview, Shawn lives and breathes for the lives of the horses brought to her Ranch with life threatening injuries, severe malnutrition, and neglect. And Jayroe would love to be able to do more. She considers the rescue operation her calling in life. The Temple Terrace salon owner puts everything


september 2011

Rescued family of horses. Foal born at RVR after the pregnant mare and stallion were rescued Photo provided by RVR Horse Rescue

RVR Volunteers: Back row, left to right: Shawn Jayroe, Kameron Laraway, Michelle Russell Front row, left to right: Sandy Johnson, Kelly Persinger, Kristin Paizza, Ruth Lukancich Photo provided by RVR Horse Rescue

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Spotlight» Carla Bruning


ost people enroll in 1st Grade with the understanding that, twelve years down the road, their local school district career will draw to a close. But for Carla Bruning, who graduated Robinson High School in 1975, the journey was just getting under way. This summer the animated Hillsborough County veteran took over the reigns at Newsome High School. It’s her second position as principal and she’s as enthusiastic as she was when she first started. “I’m a product of Hillsborough County,” she said, “and I enjoy working in Hillsborough County. It’s all good.”


Carla Bruning Brings Her Optimistic Brand of Leadership to Newsome High School Interview and photos by Derek Maul

Focus- We understand you’ve been in Hillsborough County schools since 1963? Bruning - I started first grade at Sidney Lanier in South Tampa, was promoted to Monroe Junior High School, and after that I attended Robinson High School. Focus- What was your niche growing up? Bruning - I was very athletic as a child. But that was in the dark ages, when girls weren’t so involved in sports. I was on the first girls’ volleyball team Robinson ever had. I was very competitive, but I didn’t say


september 2011

good! When you’re 5’4’’ you’re not exactly a volleyball star. But I was tenacious. I really I enjoyed playing softball, but there were no scholarships back then. Focus- Did you at least leave the county for university? Bruning - No! I earned my teaching degree in Physical Education and Science from the University of South Florida. Later I returned to USF for my masters’ degrees, first in Science Education and then Education Leadership.

Spotlight» Carla Bruning manager, SIT chair (School improvement team), or whatever the case. I like to learn, and getting involved is how you learn things. But I love working with people, and I love learning from people. And I’m motivated to see both children and adults achieve things they didn’t think they ever could.” Focus- Has administration changed much over the past few years? Bruning - It’s changed a lot - and that change has been a mixture of extremely rewarding and sometimes very sad. But I believe teachers can and do respond to a higher calling, hone their craft, and raise the standard. Why? Because that’s the heart of a teacher. A great teacher is going to do it no matter what. Focus- Without putting you on the spot politically, how do you feel about the public perception of education? Bruning - Sometimes I feel like my role is that of an ambassador for education, with the emphasis on educating the public. So I’m a politician for education - to teach the public that education is so important. And I want people to think for themselves; to read, and to draw their own conclusions. Focus- Where have you worked? Bruning - I started out at Gaither High School in Tampa. Later, in 1994, I went to Bloomingdale High in Brandon to teach science. My first AP job (assistant principal) was at Durant, 1995-2001. Then I moved to King in Temple Terrace as AP, and eventually served as principal from 2004-2011. Focus - Why leave King’s award-winning International Baccalaureate Program? Bruning - Newsome is not just a school, but part of the FishHawk community. Working with people – family, parents, community – is what I feel like I do the best. This just felt right to me. FishHawk is a friendly community with cultural diversity, a family approach, and a high regard for education. You can’t ask for anything better than that. Focus - Is there room for improvement at Newsome? Bruning - My incentive is that there’s always something to shoot for. We have a lot of really, really bright kids. I want to continue to push them into honors

and advanced placement classes. I want to put them in rigorous classes to give them experience in higher order thinking. I believe that capacity can always be increased. Focus- What’s wrong with just good? Bruning - If good is as good as you can do, then that should be your goal. But you shouldn’t sell yourself short. There are so many opportunities for challenging courses here, and students should all reach for their capability. You always want to do your best for your students.

Bruning - Newsome has 156 instructional personnel and around a 25 member support staff. The people I’ve met are very professional and I can feel the spirit of working as a team for the good of the kids. Focus- How much does the ubiquity of social media add to the drama in today’s high school? Bruning - It’s constant. If something happens on Facebook, it isn’t the same as something that happened at school. School personnel can’t regulate it or fix it. We just deal with the repercussions.

Focus- What’s your message for Newsome students?

Focus- Would high school be better as single gender campuses?

Bruning - Enjoy your high school career. Do your best academically, but being a well-rounded person is even more important. It’s about learning to work with others, and learning to participate in ‘group thinking’. It’s about getting along with others and realizing what your role is. High school is often the place where young people develop leadership characteristics.

Bruning - Maybe easier; but not so real. We are a slice of real life here. Newsome is an (approaching) 2,400-member community. This is where young people have the opportunity to learn.

Focus- Have you got to know your new staff yet?

Focus- Did you miss the classroom? Bruning - At first I thought I wanted to stay in the classroom. But I never just did my job and went home: I was always involved as cheerleading sponsor, business

Focus- Is there any one thing you wish people understood about school that they often miss? Bruning - Yes. I am an advocate for your child and I always work for what is best for your child. We may not always agree regarding things like consequences, but your child is why I am here. Focus- What floats your boat outside of work? Bruning - I’m passionate about life, and I enjoy everything I’m involved in. I like to attend after-hours school events. I love spoiling my niece and nephew and hanging out with my family. I love to read, to walk on the beach, to shop, and to travel. I attend Palma Ceia United Methodist Church in South Tampa. Focus- Any pets? Bruning - I have a black and white shiatsu named Panda. Focus- What do you feel about the future? Bruning - I’m optimistic. I always feel there’s an answer, a hope, and that things are worth fighting for. I enjoy life and I believe that people should have a good time - whatever they do.

FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


business Profile» Sip Signiture dentistry

Sip Signature Michael A. Sip, D.M.D Dentistry F Written By: Deana Bennett Garrison

or some, just the thought of going to the dentist sends a rush of anxiety through their souls. That anxiety disappears immediately as you enter the home like atmosphere of Sip Signature Dentistry. From the relaxing rooms with cable television to the down home courtesy of offering bottled water, a pillow and blanket, this unique dentistry practice makes visitors’ worries vanish.

Dr. Michael Sip adds high quality to the huge expectations we have in a dentist. We expect knowledge and skill. You will receive that and more from Sip. Practicing for three years in Germany while serving in the army, Sip has been in dentistry for a total of 12 years. What sets him apart from your average dentist? The simple fact is that he not only treats your problem, but his goal is to find the root of the problem and develop a way to resolve it. By solving the cause and not just the problem, patients will benefit from not having to endure the same issues all over again.


A good example of this problem/solution expertise is his high level of knowledge in bite disorders like the TMJ disorder (temporomandibular joint) associated with headaches and in some severe cases, migraines. By simply examining how the teeth fit together, he has helped many overcome the effects of this illness. The disharmony is caused because teeth shift and change. Dr. Sip also continues his education to stay up to date on current issues of a stable bite and teeth muscle joints to help those patients have harmony in their bite for a pain free life. The awards displayed around his office say it all. He was the winner of the “Best of Brandon Award’ (nominated by the people) in 2009. For two years straight in 2008 and 2009, the practice was also one of the top finalists of the “Small Business of the Year Award” and won the title in 2010. This year Dr. Sip was a top finalist of “The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce Successful Doctors Award.” With all this recognition it is no wonder he

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has many smiling faces returning time and time again. Patients Robin and Jeff Stone had this to say about Sip, “He pays close attention to detail in all of his work and he also performs all procedures with great gentleness.” During your visit, you will find up to date technology, with a digital x-ray to view on screen right in your room. Dr. Sip takes his time explaining everything to his patients to educate them on preventative care. He also wants to make certain they understand the options available to meet their individual needs. Careful scheduling helps the patient’s wait time be as minimal as possible. Many procedures are offered including Invisalign, Zoom Whitening, and the convenient “one visit” crowns.

If you are thinking about enhancing your smile or need relief from dental pain relief, call 813-689-9623 or visit their www. There you can read valuable information and complete a form to make an appointment convenient to your schedule. The office is located at 110 Knights Avenue North (just north of SR 60). All PPO insurance plans are accepted and new patients are welcome. Hurry in today to you’re your smile on.”

Information 813-689-9623 110 Knights Avenue North (just north of SR 60) or visit

813-752-1585 813-655-3712

Business Focus

Goff Roof Systems License #: CCC1329

Over 30 Years Experience

most current materials and roofing industry technology.
 Reliable – When the hurricanes devastated Polk County in 2004, Goff completed more than 35,000 repairs and 6,000 roof replacements. 
 Trustworthy – Goff Roof Systems, Inc. employs the most experienced staff of mechanics and supervisors available, many with over 15 years of longevity with the same team.

Owners Joel Rappe and Mike Goff


eeeing brown spots on the ceiling? How about peeling wallpaper, cracked or peeling paint? You, my friend, are in need of a roofer. 
 Mike Goff of Goff Roof Systems, Inc. has been a roofing contractor for over 30 years and he can help solve these problems. The company was established in 1983 as Goff Roofing and for 15 years Mike Goff built his trade with small to medium contracting jobs. Customers have included Walmart, Majik Market, 7-11 and numerous others, along with thousands of residential homeowners who needed roof installations and repairs. In a merge with Waller Construction Company in 1997 the name was changed to Goff-Waller Roofing. Mike remained onboard as General Manager, overseeing day-today operations and expanding opportunities of the company. During those 14 years of ownership by the Waller family, the organization grew into a successful full-service roofing company

offering a broad range of roof systems, with an efficient service department providing expanded warranties and inspections. When the Waller family decided to concentrate their efforts in other directions in 2011, they sold the roofing operations back to Mike Goff. Goff Roof Systems, Inc. was formed and continues to offer the same great service and industry leading products that people have come to expect. The office staff alone has a combined 70 years of experience in the industry. The company’s roof mechanics are the best trained and most experienced around. Customers certainly agree.

Contractor Association at www. and take a minute to read what you should be looking for in a contractor. Goff ’s qualifications definitely exceed expectations. Experienced – The company has been in existence for almost 30 years. Licensed – The company is fully licensed and insured. Current – Technicians at Goff Roof Systems, Inc. are proficient with the

Mike invites customers to compare and encourages with this advice: “Replacing your roof is an important step for your family home and here at Goff we would like the opportunity to show you what our years of experience can do for you. We know that not everyone is as up on their roofing knowledge as us, but hey, that’s our business.” Call us and let us show you that you can get quality without spending a fortune! 
 The technicians at Goff Roof Systems, Inc. are certified applicators for the majority of the major roofing materials manufacturers. Mike Goff, President, or Joel Rappe, V.P., can be reached at 813-752-1585 or 813-655-3712, the same numbers that haven’t changed in 30 years.

Barbara Layton had her roof replaced by Goff and had this to say: “They did great and kept their appointments. I had no problems. They did what they said they would do.” Charles Collins hired them to replace his roof 18 years ago and recently returned as a repeat customer. He complimented the company’s staff and workmanship, saying, “They do an excellent job.” Looking for a roofer can be confusing. For help, visit the National Roofing FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


entertainment » dining profile

photo by tony cartagena

World famous fried catfish nestled atop a bed of crispy clam strips and golden fries. Photo by Tony Cartagena

Willie’s, “The Place for Seafood” I f you are a resident of Brandon and haven’t eaten the fried catfish at Willie’s, this article is for you. For everyone else, enjoy this refresher course provided you by your benevolent FOCUS Magazine Dining Crew.

Tucked comfortably amongst some of the oldest oaks in Brandon, the 96-year-old building, upon entering, brings a sense of history and an at-home relaxedness that might come from dining in such a nestled, off-the-beaten-path location. About 99% of the building is wood and there’s something authentic feeling about eating seafood on an old plank floor. But we didn’t leave work early to come get a history lesson or to look at oak trees. “People don’t come here for the chandelier,” said Bill Robinson, original and current owner of Willie’s. So, we got down to it. The fried Alligator Bites (the most popular appetizer) came with a house-made Cajun Ranch dipping sauce. Each piece of tail meat is breaded and has just enough chew to let you know that it’s gator. But the chewiness in our appetizer was so perfect (for being gator) that we wanted to ask Mr. Robinson how he did it. “The secret to alligator,” he said, sharing with us his more than 30 years of experience preparing New Orleans style seafood, “is you have to marinate it. We marinate ours for 24-48 hours.” We ordered the All-You-Can-Eat Special and started with the famed flagship item of Willie’s, the Fried Catfish Filets. Stacked over hot French fries and next to a side of freshly-made tartar sauce, I picked a


piece up and it was heavy in the hand. It was dusted with a special fine breading used exclusively for the Catfish. I dipped it liberally into the creamy tartar sauce and sank my teeth right through it. The juicy, tender meat flaked right off. As you would expect from authentic Cajun food, the flavor was intense and delicious.

Running a close second to the catfish, in terms of popularity, is the fried shrimp. The shrimp is breaded a little more coarsely than the catfish for just a little more crunch. They are medium-sized and served with the house-made cocktail sauce that is on the verge of tart. Don’t be afraid to go right through them, because they are included in the All-You-Can-Eat Special (available Tuesday through Thursday every week for $15.99), as is the Mahi-Mahi, Clam Strips, and Tilapia. Though the fried food is what has brought Willie’s over 30 years of solid business, Mr. Robinson has done anything but neglect those looking for variety. The build-yourown pasta system at Willies is pretty exciting. First, pick your meat (alligator, chicken, scallops, crawfish, shrimp, or a medley of seafood that includes crab claw). Then pick a specially made sauce (made one batch per order) from choices that include a Creole Cream sauce, New Orleans Red Gravy, or a butter sauce, and get excited as you watch your steaming plate of five-star pasta arrive at your table the way you asked for it. Land lovers will find steak and chicken on the menu, and there are also chef salads, a large range of broiled items, and several authentic Pontchartrain dishes.

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We asked one family nearby to share their thoughts of Willie’s. “We come here every week,” said Vicki Britt, sitting with daughter Kristen and husband Darell. Their family has loved the New Orleans style seafood at Willie’s for 12 consecutive years. “The food is great and the service is great,” Vicki said. “The seafood is fresh.”

Willie’s is having a temporary Fish n’ Chips deal on Fridays and Saturdays for $9.99. Mr. Robinson says he’ll fill up the plate with fish. Just remember to try the catfish at some point, and the gator could also be considered

The gator bites alone are worth the trip into historic Valrico. Photo by Tony Cartagena

Beautiful Catfish written By: John Ross

a must-try. Regardless, you’re sure to be pleased. Mr. Robinson thinks so, too. “The reason we’re still here, since 1975,” he said, “is because we sell excellent food products. Nobody can top us.”

information (813) 571-7630 1912 Main Street Valrico, FL 33594 Tuesday – Thursday 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday – Saturday 4:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


dining & entertainment Âť event calendar


calendar of events

If you have an upcoming event and would like us to add it to our calendar of events please email the information to:

Thursday, September 8

Boy Scouts of America Roundtable for all Cub Scout & Boy Scout Leaders Location: 4805 Bell Shoals Road, Valrico Contact: Molly Blanton @mblanton@ or call 813-872-2391

Friday, September 9 & Saturday, September 10

Annual Gallery Hop Find the Treasures of Brandon September 9, 5-9 p.m. September 10, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Venues; September 10, 7 p.m. at Center Place Details at or Center Place Fine Arts: or call 813-685-8888

Saturday, September 10 ECHO (Emergency Care Help Organization) Charity Thrift Sale 8 a.m.- 1 p.m. Contact: Joni Damico: 813-685-0935 or visit

Tuesday, September 13 & Wednesday, September 14 Valrico Village Players Auditions for the musical ANNIE Location: James McCabe Theatre Contact: Domin Pazo 813- 677-8045

Friday, September 16 & Saturday, October 8 For Troops Saturday, September 17 Cards 9-3 p.m. Seriously Sinatra 7:30 p.m. show only. Tickets are $25. 6:30 p.m. social; 7 p.m. Dinner; 8 p.m. Dinner; Theater Tickets are $40 per person. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are non-refundable. For tickets and additional information please call: 813-685-8888.

Sunday, September 25

Four-H Club - Boots and Bridles 3 p.m. For more information call: 813-220-6056

Saturday, October 1

6th Annual Jim Lanier Memorial Fishing Derby 8 a.m. - 2820 Gallagher Road, Dover Fishing/Education/Awards $5 per registered scout Contact: Molly Blanton @mblanton@ or call 813-872-2391

Location: Center Place For details, call 813-685-8888 or visit

Monday, October 31

Halloween 11 - A Real Haunted Art Exhibition Location: James McCabe Theatre, Valrico Time: 7-11 p.m. Artists include Dick Patterson, Ruth Soucek & designer Holly Chancey with a presentation by The Plant City Paranormal Team. The debut performance of the metal industrial band: Humanity’s Last Remains! Food & drinks provided by Tadpoles of Brandon and NO COVER CHARGE! (but a small donation to the theatre is greatly appreciated). Visit or call Scott King at 813-416-6839 for details.

Whether it be Cakes, Cupcakes or Cookies, our goal is to exceed your expectations!



september 2011

At PrimeCare Plant City, you get more than just medical attention; you get our undivided attention. With complete health care services, we offer everything from routine checkups to treatments of minor emergencies. Above all, we offer patients the kind of old-fashioned, personal service that's hard to find these days.

Stop by to take a tour of our office and meet the doctors & staff.


Dr. Sumita Chandran

Dr. Alejandro Diaz

813-717-9000 • 1706 South Alexander Street Plant City, Fl 33563 Regular Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8AM-5PM (Lunch 12 NOON - 1PM) SE HABLA ESPANOL

O’Neal & Sons Upholstery

Quality Craftsmanship Spanning 4 Generations

We specialize in everything from Automotive, Marine, Home Furniture and Commercial Applications AUTOMOTIVE

Seats and cushions • Carpets • Headliners • Door Panels Convertible tops • Vinyl tops • Tonneau Covers


Couches • Love seats • Chairs • Bar stools


Seats and cushions • Carpets • Bimini Tops • Clear plastic Windows T-Top canvas replacements • Console and boat covers


Restaurant Booths and Chairs • Bar Railings • Long Wall Seats Custom Golf Cart Seats • Pool and Spa Areas • Customized Seating

2303 James Redman Pkwy., Suite G • Plant City, FL 33563 Phone: (813)-752-0405 • FOCUS Magazine brandon september 2011


Serving Brandon area families since 1960. A long tradition of caring compassionate service.

STOWERS funeral home 401 West Brandon Blvd. Brandon, Fl 33511 • 813-689-1211

Herb S. Popple Funeral Director, General Manager

Today, we continue our long and proud history of community service as members of the Dignity Memorial national network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. Stowers Funeral Home, as a Dignity provider, specialize in offering exclusive Added Value BeneďŹ ts designed to provide a higher level of funeral care before, during, and after the service, all backed by a 100% Service Guarantee.

FOCUS Brandon 05-01  

FOCUS Magazine Brandon Edition Issue 05-01, September 2011

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