Page 1


January 2010




8 Women Share their Success Stories


Legacy A Tribute to the




january 2010

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08 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab 40,000m 6.7L 6 cyl AT $35,900

08 GMC Yukon 2WD 4dr 1500 SLT w/4SA 29,619m 5.3L 8 cyl 4 speed AT $30,700

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06 Chevy Colorado LT w/1LT 28,685m 2.8L 4 cyl AT $14,900

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06 Jeep Wrangler X 4.0L 6 cyl 34,166m Manual $17,500

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foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010



january 2010

foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010




PublisHEr Mike Floyd officE managEr Dede Floyd coPY EdiTor Lynne Warren EdiTorial dirEcTor Susan Riff adVErTising dirEcTor Brent Simmons


January 2010






Photo courtesy of Al Berry

ProducTion Anthony Sassano Tony Cartagena


8 Women Share their


Success Stories

salEs Sophia Hyde Tammy Simpson Sheryl Vitelli Wyatt Wheeler Robert Rogers Gene Brown Angela Brown

Legacy A Tribute to the

A Changing of the Guard


Lakeland sees first Mayoral change in 17 Years

focusTV Kara Manelli


disTribuTion Doug McGee Belva DeVane Brandon EdITIon

greater winter haven edition

PHoTograPHErs Suzanne Gallagher Billy Friend Lori Blaser



Jeff Potter

Meet The People Behind Stowers Funeral Homes

Mayor of Winter Haven


Lake County edition

T.J. Fish



Executive Director Mpo

Lake County Traffic Report

Also in this issue:

New Art Gallery Minnie Mouse Visits Headstart Clermont Knights

Cheerleaders Win Championship


FOCUS Plant City Lakeland Brandon Winter Haven Lake County South Tampa


MYFOCUSTV.COM Local Community Stories New Episode Every Wednesday





Licensed territories are available. If you are interested in owning your own Focus Magazine call Mike Floyd at 813-707-8783 ext. 26


january 2010



From a world class professional tennis event to Plant City’s 125th birthday celebration, we cover what’s been happening in Plant City. And don’t forget, the turning of the calendar for the new year brings the annual Jr. Royalty pageant and has us looking forward to the Strawberry Festival and the Strawberry Queen Scholarship pageant. Don’t miss any of the action. We have it all right here in the pages of Focus.

ProducTion inTErn Scott King

Sadye Gibbs-Martin was one of the most influential and outstanding citizens Plant City has ever had. Not only was she a dedicated educator, but she was committed to serving and improving the community she loved. Th is month we remember this iconic figure in Plant City’s history, as we look back at her life and accomplishments.

SPotlight intervieW

Sadye Gibbs-Martin was one of the most influential and outstanding citizens Plant City has ever had. Not only was she a dedicated educator, but she was committed to serving and improving the community she loved. Th is month we remember this iconic figure in Plant City’s history, as we look back at her life and accomplishments.

bUSineSS Profile

Everyone’s castle can use at little TLC sometimes. It might take the form of minor repairs, a new roof, or even an addition or remodel. Whatever your castle needs, Rhino General Contractors may be just what you’re looking for. And because they’re available 24/7, Rhino can handle those unexpected surprises too.

Dining Profile

New to Plant City, Nick’s Pizzeria & Wings is steadily building a following of loyal customers. Providing a good variety of quality food, excellent service and reasonable prices seems to be a winning combination. Stop in sometime and tell ‘em Focus sent you.

69 - home guide 86 - athletes of the Month 90 - Seniors of the Month 94 - al reuchel

conTribuTors Al Ruechel Bruce Rodwell Gil Gott Sherrie Mueller Jo-An Lusk Nate Davis Natalie Sweet Felix Haynes EdiTorial inTErns Tanya Albert Currie Dickerson


12 - talk of the town 34 - Did you know? 36 - Plant City Chamber of Commerce

sTaff WriTErs Cheryl Johnston Ruchelle Owens Carolyn Miller Brian West Joe Bowles Laura Estes Michelle Stark Phil Neary Derek Maul Sherri Robinson Mitchell Var num Debra Lucia

96 - Derek Maul 106 - event Calendar 108 - Just for fun

sTandards of accuracY The goal of the writers at FOCUS Magazine is to provide heart-war ming stories that are accurate from the start. Being human, however, we sometimes make mistakes. Please forgive us. So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and infor m it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 707-8783 or e-mail editorial@floydpublications. com. The staff will fix the error in a timely manner. Readers who wish to respond to an article – not correct facts – can do so by writing a letter to the editor. If you need any other type of assistance, then please view the directory for the appropriate department. The staff at FOCUS Magazine is committed to serving their consumers and customers to the fullest of abilities. You’re paying attention to our words. Let us pay attention to yours.

FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local Plant City businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Letters, Questions and Comments can be sent to us at 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.

published by:

floyd publications, Inc.

101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. Plant City, FL 33563 Phone 813.707.8783 • Fax 813.764.0990

foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


letter from

THE Publisher

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january 2010


We close our eyes and another year goes by... Thank God. The last year of the first decade of the new millennium was not an easy one for anyone. (Yeah, okay, I know, before the letters pour in, that technically this year, 2010, is the last year of the first decade of the new millennium. Let’s not get stuck on technicalities here.) There’s the economy, the ongoing wars and terror threats, the divisive nature of modern politics in America casting a pall over our country... Tough times, indeed. But there’s a bright horizon for eternal optimists like myself. The New Year means new opportunity, new chances, new adventures... Here’s to future days. After Thanksgiving I remember hearing so many people comment on how astonished they were it was already December, and 2009 had come to an end. Along with everyone else, I too can’t believe yet another year has gone by. However, I cannot even begin to put into words my excitement for 2010. It’s around this time of year that you hear people talking about their new years resolutions. I have decided to take it one step further than just a single-year resolution. I am a guru for motivation books and quotes. I have often heard people talk about a “dream board,” but never had an interest in making one myself. In my mind I know what I want to achieve in life. Recently, a close friend challenged me to take those thoughts and make them visual daily reminders, and it’s significantly helped me put my goals into perspective. If you’re not familiar with a dream board, it’s essentially a collage of images. I began by sitting down with my wife and making a list. It was a difficult task to slow down and actually think about what we want out of life as whole. Running our own business and raising two young boys, the day-to-day details consume our lives. When we were dating and first married these wishful thoughts were often topics of conversation. We’ve been married over 13 years and it’s amazing how much the answers to those questions change. The list has been the hardest part, but now we’re taking those goals and finding pictures that represent them. Beginning in 2010, every decision we make we’ll ask ourselves, “is this helping me get closer to any of my goals?” It’s much more than just a New Years Resolution. It’s a life resolution. In this issue we caught up with 2009 Strawberry Queen Lauren Der as her reign comes to an end. She talks about her amazing year and what lies ahead in her life. We also learned about the legacy of a true Plant City icon, Saydee Gibbs Martin. She served as city commissioner, mayor and played an instrumental role in bringing the Cincinnati Reds to Plant City. By reading this month’s feature you will be able to learn about her life, leadership and caring ways that made her a person that inspired so many. Happy New Year.

Mike floyd Publisher




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foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


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Claxton frUit Cake

Ann Shiflett and Pat Pogue with Henry Falcon, store manager at Sweetbay on Alexander Street in Plant City. Ann is president elect of the club and Pat is the club’s president. Claxton Fruit Cake is one of the Plant City Civilian Club’s fundraisers and Sweetbay supermarkets have been very supportive in selling the fruit cake and helping the club with this fundraiser. Emily Smith showing off her catch at the January 2009 Derby


ze rry Free e b w a r t e 65 The S | Episo d 10 0 2 , 7 anua ry 0

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14 year-olD getS a bUCk Jacob Goad 14 years old shot this 11 point, non-typical buck with a 17 1/2” spread, on Saturday, November 21, 2009 while hunting with his grandpa Robert Burleson outside Eastman, GA. Th is 11 point buck had a drop tine and a side kicker while scoring 137 Boone and Crocket.Approximately 20 minutes after shooting this buck Jacob also shot a 140 pound doe. How lucky can one boy be.


january 2010

fiShing Derby Set for JanUary 30 The City of Plant City Recreation & Parks Department, with assistance from Landshark Charters, T.A. Mahoney Co., Inc. and Stingray Chevrolet, will host the annual Winter Youth Fishing Derby on Saturday, January 30 at the pond off Albertson Drive behind the Randy L. Larson Softball Four-Plex. Derby information and registration form are available online at www. (search for fishing derby) or you can contact Recreation Program Director Deborah Haldane at or call the Planteen Recreation Center at 813-6594256.

CWkC yarD Sale

On Saturday, January 16th the Chris Welbon Karate Booster Club Yard Sale was held at the Dojo in Plant City. All money collected goes to sponsor the 2010 Tournament Team by helping with travel expenses and competition fees. The team will be traveling to Albany, New York for the AAU Karate Nationals in June.

local TalK of THE ToWn Plant City CoMMUnity Choir SeekS neW MeMberS The Plant City Community Choir (PCCC) desires to expand its membership. During the fi rst four weeks of each of its three seasons (Spring, Summer, Winter), PCCC invites singers of all musical backgrounds and abilities to join others interested in challenging and engaging choral work.

J. S. robinSon ChriStMaS Party The Plant City Civitan Club held their annual Christmas party on December 17, 2009 for the developmental disability wing at J S Robinson Elementary School on Turkey Creek Road. Th is year the classes had a total of 123 students. The Civitan Club gives the school money to buy a gift for each child and the teachers at the school purchase a gift and have each child’s name on it for Santa Claus to present to them. Th is is a very worthwhile project the club does each year. The Jr. Woman’s Club furnishes the refreshments for each student at the Christmas party. Both clubs have been participating in this party at Christmas time at J. S. Robinson School for over 31 years.

eagle SCoUt CoUrt of honor SCheDUleD for

garett Mattingly broWn Garett Mattingly Brown was presented his Eagle Scout Badge on January 9, 2010. Garett started his scouting career as a Tiger cub in 1998. He was with Pack 83 chartered by Riverview United Methodist Church. Garett earned all four Cub Scout ranks, Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos. Garett also earned the highest award in Cub Scouting, the Arrow of Light on February 25, 2003. Garett’s Eagle Scout project was to pressure wash, scrape, caulk, seal and repaint the exterior of the building of his Troop’s sponsor, the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 8108. He led a team of 26 adults and youth from not only his Troop, but also from his Youth Group sponsored by the Ruskin United Methodist Church during the repainting of the building. The Post Commander, Mr. Don Dupont, and the Post Liaison for the Troop, Mr. Ray Lint, were very pleased with the result of the project.

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Current members range in age from 16 to 82. Their choral experience levels and abilities to read music encompass beginners to the very experienced. Rehearsal discs are usually available for the performance repertoire. Singers who are at least 16 years old and are willing to commit to rehearsals and performances are asked to come to the fi rst rehearsal of the 2010 Spring Season at 7 p.m. on January 4, 2010, in the Choral Room of Plant City High School, 1 Raider Place (off S. Alexander Street), Plant City The repertoire for this Concert Season includes Broadway Show Tunes and Movie Themes. In addition to its Spring Concert (currently planned for March 25, 26, & 27, 2010), the PCCC is scheduled to sing at the Strawberry Festival on March 9th this year. A smaller Ensemble of singers also performs at local venues throughout the year. Rehearsals are each Monday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the PCHS Choral Room. Dues for this Concert Season are: Junior Members (high school students) $15.00, Senior Members (no longer in high school) $25.00. Dues cover the cost of purchasing music, advertising for the group, and associated performance expenses. The members of PCCC hope to see you at our fi rst 2010 rehearsal. Questions may be directed to PCCC Secretary Lark Underwood at 813-757-0212 or PLANTCITYCHOIR@ AOL.COM.

Jessica Vargas

Agency Owner

Automobile · Commercial · Motorcycle 1501 S. Alexander St. Suite 101 · Plant City, FL 33563

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foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


local focus

Happy Birthday Plant City City Marks 125 Years by Ly n n e Wa r r e n

Temperatures in the low 40s and a biting breeze couldn’t quell the enthusiasm of Plant City residents when it came time to celebrate the city’s 125th birthday. The afternoon of Sunday, January 10, the new parking lot at the corner of Collins Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd was filled with those ready to commemorate the event. The celebration also included the official dedication of the new Heart Of Plant City Mural, honoring the history of this wonderful town. Mayor Rick Lott welcomed attendees, and thanked everyone for braving the very atypical Plant City weather to join in reflecting on the city’s past and looking

forward toward its bright future. His welcome was followed by the presentation of the colors and pledge of allegiance, led by the Plant City High School ROTC Color Guard. Several local dignitaries spoke, but among them the most interesting had to be the father of Plant City, Henry B. Plant (portrayed by Mike Norton). Plant recalled how far the city has come since first incorporated in 1885. Former Mayor John Dicks recapped Plant City’s history, touching on significant events along the way. Finally, Sandee Sytsma introduced the mural committee and made the

L to R: Mrs. Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr. with daughters Rosemary and Laurie Madonia

Continued on page 16

Members of the class of 1969 donated the flag pole. L to R: Judy Johnson, Cathi Cooper, Silvia Dodson, Martha Beatty, Katha Ellis, Billy and Marsha Passmore, Darlene Jalbert and Starr Anderson.

The time capsule which was donated by Hopewell Funeral Home was buried Thursday January 14th and will be opened in 75 years.


january 2010

Family of Roy Parke: Sandee Systma, Peggy Parke, Cheryl Meeks, Colleen and Calley Fulton, Helen Parke and Kristen Hitchcock







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813-752-4171 foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


local continued from page 14 formal dedication of the mural. Part of the progress of the city, as mentioned by Dicks, includes the new parking lot itself. With the growth of downtown, additional parking was sorely needed. Things fell into place when the city was able to purchase the property to build the new parking area, and utilize part of the space for the small park adjacent to the mural. The thoughtful layout of the parking lot and park along with the mural and nice landscaping make it wonderful addition to downtown. The park area includes a fountain

dedicated to the memory or Mayor Sadye Gibbs Martin, a flag pole which was presented to the city by the Plant City High School Class of 1969, and will feature a buried time capsule. The capsule, generously donated by Hopewell Funeral Home, was on display at the birthday celebration event. The container is a small, triple lined, stainless steel vault, and is absolutely beautiful. The gleaming stainless cover of the vault was lettered by Rob Blankenship, maintenance supervisor at Hopewell. The capsule will contain the flag flown over the

birthday celebration, as well as a current newspaper, coins, photos of the city and its events, and more. Instructions at the site of burial will direct that it be opened in 75 years. The ceremony concluded with the singing of Happy Birthday, led by the Plant City Community Choir. Afterwards, attendees were treated to birthday cake, cupcakes,coffee and hot chocolate while browsing the new mural, and enjoying the park. The event was a rousing success, but might not have even happened had it not been for Sytsma. While

searching for a date to hold the dedication ceremony for the new mural, she found the date she was considering coincided with the city’s 125th birthday. An idea forming in her head, she approached Marion Smith of the Plant City Chamber of Commerce, who quickly agreed a birthday party for the city would be a great idea. From there, with the help of several civic clubs and many people from the community, the idea took shape and resulted in a very successful and memorable celebration.

A crowd of over 300 attended the event

L to R: Nancy Wright, Lena, Chase, Rick, Trent and Di Lott.


january 2010

The birthday cake donated by Publix

L to R: Mike, Dianne, Mayson, Chris and Angela Sparkman

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New Orthopedic Wing 301 N. Alexander St. Plant City, FL 33563 For a referral to one of our orthopedic surgeons, call 813-443-2018 foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


local focus

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january 2010

Photo by Emily Sexton

Mr. Bailey by C u r r i e D i c k e r s o n

The worth of a person’s existence does not derive its value from monetary gains, successful business ventures, or a year’s profit; the true value of a life’s purpose is found within the genuine kindness and goodwill produced as a response to God’s love. This is the realization that overcame Ron Bailey as he saw the life he once knew quickly disappear before his eyes, and a new, exciting outlook just begin to unfold. Growing up in the coalfields

of West Virginia, Bailey demonstrated entrepreneurship qualities early on, and joined the U.S. Army to help pave a way to a college education. He began by training with computers at the Pentagon, and moved on to Northern Virginia Community College to pursue a career in computer programming. Later on, Bailey attended American University while still studying computers, and excelled in this aspect of his life. In 1974, he began working at Strayer College

(now a university) in Washington D.C., teaching the skills he learned over time in computer information systems. Bailey’s success as a teacher led him to higher influences throughout the field of computer programming at the college, and he eventually became head of the entire computer department. In 1986, because of his hard work and dedication to the students, Bailey was promoted to vice president of Strayer College, and as a result was presented with many unfolding opportunities. Shortly after his promotion, the residing president of Strayer College invited Bailey to aid him in selling the interest he held in the school for a retirement profit. Instead of searching for potential buyers, Bailey took initiative and decided to buy the entirety of the controlling interest himself. The entity of Strayer College was now in his hands, and Bailey began envisioning a successful school where students could receive a solid education. His passion for learning transformed the core values of the college and increased the enrollment to over 12,000 students by 1996 when the school became a public university. While in Mexico in 2001, Bailey became very ill, and assessed his ailment as food poisoning. As the pain worsened, Bailey decided to fly to Tampa General Hospital and received a surprising diagnosis of a severe nervous disorder. The disorder paralyzed Bailey from his neck all the way down to his toes, and his physical body held him captive for three months at Tampa General. During those grueling three months in the hospital, Bailey meditated on his life, his accomplishments and his values, and realized all he had gained in the world held no merit. No matter the money or profit he

received, Bailey vowed to use the rest of his life to benefit others. “If I don’t die, I quit,” Bailey stated confidently. Bailey’s fervency for the importance of secondary education also fueled the formation of the Bailey Family Foundation in 1997. The purpose of the foundation is to provide means for students to complete their education by attending a college or university. Bailey shared, “Once you get an education, it can never be taken from you,” and stresses this fact to each student he comes in contact with. In response to his newfound convictions, Bailey decided to fully devote his time to the Bailey Family Foundation and help students reach their dream of receiving a college degree. He sold his entire interest in Strayer University in 2002, moved to Tampa, and bought his dream cattle ranch in Plant City. The foundation now donates over $2.5 million each year for scholarships to students from over 400 schools around Pinellas, Polk and Hillsborough counties. The next time you drive by the Red Barn Ranch on Thonotosassa Road, remember its significance by not only its unique appearance, but by its owner; a man who dedicates his time to fulfilling dreams for hundreds of students each year. After throwing away his former life, Bailey now defines his significance by the purpose that Christ has given him, saying “I am a much better person, and have a much better life.” Keeping the promise he made during those three difficult months, Bailey has stood strong on his commitment to further every student’s quest for an education.



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local focus

Florida Strawberry FestivalÂŽ

Cameras flashed as one-hundred and twenty proud families gazed at the beautiful girls in their life, and waited in anticipation for the annual Junior Royalty Pageant to begin. The pageant took place Sat., Jan. 19 at the Strawberry Festival Expo Hall, and proved to be a worthy event for such a substantial building. Forty-five minutes before the debut began, the line of people waiting to relieve themselves from the cold air extended past the length of the entire building. Each

family, friend, and neighbor attended to support every lovely young lady who graced the stage, and all stood in amazement on how tough the judges decision would be in the end. To the audience, all the girls were a picture of pure beauty, and each deserved a crown of praise for displaying the confidence of entering a pageant, for not all are blessed with such boldness. So, no matter what placing any of EPISODE the contestants received, the night turned out to be a true success, and the Strawberry Festival will definitely benefit from having the winners of this year’s Junior Royalty help make the celebration even sweeter.



Photo by: Billy Friend Photography

Photo by: Billy Friend Photography

Junior Royalty by C U r r i e D i C k e r S o n

Court: Charli Jervis, Court: Nikki Honaker, First Maid: Olivia Higgins, Queen: Kelsey Brown, Court: Madison Astin


Court: Hailey Blount, First Maid: Carly Knox, Queen: Kaylan Kelly, Court: Cassidy English, Court: Caitlyn Kent.



Photo by: Billy Friend Photography

Photo by: Billy Friend Photography

Court: Kendall Gaudens, Court: Imecia Holt, Queen: Faith Nagy, First Maid: Sarah Ardrey, Court: Alyssa Grimes.


january 2010

Court: Emma Futch, First Maid: Gracie Hinton, Queen: Madison Hodge, Court: Virginia Wallnofer, Court: Giselle Gutierrez.

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foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


Treat Your Valentine

2009 FOCUS

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january 2010


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1009 W. Baker St. Plant City, FL 33563 813-759-1232 foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


local focus

2nd Annual Zeno/Cannon Tennis Challenge S to r y by S t e v e n R i c h a r ds o n

It was a cool breezy December afternoon when the world’s #1 ranked men’s doubles players captivated those in attendance at the Zeno/ Cannon Tennis Challenge 2. Bob and Mike Bryan highlighted the second annual Zeno/Cannon Tennis Challenge held at Mayor Rick and Di Lott’s residence. Event organizer Rhett Rollyson of Ace Sports Group markets the event as a chance “to see world-class tennis in your backyard without having to go to a major sporting arena.” The event literally is a backyard exhibition, it just happens to feature the world’s best tennis players. Besides the chance to see great tennis, the proceeds benefit a worthy charity. The Challenge 2 benefited the Larry King Cardiac Foundation.


january 2010

Mayor Lott expressed his hope that through the foundation, “lives in our community would be changed.” The annual event is a fundraiser that supports exceptional charities and allows guests the opportunity to interact with professional tennis players in an intimate setting. The Bryan brothers have been traveling over the past several weeks playing exhibition matches across the United States; including Baltimore, Atlanta, Nashville and, of course, Plant City. The brothers recently wrapped up their professional season by clinching the World Tour for the third time and ending their season as the world’s best for the fifth time. The Bryan brothers have represented the United States in the Davis Cup and

Bob (right) and Mike (left) Bryan getting ready for their match against the Black Mambas. Photo by Steven Richardson

captured doubles titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. In addition, they also perform regular band gigs. As Bob Bryan said, “Tennis pays the bills and the music makes more bills.” Their new album, Let it Rip, is currently available on iTunes. Although the Bryans saved their musical performance for another day, their performance on the court reflected their #1 ranking. The Zeno/Cannon Tennis Challenge is not your typical exhibition match, mainly in that it is held at a private residence. Bob Bryan acknowledged that “There probably isn’t too much tennis coming through Plant City, but it’s good to expose people to the highest level of tennis and to hopefully inspire the kids.” The Bryan brothers casually walked around and interacted with the fans throughout the afternoon. Whether it was posing for pictures or signing autographs, the Bryans did not

disappoint on or off the court. The Bryans’ first match against the Black Mambas was exciting, even with the Bryans convincing victory. The main event featured the Bryan Brothers v. Goran Dragicevic and Mirko Pehar. It was a revenge match for the Bryan Brothers. Dragicevic defeated the brothers the last time they met. The Bryans pulled out a convincing victory in the 6-2, 6-Love win. It was very clear why the brothers hold the world’s top ranking. The laid-back setting allowed the players to have crowd interactions during play, in which the players add their own commentary. In addition to the Bryan brothers, the event also featured past Women’s Tennis Association professionals in several Pro-Am matches. Although tennis was the main attraction, the Zeno/Cannon Tennis Challenge had something for everyone. The event was catered by

Plant City’s own favorite Johnson’s Barbeque and included a silent auction of sports memorabilia, probably making fantastic Christmas presents for some. When the kids weren’t watching tennis, there were plenty of other activities from football to sand volleyball to keep them entertained. After all the excitement of the Zeno/Cannon Tennis Challenge 2, the anticipation is already building for next year. If you or family members are tennis fans, you don’t want to miss this. It is a once in a lifetime chance to rub shoulders with some tennis greats in a very personal backyard setting. Keep an eye out for next year; make sure EPISODE to visit www. AceSportsGroup. com for more information.


Call it an ace! Bob Bryan shows the crowd why the brothers are #1. Photo by Steven Richardson

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#25 Emily Funk foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


local focus

PCHS Football Banquet by k r y S t e l k n o W l e S

In December, Plant City High School had their end-of-year football banquet to celebrate their newfound team spirit. The Parent’s Club helped organize the banquet because they wanted to show the football team that all the parents are proud of their hard work. The coaches and parents encourage and support the team’s hard work in sports as well as in academics. Their overall goal is to create a positive entourage around their teens to promote the education of well-rounded individuals that will grow up to be productive members of society. Parent’s Club chairwoman Lynn Hart said that all year long the committee had fundraisers to help support trips to different colleges and camps to expose the players to new experiences. The football team would engage in fundraising during the off-season to enable them to concentrate only in practice during the football season. “We did a series of car washes, a golf tournament, sold pizza and more to raise the funds to give the players the opportunity to experience the college football environment,” said

Hart. She said this year the team is highly dedicated to becoming a great football team and will even practice during the off-season. Head coach Jason Strunk began coaching the Plant City High football team about a year ago. He said his main goal was to reestablish commitment and discipline. Strunk has about 14 years of experience with coaching and pushing his players to achieve their goals on the field and in the classroom. Strunk said the Raiders have a lot of talent, and with the right training, there is significant potential. “The team learned how to play together and as a team,” Strunk said. He also said that the traveling they did this summer gave the team great exposure to different schools and coaches. Athletic director Traci Durrance said the football team has come a long way since Strunk started coaching. She said the road trips the team made during the summer brought them closer and created friendships. Durrance said the mothers of the players would provide the team with food before each game to make sure all the players

were well fed. “There was a group of mothers who worked year-round and behind the scenes to feed the kids,” said Durrance. She said head coach Strunk is dedicated to inspiring the players and contacting various colleges to promote recruitment. Charlie Hannah, guest speaker at the banquet and former football player, said what makes a team successful is the commitment to working hard. Hannah also said that respecting good opponents makes a player better and work harder to defeat them. “The lesson is

perseverance, when you get knocked down you need to get up one more time,” said Hannah. The Raider football banquet had more than 300 guests ranging from football players and coaches to the proud family members of the team. Since the arrival of Strunk, parents and faculty of PCHS say the team has changed in a positive manner and has won more games than in previous years. “We are proud of all the players EPISODE and hope they all achieve their professional goals,” said Durrance.


Photo by Krystel Knowles

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foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


local artist of the month

Finding The Desire To Create Outside of One’s Box Local Artist Takes on New Endeavors by H e at h e r D av i s

Then you should consider joining the Focus Magazine

Within every artist, to some extent, there lies an artist waiting to get out, or be born. A form of expression or desire that lies in wait ready to be expressed in some shape or creation. When meeting artist Kim Miller, she will tell you that she has always been an artist. From the time she was a small child, Mrs. Miller garnered much attention in her artistic endeavors. As time went on, she pursued her artistic talents by obtaining an art degree from the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale where she majored in commercial art and fashion design. Upon graduation, Mrs. Miller immediately found employment with an advertising agency as well as with Columbia Pictures. She eventually moved in another direction and began to pursue life as a freelance artist. Upon viewing Mrs. Miller’s work, it is easy to tell she is a classicallytrained artist with attention for fine detail. But even with her artistic background and training that has

encompassed several decades, she still feels she has more to learn - or perhaps unlearn. As Mrs. Miller states, she is “ready to get out of her box.” With the help of an art instructor, she is finding inspiration to create in a whole new way in order to discover what is her own unique and personal style. As a member of the East Hillsborough Art Guild and the Brandon Art League, as well as an artist involved in what was formerly known as the Artist Lofts, she now has become one of the newest members of the Art Lounge Gallery located in downtown Plant City. Miller feels excited to be a part of a burgeoning group of artists where she hopes to find fellow camaraderie, inspiration and stimulation from other artists. In addition to creating art, Miller is currently working as a substitute teacher and pursuing a degree in Art Education with an eye toward Florida Southern University.

family. We have immediate openings in our Plant City, Brandon, Winter Haven and Lakeland markets. We are looking for individuals who are DRIVEN, SELF MOTIVATED, HONEST, CUSTOMER SERVICE MINDED, HAVE GREAT COMMUNICATION SKILLS, AND ABOVE ALL ARE COMMITTED. If any of these describes you, contact us for an interview at 813-707-8783. Ask for Brent Simmons.

Kim Miller, an artist who has always been an artist, is finding out firsthand that one can always be reborn and learn to create in a whole new way. Photo by Heather Davis


january 2010

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foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


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january 2010

Plant City Noon Rotary Club

Become a fan of Plant City Rotary on Facebook!

(Log onto your Facebook and type “Plant City Rotary Club” into your search)

Happy New Year from Plant City Rotary

Board Members Officers: President Jimmy Carapezza President-elect Jim Scott Secretary Keith Smith Treasurer Jim Scott

Directors: Dennis Digamon Michael Watkins Michael Arndt Jon Poppell Bill Wicker Nate Kilton Ben Cook Ray Delfino Billy Keel

foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010



Elijah Lutrell Bing – Educator and Leader S u b m i t t e d by p l a n t c i t y p h o to a r c h i v e s

The story of Elijah Lutrell Bing, most often referred to as “E. L.”, is a truly amazing story of focus, dedication, and determination. Born about 1921 into a segregated society, Bing worked diligently to pursue his education. His mother was a school teacher and his father owned restaurant and dry cleaning businesses, and both strongly encouraged Elijah and his two sisters to continue their education. In Plant City, black children had no school to attend after sixth grade. E.L. Bing’s parents sent their children to an aunt’s house in Jacksonville to attend junior high. They taught him that the way to combat racism and injustice was through education and hard work. They told him that the road to failure is to hide behind those injustices and racism. E.L. completed junior high, moved back to Plant City, where there was no high school for blacks yet. He then completed high school, commuting daily to Lakeland. After high school, Bing served in the military for four years during WWII, and then returned home to continue his education. He attended Florida A&M and received his degree in Biology. Using the “Out of State Aid” bill passed by the Florida State Legislature in 1947, Bing attended Columbia University, in New York City, and earned a master’s degree in education. He again returned to Plant City, where he committed himself to working for the betterment of the community. He accepted the position of principal of the Glover School, a school founded by the Bealsville community in the late 1800s


january 2010

and finally constructed in 1933. The William Glover School served the black community well until 1972. Midway Academy was constructed in Plant City in the 1920s to serve the City’s black community with grades 1 through 6. Midway Academy slowly grew, adding grades up to 12, and then split into Lincoln Elementary and Marshall High School. Five years after E.L. Bing became principal at Glover, he became principal at the new Marshall High School; the new building was constructed in 1958. Bing’s outstanding tenure at Marshall High School is attested to by numerous of his former students. Sadye Gibbs Martin, the first female black City Commissioner and later Mayor, said “he was a role model and an inspiration to all of us.” Martin was encouraged by Bing to continue her education, received her master’s degree, and served as principal at Knight Elementary and other positions in the school district. In 1967, Bing was appointed Director of Federal Projects for the Hillsborough County School District, and later helped draft a landmark school desegregation plan. He became the first black assistant school superintendent. He was known as one of the best and most innovative educators – one who raised standards for students and teachers alike, challenging them to excellence. Near the end of his remarkable career, E.L. Bing was appointed to the Hillsborough County Commission by then Governor Bob Graham, and he served with distinction. In 1990, the school board named a school after him – the E.L. Bing Elementary School, in Tampa. In 2006 one of Bing’s former students wrote a tribute to “Mr. E.L. Bing – Educator and Leader.” Bill Thomas is a forensic specialist for the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and serves on the Advisory Council of the Plant City Photo Archives. Here is his tribute. A first person narrative by Photo Archives Advisory Council Member Bill Thomas as told to the Editor. Attending Marshall High School was both an educational and cultural experience. My introduction to Mr. E.L. Bing began when I entered

Marshall High. Mr. Bing was the principal at Marshall High School and thus was responsible for the education of all who attended. As a young seventh-grader, I did not realize, nor could I have known the effect that this experience would have on my life as well as that of my fellow schoolmates. I use the term schoolmates because, although you were a part of a particular graduating class, you attended Marshall High with students who were up to six years older and/or years younger, thus developing broad relationships which would have a life-long effect on your future. Mr. Bing was officially principal administrator of Marshall High but, because education was viewed as the vehicle to prosperity, Mr. Bing, “Educator and Leader”, was more important than I could have imagined. As I look back now, I truly realize the difficulties Mr. Bing faced. His leadership ability in bringing together a faculty of true professionals – teachers, librarians, administrative staff, culinary staff, secretaries, custodians, etc., was magnificent. It was a feat that I did not come to appreciate until I was an adult responsible for my own life and well being. I can only imagine the difficulties he faced in the Jim Crow-segregated South, acquiring the essentials such as books, supplies, equipment, and the funding necessary to provide a positive and fruitful educational experience for his students – especially when you consider that the books and most equipment available were used handdowns from Plant City High School and Tomlin Junior High. In 1967 I graduated Marshall High School and attended BethuneCookman College in Daytona Beach. I entered the U.S. Army in 1969, and received an Honorable Discharge after a successful 24-year career, which included tours of duty in Vietnam, Central and South America, Europe and assignments across the United States. It was only after I entered the U.S. Army that I realized the education I received at Marshall was second to none. I remember well that the curriculum included Mathematics (Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry), Science (General Science, Biology, and Chemistry), Social Studies, History (U.S. and World), Economics, World Literature,

Foreign Languages, and Typing. And there was Physical Education (and an exposure to ballroom and square dancing, and bowling), Home Economics, Arts and Crafts, Mechanical/Industrial Shop, and all other extra-curricular activities needed to produce a well-rounded educational environment. At Marshall, students were grouped according to a color code – Green, Blue, or Red. Although I am not sure what criteria Mr. Bing used to determine which students would be in which group, I believe it was based on end-of-the-year academic test scores. Considered to be a good student, I found myself in the Green group, which by today’s definition would be College Preparatory. This in itself is a testimony that Mr. Bing’s educational philosophy was well before its time. I never fully applied myself nor maximized my academic potential while at Marshall; nonetheless, the simple exposure to Mr. Bing’s educational system prepared me for experiences and achievements beyond the goals I had set at graduation. My typing skills continue to benefit me today, particularly in my ability to navigate the computer keyboard with above average speed and accuracy. While in the Army, I completed my Criminology/Psychology degree, and competed for and was accepted in the 2-year Forensic Science Training Program, specializing in Latent Print Examination. I was one of only 14 in the Department of Defense. Not bad for a black kid from Marshall High – especially when you consider that there were nearly 2 million soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors in the armed forces. Over the years I have asked myself many times what made it possible, and the answer continues to be Mr. Bing and Marshall High School. I credit much of my own success over the years to Mr. E.L. Bing’s educational philosophy as I experienced it in those years at Marshall High School. And the reason for Mr. Bing’s overall success as a principal and educator was his ability to select the best and the most dedicated teachers. Mr. Bing’s ability to recruit teachers who demanded your best, and who gave their best, was responsible for creating the most well-rounded educational experience a student of any color could have received.

Here are some of the reasons for my conclusions. All students were required to attend six classes each six-week period. Some students could select up to three electives; however, the Green group (College Preparatory) continually had five of the six classes designated as part of a curriculum established by Mr. Bing. During our junior year we had no electives – we were told that Economics would be our elective, just as we had elected to take Typing, Spanish, and other non-traditional classes. (In conversations with graduates of other high schools I discovered that not only were they not required to take Typing, but they could not even take it if they desired to – there were no typewriters available.) One day during my junior year, while in Economics class, my classmates and I felt the teacher unfairly punished a student. We took it upon ourselves to right a grave wrong that we felt had been perpetrated against one of our classmates. We boycotted the class, including even the students whose personalities were docile. Mr. Bing was summoned back to Marshall, interrupting a meeting he was attending. Although not happy with our action, Mr. Bing applauded our togetherness and our willingness to stand up for what we thought was right. There were many great teachers and other faculty members who played a role in the Marshall experience, but it was Mr. Bing’s exceptional education expectations, his leadership skills, his ability to recruit and motivate the faculty he needed to accomplish his goals, and his steadfastness as Leader in not allowing skin color to be an excuse for lack of achievement that made this outstanding educational environment possible.

Mr. Bing’s tenure as principal at Marshall High School produced a multitude of professionals – doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, business owners, pilots, outstanding military service men and women, and many white collar and blue collar professionals. All of these have made positive contributions not only to their communities, but also to their country, and to the world. In 1965, Mr. Bing used education to break color barriers. He was instrumental in getting a student employed as a stock clerk at Winn Dixie Supermarket, and a former student hired as a clerk at the U.S. Post Office in Plant City. By today’s standards that sounds small, but in 1965, that was monumental. Mr. Bing was also instrumental in getting students from Marshall High involved in an experimental criminal justice program whereby students sat on juvenile juries in the Hillsborough County Court system to hear cases involving their peers and to make recommendations to the judges about appropriate punishments. Recently, the Haines Street Recreation Center, as it was first known, (and now the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Recreation Center), celebrated 49 years of service to the children of Plant City. This facility was made possible through Mr. Bing’s leadership in community affairs. Mr. Bing’s tenure as principal at Marshall High ended in 1967, the year of my graduation, when he was appointed Director of Federal Projects for the county school district. His legacy, that of providing the best education possible, will live for generations to come.


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813-752-8994 foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010



Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce by B r uc e R o dw e l l

The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce CHRISTMAS TREE CONTEST was a great success. More than 100 people visited the 20 businesses that participated in this project. The winner of the $150 Visa gift card was Suzy Kozicki. Congratulations Suzy! Trophies were awarded to the following businesses for the best decorated tree:

1st place: Sunshine State Federal Savings & Loan Association

2nd place: United Food Bank of Plant City

3rd place: Mango Family Cleaners Congratulations to the winners of the trophies. When next Christmas rolls around, be sure to watch for the announcement of this contest. It is great fun and an opportunity to visit the participating businesses and get acquainted. ********** This is the first Chamber page of the New Year. Get out your calendars and make notations of the various Chamber


january 2010

events that have been planned for 2010: Bike Fest - 1st Saturday of every month 5-9 pm (Anniversary Show in October) Strawberry Classic Car Show - 3rd Saturday of every month 4-9 pm (Anniversary Show in April) Contact Breakfast at Red Rose Inn - 2nd Wednesday of each month (except July) 7:30 am January 28th - Chamber Chairman’s Banquet - Red Rose Inn April 16th - Children’s Classic Golf Tournament at Walden Lake Golf & Country Club May 6th - Community Business Expo, Trinkle Center, HCC, 3-6 pm May 15th - Margarita Ball November 4th - Economic Development Council Business Awards Banquet at Red Rose Inn 6-9 pm November 20th - Eighth Annual PIG JAM at Randy Larson Four-Plex 10 am -6 pm.

November 18 Holiday Inn Express, 2102 North Park Road ********** Congratulations to Chamber member, SOUTH FLORIDA BAPTIST HOSPITAL, on being named a primary stroke center by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

In addition to all of the events listed, each month a Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce member hosts a ‘BUSINESS AFTER HOURS’. These are for Chamber members and invited guests. These events starts at 5:15 and continue until 7 pm. Listed

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability. Elise Zahn, M.D., Medical Director of SFBH Emergency Department stated, “If you’re having any of the stroke warning signs, you want to know that you are going to a facility that can help you as quickly as possible.” Plant City and Hillsborough County Emergency Medical Services have added SFBH to their list of receiving hospitals for acute stroke patients. “Because a stroke patient needs to be treated within three hours of first exhibiting symptoms, it is vitally important that this resource is available on a community level,” Dr. Zahn added. ********** The VETERANS’ MONUMENT COMMITTEE is offering engraved memorial bricks that will be placed in the gathering area between the gazebo and the 14-foot Freedom Rising bronze and granite monument at Courier Field.

Below is the calendar for 2010: January 21 Focus Magazine, 101 East J Arden Mays Blvd. February 18 Fairfield Inn, 4307 Sterling Commerce Drive March 18 Mango Cleaners, 2404 James L. Redman Parkway April 15 Red Rose Inn & Suites, 2011 North Wheeler Street May 20 Chili’s, 3001 James L. Redman Parkway June 17 Your Green Team, 902 West Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. July 15 D.R. Horton, 1786 Ashentree Drive August 26 Applebee’s, 1204 Townsgate Court September 16 Granite & Marble Gallery, 1103 Goldfinch Drive October 21 Crawford-Hill Interior Designs, 1407 East Baker Street

Steve Nierman, COO of the hospital stated, “The key to high-quality stroke care is immediate diagnosis and evidencebased treatment, which is why it’s so important that community hospitals like ours have focused stroke-care programs.” He went on to say “Receiving the Primary Stroke Center designation is a testament to South Florida Baptist Hospital’s commitment to saving lives and improving outcomes. I’m very proud of our team for their hard work and dedication to achieve this important designation.”

These memorial bricks are for all Veterans of the USA Military Services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard. A great way to honor that military person.

Order forms for the Memorial Bricks are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, 106 North Evers Street, Plant City.

********** HERE ARE SOME DATES FOR YOUR CALENDAR: January 23 - Plant City Photo Archives Fourth Annual Progressive Tea, Tour of Homes & Hat Contest. Takes place from 11 am to 2 pm. For information call 813-754-1578. January 28 - Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce 28th Annual Chairman’s Banquet at the Red Rose Inn & Suites. Starts at 6:30 pm. Call the Chamber office at 813-754-3707 to reserve your seat. January 30 - Strawberry Ball at the Festival grounds Expo building. Starts at 6:30 pm February 1 - Plant City Friends of Scounting 2nd annual dinner event at the Trinkle Center, Hillsborough Community College. Contact Jennifer Thomason for more information at 813-872-2691, ext. 117. February 4 - Florida State Fair opens February 4 - Strawberry Festival Fashion Show at Expo building, noon -2 pm. Call 813-752-9194 for tickets and information. February 6 - Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Pageant at Expo building February 17 - Plant City Citizen of the Year luncheon at the Red Rose Inn & Suites SUPPORT YOUR GREATER PLANT CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MEMBERS. THEY ARE BUILDING A BETTER COMMUNITY FOR ALL OF US.

local chamber column

Chamber, HCC Plant City, and Rotary Team Up to Combat

“Jobless Recovery” by F e l i x H ay n e s

Plant City and Hillsborough County are mired in a lengthening recession. Although some economic indicators such as the stock market suggest that the corner has been turned, doubledigit unemployment numbers continue to be a drag on the economy. Increasingly, economists are speaking of a “jobless recovery,” with some indicators continuing to improve while unemployment remains at double digit levels. Well aware of the importance of job creation to a permanent defeat of the recession, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough Community College Plant City Campus and the Plant City Rotary Club are teaming up to offer an alternative to an unsatisfactory “jobless recovery.” The alternative is to help laid-off workers who have dreamed of starting their own business but who never thought it was the right time. Many workers have acquired a skill set such as welding, day care, cosmetology, or bookkeeping, that could put them on the road to achieve the freedom of becoming a small business owner. They are missing the business management skill set—marketing, business law, accounting and writing a business plan. In addition to creating a job for one person, there is a good chance that the new business will

create more jobs. Historically, 60 to 80 percent of new jobs created annually in the United States are developed by small businesses. Recognizing the benefits of supporting the growth of small business in our community, our Rotary Club started the ball rolling with a $30,000 donation to the HCC Plant City Campus to start a new business-related program. This triggered the creation of a blue-ribbon advisory committee to assist in the creation of a new business program. David Miller, Sherrie Mueller, Lewis Marshall, Jim Scott, Randy Hyman, Nate Kilton, J. C. Clinard, Bruce Rodwell, Gil Gott, and Pat Thurmond have been instrumental in the development of this program. The advisory committee has worked with a group of six or seven HCC business faculty members to hone a two-semester, 25-credit college credit certificate in Business Development and Entrepreneurship. The program includes courses in Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Computers and Technology, Spreadsheet Applications, Business Communications and Technology, Principles of Marketing, Introduction to Financial Accounting, Business Law, Small Business Management, and International Business Practice. With an approved program and

a good advisory committee, the next step was to tie the program to the business community. The Plant City Chamber and the college have agreed to offer a series of Lunch and Learn seminars. These quarterly offerings are set to begin on January 28 at the Trinkle Center. Lunch will be provided, and a small donation will be requested at the door to cover the cost of the lunch. The College and the Chamber also plan to partner in the

Chamber’s Annual Small Business of the Year Award. Bestowed in November every year on an outstanding small business, the College will sponsor this award and use it to highlight the new Business Development program. Additional ties between the Chamber and the college are under discussion.

Ribbon Cuttings

Ribbon Cutting for Plant City Child Abuse Council Office

Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening for SunnyRidge Farm

foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


You see them in T.V. commercials and in magazines! NATE KILTON R EALTOR®

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Additional Properties Available:

 Three Residential Lots in Historic District of Plant City


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2009 FOCUS

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Dan Lariscy Ins Agcy Inc Dan Lariscy 1605 S Alexander Street, Suite 103 Plant City, FL 33563 Bus: 813-752-7202® Proud sponsor of the State Farm Safety Patrol on the Florida Turnpike.

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State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company • Bloomington, IL

foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010



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Hillsborough Community College

Plant City Campus

HCC offers Associate Degrees for University Transfer as well as Associate in Science and Applied Science Degrees. Concentrations in: • Environmental Science • Veterinary Technology • Internet Services Technology • Nursing • Irrigation and Pest Management Certificates • Earn a University of Florida BS Degree in Environmental Horticulture, Natural Resource Conservation and Agricultural Education and Geomatics (Surveying) at the Plant City Campus • Apprenticeship: Plumbing, Pipefitting, HVAC, and Sprinklefitting • Construction Management

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foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


A Tribute To

The Legacy of


GIBBS-MARTIN By Elizabeth Edwards

How can it be possible to miss someone you have never even met? Spend 15 minutes with anyone who knew Sadye Pearl Gibbs-Martin, and you will understand this predicament. While Sadye was a woman with a list of accomplishments a mile long, her impressive resume is hardly what people most often referr to when commemorating her. Sadye is remembered today by her closest friends and relatives as a compassionate and charismatic


january 2010

A Tribute to the Legacy of Sadye Gibbs-Martin

foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


Jewelry & Pawn by El Mar

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january 2010

A Tribute To The Legacy Of Sadie Gibbs-Martin

woman with a smile that could electrify a room, a woman who always put the care of others before her own, a woman who revolutionized a little city full of big hearts. Sadye Martin was a pioneer no matter which way you spin it, and her memory will forever live within the many she touched. A Plant City girl from birth, Sadye’s love for her community shone bright in every position she undertook. Even as a beautician in her earliest days, she knew every client by name and treated them as if they were family. She found her true calling in the field of education, and pursued a career in the vocation for nearly 40 years after graduating from BethuneCookman College with a Bachelor of Science degree and then furthering her own education even more by receiving her Master of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. At the time, African Americans were not frequently encouraged to pursue higher education, but Sadye persevered in the face of adversity. Sadye was born to be the exception to the rule. Sadye began her ascent into the education profession as the education specialist at Springhead Elementary School. She later took over the position of principal at Gary Elementary in Tampa. Her final position before retiring from the Hillsborough County school system was as principal of Knights Elementary School, a position she held for 14 years. Sadye served as a member of both the Boys and Girls Advisory

Board of Plant City and the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, where she furthered her efforts towards improving the education system overall. However, it is not the actual titles she held that she is most remembered for as an educator – it is the kindness and attentiveness she demonstrated each day towards her colleagues and, most importantly, the children. “She knew every single child by name,” stated Valerie DeArmond, a prior PTA member at Knights Elementary. “If a kid came in without anything, whether it was lunch or a jacket, she would go straight out and buy it for them with her own money. That’s the Sadye we all knew and loved.” Valerie then reminisced of a teacher appreciation party held at her own ranch, where Sadye was “dressed to the nines, as usual” in a Sunday dress and high heels. But Sadye was never afraid of getting a little dirty. She played with the children all day and even got up on a horse, stilettos and all, and rode around the stretch of land. Sadye was the exception to the rule. After leaving Knights, Sadye dedicated the rest of her life to revolutionizing and revitalizing Plant City. She served as a City Commissioner for a total of 15 years, between the years of 1982-1992 and 1994-1999. Sadye dedicated the majority of her efforts toward restoring living conditions in the community, redeveloping the education system to provide the best resources available to the city’s youth, and making the presence of foCUS Magazine Plant City JANUARY 2010


A Tribute to the Legacy of Sadye Gibbs-Martin

A Tribute To The Legacy Of Sadye Gibbs-Martin Florida’s municipal governments known and respected. She was then elected mayor of Plant City for five terms and served as vice-mayor for four terms, making her the fi rst African American female mayor in the entire state of Florida, as well as in Hillsborough County and Plant City specifically. Th is was an unheard of feat at the time that paved the way for both minorities and females to take on prominent leadership positions within the political system. Once again, Sadye was the exception to the rule. Sadye’s list of contributions to organizations and activities outside of her specific job titles is enough to make any college dean proud. For many years, she served on the Board of Directors of the Florida League of Cities, a group formed in 1922 with aspirations to serve as the voice of the local selfgovernments and to aid Florida’s municipalities as a whole. She was elected president of the organization in 1991, making her the fi rst African American female president to date. She remained an advocate of the same cause while serving as the fi rst African American president of the Ridge League of Cities, another organization with the purpose of servicing municipalities and promoting local bureaucracy in and around the Plant City area. Sadye continued to take Plant City by storm when she was elected to become the fi rst African American female on the Strawberry Festival Board of Directors and served as Associate Director, a title she proudly held and contributed to for years. Sadye also has a list of honors and awards to match, including Plant City’s Citizen of the Year award, Plant City’s Business and Professional Women’s Woman of the Year award, the Suncoast League of Municipalities Outstanding Government Service award and the Nettie Berry Draughon Municipal Officer of the Year award. If valedictorians could be appointed after college, Sadye Martin would again have been the exception to the rule. Former City Manager Nettie Berry Draughon and Sadye were the best of friends, fondly remembered as “salt and pepper” by those that knew the dynamic duo. Nettie’s brother Al Berry, a member of the Plant City Board of Adjustments, knew Sadye very well and recalls what “a phenomenal leader” she was. “Sadye’s smile is what I miss the most,” Al recalls with a gleam in his eye. “One little-known secret is that Nettie and Sadye were fisherman, they loved to fish. Both of them had collapsible deacon poles in their cars. A lot of times around 5 o’clock after City Hall was closed, Sadye would come get Nettie and they’d go out to the phosphate pits and go fishing,” Al reminisced with a grin. Yet again, Sadye proved to be the exception to the rule. Another close friend of Sadye’s was Marge Schott, owner of the Cincinnati Reds from 1984-1999. Marge was another

woman of fi rsts, setting precedence as the fi rst woman to purchase a baseball team as opposed to acquiring through inheritance. Sadye, Marge and Nettie spent many carefree days together at opening ceremonies and ballgames, but the women were just as committed to bettering their community as they were to having fun. Th rough a joint collaboration of hard work, confidence and support for each other, these exceptional women brought the major league team to Plant City and played vital roles in achieving the development of the Reds spring training stadium, which served as a home away from home for the Reds from 1987-1996. Without a doubt, these three women were exceptions to the rule. “Sadye always worried about everyone else, never about Sadye,” stated Professor Rudy “Danny” Rogers. While many in the community may remember Sadye most for her professional persona, Rudy Rogers will always remember Sadye as his caretaker. A religious woman with strong convictions about life, love and the pursuit of happiness, Sadye inspired her son in countless ways. “What I took away from her most was education. Not even just to become an educator, but to continue to learn every single day. I am a stickler for developing your cognitive process, being astute of what’s going on. Sadye Martin gave me life and gave me a chance to get away.” Sadye passed away in 1999 of colon cancer, which her son believes could have been prevented had she spent time worrying about her own well-being as opposed to always putting others fi rst. “If I could ask her one question today, it would be… why didn’t you get regular physicals,” Rudy Rogers said somberly. However, he knows that her legacy will forever be remembered through her many selfless acts within the community. In addition, the City Commissioners of Plant City designated the City Commission meeting room as the “Sadye Gibbs-Martin Auditorium” as a small token of their appreciation for her many years of public and community service. In the eyes of those who knew and loved her, Sadye Martin was a plethora of things. She was an angel, a caretaker, a hero, a leader, a pioneer and a visionary. A renaissance woman in every sense of the word, to say the least. She wanted the best for everyone around her, and acted the part for her entire life. Sadye Gibbs-Martin is a name that won’t soon be forgotten in this city, and in the hearts of those she inspired, she is sure to always remain an exception to the rule. Make sure to tune to FOCUSTV on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 to watch the full interviews in our on air tribute to the legacy of Sadye Gibbs-Martin.



foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


February is Pet Dental Month SIGNS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE All pets are at risk for developing dental problems. Once a pet displays any of the warning signs below, serious periodontal disease may be present. *Tooth loss *Bad breath *Subdued behavior *Yellow-brown crust on teeth *Abnormal drooling

*Bleeding gums *Dropping food out of the mouth *Going to the food bowl, but not eating *Swallowing food whole *Change of chewing or eating habits


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The Pottery Patch a paint your own pottery studio Mention this ad & save 20% off any one item Paint 'til Ya Faint Friday, Feb. 12th...Open until 11pm!

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january 2010



9:32:54 AM









First Community Bank oF


We take Banking to Heart

New, Old & Handmade A Family of Vendors All in one Place

Spring is in the air with beautiful strawberry & spring floral arrangements. Come see what’s new at The Chic’ Boutique!

The Chic’ Boutique 2201 Thonotossa Rd Plant City, Fl 813.704.5912 *Inquire About Vendor Space


Wesley Joyner, ViCe President

6542 US Hwy. 41 N • Apollo Beach, FL 33572 (813) 658-1200

foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


PLANT CITY LoCATIoN Plant City Crossings 2621 Thonotosassa Rd. • 752-6631 SEFFNER LOCATION • North Grove Plaza 1515 N Parsons • 684-5897

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Can ChiropraCtiC help your immune system?

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HOPEWELL Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens

What about Flu vaCCines?

Doctors of chiropractic analyze your spine to locate vertebral subluxations (misalignments), a serious condition that causes spinal distortions and interferes with your nervous system function. Over a hundred years of chiropractic and osteopathic observations have demonstrated, to many patients, that spinal care improves immune function. The exact mechanism of how the spine and the nervous system affect the immune system is one of the hottest areas of scientific inquiry. This new field is called Psychineuroimmunology (PNI). Keeping your spine healthy under chiropractic care is one of the best ways of keeping your immune system functioning at its optimum level so you have a better opportunity to be healthy and whole. Take preventative actions to build your immune system. Remember there is a lot of controversy to what is in a vaccine and potential effects to the body. Many have wondered why such a rush to get a flu vaccine. Many feel it is a “scarcity mentality” like rushing to the store when a hurricane is approaching or a rush to the banks during a stock market crash. So remember the chiropractic advise given at the top of the article to help give you a healthy piece of mind and some healthy advice: wash your hands frequently but with moderation in use of antibacterial soaps and various products, and if you do get sick, stay home, drink hot soup, and keep up with your chiropractic adjustments. Special Note: February 14 is Valentine’s Day – remember God loves you and so do we. Happy Valentines Day Blessings, Dr. Dukes and Staff

Dr. Brenda Dukes • Chiropractic Physician 752-2524 • 2401 Walden Woods Dr. • Plant City, FL 33566

Dr. Dukes encourages you to write her with any questions concerning chiropractic care.


january 2010

Hopewell Funeral Home is so honored to have

Marsha Passmore,

such an influential member of our community, as part of our team. Thank you Marsha for everything you do for us and Plant City. 6005 County Rd. 39 South 1/2 Mile South of County Road 60 813.737.3128

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Open foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010



january 2010

foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010




january 2010


foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010




Performing in the Red Rose Dining Room


JIM STAFFORD Singer-songwriter and comedian, Jim Stafford will grace the stage in the Red Rose Ballroom for this special evening. His hits include: Swamp Witch, Spiders and Snakes, and My Girl Bill. Jim’s music has been covered by George Jones and Jerry Reed and he has contributed to several movie soundtracks. Also performing - PJ Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show. Space is limited so please RSVP for this great dinner show soon!


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

JANUARY 30 LEGACY OF THE TEMPTATIONS Direct from Las Vegas! The group has appeared around the world with their hi-energy act and sing the hits we all love! Plus, P.J. Leary & The Las Vegas Sounds



A live musical tribute to The Beatles. Beatle Beat recreates the look, style and sounds of the most famous rock band in the world. They have been featured many times over the years at Disney’s Epcot in the British pavillion Plus, The Dukes Doo Wop Show backed by P.J. Leary & The Las Vegas Sounds

SHOW RESERVATIONS Please call for ticket prices. Most shows in the Red Rose Dining Room have a no cover charge with the purchase of dinner. Shows in the Red Rose Ballroom are in a supper club atmosphere with a four course meal or – seats NOW AVAILABLE for a low price for the show only!



Bill Haley's Comets in a Supper Club Atmosphere in the Ballroom for a romantic Valentine Dinner Dance. PJ Leary & the Las Vegas Sounds will open and close the show. Also, 50's and 60's dance program host and DJ, Clay Cole will appear and sign copies of his latest book.



It's a fabulous tribute to the music and life of Elton John with a special tribute to Cher. In the Red Rose Ballroom.

FEBRUARY 26 BOBBY MERCER, JESSICA MICHELLE & DAVE WEBBER “LOTSA FUN” TRIO The show is full of energy, enthusiasm and talent! The group takes you on a musical journey from the 40s to the present.



BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!!! Rick Larrimore takes the stage doing his best Rod Stewart imitation... and what a show! Hear Rod’s biggest hits and feel the charisma in the room as he moves across the dance floor with great energy and style in the Ballroom.



With his 14 piece orchestra! If you are looking for a romantic ‘date night’ – you couldn’t pick a better show to enjoy! The International performer is returning for an evening of continental charm in a Supper Club atmosphere in the Red Rose Ballroom.

SPECIAL ROOM RATES! Show guests - inquire about our special room rates when staying overnight after a show!


Doo Wop Weekend VOL. IV

Specializing in the 50’s and 60’s Rock and Roll, the Van Dells sing a cross section of oldies and combine a unique blend of comedy, choreography and tight harmonies – it’s non-stop action from start to finish! Plus, Ralph Allocco & Second Wind before and after the show.


The group continues to bring their unique brand of vocal harmony to audiences worldwide. Plus, PJ Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show.

March 26 & 27

The annual event is back and boppin’! Scheduled to perform is George Galfo’s Mystics, Bobby Hendricks of the Drifters, The Dukes, The Clovers, The Passions and more to be announced soon! If you loved the 50s, don’t miss this event. Take a step back into time. Come dressed as you are or in 50s attire. Fun for all ages!



The band performs in the Red Rose Dining Room, plus P.J. Leary & The Las Vegas Sounds.

APRIL 10 – JOHNNY ALSTON’S MOTOWN ROCK & ROLL REVUE A dynamite crowdpleaser! P.J. Leary & The Las Vegas Sounds perform before and after the show.

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

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


Mrs. Evelyn Madonia - Owner/General Manager


YEARS! Most Medicare Plans pay for Curves Just bring in your card


Debbie Grooms I came to Curves a year ago, a total wreck. A bad job situation had robbed me of my self esteem and put me in a depression. When my doctor suggested medication with possible suicidal side effects I knew I had to take matters in my own hands. Having used sports in the past for stress relief I walked into Curves. I loved the energy at Curves the moment I walked into the club. I loved the bright colors, the positive attitudes and affirmations to the great music and friendly faces. Very shortly I lost 10 lbs. and 9.5 inches. My energy went up as well as my self esteem. I loved the changes I was seeing in my body, my mind, and my spirit. I was beating my depression without medication. I get a full workout at Curves from head to toe, inside and out. I am forever grateful for Curves. You have saved my life and turned me back into the person I used to be. As long as I am a Curves member I can only get better.


january 2010

Kim McMurray I love working out on the Curves Smart technology. I stay motivated because the success coach is right in front of me during the whole workout. When I am working at my best ability I get a green light that tells me I am doing well. When I slack the light turns yellow to tell me that I need to work harder, and I do. I have definitely toned up and lost body fat. The best part about the Smart system is that it doesn’t lie to you, it’s always honest. You get an honest report on how you did on your workout. I like that and I also like knowing how many calories I burn during my 30 minutes. I work harder to burn more!

Free Weight Loss Classes!

Carolyn Sharkas

1822 Jim Redman Pkwy 813-719-1822


I joined Curves in July of 09 and I have lost 45 pounds. I am proud of myself. The other women and the staff keep me motivated. The trainers are always coaching and monitoring me. I have support from them. I work hard but I still have fun. Join, you’ll be glad you did.

Maida Pou

I have lost 25 pounds at Curves!!! I really feel that Curves is one of the best things that has happened to me. It makes me better physically and mentally too. I tell everyone that will listen. The staff at Curves makes you feel so good you want to go. Little ole Bonnie is just out of this world. I just love it. It has gotten me through some tough moments in life.

Shirley Jones

I have been a member of Curves for 7 years. I had a heart attack in October of 2008. My Doctor told me that had I not been working out at Curves I would have suffered major heart damage. As soon as I could after the attack, I started back at Curves and will stay there as long as God is willing. I love the friendships and the great staff. I am very PROUD of myself for staying with Curves.

Leslie Simmons

I came to Curves at the suggestion of my Mom. I really didn’t think Curves would be for me. My Mom said just walk in the door, that’s all I ask. That was Sept. 09. From the moment I walked into Curves, I could feel the warmth and friendliness. I was a member for a year before I got pregnant. My Doctor is thrilled with my Curves workout and tells me to keep it up. I’m still doing the Curves Smart system and let me say, Curves is not for sissies!

Pat Gill, 58

I have lost 50 pounds at Curves! When Curves Smart was brought into the club I immediately got on board. Before The Smart system I thought I worked out hard. Curves Smart challenges me to do even more and more. I burn close to 400 calories in 30 minutes. Before Curves I had to pull myself up. Now I just jump right up. My arms and legs are so much stronger. My attitude is so much more positive. When I leave Curves, I feel like I can conquer the world. I am healthier and better because of Curves. foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


business profile

Rhino General Contractors by E l i z a b e t h E d wa r d s

While the holiday season can bring great stress for homeowners everywhere, when those unexpected problems come about, it is comforting to know that the experts are behind you any time of day, any day of the week, ready to jump in and save what might have otherwise been known as the disastrous Christmas of 2009. One such organization is Rhino General Contracting Inc., a small-town business with larger-than-life capabilities. While contracting can be a vague term, the professionals at Rhino GC have their services down to an art. The group specializes in commercial and residential roofing, new homes, remodels, concrete, block work, framing and drywall as well as interior and exterior painting. In addition, the Rhino team does a variety of landscape related jobs such as fence installation, stump grinding and tree removal. Rhino GC has done work for a wide assortment of municipal organizations such as the Hillsborough County school systems and Tampa Bay Water. Rhino GC and its team of 10 licensed, insured and bonded contractors have the capability to repair a wide variety of roofing problems as well, including but not limited to algae/mold removal, buckled shingles, curled shingles, granule loss, damaged flashing and ceiling spots. The group specializes in roofing, offering a complementary roofing/repair estimate to new customers. Rhino GC has been actively involved with the community since


january 2010

its opening in 1994 and continues to show support through sponsoring a softball team each year and contributing to local church charities. Owner Robert Elliott also takes an active part in Plant City’s own Chris Welbon Karate Club. Elliott is a Tampa native and loves both his job and the community in which he now resides. “I have been involved in construction my whole life. It brings me a challenge every day,� Elliott said. Rhino GC is based out of Plant City, but services surrounding areas as well such as Lakeland and Brandon. The team is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to cater to its customers sometimesunexpected needs. The company is currently offering a $500 discount for any job more than 1,500 square feet, and a $750 discount for jobs consisting of an area more than 4,000 square feet. For more information regarding Rhino General Contracting and their services, visit www.rhinogc. com or call the business directly at 813-719-2082 to speak with a licensed representative. The business is always looking for qualified individuals to join their team, so all interested applicants should send a resume via fax to 813-707-8290 or via e-mail to

Rhino General Contractors 813-719-2082 813-707-8290 fax

Rhino GC owner Robert Elliott put together a team that specializes in commercial and residential roofing, new homes, remodels, concrete, block work, framing and drywall as well as interior and exterior painting. Photo by Elizabeth Edwards

813.441.4771 1308 S. Collins Plant City, FL 33563 Hours 9 am-7pm Mon-Sat 12:30 pm-5 pm Sun

Owner, Michaela Messer

Unusual Gifts, Furniture, Antiques & Jewelry

Art Classes Drawing, Watercolor, Painting

Sat 9 am-1pm 2 Hour Class • $25.00 per class Materials Included

Private Lessons by Appointment

Treatment Alternatives for Varicose Veins The Vein Center at Watson Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute offers a variety of treatment options for men and women with painful or unsightly veins. Whether you have varicose or spider veins, we help you to achieve the desired result for your legs. • Vnus is a popular non-surgical procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to eliminate faulty varicose veins. • EVLT, or EndoVenous Laser Treatment, is a non-surgical option that eliminates varicose veins at the source with targeted laser energy.

2 for 1 Valentine’s Special Bring your special sweetheart or friend and enjoy our services for the price of one. Offer valid until Feb 28, 2010

FREE Workshops - Thursdays from 7pm to 9pm Weight Management English - February 4th

Natural Ingredients Applications for Skin Care Spanish - January 21st. English - January 28th.

Due to the popularity of our free workshops please reserve at 800-765-4505. Maximum capacity is 10 people per workshop.

Stress Management

• A Phlebectomy procedure is often chosen for patients who are not appropriate for Vnus or EVLT treatments. A series of very small incisions are made at the vein site to remove the faulty vein from under the skin. • Sclerotherapy treats varicose and spider veins through a medicinal injection that works to shrink the vein at the root.

For more information to determine which procedure is best for you, please call The Vein Center at Watson Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute: 863-680-7003, option 1.

English - Feb 11th. Spanish - Feb 18th

Right in Downtown Plant City ... just across the municipal parking lot!

105 South Collins Street, Plant City, FL 33563 • For Class Registration and Appointments Call 800-765-4505 Se Habla Español

1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd. • foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010



IRA CONTRIBUTIONS ISN’T. You have only so many years to prepare for retirement. That’s why contributing to your IRA is so important. Fortunately, you still have time to maximize your 2009 IRA contribution before the April 15 deadline. By contributing now, your retirement savings can have more opportunity to grow. Even if you already have an IRA elsewhere, it’s easy to transfer it to an Edward Jones IRA and begin receiving the face-to-face advice you deserve. To learn more about the advantages of an Edward Jones IRA, call or visit today.

Michael Cameron Financial Advisor

2501 Thonotosassa Rd Plant City, FL 33563 813-759-1491 Member SPIC

We do what neighbors have always done for one another: We help you through your most difficult times.

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Smart Investment Moves for 2010 S u b m i t t e d by e d wa r d j o n e s

As an investor, you might wonder what the new year has in store for you. While economic and market forces are, as always, somewhat unpredictable, the overall outlook is generally favorable — and by making the right moves, you can further improve your chances of making 2010 a good year for your portfolio. And one of the best moves you can make is to stay invested. If you had jumped out of the market during the long downturn from late 2007 through March 2009, you would have missed quite a rally. In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average staged a considerable comeback from its March lows, climbing 18.8 percent in 2009. The S & P 500 rose 23.5 percent off of its low. Still, it’s unlikely that we’ll experience returns in this neighborhood for 2010. Although we may see reasonably strong growth in corporate earnings — a key driver of stock prices — stocks are no longer as undervalued as they were when the rally began. However, although we still face some significant issues, such as high unemployment and tight credit, most experts predict that the economic recovery will continue in 2010, though not at a sizzling pace. And a growing economy is usually good news for investors.

The idea of losing a loved one is something most would rather not think about. And yet, more and more people are finding value in planning with us. One reason is all the exclusive benefits we can offer through the Dignity Memorial® network, such as our One-Of-A-Kind Memorials, thoughtful tributes that recognize the importance and value of those who have passed on. But what people tell us they most appreciate is the way planning freed them to celebrate the life of one whom they will always remember. With respect and with dignity.

Wells Memorial Funeral Home


1903 West Reynolds Street Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-1111



january 2010

Of course, despite the potentially favorable investment environment, there’s always the possibility of bumps in the road. To protect yourself, consider taking these steps: * Stick with “buy and hold.” Despite some claims that “buy-and-hold” is no longer a viable investment strategy given today’s volatile markets, it worked pretty well for those investors who were patient enough to ride out the bear market. Continue looking for quality investments and holding them until they no longer meet your needs or until the fundamentals of the investments

themselves change. * Own some short-term investments. During the long bear market, short-term investments, particularly cash, held up better than most other assets. Yet many investors had too little cash in their portfolios. Don’t make that mistake. Keep an appropriate amount of cash for your age, income level, risk tolerance and long-term goals. * Consider adding fixed-income investments. By owning some fixedincome vehicles, such as bonds, you can help reduce the effects of volatility on your portfolio. And if you hold your bonds until maturity, which is often a wise move, you can rely on them for a source of steady income. As always, make sure you understand the risks before investing. * Watch for changes in investment taxes. In the coming year, the tax rate may increase for long-term capital gains and stock dividends. If that happens, you may need to review your investment mix. However, even if the long-term capital gains rate rises, you’ll still likely be better off holding quality investments for many years, thereby giving them the time to potentially overcome short-term price volatility. And even if taxes rise on dividends, dividend-paying stocks, with their ability to provide both income and growth potential, can be a valuable part of your portfolio. (Keep in mind, though, that companies may reduce or eliminate dividends at any time.) No one can say for sure what 2010 will bring to the investment world. But by preparing your investment strategy for a range of possibilities, and by making changes as needed, you can make this a year of progress toward your important financial goals. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.


Richard Swilley Donnie Johnson Lic EC13002274 Bonded and Insured


ElEctricity is no hobby call: 813.737.9057 FINALLY! Two local guys than can take on your nagging electrical repairs and wire your new home or business at a reasonable price! “Richard and Donnie look forward to serving your electrical needs. With 75 years of combined experience we can make your home and business safer and leave you with confidence that the job is done correctly. Give us a call and let us show how we can ease your concerns about your electrical system.


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foCUS Magazine Plant City january 2010


straw·ber·ry (strô'bĕr'ē) queen (kwēn)

n. A girl who reigns supreme in strawberry apparel and accessories from Sister’s & Company.

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Lorraine Bennett Keller Williams Realty

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102 S. Evers St. #103, Plant City

(813)754-9580 10-5 Tuesday - Saturday (after hours by appt. only)

Background - I am a native Floridian. I have lived throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties but moved to Plant City approximately 15 years ago. I absolutely LOVE Plant City and the people who live here!! My background is in accounting and I previously worked for a local CPA. Having way too much personality to be sitting behind a desk, approximately 6 years ago I switched professions to Real Estate Sales. It was a perfect fit! Aspirations – I aspire to be the absolute BEST at whatever I set my mind to, whether it is being the best REALTOR®, mother or neighbor. I have a God-given purpose for my life, and my goal is to pursue this purpose and to fulfill it, not only in my personal life but in my business life as well. Helping others through the process of buying or selling a home is a significant opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life. If I can do that, then success is inevitable. Inspirations – In my business, I try to locate other agents who are experiencing success in their real estate businesses and pinpoint exactly what they are doing that is facilitating their success. Then I try to see how I can improve on what they are doing and how I can do better in my own

business practice. My goal is to continually offer superior service in my commitment to serving others, not only setting me apart from the competition but also recognizing that my performance is a reflection on how others view the God who has given me this purpose in life. Successes – So many great individuals throughout history experienced tremendous failure time and time again before they were able to realize success. Achieving what we desire is all good, but success is all about picking yourself up even after you fall on your face. If you can do that then I believe that you can achieve anything. In my real estate practice, I cannot let failures get me down. We all have set-backs but as long as I continue to strive for success, I know I will achieve it. Despite today’s economic challenges, I have a thriving real estate business. For this I credit a gracious God and an unrelenting determination to just keep going no matter how tough it gets. Future (what’s next?) My personal goal is to have earned my broker’s license by the end of 2010, broadening my area of knowledge and expertise allowing me to better serve my clients on a professional level. My website, www.MyHappyRealtor. com will be getting an overhaul and soon consumers will be able to look forward to weekly updates of what is happening in THEIR neighborhoods regarding the sale and purchase of real estate. People want to be well informed about their financial investments and our homes are part of our investment portfolios. With my business growing strong, I also plan on taking on an administrative assistant within the next year to offer support in my ‘behind-the-desk’ duties allowing me to really focus on working with sellers and buyers.

Plant City • 813-752-4155 •

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


business focus Preaching

Grace & TruTh Family Baptist ChurCh

Building strong faithful families, for the glor y of God.

Teaching Sunday Service: Worship Service 11:00 am • Fellowship meal following Bible Study 2:00 pm “Saturday Night Brew” 6 pm –8 pm 2nd & 4th Saturdays

Family Worship


meets in former coffee shop in downtown plant City 101 e J arden Mays Blvd, Plant city, FL 33563 • 813-428-4800


One bedroom Apartments Rent based on income

Plant City Towers 103 W. Mahoney St. Plant City, FL 33563 813.752.5116

Plant City Living Center 405 E. Damon St Plant City, FL 33563 813.659.2669

applications available at each location 66

december 2009

Charlie (son), Rob (husband), Jo Ann (wife), Cody (son)

Jo-An Lusk

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Background: My husband, Rob, and I have been married for 28 years. We have lived in Plant City since February 1986. We have 2 sons, Charlie – 23 and Cody – 19. After 20 years in Corporate America, I began a career in Real Estate in 2001 and have not looked back since. We have been members of Shiloh Baptist Church for 15 years and I am involved in the Children’s and Music Ministries. Aspirations: Well, I do look forward to seeing my sons marry, and of course, grandchildren… someday! I am thankful to have a job that I love and I aspire to the best wife, mother and manager that I can be each day. There is a saying: “Your ability unveils your destiny”. Inspiration: First and foremost I believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again so that I might have eternal life. Secondly, my husband

is my inspiration. I watched him fight esophageal (tonsil) cancer in 2009, going through surgery and radiation. He never missed work, he was positive and he never felt sorry for himself. Today, he is cancer-free. Successes: Surviving 2009 was a success! I have seen my 2 sons become responsible men and I am honored to be their mom. I have my health (although Zumba is on my to-do list), a strong marriage, a supportive family and a loving church family. I have all that I need. Future: I am excited about the future and what it holds for my family and career. I enjoy helping others to be successful and celebrating that success. I know that these are tough times but I cannot fear nor despair. I know that the will of God will never take me where the grace of God cannot protect me.

flint creek

Call Today about Allstate’s Safe Driver Discount Ralph L. Feola, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF 1003 S. Collins Street Plant City


Discount and insurance offered only with select companies and subject to availability and qualifications. Discount amount may be lower and applies to most major coverages.Allstate Insurance Company and Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company: Northbrook, IL. Š 2007 Allstate Insurance Company.

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


James W. Hays CPA, CFP, LLC Taxes- Business and individual, management consulting, accounting, and financial planning.

Ranging from monthly accounting encompassing financial statements and all taxes to annual tax returns at efficient, minimal overhead rates. An experienced professional uniquely providing for your accounting and tax needs while giving you the benefit of actual business entrepreneurial expertise, i.e., convenience stores, restaurants, townhouse development, computer services and more.


Call Jim for a free consultation. 408 W. Reynolds Street, Suite 107F Plant City, FL 33563-5297 140 W. Bay Street Davenport, FL 33837

Phone: (813) 754-6000 Fax: (813) 754-6006


“Accounting and taxes are areas of my business I do not worry about. Jim gives me valuable financial and management guidance at no extra cost.”

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Member: American Institute of Industrial Engineers American Society of Professional Consultants

december 2009

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This is a special advertising section

Find Your New Home Today!

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


MY FIRST HOME! This 3Bd/1Ba home is located close to Kathleen Elementary & middle schools. Kitchen features dinette area & all appliances. The large back yard is fenced & is ready for kids to play or pets to roam. $ 54,400! #52


On 2+ acre, custom built 2 story offers 2526 SF, 3Bd/3Ba & 2 half baths! Carefree tile thru-out, wood cabinetry & granite counters. Approx 24x33 in-law suite, office & approx 25X60 metal shop for car enthusiast, wood workers, etc. All c/l & galv fenced. A country haven to behold! Only $ 359,900! #70

COME HOME TO COMFORT – Don’t cramp your style, 2577 SF, 4 Bd, 2.5 Ba & FR w/ FRPL in open fl oor plan. Fully equipped kitchen is Family friendly. Beautiful slate fl oors enhance glassed porch. Heated sports pool adds to family fun. Must see only $249,900. #77

HORSE COUNTRY! 3Bd /2Ba, 1617 SF on 2.58 acres. Open living area, kitchen includes all appliances, inside laundry & screened porch. 21’x40’ barn is ready to saddle up with 3 horse stalls & tack rm. Most of the property is fenced w / 3-board fencing & includes shed. $ 254,900. # 9

AMERICAN DREAM – Starts w/homeownership. 3Bd/2Ba in Thonotosassa on 2.98 acres. Lovely screened patio & pool area w/wood fencing provide plenty of fun for Family & Friends. Huge barn workshop will delight Dad! Only $198,500. #42

THIS HOME HAS IT ALL! 3Bd/3Ba, 2173 SF with 2 fireplaces and tile throughout. 4th bdrm (no closet) can be office or in-law suite with own entry off carport with attached bath. Includes inground vinyl pool. All this for only $134,900!! #47

TOOLS TAKING OVER? Store them in this great workshop! 2Bd CB w/ CH/A cutie on huge privacy fenced lot minutes from I-4. Mom will love the large, charming kitchen w/stainless appliances. Only $74,900. A must see. #35

UN-LEASE YOURSELF! Be wise & stop paying rent! Buy this 3Bd/2Ba, 1045 SF, move in ready w/newer interior paint & pergo fl ooring. Kitchen includes all appliances. Separate dining rm is perfect for entertaining. Inside laundry rm w/single car garage. $ 90,000. #25

COLLECT THE RENT RECEIPTS! From one side of this duplex and live in the other. Both units have 2 bedroom, 1 bath, centrally located in Lakeland. $79,900. #18

ADORABLE-AFFORDABLE! 3 Bd/2Ba ½ duplex is located in North Lakeland area. The appeal of small; the impact of big w/ Family rm/dining rm combo.Upstairs 3rd bdrm loft or workout rm. Kitchen includes all appliances. Fenced back yard is perfect for man’s best friend with separate dog run fully fenced. $ 95,000. #53

SWEETHEART STOP THE CAR! 3Bd/2Ba dw mobile home located on 1.13 acres. A perfect location for country living w/convenience to County Line Road & I-4. Separate living rm, Family rm, dining rm, & inside laundry rm. Large fenced yard. Priced at only $70,000 #91

CONVENIENT LOCATION WITH COUNTRY ATMOSPHERE 3Bd/2Ba, 1977 SF, built in 2001. Lg kitchen, all appl., FM rm w/frpl. Cheerful DR/LR combo perfect for entertaining. Located on ½ ac Cul-De-Sac. Priced reduced to $110,000! Also, available for rent! #24


3Bd/2Ba, 2005 DW, better than new, beautifully maintained country setting. $127,900. A must see! #17

SWEETHEART DEAL! 2Bd/2Ba singlewide mobile home is situated on .59 acres, conveniently located near Airport Rd in Lakeland. Priced at only $ 95,000. #49

ACREAGE & COMMERCIAL YMCA Pl. – Gorgeous 5 Acres MOL – Great value in this natural pristine Florida site. Located with ½ in Plant City & ½ in County – offers so many possibilities. $198,900. #37 IDEAL COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL! Hwy 574 - 1.33 AC, this highly visible corner site is perfect for retail, business office, warehouse, etc. Priced right @ $250,000. Please call for more info. #60 WATERFRONT PROPERTY – Located on 5 gorgeous, secluded pristine acres in Thonotosassa. Flint Creek runs on property (No Flood Insurance Required!) Minutes to I-4 & Tampa, possibly sub-divide. Only $134,500 – A Steal of a Deal! #93 LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – This 5 acre parcel located in the heart of Plant City on YMCA Pl.. Close to schools, shopping and restaurants with residential land use and commercial potential. Call for more details. $200,000 #66 COUNTRY ROADS TAKE ME HOME This beautiful property is located in Wauchula and is waiting for your dream home. The property is over an acre on Martin Luther King Blvd. $ 59,900. #78


december 2009

HISTORIC DOWNTOWN PLANT CITY 1440 SF Retail space plus canopy & storage. Ideally located w/ ample City parking, brick facade. New CH/A, newer roof. Make this your office or Shoppe. $249,900. #1

RENTALS from $550 to $995 a Month Call for more info.

Make 2010 the Best year ever in your new Home. Happy New Year!

Call Vogel Realty & Consider “It” Sold!

(813) 659-3306 You can also keep up with us on Facebook & Myspace!

Natalie Sweet Cathy Martin Angel Miller 813-758-9586 813-376-0891 813-546-9863 It’s ALL ABOUT YOU! Call for a No Obligation Buyer or Seller Consultation ELEGANT EXECUTIVE HOME



This 4 Bdr, 3 1/2 Ba Golf Course home features gleaming cherry & bamboo flooring. Split plan w/gorgeous his & hers master bathrooms w/natural stone, granite, & modern design. Huge backyard & lanai w/outdoor bar area, grill & sink. $325,000

4 BDR/2 1/2 Bath/3 Car Gar featuring an updated kitchen, family room w/fireplace & wet bar in dinette. Wonderful entertaining home w/pool & spa & huge lanai /wonderful view of the golf course. Price right at $289,900





Juniper Lake home w/Gorgeous kitchen with wood cabinets & granite countertops. Newly added screened pool w/ pavers. 14X20 extended lanai w/ pavers & AC, $199,200

You will love this 4 Bdr, 2 Bath home in Walden Lake featuring living, dining & family rooms. Splash around all year in your solar heated pool. One owner home & pride of ownership shows. $190,000

This beauty has plenty of room to romp and a 2 stall horse barn on 1 acre. 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath built in 2005, side load 2 car garage and spacious kitchen in Thonotosassa. Don’t miss this one! $159,900

Wonderful 3 Bdr/2 Bath home featuring updated kitchen w/maple cabinets, corian countertops & stylish stainless appliances. Great property w/separate workshop/den & additional bath. Call today! $146,000





Fabulous 3/2/2 Santa Cruz model w/TONS of UPGRADES! Kitchen features 42” cabinets, 18 tile, corian counter tops & more. Why buy new when this home has EVERYTHING! $132,000

3 Bdr, 2 Ba home in deisireable Plant City neighborhood. New tile & carpet, open floor plan, no back yard neighbors & close to I4 for easy commute. Close quick and get your home buyer credit before it’s gone! $127,000

Beautiful 5+ Acre Executive Lots in this Gorgeous Gated Community. You will fall in love with this unique Equestrian Community w.21 lots & plenty of wildlife. Horses welcome! From $99,000.

Quiet Country Living yet close to everything. Modest tidy home w/lots of perks. 30X40 garage/workshop w/ electric for all your projects & fenced pasture. $94,900


4 Bdr 2 B home and everything was updated Move right into this fabulous 5144 sq’ in 1995 from the roof to the floors. Hardhome with 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths on wood floors, enormous garage & workshop, irrigated fields and so much more. $289,900 over 1 Acre. Built in 05 and has every-

thing you could possibly want already built into it! $595,000

Search for homes at

real estate walden lake review

Walden Lake Review S to r y by N ata l i e S w e e t

The Walden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are the third Monday of each month. The next meeting will be January 18th at 6:00 PM with a President’s meeting directly after. The winners of the Decorating Contests for the Neighborhood Entrances were in the category of larger entrances, 1st Place went to The Paddocks, 2nd Place to Laurel Lake and 3rd Place to the Emerald Forest. For the smaller entrances, 1st Place went to Fairway Estates, 2nd Place to Silverlake and 3rd Place to Wedgewood. Honorable Mentions in both categories went to Forest Club, Sutton Woods, Clubhouse Woods and Tanglewood. I had someone recently ask why the road between Walden Lake and

the Village at Walden Lake Plaza was closed. The simple answer is the road is private. There had been some issues along the road and the owners considered leaving it open a liability, therefore, it is closed and will be indefinitely. The Board had the opportunity to tour the new buildings prior to their December meeting and I got to tag along. The office has plenty of room for the staff and has a very large meeting room. It will be an asset for the building to be right here in the community. One of the items discussed at the meeting was the delay of occupancy and that was due to running lines for the internet and telephone. Verizon wanted to charge the association to run the lines to the office although Brighthouse has

agreed to run the lines for free with a 2-year contract. The office should be ready to move into in February. Be watching for an Open House! Sandy Bartareau attended the meeting representing the Dog Park Committee due to complaints of an aggressive dog. Since the rules and regulations don’t allow aggressive dogs, a letter is being sent to the dog’s owner telling the homeowner that the dog is not allowed in the park. Please note that aggressive dogs will not be allowed in the Dog Park. Village Green residents were at the Board Meeting again this month regarding a problem with a retaining wall in their community. The concern is that the wall is not holding the ground and that it is getting worse. Tom Duramus has submitted the information to the WLCA attorney and will contact him to expedite his opinion. In the



december 2009

mean time, Tom has begun to get quotes on a different type of wall. Glenn Allen spoke with Chief of Police, Bill McDaniel about the Community Alert idea. Chief McDaniel thought it was a good idea. The plan is that the police department will contact Tom Daramus if any situation comes up that would warrant an alert to the community. At that point, an email or a call will go out to the Presidents of the individual communities alerting them of the situation. Walden Lake Golf & Country Club has both the Hills and Lakes courses open and ready for play. Don’t forget to plan your events and tournaments at the club. Contact Michele at 752-1171, extension 222 for all your event planning and membership information. Happy New Year to All!



Guide to Homes

You Know There Are Some ThingS You JuST CAn noT CompAre

Plant City Mortgage Loan Process Start to Finish Lowest Down Payment Available Representative at Closing Insurance Quote Assistance Available on Weekends Free Credit Repair Assistance

12 Days $0 Yes Yes Yes Yes

Other Guys 30-45 Days 20 % Yeah Right! Keep Dreaming! Call on Monday Not our Job!

There is a difference with Lenders! PLANT CITY MORTGAGE Service



s are real, nsaction. It wa a pleasant tra you did ch job su e nt nc lle rie ce ex me buying expe ed at what an ho r letely az ou mp am co ing re en ak we m be , we much for Dear Nate it. I would have ter the closing to thank you so mes along with e to explain all ard. Nate, af co tim rw at fo of th We just want k ht nt or ou aig rw am str pape ch an extensive I am talking to earth and so ess and all the you not took su helpful, down and know what me buying proc go into realty t the whole ho documents had ou sing without al uld ab co clo leg I e us e th at os t ing th th at lef gh e all ou g W educ e I learned en ortable signin d before hand. lik mf a personal pe co el at ep fe un wh pr I lt e ll fe n. iat d we go so jar prec lost an cause we were to sign. We ap ance, and legal d be ur e ha rstand you ins , de tim we te un k rd I ta or co es s. ur in re the real g all the paperw ter business ho th the closing din af wi an d ne rst an the sellers do de re gh un re fo t ou be we e abou about. We wanted even th personal phon d we felt safe we ur an te yo n da on tio to move er u es ek rli yo qu h ea we l ac tra asking a single on the origina was nice to re d to wait an ex you gave us. It be able to close ed your rates would have ha us ar we lp mp if he co ed to d ht int an sb po level of service ap the nig my skeptical hu ve been so dis at all hours of unreason able ptly. Of course d. We would ha were working fer with such back to us prom y is able to of ings on their en th ng an tti home. Thanks up mp a ge co ng g t ldi ur ou yin yo ho ab bu t al were anyone I know reasonable de . You were grea to a e me at ag on. ho tg wh as m or se ed ea M ay dr ris ty lid into our asantly surp ending Plant Ci a wonderful ho d we were ple ortable recomm pe your beautiful family has mf co ry with others an ve el ho mpetitors. I fe eciate it. We rates of your co We really appr ur hard work. yo all r fo ain ag Sincerely, y Gentry Brian and Holle

Nate Davis President Office: 813.707.6200 Cell: 813.763.3910 Free Mortgage Report

1501 S. Alexander Street • Suite 103 Plant City, Fl 33563



Unique single family detached “condo”! Great room with study/den, garden bath and island kitchen. Large screened lanai and pool w/extended patio. Private gated community within Walden Lake. Offered at $238,000. Call Maddie Alford @ 813-382-8282



This Lake Front view can be enjoyed from many vantage points throughout the home. 2BR 2BA 2 GAR Pool/Spa home. Family room was enlarged by removing third bedroom wall. (Can easily be converted back). Features include wood-burning fireplace, breakfast bar, wet bar, eat-in kitchen w/custom tile counter tops, oak cabinets, Tiffany lights and all new kitchen appliances. Walk-in shower in master bath, walk-in closet in master bedroom. Home Warranty included! $210,000.00 MLS #T2394955. For more details contact Janet Moore 813-751-9890.

Original owners. 3 BR 2 BA 2 GAR. A leaded-glass front door beckons you into a formal dining room or adjacent great room featuring a remote control gas fireplace w/ marble surround. Archways and ceramic tile throughout home enhance any decor. Large open fl oor plan. No backyard neighbors. The kitchen has solid surface countertops and a Bosch dishwasher. Electric Honeywell air filtration system, 19 Seer Lennox A/C. Attached 10x12 sq ft. workshop w/A/C. Dbl insulated windows. $210,000.00. MLS #T2396040. For more details contact Janet Moore 813-751-9890.

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY Built in 1915 this 2 BR/1 BA wood-frame home on city lot. $39,500.00. “AS-IS” condition. Asbestos siding. Metal roof. Information from public records. Impact fees. Room sizes must be verified. MLS #T2400615. For more information contact Janet Moore #813-751-9890.

HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT SEMINAR Join us for an Information Session on the Extended and Expanded Tax Credit For First-Time Homebuyers and Current/Move-up Homeowners No Obligation, come and found out how you can take advantage of up to $8000!

When: Thursday, January 28, 2010 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Where: Bruton Memorial Public Library, Plant City



Call us for your Residential and Commercial Real Estate needs

1513 Jim Redman Parkway, Plant City



december 2009


Jimmie Robinson - 813-754-3586 ext 222


1513 J. L. Redman Pkwy Plant City, FL 33563

E-mail: • toll free 1-877-442-7001 CED




MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU Commercial building located near hospital and I-4. Currently in the remodel stage. Buy now and customize for your particular business. $360,000. MLS#T2330860.


Unique two-story 4 BR/3 BA with over 4000 SF living, screened pool area w/grill area, formal living areas and very open floor plan. All on a 1/2 acre landscaped lot in wonderful family subdivision with no HOA fees. $329,000. MLS# T2388714.


1.27 fenced acres with 4 BR/2 BA newer doublewide that features over 2300 SF, fireplace, deck and much more. Large workshop/storage area included. Great buy at only $149,900. MLS#T2388743.


5000 SF metal office and warehouse space. Zoned C-1 and M-1 on .8 acres. $375,000.


Two homes built in 2005 on 1+ acre in the country-all for the price of one! Main home is 3 BR/2 BA/2 CG with 1400+ SF living. 2nd home is 1 BR/1 BA w/carport. Nice pool area situated in between homes. $239,900. MLS#T2388754.


Neat and clean-3 BR/2 BA/2+ CG that shows just like new with over 2500 SF living, oak floors, fireplace, vacuum system, surround sound, security system and water softener. Upstairs bonus room awaiting your finishing touches-could be 1000+SF entertainer’s haven. $299,900. MLS#T2378065.



2 BR/2BA condo on the golf course with 1041 SF, new appliances, new wood floors, granite counters, screened porch and open floor plan. Convenient to clubhouse on a conservation lot within a cul-de-sac and access to community pool. Now $163,000. MLS#T2381230.



3 BR/2 BA brick home with wonderfully shaded 1/2 acre yard situated in family neighborhoodno HOA fees. Home features 2300+ SF living, brick fireplace and lots of room to entertain for family & friends. Now only $197,500. MLS#T2313351



8 high & dry acres MOL, fenced and currently greenbelted-zoned 4 units per acre. Includes a 2BR/1 BA older home with 1946 SF and 3 car carport. Lots of potential-$375,000. MLS#T2390805.

3BR/3 BA/3CG home with over 3000SF living area, tile floors, gourmet kitchen, formal living and master bath with hot tub and separate shower. Situated on a cul-de-sac lot in a great family neighborhood. $326,900. MLS#T2378814.


4BR/2.5 BA manufactured home situated on fenced 1 acre MOL with wooded area and private drive. Home has over 2000 SF living, pool area and 2 car carport. Only $119,900. MLS#T2383893.

Walden Lake East-3 BR/2BA/2CG with almost 1500 SF living, ceramic tile, breakfast bar and more. Situated on a nicely landscaped lot on a private cul-de-sac. $142,000. MLS#T2390190.

60+ acres of gorgeous land that would make the perfect ranch. Lots of potential for making an entire family homestead. $1, 200,000. MLS#T2399075.




Building lot in established neighborhood of nice 18.5 high & dry acres with office building and Zephyrhills-20 acres of high & dry land that includes a homes. Owner ready to sell-priced below market 60x60 metal building with loading dock. Fenced 2 BR/1 BA small block home and barn for the animals. values. Now $29,900. MLS#T2346179. w/water & sewer. $1,300,000. MLS# T2386723 Priced to sell at $299,900. MLS#T2385378.

HAVE A BLESSED 2010-THANKS FOR YOUR BUSINESS IN 2009! foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


real estate mortgage

Only in salons and Paul Mitchell schools.

1701 S. Alexander Street Plant City, FL 33566


NO EQUITY AND WANT TO REFINANCE…. NO PROBLEM????? S t o r y by N at e D av i s

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In today’s mortgage markets there are many loan products that exist to help homeowners refinance even if they are “under water” Let’s take a look at a few:

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december 2009

FHA Streamline Refinance – If you currently have an FHA loan, you may refinance WITHOUT an Appraisal! Regardless of what you owe on your home, you can refinance today’s low rates as long as you have made your last 12 monthly mortgage payments on time. These loans are very easy to qualify for and take about 12 days start to finish. VA Interest Rate Reduction Loan – Same as above, but your current loan must be a VA loan. Again, if your home is worth 100k, and you owe 200k on it, so as long as your last 12 payments have been made on time, you can do it!!!!

Fannie Mae DU Refi Plus –This product requires that your existing loan to be a Fannie Mae loan. If so you can refinance your home up to 105% of its value. You will need an appraisal, but if your current loan does not have mortgage insurance and you do over 80% (when you would usually have to add mortgage insurance), then you still WOULD NOT have to add it. Freddie Mac Refi Plus – Same as above except this would require your loan to be a Freddie Mac Loan To determine the type of existing loan you have, contact a mortgage professional to determine if you can refinance despite the potential lack of equity that is typically required for a standard refinance loan. Nate Davis – Plant City Mortgage – Owner -813.707.6200


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HOT DIGGITY DOG! 2002 DWMH on 1 Acre in Plant City. Zoned for Walden Lake Elementary School & Strawberry Crest HS. HUGE Kitchen & Master B/R - 26 X 24 COVERED Parking area on Concrete Slab - 24 X 10 Workshop with Electric - Wood Deck with Out Door Kitchen... SWEET!


ACCENT ON VIEWS...Walden Lake 4/3/2 Waterfront 2206 sq ft Pool Home. Designer finishes include Custom Built-In Picture Niches, Chair Railing, Wood Flooring, Quartz Countertops in the Kitchen. 3-Way Split B/R Floor Plan.



SOUTH LAKELAND DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH is looking for a Buyer who isn’t afraid to invest a little “Sweat Equity.” 2-Story 5/3/2 – 4300+ sq ft Pool Home Located in Well Established Desirable Neighborhood. Fireplace. Master Suite has Balcony overlooking the Pool & Garden area. $230,000


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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


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december 2009

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Get Ready.... by J o - a n lU S K

It is no surprise that 2010 will be another challenging year for the real estate market. However, the signs have been pointing to a recovering market for several months, and while you may not see an increase in home values, recovery is happening in other areas that will eventually lead to stronger home values.

Must have lived in current home as principal residence for five consecutive years

For the Seller: If you are considering selling your home in 2010, then NOW is the time. Why? Many fi rst-time home buyers are looking, and they only have a few months left to be under contract. First-time home buyers must be under contract by April 30 and close by June 30 to be eligible for the tax credit of up to $8000. There is still a lot of active inventory, so once again, price is important. As a seller, you are competing with shortsales and bank-owned. Therefore, you need to get the buyers to see “value” in your list price.

First-time home buyers

For the Buyer: It could not be a better time for you to buy. Here are some details you need to know regarding the tax credit:

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real estate real estate

december 2009

Current/Move-Up Homeowners Eligible for tax credit up to $6,500 on purchase of primary residence under $800,000 Must sign purchase agreement between November 6, 2009 and April 30, 2010 and close by June 30, 2010

Maximum income is $125,000 for individuals, $150,000 for couples Credit must be repaid if buyers sell within three years

Eligible for tax credit up to $8,000 on purchase of primary residence under $800,000 Anyone who has not owned a home within three years is considered a “fi rst-time buyer” Must sign purchase agreement between November 6, 2009 and April 30, 2010 and close by June 30, 2010 Maximum income is $125,000 for individuals, $150,000 for couples Credit must be repaid if the buyers sell within three years Statistics for 2009 reveal that the first-time home buyer tax credit had a substantial impact on home sales from June-December. It is important that you understand the details and guidelines of the tax credit, so speak to a tax professional. Find a good realtor who knows what’s going on in the local market and take advantage while the opportunities last! Jo-An Lusk, GRI | Managing Broker | Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate | 1513 James L Redman Pkwy | Plant City, FL 33563 | P: 813-754-3586 | F: 813-7548099 | E: | visit

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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


sports football

Art Knight- First Team All Western Conference linebacker.

Defensive Anchor

Raiders’ Linebacker Chosen for All Western Conference Team by J o e B o w l e s , P i c t u r e s by J o e B o w l e s a n d A l i c i a K n i g h t

For Plant City High School linebacker Art Knight, it may have been a surprise when head coach Jason Strunk recently stopped him in the hallway to give him the news that he had been named as a first team All-Western Conference selection. It may have been a surprise to Art, but those who saw him play this year weren’t the least bit surprised as Knight anchored a Raiders defense that allowed an average of 11 points per game while blanking three consecutive opponents in midseason on their way to a post-season appearance for the third time in four years. Knight led his team and the district in tackles with 106, while recording two sacks, forcing two fumbles and recovering one fumble. If that wasn’t enough, on special teams, he returned one kick-off for twelve yards, kicked three extra points and connected on a field goal of 37 yards, in place of the team’s regular kicker who was out with


december 2009

an injury. Did I mention that he also carried the ball on offense for an 8-yard gain…and he is only a junior…and this is his first year of varsity football? That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t ever played before, because he has played plenty of football in the past, starting at the age of seven for the Plant City Dolphins youth football team. His concentration the last two years, however, has been on baseball, one season of wrestling and a lot of schoolwork, raising his GPA to nearly 3.0. Previous to this year, Art was known as a baseball player. He played varsity baseball as a freshman and sophomore. His off-season schedule was even filled with more baseball as an outfielder/ third baseman with the Florida Baseball Heaven Angels, an 18U travel team. This summer, Knight attended football camps at Auburn University and at the University of South

The anchor of the the Raiders defense

Florida, preparing for his debut on the Raiders’ varsity football team. The skills that he learned at the camps and from his Raiders’ coaches have transferred onto the gridiron this fall in a positive way. His mother, Alicia, played softball for the Raiders in high school and later at Hillsborough Community College. His father, Bud, a former Raiders football star and a first team All-Western Conference selection in 1988, has instilled a love of sports into his son. Sports run deep in the Knight family and Art was blessed with enough talent to play and excel at two sports. Known for his speed and his hard tackling, Knight grew an inch to 5’11” and gained 10 pounds since January, topping out at 190 lbs. by the end of the football season. He doesn’t attribute his increase in size

to anything other than staying in shape and getting older. “I didn’t work out this summer, I just played baseball and practiced with the football team in preseason and got stronger.” He also spoke of the mental side of the game. “I have learned a lot from Coach Dickens (Raiders linebacker coach). He taught me how to read guards and how to make tackles. I know a lot more about the game because of him,” said Knight. Following graduation in 2011, Art would like to attend the University of Alabama. One day he would like to fulfill his dream of playing major league baseball. Unless, however, he is given an offer to play football. Then, we’re not sure what he would do. He might play both.

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009



901 West Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Plant City, Florida (813) 754-2588


by J o e b o w l e S

Lizbeth Ramirez Micah Carmony Strawberry Crest High School

Last year, Lizbeth Ramirez gave up sports to focus on her schoolwork. This year, however, she is still working hard at school but has made a commitment to participate in four sports; soccer, cross-country, flag football, and track. With her goal to play soccer in college, Lizbeth has utilized her speed and her leadership abilities to lead first-year Strawberry Crest High School to attain early success on the soccer field. Ramirez, a sophomore, is the Chargers team captain. It’s her responsibility to make sure the team is prepared on and off the field. Helping her teammates in following team rules, helping Coach Sosa with organizing practices, and serving as the team leader and spokesperson are all a part of her job as captain.


december 2009

“I play the position of sweeper. It’s my job to know what every player is doing at all times. I have to control the game and to distribute the ball to our forwards so they can score,” Ramirez explained. Lizbeth or “Bibi,” as she is called by her teammates, began playing competitive soccer several years ago with the Plant City Lancers and last year moved to the St. Petersburg Everton, a club team coached by former professional players. During the season, she has been able to successfully juggle practices and games between the Chargers and Everton while still keeping her grades up. After graduation, Lizbeth is undecided as to her career plans. If the decision were made today, she would train and study to be a firefighter.

Plant City High School

After three years as a starting outfielder for the Plant City Raiders baseball team, Micah Carmony is hoping this will be the year the Raiders compile their first winning season in more than twenty years. “I really think that we are going to have a great team this year. We’re really working hard getting ready for the season.” And no one works harder than Micah. According to his coaches, Micah’s work ethic and his quiet leadership has gained the respect of the younger players as the Raiders prepare for the upcoming season. As a freshman, Micah quickly became a starter and has remained a constant presence in the lineup ever since. He batted .292 in his first varsity season. He followed that with a .300 season as a sophomore. As a junior, his average dipped but his

power numbers improved. Of his sixteen hits, ten were for extra bases that led to a team leading twentythree runs batted in as he tied for the district lead in home runs with six. His mother, Cherry, a bookkeeper at Plant City High School and his father, a physical education coach at Bryan Elementary have led Micah’s support group. “My Mom has always been there for me and my Dad has helped coach me ever since I could remember all the way through youth baseball into high school,” Micah proudly said. Micah is active in his school’s FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and the Civitan Club. He also plays travel baseball in the off-season for the Florida Baseball Heaven’s Angels. Micah will be signing a letter of intent to play for the Polk State College Vikings next year.

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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


sports baseball

2418 James L Redman Pkwy, Plant City (813) 757-0300

Angels Fly to Victory By j o e b o w l e s

On December 13, the Florida Baseball Heaven Angels 16U team became the new Florida State champions of baseball with a victory over the defending state champions, the Tampa Warriors, in a 10-2 decision at Mike Sansone Park in Plant City. Nations Baseball, an organization whose headquarters are in Louisville Kentucky, sponsored the Florida State Tournament with nearly 100 teams from age 10-andunder through age 18-and-under competing in seven age group divisions. Clearwater was to be the sole host of the tournament, but because of the tournament’s size, the 16U division was moved to Plant City. With seven of the 13 Angels players from Plant City, the team felt that playing on their home field was a distinct advantage. The other Angels hail from Riverview, Frostproof, Lakeland, Winter Haven and Orlando. The tournament began on Saturday, December 12, as the Angels took on the Gulf Coast Dawgs in the first pool play game. The Angels scored six runs in the opening inning and added three more in their final two at-bats for a 9-2 victory. Dusty McClain pitched a five-hit complete game. Josh Baber, Dylan Ping and Evan Bowles collected two hits apiece. In the second game against the


december 2009

the bottom of the fifth inning and was rushed to the hospital with a broken nose that later required surgery. The Angels called on Dusty McClain to pitch a scoreless sixth inning. The team then exploded for five runs in the top of the seventh inning, extending their lead to 10-2. Bobby Mondoux closed out the game in the seventh, keeping the Warriors off the board as the Angels claimed the state title. The Warriors had their chances. Ten players reached first base. Two runners scored, one was eliminated via a double play, three were thrown out trying to steal by catcher Cody Smith and the others were stranded as the Angels played an errorless game.

finished off all three of their Brooksville Sharks, the Angels opponents while scoring an average broke open a 1-1 tie in the bottom of 15 runs per game. of the third inning with a six-run In the championship game, the outburst that included a grand Angels jumped to an early lead slam home run by Dylan Ping. T.J. scoring three runs in the first inPeterson and Keven Long held the ning. The Warriors countered with Sharks to three runs and five hits a run in the first and second inning as the Angels netted the Sharks closing the gap to one. The Angels 8-3. extended their lead 5-2 after five After the two pool games, the innings with a run in the fourth Tampa Warriors were awarded the and fifth innings. Pitcher Josh number one seed and the Angels Baber limited the Warriors to two were awarded the second seed. hits through five innings but had After the brackets were posted, the to be replaced on the mound when Angels were pitted once against he was hit at the plate by a pitch in the Brooksville Sharks, the team that they had defeated in the previous game. In the semifinal game on Sunday, Keven Long, T.J. Peterson, and J.J. Rivera each had two hits and Evan Bowles pitched a two-hitter as the Angels claimed a 7-1 victory. A final showdown with the Tampa “Angels claim Florida State Championship:” Front row from left to right- T.J. Peterson. Evan Bowles, John Hagan, Dusty McClain, J.J. Rivera, Cody Smith. Back row (L to R) - Bobby Mondoux, Coach Joe Bowles, Juan Mendoza, Coach Warriors was Demetrius Heath, Dylan Ping, Baziel Cabrera, Coach Mark Persails, Sergio Garcia, Keven Long, Coach Michael Ping, imminent as not pictured- Josh Baber. Photo by: Cheryl Smith the Warriors

Hometown Banking at its best!

Tom Poppell had a vision for the future of what was to be Hillsboro Bank. He served as the first Chairman of the Board, until his passing in October 1998. His mission was to establish a bank, built on relationships, just as he did his own business, Poppell Insurance. Mrs. Poppell, Mark and Jon continue to see the future with the only Plant City community bank. Hillsboro Bank is very proud to have had Mr. Poppell as a part of their success. Hillsboro Bank will continue into the future, all while remembering where they began.

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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


extra Seniors of the month


of the by C u r r i e D i ck e r s o n

Alexa McElveen

Whether involved in or out of school, Alexa McElveen shines as a responsible leader among her peers. The commitment she holds for others separates this high school senior from the average student, as she excels in every aspect of her life. A main focus of McElveen’s life is her service to the community. Over the past four years, she has been heavily involved in the local Junior Women’s Club, referred to as “Juniorettes.” The organization gives McElveen countless opportunities to serve, and opens many doors for her to benefit the area. Every year, the club helps raise a significant amount of funds for the Relay for Life cause, and towards causes benefiting diabetes/cancer research and treatment. Their efforts directly affected the life of one girl at PCHS, Emily Evans, who battled cancer last year. Along with her Juniorettes involvement, McElveen also participates in the Best Buddies program at PCHS as well as Big Brother Big Sister at Walden Lake Elementary School. In December, she visited with her “little sister” twice, and encouraged the young student to continue to practice her reading skills. “It makes me happy to know that I can help her with school as well as life,” McElveen shared regarding the special little girl. McElveen participates extensively as a leader throughout school activities as well. She has been a member of Student Council as a junior and now as a senior, and this year McElveen stepped into the role of being treasurer. She views the experience as a building block to her future, and realizes when working alongside a group that “It’s important that everyone does their own part.” McElveen also holds the position of vice president in the Students Against Destructive Decisions club and is a member of the Life is Good club. Not only is McElveen distinguished by her apparent leadership qualities, but also her reputation on the tennis court. She has played tennis on the PCHS team all four years of high school and has excelled as a reliable athlete. McElveen received the “Coaches Award” during her freshman and junior seasons, as well as the “Sportsmanship Award” during her sophomore season as a result of her efforts. McElveen has also been given the opportunity to improve the community with her love for the game of tennis and has helped coordinate the “Tennis Challenge 2 of Tampa Bay.” Hosted by Mayor Rick Lott, the function benefited the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, and attracted several professional tennis players to help raise money for the cause. McElveen served as the “ball girl” for the players on the court. Fitting into such a busy schedule, academics remain an important role in McElveen’s life. Currently, she is ranked in the top ten percent of her senior class, and is a member of the National Honor Society. “My school experience has been difficult and stressful at times, but I’ve learned that it has paid off in the end,” said McElveen. In the years ahead, she hopes to attend UCF, USF, or UF, and to major in either education or psychology. With her high school life coming to a close, McElveen influenced many individuals throughout this season of her life. Her abundance of experiences is guaranteed to aid in her success in college as well as in the years to come.


december 2009

Month Blair Butler

Each and every morning, Blair Butler greets the day with a screeching alarm clock shaking him out of his short-lived sleep at the early morning hour of 4 a.m. He is not headed to school or trying to get a head start on his breakfast, but this high school senior’s morning routine consists of a two hour swim practice. Dedicated to both this aspect of his life and his studies, Butler has learned to balance his priorities in order to achieve the dreams he holds for the future. Butler started his swimming career as a freshman at Plant City High School. After his obvious natural talent began to shine at the school’s practice, Butler decided to develop his skills at a swimming training facility in Brandon called Blue Wave. He has practiced and trained at Blue Wave ever since, and puts in ten practices a week, with two each day. Butler shared that his daily practices “are not fun, but I know I have to do it to get where I want to go.” Butler’s inspiration to dive into the pool began with his father, who swam as a college athlete. Butler admits that, “There is a little competition between me and him.” He has competed at the district and regional level all four years of high school, and this year accomplished the obstacle of making it to the Florida 3A State Finals, where he placed 10th in the “200 free” and 12th in the “500 free.” Still, Butler had more water to conquer, and also was given the opportunity to compete at the national level for the second time this year, where he place 75th out of hundreds of competitors in the one-mile race. Although exceptionally talented in the water, Butler demonstrates success in his academic studies as well. He is required to balance practice and homework during each week, and has attained a high-weighted 5.8695 GPA and an un-weighted 3.8695 GPA because of his efforts. Currently, Butler is an AP Scholar and is ranked ninth out of approximately 530 students in his senior class at PCHS. Out of all of his classes taken at the high school, Butler is partial to science, as the bulk of his senior class load demonstrates. As a freshman in 2006 he received the “Science Award,” and has followed this area of study ever since. As for Butler’s involvement in the community, he is still able to create time to minister to others. Over the last summer, Butler worked with the Special Olympics Organization to help train athletes in the swimming pool. He encouraged and inspired each swimmer to compete to the best of their ability, and accompanied the team to various meets throughout the summer. Butler also volunteers at the South Florida Baptist Hospital and many other organizations. Looking forward to the bright future ahead, Butler has many unfolding opportunities coming his way. So far, he has been accepted to Florida Atlantic University and Florida State University, but also applied to East Carolina University, where he was invited for a recruiting trip to view the swimming program. Butler desires to major in biological science and later possibly move to the field of dentistry. Butler’s achievements are merely a product of his passionate heart; a heart that will stop at nothing to succeed. “It’s nice to be recognized apart from all the other great students at PCHS. I’ve worked really hard for myself, and excited about my future,” Butler said. His progress in and out of the pool demonstrates his perseverance throughout every aspect of his life, and will carry him ahead to achieving his goals.



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ALL AVAILABLE THROUGH THE CENTER 303 North Alexander Street, Call 813-719-7705 for appts/consultations foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


sports fitness

Fitness Matters

Expert answers to your health and wellness questions S t o r y by S e’a R ya n

Question: What should I eat or drink if I only have an hour before a workout? Answer: What to eat before you exercise should be determined by timing and personal preference. A large meal takes 4-5 hours to digest, a smaller meal takes 2-3 hours, and a large snack takes 1-2 hours. If you don’t digest food well enough prior to an activity, you can end up with cramping. This often occurs because blood is shunted to your arms and legs during activity, thereby slowing down the digestive process. Therefore, if you only have an hour to fuel yourself, it would probably be best to stick with a liquid carbohydrate/ protein shake. Liquids are processed faster than solid foods and will provide the energy you need in a shorter timeframe. Consider having a sports nutrition shake that is designed for active individuals and athletes. If you want something lighter, a traditional sports drink would be an option as well. There are a number of products on the market in each category, so do some taste-testing to see which ones work best for you.


december 2009

Question: Do fad diets work? Answer: In short, yes… and no. Most research shows that fad diets do work, and some of them do so quite well. The dictionary defines “diet” as a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly to reduce one’s weight, so if the latest fad diet doesn’t elicit some sort of weight loss, it clearly won’t survive out on the market. The problem is that diets are short-term solutions to a longterm problem. They also tend to associate weight loss success with some gimmick when, in actuality, decreased calorie intake is usually the “real” reason for shedding the pounds. The way to lose weight and keep it off is through persistent behavior modification and lifestyle change. If you can make this type of commitment, you’ll be able to leave the fad diet books on the store shelves where they belong. About the author: Se’a Ryan has been dedicated to fitness her entire life focused on encouraging people to take charge of their own health. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at .

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


extra Al ruechel

“I knew it was bound to happen but it was still a shock. The price of a large box of popcorn, $8.25 was more than the cost of the movie, $8.00.”

Robbed at the theater! S u b m i t t e d by a l r u e c h e l

Gee. I went to the snack bar the other night and they tossed in a movie to boot! I knew it was bound to happen but it was still a shock. The price of a large box of popcorn, $8.25 was more than the cost of the movie, $8.00. And the soda was $6.75 for a large drink. To put it in perspective I can buy a 12-pack of microwave Act Two Extra Butter popcorn for under 5-dollars. I can get a twelve pack of soda for $4.60.


december 2009

I can buy the stinking movie in another two months or so for $14.00 and watch it over and over again. Heck, I’ll invite the neighbors over and give each of them a bag of popcorn and I still come out ahead verses the movie theater. And don’t tell me it’s the atmosphere that I crave. Standing in line for 20 minutes, my shoes sticking to the floor, listening to a psycho conversation between a teenybopper and either her boy

friend or a serial killer on the other end….. I felt used, abused, and ready to swear off live movies for good. Now, my wife just likes the idea of getting out and I do enjoy her company so from that perspective I must endure. Still, somewhere in my head the idea of paying $16-dollars for a two hour movie where I am forced to watch 20 minutes of commercials first just doesn’t sit well. Besides, now that we have a 52-inch LCD TV the lure of a better on screen experience goes out the window. Heck, my screen at home is so big my next door neighbors can watch it from their kitchen table with their window cracked just a tad to hear the sound from my Boss Surround Sound system. Sure, the theaters make nearly all their money on snacks and not much on their ticket sales. But come on, I felt like it was a shakedown- like I needed to take out a loan or something. Of course, I was hungry. Doesn’t everyone go to the seven o clock

show on an empty stomach? And it does take about four months before what shows up on the big screen makes it to my tube. And what about those seats? They are so soft and they rock back and forth unless the guy behind you is a 300-pounder. And sure, I love trying to pull up my feet enough under my chair so as not to have my toes smashed by the couple excusing themselves to the last empty seats in the theater. So there I sit! I’m hungry! I’m ticked at the prices. The previews give me a headache. Hollywood gets on a kick, like vampire movies, and then kills the fatted calf with cheap rip-offs. I’d be better off at home watching Shark Week reruns. At least then I have the satisfaction of knowing the blood in the water was from some poor sea creature and not from me being drained by the movie theaters. By the way, I loved “New Moon”. Yep, Vampire flick!

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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


extra Derek maul

The Promise of 2010 S u b m i t t e d by D e r e k M a u l

By the time this column runs, we’ll be well into the New Year. I’m a huge fan of new beginnings and – try as I might – I just can’t pull off the level of cynicism many people bring to the table when it comes to the idea of a fresh start. The problem with cynicism is that it’s pre-conclusive; it’s preemptive; it’s a frame of mind that decides ahead of time. Cynicism rules out serendipity because it won’t 96

december 2009

allow itself to be surprised by anything. My personal take on all things new is what I call the spirit of promise. It’s an orientation best illustrated with a quote attributed to Princeton religion professor Cornel West. “The categories of optimism and pessimism no longer exist for me,” West said. “I am a prisoner to hope.” “Faith,” the Bible tells us, “is the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11) Another denizen of promise was my Grandma Lily. When I was a child, there were two highlights to any visit. One was her remarkable storytelling; the other was the opportunity to forage in her “Promise Box.” There are over 3,000 promises in the Bible, and my grandmother had just about every last one of them in a box, rolled in tight little tubes of hope. They stood upright – like they would – and when we looked down all we could see was an enormous pattern of small circles. And so we’d open the box, taking the lid off carefully. Then, and with a kind of reverence, we’d pick up the pair of ivory-handled tweezers that always lay across the top. “Now pull out a promise,” Grandma would say; “And let’s read it together.” And we would: o The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut 31:8 NIV) o Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, “Here I am.” (Isaiah 58:9) o Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23) o The peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil

4:6-7) o But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27) Grandma Lily would make us memorize the promise, and then we’d put it away, carefully. Thus the promises of scripture became seared into our minds - and seeded into our subconscious - and became a part of who we were as children of light. I’m convinced that any New Year starts best when it is seeded with promise. There’s a very real sense in which what happens from this point on is dependent upon belief. The cynic says this: “I’ll believe it when I see some results.” But the cynic has already precluded promise by owning a world view that is wedded to unbelief. I’ll leave the last word on this to Jesus, who lived victoriously in the face of oppression, economic calamity, brutal persecution and certain death. “I have come into the world to be a light. No one who believes in me will stay in darkness. I don’t judge a person who hears my words but does not obey them. I didn’t come to judge the world. I came to save it.” – John 12:46-47 Me? I’m with my Grandma Lily and Jesus; I’m all about the light... – DEREK You can reach Derek Maul at, or visit


foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009



Buy a Memorial Brick to Honor a Veteran Plant City’s new Veterans’ Monument at Courier Field is allowing you the opportunity to commemorate our USA Veterans with an engraved memorial brick. Each brick will become a permanent part of history in Plant City! Memorial bricks are open to all veterans of the USA military services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Include the name, rank, branch of service and dates if they fit into the character limits of 15 characters per line. Payment enclosed:


Money Order

$150 Each Brick

Donor’s Name: Mailing Address: Phone Number:

Brick Engraving: 3 lines- 15 characters each line, including spaces and punctuation. PLEASE PRINT. Line 1 (15 characters) Line 2 (15 characters) Line 3 (15 characters) Send to: Plant City Armed Forces Memorials Foundation, Inc., PO Box 5013, Plant City, FL 33563-0036

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december 2009



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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


entertainment red rose

Creating art from a place of courage and intention Local Plant City artist garners attention on a worldwide scale. S t o r y by H e at h e r D av i s

Creating art and being an artist was never a question for Jesse Starr. It is a part of his being as much as breathing. If you are alive, you create. But the question was what direction would he go? So far, Starr has been able to allow his art to take him in various directions by tapping into many different avenues. He accredits this to his attitude of having the confidence that any project that is given to him, he will be able to accomplish and succeed. Starr admits he didn’t always have such confidence, but with each new endeavor, he has learned to approach it with strong intention. Much of this confidence comes from the

success that has come from being cocreator, along with Amanda Stevens, of a comic book known as the “Superhuman Experiment,” which is receiving not only nationwide, but also worldwide recognition. As the designer of the comic book, Starr has been traveling with Stevens to promote the project at various conventions and has even been approached by a well-known movie industry to turn “Superhuman Experiment” into a film. With the success this comic book has garnered, along with its message of empowerment, Starr has been able to use this as a springboard to affect other areas of his life and art. For the past three years, Starr

Jesse Starr shows one of his drawings, of actor Christopher Walken, before it sold. He used only ballpoint pens, and it looked like a photograph. Photo by Aaron Oberlin


december 2009

has been the co-owner, along with George Pulliam, of Starr Designs, a T-shirt design and screen-printing company. Recently, they relocated to a newly opened and renovated space in downtown Plant City, located at 107 E. Reynolds St. Designing original T-shirts that are custom made is one of Starr’s talents that he has been able to utilize with much success. At one time he sold more than 2,000 of one of his originally designed T-shirts within 24 hours over the Internet. He has plans to turn this endeavor into a business known as Happy’s Tee Shirt Company, also known as Zombie’s Tee Shirt Company. Starr is also a talented, self-taught graphic designer utilizing Adobe Photoshop

and other design programs. Last month Jesse was a featured guest artist at the Art Lounge Gallery in downtown Plant City, where he currently has on display several of his pen and ink drawings, which are also garnering much attention in their own right, with one creation being purchased by an art buyer as far away as Canada. This month, Starr is also the designer of the FOCUS cover, commemorating Plant City’s 125th Anniversary. It is evident that with such strong intention combined with courage and talent, there is no doubt that Starr will continue to astound us with his artistic endeavors.

Jesse Starr works on the cover of this month’s issue of FOCUS in his store, Starr Designs. Photo by Johnathan Davis

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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009




december 2009


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foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


dining profile

Nick’s Pizzeria & Wings Building a reputation one customer at a time A r t i c l e a n d P h o to s by Ly n n e Wa r r e n

From the slogan on the menu, it’s plain to see Nick’s Pizzeria & Wings aims to be a force to be reckoned with. “Building our Reputation One Customer at a Time” expresses exactly how owner Wayne Pappolla feels. The goal here is to provide Plant City Residents with a great variety of high quality food and excellent service at a reasonable price. Pappolla, raised in a family that was always involved in the pizza restaurant business in some capacity, spent much of his adult life working in a different industry requiring him to travel a great deal. Recently though, with the addition of a new family member – 13 month old Nicolas, the restaurant’s namesake – Pappolla and wife Cristiane, decided it was time for a career change. His restaurant roots calling to him, Pappolla, who loves the small town feel and people of Plant City, decided this would be a great place to start his new venture. Since opening, business has steadily grown and he has had to expand his hours and the menu twice to accommodate a growing group of loyal customers.

During my recent visit, the service was excellent and the food even better. I sampled several items from the menu including the scallops – a recently added item. They are available as part of the seafood platter, and were fresh and wonderful. I also had cheese pizza, spaghetti, wings, garlic knots and pineapple flavored Italian Ice. The pizza crust is made from scratch and hand-tossed in-house to create a great, New York style thin crust pizza. The spaghetti didn’t disappoint either, reminding me of homemade, which might be because all the sauces at Nick’s are made from scratch too. The wings were really fresh and tasty, and although I only tried the mild ones – I hear the medium and hot are also very good. In fact, the wings have made such an impression on Nick’s new patrons, the restaurant sold over 3 thousand of them over the three day New Year’s weekend. I have to say though, being a die-hard bread addict, my favorite thing was the garlic knots. Slathered in very light olive oil, with fresh garlic and spices, I can’t remember ever tasting any better.

L-R: Shelly Hamilton, Charlie Rogers, and owner Wayne Pappolla display the box used to hold to the 28” Party Monster pizza which barely fits through the door.

Pizza is available by the slice, and whole pizzas are offered in a variety of sizes ranging from a 10” personal size to the new 28” Party Pizza, affectionately nicknamed the Party Monster. Nick’s most popular sandwich right now is the Philly Cheese Steak with onions, peppers, and real American cheese. And, of course the pizza and wings are a hit with his customers. But don’t think of Nick’s as just a pizza and wing place. The menu is rather extensive, from seafood items, including grouper and fried shrimp, to Italian sausage, Cubans, and 100% beef burgers. Daily lunch and dinner specials are available, and there’s an

every day All-You-Can-Eat cheese pizza special for $5.95. Nick’s also has an ‘Under $5’ menu, and a kids menu. Coming from an Italian family, Pappolla has many of his grandmother’s dessert and bread recipes and plans to add some of those to the menu soon as well. So, if you’re looking for a great little place to have lunch or dinner, check out Nick’s. Located at 1707 James L. Redman Pkwy, next to Southern Hospitality, they have counter and table seating, as well as takeout and delivery. When asked about Nick’s delivery area, Pappolla responded “We deliver where the others don’t”.

Nick’s Pizzeria & Wings

Hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm Sunday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm 1707 James L. Redman Pkwy Next to Southern Hospitality 813-757-5900

Credit Cards accepted A few of the items served at Nick’s Pizzeria & Wings. Cheese pizza, spaghetti and scallops.


december 2009

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813-659-0886 foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


entertainment calendar saturdaY, JanuarY 30th

fridaY, JanuarY 15th

sundaY, JanuarY 17th

Red Rose Inn Richie Merritt (Marcels) w/PJ Leary Richie Merritt currently of The Marcels,formerly sang with The Clovers when we were inducted into THe Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002 and also sang on PBS DOO WOP 51 with The Clovers with PJ Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show

Red Rose Inn Sunday Champagne Brunch Enjoy complimentary mimosas with prime rib and Georgia peach glazed ham. Sweet potato casserole, crisp salad creations and a host of fanciful desserts! All this and the soothing live melodies of “Destiny”.

saturdaY, JanuarY 16th 4:00 PM - Strawberry Classic Car Show 4 - 9 PM. Car Show, Vendors, Local Antique Shops open, Live Music, and Great Commeraderie. Parking in North and South lots near the Depot, Drane, and Palmer. For more information call 813-763-3707. Location: Historic Downtown Plant City 1:00 p.m. 24th Annual Plant City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Parade Sponsored by Sunshine State Federal Savings & Loan Association Red Rose Inn Ralph Allocco and Second Wind 8:00 pm - Three hour Las Vegas style show! Adult Contemporary music including show tunes! JIM STAFFORD - A COMING HOME CELEBRATION w/PJ LEARY Jim Stafford in a coming home celebration with PJ Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show


december 2009

tuesdaY, JanuarY 19th 10:30 AM - Ribbon Cutting for The Craft Hair Studio Location: 1701 S. Alexander St, Ste 109

thursdaY, JanuarY 21st FOCUS Magazine Anniversary Party and Reader’s Choice Awards. 5:30pm-9pm Call for details 813-707-8783.

fridaY, JanuarY 22nd Red Rose Inn Ralph Allocco and Second Wind 8:00 pm - Three hour Las Vegas style show! Adult Contemporary music including show tunes!

saturdaY, JanuarY 23rd 2010 Baby Parade Registration Presented by GFWC PLANT CITY JUNIOR WOMAN’S CLUB, INC. held at the Plant City Jr. Woman’s Club from 8:00am -

11:00am Sign ups will be as follows: 1 year olds 8:00 am - 9:00 am 2 year olds 8:00 am - 9:00 am 3 year olds 9:00 am - 10:00 am 4 year olds 10:00 am - 11:00 am You are encouraged to come to the Saturday, January 23rd registration because spaces are limited to the first 50 children for each age group. Red Rose Inn Johnny Alston’s Motown Revue w/PJ Leary Johnny Alston’s Motown Revue. PJ Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show.

sundaY, JanuarY 24th Red Rose Inn Sunday Champagne Brunch Enjoy complimentary mimosas with prime rib and Georgia peach glazed ham. Sweet potato casserole, crisp salad creations and a host of fanciful desserts! All this and the soothing live melodies of “Destiny”.

thursdaY, JanuarY 28th 6:30 PM - Chairman’s Banquet Location: Red Rose Inn & Suites

fridaY, JanuarY 29th Red Rose Inn Ralph Allocco and Second Wind 8:00 pm - Three hour Las Vegas style show! Adult Contemporary music including show tunes!

Red Rose Inn LEGACY OF THE TEMPTATIONS REVUE Direct From Las Vegas’ Legacy of THE TEMPTATIONS REVUE with PJ Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show in the Ballroom Cover to Cover & Destiny Cover to Cover and Destiny in the Dining Room

sundaY, JanuarY 31st Red Rose Inn Sunday Champagne Brunch Enjoy complimentary mimosas with prime rib and Georgia peach glazed ham. Sweet potato casserole, crisp salad creations and a host of fanciful desserts! All this and the soothing live melodies of “Destiny”.

fridaY, februarY 5th Red Rose Inn Richie Merritt (Marcels) w/PJ Leary Richie Merritt currently of The Marcels,formerly sang with The Clovers when we were inducted into THe Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002 and also sang on PBS DOO WOP 51 with The Clovers with PJ Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show

saturdaY, februarY 6th Red Rose Inn BEATLE BEAT “TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES” W/PJ LEARY & THE DUKES A live music tribute to The Beatles. Beatle Beat features four talented musicians that recreate the look, style and sound of the most famous rock band in the world - The Beatles. The Dukes Doo Wop Show backed

entertainment calendar wednesdaYs Come to the Red Rose Inn and Suites for a prime rib and seafood buffet and enjoy live music. The Red Rose is located at 2011 N. Wheeler St. Call (813) 752-3141 for more information. by PJ Leary and The Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show in the Ballroom! Ralph Allocco and Second Wind 8:00 pm - Three hour Las Vegas style show! Adult Contemporary music including show tunes!

saturdaY, februarY 6th 5:00 PM - Bike Fest 5-9 PM. Motorcycle Show, Contest, Vendors, Live Bands and tons of fun. Main Stage at the Depot (Palmer/Drane)Call 813754-3707 for more information. Location: Historic Downtown Plant City

wednesdaY, februarY 10th 7:30 AM - Contact Breakfast 7:30-9:00 AM. Membership Breakfast. Each month with a differnt sponsor, speaker, good egg, and a cashpot drawing. Location: Red Rose Inn & Suites Ball Room

thursdaY, februarY 11 The Friends of the Bruton Memorial Library Present Chris Kahl “A Modern Florida Troubadour” At our General Membership Meeting 7:00PM Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon Street Plant City, Florida 33563 (813) 757-9215 This event is free and open to the public. Door prize drawing at the conclusion of meeting.

saturdaY, februarY 13th Red Rose Inn BILL HALEY’S COMETS, LOLA & THE SAINTS, PJ LEARY also CLAY COLE Bill Haley’s Comets in a Supper Club Atmosphere in the Ballroom for a romantic Valentine Dinner Dance. PJ Leary & the Las Vegas Sounds will open and close the show with special guests, Lola & The Saints. Also, 50’s and 60’s dance program host and DJ, Clay Cole will appear and sign copies of his latest book. Ralph Allocco and Second Wind 8:00 pm - A Romantic Valentine Dinner and three hour Las Vegas style show! Adult Contemporary music including show tunes!

sundaY, februarY 14th Red Rose Inn Ralph Allocco and Second Wind 8:00 pm - A Romantic Valentine Dinner and three hour Las Vegas style show! Adult Contemporary music including show tunes!

ongoing: mondaYs Dancer Susan Staton is giving dance lessons from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Red Rose Inn and Suites. Cost is $10 per person. Call (863) 604-5060 to schedule a session. The Red Rose is located at 2011 N. Wheeler St. Call (813) 752-3141 for more information.

The Plant City Garden Club meets at 10 a.m. on the second Monday of every month. For meeting location, call Cassandra Banning at (813) 759-1638. American Business Women’s Association has a meeting at 11:45 a.m. / on the last Monday of every month at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, which is located at 1205 Townsgate Court. For more information, call Annie Carapezza at (813) 707-1221. East Hillsborough Art Guild has a meeting at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of every month. It is in sanction with the GFWC Woman’s Club, which is located at 1110 N. Wheeler St. Call Leo Watson at (813) 719-6533 for more information.

HR Plant City meets at noon on the third Wednesday of every month at the Red Rose Inn and Suites, which is located at 2011 N. Wheeler St. Call Janet Kelly at (813) 754-5997 for more information. The Improvement League of Plant City meets at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at 911 E. Warren St. Call Henry Johnson at (813) 7674374 for more information.



The Red Rose Inn and Suites is hosting Singles Night Out beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event includes happy hour, a dance contest, music and more. The Red Rose is located at 2011 N. Wheeler St. Call (813) 752-3141 for more information.

Arts Council of Plant City meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month, September through May. Meeting is in the Chamber of Commerce Public Meeting Room at 106 N. Evers St. Call Maggie Carlisle at (813) 752-6133.

GFWC Plant City Juniorettes, which is for girls ages 12 through 18, meet at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month. The GFWC Clubhouse is at 1110 N. Wheeler St. Call Nia Ramo at (813) 754-2916 for more information.

Come to the Red Rose Inn and Suites for a prime rib and seafood buffet and enjoy live music. The Red Rose is located at 2011 N. Wheeler St. Call (813) 752-3141 for more information.

Toastmasters International meets at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday at the Chamber of Commerce Public Meeting Room, which is at 106 N. Evers St. Call Stan Reynolds at (813) 309-0269 for more information.

GFWC Woman’s Club of Plant City meets at 10:30 a.m. on second Tuesday of every month at the GFWC Clubhouse, which is located at 1110 N. Wheeler St. Call Lynn Connor at (813) 4781474 for more information.

Plant City Federated Republican Women’s Club meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month at the Red Rose Inn and Suites, which is at 2011 N. Wheeler St. Call Diane MartinJohnson at 813-986-4554 for more information.

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009


entertainment crossword

By The Book P r o v i d e d by C a lv i n & J a ck i e M at h e w s

It is never to early to think about your Sweet Heart Call today to order owers for Valentines Day

February 14

P.S. I Love You

813-754-1212 116 W. Alsobrook Street Plant City, Fl 33563


december 2009

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009



december 2009

foCUS Magazine Plant City december 2009



Chris, Annie & Jimmy Carapezza

New Homes  Kitchen and Bathroom Remodel  Room Additions  Roofing Swimming Pools  All phases of Construction

One Call Does It All Family Owned and Operated Since 1985 Builder License #CBC-059203 • Roofing License #CCC-057919

813.707.1221 Swimming Pool License #CPC-057274

FOCUS PC 09-01 January 2010  

FOCUS Magazine, Plant City 2010

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