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2 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 5

table of contents Issue 8-1 - January 15 – February 15, 2009

Editor in chief Aaron Oberlin

Battling a disease can be difficult for some people to handle. So when a person’s peers help out, it makes the fight easier. A young girl at First Baptist Preschool went through a scenario similar to that mentioned above. Her story is in the local section.

Office Manager Dede Floyd Credit Manager Holly Dedon Sales Sophia Hyde Tammy Simpson Adrienne Plati Christine Miller Lynne Warren April Lubrano Collette Baker

The Christmas parade brings thousands of people to Historic Downtown Plant City every year. Find out how much the parade means to one family and its children. Also, for more information on the parade, watch episode 15 on FocusTV at thefocusmagazine. com.

Production Coordinator Susan Riff Production Anthony Sassano Joe Pellegrino Jamie Konet

In February, Plant City resident Betty Salyers will celebrate her 104th birthday. Read about a life filled with interesting stories.

Distribution Doug McGee Belva DeVane Photographers Suzanne Gallagher Billy Friend Lori Blaser



The National FFA Organization is one that many people in Plant City know about. The organization is heavily involved in not only the city, but also the country, teaching children about things related to agriculture. Knowledge about agriculture, however, is not the only thing it instills in America’s youths. It also develops a virtue that will help FFA members in their future: leadership.

Spotlight interview


Kristen Smith is the 2008 Strawberry Queen. With the title comes a lot of responsibilities that she committed to for the duration of a year. She also had a fun time as the queen and hanging out with her court. With it being 2009, the time to pass her crown is approaching. But first, she talked about her year, as the queen, with FOCUS.

sports & fitness


The high school football season is finished, and in the making of the season, a lot of memories were made. One of the biggest games of the year is Plant City High School’s homecoming game. Its final score wasn’t the result the faculty and student body were looking for, but it was a great night nevertheless.

dining & entertainment


Many people love barbecue. Actually, many people just plain love food. Rick’s Meats has several choices of food for everyone. It has traditional cuts of meat, and it has less popular cuts such as gator, buffalo and venison. Also, for anyone who needs to savor their barbecue cravings, next door to the Rick’s Meats is Smokin’ Joe’s Barbeque.

Publisher Mike Floyd Associate Publisher Joel Cook



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

Staff Writers Ruchelle Owens Cole Dodd Tracy Cox Kasey Miller Carolyn Miller Brian West Joe Bowles Krystel Knowles



Marshall Sewell photo by S. Gallagher

Business Profile Finance Success Home Guide Walden Lake Review Mortgage Real Estate Local History Seniors of the Month Al Ruechel Artist of the Month Event Calendar Crossword

62 64 66 71 76 78 80 96 100 102 112 114 116

contributors Al Ruechel Bruce Rodwell Gil Gott Sherry Nueesch JoAn Lusk Nate Davis Natalie Sweet Editorial Intern Kevin Tall

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.

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6 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

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A key component to excelling at any endeavor is good leadership. The virtue can lead an average football team to a winning season, a small business to a lucrative year, and a sizable country to a world superpower. The United States is currently undergoing important changes, and it will need laudable leadership to forge the country ahead into the upcoming decades. Which economic plan is the best? Who is going to be in charge of what? How to mend relationships with other countries? These are all important questions that the nation’s leaders will need to resolve. When the founding fathers of the U.S. started debating about what kind of government would best suit the country, they engaged in debate – sometimes filled with vitriol. To do so, they couldn’t be afraid of what others thought, they needed to be well-informed, and they needed to be able to speak well in front of others – some characteristics of a leader. There is an organization, which has a strong presence in Plant City, teaching the virtues mentioned above. The National FFA Organization teaches leadership, growth and success through agricultural education. Even Rick Lott, the mayor of Plant City, credits the organization with equipping him with skills that he uses often: “I utilize the very same techniques and procedures, in our city council meetings, that FFA taught me,” he said. FFA has impacted several people and business owners in the community. You can read about them and their leadership roles in this month’s feature story: “FFA Builds Leaders.” Plant City is filled with leaders. For example, 2008 Strawberry Queen Kristen Smith sets good examples for young ladies everyday. She goes to many community events, and eyes are on her at all times; and that’s a good thing because, through her actions, she is leader for many young women and girls. She spoke to FOCUS about her tenure as the Strawberry Queen in this month’s Spotlight interview. Enjoy.

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10 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009


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january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 11


it was party time during Joe williams’ christmas party, which was for family and friends on Dec. 6, 2008. Guests enjoyed barbecue and other fine foods at the celebration. williams collected gifts for a donation to toys for tots foundation.

the members of the take Off Pounds sensibly club chapter #178 of Plant city recently donated toys for christmas to the children of the shriner’s hospital, in tampa. thank you.

the Merle norman cosmetic studio hosted a naughty & spice holiday open house Dec. 4. the first 100 guests received a free gift. Patrons could enjoy food while relaxing and listening to music. visitors were also able to sample the company’s cosmetics. 12 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

25 years of Service Celebrated was celebrated nov. 14, 2008, when plant City high School recognized tommy warnock for his 25 years spent serving as chaplain for the pChS football team. the athletic booster club presented warnock with a plaque to commemorate his dedication to the community. pictured are booster club president balliet, warnock’s daughter, brooke, and wife, pam, tommy warnock, athletic director trent hobbs and principal Colleen richardson.


talK oF the toWn

there are all kinds of ways to give back to those in need, and the south Florida baptist hospital is getting creative with its philanthropy in the form of competition. Jack vasconcellos and James leheup have been going at it the last two months. in november, the two squared off at wall climbing, and recently on Dec. 19, the two ran a 60-yard dash in the south Florida baptist hospital parking lot to benefit the united way. For the time being, vasconcellos remains undefeated against leheup, going 2-0. the sprint raised $90 for the united way, which south Florida baptist hospital employees contributed by buying tickets. vasconcellos and leheup each had there own box, and those who purchased tickets put a ticket in the box of the person they thought would win the race. A ticket later was pulled from the box, and susie Prescott won an iPod. south Florida baptist hospital’s altruistic actins are a win-win for everyone – some got to watch an entertaining race, one Check out the coverage lucky individual won an iPod, on FOCUSTV at and the united way received donations. Click on Episode Fifteen

tampa Electric company and the united Food bank of Plant city want you to come enjoy the 007 celebrity chef Dinner, an evening with chef Jon Ashton, on saturday, Feb. 7 at the hillsborough community college trinkle center. the charismatic, british chef has been on the tonight show with Jay leno and appears regularly on the tODAy show. According to his web site, www., he is the in-house chef for relish Magazine. the event begins with a viP reception at 6 p.m. Dinner is scheduled for 7 p.m. individual tickets cost $75. Proceeds from the event will benefit the united Food bank of Plant city. For more information, call Kelleigh Klein at (813) 764-0625. donate blood today Florida blood services wants your blood. the staff of the Plant city donor center invites you to come in and donate a pint of blood. As part of national blood Donor Month, each donor in January will receive a coupon for a free pound of coffee from Fbs partner Dunkin Donuts. Dan Eberts of Fbs had this to say: “i think blood banks in general are sort of the universal charity. Most of us don’t think about needing blood, but the statistics show that, in our lifetimes, 90 percent of us will need blood or blood component. if we’re not one of those people, if we’re lucky enough never to need it, someone we know and love will. that’s why people that are healthy and can give blood need to do so.” the Plant city donor center is located at 1902 James l. redman Pkwy. call (813) 752-7638 for hours or to make an appointment.

Kevin Tall, an editorial assistant at FOCUS Magazine, gave blood to the Florida Blood Services in Plant City. Photo by Aaron Oberlin

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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 15


around toWn

a chIlD’s cheMotheraPY sIDe effects UnIte class a yOUng girl UndergOeS the hardShipS OF a rare diSeaSe. s t o ry by l a n a S O M e r lO t t

Four-year-old Alanis “Nani” Quiles was a playful, cheerful child until a simple cold temporarily changed everything. The precious daughter of Jose Quiles and Madeline Maldonado and the sister of Elat, Adriana, and her twin sister Arianis, Nani showed signs of an “abnormal” fever in May of 2007. She simply would have a fever one day, and the following day she was fine. This symptom was repetitive, and besides having consistent fevers, Nani did not want to play, refused to eat, and wanted to do nothing more than lay in her bed. “We would take her to Chuck

E. Cheese’s, McDonald’s, almost everywhere to cheer her up. We hoped she would show signs of happiness,” said Madeline about her daughter’s actions. Realizing something wasn’t right, Madeline took Nani to a pediatrician, who ordered blood work and sent them to the labs. The lab results concluded something was wrong: renal failure, which is when the kidneys fail to function adequately. Her pediatrician told Madeline to take Nani to the hospital immediately. The hospital ran more tests, and the doctors told Madeline that Nani was 3 percent anemic. They decided to keep Nani in the hospital for several days.

Nani Quiles, who is wearing a Santa hat, enjoys playing on the playground at First Baptist Learning Center and Preschool with her friends. Photo by Aaron Oberlin

16 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

She was then referred to a hospital in Orlando, where there was a doctor who specialized in nephrology. The doctors ran more tests, which showed that Nani had a rare disease: Goodpasture’s syndrome. Goodpasture’s syndrome is when the immune system attacks a particular antigen that is found in the kidney and the lung, the Goodpasture antigen. Madeline said the doctors concluded that only 8 percent of her kidneys were working and that her immune system was attacking her kidneys. “When we were told, we called all our family in Puerto Rico and they all came to Nani’s side in Orlando,” said Madeline. Luckily, Nani’s family was told some good news: the disease was treatable. Although it is not a type of cancer, Goodpasture’s syndrome can be treated with chemotherapy. Nani started treatment in June 2007,

and received several sessions until January 2008. She currently receives chemotherapy every three months, since she was responding so well to the treatments. Unfortunately, Nani’s hair began to fall out as a result of the treatments. “I put everything in God’s hands. I prayed. Then God made a miracle,” said Madeline. “Everything is in control now.” Nani’s condition improved substantially from the treatments and her kidneys are working at 64 percent. Nani currently attends First Baptist Learning Center and Preschool in Plant City, where she loves to play with her baby dolls and enjoys playing in the home living section in her classroom. She also loves to play with her best friends, Emma and Cade. When the school first learned of her condition, Kim Shouse, the director of the preschool, sent letters home with the other parents of the 4-year-old classroom to inform them about Nani’s condition and to let everyday be a hat day to help Nani feel accepted among her peers. So all of the students at Nani’s school began to wear a hat. “This was a good experience for the children,” said Shouse. “We read stories about children with different disabilities. This showed the kids that they may all look different on the outside, but they’re the same in the inside. Nani is an excellent student. She’s conscious about her work. Everyone loves Nani. She’s always willing to help. Nani is also someone I can count on no matter what,” said Diane McDonald, Nani’s preschool teacher. Now with the help and positive outlook of Nani’s parents, doctors, teachers and the neighborhood community, she can live a long, successful future. Her hair is growing back, and some of the children occasionally wear a hat to class in her honor.


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january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 17


around toWn

Mackenzie Jenkins and Alyssa Dessoye split the narrative role of Lead Player, made famous on Broadway by Ben Vereen. Photo courtesy of Van Frost

three schools PerforM PlaY s t o ry by r U C h e l l e O w e n S

In late November, students from Plant City, Durant and Newsome high schools wowed audiences with their performance of “Pippin,” a play written by Steven Schwartz (producer of Godspell and Wicked) that was performed for 11 years on Broadway. The students performed the play again at Tomlin Middle School’s auditorium Dec. 11 – 14. Pippin is a coming-of-age tale about a boy who feels that he is extraordinary and that life holds something more for him. In his quest, he meets the Lead Player, the narrator of the tale, who befriends Pippin. Throughout the course of the play, Pippin must learn to recognize real friendship and identify how to make correct choices in life. In this particular presentation, the role of the Lead Player was split between two students, Mackenzie Jenkins from Durant and Alyssa Dessoye from Newsome. Pippin is played by Chris Tousignany from Durant. Durant Drama director Ed Mason even makes a cameo as Charlemagne. Steve Austin, Newsome’s Drama director, marvels the students’ work ethic, amazed at the “three troupes’ ability to get along.” 18 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Students rehearsed approximately five hours a week every night and all day on weekends for three months. Not only did they rehearse lines, but they also helped turn Tomlin’s stage into a powerfully-visual setting of various backdrops, including a spinning sun and a 12-foot stained-glass Jesus. “The special effects are off the charts. This was a huge, huge undertaking,” said Van Frost, PCHS theater director. After the initial performance, Frost made more than four pages of changes and redid three major dances with a new choreographer, to “make a good show better.” The passion for excellence was crucial, because on Dec. 12, a state theater judge watched the performance. If selected, the troupe will be going to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in April to compete in the Florida State Thespian Festival. With about 7,000 people attending and only eight shows chosen, it would truly be an honor. “Getting to state would be the icing on an already sweet cake,” said Austin.


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january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 19


around town

PLANT CITY RESIDENTS GROOM EQUINE EVENTS S t o ry by C a r o ly n M i l l e r

There are a few horsemen in Plant City, but few have the drive and determination of residents John Porter, a local real estate agent and history buff, and his wife, Erika, a professor of marketing at the University of Tampa. They recently organized an event for people to compete in horse driving trials. John has worked with horses since he was a small boy in Illinois, driving a mule team on his grandfather’s farm, but it wasn’t until he met his wife 10 years ago that his love for horses and history started a hobby that would fill both their lives. He said he started living history after his marriage to Erica. His love for era recreations began, and now he reenacts Civil War battles and performs in jousting competitions. His horses are mainly rescues,

some from the track, some from terrible conditions where they are left to starve in a pasture. That’s where he met Gawaine, a thoroughbred that nearly starved to death, weighing a meager 400 pounds – normal horses weigh about 1,200 pounds – when he was rescued. It didn’t take long to rehabilitate him, and within six months he was showing at the Welsh Breed Show at the Fairgrounds. Then the Porters got another call. It was a vet in Texas who had found Gawaine’s half brother, Trevor. Same scenario, he was starved and never properly broken. He was grossly underweight too, and it took a year to get him back to the proper weight for a horse. Not to mention, he was only halter broke, he had never took a saddle or even been handled.

20 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

It took a tremendous amount of love and devotion to make him workable, and with a friend’s Belgium, the Porters started working on him with a carriage. Then they put the two horses together in a combined driving event and have been doing it ever since. “They looked like they had been [pulling carriages] their entire lives,” said John, beaming with pride. There are many stories about horses becoming fantastic driving horses. To get started in competition, it takes an investment between $2000 and $3000, said John. He and Erica are quick to point out that other competitors are helpful, with many lending or selling older equipment just to help someone get started. They say, however, it is best to get some training before starting – too many people and horses can get hurt. “Horse wrecks [with individuals] are bad, but carriage wrecks are disastrous,” said John.

There are lots of clinics available so that both horses and drivers can get the proper experience they need to compete. There are lots of complex moves and rules that aren’t apparent to the casual observer. There is dressage, there is a marathon-trot-walkhazard and there is a road and track competition. There are one-horse, two-horse and tandem carriages. To score competitors, a rating system of 0-10 scores accuracy and memorized figures and movement. It takes an obedient horse to do some of the events. “It’s a family affair,” Erika said. “You can get husbands and wives involved, kids, grandparents, unlike individual events such as jumping or hunting competitions.” People can use any breed of horse unlike other competitions, and that’s why rescues work so well. People can have miniatures, draft horses, anything.


around town

Children lined Collins Street, which had barricades to protect spectators, to watch the Christmas parade. Photo by Billy Friend

CHRISTMAS PARADE MAKES MEMORIES FOR SEVERAL OF PLANT CITY’S YOUTHS Tragedy couldn’t sway floats from parading through Historic Downtown Plant City. S t o ry by T r a c y L . C ox

Christmastime means as many different things to a young boy as there are lights in the McCall Park holiday decorations. He dreams of receiving gifts of the latest electronic gadgets, video games and sports jerseys of his favorite teams. He also looks forward to his family’s long-held holiday

traditions, as does Jake McElveen, 11-year old son of Phil and Vicki McElveen. Jake, a sixth grader at Tomlin Middle School, was relieved to know that he would get to see the annual Plant City Christmas Parade on Dec. 19 after city officials canceled the original parade date of Dec. 5, due to a police


manhunt for a slaying suspect. Since he was old enough to point and exclaim, “There’s Santa!” his parents have brought him to Historic Downtown Plant City to see the big man arrive in his top secret way each year as he brings up the end of the parade procession, which was in the bed of a pickup truck this year. As a veteran parade onlooker, Jake was showing the ropes to his niece, Jordan Willey, 2-year old daughter of his big sister, Jamie Willey, as he scored candy and beads from the parade participants. Jake gave the beads he was collecting, as the parade passed by, to Jordan, who was now old enough to fully appreciate the sights and sounds of the many lighted floats, decorated pickup trucks and school bands playing everyone’s favorite Christmas songs. “Jordan just loves jewelry, and she thought the beads were something. She is very girly, girly,” said proud nana Vicki McElveen. In addition to his mother and niece, Jake also brought along his other big sister, Mandy Nichols and her 3-year old son, Nik, and Jordan’s older brother, Dylan, a 7-year old second grader at Walden Lake Elementary School. Unfortunately, his father, Phil, was on a business trip and was not able to hang out as usual with his family at their favorite parade watching spot, which is in front of the Lights of Love Christmas tree in McCall Park, located on North Collins Street, where they return to each year to munch on hot dogs, wings



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and fries from a parade vendor as they wait for the parade to begin. While the 25th annual parade was a smaller version due to prior commitments by some of the Christmas floats and school bands to other area holiday parades before the rescheduling of the annual Plant City event, there were still plenty that Jake enjoyed seeing. “It was shorter this year, I wish it could have been longer,” said Jake. “My favorites were the baton throwers and the Huskie dogs.” It is always fun to see familiar people, too. “I saw my friend, Taylor Michael, on her float,” said Jake referring to the winner of the 2008 Little Miss Plant City pageant, which is sponsored annually by the Plant City Junior Woman’s Club. Around the corner, strategically located in front of a downtown Italian eatery on East Reynolds Street to watch the parade, was Kaitlyn Ammon, an 8-year old third grader at Walden Lake Elementary School, and her family members, including her mother, Pam, great-grandmother, Marlene Gehringer, younger sisters, Gabi and Emi, and her little brother, Drew. “My favorite part was getting the coupons and stickers from the people wearing ‘I Love Cici’s’ T-shirts,” said Kaitlyn about the area pizza restaurant. “I liked the Huskie dogs dressed up with Christmas leggings, too.” 101 South Alexander Street


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When Johnathan Weaver was in 5th grade, a neighbor took him up in a plane. It was on these trips that Weaver’s love of flying was developed, catapulting him into a series of events that are helping to make his childhood dream of becoming a pilot a reality. Calling himself “obsessed” in middle school to get to college, he did his best, involving himself in various roles of leadership. A 2007 Durant graduate, Weaver served as cadet group commander in ROTC, and was on student government. He also participated in National Honor Society, the swim team and drama. Desiring to enroll in one of the prestigious military academies, Weaver began the grueling pursuit of a nomination, a requirement for application. This can only come from either a U.S. representative, senator, the vice-president, or the president. Passing the interview process, Weaver received two nominations. He was one of 10 people in his district nominated by Sen. Mel Martinez for the Air Force Academy and West Point. He was also one of only

10 people in the state nominated by Sen. Bill Nelson, a feat Weaver calls “an added bonus.” Already receiving his letter of assurance from the Air Force Academy, he went to interviews with this “arsenal,” knowing that one nomination guaranteed a full-paid $380,000 admission. Weaver will graduate from the Air Force Academy in 2011 as a 2nd Lieutenant, with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He will then serve a five-year commitment, 10 if he flies. Flying as a fighter pilot, “preferably F-15s or F-16s,” is his ultimate goal. Weaver would like to become a commercial pilot after his 10-year tenure is finished. If unable to fly, then he is already preparing a backup plan: to get his MBA and venture into the business realm. It is this steadfast drive and desire that has brought him this far, and is what is helping him cope with the rigorous schedule of the academy. “The Air Force makes you realize that you can do a whole lot more than you thought you were capable of,” he said.

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Children and teenagers get involved in fun activities at iWait events. These children took a break from a flag football game. Photo courtesy of iWait

THE BEST THINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR Abstinence program in Plant City educates youths about how to fight peer pressure for pre-marital sex. S t o ry by L i n d a L aw so n

Sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and heartache are just a few reasons to wait. iWAIT is Plant City’s Pregnancy Care Center’s outreach to young people. The program is geared for 6th grade and up and encourages parents to get involved in their youngsters’ lives in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STD’s by offering proven tools for transforming attitudes and behaviors of teens about premarital sex. According to statistics from the 26 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Florida Department of Health’s Web site, (, by 12th grade, 62 percent will have had sexual intercourse. Twenty-five percent will have contracted sexually transmitted diseases, and 20 percent of girls will have been pregnant. Since the year 2000, 118,700 teenagers in Florida between the ages 15 and 19 have become pregnant, according to 2004 Florida Vital Statistics. The same year, teenagers accounted for more than a third of all continued on next page>


continued FroM Page 26

STD cases in the state of Florida, it is imperative that we team with our according to Florida’s Department of parents and communities to equip Health’s Bureau of Sexually Transour youth with the skills and knowlmitted Disease. edge necessary to increase their abilParental involvement is strongly ity and capacity to develop healthy encouraged. Be available to talk to relationships now and healthy maryour teens. Treat each other with reriages in the future.” spect and trust. Listening and comMedically based, the iWAIT curmunicating about movies, opinions, ricula promote healthy relationships friends and school is vital. Even if and have resulted in reducing teen parents have made poor sexual desex by 47 percent versus a comparicisions when they were young, that son group that did not receive the should not keep them from guidprogram. More than 2,500,000 stuing their teen to dents nationwide healthier decisions. completed “Today’s youth are have It’s always better to the program. It is learn from some- bombarded with the completely volone else’s mistakes untary. With peer than to make them ideas that premarital pressure what it suffer the conseis today, students quences. sexual activity is the are taught refusal Dana Landers, skills. project director expected norm. The Middle school and relationship programs offered educator at Plant problem is that many are as follows: City’s iWAIT, said the Best of these ideas come Choosing “Plant City High Way for grade 6, School and Durant from influences that Choosing the Best High School are Path for grade participating in the forget to mention 7(Path also availprogram. There are able in Spanish), several other local Choosing the Best the physical, clubs and groups Life for grade 8. mental, emotional, that meet reguHigh school larly.” programs: Choossocial and spiritual ing the Best JourLanders went on to say, “The ney for grades consequences of purpose of the 9-10, Choosing the iWait Project is to teen sexual activity.” Best Soul Mate for strengthen today’s grades 11-12. youth and tomorP a r e n t s , Dana Landers row’s families by Schools, church providing relationpre-teen and teen ship education classes to 6th-12th groups, and clubs are encouraged to grade youths, facilitating teen/peer call iWAIT for more information and mentoring clubs and youth summer a brochure. For an overview of the presentations, offering parent preprogram, log onto the Florida Desentations and collaborating with the partment of Health Web site at greatcommunity to promote community awareness. Today’s youth are bomiWait. Program Contact Information barded with the ideas that premarital Dana Landers, project director and sexual activity is the expected norm. relationship educator The problem is that many of these 110 East Reynolds Street, Suite 300 ideas come from influences that forPlant City, FL 33811 get to mention the physical, mental, (813) 659-0886 emotional, social and spiritual conWeb site: sequences of teen sexual activity. So



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St. Nick’s Got Nothin’ On Henry Kitt A local man exemplifies the true meaning of the holidays. S t o ry by E l i z a b e t h E d wa r d s

Each year, Christmas lovers around the world cringe at the sight of each new holiday advertisement that is seen or heard hundreds of times throughout the season to be jolly. The possession-driven, technology-filled world seems to diminish the true meaning of the holiday season more with every passing year, and most just let the almighty dollar and all the worry that surrounds that tiny piece of paper ruin what means most during Christmas: giving. Of those people, Henry Kitt stands apart in a class all his own. Henry has worked at the Walden Lake Golf and Country Club for more than 20 years. During this time, he has acquired friends and family

that make his days worth living. Henry is the irrigation technician for the country club and knows the 36-hole course like the back of his own hand. Henry, however, stands out from the rest through a Christmas tradition that has lifted the hearts and spirits of children and adults alike for many years past. Co-workers at the country club like Sheree Lewison say “he is a wonderful human being,” plainly put. His ritual beyond a doubt signifies the true meaning of the holidays. Every Christmas, Henry chooses a number of children – usually between 25 and 30 – that he has either taken into his home to care for until their parents are able to and children that aren’t fortunate to have a Christ-

Henry Kitt helps give a memorable Christmas to children every year. Photo courtesy of Henry Kitt

28 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

mas. He then finds out what the children need for Christmas and includes this along with their sizes and gender on a cardboard cutout that he hangs on a Christmas tree in the pro shop of the country club. Members of the club then choose how many children their budget allows and buy them one item that they need, as well as one that they would likely wish for. A year has never gone by where a name remained on the tree before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Henry and his family gather the children together at his home in Plant City and give them the Christmas that every child deserves. They assemble the multitude of gifts left by the generous people who chose names and pass them out to the bright-eyed bunch of tots. While no Christmas is complete without a feast fit for a king, Henry does not leave the children disappointed. Estranged to many other children out there, the kids decide

the evening’s menu with anything they want from ham to hamburgers. Last year’s entrée of choice was hot dogs, which they happily gobbled up outside while they played with their newfound treasures from strangers that wanted to make someone smile. What success. So to anyone who believes in the Ebenezer Scrooge-approach to the holiday season, or those that have to have that extra little something for themselves due to all the work they’ve been doing this year, take a step back. Anyone who doesn’t really need a brand new dress for New Year’s Eve, or if their TV is big enough the way it is, then follow in the footsteps of Henry Kitt and give time and care to someone next December who otherwise wouldn’t know the joys that can so easily be taken for granted during Christmas and New Year’s. Love, friendship and giving.

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When people hear “Metropolitan Ministries,” many of them associate it with food and shelter for the homeless, and rightfully so. On Dec. 13, Metropolitan Ministries accepted food and toy donations in Plant City at Ferman Chrysler from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The organization then returned Dec. 20 – 23 and distributed “Boxes of hope,” which contained a complete holiday meal

for 714 families. Children received “Bags of Joy,” containing two toys and a stocking stuffer. During the four days of distribution, 200 volunteers offered their time and labor of love. DeeDee Mathes, Plant City coordinator, said, “A man who came to register didn’t want to ask for help, he was very uncomfortable. In the continued on next page>


continued FroM Page 30

course of getting his information, we discovered that he had lost his job two weeks prior and his wife had left him with four young children the week before. Needless to say, we were thrilled to help him. He left with tears in his eyes and we wiping some out of ours.” There’s so much more to this nonprofit organization than food and shelter. According to its Web site, Metropolitan, the organization houses approximately 140 homeless people at any given time. Many are families – some with a single parent, some with two parents and some are grandparents raising their grandchildren. Metropolitan Ministries also has a K-5 charter school where teachers can deal with the struggles of homeless children. The organization offers classes to homeless adults, as well. Anger, money, behavior management, parenting and self-esteem classes are offered. Education and literacy are key components of getting a parent on track. A tool for helping people become financially stable is Metropolitan Ministries’ Career Development Center, which is based in Tampa. It provides adult and teen residents training for Microsoft software programs, résumé writing, employment search skills, tutoring in math and English grammar skills needed to pass the GED test, GED classes and full-service employment lab. So, who cares? That’s Tampa and this is Plant City. No community is exempt in the current economic downturn. Some of Plant City’s residents are some of the homeless that Metropolitan Ministries assist. Many families that have lost their jobs, housing, furniture and car need a place that will assist them in getting back on their feet. Their children having been displaced and disillusioned need services geared to their needs. Metropolitan Ministries provides students enrolled in their academy extended learning through their tutoring program. They also offer assessment and counseling, character development, art, music, exceptional

student education services, physical education and transportation. While older children are in school and their parent(s) are working toward building a life for their family, the younger ones from birth to 5 years old are given love and care in the Promisedland Child Care Center. Metropolitan Ministries also offers before and after school care and summer programs – all of which incorporate learning activities, the arts, recreation and academic tutoring. Donations equip this loving atmosphere and give residents a sense of hope and security. Clothing is another immediateassistance service provided to individuals and families considered to be homeless and found eligible through the assessment and evaluation process of Outreach and Prevention Services. Unlike the food box that requires proof of qualification, individuals and/or families that do no have permanent, physical and/or verifiable address, may receive a clothing voucher that they may redeem at the Ministries Thrift Store. A financial assessment is conducted on all members of the household to determine the possible amount of assistance. Turn around time for assistance is seven to 14 days. Photo ID and social security cards for all family members are required along with proof of residence. Food is provided three times a year. Additional requests may be honored on a case-bycase basis, but will require a referral from an outside organization. Food is distributed according to household size. There is usually a waiting list for the program and Metropolitan Ministries is committed to assisting with immediate emergency needs and referrals to other agencies. For more information, call (813) 209-1200. The Outreach and Prevention Services Department is located at 2301 North Tampa St. Tampa, FL 33602.


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Kimberly Ann “Kimie”

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I Remember It’s so hard to believe two years have come and gone. Our family has suffered ultimate loss, losing a child. I Remember Our hearts are heavy, There is emptiness in our soul, We are an incomplete family without you. I Remember We will always love you and miss you. Death deals a stinging blow to all of us. WIthout faith all hope is lost. Death will be swallowed up in the victory of eternal life. Kimie, justice is coming. Love, Your mother, Your Son, Michael & Dustyn Your sister Angela & family Your brother Donny & family january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 31


around town Betty Salyers with some family members. Photo courtesy of the Everidge family

Caption plus white for scaling.

103-YEAR-OLD WOMAN S t o ry by C h e r y l J o h n s to n

Long life, much joy and, very soon, one more candle on the cake: Betty Salyers wants for nothing more. In February, she will celebrate her 104th birthday, surrounded by a loving family and a life full of friends. She “has never wanted to live anywhere else” but Plant City, her home for nearly 92 years, and believes it is “the best place in the world to be.” Welcome, neighbors, to her life and memories. Elizabeth Iula Rayburn, nicknamed Lizzie, was born in Carrollton, Ga. on Feb. 5, 1905, the second of seven children. Her parents farmed cotton, corn and peanuts. She distinctly remembers the family’s first car, a Model-T her dad purchased after seeing a neighbor drive one on the dirt road. Sadly, 10-year-old Lizzie’s mother died at age 32 of pneumonia. When boll weevils destroyed the cotton crop in 1917, Lizzie’s dad found work in Florida and moved the whole family there by train.

They settled in the Hopewell and Turkey Creek area. Lizzie loved school and reading. A horse-drawn wagon took the family into town for Saturday shopping trips and late afternoon strolls with friends when, she recalls, “everybody knew everybody.” Before cell phones, wall phones were the norm, with four families sharing a party line, and rings of two long, two short identified the Rayburn home. Betty, as she was called by a boyfriend, fell in love when she spotted her good-looking future husband Irvin Everidge near Turkey Creek. “Someone else wanted him,” she said, “but I put in to get him, and I did.” They were married for 20 years and had four boys before he died. Her father, always a good provider, helped his young widowed daughter support her four sons. She was thankful they “always had a decent place to live and plenty of good food, cornbread and biscuits.”

32 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Typical weekends included family get-togethers with all-night square dances, plenty of musical instruments and the whole gang singing popular songs of the day. Her favorite crooner is still George Jones. Probably now his oldest fan, she promises “I’d listen to him every day if I could. Nobody sings like G.J.” Today her entertainment is meeting new friends in the social hall at The Health Center of Plant City, watching TV news and sharing stories with family. All 11 grandchildren are close and make an effort to call or visit frequently. Her favorite home was her own at Lemon Street and Palmetto Avenue, adjacent to the festival grounds, where she lived for 66 years. According to granddaughter Jean Ann Taylor, Betty became particularly fond of roosters while living there. Church has always been an important part of her life, before marriage and even yet today. Surrey rides to services were almost as exciting as the all-day singing and dinner on

the grounds. In fact, she attributes her longevity to a strong faith and to eating “good, fatty food every day.” Sunday dinners for 20 relatives were common for the grown-up Betty, who typically served a beef roast, ham, fried chicken, four or five vegetables and several home-baked desserts. At 103 years old, she no longer cooks, but remains faithful as the oldest living member of First Baptist Church of Plant City. When folks ask Betty Salyers how she’s managed to live so long and stay so healthy, she is quick to respond. “I have taken good care of myself. I didn’t drink or smoke. I worked till I was 79, and I’ve tried to be a good person, to not do anything wrong.” That sounds like great advice from a wise woman. Here’s to continued health, Miss Betty, and to many more candles on your Happy Birthday cake. We’re pleased you call Plant City home.

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around toWn

LEFT TO RIGHT: Recreation and Parks Director Jack Holland, volunteers Kathy Dillon, Margaret Rodwell, Lisa Firm and Cassandra Banning of the Plant City Garden Club along with Carrie Kotal of the Florida Division of Forestry plant a Sweetgum tree. Photo by Brenda Deese

ellIs-MethVIn ParK Gets soMe sPrUcInG s t o ry by J a C K S O n S M i t h

Ellis-Methvin Park continues this grow, as 40 trees were planted there in Plant City on Dec. 16, 2008, by volunteers and city staff as a part of the National Football League Environmental Program. The project was funded by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and is administered by the State of Florida Division of Forestry. A buffer of trees and plants has been required by the Southwest Florida Water Management District to help protect an environmentally sensitive area at the Plant City Tennis Center at the city’s Ellis-Methvin Park. The recreation and parks department completed a request for matching funds and $1,700 was approved to purchase the trees, with the city matching the grant with volunteer and staff labor and equipment. “This grant is a tremendous help to the City of Plant City and our Recreation and Parks Department,” said Jack Holland, director of recreation and parks and coordinator of the grant request. “With past budget cuts and more cuts looming in the future, this program allowed us to develop an area to protect the wetland and it’s habitat and at the same time improve our local environment. We are

pleased to be selected as a part of this effort.” Volunteers from the Florida Division of Forestry, University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the Plant City campus of Hillsborough Community College and the Plant City Garden Club were on hand to help the Parks Division staff plant the 20 sweet-

gum trees and 20 southern magnolia trees along the northern edge of the Plant City Tennis Center. The tennis center is part of the 46-acre EllisMethvin Park currently under development. In addition to the four clay and four hard surface tennis courts in the complex, the park will eventually contain eight soccer fields, four youth baseball/softball fields, a lake and picnic areas. The NFL Environmental Program, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee and assisted by the nonprofit Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc., has developed a series of initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl-related events. These include recovery of prepared food from events, solid waste recycling at major NFL events, donation of all leftover building and decorative materials to local nonprofits, use of renewable energy to power the NFL Experience Football Theme Park and the stadium on game day, collection of used books and sports equipment for local schools and youth agencies, and travel offsets for the teams and NFL officials traveling to Super Bowl XLIII.

Volunteers Margaret Rodwell, Cassandra Banning, Lisa Firm and Kathy Dillon of the Plant City Garden Club help plant a Sweetgum tree. Photo by Brenda Deese

34 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

A dozen different tree-planting projects are scheduled throughout the Tampa Bay area in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 1. The projects range in size from individual tree plantings in downtown areas to huge plantings of thousands of trees in environmentally sensitive management areas. These projects are part of the NFL Environmental Program’s urban and community forestry initiative, developed in partnership with local, state and federal agencies. This is the fifth year that the NFL has developed urban forestry projects as part of its overall environmental program at the Super Bowl. This year marks the first time a longterm monitoring program will be put in place to track the environmental impact of the tree plantings. Using software developed by the U.S. Forest Service and with the support of the Florida Division of Forestry, data will be collected from planting sites to help calculate the actual greenhouse gas impact of the trees each year.


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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 35


around toWn

Employees work hard on an assembly line to produce candy. Photo by Courtney Allen

eMPloYees reaP the frUIts of ParaDIse lOCal COMpany ShOwS lOyalty tO eMplOyeeS with lOng terMS OF eMplOyMent. s t o ry by C O U r t n e y a l l e n

News on the job front has been far from delightful and the recession has forced employers to scale back expenditures across the board. But residents of Plant City and neighboring communities can take pride in a local corporation that has made job security a priority since 1962. Paradise, Inc. is the oldest and largest supplier of Glace fruits, the candied fruit that gives fruit cakes it’s festive color. The sweetened cherries, pineapple, ginger and citron, as well as lemon and orange peel, can be found on major supermarket shelves during the fall and early winter months. Now that the peak shipping season is finished, employees will begin the production cycle again come March and April. Seasonal profits usually decline

during the first nine months of the year, as Paradise, Inc. prepares for a hard-hitting holiday season in 2009. But cutting the wages and benefits of employees is the last place they will look for savings. Just ask Tracy Schulis, senior vice president and head of sales, who depends on worker satisfaction for a smooth-running operation. “The company is only as good as the people that work for you. We try to be fair and understand that they have families,” he said. He said his grandfather-in-law, founder and CEO Frank Weaner, felt that it was important to cover workers in case of emergencies or lifechanging events. “They try to help people out any way they can,” said Carol Mobley,

36 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Paradise Fruits produces large amounts of candy during the holiday season. Photo by Courtney Allen

who has worked in the shipping department for 16 years. Although she once took a six-year hiatus, she returned to Paradise, Inc. because of “the good people and good atmosphere.” She said the company’s recent switch in medical insurance and its 401K plan have helped save her some cash. Finding creative ways to save cash is nothing new to the company. A second product branch, a plastic packaging division called Paradise Plastics, has been created. The idea came when the company found themselves at the mercy of suppliers who provided them with the clear plastic containers for their fruit packaging. When the opportunity to buy a small plastic company arose, the expansion was made to accommodate a custom injection molder and thermoformer operation. A third branch of Paradise, Inc. supplies frozen strawberries to local companies. Under these three branches, employees have maintained their jobs for many years. Schulis attributes the longtime turnout to the promising seasonal positions. “It affords people the time to work elsewhere and do other things that might be seasonal.”

Shulis said Paradise, Inc. currently has 250-275 employees, including seasonal positions, while 125 employees work year-round. A newer line of fruit treats has been in production for the past year. Think Fruit is an all-natural, dehydrated fruit sold in unique flavors such as cinnamon apple. And just like it’s Glace and plastic counterparts, the new line is marked with Paradise, Inc. signature emblem: a palm tree and the word ‘Paradise’ inside of a red ribbon circle. Family members are part of the support for Weaner’s self-started business. His son-in-law, Mel Gordon, is currently chairman of the board and his two sons, Randy and Mark Gordon, serve as president and vice-president of operations, respectively. The close-knit team of four must be clever – they save money by finding lower-priced shipping boxes or by cutting back on administrative costs. “We try to make decisions based on our employees’ best interests at heart, and we strongly believe if we do well, we should reward employees for the hard work,” said Randy Gordon.


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38 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009


around town


Parents of local teens should be tinue to climb and continue to lead excited. According to figures recomparable districts. We know we leased by the Florida Department can do better, and we’re determined of Education, more Hillsborough to improve every year. That’s why County teens graduate and fewer we’ve introduced the EXCELerator students drop out from local high program in all our high schools.” schools than the statewide average. County administrators are also esHillsborough County Public Schools pecially pleased that the Hillsborough administrators, support staff and edCounty School District received an ucators are proud of this accomplish- “A” grade from the Florida Department, and rightfully so. ment of Education and was ranked Hillsborough County secondary third in Florida last year with 607 new schools led Florida’s large districts National Board-certified teachers. in graduation percentage numbers In data just released by the FDOE for the 2007-2008 school year, with in November, Hillsborough County an impressive 80 percent rate for also posted the lowest annual high four-year graduations. Local educaschool dropout rate in the area. Adtors believe that increased efforts to ministrators, school support personencourage students to take challengnel and teachers go to great lengths ing classes might be responsible. with individual students so that those “Ten years ago, our graduation rate who want to graduate will do so. was less than 70 percent and now Hillsborough County outperwe’re at 80,” School Board Chair formed the state average by a wide Carol Kurdell reported. “I’m very margin. The table quantifies how pleased with the progress this district Hillsborough County compared to has made in student achievement over area districts and large districts. For the last decade. Our work isn’t finadditional information and a look at ished, but we have the tools in place FDOE results for all Florida school to continue improving every year.” districts, visit Teacher training and continued preparation of rigorous lessons are also important factors Graduation & in the improvement. Dropout Rates Hillsborough County Public Schools benefit Broward 2.0% 68.8% in this regard from the EXCELerator grant, a Dade 4.5% 65.8% project funded by the Duval Bill and Melinda Gates 3.3% 65.9% Foundation. The proHillsborough 1.8% 80.0% gram’s mission is to dramatically increase Orange 1.5% 75.6% the number and diverPalm Beach 3.9% 75.6% sity of students prepared for college. Pasco 2.1% 79.5% District SuperintenPinellas 2.1% 74.4% dent Mary Ellen Elia is also encouraged, comState 2.5% 75.4% menting, “We’re happy data from Florida Department of Education, reflects the to see Hillsborough’s All 2007-2008 results. * Four-year graduation rates as calculated graduation rate con- by FDOE. ** Annual high school dropout rates

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around toWn Amber Devane, Eric Randall, Brittany St. Martin and their teacher Lynne Connors with her dog, Zena.

“My students volunteered Monday and Wednesday for about seven hours each day, the people always look forward to seeing them. My students are wonderful, and I am lucky to be able to teach them. I am forever grateful my students took time out of their busy lives to take care of me, the elderly and my dog.” Lynne Connors

helPInG PeoPle one haIrstYle at a tIMe One perSOn’S MiSFOrtUne tUrnS intO a beneFiCial and learning experienCe FOr OtherS. s t o ry by K r y S t e l K n O w l e S

Lynne Connors had a life-changing experience when she got injured and had to be hospitalized last October. She has been a cosmetology teacher at Plant City adult and community center for more than five years, and she had to spend weeks at a healthcare center and could not teach. Connors said the “Poof Squad” is the name of this years’ class theme because every year the students create their own theme. When they

found out about Connors injury, her students were worried and concerned. Since Connors had to be hospitalized for such a long period of time, they decided to visit her. “I am so happy and proud of my students because they took time to come visit me,” said Connors. Brittany St. Martin, a 19-year-old and current student of Connors’, decided to go visit her teacher because she wanted to show her support.

40 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Shortly after, St. Martin came up with the idea of giving makeovers to the people at the healthcare center, the elderly and to those who cannot afford such a luxury. “I saw a small salon room so I decided to give people makeovers while I visited Lynne,” said St. Martin. “I got attached to the patients and know many of them by name.” Not only did St. Martin visit her teacher and provide free hair service to elderly people who cannot afford it, she also fed Connors’ Rottweiler, Zena, three times a day and brought him to visit her on several occasions. Amber Devane, 18, is also one of Connors’ students who decided to provide free hair services to the elderly because she is grateful for having the opportunity to help people. She is planning to continue donating her time to help others and make people feel good on the outside and inside. “When you look better, it makes you feel better, and that is what it’s all about,” said Devane. “I went to visit Lynne and practice what we learned in her class.” Eric Randall, 20, is another one of the students in Connors’ class who went to visit his teacher and volun-

teered his time to a good cause. He said the entire experience made him realize that life can change from one moment to the other. “It is a reality check when something like this happens, I am happy we managed to make it a positive experience,” said Randall. “I learned to appreciate every moment because no one ever knows when something heartrending might happen.” Connors said she is emotionally touched by her students caring nature and is pleased her students found a good way to practice cosmetology. Although she endured a traumatic experience, it brought the best out of her students. “My students volunteered Monday and Wednesday for about seven hours each day, the people always look forward to seeing them,” said Connors. She is happy her students supported her through the whole experience and helped the elderly. “My students are wonderful, and I am lucky to be able to teach them,” said Connors. “I am forever grateful my students took time out of their busy lives to take care of me, the elderly and my dog.”

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chamber column

Classic cars fill the Municipal Parking Lot in Historic Downtown Plant City and show off their machinery for the Strawberry Classic Car Show – and event that takes place on the third Saturday of every month. FOCUS File Photo

THE GREATER PLANT CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE S u b m i t t e d by B r uc e Ro d w e l l

With the New Year here, a good resolution is to check the community calendar, which is kept up-to-date at the chamber of commerce office. Last month, there were events that did not get on the calendar and also events that conflicted with other events. A simple phone call to the chamber office at (813) 754-3707 will enable people or organizations to check dates to see what else might be taking place on any given day. Also, by having an event put on the calen-

dar will let the rest of the Plant City community know one is happening. ······················································· The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce recently elected new officers and a committee chairman for 2009. Ed Verner is chairman of the board, succeeding Paul Hackney who was chairman in 2008. The chairman-elect is Charles Harris, treasurer is Matt Buzza, vice chairman of the Division of Growing Businesses is Gail Lyons, vice chair-

42 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

man of membership is Kerrie Gafford, vice chairman of community and governmental affairs is Lee Williams and vice chairman of economic development is Doug Driggers. New directors for 2009 are Al Berry, Rick Bunnell, Michael Cameron, Jimmy Carapezza, Jennifer Closshey, Hugh Gamling, Nate Kilton, Rick Lott, Steve Nierman, Gary Pike, Bruce Rodwell, Jim Scott and Brian West. In addition to the officers, committee chairs and directors, the chamber is blessed with a terrific staff. Marion Smith is president, Amy Nizamoff is an administrative coordinator, Nancy Benedict is a communications director, Susan Wilson is a

membership director, Jane Gonzalez is a tourist information coordinator and Al Collinge is a tourist information specialist and coordinator of the Union Station Welcome Center at the Depot. The staff is located at the chamber offices, 106 North Evers St. In addition, off-site staff includes Fran Johnson and Ralph Ambrose, who coordinate the Tourist Information Center on Park Road. Log onto to chamber Web site at The mission statement of the chamber reads: “The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce shall work for its members and be the leading force in promoting the commercial, industrial, agricultural and civic in-


continued FroM Page 42

terests of Greater Plant City and East Hillsborough County.” The Chamber membership totals more than 700 members and is growing every day. ······················································· The UNITED FOOD BANK OF PLANT CITY distributed 1,200 Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to families this year. Some other figures provided by Kelleigh Klein, executive director of the Food Bank, points out how this nonprofit group helps the needy in the community. In 2007, the Food Bank served 7,878 clients and this year it served 12,484 clients. That’s an increase of more than 4,600 clients. All of this equates to a food value of more than $365,000. The mission of the United Food Bank of Plant City is to provide assistance for the needy in moving from a state of hunger and impoverishment to self-sufficiency, empowerment and self-reliance. Its motto is “A hand up, not a hand out.” On Feb. 7, the Food Bank will hold its first-ever Celebrity Chef Dinner. The featured chef is Jon Ashton, who has appeared on “The Tonight Show” and is currently the food correspondent of the nationally syndicated morning show “The Daily Buzz,” which is seen in more than 160 TV markets. He is also the in-house chef for Relish Magazine with more than 12 million readers. This event will take place at the Trinkle Center at Hillsborough Community College. Information on sponsorships and tickets as well as events leading up to the dinner can be obtained by calling the Food Bank at (813) 764-0625. ······················································· Monday, Jan. 19 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the PLANT CITY PHOTO ARCHIVES is presenting a special program entitled “Proudly Served,” a military tribute featuring World War II Navy veteran Benjamin Garrison. The time of this special event is 10:30 a.m. to noon. The location of the Photo Archives is 119 North Collins St. ······················································· On Jan. 22, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce will play

host to the 27th ANNUAL CHAIRMAN’S BANQUET. This event will kick off with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:15 p.m. with the program starting at 8 p.m. It takes place at the Red Rose Inn and Suites. Call the chamber office at (813) 7543707 to reserve seats. ······················································· Tommy Cash comes to Plant City on Jan. 24 in a salute to his brother Johnny. A show will take place at the Florida Opry at the 1914 Community Center. Also on the program are Victoria K, Tina Dallman and 3 + 1 Gospel Group. The show starts at 7 p.m. Call Randy Dallman at (813) 659-1849 for further details and tickets. ······················································· The PLANT CITY PHOTO ARCHIVES cordially invites people to its Third Annual Progressive Tea, Tour and Hat Contest on Saturday, Jan. 31. The event gets started at 11 a.m., and the cost is $30 per person, which includes a gallery walk, tour of homes, lunch, traditional tea cuisine, live music, door prizes and gifts of chance. There will be a hat contest consisting of three categories: vintage, elaborate and outlandish. The homes on tour are Ray and Patti Brownlee’s, Nate and Stephanie Kilton’s and ending at John and Sally Verner’s, where there will be live music, tea, scones and the Hat Contest. Space is limited and an R.S.V.P. is required. For information, call (813) 754-1578. ······················································· BLACK HISTORY MONTH will be celebrated Feb. 13 with a banquet at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center. For details on this event, call Sharon Moody at (813) 453-7134. ······················································· Don’t forget to call the chamber office with dates of upcoming events, and remember to support the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce members. Shop and patronize the businesses that display the sign: MEMBER GREATER PLANT CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.



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If you eat, thank a local businessman who supports the agricultural industry. Ditto if you wear clothes, appreciate animals, enjoy the great outdoors, or value education and honest labor. If you’re interested in people, progress and political impact, then thank a very important youth association.

january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 49


ay thanks to the National FFA Organization. Perhaps no other group has contributed so much to America’s productivity and its ability to provide for its populace. The FFA grows leaders and solid citizens like those in the cooperative communities of Eastern Hillsborough County. With a high degree of enthusiasm, folks in more than 300 agriculture-related industries frequently credit their success in life, business and public service to the National FFA Organization. Founded in 1928 as Future Farmers of America, the national organization positively impacts students, ages 12-21, by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through hands-on learning. Throughout all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, almost 508,000 members in 7,439 chapters attend 6th-12th grade classes to explore expanding career fields in the food, fiber and natural resource industries. The FFA motto “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, and Living to Serve,” has created real-world champions. After graduation, FFA participants commonly become community leaders. Though all may not specifically pursue agriculture-related careers, one thing is certain: in whatever field they choose, FFA prepared them to achieve high levels of success and to serve with selfless excellence. Simply put, FFA builds character that affects now and the future. With sincere appreciation, those recently interviewed by FOCUS remember lessons learned from time well-invested when they donned the organization’s defining symbol. The highly recognizable coat of honor remains the blue corduroy jacket, zipped to the top, with its embroidered corn-gold FFA emblem. Blue-jacketed students, past and present, have some common passions memorized in the FFA Creed. This oath testifies to honest effort, neighborly assistance and high ideals. It honors the gifts of education and impact of educators. All felt a responsibility to “give back” – not a handout, but a hand up. This passion serves area communities well. Numerous civic and business leaders describe youthful involvement in FFA as invaluable. So powerful was its influence in their lives that most continue to support FFA through the alumni association and voluntary assistance to local school programs. Not surprisingly, FFA is also typically a family tradition and legacy. The Florida Strawberry Growers Association is filled with FFA men and women. Tommie Brock, member and former president, now serving his last year on the FSGA board, attributes “so many important life skills learned in FFA” to the growers association’s success. Skills like accounting, public speaking, self-discipline and parliamentary procedure helped create a cohesive cooperative of independent growers and connected businesses. Brock credits the FFA backgrounds of fellow founding members as critical in FSGA’s early years. Folks like Carl Grooms, Bob Hinton, Loris Simmons, John St. Martin, Alan Willaford

and others continue using those skills to strengthen local industry. Brock wishes all families could benefit, suggesting, “Parents, involve your kids in FFA. I can see so many things in my life, and now in my children’s lives, used from FFA affiliation. The experience and knowledge gained have been priceless.” Carl Grooms and wife Dee Dee own Fancy Farms, a 215acre strawberry farm employing approximately 300 workers during season. He knew the “ag” curriculum firsthand from working on the farm Agri-Business Committee Chair Debbie Simpson presents Richard W. Joyner with the his parents owned for Agriculturist of the Year Award. more than 40 years. In daily operations, he uses knowledge gleaned lessons in FFA at Pinecrest High School (1968from elective classes like land surveying, sec71), saying, “I think learning how to run a meettioning and project business planning, from ing at an early age taught me that if you do your conception to profitability. He clearly recalls inhomework and prepare yourself, you are more structors, Mr. Waller and Ray Arrington. He still likely to succeed. FFA takes the time to show owns the blue jacket worn as chaplain of Plant the step-by-step nuts and bolts to students who City High School Jr. Chapter (1966-67). Today, learn better that way. Teaching the how and why the legacy continues as his son, Dustin Grooms, helped everything make sense.” has returned after eight years in the Army to Johnson’s passion transferred to his three help manage the farm and a grove. children, all FFA members, and thus some of his “Schools would produce even more leaders if best memories are in their participation. “After agricultural courses, their PCHS graduhome economics and ations, daughters FFA were required Erin and Farrah curriculum,” Carl received degrees Grooms said. “Evfrom University of ery student should Florida in agriculunderstand the food tural education. from seed-to-table Both teach and are process. They should FFA advisers at riknow how to ecoval Volusia County nomically prepare nuschools. Currently, tritious meals, to use Erin presides over basic hand tools, to the Florida Assobudget for home and ciation of Agriculbusiness and to speak tural Educators and before and interact Farrah is Region V effectively within a vice president for group. They need to the National Assolearn by doing more ciation of Agriculskills they’ll truly need. FFA produces self-suftural Educators. Our son Devin is a Durant High ficient, self-confident people who make a differSchool senior, so this will be our last year, since ence in their communities.” the mid-1980s, of showing at the Strawberry Donnie Johnson is another thankful FFA alumFestival. The FFA has had a lasting impact on nus. He and childhood friend Richard Swilley cothis family, especially those inspiring teachers own Swilley Johnson Electric. Johnson considers like Jim Jeffries, Richard Joyner and Earl Glenn working for and with folks he’s grown up with to who gave their all to help kids.” be an indescribable privilege. He especially valJeremy Burris, a former state FFA vice-presiues parliamentary procedure and recordkeeping dent (1995-96) and presently a broker for Wish-

50 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Learning to Do, Doing to Learn,

Earning to Live and Living to Serve

natzki Farms, believes public speaking, peopleto-people connections and perseverance were three powerful benefits. Continuing his FFA Alumni Association lifetime membership, he hopes one day his infant daughter Grace Marie will wear the blue jacket. “I want her to learn from teachers and advisers like John Davidson, Ray Clark, Jane Bender, Bob Wilder and Dwight Nifong. They made a profound impact in my life, teaching life skills, not just agriculture.” Burris uses the “tremendous amount of connections” made through FFA to help his employer, Wishnatzki Farms. “The network carried over into college at UF and now in industry. Every day my boss, Gary Wishnatzki, is amazed [by the] contacts I have to help our business. Often in sales, it’s not what you know, but who you know.” As for community service, earned scholarships cultivated his desire to give back as a Rotarian and member of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Citizens Committee. Participation on the state’s winning teams for forestry and horticulture contribute to “driving my wife Erica crazy because I can still identify the trees and shrubs everywhere we go.” Barton Wilder also grew up with some wonderful ag teachers – Mr. Riley at Marshall Middle School, John Davidson and his own father, Bob Wilder, who taught for 33 years in this area. Currently, Barton is completing a master’s degree in weed science at UF, where he also earned his B.S. in agricultural operations Management. He works for UF and Alachua County in their extension program. When he occasionally judges FFA

contests, Wilder is particularly “impressed at the caliber of competitors.” Blane O’Neal’s FFA years at Turkey Creek Middle School and Durant Senior High School provided entrepreneurial knowledge he now uses in the funeral support services business. He “initially joined because I thought FFA would be a fun, extracurricular activity to break the monotony of schoolwork. I never dreamed it would take me this far,“ he said. The first time he stepped into a public speaking contest room at an FFA convention, nerves overwhelmed O’Neal. He recalls, “My instructors helped me to unwind and to realize the skills I’d practiced would see me through.” Today, O’Neal remains active as a Florida FFA Association support staffer, a Strawberry Festival volunteer, an Honorary Deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and as a volunteer with the Florida Poultry Federation. He cannot imagine a time when he won’t be involved in FFA. O’Neal encourages parents to seriously consider FFA membership for their children, promising, “I can sincerely guarantee there is not another youth organization on this planet that provides all FFA does. FFA not only builds character. It also provides financial incentives like college scholarships, award monies and even exchange programs. The opportunities are endless, and the outcome is pivotal.” Bobby Parke was a member of FFA from 7th through 12th grades (1962-68) at Turkey Creek High School where John St. Martin, Elton Hinton and Loris Simmons taught. He joined because “We had the family farm already, owned by my

FFA By the

Numbers 50 The number of states FFA is in. The organization is also in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 1928 The year FFA was founded. 7,439 The amount of FFA chapters in the U.S. 54,731 The attendance at last year’s National FFA Convention, which is the organization’s largest annual event. 507,763 The number of members in FFA in 2008. 22,000,000 The amount of scholarship money FFA has awarded.

Demographics Bill McClellan congratulates Carl Grooms for being a “fine young farmer.”

27% of FFA members live in rural, farm areas

34% of FFA members live in urban and

suburban areas 39% of FFA members live in rural nonfarm areas 4% of FFA members are African-American 17% of FFA members are Hispanic 77% of FFA members are Caucasian


11,000 The approximate number of qualified agriculture teachers in the U.S. 92% offer agriscience 71% offer advanced agriscience and biotechnology 59% offer agricultural mechanics 49% offer horticulture 43% offer animal science 24% offer environment-related

january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 51

Featured speaker Marshal Sewell, Florida FFA Association president, and Reggie Holt, president and CEO of Farm Credit of Central Florida, ACA, the salute to agriculture sponsor.

Family Defines Small Town Boy’s State Presidency In small towns, it seems everybody knows everybody, and each person has a role. 2008 Durant High School graduate and Plant City native Marshal Sewell is embracing his role in the close-knit community as an agricultural prodigy, taking dreams to an entirely new level. Sewell, who was elected and installed as Florida’s FFA Association state president, has been touring with other state officers and, recently, placed first in the FFA National Prepared Speaking Contest at the 81st National Convention in Indianapolis. Although a lot of research and practice for the competition was done on his part, Sewell attributes the majority of his agricultural success to his family, mainly his mother. “My mom is the best coach I’ve ever had. She was in FFA in high school and always wanted to do contests, so she’s been able to support me and help explain everything I need to know to succeed.” However, despite urges from his mother in the beginning of his agricultural career, Sewell needed time to overcome self-doubt before becoming active in contests. He gives credit to his brother Marc for starting him in competitions. “Older siblings would normally run away from their younger brother or sister, but Marc sort of took me under his wing. In my sixth grade year, Marc let me be on his fruit and vegetable judging team. It was my first competition, and thanks to him, we won on state level.” Since then, it’s been history. Perhaps it was his destiny to find a second home in the FFA, however, Sewell, whose family owns Sewell & Sewell Farms, comes from a long line of agricultural success. The farm, which was established in 1928, focuses mainly on strawberries as its chief crop, but in recent years has produced others such as squash, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. FFA

By Samantha Crandall

came to life in 1928, and became an important part of Sewell’s ancestor’s lives, as well. Sewell, however, wants to point out that FFA members are not necessarily just kids from farms. “Although, personally, I’ve been on a farm for most of my life, agriculture is something any kid can be good at. It’s important to find something you enjoy doing, and FFA offers at least one thing for everyone.” To Sewell, Florida is a “cultural melting pot.” As state president, he hopes to reach out to children and adults of all regions, but first, people must understand agriculture on a broader scale. “It’s important to rethink consumer awareness. Many people go to the store and buy eggs and milk without considering that those products are actually from cows, hens, and ultimately farms.” To combat this issue, Sewell and state officers from around the nation are heading to China in January to study agriculture on not only a local or national scale, but also one as broad as international and global. Sewell hopes to gain some young supporters on the way. “Becoming state president and a role model has made me more concrete in who I am. If by being myself and doing what I’m passionate about, I’m inspiring people. Even if it’s just one kid, then I know I have no reason to change because I’m doing something right.” Sewell’s modesty, positive persona, devotion to family, and extraordinary achievements prove that he is no average Farmer Brown. “When I think about me being a normal person from a little farming community, going on to be state FFA president, it’s just something I never even dreamed of. It shows that you should never question your own potential or capability, because if I can do this, then the opportunities for everyone else must be endless.”

52 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

grandfather, Bob Parke, and father, Roy Parke. If I wasn’t in school, I was working with them. So I knew once I graduated I’d be a farmer and one day hopefully own the company,” he said. His expertise helped earn wins for the soil, beef and dairy judging teams. Parke says, “FFA gave me a foundation for my business and a knowledge of people in the industry.” Today he is a member of the FSGA, the Farm Bureau and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association. “FFA definitely benefits our youth. Even if they decide not to go into the agricultural field, it still teaches character and work ethic,” he said. Pam Bowden, principal of DHS, appreciates FFA leadership training from two perspectives. Her membership at PCHS followed 4-H years. She is especially thankful for motivational influence exerted on young people by instructors such as Ray Clark, Lawrence Simmons and John Davidson. Bowden studied citrus production (her family owns groves and farm land) and showed her steer in the festival. Each year she attends the State FFA Convention and, when possible, the National Convention to “see students rewarded for their hard work.” She says she highly regards Jim Jeffries, the recently retired agri-science supervisor who “always did what was right for students by working diligently with the county’s educators and FFA programs in our area.” Marshal Sewell, Florida’s current FFA state association president, agrees. Recently his dreams and FFA-learned skills advanced him to the top when he placed first in the organization’s National Prepared Speaking Contest at the 81st National Convention in Indianapolis. Coached by his mother, also an FFA high school member, Sewell additionally credits older brother Marc for starting him in competitions. Now Sewell influences younger students like Gregory Crandall, 11, a Turkey Creek Middle School 6th grader in his first FFA year with agricultural teachers, Mr. Drake and Mrs. Sparkman. Crandall says, “I like FFA. We get to do a lot of activities, like the meat sale, contests or holiday work. Sometimes we get candy and rewards for lessons, such as being the best meat sales person. FFA sounded like something I’d enjoy, since my sister Samantha was a member and I know Marshal Sewell. I’m thinking about becoming an officer too, so I can have more opportunities in FFA. I want to stay a member because I’ve made friends there and have gotten to know my track team members better too, since some of them are in FFA.” Sewell and state officers from around the nation headed to China in January, to study agricultural processes on a global scale. The knowledge gleaned by one of Plant City’s upand-coming leaders is certain to benefit Eastern Hillsborough County for years to come. Before beginning college, Sewell will spend this year traveling and representing the FFA program wherever he’s needed. He encourages other students and parents with this: “FFA has taught me to never question my own potential or capability, because if I can do this, then the opportuni-

National FFA Organization Builds Leaders ties for everyone else must be endless.” He also points out that FFA members are not just kids from farms. “FFA offers plenty for everyone.” Everyone includes the entire family. Bill and Rhonda Burnettte own Harold’s Farm Supply in Dover. From their membership in the Sarasota vo-ag chapter and children’s involvement here, they have become lifetime FFA Alumni Association members. Thirteen years ago, Rhonda founded the local 4-H club chapter so her daughter, Kendall, friends and son, Jarrod, could learn to show animals. She will continue advising until 10-year-old Jacob can join FFA. Additionally, Rhonda serves in numerous leadership capacities at festival and county fair events, while Kendall studies to be an ag teacher. The Burnettes agree on this: “FFA helps our children and yours to become the future leaders in Hillsborough County and beyond. Through the process, family memories and skills learned by our children are priceless.” This is so true. FFA enhances every endeavor. Options for almost any interest are available, whether members want to work individually or with others, indoors or outside, at a desk or in the lab, in the city or on a farm. FFA members strengthen their personal skills, wisely manage time and discover respect for themselves and from others. Leadership traits grow through a chapter’s special local, state and national projects and conferences. The program uses two primary strategies. Ca-

reer development events (CDE’s) are 24 contests involvement and impact of FFA women. Today, used to appraise agricultural classroom-learned they comprise 41 percent of the membership skills. Active members in the national organiza- and hold more than 50 percent of state leadertion must also have a supervised agricultural ex- ship positions. Particularly, many female stuperience (SAE) project. These involve hands-on dents credit the public speaking aspects of FFA application of classroom instruction with guide- for pageant competition wins and successful calines governed by state delegations and grouped reers in media, marketing, law and politics. into four different areas: exploratory – learning Financial rewards grow as many members the big picture of agriculstart their own businesses turally related careers; reor work for an agricultural FFA helps our search / experimentation company throughout high and analysis - conducting school and reinvest profchildren to become research or analysis of inits. Some have earned formation to discover new hundreds of thousands knowledge; ownership/en- the future leaders in of dollars before college trepreneurship – planning/ graduation, while gainoperation of an agricul- Hillsborough County ing great advantage over ture-related business and; classmates competing for placement - working either college acceptance or emand beyond. for pay or experience in an ployment. agricultural setting. Finally, parents encourStudents can hardly avoid being a winner be- aging children in extracurricular club participacause FFA offers so many opportunities for rec- tion might also consider this important fact, esognition at every level. pecially in today’s economic climate: agriculture In addition to plaques, ribbons, trophies and is the nation’s largest employer, with more than personal satisfaction, benefits include money 22 million people working in more than 300 cafor school, cash prizes and exciting trips. Annu- reers in its science-, business- and technologyally, more than 800 members share $1 million in related fields. scholarships. Plus, many local and state busiNo matter what career path students might nesses offer scholarships, for which FFA experi- choose, undoubtedly FFA will ensure they are ence gives members the competitive edge. prepared to lead. Ultimately, the country’s citiOne recurring comment was the increased zens will be the beneficiaries.

Ray Moorman, Bill Burnette, Kendall Jenkins, Rhonda Burnette, Jarrod Burnette, Jacob Burnette, Scotty Jenkins, the livestock judge, Kaitlyn Gill and Cherika Brown at the Hillsborough County Fair Swine Show.

january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 53

54 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009












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A Year As Royalty

2008 Strawberry Queen Kristen Smith is preparing to crown the 2009 Strawberry Queen. interview by brain west photos courtesy of Kristen Smith

Kristen Smith’s year as the 2008 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen is coming to an end. On Saturday, Jan. 17, Smith will crown the queen for 2009. Then she’ll move on to other things with her life. FOCUS met up with her to talk about her time as queen and what she has planned for her future.

FOCUS: “what was your first experience as the Strawberry Queen?” smith: “Mrs. Katie gave us an envelope with all the mandatory event dates to attend before the festival started. i remember thinking, ‘wow! this is a lot.’ but our first event was Miss Manners night. it was at Pec McGuiness’ house. i remember feeling so bad for Mr. McGuiness because he had to clean all those dishes, and we used everything, even all the saucers. but it was really cool. we learned how to use everything, how to cut our steak one bite at a time. they even gave us a little booklet with everything in it, which was good because my grandmother always tried to teach me how to set a table and i always forgot. i remember learning that if you get out of your chair, you’re not supposed to put your napkin on the table. you’re supposed to put it on the back of the chair if you’re going to return eating.” FOCUS: “How long did it take you and the court to feel comfortable with each other?” smith: “i’d say just a couple of days being together at the festival. some of us knew each other, or knew of each other. i played softball with britney in 6th grade and went to middle school with Amanda sparkman. she’s a twin and i’m a twin, and we knew each other. After several hours of being with each other, you open up, especially when you start getting tired.” FOCUS: “what were some of the highs for you at the festival?” smith: “there was food everywhere. All the girls were supportive. if someone was going to the directors lounge, they’d ask if anyone else wanted anything. that was great.” FOCUS: “what was a typical day for you at the festival?”

smith: “it would vary. some days we’d get there at 10 a.m., but others we’d get there at about 7 a.m. and bring our clothes and makeup with us and get ready for the day in our room – the Palace. Jackie would do our hair for us a lot of times. then we’d walk around and see some of the vendors, and watch the shows like the pig races, go where ever we were called, and then go to the night performances. we usually left right after the night performances and the deputies would escort us out to our cars.” FOCUS: “who was your favorite performer?” smith: [without any hesitation] “neil Mccoy, because he called us up on stage to do the shake. All of the entertainers were really wonderful, but he was groovy. before the show, we’d walk underneath the stage through the area where everyone eats, and one of us would say something like, ‘hey, there’s Josh turner.’ but with neil Mccoy, when we walked through, he yelled over to us, ‘hey girls. what are y’all up to?’ he was so funny. And all the performers would have a set they’d follow for their show, but neil Mccoy just made his up as he went along. it was really cool.” FOCUS: “tell me about some of the events you attended after the festival.” smith: “we did a couple of tea parties with little girls. it was so much fun. i never did tea parties as a little girl, so it was funny thinking that it took this long, and me becoming strawberry Queen to get the opportunity. we also went to Dover, trapnell and Pinecrest Elementary schools for the Great American teach-in. we talked to the kids about what we do, and to give them the message of setting goals for themselves – like being strawberry Queen.

The 2008 Strawberry court with Plant City Mayor Rick Lott, Vice Mayor Daniel Raulerson, City Manager David Sollenberger and County Commissioner Al Higgonbotham.

The girls hang out with the late Roy Parke.

Kristen Smith spends time during the parade with girls in the Junior Royalty pageant.

january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 57

We also attended Relay for Life and that was a wonderful experience.” FOCUS: “Reflecting back on the year, is there an experience that really stands out for you?” Smith: “At the festival, it was really nice to see how much of a family atmosphere there really is. Everyone we met, you could tell they were working very hard to do their part for the festival, and they were always so personable. It was like we’d become part of their family. You can visit a lot of places and see what goes on behind the scenes and that’s always interesting, but we really got the feeling that they all care about each other, and us.” FOCUS: “What are some of the typical questions you get from people, as the Strawberry Queen?” Smith: “Children will always ask us if we get to keep our dresses and that’s always funny. They’ll ask us about meeting the entertainers. Everyone will ask us about the things we’ve done during the year.” FOCUS: “What did you thing about the article about you and your court in The New Yorker?” Smith: “It’s funny. There are so many different opinions about it. Some people thought it made us sound a little Podunk. However, I really liked it. I thought it was cool that Miss Anne wrote it because she grew up in Plant City. She was with us during the festival, and she would take notes on everything we did. She was very personable and a lot of fun. And we learned that after she left us and went back to Washington D.C., she won the Pulitzer Prize for an article she’d written about soldiers. She actually works for the Washington Post, but they thought our story was too big for the Post, so they sent it to The New Yorker.”

FOCUS: “What are the rest of the girls from the court up to?” Smith: “Brittany is getting ready to transfer to the University of Florida, Jackie will be finishing up her freshman year at the University of Central Florida, Shaunie is going to Plant City High School right now and will be graduating in the spring and Amanda is taking classes at Hillsborough Community College and just started working at Johnson’s BBQ.” FOCUS: “Your twin sister, Lauren, was a contestant in last year’s pageant and I know she’s a contestant again this year. How are you helping her for the 2009 pageant?” Smith: “We’ve been practicing a lot together. We rode to Lake Wales the other day and I was asking her interview questions. She finally said, ‘Can we stop?’ She was tired of the questions. Oh, and the casual wear. I’m excited to see what the girls come out wearing. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to pick out an outfit. There’s so much more choices, so we’re having a hard time choosing what to wear. I know she’ll do fine just being herself along with all the rest of the fabulous young ladies competing this year.” FOCUS: “What are your plans moving forward?” Smith: “I’m going to Southeastern University and studying to be a guidance counselor. I only took 12 hours this past semester because of Strawberry Queen. I had been taking 15 to 17 hours each semester. I’m hoping to take more classes this next semester so I can graduate early. I love school and Southeastern is great. It has a chapel there every day, and it has different speakers come in, and the worship is wonderful. The worship is a little different. I go to Bethany Baptist Church

58 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

A Year As Royalty

Kristen Smith gives Plant City Commissioner Michael Sparkman a big hug.

where Marc Mashburn preaches and Southeastern is Assembly of God, but it’s all glorifying to God. Also, I’m hoping when I give up the crown that I’ll be able to compete in Miss Heart of Plant City on Jan. 31. It’s a preliminary to be able to compete in Miss Florida. So I’m working on that. You have to have a platform. I’ve never know much about cancer, and this year a friend of mine, Jordan Newsome, was diagnosed. He’s 21 years old. Watching him go through the treatment was tough. He’s completed his treatment and has a clean bill of health, but having someone close to me get cancer has influenced me to want to do more to help fight against it, so that’s going to be my platform. My talent

will be singing. I’ll either sing ‘I go to the Rock’ by Whitney Houston, ‘Hero’ by Mariah Carey or ‘Colors of the Wind’ from the Disney movie, ‘Pocahontas.’” The Plant City Lions Club, the Florida Strawberry Festival and the Plant City community are very proud to have had Smith as their 2008 Queen. She has been an outstanding queen and has fulfilled her responsibilities well. She continues to be a very positive role model for young ladies in the community. Kristen, we wish you all the best with your future endeavors.


THE COLD SHOULDER? At Edward Jones, the level of service you receive depends on your personal needs and preferences, not on the size of your investment portfolio. If you’d like to experience exceptional personal service, consider Edward Jones. We offer solutions for all your financial needs. Get to know us. Call today to schedule a free portfolio review. Stephen W Shouse, Financial Advisor, AAMS • 1514 S Alexander Street • Suite 206 Plant City, FL 33563 • 813-752-9400 Michael Cameron, Financial Advisor • 2501 Thonotosassa Rd Plant City, FL 33563 • 813-759-1491 Tim Shuff, Financial Advisor, AAMS • 104 N Evers St Suite 102 Plant City, FL 33563 • 813-752-1071 Jeff Dove, Financial Advisor • 1904 James Redman Pkwy Plant City, FL 33563 • 813-754-6983 january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 59

JAN. 3 & 9, 2009

JAN. 24, 2009

JAN. 31, 2009


JAN. 10, 2009


JAN. 16, 2009

RALPH ALLOCCO & SECOND WIND Singing the songs you know and love.

JAN. 17, 2009


JAN. 30, 2009

FEB. 7, 2009



JAN. 31, 2009

“STAYIN’ ALIVE - A NIGHT OF DISCO FEVER” REFLECTIONS OF THE BEE GEES AND JOHN TRAVOLTA The Red Rose Ballroom comes ALIVE when tributes are paid to the legendary Gibb brothers and one of Hollywood’s leading men, John Travolta. P.J. Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show. Dinner served in a Supper Club atmosphere in the Ballroom.

In the Red Rose Dining Room.


REFLECTIONS OF THE BEEG EES 60 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Plus P.J. Leary and The Las Vegas Sounds with Jeannette Jackson performing before and after the show. Dinner served in a Supper Club atmosphere in the Ballroom.

FEB. 7, 2009



Join us for dinner and a very special romantic evening. The lights will be low. The food will be divine and the decor splendid. Ralph Allocco & Second Wind gets the hearts of guests to fluttering and the feet to twirling on the dance floor with their melodic tunes – making the holiday even more special!

FEB. 21 & 27, 2009



FEB. 27-28, 2009

MAR. 15, 2009


The annual sock hop weekend will grace the Red Rose Inn & Suites again with its fabulous music and fun! Performances will include during the weekend: E. Jaye Brown, George Galfo’s Mystics, The Reflections, Shirley Alston Reeves, P.J. Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds, Ralph Allocco & Second Wind and Destiny. Dinner is served in a Supper Club atmosphere in the Red Rose Ballroom.

FEB. 28, 2009 RALPH ALLOCCO & SECOND WIND MAR. 7, 2009 JASON D. WILLIAMS SHOW P.J. Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds with guest Vondal Moore before and after the show. Dinner served in a Supper Club atmosphere in the Ballroom.


P.J. Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show. Dinner served in a Supper Club atmosphere in the Ballroom.


Extreme Supreme and Motown sounds will grace the stage in the Red Rose Ballroom. Come dine and dance the night away to some of the best songs in music history! P.J. Leary and the Las Vegas Sounds before and after the show. Dinner will be served in a Supper Club atmosphere in the Ballroom.



Signature group of The Red Rose Dining Room. Performing popular tunes for your enjoyment. The group performs EVERY SATURDAY, unless other shows are booked.


DESTINY Put on your dancing shoes as the House Band of the Red Rose Dining Room performs EVERY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY EVENINGS from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

FREE TIME JAZZ This relaxing Jazz band performs EVERY TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY EVENINGS (6 p.m.-11 p.m.) during and after our SEAFOOD AND



SPECIAL ROOM RATES! Enjoy one of the shows and then stay the night in one of our Signature Polo Club Rooms for a special price. Late check out is included! Join us for our Champagne Sunday Brunch.





january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 61

business & Finance business ProFile

People driving through the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and McIntosh Road can see the Harold’s Farm Supply sign. Photo by Aaron Oberlin

facIlItatInG sUPPlY neeDs harOld’S FarM SUpply MaKeS ShOpping enJOyable FOr itS CUStOMerS. s t o ry by e l i z a b e t h e d wa r d S

For the past nine years, Bill Burnette and his service-oriented staff at Harold’s Farm Supply have dedicated themselves to providing quality customer service and care for their loyal customers and faithful animals. Although some may think the name says it all, Harold’s Farm Supply is much more than an average retailer. The staff is trained to accommodate any request their customers may have, especially hard-to-find products. The store offers a full line of animal feed and supply products for almost any animal one can think of. Some unique services that Harold’s Farm Supply offers its customers are the services of a highly-qualified pet care specialist to answer any ques-

tions they might have regarding their animals, as well as local delivery of their products within five miles. Harold’s Farm Supply carries a wide variety of high-quality Purina Mills feed products, which are formulated to meet the nutritional needs for each phase of an animal’s life. For the comfort of the consumer, Purina Mills backs every product with a written guarantee: “If you are not satisfied with the quality of this product, Purina Mills will replace it or money back on your last purchase.” The store also carries an array of animal accessories such as crates, toys, collars, leashes, figurines, games and cards. When it comes to animal health, Harold’s of-

62 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

fers products for fleas, grooming and worming, as well. While the store supports a small staff of 13, the knowledgeable employees at Harold’s Farm Supply have many years of experience in the field and have extensive knowledge regarding their large product line. The business has stayed in the family throughout the past decade with Bill and his father, daughter and sonin-law working there on a regular basis. When Bill was asked what his favorite part of the job was, no cliché answer was given. He said, “I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world – I get to work with my dad every single day. Most people don’t get the chance to spend this much time with their dad, but I do. I love it.” Bill’s wife Rhonda is the president of their local 4-H club, and the couple is also actively involved in the National FFA Organization, a group that centers its efforts on agricultural education. The family also sponsors events at the state convention for the FFA. Bill is also on the board of directors for the Farm Bureau. Through these and numerous other

acts, Harold’s Farm Supply constantly displays strong support for the agricultural community. The Web site for Harold’s Farm Supply is beneficial to potential or current customers. It offers a learning center for those who may not be familiar with the world of agriculture and feed. This portion of the site includes FAQ’s, a library on different animals and links to multiple subjects regarding cattle, chow, deer, elk, fish and other aquatics, goats, horses, rabbits and swine. The site also has a feed bin section that educates consumers on animal feed, animal health and dietary information. Harold’s Farm Supply is located at 12990 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Dover, Fla. The store is open Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and is open Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. For further information on the company or general inquiries, feel free to call (813) 6891570 or visit the Web site at www.


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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 63

business & finance


Consider Inflation When You Retire During your working years, you put money away, hoping that it will grow enough to help provide you with a comfortable retirement. But once you retire, haven’t you reached your goal? You don’t still need to invest for growth, do you? Actually, you do. You may be retiring, but the cost of living marches on. In fact, even with a relatively mild inflation rate of three percent, you’ll pay about twice as much for goods and services in 25 years as you do today. And since you could easily spend two or three decades in retirement, you need to be prepared for these costs. At first glance, you might think that this situation presents you with a daunting challenge. Historically, stocks are the only financial assets that have significantly outperformed inflation. Yet, as a retiree, you may be nervous about investing in equities, especially given the stock market’s performance last year. How can you stay ahead of inflation without taking on too much risk? Unquestionably, you’ll have to manage your investment portfolio very carefully during your retirement years. But it’s important to realize that you do have options. Here are a few suggestions: – Consider dividend-paying stocks. By doing some research, you can find stocks that have paid — and even increased — dividends for many consecutive years. Obviously, a source of rising income can help you in your battle against inflation — and many dividend-paying stocks also offer the potential for long-term growth. Keep in mind, though, that a company can decrease or eliminate its stock dividend at any time. – Create an inflation-fighting withdrawal strategy. During your retirement, you will probably need to take withdrawals from all your resources — your taxable brokerage and savings accounts; your tax-deferred 64 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

accounts, such as your Traditional IRA and your 401(k); and your taxfree accounts, such as your Roth IRA. (A Roth IRA’s earnings grow tax-free if you’ve had your account for at least five years and don’t start taking withdrawals until you’re 59-1/2). Obviously, the longer you can preserve your tax-advantaged growth potential, the better off you’ll be when it comes to staying ahead of inflation. Consequently, you may want to take withdrawals from your taxable account first, tap into your Traditional IRA and your 401(k) next and save the Roth IRA for last. (If you’re 70-1/2 or older, however, you need to take required minimum distributions from your Traditional IRA and your 401(k).) That said, this is just a rule of thumb, as your actual strategy may change from year to year, depending on your expected tax burden. – Think about some TIPS. Most types of Treasury bills or bonds pay a fixed rate of return, which makes them susceptible to inflation. However, you can also invest in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS. The principal of a TIPS increases with inflation and decreases with deflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. When your TIPS mature, you are paid the adjusted principal or original principal, whichever is greater. Be aware, though, that you’ll be taxed on the annual inflation adjustments, even though you won’t receive this money until your bond is redeemed. Consult with your tax advisor to determine if you should put your TIPS in a tax-deferred account, such as a Traditional IRA.
 You’ll have to cope with inflation throughout your retirement years. But by making the right moves, at the right time, you can greatly boost your chances of enjoying the lifestyle you’ve envisioned.

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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 65

business & finance





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66 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

Background: I was born and raised in Plant City, and I come from a family with a long history of agriculture. I was raised mainly growing spring and fall crops such as squash, eggplant, okra, collards, hot peppers, etc. I have picked and planted citrus and cleaned up after season. As I got older, I worked with cows and fencing. Aspirations: To maintain the cows and horses we have and to control the rising cost. I’m comfortable with my endeavors and have no immediate plans. Inspirations: My inspirations are to mainly my father, Mack, and Lu-

cille Griffin. They taught me hard work, respect and leadership. Why I am a success: I graduated from Plant City High School, and I completed massage school in the late ‘80s. I’ve been in business for myself since 1986. I have raised cattle and horses since 1995. I’ve competed in a team roping championship, and I have a beautiful family with a loving Christian home. What’s next? Lord willing, I’d like to get my pilot’s license. I also plan to get to a point to sell my holdings and do more for the Lord, like mission trips, etc. I’d like to keep myself centered on the Lord’s help.

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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 67

business & finance


Pam Warnock sits and smiles with fellow employee Carol Mueller. Photo by Tammy Simpson

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68 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Background: I am very proud to have been born in Plant City to a wonderful mom and dad along with an older brother and later a sister. My family enjoyed outdoor activities like going to our lake house, hunting fishing and anything agriculture related. My father enjoyed having some cattle as a pastime, and my uncle was a chicken farmer. I learned to really appreciate the impact that agriculture has on our community through my experiences with the Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City FFA, Community Friends and the agricultural experiences in which my children participated.

out how FFA helps each individual find their own way. It is animals, it is farming, it is ranching, but it is also computers, it is business, it is speech, it is self-image, it is self-confidence, it is character building, it is work ethic, it’s the individual and it is the team all at the same time.

Aspirations: I have always wanted to do well in whatever I did. I started working in banking while I was attending Hillsborough Community College and have continued in that field. I met my husband, Tommy Warnock, here in Plant City, although he was from Tennessee. We just celebrated our 27th anniversary and have two children, Trey and Brooke. Trey is 23 years old and is working on his master’s degree at the University of Florida in the area of agriculture. Brooke is 19 years old, attends HCC and will transfer to UF to pursue a degree in ag education. I can remember all the leadership roles both Trey and Brooke had in their FFA chapters and the things it taught all of us. I can remember my daughter finding

Why I am a success: I believe I am successful because of the foundations that my mom, my dad and my family laid out for me. I also know that with out the Lord, my life would not be as it is. He is my confidence and my strength.

Inspirations: My family has always been an inspiration to me. My parents were strong Christian influences on me. They taught me so much about life and how to, and how not to, handle things. My husband and children have also been huge inspirations to me.

What’s next? I believe that we have to pass on all that we have learned and grown to appreciate. God gives to us so that we may in turn pass on to others what He has trusted us with. I will always appreciate FFA for all that it is and all that it stands for. I will respect agriculture and all that it is to our community and nation. Most of all I will always trust God and His leadership.


january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 69

Live the American Dream in Plant City!

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70 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009




This is a special advertising section

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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 at only $149,900. #24

COUNTRY CHARM - Among canopy of oaks find lovely 2Bd/2Ba, 1900 SF home, charming kitchen w/appl., huge 18x24 Family rm, all on 1.70 acres. Only $119,900. A wonderful buy at this price. #38

BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED HOME - 3Bd/4Ba, 3251 SF features tons of beautiful crown molding & Wainscot throughout the home. Lg kitchen is perfect for entertaining w/cherry wood cabinets & granite countertops. HUBBA HUBBA …guys you will LOVE the large media rm w/kitchenette, perfect for any sports fan. Screened heated pool & spa is perfect for a summer swim. Priced at $485,000. #30

ON GOLDEN POND! – Floral Lakes offers sunsets & memories on waterfront lot. 2Bd/2Ba 1152 SF double wide is beautifully maintained w/year round all purpose room & screened carport. A value that you won‘t find elsewhere. Call for more info. $82,500. #14

$29,900 - Nearly ½ acre with 3Bd/1Ba home tucked off street in great area, you will find this hard to beat value! Call for more info! #92

WELCOME HOME - Pretty as a picture & beautifully maintained on 1.17 AC, this quiet retreat is just what you need! 3Bd/2Ba, carport, sheds, deep well & more. Only $97,500. #88

VISION & AMBITION - Is what is needed, Downtown Plant City Historic Dist. Offers 3924 SF, 6 - 1Bd/1Ba Apts - Sold “as is“. Great Value $145,000. #46

SUNSHINE AND WINDCHIMES - Enjoy them both while sitting on patio of this 3Bd/2Ba Forest Park beauty w/nearly 1800 SF. Family friendly split floor plan offers convenient large open, fully equipped kitchen/Fm rm combo. Warm wood laminate flooring & ceramic enhances floors. SELLER WILL CONSIDER LEASE OPTION/LEASE PURCHASE!! A Must See @ $170,000. #5

HIGHLY VISIBLE COMMERCIAL SITE - Plant City, with easy on/off access to I-4, this site offers over 4409 SF in existing English Tudor bldg. Plus outdoor lanai. Presently thriving Gift & Tea Shoppe, perfect for office space, retail, spa, beauty shop, fast food, plenty of parking. Call for more info. $989,000. #70

REDUCED DESIREABLE OAKBRIDGE! 3137 SF, on ½ AC corner lot. 4Bd/3Ba plus office, LR, DR, FR w/ Fireplace & built-ins. Generous Master suite, ceramic tile in traffic areas. Huge screened lanai w/sparkling pool. REDUCED!! $359,900. #78

BUDGET FRIENDLY – Just starting out or downsizing? Don’t miss 3Bd/1Ba, 928 SF home, easy drive to I-4 & shopping. Nice kitchen w/ appliances & interior laundry makes this a great steal @ only $30,000. #42

LAKEFRONT! – Luxury at only $169,900! Walden Lake Beauty – 2 story, nearly 1600 SF, 3Bd/2.5Ba & loft in great condition! Magnificent waterfront sunsets are yours – Won’t last long! #37


FOR RENT - 3Bd/2Ba mobile home, like new on 1 acre in Knights Griffin. Only $800.00 per month.


With over 1349 SF on YMCA Dr, 345 FT on Mud Lake Rd & Alexander St, this is the ideal site for Multi-Family, ACLF, Medical Facility and more! Zoned CU - 7.25 acres just North of New YMCA! Asking $1,600,000 #34

EASY LIVING - Rent this 3Bd/2.5Ba town home in Town N Country, huge FR, lovely screened patio, upstairs balcony overlooking pond & plenty of storage space. $1165/Month. Call for more details.

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Hwy 574 - 1.33 AC, this highly visible corner site is perfect for retail, business office, warehouse, etc. Priced right @ $399,500. Please call for more info. #60


In Thonotosassa sits a beautiful tree dotted 1.62 acre lot waiting for your new home! Quiet cul-de-sac on the end, this is a bargain at only $124,900. Call for more info. #68


“Short Sale”/Foreclosure Specialists

10 acre tract can be developed w/8 units/acre or 5 duplexes per acre. Site recently annexed into City of Wauchula w/R-2 zoning and Low Residential Land Use. Call for details. Priced at only $225,000.#89


5 acre with development potential located in high traffic area. - Additional property available. $175,000. #13

COUNTRY RENTAL – 1.48 acres located in Plant City. 3Bd/2Ba, 1788 SF w/FR, LR. Neat, clean & shows well! Only $1350/Month. Call for more info.

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72 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Y R N E A A M S O E N R A S E WHY R E H T You may have to sell your home, business, land or farm in 2009. Yes, the Real Estate market is not doing well, but there are several signs that the situation will begin to get better this year


1. 2. 3. 4.

There may be FINANCIAL ISSUES facing you and your family. There may be a JOB TRANSFER in the near future. You may want to DOWNSIZE or UPSIZE. You look at DECLINING PRICES and feel that you cannot take less than what you might have received as recently as two years ago. 5. On the other hand, you see MANY BARGAINS out there, especially new homes and you want to take advantage of them.


For newcomers to eastern Hillsborough County, I’m the guy who has LISTED and/or SOLD more property in this area than most Realtors never even accomplish in a lifetime…..some $35 million in the past two years alone. (In Spite of a Recession)

Contact Ken for special deals at Lowes


AT FLORIDA’S AND AMERICA’S DOMINANT REAL ESTATE COMPANY…… COLDWELL BANKER RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE. Mobile (813) 716-0187 Office (813) 754-3586 X206 • E-Mail Award Winning WEB Site With NO OBLIGATION I will be pleased to meet you and your family or business colleagues and give you a presentation that no other REALTOR could possibly do. I’ll tell it “like it is” and you can then decide what to do. That’s with 30 years of Business & Real Estate Experience. SHORT SALES *** FORECLOSURES They can have a powerful impact on future CREDIT. IT’S NOT THE TIME FOR AN INEXPERIENCED REALTOR. For your financial well-being, there’s only one Realtor to call----- and TRUST Ken Lawrence-Realtor/Notary Public Certified Home Marketing Specialist----Community Commercial Agent


Single family detached condo in private gated community. Two models available! The Orchid features 2BR/2BA/2CG with den & study over 2,000 square feet. Offered at $247,500. MLS #T2331401. The Aspen features 2BR/2BA/2CG with den 1,489 square feet. Offered at $197,500. MLS #T2311539. Call Maddie at (813) 382-8382 to preview.


No HOA - no deed restrictions. 8-stall barn w/tack & feed rooms, water + electric in each stall. Fenced & cross-fenced. Pond. 3922 sq ft, 2-story, custom-built home w/4 BR & 3.5 BA. Kitchen remodel just completed granite counters, new appliances. Master bath remodeled with new counters, mirrors & fixtures. Formal living & dining areas, Family room w/woodburning fireplace, and huge bonus room currently used as additional dining area. Inside laundry/storage room. Oversized, screened lanai, in-ground pool, several utility sheds including one for horse trailer, boat or RV. Hookups for travel trailer. Offered at $634,848. MLS #T2311859. Call Lynne Halleran, (813) 763-1881 or Jimmie Robinson, (813) 390-6441


This home is wired and wireless and This 5 bedroom 4 bath home has it all, starting with the Theater Room featuring leather recliners and 108” screen. Situated on 1.2 acres with privacy fence, floating wood floors, central vac, tank-less/continuous water heater, luxury kitchen with granite tops & pot filler over the gas range with double oven & 3 pantries. Screened lanai with built-in TV & full bath. There’s much more. This home is a definite must see! Offered at $535,000. MLS #T2346647. Call Robb Lusk at (813) 967-5107 or Call Jimmie Robinson at (813) 390-6441.


Plant City Distribution Center located 3 miles from I-4. Building is in excellent condition. Situated on 8.9 acres. 21,140 square feet of cooler/freezer space, 23,320 square feet of dry storage/warehouse space, 6,500 square feet of covered dock space (open sided, roof covering only) with 15 dock doors and 3,200 square feet of office space. Perimeter of site is security fenced. Price Reduced! Offered at $3,200,000. Call Dave McCarthy at (813) 263-4797.


3 bedroom, 2 bath home on a cul-de-sac lot, fenced with a great pool and a 14x12 patio (all weather). Double-sided fireplace. Home warranty. Immediate occupancy available. Offered at $199,900. MLS #T2343867. Call Jean Bridgmon at (813) 478-3107.


Darling house - great location!!! Quiet, shaded street of well-maintained homes. Close to shopping, schools and entertainment but still private. This 3/2 has gleaming hardwood floors, new carpet and fresh paint on the inside, paneled Family Room, 2 fireplaces. and a new hot water heater has been recently installed! Screened porch on back is great for entertaining. Fenced yard has big shade trees, avocado & loquat trees as well as additional flowering shrubs. So pretty! All appliances stay - includes washer & dryer! You won’t believe your luck when you see this one. Special pricing at $159,402. MLS #T2324378. Call Lynne Halleran at (813) 763-1881.


Price Reduction! Owners Motivated! Huge open kitchen with Viking cook top, island, & walk in pantry. Breakfast area overlooks pool, and flows into the large family/great room. Great room leads to pool area through French doors. House sits on partially fenced one-acre lot. So many amenities to list: granite, ceramic tile throughout with carpet in bedrooms, water softener, built-in pest control system, inside laundry room and much more. A gem of a property that will not last long. Offered at $279,000. MLS #T2294106. Call Malissa Crawford, (813) 967-0168.


Beautiful 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bath estate on nearly 3 acres of land. Features a wraparound covered porch, and a pond with fish. The fenced, gated & pristine property offers much privacy. Zoned Agriculture, you can have a horse or two, grow your own vegetables & flowers & have plenty of storage space for equipment, with two 2 car garages. The exterior of the home looks like a typical 1920’s southern mansion. The interior has every convenience. Worth every penny! MLS #T2304957. Offered at $498,000. Call Ken Lawrence at (813) 716-0187.


3 bedroom, 2 ½ bath, 2 car garage home on a 4.63 acre corner lot located on a secluded dead end street with a screened lanai, spa, summer kitchen and pool bath. Small pond on property. Sold As-Is. Offered at $229,900. MLS #T2347524. Call Jean Bridgmon at (813) 478-3107.


PRICE REDUCED! Tucked away on a private road in SE Plant City, this custom home sits on a beautiful 2+ acre conservation lot near the end of a cul-de-sac. Split bedroom plan 5BR/3.5BA + den, 3-car garage, screened saltwater pool, spa with oversized lanai, 10x20 utility shed & 17x19 bonus room! Hardwood flooring and ceramic tile are in the traffic areas. The kitchen features 42” high wood cabinets, stainless appliances, solid surface counters, 2 convection wall ovens and a back-saving drawer-style dishwasher! Real wood fireplace, inthe-wall pest control. Offered at $419,514. MLS #T2340295. Call Lynne Halleran at (813) 763-1881.


3 Bedrooms, 2 ½ bathroom home on large lot. Open floor plan is perfect for entertaining. Brand new, updated bathrooms and new roof in December 2007. Offered at $184,900. MLS #T2332651. Call Malissa Crawford at (813) 967-0168.


HUGE PRICE DROP! In better times, this lovely home in prestigious Walden Lake, would have sold for well over $400,000. That was then! This is now! This possible 5 bedroom, or 4 with den/office in Aston Woods has been totally upgraded. Gorgeous, caged & heated rectangular pool & spa with large lanai. Larger kitchen with top grade appliances, surrounded by a wrap-around bar/ counter. New roof in 2006, recently overhauled a/c, new lanai/pool screening, wired for surround sound, new intercom. Home warranty. MLS #T2322556. Offered at $299,000. Call Ken Lawrence at (813) 716-0187.

Call us for your Residential and Commercial Real Estate needs

1513 Jim Redman Parkway, Plant City



Thank You Plant City for a successful 2008!


Custom built 5,200+ sq. ft. home in prestigious, gated Cambridge Cove is located on a cul-de-sac with beautiful lake & golf course view. Formal living/dining room features Brazilian Mahogany floors. Lush tropical pool area w/spa & outdoor kitchen is perfect for entertaining. Huge kitchen w/double ovens, double ovens, an island & breakfast nook. Family room & master bedroom both have fireplaces. Invite your friends over! Offered at $599,000. MLS #T2338175


3 BR/2 BA brick home in a wonderful family subdivision with no deed restrictions or HOA fees. Relax in the beautifully landscaped and shaded 1/2 acre yard while enjoying the fall weather. Home features 2300+ SF living, brick fireplace, unique floor plan and plenty of room to ring in the new year with friends! $225,000. MLS#T2313351.


8-stall barn w/tack & feed rooms, water + electric in each stall. Fenced & cross-fenced. Pond. 3922 sq ft, 2-story, custom-built home w/4 BR & 3.5 BA. Kitchen remodel just completed - granite counters, new appliances. Master bath remodeled with new counters, mirrors & fixtures. Formal living & dining areas, Family room w/wood-burning fireplace, and huge bonus room. Inside laundry/storage room. Oversized, screened lanai, in-ground pool, several utility sheds including one for horse trailer, boat or RV. Offered at $634,848. MLS #T2311859.


3 BR/2 BA/2 CG block home built in 2005 with almost 1900 SF living plus a 1 BR/1 BA block home with 600 SF living and attached carport. Includes a shared pool and situated on 1+ acre in north Plant City. Only $259,900. MLS#T2346958.



3 BR/2 BA /2 CG block home in the country on 1 acre of land. Home has over 1600 SF living, fireplace, new carpet & tile floors, new roof & A/C plus all new appliances. Now only $215,910. MLS#T2326312

Polk County 3 BR/2 BA block home w/over 1600 SF living, new roof and lots of potential. Home sits on nice size corner lot w/carport. Now only $99,900. MLS#T23332662.


t will WOW you! 5 BR/4 BA/3+ CG including tons of upgrades for the music/movie lover in you. Home features formal dining, screened lanai, central vacuum system, floating wood floors, luxury kitchen, PLUS a theater room w/surround sound and so much more! All this sits on 1.2 acres convenient to I-4 making it ideal for the commuter. $535,000. MLS#T2346647.

GREAT STARTER HOME 2 BR/1 BA home that would make a great rental for extra income. New roof, new appliances and fresh paint inside and out. Priced to sell at $65,900. MLS#T2329916.





East Tampa - 2 BR/1 BA mobile home where remodel has begun with new wiring and French doors. Come give it your special final touches. $45,000. MLS#T2328039.

2 BR/1 BA mobile home in Thonotosassa. Ideal for a fixer upper or investment opportunity as a rental. Being sold AS IS. Now only $35,900. MLS#T2325499.



Commercial building near hospital. Zoned for offices. Under remodel now. Buy now; pick carpet colors and layout for your particular business. Offered at $425,000. MLS #T2330860.

Commercial steel and metal office and warehouse building with 5,000 total Square Feet and 4,000 Square Feet heated and cooled. Extra lots totaling .8 acres. Zoned C1 and M1. Offered at $475,000.

CAMERON RD-PLANT CITY 5 acre homesite w/grandfather oaks and the privacy of a dead end road. $275,000. MLS#T2339960. E TERRACE DR-PLANT CITY 1.68 acres in area of newer homes convenient to I-4. Restricted to homes of 2000 SF or more. Owner Financing Available. $79,500. MLS#T2339873.

SLEEPY HOLLOW RD-PLANT CITY S WIGGINS RD-PLANT CITY One acre with oak trees off Knights Griffin Rd- 4 acres on Wiggins Rd with pond. Great locasome deed restrictions. Now only $69,900. tion for your new home and some privacy too! MLS#T2318671. $169,000. MLS#T2334292. COOPER RD-PLANT CITY ROLLING VISTA LP-DOVER 2+ acre parcel with grandfather oaks, paved road Perfect building lot in new community of frontage and small pond on the property. Your new larger homes. Ready for your dream home of home would be a perfect fit - mobile homes OK. 2400 SF living or more. Reduced to $72,400. Now only $50,000. MLS#T2270664. MLS#T2324771


Dedicated to the Value of Home & Family


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

HOMES UNDER 70,000 9818 James St, Thonotosassa- $39,900 1706 Lime St, Plant City - $65,900 4807 Fowler Rd, Tampa - $45,000 SOUTHWIND DR-MULBERRY Building lot with easy access to the airport. Two separate lots available-$49,900 each. MLS#T2333753

Jimmie Robinson - 813-754-3586 ext 222

E-mail: • toll free


real estate

NEWS ABOUT 2009 FOR WALDEN LAKE s u b m i t t e d by N ata l i e S w e e t

The New Year is here and it is bringing excitement to Walden Lake. Let’s go over some of the upcoming things, but we’ll recap December 2008 first. The winners of the decorating contests for the neighborhood entrances of Walden Lake were in the category of larger entrances. First place went to Laurel Lake, second place to Emerald Forest and third place to the Paddocks. For the smaller entrances, first place went to Hampton Place, second place to Silverlake and third place to Wedgewood. Honorable mentions in both categories went to Silverwood, Walden Woods and Fairway Estates. Rent or own is a question that has been talked about at the Walden Lake

Master Association Board for some time. The board would like to construct an office building and storage space at the Polo Field grounds. Plans have been drawn and bids are in, but how to pay for the construction has not been decided, and it will be up to the membership – that means the homeowners. They will be asked to vote on this issue at a special meeting. I am completely for a one-time special assessment. The proposed amount is $90 paid in two installments of $45 each, six months apart. As I have said in the past, for the amenities that are in Walden Lake, the annual dues are very low and by funding this project up front, it will help keep these dues low.

76 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Stop in and meet Betty, the new receptionist at the master association office. With Betty in the office, it frees up Marlene to work on enforcement of the deed restrictions. More and more neighborhoods are getting involved and having Marlene do their enforcement of deed restrictions. The Walden Lake Dog Park is becoming a reality. Residents can purchase a paver for $100 and help pave the way toward the start of the construction of the Dog Park, tentatively scheduled for early 2009. People can dedicate a paver to their past or present pet, favorite aunt or have their business engraved on it. Please call Stephanie Springborn at (813) 728-8802 for information or to become a member of the Dog Park Committee. The pavers are on sale through February 2009. Also, a golf tournament is scheduled for Feb. 20. Anyone who is interested in playing or sponsoring a hole should call Angie Inzerillo at (813) 230-4453. Visit the Web site www.waldenlakedog- for information on any of these events. Come check out the new facilities at Walden Lake. There is a completely renovated fitness center and pool, tennis courts with two new clay courts, a newly renovated pro shop with new bar, as well as a new club lounge and renovations to all banquet facilities. There are many different types of memberships available, and they are still available with no initiation fees. There will be community events coming up in the spring, such as pool parties, open houses and more. Anyone who is booking his or her next birthday party, anniversary party, wedding, graduation, business meeting, wedding or reception, banquet or tournament should think of Walden Lake for the venue. For information on memberships or events, call Michele at (813) 752-1171 ext. 222.


My husband Randy and I were referred to Nate when we began the search for our home- we were told he was the best! We were in our forties and this would be our first home purchase so we were very "naive" about the whole process. Nate understood this and he took us under his wing and made sure all transactions went smoothly from the beginning to the end. We let him take control with peace of mind that everything was being taken care of promptly, accurately and with true honesty. Nate was always just a phone call away with all my many questions and just a quick glance and a nod at the closing table was often what I needed to know that things were ok and proceeding as Nate had expected them to. I would never use anyone else for a home mortgage and highly recommend him to everyone. Nate was and is the best. Thanks so much! Randy & Sharon Maxwell

Renee CoRzine




Realtor multi-million Dollar Producer

1607 S. Alexander Street • Suite 102



EAGLE GREENS IN WALDEN LAKE 2/2/2, 1364 SF, Granite, Wood Cabinets, on Golf Course, Split Bedrooms, Scnd Lanai



4/2/2, 2170 SF, Fireplace, Lg Kitchen, FR, Scnd Lanai, Fruit Trees, 1/3 Acre



5/3/3, 2787 SF, 2006 Built, Bonus Rm, 1 acre, 32’x18’ Scrnd Lanai, In-Law Suite



3/2/2, 1704 SF, Vaulted Ceilings, Screened Lanai, Fenced, Corner Lot



4/2/2, 1974 SF, Den, FR, LR, Indoor Util, 2 Carport, Shed, 1/4 Acre, Fenced



4/2/2, 1843 SF, Split Plan, LR/DR/FR, Fenced, Landscaping

110 W. Reynolds St. Suite 104 Plant City, FL Phone: 813-757-9727 or 813-363-2047 www .mille nnium home License #CBC1251837

We Build On Your Lot Or Ours rs

We Build Your Floor Plan Or Ou


Springfield Off spArkmAn rd $69,900

Southern MeadowS Off Turkey Creek 1 Mile From Walden Lake


1+ ACre hOmesiTes AvAilAble in bOTh subdivisiOns

Homes On 1 Acre From Only *


4 Bedroom, 3 Bath, 2200 Sq’ Living Area

Call Natalie Sweet • 813-758-9586

Marketed By:

One Acre Homesites From Only *


*as part of custom home package

Call Angel Miller • 813-546-9863

78 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

Private finanCing, Private lenders s u b m i t t e d by n at e d av i S

When credit markets tighten up, people usually hear more and more about private financing for real estate. Private financing could be when a seller/owner finances the sale of a home, holds a second mortgage or even loans money on a property that he or she does not have any interest in other than the loan itself. There are many pros and cons to this type of financing. The most obvious pros for the borrower are reduced closing costs, the availability of the financing and the typically less stringent qualifying criteria – credit, income, etc. The cons are higher interest rates, lack of credit reporting and lack of customerservice options. The biggest difference that people will typically see is the large down payment requirement that typically comes with private financing. Anyone who is in a position to purchase a home should have a down payment of typically 20 percent or more, but do not qualify for conventional financing because a person may be best suited to seek out private financing. Private lenders do not have to impose credit score requirements, appraisal requirements, etc. They have the flexibility to loan on what they see fit usually using common sense underwriting. The best strategy to use when utilizing private financing to secure real estate is to purchase the property with private financing and then begin to work on correcting or improving the things that prohibited a person to secure lower rate conventional financing to begin with. Once these items – income, credit score, etc. – are rectified, one could then apply for a refinance loan to lower his or her interest rate. To learn more about obtaining private financing or to be a private lender, feel free to call me at the number below. Nate Davis – 813.759.2274 –

Natalie Sweet 813-758-9586

Cathy Martin 813-376-0891

Angel Miller 813-546-9863

For “Another Sweet Sale” Call 813-758-9586. Call Us For All Your Real Estate Needs! POLO LOVER’S DREAM

One of a kind Mediterranean style mansion nestled on 4.5 acres surrounded by horse ranches. Too many upgrades to mention. Huge outdoor pavilion. Everything you want and so much more. Call Natalie 758-9586 or Angel 546-9863.


Beautiful pool home overlooking the 18th tee. Decadent master suite w/fireplace & luxurious master bath. Kitchen overlooks the great roomw/fireplace. Pool/spa & outdoor kitchen. Newer roof & A/C units. $285,000 Call Cathy 813-376-0891


Rare Opportunity to build that dream home in Walden Lake. Fabulous 3/4 A Golf Course Frontage lot in the gated prestigious Hampton Place neighborhood. $189,900 Call Natalie 758-9586



Ready within 30 days is this fabulous custom home with over 4500 sq’ of living area. 1 Acre Lot, Gourmet Kitchen, wood floors and much much more! $549,900 Call Natalie for details 758-9586.

Enjoy your privacy in this beautifully landscaped home with over 1 + Acre in the Aston Woods neighborhood of Walden Lake. 4 Bedrooms, 3 Baths, 3 Car Garage featuring formal living & dining rooms, family room w/fireplace, large open kitchen, solar heated pool & spa. $278,000 Call Natalie 813-758-9586.



3 Bedroom, 2 Bath Home with Great Room floor plan features beautiful wood floors, designer master bath, screened lanai and peaceful back yard setting. Priced to sell at $174,900. Call Natalie 813-758-9586.

You will love this 3 Bedroom 2 Bath home. Huge great room w/cathedral ceilings & fireplace. Oversized master bedroom, with large secondary bedrooms. Enjoy your pool in the fenced back yard. $179,000 Call Natalie 758-9586




Immaculate 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath w/garage home built in 2004 is just waiting for you! Tile in the living areas & brand new carpet in the bedrooms. Large great room with open floor plan & vaulted ceiling make this the perfect home for you and at an affordable price of only $139.900. Call Cathy at 813-376-0891.

Welcome to this 3-4 Bedroom Home w/2 Baths, Huge Great Room, Nice Yard w/Utility Shed & almost new Roof. This home has been very lovingly cared for by it’s owners. $169,900 Call Natalie for more details!

2 Family Home plus an additional unit over the garage in the heart of the Historic District. Great Location, Great Price! $189,900. Call Angel at 813-546-0863.


This 3 Bedroom with a 2 Car Attached Garage may need some TLC but when your done, you will have a great piece of real estate and you will love the large fenced yard. Call Natalie 758-9586


3 Bedroom, 2 Bath home with almost 1700 sq’ of living area on 2 1/2 Acres. The kitchen has been remodeled with new cabinets & corian counter tops, large living room and huge bonus room. 4 horse stall barn with tack room & pasture area. $200,000 Call Natalie 813-758-9586.


Hometown Banking at its best! Looking for ward to ser ving Plant City in 2009

Come and bank with your friends and neighbors

509 509 West West Alexander Alexander Street Street •• Plant Plant City City (across (across from from Plant Plant City City High High School) School)

813-707-6506 1016 Bloomingdale Ave. • Valrico


real estate

A YEAR OF OPPORTUNITY S u b m i t t e d by J o - a n lus k

While we hope it is a happy and prosperous New Year, let us look for the opportunity in 2009. As for real estate, here are a few things from which we can benefit: 1. Home Sales – What an opportunity to buy. With home prices at their lowest and mortgage rates below 5 percent, you may never get this chance again. Yeah, I know you may have a house to sell and you don’t want to give it away, but look what you’re getting on the other side of the deal. There are some good deals just waiting for you. 2. First-Time Home Buyers – Get ready. There are some excellent opportunities to learn and prepare for making a smart investment at such a great time. 2009 will bring changes in tax laws, the $7,500 tax credit, affordability, interest rates, seller incentives and the list goes on. 3. Sellers – Maybe it’s not the best time to sell, but once again, you can position your home to sell quickly (if you can afford to) so you can take advantage on the buying side and make up for any loss. If you are just putting your home on the market, then price it right the first time to get the market’s attention. You need to be aggressive about your price if you are serious about selling. A little drop in your price will not get the buyer’s attention until you’ve had to do it several times. At that point, buyers know they have the advantage. Finally, if you are struggling with your mortgage, there are steps that you can take. The best advice that can be given is to communicate with your lender. Don’t wait until you’ve missed a payment. Be proactive and seek help. If you have to sell and you owe more than your home is worth, then have the hard conversations with the lender early to avoid delays. Talk to a realtor who has proven experience in negotiating short-sale transactions. Know who you are dealing with, know who is helping you and know what your next steps are – get help and get references. May the New Year bring peace and prosperity, and most of all, great and rewarding opportunities.

Arbonne’s Figure 8 Weight Loss System takes the guesswork out of weight loss. Start out the new year in control of your health.

For more information contact Christine Miller.....813-719-9745 WWW.BUSYLIVING.MYARBONNE.COM

80 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Team Wainoris...Selling Plant City and Lakeland

Randall & Kathleen Wainoris

REALTOR® / Attorney at Law

REALTOR® / Notary

Multi-Million Dollar Producers

813-997-3000 863-608-1557


TOLL FREE: 888-488-2822 • FAX 813-659-0196




Charming two story turn of the century colonial. 4 bedrooms, 2 baths with new roof and a/c. Home has been completely rewired with a totally remodeled kitchen. Large corner lot with beautiful mature trees and detached garage. Short sale opportunity: bring offers!

GOLF COURSE POOL HOME Immaculate 4 bed/3 bath Plant City home on a beautiful private gated street in Walden Lake. Gorgeous golf course views. Wonderful pool area with outdoor kitchen. New wood flooring in formal areas. Asking just $374,900.

PANORAMIC WATER VIEWS! Incredible 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath pool home with spectacular waterfront views from virtually every room. Tremendous pool area with water falls and outdoor kitchen. Enormous master suite with sitting area and fireplace overlooking Walden Lake. Volume ceilings, gourmet kitchen, 2 wine cellars and custom wood work throughout. Asking just $879,000.



Beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home directly on Lake Parker. Property includes fishing pier and boat ramp. Large F/R, L/R w/ fireplace. Huge deck overlooking water. Reduced to $247,000.


Adorable 3 bedroom home in great location. Completely refurbished with new central a/c, fresh paint inside and out, remodeled kitchen and new carpet and tile floors. Asking $99,900.


Completely renovated pool home on beautiful property in Plant City. New granite kitchen, formal LR/DR, family room w/ stone fire place, 4 bed/2.5 bath plus In-Law suite with add’l bedroom, living room, bath and kitchen. Reduced to $349,000.


Beautiful 4 bedroom home is nestled on a quiet gated street in the Wedgewood golf community, directly on Lake Gibson in Lakeland. Huge gourmet kitchen with wood cabinets and granite counters. Large wrap around deck overlooking pool and lake. Short Sale. Asking just $395,000.

What is a short sale and why do I care? Short sales are now an important component of our local real estate market. In a short sale, the seller of the real estate owes more money than the property is worth....sound familiar? Since home values have fallen significantly over recent months; many property owners have been faced with the uncomfortable situation whereby they owe more money than they can possibly get for their home based on current market conditions. All too often, and through no fault of the homeowner, folks have no choice but to move. Since they owe too much on their home, they are faced with a dilemma: foreclosure or even worse! Banks lose money on foreclosures, and most homeowners would like to work out something......but how? Often short sales are a viable option. As a seller, a short sale may allow their home to be sold for less than the amount owed and often avoid foreclosure.* To the prospective buyer, with so many short sales on the market, there are more opportunities to purchase well maintained properties at very reasonable prices. Would you like to sell your home, but are afraid that you owe more than it is worth? Are you looking to buy a home and interested in getting a great deal in a down market? Call us here at Team Wainoris: we have a lot of experience in short sales and we can probably help you!


Adorable 2 bedroom/2 bath on quiet Lakeland street. Very open floor plan with volume ceilings. Short Sale. Asking $85,000.


North Lakeland 1.38 acres: $47,000, North Lakeland 1.4 acres: $49,000, North Plant City: private 10 acres with manufactured home $299,000. Let us help you build your dream!

*Please consult your tax advisor for your individual tax considerations.

Exit Realty is Growing WWW.TEAMWAINORIS.COM

Where Quality of Life Is Celebrated!

Make a deposit & receive up to

20% Off the Entrance Fee for Studio, One or Two Bedroom Accommodations

LIFECARE at the Estates is the solution to your worries. Celebrate life while enjoying the comfort and peace of mind that comes with planning for your future. Choice, independence, wellness and new friendships and experiences make the Estates a place where “Retirement Living is Reinvented.” Call us to learn more about lifecare and more info on our rental specials! (863) 853-5505


82 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

Janet Calvello 813-967-1939 Realtor®

Becky Bowdish 813-376-2100

Jayne Rawnsley 813-763-0495

Property Manager/Realtor



Barbara Layton 813-967-1937 Realtor®

Brenda Salyers 813-230-1120 Realtor®

Carol Brassart 813-918-4248 Realtor®

David Scruggs 813-695-2035

Sue Daniels 813-751-4035



Terri Caroll 813-508-1957 Realtor®

SaleS diviSion - Full Service real eState company

A LEGACY OF QUALITY & CRAFTSMANSHIP! This 3 br/2ba home offers the best of warmth & charm with modern upgrades throughout. Pocket doors, wood floors, fireplaces and more! MLS #T2332801- $189,000. Call Jayne for your personal tour - 813-763-0495

107 N. Granada Ct / Walden Lake 3/2/2 Villa on Golf Course. reduced to $149,500. Janet Calvello 813-967-1939

Walden Lake Preserve–Gated golf course community townhome. 2 br/2 ba down and large loft up with 1/2 bath. Sliding glass doors that open to the view of the golf course . Inside utility and 2 car garage. FOR RENT includes the water and cable $ 1100.00 Call Becky 813-376-2100

5 bed /3 bath /2 car / Pool in Boyette Springs $279,500 Brenda Salyers 813230-1120

Hampton Place - Gated Community within Walden Lake. Lots of sf over 2900. 4br split plan. Kitchen opens to family room and sliding glass doors to a wonderful screen patio with large pool that over looks the golf course. Lawn & pool service all inculded at $ 2100.00 a month. Call Becky 376-2100 for showing

Excellent condition single family home/condo in Walden Lake. 2BDRM + Den/Office AND A 10X18 Florida RM. EXCELLENT PRICE $219,000. CALL JANET CALVELLO 813-967-1939

105 N. Granada Ct / Walden Lk 2/2/2 Villa on Golf Course; golf cart included. $138,900. Janet Calvello 813-967-1939

Forest Club - Lots of room in the home with a brand new kitchen, stainless steel appliance family room with fireplace 3 br split plan. Formal living & dining. Master opens to a enclosed hot tub to relax in.FOR RENt $ 1500.00 a month. Call Becky 376-2100

3 Bed/2 Bath Immaculate 2248sq.ft. home in Sutton Woods. Split Bedroom plan w/ granite countertops, tile floors, walk in closets. Master bedroom has additional area for sitting room or computer area and Garden tub w/ separate shower. All the upgrades including crown molding in Family Room -Leaded front doors. All for $289,000. Call Barbara Layton (813) 967 1937

Turkey Creek Rd $142,500 Loft home with 2bed/2.5bath on an acre. Brenda Salyers 813-230-1120


Gorgeous 3/2 in Forest Club- high 12’ ceiling and 8’ doors - Custom built home over 2600 sq.ft. with 3 car garage. Kitchen remodeled with new flattop range,dishwasher -granite countertops - This home is spectacular - Master bath has Jacuzzi with separate shower - Let me show this one to you. Call Barbara Layton (813) 967-1937

KW Property Management Services Soon to be Vintage Real Estate Services


607 S. Alexander, Suite 213 • Plant City, FL 33563

sports & fitness


John Mitchell wears his FHSAA gold medal and stands with his dad, John Mitchell, Sr. Photo by Joe Bowles

On the Fast Track Durant’s John Mitchell Narrows his Focus to Running. S t o ry by J o e Bow l e s

When John Mitchell started running to keep his best friend company, it became apparent that John might want to switch sports, from hoops to cross-country. It was in John’s sophomore year, as he was running with fellow basketball player A.J. Garden, his closest friend since third grade, that he discovered that running might be his forté. So John decided to add cross-country to his schedule. That decision has really paid dividends for Mitchell and for Durant High School. In his sophomore year, Mitchell qualified for state, and in the fall of 2007, he placed 16th at the FHSAA State Championships. That’s when John decided to add a third sport – track and field. He excelled at that sport, too. He finished in first place

at the 1600 meters at the FHSAA 4A State Championships. After that showing, several Division 1 schools such as the University of Florida and Florida State University began to take interest in Mitchell. “During the year, I had a lot of second and third place showings. I think it was because I started my kick too late,” reminisced Mitchell, “Me and

84 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

coach [Mike Gursky] decided that I would start my kick with everyone else and it worked.” Mitchell ran a personal best time of 4:21.63 beating out Sickles High School star Derek Wehunt, who has been Mitchell’s biggest rival. That does not mean they are enemies. On the contrary, they admire one another and even trained together this summer. “He is the easiest human being in the world to coach. He’ll do everything he’s told to do. And he’ll not just do it, he’ll do it plus 20 percent,” remarked coach Gursky about his talented star. The feeling from Mitchell is mutual, “He is a great coach. He emphasizes hard work and he believes in team work,” something not often heard from sports that rely on individual achievements to rack up points. This year, Mitchell’s senior year, he decided to drop basketball and to concentrate on track and crosscountry. That strategy seems to be working, as Mitchell recently placed

eighth in this year’s state cross-country meet. When asked what made him give up basketball, Mitchell responded, “I really wanted to concentrate on the thing that would take me the furthest. Besides I’m pretty small for a basketball player.” In running events, his size of 5’7’ and 135 lbs. means nothing – it’s all about strength and speed. Mitchell seems to have plenty of both. In addition to being fast, Mitchell has a supportive family, he’s a B student, he’s articulate, personable, polite and a nice young man. Other than sports, he likes to hang out with his friends. He appears to be on the fast track to success at a major college. The only thing in life that he has struggled with is cramping during some of his meets. “Everything we do all year is in preparation for the state finals,” Gursky commented. “We don’t know where John will go from here, but we’ll get him to the right university.”


New Locati on 1912 Hollo way Road Plant City, Fl 33567

t City “Who knows Planthe Locals” better than Did you know you can choose your Surveyor when Re-Financing!!!!

january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 85

sports & fitness

athlete of the month

901 W. Dr. MLK Blvd. Plant City, FL

(813) 754-2588 SCREEN PRINTING




The Knotts congratulate Matthew Kirkland for being January’s athlete of the month. From left to right are Andy Knotts, Matthew Kirkland and Jeanne Knotts. Photo by Kasey Miller

MattheW KirKland s t o ry by k a S e y M i l l e r

He has been consistently involved in football and track at Plant City High School, but Matthew Kirkland dominates at soccer. Competitively playing soccer since he was 4-yearsold, he raises the bar as the athlete of January.

Leadership, strength, speed and passion are the qualities that Kirkland believes he brings to the game. He enjoys playing soccer the best because of its competitive physical drive and constant intensity throughout each game. Not only does Kirkland

86 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

lead the PCHS team as a captain, but he also plays one of the most important positions – the sweeper, which controls the defense and makes sure the opponent doesn’t score. K.C. Van Der Luit, the boys’ head soccer coach, admires Kirkland’s leadership skills and thinks of him as a positive player and one who sets a good example for his fellow teammates. “He’s determined, fast and physi-

cal,” said Van Der Luit. When Kirkland first began to play soccer at 4-years-old, it was for a recreation league in Lakeland for which his mom signed him up. But his love for the game continued to grow and his natural athletic abilities progressed into an aggressive and competitive soccer player. In addition, his skills have been built up from years of experience and practicing at least three times a week. Kirkland also played for the Plant City Lancers – a club team – since the 5th grade. The Lancers went all the way to the state championships, also known as the Elite-8. A professional soccer player that Kirkland looks up to is John Terry. “He has the same style of play and technique as I do,” said Kirkland. Furthermore, he is also involved in the volunteer activities at school, such as student council, executive council, vice president of the Civitan club, sergeant at arms of National Honor Society, Best Buddies and was even senior of the month for November. While he is not sure if he will continue to play soccer in college, Kirkland knows he will never lose his competitive drive. “I hate to lose,” said Kirkland. “Hard work definitely pays off, and I have a great passion for it.”


send questions and comments to

january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 87

sports & fitness


A polo game being played in Plant City. Photo by Carolyn Miller.

hoCKeY on horseBaCK s t o ry by C a r O ly n M i l l e r

The game began more than 2,000 years ago, originating in near China and Persia. The first recorded game was between the Turkomans and Persians (the Persians won) around 600 B.C. The Monguls brought the game from Persia in the 16th century to India, which is where English tea planters discovered it. The game is polo, and the first polo club was established in Silchar in western Manipur. The oldest existing club is the Calcutta Club, which was established in 1862, in India. When the game finally came to Britain, the British nicknamed it “hockey on horseback” and established the Monmouthshire Club in 1872. The game made it to the U.S. in 1888, but the first match in the Americas was in Argentina in 187 A.D. Now there are approximately 77 countries that participate in polo. Polo isn’t the most common sport

in America. Some may have seen princes William and Harry playing polo in some pasture, wielding a mallet and smashing into each other with their horses. Others may have seen 19th century paintings of polo matches. The idea is simple enough – get a little white ball, roughly the size of a croquet ball, through an opponent’s goal with a mallet. Easy? No. Participants are riding horses. Polo requires a rider to have excellent horseback riding skills to be truly successful. It isn’t an overly complicated game – only four riders on each team – but it is beautiful to observe. It isn’t about being the fastest, but instead having the skill to control a horse and have it respond to its rider without hesitation. Horses block and bump into other horses all with the intent of defending or reaching a goal, and people are playing this game in Plant City.

88 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

Dardo Inglesias cares for his horses every day. Photo by Carolyn Miller

There has been a polo tradition in Plant City since the 1980s, and that tradition has been cultivated in Plant City by the hands of one man: Dardo Inglesias, To him, horses are a passion that is steeped in his Argentinean culture. “It’s all about the horses. I get up early in the morning and I go to sleep very late. I do it because I love the horses,” Inglesias said. He came from his native Argentina to help train polo ponies. Ten years later, he bought the farm from his former boss. His horses are bred in Argentina, and he has an Argentenian thoroughbred stallion that he breeds with his Appendix mares, which are thoroughbred and quarter horse cross, to create what Inglesias calls the “perfect polo pony.” He says a perfect polo pony is “bump proof,” in other words, a pony that isn’t affected by the game. There are noises and distractions, but a pony must stay on task. A pony must not shy or act crazy, Dardo said. Dardo shows his passion for his horses and polo in his vast 44-acre farm, where he exercises and trains

them to play polo. Horses are tenderly cared for, given rubdowns before exercise and a shower afterwards. They are exercised twice a week and practice twice, then played on Saturday and Sunday. He has more than 30 horses stabled on his grounds and welcomes anyone who is willing to learn. He owns a polo field that is open to the public so that even the little ones can watch the matches and perhaps become players themselves. He says children as young as 12 years old can be taught to play, depending on their level of skill. Even his wife boards horses in her own stables – Sleepy Oaks Farm – and offers lessons to those who want to learn to jump their horse. For more information about the polo schedule and lessons available, go to Polo matches are held Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. The public is welcome, and there is no charge.


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Law offices of Joseph M. Williams, P.A. Joseph M. Willams ATTornEy AT LAW

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sports & fitness

Caption plus white for scaling.

a shot at the Big tour brevard COMMUnity COllege iS Martin’S FirSt tOUr event. s t o ry by J O e b O W l e S

On August 29, Kyle Martin began his nine-hole match for Plant City High School against Bloomingdale with four pars and a bogey. This is not bad for any golfer. But what the Raider senior did next catapulted him to greatness—he finished the round with an eagle and three birdies at Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club. The four-under par set a school record and helped jumpstart a season in which Martin was selected for First Team All-Western Conference, First Team All-Hillsborough County and as the Raider MVP. Kyle first started swinging a golf club when he was 2 years old, said his mother Karen Spivey. His father, Greg, and grandfather, Larry,

are both avid golfers and helped Kyle develop a love for the game. At 6-years-old, Kyle began to compete. Within a year, he won his first tournament, the Junior Citrus Open. But it wasn’t until the summer following 8th grade that Kyle became serious about the game. That summer, Kyle played golf nearly everyday with his grandfather, and that experience elevated his skill level. In fact, Karen credits his grandparents with Kyle’s continued success. “If it wasn’t for Larry and Diane’s help, Kyle wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what he has done,” she said. “They have been a real support for him.” Others have also provided support

90 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

along the way. Raiders coach Gary Brady provides motivation and direction, and Jeff Gibson, his private instructor, has fine-tuned his swing. A swing, by the way, that produces 290- to 300-yard drives, a remarkable distance for someone who is 5’9”, 145 pounds and still growing. To keep him well-rounded, his stepdad, Adam, offers him a diversion from the golf course through fishing and hunting. Just last week, Kyle shot his first deer, a four-point buck. Recently, Kyle made a verbal commitment to Brevard Community College in Melbourne, Fla., where former Raider standout Spencer Baldwin attends. “Brevard has offered me a full scholarship. I am going to sign a letter of intent with them on Jan. 17. I want to eventually play on the big tour. Coach Brady and Jeff [Gibson] say that I have a shot at it.” In college, Kyle is hoping to get a degree in business. One day he would like to manage his own golf course, and he knows he will need the business background to help prepare him. Until he starts playing for Brevard,

Kyle will continue to play as much golf as he can. He is gaining a lot of experience. He has competed on the Premiere Junior Tour, the Florida Junior Tour and has even competed in the USGA Amateur Public Links Tournament, as well as a U.S. Open qualifier. Some of the toughest competition that Kyle may face will likely come from his own family. In addition to his father and grandfather, Kyle has a younger brother, Jared, who could round out their foursome. Jared is a freshman member of the Raiders’ golf team and was chosen as the team’s rookie of the year. Although Karen is not a golfer, she supports her son. “She encourages me to keep on going out there to play and to be patient.” If Kyle manages his life as effectively as he does a golf course, then there may not be a need for patience. He might be on the big tour earlier than expected.


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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 91

sports & fitness

Sherry nueesch

NAKED AT NOON S u b m i t t e d by S h e r r y Nu e e sc h

The sun was once used as a general tonic to heal almost everything. The sun provides the basis for all life on earth. The sun is the primary source of energy for all plants, and indirectly, for all animals. Sunlight has been used to treat and cure diseases for centuries. According to the National Cancer Institute, lifetime exposure to sunlight may reduce your risk of the most common types of cancer. In an analysis of death certificates from 24 states during a period longer than 11 years, NCI researchers found that people who lived in the sunniest parts of the country, and those exposed to the most sunlight through their jobs, had significantly lower rates of breast and colon cancer than matched controls. The scientists identified cases through a database maintained by the NCI, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers took significant measures to ensure the accuracy of their data. Even after all the adjustments were made, the results were compelling. Overall, the people who lived in the highest solar radiation range (Florida being one of them) had less risk of dying of breast, ovarian, colon or prostrate cancer than those living in the lowest range states (Northern

states). In their discussion, the NCI researchers theorize that sunlight offers cancer protection through its contribution of Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been in the news a lot lately. What is being reported is that Americans are woefully deficient in vitamin D, and it is becoming alarmingly so for children. The body manufacturers vitamin D out of cholesterol in the presence of sunlight. Exposure to sunlight is the best way to manufacture the vitamin D that we need for optimum health. Primitive diets were rich in vitamin D, containing foods like butterfat, eggs, liver, organ meats, marine oils and seafood, especially shrimp and crab. Cod liver oil used to sit on many people’s tables for a spoonful everyday. Humans need vitamin D for the prevention of many diseases and chronic health conditions including cancer, bone health, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, depression and obesity to name a few. Vitamin D may be a key nutrient in preventing heart disease. A study published in the June 9, 2008 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that men low in vitamin D had an increased risk of heart attack, and a second study released later that month revealed that those low in vitamin D had twice the risk of dying from any cause. During a

92 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

press release in August of 2007, Dr. Garland of Moores Cancer Center at the University of California stated that 150,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented in this country by maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D. Research shows that the higher a person’s level of vitamin D, the lower his or her incidence of breast cancer – there is a direct correlation. I could write about more and more studies proving the desperate need for more of the sunshine vitamin. Space limits me to stopping here. It is quite apparent that people need to check their levels of vitamin D to see where they are. It is a simple blood test that can routinely be added to their blood work. I do believe that people need to take this serious. They need to get in the sunlight more and not be afraid of this wonderful energy source. People do not need to lay in the sun and burn, but they do need to feel the powerful rays on their bodies daily. Getting more

food source vitamin D is a good idea. Get the highest quality cod liver oil available. It is like everything else, you get what you pay for. Anyone who decides to supplement should make sure that it is vitamin D3 and not D2. Go as natural as possible if that means getting naked at noon for 10 minutes! Take this seriously. According to the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, 600,000 cases worldwide of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year. Don’t be a modern caveman. If sunshine is so effective for preventing so many cancers, then how can it be the cause of one? I do believe that people need to check vitamin D levels with their doctors and then adjust their daily intake of sunshine and natural food source fat soluble vitamins accordingly. Anyone who is naked at noon, we would like to know about it. To your health, as always, Sherry Nueesch.


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94 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009





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local history

did you know

Photo Archives’ Progressive Tea, Tour, and Hat Contest Continues Plant City Tradition

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

Through the years, active citizens in the Plant City area have relished their social teas as essential to the social and cultural fabric of the city. One of the early community leaders who enjoyed entertaining with tea and music was Annie Schneider, who, along with her husband Albert, resided in a large comfortable home on W. Reynolds Street. Mrs. Schneider was a charter member of the Woman’s Club of Plant City and served as its president from 1923 to 1927. Social teas were also held by organizations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and various cultural and educational organizations. By the 1960s, they were popular with the Woman’s Club of Plant City and newer organizations, including the Plant City Garden Club and the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. The Garden Club frequently held its events at the First Federal Savings and Loan Association facil-

ity, later renamed Sunshine State Federal Savings and Loan. The Beta Sigma Phi Sorority held its events at the homes of the members and sponsored guests or discussions for either social, cultural or civic enrichment. The Sorority’s motto is “Life, Learning and Friendship.” In 2007, the Plant City Photo Archives established a committee, chaired by Vicki Hawthorne, to organize a progressive tea, coupled with a tour of historic homes. The committee later added the hat contest, which has become one of the outstanding parts of the day. The 2007 inaugural event for the Progressive Tea, Tour, and Hat Contest was held Saturday, Jan. 19, and included the homes of Donna Jean Crocker, Dallas and Milene Powell and Dr. and Mrs. John Verner, all in the Historic District and within easy walking distance. At the final stop, guests were treated to a special tea and scones provided by Ellen Garrett of the Camellia Rose Tea Room, live piano music by Dr. Teo Kulyk and a fun and entertaining hat contest.

96 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

The hat contest included three categories – vintage, classic/elaborate and outlandish – and the judges were led by Dr. Hal Brewer. After each lady was introduced and described her hat, the judges awarded ribbons to the winners: Amanda Verner, Traci Tew and Betty Jones. The second annual Progressive Tea, Tour, and Hat Contest was held Saturday, Jan. 20, 2008, and included the Historic District homes of Jimmie Dan and Karen Robinson, Jim and Barbara Cain and John and Sally Verner. After registration, guests enjoyed a tour of the Robinson home, along with the melodious harp music of Sylvia Knox, and then proceeded to the Cain home for lunch and refreshments. The final stop again was the Verner home, where Dr. Kulyk will play piano, and guests were served tea and scones from the Camellia Rose Tea Room and other desserts. The hat contest was again a festive activity and the participants, after their introduction, strode into the poolside patio area to await the judging. Vicki

Hawthorne won with the most vintage chapeau, and David Hawthorne received the ribbon for the most dapper gentleman. Betty Jones repeated as the recipient of the prize for the most outlandish hat. Once again the Plant City Photo Archives is sponsoring the Progressive Tea, Tour, and Hat Contest, which will be held Saturday, Jan. 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at homes in the Historic District. Reservations are $30 per person and each includes a tour of all three homes, live music at two of the homes, lunch, prize drawings, tea, desserts and the hat contest. Additionally, the Photo Archives will provide an exhibit of historic photos at each of the three homes. For reservations or information, call the Plant City Photo Archives, which is located at 119 N. Collins St. in downtown Plant City, at (813) 754-1578. Sources: Plant City Photo Archives, Inc., and Quintilla Geer Bruton and David E. Bailey, Jr. Plant City; Its Origin and History, Hunter Publishing Company, 1984.

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98 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

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Kodi Melton and aleXandra Boggs Caption plus white for scaling.

s t o ry by k a S e y M i l l e r

Many seniors at Plant City High School have excelled academically and been routinely involved in extracurricular activities. Only two seniors each month, however, are given the title of Senior of the Month, which also makes them eligible to compete for the titles of Prom King and Queen. While it is a privilege for these students to be made members of the prom court, it is also an honorable title given to these students for being outstanding individuals. These seniors are looked upon as the ones who are dedicated to their work and bring a positive attitude to the classroom, as well as out of the classroom. In order to be considered for this title, a senior must type out a formal resume listing all the academic, community service or extra curricular activities he or she has done since 9th grade. Furthermore, a senior must also list the activities that he or she is involved with for the month they are applying and explain why he or she believes that they would meet the standard for Senior of the Month. Each monthly winner is announced a month later than the one they re100 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

ceived the title for, so this December Kodi Melton and Alexandra Boggs were announced and congratulated as November’s winners. Melton listed many volunteer activities he did for the month of November, including regular Avid officer meetings, church activities, tutoring at Burney elementary and participating in the Tampa Heart Walk and the National Honors Society Hillsborough River clean-up. He is also a part of PCHS youth band and a youth leader for his church. The activities that Boggs is involved in are different than Melton’s, but take just as much time and effort. She listed her National Honor Society projects that she participated in, student council meetings and even her volunteer help in a Special Olympics softball tournament. Not only does she participate in all these activities, but she is also in the top 3 percent of her class.


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“Capitalism is on trial here, not because capitalism is bad, but because in order for it to work for the advantage of all, it requires leaders to exercise and adhere to a strict code of morals. Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Call it what it is! S u b m i t t e d by A l Ru e c h e l

October, 2008. That’s when it all seemed to hit the fan. Loans came due, companies started tanking, the bottom of the bottom fell out in the stock market, 401k’s vanished overnight and the Great Depression took on more than just a ghostly presence. We saw our lawmakers in a near panic – wait, let me rephrase that – in a full panic, fearing that once this ship started sinking it would take everyone down with it. Then came the analyzing, the groaning, the finger pointing, the blame game. It was Bush’s fault. No, it started with Carter. No, it was the banks and the brokerages and the hedge funders and day traders and programmed buying and selling. Good grief, I heard every explana-

tion possible for what happened in October. Gut-check time! What happened to us in October was the product of something we came to accept. The bigger the better, the more expensive and outrageous our tastes, the more honored or revered we became. Excess was the true sign of success. He who has the most bling is the coolest. Value wasn’t based on what you did or how hard you worked, but rather on how you could exploit the rules to your own advantage. Screw your own employees, stack the board with your friends, pay them off, get paid for company performance, then fudge the rules to make it look like your company made money when, in fact, they were going broke.

102 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Capitalism is on trial here, not because capitalism is bad, but because in order for it to work for the advantage of all, it requires leaders to exercise and adhere to a strict code of morals. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. We always assumed everyone believed in fair play and followed the same rules we did. What a bunch of suckers we, about 95 percent of the population, turned out to be. It’s just like that reoccurring nightmare. Somebody at the top was sucking us dry. Behind those boardroom doors they schemed and planned to make as much money for themselves as quickly as possible. With the help of some radio talk show pundits, we were told that’s the American way. Everyone has the right to succeed and make as much money as possible. After all, making the most money is what it’s all about. And please tell me who dreamed up golden parachutes. I want to get paid for doing a lousy job, for ruining a company so badly they want to pay me to get rid of me. Are you screaming at the magazine now? You should be! How does this happen? What happens to those people who sit on those boards? Do they really believe there is only one person out there who is

capable of running their company? No wonder so many companies are in the tank. Their man or woman at the top is a thief… and none of the so-called gatekeepers seems to care. Somehow, those padded salaries are considered the cost of doing business. Well, not me. I have decided this year I’m not going to keep my mouth shut. I’ve already whipped out a letter to the head of my medical insurance plan chewing him out. I wrote my bank president who was given a $10 million bonus… for what… taking the stock down 80 percent from one year ago? Of course, these crooks are playing the violin. They aren’t the ones responsible for the housing market or the price of oil. They aren’t the ones who were encouraged by the government to make risky loans. Hog wash. Charles Dickens got it right in “A Christmas Carole.” He could have written that story today in America and hit it on the head. Greed is eating us alive. Becoming numero uno at all costs will be the death of this country. And it will be the spiritual death of the Scrooge’s who’ve taken part. I’m afraid hell will have an overstock of CEO’s trying to plead the Fifth.

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More than one in nine children and teens use herbal supplements or some other form of alternative medicine, the government said, citing a new national survey. It’s the first time children’s use of such remedies, including CHIROPRACTIC CARE, has been measured. Herbal remedies were the top type of alternative medicine for both adults and those younger than 18. Leading the list for children were Echinacea and fish oil. Given that children are generally pretty healthy, the finding that one in nine uses alternative medicine is “pretty amazing,” said one of the study’s authors, Richard Nahin of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based on a 2007 survey of more than 23,000 adults who were speaking about themselves and more than 9,000 adults who were speaking on behalf of a child in their household. Special Note: On Jan 20th, Inauguration Day, please continue to pray for our Nation, Incoming President and all our Leaders. 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 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 103



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104 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 105

dining & entertainment

dininG profile

Joe Shirley smokes some of the best barbecue in the area. Photo by Krystel Knowles

Brothers WorKing side-BY-side riCk’S CUStOM MeatS and SMOkin’ JOe’S barbeQUe. s t o ry by k r y S t e l k n O W l e S

Rick and Tia Shirley pride themselves on their quality of food and service at Rick’s Custom Meats, and they should – the food is amazing. Rick’s Custom Meats is a combination between a deli, meat market, store and eatery, ranging in goods and services from meat cutting to fresh Cuban sandwiches. According to Rick, his customers prefer his sandwiches compared to any other place because of his special sauces and personal touch. If you haven’t had one yet, then you really haven’t had a great sandwhich. “My customers have been coming to me for many years,” he said. “My meats are USDA because we only offer the best to our customers.” The market is privately owned and operated by the Shirleys, making it a family-oriented operation that gets to know its customers. But it is more than the great customer service and products that stand Rick’s Custom Meats apart from other restaurants and butchers. It is one of the only places that provide exotic meats, with cuts ranging from venison, buf-

falo to gator and snake meat. The store even has hand-cut jerky and seafood. Want to make gator tail for the Super Bowl? This is the place to get the right cut of meat. The se-

lection of meat is not the only thing worthy of the praise this place gets. The specially made sweat tea and creamy banana pudding keeps customers returning. “While my customers are getting their meat cut the way they like it, they enjoy our sweat tea,” said Rick. For more than 10 years, the Shirleys have been cutting meats and cooking for the people in Lithia. Their business started in their backyard as a method to get extra income, but soon became a trade. “We have over 150 clients per day and most of them are repeat customers who have been coming here for several years,” said Rick. Originally, Rick and his brother, Joe, operated the market, but when the amount of customers began to steadily increase, Joe decided to open a barbecue smoker beside the market. Smokin’ Joe’s Barbeque opened shortly after Rick’s Custom Meats opened at its current location. “We had to expand because it was a necessity,” Shirley said. Smokin’ Joe’s Barbeque is also privately owned and operated by his family, and Joe believes his barbecue business is successful because of the time and recipes he uses to cook the meat.

Rick and Tia Shirley show some of their deli items in front of their market. Photo by Krystel Knowles

106 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

“I make sure everything is cooked to perfection and to the liking of my customers,” said Joe, who smokes some succulent ribs. These are a must-try. Originally he started cooking with homemade smokers but had to upgrade because of the amount of clientele. Smokin’ Joe’s also provides catering to private parties and any other events. His specialty is smoked meats such as ham, ribs and geese marinated with his special sauce. Joe said his barbecue business is for people to who like to enjoy a very relaxed environment while enjoying their food. “We both enjoy working with food and especially people,” said Rick. “It is amazing how fortunate we are for being able to do what we enjoy – it is all about the good food.”


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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 107

dining & entertainment


ring in the neW Year the right WaY a CelebratiOn at the red rOSe inn and SUiteS iS a Sign that 2009 iS gOing tO be a year tO reMeMber. s t o ry by e l i z a b e t h e d Wa r d S

On New Year’s Eve, Mrs. Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr. continued to entertain in style with an extravaganza to be remembered for years to come at the Red Rose Inn and Suites. With a star-studded cast of entertainers, enough delicious gourmet food to feed a palace and decorations that made attendees as wide-eyed as a child, a successful night was inevitable.

The doors opened at 6 p.m. and the party was set in motion. The Red Rose Grand Ballroom hosted an “Outrageous Night of Rhythm & Blues” complete with tributes to greats such as the Blues Brothers Revue, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. Destiny, the Red Rose’s house band, kept with tradition by putting on a phenomenal holiday performance. All the while, the Red Rose Dining

A Blues Brothers act rocked the show on New Year’s Eve. Photo courtesy of the Red Rose Inn and Suites

108 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

Mrs. Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr. pose for the camera with a Tina Turner look-alike. Photo courtesy of the Red Rose Inn and Suites

Room held the event “Just to Be with You” with the Legends of Doo-wop filling the room with classic sounds and songs that many grew up listening to. To name a few, the event featured Tommy Mara of The Crests, Frank Mancuso of The Imaginations, Steve Horn of The Five Sharks and Jimmy Gallagher of The Passions. Ralph Allocco and Second Wind, the signature group for the Red Rose Inn, rocked the house right along with the legends. Doo-wop, while similar to rhythm and blues, originated in the 1940s and reached its peak in the mid1950s. The Crests, most famous for their induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, began their ascent into the music world in the 1950s with hits like “Sixteen Candles” and “Step by Step.” The Imaginations were formed in 1961 with Frank Mancuso as the lead and made their mark with the infamous song “Hey You.” Steve Horn was the wellknown bassist of The Five Sharks and continues to play with the remaining group members to this day. The Passions came about in 1959 and were led by Jimmy Gallagher. These music legends brought some people to tears in the Red Room while they reminisced of a better time where life was simple and music was pure. If the guests were worried about not seeing all of the wonderful per-

formers, then they were in luck – the entertainers rotated throughout both rooms all evening. Food was also on the bottom of the list of worries for the attendees – the Grand Ballroom featured a phenomenal gourmet buffet with all the trimmings, and the Dining Room held a five-course meal plated with a filet mignon and Maine lobster dinner that looked just as good as it tasted. Guests that opted for the complementary hot breakfast at 1 p.m. were not disappointed, although they were almost too full to enjoy! The evening was extraordinary, with good ole New Year’s traditions gussied up and transformed into memories to last throughout all of 2009. The night included dancing to the multitude of entertainers, party favors, a balloon drop and an elegant champagne toast at midnight. There were kisses and hugs galore as 2008 came to a close and the New Year began. Make no mistake, the community was well and alive at the Red Rose Inn on Jan. 1. While 2009 holds a variety of wonderful acts and spectacular events at the Red Rose Inn and Suites, attendees are anxious to see what comes next after a celebration such as this.


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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • 109

dining & entertainment


Casey Stidham plays his acoustic at a gig in Plant City. Photo courtesy of Casey Stidham

Have Guitar, Will Travel Local Musician Plays the Songs People Want to Hear. S t o ry by K e v i n Ta l l 110 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

The lights grow faint and the crowd Stidham said he enjoys his regular falls to a whisper as a guitar ampligigs in his hometown of Plant City. fier comes to life. Everyone hesitates “In a big city, you may have different with their food or drink and then refaces every night. In a small town, laxes as the first notes of a familiar you see a lot of the same people, and song are strummed on a guitar. The you kind of know what they want to talented Casey Stidham steps up to hear.” the microphone and welcomes his When asked why he became a audience, inviting them to have a musician, his answer was simple: “I good time. He sings “She Talks to wanted to play guitar.” At 25 years Angels,” by The Black Crowes, and old, Stidham has been singing and the night has begun. playing for almost a decade. He reStidham’s smooth, rich baritone lies on the fact that he was able to belies his casual exterior. He croons drive his equipment to his first gig ballads while dressed in a simple outto establish the timeline that he has fit of shorts and a polo been playing regushirt with flip-flops “I’m going to play larly since age 16. He and a baseball cap. discovered the guitar His voice translates his late uncle, what people want from well to the variety of who had a book with cover songs he sings; guitar tabs and bato hear, but I’m it is the type of sound sic chords. Stidham that makes songs you said he had a much don’t like sound betgoing to play stuff easier time learning ter and songs you’ve to play music that never heard become A steady gig I want to play, too. way. old favorites. at a bowling alley in Affable and enLakeland served as That’s what keeps a good opportunity ergetic, Stidham is a self-described to play in front of a “human jukebox.” small crowd to help me interested.” He plays music sets build his confidence. three times a week in Stidham said he Casey Stidham Plant City. Wednescan learn to play a day nights he plays song in a matter of at O’Brien’s Irish Pub on Alexander days. Sometimes, if he’s heard a song Street. He also plays at Uncorked, enough and has a basic feel for it, he Keel and Curley Winery’s afterhours can play it within a matter of hours of wine bar, every Friday and Satursitting down to try it out. His musiday evening. His performance at cal taste varies as much as his live O’Brien’s tends to be up-tempo and sets, revealed by the Outkast, Sade edgy, with songs from The Doors, and Nine Inch Nails on his iPod. In Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple his free time, he enjoys attending Pilots to accommodate the partyconcerts, seeing movies and watchready atmosphere. Uncorked gets ing football. a gentler touch, a feel well-suited “I love playing Dave Matthews’s to the relaxing environment, with a music because it’s challenging,” he more laid-back set composed of old said. “I like to challenge myself to favorites by Tom Petty, Steve Miller what I think my limits are. Through Band and Dave Matthews. doing that I’ve found myself able to “I like the reaction, I like to see peoplay stuff I wouldn’t think I’d be able ple singing along,” Stidham said about to play.” playing in front of a crowd. “I like to “I’m going to play what people see other people influenced by things want to hear, but I’m going to play that influence me. It makes me feel like stuff I want to play, too,” he added. I’m a part of something. Everybody’s “That’s what keeps me interested.” got a little something in common.”

january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 111

dining & entertainment

artist of the month

A Transformation of Soul Transferred to Canvas

112 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Story by Eliz a be th Edwa rds

When a person stops into Coffee 101 and admires the artwork adorning the brick walls, he or she could be in the presence of one of the artists. Carolyn Miller, an employee at the local coffee shop, has once again found peace through artistic expression – all the while taking a spiritual journey of her own. Carolyn developed a fondness for drawing when she was a young girl. Her mother would bring pencils and paper in her purse as a deterrent from Carolyn’s fidgeting in church. From then on, her mother bought her instructional drawing books, and her love for the arts expanded as she developed her own technique. Carolyn continued to pursue drawing throughout high school and began to explore painting for the first time. In college, she dabbled in a variety of different media. Carolyn also studied biology, which was a benefit to the studies she did involving both figures and paintings due to her knowledge regarding anatomy and physiology. Carolyn only stopped when she gave birth to her son. When her son turned 7, Carolyn picked up where she had left off. She was introduced to an extraordinarily influential teacher named Don Pablo San Segundo-Castaneda who had studied at the San Fernando School of Fine Art in Spain, the same school that Pablo Picasso had attended. Because of this teacher, Carolyn changed her entire palette. He taught her how to archive paintings and to change the chemistry of her paintings to reflect what she wanted them to. But once again, Carolyn’s passion was halted, this time due to the passing of her mother. Carolyn has regained her inspiration through her good friend Heather. She is currently converting to Catholicism and has found peace marrying her spirituality with her art. She is also starting a Web site, www., so she can display portraits of people’s pets.

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dining & entertainment

event Calendar Jan UaRy 15 , 20 09 – FeB RUa Ry 15 , 2 0 0 9

Fri JaN. 16

plant City’s Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Cultural arts Festival begins with the opening ceremony and senior citizens luncheon, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the plant City MlK Recreation Center, 1601 Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Blvd. Call (813) 757-9196 for more information. the statewide high school step team competition begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Marshall school gym, 15 S. Maryland ave. admission is $8. the step show after-party runs from 9:30 p.m. – midnight at the MlK Recreation Center, 1601 Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Blvd. admission is $5. Call (813) 757-9196 for more information.

Sat JaN. 17

the morning praise service runs from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at the MlK Rec. Center, 1601 Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Blvd. Call (813) 757-9196 for more information. the Dr. Martin luther King Jr. parade begins at 1 p.m., starting at the intersection of Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Blvd. and Collins St. the parade runs along MlK Blvd. to the MlK Rec. Center. Call (813) 757-9196 for more information. the Show Da luv car and bike show begins at 2:30 at the MlK Rec. Center, call (813) 757-9196 for more information, in conjunction with the Show Da luv concert and talent showcase, which runs until 7 p.m. the recreation center is at 1601 Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Blvd.

the Show Da luv Fashion Runway runs from 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. at the MlK Rec. Center, 1601 Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Blvd. Doors open 7:30 p.m. admission is $5. Call (813) 757-9196 for more information.

amenities, beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon. Food, drinks and prizes will be available. Call (813) 754-8600 to R.S.V.p.

MON JaN. 19

the photo archives presents the progressive tea, tour of Historic Homes and Hat Contest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at homes in the Historic District. Reservations are $30 per person and each includes a tour of all three homes, live music at two of the homes, lunch, prize drawings, tea, desserts and the hat contest. Call (813) 754-1578 for more information.

Dr. Martin luther King Jr. Day the photo archives presents “proudly We Serve,” a tribute to africanamericans who served in the armed forces, from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at 119 n. Collins St. Call (813) 754-1578 for more information.

Sat JaN. 24

the Florida Opry starts at 7 p.m. at the 1914 pCHS Community Building, 605 n. Collins St. For more information call Randy Dallman at (813) 6591849.

Fri JaN. 30

D.R. Horton Homes presents the grand opening of Walden Woods

tuesday february 3

Sat JaN. 31

Fri Feb. 6

the american Business Women’s association presents the “Be My Valentine” Bachelor auction. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Red Rose inn & Suites. Sponsorship costs vary. For more information, call (813) 7541725

the boy scouts’ Great outdoors dinner at the trinkle center.

No matter a person’s role was as a Boy Scout, it helped to shape who they are today. Scouting is reaching its Centennial year in 2010 and will celebrate 100 years of developing young children into independent goal-oriented, respectful leaders. Presently, Plant City is home to five Cub Scout Packs serving 7-11 year old boys, five Boy Scout Troops serving boys from ages 10 ½-18 as well as two ROTC Crews at Durant and Plant City high schools. Plant City sets an example of how the scouting movement develops leaders in local Plant City with residents such as Dean Snyder, Charlie White and Mac Smith to name a few. These residents continually support the program through special events. Please look for news on our upcoming. For more information, call Fred Johnson at (813) 752-7763. 114 • FOCUS Magazine plant City • january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009

dining & entertainment

Event Calendar ja n ua ry 15 , 20 09 – f ebrua ry 15 , 2 0 0 9

Fri Feb. 13

The “Impacting Your Marketplace” weekend takes place at the Trinkle Center in Plant City. The center is at the Hillsborough Community College, which is located at 1206 North Park Road. Call Somebody Cares Plant City at (813) 309-3558.

The Black History Month Celebration banquet begins at 6 p.m. at the Dr. MLK Recreation Center, 1601 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. For more information, call Sharon Moody at (813) 453-7134.

Sat Feb. 7

Sat Feb. 14

Enjoy the “007 Celebrity Chef Dinner,” an evening with Chef Jon Ashton. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Hillsborough Community College Trinkle Center, which is located at 1206 North Park Road. See the Talk of the Town section. For more information, call Kelleigh Klein at (813) 764-0625.

The Florida Opry starts at 7 p.m. at the 1914 PCHS Community Building, 605 N. Collins St. For more information call Randy Dallman at 813-6591849.

The fifth annual “Be my Valentine” Bachelors’ Auction takes place Feb. 6 at the Red Rose Inn and Suites. The American Business Women’s Association plans the show every year, and all proceeds from the auction support an effort to provide college scholarships to local ladies. Call (813) 659-2165 for more information.

The Plant City Elks will have their 21st Annual Wild Game Cookout on Feb. 7 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. Tickets are $75 in advance. The event is stag only and attendees must be at least 21 years old. The event is at the Cattlemen’s Association Building on Highway 30 South, one mile south of U.S. 60. For tickets, call (813) 752-8669.

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january 15, 2009 – february 15, 2009 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • 115

dining & entertainment

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116 • FOCUS Magazine plant city • january 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

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FOCUS Plant City 08-01 Jan 2009  
FOCUS Plant City 08-01 Jan 2009  

Focus Magazine, Plant City