FOCUS Plant City 19-08

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617 N Maryland Ave, Plant City, FL 33563 Se Habla Español



Contents Table of


LOCAL: 2020 HARVEST QUEEN CONTESTANTS BY CIERRA CRAFT PHOTOGRAPHY BY BERRY SWEET MEMORIES 21 young ladies are vying for the title of 2020 Harvest Queen of the Hillsborough County Fair. Meet the contestants and learn more about this annual pageant and the responsibilities of the new royalty.






Each August, FOCUS shines a light on the local businesses that make up our vibrant community. Meet business owners across all industries as they share stories of entrepreneurship, perseverance and success.


The Bank of Central Florida's local approach to commercial banking is what sets it apart from other banking institutions. Meet David Brown and James Garner, as they discuss what it means to "Be Local. Bank Local."


FOCUS PLANT CITY / Issue 19-08 / August 2020


Mike Floyd


Cierra Craft


Chandler Workman

Crystal Colegrove




Anthony Sassano

Candy Owens

Tony DeVane


Angela Ardrey Anthony Bolesta Cheryl Johnston Sherrie Mueller Emily Topper


Candy Owens Heather Davis Gil Gott Natalie Sweet

Got a story idea? Looking to advertise in Focus? Contact us for more information. Floyd Publications, Inc. 702 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd.Plant City, FL 33563 Office 813.707.8783 Standards of accuracy: The goal of the writers at FOCUS Magazine is to provide heart-warming stories that are accurate from the start. Being human, however, we sometimes make mistakes. Please forgive us. So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and inform it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 7078783 or e-mail The staff will fix the error in a timely manner. FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local Plant City businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Advertisers warrant and represent the descriptions of their products advertised are true in all respects. Focus Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters and their contents sent to Focus Magazine become the sole property of Floyd Publications, Inc and may be reproduced thereof. All views expressed in all articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Floyd Publications, Inc. Use or duplication of material used in this publication is prohibited without approved written consent from Floyd Publications, Inc.








Publisher Small business is the backbone of our community. We all rely on small businesses in our daily lives, yet many of us may not realize their true impact. From the family-owned donut shop you buy coffee from each morning or the auto repair shop that employs your loved one, small businesses help shape our city.

you’re looking for that perfect gift for someone special at Brown’s Jewelers, shopping for homeowners insurance at Poppell Insurance, or need a home pro like Gould’s Air Conditioning & Heating, most of the money spent at local businesses directly goes back into the local economy. It pays to shop local.

Each August, our publication is proud to present our Business FOCUS. In this issue, we shine a light on the small businesses that make our community vibrant. This issue is jam packed with stories of business owners discussing entrepreneurship and presenting their products and services.

Bank of Central Florida’s David Brown and James Garner are featured on the cover of this month’s issue. The banking institution opened its Plant City branch this summer. Brown & Garner discuss the bank’s slogan “Be Local. Bank Local.” and their commitment to serving the Commercial Banking needs of Plant City businesses.




It is our hope this issue inspires you to shop small, shop local, and support your Plant City neighbors in their business endeavors- these are the folks driving our economy forward. Whether

Warmest Regards,

Mike Floyd










Pump Fitness opens on Evers Street

Call for Artists: Paint Plant City All local artists are invited to submit their work by September 30 for the chance to paint a canvas that will be displayed in downtown Plant City. The series, titled Paint Plant City, is a collaborative effort between MAKE Plant City and Plant City Main Street. Restrictions include religious or political content, profanity, nudity, or obscenities. Artists will be selected on a rolling basis and will be compensated upon approval by the Paint Plant City panel. The panel will include representatives from a number of civic organizations including The Improvement League, the Plant City Woman’s Club, and the Boys and Girls Club. The first artist to have their work hung is Angie Klein. Her painting of a bumble bee is on display in the Krazy Kup patio. “I was ‘over the moon’ excited to be asked to do the first painting,” said Klein. “It is such a honor! I’m very excited about seeing the project come to life. We are blessed in PC to have so many talented artists with diverse styles.” Currently, there is an ordinance in place banning new murals from being painted downtown, but Paint Plant City is a creative way to bring public art to downtown spaces temporarily. The hope is paintings will remain hung for at least twelve months. Artists are encouraged to submit their work early. Work to be considered should be submitted to



Formally Limitless Fitness, Pump Fitness is in full restart mode under new ownership. The gym, located at 1418 South Evers Street, has undergone a full renovation, the take-over included a full cleaning to the entire gym, sanitizing by Enviromasters. Changes include the installation of a new air conditioning system, repairing or replacing broken equipment, new full staff including personal trainers, and a full service smoothie bar. The 15,000 sq. ft. gym will also feature new 65-inch hi-def televisions, stand up tanning beds, and more. A two story gym, downstairs, members will find the free weights, benches, Smith machines, and more. Upstairs is the cardio center with ellipticals, treadmills, stair climbers, and more. A full area for circuit training or HIIT style exercises, along with more machines for the ultimate workout experience. Memberships start as low as $15 per month. First responders, military, and seniors receive a 10% off discount on their membership, with Plant City Police Department and Plant City Fire Rescue receiving free memberships. Pump Fitness is open Monday to Friday from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Sundays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Free 3- Day Passes are available. Call (813) 717-7773 or visit to learn more.

South Florida Baptist Hospital Foundation Event Supports Hospital Services, Programs South Florida Baptist Hospital’s 24th Annual Diamonds & Denim Gala fundraiser will be held Thursday, September 24 taking on a new look during these unprecedented times. The event will be modified to follow public health guidelines and will be called “Diamonds & Denim 2020 with a Twist.” This year’s event features a “Dinner Drive Thru” followed by a Facebook Live event. The dinner drive thru will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m., September 24, at the Florida Strawberry Festival® Charlie Grimes Family Agricultural Center, 2508 Oak Ave., Plant City. Menu items include shrimp cocktail, chef’s kale salad, grilled rib-eye steak, smothered southern diamond chicken, baked potato, roasted carrots, jumbo cupcake and cowboy boot cookie. The Facebook Live event follows at 8 p.m. Individual tickets are $75. Event highlights include: • An online silent auction that begins Tuesday, September 22 and ends Friday, September 25 • Drawings for a diamond ring valued at $3,100, a 50/50 and a grand prize of a $1,500 Traeger® Pellet Grill

Sponsors are still being sought. Five levels of sponsorships are available. Sponsors, depending on level of sponsorship, receive drive thru tickets and tickets to win the diamond ring and grand prize. All sponsorships are tax-deductible. Items are also still sought for the online auction. Sponsors and auction donors will be recognized in event communications. This year’s presenting sponsor is Patterson Companies and the silent auction matching gift sponsor is Morrow Steel. Proceeds from Diamonds & Denim 2020 benefit the many services and programs South Florida Baptist Hospital has provided Plant City for more than 65 years. In 2019, the event raised $117,000. To learn more: Call: (813) 757-8478 Email: Visit:

Big Check for New Tech “The biggest need at Plant City High School is technology,” said PCHS Principal Susan Sullivan. Plant City High School currently has three computer labs with stationary desktop computers and three laptop carts to share between 8 departments. “We need computers for online testing and state assessments, scheduling 2,400 students through three labs and when two teachers wanted to use the laptop carts we currently have on the same day, it created frustration,” said Sullivan. “When we transitioned into e-Learning this school year, we had to give students those laptops to use for their work.” With 2,400 students enrolled, Sullivan asked for funding to bring additional C.O.W.s, or Computers on Wheels, into the school, and the Raider Champions Foundation sprung into action. Board president Rhett Rollyson said the Raider Champions Foundation began reaching out to donors with the goal of raising $50,000 for the C.O.W.s program. “Throughout the generous donation of local businesses and individuals, we’ve raised just shy of $50,000,” said Rollyson. “These new computers are something that’s going to positively impact every student at this school.”

Unity in the Community then agreed to match that $50,000, providing Plant City High School with $100,000 to purchase new laptops. On July 21, Unity presented Susan Sullivan with its portion of the fundraising dollars. “On behalf of Unity, we are filled with joy to present Plant City High School with a check for $50,000 for its Computer on Wheels program,” said Sharon Moody. Sullivan says each mobile cart holds 30 computers and she hopes to purchase one for each department, resulting in 240 brand new laptops. “We are so thankful for Unity in the Community and its continued support of Plant City High School,” said Sullivan. “We are also thankful for the support of the businesses and individuals who also give to our school through Raider Champions.” PAGE





A Tribute to Sadye: Community Center Opened with Dedication Ceremony

On Thursday, March 13, The City of Plant City hosted an invitation-only Dedication Ceremony for the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center. The event was streamed on Facebook for the public. Mrs. Martin was the first African American woman elected Mayor in Plant City and the first African American woman elected Mayor in a major city in Florida. She is beloved for the positive impact she made in the lives of students over her 33 year career in the Hillsborough County School District. In 1982 she was elected to the City Commission, before she served seven terms as Mayor. City Commissioner Mary Thomas-Mathis shared memories of Mrs. Martin throughout her life as a first grade teacher, as a member of the church congregation, and a friend. “To Mrs. Sadye, thank you for loving this city with all your heart,” said Mathis. “To Mrs. Sadye, today we dedicate this building, this Community Center, in your honor because we are Plant City Strong.” Bill Thomas shared memories of the former Community Center and the recreational sports played at the facility and Mrs. Martin’s commitment to inclusion & diversity. “It is my hope we use this facility to carry on [Sadye Martin]’s dreams of improving recreations for our kids,” said Thomas. “...She managed to make sure all voices were represented, which is why I often say it just so happens she was the first true advocate of inclusion and diversity…” Construction on the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center began in May 2019. The new building replaces the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center which was originally built at the same location in 1960 with an addition built 1987. The Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center features a 30,000 square foot multipurpose building with a two full-size basketball court gymnasium, meeting rooms, craft room, activity room with computer lab, and a kitchen facility. There will be no in-person event open to the public at this time due to COVID-19 guidelines and concerns. PAGE


South Florida Baptist Hospital Plans to Relocate in Plant City To improve access to health care services for the community it serves, South Florida Baptist Hospital announced plans to build a new hospital and relocate in Plant City. The proposed new location is off Exit 22 of I-4, east of the intersection of E. Sam Allen Road and N. Park Road. This is a highly visible location in a high growth area, less than four miles from South Florida Baptist Hospital’s current North Alexander Street location. The plan calls for building up to 150 private patient rooms with the ability to add another 30 when needed for future expansion. An 85,000 square-foot medical office building also is proposed at the new location, which will be convenient for both patients and physicians who prefer to work near the hospital. Cost of the project is approximately $326 million. Construction is expected to begin in Summer 2021 and take about 30 months to complete. Since a whole new hospital will be built, there will be no disruption to patients, physicians or staff at the current hospital. “We are committed to providing extraordinary care to our patients and are excited about the opportunity to build a new hospital to extend this mission as we continue to serve our patients in Plant City and the surrounding communities,” said South Florida Baptist Hospital President Karen Kerr.” South Florida Baptist Hospital opened in 1953 and has undergone 12 major additions, renovations and expansions since then. The first addition was in 1969 with a three-story hospital wing and the most recent was in 2017 with expansion of the Heart and Vascular Center. “After 67 years, we have run out of room to expand the hospital on its present site,” Kerr said. “Also, retrofitting the hospital’s infrastructure to meet the growing technological advances in health care solutions is often an expensive and challenging option. Because of that, we feel that to better meet the growing needs of our community, we need to relocate and build a new hospital.” South Florida Baptist Hospital employs nearly 800 team members and more than 250 physicians also work in the facility. Those numbers will remain about the same at the new hospital.





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Walden Lake Review BY NATALIE SWEET


alden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 7:00 at the Walden Lake Community Association office building on Griffin Boulevard in Walden Lake although they are currently being held virtually. The next meetings are scheduled for September 21st. Please keep an eye on the announcement boards at all entrances for dates and times of special meetings and events and if the meetings will take place virtually or in person. The food trucks at the HOA office on the last Sunday of the month have been a big hit. The next food truck event is scheduled for August 30th from 11:00–7:00 and there is talk about bringing in food trucks on the 2nd Friday of the month as well. Watch for more information on the message boards at the entrances, emails from the HOA and on Nextdoor. During the month of July, there were 13 sales in Walden Lake and 2 sales in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $281,520 an average of 16 days on the market.

The July sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 1446 Walden Oaks Place / $185,000 / 1478 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 4134 Barret Avenue / $186,500 / 1400 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 1459 Walden Oaks Place / $215,000 / 1487 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 4319 Kipling Avenue / $219,000 / 1600 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 1507 Teakwood Drive / $241,000 / 2018 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 4207 Kipling Avenue / $266,900 / 1905 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3430 Silverstone Court / $270,000 / 1843 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 1103 Sandalwood Drive / $286,900 / 1963 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3213 Stevenson Street / $295,000 / 2101 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 4101 Concord Way / $299,900 / 2183 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 2706 Wedgewood Drive / $310,000 / 2881 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3210 Pine Club Drive / $320,000 / 2428 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car 2201 Clubhouse Drive / $366,700 / 3306 Sq’ / No / 3 Car 3055 Sutton Woods Drive / $375,000 / 3024 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 2915 Hampton Place Court / $385,000 / 2919 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car There are currently 9 active listings for sale in Walden Lake with an average list price of $382,744 and an average of 76 days on the market. One of the active listings is in Polo Place and when you eliminate those, the average price is $305,587 and 17 days on the market. There are 32 properties Pending Contract in Walden Lake and 1 Pending Contract in Walden Lake East. The average list price of $303,642 and average of 22 days on the market. One of those listings is in Polo Place and without that included, the average list price is $289,697 and 17 days on the market.What this scenario means is that there is less than a month’s inventory available. If you are thinking about selling, this may be the perfect time to put your home on the market. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in talking about the best strategy. It is sad to see the country club gone as many who have lived in here for years, enjoyed spending time at the club. To date, I have not heard anything new about their potential development plans that have been filed with the City. You can find information regarding the potential plans on our HOA website, www.WaldenLake. org. You can also check with the City of Plant City for upcoming information. How is COVID-19 affecting real estate? As you can see from the sales data above, we do not see a slowdown of our listings going under contract, providing they are priced correctly and in good condition. We are seeing fewer homes being listed, so The Sweet Team of Keller Williams Realty feels this is a great time to list, as there are buyers out there that are looking for a home. Feel free to contact me about any real estate questions or about this article. or 813-758-9586.





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2020 HARVEST QUEEN By Cierra Craft Photos by Berry Sweet Memories

On September 19, 2020, the Hillsborough County Fair will crown its 2020 Harvest Queen. The young lady selected will serve as an ambassador for the Hillsborough County Fair, making appearances throughout the fair, scheduled for October 22- November 1, as well as throughout the year at events such as the Florida Strawberry Festival parades, Christmas parade, and other local events.


Meet the young ladies competing for the title of 2020 Hillsborough County Fair Harvest Queen. The contestants will meet with the judges for personal interviews, as well as answer an impromptu onstage question, as well as thank their respective sponsors during the event. These ladies, ages 16 to 19, are not only competing for the title, but for a $1000 college scholarship, The Roland and Olive Lewis Scholarship in memory of Marvin Brown. Due to COVID-19, spectators will not be allowed into the pageant, according to Pageant Director Kelli Messick. For questions regarding the pageant, please contact Messick at 813.967.4199. To learn more about the Hillsborough County Fair, call the Fair office at 813.757.FAIR.































By Ross Spano

Strawberries are, and always have been, the crown jewel of Plant City. The warm Florida climate allowed our ancestors to grow strawberries during the winter months, enabling Plant City to harvest while the rest of the country waited on warmer weather. Today, Plant City is proudly known as the ‘Winter Strawberry Capital of the World’, supplies more than 75% of all the winter strawberries grown in the United States, and brings in hundreds of millions of dollars to our community every year. Evidence of their hard work can be felt all over town. The water tower on N. Wilder Road is proudly painted to resemble a larger-than-life strawberry, strawberry stands line the way along the roads leading into Plant City, and even our welcome sign has strawberries nestled in the city’s name. Our annual Strawberry Festival has for 90 years drawn thousands to Plant City every spring and showcases the best of what we have to offer.



Sadly, our rich heritage and our growers who preserve it are under attack. Since the early 2000s, the Mexican government actively issues billions of dollars in subsidies to their fruit and vegetable growers, paying for equipment and technology that our growers in Florida must provide for themselves. According to one study, these subsidies allow the Mexican government to typically cover 50% of the costs of every covered fruit and vegetable project (including strawberries).



These subsidies caused Mexican strawberry production to skyrocket and enabled Mexican growers to “dump” low-cost strawberries into the United States, driving some of our growers out of business. Since 2000, the value of Mexican produce shipped to the United States has increased by more than 500%, and the value of Mexican strawberries has increased by more than 1,600%. This growth comes directly out of the pockets of our growers: since 2000 (when these subsidies began) Florida growers lost between $1.2 and $2.2 billion in sales, leading to nearly 40,000 lost jobs in Florida. We must stop these unfair trade practices and restore fair trade. Otherwise, Plant City’s entire strawberry industry that built our town, inspires our traditions, and sustains our way of life, could be decimated.

I have been committed to protecting our growers since I was first elected to Congress. Last year, I hosted the Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Ambassador Gregg Doud, so that the growers had a voice in the USMCA negotiations. This year, I brought the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, to Plant City to discuss trade agreement implementation and outcomes. I am also aggressively pushing the ‘Defending Domestic Produce Production Act’ (H.R. 101) which, if enacted, allows Florida’s seasonal growers to bring claims under the Tariff Act and seek relief from the Mexican government. Most recently, I am happy to report that I secured a hearing on Thursday, August 13, with the U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Lighthizer, where my colleagues and I advocated for immediate and effective relief for our community. This fight has been long fought, but it means our victory will be that much sweeter. With the support of President Trump, his Administration, and many members of the Florida delegation, I am confident we will put an end to Mexico’s unfair trade practices and restore a fair-trade environment where our growers, and Plant City, can thrive.








409 N. ALEXANDER ST. PLANT CITY, FL 33563 (813) 359-1270 Bank of Central Florida opened its first Hillsborough County office at the corner of Alexander and Baker streets this past summer. The office features traditional banking amenities such as drive-thru, teller services, and lending. Senior Vice President and Commercial Lender David Brown says the city’s development and growth is a perfect fit for the bank’s model of doing business. Brown is joined by Vice President and Commercial Lender James Garner, leading the community bank in serving the needs of Plant City businesses. As residents of Hillsborough County, members of the Plant City Economic Development Center, and Garner’s ambassadorship of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Brown and Garner talk about Bank of Central Florida’s local approach to commercial banking. When did renovations on the Plant City location begin? When was the official opening date? What type of response have you received thus far? Renovations on the Plant City office began about one year ago when we bought a former drive-thru facility and doubled the size of the building in order to build out a full-service branch at the corner of N. Alexander and Baker St. We opened the office in early summer of 2020 but, unfortunately, the open house and other events that we normally would have planned to celebrate the new office have been delayed out of safety concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges of COVID, we have received many warm welcomes from the Plant City community and look forward to serving the financial needs of local businesses. PAGE


What makes the Bank of Central Florida different from other banking institutions? We are a strong community bank with local decision-making and local ownership that specializes in helping owner-managed businesses in Polk and Hillsborough Counties achieve their financial goals. Our focus on meeting the needs of owner-managed businesses and organizations allows the small business owner to have direct access to an experienced commercial banker without the frustration of dealing with an out-ofmarket lenders who may not be familiar with Plant City. In addition, we understand we understand that technology plays a huge role in the convenience of managing money. It is valuable for our clients in saving time and efficiently managing money so they can run their business or spend more time with family. Bank of Central Florida is unique in that we invest in the same technology of big banks while still providing clientfocused service of a local Banker. The Bank of Central Florida has offices in Polk County and Business Lending in Orlando. What made Plant City appealing? Plant City is a thriving and growing community with community leaders that are fostering economic opportunities in the coming years. Downtown redevelopment plans and the new development ongoing along County Line Road are just two examples of the exciting areas that are slated for Plant City’s future. At the same time, some of the smaller banks being bought out by much larger institutions in this community have brought about a local need for a more agile community bank that can respond very quickly to clients and has decision-making at the local level.





How does it feel to work for the first Bank of Central Florida location in Hillsborough County? We have always been a growth oriented bank with an entrepreneurial focus so it is very exciting to be introducing the bank to a new market especially since I really believe that our business model will be a great asset to the community. What types of services do you offer at the Plant City location? Our Plant City location is a full-service office with two drive-thru lanes and a lobby where clients can schedule an appointment and meet a Banker face-to-face. While we have worked very hard to make banking with us as easy as possible with full remote deposit capabilities, we felt that it was still important to have that physical location for those who still want to visit their local banking office. We have two commercial lenders, a Private Banker, and a Treasury Services officer in the Plant City office. What does the slogan "Be Local. Bank Local." mean to you? “Be Local. Bank Local.” is an expression that highlights the importance of building relationships locally in order to understand how to best serve the community. From a banking perspective, we understand the local marketplace and deliver a quicker “speed to market” response with local decisions than that can be harder to receive from a larger financial institution. You are both Commercial Lenders. What is Commercial Lending and why is it important for the Plant City market? Commercial lending is the role that our bank plays in helping Plant City business owners with their overall credit needs. Whether it is providing a Revolving Line of Credit for additional working capital in a growing business, providing term loans for new equipment, or even real estate construction financing for a new office building or warehouse, we are prepared to help in growing the Plant City community. In addition to lending, we provide a full slate of commercial deposit and treasury management products that PAGE


allow a business owner to focus on what is really important – which is growing their business and not worrying about their banking. Finally, we have an experienced Private Banking team available to provide very high-touch personal service to Plant City business owners for all of their personal banking needs. How does Bank of Central Florida hope to impact the Plant City community beyond banking needs? One of the bank’s 5 core values is “We Care” which means, in part, that we care about our community. So far, we have joined as voting members of the Plant City Economic Development Corporation as well as Trustee members of the Plant City Area Chamber of Commerce. Community involvement is a long tradition at our bank and we have been long-time supporters of United Way of Central Florida. We are proud that 100% of our bank employees have contributed each year to our annual United Way of Central Florida campaigns for 12 consecutive years. Both James Garner and I live in Hillsborough County and certainly intend to be as involved as possible in helping our community.



People of Plant City

Shaq Mitchell By Cierra Craft


is mom was a DJ. His dad sold cassette tapes. So, it’s only fitting that Shaq Mitchell would develop an interest in music. Little did he or his family know that interest would result in Mitchell receiving a Billboard award. Plant City-resident Shaq Mitchell produces beats for Hip Hop/Rap artists, like Skyzoo, Reason, Lou the Human, and more. Mitchell sat down with FOCUS to talk about perseverance, his inspirations, and a new project intended to bring people together for tough conversations. Where did your interest in music stem from? My parents. My mom was a DJ and my dad sold cassette tapes of a wide variety, so I think they got me into it. We would listen to Philly Soul, Northern Soul, 90s R&B, Rap, and my Dad even had some rock albums we would listen to. My



oldest brother Cornelius was also an influence on my music journey also. When did you begin making your own music? In middle school, I started rapping and then after graduating from high school in 2012, I started making beats and taught myself how to use FL Studio. In 2015, I gave up on music. I sent an email to Skyzoo the day before but I didn’t hear back so I said ‘forget it.’ I packed everything up and went to Value Pawn, but they were closed. I decided to try again the next day, but I got an email from Skyzoo saying he wanted to use my beats on his album. I had one song on his E.P. and the intro song on his album. My work with Skyzoo earned me a Billboard Award, it charted #2 in Hip Hop. Then I started working with Reason, Lou the Human, Jag, and I have more coming with Skyzoo.

What artists are on the top of your list to product music for? What producers are you inspired by? Drake is the biggest artist in the game. For producers, I would say Just Blaze, Boi-1da, and Bink. They create a full sound with music without overdoing it. What other projects are you working on? Blesspool Podcast, it’s an all-talk, uncensored conversation with people of Plant City to talk about their experience living here. I think of it like a therapy session for people to release what they want to release. Season 1 is released on It’s hosted by myself, Jeremiah Cooper, and Kayvious Campbell.

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Did You Know?

The Packing & Shipping Industry in Plant City and the R.W. Burch Company By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives


arly history of Plant City is about the railroad, but more importantly what the railroad provided for the farming community. The trains carried produce to markets from Plant City to cities, town, and villages in all directions. The packing and shipping houses operations benefited the farmers in Springhead, Dover, Cork, Knights, Hopewell, Kathleen, and many other small areas. It was one of the most prosperous industries in Hillsborough and Polk counties. As David E. Bailey, Jr. wrote, “It was prosperous times in Plant City in 1914…. During one month about seventy-five thousand boxes of oranges and grapefruit were shipped at one dollar a box. Total shipment from Plant City was expected to reach one hundred and fifty thousand boxes.” The newspapers carried running tallies of produce packed and shipped by the packing and shipping houses out of Plant City and the surrounding area. In 1913 Wiggins & Daniels constructed a new brick packing house on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad right of way. The Mays Packing Co. was also on the Seaboard track and the Joe Thomas Packing House was along the A.C.L. tracks. Along with newcomer R. W. Burch, these packing houses alone shipped 59,000 boxes of citrus products in November 1913, not halfway into their season. On Saturday, May 9, 1914, Joe Thomas & Co., consisting of Thomas, J. S. Barnes, J. C. Shahan, and R. W. Burch, shipped ten rail cars of vegetables, requiring the Atlantic Coast Line to requisition an extra train for the complete load. On September 1, 1919, it was announced in the Courier that one of the biggest deals in citrus was made by Joe T. Thomas and R. W. Burch, as Thomas & Burch. By 1921 it had become the R. W. Burch Company, which began a massive expansion in the packing and shipping industry, specializing in citrus. Robert Wade Burch moved with his parents in 1902 from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Miami, Florida, at the age of 14. As a young man Burch began working for H. W. Bird, one of the largest produce shippers on the East Coast. By 1910, at the age of 22, Burch moved to Plant City, apparently working on his own but also for H. W. Bird. As early as 1912, R. W. Burch & Co. is shipping out of Miami alongside H. W. Bird. By 1921 it



was the R. W. Burch Company. At some point he also bought the former Wiggins and Daniels brick packing house on Reynolds Street alongside the S.A.L. tracks. Another man, who had moved with his family from Pennsylvania to Miami in 1910, graduated Miami High School in 1916, and completed his formal education at the Pan American College of Commerce, came to Plant City. Young Lew Prosser began working for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad and gained valuable experience in freight shipping and the express business. He began his career in the citrus industry when he joined the R. W. Burch Co. about 1921. That same year Prosser also became a charter and founding member of the Kiwanis Club of Plant City, where he met many influential Plant Citians. Burch, along with his friends Joe Thomas, and Charles H. Taylor, and his professional management staff, began to build a much larger company, reaching into area counties, into Ocala and North Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Wade Burch was recognized as the active head of one of the greatest citrus and produce marketing agencies in Florida. He was much respected by the growers and his men, alongside whom he would frequently work regardless of the weather. Prosser rose through the ranks becoming an officer and Treasurer of R. W. Burch by 1927. Wade Burch, who had suffered a heart attack in 1926, died of heart failure in 1928. Shortly after, Prosser assumed sole ownership of the R. W. Burch Company. As Burch was, Prosser was driven and by 1930 he had expanded the operations to five citrus packing plants and had become the third largest independent shipper of citrus fruit in Florida. Prosser also had new ideas. A first, which benefitted growers in the area, was the formation of the Plant City Production Credit Company, administered by the R. W. Burch Company and sponsored by a forerunner to the United States Farm Credit Administration. It was the first farm production credit association in this part of Florida. Prosser was an inventor and an aggressive innovator. His list of accomplishments is long and includes the formation of the Florida Mixed Car Company, specializing in marketing mixed carlot shipments of citrus and produce on one rail car solely

dedicated to the shipment of produce. The R. W. Burch Co. also underwrote the expense of a proceeding before the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington which resulted in a ruling by the ICC that the express companies be required by law to provide full refrigerated car service by express at reduced rates. This provided significant relief for produce growers and shippers. The packers and shippers of Plant City have a rich history on the rails passing through Plant City and the R. W. Burch Co. played a major part in that history for close to fifty years. Sources: Quintilla Geer Bruton and David E. Bailey, Jr., Plant City: Its History and Origin;;; Lew Prosser Papers; Plant City Photo Archives collections.






44. 1916 Irish Pub 46. Brick House Cafe 48. Brown's Jewlers 50. Cameron Financial Mangement 52. College Hunks Hauling Junk 54. Dental Associates at Walden Woods

64. Outback Steakhouse 66. Poppell Insurance 68. The Riddle Family Insurance 70.Tennessee Jane Boutique 72. Thielen Environmental 74. TurfBrands

56. Discount Screening, Inc. 58. Felton's Meat and Produce Market 60. First Response Heating & Cooling 62. Gould's A/C & Heating

76. Creative Flower Designs by Glenn 78. Fearnow Insurance 80. Your CBD Store PAGE



1916 IRISH PUB What qualities make up a great bar? A wide variety of drinks including beers, wines, and cocktails. Delicious food with hearty portions at great prices. Friendly, knowledgeable service, and a visible, attentive owner. 1916 Irish Pub checks each box off the list. Owners Chuck Jamieson and Duke Mendel are proud to offer a unique dining and entertainment experience within the context of a traditional Irish pub. 1916 has all of the makings of a traditional Irish Pub with a contemporary twist. Located at 2309 Thonotosassa Road, 1916 is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and a secondary location within the Cleveland Heights Clubhouse in Lakeland from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., 1916 offers a wide selection of beverages from soft drinks, craft beers, wines, and cocktails to traditional Irish beers and whiskey. 1916’s team of bartenders can make any mixed drink to order, from the simplest of cocktails to the most sophisticated. The food at 1916 Irish Pub is just as much a draw as the beverages, as a fusion of Irish and American cuisine. The local establishment offers dining options unlike anything else in Plant City. From gourmet flatbread pizzas to sandwiches, delicious salads with crisp veggies, and entrees popular in the Northern Atlantic island, including Irish Stew and Fish & Chips. From PAGE


Owner Chuck Jamieson

11AM to 3PM, 1916 Irish Pub Lakeland location offers Breakfast/Bunch, with omelettes, burritos, waffles, and sandwiches. The Pub is coupled with a catering concept, Second Plate Catering, which has been in business for three years. “We take a lot of pride in our food. Not just in the preparation of the food, but also in the ingredients,” states Jamieson. Jamieson notes the sandwiches are made with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, the hamburgers are Kobe beef, and the Rueben and Shepherd’s Pie are some of the top menu items. 1916 showcases live music, sporting events, and holiday parties. The pub brings many great talents to their stage, including national recording artists and local musicians. Recently, the stage at the Plant City location was expanded, giving more space for bands and creating a speaking platform for holiday events including the pub’s annual Halloween costume contest and St. Patrick’s Day events. In July 2019, 1916 Irish Pub became the premier restaurant at the Cleveland Heights Golf Course. Offering the same drink and food selections, 1916 Irish Pub has received a warm welcome by Lakelanders looking for a bit to eat after a day on the course. The 27-hole golf venue offers 10,000 square feet of dining space, which includes a 3,000 square foot bar area and 7,000 square feet of multiple banquet and event rooms. The outdoor mezzanine, perfect for Sunday brunch and cocktail hours, overlooks the golf course and will house a portable bar and multiple televisions. Is a third location in the future? Jamieson says it isn’t out of the question that St. Pete/Tampa will soon get to experience 1916’s unique Irish-American offerings. Following the pub on social media for updates @1916irishpub. 1916 Irish Pub holds a spot for everyone. Rich in history, it’s more than just a place to enjoy food and drinks with friends and family. It’s also a place to enjoy a beautiful day unwinding after a game of golf or a fun night listening to great music.

2309 Thonotosassa Rd | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 756-6504 | Open daily 11AM to 2PM 2900 Buckingham Ave | Lakeland, FL 33803 | (863) 834-2384 | Open daily 11AM to 10PM PAGE



BRICK HOUSE CAFE There is a reason The Brick House Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants in town: The food is great with generous portion sizes. The service is top notch and the atmosphere is casual and family-friendly. On any given morning, the dining room of The Brick House Cafe is buzzing with conversation, dishes are clanking and the swinging door to the kitchen is nonstop as the staff brings out entrees. When the dining room was closed by the county to stop the spread of COVID-19, it was devastating to say the least, but owner Shari Sarris and her son and General Manager, Spiros, express immense gratitude to the customers that ordered take out until the dining room could be reopened. The customers are the heartbeat of The Brick House Cafe and with their loyalty, they were able to keep their doors open and keep the staff working. “We are thankful for the support and are blessed to have customers return to The Brick House and we are thriving during this economic hardship, we couldn’t do it without our customers,” said Shari. “There are a special PAGE



Additionally, Mellisa Sarris, Spiros’ wife, is offering her full menu of specialty cakes and pies. Her Italian Cream Cake, Pineapple Pie, and Coconut Cream Pie are the top three customer favorites. To place an order, call Brick House Cafe at (813) 752-8546.

Brick House Cafe is owned and operated by Shari Sarris and her son, Spiros.

Shari wants customers to understand that some ingredients in dishes may be substituted or missing due to limited availability. group that ordered takeout every single day when we were closed, you have no idea how appreciated you are. I didn’t mention names, but each and every one of you knows how The Brick House staff feels about you.” As The Brick House staff continues to navigate the 50% dining room capacity, the restaurant still offers carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery via Bite Squad and Uber Eats. Delivery fees have been reduced or waived through these providers. Shari says the full menu is currently available to order, including daily lunch specials that are affordable, often less than $10. Brick House Cafe was awarded the FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Award for “Best Burger” for the past six consecutive years. Each burger is made with fresh handmade patties and perfectly grilled buns. In 2015 and 2017, Brick House won the title of Best Breakfast. If you haven’t ordered the Creme Brûlée Waffles for $7.49 or the Stuffed French Toast for $6.99, you’re missing out. Brick House hopes to reclaim the title of Best Breakfast in the 2021 awards.

“Please bare with us because products are hard to come by,” said Shari. The Brick House Cafe is also thankful for the support of Plant City Main Street, the nonprofit organization with the mission of making historic downtown a vibrant place to eat, to shop, and to live. Plant City Main Street has strived to ensure that downtown businesses are taken care of and not in need. “We have great appreciation for Executive Director Jerilyn Rumbarger and the Plant City Main Street for helping The Brick House Cafe and supporting downtown, we’ve benefited from their support,” said Shari. While 2020 has been a whirlwind for everyone, The Brick House Cafe is approaching its third year anniversary at its current location on Evers Street. Originally located at the old brick PIzza Hut on Prosser Street, The Brick House Cafe relocated to Evers Street in 2017. After a full renovation to convert the old Plant City jailhouse to a full-service restaurant, Brick House Cafe had found its new home and reopened its doors without missing a beat.

206 S Evers St, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-8546 | Tues-Sun 7AM to 2PM PAGE



Brown’s Jewelers staff Brenda, Rusty, and Naomi are ready to help customers find a perfect diamond ring or Rolex watch for someone special.

BROWN’S JEWELERS For 34 years, Brown’s Jewelers has been a name you can trust for quality in fine jewelry, watches, and expert repairs in eastern Hillsborough County and surrounding areas. The family owned and operated jewelry store takes great pride in offering friendly and affordable service for all your jewelry needs. Plant City native Russell Brown started working with jewelry at age 15 when his dad learned the business from his brother-in-law, who was a gold wholesaler. “Rusty,” as he’s called, grew up working as farm labor for the summer and fall vegetable crops with his father, who sharecropped with Mac Griffin at the time. On the weekends, Brown says he and his father sold items at flea markets and over time, his father taught him jewelry repair and how to grade diamonds. “We were searching for an existing storefront in Tampa when Dad discovered this one in Plant City,” said Brown. “I’m so glad he did. We’ve PAGE


Gemstone rings, including rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, are among the selection at Brown’s Jewerlers.

built our family-owned and operated business through loyal locals and their referrals.” In January 1995, Rusty took over operations of Brown’s Jewelers. Through his leadership, the business has grown. Brown's Jewelers specializes in fine jewelry, custom designs, and affordable repairs. The showcases display wedding, engagement and class rings, charms, necklaces, bracelets and watches. Brown's Jewelers also buys gold, silver, diamonds, and gemstones. A spectacular collection of fine jewelry is available for the special person in your life, or to purchase for yourself. The showcases are stocked with many options and designer names in various styles and types. Items include: • Gold and silver • Diamonds • Gemstones • Wedding, engagement and class rings • Necklaces, bracelets and charms

Known for his ability to custom design many different items to customers’ exact specifications, Brown shared, “You tell us what you want and we can make it. And we can even provide our input if you want a second opinion.” The staff is happy to look at your fine pieces that need repair – whether they’re vintage hand-me-downs passed on to you by someone special, or simply too valuable to let sit and collect dust. Because he takes pride in his restoration, repair, and creative design work, Rusty Brown uses a laser welder with pinpoint accuracy for the solder. If you need something sized, fixed or otherwise altered, Brown’s Jewelers offers this service at competitive prices. It really does pay to shop local.

Customers trust owner Rusty Brown with repairs and appraisals for their jewelry, including heirloom pieces, engagement rings, and more.

Fine jewelry is considered an investment due to the monetary price tag. Often these pieces hold sentimental value as well, which is why the staff handles them with such care. “I thoroughly enjoy helping to preserve the sentimental values that jewelry can hold for customers,” Rusty offered. “We can repair or update with a custom design if that’s what they prefer. It’s the creative side of what we do.” Customers rave about the attentive staff, wide selection, and the joy of seeing their cherished pieces of jewelry repaired like new: Brown’s customer April Hatfield said: “I've had nothing but the best service each time I have gone to Brown's Jewelers. Everytime has been fast, courteous and affordable. I wouldn't take my business to anyone else.” Michelle Haines recently had custom rings designed from stones set into a necklace. She had nothing but good things to say about her new jewelry: “I had two rings made out of necklace stones. They are both gorgeous rings. Couldn’t be happier!” Beverly Frable wanted to add a sentimental charm to a bracelet. She turned to Rusty Brown for help: “Highly recommend Brown’s Jewelry based on the work they do and on their customer service! The prices are reasonable, needed a bracelet ... one that could be altered to accommodate a sentimental charm, which also needed work. I was quoted a more than fair price for everything and it was ready for pickup less than 24 hours later! They are without a doubt my new “go to” place for all things jewelry!” “Come by for an up-close look at the beautiful collections we have in store,” said Brown. “Browse for yourself or a loved one with help from our jewelers.” With the year-end holidays approaching, now is the time to beat the rush for best selections or special orders and a layaway plan is available. The staff at Brown’s Jewelers is waiting to help you find that perfect gift.

For the man that got down on one knee, he deserves a special ring of his own. Shop the collection of men’s wedding bands at Brown’s Jewelers.

1705 Jim Redman Pkwy, Suite G | Plant City, FL 33563-6900 | 813-754-2360 | PAGE



CAMERON FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT “Quietly making money might not make an exciting ad campaign, but it can be very rewarding” says Michael Cameron. Michael Cameron and Shawnia Kummelman are celebrating 10 years serving clients at LPL Financial by quietly making client’s money. It was during the “Great Recession” on August 2, 2010, to be exact, that Michael first opened the doors of a new LPL Financial office in Plant City. Three days later, on August 5, the bond rating firm, Standard & Poor’s, lowered the U.S. government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in history. Cameron is not a stranger to economic turmoil, as he started as an investment representative in July 2001, during the Dot-Com Bubble crisis, just two months before the events of 9/11. “I have been through 3 major market cycles and have learned to focus on my client’s long-term goals and not be rattled by the crisis-du-jour,” said Cameron. The office is located in the Young and Moody Building, at 110 W. Reynolds Street Suite 109, in beautiful downtown Plant City. The signs on the window and above the door read “Cameron Financial Management”. The independence and ability to run his own business is definitely one of the strengths of the LPL Financial system said Michael. LPL Financial is the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer, an RIA custodian, and the leading provider of third-party brokerage services to banks and credit unions. LPL Financial backs the wisdom and experience of independent advisors with a catalog of services and resources, including objective market research, innovative technology with leading cybersecurity functionality, compliance oversight and ongoing practice consulting and training. When asked, how do you define success? Michael said, “For me it’s about helping others. I enjoy helping people reach their goals. I help people in different places and in different ways.” He went on to explain, “I really enjoy teaching people about investing. I work to explain investing in simple terms and with fun analogies, so everyone can understand. Teaching a teenager “why and how” to invest can be a life changer for that individual and perhaps his or her family. Everyone who is retiring should understand the risks they will face, as well as the rewards they may enjoy during their lifetime.” PAGE


Cameron Financial Management is run by Michael Cameron and Client Relations Manager Shawnia McNary Kummelman.

So, when a client asks “what should I be doing now, if I want to retire in 5 years?” Cameron simply said keep growing your money. “Here are some serious things to think about 5 years out,” said Cameron. “Estimate the monthly income you will need, post retirement. Determine whether you will stay in your existing home or move. Consider the effect of debt and taxes. Consider healthcare costs and how you plan to meet them. Lastly, imagine what your ideal retirement looks like and start getting ready.” What makes Michael Cameron different from other financial advisors is accessibility. His clients all have his cell phone number and email address, so he can often answer questions and provide guidance, even when he is not physically in the office. A Plant City native, Cameron couldn’t imagine having an office anywhere else. “This is my town, and these are my people and I enjoy bringing Wall Street to Reynolds Street,” said Cameron. He says he has enjoys being centrally located downtown and is excited to see so many new businesses and new restaurants opening within walking distance. He went on to share his enthusiasm about “Paint Plant City”, an art project sponsored by Plant City Main Street and MAKE Plant City that will add art and murals throughout our downtown.

Owner Michael Cameron has 19 years of experience in financial planning, beginning his career with Edward Jones. Ten years ago, he opened Cameron Financial Management.

For a complimentary financial portfolio review and consultation regarding stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, 401ks, company retirement accounts, or if you just want to start planning for retirement, give Michael Cameron or Client Relations Manager, Shawnia Kummelman a call at (813) 759-8485.




COLLEGE HUNKS HAULING JUNK They might be called the hunks, but the employees at Trent Lott’s College Hunks Hauling Junks and Moving franchise aren’t brawny brutes. In fact, they’re quite the opposite. “I think when people hear the term “hunks,” they think it’s just about guys being hunky,” Lott said. “But it really means honest, uniform, nice and knowledgeable service providers. Our guys are athletic and strong, but they don’t have to be the biggest guys in the world. We hire for reliability and good attitude, and for our employees to care about the clients they’re working for.” That method is working for Lott, who opened his franchise location at 622 S. Collins St. in Plant City in March 2016. At the time, Lott was a new graduate of the University of Tampa and current College Hunks employee at one of its Tampa locations. “When we opened in Plant City, we started with just a dump truck and one moving truck,” he said. Now, he has a team of 45 hunks and 11 vehicles in the fleet. The moving trucks operate out of Plant City with the dump trucks operating out of Lakeland and Brandon to provide central locations for customers. Right now, Lott and his team average about 500 jobs per month. As a Plant City native, it made sense for Lott to have Plant City as home base. Outside of his franchise, he serves as a coaching assistant for soccer and tennis at Plant City High School. He also won Dancing with the Locals in 2018, and hopes to participate again in the future. As the business grows, so do the services offered. In addition to moving and junk removal, College Hunks offers packing and unloading services, same and next day scheduling, donation pickups, furniture staging and rearranging and light demolition. The Plant City location currently covers Polk and Eastern Hillsborough counties, with plans to offer interstate moving within the next year. “We’re probably going to outgrow our current office soon and move into a larger building,” Lott said. “I have to thank Plant City for being such a loyal customer base. Seldom do we see other competitors driving around. PAGE


People stay loyal to the area. I think one of the benefits we have is our labor force. We have a lot of hard workers, and we haven’t had trouble recruiting.” With the coronavirus creating challenges for many businesses, Lott and his team have found ways to adapt. “We’re all wearing masks and we have temperature checks for the guys in the morning,” he said. “If anyone shows any symptoms, they’re sent home immediately and have to get tested. For people who are still quarantining, we offer contactless junk removal pickup where they can put their stuff for pickup right outside or in one room of the house. My guys can come in, do the removal and collect payment over the phone.” Above all, Lott wants customers to know they can count on him and his team for any job. “Our customers are inviting people into their home and spending hours with them during the moving process,” he said. “You want to know you can trust them, and you can trust the hunks.” To schedule a move, junk removal or other service, contact College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving at (863) 213-8613, or book online at

622 S Collins St, Plant City, FL 33563 | 863-292-6458 | Mon-Sat 8AM-9PM | Sunday 9AM- 6PM PAGE



DENTAL ASSOCIATES AT WALDEN WOODS One visit to Dental Associates at Walden Woods will have patients looking forward to their next. For many, the thought of a dental visit brings anxiety and apprehension. But from the moment you’re welcomed into the office of Dr. Ray Gutierrez and the highly qualified Dental Associates team, rest assured! Premier quality oral health care in a relaxed atmosphere will put you at ease from your very first appointment. With a focus on lifetime attentiveness, “Dr. Ray” and his hygienists, technicians, and office personnel will make sure your experience is as effective, affordable, and pleasant as possible. By employing the latest technologies and through continuing education, the entire staff provides patients with the professional attention they deserve. Regardless of your current oral health, your smile is always in good hands here.

Additionally, Dr. Gutierrez is certified for IV sedation. Regardless of how meticulous people are with their oral health, unforeseen circumstances like physical trauma or untreated decay can cause numerous problems. A major benefit of sedation dentistry is that people often feel like their procedure lasts only a few minutes, when in fact hours were involved. This means complex corrections such as smile makeovers or extensive reconstruction that normally require multiple visits can often be performed with fewer appointments. For those fearful or anxious about undergoing long or complicated procedures, sedation dentistry can bring comfort during treatments and result in a smile to be proud of. As one of the few practices in town to offer IV sedation dentistry, most procedures are performed in-house. In addition to root canals, dental implants, and grafting, visit to view the extensive list of available services.

And this dentist loves his work for good reason! "I come to work every day and make a positive impact on the health of others,” he shared. “Not many people can say that, but that's what working in dentistry has given me - the chance to help patients improve not only their oral health, but quality of life as well."

Accuracy and Affordability

Invisalign® and IV Sedation Certified

For example, non-invasive, painless equipment can now instantly produce high-resolution dental images that allow Dr. Ray to detect problems and expedite treatment for issues like tooth decay, worn enamel, gum disease, or micro-fractures.

The University of Florida College of Dentistry graduate holds memberships in the American Dental Association and Florida Dental Association. Dr. Ray is also an esteemed member of the Doctor Mastery Program, a five-year clinical training program presented by world-renowned clinicians. As an Invisalign® certified dentist, he is pleased to offer the most esthetic option for straightening misaligned or improperly spaced teeth. Invisalign® is wonderful for working adults because it produces similar results to traditional metal braces, but utilizes a series of custom-made, virtually invisible, clear aligners. Patients enjoy maintaining their professional appearance and the dramatic improvement of properly aligned teeth without feeling selfconscious. And Invisalign® Teen is great for students, too. PAGE


With a wide variety of the most current treatments, Dental Associates knows affordability is a factor, too. Utilizing advanced technologies to diagnose and treat dental problems with the highest level of accuracy means savings for patients.

Patients who schedule regularly for professional teeth cleaning and teeth whitening to brighten their smiles help keep small concerns from becoming more difficult to treat. Decidedly, this dentist values his career. "Practicing dentistry with excellence and professionalism is tremendously important to me,” Dr. Ray explained. “My goal is that every patient feels very comfortable and confident with us. We try to provide value to them and ensure high level care at an affordable price in a compassionate and comfortable atmosphere.”

RESOUNDING REVIEWS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Word-of-mouth and online referrals/reviews are always an encouragement to this close-knit group of caregivers.

Payment Options

In addition to cash, personal checks, and debit or credit cards, other payment options include the annual-fee, dental savings program and CareCredit, a healthcare credit card used to pay costs in installments. For those with dental insurance, the team will verify your insurance coverage AND file your claim for you!

Priority One

Ultimately, what sets this dental practice apart from others is the personal attention and outstanding care. "Improving the health and well-being of our patients is top priority,” said Dr. Ray. “Building relationships and getting to know them helps us better understand their dental needs, so we can provide care that surpasses their expectation." Because oral health is integral to overall health, Dental Associates at Walden Woods strives to provide comprehensive care to its family of patients. Dr. Gutierrez has a business philosophy that promises, “We will work with you to develop a treatment plan for your immediate needs and establish preventative dental maintenance that ensures your smile will last for a lifetime!” Be sure to inquire about the new patient specials. For children, ages 17-under, the exam, cleaning, x-rays and fluoride treatment are only $59, while new adult patients pay only $79 for cleaning, exam and x-rays. Call 813-752-3030 or visit online to schedule your appointment. Dental Associates at Walden Woods is happy to welcome new members. Remember, a great smile awaits!

“…Dr. Ray has a great sense of humor, is laid back and very friendly…The staff is also great…have my best interest at hand and always go over payments and offer options if there are more affordable ways.” - Lisa M. “Great staff and customer service. Always have a good experience with routine visits. Had a GREAT experience getting some not-so-routine work recently. I was in and out in less than an hour. Everyone is professional and welcoming.” - Cathy Baker “Sarah at the front desk is kind and considerate. Jillian rocked my cleaning. Dr. Ray laid out the plan. I’m happy I joined the discount program. All good!” - Michelle Allen Grunberg “This is the best dentist I’ve been to…caring, very professional, attentive to my concerns and easy to schedule with. They fixed a nightmare situation from another dentist and Dr. Ray is the ONLY dentist I trust; he’s warm, honest & extremely skilled. I love this office!!” - Cori Puls “I get fantastic service at Dental Associates! I highly recommend them.” - Jim Scott "…found a great dentist. They actually explain the whole process of what they’re going to do…staff was great, very friendly, all smiling, very happy. What a great place to do business with…” - Archie Hovsepian II

512 E. Alexander Street | Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-752-3030 | Hours: Monday – Thursday, 8am – 5:30pm | Friday, 8am-3pm PAGE



DISCOUNT SCREENING, INC. Since 1983, Discount Screening, Inc. owner Marty Johnson and his technicians have believed: “Quality IS everything and the benefits of this strong commitment go directly to YOU, our valued customer.” As a sub-contractor throughout the eighties, Marty had done it all, including aluminum repair jobs. Seeing a need in the community for a quality screen repair company, Johnson eventually decided to focus exclusively on that work and formed Discount Screening, Inc. “Whenever there was a damaged lanai or pool enclosure,” he recalled, “I was the one everyone knew could fix it.” From the beginning, he was determined his company would be a leader in responsiveness and quality. Discount Screening only uses the best available materials, long-lasting and durable. Customers can rest assured that all labor and materials used by Discount Screening are warranted. “I don’t believe in cutting corners,” offered Johnson, “which is why I don’t like to use imported screen, also known as China screen, because the poor quality doesn’t perform well, but I only use the best.” The licensed and insured Discount Screening, Inc. specializes in the repairing and re-screening of all types of screened enclosures including: PAGE


ALL REPAIRS including Aluminum, Vinyl Window, Individual Panel repairs, screen doors, and pool cage cable ties. Replacement of damaged gutters and downspout Full Enclosure Re-Screening Pool, Screen Room and Lanai Enclosures Pressure Washing Gutter Cleaning Screen Entryways Garage Screens (effectively add another room to the house) Hinges, Doors and Hardware Floor Track Pet Doors Replace fasteners Replace floor anchors

The company also performs a free 10-point check of pool enclosure and screen room lanais. A 5-year warranty is provided on all rescreening labor and materials, with a 10-year warranty for “Super Screen®.” Super Screen® is the newest space-age technology in enclosure screen protection for pool, patio or porch. This high-quality, longlasting home improvement investment is the perfect choice for the homeowner who demands the very best in family enjoyment and outdoor safety. Super Screen® is tear and puncture resistant, will not fade in the Florida sun, is mildew resistant, and of course, keeps bugs out. Johnson is proud to use products by Phifer Incorporated, a company established in 1952 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Phifer consumer products make it easy to enjoy the outdoors from inside. The world’s largest screening producer offers a wide variety of insect screens and exterior solar screens to help keep out bugs and solar heat while preserving the view. Interior sun control fabrics help reduce solar heat and create soft, usable indoor light. Discount Screening can offer solutions and improvements for every situation. Whether you need an entire enclosure, rescreen or just need a few screens replaced, Discount Screening will breathe new life into your existing enclosures. The company also accepts insurance claims and offers to beat competitors’ pricing. The company also offers a military and first responder discount as a thank you for their sacrifice. Nothing tells a company’s success story more than referrals from satisfied customers. The following recommendations from Plant City neighbors who recommend Discount Screening: Traci Tew Walding: “Discount Screening rescreened my entire pool/ patio area and they did an amazing job. Very professional and prompt. They started on time and finished within the time frame given to me.” Pat Comstock: “I've used Marty at Discount Screening for many years. He’s always done excellent work and been honest and prompt.” Natalie Sweet: “Marty with Discount Screening is who I always recommend. Fair and honest!” For your free estimate on solutions your home needs, schedule an appointment today with Discount Screening, Inc. at 813-752-3306 or e-mail Marty at To learn more about specific products available, visit

1406 W. Knights Griffin Road | Plant City FL 33565 | 813-752-3306 | Discount Screening Emphasizes Quality and Customer Service PAGE




Carrying on Family Tradition

Felton’s Meat and Produce Market houses a world of multi-cultural food items inside its 12,000 square foot grocery store at US 92 and Maryland Avenue in Plant City. Today, Lee Williams and his sister Karen Davis, who grew up in the business, manage the family-owned operation established in 1955 by their parents, Felton and Lucille Williams. William and Davis continue to operate the business the same way their dad did, by carrying Felton Williams’ values and providing quality service. Widely recognized for its impressive meat department, Felton’s feels like the neighborhood butcher shop of yesteryear. Great pricing on fresh, frozen, custom cuts, and smoked meats place this local grocery in a league of its own. Families can enjoy even more savings by ordering 24 hours in advance from four “meat bundles,” priced $55 to $139. Simply view the packages online, call (813) 752-1548, receive an email confirmation, and pick up tomorrow. Regular customers have also discovered a treasure trove in Felton’s freshly smoked or fried meats, smoked onsite or deli-ready to become the main dish of your lunch or evening meal. To give your home’s cook a break on extra busy days, stop by Felton’s to make dinner a quick one. The store offers smoked specialties such as ribs, brisket, Boston butt, sausage, picnic hams, pulled pork and chicken or its deli-prepared fried pork chops, chicken drumsticks, and wings. When extra-large gatherings demand larger quantities, Felton’s will prepare any meat purchased in the store. Folks can also order smoked turkeys 24 hours in advance and four days prior for smoked whole hogs. PAGE


Felton Williams founded Felton’s Meat Market & Produce in 1955. Today, the business is run by his two children, Lee Williams and Karen Davis. While Felton’s is renowned for its meat selections, Felton’s also offers an impressive produce department stocked with items such as jalapenos and tomatillos.

While Felton’s may have all of the ingredients you need to make a great meal, the deli counter offers an array of pre-cooked items including fried chicken, fried pork chops, potato wedges and more.

Because of Felton’s rich history with the Plant City community, customer service is a priority. At the store’s service desk, employees enjoy helping shoppers with postage stamp purchases, TECO and Bright House payments, check cashing, Western Union and Orlandi Valuta money orders or transfers, food stamps/EBT/WIC cards and corporate or organizational accounts. The grocery business has a long heritage in the Williams’ family. In 1955, Felton Williams started out with a produce stand on US 92 West. He later built a store behind it in the 1960s. He then sold the store in the 1970s, bought it back and then sold it again in the 1980s. In the 1990s, he bought the current property off Maryland Avenue. But his strong interest in the grocery business came as a result of him working at his own father’s store. Yes, a previous generation also ran a store in Plant City. It was located at the corner of Alsobrook and Coronet streets. It was in this store that Felton Williams met his future wife Lucille. The couple met when he returned from basic training in the army in 1943. She was working at his father’s store at the time. Felton Williams was a member of the Plant City Lions Club, on the Board of Directors of South Florida Baptist Hospital and many other trade and

service organizations. He was named Plant City Citizen of the Year in 2006. Williams and Davis carry on what their parents instilled in them with regards to community involvement. They believe in helping local schools, churches, and civic events. Lee Williams is a member of the Plant City Rotary Club, where he often donates hot dogs, buns, chips and toppings to the organization for various events, including the Plant City Christmas Parade. Each year, the Rotary Club passes out thousands of free hot dogs to parade participants, thanks in part to the generous donation by Lee Williams and Felton’s. Williams noted that some of the area schools conduct field trips at their store in order to teach the children about the different parts of an animal. “Felton’s is known to have everything from the ‘rooter to the tooter,’ from the snout to the tail,” chuckled Williams. Over the years, Felton’s Meat and Produce Market has won numerous industry awards from suppliers and vendors. And many local organizations have recognized them for their community involvement. “We are a part of Plant City, and Plant City is a part of us,” states Davis. “We are very blessed to have the support of the community.”

Felton’s, like the old neighborhood meat market, offers beef, chicken, pork, and fish, as well as custom cuts. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Just ask and an associate will be more than happy to cut exactly what you need.

617 North Maryland Avenue | Plant City, Florida 33563 | (813) 752-1548 | Hours: Monday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. | Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. PAGE



FIRST RESPONSE HEATING & COOLING First Response Heating & Cooling was founded in 2018, proudly serving Hillsborough, Polk, and Pasco counties. Since the beginning, First Response has provided residential, commercial, industrial, and rural HVAC service. Founded by Bryan Chapman and Matt Roberts, First Response Heating & Cooling was established with the goal of providing “fast, friendly, & fair” service to clients and treating those clients like family. Open 24-hours, the First Response team is prepared to tackle any A/C breakdown, day or night. “First Response is a true 24-hour service company,” said Roberts. “I get so many calls from clients that say 'you are the only ones that answered the phone.' If the air breaks at 1 AM, we will be ready to take your call. We have fully stocked trucks on the road so 99% of the time we can fix any issue we come in contact with. This also saves our clients time and allows us to get the systems back up and running much faster.” From a new system installation to repairing or replacing an existing system, First Response Heating & Cooling services HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems units big and small. The company also offers PAGE


The First Response Heating & Cooling team is committed to providing fast, friendly, and fair service to Hillsborough, Polk, & Pasco counties.

indoor air quality products including UV light air purification, whole house dehumidification, as well as heat and energy recovery ventilators. Honesty, integrity, fairness, and community are at the heart of the company’s values. In addition to sponsoring Plant City Little League Baseball and participating in the city’s annual parades, First Response Heating & Cooling is dedicated to giving back to the community that supports their business through a number of give back initiatives. Due to COVID-19 Safer at Home Orders in March and April, Roberts and Chapman knew that many parents were furloughed and kids would go without an Easter basket on Easter Sunday. With the help of Matt’s wife, Samantha, First Response Heating & Cooling distributed more than 100 Easter Baskets to kids in need throughout the greater Plant City area. In late July, the company got a call to help an elderly Plant City resident, who is currently battling cancer and the widow of a Vietnam veteran. Her A/C shut down and she needed a complete replacement. First Response Heating & Cooling teamed up with Fran Haasch Law Firm and Wretched Few Veterans Motorcycle Club to replace the A/C unit and replace the ductwork needed.

"Giving back to the community has always been a huge goal of ours," said Roberts. "We strive to do things to make people smile. We have a great opportunity to be a huge blessing to so many people and try to be wherever we can. Our staff is a huge part in this, no matter what it is, they are ready to serve the community." First Response Heating & Cooling is proud to be named the Best Air Conditioning Company two years consecutively in the FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards. With an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, it’s no surprise that First Response Heating & Cooling is one of the most trusted names in HVAC repair in Tampa Bay. “Consumers today see right through flashy and gimmicky attempts to entice and fool them,” said Bryan Chapman. “When we do work for a customer, we get to see in real time the appreciation they have for us and our services. We are not a major corporation that treats every customer as a number, every customer we serve is part of our family. We are consistently shown appreciation for services we provide and we show appreciation back for their loyalty and trust.” With perfect 5 star ratings on Facebook, Google, and Yelp, customers rave about the knowledgeable, prompt service, and friendly customer service they received from First Response Heating & Cooling’s team: “First Response is fast, reliable and friendly. Jarrod made sure we understood what was wrong and fixed it quickly.” - Derek & Victoria Griffin

“I couldn't be any more pleased at the workmanship and attention to detail the crew had. The communication from the company was flawless. I knew from the start what time someone would be here and who was coming. I had to leave for a little bit today and had no problem leaving these guys in my home alone.. y'all have earned a customer for life thanks for the fast response and perfect install.” - Derrick Dubose “We had the new A/C unit installed today and I have to tell you how impressed I was by First Response Heating & Cooling LLC. From the time Matt came out over the weekend to give us a quote, until Bryan and the install crew pulled out this evening, the service was top-notch...From start to finish, it was a pleasure doing business with them. If you find yourself in need of a new AC (I pray you don't!) or just need your current unit serviced, give them a call!” -Tamara Wood First Response Heating & Cooling knows that A/C repair can often be unexpected and costly. The company offers financing options including 0% down to low monthly payments with approved credit. First responders and military veterans receive 10% off, as a thank you for their strength, service, and sacrifice to keep our communities safe. If homeowners and businesses are looking for a professional, knowledgeable and fair HVAC company with hometown values, look no further than First Response Heating & Cooling. From service repair to sponsoring the local little league team, First Response Heating & Cooling is the company to call.

Owners Matt Roberts & Bryan Chapman

712 E Alsobrook St Unit 6 | Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-756-3899 | Open 24-hours | License #CAC1819392 PAGE



GOULD’S A/C & HEATING With over 30 years in the industry, Gould’s Air Conditioning & Heating has unbeatable experience in keeping customers cool in the Florida heat. Quality, efficient service and honesty are the pillars of the business philosophy at Gould’s Air Conditioning & Heating. Tony Gould, owner, is a Plant City native and entered the industry after high school, working full time for another company. After working up the company ladder for 17 years, he took the leap into entrepreneurship and began Gould’s Air Conditioning and Heating in the late 1990s. He chose to raise his family in Plant City, so there was no question that his company would be based in Plant City, as well. Many companies in the air conditioning business attempt to “up-sell” the customer on air conditioning units and parts. With labor costs added, homeowners or businesses could be looking at another mortgage or possibly having to go without the necessary repair. Tony Gould believes that what sets him apart from other companies is the honesty in the service they provide. “We always look forward to doing great work at a great price,” said Gould. Gould’s Air Conditioning and Heating is committed to delivering top notch, on-time service to homes across Plant City and surrounding areas. Whether it’s repairing an existing unit or installing a new high-efficiency A/C system, the team at Gould’s Air Conditioning and Heating does it all. In addition to A/C repair and installation, Gould’s Air Conditioning and Heating offer routine maintenance, cleaning services and inspections. Whether it's installing a new unit from scratch, repairing damage on an existing unit, Gould’s fully licensed and insured technicians will get the job done. In addition to working on residential properties, the company also services both commercial and industrial properties. Tony Gould says the company is offering indoor air quality services to address the concerns of customers with respiratory conditions. Gould’s offers two options for customers: Air Scrubbers & Purifiers: Reduce exposure to bacteria and viruses, protecting against allergy and asthma triggering contaminants. UV Lighting: Kills pathogens and microorganisms on the systems cooling coils, drain pipes, and interior ductwork. PAGE


Tony Gould, Owner When customers call Gould’s, they speak to one of the friendly office staff members, who schedules their repair for service and dispatches a team out to the job site.

“We are sanitizing ductwork and can install air purification systems,” said Gould. “Not only are we growing with the industry, but we are adopting new products and services to help our customers.” In the fight against COVID-19, Gould’s technicians are wearing masks, shoe booties, and gloves when entering a customer’s home to service the air conditioning system. Gould’s technicians have extensive knowledge and experience with all makes and models including American Standard, Rudd, and Trane. Another accolade for Gould’s Air Conditioning and Heating is the complete customer satisfaction from beginning to the end of service. Take it from customers who trust Gould’s with their heating and cooling systems: Kayla Smythe, a satisfied customer, said, “Absolutely GREAT customer service and professionalism! From Kristen at the front desk to James who did our quote and the crew that came to replace the unit, everyone was so kind and friendly. They were honest and helpful with all of our questions and concerns! Would HIGHLY recommend!” Another happy customer, Tony Mendolia, stated, “Tony Gould is one of the most honest and experienced A/C companies I have ever dealt with. I won't use anyone else.”

Shelley Camp, who has called Gould’s A/C several times in the past, continues to be impressed by Gould's A/C team. “I’ve had Tony and his team do several jobs for me in the past years,” said Camp. “I’ve always received first class service whether it was a staff member or even Tony himself. Gould’s AC has always been very prompt, dependable and delivered quality service! I highly recommend any AC needs to be directed to Gould’s AC!” Along with honesty and consistency, customers repeatedly agree that Gould’s is one of the fastest and most efficient air conditioning companies around. “It matters to us that we are trusted in our community,” said Tony Gould. In addition to providing service above and beyond what is expected, Gould’s is also wonderful at providing information and education. Although many questions can be answered with a visit to their website gouldsac. com, the staff doesn’t mind phone calls to the office. When you are looking to give your A/C a little TLC, look to Gould’s for quality care at a fair price.

901 E Baker St | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-1970 | Mon-Fri 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM | Nights & Weekend Services Available PAGE



OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE A great steak is juicy, tender, and loaded with flavor. Those great steaks can be found at Outback Steakhouse’s Plant City location. A favorite location for family holidays, date nights for couples or a girl’s night out, the Australian-themed restaurant has served up delicious steaks since 2001. Outback Plant City is operated by Managing Partner Ryan Danielik, who began working for the brand 20 years ago as a busboy. Through a number of positions and working in Outback locations throughout Tampa Bay, Danielik was promoted to Managing Partner of the Plant City location in May 2018. For Danielik, the success of his restaurant is a team effort. “The thought of success in my team is that people want to be a part of something they can be proud of, is fun, and that includes and values them,” said Danielik. “Each employee is immediately welcome as an Outbacker and I keep the Outback environment diverse, inclusive, fun, and respectful. I am absolutely blessed with a community that supports my Outbackers and I. That we can give the community a favorite place for them to eat, drink, relax, and be with friends.” With a team so devoted to a customer-centric dining experience, it’s no surprise that Outback Plant City is among the top 20 locations in the United States. The restaurant is also #1 in takeout sales in the state of Florida.


Voted Best Steak in the FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards, Outback Plant City serves USDA Choice steaks including filet mignon, porterhouse, ribeyes, and more. Steaks range in price from $12.99 to $28.99 and come with two sides. New to the menu, Outback now offers a Steak ‘N Mate Combos, starting at $17.99. Choose from Sirloin and Shrimp, Ribeye and Shrimp, Sirloin and Aussie Twisted Ribs, Filet Mignon and Lobster, or Sirloin & Grilled Chicken. While Outback is renowned for its great steaks, don’t dismiss Outback’s selection of burgers, including The Bloomin’ Burger, topped with Bloomin Onion petals, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and signature Bloom Sauce for $12.99 PAGE


Managing Partner Ryan Danielik

Guests may also enjoy the new Prime Rib Sandwich for $13.99. Thick slices of tender prime with grilled onions, mushrooms, and Provolone cheese, and signature Bloom sauce on a toasted French roll. Served with a side of French onion of au jus. Is seafood your thing? Outback’s got you covered. Toowoomba Salmon is grilled salmon, topped with seasoned and sauteed shrimp, mushrooms in a creamy creole sauce and served with two sides for $21.99 And what’s a great meal without delicious drinks? Outback offers $6 cocktails during lunch hours, as well as seasonal margaritas, sangria, and a full selection of draft beers, including Bloomin’ Blonde Ale, brewed exclusively for Outback Steakhouse.


Outback Plant City is doing its part to fight the spread of COVID-19. The dining room is seating at 50% capacity with partitions between tables, with diners seated six feet apart. The staff is not only wearing masks, but the Outback team has stepped up its sanitation practices by utilizing single-use menus and sanitizing tables and seats after each meal. For those choosing not to dine out just yet, Outback Plant City offers delivery throughout the Greater Plant City area. The delivery area is currently as far north as Crystal Springs/Zephyrhills to as far south as Trapnell Road. The delivery area expands from McIntosh Road in the west to County Line to the east. Outback Plant City has also partnered with food delivery apps, DoorDash and UberEats. Want to forgo the delivery fees? Simply call Outback Plant City at (813) 759-4329 to place a pickup order. The Outback team will box your meal into to-go boxes and bring it out to your vehicle for your convenience.


If you are a frequent customer, why not get rewarded for it? Outback Steakhouse offers Dine Rewards. Visit to sign up for free and receive 50% off every 4th visit, up to $20 off. “It’s a great way to save at any of Bloomin’ Brands’ four restaurants: Outback, Carrabba’s, Fleming’s and Bonefish Grill,” said Danielik. With each visit, you simply write the phone number associated with your account on the check and your server takes care of the rest. During your next visit to Outback, ask your server how to receive Dine Rewards.


Outback Plant City has an incredible reputation- take it from Plant City residents who rave about the chain that offers hometown service. “The atmosphere at Plant City Outback is unmatched,” said Holly and Buddy Gillman. “It has a ‘small town family owned’ vibe while boasting their traditional menu and values. We enjoy seeing our favorite bartender, Summer, and knowing that not only will we be provided with excellent, attentive service, but we can count on delicious food every time. We have never had a bad experience!” Sheryl Vitalli shared: “From catering our grand opening to welcoming our Grace Manor at Hunters Creek residents on our monthly outings, Ryan is always so accommodating. To have a business owner who gives so much and asks for nothing in return is very heartwarming… Companies always strive to ensure they are placing the right people in the right place at the right time and Outback has certainly hit it out of the park when they chose Ryan for the Plant City location!” Alice and Kim Bullard agreed: “The restaurant is always clean, the staff is always pleasant, and the service is excellent… Outback is very community oriented. They support community and local organizations on a regular basis. They are the very best!”

1203 Townsgate Ct | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 759-4329 Hours: Monday- Thursday 11AM to 10PM | Friday & Saturday 11AM to 11PM | Sunday 11AM to 9PM PAGE



POPPELL INSURANCE The Poppell family has helped residents of Plant City find coverage that is right for them since 1964, 56 years, when it was founded by R. Tom Poppell. Today, the firm is owned and operated by Tom’s sons, Jon & Mark Poppell, who share management duties as vice presidents of personal and commercial lines, respectively. They are proud to continue his legacy of hard work, integrity, and generosity. “Our father said ‘take care of the customer and everything else will take care of itself,’” said Jon Poppell. As an independent agency, Poppell Insurance offers insurance from a number of carriers including Auto-Owners, Tower Hill, FCCI, CNA, and Aetna, among many others, to find the right coverage for the client's needs and insurance budget. From Business Insurance to Auto and Homeowners Insurance, Poppell Insurance can offer coverage for just about anything. “This gives our office the ability to check with more than one market and help find the right policy to fit a customer’s needs,” said Jon. “Not all homeowners or auto insurance coverage is the same.” PAGE


Jon & Mark Poppell


This year, there is not a single business not impacted by COVID-19, which ultimately impacts the needs of Poppell’s clients and the way insurance carriers are working. Often selling insurance comes with offering advice and counseling unique to each customer’s needs. “COVID-19 has changed how people do business on the retail level, which then impacts how we do business,” said Mark Poppell. “While businesses were closed, our office was open, helping serve our customers during the pandemic.” One aspect of Poppell Insurance is the continuing education of varying insurance needs and risk management options, including Cyber Liability, intended to protect businesses with financial losses resulting from a cyber breach. Mark is also a Certified Insurance Counselor and a Certified Risk Manager. These designations mean he is knowledgeable about the latest updates in the insurance industry and with the risk management designation, can help customers figure out how to avoid a claim to begin with. “With risk management, our whole goal is to minimize cost and minimize claims,” said Mark Poppell. Poppell Insurance employs five commercial lines agents and six personal line agents. According to Jon Poppell, most of the staff has worked for Poppell Insurance for ten-plus years, including Connie Bonds, a personal lines agent, who has worked for the insurance agency for 30 years. Commercial lines agent Ron Gainey has worked for Poppell Insurance since 1979. Receptionist Evon McDonald and Personal Lines representatives Leann Collins, Cynthia Kelly and Rachel Walls are celebrating 20 years with the company and personal lines agent, Judie Chapman, has worked in the insurance industry almost her entire life. Judie was hired by Moody & Moody Insurance at age 16. Moody & Moody was established in 1959 in Plant City. In 1996, Poppell Insurance purchased Moody & Moody’s business and acquired the employees as well. Chapman, like the entire Poppell Insurance staff, is dedicated to helping clients navigate the overwhelming world of insurance. This hometown and family-owned/operated agency wants to earn your business and keep it for a lifetime. For more information, stop in, visit, or call 813-752-4155.

Founder R. Tom Poppell

503 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-4155 | Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM PAGE



THE RIDDLE FAMILY INSURANCE Is Medicare a riddle for you? Sixty percent of seniors find Medicare confusing but at The Riddle Family Insurance office at 706 Dr. MLK Jr. Boulevard, Steven Riddle and his team are in the business of helping seniors find the right plan for their needs.

“We have a passion to help people,” said Denisse Diaz Riddle. “We get to know our clients and their needs, and we are locals- we aren’t going anywhere. We are here for them.”

Riddle’s insurance career began in 2008, but in 2013, Medicare became his primary focus, as he helped clients at WellMed in Plant City, Watson Clinic in Lakeland, and Bond Clinic in Winter Haven. Through this work, Riddle helped clients understand the various Medicare plans to see the doctors they wanted, save money, and additional benefits they need.

The Riddles charge no fee for their services and know that often seniors 65+ are overpaying for their coverage. While calling a 1-800 number may be an easy option, calling The Riddle Family Insurance's licensed agents is a smarter choice, as clients are able to have a personalized experience with a Plant City neighbor working in their best interest.

“I was known in the clinic as ‘the Medicare Guy,’” said Riddle.

Guy Justen, a client of The Riddle Family Insurance, says he has worked with Steven Riddle for a number of years and highly recommends the team to anyone looking for insurance coverage.

Steven, his wife Denisse, and licensed agent, Jahneli Gonzalez Diaz, The Riddle Family Insurance team helps clients easily navigate Family Health Insurance, Medicare, and Life Insurance to find coverage that fits their needs and budget. Each member of The Riddle Family Insurance team is bilingual, to assist with Spanish-speaking seniors inquiring about coverage. Currently, The Riddle Family Insurance team has helped over 1,000 people in Plant City and over 4,000 people throughout Hillsborough and Polk counties. PAGE


“Steven is my Insurance Agent for my Healthcare needs and has been for a number of years,” said Justen. “He fitted me with a great health insurance plan and has provided me with excellent service. My plan covers all my needs and gives me peace of mind. I would highly recommend The Riddle Family Insurance.”

Medicare was designed so recipients would receive a basic level of care-and they do- but that basic care also contains coverage gaps.. To best figure out how to fill those gaps, it's best to have an understanding of the Medicare coverage options. Medicare is made of five main coverage options: Original Medicare, which comprises Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Outpatient coverage). Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C. Medicare Part D, which is Prescription Drug Coverage. Medigap, which is Medicare supplement insurance. In addition to building a relationship with Medicare recipients, The Riddle Family Insurance also wants to continue building relationships with physicians. "We want to build relationships with the doctors and medical offices in our city so we can better understand their practices and then help our clients find doctors that are suitable for their needs," said Denisse Riddle. Take it from local doctors who have worked directly with Steven Riddle and his team, noting professionalism, honesty, and knowhow of Medicare and other insurance plans.

Dr. John Souther: “Steven has the heart of a teacher that has helped my patients and many others navigate the confusion of Medicare. He is honest and truly cares for each person by providing advice tailored to their specific health and insurance needs. Steven is the only person I will recommend to my patients and friends because I know they will get trusted advice and have an exceptional experience.” Dr. Robert Baskin: “Steven has worked to offer my patients’ health insurance at rates that have saved them literally thousands of dollars a year. His knowledge of the available insurance options is the key to his success.” The Medicare open enrollment period begins October 15 to December 7, 2020, for coverage effective 2021. The Riddle Family Insurance accepts walk-ins at their office Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or phone appointments are available at 813-763-7565. Video messaging appointments are available for those with access to a computer or smartphone or one of the licensed agents can make a home visit. Call together to schedule an appointment or stop by the office at 706 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in downtown Plant City.

706 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd | Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-763-7565 | Mon-Fri 9AM to 6PM | Se habla español PAGE



TENNESSEE JANE BOUTIQUE A small-town boutique is doing big business and recently celebrated its one year anniversary at its Plant City location. Tennessee Jane Boutique is nestled in downtown in an ornate, historic building at the corner of Collins and Reynolds Street. Inside, customers find new trendy clothing. Tennessee Jane Boutique sells women's clothing and accessories, often featuring distressed denim, graphic tees, leopard print and bright colors. Tennessee Jane offers a full range of sizes, from extra small to Confidence & Curves- TJ’s Plus Size collection. “Thank you so much to Plant City for supporting Tennessee Jane, it’s been an amazing first year and we look forward to many more to come,” said Tennessee Jane Boutique owner Hanna Sampson. “We all at Tennessee Jane are so thankful for our customers loyalty and support.” She founded the boutique back in 2016, initially as an online business. The company quickly took off and in August 2019, Sampson brought her vision for casual, fashionable and affordable boutique clothing to historic downtown. The company continued to take off with online orders coming in from across the U.S. In March 2020, Tennessee Jane Boutique began leasing a 3,000 sq. ft. warehouse and office space in South Lakeland. “While everyone was quarantined we were moving into the warehouse,” said Sampson. “We had enormous growth in online sales while our store was shut down and we even hired new employees to keep up with demand.” The South Lakeland location includes an office for the Customer Service Team to answer emails and messages via social media. The In Take team sorts through all incoming packages and pulls a sample of each item for the Inventory team, who then enters the items into the system. “The Plant City store and the warehouse have separate inventories, so we have an accurate count of how many of this item we have on the rack in store and how many are available for us to ship for online orders,” said Sampson. Once items are entered, barcodes are printed and each item is tagged. The sample item is put on Sampson’s rack, where she will then introduce it to customers via her daily social media posts or Facebook Live videos.



Tennessee Jane Boutique owner Hanna Sampson

Not only can customers shop in store, but customers have the ease of using the Tennessee Jane Boutique app. Available in the App Store and Google Play, customers can shop the full collection and their order often ships the same day. Customers also receive app notifications for new releases, being among the first to shop the new collections. For more exclusive offers, Tennessee Jane customers are encouraged to join Tennessee Jane Insiders Club on Facebook. Members get a unique opportunity to ask Sampson and the TJ Girls about item details, Restock Alerts, and shop via Facebook Live videos. Tennessee Jane Insiders Club has nearly 20,000 members. As the holiday season quickly approaches, Tennessee Jane Boutique is a great place to shop small, shop local for your gift needs. The shop offers tumblers, mugs, clutches, and beverage sleeves. But Tennessee Jane isn’t just for the ladies. Recently, the boutique announced it will now offer men’s hats, including brands Old South, Florida Heritage, and Swamp Stalker. Transitioning into autumn, Tennessee Jane Boutique is releasing their Fall 2020 Collection on August 25. The collection consists of neutral colors such as terracotta, beige, and olive green. “We are excited to release our Fall 2020 collection in a few weeks,” said Sampson. “They’re all made of lightweight materials. I think our customers will love what we have curated this season.”

When a customer places an order, the TJ staff selects the item and hand packages it for delivery.

120 N. Collins Street | Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-652-8230 | Tue-Fri: 10am - 5:30pm | Sat: 10am - 3pm PAGE



THIELEN ENVIRONMENTAL The white board in Caleb Thielen’s office at Thielen Environmental has his team’s appointments for the day listed for tree removal jobs. As hurricane season approaches, that list keeps growing. But Thielen, 27, knows he and his team are up for the challenge.

they removed more than 14,000 hazardous trees. Born and raised in Eagle Lake, Thielen always had a desire to return home to Polk County. “This is where we’re from,” he said. “We wanted to be the local, hometown tree service.”

“That’s our bread and butter, hurricanes,” said Thielen. The Eagle Lake-based environmental company offers services including erosion control, debris hauling, tree trimming, residential tree care, and tree removal. Thielen Environmental was born out of a desire to serve clients during Florida’s most tumultuous season of the year. Thielen and his brother, David, opened their doors in 2017 as Hurricane Irma was forming. “We bought two bucket trucks and went into business, just the two of us,” Thielen said. At the time, the brothers had spent two years working for their uncle’s tree service, Arbor Tech Environmental in Shaver Lake, California, where PAGE


It didn’t take long for the company to make a name for itself. In their first week of business, the Thielen brothers picked up a contract with the Miami-based Florida Power and Lights. Since then, their team has grown from two to eight. Thielen bought out David six months ago, and has hopes of doing more utility trimming with power companies as his business continues to grow. As his team has grown, Thielen has focused on continuing to offer top-notch customer service to his clients. All of his employees are professional arborists who receive safety training in-house. For the company, a typical day includes sending out a one crew to mow grass, a second crew to trim trees and a third crew to work on erosion control at site development locations.

With a growing company, Thielen continues to plant his roots by expanding the services the company offers. “We do a lot of tree work for construction companies and paving companies,” he said. “We work with all of the major paving companies around Central Florida. We also do land clearing for site developers and commercial lawn maintenance. As far as our residential services go, the phone rings every day and we’re continuing to pick up new clients.” And of course, there’s hurricane preparedness. Besides helping homeowners and commercial clients before and after a hurricane hits, the company also partners with FEMA to do additional debris hauling and tree removal following major storms. “It’s a good thing to do for the community,” said Thielen. “It helps people get back up and running.” In just two years, the company has developed a number of satisfied customers. Brooke Bailey, a ThIelen Environmental customer, left the company a five-star rating: “Very respectful, efficient and knowledgeable. This is the company to call if you want it done right the first time.” Dylan Cappello, another satisfied customer, also left a five-star rating: “Would highly recommend [Thielen] for any tree removal or trimming.” Thielen Environmental is licensed, insured and offers workers’ compensation for all employees. Current Thielen Environmental clients include The Avenue Apartments and the Village at Lake Highland apartments, both located in Lakeland, real estate agency The Ruthvens, The Polk County School Board, ToHo Water Authority, and numerous additional residential and commercial properties. Thielen Environmental is part of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association. “We have all the equipment we need to be successful and we’re competitively priced,” said Thielen. Thielen hopes to double in size within the next year. Hoping to keep the business in the family, he already has one future employee in mind -- his 2-year-old daughter, Alaina. “I plan on having her out in the field with me in a couple of years, riding around,” said Thielen. For all tree removal, lawn care and maintenance needs from the professionals who have worked coast to coast, contact the homegrown team at Thielen Environmental for a free estimate.

(863) 651-8316 | PAGE



TURFBRANDS Marketing is a full-time job within itself and many don’t know where to begin. For Plant City business owners in need of a marketing team, the choice is easy: TURFBrands. Conveniently located at 702 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, TURFBrands is a full service branding, marketing, and printing company. Established in 2011, TURFBrands was founded and in April 2019, the company came under new ownership and secured its position as a leader in marketing lawn and pest control companies, serving over 800 companies nationwide. When law and pest control companies have their sights set on growth, they choose TURFBrands.TURFBrands is the preferred marketing firm for national brands such as Orkin and Rentokil North America, but is also the preferred marketing firm for local companies, such as Plant It Earth, Green Life Environmental, Next Level Turf, and Real Turf Solutions. TURFBrands is made of a team of creators, designers, consultants, and marketing visionaries dedicated to helping clients build a brand and grow their business. From business cards to banners and custom signs to vehicle wraps, TURFBrands is a complete solutions for your marketing needs. All great marketing materials begin with an eye-catching design. At TURFBrands, graphic artists take pen to paper, drawing each character or mascot by hand, before digitally bringing the character to life. From PAGE


TURFBrands specializes in creating custom print products to mark your business, including signs, door hangers, postcards, and more. TURFBrands creates marketing materials for national brands such as Orkin, as well as locally owned businesses Green Life Environmental and Plant It Earth.

animals to robots and people, the possibilities are endless when creating a brand mascot or character. TURFBrands’ team of designers can incorporate your company’s color scheme, imagery or a unique font choice to create a vibrant, eye-catching logo, the centerpiece of any branding package, What good are beautiful designs if they aren’t printed on quality material? TURFBrands uses only the best 14 point cardstock paper, and UV coated to give a protective layer and impeccable shine. TURFBrands designs and prints a catalog of items including: • TURFMarkers: UV Coated, 8.5x11, full color, custom die cut lawn flags to make your company’s presence known in neighborhoods and commercial properties. These signs are paired with the company’s proprietary fiberglassinfused TURFStakes, allowing for easy installation in seconds. • Business Cards: Make a powerful first impression and statement with premium Business Cards. These UV coated business cards are durable, reliable, and with the extra shine, your colors and images look sharp and vibrant, making them pop off the card. • Banners: Make a big statement for your special promotion or event with custom, full color banners, available in a variety of sizes.

• Door Hangers: For pennies, door hangers are an effective, inexpensive way to market your products and services or deliver official notices, such as invoices. • Postcards: Saturate the market with postcards for your brand, campaign or special event with Every Door Direct Mail, hand delivered by the U.S.P.S. along a selected route. • No Carbon Required (NCR) Forms: These carbonless 2-part forms are great for invoicing, statement, service agreements and more. • And more. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating marketing solutions to grow your business. Once the designs are approved, the printed material is ready for pickup in 10 business days or less. TURFBrands’ Digital Division offers a number of marketing solutions that pair perfectly with the print materials, creating a full marketing campaign. TURFBrands’ Digital Division offers: Websites: Need a new site or a rebranding site? TURFBrands creates websites enabled with the search engine optimization to ensure your company can be found online. Video: Video generates 1200% more social media shares than both images and text. Whether you’re promoting a specific product or shooting a series of company videos for your YouTube account, videography tells a story through beautiful imagery. Social Media Campaigns: “I have a Facebook page, now what do I post?” is one of the most common questions TURFBrands’ representatives are asked. Leave the content creation to the professionals, who will identify your target markets, create a social media engagement strategy, and get your products in front of thousands of potential customers via social media platforms.

NCR (No Carbon Required) Forms are an essential part of any business. Use for invoices, statements, contracts, purchase orders, applications, receipts, or when you need multiple copies of vital documents.


TURFBrands also offers vehicle wraps including commercial equipment, cars, trucks, vans, and even boats. Call the TURFBrands team at 888-539-2820 to get started on your vehicle wrap.

While TURFBrands serves customers across the United States, locals rate TURFBrands five stars for customer service, quality products, and quick turnaround. “Wanted to give a big thank you to TURFBrands for creating these AMAZING TURFMarkers for my company! They were a pleasure to work with throughout the entire design process…” Landon Messick, LDM Lawn Care “5 stars!!! They were so helpful! Great prices! Extremely fast in getting my signs made and hand-delivered to my office! Highly! Highly Recommend using TURFBrands!” Catherine Morales, Premium Properties Real Estate Services “As a business owner, things can be hectic, so I turn to TURFBrands for everything my guys need in the field from business cards, lawn analysis forms, and TURFMarkers. “ Troy Crews, Plant It Earth

702 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd | Plant City, FL 33563 | 888-539-2820 | Mon. - Fri. 9AM to 5PM PAGE



Surrounded by roses, carnations, lilies and more, it’s no surprise that Mathias has such a cheerful disposition. He says its attitude and customer service that sets his business apart from other florists. “All shops have the same kind of flowers we do, but it’s our speciality in customer service that makes the difference,” said Mathias. “It’s our attitude and service towards people and I train all of my staff to be the same way.” Creative Flower Designs by Glenn was named Teleflora’s Top 1000 floral businesses for the shop’s outstanding contribution five years consecutively. The florist was also recognized by Unity in the Community for making a contribution to one of the organization’s events. Mathias credits his parents’ tenacity and the support of the community for his four decades of success. “I credit hardwork and my parents ability to work very hard and Plant City’s idea that I could do it,” said Mathias.


Whether you’re looking for a floral arrangement for your event, a corsage and boutonniere for prom or flowers “just because,” look no further than Creative Flower Designs by Glenn. To order your custom arrangement, call Glenn Mathias and his team of floral experts for the finest floral arrangements and gifts in town.

Glenn Mathias has built a 40 year career surrounded by one of nature’s most beautiful creations: flowers. “I have always enjoyed flowers,” said Mathias. In the late 1970s, Mathias created a flower arrangement for a friend, who told him it looked great. Since then, Mathias has dedicated his life to creating beautiful floral gifts. In 1979, he opened Creative Flower Designs by Glenn. Originally located on Wheeler Street for 2 years, Glenn then ran the business out of his home. In 1986, he relocated the business again to its present day location- the corner of Alsobrook and Evers streets. The floral industry has changed dramatically over the past four decades. With the popularity of floral departments within big-box stores, it is harder for the privately owned and operated florists. Mathias says his relationship with the floral wire service, Teleflora, and the support of his hometown community, he is able to continue his craft. “When a customer says ‘I want a mixed bouquet,’ it gives me more creative freedom and makes me and my staff work our imagination and creativity,” said Mathias. Creative Flower Designs by Glenn is staffed by six industry professionals, dedicated to creating works of art through the medium of floral arrangement. Whether discussing floral options to create the arrangement or making the final delivery, the staff of Creative Flower Designs by Glenn is committed to providing customers with the best product possible.

116 W Alsobrook St | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-7449 | Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30AM-5PM | Sat 8AM- 12PM | Sun Closed PAGE





FEARNOW INSURANCE “To our employees, our customers, and our carriers: It is our job to understand your needs and fulfill your expectations.” This is more than a mission statement. This is a promise Fearnow Insurance makes every single day. Ken Fearnow’s family has worked in insurance for three generations: His father offered life & health insurance, Ken and his wife Susan opened Fearnow Insurance agency in 1991, and now their sons Brian & Robbie work in the Commercial Lines department. Fearnow Insurance, located in Seffner, is a multi-line independent insurance agency, offering insurance for Vehicle & Recreational, Home & Property, Business & Commercial, Life & Health, & Special Programs. “We represent almost every insurance company, we have over 100 carriers in our agency. We are able to help our customers find coverage that is the best fit for their needs,” said Fearnow.

by their carrier or had an excessive increase in premium, to call or make an appointment with one of our licensed agents. “We are here as the professionals to give you the information so that you make am informed decision for your family and your budget,” said Fearnow. “Call us! We can place you with the best carrier which best fits your coverage needs and budget.”


Customers trust Fearnow Insurance for their honesty, integrity, and professional advice. Every customer is treated like family, not just another policy. "When I call Fearnow Insurance, it doesn't matter who I get on the phone. They know who I am, they know who my family is, they understand what my needs are. They care about me as the customer. Call now, be better protected, put that hard earned money back in your pocket." – Mark Canterbury


“We have been working with Fearnow Insurance on commercial insurance for our business. Because of the ease and professionalism of doing our commercial business, we decided to place our personal auto insurance with them as well. My agent on this was Joe Boyle who could not possibly be more accommodating. He gave me several options and thoroughly told me the benefits of each one making it easier to make a well-informed decision. I’m really pleased with the service !!” - Sandy Stogner

These are the effects of reinsurance, a reimbursement that protects insurers from large claims, simply put, it’s insurance for insurance companies.

With a deep belief in continuing insurance education courses, including the Certified Insurance Counselor program, Fearnow Insurance agents have all of the “tools in the toolbox” to continue guiding clients to find the coverage that’s right for them.

As the state continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19, Florida homeowners are also seeing a spike in homeowner's insurance premiums- as high as 33 percent. Thousands of homeowners are being dropped by carriers, according to a July 5 article published in the Tampa Bay Times.

Fearnow’s Home & Property Insurance agents encourage those dropped

11607 E Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd | Seffner, FL 33584 | (813) 689-8878 | PAGE


Monday-Friday 8:30AM to 5:30PM



FOCUSBUSINESS SunMed™ Hemp Oil Supplements and Water Soluble CBD Hemp Supplements are made with the highest quality, organically grown hemp. Tinctures come in a number of flavors and taken orally with a sublingual technique, meaning put a few drops under your tongue and hold it for 60 seconds before swallowing. Water Soluble is taken orally, by mixing a few drops with water or your favorite beverage. Taking Your CBD Store’s Tinctures or Water Solubles takes no time at all and can easily become a part of your daily routine. Tim Bosko says he and his staff are passionate about educating people on the benefits of CBD and the benefits reported by customers, in hopes of helping others find a natural product that can improve their overall well being. One customer shared her experience on Facebook: “From the moment I walked in the lady working was very friendly and super knowledgeable. I would suggest anyone in the Plant City area to stop in and at least get a consultation to see if CBD will benefit you! Quality products and knowledgeable staff!” Tim Bosko co-owns Your CBD Store Plant City with his father, Don.


Anyone curious about CBD is welcome to come in for a free personal consultation. “Here at Your CBD Store, we are extremely transparent about our products and I think that transparency is what sets Your CBD Store apart,” said Bosko. “I’m not here to push products on anybody, I am here to help customers find a solution to their specific problems. Are you ready to give CBD oil a shot to see what it can do for your health and well-being? Visit Tim Bosko at Your CBD Store Plant City in the Panera Bread plaza at 2909 James L Redman Pkwy #7 or call (813) 652-8191. This location also offers free local delivery and curbside pickup.

Our immune system does a remarkable job defending us from diseasecausing microorganisms. To boost immunity or to remain well, many turn to Vitamin C, hand washing frequently, and immune supplements in an effort to reduce the chances of getting sick. However, one compound is taking the world by storm because it’s natural and has reported benefits such as relieving stress and supporting one’s health, including boosting the immune system. That compound is CBD. Though it comes from the cannabis plant, using a CBD product will not give you a high feeling, as it does NOT contain enough THC (some CBD products are 0% THC) which is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation. “Our bodies have what’s called endocannabinoid system, known also as an ECS for short, made up of two receptors called CB1 and CB2,” said Your CBD Store Plant City owner Tim Bosko. “Cannabinoids, like CBD, interact with the CB2 receptors, which is associated with the immune system.” Your CBD Store carries its proprietary brand, SunMed™, which undergoes extensive lab testing and is manufactured in the USA. If a customer were to come in asking for a product that could assist in immunity, Bosko says he would turn to SunMed™ Tinctures and Water Soluble lines.

2909 James L Redman Pkwy #7 | Plant City, FL 33566 | (813) 652-8191 | PAGE


Monday- Friday 10 AM to 6 PM | Saturday 11 AM to 6 PM | Closed Wednesday & Sunday





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Bendorf By Taryn Storter Photo courtesy of Billy D Photography

Jeren Bendorf, recent graduate of Plant City High School, is on his way to Southeastern University to play football for the Southeastern Fire. Bendorf grew up in Plant City, attending Walden Lake Elementary, Tomlin Middle, and Plant City High School. Bendorf started playing baseball when he was five years old. He started football his freshman year of high school and immediately fell in love with the sport. Bendorf played both baseball and football until sophomore year, but then made the tough decision to focus on his football career. Bendorf’s involvement with athletics has proven valuable in his life. His accomplishments as a Raider football player include being chosen as a Captain and the Most Valuable Lineman during his senior year. He was also selected as a Second Team All-Conference player. Football is an essential part of Bendorf’s life. He explains, “There is nothing like a pregame rush that makes adrenaline race through your whole body for four quarters.” Bendorf says that football is definitely his favorite sport. In addition to sports, Bendorf also excelled in academics. He graduated with the Class of 2020 as an Honor Graduate and a member of the National Honor Society. As the academic school year ended abruptly, Bendorf says that he misses “the people that I have grown up knowing, that I won’t see all in the same place ever again and the feeling of a Friday game day.” He explains that he will also miss the delicious Fat Cat Cookies from the cafeteria. Bendorf hopes that his teammates will remember that he was someone they could count on and come to with any problem at any time. Bendorf signed with Southeastern University to play football and continue his education. He expresses his desire to succeed as a student, as well as, a player on the field. He aspires to be the best he can be, while in college and in life.



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Team of the Month Top Gun Wrestling By Taryn Storter


op Gun Wrestling has been working hard this season to overcome all that the world has thrown at them. With COVID-19, Top Gun has given its students the opportunity to continue to compete and work off energy, since they have been out of school since March. Throughout this year, Top Gun Wrestling attended various competitions and performed well. They competed at the Alpha Authentics series, Tampa Bay Middle School Championships, and the AAU State Championships. At the Middle School Championships, several students placed top four and two brought home a champion’s honor. At the AAU State Championship, one student earned middle school runner up and one a championship. Coach Will Terry has been coaching wrestling for ten years. He says that the most rewarding part of coaching wrestling is “seeing the growth of the kids. When they first start out, they’re usually nervous because they’re unsure of themselves. As they practice more, the confidence builds.” With COVID-19 concerns, Top Gun is taking all the necessary precautions to ensure its athletes are safe and healthy. They opened



in phases, with the first fourteen days being no contact, the second phase included light drilling with the same partners, and now they are, as Coach Terry puts it, “full speed ahead”. He says, “we just remind our kids to practice smart, wash hands multiple times during events and shower as soon as you can after events.” Since COVID-19 caused schools to close in March, all the students at Top Gun completed the year online. Coach Terry explains, “The great thing about wrestling is it teaches discipline and perseverance, so our kids are always ready for whatever the world throws at them. A lot of life’s trials and tribulations can be learned on the mat. Not everything is always gonna go our way. We have to learn to adapt to any situation. If it’s the 3rd period and we’re down by a few points, do we roll over and give up, or do we continue to attack the situation to give ourselves a chance to be victorious. These principles apply where we are in our lives. Relationships, schoolwork, or wrestling, all the philosophies are the same.” Top Gun is giving their student athletes the great opportunity to stay connected during this unprecedented time, while making sure they are safe and healthy. Keep an eye on this group of kids and their accomplishments, as they are working hard to make the most of this season.

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Meet the

Maker: Lynn Meadows By Heather Davis Photography by Cierra Craft


midst all the upheaval for the past few months, Plant City was gifted with a very special and unique space. SpiritArt Gallery located in the heart of downtown Plant City opened its doors a few short months ago. Filled to the brim with art created by local Plant City artist, Lynn Meadows, SpirtArt Gallery is a feast for the eyes and senses. Local artist, Lynn Meadows always knew she would be an artist and remembers creating art as young as three years old. As her life unfolded she worked towards earning her Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. In 2016 Lynn and her husband moved to Plant City where she has been creating art full-time out of her home studio. Out of necessity, due to running out of space for all her projects, Lynn together with her Gallery partner, Richard Sarmento decided to create a space to showcase her art. As a result SpiritArt Gallery was made into a reality. Although Lynn’s Gallery that showcases a wide array of her art has only been open a few short months, so much life, energy and vitality has been brought forth into this space. Lynn has a unique eye and vision for everything she touches. Her art work graces everything from hand painted canvases, to pieces of furniture, journals, jewelry and clay figures mixed together with found objects which are brought to life in three dimensional sculptures. It is unbelievable to realize all the work in SpirtArt Gallery has been created by the hands of one woman and artist. It looks to be a collaboration of many people even though it is not, and is a testament to the scope of imagination and talent that Lynn possesses. When I asked Lynn what it is that inspires her she responded that inspiration just comes to her as she works. She admits to marching to the beat of her own drum and as a Christian feels that her spirit speaks to her as she is creating. Which is why her Gallery is called SpiritArt. Being able to experience the art of Lynn Meadows at her Gallery was a deeply moving and inspiring experience and it is wonderful to realize we have access to such talent in our town. You can also find Lynn’s work on Esty and Shopify at SpiritArt Studio. Now more than ever is the time to reach out and embrace our local artists and support them anyway we can and what better way then to visit a new local Gallery.





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Strawberry Festival and Ministry Celebrating local “harvests” By Cheryl Johnston


he community of Plant City is known for its annual Florida Strawberry Festival. Since 1930, people from across the country have come for the strawberry shortcake, entertainment, and exhibits. The piece of Americana showcases a time in American history when fairs and festivals brought communities together through celebrations of their harvests. During the festival for the past five years, the ministry of The Gideons International has also celebrated a harvest. But a different type of harvest – the kind referred to in scripture in Matthew 9:37. “Then he (Jesus) said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.’” Throughout the 2020 festival, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, ministry of The Gideons International impacted 14,000 people with the Word of God. Active in 200 different countries, territories



and possessions, The Gideons International is an association of Christian business and professional men and their wives who are dedicated to telling people about Jesus Christ. They associate together for service, sharing personal testimony, and to provide Bibles and New Testaments. And while Gideons are probably best known for placing scriptures in hotel rooms, this effort equates to less than 8% of the organization’s worldwide distribution. The local Plant City association of The Gideons International consists of almost 80 members. To learn more about helping with this ministry, please contact longtime residents Mike and Becky Cross at Mike serves as the Southwest Florida Regional Director for The Gideons International. As for the association's local ministry at the Strawberry Festival, the Gideons have been blessed with a corner lot near the entrance/ exit of the festival, which has allowed greater

opportunities for scripture distributions and witnessing than they would have inside the gates and in the midst of the lively venue. Over the years, the response from festival guests, security, maintenance staff, and vendors has been overwhelmingly positive. Each year has seen an increase in the number of scriptures distributed and the number of Gideon members involved. Members of The Gideons Int’l from outside the Plant City area are driving up to 100 miles to help with the festival ministry, even if it’s for a single three-hour shift. This is a testament to one of the core values of the Gideon Association, “Striving Side by Side for the Faith of the Gospel.” People respond well to the presence of The Gideons International at the Strawberry Festival. God has opened numerous doors for the growth of this ministry. As a result, The Gideons International pray the ministry provides more opportunities for His Kingdom to flourish.

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Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens


ome to Fairyland...a world set apart, alive with childhood enchanted woodland of elves and fables, of nursery rhymes, and fairy tales. Soft shafts of sunlight filtered by moss-draped oaks strike bright colors from flower-bordered walkways. At each turning, a long remembered page of Mother Goose swings open. The Three Pigs sit secure in their snug brick house... Little Bo Peep searches for her sheep...a spider spins his web above a frightened Miss Muffet...Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall...and the Three Men in a Tub sit just beyond a real Wishing Well! There are many, many, more realistically reproduced in a continuing panorama of myth and imagination. Captivating! If you haven't figured it out by now I am reminiscing about one of my most favorite places to visit as a small child back in the early 1960's. I am writing with great affection about Tampa's very own Fairyland at Lowry Park Zoo and Safety Village. Lowry Park was named in 1925 in honor of Dr. Sumpter L. Lowry, a prominent Florida businessman and insurance company executive. He was a long time member of the Florida National Guard and took part in the organization's service on the Mexican border in 1916, followed by service in Europe for the First World War, and in the Pacific for the Second World War. Dr. Lowry was also a city commissioner who persuaded the city to purchase property for a public park on the banks of the Hillsborough River near downtown in 1937 and consisted of a small collection of indigenous animals such as raccoons, alligators, and a variety of exotic birds. As the collection grew, the animals were moved to the more centrally located park at Sligh Ave. & North Blvd. in 1957, by Mayor Nick Nuccio, where it was maintained by Tampa's Park's Department. In 1960, General Lowry gave the Zoo it's most prominent animal, Sheena an 18-month-old Asian Elephant. One day in 1960, a man approached General Lowry and asked him to buy an elephant. Lowry asked "Why should I?" The man said "because the children of Tampa have never seen one." Lowry agreed to buy it, but only on the condition it could be here by Christmas. He asked, "Where is the elephant?" "Well, India." was the reply. Sheena was the first elephant to fly in a jet. When my sister Karen and I came along back in the early 1960's our parents were young, new, and energetic. They loved to take us to fun, safe, and educational places. Tampa's Fairyland at Lowry Park was the perfect place. It was located a short distance from downtown Tampa and was spread over 15 acres of beautifully wooded area on the Hillsborogh River. Admission to the park was free, there was a small charge for some rides in the park and was open seven



days a week from 9am to 9pm. That was just perfect for a young couple with two small children. At that time, there was no Walt Disney World, Sea World, or LegoLand, or even the thought of something like that. My parents along with my grandparents on my mother's side actually took my sister Karen to Lowry Park back in 1960. Karen was just a toddler at that time, but she was one of the first lucky children to see, touch, and ride Sheena the elephant. My mother still has photographs of my grandfather walking beside Sheena, Karen , and the elephant trainer that year. I can remember arriving at Lowry Park with such excitement. The first thing that you would see was the beautiful Rainbow Bridge that adorned the entrance to Fairyland. The bridge itself sparkled a myriad of colors in the sun as you crossed over a pond complete with fountains, fish, and flamingos. Once inside Fairyland a fun time was sure to be had by all. There was a playground complete with slides, swings, and see-saws. There was a real Mississippi stern-wheeler named: The Fairy Queen, that chugged its way up and down the scenic Hillsborough River. There was a 36 hole kiddie putting course. There was an old P2V-2 Navy bomber named: "Fairyland Song Bird" parked on the grounds for airplane enthusiasts. There was a Ferris Wheel for kids and a Ferris Wheel for adults. There were chain link fenced cages that held seals, alligators, bears, goats, and my favorite of them all...the chimpanzees. There was a miniature railroad that wound through the grounds of Fairyland along with its fascinating game reserve and mock African Village complete with thatched houses and tree huts. There were refreshment stands with kid's level service windows. There was a roller coaster and sprint car go karts, and there was storyland, where nursery rhymes were recreated. I can remember strolling past The Little Old Lady that lived in a shoe that was actually 20 feet high. Humpty Dumpty who was perched on the castle wall and all the King's men were standing by as he teetered on the edge. Across the lane was the home of the Little Red Hen and nearby, the Three Men in a Tub...the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker...floating in a sea filled with goldfish. Live Wooly Lambs lived in the front yard of Mary's Little Red Schoolhouse. Peter Rabbit lived in a stump under toadstools four feet high and Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet as a big spider tried to frighten her away. On the drawbridge to the Castle, Goosey Gander stood guard while Rapunzel leaned out, hoping to be rescued. I remember how my sister and I were super excited to walk up to and enter the mouth of Willie the Whale who had a giant tank of tropical fish in his tummy. I can also remember waiting in line to take


a drink of water from the water fountain that was inside a Pelican's open mouth. My mother always dressed my sister and I in matching sun suits, lacy socks, hair ribbons, and cat eyed sunglasses for our trips to Lowry Park because back in those days, if you were going to Lowry Park, Fairyland, and Safety were going somewhere!!! In fact, my father filmed us with his 8mm movie camera several times because it was so much fun for our family and was so cutting edge for the time. I also will never forget going on a field trip with my Kindergarten class to Tampa's Safety Village U.S.A. The kiddie-size town was designed to train pre-school, first, and second grade children in traffic, home, personal, and fire safety habits. It was a complete city with sidewalks, paved streets, working street lights, along with buildings that included a hospital, a school, and a fire station. Safety Village U.S.A. was the City of Tampa's 1965 Christmas present to the children of Tampa, was located right next to Fairyland, and was named: "The World's Largest FREE Safety School for children. As they say: "Time changes things!" Some 45 plus years have passed since my trip to Safety Village U.S.A. and I am sad to say that the beautiful Rainbow Bridge that sparkled a myriad of colors in the sun was torn down back in 1988 by the City Parks Department due to safety concerns. The land that my sister and I strolled through known as Fairyland was demolished, and is now the Florida Environmental Education Center (or Zoo School) which services: children, teachers, and parents with environmental education programs year round. (Now that is a good thing!) Safety Village U.S.A. is also no more. There is now a bronze elephant statue located at the entrance of the Asian domain within the zoo, and is intended to serve as a memorial to Baby Sheena , the elephant that was donated to the zoo back in 1960 by Gen. Sumter L. Lowry as a gift to the children of Tampa. Sheena died in January of 1986 in an African Lion Safari in Canada where she was sent to wait out the zoo renovations. The bronze elephant was installed as a visual remembrance of her in 1987. I give my heartfelt thanks to my parents, to the City of Tampa, to former Mayor Nick Nuccio, and to Gen. Sumter L. Lowry for their love of children and for happy childhood memories of Lowry Park, Fairyland, and Safety Village U.S.A. that will never ever be forgotten.





Gallery of Plant City

Harry Potter Birthday Celebration Wizards & Muggles gathered in downtown Plant City on Friday, July 31 to celebrate the birthday of fictional wizard Harry Potter. Downtown businesses offered exclusive Harry Potter themed products in celebration. The event was founded by Brick City Bricks owner Greg Williams. This year, the event was presented by Plant City Main Street to implement the safety measures due to COVID-19 and spread the word about this downtown event. Photography sponsored by Hungry Howie's Plant City.




a. Central Florida Muscle Medic created a Quidditch-themed display and encouraged visitors to enter a raffle for a free session. Central Florida Muscle Medic is located in the Arcade building. b. K.E.Y. Esthetics, played off its name, by decorating its lobby with flying keys. K.E.Y. also offered discounts & had a book of “beauty enchantments.” c. Tennessee Jane Boutique offered Erimish stacks themed after the four Hogwarts houses: Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw. d. Tub Treats Bath & Body offered an exclusive line of Harry Potter-themed products and created a Wizard theme in their shop to get into the spirit of the birthday celebration. e. Harry Potter’s Birthday Celebration was brought to downtown Plant City by Brick City Brick’s founder Greg Williams. This year, the event was presented by Plant City Main Street, and included not only exclusive shopping opportunities in downtown, but implemented COVID-19 safety measures and created photo ops throughout downtown. f. At the Robert W. Willaford Train Station, visitors had the opportunity to enjoy many photo ops. Natosha and AJ Doerr enjoyed the “Have You Seen This Wizard?” posters. PAGE









Gallery of Plant City

Marshall Magnet School Makeover On Tuesday, August 11, students from Lincoln IB, Crest IB & FFA, and Marshall FFA & GQ clubs came together to plant new flowers, trees, and mulch flower beds at Marshall Magnet. This project was sponsored by Tampa Nursery & Garden, J&R Nursery, and E.L.M. Mayo Trucking hauled away the old trees and plants. Photography sponsored by Hungry Howie's Plant City.


a. Students from Lincoln IB program worked alongside with Strawberry Crest IB and FFA students to improve Marshall Magnet Middle School’s overall appearance. The students will transition into Marshall to continue their IB education. b. Students renovated flower beds on the west and north sides of the school and smaller flower beds near the interior courtyard. c. The beautification project at Marshall Magnet Middle School is to not only elevate the appearance of the now-magnet school, but is also an effort to bring school pride. As students walk to class, they’re feel good about their campus. This project would not be possible without students from Strawberry Crest, Lincoln and Marshall all joining forces, along with donations from local businesses. d. Marshall’s Gentleman’s Quest joined in the hard work, by laying mulch, moving trash and palettes, and laying rocks under gutters to ensure proper water flow into the flower beds. e. Flowers and plants were donated by Tampa Nursery & Garden, owned by Bill and Rhonda Burnette. Students cleaned existed flower beds and planted new flowers in their place. Photo by Kelsey Humphrey. PAGE




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