FOCUS Plant City 19-10

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Contents Table of


2020 HARVEST QUEEN, JR. HARVEST QUEEN CROWNED BY CIERRA CRAFT Despite a modified Fair schedule due to COVID-19, the Hillsborough County Fair has crowned its 2020 royalty. Meet 2020 Senior Harvest Queen Michaela Carmichael and Junior Harvest Queen Taylor Gregory as they discuss the royal year ahead.




2020 FALL FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY BY CIERRA CRAFT 2020 Fall Fashion is all about neutrals, graphic tees layered with cozy sweaters, and powerful prints. This Fall Fashion Look Book is your guide to the latest trends and clothing available for purchase by Plant City boutiques. When shopping for these trends, shop local!



BY CIERRA CRAFT Norma’s has built a reputation for creating one-of-a-kind entrees and innovating dining experiences since the shop opened three years ago. General Manager Leo Mesquita and Chef Andy Nassar discuss the future culinary creations to come.

FOCUS PLANT CITY / Issue 19-10 / October 2020




Mike Floyd


Cierra Craft


Chandler Workman

Crystal Colegrove

BY CIERRA CRAFT Plant City’s newest Senior Living Community, The Canopy at Walden Woods, is projected to open its doors in Summer 2021. This upscale, amenity-rich senior community will include assisted living and a Memory Care Neighborhood. Learn more about Plant City’s latest development.




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.











If you live in one of FOCUS’ home delivery neighborhoods, this month you’ll find a special insert: The Hope Insert, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Enclosed in that special section, you’ll find stories of what Hungry Howie’s Plant City is doing to support the research of this disease, as well as anecdotes of hope and courage, as breast cancer survivors share their personal testimony. 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over her lifetime and a man’s lifetime risk is 1 in 338. While the number of people diagnosed has dropped significantly over the past few decades, that is still one too many diagnosed with this awful disease. We hope this special Breast Cancer insert will be inspiring, informative, and insightful.


On the cover of FOCUS, this month we spotlight Leo Mesquita and Chef Andy

Nassar of Norma’s Cuban Sandwich Shop. The downtown dining spot is celebrating its three-year anniversary this year and continuously pumps out innovative entrees. We also hope you will shop small and shop local for holiday fashion, as we feature outfits from RAOK, Two Blonde Boutique, Sweet Southern Sass, and the area’s newest boutique Suga Glitz Boutique. All of the items in this ‘look book’ are modeled by former Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court members. We thank them for their time in showcasing these looks.

Warmest Regards,

Mike Floyd

2020 WINN ER



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St. Clement Parishioners Pray in Hospital Parking Lot for Healthcare Workers, COVID Patients

From left to right, Carol Byers, Carol Rodriguez, Cindy Card, Lisa Potter, Mary Ann Fontaine, Joey Findlay, Angela Smith, Nancy Smik

Keel Farms Named Tampa Bay Chamber Small Business of the Year Finalist Small businesses have endured tremendous sacrifices and challenges in the face of COVID-19. Keel Farms is no exception- quickly adapting to carry out service and canceling one of its biggest events of the year: Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival. Now, the farm is a finalist for the Tampa Bay Chamber's Small Business of the Year award. "We were nominated by a Tampa Bay Chamber member back in January," said Keel Farms president Clay Keel. "Since then we had to complete a 10-page application that detailed our business philosophy, history, objectives, mission, adversity etc. That got us to the semifinals that included 5 small businesses between 20 and 50 employees." Typically, the judges would then be taken on a tour of the property, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, Keel Farms showcased the venue and fully-functioning farm via a Zoom meeting. Now, the Plant City-based farm is nominated among Bay Food Brokerage and MidFlorida Armored & ATM Service for best businesses with between 21 and 50 employees. "It is truly an honor to be recognized as one of the best small businesses in Tampa Bay and we will continue to highlight Plant City as a fun destination to escape the hustle and bustle of the crowded city," said Keel. On Thursday, November 12, the Tampa Bay Chamber will present the honors to the award recipients at Armature Works in Tampa. "My team has put so much effort into improving our company over the last couple years and especially since the challenges began for everyone with COVID-19," said Keel.



Since the beginning of COVID-19, a group of parishioners at St. Clement Church in Plant City have assembled in a South Florida Baptist Hospital parking lot to pray for health care workers, first responders and essential personnel. These faithful prayer warriors have met in the parking lot and prayed the rosary for 30 minutes each Wednesday since April 1. They have not missed a Wednesday for the last six months. “We believe very strongly in the power of prayer and especially the rosary which we pray every week,” said Joey Findlay, the group’s organizer. “The point is to pray for the health care workers, essential workers and our first responders, and of course, all the people suffering from this virus. We’ve remained steadfast in that because we know that God will intercede. He’s here with us and has a greater plan. If He can stick it out, then so can we.” “We really appreciate what these people are selflessly doing each week to take time out for us here at SFBH,” said James Kelley III, a South Florida Baptist Hospital security officer.

Operation Paying It Forward Seeking Nominations for 'Paint It Forward' Program Operation Paying It Forward is teaming up with Hometown Painters for the organization’s first annual Paint It Forward project. The organization is looking to provide a fresh coat of paint to the home of a deserving citizen in our community and is requesting nominations for recipients. The paint for this project is being provided by Behr Paint Company. Recipients must be someone elderly or disabled and unable to financially afford the cost of the project. “With this year being as hard as it was for everyone, we definitely need to show that we care for someone in need this year,” said Michelle Valdes, Operation Paying It Forward President. To nominate an individual in our community, email opayingitforward@ or mail a letter to P.O. Box 5365, Plant City, Florida 33563. All nominations must be in by November 15. If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Valdes at 813.764.6488.




New Mixed-Use Development Announced in Downtown Plant City Wheeler Street Station, a mixed-use development on an empty 0.6-acre lot south of Plant City’s historic downtown, was approved recently by the City Commission. The project collaborators are Solution Source (developer and general contractor), Marlon Lynn Architect, PA, and Boggs Engineering. “Our goal is to blend Plant City’s historic architectural style and railroad heritage while incorporating modern amenities and design techniques,” said Solution Source’s COO Michael Jemison. “The Marlon Lynn Architect, PA, firm is an expert at integrating function, beauty, and cohesiveness in multi-family residential buildings in historic places.” Mayor Rick Lott considers downtown the heart of the city and residents its lifeblood. He said this project “will invigorate the historic district and downtown by bringing new commercial offices, retail shops, restaurants, apartments and, especially, residents to support economic development. It will encourage convergence between downtown and the Midtown revitalization plan’s development of 85 acres south of downtown with homes, businesses, and entertainment.” “We are excited about Wheeler Street Station,” said City Manager Bill McDaniel, who is overseeing negotiations. “Right now, the city-owned property is a blight—a chain-link fence around a concrete lot, unsightly and uninviting. This unique project will transform it into something beautiful and useful, bringing more life to downtown.” The Wheeler Street Station’s first floor will house businesses; the second and third floors will house The Lofts at Wheeler Street Station—apartments with high ceilings, upscale appointments, and modern amenities such as smart technology controls for security, high-SEER air-conditioning units, energy-saving appliances, low-E insulated windows and, possibly, electric car– charging stations. Businesses already have indicated intent to potentially lease: Bank of Tampa, Plant City Economic Development Corporation, a day spa/salon, and a neighborhood grocery and market featuring locally sourced seafood, meats and produce. Space for restaurants with wide sidewalks for café-style dining will be available. The partners hope to break ground in six to eight months, subject to final negotiations with the city, with the goal of completing the project within 24 months. “We’re working with the city to make this successful for all parties,” Jemison said. “It’ll enhance downtown, increasing its draw as a destination for Plant City residents and visitors. Wheeler Street Station will be a new, old building that looks like it has always been there, but with modern amenities. I think it will become a flagship building in the heart of our beautiful downtown and a big win for Plant City.”

Coffee with a Cop Day Converges on Plant City

Plant City celebrated the Fifth Annual National Coffee with a Cop Day Wednesday, October 7 at Stingray Chevrolet. Law enforcement representatives from Plant City Police Department (PCPD), Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) assembled at the Frontage Road dealership to share a morning with the community. From bomb disposal robots and water rescue equipment to tactical vehicles and even a K-9 unit, Stingray Chevrolet found its dealership alive with education, demonstrations, and one-on-one conversations between local law enforcement agencies and the citizens they serve. “All the local and state partners that we interact with are here today. This is an opportunity for the community to come together and interact with their public servants,” stated Ed Duncan, Plant City Chief of Police. "We love our community. We love serving our community. And sometimes we get so busy, we do not have time to stop and just engage in the community. Today a variety of people will be coming together. That is what makes Plant City what Plant City is. Plant City is a community. And we may all have different functions in our duties in the city, but we all have one common denominator, and that is the love of Plant City.” As community residents and leaders perused the event, walking by dozens of police motorcycles and deputies, one could not help noticing two small stuffed animals on a FHP dashboard stationed by Stingray Chevrolet’s main entrance. When asked, FHP Corporal Heather Barnhart replied, “The stuffed animals are for the children – to help them during tragic moments.” She then explained, “I currently do traffic homicide. This is where you are writing the ending chapter of someone’s life. You are bringing that family closure – answering questions they wouldn’t be able to get answered otherwise.” As difficult as her job sounded, she reassured her guests stating, “It doesn’t matter what uniform we wear; we all feel and deal with things the same.” According to the Coffee with a Cop Program, National Coffee with a Cop day is a day dedicated to encourage communication and positive interactions between law enforcement agencies and the public. The motto is “Building relationships. One cup at a time.” “It is one thing to see these men and women in uniform, serving the community,” said a local resident. “It is another thing to have a conversation with them over a cup of coffee – chatting about life, sharing experiences, and expressing concerns.” PAGE





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 meeting is scheduled for October 19th and November 16th. 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. Second Friday & last Sunday Food Truck days have been a great success and the residents that have purchased food, seem to be enjoying not having to cook and having something we can pick up in the neighborhood! If you have a favorite food truck that you want to recommend, please email Watch for more information from emails from the HOA, the entrance boards and on Nextdoor. During the month of September, there were 16 sales in Walden Lake and no sales in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $294,388 an average of 23 days on the market.

Faith Christian Academy Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month For most schools, Hispanic Heritage Month consists of trips to the museum or students listening to lectures in a group assembly. But in light of COVID-19, Faith Christian Academy celebrated the month in a brand new way: A trip around the world. Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 to October 15 celebrating the achievements, culture, and history of Hispanic Americans whose roots trace back to Spain, Mexico, and Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. By grade level, students were tasked with doing research on Spanishspeaking countries and create an interactive presentation. For some, that meant creating a popular dish in their assigned country. For the Kindergarteners, that meant creating maracas with empty water bottles and dry beans, as well as making sombreros out of paper goods. “We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, African American History Month, and we will now probably also include an Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration as well,” said Nicole Williams, Principal of Faith Christian Academy. “...We roll it into our history curriculum and make it a part of their learning.” As part of their assignment, the students were asked to identify notable figures, government leaders, popular foods, traditions and customs, and the country’s history. The students then created poster boards with the information they found in both English and Spanish. “We are proud to have a diverse group of students and they’re able to learn more about the places their classmates are from,” said Keila Vega, Elective Teacher. Vega is from Puerto Rico and says the students have been excited about sharing their research projects with their peers, parents, and the rest of the school. Faith Christian Academy is currently constructing a new campus near the Florida Strawberry Festival fairgrounds. The faith-based school is looking for corporate sponsors and donors to support the school’s new campus. To learn more about the project and sponsorship opportunities, please call Faith Christian Academy at (813) 473-2090. PAGE


The September sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 1465 Walden Oaks Place / $175,000 / 1304 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 101 Seville Court South / $183,000 / 1401 Sq’ / Community / 2 Car 2219 Preservation Drive / $204,900 / 1576 Sq’ / Community / 2 Car 4207 Thackery Way / $222,000 / 1242 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2508 S Golfview Drive / $223,000 / 1744 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2886 Hammock Drive / $285,000 / 2661 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 3009 Concord Way / $290,000 / 2414 Sq’ / No / 3 Car 3433 Silver Meadow Way / $311,000 / 2559 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3218 Alcott Way / $325,000 / 2666 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3522 Kilmer Drive / $329,900 / 2169 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 3003 Forest Club Drive / $339,900 / 2604 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car 2822 Hampton Place Court / $358,000 / 2922 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car 2921 Clubhouse Drive / $359,000 / 3561 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2844 Hammock Drive / $364,000 / 2406 Sq’ / Yes / 2 Car 2909 Clubhouse Drive / $370,000 / 2543 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car 3015 Forest Hammock Drive / $372,500 / 2842 Sq’ / Yes / 3 Car There are currently 9 active listings for sale in Walden Lake and 2 listings in Walden Lake East with an average list price of $392,064 and an average of 64 days on the market. One of the active listings is in Polo Place and when you eliminate that property, the average price is $341,270 and 19 days on the market. There are 20 properties Pending Contract in Walden Lake and 2 Pending Contract in Walden Lake East. The average list price of $299,336 and average of 12 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. In the first 9 months of 2020, there were 139 combined sales in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East with an average sales price of $276,284 and an average of 31 days on the market. 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, 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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Legion of Honor Awards Don Walden – 45 years of service Ken Hawthorne – 38 years of service James McDaniel – 32 years of service

Kiwanis Club of Plant City Installs New Officers Written By Angela Ardrey-Reynolds


he Kiwanis Club of Plant City celebrated its 99th Installation and Awards Dinner September 30, at the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center. Sharon Moody, Kiwanis International Vice-Governor and local member, conducted the installation of new officers. 2020-2021 New Officers: President – Jimmy Conrow President-Elect – Marilyn Williams Treasurer – Heather Coats Secretary – Keri Kozicki

Gil Gott, 2019-2020 Club President, directed the Award Ceremony. 2019-2020 Award Recipients: Kiwanian of the Year Award Sharon Moody

Distinguished Service Awards Earl Burkett Ken Hawthorne Rich Glorioso Heather Coats Don Walden James McDaniel Ken and Debbie Gibbs Family

Perfect Attendance Awards Gil Gott James McDaniel Sharon Moody Joe Borrell Sponsorship Awards Steve Hurley, Stingray Chevrolet Sharon Moody, President, Unity in the Community

The Kiwanis Club of Plant City limited this year’s event attendance to 50% its normal occupancy. Safety guidelines and measures were taken in response to COVID-19. “One of the first things we need to do is to ensure that all the things that Kiwanis has been doing, we continue to do. We will work out the logistics of the others, such as restructuring meeting times and location,” replied Jimmy Conrow, when asked about his new leadership role as club president, especially with the effects of the pandemic. Kiwanis Club of Plant City will be celebrating 100 years in 2021. According to Gil Gott, the club continues to operate many youth-oriented programs including Stuff the Bus, Christmas for an Angel, Terrific Kids, among others Also, the club organizes one of the city’s most prominent award luncheons, “Outstanding Citizen of the Year.” Our community is grateful for the Kiwanians’ strong leadership and dedication to the families of Plant City. Text Save777 to 29071 for 10% off! @twoblondesbtq PAGE













Harvest Queen,Jr. Harvest Queen Crowned By Cierra Craft | Photography by Berry Sweet Memories

On September 19, the Hillsborough County Fair crowned Michaela Carmichael its 2020 Harvest Queen and Taylor Gregory its 2020 Junior Harvest Queen. The competition comprised 23 young ladies competing for the title and The Roland and Olive Lewis Scholarship In Memory of Marvin Brown. “We are looking forward to the new year with our new queens,” said Pageant Director Kelli Messick. “The year ahead of them may be somewhat different than other years but we will be in our community serving where we can. We also plan on having the Queens at the livestock sales in October. The year will be filled with a lot of fun and excitement and we are excited to get started.” Meet Carmichael and Gregory as they discuss the year ahead and what they’re looking forward to as Hillsborough County royalty. PAGE


Michaela is the daughter of Sean and Bonnie Carmichael. She is 16 years old and attends Durant High School with plans to graduate early. Michaela is involved in FFA where she enjoys showing her steer. She also enjoys art and scuba diving. After graduation, she plans to attend a university to become a large animal veterinarian. She currently works at Happy Pets Inn. Michaela’s First Maid is Plant City High School student Bailey Blanton. Why did you decide to enter the harvest queen pageant this year? I have done the pageant for three years and it has become a “tradition” in a sense. Even though I did not get crowned previous years, I loved the experience and friends I made and despite the pandemic, I knew the feeling of having the courage to talk on stage would be rewarding enough. Have you held any pageant titles previously? Yes, in the 2018-2019 school year I was crowned the Durant FFA Sweetheart court member. The pageant was a bit different this year due to COVID-19. What was your favorite part of the competition? My favorite part of the competition was the seven minute one-on-one interview with the judges. I loved being able to connect with the judges on a personal level and give them a look into my true personality. What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead? I am looking forward to interacting with those in the community regardless if we have a full on traditional fair or an alternative plan in place. Why should Plant City residents attend the Hillsborough County Fair? Even though we are not hosting a traditional Fair I encourage each and every person to attend the events that are still happening. The county fair has always been based on a foundation of family, livestock and inspiring the youth in our agriculture industry. With the livestock show still occurring, our youth needs community support now more than ever. What is a fun fact about you people may be surprised to learn? A fun fact about me that people might be surprised to know is that I am technically a junior at Durant high school however, I am taking the three-year graduate program and will be a graduating senior in May of 2020 What’s your favorite fair food? My favorite fair food hands-down is Smitty’s Buttermilk Corn Dogs. I have been getting those as long as I can remember!

Michaela Carmichael Harvest Queen

What’s your current favorite song and why? “This One’s For The Girls” by Martina McBride. This is my current favorite song because not only do I see the hate being spread on social media but I experience it as well in the song she sings “were all the same inside from 1 to 99” and I wish everyone could see that regardless of your physical appearance or societal beauty standards every single person is so beautiful in their own way. Loving yourself is so hard, I know from years of personal experience, but it is also the first step towards prosperity. Queen Michaela Carmichael received a $1000.00 Scholarship from The Roland and Olive Lewis Scholarship “In Memory of Marvin Brown.” If she attends Florida College in Temple Terrace, they will match the scholarship for a grand total of $2000.00. In addition, Pipe Pros, Inc. awarded the Junior Queen with another $500 to attend a college of her choosing. Southern Hospitality and Berry Sweet Memories presented the Junior Queen with a custom framed 8X10 photo. Other sponsors were Crystal’s Thirty-One Gifts, Florida Girl Tanning, LDM Lawn and Landscape, Southern Reflection Photography, Julie’s Embroidery Creation, Blessed Occasions Special Events, LDL Marketing, and Shala Styles.



Taylor attends Seffner Christian Academy where she is in 8th grade. Taylor is 13 years old. She is involved in Beta Club, MENSA, and Travel Softball. Her hobbies include playing the violin, tumbling and snow skiing. Taylor plans on attending West Point Military Academy upon graduation to major in defense and strategy during her military career. Her parents are Steve and Diane Gregory. Taylor’s First Maid is Durant High School freshman Riley Guy. Why did you decide to enter the harvest queen pageant this year? I go to Seffner Christian Academy and a lot of my friends in High School have entered the Harvest Pageant so I thought this year could be my turn. Also, I’ve been in a lot of softball tournaments over the past few months getting super dirty and sweaty every weekend. I thought it would be a nice change to wear a fancy dress and heels rather than a uniform and cleats. Have you held any pageant titles previously? No, this was my first and I feel so honored to have been chosen. The pageant was a bit different this year due to COVID-19. What was your favorite part of the competition? My favorite part of the competition was getting to know all of the girls. Everyone was super friendly and we had so much fun taking pics and getting to know each other. What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead? I am most looking forward to getting to know my community better through all of the events I get to attend. For me, it’s a chance to meet people I wouldn’t normally see every day, and I think that’s an opportunity to get better involved in my town. Why should Plant City residents attend the Hillsborough County Fair? The Hillsborough County Fair really represents a small town feel to me, and I think it does for others, too. We can remember our roots and go back to having lots of fun with family and friends. What is a fun fact about you people may be surprised to learn? My family absolutely loves to travel, so I’m working on getting my private pilot's license. My parent’s favorite restaurant is in Key West and I think they want me to fly down there and get us takeout. What’s your favorite fair food? My top two favorites are probably funnel cake and cotton candy…really anything with lots of sugar. What’s your current favorite song and why? As of right now my favorite song is Graves into Gardens because it reminds me of how God is constantly changing me for the better and has a good plan for my future. Jr. Queen Taylor Gregory receives a $500 Scholarship from The Roland and Olive Lewis Scholarship “In Memory of Marvin Brown. If she attends Florida College in Temple Terrace, The program will match the scholarship. In addition, Pipe Pros, Inc. awarded the Junior Queen with another $500 to attend a college of her choosing. Southern Hospitality and Berry Sweet Memories presented the Junior Queen with a custom framed 8X10 photo. Other sponsors were Crystal’s ThirtyOne Gifts, Florida Girl Tanning, LDM Lawn and Landscape, Southern Reflection Photography, Julie’s Embroidery Creations, Blessed Occasions Special Events, LDL Marketing, and Shala Styles.

Taylor Gregory Junior Harvest Queen



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Instagrammers of Plant City (@igersplantcity). Running this social media site made a good excuse for my fiancé and I to go on more dates. I wanted to get to know Plant City through my eyes. I see your social media work on INSTAGRAMMERS OF PLANT CITY as a gift to the community. Where do you find your inspiration for the weekly posts? I look for people who tag Plant City on social media. I look for pictures that have something special about them, such as awesome sunrises or sunsets over farmlands, or maybe a new business. I look for photos and videos that capture the essence of Plant City from a different perspective. I am always finding the neatest things in Plant City, like the Roos and Coos Farm that raises red kangaroos and Scottish Highland coos, and like the Pumpkin Pie milkshake that is now available at Parkesdale Farms. I like showing people what makes Plant City unique. And I get excited when someone comments, “I didn’t know that was here?” MAKE PLANT CITY is a local organization you helped birth. What vision do you see for the artists of this community? I want to see more connections made organically between creatives and our community, also to connect inspiring young artists with Plant City’s experienced artists. I want to see people buying local art from our artists, and to see Plant City hold more events around the creative arts.

People of Plant City

Vicky Saunders By Angela Ardrey- Reynolds


want to create the things I wished existed. That is why I created Instagrammers of Plant City and cocreated Make Plant City and We Are Plant City,” she proclaims. “I believe if you just have a passion for it, you can make it happen.” Known around the community for her work with social media and with local creatives, meet one of the heartbeats of Plant City, Vicky Saunders. “Honestly, I just want to show the people of Plant City what I am seeing and experiencing in the community I now call home.”



What caused you to become involved in Plant City? When my fiancé and I decided to lay down roots, we settled in Plant City. At first, I did not know anything about Plant City outside of the Strawberry Festival. So, I asked myself, “How did I connect with the other cities I used to live in?” – easy, I would review their social media sites, such as Instagrammers of Lakeland, Instagrammers of Orlando. When I searched for a Plant City Instagram page, I could not find one. So, I created one –

I hear you helped start another social media page for Plant City. Tell me about it. It is called WE ARE PLANT CITY. It is located on both Facebook (We Are Plant City) and Instagram (@weareplantcity). I wanted to find a way to make a difference through empathy. I feel that in a world right now where there is so much yelling, we just need to stop and listen sometimes. I see the world yelling from both ends. This is not how change happens. Change happens when discussions happen. I wanted to create a platform for people to tell their stories. WE ARE PLANT CITY is designed for capturing peoples’ stories. It’s a place to share stories that will spark discussions, which will hopefully spark change in the community. Sharing stories is powerful. What is your favorite thing to do in Plant City? There’s a lot of great places to go around here. But honestly, I enjoy hanging out with my friends the most.



Did You Know? Plant City Photo Archives Embarks on New Outreach Program By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives


e all remember last February which quietly slid into March and the world around us began to change slowly, then rapidly. The coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic had arrived, and everything changed. We began rescheduling our events, then rescheduling again, and it set in – this was not going to be easy or short-lived. With the pandemic, not only our lives, but the world around us was changing. Adaptation became not a choice but a necessity. The Photo Archives remained open, but with rigid safety guidelines in place. Still, it was quiet, but then the Internet began to provide for us all a fuller extent of its abilities. Visitors came but this time via email and phone. Requests for photos and information about people, places, and events increased. Onsite and in person activities changed and meetings became Zoom and Skype meetings. Facebook and Instagram posting rapidly increased. We were all adapting. Now that it is pretty well accepted that many of the newly used methods of communication were going to be required, we are all trying to learn and decide which of all the potential platforms available are going to be best for our own particular needs. The Photo Archives, with its new focus on the Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center, is embarking on a quest to determine how best to continue to serve the greater Plant City community. That’s where you come in. What do you want from us? How best can we be of service to you, the residents of this community? Our mission is not only to collect the photos and documents that preserve the history and heritage of this community, but to make it available and accessible to you. Send us your ideas and suggestions, recommendations and concepts. We will do our best to sort through your thoughts and implement what we can to get the photos and stories about who you are, and where you came from to you using the proper tools and platforms that work most effectively and efficiently. In addition to our monthly FOCUS Magazine articles, which have been working well, we need to look at expanding our reach. Zoom seminars, blogs, podcasts, e-publishing of stories and photos, YouTube videos of oral interviews, video conferences, webinars, online history trivia? We are researching them all. And



we’re not doing it alone. We have an ad-hoc steering committee, an intern from Florida Southern College, a research assistant, and you, our audience. We are asking everyone involved to work on this so that the Photo Archives can successfully make the history of our community come to you. Additionally, we need your stories. Tell us about your family, or your work, or your memories. Just send us your handwritten notes, we can write it for you or with you. The history we have of this town came from people who wrote it down. Send us your stories. We reviewed a list of local people whose writings have come through our collections and we know there are more who we, hopefully, will see soon. Here are some of them: John Keasler, David E. Bailey, Jim Pollock, Jim Helms, Bill Thomas, Wallace Prophet, Ken Cassels, Felix Haynes, Jim McDaniel, Sally Knight Raburn, Alvin Futch, Ersula Knox Odom, Nick Brown,

Lauren Der McNair, Dick Elston, Al Berry, Dr. Bernard Robinson, Martha Lafon, Anisa Brown, Panky Snow, Jerry Humphrey, Betty Briggs, Lois Sherrouse Murphy, Shelby Bender, Tom E. Grimes, and more. One of the most interesting stories that came to us recently was donated by Steve Howell. It was an autobiography written by Tom E. Grimes, the uncle of Katherine Howell. Mr. Grimes was born in 1925 and died in 1973, and never made it beyond elementary school. He was self-educated and wrote a fascinating story of his life, missing few details. It is humorous and poignant—the kind of story that takes you into the center of life as he lived it during those years. We are looking forward to hearing from you, the residents, the readers, the writers, the makers, and the ordinary people like us. Let us know what we can do for you.

Alvin Futch, Ersula Knox Odom, Lois Sherrouse-Murphy, Lauren McNair, Felix Haynes, Gil Gott, and Nick Brown at a book signing event held at the Photo Archives in 2017.






Fall Fashion

Your Guide to the Season’s Hottest Trends & Local Boutiques By Cierra Craft Fall 2020 is here and as we prepare for cooler temperatures and family gatherings, it’s time to update our wardrobe. This season is all about luxe layers, prints that run wild, and a refined color palette consisting of neutrals, with pops of jewel tones. Our local boutiques are offering these trends- and more- creating outfit ideas and looks that are effortless for the busy mom, the young college student or the preppy creative. Check out these looks from Two Blondes Boutique, Sweet Southern Sass, Suga Glitz Boutique and RAOK. These outfits are modeled by former Strawberry Queens Kelsey Humphrey and Hanna Hodges Benton, and former court members Lindsey English and Ariel Navarette. We would like to thank Michelle Welch of Wishing Well Barn for allowing us to use her property for our photo shoot. Wishing Well Barn is a destination wedding and event venue featured in The Knot and Wedding Wire. Call (813) 478-6554 to book your next event.




Fleetwood Boho Tiered Maxi Dress $42 Brighton Gallop Belt $80 Stack of Erimish Bracelets $7 each Boutique: RAOK Model: 2006 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen & RAOK Owner Hannah Hodge Benton Location: Wishing Well Barn



Make Heaven Crowded Tee $30 Wish You Well Thermal Button Cardigan/Dress $39.50 Spanx Distressed Skinny Jeans $128 Stack of Erimish Bracelets $7 each Boutique: RAOK Model: 2006 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen & RAOK Owner Hannah Hodge Benton Location: Wishing Well Barn





Suede Cognac Fringe Bells $31.95 S, M, L Desert Bound Graphic Tee $26.95, S, M, L Boutique: Two Blondes Boutique Model: 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Kelsey Fry Humphrey Location: Wishing Well Barn

Olive Cold Shoulder Cutie $26.95, S, M, L Nude Wide Brim Hat $19.95 Boutique: Two Blondes Boutique Model: 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Kelsey Fry Humphrey Location: Wishing Well Barn


Naomi Distress Black Denim $38.95, Sizes 1-13





Wild Wanda Faux Fur Vest by Cassie $38.00 Super Slim Chocolate Tunic by Today’s Girl $18.00 The Wild Side Leopard Super Flairs by Carol Christian $38.00 Boutique: Sweet Southern Sass Model: 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Court Member Lindsey English Location: Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum

Glitzy Leopard Beaded Necklace (32 in chain) $15.90 Leopard Cactus Earrings $13 Yours Truly Leopard Bracelet $17.25 Boutique: Suga Glitz Boutique Model: 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival Court Member Ariel Navarrete Location: Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum


Fall In Love Leopard Waffle Knit Dress $30, S,M,L, 2X



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706 W Dr. MLK. Jr Blvd, Plant City FL 33563

Norma’s Celebrates 3 Years on Collins Street By Cierra Craft

(left photo) During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Norma’s developed Family Meals to go. Customers could purchase a pan of food for a family to share at an affordable price. The program took off in popularity and the restaurant has chosen to continue offering the plentiful portions. (right photo) Chef Andy Nassar and General Manager Leo Mesquita joined forced three years ago to bring dynamic dishes to Plant City’s downtown core.

When Norma’s Ybor City Cuban Sandwich Shop on Baker Street closed, its legion of fans were saddened, to say the least, and soon after there was talk of revitalizing the sandwich shop. In November 2017, Norma’s Plant City Cuban Sandwich Shop opened its doors at 120 N. Collins Street under the direction of General Manager Leo Mesquita and Chef Andy Nassar. Cuban sandwiches, bowls, and fresh salads are mainstays of Norma’s menu, the restaurant quickly grew a reputation for being ‘More than a Sandwich Shop.’ With culinary creations served at Night at Norma’s, the launch of twisted tacos on Taco Tuesday, and in response to the COVID-19 restaurant restrictions, Norma’s quickly adapted, serving different Family Meals. Norma’s is bringing back the family-size meals during the holiday season, so make sure to give them a call or follow their social media to see what they’re offering. Meet Mesquita and Nassar as they reflect on their success and discuss what’s next for Norma’s Cuban Sandwich Shop and the downtown dining scene. PAGE


Night at Norma’s became an afterhours, exclusive dining experience in downtown. The Norma’s staff served dishes outside of the norm for a Cuban Sandwich shop living up to its slogan “More Than a Sandwich Shop.”

Leo, share with me a bit about how your father-in-law came into relaunching Norma's Cubans? And how did you come on board? My father-in-law, Scott Snapp has always been a fan of Norma’s. After they closed down, he wanted to keep its legacy in Plant City by opening the new business. At the time, I was looking for my next opportunity while working for Florida Power & Light in South Florida. When he presented me with the option of opening the new Norma’s, it was a no brainer. Leaving the 9 to 5 for entrepreneurship was definitely what I was seeking. With the support of my fiancée at the time and now wife, Skotti Mesquita, and family, we made the transition to Plant City in August 2017 and launched Norma’s in November 2017. What were the early days of the business like? How did you guys develop a menu? Leo: We knew that it was important to keep some of the same ingredients and menu items from the previous Norma’s, so that still remains untouched. You will find the Norma’s Cuban, Chicken & Yellow Rice, Garbanzo Bean Soup, Deviled Crabs and Stuffed Potatoes still on the menu. However, we wanted to add our own items as well, and that’s how Chef Andy Nassar helped us get started.



In 2018, Norma’s was featured in Travel Taste Click’s “11 Things to do in Plant City…Beyond the Strawberries.” The article highlighted the restaurant’s Cuban sandwiches, available in the Traditional Style or with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

Andy, how did you come on board at Norma's? Leo and I have been friends since high school, and once Leo decided to pursue the restaurant business I thought it would be a great time to help grow something from the ground up. After working for a few restaurants like Ciccio Cali, The Stein & Vine and Air Culinaire, it felt right to pursue something where I could have the flexibility and freedom to create new menu items. Leo, reflecting on the past three years, what are some of your favorite memories in the business? There have been many different experiences but most of them connect back to establishing great relationships. Plant City is a tight community and with the relationships we have built, the most relevant experience that comes to mind was our ability to count on the community to help us through the peak of COVID-19. We were blessed with an extremely busy month in March, followed by over 500 orders of family-size meals.

Norma’s 120 N Collins St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 704-6015 FB & IG: @normascuban Mon- Sat 8AM to 4PM Sun- Closed

In a previous interview with FOCUS, Leo Mesquita said Chef Andy creates the Taco Tuesday menu “he thinks is trendy or different where we can introduce new flavor to our customers.” Chef Andry says one of his favorite Taco Tuesday items were the Bang Bang Shrimp tacos.

When was it decided that Norma's would be ‘more than a sandwich shop?’ What does that slogan mean to you? Leo: During the first year of being open, I knew we had to stand out from being just a Cuban sandwich shop. Especially with such a talented chef on board, it was important to put his talents to good use. Being ‘More than a sandwich shop’ allows us to have a diverse menu and gives Andy the freedom to create anything he believes people should try. For example, Night at Norma’s was a four-course dinner we used to boost our presence and gain trust from our customers in order to venture out to catering gigs such as weddings, sport teams pre-meals, and corporate events. Norma's is known for having an innovative menu. How do you both work together to develop new menu items or weekly specials like Taco Tuesday? Leo: It’s all up to the Chef and our amazing kitchen staff. Andy stays in touch with trendy foods as well as new taco dishes. When our kitchen staff members were hired in 2018, they thought it would be a good idea to make homemade tortillas and make some tacos out of our mojo shredded pork. Once we saw the spike in sales and demand for those tacos, we knew it was time for Taco Tuesday! In addition, Andy likes to challenge himself with items he has never developed before which motivates him to keep trying new things.

Chef Andy Nassar brings culinary creativity to every dish served at Norma’s. Whether he is creating something new from scratch or putting a twist on an old classic, his meals are flavorful and sometimes unexpected.

Andy, reflecting on Nights at Norma's and Taco Tuesdays, what are some of your favorite dishes you've created? One of my favorite Night at Norma’s dishes was a Pork Shank entrée or the Ramen. For Taco Tuesday, there has been quite a few. I really like some of the previous burritos we’ve done such as the Korean Beef or the Burr-Cheeto, but the Bang Bang Shrimp tacos seem to be our customers’ favorite. What do you think makes Norma's so beloved by the community? Leo: I believe it’s our ability to serve a diverse clientele while bringing something new and exciting almost every week with the daily specials. One of the questions we get asked every day is ‘What’s your special of the day?’ and that shows that people look forward to something different every week. What is the future of Norma's? What are some new items or programs customers can look forward to? Leo: Our three year anniversary is coming up in November and we always try to bring something new to the menu, so stay tuned for some new bowls and tacos. In addition to new menu items, we are also looking at a customer loyalty program, an online store, and expanding our product line (similar to Norma’s green sauce).







The Canopy C at Walden Woods




hoosing a senior living community for a loved one can often feel like a daunting task. “Will Mom be happy living here?” or “Will Dad receive the proper care for his Alzheimer’s Disease?” are just a few of the questions one may ask themselves. But, for Plant City families, The Canopy at Walden Woods will soon put those concerns to rest. The Canopy at Walden Woods is a new 64unit assisted living and memory care community currently being constructed with an anticipated grand opening in Summer 2021. The Canopy at Walden Woods will comprise 377 square-foot one-bedroom studio apartments and onebedrooms ranging from 464 to 495 square feet. Memory Care Neighborhood has a shared option of 401 square feet and a private studio at 282 square feet. The senior living community will boast kitchenettes in all assisted living units, a wellness center, a bistro and pub, a private dining room and a spacious salon and spa. “More than ever, seniors and their families are seeking the comfort, ease and safety of upscale community living, said Tony Bobbitt, executive director at The Canopy at Walden Woods. “Our team is thrilled to bring this amenityrich, resort-style environment to the beautiful Plant City market, and we look forward to welcoming residents in the near future.” With seasoned senior living leadership at the helm, the community is led by Bobbit and Director of Sales Tammy Simpson. In an amenity-rich resort-style environment, The Canopy at Walden Woods brings upscale, assisted living and memory care options to the Plant City market.

Tammy Simpson, Director of Sales

Tony Bobbitt, Executive Director

“We will have the first Memory Care Neighborhood in the area, for those individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” said Tammy Simpson. “Our communities offer a variety of care options that are personalized for each resident’s needs and their care can be seamlessly adjusted as time goes on. We provide healthcare monitoring and management, personalized care and assistance, and much more all in a safe and secure environment.” The Canopy at Walden Woods offers four Signature Programs: • ARTFUL Dining®: Utilizing fresh ingredients and local flavor, chefs craft seasonal menus and healthy entrees. • ZESTFUL Activities®: To alleviate depression and improve mobility, residents can participate in music therapy, yoga, yard games and health seminars. • HEARTFUL Care®: Licensed Nurse Practitioners are available 24/7 to assist with daily needs, personal assistance, and medication assistance. Those in the Memory Care Neighborhood receive care customized to their individual needs, building on their strengths and promoting a positive self-image and autonomy. With a stateof-the-art emergency response system, residents and family members have peace of mind that care is always available.

• HEARTS® Welcome: Upon arrival, residents are greeted by a welcoming committee and a community specialist will share information about amenities while giving a tour of the facility. “We have the privilege at The Canopy at Walden Woods to care for the greatest generation yet, they have seen many struggles,” said Simpson. “Our Signature Programs are our commitment to provide a safe haven, with exceptional care and social activity.” Conveniently located at 2051 Walden Woods Drive, The Canopy at Walden Woods provides residents with ease of access to shopping centers, medical offices, and more. Residents can remain close to their families while living a life of independence and dignity. “Within close proximity to major retail and medical centers, the accessibility of this site to the entire Central Florida region, coupled with the offering of a substantially larger, more modern living option than competitive area communities provide,” said Brad Womble, Director of Development. To book an appointment for a tour and learn more about The Canopy at Walden Woods, visit or call 813.213.4687.

2051 Walden Woods Drive | Plant City, FL 33563 | 813.213.4687 | PAGE










Griffin By Katie Hamilton

Elise Griffin is a junior at Durant High School. Elise or “Lisee,” as her friends and teammates call her, plays on Durant’s varsity volleyball team as a right-side hitter. Lisee has been playing volleyball since the fourth grade and in seventh grade she even joined the Plant City Predators club volleyball team. Not only does Lisee currently play for her high school, but additionally she plays for the Hurricanes Volleyball Academy. When not focusing on her grades, Lisee also finds time to make improvements in her volleyball career. Lisee plays volleyball almost every day of the week and claims it to be a very important part of her life. She stated, “Volleyball has taught me more life lessons than I can count, and it has given me lifelong friends and memories that I will cherish forever.” Lisee describes her perfect season as plenty of team bonding, having fun with the team, and winning all the games. When it comes to goals, she explained that her long-term goal is to be a team captain during her senior year, which to others may seem short term, but to Lisee it will be a big accomplishment. Lisee also strives to win districts with her team this year as it has always been something she looks forward to tackling. Her biggest accomplishment is how far she has come as a player. She explains, "I have attended numerous camps, clinics, and private lessons in order to improve, and I am very proud of everything I have been able to learn.” While Lisee has many supporters, she explains her main motivators for playing are her parents. Balancing school and volleyball is difficult, but because of her parent's high expectations, she pushes herself to be her best. Not only does she receive empowerment off the court, she also receives support from her teammates who will never let her settle for less than her best. Lisee’s thrives under the direction of head coach Nicole Higgins, along with assistant coaches. Kyle Bingham, Amanda Hutchins, and Olivia Cuellar. While Lisee shared her passion for the sport she loves, she also gave credit to her coaches and explained, “I truly believe that they have each had an impact on the person I am today, and the young woman I am becoming.”



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Reservations The Canopy at Walden Woods offers well-appointed apartments with spacious floor plans, restaurant-style dining, engaging activities and attentive care, all for a simple monthly fee.

Call Tammy Simpson at (813) 820-6484 to learn more about Plant City's newest Assisted Living and Memory Care community and the 100% refundable deposit.

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2051 Walden Woods Drive . Plant City, FL 33563 AN SRI-MANAGED COMMUNITY | ALF# Pending. ASSISTED LIVING | MEMORY CARE


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Come Visit Us! 119 South Collins St , Plant City Fl (813)756-6955

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Team of the Month Plant City YMCA By Katie Hamilton


he Plant City YMCA offers a basketball clinic for boys and girls, ages 7 to 13. The clinic is coached by Quinton Lovett who was a basketball player for seven years in his youth and has presently been a youth coach for 3 years. Lovett expressed how careful the YMCA is with regard to the health and safety of the players and also for everyone who enters the building. As the team is practicing, onlookers are kept at a safe distance, and Coach Lovett is still able to facilitate a fruitful practice. While there is the dark cloud of the looming pandemic, many parents remarked how grateful they are that their children are even able to participate in an activity like this. Joanne Cole, parent of Aiden Cole, explained how this outlet allows for her son to “become more active and to be away from video games.” This clinic is not just about shooting hoops; it also provides numerous cardio activities, dribbling drills, and even scrimmages for the kids to further practice and make improvements while on the court. From the players point-of-view, they love their coach and seem to have a strong and humorous bond with him. While speaking with the players, numerous inside jokes were evident as the kids lined up to practice shooting drills. When the athletes asked questions, Coach Lovett



would listen and respond with playful banter which is clearly indicative of the camaraderie that he has developed with the team. Akeim Young, a seventh grader at Tomlin Middle School, was ecstatic while talking about the clinic. Young said, “The clinic is fun and entertaining; I get to shoot, and play against competitive players.” But, while the boys are content to play against each other, one player did stand out. Marlee Kraus, who has been playing basketball for 4 years, is the only girl on the team and explained that she gets excited when she is able to beat her own teammates with her strides. Marlee stated, “As the only girl on the team, I feel I am being admired and that feels great.” After the interview, Marlee jumped right back into practice grabbed the ball and shot some hoops. Clearly, the Plant City YMCA offers unlimited support for kids to help build character, practice skill sets, and overall provides an outlet for getting and staying active. The pricing for this clinic varies depending on whether athletes are a member at the YMCA or not; for members, the price is $40 dollars and for non-Y members, the price is $85.

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Meet the

Maker: Ron Bell By Heather Davis


rt has the power to transform, uplift and ultimately change the world into a better place. It is in the healing arms of art that local artist, Ron Bell turned to when he reached the lowest point in his life. Facing the death of his mother, his personal battle with alcoholism, and possible homelessness was the catalyst that gave Bell the desire to change his life. As a recovering alcoholic, he credits creating art along with his faith, and family in being able to turn his life around and begin to truly live. Now, six years sober, Bell has been tackling the art world with passion, force and vision. As he puts it, “I am making up for lost time.” Bell is a tattoo artist by trade for over twenty seven years. He began painting while getting sober and has not stopped since. Most of Bell’s art is characteristic of the pop culture of the seventies and eighties along with punk rock and skateboarding symbolism and style. Having a great appreciation for local landmarks, many of Bell’s paintings are replications of well known and recognized landmarks in our area. For example Bok Towers, The Polk Theatre, and The University of Tampa to name a few. Our very own Train Depot and State Theatre downtown have also been painted by Bell. Bell is extremely innovative and bold in his style. He is not one to shy away from trying anything new or going outside of his box or comfort zone to create art. Drawing deeply upon his faith and spiritual beliefs, Bell also is drawn to religious art. Specifically stained glass because of the bold colors and lines which are reflected in his style and way of painting and tattooing. Bell often takes the opportunity to paint live art during church services as well as at other art events and festivals he participates in. When I asked Bell what it was like to be six years sober and making a living at creating the type of art he loves he replied by saying “insanely wonderful” with a gleam in his eye. “I have learned to appreciate the little things that I used to take for granted.” To delve more into the “insanely wonderful” art of Ron Bell you can visit his webpage at






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• • • • • •

Leaders in

Faith Chaplaincy Care, Inc. “Protecting the Heart of a Hero” Psalms 28:7 By Cheryl Johnston


he Plant City community is blessed with people offering concerted efforts to support our local first responders.

The Chaplaincy Care organization, founded by Plant City native and retired US Army Chaplain Daniel Middlebrooks, is one group that prioritizes “Protecting the Heart of a Hero.” The 501(c)3 non-profit “is dedicated to helping our military and First Responders develop proactive resiliency, personal relationships and professional leadership readiness.” On August 29 the group hosted an in-person appreciation event at First Call Church, where Middlebrooks serves as pastor, and a virtual “Banquet of Heroes” tribute online at Chaplaincy Care’s page on Facebook. Pastor Dan said the event was created “to be an incredible time to recognize and celebrate our First Responders through the stories and testimonies of the community that loves them.” Social distancing protocol dictated that the heroes enjoyed their Outback meal and gift bags in shifts at the church. “It was a great night,” he continued. “We served about 173 First Responders and families. The virtual program was to promote Chaplaincy Care’s mission and impact for our First Responders. We provide Chaplain services, Chaplaincy Care Academy to train new chaplains, and our newest Chaplaincy Counseling Center.” The virtual event with testimonials is definitely worth the YouTube view at And donations are always accepted at

• • • • •

The Kelley family’s testimony paints a powerful picture. Julie shared, “It’s difficult work for Tim and our family…When he leaves for work I kiss him, pray Psalm 91 over him, and hope he’ll return home safely to us.” As a child, Tim’s son James sat crying near the door, missing his father. But the teenaged James explained, “The job he [my Dad] has is amazing, sad, and full of joy all at the same time. Because of him, I hope to be a crime scene investigator one day.” Of daughter Colleen, Julie added: “When she was younger, Daddy missed three or four birthdays in a row because of work…Our children have been taught to know the exits in any building they enter.” She also praised Pastor/Chaplain Dan. “His heart is so pure and he encourages the people standing behind the man with the badge…It takes a heart passion to help someone who’s hurting.” Tim added, “Citizens really do appreciate what we do and I always tell those thanking me, “Thank you…”. I’m also thankful my wife helped me see who my true savior should be and that’s Jesus Christ…Through the church and Chaplaincy Care, my faith has grown exponentially.” Warrior to warrior sharing and counseling is very important, but now more civilians are offering assistance to let First Responders know they’re not alone…to be a listening ear. Thanks to the many sponsors and others’ tax deductible gifts, the ongoing work will continue. Pastor Middlebrooks invited: “Your contribution to Chaplaincy Care provides us the ability to be the personal touch in times of their pain…to walk with them even through the stormiest of times…Ladies and gentlemen, you hold the pen as to how we can continue to write the story. Please help us to strengthen our reach…and let the celebration continue all year long.” To

Those interviewed included: • Captain Jerry Stwan, Plant City Police Department • Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Bruce Delk • Stephen and Jana Galindo, Military Family • Sheriff Chad Chronister, HCSO • Crystal Haytasingh, Community Relations Coordinator for Mission BBQ PAGE


Chief David Burnett, Plant City Fire Rescue Gerry McCarley, Owner of Florida Air Service, Inc. Plant City Police Chief Ed Duncan Frank Cummings, Owner- Walden Lake Car Wash Julie Seale, HCSO Detective John “Tig” Tiegen, Former US Marine and Survivor of 2012 Benghazi Terror Attack Music by “The New Floridians” (singing public servants) Catrina Harr, Director of Chaplaincy Care Counseling Center Counseling recipients: Brandon Regional Hospital security officer Hannah Bernard and her mother, nurse Jennifer Bernard Paul Davis, Retired Major HCSO & Florida Strawberry Festival First Call Church attenders Tim James Kelley (HCSO), his wife Julie and their 3 children




Chaplaincy Care on Facebook and listen to its “Hero’s Heart” podcast, airing Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:00 a.m. on iTunes, iHeart, and Spotify. Feel free also to contact Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks at 813-767-2082 or online at

Pastor Dan Middlebrooks spoke at the 2019 Operation Paying It Forward Appreciative Event. The event was centered around First Responders and Military personnel. Pastor Middlebrooks spoke about a heart of service to others, a message that resonated with the law enforcement, fire rescue and military members in the crowd.


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Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens

• • • •

a gallon of milk: $1.18 Jiffy Peanut Butter: 59 cents a Malibu Barbie: $1.94 and a pound of fresh strawberries: 29 cents.

The must haves for small children were Weebles and it was Klackers for kids school-aged to teens. The most popular TV shows were: • All in the Family • The Flip Wilson Show • Sanford and Son • Mannix • Adam 12 • The Mary Tyler Moore Show • and Here’s Lucy

1971 Little Miss Plant City Karen Ann Owens


ey, do you remember the TV commercial where a group of multi-cultural teenagers stood on a hilltop in Italy holding a bottle of Coca Cola singing:

“I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love. Grow apple trees and honeybees and snow-white turtledoves. I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. That’s the real thing, what the world wants today, is the real thing.” That was the year 1971 and our nation was prospering. Our President was Richard Nixon, our Vice-President was Spiro Agnew, and our Chief Justice was Warren Burger. Miss America was Phyllis George of Texas, and our Miss America was Michelle McDonald from Pennsylvania. Inflation was at 5.7%, unemployment was 4.9%, and the Federal Debt was $408.2 billion. • The cost of a new home: $28,000 • a first-class stamp: 8 cents • a gallon of regular gas: 36 cents • a dozen eggs: 53 cents



The Top Billboard songs included: • My Sweet Lord • Knock Three Times • One Bad Apple • Joy to the World • Maggie May • and Brand New Key The popular sayings on TV were: • “Is it live or is it Memorex?” • “You deserve a break today!” • “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” • “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” • “Try it, you’ll like it!” If we take a look at what was going on in our state back in 1971, Claude Kirk, Jr. was living in our Governor’s mansion, followed by Rubin Askew later that year. Our Miss Florida was 19-year old Barbara Jo Ivey from Winter Park. Larry Jones was Head Coach for Florida State Football and Doug Dickey was in his second year coaching the Florida Gators. Walt Disney World opened its doors in Orlando. A one-day admission to the park was: $3.50. Disney World sold books of tickets for the rides, with each attraction rated A-E. An A-ticket would get you a ride on Cinderella’s Carousel, while the most popular attractions, like Space Mountain and The Haunted Mansion, were E-Ticket rides. Now, if we reflect back at our hometown of Plant City back in 1971, we would find Mr. C. J. Edwards as our Mayor surrounded by Commissioners: Otis Andrews, Gerald Hooker, Betty June Barker, and Henry Moody. Our City Manager was: William Snow.


The City Attorney was Paul Buchman with City Clerk Nettie Draughon. Our reigning Strawberry Queen was Sherrie Chambers and our Little Miss Plant City was Karen Ann Owens. The President of our Chamber of Commerce was Bruce Holmberg. Plant City High School, the home of the Plant City Planters football team, was located on Woodrow Wilson Street and was under the leadership of Principal Glen Evers. Tomlin Jr. High School, home of the Tomlin Tigers, was located on Evers Street in the old 1914 High School building where James “Sonny” Jones was Principal. If you wanted a new pair of shoes or something snazzy to wear then, you had Family Shoes Store downtown or Carol’s Dress Shop, Mary Herold’s Dress Shop, Lad & Lassie, Hooker’s Dept. Store, Earl’s Men’s Wear, Terri’s Dress Shop, or The Colony Shop at the mall. If you needed to buy a gift for a wedding, birthday, or graduation you went to see Midge or Alice at Edgar Hull Jewelers for jewelry and china, silver or crystal patterns. For unique gifts, you’d shop at The Other Brother, Ruby’s Gifts, or The Strawberry Pond. If you were looking for a pretty box of candy, it was Magnolia Pharmacy. If you needed to eat the best “Slaw-Dog” in town, off to Barwick Drug Store you went, where Mrs. Lille Belle Davis served them up hot and fresh. If your mouth was watering for the best burger, fries, and shakes, then you just walked up to the window at Burger Queen, drove up and flashed your headlights at “What-a-Burger.” sat on a stool at McCrory’s Lunch Counter, or visited the fast and speedy “Burger Chef ”! Your groceries came either from Kwik Chek, Felton’s, Shuman’s Market, or Publix. School supplies, sewing supplies, candy, hardware, fabric, or just about anything else you could think of could be purchased at McCrory’s, and don’t forget the best hotpopped popcorn popped especially for you by Mrs. Evelyn Lampkin. For a yummy Sunday buffet, you headed to Johnson’s on Haines Street, or for a snazzy evening of great food and entertainment, you’d put on your best and head to Lani Purcell’s Holiday Inn on Wheeler Street. Well…I could talk all day about the “good old” days. It’s hard to believe 1971 was almost 50 years ago. Plant City has grown so much that in some parts it’s almost unrecognizable. People and business have come and gone. Some people stop and stay for a while and then move on looking for a bigger and shinier pond, but you know what? I’m so happy Plant City is the place I call home!



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Plant City

Happenings OCTOBER


Last Friday in Downtown 5:00PM Downtown Trick-or-Treat | Food Trucks | Live Entertainment McCall Park @100 N. Collins St Cost: Free Parking & Admission Info: 813-764-9516

17 5:30PM One Night Only- 10 Minute Contest Benefiting Central Florida Speech & Hearing Center O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill @ 1701 S. Alexander St Cost: $25 per person; Buy your ticket at Info:, under Special Events

TB Business Network: Women's Only Networking Club 6:00PM Networking | Fellowship Professional & Personal Growth Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: $20 per person, Info: Tampa Bay Business Network, 727-487-9004 PAGE


The Fancy Flea- Plant City 9:00amAM Shop Shabby Chic, Farmhouse, and Vintage Decor Florida Strawberry Festival @ 2866 Reynolds Street Cost: $5 Admission, Ages 11 and Up; Free Parking Info: The Fancy Flea, or 863-712-3278


Hot Wing Eating Contest


06 & 07

Fork Ran Away With the Spoon 5K

31 Happy Halloween! Trunk-Or-Treat at GraceWay Church 6:00PM Decorated Trunks | Candy & Treats Fall Festivities & Costume GraceWay Church @ 3106 S. Wiggins Rd Cost: Free Info: Sheryl Howard, Ministry Assistant,

7:00AM Fundraiser for UFBPC 5K Run Through Downtown Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum @ 102 N. Palmer Street Cost: $35 Race Fee + $3 Sign Up Fee Info:

14 Empty Bowls Project 10:00AM Fundraiser for UFBPC Purchase crafted bowls Dine on Homemade Soups Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum @ 102 N. Palmer Street Cost: $10 Donation Info:



b Gallery of Plant City

PCHS vs Manatee High School On September 17, the PCHS Raiders faced off against the Manatee High School Hurricanes. The final score was 32 to 27 with Manatee taking the win. Fans observed COVID-19 guidelines from the stands, as PCHS Cheer and the Marching Band kept fans energized for the match up. Photography sponsored by Hungry Howie’s Plant City.




a. PCHS Varsity Cheer kept the energy high in the stands, despite the limit of permitted spectators due to COVID-19. b. PCHS Marching Band entertained fans and keep morale high as the Raiders lead by 7 in the first quarter of the game. c. PCHS and Manatee HIgh School haven’t faced off in many years. When Plant City’s games against Lakeland High School was canceled, Manatee stepped up to play against the Raiders. d. The Raiders lost the non-conference match-up against the Manatee Hurricanes with a final score of 32 to 27. The Raiders will face off against Kathleen High School on 10/23 and against the Durant Cougars in the Battle for the Redman Cup on 10/30. Both matches are away games. e. Despite raining conditions and COVID-19 restrictions, cheerful fans filled the stands, hopeful for a Raider win. PAGE



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NOW ACCEPTING NEW PATIENTS Timothy B. Williams, D.O., M.Ed., F.A.A.P. • Emily Buchholz, P.A.-C Brandy Garcia, A.P.R.N. • Chandra R. Williams, M.D., F.A.A.P. Emily S. Zink, A.P.R.N.

Trunk or Treat

Plant City Pediatrics believes that “children are a gift from the Lord”. We view patient care as an investment in the future of each child and take our mission very seriously. Our providers provide gentle, compassionate care to each patient. We truly view our services as a mission.

OCT 31 | 6-8PM



a Gallery of Plant City

Faith Christian Academy’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration On Thursday, October 8, Faith Christian Academy celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a trip around the globe. Students were tasked with a research project and a presentation of their assigned Spanish-speaking country. Parents were then asked to drive-thru and see their student’s showcased work and learn more about each of the countries.


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c a. The Kindergarteners were tasked with making maracas with dry beans, empty water bottles and decorative tape. b. Faith Christian Academy chooses one country to be the spotlight. This year, the school chose Paraguay, creating cardboard photo stand-ins and dressing in traditional garb. c. Students even represented their assigned countries with traditional attire. This student represented Mexico with a “Peasant” Blouse and tri-colored skirt. d. The school-wide event involved students from all grade levels bringing together their history lessons, Spanish lessons, and art classes. e. Students of all grade levels were encouraged to visit each other’s tables, listen to their peer’s presentations. The event develops the student’s global awareness. f. Each grade level presented a full research project on their assigned country. Students were asked to identify notable figures, government leaders, demographics and more. PAGE





b Gallery of Plant City

Plant City GardenFest Plant enthusiasts convened downtown for the Plant City Garden Club's annual GardenFest on September 26. Vendors showcased plant varieties including cactus, house plants, and orchids, as well as garden art and antiques. The next Garden Club event is scheduled for January 2021 with a juried plant show at Pioneer Day. Photography sponsored by Hungry Howie's Plant City..



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a. One vendor sold cactus, succulents, and other hardy plants. These plants are popular as they require less care than other house plants. b. Garden art, including this patriotic pal made of painted flower pots, along with metal garden art was also available for purchase along Drane Street. c. Crafters and garden vendors were set up on Drane Street. Customers could shop for a handmade goods such as fabric pot holders, aprons, and more. d. Gardeners were able to shop a variety of plants includes florals, bushes, hedges, as well as hanging plants, cactus, and more. e. Under the shade of the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum, customers could shop delicate florals such as orchids, as well as antiques. PAGE


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b Gallery of Plant City

Top Golf Tournament On Thursday, October 1, Plant City Main Street hosted its largest fundraiser of the year, its annual TopGolf Tournament. Business leaders came together for an afternoon of fun, while supporting the downtown organization. Attendees were also given the opportunity to win raffle prizes and TopGolf provided swag bags. Sponsorships were available ranging from $75 to $5000, supporting Plant City Main Street’s initiatives and programs. Photos by Deanna Hurley Photography


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a. The event included a buffet and drinks for a casual evening networking. Earl Williams, Steve Lambert, Clayton Jenkins and John Haney enjoyed connecting with fellow business owners at the three-hour event. b. Kayla Drawdy and Justin McConnell enjoyed hanging out at the state-of-the-art interactive driving range. c. Curtis Browning, Jerilyn Rumbarger, Mike Floyd, Jeremy Saunders, Chandler Workman, and Chuck Jamieson shared a bay at the event. This team sponsored a bay, compete against other businesses, and support Plant City Main Street. d. Plant City Main Street’s Board Members: Josh Jimenez, Jeremy Rhodes, Shelby Bender, Lizzette Sarria, Nick Thurston, Yvonne Fry, Jillian Wilder, Frank Trunzo, Christy Lyle, Trey Stevens, Jodi Stevens, Tai Ishia Robinson, Shawn Jemison, Greg Williams, and Carter Metts e. Plant City Top Golf Tournament swag was presented to winner and raffled off. The 2020 winners include South Florida Baptist Hospital, Ling Realty, and CenterState Bank. PAGE





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