FOCUS Plant City 20-01

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Contents Table of

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SPOTLIGHT: COOKING UP GOOD DEEDS WITH SHARON MOODY

Plant City-native Sharon Moody has been serving the community for 40 years, through organizations such as Kiwanis, Unity, and Plant City Black Heritage, Inc. Meet Moody and learn more about the upbringing that shaped her into a civic leader.

Photo courtesy of City of Plant City PAGE

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As we transition into Black History Month, we celebrate a few of the African American leaders at the helm of our city. Meet Danny McIntyre of iImpactPC, Tai Isha Robinson of the Boys and Girls Club, and Mary Thomas Mathis, a City of Plant City Commissioner for 21 years.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s time to think about a gift for someone special. From diamond and gemstone fine jewelry to men’s watches, Brown’s Jewelers has something for everyone. With jewelry experts ready to help you select the right gift or make repairs, Brown’s Jewelers is your one-stop-shop for your Valentine’s Day needs.

FEATURE: PLANT CITY BLACK LEADERS

BUSINESS: BROWN’S JEWELERS


FOCUS PLANT CITY

focusplantcity.com / Issue 20-01/ January 2021

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DINING: THE BACK NINE

Looking for somewhere to enjoy “tee-rific” food and drinks, in a family-friendly atmosphere? Look no further than The Back Nine in North Lakeland. The Back Nine is Lakeland’s first and only indoor golf center, serving up delicious upscale bar food at affordable prices.

PUBLISHER

Mike Floyd

MANAGING EDITOR

Cierra Craft

ACCOUNT MANAGER

mikef@floydpublications.com

cierra@floydpublications.com

Chandler Workman

chandler@floydpublications.com

Crystal Colegrove

crystal@floydpublications.com

ART DIRECTOR

OFFICE MANAGER

DISTRIBUTION

Anthony Sassano

asassano@floydpublications.com

Candy Owens

cowens@floydpublications.com

Tony DeVane

STAFF WRITERS

Angela Ardrey Anthony Bolesta Cheryl Johnston Sherrie Mueller Emily Topper

CONTRIBUTORS

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 editorial@floydpublications.com. 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.

www.focusplantcity.com

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UBLISHE From The

Publisher It’s January. Time to start new, time to start fresh. I’m going into 2021 feeling inspired to create change- change in my businesses, my health, and more. I hope that you are also feeling the spirit of a new beginning and setting goals for the new year. Our FOCUS team has some big plans for 2021 and we can’t wait for you to see what it’s store in the year ahead. One such person who is always busy building a better community and achieving her goals is Sharon Moody. Our team was in the conference room and it was decided that we should kick off the new year with someone who does so much good for the community on the January cover. She is currently planning the Plant City Black Heritage Celebrations; plan to attend these great community events.

2021:

Twenty-five women have set the goal of earning the title of 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen. In this issue, we showcase the contestants vying for the title. The Florida Strawberry Festival Queens Scholarship Pageant is on January 23rd.

LOOKING BACK & CHARGING AHEAD

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This month, we kick off preparations for the FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards. We are looking forward to presenting 55 businesses in our community with these honors, chosen by you, our

readers. We will release the link to vote on our Facebook page, where you can cast your vote once per day throughout the voting period. The business with the most votes in each category will take home the Readers’ Choice Awards from our annual Anniversary Party. This year, FOCUS celebrates 20 years as your hometown magazine. One of our first advertisers was South Florida Baptist Hospital and the magazine was distributed from the back of my brother-in-law’s pickup truck. Today, the magazine is still delivered every month by Tony; I couldn’t imagine the past 20 years without him leading distribution. Reflecting on the past 20 years, thank you to every small business owner who supported FOCUS Magazine by purchasing an advertisement. We look forward to seeing our city’s business leaders at our annual Anniversary Partymore details to come. From all of us at FOCUS Magazine, we wish you all a happy, healthy new year.

Warmest Regards,

Mike Floyd


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Community

FOCUS

CHECK IN WITH PLANT CITY

Grooms Family opens Fancy Farms Market

By Cierra Craft

Captain Vincent Probst Retires After Two Decades with PC Fire Rescue By Jennifer Jordan On December 30, Captain Vincent Probst worked his last day, receiving his retirement axe from Chief Burnett after serving the people of Plant City for more than 20 years at Plant City Fire Rescue. Starting out at Polk County Fire Rescue, Captain Probst worked there for 8 years before transitioning over to Plant City Fire Rescue on August 21, 2000. While working with Plant City Fire Rescue, Probst started working as an instructor at Hillsborough Community College Fire Academy, teaching firefighters in training for 18 years currently. In 2007, Probst was promoted to Captain and continued to serve in that role until he made the decision to retire in 2020. When asked how he felt about retirement, Probst stated, “I’m so elated; I thought the adjustment would be difficult, but I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to come home every night now. I’m just really going to miss hanging out with the guys at the station.” During his 28-year career, Probst put out several hundred fires, and worked shifts that were 24 hours on, 48 hours off. Now that he is officially retired with Plant City Fire Rescue, Probst plans on continuing to teach as an instructor for H.C.C. Fire Academy, and work towards becoming a flight instructor. Probst said, “Besides being a firefighter, my other passion is aviation, and I’m looking forward to having more time to fly and spend time flying with my family.” After a career full of dedication, hard work and passion, the people of Plant City cannot thank and congratulate Vincent Probst enough, and wish him the best during his journey of retirement. PAGE

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Fancy Farms, Inc., owned and operated by the Grooms family, announced a new business venue: Fancy Farms Market. The produce stand is located at 5204 Drane Field Road in Lakeland and offers strawberries, and a variety of fresh, local produce. The stand is open Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Fancy Farms Market accepts Credit (Visa, MC, Discover, American Express), cash or check. “Fancy Farms/Carl and Dee Dee Grooms have always had a roadside produce stand where we just sold strawberries, but this year my brother Dustin and I decided to expand and open a new market, Fancy Farms Market, offering a variety of fresh local produce and strawberry desserts,” said Kristi Grooms, Fancy Farms Market manager and daughter of Carl and Dee Dee Grooms. “The desserts are recipes of my mothers and aunts.” Kristi is a 2000 graduate of Florida Southern College, where she studied Advertising Communications. She then pursued a marketing job in a corporate setting for 16 years, but her heart was drawn to helping with the family business. Now, she will operate the Fancy Farms Market with a team of employees to create delicious, homemade goods. The menu includes all things strawberry: milkshakes, $5; shortcakes with whip cream, $5; shortcake with ice cream, $6; bread, 2 for $5; and cookies, $6. Fancy Farms Market offers red bistro tables to enjoy their delicious treats, just feet from rows of beautiful Florida strawberries. Customers can also purchase strawberry plants for $4. Take a photo on Mr. Carl’s vintage tractor and post it tagging the @FancyFarmsInc on Facebook and Instagram. Kristi says in the future Fancy Farms Market will offer Strawberry jams and jellies, strawberry lemonades, strawberry merchandise, and more delicious strawberry-inspired desserts. The market is the only one of its kind in the Springhead area. Now Fancy Farms has joined Parkesdale and other local farms in offering their products directly to the consumer, along with desserts and merchandise. Be sure to visit Fancy Farms Market to show your patronage and support for the Grooms Family. Strawberries and strawberry inspired products will be available for purchase through late March. The dessert side of the business will close, but the produce market will remain open until the summer. The market will reopen in the fall with new offerings.


Community

FOCUS

Replay: Upscale Resale is Open for Business in Downtown Plant City

CHECK IN WITH PLANT CITY

By Jennifer Jordan

Replay: Upscale Resale - a children’s clothing resale store- officially opened in Downtown Plant City on January 4, selling new and gently used clothing items for kids, in addition to strollers, books, diaper bags, and more. With just one other location in Lakeland, this small business allows parents to dress their children in high-quality brands without breaking their budget, with child sizes ranging from preemies to youth 10/12. Replay also helps the environment by reselling gently used items rather than the items ending up in landfills and will take name-brand children’s clothing in exchange for cash or store credit. In the future, they will be adding ladies’ clothing and accessories at their Plant City location. When asked why Plant City was selected for her store’s second location, owner Tiffany Taylor said, “My husband and I always planned to have more than one location, and the stars aligned for Plant City perfectly because we wanted to be located downtown, and we also love the “small hometown” vibe. Plant City has been very welcoming so far.” Replay: Upscale Resale is located on 113 W. Reynolds St. They’re open Monday-Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. There will be a grand opening in early-mid February. For more information, call Replay at 863-606-5273 or visit their website at www.justhitreplay.com.

Laser Show Lights Up Plant City By: Jennifer Jordan

From January 7 to January 10, the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds hosted the Cabin Fever Drive-In Laser Show that included familyfriendly musical hits of a variety of genres, as well as graphic effects on two big-screens. For $25 per vehicle, friends and families could bring as many people as their vehicles could hold along with their own snacks, drinks, chairs and/or blankets to enjoy the show tailgate-style since vehicles were socially distanced when parked. However, if people wanted a closer view in their vehicles, they could purchase V.I.P. tickets, $50 for rows 2-5 and $99 for front row viewing. Each night hosted two shows rain or shine, but rain enhances the lasers to give a better show. When parked, everyone turned off their vehicle’s headlights and set their radios to a specific station, so the lasers and graphics went with the beat of the music. Vendors were also selling lightsabers and lightup wands for the kids to have extra fun. Third-grader Keifer Ancell said, “The lasers were super cool, and I loved seeing the minions on the big screens!” With a variety of colors, effects, and graphics, the Cabin Fever Drive-In Laser Show was a fun and colorful way to kick off 2021 and have a good time while staying socially distanced.

FOCUS Magazine to host annual Readers’ Choice Awards By Cierra Craft As FOCUS celebrates its 20th business anniversary, the magazine kicks off its annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The honors were designed to recognize the best small businesses in Plant City, across a number of industries including restaurants, home services, and more. This year, the magazine will recognize over 25 businesses across 55 categories. The community is asked to cast their votes from January 25 through January 31 and the award winners will be announced at the FOCUS Magazine 20th Anniversary Party at Keel Farms on February 18. The March issue of FOCUS will then be dedicated to the winners and spotlighting their accomplishments. To cast your vote, visit our Facebook page on January 25 when voting opens. You can vote once per day. Help your favorite local businesses get the recognition they deserve in our FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards.

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Walden Lake Review BY NATALIE SWEET

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he Walden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are the third Monday of each month at the Walden Lake Community Association office building on Griffin Boulevard in Walden Lake. The next meetings are scheduled for January 18 and February 15 at 7:00 PM. You can Livestream or Teleconference the meeting by signing in to www. WaldenLake.org. The meetings are open to all Walden Lake residents. Watch the announcement boards at all entrances for dates and times for special meetings and events. By this time, your first half of your 2021 dues should have been paid. Paying your fees in a timely manner is appreciated by the Board, keeps you from being assessed any additional fees or interest, and helps save money for the community. During the month of December, there were 5 sales in Walden Lake and 2 sales in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $285,700 with an average of 16 days on the market. The December sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 4133 Barret Avenue / $235,000 / 1500 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 4303 Longfellow Drive / $241,000 / 1711 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 1304 Sandalwood Drive / $250,000 / 1726 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2804 Sycamore Lane / $264,900 / 1888 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 3345 Silvermoon Drive / $300,000 / 2050 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 3316 Silverpond Drive / $309,000 / 2225 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 2910 Spring Hammock Drive / $400,000 / 2908 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car

Currently there are only 6 active listings for sale in Walden Lake with an average list price of $475,300 and an average of 125 days on the market. If you eliminate the two listings that are priced over $725,000, the average list price is $305,700. There are 13 properties Pending Contract with an average list price of $313,446 and an average of 15 days on the market. In 2020, there were 179 sales in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $281,013 and an average of 38 days on the market. In 2021, there were 179 sales with an average price of $269,706 and an average of 38 days on the market. Despite things being so different these days, the HOA wanted to have a holiday event for the Walden Lake children. They held a Santa Drive By event that was really enjoyed by parents and kids alike. Santa was fantastic as always, the children got a goodie bag and we, The Sweet Team with Keller Williams Realty, participated by passing out donut holes and beverages. We all got great feedback from those who participated. There will be vacancies on the HOA Board of Directors this year so if you have ever considered serving on the Board, please watch for a letter of intent package that will be mailed to every home in Walden Lake in February. If you are, please fill out the packet and return to the HOA. It has been hard for the United Food Bank to keep up with the community’s needs in 2020 and will continue this year as well. Our HOA office is a drop off location for non perishable items. Please consider stopping by the office and drop off a few items and they will get them to the food bank for you. Feel free to contact me about any real estate questions or about this article. NSweet@KW.com or 813-758-9586. PAGE

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Community

FOCUS

CHECK IN WITH PLANT CITY

Strawberry Growers embrace new berry variety: ‘Pineberries’ By: Cierra Craft

Sunday Showdown: Plant City bars prepare for Superbowl Sunday By: Cierra Craft On Sunday, February 7, the top two NFL teams will face off in the biggest game of the season, Superbowl LV. This year’s big game is being held just 30 minutes from Plant City in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. Plant City bars are preparing to welcome guests with Superbowl Specials, streaming the game all night long: 1916 Irish Pub, 2309 Thonotosassa Road: 1916 is offering $2 beers and 10 wings for $6.99 during the game. Duke’s Brewhouse, 2212 James L. Redman Pkwy: Duke’s Brewhouse is giving away a high definition big screen TV at the end of the game. The raffle is free to enter. O’Brien’s Irish Pub, 1701 S. Alexander Street: O’Brien’s is hosting a Super Bowl Watch Party with All You Can Drink Mich Ultra, Bud Light, and Shock Top drafts and buffet for $25 PaddyWagon Irish Pub, 1852 James L Redman Pkwy: PaddyWagon will have Happy Hour until 7PM with these drinks for $5: Coronitas, Car Bombs, Sunday Funday shots, and Moscow Mules.

“I was skeptical at first, but as soon as I tried one, I wanted to grow them,” said Matt Parke, fourth-generation strawberry grower at Parkesdale Farms. Parke is talking about the new white strawberry varieties, which have a higher acidity, like that of a pineapple. But the white berries are not a cross breed of a pineapple and a strawberry. “One question I’ve been asked is ‘are the white berries genetically modified?” said Whitaker. “That is not the case, the white berries exist in the wild and bred into the red variety, creating a new variation that we can take to market.” The white berries are the first of their kind to go to market in the U.S. The Florida white berries were produced by the University of Florida, said Vance Whiteaker, a UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences and a strawberry breeder. When it’s ripe and ready to eat, the berries have a slight pink blush on the skin and red seeds. White strawberries are popular in Japan, so when UF got their hands on some of the strawberry seeds in 2012, the pollen was crossed with the Florida variety, creating a new option for Florida farmers. “This berry is a new commodity and a new avenue for us,” said Matt Parke. “These white berries give Florida growers a marketing advantage over Mexico." Parke isn’t the only Florida strawberry producer growing the berries on a trail basis. Astin Farms introduced their Instagram followers to the new berries on December 9. Astin Farms are calling the white berries “Berry De Blanc.” “Introducing our new limited edition berry to the market this season,” said Astin Farms in an Instagram post. “This new berry is classified as a pineberry, and is exclusively grown by Florida strawberry growers. We cannot wait for y’all to try them.” Parkesdale and Astin both are packaging the berries in a 10-ounce single layer in a clamshell. Whitaker says that in the 2021-2022 growing season, he expects the white berries will have higher acreage as they gain popularity. “I see a variety of uses for these new berries,” said Whitaker. “I see it being something chefs enjoy in specialty food industries, creating unique uses. These white berries will be awesome for a white wine sangria or decorations on baked goods.” PAGE

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FRESH BEEF IS ALWAYS BETTER

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2021 FL STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL

Queens Scholarship Pageant WRITTEN CIERRA CRAFT PHOTOS BY DEANNA HURLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Thirty-two beautiful and talented young women will compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Scholarship Pageant on Saturday, January 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Grimes Family Agricultural Center at the festival grounds. The ladies will be judged as they model casual wear, business attire and formal dress. Each contestant must present a 30-second commercial for one randomly selected local business, as well as respond with poise to an on-stage question. The judges will be tasked with narrowing the field from 32 to the top 10 contestants, and then selecting the 2021 Queen, First Maid and three court members. The Queen, First Maid and court members will receiving scholarships, presented by the Plant City Lions Club. Additionally, the judges will be tasked with selecting Miss Congeniality, who will also be awarded a scholarship from the Lions Club. Tickets to attend the pageant can be purchased at the Florida Strawberry Festival Administration Office, Walden Lake Car Wash, Regions Bank for $15 per ticket. Support these wonderful young women by attending the pageant at 2508 Oak Avenue, Plant City, FL 33563. PAGE

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CONTESTANT #1

VALERIE KELLEY

CONTESTANT #5

CONTESTANT #7

CONTESTANT #9

CONTESTANT #10

CONTESTANT #13

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CONTESTANT #6

EMMA LIVINGSTON

JESSICA JOHNSON

CONTESTANT #3

KATE TURNER

JADA RAMSEY

JORDYN LEATHERS

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CONTESTANT #2

EMMA FUTCH

DAISY DUKE

CONTESTANT #14

VIRGINIA WALLNÖFER

CONTESTANT #4

HAYLEE CHRISTOPHER

CONTESTANT #8

KALEI PAAT

ELIZABETH WEST

CONTESTANT #11

CONTESTANT #12

GRACE HARRIS

CONTESTANT #15

CHERISH GLENN

ASHLEY LANG

CONTESTANT #16

NAOMI DONNELL


CONTESTANT #17

MCKENNA JORDAN

CONTESTANT #21

MCKINLEY BAKER

CONTESTANT #25

KATIE PHILLIPS

CONTESTANT #29

BIANKA MAKEROFF

CONTESTANT #18

MADISON DAVIS

CONTESTANT #22

MORGAN NOLAN

CONTESTANT #26

MAKAYLA MAKEROFF

CONTESTANT #30

AVERY SURRENCY

CONTESTANT #19

CONTESTANT #20

CONTESTANT #23

CONTESTANT #24

KELLIEANNE KIRKLAND

BRYNNE MURPHY

CONTESTANT #27

SAILOR ULLRICH

CONTESTANT #31

ANNABELLE SALVESON

CASEY WILLIS

EMILY LITTLE

CONTESTANT #28

BROOKLEN MOSLEY

CONTESTANT #32

DORALICIA CARRANZA PAGE

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to sell at the Florida Strawberry Festival. That year, I won first place in the mild category. I entered the next two years and won once again. What is your favorite part of the event? That’s hard to say. I do think talking and having fun with the other competitors, and seeing all the people that come out for this event. What can people look forward to at this year’s event? We have several new chili competitors. We also have a local dance school and karate club coming to perform. What other Plant City organizations are you involved in? I’m involved in the Lions Club. I also like to support other clubs like Friends of the Park and Unity in the Community. I will help cook BBQ with my good friend Brent Myers.

People of Plant City

Frank Cummings By Emily Topper

I

t’s a cooler month in Plant City, but this year’s social calendar is already heating up. The Plant City Chilifest Cookoff returns to the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30. The event, hosted by the Arts Council of Plant City, is an annual favorite for event organizer and Walden Lake Car Wash owner Frank Cummings.

I’ve worked in Plant City for the last 10 years and lived here for the last three years. My wife, Kelli, is a Plant City girl. I first came to Plant City 12 years ago. At the time, I was in a high-stress job and had a heart attack. I took some time off, and one day a friend brought me to Pig Jam. That’s how I found the town and the car wash. I thought it was a stress-free job.

How long have you lived in Plant City? How long have you worked for Walden Lake Car Wash?

How did you first get involved with Chilifest? It was three years ago. I entered the mild chili I was making for the Plant City Lions Club

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Where are your favorite places to eat, shop or visit in Plant City? I have several favorites and I like to support all of them, especially if they are Mom & Pop places that give back to the community or hire people with special needs. Some favorites are Fred’s, Nick’s, Wooden Spoon, Hungry Howie’s, Krazy Kup and Roots. What’s something people may be surprised to learn about you? I’m 64 and can’t swim, but love boating. I’m also working on restoring a 1966 Ford Mustang with 34,000 original miles. When you aren’t volunteering, what are your hobbies and interests? Church on Sunday, family time and getting away for a long weekend. What are you most looking forward to in 2021? Planning my retirement.


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Did You Know?

Dr. Scotty Huang: From Taiwan to Plant City By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives, Inc.

A

merica is known as a country of immigrants and Plant City has been an example of that since its early years. Today, Plant City consists of people from many countries who make up Plant City’s social and economic structure. One of these is Dr. Shich Chieh Huang, known as Dr. Scotty. Dr. Scotty Huang, his wife Hsiu, and their family have enjoyed living in Plant City for the past 48 years. His story is one of the stories about immigrants to Plant City who make up its social and economic fabric. Dr. Huang landed in Brooklyn, New York, a young physician from Taiwan, in 1964, furthering his medical education and beginning a long trip that would land him in Plant City, Florida, eight years later. Born in 1935 and raised in Changhwa, Taiwan, Huang excelled in academics and at the age of 19 was admitted to the best medical school in Taiwan – National Taiwan University, College of Medicine. On-campus he met one of the most intelligent and lovely young women, Hsiu Yun Chen, a student at the School of Pharmacy. They were married in 1960. Completing his medical school program in 1961, Huang served in the Taiwanese Army as a 2nd Lt. at a medical facility 1961-1962, followed by a residency program in Obstetrics at Provincial Taichung Hospital until 1964. He then set sail for the U.S.A. In Brooklyn, NY, Huang completed additional training 1964 – 1966 and, with Hsiu and sons, moved to Pottsville, Pennsylvania, working for Good Samaritan Hospital until 1967. It was here that he adopted the name “Scotty” so as not to have “Dr. Huang” confused with “Dr. Hung” at the same medical facility. He has kept it ever since. Dr. Scotty Huang sought additional

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training in pediatrics and moved to Phoenix in 1967, completing that program in 1969. Huang then worked in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, and Man, West Virginia, where he served as a community pediatrician until 1972. He then heard from a former colleague that Plant City, Florida, needed a pediatrician. That was Dr. Scotty Huang’s calling. He moved to Plant City, Florida, in 1972 where he was greeted by Dr. Hal Brewer and never looked back. Dr. Brewer set Dr. Huang up with an office and, being the only Pediatrician in Plant City, he became very busy – especially since Dr. Brewer sent him a steady flow of patients. In 1974 Huang purchased a nearby lot, constructed an office building, and set up his private practice as Plant City’s Pediatrician. Hsiu Yun Huang, who had a degree in pharmacy and had taught biochemistry, was his most loyal assistant when needed. Her primary concern, however, was raising their family, to whom she was firmly devoted. Dr. Scotty was known for putting in long hours beyond what was normally expected. His passion was taking care of his patients— whatever that took. In 1975 a malpractice suit was filed against him; he had done everything right and did not understand the legal action. During the deposition, he was asked if he had published anything. Why, he thought, would publishing have anything to do with his patient care? Ultimately the case was dismissed but Huang began to think about publishing. And publish he did. “Dr. S. C. (Shich Cheih) Huang” wrote several scientific papers, three of which were successful in being published. His first was in the April 1979 issue of Clinical Pediatrics. It drew praise from the editor, “How unusual it was for a busy pediatrician in a small rural town

to take the time and effort to write a scientific article and report an interesting finding that he has noticed in practice. We would like to encourage other pediatricians to follow this lead.” His articles drew requests for reprints from doctors in the USA and from distant countries. He is still proud of the responses to his articles in that they reflect the advancement of his profession. Along with other suggestions from Dr. Hal Brewer, Dr. Scotty joined the Kiwanis Club of Plant City in 1974 and remained a member through 2020, participating in the many programs for kids. He loved delivering backpacks stuffed with school supplies when school began and bags of toys to the kids at Christmas. Scotty and Hsiu Huang have four sons, all of whom graduated from Plant City High School: David (1978), Greg (1980), Robert (1984), and Fred (1988). Scotty and Hsiu were fond of tennis and their sons all excelled at the sport, being standouts on the Plant City High School tennis teams. They were also exceptional in academics and all are in the medical or educational professions today. Dr. Huang retired from his private practice in 1997 and continued to participate in his Kiwanis Club programs and began years of volunteerism. He joined Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LVIM), 2001 to 2019, and has served over 2,000 hours. He received the Lakeland Physician of the Year Award in 2011. He also volunteered regularly at local Plant City schools. Unfortunately, Hsiu Huang suffered a stroke in 2019. Dr. Scotty and Hsui Huang have since moved to Tallahassee, near their son Dr. David Huang.


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Spotlight

Cooking Up

Good Deeds: Sharon Moody talks Cooking, Growing Up, & Giving Back Born and raised in Plant City, Sharon Moody says it was the love and values instilled in her by her parents that shaped her into the person she is today. Growing up, her mom taught her how to cook, be a good mother, and be a citizen in the community. Moody is known around town for her giving heart, as a board member of several civic organizations, including Kiwanis Club, Unity in the Community, and founder of the Plant City Black Heritage, Inc. It’s these positions- and more- where Moody can bless the community. Whether presenting a check to Plant City High School for new technology or collecting food for families suffering from food insecurity, if there is a need in the community, Sharon Moody tries to meet it. During the holiday season, Moody is busy orchestrating the Christmas Parade and touching the lives of youth in our community through charitable giving. But this time of year, Moody is busy organizing the Plant City Black Heritage Educational and Cultural Festival comprising a Banquet Gala, Youth Summit, Gospel Concert, and Jazz Festival. Slated for February 12-14, 2021, Moody sat down with FOCUS to talk about her life and the opportunity for the Plant City community to honor the cultural history of African American’s nationally and locally at the annual Plant City Black Heritage Festival. PAGE

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COOKING UP GOOD DEEDS

You were born and raised here in Plant City, and you touched briefly on your upbringing in previous FOCUS interviews. Can you share with our readers what your childhood was like growing up here? I am a native of Plant City, as well as my mother and father. I grew up in public housing on Maryland Avenue in Plant City. My parents earned an honest living working in fields to

State of Florida Department of Revenue, and the Executive Director of Plant City Boys and Girls Club.

provide a living for my siblings, Emmett, Jr, Terry (deceased), and me. We had a humble upbringing with love and compassion for each other and our community. My mother was a great cook and made sure that her family was well fed each and every day. Later, during our childhood, my parents bought a house on Ohio Street for the family. My early education started at Lincoln Elementary School, grades 1st 6th. One of my first honors was to be crowned as the class Queen of Lincoln Elementary School 1968-1969. During that time, we had to write an essay for my classmates to vote on to select their Queen, and fortunately, I won. After finishing elementary school, I attended Marshall High School and, again, was chosen as the Homeroom Queen in for 7th-grade class and played the clarinet in the school band.

want to be treated. I grew up sharing and caring for others and lending a helping hand whenever or wherever my help was needed. We didn’t have much, but we shared what we had with our neighbors, family, and friends. Growing up during segregation didn’t make us bitter or selfish because we had love and our Christian faith to protect us from the evils of a segregated society.

Growing up in a segregated city, we weren’t allowed to go in certain areas in the city. As a child, I remember having to go to many of the establishment’s backdoor to receive services. My family was very connected to the community due to my father’s skills in repairing cars for many people in the community, and my mother was hired as a maid who cared for many of the elite people in the area. Our love for the community allowed me to become more engaged by positively giving my service. My family was faithful members of the Baptist church and made sure that their children were raised as Christians. After graduating from high school, I was employed as a teacher assistant with the Hillsborough County school board, a bank loan officer, the

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You mentioned growing up in segregation. Did these experiences shape your life's work to giving back to the community, and if so, how? Yes. Early in life, I was taught to treat others as I would

You are known for your leadership and your giving nature. Where do you think this desire to serve came from? Were you influenced by your parents or another mentor? Or an experience in your life? All of my values and work ethics were instilled in us by our parents. Overall, l would say that most of my inspirations and aspirations were shaped by our parents’ teachings as great role models who taught us to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t do. They also taught us to look at the bigger picture of life and never let anyone have complete control over your mind and destiny. With these teaching embedded in my life, I am inspired to answer the call by serving my community to the best of my ability. Who do you consider your hero and why? My mother was my hero and I learned many lessons from her, including cooking and being a good parent and citizen. She was a very kind and honest person who never took anything or anyone for granted. Without my parents’ untiring love and support that shaped my life, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.


In 2017-2018, Sharon Moody served as President of the Plant City Kiwanis Club. She awarded Gil Gott with the title of Kiwanian of the Year.

At the 2019 Plant City Black Heritage Gala, Sharon Moody (far left) presented Star Distribution the Humanitarian Award for their contributions to the Plant City community. PAGE

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COOKING UP GOOD DEEDS

Let's also talk about your involvement in Kiwanis. How did you get involved with Kiwanis Club to begin with? I got involved in Kiwanis by invitation from a member, James McDaniel, 14 years ago to join. It’s an honor to serve as Vice-Governor of the Florida District of Kiwanis. Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world: “One child and One community” at a time. Kiwanis is a positive organization that displays an important influence in the communities worldwide – so that one day, all children will wake up in their communities and know that someone believes in them, will nurture them, and provide the support they need to thrive. I enjoy giving back to my community by serving disadvantaged children who require dire assistance. I have held several positions in the local organization, i.e., President, Vice President, and Treasurer. Further, I’ve served as Distinguished Lt. Governor (20122013) (2013-2014) for Division 14 and Trustee for the Florida Foundation (2017-2018) (2018-2019) (2019-2020). District Levels as Membership Retention District Chair, Human and Spiritual District Chair (2019 -2020), and BUG/TERRIFIC KID DISTRICT CHAIR (2015-2016). I’ve had the pleasure of chairing the Stuff the Bus, Christmas for Angel, and also I’m the chair of the Citizen of the Year award for 2021. You're also involved with Unity in the Community, which is getting ready for the annual Corvette Raffle. Please share with our readers what Unity does for the Plant City area. I am the current Chair of the Unity Organization. The Unity organization is a non-profit organization whose main goal is raising funds to benefit those in need throughout the Plant City, Florida area. Unity’s primary goals are assisting citizens in dire need and assisting other charitable service organizations in carrying out their objectives to improve the lives of its citizens throughout the Plant City area. The Corvette drive is one of my favorite fundraiser events because I helped organize and facilitate this event for eleven days at the Plant City Florida Strawberry Festival each year. People from all over the world attend this famous celebration in Eastern Hillsborough County for over ninety years. PAGE

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You were the founder of the Plant City Black Heritage festival and celebration gala. What inspired the creation of these events? Can you give us the 2021 event details? Yes, I had a vision and presented my ideas to a few ladies in the community, and we stepped out on faith and formed the Plant City Black Heritage Celebration in 2003. What inspired us to create this event during Black History Month in February was to raise awareness of African American culture, talents, and arts in the community. Realizing that many great men and women locally and nationally who had gone before us and had made great sacrifices for a cause that they valued more than life itself, our focus was to bring awareness and appreciation for black history to encourage diversity in the community. What event is your favorite of the Plant City Black Heritage Celebrations? In planning the three-day celebration, it was only befitting to kick off the event with the Black Heritage Banquet Gala to bring awareness to our mission, which clearly states its purpose for inclusion and diversity within the community. We have profiled keynote speakers from different professions and backgrounds who shared their experiences and visions for a brighter future for all citizens to prosper. The Theme for 2021 is “Remembering The Past, Shaping The Future” - The Keynote speaker will be WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil. Why is it essential for all Plant City residents to celebrate Black history and heritage? Without the knowledge and struggles of our past history, we can’t move forward to create a better future for all people. Therefore, The Plant City Black Heritage Celebration aims to bring awareness of our history, whereby all people can enjoy and celebrate each other.


SHARON MOODY COOKING, GROWING UP, & GIVING BACK

Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court congratulates Sharon Moody, 2016 Citizen of the Year. L-R are Ashtyn Steele, Alex Aponte, First Maid Morgan Gaudens, Sharon Moody, Queen Haley Riley and Ashlyn Yarbrough

Sharon Moody loves to cook and often serves those in need through her cooking, as well. So we’ve got some questions for her about being in the kitchen: What is your favorite dish to make and why? My favorite dish is preparing my mother’s homemade dressing. I’ve perfected my dish by adding my unique ingredients to round out the taste for a more delicious meal for my family and friends. On another note, I loved to cook chicken and yellow rice during the summer months for the kids at Lots of Hugs Summer Reading Camp. The kids love for me to cook that dish for them. We feed the kids hot meals during the summer months everyday Monday –Friday, and I prepare all the meals. I cook to feed the homeless once a month as well. If you could cook side by side with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? It would be my mother because she prepared her meals with patience to ensure that her dishes were delectable and delicious. I watched her method of adding the right ingredients for taste in preparing her enjoyable and healthy meals.

Each year, Plant City Black Heritage and the DesAimes Social Club hosts the annual Santa Sled Festival. At the 2020 event, Sharon Moody announced families who could come forward and receive free toys, food, and more. During the holiday season, Moody is busy helping families through Santa Sled, Unity in the Community and Kiwanis Club, touching thousands of lives just during the holiday season.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to improve their cooking? Have patience, adding the right combination of seasonings for taste, and take pride in whatever meal that you are preparing. On another note, it could help further your cooking skills by trying a variety of recipes from notable chef’s recipe books on ways to prepare delicious healthy meals. PAGE

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Three Black

Leaders Shaping the Future of Plant City By Cierra Craft

With Black History Month approaching in February, FOCUS has recognized just a few of the incredible leaders in the Plant City community. From civic organizations and volunteers to government officials, these Plant City residents are shaping the future of our city, each in their own way. What ties them together? Each are passionate about making Plant City a better place to work, live, and play. Meet Tai Isha Robinson, Danny McIntyre and Mary Thomas Mathis, as they talk success, our city’s youth, and the future of our small town. Robinson, McIntyre, and Mathis are just a handful of the wonder people at the helm of our city’s leaders.

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Tai Isha R PAGE

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Secretary of Aspire, Volunteer Chair for the Main Street Board, Noon Rotarian, Vice President of Fundraising for Lincoln PTA Share with our readers about your work at the Boys and Girls Club I have been working with Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay for 12 years now and I am still as passionate about the work as the first day I started. I am the Area Director for 10 sites throughout eastern Hillsborough County, three of the sites here in Plant City. We have a traditional club located at 901 S Waller Street, a club at Marshall Middle School and a club at Tomlin Middle School. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club is to enable all young people, especially those that need us the most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Under our three core focus areas, Healthy lifestyles, Academic Success, and Character & leadership we are ensuring that great futures start with us. Our members are taught the importance of giving back. We provide community service opportunities for our members to give back to the same community that is pouring into them. Through our Y.E.S (Youth Employment Services) Academy, we give members opportunities to visit different companies to gain information about potential career paths. Through these relationships, we have members that graduate high school with a job offer. Through our member of the month recognition program, we give members the opportunity to stand out amongst their peers. They have to earn this award by excelling in all the areas of our core focus areas. 98% of the members that attend the Boys & Girls Club graduate high school. The impact that we are making in the lives of our members is benefitting the Plant City Community by preparing our members to become future leaders.

How has your membership in these organizations and your work at the Boys & Girls Club impacted your relationship with Plant City? When I first started working with Boys & Girls Clubs in the Plant City community, I had tunnel vision. I just wanted to help kids. At the time I didn't understand just how vital the support of the community was. I was promoted to go on and work multiple other positions before I was assigned to come back to the Plant City community but instead of being a Club Director, I came back as a Community Impact Director. In this role, I had the opportunity to get more involved in the community, in MY community. It felt like there was this whole other world that I never knew about. All these awesome organizations are doing things that better the community. I knew that I had to get involved. I knew that I wanted to be a part of all the great things that were happening in my community. The more involved I became the more I felt that I needed to be a representative of other people of color. How is your work making a difference in the lives of Plant City citizens? When I first started attending community events, I felt like a fish out of water. Although everyone was supportive and welcoming there just weren’t very many people that looked like me. Within the last decade, I see more People of Color in these spaces. It’s so important for our youth to have positive role models. For them to see people that grew up in their neighborhoods, that come from similar backgrounds doing leadership things in the community. It's important for me to show that you can use your talents to do great things in your community. When I'm out volunteering my time and talents to the community I think about how this will not only affect my children but all children, in the future.

Robinson

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Danny Mc PAGE

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VP of Workforce Development Partners Corporation; member the Plant City Business Advisory Board and Plant City Economic Development Corporation; consultant to the Improvement League of Plant City; Founder and President of iImpactPC For readers who are unfamiliar with iImpactPC, can you share the mission and some of the important work of the group? Our mission is to create community forums and workshops to help educate, enlighten, and 'empower to engage' effectively on issues that impact PC. So, we try to mitigate barriers like anger, fear, hatred, panic, lack of knowledge, lack of trust….and prepare those that are impacted, as well as those having a negative impact to a situation, to effectively engage with one another. My mentor calls it ‘meeting people where they are!

Cooper house lived a young fellow named William Thomas (now Sr.), who faithfully believes “you can’t get to the pie if you ain’t at the table.”So, he volunteers me at every table he thinks I have time to sit at.

I've noticed a lot of work has been centered around youth, whether on the basketball court or through events such as Career Academy. Why is it important to you to help students find their path to success? My generation was led to believe if you were not collegebound, you were somehow a failure. This stigma needs to change. So, we need a paradigm shift to allow our kids to safely exercise both a college-bound and ‘enter the workforce’ post-high school plan. Future Career Academy drives that shift. It introduces you to the local companies in our own backyard that will give you a chance to earn a great living, grow into a career, and investigate small business development as a possible avenue.

You grew up here in PC. How has the city changed? What will the future of PC be like, in your opinion? For me, my’ Plant City’ was between the railroad tracks, where I learned my values about family, running a business, fellowshipping with, and investing in the community. We were in many ways a self-contained, thriving community. Not much of it has survived. Not the businesses. Not the Fellowship. Not community investment. We have to find a way to remind people, especially Africa Americans, about how great this city is! We have to give them evidence of it, not simply the hope of it. We have to be intentional about how we attack this issue, through small minority business development, youth leadership development, and teaching people how to be prepared for the growth that is coming. Or we lose that heritage, that legacy for generations to come.

Is there a mentor (past or present) that you look up to or credit for helping shape you? Sam Cooper was my neighbor. He sacrificed so much to make this city a better place. Just down the road from the

As part of that journey, I met Mayor Rick Lott who told me about the all-inclusive vision for the city. He told how it would impact generations to come. So, my active mentors are William Thomas Sr. and Rick Lott. A democrat and a republican, a black man and a white man and both love and believe in this city. I am well balanced.

Is there anything I haven't asked you that you want people to know about you or your work? Join us. Activate your issue.

cIntyre

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Mary Thom PAGE

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City Commissioner for 21 years; Mayor of the City of Plant City 2013-2014 You've served on our city commission for 21 years and have served as our mayor. Can you share with our readers what initially pushed you to enter into City government? What were your experiences like? Once I graduated from Plant City High School, I attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia. I knew I always wanted to come back to Plant City because of the love of my strong family. My parents served others, my father was a caterer feeding many and my mother was a kindergarten teacher. While at Clark College I was able to participate in our student government and work on several political campaigns. I was able to witness up close and personal again what serving others can and will do to help a community. What is a highlight of your career- is there any projects you've been a part of that you're most proud of? Every project that we have completed over the last 20 years I am proud of. But there are two projects that stand out above all others: The water retention pond on Martin Luther King Boulevard named the Samuel Cooper Park and the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center. Flooding in the Lincoln Park community was extremely crippling therefore the retention pond alleviated the flooding and instead of replacing the recreation center we built a new community center. You've dedicated yourself to our city's youth. Can you share with readers a bit about your experience working in the school district and share why you are dedicated to our community's young people. As a History major, it was important for me to have a window into the past because it would provide an understanding of the present. From my studies, I knew that the youth past and today would be the future of tomorrow. I was able to use History as a vehicle in the classroom to impart wisdom

to students, hoping to inspire them to be the best they could be. Do you have a mentor (past or present) that helped shape you into the person you are today? There were many mentors in my past and present that assisted in shaping me to who I am today. First and foremost, I give honor to my LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST for HIS word. To my parents Willie and Emma Thomas for giving me their unselfish Love, Sacrifices, and Advices, they were the best a child could ever have. In my professional career, there were many, just to name a few: Sadye Gibbs Martin (1st grade teacher), Verdell Jones (8th grade English teacher), Sarah Governor & Barbara Bethel (Educators) just to name a few. You've been on the commission for 21 years and working in education for many decades, drawing on your experience, what do you see for the future of PC? The future of our “smart” city has so much value; a place to live, work, and play. As we all mature the projects that are in progress and those that will come will provide benefits and experiences to improve the quality of life for all citizens. You were born and raised here in PC. Can you share with readers a little about your life growing up here and how those experiences have shaped your career? Growing up in Plant City with my family’s lifestyles and traditions of loving me unconditionally, praying for me and with me, encouraging and nurturing my gifts which definitely played an essential role in my quest for quality education. My parents made it clear in our family where education is fundamental the absence of a college degree was unacceptable. There are many things that inspire my being and my approach to life, this lifetime of experiences has shaped the way I speak, present myself, and the way I think.

mas Mathis

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Brown’s Jewelers BY CIERRA CRAFT PHOTOS BY BROWN’S JEWELERS

V

alentine’s Day is one month away and jewelry is one of the most popular gifts given on this day of romance and love. But before purchasing fine jewelry, it’s important to choose a jeweler. Many will flock to department stores and national chains, but none will compare to locally-owned and operated independent jewelers, such as Brown’s Jewelers. Owned and operated by Rusty Brown, Brown’s Jewelers has served as a name you can trust in fine jewelry, watches, and repairs for 35 years. At Brown’s Jewelers, customers will be greeted with customer service and jewelry expertise. The team at Brown’s will walk customers through everything they need to know about the particular piece before purchasing, giving one-on-one attention in selecting the right item.

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REPAIRING PIECES YOU LOVE Brown's Jewelers specializes in fine jewelry, custom designs, and affordable repairs. The staff is happy to look at your fine pieces that need repair – whether 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. 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.”

Whether you’re purchasing a diamond engagement ring or a watch for him, Brown’s Jewelers handpicks and inspects each item before it’s in the case. At big-box retailers, jewelry is mass-produced and therefore, lower quality. At Brown’s Jewelers, customers will find a selection of one-of-a-kind pieces and Brown’s offers custom jewelry creation. 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.” If you want to create a custom piece of jewelry, choose Brown’s Jewelers to create a beautiful personal statement of love this Valentine’s Day.

ONE-OF-A-KIND PIECES MADE WITH PRIDE 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

1705 Jim Redman Pkwy, Suite G | Plant City, FL 33563-6900 | 813-754-2360 plantcityjewelers.com | brownsjewelers@yahoo.com

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#T3280918 1003 W. MAHONEY STREET, PLANT CITY “Charm and Character” doesn’t begin to describe this updated 1925 historic home located on a brick street in the Historic District of Plant City. This four-bedroom, PLUS bonus room that could be used as a man cave, office, playroom or fifth bedroom and three-bath home has 2513 heated square feet. From the moment you arrive, you will be amazed at the oversized lot, the landscaping, the oversized two-car garage with workshop, and the fact the exterior of the home is covered with Hardie Board. 
 
 As you enter the front door you are going to notice the large open family room with wood flooring and crown moldings with french doors that lead to the back screened porch. The warm glow of the wood-burning fireplace in the family room lets you know you have arrived home. Many extras include Split bedroom plan, newer roof, and A/C, alarm with three cameras, wiring and plumbing updated, cement siding (Hardie Board), porch with attached open deck, irrigation system with an extra meter to keep utilities lower. 
 Located a short walk from quaint downtown restaurants, shops, library and train museum. Don’t hesitate to call and make an appointment to see this home today!!!

SATURDAY January 30th, 2021 1 11 AM to 1 PM CHILI TASTING $5.00 PP HOSTED BY THE ARTS COUNCIL OF PLANT CITY

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RISING STAR

kendall

Long By Katie Hamilton

Kendall Long is a junior at Durant High School and has been playing Lacrosse for three years. Her interests in the sport grew which led her to recently begin playing on a club team as well. Under her coach, Tanya Rutizer Skjefte, Kendall has been able to make huge improvements and is quoted saying, “I was second string, and now I am able to start the game.” For many teenagers who participate on a team, it may be hard to find where they fit in; however, Long found no issue. “My team is like a big family and we are always there to support each other in life or even on the field,” said Long. With her great support from her teammates, Long also receives her biggest inspiration from her mother. Long explains this simply, “My biggest supporter would be my mom because she is always there to push me harder to achieve my goals in life.” Planning for her future, Long aspires to attend the University of Tampa and then continue to establish an interior design company throughout the Tampa Bay area. While Long’s future is bright, she will miss her times in high school stating, “The things I will miss are the memories being created every day, even if it is doing a cool lab in science or just laughing too hard at lunch with my friends. Every day there is always a new memory is created.” With everything that has happened throughout the past year, the lives of many students were forced to change because of the cancellation of homecoming, pep rallies, and the delay of sporting events. The effects of these cancellations were widespread. All of this left Long with some strong feelings. She explained, “The pandemic has affected my everyday life by not being able to see most of my friends every day because most of them chose to do E-Learning for their own reasons; however, it is the social interactions that I miss most which have affected my everyday life.” PAGE

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Plant City’s newest

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Team of the Month

Plant City High School Cheer Team By Katie Hamilton

T

he Plant City High School cheer team is not your average cheer, team. Compared to the stereotype of the ditsy cheer girl, this team is 10’s across the board when it comes to involvement in their school. From honors classes, community service, and school clubs, onlookers will always see the girls active in their surroundings. Not only are they well rounded, but they have the opportunity for states this year due to their impeccable season. Preparing for their upcoming season, the girls practice every day after school from 3:30 to 6:30 alongside their coaches Coach Snapp and her two daughters Coach Sara Kate and Coach Skotti. Callie Smith, a junior on the team states about the coaches, “While the practices are long and enduring, they truly are our biggest cheerleaders from the sidelines.” Coming from an all honors and AP student, Hayley Geiger, a sophomore, describes the struggles of being a varsity athlete and a strong student with the statement, “Our season is definitely different than what it was without Covid;

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we missed almost 3 months of competitions, but we are really glad to have a season during these times. Due to the loss of practice time, we have practiced extra hard, and it can be trying, but we all do it because we are dedicated to our goals.” This tight-knit team has stuck through it all, from safety precautions on and off the mat, the girls still managed to have an exciting time. For example, taking socially distanced trips to the beach, grabbing an outdoor lunch from Sonic with matching Slurpee's, and getting ready for “Comp Day” together. Madison Hood, a junior, explained, “I would say that what makes our team so special is the special bond we have. All of us are truly the best of friends, and we all love working hard together each and every practice.” It is truly profound how even as teenage girls, their bond is stronger than a diamond. Many of the memories made on

this team will be a core memory of good times even during the chaos of 2020. For Bailey Brock, a sophomore, one of her most powerful memories with the cheerleaders was when she went with her teammates to the UCA Nationals last year, she explained, “Everyone stayed in the same house together and stayed up laughing almost all night-that one is definitely one of the memories that can always make me smile.” Even with the strong season, the bittersweet feeling of it coming to an end could be difficult for any girl, but even more so- seniors. Daisy Duke states, “This year is definitely different. From starting late to having to quarantine mid-season and seniors missing their last football game, going into this year we knew how much harder we had to work to achieve our dream season. And just by making it to states, we did it.”


3012 James L Redman Parkway Plant City, FL 33566

(813) 707-0520

2020

WINNER

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Katura Stansberry Clinic Manager with her Best Friend “REX”

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Meet the

Maker: Karen Wycka

Pottery Teacher, Newsome High School By Heather Davis

I

t is not always the case that you get to hear a teacher proclaim wholeheartedly that they love their job everyday. Especially during these trying and demanding times for our teaching staff. However for Newsome High Pottery teacher, Karen Wycka, her effusive passion and love for teaching her craft shines from her soul. Mrs. Wycka began as an Art Teacher for Newsome High over seventeen years ago. After experiencing a serious hit and run accident her life took a change in direction and led her to a path of teaching. Wycka describes this life change as unexpected and not what she planned, but also the best thing to ever happen to her. For the past ten years she has been teaching her students only pottery and has designed the pottery program from the ground up. In 2019 Karen was awarded the honor of being named Art Teacher of the Year for Hillsborough County. As a teacher, Mrs. Wycka has lead the way and pioneered an art program in pottery that has influenced the minds and hearts of her students. This past year in particular she has put extra care and attention into creating an art program that is both therapeutic and a release for feelings and emotions. Anyone who enters Wycka's class will not only learn pottery but will also learn life skills such as patience, planning and attention to detail. Some students have expressed to Mrs. Wycka that coming to her class was the reason they came to school that day. What a powerful and positive influence! Music is also a part of the learning process since as Wycka puts it "we jam out" during class. Mrs. Wycka summed up her whole teaching experience with tears in her eyes as she stated, "at the end of the day I get to teach pottery, listen to music, and have cool conversations." "This is not what I planned, but I love it!"

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Commercial Insurances: Aetna • Avmed • Blue Cross Blue Shield Cigna • Humana • MultiPlan • United Health Care Medicaid: Humana Medicaid • Simply Healthcare • Staywell United Health Care Medicaid • Sunshine Health

E

INE

OM

1N 202

IAN

DIATRIC

BEST PE

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.

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, offering quality healthcare.

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Leaders in

Faith Pastor Kevin Wilson By Cheryl Johnston

K

evin Wilson serves as Worship Arts Pastor at Plant City Church of God, under the leadership of Pastor Jeffrey B. Robinson. Growing up in a Pastor’s home, Kevin found his own relationship with Jesus at age 10 during youth camp. While a teenager, he began to feel drawn toward church work, specifically youth and music ministry. After he and Julie married, they served 10 years as youth and music pastors before focusing solely on Music Ministry. He explains: “Music has been woven through the tapestry of our life. For the past 15 years, worship has been our heartbeat. We have a long history of using our gifts in churches across the U.S. as well as in camps, conferences, workshops, etc. Our children, Jaedyn and Kadence, are also very musical and are developing their own gifts. Can you describe a defining moment in your own faith walk? In my early 20s, I discovered the God who created the universe was not distant as I had viewed Him before, but that He actually cared for me personally – and loved ME enough to sacrifice His only Son to die for me. That He considered me priceless and made a way to excuse me from the penalty of all I’d done wrong. He offered me the hope and promise of life with Him. Hope of an earthly life where He never forsakes me, and a promise to live with Him in Heaven forever after this life ends. He loved me enough to adopt me into His family as a son when I chose to accept Him as my Savior and follow Him. In that moment, He became intimately involved in the details, because He loves me and wants to be in relationship with me. What brought you to PCCOG? In 2018, we stepped away from full-time church employment to develop our coaching and consulting ministry - Doorkeeper Ministries, which supports churches and leaders in developing and strengthening their worship and first impressions departments. Last Spring, Pastor Jeff invited us to interview for the Worship Arts Pastor position here. After much prayer and several Zoom interviews, we visited in July and fell in love with the church and this area. We felt God directing our steps from Maryland to Florida and are confident He placed our family here to begin a new season of partnering with the amazing PCCOG leadership team.

Tell us what you love about your work? Our ministry is based on Psalm 84:10 – ‘Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…’ I am passionate about pure, intimate, authentic, and uninhibited worship. My goal and vision is to serve as a doorkeeper - propping open the doors of heaven through worship to welcome the lifetransforming glory of God. In His presence, things change in a way they never can in the natural. I also enjoy teaching, coaching, mentoring and helping others discover and develop the giftedness God has placed inside of them. Our family has been blown away by the warmth and welcoming atmosphere in this congregation. I love the diversity of cultures and multiple generations worshipping together. With so many opportunities for every age, EVERYONE is made to feel welcome. How would you encourage folks today? This truth is always foundational...but especially in our current climate, a personal relationship with Jesus offers hope and peace that can't be found anywhere else. Connect with a full gospel church to stay strengthened and encouraged as you grow in your faith. Through relationship, it’s easy to share lifestyle priorities and passions in an exchange of conversation. Our faith in Jesus naturally flows as we invest in growing friendships.” Stay connected and be part of a community that learns, grows, worships, and faces life’s challenges and celebrations together. This year has isolated us in so many ways, but we need each other. So, social distance, but be together in any way you can. We were created for relationship. Everyone needs a place to belong...even during a pandemic. How do you enjoy spare time and life in Plant City? As a family man, spending time with those I love most is great fun. We enjoy playing games, traveling, and discovering new places and things. For exercise, I pound out my frustrations on the racquetball court and I love to create - painting, pottery, food. We are foodies so we enjoy both creating and consuming a beautiful spread! And the strawberries, of course! I love the feeling of a small town with the conveniences of a city. The kindness of people has been a heartwarming constant. Finally, I'm enjoying the retirement of my winter hats and gloves!! Plant City Church of God at 2103 Mud Lake Road welcomes all to Sunday service at 10:15AM and classes for all ages on Wednesdays at 7PM. Visit plantcitycog.com to learn more.

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WE WERE NOMINATED FOR THE BEST OF PLANT CITY FOR THE

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD! VOTE FOR US! CAST YOUR VOTE AT: WWW.BESTOFPLANTCITY.COM PAGE

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SPONSORED BY

Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens

How wonderful to receive a gift from a friend. As happy as we are with a gift, it’s the thought behind it that gives us lift, making us so very keenly aware that there are those that truly care. But an even more wonderful thing is when we are on the giving side. Nothing compares with what comes our way, as we reach out a hand to others each day. We find it’s not hard to believe, “It’s better to give than it is to receive.”

W

hen I was a little girl, three sweet ladies led my fourth grade Sunday School class at the First United Methodist Church: Mrs. Maida Pou, Mrs. Mary Sinnett, and Mrs. Mary Gardner. Those three ladies were so full of life, they worked so well together, and they were always trying to teach our class the importance of loving others. Every Sunday our class would sing songs, have Bible Lessons, work on special projects, have important discussions, and open and close with prayers. When it was holiday time or a member of our church became ill, or was in the hospital or nursing home, our class would work on special crafts that would be presented to them on our behalf in an effort to spread love and cheer. I remember vividly our Christmas Sunday School project of 1972: “Happy Face Apples”. Mrs. Pou, Mrs, Sinnett, and Mrs. Gardner brought in bags of big red apples, life saver candies, marshmallows, gum drops, and wooden toothpicks and placed them in the center of the Sunday School table. When we walked in our classroom that Sunday morning, we thought we were going to have a grand party with all those goodies. Once we were all seated around the table the ladies explained we were going to make “Happy Face Apples” for our

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members who were sick or elderly. We were so excited. We polished those apples and then made eyes, ears, noses, lips, and even funny hats with those candies. Needless to say we were very proud of our creations. I can also remember my Girl Scout troop going to visit the residents and staff of the Forest Park Nursing Home, located on the corner of Plant Avenue and Oak Street. We got all dressed up in our uniforms and went from room to room sing Christmas Carols and hand out Danish Butter Cookies. Our troop also collected canned goods, toys, and money for the needy. As kids we felt we had done the right thing and our hearts were full of joy. Today you can look on Social Media like Facebook and see where people are doing the right thing by reaching out to others with love and compassion. I saw where Plant City residents: David and Susan Edison took their two daughters Peyton and Allie Mae down to Sarasota for the weekend to cook for and serve the less fortunate. They as a family got up early in the morning and set up tables and chairs, rolled silverware in napkins, cooked food, and served the many people lined up for a hot Christmas meal. They sat with the people, shook their hands, and shared positive words of hope. It made me cry to see that David and Susan Edison are such good people and that they are teaching their daughters to be good people, too. I saw where several girls I grew up with like: Marci Frolich Wiggins, Susie Brobst Kimbel, Carol Fritzke Sapp, and Cindy Thayer Merrill, along with their children, their grandchildren, and their spouses like: Summer Merrill Rains, Crystal Wiggins Brown (a former Tampa Bay Lightning Cheerleader and up and coming model) along with her husband Cliff Brown (a rising recording artist), along with friends and family members (which made up a group of about 25 people) went to The Health Center of Plant City on Wilder Road and sang Christmas

WELLS MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME 813-752-1111

carols and visited with the many residents, staff members, and guests. They took that nursing home by storm with love, laughter, fellowship, and song! What a wonderful outpouring of compassion for others! And then I saw this…posted by Layla Keeler Drawdy on Facebook. “Good Morning on this eve of Christmas Eve! If you are out there reading this and you don’t have Christmas plans and don’t want to be alone, you need help, food, a gift for your kids, here’s your sign…please message me. We aren’t rich and we do our best, but we will share whatever we have. Please know God loves you and He hears even the silent prayers. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed; this can be totally confidential!” WOW! WOW! WOW! How selfless is that? What a kind and loving person! I hope the people I’ve mentioned do not mind me writing about them in this article. It seems we hear so much negative stuff in the world, and I felt so overwhelmed when I saw so much good coming from so many people that I just had to say something. The truth is: “Money can’t buy you love”. A holiday is about the time spent together with friends and family. It is about gifts that come from the heart, and it is about the thousands of years of tradition that mark the holiday season. May the New Year bring an abundance of amazing opportunities, beautiful moments, and joyful experiences. May your positive actions and attitude inspire others. May you be brave enough to take on and overcome rewarding challenges. May you find yourself in high spirits and excellent health. May you love with all your heart and find peace in even the most turbulent of times. May the love you give always find its way back to you multiplied. And may you forever be filled with the hope and strength necessary to make your dreams a reality.


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The Back Nine Golf. Eat. Drink. BY CIERRA CRAFT

7331 US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland, FL 33809 (863) 603-3700 www.thebackninelakeland.com @thebackninelakeland Mon- Thurs 11AM to 10PM Friday & Saturday 11AM to 11PM Sunday 11AM to 8PM Cash, Debit, & All Major Credit Cards Accepted

F

ourth-grade teachers, Ethan & Jenna Smith, are residents of North Lakeland and saw a need for a place that offers delicious food, energizing entertainment, and great hospitality north of Interstate 4. The Smiths fulfilled that need by opening The Back Nine- an eatery with golf simulators at 7331 US 98 North in the Northside Village Plaza. The Back Nine is at the corner of US Hwy. 98 N. and Duff Rd., behind the MidFlorida Credit Union. The Back Nine is Lakeland’s first and only indoor golf center. With three golf simulators, golfers, from beginners to experienced, get to play on over 100+ golf courses around the world. Golfers are encouraged to bring their own clubs but each rental includes a set of clubs for those without. At The Back Nine, guests come for the golf and stay for the delicious food and drinks. “This idea began five years ago,” said Ethan. “I had just started playing golf and was having a lot of fun. We went to a golf simulator place in Orlando and on the way home we said ‘we got to open something like this in North Lakeland.” The Back Nine features American upscale bar food, with a menu of burgers and other handhelds, flatbreads, and more in a 3,000+ square-foot dining room. The kitchen is run by Executive Chef Brandon Bailey, a rising star in the Polk County culinary scene. Bailey was named the Top Chef of Polk County in 2020, where he competed against 12 other chefs from throughout the county. Brandon and Jenna went to high school together, so when he heard about the Smiths’ plans to open a restaurant, he “interviewed them” for the chef position. Brandon, along with Front of House Manager Sierra Rivera, The Back Nine completed its leadership foursome.

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Baja Shrimp Tacos: Grilled or fried Cajun shrimp tacos, topped with a freshly prepared jalapeno lime slaw. Served with fresh steamed broccoli. $15


Cuban Egg Rolls: Pork layered with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, hand-rolled and deep-fried. Served with a zesty mustard dipping sauce $9

“When I met with Ethan and Jenna, I could see the vision and knew I wanted to be a part of it,” said Chef Bailey. “In designing the menu, I knew I wanted to have staple items but elevate them, and they're a hit. Our kitchen staff has done a great job in ensuring that everything that leaves the kitchen is up to par with what we want to accomplish guest satisfaction." The 20-seat bar is a focal point of the eatery & entertainment venue, The Back Nine serves beer in the bottle, can, or draft, as well as white and red wines. The Smiths say they hope to have a liquor license within a year to begin serving cocktails.

Must-Try Dishes:

Chicken Bacon Ranch Flatbread: $13 Topped with alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, bacon pieces, and drizzled with ranch. Traditional Bone-In Wings: 6 for $8; 10 for $12; 20 for $23 Jumbo chicken wings tossed in our unique selection of sauces and rubs. Choose from The Back Nine’s sauce options: Classic Buffalo, Honey Jalapeno BBQ Sauce, Alfredo, Sweet Teriyaki, Cajun Ranch Dry Rub The “Bogey” Burger: $13 Hand-pattied quarter-pound burger, dressed in your choice of cheese, bacon jam, lettuce, tomato, BBQ mayo on a toasted Brioche bun. Served with the Back Nine’s Par 3 fries. Make it a “Double Bogey” for an additional $4. The kids’ menu, for ages 12 and under, featuring five $6.00 entrees: grilled hot dog, peanut butter & jelly, cheese or chicken quesadilla, macaroni and cheese, and chicken fingers. Each is served with The Back Nine’s signature Par 3 Fries or steamed broccoli, a treat, and a drink. “We have spent so much time developing The Back Nine as a place for people to enjoy themselves, whether it is playing on the simulators or just enjoying a meal,” said Jenna Smith. “We welcome anyone and everyone to come to give it a try, you won't be disappointed!"

His & Hers: Ethan’s Favorite Dish: Baja Shrimp Tacos

Chicken Bacon Ranch Flatbread: $13, Topped with alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, bacon pieces, and drizzled with ranch and the Philly Cheesesteak Dip: $9, Homemade cheese sauce topped with sauteed peppers & onions, and chopped Philly meat, served with toasted pita bites.

Grilled or fried Cajun shrimp tacos, topped with a freshly prepared jalapeno lime slaw. Served with fresh steamed broccoli. $15

Jenna’s Favorite Dish: Cuban Egg Rolls

Pork layered with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, hand-rolled and deep-fried. Served with a zesty mustard dipping sauce $9 PAGE

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Plant City Chilifest Cookoff 11:00AM-1:00PM Mild & Spicy Chilis | Novelty Chilis | People’s Choice Competition Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum @ 102 N. Palmer St Cost: $5 per Person Info: Marsha Passmore @ 813-245-2244

Plant City

Happenings JANUARY

16

Strawberry Classic Cruise-In 3:00PM-6:30PM Classic Cars & Trucks | Food | Vendors Downtown Plant City @ 102 N. Palmer St Cost: Free & Free Car Registration Info: (813) 754-3707

Improv Night 7:00PM-8:30PM Comedy | Family-Friendly Interactive Fun Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J Arden Mays Blvd Cost: Free Info: 813-752-1220 or www.krazykup.com

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Donate Blood 9:00AM-12:00PM Give Blood | Donors Will Receive T-Shirt & Gift Card | Wellness Checkup Hope Lutheran Church @ 2001 N. Park Rd Cost: Free Info: 1-888-9-donate or oneblood.org

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Florida Strawberry Festival Scholarship Queen Pageant 6:00PM Pageant| Florida Strawberry Festival Scholarships Awarded Grimes Agricultural Center @ 2508 Oak Ave Cost: $15 Info: Gail Lyons @ 813-967-6366 or Amy Trinkle @ 813-763-6088

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Drive Up Food Giveaway 6:00PM-7:00PM Line Up No Earlier Than 5:30PM First-Come-First Serve | Drive- Thru Style Hope Lutheran Church @ 2001 N. Park Rd Cost: Free Info: (813) 752-4622

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Pirates Invade Downtown

9:00AM-4:00PM Quilting & Sewing | All Skill Levels Arts & Crafts John Trinkle Center @ 1206 N. Park Rd Cost: $79 Info: (813) 704-4867

5:00PM-9:00PM Food Trucks & Vendors | Pirate Clothing Encouraged | Pirate Treasure and Beads McCall Park @ 100 N. Collins St Cost: Free Info: 813-764-9516

Line Dance Lessons 7:00PM-9:00PM Dancing | Wine & Cider Keel & Curley Winery @5202 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Info: (813) 752-9100

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Keel Farms Wine Run 5k 9:00AM Running & Walking | Family Friendly | Runners Will Receive Race Shirt & Wine Glass Keel & Curley Winery @5202 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: $25 for Runners (Price Goes Up after Dec. 31) | $10 for Spectators & Wine Sampling Info: (813) 752-9100

FEBRUARY

04

Roots Cellars LLC Grand Opening 4:00PM-4:30PM Grand Opening | Wine & Craft Beer Charcuterie Roots Cellars LLC @ 303 S. Collins St Cost: Free Info: 813-754-3707

Embroidery Made Easy

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Food for All “Tailgate” Gala 6:30PM-9:30PM Fundraising| Lawn Games & Cornhole Food & Music Plant City Stadium @ 1810 Park Rd Cost: $100 per Person Info: Leigh Scott @ 813-764-0625 or www.ufbpc.org/food-for-all-gala

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Strawberry Distance Challenge 7:30AM-9:30AM 1 Mile, 5k, 5k Ruck, 10K Medals for All Finishers Walden Lake Polo Fields @ 3035 Griffin Blvd Cost: $25-$40 Registration Fee (Prices Vary Based on Race Selected) Info: 813-719-0244


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b Gallery of Plant City

30th Annual Santa Sled The Plant City Black Heritage and Des Aimes Social Club held the 30th Annual Santa Sled event at Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center. The organizations gave back to families in need for the holidays. Families were given bikes, toys and groceries, blessing them for the holidays.

a

WWE Superstar Titus O’Neal was there to greet families and in partnership with Steve Hurley of Stingray Chevrolet, Justine Fuerst and her family were presented with a 2019 Chevy Malibu.

c

e

a. Santa Sled event chair Sharon Moody poses with Stingray Chevrolet's Steve Hurley and a family who were able to receive some Christmas joy. b. Families were excited to get their Christmas gifts. c. High school volunteers lent a hand and gave out food to families in need. d. WWE Superstar Titus O'Neil (far left) announcing to Justine Fuerst that she and her 3 children (center) received a 2019 Chevy Malibu for Christmas with Steve Hurley (far right). e. (L to R) Stingray Chevrolet's Steve Hurley, Justine Fuerst, Fuerst's children,Titus O'Neil and Sharon Moody pose in front Justine's new car.. f. Stingray Chevrolet Dealer Principal Steve Hurley, Unity in the Comunity Founder Joyce Jordan Hook, WWE Superstar Titus O'Neil, and Santa Sled event chair Sharon Moody pose for a picture PAGE

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Experience the difference 405 S. Kings Ave, Brandon, FL 33511

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813 820 3138 www.re-definebeauty.com

At Redefine Beauty Aesthetics we believe all patients deserve to be treated with honesty and respect and will come to know that our knowledge and expertise will bring the best results. We pride ourselves in making realistic goals and results for our patients to have the best non-surgical outcomes.

Our services include: Injectables (Botox, Xeomin, Dysport, Jeuveau) Fillers (Versa, Voluma, Volbella) Laser Treatements (IPL, Laser Hair Removal, Yag, Skin Resurfacing) Facials Medical Grade Skin Care And more. visit our website for monthly specials

Actual patient. Before and after

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At Redefine Beauty Aesthetics we combine education and experience for superior outcomes. We make each and every person feel and see the difference inside and outside. Come and experience why patients have been trusting Carolyn Agnew ARNP-C, MSN for over 10+ years. She has been a mentor and trainer for her peers, students and other professionals in the industry.

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when treating a heart attack or stroke, time is of the essence. even during these times.

Don’t hesitate when it comes to getting emergency treatment. Even during a pandemic, you still need to be treated immediately if you have an emergency. Debating whether or not to risk going to an emergency room during a heart attack, stroke or other health emergency—waiting even a few extra minutes—could be harmful. That’s why in

all BayCare hospital emergency rooms, patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 are screened and treated in a separate area. This helps keep emergency room patients and our team members safe. So if it’s an emergency, don’t wait. For more information: BayCareEmergencyCare.org

20-1207904-0820

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