Contents Table of
LOCAL: EASTER SUNDAY SERVICE GUIDE
The Resurrection Sunday weekend is a big one for area churches as they celebrate the risen Christ with special services and events. Check out this guide to Easter weekend events.
FOCUS is proud to present the 2021 winners of the Readers’ Choice Awards. Check out the 56 award winners and be sure to show your patronage at these Best of Plant City businesses.
The 86th Annual Florida Strawberry Festival rolled into town March 4 through March 14. Take a look at the agriculture shows, Grand Parade, and other events that made the 2021 event something to remember.
FEATURE: READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
FEATURE: FESTIVAL IN REVIEW
FOCUS PLANT CITY
focusplantcity.com / Issue 20-03/ March 2021
SPOTLIGHT: RAULERSON CASTILLO & COMPANY
Dan Raulerson, Irene Castillo, and their team of CPAs, QuickBook Specialists, and financial advisors are getting serious about tax season as the April 15 deadline approaches. Meet Raulerson, as he gives an inside look at the firm’s navigation of PPP, stimulus payments, and federal income tax season.
BUSINESS: PLANT IT EARTH
Have you seen aliens in your neighborhood? Don’t fret- it’s the team at Plant It Earth. Founded in 2003, Plant It Earth is Tampa Bay’s premier lawn care and pest control company. Learn more about how PIE can make your lawn look out of this world.
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 email@example.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.
BEST OF PLANT CITY
Every year, FOCUS presents the Readers’ Choice Awards, as a way to recognize outstanding small businesses in our city. We open the voting up to our community, so the winners are a reflection of the favorites of Plant City’s citizenry. This past February, we presented the 56 winners with plaques during our 20th Anniversary celebration. In this issue, we highlight the 56 winners, presenting them to you, our readers. Please show these businesses your patronage and support when you shop locally. From best steak to best boutique, we have a category for almost every business. When you need a recommendation for a contractor or a great restaurant, turn to this issue. On the cover, we present Raulerson Castillo & Company, the winner of our Best CPA category for several consecutive years. Dan Raulerson, Irene Castillo, and their team of consultants, CPAs, and advisors are serious about tax season- learn more about how the business is navigating through Coronavirus to guide you through business and personal finances. This month, we also present FOCUS’ Festival in Review, a look back on the Florida Strawberry Festival, bringing you highlights of the agricultural events, concerts, and Grand Parade. Be sure to check out this section as we highlight memories made. February and March sure were an exciting beginning to 2021 for our community. My team and I look forward to what’s to come this Spring. Warmest Regards,
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A Door of Hope Surprises the Aguero Family with Universal Studios Tickets By Jennifer Jordan
On March 8, A Door of Hope, HCSO, and friends came out to celebrate and surprise Darren, Liz, Tregg, and Tess Aguero of Plant City with tickets to Universal Studios. A Door of Hope- a Christ-centered Foster Agency- has been in the Tampa Bay area for 10 years, with the Aguero family being their longest standing foster family, taking over 30 children in need into their home for the past 9 years. When asked how they started fostering, Darren Aguero said: “My wife introduced me to the idea of being a foster family, and it’s something we both fell in love with; each child has their own journey with us, and it’s definitely been an amazing ride.” Due to their commitment, generous hearts, and kind spirits, A Door of Hope -along with Calvary Church- wanted to celebrate the Aguero family not just with Universal Studios tickets, but also balloons, hand-made signs, and goodies for the trip. Development Coordinator with A Door of Hope Sarah Weaver said, “We just wanted to celebrate them and love on them because they have stuck with us the longest and have been a great family to work with and know.” Fox13 also came out to interview the Aguero family, who have lived in Plant City for about 20 years and attend First Baptist Church, with Darren Aguero working at HCSO for 8 years, and Liz Aguero running the household and volunteering in the community. When asked how he felt about the surprise, Darren Aguero stated, “We didn’t see it coming; we just thought Sarah from ADH was going to interview us and the next thing we know we’re hearing sirens. It was quite the surprise.” For more information about A Door of Hope, visit their website at adoorofhope.com or call them at 727-322-7640 PAGE
Bruton Memorial Library Turns a New Page with Upgrades
By Jennifer Jordan
Bruton Memorial Library has been upgrading and updating with the times and has a new look and new inventory. Using funding from CARES Act, the library has new floors, laptop kiosk cubicles, and wacom tablets for art. New books have also been added into the library, with the addition of 300 Spanish-language materials donated from the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative. There is also a new circulation desk which is now located in the center of the library for patrons to check out their material(s), and a new display to advertise the library’s events. The library even has a maximum occupancy sensor at the front door, to alert staff when the room is reaching the 25% capacity established. If a patron is uncomfortable stepping into the library but needs wifi access, the library’s wifi now extends out into the parking lot, so patrons can feel safe and have the internet. Due to COVID-19, all in-person programming is suspended, and the study rooms, reading room, and youth play area are closed. With the restrictions COVID-19 has created, Bruton Memorial Library is now using their social media pages more aggressively, offering virtual story time, a virtual book club, and crafting tutorials. There are also ‘take and make’ kits available for pick up at the library every week that includes children and adult crafts and activities. In the future, the library is getting a 30’ inflatable movie screen to play movies outside. When asked about the new changes, Bruton Memorial Library Director Paul Shaver said, “We wanted to evolve the library and offer more materials, especially electronic materials, to improve the experience of our patrons and make the library more accessible.” The library no longer charges late fees and patrons can check out up to 35 items. A library card is needed to check out materials, however they are free to residents of Hillsborough County. If patrons prefer not to enter the library, they have access to e-books, audiobooks and digital newspapers, magazines, and CDs online. Their website to access online materials is hcplc.org. Bruton Memorial Library is open Monday-Friday from 10AM6PM and is located at 302 W. McLendon St. Come ‘check out’ the new and improved library today.
O’Brien’s Irish Pub Launches New Menu
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By Cierra Craft
O’Brien’s Irish Pub, located at 1701 S Alexander St Suite 112-3, launched a revamped menu comprising salads, burgers, wings, handhelds, and entrees blending Irish fare with American classics. One of the newest menu items receiving great feedback is the Prime Meat A River burger for $14. A half-pound Angus beef patty topped with ovenroasted prime rib, sautéed onions, white cheddar, and a housemade horseradish aioli served on a toasted pretzel bun. The Reuben Cuban is an O’Brien’s twist on an Irish Reuben sandwich. The Reuben Cuban is Corned beef and smoked ham topped with bacon sauerkraut, melted Swiss, pickles, and thousand island dressing then pressed on La Segunda Cuban bread, brushed with butter and pressed until golden. This delicious handheld is $13. Visit O’Brien’s to try these- and many more- new menu items. Open Monday – Tuesday 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., Wednesday- Saturday 11:0 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Your CBD Store Announced New Product Line: Delta-8 Above
McIntosh Preserve is getting a Makeover
By Cierra Craft
By Jennifer Jordan
Your CBD Store, the largest CBD retailer in the U.S., announced on Monday, March 1, the launch of their latest product line called Delta-8 Above by SunMed. The new line combines the brand’s proprietary fullspectrum CBD with Delta-8 THC, a chemical compound found in hemp plants. Delta-8 is very similar to Delta-9 THC, giving users the same relief from stress and inflammation, without the same anxiety-producing high that some can experience with Delta-9 THC. Other products may feature Delta-8 isolate, but SunMed created a cutting-edge product in the industry by combining it with CBD. “Delta-8 can produce total body relaxation, clarity, and focus, geared towards the therapeutic effects of hemp products,” said Your CBD Store Plant City owner Tim Bosko. “This product is definitely best for total body relaxation.” Delta-8 Above is organic and not produced in a lab, making Your CBD Store Plant City the only location in Plant City selling a naturallyderived, organic Delta-8 product. Delta-8 Above is available in tinctures, oral sprays, and gummies. To learn more about CBD, Delta-8 Above or any of Your CBD Store’s products, visit the Plant City location at 2909 James L. Redman Pkwy #7.
McIntosh Preserve- a 363-acre park located at 775 E. Knights Griffin Rd- is currently under a three phase construction project and is receiving a makeover that will include an ADA compliant observation tower, 2.2 miles of trails, a boardwalk, and parking improvements. Purchased in 1998 for $1.1 million by the Florida Communities Trust and the Hillsborough County Environmental Land Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP), it opened in 2015 to the public as a passive park. After a Planning Board meeting held by The City of Plant City on February 24, the City announced that developing the preserve and creating trails that are clear and simple to navigate will attract more residents and tourists. The ADA compliant observation tower will be 30’ tall and will also allow visitors a scenic view of Florida’s nature, by including video viewing at ground level that displays the view at the top of the tower. McIntosh Preserve has also been used for stormwater treatment since 2004, and that area of the preserve is planning to receive improvements. The City of Plant City is hoping to holistically increase the wetlands area to improve the hydrology, mitigate local flooding, and provide recycled water to the wetlands during dry-periods or drought. McIntosh Preserve is set to reopen to the public in May 2021.
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Dover Native Kenzie Wheeler Competing on NBC’s “The Voice” By Jennifer Jordan 22-year-old Kenzie Wheeler, a Dover native and 2016 Strawberry Crest High School graduate, has made his way onto the NBC singing competition show “The Voice”. Wheeler, who was discovered while singing karaoke at the former Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse Grill in Plant City as a teenager, has an album titled Dover that was released in 2018. Winning the Tampa Teen Idol competition in 2016 at Jefferson High School, Wheeler has also opened for Charlie Daniels at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa. With an impressive baritone, Wheeler had the attention of ‘The Voice’ judges. Kelly Clarkson used her one and only block to prevent country music star Blake Shelton from having a chance to bring Wheeler onto Team Blake. Shelton was not only impressed by Wheeler’s voice, but his mullet hairstyle as well. “First of all, he’s got the party in the back, he’s got the shaved sides, but then the rare widow’s peak,” said Shelton. “The rarest of all mullets, this guy is a unicorn. That does not take away from your voice, man.” Singing Keith Whitley’s ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ on the Season 20 premiere of “The Voice,” Wheeler ultimately decided to be coached by Kelly Clarkson. To watch Kenzie Wheeler’s progress throughout the competition, be sure to watch “The Voice” on Monday nights at 8pm ET on NBC. PAGE
South Florida Baptist Hospital Receives National Certification for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation South Florida Baptist Hospital’s pulmonary rehabilitation program was recently nationally certified by the Chicago-based American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). To earn certification, the hospital provided extensive documentation of practices. As the only peer-reviewed accreditation process, AACVPR Program Certification evaluates programs for adherence to the highest standards and guidelines developed by professionals in the field. AACVPR-certified programs are considered leaders in pulmonary rehabilitation because they offer the most advanced practices available and have proven track records of high-quality patient care. Stephanie Steiner, the hospital’s cardiopulmonary and vascular rehab coordinator, said team members took advantage of education opportunities offered in the industry. “We stay up to date on the latest guidelines and education to help our patients get the most out of our programs,” Steiner said. “Our ultimate goal is to be able to help our patients take care of themselves at home and prevent readmissions into the hospital. After working with us, patients graduate with the tools we have provided them, to maintain on their own.” South Florida Baptist Hospital will be up for recertification in 2023.
-Business of the Year Award -Small Business Award -Entrepreneur of the Year Award -Customer Service Award
-Best Community Event Award -Downtown Enrichment Award -City Beautification Award -Community Service Award
Reader's Choice BEST COFFEE Award 7 years running
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Walden Lake Review BY NATALIE SWEET
Plant City Firefighter Jimmy Riley Loses Battle to Brain Cancer, Prompts Changes in Fire Department By Jennifer Jordan On February 24, Jimmy Riley- a 17-year Plant City Fire Rescue Driver Engineer/Paramedic- lost his long battle to brain cancer at the age of 40. Known by those close to him as reliable, selfless, and a servant to his community, Riley worked at the Plant City Fire Rescue from 2004 until his retirement on February 2, 2021. Riley was also an Instructor at HCC, teaching future EMT’s. After being diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in 2018, Riley continued to work until December 2020. Jimmy Riley leaves behind his wife, Kimberly, and daughter, Alyssa. With cancer being one of the leading causes of death in firefighters, there have been changes in procedures at the Fire Department since Riley’s passing, according to Plant City Fire Chief David Burnett. To reduce the possibility of firefighters getting cancer, the changes include enhanced exhaust systems and protective gear. “We’ve changed our standard operating procedures for decontamination,” said Chief Burnett. “We’re buying wipes to wipe ourselves after structure fires.” With firefighters being exposed to hazardous fumes, smoke, and exhaust on a regular basis, it’s crucial that firefighters protect themselves more effectively. On March 27, supporters of Riley are encouraged to attend the Riley Strong Golf Tournament at the Summerfield Crossing Golf Course in Riverview, FL. The proceeds will go to the Riley family and the event is an all-ages event with raffles, kid-friendly activities, and vendors. While Riley may be gone, his spirit and legacy will live on through his family, friends, and co-workers as they continue to be Riley Strong. For further Information on the Riley Strong Golf Tournament, contact Heather Cropper @ 813-625-1507 or Anthony Morejon @ 813-956-8394 PAGE
alden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held virtually the third Monday of each month. You can Livestream or Teleconference the conference by signing in to www. WaldenLake.org. The next meeting is scheduled for April 19 and May 1 at 7:00 PM. Watch the boards at the entries for any special meetings and times. The Walden Lake HOA Annual Meeting is Thursday, April 15th at 7:00 and will be held at the Plant City Church of God at 2103 Mud Lake Rd. Social distancing and masks will be required. It will also be livestreamed by going to www.WaldenLake.org although for best sound quality, attendance is better. There are 4 openings on the Board of Directors this year. You will be getting your letter notifying you of the meeting along with the proxy to vote for new board members. Having food trucks on the 2nd Fridays and last Sundays of each month in Walden Lake at the HOA office/sports complex, has been a big hit with many residents. Happy Ending Food Truck will be here on Sunday, March 28th from 11:00 to 7:00. The Easter Bunny will be at Walden Lake on March 20th from 9:00 to Noon! It will be a drive-in where you will pick up a snack bag and drink boxes or water, Santa will be reading a story and you will pick up the goody bags on the way out, all while staying in your vehicle. Walden Lake LLC submitted a revision of their plans to the City of Plant City. To see this and past information on what is happening with the development of the Walden Lake golf course, you can visit www.WaldenLake. org under the “News” tab. The latest information can also be found at the City’s website www.PlantCityGov.com. During the month of February, there were 11 sales in Walden Lake and 1 sale in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $342,525 with an average of 16 days on the market. The February sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 3207 Concord Way / $263,900 / 2380 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 1406 Teakwood Drive / $279,000 / 1886 Sq’ / Community / 2 Car 3331 Michener Place / $280,000 / 1836 Sq’ / No / 2 Car 3207 Hawthorne Court / $315,000 / 2554 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 2905 Hammock Vista Court / $329,900 / 2115 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 3306 Kilmer Drive / $334,000 / 2335 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 2814 Hammock Drive / $335,000 / 2816 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 2901 Forest Hammock Drive / $340,500 / 2165 Sq’ / Private / 3 Car 2902 Clubhouse Drive / $343,000 / 2054 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 2906 Pine Club Drive / $375,000 / 2488 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 3901 Fairlea Circle / $435,000 / 2826 Sq’ / Private / 2 Car 2707 Aston Avenue / $480,000 / 3746 Sq’ / Private / 3 Car There are currently 8 active listings for sale in Walden Lake with an average list price of $609,488 and an average of 118 days on the market. One of these listings one is listed at $900,000 and another is listed at $2,100,000 and if you eliminate these 2 listings, the statistics of the remaining 6 change the averages to $312,650 and 43 days on the market. There are 19 properties Pending Contract with an average list price of $350,389 and average of 10 days on the market. The real estate market is hot due to a lack of inventory, and interest rates are extremely low, making this not only a great time to sell but also a fantastic time to purchase. If you are interested in the most current statistics or any questions regarding this article, feel free to reach out to me. NSweet@ KW.com or 813-758-9586.
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Sandee Sytsma named 2021 Citizen of the Year By Cierra Craft
On February 17, the Kiwanis Club held the 62nd Citizen of the Year banquet at the TECO Expo Hall at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Each year, the award is presented to one Plant City citizen who goes above and beyond to serve the community. The selection committee are the only people who know who will be given the highest honor. The selection criteria for Citizen of the Year are clearly outlined in nine steps. Some of those include the potential recipient cannot be seeking a political office nor can posthumous awards be presented. In order to keep the winner from being aware of the award prior to the program, those voting are asked to keep the results of the voting a secret. At the program, the previous year’s winner will describe the new recipient to keep the audience guessing. “Her contributions to Plant City are significant both in ways that can be seen outwardly by the community and what they do privately behind the scenes,” said 2020 Citizen of the Year Jim Scott. Scott described the 2021 recipient as an “outstanding citizen,” noting her commitment to Plant City through volunteerism with events such as Relay for Life, Diamonds & Denim, a Good Egg with the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce. He revealed the recipient was actively involved in GracePoint Church’s congregation. The recipient was the first woman to serve as chair of the Florida Strawberry Festival, served as a “strawberry mom” to the Queen and Court for many years, among many other roles in service to the Florida Strawberry Festival. With a loud applause, Scott announced the 2021 Plant City Citizen of the Year was Sandee Parke-Sytsma. Sytsma was shocked beyond belief that the community would consider her worthy of the title. She called her husband, Hank Sytsma, to the stage announcing to the audience that he is her “rock and encourager.” Sytsma is the daughter of Roy and Helen Parke, founders of Parkesdale Farms. Sandee was just 10-years-old when the Parke family moved to Plant City in 1956. “You have got to be kidding me,” said a shocked Sytsma. “Oh my gosh… this is too much. It’s an honor. I’m humbled. I’m beyond shocked. I’m thankful, I’m grateful for our community and the opportunity to serve our community.” The Outstanding Citizen of the Year program began in 1960 by the First National Bank of Plant City and later assumed by the Kiwanis Club, to honor citizens who have made a positive impact on our great town. The first recipient was Arthur Boring, a prominent local bank President. PAGE
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Plant City’s Automated Waste System Rolling Out Summer 2021 In Summer 2021, the City of Plant City’s Solid Waste Department will launch an automated collection system they named Cart-ToCurb. After much planning and receiving feedback from Plant City residents, details about the new program have been released: 1. Phase One will go live in late summer 2021. The automated waste collection system will start in half of the City, in only residential areas and primarily in planned neighborhoods, where streets are wide and easy to navigate. These routes were designed for safety, optimal driving efficiency and to balance the collection of tons of solid waste. High-speed roads with high volumes of vehicular traffic are included because these create major safety concerns for our manualcollection operators. Phase Two will begin about a year later, in late summer of 2022. 2. The Cart-To-Curb Phase One Roll Out will take place as delineated on the included map: • The blue areas on the map represent Monday and Thursday pickups. • The green areas represent Tuesday and Friday pickups. • If a homeowner’s location is not on the map, their automated waste collection will begin in 2022, during Phase Two. 3. Residents in Phase One must choose a cart size by April 30, 2021. Plant City’s Solid Waste Department will send out a mailer to all Phase One residents in early April asking them to choose a cart size from among three available sizes by April 30. The special carts are essential for the new process since they are designed to be picked up by the trucks’ automated arms. Phase One households that don’t make a selection by the deadline will receive the largest cart by default. To determine which will be adequate for the amount of solid waste their household usually puts out at the curb, residents can see the carts in person at City Hall, 302 W. Reynolds Street Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center, 302 South Maryland Ave. Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon Street or at any of the presentations being hosted around the city by PAGE
homeowners’ associations, churches, civic and social groups and other organizations. The current level of service will continue—twice-weekly collection, once-a-week recycling, and yard waste collection, bulk items collected as needed, and one free grabber load per year—all for one monthly fee set by cart size. The rates will be $27.50 for a 95-gallon cart, $25.50 for a 65-gallon cart, and $23.00 for a 35-gallon cart. Front door service will still be provided for qualified residents. To learn more or provide feedback, visit plantcitygov.com. “We’re excited to move forward with this project, for the sake of our community and our employees,” said Jill Sessions, director of the City of Plant City’s Solid Waste Department. “It’s such a clean, sanitary and efficient system, and it greatly enhances the safety of our employees and the longevity of their careers, since it reduces the physical labor requirements of waste collection.” Sessions said her department realizes that residents have questions and concerns, and the success of this program depends on feedback from the community. “We want to make sure every voice is heard. Please fill out our survey and include your name and contact information if you want us to get back to you. Schedule and attend a presentation. Check out our ‘frequently asked questions’ online,” she said. “This rollout will be most successful and least complicated if we educate and get input from as many people as possible before it happens.”
Plant City Business Owner Aaron Davis The “Tampa Chainsaw Man” By Cheryl Johnston
hen Aaron Davis flew to Austin, Texas on February 19, 2021 to help his girlfriend move due to home damage from the snowstorm, he had no idea the media would be so interested. He also never guessed he’d receive a new moniker – the “Tampa Chainsaw Man.” The Plant City business owner believes in putting action behind words. “When I saw people dealing with such chaos, I felt guilty sitting in the Florida sunshine and just watching the suffering. I wanted to help in person, to do what I could. So, I told my family and staff I’d be taking up to a month off to help in Texas. Once he made sure his girlfriend and other Austin friends were okay, he wanted to do more. A longtime Plant City friend suggested he visit the 12:31 page on Facebook. The private, 4,000+ member group exists to assist with area needs as Mark 12:31 suggests - The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Through that group Davis connected with Lakeway Church, where he drove the next day. Along the way he purchased water and other useful supplies. Once there, four men greeted him, including Sam McGee, who asked the Tampa Bay Bucs cap-wearing volunteer a simple question: “Can you handle a chainsaw?” Acknowledging his past hurricane limb-clearing experiences, Davis agreed to drive his rental truck two hours west to Harper, population 1,200. Before leaving the Lake Travis location, he made a sizeable donation to assist the church’s work in the surrounding areas. McGee, a page administrator for Lakeway Church- Lake Travis, then created a Facebook invite showing Davis in his Bucs cap and encouraged willing volunteers “to join the ‘Chainsaw Man from Tampa,”
in Harper. (In salute to his new friend and University of Florida graduate, McGee declared himself a Florida Gators fan, too). After another member on that page circulated the story to People Magazine, an editor contacted Sam for details before doing a phone interview with Davis as he drove. Subsequently, the “Tampa Chainsaw Man” story has appeared on two Fox News affiliates, two ABC affiliates, CBS News, PBS, People.com, and numerous title industry publications. Overall, Davis purchased 30 chainsaws for the cleanup. And he slept well that first night in the pastor’s parsonage. The GoFundMe page he helped establish for the Harper Volunteer Fire Department’s 501(c)3 has collected $32,000+ in donations thus far. Additionally, Davis received another $40,000 in checks for the cause. “Because of our devastating windstorm exposure, Floridians can relate especially to this situation,” he explained. “I didn’t understand the extensive damage snow and ice caused to rooftops and trees. Frozen plumbing breaks pipes and some homes are still without water and electricity. Many folks had food spoil, too.” Crediting the appreciative residents, he added, “This is like my town, with open-armed, welcoming people. It’s a place that feels like home." “I’m missing my sons, 15 & 18,” Davis continued, “but I know they support what I’m doing in Texas. And thanks to my wonderful employees, friends and family, being able to help is truly one of the biggest blessings and most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m happy to assist and will continue fundraising for the effort.” He welcomes Plant City and Tampa Bay area friends to join him, physically and/or financially as well. For information, contact Aaron Davis at aaron@ amd-1.com or visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/ winter-storm-disaster-2021.
CAUTION NARROWED ARTERIES AHEAD
Chest pressure, a squeezing sensation or chest pain. These feelings may be angina, a symptom of heart disease. Your heart comes with a warning system called angina, which happens when part of the heart doesn’t get enough blood and oxygen. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), a type of heart disease that occurs when arteries that carry blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked. Although angina often feels like a pinching sensation in the chest, it can also be accompanied by sluggishness, fatigue and chest tightness. If you experience any of these symptoms, the heart experts at BayCare’s South Florida Baptist Hospital can quickly get to the cause and treat it with a procedure that’s right for you. Diagnosing and treating CAD is just one area of our expertise in heart care. Using state-of-the-art technology, our compassionate and multidisciplinary team of experts provides a suite of other advanced heart care services. From treatment options for rhythm disorders like AFib and heart attacks, care for advanced heart failure through our Heart Function Clinic, to helping you recover with cardiac rehab, South Florida Baptist Hospital is here when you and your heart need us. And we have enhanced safety measures to help keep you protected, so you can feel secure getting the care you need. Learn more and get a cardiology referral: SouthFloridaBaptistHeart.org
April 4: Local Churches Celebrate the Easter Weekend Obviously, the Resurrection Sunday weekend is a big one for area churches as they celebrate the risen Christ with special services and events to attract newcomers. Below is a schedule of events: City Pointe Church 503 N Palmer Street 813-441-6693 http://www.citypointechurch.com
First Baptist Church of Plant City 3309 James L. Redman Parkway 813-752-4104 www.fbcpc.com March 28 Palm Sunday Service @9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. April 2 Mask Only Easter Service @7:00 p.m. (Childcare Available) April 3 Easter Service @5:00 p.m. (Childcare Available) April 4 Easter Service @9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
April 4 Egg Hunt @ 9:00 a.m. April 4 Family Breakfast @ 10:00 a.m. April 4 Easter Morning Worship @ 10:30 a.m.
GracePoint Church Plant City 1107 Charlie Griffin Road, Plant City FL 33566 813-759-9383 http://www.gracepointpc.org
Cork United Methodist Church 4815 W. Sam Allen Road 813-704-4873 www.corkumcfl.org
April 4 Worship with Communion @ 9:30AM April 4 Sunday School @ 11AM
April 4 Easter Sunrise Service @7:00 a.m. followed by Easter Breakfast
Grace United Methodist Church 1801 E Cherry St 813-659-3718 GraceUMCPlantCity.com
Eastside Baptist Church 1318 E. Calhoun Street 813-754-2681 http://eastsidebcpc.org
April 4 Easter Sunrise Service @ 7:30 a.m. April 4 Free Breakfast @ 8:30- 9:30 a.m. April 4 Easter Worship in the Sanctuary @ 10:00 a.m.
April 4 Sunrise Service @ 7AM April 4 Worship @ 10:45 AM
Greater New Hope Anointed Ministries 2104 Mud Lake Road 813-754-3626 www.TheHopePC.Org April 4 Easter Pull-Up Service @ 11:00 a.m. with free snow cones & popcorn
Plant City Church of God 2103 Mud Lake Road 813-752-4591 April 3 Easter Car Hop @10:00 a.m. April 4 Community Sunrise Service @ 7:00 a.m. in Walden Lake Park April 4 Traditional Easter Service @ 10:15 a.m. St. Clement Catholic Church 1104 N. Alexander Street, Plant City FL 33563 813-752-8251 http://stclementpc.org April 4 Easter Sunday English Mass @ 7:00 a.m. April 4 Easter Sunday Spanish Mass @ 9:00 a.m. April 4 Easter Sunday English Mass @ 11:00 a.m. April 4 Easter Sunday Spanish Mass @ 1:00 p.m. St. Peter’s Episcopal Church 302 Carey Street, Plant City FL 33563 813-752-5061 https://stpeterspc.dioswfl.org April 2 Good Friday Service @4:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. April 3 The Great Vigil of Easter @7:00 p.m. April 4 Easter Service @ 8:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. Transforming Life Church 3805 Turkey Creek Road 813-754-5372 http://tlchurchpc.com April 4 Easter Service @10:00 a.m.
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 ER
THANK YOU PLANT CITY FOR VOTING US BEST PEDIATRICIAN FOR 2021!. 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.
WE HAVE MOVED! Come See Us In Our New Downtown Location!
212 North Collins Street Plant City, FL
EASTER AT T H E C R O S S I N G C H U R C H April 2 | 7pm - Good Friday April 3 | Saturday - 6:00pm April 4 | Sunday - 8:45am, 10:30am 10130 Tuscany Ridge Dr. Tampa, FL 33619
April 2 | 7pm - Good Friday April 4 | Sunday - 10:30am 2409 E. College Ave. Ruskin, FL 33570
April 2 | 7pm - Good Friday April 4 | Sunday - 10:30am 507 South Wheeler Street Plant City, FL 33563
ALL SERVICES BROADCAST LIVE
2021 BY CIERRA CRAFT
OCUS Magazine is honored once again to present the winners of our annual Readers’ Choice Awards. From cuisines to businesses, this year readers cast over 10,000 votes in 56 categories to name the best of Plant City. At FOCUS, supporting small local business is at the core of everything we do. 2020 was a tumultuous year for small businesses, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic safety requirements and for many, to be shut down completely; the annual awards recognizes the hardwork and determination of not only our advertisers, but of the Plant City business community, as a whole. Our anniversary party, held at Keel and Curley Winery last month, also served as an opportunity to bring business leaders from all sectors and industries together for an evening of fun. Throughout the next several pages, meet the winners of the 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards and be sure to support these local businesses with your patronage. $68 for every $100 spent at the local business stays in our community. Next time you’re in need of a recommendation for a local A/C company or are looking for the best pizza in town, turn to this issue to find the best in the business.
Winners BEST BBQ: BEST ASIAN:
Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 203 W Alexander St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-8866 Monday-Saturday: 11AM–3PM, 5–11PM Sunday:12–10PM Other Nominees: 813 Chinese China One Kyoto Palace Hibachi Express
Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar offers traditional Japanese fare with a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The contemporary restaurant offers Teppanyaki dining, where guests can watch their food be prepared right before their eyes. Each dish is produced with the highest quality ingredients and at Wasabi, customer satisfaction is of the utmost priority. Each Hibachi entree is served with soup, house salad with ginger dressing, fried rice, vegetables and your choice of meat. Is sushi your thing? Wasabi Plant City is the place to stop for lunch. Offering over 30 options for the Roll Combination Lunch Special. Choose any two rolls for $10 or any three rolls for less than $14. You will find the freshest cuts of salmon, tuna, eel and more within each roll. Try the Plant City Roll for $16: Shrimp Tempura, Cream Cheese, Avocado Inside, Topped with Masago, King Crab, Crabmeat & Mayo Mixed The restaurant offers steak, seafood, a sushi and sashimi bar and premium cocktails, making Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar ideal for group celebrations and date nights for two.
Johnson Barbeque 1407 W. Dr. MLK, Jr. Blvd. Plant City, FL 813-759-0009 Open Mon – Sat: 11AM - 8:30PM Other Nominees: Nidia’s Latin Grill Smokin’ Aces BBQ Smokin’ Joe’s Taylor Que
Johnson Barbeque has refined the family’s recipes to serve the best barbeque in town. Each cut of meat is slow-smoked onsite for 16 hours with homemade rubs and sauces. And each dish is handcrafted through a detailed process to ensure every bite is tender and flavorful. While staying true to the family recipes, Johnson Barbeque is modernizing the proud tradition of southern barbeque with specialties like Fried Smoked Chicken, BBQ Tacos and Smoked Ribeye Steaks. Sauces and rubs are still homemade, and the smokers are working 24 hours a day to ensure your cut of meat is fresh, juicy and tasty. Stop in on the weekends for a 14oz Smoked Ribeye Dinner with a tossed house salad and baked potato or take the kids after 5PM to eat free on Monday and Wednesday. The professionals at Johnson Barbeque are committed to serving handcrafted southern barbeque in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere. And they continue to believe today, as Elton Johnson did in 1954, that a love of great food— and especially authentic barbeque— is something shared by all.
Nick’s Pizza and Wings 1707 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 757-5900 Mon-Thurs 11AM to 10PM Fri & Sat 11AM to 11PM Sun 12PM to 9PM Other Nominees: ABC Pizza Carrabba’s Italian Grill Esposito’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant Olde Town PIzzeria & Pasta Co. Fazoli’s
Sparks and his team are passionate about bringing Plant City delicious, high quality meals, one table at a time. Nick’s would like to thank the voters for making Nick’s Pizzaria and Wings your choice for Best Italian Restaurant for the Readers’ Choice Awards 2021.
Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant 2613 Thonotosassa Rd, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-0057 Sun-Thurs 11AM-9PM Fri & Sat 11AM-10PM Other Nominees: El Mirasol Monterrey Taqueria Nidia’s Latin Grill Taco Rey
Nick’s Pizzaria and Wings is known for its large pizzas and delicious wings- it’s in the name after all. But, Nick’s owner Jimbo Sparks is proud to offer a selection of traditional Italian classics such as Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna, and Chicken Alfredo Pasta. Each entree includes salad and & garlic knots for $11.98 total. Or opt for a lighter option with one of Nick’s fresh salads, available in two portions: small (pictured) and large. Looking for something ooey-gooey and warm, then try Nick’s Calzones and Strombolis. Dive into these hearty entrees in the restaurant’s quaint dining room or call in an hour for pickup or delivery.
Featuring a menu of traditional Tex-Mex cuisine and delicious margaritas, Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant offers customers an affordable meal in a lively atmosphere. From quesadillas to fajitas, and even wraps and burgers, there is something for everyone at Mi Casa. With colorful brick-framed Mexican murals gracing the adobetextured interior walls, families can dine on quesadillas, enchiladas, and Mi Casa’s house-made chip and salsa in one of three dining rooms. At this family-owned restaurant, the saying goes “Mi casa es su casa.” The Gama family and the dedicated wait staff treat each guest like family, using only the freshest ingredients in each dish. Looking for a quick lunch, from 11am to 3pm, Mi Casa serves a quick, simple lunch plate. Choose from one of 9 entrees, served with rice and your choice of refried beans or churro beans. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Mi Casa’s new dessert- the Chimichanga Cheesecake. A slice of cheesecake, deep fried to a golden brown and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Served with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate and caramel, this new dessert is great to share with someone sweet in your life. Conveniently located in the Plant City Crossing plaza, the delicious food is what keeps folks coming back, time and time again.
Culver’s 2103 N. Park Road, Plant City, FL 33563 813-707-0800 Daily 10:30AM- 12:00AM Other Nominees Brick House Cafe Johnson Barbeque 1916 Irish Pub Outback Steakhouse Keel Farms
Wisconsin-based Culver’s open its doors to a hungry Plant City community in January 2020. The menu includes its iconic ButterBurgers which are made with a fresh, never frozen beef patty, served with customizable toppings on a lightly buttered and toasted bun. The local franchise is owned and operated by brothers Scott and T.J. Schwebke, who invite guests to come try the made-to-order burgers and fries. “Culver’s is fast-casual,” said Scott Schwebke. “We do not have food under heaters waiting to serve, we cook it fresh when it is ordered to ensure it is the best it can be. Chicken takes five minutes, burgers take two minutes. We guarantee that when you receive your food, it’s hot, it’s fresh and very worth the wait.” PAGE
BEST BREAKFAST, BEST HOMETOWN COOKIN’ AND BEST SERVER:
Fred’s Market Restaurant 1401 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Plant City, FL 33563 813-752-7763 Mon- Sat 6AM to 9PM Sun 8AM to 9PM Best Breakfast other nominees: Brick House Cafe Wooden Spoon Diner Hole In One Norma’s Best Hometown Cookin’ other nominees: Brick House Cafe Wooden Spoon Plant City Hometown Buffet Snellgrove’s
For more than two decades, Fred's Market Restaurant has served up traditional homecookin’ with southern hospitality and charm. From crispy fried chicken to grits and tomato gravy, guests enjoy a meal just like Grandma used to make. The Johnson family legacy began in 1954, when Elton and Evelyn Johnson began serving Evelyn's southern cooking out of their gas station, which stood on James L. Redman, at the location of the present day Hardee’s. The gas station was converted to Johnson Restaurant when folks couldn't get enough of Elton’s barbeque and Evelyn’s cornbread and fried chicken. Today, hungry guests flock to the corner of Alexander and MLK Blvd to enjoy, Fred’s Market Restaurant’s hometown cookin’ during the lunch and dinner buffet and chow down on southern favorite’s for breakfast. On the breakfast buffet, guests can enjoy scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, bacon or sausage links and southern sides, including hashbrown casserole and biscuits and gravy. Served until 10:30AM, enjoy the Breakfast MarketTable for $8.79 or the one-time with the Blue Plate for $6.79. For lunch and dinner, choose from Golden Fried Chicken, Crispy Catfish, or chose to stop in for a Daily Special. Specials include Monday’s Beef Tips, Thursday’s Turkey & Dressing or Smoked Ribs on the weekend dinner menu. Fred’s doesn’t compromise on quality or character whether it's the ingredients in its dishes or the attitudes of its people. It's southern comfort that's pure and hearty all the way to the core and it's all found at Fred's Market Restaurant. Today, the Johnson family operates four Fred's Market Restaurants throughout Central Florida and the iconic Johnson Barbeque at the corner of MLK and Alexander streets. The establishments are built on family values and heritage, making the Johnson’s restaurants a place where family, friends and the community can sit for a while and share slow cooked meals. It’s no surprise that Fred’s Market Restaurant has won more Readers’ Choice Awards than any other eatery in Plant City, with almost 35 Readers’ Choice Awards just within the past ten years.
Step into Fred’s Market and you’re greeted with a smile, where you feel like family. Meet server and front of house relief manager Parker Phillips and you’re sure to have a server who goes above and beyond to make you feel welcomed. Parker began working for Fred’s Market Restaurant three years ago. It’s no surprise when nominations were announced that regulars poured in with their support, saying “Parker is one of my favorite people,” “we love Parker,” and one customer sharing that Parker was the reason they came back to Fred’s. Stop in for lunch, sit for spell and chat with the 2021 Best Server of Plant City. PAGE
BEST FRIED CHICKEN:
Maryland Fried Chicken 315 N. Alexander Street Plant City, FL 33563 813-473-6883 plantcityfriedchicken.com Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11AM-9PM; Closed Sundays Other Nominees: Publix Popeye’s Plant City Hometown Buffet Fred’s Market Restaurant
Maryland Fried Chicken has become a cornerstone of Plant City’s culinary heritage. From humble beginnings, the Naset family prides themselves in offering the same fresh, never frozen chicken that has fed hungry Plant City residents for 50 years. Five days per week, fresh whole chicken is delivered. It’s then cut, coated in seasonings and spices and then pressure cooked in pure peanut oil. The pressure-cooking method seals in the juices and flavors, giving a crispy exterior to the moist chicken. The pressure-cooking method makes Maryland Fried Chicken one of a kind and a dining experience to remember. This locally owned and operated restaurant has legions of fans, transcending generations. Still, it hasn’t lost its Plant City heart, fresh, pressure-cooked chicken in peanut oil, and friendly service. Complete dinners for eat-in or take-out are available with chicken or seafood in the apex at the corner of Thonotosassa and Alexander Street, just north of South Florida Baptist Hospital. Stop in soon to savor the flavor that has charmed locals more than 50 years.
Strawberry Hut 1505 N Wheeler St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-3779 Mon-Sat 6:30AM to 6:30PM Closed Sunday Other Nominees: Brooklyn Bridge Dairy Queen Norma’s Plant City Cuban Sandwich Shop Ole’ Tampa Cubans
If you’ve never sunk your teeth into a Cuban sandwich from Strawberry Hut, you’re missing out. The ten-time award-winning sandwiches are truly something to behold- stacked high with Smoked ham, deli ham, mojo pork, salami, swiss cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and pickle. Established in 1993, the always popular Strawberry Hut has earned over a dozen “Best Cuban Sandwich” awards. Six days a week, the 300-square-foot walk-up eatery is busy serving made-to-order sandwiches, soups, salads, real-fruit strawberry milkshakes and year-round strawberry shortcake. Longtime Plant City residents Troy and Betty Wilson never cut quality. They purchase fresh produce from the farmer's market and have fresh bread delivered daily from an Ybor City bakery. Their success, with God’s help, prompted them to open a second Strawberry Hut in early 2015—a 3,400-square foot, air-conditioned restaurant in Lakeland. They credit our local community for their 28 years in business. Betty explained, "We’re grateful that Plant City has been so good to us. Our customers feel like family.”
Outback Steakhouse 1203 Townsgate Ct, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 759-4329 www.outback.com/ locations/fl/plant-city Sun-Thurs 11AM-10PM Fri & Sat 11AM-11PM Other Nominees: Carrabba’s Italian Grill Johnson Barbeque Smokin’ Aces BBQ Chili’s
Outback Steakhouse Plant City is home to juicy steaks, spirited drinks and Aussie hospitality. Offering unbeatable steak cuts, Outback Steakhouse has served the Plant City area for 20 years. From Victoria’s Filet Mignon to the Melbourne Porterhouse, each steak is sure to be tender, savory and seared to perfection. Pair your steak with grilled or coconut shrimp or steamed lobster tail, for a dining experience sure to take you to “the Land Down Under.” The dedicated and friendly staff has Aussie hospitality, providing courteous, attentive service, and going above and beyond to make your meal one to remember. Be sure to visit Outback Steakhouse or call ahead for curbside pick up. Outback Plant City now offers Delivery throughout the greater Plant City area. Call today to order your Outback favorites. PAGE
BEST SHORTCAKE, BEST MILKSHAKE:
Parkesdale Farm Market 3702 W Baker St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-0502 Open daily from 9AM to 6PM Best Shortcake Other Nominees: Dairy Queen Fred’s Market Restaurant Strawberry Hut Brick House Cafe Best Milkshake Other Nominees: Dairy Queen Strawberry Hut Twistee Treat Mr. Sebas
The legacy that is now known as Parkesdale Farm Market began, when the Parke family relocated from Pennsylvania to Plant City in 1956. The family began with a 10 acre farm, eventually expanding to hundreds of acres of not only winter strawberries, but also citrus and vegetables. The market opened in February 1969, selling produce straight from the farm. Every winter, people from across the globe flock to Parkesdale Farm Market for its World Famous Strawberry Shortcake and strawberry milkshakes. At Parkesdale, “strawberries are king.” The famous shortcake recipe includes sliced freshfrom-the-field berries, atop a bed of shortcake and garnished with whipped topping. Parkesdale Farm Market also offers a full menu of the berry best sweet treats, including a Sundae Boat (strawberry and vanilla ice cream), Berries and Cream, and Strawberry Shortcake with Ice Cream. Cool down on a hot day with Parkesdale’s full lineup of milkshakes. Parkesdale’s Strawberry Milkshake has won Food Network’s Best Drinkable Dessert. Choose from over 10 signature flavors for a classic, indulgent milkshake sure to satisfy the taste buds.
BEST PIZZA, BEST SALAD
Olde Town Pizzeria & Pasta Co 3011 James L. Redman Pkwy Plant City, FL 33566 813-752-5800 oldetownpizzeria.com Hours: Mon 11AM – 9PM; Tues-Sun 11AM - 10PM Other Best Salad Nominees: ABC Pizza Whistle Stop Johnson Barbeque Keel Farms Other Best Pizza Nominees: ABC Pizza Hungry Howie’s Esposito’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant Nick’s Pizzaria & Wings
Olde Town Pizzeria is renowned for its pizza, sandwiches, calzones, baked pasta dishes and a wide selection of salads, one of which is their signature “Strawberry Walnut Salad” with a red wine vinaigrette. Yummy, for sure, and one you’ll find yourself craving. Looking for something savory, opt for the Cheeseburger Salad or the Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad. Olde Town is known for slicing its pizza in squares. Opt for traditional flavors like the namesake Olde Town, consisting of Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, and smoked crumbled bacon; or something out of the box like Blue Buffalo, baked chicken breast over a blue cheese base, mozzarella, & cheddar cheeses, drizzled in wing sauce. Olde Town Pizzeria & Pasta Co. is the only restaurant in town serving up Chicago Deep Dish pizzas. Located on James L. Redman Parkway, Olde Town Pizzeria and Pasta Co. is a popular hotspot for business lunches during the day and families flock to the pizzeria for dinner. The upbeat, yet old fashion style pizzeria offers hearty portions at an affordable price. Excellent service, and delicious food are consistent mentions in reviews on social media. With something for everyone, it’s the dining choice the whole family can agree on. All menu items are made-to-order from the freshest, top-quality ingredients available. Plant City loves its Olde Town!
The Corner Store 121 W Reynolds Street Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-0900 Mon-Thurs, Sat: 11AM to 3PM Friday: 11AM to 10PM Other Nominees: Panera Bread Ole’ Tampa Cubans Whistle Stop Norma’s
The Corner Store uses the most sustainable products possible, providing a unique dining experience with local agriculture. The eatery’s sense of community extends far beyond food, supporting community events such as Rhythm & Rhyme, as well as Yoga & Mimosas. The Corner Store is a place to refuel your mind, body, spirit and pantry. Voted Best Soup, The Corner Store serves up a Soup of the Day, ranging in varieties such as Tomato Basil Soup to Spanish Chicken & Chorizo. Each soup is a warm, scratch-made bowl of deliciousness, served with pita chips and fresh fruit for $8.00 Founded by Cynthia Diaz, The Corner Store is a quaint and casual establishment at the intersection of Reynolds and Palmer streets. Guests can purchase jarred cookie mix, prepackaged snacks and dry goods, as well as locally produced jellies and jams.
Brick House Café 206 S Evers St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-8546 Tues-Sun 7AM to 2PM Other Nominees: Krazy Kup Dairy Queen Outback Twistee Treat
Brick House Café is renowned for its burgers, breakfast, or hearty lunch plates, but Brick House can also satisfy your sweet tooth. Brick House Café offers “Desserts By Mellisa.” Owner Shari's daughter-in-law, Mellisa, has been making homemade desserts and speciality cakes for friends and family for years. Once Brick House settled into its Evers Street, the Café knew homemade desserts was a must have item to offer. Mellisa enjoys baking cakes the most, but also enjoys trying out new recipes to offer seasonal varieties or for speciality orders. Her Italian Cream Cake, Pineapple Pie, and Coconut Cream Pie are the top three customer favorites. Brick House and Mellisa are hoping the increase in demand for her desserts will bring “Best Dessert” award for years to come.
Linda’s Crab Shack 202 E Reynolds St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-0492 Mon-Thurs 11:30AM – 9PM Fri-Sat 11:30AM – 9:30PM Closed Sunday Other Nominees: Outback Steakhouse 1916 Irish Pub Maryland Fried Chicken Johnson Barbeque PAGE
Known by locals as a great casual dining spot for tasty seafood, Linda’s Crab Shack is a regular stop for those visiting historic downtown. For 27 years, the casual eatery has offered generous portions at an affordable price. Open for lunch and dinner from Monday through Saturday, there’s no need to drive long distances to satisfy your cravings for fish, shrimp, or Devil crabs. The Garza family handrolls and deep fries a fresh batch of Devil crabs each and every day. Many order large quantities for birthdays, retirement parties, and more. If you’re looking for a delicious selection of seafood classics including crab legs, coconut shrimp, or a catfish dinner, be sure to visit the team at Linda’s Crab Shack at 202 E. Reynolds Street. Enjoy the renovated outdoor patio and a view of historic downtown with good eats and good friends.
1916 Irish Pub 2309 Thonotosassa Road Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 756-6504 Hours: Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. 2900 Buckingham Avenue Lakeland, FL 33803 (863) 834-2377 Hours: Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 1916irishpub.com Other Nominees: O’Brien’s Irish Pub Roots Taproom & Wine Bar Paddy Wagon Silver Dollar Duke’s Brewhouse
In 2016, owner Chuck Jamieson along with co-founders Duke Mendel and Guy Marquis, introduced Plant City to their vision for a unique dining and entertainment experience. The 1916 Irish Pub is filled with rich Irish tradition mixed with a contemporary twist. Marking the centennial celebration of the 1916 Irish Revolution - a revolution to fight for Ireland’s independence from British rule - Jamieson deemed the 2016 grand opening as one of perfect timing. Located at 2309 Thonotosassa Road in the Plant City Crossings business center, 1916 is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. In Irish Pub style, 1916 offers a wide selection of beverages from soft drinks, craft beers and cocktails to traditional Irish beers and whiskey. The food selection also holds a culinary twist of Irish and Americana. “We take a lot of pride in our food. Not just in the preparation of the food, but also in the ingredients,” states Jamieson. Jamieson notes the sandwiches are made with Boars Head meats and cheeses, the hamburgers are Kobe beef, and the Rueben and Shepherd’s Pie are fan favorites.
Krazy Kup 101 East J. Arden Mays Boulevard Plant City, FL 33563 813-752-1220 Online at www.krazykup. com and Facebook Hours: Tuesday – Friday 08:13 AM – 08:13 PM Saturday 09:33 AM – 10:33 PM Sunday & Monday CLOSED Other Nominees: Dunkin’ Donuts Hole in One Starbucks Ole’ Tampa Cubans
For almost six years, the Trunzo family has welcomed friends new and old to their sixtime Readers’ Choice Award-winning Krazy Kup coffeehouse in historic downtown Plant City. Krazy Kup offers hot, cold and blended drink options with espresso to iced coffee to “krappes,” just to name a few. Customers rave about the coffee concoctions and the friendly service at Krazy Kup. With charming décor inside the red-brick, two-story building and the gated Krazy Louie’s Kourtyard outdoors, Krazy Kup has plenty of space to gather with friends. The establishment’s loft has become a gathering place for groups like Rise Plant City, The Writers’ Loft, bible study groups, and on a weekly occurrence, local talent showcase their musical abilities in a variety of genres of bluegrass to pop.
Duke’s Brewhouse 2212 James L Redman Pkwy, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-2700 dukesbrewhouse.com Other Nominees: Beef O’Brady’s Nick’s Pizza O’Brien’s 1916 Irish Pub
Duke’s Brewhouse offers a laid back, casual atmosphere with the best wings in town. At Duke’s, enjoy jumbo chicken wings- traditional or boneless- with one of the establishment’s signature flavors. From mild to garlic parmesan, Duke's Brewhouse has crafted a variety of flavors for everyone to enjoy. Each Wednesday, enjoy All You Can Eat Boneless Wings for $11.95 and each Thursday, enjoy AYCE Bone-In Wings for the same price. With over 30 craft, import and domestic beers on the menu, Duke's Brewhouse is the perfect place to enjoy a cold beer with friends and catch the big game on one of 30 high definition televisions. With a dedicated wait staff, the team at Duke’s Brewhouse aims to offer topnotch service with a down-home flair. Be sure to visit Duke’s Brewhouse for wings, sports and spirits. PAGE
O 1N 202
THANK YOU PLANT CITY FOR YOUR SUPPORT! PAGE
NE 2021 WIN
Best Insurance Company
THANK YOU PLANT CITY FOR YOUR VOTES AND SUPPORT!
BEST AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY:
First Response Heating & Cooling 712 E Alsobrook St Unit #6 Plant City, FL Tel: 813-756-3899 firstname.lastname@example.org 1stresponseairconditioning.com Open 24 hours Other Nominees: Starboard A/C All Florida Mechanical
First Response Heating & Cooling is owned and operated Matthew Roberts and Bryan Chapman. The company was launched in 2018 and was built on the principles of honesty, fairness and trust. Plant City residents quickly learned First Response Heating and Cooling is the air conditioning company you can trust. With over fifteen years of experience, Roberts and Chapman understand how important it is for customers to feel confident and worry-free when investing in their A/C system, that is why they founded their company on treating each customer like family. First Response Heating & Cooling, LLC is different than other A/C companies because building a relationship with clients is at the center of everything they do. First Response Heating and Cooling proudly offers A/C maintenance, service contracts, service repairs, new installations, free estimates and second opinions. The crew is available 24/7 for emergency service and with fully stocked trucks, the team can get your A/C back up and running in no time. First Response Heating and Cooling knows that A/C breakdowns can be unexpected and costly, therefore they offer 0% financing and a 10-year warranty on parts and labor. “We decided to have more of a relationship with our clients,” Roberts explained. “We make sure all of our clients are satisfied with our work. We follow up with every client to make sure the maintenance, repair or replacement went exactly like we said it would.”
Dykstra Construction 1409 E. Baker Street, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 707-0082 dykstraconstruction.com Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM Other Nominees: Carapezza Construction TrueBuilders
Founded by Vern Dykstra, Dykstra Construction has been a reliable, dependable, trusted name in construction in the Greater Plant City area since 1997. Today, the construction company is led by Vern’s son, Darry. Under Darry’s leadership, Dykstra Construction has become one of Florida’s leaders in statewide contracting and facility maintenance. Dykstra Construction specializes in commercial building, from design, ground up building, project management, extensive renovations and reimaging, remediation and restoration, the crew at Dykstra can do it all. Past projects include Circle K stores, Pilot/Flying J Travel Center, as well as Hillsborough Title and Greater New Hope Anointed Ministries. Additionally, the company provides residential build services as well. From building onto your existing home or constructing an elegant custom home from the ground up, Dykstra Construction can make your dream home a reality.
BEST ROOFER :
Backbone Construction & Roofing 813-580-8611 email@example.com License #CCC1331030 Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM Other Nominees: Carapezza Roofing TrueRoofers
Plant City-native and third generation roofer Nathan Garrett and his team at Backbone Construction & Roofing treat each job with professionalism and care, whether it’s residential, industrial or a commercial property. The company serves Plant City, Lakeland, Tampa, Brandon and the surrounding areas with an expertise in roofing installation, maintenance and repair. Backbone Construction & Roofing offers a number of services including asphalt shingles, metal roof systems, flat roof systems, and emergency tarp service and much more. The crew undergoes continuous education to remain up-to-date with the latest industry knowledge and equipped with high-quality materials and tools, from Owens Corning, one of the industry's most renowned materials supplier. Nathan Garrett is proud of the strong, long-term relationships Backbone Construction & Roofing has built with homeowners and business owners. Backbone Construction & Roofing provides the strength you need and the character you can trust. Call Backbone Construction & Roofing today for a free estimate!
BEST DRY CLEANER :
Mango Cleaners 416 N Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 759-6858
From dry cleaning to laundry to wedding dress preservation, Mango Cleaners and Laundry is Plant City’s premiere laundry cleaning service. With convenient locations, Plant City residents trust Mango Cleaners for their laundry needs.
1701 S. Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-7768
Join the Mango Laundry Club and never do laundry again! With pick-up and delivery, club members load up their orange Mango laundry bags, the staff will sort the clothing according and wash, dry and fold, and deliver the fresh linens to your home or office.
Mon-Fri 7AM to 7PM Sat 8AM to 2PM Other Nominees: Myers Cleaners Majik Touch Cleaners
Mango Cleaners is your one-stop-shop for all things textile. The company also offers alterations, smoke/fire restoration, shoe cleaning and repair, as well as cleaning of bedding, table and drapery linens and area rugs. Don’t see what you need? Just ask! Mango cleans everything! Next time you have a laundry mishap, visit Mango Cleaners & Laundry, where the knowledgeable staff can take the stress out of your day.
BEST PLUMBER :
Freddie Mullis Plumbing, Inc. 607 N. Merrin Street Plant City, FL 33563 813-754-0317 firstname.lastname@example.org Other Nominees: Keene Plumbing TruePlumbers
The proof of quality work lies in a company’s reputation. The multiple award-winning plumbing business has been owner-operated by lifelong Plant City resident Freddie Mullis for over three decades. This explains why the bonded and licensed Freddie Mullis Plumbing guarantees every job it completes. Freddie Mullis is a second generation plumber, working alongside his father at a very early age and carries this experience with him today. From service and repair, including re-piping and backflow prevention, to hot water heater service, the company philosophy is: “You become our personal investment when you call on us. From diagnostics, repair, complete plumbing to service & repair, or kitchen and bathroom remodeling - we do it all, for you.“ Call today for friendly, professional and guaranteed service. PAGE
Berry Patch Animal Clinic 3012 James L Redman Parkway Plant City, FL 33566 (813) 707-0520 berrypatchanimalclinic.com Monday and Friday: 8am - 6pm Tuesday- Thursday: 8am-5pm Saturday: 8am–2pm Sunday: Closed Other Nominees: Walden Lake Animal Hospital Animal Wellness Center
When your furry friend is ill or in pain, it’s time to call Berry Patch Animal Clinic for the best in veterinary care. Berry Patch Animal Clinic is a full-service veterinary medical facility. The knowledge staff is dedicated to treating your pet with gentle love and care, while performing the best possible medical care, surgical care and more. Berry Patch Animal Clinic is the former Animal Clinic at Southside. Dr. Derek Stansbury graduated from Purdue University in 2007. Having grown up on a farm, he has always had an affinity for animals. He has participated in rodeos since he was young doing saddle broncos, roping, and steer wrestling. He has called North Lakeland home since 2008. Dr. Douglas Bandkau has been practicing veterinarian medicine for over 4 decades. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1979 and enjoys spending time with his two shih tzus and golfing. He is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The costs of veterinary care can be uneasy for folks, but no worries. Berry Patch accepts cash, all major credit cards, checks, and offers two payment services: Care Credit and Scratch Pay. Both options allow you to set up payment plans that fit your budget. Whether you’re welcoming a new puppy or kitten into your family or have a pet emergency on your hands, Berry Patch Animal Clinic is equipped to do it all. Call and make an appointment for your furry friend.
BEST GYM/FITNESS CENTER:
I Hate My Trainer 117 E Reynolds Street, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 786-1541 Other Nominees: Pump Fitness Planet Fitness
Ask clients of Mike Gartz how they feel about working out with the Boston-native and they often say, “I hate my trainer, but I love the results!” Gartz got into the fitness industry thirty years ago and since has transformed the lives of thousands of clients physically through personal training, weight training, and fitness classes, but he has transformed lives mentally by helping clients feel better, look better, and gain confidence. It’s not uncommon to see Gartz downtown walking the block, encouraging his clients to push through their run and finish strong. In 2020, Gartz converted one area of his fitness center into an area for kids to get a full body workout with a ropes course and rock climbing. When he isn’t pushing clients in the gym. or training student athletes, he is pushing for folks to visit, shop and eat in the downtown district. He believes downtown Plant City can be vibrant and wants to see his fellow merchants thrive, often showing his patronage and support for their respective businesses. Gartz says he is thankful for the Plant City community embracing his big personality and for supporting his business by voting it Best Gym/Fitness Center of the year.
BEST ASSISTED LIVING:
Grace Manor at Hunters Creek 765 W Grant St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 743-8701 Other Nominees: Stone Ledge Manor Azalea Oaks Place
Choosing a senior living community with loved ones can often be a difficult decision for families. At Grace Manor at Hunter’s Creek, located at 765 W. Grant St. in Plant City, Executive Director Sheryl Vitelli and her team provide a vibrant community with the services that put families’ minds at ease. Grace Manor takes day-to-day burdens off the minds of residents and their families while providing numerous onsite amenities, services and social activities. Meals are freshly prepared by the community’s chefs, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks provided to residents. Fresh produce is delivered three to five times per week. In addition to health and wellness, safety is a top concern. Grace Manor is equipped with round-the-clock caregivers, as well as video surveillance, visitor/ vendor technology and a gated community. Interested families can schedule a tour by calling Grace Manor’s family advisor at (863) 872-6222, or by calling the community at (813) 743-8701. To learn more, visit gracemanorhunterscreek.com
BEST FINANCIAL PLANNER :
[Cameron Financial Management] 110 W. Reynolds Street, Suite 109 Plant City, FL 33563 813-759-8485 Cameronfm.com Mon-Fri 9AM to 4PM Sat & Sun Closed Other Nominees: Jimmy Conrow [Edward Jones] Stephen Shouse [Edward Jones]
One thing fifth generation Plant City native Michael Cameron loves most about his work is the opportunity for friendships and community involvement. Cameron Financial Management provides assistance with investments, insurance, and financial planning. If you need advice regarding stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, life insurance, gold, silver, college savings or any other money-related topic, "whether you have $1,000 or $1 million," Cameron looks forward to helping you with your needs and goals—and on your schedule. He enjoys his work of “quietly making money for people.” ”People here are sincere, friendly and they want to help,” said Cameron. “This is my town, and these are my people. It’s a great place to live, serve, and connect." For a complimentary financial portfolio review and consultation—on a no-pressure, no-obligation basis—contact Michael Cameron, an advisor you can trust. PAGE
Trinkle, Redman, Coton, & Davis, PA 121 North Collins Street Plant City, FL 33563 Tel: (813) 752-6133 Other Nominees: Williams & Moore Tancredo Law Firm
At Trinkle, Redman, Coton, & Davis, PA, clients will find a professional staff dedicated to providing qualified and personalized legal representation. The firm is located in the beautiful historic Hillsboro State Bank Building in downtown Plant City. Built around 1914, the historic building provides the perfect backdrop for Trinkle, Redman, Coton & Davis, PA, which is committed to timeless values, combined with up-to-the-minute information, and cutting edge legal counsel, enable the firm to meet the needs of every client who comes through their doors. Since the firm’s beginnings in 1928, the legal team has been proud to be actively involved in the Plant City and West Central Florida communities that have been an essential part of their growth. Established by John R. Trinkle, the foundation of the firm’s success has been built on accountability and commitment, not only to the growing community but to the valued community of clients as well. The staff at Trinkle, Redman, Coton and Davis, PA over 100 years of legal experience and utilizes its expertise to maintain long-term relationships with clients. If you’re looking for a firm committed to legal excellence, while maintaining hometown values, then call Trinkle, Redman, Coton and Davis, PA to schedule a consultation.
BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY:
Keller Williams 1607 S. Alexander St. Plant City, Florida 33563 813-966-4304
Beyond their outstanding performance as Realtors®, Keller Williams Plant City agents live, work and believe in the community they serve and have been active participants in Habitat for Humanity, United Food Bank, Florida Strawberry Festival, YMCA, and other local organizations.
Other Nominees: ACE Realty & Auction Marzucco Real Estate- Plant City
Keller Williams Plant City is a member of the Suburban Tampa group, selling more homes than any other real estate company in Plant City. Keller Williams Realty takes a different approach to real estate, one that is built on personal touches, win-win relationships and positive results. Keller Williams of Plant City utilizes the latest technologies, market research and business strategies to exceed your expectations. More importantly, agents listen and that means the real estate team finds solutions that are tailored to you and your family.
BEST BANKING INSTITUTION:
CenterState Bank 1804 James L Redman Pkwy Plant City, FL 33563 102 W Baker St Plant City, FL 33563 813-759-2265 Telephone Banking: 888-292-7005 centerstatebank.com Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM – 5PM Drive-thru 8AM – 5PM; Fridays until 6PM Other Nominees: Hillsboro Bank Regions Bank
CenterState Bank became one of Florida’s largest banking institution when it purchased Sunshine Bank, Platinum Bank, and HCBF in 2017. CenterState opened two Plant City branches, one on James L. Redman Parkway and the other on Baker Street- to serve the needs of Plant City residents. The professional and capable staff are determined that the company’s five core values guide their operations: Local Market Drive Long Term Horizon World Class Service Relationship Banking Faith and Family CenterState Hillsborough County Community President, Angel Gonzalez, has set his aim on the goal to make Tampa Bay a $1 billion market for the bank through acquisitions and organic growth.
Tooth Caboose 2005 Thonotosassa Rd # B, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-2161 Mon-Thurs 8AM to 5PM Fri-Sun Closed Other Nominees: Dental Associates at Walden Woods Dr. Kelly Borders
The professionals at CenterState look forward to meeting you soon and assisting with your every banking need of your family and business.
Plant City Pediatrics 2370 Walden Woods Dr Ste A, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 659-9800 plantcitypediatrics.com Office Hours Monday - Thursday 7:30AM-6:00PM Friday 7:30AM-3:30PM Phones on service daily from 11:30AM-1:00PM **Closed Saturday and Sunday Other Nominees: John Aimes, MD Suncoast Pediatrics
The Tooth Caboose offers the finest in family dentistry and orthodontic care. The dentistry practitioners take continuing-education courses to provide start-of-the-art care with the latest techniques and technology. Tooth Caboose offers pediatric dentistry, sedation dentistry, early interceptive treatment and orthodontics for adults, adolescents, and children. Its mission is to ensure that patients of all ages can have a smile they love, offering a variety of treatment options from traditional stainless steel braces, to more discreet clear braces and Invisalign® allowing patients to make the right choice for them. Today, The Tooth Caboose is led by Dr. Daniel Ruffolo, DDS, MS; Dr. Tanya Bejarano, DDS; and Dr. Amanda Newcity, DMD. The knowledgeable staff at the Tooth Caboose is dedicated to providing quality dental care in a relaxed atmosphere. The team at the Tooth Caboose is looking forward to helping your child achieve the best smile possible. If you’re looking for the best dental care in town, look no further than the Tooth Caboose.
The professionals at Plant City Pediatrics believe “children are a gift from the Lord” and view patient care as an investment in our future. With a goal to provide the finest pediatric medical care available, the practice places priority emphasis on excellence, compassion, and cheerful service. As parents already know, it’s important to have a highly-regarded pediatrician’s number handy on their phone’s speed dial. When accidents happen, Plant City Pediatrics advises: “Call us first. We may be able to save you a trip to the ER.” The practice accepts new patients from birth to 18 years of age and accepts most Commercial & Medicaid insurance plans. For great advice about the immunizations and medical assessments your child needs at specific ages or to access necessary forms before your child’s first visit, view the helpful website tabs. Remember, your child’s best medical care is only a phone call away(813) 659-9800
BEST FAMILY CARE PHYSICIAN:
Watson Clinic Plant City 615 E. Alexander St. Plant City, FL 33563 813-719-2500 www.watsonclinic.com Monday- Friday: 8AM to 5PM Other Nominees: Specialist Doctors’ Group WellMed at Plant City
Watson Clinic Plant City offers quality services, compassionate care and a convenient location for Plant City residents. The physicians and medical staff encompass the fields of pediatrics and internal medicine and an on-site laboratory is available for quicker test results. Working alongside board-certified Internal Medicine specialist Dr. Manish Parekh at Watson Clinic’s Plant City location, Lindsey N. Wells, PA is a highly experienced certified physician assistant who provides a host of services designed to prevent and treat common ailments and diseases. Ms. Wells attended Warner University where she earned a Bachelors in Biology and Nova Southeastern University where she earned a Masters degree in Physician Assistant Studies. She is a member of the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants. Her areas of expertise include: General primary care services and preventative care, Diabetes, Hypertension, COPD, and Hyperlipidemia. Call Watson Clinic Plant City to schedule your appointment today: 813-719-2500
Caring Concepts Chiropractic Clinic 1215 W Baker St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-2273 www.caringconceptsinc.com/ Monday & Wednesday 8AM- 6PM Tuesday 9AM-12:30PM Thursday 9AM- 6PM Friday 8AM-12:30PM Sat & Sun Closed Other Nominees: Dukes Chiropractic Health Clinic Dunn Chiropractic
Experiencing a stiff neck or a sore back? It’s time for a trip to Caring Concepts Chiropractic Clinic. Caring Concepts provides a state-of-the-art facility, with the most advanced technology to bring Plant City top notch chiropractic care. Caring Concepts has served the greater Plant City area for 30 years and is conveniently located on Baker Street. Caring Concepts Chiropractic Clinic provides the following services: Spinal Adjustments & Manipulation Massage Therapy Spinal Decompression Therapy Laser Therapy Electrical Muscle Stimulation Cryotherapy In-House X-Rays & Ultrasound Caring Concepts is led by Dr. Todd Glenn and Dr. William Garrison; and acupuncturist Dr. Alaina Edgemon. Together, the doctors have over 40 years of experience. Dr. Glenn attended Palmer College of Chiropractic, where he earned his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Chiropractic in 1990. He is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Association. Dr. William Garrison earned his Bachelor of Science from Florida Southern College and attended Palmer College of Chiropractic where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 2007. He is also a member of the Florida Chiropractic Association. Dr. Alaina Edgemon is a nationally board certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine (D.O.M.) and licensed Acupuncture Physician (L.Ap). She has two undergraduate Bachelor degrees in Western Medicine: Biomedical Sciences and Professional Health Studies. Dr. Edgemon attended graduate school at Florida College of Integrative Medicine where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Oriental Medicine. If you’re in need of pain relief due to auto accidents, work-related or personal injury, or a sports injury, make your appointment at Caring Concepts Chiropractic Clinic at 813-754-CARE
BEST INSURANCE COMPANY:
Poppell Insurance Established in 1964 as Harrell & Poppell Insurance, Reed Harrell & Tom Poppell began the insurance agency in Harrell’s mother’s living room. Tom later bought out Reed’s interest and the firm became Poppell Insurance. Now, the organization is under the leadership of Tom’s sons, Jon and Mark Poppell.
503 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-4155 poppellinsurance.com Other Nominees: Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM
As an independent agency, Poppell Insurance offers both commercial and personal insurance coverage from multiple companies, including Progressive, Auto Owners, and Travelers. Poppell Insurance aims to find insurance coverage that best fits their clients budgets and needs.
Other Nominees: Florida Insurance Center State Farm- Courtney Paat
The agency’s devoted staff is committed to being a leader in anticipating and exceeding client needs. Working with Poppell Insurance assures clients of having a high quality, cost effective risk management solutions for all their insurance needs.
BEST INDOOR PEST CONTROL :
Cross Pest Control 606 S. Evers St. Plant City, FL 33563 800-226-1571 Info@crosspestcontrols.com Hours: Monday – Friday 8AM 4:30PM Other Nominees: Home Protection Pest Control Plant It Earth, Inc.
Centrally located in Plant City, Florida, the licensed and insured family-owned Cross Pest Control has been helping residential, commercial, and industrial neighbors in East Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and Manatee counties become – and stay – pest free since 1952. In 2002, Terry Ballard became a partner in the Plant City business and in 2008, he purchased the company. Today, the company is run by Ballard’s daughter, Renita Boles. Together with her husband, they manage and operate Cross Pest Control with the same customer detailed service as her father. The trusted service providers at Cross, known for their longevity with the company, will take what is “bugging” you seriously. “We are truly grateful to have the opportunity to take care of your pest control needs,” said Boles. “We are thankful for your word of mouth advertising that grants trust and value to our company.” Technicians treat you, your home, or business with respect. Utilizing an assortment of odorless, eco-friendly pest control options for the safety of your family, pets and environment, they can handle everything from annoying and dangerous bugs (including termites) to disease carrying rodents and roaches. Best of all, Cross Pest Control options won’t break the bank. Call today for a free estimate!
BEST SEPTIC :
Calhoun Septic 1510 Bonnie Rd, Plant City, FL 33565 (813) 752-9505 Mon-Fri 7AM to 5PM Other Nominees: Bingham Septic Quality Septic
Built on family values and a strong work ethic, Calhoun Septic Tank Service has served the Plant City community for over 50 years. The honesty and integrity of this family-owned business is demonstrated in its longevity. Three generations of the Calhoun family have served the septic needs of the greater Plant City area including inspections, repairs, install and more. The family is preparing the fourth generation, with James Cole Calhoun training under his father and current owner Jay. “We do what we say we will do. We just want to provide quality service and be up front about what we are doing,” offered Jay Calhoun, third-generation owner of Calhoun Septic. Calhoun Septic Tank Service is proud to say they bring experience and expertise to every job. Calhoun Septic Tank Service offers a discount for active military, veterans and first responders for their service to our communities. Calhoun Septic makes your emergency a priority, scheduling service as quickly as possible to resolve your problem. The company is renowned for its quality work at competitive prices. From septic tank installation to drainage system installation to the repair of an existing system, Calhoun Septic walks customers through every step, treating each customer like family. The personal attention brings folks back to Calhoun Septic when faced with a septic emergency.
Spring Is Here!
GROOMING REWARDS! 5 grooms and get the 6th one FREE!
We offer pet boarding in a state of the art facility with television for the pets to watch. We are located on 5 acres of land.
Call For Pricing on Boarding Or Grooming.
UNCLE G’S BED & BISCUIT
1821 Stephens Ln, Dover, FL 33527 Phone: (813) 689-6725 | unclegsbedandbiscuit.com PAGE
BEST OUTDOOR PEST CONTROL:
Plant It Earth, Inc. 3208 Sydney Road Plant City, FL 33566 813-777-7938 Plantitearthflorida.com Other Nominees: Green Life Environmental Consolidated Pest Control
Established in 2003, Plant It Earth offers the best lawn care program at the most reasonable prices, with customer satisfaction as the company’s top priority. Nothing makes the Plant It Earth team happier than green grass, healthy trees and shrubs, and a pest-free environment. The combination of expertise, personalized service, and attention to detail has made Plant It Earth the fastest-growing lawn care company in Central Florida. For lawn care, weed/pest control, and tree/shrub care throughout Central Florida, the benefits include: No Contracts Two technicians per truck Custom mixed treatments Quality service guaranteed Services focus heavily on the part of the yard you don’t see – the root system. Grass, trees, and shrubs require healthy roots to absorb the vital fertilizer and moisture that keep them nourished and green. Plant It Earth’s highly trained technicians uses a combination of application methods from granular application to liquid insecticides. Your lawn gets the proper blends of nutrients it needs during your very first application to begin correcting any problems or deficiencies. Technicians will evaluate your lawn, trees, shrubs, and pest management needs and customize a lawn repair plan just for you. Ask also about services such as irrigation, aeration, and fertilization.
BEST NEW BUSINESS:
The Industry 119 S Collins St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 756-6955 eattheindustry.com Mon-Thurs 8AM to 9PM, Fri & Sat 8AM to 10PM, Sun Closed
The Artistry Salon & Spa 1505 S Alexander St Ste 102 Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 717-7700 Other Nominees: TEASE Hair Studio Textures
When you’re ready to indulge in head-to-toe beauty treatments, look no further than The Artistry for a day of pampering. The Artistry is Plant City’s premiere salon and spa, offering hair services, nails, skin and massages. Treat yourself to a day of relaxation with a luxurious facial or be queen for a day as you receive a pedicure. The Artistry, owned by Ron and Jana Evers, employ an incredible staff of licensed hair stylists, nail technicians, estheticians and massage specialists to make sure you look and feel your best. Using only the finest products, The Artistry uses brands such as Redken, CHI, Paul Mitchell, and Revel Nail, just to name a few. The Artistry is renowned as a one-stop-shop for hair and beauty for formal occasions. From Prom to Bridal, The Artistry provides services such as hair styling, hair extensions, manicure and pedicures and even spray tans. Whether you’re looking for a day of a little TLC or need a team for your special day, call The Artistry to make an appointment.
When Michael Wilson and Amanda Doroslovac opened The Industry in July 2020, they knew that they were working towards a specific pursuit: To create a modern entertainment venue in downtown Plant City that serves delicious, unique foods. But for this young couple, Plant City is “the industry” as they bring all of the facets of our community together into one place. From locally grown sourced ingredients in their food to decor created by locals, The Industry is a place where people of all walks of life are welcome to gather to enjoy handcrafted meals and local live performances. The Industry offers breakfast from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and during that time, the menu comprises waffles, omelets, and southern comfort foods like biscuits and gravy. After 10:30 a.m., the establishment begins serving lunch with a new daily Chef’s Special. “Everything in The Industry, from the decor, the tables, the food, is all locally source, it’s all local as possible,” said Amanda Doroslovac. “On our stage, you’ll see local artists, the ingredients in our food is locally grown, our tables were made locally. Really, Plant City is ‘the industry’ because this space brings facets of Plant City together under one roof.”
Brown’s Jewelers 1705 Jim Redman Pkwy, Suite G Plant City, FL 33563-6900 813-754-2360 plantcityjewelers.com email@example.com Tues-Friday 10AM to 6PM Sat 10AM to 4PM Mon & Sun Closed Other Nominees: Crescent Jewelers Your Family Jewelers
Brown's Jewelers specializes in fine jewelry, custom designs, and affordable repairs. They also offer free inspections and free cleaning. Showcases are filled with wedding, engagement and class rings, charms, necklaces, bracelets and watches. Whether you’re looking to repair a broken bracelet or to buy a new pair of earrings for her, look no further than Brown’s Jewelers. Rusty and his team are ready to help.
Other Nominees: My Town Barbershop City Cuts Barbershop
Plant City native Russell “Rusty” Brown started working with jewelry at age 15 when his dad learned the business from his brother-in-law, who was a gold wholesaler. Brown’s Jewelers is proud to bring experience and expertise to each job and is thankful for the support of the community. “We’ve built our family-owned and operated business through loyal locals and their referrals,” explained Rusty. “The kind people in Plant City and surrounding communities are friendly.”
2404 James L Redman Pkwy Plant City, FL (813) 853-0808 haircutmenplantcityfl.com Mon-Fri 9AM to 8PM Sat 9AM to 6PM Sun 10AM to 5PM
Since 1986, Brown’s Jewelers has taken great pride in offering friendly, affordable service for all your jewelry needs. It’s a name you can trust for quality in fine jewelry, watches, and expert repairs.
Sport Clips of Plant City caters to the needs of men and boys. With guy-smart stylist, you’ll receive the haircut you want and leave feeling like the M.V.P. They offer a fresh take on barbershop amenities and services, such as a precision haircut, massaging shampoo, hot steamed towel treatment, and neck and shoulder massage. As stylist get to work on your hair, sit back and watch your favorite sports team on one of the shop’s many televisions. Sport Clips is made for men, providing efficient, quality service. Whether you’re looking for a fade, mohawk, a beard trim or hot steamed towel, the team at Sport Clips can help you leave feeling like a new man. Sport Clips offers free neck trims between haircuts. Customers rave about the atmosphere, great customer service and quality haircuts! Many parents recommend the Sport Clips team for boys and young men, as well. The energetic, professional staff are experienced with helping children feel at ease in the barber chair. Download the Sport Clips app to your smartphone to schedule an appointment today!
BEST CAR WASH :
Octopus Car Wash 1503 S. Collins Street Plant City, FL 33563 813-754-0777 Hours: Mon-Sat 8AM – 6PM (Summer until 7PM Sun 9AM – 5PM Other Nominees: Walden Lake Car Wash Oasis Auto Bath
The Octopus Car Wash team’s experience in this industry dates back to 1960. The goal has always been to provide a clean, fast car wash using environmentally friendly products at a reasonable price. Florida’s climate means heat, humidity, rain, salt air, hot sun, and last but not least BUGS! It pays to be pro-active in protecting your investment with regular washes. In addition to its state-of-the-art brushless car wash technology, Octopus Car Wash also offers complete auto detailing and a variety of products to keep your ride looking its best. For details of interior, exterior and complete packages or a la carte services, visit octopuscarwashflorida. com. Also check out the company’s Charity Fundraising Program. As strong supporters of local schools, churches, non-profits and multiple individuals, Octopus offers an environmentally friendly, unique opportunity for your nonprofit organization's next effort. Shopping local is always a win-win! PAGE
BEST AUTO SERVICE, BEST BODY SHOP:
Jarrett-Scott Ford 2000 E. Baker Street Plant City, FL 33563 jarrettscottford.com Sales: 877-751-9729 Service: 877-597-2603 Parts: 844-338-9718 Dealership: Mon- Fri 8AM-5PM Quick Lane® Tire & Auto Center: Mon-Fri 7AM–6PM; Sat 7AM–3PM Other Auto Service Nominees: Universal Auto Service REMCO Other Body Shop Nominees: Allen & Hector’s Elite Auto Albin’s Body Shop
Jarrett-Scott Quick Lane® Tire & Auto Center provides all the services your car or truck needs most, performed by factory-trained experts and on your schedule. The Jarrett-Scott team at “Florida’s Oldest and Most Trusted Ford Dealership” [est. 1912] takes great pride in the high level of customer satisfaction the dealership earns and the referrals it receives as a result. The dealership can take care of any make or model, using quality parts from trusted brands like Motorcraft® and name-brand tires from Goodyear, Continental Tire, Michelin and more. Common services include oil changes, belts and hoses, battery checks, cooling system, and brakes. Give Jarrett-Scott Ford a try and you'll see why life is better in the Quick Lane®. Looking for a body shop to repair your vehicle? Jarrett-Scott Ford’s specially trained Body Shop Professionals have all the parts, tools and expertise to repair your vehicle's damage. The Body Shop offers free estimates on all makes and models, bumper reconditioning and more. The shop offers Customer Shuttle for easy pickup and drop off. “A lot of people are surprised to hear that we have a Body Shop on the property,” said Scott. “We rebuilt the Body Shop five years ago and those guys can work on all makes and modelsnot just Fords.”
BEST USED AUTO DEALER:
Universal Auto Sales 2005 W. Baker St Plant City, FL 33563 Mon- Fri 8:30AM to 7PM Sat 8AM - 4PM Sun Closed Other Nominees: Billy Herold Auto Sales Bayshore Automotives
Looking for a quality vehicle that won’t break the bank? Stop by Universal Auto Sales of Plant City, at the apex of Baker Street and Thonotosassa Road. At Universal Auto Sales, customers shop an inventory of quality preowned vehicles from Ford, Chevrolet, Jeep, Nissan, BMW, and more. The seasoned sales team is ready to help answer any questions you have, offering great deals, a great selection, and an honest, no-hassle car shopping experience. Bad credit? No credit? Universal offers many financing options to get you into the vehicle you want and back on the road. Ask about their guaranteed credit approval! Universal is proud to be a trusted auto dealership in Plant City for 13 years. Stop by and choose from one of Universal’s pre-loved vehicles today.
BEST MORTGAGE LENDER:
Florida Mortgage Firm 2216 S Alexander Street Plant City, FL 33563 813-707-6200 Floridamortgagefirm.com Other Nominees: Hillsboro Bank Regions Bank
RAOK Boutique 2804 James L Redman Pkwy Plant City, FL 33566 (813) 754-RAOK Mon- Sat: 10am- 5pm Sun: Closed Other Nominees: Tennessee Jane Boutique Fringe
RAOK was founded in 2014 by mother-daughter duo, Brigette and Hannah, who were on a mission to serve others and continue to love deeply on their family. The shop’s core purpose is to spread kindness and has been their top priority since day one, after all, RAOK stands for Random Acts of Kindness. RAOK sells women’s clothing, accessories, and gifts in the latest fashions, allowing each customer to feel beautiful from within when she wears RAOK. The boutique carries brands such as Brighton, Alex & Ani, and Erimish. Whether shopping for something casual for a day at the park with the kids or a top trimmed in lace and ruffles, RAOK has something for everyone- and gift wrapping is always complimentary. In February 2020, RAOK was recognized as Small Business of the Year by the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce. In September 2020, RAOK Boutique founder Hannah Benton was named a recipient of the 2020 University of South Florida Fast 56, recognizing RAOK as one of the world’s fast-growing USF Bullowned businesses. RAOK has been recognized as one of the best places to shop in Plant City by 813area, Yelp, and Visit Plant City.
An entrepreneur, U.S. Marine, proud husband and father, Nate Davis is blazing trails and turning heads in the mortgage industry. Florida Mortgage Firm, with 21 employees and one office, is ranked in the Top 1% of firms in the U.S. for mortgage brokerage volume, despite only originating loans throughout the State of Florida. Nate describes his company’s culture as Marine Corps meets big business initiatives with small town care. He’s also proud to be included in the 2018 Gator100, which honors the 100 fastest-growing Gator-owned or Gator-led businesses in the world. The company’s wholesale lending model enables it to offer better interest rates and costs than major national competitors because overhead costs are less and savings are passed onto you, the customer. The firm’s loan officers have an incentive to get you the best deal and close your transaction in a way that generates more referrals. As to their company, Nate and his wife Natasha know for certain that “Continual improvement is vital to our long-term success. We want to be THE best, not just Our best. Every client matters. Every transaction. Every time.”
BEST OPTICAL CENTER:
Gaffney Eye Clinic 2002 South Alexander Street Plant City, FL 33563 813-754-3593 Drbgaffney.com Mon, Wed, Fri: 8AM to 5PM Tues: 8AM to 5:30PM Thurs: 8AM to 6PM Other Nominees: Optical Outlet Eye Express
Dr. Barry M. Gaffney, founder of Gaffney Eye Clinic, has provided thorough, quality eye care to the Plant City community since 1978. He is grateful to have acquired so many loyal patients and appreciates those who continue to visit the clinic; he is now seeing the fourth generation in some families! Because the practice continues to grow, Dr. Jeremy H. Gaffney joined the practice in June 2011 and Dr. Daniel G. Gaffney joined in October 2015. Dr. Jeremy Gaffney brings the latest in eye care practices to the clinic and in October 2011, he started the Dry Eye Center of Central Florida as part of the Gaffney Eye Clinic to help treat Dry Eye Disease. Dr. Daniel Gaffney specializes in medical and comprehensive optometry. Through continuing education and with the latest technology, the doctors offer the latest in ocular disease treatments and visual services, including glasses and contact lenses. The dedicated doctors and staff treasure each friendship and are always delighted to welcome new patients to their practice. Call for your appointment today!
BEST ALUMINUM & SCREEN REPAIR:
Plant City Awning and Aluminum Products, Inc 806 S Woodrow Wilson St. Suite 1 Plant City, FL 33563 813-659-2501 firstname.lastname@example.org Other Nominees: Discount Screening Mr. Screen Repair
Since 1961, Plant City Awning and Aluminum has provided high quality services to both residential and commercial properties. Owner Larry Johnson and his team continuously evaluate new products and materials to give customers a diverse line of screening options for the best value. From carports, patio awnings, and replacement windows, to screened rooms, pool enclosures, siding, soffit, and roof overs, look no further than Plant City Awning and Aluminum. Plant City Awning and Aluminum takes pride in the fact that the company has many repeat customers and has served the second and third generations in a customer’s family. Folks know for unbeatable customer service and a job well done, Plant City Awning and Aluminum stands out from the crowd. For nearly six decades, Johnson has kept one goal in mind: To provide quality products, competitive prices, and service before, during and after the sale.” If you’re looking to add value to your home or business, contact Plant City Awning and Aluminum. You can rest assured that Johnson and his team will see to it that the job is done right.
BRANDON LEGAL GROUP Attorneys at Law
A FULL SERVICE LAW FIRM & FAMILY MEDIATION CENTER
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FRESH BEEF IS ALWAYS BETTER WINNER
Tell us about your job. Currently, I’m a preschool teacher at an academy in Brandon. I pursued the technical career path, earning state accreditation while at Durant. I worked for a family-owned preschool academy in Palm Beach, Florida, for nearly eight years. I came back home and explored retail careers both here and in North Georgia, but my love for children kept calling me. I knew I’d eventually return when another opportunity knocked. After meeting my husband, William, I returned to teaching and have been at the academy for two years. The old saying of how it’s great to love what you do and get paid doing it holds true. What are your favorite places to visit in Plant City? Roots Tap Room & Wine Bar and Felton’s Meat & Produce.
People of Plant City
Asia Thomas By Emily Topper
fter growing up in Bealsville, preschool teacher Asia Thomas remains deeply involved in the Plant City community through organizations that promote the city’s culture and history.
attending Trapnell Elementary, Turkey Creek Middle School and Durant High School. Growing up, I was a cheerleader for the Turkey Creek Trojans. I enjoyed helping my grandfather with farming and visiting yard sales with my mother.
What was it like growing up in Plant City? What activities were you involved in growing up? I am a Plant City native. I was born and raised in Bealsville. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were also born here. I grew up
What was your favorite place to visit as a child? I liked going to Universal Studios in Orlando with my parents, and taking trips to Georgia to see the seasons change and the trees change color.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you? I change hairstyles every month! Outside of work, what local activities or events in the community do you participate in? I’m involved in the MLK Festival, Taste of Laura Street and Blues, BBQ & Berries on Ever Street. I love activities where people from all walks of life get together socially. What business or event would you like to see Plant City have in the future? I’d like to see the return of a drive-in movie theater and additional businesses in the new Midtown area. What is a cause or organization you feel passionate about? Early childhood development and cultural programs that highlight the area’s rich diversity.
JIMMIE ROBINSON BROKER/ASSOCIATE
Did You Know? Plant City’s First Black Doctor: Oscar Albert Joyner, M.D. By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives, Inc.
r. Oscar Albert Joyner was Plant City’s first Black doctor. Information about him was hard to find, but after conversations with locals and some research, we have managed to put together an outline of this very reputable man, Readers: if you have more information, comments, or corrections, please let us know. We depend on you. Oscar Albert Joyner was born February 8, 1882, in Dorchester County, South Carolina, to Henry and Adeline Joyner, the third of eight children. Although the Joyners were a farming family, Oscar was bent on a different education. In 1900, at the age of 18, records show he was still living at home in South Carolina, but his whereabouts are then unknown until 1906 when he was admitted to the Meharry College of Medicine, a part of the Central Tennessee College affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1876 as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College, Meharry was the first medical school for African Americans in the South. Joyner was a boarder at various locations in Nashville over his four years at Meharry College and graduated in 1909, with his medical degree. He moved to Lake City, Florida, where, as a 28-year-old single man, he lived in a boarding house and began his practice of medicine in 1910. By 1918, Dr. Joyner had moved to Plant City, according to his Sept. 12, 1918, draft registration card, and was a married man. We do not know where they met, but Oscar and Ruth Griffin were married about 1917; he was 35 and she, who was also born in South Carolina, was 16. He began to practice in
Plant City, opening an office on Haines Street, (later renamed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard). One odd thing stands out on his draft card. On the back of the card, in a handwritten note are the words, “Left eye gone”. In 1918, the Joyners had a son, Hercules Lionel Joyner, who was their only child. Ruth Joyner began teaching in a “graded school”. She later would teach at Midway Academy, Lincoln Elementary, and Marshall High School. The medical office on Haines Street was not far from Janie Bing’s rooming house and her Seminole Restaurant. Dr. and Ruth Joyner lived on Louisiana Street, not too far from Laura Street and E. J. Marshall, Maddie, and Josie Lee Marshall. In later years Ruth Joyner, a pianist, played at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Joyner invested in real estate near his office; he was known as a kind and generous landlord. He was a general practitioner and, in addition to ordinary medical practices, delivered many babies. He was also the first Black doctor to be on the “Attending Medical Staff ” at the segregated South Florida Baptist Hospital. About 1936, Hercules Joyner, 18, left home to attend Florida A&M University, graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry about 1940. While on campus he pledged with the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and remained a member for life. He returned to Plant City for a short while before leaving for Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941, where he enlisted with the Tuskegee Airmen. He later married Frances Dumas, a graduate of Tennessee State University, who also worked with the Tuskegee Airmen. Hercules switched from a military career and became an accountant, remaining in Tuskegee and
working for the Veterans Administration until his retirement. Around the early 1960s, Dr. Oscar Joyner retired, closing his practice. According to a Social Security document, Ruth Griffin Joyner died in 1966, and, shortly after, Dr. Joyner moved to Tuskegee to join his son, Hercules, and lived in Tuskegee until his death in 1974; he was 92. Hercules returned to visit Plant City in 2002 and was the Grand Marshal in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival Parade. After retirement he moved to Texas, joining his son, Tom; Hercules died in 2007 at the age of 89. Hercules and Frances Joyner had two sons, Tom and Albert. Tom Joyner became a nationally celebrated morning talk show host, and Albert Joyner was a successful owner of McDonald’s franchises in Mississippi. But that is another story for another time. Sources: Ancestry.com; newspapers.com; Polk Publishing Co. City Directories; South Florida Baptist Hospital document; U.S. Census records; Denese Kitchens; Plant City Photo Archives & History Center Collections.
Easter with Us!
Palm Sunday Service: March 28 | 9 & 10:30 AM Celebrate the Lord’s Supper
Four Identical Easter Services: FRIDAY APRIL 2 | 7 PM Mask ONLY Service CHILDCARE: Birth - 4 years
Bring your family to be a part of our family
this Easter! Join us for our Palm Sunday services
APRIL 3 | 5 PM CHILDCARE: Birth - 4 years
on March 28th and at one of our four identical Easter services April 2nd through 4th. You will experience uplifting music, powerful prayer,
SUNDAY APRIL 4 | 9 AM & 10:30 AM
and a relevant message of truth from God’s Word. Sundays we also offer Bible-centered small groups for all ages. Come and experience the abundant life that Jesus has for those who follow Him! Can’t join us in person? Watch ONLINE at: FBCPC.com/Live
3309 James L. Redman Pkwy., Plant City 813.752.4104 | www.fbcpc.com Dr. Brian Stowe, Senior Pastor
LEGACY. FAMILY. FARMING. STRAWBERRY EXCHANGE
TAMMY AND TONY CHANCEY WITH FLORIDA GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS
STRAWBERRY SUE IN THE HOUSE
TAMMY WITH SHERIFF CHAD CHRONISTER
FOX 13 NEWS REPORTER CHARLEY BELCHER
IN MEMORY OF HENRY FALCON. GONE BUT WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN
TEAM CHANCEY WANT TO THANK THE FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL FOR ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL YEAR!
TEAM CHANCEY LOVE TO HELP SERVE OUR COMMUNITY WHERE NEEDED
ANOTHER STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL IN THE BOOKS! TEAM CHANCEY would like to thank Paul Davis, The Directors, and ALL VOLUNTEERS for making the 2021 FESTIVAL A SUCCESS!
Team Chancey 813-758-2728
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611 S Alexander st. Plant City FL 33563 Bayshoreautomotive.com M-F 9-6 | Sat 10-2
2021 Festival in Review
or 86 years, the Florida Strawberry Festival has rolled out the red carpet in celebration of our local strawberry growers and the bountiful harvest of berries that have blessed our community, our state and our nation.
Today, the Florida Strawberry Festival is ranked among the Top 40 Fairs in North America and the Top 100 Fairs in the World. More than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted each year with nearly 3000 farms throughout the county. These crops produce an annual value of $360 million. FOCUS Magazine is proud to present a 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival in Review, a look back at all of the memories made March 4 through March 14. From delicious foods to Hillsborough County’s youngest citizens taking the spotlight, the 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival welcomed ‘all aboard’ to enjoy fair foods, free entertainment, and support our community’s youth in agriculture.
By Cierra Craft & Jennifer Jordan
There was a slight chill in the air as the gates opened to the 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival. Festival President Paul Davis, 2021 Strawberry Queen McKenna Jordan and her court, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Berry, greeted the first guests at a distance. Behind their masks were big smiles at the kickoff of the 86th annual Festival, thankful to welcome guests, vendors, and volunteers to 303 BerryFest Place. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Strawberry Festival installed three intelligent disinfectant doors, which uses a dry mist of isopropyl alcohol and UV light to disinfect. Davis shared that the Festival also purchased 130 additional hand sanitizer dispensers to place throughout the festival grounds. Additionally, anyone on the Festival grounds was required to wear a mask, especially inside of the Festival’s various exhibit halls and pavilions. In the Parke building, Parkesdale Farm Market prepared to serve their first Strawberry Shortcake of the 2021 event. St. Clement’s Catholic Church’s Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake opted out of participating in the shortcake
2021 Festival in Review booth this year, due to COVID-19. Many Festival regulars expressed the 2021 event wouldn’t be the same without the ‘make your own’ booth. St. Clements is set to return in 2022. Parkesdale stepped up to offer the World Famous dessert, creating a shortcake booth with protective plexiglass shields. Hungry Festival-goers still choose biscuit or cake, before a Parkesdale volunteer tops it with famous berries and whipped cream. “We are very excited to offer our world-famous strawberry shortcake for the first time at the festival,” said Parkesdale Farms Director of Finance and Business Development Kristen Hitchcock. The strawberries were freshly picked and sliced each morning from the farm, and the cake was the same yummy goodness served at Parkesdale Market every year, according to Hitchcock. Booth visitors may have been lucky enough to have their shortcake built by Helen Parke, matriarch of the family. According to the Florida Strawberry Festival, over 200,000 strawberry shortcakes are sold on the grounds over the 11-day event. Other shortcake vendors, Berry Amaz’n occupied the East Hillsborough Historical Society’s booth, with EHHS set to return in 2022, as well. Transforming Life Church celebrated over 40 years of providing the famed dessert to Festival goers. At 7:00 p.m., 85 students from across Hillsborough County participated in the annual Mosaic Youth Swine Show in the Patterson Livestock Arena in the Grimes Family Agricultural Center. In the show, each pig is placed in one of nine classes based on weight. The winner of each class then competes for the title of the grand champion. At the beginning of the show, Florida Strawberry Festival Chairman of the Board Dub McGinnes stated the importance of wearing masks during the event. “We’re here for the kids, so let’s put up with a little discomfort and wear our masks to support the youth who have worked hard to be here tonight,” said McGinnes. Ellie Smith, a member of the Antioch Critters 4-H Club, exhibited the grand champion swine, weighing in at 273 pounds. Smith’s pig sold at the March 5 Youth Swine Sale for $20 per pound by Mayor Rick Lott. Reserve grand champion was awarded to Shyanne Wood, a member of the Durant FFA. Her swine was purchased by Ben Rice for $16 per pound. In total, 84 exhibitors sold their pigs in the sale where no exhibitor earned less than $10 per pound. “This year is one for the books,” said President Paul Davis. “We are incredibly grateful to the buyers in our community for supporting our swine exhibitors during such an unprecedented time.” After the youth swine show, the showmanship competition began. Instead of the animal being judged, the showmen are judged on how well they present their animals. In the senior division, Shyanne Wood placed first, Avery Ashley placed second, and Joliene Reed placed third. In the intermediate division, Brielee Bedenbaugh placed first, Jessie Parker placed second, and Karoline Kmetz placed third. In the junior division, Jaylynn Wood placed first, Ellie Smith placed second, and Tytan Gill placed third.
The Florida Strawberry Festival hosts seven youth livestock shows in total: swine, steers, beef cattle, dairy cattle, lambs and chickens. All livestock shows and the swine sale and steer sale take place in the Patterson Companies Livestock Arena. Mayor Rick Lott shared that at the 2020 agriculture sales- Swine, Steer, and Plants- $1.3 million were generated to support youth in our community. Official numbers for 2021 are not available at the time of publication.
Ask Strawberry Festival veterans their favorite foods to eat during the annual event and more than likely topping the list are Peachy’s Baking Company’s Amish donuts. But for nine Festival-goers, they like the baked goods so much, they entered the 4th Annual Amish Donut Contest. Three teams, consisting of three individuals each, competed to eat three doughnuts with no hands and leaving no crumbs. The first two eaters were given one of Peachy’s original donuts. The third competitor was hit with a surprise- Peachy’s topped their donuts with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, upping the ante for each of the teams. “Team LumberJacks” won first place. The team members are John Babbitt, Eugene Ballance, and Joanna Gill. Festival entertainment was a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than headline entertainment on the Wish Farms Soundstage, Festival visitors were encouraged to embrace the free entertainment available. Shows included The Dennis Lee Show, who has performed at the Festival for more than 40-years. Lee opened his March 6 noon show with Alan Jackson’s ‘Chattahootchee’ and Elvis Presley’s ‘All Shook Up.’ Other entertainment included Born Lonesome, Pastor PeeWee Callins, and Clogging Connection.
On Sunday, March 7, the Florida Strawberry Festival was visited by a famous Floridian- Governor Ron DeSantis. Gov. DeSantis and his wife, Casey, brought their children Mason & Madison to enjoy the festivities. Festival Chairman of the Board Dub McGinnes begins each day of the Festival meeting in prayer. Governor DeSantis joined McGinnes and the Festival team that morning in prayer before hitting the midway with his family. “Great people, great kids, rides and great food,” said Gov. DeSantis in a Facebook post, featuring photos of their day at the Festival. “Madison and I even had a friendly fried Oreo contest.” Many Plant City residents thanked the Governor for visiting the Plant City event in his Facebook post. In the Entenmann’s Showcase Tent at 10:30 a.m., Festival goers witnessed the cutest contest with the youngest contestants held every year at the Festival. The annual baby contest -sponsored by South Florida Baptist Hospital- saw babies from the Hillsborough County area get dressed up to compete in three different segments of the competition: the decorated diaper contest, features contest, and the diaper derby. In the diaper derby, the fastest crawling baby wins. Kasen Goff won the Florida Strawberry Festival theme diaper category, and Dreamy Doctor won the most creative diaper category.
2021 Festival in Review
In the feature contests, Gentry Amundsen won the biggest eyes; Denver Cedeno won the chubbiest cheeks, and Avala Figueroa won the most hair. In the prettiest girl contests, Noah Keys won the 6 to 9 months category, and Shawntelle Newsome won the first runner up. Cherokee Jackson won the 10 to 12 months category. Aspyn Moody won the 13 to 15 months category and Henley Wyatt won the 16 to 18 months category. In the most handsome boy contests, Barrett Beveard won the 6 to 9 months category and Lane Riley won the 10 to 12 months category. Harrison Crenshaw won the 13 to 15 months category and Dane Wilkerson won the 16 to 18 months category. In the diaper derby, Dreamy Doctor won the 6 to 8 months category, and Lane Riley won the 9 to 12 months category.
The city came to a screeching halt on Monday, March 8, to commemorate the 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival Grand Parade, presented by BerryFine Productions. Plant City families, dressed head to toe in all things strawberry fashion, lined Evers and Reynolds streets to catch a glimpse at the 67 parade units. This year Fryed Egg Productions live-streamed the event to Facebook, with Mayor Rick Lott and City Manager Bill McDaniel serving as show hosts. The pair were joined by Plant City-native and FAMU Broadcasting graduate, Cala Callins, as the trio interviewed BerryFine Productions chair Gail Lyons, 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen McKenna Jordan, Citizen of the Year and Festival Board member Sandee Sytsma, and Parade Grand Marshal Sharon Moody. Entries in the parade include marching bands, local businesses, royalty, church groups and more. In the best antique division, Ray Clark FFA won first place; Zendah Grotto won second place, and Historic Stage Coach won third place. In the special feature division, Drawdy’s Dance won first place; Patriot’s Twirling won second place, and DA Kings won third place. In the civic/church division, The Crossings Church won first place; Junior Women’s Club Baby Parade won second place, and Zendah Grotto won third place. In the marching unit division, Strawberry Crest Marching Chargers won first place; Dowdell Middle School Band won second place, and Plant City High School won third place. In the school clubs/youth sports groups division, Strawberry Crest Calendar Girls won first place; Plant City Calendar Girls won second place, and Independence Academy won third place. In the business/commercial division, Rough Riders won first place; Tampa Bay Lightning won second place, and Buzz Cocktails won third place.
2021 Festival in Review
At 6:00 p.m., in the Patterson Livestock Arena in the Grimes Agricultural Center, students from across Hillsborough County participated in the annual Mosaic Youth Steer Show. Before the show began, Paul Davis, General Manager of the Florida Strawberry Festival thanked those in attendance to support the FFA and 4-H students. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting the hard work of our local youth,” Davis said. “Thank you and God bless.” Jackie Marvin, a Durant FFA member, exhibited the grand champion steer. Reserve grand champion was awarded to Jace Stines, a member of Plant City FFA. Strawberry Festival Queen court member Brynne Murphy showed a steer this year.
One of the last days of the Festival, again, highlighted our city’s youth with the Baby Parade. Presented by the Plant City Junior Woman’s Club, the Baby Parade features cute kiddos ages 1 to 4-years-old, competing for the title of Baby Parade King and Queen. The kids create floats, dress up, and parade through the GT Grandstands to a crowd of cheering family and friends.
Youth Plant Sale Winners: Grace Merrell: Grand Champion Carson Buttram: Reserve Grand Champion. Evan Scott exhibited the champion woody ornamentals Owen Baylor exhibited the champion foliage plants Carly Steward exhibited the champion hanging baskets Caden Palmer won the champion liners Alli Taylor exhibited the champion miscellaneous plants. Poultry Exhibit Winners: Kenzie Vasquez: Grand Champion Addison O’Brien: Reserve Grand Champion Ryan Haney: Best opposite sex production Rebecca Bush: Best opposite sex exhibition Shoebox Float Winners: In the first and second grade category: Mason Goff, first place; Cade Brock, second place and Rustyn Sparkman, third place. In the third and fourth grade category: Colton Taylor, first place; Emory West, second place and Rylee Sparkman, third place. In the fifth and sixth grade category, Madison Lackore, first place; Marlee Kraus won second place; Carson Hattaway won third place.
The winners are Queen Caydance Brown, who wore a white dress with royal blue pattern and King Mason Reece , who opted for jeans and a gingham button-down shirt. Each was presented with a crown, robe, and trophy. At 7:00 p.m., in the Patterson Livestock Arena in the Grimes Agricultural Center, 103 students from across Hillsborough County sold their steers in the annual Mosaic Youth Steer Sale. This year, buyers could also bid through cowbuyer.com. If a buyer does not want to keep their steer but rather donate it, they could donate the steer to either the Florida FFA Foundation, the United Food Bank of Plant City, and Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, among other organizations and charities. Jackie Marvin, who had the grand champion steer, sold her steer at $22 per pound with a weight of 1,259 pounds. Jace Stines, who had the reserve grand champion steer, sold his steer at $8 per pound with a weight of 1,238 pounds. When asked about the steer show, Grand Champion Jackie Marvin stated, “I wasn’t planning on showing this year, but a breeder showed me a calf a week after the Strawberry Festival last year, and I fell in love.” She said about her victory, “It felt awesome; going into weigh-in that morning (of the show) I never thought in a million years I would end up winning. It felt great knowing my hard work paid off and all the stress and tears I put in benefited in the long run.”
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Winner: Jason Thimesch
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GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT TAX SEASON By Cierra Craft
As taxpayers prepare for the April 15 tax filing deadline, many are reflecting on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their lifestyle, but how will these impacts affect one's filing status with the IRS? As if 2020 weren’t tumultuous enough due to the severity of the virus and the shutdown of millions of small businesses across the country, this tax season has folks perplexed. Are stimulus payments taxable income? Can workers claim a home-business deduction now and is that office chair purchased to work from home be claimed as an expense? Taxpayers- don’t fret. Get peace of mind and put your trust in Raulerson, Castillo, & Company, a Plant City CPA firm with over 30 years of experience. The Raulerson Castillo team is there to answer any tax-related questions you may have between now and April 15. Firm partners, Dan Raulerson and Irene Castillo, and their team are ready to tackle the tax season ahead and Raulerson shared with FOCUS how the firm is navigating changes in tax legislation, PPP, and the Coronavirus.
SPOTLIGHT: RAULERSON, CASTILLO, & COMPANY PAGE
Share with readers a little history of the firm and the services you provide and the Raulerson Castillo team: The firm started in February of 1985 and has been in Plant City since. We offer accounting system and financial reporting consulting and general ledger maintenance services. We also engage in strategic planning including tax strategies and profit enhancement gameplans. The firm works with clients to guide them in reaching goals and objectives for improving their company’s performance and effectiveness. Our logo is a compass, signifying our work as financial guides for our clients. The firm engages in IRS resolution, estates and trusts, business formation, financial planning and succession planning. Irene is an awesome partner that I am very fortunate to have. She is a genius at operations and quality control. My forte is public and client relations so we call ourselves “Ying and Yang”. The Raulerson Castillo team is made up of seasoned, experienced professionals from CPA’s to certified Quickbooks consultants and accountants. Our website at rcwcpas.com has a detail list of team members and bios. In your opinion, what makes Raulerson, Castillo, & Company different from other CPAs in the area? Our firm is unique in that we help our clients focus on profit enhancement and budgeting for success. We take a holistic approach to managing our client’s needs. We manage client needs on a timely basis and eliminate surprises when they receive the results. Careful planning and strategy are effective in generating excellent results.
Dan Raulerson Raulerson earned his accounting degree in 1979 from Florida State University. A seventh-generation Floridian, he grew up in Brandon but fell in love with Plant City. So much so that he became involved in city government as an elected City Commissioner from 2007 to 2010, before the City Commission elected him to serve as Mayor from 2010 to 2012. In 2012, he was elected to serve District 58 in the Florida House of Representatives. In 2017, Raulerson retired from political office to continue his career in accounting.
The longevity of our staff, commitment to service, and quality product have created an excellent relationship with the community. We recognize that small business is the backbone of our economy and the vast majority of jobs in this country are created by small businesses. It is an honor for us to be in a position to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners with complex regulations and tax law and to make their lives somewhat easier. What tips would you give to readers for choosing a CPA that is right for their business or personal finances? Choose a CPA that you can communicate with and are comfortable with sharing sensitive information. Trust is important, results are imperative. It is important that your trusted advisor asks the right questions and develops an appropriate vision for your needs. Almost every industry was impacted by the coronavirus, CPAs are no exception. How has the profession changed as a result of the pandemic? Our firm has implemented strict office protocols for dealing with the Coronavirus. This is to protect our clients as well as our staff. It is a challenging time for communicating effectively and achieving the results small business demands. More information has been
SPOTLIGHT: RAULERSON, CASTILLO, & COMPANY PAGE
shared electronically than in the past. This has actually resulted in a better exchange of data and information. We have also have been challenged with assisting clients with Payroll Protection Program loans and forgiveness applications. While this has been a good financial shot in the arm for small business it has created a paperwork challenge for accounting firms and banks. However, we are here to help and that is a challenge we are happy to take on.
Irene Castillo Castillo is a 2006 graduate of the University of South Florida, where she earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees in Accounting. While completing the coursework at USF, Castillo interned under Raulerson and joined the firm upon graduation. In 2015, she became a partner in the firm. Currently, Castillo serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and with Aspire, a community women’s organization.
We are in a season of uncertainty, how is your firm preparing for the 2021 tax season? Changes in our country’s leadership always produce change and anxiety. Our firm keeps a close eye on the developments in the tax arena at the federal level. We have excellent relationships with legislative professionals that keep us in touch with any prospective changes on the horizon as it relates to tax law and regulations. Planning and strategy are never more important than when our economic and political environment is going through a drastic change. How will unemployment, PPP, and tax legislation impact taxpayers and preparers this year? What can clients expect on April 15th? Unemployment and the disbursement of benefits has been a literal nightmare in Florida. A deficient state computer system and growing need have put many Florida citizens at risk. This is where Plant City as a community excels. The United Food Bank has received a very large increase in contributions of dollars and food from the community to serve people who, many for the first time, are experiencing unemployment. This is a time that we have to help each other and the Plant City community is exceptionally responsive to those needs. PPP has been good for small business to keep people employed but has also been a bit arduous in administering the paperwork. However, It has been a great help for many businesses to stay open and keep their employees. Tax legislation is something we keep an eye on. It is very hard to predict what Congress will do in a volatile political environment. We expect changes in corporate and individual tax rates as well as capital gain treatment of real estate sales. What those will be has yet to be determined but we are keeping a close watch. We are very honored to be part of a community with a dynamic economy, solid leadership, caring citizens, and a very bright future!
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Plant It Earth By Cierra Craft Photos by Cierra Craft
re aliens invading your neighborhood? They’re not from a galaxy far, far away. No, your neighborhood is being invaded by the team at Plant It Earth. Founded in 2003, Plant It Earth is Tampa Bay’s premier lawn care and pest control company with unmatched expertise, personalized service, and attention to detail. Plant It Earth’s approach to your lawn starts at its roots- literally. A healthy root system is vital to grass, trees, and shrubs to be able to absorb the fertilizer, nutrients, water, and oxygen that keep them nourished and green. Each lawn receives a lawn repair analysis, noting the unique needs of the lawn to achieve a lush, green, diseasefree, and pest-free yard. Other lawn care companies may use “one blend fits all” approaches, blanketing each lawn with the exact same fertilizers, but at Plant It Earth, each truck is equipped with a water tank where technicians can create a customized blend for each customer’s property. This ensures your lawn gets what it needs when it needs it. “This practice isn’t widespread in the lawn care industry,” said Kris Stevens, Operations Manager at Plant It Earth. “This was a
Plant It Earth is operated by a team of people who grew up in this community, from management to technicians, sales, and administration. The PIE team knows this community and take part in supporting community fundraising efforts, events, and supporting our city’s youth sports. “We do a lot in sponsorships with school fundraisers for any of our employees, if they ask for our support for their child or the school, we are there,” said Stevens. “We support little league sports and contribute to Unity in the Community. We recently participated in the Strawberry Festival Grand Parade so we try to be a community partner.”
WELCOME TO THE PLANT IT EARTH FAMILY:
decision our founder Brett Melanson started back in 2003 and it allows us to tailor a mix to what the lawn needs, giving our customers a sense of peace that what’s needs treatment is getting treatment and what doesn’t need treatment isn’t being disturbed.” Plant It Earth assigns two technicians to each lawn, ensuring no stone is left unturned. Plant It Earth’s technicians will ensure your lawn is treated for nutrients, pests, weeds, fungus or diseases. The technicians will also bring your empty garbage receptacle in from the curb and remove wasp nests from the window awnings. “I think one of the reasons we stand out as a company is because we care a lot about what we do,” said Stevens. “We care about our customers and the services we provide. We like to keep technicians on the same route so that they’re able to build that technician-customer relationship.”
With over 10,000 customers across the bay area, customers mention in reviews that they don’t feel like just another lawn, they know their technician by name and feel as though the team at Plant It Earth has their property’s best interest at heart. “Terminix and Orkin don't compare. Ishmael is professional and very friendly. I will recommend [Plant It Earth] to everyone,” said Julie A. “Thank you for turning my partially green lawn into a beautiful, thick sea of gorgeous green!” said Tracey S. “I’ve tried multiple lawn care services and PIE has kept my grass looking the best,” said Noel R. “They also have great customer service, they call frequently to discuss the care and how they can improve. We appreciate their attention to our lawn!”
Plant It Earth offers five primary services: • Lawn, Tree, & Shrubs: Plant It Earth offers fertilization, weed control, insect control, and disease control to protect your most expensive investment- your home. • Indoor Pest Control: Plant It Earth’s Pest Control Services protects you and your family against ants, roaches, silverfish, spiders, etc. With free service calls and appointments, Plant It Earth will also sweep awnings, eves, and playgrounds. • Core Aeration: This service removes small plugs of your lawn, creating pockets down to the root system. This allows nutrients, oxygen, and water to reach the roots and results in thicker, green turf, deeper roots and discourages weed growth. • Fire Ant Control: Plant It Earth’s treatment has been proven effective on over 1.5 million lawns through the Southeast. This will protect your lawn for up to one full year and provides as much control as three or four applications of normal bait. • Palm Tree Program: Give your palms the royal treatment with quarterly injections of antibiotics to prevent and reverse Lethal Bronzing. Deep Root Feeding for superior delivery of nutrients and free insect and fungus control. 3208 Sydney Road | Plant City, FL 33566 | (813) 777-7938 | plantitearthflorida.com Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM | Facebook: @plantitearthflorida | Instagram: @plant_it_earth PAGE
RISING STAR Elizabeth
West By Katie Hamilton Elizabeth West is a senior at Strawberry Crest High School and runs cross country and track. Elizabeth plans to attend Florida State University even though she will not be participating in their athletics program. Elizabeth is coached by Coach Peace and Coach Burris who keep the team moving. Elizabeth states “They both dedicate so much of their free time to be there for our team and to push us to be better.” While on the track, Elizabeth has lots to focus on which could mean lots of pressure, so a positive support system is key. Elizabeth explains “My biggest supporters would have to be my teammates, at every single meet we’re all there cheering for one another whether we’re racing against each other or not.” Elizabeth continues this statement by describing their bond “My relationship with my team is one of the sweetest things. Our team is like no other, from fun Fridays, to question of the day, to cheering louder than the cheer team when we are supporting each other.” For Elizabeth, fun Friday is every Friday where their team does a fun activity together. One of the key ingredients to a successful team is team bonding. Along with a supportive team, Elizabeth must keep her focus while on the track she states her main reasoning for running track. “I like that this sport is a mental challenge,” said Elizabeth. “And though you do need to be in shape, one of the most difficult things can be knowing how hard to push yourself and it’s something you get to test every time you’re on the track.” Because Elizabeth is a senior, she wants to make the most of it she tries to maintain a positive mindset while participating, explaining “I keep myself motivated, especially this season, by reminding myself that these are the final days and the final memories that I’ll have with this team and doing this sport.” With all the improvements Elizabeth has made, she shares the gains she has made in her sport: “This season, the biggest difference in my running has been my form. We got new coaches this year and they have really been helping me work on things that I hadn’t paid attention to before, including my form.” Utilizing the differences in her form Elizabeth has set herself up for more goals asserting, “My long-term goals are to just make the most of my final times running in high school. My short-term goal is to set my personal record this season in both the 800 and the mile. Currently, I’m only 4 seconds from my mile personal record.” PAGE
Team of the Month PCHS Bassmasters By Katie Hamilton
he Plant City High School Fishing team is an excellent group of boys who enjoy the simplicity of being out on the water. The team has had remarkable success this season, from the six tournaments around Florida, at least one of their teams has reached the top 20% and at the national level, the boys reached top 80% out of 140 teams. The team mom, Sheryl Vitelli, claims “They do very well for the team’s size.” The fishing team is eager to grow and is taking applicants. When asked why high schoolers should join the fishing team, Quentin Silas, an 11th grader at PCHS stated, “It's a lifestyle and it's an experience of something you wouldn’t typically see in any other sport.” The fishing experience consists of a twoman team with their own boat and captain. The team unanimously agreed that the captains play a significant role in the success of their team helping with guidance and what baits to use while
out on the water. The boys are not technically a team under the PCHS charter, so they lack a coach, but when they fall short, they have two key things: 1) each other, and 2) YouTube. Silas also described how YouTube may come in for their benefit, with information on new lakes, what bait to use on them, and information that is key to note when fishing. Every boy on the team is responsible for logging everything they catch and memorizing the seasons, bait, and the types of water they are fishing on. The boys practice up to 2 months before their competition and every weekend a few weeks ahead. Their dedication shines through making them a remarkable team. One of the boys, senior Colten Drawdy, and displayed a great bond with his team while talking over zoom. Colten explained, “I really will miss being on this team next year- I especially will miss the boys that are on this team with me.”
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Maker: Shaquille Mitchell By Heather Davis
he art and magic of creating music is a many layered process. So much more is involved beyond putting together a musical arrangement or beat with some catchy lyrics. Local Producer Shaquille Mitchell knows first hand what it takes to put together instruments, sounds and ideas to create a complete song. Music producers are often defined as the unsung heroes behind the scenes in popular music. However they are key to actually pulling together and implementing the whole song making process from start to finish. Shaquille has his hands in many different aspects of producing and recording. He records and produces music full time in his home studio Blesspool Recordings. As a young child he grew up listening to the sounds of old school music his parents played on vinyl. This early exposure led to a life time love towards music that gives him the drive and passion for what he does today. Mostly self taught Shaquille began laying beats and composing hiphop instrumentals almost straight out of high school. All of his hard work and dedication paid off when his music was placed on one of Billboards top 200 spots. Rappers Reason and Skyzoo have both used music produced by Shaquille and his arrangements have been met with praise and acclaim. Always full of creative energy and exploration, Shaquille also co-created along with Kayvious Campbell and Jeremiah Cooper a podcast known as Blesspool Podcast. When I asked Shaquille where the name Blesspool came from he replied with a straight face,"blesspool is the opposite of cesspool." Blesspool Podcast had a run of two seasons with sixteen episodes total. Their endeavor is to supply content that includes raw, impersonal conversation which serves as a sense of therapy for the community during trying times. Giving voices to the unheard! Even though Blesspool Podcast has only been alive for two seasons it was nominated for best podcast for the Best of the Bay 2020. When I asked Shaquille what his hopes, dreams and goals were for the future he replied by saying he wants to stay "creative and consistent." He is also hard at work at pursuing his dream of being signed up with a publishing deal that would give him the creative edge of being paid to create new beats and content for artists on a continual basis. Shaquille also added he always wants to be the best dad possible for his three year old daughter. To find out more information about Blesspool Recordings you can find Shaquille Mitchell on Instagram and Soundcloud at Sam Illy Beats and on Bandcamp at artemitchell.
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Faith He is Risen By Cheryl Johnston
aster celebrations at area churches may look a little different this year because of COVID-19, but one tradition will continue. The entire Plant City community is invited to celebrate Christ’s resurrection at the annual Easter Sunrise Service at Walden Lake Park on Timberlane Drive. This special service is hosted by Plant City Church of God. Folks can arrive before sunrise and bring their own chairs or enjoy those provided. They can come as they are or dress up in their Easter finest. They can walk or jog to the site, ride bikes, or even drive golf carts. And all can enjoy the beautiful early morning in one of the City’s most scenic settings. But no matter what one’s style is for this special service, the reason for the gathering remains one of the religious calendar’s highlights. A look back in history reveals the first Easter Sunrise Service recorded happened in 1732 with the Moravian congregation at Herrnhut in the Upper Lusatian hills of Saxony, Germany. After an all-night prayer vigil, the community’s unmarried men, known as Single Brethren, assembled at God’s Acre, the graveyard on the hill above town to sing praises to the Risen Savior. The following year found the whole Congregation involved. From that humble beginning, the Easter Sunrise Service spread around the world with the Moravian missionaries. Many Southern cities celebrate Other well-known and long-running services include: Bok Tower Gardens will host its 95th annual service virtually (as in 2020). Although typically held on the garden’s Great Lawn with thousands gathered, the 2021 worship program will be streamed on Facebook and at https://boktowergardens. org/join-us-live/. Visitors take the skylift to the service atop Stone Mountain, Georgia (since 1944) Historic Jamestown Island in Virginia: worshipers have gathered at the Foot of the Cross next to the James River annually since the 1950s. People from all over the world will attend the 42nd Lincoln Memorial Easter Sunrise Service in Washington, D.C. Again this year, Pastor Jeffrey Robinson of the Plant City Church of God will welcome worshippers and deliver the Good News of our Risen Christ at the platform overlooking Walden Lake. Please arrive early on Resurrection Sunday and become part of our lovely community’s faith-expressing tradition.
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Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens
ho remembers...McDonald's is your kinda place, it's such a happy place, McDonald's is your kinda place? That's the jingle that I remember from days gone by. Back when going to McDonald's was a treat on a Friday or Saturday night for the entire family, not a place where busy parents drove through the drive-thru and tossed a bag of food in the back seat for hungry kids to gobble down in between Soccer practice and Karate lessons. Boy, things have sure changed. When I was a little girl, the closest McDonald's was on Memorial Blvd. in Lakeland, and when we went out to eat, the whole family went out to eat. Everyone was bathed, neatly dressed, and on their best behavior. Going out to eat was exciting. I can remember back to the mid 1960's when McDonald's had no inside dining. You walked up to the window and placed your order and either ate your food at home, in your car, or sat outside at a table with an umbrella. The restaurant itself was covered in red and white subway tiles with huge glass windows and had bench seating wrapped around the building so you could sit while waiting for your order or children like my sister and I could stand on the tile seats outside and watch through the big glass windows as they cooked the burgers and fries. About 1970, McDonald's revamped their restaurants to include a bigger menu aswell-as inside dining. The menu went from: Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, French-Fries, Coco-Cola, Root Beer, Orange Drink, Milk Shakes, and Fried Apple Pies to include: Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, Filet-O-Fish Sandwiches, McDonaldland Cookies, and the Tripple Ripple which was pre-packaged ice cream cone. McDonald's was becoming the most popular up-and-coming restaurant chain at that time. All of the sudden, we turned on our Television sets and there was Ronald McDonald introducing the "Hamburglar" and "Mayor McCheese". We as kids had never seen such. Soon we could buy: Ronald McDonald Yo-Yo's, Plastic Puppets, collect Ronald McDonald and friend's drinking glasses, and there was even a McDonald's Travel Game. Ronald McDonald was becoming so popular with kids in the United States that we
could get up early on Sunday mornings before Church, turn on our Television sets to Channel 8, and read the Funny Papers along with Ronald. All the kids sang the new McDonald's jingle: "Two all Beef patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions, on a Sesame Seed Bun!" We thought that we were "Hot-Stuff" back then! But, let me tell what was hot, it was the mouthwatering Filet-O-Fish, the French-Fries, and the Apple Pies that were deep-fried in hot and bubbly Animal Fat!!! YUM-YUM! McDonald's french-fries were the best, but they don't and they won't ever make them like that ever again. Sambo's Restaurant in Lakeland was another childhood favorite of mine. Sambo's was a chain of restaurants popular in the 1960's and 1970's. The restaurant chain featured inexpensive family dining with a theme and very colorful decor based on an old children's book about a little Indian boy who went into the jungle and lost his be-jeweled hat, jacket, and golden shoes to three jealous and bullying tigers. One tiger took his jeweled jacket, the next tiger took his hat, and the third tiger took Sambo's golden shoes and put them on. The tigers were so jealous of each other that they chased each other around a tree until they turned into melted butter, and that is what Sambo ate on his delicious pancakes, Thus-came the name "Tiger Butter". I saved a Sambo's menu from my childhood and their slogan read as follows: Sambo's is a family friendly restaurant...with over 100 delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner items available 24 hours a day, everyday. PLUS an inviting atmosphere, friendly, efficient waitresses, and plenty of free parking. Our prices are suprisingly reasonable too-including all the coffee you can drink for a dime. Wherever you're headed, there's a Sambo's along the way... waiting for you. There were two locations in Lakeland, one at 1345 W. Memorial Blvd. and the second was located at 2410 South Florida Ave. Several of the Menu items were: The "Sambo-Burger"-Ground beef patty on toasted bun, garnished with tomato, lettuce, pickle, and special dressing for 90 cents, with cheese $1.00 The "Deluxe Sambo-Burger Combo Platter"Our delicious Sambo-Burger with tomato, lettuce, pickle, and special dressing. Served
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with French-Fries and tossed crisp green salad with choice of dressing, for: $1.50, with cheese $1.60. "Sambo Fried Chicken"- Golden Crisp fried chicken served with tomato garnish, FrenchFried potatoes, soup or tossed green salad with your choice of dressing for $2.30. "Desserts"-Ice Cream Sundaes, small 40 cents and large 70 cents, Carrot Cake for 60 cents, Fruit Gelatin for 40 cents, and Strawberry Shortcake for 60 cents. "Sambo Special Breakfast"- Six Sambo cakes, one fresh ranch egg, and two strips of lean bacon, syrup, and our famous "Tiger-Butter" for $1.00, with juice $1.30. "Beverages"- Coffee for 10 cents, Hot Chocolate 25 cents, Milk 25 cents, and colas for 25 cents. Oh! and about the "Tiger-Butter", I remember the first time that my sister Karen ordered the "Sambo Special Breakfast", The waitress put her plate down and said: "here are your Sambo cakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, syrup, along with our delicious "Tiger-Butter". My sister took one look at her butter and asked the waitress (with the innocent eyes of a child) "Where are the stripes on my "Tiger-Butter?" We all got a good laugh out of that one. Well, here we are some forty years later and much to my dismay...Sambo's restaurants are no longer! The abandoned location of the restaurant at 2410 South Florida Ave. was used back in 1990 to film the Tim Burton movie: Edward Scissorhands, starring: Johnny Depp, Vincent Price, and Winona Ryder. The location scouts for the movie found this particular Sambo's restaurant with boarded up windows and upon removal of the boards felt as if t hey had just stepped back in time. The movie crew cleaned up the inside and began filming. "Whooda Thunk?" McDonald's on Memorial Blvd. has been rebuilt from the ground up several times and now includes so many different menu items it is too hard to count! The "Hamburglar" and "Mayor McCheese" have gone into retirement, and the "Tiger-Butter", well I think that is just a hotmelted memory!!!
Drive-By Visit with the Easter Bunny 9:00AM-11:00AM Visit the Easter Bunny from Your Car Easter Baskets | Crafts & Goodies | Donut Holes & Drinks Walden Lake Community Association @ 3035 Griffin Blvd Cost: Free (Must Pre-Register) Info: Bette Guarino at betteg@ waldenlake.org or phone 813-754-8999
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
Ribbon Cutting @ Wish Farms 11:00AM-12:00PM Ribbon-Cutting | Community Strawberries Wish Farms @100 Stearns St Cost: Free Info: 813-754-3707
6:00PM-7:00PM Yoga |Learn About Current Featured Wine @ Keel & Curley |Wildflower Yogi Keel & Curley Winery @5202 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: $10 (Includes Yoga Practice & Glass of Wine) | Limited to 15 Attendees Info: 813-752-9100
Dean’s Ride 7:30AM 4 Cycling Distances (60-Mile - Metric Century; 34-Mile - Half-Metric Century; 20-Mile - Quarter-Metric Century; 9-Mile - Family Route) | Proceeds go to Plant City YMCA | Lunch & Craft Beer | Music Keel & Curley Winery @5202 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: $50 thru Mar. 17, $55 thru Mar. 26, $65 on Event Day | www. RegisterDeansRide.com Info: 813-752-9100
Walk for Life
Drink ‘n’ Doodle 7:00PM-9:00PM Casual Art | Bring Your Own Materials Wine & Craft Beer Keel & Curley Winery @5202 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Info: 813-752-9100 PAGE
5:00PM-9:00PM Live Music | Market Vendors | Family & Pet Friendly McCall Park @ 100 N. Collins St Cost: Free Info: 813-764-9516
Trunk or TrEaster 10:00AM-12:00PM Easter-Themed Trunks | Candy | Games & Door Prizes | Bring an Easter Basket GraceWay Church of Plant City @ 3106 S. Wiggins Rd Cost: Free Info: GraceWay365.com or 813-752-4879
Yoga Wine Tasting
1st Annual Spring Gem & Mineral Show
Last Friday in Downtown
20 & 21
10:00AM-5:00PM Gems & Minerals | Fossils Jewelry & Jewelry-Making Supplies Sadye Gibbons Martin Community Center @302 S. Maryland Ave Cost: Adults, $5; Teens 12-16 & Students w/ I.D., $4; Kids Under 12, Free; Active Military, $4; Parking, Free Info: 813-659-4253 or info@ tampabayrockclub.org
8:30AM-11:00AM Walk through Downtown Plant City | Proceeds go Towards the Purchase of a Medical Mobile Unit | Prizes | Refreshments Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City @ 304 N. Collins St Cost: Free- Walkers Raise Money & Will Receive Free Shirt with $100+ Raised Info: Sandi Nelson @ 813-759-0886 or email@example.com
Glow in the Dark Easter Egg Hunt 7:30PM (Egg Hunt will Take Place around 8:30PM) Family Fun | Easter Egg Hunt | Glow in the Dark Faith Lighthouse Church @ 3409 Paul Buchman HWY Cost: Free (Must Pre-Register Online) Info: 813-752-1885
a Gallery of Plant City
Baby Contest On March 7, the area's youngest residents competed in the annual Baby Contest, presented by South Florida Baptist Hospital. The contest awards the prettiest girl, most handsome boy, the best fastest crawler and the winner of the Diaper Derby. This gallery is sponsored by First Response Heating and Cooling.
d a. In the costume contest, competitors decorate their diaper in the Festival’s theme. This little one showcased a train and railroad tracks for the 2021 Festival theme “All Aboard.” b. This little man, Carson, wore a bright green pickup truck filled with strawberries to commemorate the 2021 Festival. c. Cherokee Jackson competed in the Prettiest Girl Contest for ages 10-12 months. Cherokee was named the winner of the category and escorted by her mom throughout the competition. Cherokee wore a strawberry onesie- fitting for the Festival occasion. d. The Baby Contests invites girls and boys throughout the area to compete in a number of categories including best costume, Most Handsome Boy, Prettiest Girl, a Diaper Derby and Fastest Crawler. This little man wore denim overalls, suspenders and a plaid shirt of the competition. e. Lane Riley was named the winner of the Most Handsome Boy for ages 10-12 months. Lane’s big blue eyes won the judges over as he showcased his casual wear outfit. PAGE
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a Gallery of Plant City
Grand Parade Day On March 8, civic organizations, small businesses and schools marched through downtown in the annual Grand Parade. The following groups were chosen as the winners of the Grand Parade: Civic & Church 1st place. The Crossings Church 2nd place. Jr Women’s Club Baby Parade 3rd place. Zendah. Grotto (float)
Marching Units 1st. Strawberry Crest HS Band 2nd. Dowdell Middle School Band 3rd. Plant City High School Special Features 1st. Drawdy’s Dance 2nd. Patriots Twirling 3rd. DA Kings School Club Youth Sport misc 1st. Strawberry crest Calendar Girls 2nd Plant City Calendar Girls 3rd. Independence Academy
Antique Vehicle 1st. Ray Clark FFA 2nd. Zendah Grotto 3rd. Historic Stage Coach Business and Commercial 1st Rough Riders 2nd. Tampa Lightning 3rd. Buzz Cocktails This gallery of photos is sponsored by Florida Insurance Center, Inc.
a. For the first time in parade history, the event was live streamed on Facebook. Mayor Rick Lott and City Manager Bill McDaniel invited guests like Grand Marshal Sharon Moody to join them. McDaniel asked Moody if she was practicing her best parade wave.
b. Joe Diaz of Plant It Earth tossed pink and gold beads to kids and families along the route. This year, parade entries were asked to not pass out candy and limit their parade swag to beads, stress balls, frisbees, and other items. c. Parade entries weren’t limited to only floats. Egypt Shrine out of Riverview brought out clowns and these bumper car vehicles to the parade. d. MyTown Barbershop’s Carlos Pagan cut a customers hair while on the float. The demonstration showcased Pagan’s skills as an award-winning barber and awed the crowd as his precision. e. Toni’s Academy, a hair salon, barbershop, and nail studio, used the Grand Parade as an opportunity to advertise their business. They passed out beads and other goodies for the crowd. f. Sgt. Al Van Duyne was among the Plant City Police officers who led the processional through the downtown streets. The officers were then followed by Plant City Fire and Hillsborough County Sheriff. PAGE
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Queen’s Exhibit Unveiling On March 1, the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Exhibit was unveiled to 2021 Queen McKenna Jordan, First Maid Avery Surrency, and court members Brynne Murphy, Kate Turner, and KellieAnne Kirkland. The Neighborhood Village exhibit features the blue gown worn by Jordan during the January 23 pageant and photos from the event. This year, co-chairs Dodie White and Marsha Passmore also chose to showcase the gown of 1940 Strawberry Queen Catherine Fletcher in the exhibit. Photography sponsored by Hungry Howie’s Plant City
g a. First Maid Avery Surrency, Court Member Kate Turner, Court Member Brynne Murphy, Exhibit Co-Chair Marsha Passmore, Queen McKenna Jordan and Court Member KellieAnne Kirkland enjoy viewing the 1940 Queen’s gown. b. The gown of 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen McKenna Jordan. This is the gown Queen McKenna wore during the pageant and is featured in her official Queen portrait. c. Strawberry Festival Chairman Dub McGinnes welcomed everyone to the Neighborhood Village and thanked them for attending the Queens Exhibit. d. Every Queen (1930-present) is on display in the Festival’s Neighborhood Village. Each year, a photo of the Queen and her court is framed with a gold plaque proudly displaying her name. e. The Queen & Court enjoyed their gifts from Queen Exhibit co-chairs Marsha Passmore and Dodie White. f. The Queen & Court are in awe of Queen’s from the past. g. The Queen and Court posed with Festival Associate Director Lori Yarborough (far left), Donna Keel (second from the right), and Pam Warnock (far right). h. Festival officials, as well as family and friends of the Queen and Court, were invited to view the Queen’s Exhibit, including photographs and artifacts from previous royalty. PAGE
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