FOCUS Plant City 21-04

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the warming heat of habanero + the sweetness of


mango will keep you coming back for more.






Contents Table of



By Cierra Craft When one thinks of our sweet town, thoughts of trains, berries, and old brick buildings in the downtown district come to mind. This month, FOCUS dove into the history books to learn more about three historic sites off the beaten path.





By Cierra Craft

By Cierra Craft

Mother’s Day is May 8. In honor of all mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and more, we asked our Facebook followers to submit photo tributes to the women in their lives. Check out this gallery of love devoted to the women who raised us.

First Call recently celebrated its third anniversary as the nation’s first church dedicated to First Responders. Led by Dr. Dan Middlebrooks, the congregation at First Call comprises those who serve and protect, their families, and friends. Learn more about how this little church in Dover is making a big impact in Tampa Bay and beyond.



FOCUS PLANT CITY / Issue 21-04 / April 2022


Mike Floyd


Cierra Craft




Anthony Sassano

Candy Owens

Tony DeVane


Cheryl Johnston Jennifer Jordan


Candy Owens Natalie Sweet Sam Poirier

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.



By Cierra Craft JayCor Homes is a third-generation developer in Tampa Bay. Together with realtor Maggie Beard, JayCor Homes is building much-needed pocket neighborhoods throughout Plant City. Learn more about this developer building forever homes for Plant City families.

So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and inform it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 7078783 or e-mail The staff will fix the error in a timely manner. FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local Plant City businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Advertisers warrant and represent the descriptions of their products advertised are true in all respects. Focus Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters and their contents sent to Focus Magazine become the sole property of Floyd Publications, Inc and may be reproduced thereof. All views expressed in all articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Floyd Publications, Inc. Use or duplication of material used in this publication is prohibited without approved written consent from Floyd Publications, Inc.



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Jess Anderson index pg MAR22.indd 1



2/7/2022 7:49:50 AM




From The





My son Zy has always had a competitive spirit. As some of you may know, I was a motocross rider, as was Zy. So, it was no surprise to me when he joined the Plant City Dolphins football team a few years ago. Now, closing his freshman year at Riverview, Zy has joined both the Sharks’ football and track teams. His commitment to his sports doesn’t end there, after a full day of school and two team practices, Zy usually hits the gym. He is full throttle to be the best athlete he can be. His speed on the track is really something and I’m proud of his discipline and desire to be the best he can be. He knows dreams don’t work unless you do. But, in watching Zy at his track meet earlier this month, I realized I need to ease off the gas more often to enjoy these moments with him. Whether it’s riding electric bikes on Daytona Beach or wakeboarding on the lake, I know in a few years he will graduate high school and I want to look back on these years with memories of time spent together. I hope to share more of those memories made together in future Publisher’s Letters. We live in a society that emphasizes hustle, work hard, and grind, but that can be a slippery slope towards exhaustion and burnout. I’m working towards finding a better balance between being a business owner and a dad. It seems to be a universal concern for parents as we try to balance work and being the type of parent we want to be. This doesn’t mean I am stepping away from my businesses—I’m just choosing to invest in my role as a dad. This dad is proud of his son for stepping on the gas in sports, but I’m closing those emails to toss the football and have some fun.

Warmest Regards,

Mike Floyd

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Behind the Wheel: Plant City Locals Offer Drivers License Instruction & Testing



By Cierra Craft


s of October 2021, the state of Florida’s drivers license services are available by appointment only, creating a three to four-month waiting period for those looking to secure a driver’s license exam with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. Outside of high school driver education, Plant City drivers have limited options to take professional, behind-the-wheel instruction and take their driver’s license road test. All Class Drivers, now servicing Plant City, is a driving school with a mission to provide Florida drivers the opportunity to build confidence behind the wheel and get their driver’s licenses in a timely and convenient way. Any lessons taken with All Class Drivers include one driver’s license road test. “Our lessons are built upon our 3 pillars: Safety through knowledge of traffic laws and control of the vehicle, Responsibility of the vehicle and all passengers, and Situational Awareness through an undivided focus on the road,” said owner and Plant City native Kip Wynne. “Our instructors, examiners, and vehicles are FLHSMV approved.” Applicants may opt into at-home pick-up for lessons as well as choose to use a personal vehicle or one of All Class Drivers’ cars. Applicants may also schedule a driver’s license road test without taking lessons, simply skipping the DMV line. Driving schools are not for everyone, but if you lack the necessary time to teach your child how to drive, would like the help of a professional, and/ or want a time-efficient way to get a driver’s license, All Class Drivers can help. To learn more about All Class Drivers, or to schedule driving lessons or a road test, visit or contact All Class Drivers at 813-4537507 or



HERE IS YOUR CLUE: CAN YOU SAY: “SUPERFLY”??? NO!!! IT’S NOT CURTIS MAYFIELD!!! Check out his GROOVY Planet of the Apes Tee Shirt!!! Even at an early age, this little PLANT CITIAN was a SHOW STOPPER with Sports, Music, Personality, and Fashion. He is a World Traveler who’s purpose is to spread the Gospel. I CANT GIVE YOU ANY MORE HINTS!! BUT.... IF HE WALKS PAST YOU....YOU WILL HEAR CURTIS MAYFIELD SINGING “SUPERFLY”!!!

IF YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS CALL CANDY O AT FOCUS MAGAZINE! 813-707-8783 The first 3 people to guess the correct person will win a PRIZE!!!! (The TRUE identity will be given in next month’s FOCUS Magazine) LAST MONTH’S PERSONALITY: BETHANY NEWSOME

Bill McDaniel Leads First City Manager Photo Walk By Jennifer Jordan


n Saturday, March 19, photographers, nature enthusiasts, and members of the community were invited to the first-ever City Manager Photo Walk. The photo walk, which was held at the 363-acre McIntosh Preserve, was led by City Manager Bill McDaniel, who showed attendees many photograph opportunities and spots. When asked about the motivation to hold a City Manager photo walk, McDaniel said, “The Parks and Recreation Department is constantly creating programs to get people outside and involved in the parks. Since I enjoy walking trails and am a little bit of a hobbyist photographer, I was more than willing to work with them to make this photo walk happen.” McDaniel also explained the current and future projects that are happening at McIntosh Preserve, which include a lake and another observation tower with a view of downtown Plant City. Plant City Parks and Recreation Environmental Lands Management Supervisor Chris Foster educated attendees on the various native and invasive plants, such as blackberry bushes, Caesar’s weed, and coral ardisia. Foster also took photo walk attendees off the trail for a few moments to view and photograph a beautiful cardinal air plant, a plant that was recently removed from the threatened species list. As the walk continued, Foster also explained which plants were poisonous, such as the Florida native American pokeweed. The walk gave nature photographers beautiful and scenic picture opportunities and an incredible view from the 30-foot ADA-compliant observation tower. City Manager Bill McDaniel pointed out his favorite spot at the preserve, a small pond near the observation tower where otters have been seen. As the photo walk ended, McDaniel stated, “Thank you everyone for coming out. Please tell your friends about McIntosh Preserve, because with more people knowing about this place, more work will be done to improve the preserve and more places like this will be available to residents in the future.” If you would like to check out McIntosh Preserve, the preserve is located at 775 E. Knights Griffin Road. It is open from sunrise to sunset and features 2.2 miles of trails. For more information about McIntosh Preserve, call 813-659-4255 or visit PAGE





Hundreds Pedal through North Plant City for 10th Annual Dean’s Ride By Jennifer Jordan


n the early morning of Saturday, March 26, over 200 riders from over 45 different cities came out to Keel and Curley Winery to participate in the 10th annual Dean’s Ride. Dean’s Ride began in 2013 by Dean Snyder to share his love of biking, and the event continues every year to not only pay tribute to his legacy of strength and honor but to raise awareness for cancer and money for Livestrong at the YMCA. Snyder was involved in many organizations and clubs around Plant City and passed away in 2013 from esophageal cancer after the first Dean’s Ride. Due to Snyder’s battle with cancer, Dean’s Ride uses the money raised to fund Livestrong at the YMCA, a 12-week program that aims to provide adults who are battling cancer with free strength, endurance, and balance exercise sessions. It gives survivors the opportunity to connect with other survivors and receive both physical and social support. Before the ride began, Paul Conley, the Executive Director of the YMCA, stated, “Thank you all for being here and for supporting those who have been affected by cancer. The over 10 thousand dollars raised today will benefit many survivors as the YMCA continues to offer programs such as Livestrong.” During Dean’s Ride, bike riders 14 and older were able to take in beautiful scenic country views and choose between four cycling distances: a nine-mile family trail, a 20-mile quarter-metric century, a 34-mile half-metric century, and a 60-mile metric century. Riders were required to wear helmets, and route support and sag stops—rest stops with refreshments—were set up throughout the routes to give riders the opportunity for breaks. Riders were asked to line up according to pace, so faster riders could start out front. The U.S. Spyder Ryders provided escort support, and Greg Frederickson acted as the sag van support for anyone who might have needed assistance. Pre-ride snacks, refreshments and post-ride lunch, craft beer, wine, and cider were provided by many sponsors including (but not limited to) Keel Farms, Power Design, Case Contracting, Rotary International, Roots Tap Room & Wine Bar, and My Wife Buys Mobile Homes. Pint City Brew Club also offered free samples of beer. A great event that benefits a wonderful cause, Dean’s Ride has proven after 10 years to be an event that will continue for many more decades to come. If you would like to learn more about Dean’s Ride and Livestrong, call the YMCA at 813-224-9622 (ext. 1294) or email Dawn Kita at



Camp Invention Will Return to Plant City this Summer


By Cierra Craft

amp Invention—a summer program fostering children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through hands-on activities—will return to Plant City this summer for its eighth consecutive year. The Florida Strawberry Festival’s Arthur Boring Building will host the camp from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from June 6 to June 10. Registration is open for students from Kindergarten through 7th grade for $265 per child. Register before May 18, and save $15 with code EXPLORE15. Register two siblings, save $30 with code SIBLOVE30 and save $40 when three or more siblings register with code SIBLOVE40. A program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Camp Invention challenges children to tap into their natural curiosity and use their creativity to solve problems. The camp builds confidence, leadership, perseverance, and resourcefulness; and encourages entrepreneurship — all in a fun and engaging environment. All local Camp Invention programs are facilitated and taught by certified educators who reside and teach in the community. Camp Invention’s Plant City program is led by Paul Coletti, a fourth-grade teacher at Walden Lake Elementary School. Camp Invention serves 130,000 students every year and partners with more than 1,800 schools and districts across the nation. For more information or to register, visit or call 800-968-4332.




3012 James L Redman Parkway Plant City, FL 33566

(813) 707-0520

INNER 2020 W


2021 WIN








Walden Lake Review BY NATALIE SWEET


Local Scholarships to High School Seniors By Cierra Craft


s our local high school seniors wrap up their final school year, many local nonprofit organizations are offering scholarships to deserving students to help cover the cost of books, room and board fees, etc. Here is your guide to the scholarships for the graduating senior in your life:

The Arts Council of Plant City offers $1,000 to graduating seniors with a 3.5 GPA or higher and seeking a degree in Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual or Literary Arts. Students must attend Plant City, Strawberry Crest or Durant High School and visit to apply and applications should send in their completed application to Melissa Hart at melissa. Unity in the Community awards 10 $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors from Plant City, Durant, Strawberry Crest, or Simmons Career Center with plans to attend a community college or work towards a bachelor’s degree at a four-year accredited college. Those seeking to attend a trade or technical school also qualify. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA or higher and completed a minimum of 75 hours of community service. Plant City, Durant, Strawberry Crest, and Simmons Career Center staff will select a maximum of six applicants from their respective schools and submit the applications to Unity in the Community for the final scholarship selection. A Unity in the Community committee will review the applications of the pre-screened students, interview the applicants, and select winners and alternates. The scholarship recipient must use it during the academic year following completion of course work at Plant City, Durant, Strawberry Crest, or Simmons Career Center. The recipient must attend the awards recognition meeting to acknowledge being chosen for the scholarship. If a winner does not fulfill these requirements, the scholarship will be awarded to an alternate. To apply, visit, scroll down to the scholarship page and click the Apply For Scholarships image. Plant City Garden Club offers two $1,000 scholarships to students pursuing a career in six fields of study: Biology; Botany; Conservation and/ or Forestry; Environmental Studies; Horticulture; and Landscape Design. Scholarship forms are available at the Durant High School, Plant City High School, and Strawberry Crest High School guidance counselors’ office or the club’s website: The deadline to apply is May 1 and applicants are required to submit a personal letter describing their background, goals, commitment to career and how the goals support the Plant City Garden Club Mission Statement; Letters of Recommendation from two instructors/ professors for your school/college; list of honors, extracurricular activities, work experiences, volunteering, military service, as well as a copy of the transcripts from the school/college.



alden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 7:00 at the Walden Lake Community Association office building on Griffin Boulevard in Walden Lake. The next meetings will be held on April 25th and May 16th. The Annual meeting is scheduled for April 21st at the Church of God at 6:30. Please keep an eye on the announcement boards at all entrances for dates and times of special meetings and events. Meetings are now being held in person although you can still log in to and view the meeting virtually as well as the video of the meeting will be posted on the website. The City of Plant City Commissioners have set two meetings to hear residents’ concerns about the potential development in Walden Lake, on May 16th and 18th at The Trinkle Center. The developer, Walden Lake LLC will also have the opportunity to speak to its proposal. It is important for all homeowners in Walden Lake to attend this meeting to hear firsthand what plans are being proposed for the old golf course. The HOA is adding new information as it is received on our website,, and it can be found under the “News” tab. Electronic Recycling is being brought to residents by The Sweet Team at Keller Williams Realty on Friday, April 29th from Noon to 2:00. They will be at the HOA Office/ Sports Complex on Griffin Boulevard. Any questions can be directed to with the Subject Line of Electronic Recycling. Watch for information in the Newsletter and on Nextdoor. The food trucks at the HOA Building/Sports Complex are on the second Fridays and last Sundays of each month. If you have not taken advantage of the delicious offerings, give it a try! Watch for more information from emails coming from the HOA, the entrance boards, and on Nextdoor. During the month of March, there were 19 sales in Walden Lake and 4 sales in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $388,564 and an average of 2245 square feet and was on the market for an average of 8 days.

The March sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 106 Seville Drive South / $215,000 / 1581 / 2 Car / Community 3343 Silvermoon Drive / $220,000 / 2027 / 2 Car / No 2005 Preservation Drive / $230,000 / 1840 / 2 Car / Community 1907 Poplar Court / $290,000 / 1626 / 2 Car / Community 2716 Golf Lake Drive / $302,000 / 1503 / 2 Car / No 1702 Sagebrush Road / $322,000 / 1546 / 2 Car / No 1402 Walden Oaks Place / $334,000 / 2002 / 2 Car / Private 3448 Silver Meadow Way / $335,000 / 1899 / 2 Car / No 3403 Silver Glen Court / $335,000 / 2012 / 2 Car / No 515 Sandalwood Drive / $337,500 / 1590 / 2 Car / No 1709 Brookstone Way / $340,000 / 1668 / 2 Car / No 3328 Silverpond Drive / $350,000 / 1650 / 2 Car / Private 3334 Steinbeck Place / $409,900 / 1962 / 2 Car / Private 508 Sandalwood Drive / $420,000 / 2574 / 3 Car / No 2922 Spring Hammock Drive / $425,000 / 2432 / 2 Car / Private 2702 Spring Meadow Drive / $440,000 / 2001 / 2 Car / Private 4104 Concord Way / $475,000 / 2350 / 2 Car / Private 2807 Pine Club Drive / $480,000 / 2338 / 2 Car / Private 3019 Forest Club Drive / $495,000 / 2567 / 3 Car / No 2906 Clubhouse Drive / $500,000 / 2490 / 3 Car / Private 3507 Kilmer Drive / $515,000 / 2286 / 2 Car / Private 3024 Forest Hammock Drive / $515,000 / 2831 / 2 Car / No 2877 Hammock Drive / $565,000 / 2817 / 2 Car / No

There are currently 8 active listings for sale in Walden Lake with an average price of $407,738 with an average of 30 days on the market. There are 18 properties Pending Contract in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East with an average list price of $432,450 and 17 days on the market. There is also one listing pending contract in Walden Lake at $1.95M that is not included in these stats. There were 43 homes sold in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East during the first quarter of 2022 with an average sales price of $390,427 and an average of 12 days on the market. How is COVID-19 affecting real estate? As you can see from the sales data above, we do not see a slowdown in our listings going under contract, providing they are priced correctly and in good condition. We are seeing fewer homes being listed, so The Sweet Team of Keller Williams Realty feels this is a great time to list, as there are many buyers looking for a home. Feel free to contact me with any questions about this article or about your real estate needs. or 813-758-9586.

Walk for Life: Pregnant Care Center of Plant City Fundraiser on April 23 By Cheryl Johnston


veryone is invited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City on April 23 by joining its “Walk for Life” springtime fundraiser. To increase community awareness and volunteer opportunities, Executive Director Sandi Nelson hopes to see 300 walkers honoring this milestone. She encourages registration in advance, but day-of-race registration for the not quite two-mile walk begins at 8:30 a.m. Water and snacks will be provided, while those who raise $150 receive a Walk for Life 2022 t-shirt. The remaining t-shirts will be sold afterward for $20. Once all walkers have returned, there will also be a silent auction featuring some great gifts. Peer-to-peer fundraising efforts on social media have been underway already. And today everyone can contribute at support. After the walk, guests can tour the center and “Hope,” the mobile unit where pregnancy tests and sonograms are offered free of charge. Supporters can learn how volunteers talk with clients about life-affirming and pro-abundant life options. Established in 1992, the center’s current staff and volunteers work to share God’s compassion and provision to those facing an unexpected pregnancy and to uphold the sanctity of human life. In 2021 alone, they assisted 522 clients in its “Be Sure, Be Informed” effort by providing 332 pregnancy tests, 189 ultrasounds, and 3,053 parenting classes. And because they believe, “Life change begins with a heart change,” 99 clients received Christ and three rededicated their life to Him. Volunteer positions include nurses, ultrasound technicians with RDMS certification (Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer), and assistants for client appointments, Bible studies, and Baby Boutique. The number of client visits has increased greatly in recent weeks, both at the center and at the mobile unit locations (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) in Seffner (Thursdays at Walmart parking lot- 11720 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) and Tampa near the USF campus (Tuesdays at 2271 E. Bearss Avenue).

The center at 304 N. Collins Street is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, and to noon on Fridays). Brysty Maxwell, the center’s Mobile Operations Manager (MOM) describes her work as “humbling and exciting. “When clients from all walks of life come to our comfortable, well-equipped bus, they feel welcomed and affirmed. We discuss their options and support them in their life-affirming decisions.” Maxwell also connects businesses, churches, food banks and other pro-life groups to resources. Mark and Lori Yarbrough have served three years on the center’s Board of Directors. She encouraged, “We simply need more people willing to offer their time. And professional training via video courses can benefit everyone. With more nurses and sonogram operators, the mobile unit could be out more often.” Mark now also volunteers weekly to assist men who visit. Their programs include Bible studies, and parenting/childcare classes. Plant City Pregnancy Care Center’s professional staff offers free, confidential services, including: • Accurate information on pregnancy, abortion, adoption, parenting, STDs, and sexual health. • Lab-Quality Pregnancy Tests • Limited Obstetrical Ultrasounds (to prove pregnancy viability) • Presentations by invite to schools, churches, and civic groups NOTE: While it does not offer, recommend, or refer for abortions or abortifacients, the committed staff offers accurate information about procedures and risks. Please get involved with this great cause. Visit 304 N. Collins Street, online at or call 813-759-0886. For the 24/7 Hotline, dial 866-673-4673.






Plant City Mother’s Day:

Gift Ideas from Local Businesses By Cierra Craft


ost of us fall back to the old faithful gifts: Flowers, Candy, and a card. But if you really want to step up this year, you might want to dig a little deeper. FOCUS has curated this helpful list of Mother’s Day gifts for every type of mom.

For the Mom with a Sweet Tooth

The Cheesecake Lady offers decadent gourmet flavors of custom cheesecakes including Banana Split, Strawberry Delight, and so more. Cheesecakes start at $35 and up. (813) 244-2277 |

For the Mom with a Killer Taste in Fashion

Drop the Walls Boutique opened in downtown Plant City last month. The boutique offers women’s fashions from sizes small to 3XL in athleisure, dresses, swimwear and more. 120 N. Collins St |

For the Mom with a Green Thumb

Parkesdale Farm Market has wrapped up its shortcake sales, but the roadside stop has an extensive selection of flowering plants, including Desert Rose, Lilies, and more. 3702 W. Baker St | (813) 754-2704 |

For the Mom who Deserves a Pampering

Honey Pot Wax Studio recently announced a new service: Body Facials. Buy Mom a gift card to Honey Pot for the Waxing and Body Facials of her choice. 104 W Reynolds St #6 | (863) 899-4429 |

For the Mom who is Serious about Showering

TubTreats is renowned for its Bath Bombs, Shower Gels, and more. But the boutique body shop also has an extensive collection of shower accessories: Slippers, Robes, Loofahs, and more. 106 NE Drane St #1 | (813) 750-3825 | PAGE


For the Mom who is Working on her Fitness

I Hate My Trainer was voted #1 gym in Plant City by FOCUS readers last month. Mike Gartz can help mom get her body back and build confidence. Ask Mike how to get mom signed up for personal training. 117 E Reynolds St | (813) 786-1541

For Mom who loves Jesus

Clothed in Grace creates custom t-shirts inspired by Biblical passages, Hymns, etc. Each tee is made in-house and prayed over before its sold. RAOK Boutique offers Devotionals, Bibles, jewelry and other accessories inspired by her favorite bible verses. Clothed in Grace | 113 W Reynolds St | (813) 704-6339 | RAOK Boutique | 2804 James L. Redman Pkwy (813) 754-7265 |

Member MemberFDIC FDIC

Want to become a member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce? Businesses may join the Chamber online by visiting or by calling the office at (813) 754- 3707.

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Former Buccaneer Michael Clayton Announced as Plant City Raiders Football Head Coach By Jennifer Jordan


Sips Gettin’ Real at Sykes Sip and Paint Studio By Jennifer Jordan


t 2804 James L Redman Pkwy, artists new and old are welcome to Sykes Sip and Paint Studio, Plant City’s newest destination for friends, families, and couples to show off their painting skills while having fun. A first of its kind in Plant City, Sykes Sip and Paint Studio was officially opened for business on March 17 by April and Louis Sykes. April wanted to open a beer and wine bar while involving painting to encourage a family-friendly atmosphere. Sykes stated, “To me, painting is therapeutic and fun at the same time, and I’m very family oriented so it made sense to combine painting and the bar.” With a variety of paintings to choose from to paint at the studio, the art library is still growing, with artist Joclyn Emerson creating current and new designs regularly. Emerson also welcomes new ideas and themes from those who visit the studio. Each painting session takes about two hours and costs $40 for adults and $30 for children. Guests can bring their own food and there is a wide selection of beers and wines to choose from at the studio. Guests will also be able to order April Sykes’ homemade sangria and can either get the blackberry or strawberry pineapple sangria. Sykes Sip and Paint is working on a schedule for ladies’ nights, family nights, and couples’ nights. If you’re not interested in painting at the studio, there are take-home paint kits available. The kits will cost $20 for a smaller painting and $30 for a larger painting and will include supplies and instructions. The studio is also available to host private parties and is a great spot for baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties, and more. Private parties require a minimum of 10 people. Sykes Sip and Paint Studio is currently open Thursdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.,, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. They can be reached at either 813-956-6234 or For more information on paintings or booking parties, visit their website at



ichael Clayton, a former wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has recently been announced as the newest head coach for the Plant City High School’s Raider football team. Clayton was a player in the NFL for nine years; he spent six seasons with the Bucs beginning in 2004. In 2012, Clayton won a Super Bowl ring while with the New York Giants, playing with the team since 2010. He attended and played for LSU, winning a National Championship title in 2003. Clayton’s successful football career and achievements include 223 receptions, 2,955 receiving yards, and 10 receiving touchdowns during his time in the NFL are proof that he will make a great addition to the Plant City Raider football staff. Married with five children, Clayton recently stated in a Facebook post, “I always desired to be a head coach. The Father has finally opened up that door. A special thanks to my wife Tina Wright Clayton and my family for their support!” In addition to Michael Clayton, Kenny Kelly was announced as the offensive coordinator, and Terrance Hicks was announced as the defensive coordinator. Besides new coaches being added to the Plant City Raider staff, the Raider football stadium will also be upgraded. Plant City High School has recently begun the process of installing a new turf field, scoreboard, video board, and a new track around the field. With all these great changes, the 2022 Plant City Raider football season will be an exciting one for members of the community to witness.

Flo-Go Shop Opens, Offers Unique Finds for Sports Fans By Jennifer Jordan


n March 25, downtown Plant City continued to grow with the addition of a new business, The Flo-Go Shop. The Flo-Go Shop, located at 301 South Collins Street in Suite 102, is a small, family-owned business that specializes in sports cards, Pokémon, sports memorabilia, and more. Flo-Go was named because the business is Florida-based and owned by the Shawgo family. The Flo-Go Shop sells mini helmets, jerseys, puzzles, Funko Pops, autographed memorabilia, stainless and wood mugs made from bat barrels, and Animo cards. For sports cards, they sell baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and soccer cards. For autographed memorabilia, Flo-Go offers helmets, pucks, and baseballs signed by top prospects and fan favorites, and all autographs come with a certificate of authenticity. Flo-Go is also planning to add more items in their store, such as bobbleheads. Greg Shawgo, owner of Flo-Go Shop stated, “I have been collecting cards since I was a kid because of my grandmother, so turning my hobby into a business made sense and gave me a reason to share my passion with others.” With over 30 years of card collecting experience, Shawgo can provide great knowledge and information to fellow card collectors and sports fans. Flo-Go also has a party room with a popcorn machine, television, and lounge chairs that make a great spot for small birthday parties or bachelor parties. Currently, Flo-Go is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and closed on Sundays. They can be contacted at 813-730-7003 or flogoshop@gmail. com, and their website is for more information. For all your sports and sportscard needs, make sure to go with the Flo-Go Shop.






Future Career Academy Hiring Events Offer Ideal Opportunity to Connect with Young Job-Seekers


hree Future Fair hiring events in April will give Tampa-area employers the rare opportunity to grow their business by engaging with hundreds of young, qualified and enthusiastic job prospects eager to launch their careers. The hiring fairs will be attended by students who are part of the Future Career Academy (FCA), an immersive program that prepares high school seniors for in-demand, entry-level jobs in their communities. Future Fairs will be held: • April 13 at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre (East Tampa - Armwood, King and Middleton High Schools) • April 20 at The Regent (South Hillsborough - Newsome, East Bay and Lennard High Schools) • April 28 at HCC’s Trinkle Center (Plant City - Plant City, Durant and Strawberry Crest High Schools, and Simmons Career Acceleration Academy) In addition to students, the fairs will be open each day from 12- 2pm for adult job-seekers as part of Best Florida Jobs, which will help round out the hiring needs of businesses and serve both students’ families and the community’s hiring needs. “Workforce development is so important for our community, and each of our hiring events provides a golden opportunity for businesses to connect with promising job candidates when the competition for talent has never been tougher,” said Yvonne Fry, CEO of Workforce Development Partners, the Florida-based non-profit behind both FCA and Best Florida Jobs. “For students, it’s about helping them identify a long-term career, not just a job.” Area employers are encouraged to staff tables at the events to take advantage of the chance to showcase their career opportunities and to share their cultures and missions with students and adult applicants.



Businesses can register to participate in one or all three hiring events. A variety of sponsorship opportunities are also available. Students first heard from business panels in November 2021, and more than 700 students participated in field trips to area businesses in January and February to meet owners and employees, learn about the industry, business operations, entry level jobs, and career growth opportunities. These hiring events are the next step in setting up students for success. FCA is positioned to serve between 5,000-7,000 students in the 2021-2022 school year. Continued expansion plans to serve the whole county are underway for implementation in the next few years. The program creates a powerful link between the jobs that Tampa-area businesses offer and the multitude of committed, driven and energetic high school seniors who are ready to get to work but not on track to complete four-year college degrees. Many of the employers in the FCA program also pay for college and other training opportunities for these students, helping to ensure no debt and meaningful degrees that will enhance their future career paths. Since its inception in 2015, the program has amassed an impressive record of matching young workers with full-time jobs that prepares them for long-term employment and also helps local companies grow. As a sign of FCA’s impact, the Future Fairs will be followed by three Signing Days on May 10, 11 and 12 to celebrate the FCA students who have been hired by local companies or who are entering into training or apprenticeship programs.

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to See in

Plant City

By Cierra Craft

The National Register of Historic Places has recognized some 95,000 structures, sites, churches, and districts across the country. Nearly a dozen properties in Plant City have earned the designation and are recognized nationwide. Some of those places—and more—make up the history of our city. Learn more about the nationally recognized and local hidden gems that make Plant City so sweet. Whether you’re new to the city or looking for something to do with the kids, this is your guide to take a step back in the history books of Plant City. Shiloh Cemetery is like a step back into Old Florida as the Spanish moss sways in the oak trees and the birds chirp as the graves read names we all recognize: Collins, Wilder, and Franklin.




PLACES Plant City: Its Origin and History by Quintilla Bruton and David Bailey depicted an 1843 county survey map, including an area named “Indian Town.” The town is likely, according to the book, to have been under the leadership of Seminole Chief Billy Bowlegs. Shiloh had its origins in the organization of the Shiloh Baptist Church from a body of people who met near Cork at what was known as the Old Salem Meeting House in 1866. It then moved to the site where the town developed. A body of Methodists moved to Shiloh in 1872, and by 1883 the settlement had two general stores, Evers & Collins general store, and William Franklin’s general store; Evers & Burts Sawmill; the Evers cotton gin, a school in which the kids ate lunch under the trees of the cemetery according to a 1974 Tampa Tribune article, and a Masonic order.

Shiloh Cemetery

Shiloh Cemetery I know what you’re thinking, “why would I want to visit an old cemetery?” But, hear me out: Shiloh Cemetery is located three miles north of Plant City and a walk through the cemetery is a walk back in time, as many of the city’s founding families are buried under the old oak trees. Names you will recognize such as Collins, Evers, Wilder, Thomas, Franklin, and many more which our city streets are named after. Many of the granite headstones are so weathered, they’re impossible to read. The oldest legible headstone dates back to the 1841 death of Sarah Howell and her infant “killed by an Indian massacre.” In 1954, the Tampa Tribune published a column titled Florida Pioneers, detailing the attack by a secondhand account of Springhead native Albert DeVane: “..the Indians came to the Howell homestead. Seeing the Indians, his wife directed Peter and Spence, two of the slaves, to take two of the children and run for the hammock and swamp. Mrs. Howell and her baby were overpowered by the Indians and killed and scalped.” The article details her husband John Howell finding his wife and infant upon his return home and searching for his other two children, relieved to see them safe with Peter and Spence. Mr. Howell then remarried Sarah Turner, who continued with the farm until the mid to late 1860s. Mr. Howell died in 1862 while serving on the Florida legislature.

Sarah Howell is the oldest recorded burial at Shiloh Cemetery. In 1841, she and her baby were attacked by Seminole Indians and scalped.



With the construction of Henry B. Plant’s Seaboard railroad line two miles south, many families relocated from Shiloh to Plant City, incorporated in 1884. Both the Methodist church and the Baptist church relocated to Plant City the following year; the Baptist Church maintained its Shiloh name until 1891 when it was renamed Plant City Baptist Church. The Methodist church had relocated to the corner of present-day Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and Howard Streets. To put a nail in the coffin of this forgotten community, a Yellow Fever epidemic swept through Shiloh from 1886 to 1888, adding to those buried off Old Shiloh Road (now Terrace Drive). According to the Tampa Tribune, entire households succumbed to the virus and people were forbidden to travel to Tampa and quarantined in their homes. Today, the cemetery is maintained by the City of Plant City. The people buried there are among those who made it possible for our community to become what it is today. If it were not for the early settlers of eastern Hillsborough County homesteading their property and the direct impact of the presence Native Americans had on the settlers’ lives, perhaps none of the multigenerational Plant City natives would be here. Perhaps had a railroad been built just three miles north, we’d live in Shiloh, Florida—not Plant City.

Historic Turkey Creek High School Turkey Creek’s history can be traced through its schools. In 1873, kids attended a one-room log cabin near the corner of Turkey Creek and Trapnell roads,”numbered 16 with J.J.E. Frierson as trustee.” In 1903, Turkey Creek moved to a new two-story building at Edwards Road, and was consolidated with Pleasant Grove School and Bledsoe School. The building materials, which

Turkey Creek High School



On January 5, 1950, the junior students presented “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a play to benefit the East Hillsborough March of Dimes polio drive. Junior class sponsor Mrs. Lee was stricken with polio and her husband, Mr. John Lee, was the chairman of the polio drive in Turkey Creek and Dover. The students with leading parts in the play were Mary Ann McDonald, Joan Mabry, Betty Jo Proash, Raymond Cliburn, Jimmy Rogers, and Howard Kilgore. On January 13, 1950, the school organized a chicken dinner to continue raising money for the polio drive; TCHS prepared 150 pounds of rice, more than 400 chickens, 200 pounds of cabbage, and more. The Jan. 13 event was headlined by Daisy Mae and Old Brother Charlie.

Turkey Creek High School report cards of Cecelia Crofton, courtesy of George and Karen Krell. Crofton graduated from Turkey Creek High School in 1937.

were provided by E.T. Roux & Son of Plant City, were paid for by the School Board, and the trustees provided the labor. Around 1908 the school was relocated once again, this time to a two-story frame building at the school’s current location on Turkey Creek and Connell roads, purchasing five acres from the Tampa Bay Land and Lumber Company. The first graduating class of Turkey Creek High School received diplomas in February 1908; that graduating class consisted of three students: W.E. Bledsoe, Zona Giles Hall, and Paul Graham. After 1909, the school gradually phased into a junior high program. In 1923, high school courses were offered again, and in 1927, when the senior high was built. The “U-shaped building” was constructed in 1938 and became the new senior high building.

Turkey Creek was not in session during the three-month winter strawberry picking season. It was considered the largest rural high school in the state and in the 1950s, the Strawberry School system came under attack by a Tampa Tribune reporter. In July 1956, the superintendent of the school district called for an end to the strawberry schools. That same year, the Tampa Tribune published a story about Turkey Creek’s FFA program, naming it the state’s largest FFA program with 170 members. The boys sold their crops and livestock to raise money for college. The students featured in the paper were Dale Porter, Lester Britt, Jimmy Garrison, and Richard Proash. When the new Plant City High School was formed in 1972, Turkey Creek became a junior high school and in 1995, became Turkey Creek Middle School. In writing this story, I asked those on social media to contribute their memories and the graduates of TCHS are proud alumni, many sharing stories of generations of Gobbler graduates, school pranks, and reminiscing on favorite teachers like Mrs. Keen and Mrs. Preacher. The brick Turkey Creek High School stands today at the southeast corner of campus. While the building is not open to the public, the Turkey Creek Gobblers have a rich history in the story of East Hillsborough’s education system. TCHS 1972 graduate Dana Rogers Fortinberry started the movement to save the building from demolition when the school board began rumblings back in 1997. Today, the building still sits empty, and Fortinberry says she’d love to see the brick schoolhouse renovated into a library for the Turkey Creek community.

The 1937 graduating class of Turkey Creek High School, courtesy of George and Karen Krell. Karen’s mother Cecelia Crofton is in the third row, second from the right.




PLACES Glover School In December 1865, freed slaves from East Hillsborough County gathered at the farm of Sarah Howell to plan their future; they dreamed of a community where they could support themselves and their families. The same Sarah Turner Howell mentioned in the Shiloh Cemetery story. Mrs. Howell gave these freed slave families land, horses, and food from her plantation, according to the Tampa Tribune. History books named the twelve families of Peter Dexter, Bryant Horton, Roger Smith, Robert Story, Isaac Berry, Mills Holloman, Sam Horton, grandfather of O. V. Hargrett, Sr., Mary Reddick, Jerry Stephens, Neptune Henry, Steven Allen, and Abe Messenger. Together, they established Howell’s Creek settlement and acquired land through the Southern Homestead Act of 1866. Peter Dexter had learned surveying skills while a slave and helped lay out the new community. Andrew Williams, son of Mary Reddick, created roads for the community with a grubbing hoe, a mule, and a plow. Bryant Horton planted the first orange trees, which became a staple crop of the community. Alfred Beal, a member of one of the original families, whose excellent farming skills allowed him to purchase foreclosed property in the community and sell it back to local residents. Bealsville was named in his honor in 1923 for keeping area property in local hands. Since the beginning of the community, education was important to its residents. The community’s first public school, which was called Jamison School, was established around the year 1873. Students from the first to fifth grades were taught in these two-room schools by Mr. Joe Mathias who served as the first teacher, according to Bealsville, Inc. In 1932 the residents raised $1,100 from fish fries, ice cream sales, and musicals. Ben Glover donated ten acres to the Hillsborough County School Board and a new wood-framed school was built in 1933. Two years later, the school was renamed after William Glover, who was the father of Ben Glover. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the school grew with students traveling from as far as Wimauma, as there wasn’t another school for Black students in eastern Hillsborough County. An establishment of surplus government foods was given to needy families. The ladies of the 4H Home Demonstration group prepared food for these families, many of who came from needy families themselves. The school also planted crops, to which the students were

Glover School

Glover School, 1963. Photo: Plant City Photo Archives

taught how to grow and harvest these crops and the greens, peas, and other vegetables grown were served to the students at Glover School. It wasn’t until about 1950 when a lunchroom was established, charging students $1 per week. It was then students were taught lunchroom and table manners. William Glover School continued to grow with the addition of Home-Making, Agriculture, Physical Education, and Industrial Art Classes. Glover School was a strawberry school, with classes held from April to December. From January to March, the students worked in the strawberry fields and other crops until the next school year. This continued until 1953, no one graduated from Glover because of the change to the current school year calendar. The desegregation of Hillsborough County brought changes to Glover School in 1971 with the federal judges’ recommendation of a Black-White ratio of 20 to 80. Many Glover students were sent to formally all-white schools and Glover teachers were spread out throughout the county to desegregate the teaching staff. In 1980, the school officially closed and ten acres of the land and building were returned to Bealsvills, Inc. The historic Glover School is on the list of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and today serves as not only a community center, but the school building serves as a museum of Bealsville history.

Four of the founding members of Bealsville. Photo: Bealsville, Inc.





First Call is a unique fellowship of extraordinary people and their families that are committed to strengthening each other in faith as they face the fires found in their calling to “Protect, Serve and Connect” our communities as First Responders.

First Call Church 1510 Cre Road (813) 652-8178 Dover, FL 33527



2W 202








2022 WIN






In honor of Mother’s Day, the FOCUS Magazine staff asked the community to submit photos and messages about their Moms, Aunts, Grandmothers, and the other women who inspire them. Whether remembering those who are no longer with us or appreciating those who continue to give selflessly, take this time to meet the wonderful women of Plant City.



My mommy, Virginia Ruth Hilliard, she has always been the best Christian mother a girl could ask for. She was there for every need no matter what it was sadness or happiness. She was my best friend, she had the biggest heart and love for everyone. - Betty Messick

My mom is loving, tender-hearted, thoughtful and always makes sure that her family is well taken care of. I’m not sure where I’d be without her. Happy Mothers Day, Mama! I love you! - Haley

Happiness is a very deceiving track you never know when you are on it but you’ll see it when looking back. Jackie Everidge is one special mom! -Chuck Everidge & Sharon Everidge McLin



I am who I am today because of you, Mom. Thank you for being an example of strength, hard work, and unconditional love. I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom and best friend. Love, Cierra

My mother, Alice Bullard is a star. She lights up every room she walks into, and she sparkles wherever she goes. Her driven, go getter attitude and entrepreneurial mindset encouraged me to go into business for myself. My goal as a child was to always follow in her footsteps and to become a strong, independent woman like herself. She is brave, beautiful and has always gone above and beyond to be the best example of what a mother could be, while doing so she has also become my first official best friend and I am forever grateful for her. Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I love you so much! Love always, Victoria Ann

Happy Mother’s Day mom!! You are such an inspiration to me and do soo much for me and our family!! I don’t know what life would be like with an amazing mom like you! I love you so much! Love, Your Daughter, Kyndall

I’m so lucky to have the most amazing, talented, beautiful mentor in my life and the best part I get to call her mom. Happy Mothers Day! - Jordan Adams

I have 2 lovely ladies that I am blessed to call mom 1st is my mom - Her name is Laverna Syrus. She’s my biggest fan and is so proud of me. 2nd is my mother in law - Her name is Judy Johnson. She is one of my biggest supporters (probably only 2nd to her son) and is always volunteering for help me with anything she can. They are both such huge blessings to me and my family

Three generations of the most important women in my life. The first is of my lovely wife Cynthia with the light of my life Katherine. The second photo is of my beautiful daughter Katherine and the light of all our lives Ellie. They are both wonderful Mothers and I cherish all of them. -David Wolf

“We want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to our residents and employees of Grace Manor at Hunter’s Creek.” – Love, Your Grace Manor Family.

I’d like to wish my mother, Tammie Hemby a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! I can think of no one more deserving of a special THANK YOU then her. One thing’s for sure – I’ll never be able to adequately describe the impact she’s had on so many lives in this short article. But here’s my best shot! Despite the uphill battle she’s been forced to climb for most of her life, she remains the most giving woman I’ve ever met. She gives financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually to everyone she meets who has a need. She is the definition of selfless. Whether she’s passing out tents to the homeless, chasing her grandchildren around or using her catch phrase, “Be the superstar you are!” – it’s always done with love. Mom, I love you – all that I am, or hope to be, I owe to you. Ps: please work on your road rage. Love, Jess

My mother, Donna is truly the most selfless human being on this earth. She loves hard and forgives often. She is so special to me because she’s been given so many things that tried to tear her down, yet she handled them with Grace and rose above. She lights up any room she walks into with a genuine smile & personality. I aspire to be half the woman she is. Happy Mother’s Day, mom! I love you! - Lacy Bridges

I want to wish Diane Zarecor a very happy Mother’s Day. My mother is the definition of selfless, she is always doing for others and never expecting anything in return. She is truly the best mother and grandmother, we are so lucky to have her! - Ashley Brewington

To the one that always goes above and beyond for us, always makes sure we have everything we need and puts us first no matter what the situation holds. We thank you and love you. Happy Mother’s Day! Love, Caden & Charlie

These two are my mother’s. One through blood, the other by choice. They’ve done nothing but support and care for me for years. I honestly wouldn’t change them for anything in the world. I love them with all my heart. <3 -Destiny Beyea

Give us a M-O- Double M-Y, ours is the best, you can’t deny. She cuddles, laughs, kisses, and plays. Cares and teaches us every single day. She’s a wife, coach, and mommy times TWO. Shout out to the best one, we LOVE you! Makynlee & Tynsleigh

Dedicated to the best Mom and Yaya around! We love you and all that you do for our family. Feliz dia de la madre! Love, Chase, Dallas, and Jordan



Happy Mother’s day to the absolute best mom and local realtor! We love you and we are so thankful for you! -Amya Pugh

The epitome of strength, determination, and the ability to fight against all odds. That is how I would describe my mother. Even when times have gotten hard, she has never failed to unconditionally love my siblings and I. She had me young, but she made the decision to raise me, and raise me well without much guidance, and for that I am forever thankful. Every award ceremony, show, or simple extra curricular event, she has always been there, sitting front row with her beaming smile, even on days that she was clearly exhausted and worn out. Love like that is rare, and I am so blessed to have someone who loves me so well. I owe it all to her. My best friend, and my hero. I love you. - Hannah Holm

Happy Mother’s Day to the three most strongest and loving women I know thank you for everything you guys have done for me I love y’all so so so much <3. -Tatyana Patterson



My Mom Agnes Hartley is an Angel on Earth. She is 89 yrs old still very independent. Every Thursday she insists that we have family night where everyone gets together around her table where she has cook all day a spread like no other. She has a huge heart with a desire to help any and everyone in need. I’ve saw days where she would load the trunk of her car with huge metal pots of food she had cook and deliver it to those in need of a hot meal. If I can be a 1/4 of the mother she is I will have done well. She is a true Saint with a heart of gold❤ -Sandra Boggs

I am so grateful for my mom! She has always been so caring, loving, and has always supported me in everything I do. She has been my biggest cheerleader. I can always count on her! She always gives me sound advise and guidance. She is always there whenever I need her. My happiest days are spent with her. Her endless love and support has made me who I am today. Thank you for all you are and all you do. She is more than just my mom she is my best friend. Love you mom, Love Tammy

(Left) Myra Hough, Mema (Right) Mendy Feaster, Mom & Yaya Happy Mother’s Day to the two who taught us everything we know. We love you so much! xo- Morgan, Mylie, Collins & Rory My Mother, Sandra Lester Written By: Kelli Messick When you ask me about my mother the first thing that comes to mind is someone who knows the true meaning of what a “Mom” truly is. Someone who has been by my side since I was born. Someone I can count on 24/7. There hasn’t been a time in my life that my mother hasn’t been by my side. When I was first born, my mother was the first person I saw, when I got married, my mother was there, when I had my children, my mother was there, when my sister and I lost our father, my mother was there. My mother is a constant in my life, and I am so thankful for that. My mother is also a warrior. She has battled and beat breast cancer! While she was going through this hard stage in her life, she was more concerned with her children than with herself. I remember clearly her waking up from surgery and wondering how we were doing. My Mother was there for us as she battled a difficult time in her own life. Now that she is a grandmother, she is there. My mom shows up to baseball games, and as an on-the-spot babysitter, and wise counselor. Behind every child, I could only wish that all of them had a mother like mine, someone who is there and shows up for them like my own mother. She is a rare gem, a beautiful soul, and a dedicated woman who loves with all her heart, even when she is struggling. The word “amazing” doesn’t even begin to describe her. For Mother’s Day, you deserve recognition for showing up, being there, and being the best mom in the world! I will forever be thankful God Chose You to Be My Mother!

Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom in the world! We love you so much! Love, Autumn, Brayden & Grace

You’re the best Mom! We love you so much. Love, Jaxson & Sadie

Happy Mother’s Day to the best Mom & Nana in the world! We love you so much! Love, Danny, Heather, Hunter, Addisyn & Luke

Iris Beil is a single mom to daughter, Payton Beil (7). Like many other moms, she works full time not only with her career at Irby Construction, but also as a mother. She is the housekeeper, the taxi driver, the lunch maker, the boo boo kisser, the dance mom, the nurse and the breadwinner. She doesn’t get days off or even many nights out. She is all the things. Having Payton completely changed Iris’ life, like it does any mother. She has overcome many adversities. Iris has always put Payton’s needs and wishes above her own. I just want to give her a little love and recognition for her selflessness, unconditional love and consistent hard work. She is an steadfast woman and marvelous mother! Iris is my sister. -Michelle Engle

Happy Mother’s Day! We love you so much! You’re the best mom & bonus mom we could ever ask for! Love, Madison, McKenlee, Landon & Colton

Happy Mothers Day to the most beautiful woman in the world!! We are so very grateful for all that you do for our family and all of your sacrifices. You truly are an angel from heaven and you deserve the world!! We love you Love Danny, Hunter, Addisyn and Luke!

I’d also like to recognize Jerilyn Rumbarger. Jerilyn is a single mom to son Conner (9). If you don’t know who she is, you might be living under a rock. Jerilyn’s name has become synonymous with Plant City itself. I always tell her I’m going to give her a sash and name her Ms. Plant City. Chances are if you’ve ever attended an event downtown, Jerilyn has had a hand in it. While being the social queen of our town, she is first a mom. She is Conner’s everything! She can usually be found at The PC Little League fields cheering on her favorite player. Or at his school helping in some capacity. There are many occasions where Conner gets to watch his mom shine, doing what she loves with her career at the Chamber. She is all around a wonderful human, loving and sacrificing mother. I am honored to call her my friend. -Michelle Engle

Happy Mother’s Day to the most loving, supportive mom out there. Life would not be full without you! We love you to the moon and back and hope your Mother’s Day is as amazing as you!! Love, Davey, Destiny, Dad, and the critters



OMG! I don’t think I could ever come up with something to suffice for what some of these women have done for me. Each of these Moms has influenced and inspired me. Each of them in their unique way has shaped me into the woman and mother I am today. They have all been beautiful examples of God’s love. I want to wish them all a blessed and Happy Mother’s Day! - Anonymous






















People of Plant City

Chelle Allen By Cheryl Johnston


eet Chelle Allen, the adventurer whose goal in life is to be “Bold as Love.” Moving 23 times in 53 years has made this Plant City girl a change agent and open to adventure. Since 2009, her small customer experience consulting business, iconnectu, has made over one million “thank you” calls on behalf of its clients. In March, Pelican’s Snoballs hosted a book signing event for “I AM Mariposa, the Young Monarch,” which is the first title in her I AM children’s series. This month she has begun living the “van life” in her re-purposed Ford shuttle transport. Chelle’s greatest desire is to go out into the world to spread Love, read her children’s book to others, grow her business, and drop a line for fishing along the way. Share a special memory of your life here in Plant City. Recently, I read I AM Mari-Posa to the amazing children of Plant City Church of God. Afterward, we asked each to stand and introduce themself by saying, “I am _______ (insert their name).” It was so powerful, and then Pastor Greg Davis prayed over me for the journey I am embarking on. All the children surrounded us and laid their hands on me as they blessed my new endeavor. I place this moment in the top five of my entire life. PCCOG is very special, and I am humbled to be a part of the church’s amazing mission to Love others, Grow as a person and Serve God. How about a younger days’ memory? In my early teens, while living in Germany, I was part of the elite Mannheim High School Bison Letter Girl Squad and we traveled to numerous European cities. The Bastille Day parade on the Champs Elysée in Paris was amazing. The band and dance squad marched under the Arc de Triumph and then spent a beautiful evening exploring the city. I joined a group of “kids” on the steps of the Sacred Heart Cathedral as they played guitars and watched the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower. The purple and gold cheerleading get-up was a great way to bring the good old USA to this precious moment! How did you come to establish iconnectu? During my first career in the hospitality industry, I ran Marriott and Hilton hotels. It was very rewarding but did not fulfill the passion I had for being an entrepreneur. In 2009, I launched iconnectu to help small businesses connect to trusted resources. We were instantly successful because we placed God as the CEO and served His vision for us every day. In 2015, a new division was launched that makes “happy calls” on behalf of home services companies. We’ve accomplished a million-plus calls now and are looking to grow our client base across America as I travel. Each day our clients thank us for the insight we provide, and one reported over $80,000 in new revenue last year as a direct result of our efforts. Describe what you love most about life in Plant City? I have lived in so many wonderful places across the U.S., but I believe Plant City is the best. Walden Lake is beautiful, and I’ve worn down the biking and hiking paths with my friends. Ultimately, this town is a people place. It’s the leadership, the police force, the pastors, the workers, the business owners, and civic organizations that keep it beautiful. Plant City is where I see myself returning to live my retirement years. I also love the way the strawberry fields look in the morning sun when the dew is bending the light so beautifully.










Did You


On the Move: Relocating Historic Structures By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives, Inc.


s you drive through downtown Plant City, you have probably noticed the many historic houses along its streets. Most of these homes have withstood decades of redevelopment in this growing town. However, there are a number of structures which have either been demolished or relocated. Buildings are often moved to save them from surrounding construction and demolition, environmental issues like flood zones, or they are recycled because the cost of materials for a new structure is more expensive than relocating a building. Americans have been successfully relocating structures since the 18th century, the earliest illustration of which depicts a frame house being pulled by horses in Philadelphia in 1799. Teams of animals, trains, barges, helicopters, and vehicles have all been used to move buildings of various constructions and sizes across land and water. One relocated home here in town that we have visual documentation for is the Young/Gatliff House. The house was built at the turn of the twentieth century by Col. James Laurens Young (1847-1928), an attorney and early resident of the city. The building is designed in the American Foursquare style, named according to its square design that featured four main rooms per floor. Originally located at the southwest corner of Reynolds and Evers streets, the residence was up for demolition after Dr. Calvin T. Young passed away in March 1955. Dr. Ben Gatliff and his wife Marion saved the building by purchasing the home and relocating it to its current location on the north side of West Baker Street. In February 1956, the house was partially disassembled into three sections using hand saws (the building cut down the middle and the porch removed from the front). The planned route took them north to avoid going through the downtown – a distance of approximately 1.2 miles. Months of planning and preparation are required for moves like these. Consideration of road width, sharp turns, time of day, and availability of manpower and material all factor into the decision making. Upon completion, the Gatliffs moved in and raised their young family at the new address until 1971. PAGE


Repurposing and relocating buildings show the changes to our town over time, but also illustrates that expanding urbanism can find ways to embrace the preservation of early suburbia to create an attractive mix of architecture for a sustainable downtown city. The benefits of which are considerable environmentally, ecologically, and socially. Throughout Preservation Month in May, stop by the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center to find out more about how Plant City preserves its heritage. For additional information or if you would like to share your photos or history with the Archives, please email or call the office at 813.754.1578. References Curtis, John Obed. Moving Historic Structures. US Department of the Interior, 1979. tps/how-to-preserve/preservedocs/Moving-HistoricBuildings.pdf




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D R . D A N I E L M I D D L E B R O O KS S P E A KS O N F A M I LY, F A I T H & F R E E D O M By Cierra Craft

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” God’s workmanship, Plant City-native Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks refers to as a “Masterpiece in the Making.” At age 8, a young Danny Middlebrooks accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. His Godly parents gave the paintbrush of Dan’s life to him and he decided to give the paintbrush back to God and let Him do what He does best- make a Godly man that desires to love Him first so Dan can learn to love others best. Dr. Middlebrooks is a Chaplain, a husband, a father, a son, and a 26-year veteran of the military. He has served as the chaplain for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI, and currently covers the Plant City Fire Rescue and the Hillsborough County School District. However, Dr. Middlebrooks knows these works don’t earn salvation, but rather salvation has led him to a life of God’s works.

He is the Senior Chaplain of First Call, formerly Sydney Baptist Church in Dover, Florida. First Call is a First Responder Church, meaning it’s for all; Law Enforcement, EMS/Medical, Fire Rescue, Security, Veterans, and Active Military, their families, as well as the community that loves and protects them. First Call is the first of its kind in the nation and Dr. Middlebrooks says the concept is spreading throughout Tampa Bay and other counties to support, love, and honor those who put their lives on the line to protect our community and our great country. In this article, meet Dr. Dan Middlebrooks and learn more about his heart for his family, and the men and women of First Call who are answering God’s call to help our First Responders serve, protect, and connect.



A recent photo of the Middlebrooks family: Dan, his wife Arienne, parents Lloyd and MaryAnn, and sister Debbie with her husband Brian.

Share with our readers a bit about your upbringing, your family, and growing up in a Christian household? The best way to say it is, “I was in church nine months before I was born.” I have always been in church as it was not a family tradition, it was a family desire. Both my mom, Mary Ann, and dad, Lloyd, grew up in the Dover and Plant City area. They also grew up with alcoholic fathers but loving mothers. When Dad met Mom and they decided to get married, they made a commitment to God and to each other that they would bring their children up in a loving Christian home without alcohol. They always wanted to protect our hearts and in doing so, became the very example of what a Godly marriage should be: full of faith, hope, and most importantly love. This was needed when both gracious love and “tough” love were expressed. They are also eternal newlyweds of over 70 years! As a child of 8, I and my twin sister, Debbie, accepted Christ as our Savior during Vacation Bible School at Berea Baptist Church under the teaching of Gary and Cheryl Spooner. As a growing young man of 12, I was faced with a crossroad decision of how I would live my life. This came at an impacting time in my life when I was caught in a lie. I do not remember the lie, but I do remember the words my dad spoke that has stuck with me as a foundational building block of who I am today and who I desire my children, Erica and Allison, to become. It was during the “correction” phase that dad sent me to my room after Mom, Dad and I discussed my lie and the value of the truth. I sat there on my bed waiting for the belt when my dad came in and sat beside me. His face was wet with tears and spoke these words to me:



“Son, I am not going to use a belt this time. I want to use my heart. What you did disappointed your mom and me and our hearts are now broken. What are you willing to do to put it back together?” Truthfully, the belt would have been easier because that pain goes away in 10 minutes. These words went right into the small rebellion box of my heart and crushed it. With tears in my eye and with deep apologies on my lips, I asked my dad and later my mom to forgive me. They did not have to put me under restriction, I did it myself. I have learned that we are often harder on ourselves when we are given the chance to grow up “right”? Growing up in a loving and dedicated Christian home is not about the perfection we think we need to live but the Godly process it becomes throughout life. That is why the love of my life of 34+ years, Arienne, and my two precious daughters, Erica and Allison, are my first mission in life as I serve our Lord! You are a veteran of the U.S. Army, correct? Can you share with readers a little about your experience in the Army and how it shaped you into the Chaplain you’ve become? Both my dad and brother Mike were in the Plant City Army National Guard. Dad served as the Artillery Battery Commander, and my brother was a Supply Sergeant. I learned from them both that, dedication to “serve and protect” is more than a saying, it is a deep desire to go farther than others expect you to go and do more than others expect you to do. If there is one motto that our family has learned it is to “Trust the Lord with all your heart” and live it out with these three powerful words, “And Then Some”! After receiving my AA degree from Hillsborough Community

role of a professional staff officer (that is the rank side as the officer) and as a military Shepherd (that is the Cross side). If I had to err, I did it on the Officer side. I would rather receive counseling from my superiors on where I went wrong to correct and move forward instead of standing before our ultimate Commander and Chief of the Universe and hearing I made an eternal mistake with His Word or in my life’s testimony that cost someone their eternal life in heaven. Just as proactive and dedicated military training leads to a stronger and more professional Soldier for our Nation, the deeper, longer, and wider study of God’s eternal truth of His grace, mercy, and truth will lead to a spiritually stronger and personal “Soldier of the Lord”!

First Call’s Three Year Anniversary event, the church recognized each of the agencies it partners with including the Hillsborough County Sheriff Office. The church is often a gathering place for deputies between shifts to relax, refuel, and seek fellowship.

College, I entered the Active Duty Army in May 1987 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and began my career as a Physical Therapy Technician. On 2, April 1988, I married the love of my life, Arienne Plyler. While stationed at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, I received my BS degree at Athens State College and after Operation Desert Storm, June 1991, I was commissioned as a 2nd LT. in the Army Chaplain’s Candidate Program and attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I received my Masters of Divinity in 1994 and was commissioned as a Southern Baptist Chaplain and served in Army until February 2013. While on active duty, I received my Doctorate of Ministry at Erskine Theological Seminary in 2008 for Clinical Pastoral Care and Pastoral Counseling. My last military assignment was as the Senior Instructor and Course Developer/Manager for the U.S. Army Chaplain’s Career Course where I trained and impacted over 300+ promoting Chaplains. From my father and brother’s experience, I learned that most speakers get up and say something but it takes a Pastor to love the people first to the Lord and not just give directions on how to get there. All three of us kids learned this, again, from the example of our mom and dad. That impacted how I approached the U.S. Army Chaplaincy. Serving in the dual

In your own words, explain what is First Call, how did it come to be, and what makes the church so special? I guess the best way to explain the ministry of the church is “To protect the heart and soul of the Hero and their family.” It focuses on God first, family second, and others next. How this all came about was through a time when I was at Dover First Baptist under the leadership of Dr. Rob Jackson. It was a needed time of spiritual feeding, filling, and resting and during that time, he and Chaplain John Gabrioni began to pray with me for God to open a place where I could launch a First Responder church. It was a year’s worth of praying when God opened the opportunity to see God’s hand working in October 2018 while doing supply preaching for Sydney Baptist Church in Dover. The church, after a long 109 years were looking at the possibility of closing. After a devastating church split, the church was down to about 16 people. I was helping them

First Call believes that it is the responsibility and privilege of every Christian to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and to seek to make growing disciples. PAGE


Three years ago, Sydney Baptist Church reopened as First Call. The church began with a small congregation and today, boasts about 90 members and growing each Sunday.

each Sunday with preaching and impressed during one of the Wednesday night studies to share the vision God placed in my heart for our Heroes and their families. I explained what type of outreach and church the Lord was leading me to launch. I asked them to consider allowing me to use the church on Sunday nights and possibly on Thursdays so it would not interfere with the current church. It was a simple plan to keep Sydney going and help financially until they grew with another pastor and the First Responder church could find another site. God had better plans. After the Chairmen of the Deacons, Dennie Frazier, and Chairman of Finance, Ron Frink, met with the church, the church later with me. In the end, the only ones left in the church were those with First Responders in their family so instead of us adding a church, they voted to change the mission and name of the church from Sydney Baptist Church to First Call. Like a military method, when we deactivate a unit, we refit it, refocus it, and re-launch it to become a new and timely unit to make a deeper impact and future difference. That is the story behind the beginning of First Call and I believe, it will be the launch of many, many more churches just like it. Chaplains are reaching out to me to put their specialized training and God-centered calling to use in a place that could either close as thousands of churches do each year or they can do the 3 “R”s of God’s righteous refinement and re-launch a new and needed ministry to those that have gone without for so



long. This is what is so exciting about what God has done for the last three years. It is a stabilized spiritual design that is not only spiritually successful but it can also be replicated all over Florida and our Nation and it is about to be so! You recently celebrated First Call’s three-year anniversary, where you mentioned First Call is the first of its kind in the U.S. What kind of impact is it having on first responders? It is the first of its kind because the focused mission of the church is not just Law Enforcement, but all First Responders, Military, and their families. They put their lives on the line every day in their service to the community and our Nation. First Call is not just reaching out to First Responders, it is a church founded by, filled with, and focused on First Responders, their families, and the community that fervently loves and protects them. So many of our First Responders, especially our LEO, Fire, and Military, do not go to church. Some have explained to me that they feel as though they cannot fully take off their “armor” as they still watch and protect. Others talk about people not understanding what they do and why. Most people (sheep) in general do not understand the drive and wiring of a warrior (sheepdog). There are those that live, love, and develop our communities to be wonderful places like Plant City.

There are those that are willing to “serve and protect” and if needed, give their lives for their communities. Both sheep and sheepdogs are needed because of the third type of person and that is the wolf. These are those that come into the lives of the community and try to steal, kill, and destroy. Sheep are food for the wolf unless the sheepdog is ready and allowed to protect the sheep from the teeth of the foe, fire, or fever! Training of the mind and body is important but the greatest weapon that the sheepdogs have against the wolves of our time is their heart! Here is where the fourth person walks in and that is the “Shepherd.” There are dedicated Shepherds that help sheepdogs grow in their spiritual design and desire to protect the sheep. It is crucial for the sheepdog to love God first and have His love flow into them as they become the primary conduit for God’s love into their precious family and then into their community. In Psalms 23, David wrote, “Thou anointest my head with oil, my CUP overflows.” The cup is our heart and it is designed to be filled up and spilled out. The overflow of God’s love should be a natural part of a Christian’s life. God tells us to use His love first and when it runs out, use yours! The First Responder is willing to give his or her life (The Cup) for those they are called to serve and protect. What First Call and future churches just like it will help is in the learning of the filling of God’s love so that the sacrifice, if needed, will never be in vain and an eternal mistake. When we use our love alone, we cannot love to the extent of God’s love for our spouses, children, and community. That love is also extended to the wolf if they desire to give up. That means when we speak on sacrifice in the services, our congregation of warriors and their families know it is not about giving up a parking place for the Lord but giving their very life if needed for others because of the Lord! How is the work being done at First Call touching First Responders’ lives? The work that we are doing to touch and impact the hearts and lives of all our First Responders is a comprehensive approach to the program I developed in the military called the “Diamond Plan of Life.” It centers around the central core of our life, our Spiritual Foundation, and then grows outward and around to the other four elementsemotional, mental, physical, and social. The main thought is this: If we care for the Heart- both spiritual and physical, the rest will fall into place. It is not without its work in the areas of

Arienne Middlebrooks leads the Children’s Ministry and Nursery during worship hours. The church also offers Children’s Life groups for children to keep going and growing to help young minds and hearts become strong young men and women for the Lord. PAGE


MaryAnn and Lloyd Middlebrooks with their three children, Mike, Debbie, and Dan in 1968. Lloyd and MaryAnn raised their family in a Christian home, hosting a Bible Study every morning at 6:00 a.m.



our life, especially with the Heroes and their families, but a key element that starts inward before going outward. Our men and women can have the updated equipment, fastest cars, and best weapons, but if the heart comes apart, everything else will soon follow. That is why First Call and Chaplaincy Care focus on the “heart of the Issues”, spiritual and then physical. From here, we have witnessed incredible changes and advancements in spiritual, personal, and professional growth that I believe our Lord had in mind. Through and In Him, we have “life more abundantly” (John 10:10).

not what we do but what our Lord does that makes the eternal difference in their lives and families. We are simply hurting Heroes trying to help other hurting heroes find the Lord, our Great Physician, to heal our pain for HIS purpose so we can fully and faithfully “serve and protect” as we strive to “Connect”! C. Pray that God will continue to provide and increase the resources necessary for this incredible mission (as He has for the last 3 years) through His people and organizations that know the immeasurable value of these First responders and the key connection of their families and the families of faith.

How can the community support First Call and its mission? The best way for the community to support the growing mission and ministry of First Call is to do three things daily and fervently: A. Pray for God to continue to grow the needed facilities- not just here but to begin new First responder Churches (or like I say, “Spiritual Helping Centers for our Heroes). I have Chaplains calling and I am beginning to help them launch their own First Responder Churches throughout Florida and into other states. B. Pray for the Lord of the Harvest to use His church to invite, send, and aid those Warriors and their families in need. It is

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like the community to know about you, your work, etc? Simple; Without the Lord, this incredible mission is impossible… but “WITH GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE”! (Matthew 19:26) My question to the community is: “How will our Lord use YOU to be the conduit of His immeasurable Love (John 3:16), and His unending Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), and His undying Mercy (Romans 10:9-10,13)?” To help answer that, come to our Sunday 10:30 am services at First Call, 1510 Cre Road, Dover FL or email me at chaplain@












JayCor Homes By Cierra Craft | Photos courtesy of JayCor Homes


lanHillsborough’s Imagine 2040 comprehensive plan suggests Plant City’s population will be over 70,000 people. In preparation for the population to nearly double over the next 18 years, the City of Plant City has approved the installation of utilities, housing developments, and new commercial businesses to meet the needs of the city’s future residents. JayCor Homes, a local business contractor with over 30 years of experience, is helping to bring much-needed housing to our city. John Cordell is the owner of JayCor Homes and is joined by his son Todd in building quality, forever homes throughout Hillsborough County, including hidden gem neighborhoods throughout Plant City including Park Place, Citrus Landing, and custom homes in Dover’s McIntosh Lakes. Park Place was completed featuring 95 homes off of North Gordon Street and a half-mile south of Frontage Road. Park Place is a deed-restricted, gated community, comprising North Johnson Road, Lavender Jewel Court, and Wild Daisy Drive. Homes range from 3BR/2BA 1,200 sq. ft. to 5BR/4BA 3,300 sq. ft. All homes have natural gas and a tankless hot water heater. The community is sold out as of February 2021, speaking to the quality of the homes built by JayCor Homes.



JayCor Homes recently broke ground on another pocket neighborhood, Shannon Estates, containing only 23 homes on 75 by 147-foot homesites and quality, custom homes. Like Park Place, Shannon Estates is an HOA community of $250 per year, with no CDD fees. Homes in Shannon Estates are turnkey and JayCor is offering to build detached workshops, built large enough to store RV/boat parking. At the time of publication, there are still 6 homesites to choose from. Almost complete with development, Shannon Estates should be delivering homes late Fall/Winter 2022/2023. To reserve your homesite, call 813-704-5924 or The community is marketed by Maggie Beard, Realtor® with Signature Realty Associates, one of the largest and oldest independent Brokers in the Tampa Bay area. “I am proud to be JayCor Homes exclusive marketing representative since 2016,” said Beard. “I am a third-generation Florida Realtor and have been practicing since 1996. Are you a Realtor? JayCor ABSOLUTELY WELCOMES AGENTS TO BRING YOUR CLIENTS! Be assured that not only will you be working with a long experienced and service conscious Realtor representing JayCor, but JayCor ALSO offers generous participation benefits for Realtors.”


Beard says she and JayCor Homes will begin on their next project soon: Falcon Cove of Plant City. Beard says Falcon Cove will be within city limits, south of town on Jim Johnson Road. Currently, JayCor Homes is estimating 54 homes, but much simpler floorplans than Park Place and Shannon Estates. “We are estimating 54 homes, on 75 by 115 ft. home sites, City water, and sewer,” said Beard. “JayCor is developing some very different floor plans for this community. JayCor will still be offering their QUALITY construction, but with not as many options and decor features in order to provide more moderate pricing. Not sure when this will be started, but the target is late Summer/Early Fall 2022…” It seems as if housing developments are popping up all over Plant City. Why should Plant Citians consider JayCor Homes? Beard says it’s for the financial savings and custom, quality homes: “JayCor does NOT charge “lot premiums,” many builders are charging $30K to $50K in lot charges OVER their advertised base prices. There are no CDD fees as the costs of development are INCLUDED in your home, NOT in extra $3,000-$4,000 per year CDD tax fees every year. Each home is built with love, one by one. JayCor does NOT force you to accept only set “packages” of decor and options. You can choose your brick, roof, paint, flooring, cabinets, and granite, much more. And a wide variety of QUALITY standard choices are available. JayCor has some gorgeous upgrades in decor also available at VERY reasonable prices. JayCor will also do minor floor plan changes; if you are disabled, JayCor will work to assist in designing a home to fit YOUR needs and do it at a very reasonable, if any, extra expense.” JayCor Homes was built as the “bridge” between cookie-cutter homes and expensive custom homes, offering the average consumer the ability to own a solid, well-built, long-lasting home, with the experience of being able to personalize the home to the Owner’s taste and desires. For more information on Shannon Estates, Falcon Cove, or JayCor Homes, visit 813-704-5924 | |









Shaw By Jennifer Jordan

Jalayah Shaw is a junior at Plant City High School. A member of the National Honor’s Society and Ladies Quest, Jalayah plays tennis in addition to running on the school’s track team. For tennis, Jalayah has been playing since she was nine years old and has been number one on Plant City High School’s tennis team for the past three years, showing her true talents and capabilities. When asked how she got into tennis, Jalayah stated, “I grew up watching Serena and Venus Williams, and my love for tennis really started to grow.” For tennis, Jalayah has only lost one match for Plant City. She led her team to become district champions for the first time in many years and has earned a district championship in both singles and doubles. For track, Jalayah runs the 100m, 200m, and the four-by-one relay. She has been running track since the sixth grade. For her future athletic goals, Jalayah said, “I’m hoping to compete for a state championship in both tennis and track, so I can pave the way for my little sisters who are also playing competitive tennis and running track.” Jalayah also said she would like to win Wimbledon one day and be number one in the world for tennis. She hopes to attend one of her dream colleges and either get accepted to the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, or Florida State University. With many awards and accolades for her athletic abilities, Jalayah Shaw has a bright future ahead of her.




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Meet the


Sarah Kraus, Krafty Kraus Custom Beading


By Jennifer Jordan

ave you ever wanted to show off your personality and interests in a fashionable and unique way through accessories? Do you want something custom to hang on your car mirror or wear on your wrist? Then you must meet Sarah Kraus, the creative genius behind Krafty Kraus Custom Beading. Krafty Kraus began 13 years ago when Sarah, a Cork Elementary teacher for the past 17 years, went shopping with her sister to make a bracelet for their mom for Mother’s Day. After a visit to Michael’s to get the supplies, Sarah said, “I became hooked on beading; I bead almost every day, if not every day. It brings me so much happiness.” After giving her creations away to family, friends, and colleagues, the idea of naming her hobby Krafty Kraus and selling her items came from the music teacher at the time at Cork Elementary. When asked about her creations, Kraus stated, “I can make pretty much anything that’s beaded. I make necklaces, stroller hangers, car mirror hangers, keychain bracelets, and custom items. If you can dream it, I can make it. Sarah can create bead accessories for sports fans, mermaid lovers, Disney devotees, and more by using a mix of glass beads, silicone beads, and charms. Doing it for fun and to bring smiles to those around her, Sarah said, “I sell my items for what some people claim is ‘cheap’ but it’s not about the money to me. For me, it’s about making others smile and giving parents options to buy custom items at little league games without breaking the bank.” Selling her items from $2-$15 and periodically setting up a table to sell her items at local little league games, the money Kraus makes goes directly to her



classroom to help ensure her students have what they need to have a thriving learning environment. Kraus stated about teaching, “That is my passion, and I would never stop teaching to bead full-time. I love all my kids and I can’t imagine being anything else but a teacher.” Besides teaching, Sarah is also a Buccaneers fan, Disney fan and annual pass holder, and beach lover. She has been with her husband since she was 21, and they have a 13-year-old daughter together named Marlee. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Sarah graduated from the University of Louisville and has a master’s degree in education. The baby of the family, Sarah also loves cats, and her cats Poppy and Blossom keep her company while beading. When asked about her future beading goals, Kraus said, “I just want to keep making pretty things and let the kids benefit from it while putting smiles on others’ faces.” For all your beads’ needs and to get custom earrings, a beaded lanyard, bracelet, or car mirror hanger, then message Sarah Kraus on Krafty Kraus Custom Beading’s Facebook page or send her an email at




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Leaders in

Faith Pastor Antonio Wilkerson By Cheryl Johnston


or the past 31 years, Tampa native Pastor Antonio Wilkerson has lived in Thonotosassa. He thoroughly enjoys serving the congregation at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, located at 604 West Ball Street here in Plant City. And the church has enjoyed serving the Plant City community for 105 years! Pastor Wilkerson and his wife Shirley have two children, five grandkids and a great-grandson. He attended Hillsborough County schools but as a military dependent, graduated in the Republic of Panama. His college years included time at Jacksonville University and Blessed Hope Bible College, where he earned a Doctorate degree in Christian Theology. For relaxation, Pastor Wilkerson enjoys reading and doing puzzles. When and how did you decide to follow Jesus? I came to faith in Jesus my freshman year at Jacksonville University. I was invited to attend a Sunday service and a simple message of the Gospel changed my life forever. What brought you to Mt. Olive? Faith in God brought me to my current position. I felt led to join Mt. Olive Baptist Church although they didn’t have a pastor at the time. After a year, I was asked if I wanted to be considered for the vacancy. At the end of the process, I was selected as Pastor. What do you enjoy most about your work? I truly love serving God and serving His people. Just being able to share the Gospel and meet the needs of people bring great joy to my heart. Which Scripture passage do you specify as your life verse? Ephesians 4:1-3 reminds me of the way to walk worthy of my vocation and of the purpose for walking worthy, which is to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” How do you enjoy sharing your faith one-on-one? My favorite way is to tell my story, my testimony. I believe in being open and honest about my life and how Jesus changed it. I like to call it relational witnessing.



Do you have suggestions for those considering the Christian faith and for those already following Christ? I would suggest that everyone considers how much God loves them. He was willing to sacrifice His Son on Calvary to appease our sin debt, so He wouldn’t have to spend eternity separated from us. That’s love! But inviting Him to guide our life is a choice we have make. To committed Christ-followers, I would say: Apply 2 Timothy 2:15. Study God’s Word, but also apply the learning, so we’re not just hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. What do you enjoy most about Plant City? I enjoy the small-town vibe and charm. I’ve experienced the big city and never really enjoyed the hustle and bustle. Please describe Mt. Olive’s special appeal and how newcomers can get involved? We strive to be a friendly family church pursuing Christlike commitment, compassion, and character. We just celebrated our 105th church anniversary and welcome all to services at 604 West Ball Street in Plant City. Due to COVID and upcoming church renovations, our online and in-person service times are currently at 9:45 a.m. for the Sunday worship service and Wednesday night Bible study begins at 6:00 p.m. Until the renovation is completed, our Sunday school is done via conference call. Folks can learn more at www. or on our Facebook page.




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Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens

Nothing seems the same. Life goes on for you and me, But, oh, how things have changed.


hile net-surfing through Facebook the other day, I happened upon a very interesting post that both shocked and saddened me. The article was titled: Several Things We Did As Kids In School That Would Never Fly Today. Here follows a few I could relate to most: 1. Making Ashtrays for Parents I remember how exciting it was back at Jackson Elementary when our teachers informed our class we would be making ashtrays for Father’s Day gifts. Over the years, we made several types. Once, we used clay that we molded with our hands, drew pictures on with our sharp pencils, and then wrote our names and year on the bottom. That way, after being fired in the school’s kiln, they would be safely returned to the correct student. Another year, my class made “Daddy’s Ashtray” out of a clean, but used tuna fish can that we covered with Elmer’s glue and marbles. My favorite of all was wild, colorful, and psychedelic. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Irma Herring, gave each student a glass baby food jar that we filled with three tablespoons of different colored shards of glass. The jars were then kiln-fired just enough to melt the bottom of the jar and broken glass shards. What we ended up with was a colorful glob of psychedelic glass with a rim to serve as a rest for our father’s cigarettes. We were so proud! Today that would never happen. Cigarettes, smoking, and anything to do with smoking is now frowned upon and banned from school grounds in an effort to promote good health. (Honestly, I do think that is an excellent rule!) But, those gifts made me beam with pride every time I walked in to my father’s




office to see the handmade ashtrays resting on his desk (complete with a lit cigarette). One day, my father asked why I put so many places for cigarettes to rest on his clay ashtray, and I responded: “Well, in case you have a lot of people come in your office, you can all put your cigarettes there to rest if you need to talk.” HaHa! 2. Playing Dodge Ball I remember just loving when our elementary school P.E. coach would announce Dodge Ball as that day’s game. Our class would form a big circle and the coach would ask who wanted to be first to stand in the middle. All the boys would raise their hands and jump up and down begging, because they thought they were too fast, too strong, and too cool to be hit with the ball. Those boys would just dare you to try. Kids would jump up in the air, duck, roll on the ground, or whatever they had to do to get away from that ball. It was always so much fun when the ball came to you and you had the chance to “Doink” the person in the middle as hard and fast as you could, and aim anywhere on their person you wanted. It always got real interesting and funny when our coach asked for volunteers to be in the middle and no one volunteered. The Coach would go down the roll book and pick somebody who really didn’t want to participate. Somebody who was slow, or uncoordinated, or somebody we would kinda think was a “sissy.” It really didn’t take too long for that person to get “Doinked” in the back of the head. We would laugh so hard, but back then, we all knew it as simply fun. Today, Dodge Ball is not allowed because “they say” it could cause children to feel bad about themselves and/or someone could really get hurt. 3. No Bringing Homemade Cakes, Cupcakes, or Food to share with the Classroom What??? Back in my day, parents would send all kinds of homemade goodies for sharing with classmates on special occasions or even just because. I still remember in 6th

grade at Lincoln Elementary School, every time Stewart Ross brought fudge made by his mother, Mrs. Nancy Ross. He would come to school with old metal coffee cans filled with wax-papered layers of the most delicious Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge. There was plenty to share with all our class and he would always bring an extra can with a bow on the lid just for our teacher. If we had a classroom party or something special planned, many mothers would come early those mornings with pans, trays, and platters of yummy homemade goodies. We never worried about something bad being in the food. Today, children are no longer allowed to bring food items to school that have been opened and/or do not have a list of ingredients and cooking conditions! What??? Back then, kids did not have all of these so called food allergies. The only kid in my class with an allergy was me! And that was to “Mr. Bubble” Bubble-Bath. The list of Not Allowed goes on and on, like: No War Related Games and No Cops and Robbers. As kids we spent a lot of time running around with our hands over our mouths making the WOO-WOO sounds like Indians or the BANG-BANG sound like cowboys, cops, or robbers. We didn’t do this because we wanted to promote violence. We played these games because we were taught that cowboys and Indians and policemen were good and strong and brave and stood up for what was right and that robbers were bad and MUST be taught how to be strong and honest and true. Sometimes, I wonder if all the efforts made today to “protect” our children is in fact making our children less strong. Are we taking away so much of what we considered to be good, clean fun that the next generation will have a hard time figuring out if something is okay to eat or play or do or be if it’s not labeled?







May 3

Star Wars Trivia Night 6:30PM-9:00PM Top 3 Teams Win Prizes | Food, Wine, & Beer | Star Wars Attire Encouraged | Teams of 2 or More Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Trivia Info: 813-752-9100

Plant City

Happenings April 16

33rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt 10:00AM-12:00PM Ages 3-11 | Bring Your Own Basket | Bunny Photos | Bounce House | Train Rides Otis M. Andrew Sports Complex @ 2602 E. Cherry St Cost: Free Egg Hunt; $5 for Bunny Band to Use Train, Bounce House, & Bunny Photos Info: Plant City Parks & Recreation Dept @ 813-659-4255

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

April 29 April 22-24

Market in the Meadows Home & Garden Market 9:00AM-4:00PM The Fancy Flea | Over 200 Unique Vendors | Food Vendors & Live Music | No Dogs Allowed 2866 Reynolds St W. Cost: Free Parking; $5 Admission Info: Fancy Flea @ 863-712-3278

April 23

Walk for Life 8:30AM-12:00PM Fundraiser | Celebrating 30 Years | Parking Located at City Pointe Church at 503 N. Palmer St Pregnancy Care Center @ 304 N. Collins St Cost: No Registration Fee Info: Sandi Nelson @

Praise & Paint 7:00PM-10:00PM Fellowship | Painting | Food & Beverages | No Painting Experience Needed Planteen Recreation Center @ 301 N. Dort St Cost: $30 per Person (Includes All Supplies & Refreshments) Info: 813-659-4256

April 25

Aspire Book Club 6:00PM “Think Again” by Adam Grant | Professional Networking | Refreshments The Tipsy Bookworm @ 115 S. Evers St Cost: Free for Aspire Club Members; $5 for Non-Members Info:

April 28

Plant City Hiring Event

April 21 & April 22 Dusty’s All-Star Circus

4:30PM-6:00PM & 7:00PM-8:30PM Showtimes for Both Days Classic American Circus | Family Friendly |Intimate Atmosphere | Fun & Thrills Teco Expo Hall @ 2301 W. Oak Ave Cost: Adults- $20; Children 3-13- $15; Children 2 &Under- Free Info: 941-870-7444 or Office@



8:00AM-2:00PM For Graduating High School Seniors | Job Fair | Variety of Businesses & Jobs HCC Trinkle Center @ 1206 N. Park Rd Cost: Free Info: Future Career Academy @ 813-478-0494

Last Friday in DowntownMay The 4th Be with You 5:00PM-9:00PM Food Trucks & Vendors | Live Music | Family & Pet Friendly | Bring a Chair or Blanket McCall Park @ 100 N. Collins St Cost: Free Info: 813-764-9516

May 13

Movie Trivia Night 7:00PM-8:33PM Family Friendly | Coffee & Snacks | Prizes Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J Arden Mays Blvd Cost: Free Trivia Info: 813-752-1220


WI 2022


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



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a Gallery of Plant City


On March 26, Dean’s Ride celebrated its 10th anniversary event at Keel Farms. Over 200 riders participated in the event, raising funds for the Plant City YMCA’s Livestrong program. The funds will help cancer survivors and their families. To learn more about Dean’s Ride, visit

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d e a. Following the ride, cyclers were invited back to Keel Farms to a post-ride lunch, music, and Keel Farms’ beers and ciders. b. Paul Conley, executive director of the Plant City YMCA, thanked the riders for participating in the event and supporting cancer survivors and their families. c. Teams gathered at Keel Farms, the official starting place for Dean’s Ride, early on the morning of March 26. The ride officially began at 7:30 a.m. d. Riders could pick from four cycling distances including a Metric Century, Half-Metric, Quarter Metric and then a Family cycle. e. Dean’s Ride was a CAAM Tour Series event. CAAM connects ride events with cyclers throughout the state. CAAM informed riders of the line up, ride support, and stations along the route.






Great health care is closer than you think. South Florida Baptist Hospital is more than just a small community hospital. We’ve got a wide array of specialty care and surgical services that you don’t have to travel far to get. Our surgeons are experts in minimally invasive robotic surgical procedures that provide lots of benefits, including shorter hospital stays, decreased blood loss and smaller incisions that reduce the risk of infection. Plus, faster recovery times that mean you can get back to your normal activities sooner. You’ll find comprehensive orthopedic care—whether you’re an athlete who needs sports medicine services or you’re someone who needs a total joint replacement. Our allinclusive gynecology program offers high-quality care to the women and mothers in our community with a variety of women’s care services. We’ve even been designated as a Center of Excellence for our weight loss surgery program, meeting nationally recognized standards and providing outstanding care to our patients. And all of this extraordinary care exists right here in Plant City. Learn more: