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Contents Table of
By Cierra Craft
By Cierra Craft
A sweet, dark elixir, sweet tea is the perfect drink for summertime. Whether you like it with lemon, mint, or you want to taste the sugar, look at how some of the locals make this hometown favorite.
Father’s Day is June 19. We asked our community to tell us why their dad is special in this photo tribute to Dad.
FEATURE: SIPPIN’ ON SWEET TEA
FEATURE: FATHER’S DAY TRIBUTES
SPOTLIGHT: KEEPIN’ COOL WITH REMI SANCHEZ III
By Cierra Craft Sanchez is the owner of Ice Pop Factory, a premiere artisanal ice pop manufacturer. Take a behind-the-scenes look at this Plant City business and learn more about the sweet treats we love for summertime.
FOCUS PLANT CITY
focusplantcity.com / Issue 21-06 / June 2022
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.
BUSINESS: DUKE’S BREWHOUSE
By Cierra Craft Whether enjoying a live musical performance as a family or catching the Bolts game with cold beers, Duke’s Brewhouse is ready to welcome you. Learn more about this family-friendly restaurant.
So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and inform it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 7078783 or e-mail email@example.com. The staff will fix the error in a timely manner. FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local Plant City businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Advertisers warrant and represent the descriptions of their products advertised are true in all respects. Focus Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters and their contents sent to Focus Magazine become the sole property of Floyd Publications, Inc and may be reproduced thereof. All views expressed in all articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Floyd Publications, Inc. Use or duplication of material used in this publication is prohibited without approved written consent from Floyd Publications, Inc.
BES VETER T INARIA
3012 James L Redman Parkway, Plant City, FL 33566
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THANK YOU PLANT CITY FOR VOTING US BEST VETERINARIAN 2 YEARS IN A ROW!
Remember counting down the days until summer break when you were a little kid? Your only worry was getting out on the water, riding your bike with friends, and getting money for ice cream. The bike path in Walden Lake will be busy with family bike rides, jogging, and dog walking. We’ve got to enjoy the time while we can as Floridians we are all too familiar with the afternoon monsoon rain. I want to create fun summer memories with my boys, so I imagine we’ll be spending a lot of time in the pool, throwing the football in the backyard, and on the boat. We like to go wakeboarding and tubing on Lake Thonotosassa with friends. Spending that time together, in the beautiful weather, the kids get a kick out of seeing their old dad try to keep up. The summer is all about cold treats and drinks to beat the heat. In this issue, we take a behind-the-scenes look at Ice Pop Factory, located off Airport Road. Owned by Plant City resident Remi Sanchez, the Ice Pop Factory manufactures frozen fruit ice pops, artisanal pops, and other specialty treats. Speaking of cold drinks, what epitomizes summer in the South than sweet tea? Served in restaurants, fast food joints, and in home kitchens, we take a look at this beloved beverage. Thank you to Marsha Passmore for opening your home and creating the beautiful pitcher of tea photographed in the feature. I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful outdoors in Plant City or wherever your travels may take you. I hope also that this issue, bursting with ideas for fun and loaded with interesting features, will help to enhance the slightly slower-paced, blissful days of summer.
THE THEWOLF WOLF FAMILY FAMILY THANK YOU PLANT CITY...
...FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
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Plant City Announces Plans for Splash Park By Jennifer Jordan
t a recent City Commission meeting, City Commissioners reviewed the proposed uses of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Those funds will allow the City to move forward with several exciting and important projects, including a much-anticipated splash park and playground. The splash park will receive a $2 million-dollar budget, and will provide an enhanced park experience that will be new to Plant City’s Park and Recreation inventory. The splash park will offer various nozzles and features that can shower, spray, mist, and shoot streams of water. There will also be a playground, parking area, restrooms, and changing rooms. With plans to have a virtually zero water depth non-slip surface, the water from the splash park will also be collected, filtered, sanitized, and re-circulated to keep the water fun flowing in an eco-friendly way. Ready to begin the conceptual phase, the City is now selecting a firm to begin the conceptual designs. If you have any questions or would like more information about the Plant City splash park project that has been requested by many Plant Citians for years, call our Community Engagement Center at 813-659-4200.
PLANT CITY PERSONALITIES!
CAN YOU GUESS WHO THIS IS?
HERE IS YOUR CLUE: WELL, THIS LITTLE BO DUKE LOOK-A-LIKE wasn’t born in HAZZARD COUNTY but in Douglas, Georgia. His Daddy didn’t drive the General Lee, but was a very well known Musician here in Plant City. So Plant City is where this Good OL’ Boy and his family returned to when he was just a baby. This “Youngin” has ALWAYS had STARS IN HIS EYES and WAS DESTINED FOR GREATNESS! As a small boy, his FAVORITE TV show was HEE HAW. When it came on he would come running out wearing his Cowboy hat, boots, and his tighty whities. He new that program backwards and forwards. He also loved the Dukes of Hazzard and was a dead ringer for Bo Duke. In high school he wanted to be a member of the Power Team and rip Telephone Books in Half. This Personality would have easily fit in with New Kids On The Block or even The Back Street Boys with his good looks, personality, stage presence and leadership qualities. He has ALWAYS had a LOVE FOR THE LORD and has become a DYNAMIC and HIGHLY RESPECTED LEADER.
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: JEREMY RHODES
Cao and Sha’Caria:
How a Kidney Donation Turned into a Lifelong Friendship By Jennifer Jordan
ne morning in August of 2020 at Brooklyn Bridge, Caren and Cao Tran were enjoying breakfast when they saw a car parked outside that said, “Sha’Caria Needs A Kidney O+.” When they discovered the owner of the vehicle was the mother of 25-yearold (at the time) Sha’Caria Lyttle, they spoke with her and heard the incredible story of a young woman’s fighting spirit. Sha’Caria had a liver transplant at five years old, and the anti-rejection medications severely damaged her kidneys to the point that she was traveling to Tampa General Hospital daily for dialysis for roughly two years. Upon hearing this, Caren Tran wanted to donate her kidney, but after various tests she learned she was unable to donate, so her husband Cao Tran decided to donate his kidney. Cao said, “After we learned my wife couldn’t donate, it just felt natural to say I would try. If I’m healthy and able to help her, I should, because everyone deserves a chance.” Now, here’s the catch of it all: Cao has a different blood type than Sha’Caria and knew that up front, but him and Caren learned about kidney paired exchange donation. Kidney paired exchange donation is a swap or trade with someone else who has a donor that isn’t compatible with them. Caren Tran said, “Essentially, someone else in an identical situation to ours is a match to donate to Sha’Caria and Cao is a match for their recipient. There ends up being four surgeries in the same day, with two donors and two recipients.” After going through a year of medical testing at Tampa General Hospital to ensure Cao was a good candidate for the procedure, in addition to bloodwork and Covid-19 tests completed by Cao, Sha’Caria,
and the other donor and recipient, the surgery finally occurred on April 19 of this year. Lasting approximately three hours for Cao, both Cao and Sha’Caria’s surgeries went well, with Sha’Caria recovering quicker than expected. Caren stated, “Sha’Caria’s mom put together a drive-by celebration a couple of weeks ago and that was a blast.” Cao is also doing well adjusting to just one kidney. Still sore, Cao stated, “I focused on drinking lots of fluids and eating soup because my body was learning to adjust to having one kidney instead of two. I’ve accustomed to staying away from a lot of red meat, salty foods, and a few other things. I really just need to treat my vegetables and grains as my main dish and my protein as the side.” When asked if they all will be a part of each other’s lives going forward, Caren stated, “Oh, absolutely! The emotional ups and downs throughout a process like this really brought all of us a sense of rawness, strength, and empathy as a group; you can’t stray from that. Sha’caria and her family are so special; they aren’t like everyone else and they are so humble, deserving, and grateful.” Cao said of Sha’Caria and their friendship, “Sha’caria is a very strong young lady who has been through a lot and still holds her head high with a grateful heart and so much hope. Her faith in everything is unwavering and it’s amazing. I believe we have become more than friends; we’re family now because of this journey that we went through together.” If you or someone you know is interested in donating a kidney and saving a life, call the National Kidney Foundation at 855-653-2273.
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Walden Lake Review BY NATALIE SWEET
Summer Safety Tips from Plant City Police Department By Cierra Craft
he kids are out of school and summer vacation is here! To help families stay safe this summer, the Plant City Police Department has created the following list of summer safety tips. FOCUS sat down with Public Information Officer Captain Al Van Duyne to remind you and your family to make summer safety a top priority.
Little kids need to have a “Water Watcher,” a responsible adult who agrees to watch the kids in the water without distractions, before getting in the water. Remove any pool toys that could attract children to the water. Prevent unsupervised water access by installing a barrier around your pool and hot tub “These pool barriers can be purchased at pool supply stores like Pinch-A-Penny, Lowe’s, Walmart, or ordered online from Amazon,” said Capt. Van Duyne. “If you have a sliding glass door to access your pool patio, install a latch that is out of reach of small children and keep it locked to prevent an accident when children are not meant to be swimming.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 4 and older learn to swim. Learning how to swim should be a fun activity, promoting aquatic awareness and minimizing intimidation. To find swimming lessons in or near Plant City, contact the YMCA at (813) 757-6677 or find a local swimming school.
Kids Left in Cars
“In 2018 and 2019, we saw a record number of hot car deaths—53 children died each year—the most in at least 20 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said Capt. Van Duyne. A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child in left in a hot vehicle, the child could die within minutes. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and a child can die when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees. Parents and caregivers, get in the habit of always looking inside your car before locking the doors. Remember Park. Look. Lock. And always ask yourself, “Where’s Baby?” The National Safety Council recommends placing a purse or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last look before walking away.
Going on Vacation
If you’re planning a vacation, don’t broadcast that you’re leaving on vacation or post pictures on social media until you return. It would also be wise to turn off your appliances, consider turning your A/C off, and ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your home. “Timers or systems like Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa to control your lights via an app and if you can afford it, invest in a doorbell camera or security cameras that can be viewed from your smartphone,” says Capt. Van Duyne.
Celebrate July 4 with Safety in Mind
Please celebrate the 4th of July responsibly and safely. Consider all safety measures when barbequing and closely supervise children when using celebratory devices. “Be mindful of the amount of alcohol you may consume and have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service such as Uber, Lyft, etc. to get home safely,” says Capt. Van Duyne. “We hope you take all these suggestions to heart,” said Capt. Van Duyne. “Our goal is to ensure all families, especially children, have an enjoyable and safe summer.” PAGE
alden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 6:30 at the Walden Lake Community Association office building on Griffin Boulevard in Walden Lake. The next meetings will be held on June 20th and July 18th. 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 www.WaldenLake.org and view the meeting virtually on zoom. Although it was planned for Walden Lake LLC to go before the City Commissioners with their plan that was opposed by the Planning Board, the meeting was canceled and the developer is revamping the plans to go before the Planning Board once again. Stay tuned for more information either in your email, on Nextdoor, or on the entrance boards. 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 Nextdoor. During the month of May, there were 10 sales in Walden Lake and 1 sale in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $451,900 and average of 2241 square feet and on the market for an average of 7 days.
The May sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 3102 Thackery Way / $295,000 / 1856 / 2 Car / None 3301 Kilmer Drive / $365,000 / 1847 / 2 Car / None 1904 Teakwood Drive / $390,000 / 1934 / 2 Car / Private 2506 South Golfview Drive / $395,000 / 1922 / 2 Car / Private 3110 Emerson Place / $350,000 / 1635 / 2 Car / None 4306 Kipling Avenue / $402,000 / 1703 / 2 Car / None 2914 Sutton Oaks Drive / $450,000 / 2174 / 2 Car / None 2307 Clubhouse Drive / $533,000 / 2896 / 3 Car / Private 3306 Milton Place / $560,000 / 2527 / 3 Car / Private 2806 Wedgewood Drive / $560,000 / 2608 / 3 Car / Private 2701 Pine Club Drive / $569,000 / 3209 / 3 Car / Private
There are currently 11 active listings for sale in Walden Lake with an average list price of $452,164 and an average of 29 days on the market. There are 17 properties Pending Contract in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East with an average list price of $501,400 and an average of 39 days on the market. This is a great time to sell your home. As you can see from the number of homes sold compared with the active listings, it is 11 active and 11 sold, which means there is a one-month inventory. Before you sell your home to an “I’ll buy your home for cash company, move when you are ready”, you should consult with an honest and experienced real estate agent that will be able to give you a value of what your home will sell on the open market. Feel free to contact me with any questions about this article or about your real estate needs. NSweet@KW.com or 813-758-9586.
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Meet Plant City Main Street Executive Director Dawn Hyatt By Cierra Craft
eet Dawn Hyatt and it’s apparent that a few words define her life: blessed, grateful, and love. Hyatt recently moved to Plant City, hired as the new Executive Director of Plant City Main Street. The retired Army medic is originally from Seattle but called Texas home. One year ago, she moved to Crestview, Florida, a small town an hour northeast of Pensacola, where she served as Executive Director of Main Street Crestview Association. But, Hyatt was drawn to Central Florida and began seeking another Main Street city to call home. “Kathy Beck [Florida Main Street coordinator] told me go look at four Main Street cities, they need Executive Directors,” said Hyatt. “I parked in McCall Park and I felt God’s calling. I didn’t finish going to see the other cities, I told Kathy, I’m applying to Plant City.” Hyatt said she fell in love with Plant City’s charm and says she is humbled to be a part of the growth in Plant City. Since her appointment on April 1, she has made rounds introducing herself to Main Street merchants, city leaders, and government officials. “I want to bring more events and enhance the nightlife in the Main Street district and I am very passionate about historic preservation, save what can be saved,” said Hyatt. “If it can be fixed let’s fix it, if it can be restored, let’s restore it. With the growth in the economy and the want to have all things new, we are losing precious history. Not everything has to be built new, but can be made new once again. Plant City Main Street in partnership with The City of Plant City has a great Vision Plan to continue to make our Downtown the Diamond we know it to be.” One of the latest events added into Plant City Main Street’s mix is A Night Out in Downtown. Scheduled for the second Friday of the month, A Night Out in Downtown encourages downtown merchants to stay open late and welcomes the community to shop, dine, and drink after hours. The May event served as a fundraising endeavor for local organizations that support veterans, as will the July event, scheduled as a “Christmas in July” theme, benefiting Jensen’s Heart of Gold. The local chapter is led by Plant City native Emily Pierce, Jensen’s Heart of Gold is a nonprofit organization that supports children with childhood cancer. Pierce’s daughter, Morgan, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in November 2008. Morgan lived her life advocating for kindness and inclusion, as well as fighting for other kids diagnosed with this disease. Morgan passed away in June 2020. Emily Pierce continues to raise awareness of childhood cancer through Jensen’s Heart of Gold. For more details on “Christmas in July,” visit Plant City Main Street’s Facebook page. Hyatt says she’s never seen a community so tight-knit as Plant City and one where merchants watch out for one another. She is excited to combine Plant City Main Street’s forces with Plant City Economic Development Center, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Plant City. “These four pillar organizations share the same goals and I hope to work cohesively in partnership to benefit our merchants, residents, and visitors,” said Hyatt. Stay tuned to Plant City Main Street’s social media accounts for upcoming summer and fall events, including A Night Out in Downtown, Last Friday in Downtown, Yoga in the Park, and food truck nights.
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Local High Schools Celebrate “Plant City FCA Signing Day” for Career-Driven Students By Jennifer Jordan
n May 12, both Plant City High School and Simmons Career Center students were celebrated with an official Future Career Academy Signing Day that was driven by Patterson Companies and attended by proud parents, media, and even Plant City Mayor Rick Lott. According to Aimee Hubay, School Liaison for the FCA, the FCA Signing Day is similar to the signing days that celebrate students who intend to play a sport in college. Hubay noted, “Students who earn athletic, musical, and academic scholarships are generally recognized with a ceremony of some sort. We here at Future Career Academy believe that even if students don’t want to go to college, that they should still be celebrated for finding a stable job with benefits.” What is Future Career Academy, you ask? Well, Future Career Academy is a program that began in 2015 with the purpose of meeting the workforce needs of our local and growing companies while connecting graduating students with good jobs. Future Career Academy is targeted towards non-college bound high school seniors in Plant City, East Tampa, and southern Hillsborough County, and it gives students a head-start on the skills they’ll need to be successful in the workplace. Yvonne Fry, a marketing and public relations professional and colauncher of the FCA, stated, “It’s important we get these students interested in a job, a purpose, and give them structure and earnings. They deserve a bright and successful future.” The Future Career Academy delivers to students a curriculum based on essential workforce development skills, such as resume writing, interview skills, dressing for success, and more. All students in the program receive FCA classroom instruction throughout the year and participate in panel discussions and field trips to local businesses. The students’ time in FCA
ends with a Future Fair, which is similar to a traditional job fair, but with “navigators” present to encourage and push students to maximize their exposure to potential employers. The students who participated in the Plant City FCA Signing Day signed a paper, along with Yvonne Fry and Mayor Rick Lott, that acted as a contract that says they will begin their respective jobs after they graduate. These are the students of PCHS and Simmons, two of the schools that participated in the Signing Day event. The students, along with their school and the business they will be working for, are: • • • • • • • • • •
Rylend Doty (PCHS) - IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Kevin Escalante Cruz (PCHS) - IBEW Damian Ibarra (PCHS) - IBEW Philip Simmons (PCHS) - IBEW Blaze Strong (PCHS) - IBEW Gilselis Perez Espada (PCHS) - Keel and Curley Winery Gracie Dyer (PCHS) - Keel and Curley Winery Noah Richmond (Simmons Career Acceleration Academy) Dallas 1 Construction Mario Morales (Simmons) - Johnson Barbeque Estrella Torres (Simmons) - Rooms to Go
Congratulations to the students who participated in the FCA Signing Day. For more information about Future Career Academy, contact FCA School Liaison Aimee Hubay at 813-816-0064.
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Two Plant City Establishments Win Big at Tampa Bay Beer Week By Cierra Craft
ampa Bay Beer Week, a 501c6 not-for-profit organization, hosted its first Cider & Mead Invitational on May 21 at Cigar City Cider & Mead in Ybor City. The event comprised beverages by 3 Daughters Brewing, Bootleggers Brewing Company, Cigar City Cider & Mead, Garagiste Meadery, Green Bench Brewing Co., Keel Farms Agrarian Ale + Cider, Pye Road Meadworks, The Tipsy Bookworm, and Three Hands Mead Company. Attendees purchased samples and pours from the breweries and meaderies, voting for their favorite. By popular vote, four businesses were named first and second place winners in both ciders and meads, two of which are Plant City businesses. Plant City’s Keel Farms Agrarian Ale + Cider was named second place in the Cider category with its “Mimosa” flavor after St. Pete’s Green Bench Brewing Company’s “Purple Rain.” In the Mead category, Downtown Plant City’s Three Hands Mead Co. was named First Place for its “You Down with OBT?” Tampa’s Garagiste Meadery came in second place with varied selections. “We’re so proud to represent our awesome city on a bigger stage,” said Three Hands Mead Co. following the announcement of winners. You can visit Keel Farms at 5202 Thonotosassa Road and when you show your Florida ID with a Plant City address, you receive 20% off. Three Hands Mead Co. is located at 111 South Evers Street to try their unique mead selections, including the award-winning “OBT.”
Plant City Entertainment to Perform ‘Charlotte’s Web’ in July; Get Your Tickets Now! By Jennifer Jordan
ark your calendars in July; Plant City Entertainment will be performing a fun childhood classic, Charlotte’s Web! Based on the book by E.B. White, the production is adapted by Joseph Robinette and directed by Steven Bucko. It will feature Maren Fernandez as Charlotte, Annie Westcott as Wilbur, and Ella Bucko as Fern Arable. Charlotte’s Web is about a livestock pig named Wilbur who on the verge of being slaughtered but is saved by a spider named Charlotte who write messages in her web to persuade the farmer not to slaughter Wilbur after developing a friendship. The play is produced by special arrangement with the Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois, and tickets went on sale May 30. General admission is $20, senior and student tickets cost $18, Plant City Entertainment Members’ tickets cost $15, and groups of 10 or more pay $15 individually. Charlotte’s Web will run at the theatre on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting July 8, with the last show occurring on July 24. On Fridays and Saturday, showtime is at 8:00PM, and on Sundays, showtime is at 2:00PM. The community theater is located at 101 N. Thomas Street in downtown Plant City. If you would like take a step back into your childhood, share a classic with your kids or grandkids, or have a fun date night, then make sure to get your tickets for Charlotte’s Web and support your local theatre! For more questions about Charlotte’s Web or future plays and musicals, call Plant City Entertainment at 813-752-0728. To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.plantcityentertainment. com.
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Plant City YMCA to Honor Sharon Moody with Strong Leader Award
he Plant City Family YMCA is pleased to honor Sharon Moody at its 2021-2022 Strong Leader Dinner on August 25, 2022. This year’s honoree’s contributions to the Plant City community echo the Y’s commitment to strengthening the community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Moody is the Florida District Governor Elect of Kiwanis and will take the Governor’s office from October 1, 2022, to September 2023. She has been a Plant City Kiwanis Club member for 15 years and has held nine district-level positions and five club-level positions. Moody has two daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. While spending time with her family and being active in the day-to-day operations with Kiwanis, she still finds time to volunteer and give back to the Plant City community. As a more than 13-year member of Unity In The Community, Moody is the current Treasurer and was the Grand Marshal in 2021 for the Florida Strawberry Festival and in 2012 for the Plant City Christmas Parade. Moody has been a Plant City YMCA Board Member since 2021 and an active volunteer member for several community projects over the last 30 years. She has had a tremendous impact on the Plant City community in her roles as Director for Lots Of Hugs Summer Reading, where she served over 12 years, cooking over 13,000 meals for 100 plus children during the 9-week program. She’s held the title of Event Coordinator for the Black Heritage Gala and Jazz Festival, which celebrates Black History Month. Additionally, she served as the Event Coordinator for Santa Sled, a program where toys, food, and bicycles are given to families in need throughout the holiday season.
WHAT: Strong Leader Award Dinner – Honoring Sharon Moody WHEN: Thursday, August 25 6:30pm – Social 7:00pm – Dinner 8:00pm – Program WHERE: John R. Trinkle Center at HCC Campus Plant City SPONSORSHIPS/ TICKETS: Table sponsorships are available for $1,000 and include a table of eight. Individual tickets are $100 per person. All proceeds benefit children and families in Plant City through YMCA programs and services. Your generous contribution provides kids with values-centered summer day camp, sports and swimming experiences to help them grow strong in spirit, mind and body. EVENT CONTACT: Paul Conley at Paul.Conley@tampaymca.org or (813)757-6677
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Want to become a member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce? Businesses may join the Chamber online by visiting www.plantcity.org or by calling the office at (813) 754- 3707.
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While sweet tea is a quintessential summer drink, sweet tea is served all years long. Perfect for an afternoon on the front porch.
SWEET TEA In our dining rooms and diners, we stir together a handful of humble ingredients to produce an amber elixir that tastes like the South and feels like home. By Cierra Craft
Drinking sweet tea is one of the South’s oldest traditions. In the 1989 film Steel Magnolias, Dolly Parton’s character Truvey described the beverage as the “house wine of the South.” A staple of the long, hot days of summer, a tall glass of sweet iced tea is refreshing for the body and soul. But it’s more than just the trinity of sugar, tea, and water, diluted into a gallon pitcher in the fridge- it’s our alchemy. Around our dinner tables, barbecue ribs, cornbread, and black-eyed peas are served and the tea pitcher is brought to the table for all to enjoy. In our area restaurants, families celebrate the game-winning home run, with a sweet tea served over ice. Sweet tea makes every day unique when it’s filled with family, love, and tradition. It can be argued that sweet tea is integral to the South’s cuisine and culture. It’s no wonder that local restaurants continue making the quintessential Southern beverage in large batches. But, despite that simple three-ingredient recipe, there are all kinds of variations. Some people steep the tea for half an hour, some let it sit all day.
Some people throw in a few extra tea bags to boost its astringency. But, then there is the sugar- no one can agree on how much sugar makes the perfect sweet tea. At Johnson Barbeque, that sentiment holds true. As the dispenser fills with hot water, six one-ounce tea bags begin brewing. Servers Beth Roberts and Athena Batten begin making tea just after 10:00 a.m. so that it is ready to be served when the restaurant opens at 11:00 a.m. Roberts opens the plastic tub of sugar stored under the maker and scoops two one-liter pitchers of sugar and pours each pitcher into the dispenser one at a time. She then takes a silicone spatula and begins stirring so the sugar can dissolve. Batten then scoops the sugar for her tea. She takes a larger pitcher, scooping approximately 8 cups of sugar; she knows her tea will be sweet. The servers estimate the restaurant serves 150 gallons of beverage per day. On this particular day, the family matriarch, Evelyn Johnson was visiting the barbeque joint and spoke about how the family began serving their southern sweet tea back in 1954 when the Johnsons opened Johnson Restaurant. With any southern family, the tradition of tea making goes back generations. Evelyn Johnson learn to make the sweet beverage growing up and taught her family. “We served tea when we opened in 1954 and I taught Owen [her grandson; owner of Johnson Barbeque] how to make tea,” said Johnson. Owen Johnson chimes in, “oh, yeah! With this much sugar.” Placing his hands together and making a scooping gesture. When asked if they prefer lemon in their tea, Owen said emphatically, “no, I want to taste the sugar.” “I made tea growing up and I just enjoyed being in the kitchen with my mama,” said Johnson.
Johnsons BBQ has served sweet tea since its founding in 1954, garnished with a lemon slice.
Johnson says she makes her sweet tea at home by boiling the water first and letting her tea steep “for a while.” She pours the sugar into her pitcher. How much sugar, you ask? We may never know. “Do I have to say?” asked Johnson with a giggle.
Johnsons BBQ makes 150 gallons of tea per day and soon will sell gallons of their tea to go.
Plant City resident Marsha Passmore makes a fresh pitcher of tea daily for her husband Billy.
“I made tea growing up and I just enjoyed being in the kitchen with my mama,” said Johnson. PAGE
Owen Johnson, owner of Johnson BBQ, says he likes to taste the sugar in his sweet tea. We asked our Instagram followers to vote the best sweet tea in town, voting Johnson BBQ and its parent company Fred’s Market at the top.
HOME BREWED WITH LOVE It’s not uncommon to visit a friend and they ask, “can I get you something to drink?” and there is a pitcher of tea in the fridge, made fresh daily. For Plant City native Marsha Passmore, she says she makes a pitcher of tea, fresh each morning. “My husband has to have his tea,” said Passmore. When asked to brew tea for this feature, Passmore said without a second thought she’d absolutely brew the tea and lend her home to this. After nearly an hour of photos on her wrap-around front porch, we went inside for a glass to cool down. When making it at home, forget the instant stuff. In the South, Luzianne is the preferred brand, as it’s made specifically for iced tea. But, whatever brand you choose, remember a darker brew will have a stronger flavor profile. It’s also recommended to use filtered water, as the quality of water will impact the quality of the tea. Once the water comes to a boil, remove it and pour it over the tea bags. While the tea steeps, in a separate pitcher, add cold water and sugar. You’ll then pour the sugar water into the hot tea and stir, which will dissolve the sugar. Sweetness is different for everyone. It might take some experimenting with the amount of sugar that yields a perfectly sweet tea for your palate. Let the pitcher of sweet tea reach room temperature before cooling it down in the fridge. If you add ice and expose it to the cold while the mixture is still warm, the sweet tea can turn cloudy.
People of Plant City
Keith Ogles By Cheryl Johnston
ne of the first things you notice about Keith Ogles is his huge smile and upbeat attitude – about everything! The 25-year-old Atlanta native is an entrepreneur at heart. He provides his family’s income through odd jobs, pressure washing, painting, and tree trimming. A Gary High School graduate, Keith also recently earned certifications as an electrician from Florida Technical College. Now he’s building his “Knock Out Quality Pools” cleaning and maintenance business, too, thanks to referrals from a growing customer base. Keith and his beautiful wife Sharaliz have lived in Plant City almost four years now, after moving here when her mother purchased a home. The couple are parents to Grace (who turns five on June 29) and one-yearold Faith. And in late July, they will welcome a newborn son, Noah. So, when you have spare time, how do you spend it? I love taking my wife and children to Adventure Island to enjoy the sunshine and water fun. I also enjoy playing video games and I read devotionals to be encouraged. Sounds like faith might be an important part of your life. Is that right? Yes, my faith has been tried and tested many times, but the testings just ensure the reminder of how much I need my faith. If you were on a boat and never needed a lifejacket, you might become too self-sufficient. My Christian faith keeps me grounded and allows me to move past the evident and believe in what can be. It’s the only reason I’m still moving. And I want to keep growing and being an example to my family and others. To whom do you credit for your strong work ethic? Both of my parents taught my brother and I how to work from a very a young age. We were expected to help with maintaining our home and assisting them in their work. I also credit God for showing me that work is important in our training for a good life. I want to teach my children to work, too. Great satisfaction comes from being productive and seeing a job done well. If anyone needs my help with any task, they can call me at 813452-7454. Do you have a few favorites – as in food, music, TV shows, games, etc? My favorite food is my wife’s delicious Teriyaki Chicken dish. As to TV, American Ninja Warrior is one show I enjoy, and Call of Duty is a video game I really like. What do you enjoy about life in Plant City? Everything is local and it’s easy to get to know people here. Everyone seems open and friendly and you see a lot of smiles. It reminds me of Hartwell, Georgia, the small town where my mother grew up. People are often willing to help each other.
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Bicycle, Bicycle, Bicycle By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives, Inc.
he United Nations General Assembly declared June 3rd as World Bicycle Day in 2018. The resolution recognizes “the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries…”. As we move into the long days of summer, it is easy to reminisce about riding through neighborhoods, relishing in adolescent freedom from school and parents. Owning a bike was your ticket to freedom – escaping to friends’ homes and backyards, the local cinema and pool, or adventurous (some read mischievous) attempts to uncover secrets within haunted locals. However, the transportive ability of the bicycle was not always so adequate. The first velocipede was constructed with wood, leather, and iron but lacked pedals, and a sufficient brake and steering system. The rider balanced astride the wood beam device and propelled the bike by walking. Despite its ability to roll riders a significant distance, this early “bicycle” left much to be desired, even causing riders to wear out their boots too quickly. Though the earliest two-wheeled inventions emerged at the beginning of the 19th century, the “Golden Age” of bicycles did not begin until the late-1800s. The development of technology – pneumatic tires, gears, metal framing – would spark decades of new designs. Created in the 1860s, the “boneshaker”, so-called due to its bumpy ride, began the transitional look of bicycles and led to our early modern bike, the safety bicycle. Bicycles rapidly became the primary mode of transportation and they provided new levels of independence, particularly for women. No longer completely reliant on men to escort them around town, women could finally exert control over where they spent their time. This social mobility played a considerable role in the women’s rights movement. Yet, women were not the only group to find autonomy with the bicycle. The creation of children’s bikes emerged after the First World War. The advent of the automobile saw adults opting for motor-powered transportation. Thus, the bicycle market shifted to manufacturing for their new, juvenile consumers. Plant Citian’s purchased their bikes from a handful of shops over the decades – C. B. Jenkins’ bicycle shop, Tickel & Sons Bicycle Shop, Percy’s Bicycle & Sport Shop. To learn more about bicycles in Plant City, visit the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center located at 106 S. Evers St. in historic downtown Plant City, open Monday–Thursday, 10:15am to 7:00pm. For additional information or if you would like to share your photos with the Archives, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 813.754.1578. References United Nations General Assembly, Seventy-second year. “World Bicycle Day.” A/RES/72/272. April 12, 2018. Hadland, Tony and Hans-Erhard Lessing. Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History. 2014.
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: d a D r DeaA Father's Day Tribute
With Father’s Day on June 19, FOCUS Magazine is celebrating all kinds of dads, granddads, fathers, and father figures this month with reader-submitted photo tributes. We asked our readers what made their dads special. They responded with stories of strength, patience, perseverance, and generosity. Here are their tributes. Happy Father’s Day to the men who call Plant City home!
Blane Wilker son His heart is filled with kin dness, genero and strength sity . He continua lly works hard while still sta ying present. We are so ble to have him. ssed Dayla, Liam , Dane & Ryl an Wilkerson
Kai (8) says: M y daddy is great becaus e he saved someone’s life an d plays games and Pokém on with me and teaches me lots of things and loves me. He’s really good at legos, too. Jade (4) says: My daddy is the best. I love da ddy hugs and kisses. Dad dy plays toys and books wi th me. My daddy is silly!
My dad means the absolute world to me. He’s my best friend, one of
my biggest. supporters, music buddy, and biggest fan. He has taught
me to never settle for less, to be
strong in whatever situation, hard
My dad is the best pop there is! He spoils Paxton with candy, to ys, and so much love. Paxton loves to “Call Pa” and talk to him on the phone. My dad is a giver, easy-going, witty, and protective. He loves the beach and saltwater, iced te a, his girls, and his family most. Happy Fa ther’s Day, Dad. You’re the best! - Chelsea Wilkerson
work pays off, and, how to throw a
good punch...if I have to. He learned to play the ukulele after I did, just so we could play together. He’s the king of finding a new hobby every
week, like cooking Tik Tok recipes, archery, building Lego’s, and even woodworking! One of my favorite
memories I have with my dad was
when we built a shelf together. It felt really good to know we worked hard
to make it together from the ground up. After I won First Maid, he was
the first person I saw from my family. I literally sprinted to my dad (in 6
inch heels, might I add) once parent’s
Dedicated to the best Dad and Pop Pop around! We love you a nd all that yo u do for our fam ily Feliz dia del pa dre! Love, Chase , Dallas, and Jordan
Dad, There is no better fi shing and hunting pa rtner than yo u . We couldn’t ask for a better dad. Thank you fo r always mak ing us number one in everything yo u do. We love you and a ppreciate you! Happy Father ’s Day! Love Caden and Charlie
were allowed on stage, and gave
him the biggest hug. Dad, if you’re reading this, I love you so much!! - Madison Davis
an Robinson, ga, Jimmie D ga / d a d l fu er day - a d our wond his 80th birth on en k We have misse ta s a re w ven. We all 21. This pictu tered into Hea en since 12/21/ nd a h rt ple. His he left this ea e by his exam liv to ve ri st month before rly and only a few loved him dea SMILE are IG B nd respected and a , rs othe ompassion for work ethic, c to us. m eant so uch m he t a th reasons e the ading this - b re s d a d e th of ciate ’s Day to all and will appre ed Happy Father ne s id k ur odel that yo positive role m eir lives. throughout th Knox on, and Carly rs a C y, b ob n Ben, Kerri, R Ryan Robinso nd a , house J R , a c and Kaiden S , ny in Kyle, Rebec G , on st a erly, Emmy, E Steve, Kimb r Ellie Joyne Jarrett and
Happy Father’s Day to our residen ts and employees at Grace Manor at Hunters Creek Independent & As sisted Living. We are blessed with the best! Love, Your Grace Manor Family
“Our dad means th e world to amount of us. He wor hours to p ks an ins rovide for ane the time t us, but st o take us ill t a k hunting, f es weekly fa ishing and mily movie t o h a n v ig e our h t. He is a chili in the lso makes world!” the best Caleb Gr iffin, Han nah Griff in, and M ichael Gr iffin.
“Hey Google” (inside jok e) lol Daddy’s Little girl. - Michelle Gafford
Happy Father ’s Day Dad, you mean so much to us becaus e you are our he ro and our ro le model. You ha ve shown us w hat it means to b e a great lea der, hard worker and to always put God and fam ily first. Tha nk you for being here for us and alw ays being a great example. We lo ve you! Love, Samant ha, Jess, Jor dan and Michael
Happy Fa thers Da y to the b now grand est Dad, pa! Thank and you for alw there for ays being us ,suppor ting us, for friend, for being our always ma king us la amazing b ugh, for y reakfast our s, and of our dad ! c ou rse for be You mean ing the world could not to us and have ask w e ed for a b We love you etter fat ! her !
- Cheyan ne Malpe li
Happy first Father’s Da y ! On your firs Father’s Da t y , I want you to know that blessed to ha I am ve a father lik e you and how much you trul y mean to me. I could not ha picked a bet ve ter father ! Mommy and I you so much ! love - Baby Aaro n Malpeli
“Some people don’t believe in heroes, but they haven’t met my dad. -Unknown.” This tribute was submitted Anonymously PAGE
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with Remi Sanchez III By Cierra Craft
Remi Sanchez III is the owner of Ice Pop Factory, located off of Plant City’s Airport Road. Ice Pop Factory makes, wraps, packs, and ships specialty and artisan frozen treats internationally. The business is one that begins with Sanchez’s aunt and uncle, whom Remi would work for as a teenager during the summer in Texas, learning to mix, produce, pack and sell ice pops. While attending Ohio State University in the early 1990s, his parents opened an ice pop shop in Plant City on Highway 92. At 19-years-old, Sanchez returned to Plant City and expanded the family business. Today, with his brother and business partner Saul, Ice Pop Factory produces about 500,000 ice pops per week. Meet the Ice Pop King and single father of two boys, as he gives a behind-thescenes look at the production of one of the summer’s most quintessential treats.
Tell our readers about your childhood growing up, where you’re from, when did you move to Plant City, etc. My parents came from Mexico in 1973 and I was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio in 1974. I was raised in a middle-class community with a beautiful humble life. At the age of 4, when I went to the doctor with my mother and she was with my second brother Saul in her belly, the doctor let me see and hear the sonogram. That was when in my little mind I decided I wanted to be a doctor and accelerated my studies. In 6th grade, I was accepted into a gifted program, back in the day, which is similar to Montessori today. I ended up graduating in 11th grade and got offered full rides to various universities, accepting Ohio State University. My parents had started the first ice pop shop in Florida at the time, as I was at OSU. They set up a little shop on Highway 92 in Plant City, a very beautiful and quaint town. I would visit from the university over breaks and take pops to my friends in Ohio. One of those friends told me the pops were very good and that I should commercialize them. That is when the idea came to me to move down to Florida and at the age of 19, joined the family company and took over as general manager. Saul joined me as a business partner about 7 years later. Please share with readers a bit about the types of ice pops Ice Pop Factory can create? As people have become more aware of what they consume, the ice pop industry has transformed over the years from the traditional frozen artificial belly wash on a stick to more all-natural frozen novelties. We produce mainly fruit and vegetable-based ice pops but also are licensed to produce alcohol and CBD ice pops. Over the years, we have had people approach us to produce very unique and creative pops, including vitamin/mineral pops, Kombucha pops, and coffee bars. Ice Pop Factory has produced promotional bars for brands such as JCPenney, Ciroc, the RNC, Times Square, Cards Against Humanity, ING Group in Canada, and many more. How many ice pops per week does Ice Pop Factory create? Do you serve clients throughout the U.S. or internationally? Are you able to share who some of your clients are? We produce from 32,000 to 40,000 pops per shift. We serve the whole U.S. currently but have sold to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Canada. We have clients that sell into many of the supermarkets in the U.S., including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Ralphs and many other supermarket chains. We have non-disclosure agreements signed with all of them, limiting disclosure of who we manufacture for. Can you walk readers through the process of making an ice pop? The factory personnel arrive at 6:00 a.m. to begin mixing. The mixing of ingredients is done in three insulated stainless steel tanks of 240 gallons each. The finished mix is automatically pumped as needed into a dosing hopper. The hopper automatically doses six molds at a time. The machine indexes, semi-freezes the pops, and after 4 minutes automatically injects the wooden sticks into the mold. It indexes for another 4 minutes until completely frozen. At that point, the pops go through a defrost bath and an arm automatically extracts 6 pops at a time. The pops are then delivered to a lowerator
“...the ice pop industry has transformed over the years from the traditional frozen artificial belly wash on a stick to more all-natural frozen novelties.”
which drop the pops onto a conveyor. The conveyor takes them into an automated packaging machine to wrap the individual pops. The pops go through a metal detector and are deposited into a conveyor by an employee that takes them into an automated cartoner that pulls cartons, forms them, pushes the pops in, and seals them. They are then put into a corrugated carton run through a 3M taper with inkjet printers and off to the freezer they go. Can you share with readers Ice Pop Equipment and Frozen Desserts University? How do these ventures support Ice Pop Factory? Ice Pop Equipment, Inc. was created in 2016 to set up small ice pop shops across the U.S. for startup customers. We have a partner in Mexico that manufactures our ice pop and ice cream machines for us under our Ice Pop Equipment label and have another facility that manufactures our wrappers and cartoners under the same label. With this company we can take a company from birth to a fully functional shop, meaning we are an A to Z company when it
comes to the ice pop and ice cream industry. We have a solution and resource for what is needed to be a successful business in the industry. Ice Pop University is the part that trains these shops to formulate and manufacture their products in an efficient and profitable manner. Both of these ventures help people grow in this industry and many grow to a point where they need mass production of their pops for the supermarkets because of their volume and popularity. Most come back to Ice Pop Factory for their ice pop production needs. Are your companies part of any professional or business organizations? Does the company support any nonprofits, charities, etc? Our companies fall under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Natural Food Certifiers, Non-GMO and many other certifications. We’re also members of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce.
Remi’s brother, Saul, became a business partner about seven years ago and oversees operations.
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BUSINESS PROFILE Kaitlin Lott, 2022 FOCUS Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards winner for Best Server, has worked at the restaurant since 2015. She is among the Duke’s Girls who wear the restaurant’s iconic denim shorts, boots, and Duke’s tank.
Duke’s Brewhouse By Cierra Craft
hen you’re dining at Duke’s Brewhouse, only three things matter. Wings. Sports. Spirits. Founded in 2015, Duke’s Brewhouse combines the best of a sports bar, a local eatery to meet up with friends and family, and a live music venue with five locations to serve you: The flagship Plant City store, Brandon, Lakeland, Winter Haven and, St. Cloud. The restaurant has partnered with local schools and organizations, such as the Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Plant City High School, Strawberry Crest High School, Moffitt, The Angel Tree Foundation, Plant City Little League organizations, and many others. Duke’s Brewhouse is the perfect place to catch the UFC fight, with monthly pay-per-view events that customers can enjoy for no cover charge. Catch a football or hockey game on one of the restaurant’s 20+ high definition televisions with the NFL Sunday Ticket or hear live local music on weeknights from artists like Lanny Z, Oaklee, and Justin Grimes. “Live music has been a staple at Duke’s Brewhouse since its inception,” said Lanny Ziegel, artist, and Duke’s Brewhouse Entertainment Director. “We continually strive to bring in exciting talent….Quality entertainment with a hometown flair.”
Bayou Chicken Pasta, is one of Duke’s Specialty menu items, grilled chicken penne pasta tossed in a Cajun cream sauce with assorted peppers and tomatoes, fresh garlic and a dash of parsley.
Live music is a cornerstore of Duke’s. Customers can catch a live performance every Friday night, including musicians such as Justin Grimes, pictured.
Bartenders and servers don the restaurant’s iconic plaid top, denim shorts, and cowboy boots, the team at Duke’s Brewhouse aims to offer topnotch service with a down-home flair. A Duke’s Brewhouse bartender or server is an annual contender in the FOCUS Magazine Readers’ Choice Award. 2022 winner Kaitlin Lott has worked at the bar since 2015 and says her favorite menu item is the wings. She recommends either blackened garlic buffalo or medium and garlic parmesan. At Duke’s, customers can have chicken wings their way and choose between traditional or boneless. Flavors like Kickin’ Korean, Sweet Heat, and Garlic Parmesan make some of the over 20 wing sauces available. Dry Rub options are Old Bay, Duke’s Blackened, Mango Habanero, Memphis BBQ, and Lemon Pepper. The menu also includes sandwiches, burgers, and flatbreads. Some customer favorite menu items include the Buffalo Chicken Wrap, fried or grilled buffalo-style chicken tossed in medium sauce, wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla with lettuce, tomatoes and yellow rice with a side of ranch. Another menu favorite is the Highroad Bacon Cheeseburger, a grilled burger topped with BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon, fried onion tanglers, fresh lettuce, and tomato, served on a toasted roll. On Monday, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree, Taco Tuesday is on special with Trivia starting at 7 p.m., and Wednesdays are for Happy Hour Whiskey specials from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with Burgers on special all day. Friday’s are reserved for Fish & Chips. With over 30 craft, import, and domestic beers on the menu, Duke’s Brewhouse is the perfect place to enjoy a cold beer with friends. Duke’s Brewhouse offers brands like Budweiser, Miller Lite, Corona Extra, Coors Light, and Heineken, and the restaurant’s own brews including Duke’s Blonde, Duke’s Brunette, and Duke’s Redhead. Duke’s cocktail menu includes classic drinks such as mojito, old-fashioned, and a bloody mary, as well as fun drinks, including a Blueberry Lemon Drop Martini and a Spiked Strawberry Lemonade. Try the Duke’s Punch, made with Malibu and Captain Morgan, combined with sweet liquors like Blue Curacao and melon mixed with pineapple juice and citrus flavors.
Wings are king at Duke’s Brewhouse with 20 flavor options in both boneless and traditional.
2212 James L Redman Pkwy, | Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-2700 | www.dukesbrewhouse.com Sun-Thurs 11AM-12AM | Fri & Sat 11AM-2AM PAGE
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Highsmith By Jennifer Jordan
If you’ve been watching the Plant City Raider football team for the past three years, then you’ve probably seen number 28 taking charge on the field. Cole Highsmith is the young man who wears the number 28 jersey, and heading into senior year as the captain of the team, he’s shown why he has earned Defensive M.V.P. and twice won Hillsborough County Player of the Week. Linebacker for the team, Cole has been playing football for eight years now, and stated, “Watching football on T.V. with my dad from a young age inspired me to want to play.” Junior year, Cole had an all-conference season with 92 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, seven sacks, six forced fumbles, one interception, and one fumble recovery. Going into his senior year, Cole has already received two college offers so far, with Plant City Raider football head coach Michael Clayton stating, “In my opinion, he will have many more offers to come.” Cole said his dream school is Florida State, but ultimately, he’s striving to play at a Division One school. Cole also ran hurdles for track, even throwing the javelin for a little bit. When asked what inspires him, Cole said, “The quote, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” has stuck with me in my daily life. You have to embrace the process of being great. Whether it’s at practice, in the classroom, or at home, you have to push yourself and love the process.”
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Maker: Victoria Foens, Royal Cookies & Co By Jennifer Jordan
uring the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses were closed and people were told to stay indoors, many used that extra time to read, draw, play games, and try new recipes. However, Victoria Foens, a born and raised Plant Citian, decided to use that time to turn a creative outlet into a fulltime business. Starting Royal Cookies & Co, Victoria was inspired by videos that popped up on her Facebook newsfeed. With lots of practice and time, Victoria said, “I shared my work on social media, and I began noticing interest from friends and family who wanted to order custom cookies. I never planned to grow a business out of this hobby but given the interest, I was able to replace my income with doing something that I am passionate about.” Taking around 10-20 dozen cookie orders each week, Royal Cookies & Co creates designs for birthday parties, corporate events, weddings, bridal and baby showers, gender reveals, graduations, and holidays. Royal Cookies & Co can do small gift sets for various holidays, in addition, to thank you gifts for teachers, doctors, nurses, and even car dealerships. Each dozen has up to six different designs to give a beautiful and unique presentation, and one dozen starts at $48 but can go up according to the size of the cookie and the complexity of the design. Originally just offering vanilla flavored sugar cookies, Victoria stated, “I began adding new flavors to my options. I now also offer strawberry, strawberry shortcake, and lemon. I plan to release a couple of new flavors soon.” Graduating from Strawberry Crest High School and majoring at the University of South Florida in elementary education, Victoria said that art classes were always her favorite, and she took art electives all four years of high school.
Victoria noted, “Since graduating, my love for art has turned into art through baking. I am proud to say I am now a full-time ‘cookier.’” Since Victoria takes her time decorating and there is so much involved in cookie decorating, it can take her anywhere from three to six or more hours to decorate one dozen. When Victoria is not decorating cookies, she loves eating Mexican food and visiting Disney World with her husband Donnie, to who she’s been married since 2016. Victoria said, “I love all things Disney. I even have a small collection of Minnie ears. Some might call me a “Disney Adult”. My favorite place to be is Magic Kingdom and my dream is to visit all of the Disney parks around the world! My favorite ride is Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios. Tiana is my favorite princess because she shows that through hard work and dedication anyone can achieve their biggest dreams.” f you would like to order cookies from Victoria and support her business, Royal Cookies & Co, you can fill out her Order Request Form found on her website, www. royalcookiesco.com. You can also contact her via email at email@example.com or text message at 813-734-4388. Typically, one month’s notice is enough time to request a custom order and guarantee availability. Occasionally, Victoria can fulfill an order in less time, however, she stated, “I always say ‘the sooner, the better’ when it comes to reaching out for orders. I am also typically busier from October-December so receiving advanced notice for orders during that time is appreciated.” For Royal Cookies & Co’s future, Victoria hopes to continue to provide an additional income to her household, expand her cookie offerings, and open a family-run storefront that will offer custom decorated cookies and much more. ‘Baking People Smile’ since 2020, Victoria Foens turned her love of art into a sweet and successful business and is proof that if you have talent, passion, and a strong work ethic, you can have your own version of Royal Cookies & Co.
Faith Travis Settineri By Cheryl Johnston
ew Jersey native Travis Settineri moved to Florida to attend college and then settled in Plant City to establish himself as a barber. After 17 years of cutting hair, he decided to do ministry full-time through his “Worth and Purpose” non-profit. Travis’s other passion is visual arts, and that work includes filming/editing video, painting murals, and graphic design. When time allows, he enjoys making videos, exercising, cooking, and hanging out with homeless people. His wife Amber also paints and helps him in ministry. Travis shared, “I believe the whole point of marriage is to do more for God than you can do by yourself. Amber helps balance me out, keeps me accountable, and helps me plan/stay organized.” Their peaceful Plant City home on two acres of land features murals they’ve painted on every interior wall and a kitchen that looks like a ‘50s diner. To see photos, visit www.TravisDoodles.com. How did you become a barber? It wasn’t intentional. My college roommate asked me to shave his head with beard clippers, so I did that in our dorm’s hallway. Another student walking by asked if I was a barber, and I said yes to make some quick money. As it became a regular thing I got better and became the campus barber. While finishing my degree, I attended barber school so I could cut at a public shop. I decided to cut hair in Plant City and did that for 17 years. What brought you to faith in Jesus? I hit rock bottom in my sophomore year of college, searching for the meaning of life. I didn’t grow up in church, but one night while lying in bed, I prayed and cried out to God to show me He was real. The very next morning a homeless man shared the Gospel and planted a seed in me. A month later, a Christian I knew invited me to a Bible study. I didn’t want to go but for some reason I did. I got saved that night and have never looked back. Your Facebook videos show you sharing encouragement, compassion and money with strangers. What prompted your actions? Life is passing so quickly and I just want to make an impact before I die. Giving random strangers money gets peoples’ attention easily and blesses
them. They are more open to listening. I love helping people and speaking life into them. A conversation with a friend challenged me: “If you’re not a giver while you have a little, you will not be a giver when you have a lot. Money just magnifies who you are.” I can’t take it with me, so I want to give it all away while spreading the love of God. Share a favorite Scripture verse, please. Galatians 6:9 reminds us: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” At the exact time I needed it, I’d heard this verse multiple times in my life from pastors’ preaching, strangers, and random notes. I’ve been through so much and it just stands true every time. Why should folks consider embracing Christianity? Like the Bible says, the peace of God surpasses all understanding. I wish people could feel the peace and joy I have in my life. I promise, It only comes through Jesus. I’ve tried everything else, and He is the only true peace. The world has everything you want, but nothing you need. And to those already Christ-followers? Be bold about the name of Jesus. Don’t fear man. Don’t be stingy with your money. Love people and give radically. People need you to represent your faith and be an example. Tell us about your church’s special appeal. We attend Axios church in Lakeland. I helped plant the church almost two years ago. I help with video/media there. We are multi-cultural, multi-generational. Every color of person. Every type of person. How it should be. Just like Heaven is.... We just want people to know they have worth and purpose through Jesus.
Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens
ome to Fairyland...a world set apart, alive with childhood dreams...an enchanted woodland of elves and fables, of nursery rhymes, and fairy tales. Soft shafts of sunlight filtered by mossdraped oaks strike bright colors from flower-bordered walkways. At each turning, a long remembered page of Mother Goose swings open. The Three Pigs sit secure in their snug brick house...Little Bo Peep searches for her sheep...a spider spins his web above a frightened Miss Muffet...Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall...and the Three Men in a Tub sit just beyond a real Wishing Well! There are many, many, more realistically reproduced in a continuing panorama of myth and imagination. Captivating! If you haven’t figured it out by now I am reminiscing about one of my most favorite places to visit as a small child back in the early 1960’s. I am writing with great affection about Tampa’s very own Fairyland at Lowry Park Zoo and Safety Village. Lowry Park was named in 1925 in honor of Dr. Sumpter L. Lowry, a prominent Florida businessman and insurance company executive. He was a long time member of the Florida National Guard and took part in the organization’s service on the Mexican border in 1916, followed by service in Europe for the First World War, and in the Pacific for the Second World War. Dr. Lowry was also a city commissioner who persuaded the city to purchase property for a public park on the banks of the Hillsborough River near downtown in 1937 and consisted of a small collection of indigenous animals such as raccoons, alligators, and a variety of exotic birds. As the collection grew, the animals were moved to the more centrally located park at Sligh Ave. & North Blvd. in 1957, by Mayor Nick Nuccio, where it was maintained by Tampa’s Park’s Department. In 1960, General Lowry gave the Zoo it’s most prominent animal, Sheena an 18-month-old Asian Elephant. One day in 1960, a man approached General Lowry and asked him to buy an elephant. Lowry asked “Why should I?” The man said “because the children of Tampa have never seen one.” Lowry agreed to buy it, but only on the condition it could be here by Christmas. He asked, “Where is the elephant?” “Well, India.” was the reply. Sheena was the first elephant to fly in a jet. When my sister Karen and I came along back in the early 1960’s our parents were young, new, and energetic. They loved to take us to fun, safe, and educational places. Tampa’s Fairyland at Lowry Park was the perfect place. It was located a short distance from downtown Tampa and was spread over 15 acres of beautifully wooded area on the Hillsborogh River. Admission to the park was free, there was a small charge for some rides in the park and was open seven days a week from 9am to 9pm. That was just perfect for a young couple with two small children. At that time, there was no Walt Disney World, Sea World, or LegoLand, or even the thought of something like that. My parents along with my grandparents on my mother’s side actually took my sister Karen to Lowry Park back in 1960. Karen was just a toddler at that time, but she was one of the first lucky children to see, touch, and ride Sheena the elephant. My mother still has photographs of my grandfather walking beside
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Sheena, Karen , and the elephant trainer that year. I can remember arriving at Lowry Park with such excitement. The first thing that you would see was the beautiful Rainbow Bridge that adorned the entrance to Fairyland. The bridge itself sparkled a myriad of colors in the sun as you crossed over a pond complete with fountains, fish, and flamingos. Once inside Fairyland a fun time was sure to be had by all. There was a playground complete with slides, swings, and see-saws. There was a real Mississippi stern-wheeler named: The Fairy Queen, that chugged its way up and down the scenic Hillsborough River. There was a 36 hole kiddie putting course. There was an old P2V-2 Navy bomber named: “Fairyland Song Bird” parked on the grounds for airplane enthusiasts. There was a Ferris Wheel for kids and a Ferris Wheel for adults. There were chain link fenced cages that held seals, alligators, bears, goats, and my favorite of them all... the chimpanzees. There was a miniature railroad that wound through the grounds of Fairyland along with its fascinating game reserve and mock African Village complete with thatched houses and tree huts. There were refreshment stands with kid’s level service windows. There was a roller coaster and sprint car go karts, and there was storyland, where nursery rhymes were recreated. I can remember strolling past The Little Old Lady that lived in a shoe that was actually 20 feet high. Humpty Dumpty who was perched on the castle wall and all the King’s men were standing by as he teetered on the edge. Across the lane was the home of the Little Red Hen and nearby, the Three Men in a Tub... the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker... floating in a sea filled with goldfish. Live Wooly Lambs lived in the front yard of Mary’s Little Red Schoolhouse. Peter Rabbit lived in a stump under toadstools four feet high and Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet as a big spider tried to frighten her away. On the drawbridge to the Castle, Goosey Gander stood guard while Rapunzel leaned out, hoping to be rescued. I remember how my sister and I were super excited to walk up to and enter the mouth of Willie the Whale who had a giant tank of tropical fish in his tummy. I can also remember waiting in line to take a drink of water from the water fountain that was inside a Pelican’s open mouth. My mother always dressed my sister and I in matching sun suits, lacy socks, hair ribbons, and cat eyed sunglasses for our trips to Lowry Park because back in those days, if you were going to Lowry Park, Fairyland, and Safety Village...you were going somewhere!!! In fact, my father filmed us with his 8mm movie camera several times because it was so much fun for our family and was so cutting edge for the time. I also will never forget going on a field trip with my Kindergarten class to Tampa’s Safety Village U.S.A.
The kiddie-size town was designed to train pre-school, first, and second grade children in traffic, home, personal, and fire safety habits. It was a complete city with sidewalks, paved streets, working street lights, along with buildings that included a hospital, a school, and a fire station. Safety Village U.S.A. was the City of Tampa’s 1965 Christmas present to the children of Tampa, was located right next to Fairyland, and was named: “The World’s Largest FREE Safety School for children. As they say: “Time changes things!” Some 50 plus years have passed since my trip to Safety Village U.S.A. and I am sad to say that the beautiful Rainbow Bridge that sparkled a myriad of colors in the sun was torn down back in 1988 by the City Parks Department due to safety concerns. The land that my sister and I strolled through known as Fairyland was demolished, and is now the Florida Environmental Education Center (or Zoo School) which services: children, teachers, and parents with environmental education programs year round. (Now that is a good thing!) Safety Village U.S.A. is also no more. There is now a bronze elephant statue located at the entrance of the Asian domain within the zoo, and is intended to serve as a memorial to Baby Sheena , the elephant that was donated to the zoo back in 1960 by Gen. Sumter L. Lowry as a gift to the children of Tampa. Sheena died in January of 1986 in an African Lion Safari in Canada where she was sent to wait out the zoo renovations. The bronze elephant was installed as a visual remembrance of her in 1987. I give my heartfelt thanks to my parents, to the City of Tampa, to former Mayor Nick Nuccio, and to Gen. Sumter L. Lowry for their love of children and for happy childhood memories of Lowry Park, Fairyland, and Safety Village U.S.A. that will never ever be forgotten.
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UNCLE G’S BED & BISCUIT
1821 Stephens Ln, Dover, FL 33527 Phone: (813) 689-6725 | unclegsbedandbiscuit.com PAGE
Commercial Insurances: Aetna • Avmed • Blue Cross Blue Shield Cigna • Humana • MultiPlan • United Health Care Medicaid: Humana Medicaid • Simply Healthcare United Health Care Medicaid • Sunshine Health
Have A Safe And Happy Summer! 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.
Trivia Night @ Krazy Kup
June 20 - June 24 Teen Stay & Make 10:00AM-7:00PM Monday-Thursday; 10:00AM-6:00PM Friday Origami Shark Bookmark | Grades 6-12 | Kits Provided While Supplies Last Bruton Memorial Library @ 302 W. McLendon St Cost: Free Info: 813-757-9215
Last Friday in DowntownSweet on Summer
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in June and July Food Truck Nights 4:00PM-10:00PM on Fridays and Saturdays; 4:00PM-8:00PM Sundays Unique Food Trucks | Support Downtown Businesses | Fun for Friends and Dates Corner of S. Evers St & Dr. MLK Jr Blvd (Downtown Plant City) Cost: Free Parking/ Admission Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
2022 Juneteenth Parade 11:00AM Parade | Food & Drinks | Vendors Parade Begins @ W. Renfro St & Wheeler St and Ends @ Ronald L. Snowden Park Cost: Free Event Info: 813-441-4851 or www.1wilsonfoundation.com
Strawberry Classic Cruise-In
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
Comics & Cocktails 11:00AM-5:00PM Meet Elite Comic Collection Experts | Beer, Wine, & Cider | Must Register at www. EventBrite/PCComics.com Keel & Curley Winery @ 5202 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free General Admission Info: 813-752-9100; Eric @ 813-481-8700 for VIP and Vendor Inquires Only
Mahjong 1:00PM-3:00PM Adult Program | Beginners & Beyond Welcome | Mary Noel Moody Community Meeting Room Bruton Memorial Library @ 302 W. McLendon St Cost: Free Info: 813-757-9215
Creations from the Soul 6:00PM-12:00AM Learn About Small & Local Businesses | Clothing | Jewelry | Musicians |Health & Nutrition | Beer & Wine The Tipsy Bookworm @ 115 S. Evers St Cost: Free Event Info: Clean Entity @ 863-289-5124
Juneteenth Celebration | Step-Show M.C. & VIP Internet Sensation “Officer Brown” Chy Marron Ent. | “The Gathering” Plant City High School @ 1 Raider Pl Cost: $20/ Adult; $10/Youth; Free for Children 5 and Under Info: 813-441-4851 or www.1wilsonfoundation.com PAGE
Open Mic Night 7:00PM-8:33PM Performers 13 & Up | Share Your Talents Food & Drinks Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J Arden Mays Blvd Cost: Free Event Info: 813-752-1220
Harry Potter Trivia Night 6:30PM-8:30PM All Ages Event | Harry Potter Attire Encouraged | Prizes | Butterbeer Cider Keel and Curley Winery @ 5202 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Trivia Info: 813-752-9100
Wednesdays Beginning July 13 and Ending August 17 Plant City Garden Club Floral Design Classes 10:00AM-2:00PM Instructed by Flower Show Judges | Materials Provided for the First Three Classes Bring a Bag Lunch |Open to Public Registration Required First United Methodist Church @ 303 N. Evers St Cost: $25 per Individual Class; $100 for All Six Classes Info: For Registration Form, Contact Jan Griffin @ email@example.com or 813-716-6691
July 1, 8, & 15 (Fridays in July)
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
2022 Juneteenth Greek Step Show
7:00PM-8:33PM Trivia with Teams up to 4 People | Prizes Food & Beverages Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J Arden Mays Blvd Cost: $5 per Team Info: 813-752-1220 Charlotte’s Web Fridays, Satrudays, and Sundays From July 8-24 8:00PM Fridays & Saturdays; 2:00PM Sundays Plant City Entertainment | Based on the Book by E.B. White 101 N. Thomas St Cost: Tickets on Sale 5/30 Info: 813-752-0728
July 4th Celebration 6:00PM-9:30PM Fireworks Show | Food & Craft Vendors | Family-Friendly | 50-50 Raffle | Live Music | Kids Activities Plant City Stadium @ 1810 E. Park Rd Cost: Parking: $5; Admission: Free Info: 813-659-4255
MIN 2022 NO
BEST OUTDOOR PEST CONTROL
a Gallery of Plant City
2022 WORLD OF IMAGINATION VPK GRADUATION
In the season of graduation, World of Imagination recognized its Class of 2022 VPK students with a parade of graduates. Each vehicle was decorated in the drive-by ceremony, the student’s names were called and Worlds of Imagination staff presented a certificate, a beach pail of toys and showered the graduate with confetti. Then, the grads and their families were invited for a parking lot party with photo-ops, cupcakes, and Kona Ice.
a. Parents decorated their vehicles with balloons, signs, and banners to commemorate the occasion. Each graduates name was called through the drive by parade. b. Each graduate was presented with a framed certificate, a sand pail with toys, and a confetti shower to commemorate their achievement. c. The graduates were excited to get photos with their VPK teachers during this end-of-the-year celebration. Parents were at the ready with smartphones in hand to document these milestones. d. After the drive-by graduations, the graduates were treated with Kona Ice during a parking lot party. e. The Kona Ice truck gave each child a cup of shaved ice and let them pick their own flavor, including a mystery flavor, Tiger Blood, Pina Colada, and Blue Raspberry, among others.
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: SouthFloridaBaptistSurgery.org