FOCUS Plant City 22-07

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5 PAGE 3702 W Baker St Plant City, FL 33563 Open Wednesday to Sunday. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays SYRUP FRESH PineappleDoleWhip PineappleWithTajin IceCream Sandwiches SHAKES PEACHES WE WILL BE CLOSED starting July 23 thru August 15th and Reopening August 16th.

Table of Contents



FOCUS presents its annual Real Estate Rockstars in this special advertising section. Meet the Realtors buying and selling Plant City.



Living in a historic district has its benefits. Explore the historical residential districts in downtown and the architecture of these structures.



Dale Ling leads the growing team at Ling Realty. Meet Dale and the team as they give a forecast of the market.



Issue 22-07 / July 2023


Mike Floyd


Cierra Craft


Anthony Sassano


Candy Owens


Tony DeVane


Cheryl Johnston


Candy Owens Natalie Sweet

Sam Poirier Dr. Chap. Dan Middlebrooks

Got a story idea? Looking to advertise in Focus? Contact us for more information.

Floyd Publications, Inc. 702 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd. Plant City, FL 33563 Office 813.707.8783

Standards of accuracy: The goal of the writers at FOCUS Magazine is to provide heart-warming stories that are accurate from the start. Being human, however, we sometimes make mistakes. Please forgive us.

So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and inform it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 707-8783 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.



For 34 years, the Sanchez family has been manufacturing delicious, all natural frozen ice pops in Plant City. It was started by Remi II and Margarita Sanchez on Hwy 92 in 1989 as an artisanal ice pop shop selling through street vendors. Several years later Remi III joined the company at 19 as GM. It wasn’t long before the company began to expand sales beyond the shop and street vending into retail stores. Remi III continued in the following years earning the business of ice cream distributors around Florida and other parts of the country.

In 1997, the company expanded into an industrial facility near the Plant City airport to accommodate increased sales. An automated ice pop machine was introduced into the facility with a production capacity of 40,000 pops per shift.

Saul soon joined the family company as well after achieving his mechanical engineering degree and as a family unit the business further expanded. Saul’s role as VP of operations became great asset to this expansion. Today, Ice Pop Factory manufactures for many artisanal all natural ice pop brands in many of the major supermarkets across the U.S. There are many new projects that are presented frequently with the


latest taken on this year being the new Minion pops project for Universal Studios Orlando. Customers can enjoy Ice Pop Factory produced and Minion themed super premium ice pops at the new Freeze Ray Pop Shop.

As a compliment to Ice Pop Factory, the company Ice Pop Equipment, Inc. was established in 2017 to sell ice pop, ice cream and packaging equipment to small start up ice pop shops around the U.S. Some of these customers have great success with their pops and ultimately have their brand mass produced by Ice Pop Factory for the big retailers. This year UF senior Remi IV joined the family business in establishing the company Fresh Pops. The focus of the company is establishing premium ice pop shops at major universities with the first opening in Gainesville next to the Gators stadium. The shops will offer all natural premium ice pops, ice cream and affogatos. Remi III and IV have designed the shops to include a relaxing seating area where customers can work or study from their laptops.

Family Legacy


When brainstorming what to write for my Publisher’s Letter, I began thinking about the places I have lived. I grew up in Tampa and went to Chamberlain High School. Last month, I went to my 30 year high school reunion and it was great to reconnect with people I haven’t seen since graduation. We were all young, energetic and ready to take on the world.

After high school, I got married and moved to Plant City and I’ve called Plant City home since then. I’ve lived in small homes, rentals, and a few years ago, purchased a home in Walden Lake as I continue to raise my youngest son. I thought about all of the real estate transactions and realtors I’ve met; I am blessed to call Plant City home and our local realtors are rockstars! Meet some of the top agents in a special advertising section enclosed.

Over the past year, the Plant City market has changed with home prices up 12.9% compared to last year, with a median selling price of $336,000, according to Rocket Mortgage. The site reports that while inventory is still low, homes are on the market about 30 days compared to 2022 with homes on the market for about 22 days. Ling Realty, led by Dale Ling, sat down with editor Cierra Craft to dive deeper into these numbers and the challenges the industry faces.

FOCUS is proud to present its annual Home & Real Estate issue where we showcase primarily real estate agents, real estate teams and brokers, as well as home pros. In this issue, we take a look at the beautiful homes in the Historic District and the craftsmanship of homes over 120 years old is second to none.

Finally, if you live in one of our home delivery areas, your issue also includes a Home Service Guide insert. Please use this insert as your guide to top roofers, pest control, and other home professionals. On the cover, meet Roger Villanueva and Nate Blankenship of Termi-Nate Pest Management. The men talk about integrity, customer service, and problem pests.

Have story tips? Our phone line is always open 813-707-8783 or email Cierra Craft at

Warmest Regards,

10 PAGE PUBLISHER From The Publisher

Pam Warnock retires from The Bank of Tampa

Pam Warnock, Senior Vice President and Private Relationships Manager of The Bank of Tampa Plant City branch, celebrated her retirement on June 29. Her husband, Tommy, colleagues, friends, and others joined Warnock for a luncheon in the branch’s boardroom.

Warnock began her banking career in college, working part-time on the switchboard at First Florida and working her way up. She took time off when she and Tommy lived in Texas, but when the bank heard Warnock was moving back to the area, they called her and asked her to work for the bank again. So, she did, and the rest is history. Warnock was part of the team that opened Hillsboro Bank in 1998. She was featured on the cover of FOCUS in 2008 with Gary Boothe when Hillsboro Bank celebrated its 10-year anniversary. In 2021, Hillsboro Bank merged with The Bank of Tampa, and Warnock was among the bank leadership to lead the newly acquired Plant City branch.

Warnock will stay busy in her retirement as a director of the Florida Strawberry Festival, attending church at the First Baptist Church of Plant City, spending time with her family, shopping, and reading.

Happy Retirement to Pam Warnock; thank you for 25 years of service to the Plant City community.

THIS MONTH, FOCUS MAGAZINE WILL PAY TRIBUTE TO OUR FRIEND LISA ROMANO WHO GAINED HER WINGS. SHE WILL BE MISSED. Lisa (Dickson) Romano, 60, passed away peacefully on July 8, 2023, with her family lovingly by her side.

Born on February 18, 1963, in Rochester, New York, she was the daughter of Charles and Florence Dickson. She grew up in Rochester with her brother, Joseph. She graduated from Eastridge Senior High School in 1981, and on August 14, 1982, she married Sam Romano. They were blessed with three boys: Sam, Steven, and Christopher. Lisa treasured every moment with Sam and the boys; those memories were proudly displayed in photos throughout their home. She loved her family dearly, and they were the light of her life. Lisa was passionate about making her house a home, meeting new friends, listening to and singing music, going to concerts, cooking for and hosting family gatherings, and dancing, all of which she did throughout her life. She cherished time spent with her girlfriends and was a friend to everyone she met. Lisa was always authentic and selfless in her pursuit of helping others. She was a beautiful person inside and out; few met Lisa without feeling the spirit she emitted. She will be greatly missed until we are reunited with her. Lisa is survived by her husband, Sam, of 41 years; three sons, Sam (Alex), Steven, and Christopher; brother Joseph (Gladys); mother, Florence (Don); eleven nieces and nephews; and many more extended family members and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her father in 1996. In lieu of flowers, she requested that donations be made in her name to Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital or your favorite charity. IF YOU KNOW

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)



GFWC Forming New Juniorettes Club in Plant City

The very successful General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) and GFWC FL Plant City Junior Woman’s Club members are excited about launching a Juniorette Club for girls in grades 6-12.

It all began with a conversation between Betty Medina, President of the GFWC FL Plant City Juniors Woman’s Club and GFWC FL Woman’s Club of Plant City member Karen Griggsby, who chairs the Civic Engagement and Outreach Committee. They had worked together on several GFWC FL committees and felt the timing was right for a Juniorette Club. So did Jessica Worthen, GFWC Plant City Junior Woman’s Club treasurer, who wanted her two daughters to be a part of the GFWC FL experience.

At the first meeting to determine local interest, eight young ladies decided to get involved as Juniorettes. Membership requires that they commit to three meetings a year, are willing to serve in their local communities, and will become

involved in a committee for one of the Community Service Projects.

Presently there are five committees the young ladies can join: Civic Engagement & Outreach, Environment, Arts & Culture, Health & Wellness, Education & Libraries.

Successful Juniorette Clubs already active nearby are located in Land O’ Lakes, Lutz, New Tampa and Temple Terrace.

Griggsby explained further: “Here in Plant City, we try to develop interesting and creative events that are fun, educational, and benefit our community. We want everyone to enjoy events that bring us all together to celebrate worthy causes that benefit from our fundraisers.”

She continued, “There was lots of interaction with attendees at our first very successful informational meeting! Eight young ladies signed up and we are confident more will join us. The goal is also to be a multi-cultural group, so please spread the word to young ladies you know in

grades 6-12 who would like to make a difference in the Plant City community!”

Interested young woman should send an e-mail to one of the following local GFWC FL leaders in Plant City:

Karen Griggsby –

Betty Medina –

Jessica Worthen –

For those unfamiliar with GFWC, the federation established in 1890 now has over 3,000 women’s clubs in the United States. Clubs promote civic improvements through volunteer service. Many activities and projects are done independently by local clubs through their communities or GFWC’s national partnerships. Presently, more than 70,000 women are members throughout the U.S. and internationally. Today, with headquarters located in Washington, D.C., the GFWC remains one of the world’s largest and oldest nonpartisan, nondenominational, women’s volunteer service organizations.




Walden Lake REVIEW

Walden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held on 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 meeting is on August 21st. 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 on Zoom.

The recent market at Walden Lake was a huge success, and residents are looking forward to more of this type of event.

The food trucks at the HOA Building/Sports Complex are on the second Friday and last Sunday of each month. If you have not taken advantage of the delicious offerings, give them a try! Watch for more information from emails coming from the HOA, the entrance boards, and Nextdoor for updated information.

During the month of June, there were 8 sales in Walden Lake and one sale in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $430,167 with an average of 1870 square feet, an average of $231 per square foot, and was on the market for an average of 11 days.

The June Sales are as follows:

Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Garage / Pool

101 Capri Court South / $269,000 / 1329 / 2 Car / Community

Summer Events at Bruton Memorial Library

Plant City’s Bruton Memorial Library has weekly events scheduled for the remainder of the summer for all ages. Don’t miss these free upcoming events:

Musical Storytime | Tuesdays Weekly | 10:30AM | 30 mins of interactive stories, music, and movement for ages 2 to 5.

Chalk the Block with Kindness | Fridays Weekly | Noon | Fill the sidewalks around the library with kind words. Chalk provided.

Yoga & Tai Chi | Wednesday Weekly | Noon | Find your center with this calming session of Tai Chi, Yoga, and Meditation, hosted by Florida Meditation Center.

Beginner Ukulele | Mondays Weekly | 5PM | Ages 9+, ukuleles provided on a first come first served basis.

1455 Walden Oaks Place / $325,000 / 1303 / 2 Car / Private 4203 Barret Avenue / $335,000 / 1514 / 2 Car / Private

1101 Sandalwood Drive / $415,000 / 1911 / 2 Car / Community 3218 Kilmer Drive / $465,000 / 1856 / 2 Car / Private 1704 Brookstone Way / $475,000 / 1808 / 2 Car / Private 3231 Alcott Avenue / $495,000 / 2045 / 2 Car / Private 2706 Laurel Oak Drive / $517,500 / 2229 / 2 Car / Private 2904 Clubhouse Drive / $575,000 / 2833 / 3 Car / Private

Currently, 16 active listings are for sale in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East—the average list price of $473,525 and an average of 62 days on the market. There are 15 properties Pending Contract in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East with an average list price of $464,355 and an average of 21 days on the market. For more information on these properties, feel free to give me a call at 813-7589586.

This is still a great time to sell your home. 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 who can 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. or 813758-9586.


Hurricane Preparedness + Back to School Tips with PCPD

Last month, Plant City Police Department’s Public Information Officer Captain Alfred Van Duyne provided the community with some tips for summer safety. As we navigate the July/August issue, PCPD would like to highlight Hurricane Preparedness as most tropical activity occurs between mid-August and mid-October.

“If you haven’t already, begin gathering the essentials to a Hurricane Preparedness Kit, such as medications, water, First Aid essentially, nonperishable foods, batteries and flashlights, pet supplies, and waterproof storage for important documents such as wills, passports, and other personal documents,” said Capt. Van Duyne. “It’s better to plan ahead and have these items on hand, rather than wait until the storm’s on its way and items are flying off the shelves.”

Additionally, Plant City residents should know their evacuation routes and develop an evacuation plan, purchase a generator, and fuel up vehicles in the days before a storm hits. If you haven’t already, review and update your insurance policies for your home, vehicles, boats, and RVs. It’s also important to watch the Tropics and learn about the alerts: A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible for an area, whereas a Hurricane Warning is more serious, meaning hurricane conditions are expected for the area.

Plant City kids go back to school on August 10, Plant City Police Department has tips for Back-to-School safety:

“If you are behind a school bus or next to the bus, you must stop for

the bus’s flashing lights and arm and remain stopped until the equipment is off and the bus starts moving,” said Capt. Van Duyne. “You do not have to stop for a bus if there is a barrier, such as raised or grass median, between the lanes of traffic.”

School buses are required to stop at train crossings, coming to a complete stop, open their door and look down the track to ensure a train is not coming. Once you see school buses back on the road, remember that buses must stop. Capt. Van Duyne says there is a slight increase in crashes in Tampa Bay each year around August and September until people remember they have to share the road with buses. It is essential you must maintain a safe following distance.

Be cognizant of speeding and cell phone use in a school zone. School zones within the area are clearly marked with signage and flashing lights. Van Duyne says unlike other provisions of the cell phone law, cell phone use within a school zone in a handheld manner is strictly prohibited within a school zone.

When school is in session, be mindful of the crossing guards and obey the crossing guard’s instructions in order to ensure all child pedestrians are safe. If citizens should witness drivers violating crossing guard’s instructions, please call the non-emergency number at 813-7579200 and report a description of the vehicle. Officers can visit the school the following days and monitor traffic and ticket violators.

At the Plant City Playhouse
19 PAGE CHRISTOPHER MAZZOLA Tires Plus National TV Commercial. LOGAN VAN DYKE Up and coming movie actor just landed a major TV commercial. We’re so proud of you Logan! Keep up the great work. INGRID BERTOCCHI JAYDEN MIMIKOS CALI RIVAS CARLA JOHNSON You see them in Movies, T.V. Commercials and in Magazines! Disney Visit Orlando TV Commercial Animal Kingdom TV Commercial Principal Role. Cali Rivas and her family just booked a National TV Commercial for a Major Entertainment Amusement Park! Great Job the Rivas Family! Publix Training Film and Print Ad. Principal Role. $375.00 A Day. Disney World TV Commercial and Print Ad. Principal Role. CALL FOR AN APPOINTMENT TODAY! They’re the JESS ANDERSON MODELS! All ages & types needed • No experience necessary • Free training 863-688-9939 OUR NEW ADDRESS: 809 EAST PALMETTO STREET • LAKELAND, FL 33801 Established For 43 Years LIC#1290000013 Jess Anderson index pg OCT22 take2.indd 1 9/10/2022 7:31:41 AM 813-966-4304 SUMMER TIME IS FUN TIME! BEST REAL ESTATE OFFICE 2023 NOMINEE Stunning Jack Bartlett Custom Estate Home located in the private gated community of Hawk Creek. This Elegant estate features Four Bedrooms with an o ce/den, Three and one half baths, 1200 sq foot lanai,outdoor kitchen, salt water pool on 1 acre lot $1.7 million. DON’T WAIT ON A BUILDER! West Bays Key West Plan 3 YEAR OLD pool home Stunning, classy and ready for summer. $978,900 Beautifully Updated and Move-in Ready 4 bedroom 2 bath 2 car garage in Brentwood Hills. $425,000 4 bedroom 3 bath 3 car garage in Forest Park/ Walden lake with gorgeous curb appeal and upgraded landscaping. $449,900

People of Plant City

Joyce Scarborough Fornero

Vivacious, energetic and young-at-heart, Plant City loving Joyce Fornero has never met a stranger. “I simple enjoy meeting new friends and hearing their stories and experiences,” she explains. “I also enjoy helping children feel positive about themselves, so I look for ways to encourage them with words.”

Born in New York City to a Puerto Rican mother and Irish-English “Georgia Cracker” father,, she moved at age five to Tampa when they needed work. Although she didn’t speak English, she learned quickly during her years at Oak Park Elementary, Franklin Junior High and King High School. At age 18, she married Roger Fornero, who served in the USAF in the Red Zone (Thailand border) during the Vietnam War. They were married 44 years before his death in 2012.

Tell us how you came to live in the Winter Strawberry Capitol.

“I’ll always remember being fascinated by this town from my first visit as a KHS Lionette when we marched in the Florida Strawberry Festival Parade. The sun was shining bright, the town was charming, and the people were so friendly. And I thought, ‘I want to live here one day.” Roger and I bought our home in Doreen Terrace in 1989 after our two children, Casie and John, finished school in Texas.

You have a variety of skills and talents. Can you share a few?

Sure, I have long been involved in sports, coaching children and adults for more than 50 years – for example, dragon boat racing, co-ed and women’s softball, and Buddy Baseball for special needs children. I’ve served as an umpire and dance instructor, too. Our Y-Not Dance Team performed at the Strawberry Festival and other venues. With my career in cosmetology, and I owned the Professional Hair Designs salon for men and women in Arlington. Today, I have a small salon in my home so I can see friends. I love yardwork and helping with anything needed at Plant City Church of God, helping my neighbors, and helping anyone I know when I learn of a need. I’m blessed with lots of energy and good health, so I try to use those blessings wisely.

You’re a fan of the Strawberry Festival, too, right?

“Yes, I served with the Security Team a few years and then with Randy and Jill Scott at the entertainment tent where Dennis Lee performed. I’ve also done security work at Tampa Stadium for games and concerts. But honestly, I just love Plant City – it’s so special and unique. I call it ‘God’s little secret.’”

You’ve suffered a recent loss. How has that impacted your life?

“No parent wants to lose a child and I lost my beautiful daughter Casie to cancer this year. She was a beloved, highly-regarded schoolteacher in Pasco County. Along with my husband Roger’s death, hers has made me see how important it is to be kind and generous with everyone God places in your path. I would tell every adult, ‘Live every day like it’s your last. Do things you love and love one another.’”

What advice would you offer our young people?

“Focus on the positives, not on the difficult times. We all have struggles, which definitely grow us in wisdom from experience. One day you’ll use yours to encourage others. Work hard, no matter the task. Also, surround yourself with good friends and find an adult mentor who’s willing to invest time into your life.


To thank you for these incredible 20 years, we are celebrating with a 'Cheers to 20 Years' sweeps! One lucky winner will win a trip for two to Napa Valley! This includes flight, hotel, and a wine tasting!

Win a trip for two to Napa Valley! ENTE R T O WIN W i n n e r s w i l l b e a n n o u n c e d o n A u g u s t 1 1 , 2 0 2 3 No purchase necessary to win, all terms and conditions on
23 PAGE Ray Gutierrez, DMD - General Dentist 512 E. Alexander Street | Plant City, FL 33563 CALL TODAY! 813.305.1382 (Reg. $6,810) Offer expires in 90 days. Includes retainers. Subject to clinical eligibility and Dr.’s discretion. One or more of the following ADA codes may reflect the treatment rendered under this offer. D8660, D8030, D8040, D8080, D8090, D8680. Offer cannot be applied toward account balances or dental services already delivered or in conjunction with other offers, discounts or reduced-fee plans. | 040622 $500 O F F Invisalign® Treatment Cleaning, Exam & X-rays $99 (Reg. $305) Offer expires in 90 days. New Patients Only. Includes exam, cleaning (prophylaxis) & x-rays. Advertised fee is the minimum fee. Subject to clinical eligibility and Dr.’s discretion. One or more of the following ADA codes may reflect the treatment rendered under this offer. D0150, D0330, D0272, D0210, D1110. Offer cannot be applied toward account balances or dental services already delivered or in conjunction with other offers, discounts or reduced-fee plans. | 040622 -ORIT IS OUR OFFICE POLICY THAT THE PATIENT AND ANY OTHER PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT HAS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PAY, CANCEL PAYMENT OR BE REIMBURSED FOR PAYMENT FOR ANY OTHER SERVICE, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT WHICH IS PERFORMED AS A RESULT OF AND WITHIN 72 HOURS OF RESPONDING TO THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE FREE, DISCOUNTED-FEE OR REDUCED-FEE SERVICE, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT. DN18996. Invisalign®, the Invisalign logo, and iTero®, among others, are trademarks and/ or service marks of Align Technology, Inc. or one of its subsidiaries or affiliated companies and may be registered in the U.S. and/or other countries. Gentle, Professional Cleanings Comprehensive Exams Advanced Oral Cancer Screenings Teeth Whitening Wisdom Tooth Extractions Extractions Root Canal erapy Mouth/Night Guards Crowns & Bridges Lumineers Veneers Invisalign ® Treatment Dental Implants COMPREHENSIVE CARE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY: ADV58030KS 2023NOMINEE BEST DENTAL PRACTICE

Know? Did You

Equality of Service: The Desegregation of the U.S. Military

As we come off the celebration of Independence Day, we take this opportunity to examine a major achievement within the American Armed Forces that was initiated 75 years ago. On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which mandated the desegregation of the U. S. military. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Along with the order, seven men – two of whom were African American – were appointed to the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services (also known as the Fahy Committee, for its chairman Charles Fahy). According to the report written by the Fahy Committee, “In addition to the factor of equality of treatment and opportunity was the factor of military efficiency, the making of a better armed service”. The Committee reviewed procedures for the Navy, the Air Force, and the Army and found that military policy was often dictated by civilian sentiment and social practices of the time. Yet, branches – such as the Air Force – ignored local segregation laws in the Jim Crow South and operated integrated accommodations and other facilities on their bases for soldiers and their families. It was revealed that African American recruits, particularly within the Army, were denied training and education that would improve skills. In addition, the Army employed a 10% limitation on African American enlistment, further denying opportunities to jobs for qualified professionals and generally hindering the efficacy of the Army itself. The Committee found that segregation impaired the effectiveness of military services and resulted in overall inefficiency.

By 1949, the Air Force became the first fully integrated branch while the Army did not completely dissolve its segregated units until 1954. Despite active resistance by high-ranking officials,

integration was accelerated with the onset of the Korean War in 1950 as white combat units faced difficulties acquiring new recruits after suffering heavy casualties. After 85 years of dedicated service, 1951 brought the deactivation of the 24th Infantry, the last remaining segregated Buffalo Soldier regiment. Eventually, the Army abolished its enlistment cap for African Americans and jobs became available based on qualifications and merit rather than race. In the wake of the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953, the Army stated that 95% of African American soldiers were serving within integrated units.

Thank you to the courageous individuals who fought for liberty, despite threats to their own wellbeing, both at home and abroad. We also take this moment to honor those who served in the Korean War over 70 years ago. Stop by the Plant City Photo Archives, located at 106 S. Evers St, to discover more about our local veterans. If you would like to share your photos and history, or volunteer with the Archives, please email info@plantcityphotoarchives. org or call the office at 813.754.1578.


Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives

Freedom to Serve: Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, A Report by The President’s Committee, United States Government Printing Office Washington, 1950

“Executive Order 9981, Desegregating the Military”, National Parks Service, 2022

“Desegregation of the Armed Forces”, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

Dr. Scotty & Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives, Inc.

Brownlee Group The

including Certified Distressed Property Expert and E-PRO, which he uses to help market properties. He loves the challenge of identifying solutions to problems in complex transactions and enjoys exploring ways to meet and exceed expectations.

In a face paced world and one of diminishing customer service, The Brownlee Group goes above and beyond for clients. When you call The Brownlee Group, you’re not greeted by an automated answering service. The Brownlee Group believes every client is family and deserves their best service.

Kelly Hahn said the team is not just here to buy and sell homes. They’re invested in the client’s real estate transactions for the long haul.

Choosing a good Realtor is extremely important in maximizing your home buying or selling experience. The Realtor will represent you and your needs during the transaction; the choice can be daunting. Why choose one realtor when you can have a team of professionals manage your sale or purchase?

The Brownlee Group of Keller Williams Realty of Suburban Tampa makes the transaction as smooth and worry-free as possible. Ken Brownlee is a fierce negotiator specializing in residential, short sales, first-time homebuyers, and many more. Listing & Buyer Specialists Tammi

Sidwell, Joseph Wright, Amanda Gilley, and Closing Manager Kelly Hahn join Brownlee in serving Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, and Manatee counties.

“With a powerhouse team working right beside me, we get top dollar for our sellers and the lowest price possible for our buyers,” said Brownlee. “We promise to you that we will always negotiate and find creative ways to meet your needs.

In the late 1980s, Brownlee was exposed to real estate on the investment side while pursuing his career in insurance and financial planning. This exposure led him to pursue real estate full-time. Brownlee has acquired specialized designations,

“We are not just here to buy or sell their homes; we offer them different resources like property management on their investments,” said Hahn. “We know many vendors to help them with home repair or remodels. Being in the business and networking, we often ‘know a guy’.”

Hahn continues, adding that the team works with buyers and sellers to help clients into the investment side of real estate and make a passive income from their property.

“We follow up after the transaction and make sure everyone is happy; we are their realtor for life,” said Hahn. “I would like to bet that most people cannot remember the Realtor that helped them or even felt like the agent was nowhere to be found after the check’s cleared. The Brownlee Group will never leave anyone behind.”

27 PAGE THIS IS A PAID ADVERTORIAL The Brownlee Group | Keller Williams Realty Suburban Tampa | 2350 E State Rd 60 Ste. 713, | Valrico, FL 33594 | (813) 413-4229
28 PAGE Trinkle Redman, P.A. Attorneys at Law *The hiring of a Lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide,ask the lawyer to send you free written information about their qualifications & experience. 121 North Collins Street Plant City, FL 33563 • 813-752-6133 Corporate & Business Law • Incorporations, Partnerships & LLC”s • Acquisitions, Sales & Mergers Estate Planning & Probate • Will & Trust Drafting • Probate & Administration of Estates Real Estate • Commercial & Residential Closings • Title Insurance • Development, Planning & Zoning • Foreclosures • Landlord -Tenant Litigation & Lawsuits • Commercial Litigation & Collections • Real Estate • Property Damage • Probate 2023 WINNER


M A K E T H E I M P O S S I B L E , P O S S I B L E !

P R O G R A M H I G H L I G H T S :

F I R S T T I M E H O M E B U Y E R S , V E T E R A N S

F I R S T T I M E H O M E B U Y E R S , V E T E R A N S

& A C T I V E D U T Y M I L I T A R Y ! & A C T I V E D U T Y M I L I T A R Y !

A s s i s t a n c e i s 5 % o f t h e l o a n a m o u n t u p t o $ 3 5 k

A n y j o b i s a c c e p t a b l e , p r o v i d e d a t l e a s t o n e b o r r o w e r :

W o r k s f u l l - t i m e ( d e f i n e d a s 3 5 h o u r s a w e e k o r m o r e ) a t a

b r i c k - a n d - m o r t a r l o c a t i o n i n F l o r i d a o r r e m o t e f o r a F l o r i d a

b a s e d c o m p a n y

6 4 0 + c r e d i t s c o r e r e q u i r e m e n t

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Living in Historic Plant City

Plant City has three historic districts: Plant City’s Northeast Residential District, Downtown Plant City Commercial Historic District, and Downtown Plant City Historic District.

According to the Plant City Historic District Design Standards, “Plant City’s unique historical fabric and architectural flavor have had many influences, from the early pioneers to the present-day settlers.” Many homes feature themes from the early twentieth century and come in various styles.

This feature explores those architectural styles and explores the question: Why should people live in Plant City’s historic districts?

Living in a historic district isn’t for everyone, and it’s estimated that 1% of Plant City residents live in the historic districts. But, living in a historic district has its benefits:

Walkability to the downtown core often draws people into historic neighborhoods. As cities spread over time, the older homes are centered around the downtown core. Plant City’s residential historic districts are walkable and bikeable to the historic commercial district.

Across dozens of studies, homes in historic districts have higher appreciation rates. Potential drivers of higher home prices are the guarantee that homes will largely remain unchanged. Those that are changed must follow the historic design guideline standards outlined by the City of Plant City.

“The goals of these Historic District Design Standards are to provide advice and assistance to property owners, building professionals, and City officials, and to provide Standards for maintaining, rehabilitating, and preserving historic buildings, structures, objects, and appurtenances within Plant City’s architecturally and historically significant historic districts,” states the Plant City Historic District Design Standards

guidelines. “...These Standards are a set of principles, not a set of strictly followed laws.”

Those living or working in the city’s three historic districts cannot make any visual or material changes to a property without first obtaining a “Certificate of Appropriateness” from the Design Review Official or Historical Resources Board. Examples include changing exterior wall material or adding, removing, or covering windows or doors, awning or shutters, transoms or side lights, decorative details, and storm or screen doors. All new construction, relocations, or demolitions must be approved.

Charm and character also draw people to homes in historic districts. Houses in a historic district tend to have more one-of-a-kind features, including architectural details and craftsmanship. Shelby Bender of the Historic Resources Board says there has been a trend to move into historic districts as residents don’t want “cookie-cutter” homes. Homes from Florida’s Land boom of the 1920s and post-war 1950s are often unembellished.

Bender also points out the charm extends into the streets and its features:

“In our historic district, you see brick streets, granite curbs, large oak and magnolia trees, front porches, and large lawns.”

Historic districts tend to have less home ownership turnover and a more significant proportion of residents who have lived in their homes for a decade or longer. This increases civic participation and pride.

Plant City’s two residential historic districts feature several architectural styles spanning decades.

Herring, Wheeler, Palmer, and Tever streets bind Plant City’s Northeast Residential Historic District, listed in the National Register for Historic


Places in May 1993. Just north of the historic commercial downtown, many homes were unaltered and built in the early 1900s, before 1930. Homes in this district are primarily Bungalows, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival, and there are a few Queen Anne homes in this district.

The Downtown Plant City Historic Residential District is bound by Drane, Franklin, Thomas, Tever, and Carey streets and is the largest of the historic districts, with 200 homes. Homes in this district are Frame Vernacular to grand Colonial and American Foursquare houses. Bungalows and Wood Frame Vernacular make up over 70% of the dwellings in the district. Only one home in the entire section was built before the 1900s: 207 N. Franklin Street, constructed in 1887. Homes in this district concentrate primarily on the 1910s and 1930s.

The Meldrim House, at the northwest corner of Howard and Reynolds streets, was constructed in 1913 by local lumber magnate James Wynn Meldrim, according to Images of America Plant City by the East Hillsborough Historical Society.

The book continues: “The Queen Anne style home includes influences of the Colonial Revival style. The wrap-around veranda features tapered square wood columns atop brick piers and turned balusters and conveyed the warmth and hospitality of the ‘old south.’ Stained glass, and marble and architectural millwork have been restored and retained with recent renovations to the home. An original carriage house for the family’s buggy was located to the rear of the property. Although just a short distance from town, the family would have used their carriage when making a social or business outing when they so desired. Many a fine lawn and garden party or social tea was held at the Meldrim Home.”

Decor to Elevate Your Space

You can add warmth and texture to any space. Incorporating driftwood, blown glass, and teakwood bowls into your decor can create a stunning and unique look. Here are a few tips on how to combine these elements:

Nature-inspired Centerpiece: Select a teakwood bowl with a beautiful grain pattern. Place it in the center of your dining or coffee table. Fill the bowl with driftwood pieces and blown glass ornaments. The smooth glass and weathered driftwood contrast will create a visually captivating centerpiece.

Wall Art: Create a focal point on your wall by combining driftwood and blown glass. Arrange a collection of various sizes and shapes of driftwood pieces, securing them with strong adhesive or nails. Then, attach blown glass art or ornaments to the driftwood arrangement. The interplay between the organic driftwood and the colorful, translucent glass will add depth and visual interest to your wall.

Display Shelves: Incorporate teakwood shelves into your space to showcase your blown glass collection. The warm tones of the teakwood will complement the vibrant colors of the glass, creating a harmonious display. Arrange the blown glass pieces on the shelves, using various heights and sizes to create an appealing composition.

The Meldrim house in on the northwest corner of W Reynolds and Howard streets. The house features a large wrap around porch, characteristic of a Queen Anne style home with influences of Colonial Revival style.

Remember to balance the textures and colors of these natural elements to create a cohesive look. Play with different sizes, shapes, and heights to add visual interest and dimension to your decor. You can create a beautiful, nature-inspired space that reflects your style by combining driftwood, blown glass, and teakwood bowls. Enjoy the beauty of nature indoors!

Photo courtesy of the Quintilla Geer Bruton Archives Center at the East Hillsborough Historical Society.

The Magic Formula to a Lush Green Lawn

(813) 833-8446

We all aspire for a picture-perfect lawn with lush green grass, healthy trees and shrubs, and no weeds or pests in sight. While you could apply fertilizer from the big box store, there could be a pesky brown spot that you just can’t seem to resolve. Leave the science behind lawn care to a licensed, experienced professional lawn care company. Green Life Environmental owner Curtis Browning says three components create a beautiful lawn.

“It doesn’t matter who they hire, if the lawn’s not fertilized, mowed, and irrigated–all three are necessary–they’re just not going to see the results they want,” said Browning.

Green Life Environmental starts with a lawn analysis, examining the roots and soil. They identify the presence of weeds, pests, or diseases and create a customized approach to the lawn. Fertilization, insect control, weed control, shrub care, and aeration come together with the Green Life team. Technicians will leave notes regarding mowing and irrigation needs to improve the lawn’s appearance further.

“Typically, customers say within 12 days of our initial treatment, they’re beginning to see an improvement in their lawn,” said Browning.

The Knight Home later was Well’s Funeral Home and it was demolished (sometime in the 1970s) and was on the northease corner of Mahoney/Wheeler and is where City Hall circle parking in front of building is now.

Photo courtesy of the Quintilla Geer Bruton Archives Center at the East Hillsborough Historical Society.

Fresh Coat of Paint Can Boost Home Values

(813) 960-2827

The number one most profitable home improvement to make is a fresh paint job. An interior paint job has a 107% return on investment (ROI), and an exterior paint job leads to a 55% ROI.

“If a buyer pulls up to your property to see faded, cracked, and peeling paint on the home’s exterior, they will immediately judge your property as not properly being cared for,” said Buck’s website. “When they go inside, they will start to look for other imperfections rather than the overall layout and design of the home.”

Neutral colors make it easier for home buyers to imagine themselves living there because they go with just about any decor style. Painting the walls and trim of a small room can give the illusion of a larger space. Buck’s recommends prioritizing the kitchen, living room, foyers, or other spaces that are “shared” and seen by visitors. Buck’s paint pros can discuss color options, finishes and sheens, and durability of high-traffic areas. “We recommend Sherwin Williams’ Cashmere or Duration lines for Interior Paint Options,” said Buck’s. “The Moisture Resistant Technology of the Duration Home line inhibits the growth of mold and mildew in moist environments, like bathrooms.

Edwin Theodore Roux, who was known as Col. E.T. Roux, was in the lumber business and built this home in about 1904 at what is now 202 W Calhoun Street.
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35 PAGE President & Managing Broker Ace Realty & Auction LLC Auction Consulting Experts, LLC John L. Haney 2023 NOMINEE BESTREALESTATEOFFICE
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Ling Realty Making Moves With

Dale Ling has always had an impulse to help others, a passion he exercised for years during his career in Finance. In 2010, he embarked on a career that allowed him to impact people’s lives even more—advising families and business owners on one of the most important financial decisions they will make as a Real Estate agent. As the broker of Ling Realty, LLC, Dale leads a team of 11 Plant City agents from their new office at 115 South Palmer Street.

In this feature, Ling chats with editor Cierra Craft about the Plant City real estate market and provides tips for buying or selling your property.

Photos by Deanna Hurley

Taylor Clark

Taylor is a Plant City native and is fully immersed in the community as a member of several civic and charitable organizations. He is the head of the the local Masonic Lodge Turkey Creek #248 F&AM, a member of the Plant City Chamber of Commerce, The Plant City Noon Rotary, and Hillsborough County Cattlemens. Taylor has a degree in Finance from the University of South Florida. Before joining Ling Realty LLC. Taylor worked at the Plant City EDC that shaped his experience and knowledge in commercial real estate and development. Let him know how he can help in your next residential or commercial real estate transaction today!

Helene Raich

Helene Raich is a highly dedicated and experienced real estate agent with a passion for helping clients navigate the residential real estate market. With a keen eye for detail and exceptional negotiation skills, Helene has established herself as a trusted expert in residential transactions.

Elizabeth Gonzalez

I have held my real estate license and been part of the team at Ling Realty for about 7 years. In that time, I have been fortunate to work with buyers, sellers and even some commercial clients all over the state from Englewood and Sarasota to Daytona and even Ocala but my area of speciality is residential real estate in Polk and Hillsborough County. I have 3 children, ages 8, 6 and almost 1 and 1 fur baby, a boxer named Apollo.

Megan Cloud

Megan is a South Florida native, a mom, a wife, and a photographer. When she’s not working she enjoys spending time with her family and enjoying the outdoors. Her favorite thing about being in the industry is meeting new people and helping them find comfort in such a big milestone. - Move with Megan today!

Dale, tell me a little bit about yourself and how did you get into real estate?

I grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, which is a suburb of Minneapolis. My parents are from a farming community in Southwest Minnesota (Worthington, MN). After high school, I attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, earning my Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business Finance. The weekend that I graduated from college, I moved to Florida, and shortly after, I took a job with American International Group’s (AIG) finance office American General Finance. I was offered the Manager’s position at the Plant City office a year later and moved to Plant City just a few months later. I have lived in Plant City since 2002. My career in finance and mortgage lending brought me into a lot of real estate transactions, and that is when I fell in love with real estate. My Father was also a Real Estate Broker and opened Ling Realty, LLC in 2000. I got my Real Estate Sales Associate license in 2010 and my Real Estate Broker license in 2012. I took over as Ling Realty, LLC’s broker when my Father retired in 2016.

Tell us about the Plant City team at Ling Realty.

We have a fantastic team of 11 very active agents with a wide range of experience from 22 years to 1 year selling real estate in Florida. Our agents cover Plant City and surrounding areas, with many of our teammates born and raised in Plant City! We have grown from three agents to 11 in just the past couple of years.

Can you paint a picture for readers about the Plant City housing market as it currently stands? How has the market changed over the past year?

The sale prices in our Plant City market have stayed steady or slightly increased this year. With Lakeland and Tampa ranked among the top-growing markets in the United States, Plant City is also growing at a rapid pace. More than 1,000 people are moving to Florida daily, and thousands of new homes are scheduled to be built throughout Plant City in the next couple of years. Although this is the case, the inventory is still in line with the growth in our area. We also have seen a lot of growth of commercial businesses in focused areas of our city, which will continue to bring new jobs and residents to our community.

After numerous increases to the mortgage interest rates in the last year, they are starting to stay steady. The market has changed over the past year with the increase in rates and inflation, but the demand is currently still there for residential and commercial growth in our area. Rental rates continuing to increase has also made buying a home or business in our area a viable option.

Why are you passionate about your job?

There’s nothing better than helping someone find their dream home or to start or expand their business! As the broker, I am also very passionate about seeing my agents reach their goals and potential in their real estate careers.

What questions should buyers and sellers ask as they prepare to either list their home or purchase? Is now a good time to buy or sell?

For buyers, it depends on whether you have a home to sell. Marry the house and date the rate, but stay within your budget. Your own personal affordability should be the most critical factor. If you are not paying cash, then getting the financing (payment) piece figured out should be a top priority. Next, look at the location of the property and real estate trends. Choosing a real estate agent with experience to guide you through the process is extremely important.


Sellers have different goals. Whether they must move for a job or are looking to upsize or downsize, they must understand their home’s value and the market for the home they would like to purchase. Have a trusted real estate professional visit your current property to give tips on making your home more marketable. Selling a home now is different than even a year ago. There are still plenty of buyers, but be prepared for the home to be on the market longer, possibly, and assist buyers with some of their needs, like down payment and closing costs. Repairs are also becoming more commonly needed as insurance companies have tightened their standards.

Laine Perez

Laine Perez is Ling Realty’s agent serving the Sarasota/ Manatee/Venice areas where he was Born and Raised. He graduated from Sarasota High School and shortly after joined the United States Air Force where he served as a Crew Chief on KC-135 Aircraft and served multiple tours overseas in support of OIF and OEF. Real Estate has been as rewarding to Laine as serving the country and is happy to serve you in the Sarasota area.

Lindsey Crenshaw

Whether listing for sellers or working hard to get a buyer under contract, Lindsey Crenshaw loves the pure joy when everyone makes it to the closing table. Being a lifelong Plant City resident, a 2007 graduate of Plant City High, and now raising 2 small children right here in town, her knowledge of the area is imperative to her success. She feels strongly that kindness and communication is the key in her approach to business. A newer member of the Ling team, she comes highly motivated and ready to go to work for you!

Mikayla Miller

Mikayla Miller is a Dover native who first achieved her real estate license in 2018 while living in North Florida, and upon returning to Dover in 2021 she began helping clients in our area. She also uses her experience in marketing to assist with our social media pages. Outside of work, she enjoys the gym, boating and seeking the next adventure!

Christina Hall

Christina is a Plant City native and graduate of PCHS. She earned a Bachelor of Marketing degree from USF. Go Bulls! Christina and her husband Justin have two children, Adriana and Gaines. When they’re not working, you can find Christina and Justin entertaining both of their children!


Cindy Maher

In the vast and ever-evolving world of real estate, I have found my true calling. With a passion for properties and a keen eye for opportunities, I have embarked on a thrilling journey in the realm of real estate for over 21 years. One of the most gratifying aspects of my profession is helping clients find their dream homes. Guiding them through the process from start to finish. I constantly immerse myself in market trends, attending seminars and networking events to expand my knowledge and stay informed. However, my role extends beyond just transactions. Building lasting relationships with clients is at the top of my list. Whether it’s buying, selling, or investing, I am committed to you.

Elvira Romo

I’m a realtor bilingual in Spanish. My professional background in accounting and taxes brings a strong understanding of financial matters as a realtor. This knowledge helps my clients through the financial aspects of buying and selling their properties. I have been a realtor for almost 3 years where I’ve gained a solid understanding of the industry and developed skill set. Overall my diverse skill set and expertise make me a well-rounded and knowledgeable realtor.

Dale, what is an accomplishment you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of the kids that my wife, Amy, and I are raising. They are Plant City kids through and through. David and Allison love Plant City! I couldn’t be more proud to be their Father.
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Plant City isn’t immune to the state’s exploding housing market. As buyers are priced out in the area’s bigger cities, they’re seeking somewhere to raise their families with all of the amenities of the big city and the charm of a small town. Those buyers are settling in Plant City and our market is feeling the effects.

According to Redfin, Plant City’s market is somewhat competitive, with houses selling after 30 days on the market compared to 10 days last year. The site reports homebuyers are moving to Plant City from New York City, Chicago, and Washington DC, and residents are moving out of town to cities such as Sarasota, Ocala, and Asheville, NC. The median sell price is $360,000, up 9% yearover-year; Tampa has had 2.6% growth over last year, and Lakeland has seen a decrease of 5.7%.

Whether you’re buying or selling, the local experts on these pages will negotiate your way to success. Each July, FOCUS presents its annual Real Estate issue, celebrating the service, dedication, and hard work that area real estate professionals put into building their companies and serving clients.

Let this issue serve as your guide to Plant City’s top producing real estate agents.


I have been licensed since 1996, and I am a third generation Florida Realtor. I provide my clients, whether buying or selling, with in-depth, PERSONALIZED service. I never forget that the buying or selling of property is often a family’s or business’s most important financial transaction. Almost all my business is repeat customers or referrals by prior clients. I will handle your sale or purchase, with utmost care and provide you with my complete attention!

Heather has been in the Real Estate industry for over 10 years. She is a top producer at McGrath Poppell & Company, where she works with buyers, sellers, property owners, and tenants throughout Florida. Heather strives to meet her customers at a personal level and provides outstanding service and communication. For all your Real Estate and property management needs CALL HEATHER TODAY! She is ready to work for you!

Ashley Carlisle has lived in Florida her whole life. She enjoys working with sellers, buyers, and in property management. Even as a child Ashley wanted to be a realtor. Building and continuing relationships with her customers through purchasing homes, selling homes, and managing properties is paramount to her business as is the flexibility of being her own boss in a demanding 24/7 career.


Ask Pat why she doesn’t retire after 32 years & her answer is that she constantly has past clients contact her for help and she just can’t say no! She loves helping people and her clients become life long friends. If you need to sell or buy, give her a call and experience for yourself why her clients keep coming back.

Cathy Cooper, REALTOR®

Cathi Cooper is an experienced real estate professional with enthusiasm and determination to help clients achieve their real estate goals.

She is a resident of Plant City who graduated from Plant City high school, and University of Florida, and raised her family in Plant City.

With 44 years of experience, she cares about her clients and their real estate goals and offers a straightforward style of communication to guide you through the complex process for real estate transactions. She focuses on the needs of clients and making their real estate experience with Gavin Realty a positive and professional one.

For over 20 years, Renee has been marketing, listing and selling Residential Homes, Luxury Homes, Horse Properties, Kennel Properties, Waterfront Homes, Vacant Lots, Acreage, Homes with Acreage, Commercial Properties, Investment Properties, Foreclosures, Short Sales and New Construction. Whether working with first-time homebuyers or families upsizing or downsizing, Renee uses her skills and experience to help clients achieve their real estate goals. As a full-time, full-service realtor, Renee performs above and beyond expectations to facilitate a smooth real estate transaction. Whatever your real estate needs, Renee will apply her real estate knowledge to make your dreams a reality!

Corzine, REALTOR® KELLER WILLIAMS 813-716-6007

Stephanie Eisenbach is a licensed Real Estate agent with LPT REALTY, Florida office. Stephanie has found her passion in the real estate world over the past 8 years. She is the quintessential realtor to call in the Plant City area. Stephanie always has a smile and enjoys helping others. Her family and friends are her life. When she isn’t working or volunteering you can find her at the baseball or soccer fields watching her children play.

John is the President & Managing Broker of Ace Realty & Auction based right here in historic downtown Plant City. During his 20+ year career, he has sold real estate in all 67 Florida counties, 41 states and 3 foreign countries. He is particularly skilled in commercial real estate but handles all types of property, both locally and abroad. He is a graduate of PCHS and the College of Business Administration at USF in Tampa. John is heavily involved in our local community. He is a past president of the Plant City Rotary Club, board member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Plant City EDC. In 2022, John was appointed to the City of Plant City Planning Board. A lifelong resident of Plant City, he is married to Amy, his wife of 22 years and they have a son Ryan, 15. Together, they own and operate a 100 acre cattle ranch just northeast of town.

Cathy, a native Floridian, has lived in the Plant City area her entire life. She is married to Greg and together they share four children. Cathy earned a Bachelors Degree in Finance at USF and held several licenses for securities trading and insurance while working in the Financial Services industry for several years. Having been in real estate for 18 years, she has endured the full market cycle and recognizes that hard work, integrity, and customer service are the key components to a successful business and strives for excellence with each customer.



Carter C. Metts, REALTOR®

Carter Celebrates Four years with Ace Realty & Auction as a licensed real estate agent and is a member of the Greater Tampa Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. Prior to joining the team at Ace, he spent 18 years in the insurance field. Carter grew up in Leesburg Georgia and while he is not from Plant City, he is quick to say he got here as fast as he could. He is active in the local community as a past board member of Plant City Main Street, volunteer at the Pig Jam and a former Chamber Ambassador. He enjoys working with new residential construction as well as commercial property sales and leases.

Shanon Schulte, REALTOR®

Shanon Schulte has lived in Plant City her entire life. She has been married to Eric for 27 years and they have 3 children, Erin, Alli, and Zachary. Shanon graduated from PCHS in 1986 and Florida Southern in 1990. Shanon is an active member of First Baptist Church, Plant City, where she enjoys volunteering her time. Whether you are buying or selling a home, Shanon is eager to help you get to the closing table.



For over 17 years Patricia has had the priviledge of making dreams come true for many people. Whether buying or selling, she is happy to assist and guide you through the process. Being a local girl, she is very familiar with not only Plant City, but all of Hillsborough County as well as Polk and Pasco Counties. The many years of business has given her a wealth of knowledge, the ability to negotiate and the experience needed to be a Top Producer. She is personable, a go getter and dedicated to her customers. Keeping in close contact with past customers has allowed her to grow her business! Residential, Commercial or Property Management, she is ready to work for you!





Earl Williams, REALTOR®

With 18 years of professional experience and closing transactions in 36 states, Earl has assisted buyers and sellers with real estate needs through various methods including traditional sales, auctions and foreclosures. Being a Plant City native and lifelong resident has made Earl an expert in understanding market conditions in the region. His knowledge in commercial, residential, agricultural and larger land tracts has made him a valuable asset to his clients. He also consults on agricultural exemptions and regularly assists with parcel splits to maximize the income and value potential for his clients

Jessica Williams, REALTOR®

Jessica Williams is a licensed real estate agent with LPT Realty, where she has discovered a fulfilling career in real estate and finds purpose in helping people achieve their dreams. She is direct, honest and able to expertly work through the twists and turns of the real estate world without ever missing a beat. Thanks to her calm demeanor, relaxed confidence and engaging spirit, her clients find the whole experience fun and rewarding from start to finish. As a native Floridian from Plant City, she can expertly navigate the area she works in, knows the challenges of the current market, then works hard to help make things happen.

ACE REALTY & AUCTION, LLC CELL: 813-716-0834 OFFICE: 813-567-7198 EXT. 102 EARL@ACEBID.COM
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Richardson Luke

A recent graduate from Strawberry Crest High School, Luke Richardson combined the pursuit of academics and baseball over the course of his high school career and excelled in both. Juggling the demands of the inter baccalaureate program alongside a demanding practice schedule was not easy, but Richardson maintains, “It was hard, but definitely worth it.”

Richardson’s decade-long love for baseball started at an early age as he followed in the cleats of his dad, who played for Bloomingdale High School and Manatee Community College. A pitcher for the Chargers, his most notable highlight from this season was pitching eight scoreless innings in a nine-inning nail biter against Durant, where the Chargers emerged victorious. He is most motivated by his passion for the game and a desire to keep playing at a high level.

“To be able to play at that level you really have to push yourself to be better than everybody else,” he shared. “Everybody kind of evens out on the playing field so whoever works the hardest is able to play the most.”

He ended his high school baseball career on a high note, being given the opportunity to play in the Hillsborough All Star Game against Pinellas at Tropicana Field, and also being placed on the All Western Conference National Division First Team.

Looking ahead, Luke is pursuing a Civil Engineering degree at Auburn in the Fall and is hoping to walk on to their baseball team and continue his pitching career.

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Strawberry Crest Chargers

“Appreciate and Celebrate.” This is the motto the Strawberry Crest Chargers carried with them throughout their 2023 season. Ending with a 17-8 record and graduating a solid group of 10 seniors, the team had much to appreciate and celebrate this year.

“The guys went out and worked hard every day,” shared Coach Eric Beattie, who has led the Chargers since the team’s inception in 2009.

“We won a lot of games,” he continued. “Our margin was really high. We scored as many runs this year as we’ve ever scored in the past. I feel like the guys got better as the year went on, so overall, I would say it was a good year.”

Senior Luke Richardson agrees.

“I thought the whole season was great because we had so many seniors who we’ve always played with and against our whole lives,” he explained.

Richardson grew up playing in and around Plant City and pitches for the Chargers. Recently,

he was given the opportunity to play in the Hillsborough All-Star Game against Pinellas and on the All-Western Conference National Division First Team.

“He had a really good year,” remarked Coach Beattie, “He continually got better every season and ended up pitching in our biggest games down the stretch and kept us in all of them.”

Another senior who has been soaking up the spotlight is short-stop Arjun Nimmala. Nimmala was named the 2023 recipient of the Wade Boggs Athletic Achievement Award and is expected to be selected in the first round of this summer’s MLB draft.

According to Coach Beattie, “Arjun Nimmala was one of the best players in the state and in the country this year. He had 6 or 7 home runs, about 9 or 10 doubles, three triples, and only two errors in the season which is incredible as a shortstop.”

With the departure of Nimmala, Richardson,

and the other eight seniors on the team, the Chargers are looking at a whole new ballgame when next season rolls around.

“It’ll be a rebuilding season next season,” predicts Coach Beattie, “But we’ve got some good young kids who are great players and hard workers, and they love to win; they’re really competitive.”

No one could lead them better than Beattie, who grew up in the area but played professionally with both the Tigers and the Red Sox before stepping into his coaching role.

“My philosophy comes down to developing the H.I.P.P., which is the Human, the Impact, the Preparation, and their Performance, so that kind of grounds every decision that I make as a coach,” he explained.

It will be this philosophy that paves the way for future Chargers to meet success on the field.


Meet the Maker:

Deborah Halstad

At RoyalTea Shoppe, owned and operated by Deborah Halstad, tea is made loose leaf by hand with all natural, organic ingredients inspected and quality checked prior to every batch. Halstad is a third generation entrepreneur who began her tea business in 2017. As a young child, she loved tea parties and would often imagine some day owning her own tea shop. Today, her tea shop is a reality, but in a less traditional sort of way. Because her business is fully mobile, Deborah is able to bring the high tea experience to her customers at venues of their choice. Her services are perfect for weddings, bridal showers, birthday parties and other special occasions. Her tea time catering is fully customizable, offering everything from a full service, set up and tear down experience, to simply offering an alternative beverage to coffee. The full service experience includes tea ware and finger sandwiches, tea treats and scones made by Halstad’s sister, Raquel, as well as a variety of teas. But these aren’t just any teas. Halstad’s loose leaf teas pack a flavorful punch and are all personally hand-crafted.

“It’s really fun because it’s an endless process,” she explained. “You can come up with so many different combinations and that’s what I really love about it.”

She specializes in dessert teas, such as her German Chocolate Bergen Tea, but will also create custom flavors for customers who have a specific taste in mind. Aside from her full service catering, Deborah also offers her teas at local markets, like Plant City’s Last Friday Downtown. Markets are one of Deborah’s favorite places to serve her teas because of the face-to-face interaction she is able to have with her customers.

“We really focus on making the costumer feel like ‘royaltea’,” she shared. “They can have all their questions answered, they can get the product they’re looking for, and they can even customize the product.”

The teas are packaged beautifully in a gift-ready resealable bag that includes a scripture verse on the front.

“I’ve had such a a positive response to the scripture verses,” she remarked. “I want to bring [the Lord] glory and honor through my business and really I’m just stewarding the business that He’s given to me.”

For those who may be interested in stocking larger quantities of her tea, Deborah offers wholesale for bulk product and also offers retail products for boutiques and coffee shops.

Whether you are interested in sipping a unique cuppa hand-crafted by a local artisan, have an occasion that could be made special by offering fine teas and delicate treats, or have a business that would like to offer custom teas, RoyalTea Shoppe can meet (and exceed) your expectations, all while making you feel like royalty. Deborah can be contacted through Facebook and Instagram as well as through her website

“Life is much like tea; it’s all in how you make it.” -Unknown.

Leaders in Faith

Lydia Sanders

Often, we find leaders in faith to be quiet, unassuming, and faithful members of our church congregations. Such is the case with Lydia Sanders, a loyal servant “willing to serve wherever needed” under the leadership of Pastor Antonio Wilkerson and his wife, First Lady Shirley Wilkerson, at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Plant City.

The now single mother of three is grandmother to four, greatgrandmother to one, and “mother of love” to many. She explains, “A co-worker at an inner-city school in Tampa offered one of the greatest compliments I’ve received when she said, ‘I’ve never seen a woman with so many children.’ A great number of my students called me ‘Ma,’ and I wore the name with honor.”

Lydia feels honored to serve her church on the Planning Committee, in Youth Ministries, as an Usher, and as a Choir member.

Share a little about your family.

“I was born into a family of Preachers, so my humble beginning and walk with Christ was destined. My grandfather was a Bishop, and my Dad and Uncles were ministers who preached/ are preaching the Word of God to God’s precious cargo: His people. When Mother Manic (grandma/mother of the church) played the base drum and sang, ‘I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord,’ the Holy Spirit permeated, and members took flight within their shouting (Aunt Sade, Sister Mercede). Mom ensured her seven children were dressed and on time as she commenced her servant duties.

What do you enjoy most about ministry?

“As Christians, we are servants, so I’m willing to serve where there’s a need. God has given me the gift of loving unconditionally and the discernment to help others. In the process, I share his word and my testimonies. I’m thankful He directed my path to my Mt. Olive Baptist Church.”

Do you have an unfulfilled vision or dream?

“As a servant of Christ, I’d like to be involved in organizing a 40 days/40 nights Revival within Plant City and nearby communities that would incorporate ALL denominations. And Lord, I thank you for this platform to share my vision, a willing vessel reaching for Your people.”

How would you advise those not yet established in their faith?

“Pastor Wilkerson shares this with our congregation: Include individuals in your circle that challenge your current level of faith to elevate your faith to the next level. In deeds and service, to reach one is to teach one.”

And to those already committed Christians?

“I would share Hosea 2:23, which reads: ‘I will establish My people in the land and make them prosper. I will show love to those who were called ‘Not-My-People.’ I will say, ‘You are My People, and they will answer, ‘You are our God.’ Next, we must learn to wait for the Lord to direct our path in life. Lastly, learn to cry out to the Lord. He’s waiting to hear from you as well as you are from Him.”

Share something special about Mt. Olive.

I enjoy our Pastor and First Lady, Antonio, and Shirley Wilkerson, who are faithful Servants of God. He preaches the Word, and she supports him by greeting members and visitors to the services, working in the nursery, and beyond. Our welcoming congregation is a loving group of people because, as our motto explains, we are ‘The Family Friendly Church.’

Located at 604 W. Ball Street, Mt. Olive Baptist Church hosts services on Sunday mornings, beginning with Adult Bible Study at 9:45, Worship and Children’s Church at 10:55 a.m. Prayer and Bible study begins at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening. The church also provides food pantry & USDA food distributions on Mondays at 12:30 p.m. and Tuesdays and third Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. Their mission is “To be a church of Christ-like commitment, Christlike compassion, and Christ-like character.” Visit online at or phone 813-754-3834 for additional information.

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Candy’s Corner


In the good old summer time, In the good old summer time, There’s a time in each year that we always hold dear, the good old summer time. With the birds and the trees and the sweetscented breeze, a swim in the pool and playing hooky from school, those days full of pleasure we now fondly treasure in the good old summertime.

By the time July rolled around, us kids were so deep into swimming, roller skating, kite flying, bike riding, fort building, cartoon watching, movie going, kickball playing, slumber partying, and playing outside with friends. I do not think that our schedules could hold much more, but there were still many exciting things to look forward before school started again like Bible School, the Fourth of July, and picnics with the family. Back in the 1960s and 1970s we made our own fun, we used our imaginations, we spent time with friends and neighbors, we played hard, and made life-long memories.

I remember how my sister and I loved to go on picnics with our parents. My mother would always fry a chicken, make potato salad, baked beans, and a jug of ice tea complete with lemon and about one cup of sugar. That tea was so sweet a spoon would stand up in the jug by itself, but boy did it quench your thirst on a hot summer day. There would also be a pack of Oreos or Chips Ahoy cookies and always without fail a fresh loaf of Hillbilly bread. My mother would safely pack the food in her prize picnic basket that came from the Green Stamp store in Lakeland. I remember that basket was made of what looked like plywood and had handles with a hinged lid. When you lifted the lid up there were two lines of red elastic stapled to the inside that held your silverware. The basket also came with a red checked tablecloth and a set of Tupperware salt and pepper shakers. My father would fill a large thermos with ice and pack his hat, his transistor radio, and the family Frisbee. My sister and I would grab our pillows, a few books, and maybe even a game and head for the car. Once everyone was in the car my mother would ask if anyone had to use the bathroom because there may not be a place once we were there. My sister and I would get out and run back in the house. I can remember how my father would sigh and say to himself: “Why didn’t you all do that before you got in the car?” Once we were all back in the car and

everything was in check, we headed off to what we thought was a picnic fit for a king.

The Fourth of July was always and still is a time to celebrate. My parents taught my sister and I to celebrate our country’s independence and to be grateful to those who have given their lives to make our freedom possible. If we were at home and not at the beach on the Fourth of July, my parents would have a cookout on our patio. My father would grill hamburgers and hotdogs. We would also have potato chips, onion dip, corn on the cob complete with butter dripping down, ice cold watermelon, Coca Colas in the little glass bottles, and cupcakes or brownies. What a feast.

When it got dark my parents would take my sister and I out on the driveway and give each one of us a box of sparklers. I remember holding and waving the sparklers around, writing and drawing things in the air while waving the sparklers proudly. I loved the big fireworks that lit up the entire sky and could be heard from very far away.

I was born and raised in the Methodist church and always attended Bible school, but back in the year 1969 my best friend JeanAnn Weaver invited me to her Bible school, which was held at the old First Baptist Church of Plant City. I remember how first thing in the morning the kids would line up by age and classrooms outside the sanctuary on the steps waiting for the doors to open. When it was time we all filed inside the church, which to me as a six-year-old child looked like the size of Tampa Stadium. I remember looking up front at the altar and there stood a lady by the name of Betty Chambers wearing an Indian headdress waiting to address the crowd. What I did not know back then in 1969 was what an impact that lady with the funny hat would have on my life. Mrs. Chambers told us the story of Ricky Ticky Timbo, which was the story of a Chinese boy with a very long name who fell into a well. Each morning Mrs. Chambers would read us another chapter of the story and have us join in and say his name out loud along with her. By the end of the week the story was finished and we could all repeat the boy’s name by heart which was: Ricky Ticky Timbo No So Rimbo Ala Balla Booski Hipre Pimbo. How could a kid ever forget that?

Betty Chambers and I crossed paths many more times in the next 40 years. She was someone to look up to, she became a mentor, and most of all she became my friend. Mrs. Chambers was involved in so many things in her church, with her family, and in our community that I would never be able to list them all. She was an excellent person who expected excellence from others. I remember her telling me as a teenager that you cannot soar

with the eagles if you are on the ground hooting with the hoot owls. Betty Chambers was a person who kept her word. If she made a commitment she always followed through. There was no excuse not to in her book. She also believed in making people better off for knowing her. She spoke to everyone whether she knew them or not. She got involved. She believed in healthy mind, healthy body, healthy spirit. She never sat idle. She was a doer and a go-getter. She lived life to the fullest. She never, ever took the easy way out. She was in every sense of the word a woman of substance.

I remember in my mid 40s when Mrs. Chambers became terminally ill with cancer. I was at the First Baptist Church and I saw her walk in. There she was all dressed up with her hair and makeup done just as perfect as always. She walked in by herself but slowly and without the help of anyone. We all knew that she was in great pain but she never gave in. She had that beautiful smile on her face. She sat behind me along with her daughter Pec and son-in-law Dub Mcginnes. I remember I turned around and told her my memories of Bible school back in 1969 and how she told us the story of Ricky Ticky Timbo, in fact I recited the whole name to her. She could not believe that I could remember that after all these years. I felt in my heart that this might be the last time that I saw Mrs. Chambers. I turned around and told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. I even told her that I wanted to grow and become a person just like her. Mrs. Chambers leaned over and grabbed my hand and said: “Candy, you already are!”

Let me leave you with this thought. Americans, as we take time to celebrate the independence held so deep in our hearts, I hope that the following thoughts of America bring forth emotion for the USA we love. So many have endured the loss of precious loved ones, we must stay aware of the tragedy they live with. For they, more than any, feel the total cost of sacrifice. Praise their fallen heroes. They left freedom for us.

We shall always be “the land of the free”

We shall always be “the home of the brave”

We shall always sing “God Bless America”

We shall always love “Mom and Apple Pie.”

72 PAGE Plant City Happenings July 28 Last Friday in Downtown 5-9pm Harry Potter-themed | Food Trucks | Vendors McCall Park @ 100 N. Collins St Cost: Free Info: Plant City Main Street, August 10 Ladies Night with Justin Grimes 8PM Live Acoustic Performance | Drink Specials Irish Fare 1916 Irish Pub @ 2309 W Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Admission Info: 1916 Irish Pub, (813) 756-6504 2nd & 4th Tuesdays Life & Addiction Recovery Group 6:30pm Faith-Based Co-Ed | 12 Steps | Anonymous Families Welcome PC Church of God @ 2103 Mud Lake Rd Cost: Free Info: Debbie, 813-763-1562 or LaVerne, 813-763-1530 Weekends July 15 to 30 PCE: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Fri & Sat 8pm; Sun 2pm Adults 18+ recommended | Musical Comedy Plant City Playhouse @ 101 N Thomas St Cost: Adults $23; Seniors (60+) $18 Info: 813-752-0728 July 27 Candle Pour Class 7-9pm Make-Your-Own Candles | Girls’ Night Out | Complimentary Glass of Wine The Cellar @ 303 S Collins St Cost: Registration Required, $55 Info: Facebook: The Cellar Plant City July 28 Christmas in July Toy Drive 5-9pm Drop off unwrapped toys for pediatric cancer patients Propagation @ 103 N Palmer St Info: Emily Pierce, August 1 Disney & Pixar Trivia Night 6:30pm Disney Costume Contest | Prizes for Top 3 Teams | Dining Reservations Required Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Info: Keel Farms, (813) 752-9100 August 11 Morning Mimosas Networking 8AM Connect & Grow | Mimosas & Breakfast Free Networking OnPoint CoWorking Solutions @ 1805 James L. Redman Pkwy Cost: Free Info: Alice or Kim Bullard, (813) 501-1555

Gallery of Plant City

JULY 4TH, 2023

Plant City kicked off the patriotic festivities with the Plant City Parks & Recreation and Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce’s annual July 4th Celebration. The record heat didn’t keep families from celebrating our country’s independence with vendors, food, live music, games and a firework finale at 9:15pm.

a. Families had a friendly game of tug-a-war on the field. The event, presented by Plant City Recreations & Park Department, featured family-friendly games and activities including a rock climbing wall and cornhole.

b. Live music was provided by the Double Barrel Band beginning at 7pm while the on-field activities continued. The event concluded with a firework finale at 9:15pm.

c. Families enjoyed the vendors, such as balloon animal artists and face painters, on the field of the Plant City Stadium. For many in attendance, the annual July 4th Celebration is a family tradition.

d. There was no shortage of patriotic attire, with many women opting for dresses in the hot July sun, like this mom and daughter. Red, white and blue beads, sunglasses, and headbands accessorized their star spangled attire.

e. Vendors like Chick-Fil-A Plant City, Fazoli’s, Pelican’s Snoballs Piggy Palace BBQ and Smitty Corndogs were on site for attendees to enjoy local flavor.

a b c

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