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Thank you, Winter Haven, for your Reader’s Choice Award. We are proud to serve you! 2010 FOCUS 2009 FOCUS

NOMINATED FOR:

Best Fried Chicken Best Home Cooking

www.FredsSouthernKitchen.com 2

Eat Better. Love Life. Live Longer.

january 2011 myfocustv.com



table of contents

January 2011 Volume 3 issue 8

702 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Plant City, FL 33563 Phone 813.707.8783 Fax 813.764.0990 PUBLISHER Mike Floyd

FAMILY OF COMMUNITY MAGAZINES

OFFICE MANAGER Dede Floyd COPY EDITOR Cheryl Johnston ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Brent Simmons SALES Sophia Hyde Holly Far mer Linda Simmons PRODUCTION Anthony Sassano Tony Cartagena

George

Sorensen

DISTRIBUTION Doug McGee Belva DeVane

ONTHECOVER kiWanis Club

Executive Director of the Brandon Family YMCA

PHOTOGRAPHERS Suzanne Gallagher Billy Friend Lori Blaser

photo by brent simmons

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Plant City Lakeland Brandon Winter Haven Lake County South Tampa

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LOCaL

Winter Haven and the surrounding areas are great communities where the residents seem to understand what is important in life - it is all about community. Read to discover local people and events that continue to make Winter Haven an amazing place to live.

FeatUre

The readers have voted and the winners recognized in the 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards competition. Whet your appetite and plan your dining calendar based on your cravings and desire for great food at reasonable prices. Winter Haven is certainly a place to feast.

FOCUSTV

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OWN YOUR OWN FOCUS MAGAZINE

Licensed territories are available. If you are interested in owning your own Focus Magazine call Mike Floyd at 813-707-8783 ext. 26

CONTRIBUTORS Al Ruechel Bruce Rodwell Gil Gott Jo-An Lusk Nate Davis Natalie Sweet Felix Haynes EDITORIAL INTERNS Raven Leverett

SPOtLight

Meet Amanda-Jo Nicholson and learn why the Kiwanis Club of Winter Haven deserves to be the recipient of Focus’s 1st Annual Persons of the Year award and the Kiwanis International Club of the Year for the second year in a row.

MYFOCUSTV.COM Local Community Stories

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STAFF WRITERS Cheryl Johnston Brian West Joe Bowles Phil Neary Derek Maul Kristi Linbaugh Dan Conrod Jane Waters Joy Townsend Mark Page

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 editorial@ fl oydpublications.com. The staff will fi x the error in a timely manner.

BUSineSS PrOFiLe

Because of the foresight of the 6/10 Corporation, which owns Inland Fiber and Data, the community of Winter Haven and others nearby need not worry about technology breakdowns. Every business owner who reads Focus should be aware of this company’s product and consider signing up for its services.

Readers who wish to respond to an article – not correct facts – can do so by writing a letter to the editor. If you need any other type of assistance, then please view the directory for the appropriate department. The staff at FOCUS Magazine is committed to serving their consumers and customers to the fullest of abilities. You’re paying attention to our words. Let us pay attention to yours. FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Letters, questions and comments can be sent to us at editorial@fl oydpublications.com.

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Dining PrOFiLe

Elmo’s and Linda’s Magical Dining is an enchanting place to enjoy a great meal and meet new friends. Th is husband and wife team use their many talents to make certain your visit is memorable. Be sure to bring family or friends for an experience too good not to share.

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. published by:

17 - Medical 22 - Main Street winter haven

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27 - City of winter haven 28 - al reuchel

30 - event Calendar

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letter from the publisher

L Elmo & Linda's Magical Dinning

Dining Hours: Monday - Saturday 11am - 3pm Old Town Square 353 3rd Street NW Winter Haven, FL 33881

Reservations Accepted 863-514-5382 molinda1983@aol.com

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ast January I wrote my letter from the publisher about goal setting. I shared that I had started a dream board and in 2010 wanted to hone in on where I was taking my life. I would have to say that it worked. By constantly reminding myself of what I wanted in the long run, I was able to look at every small decision to be made and ask “is this going to get me closer to a goal?” If not, it was a distraction. In retrospect, I believe that this year I was better than usual at looking at my long-term goals and saying no when I needed to. However, as I look into 2011 I am doing a lot of refocusing on my business. Any business owner is constantly analyzing how to become more effective. One way to do that is to create a stronger bond amongst the staff. If everyone in the company is passionate about the product they are producing, committed to working hard, and able to work as a team, the entire company is more successful. As they say “a rising tide lifts all boats.” For this year, our staff came up with the idea to take on 11 adventures in 2011. We are in the process of mapping out 11 out of box things to do together that we otherwise wouldn’t experience. A few items on the list are getting scuba diving certified, sky diving, driving a racecar, barrel racing and several more. Not only is this list inspirational on an individual level, but we will be a stronger team by experiencing them all together. This month our spotlight interview is with the Kiwanis Club of Winter Haven. They were chosen as Focus Magazine’s 1st Annual Person(s) of the year. I’m not sure if I can think of a better example of a team of people coming together to accomplish a goal. Make sure you read this article because you may be surprised by the amazing influence this small group of people has on the Greater Winter Haven community. We could all benefit from looking at them and then analyzing how we could better serve our community. This January, I challenge you to look at an area of your life you want to improve. The common response is weight loss, so maybe you need to go talk to someone about getting on a program. But maybe there are other areas that need your attention in 2011. Like me, it could be goal setting and team building, but there is an array of aspects we can always be working on. I challenge you to pick one and set a plan now of how you’re going to achieve it.

863-294-3213 220 Central Avenue West Winter Haven Beautiful in Blue www.lasaterflowersandgifts.com 6

january 2011 myfocustv.com

Mike Floyd Publisher


Local » Focus This year’s Polk County ride started at Honda of Winter Haven with an 8:30 a.m. continental breakfast. Riders lifted their kickstands at the end of the morning ceremony that featured raising the Red Cross Flag, announcements and special acknowledgments by Eric Carroll, the posting of colors by the Boy Scouts of America, and the National Anthem by Jack Farley. Also, Chaplain Bill Sullivan from the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office wished everyone a safe ride, Eric Carroll gave a speech as well as read a poem, and Linda Scialo led the “ramp up.” After kickstands were raised at 10:00 a.m., riders traveled to a combination of four stops that included Harley-Davidson of Lakeland, Grove House Visitor Center, Bartow Chevrolet, Beef O’Brady’s Family Sports Pub in Bartow, Recreation Station at Eagle Ridge Mall, Davidson of Dundee, 2nd Gear, and Polk Outpost 27 Visitor Information Center. All riders had to meet at Mojo’s Wings, Burgers, and Beer by 4:00 p.m. The families of riders could meet them at Mojo’s to be a part of the final festivities. There the winners of the best, second best, and worst poker runs were announced. The winner of the best poker won received a $250 cash prize. A $150 cash prize was given to the winner of the second best poker run. The winner of the worst poker run received a $100 cash prize. Every rider had a chance to win a door prize through the random drawings conducted after the awarding of the cash prizes.

Ride for the Red T

he 6th annual Polk County Ride for the Red was held Saturday, November 20th. Ride for the Red is a “pick your own” motorcycle Poker Run in which riders can choose from the Central Florida, Coast to Coast, Polk County, and Space Coast rides. Each Poker Run features a number of stops from which bikers can choose, all of which offer various perks. The benefits of each location are listed on riders’ card pages, which allow participants to decide whether they want to partake in a short or long ride. Single riders were able to register for $20 and a rider plus a passenger for $30. Linda Scialo, event coordinator for the Polk

Polk County

A total of 366 riders took part in the Poker Run, raising a sum of approximately $15,000. Each year, a number of sponsors contribute to the effectiveness of this event, including the manifold hosts of the stops along the ride, Mosaic, “The Ledger,” Florida’s Natural Growers, Indian River Transport, Fun Bike Center, and several others.

Written By: Taylor Flumerfelt

County Chapter of the Red Cross, was inspired in 2004 by a Red Cross volunteer from Arizona to bring Ride for the Red to the Polk County Red Cross Chapter. Linda explained that she was determined “to do everything possible to convince the Polk County Chapter to try this event.” This function helps The Red Cross raise money in the midst of poor economic conditions and its popularity, as well as success, has made it an annual event for the Polk County Chapter. “Every year, for the past five years, watching a few hundred motorcycle riders ride with pride wearing their “Ride for the Red” red shirts as they start the ride, I couldn’t imagine this event with any other name,” Linda admitted. FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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Local » Focus

2010 Fall Fancy Fashion show E Written By: Brent Simmons

very worthwhile endeavor begins as someone’s idea. On December 9th we attended what was the culmination of one woman’s idea, which when combined with her action and the community’s support resulted in Pastor David Berry, from The Mission in Winter Haven, receiving a check for $3000.00. “It’s a big deal, it’s huge, because we operate solely on donations from the community,” Berry told us, before explaining, “The Mission is an “in reach ministry, which means we seek the support of our community to allow us to reach into the community and help those in need.” The reception and presentation of the check was held at the Sundown Southern Eatery and was attended by many of the people

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who made the 2010 Fall Fancy Fashion show, which was also held at the Sundown on November 14th, a success. No one was more proud and humbled by the support and success of this event than Vicki Sharer, Manager of Fred’s Southern Kitchen in Winter Haven. It was Vicki who had the idea, and it was her effort and the support of Fred’s that got the ball rolling and made possible the result we witnessed.

“I knew they had a similar event in Plant City for years, and I thought it would work in Winter Haven, so I went to my bosses and discussed the opportunity with them and asked for the use of the Sundown, which is closed on Sundays,” Vicki said. Why did she do it? “I wanted to get involved

more in the community where I work, and I wanted to do something to give back to it,” Vicki said. She found help from all over and the local businesses that participated did their part to make the event a huge success. Perhaps her most ardent supporters were the people she worked with at Fred’s, who also own the Sundown. “It is important to us, in fact it is part of our corporate policy as well as our personal policy, that we be good neighbors and positively impact the communities our restaurants operate in,” said Fred Johnson. Attendees were treated to soup, salad, and dessert. There were vendor displays and auction items from Ella G’s, Southern Hospitality, Hand Picked Flowers, and Cupcake Sweeties. The main event featured

fashions and accessories from Pink Chix, Helen’s, Elonka’s, City Stitchers, and The Red Geranium of Winter Haven and Sister’s & Company of Plant City. It takes a lot to put on a show like this, and it is no small undertaking for these businesses. “It is a lot of work to find and perhaps train the models, and getting the clothes there and back takes time, as well,” Elonka told us. “It is worth the effort when you see the results,” she added. The MC for the reception and presentation mentioned how important and inspiring this was as an example of how one person can make a difference, and all those who were involved in putting the event on spoke about how grateful they were for all the folks that attended. Vicki expressed her gratitude for the help of her friends, Fred’s, the boutiques, and the vendors. Focus Magazine’s own Holly Farmer used her experience from similar events and as a professional model to assist in making the fashion show a success.


Local » Focus

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Lakeland Lakeland •• (863) (863) 816-2800 816-2800

Written By: Cheryl Johnston

S

eniors, get your game on! Show your stuff at the 19th Annual Polk Senior Games by competing or volunteering.

This annual two-week series of 36 athletic and recreational Olympic-style events is for men and women 50 years-plus. Competitions at various locations throughout Polk County happen from February 26 - March 13, 2011. Advance registration is required. Polk County residency is not required. The Games promote an active lifestyle, an interest in sports, and volunteerism. For 16 days, over 2,500 seniors - serious competitors, the fun at heart, seasoned athletes, and the physically challenged compete in 85 events. Some events qualify top finishers to advance to the Florida Senior Games, which lead to the National Senior Games. Registration extends from January 3 February 11, 2011. Download forms from www.polkseniorgames.org or request the packet/rules from Deena Wilbur, Executive Director. Phone (863)533-0055 or e-mail

polkseniorgames@verizon.net. Mail or deliver application and fees to 515 East Boulevard Street in Bartow. The entry fee is $10 for the first event and $3 for each additional, up to a maximum of $28. Fee includes a T-shirt, refreshments, and a closing celebration. (Some events have additional facility fees or team fees.) Events include: Badminton, Basketball, Billiards, Bocce, Bowling, Bridge, Checkers, Chess, Cribbage, Ballroom and Social Dancing, Square Dancing, Darts, Euchre, Field Events, Fishing, Golf, Putt & Chip, Horseshoes, Lawn Bowling, Pepper, Pickleball, Power Lifting, Punt-Pass-Kick, Racquetball, Road Race 5K, Scrabble, Senior Smarts, Trap & Skeet Shooting, Shuffleboard, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Track and Walking. More than 600 volunteers get involved: distributing posters/brochures, soliciting door prizes, event check-in, refreshments, sport timers, monitors, health/safety personnel, and more. All receive a T-shirt and the joy of promoting healthy aging. FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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Local » Focus she met Michael, her husband of 14 years. Together, aside from career work, they care for their two boxers, Tawny and Titan. Richards’ desire to give back made Outback Steakhouse a perfect fit for her. As Managing Partner of Winter Haven’s restaurant for more than three years of her almost six with the company, she is extremely active with fundraisers for local schools and community organizations. Richards appreciates the generosity of OSI suppliers/vendors for the menu that featured Bloomin’ Onions, Calamari, Boule Bread with Herbs and Olive Oil, Cavatappi Amatriciana, Chargrilled Steaks, Ravioli, and Cheesecake.

Operation Feeding Freedom VIII: Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill feed troops in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Dawn Richards, Managing Partner for Outback Steakhouse, delivers Carrabba’s Calamari to Armed Forces at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.

Dawn Richards of Outback Returns from Operation Feeding Freedom VIII Steakhouse D Written By: Cheryl Johnston | Photos courtesy of OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC

awn Richards has just returned from a trip she will never forget - the kind that humbles one.

The 2009 Outback Partner of the Year joined 27 other Outback Steakhouse International (OSI) American volunteers to bring U.S. & Coalition Forces a taste of home in Operation Feeding Freedom VIII. During the 18-day trip to Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, the volunteers served 88,000 pounds of food to 38,000 troops. Richards, herself an 8-year Air Force veteran computer programmer, was impressed most by the “amazing humility, hospitality, and thankfulness of the young troops.” She said, “Experiencing this was enough to give you goosebumps all day every day.” She described the camaraderie sensed as her group fed at three different dining facilities - a transient base in Kyrgyzstan, Camp Leatherneck, and a forward operating base. They experienced flight in two different helicopters, an Osprey and a CH53 and also worked with a Medi-vac team, the rescuers who increase survival rates to 98%. Richards visited a wounded warriors center and witnessed exceptional perseverance and concern for returning to their unit. According to a December 10th company

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press release, this year’s mission represented the “largest feeding of troops to date by OSI and involved volunteers from all five of the Company’s brands: Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine.”

Richards discovered her passion for the restaurant industry after military service, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Marketing from the University of South Florida, and working for a privately owned restaurant in the Keys. It was there

What Richards hopes all Americans remember about those who so selflessly sacrifice is that “these soldiers are our own, and they are protecting our freedom. These are the intelligent and patriotic boys and girls next door who display incredible fortitude because they care about their country, each other, and us.” She learned that troops are fighting the Taliban now in an effort to stop the growth of poppies, which supply 40% of the world’s opium. Her advice as to how we can help: “Say thank you to every military person you meet and encourage their families waiting here through actions and donations. They need our love and support until they’re all safely home again.”

With establishments in 49 states and Outbacks in 22 countries, OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC, founded in 1988 and headquartered in Tampa, is one of the largest casual dining restaurant companies in the world. Its founders “believe in hospitality, sharing, quality, being courageous and having fun!” Operation Feeding Freedom is part of OSI’s ongoing commitment to support the troops. Earlier this year with the help of its customers, Outback Steakhouse donated $1 million to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that provides everyday and emergency support for active troops, veterans and their families. To date, in eight trips since the initial OFF in 2002, over 150 OSI volunteers have served 167,000 troops at numerous bases and forward command locations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf.

two of medevac guys holding the Outback banner on top of the Black Hawk


Local » Focus Help happens in two ways: Books and cash. Authors donate their royalties, or part of their income from sale of their books. Publishers donate books. Everyone can make a tax-deductible cash donation to meet the emergency and unexpected needs of the Veterans. All sales proceeds benefit Books for Boots, which has no overhead, payroll, or reimbursed expenses. The charity banks to spend nearly 100% of its donated income on its cause, exceeding the IRS requirement of 80%. Monies from the fundraisers are provided to a general purpose fund at one of the 17 participating VA hospitals and the hospital chaplain determines how it is used to help in specific situations at that time.

Books for Boots R Written By: Cheryl Johnston | Photos courtesy of Rick & Linda Gelinas ick Gelinas and his wife Linda dream big - and they take bold steps to see those dreams realized.

Books for Boots, a 501c(3) charitable organization was conceived when Rick realized that somebody needed to do something to help our wounded warriors. In 2007, the lonely tears of a one-armed soldier in the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital moved the retired Navy veteran of the Korean Conflict, Gelinas, to action. The tearful Army Ranger whose right shoulder, arm, and portion of a rib cage were missing had a wife and 3-month-old baby too far away to afford a visit. When Gelinas called the VA the next day to inquire about help for this soldier, he was told, “There is no VA money to help families travel. It’s a nationwide need at all four VA special care hospitals. More than 8,000 badly hurt veterans are in those poly-trauma units, and more arrive each day.” Gelinas reacted: “I was angry. Linda and I talked and that day we decided to do something. We had 24 years’ experience jointly running a non-profit, including all the

Local Authors Aid Wounded Warriors

Hardcover books, inscribed to the buyer or designate, can be purchased online at www. BooksForBoots.org or at the authors’ Winter Haven home for $24 US. The first chapter is available as a no cost download at www. readourbook.com. Phone (863) 298-8748 for more details or to join the cause.

fundraising, and now it looked as though we hadn’t retired from that hard work after all.” Now because of Books for Boots, the retired educators are busier than most who have full-time jobs. Now they write and selfpublish (www.orphispublishing.com) as a team under the pen names Axel and Linda Hansen in honor of Linda’s grandfather, Axel Hansen, who died a war hero. The Vengeance Trap, their multiple award-winning adventure/romance novel, is a story of family and forgiveness. In 2007 the couple launched their 501(c)3 to help the family of hospitalized veterans afford travel costs for bedside visits. This in turn can expedite healing and recovery. The organization’s all-volunteer board of directors encourages corporations and individuals to get involved by hosting booksigning parties as fundraisers for the cause. The Gelinases make the process effortless, so it’s a win-win for the hosts and the wounded warriors. They hope others will care enough to help, too. Rick said, “I know what I have described here is a fantastic dream. Working on big dreams helps keep me alive. Love helps a lot, too.” FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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T

his is our second year of letting our readers tell us where to eat, and this year you told us loud and clear. So many of you voted by ballot or online that it took a lot of effort and many hours to count votes. Last month we let you know who the top three restaurants were in each of the 20 categories. Just after Christmas we were a rolling awards show, visiting each of the winners and delivering their plaques. All of the owners and managers we visited commented on how much it means to be recognized by their patrons and neighbors. So thank you, readers, for voting and letting us know where the good stuff can be found.

2010 FOCUS

This year you gave a nod to some perennial favorites, but some new places got your attention, too. A few places were recognized in more than one category. Here are your, our Focus Readers’ choices for 2010. Congratulations to all our winners, and we hope more readers join us this year to let us know where we should feast.

Fred’s Southern Kitchen – Best Home Cooking & Best Fried Chicken

Scores Family Sports Cafe– Best Breakfast & Best Cuban Sandwich

Fred’s buffet style dining with all the great foods we southerners call comfort food may also be the best value. Cornbread, fried green tomatoes, greens, and catfish can be found on the buffet with many other true southern traditional foods. The Winter Haven restaurant opened in 2010, and judging by the crowds that gather for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s definitely a hit. What’s more, the food is good. You can order off a menu, but I ask you, why? If you’re visiting us from some other part of the country and you want to eat like a real cracker, but haven’t been invited to a native’s house for Sunday dinner – then Fred’s is your best bet.

Scores held on to these titles for the second year in a row. This family sports café style restaurant is located in downtown Winter Haven in the building where the first Publix was located. Packed with local business people for breakfast and lunch Dean Crowell, the owner, and staff stay pretty busy. If you’re not familiar with the Cuban, them our readers would encourage you to give it a try at Scores. It is a local favorite. The atmosphere may remind you of that famous TV sports bar “Cheers”. It’s a comfortable place where you can enjoy great food anytime, and you will always feel welcome.

Arabella’s – Best Italian & Most Romantic

Azteca Mexican Restaurant – Best Mexican & Best Overall Service

I love Italian food and it is obvious our readers do, too. Arabella’s overpowered last year’s winner Carrabba’s for Best Italian and held onto the title of Most Romantic. The décor and atmosphere created by Arabella’s owners is certainly perfect for a romantic dinner. It is also a great place for business lunches and meetings. The food is awesome and the staff always attentive. They also own the Ave. Bar, which is perfect for before or after dinner cocktails. Keeping things Italian, they opened up the Pizza Bistro, which may be in contention next year for Best Pizza.

Azteca is a new entry in this year’s voting and hands down takes away the most coveted title, that of Best Overall Service. Voters loved the south of the border menu, but they really loved how they were treated. Manager Azaul Preciado attributes the votes of our readers to a team approach to service. His staff is trained to not only look after the needs of their guests, but to look after the needs of every guest. There are a limited number of Mexican restaurants, but the Best Overall Service award takes in every restaurant in Winter Haven. If you’re looking for a south of the border fix – Focus Readers recommend Azteca.

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Smokin Jim’s House of BBQ – Best Barbeque

Another first time winner, Jim’s is located on Havendale Boulevard and claims the title from Sonny’s. All you have to do is walk in and smell the meat cooking to know why our readers selected Jim’s for this title. Jim takes BBQ seriously and slow cooks his meat for hours. All the sides and desserts are made from scratch and you will feast on great BBQ in an atmosphere that feels like your best friend’s backyard.

Hurricane Grill & Wings – Best Hamburger

As a self-proclaimed Hamburger aficionado, I agree with our readers on this one. Many places serve a great burger, but Hurricane’s is our choice for 2010. Owner Irene Kaplanis wants you to know they have great wings, too, and plans on giving two-time winner for Best Wings, Beef O’Brady’s, a run for their money next year.

Beef O’Brady’s – Best Wings

The Beef O’Brady’s concept is simple – a sports bar and restaurant for families. All the fare you’d expect to find in a sports bar, but in an atmosphere where families can enjoy it. Wings have always been the foundation of the menu, and after having served millions if not billions of them, they have, according to our readers, perfected them, which is why they have had the bragging rights for two years in a row.

Richard’s Fine Coffee – Best Coffee

Located in the building that also houses the Winter Haven Library, Richards is our readers’ favorite coffee shop. You’ll always find locals having a cup of their favorite java. Comfortable and relaxing, Focus Readers often hang out and use the free WIFI to connect to the world or simply relax and read a good book.

Longhorn Steakhouse – Best Dessert

Newly remodeled and awarded the “Outstanding Commercial Property Beautification Award” by the Winter Haven Beautification Council, this restaurant offers so much more than dessert, but our readers thought going to Longhorn and not trying one of their signature desserts might border on breaking the law. Managing Partner John Huebner is home grown and his staff takes great pride in serving locals and visitors like they were guest in their own homes.

Outback Steakhouse – Best Steak

We recently covered Outback in our dining review, and our readers think you can’t go wrong letting your teeth sink into one of their great steaks for the second year in a row. Dawn Richards, Proprietor, and her staff will make sure everything is as perfect as they can make it, and this year they will offer the option of preparing your steak over an oak-fired grill, which ups the ante for any restaurant that hopes to take away the prize next year.

Sundown Southern Eatery – Best Salad

Sundown is another new entry this year. Our readers were impressed with their fresh salad, but Michael Johnson, Managing Partner, thinks that next year their casual atmosphere and new menu will make them contenders for several other awards. The menu offers something for everyone, including some dishes that offer a twist on a few southern classics.

Harry’s Old Place – Best Seafood

Locals know all about Harry’s and have voted them best seafood for two years in a row. Located on Ned Lake off Cypress Gardens Road, Harry’s serves lunch and dinner to locals and visitors in a relaxed atmosphere. Daily specials and fresh entrees are the secret to their bragging rights that Focus readers choose Harry’s when they want seafood. FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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Andy’s Igloo – Best Milkshake

Since 1951 Andy’s has been serving great food and cold treats to the Winter Haven Community and our guests from elsewhere. This may be the safest category in our awards, because generations after generation of happy loyal customers are not likely to vote for anybody else. For the last two years nobody’s even come close.

Career Opportunity

Iamsterdam – Best Soup This award goes to momma. Iamsterdam is a family-run business that focuses on offering healthy and tasty food. Momma makes the soups from scratch, and our readers thought hers are the best. They are located on Cypress Gardens Boulevard near the Legoland Park. We’ll see if our readers vote for their new concept Iampasta this year.

Focus Magazine is looking for account managers to joing our team in 2011.

Responsibilities include: Appointment setting and presenting marketing plans to prospective clients. Being able to persuade customers to purchase print and online advertising by presenting proposals on how we can increase business. Develop and maintain relationships with clients. Resolve customer problems and communicates with other departments to assure quality service. Ensure proper/effective input from client for advertising campaign development and evaluation Skills: • Six months or more of related experience (preferred). • Ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and public. • Ability to use computer programs: word, excel, internet. • Extreme focus on client service: client retention and growth • Multi-tasker

Pasquale’s Pizza – Best Pizza

Another newcomer this year, this is a family operated business in a category where there is plenty of competition. Conveniently located by Winter Haven Dodge on Cypress Gardens Boulevard, our readers think their pizza is a must try.

Best Server – Donna at Scores

MAGAZINE

Office 813.707.8783 Fax 813.764.0990 702 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd. • Plant City, FL 33563 OWN A FOCUS MAGAZINE. LICENSING OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE. CALL FOR MORE INFORMATION.

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A new category this year designed to recognize the hard work and importance of servers in our area restaurants. While there are many great servers, our readers identified three by name. Betsy at Outback and Cami at Carolina Burger garnered lots of votes, but Donna at Scores won with the most.


PRESENTING SPONSORS Budweiser • Frasier ContraCting • H. r. Baxter & sons, inC. • Hunter PlumBing Krieger eleCtriC, inC. • lenora ConstruCtion & environmental, llC • max 98.3 Fm • Party rentals PuBlix • PuBlix CHarities • texas Cattle ComPany BOSS HOG SPONSORS a ward design • Bright House networks • Central Florida visitors & Convention Bureau • Cypress water sports Fields equipment • Jarrett gordon Ford • Kerry & Buffy wilson •  Kyle smith allstate inc. • raley groves • rick’s BBQ teCo •  today and tonight magazine •  tucker Paving, inc. • vines grill & wine Bar •  waldo wright’s Flying service Hog sPonsors Americom•BabcockFurniture&MoreEagleLake•  Capt.DennisKochan•CenstateContractors,Inc.•CheneyBrothers•ColoradoBoxedBeef Crosby&Associates,Inc.•ElectricMotorsLiftStationService,Inc.•Ewing,Blackwelder&DuceInsurance,Inc.•FocusMagazine•  FoodPartners GraybarElectric•J&JElectric•JeffR.ScarbroughPA,CPA•LamarAdvertising•  LastStageoutofTown•  MechanicalDynamics,Inc.•Pepsi  RedDoorWineMarket•  SammyDuvalWatersports•  Stephan&JenniferOliva•  Stericycle•  SyscoCorporation•The610Corporation Piglet sPonsors AmericanElectric•Bobby&BethMerritt•CentralFLPestManagement•Cutrale•DaysInnWinterHaven•DonleyCitrus•DunsonHarvesting,Inc. KBStaffing•LarryGohn’sMarineConstruction•MarkHannahDesigns•  M&JLands•MizDaisyEntertainment•PabloLorrea•  RSCEquipmentRental SwampBoysBBQ•TuckerElectric•WGRoe&Sons,Inc. oinKer sPonsor Bolton’sTowing•BrianPearceInvestments,Inc.•CopyWorld•FarmerJackProduce•  NewAgeStaffing•Refrigeration&ElectricSerivce,Inc.

FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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Persons of the Year

WINTER HAVEN KIWANIS CLUB B

eginning with this issue, January 2011, Focus Magazine will acknowledge a person or a group of people who have made a significant contribution to our community. Our first annual Persons of the Year are the members of the Winter Haven Kiwanis Club. Over the last twelve months we have covered a great number of active people and groups engaged in philanthropic activities that directly impact our community for the better. Many of these folks could have been selected, but we selected the Kiwanis Club for the following reasons – 1. Almost every story we heard or event we attended involved folks from the Kiwanis club. They are everywhere - from supporting Habitat for Humanity, The Humane Society, Chamber of Commerce, Winter Haven Hospital Foundation, as well as their own projects like Stuff the Bus, which this year raised over $70,000 for much needed school supplies. During our coverage of the Stuff the Bus Campaign we were inspired when we saw what a group of dedicated and active people could accomplish. 2. The Kiwanis Club’s focus on kids. Our community needs all the other groups and people working together to build a brighter future, but the future is our children and nothing could be more important today than reaching out to those kids who are most vulnerable. That is just what this club does. One child at a time. 3. Our local Kiwanis Club was recognized again this year as the Florida club of the year. They’ve won it before, but this is the first time a club has been selected, out of the 281 clubs in Florida, two years in a row.

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Congratulations to the Kiwanis Club and thanks. You prove that a small group of people with a clear direction and purpose can change the world. We attended a regular meeting of the club and talked to current president Amanda-Jo Nicholson about the club, their efforts, and what it means to be recognized for their outstanding efforts. Focus: What is the mission of Winter Haven Kiwanis Club? Nicholson: The Kiwanis mission is very simple: “Serving the children of the world.” As a club we try to stay focused on the application of this, keeping this at the heart of all we do. Kiwanis helps us to do this, with the qualifying statement” being changing the world, one child and one community at a time.” Focus: What are some of the things Kiwanis members support every year? Nicholson: Our Kiwanis Club supports many annual events as well as on-going programs both directly as Kiwanis and by supporting other local organizations. Our annual Stuff the Bus campaign provides school supplies to 16 schools and 6 Head Start programs. The Reading is Fundamental program provides books for approximately 200 children. With this program we actually get to spend time reading with the Head Start program children, and we work in 6 different schools throughout the year, reading with and encouraging their interest in books, reading and learning in general. Our Every Child is a Swimmer program now runs twice a year, and children from local schools overcome their fear of water and are given life skills which will not only save their lives should they ever fall in to water, but give them confidence, too. We support 5 student programs, in elementary schools, middle schools and both local high schools. These groups are student-led and instill leadership and confidence in our student members. This also keys in to our scholarship program, which allows us to support students on into their college education.

Continued on paGe 15


The “Holiday Families” program is one in

Continued from paGe 14 which we work with the Women’s Resource

Center here in Winter Haven to provide over 20 local families with much needed groceries over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. World’s Children is an international focus for us, and our club sponsors 6 children and several projects each year in Africa and Asia, providing them with the education needed for a successful future. Focus: Outside of these things, what else has your club taken on in the last year? Nicholson: I’m extremely proud to announce that our club is to partner with Habitat for Humanity in building their 100th house in Polk County. This house is to be dedicated in the name of Mr. Carroll Teeter, who was a long serving Kiwanian and a founding member of Habitat here in Polk County. Sadly, Carroll passed away in 2010, and he is greatly missed, so we welcomed this chance to partner with Habitat, First Presbyterian Church and the Roe Family to provide a family with a home of their own. (Note: the Kiwanis Club donated seed money to the first house Habitat for Humanity built in Polk County.) Focus: What does it mean to your members to be the club of the year 2 years in a row, and to be Focus Magazine’s first annual Persons of the Year? Nicholson: I think all our members were extremely proud to be named Club of the Year, but while it is nice to receive the accolades from one’s peer group, I think each club member is more proud of the fact that this means we helped and had a positive impact on many children’s lives…which is what is really important. Being Focus Magazine’s Persons of the Year is a huge accolade, especially as we live in such a wonderful community that has so many deserving groups and individuals. I can only hope this will help to highlight our projects,

which may mean even more people want to help and support them…which in turn will mean we are able to help even more families and children. Focus: Are you looking for new members? Nicholson: Always! In fact, I would say it is vital if we are to continue our work that new people come to the club. Not only does that bring more people who are able to help the children, but it introduces new ideas and new ways of doing things, which is key to keeping our events and projects fresh and relevant to the community’s needs. Focus: If someone is interested in becoming a member, how do they go about it? Nicholson: A great place to start is our website www.winterhavenkiwanis.org. This gives a wonderful overview of our club and activities. Or, they can contact any member of the club for more information. Everyone is welcome to come along to the weekly meetings, too. We meet at the Garden Ballroom, 323 3rd Street NW, Winter Haven for lunch each Tuesday from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. – lunch is served from 11:45. On the 4th Tuesday of each month our meeting switches from lunchtime to dinner (to allow members who work and cannot attend lunch meetings to come along). This meeting runs from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. and dinner is served from 5:45. Focus: What is your message to our community? Nicholson: Our Kiwanis Club’s message is simple: We are a service club dedicated to helping the children in our community and the world, through education, guidance and support. My hope for my year as President is that we can help as many children and families as possible, and that I end the year knowing we have made a positive difference in someone’s life.

FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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T H E M O S T A D V A N C E D H E A LT H C A R E I S R I G H T H E R E .

“Winter Haven Hospital is at the forefront of urologic care.”

Sijo Parekattil, M.D. Director of Urology and Robotics Winter Haven Hospital

We are pleased to welcome Sijo Parekattil, M.D., as Director of Urology and Robotics at Winter Haven Hospital. Board certified in Urology, Dr. Parekattil is one of the world’s most renowned robotic microsurgeons having performed more robotic microsurgery procedures than any other surgeon in the world. He joins us full time from the University of Florida College of Medicine and Shands Healthcare and will continue his work as Assistant Professor of Medicine and Co-director of Robotic Surgery in the University’s Urology Department. The addition of Dr. Parekattil provides Polk County men and women with access to university-level urologic research and care—exciting new treatment options for prostate cancer, infertility, chronic groin pain and women’s health. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Parekattil to the Winter Haven community. AN AFFILIATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND SHANDS HEALTHCARE

Compassion. Innovation. Trust. We’re your family’s choice.


Internal Medicine Group

accepting new patients over 16 years old

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147 Avenue a SE Winter Haven, FL 33880 (863) 293-0000

Anniversary Sale!

Our Gifts to You! FREE Natural Down Comforter $180 - $200 Value with king or queen mattress set $799.95 +up *

FREE 100% Cotton Sheet Set up to $119.95 Value with king or queen mattress set $699.95 +up *

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Mattress Sets From $199.95

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with any Purchase $299.95 +up * *Only one (1) gift per purchase (while supplies last) Not Valid with any other offer or discount or on previous sale.

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Futons and Sofa Beds From $299.95

Bedroom Groups From $499.95 5 Drawer Chest From $99.95 Waterbeds & More FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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The

CITRUS

Classic

A benefit for the Winter Haven Hospital Bostick Heart Center

Presented by:

Come celebrate wellness and a healthy lifestyle. Whether you are an avid runner or simply choose to walk, come join us for great fun, T-shirts, awards, and trophies at Auburndale’s Lake Myrtle Sports Complex. All proceeds from The Citrus Classic race will benefit the patients served by Winter Haven Hospital’s nationally recognized Bostick Heart Center.

Saturday, Jan. 22nd, 2011 Lake Myrtle Sports Complex Auburndale For information on how to register, sponsorship opportunities, vendor information, or to volunteer,

call: 863-291-6705

5k race start time: 7:30 am 3 mile walk start time: 8:00 am The Tot-Trot start time: 9:00 am Sponsored by:


business » business profile

Inland Fiber and Data T here are a lot of reasons to be excited about the economic future of East Polk County. We have a great community with positive, determined leadership. Of course there is Legoland, USF Polytech, and someday the high-speed rail station, but any community, like ours, that wants to succeed at creating prosperity has to look into a crystal ball and find the industries of tomorrow. It is not hard to see that hightech enterprises have to be included in any future planning. The great news is that our future is at least in part already here.

The 6/10 Corporation of Winter Haven, a commercial real estate company founded in 1985, owns Inland Fiber and Data, which is a data park in downtown Winter Haven. Inland takes advantage of Winter Haven’s existing infrastructure and geographic location to address a current and future challenge for businesses, especially those with operations on the coast - keeping the high-tech hardware, and the mission critical data stored on it, or communicated through it safe and secure. Inland offers businesses the opportunity to put their hardware inside Inland’s secure data center. A client can lease anything from a little rack space in Inland’s secured

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common area to a private, custom-built data suite with redundant security, power, and communications systems. The data and technology park takes up 4 city blocks with 300,000 square-feet of office and data center space. There is multi-level, cutting edge security, including a system that scans a person’s hand, to insure only authorized persons enter the data center. This level of security along with the redundant power and communications systems provide the safe, secure environment that businesses require.

Every catastrophic event, or near catastrophic event that these client businesses face brings new challenges, like the year Florida was hit by 4 hurricanes. The thought at the time was to safeguard the data, but what happens if they loose power for several days. The data without a place for employees to go would still mean costly shutdowns. Inland, determined to meet the needs of these businesses, now offers back up office space, as well. Whole floors of empty, fully equipped cubicles sit ready for displaced workers to use the in the event described above. Clients that require this level of protection can rent cubicles at the Winter Haven site and activate them during a catastrophic event.

inland fiber and data

Written By: Brent Simmons

Winter Haven is nearly the perfect geographic location because it is 165 feet above sea level, and historically it is out of the major wind area caused by hurricanes. There are multiple roads, which provide multiple ways in and out of the area. Using this and the buildings in downtown that were built to withstand hurricane force winds, Inland has built this high-tech corridor right in downtown. It is the foundation for further development of East Polk County’s growing technology based industries.

P.O. Box 7378 Winter Haven, Florida 33883 www.inlandfiber.com We all know that businesses are more than ever dependent on technology, and we know that this trend is not going to decelerate, but rather grow as the future unfolds. This is why the presence of Inland Fiber and Data here in our downtown is so important, because they are the future. Technology brings jobs - better paying jobs - and it is a growth industry with a sustainable future.


Main Street Winter Haven www.mainstreetwh.com

n w o t n w o D r You

downtown is off to a RunninG staRt

in the neW year!

is needed to maintain a high quality of life here in Winter Haven and feedback is always welcome. Harmony Grits provides a community sing-a-long musical event 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Central Park, downtown. Song books provided. Pickin’ in the Park is held the first Friday of each month. On the second Fridays, feel the beat during a performance featuring various drums. 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Central Park, downtown Winter Haven. Stroll downtown boutiques and listen to the unique stringed sounds of dulcimer music. Fourth Friday of each month, 5 to 8 p.m., Central Park, downtown. For details, call Susan Waddell at 559-7942. It’s going to be a great year for Main Street Winter Haven. I look forward to seeing you downtown!

Karen Thompson,

2

Director Mainstreet Winter Haven

011 is turning out to be as busy and exciting as ever for Main Street Winter Haven. The events and activities in the works are going to keep YOUR DOWNTOWN THE PLACE TO BE throughout the year.

One of our most popular events, a new and improved Bark in the Park, is right around the corner. To allow more of our furry friends to participate, the event has been moved to a cooler time of year. Mark those calendars for Saturday, Feb. 12, from 2 to 8 p.m. and don’t miss Bark in the Park. Thanks to our Top Dog sponsor, Veterinary Healthcare Associates, there will be more activities and demonstrations for the whole family to enjoy - even the humans! Our premier event, Champagne & Shamrocks will be Friday, March 11. A very special evening with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra right here in Winter Haven, Champagne & Shamrocks is a joint effort of Main Street Winter Haven and the Symphony Guild. It is a beautiful way to support the arts in your community and Your Downtown. Family fun is the name of the game with the downtown Beach Party, back by popular demand. Also, warm up your singing voice for the community karaoke contest coming soon. Don’t forget to stop by the monthly Main Street Market Day for a high-end, organic focused street market. Pick up some fresh flowers, baked goods, fresh vegetables and fish. Why drive to a neighboring community when these things are available right here. Everyone’s support

Welcome to The Official Newsletter of Main Street Winter Haven

FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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OTT LAUGHLIN FUNERAL HOME CELEBRATING 76 YEARS OF SERVICE

“We’ll be there when you need us.”

PRE-NEED COUNSELING AND FINANCING LOCAL OR DISTANT BURIAL ARRANGEMENTS CONSULTATION WITHOUT OBLIGATION EDDIE G. ALLEN, MANAGER 645 WEST CENTRAL AVENUE WINTER HAVEN (863) 293-2133

AT GLEN ABBEY 2198 K WILLE AVENUE AUBURNDALE (863) 967-8558

Your Hunting Headquarters We know hunting is a passion, we’ve made it our business, too.

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HARTMAN’S GUNS & AMMO 863-299-7844 226 West Central Avenue | Downtown Winter Haven

2009 FOCUS

NOMINATED FOR:

Best Salad

1100 3rd Street S.W. · Winter Haven, FL · 863-293-0069 www.SundownRestaurant.com 24

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FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

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extra » city of winter haven History of Winter Haven, published in 1974. Arriving from the north, new settlers usually arrived in Florida by railroad at Jacksonville or Cedar Key, then by boat to Sanford or Tampa, again by rail to Kissimmee and then overland to what would become Winter Haven. It was in this fashion that by 1884, the Harris and Eycleshimer families had arrived from Vermont and New York, respectively. These families and many other early settlers, set up camp on the shores of local lakes. Before it was named Winter Haven in 1911, the City was called Harris Corners, in honor of F.A.K. Harris who built the first building in the downtown area where he operated a store. Before Harris built his store, local settlers had to travel to Bartow or Auburndale for provisions, Burr wrote.

As the City of Winter Haven begins a yearit’s interesting of Centennial to Celebration remember our past. N Written By: Joy Townsend

ot long after Florida, a U.S. territory since 1822, became a state in 1845, pioneers began settling in the Winter Haven area. Before that time, the area’s earliest inhabitants were Indians of several different tribes, including Seminoles. The first deeded land owners were several men from England who formed a company known as the Florida Land and

Colonization Company, Ltd., incorporated under the Companies Acts of 1862 to 1880, and whose registered office was in London, England. By the 1880s more of the City’s early settlers had arrived. Many of those names are still recognizable today. For instance, the Inman family, for which the newly redeveloped Inman Park is named, arrived in 1882 to the area that

Kenny Nguyen, M.D. 26

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would become Winter Haven. The Inman family consisted of Dr. Frederick William Inman and his wife, Florence Jewett Inman. They came to the area from Akron, Ohio, in search of warm weather that might help improve Mrs. Inman’s health. Inman family descendants still live in Winter Haven. In those days, there were no roads, just sand trails, according to Josephine Burr’s book,

One of the area’s first ministers was George G. Jackson, a Methodist preacher and school teacher, who purchased land on the west side of Lake Howard in 1881 and brought his family from Kansas. In 1884, the Ecyleshimer family arrived and built the first house of sawed board on the west side of Lake Howard, on land adjoining that of the Jackson’s. According to Burr, it was Peter Ecyleshimer who named the town Winter Haven, with the idea of a winter resort in mind. By 1885, Winter Haven was well on its way to becoming a winter resort, as Dr. and Mrs. Inman had purchased property around Lake Spring and built a 10-room home. Over time, the home was expanded to accommodate visitors from the north, ultimately featuring 45 guest rooms by 1905. As we celebrate 100 years, it’s amazing how some aspects of the City are deeply rooted in Winter Haven’s past.


extra » al reuchel problem with them paying their bills. I have a problem when them denying me access of just watching them play on my TV because enough people didn’t buy a tickets. The Rays don’t do that. The Noles and Gators don’t either. Neither do the Phillies or the Yankees… or I guess I shouldn’t compare them… a different sport. So let’s walk through this one more time. THE NFL believes by blacking out the games more of us will want to go to the stadium to watch the games. Let’s face it… missing the Bucs one Sunday could probably bring on COPD or a heart attack. Why would I want to go to the stadium when I can have a better sporting experience in my living room? Isn’t that what you wanted to create with the NFL experience? The food is cheaper, there are no lines to the restrooms, I don’t have some obnoxious drunk losing his ten dollar hotdog all over my seat, and I don’t have to sit in the sun, or fight the traffic. Here’s another positive for watching from home. I get to see those yard markers and actually see the line for the first down. My replays come quicker and I can actually see them verses watching them on the jumbotron… when the home team allows it. I can fly over the quarterbacks shoulder and see the catch, the run, the kick from 30 differen5t angles,

NFL Blackouts T

wo disclaimers right off the top. I’m not a season ticket holder and I’m not a sports expert. But, please! These blackouts are stupid. Does the NFL really think more people will come to the Bucs games because we aren’t allowed to watch them on TV? Show me how that policy has increased ticket sales or made fans more loyal to their team.

Now add another wrinkle to this debate. Aren’t Hillsborough taxpayers footing part of the bill for Raymond James Stadium? Okay, so the Bucs do lease the stadium from the Tampa Sports Authority and as the leasee do have the right to set their own policies. I get it. But the stinking NFL wants us

And did I mention how much money I save? I can buy a new computer or a 52 inch flat screen or go to Disney for a week, well, maybe four days. I could buy 50 NFL jerseys. For the cost of one ticket I could go to Burns or Outback or treat the entire family to a great meal at the Olive Garden.

could backfire! Written By: Al Reuchel

to feel some kind of loyalty to a team we can’t even watch on our local TV which is supposed to be free over the air?

the teams exist. They believe if they put a winning team on the field enough fans should be buying tickets to keep the place

Why would I want to go to the stadium when I can have a better sporting experience in my living room? Isn’t that what you wanted to create with the NFL experience?

Problem with the NFL and sport franchises in general is that they tend to believe that the public owes them loyalty simple because

Or, and here’s the part the Bucs aren’t going to like…. I could become a fan of a team outside the Bay Area… maybe Miami.. or Jacksonville… or even Green Bay. Gosh, the options are endless. Maybe this blackout thing isn’t such a bad idea after all. It might force me to concentrate on the things in life that really matter like going to church on Sunday, spending time with my family, enjoying the company of a good book, casting a line into a local lake, taking a bike ride or taking a walk with my wife. A football-less Sunday is sounding better and better.

packed… so they can make more money… excluding the money they will already make from their television contracts. I’ve got no FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

27


dining & entertainment » entertainment Hillsborough Arts Council that recommends teaching artists to public schools for workshops and district-wide Poetry Jam competitions. “ranney,” who prefers his marquee name spelled with a lowercase r, has headlined at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Comedy Cellar in Dublin, and London’s The Comedy Store. He was the premiere comedian for “Laff Tuesdays,” the worldfamous Apollo Theatre’s professional comedy club in Harlem. He has shared billing with Paul Mooney, Bill Bellamy, and Martin Lawrence and opened for Eddie Griffin, Kathleen Madigan, REO Speedwagon, and the Sugar Hill Gang. After traveling the world and earning acclaim everywhere he appeared, Lawrence returned home in 2004 to teach acting, solo performance, and stand-up comedy at the David A Straz, Jr.’s Patel Conservatory. He also works at detention centers with troubled kids and adults, helping them to “pre-think” with an eye toward prevention. He is one of a few who have played every theater in the bay area. Additionally, he appears five times weekly at Disney’s American Idol Experience.

Ranney Lawrence Actor, Comedian, and Poet Educates the Next Generation of Performance Artists Written By: Cheryl Johnston | photos courtesy of R.M. Lawrence

H

e’s been called a “one man industry.”

Meet professional actor, comedian, director, writer, pianist, and poet Ranney Lawrence, who enjoys sharing his talent - on the stage and in the classroom with audiences of any age. Known in comedy circles as The Illuminatus and Mr. FunnyBlackMan, the 42-yearold Winter Haven native discovered his talent for drama through two mentors in particular. The first was Tex Hall, a 7th-8th grade English teacher at Mulberry Middle School who developed a drama program to engage students in literature. For playing Mayberry Flutter, the nerd in A Little Red Schoolhouse, Lawrence earned the Best Actor Award for 1982.

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The second mentor was George Randolph, theater department head at Polk State College for many years. Lawrence praised Randolph: “He was someone I’ve tried to model myself after as an educator. Overall, he had a greater knowledge of humanities and drama than anyone I’ve ever known. He taught that knowledge was something you took care of, like something precious.” Lawrence compared the gift this man bestowed as “similar to when grandma cooks a great meal. Randolph always made sure there was understanding, love, and respect in what he shared.” This respect prompted Lawrence’s passion for education and he has been a teaching artist since age 20. In addition to time invested in his own career growth, he invests many hours training others for live performance. He works closely with the

Lawrence’s wife, Susan Stone-Lawrence, is also an award-winning theatre professional. Today, the Lawrence family includes their rescued pets: Clopin, a 12-year-old lab/chow mikx named for ranney’s favorite Disney

character, The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s court jester; Verusca, a domestic short-haired cat; and two turtles - one named 22 (rescued on Susan’s 22nd birthday in 1994) and the other, Hercules (rescued 1996 on Hercules Avenue in Clearwater where Lawrence almost stepped on him). Their beloved 20-year-old Siamese cat, Dr. Witty, died recently. On January 28, the versatile performer appears at the David A. Straz, Jr.’s Performing Arts Center’s TECO Theater, along with other guest teachers for the Hillsborough County School District “Poetry Slam” event. This spring, he will remount his own one-man show, The Chicken or the Egg. His best advice for up-and-comers: “Give them you.” According to David Jenkins of Tampa’s Jobsite Theater, Lawrence does just that. “Anything that “ranney” touches is somehow better from it. A truly unique, charismatic, gifted, spirited and loquacious sage - this man … believes in and loves what he does … He has a gift that eludes most in this business. All this in about the most unassuming of packages.” To learn more or invite ranney to perform or teach, visit www.itsranney.com.


dining & entertainment » dining profile recommend the pie with ice cream. The food was great and it is easy to suggest that you stop and give it a try. What the folks who have known Elmo and Linda know, and what we discovered, was that while you should try it because of the great food and service, what will bring you back is the two of them and the atmosphere they create. They really like their customers and are committed to making you feel like you’re eating at home.

Elmo’s and Linda’s Magical Dining Old Town Square 353 3rd Street NW Winter Haven, FL 33881 863-514-5382 molinda1983@aol.com

Elmo’s and Linda’s Magical Dining Old Town Square T Written By: Brent Simmons

hey are back, and from what we are hearing there are a lot of folks excited about it. Who are they? Elmo and Linda Bennett, who owned and operated Shady Oaks Café in Winter Haven for 10 years. Shady Oaks was a one-of-akind restaurant, a local treat, and a huge success. However, three years ago, Elmo and Linda had a chance to sell the place and take some time to travel. The move caused regular patrons, who had grown used to the great food, garden setting, and friendly atmosphere a little consternation.

Elmo was born and raised in Winter Haven, and Linda moved down from Tennessee when she was young. The two met and became a dynamic duo in the restaurant business. Linda, Elmo is quick to point out, runs the business, while Elmo is the front man. He works the crowd, seats folks, and even entertains them with his famous magic tricks. Earlier this year Shady Oaks closed. The new owners were not able to capture the magic Linda and Elmo had created. This; however, gave Linda and Elmo an opportunity to get back in the game, and they have. They’ve opened Elmo’s and Linda’s Magical Dining inside the charming Old Town Square in downtown Winter Haven. With seating inside and in the courtyard, the restaurant reminds me of a sidewalk cafe, and

sure enough, while Linda and her staff, many who were with her for years at Shady Oak, do magic with the food, Elmo is out front talking to guests and doing his own magic to make the dining experience memorable. “Since we opened we’ve seen many of our old friends,” Linda told us. “In fact many of them have brought people in without telling them where they were going, just to surprise them. It is a great feeling to know how many people are really excited about us being back.” While we were there we meet a customer that has been to the new restaurant several times and each time she brings a different friend or family member. What better recommendation than to see former patrons taking it on themselves to bring new customers into the family. From the charming atmosphere to a great menu with diverse offerings, this is one cool place. We shared the fruit plate with chicken salad. Covered in no less than fifteen different types of fresh fruit surrounding home made chicken salad, this could be a meal all by itself. We then sampled the bacon, mushroom quiche, and the Cottage Pie. Linda hovered nearby to be sure that everything was perfect and Elmo spent time talking to us about his life, his love (Linda), and his hometown. He also did a little magic trick for us. We couldn’t leave without dessert and we tried the mixed berry pie and the fluff (a dessert made by Linda). I FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

29


entertainment » eVent Calendar

winteR haven

Calendar of eVents

if you have an upcoming event and would like us to add it to our calendar of events please email the information to: editorial@floydpublications.com

satuRday, Jan. 1, 2011

satuRday, Jan. 8, 2011

» Antiques Arts & Oddities in Downtown Lake Wales 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM The folks from It’s Happening Downtown have a very special day lined up with special events and activities for the whole family. But, while this event is held on the first Saturday of every month in the Market Place, it’s never the same twice. Location : Marketplace in Downtown Lake Wales Contact : It’s Happening Downtown at 863-5283188 or 863-604-2800 for details or vendor tables.

» Watercolor Painting Class - Lake Wales Public Library The Lake Wales Public Library will host a sixweek Watercolor Painting Class on Saturday afternoons, 1:00 to 3:00 PM, beginning January 8, 2011. Award-winning watercolor artist, Don Porter will teach this series. » New Resolution Kick Off Party - Winter Haven Family YMCA Join the Winter Haven Family YMCA on January 8 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM in making a commetment to your health! Please call 863-2920922 for more information.

monday, Jan. 3, 2011 » Hope Hospice Grief Support Group The support group is for anyone who has experienced a loss through death in the last year or two and is open to guidance and support from professional counselors and their peers who have also had losses. This is a community outreach of Hope Hospice and is free of charge. Meetings are Monday mornings, 10:30, at the Lake Wales Public Library. Hope Hospice & Community Services is located at 1525 Lakeland Hills Blvd., Lakeland, Fl., 33805

tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011 » Building Blocks to the Future - Draft Document Review - City of Winter Haven Winter Haven Library, 325 Avenue A NW This meeting is to present and discuss the complete draft document which has been developed over the past 6 months – Building Blocks to the Future: 2025 Winter Haven Comprehensive Plan, the long-term guide for growth and development in Winter Haven. Call 291-5600×249 for more information and be a part of the plan!

wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 » January First Wednesday Breakfast - Winter Haven Chamber The First Wednesday Best Business Practices Breakfast is a great way to meet other Chamber members, have a great breakfast and learn about the latest business topics. The breakfast buffet is $10 for members and $20 for non-members and features local professionals sharing their expertise on a variety of subjects. Program: A Conversation with Gary Hester, Winter Haven’s Chief of Police. » Relaxation Yoga at Your Library Mondays & Wednesdays - 5:30 PM - Relaxation Yoga - All levels - $10 single class, 4 classes/$32, 8 classes/$60 - Classes do not expire, take them at any time call 678-4004 for details For details on this and other Library Activities go to www. mypclc.org Location : 290 Cypress Gardens Lane, Lake Wales

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january 2011 myfocustv.com

thuRsday, Jan. 13, 2011 » Taste of Haines City - Haines City Parks and Recreation 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Taste of Haines City will be held at the spectacular Lake Eva Banquet Hall, 799 Johns Avenue, Haines City. Join us as the area’s finest restaurants and caterers offer samplings of their most popular foods. Ticket price includes complimentary wine and beer at $25 per person. Children under 5 are free! Entertainment is scheduled for the evening. Tickets can be purchased at the Community Center, 555 Ledwith Avenue, Haines City. For more information, please call 863-421-3700. » “Branding ‘You, Inc.’” WHYPG Speaker / Social - Winter Haven Young Professionals Group 5:30 – 7:00 PM in the Chamber’s auditorium when Brent Simmons from FOCUS Magazine will speak on personal branding. A conversation

about you and marketing yourself. A little bit of history, inspiration, and a lot about you and how you can take advantage of this particular time in our history to build your own personal brand and stand apart from the crowd in your career. Brent Simmons – by building his brand, he went from being a high school dropout to Editor-in-Chief of an international, high-end Real Estate magazine. Come hear him speak!

satuRday, Jan. 15, 2011 » Disc Golf Tournament at Lake Aurora Location : 237 Golden Bough Road, Lake Wales Contact : 696-1102

monday, Jan. 17, 2011 » Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday - Bok Tower Gardens Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Carillon Concerts January 17 — 1 & 3 PM Celebrate the life of humanitarian and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., who, like Gardens’ founder Edward Bok, championed the cause of unity among all people. Included with general admission. www.boktowergardens.org; 863-6761408

tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 » Moonlight Carillon Concert - Bok Tower Gardens Moonlight Carillon Concert January 18 at 7:30 PM Experience the Gardens in a different light during the 2011 Moonlight Carillon Concert series. It’s a unique opportunity to visit the Gardens after normal operating hours for halfprice admission and have a light dinner at the Blue Palmetto Café which will remain open until the hour-long concert begins. 863.676.1408; www. boktowergardens.org

satuRday, Jan. 22, 2011 » Children’s Hope Classic Golf Tournament at Lekarica Golf Course Sixth Annual Golf Tournament, 4 man Scramble 8:30 AM shotgun start, lunch & prizes. This one day event provides Food, Shelter, Medicine, Education & Love for Hope Center Orphan Children. Call Ralph & Judy Riedel for more details 863-676-0517. » Lake Wales Car Show 4:00 PM Fourth Saturday of every month. Location: in Historic Downtown Lake Wales Contact: Larry Bossarte 863-207-3402

thuRsday, Jan. 27, 2011 » January Showcase - Winter Haven Chamber 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM Kick off the New Year networking with us on Thursday, January 27 at the Chamber’s January Networking Showcase, co-hosted by Expedia Cruise Ship Center, Cruise Link Travel Inc, and Crown Shredding. The event will be held at Sundown Southern Eatery, located at 1100 3rd Street SW in Winter Haven.

satuRday, Jan. 29, 2011 » 82nd Anniversary Celebration - Bok Tower Gardens 9 AM – 5 PM; Carillon Concerts at 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Commemorate the 82nd anniversary of the 1929 dedication of the Edward W. Bok’s gift of gratitude to America. See the Great Brass Door during “Crossing the Moat,” a rare opportunity to walk across the moat that surrounds the Singing Tower. www.boktowergardens.org; 863.676.1408

Isn’t it beautiful? Let’s keep it that way!


FOCUS Magazine winter haven january 2011

31


The Willow Tree Story.

Artist Susan Lordi hand carves each original Willow Tree速 sculpture. Using family and friends as models, Susan tries to capture a moment in time, or express a feeling.

FOCUS Winter Haven 03-08  

FOCUS Magazine Winter Haven Edition Issue 03-08

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