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Inside:

Volume 22 Issue 5

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March 1, 2014

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The Direct - Mail News Magazines Serving New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Since 1993! THIS INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY NEWS MAGAZINE IS DIRECTLY MAILED TO: NEW TAMPA: Arbor Greene • Cory Lake Isles • Cross Creek • Easton Park • Grand Hampton • Heritage Isles • Hunter’s Green • Hunter’s Key • K-Bar Ranch Lake Forest • Live Oak Preserve • Pebble Creek • Richmond Place • Tampa Palms • The Hammocks • West Meadows WESLEY CHAPEL: Aberdeen • Belle Chase • Bridgewater • Brookside • Chapel Pines • Country Walk • Lexington Oaks • Meadow Pointe • New River • Northwood • Pinewalk • Pine Ridge Saddlebrook • Saddleridge Estates • Saddlewood • Seven Oaks • The Lakes at Northwood • The Villages of Wesley Chapel • Watergrass • Wesley Pointe • Westbrook Estates • Williamsburg

Freedom Falls In Regional Finals; Wharton Wins Fifth Straight District Title By Matt Wiley

It’s been quite a year for both the Wharton High Wildcats and Freedom High Patriots boys basketball teams in their respective runs at a state title, each setting impressive milestones for their schools that will live on as some of these players graduate and move on to college. This especially is true for head coach Cedric Smith’s Patriots (19-6), who have created a new name for themselves as this year’s Class 7A, District 8 champs, with a solid 8-2 final record in the District. Just three game after winning their first District hoops title since 2005, the Freedom boys’ sensational season came to halt against the Bartow High Yellow Jackets (20-10) on February 22, falling 69-54. Although the Patriots battled to continue their State title run, they couldn’t overcome Bartow’s strong inside game. Trailing 17 points with seven minutes left to play, Freedom capitalized on two consecutive Bartow turnovers that brought the Pats within 11, but it was the closest they would come to defeating the Yellow Jackets. Humble in his third season, despite coaching his team to its second-ever District title, taking down area rival Wharton for the first time in eight years and

making it all the way to the FHSAA Regional Finals, Smith says that he didn’t expect to go this far heading into the 2013-14 season. “We lost a lot of seniors last year,” Smith explained. “We’ve had a young squad. Typically, younger teams have a tougher time. This season has been beyond my vision. I’m very proud.” However, thanks to attention to detail, the Patriots have prevailed. Smith says that each player has bought into their role on the team, learned to share the ball, resulting in a committed, tight-knit group of players. Standout performances from junior forward Miguel Rojas (av- (Left) Fredom High’s Miguel Rojas puts up a jumper late in the Patriots’ narrow win over Strawberry Crest eraging 6.6 PPG), senior forward High on Feb. 18 in the Class 7A Regional Semi Finals. (Right) Wharton’s captain Jack Taylor drives to the Daniel Thompson (averaging 4 hoop during the Wildcats’ 55-23 blowout District 8A-7 title win over Palm Harbor University on Feb. 13. PPG), sophomore winger Shelfollowed by no call from the referees. strongly the players felt about Smith and don Odunna (averaging 8 PPG) have “It was nerve-racking not being able how motivated they were to get on a roll largely contributed to the Patriots’ suc- to be there and getting updates through- to show their support for him. Smith cess, Smith says. out the game,” Smith says. “It’s really added that he is proud that his players The last six weeks of the regular sea- tough not being able to be there for your developed into a solid squad and set this son were tough, Smith explains, as he team.” Letters sent to the New Tampa milestone for their school. was suspended for the use of profanity, Neighborhood News by parents of the “People are now going to know after watching one of his players get in- players on the team indicated that part of that when they play Freedom, it’s going jured when he was knocked down during the reason for the success of the team this to be a fight,” Smith said. “Other teams a breakaway at Spoto High on Dec. 20, season in the coach’s absence was how See ‘Basketball’ on page 43

Logistical Problems Postpone New Tampa Rotary PigFest Indefinitely New Tampa Rotary Club president Peter Gambacorta says he had no choice but to postpone indefinitely this year’s New Tampa Rotary PigFest. This year’s planned tenth annual event had been scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 21-22 at Primrose Park off Commerce Park Blvd. in Tampa Palms, but Gambacorta says he just couldn’t make it happen. The PigFest — an event which was

started ten years ago by New Tampa’s “Breakfast” Rotary Club (which meets Fridays at 7 a.m. at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club) — was last held in 2012 at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church. The 2013 event was actually cancelled, despite its previously successful run, first at TPGCC and then at St. Mark. The annual PigFest, which grew to benefit the charities of as many as six local Rotary Clubs, featured barbecue teams each roasting a pig all night and serving samples

News, Business, Sports & Education Updates

Neighborhood Magazine

By Gary Nager

Also Inside This Issue!

Dist. 63 Primary Race Heating Up, Legacy At Highwoods Preserve Under Way, Freedom & Wharton Students Sign With Colleges, Plus Lots Of Local Business Features & More!

Peppe Is Back At Biagio’s, Tampa Palms Eagle Scout Organizes Book Drive, Honest Abe 5K Raises Thousands, Plus More Neighborhood Nibbles & Biz Bytes!

Pages 1-46

Pages 47-64

the next day for a panel of judges, along with other food, beer and wine, great entertainment and even pie-eating contests and cash prize drawings. “I really had hoped to be able to bring the Rotary PigFest back to its former glory,” says Gambacorta, “but I had to have a committed committee of Rotarians to make it happen. I couldn’t sell 1,000 or more tickets and handle all of the logistics and The 2012 Rotary PigFest brought a sizable crowd to the parking lot at St. planning myself.” Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church on Cross Creek Blvd. This year’s Gambacorta, who planned PigFest 10 has been postponed indefinitely. owns the Private Chef of Tampa catering company, also had planned to expand the PigFest by offering a wild game dinner the night before the big event, but that dinner also has been postponed.


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Editorial — Our Ribbon-Cutting & Anniversary Party & Other News! By Gary Nager

So, my actual 20th anniversary (Feb. 25) as the owner, publisher and editor of this publication has passed as you’re reading this, but the actual party to celebrate my 20 years of owning this publication — and the ribbon-cutting for our new office — are most definitely happening on Thursday, March 6, beginning at 5 p.m., and I am very excited to announce the details in this space. I’m also happy to introduce you to what’s happening not only with our new office, but with some of the plans we have to expand and enhance the news and information we’ve been offering the residents of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel the past two decades. As I mentioned in this space last issue, we have taken over the second floor of the building that still has Carlos FloresGordon’s outstanding Milorian Studios TV, audio and website production studio on the first floor in the Brookside Professional Center, the office plaza located just east of the traffic light and entrance to Saddlebrook Resort Tampa on S.R. 54 (a little more than a mile or so east of both Bruce B. Downs {BBD} Blvd. and I-75), in front of the beautiful Brookside residential community. Well, we’ve been in that office for a little less than a month as I’m writing this and we’ve definitely hit the ground running on the plans for not only the party, but also for how we plan to expand.

New Tampa Neighborhood News 15345 Amberly Dr., Tampa, FL 33647 Phone: (813) 910-2575 Fax: 910-2483

Advertising E-mail: Ads@NTNeighborhoodNews.com Editorial E-mail:  EditorialDept@NTNeighborhoodNews.com Publisher & Editor Gary Nager General Manager Nikki Bennett Assistant Editor / Photographer Matt Wiley Correspondents Bonnie Mason • Lauren Saslow Graphic Design Deb Wolfe Sales & Marketing Assistant Antwon Gildon Nothing that appears in New Tampa Neighborhood News may be reproduced, whether wholly or in part, without permission. Opinions expressed by Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News writers are their own and do not reflect the publisher’s opinion. The deadline for outside editorial submissions and advertisements for Volume 22, Issue 7, of New Tampa Neighborhood News is Monday, March 17, 2014. New Tampa Neighborhood News will consider previously non-published outside editorial submissions if they are double spaced, typed and less than 500 words. New Tampa Neighborhood News reserves the right to edit and/or reject all outside editorial submissions and makes no guarantees regarding publication dates. New Tampa Neighborhood News will not return unsolicited editorial materials. New Tampa Neighborhood News reserves the right to edit &/or reject any advertising. New Tampa Neighborhood News is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond the actual cost of the advertising space itself, nor for the validity of any claims made by its advertisers.

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Neighborhood News

First, the big event. Our ribboncutting ceremony will be conducted by both of our local Chambers of Commerce — the New Tampa and Greater Wesley Chapel Chambers — and that ceremony will kick off the party at right around 5 p.m. or so. We’ll be giving tours of our new office, as well as of Milorian Studios and those tours will culminate with an opportunity for you to be recorded on camera in Carlos’ professional TV studio, whether you want to rave about this publication (or at me), about your experience as an advertiser and/or reader of the New Tampa Neighborhood News or you can even just take 30 seconds to tell us about your business. We plan to post a continuous loop of all of your comments (and some of ours, too) on our website — NTNeighborhoodNews.com — so you can see why we have no idea whether to expect 100 people to show up or 500. We also hope you’ll see what Carlos and Milorian have to offer in terms of equipment and production values and what we can do to help promote you and your business in conjunction with Carlos. But, the party is more than just an opportunity to see yourself on camera. We’ll have the event tented outside our office, delicious catering by the new City Grill (located just down the street from our office in the Wesley Chapel Village Market), a free wine tasting provided by my buddy Hector Gonzalez of Toast Fine Wine & Café in the Oak Ramble Plaza on Bruce B. Downs {BBD} Blvd.), free beer, a free whiskey tasting (which will include Scotch, bourbon and Irish whiskey) and a few hours of karaoke entertainment provided by my friend Gary Carmichael of Gary Carmichael Karaoke. So, whether you really like free food

and adult beverages (and yes, you must have proper ID to prove you’re 21) or you really want to hear me sing (in which case, you really need to get a life), I hope you’ll mark your calendars and realize that the party is less than a week away as you’re reading this. See you on the 6th!

What About The Other Plans?

I also told you last issue that general manager Nikki Bennett and I have been working with consultant Jerry Hurley of Business Sense Solutions to figure out the best possible way(s) to expand what we do in order to serve you better. We’ve talked about publishing some additional magazines, as well as starting a truly local webcast that would be shown on our website and several other possible additional revenue streams, but what I kept coming back to was that we already have the publications that more people in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel read and more businesses want to advertise in than any other because a) we’re directly mailed to more homes in our distribution areas than anyone else and b) because of our superior editorial content. Therefore, we’ve decided that, beginning April 1, we’re going to offer businesses who sign new one-year (13 issues if you advertise only in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel, 26 if you advertise in both areas) agreements additional bang for their buck by offering more feature stories

about your business than ever before. You’ll still get just one “full-length” feature of one-half-to-one-full-page in length, but instead of just one or two small (200-300 words) “Neighborhood Nibbles & Business Bytes” items in addition to that feature per year, your one-year agreement also will now include up to three additional “Spotlight” features that will be a 1/4-page in length, with at least one full-color picture each. That means that every three months or so throughout the year, you’ll be able to focus on one aspect of your business, your own Chamber event or anything else you want us to feature. But, in order to do that, we’re expanding our staff. We’re looking for one great sales person with 3-5 years of sales experience and, preferably (but not required), some media sales background. We’re also always looking for more paid freelance writers, but especially now that we’ll have so many more business features to write. So, if you’re interested in the advertising sales position, submit your resume to Nikki@NTNeighborhoodNews.com. For freelance writing opportunities, email your resume and one short (600 words or less) writing sample to Matt@NTNeighborhoodNews. com. Or, visit NTNeighborhoodNews. com for more details.

Table of Contents

Local News Updates...................................4-17

Dist. 63 Republican Primary Race Heating Up............................................4 The Legacy At Highwoods Preserve Breaks Ground......................8 HART Plans New Tampa Expansion In Next 10 Years.................10 New Tampa News Briefs..............................................................12 Busy Local Bank Robber Busted In Mississippi New Tampa Man Shot In Hunting Accident City Of Tampa Launches Mobile App TPD Warns Of Security Scammers Cockfighting Suspect Busted In WC S.R. 56 To Extend To Zephyrhills Pasco BOCC Approves Baseball Complex Agreement..................12 Grove 16 Shooter Denied Bail Before Trial..................................16

New Tampa Community Calendar....................................18 Night of 5000 Officially Announced.........................................19

Local Business Updates...................22-32

Montessori Academy Will Jumpstart Your Child’s Education.......22 Budget Blinds Adds Inspired Drapes............................................26 Wendelken Studio Of Musical Arts Moves Into Grace Episcopal...30 Christian Bros. Offers The ‘Nice Difference’ In Auto Repair........32 AOL MMA Teaches Martial Arts To All Ages..............................36

Local Sports & Education Updates....40-43 Wharton Cuts Ribbon For New Track Facility..............................40 Freedom, Wharton Students Commit To Colleges.......................42

Neighborhood Magazine Peppe Is Back At Biagio’s..............................................................47 Tampa Palms Eagle Scout Organizes Book Drive For TPE.......51 Honest Abe 5K Raises Thousands...........................................54 La Fuente Mexican Adds Cuban Cuisine & Breakfast!....................58 ‘Neighborhood Nibbles & Business Bytes’.............................60

NEW TAMPA COLOR CLASSIFIEDS...............................62

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Republican Primary Opponents Harrison & Wedding Already Campaigning For Dist. 63 By Matt Wiley

Longtime New Tampa resident Shawn Harrison wants his seat back in Tallahassee and already has begun campaigning to once again become the State Representative for District 63, which includes the New Tampa Shawn Harrison (left) will face off against area that has been represented by U.S. Air Force Maj. Bret Wedding in the August incumbent Dist. 63 Rep. Mark DanRepublican Primary to determine who will take ish (D-New Tampa) since November on Rep. Mark Danish for the Dist. 63 seat. 2012. opportunity to help develop and lead On February 11, Harrison, of city councils,” Wedding explains. the Tampa law firm Shawn Harrison “(The Iraqi people) involved were Associates, spoke at the New Tampa actually doing something because they Chamber of Commerce (NTCC) believed in something greater: a free meeting that held at Hunter’s Green Iraq. They did it at the risk of their Country Club. During the meeting, own lives. They were doing what they Harrison gave Chamber members believed was right at the ultimate risk. a brief background of his political When I got back, I decided that I career, which began when he served as wanted to do something great here.” the chair of the Tampa Palms ComWedding says that he recognizes munity Development District (CDD), that the area, just like the rest of the before he went on to win the District state and country, needs jobs. Howev7 seat on the Tampa City Council and er, he says that what the New Tampa as New Tampa’s state representative. area needs are the right jobs, which “New Tampa has to reinvent its can be brought to the area by incenidentity,” Harrison said. “Years ago, tivizing companies with lower taxes. (New Tampa) was seen as the bed“Bringing good jobs to the area room community of northern Tampa, is my biggest platform,” Wedding exbut now we are maturing as a complains. “People tend to care less about munity.” social issues if they can’t put food on Harrison pointed out that New the table. The economy comes first Tampa is in a unique position just for me.” south of the bustling Wesley Chapel During his career in the U.S. area and begged the question, “How Army, Air Force and private sector, does (New Tampa) play off of Wesley in addition to earning more than 20 Chapel’s growth? New Tampa can’t military medals and other awards just be the northern suburbs of Tampa (including being named the 2011 anymore because those have moved Greater Tampa Chamber of Comfurther north (into Wesley Chapel).” merce Military Officer of the Year), If he is elected again, Harrison Maj. Wedding has a long track record says that he will continue his focus of high- profile leadership positions, on opportunities for small businesses including being the director of opand start-ups, like the many in the erations for an Air Force Aerial Port New Tampa area. Harrison said that, Squadron and Force Support Squadalthough he may have lost his seat to ron, as well as the commander of the Danish during the last election, he 927 Logistics Readiness Squadron at is proud that Florida Constitutional Macdill Air Force Base. He graduated Amendment 9, which he sponsored, from the University of Central Florida provides a tax exemption for surviving in Orlando with a Bachelor’s degree in spouses of military members or first Communications in 1999 and earned responders killed in the line of duty. his Master’s degree in Administration Harrison said, so far, he has raised from Central Michigan University in more than $60,000 for his campaign. Mt. Pleasant, MI, while serving in the Air Force. Maj. Wedding To Oppose Wedding currently does not live Harrison In Primary in New Tampa, but says that during However, before Harrison will his time going door-to-door to meet have a run at the seat currently octhe people he might one day reprecupied by Rep. Danish, he will face off sent, he has gotten a good look at the against fellow Republican and soonarea and is planning to move into the to-be New Tampa resident, U.S. Air District with his wife Cindy and two Force Reservist Maj. Bret Wedding. daughters as soon as possible. After serving five tours overseas, For more information about Wedding, 38, says that he is ready to the two State House District 63 take his leadership skills that he honed Republican primary contenders, in the military to Tallahassee. please visit ShawnHarrison.com or “When I was in Iraq, I had the BretWedding.com. 4

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Legacy At Highwoods Preserve Assisted Living Facility Breaks Ground

By Matt Wiley As we first reported in March 2013 in the New Tampa Neighborhood News, a new assisted-living facility is expected to open in the New Tampa area that will be called the Legacy at Highwoods Preserve and construction currently is well under way. The new, 104-bed facility, located on the west (Richmond Place) side of Highwoods Preserve Pkwy., between Brinegrar Cir. and New Tampa Blvd., could open to residents as early as November of this year, says Lisa Howell, marketing director for Thrive Senior Living, LLC. “Everything is rolling right along,” Howell says. “Weather permitting, we’re on track to open later this year.” The Legacy project is a joint effort between Houston, TX-based PinPoint Commercial, LP, and Thrive Senior Living, LLC (which is based in Atlanta, GA), and will offer care for both the elderly and those in need of memory care for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, with a focus on resident comfort and technology. Of the more than 100 beds at the facility, 44 will be dedicated solely to

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memory care, while the remaining 60 beds will be for any assisted living need. However, PinPoint principal Charles Turner told the Neighborhood News in a previous interview that the number of rooms dedicated to each purpose can fluctuate depending upon the demand at the Legacy. The real draw of the facility, Howell explained, is the technology incorporated into each room of the facility. By utilizing infrared motion detectors and even bed sensors, the Legacy staff will keep track of residents and make sure that they are safe and secure, which, Turner said, is even more important in a memory care unit. Other technology that will set the Legacy at Highwoods Preserve apart are the radio frequency identification bracelets that will open doors without the need for a key and can even activate a system that will lock down the facility, when necessary. If the Legacy at Highwoods Preserve sounds like the type of place someone you love should be interested in, please call (678) 2937880, email Hello@LegacyAtHighwoodsPreserve.com or visit LegacyAtHighwoodsPreserve.com.

The Legacy at Highwoods Preserve assisted living facility could open by November.

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HART Plans Expanded Bus Service For New Tampa In Coming Years By Matt Wiley

As the New Tampa area continues to grow and traffic becomes more dense, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (aka HART) is considering improvements to public transportation for our area over the next few years. Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2014, which began in October 2013, ridership for New Tampa’s lone HART Park & Ride route (51X, which picks up and drops off in the Lowe’s parking lot off Bruce B. Downs [BBD] Blvd. in Tampa Palms), already has surpassed nearly 5,500 passenger trips, with nearly 1,400 in January alone. Ridership for the Tampa Bay area totaled more than 1.2 million passenger trips last year; ridership in New Tampa totaled more than 17,000. In 2006, the first year of service in the New Tampa area, ridership was about 9,700. At the time, the area had two routes, which mirrored each other. The second, which was called 52LX, was scrapped in November of 2007, due to poor ridership. The 51X route not only serves New Tampa residents, but also has two stops that benefit those commuting from Wesley Chapel, as well. Currently, the 51X route begins in the morning at a Park-n-Ride stop at Victorious Life Church on Old Pasco Rd., before heading south on S.R. 54 to S.R. 56 and cutting east along County Line Rd., where it picks up at CrossRoads Community United Methodist Church. It then continues on to BBD and heads south, making a stop at Lowe’s in Tampa Palms. The bus then takes I-75 south to I-4, where it stays until it turns into I-275 and heads downtown to make three drop-offs. In the evenings, the bus makes four pick-ups downtown and heads north on I-275 to Bearss Ave. and then drops off at the three Park-n-Ride stops. According to HART’s 10-year Transit Development Plan (TDP), which it must update each year, New Tampa has much to look forward to, including a future route that will connect our area to Macdill Air Force Base

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(AFB) in south Tampa. However, in the meantime, HART also has some other routes it hopes to implement in the near future that will better connect New Tampa with other parts of Hillsborough County and offer more alternatives to having to drive BBD every day. The TDP projects that New Tampa ridership could climb to nearly 600,000 by 2020. “We know that the need is there,” says HART spokesperson Sandra Morrison. “The residents have expressed a need for (more) service in the New Tampa area and we are doing what we can to try to help.” Morrison explains that additional routes for the area are part of an overall plan to increase services to Macdill AFB from other HART service areas. “Macdill is one of the primary employers in Tampa, with an employment base spreading beyond its traditional housing sites (closer to the base), and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supports transit services by purchasing transit passes for DoD employees,” Morrison says. HART’s TDP consists of two plans: the “Status Quo” and the “Vision” plans, the former being the more realistic and current plan, while the “Vision” plan is what HART hopes to put into motion when funding were to become available, which comes from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Every five years, HART must update FDOT about its TDP to remain eligible for funding grants, Morrison explains. Most of the New Tampa routes still are in the “Vision” plan, but could become part of the “Status Quo,” if additional funding becomes available. Beginning in fiscal year 2016, HART hopes to begin a new “Flex Service” for New Tampa, which will consist of two, smaller vehicles that make shorter trips, as opposed to the large HART buses, which travel long routes with many stops. Flex service vans can pick riders up in their neighborhoods if a reservation is made ahead

of time. Riders also can board and exit the bus at regular stops, as well. The TDP also lists the study of a new “MetroRapid” service for the New Tampa area, beginning in fiscal year 2017, which would be a comparable service to the current MetroRapid North-South route that connects Telecom Park on E. The New Tampa area currently only has a single express bus Fletcher Ave. with route that takes commuters from as far as Wesley Chapel to downtown Tampa. downtown Tampa twice per day during the work week. MetroRapid routes feature fewer stops year 2020 could see the construction and contain sensors that can lengthen of new MetroRapid stops and the acgreen lights and shorten red lights tual beginning of the service, which is along the route, reducing bus travel estimated to cost about $15.5-million time. and to add eight new buses. During fiscal year 2018, HART “These new routes all depend on hopes to implement an additional funding,” Morrison says. “The Metro“Express” service that will connect Rapid routes would most likely be New Tampa to the Westshore District along BBD, but the number of stops with two additional buses. Express has not yet been determined.” routes allow HART buses to travel on For more information about the interstate, much like the 51X route HART, or to check out the 10-year that currently runs in our area. Fiscal TDP, please visit GoHART.org.

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New Tampa Bank Robber Busted In MS

A man wanted for the robbery of multiple banks around the Tampa Bay area is behind bars, after being busted in Biloxi, MS. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) reports that Christopher Nelson, 41, was arrested February 20 at a hotel in Biloxi, just hours after his identity was released. Meanwhile, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) reports that the Christopher Nelson agency received a call just after 10:30 a.m. on February 18 that a white male wearing a tan baseball cap, later identified as Nelson, entered the SunTrust bank (located on Bruce B. Downs {BBD} Blvd. in Wesley Chapel, just south of S.R. 54) and demanded money. Nelson reportedly approached a bank teller while covering his face and stated that he had a weapon, but did not exhibit one to the bank’s staff, PCSO spokesperson Melanie Snow said. He escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash. Nelson also is suspected of robbing two Wells Fargo banks in Zephyrhills and a Chase Bank in Brandon. At our press time, Nelson still was being held in Mississippi, awaiting transportation back to Hillsborough County.

New Tampa Man Shot In Hunting Accident

A New Tampa man is recovering from multiple gunshot wounds, after being shot during a hunting accident near Flatwoods Park in New Tampa. According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Clinton Galentine, 37, was shot just after 7:30 a.m. on February 16, when he was mistaken for a deer while walking through the Oakridge Trail area of the Lower Hillsborough Wildlife Management Area, about 0.8-mile southeast of Morris Bridge Rd. near Flatwoods Wilderness Park.

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News Briefs FWC spokesman Baryl Martin says that 43-year-old Michael Trott, of Seminole, was legally hunting during a planned family hunt in the area with all of his permits, but accidentally ended up shooting Galentine, who was trying to photograph wild turkeys, twice. Martin says that Galentine was attempting to call turkeys from a roadside inside the Wildlife Management Area. Notice of the hunt was posted at entrances to the area. He adds that Galentine received two non-life-threatening injuries. The incident still is under investigation, but no charges are pending at this time. Martin says that the case will be passed on to the State Attorney’s office once the investigation is complete.

TPD Warns Of Security Scammers

Has someone knocked on your door recently and identified themselves as a representative from a security system company wanting to check their system? Did they ask for access to the inside of your home? If so, you’re not alone, according to the Tampa Police Department (TPD). In fact, TPD says that undocumented doorto-door sales persons approaching homeowners has recently become an emerging pattern. Most of the reports that TPD has received so far describe white males toting clipboards and claiming to have been sent by ADT Security Systems. However, ADT recently debunked those claims. “It is not a surprise that scams and fraud like this happen every day,” said regional ADT representative Kevin Truman in a written statement. “Unfortunately, ADT can’t put an end to that due to scam artists. People will continue to (use) that habit to steal, defraud and do what they can to benefit themselves.” No crimes or related burglaries have yet been associated with these solicitors, but TPD neighborhood affairs liaison Lisa Timmer urges residents to contact TPD if they are approached or notice this type of activity in their community. “Tampa Police does wish to speak with them and verify their intentions,” Timmer said. If you encounter persons

The extension of S.R. 56 to U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills could be constructed by 2017-18.

who request to enter your home, or to check your ADT (or other alarm system) for failures, do not let them in.” Instead, she said, call TPD. “Tell them you need to check their credentials and that you are calling the police,” Timmer said. “If they have nothing to hide, they should be happy to do as you say. If they decide to leave, call TPD and give the last known address (where the “sales reps” were seen) and their direction of travel. It very well may be that these individuals are simply trying to net a sale, however unscrupulous it may be. In any event, you should never let an unexpected stranger into your home.” Truman offered several tips to homeowners to help identify legitimate ADT representatives or technicians. He said that company representatives always will present an ADT badge or business card with the ADT seal, prior to shaking your hand, and will be wearing a uniform. Truman said that any ADT installation technicians always will have an ADT truck and call you prior to any installation appointments, rather than show up unannounced. If you come into contact with these solicitors, call the TPD non-emergency line at 231-6130.

Cockfighting Suspect Busted In Wesley Chapel

A New York farm owner has been arrested in Wesley Chapel, after law enforcement officials raided a cockfighting event on his property. According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), the U.S. Marshal’s office in New York ordered the arrest of Moises Cruz, 71, who was staying at a home in the Alchester Place neighborhood in Meadow Pointe III. The arrest follows the Marshal’s office’s “Operation Moises Cruz Angry Birds,” which was executed on February 8 and resulted in the detainment of more than 70 people, nine of whom were arrested on felony charges. PCSO says that Cruz, who lives in both New York and Miami, was staying at the Meadow Pointe home while waiting for a flight back to the northeast. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on February 9 that more than 3,000 birds were seized during a simultaneous raid of several cockfighting events across Queens, Kings (Brooklyn) and Ulster (upstate) counties.

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However, Schneiderman’s office confirms that, after further investigation, the number of roosters rescued was raised to more than 6,000. “This investigation — one of the largest in U.S. history — illustrates the prevalence of cockfighting in America, its brutal nature and the link to other illegal activities,” said Schneiderman in a press release. “My office will keep working to hold these individuals accountable, and put an end to illegal cockfighting.” Cruz has been charged with prohibition of animal fighting and was taken into custody without incident.

S.R. 56 To Be Extended To Zephyrhills

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has announced the availability for the funding of projects around the state for the next five years. Among the projects listed is a further expansion of S.R. 56 through eastern Wesley Chapel. According to FDOT’s “Five Year Tentative Work Plan,” which goes into effect on July 1 and runs through June 30, 2019, S.R. 56 will be getting considerably longer. The report says funding has been approved to extend the busy roadway from where it currently dead-ends at Meadow Pointe Blvd. east to U.S. 301, creating another east-west connector for Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills residents. The project, which will stretch 6.7 miles, is expected to cost about $40 million. Construction is scheduled for FDOT’s fiscal year 2017-18. The expansion will intersect with the future Wyndfield Blvd., which will travel through the planned Wyndfields Development of Regional Impact (DRI), which is located off S.R. 54, adjacent to Meadow Pointe. “This connection will continue to build the arterial grid that is needed in areas where significant growth is anticipated,” says Pasco transportation planning manager Jim Edwards. “The extension of S.R. 56 to U.S. 301 has been included in the Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)’s Long Range Transportation Plan since its adoption in 2009.” In addition to the expansion of S.R. 56, the same report says that the section from west of I-75 to Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. also will see some improvements, as S.R. 56 is scheduled to be resurfaced during the 2014-15 fiscal year. The resurfacing of the 2.42-mile stretch of six lanes currently is expected to cost about $6 million. — MW @NTWCNews


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Pasco BOCC Unanimously Approves Baseball Complex Agreement

By Matt Wiley

For nearly two years, negotiations have heated up and then gone cold regarding a planned sports complex in the Wiregrass Ranch Development of Regional Impact (DRI). However, following the January 14 Pasco Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, it now looks as if the “pipe dream” could in fact become a reality. During their first meeting of the year in Dade City, Pasco commissioners voted unanimously to approve an agreement between the county and Pasco Sports, LLC (also known as Blue Marble Strategic), which will be constructing the approximately $34-million, multi-purpose baseball complex in Wiregrass Ranch, originally to be called the “Fields at Wiregrass.” Under the new agreement, Pasco will put $11 million ($8.5 million from tourist taxes and the rest from bond proceeds) toward the funding of the complex, the design and construction of the infrastructure beneath the future fields and installation of park elements outside the complex, including walking trails, picnic areas and directional signage to the park. Pasco Sports will be responsible for footing the remaining $23 million for the design and construction of the complex itself, which will feature a minimum of 15 baseball fields, a 2,500-seat stadium, batting cages and a large dormitory with cafeteria for visiting athletes and coaches. The agreement requires that Pasco Sports provide proof of funding within the

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next six months and Blue Marble Strategic’s James Talton already is hard at work finding that proof. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with a lot of people who want to be a part of (the baseball complex),” Talton explains. “The challenge is finding out which one is going to be ‘the one.’” Once Talton has provided proof of funding to the county, construction of infrastructure must begin within 120 days. Then, the construction of the complex itself must begin within 90 days of the completion of the infrastructure. The county staff will work with Pasco Sports during the infrastructure design to ensure compatibility. “(The designers from the county and Pasco Sports) will be working hand-inglove to make sure that the designs mesh,” said Pasco administrator Michele Baker during the Jan. 14 meeting. Talton says that he plans to keep the park busy year-round, which he hopes could mean bringing a Major League Baseball team to the complex for a new spring training home, in addition to competitive sports tournaments. Talton says that he currently is having discussions with several owners, but that the real profitability for both the county and the complex will actually be in amateur sports. “This complex is going to be an economic impact generator,” Talton explains. “While the kids playing in tournaments are staying on-site in the dormitories, their families will be staying off-site and spending

money in the community.” Talton touts the flexibility of the facility, which will be capable of hosting large conferences and conventions in the dormitory buildings, as well as concerts in the outdoor areas within the complex. The agreement also allows Pasco Sports to sell naming rights, which must include both “Pasco County” and must approve before Blue Marble Strategic is gathering funding to construct this $34-million, it becomes official. state-of-the-art baseball complex in the Wiregrass Ranch DRI, which, the developers say, could be an economic engine for Wesley Chapel. Pasco Sports also can charge an admission which time the county will receive $60,000 fee, but only to use the inside of the facility. in fixed revenue after the third year, as well The use of park elements, including the pic- as 3 percent of the facility’s gross annual nic areas and walking trails, will remain free revenue. of charge. Although the agreement ensures Talton says that he already has been a discount of at least 10-percent off admissolidifying contracts for tournaments at sion fees to Pasco residents, BOCC chair the fields for as soon as 2016 and hopes to Jack Mariano stressed during the meeting break ground by the end of the year, pendthat he wanted to see it raised to around ing any delays. 50 percent, so that no parent would not “It’s really fantastic to have this agreebe able to afford to see their child play in a ment in-hand,” Talton says. “We had two competitive tournament at the complex. daunting tasks, one of which was getting The initial contract between the counthe agreement signed. Now the big task is ty and Pasco Sports is for 45 years, during raising the $23 million.”

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Grove 16 Shooter Denied Bail Before Trial

A Pasco County judge has denied bail for retired Tampa Police (TPD) Capt. Curtis Reeves, Jr., 71, who is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting Land O’Lakes resident Chad Oulson, 43, who was seated in front of him during the previews before a movie at the Cobb Theatres Grove 16 on January 13. “This is not a verdict,” said Pasco Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa on Feb. 7 after hearing two days of arguments and testimony from witnesses in the theater. “I’m not finding anyone guilty or innocent today. I’m going to detain Mr. Reeves pretrial. He will remain in custody.” During bond hearings on Feb. 5 and 7, Siracusa heard arguments from both Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia, as well as those from Reeves’ defense counsel, Richard Escobar, to determine whether or not to grant Reeves bail. Reeves has been in custody at the Pasco County Jail in Land O’Lakes since the incident and is pleading not guilty. Escobar clarified during closing arguments that, at this time, his client is not seeking to claim the “Stand Your Ground” law as his defense, but that Reeves was actually defending himself in the theater. He had requested bond to be set at $200,000. Garcia, meanwhile, had requested that, if bond was given, that Reeves’ passport be seized, as well as any of the suspect’s firearms that were reportedly in Reeves’ son’s possession. Infrared video from inside the dark theater as the shooting occurred was

shown during the hearing, which depicts the argument that sparked it. Oulson can be seen throwing an object of some sort at Reeves, who then fired a single shot from his .380 handgun almost immediately after. It appears that Oulson stood up, turned around, grabbed Reeves’ popcorn and threw it at him. Reeves’ attorneys argue that the light from Oulson’s cell phone can be seen flying into Reeves and landing on the ground 13 seconds before Oulson was shot. Several witnesses, including Charles Cummings (who sat just a few seats away from Oulson and his wife Nichole in the same row), testified that they heard Reeves mutter something along the lines of “Throw popcorn at me?,” around the time the shot was fired. Cummings said that he didn’t see any punches thrown by Oulson and that Oulson did not enter Reeves’ personal space. During an interview (that was played during the hearing) with Reeves’ wife Vivian by Pasco Det. Allen Proctor, she tells Proctor that she did see Oulson act in a threatening way toward her husband. During Reeves’ interview with Proctor, he said that he thought that he was going to get beaten up by Oulson and that Oulson came over the theater seats toward him in an aggressive manner, which isn’t clear in the video. Reeves will remain in custody until his trial, which wasn’t yet scheduled at our press time. Visit NTNeighborhood News.com for more updates. — MW

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March 2014

MOMS Club Of New Tampa - The MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support) Club of New Tampa is currently open to new members in the New Tampa area. The MOMS Club offers a variety of daytime activities for mothers and their children, opportunities for Moms’ Nights Out and many more benefits. For more information, or to join the club, email MomsClubNewTampa@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 2

Zen Meditation Group - Enjoy meditation? Looking for a new way to relax? Check out the FREE Zen Meditation Group that meets Sundays at 10 a.m. in the Arbor Greene Community Center (18000 Arbor Greene Dr., off Cross Creek Blvd.) Aerobics Room. People of all faiths are welcome. You only need an interest in meditation and a more peaceful and relaxed mind and life. For more info, call Jeremy at 528-6285.

Sunday, March 2 & March 7-9

The New Tampa Players Present ‘The Miracle Worker” - New Tampa’s own community theatre troupe, the New Tampa Players, is proud to present “The Miracle Worker” at CrossPointe Church of the Nazarene (919 Debuel Rd. in Lutz). The performances are at 8 p.m. each Fri.-Sat., with Sunday matinee performances at 2 p.m. Tickts cost $12-$15. For more information, visit NewTampaPlayers.org.

Monday, March 3

‘Slice for Life’ Golf Tournament - The second annual “Slice for Life” golf tournament, presented by the Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel (FHWC) Foundation, will be held at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club (5811 Tampa Palms Blvd.). Sponsorship opportunities are still available. The cost to play is $500 for a foursome or $15 for a single golfer. For additional information, please visit FloridaHospital.com/ Wesley-Chapel/Foundation. Community Acupuncture - A Monday night community acupuncture and discussion group is meeting at Ion Medi-Spa (8903 Regents Park Dr., Suite 130), 6:30 p.m. Topics include needle-free acupuncture, facial rejuvenation and stop smoking and customized weight-loss programs. For more info, call 960-8833 or visit IonMediSpa.com.

Tuesday, March 4

New Tampa Tri Club - The New Tampa Tri Club is open to runners, swimmers, cyclists and triathletes across the New Tampa/Wesley Chapel area. The club hosts group bike rides/runs at Flatwoods Wilderness Park (13330 Morris Bridge Rd.) every Tues., Thur. and Sat. at 7:30 a.m. For more info, join the Facebook group or e-mail NewTampaTriClub@gmail.com. GriefShare - This video-seminar-support group is for anyone who is grieving the death of a loved one. The cost is $20 for a workbook and 13 sessions, begin any week to find healing and hope. The group meets Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Magdalene Methodist Church (2902 W. Fletcher Ave., Room 310). For registration and more information, call 963-1555. NAMI Support Group Meetings - The Pasco County Chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers a support group for friends & family of those with mental illness the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at North Tampa Behavioral Health (29910 S.R. 56). For more info, call (727) 992-9653.

Wednesday, March 5

BNI Millionaire Makers - The BNI Millionaire Makers chapter meets every Wednesday at Pebble Creek Golf Club at 7:15 a.m. (10550 Regents Park Dr., off BBD Blvd.). The $13 meeting fee includes a hot breakfast. Call Lisa Jordan (621-6015) for info. Business Networking International (BNI) - BNI, a group of business professionals dedicated to helping their respective businesses grow through qualified referrals, meets every Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. at the Cory Lake Isles Beach Club clubhouse (18630 Plantation Bay Dr., off Morris Bridge Rd.). For more info, call Ed Gleason at 299-4475. New Tampa Noon Rotary Club- The New Tampa Noon Rotary Club meets every Wednesday for lunch at noon at Hunter’s Green Country Club (18101 Longwater Run Dr.). Guests are always welcome. New Tampa Evening Rotary Club - The New Tampa Evening Rotary Club meets every Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. at Hunter’s Green Country Club. New members are always welcome. For more information, call Liz DeAmbrose at 956-6487 or email homenet@gte.net. 18

9-12 Toastmasters - Great speeches & great topics. Come hone your public speaking skills. Tampa Toastmasters meets every Wednesday 7 p.m. at the New Tampa Family YMCA (16221 Compton Dr., Tampa Palms). New guests are always welcome. For more information, call 428-6356.

Thursday, March 6

CBC Networking - Come together with like-minded professionals at the Christian Business Connections (CBC) Networking group, which meets every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church (located at 5338 Primrose Lake Cir., off Commerce Park Blvd. in Tampa Palms) for a “meet & greet,” followed by a meeting of the group. For more information, please send an email to Shawn@TPACorp.com. English As A Second Language (ESL)- This group meets Thursdays at Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church (19911 BBD Blvd.), 9 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Classes are taught by a native English speaker using several ESL and Bible study resources. The cost is $20 each quarter, for the workbook & class materials. For registration and more information, call Heather at 753-8567. Food Addicts In Recovery Anonymous (FA) - Are you having trouble controlling the way you eat? Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is a support group without any dues, fees or weigh-ins and is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. FA meets at Florida Hospital Tampa at (on BBD) in the Camelot A room at 7 p.m. For additional information, visit FoodAddicts.org or call Roz at 355-4197.

Friday, March 7

New Tampa Rotary Club - The original New Tampa Rotary Club meets for breakfast at 7 a.m. at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club (TPGCC, 5811 Tampa Palms Blvd.). The guest speaker will be Dr. Drew Gold, speaking about St. Leo University’s Polling Institute. For more information, call Eric Longphee at 202-1105. Knights Of Columbus Fish Fry - The Knights of Columbus of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church (9724 Cross Creek Blvd.) once again will be holding fish fry events every Friday during Lent, beginning at 5 p.m. Meals start at $8 for adults and $5 for kids. For more information, call 907-7746. Tampa Palms Libertas Academy BINGO Night - The Tampa Palms Libertas Academy will be having its first-ever BINGO Night to raise funds for non-profit Christian education. It will be held at Grace Episcopal Church (15102 Amberly Dr., Tampa Palms) at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $20 for 20 games. For more info, call Amy at 435-8314.

Saturday, March 8

New Tampa Dog Pack - Do you have a dog? Enjoy scenic nature walks? Join the New Tampa Dog Pack on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m at Flatwoods Wilderness Park (at the 18205 BBD entrance) and on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at Compton Park (16101 Compton Dr., Tampa Palms). For more info, please visit MeetUp.com/New-Tampa-Dog-Pack.

Thursday, March 13

Northeast Tampa Women In Business (NETWIB) Meeting - The Northeast Tampa Women in Business group meets the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Hunter’s Green Country Club (18101 Longwater Run Dr.). For more info, visit NETWIB.org or call 843-2354.

Saturday, March 29

‘We Work’ At Lifepoint Church - “We Work,” meets at Lifepoint Church (8702 Hunter’s Lake Dr.) at 8:45 a.m. and is designed to help you search for jobs, improve interview skills, write a resume, negotiate a job offer, improve your attitude, develop networking skills and discover your gifts. For info, visit LifepointChurch.tv/WeWork or call 907-9818 ext. 14. Tampa Palms Women’s Club Yard & Bake Sale - Come for a morning of bargain hunting, enjoying home baked goodies, and selecting beautiful plants for your garden beginning at 9 a.m. at Compton Park in Tampa Palms (16101 Compton Dr.). You can donate your “treasures” to be sold, or you can even rent a booth space and sell your own “treasures.” For info, visit TampaPalmsWomensClub.com or call 615-9600.

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New Tampa Junior Woman’s Club Announces 17th Annual Night Of 5000 If dancing, gambling, sipping cocktails and watching live entertainment is your thing, why not enjoy it all while supporting a good cause? On April 12, the GFWC (General Federation of Women’s Clubs) New Tampa Junior Woman’s Club (NTJWC) is proud to present its 17th annual Night of 5000 Charity Ball, “A Night of Giving,” at the University Area Community Center on N. 22nd St., just south of Bearss Ave. This “fabulous” evening features (you guessed it) dancing, casino tables (for entertainment purposes only; photo, far right), hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and entertainment, and it’s all to benefit local charities,

including the O.A.S.I.S. Network, American Cancer Society, Hillsborough Education Foundation, New Tampa Regional Library, Canines for Companions, The Children’s Home, Joshua House, The Spring, UNICEF, military families and others. Throughout the event, which begins at 7 p.m. and costs $65 per ticket, live and silent auctions will be held among the guests, with all of the proceeds going to benefit the previously mentioned charities and nonprofit organizations. The NTJWC, whose mission statement is, “To respond to the needs of our community and nation,” has a long history of raising money for charities and organizations that help people in tough situations. Last year, thanks to the efforts of the NTJWC, more than 8,000 volunteer hours, as well as $25,000, were donated to local charities. The organization still is looking for sponsors for this year’s Night of 5000 and offers several different levels to match almost any budget. Sponsorship payments must be made by March 28 if you’d like your name included in the printed program for the event.

The NTJWC is comprised of 35 members and is one of more than 8,500 GFWC clubs in the nation. If Night of 5000 sounds like something you’d be interested in, tickets can be purchased at GFWCNewTampa Juniors.org. The University Area Community Center is located at 14013 N. 22nd St. in Tampa.

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For Advertising Information Call 813-910-2575 • Volume 22, Issue 5 • March 1, 2014 • www.NTNeighborhoodNews.com

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WRIST SPRAINS YOUR EMERGENCY IS OUR EXPERTISE For major emergencies like heart attacks, the Florida Hospital Tampa ER delivers state-of-the-art treatment and compassionate care backed by our renowned Pepin Heart Institute. In addition to being the area’s first accredited Chest Pain Center, we’ve also received Advanced Certification in Heart Failure from The Joint Commission, for providing the highest standard of emergency cardiac care. And for minor emergencies like cuts or sprains, our new 15-minute Fast Track allows you to be seen quicker and get home faster. For the right care, right when you need it, trust your emergency to Florida Hospital Tampa.

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Montessori Academy Can Help Your Child Get Years Ahead At An Early Age By Lauren Saslow Photos by Frank Edmondson In San Lorenzo, Italy, in 1907, Dr. Maria Montessori — the first female medical doctor in Italy — opened a small school targeting the developmental needs of children through the implementation of concrete learning experiences. After conducting her own scientific studies on how children learn, Dr. Montessori found that children don’t actually become educated by another person, as much as through their own hands-on experiences and selfmotivation. She also found that children had a tremendous need to move as they learned, which today is called kinesthetic learning (also known as tactile learning). Dr. Montessori also found that for most children, learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. She soon began Montessori Teacher Training, drawing upon the experience of teachers from around the globe, and when those teachers returned to their respective countries, they began opening Montessori schools across the world. When Dr. Montessori passed away in 1952, her son Mario worked with other trained teachers to develop the Association Montessori International (AMI), an umbrella training organization for teachers who want to use this “Montessori Method.” Sonia A. Johnson, who is originally from Colombia, although she earned a B.A. in Education from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, Sonia is a Montessori-certified Johnson teacher and the founder and director of five Montessori Schools ­— four of which are in the Tampa Bay area and one is in Ocala, FL (the Ocala school is for ages 12 months-5 years). The first of her local schools opened in 1970, and although that one no longer is operating, Johnson’s four local campuses now include: • Montessori Preparatory School

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(MPS), which opened in Temple Terrace in 1998, and which serves children from age 4 (Pre-Kindergarten, or “PreK”) - 5th grade; • Montessori Academy of Tampa Bay (located on W. Waters Ave. in Tampa) for ages 12 months - 6th grade; • Montessori Academy of Temple Terrace (MATT), for ages 12 months-4 years old; and • Montessori Academy of New Tampa (located at 4001 N. Skipper Rd., just off Bruce B. Downs {BBD} Blvd., south of Tampa Palms), also for ages 12 months–4 years. All of Johnson’s Montessori schools are open year-round on weekdays, with monthly tuition rates starting at just $710 for Pre-K through kindergarten students. Co-directors Luney Parr and Piedad Alvarez and assistant director Lori Chehav also are Montessori-certified teachers who are responsible for leading 30 faculty and staff members at the MPS location, which doubles as Johnson’s main office. All teachers and staff at these schools must submit to a background check and fingerprinting, as they fall under the regulations of the Florida Dept. of Children & Families. As an added security measure, all rooms in each facility are video-monitored and the front door requires a staff member to “buzz in” the parents and visitors. Alvarez says that although they are located a few miles southeast of our area, both the MPS and MATT sites in Temple Terrace are popular choices for New Tampa residents, even though the Montessori Academy of New Tampa may be closer to where they live. “Most of our students live in the New Tampa area,” Alvarez explains, “but their parents may work at Temple Terrace- and University-area businesses and healthcare centers like Moffitt Cancer Center or Florida Hospital Tampa.”

Creating A Professional & Diverse Environment

Johnson’s five Montessori schools are Associate Member schools of the American Montessori Society, the National Center for Montessori Education

and the Montessori Institute of America. The MPS site also is an “Internship School,” at which new teachers are able to work with the students under the guidance of Montessori-certified teachers. While there always is at least one Montessori-certified teacher in each classroom — who is trained in educating students in arts, science, math, music, movement and reading — each school strives to incorporate each teacher’s talents and background into the offerings at Any of the five Montessori Academies & Prep Schools each school, in order to expose owned by Sheila Johnson can have your child years the children to different lanahead of their peers before even entering kindergrten. guages, cultures and disciplines. The Curriculum Therefore, the extra-curricular activities While children may enter a Monand languages offered at each site vary. tessori school as late as the third grade, “We have a diverse range of students from many cultures,” says Chehav. Johnson and her staff recommend “Parents love it because they get to see enrollment as early as 12 months of students from all over the world.” age, the only prerequisite being that On average, there typically are the child has to be walking. In contrast, between 150-200 students at each of many early childhood programs will Johnson’s five Montessori locations, not accept children who aren’t already although the main MPS site serves toilet-trained, which can be frustrating more than 200 students. Johnson says for parents trying to offer their child a the schools maintain a teacher-student head start on his or her education. ratio of 1 to 15 for most classes, with From an early age, children in smaller teacher-student ratios for the these Montessori schools are allowed younger students. Some classes even to work at their own pace in individual offer co-teachers, and the kindergarten and group learning environments that students switch classrooms during the address their unique auditory, visual and day in order to provide varied teaching kinesthetic learning styles. For example, environments and educators. when preschool children are learning Chehav says that teachers at the their letters, they say each letter’s sound local Montessori schools also come from as they punch them out from paper, a number of countries, including, “Coand most of the puzzles and manipulalombia, India, Bulgaria, China, Ecuador, tives throughout the highly organized and Peru.” She adds that most teachers classrooms are color-coded and have opt to, “stay here more than ten years.” different textures. The hallways of the MPS location Because students in the local are lined with framed black-and-white Montessori schools complete standardphotographs of Johnson and her young ized testing annually, they must be as students from when her first school prepared as their public school counopened in 1970. There also are framed terparts — and usually end up being color photos of the increasingly diverse more prepared than their public school student body sporting their mandatory counterparts, according to Johnson. For dress code requirements of red or navy blue polo shirts (bearing the Montessori example, the math program incorporates Montessori Math, Sunshine Math (comlogo), navy blue or khaki pants, shorts bining critical thinking and problem or skirts and sneakers.

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solving skills), and Saxon Math (combining timing, repetition and drills). The reading program incorporates a blend of five phonics-based programs (during which the child is introduced to the sounds of the letters of the alphabet) which incorporate Merrill Linguistics, “Hooked on Phonics” and Glen Doman, among others. From as early as age 3 or three-and-a-half, students receive “homework” in the form of “readers” they share with parents or family members at least once a week. When the individual child masters one reader, he or she then moves on to the next level. Alvarez explains that, “Our students are all blending sounds and learning social skills at age three-and-a-half.” A student entering the first or second grade who is not yet reading begins with the workbooks, she says. “Everything they (the elementaryaged children) do, whether it is in science or geography or another subject, will have a module that includes manipulatives such as cards, color-coded Bead Bars, puzzles and booklets,” Alvarez explains. In general, students are exposed to concrete concepts first, and then transition to more abstract concepts.

The Language Of Learning

All Montessori students also are exposed to learning a second language and Alvarez says that when foreign languages are learned during early childhood, the child is able to develop native-like

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accents, which can be much more challenging to acquire in adulthood. Living in Florida, for example, being fluent in both English and Spanish is likely to have long-term benefits for the children and will likely afford them increased career opportunities in the future. Chehav says that all of these skills and more are explored and nurtured through a program centered on each child’s innate curiosity, in order to foster their love of life-long learning. Other unique learning opportunities offered at the MPS site include other foreign languages (including Mandarin Chinese!), music (piano and guitar), character building, life skills, playtime and a book club. Extra-curricular activities consist of chess club, gymnastics, dance, soccer, student leadership council and gardening. All of the local Montessori schools, however, hold annual Kindergarten graduation, Honors Night (for elementary-aged students), a Family Day program and a Winter Holiday program. One former New Tampa-location student who is now age 23 says, “The value of a Montessori education is priceless and the benefits will last a lifetime! I began reading when I was 3 years old. By 5 years old, I was already adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing up to four-digit numbers and had already mastered fractions, decimals, time and money concepts, as well. I feel that my early Montessori experience not

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only challenged me academically, but also helped me to become an independent thinker and doer, develop leadership skills and become excited about the learning process. These skills helped me in throughout my education and even now in my career as a civil engineer.” One New Tampa-area parent The learning is always hands-on and in motion for the children at any of Johnson’s five Montessori schools. who wasn’t identified in her on-line advantage over other students later on comments wrote (on GreatSchools. (in their education). Every year makes a org), “My daughter was enrolled at difference.” Montessori in 2007. While there, she Johnson adds, “Many of our began speaking Spanish, reading, learnstudents go to Harvard, Yale and other ing geography and science — all before top universities and graduate schools. Pre-K! We were so impressed that we After more than 40 years as a Montesmoved her to the Montessori school (in sori teacher, I can assure you that the Temple Terrace) when it was time for program works.” Pre-K. And, as an added boon, the tuiFor more information about any tion is well below most other (private) of the local Montessori Preparatory schools in town. I can’t recommend Schools & Academies, call 899-2345 (the Montessori program) enough.” or visit MontessoriAcademies.com or Chehav maintains that many of the MontessoriAcademies.net. The Monchildren in the local Montessori schools tessori Academy of New Tampa is are, “One to two grade levels above located 4001 N. Skipper Rd. Call the students in traditional schools. The main office number above or 979earlier the children begin the program, 4926 for more information about the the better. They will have more of an New Tampa campus.

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Budget Blinds Expands Its Great Selection By Adding Inspired Drapes

fact, that the Budget Blinds corporation decided to start it’s own drapery line, Budget Blinds, which has a showknown as Inspired Drapes.” room minutes from New Tampa on W. She adds that, “Now, with Inspired Fletcher Ave. in Tampa, truly has beDrapes, we have a much wider selection come a one-stop shop for your window- of draperies, top treatments, and decoracovering needs, as the company has tive hardware. Our new line of Inspired added the Inspired Drapes by FabriCut Drapes soft window coverings is a testaline of drapery and hardware to their ment to Budget Blinds’ commitment showroom. to providing the best and most current “We have always offered soft fashwindow covering solutions available. ions for windows, including valances The line offers complete flexibility in and cornices,” Budget Blinds co-owner light, privacy control and fashion trends Elaine Trotter says, “but many of our so a customer can get the best of both clients didn’t realize it. So many clients worlds in a single product.” didn’t realize that we did draperies, in So now, no matter how you want to cover your windows — blinds, shutters, shades, cornices (any horizontal decorative molding that crowns a building or furniture element), or draperies — Budget Blinds and Inspired Drapes can help you get the look you want. And, you can always visit the showroom or have a free in-home Do you want or need a cornice? Budget Blinds has your windows covered! consultation By Marcy Sanford

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with one of the talented Budget Blinds design specialists. “We have clients who bring swatches, pillows, and even chairs into our showroom,” says Elaine. “We are happy to help you find fabrics and suggest drapery styles to match anything in your home. We also have a design specialist with years of experience who will come to your home free of charge, bring swatches and samples for you to look at and help you pick out something to fit your needs, your home and your budget.” In fact, this past January, Inspired Drapes introduced new lines and styles of drapes, valances, and hardware, so if you want a new look for your home, now is a perfect time to talk to Budget Blinds’ window covering experts about the latest trends in Budget Blinds, which has a showroom on W. window design. Fletcher Ave., minutes from New Tampa, now When you choose window offers a full array of decorative draperies and treatments from Inspired Drapes, swags from Inspired Drapes. the beautiful, stylish designs will choose will fit perfectly. An expert provide a wonderful accent to your installer will make sure your drapes not home. There are thousands of fabrics of only hang the right way but that the all different styles, colors, textures and hardware also is installed correctly so designs, so you’re sure to find just the you don’t end up with hardware hangright fabric for your home. ing off your wall several months later. Budget Blinds’ consultants will “There are many nuances to propmeasure your windows for you, to erly installing hardware for drapes or ensure that the curtains or drapes you

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cornices,” says Elaine. “You would be amazed at how many people we get calls from who have hardware that is pulling out of the wall.” In addition to luxurious drapes, Budget Blinds also can brighten up your rooms with a lovely valance (a short piece of cloth or a wooden or metal frame that is placed across the top of a window for decoration; or a piece of material that hangs loosely from the frame). “We see many people who want valances in their powder rooms or kitchen,” says Elaine. “It’s a wonderful way to add a pop of color into a room. We also have many textures and styles you can choose from.” No matter what the size of your windows, Budget Blinds can help you out. Every drape, curtain and valance is custom-made so they can be cut to fit to even the oddest size windows and the company usually can have it hanging in your home within three weeks or less. When Budget Blinds’ expert Inspired Drapes designer visits your home, she’ll talk to you about the room, how you use it and what type of look you want. She can help guide you through the choices to find ones that will be a perfect fit. After she has measured your windows, she will give you a quote that includes not just the drapes or curtains but also the cost of having the company’s expert installers make sure they are installed properly and look beautiful for years to come. Just like Budget Blinds, Inspired

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If you’ve ever imagined uniquely beautiful drapes or valances for your windows, you’ll find everything you need in Budget Blinds’ new Inspired Drapes collection. (Below) Budget Blinds also carries a huge selection of decorative hardware for your new drapes. Drapes offers many extra touches for its soft fashions. One unique addition is motorization, like one local family chose for the draperies in their family media room. Now, when they are ready to watch a movie, they can close their drapes with one touch of a button and since their drapes have blackout fabric, they can watch movies any time of the day. Trotter says that window covering motorization allows you to eliminate harsh glare, save on energy costs and protect your home furnishings. Motor-

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ized blinds can easily be operated from a wall switch, hand-held remote, timer, or other “smart” device. Budget Blinds serves New Tampa and the surrounding areas. To get a look at the Inspired Drapes collection, visit InspiredDrapes.com. The Budget Blinds showroom at 1208 W. Fletcher Ave. is open Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on Sat. Call 968-5050 to schedule a free in-home consultation or visit BudgetBlinds.com/Tampa Bay for info.

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Wendelken Music Studio — A 20-Year Musical Tradition In New Tampa By Susannah Robinson For nearly 20 years, the Wendelken Piano Studio in New Tampa has been a popular destination for pianists of all ages who want that European conservatory-style training with a 21st century twist. But now, with its new home within Grace Episcopal Church of Tampa Palms, founder Mary Wendelken’s studio has expanded its services to include quality musicianship training in stringed instruments and voice, as well as piano, under a new name: the Wendelken Studio of Musical Arts. Wendelken has always prided herself on offering students in the New Tampa area and beyond a place to master traditional classical piano repertoire, technique, theory, and ensemble and concerti. This year, Wendelken is excited to announce the addition of training in cello, guitar, violin, viola and voice, all of which are taught at the studio location at Grace. “We’ve received calls for strings lessons for years, on the strength of our piano program,” Wendelken explains. “I never knew who to recommend before. Now, we have the best teachers assembled to offer instruction for all of these different instruments.” Students from age 5 through professional level adults benefit from the studio’s faculty of nine concert-trained instructors, each of whom, Wendelken says, have (or are in the process of earning) a Master’s degree in their craft and hold extensive experience in musical education. The studio’s staff includes: classical pianists Ines de Erausquin (Webster University, St. Louis, MO) and Shawna Stushnoff (Concordia College, Morehead, MN); classical violinists Roy Meyer (University of Wisconsin, Madison); and Bonnie Deeds (State University of New York, or SUNY-Fredonia); classical cellist Mikel Thomas (Boston Conservatory of Music); guitarist Cameron Schmitz (Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA), musicianship instructor Natalya Kushnir (Moscow Conservatory of Music, Moscow, Russia) and, of course,

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Wendelken herself, who teaches intermediate and advanced piano. Wendelken began her education as a pre-med student at Kent State University in Kent, OH, before deciding to pursue a career in music education. She graduated from SUNY-Purchase with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Piano Performance in 1990, before attending the Royal Academy of Music in London. After graduating in 1993 with a Master’s degree in Piano Performance, she says that she remained in England before moving to Tampa Palms in 1994. In 1998, the same year she opened her piano studio, Wendelken initiated an alliance with Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) to offer musicians in Tampa a choice beyond the ordinary. Wendelken’s studio offers structured curricula that qualify her students for RCM exams, plus the opportunity to participate in local competitions. RCM exams, which give the student college credit toward the Associate Diploma from RCM, are performed in front of an RCM examiner who visits from Toronto. If a student demonstrates proficiency, he or she can earn credit for the course. To earn a diploma from RCM, students must travel to Toronto and perform a recital in front of the RCM faculty. If a student decides not to travel to RCM, Wendelken says that the credits are transferable to music programs at most universities.

An Alternative To Technology

Even with the countless distractions that compete for kids’ attention these days, Wendelken says the benefits of music education and the sheer joy of learning music seem to be holding their own very well in 2014. According to a 2012 study by University Hospital San Raffaele (in Milan, Italy), standardized tests scores are higher for children who play an instrument. Young minds also benefit from working in an ensemble, while adhering to a regular practice schedule hones discipline and timemanagement skills. But, the study goes further than that, stating that musician’s brains, as

measured by MRIs, actually work differently than the brains of non-musicians: musicians develop neuropathways that promote divergent thinking and better cognitive skills. “I wouldn’t skip going to a state competition or taking my RCM exam for any other event,” stated Austin Booth, a senior at Tampa’s Jesuit High School. “Being part of the music events, performing, working toward a goal, makThe instructors at the Wendelken Studio of Musical Arts in Tampa ing friends, these are Palms are: (l. to r.) Roy Meyer, Mary Wendelken, Ines de Erausquin all part of the fun. It’s (seated), Cameron Schmitz, Mikel Thomas (with cello) & Shawna a real skill to play well, Stushnoff. Not pictured: Bonnie Deeds & Natalya Kushnir. and it’s not something “Founding School,” an honor currently you can just do easily. It’s like training only held by about 150 select music for the Olympics, music-style.” schools in Canada and the U.S. When Wendelken Piano Studio Long-time Wendelken Studio became Florida’s first RCM “Satellite student and New Tampa resident Alex School” in 2004, the goal was to fuse Krajcevska says, “Being part of the stuthe traditional training with the evolvdio for nine years, I’ve been able to see ing energy, interests and the minds of (it) grow and change. I think that the children. Recognizing that to progress, integration of new classical instruments music education must evolve with the adds greater dimension to and interest times, Wendelken has trained scores in the program. Seeing these different of musicians with the same hands-on instrumentalists at group performance classical technique she’s received during classes is inspiring for everyone.” her years of study in Manhattan and Wendelken says that Grace EpiscoLondon, but with a flexibility and hupal, with its big windows open to a semor beyond that often found in “strict” rene conservation area, is proving to be classical music. She says, “There are few a perfect locale for her newly expanded musicians who have received the very program. “Known to be very supportbest training; still fewer who teach it; I ive of the classical arts, Grace Episcopal wanted to fill that niche in Tampa Bay, was the right location to make this and do it with love and joy.” expansion possible,” Wendelken says, College admissions officers point while pointing out the soulful sounds out that the RCM aspect definitely capof a cello echoing through the church tures the attention of college admission corridor. “Parents often mention how officials. “Ask any college-bound student if they play piano and many will say peaceful the setting is. It’s a wonderful they do,” says RCM spokesperson Jesse place for an acoustic lesson.” Cooney. “But, ask the same students if She adds that her studio, with its they have achieved Royal Conservatory reputation for excellence, has attracted credit or similar status and you are look- students not only from the New Taming at one in a thousand.” pa/Wesley Chapel area, but also from as This year, the Wendelken Studio of far away as Spring Hill, Tarpon Springs, Musical Arts is to be named an RCM St. Petersburg, Valrico and Bradenton.

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cal festival and the annual State FFMC competition in Jacksonville, where more than 96-percent of Wendelken’s students qualify for State every year. Such commitment to excellence has produced remarkable results. This past spring, former Sunlake High senior Lauren Vaccaro was offered scholarships to major in Piano Performance at several universities, choosing the prestigious music department at Wendelken Studio of Musical Arts students observe the studio’s Florida State University in Tallahassee, where she now chamber music trio in action. is studying with Professor Students from Saskatchewan, Canada, Joel Hastings. and Ohio have found the school when Lauren says, “I studied at the Wenre-locating to the area, enabling them to delken Piano Studio for six years. It was continue their RCM training. the only place I could find where there “We have students, from beginners was a set curriculum, the same used to advanced, who want to take their at RCM. Not only was I educated in music to the next level, and even several piano performance, but in music theory, professional musicians in the area who ear training, etc. My music opportuniare looking to hone their skills.” Wenties increased because of all the skills delken says. “Everyone seems to love I acquired from the Studio. The best that, in addition to the RCM program, memories, though, were of going to the we also do things like little fun recitState competition and hanging out with als with themes. For example, we did a the other students, playing cards in the recital for Mozart’s 250th birthday and hotel lobby, performing duets with my also do period-oriented themes, such as partner Joshua, and making memories for the Baroque period.” with friends.” Wendelken Studio students also Dr. Deborah Plant, an adult Wenget to participate in the annual Florida delken Studio student and New Tampa Federation of Music Clubs (FFMC) lo-

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resident says, “I like to know that my skills are building and what my benchmarks are in terms of technique and performance.” Dr. Plant says, “The school, designed for your success, is structured so that you can clearly see your path to progress.” The Wendelken Studio for the Musical Arts and its students are proud to contribute to their community through fund-raising concerts. On November 16, the studio co-hosted two Helping Hands Benefit Concerts to raise donations for Metropolitan Ministries at Grace Episcopal, raising more than $7,000 in ticket sales, donations and sponsorships for people who are in need in the Tampa Bay area.

Whether the instrument of choice for you or your child is piano, strings or voice, the Wendelken Studio for the Musical Arts accommodates students who are devoted to their music and developing their skills as a craft. “Loving the process and not just the result is essential,” Wendelken says. “We teach patience, perseverance and stamina. Things today are transient; but classical musical training and love of music is for life.” The Wendelken Studio for the Musical Arts is located adjacent to Grace Episcopal Church at 15102 Amberly Dr. in Tampa Palms. For more info, call 978-1771 or visit TampaPiano.com.

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Christian Brothers Automotive Is The ‘Nice Difference’ In Auto Repair By Bonnie Mason

What do fair, competent and truthful have in common? These are the words that customers of Christian Brothers (Bros.) Automotive use over and over again to describe the auto repair service at the two local locations (which serve the residents of Land O’Lakes, Lutz, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel) of this nationwide chain. These two franchised locations are quickly making a name for themselves and becoming known as the neighborhood experts for auto repairs and services. Larry Giannone and his wife Cindy own and operate the Christian Brothers Automotive location in Land O’ Lakes, located just off S.R. 54 near Livingston Rd. The Giannones celebrated their two-year anniversary in business just last month. And, Marty LaBarbera, owner and operator of the Christian Bros. Automotive location in New Tampa, off Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., celebrated his first anniversary in business in January. The owners of both franchise locations agree that the Christian Bros. Automotive company delivers on its promise of a car repair service business model unlike any others — based on honesty, integrity and Christian values. LaBarbera says, “We talk to you straight. Our goal is to treat you like family and your car like our family car.” Both locations offer a free courtesy

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shuttle for the convenience of their customers every weekday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. From “A to T” — or from air conditioning, air filtration and alignments to transmission service and tire rotations — as well as everything in between, the two local Christian Bros. Automotive service centers continue to impress their customers, with expert, master automotive technicians who provide honest, quality work. “Our staff is highly trained in all of the technologies of auto repairs,” says Giannone. “We have a dedicated staff who will walk you through every aspect of your car.” Each Christian Bros. customer is provided with a checklist of items that need to be addressed in order to get their car purring to perfection. The technicians help the car owner to prioritize the list of needed repairs or services. Desiree P., a customer of the Land O’Lakes location, says, “From my first call to make an appointment, I was impressed. It was so nice to feel respected and welcomed in their shop. After they completed the tire rotation, the technicians explained in order of priority the items they uncovered that needed to be fixed and why. They also told me what could wait and how long each of those things could wait. I can always count on the same consistent service each and every time I visit the shop.” Both Giannone and LaBarbera

agree that preventive maintenance is the key to a properly running vehicle. LaBarbera says, “You can get 250,000 miles out of most of today’s cars—with preventive maintenance and making repairs when necessary.” Reagan and Vince Gandy, customers of the New Tampa location, say that they find Marty La Barbera (3rd from left) and his crew at the New TamChristian Bros. to be “consistent, ethical and pa Christian Brothers Automotive location on BBD are ready to serve you and your vehicle. efficient. They give you the straight scoop and able to relate to the customers and serve provide all of the information you need them the way the owner would want to to make repair decisions.” be served.” Giannone and LaBarbera both say that they are proud to carry on the All Part Of The Plan The Christian Brothers Automotive Christian Bros. tradition. “Even our warranty is for the benefit of our cusCorp. was founded in 1981 in Mission Bend, TX, a suburb of Houston, by two tomers,” says LaBarbera. “All parts and labor come with a two-year or 24,000“Brothers in Christ” who were in Sunday Bible school together with a mission mile warranty, based upon your driving habits, to benefit you.” to treat their customers both fairly and He explains that while most auto competently. repair warranties expire at the earliest Plus, the company’s website, which of the two limits (miles or months), the also has information about all 125+ Christian Bros. warranty is just the opChristian Bros. locations in 15 southern posite. “Your warranty will expire after and midwestern U.S. states, says that two years or 24,000 miles, whichever the owner of the local business being benefits you the most,” LaBarbera says. onsite at each center helps build rela“That means if it takes you three years tionships, and ensures that the owner is

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(


David Knecht, a customer of the New Tampa location, says, “Here are four reasons why I choose to have my car serviced at Christian Brothers. I do not know which is primary. 1. I trust Marty LaBarbera and his crew. 2. Their location and the ride home for waiting customers are very convenient. 3. They have the technical capability and (L-R): Larry Giannone (2nd from right) and his crew at the Land O’Lakes location can keep any car (like this equipment for anything I Corvette) running well beyond its prime with preventive maintenance expertise and an eye for detail. need done. 4. The price is always fair.” facturer representative and managed to to put 24,000 miles on your car, your The Giannones are originally from weather the storm of several corporate warranty will still be valid during that Arlington Heights, IL, but moved to acquisitions, before he and his wife dethird year. Or, if you put 40,000 miles the Tampa Bay area nearly 15 years ago cided they wanted their own business. on your car in two years, your repair to be closer to Larry’s parents, who had “The Christian Brothers business warranty will still be valid until the end retired to Naples. model was just what we were looking of that second year.” LaBarbera was born and raised in for,” Giannone says. In the model, each That 2-year/24,000-mile warranty store, no matter the location, is uniform California, then moved to Austin, TX, is valid at any Christian Bros. location, in 1991, where he spent 40 years as a and looks exactly the same. The waitnationwide. If you’ve had your car criminologist, consulting with various repaired at a location in Florida and that ing rooms are spotless (much like the agencies and departments of corrections shop area), stocked with comfy, leather part fails while you’re on vacation in to redesign prison management systems, couches that usually are empty because Texas, you’re still covered. At Christian before retiring to Florida. His ‘retireof Christian Bros. courtesy car service Bros. Auto, this is called the “Nice Difment’ has allowed him to pursue two of that will take you to work, the gym, to ference Warranty.” his passions — his love of cars and his pick up the kids from school, and just In addition to the respect and about anything else that you are unable love for sailing. integrity shown to customers, the shops In 2005, LaBarbera approached to do while your car is being repaired. themselves are immaculate and devoid Christian Bros. to propose opening a of spare parts littering the floors or pud- The model, founded upon Christian franchise in Florida. The company took ideals, also is based on honesty. dles of oil or grease. LaBarbera explains that, “we might his interest to heart, he says, and he Both local franchise owners are accompanied company representatives not tell you what you want to hear living out their dreams by owning their to Florida to scout out the perfect locaabout your vehicle, but we’re going to own automotive service shops. Giantions for the brand. Although LaBartell you the truth.” none spent many years as a parts manu-

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bera had the initial interest in opening a Christian Bros. location in Florida, Larry and Cindy opened their Land O’ Lakes location a year earlier. “Larry’s store is the 98th and mine is the 111th franchise of 124 to open, nationwide” says LaBarbera. “It took me a little longer to choose a location.” The local Christian Bros. Auto centers serve more than just the automotive needs of Lutz, Land O’Lakes, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel. Giannone and LaBarbera also work to better the community by participating in local charity events. The company also holds its own canned food drives to donate to local food banks and sponsor an annual service day each October, during which the stores partner with local churches to provide free oil changes to single mothers and widows. The service day is an annual Christian Bros. event that was begun in 2010. In 2013, more than 1,800 single mothers received free oil changes across the U.S., nearly 80 of which were served at the two local Christian Bros. locations. Marty LaBarbera’s New Tampa Christian Brothers Automotive service center is located at 20303 Trout Creek Dr., For more information, call 991-7007. Larry and Cindy Giannone’s Land O’ Lakes Christian Bros. service center is located at 23650 Venezia Dr., just off S.R. 54. For questions or appointments, call 2008118. Online information is available at CBAC.com.

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AOL MMA Teaches Discipline, Mixed Martial Arts For All Ages By Lauren Saslow

Martial arts have been a part of nearly every ancient society as a form of warfare training, including the Japanese, Greeks and Egyptians, and the sport has continued to evolve over time in many cultures around the globe. In recent years, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which combines many of the world’s martial arts forms, has received significant media exposure, making it one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., sparking a rise in gyms that help teach this unique form of self-defense and combat. Since last March, American Olympic League (AOL) Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), located about one mile east of Saddlebrook on S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel (a few minutes north of New Tampa), has been offering training for judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), wrestling, weightlifting, traditional boxing and MMA to men, women and children of all ability levels. The gym is a member of USA Boxing, USA Judo, the International Judo Federation, USA Wrestling and the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. The programs available at the gym allow participants to focus on either fitness or intense combat training, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced student. As owner and general manager Carlos Valle-Mercado explains, many current students at the gym train somewhere else initially, but they choose AOL MMA because, “We focus on individual needs. Not everyone wants to fight. Some simply want to get into better shape.” For example, the hybrid MMA MatFit class includes a mixture of CrossFit exercise and MMA moves, without the sparring. Weightlifting classes teach individuals how to compete in a strength sport with the use of squats, bench presses and deadlifts. The ancient Japanese martial art of judo, the “parent” art of Jiu-Jitsu, focuses on physical training similar to wrestling using the principles of balance and leverage. BJJ uses grappling

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and ground fighting, along with joint locks and choke holds, to force opponents into submission, promoting the principle that a smaller, weaker person can use leverage to successfully defend themselves against larger, stronger opponents. Meanwhile, MMA is a full-contact sport that allows striking and grappling techniques while standing or while on the ground, and mixes the skills used in boxing, BJJ and wrestling. The sport of MMA has experienced increased popularity in the U.S. since the epic Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rematch in 2006 between light-heavyweights Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. AOL MMA boasts 5,000 sq. ft. of space, including 2,000 sq. ft. of open mats. The other 3,000 sq. ft. houses a professional boxing ring and a competition MMA cage. The delivery and assembly of the cage — from Monster Cages in Kentucky — was even featured on the A&E cable television show, “Shipping Wars” (Season 5, Episode 2, which originally aired on Dec. 3, 2013). There are additional buildings on the property for the weight room and before- and after-school programs for kids ages 6 and up. MMA student Juan Rivera, of Zephyrhills, has been training at AOL MMA for six months. He started training in the martial arts 20 years ago, starting with Kempo Karate, and later studying kickboxing and MMA. “I like the openness of the gym at AOL MMA, and that it has a boxing ring and cage,” Rivera explains.

An All-Star Staff Of Trainers

The husband-and-wife team of trainers at AOL MMA, Íngrid Medrano-Cuéllar and Franklin Cisneros, both earned spots on the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics team representing their native country, El Salvador. Sensei Cisneros holds a Black Belt 4th Dan (a ranking system in martial arts) in judo and a Black Belt in BJJ. Cisneros has lived, trained and competed in numerous countries around the world in the

(L.-r.): Former WBO welterweight champion and boxing trainer Carlos “El Indio” Quintana, owners Sensei Franklin Cisneros and Íngrid Medrano-Cuéllar (with Matheo Cisneros) will toughen you up at AOL MMA on S.R. 54 inWesley Chapel. half-middleweight (160-178 pounds, gym. The Puerto Rican-born Carlos “El a weight class found in Judo) category Indio” Quintana, a former welterweight and also is an experienced MMA fighter. world champion in the World Boxing Organization (WBO), retired a little Medrano-Cuellar, a mere five feet more than a year ago and now teaches tall, is an elite level freestyle wrestler boxing classes to young children and who has competed in the 48 kg (or adults. under 105.5 pounds) category worldEven Valle has benefited from the wide. Her training, skill and strength are so advanced that she is capable of taking BJJ training with AOL MMA instrucdown male competitors on the mat who tors, and says that he has lost more than 50 lbs. — 30 of which were lost from are as tall and strong as her husband — training alone, while the other 25 he who stands 5’8” and weighs in at 190 says he lost using a combination of diet pounds! and exercise. He also says that he has Medrano-Cuellar currently is trainlost at least 10 percent of his body fat, as ing one of AOL MMA’s most promiswell as gained muscle mass. ing students, Caitlyn Doers, 16, who “I have definition in my arms and already has won championships at the calves, too,” Valle expresses proudly. 2013 North American Grappling Asso“I’m still losing weight.” Valle even ciation (NAGA) Pan American Grappling Championship in Lakeland, FL, in utilizes a calorie counter that shows that he burns up to 1,100 calories per hour the Female Teen Division — including during his training! first place in the 130 lb. (welterweight) class and a second place in the Absolute From Humble Beginnings Championship (which has no weight For Valle, the civil war in El Salvador (spanning from 1979-92) restriction) class. was a daily reality, with the military Professional boxer, referee and fighting the leftist party, known as the coach, Jerry M. Reyes — who trained Farabundo Mari National Liberation the late six-time world champion boxer, Hector “Macho” Camacho a.k.a. Front (Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion or FMLN). Valle (now 32) says “Macho Man” — is a Licensed Trainer that he grew up in the capital city of (through the Florida Dept. of BusiSan Salvador in the throes of political ness & Professional Regulation) at the

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(Left) Sensei Franklin Cisneros teaches Jiu-Jitsu techniques during a kids class. (Right) Alyssa Pierro, 15, of Wesley Chapel, trains with former World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Carlos “El Indio” Quintana. turmoil. Despite his efforts to become cian for a construction company,” Valle League of Wesley Chapel (SLWC), a doctor, first studying electrical engiexplains. “I worked my way up and all of which are located on the same neering (1999-2001) at Universidad then decided I didn’t want to work for property. SLWC was created in January Evangelica in San Salvador and later anyone else.” of this year to allow underprivileged shifting to the university’s medical He adds that he never has rechildren to train on full scholarships at school (2001-02), the realization that turned to his native country. “I AOL MMA and take advantage of the as a doctor in his native land he would remember the end,” he recalls of the before- and after-school program. only earn about $300 per month after Salvadorian peace accords in January Aiseen Reyes, a Wesley Chapel eight years of college was discouraging. 1992. “Everyone thought there would resident, has two young (ages 8 and Valle says that he emigrated to the U.S. be peace in El Salvador, but we were 9) boys in the before- and after-school in 2003 with only a backpack, and the wrong. It’s scary there. We take secuprogram, in addition to the kids’ jeans and shirt he was wearing, settling rity for granted in (the U.S.).” athletic classes. Her children were the in the basement of his relatives’ home Valle moved to Florida six years first to join the AOL MMA program. in Alexandria, VA. ago, and now is the owner and general She says she likes that the children “The toughest part was the manager of not only AOL MMA, but get assistance with homework from a transition from medical school to my also of Valle Auto Auction (located retired teacher and receive martial arts first jobs as a dishwasher in a Mexican next to AOL MMA on S.R. 54) and training, all for an affordable price. restaurant and as a self-taught technithe non-profit organization, Sports “It keeps them active,” Reyes says.

“They learn self-defense and discipline. I like that.” She has witnessed first-hand the rapid growth that AOL MMA has experienced since last summer. “Seven months ago, there were only four children in the kids’ classes,” she notes. “Now, there are more than ten boys and girls who attend regularly. It inspires me that as they grow and mature with the program, they can learn leadership skills, too.” Reyes adds that the AOL MMA instructors vary the exercises so much that it demands extreme focus from the young athletes. “I haven’t seen anything repeated, so the kids have to pay attention,” she says. Valle also organizes “Fight Night” every month at the Freedom High gymnasium in Tampa Palms, which features at least ten fights. He says the first card at Freedom was held on Feb. 15 and shown on Mundo Fox (a Spanish Fox network cable television station) on Feb. 22. He adds that the Fight Night card on Saturday, March 22, will feature USA Boxing. The general public can purchase tickets for these events for $15 at Valle Auto Auction (30115 S.R. 54) or at the WingHouse of Wesley Chapel (5510 Post Oak Blvd.). AOL MMA is located at 30115 S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel. For more information, call 526-3594 or visit AOLMMA.com.

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Puddles Be Gone; Wharton Cuts A Ribbon For New Track Facility By Matt Wiley

Gone are the days of standing water and weathering asphalt under the feet of runners on the track at Paul R. Wharton High, as the school recently cut a ribbon and held the first track meet on its new and improved track & field facility. For years, the asphalt track at Wharton had been a less-than-ideal place for meets, as rainwater could still sometimes be standing almost a week after a shower, said principal Bradley Woods at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 11, just in time for the Spring 2014 outdoor track season. “(Wharton) now has a premiere track facility to host meets for years to come,” Woods said. The new, $150,000 track was installed by Amherst, OH-based All American Tracks and features eight lanes of TopTrax — a mixture of rubber that is bonded with polyurethane and latex—which sits atop the resurfaced original asphalt. According to the All American Track website, the TopTrax material is made to be weather-resistant and also helps to reduce knee shock in runners. The parents of track and field athletes, as well as the Wharton Boosters, PTSA, administration, athletes and alumni, raised half of the money, which was matched by the Hillsborough County School District (HCSD).

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Wharton track coach Wes Newton said that the track hadn’t been resurfaced since it was built when the school opened in 1997. In recent years, Newton said, training sometimes had to be held on the field on the inside of the track to prevent athletes from getting injured on the aging asphalt. “The new track will provide greater cushioning and protection from injury, will be extremely durable and great for all weather conditions, as it drains faster than most regular latex rubberized tracks,” Newton said. The drainage around the football field itself also was upgraded as part of Wharton principal Bradley Woods (blue shirt) and track coach Wes Newton (white hat) cut the ribbon for the school’s new track facility on February 11. the project, Woods said. Fundraising for the new track began in December 2011 with “Project S.O.S.: Save Our Shins,” in hopes of raising $100,000 for the much-needed upgrades. Newton himself is lucky to have the opportunity to be able to test the new track, after a fall from a ladder in July 2012 left him with two broken vertebrae in his neck. However, thanks to an emergency medical surgery and months of physical therapy at Tampa General Hospital (TGH), Newton is back to coaching less than two years after his accident and can now put the track that he envisioned for his athletes to good use. Wharton will host rival Freedom High on the new track in a District 4A-6 dual meet on Friday, April 11.

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Freedom & Wharton Athletes Commit To Colleges On National Signing Day! By Matt Wiley

While February may mean cooler temperatures, the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day to many, the month is known amongst high school athletes for a day that can determine the rest of both their athletic and academic careers: National Signing Day. During their ceremonies on Feb. 5, a total of eleven athletes — seven from both Freedom and four from Paul R. Wharton High — put pen to paper and signed Letters of Intent to play at the next level at colleges across the country in their respective sports. A morning ceremony at Wharton High, located on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in New Tampa, saw four young athletes signing with colleges to play football, soccer and tennis at the next level. Wharton senior Jordan Lue, who played varsity soccer his freshman and sophomore years, signed to play soccer at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. Lue said that he is ready to “dive in” to playing college soccer. Lue has played for the Clearwater Chargers Soccer Club competitive team for the past two years. Samuel Chaffin signed to play tennis at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero. Chaffin, a three-star recruit, currently is ranked 259th in the country and 29th in the state, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. Daniel Ibsen signed to play football at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. Ibsen, a defensive lineman, averaged 7 sacks per season in his three years playing for the Wildcats. Antonio Joseph said signing to play football for Bethune Cookman University,

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Seven athletes from Freedom High in Tampa Palms (left) and four from Paul R. Wharton High on Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in New Tampa signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers on college scholarships on National Signing Day. located in Daytona Beach, “is a dream come true.” Joseph, a four-year varsity defensive end, finished the 2012-13 season with 32 tackles, averaging four per game. A little further south at Freedom High in Tampa Palms, seven athletes took the leap and also signed their letters of intent during a large ceremony in the school’s media center. Freedom senior soccer players Dana Jones and Hanna Seybold committed to Wilmington University in New Castle, DE, and Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA, respectively. Jones received Honorable Mention for the 2013 All-Hillsborough County soccer team. Senior swimmer Marc Berson signed with Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, ME. The day before the signing ceremony,

Berson received the Swope, Rodante Vanguard Student Athlete of the Month award, which is given to outstanding athletes, along with a $1,000 donation to the school’s athletic department. Berson also received Honorable Mention for The Tampa Tribune’s All-Hillsborough County swim team and currently holds several school swimming records. CollegeSwimming.com ranks Berson as the 101st best swimmer in the state. Andrew Anderson signed with Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, CO, to play baseball. The shortstop batted .240 in his 44 games as a Patriot, with 25 hits and 11 RBIs, scoring 22 runs. Jason Canada committed to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he will continue his football career. While playing

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as a varsity linebacker for Freedom, Canada racked up 75 tackles, averaging 2.6 per game. Meanwhile, Freedom offensive lineman Dillon Browne signed with the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. During his time as a Patriot, he racked up 34 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Dejohntae “DJ” Grant, who played both as a quarterback and wide receiver for the Patriots, signed with Warner University in Lake Wales, FL. Grant was on the varsity roaster as a quarterback during both his junior and senior years, although he passed for a total of only 327 yards on 34 completions. Congratulations to all of the New Tampa athletes who signed collegiate letters of intent during this year’s National Signing Day!

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‘Basketball’

Continued From Page 1 can’t just cross us off the list as an automatic win anymore.”

Wharton Wins 5th Dist. Title

Although their postseason run may have ended a few games earlier than last season’s trip to the FHSAA Class 8A Final Four, Wharton was able to retain its District 8A-7 title at the Wildcats’ Bruce B. Downs Blvd. campus for the fifth straight year. “I’m tremendously proud of what this group of players has accomplished,” said ‘Cats head coach Tommy Tonelli. Wharton defeated the Newsome High Wolves 40-37 in a Feb. 7 nail-biter to clinch the District crown and gain home-court advantage during the first round of the Regional playoffs on Feb. 13, in which the host Wildcats obliterated the Palm Harbor University Hurricanes 55-23. Despite losing a large group of seniors last year, Tonelli still was able to coach his team to a 20-7 (8-2 in the District) record. However, he said the season-ending 63-45 loss against the St. Petersburg High Green Devils on Feb. 18 still stung. “We had beaten St. Pete in the Northeast Holiday Tournament championship in December,” Tonelli explains. “But, they’re an outstanding team. There was no shame in losing to them.”

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Although it was only a six-point game at halftime, the Green Devils ran away with it in the second half to move on in the Regional playoffs, 63-45. “We missed some key free throws and turned over the ball,” Tonelli says. “But, we still played well. We just couldn’t keep up.” Tonelli says that although everyone played well together this season, performances from senior captain and point guard Jack Taylor, senior forward Chase Litton, junior center Auden Tate and junior guard John Christian were noteworthy. But, even though he’s losing another group of great seniors, Tonelli doesn’t seem too phased. “We had a good group of juniors this year that will be returning and some guys that came up from JV,” Tonelli explained. “I’m encouraged and excited for next season.” And, why shouldn’t he be encouraged? Tonelli, who has averaged 20 wins a season in his 15 total years at the helm of the ‘Cats, always seems to be able to find outstanding talent and get it to mesh together in time for another playoff run. We’re always looking for sports freelance writers to help us cover the myriad of boys and girls sports other than high school football and basketball all season long. Submit a short (no more than 600 words) writing sample to Matt@NTNeighborhoodNews.com to apply and for more details, including possible pay.

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Peppe’s Back At Biagio’s Pizza & Pasta On Cross Creek Blvd.! By Gary Nager Photos by Matt Wiley

Despite the abundance of delicious New York-style pizza in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, I recommend visiting Biagio’s II Pizza & Pasta, located in the only part of the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center that actually faces Cross Creek Blvd. Mo, who purchased Biagio’s in June of 2013, is proud to announce that Peppe, the popular long-time pizza maker who helped make Biagio’s so popular with local residents, has been back since January. That means that whether you’ve never checked out Biagio’s before, or if it’s simply been a while since you’ve sampled “Gourmet Food at Pizzeria Prices,” you owe it to yourself to give it a

(L. to r.) Among our editor’s favorite dishes at Biagio’s II Pizza & Pasta on Cross Creek Blvd. are the “rigatoni Leo” and chicken parmigiana with spaghetti. Marwa, Mo, Peppe & Tyler invite you to enjoy Biagio’s excellent NY-style pizza and Italian specialties seven days a week.

try now. I promise you’ll enjoy it. Everything we’ve sampled at Biagio’s the past couple of weeks has definitely been yummy, including the excellent, custom-made-for-us Margherita-style pizza pictured below, as well as the tasty chicken parmigiana pizza, which is always among the several different

varieties available by the slice anytime you visit. Our office also really enjoyed a half-sausage, half-cheese large NY-style pie, and sales and office assistant Antwon Gildon gave high marks to his gourmet slice and garlic knots that came with his two-slice lunch special (a fountain drink also included for just $6.50!). I also recently chowed down on a tender and delicious half veal parmigiana sub and I can tell you that Mo, Peppe and Biagio’s really are building something truly yummy in our area. Among our office’s other favorite dishes were the meaty lasagne we all shared, assistant editor Matt Wiley’s portobello panini sandwich and general manager Nikki Bennett’s chicken Cardinal, which is two grilled breasts topped with spinach, roasted peppers and You can design your own specialty pizza at Biagio’s, like this Margherita-style pizza Peppe (above) fresh mozzarella in a savory custom-designed for us during a recent visit.

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brown sauce. I also enjoyed the rigatoni Leo, which was served al denté as I ordered it, with grilled chicken, spinach and sundried tomatoes in a unique pink sauce. All very tasty indeed! Because Biagio’s is more than just a pizza place, the menu is huge and even offers fresh homemade ravioli (I haven’t tried those yet), including lobster ravioli, hot and cold subs and wraps and even “Pastabilities” (where you create your own pasta). There’s even a variety of See “Biagio’s” on page 55.

Asst. editor Matt Wiley recommends giving this portobello panini a try.

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T

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Tampa Palms Scout Collects 2,000 Books For TPE During Eagle Scout Project By Matt Wiley

Jacob Shuster likes to read. He read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged cover-to-cover when he was 14. Reading is something that has stuck with him since the time he spent at Tampa Palms Elementary (TPE), the first school to open in the New Tampa area (located on Tampa Palms Blvd.), where he also learned to read. Now 16 and a freshman at Freedom High (on Commerce Park Blvd. in Tampa Palms), Shuster is hard at work on another one of his passions — becoming an Eagle Scout. To receive the prestigious honor that fewer than five percent of all Boy Scouts actually go on to earn, a scout has to complete a project that benefits the community and puts him in a position of leadership, during which time he manages other people. Although he still has two years to become an Eagle with Troop 142, which meets at St. James United Methodist Church on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., also in Tampa Palms, Shuster has already gotten started. To help repay TPE for helping him learn to read, Shuster decided to organize a book drive for the school. “I’ve stayed in contact with (TPE) principal Kimberly Keenan,”

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Shuster says. “She recommended the project because a lot of kids that come from less fortunate neighborhoods don’t have books to read at home.” Shuster decided to hold a weeklong book drive at the school from January 27-31, during which time he was able to collect more than 2,000 books. One day during the drive, he dressed up in an eagle outfit (which also is TPE’s mascot) and greeted young students outside the school and visited classrooms. “The kids seemed really thrilled to see an eagle walking into their class,” he says. Thanks to the book drive, Shuster says that teachers will be able to stock their classroom libraries with some of the books from the drive and students will be able to take some of the books home, as well. In addition to the book drive, Shuster also is in the process of building a drive-up book drop box so that books can be donated to the school at any time. Donation bins and banners from the drive have been left with the TPE PTA for future use. Shuster says that the project has allowed him to put what he has learned through scouting to the test. “I’ve learned a lot from the project,” he explains. “It’s taught me

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budgeting, management of others and organization. It wasn’t as easy as it looked.” For additional information about Boy Scout Troop 142, visit My Troop142. org.

Jacob Shuster (right) greets students dressed as an eagle during the book drive he organized as part of his Eagle Scout project.

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Honest Abe 5K Race Surpasses Goal Of More Than 100 Runners! Our congratulations go out to Chantil McLeod of Bain Complete Fitness (907-6227), the chairperson of this year’s 4th annual Honest Abe 5K road race on Feb. 15. The race, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel and St. Leo University and a dozen or so other sponsors, was a huge success, despite some inclement weather, thanks to McLeod and her outstanding committee of volunteers. A post-race hot breakfast ,provided by A Dash of Salt & Pepper on Cross Creek Blvd., was waiting for the runners at American Consulting Engineers, located just off S.R. 56 on Cypress Ridge Blvd. in Wesley Chapel. Although we didn’t have the actual race results (we were unable to attend the event, so these photos and some of the info came from our friend Tony Masella at OurTownFla.com), we do know that at least 105 runners participated (surpassing McLeod’s goal of 100) and between the sponsors and runners, about $7,000 was raised, which will be donated to the Wesley Chapel Rotary and its selected charities. More than 100 runners, plus some Boy Scouts and Honest Abe Lincoln himself, were on hand for the Congratulations, Chantil and Honest Abe 5K road race, which was held off S.R. 56 in Wesley Chapel on Feb. 15. crew. Sorry we missed it! — GN Our thanks to Tony Masella of OurTownFla.com for providing these great pics!

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‘Biagio’s’

Continued From Page 47

tasty soups (I really enjoyed the zesty pasta fagioli), hot appetizers like fried calamari and even sides like spinach, broccoli or mushrooms sautéed in garlic and oil. The homemade desserts include zeppoles and even baklava. Mo, who has lived in New Tampa for three years, was a doctor in his native Egypt, but has raised his four children (three daughters and a son) in the U.S. — and all of them are now in school in or near the Tampa Bay area. In fact, Mo’s daughter Marwa, who is in pre-med herself at USF and hopes to become a surgeon or dentist someday, actually helps her dad out in the restaurant while she’s in school, as does daughter May, a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology at the University of Tampa. Daughter Marim also is in pre-med at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, while son Mo is a senior at Wiregrass Ranch

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The chicken Cardinal at Biagio’s is as delicious to eat as it looks.

High in Wesley Chapel. And, Eman, the children’s mother, is a civil engineer. For more information about Biagio’s II (located at 10359 Cross Creek Blvd.), visit BiagiosTampa.com or call 973-4343. Take out, delivery and even large catering orders are always available. Biagio’s is open MondayThursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and noon-9 p.m. on Sunday.

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La Fuente Real Mexican Restaurant Adds Cuban Cuisine & Breakfast! By Gary Nager

Some people like Mexican food, while others prefer authentic Cuban cuisine. But, if you’re like me, you probably enjoy a little of both, and that’s what sets La Fuente Real Mexican Restaurant & Cuban Café in the Cross Creek Center plaza (Cross Creek Blvd. at Kinnan St.) apart from any other Latin restaurant in New Tampa. La Fuente owner Roger Rubio has been serving his authentic Mexican fare in our area for about a year, but a couple of months ago, he decided to expand the menu at his restaurant (which is casually comfortable, with plenty of flat-screen Tvs) to include not only tasty Cuban food, but also some of the best Cuban and American breakfast items in our area. In other words, whether or not you’ve been to La Fuente before, now is a great time to give it a shot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Let’s start with breakfast. La Fuente offers everything to start your day, from delicious bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on perfectly pressed Cuban bread to huevos rancheros (an authentic Mexican dish with eggs smothered in a slightly spicy red sauce) to homemade pancakes and even hash browns and grits. I thoroughly enjoyed the unique French toast — made with Cuban bread — and correctly crispy bacon and my buddy Ian said the huevos rancheros were as good

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as any he’s had and he also loved the zesty home fries and sausage patties. And yes, La Fuente’s café con leché is yummy, too, and the perfect way to cap off a great breakfast. Other breakfast items include egg, bacon and cheese wraps, Spanish and Mexican chorizo sausage and egg sandwiches, Cuban cheese toast and even homemade biscuit sandwiches. Good stuff. For lunch or dinner at La (Clockwise from top left): La Fuente Real Fuente, you can choose from Mexican Restaurant & Cuban Café on Cross a variety of Mexican favorites, Creek Blvd. now has great huevos rancheros, from tacos to sizzling fajitas to and Cuban-style French toast. The roast mojo pork is just so tender and tasty. enchiladas and “Platos Especiales” like pollo asado, chile La Fuente even has Puerto relleno and even fresh fish like sautéed Rican fare like arroz con gandules tilapia and grilled salmon. But, if you’re in the mood for a quick (rice with pigeon peas) and other and inexpensive lunch, La Fuente now has dishes you won’t find in most Mexset up a hot table filled with delicious Cu- ican restaurants. There’s also an arban specialties, from roast, shredded mojo ray of great sandwiches from BLTs to grilled steak palomilla, breaded pork to my favorite chicken fricase, picadillo (ground beef) and ropa vieja. There’s or grilled fish and Mexican “tortas” even deviled crabs, masitas (pork chunks), (with chicken or beef, refried beans, avocados and jalapenos) and “media noox tail and pressed Cuban sandwiches, che” (sweet egg bread with baked ham, with authentic sides like platanos (planmojo pork and imported Swiss cheese), all tains), black or red beans and yellow rice, for $3.99-$6.99. yucca and more. And, all of these great Of course, I still also love La Fuente’s Cuban specialties range between $6.99 to sizzling steak and chicken fajitas, the no more than $9.99 for more exotic items nicely spiced carne asada steak (the pico like garlic shrimp or ox tail.

For Advertising Information Call 813-910-2575 • Volume 22, Issue 5 • March 1, 2014 • www.NTNeighborhoodNews.com

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de gallo is outstanding) and the La Fuente Superior, with grilled chicken and beef, chorizo, onions, peppers, jack cheese, guacamole and sour cream. And, not only does La Fuente have great Mexican beers like Modelo Especial and Negro Modelo on draft, there’s also homemade sangria, wines by the glass and

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great wine-based margaritas and other cocktails, a nice children’s menu, delicious authentic Latin desserts like banana chimichanga, flan, sopapillas and more. Catering for large or small parties also is available. For more information about La Fuente Real Mexican Restaurant & Cuban Café (10032 Cross Creek Blvd.), call 907-0592, visit MexicanFoodTampa.net. or see (Clockwise from top left): La Fuente’s new Cuthe ad on page 61 for some excel- ban cuisine makes for a quick lunch. We loved lent coupon specials. the carne asada steak and chile rellenos.

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For Advertising Information Call 813-910-2575 • Volume 22, Issue 5 • March 1, 2014 • www.NTNeighborhoodNews.com

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The Latest & Greatest News About Dining, Shopping, Retail & More In New Tampa & Wesley Chapel! New Tampa ‘Biz Buzz’

By Gary Nager & Matt Wiley

Prudential Tropical Joins Berkshire Hathaway

Prudential Tropical Realty, which for several years has had an office in Wesley Chapel (in the Shoppes of New Tampa plaza, at 1830 Bruce B. Downs {BBD} Blvd., just south of the Shops at Wiregrass mall), has joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the new real estate brokerage network operated by HSF Affiliates LLC, and now operates as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Properties Group. Prudential Tropical, a leader in greater Tampa Bay’s residential and commercial real estate markets dating back to 1959, is the next in a growing roster of affiliate companies that have joined the network since September. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices now accounts for more than 22,000 agents and nearly 600 offices in 26 states. “We are proud to represent Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a brand whose namesake is the world’s most respected company, according to Barron’s,” said Dewey Mitchell, broker/ owner at Florida Properties Group. “We strongly believe our new brand will resonate well with clients of all types and help our company grow. Equally important, the brand will help our agents gain even more distinction in the Tampa Bay marketplace.” Broker/owner Allen Crumbley said the decision to join Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was an easy one for him and Mitchell, since the brand reflects Berkshire Hathaway’s values of trust,

We were saddened to learn that Kona Multisport, the triathlon-themed athletic shop which attracted runners, bikers and swimmers from all across our area, had closed. At our press time, we had no direct information as to why the store, located directly next to LA Fitness off County Line Allen Crumbley (left) and Dewey Mitch- Rd., didn’t make it, nor did we have any ell of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices information about what might be coming Florida Properties Group welcomed Pru- to Kona’s space between LA Fitness and dential Tropical Realty into the Berk- the Sweetbay Supermarket. Speaking of fitness, a unique new shire Hathaway family on Jan. 28. fitness center is coming to the former locaintegrity, stability and longevity. “Berktion of Cherry Berry Frozen Yogurt in shire Hathaway HomeServices is a great The Walk at Highwoods Preserve shopping fit for our company because we live center, next to Michael’s Arts & Crafts. these values every day,” he said. If you’re wondering how an Crumbley added that the Berkshire entire group fitness class “gym” can Hathaway HomeServices brand will be fit in Cherry Berry’s small space, then a boon for recruiting. “Anyone in busiyou’ve probably never heard of Pure ness knows that Berkshire Hathaway is Barre Fitness, which is reconfiguring the gold standard of corporations, and the Cherry Berry space as we speak, now we have the exclusive opportunity although we don’t yet know how soon to represent the name in real estate. the ballet “barre”-centered fitness centAgents looking for a brand that is fresh, er will open, but we’ll keep you posted intelligent and respected should look no soon. In the meantime, for more info, farther than this one.” visit PureBarre.com. Mitchell, Crumbley and their ‘Pawppy’ Birthday, NTPR! management team commemorated the New Tampa Pet Resort (NTPR), at brand on January 28, during an agent 3513 E. County Line Rd., less than a mile event at A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa. past the I-75/I-275 overpass, is happy to HSF Affiliates CEO Earl Lee attended the event and welcomed associates to be celebrating six years of serving owners the brand. “You have served your clients pet needs in the community. with distinction for years,” Lee said. “We had a blast today,” says NTPR “We are honored you have joined Berk- owner Lisa Golicher. “Our friends enjoyed shire Hathaway HomeServices.” a complimentary day of play. We (humans For more info, call 907-8200, and pets) swam, chased bubbles, toys and visit BHHSFloridaProperties.com or played with human and other furry friends. see the ad on page 53. We also had a professional photographer

who snapped pictures to be sent to all the guests who attended and all our friends received a special treat at the end of the day.” NTPR, a full-service pet resort and spa, opened for business in February 2008. It features such services as Boarding, Daycare, Grooming, Gourmet Bakery Treats and even veterinarian services at the New Tampa Animal Hospital, an adjacent full-care animal hospital. NTPR has given thousands of dollars back to the Hillsborough and Pasco Communities over these 6 years, including schools, sports teams, local charities along with the Resort’s “pick pet charity of the year.” Since opening NTPR has donated $5 for every new customer. Some of the Pick Charities have included the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Kids & Canines of Hillsborough County, Lost Angels Pet Rescue and this year’s pick charity is Island Dog Rescue, Prevention & Education out of Puerto Rico. NTPR has also given back to their customers through the years by offering free 10th Day of Daycare; free 10th Groom and free 10th Night of Boarding. Lisa says, “Our family have been a part of this great community for the past 17 years. We have made it our mission to always ‘give back’ to the community that is so good to us. Our NTPR team, our customers and the pets we care for have had a great relationship over these years. Thanks to all of our furry and human friends for not only a great anniversary but for many more to come.” For info about New Tampa Pet Resort, call 949-NTPR, see the ad on pg. 45 or visit NewTampaPetResort.com.

Savor the flavors of authentic Italian recipes prepared by Executive Chef Owner Dominick.

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For Advertising Information Call 813-910-2575 • Volume 22, Issue 5 • March 1, 2014 • www.NTNeighborhoodNews.com

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Big Names Coming To WC!

Although there are still a lot of unconfirmed rumors about what new businesses are coming to Wesley Chapel, we have a few for you that we’re at least confident enough to announce. First, the new Wal-Mart, which is quickly coming out of the ground and should be open for business sometime this fall on S.R. 54 (just east of Applebee’s), has plenty of “friends” that will also be built in the area across from Wesley Chapel Nissan and Century Kia of Wesley Chapel, including (drumroll, please), Hooter’s, which of course, couldn’t allow the new Wing House open on S.R. 54 without it’s chief competitor in the wings- and-sexy-shorts-wearing women restaurant/sports bar biz opening nearby. Also reportedly to be included in the plaza around Wal-Mart are Chick-fil-A and Advanced Auto Parts (photo), although a still-not-confirmed rumor certain to excite many locals is that Carrabba’s Italian Grill is seriously looking at the site, so we’ll definitely keep you posted. And, speaking of Applebee’s, we also recently heard a solid rumor that Chili’s Grill & Bar had at least looked at the building previously occupied by Johnny Carino’s and Super Buffet, which just happens to be directly adjacent to Applebee’s. How that would work logistically, we don’t know, but our area always does seem to attract pairs of direct major competitors (Home Depot & Lowe’s, Walgreen’s & CVS, etc.). We also expect a lot of popular places moving on or near S.R. 54 west of I-75 in

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Chuck E. Cheese’s for adults and older kids with more upscale food, also had been looking in The Grove, but has since withdrawn that interest. Again, we’ll keep you posted on all of these and any other new biz developments in our upcoming issues.

And, Some Not-So-Big Ones

the not-too-distant future, starting with Cody’s Roadhouse, which is expected to open in the former location of Remington’s Steakhouse (next to the Pinebrook at The Grove shopping plaza) by sometime this spring. An interesting note is that Cody’s also had taken over the former Remington’s location on E. Bearss Ave. (near BBD) that is now occupied by PJ Dolan’s Irish Pub & Grille. But, perhaps the biggest news of all — at least for Wesley Chapel moms and dads looking for more fun stuff to do with their kids without having to drive — is that it appears that Chuck E. Cheese’s will be coming to a currently vacant parcel of land in The Grove shopping center off Oakley Blvd. (closer to the Cobb 16 movie theaters than to Outback). Although CEC Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of the mouse-themed kids party place with nearly 600 locations nationwide, has yet to confirm that the Chuckster will soon have a local home, the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce was on hand when engineers for CEC were on-site surveying the property. The only sad news to report is that Dave & Buster’s, which is basically like

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Two unique, smaller eateries also have found their way to Wesley Chapel. As I went to press with this issue, I had an opportunity to speak with the owner of the new O.T.B. (“Only the Best”) Delight Cafe, which opened just two or three days earlier. O.T.B. is an attractive café located in the same plaza that also is home to The Hungry Greek, D’Alessio Italian Restaurant, Dickey’s BBQ and the Latin Twist Café (across BBD from Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel), but doesn’t (from its menu) appear to be just like any other place. With the promise of plenty of free range and organic offerings, coupled with cute, inventive menu headings like “Lettuce Entertain You,” “Soup For You” (gotta love that “Soup Nazi” reference from “Seinfeld”), “Funky Cold Cucina”

and “Rice, Rice Baby,” our office is already planning to visit O.T.B. Delight Cafe and take some pics to share with you in our next issue, so stay tuned. O.T.B. Delight Cafe is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 2653 BBD. For more info, call 9738880 or visit OTBDelightCafe.com and tell Dirson, the owner, that we sent you! I’m also super-excited about the Stonemill Artisan Bakery & Desserts, which could be open in the Wesley Chapel Village Market (BBD at S.R. 54) by the time you receive this issue in your mailbox. Stonemill will offer fresh-baked breads and pastries, great coffee, gelato, hand-spun milkshakes and smoothies and more.

Fire Closes Domani Bistro

On a much more somber note, asst. editor Matt Wiley and I were both sad to learn that Domani Bistro — the “Best Entrée” winner at last year’s “Taste of New Tampa” — was closed due to a major kitchen fire that severely damaged the building and an adjacent furniture store. Domani, located on N. Florida Ave. in Old Seminole Heights, is sorely missed.

For Advertising Information Call 813-910-2575 • Volume 22, Issue 5 • March 1, 2014 • www.NTNeighborhoodNews.com

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Wesley Chapel H E L P

W A N T E D

HELP WANTED - Part-Time Community Representative. Personable, friendly individual to provide community information and assist with realtor outreach program for established real estate development. Excellent written and oral communication skills are required. Working knowledge of Excel and Word. Send resume to csummerson@crown-tampa.com. HELP WANTED - Tampa Bay MatchMakers, Tampa Bay’s ONLY certified life coaching and matchmaking company, is seeking a parttime professional with excellent customer care and phone skills, for office administration and marketing responsibilities. Knowledge of Microsoft Office is required. Flexible schedule including afternoon/evening hours. Please email resume to Nancy@TampaBayMatchMakers.com HELP WANTED - Apple device tutoring needed in home! iPad, iPod, iPhone, music playlist organization, well versed in all areas required. $10/hour. Please contact via email: Blewis816@gmail.com. PHYSICAL THERAPIST – An established New Tampa outpatient clinic is hiring a part-time PT to provide customized, one-onone care. Fax resume to (813) 994-3080 HELP WANTED - Looking for hairstylists with established clientele. -Relaxing contemporary environment. -Busy shopping center in new tampa -Booth rental available $175/week -Newly furnished private suite w/ shampoo bowl for $225/ week -First week free !! Contact Ms.Johnson @ 8139942393 or johnson.christy08@yahoo.com

HELP WANTED - Multiple position need to be filled at KW mega agent office. Team Bohannon is expending we need additional experienced Buyer’s Agents, and listing Agents. Skilled, highly organized, and experienced Transaction Coordinator…Just list and sell and we do the rest for you. We will provide you with lots and lots of quality leads. Contact Annette Bohannon Team Bohannon Keller Williams Tampa Properties. today at (813) 431-2840. HELP WANTED - Plastic surgery practice in New Tampa is seeking a motivated, friendly medical assistant to work full time in both front office and back office capacities starting in January. Candidate must be professional, reliable, and familiar with computer software (Excel, Microsoft Word). Please send your resume and a cover letter with your qualifications for the position to TampaPS@gmail.com HELP WANTED - Award winning Real Estate Team with an overflow of serious prospects. Seeking professional full t­ ime real estate agents who want to expand their horizons, make more money, and have a fulfilling life. Great training available, Keller Williams Tampa Properties, Annette Bohannon 813-431-2840

HOME IMPROVEMENT ­ RY WALL SPECIALI­ST - Not a handyman. AfD fordable Quality Work repairing water damage, ceilings and walls, retexturing, popcorn removal, room additions, cracks, holes, plaster and stucco repair. 26 Years Experience. Wesley Chapel resident. State Certified. Call Ron for a free estimate (813) 784-5999

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Classifieds NEED HOME MAINTENANCE – Almost any job, large or small, ext/int, fencing , screening, sm. concrete, sprinklers, painting, repairs, int. doors, locks, sheet rock, windows, paint, caulk, grout, trim, shelving, garages organized. Installations, removals, pressure washing, wood restoration & more. Call Dale’s Home Maintenance @ 973-0194 or 727-2582. GREG’S PAPERHANGING – For all of your wallpapering needs. Licensed & insured, clean, quick & reasonable. Call 973-2767 for free estimate. DAVID BRIDGES PRESSURE CLEANING - Complete exterior cleaning of your home or business with a professional and personal touch. - Pool decks and screen enclosures - All fencing/ driveways and walkways/roofs - Gutter and downspouts. Find your happiness in a fresh, bright clean home. Your neighbors will love you for it! All work guaranteed. Licensed and insured. (813) 215-1177 D & D PRESSURE WASHING - licensed and insured. We clean driveways, sidewalks, homes, pool decks, screen enclosures, fences and other items. Free estimates. Call Dina or Doug 813-949-5131 www.ddpressurewash.com

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COMPUTER SERVICES PROFESSIONAL TECH SUPPORT – in your home or small business. A+ certified computer tech with 20 years of exp. Maintenance & repairs, upgrades & tutoring. More affordable than the large chains! Friendly, personalized svc. Technical jargon explained in plain English. Remote assistance available. References available upon request. Call 957-8342 for free estimate. DO YOU HATE YOUR COMPUTER?!? - WE CAN HELP YOU! Troubleshooting, installation, networking & virus removal. WE COME TO YOU! Servicing residential & businesses, w/ over 25 years experience. Contact Jeffrey Blank (813) 973-4507 today! www.WSICA.COM; Wsica@wsica.com

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CAR SERVICES – Don’t Have a Ride? Don’t Want to Leave Your Car? Shouldn’t Drive? We Drive You and Your Car Home! Night Clubs, Corporate Events, Sporting Events, Concerts, Appointments, Airport or Stranded. Call Jay at (813) 966-1530

E D U C A T I O N / B A B YS I T T I N G L.I.F.E Academy for Learning, LLC- A licensed inhome daycare located in New River Township. The daycare is managed by Nora Dudley, who is an experienced elementary Florida certified teacher and is also First Aid/CPR licensed. She is a loving mother of two and is passionate about helping children. Call today to enroll your child and mention this ad to waive your registration fee! Tutoring sessions for grades K-3 are also available upon appointment. Contact Nora Dudley at (813) 395-8487 or for more information visit www.lifeacademyforlearning.com

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TRANQUILITY POOL SERVICE - New Tampa owned & operated. Gareat Pricing with outstanding customer service! LICENSED, BONDED & INSURED. See why we are New Tampa and Wesley Chapel’s #1 Choice!! New customer’s ONE MONTH FREE! Call Chris Today @ (813) 8575400 or visit www.­TranquilityPoolService.com AQUATEC POOL SERVICE - keeping pool­­ s clear & swim safe since 1994. WE DO POOLS RIGHT! Commercial & Residential. CPO #33-303052 Licensed & Insured. Service guarantee. Call (813) 312-5694 TODAY and get 1 MONTH OF QUALITY SERVICE FOR FREE. www.aquatecpool.com

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BASEBALL TRAINING - Ages 6-18, for private, group, team or league instructional development. Get started...FREE PLAYER EVALUATION! New travelball academy starting soon, register online with your interest and train at our new 5 acre baseball ranch.www.rockstar-baseball.com or email ryan@ rockstar-baseball.com. Current Varsity Pitching and Hitting Coach at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic HS & Former Wiregrass Ranch HS Varsity Coach ( 2013 state semi-finalist).Former British National Coach, College player, youth coach and 8u travel ball manager. You practice... WE TRAIN! 813 992 1030

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For Advertising Information Call 813-910-2575 • Volume 22, Issue 5 • March 1, 2014 • www.NTNeighborhoodNews.com

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SQUEAKY CLEAN HOME SERVICES - is a residential cleaning company offering weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly services. We also specialize in move-in/move-out cleanup. All supplies and equipment provided. We are an Owner Operator company with over 20 years experience. “If it Needs to be Clean, We’re your Team! Call us for your free in home estimate today! 813-625-6045 D-ULTRA CLEANING SERVICE - We have our own supplies & more than 300 clients in New Tampa! For more information, Call 758-9710.

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For Advertising Information Call 813-910-2575 • Volume 22, Issue 5 • March 1, 2014 • www.NTNeighborhoodNews.com

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PORTFOLIO OF FINE HOMES Whitehall

JUST LISTED

Devonwood

JUST LISTED

Grand Hampton

JUST LISTED

5 Bed + Exercise Rm + In-Home Theater | 6.5 Bath | 6,269 SF | 3 Car Garage | Built 2002 | Pool/Spa Conversation | Offered for $1,175,000

3 Bed | 2 Bath | 1,719 SF 2 Car Garage | Built 2013 | Conservation Granite, Upgrades Throughout | Offered for $250,000

4 Bed + Office + Game Rm | 3.5 Bath | 3,447 SF 3 Car Garage | Heated Pool / Spa | Conservation Granite, Upgraded Throughout | Offered for $415,000

Lancaster

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5 Bed + Office + Game Rm | 3 Bath | 3,641 SF | Built 2003 3 Car Garage | Granite Throughout | Outdoor Kitchen Pool / Spa Package | Offered for $619,900

5 Bed | 3 Bath | 3,080 SF | 3 Car Garage Built 1995 | Large Lot | Gated Village Offered for $329,000

5 Bed + Bonus Rm | 4.5 Bath | 5,222 SF 3 Car Garage | Built 1997 | Pool/Spa | Outdoor Kitchen Over 1 Acre | Offered for $889,000

Arbor Greene

4 Bed + Den + Bonus Rm | 3 Bath | 3,375 SF 3 Car Garage | Built 1998 | Pool/Spa | Outdoor Kitchen Conservation | Offered for $449,000

Hunters Green

Richmond Place

3 Bed + Loft | 2.5 Bath | 2,321 SF | 2 Car Garage Built 1997 | Pool | Conservation | Pond Offered for $265,000

Arbor Greene

4 Bed + Den + Bonus Rm | 3 Bath | 3,266 SF 3 Car Garage | Built 2001 | Pool / Spa Outdoor Kitchen | Offered for $399,000

The Reserve

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4 Bed + Office + Bonus Rm | 5 Bath | 5,648 SF 3 Car Garage | Outdoor Kitchen | Golf Course View Pool / Spa Package | Offered for $989,000

6 Bed + Bonus | 5 Bath | 5,436 SF | 3 Car Garage Custom Hannah Bartoletta | Large Lot | Gated Village Pool / Spa Package | Offered for 1,000,000

Grand Hampton

Heritage Isle

Sanctuary

5 Bed + Office | 4.5 Bath | 3,021 SF 3 Car Garage | Maple Cabinetry | Built 2012 Offered for $319,000

5 Bed + Bonus Rm | 3 Bath | 3,347 SF 3 Car Garage | Built 2006 | Conservation Offered for $355,000

4 Bed | 3 Bath | 2,435 SF | 2 Car Garage Pool / Heated Spa| Pond / Golf Course View Upgraded Throughout | Offered for $399,000

4 Bed + Den | 3 Bath | 2,562 SF | 3 Car Garage Tile Roof | Granite, Maple Cabinetry, Hardwood Floors Pool | Offered for $339,900

Mobile listings give you the edge!

Phone: (813) 931-6700 • Fax: (813) 283-1589 • KristyD@Realtor.com

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New Tampa Neighborhood News, Issue 5, March 1, 2014  
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