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VOLUME 4, NO. 27


Crest defeats Lennard



Alexander Street to be resurfaced in 2018 The decision to start work on the project was made by the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization on Wednesday, Jan. 4. EMILY TOPPER MANAGING EDITOR

Mayor Rick Lott announced at a City Commission meeting Monday, Jan. 9, that Alexander Street will be fully resurfaced in 2018. The decision and funds to resurface the street comes from the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning

Organization meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 4. The intersections of both Jim Johnson Road and Alexander Street and Alexander Street and James L. Redman Parkway will also receive improvements after the resurfacing project is completed, with design funding allocated for the 2021 fiscal year. Design funding for both intersection improvements are allocated at $100,000 each, with an estimated $2 million each for construction. Bids are currently out for the Alexander Street resurfacing project. “That’s been a request we’ve had for a long time now,” Lott said. “It’s currently a city street, but we are

Justin Kline

Bids are currently out for the resurfacing project, which is scheduled for next year.





Meet the contestants for the 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court, and say farewell to 2016 Queen Haley Riley. SEE PAGES 2-3

CityPointe Church to celebrate one year anniversary The church will be celebrating its first year operating out of the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World Sunday, Jan. 29.


When Scott McIntosh made the decision to start CityPointe Church in his hometown, he knew he wanted it to be a different kind of experience for his congregation. “We’re brand new,” McIntosh said. “We wanted an authentic, delightful place to worship Jesus together. We wanted to focus more on similarities than differences. Our vision was for a

different kind of church. Our goal is to bring folks together.” Currently based out of the John R. Trinkle Center on the Plant City campus of Hillsborough Community College, CityPointe Church will celebrate its first anniversary Tuesday, Jan. 31. The church, which is currently debtfree, will commemorate the anniversary with a celebration Sunday, Jan. 29 — including 100 dedications to God. SEE CHURCH PAGE 5

Courtesy photo

Family throws 80th surprise birthday party for local resident Not one for big parties, local resident Dr. James Beier expected his 80th birthday to pass quietly. But on Saturday, Jan. 7, Beier and his wife, Deanne, arrived at the Sarasota home of his eldest daughter, Elaine Dabney. Expecting to join his daughter and her husband, Tom, for a postholiday lunch, Beier was surprised to find six Beier children, their families, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter together for a surprise party. Many had flown in for the weekend to greet their patriarch with a birthday flash mob. Other surprises that highlighted the weekend celebration included a presentation of more than 100 birthday cards from family and friends, many of which dated back to Beier’s childhood days growing up in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. The weekend concluded with a military serenade performed by The First Baptist Church of Sarasota playing the former Eagle Scout and United States Marine’s all-time favorite, “Marine Corp Hymn.”

Rise Plant City now accepting members After forming a board in 2016, Plant City’s newest young professionals organization is now accepting general members. The organization, geared for young professionals between the ages of 21 to 42, seeks to create a better community for all through economic development, philanthropy, networking opportunities and more. The membership fee for Rise Plant City is $50 annually. Once a payment is made, members will be added to a mailing list to be notified of upcoming events and meetings. Interested members can sign up at Those seeking more information can contact the Rise team at info@






As 2016 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Haley Riley prepares to crown a new reigning royal, the Durant High School senior is already looking for ways she can continue to lead and inspire. EMILY TOPPER MANAGING EDITOR


t first, Haley Riley thought someone else had won. But as she stood under the lights of the Charlie Grimes Agricultural Center at the Florida Strawberry Festival fairgrounds, all eyes turned to her. There was cheering. There was applause. And then, there was Samantha Sun, gingerly placing a crown on Riley’s head. The Florida Strawberry Festival had a new queen. A YEAR ON THE THRONE

File Photo

2016 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Haley Riley rode in the Grand Parade in March. On Saturday, Jan. 21, she’ll crown the 2017 queen.

It’s been almost one year since Riley, a Dover resident from an agricultural family, was crowned. On Saturday, Jan. 21, the Durant High School senior and FFA officer will pass on her title to a new queen. “It’s sad,” Riley said. “But it’s a new chapter. There’s been so much growth. (For the new queen), I really recommend just enjoying every moment you’re in because you’re never going to have it again. I’m missing it already.” After she was crowned in January 2016, Riley’s life and schedule became centered around the Florida Strawberry Festival and related events. She got to know her court members— First Maid Morgan Gaudens and court members Alex Aponte, Ashtyn Steele and Ashlyn Yarbrough — and her festival family, from General Manager Paul Davis to security director Tim Lovett. “I think my best buddy is Mr. Tim,” Riley, the daughter of retired United States Army First Sgt. William and Heather Riley, said. “It’s like a family member gained. It was his first year and my first year, so we learned the ropes together.” As she learned the ropes, the Plant City community learned about their new queen. Riley quickly became the face of the festival, introducing Josh Turner at an opening night concert and riding on a float in the festival’s Grand Parade. She met Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and Gov. Rick Scott, attended luncheons

and assisted a local photographer in a photo shoot for police families. But some moments held a special place in her heart. A favorite, she said, was showing her steer while wearing her FFA jacket with the Queen’s sash and crown. Like the town she’s from, the outgoing queen is service-minded. “People need to realize how much different leaders in our community give back,” Riley said. “They try to do good. I think everyone deserves their little moment to be thanked for everything they do.” Even after a new court is sashed, Riley plans to carry on that tradition. The high school senior has been accepted to the University of Tampa, where she will pursue political science and Spanish. “I don’t know what I want to do,” Riley said. “I’m hoping to be somehow involved in government. At some point, I want to be a senator in Florida. I’ve met so many new people and I’ve learned to be accepting of new viewpoints and opinions. Once you do that, you learn new things. I just look at things very differently now.” As she helps prepare this year’s 22 contestants for the 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s pageant, Riley is overwhelmed with gratitude for the Plant City community. “Thank you for everything,” Riley said. “It’s been an amazing journey. I’m so thankful for Mrs. Di (Lott) and Mrs. Donna (Keel). I’m thankful for my church family at First Baptist Church of Dover and my family.” Riley’s schedule will remain packed well past her high school graduation in June. She’s pursuing a title as an FFA state officer and hopes to participate in future pageants, including Durant’s Miss Cougar bodybuilding competition in the spring. During her first year of college, Riley will become a reserve deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. “I’m just really hoping to create an impact one day,” Riley said. In the heart of the town she calls home, it’s evident she already has. Contact Emily Topper at etopper@

82nd Annual

Florida Strawberry Festival


Queen’s Scholarship Pageant

PLANT CITY, FL JANUARY 21ST, 2017, 6:00PM The event will be held at the Grimes Family Agricultural Center on the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds

Tickets are available for purchase at the following locations: Walden Lake Car Wash, 1414 S. Alexander St. | Regions Bank, 2303 Thonotosassa Road Florida Strawberry Festival, 303 N. Lemon St.

You can also purchase tickets at the door







Photos courtesy of Stephanie Humphrey

She’s Got Style,

She’s Got Grace MARLEE ARN

SENIOR, PLANT CITY HIGH SCHOOL; HILLSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE PARENTS Ed and Michelle Arn FUTURE PLANS To attend Samford University to pursue interior architecture



wenty-two girls will compete Saturday, Jan. 21, to be the next reigning royals as the 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court. Five girls will be chosen to serve as the 2017 Queen, First Maid and court members. The scholarship pageant is sponsored annually by the Plant City Lions Club. The 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival will run from Thursday, March 2, through Sunday, March 12.




JUNIOR, STRAWBERRY CREST HIGH SCHOOL PARENTS David Barrett and Tanya Limas FUTURE PLANS To attend Clemson University to major in education with a minor in mathematics






PARENTS Jeff and Laura Brummer

PARENTS Keith Carlough and Brandi and Oscar Barnes

PARENTS Danny and Danna Coton

PARENTS Charles and Debra Griffin

FUTURE PLANS To attend Florida State University and major in public relations

FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Florida to pursue a degree in journalism

FUTURE PLANS To attend a major university to pursue journalism and later, fashion journalism

FUTURE PLANS To attend Florida A&M University and major in pre-med





PARENTS Sheri Hangen

PARENTS Shane and Tiffany Hamel

FUTURE PLANS To attend Duke University to double major in international business and law with minors in criminology and psychology

FUTURE PLANS To attend Nova Southeastern University on a merit scholarship, and pursue pharmacy after earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences


SENIOR, DURANT HIGH SCHOOL PARENTS Melissa and David Mitchell FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Tampa and major in pre-law

BENTLEY ROBERTS SENIOR, HOMESCHOOLED PARENTS Robbie and Cindy Roberts FUTURE PLANS To attend Southeastern University to pursue communications and public relations with the hopes of working for a nonprofit organization


JUNIOR, DURANT HIGH SCHOOL; HILLSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE PARENTS David and Traci Tew FUTURE PLANS To attend a Florida university and major in nursing with a minor in photography


FRESHMAN, HILLSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE PARENTS Jeannie Morrison FUTURE PLANS To transfer to the University of South Florida and eventually become a neonatal nurse or midwife



JUNIOR, PLANT CITY HIGH SCHOOL PARENTS Emmett and Stephenie Lane FUTURE PLANS To graduate from PCHS with a cosmetology license and purse a degree in psychology



SENIOR, PLANT CITY HIGH SCHOOL; HILLSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE PARENTS Andy and Jeanne Knotts FUTURE PLANS To attend Georgia Southern University to play soccer and major in journalism




PARENTS Juan and Lucy Navarrete

PARENTS Shawn and Renee Rasmussen

FUTURE PLANS To attend Southeastern University and pursue a degree in education

FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Florida to pursue a degree in the medical field





PARENTS Candace and Dave Sorg

PARENTS Preston and Julie Stewart

PARENTS Donnie and Tina Strickland

FUTURE PLANS To attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York and major in baking and pastry arts

FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Florida to major in dentistry with specialties in orthodontics and pediatrics

FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Florida and major in veterinary medicine and minor in animal science


SENIOR, PLANT CITY HIGH SCHOOL PARENTS Bobby and Diane Todd FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Florida and major in physical therapy


JUNIOR/SENIOR, STRAWBERRY CREST HIGH SCHOOL; THREE-YEAR GRADUATE PROGRAM PARENTS Everett and Tammy Wilson FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Tampa and pursue medical and pre-law degrees



JUNIOR, DURANT HIGH SCHOOL PARENTS Mark Wilson and Crystal Delones-Wilson FUTURE PLANS To attend the University of Florida to study animal science and to attend the University of Miami in the summer to study psychiatry

IF YOU GO: 2017 FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL QUEEN’S SCHOLARSHIP PAGEANT When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. | Where: Charlie Grimes Agricultural Center at the Florida Strawberry Festival fairgrounds, 2508 W. Oak Ave. | Cost: $15






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City Commissioners presented a proclamation to Pastor Robert Herrin Monday, Jan. 9. The pastor will retire from full time ministry Sunday, Jan. 15, after 60 years of service.

residents can gather at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the 1914 Plant City High School Community Center for the Florida Opry. The Florida Opry is presented by the East Hillsborough Historical Society Inc. Performers at the Jan. 14 event include the Bullard Brothers & Friends, based out of Winter Springs, and Ace Jackson and the Jump Kings. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students. Attendees are encouraged to call ahead to reserve seats. Reservations can be made by calling (813) 757-9226, or by emailing

Longtime Plant City pastor retires City Commissioners presented a proclamation to Pastor Robert Herrin on Monday, Jan. 9, in celebration of his 60 years in the ministry. Herrin, the pastor at Plant City Church of God, will officially retire from full-time ministry Sunday, Jan. 15. He has served as the pastor at Plant City Church of God since 1998, where he oversaw multiple church programs including food distribution, a weekly food ministry, children’s programs, musical dramas and more. In his retirement, Herrin plans to travel with his wife of 23 years, Lisa, and spend time with his three children and five grandchildren. Herrin’s family and many friends were present for the proclamation.

CareFest prepares for Day of Service In conjunction with the Plant City MLK Festival, CareFest Plant City and the Improvement League of Plant City will host a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16. A second day of service will be held Saturday, Jan. 21. Volunteers are encouraged to assist with or adopt a project. Interested

City Commissioners recognized Saturday, Jan. 21, as CareFest 2017 “Party Ready Day” in Plant City.

volunteers can contact Norm Blanton at Residents who are interested in volunteering on Jan. 16 can meet at 7 a.m. at the Bing Rooming House, 205 S. Allen St. Volunteer forms must be brought and signed. In a proclamation presented Monday, Jan. 9, the City of Plant City declared Jan. 21 as CareFest 2017 “Party Ready Day in Plant City.”

Florida Opry scheduled for Jan. 14 Following the Plant City MLK Parade,

City authorizes purchase of nine police vehicles At a Monday, Jan. 9 meeting, City Commissioners approved the purchase of nine police vehicles from Duval Ford, Hub City Ford and Daytona Harley Davidson. The Plant City Police Department’s budget for 2016-2017 included $317,900 for the purchase of new vehicles to replace part of the existing fleet. New purchases include two supervisor vehicles, three administrative vehicles and four motorcycles. The total cost for the nine vehicles









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A native of Plant City, McIntosh attended The Crossing Church in Brandon and First Baptist Church of Plant City while growing up. He wanted to bring a new, welcoming experience for all to the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. “The pastors have been so great and supportive,” he said. “We wanted to create a place that reflected the culture and was a little more contemporary with the goal of helping people hope again.” But he needed help. At the time, the finances set aside for the church came to only $3,000. “The Lord had really put it in our heart,” he said. “But the question was, ‘How?’” The church established a fundraising goal of $170,000. As word began to spread, donors came together. CityPointe was able to raise $80,000 within six months. As donations continued to come in, the church made a point of giving back to their new community. “We just started blessing people,” McIntosh, who recently celebrated 20 years in ministry, said. “We believe in investing in our community. We set aside 10% of everything that comes in ... to help other things in the area.” In February of 2016, just one month after the church opened, CityPointe donated $3,000 to Ministerio Voces Angelicales, which translates to Angelic Voices Ministry. Headed by Blanca Rodriguez, the ministry is dedicated to helping homeless in the Plant City community obtain food, clothing and shelter. CityPointe donated the funds after their first church service offering, which yielded $6,000. An additional $3,000 was donated to the City of Plant City for summer programs. As the church’s ability to give back grew, so did its congregation. The church has about 200 regular members, as well as a volunteer team of about 30 people. “We focus on being real, relevant and relational,” McIntosh said. “We want to be life-giving and fun. We try to have Sundays that impact Mondays.”

IF YOU GO CITYPOINTE CHURCH FIRST ANNIVERSARY PARTY When: 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 29 Where: John R. Trinkle Center at Hillsborough Community College, 1206 N. Park Road Visit:

Courtesy Photo

Scott McIntosh is the pastor at CityPointe Church in Plant City, which will celebrate its first anniversary later this month.



CHEMICAL PLANT Between 1975-1981


Up next, the church hopes to have a permanent place to call home. While the congregation looks for the perfect location, the church will continue to operate out of the Trinkle Center on Sunday mornings. “We’re portable,” McIntosh said. “We can do what we’re doing forever. Ideally, we would like a building that sits about 600, has good parking and access to I-4.” The goal, he said, is to continue to reach out to people who don’t have a church they call home. “About two to four out of every 10 people go to church,” McIntosh said. “We’re not going after the two to four. We’re going after the six to eight people who haven’t gone to church in years.” At the church’s one-year anniversary party, members and guests will be able to attend a church service with testimonials, followed by a celebration complete with bounce houses, a band and more. “We’re celebrating 100 people that are now coming home and discovered the love of the Father,” McIntosh said. “It’s been a wild ride. Everyone is welcome. We want everyone to come and bring friends. It takes everybody. We’ve had some amazing stuff happen.” The church’s celebration party will kick off with a time of prayer at 9:30 a.m., followed by a worship service at 10:30. Activities will take place after the service on the grounds of the Trinkle Center, 1206 N. Park Road in Plant City. Contact Emily Topper at etopper@


TALK TO YOU. Please Contact

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(214) 675-9069






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“PLANNING FOR LIFE” swapping ownership of it with the state for Paul Buchman Highway, which is currently being resurfaced. Alexander Street is one of the highest-ranked streets in the county in need of resurfacing.” Lott said that the Alexander Street resurfacing project has been on the MPO’s list of projects for over a decade. “Our district secretary is getting current projects funded instead of creating new projects,” Lott said, noting that the district had a 25% increase in funding this year. “I think we’re all together and sharing the excitement about what’s before us.” Prior to the approval of the project by the MPO, the City’s primary hope for resurfacing Alexander Street came out of a proposed referendum for a half-cent sales tax by the Hillsborough County Commission. If approved by voters, the half-cent sales tax would have provided the City of Plant City with over $20 million over 10 years for road resurfacing

projects, with $2,370,000 allocated for Alexander Street. However, the referendum was shot down by Hillsborough County Commissioners at a June 2016 meeting. Now, the long-awaited project will see fruition in 2018. The announcement comes at the right time for those trying to promote growth within the city. In late 2016, the City of Plant City announced that the Community Redevelopment Agency had issued a Request for Qualifications for the development of Midtown, inviting 60 potential developers to attend a meeting about the project. The City has invested $4.5 million into preparations for redevelopment. Street improvements have been made in the direct Midtown district, as well. The City received a $700,000 grant to enhance roads from Laura Street to Alabama Street. “This is a good way to start out 2017,” Lott said. Contact Emily Topper at etopper@

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January 24, 2017 at 10:30 AM & 6:30PM

The following information was gathered from incident and arrest reports obtained from the Plant City Police Department.

DEC. 31

GRAND THEFT VIZIO 2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Grand theft: Officer met with complainant, who stated unknown suspect(s) stole a 70-inch Vizio flat screen television. LIVING THE FAST LIFE James L. Redman Parkway/East Alexander Street. DUI: Officer conducted a traffic stop on a Chevrolet Camaro that had been speeding. The driver was found to be under the influence, as well as in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The subject was arrested.

JAN. 1

Hope Lutheran Church

NEW YEAR, OLD TAG North Alexander Street/West Baker Street. Warrant arrest/drug investigation: Officers conducted a traffic stop on a Honda sedan, for which the registration had expired in August 2016. The driver was found to have two outstanding warrants in Hillsborough County, and the two passengers were arrested for possession of paraphernalia and methamphetamine. All three were taken to jail without incident.

2001 N. Park Road, Plant City 813-752-4622 |

JAN. 2

SWING SET SNEAK 1 block of Risk Street. Theft: Officer met with complainant, who stated unknown suspect(s) stole a swing set from her front patio between 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, and 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2. The swing set was valued at $100.

JAN. 3

MOVING OUT 3420 block of Trapnell Ridge Drive. Possible identity theft: Officer met with complainant, who stated the Water Department of Plant City notified him that his address was being changed, and that he had not actually attempted to change it. Complainant also found activity on his bank account that was not his, though he had not lost any money. An information report was taken for documentation.

JAN. 4

FRIENDLY REMINDER 3400 block of Berry Blossom Lane. Vehicle burglary: Officer met with complainant, who stated unknown suspect(s) entered his unlocked vehicle and stole his wallet, which he then found near the vehicle. Complainant signed a waiver of prosecution. UNEXPECTED DONATION 1400 block of West Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. Theft: Officers met with complainant, who stated unknown suspect(s) had stolen a donation jar from a restaurant’s counter.

JAN. 5

CRIME GETS COOKING 1100 block of North Alexander Street. Burglary: Officer met with complainant, who stated unknown suspect(s) had damaged doors to some portables at a church, entered one and stole a portable stove and propane cylinder. The items were valued together at $190. BAD BOYFRIEND 1200 block of Townsgate Court. Information report: Officers met with complainant, who stated her exboyfriend had poured motor oil onto vehicles in the parking lot. There was no excessive damage to the cars, but the complainant wanted the incident documented in case the suspect dumped oil on more cars.

JAN. 2


Please join us—bring your family, friends or neighbors with you, too! May the Lord grant you His peace…

PRO-PAIN 1600 block of East Alabama Street. Criminal mischief: Officer met with complainant, who stated unknown suspect(s) threw a propane tank through the front windshield of their 2006 Honda van. The damage, which had occurred overnight, was estimated at $1,000. 227133

To the many heroes who are first in and last out: Mosaic and its employees, who live and work right here in the community, appreciate and salute First Responders for the sacrifices you make. Thank you for your selfless dedication to keep everyone safe.

® 226977






PCHS student accepted to finals of Tampa Teen Idol Local performer Benji Padgett is taking his music to an even bigger stage. EMILY TOPPER MANAGING EDITOR

One Plant City High School senior is ready to shine in the spotlight. Benji Padgett, a regular performer at the Corner Store in Historic Downtown, has made it to the finals of the 2017 Tampa Teen Idol competition. Padgett will compete for the winning slot Saturday, Jan. 28, at Jefferson High School in Tampa. Padgett heard about the competition from Kenzie Wheeler, a fellow singer and Plant City resident who won the Tampa Teen Idol competition in its inaugural year. The contest is sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Tampa Alumnae chapter. “I thought it would be a cool experience,” Padgett said. “It’s a good opportunity to get my name out there.” Padgett was accepted to the preliminary competition after submitting a video audition of Alicia Keys’ ‘If I Got You.’ “I just like it,” he said. “I did Alicia Keys for the semifinals as well. It shows my vocal range.” Padgett’s love of music began as a toddler. He just released two singles in December, and is a regular performer

at Krazy Kup and The Corner Store in Plant City. The vocalist is making a name for himself in the Tampa Bay area as well, often performing at the Red Light Café in Ybor City. His mother, Heather, acts as road manager. “When they first started Krazy Kup, I wanted to see what it was all about,” Padgett said. “I started performing, and people seemed to like what they heard. Now I’m trying to expand into Tampa, Winter Haven and Ybor City.” Though he writes his own music, Padgett’s musical inspiration comes from a variety of artists. He began playing piano at age 5, learning to play by ear over the last three to four years. Before becoming a solo performer, he was an original member of Next Radical Generation (NRG). Today, he is still an active assistant with the youth band at First Baptist Church of Plant City. “I like a lot of stuff,” Padgett said. “Alternative pop, some Christian and country. I like Tori Kelly and Twenty One Pilots in terms of how they write their songs and the message in their songs. I want my music to connect to somebody ... I want to give people hope. A lot of what gave me confidence was the NRG exposure.” Padgett is hoping that the Plant City community will come to the finals of Tampa Teen Idol to support one of their own. The winner of the contest is determined by audience votes, not by judges. The final competition will be held

“I want my music to connect to somebody ... I want to give people hope.” —Benji Padgett, Plant City High School senior and finalist for Tampa Teen Idol

Courtesy Photo

at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Jefferson High School, 4401 W. Cypress St., Tampa.

Benji Padgett will perform at the finals of Tampa Teen Idol Saturday, Jan. 28, at Jefferson High School in Tampa.

Contact Emily Topper at etopper@


IF YOU GO 2ND ANNUAL TAMPA TEEN IDOL FINALS When: 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28 Where: Jefferson High School, 4401 W. Cypress St., Tampa Cost: $15 admission in advance; $20 at the door Visit:




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PLANT CITY TIMES & OBSERVER Locally owned by Ed Verner, Karen Berry, Nate Kilton and Felix Haynes The Plant City Times & Observer is published by Plant City Media LLC, a jointventure of the Tampa Bay Times and Plant City Observer LLC.

1507 S. Alexander St., Suite 103 Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 704-6850 ©Copyright Plant City Media LLC 2014 All Rights Reserved

CONTACT US The Plant City Times & Observer is published once weekly, on Fridays. It provides free home delivery to several neighborhoods in Plant City. The Plant City Times & Observer also can be found in many commercial locations throughout Plant City and at our office, 1507 S. Alexander St., Suite 103. If you wish to discontinue home delivery or if you wish to suspend home delivery temporarily, call Linda Lancaster at 704-6850.


Call Al Berry, Sarah Holt, Danny Crampton or Lisa Donini, at (813) 704-6850.

SEND US YOUR NEWS We want to hear from you. Let us know about your events, celebrations and achievements. To contact us, send your information via: Email: Emily Topper, etopper@ Mail: The Plant City Times & Observer, 1507 S. Alexander St., Suite 103, Plant City, FL 33563



Publisher / Karen Berry, Interim Managing Editor / Emily Topper, etopper@ Associate Editor / Sports Editor / Justin Kline, jkline@ Editorial Designer / C.J. Major, Circulation/ Office Manager / Linda Lancaster, Managing Editor of In the Field / Sarah Holt, sarah@

“If we are to build a better world, we must remember that the guiding principle is this — a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy.” — Friedrich Hayek, “Road to Serfdom,” 1944

JANUARY 13, 2017



he Florida Strawberry Festival’s 2017 Junior Royalty Pageant was held Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Charlie Grimes Family Agricultural Center. A total of 110 girls competed for the 2017 Baroness, Duchess, Princess and Queen titles.


COURT Baroness: Kennedy Duncan First Runner-Up: Brylynn Paige Newsome Court: Lilyana Rosalee Perean, Astin Hallman and Bailey Nicole Vining TOP 10 Kennedy Duncan Brylynn Paige Newsome Lilyana Rosalee Perean Astin Hallman Bailey Nicole Vining Kamdyn Mosley Jeweliann Clark Kensley Spicer Jaylyn Barber Autumn Mackenzie Adair

Photos by Observer Staff

The 2017 Junior Royalty Court. Queen Amanda Astrike, Princess Kiah Swilley, Duchess Kendall Spencer and Baroness Kennedy Duncan.

DUCHESS COURT Duchess: Kendall Spencer First Runner-Up: Madelynn Marie Hardwick Court: Lylah Anne Linares, Bailey Renae Keys, Hayven LeeAnn Harrell TOP 10 Kendall Spencer Madelynn Marie Hardwick Bailey Renae Keys Lylah Anne Linares Hayven LeeAnn Harrell Kamri DePianta McKenna Brielle Davis Brooke Sidnei Browning Kyndell Morgan Drawdy Ivy Belle Garner

PRINCESS COURT Princess: Kiah Jade Swilley First Runner-Up: Kendyl Eversole Court: Milee Gale Hasting, Lydia Marie Linares, Grace Pagliaro TOP 10 Kiah Jade Swilley Kendyl Eversole Milee Gale Hasting Lydia Marie Linares Grace Pagliaro Madison Grace Kimbrough Chloe Shinneman Fe Jacquelyn Ramirez Kirian Johnson Hanna Marie Watson

Above: Avery Lane Surrency, Queen First Runner-Up Right: Grace Pagliaro, Princess Top Five Far Right: Brooke Sidnei Browning

QUEEN COURT Queen: Amanda Astrike First Runner-Up: Avery Lane Surrency Court: Autumn Hope Miller, Lacie Lynn Collins, Victoria Leto TOP 10 Amanda Astrike Avery Lane Surrency Autumn Hope Miller Lacie Lynn Collins Victoria Leto Kamille Long Megan Elizabeth Gafford Dallas Nicole Baker Elizabeth Eakins Hannah Holm — EMILY TOPPER AND JOSE LOZOYA

Above: Brylynn Newsome, Baroness First Runner-Up Right: Madelynn Marie Hardwick, Duchess First Runner-Up


See more photos from the event at



Holloway Road home tops December 2016 real estate transactions per square foot is $68.18.




he home at 1816 Holloway Road sold Dec. 20, for $472,000. Built in 2013, it has three bedrooms, four and one half baths and 3,786 square feet of living area on 1.33 acres. The price per square foot is $124.67.


The home at 153 Alexander Woods Drive sold Dec. 30, for $124,000. Built in 2016, it has two bedrooms, two and one half baths and 1,465 square feet of living area on 0.01 acres. The price per square foot is $84.64. The home at 273 Alexander Woods Drive sold Dec. 20, for $138,000. Built in 2007, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,560 square feet of living area on 0.13 acres. The price per square foot is $88.46. CEDAR RUN

The home at 2009 Cedar Run Drive sold Dec. 14, for $68,224 (auction/REO). Built in 1982, it has two bedrooms, two baths and 1,180 square feet of living area on 0.08 acres. The price per square foot is $57.82. CHERRY PARK

The home at 1204 Bracewell Drive sold Dec. 15, for $75,000 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1972, it has three bedrooms, one and one half baths and 1,100 square feet of living area on 0.19 acres. The price

The home at 906 N. Wheeler St. sold Dec. 15, for $200,000. Built in 1937, it has four bedrooms, three baths and 2,271 square feet of living area on 0.36 acres. The price per square foot is $88.07. CLARKS

The home at 807 Tyner St. sold Dec. 27, for $120,000. Built in 1985, it has three bedrooms, one bath and 1,008 square feet of living area on 0.14 acres. The price per square foot is $119.05. COUNTRY HILLS

The home at 314 Abigail Road sold Dec. 7, for $169,000. Built in 2001, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 1,511 square feet of living area on 0.17 acres. The price pre square foot is $111.85. The home at 4736 N. Dawnmeadow Court sold Dec. 20, for $131,290 (REO/bank owned). Built in 1986, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,292 square feet of living area on 0.16 acres. The price per square foot is $101.62. The home at 4718 S. Dawnmeadow Court sold Dec. 23, for $136,000. Built in 1990, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,244 square feet of living area on 0.14 acres. The price per square foot is $109.32. The home at 4616 Eastwind Drive sold Dec. 26, for $121,000. Built in 1985, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,187 square feet of living area on 0.09 acres. The price per square foot is $101.94. CRUMLEY

The home at 6091 W. Dormany Road sold Dec. 23, for $245,000.

Built in 1978, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,872 square feet of living area on 3.64 acres. The price per square foot is $130.88. EASTRIDGE PRESERVE

The home at 3335 Little Acre Lane sold Dec. 15, for $302,133. Built in 2016, it has four bedrooms, three baths and 2,487 square feet of living area on 1.06 acres. The price per square foot is $121.48. FOUR SEASONS

The home at 2102 N. Merrin St. sold Dec. 2, for $95,000 (short sale). Built in 1986, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,244 square feet of living area on 0.20 acres. The price per square foot is $76.37. GEMSTONE ACRES

The home at 2208 Topaz Lane sold Dec. 29, for $125,000 (REO/bank owned). Built in 2002, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 2,100 square feet of living area on 1.04 acres. The price per square foot is $59.52. HILLSBORO PARK

AVERAGE: $180,431 MEDIAN: $163,995

per square foot is $157.53.

The home at 1709 Williams Road sold Dec. 19, for $276,000. Built in 1980, it has three bedrooms, three baths and 2,023 square feet of living area on 1 acre. The price per square foot is $136.43.

The home at 4718 Charleston Ave. sold Dec. 15, for $145,000. Built in 1977, it has three bedrooms, one bath and 1,376 square feet of living area on 1.02 acres. The price per square foot is $105.38.


The home at 4904 Wallace Road sold Dec. 12, for $254,000. Built in 1985, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,868 square feet of living area on 0.90 acres. The price per square foot is $135.97.

The home at 3717 Futch Loop sold Dec. 16, for $279,000. Built in 1990, it has four bedrooms, two and one half baths and 3,360 square feet of living area on 1.99 acres. The price per square foot is $83.04.


The home at 2302 Maki Road sold Dec. 22, for $64,000. Built in 1987, it has two bedrooms, two and one half baths and 896 square feet of living area on 0.01 acres. The price per square foot is $71.43.

The home at 1307 McLin Drive sold Dec. 27, for $113,000. Built in 1959, it has three bedrooms, one bath and 1,010 square feet of living area on 0.19 acres. The price per square foot is $111.88. The home at 5604 Paul Buchman Highway sold Dec. 13, for $147,500. Built in 1978, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,166 square feet of living area on 3.20 acres. The price per square foot is $126.50. The home at 5826 Ramsgate Place sold Dec. 5, for $212,000. Built in 2002, it has five bedrooms, two baths and 2,023 square feet of living area on 1.06 acres. The price per square foot is $104.79.


The home at 1410 E. Tomlin St. sold Dec. 9, for $130,000. Built in 1941, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,452 square feet of living area on 0.13 acres. The price per square foot is $89.53.

The home at 4501 Cameron Road sold Dec. 30, for $365,000. Built in 1997, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 2,317 square feet of living area on 6.98 acres. The price




MINIMUM: $14,150 MAXIMUM: $472,000

The home at 1704 N. Barnes St. sold Dec. 3, for $184,900. Built in 2016, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,553 square feet of living area on 0.28 acres. The price per square foot is $119.06. The home at 1601 E. Calhoun St. sold Dec. 12, for $182,000. Built in 1990, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,560 square feet of living area on 0.23 acres. The price per square foot is $116.67.



The home at 3714 Crystal Dew St. sold Dec. 29, for $203,000. Built in 2007, it has four bedrooms, two and one half baths and 2,854 square feet of living area on 0.19 acres. The price per square foot is $71.13. The home at 2516 San Moise Place sold Dec. 30, for $198,000. Built in 2016, i has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,672 square feet of living area on 0.15 acres. The price per square foot is $118.42.


The home at 8107 Turkey Creek Road sold Dec. 31, for $153,000. Built in 1954, it has two bedrooms, two baths and 1,148 square feet on 0.50 acres. The price per square foot is $133.28.

See more transactions at

Outstanding Agents. Outstanding Results. (813) 967-0168 or or (813)305-1616 (813) 549-9412 (813)967-0168

2803-4 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City Florida 33566 Office: (813) 305-1616 | Fax: (813) 754-8099 Email:

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Felton’s Market




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At Felton’s we offer a complete line of fresh meat and produce. You’ll find only the best quality meats at bargain prices. Whether it be that special occasion dinner, or you are planning a large party, call or stop by today. No matter what your needs, Felton’s is sure to have the finest, most tender meat and tasty produce anywhere.



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PLANT CITY MLK FESTIVAL OPENING CEREMONY Begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at the MLK Sports Complex, 1601 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Call (813) 757-6760, or visit

SAVING OUR KIDS (S.O.K) PROGRAM AT TOMLIN MIDDLE SCHOOL Begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Tomlin Middle School, 501 N. Woodrow Wilson St. The program is a forum for students, parents and stakeholders to discuss barriers and bridges to graduation, and the options within career and technical education.

PLANT CITY MLK FESTIVAL SPOKEN WORD NIGHT Begins at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13, at the Bing Rooming House, 205 S. Allen St. Call (813) 757-6760, or visit

STRAWBERRY CLASSIC CAR SHOW Begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum, 102 N. Palmer St. See classic cars and trucks from the 1990s and older.


THE FLORIDA OPRY Begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the 1914 Plant City high School Community Center, 605 N. Collins St. The Florida Opry is presented by the East Hillsborough Historical Society Inc. Performers include the Bullard Brothers and Friends and Ace Jackson and The Jump Kings. Tickets are $12 for adults; $5 for students. Call (813) 757-9226. Visit COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER DAY AT THE COMMUNITY GARDEN Begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Plant City Commons Community Garden, 2001 E. Cherry St. Help trim, weed, plant and more.


PLANT CITY MLK FESTIVAL LEADERSHIP BREAKFAST Begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, at Hillsborough Community College, 1201 N. Park Road. $30 admission. Call (813) 757-6760, or visit T. Marie’s Valrico Sunday Market 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, at

3407 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Valrico. Interested artists and vendors can call (813) 530-0922.


BEST BET PLANT CITY MLK FREEDOM PARADE Begins at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at Wells Fargo Bank, 202 S. Wheeler St. The parade will end at the MLK Sports Complex. Call (813) 757-6760, or visit PlantCityMLKFestival. com.

CONVERSATION CORNER Begins at 7 p.m. Tuesdays in January at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. Learning English? The Conversation Corner at Bruton Memorial Library is a place to practice English skills with students of the English language. The class is held in conjunction with the Hillsborough Literacy Council.

years or older.



WALKING CLUB Begins at 7:30 a.m. Wednesdays in January at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. A walk-and-talk begins at the library and walks around the tree-shaded neighborhood for 45 minutes. Library water fountains and restrooms are available for the walking club to use. Members must be 18

2017 FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL QUEEN’S SCHOLARSHIP PAGEANT Begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Grimes Agricultural Center at the Florida Strawberry Festival fairgrounds, 2508 W. Oak Ave. Sponsored annually by the Lion’s Club, the pageant crowns a new Florida Strawberry Festival Queen, First Maid and three Court members every year.



KINDERGARTEN ROUND-UP AND CONFERENCE NIGHT 8:30 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, at Robinson Elementary School, 4801 Turkey Creek Road. For more information, call Robinson Elementary at (813) 757-9424.

FAMILY HOOP JAM Begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, at the Planteen Recreation Center, 301 Dort St. There is a $5 cover charge. Exercise and have fun while using hula hoops.

ONGOING PLANT CITY TOASTMASTERS CLUB #4051 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. Thursdays at the Greater Plant City Chamber of

Commerce, 106 S. Evers St., Plant City. New members welcome. DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB 1 p.m. Fridays at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 302 Carey St. For more information, call Walt Arnold at (813) 752-1602. ACOUSTIC HAPPY HOUR 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818. BINGO 6:30 p.m. Saturdays, at American Legion Post 26, 2207 W. Baker St. There is a full kitchen. CHRISTIAN MUSIC 6:33 to 8:33 p.m. Thursdays, at Krazy Kup, 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. (813) 752-1220. THE CLASSROOM GALLERY 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays at the 1914 Plant City High School Community Center, 605 N. Collins St. Art is on display by members of the East Hillsborough Art Guild. KEEL AND CURLEY LIVE MUSIC 6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, at Keel and Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road. (813) 752-9100. KRAZY KUP LIVE MUSIC 8:33 to 10:33 p.m. Saturdays, at Krazy Kup, 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. (813) 752-1220. O’BRIEN’S LIVE MUSIC 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

PLANT CITY FAMILY YMCA 1507 YMCA Place 813 757 6677








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CECIL R. MANSELL Cecil R. Mansell, 100, of Plant City, died Dec. 27, 2016. She was born and raised in Turkey Creek. Her parents were Ralph and Susan Eugenia (Dansby) Mansell. She was one of 14 children and had seven brothers and six sisters. She worked at Publix for many years as a food demonstrator, and taught Sunday School for over 50 years. She is survived by her son, Jackie Godwin (Shirley); daughter-inlaw, Betty Godwin; grandchildren, Kenneth Godwin (Shannon), Diane Terry (Jimmy) and Lisa Harris (Jay); great-grandchildren, Leah Schneider (Alan) and Emmanuel Houvardas; and great-grandchildren, Josh and Caleb Schneider. She was preceded in death by her 13 siblings; her husband of 49 years, John Godwin; son, James R. Godwin; and grandson, Larry Godwin. A funeral service was held Jan. 2, at Turkey Creek First Baptist Church. Burial followed at Turkey Creek Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at

JESSIE H. STANFORD NEWSOME Jessie H. Stanford Newsome, 94, of Plant City, died Dec. 22, 2016, at Melech Hospice House in Temple Terrace. She was born June 24, 1922, in Brandon to Gus and Bertha Stanford. She was a graduate of Brandon High School. She loved her family very much and worked at Sip and Smack, Scoggins and Dianna’s Super Outlet to provide for them as a single mom. She was a loving mother, sister, aunt and the best mother-in-law a person could have. She will be greatly missed by her family, who takes comfort that she is in the good Lord’s hands now. She is survived by her daughter, Norma Jean Newsome Reynolds (Ross), of Plant City; son, Barney Ross “Buddy” Newsome (Patty), of Dade City; nieces, Mary Hobson (Leon), of Lakeland and Betty Hollander, of California; nephews, Bob Packard (Barbara), of Cape Coral, Richard Packard (Cathy), of California and Bill Packard, of Tampa. She was preceded in death by her parents; and sisters, Rosalie Rowe,

Pearl Packard and Lena Calhoun. The family would like to give special thanks to her caregivers, Tina Whitesell, Nancy Morgan, Sandra Crosby, Sissy and the entire staff of Solaris Health Care in Plant City and Melech Hospice House in Temple Terrace. A celebration of life was held Dec. 28, 2016, at Hopewell Funeral Home in Plant City. Committal followed at Memorial Park Cemetery, Plant City. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to LifePath Hospice, c/o Charters Health, 12470 Telecom Drive, Suite 300 W., Temple Terrace, Florida 33637. Online condolences may be made at

CATARINO “CATO” ORTIZ Catarino “Cato” Ortiz, 78, of Plant City, died Dec. 27, 2016. He was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Domingo and Joaquina Ortiz. He was of the Catholic faith. He was a retired master sergeant with the United States Air Force, having served in Vietnam. He also was retired from the National Security Agency, where he was a GS15 analyst. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Roberta Ortiz; stepdaughter, Melissa O’Brien (Edward); brother, Phillip Ortiz; sister, Marcella Ortiz; and grandchildren, Casey and Shane O’Brien. A memorial service was held Jan. 3, at Wells Memorial Funeral Home and Event Center in Plant City. Online condolences may be made at

GLADYS T. REEVES Gladys T. Reeves, 72, of Plant City, died Dec. 25, 2016. She was born in Wauchula, Florida, on Dec. 24, 1944. She was a member of First Baptist Church of Plant City. She loved being around her family and enjoyed cooking, fishing, gardening, shopping and collecting roosters. She is survived by her children, Diane Dasher, of Homosassa, Debi Lane (Steve), of Pinecrest, Lori Proctor, of Plant City and David Reeves (Laura), of Homosassa; stepson, Bobby Griffin (Cindy), of Plant City; grandchildren, Derek, Daniel, Craig (Tiffany), Kacy (Bob-

by), Kori, Heather (Danny), Justin (Lane), Josh, Shayne, Brennon and Mavric; great-grandchildren, Kenzie, Shelby, Jaxson, Rylee, Rustyn, Hunter, Addisyn, Luke, McKenlee, Landon and Brayden; and siblings, Vera Mae Smith, Nancy Peeples, Robert Taylor and Easton Taylor. She was preceded in death by her husband, William Charles Reeves; significant other, Randall Hinson; and seven siblings. A funeral service was held Dec. 29, 2016, at Hopewell Funeral Home in Plant City. Committal followed at Springhead Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at

BEVERLY L. SHARP-DAHLKE Beverly L. (Mears) Sharp-Dahlke, 83, formerly of Sandusky, died Dec. 12, 2016, at the Community Care Center in Plant City. She was born Feb. 24, 1933, in Sandusky, Ohio, to the late Fred Mears and Verna Marie (Miller) Rinker. She was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church while in Sandusky and Hope Lutheran Church in Plant City. She enjoyed golfing, bowling, traveling, playing cards and spending time with her family and friends. She is survived by her husband, Frank E. Dahlke; daughters, Linda E. Stouffer (Peter), of Holly, Michigan and Jennifer S. Sharp, of Columbus; sons, David A. Sharp (Annie), of Sandusky, Daniel D. Sharp (Donna), of Sandusky and Gary S. Sharp (Kelly), of Bay Village; grandchildren, Vincent Lombardy, Laura Pascazio, Erica Sharp, Kyle Sharp, Cameron Sharp, Cassidy Aumend and Jessica, Andrew and Jack Stouffer; 10 great-grandchildren, sister, Marra K. Stookey (Jim), of Sandusky; brother, Wayne D. Mears (Sharon), of Palmer, Alaska; six stepchildren; 13 step-grandchildren; six stepgreat-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. She was preceded in death by her parents; first husband, Jack Leroy Sharp; and daughter, Karen Lynn Lombardy. A memorial service was held Dec. 19, 2016, at Hope Lutheran Church in Plant City. Burial followed at Oakland Cemetery, Sandusky. Donations may be made in

her honor to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at, or for cancer research to the Mayo Clinic at Online condolences may be made at

APRIL TIDEY April Tidey, 42, of Tampa, died Dec. 24, 2016. She was born July 20, 1974. She was a speech-language pathologist for Pizzo Elementary School in Tampa, where she changed many children’s lives with love and an incredible ability. She adored her family and friends, and she had a spirit that touched the hearts of all that met her. She had a lust for life, a wicked sense of humor and a gift for storytelling. She loved music, travel, reading, cocktails, cooking and meditation. She is survived by her loving family and many friends. A memorial service was held Jan. 2, at Hopewell Funeral Home in Plant City. Memorial contributions may be made in her honor to the Lupus Foundation of America at Support., or with an act of kindness for someone less fortunate. Online condolences may be made at

BEVERLY ULRATH Beverly Ulrath, 86, of Plant City, died Dec. 26, 2016. She was the daughter of the late Walter and Ruth Smith. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Thomas Ulrath. She is survived by her children, David Ulrath, Ruthann Kosinsky, Deborah Ulrath, Linda Fullriede, Patricia Richardson, Gary Ulrath and JoAnn Grantham; 15 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Services will be private.




Online condolences may be made at HaughtFuneralHome. com.

TIMOTHY WHITFIELD Timothy Whitfield, 60, of Plant City, died Dec. 26, 2016. He was the son of L.S. Whitfield and Lottie Williams Whitfield. He was a truck driver and attended Six Mile Creek Baptist Church. He is survived by his mother; wife, Cynthia Dawn Whitfield; daughter, Jayla Porter; siblings, Debbie Bryan, Lonnie Samuel Whitfield, Michelle Sapp and Duke Whitfield; and two grandchildren. Service dates and times will be announced at a later date. Online condolences may be made at HaughtFuneralHome. com.

HILDA I. BIANCHI Hilda I. Bianchi, 91, of Plant City, died Jan. 5, 2017. She was born in Bushnell on July 22, 1925, to Henry B. and Dora (Ray) Harrison. She was a longtime resident of Plant City. She is survived by her daughter, MaryAnn Bianchi; sisters, Nina Dukes and Dora Lewandowski; grandchildren, Heather, Kyle, Dana, Dawn, Buddy, Krystalyn, Destiny and Joshua; and 13 greatgrandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dominic “Dago” Bianchi; and sons, Dewey and Rocky Bianchi. A graveside service was held Jan. 9, at Springhead Cemetery. Pastor Lynn Foy officiated. Online condolences may be made at

Florist 116 North Collins Street Plant City, FL 33563 ph: (813) 567-5735

Historic Downtown 222760


JANUARY 13, 2017

SPORTS Do you have a good sports scoop for us? Email Justin Kline at jkline@

“When things are getting tough, I tell myself, ‘You can’t give up.” — Cody Johns is undefeated at 195 pounds.


ON THE GRIDIRON Flag football tourney coming back


Durant laxers play in Brogden Cup


he Brogden Cup, a National Lacrosse Classic tournament, pits some of the best American youth players against their Canadian counterparts. This year, two Durant Cougars made the cut. Boys goalie Alex Cordero was named one of the Florida team’s goalies, and Madison Seguin joined the first-ever USA girls team as a defender. Seguin and her teammates were also able to win the girls title, taking a 7-5 victory over Canada on Sunday, Jan. 1. The tournament was held from Friday, Dec. 30, through Sunday, Jan. 1, at the University of Tampa.

Strawberry Crest's wrestling program held its Thursday, Jan. 5, Senior Night meet with Lennard on its football field. JUSTIN KLINE SPORTS/ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Next to winning, Strawberry Crest’s wrestlers and coaches want nothing more than for their sport to get back in the spotlight. On Thursday, Jan. 5, they gave local fans something to buzz about. After honoring seniors D.J. Tice, Josh Muniz, Harry Combs, Christina Font, Zack Lastinger, Taylor Coleman and Isabella Chaudhry, the Chargers scored a 72-6 win over the Lennard Longhorns on their own football field. Dubbed “Grapple on the Gridiron,” the dual meet saw Crest set up a mat near the middle of the home sideline and let the grapplers walk out of the tunnel to entrance music of their choosing. “The kids thought it would be a good idea to publicize the team and get more recognition in the area,” head coach C.J. Gittens says. “It was a good way to show the town who we were.” In fact, Gittens says, it was entirely the kids’ idea. The wrestlers, who thought of the outdoor meet idea over the summer, had some convincing to do before they could get the idea off the ground. But the coaches and administrative staff were sold after a plan was fully formed, and Lennard’s


program agreed that it would be a good look. “(Lennard) was on the same page,” Gittens says. “We lost to Lennard last year and, not that we’re trying to create rivalries, but we want to show the city of Tampa that wrestling needs to be recognized. I think it’s the hardest high school sport.” Crest’s biggest challenge of the evening may have been dealing with the weather. Although the cool temSEE WRESTLING PAGE 13

Photos by Justin Kline

Top: D.J. Tice showed his strength by bodyslamming his opponent. Above: Chas Waller locked up with his opponent.

ome of the best wrestling I saw last week happened right here in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. No, there wasn’t another indy show at the Hillsborough Community College Trinkle Center (but, please, let me know when the next one will be). I’m talking about Strawberry Crest’s “Grapple on the Gridiron,” held Thursday, Jan. 5. The Chargers took what could have been a normal meet against the Lennard Longhorns’ team and turned it into an outdoor showcase on the football field. Thankfully for the fans in attendance, Crest was able to beat the cold front that gripped Florida over the weekend and wrestle at what must be an ideal temperature for the sport. Before each match, the Crest wrestlers ran out of the tunnel to the sound of cheering fans and the entrance music they chose. There weren’t any fireworks or other effects, but it didn’t matter: it was clear as day that the kids were really into it and having a great time. It might have also helped that the Chargers were able to get past Lennard with little trouble, remaining undefeated. Really, the only problem that Crest ran into was the condition of its mat. Though it wasn’t exactly warm weather, humidity often made the surface slick with water, forcing Crest to constantly dry it off with towels, leaf blowers and big fans. Luckily, no one took a bad slip and got hurt. I wish more area high school programs would take a leaf from Crest wrestling’s book and use their resources to host special events of their own. My favorite thing about the event ­— besides that it gave me the best lighting I’ve ever had to work with at a wrestling meet — was that it gave the kids an avenue to let their personalities show more than usual. Sports are fun in part because they’re fun to play, and in part because we can get behind a competition with stakes, but I love when athletes get comfortable enough to let their work show us who they are as a person. I’ve always enjoyed watching athletes SEE KLINE PAGE 13

Plant City Lady Raiders coach Danny McIntyre is teaching his players to excel on and off the court.



Sports Editor Justin Kline saw plenty he liked about Strawberry Crest’s ‘Grapple on the Gridiron’ meet.

New PCHS coach working beyond basketball JUSTIN KLINE


Crest outdoor wrestling meet raises bar


File Photo

Last year’s tourney was successful and will return to Plant City again in 2017.

lant City has again been selected to host the annual United Stated Flag and Touch Football League’s National Championships tournament. The 2017 tournament will be held at Ellis-Methvin Park and the Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex from Friday, Jan. 13, through Sunday, Jan. 15. The tournament, which is also open to international teams, will have 440 adult and youth squads in 33 divisions use 28 fields in both parks over the three-day period. In 2016, the first year Plant City hosted the tournament, around 12,000 players and spectators came through Plant City for the event, according to the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. Spectator parking will be available at Otis M. Andrews Park, adjacent to East Cherry Street and the water tower, and also at Ellis-Methvin Park, around the six main soccer fields. For more information, visit or


Most great basketball players have good “court vision,” the ability to see both present and future on the floor. As the play develops, the player acts accordingly with the hope of putting points on the board. In Danny McIntyre’s case, the Plant City High girls basketball coach’s “court vision” isn’t confined to the school’s gymnasium. McIntyre, who helped the Raiders win the 1982 state title in basketball, was named head coach of the Lady Raiders prior to this season. He’s the team’s third head coach in three years, following the departures of both Wilt Wilkerson and David O’Callaghan, and came in with the goal of giving the team stable leadership it can trust in the game and beyond. Of course, he’d also like to improve the on-court product. In the 2015-16 season, O’Callaghan and Plant City finished with an 11-10 overall record, losing to Strawberry Crest in the first

round of districts. The team lost several key seniors to graduation, and others along the way. McIntyre stresses the importance of teamwork, and fosters a culture where roster spots must be earned. Essentially, he’s implementing some of Smith’s methods into his own coaching style. “I watched what it did for us in that state tournament run,” he says. “But, even 35 years later, we’ve still got that same mentality. We want to create opportunities for others.” Although taking hits to the roster has caused certain stats to dip — the team is averaging two fewer points, one less rebound and a 6% decrease in field goal percentage per game — the team is also averaging four more assists, three more steals and one more block per game. McIntyre knew coming in that taking over the team would not be an easy project, but he’s committed to making a difference in his players’ lives. SEE COACH PAGE 13

Justin Kline

Danny McIntyre is a Plant City High alumnus, and helped win a basketball state title in 1982.




Making your new resolutions stick Jennifer Closshey has advice for everyone with a health-oriented resolution this year.


merica has become a split society when it comes to new year’s resolutions. According to the online magazine Statistic Brain, only 41% of Americans currently make resolutions, while 42% do not. Sadly, 90% of people currently making resolutions on any subject admit failure within the first six months. Why? People simply are not clear on what their goal is. Explicit resolutions are 10 times more likely to be achieved than those that are not. Counselors advise writing down achievable goals that are measurable. Additionally, it helps to become accountable to a friend, reporting in frequently on results to date. Another boosting factor for success is telling the same friend what the next target is, and of your plans to get there. Just 20 years ago, most Americans made resolutions about selfimprovement, career development and finances with a high percentage of success. Today, losing weight is still a common goal. But, even experts’ tips are not enough for guaranteed success. Perhaps the goals you set seem unachievable from the get-go: for example, losing 25 pounds, even if

you need to, seems nearly impossible. Efforts toward reaching this goal could seem futile. An alternative approach is to change the focus of the goal. Just as a piece of white lint on a black sweater becomes the focus, the 25-pound goal takes over mentally, creating its own drama in the mind. Here are some suggestions for goals with a more relatable focus. EAT MORE VEGGIES

Instead of counting calories and feeling deprived, add more food — namely, vegetables — to your intake. Make veggies the focus, the first foods consumed for every meal and snack. By adding more food, the mind connects to just that one shift instead of all the other variables involved with losing 25 pounds. Added benefits of eating more vegetables include increased phytonutrients and fiber. Both help control the appetite, while improving overall health. Eating veggies makes you feel fuller, faster. Cutting down on portion sizes of all other foods consumed synergistically works with increased veggie consumption to speed up weight loss. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island also suggest chewing sugar-free gum. Their study found those who chewed gum throughout the morning consumed 67 fewer calories at lunch. Every calorie counts, and each day adds up.

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ing kind words to others returns immense benefits. Kind words and hugs both release oxytocin — the “feel-good” hormone — into our system while decreasing cortisol — the “stress” hormone. A deliberate plan could include committing to write a note every day, complimenting others throughout the day or even donating time or money to a good cause. According to a study at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, giving money to a worthy cause makes us feel happier. During the holiday season, I gave away seasonal lapel pins every time someone noticed it. It made me happy as I watched their elated responses.

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Instead of tackling the change of dropping 100 things from your diet or lifestyle, pick that one big no-no that really would change your life. It is easier to focus on staying true to a plan to do just one thing. List all the things that could make a difference. Then, select just one. Focus on the biggest bang for your buck. This technique can be applied to both your personal life, as well as your career.


Adding a deliberate plan of spread-


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— C.J. Gittens, Strawberry Crest High School wrestling coach



Another initiative he stresses, one he first picked up from former head coach Jimmy Smith in the 1980s, was to make sure everyone on that roster is a “good citizen.” Character counts in McIntyre’s book, and one of his top priorities is to make sure that his basketball program helps players become people all of Plant City can be proud of. He also credits other PCHS coaches, such as boys basketball coach Billy Teeden, with doing the same. McIntyre wants Plant City to be proud of the people his players have and will become, but he also wants his players to be proud of Plant City. A longtime entrepreneur, McIntyre

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Photos by Justin Kline

Above: Manny Ramirez didn’t hesitate to hit his opponent with takedowns and suplexes. Left: Crest picked up a 72-6 win over Lennard.


such as Steve Smith, Alex Ovechkin, Adrian Beltre, even J.R. Smith — people with their own unique quirks and habits that make you smile (well, maybe not so much with J.R.) and say, “Only he can get away with doing that.” Even if it’s just as simple as playing part of a censored hip-hop song and letting a kid run out of the tunnel, maybe hamming it up a bit for the crowd, I’m good with it. Not all indoor prep sports can go outdoors, like wrestling did, and not all of the outdoor sports can feasi-

is excited by recent developments in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, from the city’s commitment to Midtown to the Economic Development Corporation injecting new life into the business scene. He wants students to know that Plant City — which he and others call “the Itty-Bitty” — has more opportunities to offer people than many think. It’s something he stresses as a basketball coach, and something he stresses in his role as chairman of ecomomic development in the Improvement League of Plant City. McIntyre enjoys making himself available to help mentor players and students, whether they’d like to one day be business owners or simply

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bly go indoors. But I want to suggest to the area programs that don’t normally do anything like this, or like the Durant-Plant City Halloween baseball games, to add another example. Even if it’s only for one day, why not try and have a little more fun than usual?

Justin Kline is the Sports Editor at the Plant City Times & Observer. Email:

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need some guidance. A mentorship, he says, is one of the most valuable assets a young person can have. In McIntyre’s opinion, it’s just a matter of getting the kids to see that people such as Mayor Rick Lott and Plant City EDC President Jake Austin are creating opportunities for others to succeed. “We are, in my opinion, primed to be one of the most successful cities in the county,” McIntyre says. “Potentially in the state … I look at it and say, in 15 to 20 years, these (students) are our future business owners. This is the future of Plant City.” Contact Justin Kline at jkline@



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“We want to show the city that wrestling needs to be recognized ... it’s a good way to bring wrestling back.”

perature and lack of strong wind was ideal, the humidity wasn’t. Condensation formed on the mat, covering it almost entirely after nearly every match. The Chargers quickly learned that rather than having fans blowing directly at the surface, keeping the temperature neutral was the best way to keep things from getting too slick. Perhaps the only group more anxious than the kids to put on a good show was the coaching staff — even though the coaches weren’t initially sold on the idea. Gittens and his staff worked hard to make everything worked out as planned, allowing the kids to focus more on the wrestling. “When you’re a coach, I feel that part of it is showing the kids that you respect them and their ideas,” Gittens says. “I think that’s why the team is doing so well. There is an understanding that we respect them as much as they respect us.” The event was a success for Crest on all counts: the team won big, the fans showed up and got loud, the kids and coaches had fun and no one got an injury from slipping on the wet mat. While there are no set plans for the event to return next year, Gittens isn’t ruling out the idea of another outdoor meet. He believes that hyping up the duals, which have been largely surpassed by six and 10-way meets in terms of frequency, is a good way to get kids interested in wrestling — “bringing wrestling back,” he says. What better way to put duals in the spotlight than putting them under the Friday night lights? “It’s a good way to bring wrestling back,” Gittens says. “It’s a dying sport, and it doesn’t need to be.”












Cody Johns


Before his senior year, Cody Johns decided to leave the Durant football team to focus more on wrestling. As of press time, Johns had yet to lose a match. At 195 pounds, he has picked up wins at the Peter Barker and Cory Hill tournaments. Johns plans to enlist in the United States Marine Corps after graduation. Know someone who deserves an Athlete of the Week feature? Email Justin Kline at by the Friday before the next issue.

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What made you decide to only do wrestling this year? Wrestling is challenging. It’s all about a grind. You’re not going to get anything out of it unless you put time into it, so I needed more time to put into it. I also wanted to put more time into my grades. How are the grades? I’m making straight As and Bs.

What got you into it? During the summer, there’s an invitation sent to all incoming freshmen for “Freshman Boot Camp,” to kind of introduce people to wrestling. I really didn’t know about real wrestling until then and, when I did that, I was like, “Why not?” What’s been our proudest moment as a Cougar? Being one of the leaders of the team. The team is like a family. Do you have any pre-match routines? This year, before my matches, I’ll kind of isolate myself from everyone. I’ll put on my headgear, stretch, move around a little bit to get into a calm state. When I wrestle, the best way I wrestle is when I’m calm. What’s the best advice a coach has given you? Work hard every day.

How big is the difference between last year and this year, on the mat? I just feel like it’s helped out a lot … in wrestling, if you take time off, you’re going to start forgetting things. It’s all about muscle memory. You want to be able to hit the moves as fast as possible, so you want to have muscle memory. The more you practice, the better you are. Where have you improved the most? I’ve improved a lot overall. My offense, my defense. I’ve improved on bottom and top. What’s the key to going undefeated? Every day, I try to practice to my full extent and I try to push my teammates. When things are getting tough, I tell myself, “You can’t give up.” Two of my matches this weekend went into overtime, and the reason I didn’t lose was because, in the final 30 seconds, I was able to hold down my guy when I was on top.


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FRIDAY, JAN. 13 April Sullivent took this photo of a sunset over Plant City at the start of the new year. April wins this week’s I Love Plant City photo contest.


38 Antacid, for short 39 Having no feet 41 Soft palate 42 Hurricane heading, sometimes 44 Distrustful 47 Bled in the laundry 49 “... yadda, yadda, yadda” 50 Bad-mouths 53 Swiss canton or its capital 56 Mimicries 58 Knocking noise 60 Agendum, e.g. 61 Amend, as an atlas section 65 Actress Fabray, for short 67 With money to burn 69 “___ your call” 72 Guaranteed winner 73 Drag race participant 75 Old Irish memorial inscription 76 Period before a conflict 77 Ballerina’s skirts 80 “Steer” anagram 81 Parts of a baseball 84 Old photo tone 85 “___ we having fun yet?” 87 Bran type 90 Affected dandy 92 Thin plate or layer

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017 Call 866.600.6008 and enter the

code for property details or to speak with the agent.

Plant City | Lots/Land | $1,500,000 David McCarthy 866.600.6008 504403 1809 James L Redman Pkwy Search T2807711 on

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Ruskin | 3/3.2 | $450,000 Sherry Clements 866.600.6008 535343 104 2nd Ave SW Search T2850823 on

Walden Lake | 4/3 | $339,000 Lynne Halleran 866.600.6008 480360 2005 Country Club Ct Search T2854449 on

Dover | 4/2.1 | $296,500 Maddie Alford 866.600.6008 508632 2215 Fritzke Rd Search T2815395 on

Plant City | 4/2.1 | $295,000 Malissa Crawford 866.600.6008 499161 801 N Wheeler St Search T2826130 on

Land O Lakes | 3/2 | $285,000 Maddie Alford 866.600.6008 531607 4744 Barry Dr Search T2844870 on

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Plant City | 3/1.1 | $250,000 Maddie Alford 866.600.6008 508117 4311 Coronet Rd Search T2813766 on

Walden Lake | 3/2 | $230,000 Malissa Crawford 866.600.6008 491502 1736 Brookstone Way Search T2850297 on

Lakeland | 4/3 | $220,000 Antonia Coronel 866.600.6008 506217 4707 Joyce Dr Search T2855657 on

Walden Lake | 3/2 | $205,000 Lynne Halleran 866.600.6008 482249 3335 Steinbeck Pl Search T2855393 on

Plant City | 3/2.2 | $189,900 Jimmie Robinson 866.600.6008 538265 3516 Joe Sanchez Rd Search T2857475 on

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Mulberry | 3/1.1 | $135,000 Patrick Lynch 866.600.6008 518415 1175 Dean St Search T2825977 on

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Lunn Woods | 3/2 | $98,900 Jean Bridgmon 866.600.6008 492274 6214 Lunn Woods Way Search T2849045 on

Country Knoll | 3/2 | $89,900 Jean Bridgmon 866.600.6008 488366 3020 Honeoye Trl, Unit #29 Search T2848482 on

Bell Lake Vista | Lots/Land | $88,500 Maddie Alford 866.600.6008 531606 22220 Hale Rd Search T2844912 on

Plant City | 4/2 | $72,900 Jean Bridgmon 866.600.6008 481873 7611 Loghouse Rd Search T2838351 on

Lakeland | 2/2 | $69,900 Jean Bridgmon 866.600.6008 493608 519 Lazy Lake Dr W Search T2849100 on

Mulberry | 3/2 | $59,900 Antonia Coronel 866.600.6008 531747 506 5th Ave Search T2841576 on

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Real estate agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of the Company. The property information herein is derived from various sources that may include, but not be limited to, county records and the Multiple Listing Service and it may include approximations. Although the information is believed to be accurate, it is not warranted and you should not rely upon it without personal verification. Š2016 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. Coldwell Banker is a registered service mark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Operated by a subsidiary of NRT LLC. 12731FL_9/16

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