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Plant City Times &

Observer YOU. YOUR NEIGHBORS. YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

A PARTNERSHIP WITH

IN THIS ISSUE

SPORTS

EXCLUSIVE

Plant City’s Wish From the Farms announces pageant to the pitch. Meet PCHS’ Drew Knotts. new challenge.

OUR TOWN + Lancers to host dinner fundraiser Looking for a way to kill two birds with one stone? Feed your family and raise funds for a wonderful Plant City organization through the Plant City FC’s chicken dinner fundraiser. The dinner will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at the Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex, 2602 E. Cherry St., Plant City. The $7 dinner includes a leg quarter, rice, beans, tortillas, salsa and a beverage. All proceeds go to the Plant City Football Club. Organizers also can deliver meals to any local business during lunchtime that would like to support. For preorders, email president@plantcityfc.com.

Residents hit the runway for fashion show.

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FREE • THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2014

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update by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Plant City fires police chief A weeklong investigation revealed Steven Singletary violated several code of conduct items to hide an extramarital affair.

Ever since Plant City sus- several of the Plant City Police Department’s general pended Police Chief order code of conduct Steven Singletary Jan. items, including mak17, one question reing false statements mained: Why? on reports, faking illCity Manager Greg nesses for sick days Horwedel revealed and persuading anthe reasons behind other police officer Singletary’s suspento cover up activities sion — and now terpertaining to an extramination — during a marital affair. press conference Jan. Singletary For three years, 28, at City Hall. Singletary primarily violated Singletary had been abusing

department code and assets to carry on an affair, according to a city-led investigation. His termination also resulted in another officer’s firing, Sgt. Mark Mathis. “I want to emphasize at this point that Mr. Singletary is not being terminated solely because he had an extramarital affair,”Horwedel said. “I understand those things happen in today’s world, like it or not. The most important issues for me

were Mr. Singletary’s actions related to the code of conduct, specifically those items outlined above that were sustained violations.” City officials had been silent on the reason behind Singletary’s suspension during the weeklong investigation.

HIGHER EXPECTATIONS

Singletary reported his own indiscretions on Jan. 13. According to the investiga-

Editor Michael Eng discusses the editorial decisions we made regarding this story. SEE PAGE 6 tion, Singletary had been having an affair with family friend Melissa Hardwick. Most recently, she joined Singletary for dinner while he was attending a Florida Police Chief’s Conference Jan. 12, in Orlando. While

SEE CHIEF/ PAGE 4

4XHHQ First Railfest -HVVL5DH chugs into 9DUQXP Plant City by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

The two-day event will celebrate the new train platform and train museum.

Youth pop group NRG entertained some of Plant City’s budding bookworms during a special concert Jan. 24, at Cork Elementary School. The group performed several of their catchy tunes for about 350 students who met their reading goals.

Choo! Choo! Hear that? It’s not just trains that will be chugging through Historic Downtown Plant City this weekend. The city’s first Railfest will celebrate the new train platform and memorabilia that has been donated by R.W. Willaford. The two-day event is family friendly and designed for railfans. Modeled after a simi-

+ Civitan Club to honor teens The Plant City Civitan Club will be honoring the Outstanding Students at 7 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at its monthly breakfast at Buddy Freddy’s, 1101 Goldfinch Drive, Plant City. Jessi Rae Varnum and Austin Bruner have been selected as this year’s Outstanding Youth and also will be the 2014 Youth Parade grand marshals on March 1.

IF YOU GO RAILFEST WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb 7; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 WHERE: Union Station Depot, 102 N. Palmer St., Plant City WEBSITE: plantcityrailfest. com

SEE RAILFEST / PAGE 5

now open

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Hillsborough to open park at Cone Ranch

+ Scouts plan annual banquet The deadline to RSVP to the 11th Annual Friends of Scouting Banquet is Feb. 7. The banquet will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at the HCC John R. Trinkle Center, 2206 E. Cherry St. To RSVP, call (813) 752-2505.

Lower Green Swamp Preserve features hiking and equestrian trails. A family celebration is scheduled for Saturday.

SEE PAGE 7 FOR MORE PAGEANT PHOTOS

0RUHFRYHUDJHRQ3ODQW&LW\2EVHUYHUFRP Video interviews with the 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court and pageant footage

This week’s winner is

Cheryl Boles

See her photo on PAGE 14.

OUR VIEW

ALL ABOARD!

+ NRG promotes reading at Cork

, 3&

INSIDE

ONLINE EXCLUSIVES Gallery of all 20 2014 pageant contestants

Gallery of the 2014 Strawberry Festival Queen and Court

Gallery featuring the outgoing Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court

Beautiful hiking and equestrian trails nestled among the pines are now open to the public at the Lower Green Swamp Preserve off Knights Griffin Road. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Jan. 28, to celebrate the trails as well as a new kiosk, parking area and more. On Saturday, Feb. 1, there will be another family celebration, complete with guided hiking tours, hayrides, tree planting and more. In line with the Lower Green Swamp Preserve’s land management and land-use plan, the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program has been working to bet-

INDEX Calendar.......................2

SEE PRESERVE / PAGE 4 Vol. 1, No. 27 | One section

Crossword...................14

Obituaries...................10

Sports.........................11

Weather ......................14

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COMMUNITYCALENDAR THURSDAY, JAN. 30 Born to Run — weekly run takes place at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. Casey Stidham — performance takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, (813) 752-9100. Diabetes Self Management Education — takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Glenda Williams. (813) 3078015, Ext. 7111. Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Banquet — takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at the HCC Plant City John R. Trinkle Center, 1206 N. Park Road, Plant City. For more, visit plantcity.org.

FRIDAY, JAN. 31 Bag of Books for a Buck Sale — takes place from 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1. at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Members of the Friends of the Library are invited to a preview sale from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. both Friday and Saturday. If you aren’t a member yet, you can join at the Book Sale. Anne Haywood, (813) 757-9215. Blood Drive — takes place from 10:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. (813) 757-9215.

Uncork Your Weekend with Destination Unknown — live music from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road. (813) 752-9100.

SATURDAY, FEB. 1 Bike Fest — takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at 102 N. Palmer St. For more, visit plantcity.org. Girl Scout Thinking Day — takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at the American Legion, 2207 W. Baker St., Plant City. The girls will be learning about different countries and show what they learned. They also will have a fashion show to represent each country. (813) 732-9679. Strawberry Square Flea Market — takes place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 1, at 4401 Promenade Blvd., Plant City. For information or table rental, call Jill, (813) 704-5540. Uncork Your Weekend with Charlie O. — live music from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. Walking in Your Dreams Performing Arts — takes place from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Frederick Brutton, (813) 650-1152.

SUNDAY, FEB. 2 Super Bowl Party — takes place Sunday, Feb. 2, at Keel

& Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. Party will feature the big game on big-screen televisions, barbecue from Smokin’ Aces BBQ, cornhole tournament, fan competition and much more. (813) 752-9100.

MONDAY, FEB. 3 Beginner Square Dance Lessons — classes take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays, at Strawberry Square, 4401 Promenade Blvd., Plant City. First class is free. Plus Square Dance Lessons begin from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (813) 752-0491. Central Florida Speech and Hearing — Free phone distribution will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Jennifer Carmack, (863) 6863189. Valentines Day Card Making for Kids — takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. (813) 757-9215.

TUESDAY, FEB. 4 Flute Circle — takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Utah Farris, (863) 696-0442 or utahflutes1@wmconnect.com. Ribbon Cutting: Huff Automotive & Muffler — takes place from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 402 S. Collins St., Plant City. For more, visit plantcity.org.

Thomas Shelton — performance takes place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Eastside Baptist Church, 1318 E. Calhoun St. All senior adults in the community are invited to attend. The concert is free but the church asks guests to bring a covered dish; an offering will be taken. For more, call (813) 754-2681.

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 5 Email Basics — class takes place from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. (813) 757-9215. Résumé Writing — class takes place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. For more information, call (813) 757-9215.

THURSDAY, FEB. 6 Diabetes Self Management Education — takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Glenda Williams, (813) 3078015, Ext. 7111. Fresh from Florida Breakfast — takes place from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. Ribbon Cutting: Southern Vapor — takes place from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at 104 W. Reynolds St., Suite 6, Plant City. For more, visit plantcity.org.

To publicize your event in our Community Calendar, please send by mail: 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-A, Plant City, FL 33563; or by email: meng@plantcityobserver.com. Photos are welcome. Deadline is noon Thursday.

Citizen of the Year tickets now on sale It’s a longstanding tradition — 55 years to be exact. And it’s always a secret. Plant City’s Citizen of the Year recipient is never revealed until the moment they are called onto the stage at the annual luncheon. “Every year is an exciting time for the Citizen of the Year,” Kiwanis Club of Plant City member Ken Gibbs said. This year, the luncheon takes place at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall. RSVPs must be received by Feb. 5. The Citizen of the Year is selected by civic clubs around the area. The Kiwanis organize the nomination process and event. Each club submits a nominee and then votes on whom they would like to see named. This year’s clubs include the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Plant City Civitan Club, GFWC Woman’s Club of Plant City, Plant City Lions Club, Plant City Optimist Club, Plant City Daybreak Rotary, Plant City Noon

File photo

Joseph E. Sedita was last year’s recipient.

IF YOU GO OUTSTANDING CITIZEN OF THE YEAR WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12 WHERE: Where: Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall, 2301 W. Oak Ave. COST: $25 RSVP: By Feb. 5 to Sharon Moody, (813) 453-7134 or sharonmoody91@yahoo.com, or Ken Gibbs, (813) 7526171 or GibbsRealtor@ aol.com. Rotary and American Business Woman’s Association. Last year’s recipient was Joseph E. Sedita. — Amber Jurgensen


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governance by Michael Eng | Editor

City unveils first glimpse of redesigned Collins Street The plan includes beautification, new foliage, wider sidewalks and grand entrances along one of Plant City’s main arteries. Plant City commissioners have endorsed a plan for a grander, more beautiful and more appropriately designed Collins Street. Although still only in concept form, the plan includes features such as wider sidewalks, turning lanes, beautification and as many as three grand entrances along Plant City’s central north-south corridor. The commission voted unanimously to move forward with the concept. Most of the details — including funding sources, timelines and more — still haven’t been determined. However, the commission’s approval is another major step in the city defining and delineating its Historic Downtown district and, eventually, Midtown. The concept — titled “Completing Collins Street” — was created by Atkins North America, the design consulting firm hired by the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization to examine the road. Wiatt Bowers, a senior project manager with Atkins, presented the study to commissioners at their Jan. 27 meeting. The study examines a roughly twomile stretch of Collins Street, from Alexander Street north to Historic Downtown. Currently, the road varies between a two-lane road in the downtown district and the wider, four-lane

artery as it stretches to the south. “The thematic identity … we came up with is a vibrant, small-town railroad community,” Bowers said. As such, the concept includes streetscaping and entrances that use brick and metal materials similar to what is found throughout the city today, he said. The study divides the two-mile stretch into three portions: Baker Street south to Alabama Street (Zone A); Alabama Street to Grant Street (Zone B); and Grant Street to Alexander Street (Zone C). All zones would feature new trees and landscaping, new lighting and as many as three grand gateways, but each zone also calls for different improvements to the road, Bowers said. Zone A. Atkins’ plan proposes the least amount of changes to this zone. Some improvements could include wider sidewalks, adding trees for beautification and marking the road for shared use for bicyclists. Zone B. This zone, which includes the future Midtown project, receives major changes under Atkins’ study. Taking the road from four lanes down to two lanes, the study proposes adding both northbound and southbound bicycle lanes, as well as parallel parking on the north side of the road. South of Alsobrook Street, the

study features a raised planted median in the middle of the road, in lieu of parallel parking. Zone C. With this zone’s large shopping plazas and other commercial uses, Atkins proposed a four-lane road with planted median in the center. Vice Mayor Rick Lott said the timing of this study is critical, because of the Florida Department of Transportation’s plan to transfer ownership of the corridor to the city this year (see Ownership Transfer). Before that transfer occurs, FDOT will fund a complete repaving of Collins Street. “That would be the perfect time, if we had the ability to find the funding, to be able to take this concept and work with it,” Lott said. City Manager Greg Horwedel said the commission wasn’t approving the concept exactly as presented but rather the direction the city will take regarding Collins Street’s future. “We’re not looking for approval of each detail as presented, nor are we looking for budgetary authority at this time,” he said. “It’s a great concept. … There will be a varying menu of items that we’ll talk about in each budget season. So, implementing them will be more than just a one-time thing. It will be in stages, probably.” Contact Michael Eng at meng@ plantcityobserver.com.

Courtesy of Atkins North America

This rendering of Collins Street shows a two-lane road with a planted median in the middle and bike paths on either side.

OWNERSHIP TRANSFER State Road 39 is currently a state-owned road that provides one of the few north-south movements through eastern Hillsborough and Pasco counties. In 1988, the Florida Department of Transportation conducted a study for the widening of State Road 39 from Interstate 4 to U.S. 301. Early in the study, it was determined that it would not be feasible to widen State Road 39 from I-4 to the vicinity of KnightsGriffin Road. As a result of coordination with the City of Plant City and the Hillsborough County MPO, the FDOT evaluated a new

Source: Atkins North America

ABOUT THE STUDY

The Collins Street corridor offers a major opportunity to create a special place within Plant City. Modifications to the roadway could jumpstart revitalization efforts in the Midtown district and yield a more bustling downtown with new residential units. Redevelopment could spread south, with new mixed-use buildings replacing surface parking lots and commercial uses re-orienting to the street itself. The area can be further enhanced by providing better connections to nearby parks, neighborhoods and schools. Source: Atkins North America

PICKING A WINNER by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

FASHION FORWARD

Wish Farms plans Picking Challenge

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Jana Butler

Dee Dee and Carl Grooms loved strolling down the runway. Right: Easton Kicklighter

EN VOGUE Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis

Even the newest generation got some time on the catwalk. Left: Marsha Passmore

Plant City residents donned the latest fashions and took to the catwalk at the 37th annual Fashion Show Jan. 23, at the Florida Strawberry Festival. The models rocked styles from Stein Mart, Southside and more. Attendees were treated to a delicious lunch and strawberry-topped dessert before the labels hit the catwalk.

staying warm by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Quilting group stitches unique piece The members of Berry Patch Quilters of Plant City worked together to create “The Exotic Garden,” a quilt that will be raffled off at the group’s next event. Anyone with an interest in the “Exotic Garden” quilt at Inspire! Quilting and Sewing are in luck. The quilt, which is currently not for sale, will be raffled off by the Berry Patch Quilters of Plant City in February. It’s a one-of-a-kind item, handmade just for this occasion. “Each block was made by a different member of our quilting guild,” quilter Elaine Green said. “It was long-arm quilted.” The raffle will be the main attraction of “Quilts — a Piece at a Time,” a show that the guild plans to host Feb. 8, at First Presbyterian Church. The guild will display quilts made by members, as well as family quilts that have been passed down from generation to generation, and a quilt appraiser will be available for a small fee. The guild also encourages anyone to set up their own booth to sell their own quilts. Lunch

bypass alignment from I-4 to the vicinity of Knights-Griffin Road in addition to widening State Road 39 north of the bypass alignment. The City of Plant City had identified the need to divert traffic from its historic district by relocating the State Road 39 interchange to Alexander Street. This project is now under construction and is scheduled for completion in 2014. After the bypass is constructed, FDOT plans to transfer ownership of the portion of State Road 39 from Alexander Street to KnightsGriffin Road to Plant City.

Courtesy photo

This quilt, called “The Exotic Garden,” will be raffled off Feb. 8.

will be made at the church, and those who get hungry can buy food there. Proceeds from the raffle and show will benefit a number of Plant City-area charities. Meals on Wheels and the

United Food Bank of Plant City will receive some of the money, and the guild also will use some of the proceeds to provide quilts for the homeless, for newborns at South Florida Baptist Hospital and for dialysis patients. “We made the decision in the last couple of years to keep our charity work in Plant City,” Green said. “The philosophy of our group is that if we hear of a need, we’ll try to fulfill it.” The show should also give the Berry Patch Quilters some exposure. The guild comprises about 30 people and typically meets at First Presbyterian. Quilting, sewing and crocheting are just a few of the methods the guild members practice, and they’re willing to share their knowledge. “We’ll teach anyone that wants to learn,” Green says. Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobserver.com.

IF YOU GO QUILTS — A PIECE AT A TIME WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 WHERE: 404 W. Reynolds St., Plant City TICKETS: Tickets are being sold for $1, but people can also buy six tickets for $5. Those who wish to buy tickets can get them from any member of the quilt guild or at Inspire Quilting and Sewing, 101 N. Collins St. INFORMATION: For more information, contact Elaine Green at (813) 986-1141. To set up a booth to sell quilts, contact Mike Daramus at (813) 7075720.

The Plant City farms’ berry-picking event takes the place of its tennis competition. The challenge takes place Feb. 7 and 8. Although Wish Farms found success with its tennis competition, owner Gary Wishnatzki decided it’s time for a change. So, he and his company have created something more in tune with Plant City’s spirit: a strawberry-picking challenge. “We feel that this is a much better fit for Plant City,” Wishnatzki says. “Not everybody plays tennis, but almost anyone can pick strawberries.” The first Strawberry Picking Challenge, presented by Bright House Networks, is a two-day event that will benefit the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, a group that provides child care and early education services to children of migrant farm workers and low-income families in Florida. Wishnatzki’s immediate goal is to match the success of the tennis competition. “We have about 30 open slots on the Strawberry Joe trophy, for the names of the winners each year,” Wishnatzki says. “Once those 30 slots get filled up, well, we’ll see what we need to do for the trophy then.” The “Strawberry Joe,” named for Wishnatzki’s father, will serve as the challenge’s perpetual trophy — essentially, the Stanley Cup of strawberry picking. The event kicks off Friday, Feb. 7, with a dinner at the TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, in Tampa. Cocktail hour begins at 6:30 p.m., and dinner is served at 7:30 p.m.. Several entertainers, including Rodney Justo, CooCooCaChoo and comedian Thomas Brown, will perform. Dress for this event is casual. A silent raffle also will take place during Friday’s event. Each team in the competition has its own prize box. The box of the team that wins Saturday’s competition is the one from which raffle winners will be drawn. There will be plenty of prizes to win, including new iPads. The contest begins the next day at Futch Farms. Teams consist of three people, a celebrity and a coach, each chosen by the corresponding sponsor. A Contestant Coaching session begins at 10 a.m., with the actual competition slated to start at 11 a.m. The teams are scored according to three categories: fastest flat picked, best-looking flat and cleanest row. The highest scoring teams move to the

IF YOU GO WISH FARMS STRAWBERRY PICKING CHALLENGE WHERE: Dinner and silent raffle will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 N. 50th St., Tampa. The challenge takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at Futch Farms, 3536 Futch Loop, Plant City. TICKETS: Admission to the Saturday challenge costs $25 for adults and $8 for ages 12 and under; children age 3 or younger are admitted free. Allaccess tickets for both Friday and Saturday events are $200. INFORMATION: Visit wishfarms.com or email to Amber@wishfarms.com.

PICK SOME FOR U, TOO

For those who would like to pick some fresh strawberries of their own, Wish Farms has you covered as early as this weekend. At Wish Farms/Simmons Farms, at the intersection of Jerry Smith Road and State Road 60, three U-pick events will be held in the next three months. The first event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, and packing materials will be provided. The other two events are scheduled for Feb. 22 and March 15. Pricing has yet to be determined. For more info, visit wishfarms.com.

final round, where a group of blind-panel judges select the Best Harvest Crew. During the competition, there will be lunch and a plethora of festivities to keep spectators entertained. This includes appearances by the Radio Disney Road Crew and Wish Farms’ Misty the Garden Pixie, face painting, berry sampling and a strawberry sale. The award ceremony will be held at 3 p.m., during which the perpetual trophy will be presented to the Best Harvest Crew. Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobserver.com.


ª 3ODQW&LW\2EVHUYHUFRP CHIEF / PAGE 1 they were having dinner, Hardwick’s husband, Jason, showed up at the restaurant and took pictures of Singletary and his wife. Melissa Hardwick returned to the room with Singletary, which caused investigators to debate what entails city time and what doesn’t. In the end, Horwedel said it comes down to expectations. “There’s very little, if any, distinction if there is off-time or not with city officials,” he said. A day after the incident, Singletary called Assistant City Manager of Public Safety Bill McDaniel to report the incident. “Chief Singletary advised that he was concerned that Jason Hardwick might be coming to that night’s scheduled City Commission meeting with the photographs and to conduct a press conference about the extramarital affair,” according to investigation documents. Following the conversation, McDaniel consulted with Horwedel. Together, they had a meeting Jan. 15, with Singletary. “During this meeting, Chief Singletary stated that this matter was personal and had nothing to do with his position or job performance as chief of police,” the investigation stated. Two days later, Jason Hardwick met with McDaniel and Horwedel to provide more information. “There were no threats,” McDaniel said of Jason Hardwick’s conduct. “He was very forthcoming and cooperative.” Jason Hardwick also “further related relevant information about Chief Singletary’s conduct surrounding that affair, as well as other incidents that might have a bearing on Chief Singletary’s job-related performance,” the investigation stated. The city recruited retired Sarasota Police Chief John Lewis Jan. 22, to act as an objective, third-party investigative consultant. According to investigation documents, Singletary and Melissa Hardwick met on as many as nine separate occasions in 2013, at a hotel in Lake-

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land. Singletary took vacation hours to cover time for three of those meetings. On two meetings, he took sick time. On four dates, he did not note any form of leave time. In the fall 2013, Singletary used his position as chief to gain access to restricted city property known as the “pistol range” to meet Melissa Hardwick. “Chief Steven Singletary was reluctant to discuss this matter with his superiors in the city management structure — even after he admitted his indiscretion and the incident in Orlando,” the investigation stated. “Chief Singletary demonstrated a lack of comprehension of the potential impact of his actions upon his status and standing as chief of police and the impact that his actions could have on his effectiveness to command police operations and personnel.”

THE WOOD COURT INCIDENT

On Jan. 23, Melissa Hardwick guided Lewis and McDaniel to a business at 2002 Wood Court, in Plant City, where an incident that directly violated the code of conduct had occurred on Feb. 19, 2011. Singletary and Melissa Hardwick had been parked on private property and were blocked in by the business owner, Rick Wright. “Wright said that the incident in question was not the first time that he had seen the same two cars on his property,” the investigation said. Wright used his black Chevrolet Tahoe to block the exit and called the Plant City Police Department to respond. Before the officer arrived, Singletary exited his car, flashed a badge and told Wright that “it would be his best interest to let them leave.” Singletary was a captain at the time. Officer Mark Mathis arrived on the scene and, after speaking with Singletary, told Wright to let the cars go and there would be no further problems. However, on his dispatched call record, Mathis wrote that “both vehicles were (gone upon arrival).” Mathis was fired for falsifying the dispatch record.

“It’s public trust, and I feel public trust in this case was violated,” Horwedel said. “We will have to work to restore that. And I think our police department will do an exceptional job.” However, that public mistrust may continue after Singletary’s and Mathis’ terminations. In her interview with investigators, Melissa Hardwick said Plant City Commissioner Billy Keel, a friend of Singletary’s, tried to prevent her from cooperating with the investigation. Keel sent text messages to a friend of Melissa Hardwick’s and asked the friend to urge Melissa Hardwick to keep quiet. Melissa Hardwick said Keel’s text message stated her testimony could cost Singletary his job. Horwedel, when asked about the allegations involving Keel, said investigators determined no crimes had occurred, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

The termination comes less than a year after Singletary was sworn into the post in April 2013. He replaced McDaniel, who took a position as assistant city manager of public safety. Singletary joined the department in 1996, as a patrol officer. Since then, he had held a myriad of positions, including field training officer, a post in the Street Crimes Unit, the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, the Criminal Investigations Unit and more. Singletary was serving as captain before he took over as interim chief in December 2012. “When we went through the process for a new police chief replacement, we looked internally,” Horwedel said. “He had a long record of service with the department.” Until a new police chief is appointed, retired Plant City Dep. Chief John Borders will serve as interim chief. “John brings vast operational experience and unquestioned integrity to the table, and we are deeply appreciative of his willingness to provide stability and leadership during this troubling time,” Horwedel said. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

IF YOU GO LOWER GREEN SWAMP CELEBRATION WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 1 WHERE: Lower Green Swamp Preserve, 3536 Knights Griffin Road DETAILS: Celebrate the beauty of Lower Green Swamp Preserve by attending a free, family-friendly day of fun. Enjoy tree-planting, guided hiking tours, hayrides and more. Volunteer planters should bring their own gardening gloves, and kids can even tag their trees. Comfortable attire and closed-toes shoes are recommended for all visitors COST: Free CONTACT: (813) 672-7876

PRESERVE / PAGE 1 ter the preserve and open it to the public. “It’s going to be great,” said Forest Turbiville, division manager for Hillsborough County’s Parks, Recreation and Conservation department. “We’ve been working really hard to get these things done since ELAP took it over from the public utilities.” One of the main goals was to secure the site, installing new boundary fencing where necessary. Another goal was to thin the dense canopy of pine trees. In the 1980s, area Rotary Clubs donated a million pine trees to the preserve. But over time, the forest must be thinned to allow natural growth on the floor. In conjunction with the Florida Forestry Service, ELAP thinned multiple stands of slash pine and reintroduced the longleaf pine to reestablish a native pine flatwoods community throughout the southern portions of the preserve. Conducting multiple prescribed burns in both natural and disturbed areas, was key. More than 200 acres of cogon grass, a Category 1 invasive exotic species, and other exotic plants, such as ceasarweed and Brazilian pepper, were sprayed, as well. “They did a really nice job with it,”

Plant City Vice Mayor Rick Lott said. The county always has strived to protect the historic roots of the preserve. During the Second Seminole War in 1839, a stockade named Fort Sullivan was constructed around the far southeastern section of Lower Green Swamp Preserve. A road most likely would have skirted the southern boundary of the preserve and possibly would have run along the same track that Knights Griffin Road runs today to connect Fort Sullivan to Fort Foster. Blackwater Creek and Itchepackesassa Creek were channelized, and, by 1938, the majority of Lower Green Swamp Preserve already had been cleared of over-story trees and converted to pasture. Cattle ranching was the main activity over much of the preserve during the twentieth century. In 1998, the majority of the preserve was purchased through bankruptcy proceedings by the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority, which is now Tampa Bay Water. WCRWSA developed a water-resource management plan for the preserve in 1988, then transferred ownership of the preserve lands to Hillsborough County’s Public Utilities Department in February 1988, with a proviso that any potable water to be developed on the preserve would be developed by WCRWSA. Since the 1980s, water supply planning, implementation practices, and regulations have reduced the value of the preserve as a future source of groundwater. Because many wetlands are located throughout the preserve, under these guidelines, it would not be possible to place large groundwater production wells on the preserve without affecting wetlands and their thriving inhabitants. ELAP obtained the preserve in 2010. The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners directed the County Administrator to transfer the property from the Utility Enterprise fund to the ELAP Program for the original purchase price of $12.2 million. The decision of the board was based on information from the Cone Ranch Advisory Panel. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.


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RAILFEST / PAGE 1 lar event at the Folkston Funnel in Georgia, Railfest is designed to bring more tourism to Plant City’s quaint downtown while highlighting its rich railroad history. “We were finding that railfans were coming from all over the nation to see our railroad,” event coordinator Deanna Hurley said. “We’re really hoping to get the attention of the railfan community.” The event kicks off Feb. 7, with back-to-back movie showings at the north parking lot on the corner of Reynolds and North Palmer streets. There will be free popcorn, sponsored by TECO, and Blue Bell ice cream. At 6:30 p.m., the showing of “Thomas and Friends King of the Railway” will start. After a short intermission, “The Great Locamotive Chase” will start at 8 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to come early to set up lawn chairs and get prime spots in front of the screen. The fun continues Feb. 8, with an all-day festival. Guests will enjoy coloring stations, free museum admission, a scavenger hunt, tours of the train caboose in the front and even a train ride around McCall Park. From 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. there will be live music. Attendees also will be able to purchase barbecue, hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch. Money raised will benefit the museum. A dedication ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., to rename the depot in honor of R.W. Willaford. A railroad enthusiast and former railroad employee, Willaford spent decades growing his collection of memorabilia. Last fall, he donated much of his collection to the city. Appraised

Courtesy photo

R.W. Willaford and his wife, Felice, threw Easter and Christmas parties for Plant City children at their home. at $220,000, the collection includes a 1963 red caboose, signal lights from crossings, benches Willaford made out of steel wheels and wood pallets and different types of carts and service vehicles among other things. There are about 27 items in the collection. The caboose had been anchored in his front yard for years. Every year, Willaford and his wife, Felice, threw Easter and Christmas parties for children. The dedication also will include a presentation of all those involved including C.J. Bridges Railroad Contractor, Brewington’s Towing Service, Wetherington Tractor Service, CSX and Sims Crane & Equipment along with many other Railfest sponsors. Commissioner Mike Sparkman helped spearhead the train viewing platform, located on the south side of the depot. “We’re real excited about it,” Sparkman said. “We’ve spent a full year to get this up and going.” Like Folkston’s platform, Plant City’s will have a scan-

FAST FACTS • The Plant City Union Depot was built by both the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railroads. • Even after the merger of the two railroads into the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in 1967, Plant City Union Depot continued to operate until 1971. • As an important element in the early development of the city, which depended so heavily on railroad transportation, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1975. Source: PlantCityGov.com

ner to hear the transmissions between trains. Both platforms also have restored depots. However, Plant City’s version features a 14-foot tower, in addition to the lower deck platform. About 25 trains come through Plant City every day. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

KINDERGARTEN ROUND UP Plant City-area parents with children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall should attend the Kindergarten Round Up event at the school to which they are districted. For complete times and dates for each school, visit PlantCityObserver.com. To register, parents must bring the following: • Birth certificate • Social Security card (if

available) • Florida Physical HRS form supplied by physician. Physical must be dated after Aug. 19, 2013. • Florida Immunization Record on HRS hard card (form No. 680 supplied by physician) • Two forms of verification of address/student resident form (utility bill, lease or contract to purchase)


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observed: police chief’s termination

MY VIEW

How we handled this story ‘Meet me at the coffee shop’ There are journalists who long biased because we didn’t publish for stories like this. They seek the details about the affair bethem out, yearn for them, like fore they were confirmed by city some sort of junkie dying for the officials. next fix. “(Because) everyone in town And when Plant City Police knows the reason, why won’t Chief Steven Singletary was (you) publish it?” the reader suspended last week chided. “You can put without much of an exdisclaimers on it, but I find planation from city ofit hard to believe you will ficials, those journalists get sued over the truth. swooped into our quiet Let’s see this independent, town. They knocked on unbiased news-reporting!” the doors of private citiAnd still another was zens. They stole images particularly upset because from Facebook pages. we were reporting anyThey shoved cameras in thing at all. MICHAEL people’s faces. “It was poor reporting, ENG This week, when of course, but I was angrier investigators revealed that you were reporting it their findings regarding the at all,” the reader said to me. affair, they returned for their In the wake of ours and oththumb drives full of all the ers’ coverage of this story, I am sordid details and fled town as compelled to explain to you the fast as they could, without a care decisions we made during the in the world about what kind of last two weeks. damage their work would create. We learned of this story For the record: I loathe these nearly a week before Singletary’s kinds of stories. But, as a news suspension — including all the source, I know the Plant City details regarding the affair. At Times & Observer must cover that time — before the city made them. We have an obligation to any sort of action — like many of you to present an accurate reyou, we determined this was not flection of your hometown. That newsworthy. This was someobligation governs every decithing that needed to stay out of sion our editorial staff makes. the press, between the private Still, that doesn’t mean we parties involved. did not endure our share of That changed Friday, Jan. criticism. Some readers put us 17, when city officials placed through the ringer when we Singletary on paid suspension. didn’t reveal the reasons for SinWith that action, it now affected gletary’s suspension last week. the residents of Plant City. We Another reader claimed we were released the information the city

Plant City Times & Observer Locally Owned The Plant City Times & Observer is published by Plant City Media LLC, a joint-venture of the Tampa Bay Times and Plant City Observer LLC.

110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-A Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 704-6850 www.PlantCityObserver.com ‹&RS\ULJKW3ODQW&LW\0HGLD//& $OO5LJKWV5HVHUYHG

was willing to provide. And nothing more. If the investigation had concluded with Singletary returning to his post, then there would have been no reason to have his indiscretions published in our paper. It would have been none of our business. Unfortunately, investigators concluded Singletary abused his power as police chief and violated several code of conduct items to participate in the affair. At that point, it becomes a taxpayer issue. And, yes, it is a matter we deemed newsworthy. Even still, as you read our complete story, you will notice some differences between ours and those of other news outlets. You won’t find the sleazy details here that were made public through the investigation. We refused to publish the text messages between the parties involved. And, we did not print unnecessary details, such as children’s names or places of employment, of the families involved. For that, you will have to go elsewhere. Unlike the swarm that descended on Plant City two weeks ago, we did not high-tail it back to Tampa after we got our scoop. We live here. We shop here. We are members of this community. We love Plant City, and we take seriously our commitment to provide you with a paper that publishes its information in an accurate and responsible manner.

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Call Veronica Prostko, (813) 704-6850, or Joanna Verga, (813) 310-8767.

SEND US YOUR NEWS

We want to hear from you. Let us know about your community events, celebrations and family member achievements. To contact us, send your information via: Email: Michael Eng, meng@PlantCityObserver.com. Mail: The Plant City Observer, 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-A, Plant City, FL 33563

As I sat with my wife, Lauri, playing you start running into other people who checkers at a coffee shop here in town, I frequent the shop on a regular basis. thought about the importance of having The association between bookstores and places for people to gather. Places like these coffee shops became an American fixture help to create positive feelings of commusometime in the last century. On just about nity and provide venues for discussion. any day, the denizens of conversation, If you look on the East Coast in citbooks, school work and electronic media ies from Savannah to Boston, you find congregate close to books, coffee and other old historic places designated as people. You never know what com“the coffee house,” where various pany or great idea some of these historical figures met to discuss people form as they sit there, but it issues regarding the colonies and stands a good chance of making a American independence. These helpful contribution to someone’s sites for socializing came from life. Great Britain, and we adopted the Coffee acts as a stimulant for peocustom. Corporate America caught ple, and I view this stimulation as on, and we all know the most beneficial, with the usual thoughts famous coffee shop proliferating all of moderation in the consumption SCOTT over the country. of it. The shops where we drink this TOLER We still see some independent beverage helped our founding facoffee places operating, and it thers create the country just as they seems these run in an old American tradihelp us develop our own personal lives. tion. Our busy working lives sometimes Our milder weather this time of year in prevent us from taking time to relax in Plant City allows us to sit outside and coffee these spaces, but any time given for this houses offer this opportunity with outdoor purpose enriches life by strengthening ties seating. These spaces become our public to each other and to ourselves. Even the ac- “front porches” suited for greeting and tivity of drinking coffee becomes secondary meeting. Fresh air adds a welcoming flavor as we focus on time with people we value. to any conversation over coffee. People who like to take advantage of Sometimes, I wonder, while enjoying that time honored tradition of “getting out time in a coffee shop, just how many other of the house” seem to gravitate to these people across America do this same activspaces for time on the computer, studyity at the same time I do it. The number ing or texting on the phone. In this land probably ranges from the thousands to the of plentiful choices, the option to engage millions. This many people gathering in with others or remain alone stands as an a social space stands as a positive marker individual decision. for me that connecting to other people I include myself among the people who remains an important American priority. love to hear that “meet me at the coffee Coffee shops remind us of the freedom shop” invitation. Meeting people there of association we continue to enjoy as a means subjects to discuss, business transcountry. acted or just time together. Strengthening Scott Toler is a licensed mental health relationships and creating new ones all counselor living in Plant City. He may be become possible. If you go often enough, reached at etoler25@tampabay.rr.com.

CONTACT US The Plant City Times & Observer is published once weekly, on Thursdays. 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, 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-A. If you wish to discontinue home delivery or if you wish to suspend home delivery temporarily, call Linda Lancaster at 704-6850.

Plant City Times &

Observer General Manager/Editorial / Michael Eng, meng@PlantCityObserver.com

General Manager/Advertising / Tony Del Castillo, tdelcastillo@tampabay.com Assistant Managing Editor / Jess Eng, jeng@PlantCityObserver.com Associate Editor / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@PlantCityObserver.com Staff Writer / Justin Kline, jkline@PlantCityObserver.com Advertising Executives / Veronica Prostko, vprostko@PlantCityObserver.com; Joanna Verga, jverga@tampabay.com Circulation/Office Manager / Linda Lancaster, llancaster@PlantCityObserver.com

“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


Neighborhood R E A L E S TAT E | P L A N T C I T Y L I F E | O B I T U A R I E S | G A M E S | FA I T H | S P O RT S

PLANTCITYOBSERVER.COM

CLUB HUBBUB

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2014

2014 FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL QUEEN SCHOLARSHIP PAGEANT by Michael Eng | Editor

If your club would like to post announcements, email them to Associate Editor Amber Jurgensen, ajur gensen@plantcityobserver. com.

+ Plant City Garden Club The Plant City Garden Club will celebrate holidays through the year with its annual Flower Show. The holiday-inspired flower show “Puttin’ On the Ritz for the Holidays” takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 6, at the Walden Lake Country Club’s main dining room, 2001 Clubhouse Drive. This year, SASSI will create the Center of Interest for the show. For more information, call (813) 759-1638.

2014 court member Caitlyn Kent

New court member Kallee Cook and First Maid Lindsey English

ALL HAIL THE

QUEEN

+ Plant City Optimist Club Registration is under way for the Plant City Recreation and Parks Department/ Optimist Club Youth Soccer Program. All area youths ages 4 to18 are eligible to participate in eleven age groups (co-ed 4, co-ed 5, co-ed 6, co-ed 7, boys 8-9, girls 8-9, boys 10-11, girls 10-11, boys 12-14, girls 12-14 and co-ed 15-19). Age is determined as of June, 1, 2014 (birth certificate required). The season is played from late March through the end of May, with games mostly on Saturdays for the 4 to 11 year olds and weeknights for the older age groups. The $35 registration fee covers all expenses, including jersey and supplemental accident insurance. Registrations will be accepted through 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at the Recreation & Parks administration office, 1904 South Park Road. A registration form is available by contacting Youth Athletics Coordinator Danny Smith, dsmith@plantcitygov. com or (813) 659-4200, Ext 4313.

Madison Astin, Kelsey Fry, Ericka Lott, Maddy Keene and Jamee Townsend took the stage one final time.

Jessi Rae Varnum was crowned the 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen. She follows in the footsteps of her mother, Kay Newsome Varnum.

+ Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce The 32nd Annual Chairman’s Banquet will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at the HCC Plant City John R. Trinkle Center, 2206 E. Cherry St. During the installation of officers and directors, outgoing Chairman Jim Scott will pass the gavel to Nate Kilton, who will serve as chairman in 2014. RSVP to (813) 754-3707.

Court member Macaley Barrow

Plant City crowned its newest Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court during the 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Scholarship Program Jan. 25, at the Florida Strawberry Festival’s Grimes Family Agricultural Center. Jessi Rae Varnum, a senior at Durant High School, was crowned the 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen. She is joined by First Maid Lindsey English and court members Macalay Barrow, Kallee Cook and Caitlyn Kent. Varnum is the daughter of Scott

and Kay Newsome Varnum. At Durant, she was voted Outstanding Teen 2013 and is a member of National Honor Society, vice president of Student Government, producer of D News morning show, captain of the varsity cheerleading squad, managing editor of yearbook, member of LEO Club and student representative of Parent Teacher Student Association. She plans to attend Florida Southern College and major in sports medicine with an emphasis on physical therapy.

+ Correction Austin Bruner’s name was omitted from list of students who were recognized at the Plant City Optimist Club’s annual Youth Appreciation Ceremony. The list appeared in the Jan. 16 edition of the Plant City Times & Observer.

Amber Ham

Megan Shulmister

Emcees Al Berry and Sherrie Mueller


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FIT TO PRINT

One month in: How are you doing with your 2014 goals? It is January again — that time of the year when we often look in the mirror and make health and fitness resolutions. Enthusiasm at the beginning of the month usually runs high — but by the end of January, that enthusiasm often begins to ebb. As a fitness professional, I see this happen every year. So how do you continue to push forward and make 2014 the year you finally keep those resolutions? The answer is: Keep things fresh! Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine surveys nearly 4,000 fitness professionals worldwide, asking them what 20 fitness trends they see emerging in the fitness industry. Here, we take a look at the top 10 fitness trends for 2014 and let you know how you can employ some of them in your quest for personal fitness.

NO. 1

muscle is metabolically active tissue. A balanced program is best, but if you must choose between strength training and cardio, choose the former. And ladies: You don’t need to worry that you will look like a man if you lift weights. Our bodies do not produce the amount of testosterone required to look like that.

NO. 5

exercise and weight loss. You cannot just diet and get the results you are looking for in a healthy manner. Neither can you only work out and get those results. At every consultation I do, I tell my prospective clients this one fitness absolute: You can not out-train a bad diet. If you are eating junk, your workouts will not be as efficient as they should be. Food is fuel. Fuel your metabolism with low-octane foods, and you’ll get low octane performance. If you fuel your metabolism with clean foods, your body will become a high-performance machine. Combine clean eating with exercise and you will see results.

goes to High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training involves short bursts of very intense exercise, followed by periods of lighter is personal training. This goes exercise. From a physiological standJESSICA hand-in-hand with how to point, this is the absolute best way to TUCKER choose a fitness professional. torch calories and fat. The benefit of HIIT is that not only do you burn calois fitness programs for older adults. ries while you work out, but also you continue These days, medicine is helping to burn for up to 24 hours after you finish. Plus, you accomplish more in a shorter period of time Americans live longer. However, if you remain active as you age, you will have a tremendously than you do with steady state cardio. However, better quality of life. You are never too old to do not undertake HIIT without checking with do some form of exercise — and an educated, your physician and without the guidance of a experienced fitness professional will be able to professional. work with your physician to create a reasonable is body weight training. Sit-ups and program. push-ups are body weight exercises is functional fitness. This goes handmany people do, but there are hundreds of in-hand with fitness programs for other exercises that can be done without any older adults. These programs focus on strength, additional equipment. This trend is great for all balance and stamina required for daily activities. fitness levels, but it is especially good for beginners or those who are de-conditioned. Many gyms and trainers have group is another favorite of mine: educated training classes and options that help and experienced fitness professionmake training more affordable by allowing a als. If you go to the gym and see someone who group of people to work out together, and will looks amazing, it is tempting to try to copy their help keep you focused on the workout, rather program. If you Google “weight loss” or “diets” than chatting with each other. This is also a great online, you will find thousands of theories and option for those with a competitive spirit. plans laid out for you. Please, do not waste your on the list is yoga. Every person money or time. Fitness is an intensely personalwho is even remotely interested ized thing: What works for me won’t necessarily in health and fitness should do yoga. It chalwork for you. An educated fitness professional lenges your balance, strengthens your core and will be able to help you figure out what your body needs to reach its optimal state of fitness. A helps you relax — especially after a punishing good trainer will have attended a solid program, workout. There are many varieties you can try; Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, and will have an advanced certification. NASM, Kundalini, Sivananda and others. Do not be ACSM and NPTI are three of the best programs self-conscious in a class full of people who have out there. Always check references. been practicing yoga for years. In yoga, your is strength training. Lifting weights focus should be on yourself. should be a huge part of everyone’s Jessica Tucker is a strength and conditioning workout regimen. The benefits are huge — more coach, personal trainer, nutrition adviser and stamina and energy, and higher bone density. founder of Tampa Total Health and Fitness. For Also, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more, email her at tampatotalhealthandfitness@ more calories you will burn every day, because gmail.com.

NO. 6

NO. 7

NO. 2 NO.3

NO. 8 NO. 9

NO. 10

NO. 4


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OBSERVEROBITUARIES Frederick Dean Cowder

Frederick Dean Cowder, 45, of Plant City, died Jan. 21, 2014, in Iowa. Mr. Cowder was an avid outdoorsman, a member and assistant business agent for The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 125, where he also worked as a lineman, and was a lifelong resident of Plant City. Mr. Cowder was the beloved son of Fred and Ann McGalliard Cowder. Other survivors include his sister, Karen Cowder (Tony) Wright; and godsister, Michelle LaBarbera Olson. A funeral service was Jan. 28, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at haughtfuneralhome. com.

John Pierce Harwell

John Pierce Harwell, 79, of Plant City, died Jan. 23, 2014. Born March 18, 1934, in Plant City, he was the son of the late Pierce and Bashie Collins Harwell. Mr. Harwell served in the U.S. Navy, was a member of the Boilermakers Local 433, Tampa, and was a member of Bethany Baptist Church. Survivors include a daughter, Lois Harwell; brothers, Wm. Russell (Diane) Harwell and Grady Harwell; and sister, Jeanette (Gordon) Jacoby. He was predeceased by sister, Laverne Payson. A funeral service was Jan. 28, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, Plant City. Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome.com.

Floyd Malcolm ‘Papo’ Howard

Floyd Malcolm “Papo” Howard, 77, of Plant City, died Jan. 22, 2014. Mr. Howard was born April 15, 1936, in Tampa. He graduated in 1954, from Hillsborough High School, where he was a basketball star. He continued that legacy in 1955, after he joined the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in Germany for four years and completed his duty in 1961, at MacDill Air Force Base, winning basketball championships. Mr. Howard worked from 1962 to 1983, for the City of Tampa Fire Department, and part- and full-time for

34 years for Equifax/Choice Point. He was always the biggest fan at his grandchildren’s sporting events. After retiring, there was nothing Mr. Howard loved more than playing golf with his nephew, Jimmy, and others. He had the virtue of patience and a heart of gold. Survivors include his children, Floyd Jr., Pam Abella (David), Greg (Kris), Sandy Liess (Bo) and Christina; his devoted nephew and best friend, Jimmy Stokes (Bobbi Ann); nine grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and many other family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 55 years, Marian; grandson, David; parents, Roland and Loreeta; and all of his siblings, Margaree, James, Albert, David and Jerry. A celebration of his life took place Jan. 27, at Haught Funeral Home, Plant City. A burial will take place at 9 a.m., Feb. 17, with military honors, at Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Deputy David Anthony Abella Scholarship Fund, c/o Sandra Liess, 2602 W. Sam Allen Road, Plant City, FL. 33565. Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome.com.

The Rev. Luther Barber Keene

The Rev. Luther Barber Keene, 95, died Jan. 21, 2014. The Rev. Keene was born Aug. 9, 1918, the eldest son of 10 children born to Martin Luther and Avis Barber Keen. At age 21, he was called from the strawberry fields to preach the word of God. He was ordained on Christmas Day 1943 to preach in the Baptist Purity Association. From 1943 to 1958, his ministry was of the evangelistic order, as he traveled the roads of Florida and South and Central Georgia with his family and a canvas tent. Returning to Plant City, he became known as a carpenter and master builder. He continued his ministry and received a plaque Christmas Day 2013 to commemorate his 70th anniversary. His touch was broad, his voice a quiet one — unless he was expounding the gospel of Christ. Ever the optimist, he never met a person he couldn’t love. His legacy is secure in this world through the lives of his offspring. His service to God will be re-

warded some glorious morning, when the great book will be opened and his master will declare enter in the glories of the Lord. He was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Mildred; daughter, Wava Joyce; parents, Martin Luther and Avis Barber Keen; and seven siblings. He is survived by his sisters, Alee Murray and Vernelle Surrency; four sons, Gerald LaRue (Dale), Hollis (Linda), LaRoyce (Debby) and Travis (Julie); four daughters, Freida Poole (Frank), Yolanda Joyner (Richard), Darlene Welch (Jack) and Cheryl Ham (Allen); 18 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; four great-greatgrandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and countless adoring family members. A funeral service was held Jan. 25, at Salem Baptist Purity Church, Salem. Online condolences may be made to the family at haughtfuneralhome. com.

Martin Myles Knapp

Martin M. Knapp, 77, died Jan. 23, 2014, in Plant City. He was born on Sept. 7, 1936 to Herman and Myra (Zable) Knapp. He was married to Wilma (Richardson) Knapp, who survives. Mr. Knapp was a retired farmer. He is survived by his wife, Wilma; five sons, Mark, Craig, Brad, Bruce and Eric; one daughter, Vanessa; and two brothers, Ray and Ralph. Funeral services were Jan. 28, at Deliverance Tabernacle Church, Plant City. Burial took place at Roselawn Cemetery, in Indiana. A committal service will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 1, at Jackson Funeral Home, De Motte, Ind. Online condolences may be made to the family at wellsmemorial.com.

Julienne C. Rarick

Julienne C. Rarick, of Plant City, died Jan. 21, 2014, at her home. Born May 3, 1934, in Quebec, Canada, she was the daughter of the late Jerome Morin and the late Eliane Leclerc Morin. Julienne was a housekeeper for South Florida Baptist Hospital. Surviving are sons, Keith and Mark Rarick; daughter, Lynne West; sister, Dolores Marsh; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome.com.

FAITH MATTERS

To what do you cling in times of trouble? Listen to these awesome words ourselves faced with huge medical St. Paul records for us in Romans 8: bills. Out the window goes that little “What shall separate us from the love we’ve been able to put away, and our of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or new financial plan for the new year persecution or famine or nakedness is a flop. “Snap” goes the wire of our or danger or sword … nothing in all security. creation, will be able to separate us It’s at this point that many of us from the love of God that is in Christ begin to focus on God’s inerrant Jesus our Lord.” word. “What shall separate us from We can readily recall those events the love of Christ?” the apostle Paul that leave us feeling insecure and ap- asked. His answer is clearly implied: prehensive. There are world, national There is no one thing that can ever and local events that cause us to feel separate us from the love of Christ. that way. In the world and nationGod’s love shown in Christ, is the ally, we know that the fight sturdy cable on which we can against terrorism continues hang our need for security. even in the midst of our The beauty of the mesdraw down of troops in the sage of Christ’s love is that it Middle East. Locally, we are is meant for everyone — it’s concerned about decreasing God’s own universal care home values, lack of new with no exclusions. “God so home sales, layoffs and the loved the world that he gave increasing numbers of peohis one and only Son, so that ple in need of assistance as whoever believes in him shall THE REV. not perish but have eternal evidenced by the increased DEAN R. volume of those seeking aid life.” That means we need PFEFFER at out United Food Bank of not fear, thinking that we are Plant City. In our search for exempt from God’s love. God security, we often hang our need on loved the world — we are a part of some thin wires. that world! At times, we hang the need for Another important point of Christ’s security on the thin wire of our love is that His love is unchanging. health. Some of you have that verti“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, cal, zipper-like scar that runs down today and forever.” There is no panic your chest. You are living proof that thinking that his love is limited or will we really are only a heartbeat away disappear at some future time. As the from death. A blood clot smaller song goes, “Jesus loves me this I know then a pea, if lodged in the wrong / For the Bible tells me so …” place, can suddenly turn our speech Additionally, Christ’s love is unconinto a slur and reduce our fast steps ditional. “While we were still sinners, to a shuffle. Christ died for us.” We can reject the There are too many in America love Christ, but we can never destroy who hang the need for security on it. His love is always there for us sinthe thin wire of possessions. In the ners, offering us forgiveness and life, mad dash for more and better, we as well as the security that we long have convinced ourselves that life for and need in our lives. does consist in the abundance of our It is a comfort for us to know that possessions — that contentment is our security is where it has always not limited to food and clothing — been — Christ’s love is our security. that the birds of the air don’t know Nothing in all creation can separate what they’re missing without all our you from the love of God that is in creature comforts. Christ Jesus our Lord. Let this word of Along the way, many folks have God — and His love for you in Christ racked up huge credit card debts, Jesus — ring loud and clear in your enslaving themselves to the things hearts and minds each day. of this world and live paycheck to The Rev. Dean R. Pfeffer is the sepaycheck. Then, all of a sudden, nior pastor at Hope Lutheran Church, comes a layoff or company restrucPlant City. For more, email him at turing. Or, without warning, we find hopepcpastor@gmail.com.


Sports

YOUTH | HIGH SCHOOL | GOLF | COMMUNITY | TENNIS

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Freshman Lacey Hargrove closes first season on high note. 12 SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM

PLANTCITYOBSERVER.COM

SIDELINES CHEERLEADING

+ Strawberry Crest collects hardware It only took five days for Strawberry Crest’s cheerleaders to win two titles. On Jan. 21, they went to Durant High School and won their second Western Conference title. Then, on Jan. 25, they traveled to Freedom High School and took home the Regionals Title. Next up, the team will travel Jan. 31, to Orlando, to compete in states.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2014

two of a kind by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Dual Lewises lead standout program Strawberry Crest High School’s basketball program boasts two of the top teams in Hillsborough County. For the architects of the five-year-old program, Andre and La’Tosha Lewis, this has been a dream season. Andre and La’Tosha Lewis aren’t married — or even related. They’re just two basketball coaches who happened upon the same school at the same time. Now, they do just about everything together. “You could say that’s my brother, at work,” La’Tosha says. “We’re real close.” They teach P.E. and driver’s education at Strawberry Crest High School, and also coach the girls flag football team. But their biggest suc-

cesses lie with the school’s basketball program. Together, they’ve created some of the top boys and girls teams in the area. Both Chargers teams appear to be playoff-bound this season, with the girls already going through the district tournament and the boys currently preparing for theirs. Their philosophies are similar — team chemistry and dedication to meeting goals is the foundation — but their on-court approaches differ somewhat.

Much like the Lewises, who have similar coaching styles but took different roads to get to this point.

A COACH AT ALL LEVELS

In La’Tosha Lewis’s case, it didn’t take long for her to realize that she wanted to be a coach. A three-sport athlete in Houston, Lewis earned a four-year basketball scholarship to Stephen F. Austin University and, while playing

SEE COACHES / PAGE 12

BSYWS`f

WHAT’S ON KLINE’S MIND?

FROM THE

BASKETBALL

+ Kids compete at annual Tri-Star Plant City youth competed in the Optimist Club’s 41st Tri-Star Basketball Skills Contest Jan. 25, at Tomlin Middle School. Kids from different age groups participated in three events — dribbling, passing and shooting drills. Thirteen-year-old Mackenzie Steele’s 177 total points was the highest total of the competition, and 11-year-old Gavin Hessler’s 165 was the highest score among all boys. Here are the winners from each age group: Age 8 Girls: Gracie Edgemon (61) Age 8 Boys: Jay Jaylen (143) Age 9 Girls: Harley Hatfield (37) Age 9 Boys: Trenton Herring (145) Age 10 Girls: Jayna Romera (76) Age 10 Boys: Patrick Connelly (123) Age 11 Girls: Kayla Swinson (127) Age 11 Boys: Gavin Hessler (165) Age 12 Boys: Sam Heysek (126) Age 13 Girls: Mackenzie Steele (177) Age 13 Boys: Matt Simpson (157)

BASEBALL/ SOFTBALL

+ Antioch sign-ups will end soon There are two days left for anyone who wishes to sign up for Antioch Little League baseball or softball. Boys and girls ages 4 to 18 can sign up at league headquarters from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31. Antioch Little League is based at 8510 Franklin St. For more, email Donna Skeens at antiochllpcfl@aol. com.

On getting struck out by a girl

PITCH

TO THE

YOUNG GUN by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Plant City High School freshman Drew Knotts not only shined on the soccer team but also became the 2014 Junior Royalty Queen Jan. 11. If there’s one thing Drew Knotts is grateful for, it’s that her pageant dresses have to be long ones. They hide all of the bruises on her legs that come from playing soccer. Some of her games have happened while she was active on the Plant City pageant circuit. This year, in particular, already has been a good one for Knotts in both areas: She was crowned queen of the Junior Royalty Pageant on Jan. 11, and finished soccer season Jan. 23 with 10 goals in 15 games. Although she loves donning a dress and strutting her stuff on-stage, Knotts was born to be an athlete.

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

“Ever since she could walk, she could run,” Jeanne Knotts, Drew’s mother, says. And ever since Knotts could run, she could run fast. Although some boys gave her a hard time for having a “boy” name, she developed a reputation for running faster than all of them when she was in elementary school. This, in turn, led to her earning a reputation for running faster than all of their fathers at her brother’s baseball games. She started playing sports at 4 years old and tried several of them: basketball, flag football, gymnastics, tennis, soccer, softball and swimming. As a runner, she felt soccer was the best fit. “All those other sports were fun, but I really loved soccer,” Knotts says.

Junior Royalty Queen Drew Knotts always has excelled in sports.

She tried out for the Plant City Lancers club team at 9 years old and remained with the club until it merged with Lakeland’s club team last year. After leaving the Lancers, she tried out for the Brandon Flames and made the Elite Clubs National League 14 and under team — one of only two programs in Florida. This involved regular outof-state travel, taking her as far away as Virginia and Texas. Last year, she tried for Plant City High School’s team and made the cut, joining many of the girls with whom she had played with on other teams, and the Lady Raiders’ strong senior core.

SEE KNOTTS / PAGE 13

Justin Kline

It only took La’Tosha and Andre Lewis five seasons to create something out of nothing.

REGIONALS RECAP

Plant City hosted Seminole on Jan. 23, and many expected the Lady Raiders’ high-powered attack to take the team to states. But, it was not meant to be. Seminole took advantage of a slow Plant City start and went ahead, 1-0, going into the second half. Stephanie Galloway tied the game at 1-1 after the water break, and Jennifer Ruiz put the Lady Raiders ahead shortly afterward. But, the Lady Warhawks quickly answered by converting on a corner kick and a free kick.

When I took this job in September 2013, one of the first things that Matt Mauney told me during training was about this great video idea he had but never got around to doing. He filled me in on the story of Durant High’s Chelsea Baker, known as the “Knuckleball Princess,” and said taking an at-bat against her would make for a cool video someday. Matt and I are both big baseball guys, above everything else, but he has much more playing expeJUSTIN rience than I KLINE — I didn’t play on an organized team throughout high school, middle school or any of that. No matter, though — I’m totally cool with being struck out by someone who was once on HBO. As it turns out, this video idea is as old as the Observer itself: It was one of the first ideas brought to the table for the Sports section in 2012. It just never came to fruition. But, hey — that set up a fun 30 minutes of filming earlier this week. I was pretty stoked on Monday, when I made a stop at Snellgrove’s for lunch before going to the office, and the weather was nice. But, because we can’t always have nice things in Florida, I looked out of my office window three hours later and it was raining. No bueno. Then again, all we had to worry about were the balls getting waterlogged after pitching. I didn’t go to Mike E. Sansone Park expecting to get a hit, in any direction, so a wet diamond wasn’t a problem. We both got to the park at 5:30 p.m., with just enough daylight for clear footage — and just enough cloud cover to where I couldn’t blame my whiffs on the sun’s glare. Chelsea started warming up on

SEE KLINE / PAGE 13


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COACHES / PAGE 11 the 1-4 positions, became the team’s captain. This helped her get an idea of what she wanted to do with her future. “The coach always put me in a position to lead,� Lewis says. “I started coaching there right after I graduated.� Lewis played some semi-pro ball, mostly as a small forward, but focused largely on coaching after graduation. She spent nine years in the college ranks, coming to Florida in 1999 to take a position as UCF’s recruiting coordinator. After coaching an AAU team in 2003, she made her way to Plant City to work as a supervisor for the MLK Recreation Center. Opportunity arose in 2009, when Strawberry Crest first

opened its doors. Lewis took a job as an assistant coach but was promoted when the original head coach left the school in November. The promotion made her the head coach of a team for the first time. “It was exciting,� Lewis says. “I was always torn between whether I wanted to come to high school or not. It was a challenge for me, but exciting — new school, no expectations, and I got to build the program.�

BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY

A true Georgia boy, Lewis played positions 1-3 over four years at Westover High School in the early 1990s. Notably, Lewis and his teammates won four consecutive AAA state championships from 1990 to 1993.

He played college hoops at Western Kentucky University for a while before transferring to Southeastern Louisiana University. His pro career took him to the Continental Basketball Association for a year and then overseas, to Luxembourg, Germany. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Lewis felt that he needed to go back to America immediately. This brought him to Tampa, and he got his start in coaching in 2003, as a Blake High School assistant. He was hired in 2006 to coach Tampa Bay Tech’s junior varsity team and in 2007, took the head job at Hillsborough High School. Strawberry Crest wasn’t his first rebuilding project.

SEE COACHES / PAGE 13

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM

LACEY HARGROVE Plant City’s core is very young — two sophomores, and a freshman. That freshman, Lacey Hargrove, had herself a solid week to close out the school’s best season since 2007: Hargrove’s 13 points led her team in a 36-32 loss to Riverview, and she scored 16 to help the Lady Raiders beat Durant, 50-42, Jan. 27. Tell me about the Durant game. As a team, we worked hard. Without my team, I couldn’t make the shots. I scored 16 points, all because of their help. What was working for you? I would read the defense — if they were slacking off, if they would get too lazy, I would make a move. I would drive on them. I guess they got tired or something. And when they put pressure on me, I just passed it out, and we got the shot off.

inspiration for playing basketball? I’m motivated, because as a kid, I had a coach tell me I wasn’t going to be anything. That just motivated me to be better. I wanted to show him that I could be the best, and now he sees me a lot now, and he’s like, ‘Oh, you’ve improved!’�

What are you hoping to accomplish next year? Sometimes, when we win games, we don’t feel like we have to play as hard the next game. We need to work harder. In the offseason, I want to work on my shot a little bit. I’m working on keeping my arm straight, so that I can make more shots.

Do you have any favorite basketball players? Michael Jordan. He showed me to never give up — he didn’t make it in one of his high school years. He motivated me to keep pushing so I could become what I want to become. That’s a player in the WNBA. What are some of your hobbies outside of basketball? I like tennis, but I’m not very good at it. I used to run track and play soccer. Every school sport for middle school. I like to exercise and keep my shape up for when I come back to basketball. I watch YouTube videos to make my handles better.

What’s your

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COACHES / PAGE 12

KNOTTS / PAGE 11

“Leaving Hillsborough was bittersweet,” Lewis says. “We had just built the team up to a 21-9 record, the district title, and everyone was coming back.” But, he made his decision to move to Plant City to grow closer to a program. While at Hillsborough, Lewis taught P.E. at Sulfur Springs Elementary; moving to Crest meant that Lewis would get to work at the high school, which is what he had really wante. “Every year, we got better,” he says.

“It’s scary, as a freshman, to come in with a bunch of seniors,” Knotts says. “But, they were so nice to me. They treated me really well.” Finishing in the top four in team scoring will help any freshman get some respect from the older kids, too. And Knotts, the only non-senior to score at least 10 goals, did it while missing almost an entire month of action. “I played in the King game (Dec. 5), and was diagnosed with mono the next week,” Knotts says. “I missed the next four games.” With the winter break, that put her out of action until the Jan. 3 Viking Tournament at Lakeland Christian School. In their only game, a 6-1 loss to the host, Knotts scored the team’s only goal after a feed from Stephanie Galloway. Other than illness, the only other thing that can keep Knotts out of a game is a pageant appearance.

FUTURE PLANS

Expectations are high for both teams, and both Lewises are ready for any challenge. The Lady Chargers currently are hosting the district tournament, with the championship game scheduled for tonight. “The goal is to win the championship at home, since we’re hosting,” La’Tosha says. The boys don’t begin district tournament play until next week, but many think that they will face East Bay in the championship game. Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobserver. com.

FAMILY TRADITION

Knotts has Plant City roots that go back four generations. Her mother was Jeanne Redman before she married Andrew Knotts — and some of these roots can be traced to

KLINE / PAGE 11 the mound, with no catcher. She placed everything in the center of the big mat below the foul ball fence, and each throw ended with a loud thud, not unlike a bass drum. We were on a Little League field, where the kids don’t ever throw that hard — so, naturally, about 25 to 30 of them came over to see what was happening. I wasn’t expecting a crowd to watch us but, on that note, I don’t know what I was expecting by shooting this video at the same time those kids are going to practice. I liked to think that four years of playing softball with my fraternity in a sororitysponsored tournament helped me play in front of crowds, so that’s where I pictured myself. It was even easier when one kid made fun of my Adrian Beltre-esque swing. Just like my brothers did in college! But my problem was the fact that, instead of facing a Sigma Chi on the mound and taking an underhanded softball to left field, I was facing someone who once struck out Kevin Millar on national television. She recently returned from a

the Florida Strawberry Festival queen pageant. Her grandmother, Ruby Jean Redman, won the pageant in 1953. Her cousin, Chelsea Bowden, won in 2012. Her mother, Jeanne, also once competed for the crown. So, getting Drew involved in Plant City pageants was only natural. She got a plethora of help from her family members, who coached her with her public speaking, confidence and all the skills she needed to wow the judges. After her attempt at winning Junior Royalty Baroness was unsuccessful, she won Duchess at 9 years old. She also won the title of First Maid in Little Miss Plant City that year, thanks in part to a speech about beating those boys in those elementary school footraces. She won Princess in 2011, at age 12, and aimed to take the Queen’s crown this year. The only catch was that this year’s Junior Royalty Pageant happened on the night of the first game of the soccer district tournament. “We had three girls from the team make the top five in the Queen division,” Knotts says. “We had to miss the first district game, but we’re glad we didn’t miss it for nothing.” The other Lady Raiders who

weeklong baseball exodus in Boca Raton, playing in exhibition games; I played a pretty intense game of wiffle ball in Winter Haven last week and had, like, 12 RBI, or something. I took the first strike looking, just to get a feel for what I’d be going up against. I swung on the second pitch, which broke a lot later than I had expected, and missed by about a mile. It was at this point that I first thought to myself, “I will freak out if I even make contact.” Chelsea threw a few pitches outside, hoping that I’d chase, but I wasn’t trying to make a complete fool of myself on camera. It might have been my greatest-ever display of patience in the batter’s box: All I wanted was something up the middle, even though I knew I’d be fooled and swing late. A few pitches later (we planned on keeping a traditional strike counter, but that went out the window), I did make contact. But, I hit one of the laces or something — the top of the ball just grazed the barrel of my bat on its way to the wall. That was cool. I wanted more and vowed

competed were runner-up Deanna Rodriguez and court member Ariel Navarette. “My favorite thing about these pageants is getting to meet new people,” Knotts says. “You don’t really get to sit next to people that you know, in these pageants, so you get to talk to new people.” Next up on her list will be the high school’s Calendar Girls competition and the Florida Strawberry Festival pageant, which she hopes to compete in as a junior or senior. After all, somebody has to keep the family tradition going.

OFFSEASON PLANS

With time off from Lady Raiders soccer and the pageant circuit, Knotts plans to play more soccer and keep as busy as she can. When she’s not with her family, going to cousins’ houses for dinner during the week and enjoying a big group lunch on Sundays, Knotts is active in the youth group at Plant City’s First Baptist Church. She enjoys helping those who are less fortunate and even did so in Haiti last summer. “We worked with kids in an orphanage, and they were so sweet,” Knotts says. “They just loved you and wanted you to pick them up.”

to swing on the next pitch, even if she would have thrown it far to the outside. And then, bam! I got a hit! And I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot to look for the ball. “It’s right behind you, over there,” Rod Mason, Chelsea’s father, told me. A foul ball. Whatever! I made contact and the ball went somewhere, so I was content. I took a few more swings just to see if I could make anything else happen, but it wasn’t my lucky day. She did try to encourage me from the mound, telling me I’d hit the next pitch, but that was just her being nice. There are a few reasons why I decided to write about baseball for a living rather than try to become the next David Eckstein, and my inability to hit the breaking ball is one of them. So, young men of Plant City, listen to me right now: Do not make fun of a friend by saying that he throws like a girl, because girls can strike you out, too. PLANTCITYOBSERVER.COM // Go on-

line to see a video of Justin at bat.

Knotts and her church group visited the country on a missions trip, but she couldn’t pass up on the chance to play soccer when it arose. “I’ve never seen kids that could play soccer so well in my life,” she says. These talented kids chose Knotts for their team in a pick-up game against the rest of the church group. It was about as unfair as Spain playing the U.S. men’s team,

but everyone still had fun. To keep her game up, Knotts will keep playing with the Flames and travel to Fort Worth, Texas, next month to play in a college showcase. It’ll take her mind off of the loss to Seminole in the regional tournament, but Knotts has little to worry about: She has three years left, and her career just got off to a great start. Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobserver.com.


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PLANT CITY

RAIN

(INCHES)

0.01

THURS.

TEMPERATURES

Jan. 23

0.01

FRI.

0.00

SAT.

Jan. 25

0.00 0.00

MON.

Jan. 27

0.18

TUES.

Jan. 28

0.01

JAN.

TO DATE

1.01 (2013: 0.21)

YEAR

TO DATE 0.82 (2013: 0.21)

HIGH 58 79 83 83 84 82 81

Thurs., Jan. 30 Fri., Jan. 31 Sat., Feb. 1 Sun., Feb. 2 Mon., Feb. 3 Tues., Feb. 4 Wed., Feb. 5

Jan. 24

SUN.

, 3&

WEATHER

WED.

Jan. 22

Jan. 26

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SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES Thurs., Jan. 30 Fri., Jan. 31 Sat., Feb. 1 Sun., Feb. 2 Mon., Feb. 3 Tues., Feb. 4 Wed., Feb. 5

SUNRISE 7:17 a.m. 7:16 a.m. 7:16 a.m. 7:15 a.m. 7:15 a.m. 7:14 a.m. 7:14 a.m.

SUNSET 6:07 p.m. 6:07 p.m. 6:08 p.m. 6:09 p.m. 6:10 p.m. 6:11 p.m. 6:11 p.m.

LOW 52 61 64 63 63 66 62

Cheryl Boles took this photo in her grandfather’s garden. She calls it, “End of the Season.” The Plant City Times & Observer, State Farm Insurance agent Tony Lee and The Corner Store have partnered to host the I Love Plant City Photo Contest. Winners will have their photo featured and receive a $10 gift certificate to The Corner Store! To enter, email your photo, along with a caption, to Editor Michael Eng, meng@ plantcityobserver. com; subject line: I Love Plant City. Winners can pick up their prize at The Corner Store.

MOON PHASES

Feb. 6

Feb. 14

STRAWBERRY PRICES CENTRAL FLORIDA Feb. 22

PRODUCT LOW HIGH 8 1-pound containers $12.90 $15.90 Statistics courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

Jan. 30

JUST FACE IT

By Richard Auer | Edited by Timothy E. Parker ACROSS 1 Neutral vowel sound 6 Cutting the mustard 10 Vegas casino razed in 1996 15 Bit for Fido 18 The Ram, astrologically 19 Alex Haley miniseries 21 Send a message, in a way 22 Charles the Grammy winner 23 Shell out far more than one had hoped 26 Econ. measure for a country 27 Ugly duckling’s mother 28 Primitive dwellings 29 Feels poorly 30 Mammal fur 32 E.T. crafts 34 Floor measure 35 Tigers and tabbies 36 Ringo on the drums 39 Opposite of good 42 Cravings 44 From Oslo 45 Words before date and record 46 Aspirin target, sometimes 50 Police datum 52 Infamous emperor 54 Canary, for one 55 Deep, as a voice 56 Carnaval site 57 Certain toast 62 Fuzz-covered fruit 64 Have regrets 65 Small child 66 Coffee additive 67 Panamanian, e.g. 74 Lampoon 77 Worthless cloth 78 Make a boo-boo 79 Bambi’s dad, e.g.

83 90 91 92 93 94 96 99 101 102 105 106 107 110 112 114 115 116 118 122 123 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134

One way to be forgiving “Much ___ About Nothing” Cambridgeshire isle Word on a sale sign, often “If the ___ fits ...” Fixture for home mixologists Pertaining to the feel of a surface Islamic religious leader Puppies’ cries Between the wings Kosovo peacekeeping group Give great pleasure to Felon on provisional release It’s made to be broken, proverbially Without a stitch on Woody vines “The Postman Always Rings Twice” character Common gifts for dads Indian butter “To the max” suffix Evict forcefully Pub drink “Masterpiece Theatre” host Alistair Clear a frosted windshield Zoroastrian sect member ___ Plaines, Ill. One who’s quite a feller? Rigged out; dressed Smacked, in Scripture

DOWN 1 Easy dupes

SUDOKU PACIFIC Complete the grid so that every row, column and 3x3 box contains every digit from 1 to 9 inclusively.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 20 24 25 31 33 34 35 36 37 38 40 41 43 47 48 49 51 53 54 58 59 60

Stick in one’s ___ (cause resentment) Informal greeting Mother’s stand-in A silent butler may hold it Builds a fire under Pugilistic affair Captain Kirk’s records Ordinal number ender Inscribed stone markers Beards growing on farms? Hero of “The Matrix” Western villain Prepared, as for a daunting task Bach’s music maker Chain of mountains Does clerical work Play the lead It’s between pi and sigma Went in haste “Web Therapy” actress Kudrow Baked this morning It’s a real eye-opener Intensely hot Lewis Carroll creature Decorative gateway in Japan Archer’s weapon Plywood layer Urban additions? Ankle-knee connector Horsefly Georgetown player Decorative pitcher Sea eagle Power failures Small amount of food It can be monotonous Funny DeLuise Olympic-jacket letters

© 2013 Universal Uclick

61 63 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 80 81 82 84

Enters a race Clicked-on item Immature salamander Aesthetically pretentious “Di-dah” lead-in Warm up, as leftovers Hothead’s emotion Ship’s employees Proofreader’s “leave it” Cry like a baby African antelope Raga rhythm-maker Cope with change Prickly highland plant Lawn-game item

85 86 87 88 89 95 97 98 100 103 104 107

Growing out Earthenware crock River that starts in the Swiss Alps Prolonged unconsciousness ___ up (excited) Pre-text communique Cel character Open, as a gate Having deep pockets Farmer, essentially Prefix with bond or dollar Say “Not guilty”

108 109 111 113 115 116 117 119 120 121 124 125 126

Usher’s post Fixed prices Praise Agency that entertains GIs Soda nickname Labor strenuously Machu Picchu native Villain’s opposite Word that used to precede Germany HOMES component Sudoku component PI Alternative to FedEx

C RY P T O G R A M S 1. OPFH WCZFY OPWE SKCXEXKH PF OKQUY UXZF KM TF WTUF EK YK, PF CWXY PF EPKQAPE PF OKQUY TF W AKKY RXE RKM MFSUWNXHA EPF NFK. 2 . E AQ X R AQ J X R Q M H J Q E Q M I D Q L R J Y X Q S A J L O M J B Z M N J X R Q M Q L R J X R AQ OY L J R J Y X , AQ E Z L M Q Z S N E J R A R AQ L Q I D Q L R J Y X L Y W A J L Y E X : R J B Q Y W W ? G Y X D L Q L ? H Z F Z R J Y X L ? AQ Z C R A F C D G ?


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01.30.14 Plant City Times & Observer  

01.30.14 Plant City Times & Observer

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