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You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.

FREE • thursday, MARCH 7, 2013




Plant City filmmaker premiers short.

Plant City Chamber revved up for annual show.

The Observer welcomes our new columnist.





2013 Florida Strawberry Festival

by the Observer Staff

Courtesy of the Florida Strawberry Festival Courtesy photos

+ Duo to perform at Bailey Acoustic Shop Bill and Maggie Anderson will bring their unique blend of bluegrass, gospel and old-time country music to Plant City this week. The duo will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. March 8, at Bailey Acoustic Shop, 104 West Reynolds Street, Suite 6, Plant City. The Andersons will bring a traditional music duet with guitar and dobro — story songs, bluegrass, gospel and recently written music in the acoustic tradition. They have years of experience performing in a variety of venues from festivals, coffee houses, churches and more. You may have seen Bill and Maggie on the PBS show “Song of the Mountains.” For more information, call (813) 390-4796.

Scenes from our Masterpiece From eating contests and parades to concerts and, of course, strawberries, the 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival has taken over Plant City.

Mary Helen Dellapa, Christy Linke, homeowners Carol Ann and Margie Menefee, Patricia Wolff, Rhoda Kessler, Phyllis Nead and Margaret Rodwell

For more coverage, see page 8 or visit

+ Garden club presents award The Plant City Garden Club presented its February Beautification Award to Margie Menefee, 91, and her daughter, Carole Ann. “When the committee walked toward the house, our eyes are dazzled by all the colors in



by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Burglars strike widower’s home Less than a year after his wife died in an ATV accident, Mike Nester arrived home to discover burglars had stolen the family safe. It was early when Mike Nester got up Feb. 22. As a single parent, he wakes at 6 a.m. every morning to get his four children up and ready to go to his stepmother’s house, while he goes to work in construction at CF Industries. Nester lost his wife, Angela, known as Angel, July 7, 2012, after an ATV accident. She was just 33 years old. On this particular day, rain canceled work. So at about 10 a.m., he returned to his home near Youman’s Praise and Worship Center off U.S. 92. Within seconds of returning home, he knew something was wrong. First, he saw the kitchen light was on and thought maybe one of his kids left it on. But when he went into the living room to take his boots off, he discovered the entertainment center was turned over. He rushed to the back bedroom to check on the family safe and his guns. They were gone. “They got it all,” Nester said. The burglars stole about $10,000 in items, including 12 guns, four silver bars and — most importantly —  Angel’s wedding ring set. “It’s all just material stuff,” Nester said. “But the stuff that they stole from the kids really bothers me. You can’t replace that.” Nester was planning to give the wedding set to his daughter. The set is unique and would be spotted easily in a pawn store. His ring features the Lord’s Prayer engraved on the side. Angel’s is white gold with rose gold on the side. The guns —  hunting rifles — most likely would be sold indi-


INDEX Cops Corner...........3

Vol. 1, No. 35 | One section

Crossword........... 15

Obituaries........... 11

Sports................. 12

Plant city observer

OUR TOWN/PAGE 1 Margie’s gardens,” says Cassandra Banning. “Talking with Margie, you feel her passion for flowers and the home she has lived in since 1943.” The porch swing invites guests to sit down and take in all the colors. On both sides are pots of yellow and red crown of thorns. The garden is edged in red and white petunias. There is a lighthouse housing succulents and driftwood with air plants. Pots of Ti plants, many varieties of cactus and succulents — agave, bromeliads and purple salvia, orange ground orchids — are in full bloom, as well as the red hibiscus and red roses. The American flag flies hight, and Margie Menefee is proud to say the Veterans Association

BURGLARY/PAGE 1 vidually and not through pawn shops. The family is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest. Nester believes the burglar is someone he knows, because the suspect(s) bypassed the TVs, electronics and cameras in the house and went straight for the valuables in the bedroom. At about 9 a.m. the day of the theft, Nester’s father-in-law saw a black truck and a black car in Nester’s yard but thought the cars may have belonged to visiting friends. “I’m not out to get anyone or revenge, but I just want my ring set back, so I can give it to my daughter,” Nester said. In addition to the lost items, Nester said the burglary has im-

installed it in honor of her late husband, John, a U.S. Marine.

+ Observer launches Classifieds section The Plant City Observer will begin publishing our Classified and Service Directory sections next week. In these sections, you’ll be able to to advertise your business, yard sale, real-estate listing and home goods in Plant City’s only locally owned community newspaper. Also, if your “for sale” item is less than $200, your ad is free. To advertise, please call our Classifieds department at 1-877308-5642. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Deadline is noon Tuesdays for Thursday publication. For more, see page 15.


The family is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s) involved. If you have information, please call the Plant City Police Department, (813) 757-9200.

pacted him mentally and emotionally. “I feel vulnerable as an only parent knowing someone was in my house,” Nester said. “And now, the kids are scared all the time. They don’t want to go into the house alone or go out to the laundry room outside.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.


from here to there

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Plant City Chamber revved up for annual transportation event A variety of classic and exotic cars, large model train sets and dozens of remote controlled and full-sized airplanes will be on display. Whether you enjoy examining the intricacies of a model train set, watching planes soar through the air or checking out some dream cars, Plant City’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles has something to offer enthusiasts of all modes of transportation. For the third consecutive year, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event, in conjunction with the Plant City Airport and Tampa International Airport. This year’s event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at Plant City Airport, 4009 Airport Road. After drawing about 2,500 people its inaugural year, the event doubled last spring, and chamber President Marion Smith expects an even larger crowd this year. “We hope to continue to see it grow,” Smith said. “This is just a great event for the entire family.” That’s something chamber board member and event chairperson Jason Jones set out to do when organizing the event for the first time three years ago. “This is a free event, and especially the way the economy is, this is an affordable and fun thing to do,” Jones said. “We like to think that everyone, young and old, will enjoy something at the event.” According to Jones, more than 100 remote-controlled planes of all sizes are expected. Those

planes will be flown by their owners throughout the day, with the large planes flying between 10 to 11 a.m. “The big ones require a runway to take off,” Jones said. Several full-sized planes — from antique to military — also will be on display, including a T-6, a single-engine training aircraft that was used during World War II. “Everyone seems very excited about seeing that one,” Jones said. For the train lovers, a large scale model train set will be on display from CSX Railroad along with the Henry B. Plant Railroad Society. “The kids always love watching the train display,” Smith said. For the auto enthusiasts, there will be plenty to take in as well, with a display that will feature both classic and exotic models. “We usually have a few of the cars lined up around one of the planes, so it makes for an interesting display,” Jones said. There will be plenty of activities for children, including a kids clinic sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement. A flight simulator will let guests experience the thrill of piloting an aircraft, and 150 children and teens, on a firstcome first-serve basis, will have the opportunity to experience a free flight in one of the planes. The Plant City Police K-9 Unit and Plant City Fire and Rescue

PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 23 WHERE: Plant City Airport; 4009 Airport Road DETAILS: A collection of displays, including classic and exotic cars, remote controlled and full-sized airplanes and model train sets. The Plant City Police K-9 Unit and Plant City Fire and Rescue also will be hosting presentations. Flight demonstrations and free flights for the first 150 children are also available. COST: Free; $5 for parking

also will host demonstrations, along with members of the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office. For the past two years, the event has allowed local and surrounding area Boy Scout troops to earn aviation badges. That tradition will continue this year, along with offering the chance to earn a search and rescue badge, thanks to the presentations from the police and fire departments. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.




Thursday, March 7, 2013

business  By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Labor shortage leaves fruit behind A number of factors contribute to the shortage of labor experienced by strawberry farmers. In recent years, those lamenting the economy have sung a similar tune: No jobs. However, since Ted Campbell took the helm as president of the Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association four years ago, he’s experienced the opposite problem: A labor shortage has left unpicked fruit to spoil in the sun. And this year is no exception. “What you see is a constraint of labor supply at the border, public settlements with workers, a lot of them undocumented, and local domestic workers not willing to do the job,” Campbell said. Campbell said these factors create a labor shortage. Moreover, the price of strawberries falls around this time of the year, partly because other crops, in-

cluding blueberries, are beginning to come in season. This leaves strawberry farmers with an surplus of the fruit. This year and last year’s prices “have been the worst ever,” Campbell said. But one factor that doesn’t seem to cause this labor shortage is the pay. He estimates pickers can make $11 to $15 per hour. Jeremy Burris, vice president of sales and sourcing for Colorful Harvest, agrees. His pickers can pick about 100 flats a day. At $2 per flat, pickers can potentially make $30,000 to $40,000 during the five-month season. Like Campbell, Burris attributes the labor shortage to the same factors, including a tightening of the borders. He also adds the migrant pop-

ulation is aging, because there are more options for children who are born in the U.S. to migrant parents. Stateside, Colorful Harvest has farms in Florida and California. But it also runs an operation in Mexico, because there is labor readily available. “There’s a sad thing about it, but we have to go down there,” Burris said. “We’re not looking for illegal workers. But what we want is a solution.” That solution could be in the form of H2A, a temporary agricultural program that allows employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the country to perform agricultural labor or ser-

vices of a temporary or seasonal nature. Employers must provide free housing to all workers who are not local and any transportation to and from the farm site. Employers also have must workers’ compensation insurance for all workers and pay the higher of either the adverse effect wage rate or the state prevailing wage rate. The application packet includes a list of forms and notification 60 to 75 days before the date of need for workers. Burris likes the idea of a program such as the H2A but said it is time-consuming and has many regulations. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

action!  By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Local director premiers film Charles Box Jr. already has been to the internationally acclaimed Cannes Film Festival, in France. Now, the Plant City native is gearing up for a return trip, this time, with his short film, “Welcome to the South.” Box wrote, produced, directed and narrated the 15-minute film, which follows single mother Tyretha as she tries to raise her two sons, Tyrell and Tyran, in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in the south, nicknamed “The Itty Bitty.” “Her challenges lie with raising her kids and keeping them on the straight and narrow path,” Box said. “Many of the obstacles they face deal with peer pressure as a teen and wanting things Tyrell doesn’t have. Instead of working hard to get those things, he goes out and takes the things he doesn’t have the wrong way.” Box’s inspiration for the story came from the Plant City neighborhood in which he grew up. Unlike many of his friends, Box had strong male figures, a father and uncle, in his life to lead him in the right direction. But he saw some of his friends make bad decisions, which led them down a different, rougher path. After graduating in 2007, from Plant City High School, Box joined the U.S. Marines. He was stationed in Southern California and saw the same pattern happening in neighborhoods there, as well. “It didn’t matter where kids were from, this is a good story they can all relate to,” Box said. After serving for five years in the military, Box traveled but wanted a stable job. While helping his friend look for a job in the communications field, he read descriptions about work, and the writing aspect of many positions caught his eye. “I thought, ‘I could do this,’” Box said. He enrolled at California State University, in San Bernandino, and in 2004, graduated with a degree in mass communications. He continued to study at Chapman University, and in 2007, earned his master’s degree in film, with an emphasis in scriptwriting.

‘Welcome to the South’ was shot almost entirely in Plant City.

Courtesy of MailBox Productions

Filmmaker Charles Box said his newest film is inspired by his upbringing in Plant City. During his time in school, he worked on 20 to 25 different projects, including award shows, reality shows and TV pilots. But when his father had a heart attack after Box’s graduation, he had to make a decision. “If I stay in (California), would I regret never going back home?” Box said. “This was my father’s second heart attack.” So, Box came back to Plant City with his son, Charles Box III. Although he moved away from a promising career in the entertainment industry, Box said there is a silver lining. “I’m thankful that I can make films my own way,” Box said. “I can be creative. In California, I’d be working for the machine, 60 hours a week, for someone else’s vision.” Box started “Welcome to the South” in December 2011. About 85% of the film was shot in Plant City, including the Housing Authority on Alabama Street and a convenience store known locally as The Lot, at the corner of Alabama and Maryland streets.

WELCOME TO THE SOUTH For more information on the film, visit welcometothesouthmovie.

It took six to eight months of pre-production work, scouting locations and hiring actors. “The police were great with helping us get permits,” Box said. “And the ladies at the Housing Authority were awesome, too.” Post-production editing and promotion took another eight to nine months. Through all the preparation and wrap up, the film was shot in only one week. As anyone in the film business knows, nothing goes according to plan. And even though it only took one week to shoot, there were a host of obstacles to overcome. Transportation problems were always an issue. Actors dropped out at the last minute. And during takes, Box’s production assistant would search for replacement actors online, pull-

ing up their reels and sharing them with Box. There were even security issues: A location they were supposed to use was the scene of a drive-by shooting the week before. But through all the drama, the film prevailed. “Welcome to the South” premiered at the 18th annual Valencia Film Celebration Feb. 23, in Orlando. “The film was really well received by the audience,” Box said. “Just listening to the audience, they laughed when they were suppose to laugh, and the applause showed me they got it.” Box hopes to host a premier in Plant City and wants to do more writing, producing and directing. “I just want to help bring awareness with this film as a platform for kids to express themselves through a muse in their own way.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.


real estate 

By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Builder relaunches Walden Reserve Ryan Homes recently purchased the remaining 20 lots in the Plant City community. It hopes to complete the project by the end of the year. With a new builder and a revised rezoning, residents hope 2013 will be a good year for Walden Reserve. NVR-owned Ryan Homes recently purchased the remaining 31 lots of the 52-lot subdivision, located the north side of West Trapnell Road. And now, after obtaining Plant City Commission approval to allow a larger home on each lot, the Virginia-based builder expects to develop the rest of the lots by the end of the year. Commissioners approved in February the rezoning, which allows for an additional 5 feet of building envelope and changes the front yard setback from 25 to 20 feet. “Originally, the lots ... were for one-story homes,” Steve Witmer, sales representative for Ryan Homes, said. “But, we wanted to build two-story homes.” Ryan Homes currently is building its model home on Lot 2. The builder will offer four different floor plans in the Plant City community, starting from the high $100,000s. Sizes range from the three-bedroom, 2,043-square-foot Bonita Springs to the four-bedroom, 3,087-square-foot Sebring. Ryan Homes representatives worked with existing Walden Reserve residents to gain support for the community’s new direction. “Before they could just build a tall big block, which is not wellsuited for the custom style,” resident Jeremy Burris said. “We’re really excited about it. We have a great neighborhood and a great community. I think everyone is going to embrace Ryan Homes.” The Walden Reserve subdivision was platted and rezoned from Hillsborough County AS-1 to Plant City R-1A in 2005. Building began in 2006, but since then, only 20 homes had been sold. Ryan Homes is now taking information to reserve a lot and home. For more, call (855) 697-8475. Contact Amber Jurgensen at

THE MODELS Bonita Springs SIZE: 2,043 square feet CONFIGURATION: Three bedroom, two bath, two-car garage Sandpiper Point SIZE: 2,324 square feet CONFIGURATION: Four bedroom, two bath, two-car garage Palmetto Grove SIZE: 2,444 square feet CONFIGURATION: four bedroom, bonus room, two-and-one-half bath, two-car garage Sebring SIZE: 3,087 square feet CONFIGURATION: Four bedroom, two-and-one-half bath, study, bonus room, two-car garage



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cops Corner Survivors lace up for Sole Sisters 5K ON YOUR MARK  By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor


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

FEB. 13 FENCE FIEND 2500 block of Turkey Creek Road. Grand Theft. Unknown suspect(s) entered the fenced compound on the west side of the business and stole 10 rolls of chain-link fence and 150 fence poles, valued at $2,100.

WORK RELATIONS 2700 block of Turkey Creek Road. Assault with a Waiver of Prosecution. The suspect and the victim both worked at the same company. The victim told his supervisors that on two separate occasions, the suspect threatened to shoot him. The company’s human resources manager wanted officers to stand by, while the suspect was terminated and trespassed.

FEB. 19 QUICK STRIKE 1400 block of East Church Street. Vehicle Burglary. The victim left her Ford truck unlocked in the roadway for about 30 minutes. She returned and discovered that unknown suspect(s) had stolen her purse, m o n e y, driver’s license and miscellaneous papers, with an

approximate total value of $300.

GIVE THAT MAN A RAISE 2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft/Resist a Merchant/Battery to Loss Prevention. The suspect was approached by a loss-prevention employee for retail theft of a television. The suspect pushed and attempted to choke the employee and ran from the store. He was chased by the store employee across James L. Redman Parkway, where he was detained by the employee until officers arrived on scene.

JEWELRY HEIST 1900 block of Cedar Run Court. Theft. The suspect stole two rings, with a total value of $8,000, from the victim’s residence. The suspect gave the rings to a witness for money that was owed.

FEB. 20 TOOLS TAKEN 4720 block of Westwide Drive. Grand Theft. Unknown person(s) stole a Jetter blower and other tools, valued at about $6,000, from the home.

EXPENSIVE EDUCATION 2700 block of Spring Meadow Drive. Vehicle Burglaries. Unknown suspect(s) entered an unlocked Dodge van and VW Passat. The suspect(s) stole a GPS, college books and other miscellaneous items, valued at about $300.

Plant City Relay for Life honorary survivors Angie Rollyson and Autumn Parrish are hosting a benefit run March 23. Sisters Angie Rollyson and Autumn Parrish are coming out of their starting blocks in full force. The women — the honorary survivors for this year’s Plant City Relay for Life — are organizing the first Sole Sisters 5K as a benefit for the annual American Cancer Society event. The 5K will take place at 8 a.m. March 23, at the Walden Lake Polo Field. The event also will feature a Stroller Walk, which begins at 8:15 a.m. Registration is $25 and includes a T-shirt. All kids who cross the finish line will receive a medal. If the kids are dressed like runners, they also will receive a special prize. “We wanted to do a really good fundraiser for this year, so I thought it’d be fun to put together a 5K,” Rollyson said. In 2012, Rollyson and Parrish were diagnosed with cancer just months apart. Last April, Parrish awoke with swollen lumps in her neck. She was diagnosed days later with lymphoma. The day after Parrish discovered her swollen nymph nodes, her grandmother, Martha Hodge, was hospitalized with ovarian cancer. Then, in August, Rollyson discovered she had thyroid cancer. Still, the family remains resilient. They have formed the Sole Sisters Relay for Life team to fight for those still battling cancer. “Hopefully, we’ll have a really good turnout,” Rollyson said. “We have so far. We’re really looking

Amber Jurgensen

Angie Rollyson and Autumn Parrish hope to host the 5K annually. forward to it and hoping to do it as our fundraiser for our team year after year.” All of the proceeds from the Sole Sister 5K will benefit the American Cancer Society. The goal for this year’s Relay for Life event is to raise $274,000. That was the goal last year, but inclement weather caused the relay to stop around midnight, just halfway through the event. Still, Plant City residents managed to raise $263,000 for cancer research, the third largest amount in Florida last year. “It should be a really fun event,” Rollyson said. “We’re hoping to really raise a lot of money to donate to the American Cancer Society.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

SOLE SISTERS 5K WHEN: 8 a.m. March 23; Stroller Roll starts at 8:15 a.m. WHERE: Walden Lake Polo Field COST: $25, includes T-shirt REGISTRATION: solesisters5k. CONTACT: solesisters5k@yahoo. com. Include your T-shirt size and questions FACEBOOK: SoleSisters.PC

RELAY FOR LIFE WHEN: 6 p.m. April 19 WHERE: Plant City High School, 1 Raider Place THEME: Curing Cancer is Sweet CONTACT: Joanie, 713-8876

We are here for you and your family.

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“Banking on a First Name Basis”




RHYTHM-MAKERS By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Amber Jurgensen

Ollis Greaves started the Vanquish drumline last year. The group performs in a variety of competitions and other events.

Plant City-based drumline rolls with volunteer support Vanquish was among the featured performers at this year’s Florida Strawberry Festival Grand Parade. Ollis Greaves was tired of hearing, “No.” As a band member at Plant City High School, the students wanted to start a drumline, but the administration killed the idea. When he graduated and got a job at the high school to teach percussion, he wanted to start a drumline for the students, but again, the school denied him. So, Greaves went out on his own and to strike up his own band. Last year, he unveiled Vanquish. “Vanquish means to overcome or overpower,” Greaves said. “We were told we couldn’t do something on our own to stand out. I wanted to give kids the opportunity to do something they wouldn’t be able to.” Vanquish currently boasts about 20 student musicians. Since it started, the group has performed in five competitions, a parade last year and two grand openings for McDonalds. Last week, Vanquish performed as part of the Florida Strawberry Festival’s Grand Parade. “It’s always an honor for us to do something,” Greaves said. “It’s such a blessing.” The group practices twice a week when preparing for parades and competitions. “Practice is always a good time,” Greaves said. “We’re like family. Some of these students I’ve taught since middle school.” There is no cost to join the group, but students must provide their own instrument and pay for competitions. The group does participate in fundraising and sponsorship activities. And although there are no age requirements for those who join the group, some exist at competitions. Greaves has played the tuba, trombone and baritone, in addition to many percus-

VANQUISH For more information on Vanquish contact Ollis Greaves at (813) 900-4773 or email him at vanquishdrumcorps@ Find the group on Facebook at

sion instruments, including the bass, tenor and snare drums and the xylophone. “I’ve always had a passion for music,” Greaves said. “It’s always been a big part of my life. I got into it in school and then band and it basically took over.” Greaves’ friend, Christopher Wetherington, helped him get together all the paperwork and insurance to start Vanquish. “It was not as hard as we thought it would be,” Greaves said about starting the group. “We anticipated it would be hard, but once it came together, it went smoothly.” George Russell, band director of Marshall Middle School, and Ian Peacock, of Plant City High School, also have been instrumental in launching Vanquish. Russell lends the group instruments on occasion and allows them to practice at Marshall. Other friends also help, including Carol Weathersbee, who helps with the uniforms, Rebecca and David Delph, Jenise Freeland, Mitch Boles and sponsors David Shulmister, Jeff Waller and Cross Pest Control. “This has been something that was always on my mind, and I wanted to reach out to students in other aspects,” Greaves said. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@

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16 Years Experience




health matters By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Plant City adds fluoride to water supply March 1 was the first day Plant City has ever had fluoride added to the water supply.

Amber Jurgensen

Isaac Bostic, shift manager, will check on the system twice during each of his 12-hour shifts. Health to identify areas in the region that didn’t have fluoride in their water supply. She received the grant and a matching amount from Dr. Douglas Holt, of the Hillsborough County Health Department. With funds in-hand, Pesce identified Plant City as an area that needed fluoridation. Plant City received a $386,000 grant from the state and the supplemental grant from the Hillsborough County Health Department to jumpstart the project. “This is an important day,” Terry Buckenheimer, the presidentelect of the Florida Dental Asso-

ciation, said. “It gets expensive, but it’s one of those things that’s going to help the citizens of Plant City.” Sparkman agreed. “Our kids, our youth, our babies will benefit,” Sparkman said. “This generation might not get the benefits, but the next will. As times get tougher, those who can’t afford dental care will be able to benefit and grow up with healthier teeth.” According to the Florida Department of Health, 76.7% of people served by community water systems receive optimally fluoridated water, reaching 69.5% of

But not all have supported it. Plant City resident Jeff Wallnofer is worried about adverse health effects it could have on him and his three daughters. “From what I have read, it causes serious, long-term health problems (such as) bone cancer and negatively affects the pineal gland. I am no expert on the subject, but I have read a fair amount.” Wallnofer pointed to a recently published Harvard University study funded by the National Institutes of Health that concluded children who live in areas with highly fluoridated water have “significantly lower” IQ scores than those who live in low fluoride areas. “A lot of people just accept fluoride, but, when chemicals are in our water, we should know what they do and how they affect us long-term,” Wallnofer said.

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Around 2009, Karen Pesce, a registered nurse and executive director of More Health, in Tampa, applied for the Closing the Gap grant, which would help bring educational programs to children on dental health. Furthermore, the grant also would allow More


A precision chemical feed system has been installed at each of the city’s four water plants at Alexander Street, National Guard Drive, Cherry Street and Commerce Street. The drinking water supply comes from four wells, which are each 700 to 1,000 feet deep. The material added to provide fluoridation is manufactured from fluorspar mineral deposits mined in Spain, specifically for use as a drinking water additive. The material is added directly to the well water and mixed before water reaches the tanks. The Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended level of fluoride is .7 parts per million. The amount of ground fluoride found naturally in the city’s supply is .32 parts per million and now, the city adds .38 parts per million. A touchscreen control panel is located at every site to monitor the measurements. There are also safety measures at each water plant to watch for over-pressurization and water flow, so no more than the specified amount of fluoride goes into the water. “There’s no way of actually putting more fluoride into the supply than actually needed,” shift manager Isaac Bostic said. Bostic and other shift managers will check on the control panels and chemical feed systems twice during their 12-hour shifts. In addition to Plant City, Pinellas County also started adding fluoride into its supply March 1. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

r d a y b a n r s a h b GFWC Woman’s Club oF Plant City

baRnyaRD basH a Fundraiser for Education

Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 4 p.m. 5230 Berry Patch Road (off Jerry Smith Rd.)

Chicken Bar-B-Q Dinner

Live Music • Line Dancing Lessons • Cake Walk Horseshoes • Cow Paddy Toss • “Dogie” Roping • Costume Parade

Donation $20 per person

For Tickets or Information Please Call: Peggy (813) 752-7905 or Pat (813) 754-9816



Florida’s population. Fluoride is used to prevent tooth decay and cavities in children. “Fluoride is a smart strategy,” Kim Herremans, a dental health consultant with the Hillsborough County Health Department, said. “Water with fluoride is really about overall health. “Everyone has been openminded and willing to explore this together,” Herremans said. “It’s really been community support.”


It’s been three years since the Hillsborough County Health Department approached the Plant City Commission about adding fluoride to the municipal water supply. Fluoride finally began flowing into Plant City’s water March 1. About 13,000 households now receive fluoridated water. “Over the last few years, we were beginning to wonder if this day was ever going to happen,” Mayor Mike Sparkman said to a crowd that gathered at the strawberry water tower off Cherry Street to celebrate the new fluoride water system. Sparkman always had been interested in adding fluoride to the water supply. He had read an article years ago that said there was a trend in military recruits from the Springhead area that had healthier teeth. After a study, the military attributed the difference to a higher amount of natural fluoride in the water. Until now, funding a fluoridation project in Plant City had been the primary barrier.





“They saved my husband’s life.”

Billy P., a real patient of South Florida Baptist Hospital

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Plant city observer




“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

Founding Publisher / Felix Haynes Managing Editor / Michael Eng,

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam spoke at the Farm Credit Strawberry Salute Breakfast March 4.

Gaby Klammer and Gilisa Rivas enjoyed the Youth Parade March 2.

Grand Parade Marshal Pat Pogue

Assistant Managing Editor / Jess Eng, Associate Editors / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@; (Sports) Matt Mauney, mmauney@PlantCityObserver. com Advertising Executives / Veronica Prostko, vprostko@PlantCityObserver. com; Ronda Kyler, rkyler@ Advertising Coordinator / Linda Lancaster, Accounting Manager / Petra Kirkland,

Carl Black served plenty of strawberry shortcakes at the East Hillsborough Historical Society tent.

Advertising-Production Operations Manager / Kathy Payne, kpayne@ Advertising-Production Coordinator / Brooke Schultheis, bschultheis@ Advertising Graphic Designers / Peter Carlson, pcarlson@yourobserver. com; Monica DiMattei, mdimattei@; Marjorie Holloway,; Luis Trujillo,; Chris Stolz,

Blacksmith Lewis Riggleman demonstrated some pioneer skills. Left: Teammates Fred Tippett and Marg Strong won the fried corn on the cob eating contest.


The Plant City Observer is published once weekly, on Thursdays. It provides free home delivery to several neighborhoods in Plant City. The Plant City 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.

 

The Kathleen High School Marching Band, of Lakeland, performed in the Youth Parade.

Karen Young, Andrella Weisnicht and Helen Kallies were the first people in line when the festival opened Feb. 28. This is the fifth festival for the Wisconsin natives.

Regions Bank VP Gail Lyons

The Leos Clubs from Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest brought some circus-style fun to the Grand Parade.

Although she was asleep for the competition, Rowen Morgan won best StrawberryThemed Diaper with her diaper that smelled like Plant City’s most famous crop.

TO ADVERTISE Call Veronica Prostko or Ronda Kyler at 704-6850.


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, Mail: The Plant City Observer, 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100A, Plant City, FL 33563

The Jump! Ultimate Dog Show is one of the new additions to the festival.

The Plant City Observer LLC Locally Owned

Publisher of the Plant City Observer and

President / Felix Haynes Directors / Nate Kilton, Ed Verner, Matt Walsh

110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100A Plant City, Fla. 813-704-6850 ©Copyright Plant City Observer LLC 2012 All Rights Reserved

2013 Strawberry Queen Kelsey Fry polka-danced with Lawrence Lucier, of Sheridan, Mich., at the Jimmy Sturr concert.

Emma Grace Mandikas was all smiles for the Baby Contest.




There is no place like home In 1939, a film was released by MGM that became an American classic. It introduced the amazing world of Technicolor characters — yet the story of “The Wizard of Oz” is best summed up with these words, “There’s no place like home.” After 20-plus years of serving our nation in the U.S. Army, these words become more than a movie quote — they are a passion of my heart. As this is my first of what I hope to be many columns for the Plant City Observer, allow me to unpack the quote as it relates to my life and the life of my family. I grew up in Plant City with my twin sister, Debbie, older brother, Michael, parents, Lloyd and Mary Ann Middlebrooks, and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins. I attended Berea Baptist Church on State Road 39. As a mater of fact, I was in church nine months before I was born — meaning I have always been in church. This is important, because my parents knew and believed that a strong faith foundation would help us as kids weather the storms that would CHAPLAIN RET. come in life. MAJ. DANIEL During my educational years of TrapMIDDLEBROOKS nell Elementary, Glover, Turkey Creek Middle School, Plant City High School and Hillsborough Community College, I realized I had a desire to serve my nation. Both my dad and brother served in the U.S. Army National Guard here in Plant City, so the steps toward the military were familiar ones. I left May 25, 1987, for Fort Jackson, S.C., and began my service as a soldier with a laundry list of addresses to follow. It was after my Advanced Individual Training in April 1988 that I came home to marry the incredible love of my life, Arienne. Although that will be a story for another time, let’s just say I married “up!” Throughout the years to come, we would add to our family — Erica, was born in 1993, in New Orleans, La., and Allison in 1998, at Fort Campbell, Ky. In 1991, I surrendered to the call of the ministry and switched from physical therapy to becoming an Army chaplain. During the last 20 years, I have had the great honor to walk with and watch over our nation’s greatest treasures — the sons and daughters and moms and dads who answered the call to protect our nation with everything at their disposal, including their own lives. This is where I take you back to the opening statement, “There’s no place like home.” I have traveled the world and have seen many things, met many people and experienced both happy and sad moments. But, the love for home never left. It is interesting to me that, as a young kid, I could not wait to get away from home. However, once I experienced the trials, tests and tragedies of life, I spent the rest of my years waiting to come back home. “There’s no place like home!” I now return home with a deep desire to walk with and watch over the very community that raised me, loved me, prayed for me and supported me throughout all the years of military service. The buildings of Plant City have changed. Homes and roads have been added, business have come, but the community’s heart still continues to beat out the cadence that makes Plant City what it is to others, to me and to my daughters — home. Let me end with a funny thing my daughter said to me when we moved back. “Dad, are we kin to everyone here?” I smiled and said, “No, just half of them.” But actually, we are all kin, because Plant City is a family, and it is a blessing to finally be back home with you again. Chaplain Ret. Maj. Daniel Middlebrooks is president and CEO of Comprehensive Chaplaincy Care and Consulting. For more information, call (813) 767-2082 or email to

NEWSBRIEFS + Myrle Henry to receive Heritage Award Plant City Photo Archives and History Center President Ed Verner announced the selection of J. Myrle Henry to receive the coveted Heritage Award, the organization’s highest award. Henry has been affiliated with local historical organizations for many years and has served as director and president of the East Hillsborough Historical Society. Henry is a 1956 honor graduate of Plant City High School, where he received the American Legion Award. He received a Food Fair Stores Foundation Scholarship and a Hillsborough County Pharmaceutical Auxiliary scholarship and attended the University of Florida, graduating in 1961, with a pharmacy degree. An active member of the Plant City community, Henry is a trustee of South Florida Baptist Hospital; a deacon of Plant City’s First Baptist Church; and a trustee of Evangelical University and Seminary. He is also the founder and past president of Baptist Towers of Plant City and the Plant City Living Center.

Henry is the founder of the Florida Opry and of the Strawberry Classic Car Show. He also has served as president of the Plant City Downtown Business and Merchants Association; director and treasurer of the East Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce; a member of the Chamber’s Economic Development Council; a member of the Hillsborough County Citizen Advisory Committee; a longtime member of the East Hillsborough Historical Society; president of the Lions Club; Grand Lion of Florida Lions Foundation for the Blind; Melvin Jones Fellow of Lions International; past chairman of the Plant City branch American Cancer Society; past president of the Hillsborough County Pharmacy Association; and a member of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy National Advisory Board. The Heritage Award was established in 2004 to honor a citizen for his or her efforts to preserve the history and heritage of the greater Plant City community.

+ Six injured in weekend crash Six people were injured when a car


flipped March 2, while traveling westbound on Interstate 4. According to Florida Highway Patrol reports, at about 2:47 p.m. March 2, Rachel Ann-Marie Wallace, 19, of Mulberry, was traveling westbound in a 2000 Kia Sportage when the left rear tire blew. The vehicle traveled into the center median and overturned, crossed over the center guardrail and came to final rest overturned on the center median. Two passengers were ejected from the vehicle. Wallace and Donnell R. Smith, 1, both were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Four other passengers — Madeline Dyonne Florance, 18; Donnell Smith, 18; Jesse Woods III, 16; and Jabari Woods, 15 — all were taken to Tampa General Hospital.

+ Hearing Center to offer free phones Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center distributes phones at no cost to qualified Florida residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind or speech impaired. If you meet the requirements, the phone is loaned to you for as long as you need it, at no charge. The organization will offer these phones from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 11, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. Mclendon St., Plant City. For more information, call (863) 686-3189.

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Edwin E. “Buddy” Cook, 78, of Plant City, died Feb. 24. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joyce; daughters, Cheryl Redman (Larri), Vicki Kennedy (John) and Lori Smith (Troy); six grandchildren, Nichole, Terry, Jessie, Nick, Jake and Damian; five great-grandchildren, Dylan, Sydney, Hannah, Savannah and Caleb; two sisters, Jenny Green and Liz Gibbs (Jack); and sister-inlaw, Sandy Cook. He was preceded in death by one brother, Ray Cook; and brother-inlaw, James Green. Interment at Hebron Cemetery, Lithia. Online condolences may be made at

Carmen Lynne Walker Hutto

Carmen Lynne Walker Hutto, 63, of Plant City, died Feb. 24. She was a member of East Thonotosassa Baptist Church. She is survived by her mother, Marjorie Ann Walker; children, Andrea L. Cooper (Jeff) and Troy J. Harrell (Beverly); grandchildren, Austin Wheeler, Ceara Cooper, Lakin Harrell, Baylie Harrell, Crystal Cooper, Tina Hill, Blake Faulkner, Krystin Kilpatrick and Austin Pevehouse; great-grandchildren, Halie Hill, Eli Hill, Caileigh Kilpatrick and Colton Kilpatrick; brothers L.A. Walker, David Walker, Donnie Walker and Buddy Walker; and best friend Wanda Mieshbuhler. She was preceded in death by her father, Hewey Lee Walker. Interment at Oaklawn Cemetery, Plant City. Online condolences may be made at

Teresa Scott Johns

Teresa Scott Johns, 55, died Feb. 25, at her sister’s home. She was born Aug. 25, 1957, in Tampa, to James P. and Anna May (Moyd) Scott. She is survived by husband of 16 years, Earl Lee Johns. Mrs. Johns worked most of life as a dock foreman from Walden Sparkmans Packing House. She loved to go fishing with her husband of 16 years, Earl Lee Johns. Survivors include her husband, Earl; two daughters, Erica JohnsCrenshaw and Brandi Johns; two brothers, James Scott, Vernon Scott; three sisters, Virginia Hargis, Cheryl Carisle and Lynn Scott; four grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Interment at Turkey Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, Plant City. Online condolences may be made at

Daniel W Seitz

Daniel W Seitz, 37, of Plant City, died March 2, surrounded by loved ones, after a seven-month battle with an aggressive cancer. Born June 21, 1975, in Prince George County, Md., he was the son of Raymond Seitz and Cheryl Barnett Seitz. He was the husband of Kimberly Cole. He had a passion for people, traveling, great conversation and family. He was an avid Redskins fan and loved karaoke. He is survived by his grandmother, Alice S. Barnett of Watertown, Conn.; father, Raymond W. Seitz Sr. (Sandra); his loving wife, Kimberly; daughter, Ashley, of Plant City; his

siblings, Douglas Barnett (Denise), of Monroe, Conn., Dorthea Repko, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Raymond W. Seitz Jr. (Lisa), of Longwood; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, family and friends. Dan was preceded in death by his mother, Cheryl A. Seitz; and his grandfather, James A. Barnett Sr. A funeral service will be at 7 p.m. March 7, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, 708 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The family will receive friends for one hour prior at the funeral home. Online condolences may be made at


Lamar Sessoms

Lamar Sessoms, 67, of Plant City, died peacefully Feb. 27 at home, surrounded by many members of his family. Mr. Sessoms was a longtime resident of Plant City. He worked for Lykes/Pasco and Alumax, until he became disabled. He is survived by his loving wife, Susan; son, Bryan; brother, Trenton; sister, Linda Southern; and an abundance of family and friends, including 41 nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son, David; and brother, James. Memorial services will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. March 9, at Turkey Creek Church of God, 5312 Turkey Creek Road. For more information, contact Haught Funeral Home, (813) 717-9300.

SONS OF ANARCHY. Haught Funeral Home owner David Wolf shared his favorite hometown newspaper with “Sons of Anarchy” star Ryan Hurst, better known as Opie. Snap a photo of you with the paper at your destination of choice and email it to Managing Editor Michael Eng, Make sure you include your full name and where the photo was taken.

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| H I G H SCH O O L | G O L F | S E N I O RS | C O M M U N I T Y | T EThursday, N N I S March 7, 2013

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Megan Reed verbally commits to Florida. 15


field of dreams

show me the mauney

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Area teams to compete in Saladino Tournament

Corny challenge accepted When I decided to participate in the fried corn eating contest at this year’s Florida Strawberry Festival, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve been fascinated with competitive eating since I was a preteen. I remember the first time I saw the famous Nathan’s Coney Island hotdog eating contest, and in 2001, witnessed Japan’s Takeru Kobyashi begin his reign of dominance at the annual Fourth of July event. He won six times in a row before his world-record and title streak was broken in 2007, when American Joey Chestnut devoured 68 hot dogs and buns. MATT I’ve always MAUNEY wondered what it would be like to compete in one of these competitions, but I’m not exactly what you would call a “natural.” Even though I have a similar thin frame as Kobyashi and Chestnut, my stomach and appetite are nowhere close. Growing up, I was a very picky eater. I was the kid who would rather have a salad or a plate full of broccoli than a greasy cheeseburger. Although my metabolism is off the charts — I can eat a meal and be hungry an hour later — my stomach may be the size of a peanut. This obviously isn’t a good attribute to help catapult a competitive-eating career. Regardless, I’ve always wanted to give it try. That opportunity came at the 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival. There were four eating contests available: fried corn, corn dog, strawberry shortcake and strawberry mashed potato pie. Corn dogs were out. I knew I wouldn’t be able to gut a bunch of breading. I ruled out strawberry mashed potato pie, because honestly, I still have no clue what that is. Finally, I selected my choice by ruling out shortcakes, simply because (get ready to gasp), I despise sweets. I do, however, enjoy the occasional fresh strawberry. So fried corn it was. I have nothing against corn. I enjoy it sweet, creamed or on a cob, but I had never tried it fried. I showed up to the Stingray


Plant City, Durant and Strawberry Crest all will compete in the county’s prestigious baseball tournament, which celebrates its 33rd year.

kilts and stones

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Matt Mauney

Eric Barber practices at Veterans Memorial Park, in Tampa. He will compete March 16 and 17, at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival.


Strongman Plant City resident Eric Barber has been competitng in Highland games competitions for six seasons. Eric Barber isn’t your typical weightlifter. Instead of the benchpress or dumbbell curls, he prefers to toss a sheaf and a caber — and all while wearing a kilt. “I guess you can say I like to throw trees for fun,” said Barber, 40, a Plant City native. Barber, president of the Art

Lounge and Gallery in Historic Downtown Plant City, has been competing in Highland games competitions for six years. “I’ve always been big on my Celtic heritage,” Barber said about his interest in the Scottish-based sporting events. “All four of my grandparents are of Scott decent of some sort.”

Barber participated in football, soccer and wrestling growing up and took to martial arts after high school. Looking for something to stay active later in life, he found the perfect sport while visiting a Celtic festival in Palmetto. “I ended up talking to some of the athletes and made a couple phone calls and, within a month, I was competing,” he said.


Held annually in Scotland and other countries around the world, Highland games include a variety of events that combine strength, skill and endurance. The games are perhaps best known for the caber toss, where athletes balance a long tapered pole in their hands, rested against their shoulder and throw it, end over end, after a running start. The throws are then mea-


Reading off some of the names that have played in the annual Saladino Baseball Tournament is like reading the list of a MLB All-Star team. Carl Everett, Luis Gonzalez, Dwight Gooden, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield and Plant City High’s own Kenny Rogers are just a few of the former Major Leaguers to play in the high school baseball tournament, held annually in Hillsborough County. Players at all three area schools will have that opportunity during their spring break, when they compete against the best the county has to offer in the week-long classic that will celebrate its 33rd year. “Most of our coaches here at Durant played in it,” said Cougars head coach Butch Valdes. “You get to see a lot of teams that we wouldn’t usually get to see during the school year, but at the same time, we see some familiar district teams and go head-to-head. It’s a nice tournament that showcases everybody.” Valdes played in the tournament with Jefferson and is now in his fifth year as head coach of the Cougars, following several years as an assistant at Durant. The team has participated in Saladino all of those years and Valdes won backto-back tournament championships as an assistant at Bloomingdale with his brother, Mike, as a standout pitcher. “It’s a great tradition,” Valdes said. Valdes’ top player, Tyler Danish, will have the opportunity to show off his skills against some of the best in the Tampa Bay area. The University of Florida commit also is projected to go in the early rounds of this summer’s MLB draft. Danish struck out 12 and allowed just one hit in Durant’s 2-0


Saladino Tournament WHEN: March 9-15 SITES: Brandon, Jefferson, Riverview and University of Tampa will host the the opening rounds, while all games of the final tournament will be held at Brandon High School. OPENING GAMES: RobinsonStrawberry Crest 10 a.m., at Jefferson; Spoto-Durant 1 p.m., at Brandon; JeffersonPlant City 7 p.m., at Jefferson




SALADINO / FROM PAGE 11 win Feb. 26, at Alonso. Entering Tuesday’s game against Brandon, Danish has recorded four of Durant’s five wins and has struck out 39 batters in just 23 innings pitched. He also leads the team with eight RBIs and has a home run. Luke Heyer currently leads the Cougars in hits. Durant will open the tournament Saturday at 1 p.m. against Spoto at Brandon High. Plant City has been steadily discovering what kind of team they are under new head coach Mike Fryrear, a former player at Durant who was named the Saladino Defensive MVP in 2000. The Raiders were 4-2 entering Tuesday’s game with Spoto. Pitcher Kevin Long has been equally as impressive as Danish, accounting for three of Plant City’s wins, all coming in one-hitters. “He’s been pounding the zone,”

STRONGMAN / FROM PAGE 11 sured both by distance and accuracy. The smaller end that the athlete was holding should hit the ground in the 12 o’clock position. Other events include the sheaf — a 22-pound bag of rope that contestants use a pitchfork to throw for height — a heavy weight (56 pounds) throw for distance and height, a light weight (28 pounds) throw for distance, a stone put similar to the Olympic shot put, and the Scottish hammer throw, which is a 4-foot staff connected to a round metal ball that athletes spin and throw behind them. To participate in the games, all athletes must compete in all of the events. “Every event is different and

Matt Mauney

After a strong start to the season, Durant is hoping to make a run at the Saladino Tournament championship. Fryrear said. “It’s fun watching him pitch.” For Fryrear, success during Saladino comes down to hitting. “If we don’t hit, we won’t win,”

he said. “It’s as simple as that.” Pitching staffs also will be tested, because teams will be playing multiple games in a short time frame, forcing some coaches to

requires a lot of technique,” said Barber, noting the stone throw is his best event. Barber’s first event was the Zephyrhills Highland Games six years ago. Since then, he has competed in games all over the state, from the Panhandle to Ft. Lauderdale. In Florida, the typical season generally spans from January to April. “I try and make as many of the games as I can,” Barber said. The games are divided into divisions based on age and skill. Barber was recently able to compete in the masters division, which is reserved for athletes 40 and older. He came in third in the masters division at the Sarasota Highland games in February, followed by a third-place finish at the Tampa Bay Celtic Festival and Highland

Games Feb. 16, in Brandon. Barber recently had one of his best showings yet last weekend at the Highland Fling at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival. He medaled in six events, finishing second overall and had a personal best in the sheaf with a 24-foot throw. Barber is now preparing for two more competitions March 16 and 17, at that same festival.


Barber said he owned a kilt several years before getting involved with the games. It was something that represented his proud heritage. “I hear jokes every now and then and certainly get a lot of stares and snickers when I’m wearing it,” he said. “You just have to have a sense of humor

use pitchers they may not usually throw on the regular two-gamesper-week season. Plant City currently has a 0.80 team ERA, using just four pitchers. “We will be battle-tested with those four guys,” Fryrear said. “Hopefully, we can spread them out.” Long expects to get the start Saturday as the Raiders open against Jefferson, last year’s champion. The road won’t get any easier, because they will face a tough Alonso team Monday. “This tournament will measure how tough we are as a team,” Fryrear said. “We start with two of the best teams in Hillsborough County. During the preseason, we weren’t ready for those kind of games, but now, I think we’re mentally and physically ready.” For Strawberry Crest, head coach Eric Beattie hopes his

young team will take some valuable experience away from Saladino. “I want to get these younger guys some reps and have our older guys lead,” Beattie said. “So far, we’ve done a good job of that, and our pitchers have done well. We’ve been able to keep our pitch counts down.” Tanner Thompson and Corey Smith have been leaders on the mound for the Chargers, while center fielder Jeffrey Murray and Matthew Collado have both been swinging the bat well, according to Beattie. Like Valdes and Fryrear, Beattie also played in the tournament, winning the Tony Saladino scholarship in 2001 while playing for Riverview. He used the scholarship to attend the University of Tampa. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.

about it. Everybody’s got their habit or hobby, and, luckily, I’m not shy, so it doesn’t bother me in the least bit.” The type of athlete who competes in Highland games varies, but they all have one thing in common: They enjoy throwing heavy things. “There’s a lot of guys that have been doing it a lot longer than I have, but we’ll get new guys in every season that try it out,” Barber said. “We might not all look like body-builders, but a lot of people are impressed by how strong we are.” Barber said he only competes in the games for fun and enjoys building friendships with the other athletes. “Some of the people I’ve met from this are good friends now,”

he said. “It’s an interesting sport, (because) all of the athletes will help each other and give them pointers on events that they may not be particularly strong in.” Barber gets with several of these friends to practice on Sundays, at Tampa’s Veterans Memorial Park, near the State Fairgrounds. “We draw a lot of attention, sometimes,” he said. “Everyone wants to see why a bunch of guys are throwing around telephone poles.” Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com. Visit PlantCityObserver. com for an exclusive video featuring Eric Barber.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013


Michael Eng

After learning this was a team effort, I told teammate Noah Tippett, 11, that this was in the bag. I was wrong.

MAUNEY / FROM PAGE 11 Chevrolet Tent optimistic —and with a notch let out on my belt — just in case. I knew it was going to be a memorable experience. What I didn’t know were the rules. I came in expecting a reenactment of the Nathan’s competitions I’ve studied over the years. While waiting anxiously next to the stage, I saw a volunteer carry a tray of fried corn in on top of a 24-pack of bottled water. OK, that must be for just one of us, I thought. Realistically, I knew I couldn’t eat all that corn, but I sure was going to try. But, when no more corn appeared on-stage, I soon realized this was a relay competition. I was the first contestant called up and seated at the table in front of a full audience, but soon, I had two teammates behind me. The first was 11-year-old Noah Tippett, who was signed up secretly by his father, Fred. Confused by the setup and still unclear about the rules, I never even met the second person behind me. The rules were simple enough: Someone had to be seated at all times. The person behind the seated contestant must hold the wooden skewer and turn the cob for his or her partner. The seated contestants could not use their hands. Basically, this became a speed competition, which was completely different than what I had prepare for in my mind. As a track and cross-country runner in high school, I excelled in endurance tests. I’ve always had good stamina, so I figured, when it came to an eating competition, I could endure a lot of food over an extended amount of time. Instead, I had to inhale a large fried cob of corn down my gullet and then rotate to hold another cob for my partner. Needless to say, we didn’t win. While the build-up seemed like an eternity, the actual competition went by in a blink. I’m not even sure where we placed, because the competition stopped once the winning team finished eating. I was able to finish my entire cob, and Noah was well on his way of finishing his when the competition ended. He even left with another cob to fill an evergrowing 11-year-old appetite. Ironically enough, Noah’s dad, Fred, and his team won the competition. I was focused on my task at hand, but that must have been one serious display of speed eating. I took a lot away from this experience, and although I won’t be quitting my job any time soon to join the world competitive-eating circuit, it was great to get just a small taste of what Kobyashi and Chestnut experience for a living.

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This week’s Crossword answers Maron Run Headwaters Reclamation Project Active South Fort Meade Mine, Polk County


1. I’ll have to think twice before giving it a second thought. Still, if it’s a prickly issue, I will be ready to venture a third opinion. 2. This is an actual computer message alerting users to a bug: “Fatal error! the keyboard not found. Press any key to continue!” CROSS_ANS_030713


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softball By Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Durant picks up first district win in Newsome blowout

First baseman Kelli Tidwell and the rest of the Lady Cougars had a stingy defense in the shutout win over Newsome.

back, as they rolled to a 10-0 win in six innings. Paige Davis was dominant on the mound for Durant, striking out six and allowing just two hits and one walk in the completegame shutout. Davis also went 4-for-4 at the plate, with two doubles and two RBIs. Shannon Bell and Kelli Tidwell both homered in the win. The district win came after back-to-back losses to Bloomingdale and Alonso. “We dropped a couple of district games, and we made some quick adjustments, and it showed tonight,” head coach Matt Carter said. “We were hitting the ball (well) tonight and had no errors, so that’s a good thing. That’s our big thing: If we can score runs and play good defense, we should be alright.”

Kennedy Dean went 1-for-3 against Newsome.

Payton Lewis has been solid in the Lady Cougars’ infield.

The Lady Cougars handled Newsome with ease.

Head coach Matt Carter said his team’s base-running will have to improve.

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The Durant softball team picked up its first Class 8A District 7 win over Newsome March 1, at home. The Lady Cougars jumped out to an early lead and never looked

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by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor


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Megan Reed has wanted to go to the University of Florida since she was a little girl. Now as a junior in high school, the Strawberry Crest shortstop is well on her way of reaching that goal. Reed has verbally committed to play softball at Florida. She hit for nearly a .500 average as a sophomore and is off to another strong junior season. Oral commitments are non-binding, and Reed cannot formally sign a letter of intent until her senior year. In addition to Florida, what schools have shown interest in you? LSU and EKU were both looking at me, along with Florida. I always wanted to go to Florida, and my sister goes there and just got into law school there. It’s close to home, and they’re always top in the SEC and softball, in general. You play volleyball, as well. Have you always wanted to play softball in college, or was volleyball an option? Volleyball was just kind of my break from softball, because softball is pretty much year-round.

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What are some goals you have as a team? We’re very talented, individually. Everyone has their own special thing, and that makes us strong as a team, so I’d like to see us go to state.

How long have you been playing softball? Since I was 5 What about volleyball? Since sixth grade What kind of communication have you had with the Florida coaches? They can email me, but to talk on the phone, I have to call them, and they have to answer. I have to be on their cam-

deadline is Tuesdays @ noon for Thursday publication

Ask about FREE “For Sale” ads for items under $200.


You. Your Neighbors. Your Neighborhood.









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A Hand ger Resor condos. your next e views (owne them all. ss front Bob, 502-2 with granti shake ies. Track s LBK ble Starti LUX nr) 941-2 wrap-gover and Club. I t, 941-3 D beautiful view, over the dayresea ”. Big simple, of trainin aroun throug URY ANN ng 16-5255.May 2013 throug 28-34 also buy Sunris at and Gulf, d DIRE g sched h floor View at: rch nnel trainin es, perso HOUSE89. www. boats. Callor small, docum recor LIDO h tods, ules, ts withSaras ceiling sunse ota nicelyCT GULF FRON UAL Island CLASSIFI www.theph entati Dave, grant BEAC maintenanc Call John provis RENTAL May windo on andotos.s For Qual H COND light g furnis Weekly EDSboatsales.n ionwsofin atission hed,ifiedT at Beach admin e April to OMIN et E-mail:subm mugm 203-984-84 all roomsall - Mont S EXPE ChitwLP # 8712 wirele istrati place Decem s, ug.comneces RIENC garme hly - SeasoIUMS oodCharte 7 sary. Non-s ss ng ber 2013 Waiti Cont E:nt@opother 77 intern : 2BR/2BA, duties ve suppo Minim mokin act LONG nal et. ts Cruise um as assign rt for and for Clien g. Call - Sara 3 years BOAT or VA admin Hyatt Diane the 2014Available sota Resort ed. views BAYPadmin SarasotaFish or Luxu 32’/53 istrati ORT istrati Mike ry Seaso ence - wifi-M HOUSE Properties, 941-2 on and BTC-ve exper ’ Yacht 847-9 Licen Docks Rent onthly email 13-45 CLASSIFI Inc. s - 2hrs./ als62 n. scient 2BR LONGpreferred. Must rental Excep : info@saras 25-1356 ience. lent 2BA Full Servi sed Real ific resea BOAT s 813-5 . organ tional 941-383-52 Gulf front 2 month be PC otalux LP # Estate EDS ization MARC KEY, 2BR/1 Vacation ce Cond rch sonal s uryren profic41-88 al, writte.5BA, 32 56733 Broker H, 76. expericomm Home Plus omin Renta ient with Perso total $2875 requir s nalize unica n, verba ium Mana 11% ls Since & Cond on lCANA with exceltion Con ed. tax Studi d 941-388-39 profes attent for the ominiums and $100 and L. gement skills. Call Jim, The 1994 MANA signmen Oppo 25 Years Beachfron os siona $2500 to Six Roska MONT Backgcleaninterp TEE AUCT rtunity 21 - 888-3 l hones ion 941-6 mp H.Institu Expert,ience rounding erts Let us cover Emplo 50-1266. t oms Interc Bedro advice. IONS check fee, sell it Visit us 941-650-18 88-3921 yer. Excellent te PALM letter to - oasta Refer l or able. 941-5 for you. . Entire estate ER RANC 57 hr@rfd Please send is an Equal at: resor Service ences Garde Gated or one 27-6571. Delivery tproperties n ble résum H condo & Staff availa FLOR W/D, é and LIDO AB3263, and pick-u piece. gym, , Con IDA VACA Vac new carpe : 1BR/1 .pro atio BEAC dos p avail- 1BR/1tennis. 941-3 AU4284. BA, n/SeTION 9th Floor/ /Apt t/ H SPEC BAYP CONN asonal BA IN 02-06 s. paint, pool, $940/mo. ORT, Furnishin ECTIO TACU 1 Bed/1 Balcony Whitn nished www.LONG FLvac the Villag 21. For Ren GOLD Ren N LAR ey Turn-k BOAT ationconn 2BR/2 tparking, tennis gs EN tals e. Year Availa .5 Bath 60 ey Furnis GULFVIEW preferred. Beach. BA, direct KEY. Pride Lift MEDICAL ble 4/1/13 ection 941-387-97 Day Minim , lease. hed 941-565-14Small Bed, $4200 .com Chair, Gulf 09 Beau hi-speedpool, fitnes tifully Walk 941-955-89 pet. www.VRBO um 941-31059sqft $800 877-705-24 view, BEAC furto Decem 01. Non-s wirele s cente H-TO 70, Cell: new, $400/ new, $3000 .com/41900 56-1855 r, premilanai, sunde LIDO BEAC mokin /obo. decorated -BAY COND g baypo ber 2013-ss intern 60 941-879-78 obo. um cable ck, 9 H Vacat et, more condo O Free local 2 bed/2 Janua rtapt@ 84, leave s ion . Availa TV, ry 2014. bath. at Bayport. Weekly overlooking paradise. msg. beginning phone, Reserved First ble 954-4 1&2 Newly rates. beaut 76-11 1-800-734bedroom Space 317-896-23mid-May cable, wi-fi. floor, end iful Lido Lido LP Rese 37, unit. Dorse 2013. Month 3370. BEAC 34. rved t. Renta Beach. Conta HPLA Space GORG ct after ly rentals CE l condo This week EOUS 6:00 pm: . spacious LIDO 3BR, ’s Cros KEY TASTEFUL UPDATED, 2BR/2 sword Parkin COND This week g. Availa BA, fully answers O. GULF LY DECORATE 443-829-02 ble imme furnished. Beachfront, ’s Sudoku & BAY CALL D. Pool. 87, 800-9 diatel VIEW CYNT answers Garag L’AMB 50-9191. y. 6 mo. minim HIA 407-4 S. e IANCE, 92-5749 2BR/3 um. COND BA condoLONGBOAT O: 2BR/2 deck, beach KEY. BA, 270 degre on high acces Beach Bay and s. Availa on bay with 2014. e views floor with front Bob, 502-2 LBK Club. beautiful ble over the wrap-aroun day throug 16-5255.May 2013 throug view, Sunris View at: h floor to es, sunse Gulf, Saras d DIRECT HOUSE h May GULF CLASSIFI Call Johnwww.theph ceiling windo ts with light ota nicely furnis FRON EDS T at all April LP # at 203-9 otos.smugm ws in all E-mail: to Decemhed, wirele Beachplace 87127 84-8477 rooms. garme : Non-s ss nt@op mokin ber 2013 and internet. 2BR/2BA, LONG g. Call Availa BOAT for the Diane viewsBAYP 2014 Seasoble or Mike ORT BTCwifi-M HOUSE 847-913-45 n. onthly 2BR 2BA CLASSIFI LONG rentals Excep 62. BOAT tional EDS LP # MARC KEY, 2BR/1 813-541-88 Gulf front Vacation 56733 H, 76. Home Renta .5BA, total $2875Plus 11% s ls Since on Studi & Cond Call Jim, for the tax and $100CANAL. $2500 1994 Beachfron os to Six ominiums MONT 941-650-12 cleaning H. t, Interc Bedrooms fee, 66. Excellent PALM oasta ER RANC Service l or Garde 2013 Gated n H condo & Staff , W/D, FLOR IDA VACA gym, tennis : 1BR/1 new This week TION . 941-3 carpet/ paint, BA, $940/ CONN 02-0621. 1. I’ll ’s Cryp mo. www.FLvac pool, ECTIO have togram parkin N ationconn g, though to think twice answers t. Still, before 941-387-97 ection if it’s ready giving .com a prickly it a second 877-705-24 09 2. This to venture a third opinio issue, I is an 60 will be n. to a bug: actual compu ter messa Press any “Fatal error! ge alertin the key to continue!” keyboard not g users found.

Visit www.y us online at ourobs erver.c om


Edited by Timothy E. Parker


7, 2013

And wait, there’s more ...

What about individual goals? Just hit the ball hard every time. Maybe not get a hit every time, but at least hit it hard. I also want to field all of the routine balls and as many of the tough plays as I can.


, March

Items Und


X F K T T,


71 Bank’s property ACROSS claim 1 Tattle 72 Mars’ outer moon 5 Hoofbeat sound 74 Emporium 9 Daughter of Rhea 75 Devised (with 13 Repeats a secret “up”) 18 Nabisco cookie 19 Trailblazing Daniel 78 Address for King Arthur 20 Molecule building 79 Monastery block resident 21 Befitting a 82 Capp of the comics monarch 83 Uncle’s wife 22 Place for aspiring 84 Big desert of Asia novelists 85 Horsewhip 25 “___ Breath You 86 Roller in Reno Take” 87 Cultural 26 At pique’s peak? surroundings 27 Further a felon 89 Abnormal breath 28 Driving-range aid sounds 29 “A League of Their 91 Start of the Lord’s Own” actress Prayer 32 Hirer’s opposite 92 Listened, in days of 34 Garden pavilions yore 38 Attended to 94 Without worldly pressing needs? sophistication 39 Inch furtively 96 Christmas eave 40 “No doubt about decoration? it” 99 Won’t take “no” for 41 Big Apple letters an answer 42 Identifying name 100 Biscuit served with 44 Wealthy people tea 46 Sunbather’s desire 101 Skirt slit 47 Numbers to 102 “Love ___ crunch neighbor” 49 Relative of 103 Lowly laborer bananas? 104 Russian pancakes 50 Walk in water 105 Civilian clothes, for 51 Book of apostolic a soldier deeds 108 They allow people 52 Frosted flakes? on the road 53 Uninspiring 114 City near Salt Lake 54 Bellowed City 56 “Slow down!” 115 Creep like lava 57 Frightened horse 116 Big fight site 59 Pod veggies 117 Be charitable 60 Like xenon 118 Preparation of 61 Female sib hemp leaves 63 Clay shapers 119 Vase-shaped 68 Bread or whiskey pitcher type 120 A ___ sum 69 “Kiss From ___” 121 Discharge (Seal song)



F V H S P V F.


Thursday, March 7, 2013



55 White House dOwn feature 1 Take to the body 58 Follow, as in Simon shop, perhaps Says 2 Make a goof 59 Proper 3 Flowery muumuu companion? accessory 60 “Real” attachment 4 Hand moisturizer, 61 A precondition for e.g. Nirvana 5 Contra ___ 62 Afghani neighbor (California county) 64 Delight 6 Brat Pack alumnus 65 OK for Rob consumption 7 “Woman” singer’s 66 Creepy woman 67 Tell a tall tale 8 A pop 70 Chester White’s 9 Comeback home candidate 73 Blockhead 10 Anesthesia of old 75 Delicately pretty 11 Part of a tooth 12 Electric guitar need 76 Game regulations 77 Wife of Geraint, in 13 Mild currents Arthurian lore 14 Flood 78 Chardonnay embankments alternative 15 Get more mature 80 Ancient Greece’s 16 You might stand a legislative round here assembly 17 Underhanded 81 White heron 19 Former German 84 A big one can chancellor Willy spread from ear to 23 White-tailed eagle ear 24 Unfunny Marx 28 Added filing aids to 87 Fitting like gears 88 Expose, as a plot 29 “Great ___ think 90 Agate material alike” 93 Yarn chaser 30 Certain Indo95 Highly rated European 97 Sugar source 31 Why you may be 98 Bakers’ coats forced to rest 100 Take by force 32 Disgusting dirt 101 “Elder” of ancient 33 Bad time for history Caesar 103 Boat front 34 “Johnny B. ___” 104 Ran in the wash (Berry classic) 105 “Family” members 35 Slab in the meat 106 “That’s revolting!” department? 107 Cosmetic safety 36 Speaker’s skill grp. 37 Able to feel 39 “Little” film mouse 108 Female deer 109 Wharf rodent 40 Lake Tahoe lift 110 Respectful title in 43 Arm of the sea India 45 Inundated 111 Nurse, as a cocktail 48 Wonderment 112 Serpent’s pigeon? 51 Barley bristle 113 Attach, as a patch 53 Counterpart of 61-Across 54 Attack from all sides CROSSWORD_030713


Thursday, March 7, 2013



Plant City Observer 03.07.13  

Plant City Observer 03.07.13

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