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YOU. YOUR NEIGHBORS. YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

A PARTNERSHIP WITH

INSIDE

EXCLUSIVE

SPORTS

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SEE PAGE 11

Christmas came early for children at Bruton library.

OUR TOWN

FREE • THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014

education

Community crowns 2014 Little Miss Plant City.

te Editor sen | Associa n e rg Ju r e b by Am

Payton Astin named 2014 Miss Cougar.

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by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

JYQUIS THOMAS

New P.C. eateries opening soon

EDUARDO CABRALES

Jake’s Wayback Burgers and Firehouse Subs both should open in the next three to four months, at Lake Walden Square.

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+ Observer snags newspaper awards

The Plant City Observer/ Plant City Times & Observer this week won five awards in the Local Media Association’s 2013 Editorial Contest, a national competition. Our awards include: First place: Best Sports Section First place: Best Feature — “A Chance to Change” Second place: Best Front Page Second place: Best Special Section — Summer Bucket List 2013

Her mother was coming at her with it, threatening to burn her. Pate kept her at bay, struggling to rip the cord out of the wall. She managed to avoid being singed. After that, she had had enough abuse. She resolved to run away. Pate is the second-born out of 11. When she was born, her mother was

Plant City resident soon will be enjoying some new dining options at Lake Walden Square. Jake’s Wayback Burgers and Firehouse Subs both will open this summer, adding sizzle and spice to the city’s growing menu of dining options. Jake’s Wayback Burgers franchise owner James Payne hopes to open his 1950s-diner-inspired restaurant within three to four months, “It was important to me that the franchise or brand fit in with the community,” Payne said. “That’s what I love about Plant City ... the community spirit. I wanted to make sure that it fit in.” “Wayback Burgers does very well in smaller communities, where we can connect with the local community and embrace fundraising, local sponsorships with the community, etc.,” said Jakes Franchising Director of Marketing Gillian Maffeo. “(Plant City) is the perfect community for this type of franchise — and about serving the pastime favorite foods and embracing the future.” Within the community, Lake Walden Square proved to be a great location for the restaurant. “The location has been vacant for a long time, and we saw an opportunity for an end cap that we can customize with our décor,” Maffeo said. “It is a great selection for community opportunities. There is a high school about 200 yards away, a dentist and other offices that are in the area and a movie theater. The daytime population in the center is high as well. The area is the ‘unofficial’ heart of Plant City.” Payne has been looking into opening the restaurant for about a year and used local banks and insurance companies to help in the process. Construction will begin this month.

SEE EDUCATION / PAGE 4

SEE EATERIES / PAGE 5

MARQUASHA PATE

+ Resident plans event for veterans

Plant City resident Sharon Flowers is organizing a group for Flags of Fallen Vets. The group will travel Saturday, May 25, to Florida National Cemetery, in Bushnell, to place flags at graves.The deadline to sign up is April 21. For more information, call Flowers at (813) 7646440.

+ Scouts earn Eagle status

Many years of hard work paid off for five Boy Scouts on March 24, when they received the award of Eagle Scout. Chase Dunn, Michael Hahn, Isaac Rivers, Christopher Tatum and Spencer Tatum, along with their families, were honored in a ceremony at American Legion Post 26.

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This week’s winner is

Ashlee Bradberry See her photo on PAGE 15.

ALBERTO GOMEZ

IMPRESSIVE TURNAROUND Four Plant City-area students overcame incredible obstacles to make it to graduation day.

Sometimes, an incredible student isn’t the one with the highest GPA. Sometimes, a student can really make an impact when they are quite the opposite of the valedictorian. The annual Turn Around Student Awards, held April 4, in Tampa, showcased the amazing 180-degree flips students from throughout the district have completed. Four students from Plant City-

area high schools were honored this year. Each has come from a different background. Each has had overwhelming obstacles. And each has triumphed his or her own demons.

Marquasha Pate, 18

Simmons Career Center The steaming metal of a hot iron stared Marquasha Pate in the face.

relay for life by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Ceremony illuminates heart of annual event The luminarias are a touching way to remember someone who has lost his or her battle with cancer. Beth Odom choked back tears as she gripped a tall purple pillar candle at the Relay for Life Survivor Dinner March 24. Her husband, Steve, helped her light it, and the flame flickered and swayed to the vibrations of her voice.

It was in honor of her grandmother, Mable Fouts, who had just been diagnosed with cancer. Odom hoped she would be able to pull through, although the outlook wasn’t positive. Odom’s worst fear came true on April

1. Fouts died after a week fighting for her life in a hospice facility. “Everything this year is so fresh to me,” Odom said. Fresh — but not new. Odom is no stranger to cancer. Nine family members have battled cancer. And Odom herself survived cervical cancer.

SEE LUMINARIAS / PAGE 4

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

Vol.1,No.37 | Onesection Crossword...................15

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

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

Weather......................15

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COMMUNITYCALENDAR THURSDAY, APRIL 10

FRIDAY, APRIL 11

Black-and-White Nite — takes place from 6:33 to 8:13 p.m. Thursdays, at Krazy Kup,101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. Vintage sitcoms and sci-fi from the 50s and 60s are played on a large drop-down screen. (813) 7521220.

Double Barrel Band — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, April 11, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

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, Plant City. (813) 7529100. Eastern Hillsborough Community Band Presents “A Memorable Evening” — 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Plant City, 1107 Charlie Griffin Road. Suggested $5 donation at the door. (813) 569-1771 or info@ ehcb.org. Line Dancing Lessons — takes place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse Grill, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City. (813) 7374444. Ribbon Cutting: Plant City Dentistry — takes place from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at 2313 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. For more, visit plantcity.org. Trivia Thursdays — begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

Friday Night Fun — Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse Grill will offer karaoke, cornhole tournaments, a deejay, darts and more beginning at 7 p.m. Fridays, at the restaurant, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City. (813) 737-4444. GFWC Luncheon/Style Show — takes place at 10 a.m. Friday, April 11, at Plant City’s First Baptist Church, 503 N. Palmer St., Plant City. Plant City Social Dance Club — takes place from 8 to 11:15 p.m. Fridays, at Stardust Dance Center, 1405 S. Collins St., Plant City. Cost is $5 for members and associate members; $7 for nonmembers. Band will be Bill Mann. Ken Miller, (863) 4097714 or pcsocialdanceclub@ yahoo.com.

p.m. Friday, April 11, at the school, 4748 Cougar Path, Plant City. Tickets are $3 in advance and $5 at the door. (813) 695-4689.

Uncork Your Weekend with Skip Frye — live music from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 11, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100.

SATURDAY, APRIL 12 Church on the Road Annual Community Yard Sale — takes place from 8 a.m. to noon, April 12, at the church, 301 E. Alsobrook St. (813) 7523740. Coldwell Banker Classic Car Show — takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Lowe’s Home Improvement, 2801 James L. Redman Parkway. Just Friends — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

RICOH Children’s Classic Golf Tournament — takes place Friday, April 11, at Walden Lake Golf & Country Club, 2001 Clubhouse Drive. Event begins with a lunch at 11 a.m., followed by a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. Funds will benefit South Florida Baptist Hospital’s Wellness on Wheels program. Amy, 754-3707.

Marshall High School Class of 1969 — meets from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. Willie Thomas, (813) 677-5210.

Stepping Through Time — Durant High School’s third annual Step and Dance Showcase will take place at 6

Spring “Starving Artist” Sale — takes place April 12 to 19, at the Art Lounge Gallery, 119 E. Reynolds St., Plant City. For

Redneck Reality — takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Church on the Rock, 301 E. Alsobrook St. (813) 752-3740.

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. Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. Master Gardener Heather Diaz will be the guest speaker. The program is sponsored by the Master Gardening Division of the Hillsborough County Extension Service. Members of the audience are encouraged to bring a plant for the plant exchange. (813) 757-9215.

BEST BET

2014 Relay for Life of Plant City — takes place from 6 p.m. Friday, April 11, to noon, Saturday, April 12, at Plant City High School, 1 Raider Place. For one night every year, about 2,000 people call the football field at Plant City High School home. Businesses, churches and other organizations erect more than 70 booths, and performances and other activities transform the field into a miniature city for the annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. For more, email Allison Martinez, allison.martinez@ cancer.org.

more, visit theartloungegallery. com. Turkey Creek Church of God Easter Egg Hunt — takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the church, 5312 Turkey Creek Road. (863) 670-5308 or mcmllan2003@yahoo.com. Uncork Your Weekend with Mark Barrios — live music from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 7529100. Young Adult Nite — takes place from 7:33 to 10:33 p.m. Saturdays, at Krazy Kup,101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. Live music and movies for 16- to 21-year-olds. (813) 7521220.

SUNDAY, APRIL 13 Biker Sunday/Family Fun Day

— takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 13, at Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse Grill, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City. All proceeds benefit Relay for (813) 737-4444.

TUES., APRIL 15 Evening Book Discussion — meets from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. This month’s book is “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell (813) 757-9215.

Life.

MONDAY, APRIL 14 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. Master Gardening Program: “Cooking with Herbs” — takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 14, at

Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce New Member Reception — takes place from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, at the chamber, 106 N. Evers St., Plant City. For more, visit plantcity.org. Ribbon Cutting: Stone Ledge Manor — takes place at 11 a.m., Tuesday, April 15, at 12006 McIntosh Road. For more, visit plantcity. org.

WED., APRIL 16 Get-Fresh Plant City Market — takes place 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, at 115 W. Alsobrook St., Plant City. Fresh local veggies, dairy, jams, poultry, eggs, local crafts and more. (813) 435-8111.


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recognition by Michael Eng | Editor

Tomlin principal wins Frameworks award Susan Sullivan received the Head and Heart March 27, for her school’s program that focuses on emotional intelligence.

Most adults likely remember their middle-school years as a time of unparalleled awkwardness. For many, those three years — sixth to eighth grade — often are the uncomfortable transition from childhood and onto a path toward adulthood. Which is precisely why Tomlin Middle School Principal Susan Sullivan adopted a curriculum into her school’s sixth-grade wheel that focuses not on reading, writing or arithmetic, but rather social and emotional intelligence. For her efforts, Tampabased non-profit Frameworks of Tampa Bay awarded Sullivan its 2014 Head and Heart Award. Sullivan accepted the award at Frameworks’ FO-

CUS: The Art and Science of Emotional Intelligence luncheon March 27, at A La Carte Event Pavilion, in Tampa. “Several years ago, our PTA members wanted to find a way to help our students be successful in relationships and in decision-making,” Sullivan said. “That year, we had a speaker come to the school for an assembly. But, there wasn’t a lot of followthrough.” The following year, Tomlin — one of the largest middle schools in Hillsborough County — began its relationship with Frameworks, which offers programs to teach youth to manage their emotions, develop healthy relationships and make good de-

cisions for academic, career and personal success. That partnership blossomed this school year, when Tomlin adopted Frameworks’ PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) curriculum into its sixth-grade wheel. Now, Tomlin’s implementation of PATHS may be introduced into other middle schools throughout the county. Through PATHS, trained Frameworks facilitators work directly with the students in small-group settings to teach them skills that can help them make responsible decisions, resolve conflicts, respond to emotions in a positive and mature way, and learn to show empathy to-

Michael Eng

Susan Sullivan accepted the Head and Heart Award in front of about 500 people March 27, at Frameworks’ annual luncheon. ward their classmates. Sullivan said even in just the first year of PATHS, she

has seen improvements at Tomlin. “We’ve seen a decrease in

bullying,” she says. “There’s more of a sense of awareness (of others).” Ultimately, emotional intelligence will lead to higher academic achievement, Sullivan said. Plant City resident Yvonne Fry, a board member for Frameworks, said the organization now is working to bring its curriculum to Plant City High School, as well. Founded in 2011, Frameworks now offers its programs and curricula to about 1,500 students ages 8 to 18 throughout the area. For more information about Frameworks of Tampa Bay, visit myframeworks.org. Contact Michael Eng at meng@plantcityobserver.com.

faith

TOY BOX FOR TODDLERS by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Plant City pastor plans tent revival

The revival will bring pastors to Plant City from throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Members of the Johnson family surrounded Evelyn “Grandma” Johnson and her “Box of Wonders” during the April 8 ceremony.

Justin Kline

Plant City alumni donate toys to library

The Plant City High School Class of 1946 made a donation to the Bruton Memorial Library on Tuesday morning, giving the toddlers a ‘box of wonders.’ The Bruton Memorial Library was overrun April 8, by all kinds of animals: eagles, tigers, parrots, cows and more. Oh my! They weren’t real animals, though — just a large group of toddlers pretending to be, with a little help from the contents of “Grandma Johnson’s Box of Wonders.” Donating the toy box to the library was the idea of the Plant City High School Class of 1946, which still meets once a month for lunch at ABC Pizza. The classmates have been meeting regularly for roughly

OPEN CALL

WHEN: Saturday, April 26. 11 a.m.: Youth up to age 12; Noon: Teens 12 to 18; 1 p.m.: Adults WHERE: Fresh Picked Talent offices, 110 W. Reynolds St., Suite 107 INFO: Those interested must complete a pre-screening questionnaire and submit a headshot. Contact Taylor Baker at tbaker@freshpickedtalent.com or (813) 365-0302. Of those who come to the first open call, one will be picked to receive a photo package worth $800. Fresh Picked Talent is looking for talent of all ages and sizes. “There’s a stereotype where you think you have to be a certain size and look a certain way,” Fry said. “But that’s not true. Advertisements, films, commercials want real people with a little character.”

two decades, starting in the 1990s, when Betty Barker Watkins began organizing get-togethers. According to Don Walden, the group specifically wanted to honor member Evelyn Johnson, and came up with “Grandma Johnson’s Box of Wonders” as the means to do it — citing Johnson’s love of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Placing the box in the library gives kids from throughout Plant City the chance to share the joy, and, according to Library Director Anne Haywood, serves as a visible enhancement to the library’s programs.

At 10:30 a.m., the kids left their “Motion Commotion” story-time event and were joined in a room by nine members of the Class of 1946 and several members of the Johnson family. After a brief introductory speech by Walden, the children were handed tambourines, maracas and other noisemakers to start a “drum roll.” Once the covers were lifted, exposing the big, orange box, the kids took a minute to soak it all in. And then, as kids often do, they swarmed around the box and cleaned it out within minutes. This toy box is stocked with tools

for the imagination. Rather than fill it up with dolls, action figures and the like, the Class of 1946 selected costumes, hand puppets and other props for the kids to role play. After moving from the presentation room to the library’s KidSpace section, the playing continued — joining the group of young children were some of Johnson’s own great-grandchildren, who were so excited that they continued playing with some of the hand puppets during a family photo break. Young visitors at the library will be able to access the “Box of Wonders” at any time. For more, call (813) 7579215. Contact Justin Kline at jkline@ plantcityobserver.com.

starstruck by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

New talent agency hits Plant City Fresh Picked Talent will hold an open casting call on April 26, in Historic Downtown Plant City.

Nestled next to Orlando, a city with a booming entertainment industry, Plant City talent has the opportunity to align itself with the stars. And that’s exactly what Yvonne Fry and Taylor Baker plan to make happen. The duo has just launched its own talent agency, Fresh Picked Talent, in Plant City. Fresh Picked Talent will hold its first open casting call on April 26, at its offices in Historic Downtown. Only a limited number of aspiring actors, models and performers will be selected for representation for good reason. “We want to know our talent,” Fry said. “We want to know the intricacies about them. We will remain diligent to stay true to who we are and keep that small-town feel.” The idea for the boutique agency started while Fry was working with two members from her youth pop singing Courtesy of Stephanie Humphrey Photography group, NRG, which she produces. Two The team is looking for talent of all members, Bryson Keel and Fry’s son, ages and sizes. Arie Fry, were scouted for parts in an upcoming international boy band and “But, here we were, and we saw how worked with Brad Davis, of Marquee down-to-earth this agency was.” Casting, in Miami. With Davis’ support, Fry decided to “You think of the entertainment in- branch out to start her own agency. Her dustry as really cut-throat,” Fry said. goals also coincide with the Tampa Hill-

sborough Film and Digital Media Commission, which is setting up initiatives and resources to help promote the film industry in the Tampa Bay area. “It’s kind of been an organic growth, but it’s not just about the talent,” Fry said. “It’s also about sustainability.” In the planning stages, Fry brought in Baker to help her run the agency. “She just brings such enthusiasm about the business and also about developing the talent and their careers,” Fry said. Baker and Fry have worked together before. Baker’s daughter is in the NRG Junior singing group, and she helped plan NRG’s trip to New York City to be part of the show, “Feather.” “I am most excited that there’s going to be something new in Plant City,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of talent here. For people looking for something like this, they won’t have to leave Plant City.” Fry also brought in local photographers Stephanie Humphrey and Sophia Hyde to offer packages that will aid in representation and allow aspiring talent to have what they need in their portfolios, such as head shots and comp cards. “They are perfect for telling the story of each individual talent we will have,” Fry said. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

The Rev. John M. Epps is no stranger to old fashion tent revivals. He’s been doing them for 25 years all over the world. His latest one will take place April 14 to 19 — right here in Plant City. “You draw a lot of people off the streets who normally wouldn’t be pulled into a church,” Epps said. Epps has traveled from Canada to Jamaica to host his revivals, which he said are among his favorite ways to share the word of God. He’s been in the area for 32 years, serving as a bishop at the Full Gospel Tabernacle of Plant City, along with four other churches. His first local revival started as just a small church rally. But he saw the popularity of it. So, he moved on to a bigger project — a revival in Ruskin, primarily for migrant workers. The response was huge. About 500 people showed up each night. The lively activity even garnered the attention of a Catholic priest, who came to bless the tent. He thought it was a dance. Out of all who were saved that night, 15 went on to become pastors of their own church. After the revival, a new church was erected on the site. “They built a church of God there right underneath my tent,” Epps said. Since then, he has been holding the revivals throughout the area. In the past, he organized revivals on the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds. But, when prices increased, he looked for other venues. “We don’t make any profit,” Epps said. “We pull just enough in to cover our expenses.” Epps tries to operate at just $200 per night. His preachers do it mostly for their faith, making only $100 for the appearance. Epps tries to invite Plant City pastors. But after some of his regulars died, he has extended his network to Tampa pastors. Epps always has had a passion for the ministry. He gave his first sermon at just 8 years old and has been preaching for 62 years. Epps started at Full Gospel Tabernacle in the 1980s, holding church in the small building on campus that used to be the main sanctuary. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

OLD-FASHIONED TENT REVIVAL WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 14 to 19 WHERE: 2916 James L. Redman Parkway DETAILS: The Revival is hosted by Full Gospel Tabernacle of Plant City and will feature the Rev. Tommy Hampton from the General Assembly Pentecostal Church in Tampa, the Rev. Hank Furr from LightHouse Revival Center in Riverview, Pastor Jack Myers from The Cynery Church in Plant City, Pastor Joe Bowls from Shiloh Baptist Church in Plant City, Bishop John M. Epps from Full Gospel Tabernacle in Plant City and Evang. Randy Baldwin from ABC Tents in Winter Haven. INFO: Full Gospel Tabernacle, (813) 754-3843




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LUMINARIAS / PAGE 1 That’s why she lights luminiarias for her beloved family members every year and keeps others who are fighting in her thoughts. “The number grows every year,” Odom said. “Every year, we buy another one, because we’ve lost another one.” Because of her connections to the disease, Odom is serving as Survivor Chair on the Relay for Life committee. But the luminiaria ceremony is still one of her favorite parts of Relay. At 9 p.m., the lights of the Plant City High School stadium are cut off. A somber darkness settles among the camps of exhausted walkers and sleeping children. A slideshow plays with all the loved ones who have survived or been lost. Every year, the Odoms wait for the portrait of Steve’s father, Buddy, to pop up on the screen. “It’s very, very emotional,” Odom said. “I always think I’m prepared.” Hundreds of luminarias are placed around the track. Earlier in the day, those who purchased the luminarias are able to decorate the bags. Candles glow inside during the cool night, outlining the names of those who are remembered. Although Relay starts on April 11, the committee still is accepting luminaria purchases. They can be purchased before the event on relayforlife. org/plantcityfl, at the bottom of the page, or at the front table at the event. Cost is whatever donation attendees decide. “It’s not only a fundraising aspect, but just for a picture of a memory, it’s worth it,” Odom said. Honorary Survivor Joy Neely agrees. “It does something to your soul,” Neely said. “It gives you a deep understanding that life is precious.” Although Neely is a survivor herself, she is not the only fighter in her family. Only one out of her four sisters hasn’t had breast cancer. Her 93-yearold mother also battled breast cancer at 86 and survived. But, she has lost many. She buys about 20 luminarias to remember them.

IF YOU GO RELAY FOR LIFE

WHEN: 5 p.m. Friday, April 11, to noon Saturday, April 12 WHERE: Plant City High School, 1 Raider Place

LUMINARIAS

Relay for Life is still selling luminarias to remember your loved one. They can be purchased before the event online at relayforlife.org/plantcityfl, at the bottom of the page. They also will be available for purchase at the event, beginning at 6 p.m. The luminaria ceremony starts at 9 p.m. “It is a way to honor survivors and those who have lost the battle to cancer,” said American Cancer Society representative Allison Martinez. “It is a time to grieve for those we have lost, to reflect on our own or loved one’s cancer experience and to find hope that tomorrow holds the promise of a cancer-free world. “It is a very quiet and reflective time, and it is important for every Relay participant to remember that while Relay is a fun event, it is also a time to celebrate those who have survived, remember those we have lost and fight back, so that reach a day in which no one hears the words, ‘you have cancer,’” she said.

“It’s deep,” Neely said. “It’s almost too intimate for words. You share a special experience with (other Relayers) and know you share a common bond and it touches your heartstrings. It’s therapeutic.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

EDUCATION / PAGE 1 just 14 years old. When she got older, Pate and her older sister had to watch over the brood. Their mother was in and out of the house and on and off drugs. “We had to take care of them like they were our kids,” Pate remembers. Because of her unstable lifestyle, Pate had been moved to three different high schools before landing at Simmons Career Center. She acted up for attention and bullied others as her way to cope. “I was really, really mad at the world,” Pate says. “I would hear students talking about their lives, and I would reflect back on my own and think how bad it was.” Pate eventually boarded a bus to Miami. For three months, she lived in hiding, scared the police were going to come to take her back to her mother. But much to her relief, her grandmother finally secured custody. That’s when Pate moved from Strawberry Crest High School to Simmons. When she started the new school year, she decided to change her attitude and her grades. “This last year, it counts for me,” Pate says. “I wanted to be president of everything.” And she did become president of almost everything. She heads up the HOSA Future Health Professionals club and leads the Student Advisory Council, where she meets with faculty members to help better the school. She also became part of the National Technical Honor Society, is one of only two school office assistants and will be graduating this year as a certified nursing assistant and a certified medical office assistant. “To have so much positivity as a kid from her situation is amazing,” guidance counselor Jama Hoffman says. “She came back ready to conquer the world. She’s personable; everyone respects her.”

Alberto Gomez, 18

Durant High School While everyone else was in class, Alberto Gomez was wiping beads of sweat off his forehead as he picked strawberries and other produce around Florida. He had missed so much school, but as the son of migrant workers, it wasn’t really his fault. What was his responsibility was the type of people he chose to hang around and the kind of person he chose to be. “I really was a trouble-maker,” Gomez says. “I didn’t care for no one. I used and sold drugs.” Gomez had been kicked out of Brandon Alternative School and was attending a military school in Tampa. But Durant decided to give him a chance. Gomez was told to forget his past and only look forward. Under the mentorship of Migrant Advocate Jorge Salmeron, Gomez agreed

to shape up or ship out. “I wanted to keep growing myself academically,” Gomez says. “I wanted to be something for myself and for my family.” Salmeron shared his story as a migrant to motivate Gomez. Salmeron had worked for 10 years picking strawberries himself. “I relate my experiences to them and tell them they can do it,” Salmeron says. “Because once they believe in themselves, they know they can.” When he first came to Durant, Gomez had just three credits. Now, he is a junior and will complete enough credits to graduate this year. He did it by taking a loaded schedule of classes in two different creditrecovery programs — all while still helping his family in the fields. Still, he had his doubts. He was shy a couple credits earlier this year, which would have delayed his graduation date. Salmeron worked with other teachers and administrators to switch him out of an elective he was failing and into something in which he could be more successful. “The hardest part was to leave my past life behind,” Gomez says. “The work is not hard. Just keep with the work, don’t slack, listen in class. Concentrate on yourself and your family.”

JyQuis Thomas, 18

Plant City High School It was just two days after JyQuisThomas’ birthday in 2011, when he got the phone call that would change his life. Two people had been killed at the house at which his father, Shannan, was staying. His family rushed to the crime scene. On the way, they got a second call. His father had been beaten to death. So bad, that the only way they could identify him was by his tattoos. And just like that, Thomas’ world had been turned upside down. He had to look out for his nine other siblings. After Shannan’s death, they came to him more often as the second oldest. “You hear it happening to other people and … you feel sorry for them,” Thomas says. “But when it’s you, it’s a big life change.” Thomas had to pull himself together. He already had good grades. They dipped a little after his father’s death, but he was determined to carry on. He also continued to focused largely on football; he played as a defensive back ever since he came to Plant City High School threeand-one-half years ago. With the help of staff at Plant City High and his mother, Katura Jackson, all his hard work has paid off. Thomas will be graduating this semester with a 3.9 GPA and a scholarship to play football at Temple University. “He is very humble,” Assistant Principal Colleen Car says. “He doesn’t think he’s anything spectacular and that everyone is

just like him. He is awesome.” Thomas hopes to study physical therapy at Temple and either become a physical therapist or a paramedic or emergency first responder. “This is my new chapter in my life,” Thomas says. He can still think back to the day his father died but knows he has a bright future. “It’s going to hurt at first,” Thomas says. “People tell us it’s going to be OK, but it’s not, because you’ll never have another mother or father. You just got to look ahead, stay focused and make them proud.”

Eduardo Cabrales, 19

Strawberry Crest High School In one front-office room at Strawberry Crest High School, a student was being reprimanded. But, in the next, a student was being honored. Eduardo Cabrales had been called up as the Turn Around Student for the 2013-2014 school year. “I love this kid,” Dropout Prevention Administrator Jodie Carleton-Peace says. “He never needs any discipline. He is everything a turn around student should be.” Cabrales had been behind his ninthand 10th-grade years. After his sophomore year he had just a 1.3 GPA. “I hung out with the wrong people,” Cabrales says. “I didn’t care at the time.” But, after his mother and older sister talked to him, he knew he had to change. “My sister said, ‘If you don’t graduate, we will still be here for you,’” Cabrales says. “That motivated me.” So, he started focusing on his classes. He went to Saturday school from 8 a.m. to noon every week. That was the hardest part, he says, because he had to coordinate with his mother on the use the family’s only car. She had to go to her job at a potato factory. But, she let him take the car to get to class. He also took summer classes. “While all his friends were having fun in the summer, he was at class,” CarletonPeace says. “He wanted to have a normal senior year, instead of a stressful senior year.” Now, the tattooed-but-shy senior has caught up on all his credits and is no longer in the credit-recovery program. He brought his GPA up to a 2.0 and will be graduating this year. “He really did turn it around,” counselor Marlene Hill says. “The difference between his ninth and 10th years and 11th and 12th is huge. A lot of students are like him. But, he actually listened.” After he graduates, Cabrales hopes to get a job to help his mother. He also wants to go to college to become a building inspector. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.


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

MARCH 14

THAT’S COLD

300 block of South Frontage Road. Grand Theft. Unknown suspect(s) stole a stainlesssteel ice machine, valued at $3,000.

RUDE BEHAVIOR 4400 block of Country Hills Boulevard. Obstruction. The officer was investigating a parking viola-

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MANATEE

CORNER

tion, when she knocked on the door of the residence. The suspect came to the door then attempted to slam the door to the home on the officer. Once all occupants were identified and removed from the home, the suspect continued to hinder the investigation and was subsequently arrested.

stated unknown suspect(s) stole his black, open-top, single-axle utility trailer, Florida tag No. 3345PB.

MISSING WHEELS

SMASH AND GRAB

400 block of North Alexander Street. Stolen Bike. The officer responded and met with the victim, who stated he entered the business to make a purchase. When he exited about 10 minutes later he discovered his Mongoose bike had been stolen.

MARCH 15

TRAILER TROUBLE

1800 block of Turkey Creek Road. Grand Theft. The victim

MARCH 15

EMU-SING RACE

Unknown block of North Shannon Avenue. Loose Emus. Plant City police received called in reference to three loose emus on North Shannon Avenue. The officer responded and located the owner on Vinning Street. The owner responded responded to the area to catch the animals. One emu was still at large at the time of the report.

EATERIES / PAGE 1 Jake’sWayback Burgers is a Connecticut-based, fast-casual franchise with a reputation for serving fresh burgers and thick, hand-dipped milkshakes. Founded in 1991 in Newark, Del., Jake’s Wayback Burgers currently operates in 24 states with more than 80 locations nationally. The closest restaurant to Plant City is located in Lithia. There are plans to open in 28 countries through the Middle East and Northern Africa, in addition to expansion plans in Argentina. Every month, Jake’s Wayback Burgers features a new “Burger of the Month” and “Shake of the Month.” The menu also will feature homemade potato chips, all-beef hot dogs, marinated chicken sandwiches, turkey burgers, specialty sandwiches and fresh salads. Located on the other side of West Alexander Street in Lake Walden Square, Firehouse Subs will be coming to a space next to Winn-Dixie. Franchisee owner John York hopes to have the sandwich shop open by early July — at the latest. “I was a fan before I was a franchisee,” York said. “After you go three or four times, they know your sandwich, they know your name. It’s the food, the people, everything.” York is from Maine, but it wasn’t until he

QUICK CASH

1800 block of North Franklin Street. Vehicle Burglary. Unknown suspect(s) entered the victim’s vehicle and stole $184. 1700 block of North Park Road. Vehicle Burglary. The victim stated unknown suspect(s) broke out the passenger-side window of her car and took her purse. Her purse was brown, with an owl on it.

THE JOKE’S ON THEM

900 block of North Clark Street. Residential Burglary. The victim stated she was working in her garden. During this time, she left her porch and front door unlocked. When she went inside, she found about $200. worth of costume jewelry missing.

ONE WILD NIGHT

4340 block of Country Hills Boulevard. Criminal Mischief. The victim stated that when she was having a party, someone outside threw a beer bottle through her window.

moved to Leesburg, that he got his first taste of Firehouse. Now a Mulberry resident, York purchased a longstanding Firehouse Subs last August, in Lakeland. The Plant City location will be the first he will launch from the ground up. “Plant City is a good location for a second store,” York said. “The area is really nice; it’s a growing town. It’ll be nice to grow with the town.” York said he has had many customers from Plant City come into his Lakeland restaurant, excited to have one closer. “The response has been great,” York said. “I can’t wait to get over there.” York will serve as general manager of the Plant City location. Like his Lakeland location, he wants to continue to hold community nights that will benefit local organizations such as sports teams and schools. In 1994, Firehouse Subs was founded by two firefighting brothers, Chris and Robin Sorensen. The first store was in Jacksonville and has since grown to include over 340 locations in 16 states. The Hook & Ladder is the no. 1 selling sub and customers also have a choice of 50 hot sauces to add to their meals. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@ plantcityobserver.com.

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Readers react to spoof Regular readers of PlantCityObserver.com and fans of our Facebook page received a little something special on April 1. In keeping with a tradition that began more than 15 years ago at our sister paper, the Longboat Observer, we published a little April Fools’ spoof, titled “Retailer sets ‘target’ on Walden Lake golf course.” In

the story, we detailed national retailer Target Corporation’s “plans” to build a huge superstore on the Walden Lake Golf & Country Club property. You can read the story here: plantci tyobserver. com/2014/04 /01/breakingnews-retailersets-target-

walden-lake-golf-course. Most of our readers enjoyed the spoof, while a few took us to task for our deceptive tactics. At some point, we will introduce this tradition into our print edition. You’ve been warned! ;-) Below are some responses we received.

Wow! That “breaking news” yesterday was AWESOME. My secretary sent me the article, and I didn’t read that carefully or scroll down, and I was fit to be tied. She eventually emailed me and broke the news. My wife and I were in tears when she read it last night and couldn’t believe I fell for it! The Rev. Dean R. Pfeffer Hope Lutheran Church

the most coveted stores people want is just cruel. I will admit to a small fist pump when I read Chick-fil-A. My mom was on the phone with her sister in New York as I was reading the article. She was relaying the exciting news ... then bam! Good one! Debbie Jensen

Wow! As a Walden Lake resident, I was entering shock mode! I love Target and Chic-fil-A but surely do not want them in my neighborhood. Whew! Stacee Smith

I nearly died when I read the “Target” article, and then I got ready to start texting and calling all my friends and family to see if they heard the exciting news. Thank goodness I saw the “Gotcha” at the top of the page before I made a fool of myself! What a roller coaster of emotions! I think this was the best April Fools’ joke I’ve heard! Thanks for the laugh! Darlene Jones I don’t mind a joke, but using

Awesome! I posted this and tagged several of my friends, (because) we have all been impatiently waiting for both Target and Chick-fil-A. Wait ‘til they find out it’s a prank! Angela Hays Well, it got me good. I told everyone on Facebook that we were getting Target and Chickfil-A. Then my niece, Rebecca, came and busted my bubble. Oh well, in time. I like our size of Plant City as it is, anyway. Karen Secor

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\ULJKW 3ODQW &LW\ 0HGLD //&  $OO 5LJKWV 5HVHUYHG

Not funny! You might find humor in the situation in Walden Lake, (but) I worry about even more decreasing home values. Poor judgment on the editor’s part. Next week, will you be telling some kid with cancer he is cured? Michelle Emerson I knew it was an April Fools’ joke the second you said Walden Lake golf course. That community would never let a retailer in is gates. But, I would be happy with all if the listed places being put here in Plant City. The only thing cruel (was) trying to dupe us with all the things we want! Melissa Schultz

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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

HEROIC EFFORT by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Elks support P.C. soldier The Plant City Elks Lodge 1727 donated $1,000 to help a local soldier with home repair costs.

There was nothing U.S. Army Sgt. Sean McLaughlin could do for his family when the cooling and heating system started to break back at home. He was halfway around the world on deployment in Qatar, with the Army National Guard. His wife, Joyce, had her hands full with three children, Chyenne, 10, Brooklynn, 3, and Brianna, 2. And the electric bill was going up, complicating their already-tight budget. “(The hardest part) was knowing she had to do it on her own,” McLaughlin said. “It was our first time being separated. It’s very stressful.” That stress only escalated when the family got stuck with a $3,700 price tag on a new HVAC system. That’s when the Plant City Elks Lodge 1727 got word that the family needed help. On April 2, Leading Knight Judy Wise presented a $1,000 check at the lodge’s weekly dinner to help the family with costs. “I don’t think there can ever be enough we can do for our service members,” Wise said. In-between bouncing his two youngest daughters on his lap, McLaughlin accepted the checked and dined with the supportive Elks, who wanted to know his story. He’s a 15-year veteran and has been on three deployments — two to Iraq. “This helps out a lot,” McLaughlin said. Veterans are the primary focus for Lodge 1727. In the past year, the lodge also has helped another soldier, Sgt. Michael Smith, who struggled with housing costs after the Army adjusted his pay to the wrong county. They participate in helping veterans through the Army of Hope Program. Established in 2007

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.

Amber Jurgensen

U.S. Army Sgt. Sean McLaughlin with his daughters, Brooklynn and Brianna

by the Florida State Elks Association, its mission is to provide aid assistance to the families of deceased, disabled, and deployed members of the military. Different lodges have assisted with medical and dental emergencies, auto repairs, home repairs, phone cards and clothing and shoe donations. Since its inception, Army of Hope has raised $242,784 for families of deployed military members. Throughout the year, Lodge 1727 holds many fundraising activities to benefit Army of Hope projects. Fundraisers range from golf tournaments to chili cook-offs. Around July 4, the lodge holds a Freedom Day, during which it sells barbecue chicken lunches. And on the first Saturday in May, the lodge holds Derby Day, complete with mock horse races. Derby Day raises about $2,000. “A lot of people think the Elks is just a social club,” Wise said. “But we do a lot. We do things all year long. There’s always something going on to fund the people we help.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@ plantcityobserver.com.

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

THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014

CLUB HUBBUB

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

+ Plant City Civitan Club

The Plant City Civitan Club recognized two outstanding students from Plant City and Durant high schools April 3, for their impacting accomplishment by awarding the James C. Billings Scholarship Awards toward their Hillsborough Community College classes. The Civitan Club was proud to award this honor and Keenya Wright from Durant High and Nancy Mendoza from Plant City. Mendoza is in the National Honor Society and enjoys volunteering in the Relay for Life and GAP camp course. She also invests her time in bilingual aid and tutoring. She plans to work toward her master’s degree in Nursing. Wright serves as the president of the youth ministry at her church and is an outstanding student at her school. She has focused her life to become a pediatric nurse. The Plant City Civitan Club was also honored to have Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks, chaplain of Plant City, to challenge the students in their future endeavors. “The most important words that any of your patients will hear will be their name,” he told them. “Speak their name with compassion and care, and they will remember your name for life.”

+ Recreation and Parks Department

The 25th Annual CityWide Easter Egg Hunt is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, April 19, at the Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex, 2602 E. Cherry St., Plant City. The hunt will feature 10,000 eggs, each filled with candy and coupons from local businesses. Guests also will enjoy trackless trains, balloon art, facepainting, inflatable space walks and more. For more information, visit plantcitygov.com/index. aspx?nid=685.

First Maid Bailey Brock showcased her cuteness during the pageant.

The 2013 Little Miss Plant City queen and court performed a dance routine.

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The 2014 Little Miss Plant City Queen and Court: court member Emmylou Varnum, court member Elizabeth West, Queen Lacie Collins, First Maid Bailey Brock and court member Tabatha Spinks.

2014 LITTLE MISS PLANT CITY

by Michael Eng | Editor

+ Wells Memorial and Event Center

Wells Memorial and Event Center will be creating a Memorial Day veteran wreath display. Honor a veteran by buying a 14-inch wreath that will be displayed at Wells Memorial. The cost of the wreath is $20. Of that, $10 will benefit the American Legion. To order, call (813) 752-1111.

2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Jessi Rae Varnum, First Maid Lindsey English and court members Kallee Cook, Caitlyn Kent and Macaley Barrow

Crystal Romano served as mistress of ceremonies.

+ Plant City GFWC Woman’s Club

The Plant City GFWC Woman’s Club will host a fashion show luncheon at 10 a.m. Friday, April 11, at Plant City’s First Baptist Church, 503 N. Palmer St. The lunch will start at 10 a.m. with the show beginning around 11 a.m.

Lacie Collins was crowned 2014 Little Miss Plant City at the 46th annual Little Miss Plant City Pageant April 5, at Plant City High School. Lacie is joined on the 2014 court by First Maid Bailey Brock and court members Tabatha Spinks, Emmylou Varnum and Elizabeth West. Thirty-seven Plant City girls competed in this year’s pageant, presented by the Plant City Junior Woman’s Club. Tampa Bay Lightning cheerleader and Knights Elementary teacher Crystal Romano served as mistress of ceremonies, while Michael Cameron, founder of Cameron Financial Management, served as master of ceremonies. The pageant also included a final farewell to 2013 Little Miss Plant City Emma Showalter, First Maid Giselle Gutierrez and court members Payton Talavera, Rylee Vanstronder and Amanda Astrike.

Brenna Sturgis showed a lot of personality on stage.

Callie Smith enjoyed her time in the spotlight.

Elise Griffin won Miss Congeniality.

2014 LITTLE MISS PLANT CITY QUEEN AND COURT QUEEN: Lacie Collins FIRST MAID: Bailey Brock COURT MEMBER: Tabatha Spinks COURT MEMBER: Emmylou Varnum COURT MEMBER: Elizabeth West




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REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS by Michael Eng | Editor

Horse-ready country property tops March sales in Plant City A horse-ready home topped all residential real-estate transactions in March. The home at 8711 W. Knights Griffin Road sold for $335,000. Built in 1974, the home has three bedrooms, four baths, a pool and 2,100 square feet of living area. The property also includes a three-stall barn, tack room, fenced pastures, creek and pond on its 6.69 acres The price per square foot for the home is $159.52.

ALICE WINTER GARDENS

The manufactured home at 301 Hopewell Manor Road sold for $90,000. Built in 1980, it has two bedrooms, two baths and 1,296 square feet of living area on 2.19 acres. The price per square foot is $69.44.

CITRUS LANDING

The home at 1403 Orange Moss Court sold for $120,000 (REO/bank owned). Built in 2005, it has three bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths and 1,490 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $80.54.

O COUNTRY HILLS

Plant City’s most complete news report. To advertise, call

813-704-6850

PlantCityObserver.com

The home at 4602 Copper Lane sold for $108,299 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1998, it has three bedrooms, twoand-one-half baths and 2,398 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $45.16.

COUNTRY HILLS EAST

The home at 4519 Tina Lane sold for $127,000. Built in 2004, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 1,507 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $84.27. The home at 518 Lindsay Anne Court sold for $109,000. Built in 2004, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,315 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $82.89. The home at 419 Abigail Road sold for $73,000 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1999, it has three bedrooms, two baths

Michael Eng

The property at 8711 W. Knights Griffin Road, sold for $335,000. It features three bedrooms, four baths, a pool and 2,100 square feet of living area. The sale also includes a three-stall barn, tack room, fenced pastures, creek and pond on 6.69 acres. and 1,210 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $60.33.

DIXIE GARDENS

The home at 602 W. Dixie St. sold for $54,900. Built in 1940, it has two bedrooms, one bath and 888 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $61.82.

FLETCHER COUNTRY ESTATES

The manufactured home at 8203 Fletcher Country Estates Drive sold for $43,144 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1989, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,782 square feet of living area on 2.71 acres. The price per square foot is $24.21.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

The home at 7958 Bumpy Way sold for $265,000 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 2004, it has three bedrooms, three baths, a pool and 2,429 square feet of living area on 4.86 acres. The price per square foot is $109.10. The home at 4608 Holbrook Road sold for $203,000. Built in 1979, it has three bedrooms, three baths, a pool and 2,036 square feet of living area on 1.34 acres. The price per square foot is $99.71. The home at 3901 Joe Sanchez Road sold for $195,000.

Built in 1968, it has three bedrooms, three baths and 2,442 square feet of living area on 2.06 acres. The price per square foot is $79.85. The home at 3713 Keene Road sold for $162,200. Built in 1971, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,927 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $84.17. The home at 504 Son Keen Road sold for $160,000. Built in 1993, it has two bedrooms, two baths and 1,612 square feet of living area on 1.49 acres. The price per square foot is $99.26. The home at 5304 Stafford Road sold for $160,000 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 2001, it has three bedrooms, two baths, a pool and 1,911 square feet of living area on 9.82 acres. The price per square foot is $83.73. The home at 3905 Cason Road sold for $139,900 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1988, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 1,912 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $73.17. The manufactured home at 2301 Bruton Road sold for $115,000. Built in 2000, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,620 square feet of living area on one acre. The price per square foot is $70.99. The home at 3304 Murray Farms Road sold for $84,000.

Built in 1958, it has two bedrooms, one bath and 788 square feet of living area on one acre. The price per square foot is $106.60. The home at 4901 Calhoun Road sold for $75,000. Built in 1962, it has three bedrooms, one bath and 1,029 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $72.89. The home at 3402 Juanita Drive sold for $65,000. Built in 1965, it has three bedrooms, one bath and 875 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $74.29. The home at 3606 Drawdy

MONTHLY SNAPSHOT

Total Sales: $8,971,224 High Sale Price: $335,000 Low Sale Price: $29,000 Average Sale Price: $147,069 Median Sale Price: $139,900 Short Sales: Six REO/Bank Owned: 18

DAYS ON THE MARKET

Average Days on Market: 78 Zero to 30: 23 31 to 60: 11 61 to 90: Six 91-120: Five 120-plus: 15


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Road sold for $61,200 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1956, it has four bedrooms, three baths and 2,517 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $24.31. The manufactured home at 1020 E. Trapnell Road sold for $56,259 (REO/bank owned). Built in 2992, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,488 square feet of living area on 1.07 acres. The price per square foot is $37.81. The mobile home at 4911 Pandora Place sold for $43,700 (short sale). Built in 1996, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 1,674 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $26.11. The home at 906 N. Forbes Road sold for $40,000 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1964, it has two bedrooms, one baths and 944 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $42.37.

HISTORIC DOWNTOWN

The home at 915 Roux St. sold for $135,000 (REO/bank owned). Built in 1925, it has three bedrooms, two-and-onehalf baths and 2,798 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $48.25.

HOOKER’S SUBDIVISION

The home at 2305 W. Lowry Ave. sold for $43,000 (short sale). Built in 1955, it has two bedrooms, one bath and 640 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $67.19.

HUSSAR ACRES

The manufactured home at 1014 Whitelaw Road sold for $106,000. Built in 1999, it has five bedrooms, three baths and 1,728 square feet of living area on 1.24 acres. The price per square foot is $61.34.

ISABEL ESTATES

The home at 3512 Bell Farms Road sold for $250,000. Built in 2006, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 2,537 square feet of living area on 1.16 acres. The price per square foot is $98.54.

KENTWOOD PARK

The condominium at 2302 Maki Road, No. 79 sold for $54,000. Built in 1987, it has two bedrooms, one-and-onehalf baths and 920 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $58.70. The condominium at 2302 Maki Road, No. 85 sold for $53,000. Built in 1987, it has two bedrooms, one-and-onehalf baths and 920 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $57.61. The condominium at 2302 Maki Road, No. 97 sold for $37,919 (REO/bank owned). Built in 1987, it has two bedrooms, one-and-one-half baths and 920 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $41.22. The condominium at 2302 Maki Road, No. 51 sold for $29,900 (REO/bank owned). Built in 1987, it has two bedrooms, one-and-one-half baths and 896 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $33.37. The condominium at 2302 Maki Road, No. 23 sold for $29,000 (REO/bank owned). Built in 1987, it has two bedrooms, one-and-one-half baths and 920 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $31.52.

LITTLE ALAFIA CREEK ESTATES

The home at 1208 Alafia Bend Lane sold for $274,000. Built in 2006, it has four bedrooms, three baths, a pool and 2,596 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $105.55.

MAGNOLIA GREEN

The home at 3701 Crystal Dew St. sold for $75,000 (short sale; un-repaired sinkhole property). Built in 2007, it has four bedrooms, two-and-onehalf baths and 2,356 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $31.83.

MULRENNAN ESTATES

The home at 1410 Stephens Oak Court sold for $165,900 (short sale). Built in 1997, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,685 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $98.46.

OAKVIEW ESTATES

The home at 3014 Jim Johnson Road sold for $95,000 (REO/bank owned). Built in 1974, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,442 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $65.88.

TRAPNELL PLACE

The home at 3707 Kendrick Court sold for $287,500. Built in 2007, it has three bedrooms, three-and-one-half baths and 2,624 square feet of living area on 1.03 acres. The price per square foot is $109.57.

TRAPNELL RIDGE

The home at 3507 Harvest Orchard Drive sold for $152,000 (REO/bank owned). Built in 2006, it has three bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths and 1,845 square feet. The price per square foot is $82.38. The home at 3416 Trapnell Ridge Drive sold for $150,000. Built in 2006, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 1,911 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $78.49.

WALDEN LAKE

The home at 3040 Sutton Woods Drive sold for $315,000. Built in 2000, it has four bedrooms, three baths, a pool and 2,554 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $123.34. The home at 2407 Clubhouse Drive sold for $300,000. Built in 1995, it has four bedrooms, three baths, a pool and 3,016 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $99.47. The home at 2911 Clubhouse Drive sold for $280,000. Built in 1996, it has five bedrooms, three baths, a pool and 2,927 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $95.66. The home at 2919 Spring Hammock Drive sold for $275,000. Built in 2000, it has four bedrooms, three baths, a pool and 2,575 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $106.80. The home at 2800 Cypress Court sold for $240,000 (short sale). Built in 1997, it has five bedrooms, four baths, a pool and 3,460 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $69.36. The home at 3015 Pine Club Drive sold for $210,000. Built in 1988, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 2,279 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $92.15. The townhouse at 2322 S. Fairway Drive sold for $160,000. Built in 1987, it has three bedrooms, three-and-one-half baths and 2,123 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $75.37. The home at 1906 Poplar Court sold for $160,000. Built in 1977, it has four bedrooms, two baths and 1,954 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $81.88.

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feet first by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

WALDEN WOODS

The townhouse at 731 Ashentree Drive sold for $140,000. Built in 2010, it has three bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths and 1,805 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $77.56. The townhouse at 744 Ashentree Drive sold for $140,000. Built in 2009, it has three bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths and 1,594 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $87.83. The townhouse at 1943 Greenwood Valley Drive sold for $123,000. Built in 2009, it has three bedrooms, three baths and 1,572 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $78.24. The townhouse at 2050 Greenwood Valley Drive sold for $115,000. Built in 2008, it has three bedrooms, three baths and 1,572 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $73.16. The townhouse at 2043 Greenwood Valley Drive sold for $80,000 (REO/bank owned). Built in 2008, it has three bedrooms, two-and-onehalf baths and 1,572 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $50.89.

WATKINS PLATTED

The home at 4907 Drawdy Road sold for $88,000 (short sale). Built in 1984, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 1,596 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $55.14.

Knights Baptist Church was ready to pound the pavement for this year’s Walk for Life.

Walkers lace up for Pregnancy Care Center’s Walk for Life

The Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City held its annual Walk for Life April 12, at Plant City Hall. The walk challenges participants to pound the pavement for two miles to raise money for the center, which provides pregnancy and parental counseling. Center Executive Di-

The home at 2715 Holly Bluff Court sold for $212,990. Built in 2013, it has four bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths and 2,392 square feet. The price per square foot is $89.04. The home at 2819 Holly Bluff Court sold for $199,990. Built in 2013, it has four bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths and 2,045 square feet. The price per square foot is $97.79.

Jamie Davis, Taryn and Laura Storter

THIS WEEK’S CROSSWORD ANSWERS

The home at 2304 Gatewood St. sold for $147,000 (REO/ bank owned). Built in 1984, it has three bedrooms, two baths, a pool and 1,561 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $94.17.

WALDEN POINTE

WALDEN RESERVE

The home at 3409 Walden Reserve Drive sold for $206,865. Built in 2014, it has three bed-

rector Darlene Davis and the rest of the staff hope the walk not only raises money for the center but also awareness for the cause. The center offers pregnancy tests, parenting support, adoption options and abortion alternatives information, and other services — all for free. Sue Davis and Nancy Miller

WHISPERING WOODS

WALDEN LAKE EAST

The home at 1807 Via Palermo St. sold for $231,315. Built in 2014, it has four bedrooms, three baths and 2,274 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $101.72. The home at 1806 Via Palermo St. sold for $216,990. Built in 2013, it has three bedrooms, two baths and 2,154 square feet of living area. The price per square foot is $100.74.



2013

THIS WEEK’S CRYPTOGRAM ANSWERS 1. The conceited trumpeter boasted he was the best player in the orchestra. The conductor commented: “You do well, but you don’t need to blow your own horn.” 2. A farmer got tired of being woken early in the morning. He told the offender: “Watch out. Your chickens are about to come home to roost!”

Sean and Katy Wibert




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OBSERVEROBITUARIES Edna Catherine Barton

Edna Catherine Barton, 92, died March 31, 2014. She was born in Plant City and was a lifelong resident of the area. For many years, she was a volunteer at Plant City Health Care and at First United Methodist Church. She was predeceased by her husband, Victor Barton. Survivors include her daughter, Julia Russell, of St. Augustine; a sister, Grace Yancey; and a brother, Robert Tickel, both of Plant City. A memorial service was held April 6, at First United Methodist Church, Plant City. Memorial donations may be made to Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, P.O. Box 6299, Deltona, FL. 32728. Online condolences may be made to the family at wellsmemorial.com.

Sarah Elizabeth Davis

Sarah Elizabeth Davis, 88, of Plant City, died April 1, 2014. She was born in Dothan, Ala. Mrs. Davis was a member of Polk City Baptist Church, enjoyed gardening and crafts, was an avid collector, a fabulous cook, and was loved by all. Survivors include one son, Jim Davis (Mary); one daughter, Loretta Clark; nine grandchildren, Debbie, Terry, Brenda, Lisa, Mark, Kimberly, Jason and David, Kelley; and several great- and great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Arthur Lee Davis; son, Bill Bailey; and grandsons, Clifford and Rodney. A funeral service took place April 4, at Wells Memorial and Event Center, Plant City. Burial followed at Hopewell Memorial Gardens. Online condolences may be made to the family at wellsmemorial.com.

Waldemar Kazimierz Dyk

Waldemar (Walter) Kazimierz Dyk died March 31, 2014. He was born Jan. 5, 1955, in Gdynia, Poland, to Zbyszek and Aleksandra (Berger) Dyk. With his sister, Jasia, they emigrated in 1961, to the United States. In 1972, at age 17, he joined the U.S. Marines, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, and served until 1978.

In 1977, he met Nancy (Alcorn) at college and married her later that year. They were married for more than 36 years. Mr. Dyk attended Polk Community College and the University of South Florida, and worked for several companies over the years, the last being for Engineered Control Systems as a territory manager. He valued hard work, discipline and could teach himself anything he wanted to know. Mr. Dyk will be remembered for his work ethic, breadth of knowledge, fighting spirit and impartible humor. Mr. Dyk became a U.S. citizen in 1981 and always felt this was the greatest country in the world. The pride of his life were his two children, Lyndsey, 22, and Christopher, 19. Both currently attend Southeastern University, in Lakeland. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Dyk; two children, Lyndsey and Christopher; mother, Aleksandra Fidera; sister, Jasia Dyk; his mother-in-law; Phyllis Alcorn; and his two faithful dogs. A Celebration Of Life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at Horizon Christian Church, 1720 S. St. Cloud Ave., Valrico, FL. 33594. Arrangements under the direction of Wells Memorial and Event Center. Online condolences may be made to the family at wellsmemorial.com.

Purvis Harlon Ham

Purvis Harlon Ham, 99, died April 6, 2014. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 76 years, Elsa Andrews Ham; and son-in-law David Fulwood. The Hams served God at several Assembly of God churches in the Plant City area, ending their journey with the Rev. Daniel Braddock, at First Assembly of God, Plant City. Until about a month ago, Mr. Ham was seen regularly blowing leaves and cleaning the walkways for Sunday services. He is survived by children, David Purvis Ham (Faye Jenell), Delrece “Del” Fulwood and Lance Harlon Ham (Norma Gayle); eight grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at Hopewell Funeral Home, 6005 C.R. 39 S., Plant City. A Celebration of Life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, April 11. Interment at Hopewell Memorial Gardens, Plant City. He will be missed by his family and friends. A special thank you to the Rev. Braddock, his church family, attending

physicians and staff at Health Center of Plant City. Condolences may be made at wecare.io.

Allen McCoy

Allen McCoy, 61, of Plant City, died April 5, 2014. He is survived by his wife and soulmate of 26 years, Krysta; children, Shannon Lee McCoy and Kelli McCoy Coulter; and loving doggies, Cricket Lee and Mylee Ann. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bob C. and Wanda Lee McCoy. Condolences may be made at wecare.io.

Gail E. Norris

Gail E. Norris, 89, of Plant City, died April 1, 2014, at Valencia Hills Health and Rehab Center, in Lakeland. Born Sept. 18, 1924, in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was the daughter of the late John Knowles and Evelyn Deskalla Knowles. The family will be having private services. Online condolences may be made to the family at haughtfuneralhome.com.

Carol Short

Carol Short, 64, of Plant City, died April 2, 2014. She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Junior; children, Vicki Short, Scott C. Short (Ashley) and Tara N. Collins (Jon); parents, Wilson and Evelyn Smith; grandchildren, Tyler, Hannah, Jordan, Lindsi and Killian; and sisters Shari Rounds (Wesley) and Teresa Stewart (Robert). A Celebration of Life was held April 8, at Hopewell Funeral Home, Plant City. Condolences may be made at wecare.io.

Doris Linton Young

Doris Linton Young, 84, died April 4, 2014. She was a lifelong resident of Plant City and member for 68 years of the Plant City Church of God. She is survived by three daughters, Tannis Willaford, Carol Tinsley (Ed) and Kathy Speer (Terry), of Plant City; two sisters, Grace Singletary and Betty Brown (Raymond), of Lakeland; one brother, Dr. Charles Linton, of Jacksonville; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Mrs. Young is preceded in death by her husband, Ulma Young; a son, Ronald Earl Young; a great-granddaughter, Isabella Anne Albritton; and a great-grandson, Hunter Roush. Services were held April 4, at the Plant City Church of God, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at haughtfuneralhome.com.


Sports

YOUTH | HIGH SCHOOL | GOLF | COMMUNITY

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK

Durant’s Paxton Sims scored three runs versus Plant City. 12 SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM

THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014

PLANTCITYOBSERVER.COM

SIDELINES

MEETDURANT’S

GOLF

+ Start Smart Golf taking reservations

MISSCOUGAR

Now that the weather’s improving, it’s almost time for great golfing conditions. And, when that consistently nice weather rolls around, parents will have the chance to teach their kids how to play. Start Smart Golf, an introductory program for kids ages 5 to 7, is coming May 1 to June 5, to Plant City. Sponsored by the Recreation and Parks Department the program will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and will help parents teach their kids how to play the game in a noncompetitive environment, focusing instead on fundamentals and fun. Young golfers will get to use special, age-appropriate equipment in their lessons and won’t have to worry about losing or failing. Registrations are currently being accepted at the Planteen Recreation Center, 301 Dort St. The classes will be held at the department’s administration office, 1904 S. Park Road. The cost is $35 per parent/child team, and spots will be reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis. After Friday, April 25, registrations will no longer be accepted. For more information, contact Jason Hargrove, (813) 659-4256 or jhargrove@ plantcitygov.com.

Durant High School junior Payton Astin won this year’s Miss Cougar competition, and she is not the first in her family to do so. But, the road she took to get here may have been the toughest of them all.

F

ew people know the meaning of the phrase, “Hard work pays off,” quite like athletes do — especially the ones recovering from an injury. Don’t try to tell Payton Astin anything different. Astin, 16, entered Durant High School’s “Miss Cougar” competition and, on March 28, won both her division (lightweight) and the overall title. This came after months of hard work, brought on by the need to switch sports after a string of serious injuries.

CHEER CAREER

SOCCER

+ Skills contest coming soon

The 17th annual Optimist Soccer Tri-Star Soccer Skills Competition is almost here, and it’s not too late for kids to get involved. In fact, there’s no need to pre-register at all. Anyone ages 6 to 14 is allowed to compete in separate boys and girls divisions, and all they have to do is show up between 9 and 11 a.m. Saturday, April 26, on the west fields at Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex, 2402 E. Cherry St. Competitors in four age groups (6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-14) will have their dribbling, passing and shooting skills tested, getting points for each, and the top three point-scorers in each age group will get to take home some hardware. For more, call (813) 659-4255.

SOFTBALL

+ Lady Raiders Chargers get wins

Although the boys didn’t have much luck against Durant, the Lady Raiders did alright for themselves April 4. They picked up a 6-2 win over the Lady Cougars, moving Plant City up to first place in the district - a spot they share with Strawberry Crest. It was a good day at the plate for Lady Raiders Kacie Booth and Emily Register. Booth went 3-for-3 with three RBI, one run scored and a walk, while Register went 2-for-4 with two RBI, two runs, two stolen bases (on two attempts) and a double. Strawberry Crest’s Lady Chargers also ended district play Friday night with a big win. Except this was a 15-0 slobber-knocker against Tampa Bay Tech, which ended in four innings.

bodybuilding by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Payton Astin began bodybuilding after she tore her ACL as a cheerleader. Courtesy of Stephanie Humphrey Photography

Before Astin broke into the local bodybuilding scene, she already was in pretty good shape. Her first true love was cheerleading and, as a natural athlete, loved to tumble. Most recently, she was a part of the Oldsmar-based Cheer Express AllStars outfit. “Cheerleading was not just a sport to me, it was a passion,” Astin says. “Being on a Level 5 competitive team gave me the opportunity to travel and compete all over the country. My team has won national competitions and awards.” Everything was going well for her, until one cheer practice in May 2013. Astin was working on her tumbling, as usual, when something went wrong. She lost her balance fell,

and was knocked unconscious upon landing. Doctors diagnosed her with a severe concussion, which meant that she would have to spent at least two months on the sideline. “It was a very scary experience,” Astin says. “I had to miss the last three weeks of school, because my everyday activity was affected.” According to the Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation, a severe (Grade 3) concussion is treated as an emergency. These concussions can lead to unwanted longterm affects, depending on the severity, and can cause dizziness, insomnia, concentration and memory difficulties, and headaches, among other things. Astin spent eight weeks on the outside looking in before she was cleared to return to the sport. When she came back, she was all business. “I trained rigorously to get to the same level I was before my concussion, as well as to master a full,” she says. Within a few months, she was tumbling fearlessly again. But, while she was working on mastering that full, she landed herself

Payton Astin is both the 2014 Lightweight winner and Miss Cougar.

SEE ASTIN / PAGE 12

WHAT’S ON KLINE’S MIND?

My persistent bad luck with Tampa Bay teams I don’t know what I was derestimated the teams’ final expecting. score total. This year, though, Every year, I do all of the my bracket was full of strikesmart-sports-guy analysis outs — it looked a lot like the stuff that most in my profeslegendary facemask of hockey sion do when filling goalie Gerry Cheevers. out my NCAA tournaOf my Final Four ment bracket: hours of teams, only one reresearch, video study mained after the Elite and arguing with other Eight: Florida. I had one sports guys over things bracket pool where I like, “How the heck is picked them to win it anyone supposed to all and, by this time, it stop Creighton’s ofwas the only one I had fense?” a chance to win. It was JUSTIN As usual, I thought going to be tougher than KLINE I had all the answers a $2 steak, but I said a one day, and then the few words together that underdogs had their way with I probably shouldn’t have. my bracket shortly afterward. “Because they’re my only I normally do fairly well in my Final Four team left, I’m rootpools, either placing in the ing for the Gators,” I texted a middle or blowing the chamfriend. pionship game, because I unI’ve historically had ter-

rible, horrible luck pulling for Florida teams, especially the ones close to Tampa Bay. I don’t know why, and I’m not always bothered by it, but there are times when it does affect me. Like Florida/UConn Round III, one of the two Final Four matchups. Nevermind that UConn has one of the most lethal guard combos in the country, or the fact that they had already beaten the Gators more than once this season. Florida was bigger, stronger, more consistent and, doggone it, they were going to get

revenge and help me win one of my pools. Until they didn’t, losing 63-53. Before that, it was the football team. I had picked the Gators to win the 2013 Sugar Bowl and 2008 Capital One Bowl, like I did in every bowl game they had played since 2007. The only difference between these and the other bowl games is the fact that I was watching them, and they lost each time to an inferior opponent. I also watched nearly every one of their games in the 2013 season, which most of you probably

This year, though, my bracket was full of strikeouts — it looked a lot like the legendary facemask of hockey goalie Gerry Cheevers.

still don’t want to talk about right now. If we’re moving from league to league, I had predicted that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would do fairly well in 2013, perhaps even winning the division by surprise. I watched all of their games through the first half of the season, even though I figured they would be terrible after watching them choke away the New York Jets game on a boneheaded defensive play. When I told people that I would rather have Josh Freeman quarterbacking the Bills instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Freeman started to look like he forgot how to play football. When I saw the new helmet

SEE KLINE / PAGE 14




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3ODQW&LW\2EVHUYHUFRP KLINE / PAGE 11 back in the hospital in August. At the end of one attempt at a full, she landed awkwardly. This time, it was her knee: The landing tweaked her ACL. Doctors confirmed that Astin’s ACL was torn and required surgery — which meant no cheering for at least one year. She was devastated but had no other choice. Her surgery in November was successful, and she began to go to physical therapy three times a week. But, as an athlete, sitting around the house all day just wasn’t going to cut it.

FAMILY AFFAIR

It’s just difficult for many athletes coming off a major knee injury to find something that they can do to stay in shape and have fun. Most sports, whether contact-filled or otherwise, are out of the question for much of the athlete’s rehabilitation period. After all, they’re supposed to be spending rehab time strengthening the muscles, getting their agility and range of motion back. Which is where Astin’s sister, Madison, came into the picture. Like her younger sister, Madison also won Miss Cougar in her junior year — 2012. Before that, the girls’ aunt, Ashley, won the inaugural event in 2004. There was still plenty of time between the surgery and the 2014 competition for training, so Madison encouraged her sister to try it out.

“I am a very driven and athletic person, and wanted to find a sport that I was physically able to do while I was recovering,” Astin says. “Madison suggested competing in Miss Cougar, and I thought it would be a perfect fit.” It was. The new workouts satisfied Astin’s desire to compete, even if she was only competing against herself, and did not negatively interfere with her knee rehab schedule. Over time, she really grew to love what she was doing — even though she still hadn’t done the Durant competition yet. “I’ve really enjoyed being able to see my body change as a result of my workouts and dieting,” she says. And, of course, she got plenty of help from her family along the way. Her mother, Buffy, trained her the entire time, coaching and motivating her whenever she needed it. Madison and the rest of the Astin family served as what she called a great support system. She planned her routine carefully, blending both dance and fitness poses in any way that would maximize her muscle definition onstage. Although a bodybuilder’s routine isn’t nearly as physically taxing as a cheerleader’s, it still takes a lot of work to get it right: Fitness judges grade competitors much like cheer judges evaluate their competitors. At the end of competition night, Astin walked off the stage with a pair of big trophies and an even bigger smile.

“Winning the title of Miss Cougar is an honor, and I am so happy my hard work paid off,” Astin says.

NINE MORE MONTHS

Although the Cougar competition is now out of the way, Astin isn’t done with bodybuilding — she says she’s been approached about competing in a professional figure competition and is seriously considering entering. But, as of right now, that’s not set in stone — she still has much more physical therapy ahead of her. And also, there’s school. Missing the final three weeks of her sophomore year was not something Astin wanted to do, and she takes her studies seriously. She’s already planning on going away to college and majoring in business but doesn’t have a school in mind yet. “She is an amazing young lady,” Durant AVID Coordinator Courtney Singletary says. “Great grades, leadership and heart.” Most importantly, though, is a return to cheerleading. Although many people would be discouraged from returning to the sport after suffering injuries such as hers, Astin doesn’t even blink when asked if she’s planning a comeback. “Absolutely,” she says. “I have to complete nine months of physical therapy and, once I have fully recovered, my doctor will clear me to start back.” Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobserver.com.

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM

PAXTON SIMS Durant baseball has been on a bit of a tear since losing 10-2 April 1, at Strawberry Crest, 10-2. The Cougars followed up an 11-4 beatdown on Tampa Bay Tech with a 10-0 shutout of Plant City April 4, caught on television by Bright House Sports Network. Although many Cougars had a great day, it was arguably Sims — who went 3-for-5 with three runs, two RBI and a double — that turned in the best individual performance. You all went out to Plant City on Friday, got on TV and played pretty well.What were you feeling out there? We were pretty confident. We beat them the first time we played them — here — and it was a big game. We knew that if we won that, we’d clinch the district, so it was a pretty big deal. We had (Ryan) Barfield on the mound; we knew he was going to come out and throw strikes. We just had to hit. And, that’s what we went out there and did. Did being on TV affect you guys in any way? More confidence, or less, than usual? We were all pretty much used to it from last year, being in states. We don’t mind the cameras; we just go out there and play like we do every day. Having the cameras out there is just a bonus. We just do what we’re supposed to do. You had a pretty great day in the plate.What was your approach? It was just depending on the situation. If I had a runner in scoring position, I was trying to score the runner. Whatever I can do to help the team win. But, I was just looking for pitches I could drive, and that’s what I got. The season is almost over, district play is over, and Durant’s in a good position

right now. How are you going to close out and transition to the playoffs? We’re looking to close out strong. We obviously want to win, and we want to go on a roll coming into districts. We can come in hot, win that first game after the first-round bye, and go on to win that district championship. What are some of your hobbies outside of baseball? Hanging out with the team. We have really good team chemistry here, because we all hang out. We do crazy stuff. Go fishing, hang out. … a bunch of crazy stuff. We play Xbox, “Call of Duty.” Tell me about fishing. We’ve got a few fishing spots. Can’t reveal the location, though — it’s pretty top-secret. Who catches the most fish, out of everyone on the team? Me. Absolutely me. Second-most, we’ll go with Luke (Heyer) or Jake Sullivan. Garrett Wright: He’s all talk. If you could have any one superpower, what would it be? Probably super strength, to make me hit the ball farther.


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FOOTBALL by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

VTO Combine showcases area’s top pigskin prospects

Quarterbacks and receivers crowded the field for some routerunning drills.

Sun ‘n Fun wasn’t the only air show April 5. Anyone who attended the VTO Football Combine at Plant City High School got to see for themselves, as some of the hundreds of participants could be seen diving through the air to make a catch. Dozens of fans lined the bleachers to watch the drills,

which were accompanied by hip-hop music and a PA announcer. There was 7-on-7 football, in addition to some entertaining man-to-man battles between receiver and cornerback, to keep things interesting for even the casual fan. In addition to several area athletes participating, there were also some local coaches — such as the Raiders’ Greg Meyer — who donned VTO gear and oversaw the drills. Right: Some of the cornerbacks were a step ahead of the wideouts.

Participants competed hard in the 7-on-7 action.

If that cone were a quarterback, it would have been terrified all day.

KLINE / PAGE 11 unveiling, I told everyone that the new uniforms would probably be awesome. Nope! The Miami Dolphins lose every time I watch them play, but I’m a Buffalo guy — I enjoy that. If we’re moving from sport to sport, I’ve been going to Tampa Bay Lightning games on and off for the past six years. Whether I go to watch my Sabres take them on or even go to root for Tampa to win, they lose. They’ve lost every single game I’ve ever attended at the Tampa Bay Times Forum — even Jan. 18’s game against the Sharks, when Martin St. Louis scored four goals and played like everyone around him was barefooted on the ice. Because of this, my friends have stopped inviting me to

go with them. I’m safe to bring to Rays games, because they’re 1-0 (a win over Kansas City) when I go to the Trop. But when they got to the World Series in 2008, I predicted they’d win in six games and ... well, that couldn’t have gone much worse. The only team that seems to be immune to me is Florida State’s football team, but maybe not — I reassured people before that controversial logo change that everything would be alright, and ... yikes. That thing looks like Mel Kiper Jr. in mid-sneeze. I’m hoping that, if nothing else, whatever strange curse I have on Tampa Bay professional sports teams is lifted soon, because it stinks to root for teams that seem doomed even before the opening whistle.


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WEATHER

WED.

April 2

0.02

THURS.

TEMPERATURES

April 3

0.02

FRI.

0.01

SAT.

April 5

0.00 0.00

MON.

April 7

0.01

TUES.

April 8

0.15

APRIL

TO DATE

.31 (2013: 1.29)

YEAR

TO DATE 4.76 (2013: 5.20)

HIGH 80 82 84 85 87 82 79

Thurs., April 10 Fri., April 11 Sat., April 12 Sun., April 13 Mon., April 14 Tues., April 15 Wed., April 16

April 4

SUN.



PLANT CITY

RAIN

(INCHES)

April 6

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SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES Thurs., April 10 Fri., April 11 Sat., April 12 Sun., April 13 Mon., April 14 Tues., April 15 Wed., April 16

SUNRISE 7:09 a.m. 7:08 a.m. 7:07 a.m. 7:06 a.m. 7:05 a.m. 7:04 a.m. 7:03 a.m.

SUNSET 7:51 p.m. 7:51 p.m. 7:52 p.m. 7:52 p.m. 7:53 p.m. 7:53 p.m. 7:54 p.m.

LOW 57 61 60 65 67 61 60

MOON PHASES

April 15

April 22

GRAPE TOMATO PRICES

SHIPPING POINT: CENTRAL AND SOUTH FLORIDA PACKAGES 20-pound cartons loose 12 1-pint containers

LOW $15.95 $7.95

HIGH $17.95 $9.95

March 30

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

April 7

, 3&

Reader Ashlee Bradberry, 20, sent us this close-up image of Plant City’s famous fruit. 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.

THAT’S ALL, FOLKS! By Mary Jersey | Edited by Timothy E. Parker

ACROSS 1 Drains, as of strength 5 Autumn mo. 8 Kid’s wheels 13 Public boulevard 18 Ingredient in lotions 19 Soft, white cheese 20 Big game 21 Take forcibly 22 Wall Street gambit 25 Consecrated (var.) 26 In a crazy way 27 Some holes in the head 28 Political candidate lineups 29 Buzzing insect 30 Fuel 31 Habitual tipplers 32 Washer cycle 33 Collect in one place (var.) 36 Kind of omelet 40 “Be silent,” musically 43 Balaam’s beast 44 Geological period 46 Dove utterance 47 Eye at the beach 48 Electric and moray 50 Some ticket writers 52 Side post of a door 53 Question signifying dismay 56 Twangy, as a voice 57 Carpet feature 58 Smooth out 59 Theban king of myth 60 “Frasier” character 61 Stadium level 62 Something rarely served? 63 Distribute (with “out”) 64 More than just worry 67 Offspring in a sty 68 Place for the clergy and choir 69 Request permission

72 73 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 86 91 92 93 94 97 100 102 104 105 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114

Athletic shoe attachment Last thing a stand-up comic wants to hear Lyme disease transmitter Pistol’s kickback Radiator output Indicate agony Colonizing creature Tremor Part of a speed limit Cry in a crowded hall? Brush aside Driver’s protector Upfront poker payment Red Cross fluids Turkish title of honor Gaping gullet Form of government of a social organization “That’s ___ to my ears” Lacking teeth Throat projection Where social graces are taught Soldier’s sword of old High-society roster Eating program Sofa parts Cold-weather coasters Wilma’s friend on “The Flintstones” Some cases for EMTs Well offering

DOWN 1 Indian honorific 2 “Home ___” (1990 movie) 3 Group after outlaws 4 ___ good example 5 End of a threat 6 Salt Lake or New York 7 Boston ___ Party

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

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 23 24 28 31 32 33 34 35 37 38 39 40 41 42 45 48 49 50 51 52 54 55 56 60 61 62

Yuletide door hanging “My kingdom for ___!” Make a donation “This ___ on me!” Word partnered with neither Make known in print Like italics Bird feeder fill It’s heard in the Highlands ___ for (picks) Blur, as vision Gold bar Boy Scouts make them Details, briefly Given to back talk Took an oath Measures of length Noted ancient Greek physician Captured again, as a hill PayPal currency Marc Antony, e.g. House of Lords member Word before crier or hall Another way to spell 93-Across Show support Brown alternative Gutter sites “. . . happily ___ after” Panacea Dream up Practical joke Bank robber’s job Well-armed mollusks Birth-related Relinquish, as an office Boat-deck wood Schmucks

© 2013 Universal Uclick

63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 73 74

Clifflike, flat-topped elevation Ennead less one Deli pancake Splinter groups, sometimes Foot cover Wallace or Noah “Author unknown” (Abbr.) Heroin, slangily Las Vegas gambling game End Eighth letter of the

75 77 81 82 83 85 87 88 89 90

Greek alphabet Spew forth Like much junkyard metal Money formerly spent in Albania Birdcage bar Mel of cartoon-voice fame Dropped in the post Give some help to Ill-tempered Police IDs Give off, as perspiration

94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 105 106

Certain New Zealander Molecular bits ___ corgi (dog breed) “___ in Boots” 400-meter track shape Service-station service Denver’s height Condo, for one Bagnold, the writer Spring event The ___ Four (The Beatles) Altar avowal

C RY P T O G R A M S 1 . F E T H WA H T K F T N F V L C B T F T V O W Z I F T N E T P Z I F E T O T I F B S Z Q T V K A F E T W V H E T I F V Z . F E T H WA N L H F W V H W C C TA F T N : “ Q W L N W P T S S , O L F Q W L N WA’ F AT T N F W O S W P Q W LV W PA E W VA .” 2. Z AZIUJI EHS SCIJY HA QJCLE XHRJL JZITN CL SWJ UHILCLE. WJ S H T Y S W J H A A J LY J I : “ X Z S F W H P S . N H P I F W C F R J LV Z I J Z Q H P S S H FHUJ WHUJ SH IHHVS!”




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04.10.14 Plant City Times & Observer  

04.10.14 Plant City Times & Observer

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