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See inside for this week’s photo contest winner.


OUR TOWN + Toot, toot! We don’t toot our horns often, but the Plant City Observer is now an awardwinning publication. The Plant City Observer this week won five awards in the Local Media Association’s 2013 Editorial Contest, a national competition. Our awards include: First place, Best Special Section: 2012 Football Preview: Under Construction Second place, Best Headline: Leave It To Beevor Second place, Best Photojournalism: Spirit of America Second place, Best Front Page Third place, Best Feature Photo: Spirit of America: Home

+ Win a weekend island getaway! The Plant City Observer, Keel and Curley Winery, Anna Maria Island Resorts and Costco Wholesale have partnered for the first Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival Blueberry Recipe Contest. All you have to do is submit your favorite blueberry recipe, along with a short paragraph why it is your favorite. Five finalists will present their dishes at 4:30 p.m. April 27, at Keel and Curley Winery, where a panel of celebrity judges will choose a grandprize winner. First place will receive a weekend getaway at an Anna Maria Island Resorts destination; second place will receive a case of Keel and Curley Blueberry Wine and an Exclusive Tour; third place will receive a $100 prize pack, courtesy of Costco Wholesale. Deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 21. To enter, visit our site,, and click on the Blueberry Recipe Contest ad. You may also email your entries directly to General Manager Michael Eng, meng@plantcityobserver. com.



Dirty truth Who knew that a little mud and obstacles could turn into a million-dollar industry? But, for huge mud runs, such as the Warrior Dash and Spartan Race, it has. “Adventure racing is very hot — like mud runs,” Eric Peer, race series president for Tampa’s Erro Events, said. That trend has led to an increase of mud runs in rural areas such as Plant City and Dover. Hog Wild has hosted three runs off Kirkland Road, in Dover. A fourth is planned for September. Romp in the Swamp will take place in October, in the Lower Green Swamp Preserve. Keel and Curley Winery hosted a mud run last year to benefit Morgan Pierce, who has childhood cancer. The newest race on the Plant City circuit is MudZilla. The 3.1mile race was designed by Mike Nelson and his brother, Steve Nelson. Steve is an ex-Marine and a daredevil adventurer who likes to skydive. Mike

By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Mike and Steve Nelson give the nitty gritty details of constructing the MudZilla mud run May 18. has organized the Strawberry Distance Challenge 5K for years. But building a mud run is a little different than organizing a simple jog over concrete. Partial proceeds from the MudZilla Mud Run will benefit The Youth Alliance, for which Mike is COO. The Youth Alliance is a non-profit organization that helps inspire students to excel academically. The alliance also helps to combat bullying by going to different schools and giving motivational speeches. Big names, including Harlem Globetrotter Seth Franco, have given speeches on The Youth Alliance’s behalf. Currently, the mud run is under construction and is being completed for its May 18 debut. So what does it take for a mud run to be successful? How do you even begin putting such a course together? Mike shared his experiences building MudZilla.

By the



Runners in each heat


Obstacles to date


Acres on the property


The amount for insurance for one day


Slides in MudZilla



Tires used in obstacles

MudZilla Mud Run

Amber Jurgensen

Mike Nelson designed the course. He also serves as COO of The Youth Alliance.

WHEN: May 18; assigned a heat; Elite races start at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. WHERE: Corners of Prevatt and Coronet roads SPECIAL PROMO: MUD70 COST: $69 until April 13; $79 April 14 to May 15; $89 walkups ONLINE: MudzillaMudRun or

INDEX Classifieds.......... 14


by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Migrant son earns spot at Harvard Durant High senior Jose Perez will attend the Ivy League school on a scholarship. Some people live their entire childhood in one house. Others may move one or twice. Durant High School senior Jose Perez has moved 57 times. The son of migrant workers, Perez and his family follows the harvest seasons around the eastern half of the United States. The schedule takes Perez and his siblings away from their Plant City schools for several months every year. But, that all will change for Perez in the fall. Last week, he was accepted to Harvard University. “I always wanted to go to Harvard,” Perez said. “I wanted to beat the stereotype. There’s more to being a migrant than just working.” Perez’s mother, Augustina, immigrated to the United States when she was 13, and his father, Jose Sr., when he was 18. They have always worked the fields. Plant City was an area they frequented for employment. When Perez was about 4 years old, his family moved to Plant City, making it their home base. “It’s a little town — quaint, quiet and relaxing,” Perez said. “By living a hectic life that causes you to move, you need a place to relax.” Perez and his siblings, Alicia and Angel, have grown up going to local schools for the first semester. At Christmas break, his family packs up their RV


NATIONAL TREND According to the most recent U.S. census data, Hispanic student enrollment has reach an all-time high. For the first time, the number of 18- to 24-yearold Hispanics enrolled in college exceeded 2 million. Hispanics are the largest minority group on the nation’s college campuses.

Vol. 1, No. 40 | One section

Crossword........... 13




Plant city observer

M ud z illa


Continued from Page 1

THE Obstacles

Do your research Mike has only participated in one mud run, but he has completed many interviews with avid mud runners to learn what works. “They love the mud,” Mike said. “They love the sticky, black mud or the clay. They’re not looking to just run a 5K.” The main demographic that has signed up for MudZilla so far has been women, ages 30 to 40. With the demographic, the obstacles are

challenging. But there is also an option to skip them. Still, there’s a consequence that will be enforced by volunteers, such as burpees or push-ups. “The challenges need to be doable,” Mike said. “We don’t want them to leave in an ambulance. We want them to leave tired.” Once the course is built, avid mud runners, who participate in 25 to 30 races a year, will run the course and offer a critique. Adjustments will be made in time for the public race.


In addition to the mud, obstacles are what differentiate a mud run from a normal 5K. The MudZilla Mud Run has 28 obstacles planned, with more in the works. A team of five has been busy building the challenges, which include inverted climbs, three slides, monkey bars, rope climbs, hay mountains, low-voltage shocks, barbwire and sprinting through a path of old junk cars. Three special obstacles will remain surprises. So far, the obstacles have cost about $5,000 to build. They must be built to withstand hundreds of runners.

Location, location, location Mud runs are all about the obstacles and getting down and dirty. Picking a property with features that will enable those challenges is key. Mike advises finding a property that has at least 60 acres. MudZilla is on a 100acre property owned by friend Kimbal Wetherington. Wetherington agreed to lend the property to help the charity.

PEREZ / 1 and truck to move, following the different harvest seasons. Then after three months, the family returns to Plant City, where the children can return to their original schools. Whether it’s weekends, vacation time or summers, any free time Perez gets is spent helping his family in the fields.

“Everything outside of school is considered family time,” Perez said. From cantaloupe to squash, the family has picked a variety of crops. Perez said cucumbers are the easiest, and tomatoes are the family’s specialty. With a deeply rooted love of learning, Perez taught himself to play the guitar, ukulele, saxophone, trumpet, baritone and

The most important element of the race is, of course, the mud. But, how do you get those sloppy mud pits to last heat after heat? They’re called slips. Slips are tarp-like sheets that are placed on the floor of a pit. Then, mud is put on top of the tarps. The tarps keep the mud from soaking into the ground and hardening in the sun. MudZilla has more than 1,600 feet of mud slip areas. For the mud, darker, black soil is the best. But when it comes to mixing thousands of gallons of water with the soil, it’s trial and error, until the consistency is right. The unknown outcome of the mix keeps the race exciting. Some pits will be more watery, while others will be thicker and clingier. “There’s not a whole lot of science to it,” Mike said.

About 1.85 miles of the run will take place in a wooded area. The property also has an open field and a cleared area, with piles of dirt the designers have nicknamed “mountains.” The different types of terrain make themselves perfect for different obstacles. “Runners are looking to be pushed, physically and mentally,” Mike said.

violin during his family’s long car trips. He also likes to write poetry and his own songs. At Durant, he is president of the Poetry Club and is in the Guitar Club. Along with his hobbies, his family always has encouraged him in academics. “They always wanted me to get an education,” Perez said. “They said ‘Go to school. It’s a great opportunity for you.’”

Perez has a passion for learning. He loves all subjects and has taken a plethora of Advanced Placement classes. “I had great teachers,” Perez said. “I owe it all to them. Without great teachers, there cannot be great students.” With a 6.13 grade-point average, Perez plans to go into law at Harvard. But he doesn’t want to declare a major until he ex-

periences his first year. “I am very proud,” Perez said. “It’s been my No. 1 school for quite a while. Now, I’m one step closer to my next goal. All the money and time my parents spent on me — I want to pay them all back for what they did for me.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

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Sunshine State Federal Savings Attention students, parents, Fred’s Southern Gourmet Catering alumni and friends!!! Hillsborough Community College - Plant City Campus Sunshine State Federal Savings Come out and support the Tampa Electric Company Fred’sGeorge Southern Gourmet Catering Durant High School Music Program & Cassandra Banning Hillsborough Community College – Plant City Campus by participating in our Hopewell Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens Annual Spring Golf Classic Verner Foundation Tampa Electric Company ABC & Fine Wines & Spirits There will be many on-course events When: Saturday April 20, 2013 George Cassandra Banning and it is sure to be a great day Yuengling Brewing Company Where: Bloomingdale Golfers Club Attention students, parents,and alumni of fun, fellowship helpingand friends!!! Hopewelland Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens Linda Smith, Event Coordinator 4113 Great Golfers Place a great organization!!! Come out and support theOther Durantsponsorships High School Music Program by participating in our Verner Foundation available. Valrico, FL 33594 We will gladly take any items for door photojournaliSm ConteSt SponSorS Annual Spring Golf Classic ABC Fine Wines & Spirits Time: 12pm Check-in and prizes, gift cards and any type Haught Funeral Home of corporate sponsorship. Shotgun start 1pm Yuengling Brewing Company $50 for a tee or green sign Plant City Observer Format: Four-Person Scramble When: Saturday April 20, 2013 $100 for a tee AND green sign and Linda Smith, Event Coordinator and Sherrie Mueller, Plant City High School Please contact Brian Tice for registraPrice: $75.00 per player-includes Where: Bloomingdale Golfers Club; 4113 Great Golfers Place Valrico, FL 33594 tion, how to sponsor and where to send College and Career Counselor greens fee with golf cart, range balls Time: 12pm Check-in and Shotgun startany 1pmdonated door prizes. and dinner afterwards. Email: 109672

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Plant city observer



fond farewell by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Longstanding chamber employees retire Nancy Benedict and Al Collinge have worked for the chamber for 15 years. Two of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce’s most recognizable employees have announced their retirements. Tourist Information Specialist Al Collinge and Communications Director Nancy Benedict, who combined have worked for the chamber for nearly three decades, both are leaving their posts to spend more time with their families. Benedict’s last day was April 3; Collinge will retire May 7.


If you’re a chamber member, chances are, you’ve read Nancy Benedict’s work. Benedict is the author behind virtually all of the chamber’s correspondence, including its newsletters, e-news blasts, special e-flashes and Good Egg of the Month biographies. Although her degree is in elementary education, Benedict’s gifts of writing and grammar have followed her throughout her professional life. Raised in Erie, Pa., Benedict graduated from Villa Maria Col-

lege. Before then, she attended a Catholic school. Benedict said the nuns instilled in her a sense of impeccable grammar. For seven years, Benedict taught third- and fifth-graders at various schools in Pittsburgh, Erie, Pa., and Camp Springs, Md. She then moved to Harrisburg, Pa., where she worked for 17 years, for the state at the office of the auditor generals. She was hired to perform clerical duties. But, once her office discovered she was a talented writer, Benedict added writing department manuals and teaching grammar and writing classes to inspectors to her job description. With just a couple of years before retirement, Benedict left Harrisburg for a warmer climate — Florida. Along with her husband, she moved in 1995, to South Pasadena. Three years later, they moved to Plant City. “We liked the small-town atmosphere,” Benedict said. Benedict wasn’t in town for a week, before she was volunteered



by friends to take a temporary position at the chamber. But when the permanent employee quit unexpectedly, Benedict’s temporary gig turned into a full-time occupation. For about five years, Benedict worked at the chamber, performing clerical and administrative tasks. But like her previous employment, the chamber soon tapped into her writing talents and enlisted her as its communications director. In addition to writing, Benedict has helped coordinate the Leadership Class, designed for business owners and employees to learn about the community.


It was the warm weather that attracted Al Collinge and his wife, SueAnn, to Florida in the 1990s.

But it was the welcoming citizens of Plant City that made them stay in the Sunshine State. “It just always felt like home,” he said. “I was able to work with so many people in the community.” Collinge, a 15-year chamber employee, will retire May 7, as the tourist information specialist. Collinge has a long track record of civic participation. Born in Zumbrota, Minn., Collinge studied business administration. After graduating in 1955, he worked for Firestone for two years. In 1957, he returned home to run his family businesses, which involved the coal, fuel, oil, feed, seed, farm machinery, hardware and trucking industries. During that time, he served as a volunteer firefighter. He spent 31 years on the force, 11 of those as the assistant fire chief. Collinge also entered the world of politics, serving on Zumbrota’s city council for 14 years. And from 1987 to 1996, he served as mayor. While living in Minnesota, Collinge and his family vacationed in Fort Myers. After his stint as mayor, Collinge and his wife looked to the south for the next chapter of their lives. A cou-

new digs by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor


Stingray completes $2.5 million renovation

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Snowden Park tests reveal no contamination

The Plant City Chevrolet dealership also celebrated Paul Harloff, the winner of its 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival raffle.

Renovations on the Plant City park will include new dugouts and additional landscaping and lighting.

Not many people who win a brand new Chevrolet Silverado pickup would give it up before ever taking a spin. But that is exactly what Palmetto resident Paul Harloff did. Harloff was the winner of this year’s Florida Strawberry Festival vehicle raffle from Stingray Chevrolet. With four vehicles already, including a Camaro and Silverado, Harloff decided not to take the truck. “I just don’t need any more vehicles,” Harloff said. “Not to mention, the truck wouldn’t fit into my garage. I’d hate for that nice of a truck to have to sit outside.” Although originally there was a “no cash value option” for the raffle, Stingray owner Steve Hurley made an exception for Harloff, presenting him and his wife, Soikaew, with a check for the value of the truck, during a presentation April 4.

Above: Paul Harloff, who already has a Camaro and a Silverado, said he “did not need any more vehicles.” Left: Don Johnson, vice president of sales and services for Chevrolet, presented Steve and Susan Hurley with a plaque to commemorate the re-opening.



Stingray Chevrolet celebrated its grand re-opening following a $2.5 million renovation. The improvements include remodeled bathrooms, expansions to the facility and showroom and improvements to the parts and services department, including the additions of computer stations. High-ranking Chevrolet executives from across the state and country were in atten-

ple in Fort Myers told the Collinges to look at Plant City as a possible new home. Shortly after moving to Plant City, Collinge volunteered to open the Union Station Depot Welcome Center. The doors opened Dec. 11, 1997. “I like the historic part of Plant City and the history of the railroad in Plant City,” Collinge said. In 1999, a position became available at the chamber. “Every day is a different day,” Collinge said of the position. “You meet a lot of interesting people from all over the world.” Collinge was also the coordinator for the Union Station Welcome Center and the Tourism Welcome Center on Park Road. “It’s a good feeling when you’re volunteering and can help give people directions and make their visit to Florida and to the Plant City area more enjoyable,” he said. Collinge will move back to Minnesota in May, to be closer to his family. “It’s hard to leave, but it’s time to move back to family and have a support system,” Collinge said. Contact Amber Jurgensen at

dance for the celebration. “This type of facility is what makes Chevrolet a proud company across the United States,” said Don Johnson, the VP of sales and service for Chevrolet. “It is a reflection of the broader resurgence of Chevrolet moving forward.” Representatives from Disney and the Florida Strawberry Festival were also in attendance. Stingray has partnered

with Disney as part of its “Everyday Hero” campaign. “We have had a great partnership with Disney over the years,” Hurley said. “The Florida Strawberry Festival has been such a critical partner in these giveaways. There is no way we could do what we do without them.” Bartow Chevrolet, run by Hurley’s son, Matt, also will be remodeled.

Stingray has been involved with charity raffles at the festival for the past five years and has raised $385,000 for Unity in the Community, a local non-profit organization. This was the first year Stingray has raffled a truck, after giving away Camaros the first three years. The majority of funds are raised from tickets, with additional money coming from donations from corporate sponsors. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.

With recent environmental site assessments on Snowden Park’s soil and groundwater complete, the city is closer to beginning a $50,000 renovation project. City Manager Greg Horwedel said the city received last month clean test results from Orlando-based PPM Consultants Inc., which performed in February a site assessment to determine whether the soil contained any contaminants, including petroleum products, volatile organic compounds or metals, such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromonium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver. Last month, it completed similar tests on the groundwater. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development required the assessments, because Snowden Park was constructed in the 1960s atop a former landfill. With the test results, the city now can move forward with its $50,000 proposal to install several new dugouts, more lighting and additional landscaping. The renovations will be funded through a community development program grant. “We’re excited to get going,” Horwedel said. Located at 902 Waller St., Snowden Park is one of 18 city parks. It was named July 24, 1967, in honor of Ronald L. Snowden, a young boy who died at age 10. The park features two lighted baseball fields. It also has bleachers, score booths, one lighted basketball court, three picnic pavilions, a playground with swings and a .4-mile paved walking trail with a .2-mile paved trail connector to Grant Street and the Grant-Hunter pond facility, known as the future Brewer Park, which is currently under construction. It is the city’s goal to create a network of parks that can be linked by trails. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@




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by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Multiple talents from local choirs and schools will come together for a night of celebration.

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Plant city observer


Concert for a Cure

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Peppy and youthful, Pim Sorber was diagnosed with cancer at just 32 years old. But the Jackson Elementary kindergarten aide won the battle. Now, two years later, she is doing whatever she can to help other cancer patients and survivors. With the help of some community choirs, she has organized Concert for a Cure, a fundraiser for Jackson’s Relay for Life team. “She’s really passionate about helping others with cancer,” Lesli Platt, concert organizer, said. “This concert is an offshoot of what she feels so strongly about.” Sorber and Platt belong to the same a cappella group, Spirit Singers. The 10-member group started in 2008 and has members ranging from 34 to 81 years old. The diverse group sings old gospel pieces, such as “Down to the River to Pray,” a song featured in the movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The singers also mix things up with doo-wops. Sorber invited the Spirit Singers to help put on the concert. The group agreed and will be singing seven songs during the concert, which takes place at the First United Methodist Church of Plant City. “We love to get out there and sing,” Platt said. “Our main goal is to help Jackson raise money for their relay team.” Jackson Elementary School fourth- and fifth-grade choir also will be performing. They will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “You Raise Me Up.” Safety patrollers from the school will also be donating their services by passing out brochures and ushering. Teachers will join the Spirit Singers and another group, The Beachcombers, an

Concert for a Cure Presented by the Spirit Singers and Friends of Jackson Elementary WHEN: 6 p.m. April 13 WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 303 N. Evers St., Plant City TICKETS: $6 at the door; $5 in advance at All A Bloom Florist, 116 N. Collins St.

all-female community choir, to perform, “When I Close My Eyes.” Several young soloists from area high schools and colleges will be performing songs as well, including “When the Saints.” A flutist and an organist will accompany the singers during some songs. A bake sale and refreshments will be offered during the concert, which will end with a candlelight memorial. “I don’t know one person who hasn’t been touched by cancer,” Platt said. Platt’s brother died this year from cancer, and her mother is a survivor. A member of the Spirit Singers also is battling lung cancer. “It touches all of us,” Platt said. “We’re doing this concert in support of our members who we love and anyone else battling cancer.” For advanced tickets, visit All A Bloom Florist, 116 N. Collins St., Plant City. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@

government by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross visited Plant City and Bartow last week.




local Amber Jurgensen

Plant City meets new congressman at City Hall Rep. Dennis Ross and his staff listened to questions from his constituents. LAKELAND :: WINTER HAVEN :: BARTOW :: RIVERVIEW


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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross spoke to a packed room April 5, at Plant City Hall during the congressman’s town hall meeting. Constituents were given a chance to comment and ask Ross, who was visiting from his office in Washington, D.C., ques-

tions about issues important to them. The discussion heated up when participants discussed gun control and immigration concerns. Ross made his stance clear on gun control, making a call for “personal responsibility” rather than stricter regulations. “Why should my rights be infringed on as a law-abiding citizen?” Ross said. Other hot topics included veteran benefits, the budget and health care.

Plant city observer



show of support by Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Participants made seven laps around the block for this year’s Walk for Life.

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

From left: Laura Storter, Hope Storter, Coleman Davis, Taryn Storter and Sue Davis

Pregnancy Care Center Executive Director Darlene Davis, with Coleman and Sue Davis

P werful

Kaden Athey, 3, checked out his face paint in a mirror.

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Supporters of the Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City enjoyed perfect weather and plenty of fellowship during the center’s annual Walk for Life April 6, at Plant City Hall. Walkers made seven laps around the block as part of this year’s fundraiser. Executive Director Darlene Davis said the 100 walkers raised $14,855, with another $1,840 in pledges. Money raised will help purchase a new ultrasound machine. The Knights of Columbus will match funds raised.

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“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.”


Sponsored by the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center, the Plant City Observer and Haught Funeral Home, the contest was open to all students at Plant City High School. The assignment: Use at least one picture to tell a story. The subject: Whatever you can dream up. The field: Photojournalism. Students from Plant City High School were challenged by the Plant City Archives and History Center to enter a photojournalism contest that would inspire photographs and infuse history into one report. Participants submitted a 300- to 600-word story, along with related photographs. All winners received a cash prize and were recognized last week during a special presentation.

Founding Publisher / Felix Haynes

Assistant Managing Editor / Jess Eng, Associate Editors / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@; (Sports) Matt Mauney, mmauney@PlantCityObserver. com Advertising Executive / Veronica Prostko, Advertising Coordinator / Linda Lancaster, Accounting Manager / Petra Kirkland, Advertising-Production Operations Manager / Kathy Payne, kpayne@ Advertising-Production Coordinator / Brooke Schultheis, bschultheis@ Advertising Graphic Designers / Peter Carlson, pcarlson@yourobserver. com; Monica DiMattei, mdimattei@; Marjorie Holloway,; Luis Trujillo,; Chris Stolz,


The Plant City Observer is published once weekly, on Thursdays. It provides free home delivery to several neighborhoods in Plant City. The Plant City Observer also can be found in many commercial locations throughout Plant City and at our office, 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-A. If you wish to discontinue home delivery or if you wish to suspend home delivery temporarily, call Linda Lancaster at 704-6850.

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

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by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Photo archives names contest winners

Friedrich Hayek “Road to Serfdom,” 1944

General Manager and Managing Editor / Michael Eng, meng@PlantCityObserver. com



As a pole vaulter, Hardee’s interests didn’t lie in photography. But when the sophomore saw his younger brother entering photography contests, he thought, I can do that, too. Hardee proved himself right, winning first place in the photojournalism contest. Hardee wrote a report on the historic Bing Rooming House, after interviewing William Thomas, a member of the Improvement League of Plant City who is spearheading restoration efforts on the house. “Being born in 1998 and growing up mainly in the 21st century, it is hard for me to fathom a time when people were segregated by anything in this country,” Hardee wrote. He submitted old photographs of the house and one of original owner Janie Bing. He also submitted a photograph he took of the house and one his grandmother took of him with Thomas. “I thought it was cool how the Bings bought the house for just $100,” Hardee said. For winning first place, Hardee received $100. He plans to save the money.

Benjamin R. “Robby” Knox

Robby Knox is a veteran at the photojournalism contest. Last year, he won first place for his report on his great-grandfather. Knox got his start looking through his grandmother’s photographs. He found one that particularly interested him: a picture of a prison transport bus in front of what is now a Dollar General store. He learned his great-grandfather was a car salesman. He was selling the transport bus to the police department. This year, the high school senior returned to his grandmother’s house to find another picture. He stumbled upon a picture of his grandmother with her Sunday School class on the steps of the Plant City Cornerstone Center. In his report, he wrote about the history of the building and his family’s ties to the building. “I like American history,” Knox said. “I like local history, too. It really intrigues me finding out where I came from.” Knox’s $75 prize “is already in the bank.” He plans to use it to pay for tuition at the University of Central Florida.

Sydney Johnson

As a junior, Sydney Johnson knew it was time to start looking for scholarships for college. That’s when she discovered the Scholarship Board in College and Career Counselor Sherrie Mueller’s room. Pinned on the board was the photojournalism contest. Johnson borrowed her mom’s Nikon D5100 and headed to Plant City’s Historic Downtown to do some exploring. At first, she thought she would do her report on Sister’s & Company, one of her favorite stores. But while playing with the advanced SLR camera, she snapped the perfect photograph of The Corner Store. “At first it was hard; I couldn’t focus it,” Johnson said. “It just happened to be that I clicked the right button.” Johnson then whipped up a more personal story in her report. “I described the scenery of The Corner Store,” Johnson said. “It just feels like home there.” Johnson plans to save her $50 prize for college. She wants to go to Washington State University, because of its veterinary program.

Past and Presence: Hillsborough community campus

The story behind the Plant City campus The story of the Plant City cam- Plant City people wanted a colpus of Hillsborough Community lege campus and were committed College begins in July 1967, when to getting one. The East Hillsborofficials decided the new Hillsough Chamber of Commerce borough Junior College would (now the Greater Plant City consist of multiple campuses. Chamber of Commerce) was perThe master plan for the cresuaded by Roy Thacker, president ation of junior colleges throughof Sunshine State Federal Savings, out Florida was developed by to form an Education Committee the state government in 1957. to promote Plant City. The intent was to alleviate some The chamber committee of the pressure on the four-year included Thacker, as chairman, state colleges and univerHilman Bowden, Carl sities and provide twoCarpenter, Bud Clark, year institutions, both as Arlen Cruttenden, George educational facilities for Friend, John Glaros, Dr. certificate training and R.M. Kafka, Dr. W.M. AA degrees and as portals Midyette, Henry Moody, into the four-year instiJames L. Redman and tutions. With no overall William Rickert. Carl organization overseeing Carpenter was a school the establishment of the board member and was GIL junior colleges in Florida, responsible for nominatGOTT the school districts were ing Dick Elston for the charged with setting up Hillsborough Junior Colthe schools. lege Advisory Committee. The Hillsborough County Promoting Ybor City was School District submitted names Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and the to the State Board of Education Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, to create a new, five-member and promoting Brandon was Paul Hillsborough Junior College Funderburk and the Brandon Advisory Committee. The five, ap- Chamber of Commerce. proved Sept. 26, 1967, were James District board members who Gray, a bank executive; Kendrick were involved directly included Hardcastle III, an engineer; Gibbs Bob Bondi, chairman of the board Harris, a title company executive; who favored both Ybor and Plant James Ray Thompson, a rancher; City, and Carl Carpenter, a Plant and Dick Elston, an insurance City native, who later was elected man, who was also served as as a county commissioner and Plant City’s mayor. then state representative. Soon, it became apparent that The college president, Dr. Wilthe responsibility of selecting liam Graham, who came from St. the sites for the multi-campus Louis, and HJC Advisory Commitcollege became a highly charged tee chairman Kendrick Hardissue. The debates focused on castle, reportedly were opposed how many campuses, and where to both Ybor City and Plant City the permanent sites would be as permanent campuses. located. Areas of interest included On April 18, 1968, the Hillsan urban center in Tampa and borough Junior College Advisory sites where future population Committee held its first meeting. growth was projected. Attendees included the five adviTo better understand the story, sory committee members, three let’s review the main players. school board members, seven

people from Plant City, Superintendent Dr. Shelton and the press. Warren Johnson wrote: “Two things that did come out of that historic first meeting … proved to be quite important. The first was that the Plant City group demonstrated their tenacity by starting the lobbying effort that eventually landed them one of the first three sites. Second, Carl Carpenter proved his interest in the junior college. … Over the years, (Carpenter) intersected with the history of Hillsborough Community College in more ways than most people could ever know.” On July 1, 1968, the HJC Advisory Board became the Hillsborough Junior College Board of Trustees. Hardcastle was elected chairman; Elston persevered as a member of the board. On July 18, the Brandon chamber issued a statement objecting to any site selection prior to the completion of a professional study. That report was not favorable to Brandon but was glaringly unfavorable to Ybor City and Plant City. Dick Greco began lobbying for Ybor City, and the Plant City group worked to present a strong case for its selection. Elston, Nettie Draughn (City of Plant City) and others in the group put together a package that included close to the “required” 100 acres on North Park Road. Another report showed Brandon with three locations in the top nine. Plant City continued to work to promote its location. The state inspection team came to Plant City for direct observation. Dick Elston and Horace Hancock made their case over dinner. Alex Hull and Frank Moody appeared at the board of trustees meeting to promote Plant City. Two changes took place on the board of trustees. Alton White, an African-American and

Model Cities official, was appointed to replace Thompson, who resigned, and John Guyton, friend of then-Gov. Claude Kirk, was also appointed. Elston was returned to the board and was elected chairman. Elston, White and Guyton replaced the influence of Hardcastle and Graham. Morton Shanberg, who had been vice president, replaced Graham as president. Although there were many more meetings, the result was that there would be three campuses, with the possibility of more. The flagship would be on Dale Mabry on a state-owned site. An urban campus would be built in Ybor City, and the third campus would be in Plant City on an 80acre site on North Park Road. On Dec. 9, 1970, the name changed to Hillsborough Community College. The 1971, classes started in Plant City in a renovated Publix store on South Collins Street, (known locally as Publix University), and the 80-acre site was dedicated as Plant City’s permanent site on Sept. 11, 1972. Johnson wrote: “If Frank Moody, Alex Hull, Horace Hancock and Dick Elston got the campus in Plant City in the first place, then Hilman Bowden got the buildings.” Bowden was appointed in 1971, to the board of trustees and served until 1981. The groundbreaking for the first building took place Oct. 7, 1976. Sources: Warren Johnson, A View From The Inside, privately published, 1995; Quintilla Geer Bruton and David E. Bailey, Jr., “Plant City; Its Origin and History,” privately published, 1984; Richard Elston papers and interview. Gil Gott is executive director of the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center.

Plant city observer


Michael Eng

Police Chief Steven Singletary took the oath of office with his wife, Courtney, by his side.

Singletary sworn in as Plant City’s new police chief The 16-year veteran of the Plant City Police Department replaced outgoing Chief Bill McDaniel. Assistant City Manager Bill McDaniel calls it The Longest Walk. It’s the path officers must take from sitting in front of the police chief’s desk to taking the chair behind it. For new Police Chief Steven Singletary, The Longest Walk lasted 16 years. In front of several dozen officers, friends, family members and city officials, Singletary replaced officially McDaniel as chief of the Plant City Police Department during an investiture ceremony April 8, at Plant City Hall. McDaniel and City Manager Greg Horwedel honored Singletary in front of a packed auditorium. “I am absolutely delighted to have him as part of our leadership team in Plant City,” Horwedel said. “When you make a sword, you need good steel. And I think we have good steel here leading our department. He’s the right man, at the right time, for the job.” Singletary joined the department in 1996, as a patrol officer. Since then, he has held a myriad of positions, including field training officer, a post in the Street Crimes Unit, the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, the Criminal Investigations Unit and more. Singletary was serving as captain before he took over as interim chief four months ago. “It’s been my pleasure to know Steve the last 16 years,” McDaniel said. “The police department has been my baby for a long time, and I am completely comfortable to say my baby is in very good hands.” Singletary took the oath of office with his wife, Courtney, by his side. “I am truly honored to be the chief of the Plant City Police Department,” he said. Contact Michael Eng at

NEWSBRIEFS + Two landmark Plant City properties have new owners Two of Plant City’s most recognizable properties have new owners. Stine Properties III LLC purchased in February Smithfield Foods’ Plant City plant, 4611 Lykes Road, for $337,500. And last month, City Adventures LLC closed on the Knotts Hardware building, 314 S. Collins St., for $210,000. Both Stine Properties and City Adventures are Plant City-based entities. Smithfield Foods’ 170-squaree-foot factory was one of Plant City’s largest employers before it closed in September 2009. At that time, it employed 760. According to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser records, the taxable value of the factory is $1,792,434. City Adventures officer John Helton, said his company has purchased several buildings in Plant City’s Historic Downtown District. Currently, the company is working to renovate the Knotts building to prepare it for a new use.


City manager provides sneak peek at upcoming State of the City report In a country founded on the premHorwedel began with a reaffirmaise of federalism, the organizational tion of our city’s low tax rates. Plant effectiveness and fiscal health of all City is run like a business. That comlevels of government are vital. Under mitment has been good in the past, federalism, the United and it extends into the future. States has three levels of But the city also recognizes government: national, state its responsibility to provide and local. Unlike many services in support of business countries, we divide the and residents, building on the important public functions community’s assets. among these levels, so each One asset that has been level can better focus on the developed over the past 15 years services and activities it does is the Plant City Stadium and provide. Randy Larson Four-Plex. First FELIX Much has been written in established as the spring trainHAYNES the national and state media ing complex for the Cincinnati about the current condition Reds, the stadium morphed into of the finances of some American an international softball venue. states, counties and cities. High tax In 2013, the city has returned to this rates, borrowing, unsustainable comimportant sports asset and developed mitments to public employee union a new plan for the future. Youth soccer pension plans and deficit spending has grown at a fast pace over the past are usually a part of the picture, with decades, fueling the development of bankruptcy the feared outcome. the sport on a professional level. In And then there’s Plant City. the short term, the city has leased the Members of Plant City’s Downtown stadium for six months to VSI Tampa Luncheon Club were treated last week Bay FC. It also has issued a Request to a sneak peek at ongoing and new for Proposal for all organizations to plans and on the city’s fiscal health by bid on the facility. The bid is wideCity Manager Greg Horwedel. open, which allows the city to negoti-

ate and tweak the winning proposal. Horwedel then moved to a host of other new directions the city will follow to improve services. The city will continue to invest $1 million per year in repaving projects for roads, with our vehicles and the cost of maintaining them being the chief beneficiaries of that investment. That, and other expenditures, will place the city high among area municipalities in spending for facilities maintenance. Another major area of emphasis in the future, as East Hillsborough real estate leads the way in our area’s emergence from recession, will be a set of actions to recharge the city’s Midtown redevelopment project. The Plant City Observer commends Horwedel and our five city commissioners — Mayor Mike Sparkman, Vice Mayor Mary Yvette ThomasMathis, Rick Lott, Bill Dodson and Billy Keel — for leading our beloved city. We do not expect to ever see Plant City in the national news as an example of another poorly managed city edging toward bankruptcy. Felix Haynes is an owner of the Plant City Observer.

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+ Downtown association plans Spring in the Park The Plant City Downtown Merchants and Business Association will usher in the season with its Spring in the Park event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 13, at McCall Park, in Historic Downtown Plant City. The event will include everything from art and antiques to crafts and food.


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Plant city observer



moved in 1954, to Plant City, to start his business as a building contractor, A.E. Cole Inc. During his career, he was involved in the Plant City Homebuilders Association, The Tampa Homebuilders Association, & the Tampa Apartment Association. He built or owned apartments, including LeBon, Devonshire, Eastborne, Coronation Court Apartments and others, under the name Cole Properties, which will be continued by his family. He loved golf and played for many years at the Plant City Golf and Country Club, before becoming a charter member of the Walden Lake Golf and Country Club. Survivors include his beloved companion of 16 years, Betty Merritt; brothers, George (Sharon) and Larry; daughters, Yolonda Cole, Shireen Granger (John), Cara Stare (James); five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews and their families.

Mary Ellen Butler, 70, of Plant City, died March 26, 2013, at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. Born Nov. 15, 1942, in Louisburg, N.C., she was the daughter of the late John Ayscue and the late Mary Ellis Ayscue. Survivors include her son, John Jeffery Brownlee; and brother, John R. Ayscue Jr. She was preceded in death by her sons, Gregory A. Brownlee and Stephen Mark Brownlee. Condolences may be made at

Albert “Al” E. Cole

Albert “Al” E. Cole, 89, of Plant City, died April 1, 2013. Born March 25, 1924, in Pennsylvania, he was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie Koscur Cole, in 1995, and his brother, Melvin, and sister, Eleanor. Mr. Cole was a veteran of World War II, during which he lost his brother, Melvin, in the Battle of the Bulge. He was a 55-year brother at Plant City Elks Lodge 1727. He

Toshiko (Nakada) Molden

Toshiko (Nakada) Molden, of Plant City, died March 27, 2013.

Born March 21, 1932, in Tokyo, Japan, she was the wife of Daniel Everett Molden Jr., who preceded her in death. As a young woman, Mrs. Molden danced ballet. She later served as a tour conductor and ballet instructor. After marrying Daniel Molden, she moved to Kansas and was naturalized as a citizen of the United States. She played golf and taught aerobics while living in Topeka, Kan. After Mr. Molden retired, the couple relocated to Niceville, to enjoy their retirement years playing golf and going to the theater. In 1997, they relocated to Walden Lake. Survivors include her son, Danny; her sister, Teruko Nagai; Daniel’s daughter Frances K. Hudson; his sons, Richard, James, Ronald and Michael; 13 children; and six grandchildren.

James “JD” David Rorrer

James “JD” David Rorrer, 69, of Plant City, died March 31, 2013. Born Feb. 20, 1944, in Akron, Ohio, he was the son of the late Joseph Rorrer and the late Mae Webb Rorrer. He was the husband of Barbara Macomber Rorrer.

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Cecil E. Smith, 88, of Dover, died March 25, 2013. He was born Jan. 21, 1925, in Elba, Ala. He moved in 1950, to Florida, where he met and married Fannie Miller Smith. She preceded him in death in 1996. Mr. Smith worked many jobs throughout his life, but he most enjoyed telling people about Jesus and witnessing to them. He was of the Holiness faith and attended the Full Gospel Tabernacle when his health would allow. Mr. Smith knew Jesus and wanted everyone to know Him like he did. Survivors include his sister, Ha-

zel Willis; and many nieces, nephews and friends. The family received friends March 29, at Haught Funeral Home in Plant City, and funeral services followed. Condolences may be made at

Rexal Lee Tolbert

Rexal Lee Tolbert, 66, of Lithia/ Plant City, died April 5, 2013, at his home, surrounded by his loving family. Mr. Tolbert was a self-employed drywall hanger, who loved his family, fishing and riding his four-wheeler. Survivors include his wife, Delores; children, Rex Tolbert (Beth), Regina Lois Tolbert, Sandra Hartzell (Frank), Teresa Wood (Chip), Ginger Williams and Casey Saladino; brothers, Doug and Fred Tolbert; sister, Gladys Hyde; 10 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren The family will receive friends from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. April 10, at Haught Funeral Home, 708 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m., at Mt. Enon Cemetery. Condolences may be made at


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Mr. Rorrer served from 1961 to 1964, in the U.S. Marines. He worked for Lykes Brothers and was a member of Transforming Life Ministries at Turkey Creek Assembly of God. Survivors include his daughter, Jennifer (Rorrer) White; sisters, Aquilla Taylor and Erma Craft; and grandchildren, Tyler and Kaylee White. He was preceded in death by his son, Christopher Rorrer. Condolences may be made at

In accordance with the provisions of State law, there being due and unpaid charges for which the undersigned is entitled to satisfy an owner and/or manager’s lein of the goods herinafter described and stored at: Uncle Bob’s Self Storage located at: 1005 S. Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563. 813-7599526. And, due notice having been given, to the owner of said property and all parties known to claim an interest therein, and the time specified in such notice for payment of such having expired, the goods will be sold at

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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Crest’s Terra Brooks is on fast track to success. 11

high rolling

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Matt Mauney

Strawberry Crest enters the district tournament with high expectations, after breezing through the regular season with a 10-0 district record.

Area softball teams poised for district All three area teams carry top seeds into their respective tournaments next week. If the cards fall the way coach Mindy Miltner expects, her Strawberry Crest team will get a much anticipated rematch with Leto in the Class 6A District 11 tournament. “The girls are hungry for that one,” she said. That’s because Leto upset Strawberry Crest last season in the district tournament, putting a halt to the dream of regionals and state. Although still young on paper, this Lady Chargers team is more experienced than the group that made an early post-season exit in 2012. SCHS is 20-2 this year, its best

record in the four-year history of the program, rivaling the 2011 season, when the Lady Chargers finished 22-3. The two losses have come in one-run games against Chamberlain (9-8) and Bartow (6-5), last year’s Class 7A state champion and runner-up, respectively. In district play, the Lady Chargers are a perfect 10-0, outscoring opponents 119-1 in those games, and hold the No. 1 seed going into the tournament after today’s non-district regular season finale against Newsome. “Our girls have worked hard,



Plant City flag football anything but ‘powderpuff’ While transitioning to high between underclassmen and school coverage in Florida, I upperclassmen to form two immediately discovered many teams. differences between the prep Their uniforms were besports scene in Georgia and that dazzled T-shirts, decorated with of the Sunshine State. hot pink and lime green markFall sports I was used to (softers and craft glue. Their hair ball) are now played in sported bows, ribbons the spring. Spring sports, and pigtails. such as golf, are played Perhaps most enin the fall; and soccer, a tertaining of all, the spring sport in Georgia, coaches and “cheerleadis played during the mild ers” for the game were winter months here. the senior football playIn addition to that was ers and some other male an unfamiliar sport — athletes. Regretfully, I girls’ flag football. My admit I was one of them MATT only experience with flag my senior year, cheerMAUNEY football came in college, leading skirt, pompons where I played on a few and all. men’s and co-ed intramural It was a popular event at my teams. high school and brought in In high school, the closest larger crowds than our belowthing to flag football was the an- average football team. nual “powderpuff game,” played It shouldn’t come as much of during Homecoming week. a surprise that the words “flag The football and basketball cheerleaders were split up SEE MAUNEY / PAGE 10

THURSDAY, april 11, 2013

deep ties by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

WINNING ATTITUDE Plant City’s new head baseball coach and pitching coach helped establish the Durant program as players. Now, they will face their alma mater from an opposing dugout. The baseball program at Plant City High School dates back decades before Durant began its program in the mid-1990s, but the Cougars have had more success in recent years and have grown into a perennial power. That’s something new PCHS head coach Mike Fryrear, a Durant alumnus and former player, hopes to achieve with the Raiders. “I’m trying to teach these guys how to compete at a high level,” said Fryrear, who is in his first head coaching job after holding assistant roles at the college and high school levels. “Getting them to have a winning attitude is our focus.” Fryrear took over a program with no real direction. For the PCHS seniors, Fryrear is their third head coach since becoming Raiders. “We have a lot of structure this year,” said senior pitcher Keven Long. “It’s a lot stricter, and it’s really helping us focus and get the wins that we need to get.” It’s that daily structure that has helped lead the Raiders to their position this sea-

PCHS coach Mike Fryear: ‘I’m trying to teach these guys how to compete at a high level. Getting them to have a winning attitude is our focus.’ son. They boast a 5-5 record in a competitive Class 7A District 8 and are in third place heading into next week’s district tournament, with a shot at regionals on the line. “Right before I came here, the players were almost content with losing,” Fryrear said. “Now, they know we have a good team, they know we can win, and they’re happy now.” Fryrear will lead his Raiders into battle against his alma mater at 7 p.m. tonight, at Plant City, 1 Raider Place. It will be a nondistrict, out-of-classification game, but both teams have something to prove.


Fryrear has been a part of a program trying to establish itself before. “That team back in ’96 — when I was a freshman — really established what Durant is now,” said Fryrear, who played for the Cougars from 1996 to 2000 for coach Gary



Plant city observer


girls on the gridiron by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

MAUNEY / PAGE 9 football” brought memories of a nonchalant exhibition game full of players that were more concerned with not breaking a nail than scoring a touchdown. While attending a flag football tournament at Otis M. Andrews Park last summer, my perception of the sport changed completely. Watching the Plant City High girls take on a defending state champion, I witnessed great catches, diving tackles and terrific effort displayed by both teams. When the Lady Raiders found themselves down at the half, I saw a lot of emotion under a sideline tent. They didn’t care that they were sweaty, or that their makeup was smeared. They didn’t care if a fingernail had been chipped or broken. All they cared about was motivating themselves and their teammates — convincing them they had what it took to come back in the second half. They were focused on winning, and they were ready and willing to put their bodies on the line to do so. I saw that same drive and passion a few weeks ago, when I made my rounds to local teams’ flag football practices. I saw athletes clinging to every piece of advice from their coaches. Yes, flag football isn’t as dangerous as the male-dominated counterpart, but it wouldn’t be fair to say it is a non-contact sport, because there is plenty of bumping and pushing that goes on during a game. When it comes to plays, while there are large differences between tackle and flag, the playbook for flag is equally intricate and complicated. There may not be as many blocking formations, but there are plenty of passing routes, misdirection and defensive coverages to remember. The coaches take the sport seriously and expect the athletes to do the same. The 2013 season currently is in full swing. If you haven’t ever taken in a flag football game, I urge you to do so. You’ll see what I mean when I say the play is anything but “powderpuff.”

Sophomore Avery Brown took over as the starting quarterback this year.

Head coach Larry Langston gave his offense a pep talk during a timeout.

The two teams fought hard Monday.

First-half TDs lead to win for Plant City flag football Two first-half touchdowns led to a 12-6 win for the Plant City High School flag football team over Armwood April 8. Sam Black caught a pass in the corner of the endzone for the first score of the game, before Kristen

Wyckoff caught a pass and ran for a 30-yard score. Both extra-point attempts failed, giving the Lady Raiders a 12-0 lead, before Armwood got on the board with a minute to play in the first half. Quarterback Avery Brown

was 22-for-31 for 177 yards, with two touchdowns. “It wasn’t our greatest offensive game, but a win is a win,” said head coach Larry Langston. “We are winning with youth, so hopefully, we can continue to grow and get ready for the playoffs.”

Armwood had a tough time covering the talented Plant City receivers.

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athlete of the week


by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

TERRA BROOKS Three-sport athlete Terra Brooks has been putting the skills she’s developed through volleyball and basketball to good use this track-and field-season. The Strawberry Crest freshman finished second in the triple jump and third in the long jump at last week’s Hillsborough County Championships. She recently set a personal best of 35.9 in the triple jump and 16.10 in the long jump.

What was the Hillsborough meet like? When I qualified for the long jump and triple jump, I didn’t really think I was going to do as well as I did. With the help of my coaches, I’ve been able to work on my technique, and I’ve broken both of my personal records. What made you want to do track? I just like being busy with sports. It was something else to do. I did track when I was younger, and I was pretty good at it, so I wanted to see how far I would get. What do you like about track? I like the field events, and I like the 100 and the 200. Those are my main events and what I’ve been doing since probably fourth grade. What are some goals you’d like to accomplish at districts? To get at least first or second. For me, just to break my own records. Have you always played multiple sports? I cheered for seven years.

In middle school, I started doing basketball, volleyball and track. Do you have a favorite sport? No. Basically this year, I’m just trying to find out which one will take me further. I really enjoy all of them. If I were to stop doing one of them, it wouldn’t feel right. I think that decision will maybe come in a few years.

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Have you seen a benefit in playing multiple sports? Both volleyball and basketball improve my jumping. That’s what all three sports contain for me. What would be some goals you would like to obtain during your high school career? Being MVP for all the sports I play would be one. I would like to go all the way to state for basketball, because we were pretty close this year. Same thing for track. With volleyball, we also went to regionals. So, I would like to go further than that. I just don’t want to fall back in any sport.



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Plant city observer

BASEBALL / PAGE 9 Graham, now an assistant principal at Newsome. “Not necessarily the talent level they have now, but the winning attitude we had.” Fryrear noted Durant’s first game that year was against a talented Brandon team that featured Chone Figgins, a World Series champion (2002), MLB All-Star (2009) and MLB stolen base leader (2005), along with other talented prospects. Fryrear also had plenty of talent on his Durant team, including current PCHS pitching coach Jeramy Gomer, Durant pitching coach Brent Franklin and Ryan Raburn, who now plays for the Cleveland Indians. “We played Brandon at their place, and Jeramy Gomer was actually on the mound for us, and we beat them,” Fryrear said. “That was the stepping stone to get to the next level.”

SOFTBALL / PAGE 9 and they know this is the part of the season that counts,” Miltner said. “Even beating those teams twice already, I think we will be more focused going into districts. They know that feeling and what that hurt feels like at the end of the season, and they don’t want that to happen again.” The key for the Lady Chargers will be the status of pitcher Sammy Tyler, who suffered a pulled quad against Bartow and missed the next three games. Freshman Scottie Todd has been handling pitching duties since, and Tyler has been in limited action this week and is expected to be ready for district, according to Miltner. After a first-round bye, SCHS

That led to district titles, regional wins and individual successes for Durant players, including Gomer, who pitched for four years in the minor leagues after being drafted by the Cubs out of high school. A rotator cuff injury took him out of baseball, but he eventually found his way back to the Tampa area. He coached at Tampa Bay Tech and Armwood, before joining his old teammate at Plant City this season. “After I got hurt, I was a little bitter and didn’t think I would get into coaching or back into baseball,” Gomer said. “After getting a call from coach Fryrear, I decided to come here and help out.” Gomer is now responsible for developing pitchers, including Long, who is 4-2 with a 1.62 ERA this season. “We’ve got a lot of talent,” Gomer said. “We just have to get these kids to have the right mentality every day.” will face the winner of Leto and Armwood in the second round. The Class 6A District 11 tournament begins April 15, and will be played at Sickles.


Durant, the defending Class 8A state champion, got off to a shaky start in district play, dropping their first two games before reeling off eight straight. The Lady Cougars are 16-8 overall with two non-district games to play. Durant holds the No. 1 seed in the Class 8A District 7 tournament, and head coach Matt Carter feels good about his team’. “This district has been crazy this year,” Carter said. “Any team can beat you on any particular day, but we’ve been playing pretty



After getting the job this summer, Fryrear wasted no time building his staff and bettering the PCHS program. He led efforts to improve the facilities at PCHS. He also got right to work with a conditioning program. Fryrear saw he had plenty of talent on his team, but many of the players lacked the winning attitude he was used to during his years at Durant, playing at the University of North Florida and in the assistant coaching roles he held before coming to Plant City. “The experience I had at Durant is something I’m trying to teach these boys,” he said. “The system was very strict and structured, but we had fun. These guys are really starting to buy into what we’re trying to do.” It has been a slow and, at times, trying process, but Fryrear feels the team is headed in the right direction. well, and I feel like we’re in a good position.” Carter said his team’s offense has improved throughout the season, and the pitching has been steady, thanks to senior Paige Davis. Defensive changes after those two district losses also have made a big difference. The Lady Cougars will have the benefit of having the experience of winning a state title, along with hosting this year’s district tournament. “We’ve got as much maturity and good leaders as we did last year, and they know that we have a target on our back,” Carter said. “From here on, it’s our destiny to write.” The Class 8A District 7 tournament begins April 15. Durant has

Matt Mauney

Head coach Mike Fryrear has put together a talented and experienced staff to get Plant City to the next level, including fellow Durant grad Jeramy Gomer and infield and dugout coach Byron Humphrey. “It is more stress than I’ve ever had as an individual,” Fryrear said about being a head coach. “I thought getting my master’s in coaching in college was hard, but this has been one of the most dif-

ficult and daunting tasks. But, I love it. Getting these guys headed in the right direction — that’s what it’s all about.” Contact Matt Mauney at

a first-round bye and will play the winner of Newsome and Alonso.

“Our last district game against Riverview was big for us,” Sawyer said. “Noelle pitched a great game and only gave up one walk.” Offensively, Plant City has been led by Dietrich, University of South Florida commit Kristen Wyckoff, junior Kacie Booth and freshmen Becca Sorensen. “Our hitting has definitely improved over the last few weeks, and Kacie Booth and Becca Sorensen have been playing very well, defensively,” Sawyer said. Plant City will have the first round bye as the No. 1 seed. “Having the top seed is huge for us,” Sawyer said. “Everyone is pumped up, and the momentum is good for this time of year.” Contact Matt Mauney at


After an 0-3 start to the season, Plant City found its rhythm. The Lady Raiders are 15-6 overall and 10-0 in Class 7A District 8 under first-year head coach Amanda Sawyer. Plant City holds the No. 1 seed in the district tournament, which begins April 15, at East Bay. Plant City entered the season with an inexperienced pitching staff, but that has been one of the strong points of this year’s team. The Lady Raiders have allowed only six runs in their 10 district games, thanks to sophomore Noelle Dietrich and freshman Alexis Williams.

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Plant city observer


Plant City






April 3





Thurs., April 11 Fri., April 12 Sat., April 13 Sun., April 14 Mon., April 15 Tues., April 16 Wed., April 17


April 5



April 6


April 7

sunrise/sunset times


Sunrise Sunset Thurs., April 11 7:08 a.m. 7:51 p.m. Fri., April 12 7:07 a.m. 7:52 p.m. Sat., April 13 7:06 a.m. 7:52 p.m. Sun., April 14 7:05 a.m. 7:53 p.m. Mon., April 15 7:04 a.m. 7:53 p.m. Tues., April 16 7:03 a.m. 7:54 p.m. Wed., April 17 7:02 a.m. 7:55 p.m.

April 8



April 9




1.40 (2012: 0.66)




Community starts with neighbors who care.

April 18

April 25

SHIPPING POINT: CENTRAL AND NORTH FLORIDA FLATS 12 4.4-ounce cups 12 6-ounce cups


TO DATE 4.61 (2012: 1.72)

LOW $18 $26

HIGH $20 $28

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

Felecia Brass captured this shot of two iconic Plant City sights at a recent Plant City Dolphins game. The Plant City Observer, State Farm Insurance agent Tony Lee and The Corner Store have partnered to launch the new I Love Plant City Photo Contest. Weekly winners will have their photo featured in the Plant City Observer and receive a $10 gift certificate to The Corner Store! Submit your photos, with a caption, via email to Managing Editor Michael Eng,; That’s what oursubject town line: is made of.Plant City. I Love

May 2

Tony Lee CLU, Agent 1702 S Alexander Street Plant City, FL 33563 Bus: 813-752-7202

State Farm® has a long heritage of helping out in the community. That’s why I’m proud to support Event/Charity. Get to a better State .



May 9



High Low 90 70 86 63 84 64 86 66 86 66 86 64 88 68


April 4

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2. K T W W E J D










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ACROSS 1 “What’s on second” speaker 7 One of Snow White’s seven 12 Empties the suitcase 19 John Muir organization: ___ Club 20 Ancient Greek marketplaces 22 Nursery noisemakers 23 Take too long at a busy ATM, e.g. 25 Signal with the hands 26 Eastern caregivers 27 Make tracks on ice 29 “And that’s the way ___” 30 “Total” solar event 33 “Seinfeld” character ___ Kramer 34 Roman 1,300 36 Journalist Sawyer 37 Egghead’s antithesis 40 Noted rum surname 42 “Don’t make me laugh!” 45 Matter for the mill 46 Have one’s say, in an election 47 Church bell spot 49 Blow it 50 All tucked in for the night 52 “His Master’s Voice” co. 55 Former Eagles coach Dick 56 Faded or stained 60 Not appropriate or suitable 62 Cheesy Dutch treat 63 Barely managing (with “out”) 64 Correct a manuscript 66 Bugle material

67 68 71 72 74 75 77 78 80 85 87 89 90 91 92 94 96 97 100 102 103 105 107 109 111 112

113 116 122 123 124 125 126 127

___ Lanka Park it Be sick Excite, as interest Group of eight Implied Calla lily, e.g. North American flycatcher Cutting-edge Biting bug, informally Xmas month Get in on the deal Canton in Switzerland Relatively small Came back to earth Yacht club site Wood-shaping tool Come as a consequence On edge Airplane seat choice Hearing things? ___-jawed (openmouthed) Some Scotch cocktails Ninth month, briefly Hardwood tree “Luncheon on the Grass” painter Edouard Skirtlike trousers for a female Try in desperation Of the seventh planet Canary hue Troop encampments Senior lady of a group More clever Articles of faith


1 Cosmetician Mary Kay

2 Guest speaker’s intro 3 ___ canto (singing style) 4 Makes a minister 5 Satchmo’s instrument 6 Finger foods at a Spanish restaurant 7 Cries of derision 8 Birthday topic 9 Capitol Hill figure, briefly 10 Hoosegow occupant 11 ‘98 Series winners 12 Attempt to convince 13 Scottish turndown 14 A TD is worth six 15 Anne Frank’s hideout 16 An automatic doesn’t have one 17 Actress Russell of “The Americans” 18 Wind dirs. opposite of NNW 21 Coming-apart places 24 Yonder folks 28 Two-year-old 30 Sidled 31 High, wispy clouds 32 Pumas’ dens 33 Army bed 34 Church composition 35 One-named singer and Oscar winner 38 Become choked with weeds 39 Took a bus 41 Confirm one’s attendance 43 Word on a wanted poster 44 Wheels at sea 48 Retired female professor 50 Self-proclaimed “greatest” of boxing 51 Sound made by Big Ben 53 Gentle slope with a sudden drop 54 Oscar-winner Hathaway 57 Earwax

58 Dust Bowl denizen 59 Creditor 61 Unbreakable stones of legend 65 ___ West (“Diamond Lil” star) 66 You may want more for your buck 67 Baseball ploy involving a bunt 69 Breezed through, as an exam 70 Backpacker’s shelter 72 Naples food staple 73 Rankled 76 Consumed 78 Hammerhead features 79 Blunders 81 Full of oneself 82 Rene of “Get Shorty” 83 How deadpan humor is delivered 84 German article 86 Bleacher level 88 Bag for miscellany 93 Albanian coin 94 She had a “Feast” in an Oscar-winning 1987 Danish film 95 Carrier purchased by Southwest 98 Find a function for 99 Sad poem 101 Part of Q.E.D. 104 Show penitence 106 Field measures 108 Commencement 109 Mideast missile 110 Foreign currency 111 “Stand By Me” singer ___ King 112 Bryn ___ 114 Material for a whitesmith 115 Sunbather’s desire 117 Conniving 118 “Once upon a midnight dreary” poet 119 “Congo” creature 120 ___ behind the ears 121 Steam iron sound


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Items Under $200 For Sale

Computer Services

JEN KEN Kiln and porcelain doll mold. $200.00. Call 813-767-1503. ADVERTISE YOUR MERCHANDISE with the total value of all items $200 or less in this section for FREE! Limit 1 ad per month, 15 words or less. Price must be included next to each item. No commercial advertising or garage sale advertising Ad runs 2 consecutive weeks. Call Toll Free: 1-877-308-5642 Email ad to: (Please include your name and address) Or mail to: The Observer Group P.O. Box 3169 Sarasota, Fl 34230

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CROSBY CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. David Crosby, 813-679-0096. See my ad in the Service directory

Home Services


GREGG W. HOOTH, P.A. Attorneys & Counselors At Law Business, Labor & Employment Law. E-mail: 863-667-8027 See our ad in the Service Directory

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THE PLANT CITY OBSERVER Thursday, APRIL April11, 11,2013 2013 THURSDAY,

Plant city observer



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Classifieds 15A 15

Walden Lake Art & Frame

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110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 204 Plant City, FL 33563 MM 27085

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thE r

with a 12

Plant city observer




04.11.13 Plant City Observer  

04.11.13 Plant City Observer

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