Page 1

YOU. YOUR NEIGHBORS. YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

A PARTNERSHIP WITH

IN THIS ISSUE SPORTS

EXCLUSIVE

Couple building home from steel shipping crates.

Strawberry Crest Plant City-area enjoys big night golfers tee off out at 2014 Prom. at RICOH Classic. SEE PAGE 9 SEE PAGE 13

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OUR TOWN Plant City Observer

2013 TAMPA BAY BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL

FREE • THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014

development by Michael Eng | Editor

Golf course buyers revealed Bridgepoint Capital announced plans to purchase the entire Walden Lake country club and golf course property, pending rezoning approval.

OFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE 2014

BLUEBERRY

FESTIVAL Plant City Times &

Observer

+ Blueberry fest coming soon!

Since the battle over Walden Lake Golf and Country Club and its two golf courses began nearly a year ago, Walden Lake residents opposing redevelopment of the property have been clamoring for a new owner to take over their community’s primary amenity. Last week, they learned there is, indeed, a buyer for the property. However,

This edition of the Plant City Times & Observer includes your official guide to the 2014 Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival. The festival takes place April 25 to 27, at Keel and Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. Our guide features everything you need to know to maximize your fun at this year’s festival. For more information, visit tampabayblueberry festival.com.

+ It’s Read Everywhere!

the sale is pending Plant City Commission approval of a rezoning request that would allow residential development on parts of the existing golf courses. Visions Golf LLC, current owner of the country club and golf courses, revealed the buyers during the Walden Lake Community Association’s Annual Meeting April 10, at Plant City Church

This week’s winner is

Lisa Donini

See her photo on PAGE 17.

File photo

PGA pro Jimmy Wright most recently worked for The Concession Golf Club.

EDUCATION

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

New schools, programs give area parents more choices Two new Christian preschools are accepting new students, and a third was recognized recently by Quality Counts for Kids as a 5-Star Center.

Gary Shepherd is a 10-year cancer survivor. He enjoyed his return to Relay for Life, which he missed last year, because he had to have a knee replaced. Below: Emma Thomas, mother of Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis, received a princess makeover, courtesy of the Plant City High School cosmetology students.

FINISHTHE

FIGHT Plant City showcased its heart and soul during the 2014 Relay for Life April 11 and 12, at Plant City High School. The local Relay, one of the largest in the state, featured more than 50 teams from schools, businesses and community organi-

+ Dentist names contest winner

, 3&

SEE GOLF / PAGE 4

2014 RELAY FOR LIFE by Michael Eng | Editor

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross stopped by the Plant City Times & Observer office April 15, before his town hall meeting in New Tampa. While in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, Ross and his team enjoyed strawberry milkshakes and, of course, a copy of our newspaper.

Dr. Milagros Mendoza and the team at Plant City Dentistry revealed recently the winner of the practice’s My Free Smile giveaway. LeighAnn White, of Plant City, will be given a smile makeover, as well as a hair and clothing makeover from a Self Expressions Boutique and Kukai Jones at Textures salon.

of God. “Visions Golf has come to terms with Bridgepoint Capital to purchase the entire golf course property,” Visions Golf Managing Partner Steve Mercer told the standing-room-only crowd. Two Bridgepoint Capital principals

zations. Participants of all ages contributed their time, money and talents to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Top fundraising teams included Bryan Elementary, Knights Elementary and Tomlin Middle schools.

FOR MORE PHOTOS, SEE PAGE 10 OR VISIT PLANTCITYOBSERVER.COM.

If you’ve been touring schools for your child for the coming school year, add a few more to your list. One new school — Liberty Christian Preschool — opened this week; a second, God’s Garden Preschool, in Dover, will open in August; and a third, St. Clement Early Childhood Center, recently was recognized by Quality Counts for Kids as a 5-Star Center and will begin offering a full-time program in August.

GOD’S GARDEN PRESCHOOL

It’s been about a year in the making, but God’s Garden Preschool will be ready for students by August. The preschool is part of the First Baptist Church of Dover and will offer students a faith-based curriculum. Located in the church nursery, parents can choose from several different schedules. One includes preschool only from 8 to 11:30 a.m. An enrichment package can be added, which includes a nap, lunch and a special learning block, in which students will learn about cooking, sports, Spanish, science and art. School hours will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. “We want people to look forward to coming here,” Director Christy Carbaugh said. “Not just the child, but the parents, too. We’re definitely going to be really big on family involvement.” Carbaugh hopes to host activities such

SEE PRESCHOOLS / PAGE 6

farewell by Michael Eng | Editor

Longtime director Al Berry steps down from Florida Strawberry Festival board Berry helped lead the festival for more than 40 years. Former City Manager Phil Waldron will assume his spot on the board of directors. In his more than 40 years of service as a member of the Florida Strawberry Festival Board of Directors, Al Berry has gleaned enough memories to fill several history books. There was that one time, when

a lady and her child were stuck in Interstate 4 traffic for hours, only to finally arrive to see a line 30plus deep for the restroom. Berry, in true Plant City fashion, quickly escorted the two to the exclusive directors’ lounge.

There was another time, when a family from Melbourne bought concert tickets online, not knowing that they also would need to purchase festival admission tick-

SEE BERRY / PAGE 6

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

File photo

Al Berry said he is excited for the future of the Florida Strawberry Festival.

Vol.1,No.38 | Onesection Crossword...................17

Obituaries...................12

Sports.........................13

Weather......................17

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COMMUNITYCALENDAR THURSDAY, APRIL 17 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. Business After Hours sponsored by Mango Cleaners — takes place from 5:15 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at Focus 4 Beauty Career Center, 1805 James L. Redman Parkway. For more, visit plantcity.org. Casey Stidham — performance takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road. (813) 752-9100. Double Feature Event — This two-day program begins with a demonstration by the Plant City Archery Club from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 17, in the west parking lot of Plant City’s First Baptist Church, 503 N. Palmer St. The event continues with a screening of Katniss Everdeen’s second adventure from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 18, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. (813) 757-9215. 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) 737-4444. Saving for Retirement Workshop — takes place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Karin Klaassen, of Tampa Bay

Financial Group, will be discussing the basics of saving for retirement. (813) 757-9215.

Trivia Thursdays — begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 7648818.

FRIDAY, APRIL 18 Grooveboxx Band — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, April 18, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 7648818. 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. Uncork Your Weekend with John Raghu — live music from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 18, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100.

SATURDAY, APRIL 19 Steve Saffels — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, April 19, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 7648818.

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.

7SefWd 5W^WTdSf[a`e 25th Annual City-Wide Easter Egg Hunt — begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 19, at Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex, 2602 E. Cherry Street. Children ages 3 to 11 can hunt for 10,000 eggs. Hunters should bring his or her own Easter basket. For more, visitplantcitygov.com/ index.aspx?nid=685.

74th Annual Marie B. Ellis Community Easter Egg Hunt and Parade — takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 20, at Marie B. Ellis Park, 601 E. Laura St. Linda Light, (813) 650-4254 or mariebellisfoundation@gmail.com. First Presbyterian Church of Plant City Sunrise Service — takes place from 6:45 to 8:45 a.m. Sunday, April 20, in the Baker Street parking lot of the church, 404 W. Reynolds St., Plant City. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. (813) 752-4211. 18, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. 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-yearolds. (813) 752-1220.

Strawberry Classic Car Show — takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at 102 N. Palmer St. For more, visit plantcity.org.

MONDAY, APRIL 21

Uncork Your Weekend with Mark Barrios — live music from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, April

Beginner Square Dance Lessons — classes take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays,

Hope Lutheran Church Easter Services and Events — Special worship opportunities begin at 6:30 p.m., Maundy Thursday, April 17, at the church, 2001 N. Park Road. Services continue at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 18. Easter begins with a Sonrise service at 7 a.m., followed by a breakfast. The Easter EggStravaganza takes place 9:15 a.m., a special Easter Festival Worship at 10:30 a.m., and a Spanish worship at 5:30 p.m. (813) 752-4622. Hopewell Baptist Church Easter Services and Events — The church will host its “Backwards” Easter Egg Hunt and Family Day Open House from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 19; a Son-Risen Service at 8 a.m. Sunday, April 20, and an Easter Celebration Service at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 20, at

the church, 6001 C.R. 39 S. (813) 737-3053. Lone Oak Baptist Church’s “Bow the Knee” — performance takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, April 18, and 6 p.m. Sunday, April 20, at Lone Oak Baptist Church, 3505 W. Lone Oak Road. (813) 7545278. Plant City’s First Baptist Church’s Easter Egg Drop — takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at

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.

place at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 22, at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, 106 N. Evers St., Plant City. For more, visit sciontiforjudge.com.

Dress for Success — takes place from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, April 21, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. (813) 757-9215.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23

TUESDAY, APRIL 22

Introduction to Excel — class takes place from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, April 23, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. (813) 757-9215.

Ribbon Cutting: Michael Scionti for Circuit Court Judge — takes

Small Business Development Center Workshop: “Smart Start

the church’s property, 3309 James L. Redman Parkway. A helicopter will drop 50,000 eggs onto the field. For more information, call (813) 7524104 or visit fbcpc.com. Plant City Sunrise Service — takes place at 7 a.m. Sunday, April 20, at the community park in Walden Lake. The Rev. Robert P. Herrin, of Plant City Church of God, is organizing the service. (813) 754-1096.

Your Business” — takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. SBDC Hillsborough County, (813) 914-4028. World Book Night — takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. The first 20 guests will receive a free copy of “Waiting to Exhale” by Terry McMillan. (813) 757-9215.


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for sale by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

‘Sweetheart Granny’ to retire from downtown antique shop After 15 years of selling antiques, including three years as an independent, Stephanie “Sweetheart Granny” Leighton is closing up shop to spend more time with her family. As April 30 draws closer, Sweetheart Granny Antiques gets a little emptier inside. That’s because the end of the month also means the end of the business and, with it, Stephanie Leighton’s 15-year career as an antique seller. “I’m not closing because of any reason, but it’s just that time in my life,” Leighton said. “I’m in my 70s now, and I just want to spend more time with my family and my grandchil-

dren, before they get too big to give Granny kisses.” Most of the items in Leighton’s inventory can be bought at a 50% discount, and then her doors will close for good. Retirement will take some getting used to, she said, but it will be a welcome change. Leighton was not born in Plant City but has lived here for 60 years. “I was a collector for 40-plus years,” she said. “My children

went to college and went their way, and I decided to start selling antiques. It’s just been a joy. I didn’t think I could ever sell my antiques, but I just enjoy doing it. It’s been fun.” Fifteen years ago, she opened Antiques and Treasures with a few partners. She remained there until 2011, when she decided to test the waters as an independent owner. Since then, Sweetheart Granny Antiques has been doing well.

“The secret to selling antiques is that you never know who is going to walk in that door and what they’re going to buy,” Leighton says. “My success has been due to return customers. If you’re good to your customers, they will come back and they will continue buying from you. That’s been one of the things that has helped me all these years.” Although she enjoys the work, it can be quite taxing at times. Leighton runs the store almost entirely by herself, which often leads to sixday work weeks. As such, she wants to make sure that she still can spend time with her

Justin Kline

Stephanie Leighton, aka ‘Sweetheard Granny,’ will be closing her downtown antique shop at the end of the month. family while she’s able. “I have a granddaughter at the University of Florida, all the way down to a 4-yearold,” she said. “And I just want to spend some time with my grandchildren if I can, while I’m still physically able. My husband’s had four joint replacements already. We realize that we need to do what we can do now.”

There is a chance the store will be taken over shortly after closing and become another antique shop, but Leighton said those plans haven’t been finalized. “I’m sad — I’m going to miss my customers, but I think I’ll be good,” she says. “I’ll keep busy.” Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobserver.com.

governance by Michael Eng | Editor

EDUCATION by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Search begins for new P.C. city manager

Interim City Manager David Sollenberger will present three proposals to city commissioners by the end of the week.

Dianne Stevens, Rebecca Hosmer and Marilyn Cook have been teaching for more than 100 years combined.

FINAL BELL At the end of this school year, three faculty members will be saying good-bye to Tomlin Middle School.

It’s not easy to run one of the largest schools in the district. At 1,200 students, it is a lot for faculty at Tomlin Middle School to handle. But having great teachers and administrators is the key. This year will be the last for three teachers who have educated children for more than 100 years combined.

REBECCA HOSMER

For students who have had Rebecca Hosmer as a teacher, many refer to her as their mom at school. The no-nonsense educator was in charge of a difficult sect of kids in the intensive learning alternative program. “I have worked with some kids that are a little rough around the edges,” Hosmer said. “The real story should be about those kids. They didn’t always listen at first, but they turned into wonderful young adults.” One of those students was Lorrie Holdbrooks Rhind. She came to Tomlin in the 1980s from Lakeland, to live with her dad, who her family thought could give her more guidance. The feisty middle-schooler was used to skipping school. On her first day at Tomlin, an older friend from Lakeland came to check her out of school. She got busted but walked off campus anyway. Rhind was plucked from the regular population and put into Hosmer’s class for four periods out of the day. “I just didn’t care,” Rhind said. “We were so bad, and then, all of a sudden, we get in her class and do good.” Hosmer was tough as nails. If a student did wrong, she would give them the silent

SO LONG

Language arts and reading teacher Norma Coutour also retired after 35 years. Her last day was Friday, April 4. treatment. If a student skipped class, she would call their parents or even go to their house. If a student fell asleep on their desk, she would slap it with a ruler. “She is just amazing,” Rhind said. “She didn’t take crap from you. She understood us, when others didn’t even want to look at us.” But, Hosmer wasn’t all business. When the students did well she rewarded them with trips to the Cuban sandwich shop down the road, free time at Friday Fun Days and playing arcade games at Hungry Howie’s. “Other than my parents, she was probably my biggest single influence,” Celena Copeland Alorda said. “She wasn’t just a teacher. She did teach us a lot of life lessons.” Hosmer will be retiring after 33 years at Tomlin. She is going on a trip to Italy in October and plans to spend time with her family and grandchildren.

DIANNE STEVENS

In her 48 years of teaching, Dianne Stevens has had a wide range of students in her classroom. She once taught English as a second language to a 79-year-old woman. She’s worked with children in alternative learning programs. And she’s even worked with adorable “ankle biters” in preschool settings. But she got her start working with Airmen at Chicksands

Air Force Base, in England. Stevens landed on base after her husband was stationed there. She was hired to raise the reading ability of enlisted personnel on base. When she came back to the United States, she went back to school and studied social work. Then, she received a fellowship to obtain her master’s degree at the University of South Florida. Since then, she’s been working as an educator. Her first job was an ESE reading teacher at Bryan Elementary. From there, she held a variety of positions. At one point, she co-owned her own kindergarten off Bayshore, in Tampa. She spent seven years in alternative education. “Sometimes, we feel like little farmers planting the seed,” Stevens said. “We do the best we can for our students. I’m excited to come to school.” But her real passion was environmental science. That enthusiasm bleeds over into her personal life, too. She visited the Grand Canyon three times and recalls watching the sediment mix in the Mississippi River as she flew over. Stevens has been at Tomlin for nine years. For all of those years, she has led the Technology Student Association, taking kids to compete in different categories like CO2 car races and structural challenges such as building bridges. They have won multiple competitions throughout the years. In February, they won two first places and one third place at the state competition. There’s one more competition, a national competition in Washington, D.C., to which

Amber Jurgensen

Stevens will be taking her students before she retires this summer. “(What I’ll miss most) is watching the light go on,” Stevens said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can be 69 and I can still see the light go on.”

MARILYN COOK

Since Marilyn Cook was a teenager, all she ever knew was teaching. Her father taught a youth Sunday School. Some days, he would randomly call her up to the front of the class and tell her she was teaching the day’s lesson. “Education was probably the most important thing for him,” Cook said. “Formal or not, it was something to hang our hat on.” So, Cook went off the school to become a teacher. While she was attending school, she raised her family and worked as a substitute and assistant teacher at Pinecrest Elementary. She was the only sibling out of five who finished college. After she finished school, she went on to teach for 14 years, at Trapnell Elementary. Through her 33-year career, she has worked up the ranks. At Turkey Creek Middle School, she was a team leader and reading coach. She served as assistant principal of curriculum at Shields Middle School, in Ruskin, and assistant principal at Randall Middle School, in Lithia. “(Challenges) are a moment-by-moment thing,” Cook said. Cook served as assistant principal of student affairs for 18 months, at Tomlin. She tried to retire last year, but Principal Susan Sullivan convinced her to stay. Now, she will help set up summer school and finally leave to enjoy her cows, grandchildren and travel. “It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 33 years,” Cook said. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

Interim City Manager David Sollenberger wasted no time in beginning the search for former City Manager Greg Horwedel’s permanent replacement. Sollenberger has solicited proposals from several different executive search firms and should have the field narrowed to three firms by the end of the week. He plans to forward those three proposals to city commissioners, along with his recommendations. The item will be on the City Commission’s agenda for its next meeting, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 28, at Plant City Hall, 302 W. Reynolds St., Plant City. Sollenberger said he has asked each firm to provide the following information: • Scope of service • Development of candidate profile • Describe City Commission involvement • Outreach and advertising • Samples of advertising and brochures used in similar searches, • Background checks and how performed for academic credentials, financial matters and criminal • Similar searches conducted within the last five years • Staffing used on this assignment and qualifications • Schedule • Guarantees

UTILITIES DEPARTMENT

Plant City Utilities Department Director Frank Coughenour recognized six members of his department with service awards at the City Commission’s April 14 meeting. Utilities Operations Superintendent Steve Saffels celebrated recently celebrated his 40th anniversary with Plant City. Saffels also received the American Water Works Association’s Operator’s Meritorious Service Award. Wayne Abercrombie celebrated his 25th year with the city, and Bobby Wilmer and Patrick Murphy their 10th. Both Tony Bauer and Victor Castro celebrated their fifth anniversaries with the city. The department also placed second for the Florida Water Environment Association’s Earle B. Phelps Award.

RAIDER WATER TOWER

The Utilities Department also is working to correct the water-quality issues associated with the water tower near Plant City High School. According to Coughenour, the problems began after the water tower was taken out of service for repainting. The change affected water system circulation, and customers

IN OTHER NEWS

• The Plant City Commission proclaimed April as Water Conservation Month in Plant City. Southwest Florida Water Management District Government Affairs Program Manager Estella Gray accepted the proclamation from Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis. • The commission also presented a proclamation naming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Plant City to Champions for Children Executive Director Dr. Brian McEwen. • Commissioners authorized the city to enter into a $124,000 contract with Kamminga & Roodvoets Inc. to complete sanitary sewer improvements at Sydney Road. The company will replace the existing sanitary sewer manhole at Sunshine Dairy, 3304 Sydney Road. It also will replace about 120 linear feet of vitrified clay pipe with PVC. The City Commission has contracted with BBE-Boggs Engineering LLC to provide design services for Snowden Park. At the request of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission EPC, the city initiated an assessment of Snowden Park. The assessment revealed locations contained wood, glass and other debris two to six feet below the surface. The EPC is requiring the city provide remedial measures at Snowden Park. The city will cap the site using two feet of fill and replace the existing playground areas, ball fields, restrooms and basketball courts. The repairs will cost $600,000, which will come from the Hillsborough County Affordable Housing Services Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.

near that area experienced a drop in water quality. “Chlorine residual was dropping,” he said. “When chlorine residual gets too low, we start to get some additional odors.” To correct this, the department flushed the system and then backflow water through the plant. Contact Michael Eng at meng@plantcityobserver.com.




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GOLF COURSE / PAGE 1 — developer Curtis Crenshaw and golf pro Jimmy Wright — addressed the residents, beginning what they know will be a long, arduous road to win over Mercer’s toughest critics. But, they hope their respective bodies of work, coupled with relentless transparency and open communication, ultimately will yield a better country club, five-star golf and, yes, even higher property values. However, some residents remain skeptical. None of the improvements to the country club and golf courses would take place until after rezoning approval. Even more alarming: Currently, there is no guarantee any of it would be carried out after approval. “I am extremely concerned about what they are doing to our community,” said WLCA Director Bob Hunter, former director of the Hillsborough CityCounty Planning Commission. “I am concerned about what they are doing to 168 residential units that back up to the fairways that have been closed. I am concerned about what they are doing about taking away the scenic vistas of those properties and, essentially, the character and quality of development and lifestyle we have enjoyed in Walden Lake for nearly 30 years.”

THE MEN AND THEIR PLAN

Crenshaw, president and principal of Safety Harborbased Coastal Companies, and Wright, a longtime professional golfer and golf club director, earned both cheers and jeers from Walden Lake residents during their brief introductions to the community. A longtime developer and North Tampa resident, Crenshaw said he sees tremendous potential in the Walden Lake project. “We’re in the beginning stages of having an agreement with Visions Golf to come in and redevelop the portion of the property that’s not being played today and redevelop the additional golf course that is being played into a first-class, topquality course,” Crenshaw said. “If you just look at the property in Walden Lake — it’s a beauti-

Michael Eng

Curtis Crenshaw said open communication is key to the success of the future of Walden Lake Golf & Country Club and its golf courses. ful piece of land. There’s no reason this couldn’t be an absolute jewel once redeveloped and done in a first-class manner. “Our goal is to come in, do the redevelopment in a firstclass manner, and do it with the people in this room (Walden Lake residents) being involved every step of the way,” he said. Wright, who has been a PGA pro since 1962, is coming out of retirement to lead the efforts to revitalize Walden Lake’s golf courses and clubhouse. Most recently, Wright served as director of golf at The Concession Golf Club, in Bradenton. That course, designed by PGA legends Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, was named Best New Private Course in 2006, by Golf Digest magazine. “Other than your home, your biggest asset here is the golf course,” Wright told Walden Lake residents. “Right now, it’s a drag, from what I’ve seen, on your assets. It needs to be readdressed. It needs to be brought up to where it should be, and that’s our plan — to make it that way. We want to make it a fivestar golf course. “This is a position that I am extremely honored to have, and I’m very anxious and excited about taking on this project to bring (Walden Lake) back to its heyday,” he said. “If we do these things, from my experience in golf, I can guarantee ... property values will go up.” The day before Bridgepoint Capital’s introduction, Visions Golf submitted to the city a revised rezoning map. The revi-

sion includes a decrease in the number of residential units — from 868 to 627 — throughout all four parcel units included in the project. The revision caps the assisted-living facility at 120 units; multi-family at 320 units (on two different parcels); and single-family units at 187 lots. Crenshaw said all the required studies — including environmental, traffic and storm water — should be complete in the next 120 days. If the resubmitted rezoning proposal does not require a Comprehensive Plan amendment, Crenshaw estimates development could begin within six months of application filing. “My role would be to redevelop the lots for builders to come in and build homes,” he said. “Every environmental issue will be addressed. The homes that will be built there will be in keeping with the ones already in place. Ideally, you will have something that everybody is proud of. “We will have a master plan done of what’s existing here, as well as what changes are going to be made, and all of those will be shared with (Walden Lake residents) and, obviously, with the city planning board and the City Commission,” Crenshaw said. “I’d like to present it to the people in this room, to (the WLCA) for review and comments before we submit something to the city.” Changes to the golf portion of the property would include a new clubhouse, an 18-hole championship golf course,

nine-hole executive-style course and a couple of holes reserved for a new golf academy. Wright said the new clubhouse would serve as a place for golfers to meet after their rounds, for families to enjoy dinner, and for friends to gather for an evening of fun. He also said staff would include a full-time PGA golf professional and that the private club would host a myriad of events for its members. But, none of it is possible without resident blessing. “We have to have the support of you all,” Wright said. “We have to win your support, and the only way we’re going to do that is by producing and not talking about it. We want every resident (to be) proud of this golf course — whether you play golf or you don’t. You want to tell your friends, your guests, your family about this golf course. “Without you and your support, we’re going nowhere,” he said. The partners said maintaining the property as a 36-hole golf course is not possible. The capital required for renovation must come from the sale of some of the property. Furthermore, they said the community wouldn’t be able to support 36 holes financially. “Thirty-six holes of golf is very difficult to maintain, and to keep those courses in playing order,” Crenshaw said. “Ultimately, the membership is going to be responsible for that in some way (through) higher dues or fees. ... Business people just can’t continue to pump money into something that is not profitable. “If I were a resident here, I would prefer to have a road or some developed and maintained facility in my back yard than I would a golf course that is (overgrown) with weeds,” he said.

THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

Bridgepoint Capital’s plan was not met with universal praise. Some residents argued that the new investors are attempting to profit following Visions Golf’s poor business practices — at the expense of residents who paid premiums to purchase golf course lots.

Furthermore, WLCA Director Bob Hunter reiterated that the rezoning application is only for the residential component of the project. “If this development goes through, all you are guaranteed is that they will build up to 627 units,” he said. “There are absolutely no other guarantees, and I cannot over-express that. “And (with it being) subject to the rezoning being approved, that means the current owners (Visions Golf) would be submitting the revised rezoning to the city,” Hunter said. “Everything you’ve heard about premier golf course, restoring the golf course, swimming pool, etc. ... None of it is guaranteed. They are damaging our health, safety and general welfare of the community.” New WLCA directors Sharon Philbin and Terry Murphy also are apprehensive about the plan. “This has never been about golf,” Philbin said, “It is about community, and to see this community traumatized the way it has been — and literally being torn apart for the sake of windfall profits for those least deserving — is most troubling. “The very integrity of our master-planned community is at stake,” she said. “I will be asking my fellow directors to make a decision to stand firmly behind residents and fight to protect this community. The WLCA board has been more than patient, has heard enough from Visions (Golf), and we owe our members an honest and direct response.” Muprhy agreed. “It’s important to recognize that the contract Visions Golf has with Bridgepoint Capital is contingent upon Visions getting approval for re-zoning,” she said. “This process will include many required studies, approval of the planning board and, ultimately, our City Commission. “The two presenters painted a very pretty picture of an exclusive and private country club for some — all at the expense of the Walden Lake residents’ current lifestyle,” Murphy said. “While there may be some that would make that compromise, I believe the ma-

WALDEN LAKE ELECTS TWO NEW DIRECTORS

The Walden Lake Community Associations now has two new faces. Sharon Philbin and Terry Murphy both were elected to the governing board at the WLCA’s April 10 Annual Meeting. Both Philbin and Murphy have been outspoken members of the resident-led group opposing redevelopment of the country club and golf course. Incumbent Heather Updike also was reelected to the WLCA board. Murphy and Philbin replace outgoing directors Karen Olson and Steve Swantek. Jan Griffin said she will be stepping down from the role of WLCA president. She will remain on the board.

DATE CHANGE

The Walden Lake Community Association will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the Community Building, 3035 Griffin Blvd., Plant City.

jority of residents will not stand down. I will work together with our community to protect our investments and the integrity of our beautiful Walden Lake.” Following the comments by Crenshaw and Wright, Walden Lake resident Nick Brown delivered a presentation opposing the rezoning. “We bought in here, and we placed trust in the community association and in the city to honor the trust we placed in them,” Brown said. “It’s their golf course, but it’s our green space. And I don’t want to look out and see the back of some houses and a road running down what used to be a fairway.” The WLCA still has not formally taken a position regarding the redevelopment. Hunter strongly urged the board to do so and has placed the item on the WLCA’s agenda for the next meeting. Contact Michael Eng at meng@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 21

MISSING WHEELS

4350 block of West U.S. 92. Grand Theft/Burglary. Officers responded to the business, in reference to the theft of an enclosed utility trailer and a Yamaha Rhino utility fourwheeler. Sometime overnight,

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PLANT CITY

CORNER

unknown suspect(s) stole the trailer, with an attached Florida tag, 739TLA. The fourwheeler was in the trailer. The four wheeler is valued at $6,500 and the trailer around $5,000.

FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT

2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft. Officers responded to the store in reference to a suspect stealing. When officers arrived, the suspect fled on foot but was

MARCH 24

HUGGIES HEIST

2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft. A black female wearing leopard print pants stole some diapers. The female exited the business without paying for the diapers. Loss-prevention officials confronted the female, but she walked away. She was picked up by another female and fled in a pickup.

caught by officers. Almost $275 worth of property was returned to the store. The suspect was transported to the Orient Road Jail.

GOING FOR THE GOLD

420 block of Pevetty Drive. Residential Burglary. The victim’s home was burglarized. Entry was made via an unsecured kitchen door. There was no damage to the interior or exterior of the home. Unknown suspect(s) stole one 18-inch gold necklace with a “Ruby” name charm, valued at $200; three Timex watches, valued at $60; one silver dollar piece from the 1800s, valued at $20; one antique nickel, valued at $5; and two kitchen knives; valued at $5.

FRESH START by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

P.C. resident promotes clean eating through detox seminar Sophia Hyde is passionate about helping others live a healthier lifestyle.

Three years ago, Sophia Hyde felt buried in life. She was on the go, living out of her freezer and pantry, always tired and feeling like her hair was on fire. She tried to buy fresh produce but felt like she was wasting money when it would go bad. “I didn’t have time to think — much less think about what I was eating,” Hyde said. When she consulted a friend, she was given some advice: Drink more water, get enough sleep and detox. To Hyde, the first two tips of advice seemed like commonsense tidbits she already knew she should be doing. But the third piece captivated her attention, and she completed her first detox in February 2012. “It was like a cloud had been lifted off of my brain that I didn’t even know was there,” Hyde said. “I was living with a headache I didn’t even know I had. That led me on a personal journey to see how I could take better care of myself.” That journey has led to another crusade — this time to help others. Hyde recently has started hosting her own detoxing seminars and already has had clients who have felt an improvement in their mental clarity and physical ailments. Her next seminar will take place April 22, at Krazy Kup, in Historic Downtown Plant City. A detox consists of altering one’s diet for 30 days to rid the body of toxins. Different foods, such as processed foods, sugars, caffeine and alcohol, are

Amber Jurgensen

Sophia Hyde likes to shop at Parkesdale Farm Market to maintain her clean-eating lifestyle. toxins that are stored in the body. By eliminating toxins, the risks for heart disease, cancer, stroke, neurological diseases, depression and skin ailments decrease. “If a body can take care of itself, then it can cure most things on its own,” Hyde said. Hyde and her clients have experienced increased levels of energy and decreases in levels of pain, depending on their ailments. “I am really passionate about sharing this education, because of how many lives I’ve seen improved because of the benefits of detoxing,” Hyde said. Although detoxes have become popular in recent years, many, such as juice cleanses, have come under fire by the medical community for having no scientific basis. But Hyde’s detox is more about clean eating rather than crash dieting. The detox focuses on eating fresh produce and lean protein and staying away from those highly processed pantry snacks and fro-

IF YOU GO

HEALTH BENEFITS OF DETOXING SEMINAR WHEN: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22; WHERE: Krazy Kup, 101 E. J Arden Mays Blvd. COST: Free DETAILS: The seminar will offer information on what a detox is, what’s happening in your body, explain the main toxins and tips on how to improve your lifestyle. Hyde uses the Pure Advantage Detox, and attendees of the seminar will be able to inquire more about the package after the seminar if they choose. CONTACT: Sophia Hyde, sophiahyde@me.com or (813) 391-0642 zen dinners — all recommendations endorsed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.






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BERRY / PAGE 1 ets. They couldn’t afford to spend any more, so Berry personally escorted them to the Wish Farms Soundstage. And, he’ll never forget the time when he and his wife, Patsy, chaperoned the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court to Bradenton to participate in that city’s nighttime parade. Everything was going according to plan — until a streaker pranced around, in all his glory, right in front of their float. Berry, who served for 43 years as a member of the festival’s Board of Directors, has stepped down from the role. Associate Director Phil Waldron will take the open seat. “I’m just thinking, at my age, I’ve had a good run at it,” said Berry, 78. “We’ve had a lot of fun, a lot of growth and a lot of things happen. It’s just time for me to move on.” In many ways, Berry is the perfect personification of the Florida Strawberry Festival — somehow both larger-than-life and comfortingly small-town at the same time. A Plant City native, Berry studied broadcasting at Texas Western College and the

University of Tampa. He spent more than 40 years in radio broadcasting, beginning his career at WFLA while still in college. In 1958, he joined Plant City’s WPLA as a deejay and coined his famous sign-off, “I’d rather be a little late and still be Al Berry than the late Al Berry.” Berry later became part owner of WPLA, until 1987, when he and business partner Ercelle Smith sold the station. Berry’s involvement with the festival began through his father, a former officer with the Plant City Police Department. Berry started as a volunteer and later helped the festival transition from its five-day format — first to six days and eventually to its current 11-day schedule. As a member of the Plant City Lions Club, he also helped launch what later became the festival’s biggest draw — its headline entertainment. In 1972, Berry, J. Myrle Henry and other Lions Club members hosted the festival’s first celebrity — Dale Evans, wife of Roy Rogers. Once Evans arrived, Berry and Henry held Plant City’s first press conference with Evans, in the community

Courtesy of Al Berry

Al Berry, with his family: wife Patsy, left, and daughters Lori, Kellie and Karen. room of the Hillsboro Bank, at the corner of Reynolds and Evers streets. The next year, Pat Boone brought his star power to Plant City, followed by Anita Bryant and Ken Curtis, who played Festus on “Gunsmoke.” “Before, the midway really was the attraction. That was the big entertainment at the time, but it was more sideshow-type things, like an

PRESCHOOLS / PAGE 1 as a Mother’s Day Tea and Grandparent Breakfast. She also has two other goals for God’s Garden. One is to teach the students the “fruits of the spirit” — character traits such as generosity, kindness and faith. Her second is to instill a love of learning in the children. Carbaugh served on the preschool committee after parents continued to inquire with the church about one. She has worked in early childhood development for her entire career. For the last eight years, she worked as a consultant, helping other preschools with accreditation and quality.

LIBERTY CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL

Providing quality, affordable

Amber Jurgensen

God’s Garden Preschool will accommodate children from 6 weeks through 5 years old. child care has been a priority for the Rev. Michael Fredette and his wife, Gina. For 25 years, they have worked in child care, and, for three years, they owned and operated a

child care facility in Boston. Now, they want to bring that same level of care to Plant City. Liberty Christian Preschool opened April 14, on West Reynolds Street, down the road from

alligator woman,” Berry said. Berry also helped the festival with its public and media relations efforts. Today, the festival operates the Badcock & More Media Center, which allows journalists easy access to the festival and a place from which to operate on the festival grounds. He’s even been known to don the appropriately named Mr. Berry cos-

their church, Liberty Southern Baptist. The preschool is accepting students ages 2 to 5, and curriculum will include cognitive development, Bible teachings, weekly chapel, art, small- and large-motor-skill development, outdoor play and social-skills enhancement. “There is a need in Plant City for quality child care and, more importantly, affordable,” Gina Fredette said. “It’s not about the money or the bottom dollar; it’s about quality care for struggling parents. We want to help those in need. To us, as an organization, it’s about teaching children about the Lord and bringing Christian values and putting God first.” In July, the school will be accepting School Readiness, a state-funded program that assists those parents meeting financial criteria. In August, the school will offer two free VPK sessions, a morning and afternoon session, to help assist in making children kindergarten ready in accordance with VPK standards. The facility was a former child care center, which the Fredettes took over and upgraded last October. “The philosophy of our school is to provide each child with experiences that will provide a Christian education that shares biblical views and offers a firm foundation of scriptural truth,” Gina Fredette said.

ST. CLEMENT EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER

St. Clement Early Childhood Center was recognized as a 5-Star Center recently by Quality Counts for Kids. QCFK works with the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough

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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

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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

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.

tume to greet attendees at the front gate. “It’s been wonderful to see the festival grow all these years,” Berry said. “It’s been an interesting 43 years, and the most gratifying thing has been that I’ve been reelected every year. That means more to me than anything, because I’ve only done what I thought was best for the festival. “The festival is on the right path now, and it’s growing under the direction of a great board and General Manager Paul Davis,” Berry said. “There’s only one way it can go — up. Period.” Although he is stepping down as an active board member, Berry still will remain involved as director emeritus but no longer will have voting privileges. Furthermore, he plans to remain a familiar face at the festival to greet guests and share with them a little Plant City hospitality. “As long as my health allows, I’ll be out there,” Berry said. “I’m looking forward to it — as long as the Good Lord allows.” Contact Michael Eng at meng@ plantcityobserver.com.

NEW PRESCHOOLS GOD’S GARDEN PRESCHOOL

ADDRESS: 3223 N. Gallagher Road, Dover PHONE: (813) 752-6150 EMAIL: preschool@firstbaptist dover.org REGISTRATION: Christy, (813) 752-6150 DETAILS: Beginning in August, God’s Garden will offer full- and part-time care for children from 6 weeks through 5 years old, with VPK offered for 4-year-olds. Full-time care is from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. A morning preschool program for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds runs from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., with options to extend the day before and/or after.

LIBERTY CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL ADDRESS: 2508 W. Reynolds St. PHONE: (813) 752-5432 REGISTRATION: Visit the office between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. or call (813) 752-5432. You can also reach Gina at (813) 735-5453 or at ginalee fredette@aol.com. DETAILS: Liberty Christian Preschool is a new preschool that opened April 14. It offers Christian-based programs for County Public Schools. “It is an honor and privilege to be recognized as a 5-Star Center,” director Candice Tripi Scott said. “I believe the teachers and staff that made this possible deserve recognition in the community.” Now, St. Clement ECC will

ages 2 to 5 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The school features three classrooms for ages 2 through 5. In July, it will begin accepting School Readiness, a state-funded program that assists those parents meeting financial criteria. In August, it will offer two free VPK sessions to help assist in making children kindergarten ready in accordance with VPK standards with teacher Summer Mansell.

ST. CLEMENT EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER ADDRESS: 1104 N. Alexander St., Plant City PHONE: (813) 754-1237 WEBSITE: stclementpc.org/ ecc REGISTRATION: Registration forms are available online, at stclementpc.org/ecc. DETAILS: St. Clement Early Childhood Center’s curriculum provides age-appropriate activities that enrich social, emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual growth. The program provides a range of activities for the developing child, including block building, dramatic play, creative movement, music, storytelling, games, puzzles, art and much more. be offering a full-time program in August. “By extending our hours we can better serve our parish and our community,” Tripi Scott said. 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

CLUB HUBBUB

THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014

FOR THE BYRDS by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

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

Courtesy photo

Ericka Lott, Deanna Rodriguez, Dhara Patel, Ellie Shouse and Ashlyn Yarbrough

+ Plant City High Civinettes

The Plant City High School Civinettes sold coke floats to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The coke float booth, along with the Prince and Princess Contest held in February, raised about $2,000 for Relay for Life. The Civinettes are sponsored by Sherrie Mueller and JoBeth Newsome.

+ Eastern Hills. Art Guild

The Eastern Hillsborough Art Guild will hold its annual banquet at 6 p.m. May 5, at the Plant City Women’s Club, 1110 N. Wheeler St. New officers will be installed, and the annual charity award will be given to MacDonald Training Center and VSA of Florida. The theme is Spring Fling. For more information, visit ehagfinearts.com.

+ Plant City Art Lounge Gallery

The Art Lounge Gallery will continue having its “Starving Artist Sale” through April 19, at 199 E. Reynolds St. Most art in the gallery is offered at a discounted price. Two new members are showcasing their work, as well. For more information, visit theartloungegallery. com.

+ Bruton libary’s World Book Night

World Book Night will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at the Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. This is the second year the Burton Memorial Library has held the event, which helps to foster a love of reading. The first 20 guests will receive a copy of Terry McMillan’s “Waiting to Exhale.” For more information, visit us.worldbooknight.org or call the library at (813) 757-9215.

+ 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. Wells Memorial and Event Center is located at 1903 W. Reynolds St., Plant City. For more information or to place an order, call (813) 752-1111.

Robert and Cathy Byrd will live in this shipping-container dwelling for about two years before building their permanent retirement home.

RENO REDUX Robert and Cathy Byrd are constructing a home from two rugged red shipping containers. The massive steel rectangles are a stark contrast from the green woods that surround it.

T

he chirping of cicadas was drowned out by the grind of an electric saw in the depths of a wooded 1.9-acre property off Sam Hicks Road. Nestled among the oaks and palms of the forest, construction on Robert and Cathy Byrd’s new home was underway. But, it isn’t necessarily the couple’s dream home. It’s their green home. Since February, the Byrds have been building an eco-friendly dwelling made out of two steel shipping containers. They will be importing their South Tampa lives to the Plant City-based units this week. “It’s time to go into our golden years stress-free,” Cathy says. “It will have everything in it that we need.”

same month. The 8-feet-by-40-feet rectangles are situated into a T-shape pattern with 8-foottall ceilings. The first container will be a workshop garage, two home offices and a laundry room/pantry. The second is where the couple will live, complete with a bedroom, closet, bathroom, kitchen and living room. Instead of using dry wall, the couple opted for a beadboard, because it would mold easier into the existing dents of the crate. They did a lot of work themselves but also had help from

THE PROJECT

The Byrds had several goals when designing their new pad. The first was to make it cost effective. The projected cost — not counting the well and septic tank — is $15,000. To help with the costs, the Byrds are reusing as many materials as possible. Cathy reached out to contacts in her industry to see if they had any throw away or unused materials, such as the front doors to the office and the living area. She scavenged for sliding-glass doors, which would also serve as windows, decreasing electric dependency. They also are using pieces of the containers themselves. The steel scraps left over from cutting out spaces for the sliding glass doors will double as canopies and hurricane shutters that can collapse down over the windows. Under CITY FOLK the canopies, the Byrds will For 35 years, Cathy has be adding screened patios, worked in historic restorawhich will add livable space. tions. She owns her own Another goal was to have company, Innovative Resfewer than five bags of trash torations, where she has during construction. So far, transformed and saved they only have had twohomes in Hyde Park, Semiand-one-half bags, largely nole Heights and Tampa because of their recycling of Heights. She completed rematerials. cently a project in Historic Inside, Cathy has designed Downtown Plant City and shelving units that will extend fell in love with the town. from the walls and ceiling for “When we decided to buy additional storage space. InPhotos by Amber Jurgensen a piece of land to retire, I At 620 square feet, the shipping-container home will be cozy. But, when complete, stead of having a dresser, the wanted to go to Plant City,” it will have many of the amenities of a “real” house. Byrds will store their clothes Cathy says. “There’s a heartin drawers underneath their beat out here that you either get or you don’t.” elevated bed. They are using both bay doors as So, the couple made the decision to build features of the home, rather than trash them. a permanent residence on their recently acOne set will serve as the workshop garage doors; 5: The maximum amount of quired property. But, they didn’t want to wait the other as a patio area. trash bags the Byrds want to move. Their solution: Build an inexpensive Cathy has planned carefully the interior of her to have at the end of green home, while they wait to start construchome, combing over every detail. The walls will construction tion on their retirement residence. be a natural gray, to keep the space feeling open. With their background as contractors, they The ceiling will be a pop of blue. 3: The number of winwere ready to forge ahead. Cathy conducted But, it’s the outside that she hasn’t quite dows in the container extensive research before starting construction worked out — yet. 3: The number of sliding glass plans. She talked with other peers in the indus“I don’t want to hide the fact that it’s a shipdoors in the container try and visited RV trade shows to see how they ping container, because I think that’s kind of were laid out inside. cool,” Cathy says. “But, I don’t want it to look like $15,000: The budget for the home But, even her newfound knowledge and exa banged up container.” 620: The square footage of the home perience couldn’t prepare her for what she was Still, it is coming together and should be finabout to experience. 3: The number of cats that also will call ished in about six weeks. They plan to have a “When you have steel framing, steel walls, the green dwelling their home can-opening party instead of a house-warming steel ceilings, it just doesn’t build like concrete party for all their curious friends. blocks of wood framing,” Cathy says. “It was re“What I would tell anyone who is planning this ally a construction education, which was a lot is to think about it, think about it, think about of fun, because it’s so different from what we’re Perry Electric & Maintenance, Our Dream it,” Cathy says. “Talk to people who have done it. Kitchens and neighbor, welder Dennis Jackson. And if you don’t know anyone, Google it.” used to.” The two containers arrived at the beginning Jackson has his own unused container and was Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@ of February, and construction started in the fascinated by the conversion project. plantcityobserver.com.

BY THE NUMBERS




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worthy cause by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Eddy Dean kept attendees and booth hosts entertained.

Plant City team crafts Making Strides fundraiser

Michelle Sullivan

Karen and Paige Blocker

Curious shoppers perused booths for bargains at the fourth annual Crafting for a Cure April 5, at the American Legion in Plant City. Proceeds benefited Making Strides Against Cancer — a walk that raised money for breast cancer research.

Cecilia Nieves brought some furry friends to this year’s event.

Donny Raney and Tori Burrus


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BIG NIGHT OUT by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Francisco Carrillo and Leslie Alvarez

Maria Chavez and Austin Le

Megan Snyder and Bryce Harrell

Students wore beautiful gowns of all colors and styles.

Strawberry Crest students make memories at 2014 Prom Strawberry Crest High School students enjoyed a night of dancing and fun at Prom on Saturday, April 12. This year’s dance was held at the A La Carte Event Pavilion, in Tampa.

Mallory Faulkenberry, Sophia Xiong, Erin Doherty, Taylor Vest, Connor Perry and Bailey McPhee

Brooke Mott-Smith and Devin Parks

Morgan Stout and Jake Jones

Kendra Smith and Calen Neal






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RELAY FOR LIFE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Ava Raab, 5, got the star treatment at the Plant City High School cosmetology students’ booth.

Cali Boles wore a lamp costume for Strawberry Crest high School’s IB 2017 “A Christmas Story”-inspired team.

The Survivors Lap was a time for cancer survivors to celebrate with their caregivers. Laps around the track were easier for some participants.

THIS WEEK’S CROSSWORD ANSWERS Andrew Raab and the rest of the Relay for Life participants were silent during the moving luminaria ceremony.

THIS WEEK’S CRYPTOGRAM ANSWERS

1. A dental patient was talking too much. The dentist angrily cried, “Hold your tongue!” The patient replied: “I will if you take your drill out of my mouth!” 2. A father asked his usually friendly son why he was punching his homework materials. His son replied: “Because my teacher told me to hit the books tonight.”

The newly crowned 2014 Little Miss Plant City Queen and Court made an appearance at Relay for Life.


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AWARD WINNERS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

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ag excellence by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Miranda Lane, Zachary Zolna, Aly Joyner, Jacob Thornton, Darby Hastings, Cole Ebdrup, Hunter Hampton, Tori Griffith, Alyssa Shepherd, Brooke Freeman, Levi Mayo, Alex Fernandez, Kyle Maidens, Mylie Feaster, Lindsey English, Kacee Lewis and Dalton Dry

SWINE WINNERS RECORD BOOK AWARDS

Junior Division: Megan White (Mulrennan FFA) Intermediate Division: Kenneth Hattaway (Turkey Creek FFA) Senior Division: Zachary Bozeman (Turkey Creek FFA)

SHOWMANSHIP AWARDS

Junior Division: Emma Futch (Antioch Critters 4-H) Intermediate Division: Tanner Ashley (Mulrennan Middle FFA) Senior Division: Rachel Carter (Turkey Creek 4-H) Herdsman Awards: Junior Division: Sophie Aten (Chatauqua 4-H) Intermediate Division: Tanner Ashley (Mulrennan Middle FFA) Senior Division: Michael Nading (Riverview FFA)

PREMIER EXHIBITORS

Junior Division: Corbett Wyatt (Antioch Critters 4-H) Intermediate Division: Tanner Ashley (Mulrennan Middle FFA) Senior Division: Michael Nading (Riverview FFA)

BUYERS AWARDS

Grand Champion: Sam Astin, Astin Family Farms ($13.50 per pound). Exhibitor: Cole Hanson Reserve Grand Champion: Steve Wooton, Controls & Weighting ($13.40 per pound). Exhibitor: Zachary Bozeman

STEER WINNERS

Grand Champion: Joel Connell, Charlie Grimes Farms LLC ($15 per pound). Exhibitor: Clay Joyner Reserve Grand Champion: Larry and Debbie Swindle, Rockin S Farms ($12 per pound). Exhibitor: Shannon Gill

A total of 17 students received scholarships 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Livestock Banquet.

Strawberry Festival honors local FFA, 4-H winners Local FFA and 4-H members enjoyed their time in the spotlight at the 2014 Florida Straw-

berry Festival Livestock Banquet April 10, at the Charlie Grimes Family Agricultural Center, at

the Florida Strawberry Festival. Seventeen students were awarded scholar-

ships, and then awards were given to winners in the swine and steer categories.

PREMIUMS

Class 1: Jacob Thornton (Durant FFA) Class 2: Justin Stallard (Durant FFA) Class 3: Mylie Feaster (Durant FFA)

RECORD BOOK AWARDS

Junior Division: Kayla Mosley (Durant FFA) Intermediate Division: Cassidy Dossin (Brandon FFA) Senior Division: Madison Greany (Above & Beyond 4-H)

SHOWMANSHIP AWARDS

Junior Division: Anna Conrad (Strawberry Crest FFA) Intermediate Division: Cassidy Dossin (Brandon FFA) Senior Division: Brooke Freeman (Durant FFA)

HERDSMAN AWARDS

Junior Division: Haley Riley (Strawberry Crest FFA) Intermediate Division: Joshua Lewis (On Target 4-H) Senior Division: Alyssa Shepherd (Durant FFA)

PREMIER EXHIBITOR AWARDS

Junior Division: Haley Riley (Strawberry Crest FFA) Intermediate Division: Cassidy Dossin (Brandon FFA) Senior Division: Alyssa Shepherd (Durant FFA)

GAIN IN WEIGHT

Ethan Ohnstad (Elton Hinton FFA): 3.517 average gain

CARCASS AWARD

Margaret Holt (Durant FFA)

PRODUCER AWARDS

Grand Champion of Show: MP & Ford Cattle Co. (Michael Paul) Reserve Grand Champion of Show: MP & Ford Cattle Co. (Michael Paul) Grand Champion Carcass: CB Club Calves (Billy Brock) Reserve Grand Champion Carcass: Gulf Sierra Cattle (Scott Vaughan)

It was a good evening for Zachary Bozeman, who took home several awards.

Florida Strawberry Festival General Manager Paul Davis introduced the scholarship winners.

Some competitors receieved plenty of hardware at the banquet.




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FAITH MATTERS

Have you heard the good news?

Dear friends in Christ: Easter, I don’t know what is. Allow me to ask you a very If that’s not a message worth personal question: Have you sharing with others this Easter, ever celebrated Easter with I don’t know what is! Lazarus? Listen to these words But what about the grave of our Lord as recorded for us clothes that bind us? What in John 11:44b: “Jesus said to about the habits of the heart? them, ‘Unbind him, What about past hurts and let him go.’” and wounds? What about I love this story of lies we have believed and Jesus raising Lazarus. the guilt that has dogged I always picture Jesus, us? How do we get liberwith a loud, booming ated from those things voice, shouting into that hamper us and keep that cavernous tomb, us from being free to live “Lazarus come out!” At in Jesus? the same time, imagine From Lazarus’ Easter Mary, Martha, Jesus THE REV. story, we know Jesus and the disciples waitalone has the power DEAN R. ing — almost holding to free us from all that PFEFFER their breath — while holds us from living life. this figure wrapped in He heals all hurts — past a burial garment struggles to and present. He forgives the the entrance of the tomb. There evil and wrongdoings of our he is, encased like a mummy lives — past and present. He (as was and is Jewish tradition), releases us from the lies that face-to-face with Jesus, his have bound us — past and friend. Then, I hear Jesus call present. He answers our fears, out for his disciples to unbind so we can face anything, secure Lazarus and set him free. in his presence and power — Like Lazarus, spiritually, all today and tomorrow. In Christ, of us have been corpses (that’s our life is neither finished nor the message of Lent). The Bible limited. There are no limiting describes us as “being dead in cords with Jesus. We are set free trespasses and sins.” Yet, the to live — as the people of God! Scriptures go on to say that Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ has made us alive. He On behalf of the members has called you and me out of and staff at Hope Lutheran, let the grave we have dug for ourme invite you to our special selves with our sinful acts, our worship opportunities begindisobedience and our rebellion ning at 6:30 p.m., Maundy against God — and set us free. Thursday, April 17. On Good This is where we all started off Friday, we will join for a special in life: in a tomb. service of darkness at 6:30 p.m., But that awesome, good and Easter begins with a Sonnews of the gospel is that Jesus, rise service at 7 a.m., followed who has died our deaths and by a delicious Easter breakfast. laid in our tombs, has been We’ll also host our Easter Eggraised from the dead. He has Stravaganza at 9:15 a.m. April called out to each of us in our 20, complete with hundreds sepulchers and invited us to of eggs that will be hidden, a receive his life in us, so that we special Easter Festival Worship can live. at 10:30 a.m., and a Spanish God is in the business of life worship at 5:30 p.m. — not death. He has the power The Rev. Dean R. Pfeffer is the over death and can breathe life senior pastor at Hope Lutheran into anyone who knows he is Church, Plant City. For more, dead and wants to live. If that email him at hopepcpastor@ is not reason to celebrate this gmail.com.

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OBSERVEROBITUARIES Michael Brett Ballard

Michael Brett Ballard, 24, died April 13, 2014, in Clearwater. He was born March 27, 1990, in Tampa, to Michael J. Ballard and Tina (Odom). He was a sales clerk at a convenience store in Clearwater. He is survived by his parents, a daughter, Sophia Ballard; a son, Julian Ballard; twin sisters, Kaylee Brown and Kirsten Ballard; grandparents, Dale and Elizabeth Ballard, and Lex and Hazel Odom; aunt, Tracy Ortiz; and uncle, Lex Odom Jr. Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 18, at Wells Memorial and Event Center, 1903 W. Reynolds St., Plant City. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 19, at Wells Memorial. Burial will follow at Mt. Enon. Online condolences may be made to the family at wellsmemorial.com.

Geneva Mary Chillura

Geneva Mary Chillura, 93, of Plant City, died April 8, 2014, in the Sun City Center Hospice, Ruskin, following a long illness. She was born Aug. 8, 1920, in the Baxter community of Baker County. She had lived for the past 90 years in Tampa and Plant City. She was the daughter of the late Burt and Ada Raulerson. She was a homemaker and a member of the Broadway Baptist Church of Tampa. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Georgia R. Kessler, of Plant City; and several nieces and nephews. Funeral services were held April 15, in the Chapel of Guerry Funeral Home, with the Rev. Fred Raulerson, of Pine Level Church, officiating. Interment in North Prong Cemetery, Baker County.

Mary Lou Ham

Mary Lou Ham, 88, died April 4, 2014. Born in Ojus (Miami/Dade), Mrs. Ham grew up with four brothers and three sisters, on a farm near Plant City, where she learned the values of hard work, frugality and discipline. Married in 1946, she was a loving homemaker, helped to manage Ham’s Pharmacy, in St. Petersburg, and worked as a school crossing guard. She loved her God, her family and baseball (she was an avid Rays fan). She is survived by her son, Alfred Ham (Jana); and daughter, Shirley Gamble (Roger); three grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to Northside Baptist Church, in St. Petersburg, or the SPCA.

P.L. Lawrence

P.L. Lawrence, 79, of Plant City, died April 9, 2014, after a courageous seven-year battle with cancer. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather, who loved to hunt, fish and talk. He enjoyed talking to people and never met a stranger. He worked for and retired from Bowman Transportation and Lakeland Harbor as a maintenance supervisor. He was a member of both Fowler Avenue Baptist Church and Crossroads Baptist. He was known as the church bus driver and served many faithful years. He was preceded in death by the love of his life of 57 years, Janice; and daughter, Kim. He is survived by three children; Perry Lawrence (Shyanne), Tammy Kelley (Tim) and Trina Miller (Roger); 12 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and many other nephews, nieces, family and friends. Funeral services took place April 12, at Garden of Memories Funeral Home; burial at Myrtle Hill Memorial Park. The family would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to those who provided care and comfort to our father over the last month.

John Pass

John Pass, 58, of Plant City, died April 10, 2014. He was a member of Iron Workers Local Union 397. He enjoyed fishing and hunting, and loved his family. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Katrina Pass; daughter, Katie Pass Arline; grandchildren, Michael Pass, and Matthew Pass; brothers, Kenny Pass, Bruce Pass and Gene Edwards (Gloria); sister-in-law, LaRay Grooms (Dennis); “NC momma” Noreen Surratt; nieces, Cherith Pass-Belmonte and Gracie Grooms; nephew, Matthew Pass; and many loving family and friends. He was preceded in death by his son, John Pass Jr. A Celebration of Life was held April 14, at Hopewell Funeral Home, Plant City. Private entombment at Hopewell Memorial Gardens, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at wecare.io.

James Fred Snellgrove

James Fred Snellgrove, 80, of Plant City died April 8, 2014, at South Florida Baptist Hospital, in Plant City. Born Oct. 17, 1933 in Dublin, Ga., he was the son of the late Hubert and Tommie Cochran Snellgrove. He was the husband of Gladys Richter Snellgrove, who survives. James was predeceased by his son, James Fred Snellgrove Jr.; and sister, Gloria Rogers. He served from 1954 to 1956 in the U.S. Army as a specialist third class (technician), was an ironworker and a member of Full Gospel Fellowship. Survivors also include a brother, Hubert Ray Snellgrove; and grandson, Chad Alan Snellgrove. The family will be having private services. Mr. Snellgrove will be interred at Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell. Online condolences may be made to the family at haughtfuneralhome.com.

Glen Stallard

Glen Stallard, 79, of Plant City/Tennessee, died April 9, 2014. He was born March 30, 1935. He attended the Church of God and had a passion for golf. Mr. Stallard was a beloved husband, a loving father, a friend and a true gentleman and who loved God. He was loved by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Carol Stallard of 60 years; two children, Joey Tomberlin and Randy Stallard, both of Plant City; three grandchildren, Robert, Jonathan Tomberlin and Amy Tomberlin Dittebrand; four great-grandchildren, Colton, Ashlyn, Kenzley Tomberlin and Baylin Dittebrand; and two brothers, Paul and Harold Stallard, both of Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at floridamortuary.com.

Jacquelyn L. Stritenberger

Jacquelyn L. Stritenberger, 85, of died April 12, 2014. She is survived by her children, Donald Day (Sybille), of Plant City, Dennis Day (Deborah), of Thonotosassa, Gary Day (Pam), of Morraine, Ohio, and Crystal Wells (Jim) of Fort Walton Beach; brother, Donald Carney; and many loving grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, John Stritenberger; and son, Edward Day. Online condolences may be made to the family at wecare.io.


Sports

YOUTH | HIGH SCHOOL | GOLF | COMMUNITY

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK

Jordan Jolly notched seven goals , two assists for Durant lacrosse. 14 SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM

THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014

PLANTCITYOBSERVER.COM

SIDELINES BASKETBALL

+ Tigers win in second tourney

Once again, the Plant City Tigers’ 10th-graders are champs. They played in a tournament last weekend in Auburndale, and nearly swept the competition. They started April 12, with a loss, 84-64, to the Auburndale Hoops 11th-graders, but that was the only mishap. They then snuck past the Plant City Vipers 11thgraders, 47-44, and ended the day with another 47-44 win over the Land O’ Lakes Gators 10th-graders. The championship game was a rematch with the Gators, but this one wasn’t as close. The Tigers won, 44-36, behind Matt Simpson’s 13 points and Tarik McKelphin’s 12 points and seven rebounds.

life in the fast lane by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Budding career steers local racer overseas After finishing 2013 and starting 2014 strong, driver Aidan Keel was invited to compete in the Rotax Max Euro Challenge. He also got to tour Belgium.

One of the great things about sports is the ability for young athletes to use it as a ticket to another city, state or even a continent. Aidan Keel found out for himself earlier this month. Keel, 12, was invited to compete in Race 1 of the 2014 Rotax Max Euro Challenge — part of a seven-month, country-wide series of four race events for the best of the best. This particular event was held in Genk, Belgium. It’s been a busy year for the young driver, who just moved into the Juniors age group and recently placed 11th at the Florida Winter Tour.

This race, however, was nothing like anything Keel had competed in before. “All of the best kids from Europe go and race at this race,” Keel says. “It’s over 80 drivers in one class, and it’s a pretty cool race. They do four races all over Europe.” He was accompanied by members of the Andersen Racing Team, of which he is a member, and they joined forces with a European team to field a group for this race. When the team arrived in Belgium, they learned quickly how different the racing scene was from what they were used to in America.

BEASTS FROM THE EAST

If you ask Keel — or anyone tuned into the racing scene here — they’ll tell you that the 10 best American drivers in any given race will be separated by a few 10ths of a second. After that, the gaps widen. In Europe, though, everyone on the track is separated by a few 10ths of a second. “They (Europeans) accept racing a lot more than here,” Keel says. “They know what racing is, and they want racing to be a career for them — not just a side hobby to something else. They all have the mindset of want-

SEE KEEL / PAGE 14

WHAT’S ON KLINE’S MIND?

Baseball pranks: Another game within the game

LACROSSE

+ Durant wraps up first season

The first-ever regular season for Durant lacrosse came to a close April 11, and the Lady Cougars made the district playoffs. Thanks to a 16-2 win over Tampa Bay Tech on April 2, Durant secured a rematch with Tampa Catholic — a team that had beaten them, 14-8, in the regular season. More recently, the Lady Cougars closed out the regular season on April 11 with a 14-8 win over Alonso — securing a season sweep, after previously beating the Ravens 10-9 in the opener. Results from the girls’ Wednesday night game against Tampa Catholic were not available by press time. Meanwhile, the boys ended the season with a 13-11 loss to Alonso. Although they couldn’t exact revenge on the Ravens for the 11-9 loss they took in the season opener, the Cougars are looking forward to the future with a solid incoming freshman class.

FOOTBALL

+ NFL honors Landon Galloway

Plant City High School quarterback Landon Galloway has been selected for the NFL — Tampa Chapter’s 2013-14 ScholarAthlete Team. Galloway, a first-team All-County selection and Hillsborough All-Star Game MVP, boasts a 4.41 GPA and is committed to the U.S. Air Force Academy. He joins 15 other Hillsborough students.

Courtesy photo

Aidan Keel said he had a great experience racing in Europe.

Michael Cameron, Kerrie Gafford, Gary Pike and Dr. Carlos Lamoutte Left: Rustin Bourbeau shoots from the fairway.

FORE! by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

HITTING

THELINKS Friday’s weather was ideal for golfing, and golfers who participated in the RICOH Children’s Golf Classic April 11, at Walden Lake, took full advantage of it.

Mac McGrath, Jim Scott, Ryan Rollyson and Craig Brown

The charity tournament, sponsored by South Florida Baptist Hospital, followed a four-person scramble format and featured some tasty barbecue for guests.

Rustin Bourbeau, Angie Nierman, Steve Nierman and Bruce Rodwell

Part of the reason I love baseball is that no other sport gives you as much freedom for goofing around with teammates. Pranks and baseball go together like peanut butter and jelly, which is why you’ll often catch some if you pay attention. On Sunday morning, I went to Deadspin. com and immediately saw the headline, “Jeff Francoeur’s Teammates Pulled A Hilarious Month-Long Prank On Him.” Turns out, one of the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA) players had even made a short film out of this: The guys spent an entire month convincing Francoeur that one of their pitchers was deaf. “What an idiot,” many of them said. Francoeur, a nine-year Major Leaguer, joined El Paso this season and missed a bit of the manager’s sarcasm one day in practice. After that, pitcher JUSTIN Jorge Reyes (with much help KLINE from the team) spent the entire month pretending to be deaf, and “Frenchy” totally bought it. He didn’t find out until the players held a clubhouse meeting and showed him the video, and his reaction was priceless. Until I watched the video, I would have told you that my favorite baseball pranks came before my time. If you Google something along the lines of, “Most superstitious athletes ever,” you’ll see household names such as Michael Jordan and Patrick Roy, but you’ll also see Kevin Rhomberg. Or, it might be drawn out to “Kevin ‘Touch Me, Touch Me’ Rhomberg.” Here’s why: This former Cleveland Indian was notorious for having an uncontrollable physical quirk: If anyone touched him, he had to touch them back. It wasn’t a game, just his nature. When his teammates caught on, they (being typical ballplayers) decided to have as much fun with this as possible. They often touched Rhomberg in the dugout and then go hide somewhere, leaving him confused. When he became confused, he had to touch everyone around him, because he didn’t know any better. Once, a teammate touched him with a ball in practice and then threw it out of the field; Rhomberg allegedly spent two hours searching for the ball.

SEE KLINE / PAGE 16


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KEEL / PAGE 13 ing to win, if they’re coming from the back or if they’re first.” Fiercer competition leads to rougher racing, in some cases. And differences in the European track make it easier for the drivers to go harder than they would on an American course. “The track has a lot more grip, because there’s 80 drivers going around on one compound every day for a week,” Keel says. “Here, it’s a few drivers going around different tire compounds — not very good for the track. But there, the grip never leaves. Even if it’s raining out.” There was “a lot” of bumping in the races, with Keel both taking and giving them to hang in there. Although it was legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. who said, “Second place is the first loser,” the Europeans seem to live by that phrase even more than some American drivers. “They never have a thing where they’re thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll come in second,’” Keel says. “It’s never that. It’s always, they have to win.” Keel says he did well in practice but recorded a DNF in one of the heat races. This meant he had to place well in the lastchance qualifier to make the main race, but he crashed out. Even though he didn’t finish as well as he had hoped, Keel still looks at the trip as a great experience.

GOING AROUND GENK

Spending nine days in Belgium meant Keel got to see much more than just the racetrack. For someone who had never left the country before, it was a memorable experience. The first thing that came up was the food, which he claims

Courtesy photo

Aidan Keel, right, with coach/mechanic Ryan Child, visited a train museum in Genk, Belgium. is “a lot better” than what he has stateside. “A lot of the food there is Italian,” Keel says. “I’m not sure why. But spaghetti and lasagna were two of the biggest meals.” As most people with smartphones do, he snapped a picture of his favorite meal — a penne dish — and sent it to his parents. One would think that, in a place as racing-crazy as Europe, the cars would be worth checking out. Not so, says Keel. “The cars there — they’re all small hatchback cars,” he says. “You never see a big truck anywhere.” When the team wasn’t at the racetrack, the members toured the countryside. They checked out an old train museum and a World War II monument and marveled at all the old architecture. Because wind power is popular in Belgium, the team got to see the massive wind turbines that power the city of Genk. Many of the buildings were more than a century old, something that caught Keel’s

eye. The people were friendly and largely multilingual. Keel says some people were fluent in Dutch, French and English — impressive, yet maybe a little odd for a country that serves so much Italian food. At the end of the visit, though, Belgium seemed much more like rush hour on the Howard Frankland Bridge, in Tampa. “The first day we landed, it was fine,” Keel says. “But going back, it was two hours of traffic. It’s supposed to be a 30-minute drive. You had to check in at 9:30, and we got there right at 9:30, but I guess they had people with standby tickets. And by the time we got there, I guess they had already given our seats away, so they said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re too late to sign in.’” Still, despite missing his original flight home to Plant City, Keel says he is pleased with the experience. “I would go back,” he says. Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobserver.com.

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM

JORDAN JOLLY Durant High School’s boys lacrosse team didn’t exactly go out the way it wanted to, following up a 13-7 win over Robinson April 9, with a 13-10 loss to Alonso two days later. But, there were a few bright spots in that stretch, one of them being Jordan Jolly’s performance. The junior midfielder contributed seven goals and two assists over the final two games, with five of those goals coming in the Alonso game. You weren’t get so lucky on Friday, losing the rematch to Alonso. But, you had a pretty good game, yourself. What were you feeling out there? I just felt like we needed to win, so I tried to do my best to make it happen. And you guys came just two goals shy of the win this time. That was really disappointing. I’m really disappointed in myself. I feel like I let the team down a little bit. But, we’ll try to get it next year. As a team, we were a little bit disappointed, but we knew that we did a lot better than in the (Alonso) game before that at the beginning of the season. Just showing that we came together helped a lot. What are you all hoping to do next year? Next year, I’m hoping to have a record above .500, and to at least make districts. What are some of your hobbies outside of lacrosse? I used to wrestle, before I messed up my shoulder. So now, I can’t wrestle anymore. But, that’s about it. I just love to play sports

— a few sports with my friends but nothing serious. I hang out with my friends and play lacrosse a lot.

Have you played for anyone else, besides Durant? I play for West Florida. Last year, I played for Elite. I’ve played for Tampa Bay Fire in past years. I’ll be playing for West Florida this summer, to. Do you have any favorite athletes? My favorite Major League Lacrosse player would probably be (midfielder) Paul Rabil, or (midfielder) Kyle Harrison, because they put a whole new twist on the game. Kyle Harrison plays with the Ohio Machine, and Paul Rabil plays with the Boston Cannons. Do you want to go pro like them, or do you have a different goal? My goal is, for now, to get recruited by somebody in college. I’m taking it one goal at a time. If you could have any one superpower, what would you pick? I’d probably pick super speed, so that I could get around everyone.


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KLINE / PAGE 13 If you were wondering, he’s fine: Rhomberg is co-owner of a baseball academy in Ohio and (probably) does not have to deal with scheming teammates anymore. Francoeur’s monthlong blunder might have edged out the stories of Rhomberg’s tormenters to become my favorite baseball prank ever. But, that’s just my opinion. What do other baseball fans have to say? So, I called up our high schools’ head coaches this week and asked just one question: “What’s the best baseball prank you’ve ever seen or been a part of?” Although some had trouble picking any one prank or moment that stuck out, I did hear a few good ones. Mike Fryrear, Plant City High School: “One that happened at UNF when I first came in as a freshman. Not one guy said a word to me for a week straight. The prank was trying to make me uncomfortable, and they were trying to teach me respect — I was the new guy coming in. “I got a hit to win a game at the beginning of fall, and the team didn’t say a word to me,” he said. “I snapped on them, and they all just started dying laughing. Even the head coach. They were waiting to see how long it took me to snap. “Then the coaches and players gave me a big hug, and dumped a bucket of ice on me,” Fryrear said. “I was pretty upset at the whole situation — I barely knew anybody, and even my roommate was in on it. We would talk to each other, as roommates, but once we got on the baseball field, he wouldn’t say a word to me. It might have been a practical joke that went a little too far, but it was fun and entertaining. “ Of course, turnabout is fair play. “We pulled the same prank the next year on another freshman, and the guy came in

and snapped his bat over the bench,” Fryrear admits. “We were dying laughing, and we kept the bat as a souvenir. At the last game of the year, we taped the bat back together, and we all signed it as a team. It was a gift for him. It was pretty memorable, and he still has the bat framed up in his study room.” Eric Beattie, Strawberry Crest High School: “I’ve seen Icy Hot in jockstraps, although one of the funniest things I’ve seen happened in a ‘Kangaroo Court.’ “One of my managers in minor league ball (Greenville Drive — Boston Red Sox SingleA affiliate) was Gabe Kapler,” Beattie says. “One of our players found a picture of Kapler in a cheetah-print speedo, posing for some fitness magazine. They blew it up, printed it out and wrote in big letters, ‘Gabe is the Babe.’ “They put it in the ‘Kangaroo Court’ box,” he says. “Gabe was the judge, and he didn’t know what was in the box, and he pulled the picture out on the bus. I’m sure he probably thought he was safe, (because) he was the judge. It drew a lot of laughs. “We also put grip tape on the back of people’s shoes, and, during a post-game speech, someone would bring a lighter and light the end of the tape on fire,” Beattie says. “It would eventually go up to the top of their shoe. Nobody ever got seriously injured, though.” Maybe a little cruel, but all in good fun. Boys will be boys. * The short version of ‘Kangaroo Court’ is that it is a mock justice system used by baseball teams to punish players who have engaged in unruly behavior or committed mistakes on the playing field. The offenses are written down and placed in a box, which the judge pulls from when ‘court’ is in session. Punishments are not actually severe: They may be monetary, or they may be embarrassing. Either way, it’s meant to be humorous.

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WEATHER

WED.

April 9

0.09

THURS.

TEMPERATURES

April 10

0.00

FRI.

0.00

SAT.

April 12

0.00

0.00

MON.

April 14

0.00

TUES.

April 15

0.05

APRIL

TO DATE

.36 (2013: 1.29)

YEAR

TO DATE 4.81 (2013: 5.29)

HIGH 78 79 77 80 82 83 85

Thurs., April 17 Fri., April 18 Sat., April 19 Sun., April 20 Mon., April 21 Tues., April 22 Wed., April 23

April 11

SUN.



PLANT CITY

RAIN

(INCHES)

April 13

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SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES Thurs., April 17 Fri., April 18 Sat., April 19 Sun., April 20 Mon., April 21 Tues., April 22 Wed., April 23

SUNRISE 7:02 a.m. 7:01 a.m. 7 a.m. 6:59 a.m. 6:58 a.m. 6:57 a.m. 6:56 a.m.

SUNSET 7:54 p.m. 7:55 p.m. 7:56 p.m. 7:56 p.m. 7:57 p.m. 7:57 p.m. 7:58 p.m.

LOW 67 65 59 62 62 62 62

MOON PHASES

April 15

April 22

BLUEBERRY PRICES

SHIPPING POINT: CENTRAL AND NORTH FLORIDA PACKAGES 12 4.4-ounce cups w/ lids 12 6-ounce cups w/ lids

LOW $24 $30

HIGH $28 $36

March 30

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

April 7

, 3&

Lisa Donini captured this shot of the mesmerizing “Blood Moon” lunar eclipse April 15. She took this shot with her Nikon and a 350-mm zoom lens and no tripod. 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.

YOU’RE ABLE

By Gary Cooper | Edited by Timothy E. Parker ACROSS 1 Donna Summer’s genre 6 Positive type of attitude 11 ___ stick (incense) 15 Recyclable containers 19 Text kin 20 Classic theater name 21 Pay to join the hand 22 A woodwind 23 Migrating honker 25 Backpack contents 26 Zeppo or Chico 27 Become mature 28 “Journey to the Center of the Earth” author 29 Run faster than 31 Inevitable, as a conclusion 34 Genetic factor 35 Smidgen that’s smashed 38 Has a craving for 39 Beginning for electric or nuclear 40 Opposite of “in every way” 42 Angler’s basket 45 Mother deer 46 It replaced the lira 48 Words that end bachelorhood 49 They’re in the will 55 Food preservative? 57 Viking ship item 58 Florida metropolis 59 “Big Band,” for one 61 Dish of meat and rice (var.) 62 Emblem of Turkey 65 Civil rights org. 67 Like screwball comedies 68 14th-century literary classic (with “The”) 72 Prefix in many Ocean

74 75 79 81 82 84 85 87 91 92 94 95 96 98 101 104 105 106 110 112 114 115 118 119 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129

Spray drinks Arrogant one One way to enjoy a frozen lake Poor, as workmanship Costa del ___ “A Lesson from ___” Ill-mannered fellow Gave a hard time Honestly Suffix with ideal or final Pointless Olympic event? “Fast cash” site ___ Jack (British flag) Trouble for Pauline Flattering, in an oily way Perspiration Hindu noble Paparazzo’s quarry Lute’s kin Played the leading role Alluring woman “Without further ___ ...” Bestow much love (on) One glib with a fib What political races require ___-the-counter Money, in slang Dieter’s annoyance Like Thor Isn’t up to it Puts two and two together Comparatively crafty Dermatologist’s concerns

DOWN 1 Coffee request, sometimes 2 Insect’s final stage

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

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 24 29 30 32 33 34 36 37 39 41 42 43 44 45 47 50 51 52 53 54 56 60 63 64

More mentally there Snoop grp. Methuselah-like Well-thought-out Puts on a pedestal Gas in some advertising lights Amount of medication Microphone tester’s word Spotted cat Not repeated Begin, as a journey Repeated word in a Doris Day song Regain consciousness Lawyers’ grp. Neither hide ___ hair Driver’s license datum Shakespeare’s waterway Rich rock Declares a saint Vase-shaped pitcher Guy’s dates “... of ___ I sing” Buckeye State dweller Reshape “Beverly Hills, 90210” actress Spelling Jackal’s kin Prefix with -aholic “To the ___, march!” Dublin’s isle Aswan structure Mr. Van Winkle Prayer ending Liquid measures Altar plates Come closer to Food carrier Secretive hooch container Director’s command Truckloads Like a romantic dinner

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65 66 69 70 71 72 73 76 77 78 79 80

Pecan, for one Walked nervously It’s all over the house Weighted weapon on the pampas “Make do” amount Beer, after a belt Platforms for speakers Trendy antioxidant berry Plant used in making poi Adam’s garden Send, as merchandise “Uh-huh!”

82 83 86 88 89 90 93 97 99 100 101 102 103

Like some SoHo galleries Fugitive’s flight Caught sight of Two-syllable foot Rectangular courtyard “Do ___ others as ...” Birthstone for May Magazine filler Puts on notice Stop-sign color Printing goof More cautious “National Velvet” author Bagnold

107 Hibernation locales 108 Oft-abbreviated Latin phrase 109 Smelling organs 111 Pond organism 112 Transport by truck 113 “Employees ___” 115 Bashful’s co-worker 116 Nero’s eggs 117 Bowling pin count 119 Its logo is an eye 120 Anti-apartheid party, for short 121 Playfully noncommittal

C RY P T O G R A M S 1 . J Z R D A J C E JA B R D A K J X A J C T B D U A I I F N H W. AW R Z R D A B X A J D U S B C V H S B R Z , “ W I C Z V I N S A I D U N R ! ” AW R E JA B R D A S R E C B R Z : “ B K B C C B M V I N A J T R V I N S Z S B C C I N A I M F V F I N AW ! ” 2. J QJIWGP JLSGE WVL FLFJTTM QPVGUETM LZU DWM WG DJL YFUBWVUK WVL WZNGDZPS NJIGPVJTL. IWG LZU PGYTVGE: “ X G B J F L G N M I G J B W G P I Z T E N G I Z W V I I W G X Z Z S L I Z U V K W I .”




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04.17.14 Plant City Times & Observer  

04.17.14 Plant City Times & Observer

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