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Plant City Times &





The Peacemakers gaining popularity in Plant City.

Plant City’s Cody YMCA throws Colding earns Under old-fashioned Armour accolade. pool party. SEE PAGE 11 SEE PAGE 8



+ Bluegrass greats strum into P.C. The Central Florida Bluegrass Association will host a two-day camping and bluegrass event April 25 to 26, at Boone’s Nursery, 1111 E. Sam Allen Road, Plant City. Camping and jamming begins Friday April 25. Music takes place April 26, beginning with JR & Cecil and Friends at 3 p.m.; The Cotton -Eyed Does at 4 p.m.; Little Girl & The Dreadful Snakes at 5 p.m.; The Florida State Bluegrass Band at 6 p.m.; and The Roys at 7 p.m. Camping costs $45 for sites with water and electricity or $25 for no utilities. Admission is $5 for April 25 and $12 for April 26. For more information, call (863) 397-4497.

+ St. Mary’s hosts springtime event

St. Mary’s Community Church will celebrate the season with its Springtime at Tiffany’s event at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the church, 907 E. Laura St., Plant City. The event will feature Denesha Bradley, the Rev. Timothy Knighten and Hillsborough County Public Schools’ Peggy Adams. Tickets are $10 for adults; children 10 and under are free. For more information, call the church, (813) 7541616.


DOODLE BUG by Michael Eng | Editor


OPTIMIZATION Plant City homeschool student Kristyn Ardrey is one of 50 finalists in the Doodle 4 Google 2014 Contest. She already has won a trip to Google’s San Francisco headquarters, and her artwork could end up on the search engine’s home screen.

Kristyn Ardrey awoke noticed, and neither in a panic. For the past did a panel of judges two weeks, she had that included, among operated on just two others, author Rick hours of sleep a day. Riordan; Rosanne SomThe rest of her time was erson, president of the spent crafting and perRhode Island School of fecting her submission Design; astronaut Ron for Doodle 4 Google Garan; and Phil Lord 2014 Contest. and Christopher Miller, Every time she directors of “The LEGO looked at the piece, she Movie.” saw more issues. The Last month, Kristyn, shading wasn’t right on 18, was named Google’s that leaf in the corner. winner from Florida The butterflies needed (and one of 10 in her more color. Does that age category) and joins red snake pop enough? 49 other state finalists. Michael Eng On the night before Kristyn Ardrey is almost completely self-taught, save from her The accolade already the deadline to enter, weekly acrylics classes with LouAnn Watson, at the Art Lounge has earned her a trip to Kristyn again burned Gallery, in Historic Downtown Plant City. Google’s headquarters, her already-burnt canGoogle Mountain View, Gone! it out. That’s Mother-of-the- in California. Public votdle at both ends — finally Kristyn’s mother, Angela, Year material right there, ing, which begins at noon succumbing to exhausthought she was doing her she thought. tion. April 29, and runs through Even today, Kristyn in- 8 p.m. May 9, will deterWhen she opened her daughter a favor. She coleyes, the sun was shining. lected the piece, completed sists the piece is incom- mine the winner of each of And she realized her piece the entry form, packages plete. And perhaps it is. everything up and shipped But, if so, no one at Google SEE KRISTYN / PAGE 4 was gone.

+ Durant High presents comedy

Durant High School’s thespians will present “Captain Fantastic” at 7 p.m. April 24 to 26, in the high school auditorium, 4748 Cougar Path, Plant City. Tickets are $5. For more, call (813) 757-9075.

+ Plant City Entertainment

Plant City Entertainment will present “Sin, Sex, and the C.I.A.” from May 2 to 4, at the theater, 101 N. Thomas St. Doors open at 8 p.m. For more information, visit

, 3&

This week’s winner is

Tyler Smith

See his photo on PAGE 15.

This year, Google challenged student artists to express the theme, “If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place ...” Kristyn Ardrey’s submission depicts a solar-powered robot that protects nature from harm.

hero’s fight

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Burn pits blamed for P.C. Marine’s cancer

Sean Terry died April 19 of cancer, which his family believes came from his work with the U.S. Marines.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Terry put on his dress blues. Once, a muscular Marine had filled the fabric. Now, his 33-year-old body had withered in size, and he couldn’t really stand. But, he had made it his final mission to attend a father-daughter dance with his three girls. It would be their last. Terry, a former Plant City resident, had been battling HOW TO esophageal HELP cancer. In Although S e p t e m b e r, the Terrys live he went on a in Denver, high advenwhere all the ture mountain fundraisers vacation, river will be held, rafting and Plant City camping. Just residents still 12 days later, can support he was diagthe family nosed. by visiting At his DenGoFundMe. ver home April com/saving19, he took his sean. final breaths while his wife, Robyn, kissed his forehead, cheeks and mouth. He finally could pass in peace. Since his diagnosis, Terry had been trying to get 100% of benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs, so that he could take care of his family following his death. To do so, he had to prove that his cancer was caused from his service with the military, particularly his exposure to burn pits. The saga to help his family involved a vivacious band of motorcycle riders, one very important letter and a resilient spirit that would not settle for defeat.


Terry was living in Plant City when he first joined the Marines


TAKING OUT THE TRASH by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Winter Haven church assists family WellSpring of Central Florida helped a local family clean up years of plant growth.

Vines twisted and writhed among the dry leaves that were piled high in the Hicks’ lot off North Gordon Street. An old, rotten shed leaned to the side. Ferns were waist-high. The jungle of the back yard was out of control — and too daunting a task for elderly siblings Harriet, Robert and William Hicks. They didn’t know what to do about the overgrowth, until their neighbor Jerry Vinnedge, approached his church, WellSpring of Central Florida, about the problem. The small congregation of about 25

loved the idea of helping the family. On April 12, six members spent almost four hours cleaning up the Hicks’ back yard. “I think it was great,” Harriet Hicks said. “Those young-uns came out there and came all the way from Winter Haven.” The volunteers took care to work around the family’s pet cemetery that holds all their beloved former dogs. They manicured the memorial, before taking down the wooden shed and ripped up its foundation.

They also cleared out all the brush in the yard, piling trash bag after trash bag on the sidewalk. All the while, and much to their relief, they only saw one snake. “The congregation did such a good job,” Associate Pastor Jason Deshazo said. “It was an honor for us to do it. They are a sweet family. It was for the glory of God.” Now that the yard is cleared, Harriet Hicks, 70, said she can take care of the


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

Courtesy photo

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Terry was able to attend a fatherdaughter dance before he died.

Vol.1,No.38 | Onesection Crossword...................15





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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. Born to Run — weekly run takes place at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. Casey Stidham — performance takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. For more information, call (813) 752-9100. Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle — begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at Bealsville Recreation Center, 5009 Nesmith Road. The event, presented by the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center, will include a screening of the film, “Slavery by Another Name.” For more information, call (813) 754-1578 or visit Line Dancing Lessons — takes place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse Grill, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City. (813) 7374444. Plant City Dentistry Open House — takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at 2313 Thonotosassa Road. (813) 7046986. Trivia Thursdays — begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, at

O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

FRIDAY, APRIL 25 Brandon Rotary Club 38th Annual Wild Game Night — takes place at 6 p.m. Friday, April 25, at Lupton’s Boggy Bottom Ranch, 8407 Lupton Place, Plant City. Men only; all proceeds benefit local charities, including Rotary’s Camp Florida, the Brandon Outreach Clinic and the Emergency Care Help Organization. Tickets are $75. For more, visit brandonrotary. org. Central Florida Bluegrass Association — takes place April 25 to 26, at Boone’s Nursery, 1111 E. Sam Allen Road, Plant City. Camping begins April 25. Music takes place April 26, beginning with JR & Cecil and Friends at 3 p.m.; The CottonEyed Does at 4 p.m.; Little Girl & The Dreadful Snakes at 5 p.m.; The Florida State Bluegrass Band at 6 p.m.; and The Roys at 7 p.m. Camping costs $45 for sites with water and electricity or $25 for no utilities. Admission is $5 for April 25 and $12 for April 26. (863) 397-4497. Fancy Flea Vintage Home & Garden Market — takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 25, and Saturday, April 26, at the Florida Strawberry Festival, 303 N. Lemon St., Plant City. Admission is $5, free parking. (863) 712-3278 or fancyflea. net. 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 S.R. 60 E., Plant City. (813) 737-4444.

Plant City Social Dance Club — takes place from 8 to 11:15 p.m. Fridays, at Stardust Dance Center, 1405 S. Collins St., Plant City. Cost is $5 for members and associate members; $7 for non-members. Band will be Bill Mann. Ken Miller, (863) 409-7714 or Terry Cole — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, April 25, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

SATURDAY, APRIL 26 First Assembly of God Fourth Annual Rib Fest — takes place form 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the church, 602 Charlie Griffin Road, Plant City. Barbecue dinners are $7. (813) 752-3351. Just Friends Band — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, April 26, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 7648818. Walden Lake Community Garage Sale — takes place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26, in Walden Lake. Walk with a Doc — takes place at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 26, at Oracle Home Health Office, 1602 W. Timberlane Drive. (813) 752-3456 or

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: Photos are welcome. Deadline is noon Thursday.


Seventh Annual Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival — takes place April 25 to 27, at Keel and Curley Winery, 5202 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. Festival will feature the winery’s annual blueberry U-pick, live music, vendors and much more. For more, call (813) 752-9100 or visit 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. For more information, call (813) 752-1220.

MONDAY, APRIL 28 Beginner Square Dance Lessons — classes take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays, at Strawberry Square, 4401 Promenade Blvd., Plant City. First class is free. Plus Square Dance lessons are from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (813) 752 0491. Teen Advisory Board Meeting — takes place from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, April 28, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. (813) 757-9215.

TUESDAY, APRIL 29 Plant City Commons Community Garden Pot Luck — takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, at the garden, 302 Carey St. Karen

Alexander St. For more, call (813) 764-8818.

THURS., MAY 1 Ribbon Cutting: Top Shelf Sports Bar & Grill — takes place at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 1, at 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-B. For more, visit

TUESDAY, MAY 6 Elizabeth, (813) 435-8111. New Member Reception — takes place at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, 106 N. Evers St., Plant City. RSVP by calling Jane at (813) 754-3707.

Plant City Christian Women’s Connection — meets at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 6, at Walden Lake Golf & Country Club, 2001 Clubhouse Drive, Plant City. Cost for luncheon is $14. Speaker will be Barbara Perkins. For more information, call (813) 7523786.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30 ONGOING Geek Club — meets from 4 to 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. The meeting will include a screening of a movie that follows the adventures of the Caped Crusader. (813) 757-9215. Get-Fresh Plant City Market — takes place 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, at 115 W. Alsobrook St., Plant City. Fresh local veggies, dairy, jams, poultry, eggs, local crafts and more. Karen Elizabeth, (813) 4358111. Open Mike Night — begins at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S.

1961 PCHS Planter Classmates Monthly Dutch-treat Lunch — takes place at 1 p.m. the last Thursday of each month, at Outback Steakhouse, 1203 Townsgate Court, Plant City. Babytime — takes place from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Thursdays, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. (813) 757-9215. Berry Patch Quilt Guild — meets from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, at First Presbyterian Church of Plant City, 404 W. Reynolds St. Use the entrance on Thomas Street. Elaine Green, For more, call (813) 763-7353.

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support structure by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Construction Angels to host first Plant City fundraiser

The newly formed Tampa chapter of Construction Angels will host its first fundraiser May 1, at Keel and Curley Winery. The vision of an angel doesn’t usually conjure up images of one in a yellow hard hat. But a newly formed chapter of Construction Angels in Tampa strives to help families who have lost a loved one from a construction-related accident. Like one Riverview family, whose father, husband and breadwinner fell into a hole and suffocated after an excavation site collapsed under his feet earlier this year. “Unfortunately, there is an upward trend of accidents with work being busier,” said Dean Sims II, founder of the Tampa Chapter. According to the Florida Department of Labor, fatalities on construction jobs in Florida increased from 41 in 2011 to 55 in 2012, a 26% jump. As the vice president at Sims Crane & Equipment Co., Sims

IF YOU GO WHEN: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 1 WHERE: Keel and Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road TICKETS: $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Those who register in advance will receive a Construction Angels wine glass REGISTRATION: SimsCrane. com or CONTACT: Dean Sims at (800) 282-6651 or dsims@

has done construction work throughout Florida. When he learned about the increase in work-related fatalities and the work the Ft. Lauderdale-based Construction Angels was do-

ing, he knew he wanted to get involved. “I thought (Construction Angels) was pretty cool,” Sims said. “But why have only have it in one area, when we can help people all over?” Construction Angels’ Tampa chapter will hold its first fundraiser from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 1, at Keel and Curley Winery. The event will feature live music, as well as a red carpet, commemorative and beer and wine, and a silent auction with prizes, such as a private cruise on a 60-foot yacht. Registration is $25 online and $30 at the door. All proceeds will benefit the local chapter of Construction Angels, which will help families throughout Central Florida. Construction Angels aids families with financial assistance, counseling, hospice

care, social security and more. Sims said he is particularly proud of the organization’s counseling program, because many families are shocked and hurt by sudden deaths from accidents. His mother, Sharon Daniel, is a social worker. “It gives us something to work on together,” Sims said. Construction Angels was started in Ft. Lauderdale about three years ago and has been helping families throughout the state but primarily in South Florida. With the Tampa Chapter, Sims will target Central Florida, including Plant City. “Plant City has a lot of working families,” Sims said. “They are building America. It’s going to be a fun night that will bring people together and let people know about us and what we do.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

IN FOCUS by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Rose Tibbets is a veteran of Crest’s drama department.

Jessica Lawrence, Ryan Kehrmeyer and Ruby Moore



Joel Wilson Left: Ruby Moore starred as Elle in Crest’s spring production.

Alexandro Velazquez portrayed Warner.

Strawberry Crest High School’s Drama Department had its audience in stitches April 9, during its spring production, “Legally Blonde the Musical.” The musical is based on the 2001 film, “Legally Blonde,” starring Reese Witherspoon. Strawberry Crest thespian Ruby Moore starred as California sorority sister, Elle Woods, as she tried to win back her man by attending the prestigious Harvard Law School.

health matters by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Billie Martin portrayed Elle’s confidant Paulette.

EDUCATION by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Amber Jurgensen

Brenda Contreras wants to study criminolgy after she graduates from Simmons Career Center.

Bailey Scholarship offered to career centers first time

Brenda Contreras received the scholarship for Plant City’s Simmons Career Center. By the time Brenda Contreras arrived at her grandmother’s house, there were detectives crawling all over. Just moments before, there had been a gang-related drive-by shooting into the home. Contreras was thankful her grandmother was safe. But, she was also watching the detectives closely. “From that day, that’s what I’ve wanted to do,” Contreras said. “No doubt about it.” Contreras decided she would go to college to become a homicide detective. But, there were a couple of issues. She had a bad attitude about school and wasn’t sure she would be able to afford college. That was two years ago. Since then, Contreras has turned her life around, and people have noticed. Her guidance counselor, Jama Hoffman, helped her submit an application for the Bailey Family Foundation Scholarship. The Simmons Career Center student won the $5,000 scholarship. “I just want to be able to help people in my situation,” Contreras said. Contreras’ parents are from Mexico originally. She has three other siblings but will be the first in her family to graduate high school and continue to college. In middle school and high school, she acted up in class so much so that she got kicked out of Strawberry Crest High School after her sophomore year. Contreras transitioned into a home-school student, but that didn’t work, either. On a vacation to Texas, Contreras purposely left her laptop at home, so she wouldn’t have had to do her schoolwork — much to her parents’ dismay. Then, her cousin told her parents about Simmons Career Center. During Contreras’ first year, she didn’t feel like the teachers were there for her. She also missed a lot of school, because she wanted to work and make money

rather than learn. But entering her senior year, she knew she decided she wanted to earn her high school diploma and not settle for a GED or drop out. She was able to catch up 14 credits and plans to attend Hillsborough Community College in the fall. “Brenda was working so hard and was ahead of the rest of the students, really motivated, so I called her in and gave her the scholarship as soon as I got the application,” Hoffman said. “She turned out to be the first student to finish all requirements for the 18-credit diploma option, so it was fitting that she receive the honor.” The scholarship has never been offered to career centers before this year. Hoffman knew about the scholarship from working at Riverview High School. Historically, the scholarship is only available to students at traditional high schools. But, Simmons introduced a new 18-credit diploma option this year, which enrolled 70 students. “Knowing the Bailey Foundation was focused on helping promote more access to secondary education, especially for low-income, first-generation college students, who had the potential to do well in college, I wrote the foundation and asked them to consider our school, telling them that almost every student we had in our 18-credit diploma option fit their qualifications,” Hoffman said. “It took a few months, but I eventually heard back, and not only did they offer the scholarship to our career center, but (also) to the other career centers in the county.” The Bailey Family Foundation received 2,800 applications and will award nearly 500 scholarships for 2014-2015 college tuition. Contact Amber Jurgensen at

Walk With a Doc event moseys into Walden Lake

After changing hands, the Plant City-area Walk with a Doc program will take place this weekend. This weekend, Plant City residents will have the chance to Walk With a Doc once again. This time, though, there are a few changes. The internationally recognized program, formerly led in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World by cardiologist Dr. Max Rattes, is now being organized by Oracle Home Health Agency. Also, the venue has been moved from Alderman’s Ford Regional Park to the trails within the Walden Lake community — right by Oracle’s offices. “It’s designed to help people engage in physical activity,” said Susan Nieves, of Oracle. “Specifically, walking for better heart health.” The program encourages doctors to go on a walk with patients as well as people who just want to know


WALK WITH A DOC WHEN: 9 a.m. Saturday, April 26 WHERE: Oracle Home Health Office, 1602 W. Timberlane Drive INFO: (813) 752-3456 or online at

more about living a healthy lifestyle. The walks often are about two miles long, as is the case with Plant City’s event. There are also a number of goods and services available at the event, such as blood-pressure tests, door prizes and more. “Everything is free,” Nieves said. “We don’t charge people to set up,

and nobody is going to sell anything.” A licensed professional also will be available to discuss a variety of health-related topics with walkers. Dr. Rattes also will be participating in Saturday’s event. Walk With a Doc, founded nine years ago in Ohio, currently has six locations in Florida. Saturday’s Plant City walk is the only one listed in Hillsborough County. Nationally, these walks are held in 32 states. And, internationally, the program has followings in Canada, Russia and Australia. It’s also not too late to register. Anyone wishing to do so should call Nieves at (813) 695-5285. For more information about the event, visit Oracle’s Facebook page at For more information about the Walk With a Doc program, visit the official website, Courtesy photo Contact Justin Kline at jkline@ Walk With a Doc, scheduled for Saturday, has moved from Alderman’s Ford Regional Park to the Walden Lake trail for 2014.

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KRISTYN / PAGE 1 the five age categories as National Finalists. From there, one will be named the National Winner of Doodle 4 Google. Should Kristyn win the contest completely, she will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 Google for Education grant for Plant City High School and more. Best of all: Her doodle, titled, “ECO-BOT: Nature’s Caretaker,” will be featured on

the U.S. Google homepage on June 9. Not bad for a home-grown Plant City girl who hasn’t yet been on an airplane.


Kristyn only pulls out her art supplies after darkness has overcome her country home. She waits for everyone else to fall asleep, for the dog to finally stop yipping. Only then will she pull out her art supplies from under the bed. Art professors would cringe

at Kristyn’s preferred posture when she draws. There’s no easel, no stool, no proper lighting. Sitting on the floor of her bedroom, Kristyn hunches over the masterpiece-inthe-making, her hand clawed unnaturally around her colored pencil or pen to accommodate the unusual perspective. “I learned on my bedroom floor,” she says. “And I can see more; I can see everything.” Today, Kristyn is fully stocked with professional-level pencils,

pens, markers — anything she needs to create. But, her foray into arts started — quite simply — with crayons and any writing utensil she could find in the junk drawer. Kristyn’s early works included creating her own storybooks — complete with custom illustrations — and calendars. “I grew up with a big imagination,” she says. “I didn’t watch much TV. I had a bunch of toys, and I built things. ... I’m the artist of the family. It’s been a lifelong passion.”

TERRY / PAGE 1 in 2001. He had seen the battlefield, completing two tours in Iraq. But, even combat couldn’t break him. While in Fallujah, he was taking a break next to a truck on a dusty road when his unit was attacked with mortars. Shrapnel speckled his body on impact, but he survived. The military wanted to give him a medical discharge, but he refused. For his courage and strength, he received the Purple Heart. Although he faced insurgents during his time in the military, another type of fight was taking place — inside his own body. Terry was exposed to burn pits during his deployments. The military uses burn pits to rid camps of waste, such as chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, rubber, wood and discarded food. At the VA’s request, the National Academy of Sciences, a non-governmental organization, conducted a study to determine whether burn pits caused long-term health issues to those exposed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 2011 report, the IOM found “inadequate or insufficient evidence of a relation between exposure to combustion products and cancer, respiratory diseases, circulatory diseas-

Amber Jurgensen

Members of the Devil Dogs Motorcycle Club have been big supporters of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Terry and his family. es, neurological diseases and adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes.” But, there still was “suggestive evidence of a link between exposure to combustion products and reduced lung function in various groups thought to be similar to deployed service-members, such as firefighters and incinerator workers.” Although there is no conclusive evidence, the VA is continuing to look into claims and conduct studies. Terry wondered if his cancer had come from burn-pit exposure.


For years after he left the Marines, Terry thought he was suffering from acid reflux. He popped TUMS tablets

like candy. It became so bad that his doctor gave him pain pills to ease the symptoms. When he started vomiting blood after taking the pills, he went to a VA doctor for a second opinion. He wasn’t expecting to get a stagethree cancer diagnosis. From there, the cancer spread around his body. He had tumors in his brain. Then, it drifted back into his lungs and lymphatic system. All the while, he had one concern on his mind — his family. Terry didn’t have 100% of his benefits with the VA. That meant his family wouldn’t get benefits if he died from his cancer. It was frustrating for Terry. But luckily for him, he had Devil Dogs at his side.

Like many artists, she prefers to keep her work private for as long as she can. She wants to get every line, every hue and every thought just right, before she shares it with her parents or four sisters. By the end of the two-week marathon she endured to complete her Doodle 4 Google submission, she had covered the floor in eraser dust. “It’s hard to see, but there are so many layers in this piece,” she says. “It takes so much to make it look like that.”

The Devil Dogs are a motorcycle club comprising military veterans, including Terry. Over the last two years, he had become best friends with two of the members, Julie and Wes Neville. When they found out about his diagnosis, they knew they had to do something to help. After speaking with the VA, they discovered Terry could get full coverage if he obtained a written letter from aVA doctor that stated his cancer had a 50% chance of being caused by the burn pits in Fallujah. “We’ve been trying to get the VA to take responsibility for this,” Julie Neville said. “The information has to be passed along,” Wes Neville said. “I know he’s not the only one who had to be exposed.” As Terry’s time ticked away, Devil Dogs members worked like ants to submit the paperwork and get the letter that could change his family’s life. On March 28, they finally got it. “Given his very young age at diagnosis and his very aggressive cancer type, I believe there is more than a 50% likelihood that this cancer was caused by exposures during his military service,” Dr. Christopher Sumet wrote. “This may have been either due to his exposure to burn pits or related to tobacco and alcohol use during his service used to treat symptoms of his post-traumatic stress disorder.”


Although he received the letter, the

Today, her portfolio showcases a wide range of styles in pen, marker, colored pencil and acrylics. “I’ll use anything that make a mark,” she says. “You can even use barbecue sauce.” Many of her pieces take inspiration from her love of science and mathematics, while others hint at Kristyn’s more whimsical, childlike side. Her piece for the 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival Art Show,


VA still had to approve all the paperwork. While the Devil Dogs worked on sorting the paperwork, they also planned multiple fundraisers for the Terrys, including motorcycle rides. “He said his only regret he had was that he hadn’t set up college funds for the girls,” Julie said. “Our focus is the girls and his wife.” Before he died, the Devil Dogs hoped he would be able to attend an April 26 fundraiser. The ride will take supporters to different restaurants and end with a barbecue and after party. They were going to pick him up and let him ride in a sidecar. It was one of his last wishes — to ride again. He didn’t make it. The day before Terry died, the paperwork still hadn’t been approved. A Devil Dog member went to the VA to convince them of the urgency. Finally, 12 hours before he passed, his benefits were approved. “Part of me is relieved,” Julie Neville said. “He went in peace, knowing his family was taken care of.” Terry was the center of attention at Devil Dogs’ meetings. From a crackling phone call across the United States, Wes Neville couldn’t describe his friend without crying. But, Julie Neville mustered up the strength. “He was just the funniest person,” she said. “It couldn’t have happened to a worse person. He was outgoing, funny, he’ll sing — do anything.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at

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KRISTYN / PAGE 1 titled “Blinded by Science,” features a man lost in thought, with paper airplanes, an astronaut, octopus and train all surrounding him. She once drew a strawberry with a mustache and monocle for her aunt. And, she harbors a fascination of fairies. But, perhaps her most important piece is a coloring book she created for Dylan Martin Racing. The team uses the book to bring joy to children at Shriners Hospital for Children, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, Sunshine Foundation for Dream Village and Anchor House Ministries. To date, more than 1,000 coloring books have been given to children battling illnesses.


Kristyn shrugs her shoulders. “Honestly, I don’t care if I win or not,” she says, sincerely, of the Google contest. “Just getting to go (to San Francisco) — that’s a prize all on its own. Winning would just be beyond my wildest imagination.” Although blessed with the talent and determination to excel in art school, Kristyn has other plans post-high school. This fall, she’ll be attending Florida Polytechnic University, in Lakeland. Her major? Mechanical and aerospace engineering. Sounds completely non-creative, right? Not so fast. “I want to build robots,” she

3ODQW&LW\2EVHUYHUFRP says. “I love anything that takes imagination to create. And math — like colored pencils or pens — is just another tool. Creating a robot and then having it move — that’s just taking it (art) to the next level.” Kristyn says her favorite website is the homepage for Boston Dynamics, a company that builds robots for DARPA, the U.S. military, Sony and more. Oddly enough, Kristyn’s favorite artist isn’t some obscure science-fiction illustrator who has brush-stroked his or her way to a career painting galaxies far, far away. “Norman Rockwell,” she says. “I love him so much. He’s so traditional, and my art is so crazy. But, he’s the best. “He was so good at what he did,” Kristyn says. “I really appreciate the work that goes into a piece. I can see the talent in the lines.” Next week, Google will send representatives to Plant City to present Kristyn with a framed copy of her Doodle 4 Google submission. She says she can’t fathom what the next few weeks will bring. She’s still in shock that she’s a finalist at all. “I was putting my makeup on to go to the movies,” Kristyn says of the day her mother called her with the news. “I flipped out. I think I ran out of the house with only one eye with makeup. My hair wasn’t done. I didn’t want to talk about it at all, because to me, it didn’t even seem real.” And although her budding

VOTE FOR KRISTYN The U.S. public will vote for the favorite doodle from the 50 State Winners. Online voting will take place from noon April 29, to 8 p.m. May 9. The highest-ranking doodler from each grade group will be named as a National Finalist. The five National Finalists (one per grade group), will be announced at an awards ceremony May 21, at Google Headquarters, in California. When voting opens, you can vote for Kristyn Ardrey’s artwork online at


Google will present Kristyn Ardrey an 11-inch-by-17-inch reprint of her 2014 contest submission during a party April 29, at Wishing Well Barn, in Plant City.

engineering career likely will take most of her time in college, Kristyn says she already has plans to start an on-campus art club. Furthermore, she insists her art supplies never will be far from her hand. “I’ll draw until I’m in the ground,” she says. Contact Michael Eng at

CLEANUP / PAGE 1 mowing herself. The home belongs to her adopted twin brothers, Robert and William, 74. They are on a fixed income and couldn’t pay for the labor. But, they did supply the trash bags and other materials to the church. “We all stay here and take care of each other,” Harriet Hicks said. “I am happy with it.” The house itself also needs a lot of work, including pressure washing, painting, and screen and door replacements. WellSpring members said they would be happy to help again in the future. “If someone donated materials, we would provide the

Amber Jurgensen

The Hicks siblings say they are pleased with their newly cleaned back yard. work,” Deshazo said. “It was an honor to be able to work in the community and be there.”

Contact Amber Jurgensen at


Michael Eng

Church on the Rock hosted its first Redneck Reality event April 12, on the church grounds. First Choice Southern Bar-B-Que’s Kenneth Jordan served up some delicious barbecue chicken for attendees.

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The Peacemakers The Peacemakers’ talent goes off like a smoking gun. The band has its audience hooked from the first beats. But, it’s the instantly recognizable “Free Bird” guitar solo that really gets them going. Many cover bands skip the intense section. But not The Peacemakers. The band has played at Rail Ale Pub, O’Brien’s Irish Pub and The Pothole. But, even if its fans wanted to buy the guys a beer after the show, they couldn’t. The four members are all still in high school. “That surprises a lot of people,” lead vocalist Colton Conrad says. “I really love when people are blown away when they find out how old we are.” The Peacemakers pride themselves on their Southern rock setlist. They’re trying to bring the old-style of country back. The members of Lynyrd Skynyrd are their rock gods. “Today’s country is too pop,” guitarist Benjamin Luchka says. The band formed just last year, but the idea has been

CATCH THEM LIVE WHEN: 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday April 26 WHERE: Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City BOOKING: Colton at (813) 767-8028, or Benjamin at (813) 7526018. ONLINE EXTRA: View an exclusive video of The Peacemakers on

three years in the making. Conrad and Luchka had been dreaming of putting together a group since their freshman year at Plant City High School. “I could hardly play the guitar,” Luchka says. “Same with Colton — he was terrible. We were just in my room trying to play. We butchered ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’” Downstairs, his mother put “Simple Man” on the radio. When the boys heard that ballad, they knew they had to take the time to really learn their instruments. With the

encouragement of Luchka’s neighbor, Peter Sundic, they started plucking at the strings. After mastering their playing techniques, the duo felt closer to their goal of having a band. “The next thing that happened was Colton asked Jordan to join,” Luchka says. “He knew how to play guitar, so he picked up bass pretty easily.” All three boys are cousins but were open to having a friend join the trio. Especially when they found out their classmate, Jesse Butterworth, played drums. He had a knack for jamming out on the “Rock Band” video game. When his mother saw the talent, she bought him his own set. Luchka aggressively recruited him to be in the band. Finally, he convinced Butterworth and had him audition. “It just worked,” Jordan Gude says, snapping his fingers. Now that they had a band, they needed a name. Conrad and Luchka discussed it between classes at their lockers. Conrad was a fan of the movie “Tombstone” and Wyatt Earp’s colt peacemaker.

Amber Jurgensen

The Peacemakers have been booking gigs with the help of Plant City musician Dale Johnston. CREATIVE SPACE is a new feature in the Plant City Times & Observer that spotlights Plant City-area artists, musicians, filmmakers and other creative people. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming edition, send an email to Associate Editor Amber Jurgensen, Three weeks after Butterworth joined, The bandmates — with only eight songs in its catalog — took the stage for the first time. From there, they learned more and continued playing at private parties and talent shows. But this year, they have been booking more impressive gigs. They also

have been writing their own songs. “We’ve been brainstorming and putting music together, seeing what works,” Gude says. “(‘Ol’ Blue’) is the best song, because it wasn’t mainly this person or that person. It was a collective.” “Ol’ Blue” is inspired by

The Peacemakers may be among the youngest performers in Plant City’s music scene. But their powerful Southern rock style already has them taking some of the area’s best stages.

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

Jesse Carr’s truck. Carr is Conrad’s neighbor. “He’s definitely helped me out a lot,” Conrad says. “Not just with music but everything. He’s a role model for me.” Family members also have been big supporters of the band. Luchka’s older brother is musician Casey Stidham. They’ve named Butterworth’s mother the “Band Mom.” The Peacemakers practice in Butterworth’s garage. “I just want to be inspiration for other bands,” Gude says. “To say we brought a lot of joy to people — that’d be enough for me.” — Amber Jurgensen

Plant City Times &


General Manager/Editorial / Michael Eng,

General Manager/Advertising / Tony Del Castillo, Assistant Managing Editor / Jess Eng, Associate Editor / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, Staff Writer / Justin Kline, Advertising Executives / Veronica Prostko,; Joanna Verga, Circulation/Office Manager / Linda Lancaster,

“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

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

Hopewell Baptist Church’s Easter Egg Hunt began with a puppet show.

+ Hillsborough Art Ed. Association

Right: Jenaly and Julian Moreno filled their baskets at the City-Wide Easter Egg Hunt.

Niki Carpenter was named High School Art Teacher of the year by the Hillsborough Art Education Association. She teaches at Plant City High School.

+ Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce will host its New Member Reception at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, at the chamber, 106 N. Evers St. RSVP by calling Jane at (813) 754-3707.

+ Plant City Photo Archives

The Plant City Photo Archives & History Center will present the second film in its series, Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle. The film, “Slavery by Another Name,” begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at Bealsville Recreation Center, 5009 Nesmith Road. For more, call (813) 7541578.

+ Fancy Flea

The Fancy Flea Vintage Home & Garden Market will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 25, and Saturday, April 26, at the Florida Strawberry Festival, 303 N. Lemon St., Plant City. Admission is $5, and parking is free. For more, call (863) 7123278 or visit

+ East Hillsborough Historical Society

The 2014 Spring Tour of Homes, presented by the East Hillsborough Historical Society, will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 3. The tour will begin at the 1914 Plant City High School Community Center, 605 N. Collins St. Homes include 805 N. Wheeler St., 912 Roux St., 909 Roux St. and 1000 Roux St. The tour is $15, and lunch on the lawn is $8. For more, call (813) 757-9226.

p o p H y H ay ol i d

Plant City’s First Baptist Church dropped eggs from a helicopter hovering above.

EA f STE staf rver e s RR Ob OUN es & m i D-UP by the Plant City T

Plant City children celebrated Easter at three different hunts April 19. The 25th annual City-Wide Easter Egg Hunt took place at Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex, while Plant City’s First Baptist Church and Hopewell Baptist Church both hosted hunts of their own. “Hoppy” hunters happily took to the fields, hopping for oval-shaped treasures filled with candy — much to the delight of camera-toting parents and grandparents. Following the Easter egg hunts, children were able to enjoy photos with the Easter Bunny, carnival-style games, arts and crafts, and much more.

Preschoolers had first pick at Plant City’s First Baptist Church’s event.

+ Plant City High School Civinettes

Kelsey Lanier, 4, had a blast at Hopewell Baptist Church’s Easter Egg Hunt.

The Plant City High School Civinettes prepared Easter bags for each child at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home, in Lakeland. About 40 children woke up Easter morning to the surprise of bags filled with candy and toys, courtesy of Plant City High School and the Plant City community. Civinette and Jr. Civitan members contributed candy and toys, and area businesses made contributions.

Giselle McDowell

The City-Wide Easter Egg Hunt was a success.

Elizabeth Bradley, 8, and Amberlee Dages, 2, loved dancing along with the puppets at Hopewell.

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FUN IN THE SUN by Michael Eng | Editor

Ashley Diaz and Jasmyn Butts greeted guests of the YMCA pool party.

Luke Lingle, 5, worked hard during his swim lesson.


The Plant City Family YMCA celebrated the reopening of its swimming pool with a fun-ďŹ lled pool party April 12, at the facility. Attendees enjoyed sno-cones, fresh fruit and other treats, and the YMCA also showcased its new Water in Motion classes. The Rev. Dean Pfeffer, of Hope Lutheran Church, delivered the blessing over the facility.


The Plant City Family YMCA named recently Emily Colburn as its Volunteer of the Year. At 17, she is the youngest-ever recipient.

Jeremiah Smith, 9, was all smiles at the pool party.

Olivia Marshall, 9, thoroughly enjoyed the pool party with her friends. Right: Cameron Bradley and Destiny Montalvo, both 8, are ready for summer.

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Raymond L. Brown, 80, died April 13, 2014, in Plant City. Mr. Brown was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He was an avid lover of arrowhead hunting and fishing. He retired after 41 years from Tampa Electric. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Shirley; one son, Roger; three daughters, Renee, April and Tammie; and seven grandchildren. A funeral service was held April 16, at Wells Memorial and Event Center, Plant City. Burial was private. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Carolyn Louise Frier

Carolyn Louise Frier, 62, of Lakeland, died April 14, 2014, at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Born May 29, 1951 in Plant City, she was the daughter of the late Walter Frier and Nellie Lastinger Frier. She was a lifelong resident of Plant City and loved puzzle books. Survivors include a son, Douglas Frier; daughter, Tina Hicks; brother, Terry Frier; sisters, Betty Matthews, Joyce Frier and Helen Pharis; and seven grandchildren. A funeral service was held April 17, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Howard R. Hamil Jr.

Howard R. Hamil Jr., 82, died April 19, 2014, in Plant City. Hr. Hamil enjoyed restoring boats and was a member of the Florida Glasspar Club. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; son, Robert; stepdaughters, Patricia Dyess (Leo) and Debra Mellon (Michael); stepson, Joseph Lewis; brother, Ronald; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. He is predeceased by his son, James. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 24, and Friday, April 25, at Wells Memorial and Event Center, 1903 W. Reynolds St., Plant City. A funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 26, at Springhead Baptist Church, 3106 S. Wiggins Road, Plant City. Interment will follow at East Oaklawn Cemetery, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at

John (Jack) R. Jones Jr.

John (Jack) R. Jones Jr., 93, died March 30, 2014. A U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, Mr. Jone retired after 30 years with IBM. He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Mary; grandson, John; and two stepdaughters, Sandra and Shirley. Survivors include his wife, Marcella; son, J. Robert Jones III (Karen); daughter, Kathryn Satterlee; stepdaughters, Sharon, Sheila, Susan and Sylvia; and 17 grandchildren and step-grandchildren. A memorial service will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at Brandon Christian Church, 910 Bryan Road, Brandon. Burial will be at Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Brandon Christian Church Building Fund or the Shiloh Baptist Church Building Fund.

Charles Fredrick Norris

Charles Fredrick Norris, 77, of Plant City, died April 16, 2014, at his home, in Plant City, after a lengthy illness. He was born Aug. 7, 1936, in Newell, W. Va. He was the son of the late Robert W. Norris and Olive (Stephens) Norris. He graduated in 1954, from Wells High School. Mr. Norris was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served from 1954 to 1957. After the Navy, Mr. Norris married his loving wife of 54 years, Kathleen Proctor. Together, they raised three children: Kelly Ayoub, of Pittsburgh; the late Charles R. Norris; and Steven Norris, of Plant City. Mr. Norris retired after 20 years of service from the Pompano Beach Police Department. He was a mounted police officer before becoming a detective in the narcotics department. He also is survived by a brother; Melvin Norris, of Newell; his sisters, Linda and Becky Norris, of Newell; and five grandchildren, Jacob Norris, of Plant City; Ferris, Jordan, Cody and Shane Ayoub, of Pittsburgh; and numerous nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, and his son, he was preceded in death by three brothers, Robert, James and Steve Norris. A funeral service was held April 22, at Nixon Funeral Home, in Newell. Burial followed at Shadow Lawn Memory Gardens, Newell. The Tri-State Veteran Burial Group conducted the military service.

Larry Eugene Peele

Larry Eugene Peele, 68, of Plant City, died April 17, 2014, at home. Born June 11, 1945 in Beaufort, N.C., he was the son of the late William and Rebecca Robinson Peele. He was the husband of Linda Gail Kelly, who survives. Mr. Peele served in the U.S. Army, was a member of Calvary Fellowship, a truck driver and loved dirt-track racing. Survivors also include brothers, William Peele, John Peele and Charles Peele. A funeral service was held April 21, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Wesley Tanner Reece

Wesley Tanner Reece, 36, of Plant City, died April 10, 2014, at his home. Born Dec. 26, 1977, in Tampa, he was the son of the late Larry Reece and Patricia Kilpatrick Reece, who survives. He was the husband of Brandy Shipley Reece, and brother to Aaron Reece, who also survive. Mr. Reece owned Reece Concrete Inc., in Plant City, was a Florida State Seminoles football fan, enjoyed all sports, music, the beach and working out. Other survivors include nieces, Cassidy and Kaitlyn Bruton and Jayden Brannon; and nephew, Matthew Reece. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Shirley E. Van Derwerken

Shirley E. Van Derwerken, 78, died April 14, 2014, in Lakeland. She was born Aug. 27, 1935, in St. Louis, Mo., to Jesse and Margaret (Carter) Holmes. She married Thomas Van Derwerken, who is deceased. She was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church, in Plant City, and loved to work and volunteer at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce Information Center. She is survived by two sons, Todd Van Derwerken (Julie) and Brian Van Derwerken (Melissa); a sister, Sandra Birkenmeier; and six grandchildren, Marisa, Lindsay, Kyle, Matthew, Aaron and Tyler. Funeral services were held April 21, at Wells Memorial and Event Center, Plant City. Burial at Florida National Cemetery. Online condolences may be made to the family at




Ryan Robinson leads offense attack for Akin & Porter Produce. 12 SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM




flag football by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Durant sets sights on perfect season With one game left in the 2014 regular season, Durant’s flag football team stands undefeated. Although the team has always been good, everyone agrees there is something special this year.

+ Lady Cougars claim district title

The fans at Brandon High almost saw both high seeds get knocked out in a pair of softball district semifinal games, but Plant City scraped its way into the championship game. Strawberry Crest, on the other hand, was shocked by Durant. The Lady Raiders held a 1-0 lead for much of their semifinal game, but East Bay’s offense came on late and nearly forced extra innings. A walk-off triple gave Plant City the 5-4 win. Durant upset Strawberry Crest, 10-6, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. The Lady Cougars survived a shaky sixth inning, coming out with a one-run lead, but caught fire in the top seventh to win. In the championship game, Durant was all business. The Lady Cougars shellacked the Lady Raiders, 11-0, in just five innings of play to win the district title.

At the end of overtime April 17, coach Brad Brunson and the Lady Cougars knew they had something special. Durant’s flag football team had just come out on top of a clash of the titans, beating Bloomingdale by one point — 21-20. After the Lady Bulls whiffed on a two-point conversion, the pass sailing over the receiver, there was only one undefeated team left in the district: the 10-0 Lady Cougars. Tonight, at home, the Lady Cougars will attempt to end the regular season without a


WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24 WHERE: Durant High School, 4748 Cougar Path, Plant City DETAILS: In addition to the football action against Hillsborough High School, the team’s outgoing seniors will be honored in a Senior Night ceremony at halftime. loss for the first time in team history. They take on Hillsborough and plan to play as hard

as they did against Bloomingdale, East Bay and everyone else they have faced this year.


Looking at the team’s success, one can probably chalk it all up to selflessness across the board. “I’ve coached here for seven years, and this is the first team I’ve had that wants the team to win, rather than go for personal glory,” Brunson says. That’s not to say that there aren’t any stellar performers on the roster. Senior quarterback Jessica McClernan,

a team captain, now owns a handful of school records. Chrissy Millard, the team’s pass rusher, has nearly doubled the school’s sack record — previously 15, now 27. The entire team features good athletes and relies on its speed to make plays. Brunson believes this is the most physically gifted squad he’s coached in his time at Durant. “I have the best girls from other sports,” Brunson says. “The best basketball player. Two of our best track girls. Two



baseball by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Winning is sweeter for underdogs


+ Raiders fall, Crest survives in districts Where the East Bay Lady Indians couldn’t succeed last week, the boys did. Despite walking into Durant High School’s field as an underdog, they beat Plant City High School, 5-3, in the first round of districts. The Indians took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning, when the Raiders put a run on the board. Plant City did the rest of its damage in the bottom sixth, scoring two, but East Bay’s pitching allowed no wiggle room in the seventh. Immediately afterward, Strawberry Crest rode sophomore Matthew Trzeciak’s solid pitching to a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay Tech.


+ Durant’s Seguin among stat leaders

Junior long stick middle Robert Seguin ended up making the boys’ national leaderboards in several stats, according to Seguin is currently fifth in the nation in ground balls fielded (133), among all positions, and is first in assists (24), second in points (41), fourth in face-off percentage (.656) and sixth in goals scored (17).


+ Nighthawks getting noticed

Some of Plant City’s most talented football players have been grinding hard in the offseason. Playing in an IMGsponsored 7-on-7 tournament in Tallahassee on the weekend of April 12, the Next Level Sports Academe Nighthawks posted a 4-1 record and earned a chance to make the IMG National Championship game. First, they have to perform well in The Challenge 7-on7 National Championship Qualifier April 26, in Tampa. The top two teams qualify for the championship.

Justin Kline

Durant QB Jessica McClernan is gunning for the school TD record.

Although Cody Colding’s game is solid across the board, his skill with the bat is his calling card.

Justin Kline


Plant City High School junior Cody Colding, a baseball lifer, was invited to participate in the 2014 Under Armour Southeast Regional Championships. Cody Colding would live in the Mike E. Sansone Park batting cage, if his parents let him. Colding, 17, says his entire world has revolved around the game of baseball from a young age, and his fifteen years of dedication are paying off. The Plant City High School junior was named to the Baseball Factory’s Team One, which will play in the 2014 Under Armour Southeast Regional Championships, which will take place June 4 to 10, at Roger Dean Sports Complex, in Jupiter. “I got a note in the mail one time to come try out for them,” Colding says. “I went to their tryout, and they had

me go to a couple of camps. Some of the coaches put in a good word for me, and then they called me up one day saying, ‘Would I like to go play for Team One?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ I haven’t been on a national team like that before.” That was in January. Since then, Colding has been preparing for the national tournament — often practicing four days a week, outside of his obligations with the Raiders and the Rawlings Heat travel team. He’s had goals like this for about as long as he can remember, and no one is happier to see him meet them than his family.



Cody Colding was put onto wood bats when he was 13. That’s not unusual: Many young players are made to play with wood, because it presents a greater challenge than swinging aluminum. For Colding, though, that wasn’t the case. Thanks to quick hands and a naturally powerful swing, his aluminum bats held up about as well as wiffle ball bats. “He would dent the composite bats,” mother Becki Colding says.

“Easton wouldn’t warranty his bats when he was young.” They sometimes lasted a few games. Other times, they didn’t even make it through one. “I remember those days,” coach Jeff Bauer says. “There was one Easton bat — he hit one hit with it and put a big dent in it. They wouldn’t let him use it anymore. It’s hard to dent an aluminum bat, unless you hit something hard, like metal.”

Who was expecting Durant softball to do what it did last weekend? The third-seeded team in the Class 7A-District 7 tournament played like a top seed all week, trampling both Strawberry Crest and Plant City in the process. The Lady Cougars and Lady Raiders were previously the only two teams in the district that had Durant’s number all season long. But, if you’re going to prevent the season sweep, why not JUSTIN do it at the time KLINE when it matters most? I figured the 10-6 win over Crest would have played out in a completely different way — maybe with Crest winning by that score — but was proven wrong by the hungrier Cougars. And, that championship game? I wasn’t going to count Durant out after watching Plant City eke past East Bay, 5-4, but I would have laughed at you if you had told me Durant would win in five innings. Durant’s performance throughout the tournament also made me think about my own personal favorite stories. FGCU MEN’S BASKETBALL, 2013. I may not have ranked these moments, but I’d be remiss if I mentioned anything else first. March Madness 2013 coincided with my senior year at Florida Gulf Coast, and those first few rounds were unquestionably the best two or three weeks ever. I picked the 15thseeded Eagles to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in my office pool, because I wanted to do something to make my bracket stand out, and my gamble paid off: They did exactly that.


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RYAN ROBINSON Plant City Little League’s Akin & Porter Produce team is having a good year, with a 7-2 record. One of the reasons for this solid season, according to coach Steven Hill, has been versatile leadoff hitter Ryan Robinson. The lefty leadoff hitter has had little trouble getting on base lately, and is picking up playing time all over the field. Most recently, he blasted a two-run homer in last week’s game against Hillsborough Title. What positions have you been playing lately? First base, catcher, pitcher and outfield.

you been playing baseball? Since tee-ball, so, seven years.

Which one is your favorite? Pitcher, because I get the ball every time.

What do you like about it? It’s fun. I like it, and I’m good at it.

How has the team been doing lately? We’ve been winning. Against the team we’re playing now (Lott Farms), we lost to them in the first game, but in the second game, we whooped them.

Who’s your favorite baseball player? Evan Longoria. I’m a Rays fan.

And how have you been playing? I’ve been hitting pretty good. I haven’t pitched in a while, but I hope that I pitch tonight. How long have

What do you like to do outside of baseball? I like to play with my friends and just go out. We like to play baseball and wiffle ball. If you could have any one superpower for the day, what would it be? Super speed — to run faster. So that I could run the bases fast.

Plant City’s most complete news report. FREE every Thursday

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DURANT / PAGE 11 cheer captains. We kind of have the cream of the crop.” Of the 14 players on varsity, only five had previous experience. They have learned flag football quickly, though. “The idea of picking up new concepts was not foreign to them,” Brunson says. “And the girls who had played before were able to help me teach them, coach them up. Some of the new girls have been great players, even leaders.”


Along with a large group of new players, Durant also found itself in a different district this season. The Lady Cougars had previously made a habit of making the playoffs every year — winning their only title in the program’s inaugural 2007 year — and eventually losing to Plant City.

“Now, this is the first year we don’t play each other,” Brunson says. “We play Hillsborough, Strawberry Crest and Brandon, but we don’t play Plant City — the closest school to us. It’s a competition we’ve always looked forward to.” Based on the current seeding, Durant likely won’t play the Lady Raiders at all this postseason. Although they won’t be able to get revenge in the playoffs, the Lady Cougars at least know that they were able to take down a different district juggernaut. The queens of this district were, for a while, the ladies of East Bay High School. The Lady Indians also had a win streak of their own against Durant, winning six in a row. But that streak came to an end in Week 2, when Durant won, 18-16. “When we beat them, we knew that we were a good team and we could contend

as one of the better teams in the district,” Brunson says.


Most of Durant’s opponents had a harder time trying to pull out a win. Before Thursday, the defense was only giving up an average of two points per game. That’s probably not what its next opponents, the Hillsborough Lady Terriers, want to hear. Especially because it will be Durant’s Senior Night. In addition to the season finale and senior send-off story lines, there’s also some more history at stake: McClernan has a chance to pencil her name in the record books again. “I’m trying to break the passing touchdowns record,” she says. “It’s 28 to tie the school record — I need five to tie, one more after that to break it. It’s going to be close, honestly.” Contact Justin Kline at



Colding inherited his love of the game from his parents, who also grew up enjoying baseball. Between working and serving in the U.S. Army, Colding’s father, Michael, wasn’t able to play much. His mother, Becki, was a softball player raised in a baseball family. “It started with my grandfather,” she says. “When we were young, the TV would be on one game, and he’d have another game on the radio. The sound would be off on the TV. My grandfather’s brother — he was recruited by the Cardinals to be a pitcher. That’s probably where all the love came from.” When Cody was young, the whole family played ball in the back yard. Michael played catch with his son, Becki helped him with batting, and her parents served as pitchers. If the Atlanta Braves were on, Cody and the Colding family

would be watching. He especially liked Chipper Jones. “Watching Chipper — that’s how he learned to hit,” Michael Colding says. These days, Cody can watch a game and call the action before it unfolds on the field. “I never tried any other sports,” he says. “I’ve always thought about it, but I’d think about it more and be like, ‘Well, baseball is what I like, and I don’t really want to get hurt.’ I was thinking about football, and then, in fifth grade, I was playing football for recess and went to dive for a touchdown. I broke my thumb. That’s what changed my mind.”


Colding’s coaches are convinced his dedication to the game has helped him hone his fundamentals in all areas. Although he’s not a pitcher, he’s able to play all over the field. He sees the most time at the hot corners — first and

third base — but also can play in the outfield and be a team’s backstop behind the plate. With the Raiders, Colding primarily sees action as the team’s designated hitter. “From what I’ve heard from the scouts, he has a natural power swing,” hitting coach Jeff Bauer says. “They say it’s hard to teach, but if you have it, you can perfect it.” Despite of what many people think, the secret to hitting for power isn’t really about bulking up. A batter can generate a lot of power with a clean swing and quick hands. “Cody is an aggressive hitter, with a level swing path, good barrel accuracy and a hard/ consistent swing path,” one of his scouting reports says. He also has a good eye for the ball, according to his coaches. “He says he can see the seams,” Bauer says. “That’s what helps him — he knows what’s coming. The fundamentals that he has with batting are what all these kids need.” What also sets Colding apart is his baseball I.Q. “His instincts are good,” Rawlings Heat coach Chris Lashley says. “The key is to be able to think ahead of the play. Know where your play’s gonna be, know what to do with the bat.”


Colding has little trouble making in-game decisions, but evaluating his prospective college choices is trickier. Not that he’s had a problem getting noticed: He’s drawn interest from D-1 programs such as Florida State, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee. Because he gets so many emails from colleges, camps, and other baseball sources, Colding had to create a second email account. His decision doesn’t have to be made right now, though, and he’s not too worried about it yet. The tournament is what currently occupies his mind. He hopes to leave with some victories and good impressions made with the scouts. “Baseball is basically the love of my life,” he says. Contact Justin Kline at



THIS WEEK’S CRYPTOGRAM ANSWERS 1. Now for a road safety riddle: what can’t be crossed when doubled? A double yellow line. 2. “Do you want to attend the annual night-flying finals?” said one owl to the other. “I don’t give a hoot,” the other one said, as he veered off to hunt.

I watched the Georgetown game at my favorite bar, which almost exploded when the clock hit 0.0 and FGCU had won, 78-68. I watched the San Diego State game in my dorm with friends and, after FGCU won, 81-71, looked outside to see people everywhere. I’m pretty sure somebody’s car was flipped over by the end of the night. U.S. MEN’S OLYMPIC HOCKEY, 1980. You had always heard of this team if you grew up in a hockey-crazy part of the country, as I did in Buffalo, N.Y. They were just a bunch of guys who, in many cases, peaked at the right time. Russia’s team, on the other hand, was excellent across the board. Nobody thought they would leave Lake Placid with anything less than a gold medal. They advanced to the medal round as expected, but there was America — the team that they beat 10-3 in a friendly exhibition. The game didn’t go as well as the Russians had hoped it would, thanks to a strong team effort by the Americans and the performance of goalie Jim Craig’s life. The 4-3 victory has been immortalized as the “Miracle on Ice.” Also of note: Everyone seems to think the U.S. won the gold medal after this match. That’s not true — America did win the gold, but only because it beat Finland, 4-2, in the next round. BUFFALO BILLS, 1993. The Houston Oilers had beaten Buffalo, 27-3, to end the regular season. During that game, Hallof-Fame quarterback Jim Kelly went down with a knee injury, putting backup Frank Reich in the driver’s seat. Although Buffalo won the first two playoff games with Reich, Houston boasted an awesome vertical attack and stingy defense. Going into the fourth, the Oilers had a commanding 35-3 lead. So, how in the world did Buffalo win? Plenty of good fortune, forced fumbles, recovered onside kicks, and a 15-yard face-mask penalty that went against Houston in overtime. A 32-yard field goal sealed the deal, giving the Bills a 41-38 win.

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April 16




April 17





April 19

0.00 0.00


April 21



April 22




.48 (2013: 1.86)


TO DATE 4.93 (2013: 5.86)

HIGH 87 85 88 92 91 90 83

Thurs., April 24 Fri., April 25 Sat., April 26 Sun., April 27 Mon., April 28 Tues., April 29 Wed., April 30

April 18





April 20


SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES Thurs., April 24 Fri., April 25 Sat., April 26 Sun., April 27 Mon., April 28 Tues., April 29 Wed., April 30

SUNRISE 6:55 a.m. 6:54 a.m. 6:53 a.m. 6:52 a.m. 6:52 a.m. 6:51 a.m. 6:50 a.m.

SUNSET 7:58 p.m. 7:59 p.m. 7:59 p.m. 8 p.m. 8:01 p.m. 8:01 p.m. 8:02 p.m.

LOW 63 61 64 67 69 70 66


May 14

May 21


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

LOW $23 $24

HIGH $28 $30

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

April 28

May 6

, 3&

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Master Dep. Tyler Smith snapped this awesome photo off Knights Griffin Road. 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,; subject line: I Love Plant City. Winners can pick up their prize at The Corner Store.


By Tim Burr | Edited by Timothy E. Parker ACROSS 1 Tend to the bird feeder 7 Opposite of deplete 12 Locks of hair 19 Land on Lake Victoria 20 Erase 22 Hardly a major leaguer 23 Sites for some leagues 25 Decline to vote 26 Oil from flower petals 27 Stop from doing 29 Eagles of the sea 30 Heavenly horn-blower 33 Lent assistance to 34 Bouquet vessel 36 Friend in Mexico 37 “What goes around comes around,” e.g. 40 Providers of 26-Across 42 “___ death do us part” 45 Make analogies 46 Winged god of love 47 An avatar of Vishnu 49 Grand ___ Opry 50 “___ quam videri” (North Carolina motto) 52 Defunct airline 55 Check for quality 56 Long-haired feline 60 Place for indoor sports events 62 In ___ (going nowhere) 63 No longer in bed 64 The “A” in James A. Garfield 66 “That’s ___” (Dean Martin) 67 Loony ___ (madhouse) 68 “ATM machine” need? 71 C x XXV 72 Oxygen producer 74 African language family 75 Baseball great Pee Wee

77 78 80 85 87 89 90 91 92 94 96 97 100 102 103 105 107 109 111 112 113 116 122 123 124 125 126 127

Bee or Em Beyond zaftig Kind of exam Different A rainbow forms one In ___ of (replacing) Inventor Whitney Whistle cord Black-and-white cookie Truckloads Roth, for one Poles for sails Den dwellers Mathematical subgroup Brothers and sisters, for short Had a role to play Bottle or can gadgets European mountain range Dump emanations Take for one’s own use Song for baby Unauthorized work stoppage Heir, in legal terminology Use as a crutch Wears away gradually More zany Tool for bending metal Races or electrical devices

DOWN 1 Apply liniment 2 Alter ___ 3 Noticed 4 Increase the size of a picture 5 Newspaper issue 6 “The Divine Comedy” author 7 Jewish month

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

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 21 24 28 30 31 32 33 34 35 38 39 41 43 44 48 50 51 53 54 57 58 59 61 65 66 67

Actor Gibson “That’s ___, folks!” Most run-down Penned up, as sows Alexandra’s husband was one Confederate soldier, for short Bad ___ (German spa) New building locales How to spoil a child? “___ go bragh!” Katie Elder’s brood Vegetable oil, e.g. Elaborate party Tokyo, formerly Lively French dance Missed by ___ (was way off) Harley-Davidson rider “Long, Long ___” Actress Bloom of “High Plains Drifter” Disclaimer on a sale tag Talk about in detail Locality It’s got you covered Become liable for Coffee, the milky way Unpopular bulk mailer Consume Beauty salon sound Get loose for the game Native of the world’s largest peninsula Angelic Ain’t right? Worker with animal hides Reappearance after an eclipse “Life is ___ a dream” Reply to “Are not!” Ice-cream treat

© 2013 Universal Uclick

69 70 72 73 76 78 79 81 82 83

“The Right Stuff” org. Network of nerves or veins St. ___ Girl (beer brand) Kind of eclipse Australian cousin of the ostrich Gumbo pods They’re in the back of pickup trucks Corn-oil spread Mock in the schoolyard Word for a statesman

84 86 88 93 94 95 98 99 101 104 106 108 109

Wet sprays Metrical foot in poetry Picnic side dish Get ___ of (toss out) Royal staff, to a Brit Be in command of Smidge Grouch’s look Chimney dirt Land in a river Attempts Model or brain teaser Hale who played the Skipper

110 “Little” comic strip character 111 ___ and terminer 112 Mr. Peanut prop 114 What makes a plan plain? 115 Apiary inhabitant 117 Chromosome component 118 Meshing is its job 119 She’s “sweet as apple cider” 120 Door opener 121 Superman’s symbol

C RY P T O G R A M S 1 . M R C L R H O H R O B D O L K P I H X B B E K : C AO P Z O M ’ P S K Z H R D D K B C A K M B RT S E K B ? O B RT S E K I K E E R C E X M K . 2 . “ M G T G A E F B D D G F D D Z B M D C Z F B BA F V B Y X C D - P V T Y B X P Y B F V R ? ” R F Y M G B Z G E V D G D C Z G D C Z K . “ Y M G B ’ D X Y Q Z F C G G D ,” D C Z GDCZK GBZ RFYM, FR CZ QZZKZM GPP DG CABD.


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04.24.14 Plant City Times & Observer  

04.24.14 Plant City Times & Observer

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