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Plant City Times &






Plant City kids Plant City High first in county to add honor mothers video to yearbooks. in essay contest.

Seasons end for Plant City-area softball, baseball.





HONOR STUDENTS by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor


brewhaha by Michael Eng | Editor

Zoning issues threaten Keel and Curley

+ Vigil planned for Misti Whitfield

County officials say the Plant City winery was not zoned to sell beer or host weddings.

One year after Plant City native Misti Whitfield disappeared, her family will host a candlelight vigil. The vigil will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at McCall Park, 100 N. Collins St., Historic Downtown Plant City. Whitfield was last seen May 2, 2013, near Nautical Marine, 5525 W. Hillsborough Ave., in Tampa. Although the case is still classified as a missing-person case and detectives have no evidence of a crime, as more time passes, the family and detectives are growing more concerned. Tampa Police Department Det. Scott Bullard, as well as members of Whitfield’s family, will make statements. Anyone with information should call the Tampa Police Department, (813) 231-6130, or Crime Stoppers, 1-800-873-TIPS.

+ Jarrett-Scott honors students As part of its Built Ford Tough FFA Scholarship Program, Jarrett-Scott Ford awarded $1,000 scholarships to three Plant Cityarea students. Taylor Harrelson, of Plant City High School’s FFA; Levi Mayo, of Strawberry Crest High School’s FFA; and Alyssa Shepherd, of Durant High School’s FFA, each received the award.

+ Food bank to host food drive The United Food Bank of Plant City will be host a Letter Carrier Food Drive on Saturday, May, 10, throughout the city. Donors should leave non-perishable boxed and canned goods in their mailbox, and the letter carrier will collect them during the normal mail route. All donations benefit the United Food Bank of Plant City. For more, call (813) 764-0625.

, 3&

This week’s winner is

Abigail Kilroy

See her photo on PAGE 15.

Amber Jurgensen

Strawberry Crest’s Matthew Baker, Durant’s Trey VanDeGrift and Plant City’s Kellyanne Hurst were among the seven students nominated by U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross to earn acceptance into U.S. Service Academies.



This year, seven of U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross’ 15 nominees for U.S. Service Academies received appointments. Of those seven, three are from Plant City-area schools.

Plant City High School’s Kellyanne Hurst, Durant High School’s Trey VanDeGrift and Strawberry Crest High School’s Matthew Baker were among the seven students honored by U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross at the 2014 Academy Nominees Banquet April 25, at Toscana Ristorante on the Southeastern University campus, in Lakeland. The event recognized students from Florida’s 15th Congressional District, who received nominations to U.S. Service Academies. Hurst will attend the U.S. Naval Academy,

VanDeGrift the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Baker the U.S. Naval Academy. Ross makes nominations for the five different U.S. Service Academies, up to 10 candidates for each vacancy at each academy, and the academies make the final decision. “It is one of the highest honors I have as a member of Congress to assist deserving constituents in seeking appointment to a U.S. Service Academy,” Ross said. Acceptance of an appointment commits an applicant to

The owners of Keel and Curley Winery sampled a taste of victory late last week, when Hillsborough County officials ruled the Plant City business could continue to operate as it has while awaiting a ruling on a modification to its zoning. “There was an outside chance that they could have stopped us from serving beer and parking in the lot across the street, but they pulled back,” said winery owner Joe Keel. However, although the ruling gave Keel, his family and employees a small reason to celebrate, they know the battle is far from over. The winery’s problems began last November, when a neighboring resident, William Woodall, filed a noise complaint with the county regarding the business’ live music. Upon investigating that complaint, code enforcement officials discovered the sale of beer through the business’ new label, Two Henrys Brewing Company, was not allowed under Keel and Curley’s current zoning. Furthermore, the winery’s use of an adjacent lot for parking also was not permitted, and neither was its use of the property


hearts of gold by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

New gala helps families fighting pediatric cancer After the community rallied around Morgan Pierce’s battle with cancer, the family now wants to give back.

U.S. Naval Academy For Plant City High School senior Kellyanne Hurst, the ocean beckons her name. That’s why she chose the U.S. Naval Academy as the place to continue her higher education. Hurst will be graduating this year, but she won’t enjoy a long summer break like many other

Since Morgan Pierce was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma more than five years ago, she and her family have been battling for survival. Plant City has rallied around the family with different events to help them from 5K runs, family fun days, a Blueberry Festival pageant and more. Now, the Pierces want to help other families in the same situation. “I wanted to give back, because so many people in the community have given to us,” said Morgan’s mother, Emily.



a 10-year obligation to the service (four years at the academy and six years on active duty).


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

TIMELINE Nov. 5 2013: Noise complaint by William Woodall Nov. 6, 2013: Noise complaint by Lonnie Oswald Dec. 18, 2013: Notice of code violation sent to Keel and Curley Winery March 10: Meeting between County Commissioner Al Higginbotham and Joe Keel and attorney Judy James March 27: Zoning modification application filed by Keel and Curley Winery (PD RZ140533) April 14: First hearing by code board magistrate May 12: Second hearing by code board magistrate June 23: Landuse hearing officer (1:30 p.m.); land-use zoning hearing master (6 p.m.) Aug 12: Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners Land Use Meeting

Vol. 1, No. 40 | One section Crossword...................15


Opinion ........................8




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St. For more, visit

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 dropdown screen. (813) 752-1220.

Trivia Thursdays — begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

Born to Run — weekly run takes place at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100.

Double Barrel Band — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818.

Casey Stidham — performance takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. Evangelical University and Seminary Seventh Anniversary Banquet and Fundraiser — takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 8, at Plant City’s First Baptist Church, 503 N. Palmer St. Presentation from Dr. Greg Morris and music by Eva Kroon Pike. (813) 6591903 or 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. Plant City Entertainment presents “Sin, Sex, and the C.I.A.” — performances at 8 p.m. May 8 to 10, at the theater, 101 N. Thomas St. For more information, call (813) 754-4929 or visit pceshows. com. Ribbon Cutting: AAA Security Protection Inc. — takes place at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 8, at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, 106 N. Evers


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. Plant City Social Dance Club — takes place from 8 to 11:15 p.m. Fridays, at Stardust Dance Center, 1405 S. Collins St., Plant City. Cost is $5 for members and associate members; $7 for nonmembers. Ken Miller, (863) 409-7714 or Praise, Gospel, Contemporary Christian Music — takes place from 6:33 to 8:13 p.m. Fridays, at Krazy Kup, 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. (813) 752-1220. Uncork Your Weekend with LuBeck — live music from 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100.

SATURDAY, MAY 10 Fantastic Sams Blood Drive — takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday,

May 10, at Fantastic Sams, 219 W. Alexander St., Plant City. All donors will enjoy a coupon for a free haircut, plus a voucher for a free movie ticket. For more, visit or call 1-800-68-BLOOD. Skyler and Dan Duo — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818. Uncork Your Weekend with Project Voyager — live music from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturdays, 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.

MONDAY, MAY 12 Beginner Square Dance Lessons — classes take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays, at Strawberry Square, 4401 Promenade Blvd., Plant City. First class is free. Plus Square Dance Lessons begin from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (813) 752 0491. Master Gardening Program: “Mistaken Identities” — takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, May 12, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Master Gardener Nicole Pinson will be the guest speaker. The program is sponsored by the Master Gardening Division of the Hillsborough County Extension Service. Attendees are

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.

encouraged to bring a plant for the plant exchange. (813) 757-9215.

TUESDAY, MAY 13 Morning Book Discussion — meets from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday, May 13, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. This month’s book is “A Grown-up Kind of Pretty,” by Joshilyn Jackson. (813) 757-9215. Plant City Commons Community Garden Pot Luck — takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, at the garden, 302 Carey St. Karen Elizabeth, (813) 435-8111. Ribbon Cutting: Melissa Snively, Candidate for Hillsborough County School Board — takes place at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 13, at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, 106 N. Evers St., Plant City. For more, visit

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14 Contact Breakfast — takes place at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, May 14, at the Florida Strawberry Festival Agricultural Center, 2508 W. Oak Ave. Sponsor is Hopewell Funeral Home & Memorial Garden. Guest speaker is Joe Lopano, CEO of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. RSVP required by 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 9, at (813) 754-3707. Get-Fresh Plant City Market — takes place 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, at Union Station Depot, in Historic Downtown Plant City. Fresh local veggies, dairy,

BEST BET The Florida Opry presents “A Cracker Saturday Night” — takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the 1914 Plant City High School Community Center, 605 N. Collins St. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children. Event will include appearances by Frank Thomas, Bullard Brothers & Friends, Judge Nelson Bailey, and J.D. & Zetha Lewis. In honor of Mother’s Day, mothers will be admitted free. For more information, call (813) 7579226 or visit theflorida opry. org. jams, poultry, eggs, local crafts and more. (813) 435-8111. Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner — District 6 County Commissioner Kevin Beckner will be available to meet residents from 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 14, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. For more, call (813) 757-9215.


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digital distribution by Michael Eng | Editor

Plant City High students enjoy high-tech yearbooks Plant City High School is the first high school in the county to utilize a mobile phone app to augment its yearbook coverage. Plant City High School senior Beth Pengler focuses her mobile phone’s camera at an image featuring the 2013 Homecoming Court in the school’s 2013-14 yearbook. In less than a second, the phone reacts, bringing the image to life with a video clip of the court’s crowning. Pengler, yearbook editor-in-chief, smiles as the video plays. As students file into the room to grab their copies of the yearbook, released last week, she knows they are taking with them something special. And something no other highschoolers in the area will enjoy. Plant City is the first high school in Hillsborough County to supplement its print yearbook with digital content through an video app

called Aurasma. Much like QR codes, the app recognizes specific images throughout the book and will respond with additional video clips. Currently, the book has about 10 photos that will trigger Aurasma video clips, but Pengler and her yearbook staff plan to add more soon. “We saw it (the app) at some trainings at (yearbook) camp, and we thought it would be really cool,” she says. “So far, we’ve been getting really great feedback (about the yearbook); it’s been received really well.” Last week’s yearbook release was the culmination of more than a year of work for Pengler, her fellow editors and staff, and yearbook adviser Jennifer Hamilton. Planning actually begins at the end of the previous school

ONLINE EXTRA: To see the Plant City High School yearbook’s Aurasma app in action, visit

year, and by August, staffers already are snapping photos and gathering content for the annual publication. This year’s theme, “Our Turn,” places the spotlight on this year’s students while paying homage to Plant City graduates of the past century. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the construction of the 1914 Plant City High School Community Building, the staff worked with the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center to include more than 100 historical photos within the book. “Ultimately, our goal is for the students to be happy,” Hamilton said. “It’s a student-run program that’s intended to please students. Fortunately, the administration has been so generous and let us be as creative as we want.” Pengler signed up for yearbook her freshman year — out of necessity. “I wanted to do orchestra, but it

Michael Eng

Editors Emily Peker, Beth Pengler, Kellen Morris and editor-in-training Daytona Dey are proud of the yearbook they helped create for their classmates. wouldn’t fit in my schedule,” she said. But, the experience proved to be a perfect fit. Pengler remained on yearbook staff all four years of her high school career and said she will draw from the skills she learned as she begins studying for a nursing degree at Hillsborough Community College. “I’ve learned so much about time management,” she said. “And also about how to work with different personalities.” Moreover, Pengler said she is particularly proud that she helped cre-

ate books that will sit on classmates’ bookshelves for decades to come. “It’s crazy to think about that,” she said. “It’s an odd comparison, but it’s like having a kid. There’s so much dedication and work put in, and when it’s all done, it really memorializes everybody who worked on it, too.” Now that the 2013-14 book is complete, Pengler and her fellow yearbook seniors will use the rest of the school year to train their replacements. The staff also will begin planning next year’s annual. Contact Michael Eng at meng@

WATER WORKS by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Midtown fountain to add European flair to Plant City The white marble fountain will be the centerpiece for the Village Green amenity. The mechanics and pumping system will go in first. The park, situated between South Wheeler and Evers streets, is important to the Midtown redevelopment vision. Once the fountain is installed, other assets can be added. Brick pavers will serve as diagonal paths from the block corners to the fountain. The park also will include wrought-iron benches, decorative lighting and matching trash receptacles. All the walkways will be lined with trees, which will be chosen for their phytoremediation properties to continue to clean and restore the once-contaminated site where Gro-Mor Fertilizer used to operate. “The park will make the site more sellable in terms of redevelopment,” Collins said. Collins was involved in redeveloping Munn Park, in Lakeland. “It’s really fun to do these projects,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of community involvement. People tell me they’ll drive by to check up on the progress. They’ve seen all the dirty work with the clean up. Now, they’ll get to see the pretty part.” The park won’t only be an attractive asset to potential investors. It also will serve as another recreational area close to the downtown area. Historic Downtown shop owners can enjoy the park on their breaks. And with the launching of new downtown events sponsored by the city, such as a food truck rally and costume 5K, a new park will be an ideal gathering area. Contact Amber Jurgensen at

The fountain will be the centerpiece for the Village Green.

fond farewell

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor Amber Jurgensen

In addition to his work as a police officer, Brent Meyers has had a line of interesting jobs, including serving in the U.S. Navy and hitting the squared circle as a professional wrestler.

Officer reflects on 25 years with Tampa Police Department Plant City resident Brent Meyers retired April 11, from the Tampa Police Department. What’s next? A barbecue food truck, of course. When police officer Brent Meyers got a call about a sixfoot rattlesnake in a back yard, he didn’t believe it. In his 25 years at the Tampa Police Department, he had taken numerous calls about vermin and alligators — all larger than life. But, he prepared himself anyway, making a noose out of a broomstick at the fire department from which he was stationed. When he arrived at the home, kids who were attending a birthday were staring at the snake through a glass door. The homeowner, who, incidentally, was his assistant chief, wasn’t exaggerating. The snake measured six feet, and it looked like it had just devoured a rabbit. Its venomous eyes squinted at the children inside. Meyers took the opportunity to snag it with his makeshift noose. “They still talk about that to this day at the department,” Meyers said. After a long run, Meyers, a Plant City resident, retired April 11, from the Tampa Police Department. During his time, Meyers served in a variety of roles with the department and preferred to be out on the streets rather than in the office. His hard work and dedication earned him numerous awards throughout his career. With a taste for danger, he was on the X-Ray Squad in the 1990s, for which he patrolled

the government housing areas. In a short period of time, the squad was able to bring in hundreds of drug users and dealers, as well as confiscate money and cars. Meyers received an award for his work. In another perilous position, Meyers and some other officers ran into a burning apartment to save a family’s children. It was so hot, the ceiling had begun to melt onto them. “As an officer, your first instinct is to get in there and save the kids — not think about the dangers,” Meyers said. “Then after, you realize how dangerous it was.” For his efforts, Meyers was recognized for his courage. On the safer side, Meyers founded the Ask a Cop program, after noticing at meetings with the public that they still had many questions about police work. Meyers traveled to grocery stores, safety days at schools and even shopping malls with his booth and banner. And yes, Meyers’ efforts garnered him yet another award. Meyers also received four safe-driving awards for having no accidents over a five-year period, was a Master Shooter for 25 years and was one of the first on the bicycle squad. He also is an original member of the Mass Instant Response Team, which was deployed during riots, and, toward the

end of his career, served as a school resource officer. “That’s what I love about law enforcement,” Meyers said. “You can do something for five years and then you can do something else without moving jobs.” But Meyers is no stranger to random, exciting vocations. After he graduated from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy. But, motion sickness put an end to his service, and he returned home and worked at Mosaic. That’s when he met a friend, who suggested he go to wrestling school in Tampa. Meyers tried out the school and was hooked. “I didn’t like the behindthe-scenes stuff too much, but the actual wrestling really interested me,” Meyers said. “You learned all the holds and punches without killing each other.” Under the monicker “Sam Lee,” named for his daughter Samantha, Meyers had his first television appearance fighting Lex Luger. To this day, he still gets recognized by faithful fans. Just a couple weeks ago, while he was directing traffic at his

school, a truck pulled over and asked for an autograph. And students are completely captivated with his glamorous past. “When I do presentations at school, no matter how much I talk about law enforcement, they want to know about wrestling,” Meyers said. Meyers’ life has been full of hazardous careers. “I want to make sure I give all credit to God,” Meyers said. “The Lord has guided me through all of my dangerous jobs.” But retirement will give him an avenue to practice something a little less treacherous — barbecuing. Meyers is a master judge with the Florida Bar-BQue Association. This year, he plans to open a food truck and travel under the new name of Brent’s Barbecue. Retirement also will give him a little more time to spend with his wife, Paula, and his grown children, Samantha, Hayley and Jay, and continue recovering from his five-year battle with pancreatitis. “The love my wife has shown — it’s gotten me through,” Meyers said. “Because of her, I’ve been able to keep going.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

Work already has begun to carve Plant City’s newest park — Midown’s Village Green — out of a piece of vacant land just south of downtown. City officials hope to complete the project by October, but before landscaping and other features can be added, a fountain — the centerpiece of the park — has to be installed. Although no date has been set, the fountain — which was ordered from a company in South Florida and originally crafted in Europe from white Italian marble — should arrive in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World any day now. In a unanimous vote in February, city commissioners voted for the fountain out of two different options. The rejected fountain had a 12- to 18-inch-tall solid wall around the base. The approved fountain has a decorative chain with safety bollards around the base. The three-tier fountain is designed not to have any standing water. Its outer edges will feature a pebbleladen surface that would slope toward a central drain, and the only pooling of water would be about onehalf-inch deep and occur only at the base of the fountain’s center. It costs about $160,000. “We looked at what they wanted and presented them with the two designs,” Director of Community Services Karen Collins, said. “They had a clear direction in their minds. They had been discussing it for a long time.” Because the fountain has six separate pieces, it will have to be assembled in the park using a special truck.

‘I want to make sure I give all credit to God. The Lord has guided me through all of my dangerous jobs.’ — Brent Meyers

ª 3ODQW&LW\2EVHUYHUFRP WINERY / PAGE 1 to host weddings and other events. The winery’s planned development zoning, which it obtained in 2005, provides for agricultural uses, the winery and an accessory retail shop. Keel and his attorney, Judy James, filed March 25, an application to revise its zoning to include the brewery, beer sales, event hosting and parking. Keel said he was unaware that the business was operating outside of its zoning. According to documents drafted by James, Keel and Curley obtained a permit to sell beer and wine in 2006. The company also obtained in 2011, a separate license to distribute beer and wine — a license that required action from Hillsborough County. Furthermore, before it opened Two Henrys last October, the company applied for a craft brewery license, which required an electrical permit and inspections by county officials. And although the beer sales only caught the eye of codeenforcement officials after Two Henrys opened, Keel and Curley has been selling beer since it opened. “We used to sell other craft beers, and that’s how we got the idea to start our own brewery,” said Keel’s son, Clay Keel, who launched Two Henrys. County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who lives about two miles from Keel and Curley, said his office fielded

GALA / PAGE 1 The family will host the first Sweet Hearts Gala, in conjunction with Jensen’s Heart of Gold Foundation, on Saturday, May 17, at Keel and Curley Winery. Proceeds from the event will help other local families battling cancer. The Pierces met the founders of the foundation, Lynn and Melissa Byrd, in New York, where the Pierces were receiving treatment for Morgan. Their son, Jensen Daniel Byrd, was being treated for the same diagnosis. He didn’t make it. He died in 2010.

the original noise complaint from Woodall and also a similar complaint from resident Lonnie Oswald. His staff forwarded those inquiries to the code-enforcement department. Joe Keel said he and James met with Higginbotham in March to discuss possible solutions but came away from the meeting disheartened. “To be honest, at that time, I felt that he was not a friend of the winery,” Joe Keel said. Higginbotham said he always has tried to be a good neighbor to the business and even donated his time to help Keel and Curley when it suffered a fire in 2006. “My wife and I both helped,” he said. Joe Keel said he did not recall meeting the Higginbothams during that time. “If they did, I did not know about it, and neither did anyone in my family or business,” he said. Shortly after receiving the noise complaints, Keel and Curley converted to acoustic-only live music, and staff members also check levels with a decibel meter. Furthermore, the Keels sent letters to all neighboring residents in hopes of resolving any issues directly. “The residents who complained — they never reached out to us; they’ve never communicated with us,” Clay Keel said. The noise has subsided, but Woodall and Oswald told the

SWEET HEARTS GALA WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17 WHERE: Keel and Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road TICKETS: $75; available at or INFO: Black-tie optional, live auction, heavy hors d’oeuvres, dessert and drinks, dancing The foundation holds a variety of events such as the Sweet Hearts Gala. “Their mission is to help

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Tampa Bay Times

Keel and Curley Winery celebrated the opening of Two Henrys Brewing Company last October. Tampa Bay Times they still oppose the brewery portion of the business. “The winery itself we weren’t opposed to,” Woodall said. “They’re not zoned for what they’re doing. It’s really not a good area for them.” Oswald agreed. “This is a very rural neighborhood,” Oswald said. “They’re not zoned for the bar. They’re not zoned for special events such as weddings, but they’ve been carrying on right along. They’ve kind of done it under the radar.” Keel and Curley also has received support from its neigh-


Proceeds from the Sweet Hearts Gala will go to local families battling cancer. To complete a hardship application to receive assistance visit The only stipulations are that they must be local and have a child seeing a pediatric oncologist.

local families and research,” Pierce said. “It’s a path for families to receive assistance through an organization.”

bors. Kay Durham, who, at just 1/4-mile away, is Keel and Curley’s closest neighbor, said the Keels always have been courteous and responsive. “I moved into my house ... right beside Keel and Curley two years ago,” she said in a letter of support of the business. “When I bought, I knew of them and what they did. I bought anyway and somewhat because of it. I like the ambiance. “In the past two years, I have called them three times when a band got a bit too loud, and, immediately, they took care of it,” she wrote. “Any time that

I have a question or concern, they are right on it and are always nice about it. Honestly, (I) couldn’t ask for better neighbors.” Clay Keel also said the burgeoning craft-beer industry certainly would yield revenue for the local economy through tourism and taxes. “There is no reason why we (Tampa Bay) can’t be the craft brew capital of the Southeast,” he said. “The possibilities are endless.”

The gala will feature a light dinner and dancing at Keel and Curley’s idyllic setting. “Joe Keel has been very, very generous in letting this gala happen and facilitating it,” Pierce said. “He and his family have been so, so wonderful.” The gala also will include a live auction, with high-end items, such as beauty baskets, designer handbags, coffee baskets, a golf package, Tampa Bay Lightning hockey perks and more. Bourbon and Boweties has donated items for a special key raffle, in which participants can buy a key. If it unlocks the package,

then they win the jewelry. Origami Owl has also designed a one-of-a-kind necklace for auction just for the gala. Entertainment will include youth pop group NRG and progressive country duo Dock 7. After the auction, a deejay will bring down the dance floor. There are 200 tickets available. Pierce hopes to sell them all. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased at or Proceeds will go to help families locally. They can fill out a hardship application to receive assistance. The only stipulations are that they

The Keels estimate they have spent about $25,000 for the rezoning application and required engineering studies and attorney’s fees. The zoning revision will go before both a land-use hearing officer and land-use zoning hearing master June 23. Then, the Hillsborough County Commission ultimately will make its decision at its Aug. 12 meeting. Joe Keel said that decision is critical for the continued success of the business. To bolster its position, the winery has launched a petition advocating for the zoning modification approval. So far, the winery has collected about 7,000 signatures on both its physical and online petitions. Joe Keel hopes to have 20,000 by the land-use hearings next month. “We’re going to continue to fight,” he said. “If this doesn’t happen, half of employees will have to be let go. The tasting room — if it does exist — will be a shell of what it is right now. Whether we make it through — time will tell. “We need four votes out of seven,” Joe Keel said of the County Commission vote in August. “I feel very confident, but there’s nothing assumed in life but death and taxes. And some don’t even pay their taxes.” Contact Michael Eng at

To view Keel and Curley Winery’s application to modify its zoning or to view its petition, visit

must be local and have a child seeing a pediatric oncologist. “I know how hard it is to go through this,” Pierce said. “It’s a financial struggle — no matter what stage in life you’re in. I know several local families that could benefit, but there’s other families out there I don’t know of and want them to apply.” For an application to receive assistance, visit jensens “There are families here battling,” she said. “And we can help them.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at


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ACADEMIES / PAGE 5 entering college freshmen. Instead, she’ll report in July, for Plebe Summer, a required training program, which includes rigorous physical and mental training. The academic year starts in August. She plans to study either fiber operations or ocean engineering. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and being in an environment where everyone is ambitious, athletic and smart,” Hurst said. “Where everyone has a bigger goal than themselves.” Captain of Plant City High’s golf team, Hurst also has been recruited to play Division 1 golf at the Naval Academy. Golf, along with her impressive résumé of extracurriculars that include National Honors Society, Youth Alive and vice president of Civinettes, attracted the attention of the school and Ross. Hurst completed a competitive application and interview process to earn Ross’ nomination. She had met him before, when she attended the Congressional Classroom through his office. She was able to visit his office in Washington, D.C., had dinner with him and the other students and visited the numerous attractions of the nation’s capital. “It was absolutely incredible,” Hurst said. “I could see myself living there one day.” With the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Hurst won’t be far from D.C. Many members of her father’s family also live in Maryland.


U.S. Air Force Academy Trey VanDeGrift will be taking flight, from the warm beaches of Florida to the snowy mountains of Colorado, as he embarks on a new chapter in his life to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. “The biggest thing is that it is one of the premiere academic institutions,” VanDeGrift said. “And the fact that there is an opportunity to serve. It’s different than any other college. You don’t have to be in a club to serve. Instead, it’s you’re job — serving your country every single day.” Service runs in his family. His aunt and uncle, Jami and Tom Rotello, both attended the academy. Jami Rotello is still in the Air Force. Tom Rotello is retired and now flies commercial jets for Delta Airlines. At the academy, VanDeGrift hopes to study



chemistry or biology, with the goal of continuing on to medical school. The Durant High senior’s involvement with the Leo Club and National Honors Society will make him a competitive candidate for many programs. Depending on his academic track, VanDegrift may play football for the academy. He has been recruited after an impressive career as Durant’s quarterback. He’s visited the academy three times, once last November to see a game. “What I hear is you make a lot of the best relationships with the cadets,” VanDeGrift said. “You meet people from all over the United States. It’s like a large family unit.” The Valrico resident has a new family to look forward to, but he said he’ll miss his own back home. “(I’ll mostly miss) seeing friends, going to the beach, fishing,” VanDeGrift said. “But, overall, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for things I enjoy there.”


U.S. Naval Academy Strawberry Crest High School senior Matthew Baker may be going into the U.S. Naval Academy, but it’s flying and space that interest him most. He plans to study aeronautical or aerospace engineering. “I think it’s very cool,” Baker said. “Out of all the achievements our species has reached, the ability to fly or go outside of our planet is the most amazing. I want to be part of that.” Baker will leave for the Maryland-based campus this July, where he’ll attend Plebe Summer, along with Plant City’s Hurst. Baker attended Summer Seminar last year, where he got to live the life of an enrolled student. The training doesn’t scare him. “I like the whole military lifestyle in contrast to a civilian college,” Baker said. “I like PT; I like obstacle courses. There will be a lot of both.” For Baker, service runs in the family. His father, Robert Baker, retired as colonel in the Marines. “Him being a Marine helped me, but he never pushed me,” Baker said. “It was just something I could be involved with to serve my country.” And although his summer will be cut short, Baker is looking forward to the next stage in his life. “I think it’ll be very fun,” Baker said. “My dad’s a Marine, and I also want to fly or go into space. The Navy is the best for both.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@


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

met with the driver, who consented to a field sobriety test. Upon conclusion, the suspect was arrested.



2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft. The female suspect was arrested for grand theft and possession of a controlled substance. She was transported to Orient Road Jail.

Intersection of Trapnell Road and James L. Redman Parkway. Recovered Stolen Vehicle. A 2001 Cadillac was found abandoned with no keys.



610 block of Charlow Court. Crash Involving City Vehicle. The citizen driver struck a parked, unoccupied city construction truck. The driver suffered no injuries, and the vehicle had minor damage.


Intersection of North Gordon and East Young streets. DUI Crash. The officer responded to a crash involving a vehicle and a fence. On scene, the officer

investigation. He made contact with driver and located marijuana and pills in the vehicle. The suspect was arrested and transported to Orient Road Jail.




1210 block of Goldfinch Drive. Reckless Driving. Officers responded to the location in reference to subjects in the parking lot causing a disturbance. Upon arrival, the two subjects causing the disturbance were driving out of the parking lot. Both subjects were later arrested.

Intersection of North Franklin and West Reynolds street. Possession of Crack Cocaine. The officer conducted a traffic stop and obtained consent to search. The search yielded crack cocaine. The suspect was was arrested and transported to Orient Road Jail.


Intersection of James L. Redman Parkway and East Alexander Street. Drug Possession. The officer conducted a traffic crash



2300 block of East Cherry Street. Vehicle Burglary. The victim reported that while she watched youth sports, someone smashed rear passengerside window and stole blue purse, which contained a $100 bill, debit card, Social Security cards and a passport.


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Midtown redevelopment offers fresh vision for city TO THE EDITOR As a lifelong resident of Plant City, our continued care. People involved I am watching with satisfaction as we in refurbishing or remodeling existdevelop our new Midtown section. ing buildings play a part in stewarding The spirit of renewal this brings to Plant City’s physical legacy. They act as our special corner of America feels inspirations to new developments like refreshing and revitalizing. The space Midtown. already packs the potential for further Signifying our commitment to keepbeautification of this town we ing Plant City an attractive and love. appealing place to live means It seems that towns go welcoming what is new and rethrough periods of life just like specting what is older. As I see people do and the past few Midtown grow, I am prompted years saw Plant City take its to do my part to participate share of the economy’s downin efforts to keep the city a ward pull. Just having grass welcoming place to live. I feel planted and street lights set thankful we live in a town that in the Midtown area serve to gives us public places worth SCOTT inspire renewed pride in living generations of care. TOLER where we do. The vision to implement a This pride speaks in quiet, plan like our new Midtown measured tones — not loud comes from good city governor boastful ones. Plant City long ago ment. As a person who lives here, I established the reputation of having an feel I owe some thanks to the planners active, concerned and involved comwho showed the initiative to set this in munity of citizens. We know this aspect motion. We will soon have new places of life still flourishes here when we see in town to recreate and patronize. developments such as Midtown. These places will enhance the beautiPlant City remains the kind of town ful settings we already have. that likes to beautify its public spaces. In a short time, a drive along Evers These places give us a functional or Wheeler streets will open a fresh purpose to do business and enjoy view of our city. I hope the beauty of ourselves, but they also take shape as these buildings accompanies good spots that welcome a sense of visual times in the Plant City we know and appreciation. A city that works well love. I hope we all play a part in letting for everyday living also can be a city this renewal begin. where beauty shines forth. Scott Toler is a licensed mental Beautiful churches and other histor- health counselor living in Plant City. ic buildings in our downtown area reHe can be reached at etoler25@tammind us that standing structures need

Plant City Times & Observer

+ Thorough search key for city manager replacement Dear Editor: I am pleased to see the action of the City Commission with regard to hiring a search firm to recruit candidates for police chief and city manager. Plant City residents remember when Troy Surrency retired as chief of police, a search firm brought several well qualified candidates to town for interviews. The commission set aside those recommendations and decided to select a local resident. When Nettie Mae Draughn retired, once again, a search firm brought in good and well qualified candidates for the commission to interview, and once again, the commission set aside these candidates and selected a local person. Perhaps this time will be different, and we’ll see new faces with good ideas and a vision for the future. Gilbert V. Gott Plant City

+ Walden Lake residents should listen to buyers Dear Editor: I am a golfer and homeowner within the Walden Lake commu-


Locally Owned

Call Veronica Prostko, (813) 716-0007, or Joanna Verga, (813) 451-6489.

The Plant City Times & Observer is published by Plant City Media LLC, a joint-venture of the Tampa Bay Times and Plant City Observer LLC.


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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

nity. I, like other golfers, have not been happy with the closing of 18 holes (The Hills) and the deterioration of the total golf course over the last seven years. When I moved to Plant City, Walden Lake was one of the best golf courses in Hillsborough County — both layout and condition. Now, it is in the worst condition of any golf course in Hillsborough. We have been told that the only way to get the golf course back in top condition is to rezone for additional housing development on part of the existing golf course. The rezoning that Visions Golf has suggested would impact some homeowners’ views, and we would not have a golf course that golfers would enjoy playing. If some kind of rezoning does not happen to generate money to fix the golf course, then everyone will lose. If something is not done, all 36 holes will be shut down, and we will not have a golf course. That will impact the value of all homes. There are some people who feel if rezoning is not allowed, then, somehow, all 36 holes will be put back into good playing condition. To do this will cost several million dollars. This does not even address the condition of the clubhouse

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.

and the cost to fix or replace that building. There is also the question, are there enough golfers to support 36 holes and what will happen if there is not? Is there someone out there who has several million to put Walden Lake back to the 36hole golf course, with a very slim possibility of the course making a profit and most likely losing money? I also understand that some of the directors on the Walden Lake Community Association are against any rezoning — no matter what. The primary responsibility of the WLCA is to take care of the common areas that have nothing to do with the golf course. I do not feel the board of directors should have any more authority on what happens on the golf course than the individual homeowners. The 2,300 homeowners should have input on the rezoning and not the WLCA board making that decision for them. We need to listen to the new organization that wants to purchase the Walden Lake Golf and Country Club. Because, up to now, this is the only good news we have heard regarding the golf course. The new organization’s rezoning plans are still in development, and they are willing to listen to the golfers and homeowners. Before we say, “No,” to any rezoning, we need to see what their plans are. If we do not like what we see, we can say, “No,” at that time — not now. We need to make the decision that is best for all Walden Lake residents — not just a few. Bill Griffin Walden Lake

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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CONTEST by the Times & Observer staff

Kenley Connell, 9, pens winning Mother’s Day essay The Plant City Times & Observer partnered with Grimes Hardware to host a special Mother’s Day Essay Contest this year. We asked Plant City-area children to send us a few words telling us why they love their mother. We received so many wonderful, touching and adorable entries, and we thank everyone who entered.

FINALISTS As every kid can agree, all moms ever created can get on your nerves. Sure, you get in fights, you say, “I hate you,” and be sarcastic to your mom. Everyone does that at one point. But despite all of the bad, there is a lot of good to every mother. My essay will describe why I love my mother. First, my mom will go to the end of the Earth to protect and help me. For example, I am an awesome student. I have always made straight A’s. Sure, that is probably some of me and my genius. But, I am sure there is more to the story. My mom is always there to help me with my homework. She always explained to me the hardest concepts the best way she could. Even when she had no explaining left, she found someone else to help me. In addition for always helping with schooling, she also passed a law! My twin and I always preferred to be in the same room when learning. But every single school and, in fact, anybody without twins, always has the same thought: “They’re twins, they will think the same. Then we will assume they were probably cheating on each other.” Which, of course, is absolutely not true. But anyway, neither my sister nor my mom thought this was fair. Something had to be done, too, because in a couple of grades, they were going to physically separate us. She and some of her friends brought this to the State of Florida’s attention. She personally had written and emailed all of the senators and all of the representatives from the house. She got calls from a lot of people. They created the law, and then the governor signed it. Now today, all parents of multiples have a say in whether they want their kids together or separated. Last — but certainly not least — I love my mother, because she does a lot more than I realize for me. She provides me with food, she cleans my clothing (I fold it), she gives me a nice home with a stable environment, the list goes on forever and ever. She is always there for me and supports me. She is more than some kids could ever ask for. She goes above and beyond for most tasks. And, she loves me. As you can see, my mom is a top mom, and I love her for

Ultimately, we selected 9-year-old Kenley Connell as our grand-prize winner. With Kenley’s essay, her mother, Erika, will receive a bird feeder and restaurant gift card, a combined $100 value, courtesy of Grimes Hardware. See Kenley’s winning essay below, as well as some of our favorite submissions.

GRAND-PRIZE WINNER My mother, Erika Connell, is amazing. She helps me when I am down in the dumps. She always has a funny joke to tell me. I recently showed a pig at the Florida Strawberry Festival. When I got fifth place in my class, my mom cheered me up by saying that my pig was the BEST in her eyes! She helps me every day with my homework and many other things, as well. She gave me the blessing of having a sister and two brothers. She takes amazing care of every single one of us. We are very grateful to have a mother like her. I wish everyone had a mother like her. We love her very much. Kenley Connell, 9

that. She is not only supportive and nice, but she is cool and awesome (at least she tries her best to be teen-level awesome). She is the best mom ever, and she deserves to get a great gift for Mother’s Day! Emma Kordek, seventh grade I love my mom, because she takes me skating. She takes me to the parks. She takes me swimming, too. She cares for me. She feeds me. She also gets up with me so early, and she fixes me breakfast! She plays with me, when she does not feel well. She buys me all kinds of toys. But, sometimes, she’s mean — because she has to be. I love my Mommy so much! She keeps me very, very, very safe. And she lets me buy lots of Pokémon cards. I already have four tin cans, because she bought all of them for me. I love my mom, and she loves me with all her heart. Makayla Lauren Jenkins, 7 I love my mom, because she helps me when I am frustrated. She is kind to me and makes my favorite foods a lot. Whenever I am sick, she always tries to make me feel better. For instance, once, I had a tummy ache, and it was contagious. She couldn’t sleep with me, so she made a pallet in the floor and lay beside me until I felt better. She never forgets about me, even though I have a brother around who is 2 years old. I love my momma, also, because she is very funny Whenever I do something wrong on accident, she always supports me and doesn’t get mad. Even when my mom is mad or upset with me, she doesn’t stay mad, because she loves me.

I love my mom, also, because she is very generous and kind to everyone. I would do anything to give my momma the best Mother’s Day of her life! Kadence Helton, 8 My mom is one of a kind and is very unselfish. She gives more of her time and she does not expect anything in return. She takes us to places such as Disney and watches out for us. And is always there if we need someone to talk to. We can go to her for anything — like whenever I have a problem at school, I know that I can go to my mom with it. She is very giving. I remember one time, I was at a tournament for Special Olympics, and one of my fellow team members was hungry, and the girl’s parents were not there. My mom went to go get me food, and she brought back food for my friend, so that is why I think my mom deserves to win this contest. Jamie Clopton, 22 I love my mom, because she knows what it means to be heroic, loving and a true survivor (breast cancer) — and deserving enough to be called “Mother of the Year” every year. Nothing humbles her more or puts a smile on her face like paying it forward while giving back to others. Little did she know that people she helped to care for would be her saving grace when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was quite a battle, but she knew that nothing could break the bond of love that surrounded her, which proved to be her hero. Maria Lisa Andrade, 24


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STORE AROUND THE CORNER by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Justin Kline

Top Shelf owners Lawrence and Zee Brown held a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 1, with the staff.

Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill Lawrence and Zee Brown opened Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill last week, and they hope one day to see the franchise go national. Hooters. Ker’s WingHouse. Twin Peaks. For many people, the term “sports bar” is going to evoke one or more of these images. The owners of the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World’s newest restaurant, Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill, want their bar to be included in that conversation. Top Shelf was born from an idea that owner Lawrence Brown had had for 15 years, and he and his wife — coowner Zee Brown — finally were able to turn the idea into a reality May 1, when they celebrated the opening of their Plant City establishment. “I just figured that, if you can open up a sports bar in Plant City and make it, you can do it anywhere,” Lawrence says. The Browns plan to be a big part of its day-to-day activities. Lawrence, an analyst for Publix, plans to move on from that venture to put all of his energy into Top Shelf. Zee, who has worked in insurance for some time, plans to stay in that field but also will be found working on the restaurant floor often. “They say, in life ... if you go 200% and, maybe, if you fall short, then you’re only going to land at everyone else’s 100%,” Zee says. “We’re just going to try our best.” The two have been together for 14 years and met while Lawrence was working on a finance degree at the University of South Florida. Zee graduated cum laude from University of Tampa, before completing grad school at University Miami — hence the Bulls and Hurricanes helmets that adorn one of the bar shelves. They knew that, together, they wanted to get to work and create something about which they can be proud. “And, we can put these expensive degrees to work,” Lawrence says. “Top Shelf” was the first name that came to mind when the Browns started to seriously consider starting

BASICS TOP SHELF SPORTS BAR AND GRILL ADDRESS: 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-B HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays ON THE MENU: Burgers, chicken wings, nachos, steak, salads, seafood, sandwiches and 18 different appetizers. Full-service liquor bar and domestic beers on draft. WEBSITE: topshelfsports PHONE: (813) 704-6994 the business, and it proved to be the one that stuck. “It was just like a wedding dress or the perfect pair of shoes,” Zee says. “Nothing, to me, conjured up what we wanted to do except for that name.” Once they had the name, they started working on the logo and branding. When the Browns settled on a look that they liked last year, they incorporated Top Shelf. Right away, the Browns have found themselves in a spot with a few advantages. Many restaurants in Historic Downtown Plant City are closed on Mondays, but Top Shelf is not one of them. It’s also one of only two restaurants in the downtown area that serves burgers — and the only one with six on the menu. They also have received help in the kitchen from Davy Miles, known for his work with the Smokin’ in the Boys Room barbecue team. The Browns say they would love to see the brand go national one day, but for now, they will work to find success in Plant City. “We just want to serve good food and have good service,” Lawrence says. Contact Justin Kline at



THIS WEEK’S CRYPTOGRAM ANSWERS 1. We have diced carrots, cauliflower, fine lettuces and rutabagas, which are all good vegetables. Now let’s bring in the peas corps. 2. A parallelogram, a rectangle and an octahedron were discussing their political views. An oblong arrived and commented: “This must be the Trilateral Commission!”


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FAITH by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Evangelical University and Seminary celebrates seven years The seminary will host a fundraiser May 8, to help raise awareness about the school. For seven years, Evangelical University and Seminary has been teaching those interested about the word of God. With its third annual fundraising banquet on May 8, those from the seminary will be teaching attendees once again — but this time about the school itself. “It’s one of the best kept secrets in Plant City that a lot of people don’t know about,” trustee Myrle Henry said. “We’d like to get people to come and learn more about it.” The seminary was born from an idea by former long-term pastor of Plant City’s First Baptist Church, Dr. Ron Churchill. “He always had a desire, a curriculum of Bible classes and various things,” Henry said. The founding fathers include Churchill and two other local religious figures, Bob Westlake and Les Keylock. They came together to form the seminary in a building owned by Plant City’s First Baptist Church. “The whole idea is that there are a lot of pastors at small churches around Plant City that haven’t had any formal training,” Henry said. “One of the goals is to have something local where they can get a deeper formal training.” A second goal was to provide a place where laypeople can come and learn more about the Christian faith without having to travel outof-town for college. “You’ll find, in these classes, there are some young people, students who have come right out of high school,” Henry said. “Then, we have others who are older, middle-aged, then there’s old people like me.” Henry and his wife have taken six courses at the seminary, after he was asked to be a trustee. Some of his favorites were the surveys of the old and new testaments, a course on the book of acts and the words and works of Jesus. Since its inception, the school has thrived. It has had about 50 students complete those classes and more each semester. “It’s just grown,” Henry said. “They’ve had a lot of students. It’s just amazing.” The seminary is a non-profit that functions through donations and the willingness for professors to teach at low costs. It does charge tuition, but it is relatively low. Current tuition is $180 per three-hour course. This compares to nearly $400 or more per semester hour at other Christian schools. There is a $25 registration fee but none of the assorted “fees”

Courtesy photo

Eva Kroon Pike will perform at this year’s fundraising banquet.

EVANGELICAL UNIVERSITY AND SEMINARY BANQUET WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 8 WHERE: Plant City’s First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 503 N. Palmer St. COST: $25 per person RSVP: Myrle Henry, (813) 752-4094 INFO: Dinner is $25 per person and will be catered by Fred’s Southern Kitchen. The keynote speaker will be author and former instructor Greg Morris. Entertainment will be provided by gospel singer Eva Kroon Pike. charged by many institutions. Limited scholarships are also available. Students may audit a course, requiring only class attendance, at half the cost. “We try and keep the price of tuition very low, so this fundraiser helps generate funds,” Henry said. The fundraiser will be held at Plant City’s First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. The keynote speaker will be author and former instructor Greg Morris, and entertainment will be provided by gospel singer Eva Kroon Pike. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@


How the Bible defines Christian mothers Let me begin by stating that there and helping a child to understand can be no misunderstanding that how God’s word applies to life today. the traditional family (mother, See Psalm 78:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:10; father and children) as we know it Ephesians 6:4 is certainly under attack. And based on rulings last year by the U.S. Su• Training. Helping a child preme Court, we may find that what develop skills and discover their we call a “traditional family” is sadly strengths. See Proverbs 22:6 a thing of the past. So, with all the confu• Discipline. Teaching the sion on what a family is fear of the Lord, drawing the today, let me start with line consistently, loving and the basic Scriptural fact firmly always remembering of which there can be no that God put you in your denying and certainly no child’s life as their parent — error, because all Scripnot their friend. See Epheture is God-breathed and sians 6:4; Hebrews 12: 5-11; therefore, without error (2 Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; Timothy 3:16). We know, 23: 13-14; 29: 15-17 THE REV. that in the Garden of Eden, DEAN R. God formed man from the • Nurture. Providing an PFEFFER dust of the earth, and later, environment of constant seeing that man needed a support, freedom to fail, acpartner in life, God took a rib from ceptance, affection, unconditional the man and created woman. It was live and a place of refuge from the there that the bonds of husband world. See Titus 2:4; 2 Timothy 1:7; and wife were created and given Ephesians 4: 29-32; 5:1-2; Galatians the charge to fill the earth and 5:22; 1 Peter 3: 8-9 become parents. So, with that set, and the knowl• Modeling with Integrity. Livedge that Mother’s Day is upon us, ing what you say, being a model let’s look at what God’s Word tells by which your child can learn by us about moms. Many have come “catching” the essence of godly to faith in Christ because of their living. See Deuteronomy 4:9, 15, 23; mother. Proverbs 10:9, 11:3; Psalm 37:18,37 Being a mother is the most important vocation of all — a role that God’s word never states that the Lord chooses to give to many every woman should be a mother. women. Below are just a few of the However, it does say that those opportunities God gives to those whom the Lord blesses to be mothHe chooses to become Christian ers are to take that responsibility mothers. ( I encourage you to take seriously. Mothers have a unique the time in the days ahead and read, and crucial role in the lives of their and mediate on these verses.) children, because many children come to faith through of the role • Recognizing the gift. Underand influence of their mother (even standing each child is unique and grandmother). Sadly, much of from the hand of God. See Psalm society sees the role of a mother as 127:3 wanting and maybe even unrewarding. Yet, a Christian mother • Availability. Morning, noon and continues to be a profound influnight, a mom is “on call.” See Deuence in the lives of her children teronomy 6:6-7 — regardless of age. That’s because a Christian mother’s love, nurture • Involvement. Interacting, disand encouragement never ends. cussing, thinking and processing The Rev. Dean R. Pfeffer is the life together. See Ephesians 6:4 senior pastor at Hope Lutheran Church, Plant City. For more, email • Teaching. Sharing the Scriptures him at

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Barbara Jean Bartlett, 83, of Plant City, died April 30, 2014, at Kindred Hospital, in Tampa. Born Nov. 26, 1930, in Plant City, she was the daughter of the late Milton and Josephine Tyner Hennecy. She was the wife of the late Lloyd Bartlett. Mrs. Bartlett was a member of Grace United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Women, Beta Sigma Phi, East Hillsborough County Historical Society and the NIWA. She worked for Poppell Insurance, Moody & Moody Insurance and Ken Kimble Publishing. She was an avid reader and loved crafts, writing newsletters and desktop publishing. Survivors include sons, John (Dolly), Lloyd Jr., and Robert (Dawna) Bartlett; daughters, Patricia (Charles) McGuirt and Betty (John) Sumrall; 11 grandchildren; 29 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild. A funeral service took place May 3, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, Plant City If desired, donations may be made in Mrs. Bartlett’s memory to the American Cancer Society or the charity of your choice. Online condolences may be made at

Robert Daniel Brown

Robert Daniel Brown, 76, died April 27, 2014, at home, from heart failure. He was born in Sanford and lived most of his life in Plant City. He worked for more than 20 years for Publix. Survivors include his wife, Barbara Brown; two daughters, Roberta Houseman (Anthony) and Jackie Hendrix (John); a brother, Gordon Lee Brown (Debbie); two sisters, Nancy Lawson (Mickey) and Linda Dempsey (Darryl); and one grandchild, Anna Houseman. Funeral services took place May 1, at Wells Memorial Funeral Home, Plant City. Burial took place at Mt. Enon. Online condolences may be made the family at

George Glenn “Gandy” Bunch

George Glenn “Gandy” Bunch, 74, of Lithia, died May 2, 2014. He was loved and cherished by all

his family and friends. He is survived by children, Rhonda, Scarlett, Kevin, and Randy; grandchildren, Justin, Joshua, Andrea, Jacob, and Kristin; great-grandchildren Ethan, Megan, Finley, and one on the way; and siblings, Jim and Pat. He was preceded in death by his wife, Audrey; and son Richard. “Gone fishing.” Online condolences may be made to the family at

Margaret Lorene Forbes Gavin

Margaret Lorene Forbes Gavin, 93, of Plant City, died May 3, 2014. Mrs. Gavin was born on March 7, 1921, in Plant City, and grew up during the Great Depression. She worked hard and helped family and friends to survive during those trying times. She married her husband, Bill, only to see him off to fight in World War II soon afterward. When he returned, they raised their three children and owned and ran their own hardware store business. Mrs. Gavin was an integral part of the business and also managed the household and raised the children. Despite the challenges life presented to her, she always faced circumstances with patience, resolve, hard work, humor and love. She was a devoted member of the Northside Baptist Church, and her faith was the foundation for her kind and generous personality. She will be missed dearly by all whose lives she touched. Survivors include her daughter, Diana G. Rhode (Clyde); son, William A. Gavin Jr. (Stephanie); eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, William Alphus Gavin; daughter, Rebecca Rollins (Harry); sister Brunette Bugg; and brothers, Charles W. Forbes and Herbert Forbes. A funeral service took place May 7, at Wells Memorial Funeral Home, Plant City. Online condolences may be made the family at

Bethel H. Goddard

Bethel H. Goddard, 84, of Plant City, died April 13, 2014. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, served in the Korean War, was a foster parent for 40 years and a member of First Baptist Church of Dover. He is survived by his wife of 58

years, Annie; children, Allen Goddard (Patty), Lori Procopis (Perry), and Cheryl Taylor; sister, Elizabeth Clemons (Dennis); seven grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren and one on the way. A Celebration of Life was held April 17, at First Baptist Church of Dover. Online condolences may be made to the family at

James E. “Gene” Mindedahl Jr.

James E. “Gene” Mindedahl Jr., 58, of Plant City, died May 1, 2014. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Carol; children, Cara “C.J.” Balliett (Aaron) and Caty Mindedahl; grandson, Liam James Balliett; mother, Mavis Mindedahl; brother, Johnny Mindedahl; and many loving family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Gene Mindedahl. A Celebration of Life took place May 6, at Hopewell Funeral Home, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Jose Ponce

Jose Ponce, 57, of Dover, died April 28, 2014. He is survived by his mother, Socorro Ponce; siblings, Emerita (Antonio), Salvador (Lidia), Roberto, Delia (Eliseo), Juan (Elvia), Guadalupe (Alma), Martha (Agustin), Israel (Lucy) and Veronica (Hector); and many nieces, nephews and loving family. He was preceded in death by his father, Lorenzo Ponce. A Funeral Mass took place May 2, at St. Clement Catholic Church. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Karen Ponce

Karen Ponce, 58, of Plant City, died April 28, 2014. She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Roberto; children, Robert, Patrick (Carrie), Joseph and David (Beth); grandchildren, Maddison, BeaAnna, Blake, Logan and Loraina; and siblings, Patricia and Kenny. She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Edna Stevens. A Funeral Mass took place May 2, at St. Clement Catholic Church, Plant City. Interment followed at Hopewell Memorial Gardens, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at



ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Durant flag football QB Jessica McClernan etches name into record books. 12 SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM




planning ahead by Justin Kline | Staff Writer


ISF plans fundraising campaign for museum

+ Area athletes make state teams

Although the International Softball Federation’s Hall of Fame Museum was part of the deal since day one, funding fell through once the sport was dropped from the Olympics. To compensate, the ISF is thinking big.

Plant City will send six teams to Orlando for next weekend’s Summer Games. Participants include: P.C. Punishers (volleyball): Justin Ford, Joshua Ford, Garrett Johnson, Gregory Hawkins, John Straub, Michael Agustin, Ana Boxtha, Luis Ibarra, Erain Boxtha, Carol Boxtha and Yajaira Trevino P.C. Raiders (volleyball): Kyle Hall, Jesse Culpepper, Jamesha Roper, William Ellis, Jamie Clopton, David O’Callaghan, Jessica O’Callaghan, Amber Harwell, Brittany Harwell, Haley Burleson and Chris Sweeney P.C. Raiders Black (soccer): Aaron Black, Kelly Boudreaux, Maurice Eston, David Niver, Cory Shepard, Guillermo Castizo, Ivan Cortes, Brooke Leonard, Jorge Quintana and Sebastian Ruiz P.C. Raiders Orange (Soccer): Bryan Boskey, Justin Bulgreen, Gerardo Carbajal, Luis Duarte, Bobby Gordon, Javaras Stevenson, Kellee Brown, Holly Eddins, Cristina Gutierrez, Lorena Gutierrez, Samantha Gutierrez and Lauren Michael Athletics: Lonnie Coston, Nathan Jones, Natalie Kreig, Thomas Kranz, Bailey Lemelin, Kiyana Levins, Jaclyn Rust, Tori Selph and Jordin Vance Bocce: Josh McAlpine

There was once a time when Major League Baseball was a part of Plant City, by way of the Cincinnati Reds. Although those days are long gone, there’s a chance that the Bigs could be back in Plant City Stadium. If everything goes as Don Porter and the International Softball Federation hopes they could, then MLB exhibition games — and the long-proposed ISF Hall of Fame Muse-

um — may become realities in the future. “The main thing is to bring people here to the community, whether to see the Hall of Fame Museum or go to the events, or both,” Porter says. The ISF has had the support of MLB for several years now, partly through the federation’s ties with the World Baseball Softball Confederation, and also the support of softball equipment manufacturers

Easton and Mizuno. Porter has plans to make a full presentation to the city, the county and the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce soon, with preliminary talks now out of the way. “Among of the original projects that was proposed to us, when the offer was made by the city and county to locate here, was that this include the


Courtesy photo

The International Softball Federation recently released new renderings of its proposed Hall of Fame Museum.


There’s no food like ball-park cuisine


+ Bush, McBride represent Raiders Plant City High School sent two athletes to the Class 4A State Finals competition last weekend. Tychina Bush, finished eighth overall in shot put and discus throw — good enough to take home a pair of medals. Football star Montel McBride also competed in the shot put and placed 16th at states.


+ Plant City Colts to host 3v3 tourney The Plant City Colts youth football team is hosting its annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament fundraiser soon, and the registration deadline has been extended to May 15. The tournament, which will be held Saturday, May 17, at the MLK Recreation Center, is open to athletes from ages 9 to 72. Registration forms can be picked up from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, at the Colts’ clubhouse, next to the baseball field by Marshall Middle’s track or online at For more, call Debra Floyd at (813) 719-5138.

season wrap-up by Justin Kline | Staff Writer Junior pitcher Bryce Gainer helped Durant High School make it back to the playoffs in 2014.

File photos

FINAL INNING As the baseball and softball seasons come to a close, the Plant City Times & Observer takes a look back at the 2014 seasons for all three area high schools.

It’s been a good year for many of our area’s prep baseball and softball teams, but the 2014 season has come to a close in both sports. There were plenty of pleasant surprises along the way, and there will be plenty for these teams to look forward to in the future. So, what happened this season?


The 2013 State Championship runners-up might have been under-valued at the beginning of the season, thanks to the void left when star player Tyler Danish graduated. Counting them out of another playoff appearance, though, was a mistake. Durant (18-7; 8-2 district) got off to a hot start, scoring 36 runs and allowing three in its first four games. After cooling off for a bit, they got hot again in late


Durant’s softball team, led by six seniors left from the 2012 State Championship squad, made it all the way to the regional finals in 2014 — this time facing a 26-2 Harmony squad with no home losses. Freshman Sloan Hammons took the mound for the Lady Cougars, striking out eight while allowing only one earned run, but it wasn’t enough. Harmony used a three-run fifth inning to its advantage, and held on for the 3-0 win.

March and early April. The district race was very tight, but the Cougars came out on top of a 1-0 thriller with Brandon. That put them back in regionals with home-field advantage, but it didn’t matter in the end: Sickles rallied late, and

successfully, to knock Durant out in the first round. Garrett Wright’s team-best .418 and 33 hits stick out, as do the numbers for fellow seniors Paxton Sims (.351, teambest 23 runs and eight doubles) and Luke Heyer (.268, team-best 20 RBI and two homers). Sophomore Jake Sullivan and freshman Jonah Scolaro also established themselves as players to watch in the future: Sullivan batted .372 with 14 RBI and two doubles, and Scolaro hit .354 with 18 runs, 15 RBI and the team’s only other home run.


Posting a .500 record (4-4) in the first month of the season wasn’t a good look for Strawberry Crest (18-10; 7-3 district), but it didn’t take long for the team to find itself in March.


One of the best things about going to a baseball game is the food, which is unlike anything you can get at other sporting events. Even here in Plant City, sometimes. With baseball and softball season officially over, I can tell you right now that I’m going to miss some of the food. I ate my favorite meal of the season at JUSTIN Plant City High KLINE School, during their preseason tournament — a pulled-pork sandwich with baked beans, potato salad and a chocolate chip cookie. It was easily one of the best pulled-pork sandwiches I’ve eaten in 2014, and I’ve already been to one barbecue festival. I’ve never had food that good at any other events — football, basketball, hockey, soccer, you name it. And, it’s not just high school: Baseball’s delicious dominion extends into the pros, as well. If you’re going to Tropicana Field to watch the Rays play, you can treat yourself to one of their Cuban sandwiches while you watch the game unfold — and you won’t regret it. Nothing goes together quite like baseball and hot dogs, but that ballpark staple also divides a lot of fans. The Dodger Dog, a footlong that comes with mustard and onions, may be the most accessible for all taste buds. Cubs and White Sox fans stand by their Chicago Dogs, which adds pickle spears, tomato slices and celery salt. If you like chili dogs, you’re in one of two camps: pro-Coney Dog (of the Detroit Tigers — a thicker chili) or pro-Cheese Coney (of the Cincinnati Reds



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JESSICA MCCLERNAN Durant’s flag football team lost a tight, 6-0 district championship game to Bloomingdale April 30, but the team still enjoyed a historically good regular season. And, after that game, senior captain Jessica McClernan will graduate as the holder of many single-season school records: passing yards (1,853), touchdowns (28), rushing yards (531), and rushing touchdowns (12). With 11 caught interceptions, she also holds the record for most picks by a safety. How do you feel about this season? It was great. Definitely heartbreaking, that we lost, but going undefeated was great. I was pleased with the season. Before Bloomingdale, you won a 19-13 matchup with Newsome to get to the championship game. We did good. We started out a little rocky, but we pulled through. It was definitely rewarding, to beat them. And the Bloomingdale game — that one came down to the wire. What happened in that game? I don’t know. The defense was solid, the offense made a few mistakes. Bloomingdale executed. And now, you’re about to go to Southeastern University to play soccer. Are you getting ready for that now? We have a preseason packet that we’re doing. We don’t report until Aug. 4, but we work on the packet and get ready for workouts. If flag football is offered as an intramural sport at Southeastern, would you play it? Oh, I’ve already talked to the coach about it. I guess they’ve started a rule this year where athletes can’t play intramurals, but they’re looking to change it. So, if they change the rules, then I’ll definitely play flag football. What do you like to do for fun? I like to fish, and go to the beach. I work, so that takes up a lot of my time. What kind of fishing? I have only done freshwater fishing, so, bass fishing. I don’t have a favorite spot.

What’s your favorite food? Probably anything Italian. I love spaghetti. What’s your favorite movie? Not a big movie person, but I’d have to say “The Blind Side.” What about music? I’d have to say country music. I like Tim McGraw. I like his older music — not so much the newer stuff. He’s a genuine Southern person. Who are some of your favorite athletes? I would have to say Karina LeBlanc, goalkeeper for the Canadian National Team. I met her in the summer of my sophomore year. I was flown up to Baltimore for a Puma Women’s Elite Showcase. It was the top 60 girls around the nation that were born in, like, 1995 or 1996. We got to train with her, and she’s just a nice, genuine person. It’s nice to actually meet the person you look up to. What’s your favorite sports team? The Florida Gators. They have a great soccer team, and there are a lot of people from this area that play on the team. If you could play for any pro sports team, what would it be? The U.S. National Team. Women’s pro soccer isn’t really that big, but there’s the National Team. If you could have any one superpower for the day, what would it be? To be able to fly. I would go to the Bahamas.

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WRAP-UP / PAGE 11 Thanks to a good March, and a 6-1 district record from Feb. 28 onward, the Chargers were able to get to a decent position for the district playoffs and handle Tampa Bay Tech, 4-2. Oddly enough, Crest completed a regular-season sweep of Durant with a 10-2 blowout win on April Fools’ Day; Brandon, however, swept the Chargers in the regular season and also knocked them out of the district tournament with a 2-0 win. Baseball is a funny game, sometimes. Juniors Jake Ralyea and Jeffrey Murray led this Chargers team at the plate, as Ralyea batted .333 with 14 RBI, 12 runs and five doubles, and Murray hit .312 with 18 runs, 11 RBI and three doubles. Both players also hit one home run. But, the team’s most well-rounded performer this season may have been Mark Moclair. The junior did pretty well at the plate, sporting a .290 average with 17 RBI and five doubles, but he really shined on the mound: he threw two full no-hitters this season and, in the first three innings against Middleton on March 8, left the game with nine strikeouts, no hits and no runs.


Like Durant, Plant City (12-13; 5-5 district) had to deal with the loss of its best player, pitcher Kevin Long, to graduation. The rest of the team returned in February, though, to a new look and a new field.

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The Raiders’ 2014 record was nearly identical to its 2013 record (12-13, 5-5 in 2014; 13-13-1, 5-5 in 2013). They did, however, come out on top of the most lopsided score in recent memory: a 28-1 win over Middleton. Most notably, the Raiders got their first win of the season in a 2-1 extra-innings thriller with Tampa powerhouse Plant High School. Connor Slagill had a great year offensively, finishing with a .444 average, 17 runs and RBI, four doubles, three triples, and three dingers. A couple of young guns, freshman Dalton Wingo and sophomore Peyton Collins, also stepped up: Wingo batted .343 with 17 runs and four doubles, and stole 12 bases on 12 attempts; Collins, meanwhile, hit .316 with 16 runs and 10 RBI, and stole 15 bases on 16 tries. On the mound, sophomore Ryan Boyd was pleasant surprise. Boyd, a Durant transfer, threw two completegame no-hitters in the first five starts of his career: one in a 10-0 win over Tampa Bay Tech, and one in a 7-0 win over East Bay. His 69 strikeouts were also the most by any pitcher of the three area schools.

championship berth. When they got to that final game, against Plant City, they dropped an even bigger surprise on the crowd: Durant turned into a five-inning, 11-0 slobber-knocker to win. They won the regional semifinal rematch with the Lady Raiders, 5-2, one step further than the 2013 team. Senior leadership guided this team, though one of them — Shannon Bell — turned in one of the best offensive performances of any player in the area. While batting .368 in 95 at-bats, Bell ended with 45 RBI, 28 runs, 11 doubles, six homers and two triples. On the mound, freshman Sloan Hammons stunned batters with 141 strikeouts - the most of any area pitcher.




The 2014 Lady Cougars (20-9; 6-4 district) made it a little further in the playoff bracket than the 2013 squad did, despite faring worse in district play during the regular season. Although Durant fared well outside of Class 7A-7 play, going 14-5, those four losses in the district cast it as a lower seed for the tournament than the girls probably wanted to be. What really dragged the Lady Cougars down were their performances against Strawberry Crest and Plant City: four games, four losses. Then, they got into the district tournament. After abusing Tampa Bay Tech in the first round, 15-0, they had to take on the Lady Chargers. Surprisingly, the Lady Cougars dominated most of the game and left Brandon High School with a 10-6 win and a

than senior Megan Reed, who finished with nine while batting .329. Workhorse pitcher Sammy Tyler struck out 139 of 411 batters faced, and gave up only 19 earned runs all year.

No one started the season with higher expectations than Strawberry Crest (20-6; 9-1 district). And, for a while, it looked like the Lady Chargers would have no trouble meeting them. Half of their losses came in one three-game streak, at the Bartow Tournament of Champions. The other two regular season losses came in mid-February, to Bloomingdale, and late March, to Plant City. Other than that, they generally showed no mercy: only two of their wins (Wharton, Durant) came with a difference of less than three runs. They earned a first-round bye in the district tournament and drew Durant in the semifinal. On that day, though, they couldn’t overcome Hammons on the mound and Bell, Brooke Freeman, Selena Bezares and company at the plate. Almost all of their top performers were seniors, and two of them — Mia Fung and Cacey Simmons — were the only batters in the area to match Bell’s output. Fung batted .440 with 38 runs, 19 RBI, 11 doubles, five homers and three triples. Simmons batted an even .500 with 29 RBI, 28 hits, nine triples, five doubles and three home runs. No one in the area hit more homers

The Lady Raiders (20-7; 9-1 district) went through a coaching change in the offseason, with Maggie Fiex taking the reins, but actually improved upon their 2013 record. Of course, there was a slight adjustment period at the beginning of the season that saw the team start with a 4-3 record. After that, though, the Lady Raiders started rolling: after a Feb. 25 loss to Strawberry Crest, Plant City didn’t lose a single district matchup. Nor did they lose many other games — going on a 15-2 run to close the regular season. This allowed the Lady Raiders to lock up one of the district’s top seeds and a first-round bye, but they got more than bargained for with a scrappy East Bay squad in the semifinal game and a suddenly-hot Durant team in the championship. They still advanced to the regional playoffs, where they picked up a 3-1 win over Gaither in the first round before losing to the Lady Cougars again. Plant City’s only seniors, Emily Register and Kacie Booth provided solid leadership and contributed well all season. Register hit .458 with 25 runs, 22 RBI and eight doubles, while Booth hit .403 with 22 runs, 21 RBI and six doubles. Junior ace Noelle Dietrich, who racked up 14 wins against three losses, was arguably better at inducing groundouts and fly-outs than any pitcher in the area. She also finished the season with four shutouts in nine complete games. Sophomore Rebecca Sorenson and freshman Edmilly Molina were also team leaders on offense, as Sorenson led the team with 28 runs and 23 RBI, and Molina batted .415. Contact Justin Kline at jkline@

KLINE / PAGE 11 — Skyline’s runnier chili). Some ballparks specialize in seafood. If you go to AT&T Park to watch the San Francisco Giants, you can stop by Crazy Crab’z and get yourself a Dungeness Crab Sandwich — piles of sweet Dungeness crab meat sandwiched between two slice of buttered garlic toast. Or, if you’re in Miami for a Marlins game, you can dine on shrimp burgers at Burger 305. But if you, like me, are a barbecue fiend, the Kansas City Royals serve up a Burnt Ends sandwich with dill pickle chips that, apparently, is unparalleled. The Kansas City barbecue scene loves its burnt ends, perhaps more than any other in the country, and the thick, tomato and molasses-based sauce is my personal favorite. Although some people think baseball is the most boring of America’s Big Four sports, some of the wackier food items may make up for it. The Arizona Diamondbacks, for example, started serving the D-Bat Dog this season — an 18-inch corn dog filled with bacon, cheese and jalapeño peppers. If you like size-based challenges, head on over to a Rays game. They’ve got a fourpound Rays burger — served with a pound of fries — that goes for $30. If you conquer the meal, congratulations! You get a T-shirt. Oh, and two tickets to a regular-season game. Does a parfait sound good right now? How about a pulledpork parfait, with mashed potatoes? If so, you need to make plans to go to a Milwaukee Brewers home game. The kings of the over-the-top food dish, though, are the Texas Rangers. You can eat something as simple as bacon on a stick there, or you can step it up a bit with a Sausage Sundae (think a banana split, but with sausage links, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, pulled pork and a cherry tomato on top). The biggest, baddest dog in the majors, though, is their “Boomstick.” It’s a two-foot dog covered in mountains of caramelized onions, chili, jalapeños, and nacho cheese, a three-pound meal in a potato bun. I like to keep it simple when I order at the ballpark, though. So, if that barbecue will be back at Plant City High School — or at Durant and Strawberry Crest — I’ll be back on cloud nine.

MUSEUM / PAGE 11 Hall of Fame Museum and the Wheelhouse — the structure inside the four-field complex,” Porter says. “The problem was, there wasn’t enough funding left once the renovation was completed here, so we had to let it go at that point. Had we stayed in the Olympics after 2008, we probably would have had the funding to get most of that done by now. But, of course, that didn’t work out.” There is a chance that softball can get back into the Olympics in time for Tokyo 2020, but that decision won’t come until December. So, until then, the ISF will have to plan to do a lot of its own fundraising. The tricky part is coming up with events that pull in revenue — there are a number of tournaments that come through the area each year, but they don’t pull in much money. Getting fans to come to games and pay for seating, seems to be the surest way to pull in the needed funds, and making it work will require something bigger than these tournaments. It is possible for MLB to return to Plant City for some exhibition games. The stadium itself is still serviceable, even if it’s not exactly up-to-date. With several teams that regularly play in the Tampa Bay area — the Rays, the New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays — it wouldn’t be a stretch to have them drive out to Plant City. And, the league itself is about to be in the right mind set to make such decisions: Longtime Commissioner Bud Selig will retire at the end of this season. If everything works out, it could be a good thing for both the ISF and the city itself. For Porter, it would mean finally seeing one of the ISF’s earliest Plant City projects come to life. “We’d like to fulfill what we started here,” Porter says. Contact Justin Kline at


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May 1





May 3

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May 5


TUES. May 6




.77 (2013: 1.20)


TO DATE 5.88 (2013: 7.85)

HIGH 92 92 90 89 89 88 88

Thurs., May 8 Fri., May 9 Sat., May 10 Sun., May 11 Mon., May 12 Tues., May 13 Wed., May 14

May 2


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April 30

May 4


SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES Thurs., May 8 Fri., May 9 Sat., May 10 Sun., May 11 Mon., May 12 Tues., May 13 Wed., May 14

SUNRISE 6:44 a.m. 6:43 a.m. 6:42 a.m. 6:42 a.m. 6:41 a.m. 6:40 a.m. 6:40 a.m.

SUNSET 8:07 p.m. 8:07 p.m. 8:08 p.m. 8:08 p.m. 8:09 p.m. 8:09 p.m. 8:10 p.m.

LOW 68 68 71 70 69 69 68

Abigail Kilroy sent us this photo of a rusty vintage truck in a Plant City field. The Plant City Times & Observer and Grimes Hardware have partnered to host the I Love Plant City Photo Contest. Winners will have their photo featured and receive a $15 gift certificate to Grimes Hardware’s Strawberry Town Cafe! 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 Grimes Hardware.


May 14

May 21


LOW $26 $16

HIGH $30 $20

April 28

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

May 6


By Mary Jersey | Edited by Timothy E. Parker ACROSS 1 Rum drink 7 Mullally of “Will & Grace” 12 “New Girl” and “Modern Family” 19 “I” trouble? 20 Would much rather not 21 “1984” location 22 Lowered by degrees 24 One of the Triple Crown races, briefly 25 Important historic period 26 County of Ireland 27 Maneuverer’s need 29 “Monkey ___, monkey do” 30 Salad item, sometimes 31 Irritated 33 Judge’s workplace 37 Epinephrine-producing gland 40 Got a hole in one 42 “Fly away!” 44 Letters on a motor-oil can 45 Coral Sea hazards 46 Long-eared equine 47 Brownish New World creature 49 2006, in Roman numerals 50 Like some cold winds 53 City north of Pittsburgh 54 Completely absorbed 55 Meadow voles 57 Movie award 59 ___ corgi (dog breed) 60 Liv of “A Bridge Too Far” 61 Certain Balkan native 62 Greet the visiting team? 63 ___ Gatos, Calif. 64 One paid to control vermin 68 Be an inquirer 71 Sandwich initials

72 73 75 78 79 81 82 83 85 86 88 89 90 91 92 94 96 98 100 102 104 105 106 109 113 116 117 118 119 120 121

“The Jeffersons” actress Gibbs Add spice to Mead’s study Government IOU Nursery rhyme trio Amo, ___, amat Bargain hunter’s delight In a breezy way Remove rind Mickey’s prominent features Fishing pole Kind of palm or nut One of the Rockies (Abbr.) Swindler’s victim Hands on deck Throats SeaWorld whale “So long!” Hanging ropes Sick Mend socks “Cuts Like a Knife” singer Adams Photo ___ (camera sessions) Like some concerts or markets View Adherent Part of E=mc2 Bull’s-eye’s shape Most beloved Lymph ___ Variant of 54-Across

DOWN 1 A ___ pittance 2 Petri dish layer 3 Itsy-bitsy bit 4 Quirk 5 Refuse receptacles 6 Marcos of the Philippines

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

7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 23 28 30 32 34 35 36 37 38 39 41 43 46 47 48 50 51 52 56 58 59 61 62 65 66 67 68 69

Acted hurriedly Airport-board abbr. “Seinfeld” character “Lady Oracle” novelist Four Lads hit “___ Much” Weep openly Clinches AT&T’s industry Bit part for a big star Lennon’s love Hr. fragment Had a seat Word on a robe, perhaps Comet part Flashy Italian auto Shoot again Belonging to that couple Business as ___ Coarse metal files You have a mouthful A lot to carry Venus follower? Makes merry Drama set in Las Vegas Rich rock Duke’s conf. Coffee request, sometimes Creme-filled cookie Childish comeback Lemon cover Toyota model “Our Gang” girl Den piece Kind of premiere PC keyboard key “King of Swing” Goodman Started out What manicurists do Provide with an overhead surface Emulate Lindbergh Confidential matter

© 2013 Universal Uclick

70 71 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 82 84

Prepares to be knighted Head for business? Urges forward Emma of “Dynasty” Drawn like ___ to a flame ___ Loa (Hawaiian volcano) Lacerates Common lunch carriers Container cover Anti-narcotics org. Burning anger

87 89 92

Use as a role model Assimilate De Bergerac with the nose 93 Placed in order 94 The Duchess of Alba painter 95 Time allowed to repay a debt 97 Trivial 99 Gone from one’s plate 101 Bacchanalian event

103 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 114 115

What polygraphs detect Killer whale Able beginning? Proofreader’s word Uneven? ___ Wee Reese of baseball “Green Acres” star Gabor No longer working (Abbr.) “... ___ he drove out of sight” It’s human to do it

C RY P T O G R A M S 1 . G Z X Q K Z M P H Z M H Q N N E B Y, H Q L D P V D E G Z N , V P O Z D Z B B L H Z Y Q O M N L B Q F Q AQ Y, G X P H X Q N Z Q D D A E E M K Z A Z B Q F D Z Y. O E G D Z B ’ Y F N P O A P O B X Z R Z Q Y H E N RY. 2 . Z W Z J Z F F I F X R J Z S , Z J I O P Z T R F I Z T C Z T X O P Z E I C J X T M I J I C U V O AV V U T R P E I U J W X F U P U O Z F H U I M V. Z T X K F X T R Z J J U H I C Z T C O X S S I T P I C : “ P E U V S AV P K I P E I P J U F Z P I J Z F O X S S U V V U X T ! ”


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05.08.14 Plant City Times & Observer  

05.08.14 Plant City Times & Observer

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