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bserver O Happy Mother’s Day


You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.

FREE • thursday, MAY 9, 2013

exclusive CONTEST


Plant City alum signs with the New York Jets.

SCHS thespians See inside for take stage for this week’s photo ‘Almost, Maine.’ contest winner.




o t g n i s i Cru mother’s day


by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

by Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Legislation paves way to un-pave Midtown

l e m u z Co

The new bill also will streamline the permitting process for developers.

+ Durant High grad impresses at recital James Francis Cornelius performed a percussion recital recently, at Florida Southern College. The son of Lee and Ellen Cornelius, of Springhead, James graduated from Durant High School, attended Hillsborough Community College for two years and transferred to the University of South Florida. After two years, he transferred to Florida Southern to earn a degree in music and religious education. He is 23 years old, an Eagle Scout, a member of First United Methodist Church and a member of Phi Mu Alpha musical fraternity. He will be a senior next year.

The family enjoyed a historic tour of Cozumel.

For the past 14 years, sisters Marsha Passmore and Dodie White have taken their mother, Dora Beveard, on a special cruise for Mother’s Day. This year’s destination: Cozumel, Mexico.

+ Garden club presents award The Plant City Garden Club presented its April beautification award to Teresa Lungo. Throughout Lungo’s garden, guests will see her creativity in glass art, colorful flowering plants and integrating vegetables with ornamental plants. Lungo used her creative mind to make her gardens come to life, with an abundance of color and texture. There is no irrigation, so she waters by hand every day.

Like mother like daughter. In the case of Marsha Passmore and Dodie White, the adage could not be more appropriate. For the past 14 years, the sisters taken their mother, Dora Beveard, on a tropical cruise for Mother’s Day. Not only are the sisters spoiling their mother, but also they are following in her footsteps. Beveard always went on summer trips with her sister and friends. The girls-only vacation took the fun-loving travelers from the mountains to the seashore. Finally, when Passmore and White were teenagers, they

were allowed to join their mother on the annual excursions. The first year, they went to the mountains in North Carolina near Chimney Rock. “It was just priceless,” Passmore said. “We just try and carry on that tradition of travel.” With a love of travel instilled in them from their teenage years, the sisters began taking cruise trips in their 20s. In 1999, other family members and friends joined them on their cruise. Their mother was among them. “She just said it was the best vacation she had in her life,” Passmore said. “So we decided to take

DESTINATIONS In the past 14 years, Marsha Passmore, Dodie White and Dora Beveard have traveled to: The Bahamas Belize The Cayman Islands Costa Maya Cozumel Honduras Jamaica Key West New Orleans St. Maarten St. Thomas


INDEX Calendar......12

The concrete slabs that have long been an eyesore in what will someday be called Midtown soon may be gone. Florida legislators approved April 30, a bill that will allow the city to remove the slabs without having to construct stormwater retention ponds. The bill still needs Gov. Rock Scott’s signature, but barring any unexpected complications, it will become law July 1. The legislation, CS/SB 934, introduced by state Rep. Dan Raulerson, is the culmination of years of political work, dating back to former state Rep. Rich Glorioso. Previously, because of a law regulated by the South Florida Water Management District, retention ponds were required in areas where any impervious surfaces are removed. Swiftmud remained steadfast to the law, despite Plant City’s downtown stormwater drainage system, which has been in place since the 1950s. Under the new law, the slabs can be removed and replaced without having to add any additional stormwater systems. “We’re very excited (for the bill’s passing),” Raulerson said. Furthermore, he said the bill


File photo

City leaders approved recently a concept for Midtown’s greenspace.

Vol. 1, No. 45 | One section



Obituaries.... 10

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

Plant city observer by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Resident announces House campaign plans Andy Goss will challenge Rep. Dennis Ross for Florida’s 15th Congressional District seat. Although the 2012 election force. From there, he became just ended six months ago, a missionary and traveled to Andy Goss already has his Canada. sights set on 2014. In 1998, he rejoined the milGoss plans to run against itary, this time as part of the current U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross National Guard. He began acin the 15th District. tive duty in the U.S. Army two “Watching what’s happen- years later and served until ing to my party — it 2004. just disgusts me,” Before moving in Goss, a Plant City May 2011, to Plant resident, said. “I City, with his wife, don’t see any leaderMare, and chilship. No one is willdren, Shelby, 16, ing to say what needs and Spenser, 18, to be said.” Goss served as an A former counterinstructor at Fort intelligence agent Huachuca, in Sierra and interrogator, Vista, Ariz. Goss said his bold This isn’t Goss first personality lends foray into politics. itself to being the Andy Goss In 2010, he ran in candidate who can the GOP primary for say exactly what “needs to be the Second District of Arizosaid.” He has served five tours na, which includes more than in Iraq and is as rugged as the two-thirds of Tucson. U.S. desert he roamed. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords served “After being shot at, after this district before resigning what I’ve seen or what I’ve in 2011, following injuries she been through, people like sustained during an assassiNancy Pelosi don’t scare me at nation attempt. all,” Goss said. “It’s given me a “I met some wonderful different perspective.” friends I would not have met Originally from Charlotte, otherwise,” Goss said. N.C., Goss joined the U.S. Air He hopes his prior experiForce, after graduating from ence will aid him in his next Independence High School. race. Already he’s begun planHe got out after seven months, ning his first moves. Goss has because of a reduction in the secured a web domain to help share his platform and secure donations. Goss also hopes to greet some of the local RepubGET CONNECTED lican clubs and receive speakAndy Goss is working to ing engagements. launch his campaign webAlthough there’s much to site, be done, Goss remains confiFor now, Goss is available dent. through his email andy@ “I have the message or vinready,” he said. He is Contact Amber Jurgensen at also available at (704) 254ajurgensen@plantcityobserv1657.

P werful

THE ISSUES ECONOMY As a staunch Republican, Goss said he is against the “dumb” sequester, in favor of a flat tax and thinks Paul Ryan’s budget plan is “garbage.” For Florida, Goss would like to see the unemployment rate decrease and wants to work with the state government to bring in more businesses in by creating business tax breaks. “We need to start enticing people to come to Florida,” Goss said. IMMIGRATION Living just miles from the Mexican border in Arizona, Goss has seen the struggles of immigration. Sheriff’s offices have the right to ask for identification and status during traffic stops — as long as the traffic stop was lawful. Goss believes procedures such as this could help the immigration problem. He also wants the government to stop issuing driver’s licenses to non-citizens. “We have to stop giving them reasons to stay,” Goss said.


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Community Expo puts businesses on display Local business packed the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall May 2, for the Plant City Community Expo. The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce event featured a variety of

GUN CONTROL As far as Goss knows, gun control is just “being able to hit your target.” Against any further gun control laws, such as magazine caps, Goss finds the already-mandated background checks sufficient.

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local chamber members — from banks to restaurants — all with handouts and giveaways. The Plant City Observer was also on-hand with copies of its latest edition. Door prizes included

a gift certificate to Nick’s Pizzaria and an olive gift basket. A promotion, called Passport to Win, allowed guests to collect stamps from visiting vendor booths for a chance to win a $150 cash prize.

Samantha Coon and Adam Harris, of Nick’s Pizzaria, delivered some delicious samples. Left: Mary Lee Kirkland won this olive gift basket.

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Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013




by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

P.C. High cosmetology students earn trip to nationals


Three students will represent Plant City at the Skills USA National Competition, June 24 to 28, in Kansas City, Mo. — if they can raise funds to make the trip.

world traveler

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor Sophia Hyde enjoyed meditating near the Xuanguang Temple at the top of a mountain.

Sophia Hyde was able to spend a month in Taiwan as part of a Rotary program. The rain drizzled against the windshield, as Sophia Hyde and her host family drove up the coast of Taiwan. The car sloped over mountains and volcanos, teetering alongside the rocky edge. Stopping to take pictures, Hyde stood on a platform overlooking the water. It was monsoon season on the Pacific island, and although the sky was gray, the ocean shined blue like a sapphire. She breathed in the salty air. “Literally, at that moment, I felt my heart grow,” Hyde said. “In that moment of life, I realized my heart and soul were not stagnant. They can grow.” The moment came during Hyde’s trip as part of a Rotary Club International called the Group Study Exchange. A Tampa club selected a group of four young professionals from the area to participate. Although the participants are not Rotary members, they were selected for their ability to make presentations about the club to about 40 Rotary clubs in Taiwan. The trip was a monthlong cultural experience, during which the four travelers experienced their chosen profession in another country. Hyde, along with her husband, Brandon, own a media-production company, RisingSky Productions. Her companions included a nurse, a photographer and public administrator. “I can’t even put into words what the experience was like,” Hyde said, who returned April 26, to Plant City. Staying with seven different host families for 28 days, Hyde adventured her way through 112 different activities. “It was a whirlwind,” Hyde said. “Within the first 24 hours, I was swept away.”


From the moment the group got off the plane at 9:30 p.m., they knew it was going to be a trip full of surprises. One of the member’s luggage didn’t arrive with the rest. After straightening out the mess, the group left for the hotel. In the morning, they attended a welcome party, with banners and a traditional Chinese feast. The


The Rotary Foundation’s Group Study Exchange program is a cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40, who are in the early stages of their careers. The program provides travel grants for teams to exchange visits in paired areas of different countries. For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country’s culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.

A street performer in Taipei celebrated the birthday of the city’s gods.

Sophia Hyde was able to sample many different foods. Rotarian host families attended the party, where the group gave a presentation. After the presentation, everyone left with their host families. “Until that point, I hadn’t felt like I left America,” Hyde said. “Taiwan was like New York City, except instead of 20-story buildings, there were 40-story buildings and signs in Chinese. “But then I found myself following people I had never met before who barely spoke English,” she said. “I was getting in their car; they have my luggage. It just got real.” Hyde stayed with Merv, a wealthy businessman, and his family. She had her own apartment above the family’s home. After chatting with her new host family, they asked her what she wanted to see while she was in Taiwan. Hyde’s first choice was the Buddhist and Taoist temples. “I thought we were just making conversation,” Hyde said. “But all of a sudden, they made me grab my purse, and we were off.” While visiting with Merv, Hyde also was able to go to a wellknown restaurant, famous for its dumplings, and a night market. “It’s like the Strawberry Festival,

Taiwan is famous for its various dumplings. except without rides,” Hyde said. “And it happens every night.” During her trip, Hyde experienced much. She went to a special dinner party reserved only for CEOs and presidents of publicly traded companies. She went to Sun Moon Lake. She even dined on the delicacy, pig’s blood-soaked rice. In addition to sightseeing, Hyde and the group met with many professionals in their fields. For Hyde’s media field, she visited two television stations, the biggest advertising agency in Taipei and a movie theater that showed only independent films.


Before Hyde left for Taiwan, she wasn’t even sure where it was on the globe, much less that it was an island. “The people of Taiwan are so respectful and courteous — way beyond how they are here,” Hyde said. When they use cell phones in public places, they cover their mouths, talk quietly and keep the calls short. They also willingly help those in need. After one group member got lost, he asked for directions. A bystander

Source: Rotary International

walked him six blocks to his destination. Each host family showered the group with gifts and hospitality. And although Hyde became accustomed to the gifts, she never got used to the crazy traffic. “Every lane was a turning lane,” Hyde said. “There were people cutting each other off and weaving. But it was a normal thing.” While dining, Hyde learned there are no individual plates. Everything is served family-style. The person who picks up the check gets the leftovers; eating is a time of celebration; and alcohol is served with every meal. Her host families were equally enthralled with her. An 8-yearold in one family was in awe of Hyde’s green eyes. When Hyde told her they actually were hazel and changed colors, the young girl couldn’t believe it. Coming back to the United States, Hyde said she knew the trip was a life-changing one. “It definitely put a bug in me,” Hyde said. “Traveling has always been a priority. But now, I want to start making plans. I want to stop saying, ‘one day,’ and just do it.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at

After months of preparation, three cosmetology students from Plant City High School earned the honor of participating at the Skills USA National Competition June 24 to 28, in Kansas City, Mo. — if they can raise the funds to cover the cost of the trip. Ashley Bishop, Molly Copeland and Jana Watkins need to raise more than $3,000 by May 14, to travel to the competition. The trio earned their bid for nationals after their first-place finish in the Florida Skills USA Competition April 30, in Pensacola Beach. Six students from Plant City competed in the state competition. Bishop, Copeland and Watkins competed in the community service division. As part of the competition, the trio gave a presentation on their year-long community-service project. At Plant City, the cosmetology students work with Best Buddies, a program that fosters friendships between disabled students and other students. “We were very excited,” Watkins said. “Honestly, we didn’t think we’d win, but then they called out name for first place.” Since 2007, the cosmetology department has produced an “Everybody’s Beautiful” fashion show. The students transform their buddies with a makeover. The event raises about $1,000 for the Best Buddies program. “They’ve always been so special to me,” Watkins said. “Those kids are just like us.” Cosmetology students have been giving their buddies haircuts since 1999, when teacher Laurel Ritenbaugh met a severely disabled girl, who lived in a group home. The girl had a shaved head, because her hair was too hard to maintain every day. “The cosmetology students get really excited,” Ritenbaugh said. “Some have never spent time with a special-needs person. But, it just takes one time. It’s really cool.” The team hopes to impress the national judges with their story. “It would be so special to us to share the word about how amazing these kids are,” Watkins said. “I believe we can go, because Plant City always comes together.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@


To make a donation to help send the team to the Skills USA National Competition, call (813) 757-9370, Ext. 6.

Plant city observer

MOTHER’S DAY / 1 her on a cruise for Mother’s Day.” The tradition stuck. This year, the sisters and their mother booked a trip to Cozumel, Mexico. They left May 2, from the Port of Tampa. In the past, the trio took a sevennight cruise, packed with activities, food and adventure. But this year, now that Beveard is 88, they decided to go for a four-day cruise. “We didn’t want to overwhelm her,” Passmore said. “But, we were surprised. She did better than we expected. Next year, we might have to opt for the longer cruise again.” While out at sea, the women spent the majority of time on their suite’s balcony. They took in the view of the ocean, smelled the salty air and enjoyed each other’s company. Every morning, they munched on breakfast while sitting out on their balcony. They also had an afternoon snack overlooking the water. “Mother loves dominoes,” White said. “So, we always make sure we spend some time playing them.” The trio also made sure to en-

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013

joy many activities any motherdaughter team would like, including shopping and watching evening performances. “We just relax when we get on the ship,” Passmore said. The trip to Cozumel has been one of White’s favorites. “It was convenient, (because) we left from Tampa,” White said. “We had two of the best waiters, too, who just really catered to Mother.” The waiters were among the highlights of the trip. The bus boy would sneak up behind Beveard and kiss her jokingly. They even started calling her “Mama.” “Mother is always a hit with our waiters,” Passmore said. “They just dote on her. They take good care of her.” They took such good care of Beveard, that when they stopped in Cozumel, Beveard bought them two Tshirts that fit their personality. The outgoing bus boy got a T-shirt with a smiley face on it, and the head waiter one that looked like a tuxedo. “They loved them,” White said. “I don’t think anyone has ever bought them a gift in the port before. They


also will streamline the permitting process for Midtown’s eventual developer. The bill applies to urban infill and redevelopment areas, including Midtown. “It allows a developer to obtain a conceptional permit for all 80 acres — and to do that 80 acres as one, instead of the 15 to 20 parcels individually,” he said. Raulerson credited Glorioso and Legislative Aide Amber Smith, who worked for both legislators. “Amber is the one who really drove this through,” he said. “She walked the halls of Talla-

were showing the shirts to other tables.” The ladies also went on a historical tour of the port. The tour guide had around 25 years of experience and was enthusiastic as ever, pushing Bevard’s wheelchair. “She can really get a taste of the history and learn about the port we’re in,” White said. “He took care of her.” The family was in Cozumel the day before Cinco de Mayo. “There were celebrations going on,” Passmore said. “It was just real festive that particular day. We felt privilege to be there on that day.” The family hasn’t planned a trip for next year, but White hopes they will revisit Grand Cayman. “We haven’t been in a couple of years,” White said. “I know she knows she’s loved. We do this, because we love her too much. You can’t take any moment for granted.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at

(The bill) allows a developer to obtain a conceptional permit for all 80 acres — and to do that 80 acres as one, instead of the 15 to 20 parcels individually. — Rep. Dan Raulerson

hassee to make sure we had all the right language.” During Glorioso’s terms in office, the bill passed through the House twice but stalled in the Senate budget committee, headed by former Sen. JD Alexander. This time, state Sen. Tom Lee helped push the bill through the Senate. The concept for Midtown

dates back to 2007, when thenMayor Rick Lott introduced the idea — and the term — to help revitalize Plant City’s downtown core. Several businesses in Midtown’s 85 acres had closed, leaving behind a series of dilapidated buildings. City leaders were faced with two choices: Do nothing or supply a vision for renewal.

The vision for Midtown’s 85 acres is for a mixed-use development featuring a blend of condominium-style housing, eateries, shops and offices. Lott said similar redevelopment projects in St. Petersburg and Sarasota have transformed those downtowns into bustling areas that create significant economic impact. Under the Midtown Redevelopment Plan, the city purchased the dilapidated buildings. Midtown is funded primarily by the Community Redevelopment Agency, an entity created in 1981 specifically for city revitalization. In the past five years, the


city spent $4.75 million on the demolition of businesses, such as Gro-Mor and Stock Lumber, and to purchase parcels. Last year, the city removed about 1,175 tons of petroleumimpacted soil from the former Hydraulic Hose and Cylinder site. Most recently, the Plant City Commission voted March 25 to pursue proposals for a destination-style park for Midtown. City officials also expect to begin this summer a project to realign Wheeler Street between Renfro and Alabama streets. Contact Michael Eng at


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Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013



by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Amber Jurgensen

Inspire! Quilting and Sewing co-owner Lisa La Pointe is proud of the pillowcases ConKerr Cancer volunteers created at her Plant City store.

Quilters give comfort to children battling cancer Many of ConKerr Cancer’s 50,0000 pillowcases were made by Plant City hands. Although Inspire! Quilting and Sewing opened just last September, its owners spared no time getting involved with the community. Every first Saturday of the month since it opened, the downtown store has provided sewing room for members of ConKerr Cancer. The members sew pillowcases for children with cancer. Last weekend, the group celebrated the delivery of more than 50,000 pillowcases during a party May 4, at Inspire! The pillowcases will benefit children receiving treatment in seven area hospitals. “We are absolutely proud to be able to help them and provide a place for them and low-cost fabric,” co-owner Lisa La Pointe said. About 12 members from the Brandon and Plant City area come to Inspire! to help the cause. They are all part of the greater Tampa Bay chapter of the national ConKerr Cancer. The Tampa Bay chapter delivers about 1,300 pillowcases each month. Last summer, they delivered 1,100 pillowcases to Paul Newman’s Boggy Creek Camp. The camp hosts sessions for severely and chronically ill children, including two sessions for children with cancer. The hospitals that receive the colorful pillowcases of hope include All Children’s Hospital, Tampa General Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, two Ronald McDonald Houses, St. Joseph’s Children’s


Want to use your sewing talent for a good cause? For more information, call Inspire! Quilting and Sewing at (813) 704-4867 or visit ConKerr Cancer meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first Saturday of every month at Inspire! Quilting and Sewing, 101 N. Collins St., Plant City.

Hospital, Lakeland Regional Medical Center and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The majority of the funding to make the 15,600 pillowcases each year comes from the volunteers themselves. Each volunteer provides their own fabric and machine. The retail price for the materials alone is about $156,000. The members make colorful pillowcases — complete with French seams — to brighten a child’s day. Members aren’t restricted to a theme or color palette. “It’s totally their own thing,” co-owner Lynn Haberl said. After the pillowcases are sewn, they are laundered, ironed and packaged to go to the hospital. For those who can’t sew, Haberl and La Pointe said the organization needs volunteers to help with packaging. Cindy Kerr founded the national ConKerr Cancer organization in 2002, after her son was hospitalized with cancer. To cheer him up, Kerr made pillowcases. Soon, Kerr also was making pillowcases for other children on the unit. The organization has grown to 121 chapters. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@

IT’S READ EVERYWHERE! UCF: The Browns and Bakers took the Plant City Observer to visit the college campus in Orlando. From left: A. Michelle Brown-Baker, Asia Brown, Anisa Brown, Aronne Baker, Adrian Brown and Alyshia Baker.


Snap a photo of you with the paper at your destination of choice and email it to Managing Editor Michael Eng, Make sure you include your full name and where the photo was taken.


Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013

peace through patchwork by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Relay for Life quilt warms family’s hearts


The quilt was part of a raffle for the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Friends of Jim Stevens Relay for Life team.



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When Sarah Wheeler was walking a lap with her mother, Charlene, and a family friend at this year’s Relay for Life, they spotted a sign for a quilt raffle. Sarah, a self-described country girl, always wanted a handmade quilt. So, the trio went over to enter the raffle, a benefit for the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Friends of Jim Stevens joint team. Sarah gave her donation for a ticket and continued walking. Little did she know, it wouldn’t be the last time she would see the quilt. “I didn’t give it a second thought, until the next morning, when mama brought it home,” Sarah says. “I could not believe that I won it. I do win things from time to time but would not say that Lady Luck is always on my side.” “We were surprised, because most of the entries were parishioners from our church,” team member Quincey Thoeni says. When Thoeni and other team member learned about the Wheeler family’s story of cancer battles, they knew their beloved quilt was going to the right home. “They just have such an amazing story,” Thoeni says. Although the family has been involved with Relay for Life for 13 years, this year’s event was particularly special for the family. Sarah’s mother was unexpectedly diagnosed with colon cancer in June 2012, just six years after Sarah’s father died from the same diagnosis. “We were blindsided again,” Sarah says. “We had adjusted to our ‘new normal,’ and now, we’re having to redefine normal again.” Both of Sarah’s grandfathers have been diagnosed with cancer, as well. One is a survivor, and the other died in 2010, from pancreatic cancer. This year, Sarah’s grandfather and Charlene were able to walk, hand-inhand, during the Survivors Lap for the first time. The rest of the fam-


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Charlene Wheeler and family friend Sandy Black

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

The Plant City Republican Women Federated hosted guest speaker Frank Wuco April 18, during its meeting. Wuco is a conservative radio talk show host on 970

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ily ran out onto the track to join them during the Caregivers Lap. “That feeling is indescribable, though I can say that I was so proud to walk with mama around the track,” Sarah says. “I am blessed to have her.” The quilt will be traveling with Sarah to Atlanta, where she will be working as a pharmacy practice resident at Emory University Hospital. The quilt was made by Thoeni’s mother-in-law, Joann Thoeni. Joann is also the mother of the pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Tom Thoeni. It took about 10 to 12 hours to make the classic nine-patch patterned quilt. Joann makes many quilts for the church, as well as ones for nursing homes and Wounded Warriors. She also makes more than 20 quilts for St. Peter’s Christmas baskets for Meals on Wheels. Sarah’s favorite aspects of the quilt’s design are the strawberry-patterned pieces. “I know I will miss my family, my friends, my house, my hometown and knowing where I am at all times, but I know it will all be worth it and will strengthen my faith and my spirit,” Sarah says. “And now, with the quilt I can take a piece of Plant City and a piece of Relay with me.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at

Ed and Judy Wise and Frank Wuco

WFLA. His show, “The Frank Wuco Radio Show,” airs from 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays. A social hour began at 6 p.m. at the home of Ed and Judy Wise, in Walden Lake.

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013


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Plant city observer



“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

Founding Publisher / Felix Haynes General Manager and Managing Editor / Michael Eng, meng@PlantCityObserver. com Assistant Managing Editor / Jess Eng, Associate Editors / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@; (Sports) Matt Mauney, mmauney@PlantCityObserver. com Advertising Executive / Veronica Prostko, Advertising Coordinator / Linda Lancaster, Accounting Manager / Petra Kirkland, Advertising-Production Operations Manager / Kathy Payne, kpayne@ Advertising-Production Coordinator / Brooke Schultheis, bschultheis@ Advertising Graphic Designers / Monica DiMattei, mdimattei@yourobserver. com; Marjorie Holloway, mholloway@; Jim Knake, jknake@; Luis Trujillo, ltrujillo@; Chris Stolz, cstolz@


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

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THURSDAY, may 9, 2013


‘Buy local’ column misses the forest for the trees In a recent column in Townthe general population. I wonder hall Magazine, Managing Editor why? Elisabeth Meinecke published However, I was surprised by a column, titled, “Does Buying the direction Meinecke’s column Local Hurt the Poor?” In it, she took. From the headline, I had analyzed current proposexpected a discussion als for the federal govof whether “Buy Local” ernment’s dispensing of campaigns, like we have food aid to the poor who occasionally seen in shop at roadside farmer’s small- to medium-sized markets. communities such as For the record, I agree Plant City, have a greater with the 24,000 Facebook negative impact on the Likes Meinecke received poor. for her column. The In a local economic enFELIX proposals are replete with vironment that has never HAYNES progressive ideas to reemerged from recession, form the private agriculbut still, thank God, pritural sector, favoring: organicalmarily controlled by individual ly-grown foods; food with fewer decisions of business owners and marketing steps from farmers to consumers, the impetus for “Buy consumers; food grown on farms Local” campaigns is to level the that use practices that seem playing field between large cormore “friendly” to the environporations that operate local retail ment; food from farms that pay outlets and small, locally owned higher wages and employee ben- establishments that represent efits; and food from farms that the strong American tradition of provide better living conditions small business. for animals. Yes, large corporations can As with so many proposals offer products at lower prices, from progressives, such as elecbecause their size enables them tric cars, except for a modicum to spread their costs of operaof success on both coasts, they tions over many similar outlets. have not really caught on with However, a small business can



+ Coyotes are not new to Plant City

Dear Editor: I recently read the article about coyotes. Good article, but it made it sound as if this is something new. You may want to update at some point to let the readers know there are lots of coyotes around Plant City, and there have been for years. We built a new house in 1994, at the end of East Williams Road, and since that time, we hear packs of coyotes to the north, east and southeast of us, yipping routinely and close by. In the last year, we have lost our two cats to coyotes, when they wanted to go out at night, and we let them out. About the same time, a feral cat that stayed

outside disappeared, as well, along with the neighbor’s cat. My wife recently saw three in our yard (we have five acres) at the same time our donkeys saw them and chased them away. Ranchers near us have dug up the dens with a bobcat and killed all the coyotes in the den. Apparently, coyotes are bad for calves. I recently talked to a lady, who saw one jump over her chain-link fence, grab their chihuahua then jump back over and run off with it. A friend of ours, Michelle Tucker, who lives on the south end of Plant City, had them dig under her fence to kill all of her chickens. She sees them routinely. I was looking at rifles recently at the hardware store at State Road 39 and Lithia Pinecrest Road, and the guy in the gun department was recommending

offer another real advantage for the consumer — customer service. How many times have you gone into a large store with a general idea of what you want to buy but in need of guidance from a clerk? How long does it take to find a clerk to assist you? Yes, their lower prices are good, but they are frequently unable to provide the same level of face-to-face, customer service of a locally owned small business. As consumers, we want it both ways — low prices and good customer service. Without “Buy Local” campaigns, some fear consumers will only shop at large chain stores to get the best price. If that happens, more locally owned businesses may fail, resulting in more vacant storefronts, fewer consumer choices and further weakening of our local economy. Ultimately, if that happens, it will force more of us, who continue to want good customer service in our shopping experience, to get in our cars and drive to Brandon or Lakeland. Then, we will be adding the transporrifles to kill coyotes and telling me what various farmers and ranchers in the area use. While there, several other people told me they kill coyotes routinely. The hardware store also has coyote skins on the wall and a stuffed coyote. Keep up the good work. Byron Nelson Plant City

+ Killing coyotes is not a solution Dear Editor: I just read your article, “Coyotes sighted in Plant City.” I find it disturbing that one of the first solutions to a lot of people is to kill the animal. I have to agree with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Angeline Scotten that the animals are here to stay and that we have learned to live alongside with bears, panthers and other animals. In other words, you cannot stop nature. I am not saying that we should not watch our children. My children always came first. But, you cannot completely control all of the animal population

tation costs to the cost of the products we seek. It is true those added costs will impact the poor at a greater level, perhaps even making that trip to Brandon or Lakeland impossible. But, I’m sure we would all agree that this situation is not ideal. The ideal is for us, as consumers from all income levels, is to have choice in Plant City. If we know exactly what we want and want it at the lowest price, we want the convenience of a large chain. However, we also want the option of a locally owned momand-pop store to get that higher level of customer service. The competition between these two forms of business strengthens all in the marketplace. It keeps downward pressure on prices in locally owned businesses and keeps customer service pressure on large chain stores. Most importantly, it keeps a diverse group of retail providers in the community. This diverse group can best meet the needs of all Plant City shoppers — from all income levels. The question is: How do we give ourselves the best chance of keeping a local economy in which we, as consumers, have the benefit of all those good options? The answer: We need regular “Buy Local” campaigns. Felix Haynes is an owner and founding publisher of the Plant City Observer. everywhere, every time. Nature needs to continue on living — for the sake of our precious environment. If we keep killing animals just because they are wild, we will end up destroying the environment for animals and people. I hope these people find a more humane solution to the coyote “problem.” I would like to see the animals possibly trapped in a humane way and relocated. This certainly will not stop them from coming back, though. I live in Walden Lake, and I know we are surrounded by many different animals. I have seen alligators, snakes, possum, armadillos and vultures, and the list goes on. We do not have a “problem” with any of them. I know they are there, and we just live our lives and do not have any worries about them, because it is impossible to kill everything. We cannot be paranoid of every animal that we see. Nine times out of 10, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. I just wanted to share my opinion on this story. Donna Curci Walden Lake

blowing off steam by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Bryan students celebrate FCAT’s end Bryan Elementary students finally were able to relax after a week of FCAT testing May 2, during Specials Day. Dancing was a big part of the day. Students were taught Zumba by instructors from the YMCA and learned to line dance in the multipurpose room. Strawberry Crest Dance Club members also performed a showcase in the music room.  Outside of art teacher Heather Patrick’s classroom, students made take-home crafts. Across the campus, they competed in relay races for physical education class.  The library was anything but

These students couldn’t wait for the dance showcase to start. quiet, as a drummer played taiko drums for the students. The musician was part of the Artists in the Schools Program, hosted by the Hillsborough County School District and the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.

Students enjoyed a dynamic tango dance.

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013


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Robert L. “Bob” Coburn, 80, died April 29, 2013. Survivors include his wife, Mildred Coburn; children, Debra (Kevin) Roggen, Robert Coburn II, Karen (Keith) Lager, Stephen (Linda) Coburn and Robin (Sidney) Simmons; stepchildren, Ken (Pam) DeShong, Gina (Dan) Reichmuth and Jamie (Bridgette) DeShong; 16 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Mr. Coburn was preceded in death by his second wife, Aleeta Coburn.   Online condolences may be made at

- Chad Morrow



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Roy H. Dimas, 59, of Plant City, died April 25, 2013, at South Florida Baptist Hospital. Born March 29, 1954, in San Antonio, Texas, he was the son of the late Manuel Dimas and the late Pauline Hernandez Dimas. He was the husband of Francisca Dimas. Survivors include his sons, Roy Jr., Nicolas and Richard Dimas; brothers, Lebrado, Sirilio and Patricio Dimas; sister, Betty Dimas; and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Maria Isabelle Sandoval. Online condolences may be made at

Hazel Yvonne Long


Flag Day Thursday

June 14

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14th as Flag Day. This day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States. In 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. The United States Army also celebrates its birthday on this day in June. According to the U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter I Section 8(j) says “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”

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THURSDAY, may 9, 2013


We have both our home and auto with Rhett, and I feel secure that he’s always looking out for my best interests when it comes to insurance. He always keeps me in the loop on any changes in the industry and how it could affect us. If we ever have a question or concern, I know he’s right there to respond.

Plant city observer

Hazel Yvonne Long, 61, of Plant City, died May 1, 2013, at home. Born March 31, 1952, in Tampa, she was the daughter of the late James Long and the late Clara Davis Long. Survivors include her daughter, Dawn Rogers; brother, James Long; and three

When the honor guard correctly folds the American Flag (as seen in military funerals) 13 times, there is a reason for each fold. 1st fold 2nd fold 3rd fold 4th fold 5th fold 6th fold 7th fold 8th fold 9th fold 10th fold 11th fold

12th fold 13th fold

Represents a symbol of life Our belief in eternal life Honor and remembrance of vet Our weaker nature and trust in God Tribute to our country Where our hearts lie Tribute to our Armed Forces One who enters into the valley of the shadow of death Tribute to womanhood and Mothers Tribute of father Represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit “In God We Trust”

grandchildren, Kalani, Tobias and Stashe. She was preceded in death by her brother, Wallace Long. A funeral service was May 6, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, 708 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. Interment at Pelote Cemetery, Lithia. Online condolences may be made at

Norma Jean Schmidt

Norma Jean Schmidt, 73, of Plant City, died May 4, 2013, at Melech House, in Temple Terrace. Born Jan. 15, 1940, in Memphis, Tenn., she was the daughter of the late Woodrow Yow. Mrs. Schmidt was a member of Hope Lutheran Church, a painter and loved to make jewelry. Survivors include her husband, Keith Schmidt; mother, Maxine Shappley Yow; sons, Chip (Alice) Byrd Jr. and Lee (Tori) Byrd; daughters, Erna Schmidt, Tammi (Clester) Reliford and Kathy (Shawn) Webb; sister, Sheryle Davis; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Friday, May 10, at Hope Lutheran Church, 2001 North Park Road, Plant City. Interment will be in Florida National Cemetery, in Bushnell. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. May 9, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, 708 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. In lieu of flowers, the family has asks that donations be made in Norma’s memory to the Hope Lutheran Church Building Fund. Online condolences may be made at

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today. The colors of the American Flag also have meaning … RED — Valor and Hardiness WHITE — Innocence and Purity BLUE — Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice The FLAG CODE allows any deceased to be allowed to have the flag adorning a coffin. Veterans are the most common to flag theirs, but anyone is allowed to use the flag in this manner.

Since 1999, Haught Funeral Home has been assisting families during their loss of a loved one with interment in these area cemeteries:

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Antioch • Bethlehem Hopewell Memorial Gardens Hopewell Church Cemetery Pelote • Oaklawn • Memorial Park Mt. Enon • Springhead • Shiloh

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We will replace worn and tattered flags for proper retirement. No charge for the first 100 guests from 1-4 p.m. on June 14th.

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Neighborhood B U S I N E S S | P L A N T C I T Y L I F E | O B I T U A R I E S | G A M E S | R E L I G I O N | S P O RT S

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Connor Perry and Rebecca Stephens

Harrison Strickland and Sinead “Shady” Stephens


by Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Joel Wilson Right: Rebecca Stephens and Joel Wilson

Final Bow Drama students from Strawberry Crest High School took the stage to present “Almost, Maine” May 3, at the school. The spring production, set in the mythical town of Almost, Maine, was a funny — and heartfelt — look at love. Following the performance, the four senior performers took their own bow to conclude their careers as SCHS thespians.

The audience loved SCHS’ production of “Almost, Maine.”

Connor Perry and Rose Tibbets The performance featured many different views of love and relationships.

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013



Ribbon Cutting: Quest Diagnostics — takes place at 11 a.m. May 9, at 206 W. Alexander St., Unit 2.

Mother’s Day Dance — takes place at 6 p.m. May 12, at Stardust Dance Center, 1405 S. Collins St. Cost is $10. Donna, (813) 340-9433.

Small Business Assistance Program — takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 9, at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce Library, 106 N. Evers St., Plant City. Presented by Hillsborough Economic Development Council. “The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood” — showtimes at 8 p.m. May 9, 10 and 11, at Plant City Entertainment, 101 N. Thomas St. Tickets are $10 for members of advanced group sales; $12 for seniors; $14 for non-members and K-12 students. (813) 503-7993. Write Your Memoirs With Lark Underwood — takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 9, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. 757-9215.

MONDAY MaY 13 Bealsville Historic Marker Installation — takes place at 10 a.m. May 13, at Bealsville Recreation Center, 5009 Nesmith Road, Plant City. Sponsored by the Hillsborough County Historical Advisory Council. Master Gardener Workshop — takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. May 13, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. Please

bring plants for the plant exchange. (813) 757-9215.

TUESDAY, MaY 14 Alzheimer’s Support Group — meets at 2 p.m. May 14, at Plant City’s First Baptist Church, 503 N. Palmer St. (813) 752-4104. Book Discussion — takes place from 11 a.m. to noon May 14, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. The book is “Swamplandia” by Karen Russell. (813) 757-9215. Family Bedtime Stories — takes place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 13, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. 757-9215.

FRIDAY, MaY 17 AARP Driver Safety Class — takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 17, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. (813) 757-9215.

SATURDAY, MaY 18 MudZilla Mud Run — takes place May 18, at the corner of Prevatt and Coronet roads. Elite races start at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Cost is $79 April 14 to May 15; $89 walk-ups.

FRIDAY, MAY 10 Elder Law Seminar — takes place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. May 10, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. (813) 7579215.

SATURDAY, MaY 11 Florida Opry — takes place at 6:30 p.m. May 11, at the 1914 PCHS Community Center, 605 N. Collins St. (813) 7579226.

Strawberry Classic Car Show — takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. May 18, at 102 N. Palmer St., Plant City.

SUNDAY, MaY 19 Vegetarian Food Pyramid Tasting — takes place at 3:30 p.m. May 19, at Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2203 Strawberry Drive, Plant City. The afternoon starts with a showing of the movie, “Forks Over Knives,” followed by a tasting. Seating is limited, (813) 650-3087.

ONGOING Babytime — takes place from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Thursdays, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. 757-9215. Blood Pressure Checks — available from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, at South Florida Baptist Hospital, 301 N. Alexander St., Plant City. No appointments necessary. Bereaved Parents Group — meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month, the fourth Tuesday of each month, at South Florida Baptist Hospital, 301 N. Alexander St., Plant City. Janice Falcon, (813) 9971709. Cholesterol Screenings — available from 2 to 3 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month, at South Florida Baptist Hospital, 301 N. Alexander St., Plant City. Cost is $30. No appointments necessary. Colon Cancer Support Group — meets at 6 p.m. the third Thursday of each month, at Cancer Resource Center, 1708 W. Palmetto St., Plant City. (813) 644-6720. Computer Classes — take place from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. (813) 757-9215.

Crafternoons — takes place from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. 757-9215. Duplicate Bridge — meets at 1 p.m. Fridays, at St. Peters Episcopal Church, 302 Carey Street, Plant City. Players must have partners. Walt Arnold, 752-1602. Family Motion Commotion — takes place from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. 757-9215. Hope Al-Anon Group — meets at 7:30 p.m. Mondays, at Hull House at First Presbyterian Church, 203 Thomas St. 763-3698. Ladies Bible Study —meets at 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays, at Planteen Recreation Center, 401 Dort St., Plant City. Martha Sue Skinner, (813) 752-7630 or Plant City Lions Club — meets at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, at Buddy Freddy’s, 1101 Goldfinch Drive. For more, visit Plant City Daybreak Rotary Club — meets at 7 a.m. Mondays, at South Florida Baptist Hospital, 301 N. Alexander St., Community Conference Center. For more, visit Plant City Noon Rotary Club — meets at 12:15 p.m. Mondays, at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, 1205 Townsgate Court. Plant City Civitan Club — meets at 7 a.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month, at Buddy Freddy’s Restaurant. 1101 Goldfinch Drive, Plant City. For more information, call the club at 659-3933. Republican Club of Plant City — meets at 7:15 a.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month, at Buddy Freddy’s Restaurant, 1101 Goldfinch Drive, Plant City.

We are here for you and your family.

We are Plant City’s oldest and largest hometown financial institution. We’ve been helping our neighbors since 1954. We make all decisions locally and offer all the modern banking services you expect.

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If you like the idea of doing business close to home, visit us and see how easy and friendly hometown banking can be.

PLANT CITY – Main Office, 102 W. Baker Street, 752-6193 • WALDEN WOODS – 2400 Jim Redman Parkway, 754-1844 Also offices in: BRANDON, RIVERVIEW and ZEPHYRHILLS 111331





ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Paige Davis a dual-threat for Durant. 16




by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Single elimination unfair to athletes We’ve all heard the expression “on any given day,” when referring to a team’s chances of winning. In no two sports is this more true than in baseball and softball. From Little League to the pros, every team — no matter their record or talent level — has a solid chance of winning as soon as they lace up their cleats and take the field. It could be the pitcher on the mound having a bad day, an untimely error by an otherwise solid defense, or a batter with MATT a low average MAUNEY getting ahold of a ball and knocking it out of the park for the walk-off win. Anything is possible in sports, but especially when it comes to those played on a diamond. This is why they play multigame series at the college and pro levels. Even in All-Star Little League tournaments, the teams can play out of the loser’s bracket after dropping a game. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in the Florida High School Athletic Association. After the district tournament, it’s oneand-done all the way to the state championship. One bad pitch, one costly error or one poor baserunning decision can send your team packing. Even in district tournaments, a one-and-done format is used, outside of the two semifinal winners, which move on to regionals. All three area softball teams


Matt Mauney

Plant City High School graduate and University of South Florida standout Mark Popek is heading to New York this week to participate in the New York Jets’ rookie mini camp.


After starting just one season of varsity football at Plant City High and battling an injury his senior season at South Florida, Mark Popek is now a member of the New York Jets. Mark Popek isn’t your typical “gifted athlete makes it” story. While some athletes seem destined to play in NFL as soon as they strap on shoulder pads in high school, for most of his prep career, Popek was a long shot to even to get quality varsity playing time. A self-described “tall and lanky tight end” his junior year at Plant City High School, Popek dedicated himself to building his body up to make the dream of playing in college possible.

On April 27, another dream was realized. Popek signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound offensive tackle left Thursday for New Jersey to participate in the Jets’ rookie mini-camp. He expects to make it past that stage and continue with a month full of meetings, training and evaluations. After having most of July off for free time, Popek would then compete in fall camp to make the team for the 2013 season.

But Popek is no stranger to uphill battles.


It was the spring of his junior year at PCHS when Popek set a goal for himself. “I had a strong interest in playing football in college, and I knew that I was going to have to work hard and put on some weight to be able to do that,” he said. After school, he put in extra work at the school’s gym, even after offseason team workouts. He

would lift for several hours, before spending his nights working at Kazbors restaurant, in Plant City, now known as Daisy Dukes. While working, he was allowed to snack and eat after shifts, a perk he utilized to make his weight-gain plan possible. “That spring and throughout the summer, I would just eat constantly,” he said. “I kept a body mindset. I kept working out every day and just ate a lot.”


cold as ice by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Hockey team unites three Plant City schools Ice hockey players from Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest play under the Cougars name. Patrick Alfonso isn’t your typical high school athlete. The Strawberry Crest freshman takes classes at the Dover school and plays tennis for the Chargers in the spring. But during the fall and summer, he is a Durant Cougar. “When I’m out selling T-shirts, I’ll hear things like, ‘You go to Strawberry Crest. Why are you selling shirts for Durant?’ Alfonso, a forward with the Durant ice hockey team, said. “I hear it a lot

from my friends and kids at my school.” The current Durant Cougars hockey team will enter its third season this fall. They will play their second game of the spring/ summer season, a training season for the fall, at 9:45 p.m. Friday, against Freedom, at the Ice Sports Forum, in Brandon. A previous Durant team dismantled in 2003, after players graduated and numbers depleted. That team had success, winning

the 2000-01 state championship. Current head coach Eric Redden has been able to keep a steady group of players from the three Plant City area high schools.


In fall 2010, a decision was made to bring hockey players together from Eastern Hillsborough County to form a high school club team. Players from Plant City, Durant and Strawberry Crest came together and played their first season in the spring of 2011, under the Durant Cougars name.


Matt Mauney

The Durant hockey team is currently in its spring/summer season, which serves as a training season for the fall.

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013

POPEK / 13

GOOOAALLLL! by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

When Popek showed up for fall practice for his senior season, he weighed just shy of 300 pounds. Earlier that summer, he shifted to offensive line and attended summer lineman camps. “Most guys either love or hate playing offensive line,” he said. “Once I got into it, I began to love it.”


Virtually unknown to anyone outside of the Plant City coaching staff, Popek faced a hefty challenge garnering attention from college recruiters in just one year of starting on varsity — even with his new, larger stature. Former PCHS special education math teacher Dr. Kelly Harper was influential in helping Popek and other players get their names out. “She would compile game footage and make individual highlight tapes for us and would send them all over,” Popek said. With Harper’s help, Popek received offers from Illinois, Vanderbilt and others. In the end, he chose to take an offer from South Florida. Shining on the field in high school certainly didn’t hurt either. Popek was named to the Class 5A Second-Team All-State as a senior and was rated as the 83rd-best offensive tackle in the country by

The two teams played a physical game.

VSI notches comeback win over visiting Antigua game out of reach in added time with another goal, giving VSI the 3-1 lead. VSI improves to 4-3-0 in its inaugural USL PRO season and is 3-1 at home. VSI will have several weeks off to particpate in the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tournament. VSI Tampa Bay FC will play at Orlando City U-23s (PDL) at 7 p.m. May 14, at the Seminole Soccer Complex, in Sanford. VSI’s next USL PRO match will be against Wilmington on May 26, at Plant City Stadium.


After being redshirted in 2008, Popek played four seasons at USF. In 2009, he received All-Big East Freshman Team honors from ESPN. com and Sporting News. Popek shined his junior year, starting all 12 games at left tackle and anchoring an offense that averaged 432 yards of total offense per game. It was then that Popek began thinking the NFL Draft may be a possibility. “When I started playing at USF consistently, I started to realize Mark Popek played guard and tackle at USF.

Douglas Dos Santos celebrated with Tony Donatelli after his goal in the secSebastien Thuriere is a local fan favorite who played at ond half to tie the game. South Florida.

Courtesy of USF Athletic Communications

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In accordance with the provisions of State law, there being due and unpaid charges for which the undersigned is entitled to satisfy an owner and/or manager’s lein of the goods herinafter described and stored at: Uncle Bob’s Self Storage located at: 1005 S. Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563. 813-759-9526. And, due notice having been given, to the owner of said property and all parties known to claim an interest therein, and the time specified in such notice for payment of such having expired, the goods will be sold at public auction at the

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Even though Popek went undrafted, he had an idea where he would end up before the draft concluded April 27. Miami, Tennessee, St. Louis and the Jets all showed interest in Popek as a free agent, but he felt the Jets were the best fit because their depth chart showed a glaring need for offensive linemen. “I hold their organization in high regard,” he said of the Jets. Generally speaking, a low percentage of undrafted players end up making an NFL team, much less earning a starting role. Some don’t even make the practice squad, but there have been notable exceptions. Famous undrafted free agents include London Fletcher, Wes Welker and James Harrison. Pro-Bowl center Jeff Saturday and three-time Super Bowl champ Nate Newton, a guard, are well-known UFA offensive linemen. “I know that going undrafted, the odds are against you,” Popek said. “I’m just thankful that I have an opportunity. It will be a great proving ground to continue what I’ve been able to accomplish at Plant City and USF. I feel I have the right work ethic and still have a lot to offer.” C o n t a c t Matt Mauney at


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VSI Tampa Bay FC overcame an early deficit to defeat Antigua 3-1 May 3, at Plant City Stadium. Antigua’s Tamorley Thomas scored the first goal of the game just seven minutes into the match, but Tampa Bay FC came on late to score three goals in the final 38 minutes. Tony Donatelli scored the first goal for VSI in the 52nd minute, tying things up at 1-1. Mauricio Salles would give VSI the lead in the 73rd minute, scoring from 25 yards out. Salles would put the

that I might have the opportunity to pursue playing in the league,” he said. “I think my coaches would all say that I had a great work ethic. After all, they (USF) were paying for my college education, so I took it seriously and treated it as a business job.” With high expectations going into his senior season, Popek faced a major setback on Oct. 20, 2012, when he suffered an ankle injury against Louisville that had him miss three of the final five games of the season. Although the injury certainly hurt his draft stock, Popek worked hard to bounce back. By January, he was back to 100% and performed well in offseason combines. “I was hoping to get drafted, but this year didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” he said. “I just focused on keeping in shape and working hard to prove that I deserved a shot. I knew I was going to have a home somewhere, I just didn’t know when or where.” • 813.754.4805



Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013


MAUNEY / 13 made it to their respective region semifinal games this season, only to come up short in all three games. Three games. Three losses. Three teams having their seasons come to an end, and a handful of seniors seeing their playing careers end on one unfortunate outcome. Durant, the defending Class 8A state champs, fell to Palm Harbor University 1-0 in its region semifinal. Strawberry Crest, which entered its region semifinal with only two losses, fell to Lakewood Ranch on the road. Both teams were district champions. Lakewood Ranch just happened to get home-field advantage because of the Lady Mustangs’ placement on the FHSAA bracket. One of the most glaring examples came over the weekend in Plant City baseball’s region quarterfinal game with George Jenkins. Plant City appeared to be moving on to the region semifinals May 2, when the game was called because of rain in the bottom of the seventh, with Jenkins at the plate and the game tied 2-2. Per FHSAA rules, the score was reverted to the beginning of the inning, with PCHS leading 2-1. After a protest the next day, the decision was made to finish the game May 4, with the game tied 2-2, and Jenkins at the plate, with the winning run on first. Jenkins ended up winning on a controversial call on a drag bunt down third to end Plant City’s season. This brings even more rules into question, but if things played out like they did, if it were a best-of-three series, the decision wouldn’t have been as costly. There is a fine line between crying for injustice and shedding light on a legitimate problem. My goal is to do the latter. The FHSAA region and state tournament format for baseball and softball needs to be reworked. It is simply unfair to the teams, players, coaches and fans to have entire seasons decided by the outcome of one game. Sure, you have to draw the line somewhere, and in no way am I suggesting a seven- or even a five-game series. There simply isn’t time or money for that at the prep level, but there are certainly realistic options available that are much fairer than the current format. In Georgia, there are no region playoffs, just a large state tournament — 32 teams from each class (top four teams from eight regions) for both softball and baseball. Baseball plays three-game series, from the first round to the state championship. The first two games are a double-header, while the deciding “if-game” is played the following day. For Peach State softball, the first and second rounds of the playoffs are best-of-three series, resulting in eight teams going to the state tournament in Columbus, Ga., at the 1996 Summer Olympic softball complex. That tournament is double-elimination and makes for some exciting and competitive high school softball. I covered a team last year that lost a one-run game the opening night before winning four straight games over the next two days to make it to the state championship. Both formats certainly have their flaws — including home-field selection — but few can argue that either of these formats would not be beneficial to the FHSAA. One game doesn’t prove the better team, and although a three-game series or a double elimination tournament might not either, it is certainly better than the alternative.


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+ Durant headed to region baseball finals Durant pitcher Tyler Danish has struck out 25 batters in two complete-game shutout performances in the Class 8A Region 2 playoffs. The University of Florida commit has yet to allow an earned run this season. Danish helped lead Durant to a 2-0 win over Riverview (Sarasota) May 1, in the region quarterfinals, before shutting down East Lake 3-0 May 7, on the road in the region semifinals. The Cougars will now host Timber Creek at 7 p.m. May 10, in the region finals, with a spot to the state championship on the line. Garrett Wright had an RBI single for Durant May 7, to give them a 1-0 lead. Corey Ham scored and an error, and Paxton Sims scored on a passed ball to give Danish and the Cougars some cushion. Visit for coverage of Friday’s region final.

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Plant City High football players had a strong showing May 5, when PCHS hosted the VTO Sports Prep 100 Tampa Combine. Jyquis Thomas was named MVP for defensive backs; John Broome was MVP for defensive linemen; Landon Galloway was MVP for tight ends; and Quincy Robinson was MVP for offensive lineman. Hassan Bailey was named the MVP in the athlete category. The combine featured some of the best prospects in the Tampa Bay area and from around the state. Many of the prospects already have Division I scholarship offers. Another PCHS standout is continuing to gain national exposure. Class of 2014 offensive lineman Montel McBride recently was named the 22nd best offensive guard prospect in the nation according to


Plant city observer

athlete of the week

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

PAIGE DAVIS Paige Davis isn’t content with just one role as a softball player. The Durant senior led the Lady Cougars with a 1.46 ERA this season in 153 innings pitched and had 106 strikeouts. Davis also performed well at the plate, batting .390 with 14 RBI. She is committed to South Florida State College, where she will get to do both roles. How did South Florida State come about? Through travel ball. The head coach there is good friends with one of my coaches. It was before the season at Durant. I’m going there with one of my best friends who is on my travel ball team (Armwood’s Lauren Harris). How long have you been playing softball? Practically my whole life. I started pitching when I was 8.

have a whole family here. After winning state last year, what are your thoughts on the way this season ended? We really wanted to make it back to state, but we knew it would be a hard run, especially after winning it last year. I think we did well. We worked hard and played as a team. I’m still proud of the team. What was winning state like your junior year? It was so much fun and something most teams don’t get to experience. I’m just glad that I got to experience it.

What got you into pitching? I tried it out and actually stopped for a couple months, but I realized I wanted to do it again. Depending on how I’m pitching can determine how the game goes. You rely on your pitcher, and I like when my team can trust me.

What are your expectations for college ball? Coach Carlos (Falla III) is really funny and really nice. He told me that I’m going to be a pitcher and a first baseman, and I’m going to be a hitter. That was something I really wanted in a college.

What will you remember the most about your career at Durant? Our team bonding. If there’s a rain delay, we’ll always play games in the locker room, and we’ll all go eat before games. It’s just the fact that you

Do you know what you want to study? I want to be a detective; so I’m doing criminal justice. Outside of softball, what do you like to do for fun? I like to ride four-wheelers. I like to fish and go mudding. Just be outdoors.

HOCKEY / 13 Before that, players at Durant were playing with the club team at George Jenkins High, in Lakeland. When Redden’s sons, Blake Redden and Reece Dinofsky, became freshmen at Durant, they told their dad they wanted to form a team at their school. “They told me they wanted to play for Durant and felt that they had enough kids to make a team and asked if I would coach them,” Redden said. “I had been coaching at the recreation level, so I said, ‘Yes, as long as we can get enough players.’” Between the three schools, Redden has been able to keep a roster of about 20 players for the spring/summer and fall seasons. Because of other sports and summer vacations, players from other area club teams play as Cougars during the spring/summer season to fill out the roster. “Every year, I’m worried that we might not have enough players, and now, we’re getting to the point where we have more than enough,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge, but we’ve been able to do it.”


As one could imagine, a high school hockey team in Florida faces unique challenges. “Especially in Florida, there are so many other things that kids do,” Redden said. “Football and baseball are king down here, and lacrosse is even big. There are other things they can do, so when you have kids that excel in multiple sports, what’s going to take precedence down in Florida? It’s not the cold-weather sports, especially when the parents have to pay the bill.” Durant football player Zach Whitney is an example of this. Whitney played with the team in its first year after the Durant football season was over but did not play last year to focus on football, Redden said. For some, including Durant junior Blake Seaman, hockey is their main sport. Seaman has played for 11 years and began playing with the Cougars as an eighthgrader, when teammate Nick Nappi convinced him to join. This fall will be his third season with Durant.

“They needed defensemen, so I figured I would try it out,” Seaman said. “I’ve enjoyed it.” Seaman and Alfonso said many of the kids at their schools don’t even know the team exists, but they spread the word every chance they get. “I try to get all my friends to come out to the games, because they’re free, and high school kids love free stuff,” Seaman said. “We try to sell the shirts and get the word out as much as possible. It’s been getting better now that I’m going into my third year. When kids come out, they usually like it, because I mean, it’s an ice rink in Florida.”


Hockey can be an expensive sport anywhere in the United States, but especially in warm-weather areas, where rinks and ice time are at a premium. The Cougars call the Ice Sports Forum, in Brandon, their home rink, but with the demand and cost of ice time, they only practice once a week during the season. “It can be tough, sometimes, especially this week, where we practiced Monday and have the whole week off, until we play Friday night,” Alfonso said. As a club sport, the team only receives the nickname and school colors from Durant. Hockey is not a sanctioned FHSAA sport and therefore receives no funding from the school district or state. Parents and fundraising initiatives raise money for the ice time, travel, uniforms and equipment. From a coaching standpoint, having just one hour of ice time a week for practice is difficult, but Redden and his staff try to make use of every second. “It doesn’t matter how good of a coach you are, if a kid is a certain skill level, you do everything you can in that one hour,” he said. “Our main priority is to make sure the boys have fun and play the game the right way.” After winning just two games their first fall season, the Cougars went 6-10-3 last fall. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@


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Plant city observer

THURSDAY, may 9, 2013

Plant City





May 1






May 4



May 5

sunrise/sunset times


Sunrise Sunset Thurs., May 9 6:43 a.m. 8:07 p.m. Fri., May 10 6:42 a.m. 8:08 p.m. Sat., May 11 6:41 a.m. 8:08 p.m. Sun., May 12 6:41 a.m. 8:09 p.m. Mon., May 13 6:40 a.m. 8:10 p.m. Tues., May 14 6:40 a.m. 8:10 p.m. Wed., May 15 6:39 a.m. 8:11 p.m.


May 6


TUES. May 7




1.20 (2012: .02)



May 18


May 25


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


TO DATE 7.67 (2012: 2.36)

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Community starts with neighbors who care.

May 31

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

May 9


May 3

High Low 88 68 91 68 90 68 88 70 86 66 84 64 82 70

Linda Hunter titled this shot, “Eye on You.” “I love Plant City cows,” Hunter says. “Although I grew up in a very big city, I never realized that one day I would become a cowgirl. ... This photo highlights the beautiful white eyelashes of a cow in Plant City.” The Plant City Observer, State Farm Insurance agent Tony Lee and The Tony Lee That’s what Contest. our town Corner Store have partnered toCLU, hostAgent the I Love Plant City Photo 1702 S Alexander Street madea $10 of. gift certifiWeekly winners will have their featured and is receive Plant City,photo FL 33563 cate to The Corner Store! Submit your photos, withState a caption, to Managing Bus: 813-752-7202 Farm® has a long Editor Michael Eng,; subject: I Love Plant City.


Thurs., May 9 Fri., May 10 Sat., May 11 Sun., May 12 Mon., May 13 Tues., May 14 Wed., May 15





May 2

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78 80 81

84 86 87 88 89 91 92 93 94 97 98

102 105 107 108 109

110 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119

birdie Plumbing pipe with a right angle “Sesame Street” regular Pipe through a roof to increase the draft Black-and-white cookies ___ fool (goof off, in slang) “You never ___ it so good!” Prefix for “net” or “state” Lack of diversity Direct (to) Entertainer’s advocate Grandfather clock’s three Doc “... ___ right with the world” Capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic How something big may be accepted? Variable stars Baby’s wear Magma, after surfacing Alfred Hitchcock in the background, e.g. “Do geese see God?” is one Abbr. after a list of names Navratilova rival Vertically, to a sailor Eye layer D.C. 100 Certain canonical hours British singer Lewis Six years, for 116-Across

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Seagirt bit of land 60 Watson and Crick’s focus 61 Shrek or Fiona, e.g. 63 “Mom and Dad, guess what?” speaker, perhaps 64 Excessive sternness 65 Chilly Willy’s house 66 “Brandenburg concertos” composer 67 Alternate spelling of 35-Across 68 Emulated Simon? 69 Furnish with firepower 72 Brain casings 73 Fairy tale beginning 74 Young parasites 75 Word with “South” or “Seven” 77 Computer memory measure 78 “___ go bragh!” 79 Kind of hook or turn 82 Brother’s daughter, to you 83 Carries out, as laws 84 Singles 85 Ceylon, today 89 Optically offensive 90 Imitated Marcel Marceau 91 Steelers and Ravens 92 Parcels out 94 Burros’ relatives 95 Maternally related 96 Couch in a boudoir 97 Watchful and ready 98 Bird-related 99 Beyond’s partner? 100 Microwave feature 101 At right angles to a ship’s length 103 Participate in a 401(k) 104 “Don’t leave home without it” card 105 It may get hot under the collar 106 Bread spread 110 Trusted chum 111 Same old grind


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Garage/Moving/Estate Sales PLANT CITY - MOVING SALE! Fri. and Sat. 8am-4pm. Walden Lake, 3203 Polo Place. Furniture, Clothing, Pool table, Exercise equipment, Synthetic Plants, Books, Housewares, Glassware, Knick Knacks! Too much to list! Don't miss it.

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This week’s Cryptogram answers 1. From my wife’s perspective, there are only two specific and correctable problems: everything I say and everything I do. 2. The big problem with my golf game, aside from my tendency to panic, is that I always stand too close to the ball after I hit it.





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Plant city observer Thursday, May 9, 2013 THURSDAY, may 9, 2013

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THURSDAY, may 9, 2013



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