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Plant City Times &









Turkey Creek students compete in 2014 Olympics.


+ P.C. resident spotted on TV Plant City fans of ABC’s hit sitcom “The Middle” may have spotted a familiar face during the show’s May 21 episode. Plant City resident Yvonne Fry made her primetime TV debut as an extra during the show’s Disney World one-hour season finale. Fry was spotted several times throughout the episode behind the main cast. Fittingly, Fry launched recently Plant City’s first talent agency, Fresh Picked Talent.


Plant City seniors Spring football celebrate end of offers glimpse high school careers. of 2014 squads.

business by Michael Eng | Editor

City approves tax exemptions for Toufayan Bakeries expansion The maker of pita bread, flatbreads and wraps plans to complete its $8.9M expansion by September 2015. The approval process took only a few minutes, but the potential ramifications of the Plant City Commission’s actions this week should have lasting impacts in the community. City commissioners approved May 27, an ordinance that grants Toufayan Bakeries ad valorem tax exemption as an

incentive for the company to build an $8.9 million expansion at its Plant City facilities. The company also has requested the city pay the law enforcement impact fees for the proposed expansion. “Sometimes, things go through very simply, and there is a lot of work that went behind

it — several years — to make something a reality,” said Vice Mayor Rick Lott. “I just want to compliment the staff and the commission on the ordinance and resolution with Toufayan Bakeries. “We were competing with

Michael Eng

Toufayan Bakeries expects the expansion will add 80 new SEE TOUFAYAN / PAGE 4 jobs in Plant City.


by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Criminals target P.C. gas stations in skimming operation

+ Rubio staff plans P.C. visit Staff members from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s office will be available to meet with Plant City residents from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, May 29, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St. Rubio’s staff offers a variety of constituent services, assisting people with a wide range of issues, including problems with Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Affairs and more.

Area residents have reported fraudulent charges after paying at the pump at Plant City gas stations. Maj. Kyle Richardson was the keynote speaker for this year’s Memorial Day Ceremony.


David PeQueen with Sherrie Mueller, college and career counselor, and Dr. Don Humphrey

+ P.C. student wins history award Plant City High School junior David PeQueen received the Sons of the American Revolution Award for excellence in American history. The winner is selected by the history department of Plant City High. Dr. Don Humphrey represented the Major John Devane Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution of Plant City and presented the award to PeQueen.

, 3&

This week’s winner is

Diane Peyton. See her photo on PAGE 15.

Plant City remembered its fallen heroes during the annual East Hillsborough County Memorial Day Ceremony May 26, at the American Legion Post #26.

The ceremony included a memorial prayer from Chaplain Daniel Middlebrooks. The Plant City High School ROTC Color Guard posted the colors, and Cub Scout

Larry Gmytruk was among the veterans who attended the ceremony

Pack 5 led the Pledge of Allegiance. The keynote speaker was Maj. Kyle Richardson, of the 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment. Post legion-

Post legionnaires conducted the roll call of the soldiers who have died since the last Memorial Day.

naires conducted the roll call of the soldiers who have died since the last Memorial Day. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a barbecue lunch.

Plant City residents beware: Criminals using a credit cardstealing tactic called “skimming” have targeted local gas stations in recent weeks. The Plant City Police Department has experienced an increase in complaints of fraudulent credit card charges. Anecdotally, more than a dozen residents have reported incidents of fraud through social media outlets such as Facebook. Leslie Varn used her debit card to buy gas at the Circle K on Park Road. About a week later, she noticed unauthorized transactions made at a RaceTrac, in Orlando. “I had to cancel my debit card, which means all of my auto bill pays had to be switched,” Varn said. “Also had to go to the bank and fill out fraudulent paperwork.” Resident Traci Forcucci also used her card at the outside pump at Circle K off Park Road.

Patrick Rodrigues, of Troop 5, was proud to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.


sticky fingers by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

P.C. Lions Club’s ‘Gavel Grabbers’ steal support for 3-year-old cancer patient The Lions have been uniting clubs throughout Central Florida through the art of the steal. In a breaking-news event, Lions Clubs throughout Central Florida are advised to keep an eye on their gavels. A vigilante group known as the “Gavel Grabbers” has been

striking various club meetings, stealing the presidents’ gavels. But, let it be known, it is for a good cause. The Gavel Grabbers belong to the Plant City Lions Club.

And, they’re not doing it for the riches or the fame. They’re doing it to help connect clubs and raise money for Gabriel Brannan-Buehl, a 3-year-old who has lost one eye to retino-

blastoma, an eye cancer that affects young children. He only has a 20% chance of getting retinoblastoma in the other eye,


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

Amber Jurgensen

Gabriel Brannan-Buehl played with cars during a Lions Club meeting.

Vol. 1, No. 43 | One section Crossword...................15



Weather ......................15



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COMMUNITYCALENDAR THURSDAY, MAY 29 Black-and-White Nite — takes place from 6:33 to 8:13 p.m. Thursdays, at Krazy Kup, 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. Vintage sitcoms and sci-fi from the 50s and 60s are played on a large drop-down screen. (813) 7521220. Born to Run — weekly run takes place at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. Casey Stidham — performance takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. History of Florida Transportation Presented by The Plant City Photo Archives & History Center — takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Hear historian Dr. Steve Noll tell the story of Florida’s transportation systems. (813) 757-9215 or (813) 7541578. Line Dancing Lessons — takes place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, at Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse Grill, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City. (813) 7374444. Ribbon Cutting: Oracle Home Health Care — takes place from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 29, at 1602 W. Timberlane Drive, Plant City. For more, visit Trivia Thursdays — begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. For more information, call (813) 764-8818.

FRIDAY, MAY 30 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) 7374444. Plant City Social Dance Club — takes place from 8 to 11:15 p.m. Fridays, at Stardust Dance Center, 1405 S. Collins St., Plant City. Cost is $5 for members and associate members; $7 for non-members.

For more information, contact 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. For more information, call (813) 7521220. Terry Cole — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, May 30, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. For more information, call (813) 764-8818. Uncork Your Weekend with Little Big Show — live music from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 30, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. Unity in the Community Golf Tournament — takes place Friday, May 30, at Bloomingdale Golfers Club, 4113 Great Golfers Drive, Valrico. Registration begins at 7 a.m.; tee time at 8 a.m. Cost is $125 per player; $450 per foursome. Henry Falcon, (813) 7549338.

SATURDAY, MAY 31 Rimfire — performance takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, May 31, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. (813) 764-8818. Uncork Your Weekend with Southern Legacy — live music from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100. Walk with a Doc — takes place at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 31, at Oracle Home Healthcare, 1602 W. Timberlane Drive. For more information, call (813) 747-7499. 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 16to 21-year-olds. For more information, call (813) 752-1220.

SUNDAY, JUNE 1 Carman — performance takes place at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 1, at Shiloh

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.

BEST BET Rods on the Range — takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse Grill, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City. Trophies for best rods and best in show. All makes and models are welcome. Live deejay from Music Etc., vendors and more. $15 entry fee for vehicles. (813) 737-4444.

Baptist Church, 905 W. Terrace Drive. Plant City. The performance is part of the No Plan B Tour. Tickets available online at or by calling 1-800-965-9324.

MONDAY, JUNE 2 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. Central Florida Speech and Hearing — Free phones will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, June 2, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Jennifer Carmack, (863) 686-3189 or Peace By Piece — meets from 5 to 8:45 p.m. Monday, June 2, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. For more information, call Arlene Bailey, (863) 644-3600.

TUESDAY, JUNE 3 Flute Circle — takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 3, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. For more information, contact Utah Farris, (863) 696-0442 or Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce 2014 Eggs n’ Issues Legislative Breakfast — takes place from 7 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 3, at the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall, 2301 W. Oak Ave. For more, visit OneBlood Blood Drive — takes place from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. All donors

will receive a free wellness screening, as well as a free Outback Steakhouse T-shirt and a $5 coupon. For more information, call (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. For more information, call Karen Elizabeth, (813) 435-8111. Ribbon Cutting: Wendy’s — takes place at noon Tuesday, June 3, at 4308 Sterling Commerce Drive, Plant City. For more information, visit

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4 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, jams, poultry, eggs, local crafts and more. For more information, call (813) 435-8111. Open Mike Night — begins at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. For more information, call (813) 764-8818.

Mystery Dinner Theater “A Dangerous Night on a Desert Isle” — takes place Friday, June 6 and Saturday, June 7, at HCC John R. Trinkle Center, 1206 N. Park Road. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner is served at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.Tickets are $45 per person and can be purchased at the following locations: Sunshine State Federal Savings & Loan, 112 E. Baker St.; Regions Bank, 2303 Thonotosassa Road; and Holiday Inn Express, 2102 N. Park Road. Plant City Summer Kick Off — takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 6, at Midtown, west of Collins Street and Alabama Street. Event will include a free movie, with popcorn and frozen drinks, hula hoops, tug-of-war, arts and crafts, and more. For more, visit

SATURDAY, JUNE 7 Bike Fest — takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at 102 N. Palmer St. For more information, visit


CPR and Basic Life Support Re-certification — takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at the South Florida Baptist Hospital Community Conference Room, 301 N. Alexander St., Plant City. This course provides CPR basic life support (BLS) recertification for health care workers. Your CPR card must be current (no expired cards). Registration and pre-payment required ($40); includes book and card. For more information, call (813) 644-6720.

AARP Driver Safety — takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 6, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. For more information, call (813) 757-9215.

O’Brien’s Plant City’s Second Crawfish Boil — takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant, 1701 S. Alexander St. For more information, call (813) 764-8818.

THURSDAY, JUNE 5 Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce Bowling Tournament — takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at Family Bowl, 2250 U.S. 92 E. Entry fee is $135 per foursome. For more, call (813) 754-3707 or email to


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day by day by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Plant City student graduates with perfect attendance Darius Way, first diagnosed with autism and later Asperger’s syndrome, never missed a day of school. Darius Way’s size-16 shoes thumped into the office. It’s easy to see he plays basketball. And football, baseball, soccer and karate. But, what the graduating high school senior is most proud of is his perfect attendance at school. “I never liked to miss school,” Way said. “I like it. I don’t want to get behind. I don’t want make-up work.” The Plant City resident graduated May 23, from Riverview Center Academy, with perfect attendance and honors. Not bad for someone who also has a learning disability. A disability so severe that doctors told his mother, Karen, to put him in a group home when he was diagnosed. Karen first noticed something was different about her son when he was just an infant. He wasn’t making the

right sounds when he was learning to speak. She took him to a speech therapist at 1. By 2, he was diagnosed with severe autism. “It was hard, because I didn’t know a lot about autism,” Karen said. “When the doctor told me, he didn’t give me anything to look forward to. He told me basically to give up.” The doctor told Karen that her son would never read. He would never write. He would never be able to function in a classroom setting. He would never play sports. But, Karen wasn’t going to take that as his destiny. She worked with Darius, pushing him to try new things. “At that point I was going to do everything I could do,” Karen said. “It was hard, but we look back and say

we did it. We didn’t give up on him.” He learned to play guitar and keyboard. He took vocal lessons. When Darius started picking up on all types of things, his diagnosis changed from autism to Asperger’s syndrome. He was only 7. Continuing to learn, Darius discovered sports. The hardest part became shuffling Darius around to his different extra-curriculars rather than his learning disability. “I introduced him to different things so he could have confidence in himself,” Karen said. “He can have a happy, full life even with disabilities. There’s nothing holding him back.” Karen also pushed Darius in school. He started at Wilson Elementary, but she later moved him to a school in Brandon that focused on students with learning disabilities. For high school, he went to Riverview. When he got B’s, she encour-

Darius Way will be graduating from high school with honors. aged him. But, she always motivated him to get A’s. With a 3.67 GPA, Darius has been accepted to Beacon College, in Leesburg, which focuses on students with learning disabilities. He wants to study human services and work in sports management, if he can afford the tuition. “It’s such a beautiful campus,” Karen said. “It was really impressive when we went to visit. The only drawback is the tuition.”

remember the titan by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Courtesy photo

Still, the mother-son team are celebrating their success in his graduation. “It feels good,” Darius said. “I can have all the freedom.” Every time Karen hears “Pomp and Circumstance,” she tears up. “He told me on graduation day that I could cry,” Karen said. “It’s unbelievable. Where we started to now — it’s just amazing.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at

FORE! by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Golfers set to tee off for Unity

Unity in the Community will host its annual golf fundraiser May 30, at Bloomingdale Golfers Club.

Anyone could climb the greasy flagpole for a shot at $100.

Angela Cibula, Jamie Carl, Damion DeBarr, Dee Low and Logan Johnson

DIRTY DEEDS If there’s a mud run in Plant City, David Miles and Smokin N the Boys Room are probably cooking out there.

Thrill-seekers from Plant City and beyond braved dizzying obstacles and pits of muck during the second Mud Titan May 24, in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. The obstacle-filled 5K re-

Surrounded by barbed wire, runners crawled carefully through a mud patch.

mained just as challenging as ever, boasting a burning “Hades Hop,” live electric wires, barbed wire, water pits and more to appease adventurous runners. Mud Titan II was open to runners ages 6 to 96 and also

featured a greasy flagpole that people could try to climb and win $100. Food was provided by the Smokin N the Boys Room barbecue crew. Money raised at the event will benefit The Youth Alliance.

Melinda Scearse, Tracy Bisarra, Ashley Sclavakis, Teresa Mayham-Etheridge and friends were happy to receive medals.

The golf tournament in Bloomingdale isn’t Unity in the Community’s biggest fundraiser. That honor goes to its car raffle at the Florida Strawberry Festival. But, that doesn’t make its annual golf outing any less enjoyable for those involved — even when working behind the scenes. “It’s just a good cause, being able to help those in need — that’s where my enjoyment comes from,” Henry Falcon said. “It’s amazing how everyone on the board puts their heart and soul into this thing.” Falcon, who has worked on the tournament for the last nine years, can’t wait for 8 a.m. Friday — this year’s tee time. There will be plenty of food, drinks and fun to be had, but it’s the fundraising potential that has Falcon and his co-workers excited. Last year, the tournament raised $20,000 alone — not a dime of which left Plant City. This year, the crew wants to top that mark by raising $30,000. Outside donations always help this number, but selling tickets is also crucial. And, there’s plenty of reason to do so. Unity in the Community will provide free drinks all day long, grill sausages and other food for lunch, and offer a number of prizes that golfers can win. According to Falcon, the top prize will be a set of four putters and golf balls. Second will be golf bags, and third will be $50 gift cards. As usual, Stingray Chevrolet is partnering with the Plant City-based charity to offer some prizes of its own. The dealership is offering two vehicles for any-

IF YOU GO WHEN: 8 a.m. Friday, May 30 WHERE: Bloomingdale Golfers Club, 4113 Great Golfers Drive, Valrico COST: $125 per player; $450 per foursome. REGISTRATION: Prospective players will have to hurry, because there are a limited number of spots left. To book a spot, call Henry Falcon at (813) 754-9338. DONATIONS: Joyce Hook, (813) 752-1275 one who can hit a hole-in-one — one for the front nine holes, one for the back nine. All proceeds raised from the tournament will go directly to Unity in the Community, which will then go to other Plant City-area organizations. That includes giving money to the United Food Bank of Plant City and Meals on Wheels, among other organizations. In total, the charity raised $135,000 last year to give to the Plant City community. “I’ve been putting this tournament together for nine years now,” Falcon says. “They’ve all been great. We’ve been selling out for the last eight years.” Unity in the Community is on the verge of making it nine consecutive sellouts, but they need a little help. According to Falcon, there are a limited number of spots left for golfers to snatch up: Only seven are still available, as of press time. Contact Justin Kline at

now open by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Depot Antiques chugs into Historic Downtown Plant City As soon as Stephanie Leighton closed Sweetheart Granny’s door for the last time, Depot Antiques went right in and set up shop. If it seems like there was no time between Stephanie Leighton’s Sweetheart Granny Antiques store closing April 30, and Depot Antiques opening May 1, it’s because there wasn’t any. “We were moving in as she was moving out,” co-owner Sylvia Alchediak says. “That was her choice.” Although Leighton will stay involved as a vendor, the storefront now belongs to the Depot Antiques crew: a threeperson ownership group consisting of Alchediak, Gilbert Shoff and Ken Manalang. “We have great inventory, great vendors, and we get along very well,” Manalang says. “We’re great friends. We’re optimistic that this will

be a great opportunity.” All three of the store’s owners do have some background in antiques — they all have been vendors at various stores. Alchediak and Manalang are based in Plant City and have 10 combined years of vending experience; Shoff, who lives in Mulberry, has about nine years of experience. This is the first time the three have worked together while owning a store, though, and even that leads to a fun fact: The idea for the store was born on a whim last month, after Alchediak made a joke. “As soon as we heard (Leighton) was leaving,” she says. “I just made an off-the-wall comment before then and, as soon as we heard Stepha-

nie was leaving, (Shoff) asked me if I was serious. And I said, ‘Yeah!’” That led to the creation of Depot Antiques, but the idea needed some refining: Alchediak and Shoff wanted to bring a third owner into the fold and, after some time searching, they found Manalang. According to the three owners, the transition has been easy for the customers. “A lot of people came in because we had an A-frame outside that said, ‘New Store,’” Manalang says. “That’s been upgraded to have the name of the store. I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback, like, ‘It’s so nice in here.’ (Customers) like it because it’s not overcluttered in here.”

Justin Kline

Owners Gilbert Shoff, Sylvia Alchediak and Ken Manalang are excited to become part of Plant City’s antique scene. Some of Leighton’s customers have remained faithful to the store, even after it changed hands. And, anyone who had stopped by Sweetheart Granny’s right before it closed likely will remember some of

the goods currently sitting just inside of the Depot Antiques building. “They recognize a lot of the merchandise as soon as they come in,” Shoff says. It also helps that Leighton

and two of her vendors decided to work with Depot Antiques. “We didn’t want to close in-between the transition, because we wanted the vendors to still be able to sell their merchandise,” Alchediak says. “It’s been an easy transition.” Although the local market is fairly saturated with antiques stores, the Depot Antiques crew isn’t in it just to try and dominate the area — they’re mostly in it because they love the job. “I did this before I moved to Florida, and it was fun,” Shoff says. “I came here and thought it was going to be just as much fun, and Florida is a whole different world. I’m going to do this as long as I still have fun doing it.” Contact Justin Kline at jkline@plantcityobser ver. com.


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TOUFAYAN / PAGE 1 six other cities, and they wanted to be here,” he said. “We had a can-do attitude, and tonight, we did what was right. It is bringing more good jobs to our community. … We really put a good foot forward, and they saw the desire in our community for them to build an additional plant here.” Toufayan’s expansion plans include adding a 149,000-square-foot building to its Plant City facility, 2615 E. U.S. 92. Eventually, the new building will house nearly $20 million in equipment, including assembly lines for bagels, tortillas, flatbreads and cookies. The company expects to add 80 new jobs to its Plant City operation; currently, it employs 225. Construction should begin in June. Under the ad valorem tax exemption, Toufayan will qualify for Tier I benefits, which means its facility will be assessed at 50% of the added assessed value for five years. To qualify for these benefits, Toufayan is required to maintain at least 10 full-time-equivalent employees and a capital investment in the expansion exceeding $200,000 per each of the 10 qualifying employees. Interim City Manager David Sollenberger reported to the commission that, even with the exemption, the fiscal impact will be positive. “Although the Property Appraiser’s office states that the ‘estimated revenue loss’ to the city for the first fiscal year in which the exemption is anticipated is $41,969.73, this loss assumes the increased valuation after completion of the construction,” he wrote in his summary. “There will actually be a net benefit to the city, (because) the city would receive property-tax revenue for 50% of the added improvement to the real property during that five-year period. After the period expires, the city would receive 100% of the property taxes, based on the increased valuation.” The anticipated law enforcement impact fees, which will be paid from the city’s

SKIMMING / PAGE 1 A fraudulent purchased appeared May 8, made at a RaceTrac on Waters Avenue, in Tampa. She didn’t drive to Tampa that day. “I can’t be 100% that (the Circke K is) where they got it, but the only other place I use my card is Publix,” she said. Criminals are stealing the credit card information by installing a scanner on payat-the-pump gas stations or ATMs. In a matter of minutes, they can install the scanner with a popsicle stick and super glue. The scanners attach to the front or above the regular scanners, so when inserted, the card also slides against the fake scanner. Some also use small cameras to record debit card pins. Others place a fake keypad over the real one. The scanners can hold about 1,000 numbers, victimizing any patron who swipes his or her card.



THIS WEEK’S CRYPTOGRAM ANSWERS 1. The mattress salesmen were eager to improve but unsure about what might help. “There’s a very good solution,” the boss said. “You should all enroll for spring training.” 2. Many investors, worried by the dip in the economy, big losses and volatility in the stock market, are now carrying sell phones.

Michael Eng

Plant City High School valedictorian Dhara Patel received the proclamation from Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis. Her mother, Bhavana, and brother, Parthik, celebrated with her.

IN OTHER NEWS • Plant City High School valedictorian Dhara Patel received a proclamation from Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis. Patel will graduate with a 10.03 GPA — the highest in Hillsborough County history. She already has earned her associate’s degree from Hillsborough Community College. Following high school, she will continue her studies at the University of Florida and major in microbiology and minor in chemistry. She wants to become an orthodontist. • The city set a public hearing date of June 9 for the rezoning of 4207 W. general revenue fund, are $30,612.05. Commissioner Bill Dodson said he is pleased with the partnership between the city and Toufayan.

Plant City Police Capt. Jerry Stwan said the department currently is scouring locations for scanners. However, criminals often return to retrieve the scanners long before any fraudulent purchases are made. “They can hold onto the card information for days, weeks, sometimes months,” Stwan said. Stwan said that when they do recover a scanner at a gas station, it is usually installed at the pump farthest away from the store. “These guys are pretty slick,” Stwan said. “This is an ongoing problem — not just Plant City-wide but statewide and throughout the country. It’s a bad thing.” Stwan advises using pumps that are closer to the building. The best way to prevent fraud is to forgo payment at the pump entirely and pay inside. “I understand it’s easier to pay at the pump,” Stwan said. “Sometimes, I even get lazy or

U.S. 92 from Hillsborough RCS-4 to Plant City R-1A. The R-1A designation allows for single-family homes, parks, religious institutions and schools. • The city spent $23,359.50 to purchase replacement electronic communication components for the Water Reclamation Facility’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System. Interim City Manager David Sollenberger called it “a classic example of designed obsolescence.” • Don Porter, of the International Softball Federation, presented the ISF’s plans to build its Hall of Fame and Museum.

“This shows that they have faith in us, and we have faith in them,” he said. Contact Michael Eng at

PROTECT YOURSELF The estimated annual number of unauthorized transactions, third-party fraud, in 2012 was 31.3 million, with a value of $6.1 billion, according to a Federal Reserved payment study. Skimming is just one way hackers have devised to get your financial information. Here’s how to protect yourself. • Look at the scanning device at the pump. If it doesn’t seem to match the pump’s color and style, it might be a skimmer. • Skimmers are attached to the front or tops of scanning devices. Try and wiggle the device to make sure it is firmly secure and actually part of the real scanner. • Criminals usually attached skimmers to pumps that are farthest away from the store. Try to use pumps closest to the store or check to make sure it matches other pumps at the station. • Pay inside the store for gas. • Check your bank statements regularly to catch fraudulent charges early. Report suspicious activity to your bank and local police department. am in a hurry.” Shaylae Witzel was in a hurry when she used her debit card at a BP station on Thonotosassa Road. “I use that station all the time, and I rarely use my debit card at the pump but I didn’t have cash and was in a hurry that day,” she said. She got a call from her bank, stopping a $289 transaction at a Fort Myers Chili’s from going through.

“It is still a major inconvenience especially over the holiday weekend,” Witzel said. “This is the second time I have had to shut a card down. I was also caught up in the Target scandal.” Americans swiped their cards 73.2 billion times in 2012, according to a Federal Reserve payment study. Contact Amber Jurgensen at


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LIONS / PAGE 1 and, as he ages, the chances decrease. “The fun of visiting clubs and taking things is just this: It is a way to meet other club members, learn ideas on how each of us serves our community, share responsibilities if each needs help, and to do exactly what we are doing to help Gabriel,” Plant City Lions Club President Verna McKelvin said. “Because, if it is too costly for one club to handle, then we all need to jump in and help save this child’s sight in his eye.” The tradition of stealing gavels always has existed within the Lions organization. But, it has fallen out of fashion in recent times. Plant City’s Lions decided to bring it back a couple of years ago. When a gavel is taken, the victimized club must pay a visit to the thieving club and pay a $1 fee. The Gavel Grabbers even have a ransom note drafted by tail twister David Vick and signed by McKelvin. “Our goal at that time was to bridge the gap of Lions Clubs to share ideas and work together,” McKelvin said. Since then, the club has used the kindhearted prank to raise money for Gabriel’s medical expenses after hearing about Gabriel from the Dixieland Lions Club in Lakeland. The club members were on another mission to get the gavel and were sidetracked when a Dixieland member read a plea for financial help from Gabriel’s mother, Jen Brannan. It touched the heart of member Frank Cummings, who has worked in the assisted living business. “I saw a lot of people fall through the cracks,” Cummings said. “They were falling through the cracks.”


To donate to Gabriel’s medical bills, contact Verna McKelvin at Verna.



Jen Brannan didn’t notice any symptoms of retinoblastoma in her son, Gabriel Brannan-Buehl. In September, he was diagnosed with the rare eye cancer found in children. “I want people to know the warning signs,” Brannan said. • “Cat’s eye” — A white-yellow mass or glow seen through the pupil — often first noticed in a photo of a child’s face when the flash is used without red-eye reduction. Normally, the center of the eye appears red in response to the camera flash, but in retinoblastoma, the center of the eye may have a white glow. • Complaints of poor vision • One or both eyes turning inward or outward • Pain from increased pressure in the eye as the tumor grows At the next heist, about 10 members visited the Lakeland Lions Club with the intention of asking them to partner with them for Gabriel. They also still had their eye on the gavel. Member Frances Hardee was tasked with the mission. She had been wildly successful at taking other gavels. No one had suspected the senior owner of Hardee’s Fashions to be the main conspirator. She became so good that the club even nicknamed her “Sticky Fingers.” But, word of her antics had spread across social media between clubs. “As their meeting progressed, we all sat against the wall and discussed quietly that there was no gavel to be seen,” McKelvin said. Although there was no gavel, the president of the Lakeland Lions Club and its board listened to the story about Gabriel and awarded a $500 check to the cause. “We came out of that meeting, and I was very happy that they gave us a $500 check but saddened a little that there was no gavel to take,” McKelvin said. As the members gathered in the parking lot, Lion Bob Fulks asked McKelvin for the ransom letter. She didn’t know why he was asking since their was no gavel to take. But, Sticky Fingers had come through. McKelvin asked her what she took. She looked up at McKelvin with innocent eyes.

Reaching into her Lions vest, she gently pulled out the Lakeland club’s guestbook, which has signatures dating back to 2001. “We scrambled and got everyone in vehicles and started posting pictures on Facebook,” McKelvin said. The Lakeland Lions Club hasn’t claimed their guestbook yet, but the new District Governor Judy Galm collected her gavel at the Plant City Lions Club May 27 meeting. Previously, two high school Leos Club members, trained by Vick, commandeered the gavel at the Lions Club Organizational meeting at the Wesley Center. “Our club, at that moment, was praised and they said that we are making a positive impression on Lions Clubs everywhere,” McKelvin said. “While we are having fun, we are bridging clubs together. I was told that no one has ever hosted an organizational meeting and stole the governor’s gavel.” At the May 27 meeting, McKelvin also updated Gabriel and Jen on their fundraising progress. So far, they have collected $500 and will match whatever is collecting, making a total of $1,000 towards Gabriel’s bills so far. “We’re just grateful that people have helped us,” Jen said. “And he’s doing well. He says he has one God eye and one doctor eye.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at


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family first by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Wishing Well Barn hosts Safe Families anniversary Safe Families for Children helps find secure temporary living arrangements for children whose families are going through crises. Children roamed the pristine grounds of Wishing Well Barn off Pippin Road in Plant City, during a party for Safe Families for Children. They pushed a carriage, explored the blueberry patch and enjoyed a showing of the popular Disney film “Frozen” under the crystal lights of the barn. It’s a rare time when these children can relax and just be kids. That’s because, as part of Safe Families for Children, they are staying with temporary caregivers, while their parents overcome life changing obstacles. Many of the parents are single mothers. Some encounter homelessness after being in a domestic abuse situation, others are facing jail time with no family to turn to for support. That’s where Safe Families for Children steps into help. Parents can volunteer to seek help from the Christian organization rather than be forced to put their child in foster care. Safe Families for Children helps match the children with host families who volunteer to take a child in. Almost 100% of the time, the children return to their original families. “Nowadays, (the support) is not always there,” said implementer Debbie Schreffler. “We’re keeping their lives as normal as possible.” Safe Families for Children has been operating for about 12 years. But, this is the first year it has targeted the Tampa

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Bay area. There are about 25 volunteer families. “Part of the growth for Florida involved bringing it to Tampa,” said area coordinator Kevin Trotter. To celebrate its first year, organizers wanted to host a party for the surrogate families and children. They chose a Frozen-themed event, complete with ice cream and face painting. All they needed was a venue. Schreffler had the perfect one in mind. She is neighbors with the Welches, who own Wishing Well Barn, a rural setting that has been a popular wedding spot. “I believe life should be simple, in getting back to basics and being outside,” Schreffler said. “These kids don’t have a lot of time for fun. We want them to see there is time for fun with family.” She asked Michelle Welch if they could use the barn for the night. Welch donated the space. “We’re always looking for ways to give back,” Welch said. “Children are near and dear to my heart. We have a large family.” Welch has a blended family of five children. Over the years, they’ve taken in two teenage foster children and hosted two exchange students from Spain and China on three separate occasions. “We are always trying to open our home,” she said. Contact Amber Jurgensen at

HOW TO HELP During its first year in Tampa, Safe Families for Children had about 25 families willing to open their homes to children needing a temporary place to stay. But, it always can use more. For information on how to be a host family or how to help, visit Attendees enjoyed a cookout, ice cream and face painting.

Michelle Welch is the owner of Wishing Well Barn.


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


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

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

Teri and Dan Claassen

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

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


THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2014

CLUB HUBBUB If your club would like to post announcements, email them to Associate Editor Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@

Courtesy photo

James Cross, Susan Pruet, Robert McLellan, David Kinghorn and Michael Williamson

A photo booth with props was part of the fun at the Honor Grad Banquet.

Jordan Genevie took his position in the bed of a pickup parked in the lot during Senior Splash Day.

+ Plant City Optimist Club The Plant City Optimist Club held its annual Respect for Law Dinner May 19, at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center. The event was held to honor the Officer of the Year, Det. Robert McLellan. McLellan has been with the Plant City Police Department for 11 years and serves in the Criminal Investigations Unit. He was a key member of the investigation into a violent “takeover” robbery of a local grocery store last August. During the investigation, he was able to link the robbery to a string of other robberies in the Orlando area. He obtained confessions from two individuals who participated in the Plant City robbery. Sgt. James Cross and Capt. Susan Pruet also were in attendance.

+ Greater P.C. Chamber of Commerce The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce will host its annual bowling tournament from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at Family Bowl, 2250 U.S. 92 E. For more information, email Amy at amy@plantcity. org or call the chamber at (813) 754-3707.

ONE LAST SPLASH The slip-n-slide was a hit at this year’s Senior Splash Day. In the final weeks of their high school careers, seniors at Plant City High made memories at several events. First, the Class of 2014’s honor students were celebrated for their accomplishments at the annual Honor Grad Banquet May 17, at the HCC Plant City John R. Trinkle Center.

+ Plant City Garden Club It was a festive evening for the Plant City Garden Club May 9, when the club held a potluck dinner and fellowship. The highlight of the evening was the installation of the officers for 2014-2015 by Awards Chair Mikie Snyder. The officers are: Christy Linke, corresponding secretary; Marci Wilcox, recording secretary; Cassandra Banning, treasurer; Bess Treadwell, second vice president; Cindy Card, first vice president; and Jan Griffin, president.

+ P.C. Daybreak Rotary Club Dan Orrico and Sharon Philbin performed a piano duet at the Rotary District Conference in Downtown Disney from May 15 to 18. The duo was part of the talent show.

The seniors also cooled off during their Senior Splash Day May 22, outside of the school. During that event, the students enjoyed slip-slidin’ away on water slides, targeting one another with water guns and balloons and enjoying some time in the beautiful sunshine.

Some of the students planned their attacks carefully during Senior Splash Day.

SENIOR CELEBRATIONS by Michael Eng and Amber Jurgensen

Holly Turcich, Molly Copeland and Karaline Hayes

+ PCHS Athletic Booster Club The Plant City High School Athletic Booster Club recently was awarded $1,000 by the Vanguard Attorney firm of Tampa. Landon Galloway was presented with the Vanguard Award based on his participation in athletics, community service and scholastic achievement.

Joshua Miller, Landon Galloway, Austin Lefebvre and Alex Foaltin

Alyssa Medina, right, took to the huge slip-n-slide with her friends.


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it’s a small world after all by Michael Eng | Editor

The first-graders performed to a packed multipurpose room.

Knights Elementary School shines at multicultural gala Knights Elementary School students took the stage May 22, for the school’s first Multicultural Arts Gala. Students in all grades presented art projects and music performances. Guests also enjoyed creating art projects and refreshments.

The students learned about a variety of different cultures to prepare for the gala. The students were eager to show off everything they had learned.

Student Ashleigh Shipley volunteered to assist Third-grader Porter Larsen worked hard on magician Christopher Tracy during his performance. his art project.


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WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Kirstin Bassinger competed in the track-andfield events.

Jonathan Delgado showed speed.

Turkey Creek carries fitness torch with annual Olympics Turkey Creek Middle School students enjoyed a day full of competitive fun May 21, during the school’s annual Olympic Day. After an inspiring opening ceremony, students competed for gold, silver, and bronze medals in track-and-field events, basketball, archery and bocce ball. Teachers also tested their mettle during their own pentathlon. More than 30 MacDill Air Force personnel assisted with the event.

Jordan Clark caught impressive air in the long jump.

Cheyenne Renner took aim at the gold medal during the archery competition.

faithful fellowship by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Bethany Baptist ladies sweeten springtime with annual luncheon The ladies of Bethany Baptist Church in Cork enjoyed an annual springtime luncheon May 17. The luncheon featured chocolate fountains and raffle prizes. Chocolate fountains ensured everyone left satisfied. Rita Rogers and Pat Day

Family and friends enjoyed spending the afternoon together at the luncheon.

There were plenty of raffle prizes. Right: The boys youth group served as waiters.


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Helen Buchan Carlton, 90, of Plant City, died May 26, 2014 at Garden Court Hawthorne Village of Brandon. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ida and Robert G. Buchan; husband of 52 years, Harry S. Carlton; sisters, Leola Alford, Nita Miller, Julia Simmons, Roberta Huskey, Ruth Buchan and Marjorie Cooper; and brother, Homer Buchan. Mrs. Carlton’s parents moved to Coronet, a phosphate mining community east of Plant City, as she began her sophomore year in high school. Upon graduation from historic Plant City High School, she went to work, utilizing her secretarial and bookkeeping skills locally, as well as in New York for the A and P Tea Co. She spent many years as a secretary and bookkeeper for Miles Motor Co. and M.C. Spreader Service, a business partnership between J.A. Miles Jr., her husband, Harry S. Carlton, and Carlton Brothers Inc., a small agricultural concern. Her husband’s work ethic for his agricultural interests and passion for community service required long hours away from home. As a result, Mrs. Carlton became excellent at multitasking as a full-time bookkeeper/secretary, homeroom/ PTA mom, chef, laundress, housekeeper, chauffeur, lawnkeeper, activist in adult/youth church events, etc. She was a devoted wife and mother. The Carltons were members of the First United Methodist Church of Plant City, where they were married at high noon Jan. 2, 1944. While he was overseas during World War II, she lived with his parents, taught his youngest sister how to drive and worked full-time. Mrs. Carlton is survived by her son, Robert Carlton, of Plant City; daughter, Pam Anders (Lynn), of Clermont; grandchildren, David Anders (Ronni), of Rockledge; and Katie Helen Anders, of Plant City;

great-grandchildren, Reagan, Grace and Gatlin Anders; sister, Winifred Higbe, of Jacksonville; brother, Robert Buchan, of Punta Gorda and many nieces and nephews. Heartfelt gratitude to her guardian angels, Ruby Davis (Paradise), Barbara Dexter (Plant City), Mellie Mabry (Dover) and Kathaleen Renfro (Thonotosassa); Dr. Anita Patel, staff and administration at Garden Court (Hawthorne Village of Brandon); and LifePath Hospice. The family will receive friends at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 31, followed by a Celebration of Life service at 11 a.m., at Wells Memorial and Event Center, 1903 W. Reynolds St., Plant City. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those who wish may contribute to Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, Health Partners Center for Memory and Aging and/or LifePath Hospice. Online Condolences may be made to the family at

Marcele Sanchez Curry

Marcele Sanchez Curry, 103, of Lake City and formerly of Plant City, died May 18, 2014. Born Jan. 23, 1911, in Plant City, she was the daughter of the late Norman and Nona Mott Sanchez. She was the wife of the late Rev. LeRoy Curry. She was predeceased by a son, Larry LeRoy Curry; and daughter, Bonita Rouse. She is survived by four grandchildren, eight greatgrandchildren; 11 great-greatgrandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. A funeral service took place May 21, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Laddy Victor Harrell

Laddy Victor Harrell, 62, of Plant City, died May 19, 2014, at Lakeland Hospice House. Born July 19, 1951, in Vienna, Ga., he was the son of the late Leon and Aileen Hobbs Harrell. He was the husband of Sylvia English Harrell, who survives. Survivors also include sons, Randall Galloway (Shelia), Edward Galloway (Kris), Gregory Harrell and Timothy Harrell; daughter, Alicia Cole (Paul); brothers, Johnny Harrell (Marvella) and L.J. Harrell (Helen); sisters, Wynnelle Bolton and Patricia Harrell; grandchildren, Caleb and Dillon Galloway; Jeremy, Jordyn and Marcus Mayo; Randall, Christopher and Chloe; Chelsea Cannon and Alyssa Galloway; and greatgrandchildren, Tayler Smith and Kaylee Wilson. He was predeceased by a brother, Winifred Harrell. A funeral service took place May 22, Haught Funeral Home Chapel, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Heather Lynn Hinson

Heather Lynn Hinson, 22, of Durant, died May 24, 2014. She loved her family, and enjoyed taking care of her nephew, Cole. She is survived by her parents, Kevin and Pam Hinson; sister, Danielle Lee Ettore and brother-in-law, Larry Ettore; grandmothers, Jean Babin and Doris Dry; nephew Cole Tucker Ettore; best friend, Savanna Sortore; and many loving aunts, uncles, family and friends. A Celebration of Life will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at Hopewell Funeral Home, 6005 C.R. 39 S., Plant City. Family will receive friends beginning at 6 p.m. Online condolences may be made to the family at wecare. io.

Jose Guadalupe Lugo

Jose Guadalupe Lugo, 44 of Plant City, died May 24, 2014, at Sun City Center Hospice House, in Ruskin. Born Jan. 20, 1970, in Brownsville, Texas, he was the son of the late Moses and Albina Ortega Lugo. He was the husband of Marie Garrett Lugo, who survives. Jose worked for more than 20 years for South Florida Fence, loved gardening and Florida State Seminoles football. Survivors also include a daughter, Zayda Lugo; brothers, Bladmar, Rigoberto, Ismael and Felipe Lugo, and Jorge Ortega; sisters, Dolores Renderos, Alma Mansilla, Obdulia Lugo, Hortencia Ortega; and many nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 29, 2014, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, 708 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Maria Eva Perez-Zapata

Maria Eva Perez-Zapata, 73, of Dover, died May 24, 2014. She was born in Mexico, and was a member of St. Clement Catholic Church, in Plant City. She is survived by her son, Jorge A. Perez and daughter-inlaw, Sandra, of Dover; grandchildren, Jorge A. Perez Jr., Esteban Perez and Eric Perez; and brother-in-law, Rafael Lozano. She was preceded in death by her sister, Olga Lozano. A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 29, at Hopewell Funeral Home, 6005 C.R. 39 S., Plant City. The family will receive friends beginning at 10 a.m. Interment to follow at Hopewell Memorial Gardens, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at wecare. io.

Horace Phillips

Horace Phillips, 75, of Bartow and formerly of Plant City, died May 18, 2014. He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a member of Plant City Church of God and Bartow First Assembly of God. He loved his family and enjoyed fishing, cards, bingo and coffee. He is survived by his daughters, Cynthia Everidge (Marc), of Lakeland, Kimberly Gaddis (Tony), of Bartow, and Charissa Welch (Harley), of Bartow; their mother, Nancy Wilson Gardner; 10 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life took place May 22, at Hopewell Funeral Home, Plant City. Interment followed at Hopewell Memorial Gardens, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at wecare. io.

Helen Crowley Rayburn

Helen Crowley Rayburn, 92, of Plant City, died May 26, 2014. Mrs. Rayburn was born Oct. 17, 1921, in Hahira, Ga., and moved in 1927 to the Plant City area. Mrs. Rayburn was a Christian and member of Plant City’s First Baptist Church. She owned and operated Wheeler Street Childcare for more than 25 years. In 1979, she was chosen “Boss of the Year” by the Plant City Professional Women’s Club. She lived her last sixand-one-half years at Community Care Center, where she received excellent care and loving attention. She is survived by one daughter, Shirley Elston (Dick); sons, Fred Rayburn and Roy Rayburn, of Plant City, and Les Rayburn (Trudy) of Dade City; nine grandchildren; 11 greatgrandchildren; one great-great grandchild; and many nieces, nephews and friends. Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. May 31, at Memorial Park Cemetery. Flowers will be accepted or memorials to a charity of choice. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Margie “MiMi” Stack

Margie “MiMi” Stack, 79, of Lithia, died May 19, 2014. She was a member of Nativity and Saint Stephen Catholic churches and the past secretary of the Florida Brahman and the Hillsborough County Cattlemen’s Associations. Above all, she was a loving mother and grandmother and a faithful wife. Although she suffered a long illness, her faith in God remained strong. She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Gerry Stack II; children, Bobby Evans (Toni), of Lithia, Mike Evans, of Palm Bay, Gerry Stack III, of Lithia, Kelly Johnston (Brien), of Lithia, and Jeanne Brown (Robert), of Lithia; siblings, Barbara Prine and Bud Adorjan; grandchildren, Cody, Samantha, Jake, Ashle, Erin, Brien, Pria, Jaden and Coby; two greatgrandchildren; and many other family and friends. A Celebration of Life took place May 23, at Hopewell Funeral Home. Interment followed at Pelote Cemetery, Lithia. Online condolences may be made to the family at wecare. io.

Sandra Harwell Sylvia

Sandra Harwell Sylvia, 66, of Tampa and Plant City, died May 16, 2014, at her home. Born July 22, 1947, in Tampa, she was the daughter of the late John and Lillie Ray Harwell. Survivors include a son, Robert Sylvia; daughters, Ramona (Gary) Painter and Tina (Paul) Foley; sister, Linda Ausbourne; grandchildren, Samantha, Bobby, Cheyanne, Sonny, Brian, Rose and Alex; and greatgrandchild, Aria. Sandra was a member of Wellswood Baptist Church. She loved gardening, crocheting, cooking and traveling. A funeral service took place May 24, at Wellswood Baptist Church, Tampa; interment at Bethlehem Cemetery, Plant City. Online condolences may be made to the family at



ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Rhet Conyers blasts walk-off homer to clinch city championship. 12 SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM


SIDELINES Do you have a good sports scoop for us? Contact Justin Kline at


+ Thrilling finish in PCLL championship Conyers Plumbing and Poppell Insurance faced off in the Plant City Little League City Championship game May 23, and they gave the fans an instant classic. There was only one lead change, but it couldn’t have come at a better time for Conyers Plumbing: A walkoff, two-run homer gave the team the 10-9 victory. Poppell Insurance got the ball rolling with a three-run first inning, and Conyers followed up with two runs of its own. After each team went scoreless in the second inning, they managed to put at least one run on the board in every remaining frame. Conyers scored four runs in the bottom fifth to tie the game at 8-8, and Poppell used an RBI single to go ahead in the top sixth. In the bottom sixth, following a leadoff single, Rhet Conyers homered, and the Conyers bench went wild.

THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2014

update by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Tyler Danish adjusting to life as a pro Durant alumni and Chicago White Sox second-round draft pick Tyler Danish is making his way up the ladder in the pros and even was given a recent promotion. Count Tyler Danish as one of those people who loves their job more than just about anything. Even if it’s been one of the biggest adjustments of his young life. Danish, 19, was just promoted to a higher level of competition for the second time since the Chicago White Sox drafted him 55th overall last June. “I’m enjoying every experience I’m going through,” he says. “It’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do with my life.” Coming straight out of high school, Danish was used to a much smaller season schedule, fewer travel burdens and

a daily routine with homework and other studies peppered in. These days, it’s all baseball, all the time.


It’s a Thursday afternoon, around 4 p.m. — the only time slot that Danish really has available to speak to the press, at least for 20 minutes. After that, he’ll have to go play catch and get loose — even though he’s not starting that night. That’s what he says has been one of the biggest adjustments: getting used to the frequency of the pro games. Because these guys are constantly on the road, traveling from city to

city by bus and hotel-hopping on a regular basis, they have to keep on a tight schedule to make sure that everything flows as smoothly as they need it to. “We’re on a seven-day road trip right now,” Danish says. “After tonight’s game, we jump on the bus and head two hours north. It’s like this every day. We get in at 7:30 a.m., and we’ll have to play that night. It’s a lifestyle that you’ll want to have to do because, if not, you’re not going to enjoy being on a bus for 10 hours.” And, there’s the repetition of



football by Justin Kline | Staff Writer



Quarterback Cory King scrambled for yardage.


+ Plant City Vipers complete season Although the Plant City Vipers didn’t leave its final tournament with a championship, it left with a sense of accomplishment. The 11th-grade team played in the Summer Slam tournament May 24, in Auburndale, first taking on a familiar foe: the Orlando Mets. The Mets had previously beaten Plant City twice, by a total of 23 points; the Vipers finally won on Saturday, 59-46, to open the tournament. “Our boys have worked hard, they’ve improved, and they beat that same team this time,” team President Reggie Rivers says. “I’m very proud of them.” After some re-shuffling in the board of directors, the team already is looking to expand as soon as it can. It is exploring the possibility of adding a ninth- and 10th-grade team and an 11th- and 12th-grade team. The Vipers also will keep coaches Jerrod Williams and Byron Woods around. “With this first year, we’re a very young team, and we’ve had growing pains,” board member Lili Armatrout says. “But, we’re going stronger. With heart and soul and practice and dedication, we will grow better, and we will become champions.” Although the board is still planning tryouts, one thing is set in stone: A celebration of the Vipers’ first season will be held June 14, at Lakeland’s Off the Wall Paintball. Players will enjoy fun, games, barbecue and more.

Crest wideout Clay Cullins played quarterback, while DB Josh Engram got to pound the rock. Plant City-area football fans were in for a treat May 22, when Durant High School hosted its four-team Spring Jamboree. The games were wellattended — fans of all four teams poured in to pack the house. There also were several college scouts prowling the sideline — hailing from Florida, Duke, Iowa State, Bowling Green State and Southeastern — and several members of national media outlets such as Through the first two quar-

ters, the Plant City Raiders squared off against the mighty Armwood Hawks. Armwood went ahead, 7-0, on an 18yard touchdown pass with 5:23 remaining in the first quarter and scored again on a fumble recovery late in the second quarter. Sawyer Dawson gave Plant City a chance to score with a 40-yard interception return, but the eight remaining seconds weren’t enough. The Raiders lost, 14-0. Tight end Joe Williamson will be an important part of

SEE FOOTBALL / PAGE 12 Durant’s offensive attack.

Plant City running back Markese Hargrove showed elusiveness. Right: Crest and Durant fought hard on every play.

Photo by Zack Capes/W-S Dash

Tyler Danish throws a pitch in his first start with the WinstonSalem Dash.

A few thoughts following spring ball My favorite thing to hear when the Plant City Times & Observer staff has its weekly meeting is, “Justin, go cover football.” It’s not quite June yet, and I had been itching to get back onto the football sidelines with my camera and iPhone in hand for quite some time. Really, because Plant City’s playoff exit at Sickles meant that no one in the area had any games left to play. So, Durant hosting last Thursday’s Spring Jamboree was just what I needed. JUSTIN I kept a running KLINE diary of the action on my phone, as usual, but also made some other notes to share with those of you who weren’t able to make it out to the Cougars’ field that evening. I counted at least seven scouts in attendance, representing six schools (it looked like Southeastern University brought two). Predictably, most of them were there for the Plant City-Armwood tilt in the first half. But a few did stick around for Strawberry Crest-Durant, and I’d say they were rewarded with the more exciting game. Although many of Plant City’s biggest names dressed, including T.J. Chase and Sawyer Dawson, new transfer Austin Carswell did not. Instead, soon-to-be-sophomore Cory King (who is huge for a freshman) suited up and played quarterback for the entire game. If I had to guess, I’d say that that was the reason why the Raiders sought to run a more conservative offense — trying to make the short game work instead of stretching the field with speedsters like Chase and Markese Hargrove. As Armwood is wont to do, its defense took away just about every chance Plant City had to make a play. On offense, though, the line did look a little shaky at times (which at least five Raiders standing behind me expressed out loud), and that set up Plant City’s only real chance to score. Defensive pressure forced their quarterback to make a bad



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Stopping the Armwood offense was not easy for the Plant City defense.

FOOTBALL / PAGE 11 After halftime, the Cougars and Chargers came out to play. This one was a little closer, as both teams found the end zone early. Crest kicked off the scoring with a deep ball, after a failed Durant field goal attempt on the previous drive, and the Cougars answered back with Erick Davis’s quarterback sneak. They could not, however, convert on the twopoint attempt. Durant made up for that missed field goal at 5:39 in the fourth quarter, so it was up to wideout-turned-QB Clay Cullins to lead the Chargers to victory. Just when the game looked lost, a 20-yard carry

All four teams showed grit and determination during the Spring Jamboree.

put Crest in field goal range with just a few seconds left to play. The kick sailed through

the uprights as the clock ran out, and Crest left with a 10-9 win.


RHET CONYERS Is there any better feeling in sports than hitting a walk-off home run to win a baseball or softball championship? Probably not. And that’s exactly what Conyers Plumbing pitcher Rhet Conyers did May 23, blasting one over the fence with a man on second base to lock up the Plant City Little League City Championship. When you stepped up to the plate in the final inning, were you trying to go for the fences? Or, just to get on base? No, I was trying to hit a line drive. After the game, did you find the ball? And how did you celebrate? I kept the ball; it’s at my house. My friend, J.B., his grandma bought pizza for everybody after the game. How long have you been playing baseball? For five or six years. I play catcher, pitcher and third base. Pitching is my favorite — you get to be in every play. What do you for fun when you’re not playing baseball? I also play Little League football, and I like to play with my friends in my neighborhood. I play for the Plant City Dolphins, on the Midgets team. I play guard, offensive tackle, and I sub in on the defensive line, sometimes. One time, I scored an extra point in a game — I ran a wedge. Who are your favorite athletes? Evan Longoria, because he hit four home runs in one game and plays third base, like me. And, Tim Tebow, because he’s a great quarterback and I like the Florida Gators.

What are your favorite teams? I like the Rays, and Florida, Florida State and Auburn. If you could play for any team, whether it’s in the pros or college, which would it be? I would play for the Rays or Bucs, because they’re closest to home and also some of my favorite teams. What’s your favorite food? Cabbage soup. I like it because my mom makes it, and it’s very good. What are your favorite movies? I like “Real Steel.” And “Pacific Rim,” — that also has big robots. Favorite books? I like the “Secret of Droon.” It’s about a magical place that these kids find. It’s not just one book; there’s a whole series. If you could have any superpower for one day, what would it be and what would you do? Super speed, so that I could run the bases faster and cover ground in the field.

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ª 3ODQW&LW\2EVHUYHUFRP DANISH / PAGE 11 the schedule. Back at Durant, Danish was used to seeing only a few teams more than once a season — all of the district opponents. Maybe that happened twice a season, or three times if the Cougars would get a second rematch in the playoffs. Nowadays, he could be seeing the same team in three consecutive nights. So, as a 19-year-old starting pitcher, he’s tackling it the only way he knows how. And, it seems to be working. “I still go at it the same way I did in high school,” Danish says. “Being so young, being on

TYLER’S TRAVELS Having spent his minor league career based in Virginia and North Carolina, Danish is used to traveling mainly around the East Coast. Two trips, in particular, stuck out to him for reasons outside of the ballpark. “Last year, we went to Lakewood, N.J., and went up to the Jersey Shore — where they filmed the MTV show,” he says. “We saw the shore house and where top of the leaderboards, it’s a really cool experience. In high

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everything was filmed.” But, a simple trip to the beach seemed to do more for him than seeing the nowinfamous beach house. “Ocean City, Md., was really cool,” he says. “We spent the day at the beach. You see beaches in Florida all the time, but being on a beach in the Northeast brought back memories of home. In North Carolina, you’re playing every day and don’t really have a lot of time to go to the beach.” school, I was top dog wherever I went. Here, there are a bunch

of guys knocking on the door of the bigs, and I’m up there among the league leaders.”


As soon as Danish got to the minor leagues, he got hot. He spent just under two months with the ChiSox’s Bristol, Va.based affiliate after the draft, posting a 1.38 ERA and 22 strikeouts in that time. He was then promoted to the ClassA Kannapolis Intimidators, where he ended the 2013 season with another 0.00 ERA. Beginning this season in Kannapolis, N.C., Danish improved greatly. His 0.71 ERA was second in all of Minor

League Baseball at the time of his promotion, May 15. He’s now in Winston-Salem, N.C., with the Class A-Advanced Dash. “The thing about the Dash is — when I got promoted to Kannapolis last year, this is almost the same exact team I went to last year,” Danish says. “It was like going from one team to another team I already played with. Same manager as when I got promoted, and I’ve worked with the pitching coach all year. Being around the same guys as before really helps with the transition.” The competition, though, has been stiffer. In his first start

for the Dash, May 18, against the Frederick Keys, Danish gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings before being pulled. He fared a little better on May 24, giving up just one run and four hits against the Lynchburg HillCats. The Dash won both games, but Danish did not pick up either decision. Everybody goes through a slump at some point, which is why Danish isn’t worried about either outing. Plus, if he ever needs good advice, he can get it straight from the majors now. “I spoke with (White Sox catcher) Tyler Flowers a lot, because we have the same agent,” Danish says. “He’s a really cool guy. Getting to know him was awesome, because I got to pick his brain.” He’s hoping to spend some more time with the ChiSox come Spring Training, where he’d love to meet staff ace Chris Sale — a guy to whom he was compared around the time of the 2013 Draft. For Danish, the ends — getting into the majors — will justify the arduous travel schedules, the mid-season team switches, and all of the other means that come with being a minor-leaguer. “It’s what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. “So, I cant complain.” Contact Justin Kline at

Photo by Zack Capes/W-S Dash

Tyler Danish says he’s loving life in the pros.

KLINE / PAGE 11 throw, which landed perfectly into Dawson’s hands and set up a big interception return. On second thought, that O-line will probably be back to normal by August. I only noticed two players who weren’t dressed for Crest and Durant’s game: OL Kensey Davis, a new Durant transfer, and Chargers quarterback Tristan Hyde, who is coming off of an ACL injury suffered last season. In Crest’s case, wideout Clay Cullins took Hyde’s place this time. For a wideout playing way out of position, Cullins wasn’t too shabby — he did what he had to do to keep the Chargers in the game and ended up leaving the field with a win under his belt. I don’t think that Cullins’ position change will be permanent, though. Durant coach Mike Gottman recently told me the Cougar backs would be a big part of the offense, and it showed last week. Led by Chris Atkins, Durant pounded the rock for much of the night and went through whatever holes the Chargers’ defensive line would give. It was just a missed field goal early on that saved Crest from having to score a touchdown to win. The Cougars’ defense gave Crest fits for much of the night, successfully putting pressure on Cullins and picking up a few sacks and hits. The unit even got things started early with a sack from Joe Williamson (arguably one of the area’s most underrated prospects). Talk about a confidencebooster for Crest, though. They’re now the youngest team in the area by a long shot, with many of the players coming up fresh from junior varsity — with no prior varsity experience. A win over a team like Durant, which didn’t lose nearly as many seniors as it did in 2013, must have had those kids feeling good. Again, it’s still May. Many of the areas that fans of these teams were worried about will likely change by August. It’s just fun to be able to catch an early glimpse of the young guys in action, to see what they can possibly bring to the table. I can’t wait for August.


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May 22





May 24

0.00 0.00


May 26



May 27




1.21 (2013: 2.43)


TO DATE 6.32 (2013: 9.08)

HIGH 90 89 90 89 89 90 89

Thurs., May 29 Fri., May 30 Sat., May 31 Sun., June 1 Mon., June 2 Tues., June 3 Wed., June 4

May 23


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May 21

May 25


SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES Thurs., May 29 Fri., May 30 Sat., May 31 Sun., June 1 Mon., June 2 Tues., June 3 Wed., June 4

SUNRISE 6:33 a.m. 6:33 a.m. 6:33 a.m. 6:32 a.m. 6:32 a.m. 6:32 a.m. 6:32 a.m.

SUNSET 8:19 p.m. 8:19 p.m. 8:20 p.m. 8:20 p.m. 8:21 p.m. 8:21 p.m. 8:22 p.m.

LOW 70 71 71 71 69 70 71

Diane Peyton snapped this photo of the No. 9 hole on The Lakes course in Walden Lake. “Love how the sun shines through the caladiums,” she says. 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.


June 12

June 19


LOW $20.90

HIGH $24.90

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

May 28

June 5


By Dennis E. Mitchell | Edited by Timothy E. Parker ACROSS 1 Vacation isle near Java 5 High-IQ clique 10 Greek-salad cheese 14 Act the expectant father 18 Name of two presidents 20 Some woodwinds 21 Movie with a huge cast 22 Unknown attributed in Bartlett’s 23 House trailers 25 Soft shoes 27 American missile 28 Pictographic poser 30 Tiresome routine 31 Small grill 34 Spider-Man’s alter ego: ___ Parker 35 Sovereign’s sub 38 Come together 39 Evaluated again 42 Agra garment 44 Conjurers 45 Fleur-de-___ 46 LSD 48 Earth warmer 49 Bugs on a hill 50 Word of comparison 52 Break, as a rule 55 “As written,” in quotes 56 Classical introduction? 57 It provides an excellent vantage point 59 Big success, on Broadway 61 Soon, in poesy 63 Pasta sauce choice 64 Poppy extract 65 Make a decision 66 Rascally kid 68 Charged bit 69 Existed 70 Place for 31-Across 72 Perch on a branch 74 Mythical equine 78 Small container for liquids

79 82 83 84 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 94 99 100 102 103 105 106 107 108 112 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124

Skin cream Word between two surnames That lady’s pronoun Theater’s Kowalski, for one Sultan’s chum Dopey’s workplace Strange sighting in the night sky Actress Spelling William Roth’s legacy Made dove sounds Soap units Tiny units of mass Fencing attack Rocky’s last name Wrinkle-resistant synthetic fiber Betrayed Word with raid or mattress Immaculate Poi feasts It won’t result in jail time Theatrical choreography Prop for Sherlock Holmes Approximately Denomination Passes over Quite pleased Introduce to solid food Hold another hearing Share a border

DOWN 1 “Batman” sound effect 2 “Much ___ About Nothing” 3 Where Jekyll became Hyde 4 Apes 5 Angora coat 6 Black, to Byron 7 ___ de plume

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

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 24 26 29 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 40 41 43 47 50 51 52 53 54 57 58 60 62 64 66 67 70 71 73

Female with foresight Holdings Legbones “Beowulf,” for one Quirk Certify, as a college Affixes in a scrapbook What Vanna may turn over Type of game or man Naval off. Bread portions Suffix of some ordinal numbers Dog days mo. Where to sit for a spell? Kind and merciful Comparatively cockamamie Market “piggy” Wall covering Anchor’s summary Long Island county “Boys will be boys,” e.g. Lively spirit Wild West watering hole Worm’s measure? Hopeless feeling Lone Ranger’s sidekick Greet like a bear? Have competition As originally positioned Football great Graham Most obviously glum Place alongside “Other” category (Abbr.) Land parcels More than a franchisee Like wry humor Do drudgery Assembled in advance (Abbr.) Luminescent phenomenon Home for a hog

© 2013 Universal Uclick

74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 85

Compact submachine gun Vidalia veggies Weasel out of Required Carp kin California’s first lady, once Showed again Mosque VIP “Annie” showstopper

87 90 91 93 95 96 97 98 101 104 106

Dish made with eggplant Smelter’s need They rain on your parade Satisfied, as a thirst Aerosol alternative Portland’s home, briefly Alluring beauty Move like a squirrel Stand-up’s offering Turned yella Spanish home

107 108 109 110 111 113 114 115 116

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C RY P T O G R A M S 1 . G Z F B Q G G O F W W W Q P F W B F U N F O F F Q E F O G K H B TO K M F I R G RU W RO F Q I K R G N Z Q G B H E Z G Z F P T. “ G Z F O F ’ W Q M F O V E K K S W K P R G H K U ,” G Z F I K W W W Q H S . “ V K R W Z K R P S Q P P F U O K P P H U W T O H U E G O Q H U H U E .” 2 . O S G V T G Z W N P F E N , K F E E T W R U V P J W RT X T G P J W W H F G F OV, U T C B F N N W N S G R Z F B S P T B T P V T G P J W N P F H A O S E AW P, S E W G F K H S E E V T G C NWBB XJFGWN.


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05.29.14 Plant City Times & Observer  
05.29.14 Plant City Times & Observer