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PLANT CITY

You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.

SPORTS CONTEST

inside

Plant City police get new wheels.

Johnny Knotts See inside for hits top speed this week’s photo in dream career. contest winner.

PAGE 7

PAGE 11 PAGE 14

now open

OUR TOWN

FREE • thursday, JUNE 20, 2013

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

by the Observer staff

+ Observer launches weekly newsletter The Plant City Observer is excited to announce the launch of our new weekly newsletter. Delivered every Thursday, the newsletter features a plethora of stories and information about our community, as well as special promotions, contests and much more. To sign up using your smartphone, simply scan the QR code below. To sign up through your computer, visit eepurl.com/ Aj96P.

The Herban Cowboy stocks an assortment of aromatherapy goods. Valerie’s Attic features unique refurbished furniture pieces.

SHOPPING SPREE

SEE COWBOY / PAGE 2

SEE PARTNERSHIP / PAGE 2

A plethora of stores have opened recently in Historic Downtown Plant City. Meet some of the community’s newest entrepreneurs. As Plant City heats up for the summer, several new shops have sprung up like flowers in Historic Downtown Plant City. From clothing boutiques to photography studios, the new shops add diversity to the community’s unique shopping district.

SEE OUR TOWN / PAGE 2

Valerie’s Attic

Sitting side by side, Kimeeruh’s Dream Closet Boutique and Kimeerah Furniture Design are both owned by Tekeila and Steve Fox but have drastically different feels.

After working at Stacy’s Consignment for years, Valerie DeArmond knew virtually all the minutia behind the consignment business. So, when the opportunity came to start her own shop, she jumped at the chance. Valerie’s Attic opened in May

SEE KIMEERUH / PAGE 2

SEE VALERIE’S / PAGE 2

The Herban Cowboy

INDEX Classifieds............15

The two companies will combine efforts to produce the Plant City Times & Observer.

One sniff of delicious lavender wafting through the doors of The Herban Cowboy, and shoppers will be hooked. The store offers the latest and greatest in aromatherapy and herbs, as well as the trendiest jewelry, clothing and purses.

Tekeila and Steve Fox opened two new shops in Historic Downtown Plant City.

Kimeeruh’s Dream Closet Boutique and Kimeerah Furniture Design

Observer, Times join forces in Plant City The Plant City Observer and Tampa Bay Times have created a partnership to publish a weekly newspaper — the Plant City Times & Observer. The free weekly newspaper, which will debut in August, will offer local news and advertising to its readers in east Hillsborough County. With a circulation of 15,000 copies each week, the paper will be available in racks and through home delivery. The paper will publish as a freestanding paper and as a section of the Tampa Bay Times in the Plant City area. “This new partnership is going to be great for everyone — our readers, our advertisers, the Plant City community and our two companies,” said Matt Walsh, a partner of Plant City Observer LLC and  CEO of Observer Media Group Inc. “Combining our respective strengths will allow us to produce for Plant City the best daily newspaper in Florida and one of the best community weeklies in Florida.” The Plant City Observer staff will handle the Times & Observer’s news-editorial;  Times will handle advertising, printing and distribution. The launch of the new weekly builds on the Tampa Bay Times’ expansion into Plant City last year, when the Times launched a regional edition on Friday. The Plant City Observer also launched a year ago as a weekly. “This partnership will allow us to give Plant City residents an even more robust weekly newspaper,” said Bruce Faulmann, vice president of sales and marketing at the Tampa Bay Times. “And we couldn’t be more pleased to team up with the local ownership group in Plant

+ Want to win July 4 VIP tickets? The Plant City Observer, the City of Plant City Recreation and Parks Department, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Strawberry Festival have partnered to present Plant City’s annual Fourth of July Celebration, and we are giving away six pairs of tickets for VIP seating for the fireworks display! To enter, simply visit bit.ly/ZY3mEL. If you haven’t yet done so, you will be asked to LIKE us on Facebook. Then, enter your email address, and you’re all set. We will contact the winners July 3. Good luck!

partnership

Vol. 1, No. 51 | One section

Crossword.............14

Obituaries...............8

Sports...................11 PlantCityObserver.com


Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

ABOUT THE PLANT CITY OBSERVER

The Plant City Observer is owned by Plant City Observer LLC, a partnership of Plant City businessmen Ed Verner, Nate Kilton, Felix Haynes and Sarasota-based Observer Media Group Inc. (OMG). OMG publishes seven free community weekly newspapers, including the Sarasota Observer, Longboat Observer, East County Observer, Ormond Beach Observer, Palm Coast Observer, Pelican Press and Plant City Observer; the weekly, paid-circulation Business Observer, serving the Gulf Coast of Florida; and five affiliated websites. The company’s combined circulation and unique viewership totals more than 150,000 per week. In 2012, the Local Media Association, a newspaper organization of more than 2,200 member newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, named the Sarasota Observer and Longboat Observer “Newspapers of the Year” in their circulation

OUR TOWN CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

+ Daybreak Rotary takes top honors The Plant City Daybreak Rotary, under the leadership of President Rob Evans, took home many honors at Rotary International’s recent District Conference. The honors included: • Governor’s Blue-Gold Challenge — Small Club (membership award) • Best Club Website — Small Club (website designed and maintained by member Jim Chancey)

• Demonstrating the Rotary theme, “Peace Through Service” • Outstanding Club President — Small Club (Rob Evans).  In addition to these club awards, incoming President George Banning received the Club Builder Award from for his continuing efforts to build the work of our Plant City Rotary Clubs.  The Plant City Daybreak Rotary Club meets from 7 to 8 a.m. Mondays, in the Community Room of South Florida Baptist Hospital, 301 N. Alexander St., Plant City. For more information, contact Evans, (813) 789-7063.

About the shop: This new salon opened in March.

Studio 105

Royal Emporium Antiques

Address: 102 S. Evers St. Phone: (813) 770-4031 Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. weekends; weekdays by appointment About the shop: The new photography studio offers a variety of products, including portraits, custom invitations, and event planning for weddings, quinceañeras, graduations, birthdays and more.

ABOUT THE TAMPA BAY TIMES

The Tampa Bay Times is widely considered one of the Top Ten newspapers in America and has won nine Pulitzer Prizes. It is Florida’s largest newspaper, with an average circulation of 402,422 Sunday and 340,260 daily (AAM FASFAX March 2013). The Times is produced by the Times Publishing Company, which also publishes TampaBay.com – Tampa Bay’s largest local news website, with 2 million unique visitors each month (Nielsen NetView six-month average for 11/12-4/13). Additionally, the company publishes the free daily tbt*, an edition of the Tampa Bay Times, tb-two*, a free paper written by Tampa Bay area students distributed to students, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning website, PolitiFact.com; and produces special events, specialty publications, and targeted advertising programs.

MORE SHOPS

Address: 109 W. Reynolds St. Phone: (813) 707-7177 Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; open until 9 p.m. during Bike Fest and Strawberry Classic Car Show events About the shop: The antique stored opened in January and carries a variety of unique items, including furniture, trinkets and even the occasional retro game machine.

Caring Hands Salon Address: 102 S. Evers St. Phone: (813) 716-1367 Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Kasandra’s Boutique Address: 118 W. Reynolds St. Phone: (813) 704-4816 Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays About the shop: The store, which opened in January, is stocked full of evening gowns, formal wear, jewelry and shoes.

KIMEERUH/PAGE 1

VALERIE’S/PAGE 1

COWBOY/PAGE 1

The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for both stores last week, but Kimeeruh’s Dream Closet Boutique has been up and running since April 6. Kimeeruh’s Dream Closet Boutique carries accessories, shoes, clothing and more. “It’s brand-new pieces, and there’s something for everyone,” Tekeila Fox said. When Tekeila Fox lived in Georgia, she operated a business out of her house and specialized in interior design and custom furniture. When she moved to Plant City, she wanted to finally open her own store. Kimeerah Furniture Design offers furniture with an “old world feel,” as well as custom drapery, interior design, space planning, staging, custom furniture design, and moving and delivery services.

and has been bustling with activity ever since. With 78 consigners and multiple vendors, the store carries everything from jewelry to antiques to DeArmond’s favorite — repurposed furniture. “It’s eclectic,” DeArmond said. “Everybody can’t wait to see what new things are brought in.” Vendors include Uniquely Me Jewelry; repurposed furniture from Cottage Palm Designs; decoupage art and furniture from Crazy Daisy; knickknacks and interior-design accessories from Mackazaak T’s Decor; jewelry from Heart Wear by Cheryl; and soaps and lotions from MeadowSweet Blossoms. Not only is DeArmond known for her talent at carrying valued items, she also is quite the baker. Every Monday, she makes chocolate cupcakes and treats for her patrons.

Owner Andrew Connell first started the store in 1997, at a different location and also owned a restaurant. He moved The Herban Cowboy in February to his new downtown location. “A lot of my former customers have come back and love it,” Connell said. “There are quite a few people who are very knowledgeable in aromatherapy in Plant City.” Now that the kindergarten teacher has more free time for summer break, Connell will be expanding his store hours. Connell plans to join the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the store, Connell will also be offering “Girls Night In” services, through which the store will come to private homes for aromatherapy and clothing events.

Address: 102 S. Evers St. (doors on W. J. Arden Mays Boulevard) Phone: (813) 650-7836 Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; Mondays by appointment

Address: 105 S. Collins St. Phone: (813) 482-8985 Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; extended hours during monthly Bike Fest and Strawberry Classic Car Show events

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categories and YourObserver.com the No. 1 local news website in North America. In its first year of eligibility, the Plant City Observer won five awards, including first place for Best Special Section for its 2012 Football Preview guide.

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Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

job opening by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

City searches for new fire chief Plant City is seeking a manager to direct its emergency medical service, fire prevention/suppression and emergency planning and management operations. The search is on for Plant City’s new fire chief. The position was posted June 14, with a 21-day application period. Initial screenings will begin July 1. Former Chief George Shiley retired about a year ago, after 13 years of service in Plant City. David Burnett has been serving as interim chief but decided he did not want to be a candidate for the permanent position. Instead, he will focus on his role as training chief, a position he held before the interim appointment. “It’s always good to do a selfevaluation of yourself outside of the evaluation from your bosses,” City Manager Greg Horwedel said. “He did that and decided he wanted to stay with professional development, as well as have more time to focus on his family. I respect him for that and understand his decision.”

During his time in Plant City, Shiley transitioned the department into a complete fire-rescue operation, adding basic life-support service and giving members of his staff an opportunity to return to school to become paramedics. Renamed Plant City Fire Rescue, the department now has 36 firefighters, of whom 26 also are trained paramedics. “The landscape of our department and, really, fire departments across the country, is changing,” Horwedel said. “Fire emergencies are no longer the bulk of our calls.” Horwedel said about twothirds of calls are for non-firerelated emergencies, such as car accidents. “The department has basically become a rescue and fire department more than fire and rescue,” Horwedel said. “We want to bring in a fire chief who

will come in and help continue the development of this department and take it to the next level.” Former police chief and current Assistant City Manager of Public Safety Bill McDaniel is leading the search for the new fire chief. “We want someone with a strong leadership background in fire service,” McDaniel said. McDaniel said he has received six applications as of Monday morning and is expecting a good response. The preferred candidate would have 10-plus years of experience, with at least eight of those spent in a supervisory or management capacity. The chief will be responsible for giving professional advice and direction to a staff of 41 and should possess certifications as Florida State Firefighter II, Fire Officer II, EMT and CPR. McDaniel said he will look for

qualified in-state candidates first but will consider candidates from outside Florida, as well. “We want to concentrate here first and find someone who understands the Florida environment,” McDaniel said. “That doesn’t exclude anyone from applying, but we would like a candidate that has Florida certifications and experience.” The salary range for the position is $75,000 to $95,000, depending on qualifications and experience. “Our goal, frankly, is to hire the best and most professional chief we can afford,” Horwedel said. “We want someone that will continue the great level of service this department has shown for the next five or 10 years, or longer.” Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.

broken ground by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

At this point, investigators believe the sinkhole is contained to the lot owned by the Manus family.

Sinkhole displaces family The Manus family is awaiting more information about the size and scope of the sinkhole discovered in the back yard of the Plant City home. For 18 years, Thomas Manus called 4604 Country Hills Court N. home. But now, Manus and his family have had to walk away from their house without knowing when — or even if — they can return. Manus and his family have been living in a motel, after he discovered a sinkhole forming underneath his back porch. “It’s hard,” Manus said. “Being in this place. Can’t go back home.” Manus said at about 4 p.m. June 8, he heard a car crash off Turkey Creek Road, just behind his house. At the same time, the ground began to shake.

He went outside to check out the car accident. But what he found in his own backyard was cause for much more concern. Noticing a hole underneath the patio, he called the insurance company. A police officer also responded to the house. In a computeraided dispatch report, the officer noted the hole was about 2 feet in diameter and split off into three different directions — about 6 to 8 feet  under the house; about 10 feet under the porch; and an unknown distance into the back yard. The next week, the sinkhole had been filled in with concrete

as a temporary fix, and two pylons also had been installed for stabilization. City code enforcement, fire rescue officials, two city engineers and an insurance adjustor have been on the property this week evaluating the sinkhole. Bartow-based Madrid Engineering also has taken sonograms of property from inside and outside the house. Manus has been told the sinkhole is situated in the backyard but that movement has been detected in the front yard, as well. He also has been told that the sinkhole is limited to just his lot. He has no idea how big it

Amber Jurgensen

may be or if he’ll be able to live in the house again. “It’s been an ordeal,” Manus said. Manus lived at the home with his wife, Tina, daughter, Lindsey, and his granddaughter. “My grandbaby’s only 10 months old, but even she’s attached to (the house),” Manus said. The family was advised to move out of the property. Manus said about 48 people showed up, some he didn’t even know, to help them move their belongings. Members of the Plant City Church of God and Plant City’s First Baptist Church were among the movers. A code enforcement official said this was the first sinkhole discovered in the neighborhood. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

3

generosity

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Lady luck strikes 185 Plant City diners Buddy Freddy’s is gaining attention after a woman — thought to be Powerball winner Gloria MacKenzie — paid for the entire restaurant’s dinners. When a waiter at Buddy Freddy’s restaurant sat three customers for an early Sunday dinner June 9, all she could hope for was a 20% tip. What she got, along with seven other waiters, was a $50 tip. The generosity of a woman, who looked strikingly similar to Zephyrhills Powerball winner Gloria C. MacKenzie, didn’t stop with just the staff. She also paid the tabs for the 185 customers dining in the restaurant at the time. The amount totaled about $2,600. When employees asked if she was the 84-year-old, $590.5 million winner, she denied it. “She was just a good-hearted woman with a large wallet,” Manager Stephanie Reaves said. The woman came in around 4 p.m. with another woman, both appearing in their 70s, and a younger man in his 50s, Reaves said. They sat at the north end of the restaurant. “It looked like her, but it wasn’t,” Reaves said. “She was a little bit younger.” After paying the $43.26 tab, the woman left, only to return minutes later. She realized she didn’t tip the staff. And she wanted to buy dinner for the entire restaurant in cash. “She didn’t do a lot of talking,” Reaves said. “She just wanted to let everybody know she had never been in the company of such nice people. She must not have been from around here.” The mystery woman stood in the front foyer as staff gathered up checks from tables and informed their customers that their tab was being paid. Several patrons went to the foyer to hug and thank her. Others stood and applauded the generous gesture. “I’ve been here 24 years, and I have never seen that,” Reaves said. “People have said, ‘Let me get the table next to me,’ but never the whole restaurant.” Since then, Buddy Freddy’s has been gaining national media attention. Reaves said even “Good Morning America” was slated to come by last week. “We really hope she gets a chance to see it on TV and how much we appreciate it,” Reaves said. “Who does that? That ain’t happening. We really appreciate it.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.


4

Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

NEWS

BRIEFS + No one injured in train/truck collision A train collided with a portion of a flatbed tractor-trailer at about 6 a.m. June 17. Tractor-trailer driver Hector Villavicencio-Ferrer, 64, of Creekside Nursery Inc., of Dade City, turned off State Road 39 onto a dirt road to the entrance of Cone Ranch. VillavicencioFerrer stopped the vehicle and exited to open a gate. A southbound CSX train transporting 137 box cars hit the tractor-trailer. No derailment occurred as a result of the crash. None of the three operators on the train was injured. The collision caused about $10,000 of damage to the train and $5,000 of damage to the tractor-trailer.

+ Police investigate Dover-area shooting Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives responded to a shooting June 14, near Dover. According to reports, the agency received calls at about 1:41 a.m., regarding shots fired outside 4816 Copper Canyon Blvd., just west of Dover Road. A short time later, Brandon Regional Hospital notified the Sheriff’s Office that Carmen Denise Dean, 42, had driven herself to the hospital for emergency treatment for at least one gunshot wound.

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

the good ol’ days

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Committee sews seeds for Planters reunion Seventeen Planter classes will reunite July 27, for a reunion unlike any other. Before the new Plant City High School was built, area students attended what is now Tomlin Middle School for their high school career. They are part of a select group of 17 classes that graduated from 1956 to 1972. Back then, they weren’t known as the Raiders. They were the Planters — and proud of it. To honor these students, a special committee formed to organize a massive combined class reunion. The event will be held from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. July 27, at the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Building. Attendees will enjoy a choice of two entrée choices, and a deejay will spin music from the Planters’ high school years. The committee includes Lynda Rogers Fuller, LaVerne Burkett Cribbs, Patsy Ballard, Sylvia Jordan Vaden and Barbara Coon Bennett. With more than 3,300 people on the guest list, the committee still needs class representatives from the classes of 1964 and 1970. They also need someone from the Class of 1966 to step forward with a roster. Faculty and staff, as well as those who attended the school but did not graduate as a Planter, also are invited. The idea for the reunion start-

ed when Cribbs put together “The Last of the Planters Reunion,” a smaller event for the classes of 1969 to 1972. Fuller took notice of the special reunion and thought it was a unique idea. She contacted Cribbs about putting together an even bigger event. “She called me right in the middle of planning my reunion and I said, ‘Don’t even talk to me about that right now,’” Cribbs said, laughing. “But, when we got together, we thought it’d be a good idea.” From there, they formed the committee to begin planning. The committee held its first meeting in August 2012. Gathering a list of classmates from each year has been the first step — and a difficult one. “Coming up with everybody’s names to contact has been the hardest part,” Vaden said. Although the master list still is growing, save-the-date notices and registration forms already have been mailed to many Planters. Ballard has been taking care of sending the invitations. Although Ballard attended Turkey Creek High School, her husband, Jerry, was a Class of 1960 Planter. “He says I’m part of the Plant City rehabilitation program,” Ballard said.

Amber Jurgensen

The committee still is searching for more students who attended high school as the Planters. As secretary, she’s also in charge of keeping track of the RSVPs. “I think the hardest part is now coming — tracking all the reservations and organizing,” Ballard said. Ten local businesses have been helping with the committee’s reunion budget. With each registrant paying $40 for his or her reunion ticket, the cost of the event will be around $14,000, if 400 guests come. The committee also has been busy putting together class tables with memorabilia and a slide show of photographs. If you would like to loan memorabilia, such as trophies and sports uniforms or send in your photographs for the slide show,

ARE YOU A PLANTER?

If you would like to be placed on the list of Planters, please contact Linda Rogers Fuller, (813) 986-4844 or lynda.f@comcast.net; LaVerne Burkett Cribbs, (813) 659-1240 or mlcribbs@tampabay.rr.com; or Patsy Ballard, (813) 6591240 or pgballard@tampabay.rr.com. contact Ballard, (813) 659-1240 or pgballard@tampabay.rr.com. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

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Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

Cops

Corner

PLANT CITY

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

JUNE 3

DEFINITELY NOT FUNNY

10 block of South Maryland Avenue. Disturbance/Student with a Gun Complaint. Officers responded to the school to help a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office school resource deputy, when an unknown male called both the Sheriff’s Office and the Plant City Police Department to report a student having a gun at school. The caller was later identified as a student, who stated he called, because it was “funny.” The Sheriff’s Office took over the investigation after the school was determined to be safe.

HOT WHEELS

3200 block of Stevenson Street. Stolen/ Recovered Vehicle. Overnight, an unknown person stole a 2002 Isuzu Trooper SUV from the driveway. While checking the area, the SUV was found abandoned a few blocks from the victim’s home.

VANDALS STRIKE

2700 block of West Reynolds Street. Criminal Mischief. Unknown person(s) broke a metal handrail off a walkway and broke the windows of a shed in the gray parking area. According to staff, nothing else was damaged or stolen. The damage is estimated at about $100.

NOT TOO BRIGHT

1720 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft. A black male suspect, wearing a dark ball cap, gray shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers, took a flashlight and walked out the store without offering to pay. The suspect was detained by an officer and positively identified by the clerk. The flashlight was valued at $7.99, and the suspect was arrested.

JUNE 4

DEEP CUTS

1300 block of West Spencer Street. Grand Theft. Unknown suspect(s) stole a Stihl chainsaw, valued at $435, from shed No. 9 of the Stormwater Division.

MARIJUANA MYSTERY

5

1300 block of East Ohio Street. Found Property. Officers responded to the home

june 4

STOLEN SIX STRING

1100 block of Whitehurst Street. Burglary. Unknown person(s) broke a window to the home and stole about $2,000 worth of electronics and a guitar.

in reference to the homeowner finding a marijuana plant on the back of her property. The plant was located in a bucket and was about 18 inches tall with thick buds. The plant was put into evidence for safekeeping/destruction.

SCARY SITUATION

1000 block of West Baker Street. Warrant/Resisting Arrest Without Violence/False Imprisonment/False Name to Law Enforcement. Officers responded to the location, in reference to a 911 hang-up with a disturbance in the background. Once on scene, it was learned through witnesses that a male and two females involved in the disturbance had gone into the apartment. Officers knocked on the door with no response but could see movement inside. Officers knocked on the door for about 20 minutes, until a male finally yelled out that everyone inside was OK and that the officer could leave. The officer advised he was not leaving until he made sure everyone inside the apartment was OK. The male told the officer he was not allowing him inside and that he would have to kick in the door. The apartment manager was notified and responded with a key. Entry was made, at which time, it was learned two female victims were inside and the suspect was not allowing them to leave. Officers also discovered the suspect had an outstanding Hillsborough County warrant for petit theft. The suspect was arrested.

JUNE 5

BIG-SCREEN BURGLARY

1600 block of North Franklin Street. Residential Burglary. The victim reported that an unknown person(s) entered the unsecured garage and stole three flat-screen TVs, valued at $1,500.

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Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

governance

update by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

$1.4 million Wheeler Street WLCA to revisit gate options alignment begins this month The Walden Lake Community Association opted for a gate instead of a towing company to control non-resident parking at the park.

The project, which will extend Wheeler south to Ball Street, also will create another block for new homes and businesses. The intersection between Alabama, Evers and Wheeler streets may be the most confusing stop in Plant City. But as part of the Midtown Redevelopment Project, the intersection will become a little more straightforward. Work is slated to begin this month on a $1.4 million realignment project. The contractor, Lithia-based Quality Grassing and Service Inc., is expected to complete the project in six months and no later than January 2014. The realignment will eliminate the intersection of the three streets. Wheeler Street also will be extended south, toward Ball Street, for about three blocks. The project is funded from the Community Redevelopment Agency and a Transportation Grant Agreement with Hillsborough County. “It’s not a standard intersection,” City Engineer Brett Gocka said of the current alignment. “You typically want a Tshaped intersection. So it is a safety improvement at the same time.” The realignment will start with the construction of two ponds behind the former Sweetbay Supermarket. The ditch on the north side of the building will be enclosed. Then, the demolition of the current curvy stretch of Wheeler Street, which extends from Renfro Street to South Evers Street, will begin. A new stretch of Wheeler then will be created. Wheeler will be taken south from Renfro to Alabama Street. Then, it will be extended further southward to Ball Street.

During this time, Wheeler will be closed to traffic. Local traffic will be directed to take Collins Street. Trucking traffic will use Park Road. The realignment will create an additional block for homes and businesses — and added revenue for the city — according to City Manager Greg Horwedel. It also will create an area for a 1.1-acre village green in Midtown. Once the work is completed on Wheeler, the city hopes to start constructing the village green, which could cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million. The concept for Midtown dates back to 2007, when then-mayor Rick Lott coined the term. The redevelopment project plans to create a shopping, dining and living experience just south of Historic Downtown Plant City. Since then, the city has been busy purchasing property and cleaning up contaminated areas from former businesses and plants. With the realignment creating a village green, the city hopes the area will become more enticing for investors and developers. Although the realignment is the first visible work to be done on Midtown, Horwedel said the project has been progressing steadily for two years. “There’s been a lot of work in the past two years,” Horwedel said. “Things sit for a while, and people think nothing is happening. But, a lot goes on behind the scenes.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

Walden Lake Community Association leaders are moving forward with a plan to curb non-resident parking at the community’s park. Board members asked On-Site Manager Tom Daramus June 17, to continue pursuing an option to add a keycard-access gate at the entrance to the parking lot. Daramus presented several quotes to install an access gate at the front of the park’s parking lot. To use the existing swinging gate and add a motor and keycard access would cost $5,215. To change the gate and use a sliding gate with wheels and a keycard access would cost $8,885, he said. The parking lot issue surfaced after WCLA board members noticed a number of non-residents using the park amenity and parking lot. There are a limited number of spaces in the lot, which is only intended for Walden Lake residents. During popular times, such as weekends, mornings and early evenings, some residents are unable to find spots. Non-residents who wish to park in the lot are required to have a sticker or pass from the WCLA. Board member Ray Page said Brewington’s Towing Service agreed to work with the WLCA to remove cars from the lot that didn’t have the proper decal. Some board members expressed they would like to see quotes from other companies. Others wondered if having an active towing company patrolling the lot would cause cars to park in the grass on Timberlane Drive, instead.

MOSS REMOVAL DENIED

Board members denied in May, a pro-

IN OTHER NEWS • Tree debris was removed from the lake area, as well as several trees that had fallen down due to the recent rainstorms. • Marlene Merrin presented a monthly report of violations for the 16 neighborhoods she oversees. The violations included: Yard: Care/appearance: Mailbox: Trash cans: Boat/trailer: Vehicles: Fence: Above-ground pool:

posal to remove the moss from the median trees along Timberlane Drive. Last month, Daramus, presented a quote for moss removal for trees in the medians on Timberlane Drive. Daramus contacted Matt’s Certified Tree Care, in Dade City. The company proposed removing the moss by spraying a copper sulfate solution. Copper sulfate would not ruin the paint on cars or hurt any wildlife. The solution would have been sprayed once a year. During the first year, results wouldn’t be apparent. It would take several sprays for the moss to fall off the trees. The WLCA would then have to clean the moss off the median ground. It would take about three to five years to get the moss under control. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

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Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

religion by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

crime prevention

7

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

P.C. police roll out new look Six new police cruisers took to streets this week.

Monday’s group had a blast playing outside.

St. Peter’s Episcopal VBS creates an Egyptian oasis Vacation Bible School participants were walking like Egyptians June 17, during St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s 2013 VBS. The church transformed its building into an ancient palace for this year’s event. Parishioner and volunteer Betty Jones even dressed like an Egyptian to complete the transformation. The children painted paper bags to resemble the coat of many colors. They also enjoyed a tiger-adoption area, at which they could adopt tiger stuffed animals in celebration of the church adopting a real tiger from the World Wildlife Fund. Betty Jones dressed like an Egyptian for VBS.

Starting this month, Plant City’s finest has a new look. Six of the Plant City Police Department’s new fleet of police cruisers this week hit the community streets. The 2013 Ford Interceptors, sporting the department’s new black-and-white color scheme, are designed specifically for law-enforcement applications. This year, the department also will receive five Chevrolet Impalas that will be issued to administrative personnel. This new Interceptor, built on the Taurus body, is completely redesigned. Prior to its production, Ford solicited input from law-enforcement agencies regarding changes and features they wanted to see in a new cruiser. “For the most part, Ford listened and made significant changes geared toward officer safety, vehicle comfort and reliability,” Sgt. Al VanDuyne said. “Their goal in creating the new Interceptor is to make it the new mainstay in police vehicles, similar to the success the Crown Victoria did.” There is a one-piece polymer rear seat that will eliminate the possibility of arrestees hiding contraband or weapons inside the car. The vehicle also incorporates a modified prisoner restraint system, rather than a standard seatbelt system.  This

The new cruisers cost about $30,000 each. allows the officer to secure the prisoner without having to reach across them, exposing themselves to possible injury. They also have rear window guards that prevent escape attempts and vandalism. The remaining fleet of existing patrol vehicles will be transitioned over the next five years, as the current cars reach their life expectancy. The service life for police vehicles is typically 100,000 miles, or seven years. The department estimates all of its vehicles will be changed by 2018. The department typically has about 85 cars available, 75 of which are marked patrol vehicles. “The city does an excellent job in securing funds to replace the

Michael Eng

vehicles when that time arrives,” VanDuyne said. “The vehicles are replaced as they start to become more costly to maintain and show signs of their age, such as peeling paint and decals.” VanDuyne said because the cars were barely deployed this week, there hasn’t been too much feedback. But there is buzz around the station. “The overall response has been positive,” VanDuyne said. The design was voted on by members of the Plant City Police Department’s employee advisory board to replace the current decal package that has been in use since 1999. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

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PLANT CITY

“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, jeng@PlantCityObserver.com Associate Editors / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@ PlantCityObserver.com; (Sports) Matt Mauney, mmauney@PlantCityObserver. com Advertising Executive / Veronica Prostko, vprostko@PlantCityObserver. com Advertising Coordinator / Linda Lancaster, llancaster@PlantCityObserver. com Accounting Manager / Petra Kirkland, pkirkland@PlantCityObserver.com Advertising-Production Operations Manager / Kathy Payne, kpayne@ yourobserver.com Advertising-Production Coordinator / Brooke Schultheis, bschultheis@ yourobserver.com Advertising Graphic Designers / Monica DiMattei, mdimattei@yourobserver. com; Marjorie Holloway, mholloway@ yourobserver.com; Jim Knake, jknake@ yourobserver.com; Luis Trujillo, ltrujillo@ yourobserver.com; Chris Stolz, cstolz@ yourobserver.com

observed: per ardua ad astra

Observer + Times = a better publication As representatives from the readers and advertising partPlant City Observer and the ners. This is the beginning of a Tampa Bay Times sat in the long-range plan that cements in same room for the first time last Plant City a hyper-local comweek, Ernest Hooper, the Times’ munity newspaper created by East Hillsborough bureau chief, Plant City residents, for Plant joked that the rollout of City residents. our new joint venture, In our partnership, the the Plant City Times & Observer will take the Observer, should be a lead in producing the wedding. Plant City Times & ObThat got me thinkserver’s editorial content. ing. Maybe an outdoor We will do it with the ceremony, say McCall same hometown passion Park? We could invite the you’ve come to expect entire town, and perhaps from your little comChaplain Ret. Maj. DanMICHAEL munity newspaper with iel Middlebrooks might the red “O” on the cover. ENG even officiate. Reception You’ll still see associate on the Florida Strawbereditors Amber Jurgensen ry Festival grounds, of course. and Matt Mauney all over town. Hmmmm. Perhaps. But, All of our content decisions still despite my formerly long locks, will be made in our cozy office I need to make one thing clear: in Historic Downtown Plant I’m not wearing the dress. City. Most important, our gauge All joking aside, this new for what graces our pages and joint venture is very much like website will remain the same: a good marriage. The Plant City What is of most importance and Times & Observer, which we will interest to our readers? debut in August, is the culmiOur editorial content will nation of months of meetings, change, however, in one signifidiscussions and preparations. It cant way — there will be more has been a long courtship, the of it. Significantly more. As culmination of which I am cerwe transition to the Plant City tain is in the best interest of our Times & Observer, our product

spin city by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

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.

Call Veronica Prostko at 704-6850.

SEND US YOUR NEWS

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

The Plant City Observer LLC

Ashlyn Brunner had a blast at this year’s camp.

Baton campers twirl into summer Dozens of baton twirlers filled the John R. Trinkle Center multipurpose room June 17, for a summer twirling camp. The participants learned a variety of baton moves and dance steps from veteran twirlers. Left: Julia Alessi

Locally Owned

Publisher of the Plant City Observer and PlantCityObserver.com

President / Felix Haynes Directors / Nate Kilton, Ed Verner, Matt Walsh

110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100A Plant City, Fla. 813-704-6850 www.PlantCityObserver.com ©Copyright Plant City Observer LLC 2012 All Rights Reserved

will increase in page count and page size. We’re converting to the broadsheet format (the size of most metro daily newspapers), which will give us more space on each page. With the additional space, we’ll launch new sections and features to help make the Plant City Times & Observer the best, most accurate reflection of the Plant City community available. And now, with the help of the Times’ unparalleled advertising and marketing expertise, we will become a stronger, more dynamic choice for our advertising partners. We will have a complete suite of print and digital marketing solutions to ensure every one of our clients enjoys the same success we do. Think of us as Plant City’s marketing powerhouse — headquartered right down the road from you. And, before any of our existing clients drives down here to throttle me, yes, Veronica Prostko will remain your ad executive. She’s our superstar and such an essential part of this new venture. Of course, the most critical component of this is not

any one employee. It’s not the Observer or the Times. It’s you, dear reader. You are the reason why we are here, and you are the reason why we will continue to be here. A newspaper that sits on the newsstand, unread, is silent. But in our first year of publication, we’ve been fortunate to be the one that makes it into your home, the one upon which you rely for your hyperlocal news. So many of our stories have originated from our readers, and every time I receive an “It’s Read Everywhere” photo, I can’t help but smile. You’ve embraced us, and we are blessed to have such a loyal following. On the Observer side of our company, we have plenty of sayings, slogans and words of wisdom by which we operate. My favorite is this: “Per ardua ad astra.” Translation: “By struggle to the stars.” In our first year, you made the Plant City Observer a success, and as we launch the Plant City Times & Observer, I invite you to continue with us on this wonderfully exciting journey … To the stars.

MY VIEW

Dennis Ross: Remove Holder from office

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THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

Julia McFadden worked hard on her technique.

I urge President Barack Obama As the chief law-enforcement to remove Eric Holder from his officer of the U.S. federal governposition as Attorney General. ment, the attorney general is The Department of Justice has responsible for overseeing the forced journalists to hand over its enforcement of all federal laws. records and has allowed The attorney general is also broad seizure of phone reresponsible for representcords of all Verizon customing the United States in ers. And we’re now reading legal matters and generally reports of the Department provides advice and opinof Justice allowing the ions to the president and to National Security Agency to the heads of the executive broadly collect records of departments. Internet history. Unfortunately, however, These reports are frightHolder has failed to uphold DENNIS ening. We are a government his important duties to the ROSS of the people and by the American public on numerpeople. Why is the Departous occasions. ment of Justice allowing at least Operation Fast and Furious, the 121 million Americans — which is Department of Justice’s seizure of also one-third of the population phone records of reporters within — to be subjected to this overThe Associated Press and Fox reach? Common decency says this News, and the most recent report shouldn’t happen. of the FBI’s intrusion into AmeriI agree America needs to be safe, cans’ phone records, are just a few but this is too far. Is the Departexamples of the disturbing actions ment of Justice suggesting it taken by the Department of Justice suspects every Verizon customer of while under Holder’s direction. terrorist activities? The attorney general has either Some will argue that President overseen a rogue agency, one he George W. Bush and the Patriot cannot control, or directly played a Act started this. The Patriot Act role in allowing these unacceptable requires the records be relevant actions to take place. to the investigation. Conducting In any case, under Holder’s surveillance on all records from leadership, the American public every Verizon subscriber goes far has lost confidence in the attorbeyond the scope of the Patriot ney general’s ability to fulfill the Act. responsibilities of his office. Congress has the responsibility Now is the time to remove the and authority of oversight of the country’s chief law-enforcement federal agencies. As a member of officer to restore the much-needed Congress, I take my job seriously. trust of the American public. A The president should, as well. government created by the will of The president appointed Eric the governed should not govern by Holder as attorney general, and fear and intimidation. It is contrary the president can remove him. My to our founding principles. colleagues and I have asked for his America must be a country of resignation several times and have opportunity, not fear. To move even voted to hold him in conforward and feel safe once again, tempt, all of which he has ignored. it’s time Obama removes Holder as We are now asking Obama to reattorney general. move Eric Holder from his position U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeas attorney general. land, represents District 15.


Plant city observer

9

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

the great outdoors by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Scouts hone skills at Medard Park camp

Campers were able to set their sites on targets and shoot BB guns.

Nearly 100 scouts and more than 50 volunteers took to the wilderness for the Scouting in the Sun day camp last week, at Edward Medard Park, in Plant City. Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts represented packs and troops from Plant City, Lakeland, Riverview and Ruskin,

Gabriel Martinez is a member of Pack 744 in Plant City.

among others. The weeklong camp featured more than 30 different activities, including arts, crafts, nature trail walks, shooting and much more. The final day of the camp included a massive water gun fight between scouts and volunteers, a pot-luck picnic and closing ceremony.

Gabriel Hull had fun with this nature bingo game.

Caleb Schweizer learned how to tie a tie during this activity.

Pack 5 Cub Scout Andrew MacDonald enjoyed the pudding he made at the nutrition station.

JR Palmer and Emmanuel Nicolas Troop 101 Boy Scout Ry Palmer led a group of Cub Scouts through the woods to teach them about nature.

Right: This group learned about gun safety before shooting BB guns in a target range.

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DANCE for dads

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

OBSERVEROBITUARIES

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Harold Dean Boles

Linda LaForest and Valorne “Sunny” Swaney

Couples get their groove on at Father’s Day dance Plant City couples twirled around the dance floor June 16, during Stardust Dance Cen-

ter’s special Father’s Day Dance. Guests boogied to classic tunes by deejay

Fran Dunford and Archie Jaynes

DJ Buddy Canova, and dads also enjoyed a special presentation during the event.

Wanda Morin and Matt Brown

Harold Dean Boles, 79, of Plant City, died June 15, 2013, at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. Born Feb. 23, 1934, in Cookeville, Tenn., he was the son of the late Willie Boles and the late Edna Campbell Boles. He was the husband of the late Eleanor McKee Boles. Mr. Boles served in the 1950s, in the U.S. Army, was a member of Springhead Church of Christ and worked for 24 years for McIntosh Groves. He was an avid gardener, who, according to his family, could grow anything. Survivors include his son, Allan Boles (Marsha); brother, Gene Boles; and sisters, Stella Webb, Betty Sumner, Hattie Woverton and Geraldine Giddens. He was preceded in death by his sister, Helen Layne. Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome.com.

Erin Colleen Castro

Erin Colleen Castro, 59, of Valrico, died June 7, 2013. Born Sept. 12, 1953, in Downey, Calif., she was the daughter of Jack Reiley and Lois Fults (Jon). She was the wife of Michael Castro. Mrs. Castro was a devout Christian and lived a fairy-tale life for 10 years with her husband, Mike. Erin worked as a Surgical Intensive Care Unit nurse at the Lakeland Regional Hospital and assisted in many open-heart surgeries in her more than 10 years of service. She was also an accomplished acrylic painter on canvas. Survivors include her daughter, Colleen Jones; sisters, Dehne Rhoades and Joan Palmer; and grandchildren, Michael and Ashley Jones.

Her only son, Travis Lee Parker, 17, preceded her in death. The family has not planned any local services at this time. In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Castro would likely want you to give flowers to the one you love the most. Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome.com.

Hazel E. Norman

Hazel E. Norman, 87, of Eustis, died May 30, 2013. She was born Sept. 25, 1925, in Plant City. Survivors include her three sisters, Elouise Thomas, Inez Thomas and Carolyn Johnson, all of Plant City; four children, Jim Norman, of Oviedo, Eddie Norman, of Eustis, Diane Smith, of Austin, Texas, and Keith Norman, of Grand Isle; 14 grandchildren; and 10 great grandchildren. A service was held June 13, at Wells Memorial and Event Center. Pastor Richard Joyner officiated. Interment was at Mt. Enon Cemetery.  Online condolences may be made at wellsmemorial.com.

Antonio Jesus Villorin

Antonio Jesus Villorin, 66, of Plant City, died June 15, 2013, at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Born Feb. 7, 1947, in Havana, Cuba, he was the son of the late Armando Villorin and the late Esther Villorin. He was the husband of the late Josephine Pugliese Villorin. Mr. Villorin attended St. Clement Catholic Church and loved to cook. Survivors include sons, David, Antonio and Johnny Villorin; daughter, Carmine Chance; brother, Armando Villorin; and four grandchildren. Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome.com.

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Sports

YOUTH | HIGH SCHOOL | GOLF | SENIORS | COMMUNITY | TENNIS

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK PCHS alum Brooke Miller earns spot on USF squad. 12

PLANTCITYObserver.com

SHOW ME THE MAUNEY

Athletes prove anything is possible

If there is one lesson that should be taken away from recent stories in the sports section of the Plant City Observer, it’s that great things are possible with hard work and dedication. In the past few weeks, we have brought you stories of overcoming great odds and local athletes achieving great things. This underMATT lying theme MAUNEY was unintentional, but it shows the impressive feats accomplished in a small town such as Plant City, where big dreams are certainly possible. The achievements of these stories have been wide, but they all share the same inspirational component. During graduation week, we ran the stories of two students that will be attending and playing their sport of choice at prestigious colleges. Durant football player Alex Wood will attend and play for Carnegie Mellon, while Strawberry Crest softball player Savannah Bradley chose Harvard over a host of Ivy League options. Throughout the spring, we reported on Durant baseball standout Tyler Danish. Danish overcame the odds and dispelled critics, who questioned his mechanics and starting ability, by being drafted 55th overall in the second round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox. He joins several former Cougars as a pro baseball draft pick, including current Cleveland Indian Ryan Raburn. That same week, we told the story of Kevin Garcia, a special-needs student at Strawberry Crest who overcame odds and got to play and score in a varsity basketball game. In 2010, Garcia had 22 bolts put into his back after being diagnosed with scoliosis. To award him for his amazing story, Garcia enjoyed the experience of a lifetime, not only receiving the Freddie Solomon Moral Courage Award at the Tampa Bay Sports Commis-

SEE MAUNEY / PAGE 13

THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 2013

football

racing reality

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Passion fuels Durant coach

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Jackson Barwick, the name behind the Cougars’ Barwick Award, will serve as the program’s wide receivers coach next year.

Photo courtesy of Timea Flak

Johnny Knotts is living his dream as the pit lane manager for the International Motorsports Association.

DRIVER’S SEAT Former Knotts Hardware owner Johnny Knotts has given up selling nails, rakes and lawn-care products to travel the country as the pit lane manager of a major motorsports operation.

Courtesy photo

Johnny Knotts leaves next week for New York.

Just eight months ago, Johnny Knotts was running his family’s hardware store. Now, he is in charge of pit lane at major motorsports events across the nation. “I don’t usually like change, and I’m not one for inconsistency, so this is new for me,” he said. “But to obtain some things, you have to take a chance, and that’s where I’m at in my life.” Knotts, the third-generation owner of Knotts Hardware, ran the store since 1987, before coming to the tough decision to close the store last October. He has been involved with racing for the past eight years on a part-time basis. With his responsibilities in his hometown now off his shoulders, Knotts has taken a full-time role as the pit lane manager for the International Motorsports Association, which governs the American Le Mans Series. The series was recently bought by NASCAR, but Knotts will remain involved with IMSA and the ALMS.

“I hope to one day transition over into the marketing and public relations side of things,” he said. He calls his current role a “dream come true” and that it isn’t all that different from the 25 years he spent in charge of a hardware store. “The customers I deal with now are really no different than the ones I served at Knotts Hardware,” he said. “You have to treat your customers like people and the way you would want to be treated — whether that customer is a professional race car driver or someone buying a rake from me.” Knotts will head June 25 (his birthday), to New York, for the Porsche GT3 Challenge, at Watkins Glen. It will be the first part of a three-week road trip.

In the 1993 film “Rudy,” the lead character, Daniel E. ‘Rudy” Ruettiger, played by Sean Astin, has a memorable dialogue with Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian, played by the late Jason Miller. I’ve come to realize that God made some people out to be football players, and that I’m not one of them, Rudy said. I wish God would put your heart in some of my players’ bodies, Parseghian replied. The film became an inspiration for anyone who had ever been told they couldn’t do something. To this day, it is the benchmark for underdog stories. At Durant High School, the Barwick Award was established in 2011. “It goes to a guy that just wants to be a part of Durant football,” Cougars head coach Mike Gottman said. The inaugural winner and the award’s namesake is Jackson Barwick. At 5-foot-10 and about 140 pounds when he was at Durant, Barwick was taller but thinner than the real Rudy (5-6, 185) — who was described in the film as “5-foot nothin’ and a hundred and nothin” — but the attribute they share is their heart and love of football. “Football is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Barwick said. “It taught me how to be successful in life and how to stick with something — even if it’s hard and some say you can’t do it.” With his playing days over, Barwick is now focused on continuing to follow his passion. After helping out in a support-

SEE BARWICK / PAGE 12

UNUSUAL SUSPECT

Knotts didn’t grow up in a racing family.

SEE KNOTTS / PAGE 12

Matt Mauney

Alum Jackson Barwick has shown fierce dedication to football.


Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

KNOTTS / 11 “Realistically, I think I’m a headcoach-of-a-football-team type of guy,” he said. “My brother and I grew up in a traditional baseball-, basketball-, football-type of family.” Knotts said his new passion didn’t stem from a long love of racing but rather an admiration of sports cars, specifically European cars. Through that interest, Knotts was introduced in 1986, to his first Le Mans racing experience at the 12 Hours of Sebring. “I haven’t missed one since,” he said. “I’ve been to every 12 Hour since that day — either as a fan or working.” After getting hooked at Sebring, Knotts’ former wife, Katrina, bought him a gift to attend the Porsche Driving Experience, which allows Porsche owners to get the experience of driving at a road course of their choice. Knotts chose Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., home of the Petit Le Mans, the signature event of the American Le Mans Series. Knotts later went on to attend the Panoz Racing School. Through that involvement with Panoz, an American car manufacturer headquartered in Braselton, Knotts established contacts with Panoz Racing and Road Atlanta. He discovered early that he had no future behind the wheel on a race track but wanted to be involved in the atmosphere of road racing. “I wasn’t the fastest, so I think I would have been a sponsor’s dream, because you certainly had time to read what was on the side of my car,” he said. “I just started getting my feet wet of being in that environment, and it became something that I just clicked with and that I wanted to be a part of.” Eight years ago, Katrina, a dental hygienist, was cleaning the teeth of a man who happened to be the head of pit lane for the American Le Mans Series. He mentioned that they were looking for another pit official. Katrina immediately called her husband, and, from there, Knotts got

BARWICK / 11 ing role since he graduated in 2011, Barwick will serve as Durant’s wide receivers coach on a full-time basis this fall.

X’S AND O’S

Barwick never put on pads before he reached high school. And despite being undersized, he decided to go out for the team. “I had always done band through middle school, but I just really wanted to play football,” he said. Barwick didn’t play at all his freshman year, but he stuck with it. “I just kept working at it and tried to get better,” he said. Despite having virtually no

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

one step closer to his new dream. “I went from sitting on one side of the fence at Sebring one year to working on pit lane the next year,” he said. “That’s a dream come true for someone like me.”

ATHLETE of the week

OFFICIAL PRESSURES

As with any official of a sport, Knotts said it isn’t always fun. “As an official, you learn to overcome things,” he said. One decision that most impacted Knotts came at the 12 Hours of Sebring, when he observed what he thought initially was an infraction that, if called, would have significantly changed the outcome of the race between the top two teams: Peugeot and Audi. Unlike NASCAR, in the ALMS pit crews are not allowed to work on the cars during refueling, other than wiping the window screen and assisting the driver. “After eight hours of racing, Audi and Peugeot were around two seconds apart, and it was coming down to pit stops,” he said. During a Peugeot refueling, a mechanic wiped down a headlamp. “I was thinking the race was over,” he said. “Audi was going to win, and Peugeot was going to lose by breaking this rule, but something in my gut told me to hold off on assessing it.” Unlike sports like football and basketball, racing officials are allowed more time before assessing a penalty and can even assess a penalty after the race is over. After meeting with the Peugeot team manager, Knotts discovered a new rule allowing the wiping of headlamps had been added to the European rule book of the governing body of the race but had not made it over to the ALMS rulebook. “If I had made the call, the race would have been over, and it would have been the wrong call,” he said. “Going with my gut instinct to not call that penalty at that moment saved the race. I’ll never forget that.” Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@ plantcityobserver.com.

chance of playing, much less starting, Barwick showed up every day for practice and offseason workouts, often taking a beating from the varsity players, who use scout team type players such as Barwick to prepare for Friday nights. “He got limited playing time but always came to practice with a great effort and determination,” Gottman said. “There are different ways to contribute on a football team, whether you’re a scout team guy, a starter or a special teams player.” His senior year, Barwick saw limited playing time and got to start at wide receiver Nov. 12, 2010, against Strawberry Crest. He even caught a pass in the game, his only varsity catch. It was for three yards.

BROOKE MILLER After graduating from Plant City High in just three years, Brooke Miller has added another impressive accomplishment: she is now a cheerleader for the University of South Florida. Miller tried out in May and made the co-ed team, along with fellow former PCHS cheerleader Jonathan Belk. The team cheers at football, basketball and volleyball home games and several away games. Did you always want to cheer in college?

Yes I did. I had always planned on it, but this is actually my second year at USF, and I was going to hold off for another year. It was just kind of spur of the moment, so I figured I would just go ahead and go for it, and if anything, I would use it as practice for next year. What was the tryout like?

It was intense. It was three days long, and after I made the first cut, I was really surprised, and it just continued. The third day, we all went for lunch, and when we came back, they called us into a room, one by one, and they told us.

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When I first went out, I was planning on doing all girl, because as long as I’ve cheered, it has been all girl, but by the end of it, I ended up doing co-ed. What was that like?

With all girl, there’s three girls under you, but with co-ed, there is just one guy. But the guys were really nice

“There’s no better feeling than playing football and being a part of a program,” he said. “If you make it through with a program, especially our program, you’ll be successful in life and you’ll see that it was all worth it.”

THE RIGHT PATH

Barwick attended Florida Atlantic University after graduating in 2011 from Durant. With his playing days over, he wanted to stay involved with the game he loved, so he volunteered his time with the Owls’ program at FAU. He spent time breaking down game film in a secluded room. “They worked him to the bone,” Gottman said. Wanting to be more involved

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him his own role as wide receivers coach after he returned home. He has been working in that role since spring workouts. “In the past, I’ve always been like the sidekick with another coach, but when you’re the actual guy doing it, there’s a lot more pressure,” he said. Whether his future leads to a paid position teaching and coaching at his alma mater or another high school, his example of hard work and dedication will live on at Durant through the Barwick Award. “I just love football and love being around it,” Barwick said. “This isn’t a job for me. It’s fun, and it’s my passion.” Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver.com.

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with the on-the-field aspects, Barwick decided to transfer back home. “I thought I wanted to coach college football, so I tried to help out there, but I found out I didn’t like it as much as high school football,” he said. “(College) is more of a big business-type deal, and I like the family-type atmosphere here.” Barwick is currently taking classes at the Hillsborough Community College’s Plant City Campus, with plans to finish a degree in education at the University of South Florida. He hopes to teach history in high school and coach football. Barwick has helped on a volunteer basis with the Durant program periodically since he graduated, but Gottman decided to give

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He made the team last year, and he’s the one who convinced me to go out for it. I didn’t cheer with him at Plant City, but we’ve become closer since we started cheering together at USF. He helped me out a lot by letting me know what the tryouts would be like.

Were the stunts and routines what you were used to in high school?

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Plant city observer

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THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

future stars

MAUNEY / 11 sion’s annual banquet but also meeting Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon, who invited Garcia to a Rays-Yankees game to present an award to Cy Young Award winner David Price. This week, we featured two unique individuals that may not have that much in common at first glance but share a passion for something that has led them to follow their dreams. Johnny Knotts in pursuing a career in motorsports, and Jackson Barwick in pursuing his passion to coach football. Both could have taken the easier road. Barwick could have remained at Florida Atlantic and go on to teach while leaving football behind. Knotts could have continued advising a new hardware store in town with his expertise in the field. But both followed their dreams while taking life-changing risks in the process. There are even more great stories to come this summer that follow this theme of achieving great things. Plant City High School has several football players being courted by Division I college programs, including top recruit Montel McBride, who recently received an invitation to The Opening, a prestigious prospect combine held at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. Even younger athletes are accomplishing great things, including a young gymnast, a group of local karate students and a Little League team with World Series dreams. Look for all of these stories in upcoming issues of the Plant City Observer.

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Crest serves up third volleyball camp Head coach Morgan Miltner and assistant coach Mindy Miltner hosted this week, the third annual Strawberry Crest Chargers Volleyball camp. The camp welcomed players of all skill levels from grades 6 through 12. Varsity and former SCHS players also helped with the camp, which began Monday and ends today. The Lady Chargers went 14-8 last year and 5-0 in regular season district play. They lost 3-1 to Sickles in the Class 6A District

Lauren Morhard tossed the ball to Paige Heverling during this exercise.

July4

celebration

2013

6 to 9:30 p.m. | Plant city stadium | 1810 e. Park road, Plant city

Varsity head coach Morgan Miltner talked to the campers before breaking for lunch. 11 tournament finals before falling to Lakewood Ranch in the region quarterfinals.

Jamee Townsend graduated from Strawberry Crest this spring but is helping with the Chargers program this summer.

Arial Newberry is an incoming sophomore at Strawberry Crest. Right: Terra Brooks led the team in kills last season.

Presented by

The City of Plant City Recreation and Parks Department The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce The Florida Strawberry Festival

Free admission 5

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www.plantcitygov.com | call (813) 659 - 4255


Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, June 20, 2013

Plant City

RAIN

(inches)

Weather

WED.

June 12

0.09

THURS.

TemperatureS

Thurs., June 20 Fri., June 21 Sat., June 22 Sun., June 23 Mon., June 24 Tues., June 25 Wed., June 26

FRI.

June 14

0.04

SAT.

June 15

1.07

SUN.

June 16

High Low 90 72 93 73 93 73 91 73 93 75 93 75 91 75

sunrise/sunset times

0.34

MOON

PHASES

Sunrise Sunset Thurs., June 20 6:32 a.m. 8:28 p.m. Fri., June 21 6:33 a.m. 8:28 p.m. Sat., June 22 6:33 a.m. 8:28 p.m. Sun., June 23 6:33 a.m. 8:28 p.m. Mon., June 24 6:33 a.m. 8:28 p.m. Tues., June 25 6:34 a.m. 8:29 p.m. Wed., June 26 6:34 a.m. 8:29 p.m.

MON.

June 17

0.46

TUES.

June 18

0.01

JUNE

TO DATE

5.25 (2012: 6.43)

June 16

June 23

WATERMELON PRICES

SHIPPING POINT: CENTRAL AND SOUTH FLORIDA PRODUCT LOW 24-inch bins, seeded (28s) $.11 24-inch bins, seedless (36s) $.21

YEAR

TO DATE 14.06 (2012: 9.84)

Community starts with neighbors who care.

HIGH $.12 $.22

June 29

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

June 8

I PC

PL E

0.06

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62 63 64 68 69 71 72 73 75 76 77 79 81 85 86 87 88 89 90 92 93 94 98 100 101 102 103 105 108 109 110 113 115 118 119

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06.20.13 Plant City Observer