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You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.


OUR TOWN + Chamber names ag award winners The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce Agri-Business Committee announced recently this year’s agriculture award winners. The winners are: Agriculturist of the Year: Steven C. Mathis Ag Educator of the Year: Emily Petrilli Agri-Business of the Year: Wish Farms Supporter of Youth in Agriculture: Jon Poppell “We are pleased to be able to recognize these outstanding individuals and businesses,” said committee chair Debbie Simpson. “Their contributions make a significant difference to the agriculture industry in Plant City and Hillsborough County.” The awards will be presented at the Salute to Agriculture Contact Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at the Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr. Agricultural Show Center, 2301 W. Oak Ave., Plant City. Cost for the breakfast is $15 per person. RSVP required by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. For reservations, call the chamber, (813) 754-3707.

Nicole Bristol competed in the National America Miss Pageant July 14, in Orlando. “She did fantastic at the pageant,” her mother, Jeanne, says. “She was very nervous but came through very well.” Bristol has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with visual and auditory hallucinations. She competed in the pageant to inspire other girls and help with the anxiety.



Elvis competition Motocross rider takes center stage Dylan Varn speeds in Plant City. to Red Bull race.

See inside for this week’s photo contest winner.




new businesses


by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

PetSmart, Michaels, Ross open

Welcome NI HAO

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Plant City shoppers now have three new businesses in town. PetsMart’s grand opening will be July 27. Plant City shoppers now have several new options to spend their hard-earned dollars. Michaels and Ross Dress for Less both opened last weekend, at Lake Walden Square. PetSmart joined them this week and will hold a grand opening July 27. The stores are located at the Lake Walden Square shopping center on West Alexander Street and are the plaza’s major tenants. Ohio-based DDR is acting as the plaza’s management company.


Amber Jurgensen

Greg and Sharon Ours are delighted to have students Wang Qiushui and Chen Kexuan in their home.

The Ours family, along with 20 other Plant City families, have been hosting Chinese exchange students since July 17.

W + Plant City teen shines on stage

free • thursday, JULY 25, 2013

hen a bus packed with 33 international students pulled up to Eastside Baptist Church, July 17, the driver excitedly honked the horn. A group of host families waiting in the parking lot were just as enthusiastic. They held decorated signs with the names of their students and cheered as the students filed off the bus. The students — all from China — are part of Educational First’s Homestay Program. Since 1979, the non-profit has arranged escorted group travel for more than 140,000 international students. In the United States, the program operates in Florida, California, New York and Washington. In Plant City, the students already have begun to experience all the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World has to offer. They also attend school at

Eastside Baptist Church. For the host families, the experience is one they will never forget. The Ours family is hosting two students for the first time. They were among the families excitedly awaiting the arrival of their students, Chen Kexuan, 14, and Wang Qiushui, 16. Both from China, their names translate to Cayla and Margaret. The Ours couldn’t wait to take the girls for 10 days, to their home off Knights Griffin Road. Sharon and Greg Ours first heard about the program when a leader from the school came to their church, Bethany Baptist, to recruit host families. “We thought it sounded really wonderful,” Sharon said. “And we have the two best students.” Sitting around a dining-


Educational First’s Homestay Program is in need of host families every summer. A group of Chinese students will return in July 2014, to Eastside Baptist Church. Host families must be able to provide a bed, meals and transportation to the school. Contact Program Leader Suzy Stone, (813) 763-5346 or suzy., or Site Director Kelli Chestnut, (863) 9441235. For more information, visit


Matt Mauney

The new Michaels in Plant City features a classroom for weekly classes, workshops and children’s birthday parties.


INDEX Cops Corner..........5

Michaels, an arts and crafts store, is located in a 13,500-squarefoot space on the south side of the old Kmart building. Michaels was the first of the three to open for business, with a soft opening July 18, including a ribbon-cutting as the newest member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce. The store held its grand opening July 21, with door prizes and giveaways, along with a regional country music station conducting a live broadcast. “We want to have a local flair here,” Store Manager Debbie Conley said. “We love it here in Plant City and are happy to be a part of this community.” The store offers a wide selection of arts and crafts and home décor products, along with framing services. Michaels also will offer a kids

Vol. 2, No. 4 | One section

Classifieds......... 15

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

Sports................ 11

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013

ruff day by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Courtesy photo

Bella was hit by a car July 13, on State Road 60. Now, she needs a $4,000 surgery.

Uncle Mike’s owners rescue injured dog Plant City resident Simone Tolley saw the dog hit by a car on State Road 60. Now, the Tolleys are raising money for a much-needed surgery.

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With a new baby on the way and a new Plant City restaurant opening next month, it is safe to say restaurateurs Michael and Simone Tolley have full plates. But, that isn’t stopping them from helping a furry friend in need. The couple, owners of Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse, has spearheaded a campaign to help a dog that was hit by a Emergency Care car July 13, on State Road 60. Fundraiser for Together with The Brethren Bella of St. Francis Animal ResWHEN: 11 a.m. cue, the Tolleys will host the Sunday, Aug. 4 Emergency Care Fundraiser WHERE: Harleyfor Bella at 11 a.m. Sunday, Davidson of Brandon, Aug. 4, at Harley-Davidson 9841 Adamo Drive of Brandon, 9841 Adamo COST: $5 voluntary Drive. The event will include donation at gate live music, a silent auction, bike wash and more. DETAILS: The event “We really need to keep will include live music, people aware of her so that a silent auction, bike she can get money for her wash and more. surgery,” Michael said. “I sure feel good knowing she HOW TO HELP has a chance.” If you can’t make it It was about 10:30 p.m. to Sunday’s event, July 13, when Michael got anyone interested an alarming call from Simin donating to help one. She had just left Uncle with medical costs Mike’s, in Brandon, and was can call Blue Pearl heading home to Plant City. Veterinary Partners, That’s when her heart (813) 571-3303. broke. Reference Bella of As she drove on State Road The Brethren of St. 60, she saw the car in front Francis. of her hit a dog. The dog was catapulted into a ditch. The driver didn’t stop. “She’s eight months pregnant, so she was hysterical,” Michael said of his wife. Simone begged him to look for the dog on his way home from the restaurant. When Michael left the restaurant at about 2 a.m., he expected to find the body of the dog. He drove the area, circling around trying to spot the body. But, just as he was about to give up, he saw the dog. Tromping through the brush, Michael’s flashlight hit the dog, still alive. She lifted her head toward him and, amazingly, let Michael pick her up. He rushed her to an all-night veterinary clinic, where doctors evaluated the matted ball of fur. At first, they thought she had head trauma and would have to be put down. But after further inspection, they realized they could save her with surgery. The price: $4,000. The Tolleys took to Facebook and posted photos of the dog, whom the staff at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners named “Bella.” “The biggest concern right now is to raise money for her surgery,” Michael said. Contact Amber Jurgensen at

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013

DEVELOPMENT by Michael Eng | Managing Editor



governance by Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Walden Lake’s zoning Walden Lake Golf & Country Club General Manager Steve Mercer has discussed plans for potential redevelopment of the community’s golf courses and country club. But so far, no plans have been submitted to Plant City for review. In the past month, Walden Lake residents have united in a stance against any potential redevelopment of their community’s golf courses and country club. They fear changing the amenities to town homes will affect their property values, and some say the current conditions of the courses already have done so. However, although General Manager Steve Mercer has indi-

cated a desire to redevelop, so far, Visions Golf LLC, the owner of the country club, has yet to file any formal rezone requests. “No plans have been submitted, nor any applications filed, by the owners of the Walden Lake Golf & Country Club to change the zoning or amend the city’s Comprehensive Plan,” City Manager Greg Horwedel said last week.

When and if a plan is filed, it will be evaluated by city staff and, later, city commissioners, regarding its compatibility with existing land uses and Walden Lake’s Community Unit zoning designation. Depending on the type of proposal and what kind of changes it would require to the land use and zoning, the approval process could take as long as three years, Horwedel said.



Development in Walden Lake is governed by the general site development plan of the Walden Lake Community Unit District, which was approved by the Plant City Commission. The general site development plan specifically indicates an area for the golf course, country club and driving range. Any uses other than those as shown on the general site development plan will require the owner to petition the city for a rezoning to modify the Walden Lake Community Unit District. Community Unit Districts now are referred to as Planned Development Districts.

“There is not an overall cap for the number of homes listed in the Walden Lake Community Unit District,” said Mark Hudson, principal planner at the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission. “However, the Walden Lake Community Unit District does limit the overall density to five dwellings per gross acre. “The general site-development plan specifically indicates an area for the golf course, country club and driving range,” he said. “Any uses other than those will require the owner to petition the city for a rezoning to modify the Walden Lake Community Unit District.”

CHANGING LAND-USE DESIGNATION Property owners who want to change the land-use designation on their property are required to submit an application to the city. Planning staff will review any proposal to modify the land use designation under the Comprehensive Plan. If staff determines the proposed modified use(s) are not allowed under the current land-use designation, then the owner would be advised he or she must apply for an amendment to the future land-use map.  City staff then would coordinate with staff at the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission and the property owner to process the

proposed future land-use map amendment. In general, map amendments encompassing 10 acres or more require eight to 10 months to process. Adoption of any plan amendment would require a number of public hearings: Plant City Planning Board (one hearing), Hillsborough County Planning Commission (one hearing), and the Plant City Commission (two hearings).  The two hearings by the City Commission would be several months apart. Public input can be given at each hearing. Property owners within 250 feet of the property proposed for the future land use change will be notified of these hearing dates. 

CHANGING A PROPERTY’S ZONING DESIGNATION City staff processes such requests (assuming the proposed rezoning or change to a Community Unit is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan’s future land-use designation for the property). Generally, the rezoning process takes about four to six months, depending on the complexity of the proposed zoning change. At least two public hearings are required for approval: Plant City Planning Board (one hearing) and the City Commission (one hearing). Public input can be given at each hearing. Property owners within 150 feet of the property proposed to be rezoned

will be notified of the hearing dates. Signs notifying the public of hearing dates also will be placed on the property proposed for rezoning.  Finally, based upon staff’s initial assessment of the traffic that could be generated by a proposed rezoning, applicants seeking the zoning change may also be required to pay for a formal transportation analysis. This likely would add additional time to review and evaluate the rezoning. 


The city’s Comprehensive Plan indicates the current future land-use designation for the vast majority of the Walden Lake Community Unit District is Residential-6. This land use designation covers all areas of Walden Lake Golf & Country Club.  A partial description of uses that may be allowed in Residential-6 is as follows: “Single-family homes on individual lots are the predominant use in these areas, although other housing and development approaches can also be integrated at lower densities. Residential development within Residential-6 will be no more than six units per gross acre. Neighborhood parks, scenic open space, institutional uses (e.g. churches) and public facilities serving neighborhood residents are often integral parts of these residential areas.”

DOES A TOWNHOME SCENARIO FIT WITHIN THE RESIDENTIAL-6 LAND-USE DESIGNATION? “It is impossible to give a definitive response without an actual proposal to properly evaluate,” said Mark Hudson, principal planner at the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission. “In general, townhomes may be considered within a future land use designation of Residential-6. However, homes developed within this land use category are limited to a density of six dwellings per gross acre.”

Michael Eng

This image of ‘Game of Thrones’ character The Hound soon may be removed from Plant City.

Commissioners advocate for bench removal City Commissioner Billy Keel said he’s received numerous complaints from residents about the benches.

If Plant City commissioners have their way, the menacing bench advertisement featuring “Game of Thrones” character The Hound soon will be removed from James L. Redman Parkway. Along with every other Metro bench in the city. Commissioners directed city staff July 22, to draft a document to terminate the city’s longtime licensing agreement with Metropolitan Systems Inc., the company that maintains the benches and sells advertising on them. The termination document will be reviewed formally at the commission’s Aug. 12 meeting. Commissioner Billy Keel first broached the subject, after he received several complaints about the benches. Many of the benches have been placed within the right-of-way, and some even sit on city sidewalks. Residents have argued the benches exist solely as vehicles for advertising, with no benefit to the Plant City community. Furthermore, with no bus service operating in Plant City, the need for the benches is non-existent, they say. “Their placement is about advertising rather than general public use,” Keel said. “I live and work in Plant City, and I have yet to see one person sitting on one of these benches.” Commissioner Mike Sparkman echoed Keel’s thoughts and said the commission discussed the subject in 2001. However, at that time, a bus service was about to start in Plant City. “It’s in the best interest of Plant City that the city cancel and discontinue the service of these benches,” he said. The city’s agreement with Metropolitan Systems dates back to April 1978. Currently, there are 43 Metro benches within Plant City limits. At current advertising rates, city officials estimated the company was earning about $39,000 annually from ad revenue.

IN OTHER NEWS • Walden Lake resident Shelly Orrico presented a petition with more than 300 signatures to the Plant City Commission. The petition asks that commissioners oppose any rezoning of the community’s golf courses and country club. • The city has applied for a safety grant from the Florida Department of Transportation for crosswalk improvements on Cherry Street at HCC’s Plant City Campus. The city should know by midSeptember whether it will receive the grant. However, Metro representative Andrew Moos disagreed with that estimation and said ad revenue from the Plant City benches totals about $5,400 to $8,400, annually. He did not provide year-by-year revenue statements to the city. Revenue from the bench advertising has benefited the Plant City Lions Club since 2001. Metro donated $1,200 annually from 2001 to May 2011. In June 2011, it increased that donation to $150 per month. In May 2013, it increased it to $250 per month. Those donations would cease if the benches are removed. “Obviously, it would hurt and would give us less money to pass back to the community,” said longtime Lion Coleman Davis. However, Davis said he would support the will of his elected city leaders. “Any dollar we do not receive will be missed,” he said. “But, I’m a team player, and whatever the City Commission thinks is best for the community is what I’m for.” Contact Michael Eng at

Plant city observer

We’ve really learned a lot from them. They’ve been the inspiration of two of my sales meetings. ... We take for granted a lot of things here in America. — Greg Ours

EASTSIDE TRADITION Eastside Baptist Church has a school that has received a group of Chinese students for the past two summers. Last year, the church hosted students from ages 9 to 12. This year, the students are older — 13 to 17. berry cookies for a family gathering the Ours hosted. “American food is different for us,” Cayla said. Their favorite food so far has been peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches they take to school every day. The Ours originally were supposed to host one male student. But Sharon wanted a girl, so she could bond with Haley. When the program was short on host families, the Ours were asked to take two girls. Cayla and Margaret didn’t know each other before the trip. In addition to bonding with their host families, they also have become quick friends. “She’s cute,” Margaret said of Cayla. “She’s friendly and smart,” Cayla said back. Although Margaret will be too old for the program next year, the Ours have invited Cayla back to their home, along with her younger sister. The girls leave July 28, for a week in New York, and then depart Aug. 5, for China. “I would encourage the program to other families,” Sharon said. “It’s not only an experience for the girls, but (also) they have taught us so much.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

summer camp called “Passport to Imagination,” which will be renamed “Passport to Plant City.” The camp will involve representatives from Dinosaur World, the Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association and Bruton Memorial Library. Other weekly events and classes also will be offered, including scrapbooking, knit crochet and cake decorating. The store features a creative classroom for classes and workshops. The room is also available for children’s birthday parties.


Located at the north end of the old Kmart building, Ross sits in 22,045 square feet of space. The discount retailer carries namebrand clothing, accessories, home décor and beauty products. The chain boasts more than 1,100 stores in 33 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam. Ross gives Plant City shoppers another retail department store option. Bealls, which has a department store, 2104 James L. Redman Parkway, and an outlet, 1407 S. Collins St., in Plant City, was the only similar chain option prior to Ross’ opening.


PetSmart is located next to Sally’s Beauty Supply. The 12,492 square feet store is one of nearly 1,300 stores nationwide. “We’re here to provide the community with their pet needs for the lifetime of their pet,” Store Manager Kevin Wolf said. “We have a huge selection of cat and dog toys and treats along with premium food that you can’t just find anywhere.” The location also sells fish, birds, reptiles and other small an-

NEW STORES Michaels ADDRESS: 229 W. Alexander St. PHONE: 752-4891 HOURS: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays WEBSITE:

Ross Dress for Less ADDRESS: 223 W. Alexander St. PHONE: 752-7271 HOURS: 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays WEBSITE:

PetSmart ADDRESS: 211 W. Alexander St. PHONE: 703-6961 GRAND OPENING: July 27 HOURS: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays WEBSITE: imals. Cats are available for adoption seven days a week, and dogs will be available for adoption on weekends. The Plant City location will offer many of the company’s staple services, including professional grooming and dog training. PetSmart opened for business earlier this week and will hold a grand opening July 27, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. Mystery PetSmart gift cards for the first 50 customers will be given, with values up to $50. Contact Matt Mauney at



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room table, Cayla and Margaret blush and giggle when Sharon compliments them. The girls have just gotten home from dinner after a 10-hour school day. Although they are tired, they don’t seem to mind the length of their day. In China, Margaret goes to school from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Cayla goes even longer, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The girls are excited to be part of the program, which emphasizes language and American culture. “Our English speaking is improving, and (we are) learning a lot of American lifestyle and culture,” Cayla said. Cayla and Margaret haven’t been the only ones learning on their trip. “We’ve really learned a lot from them,” Greg said. “They’ve been the inspiration of two of my sales meetings. ... We take for granted a lot of things here in America.” Program Leader Suzy Stone agrees. She hosted three boys, two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old. “It’s so interesting to learn from them,” Stone said. The students don’t spend all day with their heads buried in books. After their studies in the morning, the students enjoy a variety of field trips to experi-

ence American culture firsthand. So far, they have gone to the beach and toured, via boat, a small island off the coast. There, they saw people fishing and dolphins. On their first day in town, the students went to the Florida Aquarium, where they got to touch a starfish. “Margaret loves animals,” Sharon said. “She’s our animallover of the bunch.” Margaret also got the chance to pet a parrot at Busch Gardens. Sharon and Greg, along with their two children, Vinny, 24, and Haley, 18, took a family trip to the amusement park. After the bird show, Margaret went to talk to the trainer, who let her touch the exotic animal. “We saw a lot of animals,” Cayla said. The kangaroo exhibit was Cayla’s favorite. However, the girls opted not to ride the roller coasters. The girls also got to see a lot of local sites. The Ours took them to Fred’s Southern Kitchen. They also took the girls to church for the first time. They loved the music but aren’t accustomed to religious services. Cayla’s grandmother is Buddhist, and the family goes to temple once a year, for the new year. Margaret’s family doesn’t go to temple at all. One night, the girls made blueberry muffins and straw-



THURSDAY, July 25, 2013



Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013




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



2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft. An officer responded, after receiving a call that a white male and white female were running from the store after shoplifting merchandise. The suspects split up outside the store. The male suspect, who had $49.76 in stolen merchandise on him, was able to evade loss prevention. The female suspect was captured after a short foot pursuit and was taken in custody. A search incident to arrest yielded a syringe with residue of methamphetamine. She was arrested and transported to Orient Road Jail.


4100 block of West State Road 574. Criminal Mischief. An unknown Hispanic male left the bar. He appeared to be extremely intoxicated. The victim and bouncers watched the suspect, as he started walking in between vehicles, apparently looking for his. The male then walked to the driver’s side of the victim’s vehicle and smashed the window. The male then walked to a silver SUV and drove away. The damaged window is valued at about $100.



1510 block of Plantation Grove Court. Theft/Fraudulent Use of Debit Card. The victim advised that sometime between 5 p.m. July 5, and 10 a.m. July 6, an unknown suspect took her Suncoast Schools Credit Union credit card from her wallet and about $35 in cash. Her wallet was last seen at her residence. At this time, at least three unauthorized charges at various McDonald’s, valued at about $70, were made without her authorization.



1800 block of West Lowry Avenue. Shooting into Occupied Conveyance/Aggravated Battery. Officers responded to the address, in reference to shots fired. The victim stated he was working in the yard when he was approached by several Hispanic males. The males asked, “What set do you claim?” He responded, “I’m not a gang member; get the [expletive] off



1210 block of Goldfinch Drive. Criminal Mischief. The victim discovered an unknown person had lodged a rubber hose in her gas tank. The gas tank was still full, so no fuel had been taken, but the hose had become permanently lodged in the gas tank, causing damage to her vehicle. 

my property.” Two of the males walked toward him and started to hit him repeatedly. The victim stated he was holding a bottle of drain cleaner. The victim said he feared for his life, so he threw the drain cleaner on the main aggressor; it landed on the male’s face and left side of his body. The suspects left in a white Dodge Dakota king cab truck and a black Nissan truck. The vehicles circled the block several times and shot several rounds at the victim’s house. The victim said the vehicles were occupied by Hispanic and black males. Officers collected 13 spent shell casings from the crime scene. A short while later, it was learned that a Hispanic male was seeking treatment for chemical burns at South Florida Baptist Hospital. A detective responded, and the suspect was arrested for aggravated battery. The suspect was not charged with the shooting, because there were no witnesses placing him at the scene with a gun. The suspect was treated and released from the hospital. He was transported to Orient Road Jail.



Intersection of Waller and Renfro streets. Battery. The victim stated he runs in the area every day. On the day of the incident, he saw a group of males hanging out. An unknown male said something to him as he passed by. He stopped, and a black male punched him in the face. The male was about 5-foot-5 and chubby. He had never seen the male before. Officers circulated the area but could not locate the suspect.

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Plant city observer


by Gil Gott | Plant City Photo Archives & History Center

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013

strong storm by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Afternoon tornado strikes mobile home park in Dover The July 17 storm destroyed one home and damaged several others at Shady Oaks Mobile Home Park. No one was injured.

Plant City Photo Archives receives WWII Japanese flag A tattered, bullet-riddled World War II Japanese flag has been donated to the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center for its collection and display. The flag was acquired by U.S. Army infantryman Pfc. William Henry Isaac Jr., in January 1943, at the Battle of Guadalcanal. Isaac was in a firefight in jungle terrain and shot a Japanese sniper out of a tree. The fallen soldier had a flag wrapped around him, and Isaac removed it as a reminder. The Guadalcanal Campaign was noted as the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Japanese forces. After the battle, Isaac, who had been stricken with malaria, turned the flag over to his commander. After the War Department determined the writing on the flag consisted of only notes

of best wishes from the Japanese soldier’s friends, the flag was returned to Isaac. Isaac enlisted in 1939, and landed Dec. 26, 1942, on Guadalcanal as Army divisions reinforced the war-weary Marine divisions. The Battle of Guadalcanal ended Feb. 9, 1943. Isaac received two campaign stars for his actions on Guadalcanal and in New Georgia in the Solomon Island group. After the war ended, he was discharged in 1946, and returned to Schenectady, N.Y. He later moved to Florida. The flag, now cleaned and framed, was given to his daughter, Betty Bush, a Plant City resident, who recently donated it to the Photo Archives and History Center for display during its veterans exhibits.

Homeowner Ana Ramirez was in the home with four others at the time of incident. No injuries were reported. “It looked and sounded like a tornado,” Ramirez said. “The wind was very heavy.” Property Manager Scott Hofner was about 20 minutes from Shady Oaks when the tornado hit. “The police were saying that it was a tornado, and that’s what people here have been saying,” Hofner said. “I’ve never seen this community look like this. Thank God no one was hurt.” Shady Oaks contains 13 trailers. According to Hofner, four people lived in Ramirez’s home.

Photos by Matt Mauney

The storm flooded the Shady Oaks mobile home park, causing damage to several homes and vehicles.

No injuries or deaths have been reported. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.

A reported tornado touched down at about 5 p.m. July 17, in Dover, destroying this trailer in Shady Oaks park. Several other trailers and vehicles were damaged.


Your Hometown Property Management Company 40 years in Plant City Philip Balliet - Manager

(813) 752-5262

Post Office Box 1118 • Plant City, FL 33584 117399


Courtesy of the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center

Flag donor Betty Bush and Photo Archives Executive Director Gil Gott

Communities in Dover are recovering from damage sustained from a July 17 tornado. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reported a twister touched down at about 5 p.m. July 17, in Dover. The storm knocked out power to residents and business in the area. Several fallen trees and limbs caused damages to properties, including significant damage to a mobile home in Shady Oaks Mobile Home Park, 12640 Jess Walden Road. The storm caused severe damage to the park, including destroying a home near the front of the complex after a large tree fell on the west wing of the trailer.

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013




by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Plant City High’s Class of 2003 plans 10-year reunion The festivities will take place from July 26 to 28.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, July 26 WHERE: Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse, 9847 E. Adamo Drive, Brandon

KICKBALL TOURNAMENT AND FAMILY DAY WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27 WHERE: Mike E. Sansone Park, 1702 N. Park Road, Plant City

RECEPTION WHEN: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 27 WHERE: Sun ‘n Fun Museum, 4175 Medulla Road, Lakeland

BRUNCH WHEN: 10 a.m. Sunday, July 28 WHERE: Hilton Garden Inn Lakeland, 3839 Don Emerson Drive, Lakeland

TICKETS Tickets are available at collect-page/11216. Send your photos and post-graduation bio to pchs2003. For more information, visit sites.

Hope Lutheran Church 2001 N. Park Road, Plant City 813-752-4622 FREE music CD with online registration*: (*One free CD per family/household while supplies last)

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Plant City High School’s Class of 2003 will celebrate its 10-year reunion this weekend with a plethora of activities. Carrying a “Travel” theme, the reunion not only will be a chance to celebrate high school years but also how far the Class of 2003 has gone post-graduation. “A lot of people have left Plant City and have been traveling to different places,” organizer Christina Kruse said. Kruse is one of them. She has been living in Puerto Rico for two years working in the hospitality industry. Kruse hasn’t been back to Plant City since she left to go to college at the University of West Florida. “I definitely think 10-year reunions are important,” Kruse said. “Unfortunately, we live in a Facebook world. A lot of contact you make with old friends on Facebook is superficial. “It will be good to see them face to face,” Kruse said. “It’s an aspect of human life. You don’t want to live on a computer.” The reunion will kick off with a casual event July 26, at Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse, in Brandon. The gathering will start at 7 p.m., and children are welcome. A cornhole tournament and line dancing will begin at 8 p.m. “We just thought it’d be a fun location,” Kruse said. “It’s casual. Wear your boots; wear your jeans; bring the kids.” The fun continues the next day, with a family day and kickball tournament from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 27, at the Mike E. Sansone Community Park, in Plant City. There will be a bounce house for the kids. Later that evening, attendees will enjoy a semi-formal reception from 7 to 11 p.m., at the Sun ‘n Fun Museum, in Lakeland. Southern-style food will be served, and Plant City alum Casey Stidham will perform live music. The reunion will conclude with a brunch at 10 a.m. July 28, at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Lakeland. “If anyone stayed the night, you’re welcome to come have breakfast with us,” Kruse said. Kruse has been planning the reunion for months via Internet and telephone, and recruited a group of locals to help with the process. Each committee member was assigned a different event to organize. “We want people to come out and have a great time and reconnect,” Kruse said. “We were a pretty awesome class. A lot of us grew up together.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at

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THURSDAY, July 25, 2013



+ WLGCC owners: We will work with you

Editor’s note: This letter was originally published on Vision Golf LLC understands the concern and anxiety over the preliminary suggested changes with the golf courses, because they and the other amenities have been an integral part of this community since its beginning. As we move forward with our proposals, our intention is to work with the community to find what works best for all concerned. We know that change can cause some negative or positive results for different residents but hope the end result makes it a long-lasting fix to a problem that will not correct itself without some type of action. Part of the problem right now is that we have people spreading misinformation about our intentions — just to cause hysteria and panic and thinking this will result in actions that will benefit their personal desires. It also damages our business operations by stating we are closing our golf course and clubhouse permanently. This has caused potential customers to rethink their plans for holding events at the club and have cost us much-needed revenue. As a business, we cannot tolerate this type of reckless behavior and will respond accordingly.  We have always had plans to share our proposals with the community when they are more definitive, and that is coming shortly, but at this time, we would like to put some rumors and accusations to rest: • First, we have no plans to create any retail space on the property — other than a golf pro shop, banquet and meeting space and a snack bar/restaurant facility like we currently have at the clubhouse. We expect to build a new golf clubhouse with these same types of operations. The current clubhouse is in need of such major renovations, and, because of its age and dysfunctional layout, it is not feasible to renovate it; • Second, with regards to the property being covered with townhomes. We are not developers, and what type of housing that will best suit the market is determined by the developer/ builder that will develop the property. They will do the market research that will determine what works best, but we can say that the expectations are that there will be a mix of product of large single-family properties and condos/townhomes that are similar with other existing properties in the community. We want a new community that fits in like it has been here from the beginning, keeping that tradition of the “quiet exclusivity” of Walden Lake; and • Third, the rumor that all of the golf courses will be closed is so far from the truth, and it is only put out there to cause widespread community panic. We have a 36-hole golf operation spread out on 300 acres in the community. Our intent is to use a portion of the property for development, so we can generate capital resources to upgrade and maintain the remaining property. Our expectations are to end up with a premier 18-hole

golf course in a condition golfers will be proud of and excited to play and possibly a renovated nine-hole executive course that will benefit the youth and senior golfer in the community. We currently have the YMCA First Tee program operating here at the golf course and believe that program will benefit greatly from the new, shorter layout.  So, in the end, the community will have up to 27 holes of premium conditioned golf that will attract golfers from areas other than just this community. A smaller amount of exceptionally maintained golf is better than a lot of sub-par golf for the entire community — whether you border the courses or not. We can share some of the other expected benefits from this project for the entire community that will be coming out with our plan. We see a community center with meeting space and a community style pool and deck, a community gathering spot that Walden Lake currently does not have. This center could host programs and events, such as Fourth of July celebrations, fall festivals, or dancing under the stars on the pool deck. How about additional trails and parks for the whole community? We trade out a piece of the golf amenity, one that does not work and services less than 5% of the community, for new amenities that benefit the entire community plus a revered golf experience for the golfers. We hope, in the end, you can imagine the end result as we see it — a shiny new golf and country club, plus new community amenities that will make Walden Lake a celebrated place to live. We also want you to know that we are working on plans to provide those residents who will be affected the most (those who live adjacent to the part of the golf course being developed) a beautifully landscaped buffer that will help minimize the visual impact of losing their golf-course view. We do not take lightly what changes will come from the project for those residents. If there were another way we could meet the desired goals, we would pursue that direction We hope this information will help soothe some of your concerns. As things progress, we will do everything we can to keep you informed of what is happening with Walden Lake Golf & Country Club. Steve Mercer and partners Visions Golf LLC

+ City’s help welcome in golf-course battle Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Plant City Assistant to the City Manager Michael Karr. I want to thank you for the time you gave me earlier this week to speak to you regarding the present conditions of the Walden Lake Golf and Country Club, and the rumors being floated by the current owners about plans for a new “town center and development.” As we discussed, this is not about golf, golf-course home values or merely a “country club.” Walden Lake Golf & Country Club had been the jewel of a wonderful country town. Its publicized deterioration is adversely impacting all Plant City residents

beyond Walden Lake, other businesses in our town and threatens the overall tax-revenue base. Some have suggested that Plant City cannot sustain a 36hole golf course. To the contrary, having a well-run and well-maintained 36-hole facility should be an asset, a drawing card for more corporate sponsored outings. The current owners have not spoken at any of the public gatherings to date, and, therefore, it is difficult to know what is true or false. I would hope our civic leaders could make it known to the current owners that “rezoning” to solve their economic woes would have to be weighed against the economic interests of the community. I would like to suggest to our community leaders, that in the event the facility is once again up for sale, in the hands of an outof-town bank, or if the current owners still have an interest, that our civic leaders be prepared to consider other options to rezoning, such as: • A city/private partnership that would stabilize the venue, and assure the residents that the property will not be rezoned for years to come. One consideration could be for the city to purchase the property and lease it back to private operators with guidelines. A one-time “voluntary assessment” from interested citizens to “Save Our Walden” could be considered. Hopefully, such a partnership would provide a ROI to the city in various ways; or • Explore a partnership with the Tampa Bay Sports Authority, which was founded for just such an endeavor — would give folks from Tampa an opportunity to come to our fine hometown. I recommend everyone review the charter of the sports authority and its experience at operating golf courses. This can be found at tampa-sports-authority/tsabackground. We all know that economic times are tough all over the country. Those communities that can work together to attract new residents, keep long-term residents, attract new businesses, keep successful businesses and attract visitors to enjoy their communities will rise above economic hard times. Individuals, businesses or cities that don’t confront the tough issues at hand and hide behind “times are tough” will wither away. Plant City has a lot of smart and creative people who I am sure could help to turn a “problem into an opportunity.” Donald Marshall Walden Lake

+ Relationships matter in Walden Lake dispute Dear Editor: I am a new resident of the Walden Lake community. I purchased a home in Walden Lake for the beauty of the area, proximity to Tampa and Disney, as well as having a golf course within the community. I wasn’t much impressed with the course when I bought here. As a matter of due diligence, I visited the clubhouse and had the opportunity to sit down and speak to Steve Mercer regarding the course, membership and future plans. I was not impressed with his demeanor, or his ransacked office and sitting area. He said times were tough and he had to lay off most of his office help. This was in the peak of the season. So, I was not depending on a beautiful golf course to go with my home purchase. My confusion is why the course

owners are not aggressively and passionately asking the community why they are not supporting the course. It may be that they don’t care. It may be that they have other agendas. Not sure what this may be — because I would think they would realize there is no separation between the community and the golf course — except in ownership. They depend on us, and we on them. This leads to a somewhat unpleasant story that may disclose to a degree the attitude of the ownership. I was playing golf at The Lakes course one Sunday morning. Had a tee time at 8:30 a.m. The front nine was backed up on first tee, so it was suggested that I go off the back nine, which I did. When I got to No. 11, I noticed a foursome crossing the bridge. They moved on rather quickly as I hit a few balls in the fairway. When I reached 12, there were several folks on the green — they asked if I wanted to play through — but they didn’t seem to be playing slowly. Because I was just working on my game, I declined. So, they went on, and as soon as they go off the green, I went ahead and hit a few on the green. By the time I got to the 15th hole, I noticed there were six or seven guys on the green. Took them a while to finish up, so I waited. When they cleared off the green, I hit a few up on the green. As I was making my way around the green, the starter drove by and asked if I wanted to play through. I told him I would probably just pass them up on the first tee. But, I asked him why they (the golf course) were allowing so many people to be playing together. Now, I have played a lot of golf and have never heard of such a thing — but the starter said they were playing a “special” game. I said something to the effect that I knew this golf course was in trouble and having problems getting people to play there, but that Sundays should be one of the busiest days of the week. This type of play may be one reason why folks didn’t play there. By now, the massive group was on the tee, and I hit my drive. When I got to the ball, I heard the guys on the green saying for me to play through. I hit up to the green. When I got there, I was lectured by one of the guys about whining to the starter and that they had asked me to play through. I told them I didn’t whine to the starter — just asked him why so many guys were playing together and that that causes slow play. Then another gentleman said, “I live here,” as if he could do whatever he wanted. I said I live here too — so what? Then, another man said, “Well, I own the golf course.” I figured there was no sense in bickering and moved on. But, it got me to thinking — that maybe the attitude of the ownership is just that. They own it, and they will do what they want. Also, familiarity breeds contempt. The current owners have become so familiar with the way the association functions and what their impression of what the association and community thinks, that they have become contemptuous with us and deem us unnecessary. This mentality works both ways. The problem is that their course is in our back yard. We may not own it, but we surround it. We can make it really easy for them — or really difficult. Much of that depends on the way we are treated by them. So, what will it be? Bob Norton Walden Lake

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013


by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

The King lives on at tribute competition Elvis Presley is always on these tribute performers’ minds. So much so that they entered the 11th Annual Elvis Tampa Bay Festival competition, held July 20,

at the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall, in Plant City The festival took place all day and included vendors with Elvis memorabilia and a Hawaiian-


beach bash by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

themed showcase in addition to the competition. This is the second year Plant City hosted the event. About 500 people attended this year.

Diana Jones and Jess Harmon Michael Rocca

Cody Wise

The competition organizers rocked Elvis shirts at this year’s event.

P.C. dancers show off smooth moves Members of the Plant City Social Dance Club brought a little sand and surf to Plant City during its beach-themed bash July 19, at Stardust Dance Center. Guests enjoyed plenty of music, fellowship and, of course, time on the dance floor.

John Zurenda and Annie Prand

Linda Feild and Al Schwenkel Paul Monroe

Right: Guests enjoyed live entertainment at the dance.

Brandy Ables, Sidné Goodwin and Mary Boehling enjoyed the show

Plant City EntErtainmEnt, inC. – PrESEntS –

a new Production of BOUBUl and SCHónBErG’S

Performance Dates:

July 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 and 28 Aug. 1, 2 & 3

Performances at 8:00 p.m. except July 28 matinee at 2:00 p.m. All performances at: 101 N. Thomas Street Plant City More information at:



Les Misérables is licensed by Music Theatre International (MTI) by arrangement with CAMERON MACKINTOSH LTD.


Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013


Terry P. Antrim, 78, of Plant City, died July 10, 2013, at home. Terry was born in St. Paul, Minn., and was a veteran of the U.S. Army. Survivors include his loving wife, Carol, and family and friends. A Celebration of Life will be held at noon July 27, at the clubhouse of The Meadows at CountryWood, 745 Arbor Estates Way, Plant City.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hospice or the ASPCA.  Online condolences may be made at

James Virgil ‘Poppy’ Boyles

James Virgil ‘Poppy’ Boyles, 77, of Valrico, died July 17, 2013, at Brandon Regional Hospital. He was born June 4, 1936, in Ridgeland, S.C. He was the husband of Rebecca Holt Boyles, who survives. Mr. Boyles was a salesman with Best Line Oil Company and a member of Brandon Christian Church and of Brandon Moose Lodge. He loved NASCAR, the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to his wife, Rebecca Holt Boyles, survivors include his sons, Fred Boyles, Kevin Jackson and James Beck; daughter, Sheri Jenkins; and grandchildren, Alec and Summer Jackson, Stephanie and Allie Beck, Taylor and Brittnay Jenkins and Mason Hayes. He was preceded in death by his son, Jimbo Boyles. A funeral service was held July 22, at Brandon Christian Church. Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome. com.

Nann Gibbs Fenner

Nann Gibbs Fenner, 78, of Plant City, died July 20, 2013. She was a proud alumna of Plant City High School’s Class of 1954 and a talented seamstress and artisan. She was a loving wife, mother and Nana. She is survived by her children, Ric Fenner (Margaret) and Jennifer Jackson; grandchildren, Rachael Varela (Eddy), Jacob Reilly (Jesi), Richard Fenner, Becky Schreffler (Andrew), Robert Fenner (Marcie), Natalie Jackson (Christopher) and Mallory Jackson; great-grandson, Eddy Varela IV; three sisters-in-law; and many nieces, nephews, family and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard “Dick” Fenner; and granddaughter, Samantha. A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. July 27, at Hopewell Funeral Home, 6005 C.R. 39 S., Plant City, where the family will receive friends beginning at 10 a.m. Interment to follow at Hopewell Memorial Gardens, Plant City. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Development Dept., LifePath Hospice, 12470 Telecom Drive, Suite 300, Temple Terrace, FL 33637. Online condolences may be made at

Juanita Bonnie Johnson

Juanita Bonnie Johnson, 86, of Plant City, died July 17, 2013. Born April 30, 1927, she was the daughter of the late Denver and Dorothy Deas DeVane. She was the wife of Howard Johnson, who survives. Mrs. Johnson attended First Thonotosassa Missionary Bap-

tist Church and loved flowers and crafts. In addition to her husband, Howard Johnson, survivors include her son, Larry Kerley (Marlene Young); daughters, Linda Gillispie (Terry) and Dawn Short (Ronald); step-sons, Howard Lee and Randy, Terry and Ronnie Johnson; 17 grandchildren; and many great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her brother, Clyde DeVane. Online condolences may be made at

Dessa Mae Linzy

Dessa Mae Linzy, 71, of Plant City, died July 15, 2013, at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. Born Sept. 27, 1941, in Fyffe, Ala., she was the daughter of the late Henry Rucks and the late Rosa Hicks Rucks. She is survived by her husband of 55 years, C. Ommer Linzy. Mrs. Linzy was the manager of the cosmetic and jewelry department at Plant City’s Walmart, attended Faith Temple Assembly of God and enjoyed crafts and bowling. In addition to her husband, C. Ommer Linzy, survivors include her daughters, Dell Shiver (Timothy) and Nancy Kelly (Mike); four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Online condolences may be made at

Michael A. Packanik

Michael A. Packanik, 89, of Plant City, and formerly of Neville Island, Pa., died July 17, 2013, at Sun City Center Hospice, in Ruskin.

Mr. Packanik was a resident of Neville Island for 60 years, before moving to Florida and was a longtime member of the St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in McKees Rocks, Pa. He was a U.S. Army veteran, who served during World War II. He retired from Blaw Knox Company, in 1992, after more than 30 years of service as an accountant. He was a school board director for Neville Island and Cornell School districts in the 1960s and 1970s. Survivors include his son, Dennis Packanik (Rosemary), of Plant City; grandchildren, Denise Bowman and Amy, Neal and Tyler Packanik; and great-grandchildren Lindsey and Anthony Parada, Autumn and Austin Cooper and Brooks and Jules Packanik. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Helen Makar Packanik; sisters, Jule (Packanik) Fedio, Helen (Packanik) Kasovich; and brother, Walter Packanik. The family has not planned any local services. Online condolences may be made at

Roland William Sweeney

Roland William Sweeney, 70, of Lakeland, died July 18, 2013, at home. Born March 5, 1943, in Laurel, Md., he was the son of the late Roland and Margaret Fowler Sweeney. He was the husband of Betty Morgan Sweeney, who survives. Mr. Sweeney was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and retired from the Prince George’s County (Md.) Fire Department. In addition to his wife, Betty Morgan Sweeney, survivors include his sons, Robert Starkey, John BoyerSweeney, Jared Boyer-Sweeney,

Charles Boyer III, Brandon Boyer and Chad Boyer; daughters, Dena Craig, Gay Deitch, Kelly Dunlap, Michelle Williams and Tracy Boyer; brother, Rudy Draper; sisters, Judith Sinclair, Patricia Denham and Susan Ramsey; and 12 grandchildren. Roland was preceded in death by his sisters, Jane Harris and Mary Ellen Kelly. A funeral service will be 11 a.m., July 25, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel, 708 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Interment will follow at 2 p.m. in Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell. Online condolences may be made at

Harry P. Toney

Harry P. Toney, 83, died July 12, 2013, of natural causes. Mr. Toney was born Nov. 9, 1929, in Buckingham County, Va. He was a custom homebuilder for more than 30 years in Central Florida. Survivors include his wife, Catherine; children, Marshall Toney, Harry Lee Toney, Bonnie Goolsby, Bob Toney, Cathy Delgado, Terri Carter and Sheri Douthit; 19 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his child, Dale Mason.   Family will receive guests from 2 to 4 p.m. July 28, at Lake James Clubhouse, 8118 Lake James Blvd., Lakeland. A brief memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please say a prayer for Mr. Toney and make donations to Alzheimer’s Association at, or Good Shepherd Hospice,

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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Crystal Johnson excels on and off the field. 13




by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Girls to hit gridiron for summer tourney

Big League Dreams has potential in Plant City Fifteen years after the Cincinnati Reds left the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, a major league ballpark may soon call Plant City home. OK, so technically, it’s not an actual major league park, but it will look like one — albeit a smaller version. After it received two request for proposals for a sale or longterm lease of Plant City Stadium, Plant MATT City will enter MAUNEY negotiations with the lone bidder — Big League Dreams Inc. The California-based company builds replicas of famous baseball stadiums, such as Boston’s Fenway Park, New York’s Yankee Stadium and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The stadiums are designed to accommodate a variety of sports, including youth baseball, youth fast-pitch softball and adult slow-pitch softball. Currently, the company operates parks in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas. If this deal goes through, Plant City will become the company’s first location in the Southeast. The company makes its profits on renting the stadiums to teams and tournaments that want to use the replica stadiums and fields. The Plant City Commission rejected April 22, a proposal from Big League Dreams, stating it lacked key information, specifically regarding the potential costs and benefits of the proposal to Plant City. The city then reissued its call for bids May 29, with responses due by 2 p.m. June 28. Again, Big League Dreams was the only bidder. City Manager Greg Horwedel said the city still is not ready to move ahead with the proposal as submitted but plans to work with the company. The goal, he said, is to come to a “mutuallyacceptable framework” on an agreement within 45 days. The specifics of the proposal are not known at this time, but Big League Dreams is no stranger to having an interest in Plant City. The city approved in October 2011, a 30-year license agreement with the company. Before that approval, city staff spent 18 months reviewing Big League Dream’s operations in


The fourth annual Plant City Flag Football Tournament will bring some of the best high school teams from around the state to Ellis Methvin Park.


by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor Matt Mauney

Dylan Varn, 10, practices both in Lakeland and on two tracks his dad built on their property in Plant City.



Since flag football became an official sport under the FHSAA in 2006, Plant City High has been one of the winningest programs in the state. For the past three years, head coach Larry Langston has held a summer tournament for high school teams to tune up and stay in shape before the school year begins. Since its inception, the tournament has become a summer tradition for Langston and his team. “We try to attract the top teams in the state,” Langston said. “You’ll see the teams that regularly make the state playoffs playing in tournaments like this. We want to be in that class of teams, and being able to host a tournament like this is great for our program.” Nine teams will participate in the fourth annual Plant City Flag Football Tournament, which is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Flag Football Association, in which Langston has been involved for 21 years and has led for the past 11. The two-day tournament begins July 27 with pool play and continues on July 28, with a single elimination tournament. In the past, the tournament has been


Dylan Varn, 10, already has one amateur national title and will look for another next week at the Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Dylan Varn isn’t your typical 10-year-old. At just 4 years old, the Plant City resident learned how to ride a bicycle, a typical feat for a young boy. But two years earlier, he began riding a more powerful bike — and he hasn’t stopped since. “He learned how to ride his motorcycle before his regular bicycle,” his mom, Leslie, said. The same year he started to ride a bicycle, Dylan began riding dirt bikes competitively, starting on flat dirt tracks and later graduating to motocross tracks. “My whole family has been racing basically their whole life, and I watched my dad race one time,

and I knew I wanted to race,” Dylan said. “I like that I get to follow in my family’s footsteps and get to do something they did.” When he was 5, Dylan won his first race in Dade City. In 2010, he became an AMA national champion, winning the 4-6 division at the Amateur National Motocross Championship, at Loretta Lynn Ranch, in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. After failing to qualify the past two years, Dylan is back in the field for the 32nd Annual Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, after finishing fifth at regionals against some of the top young riders from around the southeast. Dylan and his family leave

for Tennessee this weekend for the weeklong event, at which Dylan will compete in three races against 39 of the best riders in the nation in the 7-9 division.


As with any sport, to be be a successful motocross rider takes a high level of determination and a demanding practice schedule. Dylan works both with his dad, P.J., and Vince Devane, in Lakeland, to prepare for competitions. Dylan’s practice schedule includes three to four 30-minute sessions each day, along with 50 pushups and at least 100 sit-ups


Matt Mauney

The Plant City flag football team is one of the winningest programs in the county.

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013

year,” Langston said about his PCHS team competing in their upcoming tournament Aug. 10 and 11, in West Boca Raton. “You’re seeing more and more of these successful programs running tournaments. The ideal situation would be to have teams from all the regions of Florida run a big tournament through the summer.” The trip east will be the first overnighter for PCHS, something that Langston feels will be a good team-bonding experience. “We’ve got a lot of veteran players but also a lot of young and maturing players,” he said. “This trip will be good for all the girls.”

Fourth Annual Plant City Flag Football Tournament WHEN: July 27 and 28. Games begin at 9 a.m. each day. WHERE: Ellis Methvin Park; 2401 E. Cherry St. Teams: Alonso (two teams), Robinson, Bloomingdale, Plant City High, Lakewood (St. Pete), Seminole Ridge, West Palm and a combined team of Brandon, East Bay and Durant.



held at Otis M. Andrews Park, but this year, all games will be played at the nearby Ellis Methvin complex, next to the Plant City public tennis courts. “This tournament is all about giving the teams some reps and live action,” Langston said. “With it being summer and between the weather and kids being involved with other things, getting out to play a few competitive games is needed.”

Plant City will enter the spring 2014 season with a different outlook. The FHSAA released a tentative district realignment July 11, for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. If approved, the realignment would have Plant City and Durant in separate districts for the first time. Plant City would be in District 12, with Armwood, Brandon, King, Middleton, Strawberry Crest and Tampa Bay Tech. Durant would be in a tough District 13, with Bloomingdale, East Bay, Lennard, Newsome, Riverview and Spoto. “Obviously, you want to play your rival,” Langston said about Durant. “The girls and their families know each other. A lot of them grew up together or went to the same middle school or go to church together now. You want that kind of familiarity each season with your rival.” PCHS and Durant also have battled it out for the district title since 2007, including


In addition to some of the best teams in the county, including Robinson and Bloomingdale, Seminole Ridge High (West Palm Beach) once again will compete in the tournament. Seminole Ridge has won the state championship the past two seasons and has participated in the summer tournament in Plant City since its inception. “They’ve been good to us the last few years, so we want to return the favor this

Matt Mauney

Seminole Ridge, the 2012 and 2013 state champion, will once again participate in the Plant City Flag Football Tournament. Seminole Ridge defeated Plant City High in last year’s tournament during pool play. last spring’s championship game. Durant won its first and only district title in 2007, while the Lady Raiders won in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Those five titles are tied with East Bay for the most in Hillsborough County. In addition to nine district games, teams are allowed up to three non-district opponents. “I don’t foresee us not scheduling Durant next season,” Langston said. Langston added he would like other non-

district games to be against quality opponents. “I want us to play as competitive of a schedule as possible,” he said. Plant City will return several playmakers, including quarterback Avery Brown and receivers Samantha Black and Stephanie Galloway. Langston also said JV quarterback Kellen Morris will be playing center this spring. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@


each night before bed. When he isn’t riding on one of two tracks on his family’s property in Plant City, Dylan works with Devane at one of his tracks in Lakeland. “He’s really helped me a lot with my riding,” Dylan said. “He (Devane) is focused on his riding and his mental state of mind, where I mainly work with him on his physical fitness,” P.J. said. “Vince also makes him watch what he eats, and, obviously, hydration is a big issue right now.” After competing in the 7-8 division on 50cc bikes the last few years, Dylan will compete in the 7-9 division on 65cc bikes at this year’s national. “With the faster bikes, I felt weird the first time I got on it,” he said. “But the more I rode, I got better and started jumping more things and got more comfortable.” At this year’s national, Dylan hopes to have a similar results as his 2010 performance, when he won all three races and the overall national title. “I knew I was going to win,” he said of the series. “I just had that feeling in my heart.” Dylan crossed the finish line of the first race 40 seconds ahead of second place. After winning the second race, he had secured the overall win, but Dylan was determined to win the third race, as well. “In my last moto, my dad was telling me to slow down, but I wasn’t slowing down,” Dylan said. “I wanted him to slow down, because he was pushing really hard,” P.J. said. “It was the last lap, and I knew we had the overall, and that was way more important than crashing and throwing it all away.” Dylan did crash on the last lap and was passed by another rider, but he was able to recover and pass the opponent on the finish line in a photo finish to take first, securing his perfect score.


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Like gymnastics or swimming, motocross is a sport in which athletes often hit their peaks in their teenage years and into their early- to mid-20s. “You don’t see a whole lot of older motocross riders,” P.J. said. Riders can turn pro as young as 16. “I want to be like James Stewart or Ricky Carmichael, because I really looked up to them,” Dylan said. “They went pro and each won at least 15 championships.” Both Stewart and Carmichael are local riders, with Stewart residing in Haines City and Carmichael from Clearwater. With travel, bike maintenance and other costs, motocross is an expensive sport and lifestyle, but Dylan’s parents said they are happy to make the sacrifice for their son. “In motocross, a lot of people think that it’s the parents pushing the kids, but there’s been times that we’ve begged him to stop,” Leslie said. “He just doesn’t want to, and that’s his choice.” Recently, Dylan received his first sponsorship offer from Cobra Motorcycles. The better he performs, the more financial assistance the sponsor will give, including gear, bikes and needs. “I want him to achieve all the goals he wants to achieve,” P.J. said. “I want him to go as far as his talent and our wallet will take him. I want him to go pro, if that’s what he wants to do, and we’re going to support him all the way.” Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013

slam dunk by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

ATHLETE of the week


by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Plant City High scores with CRYSTAL JOHNSON sixth annual basketball camp

Cade Denhoff, 10, hustled down the court.

Don’t be fooled by her size. Crystal Johnson, a rising junior at Plant City High, is a talented multi-sport athlete. Johnson is a varsity cheerleader and flag football player at PCHS. She also excels in the classroom and currently is dual-enrolled at Hillsborough County Community College this summer.

The third session of the sixth annual Raiders Coed Basketball Camp concluded July 25, at Plant City High School. A total of 66 boys and girls, ages 7 to 14, participated in the camp, which was led by PCHS boys head coach Dale Chambers and his staff. Current and former players also helped with running drills and officiating games. The camp splits players by their age, size and playing ability to create a fun and fostering experience. The four-day camp included skill stations, 3-on-3 games, 5-on-5 games and different basketball contests.

How long have you been cheering?

I just started my freshman year and have been doing it since. What got you into it?

I always wanted to cheer since I was little, but when I was younger, I always did soccer, basketball and flag football, so I just stuck with those. When I got to high school, I figured I’d try it out. What was your first impressions of cheering?

It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I really got into it and have created some great friendships through it. What do you like about being a flyer?

It’s fun, and I like it, but it definitely takes a lot of trust, because it can be scary being up there. Chase Hudson and Brent Williams covered Chase’s twin brother, Jordan, on this play. Left: Mozart St. Brun guarded Madison Hood during this drill.

other states. Under the agreement, Plant City would pay Big League Dreams a $450,000 licensing fee to ensure the company did not build a similar location within a 40-mile-by-30-mile oval around Plant City Stadium. It is not yet known how those details would fit into a potential lease agreement, but it seems safe to say that if Big League Dreams comes to Plant City, it would be the only thing of its kind in the area, which could attract teams from all throughout Tampa Bay, Lakeland and Central Florida. Baseball is huge here. The city has produced major league players, such as Kenny Rogers (Plant City High) and Ryan Raburn (Durant), as well as future stars, including Durant’s Tyler Danish. But youth baseball really shines in Plant City. Year after year, Little League All-Star teams rack

up district and sectional titles. The 11-12 team just won its third consecutive sectional tournament and hopes to follow suit in the state tournament on its quest to Williamsport, Pa., and the Little League World Series. Although Big League Dreams offers options for adults, the focus is youth baseball and softball. The replica stadiums act as a novelty for young players, who may never get a chance to play in the real Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. With the top-notch facilities in Plant City, the city already attracts large youth tournaments from organizations such as Global Sports Alliance. Plant City also is attractive to collegiate teams, as well, and has been the home to College Club Baseball’s spring training for the past several years. Adding a replica big league ballpark to the mix will continue and grow that trend. The lease of Plant City Stadium, a 6,700-seat facility that origi-


nally served as the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds, also includes the Randy L. Larson Four-Plex. With an existing stadium and 75 total acres of property, Big League Dreams would have potential to add projects after adapting Plant City Stadium into one of its replica fields. With this deal imminent, it seems that pro soccer in Plant City will come to an end. VisionPro Sports Institute, which is leasing the stadium through at least August as the home venue for a United Soccer League professional team and three affiliate teams, decided not to make a proposal on the latest bid, after reportedly missing the deadline of the first bid. I’ll have more on that in next week’s Show Me the Mauney. In the meantime, we can all start envisioning what Plant City Stadium would look like with a green monster in left field or with ivy covering the outfield wall.

I played since I was 7 in the rec league, and I was just always good at it. The referees would always call me “Smurf,” because I was so little and so fast. I just loved it, so I knew I wanted to tryout when I got to high school.

I just started this summer. How has that been going so far?

It’s really good to be able to do that, because I can already get a year-and-a-half of college out of the way by the time I get to college. I wish I started it earlier, but I heard of it through a friend and just thought that it would be a good thing to do. What’s your goal for college after you graduate?

I know I want to do something in the field of psychology, because I think it’s really interesting how the mind works. Actually, one of my HCC classes got me more interested in that. It’s something really interesting to me, and something I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of.

What position do you play?

I’m a rusher. What do you like about that position?

I like that I’m able to control what happens. Everybody works together, but you can still make a difference with your play, and I like how that works.

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Plant city observer

THURSDAY, July 25, 2013

Plant City






July 17





Thurs., July 25 Fri., July 26 Sat., July 27 Sun., July 28 Mon., July 29 Tues., July 30 Wed., July 31


July 19



July 20



High Low 91 75 88 75 88 75 91 73 93 73 93 73 91 73

July 21

sunrise/sunset times


Sunrise Sunset Thurs., July 25 6:47 a.m. 8:23 p.m. Fri., July 26 6:48 a.m. 8:22 p.m. Sat., July 27 6:48 a.m. 8:22 p.m. Sun., July 28 6:49 a.m. 8:21 p.m. Mon., July 29 6:49 a.m. 8:21 p.m. Tues., July 30 6:50 a.m. 8:20 p.m. Wed., July 31 6:50 a.m. 8:19 p.m.


July 22



July 23





Community starts with neighbors who care.

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ACROSS 1 “Friends” friend 5 ___ Allan Poe 10 Greek letter after rho 15 Padlocked fastener 19 ___ snuff (adequate) 20 Sandy color 21 Snake or sumfinder 22 “Render ___ Caesar ...” 23 Assigned new digits to 25 Noted celebrityroast host 27 Kin on the mother’s side 28 Said “Not guilty,” e.g. 29 They break in the morning 30 Bat one’s eyelashes, perhaps 31 Chance occurrences 33 90-degree angles 35 Ready and willing companion? 37 Persistently annoying people 41 Once known as 42 Classical Greek verb tense 46 Neutral tone 47 Shoestring 49 “Miracle on Ice” losing team 52 Legendary collie 53 “The Great Escape” setting 55 Cotton gin inventor Whitney 57 Oft-burned breakfast item 59 NHL legend Bobby 60 What you need after a breakdown 61 Renowned crooner 65 Ed of “Daniel Boone” 66 ___ Lanka 67 Annoy greatly

68 Spanish or western 130 Acts like a hot dog 131 Long way from tidy 69 “With friends like 132 Takes advantage of ___ ...” 70 Watts or Campbell 72 Glass vial (var.) dOwn 73 WWII sub 1 De ___ (by law) 75 Mythical breastplate 2 Welcoming customers 77 Job, and then some 3 Europe’s highest 79 “Norma” number active volcano 80 Cheerleader’s shout 4 Like kids’ 83 Calcium-rich soil enthusiasm 84 “Ocean’s Eleven” 5 Recede, as the tide actor 6 Like some divers 86 Slick, as streets in 7 Young miss winter 8 “The African Queen” screenwriter 87 Id companion James 88 Raymond Burr TV 9 Begin to blush role 10 Horse riders’ seats 89 Flowery island 11 “Don’t get any funny welcome ___!” 90 Washing aid for 12 Aussie greeting pupils 13 Brainy organization 92 Destroys gradually 14 Thing up one’s 94 Oldest Smurf sleeve 15 Moundsmen 97 Spoiled, 16 “No” voter disobedient child 17 Turnkey’s workplace 99 Romantic occasion 18 Bridge over the 100 Thaw once again Seine? 101 Tyler of 24 A good one is “Armageddon” square 103 Involved by 26 Displaying necessity buoyancy 32 Plymouth colonizer 105 Primer application 34 You can spend it in 107 Hauling vehicle Romania 108 Pepper’s partner? 36 Extremely light 109 Argue one’s case wood 112 Whit or wee bit 37 Heroes’ exploits 114 Ball of yarn 38 He might be in a 117 “The ___ Man” cast (Charlton Heston 39 Formal reception film) area 40 Movie sequence 121 Jr. who sang “The 43 Having equal Candy Man” dimensions or 123 Official with a measurements stopwatch 44 Equine dads 125 Hair salon sound 45 Not wordy 126 “Flashdance” singer 48 Big game animal Cara 50 Buy some time 127 Accustom to 51 Mechanical memorization hardship 54 Bushy hairstyles 128 ___ the wiser 56 Chemical “twin” 129 Ink

58 Conductor Toscanini 62 “___ Adventures in Wonderland” 63 Force into motion 64 Relating to the nervous system 65 “I caught you!” 69 Fawning flatterer 71 Require doctoring, e.g. 72 Concert venue, perhaps 74 Square cap worn by ecclesiastics 75 One spelling for an Islamic ruler 76 Tidal bore 78 At the acme of 79 Belching flames, e.g. 81 Keen, as perception 82 Overpromoted 84 Angel hair on a plate 85 Spider’s trap 88 Song feature 91 It has Copy and Paste commands 93 Folds up the tent and pulls up the stakes 95 Tickles one’s fancy 96 Point, as a pistol 98 No one has all of them 102 Target of a practical joke 104 Hand cream ingredient 106 Princess topper 107 Time served 109 Soft “Hey, you!” 110 “Sweater Girl” Turner 111 Give off, as light 113 Kiln kin 115 “Come here often?” is one 116 Down Under birds 118 Poetry on a grand theme 119 DNA sequence 120 Mythical Greek god 122 Ballroom dancing move 124 Lock opener


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Save up to $100


WHEN YOU SPEND THIS: $59-$99 $100-$199 $200-$299 $300-$399 $400-$499 $500-$699 $700-$899 $900 or more

YOU WlLL SAVE THIS: $10 $15 $25 $35 $40 $50 $75 $100

get up to



mail-in rebates when you buy four select tires

Expires 8/31/13

On these name brands:

May not be combined with any other offers or discounts. Excludes tires.

(800) 240 - 0856

Se Habla Español


Photos for illustration purpose only. Residency restrictions may apply with FMCC. *Cash back varies by model W.A.C. Ford rebates assigned to dealer offer ends 7/31/2013. CPO Warranty’s warrant a $100.00 deductible. 1.9% WAC, CPO units only.* All rebates and cash bonus WAC. See dealer for details. Prices Plus tax tag and $499 dealer fee. 0% APR Financing with approved credit thru FMCC. Prices may include FMCC cash and trade assist cash. “6500 Rebate on F150 XLT include trade assist, fi nancing with FMCC. Cash back by model. WAC. Rebates assigned to Dealer Jarrett Scott Ford’s pricing does not include your cash or trade equity. Our prices are based on Jarrett Scott Ford’s deep discounts less Ford customer cash and FMCC.

2000 East Baker St. Plant City, FL 33563

at Jarrett-Scott Ford

Service Hours Mon. - Fri. 7am - 7pm Sat. 7am - 3pm 117393

2000 East Baker St. ~


Jarrett Scott Ford’s pricing does not include your cash or trade equity. Our prices are based on Jarrett Scott Ford’s deep discounts less Ford customer cash and FMCC.



0% APR or up to $6,500 Rebates


We are here for you and your family.

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

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


“Banking on a First Name Basis”

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

07.25.13 Plant City Observer  

07.25.13 Plant City Observer

07.25.13 Plant City Observer  

07.25.13 Plant City Observer