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Plant City Times &







Local makeup artist primps Bucs cheerleaders.

Mystery dinner theater is a hometown hit.

Marco Martinez gets his chance on the field.





GOVERNANCE by Emily Topper | Staff Writer

Tentative Plant City budget allocates funds for chamber At the Sept. 15 City Commission meeting, city leaders reviewed the tentative budget for the FY 2015-16.

+ Festival selects 2016 theme The 2016 Florida Strawberry Festival has its theme: Royal Fun for Everyone! The Florida Strawberry Festival released the theme for its 81st annual event Tuesday, Sept. 15, “Our festival and the city of Plant City hold the strawberry in high regard,” General Manager Paul Davis said. “So we thought it would be fitting to play off of that with a theme portraying the strawberry as royalty.” A new theme is created for each year’s festival to offer patrons a glimpse of the experience they will have at the 11-day event. It also unifies vendors, FFA chapters, organizations, corporate partners and exhibitors who create parade floats and displays throughout the event, Davis said. “We feel like this is a theme that our community will really enjoy,” Davis said.

If the tentative budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year is approved at the Monday, Sept. 28, City Commission meeting, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce will continue to be financially supported, in part, by the City of Plant City. “We think the chamber’s doing an outstanding job in our community,” Mayor Rick Lott

said. The tentative budget was reviewed at the City Commission meeting Monday, Sept. 15. The funds set aside for the chamber total $65,000. They are part of $116,000 from the general fund that will be awarded to different Plant City organizations, such as

the Improvement League of Plant City and the 1914 Plant City High School Community Building. The City Commission will review the funding for the chamber each fiscal year as the city prepares the budget. An additional $175,000 will be awarded to Plant City’s Economic Development Corpora-

tion for marketing purposes. This summer, Commissioner Mike Sparkman asked for a breakdown from the chamber on how the money it receives from the city is spent. If the chamber hadn’t focused the funds on economic development, he wanted to put the funds into the EDC instead. The chamber was not able to provide a line-item budget of the funds.

Fancy Farms owner Carl Grooms grew up on a strawberry farm. He started Fancy Farms with 74 acres and named it “Fancy” for his wife.


This week’s winner is

Jim Todd

See his photo on PAGE 17.

(same as 2014-15)




step pay plan employees)



Red Rose rezone meeting rescheduled Because a sign was not posted to let residents know about the Sept. 10 meeting, another one will be held Oct. 8.

Photos by Amber Jurgensen and Karen Berry

Grower Carl Grooms has hired about 50 H2-A temporary agriculture workers to help with the bed making process. He plans to hire 50 more when its time to plant and 50 for picking.

Bed shaping is just the beginning of strawberry season.



by Amber Jurgensen Managing Editor

Start of the

elix Ramirez keeps both hands on the wheel of his John Deere tractor as he sits above the rows of dirt at a 15-acre Fancy Farms field in east Plant City. The field is tucked in the back corner of the 110-acre strawberry operation, and on Friday, Sept. 11, it is the focus of the farm.



+ Christmas Lane needs performers Christmas Lane is now accepting applications for singers and groups to entertain the crowds each night of Christmas Lane. A large stage and professional crew will support the acts. Interested applicants may download forms at Christmas Lane’s newly designed website, ChristmasLane. org, and return forms to ChristmasLaneEntertain The final performance schedule will be announced Friday, Oct. 9. Performer and chaperone tickets will be mailed Monday, Nov. 9. Christmas Lane will be at the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall this holiday season. The lighted tradition has been held at 2091 S. Wooten Road in Dover for decades by strawberry grower Lane Wetherington.



AGRICULTURE by Amber Jurgensen | Managing Editor



Strawberry season has started — or at least the preparation for it has. Ramirez, 28, bumps up and down the flattened field to make beds, two at a time, with his tractor. Unlike some of the tractors in farm owner Carl Grooms’ fleet, Ramirez’s tractor doesn’t have a satellite to ensure

the machine is rolling in a precise, straight line. Ramirez has to do it the oldfashioned way. “I love my job, man,” Ramirez says. “Playing with big toys. Getting paid to drive these big tractors.”


The City of Plant City Planning Board has rescheduled a meeting for Thursday, Oct. 8, to decide whether or not to recommend rezoning the Red Rose Inn & Suites so that a drug rehabilitation center may operate there. The Planning Board held a meeting Thursday, Sept. 10, and voted 3-1 to make a recommendation in favor of the rezoning. But after an investigation into a statement made by a resident during public comment, it was found that signs were not posted with information about the meeting, as is protocol. “Why wasn’t there ever a sign posted on the (Red Rose) property to let the residents know?” Robert Willaford asked the board. Willaford passes the Red Rose everyday while he goes


QUESTIONS? Residents can contact the City of Plant City’s Zoning and Planning Division with their questions at (813) 659-4200 ext. 4125. MEETING WHEN: 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 8 WHERE: City Hall, 302 W. Reynolds St.

STRAWBERRY GROWING TIMELINE Shape the beds, lay plastic SEPTEMBER Fluff and flatten fields

Bulk of berries come in

Finish planting OCTOBER Punch holes, plant seeds





Start picking


Florida Strawberry Festival

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

Vol. 3, No. 7 | One section Crossword....................17







Palmer St. (813) 754-3707. The Gathering First Church Service — takes place beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Parkway Baptist Church, 4305 James Redman Parkway. The new church is planting in Plant City and is reaching out to create a younger congregation. For more information visit

JD Lewis Live! — live music from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at Keel and Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752- 9100. Orange Crush Tailgate Party — takes place from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at Plant City High School, 1 Raider Place. Come out and show support for the PCHS Raiders football team with a tailgate party before the game starts at 7:30 p.m. Chickfil-a sandwiches will be served at each game. Y Family Matters Series — takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at Plant City Family YMCA, 1507 YMCA Place. The first class is called “I’m Married, Now What.” A marriage and family counselor will speak. Free and open to the public. RSVP to J.D. Simmons at (813) 757-6677 or

SATURDAY, SEPT. 19 CPR Class — takes place beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Hopewell Baptist Church, 6001 County Road 39. EMS Chief Jim Wilson with Plant City Fire Rescue will train attendees. For more information or to sign up call the Hopewell Baptist Church office at (813) 7373053.

BEST BET First Annual Duck Derby — takes place beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill, 1701 S. Alexander St. Race fire breathing rubber duckies. Proceeds will benefit Faces of Courage and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. There will also be a silent auction and lottery tree. (813) 7648818. Groove Sharks Live! — live music from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Keel and Curley Winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752- 9100. Mud Titan — elite wave begins at 9:10 a.m., with other waves to follow, Saturday, Sept. 19, at 1500 Prevatt Road. Pet Adoption and Family Day — takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Tractor Supply Co., 1803 James Redman Parkway. There


Turkey Creek Alumni GetTogether — takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Arthur Boring Civic Center on the Florida Strawberry Festival Grounds, 2406 W. Reynolds St. Over 300 people have signed up, and there will be suprises for everyone.


SCHS Music Department Golf Tournament — takes place beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Silverado Golf & Country Club, 36841 Clubhouse Drive, Zephyrhills. The cost is $75 per golfer, and there are also $50-hole sponsorships.

74th Anniversary of Lebanon Baptist Church — takes place beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, at Lebanon Baptist Church, 110 N. Forbes Road. There will be special music and former pastor Rev. Alvin Livingston will be bringing the morning message. A covered dish luncheon will follow the morning service. Contact Margaret Watson at (813) 7379350.

Strawberry Classic Car Show — takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, in Historic Downtown Plant City, 102 N.

Family & Friends Day Program — takes place beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, at St. James A.M.E Church, 5202

will be activities for families and their pets, including pet adoptions, bake sale, dog wash and cookout. (813) 707-1185.




To publicize your event in our Community Calendar, please send by mail: 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-A, Plant City, FL 33563; or by email: Photos are welcome. Deadline is noon Thursday.


Agricultural Center on the Florida Strawberry Festival Grounds, 2508 Oak Ave. The evening will include dinner, drinks, entertainment and auctions to benefit South Florida Baptist Hospital. (813) 7578478.

Crafternoon — takes place from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McLendon St. Children are invited to make crafts to take home. For grades kindergarten through fifth. (813) 757-9215 ext. 24.

Relay for Life Kickoff— takes place beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, at Plant City’s First Baptist Church, 503 N. Palmer St. Enjoy dinner and sign up your team for the holiday-themed event.


Understanding Social Security — takes place from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, at Edward Jones, 2501 Thonotosassa Road. The event is hosted by Edward Jones Financial Adviser Melissa Haskins, and the guest speaker will be Dan Cronin, regional vice president of Transamerica. Dinner will be served. To reserve a space for you and a guest call (813) 7591491 no later than Tuesday, Sept. 22.

86th Street, Progress Village, Tampa. Plant City’s Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church is hosting a worship service. Send offerings to 1115 W. Madison St.

CareFest Planning Meeting — takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the 1914 Building, 605 N. Collins St. On Sept. 26, churches, organizations, businesses, clubs and individuals will gather to help complete service projects, such as home renovation, for disabled, elderly and sick community members. A light lunch will be provided at the meeting. Learn more or volunteer by attending the meeting. Contact Karen Collins at (813) 659-4209 or kcollins@

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24 Diamonds and Denim — takes place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Charlie Grimes Family



FRIDAY, SEPT. 25 Paint N’ Sip — takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at The Corner Store, 121 E. Reynolds St. Paint a picture on canvas while enjoying a glass of wine and refreshments. An instructor will guide the class. Tickets at Market/EatWellOrDie.


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RAISE THE ROOF by Emily Topper | Staff Writer

Parkesdale Farm Market undergoing renovations This summer is the first time the roof has been replaced in the market’s history. For years, Parkesdale Farm Market has been the go-to produce emporium for Plant City residents. What started as a fruit stand in 1968 has grown to a community staple that sells fresh fruit and vegetables, plants, shortcake and milkshakes. But Parkesdale patrons who have visited the market on West Baker Street in the last few weeks might have noticed some big changes. In August, the market began replacing its tin roof with an A-frame roof. This is the first time the roof has been replaced since the market’s inception. “They never expected it

would last this long,” Jim Meeks III said. His father, Jim Meeks II, took over the family business in 1978. “When we got here eight years ago, we just started doing little things as we could afford them,” Jim Meeks III said. The roof, which is expected to be completed in about two weeks, took two years of savings. Still, it’s something that Jim Meeks III believes will be beneficial for the market. Tin roofs, such as the original Parkesdale roof, tend to hold water. An A-frame over the market also will produce more light and better airflow.

Although the process is now running smoothly, the construction team did face some issues caused by summer storms. It took two trucks of cement to set the poles necessary to begin the renovation, as the rain ruined any progress the team made. Since Jim Meeks III began making improvements to Parkesdale eight years ago, he has had the potholes in the parking lot filled and added more seating at the back of the market. The market’s greenhouse and bathrooms were also renovated last summer. When Jim Meeks III began managing Parkesdale, he and his family considered knocking down the original market and building a newer one. The idea didn’t last very long.

Emily Topper

The new roof is an A-frame style. There is one inspection left, but the project is expected to be completed within the next few weeks. “It would have lost the character and the charm,” Jim Meeks III said. “We didn’t

MAKEUP GAME by Jose Lozoyo | Staff Intern

Beauty School

KNOCKOUT Professional makeup artist Dee Dee Cardenas has transformed the looks of many, from Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders to 2015 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Samantha Sun. She will be hosting a makeup master class at Focus 4 Beauty Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20, to share some of her top beauty secrets. Although her job as a professional makeup artist has taken her all over the United States, Cardenas found her love for cosmetology in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. “I was always around glitz and glam, and at some point I realized it was a hobby for me,” Cardenas said. “I’d like to say I was somewhat brainwashed by my mom because she always had me in pageants since I was 3.” One of those pageants was Little Miss Plant City, which Cardenas won in 1995. In high school, her friends always asked her for makeup advice, and her peers quickly noticed her passion for makeup. Cardenas became the go-to makeup artist for events like homecoming, prom and pageants.  After high school, Cardenas enrolled at Paul Mitchell The School, in Tampa, to pursue a career in the field of hair and makeup.  When she graduated from Paul Mitchell, she was hired at MAC and became certified. She credits MAC for polishing the skills she already had. It didn’t take long for Cardenas to land herself a serious gig as the lead makeup artist in a Channelside fashion show when she was just 19. “The fashion show was very fulfilling to me, and that was when I realized that I had chosen the right path,” Cardenas said. Since then, her work has been seen on billboards, advertisements on the walls of Tampa’s International Plaza, commercials and on the faces of music recording artists. Working with the Bucs cheerleaders started when she was an assistant for another makeup artist at a Bucs cheerleaders photo shoot. “It was very unexpected and last minute, and I jumped at the amazing opportunity,” Cardenas said. Two days later, Cardenas was contacted by the cheer manager, who was impressed with her work. Since then, Cardenas has been contracted for four football seasons. Her work for the Bucs includes doing makeup for the home games. “The home games are always fun because they remind me of pep rallies when I was in high school,” Cardenas said.  Another one of her duties is being a makeup artist for the

Focus 4 Beauty and professional makeup artist Dee Dee Cardenas have teamed up to bring hands-on education to future professionals before entering the beauty industry.

want to lose that. It would be like starting over.” Jim Meeks III, who has two

NEWS BRIEFS + Kidnapping suspects arrested Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives arrested two alleged kidnapping suspects at a Dover home Wednesday, Sept. 9. At 12:49 p.m., detectives received Miguel Quijada a phone call from the 32-year-old victim, who told detectives she was being held against her will until a debt of $200 Vidal Quijada was paid. The suspects, Miguel Quijada, 29, and Vidal Quijada, 36, both of Dover, originally took her to Miley Road, but detectives were able to find her at 3080 Nelson Ave., in Dover. Detectives arrested two suspects and charged them with kidnapping and false imprisonment.

+ City manager to hold meetings for community

THE MAKEUP MASTER CLASS WHEN: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20 WHERE: Focus 4 Beauty, 631 E. Alexander St. PRICE: $200; $100 if student CONTACT: Courtesy photo

Dee Dee Cardenas knew she loved cosmetology when she started doing makeup for her friends for prom, homecoming and pageants. cheerleaders’ week-long calendar photo shoot. “It’s my favorite part because we all go to the beach and hangout,” Cardenas said. “It’s hard work all week long, but it’s also a vacation. How many people can say they have a job like that?” She always looks forward to the iconic calendar coming out. “It’s very gratifying to see my work in print that will be seen by thousands of people,” Cardenas said. Some of the cheerleaders have become close friends with Cardenas. She’s even done work for them on a personal level. This year she did makeup for four of the cheerleaders’ weddings.  Now she’s back in her own city to teach aspiring makeup artists hands-on training as they are starting out.  “If makeup wasn’t my pas-

sion, teaching would be,” Cardenas said. The idea for the makeup class came to Cardenas when she realized she could be both a makeup artist and a teacher at the same time. The very first class was at the Tampa Bay History Center last year. After seeing it succeed, she decided to move the class to where her passion all started: her hometown. Cosmetology school Focus 4 Beauty was the perfect place to host her class. “It’s an absolute pleasure and it’s very refreshing to be a part of a school that has the beauty industry and their students as their first priority,” Cardenas said. Focus 4 Beauty student Marina Conde remembers being inspired by Cardenas’ work while seeing it on the internet when she was 13. Conde has already attended one of

Cardenas’ classes. “She is a super-talented artist, who is both knowledgable and is hungry for the beauty industry,” Conde said. “What sets Dee Dee aside from other artists is she genuinely loves what she does. Her goal with a guest is to make them feel beautiful by changing their natural beauty rather then hiding it behind makeup.” As for the future, Cardenas is letting her career take a life of its own by not having concrete plans. “I live every day by putting my faith in God, and he has always blessed my career,” Cardenas said. “Eventually, I’d like to travel and pursue some bigger opportunities, but it’s always been a goal of mine to come back to the Tampa Bay area when I’m ready to settle down. Right now, though, its all about the makeup game.”

young daughters, hopes that the business will remain in the family for at least one more generation. As roof renovations get closer to completion, he has started thinking of the market’s next projects. The greenhouse ceiling will be raised and combined with the new A-frame. Customers can look forward to new grocery items too. Parkesdale will begin selling strawberry plants Thursday, Oct. 1, and the market began selling new jams and jellies this summer. Other specialty items include blue cheese stuffed olives and a strawberry serrano hot sauce. Contact Emily Topper at etopper@plantcityobserver. com.

Mike Herr, city manager of the City of Plant City, will be holding open meetings for community members. The informal sessions will take place quarterly and offer residents, clubs, organizations and more a chance to talk with Herr and other city leadership officials. The first meeting in the series is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Plant City Police Department, 1 Police Center Drive. Subsequent sessions will be posted on the website,, including the date, time and location of each session. The meetings will be held at various locations throughout the city, including Bruton Memorial Library, the Recreation & Parks office and other locations best suited to reaching the many business and neighborhood communities. Typically, the sessions will be held during the work week from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., or in the evenings, depending upon the needs of the community.

+ New WLCA board member appointed Lynn Bueher was appointed as a board member of the Walden Lake Community Association during a board of directors special meeting held Tuesday, Sept. 8. Buehler is replacing David Sollenberger, who resigned last month because he is moving out of state. Buehler is retired from the United States Navy and subsequently was employed as an IT project manager for several contracting firms. He completed a 10-year career as a senior project manager at IBM, where he was assigned to several different business areas. Buehler

has lived in Walden Lake for 15 years and has two grown children and three grandchildren living in the Tampa Bay area. Current board director retired U.S. Army Col. Daniel P. Orrico was voted to the position of vice president for the WLCA.

+ Deputies run over hornets nest Two environmental Enforcement Section deputies were on four wheelers at English Creek Preserve when they ran over a hornets nest on the ground Wednesday, Sept. 9. At about 9:15 a.m., the deputies were on routine patrol inside the park looking for abandoned vehicles and trespassers when they ran over the nest. Roy Johnson, 38, was stung multiple times and treated at the scene by EMS. Dean Cary, 53, was not injured.  Johnson is a 14-year veteran, and Cary is a 24-year veteran. English Creek Preserve is located near the Highway 60 and County Line Road intersection in Plant City.


At a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Florida Strawberry Festival board of directors voted to elect Jim Scott as the festival’s new associate director. The associate director position has been vacant since June. Scott has actively volunteered with the festival’s information services and serves as the co-chair of the festival’s ambassador team. As an assistant director, Scott will join the group of 30 individuals who oversee the 11-day Florida Strawberry Festival. There are 16 associate directors and 14 directors. “Jim Scott is an outstanding individual who donates a lot of his time to the festival and other community causes,” Florida Strawberry Festival General Manager Paul Davis said in a statement. “He has served our community in various roles, and we’re thrilled to have him on as a partner.” Scott is the managing partner of Jarett-Scott Ford in Plant City.



IN OTHER NEWS The City Commission approved the city’s legislative priorities for 2016. One priority is to support funding from the Florida Department of Transportation to assist with creating quiet zones in Historic Downtown. If a quiet zone is developed, trains will go through downtown without blowing a whistle. The quiet zones will primarily be in the downtown and historic districts.

BUDGET / PAGE 1 “I think that’s very appropriate,” Commissioner Mike Sparkman said of the $175,000 set aside for the EDC. “On the chamber … I’m still debating what’s going to occur there.” The total proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is $66,312,812. Out of that, $27,235,168 makes up the general fund. The proposed budget is a $139,411 decrease from the previous fiscal year. Because economic development is a focus for the city, proposed projects for the upcoming year are central to the continued growth of the city. One is a third fire station. It will enter the design stages in 2016 and is planned to be 7,000 square feet. Construction costs, estimated at $1.9 million, will be part of the 2016-17 fiscal year budget. Currently, city leaders are looking at locations on Park Road for the new station, including Mike E. Sansone Park. The station is in anticipation of the Varrea housing development, which will consist of 2,640 single- and multi-family dwelling units in the northeast part of the city. “Our city is growing,” Herr said. “[We’re] trying to improve our response time city-wide.” The proposed budget also includes making sidewalks near schools safer. The cost is


A tractor will go over a field five or six times to flatten it.

Fancy Farms will plant Radiance and 127 Sweet Sensation strawberry varieties.

Farmhands arrive at the farm to work before sunrise.


Minimum wage for H2-A workers is $10.90.


UPCOMING CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS MIDTOWN WASTEWATER COLLECTION SYSTEM | Construction of a new gravity sewer collection system, wastewater lift station and force main to service the Midtown redevelopment project at a total cost of $600,000. WALLER STREET IMPROVEMENTS | Reduce flooding and run-off impacts for surrounding property owners, which includes curbing, drainage, water line relocation and new sidewalks. Engineering in 2015-16 and construction in 2016-17 will total over $1 million. RECLAIMED WATER STORAGE POND EXPANSION | Modify the existing water pond to increase storage. The project will cost $2.5 million in 2016-17 with 50% coming from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. MCINTOSH TRACT | Develop 263 acres of land into a passive recreational facility with trails, picnic areas and wildlife observation areas that will focus on three areas: natural resources preservation, recreational activities and wetland restoration. Construction costs of $100,000 over the next three fiscal years. FIRE STATION NO. 3 | Construction of a third fire station of 7,000 square feet. Design in 2015-16 and construction costs of $1.9 million in 2016-17. This will improve response times in all three response zones in city limits, help improve the city’s Insurance Service Organization rating and provide services for future growth, such as Varrea. SIDEWALK IMPROVEMENTS | Provide safe paths to elementary and middle school areas and create connectivity between various public buildings at a cost of $50,000 per year over the next four years.

BREAKDOWN BY ORGANIZATION Out of the general fund, $116,000 is budgeted for different Plant City organizations. Here are some of the organizations benefitting: Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce: $65,000 Improvement League of Plant City: $2,000 Black Heritage Celebration: $2,000 Christmas Parade: $2,000 1914 Plant City High School Community Center: $15,000 Boys & Girls Club of Plant City: $20,000 estimated at $50,000 per year over the next four years. The streets fund has started to decrease because of the number of recent improvements. In the upcoming year, a study will be done on roads, traffic and storm water maintenance. “I’m very happy with this

budget,” Lott said. “[We’re] maximizing the dollars available.” City commissioners will vote on the final budget at the next meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28. Contact Emily Topper at etopper@plantcityobserver. com.

RED ROSE / PAGE 1 into town from his north Plant City home on Joe McIntosh Road. He said he had never seen a sign. The Planning and Zoning Division will return Oct. 8 to make its presentation again, as well as Russell Ottenberg, a Planeng engineer working on behalf of the rezone applicant, Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services. Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services plans to purchase the Red Rose from owner Louis Spiro if the rezone application is approved by the City Commission. In the application, the 8.4acre motel on North Wheeler Street is proposed to be zoned from C-1A to Planned Development. The designation would allow for the shuttered Tampa Bay landmark to be used as a medical facility. Only the eastern half of the Red Rose would be used as a rehabilitation facility. It would house a maximum of 150 clients and employ around 100 people, including doctors, nurses, maintenance and cleaning staff, and administrative support. Clients seeking treatment would stay for about 30 to 35 days. “Our staff has worked with the applicant and have a lengthy list of restrictions that they will have to comply with,” Mark Hudson, director of Planning and Zoning with the City of Plant City, said. The main focus of those restrictions is security. Clients would have no interaction with the community unless they were taken by a behavioral health technician to outside Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. About 40% of the staff would be behavioral health technicians, who would act as big brothers or sisters to their clients, according to Bob Gannon, chief operating officer of White Sands Treatment Center in Fort Myers.

White Sands, owned by Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services, serves as a model for the Plant City rehabilitation facility. It has 72 beds and employs over 100 people. Other security measures include a 6-foot-tall vinyl fence around the eastern half of property, camera surveillance system, 24/7 staff supervision, and shuttles to pick up and drop off clients at the airport. The western half of the property would be used as administrative offices and living quarters for staff or visiting family members. Clients would not have access to this area. The Planning Board and residents who attended the meeting did have concerns about the proposed access point on Hillsboro Street to the western half of the facility. Hillsboro Street, a narrow twolane road, separates the Red Rose from a cemetery on the south side. “Hillsboro Street (at Wheeler Street) is a very bad intersection right now,” Willaford said. “If you’re going to put that there, you might as well put an ambulance station there.” Planning Board members agreed the road would need an analysis, especially after Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services proposed to open the once-grand ballroom on the western half of the property for the community to use for events and civic club meetings. There is also a possibility of renting out rooms in the western half. “That’s an undersized road, if I’m not mistaken,” board member Nate Kilton said. “I think that road would have to be brought to the same standards as other commercial areas. If the intent is just to have administrative offices and family visitations once in a while, then I have no concerns, but if there’s going to be community events or be rented out as a hotel, then I have concerns.” Resident Brenda Nichols


80: the number of rooms to be used by clients

150: the maximum num-

ber of clients 100: approximate number of employees 40: percent of behavioral health technicians 500,000: the amount of money Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services budgeted for improvements 6: the amount of feet the fence height around the eastern half will be 35: the maximum number of days a client will stay at the facility

was one of a handful of people who attended the meeting. She plans to return for the Oct. 8 meeting and any City Commission meetings where the rezone will be discussed. “Before any decision is made, there still needs to be more studies of the effects on the community,” Nichols said. “I think there’s questions that they need to answer. They need to get an in-depth synopsis on what the facility is going to do.” Nichols was watching TV three weeks ago when she learned there was a rezone application to allow a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in the Red Rose. “I was surprised,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well this is interesting. I’d like to know more.’” Although Nichols said she can’t make a decision either way with the information she was given, Willaford has made up his mind. “I don’t like that it’d be the first thing you see when you come into Plant City,” Willaford said. “I’m not against this type of facility … there has to be a better place to put this.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

SEASON / PAGE 1 The day starts before the sun rises for farmhands across Plant City. If strawberry growers want to plant at the end of September they need to have their fields flattened, beds made and plastic draped three weeks before the first seeds are dropped into the perforated, plastic holes punched on top of the beds. While farmhands are preparing the fields, they spray a fumigant to mix with the soil. It kills the weeds and enriches the soil, but they can’t plant for three weeks. Fancy Farms’ entire empire is 230 acres. Grooms has 120 acres at his home and 110 on fields he leases from another strawberry grower and a developer. The secluded 15 acres his farmhands are working on used to be a citrus grove that was slated to be developed into homes and then left abandoned for years. On a farm this size, the bedmaking and plastic-laying processes takes about a week and one half. On farms with around 1,000 acres, such as Astin Strawberry Exchange, the processes can take three weeks. Farmhands would have to do 75 acres a day to be ready to plant in time, according to Grooms. But even at a relatively smaller farm like Fancy Farms, Grooms says it cost about $30,000 per acre to operate.


Ramirez arrives at Fancy Farms at 6:15 a.m., one hour before the sun peaks over the oaks surrounding the fields. He prepares his tractor by filling the tanks with fumigant and fuel. Everything is “rocking n’ rolling” by 6:45 a.m. Ramirez recently has been given more responsibility by driving the tractor. It might not have a satellite, but it does have air conditioning. And a radio. A Spanish station murmurs in the background as he readies the green mammoth at the base of the field. Sometimes he laughs at the talkshow hosts. His supervisor can see him through the windows and often asks why he is laughing. “Just something they said on the radio,” Ramirez says. Two curved bed shapers are attached to the back of his tractor. He drags the shapers over the flattened field. The soil is funneled through and raised.

Amber Jurgensen

Felix Ramirez, 28, is a domestic worker. Many employees on the domestic crews return season after season, but Fancy Farms owner Carl Grooms hires different H2-A workers every year. Other farmhands follow behind to fill the crumbling holes in the beds with soil. Ramirez reaches the end and turns the tractor around to go over the new beds again. But before he can he has to wait for the farmhands to finish sealing the cracks. There are four crews, in designated yellow and blue shirts, working the field. Most are H-2A temporary workers from Mexico. Grooms hired about 50 to help with the beds and plastic. He’ll hire another 50 around planting time and another 50 during picking season. The farmhands filling the holes are from the H-2A program. Ramirez, who was born in Tampa and lives in Springhead, is a domestic worker. He inches his tractor up to give them a warning. They scatter as his tractor lurches forward to go over the beds for a final formation. This is the second step of preparation. The first is flattening the land. A tractor “fluffs” the fields with a scratching machine it drags behind it. The machine makes the soil loose and brings moisture to the surface. Then another tractor drags a roller over the soil to compress it. The “fluffed” soil looks darker next to the flat soil.

This is where the beds come in. After they’re formed, farmhands lay the plastic. One drives the tractor, and three ride behind on a platform attached to it to spool the plastic from a roll. Two farmhands on the ground hold the edge of the plastic — sometimes stomping it with their feet — to make sure it stays taut on the edge of the bed. This year Grooms ordered 450 rolls of plastic, each 2,425 feet. That’s over 1 million feet of plastic to cover his fields. It’s black plastic. The black attracts the sun’s rays and insulates the growing seeds in the soil below. For more sensitive produce, such as eggplants, white plastic is used.


It’s easy to spot Grooms watching at the edge of the field. The top of his shirt is unbuttoned in the Florida heat, and he has picked the dirt from under his long fingernails. After 43 years of farming, knowing when to start the preparation is instinct for him. “It’s in my head,” Grooms says. “Gut feeling. You just go with the flow of what you feel.” Grooms grew up on a strawberry farm. His father would give him and his brother 10 minutes from the time they got

ABOUT H-2A The H-2A program allows United States employers or agents, who meet specific regulatory requirements, to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fill temporary agricultural jobs. There are 68 countries that qualify. To get H-2A workers, employers must: Offer work that is seasonal or temporary Demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to do the work Show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. Generally, submit with the H-2A petition, a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. SOURCE: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

off the school bus to find him in the family’s fields. “We’d change our britches and grab a biscuit, stick our

thumb in the middle and fill the hole with syrup,” he says. Grooms has spent decades in the fields, but for some of his workers it’s their first time working the land. They have come to earn money to send home to their families in Mexico. Minimum wage is $10.90. “They look around — they look up at the sky, at the trees,” Ramirez says of the H-2A workers. “I ask them what they think. They speak dialect. They ask about the bugs. ‘What are they?’ I tell them, ‘Ants, ladybugs.’” Ramirez has worked at Fancy Farms for several years. This season, he knows what to expect. After the beds and plastic comes the planting. Holes will be punched in the plastic by a giant wheel with sharp pegs on the outer rim. Seeds are dropped into the holes. This year, Fancy Farms will be growing Radiance and 127 Sweet Sensation varieties. The planting will be complete in October. The plants will be ready for picking in November, with the bulk blooming in January and February. Ramirez will be there for it all. “It’s something a kid always has dreams doing,” he says. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.





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WOMEN AT WORK by Emily Topper | Staff Writer


Kevin O’Hare, the Woman’s Club scholarship recipient from Durant High School, gave an update on his studies at the University of Tampa and his future plans.

What celebrity would you like to meet?

Patricia Wolff

Amber Wenteler, 24 Paul Walker because he’s my favorite actor.

Hunter Paynter, 22 Zedd. He is partially deaf and still makes great music.

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Karli Marshall, 20 I’d meet Joe Strummer or Freddie Mercury because they were two of the most creative, talented musicians I’ve been exposed to.

Reagan Brownlee, 10 I want to meet Luke Bryan because even though he’s famous he can give you great advice, and he tells you to be yourself.

Woman’s Club of Plant City falls into new season The Woman’s Club of Plant City held its fall kickoff meeting Tuesday, Sept. 8, at the Woman’s Club, 1110 N. Wheeler St. At the meeting, club members discussed ongoing community projects, as well as upcoming events and fundraisers. Each board also gave updates, and the meeting was concluded with a salad luncheon.

President Nancy Miller

Pamela Tavarez, 20 Ed Sheeran because he’s amazing, and I just went to one of his concerts, and I have Ed Sheeran fever.

Richard Gaspar, 50 Hillary Clinton. I met her husband and Chelsea, but I’d like to know what it’s like to be a public presence.

Bette Eastman gave tips on ways to cut down on laundry costs, such as using dryer balls instead of sheets. Bettye Goodwine

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Plant City Times & Observer


Locally owned by Ed Verner, Karen Berry, Nate Kilton and Felix Haynes


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

110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100-A Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 704-6850 ©Copyright Plant City Media LLC 2014 All Rights Reserved

Call Nikki McAlpine, (813) 545-5505.

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

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

Plant City Times &


Publisher / Karen Berry, General Manager/Executive Editor / Michael Eng, Managing Editor / Amber Jurgensen, Staff Writers / Justin Kline,; Emily Topper, etopper@ Advertising Executive / Nikki McAlpine,; Circulation/Office Manager / Linda Lancaster,

“If we are to build a better world, we must remember that the guiding principle is this — a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy.” — Friedrich Hayek, “Road to Serfdom,” 1944



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



West Prosser Drive/Oakwood Estates Drive. Found property. Officers responded to a business in reference to a found handgun. Complainant stated that they noticed a black pistol lying in the road. The gun, a Keltec 9 mm, was taken into custody and, after the serial number was checked with negative results, placed into PCPD evidence for safekeeping.


800 block of West Washington Street. Criminal mischief. Officers responded to a church in reference to a reported act of criminal mischief. Complainant stated that, sometime within a three-day period, unknown suspect(s) broke out a window on the church’s bus. Complainant declined to press charges and signed a waiver of prosecution.



4700 block of Silk Run Court. Burglary. Officers responded to a residence in reference to a burglary. Complainant stated that unknown suspect(s) entered the house and that the complainant’s white Shih Tzu dog was missing. It was not known whether the dog was stolen or if it had left the house during the burglary.





2800 block of Turkey Creek Road. Vehicle burglary. Officers responded to a reported vehicle burglary. Complainant reported that jewelry and a Coach purse were stolen from her vehicle by unknown suspect(s).


2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Theft. Officers met with the complainant at the PCPD front desk. She stated a woman offered to give her a “spiritual cleansing.” She paid the woman $1,300 before realizing it was a scam. Complainant did not wish to pursue criminal charges and signed a waiver of prosecution.



1500 block of East Warren Street. Criminal mischief. Officer responded in reference to a reported act of criminal mischief. Complainant stated that unknown suspects(s) threw a red brick through the window of a 2006 Dodge van.


800 block of North Wheeler Street. Residential burglary. Officer met with complainant, who stated that a pressure washer, a weed eater and two fatigue mats were stolen from under his carport. The total cost of the items was estimated to be $720.


500 block of North Merrin Street. Hit and run. Officer responded to a residence in reference to a reported hit and run. It was discovered that a pickup truck had pushed a parked vehicle into the residence before leaving the scene.



4200 block of Business Lane. Burglary. Officer re-

sponded to a business in reference to a reported burglary. Complainant stated that unknown suspect(s) broke into a storage shed on the premises and stole two Stihl backpack blowers, 20 Honda 5.5-horsepower water pumps and a Stihl weed eater.


2000 block of South Frontage Road. Grand theft. Officer met with complainant, who stated that unknown suspect(s) had entered a residence and stolen a 42-inch LG television, a Bright House Networks cable box and a remote control.


West Warren Street/Hunter Street. Strong-arm robbery attempt. Officers responded in reference to an attempted robbery. Complainant stated that three males, likely between 15 and 17, jumped him from behind. In addition to hitting him with their fists, they threw a bicycle at him. He stated that the juveniles unsuccessfully attempted to take belongings from his pockets. Officers were unable to locate the suspects, and the complainant declined to pursue charges and signed a waiver of prosecution.

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1200 block of South Alexander Street. Petit theft. Complainant stated that, overnight, unknown suspect(s) entered a business and stole around nine gallons of fuel from a Budget rental truck parked on the property.



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800 block of South Alexander Street. Grand theft. Officers responded to a business in reference to a reported theft. Complainant stated that an unknown male grabbed three rings and then ran out of the store.

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Tales from the farm

It’s my favorite time of trip down the field. the year. It is getting cooler This particular tractor and the humidity levels are had the back window of its dropping from somewhere cab open so Dustin Grooms around the surface of the could communicate with sun to about bearable. But the guys riding on the that’s not why it’s my favormachine laying the plastic. ite season. It’s because, as If something goes wrong he I drive around Plant City, I needs to be able to stop imsee fields being prepared for mediately. Plastic may need succulent strawberto be changed mid ries. row, and he needs to This season, I deknow when everycided to find out for thing is ready so he myself exactly what can take off again. goes in to getting No back window those strawberries meant one hot ride. to grow in the field. Once we learned I teamed up with about the tractors, it Amber Jurgensen, was time to even out managing editor of the end of the rows. SARAH the Plant City Times There is no machine HOLT & Observer, to see to do this, So Carl firsthand what it Grooms found us takes to prepare the fields. some shovels and showed us What we discovered was how to move the dirt from hard work. one location to another. For our adventure we Most of my day-to-day visited Fancy Farms, owned shoveling comes from filling by Plant City grower Carl in the holes my dogs dig in Grooms. After a drive my backyard, but I think around several fields we we did a respectable job found the correct spot and on our one row. Although I Grooms welcomed us with did notice someone finishopen arms. ing our work after we had Immediately we noticed moved on. the workers in the field were The last process we saw split into groups. How do was actually the first in prewe know? They were wearparing the fields for berry ing different colored shirts. season. In another field we The crew members had job got to see how the ground assignments, as there were a is “fluffed” and then levvariety of things going on in eled out so the beds can be the field at the same time. made. There were also three It was enlightening to tractors turning the field see the work that goes into from flat as a pancake to preparing the ground for the rows covered in plastic. strawberry plants that are I got to ride in the tracset to arrive soon. I look fortor that was pulling the ward to going back for the machine laying the plastic. next step in the strawberry It’s known as the raised growing process. bed mulch layer. I climbed Sarah Holt is the senior next to Dustin Grooms, managing editor and associCarl Grooms’ son, and he ate publisher at In the Field, quickly maneuvered the a Plant City-based agricultractor in place for the next ture magazine.

Karen Berry

In the Field Editor Sarah Holt and Plant City Times & Observer Editor Amber Jurgensen joined forces to help Fancy Farms owner Carl Grooms prepare the fields for the upcoming strawberry season.

run. I’m starting to feel silly for doing my hair this morning. To think, these guys do this tough labor day after day in a game of strawberry roulette. No one can predict how the season will go: the weather, the prices, the reliability of the labor. But Grooms takes it in strides. “As long as everybody’s keeping up, then this will flow,” Grooms says. Still, there’s one last question on my mind. What are those red and blue plates for? “Years ago it was to keep the elephants out of the field,” Grooms says. “They love strawberries. All those circus elephants and the ones at Busch Gardens. It keeps them out.” I guess we’ll never know Carl Grooms’ strawberrygrowing secret. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.




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a flip phone that looks like it’s from 2005 in a case clipped to his waist. “I don’t text, flip, switch, swipe, squirt, push, tap,” Carl Grooms says. With a 230-acre farm to run, who has time for Facebook and mobile WiFi? The fields are his passion. To run it takes work — and he’s not shy about putting Holt and me to work. He helps us into the tractors. We meet 28-year-old domestic worker Felix Ramirez, who is making beds, and Carl Grooms’ son, Dustin Grooms, who is laying plastic behind Ramirez. Lucky for me, I get to ride in the air-conditioned cab. When the bumpy ride is over, we get to work shoveling the edge of a bed. Each bed needs to start and end at equal places to install irrigation lines. Digging into the compressed dirt in the Florida sun is more like doing a CrossFit routine in the middle of a mud


and draping and driving, on the opposite side of the 15 acres. Carl Grooms pulls up in an F-250 behind us as if the UFOs had told him our exact location. “How’s it feel to be lost in the woods?” He hoots under his signature white beard. His sense of humor doesn’t stop there. After 43 years of growing strawberries, he has enough stories to tell to rival stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy. He admits he knows Spanglish, including a slew of bad words he hears from his Mexican farmhands. They’ve seen alligators on some of the dirt roads made to navigate the farm. And, one time, a news reporter backed into a 4-footdeep ditch. “Plenty of news reporters get stuck on freeze nights,” he says. A sliver of skin on his chest is showing from his unbuttoned denim shirt, and he has

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We didn’t get clear directions. “Just come down Futch Road,” Fancy Farms owner Carl Grooms told Plant City Times & Observer and In the Field Publisher Karen Berry in a phone call earlier in the week. We are in Berry’s 4Runner. In the Field Editor Sarah Holt is in the passenger seat. I’m in the back with my nose pressed against the window. In the three years I’ve covered the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World I’ve been on many farms, but I haven’t been able to see the planting process from the beginning — the very beginning. The seeds haven’t been dropped in the beds yet. Some of the fields haven’t even had beds made out of their soil. Berry pulls onto the farm. Carl Grooms is nowhere in sight. She is determined to find him. We bypass the paved road to the other side of the farm and charge onto the makeshift path between fields. The dirt has been trampled by trucks and tractors. Tread prints are ankle deep. Her tires start spinning. “Don’t worry, we have fourwheel drive,” Berry says. “Just don’t get stuck in Carl’s field,” Holt says. “He’ll never let you live it down.” When we don’t find him by the old tractor parts, we turn around. Berry points out the red and blue plastic plates that are under each sprinkler head on the beds. I haven’t noticed them on any other farm I’ve been to. “The first time I met Carl he told me those are UFOs,” Berry says. UFOs? “He wouldn’t tell me what they are really for,” Berry says. “He just kept saying they were to communicate with the UFOs.” We finally find a secluded plot hidden by a trees. There are farmhands, busy digging

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Audience guesses villain of mystery dinner show Plant City residents put their heads together Saturday, Sept. 12, to catch the culprit in “A Fatal Night at the County Fair.” The mystery dinner was presented by Friends of the Bruton Memorial Library at

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the John R. Trinkle Center and featured city leaders, such as Florida Strawberry Festival General Manager Paul Davis, South Florida Baptist Hospital President Karen Kerr and State Rep. Dan Raulerson. Li-

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FIT FOR A QUEEN by Emily Topper | Staff Writer

YOUNG AT HEART by Arden White | Staff Intern

Entertainment venue to pour tea Plant City Entertainment will host an English tea party as a theater fundraiser. Plant City Entertainment patrons donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to get on stage to break out their feather boas or favorite party outfits. On Saturday, Sept. 26, residents are cordially invited to join PCE organizers Marsha Passmore and Dodie White at the theaterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual tea party fundraiser. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s as near as what you would expect an English tea party to be,â&#x20AC;? Passmore said. This year, the event is sponsored by Hopewell Funeral Home. All of the funds raised from the event will go toward productions and paying off the remainder of the theaterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mortgage. Guests at the tea party will see recent upgrades made to the theater, including a new roof and improvements to the theaterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foyer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every year we do improvements,â&#x20AC;? Passmore said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;(Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll) notice the roof and (foyer) immediately.â&#x20AC;? Passmore has hosted tea parties for years. The idea for PCEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tea party fundraiser came when the theaterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s building was purchased in 2009. Passmoreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interest in tea parties grew when she began collecting tea cups and saucers. She also loves the fun, carefree environment of a tea party. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I just like the way it makes you feel,â&#x20AC;? Passmore said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It makes you feel happy and relaxed. Everyone comes to a tea party in a good mood, and they leave smiling.â&#x20AC;? Passmore and White will provide tablecloths and napkins, but guests are encouraged to decorate a table with their own theme. Each table host will provide a party favor for guests, and prizes will be given out. Neumeisterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Candy Shoppe will give guests a sweet treat in a token tea cup and saucer.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everyone winds up with something to go home with,â&#x20AC;? Passmore said. Guests also will go home well fed. Passmore and White will provide scones, petit fours, chicken salad finger sandwiches and a number of other delicacies for attendees to munch on. Guests are sure to find at least one flavor of tea they enjoy. Over half a dozen varieties, including raspberry, lemon, vanilla and mint, will be served. Although the party was limited to about 70 guests last year because of roof repairs, Passmore is expecting between 100 and 130 guests. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Right now weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re about halfway there,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Many ladies invite their own guests.â&#x20AC;? Guests are encouraged to wear hats. There will be some available at the theater. Contact Emily Topper at

Marsha Passmore

IF YOU GO TEA PARTY WHERE: Plant City Entertainment, 101 N. Thomas St. WHEN: 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26 COST: $25 per ticket


Courtesy photo

Clients enjoy gentle exercises, Wii game, trivia, crafts and computer lessons at CARES.

Plant City adult day care service celebrates first anniversary Community Aging and Retirement Services celebrated its year anniversary in Plant City this summer. Known as CARES, the nonprofit organization has helped senior citizens since 1973 as an adult day care program. It started in Pasco County, but expanded into Hillsborough in 2013. The Plant City facility is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1205 Waller St. CARES offers snacks, breakfast and lunch for clients. It also provides a personalized plan of care, medication monitoring, health screenings and supervision. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This helps both the elderly and the caregiver,â&#x20AC;? Brenda Martyniak, communications director of CARES, said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When the caregiver needs to go to work, go shopping or just take a break, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re there. I believe it really helps the families cope.â&#x20AC;? Activities, from holiday par-

ties to Florida Strawberry Festival crafts, are planned for each day to keep the participants busy and involved. They also enjoy gentle exercises and stretching, Wii games, trivia and computer lessons. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very active environment,â&#x20AC;? Martyniak said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sometimes we bring entertainers, like singers, in to perform. We have a lot of therapy dogs come in, and we always invite the public to come take part in playing games with our clients.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just the clients that enjoy their time at CARES. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I love being involved in such a great program where I can interact with the elderly and help them with their activities,â&#x20AC;? Erna Saintilet Narcisse, assistant at the Plant City CARES location, said. At all the CARES locations there is a full staff ready to attend to all the needs of the clients. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My favorite thing is just

getting to interact with the clients,â&#x20AC;? Ashley Triplett, manager of the Plant City CARES location, said. Currently, the Plant City CARES location has approximately 10 regular clients, but has room for 30. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think CARES is definitely making their life better and making their day more meaningful,â&#x20AC;? Juliana Barbosa, an aid at the Plant City location, said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really important to let more people know that this is available in their area. Especially after seeing how many families weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve helped just by them finding out about CARES.â&#x20AC;? CARES is approved by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and is a certified and licensed provider. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Almost any participant is eligible for CARES,â&#x20AC;? Elizabeth Heynes, regional manager, said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The big thing is funding. Some choose to have contracts through Veteran Affairs

CONTACT Call to receive a CARES coupon for a complimentary day of care.

CARES Plant City WHERE: 1205 S. Waller St. PHONE: (813) 756-6920 and some want to privately pay. However, for long-term care, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s encouraged to go through the Department of Children and Families to obtain Medicaid.â&#x20AC;? If one is considering having an elderly family member sign up, they must call the center or apply in person. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If people have any questions I would really encourage them to either call our toll free number, or just check out our website,â&#x20AC;? Martyniak said. You can contact CARES at 1 (888) 718-2110. Or go online at

















LEND A HAND by Emily Topper | Staff Writer


eta was about 4 months old in this picture. Somebody found him in their trash pile, and his mom, Petra Kirkland, wanted a kitten, so he moved in. He just turned 1 and is doing great. Turkey Creek Animal Hospital and Animal Wellness Center have partnered to present a weekly Cutest Critter Contest. Entering is simple: Just submit a high-resolution photo (200 dpi or better) and a sentence or two about why your pet is the cutest. Include your name and contact information. Winners will be showcased

Photos by Emily Topper

Rain has caused damage to the outside of Mildred Hightower’s home. Inset: The threshold that separates Hightower’s garage from her kitchen is in need of repair.

CareFest looking for community volunteers

IF YOU GO CAREFEST EVENT WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 WHERE: 1914 Plant City High School Community Center, 605 N. Collins St. WHO: Other organizations that have volunteered for projects include the Improvement League of Plant City, Plant City Rotary Club and a number of Plant City churches. Anyone can volunteer or adopt a project, including high schoolers who are looking for community service hours.

Submit your entries to Managing Editor Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@; subject line: Cutest Critter.



to the Cutest Critter Winner! Stop in to claim your prize!



Mildred Hightower suffered a stroke in 2003 and needs volunteers to complete minor repairs around her home. St. Mary’s Community Church Pastor Timothy Knighten is trying to find volunteers to help her with the repairs. Hightower’s home to rot, and the threshold that leads from the garage into the kitchen is also in need of repair. She uses a silver cane to walk from the kitchen to her garage, where the lilies from her husband’s funeral nearly two years ago are still growing. Hightower has placed them in a pool of light that shines in from a garage window. The Bucs fan and mother of three lost her husband, Willie Hightower, in a drowning accident in 2013. Until his death, he was her primary caretaker. DETAILS: Organizers will sign up at 7 a.m. at the 1914 Plant City High School Community Center. At 1 p.m., volunteers can enjoy music and lunch at the center. WEBSITE: projects/hillsborough-county/ plant-city/

UPCOMING CAREFEST MEETING WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 WHERE: 1914 High School Community Center, 605 N. Collins St.

With her children grown and her husband gone, Hightower’s home is behind on essential repairs. Although 125 volunteers have already committed to CareFest, organizers are still looking for volunteers to help with projects that have not yet been adopted. Along with Hightower’s project, which needs volunteers, other projects across Plant City include pressure washing houses, replacing old carpet with linoleum, and repairing gutters and ceilings. If Hightower’s project is not adopted, Knighten said his church will complete the work. Other St. Mary’s Community Church members are volunteering with projects outside of their congregation. “She’s definitely well deserving of it,” Knighten said. “It’s minor, but for her it’s a big project. I think just a couple people would actually be able to do it.” CareFest originated in 2002 and has spread through Tampa Bay and across the nation. This year, Plant City has 25 CareFest projects that need completion. Contact Emily Topper at etopper@plantcityobserver. com.

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On Sept. 26, members from the Plant City community will come together to help complete home renovations for residents in need in an event called CareFest. The residents who are benefiting from Carefest can’t do their own renovations because of medical reasons and other life circumstances. But many residents, including Mildred Hightower, haven’t had any volunteers adopt their home projects. Hightower suffered a stroke in 2003. Since then, she hasn’t been able to drive, and she relies on others for daily tasks, such as grocery shopping. “I’ve known her forever,” Timothy Knighten, pastor at St. Mary’s Community Church, said. “I basically take care of her business and help her out.” Hightower has been attending St. Mary’s Community Church on Renfro Street since she was a teenager. Knighten, who has been the pastor at the church for the last 28 years, has been friends with Hightower for nearly twice as long. He can’t recall the last time that she missed a Sunday. Hightower has lived in the same house on Warren Street behind Marshall Middle School for more than 30 years. Heavy summer rain has caused the wood panels of

in the Plant City Times & Observer and will receive a free bag of dental chews to be picked up at Turkey Creek Animal Hospital and Animal Wellness Center.

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Navigation to Wealth Creation PLANT CITY 1907 S. Alexander St., Ste. 2 Plant City, FL 33566 | (813)752-6604



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FAITH by Emily Topper | Staff Writer


Obituaries Diogenes “Amelia” Cancel

Diogenes “Amelia” Cancel, 82, of Plant City, died Sept. 13, 2015 at her home. A native of Puerto Rico, Mrs. Cancel was the daughter of the late Emelio Martinez and Jauna Robles. She is survived by her husband, Pedro Cancel; daughters, Nancy, Betty and Millie Cancel; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her sons, Joseph Martinez, John Cancel and Pedro Cancel; and daughters, Jerry, Diana and Jennifer Cancel. A funeral service was held Sept. 16 at Haught Funeral Home in Plant City. Online condolences may be made at HaughtFuneralHome. com.

Rita Faye Carmack

Rita Faye Carmack, 57, of Mulberry, died Aug. 27, 2015. Mrs. Carmack is survived by her husband, Robert Carmack; daughter, Mandy Caveney (Tommy); sons, Terry Simone Jr., Darrell Simone and Jeffery Simone; granddaughters, Hannah Caveney, Heather Simone and Summer Taylor; great-granddaughter, Sophia Simone; greatgrandson, Bobby Joe Taylor III; great-granddaughter on the way, Sarah Maye Taylor; sisters, Marsha Harper and Deborah Chewning; brothers, Brad McCullough, Kenny Mac McCullough and Tim McCullough; mother-in-law, Freda Howell; brothers-inlaw, Mitchell Carmack (Sharon) and Marty Carmack; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, James Bradford McCullough; mother, Hazel Inez McCullough; and brother, Richard McCullough. A celebration of life was held Sept. 12 at Pine Grove Baptist Church in Mulberry.

Online condolences may be made at

Edward Garrett Gottschall

Edward Gottschall, 29, of Lakeland, died Sept. 5, 2015 in Plant City. A native of Plant City, Mr. Gottschall was the son of Edward Gottschall and JoAnn Gotschall. He was a selector for Save-A-Lot, attended St. Paul Lutheran Church, and loved Lightning Hockey and the Green Bay Packers. He was predeceased by his wife, Nalee Yang. He is survived by his parents, Edward and JoAnn Gotschall; and siblings, Sherrie Sweat, Morgan Barber and Levi Gottschall. A funeral service was held Sept. 13 at Haught Funeral Home in Plant City. Online condolences may be made at HaughtFuneralHome. com.

James “Buddy” Jordan

James “Buddy” Jordan, 71, of Seffner, died Sept. 7, 2015 at Brandon Regional Hospital. Mr. Jordan was a native of Pinecrest, Florida. He was the son of David Jordan and Dovie Carter. He was in the United States Reserves for four years, and enjoyed hunting and fishing. He was a driver for McKenzie Trucking and was a member of Seffner Church of Christ. He is survived by his mother, Dovie Carter; two grandchildren; and two great-greatgrandchildren. He was predeceased by his father, David Jordan; stepfather, Emmett Carter; son, James David Jordan Jr.; and sister, Gloria Faye Jordan Raymond. A funeral service was held Sept. 12 at Haught Funeral Home in Plant City. Online condolences may be made at HaughtFuneralHome. com.

Michael Moore

Michael “Mike” Moore, 53, of Plant City, died Sept. 5, 2015 at Florida Hospital Tampa. A native of Tampa, he was the son of Gene Moore and Barbara Pixton. Mr. Moore worked for White Cap Construction Supply. He loved to be on the water and his Budweiser. He was an organ donor, who gave the gift of sight, and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He is survived by his wife, Karen Simmons Moore; children, Nicholas Wolfgram, Michael Moore, Casandra Flaherty, Michelle Nance, Rachel Middleton and Ryan Simmons; mother, Barbara Pixton (Sam); siblings, Rhonda Heil, Sandra Damico, Carla Moore, Colleen Moore, Goldie Moore, Earl Moore, Vince Moore, Judie Elron and Jan Pixton; and eight grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father, Gene Moore; and brother, Eric Levine. The family received friends Sept. 11 at Haught Funeral Home in Plant City. Online condolences may be made at HaughtFuneralHome. com.

Nalee Yang

Nalee Yang, 37, of Lakeland, died Sept. 5, 2015 in Plant City. Ms. Yang was the daughter of Poa and Chau Yang. She attended St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lakeland, and was a rehab technician for Select Rehab. She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward Gottschall. She is survived by her parents, Poa and Chu Yang; and siblings, Mykoue, Paefua, Bee, Fue and Mongjung Yang. A funeral service was held Sept. 13 at Haught Funeral Home in Plant City. Online condolences may be made at HaughtFuneralHome. com.

The prayer vigil was 26 hours long. It began at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11.

Springhead United Methodist Church prays for peace From 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, a prayer vigil was held at Springhead United Methodist Church in Plant City. The vigil included a potluck Friday

night and an ice cream social Saturday. The Rev. Dr. Patrick C. Elmore, who led the vigil, encouraged attendees to pray for others and to pray for peace.

Margaret Smart played her shofar, an instrument that is used to call people to prayer. She brought the shofar with her in observance of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which began Sunday, Sept. 13.

Pastor Patrick C. Elmore and his wife, Sandra Elmore

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Commercial - Industrial | Lots/land | $795,000 David McCarthy 866.600.6008 82110 2400 Roberts Ranch Rd Search T2577848 on

Commercial | Lots/Land | $795,000 Dennis Perkins 866.600.6008 487696 611 S Falkenburg Rd Search T2766139 on

Walden Woods | / | $750,000 Jimmie Robinson 866.600.6008 77536 2400 Police Center Dr Search T2718920 on

Commercial Land | Lots/Land | $500,000 Dave McCarthy/Jimmie Robinson 866.600.6008 77542 Alexander Search T2479418 on

Campbell Creek Woods | 4/3 | $487,302 Lynne Halleran 866.600.6008 479490 10302 Little Creek Pl Search T2776592 on

Lakemont - Valrico | 3/2.5 | $399,000 Malissa Crawford 866.600.6008 484898 1009 Winchester Ln Search T2759867 on

Plant City | 4/3 | $375,000 Jean Bridgmon 866.600.6008 47193 5906 Ramsgate Pl Search T2732761 on

Parkwood Lakes | 4/2.5 | $274,900 Jean Bridgmon 866.600.6008 493551 8903 30th E St Search T2777439 on

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Dover | 4/2.5 | $259,000 Maddie Alford 866.600.6008 47053 2215 Fritzke Rd Search T2626772 on

Evers Acres | 3/2 | $237,406 Lynne Halleran 866.600.6008 477237 406 Swilley Rd Search T2770361 on

Wesley Chapel | 4/2.5 | $229,300 Patrick Lynch 866.600.6008 479995 Open Sat/Sun 11-2 | 27446 Sugar Loaf Dr Search T2752125 on

Ranchero Acres | 3/2 | $229,000 Malissa Crawford 866.600.6008 484756 4712 Gallagher Rd Search T2759886 on

Walden Lake | 3/2 | $219,000 Malissa Crawford 866.600.6008 85837 2905 Laurel Meadow Ct Search T2716334 on

Island Pond Estates | 5/3 | $209,000 Jose Perez-Ruiz 866.600.6008 487823 3207 Young Rd Search T2766970 on

Laurel Lake Condo | 2/2 | $179,900 Maddie Alford 866.600.6008 490114 2735 Golf Lake Dr, Unit #63 Search T2770822 on

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10 9 -YE A R LEG ACY



Plant City 813.754.3586 *Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is ranked number one in closed residential buyer and/or seller transaction sides in Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Naples/Fort Myers, and number one in residential sales volume (calculated by multiplying number of buyer and/or seller transaction sides by the sales price) in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa/St. Petersburg, according to data submitted to REAL Trends by NRT LLC, 2015. Real estate agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of the Company. The property information herein is derived from various sources that may include, but not be limited to, county records and the Multiple Listing Service and it may include approximations. Although the information is believed to be accurate, it is not warranted and you should not rely upon it without personal verification. Š2015 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Operated by a subsidiary of NRT LLC. Coldwell Banker, the Coldwell Banker logo, Coldwell Banker Previews International and the Previews logo are registered and unregistered service marks owned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.


Administered by American Home Shield



ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Peyton Ledbetter kicked the winning field goal.16 SPONSORED BY COURTNEY PAAT | STATE FARM



GOLF by Justin Kline | Sports Editor

Is girls golf dead?

Justin Kline

Kendall Johnson and the Plant City girls golf team had to face themselves early this season after a matchup fell through.


Friday night notes Just when I thought my presence might be a good luck charm for area football teams, that luck ran out Friday, Sept. 11 I’m joking, of course, but the Sept. 11 matchup at Strawberry Crest was a close one. After the Chargers spent most of the game in the lead, it went awry in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t the most actionpacked game of the season, but it certainly did have its moments. JUSTIN The CharKLINE gers, for the most part, looked better than I’ve seen in a while. The defense did a solid job of containing Middleton’s athletic offense, which featured some big targets and a QB who wasn’t afraid to use his legs to make a play if he had to. You can see things starting to click for Crest’s stop unit, which looks like it’ll be the team’s X-factor this season. The defense’s play could very well determine just how far the Chargers go this season. It only allowed one touchdown that night. Middleton’s first strike came on a fumble recovery at their own 44, which was promptly taken to the house in spite of the Crest offense’s efforts to stop it. Yes, the offensive touchdown Crest did allow didn’t come at a favorable time (6:46 in the fourth quarter), but there was plenty of time for the offense to make something happen. Crest’s offense, from what I saw that night, does show flashes of potential. Quarterback Tate Whatley made some good throws against the Tigers’ defense, most notably a 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Austin Eldridge in the second quarter. Much like Jameis Winston, however, it looks like Whatley still has much to learn as he continues to adapt his game from one level to the next. Throws that worked before the varsity level won’t work now, which is true of any level in the game, and I think Whatley’s talented enough to excel after some development. Bryce Blackmon was named the team’s bell cow before the season, and the Chargers stuck with that plan on Friday. Blackmon, who


It’s Thursday, Aug. 27, and things seem to be normal at Walden Lake Golf & Country Club. Plant City High School’s boys and girls golf teams are there, driving, chipping and putting away, as they always do. They’re scheduled to play Freedom High School, which in 2014 boasted one of the top girls teams in the Tampa Bay area. But the Lady Patriots never show up. Left without an opponent, the PCHS golfers are instructed to play anyway. Golf is an individualized sport, after all. But on the girls side, it’s just that

there aren’t as many individuals as there used to be. “We’ve run into that a little bit in the district, for some reason,” Plant City head coach Meg Jordan says. “Durant’s been the only one with a team. No Freedom. No Wharton. East Bay only has one girl.” Add Tampa Bay Tech to the list of teams hurting for golfers, if not quite devoid of them, and it only builds upon the question that’s following the girls golf scene this year. Where is everybody?


On a broader scale, high

Several Tampa Bay-area high schools have seen their girls golf programs shrink or, in some cases, fold in 2015.

school sports participation rates appear to be climbing. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, which conducts an annual study, high school sports participation consistently increased over 25 years, with the most recent available data ending at the 2013-14 school year. The organization says it has been doing this study since 1971. As individual statistics for the 2014-15 school year are now available, one can take a deeper look into the numbers. Across the country, 72,582 girls were members of 9,824 high

school girls golf teams last year compared to 148,823 male players throughout 13,528 schools. In Florida, 2,292 girls in 407 schools participated, against 3,795 boys in 494 schools. In the 2012-13 season, more schools fielded golf teams — 420 girls teams and 502 boys teams. There were also more players — 2,426 girls and 4,020 boys. Although the numbers have fluctuated up and down over time, especially after the economic recession of 2008, the


GAME OF THE WEEK by Bob Putnam | Tampa Bay Times



SIDELINES Do you have a good Sports scoop for us? Email Justin Kline at jkline@, or Tweet us at @PCTOSports.


+PCHS, DHS split match The Durant and Plant City High golf programs met at River Hills Thursday, Sept. 10. On the boys side, Durant picked up a 169-182 win. Durant junior Jacob Penny led all boys with a 37, and Kaelib Carlough led the Raiders with a 39. The girls match wasn’t so close, with Plant City picking up a 179-217 win over the Lady Cougars. Kendall Johnson’s 35 was the lowest score any golfer had on the day, and Kaylee McIntosh backed her up with a 37. The win gives the Lady Raiders a sterling 7-0 record.


+ Area schools attend invite All three Plant City schools brought runners to the Seffner Christian Invitational Saturday, Sept. 12. In the boys varsity race, Plant City placed sixth. Luke Whitmore was the school’s top finisher, placing 20th. Noah Booz placed 26th. Durant had two runners in that race: Haftom Fliegelman, sixth, and Josh Martin, 28th. In the girls race, Strawberry Crest placed eighth and Durant placed 19th. Grace Taylor led the Lady Chargers with 15th place. Yovela Debesay, Autumn Thompson and Alexis Linsinbigler placed 36th, 38th and 39th. Durant was led by Hailey Reyes and Jordan Toomer, who placed 112th and 117th. Of the Plant City runners, Hannah Stowe was most impressive with a second-place finish.

Justin Kline

Marco Martinez worked hard in football conditioning during the spring. He now bench presses more than 300 pounds, he shed 50 pounds and his GPA improved from 2.5 to a 2.8.


Senior offensive lineman Marco Martinez is finally able to live his dream of playing football after having to work as a migrant worker.

AREA RECAPS The Lady Cougars competed in the Academy of the Holy Names tournament, splitting the weekend series with a 2-1 loss to Sunlake Friday, Sept. 11, and a 2-1 win over Academy of the Holy Names Saturday, Sept. 12. Meanwhile, the Lady Chargers competed in Calvary Christian School’s Karl Flammer Ford Invitational. They lost their Friday, Sept. 11, match with East Lake, 2-1, but picked up a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay Heat Saturday, Sept. 12. Terra Brooks led all scorers with 13 kills and four blocks. Danielle Oberle had 21 assists. Nicole Calescibetta had 20 digs. Durant’s next match will be 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, at Sickles. Plant City, which did not compete in a weekend tournament, will play again at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, at Tampa Bay Tech. Crest has two home matches next week, playing King at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, and playing Lennard at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.

IN OTHER AREA ACTION: DURANT The Cougars’ 16-14 win over Newsome was the program’s first in two seasons. To make it even better, it made up for last year’s final play. In 2014, Durant lost on a field goal attempt that sailed wide right; in 2015, Peyton Ledbetter was on the money. East Bay picked up a 42-6 win over Riverview, mostly by ground, but quarterback Ian Kuykendall, running back Gaej Walker and wideout KJ Sails made some big plays by air. The Indians’ biggest win of the young season will give them plenty of momentum going into Durant. As the district opener for both teams, the stakes are high and both teams will look to extend what have been solid starts to the 2015 season. WHERE: Durant High, 4748 Cougar Path WHEN: 7:30 p.m. PLANT CITY/ STRAWBERRY CREST After a scoreless first quarter, the Raiders kept

a steady stream of offense going against former district rival Brandon. Thanks to some good fourth-quarter D, the team held on to a 21-13 win on the road. While none of Plant City’s most familiar names had a standout game on offense, punt returner Tydre Ward continued to make a name for himself with a 66-yard return for a score. The Chargers spent much of their game against Middleton in control, perhaps even when it was tied at 7-7. But some fourthquarter woes on both ends of the ball handed the game to the Tigers, at 14-13, and brought Crest down to an 0-3 record. Plant City will look to exploit Crest’s defense (92 points allowed) in the district opener, while the Chargers will look to surprise a team that may not take them too seriously right out of the gate. WHERE: Plant City High, 1 Raider Place WHEN: 7:30 p.m. — Justin Kline

Marco Martinez labors under an unforgiving summer sun, firing out of a three-point stance into a blocking sled. “Push!” Durant High School coaches bark out. Martinez, a beefy 5-foot-10, 285-pound offensive lineman, follows with a grunting surge as sweat pools at his feet. This is Martinez’s first year playing football at any level. The senior goes through a constant collision course in practice, hitting everything from sleds to teammates. Often, he falls down. He sneaks in a few seconds of rest before popping back up. “It’s tough, but the work I’ve put into becoming a football player is nothing to the work I actually do,” he said. “This is actually easy.” Martinez, 18, spends the bulk of his downtime in the fields harvesting crops as a migrant worker. His shifts last 10 to 12 hours when he is not in school. He picks strawberries, cantaloupes, blueberries — whatever is in season. The work is taxing. Martinez stoops through rows of crops, no matter the conditions. His back aches. His knees throb. His hands blister. “The only time we ever really stop is when there’s lightning,” Martinez said. “I pretty

much work all the time. Winter break. Spring break. Summer. There’s never really an off day.” The grind is necessary. Martinez comes from a large family — four brothers, two sisters — and is in the fields with his mother to supplement their income. He does not want to make it a career. He wants a college education and an escape from a life of seasonal farm work. For now, football is his future.


Martinez grew up playing soccer. He was bigger than most of the kids, which caused problems. “I got in trouble because anytime I came in contact with another player, they would fall down, and the referees would penalize me,” Martinez said. But he loved football too. The sport intrigued him, especially after getting so many inquiries to play because of his size. By the time Martinez was a freshman at Durant, he already weighed 260 pounds. The football coaches begged him to play. “I had Marco in weightlifting class,” coach Mike Gott-





How to set a goal and reach it Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Do you wish you could lift heavier weights? Do you need to start exercising and eating right to wean off of high blood pressure medicine? Whatever your personal goal may be, you must first set up a plan — and then stay committed to it — in order to make it happen. Let me remind you: it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. I’ll take you step by step through what a goal-setting process looks like by using the example of losing 20 pounds.


FOOTBALL by Justin Kline | Staff Writer

Middleton slips past Crest Strawberry Crest nearly picked up its first win of the season Friday, Sept. 11, but the Middleton Tigers proved to be too athletic in the end. The Tigers (2-1) traveled to Crest (0-3) and, after falling in a 13-7 hole, managed to score on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 6:46 to play in the game. Crest had several opportunities to make something happen afterward but all were shut down by the Tigers’ defense. Tate Whatley linked up with tight end Austin Eldridge with 2:04 in the second quarter for a 30-yard touchdown pass, opening the scoring. Following Middleton’s 56yard fumble recovery touchdown early in the third quarter, Bryce Blackmon punched in the Chargers’ second touchdown of the game at the 1:25 mark. The PAT was no good, however. In other area news, Durant topped Newsome, 16-14, and Plant City beat Brandon, 2113.


Stick to it. At the halfway point — in this case, five weeks in — check your progress. If you’re on track, that’s awesome. If you’re ahead of or behind your goal, you may need to re-evaluate your plan time and adjust it. But don’t give up. Keep those weekly two-pound goals going. Don’t focus on that ultimate end goal. Allow cheat meals, not cheat days. If you make one bad choice, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You are human. Just get right HEATHER back on track with your DYKSTRA next meal.

Set a goal. Determine what you want your ultimate, final result to be. For the purpose of this column, let’s set a goal to lose 20 pounds.


Make short-term goals (week-to-week) instead of just saying you want to lose 20 pounds by a specific date or before an upcoming special event. Also avoid making unrealistic goals, such as wanting to lose 20 pounds in one week. It’s extremely discouraging when the goal is something that takes more time to happen than what is realistic. Without weekly assessments, we have no way of determining what progress we’ve made and how much more is required in order to reach our goals. The plan of action in this example would be determining how to lose the weight through diet and exercise, and then setting specific, weekly weight loss goals. Weight loss is all about science and math, so research your goal before you start. Knowing there are 3,500 calories in one pound lets us determine that, if we cut 500 calories per day out of our diet, or burn 500 extra calories per day at the gym each week, we can lose one pound (3,500 calories divided by seven days in a week equals 500 calories per day). Losing one to two pounds per week is a very safe, realistic and attainable goal, so we can use this knowledge to set up our plan. Let’s say that plan is to lose two pounds per week. We know it will take 10 weeks to lose 20 pounds overall (20 pounds total divided by two pounds per week equals 10 weeks). By achieving our twopound weekly weight loss goal, we stay motivated.


This step is simple: get to work.

GOLF / PAGE 14 2014-15 numbers are the lowest of the last five available seasons. While the number of participating schools has increased over the past decade, rising from the 300s into the 400s, girls individual participation numbers have largely stagnated. The decline of golf participation has been covered extensively in major media outlets, and many cite the repercussions of the 2008 recession as affecting factors. Higher equipment and outing costs, coupled with a shrinking number of golf courses, are often used as explanations.


Jordan, who coaches the Raiders’ boys and girls teams, says that it’s “not unnatural” for schools to lack girls golf teams. Certainly, the available data suggests that. But, on a larger scale, it hasn’t always been this visible from the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. As both a program alumna and the team’s head coach for the last 13 seasons, Jordan would know better than most. “This is the first time we’ve run into that,” she says. “Even the coaches are surprised. Kids say they’re gonna play, but then they don’t. It’s unfortunate.” The only way to combat the decline in local participation, Jordan says, is for the coaches to recruit within their schools


Be proud of your accomplishment. Once you’ve reached your goal, the challenge becomes maintaining or surpassing it with another goal. Remember that pills, powders and fad diets are just quick fixes. Hard work and eating right is the only healthy way to reach your goal and maintain it. If you have a lot of weight to lose, or muscle to gain, I would highly recommend talking to a certified nutritionist or dietician to help you put a plan together. This will also help keep you accountable because you will have to keep a food journal, which they will use to give you feedback. They can tell you exactly how many macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) to eat daily and break them down for you into specific meal plans. You may even be surprised to find out you are eating over your daily macros, even though you are eating the right amount of calories or even under-eating. And, yes, that can hinder weight loss too. Hiring a certified personal trainer will not only help you with exercise goals, but will also keep you on track with your workouts. Consistency is key when reaching for goals, so having a trainer guide and push you can make a world of difference. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Remember that even most bodybuilders have trainers and nutritionists helping them. So plan out your five steps and follow through to the end. French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Heather Dykstra is an AFAA-certified personal trainer and has been a group fitness instructor for over 13 years. She is currently involved with the Plant City Family YMCA.


Participation numbers for girls golf, as well as every other high school sport, can be found on the National Federation of State High School Associations’ website. Sport-by-sport participation statistics can be accessed at nfhs. org/ParticipationStatics/ ParticipationStatics.aspx/. Aggregated statistical reports, showing what the numbers have looked like for the United States as a whole, can be found in PDF format near the bottom of the page.

as much as possible. Many girls opt for sports such as basketball, track and field, and volleyball, which have the highest participation rates. Jordan says it’s up to coaches to show many of these girls what kind of post-high school opportunities could open up for them through golf. Recruiting can’t just be done throughout the season, or the school year: it’s what coaches are dealing with during most of the calendar year. “You can’t be just thinking about the team you have now,” Jordan says. “You have to think of the team you’ll have down the road. We’ll be in a situation like this ourselves, next year, if we don’t get some people out here.”



Tyler Hood is tackled after making a catch.

GAME / PAGE 14 man said. “We were always on him, but we could never get him out there. We were always trying to figure out why.” Family came first. Martinez’s parents, Miguel and Maria, came from Mexico to work before their children were born. Martinez was 9 years old when his father died from a cancerous tumor near his heart. At the time, Miguel had a construction company that supported the family. “It was very sudden and devastating for all of us,” Martinez said. “My parents started off as migrant workers, but my dad didn’t want the rest of the family to work once he started his business. After he died, we had to start over.” Martinez’s mother went back to harvesting crops. The two oldest children, Miguel Jr. and Elena, helped her in the fields. Martinez joined them when he was 12. Summer months in Florida are slow because of the heat. To find work, the family heads to South Haven, Michigan to pick blueberries from June through September. Often Martinez does not return until a few weeks after the school year begins, which ruled out playing football. “I would just miss too much time,” he said. “By the time I got back, the football team was already a few games into the season.” But after years of prodding, Martinez became more serious about playing. He talked to his coaches as well as his second cousin and guidance counselor, Jorge Salmeron. “Marco asked if he should play. I asked him if that’s what he wanted or if he was doing it for others,” said Salmeron, who graduated from Durant in 2000 and has spent the past eight years working as an advocate for migrant workers. “He said it was something he always wanted to do.” Salmeron said there are about 100 students at the school who are migrant workers, roughly 4% of the student body. Many of those students face pressure to stay home to care for family members or to work to bring home more money. Salmeron has firsthand knowledge of such obstacles. He was a migrant worker who often worked in the same fields with the Martinez family. Salmeron assisted Miguel Jr., who attended Brandon High, with college applications and financial aid packages. Miguel Jr., now a nursing student at University of Florida, is the first from his family

Omar Williams goes after the quarterback.

to attend college. “I was the first of the children to be out in the fields,” Miguel Jr. said. “It’s tough because you’re constantly on the move. I told my mother I was serious about getting my education, about getting out of this line of work eventually.” Salmeron found his way out of the family cycle of migrant work through sports. He played soccer and ran cross country and track at Durant. He had college scholarships in all three and chose to run cross country at Florida Southern to be close to his parents. “I encourage all my migrant students to try sports,” Salmeron said. “It’s just another avenue to pursue college opportunities.”


Martinez worked hard in football conditioning during the spring. He became stronger and now bench presses more than 300 pounds. He shed weight, going from 335 to 285. His grades improved, from a 2.5 GPA to a 2.8. The technical part to becoming a lineman was the most difficult. He did not know the basics, such as the proper stance and the number system for blocking assignments. “I thought I had a pretty good idea about what the game was like, but there were a lot of things I needed to get corrected,” Martinez said. “I was lost at first. But I’m a quick learner, so as soon as the coaches started telling me what I needed to do, I could fix it. “The hardest thing was to just keep going and not giving up.” After going through spring practice, Martinez still was unsure if he would be able to continue playing. June was approaching and the family still planned to go to Michigan. “I was a senior, and this was my last shot. I felt like it was worth the risk in asking my mother if I could stay here in the summer,” he said. Football had already become a diversion for Martinez, who after working long hours sleeps on the couch so his younger siblings can sleep in their own rooms. Martinez thought it would take more than himself to convince his mother, so he enlisted the help of his coaches, including assistant Wesley Wyatt. It didn’t take much for Maria to agree to stay. “I was surprised at first that Marco wanted to play football so badly,” she said. “I saw how dedicated he was to it, more than anything else he’s ever done. So I decided the family would be here for him.” To make up for the lost

wages in Michigan, Martinez started working at a fast-food restaurant. His mother took a job at a cookie factory. In the summer, Martinez went to linemen camps. At one of those camps he told his teammates about the loss of his father and what he did for a living. “It’s a special story for a kid that doesn’t have a father,” Wyatt said. “He put a lot of heart and passion into this, and I think people are able to see that. I mean, you’ll never hear him complain. He’s proud of the work he does and what he can provide for his family. “I was telling my brother the other day, ‘We take too much stuff for granted.’” Martinez immediately became a starter on the offensive

Crest nearly picked up its first win of the season. line. In the season opener, he helped pave the way for Durant to upset Hillsborough. Martinez’s entire family came to the game. The Cougars followed that with a win against Spoto to start the season 2-0. But Martinez’s goals are bigger than wins and district titles. “I know I’m going to put myself farther in life than just working in the fields,” he said. “I want to make sure that after high school I’m able to go to college and get a good job so that I won’t have to do that, and I can support my mom.” He knows that path is more attainable through football. Contact Bob Putnam at

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transferred from Armwood before last season, broke off a few big runs throughout the game — most notably in the third quarter — and did manage to punch in a touchdown with just under a minute and one half left in the third. Crest had a 13-7 lead at that point and, all things considered, appeared to be in control. But something clicked in the Tigers’ minds — and playbook — in the fourth quarter. The Middleton offense woke up for the first time all game.



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Few situations bring about as many goosebumps as Durant’s final play Friday, Sept. 11. In the fourth quarter, with time running out, the Cougars needed a field goal to beat rival Newsome — the same as last year, when Durant’s kick missed. But the difference, in 2015, was that junior kicker Peyton Ledbetter nailed it and sent his team home with a 16-14 win.

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This is the first time Durant’s beaten Newsome since 2012. You hit the game winner. How did it feel? I felt like I just ruled the world. Whenever I saw it halfway through, going, almost there, I just turned around, and I started running for the team. It was just amazing.

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Who’s your team? I’ve always liked Florida State, but I really like Mis-

This team is 3-0 and has surprised a lot of people. How’s life with one of the top underdogs around? It feels good. Being the underdog, coming in with nobody expecting us to win. But, then we do. It’s definitely good.



How do you feel about East Bay this week? I think we can take them. They’re already thinking they’ve got us, but so did Newsome.


What other sports do you play? Soccer. I’m a goalkeeper.


When did you first get into football? Right before freshman year.



play a few video games and sleep. I prefer college football.

Last year, you were on JV. Derek Wells was a pretty clutch kicker when he was here, so you had some shoes to fill. How did you feel about that? I knew there was a lot expected of me. Durant’s always been known for good kickers — besides him, all the kickers before him were really good too.

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What sport have you never played before, but want to try? Lacrosse sounds pretty fun. The hitting — you get to hit people — and it’s like soccer but with your hands.


What do you do for fun? Relax, watch football,

sissippi State this year. I’m thinking about going there. It crushed me when they lost this weekend. I toured the campus this year, and I knew they were big last year, so I just started watching them. Who’s your favorite athlete of all time? Roberto Aguayo, Florida State. Awesome kicker. Great dude. I’ve met him. He’s an overall great person. When you go to college, what are you majoring in? Mechanical engineering. I’m hoping to do robotics. If you could meet anyone you’ve always looked up to, who would it be? In the kicking world, I would say Sebastian Janikowski, another Florida State alumni. ‘Polish Cannon.’ Kicking field goals through the uprights from the other half of the field. You have $1 billion in the bank. What’s the first thing you’d buy? Everybody in my family wants a different car, so I’d get them their cars. Then I’d buy a big house. If you could have any superpowers, what would you pick? I’d want to be like Superman, but without the kryptonite weakness. Do you have any personal goals that you want to accomplish this year? I definitely want to be in the 90th percentile for field goals, maybe get my kickoff touchback percentage up, and try and make the honor roll all year.

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will now have to deal with offensive stars like Markese Hargrove and T.J. Chase. I predicted, in the 2015 Football Guide, that this would be a building year for the Chargers. The first three games certainly suggest this is the case. The times ahead look especially tough now, as we’ve reached the start of the gauntlet of one of Tampa Bay’s toughest districts, but Crest fans will just have to trust the process going forward. Contact Justin Kline at


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We got three quarters of “same old Middleton” to start, followed by one quarter of “new Middleton.” That’s got to sting, if you’re a Crest supporter, and I’m sure the Chargers have been working on correcting those mistakes in practice all week. Crest will need all the help it can get this week, as it’s set to face a Plant City High defense that makes Middleton’s athletic unit look like the Buccaneers’. The Chargers have allowed opponents to score 92 points in the past three games, and

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Sept. 10




Sept. 11


Friday, Sept. 18 Saturday, Sept. 19 Sunday, Sept. 20 Monday, Sept. 21 Tuesday, Sept. 22 Wednesday, Sept. 23 Thursday, Sept. 24


Sept. 12



Sept. 13



Sept. 14



Sept. 15



Sept. 16




1.85 (2014: 2.20)


HIGH 88 89 90 90 89 88 88

SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES SUNRISE Friday, Sept. 18 7:15 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 7:15 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 20 7:16 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21 7:16 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22 7:16 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 7:17 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 7:17 a.m.

LOW 72 72 72 72 72 71 71


SUNSET 7:31 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 7:29 p.m. 7:27 p.m. 7:26 p.m. 7:25 p.m. 7:24 p.m.


Sept. 21

Sept. 27


SHIPPING POINT: Orlando Oct. 4


TO DATE 37.14 (2014: 36.39)

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture


Jim Todd took this picture of the newly painted water tower during a sunrise. Jim wins a Grimes Hardware Strawberry Town Cafe gift card. He can claim the card with an ID at Strawberry Town Cafe, 3161 Paul Buchman Highway. Do you have a picture that sums up the personality of Plant City? To enter the I Love Plant City photo contest, email your photo and a caption to Managing Editor Amber Jurgensen at Winners will have their picture featured and will receive a special gift.

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ACROSS 1 SeaWorld favorite 5 Bursts into tears 10 Women of distinction 15 Shrek, for one 19 Lopsided victory 20 Writer George or T.S. 21 Supreme Court justice Kagan 22 Muddy the waters 23 Amateurish 25 VIP vehicles 27 Indian in the British army 28 From then until now 30 Stop sign’s shape (var.) 31 Water around a castle 34 Glaswegian, for one 35 Big deli sandwich 36 Magnificent 40 Israeli port 43 Member of the AMA 47 Basic unit of Romanian currency 48 Ab strengthener 50 Tongue-flicking critters 52 Divine for water 53 It may be slung in a sling 54 Quarter of a ruler 57 Words of wonderment 58 Bone below the femur 61 Has a bite 62 Like carbon monoxide 64 Hawaiian Islands offering 65 Arctic transport 67 Sleeps briefly 69 Whale or dolphin 71 Rises on hind legs 73 Flunking a polygraph 76 Sans ___ (font type) 77 Tiny spot 80 Ripped 82 Plug of tobacco 85 Flock’s place 86 Bacteria in uncooked food 88 Sunbather’s “catch” 90 Overwhelmingly 91 Canal location 92 32.19 kilometers 96 Commit an 84-Down 97 Sonar kin 100 Art print, for short 101 Ambled 103 Bighead’s problem 104 Sonnet section 106 Crannies’ counterparts 108 Voiceover person 110 Cheese in balls 112 Prefix for “physics” or “physical” 114 Move like a gazelle 115 It’s often read in the basement 119 Noted Fifth Avenue hotel (with “the”) 121 Igneous-rock producer 125 Superior skills learned by study 127 It might be a lot 130 “Gimme a break!” 131 Sister of Calliope 132 Information storage unit, with “micro”

Each of the following cryptograms is a clue to the identity of a popular fashion designer. Using the hints E=A and X=D, decipher the clues to name the designer.

1. R J E K U C E K U 2. X Q S S H 3. K L E X H F I V L E K 4. P I X H W A B E W J 5. K E R R I I M X I Y W

This designer started off their career designing hand-knit sweaters:


Solve the puzzle by placing the numbers 1 through 9 in each difficulty row, column Sept 17 (Medium, rating 0.58) and box.

7 5

3 1





6 3





6 3 9

8 7





2 1









3 Sept 17 (Medium, difficulty rating 0.58)





































©2015 Universal Uclick

133 Sackcloth material 134 On the ___ wavelength (in accord) 135 “Blowin’ in the Wind” singer Bob 136 Ice-cream utensil 137 Mother sheep DOWN 1 Scepters’ go-withs 2 Philandering fellow 3 The point of a tooth 4 “Make yourself ___” 5 Drone, e.g. 6 Chicken ___ king 7 Toupees 8 Armstrong or Pasteur 9 Awful smell 10 Bit of editing 11 Self-proclaimed “greatest” of the ring 12 A short note 13 Methuselah’s father 14 Fried lightly 15 River to the Atlantic 16 Cymbal’s bigger cousin 17 Cambodia moola 18 “When all ___ fails . . .” 24 City on the Saone and Rhone

26 Indian instrument 29 Ring-tailed animal 32 Way into a mine 33 Churchgoer’s donation, perhaps 36 Narrow strips of wood 37 Danger, for Pauline 38 Carpenters visit them 39 Panamanian boxing great Roberto 41 Matter-of-___ 42 Temporary, as a committee 44 Awful dancer’s problem? 45 Milo of the movies 46 Tree sap 49 “She loves me” decider 51 Famous battle participants 55 TV sports award 56 Located at a place 59 Day of the month 60 With mouth wide open 63 Chocolate candy source 66 Upright, as posture 68 Form a lap 70 Part of a mileage rating 72 Grouch’s look 74 Standard thing 75 Holy ___ (chalice) 77 Pet-collar targets 78 Rental document

79 Fashionable Calvin 81 Hose material 83 “Key ___” (Bogart film) 84 Computer mistake 87 “What’s gotten ___ you?” 89 Leaf under a petal 93 Hunter of literature 94 Any Dogpatch dweller 95 Like the Sahara 98 Detail one’s deductions 99 Surrenders, as territory 102 Emotional TV fare 105 Made some lace 107 Fills positions for 109 Military helicopter 111 Like Old King Cole 113 From the geologic time before life 115 Comedian’s cache 116 ___ code (phone call need) 117 Forward part 118 Money in Tehran 120 With the bow, in music 122 Got bigger 123 Viral pic 124 Nile slitherers 126 Airport info, initially 128 However, in verse 129 Nope’s opposite



Your To Joint Pain Relief

Community Education Seminar Shoulder Injuries and Treatments Learn about common shoulder injuries, such as dislocation, rotator cuff tears and arthritis, as well as advanced treatment options.

Tuesday, September 29 6â&#x20AC;&#x201C;7:30pm R. Bryan Butler, MD Orthopedic Surgeon

Reserve your space: (813) 644-4302 or Free Seminar Free Parking Refreshments Provided

South Florida Baptist Hospital, Community Conference Room 301 N. Alexander St. | Plant City




09.18.15 PCTO  

09.18.15 PCTO

09.18.15 PCTO  

09.18.15 PCTO