POSITIVELY OSCEOLA WEEKLY
Inside this issue
Making a Positive Difference in and around Osceola County!
Kissimmee’s Miss Florida Ashley Cariño is Miss USA 2021’s second Page 7 runner-up
UCF Accepts Invitation to Battle Florida Gators in Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa Page 20
Osceola County Commission Approves Agreement with Fire Union Page 26
St. Cloud to illuminate Peghorn Nature Park with “Light up the Cloud” Page 27
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proposes plan to restart Florida State Guard civilian volunteer force Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced more than $100 million in funding proposals to support Florida’s National Guard and establish the Florida State Guard, a civilian volunteer force that will assist the National Guard in state-specific emergencies. The Governor’s budget proposal includes: • $87.5 million to expand the existing readiness center in Miramar and to establish three new armories in Homestead, Gainesville and Malabar; • $8.9 million for existing armory maintenance; • $2.2 million for a new headquarters for the National Guard Counter Drug Program; • $5.1 million to support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher-education degrees; and • $3.5 million to establish the Florida State Guard. “We are proud of our veterans and active-duty military members and proud of what our communities do to support them,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Florida is one of the most veteran-friendly states and I think there are very few places that you would rather be on duty than in the state of Florida. As a veteran, I really appreciate what everyone who wears the uniform does in our state and am excited about these proposals – they will go a long way and have a meaningful impact. In Florida, we are going to continue our momentum of supporting our military, supporting our veterans, and being good stewards of our military installations.” According to the governor, the civilian volunteer force would have about 200 members and would assist the National Guard with hurricane, natural disasters, and other state-specific emergency responses. The $3.5 million to establish the Florida State Guard will enable civilians to be trained in the best emergency response techniques. By establishing the Florida State Guard, Florida will become the 23rd state with a state guard recognized, but not funded, by the federal government. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 2
NEWS Commissioner Viviana Janer to host drive-thru Parranda Santa Christmas food distribution Friday, Dec. 17th The holiday season is a time for celebrating, being thankful, and spending valuable time with friends and family, but for some, it’s a reminder of the struggles they deal with every day – financial challenges, health challenges, and life challenges in general. District 2 Osceola County Commissioner Viviana Janer is inviting the community to a free, drive-thru Christmas Meal Distribution on Friday, December, 17th at 2 pm at Archie Gordon Memorial Park, located at 420 Buenaventura Blvd in Kissimmee. The first 500 families will receive a pernil – (pork butt), and Christmas meal staples. Please arrive early as supplies are expected to be distributed quickly. The food distribution event is for Osceola County residents only.
Commissioner Cheryl Grieb to host drive-thru Christmas food distribution Dec. 11th It’s said often, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, and it truly is for most people in and around the community, but for some, it’s a reminder of the struggles they deal with every day – financial challenges, health challenges, and in life challenges in general. District 4 Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb is inviting the community to a free, drivethru Christmas Food Distribution on Saturday, December 11 from 10:30 am to 1 pm at the Marydia Community Center, located at 707 Sawgrass Trail in Kissimmee. The food distribution will consist of Christmas Dinner Boxes and an Eye of Round Roast Beef and will be distributed to the first 120 Osceola County families to attend the event. The drive-thru food distribution event is in partnership with Osceola County, the Mercy Foundation, and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida with food donation boxes being distributed per Osceola County family.
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Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Celebrates First Birthday of Seacrest Studios
This week Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children celebrated the first birthday of its Seacrest Studio, a broadcast media center that radio and television host and producer, Ryan Seacrest, and his family, developed to help patients explore the creative realms of radio, television, and new media.
The space officially opened in December 2020 with a virtual ribbon cutting hosted by Ryan Seacrest. To protect the hospital’s patients and staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most of the activities inside the studio have been virtual until now. Today country music star and Ryan Seacrest Foundation ambassador Jordan Davis, and country music band, Restless Road, stopped by for the studio’s first live performances. Davis was the studio’s inaugural celebrity performance when he gave a virtual concert for patients last year. Another part of the celebration was a special red-carpet show where patients got to be the stars, participating in interviews, posing for photos and collecting awards and goodies. Patients also got to visit and snap photos with Santa Claus and a sand snowman, courtesy of the Coke Florida Holiday Caravan. “We are so excited to be celebrating one year of Seacrest Studios at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer,” said broadcast coordinator Anthony Grier. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we’ve been able to create so many fun and educational moments for our patients. This is just the beginning for us and I’m really looking forward to utilizing the studio to its full potential as we start to welcome more special guests to our space.” Seacrest Studios at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer is the first and only location inside a children’s hospital in Florida, and one of only 11 across the country. Complete with a green screen, cameras, microphones and a radio control board, the studio gives patients the opportunity to share the spotlight with guests and studio staff. Patients who are not able to leave their rooms are able to still participate in the fun through a closed-circuit television channel broadcasted throughout the hospital. “It has been an absolute joy to see the impact Seacrest Studios has had on the patients, families and staff at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer over the last year,” said Meredith Seacrest, Executive Director & COO of the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. “Being able to celebrate with the hospital in-person this year was so special, and we’re excited to see all that 2022 has in store for patient experiences and studio programming.” During the first year, the studio produced an average of 12 live shows per week and virtually hosted over 30 celebrities. A favorite program continues to be the interactive Bingo game show, where patients can compete from their rooms and call into the studio to win prizes. Particularly during these challenging times, the studio has played a huge role in enhancing the patient and family experience at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 4
NEWS Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber to host 2022 Three Kings Day celebration at Old Town Jan. 9th
Thanksgiving is behind us, and it won’t be long before Christmas and New Year’s are as well, but that won’t be the end of the holiday season. For many Christians around the world, including Spain, Latin America, and Osceola County, the holiday season will officially come to an end in January on the Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day (Día de los Reyes). This year’s Three King’s Day celebration will take place on Sunday, January 9, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Old Town (5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746). Three King’s Day celebration will include a brand-new free photo booth experience with the 3 Kings sponsored by Kissimmee Utility Authority. Children will be able to meet the 3 Kings and get a printed photo strip keepsake to take home. One of the most exciting aspects of the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber Three Kings Day event is the free raffle of brand-new bicycles throughout the day. A total of 50 or more bikes will be given away by the event’s end. Each child under 11 will receive a free raffle ticket for their chance to win a bike. Winning raffle tickets will be drawn at random and announced on-site from the stage. The winning ticket numbers will also be found on the Kissimmee/Osceola County Facebook Page. After you’ve enjoyed the Three Kings Day celebration, Positively Osceola encourages everyone to stroll through Old Town and enjoy the unforgettable family experience featuring a unique collection of shops, dining options, rides, and family-friendly attractions. Old Town is the recreation of a classic Florida town featuring historical architecture and distinctive storefronts. If you’ve never visited Old Town, or it’s been a while since you have set aside some time to do so. Positively Osceola considers it to be one of our favorite attractions in Osceola County and Central Florida!
St. Cloud Entertainment District Amendment, with outside alcohol consumption, passes 1st reading to city council St. Cloud’s City Council has approved on first reading the entertainment district amendment allowing the use of outside alcohol consumption for the downtown. The amendment will also allow for the creation of an event permit to increase the concentration of amenities and entertainment venues within a pedestrian-friendly segment of the city’s Downtown. Outdoor alcohol consumption is subject to the following regulations: From Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Dispensed by a registered, with the city and state, alcoholic beverage establishment; No more than 1 drink per valid ID for removal from premises; On a clear 16 fl. oz. plastic cup containing the approved Entertainment District Logo. Outdoor dining & drinking options became much more popular amid the ongoing pandemic, with restaurants and drinking establishments looking for creative ways to do business. The second and final reading is scheduled for Dec. 9th. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website!
Lake Nona Named 2021 Florida Automated Vehicles Summit Leadership and Innovation Award Winner The Lake Nona community has been named the 2021 Florida Automated Vehicles (FAV) Summit Leadership and Innovation Award recipient for excellence in advancing automated mobility technologies. Hailed as “the Future of Cities” by Fortune Magazine and created by the Tavistock Group, Lake Nona is an innovative smart city known for integrating cutting-edge technology to support mobility for residents and visitors, and the first community to receive this award. “Tavistock’s Lake Nona is setting the standard for automated mobility solutions for communities statewide and across the country,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “This award is a testament to Lake Nona’s culture of innovation and collaboration.” Lake Nona is currently home to the largest and longest autonomous vehicle network at one location in the country, Move Nona. The autonomous shuttle network, powered by BEEP, is part of Lake Nona’s comprehensive sustainable transportation plan that also includes the future home of America’s first high-speed, electric air mobility hub, the Lilium Lake Nona Vertiport scheduled to open by 2025. The vertiport is projected to serve more than 20 million Floridians with all-electric, vertical take-off, and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and is being built in partnership with German aviation company Lilium and the City of Orlando. Tavistock’s Lake Nona will be honored at the 2021 FAV Summit on November 30 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida. “It is our honor to name the Tavistock Group, Lake Nona as the 2021 FAV Summit Leadership and Innovation Award winner,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes, who has spearheaded legislative policies that position Florida as a leader in the autonomous and connected vehicle industry. “The work they have supported in the Orlando area for technologically advanced communities certainly makes them a leader in the field, and an organization to be celebrated.” Senator Brandes joins the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX), in hosting the 9th Annual 2021 FAV Summit in Orlando. For more information, visit www.favsummit.com. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 6
Kissimmee’s Miss Florida Ashley Cariño is Miss USA 2021’s second runner-up Fifty-one contestants traveled to the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete in the 70th Miss USA Pageant that took place on Monday, November 29, 2021. One of those was Ashley Ann Cariño Barreto of Kissimmee, and she was only two spots away from the win. Miss Barreto, who is the current Miss Florida, was the second runner-up in the pageant. It was Ellen ‘Elle” Smith of Germantown, Kentucky who won the title, with Caitlyn Vogel of Minot, North Dakota coming in 2nd. Cariño was born in Puerto Rico then moved to Kissimmee where she grew up. She attended the School District of Osceola County’s Professional and Technical High School and in 2015 she began working at Insight Behavioral Health Specialists in Kissimmee as a psychosocial rehabilitator. In July, Cariño competed in her first beauty pageant against 70 other ladies at the Miss Florida USA 2021 pageant at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts in Coral Springs and won. She is currently studying aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida and hopes to work at NASA after she graduates. On Saturday, Cariño rode along with Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez in the St. Cloud Christmas Parade and was loudly congratulated by the crowd as she passed by the grandstand. Congratulations to Ashley Ann Cariño Barreto for representing Kissimmee and Florida so excellently, and for making a positive difference in and around Osceola County! For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website!
Brandon Arrington named as Chair, Viviana Janer as Vice-chair by Osceola County Commissioners County Commissioners selected Brandon Arrington as Chair of the Osceola Board of County Commissioners for the upcoming year on Monday, effective immediately. Arrington is the first back-to-back chair since Ken Shipley in 2007 and 2008. It is his 5th one-year term as chairman, which is most leading the County Commission in the last 22 years. “I’m honored and humbled that the board has the confidence to select me once again to chair the County Commission,” Arrington said. “We remain focused on the future and I will do my best to continue leading us toward a better tomorrow. We’ve learned so much about the grit of our community over the last 2 years – and I’m confident that good things await in the New Year.” Arrington represents Osceola County District 3. First elected to office in 2008, he previously was selected as Chairman in 2011, 2015, 2017, and 2021. During the same meeting, District 2 Commissioner Viviana Janer was selected Vice Chair for the second straight time. “As we have for the past several years, I have no doubt that this board will remain steadfast in advancing projects that focus on public safety, affordable housing, infrastructure and our economy in the coming year,” Janer said. “Personally, I plan to focus efforts more on our seniors, as I feel the pandemic has shown us that this segment of our community can be overlooked.”
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For more information, contact the Osceola County Public Information Office at 407-742-0100 For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 8
MyChart Now Available
NEWS Osceola, St. Cloud, Kissimmee Fire Agencies Encourage the Community to Keep the Wreath Green Osceola County Fire Rescue & EMS, along with the City of Kissimmee Fire Department and the St. Cloud Fire Rescue Department are participating in a digital Keep the Wreath Green campaign this year. The goal of the program is to remind residents of the importance of fire safety through the holidays. The wreath, lit initially by all green bulbs, will light one red bulb for each house fire through the month of December. This past week, crews with the County and two cities responded to one serious residential structure fire, turning one green bulb from the wreath red. All three fire rescue agencies are encouraging the community to follow safety guidance regarding heating, cooking, electrical safety and smoke alarms, so that no additional bulbs will turn red and all residents in Osceola County will enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.
Commissioner Brandon Arrington to Host Drive-Thru Christmas Food Distribution on Saturday, December 18th The holiday season is a time for celebrating, being thankful, and spending valuable time with friends and family, but for some, it’s a reminder of the struggles they deal with every day – financial challenges, health challenges, and life challenges in general. District 3 Commissioner Brandon Arrington is inviting the community to a free, drive-thru Christmas Meal Distribution on Saturday, December 18 at 10:30 am at St. Rose of Lima Church, located at 3880 Pleasant Hill Road in Kissimmee. Christmas Dinner Boxes will be distributed to the first 600 families. This is a drive-thru event. Food boxes will be distributed one per car. Please arrive early and drive safely as you near the food distribution area.
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Diane Caroline Robinson PhD – Neuropsychology Orlando Health
Orlando Health: Understanding the Emotional Side of Cancer Treatment Between chemotherapy, radiation, frequent doctor’s visits, and some of the side effects of cancer treatment, we often focus on how patients physically cope with the disease. But there’s another aspect of cancer care that is equally as important: the emotional and psychological side of each patient’s cancer journey. One analysis of more than 10,000 patients with cancer indicated that 19 percent showed signs of anxiety, while nearly 13 percent exhibited symptoms that indicated clinical depression. When someone who has cancer feels anxious or depressed, it can have a significant impact on their outcome and overall prognosis. Unfortunately, patients with cancer often aren’t adequately screened for depression or anxiety, and this may be because much of the focus is on their physical treatment and getting them well. This is why it’s so important for the field of psychooncology to continue to grow and become part of the way many hospitals and medical institutions approach cancer care. Psycho-oncology focuses on the emotional well-being of patients, from diagnosis through treatment and after therapy. The goal is to understand and treat the emotional, psychological, social and spiritual needs of each patient to give them the best chance of survival. It’s a more holistic approach to cancer treatment beyond the physical therapies a patient endures. At UF Health Cancer Center — Orlando Health, we’ve put this approach into practice through our Cancer Support Community (CSC). Through CSC we provide five key resources for patients, including support groups, education, healthy living, referrals and social connections. CSC offers programs for patients, their family members and caregivers, providing them with an emotional outlet to share their feelings about their own or their loved one’s cancer journey. The mind, body, spirit connection is an integral part of physical and emotional well-being, so CSC programs also feature, Tai-Chi, yoga and Arts in Medicine monthly workshops on learning many different types of art mediums like watercolor and acrylic painting. There also are ongoing learning series, which may cover topics such as nutrition and wellness, the importance of sleep, speaking openly about cancer, as well as health insurance information sessions. Every month, we have a calendar of events where patients can find all kinds of support and resources to meet their needs. Groups like the Cancer Support Community are critical because a diagnosis of cancer often comes with significant stress for patients and their families. What makes the CSC program so unique is that it’s based on research and an understanding of what kinds of interventions work best to help patients feel better and give them the emotional and psychological support necessary to deal with cancer treatment. What we know from our research is that by reducing anxiety and depression we improve healing time in patients, and ultimately, their quality of life. Psycho-oncology is an evolving field and it’s become such an important sub-specialty in cancer care that the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued clinical guidelines in 2014 for screening, assessing and managing depression and anxiety in patients with cancer and the Commission on Cancer made screening for distress one of their standards for Cancer Center’s to be accreditated. ASCO recommends that patients with cancer and cancer survivors be screened periodically throughout their cancer journey and that health practitioners regularly follow up and assess patients to ensure they’ve followed through with treatment recommendations and are satisfied with the therapy services they are receiving. These guidelines are just one of the ways we can ensure patients get holistic cancer care and that we as doctors treat the whole patient — not just the diagnosis. It’s in the best interest of patients for us to focus more on the emotional and psychological side of cancer care, and efforts like the Cancer Support Community help us make sure patients have access to the resources they need. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 10
AT ST. CLOUD MARINA BANQUET HALL DECEMBER 13 1 PM - 4 PM
Join us for on-the-spot job offers, raffles, giveaways and MORE! This hiring event will be recruiting team members for Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital.
Clinical and Non-Clinical Positions Being Recruited Include: CLINICAL
RNs (All Specialties)
• • • • • •
Learning Specialists Nursing Assistants
Surgical Technologists And MORE!
Endoscopy Technicians Pharmacy Technicians CT Technologists
Mental Health Therapists And MORE!
• • • • • • •
Food & Nutrition Guest Services
Front Office Assistants
Scheduling Coordinators Plant Engineers
HVAC Technicians And MORE!
St. Cloud Marina Banquet Hall is located at 1104 Lakeshore Blvd, St. Cloud, FL 34769
To register, visit OrlandoHealth.com/HiringEvent
ON STAGE THRU DECEMBER 19TH TICKETS
SPORTS Maniace Signs with West Virginia Tech, Osceola Starts 2-0 in Hoops Here’s a quick look at what’s happening in and around Osceola County sports… BOYS BASKETBALL In Steve Mason’s return as head coach, Osceola started its hoop season with a 2-0 record, taking narrow wins over Colonial (59-53) and West Orange (72-63). Behind Mitchell Starks’ 13.3 points per game, Celebration got off to a 2-0 start before being manhandled last Friday, 60-23, by Gateway (2-1). Poinciana (1-1) lost an 80-35 decision to state power Oak Ridge on Friday. St. Cloud opened the season with losses to Bartow and Liberty. Josh Camejo was averaging 13 points a game in the early going for Tohopekaliga (2-2). Juniors Miguel Tirado (15.8 ppg) and Rafael Balines (12.0 ppg) are averaging double figures for Harmony (3-2). Under first-year head coach Lawrence Kelly, the Liberty Chargers started the season 2-1. GIRLS BASKETBALL The class of the county for Osceola County public schools is Gateway (5-1), whose only loss came last weekend to state-power Cocoa. The Panthers average margin of victory in their five wins has been 42.8 points. Gateway will face a still challenge on Tuesday when they host Central Florida Christian Academy (4-0) at 6 p.m. Junior Kennedi Johnson hit a reverse layup at the buzzer, as St. Cloud went to 3-2 on the season with a 46-44 win over Okeechobee. Senior Samara Calso is averaging 12.5 points per game as Poinciana is off to a 4-1 start this season. WRESTLING Osceola High sent just three wrestlers to the prestigious Border Wars IX Tournament in the Florida panhandle this past weekend and came away with three champions. The tournament featured 21 teams from Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. The three Osceola wrestlers (Gunner Holland, Cooper Haase, and Anderson Heap) all went undefeated in pool play on Friday to gain high seeds in Saturday’s championship round. Heap claimed the first title for Osceola, going 8-0 in the tournament and defeating Chiles (Tallahassee) High’s Garrett Marschka by an 8-0 score in the126-lb. final. Haase racked up a 7-0 record in the tournament and recorded a 24-8 technical fall over Gulf Breeze’s Colson Elliot in the 132-lb. final; while Holland went 9-0 in the tournament, beating Mosely’s Nick Hejke, 13-2, in the 152-lb. final. BOYS SOCCER Celebration (4-0-2) is off to a great start this season, registering five shutouts in their first six games and outscoring their opposition by a 28-1. Ten different players have scored goals for the Storm this year, including four each by Oscar Vazquez, Mohammad Raky and Edgar Marquez. Celebration has two road games on tap this week, playing at St. Cloud on Wednesday and at Osceola on Thursday. Tohopekaliga was the only other county public school with a winning record after Week Two, checking with at 3-1-2; while Harmony was 2-3-1 but had played an extremely difficult schedule – with the three losses coming to Lake Howell, Heritage, and Space Coast, teams that have a combined 13-1-2 record this season. GIRLS SOCCER Harmony was off to a solid start with a 3-1-1 record and has matches this week against Lake Howell and Liberty. Gateway (2-1-0) was the only other team with a winning record in the county; while Poinciana was 2-2-0. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website!
SPORTS UCF Accepts Invitation to Battle Florida Gators in Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa For the fifth time in history, the UCF football team is headed to the Tampa Bay area for a postseason bowl game, this time to play in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl against the Florida Gators. UCF (8-4) will meet Southeastern Conference representative Florida (6-6) at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, in 40,277seat Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, in the Gasparilla Bowl. “We’re excited to be playing in the Gasparilla Bowl against a quality in-state opponent like Florida. This is a great opportunity for our fans being right down the road at a place our program has had a lot of success. We’re really looking forward to heading over to Tampa, said UCF head coach Gus Malzahn“ It’s a program-record sixth consecutive postseason bowl appearance for the Knights, the ninth in 10 seasons, and the 13th in 17 years. UCF also previously played in the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1987 and in the NCAA FCS Playoffs in 1990 and 1993. The Knights have played twice each in the Fiesta Bowl (following 2014 and 2018 seasons), Liberty Bowl (2007 and 2010) and St. Petersburg Bowl (2009 and 2014) and once each in the Hawaii Bowl (2005), Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (2012), Cure Bowl (2016), Peach Bowl (2017), Gasparilla Bowl (2019) and Boca Raton Bowl (2020). This will be the seventh time UCF has played a bowl game in the state of Florida—after three previous appearances in the St. Petersburg/Beef O’Brady’s game and one each in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, the Gasparilla Bowl and the Boca Raton Bowl. The Gasparilla Bowl has been played since 2008—in 2008-09 as the St. Petersburg Bowl, 2010-13 as the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, 2014 as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, 2015-16 as the St. Petersburg and since 2017 as the Gasparilla Bowl (with UCF playing in the game in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2019). The game originally was played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and moved to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium in 2018. UCF head coach Gus Malzahn has seen his teams qualify for postseason bowl games in all 10 years he has been a head coach, including six appearances in New Year’s Day games: 2013 in BCS National Championship Game vs. Florida State, 2014 in Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin, 2015 in Birmingham Bowl win vs. Memphis, 2016 in Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma, 2017 in Peach Bowl vs. UCF, 2018 in Music City Bowl win vs. Purdue and 2019 Outback Bowl vs. Minnesota. Malzahn’s 2012 Arkansas State team qualified for a bowl game—but he already had accepted the head coaching job at Auburn and did not coach the bowl game. He also did not coach the Auburn bowl game after the 2020 season after leading the Tigers to the Citrus Bowl vs. Northwestern. Malzahn was 0-1 against Florida during his tenure at Auburn—with the 10th-rated Gators defeating the Tigers 24-13 in Gainesville in 2019. UCF and Florida will meet for the third time following two previous games played at Florida—with the Gators recording wins by counts of 42-0 in 2006 and 58-27 in 1999. The two programs also are slated to meet on Oct. 5, 2024, in Gainesville, Sept. 14, 2030, in Orlando and Sept. 3, 2033, in Gainesville. This marks the fifth time UCF has faced a current Southeastern Conference member in a bowl game— following wins over Auburn (Peach Bowl in 2017) and Georgia (Liberty in 2010) and losses to LSU (Fiesta in 2018) and Mississippi State (Liberty in 2007). UCF’s lone regular-season win over an SEC team is a victory at Alabama in 2000. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 20
By J. Daniel Pearson For Positively Osceola
It’s JD’s Weekly Musings, talking College Football, Alabama, Georgia, UCF The college football transfer portal is a two-edged sword. On one hand, boosters and fans scream and cry about no loyalty when a kid leaves their program and then the same group turns around and gushes nothing but love when a kid transfers into their program. How is there any consistency in that message? At least coaches are smart enough to realize it is a new reality. UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn takes it a step further by openly embracing the portal and calling UCF “an unbelievable place for transfers”….
Speaking of loyalty, the coaching carousel is still spinning around at warp speed and it has been fascinating to watch. A lot of people – including my friend and Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi – bashed Brian Kelly for leaving Notre Dame the way he did, as the Irish were still theoretically in contention for a playoff spot. Mike noted that when Scott Frost left UCF “he did it the right way” and coached the team through its bowl game. But the truth of the matter is there is no good way to leave and a lot has changed since Frosts’ departure. In defense of Kelly, he was offered a 300% raise and LSU wanted an answer. Furthermore, when Frost left UCF it was only the first year of the critical early signing period, where no one really knew the implications that would bring. Fast forward to today when 90% of the four and five-star recruits sign early, and it is a lot easier to understand why schools want to get their new coach on board as soon as possible… Quote of the Day — “I’ve become sick of chasing my dreams. From now on, I am just going to ask them where they are going and will try to hook up with them later”…
Memorial Service for George Coffey on December 11th at OHS Softball Complex Saturday morning December 11th at 11 am will be a time of remembering, honoring and celebrating the life of Coach George Coffey, the man that essentially built the Osceola High School softball program, and recently passed away in Sarasota, Florida. The memorial service will take place at the Osceola High School Softball Complex. Feel free to come wearing your favorite Kowboys colors. The service will be LIVE streamed by Positively Osceola. Coffey served as head coach at Osceola for 26 seasons. His teams won 13 Orange Belt Conference championships, nine district titles, and four regional championships. In addition to his four appearances in the Final Four, his 1996 team finished as state runner-ups. He was credited with overseeing Osceola’s switch from slow-pitch to fast-pitch softball and for building the Osceola softball complex that now bears his name. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website!
SPORTS Central Florida Bowl Season to Have Hawkeye Flavor The Central Florida college football bowl season will have a definite Hawkeye State flavor to it, as the Iowa State Cyclones (7-5, 5-4) have accepted a bid to play #19 Clemson University (9-3, 6-2) in the Cheezit Bowl and the University of Iowa (10-3, 7-2) will meet #22 Kentucky (9-3, 5-3) in the 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl. The 32nd edition of the Cheezit Bowl will take place at 5:45 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 29, and will be televised nationally by ESPN. The Vrbo Citrus Bowl will take place at 1 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 1 and will be televised nationally by ABC. Both games are owned and operated by Florida Citrus Sports and will be played at Camping World Stadium. This year’s Cheez-It Bowl will be the first meeting between the Cyclones and Tigers and just the second Orlando bowl trip for Iowa State, which returns to Central Florida after facing Notre Dame in the December 2019 game, known at the time as the Camping World Bowl. Clemson will be making its fourth appearance in the Cheez-It Bowl and its first appearance since 2014 when the Tigers defeated Oklahoma in what was then known as the Russell Athletic Bowl. Clemson has also appeared in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl three times (1988, 1989, and 1992) and won the 2016 ACC Championship Game over Virginia Tech at Camping World Stadium. The contest will be the first-ever meeting between the Wildcats and Hawkeyes and will also mark the 75th anniversary of the inaugural edition of the game, played on Jan. 1, 1947, on the same site. Offensively, the Hawkeyes are paced by quarterback Spencer Petras, who threw for 1,669 yards and nine touchdowns this year while also adding five rushing touchdowns. Junior running back Tyler Goodson (1,151 yards and six touchdowns) leads the Hawkeyes rushing attack, while tight end Sam LaPorta (548 yards and two touchdowns) and wide receiver Keagan Johnson (352 yards and two touchdowns) pace the Hawkeyes receiving corps. The Kentucky offense is led by quarterback Will Levis, who ranks in the top 50 nationally and top five in the SEC in passing yards (2,593 yards) and has 32 total touchdowns (23 passing, nine rushing) this season. Junior Chris Rodriguez is Kentucky’s top-producing running back with 1,272 yards and eight rushing scores, while Wan’Dale Robinson (1,164 yards and seven touchdowns) and Josh Ali (601 yards and three touchdowns) lead the Wildcats wideouts. The Wildcats enter this matchup allowing an average of 22.08 points and 336.4 total yards per game on the season, holding opposing offenses to just 117.2 rushing yards per game (17th in the nation). Linebacker Jacquez Jones leads the team with 82 tackles, while fellow linebackers J.J. Weaver (34 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and DeAndre Square (75 tackles and three sacks) have also had strong seasons. UCF (8-4) will meet the Florida Gators (6-6) in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. The Gators have only faced Central Florida twice since the program joined the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1996 — a 58-27 win in 1999 and a 42-0 victory in 2006 en route to a national title. The game will be an early preview of a regular-season series announced earlier by the two schools. Florida is scheduled to play in Gainesville in 2024 and 2033, while it will travel to the Bounce House in Orlando in 2030. Under first year head coach Gus Malzahn, the Knights struggled with injuries all season but won five of their last six games. Freshman quarterback Mikey Keene took over in Week 4 for the injured Dillon Gabriel and finished the season by completing 63.6% of his passes for 1586 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Defensively the Knights are led by defensive stalwarts Tatum Bethune (101 tackles) and Big Kat Bryant (14 tackles-for-loss, 6 quarterback sacks). The Gators became bowl eligible with a 24-21 win over Florida State in their season finale. The Florida offense is led by running back Dameon Pierce, who rushed for 517 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 22
REAL ESTATE Goodwin Realty: Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality If you’re living on your own and looking to buy a home, know that you can make your dream a reality with thoughtful planning and the right team of experts. Research from Freddie Mac shows 28% of all households (36.1 million) are sole-person, and that number is growing. Over the past 40 years, the number of soleperson households has nearly doubled, and that’s a trend that’s expected to continue. According to Freddie Mac: “Our calculation suggests that there will be an additional 5 million sole-person households in the United States by the next decade. This means 42% of the household growth will be contributed by sole-person households, . . .” If you fall into this category, here are three tips to help you achieve your homeownership goals. 1. Know Your Credit Score When you buy a home on your own, you have to qualify for your loan based solely on your own finances and credit history. Investopedia says: “. . . lenders will be looking at just one credit profile: yours. Needless to say, it has to be in great shape. It is always a good idea to review your credit report beforehand, and this is especially true of solo buyers.” It’s important to find out your score so you know where it falls. If you’re not sure if it’s strong enough or where to focus your energy to improve it, meet with a professional for expert advice on your individual situation. 2. Explore Down Payment Options Next, look into down payment programs so you can get a feel for what you’ll need to save to buy a home. Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource, explains: “Buyers should discuss their program options with their loan officer and real estate agent to make sure they choose the program best suited to their personal needs.” In this step, lean on the pros to determine what you’re eligible for and what’s right for you. 3. Think About Your Future Home and Your Needs You should also spend time thinking about what you want. What type of home do you picture yourself in? To answer that question, Quicken Loans shares this advice: “Think about your lifestyle, what you want out of your home and your needs. Is being close to work important? Do you need a lot of yard space? Do you want an extra bedroom that you can transform into a home office? Condo or detached home? Lots of space for entertaining? It’s all up to you (and your budget).” Again, a professional can help you balance what you want and how much you should spend on your monthly housing costs to determine what type of home is right for you. While buying a home solo can feel like a big challenge, it doesn’t have to be. If you lean on the professionals, they can help you navigate these waters and make sure you’re able to take advantage of the great opportunities in today’s housing market (like low mortgage rates) to buy your dream home. Bottom Line The share of sole-person households is growing. If you’re looking to buy a home on your own, be confident that the dream is achievable. When you’re ready to begin your search, let’s connect so you have expert advice each step of the way. Just call us at (407) 846-2787 today. We’ve been serving the community for over 48 years. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website!
REAL ESTATE Goodwin Realty: Why Now Is a Great Time To Sell Your House As we near the end of the year, more homeowners are realizing the benefits of today’s sellers’ market. Recordbreaking home price appreciation, growing equity, low inventory, and competitive mortgage rates are motivating homeowners to make a move that addresses their changing lifestyles. In fact, recent data from realtor.com shows a larger share of homeowners are planning to list their houses this winter. So, that means more homes are about to hit the market, which will lead to more choices for buyers too. According to George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research at realtor.com: “The pandemic has delayed plans for many Americans, and homeowners looking to move on to the next stage of life are no exception. Recent survey data suggests the majority of prospective sellers are actively preparing to enter the market this winter.“ If you’re thinking of waiting until the spring to sell your house, know that your neighbors may be one step ahead of you by selling this winter. If you want to stand out from the crowd, this holiday season is the best time to make sure your house is available for buyers. Here’s why. Sellers Are Still Firmly in the Driver’s Seat Historically, a 6-month supply of homes for sale is needed for a normal or neutral market. That level ensures there are enough homes available for active buyers (see graph below):Why Now Is a Great Time To Sell Your House | MyKCMThe latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the inventory of houses for sale sits at a 2.4-month supply. This is well below a neutral market. What Does That Mean for You? When the supply of homes for sale is as low as it is today, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. This drives up competition among buyers, who then submit increasingly competitive offers to win out against others in the home search process. As this happens, prices rise and your leverage as a seller rises too, putting you in the best position to negotiate a contract that meets your ideal terms. And while the low housing supply we’re facing won’t be solved overnight, sellers this season should move quickly to maximize their potential. As the data shows, with more prospective sellers planning to list their homes this winter, selling sooner rather than later helps your house rise to the top of a holiday buyer’s wish list so you can close the best possible deal. Bottom Line Listing your home over the next few weeks gives you the best chance to be in front of buyers competing for homes this holiday season. Let’s connect today to discuss how you can benefit from today’s sellers’ market. Just call (407) 846-2787. We’d love to speak to you soon! For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 24
COMMUNITY Orlando Health: Fun and (Secretly) Healthy Holiday Gifts for Kids When selecting a child’s gift for the holidays this year, think of educational toys that stimulate learning, inspire imagination, or encourage the use of fine and gross motor skills. The trick to choosing the perfect present for your tot or teen is finding something age-appropriate that sparks their interest while supporting key areas of development. Gifts by Age Play is elemental no matter your child’s age, and age-appropriate gifts are essential for both engagement and safety. Newborn to 2 years Many infant toys are designed to grow with your child. Choose toys that nurture this early stage of development, focusing initially on exploring the senses with sights, sounds, touch, and music, and progressing to become more interactive with buttons and ride-on or push features. Safety is also especially important for the youngest on your list. Make sure toys don’t contain pieces that can pop off, could be choked on or swallowed. If they’re easy to clean, that’s a plus. 3 to 6 years Don’t be afraid to make a mess. Molding clay, kinetic sand, art kits, and crafts are excellent for exploring creativity and honing fine motor skills for toddlers and younger kids. Train fine motor skills with puzzles, games that feature counting and letter recognition, and building blocks. Cars, construction vehicles, dolls, and figurines all help children engage in imaginative play while keeping them active and moving. 7 to 12 years Time to upgrade your current games, puzzles, and building blocks. Try more advanced board games that focus on strategy. Physical activity is the key to refining gross motor skills and is as important as refining fine motor skills. Encourage exercise with gifts of sports equipment or activities like riding a bike or scooter. Be sure to remember protective gear. 13 years and up Once your child reaches their teens, search for off-screen activities. Kits that provide materials for building robots, craft rockets and racetracks, as well as more advanced building sets all help to enrich STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning. Sporting equipment and active outing experiences as gifts are also great for this age group. Healthy Approach to Video Games It’s rare to find a child who doesn’t have the latest video game system on their holiday wish list. But when choosing video games, follow the advice of the experts who know. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages screen time before 18 months, but once your child is older, screen time should be interactive. For the younger set, look for educational videos, games, and apps and try to play them together. Older children can enjoy virtual reality consoles or gaming systems that place them into action, playing a sport, or dancing. This keeps your child active even though they are using a screen. For any video game, be sure to read reviews and verify the appropriate player age group. Gamers will often review and preview games on their YouTube channels, which is a great way for you to do your due diligence before giving the OK for your child to play. Keep in mind that screen time is cumulative, and the AAP recommends no more than one hour each day for children under 5 and two hours a day for older children, school use excluded. For example, if your child is video chatting with friends and then playing a video game, both activities factor into the screen time tally for the day.
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COMMUNITY Osceola County Commission Approves Agreement with Fire Union Osceola County Commissioners unanimously approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the local Firefighters’ union on Monday. The agreement with Osceola Professional Firefighters Association Local #3284 is retroactively effective from Oct. 1, 2019, and runs through Sept. 30, 2022. For firefighters, the agreement means a new pay structure and pay increases dating back to the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The County gained having union members on the current health insurance rates and inclusion in the County’s drug/alcohol-free workplace policy. “Negotiations are always about compromise, but I think all parties involved in this agreement can walk away feeling their efforts resulted in a fair and equitable outcome,” said Chair. “For the public, they can rest easy knowing that our first-responders are being fairly compensated while being held to the highest of standards in representing Osceola County.” In recent years, the Osceola County Board of County Commissioners has committed millions to fire rescue, including: • $22 million for three fire stations replacements and a new training facility. • $10 million for property for future fire stations. • $7.1 million for land and construction of the new Austin Tindal Fire Station, which is scheduled to break ground in early 2022. • This year’s budget includes funding for two more stations – one in Poinciana and another at Calypso Cay near West U.S. 192 and County Road 535. The County has also invested heavily in equipment replacement as in: • Fire apparatus replacement program costs are approximately $1.5 million per year. • Fire tools and equipment depreciation item spending is between $200,000 and $300,000 annually. • This year, bunker gear will be replaced at a cost of $2 million.
La Junta de Comisionados del Condado Osceola aprobó por unanimidad un nuevo acuerdo de negociación colectiva con la Unión local de bomberos el lunes. El acuerdo con Osceola Professional Firefighters Association Local #3284 es retroactivamente efectivo desde el 1 de octubre de 2019 y se extiende hasta el 30 de septiembre de 2022. Para los bomberos, el acuerdo significa una nueva estructura y aumentos salariales que se remontan al año fiscal 2019-2020. El condado logró tener miembros de la unión en las tarifas actuales de seguro médico y la inclusión en la política de lugar de trabajo libre de drogas y alcohol. “Las negociaciones siempre tienen que ver con el compromiso, pero creo que todas las partes involucradas en este acuerdo pueden sentirse que sus esfuerzos dieron un resultado justo y equitativo,” dijo el presidente Brandon Arrington. “Para el público, pueden estar tranquilos sabiendo que nuestros socorristas están siendo compensados de manera justa mientras se les mantiene en los más altos estándares al representar al Condado Osceola.” En los últimos años, la Junta de Comisionados del Condado Osceola ha comprometido millones para el Departamento de Bomberos, que incluyen: • $22 millones para tres estaciones y una nueva instalación de capacitación contra incendios. • $10 millones para propiedad para nuevas estaciones de bomberos. • $7.1 millones para terreno y construcción de la estación de bomberos de Austin Tindal, que está programada para romper terreno en diciembre. • El presupuesto de este año incluye fondos para dos estaciones más, una en Poincianay otra en Calypso Cay, cerca de West U.S. 192 y County Road 535. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 26
COMMUNITY St. Cloud to illuminate Peghorn Nature Park with “Light up the Cloud” The City of St. Cloud is bringing a glow to the season with its Light up the Cloud event from Friday, December 17th through Sunday, December 19th. Peghorn Nature Park will be open to the public for a whimsical walk along the trail under a canopy of beautiful holiday lights. There will be delicious hot beverages, cookies, joyful singing, and holiday cheer for the whole family. Admission is $5 per person and this brilliantly lighted event will take place from 6 pm to 10 pm each night. For more information contact St. Cloud Parks and Recreation at 407-957-7243.
Huntington How-To Webinar Series: The PSAT: Taking the Next Steps After Receiving Your Scores The PSAT is a preliminary college entrance exam intended to help students prepare for the experience of taking the SAT and can also be used to identify National Merit Scholars and award merit scholarships. Now that your student has taken the PSAT, what are the next steps? During Huntington Learning Center‘s next FREE webinar, their education expert will provide an overview of the PSAT and what steps students need to take each year of high school through their senior year after taking this exam. The webinar will cover: • What the PSAT is and how to interpret the score • Sophomore year planning • Junior and senior year college checklists • How Huntington can help teens prepare for college • Your questions during our Q&A section of the webinar To register for the FREE webinar on Thursday, December 9 at 1 pm, go to HuntingtonHelps.com. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website!
Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida Resort… not to be missed! Be sure to make Legoland Florida Resort one of your first holiday celebrating stops. This jolly time of year features a giant LEGO Christmas tree, unforgettable seasonal shows, holiday characters, special treats, LEGO® activities, twinkling lights and more during Holidays at LEGOLAND®! And, an extra special gift for you – this festive event is included in general admission!
The LEGO® holidays crew is back again for more merry meet-n-greets! See LEGO Gingerbread, Holiday Unikitty, the man, the minifigure himself, LEGO Santa, and more! Don’t miss your chance to add a little LEGO® magic to the holidays with these awesome character experiences… and don’t worry, they’ll be sure to keep the elf antics to a minimum! Check out our delightfully dazzling holiday shows, Santa approved of course, throughout the park all season long! Catch a spectacular Nightly New Year’s Eve Fireworks show that will be filling up the skies December 26th31st and why not try some holly jolly-themed food and drinks too! Combine all of them and you are sure to have an unforgettable outdoor holiday experience! Dec 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 24-31 Included on daily tickets, Awesome, Awesomer, and Awesomest Annual Passes. For more information visit legoland.com/florida/things-to-do/seasonal-events/holidays For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website! 28
ENTERTAINMENT Experience SeaWorld’s Sparkling Christmas Celebration Through January 2nd Gather your family and join all of your festive friends at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration through January 2nd as SeaWorld transforms into a winter wonderland sparkling with holiday cheer, excitement, and over 3 million beautiful lights. Experience award-winning entertainment like the showstopping ice-skating extravaganza Winter Wonderland on Ice, Orca Encounter, Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale, Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale, Sesame Street Christmas Parade, Sounds of the Season Performance Series, and so much more! Meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, capture the majestic wonder of the Orca Encounter with a Christmas flare, or head to Wild Arctic and visit with Santa himself. Create unforgettable holiday memories with a magical Christmas celebration you can only find at SeaWorld. It’s time to see the world again, at SeaWorld Orlando.
Oh, What Fun! Holiday Festival at Lake Nona Town Center Step into a spectacular winter wonderland with holiday magic around every corner at Lake Nona’s annual holiday festival, Oh, What Fun! Lake Nona Town Center is filled with festive dancing, singing, laughing and… snow! Take a walk through Town Center, or Peppermint Square as it’s called through the holiday season, and enjoy a holiday beverage, some delicious fare from food trucks and pop-up food stands, or spend some time with Mr. and Mrs. Claus with the kids. Enjoy live shows throughout the festival at Starlight Stage in front of “The Beacon” including dance parties with everyone’s favorite MC, Peppermint the Penguin. There will be lots of arts and crafts for little ones and classic holiday movies at Boxi Park with costume contests, trivia, and more. It’s all part of Oh, What Fun! Holiday Festival through January 2, 2022. Visit Ohwhatfunlakenona.com for more information. For more Positively Osceola, visit our Social Media & Website!