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Summer 2019




Summer 2019


Apropos of Nothing | Jamie Beckett Everybody loves Orlando. And why not? Fun attractions around every turn—and that rollercoaster called I-4. Wow.


Crossword Theme: Europe 101. Answer key on page 13.


Pen & Ink Artist “Sketch” | Jeff Roslow Pen and ink artist Brad “Sketch” Grirus won the first place at the 863 Local Art Fest in April. See his work, learn his story.


Cover: Water, A Precious Resource | Jeff Roslow Whether for fun, living, and/or economic use, water is precious and the City of Winter Haven is doing right by it.


A Thank You: 863 Local Art Fest See photos of the winners of the 5th Annual 863 Local Art Fest and find out the date for next year’s event.




The 863 Magazine

Editor | Publisher Note


f the Old Farmer’s Almanac is right, we’re in for a wetter- and coolerthan-normal summer. Okay, cooler sounds good, and frankly, wetter does, too. With 554 lakes in Polk County that could always use a good refilling, this upcoming summer season should do just nicely. And thankfully, we have folks that watch those lake levels and water qualities year-round. Our cover story this issue is about the precious resource: water. We can’t live without it and it shouldn’t be taken for granted, ie. waste not, want not. The municipalities have their ways of protecting this precious resource and we’ve taken a look at Winter Haven, specifically, as it is the “Chain of Lakes City.” Turn to page 10 to find out what they’re doing in to protect the lake levels and the quality of therein.

Folks, we have a winner! A pen and ink artist won the top prize this year at the 863’s Local Art Fest. He makes a living as a tattoo artist and so it’s not that far of a stretch that “Sketch” won first place. And yes, that’s actually his nickname. His story starts on page 8. Apropos of Nothing is the name of the column he writes, but our local funny man Jamie Beckett isn’t joking around about driving (or trying to drive) on I-4. Well, on second thought, yes he is. After all, it’s kind of a big local joke, so why not poke some fun at it? You might notice that we’ve combined our two magazines, The 863 Magazine and Your Healthy Polk, into one product. This is the first “double” issue and we hope you enjoy it.

Our good friend Jai Maa still has an article—look for it on the YHP side. You can find all her good words from all previous issues of both The 863 Magazine and Your Healthy Polk on their respective websites: The863Magazine. com and And each magazine side still has its own crossword puzzle. Because, you know. Puzzles are fun. Until autumn...

Sergio & Andrea Cruz Publisher | Editor

Publisher & Ad Sales Sergio Cruz |



Jamie Beckett Sergio Cruz Jeff Roslow

Andrea Cruz |

Art Director Alejandro F. Cruz |

Cover Designer Deborah Coker

On the Cover Lake Howard is one of the 554 lakes in Polk County, and is one of the many lakes in the “Chain of Lakes City,” Winter Haven. Our cover story is about how this precious resource—water—is being preserved and protected. Turn to page 10. Photo by Sergio Cruz.

Publisher | Editor Photo The Cruz family, from upper left: Alejandro, Sergio, and Oliver; in front: Andrea. Finally we went on a cruise again. It’s been about four years but the cruising Cruzes managed to get away for a week together on their third cruise and visit some nearby islands: the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten (the Dutch side). How lucky we all are to live where we live...

The 863 Magazine is a product of Polk Media, Inc., a woman- and minority-owned business. For more info visit us online: or

Visit us online at, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


The 863 Magazine

Apropos of Nothing By Jamie Beckett

Orlando has finally grown up. How, you ask? By making its section of I-4 the best ever. So much fun. Wouldn’t you agree?


t’s time for rejoicing in Central Florida. Orlando, our anchor city, the shining beacon of hope that attracts enough tourism dollars to keep our fair state fiscally solvent, has finally upgraded to become one of the great American cities.

had some catching up to do. Boston had the Big Dig, which snarled traffic for a decade and a half, cost nearly seven times the original estimates, and ultimately pushed traffic into a big hole in the ground, ostensibly never to be seen again.

ponent of the pavement has been improved with the addition of dips and rises built directly into the highway. This gives the entire family the ability to share in the fun of a high-speed roller coaster ride that may, or may not end well.

It’s about time.

New York City has West Side Drive, where established travel lanes are a mere suggestion, compliance with traffic signals is entirely optional, and bashing into other cars like NASCAR drivers heading for the finish line is perfectly acceptable behavior. Plus, all shoulders and break-down lanes on New York roadways are required to be blocked off for at least 10 months each year. This simple regulation alone guarantees that an event as pedestrian as a flat tire will back up traffic for miles. This often causes drivers to abandon their cars in frustration, rent an apartment, and relocate to New York right on the spot.

Arbitrary changes in lane width add to the dramatic effect. Taken as a whole, the physiological and psychological reactions one experiences while blasting through the downtown death center really validates the logic behind making these changes. With eyes widened in fear, tourists will now take in much more of what Orlando has to offer with their peripheral vision. Adding to that intrigue you’ll find a smattering of truly aggressive, testosterone-fueled young men who’ve had a few drinks, blasting through traffic at insane speeds, changing lanes indiscriminately, while testing the integrity of the concrete barriers. The shower of sparks that result can be just beautiful.

Founded in the mid-1800s, Orlando was always a bit of an also-ran as cities go. Sanford had a bigger port, and so was a far more important economic hub in the old days. Tampa was on the Gulf of Mexico and had a better supply of hand-rolled cigars. And Miami had topless beaches – which was a huge draw for the tourist trade even then. The kids from the College of William and Mary really made a mess of the place during the spring break of 1868. You might remember, that was the year Virginia State Senator Beverly Douglas was ejected from a wet t-shirt contest at the Copacabana Room, before stealing all the senior boy’s top hats and canes from the cloak room in retaliation. Tired of living in the shadow of the great northern cities for more than 100 years, the Orlando City Council took it upon themselves to update the city’s infrastructure to bring it into line with what people expect when visiting a city of great importance. They’ve done it, too. Anyone who has driven Interstate 4 through the downtown area can’t help but notice the changes. They’re undeniably invigorating, in much the same way being shot at by drunken rednecks is invigorating. Ridiculed for years as a dull, benign destination with flat, straight roads that stretched out for miles, Orlando

Orlando’s flat, straight, easy-to-navigate system of roads was holding the city back, relegating it to second-class status. Tourists could leave the city swiftly, taking their remaining savings with them. That’s all in the past, though. The changes to Interstate 4 will virtually guarantee a significant number of visitors to our area will be darting off the road in search of the nearest bar, medical marijuana dispensary, or mental health facility. One way or another, they’re staying. I recently drove the improved roadway so that I might report on the upgrades more accurately. What an experience! Lanes shift to the left for no apparent reason, then careen off to the right again. The pattern repeats randomly, but that’s not all. The vertical com-

Yep, Orlando is on the move. The great northern cities of the past have nothing on us. Not now. Because Orlando has transformed itself into a tourist destination that is as terrifying as any major industrial center or financial capital in the world. Orlando has stepped into the big leagues, at long last. Hooray.

Jamie Beckett appears to be an average, everyday guy who just happens to hail from Arizona, Connecticut, New York City, and Central Florida. He wears many hats — pilot, mechanic, writer, politician, musician, stayat-home dad — often an odd combination of all those things. Frankly, we don’t care. At The 863 Magazine we just keep him around because we think he’s funny. That’s that. Read all of his musings at

Summer 2019


47. #20 Across, sing. 48. The City of a Thousand Minarets 50. Chip and Joanna Gaines’ hometown 52. *High speed carrier 55. Tibetan priests 56. Small cave 57. Seed coat 59. Skirt shape 60. Theories 61. Human parasites 62. *Like many European structures 63. *Black or Ligurian, e.g. 64. Japanese vodka

Theme: Europe 101 ACROSS 1. Wise man 5. Recipe amt. 8. *Overseas flyer’s fatigue 11. Like traditional storytelling 12. Jasmine or university in Houston 13. In an unfriendly manner 15. Log splitter 16. Dashing style 17. Best of the crop 18. *European Union capital 20. Charged particles 21. *Like Pigalle or De Wallen? 22. Genetic stuff

23. Jewish village 26. Between a walk and a trot 30. Formula One ride 31. Even though 34. Itty-bitty bit 35. Full of pep 37. *Artifact from Ancient Greece, e.g. 38. Stir fry 39. Eye part 40. *Eurosceptic’s decision 42. Salon product 43. Ernst to Young 45. Those who chronicle

1. Soccer ____ 2. Oman man 3. Wild ox of India 4. Treat badly 5. *Like many roofs in old Spain 6. Like reptile’s skin 7. Montblanc and such 8. Right to a property 9. “Sad to say...” 10. Fitness venue 12. Bring to consignment store 13. Cake layer 14. *Part of former Yugoslavia 19. Caterpillar hairs 22. i topper 23. *Bluebill duck in Europe 24. Middle Eastern sesame treat 25. Judge, e.g. 26. Put a hex on 27. *Paris’ Moulin ____ 28. Weasel’s aquatic cousin 29. Chinese weight units 32. Dog nemesis 33. Before, archaic 36. *____ City, the smallest country 38. Astrologer’s concern, pl. 40. *London’s Big ___ 41. Stupid ones 44. Pirate’s necklace 46. Bottom lines 48. Witch’s spell 49. Something in the air 50. *Cold War divide 51. In the middle of 52. Knight’s breastplate 53. *La Scala sound 54. *American tour guide 55. Pathet ____ 58. “Fantasy Island” prop

Solution on page 13.



The 863 Magazine

And the Winner is...


The winner of the 5th Annual 863 Local Art Fest displays his talent. By Jeff Roslow


ou may understand why artist Brad “Sketch” Grirus recently won first place in the Fifth Annual 863 Local FiArt Fest in Winter Haven considering the pen and ink drawing of Peter Rabbit he made and sold at the show to a woman who watched him draw it.

place in the 32nd Annual Lake Placid Art League show in January.

However, learning that Sketch, a 30-plus year tattoo artist has won the only two sketch displays and contests he has entered, may be a surprise. Sketch has a tattoo shop called MGA Misguided Artist; it’s located on 10th Avenue in Arcadia. Since moving back to Florida from California he has won first place in the FiArt held in April and previously won first

Bruce Tynte, a metal artist from Arcadia, came across Sketch’s art and told him he’d win shows.

“I’ve done artwork for as long as I can remember, but you can’t make a living off it,” the pen and ink artist says.

Sketch was skeptical, “I didn’t think I’d win anything (at FiArt),” he says. “I didn’t know the people and they didn’t know me.” His wife, Donna, didn’t agree with him. “Dad and I said he was going to win. He didn’t think so.” “His art is amazing,” says Sharon Creedon, the judge at this year’s FiArt. She says his work was mesmerizing. It was sharp in the chosen art, which she says is difficult. “Lewis Carroll is really great and there was so much to his each story. I really enjoyed it,” Creedon says. As well as liking the Alice in Wonderland art, she was captured

Adjudicator Sharon Creedon, left, presents the first place ribbon to Brad “Sketch” Grirus at the 5th Annual 863 Local Art Fest on April 20, 2019.

Summer 2019

Pen and ink sketch of Peter Rabbit by Brad “Sketch” Grirus. Photo by Jeff Roslow.

by art inspired by the novel/film Bird Box. “One man was wearing a mask and a beak for a nose. I found that to be a wonderful capture of a character.” Because of the recent victories and more people seeing his work, he has a monthlong show at Outer Space Gallery in downtown Winter Haven that runs from May 10 through June 10. A reception called Urban Fantasy was held on May 10. This August, Sketch’s work will be on display at the Magnolia Show in Lakeland. “He donated his time and services to kids at the PEP (Public Education Partnership) center,” says Curtis Flanders from Outer Space. “He did such an awesome job, I wanted him to do a show at Outer Space. This guy has to have a solo show.” Flanders was also impressed with how fast he was. The project he helped with was painting a door, teaching students how to enhance themselves. “He thought it sounded like a great cause… did an entire door in four hours,” Flanders says. The amount of time it takes Sketch to compose a piece, though, he doesn’t really know. “I can’t give you a timeline. I get in a mode,” Sketch says. “I can go six to eight hours and it could feel like 20 minutes.” He also says he doesn’t know what’s coming when he starts. The pieces related to Bird Box were not what he had in mind when he started. “When I started, it had nothing to do with Bird Box. It just came out. When I draw I think of everything else going on in my life and I’m just drawing. What comes could be something from the subconscious,” Sketch says. In his studio, Sketch has all kinds of art from pen and ink framed drawings on the walls, to painted desktop Continued on page 13



The 863 Magazine

“Water connects us all and we seek to be near it” — Rachelle Selser

Water: A Most Precious Resource Cities like Winter Haven recognize the importance of water. By Jeff Roslow


n a state known worldwide for its beaches and oceanic views how could the Disney Corp. think by locating in the middle of the state, it would be successful? Part of that is because all of Florida relies on water. There are 7,700 lakes and its importance to the communities they are in means as much to them as beaches do for the coastal towns. Viable water is necessary for tourism, development, quality of life and making sure it stays that way. That picture

is drawn in Winter Haven where there is 91 miles of shoreline, 24 canal connected lakes and 1,400 land parcels. “The lakefront dining and waterfront in the middle of the state, that’s one side. The other side is tourism and lifestyle,” says Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Katie Worthington. “From the economic side it is twofold. We are at the forefront on how to conserve and use water intelligently despite the fact that everywhere in Florida there is a water crisis.”

Sapphire Necklace “When I think of water in Central Florida, it’s lakes and streams and rivers,” says Polk State College professor Rachelle Selser. “My family grew up on the Kissimmee River and on the coast. We did a lot of boating, canoeing, water skiing.” The City of Winter Haven’s plan, Sapphire Necklace, for a decade has directed development around the infrastructure for managing water. The

Summer 2019

initiative deals with development’s potential impacts. For instance the CSX Integrated Center will create 8,500 jobs and generate about $10 million activity, but flood protection has to be provided that has a beneficial use for the water, the plan said. “Things weren’t going to change if we stayed the same,” says Mike Britt, who primarily developed the Sapphire Necklace. “At that time (in 2008) the city went through a visioning process. One of the primary statements was, number one, water resources. I adopted a new job description. I was put in charge of water for the community.” Britt, now the Assistant Utility Services Department Director for Winter Haven, went on a quest when he was in the Natural Resources director that lasted four years to change how people in Winter Haven thought of water. “What people need to now is that for business and future growth, there is a need for water. People have to understand that connection. That is the stepping stone,” Britt said.

“You have to come to a point where we can reach an understanding. There’s been friction in the past with our goals versus the state’s goals. We have to make a framework,” Britt said. “It’s an uphill battle.” Five years ago the Florida Legislature gave Winter Haven $60,000 for the Sapphire Necklace which would begin an experimental aquifer recharge system to increase water levels and restore Winter Haven’s lakes. Then Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, said this solution will lead water protection and supply. “As a result the Peace River Water Cooperative plan was modeled after our 2010 plan,” Britt, who sits on that county panel, says. What this does is “develop an umbrella that integrates this for the community’s goals,” he said. Making water management part of an official plan has put Winter Haven in the front seat in water preservation


both for development and for the quality of life. The plan also looks into the idea that communities in the area look at Winter Haven for supply. This plan helps the state’s Floridan Aquifer, one of two in the state. The other, Bicayne in South Florida, is smaller. The aquifer is like a sponge and water can move freely. The Floridan aquifer is 82,000 square miles underground in Florida and part of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Experts say there is not enough water in the Upper Floridan Aquifer to meet population growth by 2040. The Polk Regional Water Cooperative budgeted $23 million to study the feasibility of using salt water in the Lower Floridan Aquifer to meet this future demand.

For fun, living and economic development In other aspects involving water, Worthington says making community events often involve the the lakes. There is the yearly Christmas Boating parade, monthly concerts and water ski shows. How to develop these and Continued on page 12

Lake Howard in Winter Haven in on the southern chain of lakes. Photo by Sergio Cruz.


The 863 Magazine

other areas is focused upon before doing it. “We spoke a lot about water focused events at a development roundtable,” Worthington says. “We had architects, construction, engineers that meet monthly. We are dedicated to water.” Selser adds, “It’s an economic driver. People are driven to the waterfront and the resources have to be there because the wildlife is inclusive. Water connects us all and we seek to be near it. Water is life, it really does weave in and out of our daily lives, economic development and concerns for the natural environment.” “We want to balance sustainability and business,” Worthington says. “One cause for concern in last 10-15 years, planning services departments, planning for best interest of the needs for county,” Selser says. She said it provides people with a back door dock and can refill the aquifer. “So there is no net loss when developing or destroying a

Water, from page 11

wetland area,” she says. “Restore some area to offset loses, filter out nutrients and pollutants from stormwater runoff.” But that has to be communicated, she says, as the state population grows. “It seems sometimes we get stagnant retention ponds and now there are hundreds of houses putting fertilizer on lawns and flushing the toilet like we’ve never seen.” In the time to come, Selser hopes educating the public will help the long-term survival of the resource. “I hope for the future we shift our mindset,” Selser, Friends Of Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Inc. director, says. “We have to recognize our place in the natural system and what we do has an affect on other things. Water is all connected to water and water resources.” Britt adds, “I retire in two and half years and I hope it can continue without me in the future. Hopefully we can set up signs to move forward when I’m gone. For more info on the city’s endeavors involving water resources visit

Summer 2019

Sketch, from page 9

skulls and, of course, tattoos. In fact, he is a walking tattoo display which includes a tattoo that covers his shaven skull and into his neck. It has taken three different artists so far and it’s not done yet. “The guy who did my head told me he was going to retire,” Sketch says. “I said ‘really?’ After that I found someone else but I fired him.”


In Creedon’s eyes, though, with Sketch’s mind and talent he can go further with his artwork. “He draws to a theme,” she says. There is a narrative with his work. “It’s wonderful to see that. It’s not just one of, this and then that, but he’s able to continue to tell a story using the same character.”

Then he waited about eight or nine years before someone filled in more. “I’m still not finished, but I can’t find the artwork… everything’s changed so much,” he says. With the attention his work has gotten in the last few months, Sketch says he may expand his work. But he says being a tattooist is the main thing. “I can focus more on my artwork, but art is a hobby and tattoo is a living… it’s a steady paycheck,” he says.

Crossword on page 7.

Above: Brad “Sketch” Grirus poses next to “Bird Box Kid,” a pen and ink work inspired by the movie, “Bird Box.” Photo by Jeff Roslow.

Summer 2019


5th Annual 863 Local Art Fest

Thank you!

Congratulations to all the winners and special thanks to adjudicator Sharon Creedon!









Save the Date for next year: April 18, 2020 Drumroll please... 1. 1st Place: Brad “Sketch” G., Pen and Ink 2. 2nd Place:Tammy A. of Archer’s Art, Paintings & Mixed Media 3. 3rd Place: William C., Bird Sculptures Honorable Mentions: 4. Mary H. / Alcohol Ink Paintings 5. Jennifer M. / Jewelry 6. Sue P. / Painting 7. Patricia J. / Stained Glass 8. Bruce T. / Copper Sculptures 9. People’s Choice: Shawn & James M. of Treefish, Mixed Media

More info: | Photos by Sergio Cruz

9 Thank You Sponsors!

Polk Media S&W Cabinets Panera, Winter Haven location Gessler Clinic The Results Companies Elements Rejuvenating Spa CarePlus Heartland Church

Profile for The 863 Magazine

The 863 Magazine - Summer 2019  

Water: A Most Precious Resource; Pen & Ink Artist "Sketch" - 1st Place Winner of 863's Art Fest; Apropos of Nothing: Jamie Beckett's Take on...

The 863 Magazine - Summer 2019  

Water: A Most Precious Resource; Pen & Ink Artist "Sketch" - 1st Place Winner of 863's Art Fest; Apropos of Nothing: Jamie Beckett's Take on...