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You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.


thursday, JULY 19, 2012



Girls hit the Plant City rec gridiron for flag centers square off football tourney. in kickball challenge. PAGE 15


Broadway’s top hits come to Plant City Entertainment.



update By Amber Jurgensen | Staff Writer

Movement in Midtown The Hillsborough County EPC last week approved a remedial action plan to clean the first brownfield site in Midtown.

+ Senate candidate stumps in Plant City A group of supporters gathered for a fundraiser event for the Tom Lee campaign July 14, at the home of David and Lisa Galloway. Lee is running for District 24 seat of the Florida Senate. “Plant City has always been a tight-knit community,” Lee said. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here. You’re rekindling a lot of friendships. I came here to try and find out what’s important to the community.” Attendees enjoyed socializing while sipping on wine and munching hors d’oeurves. Several children played in the pool. Lee was elected to the Senate in 1996 and later served as Senate president in 2005. His rival in the Republican primary on Aug. 14 is former legislative aide Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview.

Acres of cracked concrete slabs have been sitting vacant for years alongside the bustling traffic of Collins Street downtown. Several signs bordering the bare parcels depict an idyllic town square with busy shops and a village green. These signs signify the plan for the property — a Midtown —

where retired empty nesters can live in an apartment above an art gallery and young professionals can grab a gourmet cup of coffee before the start of a work day. Although the Midtown Redevelopment Vision Plan seems to have made little progress since its inception in 2007, new headway

has begun. This month, cleanup of the Hydraulic Hose and Cylinder site on the northwest corner of Ball and Evers streets will begin. PPM Consultants Inc., the environmental consultant for the Midtown Brownfield site, se-



The Plant City 10-11 AllStars are seeking donations to help fund the team’s travel costs as it heads deeper into the season. Last week, the 10-11s kept its undefeated streak alive this season, going 3-0 in the Section 4 tournament and advancing to the state tournament with a 11-7 win over Lutz July 16. The 10-11s will now make the pilgrimage up to Defuniak Springs for the Florida state tournament. To make a donation, contact head coach T.J. Messick at TJMessick@tampabay. or (813) 478-3360, or coach Steve Shissler at or at (813) 240-9151.

Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Cleaning up these properties protects the environment, reduces blight and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands. SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

in memoriam

By Amber Jurgensen | Staff Wrtier

Community remembers Velma Newsome Velma Newsome, beloved Strawberry Festival volunteer and Sunday School teacher, died at her home July 16.

Michael Eng

+ All-Stars seeking donations for travel

What is a brownfield?

Vanessa Martinez, 6, showed off her rec-center spirit by cheering on the MLK team during the kickball match between the MLK and Planteen rec centers. For more photos, see page 10.

governance By Amber Jurgensen | Staff Writer

Community Association revises deed restriction notifications Walden Lake residents will only receive two letters regarding deed-restriction violations. Attention Walden Lake residents: The warning procedures for deed restriction violations is changing. The Walden Lake Community Association voted to change the notice system from three letters to two at its July 16 meeting. Under the new system, hom-

eowners will receive two notices, each with a 30-day response period. The old system — which had been in place for six years — sent three letters. The first carried a 30-day response period, the second 15 and the third seven. The new system, which will be

implemented Aug. 1, gives homeowners more time to respond but with fewer warnings. The change occurred to streamline the process, said Marlene Merrin, who is in charge of enforcements. “When you get into the 15 days and seven days, it starts to get messy paperwork-wise,” Merrin said. “It gets complicated.”


INDEX News Briefs..........3

It was a love story that lasted 51 years. Joe Newsome was a University of Florida college boy when he first set eyes on Velma Simmons in the summer of 1961. Velma was the new girl in town; her family had moved from Lakeland to Plant City when her father became the pastor at Bethany Baptist Church. The pair dated through the summer, and when Joe left for college in the fall, the two kept in contact. Every night, Joe walked


Courtesy photo

Joe and Velma Newsome at the Plant City centennial celebration in 1985.

Vol. 1, No. 3 | One section

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


Sports................ 13




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By Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Oliver Sprague is a musical-theater veteran.


Makaira Fisk is one of several talented children in this cast.

Bryan Smellie will sing a solo for “76 Trombones.”

By Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Teacher accused of having sex with student Jeffrey Halle Jr., a teacher at King High School and a Plant City resident, is facing a first-degree sexual battery charge.

Jeff Crum has several key parts throughout the production.


Audiences will enjoy a smorgasbord of Broadway classics at Plant City Entertainment’s ‘The Best of Broadway,’ which opens July 20. The first time Plant City Entertainment Director Domin Pazo put together a Broadway revue in 2001, it topped out at three hours long. A year later, he tried it again, promising himself he wouldn’t make it a long show. But it, too, nearly crested the three-hour mark. But, Pazo has learned a thing or two in the last decade. “This time, I timed it,” Pazo says, smiling. “Act One is one hour, and Act Two is two hours.” Beginning Friday, Pazo, along with 36 cast members and nearly as many behind the scenes, will present a greatest hits of musical theater with “The Best of Broad-

Kaden Olney loves being on stage. way,” at Plant City Entertainment in Historic Downtown Plant City. The show will feature a plethora of popular selections from musicals such as “Cats,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Grease,” “Hair,” “Les Miserables,” “Oklahoma,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Sound of Music” and many more. “This show has two purposes,”

Director Domin Pazo has been working in musical theater for 31 years.

Pazo said. “For those who follow musical theater, hopefully they will hear some of their favorites. “And for those who aren’t familiar, hopefully we can open their eyes to some of these songs,” he said. “Many of these are famous songs, and we hope to remind you that they come from Broadway.” Unlike most musicals, “The Best of Broadway” features little acting. Rather, the production will move quickly from song to song. The playbill from each production will be displayed during each number to help audience members make the connection between the song and its origin. Work began on “The Best of

IF YOU GO ‘The Best of Broadway’ WHEN: 8 p.m. July 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28, and 2 p.m. July 22, WHERE: Plant City Entertainment, 101 N. Thomas St. TICKETS: $10 for members of advanced group sales; $12 for seniors; $14 for nonmembers and K-12 students. INFORMATION: Broadway” about eight weeks ago. During one of the last rehearsals before opening night, Pazo praised his cast and crew. “You should be very proud of yourselves,” he said. “We could open tonight — you’re that good. And just think: We have four nights to get better.” Contact Michael Eng at meng@

Rachel Rodriguez is the featured performer for the “My Fair Lady” tribute.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested a Plant City man July 17, for having sexual contact with a 17-year-old female. According to Sheriff’s Office reports, Jeffrey Halle Jr., 32, an English teacher in the International Baccalaureate program at King High School, made the contact with the female, one of his students, on or about March 17, while she was enrolled in an after-school program supervised by Halle. Halle and the victim made arrangements during normal school hours to Halle meet in a vacant classroom during the program, the report said. The parents of the victim knew Halle was their daughter’s teacher and that he was responsible for her during the after-school program. Then, on July 10, Halle again made arrangements with the student via text messages to meet her at her home to engage in sexual intercourse. When Halle arrived to pick up the victim, Halle was confronted by the victim’s father. Halle left the residence. Detectives arrested Halle July 17. Halle faces a first-degree felony sexual battery charge, a seconddegree felony charge of traveling to meet a minor and a charge for prohibited use of computer services or devices. In addition to teaching English, Halle was a faculty sponsor of King’s National Honor Society as well as its book and poetry clubs. Halle began his career in the Hillsborough district in 2006 at Freedom High School. He later moved to Plant City High School and had been at King since 2009. According to Sheriff’s Office documents, bond for the sexual battery charge is set for $75,000 and $7,500 each for the other two charges. Halle was active in the First Baptist Church of Plant City, where he contributed to the music ministry, said Minister of Education/Administration Steve Morris. “We don’t know very much at this point, and we have not had an opportunity to speak with Jeff,” Morris said. “If the things we are hearing are true, then obviously this is inconsistent with what we believe in the Christian faith. “We do care very much for all of that family and anyone who may have been injured in this (incident),” he said. “We are grieving like everyone else. It is a shock to us all.” Contact Michael Eng at meng@

Plant city observer

Starting pageants at age 5, Ashlyn Robinson is no stranger to showbiz. Twelve pageants and several titles later, she is still competing. “I got into pageants to be as involved in the community as I could,” the Plant City High alum says. Most recently, Robinson charmed the judges at the 2012 Miss University of Florida Pageant. She energetically performed a tap dance routine to “Sing, Sing, Sing” and took home a crown fit for a queen. That victory earned her a spot in the 2012 Miss Florida pageant earlier this month at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Although she wasn’t a finalist, Robinson says she loved participating. In addition to Miss UF 2012, Ashlyn has also been Little Miss Plant City, Miss Teen Heart of Plant City and Miss Pinellas County. “Pageants get a bad reputation from people who don’t get them,” Robinson says. “They teach you poise, grace and interview skills.” The 20-year-old dancer attends the University of Florida and is majoring in telecommunications.


By Amber Jurgensen | Staff Writer

Raulerson a finalist for Miss Florida USA Standing at 5-foot-11, Jaclyn Raulerson represented Plant City at the Miss Florida USA pageant last week. It may be hard to imag“He’s like a cheerleader,” ine that a skateboarding, Raulerson says of her faself-described “tomboy” ther, laughing. “He loves it. from a small Florida town It’s like a football game for became a dazzling beauty him.” queen with several equally At first, Dan Raulerson dazzling crowns. But homewasn’t sure how he felt town starlet Jaclyn “Jackie” about pageants, but now Raulerson has done just he enjoys them. that. “It’s actually been a great Last week, Raulerson ride,” he says. “It’s been recompeted in the Miss Florally rewarding to see her on ida USA pageant in Hollythis journey.” wood. She walked the stage “It’s a hobby for the whole as Miss Central Florida, family,” Raulerson says. along with 72 other young Like her daughter, Shirley women at Broward ComRaulerson started pageants munity College. Raulerson when she was a teenager. placed in the top five as Shirley felt pageants were a third-runner up. good fit for her because of Courtesy photo “I’m very happy with my her height. She was a finalperformance and would Jaclyn ‘Jackie’ Raulerson says she enjoyed her ist in the Miss Florida pagnot have changed a single experience at the Miss Florida USA pageant. eant in 1980. thing,” Raulerson says. Despite Shirley’s experiShe managed to squeeze in a in the Miss Florida Teen USA pag- ence, the Raulersons did not push whirlwind phone interview be- eant. their daughter into the pageant “I’ve always loved performing,” world. tween her preparations for the pageant, which included rehears- Raulerson says. “I figured it was “It surprised us,” Shirley Raulerals, dinners with sponsors and another way to make some friends son says about Raulerson’s interest contestant parties that included and be on stage.” in pageants. “It was a shocker. She Raulerson likely learned her love would rip anything frilly off when dancing and hula-hoop races. All week, she was up at 6 a.m. and for the spotlight from her family. she was little, like a bow or ribbon. didn’t finally make it to bed un- Her father, Dan Raulerson, is a Plant She wasn’t a child who could wear til 11 p.m. each night, changing City commissioner and former stockings.” clothes about four times a day for mayor and now is campaigning for Raulerson grew up playing sports the Florida House of Representa- and climbing trees. She even qualidifferent events. tives. Her mother, Shirley, also was fied for the Junior Olympics in a pageant girl. Both her parents and swimming in fourth grade. But now, BEGINNINGS Raulerson first got into pageants brother, Alek, were present in Hol- pageants take up a lot of her time. when she was 13. She competed lywood last week to see Raulerson “She’s been bitten by the pageant with the Miss Florida Organization onstage. bug,” her mother says.


Robinson competes for crown



Your Hometown Property Management Company Philip Balliet - Manager

(813) 752-5262

Post Office Box 1118 • Plant City, FL 33584

+ HART considers alternative solutions Following petitions from Plant City residents, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit leaders are considering an alternative proposal for Route 28X, the only public bus route from Plant City to Tampa. Instead of eliminating the route, HART will consider reducing the route from two daily buses to one. This recommendation was presented to a HART finance committee Monday. It will then be presented to HART’s board in August. If approved, the new schedule would begin in November.

+ Plant City man dies in weekend crash A 27-year-old Plant City man was killed in a weekend car crash. According to Florida Highway Patrol reports, at about 2:30 a.m. July 14, Nicholas Sheldon Shakes was traveling southbound in his 2009 Mercedes C300 on James L. Redman Parkway. He turned left onto eastbound Trapnell Road in front of a northbound 1997 Ford F-150 driven by Jonathan Wesley Forbes, 21, of Plant City. Forbes crashed into the passenger side of Shakes’ vehicle. Both cars came to a rest at the northeast corner of the intersection. Shakes died at the scene. Forbes was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.

+ Deputies discover weapons cache in Dover

40 years in Plant City



Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies discovered last week a stash of weapons and water behind a trap door in a Dover home. According to Sheriff’s Office reports, at about 10:07 a.m. July


Raulerson’s favorite part of pageants is the interview. “They look beyond you appearance and I take pride in that,” the Durant High School alumni says. Her mother agrees. “The one stage question is probably my favorite,” her mother says. “She’s a good speaker, quick on her feet.” In addition to answering interview questions on the stage, Raulerson has used her publicspeaking talents at speaking engagements at schools throughout the state. “I saw her speak to 1,500 middle-schoolers, and you could hear a pin drop,” her father says. Raulerson currently attends the University of Florida and is majoring in telecommunications. She hopes to be a news anchor for a major news network. Her professional role models include Lisa Ling, Megyn Kelly and Oprah Winfrey. In addition to being a finalist in last week’s Miss Florida USA Pageant, Raulerson has competed nationally as Miss Florida in the 2011 Miss America Pageant. She has also been crowned 2010 Miss Largo, 2009 Miss Lakeland and 2005 Miss Largo Outstanding Teen. In 2008, she was on the Florida Strawberry Festival queen’s court. “This has been a huge growing experience,” she says. “It has really molded me into the person I am today. I’m really grateful to everyone in Plant City who has supported me.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

Meetings &agendas  Plant City Council — 7:30 p.m., second and fourth Mondays, 302 W. Reynolds St., Plant City

Hillsborough County Commission — 9 a.m., first and third Wednesdays, Second floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

Hillsborough County School Board — 3 p.m., second and fourth Tuesdays, 901 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

10, deputies responded to 13325 Lewis Gallagher Road, Dover, in reference to shots fired. The suspect, Lee Roy Maxwell, pointed a rifle and fired three rounds at the victim. The victim did not sustain any injuries as a result of the incident. Maxwell admitted firing the weapon. In clearing the residence, deputies discovered guns, water for a long stay and a cubby hole behind a trap door within the residence.

+ Chamber seeks help for teacher event The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce is seeking help for its annual New Teacher Coffee at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 16, at the Florida Strawberry Festival Expo Hall, 303 N. Lemon St. The chamber is seeking cash donations, small gifts and school supplies for goodie bags for every new teacher. The chamber expects about 150 teachers at this year’s event. For more information, call Administrative Coordinator Amy Nizamoff at (813) 754-3707.

Plant city observer




By Michael Eng | Managing Editor




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

July 6


2400 block of West Baker Street. Theft. Unknown suspect(s) stole ground wire leading from the tower to the grounding rods. The wires were valued at about $3,000.

July 7


500 block of Sugar Greek Drive. Vehicle burglary. Unknown suspect(s) entered the vehicle’s unlocked rear toolbox stole about $600 in tools.


La Familia Muzik’s Adam Gilley kept audience members on their feet during his set.

Trinity United youth group combines music, message Plant City teens and families packed Trinity United Methodist Church for Frontline Youth’s third annual youth rally, Beauty for Ashes, July 14. The event, which carried the theme, Comatose:

How to Wake Up from Your Slumber, featured performances by Eva Kroon Pike, La Familia Muzik and Grace Intended. Youth Pastor Stetson Glass also delivered a message at this year’s event.

Intersection of Park Road and East Carol Drive. Driving Under the Influence. The suspect hit a vehicle in the parking lot and continued driving without stopping. The suspect was stopped by officers and found to be intoxicated at time of contact. The suspect refused to comply with the field sobriety exercises and was transported to Central Breath Testing, where her blood alcohol content was .200 and .203 after a 20-minute observation. She was turned over to Orient Road Jail.

July 7


2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft. the suspect stole memory cards and earphones valued at $117.80. The suspect was charged with retail theft and released with a notice to appear.


1900 block of Greenwood Valley Drive. Vehicle Burglary. Unknown suspect(s) entered the unlocked vehicle and stole two firearms from the console. Serial numbers were entered into NCIC/FCIC as stolen, and the firearms were valued at a total of $1,000.


1900 block of Sweetbay Court. Resi-

Ryan Horton, of La Familia Muzik, put on an inspired show.

dential Burglary. Unknown suspect(s) entered the home by breaking a window and stole an Apple laptop valued at $1,500.

July 8


3000 block of Sutton Woods Drive. Vehicle Burglaries. Unknown suspect(s) stole keys from an unlocked vehicle and used them to open the other vehicle. The suspect(s) stole one dollar in change. The keys were recovered in the second vehicle.

July 9


2600 block of Turkey Creek Road. Grand Theft. Sometime between June 29 and July 5, unknown suspect(s) stole a 2002 16-foot tandem axle lawn trailer valued at $1,700.


2600 block of James L. Redman Parkway. Retail Theft. The suspect was arrested for stealing $39.86 in merchandise.

Bethany Glass led several sets of music.


Austin Turner, 15, enjoyed the music. Right: Audrey Glass, Sonya Silva, Ethan Cook and Jonathan Hilbert enjoyed performances from the front row.

Plant City Office 1804 James L. Redman Pkwy., Plant City, FL 33563 Telephone (813) 659-1234 | Fax (813) 659-9134 Other Locations: Brandon, Lakeland, Tampa, and Winter Haven

Member FDIC


Lobby Hours: Monday –Thursday 9:00am – 4:00 pm Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm Drive Thru Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00am – 6:00 pm 24 hour ATM in the Drive Thru

Plant city observer


ers have until early August to respond.


Knotts Trading and Supply has been in business on Plant City’s main drag in historic downtown for 78 years. The hardware store has seen the town change along with three generations of family owners. How has it survived for so long? Customer service, according to Johnny Knotts, the current owner. But just across the street is a different picture. Acres of concrete slabs are the only remnants of what used to be neighboring businesses. Originally in favor of Midtown, Knotts is worried the prolonged absence of shopping and businesses in the area by his store is negatively affecting his business. “The reason it has affected me, is [that] human beings are perceptible creatures,” Knotts said. “So what they look at and perceive is what they believe. They might think, ‘Is there any reason to come to this part of town?’ That’s my whole complaint with Midtown.”


MIDTOWN/PAGE 1 lected FECC Inc., of Orlando, to perform the work. About 1,175 tons of petroleum-impacted soil — as well as contaminated water — will be removed. The project should be completed by Aug. 31. “We’re excited that the project is moving forward,” City Manager Greg Horwedel said. “It’s the first stage out of three, and we’re ready to get going.” Under the Brownfields Cleanup Grant Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Plant City the maximum amount of $200,000, of which 20% must be matched locally, to assist with the cleanup. The city will use funds from the Community Redevelopment Agency Trust Fund and credits from the Water and Sewer Fund for treatment of groundwater. The city also has submitted an application for loans through Hillsborough County’s Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund. The city also is working to start construction on the straightening and extension of Wheeler Street, which will create room for a community park. The plans will be introduced to the Plant City Commission in the next few months. The city hopes to acquire a segment of Sweetbay’s parking lot at 507 Wheeler St. for the construction. Originally, the city proposed a land swap with the owners of the parcel. The city has made a first offer for the parcel; the own-

From 1997 to 2007, Plant City experienced growth, mostly in residential sectors. In 2007, inspired by that growth, city leaders conceived the Midtown Redevelopment Vision Plan, which thenMayor Rick Lott coined. “I felt like we had a hole between downtown and south Plant City,” Lott said. With so many small parcels in the Midtown area and the pollutants that have to be cleaned up, it would have been hard for a private investor to get the project started, according to Lott. So the city decided to take on the “bold challenge.” David Sollenberger, who was the city manager when the Midtown plan first started, and thenAssistant City Manager Greg Horwedel, both spent time developing downtown Sarasota. With their combined experience, they were perfect for the job, Lott said. “When I first started in Sarasota, you could fire a cannonball down the street without hitting anyone or any cars,” Horwedel said. “Now, people complain that they can’t even find parking. That is a hallmark of success — when you start having parking problems.” The 85-acre Midtown is designed to be a pedestrian-friendly network of neighborhood-oriented businesses such as bookstores and coffee shops. The plan also includes residential apartments and lofts and a village green. Fourteen acres are owned by the city, the rest by private investors. “We spent a lot of time and energy trying to pull this together,” Horwedel said. “We got quite a bit of community input. It’s an ambitious project, but it is one that’s absolutely necessary if we are going to change the future for that area of the city.” Midtown is funded primarily by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, an entity created in 1981 specifically for city revitalization. In the past five years, the city spent $4.75 million on the demolition of businesses such as Gro Mor and Stock Lumber and to purchase parcels on-site. The city has designated $1.6 million to clean up pollution from the Gro Mor Fertilizer Plant. For the plan to be executed, certain streets will be extended and straightened, including Alabama, Evers and Wheeler streets. In addition to street changes, the plan calls for widening of sidewalks and planting trees along certain stretches of streets. “This was not a project that was going to happen overnight,” Lott said. “We just have to stand true

to the plan and know we’re going to have something that will complete the town.”


After the demolition of businesses, beginning with Stock Lumber in 2009, Midtown has remained a field of concrete slabs. The city wants to pull up the slabs to create a green area, to make the parcels more attractive to potential investors. But because of a law regulated by the South Florida Water Management District, retention ponds must be placed in areas where any impervious surfaces, such as the concrete slabs, are removed. Swiftmud has remained steadfast to the law, despite the city downtown stormwater drainage system, which has been in place since the 1950s. City officials said the law presents two major problems for Plant City. The urban downtown area doesn’t have space for retention ponds. Furthermore, if the ponds are created on the cleared property, they will take space originally planned for development. “We need a developer to feel comfortable with the amount of income-producing property he can use,” Commissioner Daniel Raulerson said about the law, which he calls “good intentioned, with unintended consequences.” In the past two sessions, a bill seeking to change the law has been stalled in the state senate’s budget committees. Currently, the city is working with Swiftmud Executive Director Blake Guillory to resolve the retention pond issue. Guillory toured the site about four weeks ago and should report back to the city in several months after revisiting the issue with his staff. Swiftmud has recently issued an environmental resource permit for the Midtown Redevelopment area in Plant City, which includes a proposed stormwater pond and modifications to an existing pond to provide future water quality treatment needs in the area. If Swiftmud still refuses to budge, then the city will have to turn to the legislative system again to try to change the law. “This is one of the things that I want to address at the state level,” Raulerson, who is running for Florida House of Representatives District 58, said. “The legislative process hasn’t yielded the results we want in the past. What I want to try to do in the Legislature is to give us some wiggle room. We’ve got the money to pull that concrete up and make green areas.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

NEWSOME/PAGE 1 across the street from his home to the pay phone to call his sweetheart. Ms. Simmons became a Newsome in 1963. Through 49 years of marriage, Newsome was by his wife’s side. Velma Jean Newsome died at her home July 16, 2012. “She never wanted anything but to be a great wife and a good Christian,” Newsome said. “She kept the home fires burning.”


Born Feb. 19, 1944, to the late Steve and Obera Simmons, Mrs. Newsome wore many hats around Plant City. During the first three years of marriage, Mrs. Newsome worked in the city’s water and billing departments. She was also a Sunday School teacher at Bethany Baptist Church from 1962 to 1979. The couple started attending Plant City’s First Baptist Church in the 1980s. There, Mrs. Newsome volunteered with the music program. In addition to church, Mrs. Newsome played behindthe-scenes roles in various organizations and businesses. Newsome was the chairman of entertainment for the Strawberry Festival. Mrs. Newsome, an accomplished pianist, worked with her husband, booking talent and organizing concerts. Mrs. Newsome also helped him at the BrownNewsome Prescription Center, which Newsome co-owned with Raiford “Shorty” Brown. But Mrs. Newsome’s main focus in life was being a wife, mother and homemaker.

In other news:

• Walden Lake Community Association Director Jon Courson officially submitted his resignation letter, effective July 16. Courson, who was serving his second term, will be moving in August to Florida Presbyterian Homes with his wife, Peggy. • Landscaping measures for two irrigated mediums on Alexander Street have been proposed. Walden Lake already takes care of mowing them but would like the city to further maintenance them. • Children will have one last time to enjoy the summer with a splash. The first Back to School Party will be at the clubhouse. Date is still to be determined.

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Mrs. Newsome grew a garden every year and would can and freeze the produce. She loved to play ball with her kids, dance and cook for her family. “She was a very hard-working, young mother,” said Marilyn Carpenter, a family friend. “She kept an immaculate house; she was a great friend.” Carpenter has known the family for more than 40 years. One of her favorite memories of Mrs. Newsome was a motor home trip with three families — the Newsomes, Carpenters and Browns — to North Carolina. “It was a blast,” Carpenter says. “It reminded me of one of those family vacation movies with Chevy Chase.” Mrs. Newsome is survived by her husband of 49 years, Joe Newsome; children Dee Parker and her husband, Kenneth, Katie Varnum and her husband, Scott, and Dr. Dennis Newsome and his wife, Melissa; sisters Marvella Harrell, Dell Ritter and Joann Woods; eight grandchildren; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends.

DEEDS/PAGE 1 The change also will save on postage. Merrin designed the new policy after investigating other homeowners associations that used the two-letter system. Currently, the WLCA is responsible for sending notification letters in 16 of the community’s 30 local subdivision associations. If a homeowner doesn’t comply after 60 days, the violation will be taken to an attorney, who then would inform the homeowner that if he doesn’t comply, the WLCA can file suit. This can lead to mediation and can land the two parties in court. The WLCA will not put a lien on a house for maintenance issues, unless the property is vacant and the WLCA had to spend money to maintain it. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

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“She truly, truly loved children,” Newsome says about the mother of three. “She had a hard time seeing them grow up. She gave her heart and soul to them.”

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observed | eduation

2012 grades continue FCAT farce

Without knowing any backsto- ment levels for subjects such as ry, if you take a look at the 2012 reading and math. These new Florida Comprehensive Assessstandards, assessments and ment Test grades released last achievement levels are being week, you’d probably be relative- used to determine school grades ly pleased with the results. this year.” Nothing looks out of the Unfortunately, that is not necordinary; most of our Plant City essarily true. schools either maintained the A bit of history: In July 2011, same grade or dropped slightly. the Florida Department of EduBut certainly nothing alarming cation delivered notice regardor earth-shattering in ing changing the way the those scores. writing portion of the Truth is, we considFCAT would be graded. ered not even publishThose changes included ing these grades. The a higher emphasis on journey to these final basics such as spelling, evaluations has been so grammar and punctuaskewed, so warped that it tion, as well as a student’s ultimately renders them use of logic, specifics and meaningless. And they depth in his or her writMICHAEL ing. even came with their ENG own caveat, courtesy of Under these new Florida Commissioner of standards, writing scores Education Gerald Robinson. statewide plummeted — only “As grades for elementary, 27% of fourth-graders passing middle and many combination this year, compared to 81% last schools become available, you year. In May, the Department of may notice that some schools Education announced it would have lower grades than last lower the proficiency score on year,” Robinson wrote in a letter the test from a 4 to a 3 (on a sixto parents. “That does not neces- point scale). This change, board sarily mean that the schools, officials said, would deliver teachers or students are not doabout the same results as last ing as well as they were before. year. There were a number of changes Fast-forward two months, and to the state’s accountability now these letter grades — which system this year that impacted take into consideration these the results. already-massaged writing scores “To help better prepare stu— come with their own asterdents for college and careers, the isk: No matter how the school state has been moving to higher performed on this year’s test, academic standards, new assess- no school’s grade was allowed ments that measure students’ to drop by more than one letter progress toward meeting the grade. standards and higher achieve“What that means is that if a

school was an A last year and the FCAT scores would have dropped them to a C or D, that school got a B,” said Linda Cobbe, external communications manager, Hillsborough County Public Schools. Furthermore, no data exists regarding which schools received that curve. In Plant City, several schools — Bailey, Bryan, Burney, Knights, Nelson and Robinson elementary schools, and Shiloh, Tomlin and Turkey Creek middle schools — posted grades one letter lower than their 2011 scores. However, we don’t — or more importantly, can’t — know whether those were supposed to be even lower. “There never was a list of ‘original’ grades that differed from those released last week,” Cobbe said. “The grade each school received is its original grade.” On a positive note, Cork and Lincoln elementary schools actually moved up a letter grade in this year’s evaluations. This year’s FCAT score snafus are just the latest in a long history of controversy regarding the test, which has been used to dole out state funding. (Schools that improve a letter grade or earn an A receive additional state funds — up to $100 per student. Schools that earn an F also are eligible for additional funding — an average of almost $2,000 per student.) And perhaps, the FCAT will continue to stumble to an unceremonious death, as education leaders plan to replace it with end-of-course exams in two years.


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MIDDLE Advantage Academy Marshall Shiloh Tomlin Turkey Creek




HIGH Durant * Plant City * Strawberry Crest *



* High school grades for 2012 have not yet been released.


D.E. Bailey preserved city’s history The greater Plant City area in the Pacific during World production operations off is rich in history. From its War II, Bailey went back to of Laura Street adjacent early pioneers coming on foot, teaching in Plant City, later to the railroad. Southland horseback or ox-drawn carts, its becoming an administraFrozen Foods became one churches, farms, trading posts, tor. He received his master’s of the top-10 frozen food its early social and civic clubs, to degree from the University companies in America. its rapid development following of Florida in elementary and Another local businessthe building of the railroad, the secondary school adminisman about whom little people, places and activities in tration, minoring in history has been written is Lew J. this area are fascinating to hisand social studies. During Prosser. This is only part of torians and the general this time, he extenwhat Bailey wrote about public alike. sively researched this man: “For over 50 We’ll be looking at the history of greater years, the name of Lew J. some of the area’s people, Plant City and wrote Prosser has been closely places, things, and events a brief history of identified with the citrus in this column over the Plant City that was industry in Plant City. Mr. coming months. Let us published in a speProsser became actively know if there is someone cial edition of The engaged in the industry or something of particuPlant City Courier. in 1921. His knowledge lar interest to you or your He later joined with of citrus and produce GIL family. Quintilla Geer Bruresulted in a number of File photo GOTT In addition to acquirton, and together, revolutionary changes in D.E. Bailey, circa 2004, wrote “Plant City: ing oral history accounts they published processing and marketIts Origin and History,” in 1977. from local residents, we learned “Plant City: Its Origin and ing crops which advanced most of what we know from History,” in 1977. the industry and aided the We remember Bailey well, intellectual exchanges with A charter member of the because he was the one to whom economy of this section.” David Elmer Bailey Jr., and from board of directors of the East Hopefully, this inaugural we turned when we had a questhe research path he set us on. Hillsborough Historical Society, column has piqued your interest tion of a historical nature. If he Known as “D.E.,” Bailey was born Bailey joined with Bruton again didn’t know the answer, he would in the world directly around you in 1917 in Taylor County and to publish an updated version of find it or tell you how and where — your local history. We look formoved with his parents in 1923 “Plant City: Its Origin and Hisward to hearing from our readers to find it. In 2007, we published to Plant City. His mother was a tory” in 1984, to coincide with with ideas, comments and quesa book titled, “Remembering teacher, father a shop owner, and Plant City’s centennial celebrations. The Photo Archives and Plant City; Tales from the Winter young David was a hard-working tion in 1985. Subsequent to that, Strawberry Capital of the World.” History Center also is continually student who excelled in school. Bailey gave many talks about searching for photos that help Bailey kindly wrote the foreword After graduating from Florida Plant City’s history to schools, for this book. He was and contin- tell the story of the world around Southern College, he taught in civic groups, churches and ues to be an inspiration to us and us. For more information or to Plant City schools and married historical organizations. He was to all we do at the Photo Archives suggest a future column idea, another teacher, Eloise DuBois. a charter member of the Plant email Gil Gott at gil@plantcity& History Center. In 1941, he became the first Plant City Photo Archives and was the One of the interesting people City married man drafted in the first recipient of the organizaGil Gott is executive director of Bailey spoke about was D. HerU.S. Army. tion’s Heritage Award, presented man Kennedy, who built one of the Plant City Photo Archives & After returning from action in 2004. History Center. the nation’s leading frozen food

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THURSDAY, july 19, 2012

friendly competition

By Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Keyshawn Green, 10, played hard for the MLK team.

James Orso scored the only point in the match.

Kids on both teams made sure to stay hydrated throughout the match.

MLK’s Dante Green encouraged his squad to play hard throughout the entire match.

Julian Laracuente, 9, took the match seriously.

Nicholas Wilson, 12, showed off his big leg during the kickball match.


VICTORY For a kid, there’s nothing quite like seeing an adult get a pummeled in the face with a whipped-cream pie. And when the children in Plant City’s summer program at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Planteen rec centers met for a kickball

challenge July 13, they knew just that. Planteen managed to edge out their opponents in a 1-0 defensive struggle. Following the game, children from both teams gathered mid-field to watch five MLK counselors receive a plateful of whipped cream right to the face.

Remy Long served a leader for the Planteen team. Left: Jordan Broadnox, 10, provided solid defense for the MLK team.

MLK counselor Patricia Porter proved she was a woman of her word — much to the delight of children on both teams. Below: Planteen brought its own cheering section — complete with homemade signs — to the kickball match.

Plant city observer




store arounD the corner

Junia Faye English

Amber Jurgensen

Focus 4 Beauty utilizes teacher who still are working in their specialties to train students for a career in cosmetology.

Focus 4 Beauty Career Center

The new school is the first and only cosmetology career center located in Plant City. Classes begin in August. The buzzing of a nail gun, the crisp August, Focus 4 Beauty already is cut of scissors to hair and the constant bustling with activity. In June, the murmur of salon gossip are all sounds career center launched a beauty sumyou hear when walking into the Focus mer camp for children. Each week 4 Beauty Career Center. featured a different theme, including Focus 4 Beauty is the first and only a tropical theme, during which kids cosmetology career cenlearned hair wrapping ter located in Plant City. and braiding, and a time BASICS Owners Paul and Nanette traveling theme, which Granville jumped at the opFocus 4 Beauty explored style through portunity to open a career the decades. ADDRESS: 1805 center after recognizing the The school’s building is James L. Redman unique niche in town that divided into two sections: Parkway exists for it. a learning environment PHONE: (813) “We have experience with three barber sta752-HAIR (4247) both from a stylist and tions, 15 stylist stations, EMAIL: focusowner’s perspective,” Paul a makeup area and nail 4beauty@yahoo. Granville says. “And we salons. The other side com know that good talent is of the building features WEBSITE: focushard to find.” three classrooms and a The couple used to own break room. There, learn Textures Hair Salon but sold the techniques and theoit after deciding to open ries of the school using their own school. They three textbooks. They will wanted to keep skilled stylists, baralso get business training to learn how bers and nail technicians in the area, to market themselves as stylists. instead of having them go to Tampa, Five instructors still working in Orlando or Lakeland. their respective fields will teach stu“We look forward to growing it right dents during one of three schedules here locally,” Paul Granville says. — morning, afternoon or evening. A Plant City native, Nanette GranCourses can range from an eight-week ville has had 20 years experience as a nail course to a nine- or 10-month cosmetologist. Paul Granville moved cosmetology or barber course. Scholfrom England to Tampa as part of arships and financial aid are available his job with Manpower, a recruiting for those who apply. company. He has been a licensed bar“It’s not the price of a big city ber for two years. Together they have school, but you’re still getting the raised seven children, all of whom are quality education of a big city school,” interested in cosmetology in some Paul Granville says. fashion. Even 2-year-old Jackson loves “We know we are pioneers here. This to have his hair washed. is the first school in town, which means Focus 4 Beauty is named after its we’re going to have to work that much four areas of concentration; nails, harder to prove ourselves,” he says. cosmetology, skincare and barbers. “But we’re up for the challenge.” Although classes won’t begin until — Amber Jurgensen

Junia Faye English, 77, of Dover, died on Friday July 6, 2012. Mrs. English was born in Plant City on May 28, 1935, to  Rayford Ransome and Jonnie Victoria (Pearson) Porter.  She  attended Plant City High School, was a member of the First Baptist Church of Dover, where she served as a primary Sunday School teacher and director of the Primary Department for many years. She also drove a school bus  for 12 years. Mrs. English loved fishing with her husband, Harry Leroy English.  She was predeceased by her  parents; daughter Nancy Lee Bryant; brother Charles Porter; and sister Teresa Hare. Survivors include her husband of 61 years, Harry Leroy English; sons Rodney Leroy English (Lucinda), of Dover, and Ronald Charles English (Cindy), of Valrico; daughter Julia Kay Baker (Mark), of Dover; nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.  In lieu of flowers you can make donations to Melech Hospice House, Temple Terrace, or First Baptist Dover Building Fund.

Johnny Gregory McDaniel

Johnny Gregory McDaniel, 50, of Plant City, died July 2, 2012. He was a loving husband and dad. He was predeceased by father, Henry McDaniel. Survivors include mother Frances McDaniel; wife Eva E. McDaniel; sons Johnny Gregory McDaniel Jr. (Tiffany), of St. Petersburg, Michael Paul McDaniel, of Lakeland, James Brandon McDaniel (Deanna), of Chiefland; brothers Earl McDaniel (Michelle), of Georgia, David McDaniel (Lori), of Plant City; and seven grandchildren.

Angela Marie “Angel” Nester

Angela Marie “Angel” Nester, 33 of Plant City, died July 7, 2012. Born March 16, 1979, in Lakeland, she was the daughter of Billy (Karen) Johnson

and Bertha (Dirk) Bridges Padgett. She was the wife of Michael Nester. Angel was a member at Youman’s Praise and Worship Center, and a leader of the worship team. Surviving are sons Dylan, Austin and Cory Nester; daughter Megan Nester; brothers Billy Ray “Bubba” Johnson and Tyler Padgett; and sisters Brittany Smith and Kaitlyn Johnson. A funeral service was held July 14, 2012, at Youman’s Praise and Worship Center.

Goma Byrd Stallard

Goma Byrd Stallard, 87, of Avon Park and Plant City, died July 6, 2012. She was born Aug. 29, 1924, in Cedar Grove, Ga., to the late William Lowery Byrd and Girtrude Richards Byrd. She attended Carroll Lynn Business College in Rome, Georgia in 1942 and graduated from Western Union School in Gainesville, Ga., in 1943. During the time she was employed by Western Union Telegraph Co., she served as office manager at Cartersville, Marietta and West Point, Ga. Later, she attended the University of Alabama. In Avon Park, she was active in the Avon Park Women’s Club for many years, serving as the club registrar and sponsor of the Junior Woman’s Club. She was a 46-year member of the First Baptist Church of Avon Park. She was predeceased by her former husband, Dr. William Armistead Stallard; son William Grant Stallard; brother Jay M. Byrd; and sisters Mary Shankle, Bonnie Kenny, Beatrice Rush, Velma Byrd, Sue Byrd, Ruth Massey and Alma Byrd. She is survived by her daughter, Mary E. Humphrey, (Dr. Donald), Plant City; grandchildren Caroline H. Masek (Seth), Mango, Cpl. Jonathan A. Humphrey, Plant City, Stefanie Stallard, Bradenton; stepgrandson Mark Kess, Charlotte, N.C.; great-grandchildren Ethan and Elaina Masek; and many nephews, nieces, great nephews and nieces, and great-great nephews and nieces.

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Plant city observer

summer shenanigans



By Amber Jurgensen | Staff Writer

CALENDAR Elissa Ferguson, 12, and Rachel Stevens, 11, loved Shiloh’s VBS.

Emily Ruiz, 7, was all smiles at Church on the Rock’s VBS.

Ashley Glover and Hailey Drawdy attended Shiloh’s VBS.

Plant City kids enjoy faithful fun at vacation Bible schools It was a week full of messy crafts, lively games, comedic skits and animated dancing at three Plant City churches during their vacation Bible schools. Shiloh Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Midway and Church on the Rock all held their respective events last week. The vacation Bible schools featured a variety of themes, activities and, of course, plenty of faithful fun.

THURSDAY JULY 19 Bike Night — takes place at 7 p.m. Thursdays, at Big Dog’s Patio, 103 N. Palmer St., Plant City. 759-2704. Feature Film for Kids — takes place at 3 p.m. July 19, at at Bruton Memorial Library 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Bring a blanket, drink and snack. For ages 5 to 12. 757-9215. Lucky Cat Yoga: ABCs and 123s — takes place at 10:05 a.m. July 19, at Bruton Memorial Library 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Bring a water bottle and a towel or mat. Class is for children ages 2 to 5. 757-9215. Lucky Cat Yoga: Elementary Yoga — takes place at 11 a.m. July 19, at Bruton Memorial Library 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. Bring a water bottle and a towel or mat. Class is for children ages 5 to 10. 757-9215.

Cooper Tharrington, Brilynn Hallman, Emma Futch and Lisee Griffin had a blast at the Midway VBS.

Nick’s Pizzeria & Wings Ribbon Cutting — takes place at 11 a.m. July 19, at 1707 James L. Redman Parkway, Suite D. For more, visit

FRIDAY JULY 20 “The Best of Broadway” — Plant City Entertainment will present this production at 8 p.m. July 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28, and 2 p.m. July 22, at the theater, 101 N. Thomas St. Tickets are $10 for members of advanced group sales; $12 for seniors; $14 for nonmembers and K-12 students. Trinity Fortner, 5, made plenty of friends at the Midway VBS.

SATURDAY JULY 21 Summer Movie — takes place at 11 a.m. July 21, at Bruton Memorial Library 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. 7579215.

Left: Kaitlyn Carlisle, 6, learned new dances at Shiloh’s VBS. Eduardo Lira, 7, worked on several crafts at Church on the Rock’s VBS.

MONDAY JULY 23 City Commission — meets at 7:30 p.m. July 23, at City Hall, 302 W. Reynolds St., Plant City. Crafternoons — takes place from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays, at Bruton Memorial Library 302 W. McLendon St., Plant City. 7579215.

Anthony Rodriguz, 6, was ready to party at the Midway VBS.

Amanda Parrish, 7, Trinidy Woodall,8, and Joan Torres, 8, got a little silly at Church on the Rock.

Auto rates just got lower.

Plant City Rotary Club — meets at 12:15 p.m. Mondays, at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, 1205 Townsgate Court.

BEST BET Strawberry Classic Car Show — takes place at 4 p.m. July 21, in Historic Downtown Plant City. The monthly event features a variety of classic cars, food, kids activities and more.

TUESDAY JULY 24 Plant City Entertainment Inc. Community Theater General Membership Meeting — takes place at 7 p.m. July 24, at the theater, 101 N. Thomas St., Plant City. For more, visit Plant City Lions Club — meets at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, at The Catering Company and Café, 115 E. Reynolds St., Plant City. For more, visit UPS Store Grand Re-Opening and Ribbon Cutting — takes place at 11 a.m. July 24, at the UPS Store, 1808 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City. For more, visit

WEDNESDAY JULY 25 Game Zone — takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, at Bruton Memorial Library 302 W. McLendon St. 757-9215.

ONGOING Hope Al-Anon Group — meets at 7:30 p.m. Mondays, at Hull House at First Presbyterian Church, 203 Thomas St. 763-3698. Job Club — meets from 10 to 11 a.m. Mondays, at The Network of East Hillsborough Neighborhoods, 639 E. Alexander St. 752-8700. Lakeland Chapter of USA Dance — meets from 3 to 6 p.m. the first Sunday of the month, at Stardust Dance Center, 1405 S. Collins St., Plant City. Cost is $6 for members; $8 for non-members. (863) 255-8344.

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Sports Plant city observer

Y O U T H | H I G H S C H O O L | G O L F | S E N I O R S | C O M M U N I Y | TENNIS


ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Guillermo Garcia will play for Concordia College-Selma. 15

sample pallet



By Matt Mauney | Staff Writer

Coaches evaluate teams Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest all participated in the Bright House Sports Network 7-on-7 Tournament at the Fishhawk Sports Complex in Lithia.

Matt Mauney

The Durant High football team was able to get in some 7-on-7 practice, before taking part in the Bright House Sports Network tournament.

show me the mauney

Going hog wild (like it or not) I like to think of myself as being fairly athletic, but the truth is, I spend way more time watching or covering athletes than I do being active myself. On July 21, ready or not, that will change. About two weeks ago, I came across a local deal on Groupon. It was for a discounted entry fee for the Hog Wild Mud Run, held in Dover across Interstate 4 from Strawberry Crest High School. I’ve kept my eye on events such as these for a while. Nationally known events, including the Warrior Dash and the Tough Mudder, have become increasingly popular the last few MATT years, and MAUNEY many of my friends have taken part in these types of competitions. With this one being local, it seemed like the perfect thing to get me off my lazy behind and train for something. At the very least, I thought it would make for an interesting column or two. So here I am, just two days away from my impending fate. Once upon a time, I was active. A runner, in fact. I was the captain of my track and crosscountry teams in high school and spent my days running 15 to 30 miles daily when not in class. But, a lack of motivation when I got to college and a


Although Friday-night football won’t begin for another month, the skill players on area squads got an early chance to compete over the weekend at the Bright House Sports Network 7-on-7 Tournament July 14 and 15, at the Fishhawk Sports Complex in Lithia. All three Plant City schools were in action over the weekend, as pass offenses and defenses were put to the test. The 24 teams were split into four

opening the playbook

divisions (Chill, Solid, Freeze and Rock) and two conferences (A.C.T. and S.A.T.) and each played six games July 14, to establish seeding for the single elimination tournament the following day. Durant had the best showing of area teams on day one, going 3-21 with victories over Boca Ciega, East Bay and Calvary Christian, before falling in the first game of the single elimination tournament July 15, to Boca Ciega.

“We started off real well and did some good things, but I think then the kids lost some confidence,” head coach Mike Gottman said. With Durant known for having more of a run-based offense bolstered by a big offensive line, Gottman said he wasn’t too concerned with the results in the tournament, where more pass-heavy spread teams tend to thrive.


By Matt Mauney | Staff Writer

NEW DIMENSION Rising Durant senior Zach Stephenson is a likely option to fill the void left by QB Nick Fabrizio.

Many times, when a high school football team loses its star quarterback, there is a sense of uncertainty or even concern with what the future of the position has in store. That’s not the case going into the upcoming season for Durant High, where rising senior Zach Stephenson or junior transfer Trey Vandegrift hope to fill the void of Nick Fabrizio, now with the Naval Academy. Stephenson, who transferred to Durant last year from Alabama, has been splitting time this summer with Vandegrift, after serving as Fabrizio’s backup last fall. “I’m feeling a little pressure, just because it’s my first year where I could be starting with a new team, but it’s not terrible,” said Stephenson, who is fairly new to the position, not taking the role behind center until high school. Although he only received limited playing time last year as Fabrizio’s backup, Stephenson does bring a year of varsity experience, starting for Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala., as a sophomore. While he will be competing in the competitive 7A District 8 with Durant, Stephenson is no stranger to tough competition. Oak Mountain was in the highest classification (6A) of the Alabama High School Athletic Association and regularly competed against some of the state’s best teams, including Hoover, Pelham and Mountain Brook, among others. “We played some really solid teams in one of the toughest divisions in Alabama, so I think that has helped me be ready for what I’ll see here (at Durant),” he said. Vandegrift also brings varsity playing experience. The rising junior transferred to Durant after serving as the starting quarterback at Strawberry Crest last season. Vandegrift has been working hard in the offseason and got some quality work in last weekend during the Bright House Sports Network 9Route 7-on-7 Team Tournament.

“We feel pretty good about the two quarterbacks we have right now,” Durant head coach Mike Gottman said. “I have been open with both of them that the job is up for grabs.” Although Gottman admitted it is nice to have two capable prospects at the position, he said the probability of splitting time isn’t likely. The biggest adjustment for Stephenson has been the transition from the spread passing attack he was a part of at Oak Mountain to the more run-based option attack of Durant’s base offense. “We threw the ball a lot when I was in Alabama; we had good receivers but we didn’t have the biggest line,” he said. “Here, our line’s fantastic, so we can run the ball a lot more with a pro-style option offense, but we still pass a little bit too.” While Stephenson is more of a pure passer compared to Fabrizio, who is regarded as an option quarterback, Durant offensive coordinator Mike Bradley said he will fit in perfectly to what the Cougars want to do this season. “He brings a new dimension to our offense, so we’re excited about that,” Bradley said. Bradley explained teams would stack eight or nine guys in the box to defend Fabrizio and the rest of the talented Durant backfield last season. While most of


Zach Stephenson, a rising senior quarterback, transferred to Durant in 2011 from Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala. He currently is competing for the starting job with the Cougars, along with Strawberry Crest transfer Trey Vandegrift.


QB/PAGE 13 that backfield returns, Bradley said with Stephenson behind center, the Cougars will be able to open the playbook more. “Zach is a good passer and makes good decisions with reading defenses,” he said. “Running the ball will still be a big part of what we want to do, but having him at quarterback will make defenses more concerned with our passing attack, which will balance us out more as an offense.” When it comes to running the football, Bradley said what Stephenson may lack in speed, he makes up for in efficiency. “He makes good reads and pitches, and if defenses sleep on him, he can eat up some yards,” Bradley said, comparing him to former Durant standout Je’Twan Smith. According to Bradley, Stephenson is a confident leader on and off the field and regularly gets the guys together for unscheduled practices.

EVALUATION/PAGE 13 “We are doing some good things, but we’re not ready to win a 7-on7 tournament right now,” he said. “It’s great experience for us, but that’s not really what we’re about. We play football with pads on,” he said. Plant City High also had a strong showing, going .500 on the first day with a 3-3 record and taking the No. 4 seed out of the “Solid Division.” The Raiders’ three losses on day one came against Spoto, Gaither and tournament champion Lakewood. The losses against Spoto and Gaither came down to the wire, according to head coach Wade Ward. With a team that lost key skill players now with Division I schools, including quarterback Bennie Coney (Cincinnati), receiver LaMarlin Wiggins (South Florida) and running back Dazmond Patterson (Ohio), Ward said he was impressed with the play of the guys charged with filling those voids. Dontavious Johnson and Colby Diers were two guys Ward said stepped up to make some big

sure how that works in Florida), mud pits, cargo nets, wall hurdles and much more. The finale is a giant slide into a mud pit before a belly crawl under barbed wire and live electrical wire (!!!). You may think my biggest fear would be being overwhelmed by the physicality of this event, or the fact that I have the knees of a 60-year-old man, but I’m not concerned with any of that. I was born and raised in metro Atlanta, so I’m not exactly the outdoorsy type. Don’t get me wrong, I like camping and hiking as much as the next guy, but the

steady diet of Mountain Dew and hot wings ever since has erased years of conditioning and replaced them with something much more, well, pedestrian. I began training for this thing about a week ago, so in no way do I expect to be running the five- to six-minute-mile splits I did seven years ago. But then again, the Hog Wild Mud Run isn’t anything like the 5Ks I ran in high school. Sure, the distance is the same, but this race includes more than 25 obstacles, including an ice pit crawl (not


He believes that with either Stephenson or Vandegrift behind center, the Cougars should be successful offensively. “We averaged around 30 points per game last year, and I think we should be able to match that if not better this season,” Bradley said. Stephenson said the transition to Durant has gone smoothly. He also has built a strong relationship with his offensive line, an important trait of a quarterback at any level. “They’re my boys,” he said. “I like hanging out with them, and they protect me, so that’s important,” Stephenson said. With Stephenson having a year left and Vandegrift having two, Bradley shares Gottman’s thought in the security of the position. “We’re excited to see what the future holds at the quarterback position,” he said. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.


Plant city observer

wildlife down here in Florida is no joke. I’ve been reassured in the past two weeks from Florida natives that alligators and snakes are “more afraid of you than you are of them,” but I’m not convinced. The route of the race is sectioned off and well-planned, but you never know what you may meet when running through woods or natural bodies of water. It’s not likely, but with my luck, I’ll be the one who has to be pulled from the woods after a snake bite or after wrestling with a gator during a pond crossing (in that case, my money is on the gator).

O B S E RV E R C RO S S WO R D Edited by Timothy E. Parker



2. S X A R X N G N L X E E F J J A G A Z J G L T U N K H R N M I B M H A S X A G A E S LJ






catches. When it comes to the backfield, Ward said the competition remains open but said there are several guys competing for the job, including Jontavia Sykes and incoming freshmen Irvin Michael and Markese Hargrove. Class of 2014 prospects Landon Galloway and Drequn Johnson are two guys Ward said could take the quarterback position. “(7-on-7) allows our young guys to compete and play on a high level,” Ward said. “We want to compete to win in everything we do. The way we played is a reflection of our youth. When we’re on, we’re on, and when we’re off, we’re off.” Strawberry Crest High also went 3-3 on day one, losing their first two games, before winning the next two and splitting the final two games, giving them the No. 3 seed out of their division. The Chargers won their first game Sunday over Tampa Catholic before being eliminated by Tampa Bay Tech. “We let a few games slip through our fingers that first day, but it was good experience for our young guys, giving them a chance to com-




pete,” said John Kelly, the new head coach at Strawberry Crest. Like Gottman, Kelly views 7-on-7 tournaments as a chance for offensive skill players to work on timing and a chance for defensive backs to work on backpedalling and coverage. This tournament was also beneficial for the new cast of quarterbacks at SCHS, as previous starter Trey Vandegrift has transferred to Durant. According to Kelly, rising sophomores Tristan Hyde and Austin Carswell performed well in the tournament, receiving some quality reps. “Those two have strengths in a lot of areas and it’s good for them to be able to compete and work on their timing,” Kelly said. The Chargers will stay busy with seven-on-seven action the next two weeks, as they will head to Tampa this weekend for the twoday Sling and Shoot Tournament at the University of South Florida, followed by a tournament at Lakeland Christian the following week. Contact Matt Mauney at

Pending an unexpected amputation, I’m excited for the chance to get out and do something like this. I’ve always been a competitive person, so I expect my overall mindset going in to be positive, but I’m not sure how my out-of-shape body will feel after this undertaking. Regardless, I expect to earn my Hog Wild T-shirt and commemorative medal Saturday. And on Sunday, I will be lying comatose on my couch staring at said items, and probably will be enjoying an ice-cold Mountain Dew. And probably some hot wings. Hey, don’t judge. I earned them.

IF YOU GO Hog Wild Mud Run WHEN: July 21. Nine 30-minute wave starts begin at 8:30 a.m. WHERE: 2441 Kirkland Road, Dover SPECTATOR SPORT: Unfortunately, registration for this event has passed, but everyone is welcomed to come out and watch Matt Mauney embarrass himself for free!

MEAT InSPECTIOn by Alice walker ACROSS

1 “___, Fly, Don’t Bother Me” 5 Recuperate 9 Complaints fit for this puzzle? 14 ___ segno (from the repeat sign, in music) 17 Appear 19 Andean civilization 20 Open spaces in malls 21 ___-Wan Kenobi of “Star Wars” 22 Celebrate a prodigal’s return 25 The point of writing? 26 Hoppin’ mad feeling 27 Eyewash acid 28 Jackman of film 29 Bug carrying passengers? 31 Regardless of 33 Limerick start, often 35 “The Walking Dead” character Greene 36 “And now, without further ___ ...” 37 “Comprende?” 38 Direct 40 Having a full set of marbles 41 “While” lead-in 44 Forest’s open space 46 Key often used with Ctrl and Del 47 Happily ___ after 48 New York ballplayer 49 Cattle rancher’s tool 50 Psychic energy 54 Washington bill 55 Exalting poem 56 Gives kudos to 58Measure of gold’s fineness 59 Atlantic food fish 61 A driver may hit it 62 Put on, as makeup

63 64 66 67

69 72 73 75 77 78 79 80 82 83 84 85 87 88 89 91 92 94 95

96 99 100 102 104 106 110 111 112 114

Be dead wrong Coin of the realm Bard’s “always” Fast food fit for this puzzle? (with 69-Across) See 67-Across “ ___ the ramparts ...” “I’m just kidding!” emoticon Bygone airline Bay on the English Channel “___ died and made you king?” Give the cold shoulder to Censor’s sound Saltwater sweet Like Wonderland’s hatter Feds’ document producer Jazz pianist Lewis Extinct New Zealand birds “So there you ___!” Centers of activity Gluttony or lust Ablutionary still-life vessels “No ifs, ___ or buts!” Bard of ___ (Shakespeare’s nickname) Helps, as a fugitive It may be financial or legal It goes back and forth to work Holm of “All About Eve” Presides over (a case) Buff Has faith in Acute, as vision Pageant prize ___ Tome and Principe

115 Supply with weapons 116 Pamplona event 120 252 wine gallons 121 Campfire glower 122 House of prayer 123 Most urgent 124 Cannon’s three 125 Takes measured steps 126 Bridge or tunnel charge 127 1871 Giuseppe Verdi opera

43 They’re behind the wheel 45 Jeweler’s magnifier 49 Control substance 51 Well-liked president? 52 Insulting remark 53 Burst in suddenly 54 Fish-eating birds 57 Word with “solar” or “nervous” 60 Bruce Willis franchise 64 Showing poise 65 Eats away 68 Rams’ mates 70 Gadded about dOwn 71 ___ broke 1 “Rocky” actress 74 Pea family plants Talia 76 Chest-beating 2 Logical flaws vegetarian 3 Nocturnal creature 80 Grease someone’s 4 Offer more than palm 5 ’50s home 81 Quaint little path entertainment 86 Revolutionary purchase period 6 Passed, as laws 89 Produce milk 7 Stop being 90 Production excess apathetic 91 Seedless mandarin 8 Woodworking tool orange 9 Nag, nag, nag 93 Full of yearning 10 Use acid to make art 94 Wheat beard 11 ___ of Good 97 His and hers Feelings 98 Caught in the act 12 Hazelnut 101 Lawrence’s land 13 Further from danger 103 Throat bacteria, for 14 “Chill out,” to Bart short Simpson 105 Feeling of 15 Central Texas city foreboding 16 Maligner of a sort 106 Cry of contempt 17 Lose control on the 107 Stranded like road Gilligan was 18 Art of picture taking 108 Dip that gives zip to 23 Before, once a chip 24 Continental 109 Party throwing a currency party 30 Core 111 Place for a pants 32 Butter measure patch 34 Weak spot for 113 “___ be good for Achilles you!” 35 Spartan serf 117 “30 Rock” network 37 Cowboy’s seat 118 “Mystery solved!” 39 Baby’s pop 119 William Tell’s 41 Acts excessively canton 42 Uses, as frequent flier miles

Plant city observer


athlete of the week

By Matt Mauney | Staff Writer



pigskin party By Matt Mauney | Staff Writer Ciara Strickland brought her A-game Saturday.

Guillermo Garcia, a 2012 graduate of Strawberry Crest High, committed to play football for Concordia College-Selma, a Division II school in Alabama. He made the decision after long uncertainty whether he would be given the opportunity to play in college. Ultimately, it came down to three schools — South Dakota, Alabama State and Concordia — with Garcia choosing to follow Plant City graduates Jalen Butler and Antwon Armstrong to Concordia. He three seasons for the Chargers after transferring from Durant High in 2009.

Explain your recruiting process. The South Dakota coach kept calling me, but South Dakota just seemed too far away and too cold from what I’m used to. I took a visit to Alabama State and was going to commit with them, and then later on, the Concordia coach called me. What made you ultimately choose Concordia? I found out my friends, Jalen, Butler and (Antwon Armstrong) were going there, and because (Armstrong) and I had such a good connection at the (Hillsborough County) All-Star Game, I figured Concordia was where it’s at.

I figured that it was a brand new school and a brand new program and would let me take on a leadership role and meet new people.

After going through several coaching changes and a 1-9 season last year, do you have any regrets? I never regret anything. I just learn from my mistakes. I didn’t know what it was going to be like and knew that it was going to be a big risk. It was a tough senior year, and I wish it went a lot better, but I would have never left my team hanging. These kids look up to me and look to me for advice.

Did you take a visit to Concordia and what do you know about the team there? They’re an up-and-coming program that’s only six years old, so all three of us are looking to go up there and play ball. When you had the choice of staying at Durant or going to Strawberry Crest, what made you choose SCHS?

Who would you say is your mentor? My best friend, Daniel Wisneskey, rest in peace. It was during the football season when he passed away. There was a lot of adversity with family, school and football this year, so it was tough. It all helped me mature and prepare for college. I wasn’t the biggest or fastest my sophomore year, and a lot of people would tell me I wouldn’t make it, but he always saw something in me.

Girls hit the gridiron at Plant City Flag Football Invitational The Plant City Flag Football Invitational featured one of the deepest and most talented fields in its four-year history July 14 and 15, at Otis M. An-

drews Sports Complex. This year’s tournament featured the two-time state champion Seminole Ridge, along with four former state semifinalists.

The rain the night before made the field muddy and slippery, causing problems with snaps. Right: Kelsey Brevitt was a fierce competitor.

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Plant city observer


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Plant City Observer 07.19.12  

Plant City Observer

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