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Chargers’ Karel Hamilton is a hidden gem. PAGE 15

update by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Principal’s DUI arrest prompts changes

+ Students win Swine Show honors Two Plant City High School students earned accolades at the Hillsborough County Fair Swine Show Oct. 19. Zachary Zolna, a junior, won the 2012 Hillsborough County Swine Show Senior Division Showmanship. Keylee Christie, a freshman, won the 2012 Hillsborough County Swine Show Intermediate division Showmanship. Both students, members of the Plant City FFA chapter, were awarded a Montana Silversmith belt buckle and a custom leather belt. Awards sponsors were Mr. and Mrs. Jay Wheeler and Susan Harrell, of Almost Famous Leather Works.

Advantage Academy Principal Todd Haughey was arrested for drunken driving Oct. 6, in St. Petersburg.

Members of the team, Carey Blanton, L.T. Cochran, Jason Creech and Brenda Cochran, have encountered many unexplainable events during their work in Plant City.

PARANORMAL IN PLANT CITY L.T. Cochran is the founder of the Plant City Paranormal Research team.

+ Patch plump with prime picks Still hunting for that perfect pumpkin? First United Methodist Church’s annual pumpkin patch will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Halloween, at 303 N. Evers St. The patch features pumpkins grown by Navajo farmers. The annual patch is a fundraiser for the church’s youth group. The church will host its Trunk or Treat event from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31. During Trunk or Treat, children will receive candy from the trunks of decorated cars. The event also will feature music, a bounce house and games. Children are encouraged to wear costumes. For more information, call (813) 754-3519.

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor


s a police officer with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office since 1988, L.T. Cochran is used to handling unusual situations. But nothing beats the abnormal predicaments he finds himself battling with the Plant City Paranormal Research team. Instead of handcuffs, tasers and pepper spray, Cochran uses prayer, holy water and video equipment to solve these metaphysical mysteries. Cochran used to do investigations with a group in Sarasota. But his Christian background clashed with the beliefs of some of the members who were spiritualists and Wiccan. He left to start his own team, formerly known as the Plant City Center for Paranormal Research, in 2007. There were 28 people who joined the group, some from as far as Fort Myers and Sarasota.


Advantage Academy leaders are changing the school’s hiring policies after its latest principal, Todd Haughey, resigned last week following his fifth DUI charge Oct. 6, in St. Petersburg. Under its original policy, the school only required applicants to disclose felony and misdemeanor charges of the last seven years. Haughey’s previous four DUI convictions, which occurred in Indiana and Ohio, took place more than seven years ago. Haughey, Advantage Academy’s fourth principal since it opened in 2009, was taken to jail after he Todd Haughey was pulled over at around midnight by St Petersburg police for turning northbound on a southbound lane on 34th Street. According to police reports, Haughey had a blank look on his face, his eyes were glassy, and he smelled of alcohol when he spoke. A DUI officer was called to the parking lot at 3401 Central Ave., and administered a series of tests. Haughey was transported to the Pinellas County jail without incident. Because Advantage Academy is a charter school, it is responsible for drafting its own policies and applications for employment, and the only role Hillsborough Country Public Schools plays in hiring is to conduct fingerprint processing for a charter school, which is sent to the FBI, according to Linda Cobbe, spokesperson for the district. Haughey first applied for assistant principal at Advantage Acad-


INDEX Crossword.......... 19

Vol. 1, No. 17 | One section

Obituaries.......... 14


Sports................ 15


Plant city observer


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education by Amber Jurgensen | Staff Writer

Plant City students named National Merit semifinalists Ten students from Plant City high schools qualified for a chance at a $2,500 scholarship. Ten Plant City-area high school students beat out more than 1.5 million peers from throughout the country to qualify as semifinalists for the 2013 National Merit Scholarship. Nationwide, 16,000 students qualified as semifinalists; 15,000 will be named finalists in February. Of those, about 8,000 will receive $2,500 scholarships. The students were chosen based on the PSAT scores they earned during their junior year of high school. “It’s a great honor, and it looks (good) to colleges,” semifinalist William Lamoreaux, of Plant City High School, said. Lamoreaux loves math, philosophy and psychology and found the test easy. “I’m good at tests,” Lamoreaux said. “That’s my main merit.


“I want to be a ‘modern-day Renaissance man,’” Lamoreaux said. Lamoreaux is involved with a variety of extracurricular activities. He is in the Future Business Leaders of America and JROTC. He also is part of the drama club and served as technical director for the Calendar Girls show. Recently, he completed his bartending license, and in the spring, he hopes to try out for baseball. Rebecca Fate, from Strawberry Crest, said she worked hard before the test and practiced with an English teacher after school. English is Fate’s strongest subject, and she is thinking about becoming an English teacher in the future. “It was very exciting to find out I had qualified,” Fate said. Currently, Fate is filing applications for several colleges, including the University of Miami, the University of Florida, Yale University and Vanderbilt University.


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Plant City

Ellen Adams William Lamoreaux

Strawberry Crest Dana Beriswill Evan Bishop Kathleen Callahan Darius D’Souza Rebecca Fate Jade Philipoom Allison Stahr

There’s never been a test that’s beaten me.” Lamoreaux, now a senior, hasn’t decided on a college or major yet but has a passion for learning.

Amber Jurgensen

William Lamoreaux, of Plant City High School, said he wants to be a ‘modern-day Renaissance man.’ Fate said any type of scholarship will help her achieve her dream of going to college. “I definitely need as many scholarships as I can get,” Fate said. “That’s why I’m looking at in-state colleges. I know Bright Futures will help a lot with the cost of tuition.” Fate balances academics with orchestra practice and Toys for Tots, a fundraiser she started at Strawberry Crest during her sophomore year. This is the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The scholarship money is funded

by about 1,000 corporations and businesses and about 200 colleges and universities. To become a finalist, the students and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, demonstrated leadership abilities and honors and awards. More than 290,000 students in the passed have earned the National Merit Scholar title. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

governance by Michael Eng | Managing Editor

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Commission honors Dan Raulerson The longtime city commissioner, who is running for the Florida House District 58 seat, served at his final commission meeting Oct. 22.

Charlie Boone, of Boone’s Nursery, played in his band during the feast.


About 150 people gathered Oct. 19, at the home of George and Cassandra Banning in Walden Lake, for a Country Cracker Feast to benefit several charities, including the United Food Bank of Plant City. The Bannings’ beautiful garden was buzzing with partygoers, who snacked on gumbo, fish, gator and smoked hog. City Commissioner Dan Raulerson cooked up fried dove appetizers sautéed in olive oil, garlic and wine. Unity in the Community presented United Food Bank director, Christine Miller, with one $30,000 check and one $5,000 check. The third feast was planned

Kathy Bane and Mary Heysek loved strolling around the Bannings’ garden.

President of Unity in the Community presented Christine Miller with a $30,000 check and a $5,000 check for the United Food Bank. by the Plant City Daybreak Rotary Club. The night also featured a silent auction with

sports memorabilia, cigars and wine baskets. The benefit raises $12,000 to $15,000 annually.

Jana Butler and Tammy Gaschler rocked camouflage for the country theme.

Cassandra and George Banning hosted the feast.

Plant City Commissioner Dan Raulerson fought off tears Oct. 22, as his fellow commissioners and city leaders praised him for five years of civil service in Plant City. Mayor Mike Sparkman presented Raulerson with a plaque and proclamation and Raulerson’s wife, Shirley, with roses. Raulerson, who is running for the Florida House of Representatives District 58 seat, served at his final commission meeting this week. City Manager Greg Horwedel said the proclamation came with one caveat — that Raulerson promise to hang it in every office he holds. “I’m going to sleep with it — how about that?” Raulerson said, smiling. Sparkman, Vice Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis and commissioners Bill Dodson and Rick Lott all took time to congratulate Raulerson. Raulerson was first elected to

IN OTHER NEWS • Dan Morris and Nikki Emerson, of Somebody Cares Tampa Bay, praised Plant City for its help in bringing Care Fest 2012 to the community. Emerson said more than 150 local volunteers participated in the event and completed 18 projects throughout the city. • City Manager Greg Horwedel reported the Sydney Road reclaimed water project is on schedule for completion before the Florida Strawberry Festival. • Commissioners approved unanimously an amendment

INSIDE To read our candidate profiles for Dan Raulerson and his opponent, Democrat Jose Vazquez, see page 7. the commission in 2007. He also served for two years as mayor. “To Plant City: Thank you for your confidence,” Raulerson said. “It’s been an honor to serve as a commissioner and mayor. I’ve gotten to meet so many great people. … It’s been a hoot.” Raulerson also praised his fellow commissioners as well as city staff for their support. “Your leadership, your mentoring (and) your dedication is what makes this a magical place,” he said. “And it’s not over. Should I be lucky enough to be elected to the Florida House, we will still be a team — in a different capacity.” Contact Michael Eng at meng@ to the city budget that would give the police department $18,000 to purchase laptops for police officers and $13,000 for replacement servers. These capital outlays will be funded by cash held by the department as evidence, abandoned or lost property. • The commission agreed to schedule two public hearings and one community meeting for designating the Lincoln Park Brownfield Area for rehabilitation The public hearings will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and Dec. 10, and the community meeting will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 15.

Plant city observer

PARANORMAL/PAGE 1 Since then, Cochran has whittled his team down to about eight key investigators, who are all local. As the founder of the Christianbased paranormal investigation team, Cochran has looked into hundreds of cases, sometimes working on three per week. He’s encountered everything from slamming doors to objects flying off shelves. And despite the work’s intriguing nature, Cochran prefers to keep his investigations low-key and professional. “I don’t care about publicity,” Cochran says. “I’m not going to be the next one on The Atlantic Paranormal Society. None of that.” Cochran doesn’t advertise his services. Instead he is more focused on helping people — the main reason he is involved with paranormal investigation in the first place. “The people that really need me, they find me,” Cochran says. “They don’t know where to turn, they’re scared to mention what’s going on, what their neighbors will think.” Before Cochran begins an investigation, he conducts research on the house or building, including the history of the house and any other factors that could cause someone to think they were suffering from paranormal activity, such as carbon monoxide testing. Cochran completes a typical investigation in stages. On the first night,



In addition to paranormal investigations, Cochran and his team also help with historical preservations. Last year, they raised more than $1,000 for the James McCabe Theater, in Valrico, through a cookout. Everything was donated or funded by the investigation team. The team also hopes to host an event for the Frank Saxon House, in Brooksville.

he and his team say a prayer of protection before entering the house or building. Then, he sits down with the owners and talks with them about their experiences and about the history of the house. The owners can say a prayer with Cochran if they choose. Cochran concludes by walking around the house. If the paranormal disturbances keep occurring, Cochran will come back a second night and set up equipment to monitor. Cochran has about $5,000 of technical equipment, including night-vision video cameras and voice recorders. Sometimes, he will ask questions out loud. He says he has captured voices. “I try to offer solutions with Christian ethics and morals,” Cochran says. “Sometimes, you can never get answers.” Cochran has studied the paranormal for years and focused his time on

theology and demonology. He served as senior international director for United Paranormal. Cochran says there are two forms of paranormal activity. Residual is energy that remains with the house, building or land but does not interact. It is like a memory pressed into the environment. There is not much you can do about a residual energy. Intelligence is an energy that can interact by pulling hair, changing the temperature and other occurrences. In this case, Cochran will say a prayer for the energy’s salvation. There also can be negative energies. In 2008, Cochran and his team experienced a strong negative energy that made team members nauseated. A cross around one resident’s neck broke into seven pieces. Cochran always has been interested in the occult. He grew up in a 150-year-old house in Ohio. His family believes the house to be haunted by the spirit of a young boy they nicknamed the “Hector the Spector.” “Ghosts were just something natural to me,” he says. “It was so prevalent in the house I grew up in that we never thought anything about it. “Every day, every night, you’d hear footsteps walking up the stairs, and there would never be anyone there — The whole nine yards,” he said. “The fear of it was never part of my thought pattern.” Contact Amber Jurgenesen at

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emy in 2010. However, when his application went through the system, only one of his previous DUI convictions surfaced through the FBI check. “Why the other DUIs didn’t show up, that’s a question for the FBI,” Cobbe said. The school’s former policy differed from the district’s, which asked every applicant to disclose whether he or she had ever been convicted or pleaded guilty to a criminal offense, excluding a minor traffic violation. The application specifies that a DUI is not considered a minor traffic violation. Some parents are wondering why Haughey was hired with his past convictions. “It really makes me wonder what kind of people are around your children,” said a father of a fourth-grader at Advantage Academy. He spoke only under the condition of anonymity. Advantage Academy has sent letters home to parents explaining Haughey’s resignation. The letters should arrive in mailboxes this week. Amy Siegel, a dean at the school, will serve as an interim leader, with the support of Estrelle Strader, vice president of Charter School Associates, and Ivan Hernandez, assistant director of curriculum at Charter School Associates. The school is now searching for a permanent replacement. “We’re looking for a new principal with all the qualifications to fit the needs of the school,” Mike Strader, president of Charter School Associates, the organization that oversees Advantage Academy and 12 other charter schools, said. In addition to the DUI convictions, Haughey’s record includes another criminal incident that forced him out of a school. In February 2010, Haughey resigned from an assistant principal post at McNeal Elementary, in Lakewood Ranch. According to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports, Haughey and his girlfriend had been out drinking. When they returned to the woman’s condo, an argument turned violent, the report stated. Haughey grabbed and pushed the woman, who eventually ran out of the home. After Manatee County Public Schools officials learned of the incident, they ordered Haughey not to have contact with her. He continued to do so. Manatee district leaders then gave Haughey an opportunity to resign rather than be fired. Advantage Academy has had four principals since it opened in 2009. Lou Cerreta started the 2011-2012 school year but left for a principal position at a Pasco County school. In October 2011, Haughey took over. William Davis served as principal for the 2009-2010 school year, and Pam Franco served as principal for the 2010-2011 school year before moving out of the area. Contact Amber Jurgensen at

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One woman is dead after a hit-and-run crash earlier this week. According to Plant City Police Department reports, at 11:07 a.m. Oct. 22, deputies arrived to the area near 4006 Airport Road Road in reference to a traffic crash with injuries. When officers arrived, they found the not-at-fault driver, 75 year-old Basila Santana, and two other passengers from her vehicle with serious injuries. They also learned the driver of the at-fault vehicle, 38 year-old Edilmar Palacio-DeLeon, fled the scene on foot prior to their arrival. Officers, with the assistance of witnesses, located PalacioDeLeon as he was attempting to flee the area as a passenger in another vehicle. According to investigators, Palacio-DeLeon was traveling southbound through the parking lot at Santa Sweets at a high rate of speed prior to the crash. As he exited the parking lot, Palacio-DeLeon failed to stop for Santana, who was traveling westbound on Airport Road. The front of Palacio-DeLeon’s 2003 Ford F-150 struck the right front of Santana’s 1995 Mercury Villager, sending it careening into a nearby fence. Santana was transported to South Florida Baptist Hospital, where she was discovered to have serious internal injuries as a result of the crash. She was immediately airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa to repair those injuries but died during surgery.

+ TEDCO expands into East Hillsborough The Tampa Bay Economic Development Corporation announced last week plans to expand into East Hillsborough. In partnership with many area banks, the non-profit business assistance company has provided SBA 504 loans to businesses in the region for the past 29 years. The ILP is designed to provide small businesses which do not meet the traditional loan size and length underwriting criteria of most financial institutions with growth capital in the form of equipment funding, lines of credit and owneroccupied real estate funding.

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CANDIDATE PROFILES: Florida Senate District 24 Elizabeth Belcher Democrat Elizabeth Belcher is devoted to serving her community, learning at a young age that isn’t something that people should do, but rather must do. Belcher spent 27 years as a criminal investigator with the Internal Revenue Service. Her cases included tax fraud and money laundering. As a government employee, she could not become involved in politics but has been active on community issues, such as zoning and the weigh-in-motion station. Some of her accomplishments through those efforts include drafting and helping implement the Seffner/Mango Library, and becoming the treasurer of the special tax district in her subdivision, as well as the president of Friends of Seffner/Mango Library. “The more I became involved in community issues, the more disgusted I became with local politics,” she said. “After I retired, I joined the Democratic Party.” Belcher’s political plan is based on the “Four Es” — ethics, economy, education and environment. Belcher said Florida has been running on poor ethics, with the state being in control by the Republican Party for the past 14 years. “Without ethics, it is like building a house on a sink hole,” she said. “At some time, the house is going to collapse. That is what is happening in Florida.” Belcher noted the “only list Florida has managed to be ranked No. 1 on is public corruption.” Belcher wants legislation requiring

Tom Lee

lawmakers who introduce budget items to list them on the state website, as well as requiring legislators to put their names beside line items they introduce. “It is past time that ethics returned to our public offices,” she said. Belcher pointed to several examples of ill spending in the area, including the Polytechnic University in Lakeland and The Regent Center. A study showed that 40% of firms that received taxpayer money failed to fulfill their agreements. “If you are a business person, would you continue to pursue a business model that failed 40% of the time?” she asked. Regarding the economy, Belcher believes it is in the state’s best interest to support small businesses. “Studies have shown that two out of three real, new jobs created within the last decade were from small business,” she said. When it comes to education and the environment, Belcher said “teachers are the solution, not the problem” and that we must protect our farmers. “If you think that we are in trouble by being dependent on foreign oil, what is going to happen if we became dependent on foreign food?” she questioned. Belcher also stated when she was hired as a special agent, her first supervisor told her she had to be three times as good and do twice the work to receive half the recognition of a male agent. “I took the challenge and succeeded,” she said. If elected, Belcher plans to take up her new challenge and succeed in Tallahassee. — Matt Mauney

Republican Tom Lee is a longtime resident of Hillsborough County, living and working in the Brandon area for more than 40 years. He is the son of a family working in construction and has been a leader at his family’s business, Sabal Homes, for nearly 25 years. He currently serves as the vice president of the company. Through this experience, Lee has developed a deep connection with his community. Lee previously served as a state senator from 1996 to 2006, before taking a break from politics. Now, he’s back, running for the newly drawn Senate District 24, comprising mostly suburbs, farmland and small businesses in Eastern Hillsborough County. “I think the most important qualification you can have is to look at the time a candidate has spent living in the district,” Lee said. “I’ve been involved with the community here and active in business and philanthropic outreach since I graduated from college.” During his decade in Tallahassee, Lee worked to protect taxpayers, cutting taxes in each of the 10 years he served in the Senate. In 2004, Lee was selected as the Senate president. “I learned a lot during that time,” Lee said, adding that he had no ambitions of getting involved in politics before he was convinced to run in 1995. “I didn’t really have an appreciation for politicians before that, but during my time in Senate, I developed a respect for public service and saw that statesmen can help make people believe in our government.” Lee said there were many challenges during that time to fulfill his duties in Tallahassee by representing his community while




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maintaining his professional and personal life. “You test yourself in a lot of different ways, and I walked out with a tremendous respect for government and a real sense of humility,” he said. Lee admitted that, at first, he had no desire to get back into politics, but after some time of giving advice to other candidates — and after Ronda Storms decided to not run for re-election and instead run for Hillsborough County property appraiser — Lee was persuaded to make another run. “This process was more of a 75-day sprint and not a two-year marathon,” he said of his candidacy. While in the Senate, Lee built a reputation for being tough on lobbyists, insisting they disclose how much money they make and for banning them from buying meals and gifts for legislators. “I came into Senate with no political experience and a fresh set of eyes,” he said. “I don’t believe democracy can flourish if people don’t trust the government. I saw things I thought were eroding public trust and allowing special-interest groups to get between legislatures and their constituents. I decided I was going to change that.” Lee noted the most pressing issue in this election is the economy. He said this area has plenty of economic assets, but improving education is key. “We need to continue to invest and reform education,” he said. “There is more we can do in ethics reform, as well. There are many problems that have arose in the six years since I’ve been gone. A lot of things need to be addressed, and I’d like to think 10 years in the Senate and a long time spent in the private sector and working with small business makes me qualified to represent this district.” — Matt Mauney

Plant city observer



CANDIDATE PROFILES: Florida House of Representatives District 58 Dan Raulerson Dan Raulerson’s first foray into politics was at his alma mater, Brandon High School, as senior class president. Since then, he’s come a long way, but the Plant City commissioner and former mayor didn’t set out to get involved with politics. “It was never anything that I had planned on; it just happened,” Raulerson said. “I’ve been honored to serve the people of Plant City.” Born in Jacksonville, the sixth-generation Floridian moved to Brandon when he was 14. After graduating from Brandon High, he studied accounting at Florida State University. He worked for a CPA firm in Orlando before being recruited to run a new branch his company was opening in Plant City. He was just 24 years old. Raulerson didn’t expect to stay in Plant City, but he ended up opening his own accounting practice, Raulerson & Co., in 1995, and, since then, he has become a well-known figure in the area. Raulerson was asked to run for city commission before but declined to focus on his family and two young children. After his children entered high school, the mayor at the time, John Dicks, talked with Raulerson again about running for city commission. Raulerson decided to jump into the political arena. In 2007, he was elected to the commission. He served two years as mayor before stepping down to focus on his campaign after people in the community asked if he would run for District 58.


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Jose Vazquez Political newcomer Jose Vazquez has different experiences and background from the typical candidate. Born in Puerto Rico, Vazquez has held a variety of jobs — from a security guard to a driver for the mayor of Aguas Buenas. He also has worked in the department of education, health and families and children. “I like to rescue people,” Vazquez said about his job as a paramedic. His uncle owned an ambulance service, and Vazquez worked as a paramedic on a volunteer rescue team. One of his most memorable rescues was arriving at the scene of a car accident and realizing a family member was involved in the accident. “You wake up at 2 a.m. to save a life, and you never think it’s going to happen to your family,” Vazquez said. “It’s hard to do what you need to do without getting emotional.” On the political side, Vazquez was a campaign manager for the New Progressive Party in Puerto Rico, which believes in statehood for the island. When his father died of cancer, Vazquez moved from Puerto Rico to Florida, where he felt like he had to start over. He formed in 2009 Vazquez Enterprise Multiple Services, a political and security consultant business. Running for political office has always appealed to Vazquez. “I decided to use all my knowledge and political experience to show the

people how to stand up for the issues,” Vazquez said. Four years ago, Vazquez ran as a writein candidate while incarcerated with a felony conviction for driving on a suspended license. Vazquez said spending two years in prison gave him a better look at the corrections system and has inspired him to reform it. “We need to put money in the system to better use,” Vazquez said. Vazquez would like to create a vocational school within prisons through which prisoners can learn a trade. He also would want to change nutrition in prisons after observing food going to waste when prisoners do not eat it. Vazquez also wants to increase state revenue by requiring Florida residents 16 and older to carry picture identification. “I want to make sure we have money to fix problems,” Vazquez said. By offering a 20-year tax break to companies willing to locate to Florida, Vazquez hopes to increase business in the area. He also wants to shift his attention to fixing the real estate market. “Everyone right now is in crisis,” Vazquez said. “No one wants to lose their house.” Vazquez has six children and finds inspiration in them to make Florida a better place to live. “In this job, we need someone with the time and knowledge to attack the problems in the field,” Vazquez said. “We need someone with the time to attack community problems 24/7.” — Amber Jurgensen

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“Being on the commission was a great prelude to moving onto the state level,” Raulerson said. “It’s been a great learning experience.” If elected, Raulerson wants to spend his first year in Tallahassee learning and using his small-business experience as a CPA and co-owner of AaSys Group Inc. to make changes to bolster the economy. “One of the most important things I can do is to make sure doing business in the state of Florida is easy and enjoyable,” Raulerson said. Raulerson wants to streamline the system and make it easier for people to understand policies and regulations. He wants to eliminate certain policies and regulations to make it easier for business owners to reach their potential. Raulerson also wants to accommodate the taxpayer. “I want to make sure the taxpayer is getting the most bang for their buck,” Raulerson said. “That their money is going to what they want and that we are keeping them safe.” For Plant City, Raulerson continues to believe in the Midtown project and wants to work to change a Swiftmud regulation that requires retention ponds to be put in place if the concrete slabs at the Midtown site are removed. In addition to politics, Raulerson loves to cook. At a recent fundraiser for the United Food Bank of Plant City, he created an appetizer dish of fried dove, sautéed in olive oil, garlic and wine. He is part of the Plant City Gourmet and Viticulture Society. — Amber Jurgensen


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Plant city observer



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

Publisher / Felix Haynes, fhaynes@ Managing Editor / Michael Eng, Assistant Managing Editor / Jess Eng, Associate Editors / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@PlantCityObserver. com; (Sports) Matt Mauney, mmauney@ Advertising Executives / Veronica Prostko,; Ronda Kyler, Advertising Coordinator / Linda Lancaster, Accounting Manager / Petra Kirkland, Advertising-Production Operations Manager / Kathy Payne, kpayne@ Advertising-Production Coordinator / Brooke Schultheis, bschultheis@ Advertising Graphic Designers / Monica DiMattei, mdimattei@yourobserver. com; Marjorie Holloway, mholloway@; Luis Trujillo, ltrujillo@; Chris Stolz, cstolz@


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observed | Halloween

Memories go down in KISStory I was a weird kid. Just look at by 7, I had given up on my Paul that picture. That’s me on the left. Stanley dream. And that was preYep, dressed up like Paul Stanley, cisely when my dad came home of KISS. from work with a makeup kit That’s Halloween 1985. I was and two wigs in a plastic sack. I’ll 7 years old, my brother, Rob, never forget it — one of the shinwas 12, and we were both proud ing memories of my childhood. members of the KISS Army. MinI told you I was a weird kid. utes later, we would depart for That night, my dad sat both my elementary school’s HallowRob and me down in the batheen carnival. More on that room with record covers later. I need to set this up. in hand. He first applied An avid KISS fan since the white then proceeded before I could walk, I to draw in the rest. Gene harbored a lifelong dream Simmons’ spiky eye to be Paul Stanley for patches for my brother; Halloween. But my dad, Paul’s signature star for a single father, never had me. the time to devote to I couldn’t really see getting us cool Hallowwhat my dad was doing to een costumes. We’d ask MICHAEL me, but I immediately felt for KISS every year, but the itch. The makeup was ENG my dad, a chemist in the sticky, annoying and hot, paint industry, almost albut I stuck it out. When ways opted for the default paintmy dad was done, he carefully set er costume. He’d bring home an the wig on top of my head. From old smock, cut it down to size, the neck up, I was awesome. hand me a paintbrush and can From the neck down, I wore an and call it a day. I think there was E.T. T-shirt, one baseball glove (I one year when he went crazy and was a Michael Jackson fan, too) made me a farmer. That included and a pair of jeans. But it didn’t a pair of overalls and a makeup matter. KISS would appear — mustache on my face. finally — at Herod Elementary That’s the year I learned all School this year. Oh yes. We’re farmers have mustaches. going to rock ‘n’ roll all night and So, although I had celebrated party every day. Halloween for only a few years, Oh yes.

By the time we arrived at the school just a few blocks away, the Houston humidity had slid my Paul Stanley makeup down my face about three inches. My star was a black splotch on my cheek, and the white was streaked with sweat. And my wig had somehow morphed into some volcanoshaped mess on the top of my head. But I didn’t care. I was Paul Stanley! At the carnival, my dad ushered his two little Chinese KISSes from booth to booth. I won a goldfish at one — which only forced Paul Stanley to carry around a goldfish in a Ziploc bag

for the rest of the night. Everyone stared, and a few even had the courage to ask what I was supposed to be. As if they didn’t know. By the end of the night, my brother and I had accumulated two buckets of candy, a bag of prizes and one goldfish. But, the candy lasted only a few weeks, the prizes found their way into the Goodwill pile, and my goldfish eventually died. But the memories of being Paul Stanley — if only for a few hours and only at an elementary school carnival — will last a lifetime. Thank you, Dad. You made KISStory that night.


Meet early settler Wilbur Fisk Burts To some, the name Wilbur Fisk Burts conjures up the story of The Tropical Hotel. But there is much more than that. Here is a man of many talents, who played interesting roles in the progress of the early town of Plant City. He enlisted with Company B, Florida Seventh Infantry Regiment in May 1862 and saw action at Chickamauga and Chattanooga in 1863. Burts was mustered out of the Confederate States Army in April 1864. He felt relieved he did not see his brother, a Union army soldier, on GIL the battlefield. GOTT Born in 1840, in Illinois, to Robert Russell Burts, a “minister of gospel” from Massachusetts, and Eliza Hemphill, of Georgia, the young Wilbur moved with his father, traveling through Alabama, then stopping in Santa Rosa, Fla., in 1850, and finally settling in the early 1850s in the area of south Hillsborough that became Manatee County in 1855. Burts married Sarah Vanderipe in 1860. Her family was probably from Kentucky and now settled in the area of Manatee later known as Bradenton. When Burts returned from the war, he went into farming in Hillsborough County and became prosperous. He and Sarah also were prolific and had seven children between 1861 and 1872. They also had two young male farm laborers, one black (13) and one white (18), who lived at the Burts homestead. As a clarification note to the reader, Burts had three wives and 15 children. They are: No. 1 Sarah Vanderipe (1860-1873), with children Clara, Charles, Edward, Ella,

Courtesy of the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center

Wilbur Fisk Burts Addie, Albert and William; No. 2 Mary Jane Carney (1876-1886), with children Wilbur, Walker, Robert, Sarah, Sarah Vanderipe, May and Mary; and No. 3 Mary Eliza Stephens (1887-1890), with one child, Estelle. Burts Sr. died Sept. 9, 1890. There is a fascinating letter dated June 17, 1931, written by G.B. Wells, who we assume is George Benjamin Wells, well-known attorney, former mayor and former state legislator. His father was George Washington Wells, and the family knew Burts and was fond of him. Why this letter appears in 1931 we do not know. “In this letter I wish to mention a home and place well known for years in local history, and to give some description and historical review of same. “This place … was in former years owned and occupied by the late Wilbur Fisk Burts, and his gracious family and was known during such occupancy far and wide for the open-handed hospitality, geniality and welcome always extended to visitors by Mr. Burts and the members of his family. This place and home was the center of social life and activity in the

community during the presence there of the daughters, Clara, Ella and Addie.” In the early 1870s Burts bought the property from Capt. John Mooney, who had served with the Fourth Florida Infantry Regiment during the war. Mooney was one of Plant City’s early citizens and was elected marshal in 1885, 1886, 1887 and 1890. The land, southeast of the new town, was fertile and productive. In his letter, Wells writes of the productivity of the Burts’ farm, saying Burts was energetic, built a large orange grove, introduced “blooded cattle” (pedigreed), grew many varieties of fruit, including oranges, peaches, plums, figs and Scuppernong grapes, plus corn, potatoes and sugar cane. Burts also is credited with much other business activity. With James T. Evers, he operated the Evers and Burts sawmill from 1883-1884). He was one of the 23 farmers listed in a regional publication that owned more than 100 acres, and in an 1885 publication, he is listed among the “prominent agriculturists, horticulturists and proprietors of fine orange groves

in the vicinity.” In an 1886-1887 business directory Burts was listed as the second largest grove owner in the region. Wells wrote, “The South Florida Rail Road was built through this section in the year 1883 and 1884, and the town of Plant City was laid out at this time. Mr. Burts took an active part in the early progress of the town, purchasing many town lots and other real estate.” With Evers, Burts built one of the town’s first stores on a street later named for Evers. That corner was later referred to as “Burts’ Corner.” (Today the corner is in the vicinity of Evers Street and J. Arden Mays Boulevard.) In 1884, the store ran an ad that read, “W.F. Burts & Co., wholesale and retail dealer in groceries, hardware, grain, hay and produce.” Sources include Quintilla Geer Bruton and David E. Bailey, “Plant City; Its Origin and History;” U.S. Census Bureau;; The Courier, (June 17, 1931); and William Magann, oral interview. Gil Gott is executive director of the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center.

Plant city observer




by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

World-renowned pianist to perform in Plant City A world-renowned concert pianist who has performed for the queen of Belgium will bring her talent to Plant City next week. Eleonora Lvov will perform 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2, at the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center. Hosted by the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, the event will help fund scholarships for aspiring students interested in the arts. “Art in any form is so important to the development of personality and character of the individual, and the talent that Eleonora has been blessed with will be an exciting and memorable experience for all who are there to hear her concert,” Dodie White, of the Arts Council, said. Born in Moscow, Russia, Lvov has achieved an international reputation as a virtuoso. She studied under her father, Boris Lvov, a pianist and teacher at the Moscow and Stuttgart Conservatories. The Hillsborough Lvov has appeared County Arts Council with many major orpresents pianist chestras, including the Eleonora Lvov Berlin, Helsinki, JerusaWHEN: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 lem, Moscow, Barcelona, Boston, Cleveland, New WHERE: Plant City Photo York and Washington orArchives and History chestras. Center, 106 S. Evers St. But perhaps her most COST: $60 per ticket interesting performancCONTACT: (813) 927es have been for inter0595 national dignitaries. In addition to the queen For more information of Belgium, she has enabout Eleonora Lvov tertained the president visit her website, of Israel and the prime minister of England. “I feel like it’s just playing for any other person because they are just people, too,” Lvov says. “Emotionally, it’s nice to see the tears in the queen’s eyes, but it’s nice to see tears in anyone’s eyes when I play.” Now a U.S. citizen, Lvov spent a few years in Cleveland as the artist-in-residence and head of the piano department at the Cleveland Music School Settlement. Continuing as a master teacher, Lvov maintains a studio in Sarasota. She is also a recording artist with seven CDs and a DVD. For Lvov’s concert at the Photo Archives and History Center she will be focusing on 19th-century Romantic compositions from Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov. “I love doing things for the community,” Lvov says about her upcoming performance. “I love to be involved in the community.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at


Concert pianist Eleonora Lvov has performed for queens and presidents. Next week, she will play for Plant City.

Al Higginbotham is Committed to Improving Plant City in Hillsborough County for Everyone!


• Create New Private Sector Jobs • Continue to Lower Taxes on Hillsborough Residents • Stop Government Waste to Save Taxpayer Dollars • Invest in Road Improvements Easing Traffic Congestion • Build Budget Reserves to Keep Our Credit Rating Strong Proudly Supported By



Hillsborough County Firefighters West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association Tampa Police Benevolent Association Hillsborough County Farm Bureau United Christians of Florida

for Hillsborough County Commission District 4


This week’s Crossword answers

Al’s Balanced Common Sense Approach to Improving Hillsborough County:

To learn more about Al Higginbotham and follow him on the campaign trail go to:

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Al Higginbotham, Republican, for Hillsborough County Commission, District 4.

Look for the Plant City Fall Preview coming in the November 15 issue. 2012

1. Well, if all is said and nothing is done, it seems we’ve covered everything and the committee meeting is finally over! 2. Even the few solvers who used pen and ink found the puzzle clue about Brazil a hard nut to crack. CROSS_ANS_102512


This week’s Cryptogram answers

Plant city observer



by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Plant City Mayor Mike Sparkman (center) attended the Lights On event, promoting keeping lights on in schools for after-school programs.

Lights On Day brightens Lincoln Elementary School The Hillsborough County Out of School Time program at Lincoln Elementary School brought a little fun into the classrooms Oct. 18, during the national Lights On Day. The event advocates keeping lights on in schools after the school day is over to promote after-school programs. The event, organized by the HOST program

Azia Jones loved the food provided by Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

staff, was sponsored by Glisson Inspection Services Inc. and Carrabba’s Italian Grill of Plant City. Plant City Mayor Mike Sparkman also presented a certificate to HOST program supervisor Debbie Zenk. The event included activities such as coloring and face painting. Carrabba’s provided pasta and bread.

Fourth-graders Akshat Plant and Srikar Parsi had a blast playing this board game.

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Plant city observer




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Plant city observer

school spirit


by Amber Jurgensen and Matt Mauney | Plant City Observer

Raider Nation celebrates Homecoming It was the moment Plant City High School students had been waiting for all week. Hundreds of students strolled through a blue tunnel swirling with bubbles Oct. 19, to celebrate the school’s Under the Sea-themed Homecoming dance. The dance was a culmination of a week’s worth of fun and school spirit. During the week, students dressed up for fun and kooky spirit days. On Oct. 18, Plant City played East Bay for the Homecoming game after a pep rally full of school spirit.

Plant City sophomore toddlers Belle Woods, Faith Girmscheid and Kayla Snyder came prepared with stuffed animals, pacifiers and sippy cups.

Teddi Blount and Victoria Bowen loved their flashy dresses.

This group of Plant City seniors went all out for generations day. Bottom: Kaniesha Ford, Kelsey Williams, Savannah Lawson; Middle: Trevor Williams, Kristen Wyckoff, Brooke Leonard, Stephanie Taylor, Kelsey Brown and Jasmine Smith; Top: Kory Brevik, Dillon Kirkland, Bogan Stitzel, Stephanie Taylor and Will Hanks.

Jessica Brown, Chelsea Talavera and Kelsey Brown were rock, paper, scissors. Dillon Kirkland was a strike in his bowling pin suit. Trevor Williams and Bogan Stizel were good enough to eat.

Evan Thompson and Samantha Colborn had a blast at the dance.

Plant City High seniors Tanah Tyoe and Brianna Grady dressed as the other kind of seniors for generations day.

Justin Gajewski shined brightly in his costume.

Nekayla Griffin and Tytiana Carter arrived fashionably late.

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To learn more about Dan Raulerson and follow him on the campaign trail go to:

Plant city observer



spotlight by Amber Jurgensen and Matt Mauney | Plant City Observer

Strawberry Crest celebrates Homecoming There was plenty of swashbuckling going on and characters roaming around Strawberry Crest High School last week for Homecoming week. It was a pirate’s life for the Chargers Oct. 17, as the students celebrated “Pirate vs. Sailor Day.” Students picked their side and came equipped with headbands, eye patches and sailor hats. The whole week of dressing up culminated with “Show Your Spirit Day” Oct. 18. Stu-

dents came dressed in one of the school colors, depending on their year in school. The Chargers cruised to a 76-7 win over Leto at the Homecoming football Oct. 18. Finally, Strawberry Crest students put on their best duds for the Homecoming dance Oct. 19, at The Regent, in Riverview. Students danced the night away in an elegant ballroom complete with a big balcony for star-gazing.

Nancy Watkins, Brandi Walden, Jackie Clerney, Shakira Morris, Marlyna Woods and Rosabelys Rodriguez couldn’t wait to get on the dance floor. Jessica Chavez and Kevin Smith came as pirates, while Jessica Hier and Ian Carter-Perez dressed as sailors for ‘Pirate vs. Sailor Day’ at Strawberry Crest.

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Homecoming King Kyle Kreit danced with his date, Allee Wilson. Right: Strawberry Crest head football coach John Kelly joined in the fun for ‘Pirate vs. Sailor Day.’

Alexi Siverio, Olivia Gilleland and Will Lockwood took a break from the party outside.


Erica Vest and Mariah Echevarrin looked flashy in their pirate outfits.









Phyllis Hardee Deagan, 61, of Plant City, died Oct. 12, at her home. Born July 21, 1951, in Opp, Ala., she was the daughter of the late Clifford Hardee and Frances Hardee. She was the wife of the late William Deagan. Phyllis was a member of Northside Baptist Church. She majored in all levels of music education, voice and piano. Her love for music led her to be a pianist, organist and member of the choir at Northside. Survivors include sons, David (Amanda), Nathan (Jayme) and Adam Deagan; sisters, Carolyn Manee, Dot Harkala and Rhonda Hardee; and two grandchildren. A funeral service was Oct. 17, at Northside Baptist Church The family has asked in lieu of flowers that donations be made in Mrs. Deagan’s memory to the Northside Baptist Church’s Drama/Puppets or Music ministries. Online condolences may be made at

...and have been for years. Like you, we work and live here, and take an active interest in how we treat our neighbors. So if your family should ever need our family, remember that we’re your neighbors.

Doris Mozelle DuBois

Doris Mozelle DuBois, 98, of Plant City, died Oct. 19. She is survived by her sons, Gerald DuBois and his wife, Edra, Donald DuBois and his wife, Regis; sisters Estelle Evans and Mildred Coker; a brother, Sanford Delk; 14 grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild, She was preceded in death by her husband Joseph D. DuBois; and two children, Joe and Mary Kathryn. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Springhead Baptist Church General Fund, 3106 S Wiggins Road, Plant City, FL 33566. Online condolences may be made at 93891

708 W. Dr. M.L.King Jr. Blvd | Plant City, FL 33563 Phone: 813 -717- 9300 | Fax: 813 -717- 9303

Plant city observer


Donald Lee Rosenbeck

Donald Lee Rosenbeck, 65, of Mulberry, died Oct. 14.

Born Sept. 24, 1947, in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of the late Ernest Rosenbeck and the late Odra Potter Rosenbeck. He was the husband of Janice Cowan Rosenbeck. Mr. Rosenbeck served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969, was of the Catholic faith and worked for Fairbanks Scales as a scale technician. Survivors include sons, John and Adam Bryan; daughters, Michelle Appleton and Tammy Bryan; brother, Ernest Rosenbeck; sisters, Mary Layton and Judy See; and 11 grandchildren. A memorial service was Oct. 20, at Haught Funeral Home Chapel. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donation may be made in Mr. Rosenbeck’s memory to Good Shepherd Hospice. Online condolences may be made at

Lamar ‘Ed’ Varn

Lamar “Ed” Varn, 90, of Plant City, died Oct. 14. Born Aug. 19, 1922, in Brandon, he was the son of the late P.H. Varn and the late Olive Wood Varn. He was the husband of Martha Joann Holbrook Varn. Mr. Varn was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in Europe. He loved his ranch, the Rocking V, and worked hard to maintain the cattle operation he inherited from his father. Mr. Varn was a member of Plant City’s First Baptist Church. Survivors include sons, Perry E. Varn and Milton L. Varn; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. A memorial was Oct. 18, at Mt. Zion Assembly of God, Plant City. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mr. Varn’s memory to either the church’s general fund or hospice.

WITNESSES NEEDED!!! Customers and former employees of Plant City Outback Steakhouse If you or someone you know has experience with a slippery floor at the Plant City Outback Steakhouse or if you are a former employee of Outback or know a former employee of Outback and have information about slippery floors at the Plant City Outback please contact:

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M i ke H a m i l t o n



ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Gustavo De La Garza key in Plant City FC Lancers’ success. 17


volleyball by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Plant City, Strawberry Crest clinch region spots Plant City will face Riverview Thursday at Brandon, while Strawberry Crest faces Sickles in district finals at King.

File photo

Durant’s Raelynn Nichols passed the ball to a teammate Tuesday in the first round of the 8A District 7 tournament. Durant beat Newsome 3-0 and played Wharton Wednesday for a spot in the district finals.

As of Tuesday, two area volleyball teams have punched their tickets to regionals. Plant City and Strawberry Crest both reached that goal Tuesday, as they won their matches in separate district tournaments. Plant City had a longer path to get there, as the No. 4 seed in the Class 7A District 8 tournament, held at Brandon High. The Lady Raiders defeated Tampa Bay Tech 3-0 (25-23, 25-10, 25-10) Monday to advance to the semifinals. Alex Arnold and Noelle


Strawberry Crest at Sickles | 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26

No panic needed for Raider Nation


Hillsborough win, while Arnold led the team with 14 kills. Danielle Rodriguez had 13 digs for the Lady Raiders. Plant City now will face Riverview at 7 p.m. tonight, at Brandon High for the district championship. “We’ll have to play pretty near perfect if we want to win,” Thornton said about the Lady Sharks, who finished the regular season a perfect 5-0 in district play.


show me the mauney

While college and professional sports are often referenced for having “coaching carousels,” high school sports have player carousels. Although rules sometimes are bent and recruiting sometimes takes place in the high school football mecca that is the state of Florida, most schools are challenged with making the best with the players they have and to mold and shape those players to be successful not MATT just the current MAUNEY season, but for years to come. Unlike college, a high school can’t always replace Division I talent with equal, if not, better talent once a player graduates. Depth charts and resources are much thinner. Every now and then, a high school team strikes it rich with a group of talented juniors and/ or seniors that climb the ranks together and put together a memorable season. This was the case last year for the Plant City Raiders. The team was filled with Division I talent, including quarterback Bennie Coney (Cincinnati), running back Daz’mond Patterson (Ohio) and wideout Lamarlin Wiggins, a JUCO commit with South Florida. Altogether, the Raiders lost 22 seniors to graduation. I don’t care

Dietrich each had 12 kills in the win, while Kelly Drake had 30 assists. Plant City then clinched a regional tournament spot Tuesday with another 3-0 win, this time over Hillsborough. “I couldn’t be happier with the way we played,” said head coach Jessica Thornton after Tuesday’s game. “Our goal this season is to advance as far as possible in the postseason, and this win makes that a reality for us.” Drake had 24 assists in the

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor Karel Hamilton has made plays just about every way possible this season for Strawberry Crest.

File photo

HIDDEN GEM Strawberry Crest’s Karel Hamilton may be the most underrated and under-recruited receiver in Tampa Bay. Karel Hamilton is one of those players who speaks with his play on field. He’s soft-spoken and reserved in a conversation, but when he lines up in pads and a helmet, he is loud and outgoing. The Strawberry Crest senior is a well-disciplined hard worker — one of those guys who will give you everything and do just

about anything to help his team succeed, no questions asked. That type of player is hard to come by, but when one comes along with the talent and potential Hamilton has — it’s special. Just ask Chargers head coach John Kelly. “He’s a great kid with a great attitude and never complains — no matter what happens,” Kelly said. “Any way he can con-

tribute, he does, and he’s done that all season.” Through seven games this season, Hamilton has 41 catches for 741 yards and nine touchdowns. He has more than 100 yards receiving in four games this season and has caught at least one touchdown pass


Plant city observer

MAUNEY/PAGE 15 what kind of talent pool from which you pull, that one is hard to overcome. So far, the adjustment of not having that group has led to a 3-4 record and a 1-2 record in Class 7A District 8. With that departed group, Plant City was 7-0 at this stage a year ago, but it should be noted that they finished the year on a three-game skid and missed the state playoffs. Arch rival Durant — a team the Raiders beat 43-12 last season — ended up winning the district


title, while Brandon took runnerup honors, and both schools fell in the first round. Plant City will face a Brandon team this year that also has struggled. The Eagles picked up their first win of the 2012 season last week against Riverview. With Plant City all but mathematically out of the playoff discussion, this game will be more about pride and building for the future — a future that looks bright for the Raiders. Describing this year’s Plant City team as young is an understatement. This Raiders group has

VOLLEYBALL/PAGE 15 Plant City fell to Riverview Aug. 18, at home but managed to get a game from them, losing 3-1. “We’ve gotten much better as a team since then,” Thornton said. Strawberry Crest took a different route to the Class 6A District 11 finals. The Lady Chargers finished the regular season undefeated in the district and took the No. 1 seed into the tournament, held at King High in Tampa. The Lady Chargers only needed one win to clinch a regionals spot, and they got that Tuesday with a 3-0 win (27-25, 25-10, 25-15) over Arm-

12 underclassmen (freshmen or sophomores) on the roster, and a healthy group of juniors and seniors that saw limited to no varsity action last year. Many of those newcomers have been leaders for the Raiders. Until suffering a knee injury, freshman running back Ervin Micheal was a force in the backfield. He still leads the team with 427 yards, despite missing the last three games. Freshman Tavares Chase leads all Raiders receivers, with 388 yards on just 15 catches. Chase has emerged as a weapon for the

wood. Freshman Terra Brooks had 19 kills in the match, while Briana Sanchez had 33 assists. Strawberry Crest now will face off against No. 2 seed Sickles for the district championship at 7 p.m. Thursday, at King High. Sickles gave SCHS its best district match of the regular season Oct. 3, as the Lady Chargers dropped the first two games before winning the next two and the tiebreaker for the 3-2 win. Durant High School picked up a win Tuesday as well in its first match of the Class 8A District 7 tournament, which the Lady Cougars hosted. Durant, the No. 4 seed in the tour-

Plant City offense and looks to be a solid deep threat moving into the future. Junior wideout Landon Galloway, one of the few returning standouts on the offensive side of the ball, has 308 yards on 27 catches and no receiving touchdowns. But, he has three more games and his entire senior season ahead of him. Defensively, Plant City’s two leading tacklers are juniors. Dylan Johnson, who was on the junior varsity team last season, now has 50 tackles, three sacks, an interception and four fumble

in each of the Chargers seven games, including last week’s 76-7 romp against visiting Leto, where the Chargers only threw the ball 11 times and had backups play the entire second half. In addition to being a standout receiver, Hamilton is a threat as a punt and kick returner. After returning two kicks back against Leto last season, the Falcons made the same mistake last week, kicking in Hamilton’s direction. Hamilton scored the first points of the game on a 55-yard punt return in the first quarter. After Leto scored its only points of the game, Hamilton returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score. “We called a return to the left, so when I saw they kicked it to the right side, I just came to the left where my blockers would be and just followed them and made one cutback, then I was gone,” he said about the return. It’s no secret that Hamilton is Kelly’s go-to guy on offense and special teams, but the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior is also a threat on the defensive side of the ball — he’s played safety in certain packages this season. So far, he has one interception and two forced fumbles. “My coaches look out for me and make sure that I’m ready to go on defense,” he said. “If I’m too tired, I’ll just tell them, but usually, I play in third-and-long situations — just to make sure we have someone who can watch the deep pass and go up and get the ball.” With a player with Hamilton’s versatility and play-making ability, it’s hard to believe he is still awaiting his first college scholarship offer, but according to Kelly, that may change soon. “He’s very close; I had three schools contact me this week about him,” Kelly said. According to Kelly, Western Kentucky is close to pulling the trigger. If that happens, Hamilton will have his first Division I FBS offer — WKU plays in the Sun Belt. “They are very high on him and will most likely be offering him soon,” Kelly said. “I really think that he’ll have quite a few by the end of the season.” Hamilton had a strong junior season, but with a 1-9 team record and few stats and highlights to promote him, the exposure was at a minimum. Since Kelly has taken over the team, Hamilton said that aspect has gotten much better. “Last season, it was hard because our stats on MaxPreps weren’t up to date, and coach Kelly has just done a good job of just trying to sell me,” he said. “I want to play in college, so hopefully that works out, but if not, my focus will be education and then maybe trying to walk-on somewhere.” Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver. com.

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recoveries on varsity. Matt Chaney currently leads the team with 55 tackles. He only had 16 as a sophomore on varsity. There is plenty of talent on Plant City’s roster. Youth and injuries will often reflect in season standings, but looking deeper than that, the Raiders look to be in good position in a year or two to have not only another large group of juniors and seniors but also another experienced group. Losing 22 seniors is rough. The Raiders are seeing those effects, but all signs point to good things in seasons to come.


nament, defeated Newsome 3-0 Tuesday. “This was the third time we played Newsome this season, so we knew that they were going to come in here wanting to beat us, but we just came out really focused and made good adjustments as the game went on,” Durant head coach Brittany Wilson said after Tuesday’s win. The Lady Cougars faced Wharton Wednesday night for a chance at the finals. That match occurred after press time. Follow @PlantCitySports on Twitter for updates on all area volleyball matches. Contact Matt Mauney at


Durant at East Bay

Last week: The Durant defense gave up more points against Newsome than it had in its previous six games combined, but Durant held on for a 38-28 win after the Cougars came away with four turnovers. Jamarlon Hamilton had more than 150 yards and two touchdowns in the win, and Durant improved to 7-0. East Bay improved to 3-4 with a 24-12 road win against Plant City. The Indians had a balanced attack, with Chris Carpentier completing 7-of-13 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns, while four East Bay players combined for 183 rushing yards. Last meeting: Durant defeated East Bay 45-28 last season.

Now oNLY



Plant City at Brandon



Last week: The Raiders fell below .500 last week with a 24-12 loss to East Bay for Plant City’s homecoming. Quarterback Nick Rodriguez threw for 329 yards in the loss, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Plant City was still missing standout freshman running back Ervin Micheal, but Colby Diers and Jordan Robinson combined for 100 yards on the ground. Freshman Tavares Chase had four catches for 85 yards. Brandon picked up its first win of the season last week, beating Riverview 16-8. Offensively, the Eagles got it done on the ground, with 268 rushing yards. Senior Cyrus Dooley had 75 yards, while fellow senior Isiah Harris had 74. Last meeting: Brandon held off Plant City at home last year, 48-36.

Plant city observer


athlete of the week


by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Gustavo De La Garza Gustavo De La Garza, 13, is the goalkeeper for the Plant City FC Lancers Under 14 Boys Premier team. De La Garza’s team is coached by Richie Garcia, whose team is 0-1 on the year but coming off a successful season in the Division II of the league last year. De La Garza was a key player in that success, only allowing six goals all season while recording eight shutouts. The seventh-grader loves the game and plans to play for Plant City when he reaches the high school ranks.

Who got you into playing soccer? My brother and parents played it, too. What do you like about the sport? Being goalkeeper How long have you played that position? Four years What’s the most challenging thing about being a goalkeeper? When to know what to do and making the right choices. How did you become a goalkeeper? My brother. He was a goalkeeper and he trained me. How old is he? He’s 22. Did he play for the Lancers? Yes, and he played in high school for Plant City. What are some goals for you this season? To win our division. We won Division II last year, and now, we’re in Division I. You’ve had one game so far. What’s the biggest difference

between last year and playing Division I? Instead of just running around the teams actually pass the ball and run set plays. What have you been working on as a goalkeeper? Just working on reflexes and moving around. Do you have a favorite professional soccer player? Cristiano Ronaldo Do you have any hobbies outside of soccer? Not really, other than video games What’s your favorite video game? “Fifa 2013.” Really, the whole Fifa series. Who do you normally play against in Fifa? My brother Who normally wins? Me What’s one of your favorite movies that came out recently? Probably the new “Paranormal Activity”


How long have you been playing soccer? Since I was 3.

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For the first time in three years, the Plant City High girls golf team won’t be headed to the state tournament. The Lady Raiders fell just short of reaching that goal, finishing third behind Palm Harbor by only three strokes at the Class 2A Region 4 tournament Oct. 22, at Countryside Country Club in Clearwater. The top two teams at regionals advance to state. Steinbrenner took top honors, with a score of 324. The Lady Warriors also took first ahead of Plant Cit last week at the Class 2A District 10 tournament. “It was a heart-breaker,” Plant City head coach Meg Jordan said. Plant City was led Monday by freshman Kaylee McIntosh, who shot an 86. Junior Kellyanne Hurst was close behind with an 87, while freshman Kendall Johnson (97) and sophomore Lindsey Box (100) rounded out the scoring for the Lady Raiders. “For a young team, they accomplished a lot,” Jordan said.

All three area individuals that qualified for regionals missed the state tournament cut. Durant’s Chase Levesque barely missed, shooting a 78. Mitchell High’s Dylan Strout and Palm Harbor’s Brent Hajian both shot a 77, advancing to state as individuals. Plant City’s William George carded an 81 on the day. On the girls side, Durant sophomore Krista Reinhardt also missed the cut, as individuals from Freedom and Osceola took the state spots, shooting a 75 and a 78, respectively.

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The Strawberry Crest boys cross country team finished 15th out of 28 teams at the Hillsborough County Cross Country Championships Oct. 19, at Lake Park. That was the highest finish by any area boys or girls team. Strawberry Crest finished with 416 points for 15th, ahead of Durant (445) and East Bay (478). Plant City finished 25th as a team with 708 points. Durant’s Daniel Butler was the top area individual finisher, placing 44th out of 197 runners with a time of 18:14.60. On the girls side, Plant City finished the highest among area teams, placing 16th with an average time of 24:18.40. Strawberry Crest placed 18th with 501 points, while Durant finished 23rd with 653. Plant City’s Diana Corzine was the top area individual, placing 43rd with a time of 22:14.40.

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The 16th Plant City Optimist Club/Plant City Recreation and Parks Department Golf Tournament will be held Nov. 3, on the Lakes Course at Walden Lake Golf and Country Club. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the four-person scramble format shotgun start will be at 1 p.m.  The $60 per player entry fee includes 18 holes of golf, cart, range balls, two on-thecourse beverage tickets, meal and awards. Prizes will be awarded for various contests, including putting, two long drive holes and two closest to the pin contests. Door prizes will also be distributed to those with wining raffle tickets purchased at the event.  Registration forms are available from any Plant City Optimist Club member or at the front desk at the Recreation & Parks Department administrative office, 1904 South Park Road, and online at the PCRPD website, 



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Plant city observer


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





EATInG On THE GO by Milton J. Ruff


117 Outpouring 63 Places for bees 64 One kneeling at 1 Pigs’ quarters work 6 Trip taker’s 65 Hedge component dOwn hallucinogen 66 Some cottons 1 Spot to park 9 Big desert of Asia 68 Mideastern bigwigs 2 Register figure 13 Slender nails 3 A fire station 69 Word before 18 ___-cochere burning down, e.g. “Ferry” or “Bazaar” (covered carriage 4 Volcano in Sicily 72 Gain access entrance) 5 Agricultural 73 Sprites of Persian 19 Recital numbers machines mythology 20 Yemen coastal city 6 Lovesick, e.g. 75 Swerve wildly 21 Geneva’s lake 7 Oscar Madison, 76 Took something in famously 22 Show penitence 77 Part of a 8 Impaired 23 Connect two 9 In plentiful continental adjacent things amounts breakfast? 25 Not with another 10 Frigg’s husband, in 80 Ancient Andes 26 Breakfast buffet Norse myth dweller choice 11 Stiller of “There’s 81 Be in the red 28 High school subject Something About 83 Salesman’s wares 30 Isle of ___ (part of Mary” 84 Apiece 12 Signs, as a contract Cambridgeshire, 85 Mathematical 13 Street magician England) subgroup David 31 Wind up 14 Free from 86 Hobble severely 32 Prickly seed case confinement 88 Sales incentive 33 Donkey’s Asian 15 In a group of 91 Idol worshiper relative 16 Ballroom activity 92 The ringed planet 34 Largest U.S. 17 Elvis 95 It might be the collection agcy. impersonator’s word 35 Problem caused by expression 96 Bouncers read 19 Atlantic food fish moisture them 24 Mideast missile 38 Iowa State locale 27 Shoo-___ (likely 97 Wrestling site 39 Leveling wedges victors) 100 Athleticism 42 “Soft” or “silver” 29 Sentence divider 102 Apt serving in suffix 34 Einstein’s opposite Berlin 43 Stay out of its way! 35 Create 106 Roman wraps 45 Shade provider 36 Fury 107 Epinephrine 48 Parking meter’s 37 Ahab and crew trademark location 38 Commodious crafts 109 Subject of a 39 Read electronically 49 Post-Iditarod management class 40 Polynesian dance dessert? 41 Meal with mutton 110 Ragged mountain 52 Letters that might 42 Light bulb units ridge precede a dollar 44 Inquire 111 Have on sign 46 Veggies of Andean 112 Good quality for a 54 Drive away, as one’s origin politician friends 47 Not worth debating 113 Represents in 56 Defrauds 49 Causes of distress drawing 50 Stamp out 57 Inbox filler 114 Nasal passages 51 Gas measure in 59 Just starting to Europe 115 Beaks develop 53 Find an application 116 67.5 deg. on the 60 Bonked, Biblically for compass 62 Wiggle, in a way 55 “Not a chance!”

57 Gold and frankincense partner 58 Volcanic blowup 60 Less lenient 61 Ape 62 Beast in works of fantasy 65 ___ kebab (skewered meat dish) 66 Poet’s meadow 67 “And lead us not ___ temptation” 70 Sushi ingredient 71 Blind strip 73 Proper partner? 74 Poet’s early night 75 Place for a smile 77 Lighter igniter 78 What Ruth was to Gehrig 79 Muesli morsel 82 Do a knockoff of 85 Informal clothing 87 Comes up in conversation 89 Mideast bigwigs (var.) 90 Heat injury 91 Org. that approves medications 92 Beelzebub 93 Shopping hub of old Athens 94 Woods with an iron 96 “Amazing, ___ it?” 97 Molten material 98 007, for one 99 Brusque 101 Display of disinterest 102 Be rude at the dinner table 103 Alda or Ladd 104 Heading on Santa’s list 105 Make little cuts 108 Ruby or Sandra


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Plant city observer




Plant City Observer 10.25.12  

Plant City Observer 10.25.12

Plant City Observer 10.25.12  

Plant City Observer 10.25.12