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PLANT CITY

You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.

IN FOCUS

PAGE 9

new blood

sports

SPECIAL SECTION

Pioneer Heritage Day brings simpler times to Plant City.

OUR TOWN

FREE • thursday, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

HOLIDAY SEASON GUIDE

Durant competes perfect season, preps for playoffs. PAGE 11

INSIDE

by Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Keel appointed to commission Billy Keel, former chairman of the Plant City Planning Board, replaces Dan Raulerson.

+ Music and meat: a perfect marriage The Hungry Gator Meat Market celebrated its grand opening with live music, gator bites and frog legs Nov. 10, at the market, 206 S. Evers St. The market offers custom prime beef cuts, chicken, pork, as well as processing for all wild game.

Even though it was just his first commission meeting, Billy Keel’s name plate already was in place on the Plant City Commission dais. Keel, a five-year member of the Plant City Planning Board and a former chairman, became the newest member of the Plant City Commission at its Nov. 13 meeting. Following the approval of a city charter change Nov. 6, the commis-

sion was allowed to appoint an interim commissioner for the remainder of newly elected Florida state Rep. Dan Raulerson’s term. City Clerk Kerri Miller led the swearing-in ceremony for Keel, who took the oath of office with his wife, Donna, and younger son, Bryson, 13, at his side. “I am humbled and honored to be appointed to this position, and I look forward to serving

and working with each and every one of the commissioners and the city staff,” Keel said. “To the best of my ability, I will do this job as long as I have it.” A native of Plant City, Keel will complete Raulerson’s term, which ends June 3, 2013, on an interim basis. An election for the next commissioner will take place April 2, 2013, and it is ex-

SEE KEEL / PAGE 8

Movers &Shakers

in-depth

by Michael Eng | Managing Editor

What happened to Kelly Moriarty?

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

+ Plant City home to famous feline

Just two weeks ago, detectives returned to the Plant City home where Kelly Moriarty and Doris “Pat” Carter were last seen.

Move over Morris: There’s a new example of feline purrfection in town! Plant City resident Richie Long’s cat companion, Prince, recently was chosen to be featured in 9Lives’ 2013 Morris & Friends calendar. OK, all together now: Awwwwwww!

It’s a small urn, no bigger than a perfume bottle. And inside are the ashes of Kelly Moriarty’s leg, which washed ashore in December 2011, in south St. Petersburg. The urn sits on a dresser in the Bradenton home of Bud and Grace Moriarty. It’s all they have left of their only daughter. It’s 60 miles away from Plant City — where the Moriartys

+ Blake Shelton to headline festival The 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival is shaping up to be one of the best in Plant City history. Blake Shelton, a judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” and American Idol Scotty McCreery will be among the acts performing at next year’s festival. Shelton, will close the festival with a performance at 7:30 p.m. March 10. Scotty McCreery will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 8. Other performers include Trace Adkins, Casting Crowns, Chubby Checker, Foreigner, rantley Gilbert, Martina McBride, Neal McCoy, Justin Moore and Bobby Vinton. Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. Dec. 3, at the ticket office, 2209 W. Oak St.; by phone at (813) 754-1996; or online at flstrawberryfestival.com.

Michael Eng

Billy Keel took the oath of office with at the Nov. 13 meeting.

SEE MORIARTY / PAGE 8

Contestants Karen Fuentes and Eric Randall wowed the judges with their routine — earning a perfect score in the process. Top: Gail Lyons and Larry Roth were elegant on the dance floor. The movers and shakers of Plant City took to the dance floor for the fifth annual Dancing with the Locals competition Nov. 9, at the John R. Trinkle Center on the Hillsborough Community College campus. Flashy costumes and groovy moves performed by nine dif-

ferent couples captivated the audience. Dance styles from swing to salsa heated up the floor. Karen Fuentes and Eric Randall were the only couple to earn a perfect score at this year’s competition. Clay and Caitlin Rollyson won the popular vote.

Couples prepared for the event by taking 10 weeks of classes. The event was hosted by the Plant City Noon Rotary Club. About $30,000 is raised from the event for the club. For our photo gallery featuring all contestants, visit PlantCityObserver.com.

INDEX Briefs....................7

REWARD

Kelly Moriarty’s family members believe she was murdered in or near Plant City. Her parents, Bud and Grace Moriarty, are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who delivers information that leads to the arrest and conviction of their daughter’s killer.

Vol. 1, No. 20 | Two sections

Crossword.......... 15

Obituaries.......... 10

Sports................ 11

PlantCityObserver.com


Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

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Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

coming soon by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Anchors announced for Lake Walden Square PetSmart, Michaels and Ross Dress for Less soon will fill the display windows at the former Kmart site. PetSmart, Michaels and Ross Dress for Less all will open new locations in July 2012, at the Lake Walden Square shopping center on West Alexander Street. The retailers are considered major tenants by DDR, the shopping center’s management company, along with Sweetbay and Premiere Cinemas. PetSmart, a pet supplies and accessories store, will be built next to Sally’s Beauty Supply. The unit it will occupy is 12,492 square feet. Michaels, an arts and crafts store, will open on the south side of the old Kmart building, taking up 13,500 square feet, while Ross Dress for Less will take up 22,045 square feet on the north end of the old Kmart building. Ross is a discount retailer that carries name brand clothing, accessories, décor and beauty products. “I am thrilled that we are finally getting a few major stores in our area,” Rebecca Secor-Dellar said. “I usually have to drive to Lakeland or Brandon to buy craft products, and (with) Michaels coming to town, now, I will have

those products within arm’s reach.” “Getting a Ross is a great alternative for clothing, considering we only have Bealls at this time,” Brittany Bowers Sands said. “I’m excited that with these new stores coming to town. It will be a great boost in jobs for the residents of Plant City.” The general contractor is Fort Lauderdale-based Acies Construction; however, most of the subcontractors will be hired from Plant City and Tampa. Those include Cook Construction Co. and Marlon Dunn Contracting. “There’s going to be a lot of work,” Simon Rodriguez, of Acies Construction, said. “We will be turning an existing building into a whole other building.” The stores will need to have new facades, and the old Kmart building also will be divided to make room for Ross and Michaels. Another storefront will be created out of the Kmart unit, as well. Acies Construction has built a Ross Dress for Less and Michaels

SALUTE

in a Homestead shopping plaza. The company also has built other national chain stores, including Petco, Sports Authority, and Bed Bath and Beyond. Lake Walden Square occupies two tracts of property on both sides of West Alexander Street at the intersection of James L. Redman Parkway and West Alexander Street. Existing tenants include Sweetbay, Subway, GameStop, Jackson Hewitt, Arby’s and Checkers, among others. There are still 17 units available for lease in Lake Walden Square, which opened in 1992. The total square footage of the shopping center is 257,097. With 64,875 square feet of space available for new businesses, Plant City residents would love to see them filled. “More stores should definitely come to Plant City,” Melissa Schultz said. “There are so many people in our little town, and, come on, we would all love to avoid Brandon on any given day.” DDR owns and manages about 450 open-air shopping centers in

ON TARGET As the buzz about the new stores increased, one store seemed to be a popular choice as the Plant City Observer asked, “What other shops would you like to see come to Lake Walden Square?” Melissa Schultz “I would love to see a Target. So many people would love to see one. I drive to Brandon or Lakeland just to avoid Walmart and shop at Target.” Brittany Bowers Sands “I really wish there was a Target coming.” Rebecca Secor-Dellar “A lot of folks are hoping a Super Target would come to town. I agree, however, my pocketbook would have a different say. I would be so broke.” 39 states, Puerto Rico and Brazil. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

By Michael Eng | Managing Editor

Plant City-based Florida National Guard unit Chaplain Ken Kerstetter delivered the invocation.

Plant City honors veterans

Mayor Mike Sparkman greeted guests at this year’s Veterans Day ceremony.

Some of Plant City’s brightest young minds honored military veterans at the 27th annual Hopewell Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens Salute to Our Veterans ceremony Nov. 10, at Veterans Memorial Monument Park, 703 N. Wheeler St. The Springhead Elementary School choir performed a variety of patriotic songs. Students from local schools — including Bailey, Jackson, Pinecrest, Springhead and Walden Lake elementaries; Marshall, Tomlin and Turkey Creek middle schools; and Plant City High School — also read speeches they wrote in honor of veterans. The essays will be on display through November at the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center.

Springhead Elementary’s De’Jazinae Jones

3

community by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Hammocks path usage to include golf carts Walden Lake Community Association leaders said the approval will make the neighborhood safer for community golfers. Hammocks residents Rod and Ima Storts made one more appearance at the Walden Lake Community Association’s meeting Nov. 12, to lobby the association to allow golf carts to use a pedestrian path in the Hammocks. Four other residents came with them in support. “You’re not looking at just correcting a problem with just us who are here today,” Rod Storts said. “You’re looking at correcting a problem for those living there for years to come.” The WLCA voted to allow the path to be used by golf carts. The path was deeded to the WLCA in the 1990s. Since then, many golf carts have used the path, despite its status as a pedestrian-only path. Rod Storts presented a letter explaining he recalled 26 families that have used the path and paid for the paving of the new path in 1999, before it was deeded to the association. Three more families who have moved in recently also want to use the path, he said. Supporters also cite safety issues to keep cart traffic on the path, because there is a bend in the road where golf carts would have to cross Timberlane Drive. “The safety of these members, as well as the Hammock golfing members, should be the No. 1 responsibility and concern of the board,” Rod wrote in his letter to the association. “Anything that deals with safety needs to be addressed,” association member Ray Page said during the discussion of the proposed change. It will cost about $600 to $700 in legal fees to change the deed restriction that prohibits the use of motorized vehicles on the path and legal fees to obtain permission from two property owners whose houses border the path. It will cost about $800 to remove the grate at the foot of the path, install concrete pads and add new irrigation. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

IN OTHER NEWS • The fourth annual Howl-oWeen Party at the Walden Lake dog park Oct. 27 was declared a success. About 150 children participated, and more than 200 people attended. • The next meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 17, instead of the usual time of 6 p.m., because of the holidays. • Judging of the Walden Lake decorations contest will take place Dec. 16. Walden Lake neighborhoods can decorate their entries with Christmas decorations and lights. The WLCA has three categories: large, medium and small.


4 PlantCityObserver.com they built it

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Fried and Friendly Born from a group of Plant City locals, Maryland Fried Chicken is a longstanding tradition in the community. Editor’s note: They Built It is an occasional series featuring Plant City’s small-business owners. Maryland Fried Chicken hasn’t even opened for business for the day. In fact, it isn’t even lunchtime. It is 10:30 a.m., but already customers were pouring in the door, ready to get a bite of Maryland’s famous chicken. “It’s the best fried chicken,” patron Julie Brown said, snacking on some gizzards and wings. “When the owners go on vacation and close the restaurant, it hurts me.” It’s impossible to miss Maryland’s sign and signature style. Its orange and yellow hues on the restaurant’s exterior and interior take customers back into the past and draws patrons from throughout the Tampa Bay area. Despite the fame, Maryland’s owners and employees have remained dedicated to its humble roots by serving their customers peanut oil-fried morsels with a smile. Maryland began as a franchise restaurant in Orlando in the late 1950s. In 1968, Robert Decker came to Plant City and contracted Al Cole to build the current building. Decker started the restaurant, and a year later, a group of locals, including

Photos by Amber Jurgensen

Mark Naset, Kim McElveen, Hope Mohler and Teresa Benitez

Maryland Fried Chicken ADDRESS: 315 N. Alexander St. PHONE: (813) 752-9200 HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays Beverly and Bill Naset, Ercelle Smith, his father, Al Berry, and Sara Copeland bought the restaurant. In the early 1970s, Bill Naset bought his partners out,

and since, then it has remained in the Naset family. Maryland hasn’t been a chain since the 1970s, making it a unique piece of the past that has thrived. Now, Mark Naset and Kim McElveen, children of Bill and Beverly, run the eatery. They have worked there since their teenage years. Siblings Tavia Cowell and Craig Naset also worked at Maryland. “In the back of my mind, I figured I would be here running the business,” Naset said. “We could see the business was becoming popular. We were sell-

ing more and more, and I felt it was a good thing to get involved in.” Maryland receives fresh shipments of whole chicken three days a week. The employees, who include high school students and longstanding workers, cut and bread the chicken, pressure-fry it and make a variety of homemade side items such as cole slaw. The menu also boasts seafood. “It’s a great atmosphere here,” said Hope Mohler, who has worked for Maryland for 15 years. “The people we work for are great. It’s like family.” It’s this familylike atmosphere that has attracted repeat customers for generations, including Tiffany Collins. She is a fourthgeneration Maryland customer, according to her mother, Teresa Collins. Teresa’s mother, Carolyn Hoile, used to take Teresa to Maryland as a child on Wednesdays, Carolyn’s day off from work. And Teresa’s grandparents took her to Maryland as well. “The ladies here are awesome,” Teresa said. “We like everything about the chicken.” “We are very appreciative of our customers,” Naset said. “Genuinely we are.” Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver. com.

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Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

5

education by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Schools find success at MOSI’s Science Olympics Seven Plant City elementary schools will compete Nov. 28, in the Tampa museum’s Science Olympics Finals. Science has never been so fun. Elementary students from more than 140 schools built skyscrapers with paper cups, constructed boats out of foil and launched paper airplanes during the Science Olympics Nov. 10, at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Tampa. Of the 15 Plant City schools competing, seven won first place in their heat and will be going on to the Science Olympic Finals Nov. 28. Since September, students have been practicing for the Science Olympics at their schools. Each grade level is assigned a different project. The students compete against their own classmates, and the top students from each class compete against other winning students in their grade level. The top pair of students from each grade level went on to compete at MOSI. “We try and get our kids engaged and really think out of the box,” said Sandy Van Oosten, a teacher at Wa l d e n Lake Elementary who teaches gifted science. To prepare for the Science Olympics, Van Oosten’s classes completed research and testing tasks in class. Students had to have a blueprint when they competed last weekend. But sometimes, it doesn’t always go according to plan. Balloon racers can be finicky and often cause unforeseen results with her third-graders. “Science isn’t always predictable,” Van Oosten said. “This teaches them to try again and work together. But they really love the teamwork aspect of it. “The Science Olympics have a more fun approach versus science fair,” Van Oosten says. “The STEM science fair can be overwhelming.” Students have competed in the semifinals for two weekends, Nov. 3 and Nov.

PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS FROM PLANT CITY Advantage Academy Bailey Elementary Bryan Elementary Burney Elementary Cork Elementary Dover Elementary Jackson Elementary Knights Elementary Lincoln Elementary Nelson Elementary Robinson Elementary Springhead Elementary Trapnell Elementary Walden Lake Elementary Wilson Elementary

THE RESULTS

Several Plant City teams nabbed first place in their heat and will go on to the Science Olympic Finals Nov. 28, at MOSI. • Kindergarten Skyscrapers: Springhead • First-Grade Aqua Foils: Knights • Second-Grade Paper Airplanes: Bailey; Third-Grade Balloon Racers: Burney, Dover, Lincoln; Fifth-Grade Marble Coasters: Trapnell

PROJECTS BY GRADE LEVEL

Kindergarten: Skyscrapers First: Aqua foils Second:Paper airplanes Third: Balloon racers Fourth: Marshmallow flyers Fifth: Marble coasters

10. The finals will be from 9 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Nov. 28, at MOSI, in Tampa. Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

SWEET SUCCESS

Michael Eng

Whispering Woods residents Corbin Simonds, Hailey Tidwell, Kaylee Thurston, Mackenzie Steele and Logan Laietta served up homemade lemonade Nov. 12, as a fundraiser for Haiti.

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6 PlantCityObserver.com community

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Annual Empty Bowls luncheon fills hearts Dozens of residents filled their bowls with homemade soups and their hearts with goodwill at the second Empty Bowls event Nov. 10, in Historic Downtown Plant City. Attendees picked out a small

bowl made by area school students and received a hearty soup meal. Proceeds from lunch benefitted the United Food Bank of Plant City. There was also an auction that featured bowls painted by area

artists John Briggs, Jossie Arozin, Debra Bryant and others. Local pop group NRG and the Plant City Community Choir provided entertainment, while people browsed through the hundreds of bowls and enjoyed a va-

riety of soups prepared by local churches. Across the street at McCall Park, artists gathered to display their works, which included everything from gourd bowls to wildlife photography.

Eloy Cruz enjoyed a bowl of hearty chicken noodle soup.

Erika Wiggins demonstrated her pottery skills. Right: Bryson Keel, Ellie Shouse, Ashtyn Steele, Emily Menia, Marlee Arn performed as part of the band NRG.

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Plant city observer

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

fundraiser by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Pam Tebow, mother of Heisman Trophy winner and current New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, was the special guest speaker.

Pam Tebow adds star power to Pregnancy Care Center Pam Tebow was the guest speaker at the Plant City Pregnancy Care Center’s annual banquet Nov. 14, at the John R. Trinkle Center on the Plant City campus of Hillsborough Community College. Tebow, mother of Heisman Trophy winner and current New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, shared stories of overcoming setbacks in her life, in-

cluding when she was advised by doctors to have an abortion for health reasons while carrying Tim. The theme of this year’s banquet was “Embracing the Destiny,” as the center strives to promote pro-life choices and help women and men become ready and loving mothers and fathers. The center recently re-

Dub McGinnes, Cecil Everidge and Gary Bell came to show their support.

opened with a full renovation on North Collins Street. According to Executive Director Darlene Davis, the center has served 1,468 clients since last year’s banquet. The center offers a unique “Earn As You Learn” program in which clients earn credits to purchase needed baby items by taking various parenting classes.

Miriam Cossio and Hope and Joy Lewis, daughters of Plant City First Baptist pastor Michael Lewis

NEWSBRIEFS

+ Man dies in Walmart parking lot Plant City Police Department officers found the body of a man in a black pickup truck at about 1 p.m. Nov. 13, in the parking lot at the Walmart on James L. Redman Parkway. The man was pronounced dead and taken away by an ambulance. The cause of death has yet to be determined, but investigators suspect the victim suffered a heart attack. No foul play is suspected at this time.

Newly re-elected County Commissioner Al Higginbotham presented Pregnancy Care Center Executive Director Darlene Davis with a county proclamation.

HCC’s environmental science technology program prepares students for jobs with

+ Felons discovered in Plant City home The Plant City Police Department discovered last week two men, who are suspects in several crimes, hiding out in a Plant City home. According to police reports, detectives found Myron Miguel Knight and Michael Donnel Richardson at about 5 p.m. Nov. 6, at 206 Pevetty Drive. Both men have extensive criminal histories. Knight had outstanding arrest warrants issued by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for attempted felony murder; attempted armed robbery with a firearm; and carjacking with a firearm. Richardson had active arrest warrants for armed trafficking in cocaine; felon in possession of a firearm; public discharge of a firearm; aggravated battery of with a firearm; and failure to appear for numerous crimes, including grand theft, marijuana possession, reckless driving and more.

7

organizations such as the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission. Examining the relationship between natural and human systems through hands-on training and

science “ Environmental technology students receive cutting-edge training to compete in the global economy.

Dr. Pam Vergara, HCC professor of environmental science

field work, students transfer new skills into careers in natural resource management. With small class sizes, affordable tuition, and guaranteed transferability to state universities, it’s easy to see why more than 47,000 students choose HCC. Hillsborough Community College is an equal access/equal opportunity employer. hccfl.edu/equity

+ K-9 team tracks home-invasion suspects

93940

A K-9 dog/deputy team from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office tracked down two suspects who shot three victims and beat a fourth during a violent robbery last week. According to Sheriff’s Office reports, at about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 8, Charles Vernon Smith Jr., of Dover, and Joshua Seth Coleman, of Brandon, kicked in the back door of the residence located at 4202 Cooper Road, in Plant City. Once inside, Smith and Coleman shot three people inside and beat a fourth with a gun. Deputies responding to the call observed a maroon Mercury SUV pulling out of the driveway at a high rate of speed north onto Cooper Road. Deputies followed the SUV to a pasture, where the SUV crashed through a fence and got stuck near a swamp area. K-9 deputies arrived on the scene and tracked both suspects. K-9 Deuce tracked Smith more than one-half mile and found him hiding underwater. Deuce apprehended Smith, who had a semi-automatic pistol in his pants pocket. Deuce then tracked the second suspect in the other direction. Deuce and Master Dep. Charles Perdomo apprehended the Joshua Coleman, who also was hiding underwater. Coleman was also in possession of a semi-automatic gun. All four victims were transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for treatment for non-life-threatening injuries. Smith and Coleman were charged with armed robbery home invasion; four counts of aggravated battery with a firearm; three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm; felony possession of a firearm; grand theft of a motor vehicle; grand theft; and resisting arrest without violence.

Visit hccfl.edu/registernow. HCC_PlantCity_OBS_6.8x10BW_Vergara.indd 1

11/1/12 2:45 PM


8 PlantCityObserver.com

Observer

PLANT CITY

“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@ PlantCityObserver.com Managing Editor / Michael Eng, meng@PlantCityObserver.com Assistant Managing Editor / Jess Eng, jeng@PlantCityObserver.com Associate Editors / (Community) Amber Jurgensen, ajurgensen@PlantCityObserver. com; (Sports) Matt Mauney, mmauney@ PlantCityObserver.com

MORIARTY/PAGE 1 believe their daughter was murdered nearly a year ago. This week, the Moriartys scraped together all they could and are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who delivers information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Kelly’s killer. They specifically are interested in anyone in Plant City who may have seen something. Kelly was last seen alive in the Plant City home of her partner, Doris “Pat” Carter, Dec. 16, 2011. “We don’t think Kelly ever left Plant City alive,” Bud says. “It’s been rough on us, but we just have to hope someone out there knows something.”

NIGHTMARE

We want to hear from you. Let us know about your community events, celebrations and family member achievements. To contact us, send your information via: Email: Michael Eng, meng@plantcityobserver.com

It wasn’t uncommon for the Moriartys not to hear from their daughter for a month or more. Although they all resided in Bradenton, Kelly remained private about much of her life. “I’d call her and say, ‘Call me when you can,’ but that may not be for a month, month-and-ahalf,” Grace says. “You have to realize — she was 38. She wasn’t a little girl.” That’s why, the Moriartys say, that when they didn’t hear from their daughter last Christmas, it didn’t alarm them. “She spent Thanksgiving with Pat, and then I talked to her in December,” Grace remembers. “We figured she just got busy or decided to spend Christmas with Pat.” It wasn’t until Kelly’s apartment complex manager called her brother, Brenden, Jan. 27, that the family discovered something was wrong. The manager told Brenden his sister had not paid rent for the month. He then conducted a welfare check and discovered the Christmas tree still standing with unopened gifts underneath. That’s when the nightmare began. Brenden reported his sister missing to the Bradenton Police Department. Two days later, Carter’s live-in daughter, Stacy Muralt, reported her mother missing after Bradenton police visit her. Likewise, Muralt told police it wasn’t uncommon that her mother and Kelly would disappear for long periods of time, so she did not consider it strange that her mother was not home for the holidays. “Whoever did this had a month’s jump on us and the police,” Bud says. On March 23, the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office identified a severed leg that washed ashore as Kelly’s. And then, for seven months, the investigation seemed to stall. The rest of Kelly’s remains are missing, and there has been no evidence recovered of Carter at all. “I’ve been looking for Kelly every single day she’s been missing,”

Mail: The Plant City Observer, 110 E. Reynolds St., Suite 100A, Plant City, FL 33563

KEEL/PAGE 1

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pected that Keel will run for the seat. At 43, Keel is the youngest member of the commission. In addition to his work on the Planning Board, Keel also serves as the president of the Plant City Rotary Club and is a member of the Pension Board. As commissioner, Keel said he hopes to promote economic growth. “I’m a pro-business person, especially with the economic times we’ve had recently,” he said. “So, I definitely want to promote growth in the area and work to bring good jobs.” And although the commissioner he replaces climbed the next rung in politics, for now, Keel said

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

TIMELINE • Dec. 16, 2011: According to Stacy Muralt, daughter of Doris Carter, she sees her mother and Kelly Moriarty at Carter’s Plant City home for the last time. Muralt says when she awoke Dec. 17, both women were gone and so was Moriarty’s car. Both women had been romantically involved for the past two years. • Dec. 20, 2011: Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spotted Moriarty’s car abandoned on the side of S.R. 62 in Parrish and places a red tag in the window for the owner to move the car. • Dec. 27, 2011: A severed leg washes ashore behind at 6990 Fourth St. S., in St. Petersburg. • Dec. 29, 2011: Manatee County Sheriff’s Office impounds Moriarty’s vehicle. • Jan. 27: The apartment manager at Kelly Moriarty’s community contacts Kelly Moriarty’s brother, Brenden, and explains she has not paid her rent. Brenden Moriarty drives to the apartment complex and conducts a welfare check. Inside the apartment, nothing appears to be disturbed and a Christmas tree is still up with unopened Christmas packages underneath. Kelly Moriarty is reported missing to the Bradenton Police Department. • Jan. 28: Bradenton Police Department responds to the home of Doris Carter in Plant City and talks with Muralt. She indicates she hasn’t seen her mother since she left with Moriarty on Dec. 16 to 17, 2011. Muralt indicates it was not uncommon for both of them to be away for extended periods of time. • Jan. 29: Muralt contacts Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and reports her mother missing. Hillsborough detectives start investigating Carter’s disappearance and learn that Bradenton police have an active investigation of Kelly Moriarty. Hillsborough detectives execute a search warrant on Moriarty’s car. No evidence of a crime is found. • March 23: Pinellas Medical Examiner’s Office notifies that Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office that based on DNA evidence, the severed leg found in December belonged to Kelly Moriarty. • Oct. 25: Hillsborough detectives return to Carter’s Plant City home to search for more evidence. They leave with several bags, including Carter’s personal belongings, articles of clothing and more.

Bud says. “I’ve written 16 letters to anyone I could think of — the governor, senators, the FBI, FDLE, the Plant City Police Department. “To me, Kelly, to this day, is not gone,” he says. The family has not had a memorial service. “My son asked me why we haven’t had a funeral or anything, and I said, ‘No way,’” Grace says. “She’s still out there, and she’s still with me.”

INVESTIGATION

Several pieces of this case still are unknown. There has been no evidence of Carter, and police still have no crime scene where Kelly was dismembered. However, several pieces of evidence have the Moriartys convinced their daughter was murdered in Plant City. “Both Kelly and Pat had cell phones, and the last ping from both came off a tower about one mile north of Plant City,” Bud says. “Then, they both disappeared.” Furthermore, Kelly’s car was recovered off S.R. 62, in Parrish — 30 miles from Plant City. “Kelly never would have left her car on the side of the road,” Bud says. “She had law-enforcement training, and if her car had trouble, she would have locked herself and Doris in and called 911, AAA or someone in the family.” Furthermore, once Kelly’s car was found with no mechanical issues and in drivable condition. The Moriartys believe their

IN OTHER NEWS • The commission approved a recommendation to name the Grant-Hunter Pond in honor of Dr. Hal Brewer and his family. The commission will vote for the permanent name at a later date. • The commission confirmed the appointment of Bill McDaniel to the newly created assistant city manager of public safety position. • City Manager Greg Horwedel said the main stormwater system installation at Ellis-Methvin Park

he is dedicated to serving locally. “I’ve always served in some capacity,” Keel said. “I was born and raised here, and I love raising my

Courtesy photo

Doris “Pat” Carter and Kelly Moriarty

daughter’s murderer or murderers drove the car to another county and abandoned it — perhaps to complicate the case and slow police investigation. Aspects of the crime span three counties. A flurry of police activity Oct. 25 has renewed the Moriartys hope that their daughter’s killer will be found. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives executed a search warrant on Carter’s Plant City home and left with several bags of evidence, including Carter’s personal belongings, articles of clothing and more. Sheriff’s Office Det. Larry McKinnon says he is optimistic regarding the case’s progress. “We are still moving forward; this case is not cold by any means,” he says. “I am confident we’ll get it solved. Our main goal, obviously, is justice for the victim but also closure for the family.” Records filed with the Hillsborough County Circuit Court also reveal tension between Carter,

is on schedule to be completed by the end of next week. • The Mendonsa Road main water line has been installed. Horwedel signed an order that will allow the city to close the road to through-traffic beginning Nov. 19, to complete the rest of the work. The order allows the road to be closed through Dec. 31, but Horwedel said he hopes to have the road open before then. • The city will replace two dying palm trees at the south entrance of City Hall with two 10-foot Bismark

family here. I want to concentrate on local politics at this time.” In addition to Donna and Bryson, Keel has an older son,

Muralt and Muralt’s husband, Anthony. After the Muralts lost their home to foreclosure, Carter took them into hers. However, a handwritten note Carter filed in October 2011 suggests she wanted to evict them. “I, Doris Carter, request my daughter, Stacy Muralt, husband Anthony Muralt [and granddaughter] to vacate my premises immediately do [sic] to an extended length of time undesirable to myself that these individuals have been occupying my residence,” she wrote. McKinnon says the Muralts, who have been staying in the home since Carter disappeared, have been cooperative.

STRUGGLE

Kelly was by far the best athlete in the family. Growing up in New York, she played competitive softball with the Dutchess Debs. “We traveled all over the country,” Bud says. “We only missed one game in six years.” After the family moved to Florida, Kelly finished her softball career at St. Petersburg Catholic High School. According to her parents, Kelly had multiple scholarship offers to play in college, but she turned them all down. “We traveled to Florida Southern, which had one of the best Division II programs in the country,” Bud says. “They really rolled out the red carpet for her, and we had a great time at a beautiful school. “Then, when we were on our way home, she just said, ‘I’m not going.’ And that was that,” he says. Kelly told her sexual orientation to her parents by about age 20. Brenden says that revelation may have caused her to feel uncomfortable and distance herself. “We grew up in a fairly conservative household with traditional family values,” he says. “And maybe she did struggle with that part of her, with who she was.” Says Grace: “We didn’t even know Pat’s last name, and I met her only once. When we’d ask, Kelly’s response would be, ‘Why do you need to know?’” Still, the Moriartys say they remained supportive. Bud and Grace helped pay for Kelly’s massage therapy classes at Florida College of Natural Medicine. Kelly passed her national board exams and harbored dreams of returning to New York to practice. The Moriartys also say their daughter was considering ending her relationship with Carter. However, until detectives arrest a suspect, the Moriartys remain in a constant state of unrest. Brenden, who has three children of his own, says he cannot comprehend what his parents are enduring. “As hard as it’s been on me losing a sister, I can’t imagine what my parents are going through,” he says. “It haunts them every day.” Contact Michael Eng at meng@ plantcityobserver.com.

palms. The maximum cost will be $2,200. • The commission scheduled the first of two public hearings regarding a ban on Internet gambling cafes. The first hearing will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26, in the Sadye Gibbs Martin Auditorium of the Nettie Berry Draughon Municipal Building, 302 W. E. Reynolds St. • Mayor Mike Sparkman presented a proclamation declaring November 2012 as “National Hospice and Palliative Care Month” in Plant City.

Justin, 18, who is a freshman at the University of Florida. Contact Michael Eng at meng@ plantcityobserver.com.


Plant city observer

9

PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

back in time

by Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

Members of the Strawberry Queen’s court enjoyed the festivities.

As always, the children dressed in period costumes were the highlight of the event. Right: Sara Jo Reynolds is a Plant City United Daughter Confederate, 1931.

Residents relive simpler times at Pioneer Day

Betty Denton demonstrated the weaving process.

Stepping on the grounds of the 1914 Plant City High School building was like stepping back in time Nov. 10, during the annual Pioneer Heritage Day. The festival featured a variety of performers dressed in historic costumes. The Strawberry Express Cloggers performed tap routines on the outside stage, while the Pioneer Days pageant was held inside the 1914 building on the auditorium stage. A variety of vendors sold arts, crafts and food, and a bounce house kept children entertained.

Gwenna Bledso and Jordan Pugh were getting ready for the pageant.

Train rooms were set up in the 1914 Plant City High School building.

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Plant city observer

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

OBSERVEROBITUARIES Laura R. Heffelfinger

Laura R. Heffelfinger, 90, died Nov. 10, at the Care Center of ht FuneralJoin Home during the month of during December we remember thoseas weHealth Haught Funeral Home the as month of December remember those Plant City. t. Stop by during regular business hours and place a personalized Angel She was born 29, we have lost. Stop by during regular business hours and place a personalized June Angel 1922, in Allentown, Pa., gel Tree. There is no cost for the angel.  This is our way of rememberon our Angel Tree. There is no cost for the angel.  This is our way of rememberto Lewis  and Elsie (Peter) Loch. She was marved ones during the holiday season. This service is available to everyone ing our loved ones during the holiday season. This service is available to everyone ried to Charles H. Heffelfinger, deceased. mmunity. Also plan on joining us Tuesday December 18 at 7:00pm for Heffelfingerfor was a recording clerk in our community. Also plan on joining us Tuesday December 18Mrs. at 7:00pm for Rodale Press for more than 26 years. ervice of Remembrance. Our address is 708 W. Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Blvd. our Service of Remembrance. Our address is 708 W. Dr. M.L.K. Blvd. by one daughter, Sandra She Jr. is survived Sheridan (Phil); two sons, Charles HefPlease Join us as we remember. felfinger (Ruby), and Dennis Heffelfinger Please Join us as we remember. (Linda); six grandchildren; three greatgrandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren. 

HAUGHT FUNERAL HOME (813) 717-9300

Join Haught Funeral Home during the month of December as we remember those we have lost. Stop by during regular business hours and place a personalized Angel on our Angel Tree. There is no cost for the angel. This is our way of remembering our loved ones during the holiday season. This service is available to everyone in our community. Also plan on joining us Tuesday December 18 at 7:00pm for our Service of Remembrance. Our address is 708 W. Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Blvd. Please Join us as we remember.

Mae E. Shurling

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Mae E. Shurling, 85, died Nov. 7, at Grace Manor, in Lakeland. She was born in Detroit, Mich., on Sept. 23, 1927, to James and Clara Arye (Guffey) Elder.  She was a teacher and taught for several years in the Polk County school system and 14 years at Polk School Opportunity Center.    She is survived by one son, James N. Shurling, of Plant City; and two daughters, Rebecca J. Fager, of Naples, and Mary S. Banniza, of Winter Haven; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A service was Nov. 12, at Wells Memorial & Event Center.  Burial will be at Springhead Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Anchor House Ministries, P.O. Box 625, Auburndale, FL 33823, or Florida Baptist Children’s Home, P.O. Box 8190, Lakeland, FL 33802.  Condolences may be offered at wellsmemorial.com.

Anna E. Taylor

Anna E. Taylor, 83, of Plant City, died Nov. 4. She was preceded in death by husband, Albert Lee Taylor; and brother, William Foehrkolb. She is survived by a loving family. Expressions of condolence may be made at hopewellfuneral.com.

Mary Fariday Willis

Mary Fariday Willis, 93, died Nov. 7. She was born June 23, 1919, to Robert and Jessie Foster in Pattonsburg, Mo. She began dancing at 8 years old and worked as a professional choreographer, dancer, teacher, singer and actor. She served as choreographer for many musicals, including “The Sound of Music,” “The Music Man,” “South Pacific,” “Gypsy” and many more. She performed numerous roles on and off Broadway. She taught dance for more than 70 years during her lifetime to more than 14,000 students. She was preceded in death by her mother, Jessie Foster; father, Robert Foster; and her two husbands, Frank Fariday and Dick Willis. She is survived by her only son, Lynn Chase; grandsons Terry Chase and Chris Chase; and a great-grandson, Ian Chase. A memorial service will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 17, at Trinity Christian Center, 4416 E. C.R. 540A, Lakeland, FL 33813. The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Good Shepherd Hospice, 115 S. Missouri Ave., No. 500, Lakeland, FL 33815 Online condolences may be made at haughtfuneralhome.com.

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Sports

YOUTH | HIGH SCHOOL | GOLF | SENIORS | COMMUNITY | TENNIS

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Swimmer Angelina Gallastegui impressive at state meet. 14

PLANTCITYObserver.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

basketball by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Area boys excited for new hoops season Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest have some notable games this season. The boys basketball season features teams on the rise and teams in the rebuilding stages, and all three area teams have some notable games on the schedule. Strawberry Crest will participate in the Bright House Shootout, at Clearwater High, and the Adidas Holiday Slam, in Miami. Plant City will host Robinson and Durant in the Raider Tip Off Classic today and Friday, respectively. The Raiders also will participate in the George Jenkins X-Mas

tournament Dec. 27-28. Durant will open the season Nov. 14, against King, in the Plant City Tip Off Classic.

DURANT

Coach: Trent Tice Years as head coach at Durant: Entering fourth year 2011-12 overall record: 3-20 2011-12 district record: 0-10 District finish/playoffs: Lost to Alonso in the first round of the Class 8A District 7 tournament.

Three key returning players and a newcomer highlight the upcoming season for Durant. Two of those key players are senior wings Kyle White and Trent Robertson. White was Second Team All-Western Conference in 2011-12, while Robertson is a three-point shooting threat who has honed his skills on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit. Josh King, a 5-10 junior guard, also returns and is primed to have a breakout season, accord-

ing to Tice, who is entering his fourth year as head coach. Tice said Dontriel Perry, a standout on Durant’s football team, also will play basketball. Perry is 6-5 junior and will play in the post for the Cougars. According to Tice, the Cougars have an athletic team that will play fast-paced offense and defense and hopes to improve on a tough season last year. Durant

SEE BASKETBALL / PAGE 13

GAME OF THE WEEK

show me the mauney

Tampa Bay Tech at Durant, 7A Region 2 Quarterfinals | 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Durant edged out Wharton 1312 Aug. 28, and beat Newsome 38-28 Oct. 18. Both teams also will begin their own playoff runs Friday. That Wharton win can be put into new perspective now with the playoffs approaching. Durant got the win on the road despite only one offensive score — the other came on a interception return.

SEE GAME / PAGE 12

SEE MAUNEY / PAGE 12

Matt Mauney

NEWFOUND FOCUS

After capping off its first undefeated regular season in school history, Durant turns its focus to its first round playoff game against Tampa Bay Tech. ing practice on a no-school day. The Cougars showed a new focus. Going 10-0 was a great achievement for Gottman and his team. It was something no other team at the school had accomplished, but he was quick to reiterate Monday that the new season starts Friday against Tampa Bay Tech in the regional quarterfinals. “There’s a lot of eagerness with them; they were all real ea-

ger to go at 8:30 this morning,” Gottman said. Durant moved to the historic 10-0 mark with last week’s 31-0 shutout win over King. It was the fourth shutout of the season for the Cougars defense. Durant will now turn its focus to going 11-0, when they host TBT at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Class 7A District 7 runnerup Titans will be just the third above-.500 team the undefeated Cougars will face this season.

Crest charges toward future As a sports editor for a newspaper dedicated to local high school sports coverage, any time a football team in the coverage area is undefeated, other schools often are overlooked. In one sense, rightly so, because what the Durant football program has accomplished this year is nothing short of amazing, and its players and coaches deserve as much MATT attention and MAUNEY recognition as possible. I feel we have done that to this point and certainly plan to cover the Cougars more completely than any other news source for their entire run through the playoffs. But I want to turn focus for a moment to a program on the rise that deserves attention, as well. I’m talking about the Strawberry Crest football team. Sure, at first glance, a team that went 4-6 may not seem like a story worth telling, but there’s something special happening for the Chargers. The Chargers won just one game on the field last year and finished with a 2-8 record after Armwood — a team that beat SCHS 80-0 — forfeited all its games. Strawberry Crest was outscored 446-80 last season. This year they actually outscored opponents 280-238. Talk about a dramatic turnaround. If you take a look at the rosters

Zach Hooper (5) has been getting more carries, while other Durant running backs heal from injuries. He scored twice against King in the Cougars’ final game of the regular season.

As the water bucket rained down on Durant coach Mike Gottman last Friday, the coaches and players were elated to have capped off the regular season undefeated, a first for the Cougars. But as the players and coaches stepped out of the dark field house after a film session Monday, there was a different atmosphere than the one experienced after the King win — and it wasn’t because it was a morn-

Matt Mauney

Dylon Parm is the sole returning starter for Plant City.


12 PlantCityObserver.com

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

It’s great going 10-0, but we’ve got to put that behind us, because we’re in the playoffs now and it’s win or go home. — Mike Gottman, Durant head coach

GAME/PAGE 11 That was the only game this season that was a one-possession game late into the fourth. “That was the first game where we were really tested and had to figure out who we were and come out and get it done and make the plays that we had to make,” said quarterback Trey VanDeGrift. “I feel like from here on out, that’s how all the games are going to be.” TBT has a fairly balanced offensive attack that is averaging more than 27 points per game, including 192 in its last five games. The Titans like to use their speed and athleticism to spread teams out. They have a stable of running backs, led by senior Richard Benjamin (732 yards). Benjamin is also a threat as a receiver, with 643 yards on the year, including 178 against in the 28-13 win over Plant City last week. Deon Thompson (499 rushing yards, eight touchdowns) and

MAUNEY/PAGE 11 of last year’s team compared to this year’s Chargers, you won’t see a huge difference. The quarterback position was the only major change, but that worked out for more than one team — just ask last year’s starter Trey VanDeGrift, now starting for undefeated Durant. Strawberry Crest’s four wins

Jamaruz Thompkins (304 rushing yards, 166 receiving) round out the big playmakers for the Titans, although Thompson did not play last week against Plant City. The Titans are led by sophomore quarterback Deon Cain, who passed for 279 yards and a touchdown against Plant City, along with two rushing scores. “I expect them to use their speed, and we just have to make tackles and swarm to the ball,” Durant senior linebacker/defensive lineman Zach Hoffman said. The Cougars will be tough to contain as well, averaging 36 points per game. Most of that has come on the ground (204 yards per game), but Durant has aired it out more in the last few weeks with quarterback Trey VanDeGrift. The junior is averaging 140 yards per game in the last five games, after only passing for a total of 206 yards in the first five. “It was a little bit different this this year came against Plant City, Steinbrenner, Leto and in the season finale last week against East Bay. Now, I’ve been around sports a long time, and if there’s one thing I realize, it’s that what-if scenarios don’t carry that much weight in the grand scheme of things. But I think it’s worthy to note some of the close games the Chargers had this year — some-

year, going from a spread offense and throwing it around a lot to having to run the ball a little bit myself,” VanDeGrift said of his transition from Strawberry Crest, where he started the past two seasons. “The O-line has done a good job of protecting me, so that’s made it a pretty easy transition.” VanDeGrift’s improved effectiveness in the offense adds a new dimension to the Cougars’ alreadystrong running game, led by senior fullback Jamarlon Hamilton. As with many teams this time a year, Durant has been battling its share of injuries this season, including tight end Paxton Sims (inflamed knee) and offensive guard Dalton Wilkerson (sprained knee). Defensive tackle Tyler Moody will be out Friday after suffering a concussion, and back-up tight end Joe Williams recently had an MRI but is set to play Friday. Crispian Atkins, a standout sophomore running back, left the Riverview game two weeks ago with a rolled ankle. Hamilton, who sat out against Riverview, has gotten the majority of the carries in Atkins’ absence, along with Zach Hooper. Contact Matt Mauney at mmauney@plantcityobserver.com. thing that didn’t happen often last season. The Chargers lost three games this year by just one possession — Bloomingdale, Hillsborough and Jefferson. SCHS was also very much in the game against state powerhouse Armwood, being down by just one score more than halfway through the fourth quarter. The biggest difference this sea-

FOCAL POINTS • How Durant’s defense handles the athletic and balanced Titans offense. The Cougars are only allowing 8.4 points per game this season, but TBT is as big and athletic as anyone Durant has seen this year. • How much the Cougars will air it out. A primarily run-based team, Durant has passed the ball more often and more effectively the last several weeks, making the Cougars even more dangerous. • Which team will win the turnover battle. Durant has been one of the best teams around when it comes to the limiting turnovers. The Cougars have an amazing plus-23 turnover differential this season, while TBT has turned the ball over seven more times but still has a plus-12 differential.

PLAYER TO WATCH

DIFFERENCE-MAKER

No. 10 Jamarlon Hamilton The senior has carried the load for the Cougars this season, with nearly 150 carries this season in just nine games played. The fullback rushed for 91 yards last week against King, after resting off an injury the week prior against Riverview.

No. 25 Daniel Bowers Some may not think of a kicker being a difference maker, but Bowers has the leg to be just that for Durant. He has nearly 50 touchbacks on kickoffs this season, a key part in field position, and made a 40-yard field goal for the first score of the game against King.

son has been the new coaching staff headed by John Kelly. Not too much changed on the roster or even with the style of play the Chargers showed, but a big difference was seen in the mentality of the team. Throughout this season, a culture change occurred at Strawberry Crest. The Chargers have come a long way, since they showed they did not know how

to carry themselves in the second half of the season-opener against Plant City. SCHS won that game — a result that sent shockwaves throughout the high school football landscape in Hillsborough County. The Chargers have made massive strides in the last 11 weeks, and that looks to carry over to bright days to come for this young and growing program.

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PlantCityObserver.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

13

soccer by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Crest, Durant matches showcase talent The Strawberry Crest High School soccer teams made the short trip to Durant Nov. 8, for non-district matches. The Chargers boys team

took home a 2-1 victory from Durant to open night. Up 1-0 late in the game, Strawberry Crest’s Noah Shaffer gave the Chargers some cushion,

scoring a goal from about 30 yards out with just over five minutes to play. Durant got its only score of the game in added time. In the girls’

game, both teams traded goals early on and defense set the tone the rest of the way, as Strawberry Crest and Durant left with a 1-1 tie.

Both teams fought hard throughout the match.

Strawberry Crest’s Stephanie Guerra is a fierce competitor.

Durant’s Ashley Rosa went up field after defending an opposing corner kick.

Right: Chandler Powell (23) and Adrian Chavez (17) went hard for this ball.

won a district title and made the regional finals two years ago before facing a rebuilding phase last season. “Hopefully, this will pay off as Durant will now again be an experienced team,” Tice said.

Plant City

Coach: Dale Chambers Years as head coach at PCHS: Entering sixth season 2011-12 overall record: 11-9 2011-12 district record: 6-5 District finish/playoffs: Tied for third and defeated Brandon in the opening round of the Class 7A District 8 tournament before falling to East Bay. Plant City’s coaching staff are optimistic for the upcoming season, despite only returning one starter. Senior Dylon Parm is the lone returning starter for the Raiders. The guard averaged nine points per game as a junior. There will be 10 newcomers this year, along with four returning letter-winners. According to Chambers, the team will have plenty of talent moving from junior varsity. “The key will be to develop chemistry and improve in November and December and gel together come January and February,” Chambers said. The Raiders are coming off a 11-9 season that saw them finish third in Class 7A District 8 before falling to eventual champion East Bay in the second round of the district tournament. Chambers noted satisfaction this season can be achieved in one of two ways: lowered expectations or an increased level of play by the youthful roster. “The coaching staff is quite optimistic, because of the competitive nature of practices and the willingness of the players to learn and improve each day,” he said.

Strawberry Crest

Coach: Andre Lewis Years as head coach at SCHS: Entering fourth year 2011-12 overall record: 17-11 2011-12 district record: 8-2 District finish/playoffs: Lost to Sickles in the Class 6A District 11 finals and lost to Palmetto in first round of regionals. Strawberry Crest is quickly establishing itself as one of the up-and-coming programs in the area. The Chargers had their first winning season last year in the short history of the program, going 17-11 and qualifying for the regional tournament after finishing as runnerup in the Class 6A District 11 tournament. Lewis has been with the team since the school opened in 2009 and said his goal is to continue to get better as a team. “We would like to get to 20 wins and win a district title,” he said. The Chargers only lost one key player in forward Brandon Channer, who led the team with 17.7 points per game. His younger brother, 5-11 junior guard Malik Channer returns, along with senior guards Devin Diggs and Karel Hamilton. Malik Channer led the team in assists, while Diggs led in blocked shots. Hamilton averaged just under nine points per game last season. For Lewis, the key to success this season will be based on the play of his defense.

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14 PlantCityObserver.com

Plant city observer

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012

athlete of the week

by Matt Mauney | Associate Editor

Angelina Gallastegui Strawberry Crest junior Angelina Gallastegui placed in top 20 in two events at the Class 2A state meet last week in Orlando. Gallastegui made the state meet for the 500 free and 200 free for the second consecutive year and improved her times in both events this time, including a 10th-place finish in the 500 free (5:05.10). She also placed 20th in the 200 free.

How long have you been swimming? Since I was 7, so 10 years.

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What would be some goals for you next year as a senior? I would like to finish top eight at state in both the 500 and 200, because I really want a medal. It’s what’s driving me. Do you want to swim in college? It’s pretty much been a dream of mine since I started. With high school swimming, I really like being with everyone and the team aspect, and I hear that in college, that is just amplified because it is year-round.

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What’s your training schedule like? (In) club swimming, we do yearround for two hours after school every day but Sunday. Now that the high school season is over, it will be that until next year.

Have you traveled any place exciting? I’ve been to Spain, because my dad’s side of the family lives there. Do you still train when you’re there? I do swim up there, because I don’t want to stop just because I’m on vacation, but it’s kind of weird, because they swim differently. How do they swim differently? European style is the complete opposite direction. It’s funny to see the way they train and their different techniques, but I definitely learn and watch them and try to apply it to my swimming.

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