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Linebaugh Avenue Median Crossover to Close at Cavendish Drive and Colonial Garden Lane

Beginning Monday, April 23, 2018, the Westchase median crossover on Linebaugh Avenue located at Cavendish Drive (West Park Village) and Colonial Garden Lane (The Vineyards) will be closed. Crews will be working to layout, assemble and install a pipeline segment under the Linebaugh Avenue median. This closure is expected to remain in effect through June 2018. This work was originally scheduled to begin in June, but must be done now, in advance of construction in the Linebaugh Avenue/Sheldon Road intersection.

Motorists traveling west on Linebaugh Avenue will need to make a U-turn at the median cut at Westchase Elementary/Fifth-Third Bank to access Cavendish Drive and the West Park Village neighborhood. Motorists traveling east on Linebaugh Avenue will need to make a U-turn at Sheldon Road to access Colonial Garden Lane and The Vineyards community. All through lanes are expected to remain open during the peak morning and evening commutes. During non-peak hours from 9 am to 4 pm, the inside through lanes (median side) between Cavendish Drive and Montague Street will be closed and merged with the outer through lanes which may increase travel times. Motorists are advised to exercise caution when traveling through the area.

Pipeline installation is part of the first phase of a Hillsborough County Public Utilities project to retire and remove the aging River Oaks Wastewater Treatment Plant located at the corner of Sheldon Road and Waters Avenue. Additional information about the project is available at HCFLGov.net/WWC. Questions about the project may be directed to Citizen Engagement at (813) 272-5275. Para información, llame al (813) 272-5275. For Hearing/Voice impaired please call 711.

By Hillsborough County Staff

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Wizards Count Down to End of School Year

The countdown to summer is on, and that means this is the last month in elementary school for our fifth graders. They are rockin’ their way to middle school, and there are many fun activities planned for them this month.

The field trip to Busch Gardens is on May 9, and they will help to Feed Tampa Bay the following week with their service project. Then they will enjoy a PTA sponsored breakfast during the yearbook signing on May 22. The year wraps up with their banquet on May 24 and awards on May 25. Next year these Wizards will head off to 22 different schools, and we want to wish them all well on their adventures in middle school!

Thank you to the following restaurants who are donating food for the fifth grade banquet: Maggiano’s, Carrabba’s, Papa John’s, Olive Garden, Holy Hog BBQ, Nutrition Smart, PDQ, McDivot’s, Enzo’s, Dairy Queen and Marco’s. Thank you as well to the following businesses who donated money toward the banquet: Brighton Learning, Beyond Billing, Dawson Dance, Kids R Kids, Publix, Cub Scout Pack 46, HealthMap Solutions and Painting With a Twist – Westchase. Your generosity helps to make this event so special and memorable for our kids!

On Thursday, May 3, McDonald’s will host another Spirit Night for us from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Twenty percent of the proceeds will be donated back to our school.

We want to wish good luck to both of our Robotics teams. Mrs. Barrett’s team (Audrey P, Alexis H, Zack K, Gillian F, Colin S, Lizandro A, Yamaira O, and Josefina F) will compete in the WeDo Spontaneous challenge and Digital Portfolio challenge on May 10. Mrs. Brown’s team (Jago S, Lorelei P, Ethan W, Isabella A, Webster H, Austin B, Alex K & Noah O) will also compete in those challenges as well as the NXT challenge. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be given for each challenge, and the school that wins overall will receive trophies. Good luck, Wizards!

Back in February, our students participated in the American Heart Association’s nationwide fundraiser, Jump Rope For Heart. During PE classes, our first through fifth graders learned the importance of heart-healthy habits and learned that using jumping skills as physical activity can be a lot of fun and that raising funds to support cardiovascular research and education helps save lives in our community. Our school raised $15,754! Way to go, Wizards!

Thank you to our fifth grade patrols who worked hard all year to keep our kids safe on the bus and in car line. They get to enjoy a field trip on May 11 with other area patrols to celebrate their service and dedication to their school. Thank you as well to our Morning Show team, who keep us updated and informed. They will celebrate with a field trip to Channel 8’s news station on May 3. And last, thank you to all who purchased cookbooks and supported our Relay for Life team from Westchase.

For more information, please check out http://www.westchasepta.org and like us on Facebook.

Have a safe, fun and relaxing summer Wizards!

Westchase May Events

3    Spirit Night at McDonald’s, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
9    Fifth Grade Field Trip to Busch Gardens
22  Fifth Grade Yearbook Signing
24  Fifth Grade Banquet
25  Last Day of School, Fifth Grade Awards, Dismissal at 11:45 a.m.

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WCA Board Grants Pool Vending Machines a Reprieve

Directors decided to give the pool vending machines one more chance at the April Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors meeting.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz presented directors with a proposal from Rolys Vending to take over operations and basic maintenance of the vending machines at the swim and tennis centers on Countryway Boulevard and in West Park Village. The vendor agreed to stock the machines, provide basic maintenance and give the WCA 10 percent of the proceeds from the machines. Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover said that the machines were there to provide a service to the community and if an outside vendor could make it work, they were worth salvaging. He pointed out that currently the machines were usually broken because WCA staff was trying to maintain the machines themselves. “If it’s profitable, it will be a service to the community. If it’s not, we’ll get rid of them.” Directors voted to authorize Sainz and Baumhover to execute the contract with the vendor.

Summer Camp Director Garrett Lemos’ request to add an optional field trip to Busch Gardens for summer camp attendees was unanimously approved.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that association programs had grossed $25,000 for the month due in part to families signing up for summer camp and private swim lessons.

All directors voted in favor of suspending the use rights of the WCA facilities for homeowners who were more than 90 days delinquent in paying their 2018 annual assessments until the assessment and fees were paid in full. The suspension pertains to owners, owner’s renters, guests and invitees.

All directors voted in favor of moving Phil Renaldi from an alternate member of the Modifications Committee to a full-time member.

All voted in favor of appointing Harbor Links Voting Member Nancy Sells, West Park Village Voting Member Mary Griffin, Harbor Links Resident Carolyn Rogers and Vineyards Voting Member Lynn Adamson to the ad-hoc paint palette committee.

Directors considered a request to extend the exception of the 50 percent WCA Member Rule on USTA Teams for the 2.5 and 4.0 level teams. Currently 36 percent of the members of the 2.5 team are Westchase residents and 24 percent of the 4.0 team are residents. Non-residents have to pay an additional $25 fee to use the courts during tournaments. Facilities Manager Kelly Shires recommended that the board extend the exception for the 2.5 team because the team is still new and was working to recruit new members. He said the 4.0 members had said that they were not going to pay the $25 fee and had begun using other courts outside of Westchase for their tournaments. Ultimately directors decided to extend the exception for the 2.5 team for another year and to take no action on the 4.0 team’s request.

Directors heard from a Woodbay/Bennington Resident who had some questions about how many plants she needed to plant as well as spacing of the plants. The resident had been working with Sainz but her first attempt to correct the violation had not been completely successful. Directors encouraged her to continue to work with Sainz and said that if the violation was corrected by May 8, the fine would be rescinded.

Sainz presented the board with bids to redo the WCA website but since the bids were not comparable, directors agreed that they’d like to go back to the drawing board and request more specific bids. Director Ashley Wait asked why the website needed to be redone if it was now working. Board President Ruben Collazo said the current website was old and outdated and not user friendly.

Ross told the board that he thought a bad precedent was set when the board president sent out a message telling residents that parking restrictions would not be enforced over Easter weekend. “At some point there is going to be some knucklehead as president and do we really want to set the precedent? I also felt it was unnecessary. The property manager knows her job.”

Ross added that he thought the board president did not have the right to lift restrictions and that he had exceeded his authority.

All WCA Board Meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for May 10, 7 p.m. at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted April 16, 2018

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Eat, Exercise, Sleep

When it comes to fitness, everyone thinks about exercise, but it is only part of the equation.

In recent years, more people are also beginning to accept that nutrition is extremely important for fitness and overall health. You cannot, after all, out-exercise a bad diet. Yet another factor must also be incorporated for optimal health – the need for rest and recovery. Adequate sleep is vital for muscle tissue repair, weight loss and weight management.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of Americans do not get the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can arise from a sleep disorder like insomnia. It can also result from not experiencing good quality sleep, or simply not setting aside enough time to sleep. Regardless of cause, inadequate sleep has been linked to diseases and conditions like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression.

Experts recommend that adults over 18 get seven or more hours of sleep per night. Children should get more. The younger the age group, the greater amount of sleep the youth should get.

When you don’t have sufficient sleep, you can be irritable, experience decreased cognitive skills and an inability to focus, and have a greater tendency to gain weight. Inadequate sleep contributes to auto accidents, increased errors on the job, and work-related injuries.

If you do have a sleeping disorder, seek medical assistance to come up with a plan that is right for you.

Some things you can do to promote sleep are:

Exercising three or four times weekly can be beneficial for sleeping; however, avoid vigorous exercise a few hours before bed. Instead if you are doing physical activity closer to bedtime, enjoy some gentle form of yoga, Pilates or stretching.

Maintain a consistent time that you go to bed and get up. Develop a routine to unwind like taking a bath and reading a book.

Avoid electronics in the bedroom. Make your bedroom an environment for sleeping. Keep the room temperature cooler.

Avoid naps if sleeping through the night is a challenge.

By Shannon Thigpen

Shannon Thigpen is a Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist who teaches at the YMCA and trains privately. Visit http://www.shannonthigpen.com<./p>

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Home of the Month: 10305 Millport

When lightning struck a Washingtonian Palm tree four years ago, it was just the spark Stamford homeowners John and Laura Garaffa needed to begin updating their yard.

“It was the tallest tree in the area,” said John, “but it caught on fire when it was hit by the lightning and died. We hired an arborist to help us come up with a plan. When we pulled the tree out, it left a giant hole in the ground so we knew it was our chance to renovate our yard.”

In just four months, with the help of Laurel Oaks Nursery and Tree Farm, the Garaffas’ yard was transformed with no signs of the fire left behind.

“Forrest at Laurel Oaks did all of the new landscaping. We told him that we wanted very low maintenance plants. He picked plants for Florida’s climate and we love the end result,” said Laura.

John and she said they only have to have the plants sprayed for pests and weeds and fertilized about every six weeks and trimmed back every six months. In addition to birds of paradise, their tropical yard is filled with asparagus ferns, Hawaiian Ti plants, hostas and other tropical, drought resistant plants. “Everything blooms at different times,” said Laura.

Once the front was transformed, they decided it was time to tackle the side and back yards. “We had french drains installed on the side yard because it was a swamp,” said John, “and then we extended the patio and lanai in the back. Before, the backyard next to the pool was just a patch of grass that never grew. It was unusable and mosquito infested. We had to work a lot on drainage.”

One of the additions they like the most is their durable and protective ultraviolet lanai screen. “We haven’t had any issues with it in four years,” said Laura. “When our relatives come visit us from Minnesota, they don’t understand why they are not getting a tan now when they lay out by the pool.”

Happy gardening! And please remember to run changes to your yard and home exterior by the Modifications Committee first.

Sun Hosta

Most hostas need a rest period with temperatures below 40 degrees for about eight weeks. However, some varieties, including the Sun Hosta, handle heat and are drought resistant and will grow very well in Florida.

By Marcy Sanford

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Westchase Elementary PTSA Meeting April 26

If you are looking for a reason not to cook, please join us on Tuesday, April 3 at PDQ for Spirit Night from 4-9 p.m.

Westchase will receive 10 percent of the proceeds from this event.

Don’t forget that our campus will be closed from April 9-May 2 due to state testing. No visitors will be allowed past the office during this timeframe. Also, please remember that Spring ASE ends on April 18-19. We hope your kids had fun!
Mrs. Williamson, one of our first-grade teachers, is coordinating a Relay for Life team from Westchase. The teachers and staff are putting together a cookbook with their favorite recipes to sell to raise money for the fight against cancer. Be on the lookout for more information on how you can support this great cause. The Relay for Life event will be held at Alonso on April 20 from 6 p.m.–6 a.m.

On Thursday, April 26 the PTA will host our third and last General PTA Meeting. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. in the MPR and is free to all members. After the meeting at 6 p.m. please stay to enjoy our International Festival. Our own Westchase Wizards will perform with their World Drums and Orff groups.

Attention, fifth grade parents! The fifth grade field trip to Busch Gardens will be on Wednesday, May 9. More details and permission slips will be sent home in your child’s Friday Folder on April 6. The cost is $68 for admission and a buffet lunch (or $23 for those who already have passes). All money and permission slips will be due back to school by April 16. Chaperones are welcome, but please make sure you have completed a YES application online. We’re looking forward to a fun day!

For more information, please check out our website, http://www.westchasepta.org and l,ike us on Facebook.

Upcoming April Events

3 Spirit Night at PDQ, 4-9 p.m.
9 Closed Campus through May 2
18-19 Last week of Spring ASE
26 Third General PTA Meeting and International Festival, 5:30 p.m. in MPR

By Kathy Curé

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Alonso Theatre Star Plays Lead in Chicago’s Hamilton

More than a decade ago at Alonso High School, Jose Rosario Jr. already was a performer.

He played saxophone in the band. He discovered theatre. He sang at church. Now the dreams of his youth have been surpassed by his professional accomplishments.

Rosario, 30, is currently working in Chicago. He’s appearing in the Broadway-level version of “Hamilton,’’ a play that critics have described as one of the all-time smash hits.

Rosario’s role?

He’s Alexander Hamilton.

The lead.

The star.

“It was the first time I was about to go on stage as Hamilton and you go through the feelings of what brought you here,’’ Rosario said. “I had these feelings of gratitude. I thought of Alonso, being on that stage. I thought about 6299 (the number of Alonso’s Thespian Troupe).

“It all flooded back. I’m just a kid from Alonso, Tampa, the 813. If I didn’t have that time on stage at Alonso, where would I be? It’s crazy. I’m so grateful. But I can’t deny it. What’s happening to me now, it’s so, so cool.’’

That attitude, according to Alonso theatre teacher Lisa Vorreiter, is Rosario’s most special quality.

He’s gracious. He’s humble. He lives in the moment.

“The first time Jose sang on our stage during an audition, a few girls in the room started to cry,’’ Vorreiter said. “I’m not even kidding. They were trembling. They said, ‘He sings so beautifully.’

“People want Jose around. People want Jose involved with them. He has humility, just an honesty in his performance. He has the talent to back it up. He had these qualities from the first time I met him.’’

It was 2003. Rosario, who lived in The Bridges and worked part-time serving ice cream at West Park Village’s One Scoop Or Two, was headed to band practice. But he walked in the wrong door. Vorreiter’s theatre students were rehearsing.

“It was on accident, but I saw a bunch of people singing and dancing on stage, a bunch of ladies, girls … and I was like, ‘Wow!’ ‘’ Rosario said with a laugh. “But this became way more than just girls. I saw a bunch of talented kids really making something special on stage. And I thought I could do it. So I answered the next audition.

Very quickly, Rosario’s talent and presence filled up Alonso’s auditorium.

He became Jesus in “Godspell.’’

He became Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables.’’

“She (Vorreiter) used the talents that she saw in me and brought them out, kind of fine tuned them,’’ said Rosario, whose voice borders on baritone and tenor. “Sometimes, I would crash and burn. Sometimes, I would hit it on the money. She would be like, ‘OK, hang onto that, now add this.’ She cultivated my performance and definitely brought out things I didn’t know I had.’’

Upon his Alonso graduation in 2006, he headed for the University of South Florida to major in theatre. That only lasted a year. He left to perform at theme parks, then on cruise ships. He worked gigs in Singapore.

Back in the United States, he sought opportunities at the Broadway level. He became lead understudy for “On Your Feet,’’ the story of Gloria Estefan. Before long, he was playing Emilio Estefan, Gloria’s husband.

And now there’s Hamilton.

Vorreiter remembers Rosario’s senior year, when he was one of five Alonso students selected for a state festival. Another girl wasn’t picked. She desperately wanted to go.

“Jose asked me to give up his spot so that girl could go in his place,’’ Vorreiter said. “And that is Jose.’’

Rosario said he isn’t certain about his future. There’s film, television, new goals on Broadway. “There are plenty of things that interest me,’’ he said. Then again, Rosario isn’t the type to obsess over his future.

“I stay happy and try to make the most of every moment,’’ Rosario said. “Even if it’s singing on the street corner ‘a cappella’ for a tiny little gig, I try to find the joy in that. Because there is joy in that.

In January, Rosario flew Vorreiter to Chicago for a performance of “Hamilton.’’ Vorreiter described the evening as “surreal.’’ As usual, Rosario delivered the goods.

“There’s a point when Jose did, ‘It’s Quiet Uptown,’ (a song in ‘Hamilton’),’’ Vorreiter said. “Hamilton is estranged from his wife. His son has died. It’s a turning point for his character. Jose did it beautifully. He literally broke down on stage. It broke my heart in a beautiful way.

“Jose has always been so genuine, such good energy. He was my student. He sang at my wedding. I feel like I know him well. But to see him up there on stage at such a moment, I can’t possibly describe the pride I felt.’’

By Joey Johnston

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Did You Know?

Did you know there is a bookstore in the lobby of your local library, the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library?

It’s called The Gazebo Bookstore! The Friends of the Library is a non-profit organization that operates the bookstore.

• Hardback novels are $2. Large paperbacks are $1.50. Small paperbacks are 50 cents. Children’s books are typically 25 cents to $1.

• Most audiobooks, DVDs and CDs are just $2.

• Proceeds from the book store fund materials and programs for all age groups exclusively for your library! Programs include crafting classes, technology skills and internet safety, fitness classes, music activities and much more!

• Sales are on the Honor System as the bookstore is open whenever your library is. A black locked box is available for you to deposit payment. Prices haven’t change since the store first opened in 2005.

• New inventory is added throughout the week.

How Can You Help?

• Become a member of the Friends of the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library. Membership starts at just $10 per year. You receive advance notice of sales, and Friends receive private sale time. When elected officials consider library funding, the larger our group, the more likely they are to pay attention to our advocacy.

• Shop at The Gazebo Bookstore. It takes a lot of sales for the Friends to fund all the programs our wonderful librarians request.

• Spread the word about the bookstore, The Friends, and our library programs.

• “Like” and share the Facebook page of the Friends of the Maureen B. Gauzza Library. The profile photo is the gazebo in front of our library.

• Volunteer in the bookstore and on our board. Lots of different skills are needed. Your time and talent will enable us to make an even bigger impact in the community.

• Questions can be sent to friendsmgl2017@gmail.com.

By Bobbie Muir

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Davidsen Band Wins Straight Superiors at MPA

The Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts Band had another stellar performance at their Music Performance Assessment (MPA)

The event was held at Sickles High School on Wednesday, March 7. This performance is considered the most important of the year by both the district and the state. The Dragons earned straight Superiors from all three stage judges, as well as the sight reading judge.

While Davidsen Band Director Mrs. Cochran doesn’t focus solely on ratings in the learning process, the DMS Band has a history of high marks at their MPAs. Under Cochran’s leadership, they’ve earned Superior ratings 10 of the past 11 years, and eight of those years were straight Superiors! The DMS Band students really do shine. They make our community proud.

Did your student have a growth spurt this spring? Consider donating your gently-used uniform bottoms to the DMS Clothes Closet. We are in need of khaki or black shorts, pants or skirts in all sizes for boys and girls.

DMS is also in need of flat screen TVs to use throughout campus. Two will be utilized in the conference rooms to display meeting information and save paper. One will be used in the main office to help promote campus information.

The walls of our cafeteria have been painted with faux bricks by our art teacher, Mr. Heath. Personalize a brick to honor a student, teacher or staff member. Bricks are $10 each. For more information, contact waysandmeans@davidsenptsa.org.

For more information on any Davidsen Middle School programs or events, email president@davidsenptsa.org and be sure to “like” Davidsen Middle School PTSA on Facebook.

Important April Dates

3    PTSA Board Meeting, 9:15 a.m.

By Carolyn Reynolds

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Walker Math Team Wins County Competition

Walker Middle Magnet's Algebra Honors Math League team won the Hillsborough County competition held at the Glazer Children's Museum on Feb. 22.

Walker scored the most points of 12 teams competing in Region 1. 

Team members included Luke Patterson, Diego Hernandez Nunez, Luke Couto, and Sara Fernandez (left to right in first photo). They were joined in the photo by Walker math instructor Ryan Dittmar, far left, and their principal, Anthony Jones, right.

By Mignon Patterson

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Aldi and SoFresh Open in Westchase

More dining and shopping options are springing up around the area.

On March 8 German based grocery chain ALDI opened a new location in the shopping center at the corner of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh Avenue. According to the company the new location presents a new look for the store. Some things remain the same, however. Customers need to pay a quarter, which is refundable, for a grocery cart, bring their own bags and be prepared to bag their own groceries. ALDI said this helps them keep their prices low.

More than 90 percent of the products carried at the store are ALDI exclusive brands, which the company guarantees are free of added MSG, certified synthetic colors and partially hydrogenated oils. ALDI stands behind their brand with a double guarantee: if for any reason a customer doesn’t like an ALDI exclusive brand food, ALDI will give them their money back and replace the product.

ALDI has produce, dairy, bakery and meat sections and carries the liveGfree gluten-free product line, the SimplyNature line of products and the Never Any! line of meats as well as the baby products line Little Journey, which offers customers diapers, wipes, training pants, formula, organic food and snacks.

The new Citrus Park location will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

SoFresh a fast-casual health food restaurant is coming to the Publix Shopping Center in Westchase. Owner/Operator Billy Wolf said they are hoping to have the restaurant open by the end of April or beginning of May. Wolf, who has lived in the Westchase area his whole life, said the restaurant is different from anything currently offered in the area. “We have very healthy and delicious bowls, wraps and salads. You can build your own or order one of our specialties. Everything is made fresh to order. If you want to eat healthy, this is the place to be.”

Wolf said they will also offer smoothies, homemade juices and will have a tea bar.

This is the fourth SoFresh location in Tampa. The first one opened in 2013 in the University of South Florida area. “I’ve been a customer of SoFresh for three years,” said Wolf. “I have been nagging them to open one in the Westchase area for a long time.”

SoFresh will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about the restaurant, visit http://www.sofreshsalads.com

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Local Artists Enjoy Creating Together

Members of the Westchase Artists Society have been enjoying a shared passion for creativity with a focus on fun.

Spending time with friends and like-minded creatives, our group meets at the Maureen B. Gauzza Library on Countryway Boulevard each month. Whether working on their current projects, exploring new techniques or just completing a quick painting, our members learn and socialize while doing what they love. Our group includes a mixture of hobby and professional artists who specialize in a variety of art forms from pottery and photography to painting and drawing. Join us at our next meeting to feed your creative side!

Several of our members have started the year off with great successes. Photographers Christa Joyner Moody and Jennifer Lukas Joyner exhibited some of their stunning photography in "Wanderlust: A Visual Sojourn." Their amazing work was on display at The Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar this past February and March.

Artist Diana Ranstrom won Best Of Show at the 2018 Square's Off National Contemporary Competition and Exhibition. The show featuring all square artwork was on display at Center Place Fine Arts in Brandon this past January and February. Congratulations Christa, Jennifer and Diana for your accomplishments!

The next meeting of the Westchase Artists Society is April 24 at the Maureen B. Gauzza Library on Countryway from 7-9 p.m. Join us for a little creative fun! Visit our website, http://www.westchaseartists.com and f,ollow us on Facebook to stay up to date on our activities.

By Diana Ranstrom

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Wycliff Finds Common Bond in Book Club

With only 33 houses, Wycliff is one of the smallest neighborhoods in Westchase.

Yet a new book club is giving residents the chance to get to know each other and their neighborhood even better. Before the book club was launched, the people who live on the street meet would meet up at holiday block parties. Now they have a chance to get together on a regular basis.

Member Jamie Hughes said with a laugh, “Sarah and I are the odd ones out because we don’t have children.”

Hughes went on to explain that she’d often see other women in the neighborhood outside talking while their children played but didn’t join them. She added that the book club gives her an opportunity to catch up on what everyone has been doing and find out about the latest neighborhood gossip.

Sydney Niewierski and Melinda Lewis started talking about the idea of a book club last spring and were pleasantly surprised with the positive response they received from their neighbors and friends. “We sent out a text to the neighborhood,” said Sydney, “but weren’t sure who would be into it. Lots of people wanted to join and we’re growing each month when others hear what a good time we have.”

The ladies say they do typically talk about the book they’ve all been reading, but that discussion often turns to current events and other topics. Everyone agreed that in addition to the new and stronger friendships, another bonus of the group is receiving book suggestions from each other and being pushed to read something you might not ordinarily read. When one member suggested the sci-fi book “Old Man’s War,” most of the members of the group said they thought they would not like it and were surprised to discover how much they enjoyed the book. “It’s nice to have people who pull you out of your rut,” another member added.

What They’re Reading

“The Hypnotist” by Lars Kepler
“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty
“In the Woods” by Tana French
“Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932” by Francine Prose
“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate
“11/23/63” by Stephen King
“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

Tips to Start your Own Book Club

1. Start talking to friends and neighbors to find out who would be interested.
2. Set a meeting date. Usually once a month or every other month works best.
3. Decide where you will meet and if you’ll take turns hosting. In Wycliff the members who don’t have children say they are happy to host most of the meetings so the ones with children don’t have to worry about being interrupted. You could also meet at a restaurant or other public space.
4. Decide what you want to eat and drink. Members can take turns cooking dinner for the group or you can have everyone bring an appetizer or side dish to share.
5. Pick your book. Choose a book before the first meeting or use your first time together to talk about what everyone has been reading and then vote on what you’d like to read to prepare for the next time you get together.
6. Have fun!

By Marcy Sanford

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Westchase Seniors to Tour Chihuly Glass and Morean Arts Center

On Monday, April 9, Westchase Seniors will visit the Morean Art Center and take a guided tour of the new facility in St Petersburg constructed for the city's collection of Chihuly Glass.

Dale Chihuly is a pioneer of the studio glass movement and is credited with transforming the methods of creating glass art. He has led the development of complex, multi-part glass sculptures and environmental art. Our tour will be enriched further by also visiting the Morean Arts Center Glass Studio and Hot Shop, where we will watch glassblowers create one-of-a-kind pieces, have our own personal glass blowing experience and shop for unique glass art created by local and regional artists. The cost of admission will be $18 at the door and will include all of the exhibits, studios and shops.

If you wish to join this tour, please R.S.V.P. to the Pattersons (westchase.seniors@gmail.com or 926-5473) and meet at the old St Joseph's Health Center parking lot at 10909 W. Linebaugh Ave at 10 a.m. on April 9 to form carpools for the trip to St. Petersburg.

The Seafood Exchange Grill A large group of Westchase seniors enjoyed lunch together at the new Seafood Exchange Grill in Westchase Town Center. The food was good and the time spent having lunch together was enjoyable. You will likely be tempted to return and try more of the many menu items, and when you do, we recommend you invite another Westchase senior to go with you. If you do, the meal will be even more enjoyable. We thank Lee Mook and Diana Millman for planning and hosting this Westchase Seniors Group luncheon.

Day Trips Join us for the upcoming senior day trips, sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center. On Thursday, April 5 the recreation center will take you on a fun boat trip in downtown Tampa. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the cost will be $10. On Thursday, May 3 seniors will take a trip to Tarpon Springs. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the trip is free.

Please make reservations by calling 964-2948. Space is limited so reservations should be made as soon as possible. You will be notified a day or two in advance if there is insufficient space for you. Unless noted otherwise, bring money for your lunch.

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9-10 a.m. Westchase seniors are invited to meet at the Westchase McDonald’s Restaurant for coffee, breakfast and friendly conversation. The coffee is free with any food purchase and the conversations are enjoyable. Grab your breakfast and join us. You can’t miss us – we are the “older” but “young at heart” people laughing and having a good time.

Put Life in Your Years If you are a Westchase resident over 55 years old and looking to enjoy life, join the Westchase Seniors Group and add some fun to your life. To get emails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to westchase.seniors@gmail.com or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473). It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Meet Gigi and Gogo!

Introducing Gigi and Gogo of The Shires. Gigi (on the counter) is full of “cat-itude” and likes to be in charge – of everybody. Gogo (hiding out) is just a soft ball of sweetness and enjoys eating – a lot. They have very attentive staff, consisting of Joey (dad) and Joey (son) Johnston and their cleaning lady, Angela Johnston.

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Lowry Drama Club Opens Kids to New Experiences

The Drama Club at Lowry Elementary School is back in action this year thanks to the time and dedication of several teachers.

Tina de Almenara, a resident of The Greens, and fellow teacher Kim Pasch opened the club up to fifth grade students at the end of last semester and had so many interested students they had to ask for reinforcements. “We originally thought we’d only have room for 15 students,” said Pasch, “but we had so many who were interested in joining that we asked other teachers to help out.”

Students in fifth grade applied for spots in the club at the end of the fall semester and started practicing when they returned to school after the winter break. Thanks to the extra help, Pasch and de Almenara were able to accept 27 students into the club. The young thespians had the chance to show their parents and teachers what they’ve been working on at a showcase in March.

“Every Thursday I have kids come up to me and tell me how excited they are for the club that day,” said de Almenara. “I’ve heard from parents that their child is gaining confidence and found a place where they feel like they belong.”

“A lot of the students in our club don’t participate in other extracurricular activities or sports and this gives them a focus and a group to be a part of. I always hope that kids will find something they need in the drama club,” said Pasch.

In addition to learning how to memorize a script and collaborate together on songs and timing, the teachers say the children pick up valuable presentation skills from their work with the club. “Kids are usually not taught presentation or speaking skills in class. They do not know how to project their voice or how to be confident when speaking in front of a group,” said Pasch. 

Parents of students involved with the club agree that the experience has been an overwhelmingly positive one. Amy Spirides, mom of a fifth grade student at Lowry, said, “The drama club has been a fun experience for Lexi. She really likes how the students are divided into smaller groups and that the teachers individually work with those groups.  In addition, she really likes how Ms. Pasch explains how the club would work if it were a high school drama club.  We have such wonderful teachers at Lowry, and I’m so thankful to the team of teachers who are helping to run the club.”

Brian Evarts, whose daughter is also in the club, credits it with helping to bring her out of her shell. “She’s very excited about it and loves to practice the skits. She has said that being in the club has made her more confident, more outgoing and that she enjoys being a part of something.”

By Marcy Sanford

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Helping Your Kids Get Holes in Their Heads

An old memory sits like a scar in my brain:

Grunting, the Cable Guy slowly emerged from behind the entertainment unit, crawling backwards.

Technically it wasn’t really the whole Cable Guy slowly emerging. Just his prodigious crack, peeking precociously over his belt. “Step aside!” it seemed to cry. “I am here!”

I stepped aside.

But our fearsome beast, Dash, who runs in terror from the vacuum cleaner, eyed it suspiciously and then stepped forward for a big sniff.

I lunged for Dash’s collar.

The Cable Guy’s head popped out just as I appeared to be lunging for his backside.

“I WAS GETTING THE DOG!” I said too loudly.

The Cable Guy yanked the back of his khakis. “OK, that one’s done. Where are your other TVs?”

“That’s it.”

“What?”

“That’s the only TV we have.”

“You only have one TV?” He was looking at me like a large crack had suddenly replaced my nose.

“Yeah,” I said. “That’s the only one.”

“Oh,” he said.

But it wasn’t just an “Oh.”

It was an “oh” that succinctly conveyed, “Oh, you’re one of THOSE parents.”

And I’ll be honest.

I was one of THOSE parents.

Back then owning a single TV did make me feel superior.

Except when I went the living room with a plan to watch all 80 cable channels for five seconds each before grunting and throwing the controller on the ottoman only to find my wife clutching the controller (and her pregnant belly) and turning white with terror as some lady died of eclampsia on Grey’s Anatomy. 

Then it would have been nice to be one of the other parents.

But my wife is a clinical psychologist who specializes in children and teens.

She is all about limiting the screens.

They are the opioids of the under 21 crowd.

So, one TV. In the living room.

Oh, and she refuses to let her daughters get their ears pierced until they’re 18.

Because her Puerto Rican mama waited exactly 30 seconds after she cleared the birth canal to jam pins through her baby girl’s ears.

So my wife has taken a clear stand against screens and youthful ear-piercing, both of which put holes in kids’ heads.

A kid cries in a restaurant? What does a typical parent do?

Hands him their phone. Or his own personal iPad.

It’s the world’s first babysitter that fits into a purse without all the awkward shoving and yelling.

Alas, if you’ve handed your child a screen like this, you have just condemned him to a lifelong attention span of a gnat, bed-wetting, low SAT scores, teen acne, multiple unsuccessful marriages and a future career as a prison inmate or a personal injury attorney.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should have handed him a book instead – even if he does try to eat it. Those pediatricians have a strict rule: Minimal to no screens until after the age of 2.

We followed this rule with our oldest to help protect her head from holes.

And when we finally let her watch Caillou and Arthur, our 2-year-old sat in front of the TV, her nose five inches from the screen.

Which was when we first discovered Number One was nearly legally blind.

So we got her some fancy thick glasses.

And she spent a whole following week walking around admiring those things on the end of her hands. “Look at what my fingers do, Daddy!” she cried.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.

But we were still superior because we only had one TV.

Then along came Elf, now 15.

And smartphones.

And Netflix.

It’s a lot harder enforcing the no-screens-til-two rule when you already have a 3-year-old bouncing up and down in front of the TV along with the leaping lemur on Zooboomafoo.

And because my generation also banned playpens, we couldn’t just drop our second born into prison until Number One finished her strictly monitored 45 minutes of screen time daily.

So we slipped.

Then Bee came along. And while the three of them still got fed and read books and played musical instruments and ate their vegetables, mistakes were made.

Corners were cut.

And then, because we sent our daughters away to magnet school in high crime or far flung areas, we slipped again.

We got them all phones.

We were officially on the expressway to hell.

Someone even gave the girls DSes.

I think it was their grandmother, the ear mutilator.

I don’t exactly remember. That whole decade is blur of STEM Fair projects, Sunshine Math and iXL.

Math that needed to be completed on a computer screen.

Then—boom!—in roughly 36 hours, they were all teenagers stomping about, accusing each other of wearing their clothes and spending their lives walking around, staring at or poking at screens.

It’s been terribly confusing.

Most nights, when I walk into Elf’s room to say good night, I’ve not been sure if she’s Facetiming her best friends Shea and Blair or watching Pretty Little Liars.

And the one time I was sure she was watching Pretty Little Liars, Blaire’s voice screamed over the iPad, “Are those cute little piggies on your pajama pants, Mr. Barrett?!”

The screen crackdown was inevitable. Especially after their smartphone-addicted Uncle Eddie walked off our cousin’s lake dock checking all his Facebook Likes.

No one wants an Uncle Eddie.

“We’re instituting some new rules in this house!” their mama, Dr. Clinical Psychologist, cried.

The good doctor announced new limits on screens. All phones and iPads and iPods and Kindle readers were to be placed on the kitchen counter at 8:30 p.m. (There would be no bed wetters or personal injury attorneys in this house!)

We expected blowback, a fight even.

But Elf, a high school freshmen, threw us a curveball. “I’ll do it on one condition with no complaints.”

My wife looked at me.

If you see Elf, be sure to compliment her on her newly pierced ears.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Crime in 33626: April 2018

33626 Crime: February

Theft from a Vehicle

2/1

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Battery – Simple

2/1

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Battery – Simple

2/2

9300 Lakechase Island Wy.

DUI

2/2

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

2/2

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Business Robbery

2/3

11300 Stable Gate Ln.

Aggravated Assault

2/3

11300 Stable Gate Ln.

Public Peace Crimes

2/3

9900 Brompton Dr.

Battery – Simple

2/3

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

2/3

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

2/4

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Building

2/5

10700 Tavistock Dr.

Conservation Violation

2/5

12900 Dupont Cr.

Drugs/Narcotics

2/7

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Theft from a Vehicle

2/7

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant in County

2/7

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Battery – Simple

2/8

14700 Waterchase Blvd.

Kidnapping

2/8

14700 Waterchase Blvd.

Drugs/Narcotics

2/9

Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

DUI

2/9

Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Health/Safety

2/10

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

2/12

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud – Swindle

2/12

8900 Fox Tl.

Battery – Simple

2/13

Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

Petit Theft – All Other

2/14

8900 Sheldon West Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

2/14

13500 White Elk Lp.

Battery – Simple

2/19

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Grand Theft – All Other

2/20

11900 Mandevilla Ct.

Theft From A Vehicle

2/21

10000 Bentley Wy.

Shoplifting

2/22

8800 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Fraud – Other

2/23

9000 Sheldon West Dr.

Warrant out of County

2/23

11200 Sheldon Rd.

Drugs/Narcotics

2/23

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

2/23

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Civil Matter

2/25

9800 Bayboro Bridge Dr.

Fraud – Impersonation

2/28

12700 Westwood Lakes Blvd.

Fraud – Impersonation

2/28

11700 Glen Wessex Ct.

Grand Theft – All Other

2/28

13100 Race Track Rd.

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Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library Programs, April 2018

FAMILY PROGRAMS

Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Mon, April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Toddler Time (Ages 18 months to 3 years with caregiver): Tue, April 3, 17 and 24 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tue, April 10 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Storytime (Ages 3-5): Wed, April 4, 11 and 25 at 10:30 a.m.
Wee Artists (Ages 2-5):  Thu, April 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 1:30 p.m.
Block Party (Grades K-5): Mon, April 9 at 3:30 p.m.
• Kids use the library’s collection of Lego building blocks to have a fun, creative afternoon.
Toddler and Preschool Yoga (Ages 2 to 5 with caregiver): Tue, April 10 at 11:30 a.m.
• Introduce your baby and toddler to stretching, singing, story time and yoga.
Messy Mondays: Painting with Markers (Grades K-5): Mon, April 16 at 3:30 p.m.
• “Paint” with markers and rubbing alcohol to create a unique piece of abstract art.
Safety Superhero Academy: Don’t Touch Go Tell (Ages 3 to 5 with caregiver): Wed, April 18 at 10:30 a.m.
• Join Hillsborough County Fire Rescue with Special guest puppet “Telvis” to learn how dial 911. Parents will be able to teach children their own contact information to get help on the way.
Mad Science’s Spin, Pop Boom (Grades K-5): Thurs, April 19 at 4 p.m.
• Be there when the Mad Scientist is able to defy gravity in this energetic and spectacular special event. Presented by Mad Science.
Crochet Club (Ages 10 and up): Wed, April 25 at 6 p.m.
• Learn the basics of crochet to create a unique item.

ADULT PROGRAMS
Intro to Ukulele: Wed, April 4 at 6:30 p.m.
• Introductory Ukulele Strum & Sing Jam hosted by Tampa Bay Ukulele Society. Beginners are welcome, but encouraged to arrive early.
Thai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, April 5 and 12 at 1:30 p.m.
Sahaja Meditation: Sat, April 7, 14, 21 and 28 at 10:30 a.m. (Advanced) and 11:30 a.m. (Beginner)
Planting a Vegetable Garden: Mon, April 9 at 5:30 p.m.
• Join local naturalist, Diana Kyle, as she presents an entertaining and educational program on how and when to grow vegetables at home.
DIY Crafting: Paint a Sharpie Mug: Wed, April 11 at 6 p.m.
• Learn how to decorate and customize a coffee mug for an easy DIY and personalized gift. Registration required.
DIY Recycle: Plastic Apple Shaped Gift Boxes: Wed, April 18 at 6:30 p.m.
• Learn how to transform a plastic bottle into a cute apple shaped box! Materials provided. Registration required.
Chair Yoga for All: Wed, April 18 at 1:30 p.m.
• Join instructors from Lucky Cat Yoga for this low stress slow-movement introduction to yoga.
Fiber Arts Group: Mon, April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 10:30 a.m.
• Gather with friends to knit and crochet.
Growing Your Nest Egg: Tues, April 10 at 11 a.m.
• Lori Nadglowski, a Certified Financial Planning professional will discuss the basics of retirement planning. Registration required.

Computer Classes:
Walk-in Tech Help: Tue, April 3, 10, 17 and 24 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m
• Ongoing training in computer and software basics.
One-on-One Tech Help: Thu, April 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 2 p.m.
• Register for a personal technology appointment to answer your questions.

LIBRARY HOURS

Sun, 12:30-5 p.m.; Mon-Thu, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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Teaching Media Savvy to the Pros

Roger Mills, an English teacher and coach at Alonso High School, spent 13 years of his professional life as a sports writer.

He has parlayed that experience into his own company – First Down Imaging – which trains professional athletes on how to deal with the media.

“Being on the other side for a long time as a writer, it sometimes struck me how ill-prepared many of the athletes were when giving interviews in the locker room,’’ said Mills, who covered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rays for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) before beginning his teaching career.

“That’s not an indictment on the public relations staffs with the teams because they are doing everything they possibly can. I felt there was a need for another voice who could provide ways to focus on how to better handle yourself in those situations. It has gotten tricky with the rise of all media, including the proper way to use social media.’’

Mills has given seminars to the NFL’s Bucs and Atlanta Falcons, along with the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies. He’s also interested in expanding his services to college athletics.

Mills generally takes his lead from the organization and its particular media needs. But a variety of subjects are generally covered – from the way an athlete appears on camera to crafting a positive message to the use of proper grammar.

“It’s the English teacher in me,’’ Mills said. “I can’t help myself. You want people to sound educated. The subjects and verbs must agree.

“One of the (team officials) said, ‘I can’t believe you said that’ (when correcting an athlete’s grammar). That’s the problem. No one is telling them. They sound like they have a fifth-grade education. The teams hire me to provide an open, honest and critical perspective, so things can improve. That’s what I do.’’

Mills’ methods have been effective, according to Nelson Luis, vice president of communications for the Bucs.

“We love having Roger coming in to talk to our players because it gives them an added perspective,’’ Luis said. “We’re constantly in their ear. But to hear it from someone who was actually on the other side (as a journalist) is always of great value for us.

“Roger does a great job of walking the players through some of the tricks of the trade. He makes sure they understand things from the perspective of the writer or media member. It breaks down barriers and allows them to have a broader perspective and, we think, a better interaction in their media opportunities.’’

Mills said he builds seminars around three basic principles. As a teacher, he quickly learned that students need models “that they can latch onto and assess meaning.’’

The First Down Imaging models include:

The Media Credit Line – Mills describes an athlete’s media image as a credit card. “You have to build it,’’ he said. “You have to make payments on it. If you don’t make payments, you have negative credit. As you make payments and extend your financial portfolio, the credit score goes up.’’

The CEO Model – Mills said each athlete is in charge of their own business marketing company. “If you want to be CEO of your company and its spokesperson, you have to be there in good times and bad times,’’ Mills said. “You don’t want anybody else speaking for your company other than you. Everything you say is a reflection of that company.’’

The Social Media Magnet – Mills speaks about the popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. He points out how they can be useful. He also describes how they can become dangerous.
Mills is adding a fourth model, which he calls a “media investment’’ that will have a payoff upon retirement. It’s based on building a positive media image, which could lead to lucrative post-career opportunities. Mills said media-friendly former Bucs, such as Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Booger McFarland, were prepared for new careers partially because of their media savvy.

“I find there are parallels between high-school teaching and doing these seminars,’’ Mills said. “I remember one time leaving Alonso after the school day and going to the Bucs for a seminar. It was going from a classroom of kids to a classroom of athletes.

“When I worked with the Memphis Grizzlies, somebody asked, ‘What’s harder, talking to us or talking to your class?’ I said, ‘You’re the same,’ and they loved that. But really, with 17 or 18 year olds, that’s the toughest audience you can imagine.

Teaching has allowed me to hone my communication skills and make an impact on the adults of the future. There’s no greater reward than that and it’s why I love teaching.’’

Mills devised Alonso’s Peer Mentor Program, which teaches leadership skills and problem-solving. Students must be recommended for the program.

“All of it – my teaching, the Peer Mentor Program and my seminars with athletes – is based upon effective communication,’’ Mills said. “The engagement of the athlete is like the engagement of the student. You want students to react and engage in conversation. That’s how they pass tests. If they think and have a reaction to it, that’s when we start going places.’’

By Joey Johnston

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Westchase Q and A: Gun Control

This month we asked residents: What do you believe about gun control?

Adam Smith, Bennington

I don't think we need to ban guns. When you try to keep guns away from responsible law-abiding citizens, you are not making the world safer. You are making it more dangerous. Firearms are not the cause of violence. Guns are tools that people use. It's not the gun, it's the person using it. I don't think anyone wants to see someone with a serious mental illness get a gun, but we have to be careful and make sure there is due process. The Second Amendment is there for our protection.
I'm very concerned about the ability of government officials to decide who should and should not own guns. With this latest school shooting in Broward County, there were lots of red flags about the shooter but the government did nothing. It's not worth giving up a Constitutional right just because it might make some people feel better. Most mass shootings take place in "gun free zones," which means people with criminal intent or a mental illness know they can kill a lot of people before someone with a gun can stop them.

Gina Potito and Lauren Northrup, Bennington

Gina: We should ban all assault rifles especially those that can be converted to full automatic or use a bump stock that allows for rapid fire. We need to improve background checks; get rid of the gun-show loophole; raise the age limit for owning a gun to 21; and keep the mentally ill from being able to purchase or own guns. I've been very disappointed in our political leadership at the state and national level. The only thing that seems important to them is staying on the good side of the NRA.

Lauren: Guns are way too easy to get. Other countries have been able to control guns and you almost never hear of mass shootings in those places unlike here where we seem to have them at least once a week. I'm a senior at the University of Florida and the thought of someone on campus with an AR-15, or any kind of assault rifle, is terrifying. I think arming teachers is a bad idea. Teachers carrying guns would just frighten young children. It's so hypocritical that some politicians demand a long waiting period before a woman can have an abortion, but have no problem with someone going to a gun show and buying a gun on the spot.

Hank Galloway, Glencliff

I was in the Navy during the Korean War and I am a Methodist minister. I don't think taking guns away from people is going to make us safer. Yes, we need to make it more difficult for the mentally ill to get guns. But, some seem to think the only solution is no one should be allowed have guns because you can never know who might misuse them. I don't think there's a problem with law-abiding responsible citizen owning a gun.

Ronnie and Jackie James, Brentford

Jackie: When the Second Amendment was added to our Constitution, people owned muskets that could only get off one shot a minute. I don't think our founding fathers could have imagined the kind of slaughter today's weapons are capable of inflicting. I'm not against people owning guns, but we have to use our common sense. Letting everyone have whatever kind of gun they want, or trying to take all the guns away is not using good common sense.

Ronnie: I'm a retired Air Force officer and do a lot of legal work on behalf of veterans suffering with PTSD. The Second Amendment gives people the right to own guns but not everyone should. There is so much stress in our culture today and unfortunately that often turns to violence. Our current "stand your ground laws" make it worse. People often have an irrational perception that they are in danger. If they feel threatened, they don't always respond rationally. They just react. Our courts are having a very difficult time sorting this out.

By Phil Dean

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WOW in the Snow

Usually WOW finds itself enjoying warm and sunny vacations with Westchasers. This month, however, we share two trips WOW recently took to the great white North.

One was a bit farther great white North than the other.

Jason Burns of Windsor Place submitted this shot of him holding WOW at his other home. “Since acquiring property in Westchase, we have enjoyed receiving the magazine,” he wrote. “The photo was taken at our summer home on Peabody Pond in Sebago, Maine.”

Jason added, “One day when we are fully retired, we hope to do the typical snowbird thing and spend winter months in Florida.”

Meanwhile Greens resident Sandi Foster (WOW’s Distribution Manager) enjoyed a trop to Alaska with her kids, Allison and Andrew. “In Skagway, I decided to take the WOW on a helicopter trip to the Denver Glacier to go dog sledding.  The Denver Glacier is located within the Tongass National Forest. “Allison, Andrew and I flew over the mountains and glaciers in a helicopter, landed in the middle of a glacier field, met the dogs, and an Iditarod dog trainer, who took us on a once in a lifetime dog mushing trip!”

Detailing the trip, Sandi said, “Our dog musher let each of us stand on the runners, and others took turns being pulled by the ten dogs on our sled.  After the trip, we even got to hold some 3-week-old Alaskan huskies.  

“We were very thankful that the weather cooperated, and we had a beautiful afternoon for the flight.”

Sandi added, “During our vacation in Alaska, we even met Libby Riddles, the first female race winner of the Iditarod, and in Anchorage, we met and spoke with one of the founders of the Iditarod race.”

The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an annual race run in March of each year between Willow (near Anchorage) on Alaska’s southern coast to Nome, on Alaska’s central western coast. The race usually lasts between eight to 15 days. Each sled driver has a team of 16 dogs, five of which must be on the towline when the cross the finish line.

The race began in 1973 as a challenge for the best sled dog mushers and teams. Teams race through blizzards and bone-chilling cold, covering nearly 1,000 miles as teams cross the state, checking in at 26-27 checkpoints along the way.

Riddles, the first woman to win the race, did so in 1985. The following year Susan Butcher became the second woman to win the race and went on to win it three additional times. 

We thank Jason Burns and the Fosters for sharing their travels with WOW.

Take WOW on Your Spring Trips!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your spring trips outside of Florida. Send in a photo of you or your family holding WOW in an interesting place, and you will receive between $60 and $100. Simply send the photos to Editor@WestchaseWOW.com with a few sentences about your trip and the location of the photo(s).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

What owner of teenagers isn’t ready to throw in the towel?

Foldeez, March’s fabulous fakery on page offered a revolutionary solution so you don’t insist your children air-dry themselves: self-folding and self-hanging towels. These miraculous objects come from the same company that introduced the self-making bed in 2013. Alas, they had to take it off the market three months later when it accidentally trapped a teen inside the bed for three days over Spring Break.

The boy’s parents only realized he was missing when his mother found no dirty clothes on his bathroom floor and grew suspicious.

Credit for inspiring March’s fakery goes to WOW Northwest Editor Karen Ring, who spent a week back in February posting photos of towels she found in various odd locations and angles around her home. Apparently an inability to fold and put towels back in order is tucked into a far corner of the Y chromosome. (But unlike the rest of the DNA, it’s unfolded.)

Congratulations are in order for Don Roszel of The Greens, whose correct fake ad entry was randomly selected by the fake ad gods. As the result, Don will be unfolding his dinner napkin at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

Contest Rules: Tucked somewhere in this month’s WOW is a fake ad for a fictitious business or service. Email your guess, including the fake company name and its page number, along with your name and address by the tenth of the month to editor@westchasewow.com. Write Fake Ad Contest as the subject. One correct entry will be randomly chosen as winner each month.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Lakeland Has the Wright Stuff

Up until a few weeks ago I had only thought of Lakeland as a place we drove past on our way to Orlando or Legoland.

Yet a neighbor’s son is a freshman at Florida Southern College (FSC) and she recently mentioned how beautiful the campus is, adding that it is home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world. Having visited Chicago a few years ago, I thought I’d had that experience while walking around Oak Park and so I was intrigued.

John Santosuosso, a retired professor from the college and current docent volunteer at the Frank Lloyd Wright Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center, confirmed the status of the collection. “We have the largest collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in one location designed for one client. Visitors from all over the U.S and world come to tour the collection.”

Santosuosso said that at the end of the depression FSC’s then president Dr. Ludd Spivey was desperately trying to come up with ideas to keep the small, struggling college open. “He felt he needed to do something spectacular so he sent a telegram to Wright asking him to help build an educational temple. By then Wright was pretty well known but he was always in need of money and never turned down any commission,” he said.

Santosuosso said the two met in person and became good friends, which probably was another reason that Wright took on the project.

The original plans for all the buildings and structures were drawn up in 1938 and most were finished by 1958. One, the Water Dome, has never fully functioned, however. Wright’s imagination called for fountains to shoot water 80 feet in the air but that was not possible because of water pressure at the time. In 2007 the college’s current president, Dr. Anne Kerr, led a campaign to restore the Water Dome so that Wright’s vision could be realized. “The Water Dome was the largest water feature Wright ever designed,” said Santosuosso.

However, he added that even with the renovations, the fountains do not shoot water 80 feet into the air. They max out at 45 feet instead. They still make a perfect dome of water, but unfortunately soak anyone near the fountain when the wind blows. So usually the fountains only run at about 30 percent of their capacity.

The college sells self-guided walking tour maps for those who want to visit the collection on their own but they also offer several different docent led tours for those who want to learn more.

Santosuosso said lots of people say their favorite building on the tour is the Danforth chapel, which includes the last specialty colored glass window that Wright ever designed. His favorite, however, is the Polk Science Building because there are “lots of good stories about Russian spies and ghosts” connected to the building. He also recommends that while you are in the area you visit the nearby Hollis Garden, a 1.2-acre garden that is home to more than 10,000 flowers, ornamental shrubs and native trees.

Frank Lloyd Wright Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center
http://www.flsouthern.edu/visitors/fllw-visitors.aspx
(863) 680-4597

By Marcy Sanford

Photos courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center.

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Shortening the 68 Hours

For students who qualify for the free lunch program, the last school bell on Friday can mean 68 hours before they’ll be certain of another meal.

Bridges resident Sandy Kennedy works with an organization to send those children home on Fridays with a backpack of food.

Originally from Indiana, Kennedy grew up on a family farm where she helped gather eggs and milk cows. While at school, she was a member of the Sunshine Society, a service organization with the goal of scattering seeds of kindness among the sick, elderly and needy. “My family was always involved in humanitarian services,” she explained.

She recalled the story of her aunt who taken as a prisoner of war in 1943 after hiding Jewish children among orphans to keep them from harm. She was released a year later and eventually was awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations Award.”

Kennedy attended Goshen College, where she majored in elementary education and French. As a junior, she studied one year abroad at the University of Strasbourg. “I thought my French was pretty good until I got there,” she recalled.

Kennedy described the experience as the most influential year of her life. Because long distance calls were too expensive, she only spoke with her parents once while she was away. “There were 18 of us and we had very little supervision so we had to learn to do everything on our own.”

Her time spent in another country helped her value her own culture and learn to appreciate what she liked about theirs.

After graduation, she accepted a position teaching second grade. It was during this time that she met future husband, Brian. In 2001 the couple made a move to Florida to be near her mother. For ten years she worked as the technical coordinator at Berkeley Preparatory School. She still serves on the Berkeley faculty working on their website and repairing computers when needed.

Through a friend at church, Kennedy learned that approximately 61 percent of Hillsborough County students get free or reduced lunches. They learned about a program which was started in New Hampshire by a retired lieutenant commander, Claire Bloom. After discovering that many children go the entire weekend hungry, Bloom started End 68 Hours of Hunger, a nonprofit delivering food-filled backpacks to schools on Friday afternoons. “It’s approximately 68 hours between the lunch they get Friday and the breakfast they get on Monday mornings at school, Kennedy explained.

In 2016, Kennedy and others launched the program at Grady Elementary. They served ten families, including 40 kids. The numbers served have grown to 100 families including 284 kids today.

Four packing teams rotate time spent packing the backpacks, with one team covering each week of the month. Two people buy food and take it to the church, where the food is packed. Kennedy is one of the buyers. Always looking for a great deal and donations, she has become quite a bargain shopper. A few cents per item makes a big difference when you are trying to feed 100 families.

Each backpack is packed based on individual family needs. Each family receives three dinners, two lunches, two breakfasts and snacks. The basic meals include canned meats, canned vegetables and canned fruit. They also include soups, crackers and macaroni and cheese. The challenge is to pack the backpacks so they aren’t too heavy for the students to carry home. Since glass is too heavy, items such as peanut butter and pasta sauces have to be in plastic jars. Any donations they receive in glass containers are donated to other organizations.

Because the pantry they have access to is not large enough to hold a month’s worth of food, the shopping is done almost on a weekly basis. Kennedy takes care in what she selects or accepts for the kids to take home. “I try it and if I wouldn’t eat it myself, I don’t send it home with them,” she explained.

She said they target schools with children who would not have other options for food. “It doesn’t matter to me if they come from families with parents who might abuse the system. If the kids are still hungry, why would you not do whatever you can to help them?” she said.

To learn more about End 68 Hours of Hunger or to make donations, Kennedy invites Westchase residents to visit http://www.end68hoursofhunger.org/find-your-community/florida/tampa They .also have a Facebook page at End 68 Hours of Hunger Tampa.

As she helps to feed the hungry children of Hillsborough County, Sandy Kennedy continues to spread a little sunshine to others.  

By Lisa Stephens

Stephens, a resident of West Park Village, is always looking for interesting Westchase residents to profile. She can be contacted at lmsfla@verizon.net.

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Make it Your Lucky Dill Day

If like many Floridians you are a New York City transplant, then the Lucky Dill Deli in Palm Harbor will feel a bit like going home.

Like NYC, it’s busy – lots of people, lots of stuff, lots of hustle and bustle. I’ve only been to New York City once, but it does capture the vibe. There are brick walls, subway station signs, and lots of flair throughout.

Don’t be fooled by the name. The popular nosh spot is much more than just a deli. It offers sandwiches and soups, of course, but also myriad other options including flatbreads, baskets, seafood, steaks, wraps, burgers, paninis, pasta and so much more. Breakfast is served all day, and daily specials augment an already overwhelming menu.

If you are in the mood for classic deli fare and gigantic sandwiches, look no further. Your options are practically endless – corned beef, egg salad, roast beef, tuna, and chopped liver (truly) are included in the “The Original” sandwich lineup. But there are also “Skyscraper” options with names like “Superfly” and “When Harry Met Sally” along with a variety of reubens that are so massive you won’t be able to get your hands around them.

Making a decision was difficult. So while poring over our choices, we started with an appetizer sampler, The Ritz Blitz ($12.99). It was definitely enough to share – meaty chicken wings were served alongside crunchy fried green tomatoes that were drizzled with deliciousness, and giant (what else?) mozzarella sticks with a tangy tomato dipping sauce.

After much deliberation, I opted for the Turkey Reuben ($13.99). Toasted rye bread was filled with a mound of sauerkraut and a mound of turkey and topped with Swiss cheese. It was served warm with thousand island dressing (they call it Russian), a crisp dill pickle and your choice of side. The cole slaw is a little on the mayonnaise-y side, but good. I’m fairly certain this was not a low-calorie meal, but it was pretty fantastic. Bonus: it was so huge, I had lunch for the next day.

My dining partner went with one of the day’s specials, Guinness Beef Stew ($12.99). Fresh carrots, peas, onions, and potatoes were mixed with tender chunks of beef and served in a rich but not overpowering broth – hearty and delicious.

Shaved roast beef and melted provolone made up the Classic French Dip ($13.99), which was served open-faced on crusty bread, old-school style. The accompanying au jus added just the right amount of savory. Finally, the Brooklyn Burger ($10.99) was a better-than-average burger served on a Challah roll to make it unique and very NYC.

If you order a drink of any kind (even soda or tea) at the Lucky Dill, you get a free dessert. Since you will likely be stuffed to the gills by the end of your meal, they will box it to go if you’d like. Most of the desserts are made from scratch at the attached Brooklyn Bakery, and it shows. We chose the cheesecake, which was rich (but not too heavy) with a heavenly graham cracker crust.

The service was spot-on. Nicole, our waitress, was enthusiastic, personable, helpful and very efficient even though she was clearly busy.

The only downside (if you can call it that) to this place is that you just get too much food. I don’t have enough space to get into what else the Lucky Dill offers – in short, there’s the aforementioned bakery, great specials, a hip little bar with live music six nights a week, craft cocktails and more.

Go check it out for yourself!

The Lucky Dill Deli
5 STARS
http://luckydilldeli.com
33180 US 19
Palm Harbor, FL

By Melanie Casey

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Troop 46: Camping Not Glamping

Troop 46 has scheduled some exciting camping opportunities in upcoming months!

Troop 46 meets most Mondays at 7 p.m. at the Citrus Park Baptist Church on Gunn Highway. Our Scoutmaster is Mr. David Smith; you are welcome to stop by any time to inquire about joining Scouting. Scouting helps youth develop academic skills, self-confidence, leadership skills, citizenship commitment, and more to influence their adult lives positively.

Upcoming Exciting Camping Opportunities

April Canoeing Campout
April 13 – Location TBD

May Shooting Skills Campout
May 4 – Sand Hill Scout Reservation
Brooksville, FL

June BSA Summer Camp
Camp Rainey Mountain
Clayton, Georgia

July Scout Expedition
July 21 – Philmont Scout Ranch
Cimarron, New Mexico

Our photos this month introduce some folks who are involved with Troop 46. Mrs. Gina Haberman is an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 46 and the longtime volunteer in the role of advancement chair. Her son, Sam, participates in the troop and is currently a Patrol Leader and Life Scout as well as a student at Sickles High School.

Troop 46 is divided into patrols and is a boy-run, boy-led organization. In our second photo Patrol Leader Shota Konno, a freshman at Robinson High School, interrupted troop campout planning briefly to pose with the Scouts of the Black Kat Patrol.

By Tristan Goodrich

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MOMS Club Off to the Races in March

Our group celebrated milestones and holidays this month.

The month of March got off to a great start with a moms’ night out at the new Fountainhead Wine & Beer Bar in Highland Park. The ladies enjoyed Fountainhead’s delicious cocktails and savory treats delivered from Atlas Pizza across the street. To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day we had an open play at the Highland Park playground, where the kids donned their emerald best and had the opportunity to do face painting. Next, we enjoyed a picnic-style lunch bunch at Glencliff Park, with lunch provided by the MOMS Club.

We continued the festive holiday celebrations with an Easter Egg Hunt at Baybridge Park. In addition, one of our own MOMS Club members, who happens to be a talented photographer, captured the tots in their sweet Easter outfits. Next month, we’ll celebrate Earth Day by getting back to nature.

During March the club supported March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to improving the health of mothers and babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For April the Club will be donating to the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation department in honor of Earth Day.

We’d like to extend huge congratulations to two of our members, Sandra Calkins and Lauren Greear, who finished in the Women’s Top 25 of the Fifth Annual World of Beer Westchase 5K this past month. All ladies of the group who are committed to living a healthy lifestyle and reaching their fitness goals while being a full-time parent inspire us every day!

We are always looking to connect with new moms and local businesses – if you have a business or a babe, please visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure you’ll want us for keeps!

By Heather Dagostino

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CDD Makes Advances on Landscaping Improvements and Potential Golf Course Purchase

The April 3 CDD Workshop and April 4 Westchase CDD meeting saw supervisors return to two topics that have dominated recent meetings: landscaping plans and the district’s potential purchase of the Westchase Golf Course.

“The Letter of Intent [to purchase the Westchase Golf Course] was executed and the seller provided a sale and purchase agreement,” Westchase Community Development District (CDD) Attorney Erin McCormick announced at the April 4 meeting.

The letter of intent locked down the $4 million proposed price and a commitment to provide six months for due diligence research, beginning with the signed sales agreement.

McCormick added that two lawyers who specialize in golf course purchases met with her on Monday, April 3, to review the sales agreement on behalf of the district. McCormick stated that she would be responding to the owner with requested sales contract changes in a few days and expected a finalized agreement to be ready for Chair Jim Mills’ signature the second week of April.

At the previous day’s workshop, CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney, who is overseeing staff work on the sale between meetings, stated that he had identified three potential hurdles to the sale. The first was the seller’s preference for selling the corporation that owns the course to the district for tax reasons. McCormick previously stated that under state law, however, the district could not own a corporation. At the April 4 meeting, McCormick stated the issue had been resolved and the seller was simply going to sell the course outside of its corporate entity.

Chesney, however, also stated that the district faced statutory limits on the length of time it could borrow to pay for the course. Stating they would limited to a five-year note rather than the far longer planned note, Chesney stated the district could perhaps get around the limit by structuring the loan as a five-year note with a balloon payment that could be restructured at the loan’s end.

The third issue Chesney identified was the fact that the golf course currently lies outside of the Westchase district. As part of the purchase agreement, the CDD would have to annex the property, a process that could cost in the neighborhood of $30,000 and which would involve approval by the Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission, consisting of the Florida governor and his cabinet.

Supervisors then turned to approving three other motions detailing enhancements at Glencliff and Baybridge Parks and the West Park Village tot playground. Totaling roughly $68,000, the enhancements will be detailed in a separate article in May’s WOW.

Mays also stated he was meeting with the contractor to review some wear and tear and rusted equipment bolts on Baybridge Park’s equipment, which are still covered by warranty.

Mays then turned to his discussions with Davey, Westchase’s contracted landscaping company. At the workshop, supervisors had requested Mays speak with Davey’s representative to gauge his willingness to extend the existing contract an additional year at no additional charge. Mays stated he also discussed with the representative Davey’s willingness to give up tree trimming and mulching responsibilities to enable the district to award them to other vendors. Mays said he also discussed changing the way the company’s independent grading system and performance payment is done in an effort to improve performance. (Currently Davey’s overall performance is graded and they receive 20 percent of their contracted amount based on a passage score in the high eighties.)

Mays said Davey’s representative was interested in maintaining the contract but less enthused about losing the more lucrative mulching contract. Mays stated he might be able to work out a compromise and agreed to have Davey’s representative attend the April 30 workshop to provide suggestions on how the contractor can meet the higher performance standards some supervisors are seeking.

When Supervisor Brian Ross pressed Mays for assurances the Davey representative clearly understood that supervisors felt some things were falling between the cracks, Mays responded, “I felt comfortable with the conversation.”

Supervisors then turned to the large pond, a former borrow pit, between M/I Homes’ townhomes development and Stonebridge and Sturbridge. For several months staff have been working with the developer to transfer the lake and its surrounding property to district ownership. The deal has been complicated by the fact that a wetlands permit, overseen by SWFTMD, runs over both the lake property and the townhomes. Sharing her discussions with M/I’s representative, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated M/I wanted to be indemnified by the district for any damages arising from the district’s inadequate maintenance of the lake, if transferred. On the district side, however, supervisors expressed concerns with McCormick’s discovery that the lake fell within the boundaries of the HOA and it could not be removed, according to M/I, before control of the association passes over the townhomes’ owners. That would subject the lake and its banks to potential rules by the HOA.

The district has expressed an interest in taking ownership of the lake to enable it to address any potential flooding risk it poses to Westchase villages and also to control townhome residents’ activities on the water and the pond’s banks.

Supervisor Ross asked McCormick to go back to M/I’s representatives and make clear they would have to offer an agreement to prohibit the HOA from enforcing any existing or new deed restrictions on the lake as part of any agreement. Since the agreement will have to be signed before May’s CDD meeting, supervisors passed a motion authorizing CDD Chair Jim Mills to use his judgement regarding whether to sign it and have the district accept ownership of the lake.

Field Manager Mays then briefed supervisors on plans for landscaping improvements at Westchase neighborhood entrances. Based on Stantec designer Neal Stralow’s standards, detailed in March’s WOW, Mays asked a local landscaper to develop more detailed designs and prices for all the neighborhood entrances on Countryway Boulevard (except at the intersection of Countryway and Linebaugh). Mays said the estimated cost was $89,000. He added, however, that the next step in the process would be for Stralow to review the plans from the nursery for consistency.

Closing major discussion, CDD Chair Jim Mills inquired with Mays about the Linebaugh contractor’s restoration of the median. Mays said he was thus far happy with the work, citing the contractor’s repair of broken irrigation wires, the replacement of sod and the reconstruction of curbs. Mays said the only aspect of the job he found wanting was the quality of the repaving done in the area. “There are a lot of uneven edges to it,” he said.

Mays committed to following up with the contractor on that issue and to ask whether they planned to repaint the yellow lines adjacent to the replaced curbs.

In other news:

Attorney Erin McCormick briefly touched on a county notice she received about a zoning change for a group of commercial offices. Located just north of The Shires, that complex has requested the change to enable it to add additional parking.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall informed supervisors that he would have the preliminary district budget at May’s meeting. That budget sets the high water mark for assessments for the county property appraiser’s Truth in Millage notices sent each fall to homeowners.

Supervisors discussed a request by Greens Voting Member Gerald Pappa to be given administrative access to the Greens gatehouse security system. The VM had been left with the impression he could use the system for neighborhood-wide communication. Chair Jim Mills, a Greens resident, stated that staff and he recently realized that any message would simply be delivered within the app the entrance system uses rather than email. This would require residents to open the app to find any messages. Under Mills’ recommendation, the board instead approved providing Pappa all of the neighborhood emails collected through the system but did not grant him administrative rights, which would grant far more access to resident information, such as guest and contractor lists.

After staff brought up the issue of cypress root encroachment from district lands onto residential properties and offered different opinions on whether the district should address them, Supervisor Ross asked Field Manager Mays, Engineer Tonja Stewart and CDD Attorney McCormick to discuss the matter and return to the board with a clear staff recommendation.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Oldsmar to Annex Northwest Neighborhoods for New Downtown Development

In a blink of an eye on June 1, nearly a dozen neighborhoods in Hillsborough County will be officially annexed by Oldsmar.

Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis announced the surprising plan in March as an effort to give his town an identifiable downtown and bring baseball and other tourist attractions, including a World War II submarine, to the north side of Race Track Road between Nine Eagles Drive and Waterchase’s entrance.

Bevis appeared at the March meeting of the Park Place CDD to which local HOA leaders were invited.

The plan, which saw a lukewarm reception at the community meeting, will pull hundreds of homes in Northwest Hillsborough off the Hillsborough tax roles and put them onto the Oldsmar and Pinellas County tax rolls. It will change mailing addresses and completely remake the Countryway Boulevard/Race Track Road corridor into Oldsmar’s official downtown.

“With the upcoming construction of the Citrus Park Drive extension, this area is well positioned to one day challenge downtown Tampa and St. Peterburg as a dynamic, urban core,” said Bevis.

While most annexations are subject to a vote by areas being absorbed by cities and townships, Oldsmar is taking advantage of a nearly century-old legal agreement approved when a growing Pinellas County, featuring two different urban areas of St. Petersburg and Tampa, was separated into two counties, Hillsborough and Pinellas. That agreement stipulated that for 100 years after the political division, the city of Oldsmar, then an old, sleepy fishing village, could annex any land within 10 miles for purposes of taxation and its economic development.

“That document expires in August so we’re getting this annexation in just under the wire,” said Bevis.

“I’m assuming this also includes Westchase?” said CDD Supervisor Erica Lavina.

“No,” said Bevis. “Westchase was formerly a large ranch that extended so far eastward into Hillsborough County at the time of the agreement, that it was exempted. The map of annexable land goes around it.”

Affected by the planned annexation are the Park Place Community Development District (CDD) neighborhoods of Mandolin, Windsor Place and Highland Park, as well as Westchester, West Hampton, Westwood Lakes, The Eagles and Waterchase.

“Let me lead with the question that’s on everyone’s minds,” said CDD Supervisor Tony Jones. “How will this affect my taxes?”

“Well, among wealthy neighborhoods like the ones we’re annexing, homeowners will hardly notice it. We think it will probably increase annexed homes’ property taxes by raising them somewhere between $500 to $1,500,” Bevis answered. “But I think once residents see what they’re getting in response, they’ll agree they’ve gotten the best deal around.”

Bevis then unveiled Oldsmar’s plans for their new downtown.

“I think everyone here was aware of Oldsmar’s pitch to get the Tampa Bay Rays to build their new stadium at the intersection of Linebaugh Avenue and Race Track Road. Needless to say, the Rays recently made a foolish decision to build in Ybor City instead of our great and thriving city.”

Bevis continued. “The team’s management stated they wanted to build in the urban core and they rightly pointed out that Oldsmar doesn’t even have a downtown.”

Turning to a number of large cardboard displays that appear to have been hand-drawn, Bevis said, “That rejection has caused our great and thriving city to step back, reevaluate and formulate an even bolder plan that will bring baseball to the heart of your community.”

Bevis’ displays held plans for converting the conservation area on the north side of Race Track Road between Nine Eagles Drive and Waterchase with a new stadium fronted by a new downtown area. “We envision turning this into a live, work and play area,” he said. “Right now it’s just more of a live, cut your grass and share a brewski on your neighbor’s driveway area.”

Bevis said that the stadium would be designed to serve as the nation’s best minor league baseball stadium and, in the off season, host concerts designed to appeal to local residents.
“What if we don’t want baseball in the heart of our community?” interrupted Park Place CDD Chair Doris Cockerill.

“Well, actually,” responded Bevis, “Our internal polling shows that you do want baseball in the heart of your community but you just don’t know it yet.”

Supervisor Jones asked, “Do you have a commitment from a minor league baseball team?”

Bevis responded, “We’re taking a ‘build it and they will come’ approach here. It’s worked quite successfully in other places, including Tropicana Field.”

“But the Rays are leaving Tropicana Field,” Jones pointed out.

“What I meant to say is we’re going to take a ‘build it better and they will come and stay’ approach here,” Bevis stated.

Bevis added that Oldsmar was currently in negotiations to acquire the Sushi Alive Japanese Restaurant and Walgreens. “Whichever one we get will become the new Oldsmar City Hall.” He continued, “To our surprise, our internal polling also showed a teensy problem with the name Oldsmar. Apparently the name unintentionally gives the impression to folks unfamiliar with Oldsmar that it is both old and marred. So we’re going to subtly upgrade its name by adding a B in front and the letters –ket at the end.”

Bevis unveiled a display of the new name in handwritten large letters and followed by an exclamation point:

BOLDSMARKET!

“We’re very excited about this shift. It maintains all that was great with our original name while giving it the sense of being a bold, thriving place to buy and sell stuff,” he said.

Bevis’ displays showed the new Oldmar downtown main street will run parallel to Race Track Road and end at the lake that serves as the entrance to Waterchase. “We have some exciting plans for this area, let me tell you,” said Bevis. “Currently we have commitments from an Orange Julius, a new Goodwill store, Boom Boom Barbecue, an upscale pawnshop and an Amscot. It will have the look and feel of Main Street America, like Disneyworld’s Main Street.”

“You want to put a pawnshop on Race Track Road and you think it will be like Disneyworld?” said an incredulous CDD Supervisor Cathy Powell.

“Please forgive me,” responded Bevis. “Pawnshop is not actually in its name. It’s more of a high-end consignment shop for lawn tools, family jewelry, bikes and used guns. Ricketts’ Consignment actually focuses on the kind of upscale pawn activity one finds in affluent communities like Bucktown in Atlanta, Westchester County in New York and Northwest Hillsborough/soon-to-be Northeast Pinellas.”

Bevis continued. “Believe me, we have high quality commercial entities planned for that area. We’re currently negotiating with Topsy Turvy. Your kids will love it! It’s one of those pay-by-the-pound places. Only with Topsy Turvy, you go in, fill up bowls with all of your favorite cookies or candies – M&Ms, Skittles, Gummi Bears, Oreos, peanut butter cups, you name it – and then you can top it with one of ten different flavors of frozen yogurt. Their tagline is ‘Let’s Get Honest About Dessert.’”

Bevis pointed to the right side of the display. “As you can see, the new downtown Main Street both fronts and leads up to the ball stadium, but I want to call your attention to the new feature on the western edge of the lake at Waterchase’s entrance. We’re very excited about this feature as we’re confident it will be a huge tourist draw.”

Bevis pulled out another display, a photo of a vintage submarine from World War II. “Old timers from Tampa will remember this baby!” he said. “It’s the U.S.S. Requin.”

The U.S.S. Requin was a submarine commissioned in 1945 for service in World War II. Two weeks after it arrived at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and three days before its first mission in the Pacific, World War II ended. After two decades of work as a training vessel (the sub served as a target for sonar vessels), the U.S.S. Requin saw its only action off South America. During a Bolivian coup and anti-American uprising in the 1950s, the U.S.S. Requin single-handedly defeated the Bolivian Navy.

In 1972, the decommissioned vessel was brought to Tampa, where it sat as a tourist attraction in the Hillsborough River behind the Tampa Museum of Art and Curtis Hixon Hall (located where the park with the same name is today.) The Requin stayed there until 1986, when it closed due to lack of funding and support. It remained abandoned at the pier for four years until the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh acquired it.

“We’re bringing the Requin back home!” said Bevis. “It will once again be a successful tourist attraction, bringing thousands of visitors each year to Oldsmar’s magical new downtown.”

“If it failed as a tourist attraction in the 1980s in Downtown Tampa, what makes you think it will succeed here?” said Lavina.

“Marketing,” said Bevis. “Marketing and the fact that it was just stuck at a Hillsborough River pier in the 80s. Despite being on water, the submarine didn’t move. People just walked through it. It was completely boring.”

“What’s it going to do?” Lavina asked.

“Our plans, in contrast, will have it diving and traveling around the lake at the entrance to Waterchase, which will be possible once we dredge that lake so that it is about 80 feet deep,” said Bevis. “In time, if the Trump administration does pass an infrastructure bill, we will also be able to dredge adjacent Brooker Creek, allowing the sub to go as far south as Westchase. That way, the boring old submarine becomes an exciting, new submarine ride and potentially part of the county’s official transit system.”

Bevis added, “If the Japanese sushi place becomes City Hall, we’ll even have it fake shell the building in an exciting attack.”

That triggered some concern from Cockerill. “So this submarine ride of yours is going to make a lot of noise?”

“As we currently envision it, the explosions will be confined to daylight hours and will occur only as late as nine o’clock on weekdays. It’s no different than Disneyworld’s fireworks. After a while, the nearby neighbors just won’t hear it anymore.”

Bevis concluded, “Clearly exciting things are coming to New Northeast Pinellas County!”

Bevis concluded with a timeline that has groundbreaking for the new Boldsmarket downtown and stadium area occurring in the late fall of 2018.

By Husa Bintrict; Photos by James Broome Photography

Editor’s Note: In keeping with WOW’s annual April Fools’ tradition, this article (and only this article) appearing in the hardcopy edition of WOW Northwest is a complete fabrication. If you know of someone who got fooled (including yourself), be sure to let us know at editor@westchasewow.com. We’ll publish the best e-mails in May’s WOW.

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Linebaugh Faces Construction Project Redo: Which Approach Do You Favor?

While a special March 10 meeting of Westchase CDD brought terrible news of the failure of the recently installed reclaimed water pipe on Linebaugh, the district is considering a fix that will interject more art into the community.

Supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD), however, are looking to residents to weigh in on which approach to fixing the problem they should support.

Hillsborough County Project Manager Matt Hunter, who oversaw the year-long construction project on Linebaugh Avenue between Radcliffe and Westchase Elementary, requested an emergency meeting in March with the district.

Hunter came bearing bad news, along with a sheriff’s deputy for the protection of county staff. “I know this is the last thing you want to hear but the reclaimed water pipe that was just installed has failed. And we need to replace it.”

The remark caused audible groaning among supervisors, along with several gasps and at least one unprintable vulgarity.

“This leaves us with two options,” Hunter said. “We dig up Linebaugh again for a year to replace the pipe, disrupting traffic more than even this past project did, or we opt for an above-ground pipeline down the Linebaugh median.”

Hunter stated that the pipe’s failure was caused by the fact that the contractor mistakenly installed it backwards. “As the result, much of the water in that pipe continues to flow in the wrong direction,” said Hunter. “When that happens, fluid dynamics take over, creating undue pressures at the pipe’s seams. The entire pipe separates at nearly all of its junctures, springing leaks that render its future use impossible.”

In recent weeks the pipe’s quick failure has caused repeated spot outages during periods of high use, with the most recent ones affecting portions of Harbor Links.

“What if we do nothing and just put up with the outages?” asked CDD Chair Jim Mills.

“If we were in Jersey or Nevada, that would be a realistic option,” said Hunter. “Unfortunately, as all of you know, Florida doesn’t sit on granite bedrock or sand. It sits on dissolvable limestone, which is called karst.”

“I actually didn’t know that,” said CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney. “I thought it was just dirt.”

Hunter continued, “The highly acidic content of reclaimed water quickly eats away at the limestone bedrock. In as little as two years, it can cause heavy surface structures such as walls and homes to start sinking.”

“So you’re saying all the West Park Village homes along Linebaugh Avenue could be sucked into a giant sinkhole?” asked Supervisor Matt Lewis.

“Not exactly,” said Hunter. “There would be no actual sucking sound. There would just be a lot of collapsing, which generally sounds more like popping, crashing and banging. Of course, if the natural gas lines break, there could be some booming explosions too. But technically no actual sucking.”

“It would certainly be a shame to see all of our brick walls collapse,” said Supervisor Brian Ross. “As the result, I’m inclined to support some kind of action here.”

Ross suggested the district purchase baking soda in bulk and have its landscaper spread it on the grass regularly to increase the pH of the soil and reduce the chance of the underlying limestone deteriorating.

“With all due respect, sir,” said Hunter. “We’re not talking about baking muffins here.”

“I have to agree with Mr. Hunter,” said Supervisor Barbara Hessler Griffith. “I’m not in favor of the baking soda approach. I happen to know from the volcano my son built for his third grade science fair project that if someone comes along and spills a bottle of vinegar after we put down all that baking soda, a good portion of Linebaugh Avenue could erupt.”

While CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart interjected she thought the possibility of an actual eruption quite low, Hessler Griffith added, “Is that really a risk we want to take?”

Ruling out the baking soda approach, Hunter stated the county was willing to take one of two options.

“We can’t bore a new pipe where the last one was put, so we need to move the new one over. That means completely losing the right hand lane of eastbound Linebaugh traffic,” said Hunter. “That will reduce eastbound traffic to one lane. To compensate, we’ll take one lane of westbound Linebaugh, likely the one closest to the median, and convert it into dual use, allowing traffic to travel eastbound on it during morning rush hour and westbound during afternoon rush hour.”

That, said Hunter, would ensure one dedicated lane of traffic in each direction.

When asked how long the new pipe would take to put in, Hunter said the project would last as long as the previous project – nearly a full year.

“There are some downsides to this approach, however,” Hunter said. “Because of the dual direction traffic, all left and right turns into The Fords would have to be banned during the course of the project.”

“Oh, dear Lord in heaven, save us,” said Chesney. “This is going to make the American Revolution look like a night at Bunco.”

Hunter tried to reassure supervisors that the county understood the inconvenience this was going to cause. “We’re cognizant of the fact that this is going to cause a significant reaction among your residents of The Fords. As the result, if you choose this option, we will make sure to have grief and anger counselors on hand for your residents throughout the year.”

This wasn’t enough for some supervisors present.

“I’d like to go a little further than that,” said Mills. “This board needs to be more proactive.”

Mills suggested the board at least temporarily rent or acquire some emotional support animals for use by the most distraught residents of The Fords. “At minimum, a puppy or two and a fluffy cat, preferably non-allergenic. And from what I understand, emotional support pigs and birds are also popular, but I would leave it to our staff to pick the appropriate breeds.”

Mills added that the animals could be kept at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office building on Parley Drive in West Park Village. “Residents could perhaps visit them there or even check them out over particularly high-stress time periods,” he added. “It would just be one more way of saying, ‘We care.’”

Supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Lewis opposed to explore the support animals idea, with Lewis stating he was more of a “emotional support craft beer kind of guy.”

To access The Fords, Hunter said, all residents will have to turn into The Greens, do a U-turn around the gate and then proceed into The Fords. To minimize the impact on Greens residents, Hunter suggested supervisors limit access to the Fords to only residents during the duration of the project. “Visitors or repairmen can park at the West Park pool and Davidsen Middle School and walk to their friends’ or customers’ homes in The Fords.”

Hunter added that all package deliveries could be made to The Greens guardhouse where they could be retrieved by residents driving through it during one of their many U-turns.

Griffith added, “It would be a nice touch if the Greens gate guard could distribute free water and perhaps granola bars to all Fords residents doing the U-turn. It might help take the edge off.”

“With all due respect to Mrs. Griffith, I’m going to disagree,” said Ross. “I personally find chocolate is more calming.”

Hunter than offered an alternative approach to the project for which supervisors expressed greater enthusiasm.

“Option two has no-traffic impacts and no closed lanes,” he said. “We would simply install an above-ground pipeline.”

Hunter said the most logical placement for the pipeline would be the landscaped median down the center of Linebaugh Avenue. “It’s a 24-inch pipe, which we would have to raise three feet off the ground.”

Hunter explained that the elevation of the reclaimed water pipe was necessary because of the reclaimed irrigation in the median. “Reclaimed water is very acidic. If we let it hit the outside of that pipe, it will deteriorate very quickly and start leaking. Raising it gets it out of the way of the sprayers.”

“But it puts it more obviously in view,” observed Lewis.

“That is why we’re willing to offer aesthetic mitigation.” Hunter explained that if the board picked the above ground reclaimed pipeline of Option 2, the county would provide acrylic paint for the pipe’s exterior. “First, it adds protection from reclaimed water. Second, it would allow the community to hire a painter to camouflage the pipe by painting it with grass, flowers, hedges and trees.”

Hunter added, “For many communities, these painted pipes become popular aesthetic additions.”

“I love this idea!” Supervisor Griffith said. “I am all about bringing art to the community. Rather than try to camouflage it with pretty greenery, we have an opportunity here.”

Griffith stated she would like to see the district commission several muralists to tell the story of the history of the Northwest along the length of the pipeline. “Either that or we could have a juried arts competition over the Fourth of July weekend, turning it into a fun festival.”

“That could get pretty expensive,” observed Chesney. “I would hate to have the district have to pass on the purchase of the golf course simply so we could artistically paint our new pipeline.”

“If funds are an issue, then we go to Westchase and Lowry Elementary, Davidsen and Alonso. We offer their kids the paint they need, divide the pipe into individual sections and tell them, ‘Have at it!’”

“Personally,” said Lewis. “I’d prefer to see the pipe become the official Westchase graffiti wall like they have up in Gainesville. It’s on 34th Street up there. It runs over 1,000 feet and all the University of Florida campus organizations and frats get a section that they get to paint every year.”  

“That might help reduce the tagging in the Baybridge Park pedestrian tunnel,” observed Field Supervisor Doug Mays.

Lewis continued, “We could give a section to each organization or business in the community, from the Westchase Seniors Group to World of Beer.”

“If I could offer a different approach,” suggested Ross. “While I love the enthusiasm that Supervisor Griffith and Lewis have for their ideas, I think we have a responsibility to maintain Westchase standards. The pipe has to be painted. But let’s just paint it one color, say green, and then have each resident who moves into the community coat one of their hands in a paint color and press it against the pipe. Over the course of years, we will have thousands of different hands that come together and make Westchase a community.”

Supervisors debated their preferred approaches to the pipe for 45 more minutes, with Lewis and Griffith ultimately backing Griffith’s mural idea and Ross and Mills backing Ross’ Hands Across Westchase approach.

When the board pressed Chesney to cast the vote for the tiebreaker if residents choose Option 2, Chesney said, “I actually like both ideas. So I’m going to propose a compromise. I think we should do the Hands Across Westchase thing down the north side of the pipe and Supervisor Griffith’s more artistic murals down the side of the pipe that faces south.”.

Closing discussion, supervisors decided to postpone their choice between Option 1 (tearing up the road) or Option 2 (using the painted pipeline) until their May meeting. “In the meantime,” said CDD Chair Mills. “We want to hear from residents. We would ask WOW to request that residents email us and let us know if they prefer Option 1 or Option 2 and why.”

Residents are asked to email supervisors, whose contact information appears on page 91, by Friday, April 6.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Editor’s Note: In keeping with WOW’s annual April Fools’ tradition, this article (and only this article) is a complete fabrication. If you know of someone who got fooled (including yourself), be sure to let us know at editor@westchasewow.com. We’ll publish the best e-mails in May’s WOW.

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Westchase Spring Garage Sale Is May 5

It’s time to finish your spring cleaning!

The Westchase Spring Garage Sale is Saturday, May 7. The sale is one of two such events held annually on the first Saturdays of May and October. (The Westchase Fall Garage Sale is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018; please mark your calendars.)

The garage sale hours run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. In order to improve traffic flow and access by emergency vehicles, the Westchase Community Association (WCA) asks that residents not sell food items or collect outside items for sale as part of a large, charitable event. While there is no charge for Westchase residents to participate in the event, those residents who wanted items to appear on the Big Ticket List needed to e-mail their information to the association manager’s office at officemanager@wcamanager.com by Tuesday, May 1.

Printable copies of the Big Ticket List will be available on http://www.WestchaseWOW.com and www.westchasewca.com. They will also available at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center.

All unsold items can also be donated to Goodwill, which will have two donation locations around Westchase from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. On the day of the garage sale Goodwill will have trailers from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the health clinic parking lot, located at 10509 W. Linebaugh Ave. Each weekend Goodwill also has trailers at the Primrose School, 12051 Whitmarsh Lane, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Donations of clothing and household items will support Goodwill's services for people who are disabled, elderly or unemployed. Goodwill cannot accept mattresses, box springs or televisions. They will provide a receipt for tax purposes.

For answers to questions about the sale, please call the Westchase association manager at 926-6404. For more information about the Goodwill donation locations, please call (888) 279-1988, ext. 1440.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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It’s Time to Think Camp

Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time for parents to find something to keep the kids occupied until the school bell rings in August.

Thankfully, Tampa Bay is chock-full of camp options that meet both the interests of children and the scheduling needs of parents. While the options are plentiful, there is much to take in consideration when finding the right camp experience for your child. 

Knowing the Benefits of Camp

Before beginning the camp search, it’s important to understand the importance of camp. While parents often look to summer camp to keep kids supervised during the school-free days, camp is much more than just another childcare option. Experts agree that camp is essential to the education of the whole child, offering fundamental life lessons such as leadership, teamwork, empathy and problem solving. “Camp is just one of the many components of youth development. Camp is like a classroom without walls where kids learn in a different way than they do in the more structured settings of school and daycare,” said Katie Johnson, southeastern field office executive director with the American Camp Association.

The benefits of camp are many. Below are just a few of the reasons camp is good for kids:

Camp keeps kids active. According to surveys by both the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an American child is six times more likely to play a videogame on any given day than to ride a bike. The variety of activity that fills the camp day keeps kids away from the screen and on the move.

Camp fosters independence. Camp offers the perfect opportunity for kids to manage their daily choices in a nurturing environment without parents and teachers guiding every move.

Camp helps prevent summer brain drain. Research indicates that participation in intentional programs, like camp, helps reduce summer learning losses. The experiences at camp foster problem-solving skills that will carry over into the school year.

Camp lets kids try out new skills. Camp gives children the chance to break free from everyday expectations and try new skills in an environment that has no grading scale. The laid-back atmosphere at camp offers the ideal setting for kids to discover and develop the things they truly enjoy.

Camp reinforces the art of communication. In our technology-laden society, kids tend to communicate more through texts and tweets than through social interaction. Camp encourages kids to put down the gadgets and rely on communication that is based on teamwork and cooperative play.

Understanding Different Types of Camps

Camp offerings are as varied as the millions of children who attend camp each summer. Summer camps generally fall into three categories: traditional day camp, specialty day camp and resident camp.

Traditional day camps offer an affordable and well-rounded option for parents looking to sign their child up for a full summer or just a week here and there. Traditional day camps offer a wide variety of activities throughout the day and often incorporate field trips. We are fortunate to have three wonderful traditional day camp programs right in our own back yard: The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center Camp tennis and activity camps and the summer camp offered through the Westchase Recreation Center.

The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s two camps offer weekly full-day and half-day options. The days are jam-packed with swimming, arts and crafts, traditional camp games, as well as a weekly field trip. Discounts are offered to Westchase residents. The Westchase Recreation Center summer camp is offered in two-week sessions and the days are filled with activities including nature exploration, fitness, sports, crafts, reading and field trips.

Specialty day camps are those that focus on a specific activity with the intent of allowing campers to increase their knowledge and proficiency in it. Specialty camps are on the rise and there is a camp for practically every interest imaginable – from musical theater to flag football and everything in between. Many specialty camps will also include more traditional camp activities, but the main focus is on the activity at hand. 

Resident camps (or what used to be known as sleep away camps) are designed for campers staying at camp from several days up to eight weeks. Campers sleep overnight in cabins, tents or dorms and participate in a variety of supervised activities. For children who fair well away from home, resident camps offer the ultimate lesson in building independence and autonomy. Like their day-camp counterparts, resident-camp themes run the gamut from dedicated sports camps to music camps to the more traditional rustic camp experience. Choosing to send a child away for a week, or even an entire summer, can be overwhelming, and the American Camp Association’s Find a Camp feature (http://www.acacamps.org/findacamp) is a great place to start. Because camps accredited through the ACA meet up to 300 standards for health, safety, and program quality, you can rest assured your child will be in good hands. 

Finding the Right Camp

While budget and proximity to work and home are important factors to consider during the decision-making process, the interests and personality of the child must also be taken into consideration. “Camp is so much more successful when the child has a say in the decision,” Johnson said. 

Of course, safety is always at the top of every parent’s list of priorities when turning their child over to someone else’s care. “The core elements of the health and safety of the kids always need to be a part of the camp experience,” Johnson added.

A well-run camp should be readily able to answer questions regarding its staff-to-camper ratio, procedures that are in place should a child become sick and what background checks are required for camp staff. A quality camp should also be able to supply a list of camp parents who are willing to share their experiences with the camp. For a complete list of questions to ask when researching new camps, visit http://www.acacamps.org/campers-families

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Making Camp More Affordable

A great camp experience does not come cheap, but there are ways to make camp more affordable.

Assistance offered from camps: Check with the camp of your choice to find out if they offer special discounts – for everything from early registration, multiple weeks or multiple enrollments from one family. Parents should also investigate scholarships or “camperships” offered by many camps and not simply assume their income doesn't qualify.

Assistance offered from the U.S. government: A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account offers tax savings by allowing parents to pay for childcare or adult dependent care expenses that are necessary to allow them to work, look for work or attend school full-time with pre-tax money. Visit http://www.fsafeds.com for more information.

Furthermore, through the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, the IRS allows an income tax credit on dependent care expenses. The amount of the credit is based on adjusted gross income and applies only to your federal taxes. This can apply to qualifying day camp expenses as well. Visit http://www.irs.gov/ for more information.

With the right amount of research and planning, summer camp can be a wonderful experience that will provide your child with memories and skills that will last a lifetime. Happy camping!

By Karen Ring

Summer Camp Summaries 2018

WOW thanks the following summer camps for helping to bring you the Summer Camp Special.

Adventures in Engineering
(813) 454-3115
Each week AIE campers will gain a hands-on STEM education! While practicing teamwork and innovative thinking, they will perform exciting engineering design and technology challenges.

AGA Westchase
813-551-2144
Full and half-day summer camps and enrichments offered. Check our website for programs and registration! Visit http://www.agawestchase.org or email frbolanos@agabroward.org.

Berkeley Summer Programs
(813) 885-1673
With over 100 unique camps and classes, Berkeley has something for everyone: sports, fine arts, enrichment, and academic credit courses. Many new tech offerings! June 4-July 27. Visit http://www.berkeleyprep.org/summer

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CAMP IDS at Corbett Prep
(813) 961-3087
Over 100 full- and half-day camps. PreK3-high school. June 11-July 27. Before- and after-care. Bus service. Fine arts, engineering, academics, technology, languages, cooking and more. Visit http://www.corbettprep.com

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Carrollwood Cultural Center
(813) 922-8167
Through art, music, dance and drama campers ages 4-12 will explore a different theme each week in a creative and safe environment. June 4-Aug. 10. Visit http://www.carrollwoodcenter.org

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Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science
(813) 793-6085
Join us at Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science for eight weeks of summer adventure, excitement and tons of fun! All age groups K- 8! Contact: bmatos@hillsboroughacademy.com.

In The Breeze Horse Academy, Inc.
(813) 264-1919
Not for profit academy. All we do is horses. Our 25th year. "Any day the children are not in school, is camp day at ITB." Theme: swimming with the horses.

Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy
(813) 969-0240
Explore the world of performing arts. Dance, sing, and act with our professional instructors. Half/full-day camps, boys bootcamp, musical production, ballet intensives. Evening classes available!

Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA
(813) 249-8510
Get ready for the best summer ever! Our fun-filled camp options allow campers from preschool age to teens to enjoy sports, arts and crafts, swimming, games and more! http://www.tampaymca.org/bestsummerever

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Smart Start Pre Prep Summer Camp
(813) 855-7333
Our summer camp includes all meals, three field trips per week, an 1,800-sq.-foot game room, a large outdoor playground and fun, weekly educational themes.

West Tampa Wolves Lacrosse
(813) 600-9993
Summer lacrosse? Look no further than West Tampa Wolves Lacrosse Camp, focusing on an introduction to lacrosse as well as skills development. http://www.wtwolves.com for dates!

Westchase Activity Camp
(813) 855-0662
Want your children to enjoy a safe, fun summer right here in Westchase? Come join us for swimming, arts and crafts, field trips, games and sports activities.

Westchase Tennis Camp
(813) 855-0662
Learn the fundamentals of tennis through an action-packed week that will excite your child and inspire them toward a tennis-fitness lifestyle. Serving beginner players through the most advanced players.

The listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Summer Camp Special. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the camp directors and ask all relevant questions prior to engaging their services.

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Summer Camps and Elected Office

Blink twice and summer will be here.

It’s April, when one of WOW’s most popular traditions return.

Our Summer Camp Special, which begins on page 84, offers a look at why summer camp can be so beneficial to your children. Yet, not all camps are created equal. There are a number of important questions that you should ask of all camp directors before trusting your kids with them. Check out this important article by Karen Ring and it will help you discern which camps are deserving of your business. We thank all the camp directors who helped bring this special feature to you.

Of course, don’t overlook the Westchase Summer Activity Camp or the Westchase Tennis Camp. Both are incredibly popular with Westchase residents and non-residents alike and they fill up fast. So reach out to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center today.

This month’s WOW is filled with informative and entertaining articles. I want to particularly thank James Broome, WOW’s go-to photographer. Whenever we decide to do an important feature a story about an upcoming event or project, James always faces a challenge – how to capture something with the magic of Photoshop that has not yet happened?

James spent a good many hours trying to produce the artistic rendering  that reflects WOW’s feature story this month. James is a talented guy and we thank him for going above and beyond this month.
We hope you enjoy our feature and all of April’s informative articles. If you read them carefully and thoroughly, we guarantee you’ll be among the best informed residents in your neighborhood.

The mid-term election this November promises to be an exciting round of races. Many new folks are throwing their hats into the electoral ring for the first time. We’ll introduce some of these local residents in future editions. But there is still an opportunity for many residents to consider running for office. The Westchase Community Development District (CDD), along with the WCA, has a greater impact on our family’s daily lives than do any state legislator, governor or president. Yet every even numbered election year, seats on our CDD go uncontested. The incumbent often simply files to run and is automatically elected when he or she gets no competitor.

Two seats from your CDD will be on the ballot in November. You can still file to run for them. Just check out the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections’ website. The staff of that office is always very helpful and can walk anyone through the guidelines for filing to run for office. Deadlines are typically in June. There is no better time to serve Westchase than the present – and you’ll likely find it rewarding!

As always, we thank you for reading and ask you to please tell our valued advertisers you saw them in WOW.

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Village Voices: Road Repaving and New Neighborhood Officers

Radcliffe

We all watched in anticipation as the heavy equipment, street signage and mailbox hangers came in the second week of February.

Radcliffe’s long-awaited repaving project was about to begin.

And begin it did. In just one short week, all three of Radcliffe’s residential streets were completed, along with the entry street, Radcliffe Drive. Sidewalk fixes (ADA compliant corners, and bulges between sidewalk sections) both preceded and came along after the repaving effort. At press time, the crews had also completed Baybridge and were beginning work in The Shires, with sidewalk work in process. Shires streets should be done easily before March ends.

None of this would have happened so quickly without the determination of a number of solid Westchase leaders. Joe Odda, past chair of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), was the driving force on the entire Westchase repaving project. Past Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Joaquin Arrillaga was also instrumental in getting the program going. Of course, recent support from current GAC Chair Rick Goldstein and current President Ruben Collazo have helped push the project over the top.

There was, however, a lot of support from within Radcliffe itself, none more important than the efforts of Eric Holt, and then Middlebury residents Darrick and Violeta Sams (Darrick was also a WCA director at the time). Joe, Joaquin, Eric, Darrick, Violeta, Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman and Public Works Director John Lyons stood in the driveway at the Samses’ home almost four years ago this month, and pretty much convinced the leadership that this project was indeed necessary.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to these leaders for getting the project approved and started.

Radcliffe was proud to be the first village, and we look forward to the completion of all the scheduled roads here in Westchase.

By Keith Heinemann

The Vineyards

Hello, Vineyards Residents!  We would like to take a moment and thank two of our outgoing board members, Kevin Kwan and Mike Florio, for their service and dedication to our community over the years! Our 2018-2019 board members are as follows: Lynn Adamson, president; Ann Parker, vice president; Nicole Robertson, secretary; Blakley Echeverry, treasurer; and David Wynne, member-at-large.

One of our priorities this year is to keep you informed! Please stay tuned for more information regarding social events, landscaping projects and just general info!  If you haven't done so already, please register on our website: http://www.westchasevineyards.org And i.f you have a login, please take a moment to review your profile and make sure your email address is accurate. You can also follow us on our Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/86727294155/

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If you are due to paint the exterior of your home, you should have received an updated copy of approved colors.  If not, you can find the list on our website.

If you have any questions or comments, please email vineyardshelp@yahoo.com

By Nicole Robertson, The Vineyards Secretary

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WCA President Suspends Street Parking Enforcement Over Easter and Passover

In anticipation of visiting friends and family this weekend, the WCA President contacted WOW and asked us to inform residents that he has suspended its parking enforcement over the holiday weekend.

WOW staff wishes all observant residents a happy Passover and Easter!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Online Payment Processing System Working

If you were hoping to register and pay for Westchase swim and tennis programs online at http://www.westchasewca.com you c,an now do so again. During the first week of March Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo contacted WOW to publicize a work-around to the association’s non-functioning online payment option, which had broken. Collazo contacted WOW on Thursday, March 15 to announce that the online payment processing system was working again. “We managed to patch it up,” he wrote.

To register and pay for Westchase programs, simply visit http://www.westchasewca.com and click on Westchase Recreation.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Northwest Hillsborough County Under Rabies Alert

Following several incidents where rabies has been found active in local wildlife, the Florida Department of Health has placed portions of Northwest Hillsborough County under a rabies alert.

The alert area lies outside of Westchase proper but residents are still advised to take precautions. The alert area runs from County Line Road to the north and Kennedy Boulevard to the south and includes the area between Interstate 75 to the east and Veterans Expressway to the West. The alert will last 60 days.

Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease that attacks the brains of warm-blooded animals, including humans. It can be prevented but not cured. It is also easily transmitted from animals to humans by exposure to the saliva of infected animals through open wounds, scratches or exposure to the mouth, nose or eyes. Any person who has been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County at (813) 307-8059.

How can you protect yourself and your pets from exposure to rabies?

  • Have your pets vaccinated for rabies and ensure they get revaccinated on dates specified by your veterinarian. (A one-time rabies vaccination does not last forever.)
  • Ensure your pet avoids contact with wild or stray animals.
  • Do not let your cat or dog wander alone. In addition to protecting them from predation, keeping your pets on leash (required by county law) ensures that you are aware of any contact they may have with wild or stray animals.
  • Don't feed wild or stray animals.

If your pet is attacked by a wild animal, wear gloves when examining your pet. Wash your pet with soap and water to remove saliva from the attacking animal. And do NOT let your pet come into contact with other animals or people until your pet is examined by a veterinarian and the incident is investigated by the county's health department.

For more information, see: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/professionals.html

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From the President, April 2018: Late Assessments Trigger Legal Action and Fees

Unfortunately this year we have had an unusually high number of delinquent annual assessment payers.

Approximately 270 out of 3,512 members of the association (or seven percent of the total) have not paid their annual assessments. These assessments are now on their way to our attorney for collection. I implore you. If you fall into this non-payer category, please remit your payment as soon as possible. You are now subject to the late fee, plus interest, plus attorney’s fees.

The worst part is that attorney’s fees tend to rack up pretty quickly. In a very nominal amount of time, your $275 annual assessment could multiply by five or ten times that number! And sadly I’ve seen that happen. So please pay your invoice immediately. As I have said many times before in previous articles, it drives me insane when I (as president) have to sign off on legal authorization to collect HOA dues. There is absolutely no reason that a $275 annual assessment should accumulate thousands of additional dollars in legal fees. But unfortunately it happens. And it leaves me dumbfounded every time I see it happen. Please don’t let this happen to you.

This is also that time of the year when we solicit feedback regarding updating our deed restrictions and guidelines. During this feedback season we collect suggestions for amendments, edits, updates or fixes to our existing documents. We flesh out the suggestions and take them to a community-wide vote. So if you have any suggestions for deed restriction or guideline updates, please send them directly to your voting member (VM). Your voting member will then collaborate with the other voting members to ascertain your suggestion’s feasibility and oversee its possible inclusion in our rules amendments.

Also in a very short four months from now we will be sitting down to discuss next year’s annual budget for the association. If you have any ideas that you’d like to see implemented at our facilities, now is a good time to gather them up and submit them to your voting member for consideration by the voting members assembly.

Last, you may have noticed a great deal of construction and renewal activity in and around Westchase lately. That’s not by accident. We have many Westchase volunteers to thank for all of this activity around us – people who currently serve on boards and committees as well as people who have served on past boards and committees. Westchase has been very well served by a multitude of dedicated, talented, motivated and effective volunteers.

Thank you to all of you who have made all of these achievements possible. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for reading. I can always be reached via email at theshires@verizon.net. Feel free to send me your thoughts and suggestions on any matter or subject relating to Westchase. I’m always on email, so I typically respond to emails within hours.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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Pool Facilities and Management Office Repainted

Happy spring everyone!

Our odd temperatures over the last few weeks have taken its toll on a lot of landscaping. With the warmer temperatures, now is the perfect time to spruce up those garden areas, lay down some fresh mulch and maybe put it a few colorful flowering plants to add that extra pop to your property.

We offer some monthly reminders. March 15 was the final deadline to make your payment to Westchase for the 2018 annual assessment, due in January. If you didn’t make your payment, then your account has already been sent to legal counsel for collection. Additionally, your use rights to the facilities will be suspended until your account is paid in full. This applies to the tenants of the unit and any guests of the household. If you receive a notice from the association’s attorney, please contact them immediately to avoid any additional costs.

Next month our spring garage sale is May 5. Don’t forget to email Charlotte Adams, one of the Westchase association managers, your list of goods that you want to sell on our Big Ticket List. You can email Charlotte at officemanager@wcamanager.com. This list gets posted on our website and printed and posted at the two pools.

Our pool facilities have gotten a bit of a facelift these last few weeks. Both have received a complete paint job, giving the buildings a fresh, clean look again. Additionally, with it being eight years after its construction, the management office has also been repainted. We’ve installed new light poles and LED lights on the pool deck Westchase Swim and Tennis Center off Countryway, providing a brighter swim experience before sunrise and after sunset. As our facilities age, we will continue to look at areas that can use some updating.

As always, we are here to assist and guide Westchase residents with their questions and concerns. Please drop by our office at 10049 Parley Dr. next to the West Park Village Swim and Tennis Club or contact us at 926-6404 or through email at manager@wcamanager.com.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Chipotle to Host Fundraiser for Alonso Lacrosse

Looking for an easy—and tasty—way to support Alonso boys lacrosse?

The West Park Village Chipotle (9466 W. Linebaugh Ave.) has generously agreed to donate 50 percent of all proceeds raised the evening of March 27. All you have to do is visit the restaurant between the hours of 4-8 p.m., tell the cashier you are there to support Alonso Lacrosse, and place your order. Dine in and take-out orders will count toward the team’s total, however, online and gift card purchases will be excluded. Remember, the more you buy, the more the team benefits, so be sure to bring the whole family.

By Les Young

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Westchase Recreation Center Programs: March

Adult

Zumba
Join Greg and Peggy to dance and enjoy Caribbean rhythms.
When: Sat, 10 a.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Insane Fit Girls
Small group fitness training exclusively for women and tailored to your personal fitness level and goals in a supportive and safe group setting. Please email elaine@insanefitgirls.com.
When: Tue, Thu, Fri, 9:15 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Badminton
Recreational play for adults to socialize, exercise and have fun!
When: Wed, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Seniors

Senior Field Trips
The first Thursday of every month seniors are offered a chance to take a variety of destination trips. To reserve your spot please call 964-2948. We are always looking for new ideas!

Thu, March 1: Strawberry Festival
Thu, April 5: Tampa Fun Boat
Thu, May 3: Tarpon Springs

Seniors Outdoor Active Recreation (S.O.A.R.)
Seniors will have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful parks and resources with a guided tour.

Tue, March 13:  Green Swamp

Ballroom Dancing
No experience or partner required. Enhance your social skills and exercise while having fun!
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Aerobics Lite
A fun movement class designed for active seniors who love to stay fit while exercising to music.
When: Tue, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $2/Class

Yoga
Come to the gentle yoga class and learn how to tone and stretch your body while incorporating ancient practices to calm the mind and rejuvenate the spirit. (No class on March 1.)
When: Thu, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Chair Yoga
Chair Yoga is designed for those who find it challenging to get up and down from the floor. It is also appropriate for those with balance issues. In this class, classical yoga poses will be taught with the aid of a chair. (No class on March 1.)
When: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Pickleball Instruction Beginners*
Learn the fundamentals and rules of the game. Please call to schedule: 964-2948.
When: Mon, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m.  
Cost: Free

Pickleball Open Play*
Pickleball is a racquet sport combining the elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sat 2-4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Pickleball League Play*
Compete against other players at your skill level in league play. Please email kingsburym@hcflgov.net for more details.
When: Fri, 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Tone and Stretch
Exercise to build strength and flexibility and increase range of motion.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Walking Club
Rain or shine, the gym is open. Join your friends and track your progress.
When: Mon-Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Appy Hour
Bring your cell phone or tablet and learn how to use the latest apps.
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Youth

Playing with Clay
Explore multiple ways to create and decorate works of clay art. All creations will be kiln fired and painted the following class. Parents must stay and help children under 5.
Ages: All ages
When: Fri, 10 a.m.
Cost: $10+$2 materials fee per class; each project requires two classes

Hip Hop with a Purpose
Exploring the rich history and culture of Hip Hop dance. 
Ages: 8+
When: Fri, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Young Engineers
Join our fun and enriching science class where you’ll study a principle of physics, mathematics and mechanical engineering through experiments using original and motorized LEGO bricks. For more info email tampafl@e2.youngengineers.com.
When: Tue, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class plus one-time $10 registration fee.

Arts and Smarts
Hands-on enrichment classes featuring a variety of topics. Visit http://artsandsmartsinc.weebly.com or email artsandsmartsinc@gmail.com for class topics and registration information. It’s fun and learning – together.
Ages: 8 and up
When: Thu, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class

Pure Art
While working with a variety of materials and techniques, learn about famous artists (http://www.purearttampa.com).
Grades: K-5
When: First and third Sat, 9:30 -10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-noon
Fee: $10/Class

Karate Do
Increase fitness, strength, flexibility and awareness. Karate teaches practical self-defense while reducing stress and tension and improving self-confidence.
Ages: 4 and up
When: Mon, Wed, 6:15 p.m.; Sat, 11:15 a.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Karate Do Black Belt Society
All black belts are welcome!
Ages: 15 and up
When: Sat, 2 p.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Girls Elementary Volleyball
Learn the basic skills and fundamentals of competitive play and have lots of fun!
Ages: Grades 3-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Girls Middle School Volleyball
Join our character-based program teaching volleyball skills, fundamentals and footwork.
Ages: Grades 6-8
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Tots

Toddler Time*
Activity zones are placed throughout the gym for toddlers to explore and socialize and play on with parent participation.
Ages: 5 and under
When: Thu, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Music and Mi
Join our fun and educational approach to social, cognitive, self-esteem development. Classes include nursery rhymes, music and movement, sensory play and much more. Visit http://www.facebook.com/musicandmi/ or contact dunialr@gmail.com for more information. 
Ages: 10 months-4 years
Cost: $3 registration; $5 per session.

Basketball*

Middle-School Basketball*
Participants must be signed up in the Rec Trac system to participate in Open Gym.
When: Fri, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

High School Basketball*
Participants must be signed up in the Rec Trac system to participate in Open Gym.
When: Fri, 7:30-8:45 p.m.
Cost: Free

Family Open Gym*
Gym is open to families.
When: Sat, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Adult Open Gym*
When: Thu, 6-9 p.m., and Sat, 7:30-11 a.m.
Cost: Free

*Online account required to participate.

All activities take place at:

Westchase Recreation Center
9791 Westchase Dr.
Tampa, FL 33626
(813) 964-2948

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Westchase Q and A: Favorite Flicks

This month we asked residents: What is your favorite movie?

Eva Skarshinski, Village Green

I would say my favorite movie is "Forrest Gump." I saw it when I was in high school. It's such an entertaining and feel good movie and there's so much current American history and music woven into the plot that it holds your interest from start to finish. I have a 10 and 12-year-old I want to share it with when they're a little bit older. I also have a 4 and 2-year-old and they like "Frozen" and the other Disney movies but they're not really obsessed with them. They are obsessed with the movie "Annie" though. I bought a DVD for them to watch in the car and it is now their all-time favorite film. Something happened the other day and my 4 year old said in a loud voice, "Leaping Lizards!" They also insist on calling our new puppy Sandy even though that's not his name.

Debbie Clark, The Greens

I like comedies and thrillers the best. I don't mean real violent thrillers or science fiction, I mean films that make you think and have a lot of suspense. The Brad Pitt film "Seven" was terrifying in a good way. My favorite comedy is Steve Martin's "Father of the Bride." He is so funny trying to plan his daughter's wedding. I can relate. I have two daughters and planned their weddings. I also owned a Florist Shop in Plant City for over 30 years before I retired and saw lots of things from the shop in the film. I like to go out to the movies but Netflix is very convenient when you just want to stay home. One of my all-time favorite films is "Gone With The Wind." My daughters like it too and it's nice to share that with them. We are "real southern ladies" even though we're originally from Ohio.

Edwin Katabaro with Lily, Brentford

Any Disney movie. We have two young daughters under 3 and we watch a lot of Disney. We also love going to Disney World and seeing the characters. I can sing all the songs in "Frozen" and “The Lion King." It's hard to go out to the movies, so at this stage of our lives, we are more likely to watch movies on TV through Netflix and Amazon Prime. For me, I like all the Marvel Universe films. I'm really looking forward to seeing their newest super hero, "The Black Panther."

Allan Gordon and Dulca, West Park Village

I'm not sure I'm the best one to ask about their favorite movies. I think the last movie I actually went out to see in a theater was "The Shining." I don't watch them on TV either. If someone broke into our house and stole the television set, I'm not even sure that I'd notice it was missing. My wife likes to go out to the movies. In fact she and her girlfriends are going to the "The Greatest Showman" tonight. I prefer to listen to music. When I come home from a tough day at work, I put on some music. That's how I relax and get my entertainment. I also like to read. I'm a private pilot so much of my reading is about aviation and is technical in nature.

By Phil Dean

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Mexican Food without the Frills

Looking for a Mexican restaurant with good food and a casual atmosphere?

Look no further – Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co. has what you need. Located on Sheldon Road where the old Gondolier pizzeria used to be, Victoria Tacos offers a good variety of Mexican fare in a super casual setting. Unlike its cousin, Senor Tequila (they have the same owners), Victoria is less sit-down restaurant and more grab-a-quick-bite bistro. Bistro might be overdoing it – there’s a very small bar area/entrance and one big room with 16 tables or so spread out. There’s not a lot of intimacy, but odds are that’s not really what you’re looking for in this place. It’s definitely no frills and is almost fast-foodish in the setup – think plain tables and plastic cups.

However, the restaurant does have staff that is available to seat and to serve you. On my visit, the place was slammed (a good sign, I thought), so our service was a bit slow. However, chips served with fresh salsa, a mean queso (an extra $4.25) and a pretty cheap beer kept us quiet and patient.

One complaint – I get that it’s trying to be authentic, and I appreciate the effort – but the majority of the dish names are in Spanish. While I’m sure there are many Spanish-speaking Westchasians out there, I’m not one of them. The dish details are in English, but it can be a little overwhelming to try to read through all the descriptions to figure out what to order, especially if you are trying to wrangle kids.

As is probably to be expected, the food we sampled tasted similar to the dishes of the same name at Senor Tequila. Still good – just not that different of a flavor. The steak fajitas ($14.99) featured a mound of grilled meat, peppers, onions and tomatoes on a sizzling platter along with the usual accompaniments. Like its namesake at Senor Tequila, the chicken chimichanga ($9.99) is stuffed with seasoned and shredded chicken, topped with queso and served with shredded lettuce and a dollop of sour cream. It tasted pretty much identical, too. However, it is served à la carte, so no beans and rice for you (not that you’d have room for them, anyway).

The real winner at Victoria Tacos y Cerveza, in my opinion, is the fish taco (a steal at only $3.50). Since moving to Tampa, I have found very few fish tacos that I would say are “delicious.” I’ve tried quite a few – California Tacos (too greasy), Rubio’s (pretty good), and several at local Mexican eateries (almost always blech). This fish taco, however, was honestly the best I’ve had in my six years here. Piping hot fried fish is served atop a fresh warm tortilla and dressed with cabbage and a tangy fish salsa. As he brought the dish out, my waiter said it was his favorite item on the menu – and for good reason. If you’ve never tried a fish taco, this would be the place to do so. I highly recommend it.

To finish, we shared a plate-sized sopapilla ($4). Arriving warm, dusted with sugar, drizzled with honey and decorated with whipped cream and cherries, tt was a nice finish to a satisfying meal.

Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co.
3.5 Stars
http://victoriatacosandcerveza.com
11625 Sheldon Rd.
(813) 328-4094

By Melanie Casey

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Library Officially Renamed Maureen B. Gauzza Library

If you’ve lived in the Westchase area for less than 12 years, you may take the public library on Countryway Boulevard for granted.

But if it were not for the hard work and dreams of one woman, you might be driving to Town ’N Country or Lutz when you wanted to visit the closest library.

Kingsford resident Maureen B. Gauzza was instrumental in bringing the library to the Westchase area and the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library Board celebrated and honored her at their January meeting. This fall the board renamed the Upper Tampa Bay Library after Gauzza and the official renaming was unveiled in January. Andrew Breidenbaugh, Director of Library Services said, “The words that came to the top of mind when describing Maureen are tenacity, stubborn, tireless and unflagging.” He continued by saying that she was very deserving of the honor.

Greens resident Bobbie Muir, President of the Friends of the Library said, “Maureen’s determination about the library was about her community and everyone else.”

Friends of the Library Member and Westchase resident Bob Argus recalled the early days when the library was still a dream. “Maureen saw this plot of land on Countryway and became convinced that the library needed to be on this spot. She went to the CDD and convinced them to de-annex the land so that they would no longer collect taxes on it. It was the first time that had been done in Florida.”

Gauzza’s husband Charlie thanked everyone for coming and said that his wife would have been proud and humbled. “Maureen’s dream in 1998 was to have a beautiful library in the neighborhood. She had many friends and contacts who helped her achieve her dream.”

Charlie said that even after the library was built, Maureen continued to look for ways to improve it and make it a jewel in the community, from having the gazebo built to convincing Citrus Park Mall representative to donate statues. “From the whole family, we are very grateful to you for enabling her legacy to live on forever,” he said. “Thank you.”

By Marcy Sanford

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WOW in Hawaii and Canadian Rockies

WOW continued its far-flung travels with recent stops in Canada and Hawaii.

One of WOW’s favorite recent trips was its opportunity to travel to Hawaii with dozens of Alonso’s most talented students. The band was selected to participate in the annual Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony. In Hawaii, the band performed two 30-minute concerts, including one on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri battleship, where Alonso band parent Sandy Anderson took this photo of them holding WOW. WOW gives a special, proud shout out to these band kids for representing Westchase proudly at such an  important event!

Earlier in September, as Hurricane Irma was preparing to hit Florida, Jill and Scott Yantzer were safely far north with WOW in the Canadian Rockies. “The Lake O'Hara area in Yoho National Park shown in these pictures has limited access and we were very lucky to score tickets on the hiker shuttle bus four months before our visit,” wrote Scott Yantzer.

“We were very fortunate to have a smoke-free day as Canada had a record wildfire season,” Scott added. “In fact, the next park we had planned to visit, Waterton Lakes, was evacuated days before we were scheduled to arrive due to fire, which roared through the park destroying the visitor's center and 70 percent of the forested land.”

The Canadian Rockies are famous for their majestic peaks and their lakes with their eerie turquoise color. The lakes are glacially fed and the fine silt that the glaciers grind up as they progress down the mountains flows into the lakes. It remains suspended in the lake water for months, reflecting the sun and giving the lakes their famous tint, which fools some tourists into thinking that they’ve been dyed. The lake color is at its height in July and August and fades through the fall as the silt settles to the lake bottoms.

We thank the Alonso band (and Sandy Anderson) and the Yantzers for sharing their trips with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Spring Break Trips!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your spring break trips outside of Florida. Send in a photo of you or your family holding WOW in an interesting place, and you will receive between $60 and $100. Simply send the photos to Editor@WestchaseWOW.com with a few sentences about your trip and the location of the photo(s).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Going Above and Beyond

Community Development District (CDD) staff member Livan Soto knows Westchase like the back of his hand.

He daily goes above and beyond to keep our community parks, common areas and ponds in excellent condition.

Soto also went above and beyond to make a better life for himself when he left his home in Cuba in pursuit of the American Dream. The harrowing trip that lasted five days on the open seas in a catamaran with 11 other defectors was well worth it, he said. What he shares causes the listener to realize how fortunate they are.

Soto recalls his childhood as a happy one. His brother and he would play outside all day when they were not in school. “My home was two miles from the beaches so as a child, it was amazing,” he recalled.

His mother worked in the accounting department for the education system while his father worked as a field technician for Canon. “But as you get older, you realize the hard time your parents have just bringing food to the table,” he said.

Soto explained there was not access to the internet or any news outlets outside of Cuba. They had only two television channels, whose broadcasts were censored by government officials. Any news of the U.S. was always negative. “They never told the truth about the United States,” he explained.

Soto said as seniors graduated from high school, they had two choices. They could go to another school far away to attend classes during the day and then work on a farm in the afternoons or they could attend a technical school for five years. “I don’t like to be far from my family so I chose technical school, even though I didn’t like it,” he recalled.

Once he finished, he went to work with his father at Canon as a technician repairing copy and fax machines. He made what equates to five dollars a month. Soon he started to consider what other family members already living in the United States were telling him. “They would send money and clothes to us and tell us we needed to come to the United States.”

Though he made so little, Soto began saving his money.

He had a friend outside of Cuba who could get him in contact with someone who could help him get out. He never told his parents of his plan until just before he left because he did not want to worry them. After managing to save $6,000 for the escape, his last day in Cuba was Nov. 21, 2003. He told his employer he was going on vacation and went to tell his parents goodbye. “That was hard and they told me to be careful. But they never said don’t do it,” he shared.

It wasn’t until he arrived at the pickup location that he realized they would sail the seas in a catamaran. That was a better alternative than some people used, however. Soto explained that he had friends who died in their attempts when they tried tying inner tubes together to make the trip or even converting cars to boats. For five days, they slept at night and talked all day. With food and water onboard, there was not room for much else. They were constantly looking around in fear of being caught. During the last night, a violent storm set in. “It felt like the catamaran was going to split,” he said.

Fortunately, they made it safely to the Virgin Islands. They went straight to the Immigration Department, where they were given legal documents stating they would be allowed to stay for one year. From there, they took a plane to Miami. “It was so amazing to finally be here and see my family waiting for me.”

Although he couldn’t speak any English at the time, he obtained a work permit and landed a job loading trucks for $7.50 an hour. “Then I realized I did not like Miami. It’s like Cuba with money,” he said.

Eventually, he and his wife Addry, who came with him from Cuba, moved to Tampa. Fortunately, leaving Cuba was easier for his parents when they came three years ago under a Family Reunion Visa. His son Brayan, now 16, was born in Cuba and he lives here now as well. Soto and Addry are also parents to 10-year-old Brad, who was born in the U.S.

Soto couldn’t be happier with his CDD position. “When I go to work, I like to be happy. I love it here and I’m so happy with this community,” he said. And he has no regrets about the decision to make the U.S. his home. “Nothing is stopping you here,” he said. “You follow your dreams and you get what you want.”

By Lisa Stephens

Stephens, a resident of West Park Village, is always looking for interesting Westchase residents to profile. She can be contacted at lmsfla@verizon.net.

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CDD to Replace West Park Village Street and Traffic Signs

In February CDD Supervisors signaled that a change is coming to West Park Village.

Addressing West Park road signage’s non-compliance with state and county sign codes, the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) voted to replace it in coming months.

West Park Village, like Radcliffe and Harbor Links/The Estates, features decorative street signage that differs from Hillsborough County’s standard signs. When installed during the village’s construction at the turn of the millennium, West Park’s signs complied with then county and state codes.

No more.

“We can’t use the existing signs,” CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte told supervisors at the February meeting. “The code has changed.”

According to Whyte, there is an additional issue. The signs with the streets’ names are losing their reflectivity, making them difficult to read at night.

After several months of discussing the best way forward, CDD supervisors voted at their Feb. 6 meeting to replace West Park’s street and traffic signs. Complying with existing codes is necessary to protect the district from liability claims despite the fact that mere inches differentiate current West Park stop signs from those required by code.

Current code also requires signs to be break-away.

CDD supervisors approved a motion to accept a bid from Arete for $134,925 for new break-away posts and signs. In an effort to lessen costs, Whyte reached out to Hillsborough County, which has agreed to provide all the street and traffic signs that the new posts will hold at no cost to the district.

The only issue remaining is how costs will be distributed. West Park Village residents are currently assessed for district-maintained items unique to their villages, such as signage and alleys. At the meeting, it was unclear what funds were available to pay for the project. The district may end up paying for the project from its fund balance, essentially loaning the neighborhood funds necessary for the work, and then assessing its residents over several years to recoup the costs. Supervisors also plan to discuss how to recoup some of the funds from the commercial property owners and apartment complex whose tenants and patrons also rely on the signs.

CDD Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated the new signs should be ready for installation in six to eight weeks.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase Seniors Head for Seafood Exchange

On Thursday, March 8, at 11:30 a.m. Westchase Seniors will meet for lunch at a new restaurant in Westchase Town Center.

The Seafood Exchange Grill and Bar is a new casual dining restaurant whose vision is to serve the freshest and highest quality ingredients to ensure their guests have a great dining experience every visit. They serve a wide variety of seafood, salads, sandwiches and entrees that also include pastas, chicken, BBQ, and steak. Their full menu is available to see at http://www.seafoodexchange-wc.com/menu.php Pleas.e RSVP by March 6 to Lee Mook (tmook@themooks.org; 929-0440) or Diana Millman (kennethmillman@yahoo.com; 749-0129).

Valentine Pot Luck Dinner As is normal when the Westchase Seniors Group have a potluck dinner, the food was great and plentiful! Also, we had a good time as we visited with each other and got to know our neighbors better by hearing some of their fond memories. We want to thank Judith Mish and Beverly Mask, pictured here, for organizing and hosting this enjoyable dinner.

Day Trips Join us for the upcoming senior day trips, sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center. On Thursday, March 1 the recreation center will offer a trip to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the cost will be $5. On Thursday, April 5 the center will take you on a fun boat trip in downtown Tampa. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the cost will be $10. The trip on Thursday, May 3 take seniors on a trip to Tarpon Springs. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the trip is free.

Please make reservations by calling 964-2948. Space is limited so reservations should be made as soon as possible. You will be notified a day or two in advance if there is insufficient space for you. Unless noted otherwise, bring money for your lunch.

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9-10 a.m. Westchase seniors are invited to meet at the Westchase McDonald’s Restaurant for coffee, breakfast and friendly conversation. The coffee is free with any food purchase and the conversations are enjoyable. Grab your breakfast and join us. You can’t miss us – we are the “older” but “young at heart” people laughing and having a good time.

Put Life in Your Years If you are a Westchase resident over 55 years old and looking to enjoy life, join the Westchase Seniors Group and add some fun to your life. To get emails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to westchase.seniors@gmail.com or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473). It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Glenfield Student Wins County Arts Contest

Glenfield resident Gigi Granger-Welch won an Award of Excellence for a photograph she entered in the 2017 Hillsborough County PTA/PTSA Reflections Arts Program.

Founded in 1969, the national program engages nearly 300,000 students and their families in arts education activities each year by encouraging students to explore the arts for fun and recognition. The National PTA Reflections program gives students of all ages and abilities the opportunity to explore and be involved in the arts in an educational way.

Through the program, National PTA, Florida PTA and PTAs across the country urge students in preschool through grade 12 to create and submit original works of art in the medium of their choice – dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts There also is a special artist division option for students with disabilities to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in the program. Each year the competition has a different theme. Students are recognized each year for their artistic ingenuity to bring the theme to life in a way that is personal and meaningful. The theme of this year’s contest was “Within Reach.”

A seventh-grade student at Walker Middle Magnet School, Granger-Welch’s photograph features a close up of a viola with sheet music in the background. The sheet music on the left is for a beginner’s song while the sheet music on the right features a more advanced composition. She came up with the idea for her photograph while practicing her viola outside the orchestra room during school one day. “I was practicing The Pirates of the Caribbean theme music for orchestra ensemble and it occurred to me that you always have to start from the bottom and keep practicing if you want to be good at something.”

This is the second time Granger-Welch has entered the Reflections contest but the first time she’s won at the County level. She says she has been interested in photography for several years now and typically uses her cell phone to take pictures and then edit them. “I like the fact that you can capture a moment so you’ll always remember it.”

Granger-Welch’s photograph will now go to the state level. If it wins there, it will go on to the national level. State winners will be announced at a reception on April 21 in Orlando.

By Marcy Sanford

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Getting Off the Grid

Federico and Antonella Giovannetti had considered having solar panels installed on their Fords home for several years.

But it was a presentation at an electrical engineering conference that made them decide to take the plunge. “Originally the idea of going green was our motivation,” said Federico, “but I was skeptical about the cost. I had thought about it, but never really sat down to research it. I was at a local exhibit from the Institute of Electrical Engineers and Tesla was there talking about their cars. There was also a representative from their solar division and that was the push I needed to learn more.”

Now the Giovannettis are more than half way off the grid. While you cannot see anything from the front of their home, solar panels on the side and back of their roof provide 60 percent of the energy they consume. “We worked with TECO to install a two-way meter so that when we need energy from them, we can have it and they also pull from what we produce. We could have installed more panels,” said Federico, “but it would not have been as efficient because of the path of the sun.”

Based on their past energy consumption, the Giovannettis say their average energy bill for their 2,800 square foot house was around $300 a month. Now their bill should be a third of that. The difference will go to pay off the loan from Tesla. They estimate it will take eight to 10 years to repay the loan and begin fully realizing the savings from the system. “We were comfortable with making the move in order to go green,” said Giovannetti.

Since the couple are now empty nesters, the thought crossed their minds that they might want to downsize at some point. Yet Federico says that according to his insurance company, having a solar power system increased the value of his home by $30,000. Even though they are not sure how long they are going to stay in the house, they feel confident that they will be able to sell it at a premium price and recoup their investment if needed.

Giovannetti added that he felt very comfortable with Tesla because they are a proven company in the solar industry and took time to answer all of his questions. They even came out to his house to determine if his roof was a good candidate for solar panels. “If I was going to install new technology, I wanted someone that would be there for the long term,” he said. 

But there are multiple solar installation companies in the Tampa Bay area that install solar panels for homeowners. 

Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, EnergySage.com helps homeowners compare solar installation companies. Nick Liberati, Communication Manager for the company, explained, “EnergySage is like Expedia or Kayak but for solar shopping. We’ve made it as easy as possible for buyers and sellers of solar energy systems to find one another online. Our Solar Marketplace allows shoppers to comparison shop up to seven quotes online from local prescreened contractors in a way that insulates them from a pushy, misleading sales process.”

Everything from equipment to finance preferences can be stated and compared in an apples-to-apples format. Since EnergySage provides impartial content through a transparent marketplace, consumers are able to make an informed decision and are thus more likely to go solar and at lower costs. By efficiently connecting solar shoppers with multiple solar installers, EnergySage saves consumers 20 percent on installation costs and installers over 50 percent on customer acquisition costs.”

When many people think of solar panels, the first image that comes to mind may be ugly bulky panels. As in the Giovanettis’ case, however, often you will not even be able to see the panels from the front of the home. Some companies like Dow are now making solar roofs that look exactly like a regular roof’s shingles.

Giovannetti said they did talk to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) before installing their panels and that the only step they had to take was to paint the ducts to match the house. He said the WCA also had questions about how far the panels would extend from the roof but that by law an HOA cannot impede a homeowner’s use of solar panels.

As of now there are still federal tax credits offered for installing solar panels and Giovannetti said it was another deciding factor in moving forward.

“There are many different ways to design the system based on how much energy you want or are capable of producing and if you still want to be able to stay on the grid,” said Giovannetti. “It was a very good experience and we’re glad we made the switch.”

By Marcy Sanford

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MOMS Club Spreads the Love

February was filled with sweet treats and lovely meets.

The MOMS Club of Westchase kicked off the month of February with a Valentine’s Day-themed craft and play date in the park at North City Park of Safety Harbor. The tots loved decorating their hearts out with glitter, sequins and stickers galore. For lunch bunch this month, the kids helped make their own pizzas at the new Atlas Pizza in Highland Park, then enjoyed the pizzas they prepared at a picnic lunch in the park.

Mid-month the moms got together for another moms’ night in, featuring a fire pit, Valentine’s movie and, of course, cocktails. To wrap up the month the club hosted the very first Toddler Ninja Warrior at Westchase’s Baybridge Park, where the kids donned sweatbands and completed an obstacle course of fun and challenging activities.

The club also honored the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day with a financial contribution and we encouraged all our members to wear red on Feb. 2. The mission of National Wear Red Day is to help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.

During March the club will support March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to improving the health of mothers and babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

We continue to welcome new babies to our newest playgroup, the Jellyfish or “Jellies” as we like to call them. It’s made up of babies born between September 2017 through August 2018.

One of the many benefits to club members is our Sunshine Committee, where we sign up to bring meals to families who have just welcomed new babies. The meal train is an invaluable resource to our moms adjusting to life with an added member. As one member put it, “Thank you guys... we feel so blessed to be part of such an awesome support system!”

We are always looking to connect with new moms and local businesses – if you have a business or a babe, please visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure you’ll want us for keeps!

By Heather Dagostino

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What to Do with Cold-Damaged Plants

Record breaking freezing temperatures swept through Tampa Bay in January.

While it only lasted for a week, some homeowners realized that it had left behind lasting damage – dead-looking plants. Westchase Community Development District (CDD) Office Manager Sonny Whyte said that the CDD office heard from many concerned residents asking about how to tell if a plant was really dead and what to do if it is still alive but has frost damage.

Davey Account Manager Paul Kovacik, who handles the district’s landscaping, said the hardest hit plants in the area were Hawaiian Thai, Maui Ixora, Chinese Ixora and Variegated Arboricola. The easiest way to determine if a plant is dead? “Use your fingernail to scrape the stalk. If it is brown underneath, that is dead. When you see green, that is the part of the plant that is generally still alive,” he said. “Go two to six inches below the brown area and cut above the next lateral branch at a 45-degree angle so that water can run off of it. If you make a flat cut, the water can decay the plant.”

Kovacik added that by March it should be okay to begin pruning your plants.

If you do have to replace any dead plants, Kovacik says Viburnum Suspensum, Boxwood Holly and Indian Hawthorne are very sun tolerant while Ilex Schilling, Philodendron and Jasmine do well in the shade. All did well during this year’s cold snap and are very cold tolerant. (Check with your nursery, however, to see what our local voracious deer are eating.)

Other plants hit hard by the freezing temperatures were Firebush, Gold Mound Duranta and all varieties of crotons, but Kovacik said that you can cut any of these plants back to as little as four inches tall and that they will most likely rebound and re-flower.

“Starting in March you can fertilize and prune,” said Kovacik. “You shouldn’t need to worry about giving them extra water since they are already established. You want to have patience. Time heals all wounds.”

One resource that Kovacik recommends is the University of Florida Extension website. “You can find information for any landscaping problem,” he said.

A bit of good news? It had been eight years since the area had experienced temperatures as cold as we had this January. Hopefully any plants you do plant will have plenty of time to get established before the next record-breaking cold snap.

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Safe and Unscary Skydiving Fun

Have you always wanted to skydive but have held back due to a few nagging thoughts?

Like: can I really launch my body out of a plane? Will my legs break when I hit the ground? What do I do if the chute doesn’t open?

At iFly you can experience skydiving without having to worry about all those pesky safety issues and hang-ups. One short training session and you’re ready to go. Or, if you’re like me, one short training session and you’re ready to let the instructor do most of the work to keep you afloat.

Truly all you have to do is step into the wind chamber and lean forward. The 100-mile-an-hour winds do the rest and you can either float around or try out some spins and other airborne activities. Typically you’re about five to six feet off the ground, but during the high flight, you may soar up to 16 feet above the main base. iFly provides everything you need from a flight suit to earplugs and a helmet. Everyone was very helpful throughout the whole experience.

Operations Manager Jon Dixon says that iFly was originally started as a training facility in Orlando in 1998 but that they soon realized there was a lot of interest from people who had never skydived. “The technology was developed in the 1970s for civilian and military skydiving practice,” he said. ”Once we built the training facility in Orlando, people started asking about it.”

Now 20 years later, iFly has more than 60 locations across the U.S. “We have many non-skydivers who come in two to three times a week and treat this as a hobby. We have a variety of programs for kids and adults who want to pursue skydiving as a sport.”

In addition to individual fun flights and training sessions, iFly offers birthday parties, Scout and school field trips and sessions for people with special needs.

iFly opened in the Brandon area in 2016, joining Topgolf and Bass Pro Shops to make it a big-box entertainment destination. Now with the addition of Dave & Buster’s arcade and sports bar, you should be prepared to spend a good portion of your day exploring the area – especially if you’ve got kids with you. 

If you’re staying in Tampa this spring break and are looking for something out of the ordinary to do, consider making the drive to Brandon for daycare that everyone in the family will enjoy.

iFly
http://www.iflyworld.com/tampa
10654 Palm River Rd.
(813) 773-4359

By Marcy Sanford

Images courtesy of iFly.

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Spring Training is in Full Swing in Tampa Bay

Spring has sprung and that means it is time for one of the coolest, most accessible traditions in sports.

For more than a century, major league baseball teams have migrated to the warmer weather of Florida and Arizona to begin preparations for the season. In northern outposts, the wire-service photographs of baseball players working out underneath palm trees are nothing short of fantasyland, an unreachable nirvana.

For us, it’s an easy drive away.

Tampa Bay has long been a spring training hub with teams such as the New York Yankees (Tampa), Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater), Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin), Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton), Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota) and Detroit Tigers (Lakeland) located within an hour’s drive of Tampa International Airport.

Games are currently underway, making great choices for weekend activities, weekday diversions or spring break getaways. For those new to the experience, here’s a primer on spring training protocol:

Understand they are exhibition games

The idea is to look at young prospects and allow veterans to ease into action. Win at all costs? Not even close. It’s all about getting in work and studying potential lineup combinations.

Expect unfamiliar faces

Don’t see your favorite player out there? Especially early in spring training, it’s common to see no-names sprinkled throughout the lineup. If the stars are playing, once they get a few at-bats they are likely dressed and out the door before the game is finished.

Be smart about autographs

Spring training games are usually fertile ground to snag a few autographs, especially with the informal atmosphere. But here is the key: You must arrive early and you must be patient. This is the workplace for a player. They have limited time to prepare or make an impression. The best autograph strategy is to station yourself along the baselines or dugouts, getting the player’s attention as he enters or exits the field. It helps to actually know the player’s name. It’s always a good strategy to be polite and appreciative. It’s also handy to be a kid – or have a kid ask for the autograph. Getting autographs on baseballs or photographs has become a for-profit cottage industry, so players are responsive to giving an old-fashioned autograph for a starry-eyed kid. Also bring your own pen (and a backup) along with baseballs or autograph pads.

Use common sense

It’s usually very sunny and sometimes hot. Be sure to bring your sunscreen, and hydrate early and often.
 

Plan ahead

It’s better to buy advance tickets instead of showing up at the box office. Many games become sellouts and the premium seats can go quickly. Most ballparks do not permit personal coolers, backpacks, glass bottles or cans. Small umbrellas are usually allowed, along with blankets, which are handy for berm seating.

Tampa Bay Teams

New York Yankees: Steinbrenner Field, One Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa (813-879-2244).
Philadelphia Phillies: Spectrum Field, 601 N. Old Coachman Ave., Clearwater (727-467-4457).
Toronto Blue Jays: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin (727-733-0429).
Pittsburgh Pirates: McKechnie Field, 1611 Ninth St. W., Bradenton (941-747-3031).
Baltimore Orioles: Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota (941-954-4101).
Detroit Tigers: Joker Marchant Stadium, 2125 N. Lake Ave., Lakeland (863-686-8075).

A Dozen Can’t Miss Games

March 1 — Braves at Tigers, Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.
March 4 — Rays at Yankees, Tampa, 1:05 p.m.
March 6 — Braves at Blue Jays, Dunedin, 1:05 p.m.
March 7 — Red Sox at Phillies, Clearwater, 1:05 p.m.
March 10 — Rays at Phillies, Clearwater, 1:05 p.m.
March 10 — Mets at Yankees, Tampa, 1:05 p.m.
March 12 — Nationals at Tigers, Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.
March 14 — Yankees at Orioles, Sarasota, 1:05 p.m.
March 16 — Astros at Yankees, Tampa, 6:35 p.m.
March 18 — Red Sox at Pirates Bradenton, 1:05 p.m.
March 19 — Rays at Yankees, Tampa, 6:35 p.m.
March 23 — Red Sox at Yankees, Tampa, 1:05 p.m.

By Joey Johnston

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Crime in 33626: January 2018

33626 Crime: January
 

Battery-Simple

1/1

11500 Fountainhead Dr.

Burglary Business/No Force

1/2

10400 Sheldon Rd.

Theft from a Vehicle

1/2

9900 Brompton Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/3

9500 Tree Tops Lake Rd.

Grand Theft-All Other

1/4

12100 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drug Trafficking/Delivery

1/4

8600 Fawn Creek Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/5

11600 Maple Palm Wy.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

1/6

13900 Sheldon Rd.

DUI

1/7

W. Linebaugh Ave./ Countryway Blvd.

Drug Trafficking/Delivery

1/7

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Vehicle

1/7

12600 Bassbrook Ln.

Burglary Business/ Forced

1/7

11200 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/10

9700 Meadow Field Cr.

Drugs/Narcotics

1/10

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/11

11700 Derbyshire Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

1/11

Countryway Blvd./ W. Linebaugh Ave.

Grand Theft-All Other

1/12

14700 Coral Berry Dr.

Battery-Simple

1/12

10100 Montague St.

Battery-Simple

1/12

10500 Montague St.

Drugs/Narcotics

1/12

Sheldon Rd./S. Meadowview Cr.

Drug Paraphernalia

1/12

Sheldon Rd./ S. Meadowview Cr

Theft from a Vehicle

1/13

9700 Westchase Dr.

Theft from a Building

1/14

10000 Bradwell Pl.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

1/16

10900 Dale Stitik Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/16

10000 Parley Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/17

12200 Lexington Park Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

1/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery-Simple

1/20

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

1/21

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Prescription/Drug Fraud

1/22

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Grand Theft-All Other

1/23

12500 Maverick Ct.

Shoplifting

1/25

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Petit Theft-All Other

1/25

13500 Spotted Fawn Pl.

Shoplifting

1/25

8400 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/26

10300 Abbotsford Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

1/27

10000 Parley Dr.

Battery-Simple

1/27

11400 Crowned Sparrow Ln.

Drugs/Narcotics

1/30

Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

Fraud-Credit Card

1/30

14500 Cotswolds Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

1/30

10300 Greenhedges Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

1/31

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, February 2018

Oh, February’s fabulous fakery threw some folks off.

It’s been more than a year since we ran a fake ad that big.

Course Corrections on page 71 tweaked the month’s big news –  that the Westchase CDD is considering purchasing the Westchase Golf Course to protect the community. Protect it, that is, from a bleak dystopian future when the only remaining American golf courses will have those annoying windmills that whack your ball away from the hole.

The closure of 200 golf courses annually is causing old white guys everywhere to shudder. You know how hard it is to get well-lubricated playing 18 holes of mini golf? (You’re returning your putter before your finish your second beer!) Plus, the paths aren’t big enough for all the mini golf carts they need to get their exercise.

Fortunately, Course Corrections will step in. Instead of more nasty homes and apartments (People? No, thank you!), Course Corrections will build theme parks, community nuclear bunkers, American Ninja Obstacle Courses and Spring Break resorts, the only other national “exercise” that results in more drinking than golfing does.

Congratulations are in order for Mary Ellen Selesnick of Berkeley Square, whose correct fake ad entry was randomly selected by the fake ad gods. As the result, Mary Ellen will be avoiding all the hazards on her way to dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

Contest Rules: Tucked somewhere in this month’s WOW is a fake ad for a fictitious business or service. Email your guess, including the fake company name and its page number, along with your name and address by the tenth of the month to editor@westchasewow.com. Write Fake Ad Contest as the subject. One correct entry will be randomly chosen as winner each month.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase Artists Society Looks Forward to a Successful Year

The Westchase Artists Society began 2018 with excitement for the success of our artists and a renewed focus on interesting activities for the coming year.

In January we conducted elections of officers to guide us into new, exciting arenas in the local art world. Diana Ranstrom will continue as our fearless president and Judy Freeman has taken on the role of treasurer. The secretary position remains open at this time. We hope to reach more artists and art enthusiasts and be a positive presence in our community.

Under the direction of Jennifer Joyner, the Westchase Holiday Market on Dec. 10 at the Westchase Golf Club was the busiest yet. It featured many art, craft and food vendors, talented musicians and wonderful gift items for sale. Santa even made an appearance!

Local artists from the Westchase Art Society, as well as many other generous community patrons, stocked the raffles and silent auctions with artful baskets and unique gift experiences.

Its proceeds – almost $5,000 – went to benefit Autism Speaks, a wonderful cause which we all whole-heartedly support. We are very proud of Jennifer and her diligent, hard work in preparing and managing such an enormous event. The Holiday Market put the spirit of giving in the air and touched everyone. Thank you all who participated, either as a volunteer, vendor or patron.

The Westchase Artists Society invites all interested visual artists from the Tampa Bay area to join us. The Westchase Artists Society meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library on Countryside Boulevard. For more information, see us on Facebook or at http://www.westchaseartists.com

.

By Marilyn Chaulk

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Super Summer Sign Ups March 29

Conference Night is on Thursday, March 8 and the PTA will be on campus selling spirit sticks and discounted spirit shirts. Ten dollars will get you two T-shirts, and rhinestone shirts have been marked down to $20. A special spirit stick will be given away with every purchase.

Westchase will celebrate the end of the third quarter with Field Day on Friday, March 9. Our Wizards look forward to this fun day of activities, games, crafts and competitions. If you would like to be part of the fun, please sign up to volunteer!

Our spring Spirit Night at Skate World will be on Friday, March 23 from 6-8 p.m. Admission is $6 and skates are included (additional charge for roller blades). There will even be a free ice cream bar! Westchase teachers and staff receive free admission. All proceeds will benefit our fifth grade year-end activities.

Class, club and individual pictures will be taken on Tuesday, March 27 and Wednesday, March 28. Class and club pictures can be ordered for $10 each, and more information will come home regarding individual portrait sales.

Parents, summer is right around the corner! Don’t miss the opportunity to interview over 30 Bay area summer camps and programs for elementary through middle school children at our Super Summer Sign-Ups event – a vendor fair of summer fun activities. The event will be held on Thursday, March 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the MPR. And don’t worry about dinner. We’ll have free pizza, cookies and drinks for everyone. This event is not limited to Westchase families – all are welcome!

For more information, please check out our website: http://www.westchasepta.org and like us on Facebook.

Upcoming March Events

1           PTA Information Breakfast, 8 a.m. in MPR
1           Spirit Night at McDonald’s, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
8           Conference Night 
9           Field Day
12-16    Spring Break
23         Skate World Spirit Night, 6-8 p.m.
27-28    Club, Class and Individual Pictures
29         Super Summer Sign-Ups, 6 p.m. in MPR
30         Non-Student Day

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Abu and Alexa

My father-in-law leaned over and shouted into the metal cylinder. “PLAY SOME SALSA MUSIC!”

He stared at the cylinder, which, like metal cylinders everywhere, just sat there.

It was Abu’s seventy-fifth birthday. And we had just given him an enormous jar holding six pounds of peanut M&Ms.

Because Abu loves his peanut M&Ms.

And what else can you really buy for a wealthy guy who buys himself whatever he wants?

I mean, other than the go-to answer.

Drones. And in Abu’s case, you can just keep buying him drones.

He’s got six of them stuck up in the same palm tree in front of his Lakeland house.

Abu goes through drones like he does peanut M&Ms.

His son Robert had arrived during dinner and dropped off the package holding the cylinder. Then Robert quickly took off, before Abu could open it and ask him to set it up.

“I’ll be back tomorrow!” Robert shouted. The door slammed and Robert sprinted across the front lawn.

Because you never know what fresh tour of Hades lies in store when Abu innocently asks you to “just take a look at” something.

Five minutes after we arrived, Abu turned to me as I sat down on the sofa. “I need a little help,” he said.

I got up to sprint across the lawn but he blocked my escape.

“My new lanai pool lanai lights aren’t working. Would you be willing to just take a look at them?” He handed me the directions written down by the guy who installed them.  “I have to go pick up dinner,” he said.

Abu patted my shoulder like I was a high schooler about to try a 12-foot high pole vault for the first time. “I know you can do it!”

I looked down at the incomprehensible directions. “Did you actually try the on switch, Juan?”

Abu gave me a little offended look. Then he sprinted across the lawn.

I got up. And because I know nothing about electricity, I walked around his pool lanai for 40 minutes before I discovered Abu’s new lights weren’t actually plugged in.

When Abu returned, he threw his hands into the air. “Es un milagro!” he cried (It’s a miracle!).

(Apparently he didn’t really think I could do it.)

“I knew you could do it,” Abu said.

So when I glanced at Robert’s box, I got nervous. My mind flashed back to the guy who set up the entertainment system in Abu’s man cave, complete with eight recliners and surround sound. He took Abu’s check, handed him five different remote controls and sprinted across the lawn.

Abu immediately dropped three of them.

My brother-in-law Carl spent an entire Saturday setting up a single, universal remote for Abu.

Which Abu still hands to one of his 19 grandchildren to operate so he can binge watch all five Rocky movies.

Abu tore open Robert’s box.

“What’s this!” he cried, pulling out the metal cylinder.

“That’s an Amazon Echo,” cried Bee, 12, excitedly.

“It’s a miracle, voice-activated digital assistant you set up on your kitchen counter,” said Elf, 15. “And then you yell at it.”

If you’re not familiar with it, in a smart home, a digital assistant can change your thermostat, play music, dim the lights, fold your clothes and scrub the toilets.

OK, I lied about those last two. A digital assistant is actually a lot lazier than a real assistant.

But a digital assistant can tell you the weather and which U.S. president was nicknamed The Little Magician (Martin Van Buren). It can also helpfully answer all your child’s math homework questions, giving you time to chase the dog around the kitchen table in order to find out what foul thing is in its mouth.

“Alexa!” your child simply has to call out to the Echo. “What’s seven times five?”

Alexa’s calm, cool and slightly condescending voice responds. “Seven times five is thirty-five.” (You kind of wait for Alexa to add, “fool!” but she doesn’t. But she’s definitely rolling her digital eyes.)

Bee seized the Echo before I could stop her. “I’ll set it up for you, Abu!”

I groaned audibly.

Bee plugged the Echo in, hooked it up to the wifi then looked at her abuelo. “Spanish or English, Abu?”

Abu, who was born, raised and has lived his entire life in Puerto Rico, thought about this. “English!” he said.

Bee looked at me as if this was: A. BIG. MISTAKE.“It’s ready!” Bee proclaimed a few minutes later. “PLAY SOME SALSA MUSIC!” Abu shouted at it.“No, Abu.” Elf, 15, touched her grandfather’s shoulder. “You didn’t say its wake word.”

“Ahh, yes!” Abu nodded. He leaned over again and braced himself. He looked like he was about to swallow Alexa whole.

Abu shouted into the cylinder’s top. “WAKE UP AND PLAY SOME SALSA MUSIC!”

Elf snorted.

Abu picked up the metal cylinder and shook it. “Maybe it needs batteries.”

“No, Abu,” Bee said. “You have to say ‘Alexa.’ That’s its wake word.

“Ahh, yes!” Abu said.

Elf and Bee leaned in hopefully.

Abu placed his nose an inch from the Echo. “WAKE UP AND PLAY SOME SALSA MUSIC, ALEXA!”

Bee turned and tossed me a look that said, “This ship is goin’ down!”

Elf took over. “No, Abu,” she said. “You have to say ‘Alexa’ first.”

“Aah, yes!” Abu said.

His granddaughters giggled.

“WAKE UP AND PLAY SOME SALSA MUSIC, ALEXA FIRST!”

This from a guy who spent his adult life working as a highly respected cardiologist cracking dying people’s chests open and actually keeping them alive.

His granddaughters screamed with laughter.

Abu turned to me and shrugged.

Then he turned back and pointed at the useless cylinder. “Alexa, you’re fired!” Abu said.

The lights on top of the metal cylinder spun and changed colors. “Aww, man! I’ll just have to place a magic spell on you,” Alexa responded. “Abracadabra! I’m rehired!”

Abu looked at me amazed.

“Here, Abu,” I said handing him the enormous jar. “Have an M&M.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Newest Eagle Soars from Troop 46

The journey to Eagle Scout is a challenging one that tests leadership and commitment.

If you count all the hours devoted to Eagle Scout projects over the years, it becomes the single greatest youth service initiative in history.

Eagle Scouts earn a minimum of 21 Merit Badges, including 13 required to achieve the Eagle rank: First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizen in the Nation, Citizen in the World, Communications, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, Family Life, Cooking, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Swimming or Hiking or Cycling, and Environmental Science or Sustainability. In addition, Scouts can select additional merit badges to earn from another 137 current different offerings from moviemaking to metalwork.

Congratulations to Matthew Dawes of Troop 46 for achieving Scouting’s highest rank. Matthew, 15, has been on a Scouting journey for the past ten years, starting as a Tiger Cub with Pack 46 and serving as a Patrol Leader in Troop 46. He is now a sophomore at Sickles High School, where he is in the orchestra and on the swim team. In addition Matthew is a cellist in the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (TMYO) and an active member of Westtown Church. On the weekends you might find Matthew bagging your groceries at Publix in the Shoppes of Citrus Park. Matthew’s family has lived in Fawn Ridge since 1995 and his older brother Stephen is a freshman at Purdue University in Indiana.

The beneficiary of Matthew’s Eagle Scout project was the Children’s Home Network in Tampa. The goal of the Children's Home Network is to unlock the potential of at-risk children and families by providing compassionate and effective services that create opportunities for success. Children's Home Network’s main campus is the site of Kid's Village – a residential healing program. Here, children ages 6-17 reside in their care as they provide them with support after difficult circumstances such as abuse or neglect. Matthew sponsored numerous collection drives to gather personal hygiene products for the children and purchased 50 shower curtains and shower caddies to be donated to the children’s cottages.

Matthew has continued on his Scouting journey by achieving Eagle Palms. These are awards presented to young men who earn badges beyond the 21 Merit Badge requirement for Eagle and who set a good example of accepting responsibility and demonstrating leadership. He has earned 29 merit badges.

The Eagle Scout mentors from Troop 46 are Assistant Scoutmasters Scott Gerus and Scott Doster. They volunteer for the Troop by mentoring the Eagle Scout candidates.

The Scoutmaster of Troop 46 is David Smith and the Troop Committee Chair is Kim Smith.

Troop 46 meets most Monday evenings at First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway. Stop by anytime; no prior Scouting experience required to join.

By Tristan Goodrich

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Irish 31’s Paddyfest Family Fun Day Returns March 10

Irish 31 brings St. Patrick’s Day family fun back to West Park Village this month.

Irish 31’s Second Annual Paddyfest Family Fun Day on March 10 will include a full day of music, games, inflatables (including a massive obstacle course), entertainment, activities, face painting, and a special visit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Meet Captain Fear and show the Bucs Brigade your skills as you throw a mean spiral in their QB Challenge zone and shatter records during Play60 football drills! This family-friendly event also promises fun for the wee ones with a toddler play area, bounce house, carnival games and prizes.

As the benefiting charity for all Paddyfest events, our friends from Jaylens Challenge will also be on site talking to kids and their parents about how they too can help in the fight against bullying through words and experience, rather than with fists or name-calling.

Guests are invited to bring along their four-legged friends for both Paddyfest Family Fun Day as well as the after-party at the pub. Participants can take part in the raffles and giveaways, all to benefit Jaylens Challenge and its mission of promoting awareness and prevention of bullying through education and community service.

Paddyfest Family Fun Day

Date: Sat, March 10
Time: Noon-4 p.m.
Where: West Park Village Green
Cost: Free
More Info: http://www.paddyfest.org/events/family- fun-day/

By Melissa Maloney

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Davidsen Puts the “Fun” in Fundraiser

Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts students, teachers, staff and volunteers enjoyed another successful “Dragon Blast” fundraiser on Friday, Jan. 26.

This year’s ticket sales raised more than $9,000 to benefit the school, including the emerging arts program. Students enjoyed concession food and carnival games including basketball competitions, putt-putt golf, an obstacle course and more. All students enjoyed dancing in the sunshine with music from DMS favorite, DJ Danny.

Dragon Blast would not have been possible without outstanding community support from DMS Business Partners including PDQ, Bahama Bucks and Orange Theory. “We are so thankful for our Business Sponsors, and all of the amazing volunteers and staff who made this a positive event for our students,” said longtime Dragon Blast Chair Kristen DeAngelo. “Because of their generous donations of time, talent and treasure, all of our students were able to enjoy a fun afternoon. We raised money and kept our expenses very low. It truly shows how connected this school is to the community.”

Dragon Blast is an annual fundraiser and will need the help of a new chairperson next year. If interested in helping, please contact president@davidsenptsa.org.

The next PTSA General Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, March 22 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria. Food and drinks will be provided! All are invited to attend and learn more about the programs and events the PTSA supports at DMS, as well as the new volunteer opportunities for the 2018-19 school year.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be on sale March 23 for $10 a box. Proceeds will benefit the eighth grade events.

Did you just move? Do you have extra cardboard boxes lying around? Mr. Heath, DMS Art Teacher, needs cardboard boxes for his classes. Boxes should be flattened and can be dropped off in the front office.

The walls of our cafeteria have been painted with faux bricks by our art teacher, Mr. Heath. Personalize a brick to honor a student, teacher, or staff member. Bricks are $10 each. For more information contact waysandmeans@davidsenptsa.org

For more information on any Davidsen Middle School programs or events email president@davidsenptsa.org and be sure to “like” Davidsen Middle School PTSA on Facebook.

IMPORTANT MARCH DATES

6  PTSA Board Meeting, 9:15 a.m.
9 End of Third Grading Period
12 -16 Spring Break
22 General PTSA Meeting, 6 p.m. in cafeteria
23 Krispy Kreme Doughnut Sale
30 Non-Student Day

By Carolyn Reynolds

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WCA Board Recognizes Chuck Hoppe

At the March WCA Board of Directors meeting President Ruben Collazo presented former board member Chuck Hoppe with a Westchase Medallion.

Hoppe was presented with the medallion to thank him for his previous service on the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board. “I always appreciated Chuck’s input at board meetings,” Collazo said. “He made more good catches than a third baseman at a playoff game.”

Director Keith Heinemann said that Hoppe had also served as the alternate VM for Radcliffe for many years. Hoppe said, “Thank you. It was great working with everyone.”

WCA Manager Debbie Sainz reported that there were approximately 270 homeowners who had not paid their association fees and their collection would now go to legal counsel. She estimated that the number was slightly larger than last year. She said the payment function on the WCA website was down but that she had quotes from several providers as well as quotes for cleaning and sealing the pool deck pavers at both facilities.

All directors voted in favor of Brian Ross’ motion to table a Bridges homeowner’s appeal until April 12 to allow time for the home to be painted. All also voted in favor of his motion to suspend a fine concerning a parking violation in The Greens and waive the fine as long as the violation does reoccur within 90 days. The homeowner asked the board why he had not received a response to the email he sent after his first notice and Ross told him that they were following the advice of legal counsel, which was to send two letters notifying the homeowner of the violation and to treat all homeowners the same. Directors suggested that the best way to communicate with the WCA about a violation was by phone.

All board members agreed with Keith Heinemann’s suggestion to reappoint Mary Griffith, Ken Blair and Jeff Seligsohn to the WOW Board. Heinemann said that they had received a resume from a very good candidate but that he felt the current board members were doing a great job and he did not suggest a change in the board at this time.

Directors voted 2–5 against a request to allow an estate sale at a Bridges home in April. A daughter of the deceased resident was requesting an exception to the rule forbidding estate sales because both her sister and she live out of town and would only have one weekend to clean out the house before the new owners took possession. She said they had a company who was going to run the estate sale for them. Collazo and Director Ashley Wait, who made the motion to allow the sale, cast the votes for the motion. Collazo said he was inclined to allow the sale because the homeowner had been a resident of Westchase for 14 years and he felt that if it was one of his neighbors, he could deal with a weekend of inconvenience.

Ross said he was against it because he thought it was bad for the community and that the company retained to do the estate sale also provided a service where they would sell the furniture by commission off site. He said he did not think it was fair to the neighbors to have to deal with parking and strangers coming into the community. Wait asked what about the cost difference between an onsite estate sale and an offsite one and Ross replied, “We cannot begin to consider costs when making decision about the rules.”

Director Joaquin Arrillaga said that Ross’ position was, “in line with previous boards and VMs. Money should not be considered when following the rules.”

All voted in favor of renewing the WCA insurance policy at an increase of $4,000 from the previous year. Sainz said the increase was due to an increase in accident and health coverage and general liability.

All voted in favor of proposed facility rules changes to make all rules consistent and to clarify some ambiguous rules.

Director Rick Goldstein said that he wanted to make the board aware of an incident that had happened where a non-resident used his and Collazo’s names to gain access to the tennis courts. He said the person had two minors with him, one of whom was a Westchase resident. He made a motion to approve sending a letter to the person telling them of the rules as well as one to the parents of the Westchase child.

Ross, however, questioned why the board wouldn’t send a letter to the person telling him he is not welcome back. Director Joaquin Arrillaga then submitted a substitute motion requesting legal counsel send a letter to the non-resident informing him that he was banned from Westchase facilities. All voted in favor of the motion.

By Marcy Sanford

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WCA Announces Work Around for Broken Online Payment Processing System

If you plan to visit westchasewca, the association’s web site, to pay for your family’s swim and tennis programs, you’ll have to make your credit card payment in person.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo contacted WOW on Friday, March 8 to let the community know that the association’s online payment processing system for swim and tennis programs was no longer functioning. Collazo stated the association had created a work-around until a more permanent solution can be put in place.

“Our payment processing system is currently out of order,” stated Collazo. “When ordering classes, please proceed as you normally would on our website (westchasewca.com). When you get to the checkout page, please stop there, then print the page and bring it with you to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard, where we are able to accept your credit card payment.” 

Collazo added, “We apologize for the inconvenience, but major updates are required.  So unfortunately our online processing system will be disabled for an extended period of time.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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CDD Gets Update at Golf Course Purchase Agreement

Westchase CDD Supervisors received an update on their potential purchase of the Westchase Golf Club at their March 6 meeting, which saw Field Supervisor Doug Mays explain challenges with Westchase’s recent street sweeping.

Opening the session, however, supervisors accepted their 2017 audit and heard from Woodbridge Villas representative Pat Kruse, who followed up with supervisors about the district’s willingness to take ownership of the Woodbridge HOA’s roads, sidewalks and gates, which would transfer maintenance responsibilities to the district. The district, rather than the Woodbridge HOA, would then assess Woodbridge homeowners for them. 

Supervisor Brian Ross, however, emphasized the importance of the Woodbridge HOA and its owners understanding they would be giving up their guarantee of privacy. Ross pointed out that by law, CDD-owned roads are public. While the community’s gates can restrict entry to most passersby, if the district owned the roads, folks could demand the right to gain access to the community. Further, Ross pointed out that a future CDD board could decide to remove the gates from the community.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall cited the fact that the transfer would relieve the HOA of its maintenance oversight responsibilities and the political burden of maintaining assessments on neighbors (in recent years Woodbridge HOA imposed a hefty special assessment on residents to undertake deferred maintenance). “There certainly is a benefit there.”

Stating he was an attorney who frequently handed HOA mediation issues, Ross, however, added, “It would be highly, highly unusual for an HOA to give up its privacy rights.”

CDD Chair Jim Mills asked Kruse to bring back to supervisors a clear understanding of the percentage of Woodbridge homeowners who supported the ownership transfer after residents were fully informed of Ross’ privacy concerns. Afterward, Mills stated, the board would make a decision. “We appreciate your confidence in this board,” he added.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick then updated supervisors on negotiations over the potential purchase of the Westchase Golf Course. She stated that over the previous month, the district’s hired consultant, Greg Christovich, had visited the course, reviewed its financials and interviewed residents who wished to weigh in on the district’s potential purchase and management of the course – all as part of the district’s due diligence. “He will ultimately be preparing a report that will be presented to the board,” she said.

McCormick added she had also hired specialized attorneys from Johnson Pope to craft a letter of intent (LOI) outlining the purchase. Upon sending the LOI to course owner Nick Neubauer, however, Neubauer’s attorney countered with a simplified LOI that accepted the proposed $4 million purchase price and six months for due diligence. Once the LOI is signed by CDD Chair Jim Mills, Neubauer committed to having his lawyer put together a purchase contract for the district’s consideration.

McCormick also stated that Green Golf Partners does not have management agreement with Neubauer. “It’s a wholesale lease of the property,” she stated. Stating it was not assumable upon purchase, she added the district and Green Golf Partners would both have to agree to continue the lease.

When Supervisor Barbara Griffith asked if the due diligence had uncovered any red flags, McCormick began speaking about the golf course’s pump building when Supervisor Greg Chesney, who is overseeing Christovich’s work between meetings, interjected of his findings thus far, “It’s not materially different from my initial report.”

While Supervisor Ross stated that Griffith’s inquiry about potential issues was a legitimate question, Ross stated, “I would say it’s premature.” He added, “We’re better off waiting until we’re under [a purchase] contract.”

Griffith, however, expressed frustration with the suggestion she wait. She stated her support of moving forward with the purchase contract for the golf course purchase was contingent on the findings of the due diligence report and stated she thought they would quickly get the report.

Ross emphasized he was not diminishing Griffith’s concerns but added, “It is highly, highly unusual to have a commitment to do the due diligence before you sign the contract.” He added, “You are unintentionally airing issues you don’t want aired before you go under contract.”

“You don’t want to piecemeal it,” added Chesney. “I want a [full] report.”

Ross added that no one was attempting to sweep the discussion under the rug but simply wait for the signed purchase contract. “I fully intend a full public meeting and discussion of the due diligence.” He reemphasized, “I fully intend to lay it out on the table and we’ll talk about it.” 

Addressing what she referred to as the process, Griffith, however, stated, “It’s troubling to me.” She stated that she was aware that Ross was speaking to McCormick and Chesney was working with the consultant and McCormick, suggesting the other supervisors were at an informational disadvantage. She added, “I walked away [from February’s district meeting] with understanding we were going to exercise the letter of intent.” She added, “A month later we don’t have it.”

Stating he did have the LOI for his signature that evening, Mills stated, “I’d ask you to go back to the  minutes. That’s not what we landed on.”

McCormick also interjected that she had met with Griffith the previous week to discuss matters and stated the district had made significant progress in hiring the consultant, two attorneys with expertise and golf course purchases and negotiating the LOI.

“When will we have a report from the consultant?” Griffith pressed.

McCormick answered it was the goal to have the report complete as soon as possible but the consultant’s contract stipulated it would be produced within 45 days of the purchase contract.

Ross and other supervisors also emphasized that the purchase contract would allow the district to withdraw from the purchase without penalty if the due diligence period undercovers information that makes supervisors feel less comfortable with buying the course for the agreed price.

Addressing the board, Greens resident Sebastian de Alemanara, stated, “Something has to be done. There is a ton of misinformation out there.”

De Alemanara added, “People talking about turning the course into a park are growing, growing and growing.” De Alemanara said it was rooted in reports that the golf course was currently losing money. He repeated what Supervisor Chesney stated in January that the district’s initial, quick exploration of multiple options made clear that conversion to a park would require landscaping that would be very expensive while eliminating income from the course. “That’s probably not an option and people need to know that,” he said.

Chesney responded by referencing the consultant’s work toward determining the course’s true financial state. “You’re going to have a report about what we think the golf course is going to cost residents.”

Chesney added that converting the course to a park would require planting hundreds of thousands of trees at a cost of one to two dollars each. “It does not make sense to me…to do it,” he stated. Chesney stated that it was silly to talk about it as a park when the district didn’t even own the course yet. “It was a mistake on my part to entertain turning it into a park,” he emphasized.

Ross also cautioned de Alemanara that while he might personally support keeping it as a course, he had an obligation to listen to all residents regarding their views for the land, when acquired.

De Alemanara pressed again about the park rumors, “It also needs to be communicated that that is not what you’re going to do with it.”

Citing recent social media posts about the disaster that would befall the community if the West Park Village Starbucks closed, Mills responded, “This board cannot respond to every social media post.” He added of the course, “We don’t even own it yet.”

Making his report, Field Supervisor Doug Mays addressed some residents’ dissatisfaction, aired on social media, about the district’s street sweeping vendor. Mays stated the recent warm weather and the wet winter caused trees to dump old foliage more quickly this spring. Adding to the leaves in the road, Mays stated that when residents read on WOW Online and Westchase Neighborhood News Facebook page that the street sweeper would be working over two upcoming days, multiple residents raked or blew their yard leaves into the road rather than properly bagging them and setting them out for landscape debris collection. Combined, the volume of leaves overwhelmed and delayed the street sweeper.

Mays stated the road cleaning usually causes the sweeper to fill one and a half bins over two days. “They filled up four bins within the community." He added, "They spent seven to eight days.”

Mays also dismissed accusations that the service was not being provided some neighborhoods. “I followed the truck many times.” He emphasized, “They were out here in the community.”

Mays concluded, “Just so you know, they didn’t charge one additional dime. You got more than paid for.”

Continuing his report, Mays added that $2,300 in repairs and improvements were made to Glencliff Park’s playground surface around its merry-go-round to allow it to better weather wear and tear. The park equipment manufacture committed to applying repair costs to the cost of a new small slide that will be installed in the near future at the park.

Mays added that staff was also exploring costs for the addition of larger shade structures at the West Park Village tot playground to keep the playground surface cooler and one for over the spring-loaded riding structures at Baybridge Park.

Citing clarification of their landscaping contract, Supervisor Ross asked staff to explore with district landscaper Davey if it was willing to extend its landscaping contract in the community for an additional year at no increase with some tweaking of the district’s grading and performance payment system. Ross stated he didn’t necessarily support extension but that the district should explore its possibility.

Prefacing the board’s 6:23 p.m. adjournment, Chair Jim Mills stated, “We’ve got a lot going on…I thank everyone for everyone’s efforts.” He added, “I think we are doing a stellar job of keeping the interest of residents and the best interest of the community in front of us.”

In other actions:

Supervisors accepted their audit after Supervisor Brian Ross requested information about the audit’s finding that the district’s bank account had been compromised. Supervisor Greg Chesney stated the district ended the year with a surplus of $167,778, which was added to the district’s fund balance.

West Park Townhomes resident Karen Thomas inquired whether the back of the newly replaced LED streetlight in front of her townhome could be shaded so that the light didn’t spill into her home. CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte was asked to explore whether TECO or the district owned the light. Supervisor Matt Lewis also asked that TECO be asked to come out to measure the intensity of nearby LED lights to determine if the light in front of Thomas’ home was necessary.

Supervisors unanimously approved appointing CDD Chair Jim Mills to work with Attorney Erin McCormick to accept the transfer of ownership of a large lake between M/I Homes development and Sturbridge and Stonebridge after addressing a few concerns with M/I Homes about the lake’s environmental permits.

Supervisors unanimously approved Field Manager Doug Mays’ request that the district spend $15,000 to upgrade their 13 Toro satellite irrigation controllers.

Supervisors directed staff to work with Stantec’s Neale Stralow to develop more specific landscaping plans for Westchase’s entrance and the butterfly garden along Linebaugh Avenue. They also asked staff to acquire a bid for sinking a well and installing a pump on land between Stonebridge and The Vineyards (for possible use as a district plant nursery) and bids for bringing electricity to unlit neighborhood monument signs.

Supervisor Barbara Griffith announced that her exploration of a dog park on the TECO easement in the West Park commercial area made clear that no permanent structures could be erected there and other rules forbade animals from the land. “I think we can put that idea to rest,” she said.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted March 8, 2018

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From the President, March 2018: Spring Cleaning to Avoid the Most Common Violations

Hello Westchasers!  It’s that time of the year for spring cleaning. 

And every year hundreds of us are out on the weekends cleaning, planting, power washing and baking in the springtime sun.  Unfortunately some of us procrastinate and then receive the friendly reminders in the form a violation letter.

So I thought that I would help us preempt those violation notices by listing the “top ten + one” violations in Westchase’s association.  This is not a comprehensive list of all the possible violations.  But it is a table of the most frequently cited items.

They are in order:

1. Dirty walkway/sidewalk/driveway
2. Weeds in lawn
3. Dead sod
4. No mulch in landscape beds
5. Failure to have two rows of plantings under front window
6. Failure to have a solid row of plants along side of home facing street if on a corner lot
7. Cars parked in the street/on the sidewalk/on the grass
8. The parking of prohibited vehicles like commercial vehicles/boats, jet skis/RVs, etc.
9. Mildew on home
10. Failure to obtain Modification Committee approval for exterior changes
11. Basketball hoops left out over night

While I’m discussing violation notices, I should note that violation notices are not fines, tickets or nastygrams.  They are friendly reminders.  So please don’t get offended when you receive one.   Please don’t call our office and yell at our management team.  We all get these notices.  Even I have received a violation notice.  Our staff is just doing the job that we, the homeowners of Westchase, have hired them to do.

The proper thing to do when you receive a violation notice is to correct the violation. Please politely communicate with our office if you have questions and need clarification about the guideline in question.  Our helpful staff is very good at guiding homeowners towards the correct and appropriate resolution.

Last, I will add the following.  It takes many months of willful disregard of violation notices to receive a fine.  So if you’ve gotten to the point of a fine, it’s because you’ve been inattentive to the mail and procrastinating in your chores.  Information about our violation notice procedures and practices can be found at http://www.westchasewca.com

Lots of WCA members have been sending me their opinions about the golf course purchase.  Please continue to do so.  I do share your emails with our CDD supervisors.  Please also note that I have a new phone number.  It is (813) 235-0565.  Thanks for reading.  See you again next month.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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Tampa Bay Water Ski Team Kicks of a New Season of Free Shows

Looking for some unique family-friendly entertainment on St. Patrick’s Day? You’re in luck!

The Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team (TBWSST) will be back on the water to begin their free weekly Saturday evening shows on March 17 with a St. Patrick’s Day theme. For many years, this competitive show ski team has competed in numerous state, regional and national events. Achievements include state championships and numerous Southern Regional Show Ski Championship titles. The team has also performed internationally in Spain, the U.K. and China. In 1990 the TBWSST was listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for the world’s largest human pyramid. They set another record with a seven-man front flip off a regulation 14-foot-wide jump ramp. That act was performed at the U.S. National Show Ski Championship tournament in Janesville, Wisconsin. Always striving to push themselves further, the team is currently working towards making their four-tier pyramid even higher!   

The team’s Saturday shows feature ballet lines, bare-footers, jumpers, pyramids and more. Themes change weekly and the music for each act is selected to match the theme of the week. Fan favorites include 80s, country and ABBA. Ages of the skiers in the show range from children in elementary school to seniors. Volunteers help with concessions, sound, costuming and site maintenance. TBWSST also offer clinics on Saturday or Sunday by appointment for anyone with a desire to learn to ski. Those who already know how to ski are encouraged to consider joining the team. It really is an activity the entire family can be a part of – whether it is skiing in a show or volunteering on land.    

Shows are held at Tower Lake, located in nearby Oldsmar at 130 Burbank Road. Concessions are available for purchase. Shows and parking are free. A preshow featuring beginning skiers starts at 5:30 p.m., with the main show following at 6 p.m. For more information or directions visit http://www.tampawaterski.com or call Vickie at (813) 917-8354.

By Lisa Stephens

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Raising Awareness on World Down Syndrome Day and Beyond

World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated across the globe in more than 60 countries on March 21.

The purpose of this special day is to raise awareness and increase understanding. Down syndrome (Ds) is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. With Ds affecting one in every 800 births (400,000 people in the U.S.), it is critical that this message be conveyed to allow others in our community to display tolerance, patience, kindness and respect. This is also an exciting day for my family as it lets us share our story with others.

My family and I have been proud to call Westchase home for the last 14 years. Eight years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first child, Paisley, into the world at 26 weeks gestation. Shortly after her birth, it was determined that she had Ds. This was the most difficult time in our lives, as we didn’t know what the prognosis would be for our baby. Would she live? Would she have long-term medical issues? Would she have friends one day? Would teachers see her potential and abilities? These questions were overwhelming, so we decided to focus on all our blessings and living one day at a time. Paisley has been resilient since birth!

Raising a baby and a toddler with Ds can pose many challenges. You always wonder if you are doing enough and getting the right services. Although those challenges paled in comparison to some of the challenges we, as a family, face now that she is in elementary school. Unbeknownst to us, there were still people in our community who held onto outdated, hurtful and negative stereotypes towards individuals with Ds.

Research has shown that children with Ds benefit from being placed in a regular education class, receiving their education alongside typically developing children. Typically developing peers give children with Down syndrome the role models they need to acquire new skills, encourage age-appropriate behavior, develop independence and build friendships. 

This classroom structure isn’t only beneficial for the child with special needs; it is also helpful to your child! Studies have shown that inclusion is beneficial to the other children in the class. Inclusion facilitates greater understanding, patience and compassion, as well as learning to be supportive of one another. Children also learn to value diversity and to appreciate that everyone has something beneficial to bring to the life of the school and the community.

Although we have hit a few bumps in the road as it relates to Paisley’s school experience, these hurdles have fueled my passion about spreading the word that the things people say and do matter. Accepting others with different abilities is important to the success of our schools and our community.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, people with Ds can and do make meaningful contributions throughout their lives, whether in schools, workplaces, communities, public and political life, culture, media, recreation and sport.

People with Ds can attend college, get married, live independently and have many skills and talents, just like you.

Some children with Ds have difficulties with verbal communication. It may also take them a little longer to learn academic skills. Be kind with your words – kids understand everything you or your child say about them. If you are teaching your children that, “People like her,” belong somewhere else, you, your children or classroom are missing out on a great experience!

Your child can be a good friend by getting to know children with Ds or other varying abilities. Play and talk to them like any other friend. Find out what your friend likes to do and hang out together. You will find that you are more alike than different.

Thank you for the opportunity to share and thank you for celebrating with us!

By Shannon Moss

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Do You Want to Submit a New Resident Directory Form?

You can fill out your form by clicking here.

In preparation for the 2018 Westchase Resident and Business Directory, WOW  has posted an easy-to-use form on its Web site to allow residents who did not appear in last year’s directory to submit their information for the new one. That form can be found in this article, located at the top of the homepage at http://www.westchasewow.com The d.eadline for completed forms is March 20.

A form is also included in this month’s inserts.

The online or paper forms may be used for either completely new submissions or updates to entries that ran in the 2017 directory. If your entry already ran correctly in 2017 directory, you need to do nothing; your information will be automatically included again in the 2018 directory.

Every spring WOW distributes the popular directory, which contains Westchase residents’ names, home and e-mail addresses and phone numbers – as well as the names and numbers of businesses who provide valuable services to Westchase residents. This year’s directory is slated for distribution in May.

Residents are assured that WOW has never sold, leased or shared the directory’s contact information with any commercial entity; contact information is, however, shared with Westchase voting members (VMs) upon request. VMs and WOW then occasionally use residents’ e-mails to distribute village and Westchase-specific news like neighborhood crime watch information or block party notifications.

The directory is simply for residents’ daily use. It is, however, strictly opt-in. Any household that does not submit a form containing its information will not be included in the directory.
Don’t miss out on the most popular phone book in Westchase!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Golf Course Shopping, Landscaping Plans and Home Prices

February proved a significant month in Westchase.

Those following local news reported by WOW know that early in February the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) made a historic decision to explore the purchase of the Westchase Golf Course. While a single vote established the district’s goal – to put the course under a sales contract or letter of intent to purchase it, it will not be the last one on this matter. That vote kicked off a time period (whose lengthy is still undetermined at the distribution of this edition) during which the district will research the course’s current financial situation, interview golf course management experts and research the property itself. All of it will be focused on determining if purchasing the course is in the best interest of the district and the community.

It promises to be a significant spring – and perhaps summer – for Westchase. Only WOW has covering this story as it breaks. And only WOW has been in constant communication with the residents who are currently leading the effort. We commit to keeping you informed.

The CDD, however, is also looking to tackle aging landscaping at our community and neighborhood entrances. Unhappy with how the eastern entrance near Costco turned out, supervisors have asked Landscape Architect Neale Stralow to pinpoint how they should approach the new projects. We share three of his proposed approaches on page 16.

Our March WOW also tackles another interesting and popular topic – the value of your home and how it has changed over the past year. With the help of Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates, we pulled the sales data and carefully studied it, looking for patterns. We tell that story in this month’s Real Estate Special. This special feature, however, continues to the back where we explore two other topic of great interest to homeowners. Joey Johnston explores the pros, cons and costs of window protection to prepare you for next hurricane season. And Marcy Sanford interviewed a Fords resident who recently installed a Tesla solar system in order to rely less on fossil-fuel based energy. We thank all the real estate related businesses for helping to bring this incredibly informative special section to you.

This edition of WOW also brings a look at another annual tradition that spring brings to Florida. Joey Johnston, a sport expert, identifies the dozen don't-miss baseball spring training games in the Tampa Bay area and offers you tips on how to score your favorite players’ autographs.

Relax, sit back and open your WOW. You won’t a more enjoyable and informative publication about your neighborhood anywhere.

And, as always, please remember to support WOW’s quality local journalism – and our charitable giving – by telling our valued advertisers on these pages you saw them in WOW.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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What’s Your Westchase Home Worth?

In 2016, Westchase real estate was hot, rising 6.4 percent in a year. What did 2017 do to the value of your home?

Those who lived through the housing boom and bust in Westchase remember it with a shudder. Beginning in 2004, home prices in the Westchase area exploded, rising an unsustainable $52.29 per average square foot (or 39 percent) to $185.60 a square foot in 2006. Yet the real estate bubble dramatically deflated the next year, decimating the newest homeowners’ equity.

That terrible slide lasted three years and saw more than a quarter of Westchase home sales as late as 2011 consisting of foreclosures and short sales. Average Westchase prices ultimately declined more than they rose during the frothy bubble. The typical home fell $58.23 per square foot to the 2009 bottom of $127.37 a foot.

It’s been a long, erratic climb since.

While 2010 saw a small increase, 2011 saw Westchase homes give back the 2010 gain. Solid growth returned in 2012, followed by an impressive rise of nearly $15 per square foot in 2013. After a third straight year of respectable increases in 2014, 2015 brought a small decline, bucking the overall trend in Tampa Bay. In 2016, however, prices jumped 6.4 percent.

Which brings us to 2017.

According to the Case-Shiller home index, last year home prices across the nation rose 6.2 percent while Tampa Bay homes rose 7.2 percent in price from October 2016 through November 2017.

Perhaps due to its larger than average sizes and their above average prices, Westchase homes grew at a far more modest pace. What was the take of the Realtors we interviewed about Westchase real estate?

“I am happy to say it was another very strong year in Westchase and the surrounding neighborhoods. Home prices continued to rise and inventory continued to stay at historically low levels,” said Kimmie Cimino Fine of Palermo Real Estate Professionals

Citing solid growth patterns, Wendy Ross, Florida Executive Realty stated, “The Westchase and Northwest market has recovered very well from the Great Recession.” Ross added, “Out of 109 sold properties in the past six months in Westchase, only nine properties received less than 95 percent of their last listing price. Sellers are receiving closer to 96-98 percent on average of their last listing price in the Westchase market.

Anne Hart of Florida Executive Realty saw an increase in inventory and many sales, which she attributed to more homeowners having enough equity in their homes to sell now that the market it closer to 2005 prices. “Most homes and townhomes sold very quickly with multiple bids,” she said.

Taking a different take was Melanie Atkinson, Smith & Associates. “I would describe Westchase real estate in 2017 as hot and cold: Homes with all of the key ingredients (updates, well maintained, great location, and priced right) sold very quickly. However, homes that did not have those ingredients tended to linger on the market longer than expected.”

Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates, who compiled and sorted all the data for this article, commented, “It was a game of ‘Tug O’ War’ for buyers and sellers as each felt out the other to determine ‘market value.’” She added, “Buyers moved fast and paid top dollar for homes that were turn-key and balked at homes that needed any amount of updating or additional cash outlay for projects, especially ones over the $450K range.”

What do the numbers say?

A total of 253 Westchase homes sold in 2017, roughly seven percent of the Westchase total. That’s consistent with annual number of sold homes in Westchase since 2013. The average Westchase home that sold in 2017 was 2,316 feet and sold for $400,426 in 63 days. The square foot sold price of $172.90 increased $4.13 per square foot over 2016, for an increase of 2.4 percent, still above the 2017 inflation rate of 2.1 percent.

How does Westchase compare with other areas?

According to sales graphs offered WOW by Ross, the median home price (the midpoint of all sales) in the fourth quarter of 2017 for the entire 33626 zip code was $400,000. (WOW’s individual Westchase sales, representing a smaller portion of 33626, put the number at $384,000.) In contrast, in the fourth quarter of sales in zip code 33647, where New Tampa is located, the median price was $310,000. In Wesley Chapel, it was $289,900. Meanwhile South Tampa’s median home sold for $587,000, Brandon’s went for $217,000you’re your typical home in Carrollwood sold for $257,900.

Across Hillsborough County the median home price in the last three months of 2017 was $226,000.

Since 2004, the year before the real estate bubble began, overall inflation has run 29.6 percent. In 2004, the average Westchase home sold for $133.31 per square foot. Adjusted for inflation, that 2004 home would sell today for $172.77, nearly matching the 2017 average square foot in Westchase. Historically nationwide home prices over the long-term usually just outperform the inflation rate (because of Americans’ desire for bigger homes over the years). Currently, the Westchase market appears to have returned to following that pattern.

Nevertheless, to reach the height of the 2006 market, when the average Westchase home sold for $185.60 per square foot, Westchase prices would have to rise an additional 7.3 percent. According to graphs offered WOW by Ross, two areas of Hillsborough County have already seen average home prices exceed their 2006 peeks: South Tampa, which is at the urban core, and Wesley Chapel, one of Tampa’s more distant bedroom communities. Meanwhile, Carrollwood home prices currently match their 2006 heights.

Bookending sales in our neighborhood were the least expensive Westchase home, a 1,152-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath home in Berkeley Square townhome, which sold for $140,000 on May 5 and a 4.531 square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in The Estates, which sold for $745,000 on March 3.

Price increases, however, were not the same across all Westchase neighborhoods. Two of the top four neighborhood performers back in 2016, The Bridges and Radcliffe, saw pullbacks in price in 2017. The Bridges nudged 0.2 percent downward in 2017 averages while Radcliffe saw a 3.7 percent decline. In Radcliffe’s case, only three of its eight 2017 sales exceeded the average sale price Radcliffe homes fetched in 2016.

Meanwhile, two neighborhoods identified by this annual review as “best buys” in the last two years saw their previously below average prices rise notably above average in 2017. The Shires saw its square foot price rise 8.7 percent to $172.40 per square foot while homes across Bennington, Wycliff, Woodbay, Glenfield and Keswick Forest shot up 9.1 percent to $180.87 per square foot, the biggest gain in the Westchase market. Also showing a strong increase in 2017 was The Vineyards, which saw its square foot prices rise 8.2 percent to 173.14 per square foot.

Notching increases closer to the overall average of 2.4 percent were West Park’s Single Family Homes (2.4 percent), The Fords, (2.9 percent), and The Greens and Harbor Links/The Estates, which both saw 1.2 percent increases.

How long does it typically take to sell a home in your neighborhood?

Selling fastest among the bigger neighborhoods were homes in West Park Village, which on average sat less than a month on the market (29 days), and homes in The Bridges, which averaged 33 days to sell. As has been typical in recent years, higher priced homes outside of West Park Village took progressively longer to sell, proportionate to their prices. Homes in The Greens took 84 days to sell on average in 2017. Radcliffe homes took 87 days and Harbor Links/The Estates homes took 97 days, all slightly longer than in 2016. Offering the most expensive homes in Westchase, Harbor Links/The Estates, however, is still showing a much faster sales market than in 2015, when its homes took nearly five months to sell.

Among the smaller, maintenance free homes in Westchase, all but one also saw an increase in average price. The top performer among them was Saville Rowe, whose square foot price increased 11 percent in 2017 to $147.17. In contrast, Glencliff Villas square foot average gave up 12.2 percent, sliding to $153.74. A word of caution is in order, however, because in both of these neighbors only three units sold. Such a small number of annual sales can often bring wide swings in annual averages.

In contrast, 25 West Park Village townhomes sold across its various subassociations, producing a 7.8 percent square foot price increase to $166.14 and taking 52 days on average to sell. Berkeley Square saw 13 units sell in an average of 15 days for $132.90 per square foot, a two percent increase. Meanwhile The Enclave saw 11 units sell in 96 days on average; they charted an impressive 7.8 percent increase to $140.14 per square foot.

What’s Westchase’s most expensive home per square foot? That would be the Villas of West Park Village. They saw a 1.7 percent increase to $199.57 per square foot, a square foot price almost seven percent higher than those in Harbor Links/The Estates. In 2017 four West Park Villas units sold in an average of 34 days.

While not in the Westchase Community Association, Tree Tops saw the immediate Westchase area’s most expensive sale. On Dec. 29, a 6,010 square foot home sold for $1.3 million. That neighborhood saw 10 homes sell in 2017 at an average square foot price of $222.48 and taking 132 days on average to close.

Across the board, despite the inflationary uptick in prices, the Realtors we interviewed described a market with low inventory. Are homeowners getting multiple offers?

When priced correctly, Hart said she’s experienced multiple offers across all price levels.

Commented Atkinson, “If a house has been updated, well-maintained, and priced reasonably, there is a good chance it will receive multiple offers. But, just because it is located in a desirable area that doesn’t guarantee a seller a frenzy for their house. To get peak pricing, you have to invest in your house and prep it thoroughly.”

“It all depends on the property,” said Alisha Stockton of Charles Rutenberg Realty. “If the home is updated and turn-key, we are seeing a tons of interest and multiple offers.”

Said Ross, “The Westchase area properties still receive multiple offers at times; a property with just the right mix of appropriate market pricing, a premium location and superior condition can easily receive multiple offers.”

Wood, however, offered a different take, stating that she found more buyers more cautious about overpaying than they were in 2015-2016. There were, however, some homes that received multiple offers. “The homes that were perceived as very well-priced and in perfect condition, with all of today’s newer finishes, were the ones that experienced multiple offer situations and a few of the rarer products with lower price points, like villas, also saw multiple offer situations.”

But with Westchase, there are always whispers about schools. Many folks believe that buyers are regularly seeking homes just outside Westchase in order to be zoned for Farnell Middle and Sickles High School. If that alleged higher demand for neighborhoods just north of Westchase exists, you simply can’t find it in the numbers. Westchase’s average square foot price is $172.90. In contrast, neotraditional Highland Park, zoned for Sickles and Farnell, has an average square foot price of $160.23. West Hampton has an average price of $146.58 and Westwood Lakes’ price is $160.74 per square foot. Even square foot prices in The Bridges and West Park Village townhomes, both in Westchase, are higher than all neighborhoods immediately north of Westchase except perhaps Waterchase, whose data WOW didn’t examine.

Clearly a strong demand exists for Westchase homes. Yet if you’re planning to move, there are some key ways to attract more buyers and more offers. Stockton said Westchase buyers are looking for updated homes and neutral colors. “Everyone loves a ‘white’ kitchen these days!” She added, “If you’re looking to update on a budget, neutralize your wall colors and look into refinishing your cabinets throughout. This will give your home a fresh clean look and it often makes the home feel bigger.”

Harte said she’s finding buyers looking for open floor plans, updated interiors, white cabinets, quartz counter tops and hardwood floors.

What does 2018 hold?

“I see prices continue to steadily rise in 2018,” said Fine. “One reason is that interest rates are still historically low. Another reason is that some people aren’t willing to live farther out and have a longer commute to work, school and activities.”

Fine also cited the impact of the new federal tax laws, which incentivizes residents of states with high property and income taxes to relocate to Florida.

Ross agreed with the increases. “After more than six consecutive years of improvement,” she said, “the Westchase inventory remains very low and the time on the market is rather short, so prices should continue to rise throughout 2018.”

Harte was more cautious. “It’s really difficult to say as incomes are not going up as dramatically,” she said, although she added that folks moving from the Northeast do perceive Florida real estate values as bargains.

Based on real estate data from Westchase and WOW Northwest neighborhoods, the area appears to be heading toward a return to historical norms. That generally means home prices trending slightly higher than the inflation rate. Nevertheless, as with any market, a well-maintained home in a desirable location goes a long way in protecting your investment.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photos by James Broome Photography

Editor’s note: WOW thanks Nancy Wood of the Wood Team at Smith & Associates for the many hours she put into running and compiling 2016 home sales data in the Northwest region. Her valued help, along with Wendy Ross’ data from other Tampa Bay neighborhoods, made this article possible.

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Seasonal Movies in the Park Concludes March 9

Don’t miss our last Movie in the Park until next October!

March is the last month for the Movies in the Park. They will resume again in October. If you haven’t enjoyed an evening out in the park with your family enjoying a kid friendly flick, March 9 will be the last night to do so until the fall. March’s movie is The Nut Job: Nutty by Nature.

Daylight savings and spring break are just around the corner. That means there will be lots of kids out playing. As you drive through your neighborhood, please exercise extra caution.

As of Feb. 1 those owners who have not yet paid their annual assessments should have received a late fee reminder notice with the mandatory $25 late fee. Please be sure payment is made in order to avoid having your account forwarded to legal counsel. Additionally, all accounts with unpaid fees to the association will end up having their use rights to the facilities suspended until the association receives payment in full. With the upcoming summer months, we’d hate to see you turned away at the gate for not having paid your fees. If you are unsure, always feel free to contact our office.

As we approach summer, our staff is actively planning out our summer activity camp, which will begin on May 29. Enrollment for the weekly program should open in April. Space is limited, so be sure to enroll early to ensure a spot for your child/children. Our camp counselors keep the young ones quite busy all day with swim, activities and a weekly field trip (for an additional cost of $25).

As always, we are here to serve Westchase residents. Please drop by our office or contact us at 926-6404 or through email at manager@wcamanager.com.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Protecting Your Home Before the Next Hurricane Hits

Although most Westchase-area homes escaped serious damage during Hurricane Irma last September, window protection remains a hot-button issue for the next storm season.

The Tampa Bay area hasn’t had a direct hit from a hurricane since 1921, so maybe its run of luck will continue. But even though a threat (or potential threat) could be months away, it’s never too early for planning ahead.

Last September, some panicked residents looked on with envy at neighbors who had already secured window protection. Maybe they vowed a move to future action. But months of clear weather can lead to complacency and a sense of security.

If you’re inclined to be proactive, the time is right. Companies that specialize in storm window protection are often quicker to respond – and less expensive – before storm warnings start being posted.

“It’s always a good idea to investigate some type of protection for your windows,’’ said Future Home Realty’s Susan Abraham, a Realtor and longtime resident of The Shires. “We have seen homeowners use all sorts of options. There’s probably no right or wrong answer. It might depend on your budget or the dynamics of your family. It’s definitely something to consider ahead of time, well before a storm could be on the way.’’

Options?

There’s old-fashioned plywood.

There’s custom-made metal hurricane protection.

There are accordion-style shutters.

There’s hurricane-proof glass.

There’s even emerging technology, such as high-tech fabric.

Regardless of the choice, it’s paramount to plan ahead and make sure you have the right tools and hardware on hand before the storm nears.

Here’s a closer look at what’s available:

Plywood — If you don’t have shutters or another pre-installed system, this is an extremely common option.

Most experts recommend 5/8-inch thickness to be effective.

You could construct barrel-bolt plywood shutters (for use on concrete-block stucco homes with windows inset at least 2 inches from the exterior wall) or overlapping plywood shutters.

This requires some handyman competence because you’ll be drilling holes in the wall and plywood.

If plywood is your thing, you must act promptly. When a storm nears, plywood quickly flies off the shelves of hardware stores and home-improvement warehouses.

Plywood costs range from $1-$5 per square foot. Count on about an hour to 90 minutes for each window. You will save money, but it will cost you some sweat equity. And if you opt for the 5/8-inch thickness, the weight of each sheet makes it more than a one-person job. Wrestling with such heavy sheets of wood above a first floor may also prompt some to opt for more durable but lighter options.

Metal — Steel or aluminum shutters attach to the walls around windows and doors, using bolts and tracks. The panels are corrugated and each piece overlaps the next, assuring maximum strength.

One option is the panel slipping into a track above the window, while the bottom is secured by bolts that are permanently attached beneath the window.

There’s also a style with a set of C-shaped tracks above and below the windows and doors. Bolts slide into the tracks and must be manually aligned with the panel’s holes. Some homeowners have bolts permanently set into the wall. They are loosened as the panel is hung horizontally, then secured with tightened screws.

It’s important to have properly organized storage for the panels, which are generally stacked together in tight fashion. If you need them in a pinch, it’s frustrating to realize that a panel is missing or cut improperly. They also can be heavy, so installation often is a two-person job.

They offer strong protection and are removable, so the home’s look isn’t affected.

There are also some polycarbonate plastic panels, which are more expensive, but they allow light into your home.

Metal panels are about $7-$8 per square foot. Installation time is about 15 minutes per window.

Accordion-Style Shutters — These are one-piece or two-piece shutters that are generally housed beside the windows or doors. They unfold like an accordion to quickly cover and protect the windows.

No extra storage space is needed and they are usually can be set up by one person. Some models can be locked with a key (so they could actually double as a home-security device).

Some models are a bit bulky and don’t have the proper aesthetics for some homes. Some glide on wheels and can break, so care is needed.

Accordion-style shutters are about $16-$20 per square foot. You are paying for convenience. An entire home can be set up by one person in 30 minutes.

A more expansion option is roll-down hurricane shutters. These attach above the window, so they are rolled up and stored in an enclosed box when not in use. They run approximately $30-$55 per square foot.

There are also colonial hurricane shutters (two-piece louvered shutters that attach to the wall beside each window, approximately $18-$30 per square foot) and Bahama hurricane shutters (one-piece louvered shutters that attach directly above the windows and prop open for shade, also approximately $18-$30 per square foot).

Hurricane-Proof Glass — No shutters are needed with this glass, which can withstand hurricane debris.

It might be costly to retrofit an older home. Meanwhile, some code requirements, which mandate shutters or other protections on new homes, make hurricane-proof glass a good option at the time of construction.

Think of it like a car windshield, featuring a durable plastic-like layer sandwiched between glass that helps to prevent a hole even when an outside layer is shattered.

Cost is $35-$50 per square foot, including new window frames and the layered glass.

Its major selling point? When the storm nears, there’s no installation. You are already good to go.

Nevertheless, if you opt for this approach, make certain that you find out from your supplier how the window frames are engineered and attached to your home. The attachments must withstand hurricane force winds and impacts too – or intact windows will simply wind up inside your home.

High-Tech Fabric — It doesn’t look nearly durable enough, but it protects from high winds to meet hurricane codes, while allowing light and visibility.

The panels are generally made from a geo-synthetic, PVC coated fabric or Kevlar. They are attached with grommets, bolts, straps and buckles. The mesh fabric allows light and some air to come into the home.

If you opt for this approach, realize that some fabrics, while guaranteeing they will keep out flying debris, they don’t guarantee that windows won’t break. Keeping wind pressure out of the inside of your home is essential for keeping your roof on. Explore whether, if a window breaks, the fabric will still protect the envelope of the home from pressure changes.

If you opt for this approach, realize that some fabrics, while guaranteeing they will keep out flying debris, don’t necessarily guarantee that windows won’t break. Keeping wind pressure outside of your home is essential for keeping your roof on. Explore whether, if a window breaks, the fabric will still protect the envelope of the home from pressure changes that can lift a roof.

Hurricane fabrics cost about $15 per square foot.

By Joey Johnston

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Bay Hope Church Opens Doors March 18

Bay Hope Church’s Westchase campus opens March 18 with two services and the potential for rapid growth as the ministry examines the needs of nearby residents.

“We believe people matter to God, therefore they matter to us,’’ Bay Hope senior pastor Matthew Hartsfield said. “Where there are people, there are needs. Basically, we are in the life business, whether it’s restoration or renewal, and that’s the business of helping people.

“We are going to the intersection of a great community. We’re excited to be in a location where we can serve people from Westchase, Citrus Park, Town ’N Country and all the surrounding areas.’’

Bay Hope, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, has operated from its main Lakeshore campus in Lutz since 1985. As part of its 30 by 30 campaign — attracting 30,000 new church-goes by 2030 — it has studied expansion.

And it found a desirable site at 10701 Sheldon Road, which was formerly occupied by Wellspring Community Church.

David Wildes, who will serve as pastor of Bay Hope’s Westchase campus, said the old Wellspring building is undergoing a $100,000 “massive remodel.’’ Additionally, a 3,200-square-foot children’s building will be added to the campus as part of expanding programming for kids.

Bay Hope’s Westchase services begin March 18 at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. Wildes will open and close the service, along with a live worship band, but Hartsfield will deliver the central message through a live fiber optic broadcast.

The Westchase campus will feature a video venue — a screen that is 16 feet wide and 9 feet tall — along with adjoining 70-inch screens.

“It will feel like he (Hartsfield) is right there on stage,’’ Wildes said. “It’s literally a head-to-toe shot. We viewed this technology during a conference in Atlanta and you felt like the pastor was right there.

“The pastor will use a touch screen — sort of like the weather guy on TV — to pull up various verses on the side screens. What we’ve learned is about 95 percent of the people in the room are primarily looking at the side screens. It might be an adjustment for some, but we feel it will be natural and successful. So much of our life these days are oriented toward screens, right?’’

Wildes said the church’s primary mission is to make sure lives are oriented toward positive messages.

There isn’t enough of that, he said, particularly in the Tampa Bay area.

“One study we saw ranked Tampa Bay as the second least Christian worshipping community in the country, just behind Portland,’’ Wildes said. “Las Vegas was higher. New York City was higher. We know Tampa Bay isn’t necessarily the Bible belt, but that’s what the numbers in this study bear out.

“There are lots of opportunities around here, lots people can be doing. So we think there’s great growth potential, specifically in the Westchase area. We think there could be four or five churches planted and launched in Westchase. There are plenty of fish in the sea.’’

As part of his pastoral career, Wildes once worked as a missionary, recruiting people to help with projects in the East African nation of Uganda.

That might seem a world away from Westchase.

Hartsfield said he sees a parallel.

“David has worked as part of meeting critical needs on an international scale,’’ Hartsfield said. “Well, what are doing here (in Westchase)? We’re trying to understand the culture. We’re looking for connection points. That’s also what you do as a missionary.

“You can’t just assume Christianity in North American anymore — for good or for bad. Some churches wring their hands about that. We see it as opportunity. Let’s get to know the people and community. Don’t just assume and impose yourself upon the community. Discover the people. Learn the needs. We’re familiar with all the bad news out there. Well, like the New Testament says, we have good news.’’

Wildes said Bay Hope’s Lakeshore campus has 3,400 members. On any given weekend, a service could attract 2,000 worshippers.

At Westchase, Wildes said he expects at least 200 adults to be in place for the first weekend. Some of them are former Wellspring members. But many will be new, perhaps attracted by the signage along Sheldon Road or word of mouth recommendations.

Wildes said he expects natural and organic growth. Bay Hope initially plans on establishing a presence at the community’s existing events, such as Easter egg hunts, instead of creating something new.

“I will be the pastor for Westchase, so that’s good because one person could be spread too then,’’ Wildes said. “At some point, Pastor Matthew can’t answer every pastoral care call or make every hospital visit. Sometimes, people just need to stop by and talk. This will allow for the Westchase community to have their own pastor who is dedicated to their community.’’

Wildes has been married to his wife, Carrie, for 12 years. They have a pair of 3-year-old adopted daughters, Maddie and Evie.

“The kids ministry is a big part of what we do,’’ Wildes said. “If kids have a good time learning something, Mom and Dad want to come back. We want to make people feel welcome. That will be a natural thing because we have already been made to feel welcome by the Westchase community.’’

By Joey Johnston

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Robert Lewis, Popular Westchase Crossing Guard, Retires

Hearing that Mr. Lewis is hanging up his stop sign sparked an outpouring of affection for Westchase’s favorite crossing guard in February.

Lewis retired at month’s end from the post he has held since 2010.

Standing at the crosswalk of Gretna Green Drive and Kingsbridge Avenue, Lewis greeted every driver, walker, cyclist and even those on the school buses with a friendly smile and an eager wave. “I’m the first person they see in the mornings besides their families. It’s a way to rejuvenate them and myself, too,” he explained.

Lewis knows many of the children and their parents by name. Many passersby know him by name as well. Upon the posting of his retirement news on the Westchase community Facebook page, more than one hundred people offered well wishes for Lewis within just a few hours.

Brentford resident Catherine Hamilton recalled meeting Lewis at the crosswalk when her daughter began school in kindergarten eight years ago. “He was always there through all of my years going to the elementary school with her,” she shared. “He’s a celebrity in the neighborhood!”

Chelmsford resident Tammy Daniels became concerned about Lewis when he was absent recently for several days. “He’s been such a fixture there. We were all wondering what happened to him!”

Of the past eight years, Lewis explained he has only missed seven days of work. His recent absence, which concerned Daniels and other residents, was due to the flu he had for several days. Many were relieved upon his return. He was quickly back to waving and offering his friendly greetings.  “Have a good school day,” he would call out to the children as they reach their destination safely on the other side of the street.

If windows were rolled up on oncoming cars, they were quickly rolled down as they approached Lewis at his post. Children’s voices shouted out greetings as little hands emerged with waves from the cars.

Lewis even knew the usual order of arrival of the children he helped cross safely. “The little boy on the green bike will be the first one here this afternoon. He’s usually the last one to arrive in the mornings,” he explained. Following the boy would be three girls, he predicted. (He was correct on both counts!) Occasionally, someone even stopped to chat with Lewis to find out how his day is going or inquire about his weekend. “This is such a great community with really good people,” he said.

It’s the people, not the position, he said he will miss the most upon his retirement.

Lewis originally took the position after retiring from a government position as a contract officer procuring military supplies. “From janitorial items to construction equipment, I was responsible for finding it,” he said.

Looking for something to do after retiring from that position, he decided to become a crossing guard. When asked how he plans to fill his time this time around, he’s keeping his options open, he said. One thing on his list is to spend more time with his brother, who is also retired. Recalling a time when he once tried his hand at golf, his brother’s passion, he has decided against picking up the clubs again. “I’d rather be sane than insane so I’m just going to leave that alone,” he said with a chuckle.

Whatever activities he finds to fill his retirement days, he will surely be missed by many.

Thank you, Robert Lewis, for your years of service and waves to the Westchase community!

By Lisa Stephens

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VMs Hear TECO Explain Power Outages

The February Westchase Voting Members meeting began with a presentation by TECO’s Alan Denham.

Denham’s task was to explain the power outages that occurred in Westchase after Hurricane Irma and why the west part of Westchase continues to suffer repeated outages.

After a hurricane, Denham explained, TECO’s goal is to restore power to as many people as possible, starting with hospitals and those on life support. He stated the main issue with restoration of the west part of Westchase was its inaccessibility due to flooding and standing water. The impacted area is a one-mile easement between Westchase and Twin Branch Acres. TECO eventually had to get access to special machinery to get into the flooded area. VM Alan Shabott (Abbotsford) asked, “Have you done anything to reconfigure or add redundancy to be able to service it better?”

Denham replied that nothing was reconfigured. He added that they noted tree limbs were touching lines in the area. “We identified on that circuit that tree trimming was needed so we’ve already done some of this.”

VM Brian Loudermilk (Keswick Forest), whose village was without power for five days asked what the results of the study that was done on the outages found. Loudermilk had hoped that his village could be switched to the Westchase circuit rather than the one shared with Twin Branch Acres, which has all overhead lines. Denham replied that they would temporarily hook the neighborhood up during longer outages. “But,” he added, “a permanent switch won’t be likely. The Westchase circuit is overloaded without as much capacity.”

Keswick Forest Alternate Leslie McCluskie asked, “Should neighbors call every time there is an outage?”

Denham replied that there is a way to text outages but said that for a prolonged outage, residents should definitely call. They should not report momentary, small outages where switching is occurring to keep power on. Denham closed the discussion saying that they are continuing to analyze data and looking at hot spots.

Following TECO's presentation, VMs held their final vote for Woodbay’s Rain Chains neighborhood guideline amendment and it was quickly approved.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) member Joe Odda updated VMs on road resurfacing. He said he had driven through Radcliffe and all of it looks to have been milled. He thinks they will be close to done by the end of next week and move on from there.

GAC Chair Rick Goldstein reported that he had continued to complain to the county about the length of time to finish the work on the reclaimed water line replacement on Linebaugh. He said that the contractor is also tired of hearing the complaints and they are anxious to finish the work. Goldstein stated they are hoping to finish by the end of February. Collazo said that the good news was that the reclaimed water was back on.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Feb. 15, 2018

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WCA Board Tackles Parking Problems and Fine Appeals

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors discussed parking issues in West Park Village (WPV) and Kingsbridge during their February meeting.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein reported that he had been working on transportation and parking issues the two neighborhoods.  He said that Davidsen parents dropping off and picking up students on Kingsbridge Avenue were creating many problems and that a task force had been formed with the intent of stopping the chaos during these times. He said extra law enforcement was needed during the morning and afternoon hours but that there was no guarantee that an on-duty officer could be present. Board President Ruben Collazo said he did not think association funds could be used to pay for an off-duty officer. Sean O’Donnell said, “I live there. It is very chaotic. The kids aren’t looking and people park on yards. The street is not big enough for that many cars.”

Identifying it as the cause of the problem, WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga said, “If you pick up your child at Kingsbridge, it takes five minutes. Montague takes 20.”  He asked if the light at Linebaugh and Montague could be extended to allow traffic on Montague to move faster. Goldstein agreed that the task force would continue to look into the problem and explore options.

Goldstein said that GAC was going to ask Hillsborough County to paint the curbs in WPV red to indicate no parking zones and the sheriff’s office would be asked to enforce no parking laws. He said that first responders were able to get to emergencies in the neighborhood in six minutes but WPV resident Michelle DelSordo said that she had talked to firefighters about their ability to get in and out of WPV in six minutes and they had told her that typically they were not able to get into the neighborhood in that amount of time. Goldstein said that under the law, first responders can barrel right through and not be held responsible for any damage to cars.

Fords resident Joe Odda, a member of Hillsborough County’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), told directors about the five strategic initiatives the CAC would be working on in the upcoming months. He said the initiatives were public-private partnerships, client self-sufficiency, customer service and satisfaction, transforming the service model and fiscal sustainability. He said he planned to volunteer to help with fiscal sustainability. Odda said that the county projected it would lose $30 million in revenue if an additional Homestead Exemption is approved by voters. He added he believed that working on this initiatative could have the most impact on important local transportation issues.

The board heard an appeal from a resident of The Greens who said he had not received his violation notices in a timely manner because they were sent by certified mail and since he worked long hours, he was not home when the carrier attempted to deliver the letters or able to get to the pick-up location before it closed. The homeowner had two separate violations he was appealing – the need for mulch and an adequate number of rows of plants. He reported that the mulch had been put down and directors all agreed to waive 90 percent of his fine for that violation. He said he had not been able to plant the additional rows of plants because his landscaper said they could not be planted due to the cold weather and were not even available at nurseries. Directors all agreed to deny the appeal but reduce the fine by 90 percent as long as the fine for mulch was paid in 90 days and the extra row of plants were planted by March 6.

Board members voted 5-1, with Director Ashley Wait opposed, to deny an appeal concerning a dirty roof. The homeowner stated there was damage to the roof and that she is currently in litigation to have the roof repaired by her insurance company. She stated her lawyer had told her not to go up on the roof while the matter is in litigation. Ross said that they have been asking for more information for four months and that the legal matter could go on for several years. He added that it was not fair to her neighbors to ask them to put up with her dirty roof.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that 548 homeowners were delinquent with their annual fees. She said this was about the same number of homeowners as last year. She reported that they had also changed garbage collection at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway from twice a week to once a week, which would save money.

Westchase Community Foundation (WCF) President Sean O’Donnell reported that the Westchase Tennis Tournament was very successful. “They did an excellent job and raised $15,000 for WCF. Part of the reason it was so successful was because they were able to use the tennis courts for free.” He asked the board to approve the use of the tennis courts for a similar tournament in 2019. All voted in favor of his request.

All directors agreed to allow Operations Manager Kelly Shires and the summer camp employees to explore new ideas for field trips for summer camp this year.

Collazo said the Greenacre association management contract was up for renewal and that the company had asked him to meet with them to talk about renewing it. He said he thought WCA Treasurer Forrest Baumhover should also attend the meeting but would like an additional board member there. Arrillaga volunteered.

Director Forrest Baumhover was absent from the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Feb. 15, 2018

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WCA Board Tackles Parking Problems and Find Appeals

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors discussed parking issues in West Park Village (WPV) and Kingsbridge during their February meeting.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein reported that he had been working on transportation and parking issues the two neighborhoods.  He said that Davidsen parents dropping off and picking up students on Kingsbridge were creating many problems and that a task force had been formed with the intent of stopping the chaos during these times. He said extra law enforcement was needed during the morning and afternoon hours but that there was no guaranteed on-duty officer that could be present. Board President Ruben Collazo said he did not think association funds could be used to pay for an off-duty officer. Sean O’Donnell said, “I live there. It is very chaotic. The kids aren’t looking and people park on yards. The street is not big enough for that many cars.”

Identifying it as the cause of the problem, WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga said, “If you pick up your child at Kingsbridge, it takes five minutes, Montague takes 20.”  He asked if the light at Linebaugh and Montague could be extended to allow traffic on Montague to move faster. Goldstein agreed that the task force would continue to look into the problem and explore options.

Goldstein said that GAC was going to ask Hillsborough County to paint the curbs in WPV red to indicate no parking zones and the sheriff’s office to enforce parking laws. He said that first responders were able to get to emergencies in the neighborhood in six minutes but WPV resident Michelle DelSordo said that she had talked to firefighters about their ability to get in and out of WPV in six minutes and they had told her that typically they were not able to get into the neighborhood in that amount of time. Goldstein said that under the law, first responders can barrel right through and not be held responsible for any damage to cars.

Fords resident Joe Odda, a member of Hillsborough County’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), told directors about the five strategic initiatives the CAC would be working on in the upcoming months. He said the initiatives were public-private partnerships, client self-sufficiency, customer service and satisfaction, transforming the service model and fiscal sustainability. He said he planned to volunteer to help with fiscal sustainability. Odda said that the County projected it would lose $30 million in revenue if an additional Homestead Exemption is approved by voters and that much he thought working on this imitative could have the most impact on transportation issues that are important to area residents.
 
The board heard an appeal from a resident of The Greens who said he had not received his violation notices in a timely manner because they were sent by certified mail and since he worked long hours, he was not home when the carrier attempted to deliver the letters or able to get to the pick-up location before it closed. The homeowner had two separate violations he was appealing – the need for mulch and adequate rows of plants. He reported that the mulch had been put down and directors all agreed to waive 90 percent of his fine for that violation. He said he had not been able to plant the additional rows of plants because his landscaper said they could not be planted due to the cold weather and were not even available at nurseries. Directors all agreed to deny the appeal but reduce the fee by 90 percent as long as the fine for mulch was paid in 90 days and the extra row of plants were planted by March 6.

Board members voted 5-1, with Director Ashley Wait opposed, to deny an appeal concerning a dirty roof. The homeowner stated there was damage to the roof and that she is currently in litigation to have the roof repaired by her insurance company. She stated her lawyer had told her not to go up on the roof while the matter in in litigation. Ross said that they have been asking for more information for four months and that the legal matter could go on for several years. He added that it was not fair to her neighbors to ask them to put up with her dirty roof.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that 548 homeowners were delinquent with their annual fees. She said this was about the same number of homeowners as last year. She reported that they had also changed the garbage collection at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway from twice a week to once a week, which would save money.

Westchase Community Foundation (WCF) President Sean O’Donnell reported that the Westchase Tennis Tournament was very successful. “They did an excellent job and raised $15,000 for WCF. Part of the reason it was so successful was because they were able to use the tennis courts for free.” He asked the board to approve the use of the tennis courts for a similar tournament in 2019. All voted in favor of his request.

All directors agreed to allow Operations Manager Kelly Shires and the summer camp employees to explore new ideas for field trips for summer camp this year.

Collazo said the Greenacre contract was up for renewal and that the company had asked him to meet with them to talk about renewing the contract. He said he thought Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover should also attend the meeting but would like an additional board member there. Arrillaga volunteered.

Director Forrest Baumhover was absent from the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Feb. 15, 2018

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WCA Board Tackles Parking Problems and Fine Appeals

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CDD Announces Westchase Street Sweeping Feb. 15-16

Westchase’s spring street sweeping, aimed at cleaning up the deluge of leaves that has fallen in recent weeks, is scheduled for this week. Yet if you want the curb in front of your home swept clean, you need to avoid street parking on the sweeper’s designated days.

The sweeping is done a few times annually by the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) on roads within the district. To successfully complete the task, they ask all residents to avoid street parking and instead park all vehicles in driveways during the day on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 15-16. (Go ahead and set a reminder now on your phone so you don't forget.)

Thanks for your cooperation!

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Westchase Q and A: February Celebrations

This month we asked residents: Which holiday will you be celebrating in February?

Kristen DeAngelo (with daughter Avery and parents, Kathy and John Prible), The Bridges
I really look forward to Valentine's Day. We usually have a quiet dinner at home, then jump in the hot tub. I guess the Super Bowl is a pretty big deal in February. I'm really not that big a football fan but I do watch it. I think the halftime show and the commercials are sometimes more interesting than the actual game. I've always associated February with my mom and dad's anniversary. They'll be celebrating their forty-ninth anniversary on the first of February and it will be wonderful to be able to share that with them.

Amy Hewitt, West Park Village
I own a business called All The Buzz Cookies and February is a very busy month for me. I make custom-decorated sugar cookies for special events and birthday parties, and there's usually a lot going on in February. My husband and I do like to go out for a dinner date on Valentine's Day. We usually go to Ocean Prime so we can use our Christmas gift card. Our church has a wonderful program called Married for Life in February. It's a great encouragement to our community and something to really celebrate.

Susan Higginbotham, Kingsbridge
We have a big family in Tampa. There are 21 of us and we are always doing things together. February is a big birthday month for the family. My daughter Camryn is going to be 8. My sister-in-law and I are planning a spa day-themed birthday party for three of the girls in the family. We have so many family things going on that we don't do too much for Valentine's Day. My husband usually cooks dinner and we just relax at home. Now that the kids are getting older, we should probably start thinking about new things to do for family events. Maybe our next big thing should be a Mardi Gras-themed Party. We could get some beads and a Three Kings Cake.

Sebastian and Morisa Pacheco, West Park Village
We are new to Westchase. Actually we are new to America. We are from Argentina but wanted to come to the United States for a business opportunity. We'll be opening an Alte Mere franchise. The company does after-market automobile detailing like window tinting and security systems. We visited a number of cities in Florida and really liked Tampa. It is very welcoming. We are learning so much about American customs. We were amazed at Halloween. We don't really have anything like that in Argentina. We don't have American football so the Super Bowl will be a brand new experience for us. We are really looking forward to making our home here and learning about all the holidays and fun things that happen here.

By Phil Dean

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Stopping to Breathe

Often people are moving so fast, so busy with life, they are not paying attention to how they are breathing.

Take a breath and observe what is happening to your body. Are you breathing from a state of rest or from a state of anxiety? It matters because we live in two states of being: the parasympathetic state and the sympathetic state.

Both are part of the autonomic nervous system and are purposeful and necessary for survival. The parasympathetic state is a state of rest. During that state, the systems of the body perform functions like digesting food, creating, removing waste from the body and relaxing.

When in the sympathetic state, you are in the fight-or-flight state. Breathing pattern increases, blood pressure increases, blood sugar levels increase, and the body functions in survival mode to literally escape a situation or fight for your life. The body’s response is no different than if you were being attacked by a bear or dealing with stressors of modern-day society.

When breathing from an anxious state, there is a tendency to overuse muscles in the neck and shoulders like the sternocleidomastoid (scm), the trapezius (traps), erector spinae and levator scapulae. When you are breathing properly from a restful state, those muscles are not used.

Research says you take over 20,000 breathes a day. Imagine day after day, year after year, using neck and shoulder muscles for work they were not designed for. That is a lot of overuse!

Instead, it is primarily the diaphragm muscle that should be used for breathing. One way to practice is to lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your spine in neutral. You will know it is in neutral if you put your hands on your hips and your hands are parallel to the floor and ceiling. Then place a hand on your lower belly and take a breath. It should expand (rise) when you inhale. It should contract (deflate) when you exhale. If you are not use to this, it will take practice.

You can also practice sitting in a chair. Sit up tall. Take time outs frequently during the day to practice purposeful breathing and give your neck and shoulder muscles some relief.

By Shannon Thigpen

Shannon Thigpen is a Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist who teaches at the YMCA and trains privately. Visit http://www.shannonthigpen.com<./p>

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Tampa Bay Woman of the Year Candidates Announced

The Eighth Annual Tampa Bay Woman of the Year fundraiser will take place on Friday, March 2 at the Sheltair jet hangar from 6:30-11:30 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Woman of the Year title is not based on an application with the candidate’s resumé, awards or former achievements. These women volunteer their time for eight weeks to raise money and collect donations for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF). This year the 16 amazing candidates include patrol deputies, a principal, business owners and entrepreneurs, philanthropists, an esthetician, an attorney, a broker, a former WCF grant recipient, and the youngest contestant yet. Please see the inset for this year’s candidates and please support their fundraising efforts.

The Woman of the Year event features a “Jetsetter” theme and live music by The Black Honkeys, delicious food from some of the best local restaurants, complimentary drinks all night, free valet service, a tour of private jets, networking, an exclusive VIP lounge with special perks, a 50/50 raffle, silent and live auctions, and more. Sign up today!

Tickets now through Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. are $60/person, $110/couple for general admission; VIP tickets cost $110/person, $200/couple. After Feb. 9 tickets cost $80/person, $150/couple for general admission; VIP tickets are $125/person, $225/couple. Visit http://www.tampabaywoman.org for tickets and more details.

WCF is a local 501c3 charity focused on helping children and their families when they fall on an unexpected hardship. They approve financial grants for these families when a child has been diagnosed with a serious illness or the family has been stricken with a tragedy.  

The foundation has helped children all over Tampa Bay including families in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. They give 100 percent of their net proceeds from the Tampa Bay Woman of the Year and all their other fundraisers directly to families. Since their inception in 2004, they have raised and given out over $450,000 in grants by running an annual Golf Tournament, Tampa Bay Woman of the Year event, and various events throughout the year.

Just by attending this fundraiser you will be helping a family in need. Sponsorships are also available. If you have any questions, please contact Trey Corish at 545-8122 or trey@corishinsurance.com.

2018 Tampa Bay Woman of the Year Candidates

Heather Alqinneh
Kaylene Atenza
Kristine Bennett
Ashley Christine
Hannah Cushing
Kathleen Escobio
Kelly Falsetti
Alicia Gangi
Sandra Jozic
Ali Lamb
Sarena Marques
Brandy McAdams
Megan Orendorf
Lisa Patel
Andrea Patterson
Maria Sosa

By Kimberly Wander

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12 Westchase Subdivisions to Have Roads Repaved

Between the end of January and mid-summer, 12 Westchase neighborhoods as well as Countryway Boulevard will see long awaited road repaving.

Appearing at the January Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting, Hillsborough County’s David Vogel announced that $1.2 million in repaving would commence in January.

The work will see resurfacing of the roads in every Westchase village off Countryway Boulevard except gated Harbor Links/The Estates, whose roads were repaved in recent years by the Westchase Community Development District, which owns and maintains them. Also excluded are roads in Berkeley Square and The Enclave, which are owned by their homeowners associations.

In addition, the county will repave all roads in Radcliffe and within two subdivisions of The Bridges, Wakesbridge and Baybridge.

Prior to repaving, the county will complete storm drain repairs in portions of The Bridges, Radcliffe and Woodbay. The work will involve tearing up portions of particular roads for up to two weeks to replace damaged storm water inlets and pipes.

According to Vogel, repaving will be done in the following order: The Shires, Keswick Forest, Glenfield, Bennington and Wycliff will consist of Phase 1, scheduled to be completed by June of 2018. 

Curb restoration, sidewalk replacement and resurfacing will begin in February and run through April in Radcliffe and Baybridge. Work in Woodbay will begin in May and run through July.

Vogel cautioned VMs that the work will involve heavy equipment and it will be noisy. Unless weather plays a factor, work will occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. When repaving work begins, residents are asked to turn off lawn sprinkler until it is completed as crews cannot pave wet surfaces.

Homeowners and their guests should observe all posted parking restrictions in anticipation of the work to avoid seeing vehicles towed.

Vogel also estimated that repaving of the very bumpy and potholed section of Countryway Boulevard between Linebaugh Avenue and Race Track Road is currently estimated to begin in July.

Villages to See Repaving

Baybridge
Wakesbridge
Radcliffe
Derbyshire
Ayrshire
Cheshire
Keswick Forest
Bennington
Woodbay
Glenfield
Wycliff
Glencliff

By Chris Barrett, Publisher, and Brenda Bennett

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Acai Bowls Come to Westchase

Cold Pressed Juice opened in early December in the Westchase Town Center and brings with it some popular and trendy foods.

The store serves acai and pitaya bowls, smoothies and cold pressed juices. The store manager said the acai bowls had been very popular with customers. Customers can choose from several specialty bowls or create their own. Each bowl includes a fruit base with toppings such as granola, coconut chips, chia seeds and raw honey.

Acai, a small berry, and pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, are both reported to be high in antioxidants, fiber and calcium. Owner Waleid Museitef said, “In the near future we will be expanding our menu to carry various organic snacks such as kale chips, cashews, almond and various organic fruit leathers.”

According to Cold Pressed Juice’s menu, all juices are cold pressed daily at the store and are 100 percent organic. Juices are stored in a cooler at the front of the store so customers can walk in and choose the one they want. Cold Pressed Juice has 15 juices to choose from, including a cold-pressed coffee drink with almonds, dates, maple syrup and vanilla and pineapple, spinach, carrot and beet juice mixes. They also serve seven different smoothies.

While there are cold pressed juice stores throughout the Tampa area, this is the first one in Westchase. “After carefully studying the area and the services that Westchase has to offer, we noticed that our concept was not represented in the area,” said Museitef. “Juicing and acai bowls are growing trends in the United States and we felt that this would be a perfect addition to the Westchase community.  Our goal is to introduce our products and educate the residents of this community to a healthier alternative when eating.” 

Customers can receive perks and discounts, including free items, through the Perka app.

Cold Pressed Juice is located at 9652 W. Linebaugh Ave. They are open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

By Marcy Sanford

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Resident Green Thumbs Share Their Secret to Fresh Cut Flowers

Flowers from a florist can be pricey. With a little preplanning, you could be presenting your sweetheart with a homegrown bouquet next Valentine’s Day.

Woodbay resident Larry Bedgood has spent years turning his yard into a flowery paradise. When blooms are at their peak, his yard is filled with thousands of flowers and he believes in sharing them with family and friends. Each day his wife gets a bouquet of flowers and when his White Ginger Lily is in bloom, he puts one in her car every morning so she can be treated to its delightful scent. He’s even willing to share flowers with his younger neighbors. “The children in our neighborhood love this yard. They’ll come by and ask if they can make a bouquet for themselves,” he said.

Radcliffe resident Emma Diaz has perfected the art of growing the most popular flower for commercial bouquets: roses. She has varieties with interesting names like Fragrant Cloud, Purple Passion, Double Delight, Hot Cocoa, Veteran’s Honor and Pope John II. Growing roses in Tampa isn’t easy, but Diaz has managed to coax beautiful blooms and fragrant flowers out of the rose bushes in her front yard. She even has a wild rose bush in her backyard that is almost as tall as her family’s house. “You really have to work with the roses,” Diaz said. “You have to deadhead them every week. The soil here is not very good for them. You also have to be diligent about looking for bugs year-round.”

Gerbera daisies are cheerful, fun flowers to have around and the more you cut them, the more flowers you’ll get. Westwood Lakes resident Stuart Berney started growing them several years ago and now has about 35 plants. He even has orange and yellow varieties that have cross-pollinated to produce a mix of orange and yellow daisies on each plant.

When the winters are mild, the daises will start blooming in January. According to Berney, they bloom throughout the summer, are very easy to care for and are deer resistant. “They do well in full sun to partial shade. I only have to come out for about five minutes in the morning to deadhead them and the more flowers you pick, the more they flower,” he explained.

Berney added that the flowers do fine with water from the irrigation system three times a week and that they will bloom until autumn, at which time he cuts them back.

While they might not be the best cut flowers, if you are patient, a potted orchid will re-bloom again and again. Westwood Lakes resident Ellen Ehmer has more than 14 orchids that are constantly in bloom. She explained that all she has to do is plant them in orchid soil and water once a month.

For those looking to get a jumpstart on planting, Lisa, a gardening professional with Green Thumb Nursery, said they currently have several options in stock that would be good cutting flowers and, as an added bonus, are deer resistant. She suggested planting dianthus, snapdragons, delphiniums and marigolds. All will continue to produce more flowers as you cut them and will hold up well in a vase.

Happy gardening! And please remember to run changes to your yard and home exterior by the Modifications Committee before planting.

WOW is always looking for yards and houses to feature. If you have a neighbor who has a fantastic yard or have one yourself, please send the street address to Marcy Sanford at marcysanford@gmail.com.

By Marcy Sanford

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A Talent for Voices

The Greens residents Cassie and Sabrina Glow know just want they want to do when they grow up.

Older sister, Cassie, 11, wants to be a fashion designer. Sabrina, 9, loves to cook and has aspirations to be a chef. In the meantime, these sisters are well on their way to career success outside those long-term goals. Pursuing a love for performing in musical theater productions, the girls stumbled upon another passion and talent they never knew they had: voiceovers. 

After performing in musical theater productions for a local organization, the girls asked their mom about possibly working in commercials. Mom, Susan, found opportunities for them in the Orlando area for Disney. “Because of their love of reading, singing and acting and love of animation and cartoons, they became more interested in the voiceover side of the business,” Susan said.

To help her girls succeed in their newfound interest, Susan turned to the internet to research networking and marketing opportunities. She turned to Skype to work with coaches and learned how to set up audition appointments. Then she began booking jobs for the girls. “We were told we couldn’t do this from Florida and would have to move to Los Angeles or New York. But Susan found a way to make it work and the girls today are widely known among many of the top agents in the industry.

Three years in the business now, the sisters are known as the Glow Girls. With clients all over the world, they record most of their work from their home studio. On occasion, they work with a professional recording studio in the Westshore area. For special clients, they travel to New York or Los Angeles to record their voices for many special characters. Over the past few years, the girls have completed projects for Disney Junior, Nick Jr, Disney TV Animation, Universal Kids, Sesame Studios and Fisher Price. While they enjoy all the work they do, each sister has her favorites.

Cassie’s favorite is the voice she provides for the character, Henriyeti, for a Sesame Studios YouTube cartoon. This project recently won an award at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. Other favorite projects include the Disney Channel/Star Wars Sweepstakes Commercial. She was also selected to be the voice of “Thumper” for the 75th Anniversary DVD re-release for the movie Bambi. During the interview for this article, Cassie gave the writer an example of the voice she used for the character. Closing her eyes and immediately getting into character, she was able to provide a line or two of the voice of the beloved fictional rabbit. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all,” she voiced. “I have so much fun doing this,” she said. “I just love it.”

Nine-year-old Sabrina was also hired for the Bambi re-release. She provided the voice of lead character, “Bambi.” For the character “Mila” for the YouTube cartoon “Morphle TV,” which has over 2.5 million followers, Sabrina gets to switch gears by playing a villain. When asked for a demonstration of the voice, sweet Sabrina morphs into a wicked sounding creature that shoots chills through the listener.

Together the girls have been hired for more than 200 voiceover jobs. They even do accents! By watching the movie Mary Poppins more times than they can remember, they were able to develop a British accent even Queen Elizabeth might not detect isn’t original.  From cartoons to Hallmark “speaking” ornaments, the girls voices can be heard many places. “The coolest thing about this is hearing your own voice on TV or on the radio,” they shared.

“As long as they’re having fun, we’ll keep doing this,” Susan said. The girls also find time lend their voices to charity. Reading for Audiobooks for “Learning Ally” is a project the girls want to continue doing in the future. These books are recorded for children with learning disabilities, blindness and dyslexia. “It’s their way of giving back,” Susan said.  They’re set to begin a new series for “Learning Ally” this year.

Downtime for the girls means trips to Disney, which is their favorite getaway. While there, they often use voices of princesses while they enjoy the parks –  a great way to mix business and pleasure! 

By Lisa Stephens

Stephens, a resident of West Park Village, is always looking for interesting Westchase residents to profile. She can be contacted at lmsfla@verizon.net.

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New Sewage Project to Impact Westchase Entrance Beginning in May

Take a deep breath, Westchase. Another reclaimed water project is slated to impact the Sheldon Road community entrance starting in May.

It’s all part of a $210 million capital improvement project that will shut down two aged sewage plants and reroute their flow to an expanded facility behind Ed Radice Park.

The River Oaks plant at the intersection of Waters Avenue and Sheldon Road is notorious for its stink, prompting passing motorists to hold their breath until they’re well past the facility. It’s now 55-years-old and well past its useful life, according to county staff.

Under the $210 million capital improvement project, that sewage treatment plant will be shut down. The new project entails re-piping wastewater to another existing plant off South Mobley Road. Tucked at the very back of the access road to Ed Radice Park is the Northwest Wastewater Reclamation facility, which sits south of the park, surrounded by county mitigation lands between Deer Park Elementary and the southern tip of Highland Park.

Under the plan, projected to save $86 million for county taxpayers over the next 20 years, the Northwest plant is being expanded to handle the additional wastewater as well as new sewage produced by future Northwest developments. A portion of the project – the demolition of a treatment plant on Dale Mabry Highway and the rerouting of its wastewater to the plant – is complete. That portion cost an additional $35 million and resulted in work along the Citrus Park Drive median in front of Westfield’s Citrus Park Mall in 2016.

To reroute the sewage from the south, four miles of new 30- and 36-inch wastewater pipelines will be constructed between the River Oaks Plant on Waters up to the Northwest Plant. The chosen route starts at River Oaks and takes the new pipeline up Channel A and the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. The large pipes will be installed through open trenches but when the pipe intersects major thoroughfares like Linebaugh Avenue, trenchless tunnels will be bored beneath the road to minimize impacts. The county will build a new pumping station behind the county’s West Services Unit and health clinic on the east side of Sheldon Road (located just south of Linebaugh Avenue and the CSX railroad tracks). The new station, where no sewage will be treated, will have sound and odor control devices to minimize noise and odor.

Leaving the pump station, the new pipeline will then head west along Linebaugh Avenue in the median along the Costco property, cross under Linebaugh at the former Sweetbay property and shoot due north in the median of Sheldon Road. The pipeline will then cross Sheldon at the entrance to Fawn Ridge, where it will follow Fawn Ridge Boulevard before shooting due west in the utility easement along the southern border of Fawn Ridge. There it will connect with previously installed utilities.

The project, which began in January, is broken into segments ranging from 90 to 150 calendar days to complete, and will take months to finish.

Another portion of the project, the construction of a new reclaimed water line that will run from the Northwest plant down Sheldon Road to service Citrus Park, Westchase and Town ’N County, will more directly impact Westchase. That line will run down the Sheldon Road median in the area of the new sewage line and cross the road when entering Westchase at Linebaugh Avenue. The line will then proceed, through directional drilling rather than open trenches, down Westchase’s landscaped median between the Linebaugh lanes. It will tie into the existing reclaimed water main near Westchase Elementary School and TECO’s high voltage lines.

The project was briefly referenced in January WOW’s coverage of the Dec. 12 Voting Members meeting. That article included a quote from Project Manager Bill Harrington that may have given some readers the impression that work at the Linebaugh and Sheldon intersection, related to the installation of both sewer and reclaimed lines, would last about 35 days.

The installation of the reclaimed line will actually take 120 days but overall work at the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection will occur over 155 days.

"The intersection work is scheduled to begin in May and end in September," said Kara Walker of Hillsborough County's Communications Department

Harrington appeared at the January Westchase Community Development District (CDD) meeting to detail the project’s impacts on the intersection and median. In order to both bore new sewer lines and a new reclaimed water line beneath the intersection, lanes in each direction will be altered in five stages of 30 days each. In all cases, the county will maintain two through lanes and a dedicated left turn lane. Right turns will still be permitted but, in some cases, a dedicated right turn lane would temporarily not exist. The inset “Sheldon & Linebaugh Intersection Staging” that runs with this article illustrates the five stages with the areas in red indicating closed areas and the arrows showing redirected traffic flows.

Speaking to WOW in mid-December, Project Manager Bill Harrington stated the most disruptive time period for outbound Westchase commuters will last 35 days when the left hand turn lane on Linebaugh Avenue for northbound Sheldon Road will be closed for the intersection work. To compensate, the eastbound lanes will be reconfigured to still permit left turns from eastbound Linebaugh to northbound Sheldon. The current left lane for through traffic along eastbound Linebaugh will be converted into a left turn lane. Meanwhile the current dedicated right-turn lane for eastbound Linebaugh to southbound Sheldon will be converted into an additional through lane. Residents will still be able to make left and right turns. Traffic, however, will likely see disruption because the far right lane will be shared by through traffic and drivers turning right onto southbound Sheldon Road.

Harrington also assured the Westchase CDD, which maintain Westchase medians, that while pipe installation along Sheldon Road north of Westchase would be done by open trenches (the cause of the January removal of oaks in the Sheldon median outside of Fawn Ridge), the installation of a new reclaimed water line down Westchase’s median from Sheldon Road to the entrance of Westchase Elementary would be accomplished by underground directional boring, approximately 20 feet beneath existing landscaping. “There will not be open excavation,” he told supervisors. “It will be under the median.”

Harrington added, “Where we cause damage, of course, we have to restore it.”

CDD Chair Jim Mills stated to WOW, “CDD staff has already been pro-active with county personnel to fully understand what this project will mean to Westchase. As has been done with the Linebaugh Avenue project, your CDD staff, supervisors, and, if necessary, legal counsel, will closely monitor this project as well.”

Mills added, “While these projects do cause temporary inconveniences, infrastructure improvements do contribute to improved services provided to all of us by Hillsborough County.”

The Northwest Reclamation Facility is currently undergoing a significant expansion to handle the wastewater treatment for the western part of Hillsborough County. That expansion will serve the county for decades. Buffered by county owned land, the plant is incorporating noise and odor controls in order to minimize its impact on Deer Park Elementary, the Mandolin neighborhoods and Highland Park. In an effort to better control odor, the county will not treat bio-solids at the facility but move its bio-solid processing equipment to another site. Treatment tanks at the Northwest facility will also be covered and odor scrubbers installed to insure any released air is free of foul odor.

Once the lines are installed and the current expansion of the Northwest Wastewater Reclamation Facility is completed in December 2019, the River Oaks plant at Waters and Sheldon will largely be torn down. Some storage facilities may remain to help during heavy rains to help protect Tampa Bay. Public meetings will then occur to explore possible uses of that available land.

The entire project, which began in January, is expected to run into 2019. Demolition of the River Oaks plant will likely occur in late 2020 or early 2021.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Microscope on Medication

Medical science has come a long way and research continues to improve formulas for every ailment known to man.

It is truly amazing to see the progression for cures like smallpox to advancements in AIDs research and some cancers.

The best approach, in my opinion, is a hybrid approach of conventional and alternative, holistic medicine. Ideally, prevention is preferred whenever possible. The mindset of do whatever you want, and eat whatever you want until your body can’t take it anymore, then medicate, has to change. Most degenerative diseases are preventable and solutions a have often been suggested years ago. Every year scientist “discover” something my Great-grandma Ada, who could only write her name, taught me as a child, such as apple cider vinegar is good for digestion.

Nevertheless, I would never advise anyone to make changes to their prescriptions without first seeking the advice of their medical provider. For example, I often hear people resist taking blood pressure medication. High blood pressure can damage your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. You can potentially cause irreparable damage. Therefore, a better plan might be to use medication, and at the same time, work to restore your health to lessen your dependence on medication.

A huge challenge is the power of the pharmaceutical industry. It is over $1 trillion dollars annually. That’s a whole lot of money. The U.S. market accounts for the largest portion of these revenues. You can see where that may present a conflict of not wanting people to restore their health without a potpourri of prescription drugs. Moreover, medication frequently has potential risk and side effects.

Research varies widely, but the between 100,000 and 125,000 Americans die from prescription drugs annually. Of those, it is estimated that one-fifth take the prescriptions as prescribed! Depending on the resource, it is estimated that 700,000 ER trips each year are due to adverse reactions to drugs.

Suggestions for taking medicinal responsibility include:

• Team with medical providers you trust.
• Ask questions.
• Make sure your all of your physicians are aware of medications you are taking.
• Be knowledgeable of the side effects.
• Have a heavily plant-based diet.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Walk and strength train regularly.

By Shannon Thigpen

Shannon Thigpen is a Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist who teaches at the YMCA and trains privately. Visit http://www.shannonthigpen.com<./p>

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Westchase Recreation Center Programs: February

Adult

Zumba
Join Greg and Peggy to dance and enjoy Caribbean rhythms.
When: Sat, 10 a.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Insane Fit Girls
Small group fitness training exclusively for women and tailored to your personal fitness level and goals in a supportive and safe group setting. Please email elaine@insanefitgirls.com.
When: Tue, Thu, Fri, 9:15 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Badminton
Recreational play for adults to socialize, exercise and have fun!
When: Wed, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Seniors

Senior Field Trips
The first Thursday of every month seniors are offered a chance to take a variety of destination trips. To reserve your spot please call 964-2948. We are always looking for new ideas!

Thu, Feb. 1: Disney Springs Orlando
Thu, March 1: Strawberry Festival
Thu, April 5: Tampa Fun Boat

Seniors Outdoor Active Recreation (S.O.A.R.)
Seniors will have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful parks and resources with a guided tour.

Thu, Feb. 13: Cockroach Bay
Tue, March 13:  Green Swamp

Ballroom Dancing
No experience or partner required. Enhance your social skills and exercise while having fun!
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Aerobics Lite
A fun movement class designed for active seniors who love to stay fit while exercising to music.
When: Tue, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $2/Class

Yoga
Come to the gentle yoga class and learn how to tone and stretch your body while incorporating ancient practices to calm the mind and rejuvenate the spirit.
When: Thu, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Chair Yoga
Chair Yoga is designed for those who find it challenging to get up and down from the floor. It is also appropriate for those with balance issues. In this class, classical yoga poses will be taught with the aid of a chair.
When: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Pickleball Instruction Beginners*
Learn the fundamentals and rules of the game. Please call to schedule: 964-2948.
When: Mon, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m.  
Cost: Free

Pickleball Open Play*
Pickleball is a racquet sport combining the elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sat 2-4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Pickleball League Play*
Compete against other players at your skill level in league play. Please email kingsburym@hcflgov.net for more details.
When: Fri, 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Tone and Stretch
Exercise to build strength and flexibility and increase range of motion.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Walking Club
Rain or shine, the gym is open. Join your friends and track your progress.
When: Mon-Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Appy Hour
Bring your cell phone or tablet and learn how to use the latest apps.
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Youth

Playing with Clay
Explore multiple ways to create and decorate works of clay art. All creations will be kiln fired and painted the following class. Parents must stay and help children under 5.
Ages: All ages
When: Fri, 10 a.m.
Cost: $10+$2 materials fee per class; each project requires 2 classes

Hip Hop with a Purpose
Exploring the rich history and culture of Hip Hop dance. 
Ages: 8+
When: Fri, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Young Engineers
Join our fun and enriching science class where you’ll study a principle of physics, mathematics and mechanical engineering through experiments using original and motorized LEGO bricks. For more info email tampafl@e2.youngengineers.com.
When: Tue, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class plus one-time $10 registration fee.

Arts and Smarts
Hands-on enrichment classes featuring a variety of topics. Visit http://artsandsmartsinc.weebly.com or email artsandsmartsinc@gmail.com for class topics and registration information. It’s fun and learning – together.
Ages: 8 and up
When: Thu, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class

Pure Art
While working with a variety of materials and techniques, learn about famous artists (http://www.purearttampa.com).
Grades: K-5
When: First and third Sat, 9:30 -10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-noon
Fee: $10/Class

Eagle Claw Kung Fu
Come and learn an effective, combat-proven martial arts form and stay fit while participating.
Ages: 8 and up
When: Tue, 6:15-7:15 p.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Karate Do
Increase fitness, strength, flexibility and awareness. Karate teaches practical self-defense while reducing stress and tension and improving self-confidence.
Ages: 4 and up
When: Mon, Wed, 6:15 p.m.; Sat, 11:15 a.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Karate Do Black Belt Society
All black belts are welcome!
Ages: 15 and up
When: Sat, 2 p.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Girls Elementary Volleyball
Learn the basic skills and fundamentals of competitive play and have lots of fun!
Ages: Grades 3-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Girls Middle School Volleyball
Join our character-based program teaching volleyball skills, fundamentals and footwork.
Ages: Grades 6-8
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Tots

Toddler Time*
Activity zones are placed throughout the gym for toddlers to explore and socialize and play on with parent participation.
Ages: 5 and under
When: Thu, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Music and Mi
This mommy and mi class is a fun and educational approach to social, cognitive, self-esteem development. Classes include nursery rhymes, music and movement, sensory play, and much more. Visit http://www.facebook.com/musicandmi/ or contact dunialr@gmail.com for more information. 
Ages: 10 months-4 years
Cost: $3 Registration. $5 per session.

Basketball*

Middle-School Basketball*
Participants must be signed up in the Rec Trac system to participate in Open Gym.
When: Fri, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

High School Basketball*
Participants must be signed up in the Rec Trac system to participate in Open Gym.
When: Fri, 7:30-8:45 p.m.
Cost: Free

Family Open Gym*
Gym is open to families
When: Sat, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Adult Open Gym*
When: Thu, 6-9 p.m., and Sat, 7:30-11 a.m.
Cost: Free

*Online account required to participate.

All activities take place at:

Westchase Recreation Center
9791 Westchase Dr.
Tampa, FL 33626
(813) 964-2948

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WOW Visits Lyon and Pompeii

WOW continued its widespread travels last summer with stops in France and Italy.

The first photo is of Mandolin Estates residents Maelle and Sophie Bernard. They are standing on the roof of Notre Dame de Fourviere in Lyon, France, a city of about a half million people. Lyon sits in eastern France, about 50 miles from Geneva Switzerland.

The Gothic Revival basilica opened in 1872 after being built from 1872-1884. The basilica is constructed on what is called the praying hill, a site of the old Roman forum of Trajan, a Roman emperor. The basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, whose intercession Lyon residents credited with saving them from the bubonic plague, ravishing Europe in 1643. A symbol of Lyon, the basilica offers a grand view of the city from its north tower. The basilica hosts a museum of sacred art and sees two million visitors annually. Designed by Pierre Bossan, the structure, containing an upper and lower church, reflects both Gothic and Byzantine influences.

Last summer also found the Leveziel-Lacalle family of Woodbridge traveling to Italy. During the trop, Biance Leveziel, 12, posed in in Pompeii, Italy, standing in front of what her mom, Sylvia, identified as La Basilique, dating to 130-120 BC. The building likely was a tribunal where tribunes met with the local population about local government matters.

Located near modern Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum were largely destroyed and buried by volcanic ash when nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. At the time of its destruction, it was home to 11,000-11,500 people.

The site lay buried for 1,500 years until its initial discovery in 1599 and later more broadly rediscovered in 1748 by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. During the discovery, plaster was used to fill the voids in the ash where human bodies were entombed, allowing archaeologists to see the citizens’ position as they died. While popular tales over the years have often depicted the disaster’s victims as suffocating from falling ash, the town’s inhabitants were nearly instantly killed by heat of up to 450 degrees from a pyroclastic flow from the volcano.

Because of its preservation of life in the Roman Empire, Pompeii remains a popular tourist destination in Italy.

Take WOW on Your Winter Trips!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your winter trips outside of Florida. Send in a photo of you or your family holding WOW in an interesting place, and you will receive between $60 and $100. Simply send the photos to Editor@WestchaseWOW.com with a few sentences about your trip and the location of the photo(s).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Meet Orchid and Dooley!

Orchid (front) and Dooley are 11-year-old half brother and sister greyhounds, rescued eight years ago by their owners, Fred and Betty Freshcorn of Mandolin Reserve.

For nearly eight years Orchid and Dooley have been making weekly Pet Therapy visits to Mease Countryside Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center, and assisted living facilities, Manor Care and Arden Courts. Individually, Dooley and Orchid have accumulated more than 1,000 volunteer hours reducing blood pressures while creating smiles. They enjoy what they do.

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Lowry Announces STEM Fair Winners

As always, Lowry Elementary is proud of all of the hard work that its students put in throughout the school year. The fall was no exception! Lowry would like to recognize some of the students who went above and beyond and were recognized with special awards.

Third grade recently had a More Health presentation on the dangers of poisons. Students were asked to guess which liquids were edible and which were poisonous, and learned many ways to keep safe from poisons. Third grade will enjoy a field trip this month to The Florida Aquarium and are also looking forward to the Scholastic Book Fair coming to Lowry at the end of the month.

Lowry teachers also had tough decisions to make while judging student STEM Fair projects. The results are:

Kindergarten: Mrs. Fleishman’s Class with Gummy Bears Take a Dip!
First Grade: Mrs. Goulder’s Class with How Cold is Your Cup?
Second Grade: Mrs. Gladden’s AGP Class with Candle Burn-Out
Third Grade Group Winners: Mrs. Saa, Ms. Hoffman and Mrs. Weller’s Class with Attraction Action on Magnets! (Students: Roshan Amin, Savannah Kresge, Amelia Harrison and Jack Niewierski)
Fourth Grade Winners: Sophia Sant from Mrs. Nokaj’s and Ms. Spark’s Class with Which Brands Pop a Greater Percentage of Popcorn?; Victoria [vulgarity] from Mrs. Gladden’s Class with Which Sorbent Soaks up the Most Oil Overnight?
Fifth Grade Winners: Alexis Spirides from Mrs. Green’s and Mrs. Weller’s Class with Color Contest; Lana Tran from Mrs. Green’s and Mrs. Weller’s Class with Does Hand Size Affect Piano Skills?

Congratulations to all the winners! On Feb. 12, these students will be competing in district competitions. Good luck!

By Alexus Bauguess and Isabella Smith

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Romance is Alive and Well at Donatello

It’s February. That means romance, roses and maybe some diamonds are in store.

It also usually means planning a special Valentine’s Day dinner for your significant other. There are lots of great choices for a romantic meal in Tampa Bay, including several that I have reviewed previously like Eddie V’s, Sacred Pepper and Nabruzzi. This month, I add one more to the list: Donatello.

Located just north of Kennedy on Dale Mabry, Donatello is a bit of a hidden gem. When you enter, you’ll be greeted effusively by the Maître d’, who will seat you and chat with the tuxedo-clad staff in Italian. The service is high-class all the way.

This is a place where the waiter puts the napkin on your lap for you, and your glass will never be empty. Enough said.

The ambiance at Donatello definitely fits the bill if you are looking for romance – low light, crisp pink linen tablecloths, fresh flowers, pink paint on the walls. Much of the framed art even falls into the “Romance” category. Don’t expect a lot of privacy, though. There are a few booths along the walls that allow for some seclusion, but for the most part the room is open. However, low ceilings and Romanesque arches help break up the space and give it a bit of a European, old-world feel.

Begin with a glass (or bottle) of wine from the expansive wine menu, which I’m pretty sure is bigger than the actual menu. For appetizers, we went traditional with Bruchetta ($4.95). Two pieces of toasted Italian bread are topped with fresh garlic, tomatoes and basil. Simple, but delicious. Next up was the Tortellini in Brodo Di Pollo ($15.95), a chicken broth–based soup with fresh sausage and ham tortellini. Top with some grated parm, and you’ve got a winner. Again, simple but tasty.

For the entrée, my dining partner selected the Cannelloni Donatello ($28.95) – I call it lasagna with a Donatello twist. The presentation is a bit enchilada-like, but the flavor is all Italian. Hand-rolled pasta is stuffed with veal and mozzarella and topped with Donatello’s delicious house-made tomato sauce. It was cheesy and amazing – and just the right amount.

I tried the Pollo Piccata ($27.95). The sauce was buttery and lemony and teeming with capers, but it wasn’t overpowering and the chicken was tender. It was served with the most amazing green beans I have ever had along with a tasty croquette.

We shared a fantastic piece of house-made tiramisu ($12.95) and a foamy cappuccino ($5) to cap off an amazing meal. There is no denying the food at Donatello is authentic, and really everything we tried was terrific. It is a bit pricey, but for a special occasion (or even just a random Saturday) you should splurge.

Donatello also has a jazz/piano bar area adjacent to the dining room. I didn’t get a chance to visit, but it looked exactly like you would expect a jazz bar to look, and there’s live music every night, making it the perfect place to stop for a nightcap after a delicioso meal.

Donatello
http://www.donatellotampa.com
232 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Reservations via Open Table or call 875-6660

By Melanie Casey

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Troop 46 Announces New Arrowmen

Troop 46 recently celebrated two new members of BSA’s Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honor Society.

For over 100 years, the Order of the Arrow (OA) has been an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), providing positive youth leadership and identifying Scouts who best exemplify the Scout oath and law in their daily lives. Arrowmen, or Brothers, as they are more commonly known, are respected for maintaining camping traditions and spirit and providing cheerful service to others.

Troop 46 celebrated two of its newest Arrowmen, Justin Boyles and Tristan Goodrich. Boyles, 14, a freshman at Steinbrenner High School, began his Scouting journey as a Cub Scout with Pack 648. He is a freshman at Steinbrenner High School and an alto saxophonist in the GSHS Warriors wind ensemble and marching band as well as JROTC. He and his family live in Mandolin Estates.

Goodrich, 14, also started his Scouting journey as a Bobcat in Pack 648 and is now a freshman at Sickles High School, and a tenor trombonist in the wind ensemble, jazz band, and marching band of the SHS Wall of Sound Gryphons. He and his parents live in West Hampton. Both young men are Life Scouts currently on their journey to Eagle Scout.

To achieve their status, both were elected by their Troop after qualifying for the annual opportunity, and then participated in an OA Ordeal (induction ceremony) held at Odessa’s Camp Brorein. It involved service projects, reflection and other challenges.

Boyles and Goodrich are now members of the Uh-Tō-Yeh-Hut-Tee Lodge in Tampa. Troop 46 Eagle Candidate and Arrowman James Smith, also a freshman at Sickles High School, serves as the OA representative for Troop 46.

In the U.S., the Order of the Arrow consists of nearly 300 lodges. Nearly one million people have been members of the Order of the Arrow, living the ideals of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. For more information about the Order of the Arrow and Scouting go to http://www.tampabayscouting.org/oa or www.oa.bsa.org.

Troop 46 meets most Mondays at the First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway; our Scoutmaster is David Smith. Stop by any time to find out about joining Scouting. The Troop plans exciting camping trips monthly.

By Tristan Goodrich

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Linebaugh Construction to See February Completion

It’s been one of the most disruptive, controversial construction projects in Westchase history.

And this month, fingers crossed, it will end.

The nearly year-long construction on Linebaugh Avenue between Radcliffe Drive and Montague Street aimed to replace a leaking and failing reclaimed water main. The contractor, Westra, had an inauspicious start last April when its original median cut-outs for Linebaugh Avenue, aimed at keeping two lanes of traffic flowing on the road, were abruptly shut down by Hillsborough County as too dangerous.

It was back to the drawing board, which resulted in delays and significantly longer cut-outs that allowed more gradual lane changes.

But the controversies didn’t end there.

As Category 4 Hurricane Irma threatened Tampa Bay in September, Westchase leaders and residents protested that Westra and Hillsborough County inadequately prepared the site for the storm, leaving behind heavy barrels and port-o-potties to potentially become airborne and threaten nearby homes in West Park Village and The Fords.

Soon after, citing traffic delays and near rear-end collisions from left turns off Linebaugh, county officials temporarily banned eastbound Linebaugh from turning into The Fords, forcing its residents to drive down to Montague Street to make U-turns. County officials and Westra announced the ban would be in place for two months, but it remained for months after the originally promised two-month period ended.

In January, word finally came that the project, which the county originally announced would take a full year, would be concluding a few months earlier than May.

Hillsborough County informed the community that Westchase’s reclaimed water service was shut off from Tuesday, Jan. 16 through Thursday, Jan. 18. The interruption was necessary for one of the finishing touches. Westra was tying the new pipe into existing smaller lines serving Gretna Green and Montague Street. Once the new pipe is connected and tested successfully (which was slated to occur after the deadline for February’s WOW), Westra stated it would wrap up construction and begin restoring the Linebaugh median and the road’s lanes to their original appearance. 

In a Jan. 11 email to Hillsborough County Project Manager Jim Duncan, Westra Project Manager Matt Hester estimated that the original Linebaugh traffic pattern will be restored by Feb. 19 – including left turns into The Fords.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Crime in 33626: December 2017

Battery-Simple

12/1

10000 Bradwell Pl.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/2

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Battery-Simple

12/3

Bayaud Dr./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Theft From A Vehicle

12/3

8900 Citrus Village Dr.

DUI

12/3

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Smuggling Offenses

12/3

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/4

9500 West Park Village Dr.

Curtilage With Theft

12/4

11800 Cypress Crest Cr.

Battery-Simple

12/4

11800 Cypress Crest Cr.

Theft From A Building

12/4

11700 Lake Aston Ct.

Forgery

12/4

10300 Springrose Dr.

Fraud-Swindle

12/4

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/4

9500 West Park Village Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/4

9500 West Park Village Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

12/4

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/5

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Shoplifting

12/5

7900 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

12/6

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Grand Theft-All Other

12/6

9600 Woodbay Dr.

Battery-Simple

12/8

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Fraud-Swindle

12/8

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

12/8

8800 Tropical Palm Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/9

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/10

8900 Fox Tl.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/14

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Battery-Simple

12/15

10500 Montague St.

Disorderly Conduct

12/15

10500 Montague St.

Stalking Violations

12/15

9400 West Park Village Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

12/15

9300 Rockport Pl.

Curtilage With Theft

12/16

12100 Canterbury Park Ct.

Loitering/Prowling

12/16

9100 Lakechase Island Wy.

Battery-Simple

12/16

11900 Meridian Point Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/17

W. Linebaugh Ave./Stable Gate Ln.

Drug Paraphernalia

12/17

W. Linebaugh Ave./Stable Gate Ln.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

12/17

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

12/18

14000 Waterville Cr

Fraud-Other

12/19

10700 Beagle Run Pl.

Grand Theft-All Other

12/19

13000 Race Track Rd.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/19

Race Track Rd./Reptron Blvd.

Curtilage With Theft

12/20

10300 Lightner Bridge Dr.

Fraud-Other

12/21

13100 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

12/23

12300 Ashville Dr.

Grand Theft-All Other

12/23

12200 Glencliff Cr.

Battery-Simple

12/23

11200 Windsor Place Cr.

DUI

12/25

Sheldon Rd./Citrus Park Town Center Blvd.

Theft From A Vehicle

12/27

9900 Tate Ln.

Fraud-Swindle

12/27

8500 Fawn Creek Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

12/28

9100 Lakechase Island Wy.

Burglary Other Structure

12/28

10000 Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/29

9400 Woodbay Dr.

Burglary Residence/Forced

12/29

11900 Middlebury Dr.

Civil Matter

12/29

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/29

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.

Burglary Residence/Forced

12/30

11700 Derbyshire Dr.

Burglary-Armed

12/30

11700 Derbyshire Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/31

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/31

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Drug Paraphernalia

12/31

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

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In Search of Manatees

One of the benefits of living in Florida is having access to the many interesting animals that call our state home.

Now through the end of March is a great time to go in search of manatees. When the temperature in the ocean drops below 68 degrees, the herbivorous marine mammals also known as sea cows go in search of warmer water, which they often find closer to shore or in clear springs that maintain constant temperatures. We have spotted manatees swimming around the piers at the marinas in Safety Harbor and Dunedin, and they can often be spotted in Spring Bayou near historic Tarpon Springs. But if you want to see a cluster of manatees, make the drive to one of the hot spots below.

Hundreds of manatees flock to Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach during the winter months thanks to warm water that is discharged into the Bay from the power station. The viewing center offers a walkway that extends over the water, an observation tower and an environmental education museum. They also have a snack bar and museum shop. We’ve spotted sharks, stingrays and dolphins on our visits. It is a very easy place for manatee lovers of all ages to visit.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the year-round home to four manatees that are unable to survive in the wild. During the winter months, the park opens a gate and allows wild manatees to swim into the warm spring water. The park has an observatory that allows you to get an underwater view of the manatees and fish while staying dry. Homosassa Springs is also home to black bears, bobcats, alligators and a hippopotamus. As a bonus, they offer educational manatee programs three times a day.

Three Sisters Springs is the largest winter refuge for manatees on the Florida Gulf Coast. As many as 500 manatees have been counted taking refuge in the springs during the coldest months. During manatee season, Nov. 15 through March 31, you can only access the springs by swimming in or by walking along the quarter-mile boardwalk that runs around one section of the springs. From April 1 through Nov. 14 you can access the springs by kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.

It’s important to remember that manatees visit warmer water during the winter months in order to reserve energy needed for survival. As with all wildlife, you should be on your best behavior and treat the manatees with respect – look, but don’t touch – no matter where you are.

Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center
http://www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc

Homossasa Springs Wildlife State Park
http://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Homosassa-Springs

Three Sisters Springs
http://www.threesistersspringsvisitor.org

Photos appear courtesy of Visit Florida.

By Marcy Sanford

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MOMS Club Rings in the New Year

We’re starting off the year with a bang!

The MOMS Club of Westchase bundled up and braved the cooler weather in January with a ton of outdoor activities. We rang in the new year at Highland Park with a Noon Year’s Eve playdate, complete with a countdown to noon, festive snacks and noisemakers. In addition, our Seahorses celebrated the New Year with a fireworks craft in the park.

The moms had a post-holiday venting session, otherwise known as a moms’ night out, at Wild Rover Brewery the first week of January. We also continued our monthly new member brunch, where we greet and get to know new and potential MOMS Club members.

We celebrated National Popcorn Day with all different varieties of popcorn at an open play on Jan. 19. The following week we headed over to Safety Harbor for an open-air lunch bunch at the Whistle Stop Grill & Bar, where fried green tomatoes reign supreme. Our Starfish play group celebrated Gasparilla with a pirate-themed playdate, and we ended the month with a visit to Lowry Park Zoo.

This month we donated to Kind Mouse, whose mission is to assist families in transition and their chronically hungry children while developing the next generation of volunteers to carry on the mission of The Kind Mouse. For February the club is honoring the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day with a financial contribution and encouraging all our members to wear red on Feb. 2. The mission of National Wear Red Day is to help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.

We are always looking to connect with new moms and local businesses - if you have a business or a babe, please visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure you’ll want us for keeps!

By Heather Dagostino

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