Advertise in the WOW | My Account | Log In
New User Registration | Search | Contact Us

VMs Hear TECO Presentation on Street Lights

WCA President Ruben Collazo began the Nov. 13 Voting Members meeting by declaring a “drama free zone for tonight.”

Collazo thanked Rick Goldstein, chair of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), saying, “He is the hardest working board member in Westchase” before having Goldstein introduce TECO Supervisor of Field Engineer Lighting Lee Isham.

Isham began by saying that all over the nation, everyone is changing to LED lighting and TECO is also going that route. He explained that they had filed with the Public Service Commission to get brand new lighting in our area, which has about 230,000 lights. He said that they do get complaints about problems with glare and can address those issues, but warned against people trying to fix it themselves. TECO has the ability to add shielding to these newer lights at no additional cost to the customer but they would like to batch them to lessen the expenses involved.

Voting Member (VM) Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) said she had noticed one or two being switched in The Bridges but wondered why they weren’t being done in mass to save money. Isham responded that currently they are switching them only when they need to for maintenance, but requests can be made to do them in phases. TECO would need an agreement that the lights would be kept for 10 years but if the community wants to change them in mass, they can schedule this.

In light of discussions that some homeowners had taken it upon themselves to spray paint the lights black because the glare was coming into their homes, Isham said that the community is fully responsible for vandalism to fixtures that requires TECO to come out and each light costs at least $1,000. He added that if people have issues with lighting, they can call TECO at (813) 635-1500 to report them. TECO can schedule a site visit and add a shield. The shield is aluminum and is inside the fixture itself. Isham also said that the newer lights do have more advanced capabilities that TECO is testing for such things as crime prevention, camera software and drone docking stations.

Moving on to new business items, VMs gave their final approval for the Storm Door Guideline for Stonebridge and the final approval for the exterior color palette for the Reserve at West Park Village Building 5. VMs also offered their quick, unanimous, initial approval for the exterior color palette for the Reserve at West Park Village Buildings 6 and 7.

Collazo then announced that the Voting Member for The Enclave had not shown up for more than six VM meetings, which requires a mandatory removal. VMs’ vote to formalize the removal was also unanimous.

Collazo then said he needed to report an unsettling and unprecedented news item. He stated that at the Sept. 11 the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board elections, the association had a candidate who was not eligible. That candidate, Emily Harkins, did garner eight votes. To be on the board, a director must be an owner or the spouse of an owner, which she was not. Collazo said that had if she had been elected to the board, it would have been a major issue because everything done after that point would have had to be redone. As it stands, Harkins’ eight votes were tossed out and will not count. Collazo said that from now on, candidates need to be vetted, including those who declare from the floor.

Collazo also informed the group that Association Manager Debbie Sainz and he had tried to reach out to Grady Pridgen, the developer for the Westchase Station, planned for the southern side of Tate Lane at the end of Montague Street in West Park Village. Collazo stated they had been unsuccessful in reaching them. Goldstein will be meeting with the Hillsborough County in early December and it is one item on the agenda for discussion. The initial plan was for 38 to 40 two-story townhomes in the $400K price range close to the railroad tracks.

Heather Greeley, Chair of the Covenants Committee, made a request for a new committee member. She said that committee members must be an owner, not a spouse of an owner, and must have his or her name on the home’s title to be considered. The Covenants Committee meets the first Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m. and the time commitment is about an hour or so monthly. The committee considers fines the association imposes for unresolved deed restriction violations. Anyone interested can contact Greeley at heather.greeleyhessefort@gmail.com or (813) 610-4364.

During the open question session, several VMs asked about the construction at Sheldon and Linebaugh. Goldstein responded that it will be coming to an end, but the county had encountered some issues when they were burrowing underground, which caused delays. Doug Mays (Field Manager) from the CDD who attended along with Sonny Whyte (Office Manager) explained that the CDD was not responsible for the re-landscaping of the median and added that the county would be replanting it.

[Editor’s note: While construction affecting eastbound Linebaugh’s northbound turn lanes onto Sheldon Road has currently concluded, the county has told CDD staff that it intends to close those turn lanes again in approximately three months to lengthen the turn lane. The project to extend the turn lanes was initially scheduled to begin in October, but the county postponed it due to construction delays on the sewer project. According to CDD staff, it was also postponed to avoid impacting holiday traffic.]

Goldstein also updated the group that construction of the Citrus Park Extension would begin soon. He also added that he had tried repeatedly to reach out to the owners of the commercial property holding the old 7-Eleven at the intersection of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh but had been unsuccessful.

Closing on a positive note, Goldstein thanked Mays and Whyte for all the work they do for the CDD, which met with applause from the meeting attendees.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:42 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Nov. 15, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Wizard Walk Raises $83,000

October was a month of investing in the future at Westchase Elementary. Events were held to help the community learn more about the issues and candidates in preparation for the Nov. 6 election. On Oct. 2, the PTA hosted a Meet the Candidates event at Westchase Golf Club. Many thanks to Steve Cona and Bill Person, candidates for Hillsborough County School Board (District 1), for being there to share their views and answer questions. On Oct. 3, School Superintendent Jeff Eakins joined the community at the Westchase Recreation Center to discuss the proposed Education Referendum. Let your vote be your voice on Nov. 6! Check out a sample ballot and learn more about the issues at http://www.votehillsborough.org

.

Also an investment in the future, the PTA hosted training for volunteers for the Junior Achievement (JA) program. JA is a non-profit organization focused on promoting financial literacy and a spirit of entrepreneurship in our youth. Parent volunteers sign up to facilitate the JA program for each of our Westchase Elementary classes. To learn more about JA and all their programs, check out http://www.juniorachievement.org To vo.lunteer or ask questions specific to the programs at Westchase Elementary, contact Clare Himes at clare.himes@gmail.com.

We couldn’t cap off October without a tremendous “thank you” to the community and especially our sponsors for the Westchase Wizard Walk. Thanks to this generous support, the school was able to raise $83,000 toward new technology and a covered PE court.

Can you believe it is already November? There are many things to celebrate and be thankful for as the holiday season approaches. Westchase Elementary PTA will host its annual Veterans Day Program on Friday, Nov. 9 to demonstrate our gratitude to our veterans. There will be a Hospitality Breakfast for veterans and active military personnel at 8 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room. The breakfast will be followed by a patriotic school-wide celebration on the covered courts at 9 a.m. Veterans and active military personnel may R.S.V.P. to the breakfast by emailing Kelly Fountain at events@westchasepta.org.

All parents are invited to attend the celebration on the covered courts at 9 a.m. There will be a flag ceremony and performances by the Westchase Spellbound and Little Wizards Choruses. Davidsen Middle School Jazz Band, Orchestra, and Chorus will also be in attendance to pay musical tribute to our veterans.

In November we also celebrate and appreciate the unique talents, skills and cultures in our Westchase community. The Great American Teach-in will be held on Nov. 15 where parents and members of the community will be invited to share information about their careers and hobbies with students. Then, on Nov. 29, cuisine from various cultures will be shared during the PTA general meeting. Both are great opportunities for students to develop an appreciation for diversity.

Keep connected on all important November dates by visiting the Westchase PTA website at http://www.westchasepta.org and make sure to like us on Facebook so you can stay current on the latest happenings at Westchase.

Important November Events

8         Spirit Night, 3-8 p.m. at PDQ
9         Veterans Day Program, 9 a.m. at Covered Courts
12       No School: Veterans Day 
13       Picture Retakes
14-15  Last week of Fall ASE
13-16  Fall Book Fair
15       Great American Teach-In
19-23  No School: Fall Break
26       Students Return to School
29       Second General Meeting/International Night, 5:30 p.m. in MPR 

By Clare Himes

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Flying Fitness

Have you heard of Aerial Yoga?

Think of how incredible trapeze artists look as they swing and make beautiful poses 100 feet in the air. While aerial yoga is not that, it does incorporate the basic elements of striking beautiful yoga poses while suspended approximately three feet off the ground.

Aerial yoga uses bright colored fabric made of sturdy silk or nylon. The fabric is anchored with strong support chains then webbed securely to hold 2,000 pounds. Hanging from the ceiling, it can easily be gathered together in your hands, to make a swing that you can sit on or step in for poses like warrior or tree. Yet when the material is spread wide like a hammock, your body can fit inside it like a cocoon. The yoga pose known as (floating) shavasana is then achieved by simply lying flat and relaxing in the hammock.

There are basic poses you can perform with one leg in the silk and the other on the floor. An aerial lunge, for example, has one leg in the silk and can create a deep stretch. The poses progress in difficulty and include a variety of backbends and inversions. It challenges you in ways not possible from the floor. You develop upper body strength and a stronger core as you maneuver and balance.

Aerial yoga is now offered in gyms and studios around the country. I recently visited Wendy Fit studio, a local studio in Palm Harbor, for my first aerial yoga class. I found it invigorating and challenging. Because I practice yoga regularly, there were many things that came naturally.

I took a basic class. My knowledgeable instructor, Julie Ludlow, was kind and patient. Because the class size was small, she was very attentive and assisted the class with some of the more difficult poses. Using the silk, I was able to do some inversions that I cannot achieve on the floor. It was exciting and a lot of fun. I left feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Cindy Ginsberg of Westwood Lakes has taken many classes. “You work muscles you didn’t know you had,” she said. “There is a feeling of flying, and over time I improved.”

If you are looking for a new adventurous workout, why not try Aerial Yoga?

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>

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Crime in 33626: September 2018

33626 Crime: September

Drugs/Narcotics

9/1

10000 Montague St.

Drug Paraphernalia

9/1

10000 Montague St.

Warrant in County

9/1

10800 Preservation View Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/4

14600 Corkwood Dr.

Accidental Injury

9/4

11500 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

9/4

9600 Gretna Green Dr.

Battery on Elderly—Simple

9/4

8900 Citrus Vlg Dr.

Battery—Simple

9/5

13900 Lynmar Blvd.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/5

11900 Dietz Dr.

Battery—Simple

9/6

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Burglary Business/Forced

9/6

10400 Sheldon Rd.

Warrant in County

9/6

13300 Kearney Wy.

Battery—Simple

9/6

9900 Montague St.

Harassing/Obscene

9/9

12800 Stanwyck Cr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

9/11

10500 Castleford Wy.

Criminal Mischief Felony

9/13

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Harassing/Obscene

9/13

9800 Brompton Dr.

Grand Theft—All Other

9/13

10300 Abbotsford Dr.

Warrant in County

9/13

9800 Meadow Field Cr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/14

11300 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Health/Safety

9/14

9300 Lakechase Island Wy.

Grand Theft—All Other

9/17

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Theft from A Building

9/17

9100 Carolina Wren Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

9/18

10700 Spring Mountain Pl.

DUI

9/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant out of County

9/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery—Simple

9/20

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

9/21

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/21

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Fire Investigation

9/25

13100 Race Track Rd.

Theft of Bicycle

9/25

9700 Westchase Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

9/25

10300 Countryway Blvd.

Petit Theft—All Other

9/26

10000 Parley Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/26

9600 Magnolia Blossom Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/27

12500 Bronco Dr.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

MOMS Club of Westchase Plans Fall Fun

Happy fall y’all!

This October the MOMS club had a blast indulging in everything fall and Halloween related. We started off celebrating National Taco Day at Tijuana Flats and had a fabulous Moms Day Out for brunch at Oystercatchers. We had a family day and drove up to Sweetfields Farm where the kids enjoyed hay rides, corn mazes, petting animals and a great cup of apple cider. Then we visited the West Bay nursing home, where the children put on a Halloween Parade for the folks there. We ended the month with a smashing Halloween Party.

The MOMS Club charity for this month included a monetary donation to a member’s mother who suffered a stroke. We will also be making another monetary donation to a member for her to Walk to End Alzheimer’s and later in November holding a food drive for Acheson Attic, which helps families in the Tampa area.

One thing I love about being a member of the MOMS Club is the Facebook page. Not only does it connect you to every member, but it is filled with advice, old toys and clothes for sale or to take off someone hands—even the best recommendations for dinners, handymen and doctors. I have posted on the page before asking if anyone wanted to take some moving boxes and within five minutes I had a mom coming the next day to pick them up. I know that some mothers think that in order be in the club you have to participate in the activities, but if you are unable to make our playdate and festivities, the Facebook page is a great way to stay connected to your neighborhood and to receive support from moms.

If you are a mom or a mom-to-be wanting to get connected to this wonderful group, please visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com Inter.ested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure that you will want to continue your motherhood journey with us.

By Kelly Walton

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Now You Can Track Your Mail

Are you taking advantage of the United States Postal System (USPS) feature called Informed Delivery? 

With Informed Delivery you can digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon! Informed Delivery allows you to view grayscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mail and track packages in one convenient location. (Images are only provided for letter-sized mail that are processed through USPS' automated equipment.)

It’s an easy way to preview what’s coming your way.  It’s free.  Just go to USPS.com. Near the upper right corner, click on Informed Delivery, and get enrolled.

By Keith Heinemann

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen Seeks Great American Teach-In Volunteers

Parents, grandparents and community members are invited to share their work and life experiences at the annual Great American Teach-In on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Volunteer now and give Davidsen students a real insight into the world of work and careers. Registration forms are available in the front office, media center or online at davidsen.mysdhc.org

DMS offers a year-round food pantry for Dragon families in need. If you’d like to donate non-perishable food items, you may drop them at the front office at any time.

The Davidsen Dance program invites you to their Winter Showcase on Friday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Alonso High School Auditorium.

All Davidsen parents are invited to attend the monthly Student Advisory Committee meetings (SAC), held on the last Thursday of every month at 8:15 a.m. The next meeting is Nov. 29.

The Eighth Grade Committee will be selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the last Friday of every month. One dozen doughnuts is $10. The next sale is Nov. 30.

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 November Dates

6          PTSA Board Meeting, 8:15 a.m.
12       Non-Student Day/Veterans Day
15       Great American Teach-In
19-23  Fall Break
29       SAC Meeting
30       Krispy Kreme Doughnut Sale
30       Davidsen Dance Winter Showcase, 6:30 p.m. at Alonso High

By Carolyn Reynolds

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

New WCA Director Aims to Bridge Divide

Newly appointed Westchase Community Association (WCA) member, Shawn Yesner, is ready to serve.

Having been elected on a night that brought out many more Westchase residents than usual to the WCA meeting to elect new board members, Yesner is fully aware of the initial challenge he faces. “The apparent divide between our residents and the board,” he said.

Yesner, however, looks forward to that challenge and to taking on other projects that will help keep Westchase a premiere community.

Born in Tampa, his family moved to Miami where he lived until he left for college. Much of his time in Miami was spent beating the drums. “I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old,” he explained.

During eighth grade, he was All-State Tympani for the State of Florida. He also played in concert band, orchestra and Jazz Band. While Marching Band was his favorite, he played percussion or on the drum set or drum line in each of the bands throughout junior high, high school and college.

Yesner graduated from Florida State University with an accounting degree. “I’ve known since high school that I wanted to be an attorney, but I chose accounting because my father is a CPA so I had a free tutor in college,” he shared.

He did pursue his dream of becoming an attorney and earned his Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Stamford University’s Cumberland School of Law. He has been a practicing attorney now for 20 years. Yet his accounting degree comes in handy while he manages the budget for his firm, Yesner Law.

Married to wife, Melanie, since 2010, the couple realized their two-bedroom home in Dunedin wouldn’t cut it when they wanted to expand their family. Now living in The Bridges, the Yesner family includes two young sons.

Melanie was the first to become active in the opportunities Westchase offers. She joined the MOMs Club of Westchase and then the Stork Club to deliver the large wooden lawn storks to families announcing a birth within Westchase. “I saw how fulfilling it was for her to be involved in our community and all the great friends we made from that,” he shared.

To become involved himself, he joined the Swim and Tennis Committee and then later the Variance Committee. He also spends time volunteering Westchase Soccer Association. Now in his second year as coach for his son’s team, Yesner has quite the record. “I have yet to lose a game as a coach!”

To stay in shape himself, he runs 5k races regularly. A soccer game prevented him from running the Great West Chase this year, but he did participate as a sponsor.

As for volunteering his time for the WCA, Yesner referenced a favorite quote he heard from a Fortune 500 Company coach: “What is the number one quality of a leader? To love those you serve.”

Yesner observed, “This reminds me that I serve on the board to help make the association better and to help keep Westchase a highly desirable community for families.”

Yesner feels that as an attorney, he has the ability to take emotion out of the equation and look at each situation factually, apply the governing documents and Florida statutes and make a decision he feels is in the best interest of Westchase as a whole. When it comes to the disconnect some residents feel is present between them and the board, Yesner aims to help heal that divide. “My door is always open if any resident has questions about my thought processes or why I vote the way I do, with some exceptions for things that must be kept confidential pursuant to the rules of the association and Florida law,” he said.

Once the election was over, Yesner was even named treasurer for the WCA. Certainly, his accounting degree will serve him, and Westchase residents, well as he takes on that position for the board.

Many thanks to Shawn Yesner for dedicating time to our community as a coach, board member and treasurer. We’re all “counting” on you!

By Lisa Stephens

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Hello, Dali!

I had the unfortunate experience of having an art appreciation class in middle school.

It consisted solely of looking at slides of pictures and memorizing the name of the artist who painted (or drew) them. Is it any wonder that I had stayed away from art appreciation classes after that?

I know Van Gogh painted Sunflowers, Degas ballerinas and Monet lilies, Dali—he was the weird one with the watches, right? But as you get older, you begin to appreciate things in a whole new way. While visiting the Dali Museum recently, I found myself continually saying, “Wow, how did he do that?”

Fortunately for me, while at the museum my friend and I were lucky enough to find ourselves standing next to a docent lead tour. The lady leading the tour was a wealth of information about Dali and his paintings. She explained where he was in his life when he was painting them and how he mastered some of his techniques. She identified the many different elements of the painting, even pointing out images we might not have noticed otherwise. The tours are free and run throughout the day. You can also choose to take an audio tour if that works better for you.

Holly Lanier, public relations coordinator for the museum, stated, “The Dalí currently showcases 92 of Salvador Dalí's works, including eight of his epically scaled masterworks—the most of any museum in the world—with a focus on oil paintings. To highlight Dalí's diverse artistic abilities, The Dalí Museum periodically rotates in some of his works in other mediums, such as watercolors, drawings, photos, studies and writing.”

The special exhibit on view at the Dali Museum now through Nov. 25, Clyde Butcher: Visions of Dali’s Spain, explores a bit of the why in Dali’s paintings. Florida resident Clyde Butcher, a renowned nature photographer visited Spain at the request of the museum and took 41 photos of the landscapes that inspired Dali. Ranging from two to eight feet wide, the large photos are paired with small reprints of the Dali painting that features the landscape in its backdrop.

Another interesting addition to the museum is the virtual reality experience Dreams of Dali. Slip on the virtual reality goggles and you enter the world of Dali’s painting, Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus,” which is also on view as part of the permanent collection at the museum. If you figure out why Alice Cooper is there, let me know.

A new exhibit will be on display starting Dec. 15—Margritte and Dali. The first-of-its-kind, special exhibition is dedicated to Rene Margritte and Salavador Dali, considered two of the world’s most celebrated surrealists. The exhibit examines the common threads and creative divergences in their bodies of work from the late 1920s to the 1940s. It will be on display through May 19.
And it may give me a whole new artist to appreciate.

Image courtesy of The Dali Museum.

The Dali Museum
http://www.TheDali.org
1 Dali Blvd.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Positano’s is Perfection

A recent poll on Westchase social media asked which type of eatery our area needs: seafood, Italian, or barbeque. With more than 200 comments, the favorite seemed to be Italian, with many residents bemoaning the fact that we don’t have a good Italian place close to home. Participants also offered suggestions for nearby Italian eateries, resulting in myriad options for those looking to try something new.

One of those options, Positano’s Ristorante, is a welcoming and authentic Italian eatery that lives up to its claim as “the best kept secret in Palm Harbor.” Situated in a strip mall on Tampa Road, the restaurant stretches over several separate rooms and has a small bar in the front. Though the décor is dark and a tad dated, it adds to the charm (and authenticity).

We arrived early on a Sunday evening, and it was already quite crowded. We were ushered into a back room that held a few families who were having a family meal. I took it as a good sign.

The wine list was decent, and fresh bread and oil started the meal off right.

For starters, we selected the Mozzarella Caprese ($9). Plump sliced tomatoes were topped with fresh mozzarella (quite good) and dressed with balsamic and basil. The Stuffed Mushrooms ($13) featured a house-made sausage stuffing and were topped with oodles of gooey cheese. The portion was generous, and quite honestly, they were the best I’ve ever had. 

For my main course, I selected the Seafood Pompeii ($24). Seriously, this meal could not have been better. A succulent sautéed whitefish (along with either scallops or shrimp) is served atop a mound of shredded crisp veggies (carrots, squash, zucchini), topped with crabmeat stuffing, and doused in a delicious garlic wine—and somewhat lemony—sauce. Everything mixed together quite nicely. It was fantastic!

My dining partners went full-carb with Penne Bolognese ($14), Fettuccini Alfredo with Shrimp ($19), and Pizza Margherita ($14). All of the sauces (including the salad dressing) at Positano’s are made in-house, and you can tell. The Bolognese was meaty and thick and served over perfect al-dente pasta. The alfredo was creamy, rich, and buttery. Both were devoured with gusto, and my dining partner, who lived in Italy for several years, claimed it was “one of the best Italian meals I’ve ever had.”

The pizza was wood-fired, and there were a variety of options (only one size for dinner, however—12 inches). House-made sauce, a thin, crunchy crust, fresh tomatoes, and a generous heap of cheese made it a winner.

For dessert, we shared a plate of Tiramisu ($6). The ladyfingers were soaked in booze but not mushy, and the texture throughout was light and fluffy. Another winner.

The service was spot-on and also authentic—in other words, it’s relaxed. There’s no pressure to finish your meal quickly and hurry out to make room for the next diners. Take your time and enjoy, Italian style.

If you are craving Italian, I highly recommend Positano’s. It’s a little out of the area, but not too far—and so, so worth it. I do recommend making a reservation, especially on a weekend (you can make it on the website or via Open Table). I can imagine during the season it’s difficult to find a table, so book early.

Positano’s
http://www.positanoph.com
5 STARS
3309 Tampa Rd.
Palm Harbor, FL 

By Melanie Casey

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Just Say Yes

It took me fifty-two years, but I can finally check it off my bucket list.

I attended my first boy band concert.

God can call me home now.

OK, it was actually on my eighth grader’s bucket list. But the concert was in Queens, so Bee needed a parent to ride along in her bucket to pay for everything.

Bee has been, um, obsessed since January. While watching one of the New Year’s Eve shows, her profound three-month obsession with Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things was immediately replaced by an even stranger thing.

A year-long obsession with BTS, a boy band from South Korea.

Yes, South Korea.

Which means said boy band does not actually sing in English.

So Bee began studying Korean.

She also began studying tour dates. “Um, are you doing anything important this weekend, Dad?” she’d say. “Because BTS is playing Singapore and single tickets are only $600.”

“I grew up in Appalachia,” I’d respond. “There is not a single syllable of that last sentence that I understood.”

She might as well have been speaking to me in Korean.

So she said it in Korean.

And then she signed up for hip hop dance lessons.

Mysterious notes began appearing on the kitchen blackboard: “BTS has a concert in Tokyo this Friday in case anyone cares.”

At first we rolled our eyes.

But I ultimately fell into the trap every parent who spoils their kid does.

I made the foolish mistake of wanting my child to like me.

Plus Bee, an introvert, bamboozled me.

Having grown up with five siblings who, to this day, will not shut up, I have no idea what to do with an introvert. They baffle me. They just sit there in uncomfortable silence.

For the world’s extroverts, this is highly suspicious behavior. They’re clearly plotting something.

Every day Bee comes home from school and our expansive conversation goes like this:

Me: How was your day?

Bee: Fine.

Me: Could you perhaps expound upon that?

Bee: My day was medium fine.

So, when we were driving to South Tampa to see her sister’s halftime marching band show and she began fiddling with her phone, I asked her what she was looking at.

Because you never know when an introvert might slip up and spill their evil plans for world domination.

“BTS tickets just went on sale for CitiField in New York,” she said. “That’s near Times Square, where the BT21 store is, a BTS store where they sell only BTS merch.”

As in merchandise. But it’s really cool merchandise because it’s just one syllable.

It was the most Bee had uttered in a week.

“Buy them,” I said.

She flashed a shocked, thousand dollar smile. “Really?”

And then she burst into tears.

Which I think meant she was happy.

Teens are confusing that way.

Hey, don’t judge. 

What proper nerd parent doesn’t cultivate an obsession that leads a teenager to voluntarily study a foreign language?

I promised Bee she could pick what we’d do in New York City. We did it on the cheap. Airline miles. No car rental. We booked a room within four blocks of CitiField in a semi-sketch hotel near a subway stop. Instead of a chocolate, we found a can of spraypaint on our pillows so we could tag stuff in Queens as we walked to the Mets stadium.

We flew out at 4 a.m. Saturday morning. We bee-lined to Times Square. We pushed through all the costumed characters and the naked guy in a cowboy hat playing a guitar and arrived at the BTS store.

Its line went down the block, around the corner and halfway to 8th Avenue.

A two hour wait with no fast passes.

“There’s not enough time before lunch,” I said.

Bee’s face fell.

So I bought her a street churro, which made her medium fine.

Then we met my mom for lunch.

“What shall we do now?” I said after lunch.

“We should go to the Tenement Museum,” Nana said. “I hear it’s marvelous.”

Bee’s eyes went wide.

Having grown up poor with five siblings, my parents, my grandmother and my aunt in a single home in Scranton, I also wasn’t exactly itching to see a museum where they displayed my family’s Christmas photos.

“I’m kind tired,” Bee said, suddenly 70.

So we put Nana on the right subway and headed back to Queens. I flopped onto my semi-sketch bed to grab a nap before the concert began at 7 p.m. A few minutes later, Bee emerged from the bathroom. “Um, what are you doing?”

“I’m napping because you’re tired.”

“But the doors open at four,” Bee said. “In 15 minutes.”

“Why would we show up three hours early for a two and half hour concert?”

Bee came over to the bed and nudged me. “Because the BTS videos start at four.”

I rolled over and looked at her. “When I die, you had better look back on this weekend and remember that I was the Best. Dad. Ever.”

My introvert exploded in excitement as we walked to the stadium. Her words came out a mile a minute. The cool band members. Her favorite songs. “Everyone who attends the concert buys an Army Bomb, which lights up with different colors to the music,” she said.

“How much do Army Bombs cost?” I asked.

“Fifty-seven dollars,” she said.

My eyes went wide.

“Fans in Korea use them because they can’t stand or scream during concerts,” said Bee. “So they just shake their Army Bombs excitedly. But we get to stand, shout AND shake our Army Bombs.”

“God bless America,” I said.

Of course I bought her an Army Bomb. Don’t judge.

Who doesn’t want to own a $57 flashlight that looks like a glowing planet Earth AND hooks up via Bluetooth with all other Army Bombs in Mets stadium to order to glow in a flashing, assimilated, Borg-like, hive-mind collective?

It was a glorious five and a half hours of shrieking. And dancing. And singing.

And shaking our Army Bombs.

Bee shrieked. She danced. She sang along to every song in Korean.

With 30,000 other young women who spend their weekends attending ComicCons.

Exhausted, we finally walked back to our sketch hotel. “Was that awesome?” I said.

“It was awesome. she said. “But now I’m sad.”

My eyes went wide. “You’re sad?!”

“I think I have Post Event Depression.”

We woke up the next day with 12 hours of Post Event Depression before our return flight. Bee ate breakfast quietly.

“Where to?” I nudged.

Bee shrugged. “Maybe the Museum of Natural History. I want to see the big blue whale.”

Forty-five dollars later, we were standing beneath what appeared to be large plastic blue whale, hanging from the ceiling.

“It’s not real,” Bee said.

I nodded. “Then where to?”

She looked at the map. “Asian mammals,” she said hopefully.

We were halfway through the hall, when she spotted it.

A plaque thanking two 19th century American Army officers for “collecting and contributing” all the beasts on display.

She whirled, horrified. “You mean they KILLED all the animals in here?”

“Um, yeah, pretty much everything in a museum is dead.”

Poof! That’s how quickly 45 dollars goes up in smoke.

We grabbed some burgers, sat outside in the park and ate while watching little children terrorize the pigeons. “Can we just sit here awhile?” medium fine Bee said.

I nodded.

Four hours to kill before we needed to get back to JFK.

I sat perplexed and studied Bee. “Whaddya say we just go back to Times Square and check out that long line?” I finally said.

The thousand dollar smile again.

She had talked about that store for two months and I just hadn’t listened.

Arriving in Times Square, Bee, the shy introvert, suddenly struck up a conversation with another eighth grader in line. “Did you go to the concert last night?” she risked.

The girl’s eyes flew open in excitement and they were off to the races.

We emerged from the BT21 three hours later, a $70 zip-up Koala jacket in a pink bag. “I don’t care what anyone says at school,” Bee proclaimed fearlessly. “I am wearing this tomorrow.”

Later at the airport, she spied a young female bartender with a BTS button. “Did you go to the concert yesterday?” she said.

Bee bellied up to the bar and talked BTS with the bartender for 40 minutes.

Bee, the child I had long feared would never utter a word to the world, the child I feared would hide behind books rather than make friends, was bravely chatting up strangers, shouting her K-pop passion in public.

Slipping on her Koala jacket, she shed her shyness.

Because, in a moment of weak-kneed parenting, I foolishly listened.

And risked saying yes to a teenager’s crazy passion.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Bo!

Bo is an 8-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He loves saying hello to the neighbors while walking around The Greens. Other interests include licking food off the baby's hands, playing fetch in the backyard, swimming in the pool and carrying sticks out of the woods. Bo especially loves cuddling on the couch with his humans, Nicole, Austin and Henry.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Santa Parade Dec. 8

Santa’s suit is pressed and his boots are shined as he gets ready to visit Westchase for his annual Pre-Flight Parade!

The Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF) and its presenting sponsor World of Westchase are pleased to announce the Santa will board his vintage fire truck at 2 p.m. to begin his journey through the streets of Westchase on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Residents are encouraged to prepare their village floats and plan their block parties now to welcome Santa to their neighborhoods. More information and the estimated times for Santa’s visit in each village will appear in December’s WOW.

As in the past, unwrapped gifts will be collected along the parade route for a charity that supports needy children during the holidays.

Please call Dan O’Brien at 679-2364 or Ralph Caputo at 503-9943 for more details.

The WCF is a public charity and registered 501(c)3 that assists families with seriously ill children and families faced with tragedies. It works to improve the quality of life in our community. It is a volunteer organization comprised of Westchase residents who raise funds through a variety of events throughout the year. One hundred percent of net proceeds raised by its events go directly to families that need our support. Since the WCF’s inception in 2004, close to $500,000 has been distributed to neighbors in need.

By Dan O’Brien

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

November’s Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor Award Winner: Jessica Chandley

This month’s winner of the Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor contest is recognized for her instinctive desire to help others.

Woodbay’s Jessica Chandley was nominated by two of her neighbors for her selfless assistance to neighbors in need. Wrote Mandy Law Hucks, “In April my newborn baby was hospitalized for over two months. During that time Jessica did so many things for my family, including bringing meals, organizing a food train, cutting my lawn, cleaning my home, doing my laundry, helping with my kids and more!”

Hucks added, “She is so friendly to all of our neighbors and would give anyone the shirt off her back without asking. She is the definition of a great neighbor and I am so thankful for her!”

Mary Kate Pappas Conway quickly seconded the nomination. “When I had my kidney surgery and was on bed rest, she not only brought food for my family and magazines to keep me busy, she drove my mom to the airport in St. Pete so she didn’t have to take a cab!” Conway added, “She’s a great person!”

Chandley has been a Westchase resident for four years. She’s married to husband, Adam, and the couple has two children, Savannah, 5, and Cameron, 3. To what does she attribute her helpful generosity? “I’m a Tennessean,” she responded. “I attribute it to living in the South so long. That’s what you do. You help your neighbors out.”

Congratulations to Jessica Chandley for being recognized for her neighborly spirit!

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

Do you know a good neighbor who should be recognized for kindness, helpfulness or their community spirit? You can nominate them on the Irish 31 Thankful for your Neighbor Contest post, which appears on Westchase Neighborhood News on Facebook on the last Thursday of every month.

Photo courtesy of Family Tree Photography.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Deadlocks on Swim Team Proposal

The Nov. 8 WCA Board meeting saw directors deadlock over a motion to approve a more permanent Pipeline Swim Team contract and get tripped up by personal politics.

Kicking off the Resident Forum portion of the WCA Board meeting on Nov. 8, Voting Member (VM) Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) brought up concerns about WCA Director Ashley Wait’s Facebook posts on her personal page at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors Nov. 8 meeting.

“Someone forwarded a post to me that said, ‘I’m looking for people to help me educate people about what has been going on,’” stated Sells. “I sense anger in this person’s posts and I wonder if it goes back to the estoppel issues. The Facebook postings from this person regularly state that VMs don’t reach out, but what about the neighborhoods that have active VMs? I feel it’s time to clear the air.”

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board President Ruben Collazo told Sells that they would be addressing the matter later in the meeting.

Director Joaquin Arrillaga was absent from the meeting but joined in by phone an hour after it started.

All directors voted in favor of tabling a Kingsford homeowner’s appeal concerning a paver sidewalk and restoring his family’s use of the facilities until after the VMs vote on proposed guideline changes.

Board Treasurer Shawn Yesner said that as the new treasurer he had been looking into the board’s financials and everything appeared to be in order. He said that he had also researched the question of whether the WCA could get into trouble if the WOW did not have a full audit. He said that both the WCA’s legal counsel and current auditors had told him that WOW did not have to submit an audit and that he did not, “think the board incurs any liability if we are following the advice of professionals.”

Yesner said the board could appoint a director to the WOW Board who would force an audit. Board Vice President Rick Goldstein said, “I think it is important that there is an audit,” and made a motion to ask WOW to produce an audit every year.

Director Michele DelSordo, however, said, “If we don’t need it and there is no concern, I wouldn’t push it.”

Yesner suggested that there were other levels of disclosure not as intensive and all voted in favor of Goldstein’s amended motion to ask the WOW to deliver compiled financials every year by April 1. [Editor's note: The WOW Board unanimously voted in mid-October to have an audit done of its 2018 financials; that vote occurred three weeks prior to this meeting.]

Coach Patrick Piper, owner of Pipeline Swimming—the interim vendor running the WCA swim program—asked the board to sign a new contract with them beginning Dec. 1 to run the program for a year. “We started with 44 families and now have 81,” said Piper “If we start the contract on Dec. 1, it will give us 30 days before the end of the year to prepare parents for the beginning of the year. We have several kids on a competitive track and in order to get them where we want them to go, we need to begin putting together a practice plan for the year.” He also said that they would like to change the start times for practice to a staggered start time to accommodate the growth in the program.

Goldstein, chair of the Swim Team Committee, said that he agreed that it would be best for the kids to have continuity with the program and that the board had done its due diligence with Pipeline and other swim team vendors when they were looking for a replacement for the former coach and he made a motion to award the contract to Pipeline. “They took a risk with us when we had a problem. The kids are safer. They have offered to help with the Westchase Charitable Foundation.”

Director Ashley Wait, however, said she felt that the Swim Team Committee was formed for a reason and that it seemed bad to get rid of it. DelSordo agreed, “If you’ve put a group together to look at swim programs, you should let them do that. I feel like we should talk to parents and get feedback before moving forward.”

When Wait asked why the Swim Team Committee had not met, she was told that a few committee members had left the WCA swimming program and that a few were in arrears with their swim team fees. Goldstein said that former WCA Director Forrest Baumhover did research and based on it, determined that Pipeline was the best for the interim. “I’m impressed they were willing to come in and help out,” said Goldstein. “If people knew what we knew, they would be glad we did what we did. The kids are a lot safer now. The program has progressed and parents seem to be very happy. I think it would be confusing to change on the kids again.”

Harbor Links resident Yelena Maloney, previously appointed to the Swim Team Committee, said, “I strongly advise the board to reconsider the contract. I would like to see the vetting process. They have been kicked out of a city and simple research brings questionable actions that the board could be liable for. An entire group of swimmers is gone and lots of the new people are from the YMCA because the coach there left.”

Maloney expressed concerns that practice times had been cut in half. Piper asked Maloney to share the information with him and said that the city in question, New Port Richey, actually owed Pipeline money. Goldstein’s motion tied 3-3 with Wait, Yesner and DelSordo casting the dissenting votes. With the tied vote causing Goldstein's motion to fail, Collazo said that the board needed to move forward with the previously appointed Swim Team Committee, which was subsequently scheduled to meet Monday, Nov. 12 at 9 a.m.

Collazo then told the board that resident Emily Harkins, who had submitted herself as a walk-in candidate for the board at the VM annual meeting and had received eight votes, was not in fact a Westchase homeowner or spouse of one and was therefore not eligible to serve on the board. He said that if she had been elected to the board, it would have had catastrophic consequences and suggested Wait had violated board policies and procedures by talking to Harkins about running.

Goldstein said that he had told Wait to ask people interested in running for the board to contact him. Yesner asked if the accusation was that Wait had brought Harkins to the board.

Radcliffe resident Jim Wimsatt, who was present in the audience and had also stepped forward to run for the WCA board that night, asked, “What was the vetting process because I was never asked anything?”

Goldstein said that once someone expressed interest in running for the board that he talked to them about the process, the time commitment, what happens at the VM meeting and explained their fiduciary responsibility. Wimsatt, however, pointed out, “But people show up the day of, like me.” He asked, “Who vets them?”

When Wimsatt was told legal counsel, he replied, “He never talked to me.”

Collazo said the bottom line is next time we need to be prepared to do on-site vetting. A member of the audience suggested making the statement at the meeting that you have to be a homeowner or a spouse of one to run.

During the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) report, Wimsatt (a member of the committee) said he had met with the mayor of Oldsmar and the GAC was now back on good terms with Oldsmar. Goldstein said GAC needed to be more proactive and that a satirical April Fool’s article in WOW Northwest had soured the relationship.

GAC member DelSordo said she was working with West Park Village VMs to work on traffic and parking issues in the neighborhood. She mentioned that developer Grady Pridgen was planning to build 40 townhouses, which would add additional traffic and parking strains to the already packed neighborhood. (Pridgen owns the parcel that runs parallel to the railroad tracks on Tate Lane at the end of Montague Street.)

VM Nancy Sells asked if it was too late to fight the developer. Goldstein said, “Once the decision is made, it’s over. That’s why we need to become more proactive.”

Wait said that she had been the Majority Whip’s Legislative Aid for the Florida State House of Representatives and still had contact in the government and was happy to help out but that at some point, when Goldstein got mad at her, she had been pushed off the GAC.

Referring to Sells’ comments in the Resident Forum, Collazo asked, “Do we want to discuss Nancy’s statement now?”

Wait responded, “If you want to continue to attack me, the estoppel is not my issue. I’ve seen so many people that have grudges and put those first when you should put the residents’ interests first.”

Collazo asked, “Are you going to answer Nancy’s question?”

Wait responded, “What is her question?”

Sells refered to the Facebook post on Wait’s personal page and asked her to explain her reference to what was going on.

Wait’s Nov. 6 post on her personal Facebook page read, “Does anyone live in The Bridges that wants to help me get elected to the position of Voting Member of The Bridges? I am looking for people to help me educate their neighbors on what has been going on lately and also to make them aware their voice/vote is represented by their VM. How many Bridges residents even know who the current VM is? How many of you have ever been communicated to by them? I am hoping to educate everyone throughout this process and to earn peoples’ [sic] respect and also vote so that we can slowly make progress in making a positive change in and for Westchase and its residents.”

Wait said it would come to light but that she was not going to sink to their level. Sells said she did not disagree with Wait that she could do a better job as VM of her neighborhood but asked why she attacked other VMs when there were many who did a good job.

Wimsatt said, “I saw Ashley’s post and read it in a different way. I saw it as a call to get involved.”

Maloney agreed that she read Wait’s post the same way and said, “I think Ashley did a good job of getting people involved . . I wanted to get involved but am discouraged by this behavior.”

Wait responded, “I’ve heard from many people who say they want to get involved but they never receive a return phone call.”

Sells agreed that educational posts were good but suggested that Wait be careful about context and impact and think about how her posts could be read.

Turning to other matters, all directors voted in favor of year-end gifts for staff and non-staff.

Directors tabled a homeowner’s request to post “no trespassing” signs on their fence. The homeowners said they were told they had to do so by their legal counsel and the sheriff if they wanted to pursue a case against their neighbors they claim have trespassed on their property. Directors tabled the decision until they could get advice from the WCA’s legal counsel. WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga, however, said he was against approving the decision because it would open up other similar requests for other reasons.

Directors voted 6-1 (with Arrillaga casting the dissenting vote) to approve Collazo and Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz working out a suspension of parking rules for the holidays.

DelSordo said that she was putting together a Facebook page, Westchase Community Chronicles, that would be the official voice of the WCA.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Nov. 10, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD Addresses Tornado Damage

At their Nov. 6 month meeting, supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) heard a rundown of damage caused by a tornado that struck portions of The Greens, Village Green and The Bridges on Friday, Nov. 2.

Supervisors began by unanimously approving a three-year bid for their audit from Grau and Associates for $7,700 annually. They returned to the matter when District Manager Andy Mendenhall checked what amount they had paid this year. When he discovered the amount represented a $200 increase, he committed to inquiring with Grau to see if the company would honor this past year’s price.

When asked by Supervisor Greg Chesney if the district’s engineer had researched a proposed site for a cell tower on the southern edge of Glencliff Park, Field Manager Doug Mays stated he had heard nothing from CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart on the issue.

Making her report, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated CDD staff would have to maintain basic minutes of any workshop meetings they hold.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall then briefed supervisors on his research into ways of making the district’s web site ADA compliant. He offered three approaches, with the most basic first step being a $200 review of the current site. Supervisors authorized the expenditure, 4-0, and requested he return with a formal bid and proposal from a company that could design and occasionally audit the district’s website for compliance with the federal law.

Field Manager Doug Mays then briefed supervisors on the Nov. 2 storm, which struck just as district staff were preparing to leave for the weekend. “As you know we had a pretty good storm Friday night,” said Mays. “Our guys jumped on it pretty good.”

Mays said the tornado below over 25 to 30 trees, which fell across neighborhood roads and into ponds. The number included at least three that toppled on a vehicle, a home and a pool cage. Mays stated that Davey crews immediately began removing trees on major roads. “Davey brought in some guys on Saturday.” He added that CDD staff added a tree service crew to the mix the next day. “They were here all Saturday.”

In all, the district spent $7,500 on overtime and clean up. Mays added homeowners offered food and drink to the crews as they worked. “The residents were really appreciated of it.”

Turning to another project, Mays said he was still working to locate a vendor for a proposed entrance monument for the Greendale neighborhood. Specifically he said he is looking for a vendor that could produce the white capstone bricks.

Mays also brought a $7,100 bid for a replacement Trane HVAC system for the district’s offices. He stated the aged system had stopped working. Supervisors unanimously approved the bid.

Mays then stated that a resident had contacted him, complaining of dead branches in the red cedars between Chelmsford and Gretna Green Drive. While the resident did not live on any property adjacent to the trees, she was insisting that her request to completely remove the trees be put on record. “They’re not dead,” May said of the mature trees, saying the dead branches can be trimmed out and the cedars will fill back in. “They’re healthy trees. There is nothing wrong with them.”

Supervisors backed Mays’ recommendation that the trees be maintained and left alone. He concluded by saying he committed to the resident to bring the matter up. “She wants to go on record saying she wants them removed. I’m going on record saying, ‘No.’”

Mays concluded his report with an update on previously announced work at the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection. Previously county officials had appeared and announced that work would begin in October to extend eastbound Linebaugh’s northern turn lanes onto Sheldon Road. Delays in the just concluded sewer line rerouting project, however, delayed the start. Rather than impact the intersection during the busy holiday season, the county, Mays said, had decided to have the contractor replace the median and begin the turn lane project in three months.

Returning to a proposed Biomass bid for repairs on 200 feet of a West Park Village pond bank, supervisors unanimously approved the $19,100 bid after rejecting a cheaper bid for repairs they felt proved less reliable in another pond.

Supervisors then briefly discussed a proposal to lease two district owned pieces of land to Vertex for cell towers. (See related article, page 15.)

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte then announced that the district was working with the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) Government Affairs Committee regarding West Park Village’s streetlights. Under an agreement with TECO, the West Park lights are treated differently from other county-owned lights. In some cases, Whyte said, TECO has replaced old sodium bulbs in streetlights with whiter and brighter LED bulbs which are flooding nearby homes with unwanted light. According to the GAC, said Whyte, some residents have spray-painted the LED bulbs black, leading TECO to threaten to charge the community $1,000 for their replacement. CDD Attorney Erin McCormick committed to researching the lights to determine if the district really had any responsibility for or ownership of them.

CDD Chair Jim Mills concluded by observing it was Election Day and that last June during qualifying for the district’s two open seats, Supervisor Chesney was automatically reelected when no one filed to run against him. He added that the seat held by Supervisor Barbara Griffith was won by Kingsford’s Forrest Baumhover when no one but he filed for it.

While Griffith was absent, Mills concluded by observing the board had a gift commemorating her service. “I just want to acknowledge her contributions and passion during her time on the board.”

Supervisor Chesney agreed. “I think Barbara overall made some very important contributions.” Citing her work promoting the arts as well as other suggestions, Chesney added that her contributions shouldn’t be forgotten. “She did have a different eye on things.”

In other actions:

Field Manager Doug Mays stated that after multiple contractors could not repair the broken phone line to the Radcliffe Drive gates of Harbor Links, staff had a vendor install a cellular phone system that would cost the neighborhood $40 monthly.

CDD staff stated that despite the announced closure of Glencliff Park in November to install a new slide, the new slide did not arrive.

Supervisor Greg Chesney, who reported at the Oct. 23 workshop that Westchase Golf Course owner Nick Neubauer had shown no interest in proceeding with the course’s sale to the district, stated that he had not yet called Neubauer to specifically ask him, as Supervisor Brian Ross’ requested, what aspects of the district’s offer were not acceptable to him.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Nov. 9, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, Nov. 2018: President Welcomes Newest Board Members

I’d like to begin by welcoming our newest board members, Michele DelSordo and Shawn Yesner, to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board.

As they have already learned, being a Westchase board member is hard work. Yet we all do this job because it is our calling to serve this wonderful community. As you might imagine, board members bring their own experiences, perspectives and individual “lenses” to the position. I’m proud to say that Westchase continues to be such a successful community because of this incredible cross-section of talent. We are lucky to have such great volunteers and each of us is looking forward to this next year of community service.

As we enter into the holidays, I would like to remind everyone that each November the WOW conducts an incredible food drive that successfully delivers tons of groceries to needy families. This year, I’m calling on Westchasers to dig deeper and make this year’s food drive the most successful ever. Remember, though the economic times are good, there are still many needy families, literally right around the corner from us. Times are especially tough for families displaced by hurricanes. Many find themselves in new communities far away from the homes they knew.

I also want to remind everyone to vote. Who you vote for is up to you. What matters to us as a community is that politicians recognize that Westchase can turn out the vote. High voter turnout in our precincts translates into political capital that we can use to our advantage when seeking our share of the attention and resources from county government. So please vote.

Speaking of voting, half of our villages will soon have the opportunity to elect voting members. Voting members (VMs) are the backbone of our system of governance. Voting members represent the neighborhoods. They update our guidelines, amend our deed restrictions and elect our board members. This is an important and rewarding volunteer position for those who take on this role. Please return your proxy cards. It’s easy to miss them in the mail, and it’s also easy to forget to fill them out and return them. So please make a note of it.

I’d like to close by alerting everyone to the fact that if it weren’t for unlocked cars, there wouldn’t be any car break-ins in Westchase (or almost none). The rash of car burglaries we’ve experienced lately really haven’t been car break-ins at all. They have been crimes of opportunity. Please don’t leave valuables visible in your car and please lock your cars.

Thanks for reading. As always, feel free to reach out to me at any time. Email is always the best way to reach me. My email address is theshires@verizon.net.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

When Do You Have to File a Modifications Application?

Some confusion exists around Modifications applications and this month I’d like to try to clarify things.

Over the last few months we’ve seen increase in exterior modification/alterations being done without first receiving Modification Committee approval. Some owners believe that if they are just doing same-for-same/like-for-like, such as painting their house the same color or removing a tree and planting a new one, then no approval is required. Please know that guidelines periodically change. When that happens, new modifications must comply with the current guidelines, not those in place at the time of the original modification.

We therefore implore all owners to always submit a Modification application for anything they are doing to your home’s exterior, even if you are not sure. Call us, email us or stop by the office to pick our brain—anything to prevent a notice of non-compliance being issued. This will help you avoid a possible costly correction if you are not complying with the current guidelines. We are always here to answer any question you have.

It’s hard to believe that in just two more months we’ll be entering a new year. As we enter the Florida fall season, Nov. 4 ends Daylight Saving Time, which means it will begin to get darker earlier. We ask that everyone make a conscious effort to pay special attention during the early evening hours when driving home and children are out playing.

We will be closing our pools and tennis courts on Thanksgiving Day to allow our staff time to celebrate with their family. We appreciate your understanding.

This month you will be receiving your annual assessment notice along with a copy of the 2019 budget. Payments are due no later than Jan. 1, 2019. Please be sure to mail your payment with the coupon to the address on the coupon. You are also welcome to hand deliver your payment to our office. We do not accept credit card or cash payments—only check or money order made payable to Westchase Community Association. The annual fee for 2019 is $274.

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Month to Give Thanks

Yes, it’s a month that begins with a very important, and, at times divisive election.

Yet it is also a month where Americans gather to celebrate a wonderful holiday that is unique to the United States.

A day that has inspired an equally wonderful tradition that is unique to Westchase.

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 22 this year. And while I love that day and the goodness surrounding it, one of my truly favorite days of the year will occur the Sunday prior, Nov. 18.

Nov. 18 marks the annual Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive, one of the most amazing community traditions we have. On that day folks throughout our neighborhoods—folks from all walks of life—come together to achieve something powerful:

We feed thousands of needy families throughout Tampa Bay.

At 1 p.m. I will climb onto the back of a Metropolitan Ministries truck and greet some amazing adults and kids. Scores of moms and dads, grandparents, and a cornucopia of kids will gather in the parking lot of Westchase Elementary. Dozens of teens seeking high school service hours will join the chaos along with other kids representing the service ideals of their Scout troops. Joining these residents will be business leaders offering generous matches to encourage residents to participate. Their participation promises to multiply your generosity.

It is a way to build bridges and remember that far more unifies us as Americans than divides us.

So I ask a personal favor of you, our reader, this month. If you’ve participated in the drive before, I thank you and ask you to participate generously again.

If you’ve not yet participated, please take a few minutes to look at the drive’s food list in our cover feature, beginning on page 4 (our feature will even tell you how you can support the drive if you’re leaving town before Nov. 18). Please stop by the grocery store, pick up a few of the items or an entire meal (whatever you can afford), and lend a helping hand so that less fortunate kids can also enjoy a happy Thanksgiving. Simply leave your donation at the end of your driveway (or by your mailbox in the front of your home) right before 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18.

In closing, please remember that WOW is self-sufficient. We receive no portion of your HOA or CDD fees and are entirely dependent on advertising to cover our production costs and charitable giving. If you enjoy WOW and would like to help keep the magazine and its charitable work strong, please let our generous advertisers know you saw them in WOW.

I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at WOW!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase’s 11th Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive Nov. 18

This year marks the eleventh Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive and we need your help to break all records!

Last November a record 1,335 Westchase homes participated, donating a total of 678 turkeys (including a generous corporate match). In total, last year we filled three trucks with an estimated 42,125 pounds of food and $752.50 in gift cards and other checks to Metropolitan Ministries.

This year WOW will bring the food drive to several hundred more homes in Westchester and West Hampton after expanding it last year to the generous folks living in Highland Park, Mandolin, Windsor Place and Westwood Lakes.

To enhance participation, WOW is offering a prize of $250 for a holiday block party for the top performing neighborhoods. This year two neighborhoods with the highest percentage of homes donating frozen turkeys will win $250 for a holiday block party. One prize will be offered in Westchase and another in the top subdivision that receives WOW Northwest.

WOW is also offering $200 for a holiday block party to the Westchase and Northwest neighborhoods that show the greatest improvement in overall participation in the food drive over last year. (See the neighborhood table from last year for results and organize your neighbors to participate.)

Click here to view the list of needed items.

Business Matchers

To further encourage residents to participate, a number of generous businesses have committed to making corporate matches. They will match portions of your contributions so you can have an even bigger impact.

Who is participating?

Our longest committed corporate matchers, Josh Butts of Cornerstone Insurance and The Wood Team of Smith & Associates are both returning. Cornerstone Insurance has committed to donate one turkey for every four donated. The Wood Team has committed to matching one can of food for every home that participates in the drive.

Also returning this year are Clinical Psychologist Dr. Maria Aranda and Pediatrician Dr. Christine Armstrong of Children’s Medical Center of Westchase. Both have committed to matching one can for every turkey donated by residents.

Maria Kletchka of Keller Williams Tampa Properties will donate one can of food (up to $500) for every turkey donated.

How to Help?

To join the community effort, simply purchase as many of the food items as you wish from the list running with this article and place them out on your driveway at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19 (West Park Village and Highland Park residents, however, are asked to place donations out by their mailboxes at the curb rather than in the neighborhood’s alleys).

Whether you can afford only a few cans or an entire meal (see our Box of Hope inset for the list), we welcome your participation. If you are donating from your pantry, please check expiration dates before placing items out for donation. As part of the drive, food is sorted and expired items have to be discarded.

The weekend prior to the drive, volunteers will leave a flyer with the list at your door so you can take it to the supermarket with you.

If you’re leaving town before Sunday, Nov. 18, you can still participate. You can drop your donations off early at 10314 Seabridge Way in The Bridges or at the The Wood Team’s Smith & Associates office in the Westchase Publix plaza.  You can also leave donations with a neighbor to set out on your driveway on Nov. 19. (No frozen turkeys can be dropped off early, however, since no freezer space is available). Please include your address and subdivision name with your donation so that your neighborhood receives credit.

WOW’s food drive volunteers will do the rest. Dozens will canvass neighborhoods and deliver reminder flyers over the weekend of Nov. 11-12.  On Sunday, Nov. 19, volunteers will then drive through your neighborhood to pick up donations.

If you are donating a frozen turkey, please place it out as close to the 1 p.m. pick-up as possible to help keep it frozen.

If you are interested in volunteering with the drive, simply e-mail WOW Editor Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com. We especially need volunteers in the Westwood Lakes, West Hampton and Westchester neighborhoods.

WOW hopes even more residents and businesses participate in the food drive’s matching campaign. Simply e-mail WOW Publisher Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com for information on how you can be a matching partner.

Metropolitan Ministries

A Tampa institution, Metropolitan Ministries is an ecumenical organization that assists Tampa’s community of homeless and hungry citizens in ways that instill both dignity and self-sufficiency. Established in 1972 by 13 churches of different denominations, Metropolitan Ministries now occupies a sizable campus on Florida Avenue and helps tens of thousands of Tampa Bay’s poorest families – and their children – each holiday season.

Who Is Matching Your Donation?

Josh Butts of Cornerstone Insurance: 1 additional turkey for every 4 donated turkeys
The Wood Team/Smith & Associates: 1 can for every Westchase home that participates
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Maria Aranda: 1 can for every donated turkey
Dr. Christine Armstrong of Children’s Medical Center of Westchase: 1 can for every donated turkey
Maria Kletchka of Keller Williams Tampa Properties: 1 can for every donated turkey (up to $500)

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photos by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Visits Asia

Tim, Carmen Gloria, and Sarah Creighton of The Greens took WOW along their 16-day vacation to Japan, China, and Mongolia during May and June.

Their Creightons’ stop was Tokyo, where they visited all the interested sights in the city and enjoyed a day trip to Mt. Fuji.

The family’s next stop was Beijing, China, where they visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall, and many other interesting places.  They also took the famous bullet train, which traveled 191 mph, from Beijing to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors.

The last stop on the Creightons’ trip was Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.  The highlight here was visiting the giant Genghis Khan Equestrian statue located in the rolling hills outside the capital city.  Wrote Tim Creighton, “We also took a yak-drawn cart ride through the countryside, where we stopped and ate an authentic meal prepared and served by a Mongolian family who lived in a ger.”

A ger (what Mongolians call a yurt), Tim said, is a portable round tent made of animal-pelt covers and wooden columns with a round window at the top.

The Creightons plan their trips themselves and stay in Airbnbs and ride the local subways, buses and taxis, so they can get a first-hand experience of how the people live. Mongolia was the favorite for Carmen Gloria and Sarah due to the natural beauty of the countryside and the fascinating life lived by the nomadic people.  Tim liked China the best due to the massive and grand structures built for the emperors hundreds of years ago. 

We thank the Creightons for sharing their adventures with WOW.

By Tim Creighton and Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Will Your Neighbors and You Win a Holiday Party?

It’s time to haul out the ladder and tap your inner Griswold because the holiday decorating judges are coming!

But you have to remember to invite them! Judges for WOW’s 20th annual Westchase Holiday Decorating Contest will be hitting the road the weekend of Dec. 7-8! This year the best decorated subdivision, street or group of homes (our definition of “block”) will win annual bragging rights and $300 to throw a New Year’s block party. So get your neighbors organized today. (Hint: Shaming helps.)

The first, second and third place individual winners for best decorated house will also win a prize package to be determined (The individual home prizes are usually gift cards to home improvement stores so you can buy more holiday swag on discount after the holidays.)

One set of prizes will be awarded in Westchase; another set will be awarded within those neighborhoods receiving WOW Northwest.

Judging will take place the weekend of Dec. 7-8 (regardless of weather) and winners will appear in January’s WOW. Judging will take place in the evening after dusk so make sure your lights are on! To have judges look at your home, a neighbor’s home or your block (group of homes), please email the neighborhood name and house address(es) to Business Manager Leslie Blaze at billing@westchasewow.com by Thursday, Dec. 6.

After judging, a list of the area’s best homes will appear on http://www.westchasewow.com so that all residents can take a holiday light tour.

As a friendly reminder for our Weschase readers, decorative lights may be displayed between Thanksgiving and Jan. 15, according to the Westchase Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.

Good luck to all!

Want to Win?

This year, in order to give the judges time to do their holiday shopping, we’re not going to make them drive by every single house (It takes more than seven hours!). If you’d like your home, a neighbor’s home or a group of homes considered by WOW’s Decorating Contest judges, please email the neighborhood name and house address(es) to billing@westchasewow.com by Thursday, Dec. 6. You can submit your home or that of a friend. Don’t be shy!

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Searching to Fill WOW Board Opening

With September’s resignation of a WOW Board member, the WCA is searching for a replacement for the WOW Board.

The WOW, Inc. Board, consisting of five Westchase homeowners, meets quarterly to oversee the magazine’s operations and set its operating policies. The affected seat will run through April of 2019, when the individual could be reappointed.

Interested residents of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) may submit their resumes, along with a one-page statement of interest in the position, to the WCA Board of Directors for consideration. Candidates must be WCA members in good standing; backgrounds in accounting, print and digital publishing and/or small business management are particularly helpful.

Resumes and statement may be submitted by e-mail by Friday, Nov. 16, to WCA Director Keith Heinemann at keith@tampabay.rr.com, via mail to the Westchase Community Association, Inc., 10049 Parley Drive, Tampa, FL 33626 or by fax to 926-1821.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso Baseball to Host Annual Golf Tournament

Golfers and sponsors needed for Alonso’s Nov. 18 fundraiser.

Calling all golfers—and local businesses, too! The two-time state champion Alonso Ravens Baseball Team will be holding its annual fundraising golf tournament on Sunday, Nov. 18 at the Westchase Golf Course. The tournament, which begins at 1 p.m., is the team’s primary source of funds and all proceeds will be used to improve the program, purchase needed equipment and upgrade their facilities.

If you would like to support this worthy cause, the team is seeking golfers, sponsors and community partners who are willing to donate food, drinks and door prizes. Sponsorships range from $100 to $2,500, are tax deductible and offer a variety of recognition opportunities. Golfers may participate as individuals or teams, and various prizes will be awarded. The cost is $100 per person, which includes cart, green fees and a banquet dinner. 

To register for the tournament or get more information on sponsorships, please contact Cathy Fahrman at (813) 508-6242 or visit the Alonso Booster Club at http://www.alonsoboosterclub.com

.

By Les Young

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Wait! Are You Trying to Vote at the Right Place?

Each Election Day scores of Westchase and Northwest voters wind up going to the wrong sites to vote. How can you avoid a last minute, unexpected detour?

Where should you vote? Early voting (Oct. 22-Nov. 4) has specific locations, with the closest to the Westchase area being the Maureen B. Gauzza Library. But if you’re voting on the day of the Nov. 6 primary election, you need to go to your specific precinct. You can’t just show up at the library if you’ve voted there before. Check first to see if it’s your specific, assigned precinct on Election Day.

On Election Day, if you live in Westchase within The Fords and The Greens and all villages east of there, you vote in Precinct 500, at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. If you live in Radcliffe, Saville Rowe, and Harbor Links/The Estates and Westchase villages off Countryway Boulevard, you vote at Precinct 508 at the Maureen G. Gauzza Library. (On Election Day itself, only these folks can vote at the library.)

If you live in Windsor Place, Mandolin, Westchester or Highland Park, on election day you vote at Precinct 506, located at Bay Hope Church at 10701 Sheldon Rd. Residents of Westwood Lakes and West Hampton cast ballots at Precinct 527, in the Bayanihan Center’s Philippine Art and Cultural Foundation, 14301 Nine Eagles Dr.

Keith Heinemann, the head of Precinct 508, which is located at the library on Election Day, emphasized the importance of knowing your proper home precinct voting location if you’re voting on Nov. 6. He commented about previous Election Day voting, “In 508, we redirected more errant voters than actual precinct voters in the past two cycles.  We even get voters from other locations around the area.”

Heinemann added, “It may not be a big issue, but it can be a problem for someone who is on their way to work, or having to pick up the kids from school, etc., to be redirected. We always have to hold our breath and hope the errant voters who show up at 6:30 p.m. can get to the right place before the polls close.

Visit http://www.votehillsborough.org for more detailed information and to see your sample ballot.

Important Election Dates

2018 Elections

Registration Deadlines

Mail Ballot Request Deadline

Early Voting

Election Day

General Election

Oct. 9

Oct. 31

Oct. 22-Nov. 4

Nov. 6

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Are You Fit to be a Freebooter?

Join them on Nov. 16 and find out!

The Westchase Krewe of Freebooters have re-opened their recruitment season to fill an expanded membership roster for the 2019 season. The mission of the Westchase Freebooters is to provide a social, leadership and charitable platform for the benefit of the community that they call home. “We enhance the spirit that already makes the Westchase area a great place to live,” stated Eric Holt, president and captain of the local organization.

Now heading into their third season, Westchase’s very first Gasparilla Krewe is more than just a group of paraders. The Freebooters have provided volunteer support for some of Westchase’s most prominent events, such as the Great West Chase, the Thanksgiving Food Drive, and the Santa Pre-Flight Parade. Just last month, the Krewe donated more than $4,000 to Westchase Elementary and Davidsen Middle School from funds raised at their annual golf tournament. “The individuals joining our Krewe want to be more than just socially active here in Westchase—they also want to do great things for our community,” said Holt.

During the parade season, the Krewe storms Tampa Bay aboard “The Montague”—their brand new, fully equipped, double-decker float named in honor of the very passage leading into the heart of Westchase. During the "off-season," they participate in social activities in addition to fundraising events for charitable organizations.

One thing that distinguishes the Westchase Krewe from the 70 other parade krewes in the Tampa Bay area is their Mermaid ambassador team—the official Mermaids of Gasparilla as a matter of fact. Mermaids are part of the krewe’s imagery and lore, and they are always at the helm during every parade.

The krewe is inviting anyone with interest in learning more about membership to join them at their monthly social. You won’t miss seeing Captain Holt there if you show up with yer eyes open!

For more information about Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters, visit http://www.kreweoffreebooters.com or call Captain Eric Holt at 727-2019.

Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters Social
Date: Friday, Nov. 16
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Irish 31, West Park Village
Other: Food and refreshments will be served

By Eric Holt

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Public Notice of Guideline Changes

At their Nov. 13 meetings, Westchase Voting Members will consider two neighborhood-specific guideline amendments for Stonebridge and The Reserve at West Park Village.

The Stonebridge amendment would change Section 9 of the Bridges Storm/Screen Door Guideline that requires screen and storm doors to match the color of the front door to require Stonebridge screen/storm doors to be black in color.

VMs will also consider adopting the color palette for Building 5 of The Reserve of WPV.  A specific description of the proposed color palette and sample colors can be viewed by contacting the Association Manager Debbie Sainz at manager@westchasewca.com.

At their Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 meetings, VMs will also consider adopting the color palettes for Buildings 6 and 7 of The Reserve of WPV.  A specific description of the proposed color palettes and sample colors can be viewed by contacting the Association Manager Debbie Sainz at manager@westchasewca.com.

For more information about the guidelines, please call (813) 926-6404.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Publix Diaper Baby a Familiar Face

Benjamin Woodcock, 3, who lives with his family in The Bridges, is prominently featured on the Publix brand size 4 diapers. His mom Ashley Wait-Woodcock said he has been modeling since he was 6 months old. “People were always telling us that he should be a model. When I was participating in the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Women of the Year, I found out about Benz Model Agency.”

Wait-Woodcock said her son modeled clothes for Bealls Department stores and was in an international ad for Graco car seats but that the Publix one was something of a surprise. “We went to their offices in Lakeland a year ago and they took his picture. He gets paid whether they use the pictures or not. We didn’t hear anything from them but then one day, I got a message from his teacher at the JCC asking, ‘Is this Ben?’”

Since Benjamin is a year older now, he is no longer using the product but he does like to look at his picture when they go to the grocery store. Getting a cookie from the bakery, however, is still his favorite thing to do at Publix.

Wait-Woodcock said he’s always enjoyed hamming it up for the camera and that they will continue to do the photo shoots and add the money to Benjamin’s college fund as long as he’s having fun. His older brother, Jameson Wait-Sheppard, 8, has even gotten into the act and begun doing some catalog modeling.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Public Invited to Sickles’ First Annual Fall Carnival

This family-friendly fall fundraiser presented by Sickles Athletics will be held at the high school on Friday, Nov. 2 from 5-9 p.m.

All money raised will go to the athletic boosters, as well as the Sickles sports teams who will be running booths at the fair. The event will feature carnival games and a number of inflatables and activities provided by Bounce A Lot Inflatables, including a Wipeout Balance Balls Two Lane Obstacle Course like the one from the show Wipeout, a Velcro Sticky Wall, a Pedal Cart Race Track, Bungee Basketball and the Warriors Jump Obstacle Course!

A carnival just wouldn’t be a carnival without delicious food! There will be a number of local food vendors on hand who will be donating a portion of their proceeds to the boosters and participating sports teams.

Tickets will be sold at the event. You can purchase 10 tickets for $5. Wristbands will be available for $25 (cash only) for unlimited visits to booths and attractions, but must be purchased by 2 p.m. on Nov. 2. Call (727) 237-8180 or email at sicklesathletics@outlook.com to reserve your wristband.

The Fall Carnival will be held on Nov. 2 from 5-9 p.m. All are encouraged to attend to have a great time while supporting the Sickles athletic teams.
Sickles High School is located at 7950 Gunn Hwy.

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Great West Chase Road Race Results Announced

Did someone you know win? Check out this year’s Great West Chase results!

A splendid Saturday kicked off the fall race season in Westchase! Over 1,000 runners joined The Great West Chase 5K/10K and Children’s Fun Run.

For race results, please visit here: https://www.floridaroadrace.com/Race-Results/10-27-2018/The-Great-Westchase

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Oct. 29, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Glencliff Park Playground Closed Nov. 5-9

Folks visiting the Glencliff Park Playground Nov. 5-9 will find that the popular park on Countryway Boulevard is closed for maintenance.

Westchase Community Development District (CDD) staff announced the closure and stated it was due to the planned installation of a new sliding board on the park’s main climbing structure.

In the meantime, Baybridge Park and the tot playground on Montague Street in West Park Village will remain open.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Oct. 29, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Road and Lane Closures for Oct. 27 Great West Chase Announced

On Saturday, Oct. 27, road and lane closures will affect Westchase traffic from 6:00-9:30 a.m. due to the Great West Chase race events. The race, featuring a 5K, 10K and Children’s Fun Run, is held in Westchase on the last Saturday in October each year. If you have work, a sports game or an appointment the morning of the races, please add 40 extra minutes for your drive. Deputies will allow traffic to pass on Linebaugh and Countryway Boulevard as the flow of runners permits. Please read on for details about road and lane closures and how to avoid them.

Road Closure

Montague Street in West Park Village will be completely shut down beginning on Saturday at 5 a.m. and won’t open again to traffic until 10 a.m. Residents living in the West Park Village apartments should avoid parking on Montague Street the evening of Friday, Oct. 26, through noon on Saturday, Oct. 27. If you park on Montague Street on Friday night, you will be unable to move your vehicle until the races conclude on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Lane Closures

On Saturday, Oct. 27 beginning at 5:30 a.m. Linebaugh Avenue between Montague Street and Countryway Boulevard and Countryway Boulevard between Linebaugh Avenue and Northumberland Road (near the commercial development with Westchase Self Storage) will be reduced to one lane going in both directions from 5:30-9:30 a.m. Countryway Boulevard south of Linebaugh Avenue will not be affected.

While the race is being run, deputies will repeatedly halt traffic on these roads to allow runners to cross intersections. Significant delays are likely so residents are encouraged to avoid these roads or leave at least 40 minutes early to ensure they arrive at their destinations on time. If you are on these roads between 5:30-9:30 a.m., you will experience delays.

Please read on for some tips on avoiding the closures.

West Park Village

Residents living in West Park Village to the west of Montague Street can use Tate Lane along the railroad tracks to reach roads east of the event. They can then proceed north to Linebaugh along Bentley Way and Cavendish Drive and proceed eastward along Linebaugh with no disruptions.

The Fords and The Bridges

To avoid Linebaugh lane closures, Fords residents should exit the community by entering Kingsford along Kingsbridge Drive, turn right onto Montague Street at Davidsen Middle School and then turn left onto Linebaugh Avenue at the Montague intersection.

Bridges residents should exit Montague and turn left onto Linebaugh as well.

The Greens

Residents of The Greens will exit Westchase most quickly by proceeding east (following deputies signals) on Linebaugh Avenue. Drivers can avoid any delays at the intersection of Montague and Linebaugh by crossing  Linebaugh and entering The Fords (if deputies permit this). They can then enter Kingsford, turn right on Montague Street and left on Linebaugh Avenue.

Radcliffe

Radcliffe residents can exit Westchase most quickly by turning right on Linebaugh Avenue and left on Countryway Boulevard.

Neighborhoods off Countryway Boulevard

Neighborhoods off Countryway Boulevard should avoid Linebaugh and stretches of Countryway between Linebaugh and Race Track Road between 7-9 a.m. Villages south of Linebaugh can proceed south on Countryway and use Waters Avenue or Tampa Road /Hillsborough Avenue to reach their destinations.

Residents in The Shires will most quickly reach their destinations by turning right on Countryway Boulevard and then heading east or west on Race Track Road.

WOW Thanks Westchasers

We apologize for the disruption and delays and thank Westchasers for their understanding. This popular event, which will attract nearly 1,300 runners, helps promote Westchase as a vibrant community. The event will also result in a significant donation to help support ESL programs for students at Davidsen Middle School.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Ties on Tennis Tournament; Takes No Action on Sunshine Policy

For the first time in many years the number of people attending a Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors meeting on Oct. 11 was so large, they didn’t fit in the meeting room.

Many waited in the reception area and some on the sidewalk outside the office. For several it was the first time they’d attended a WCA meeting.

During the resident forum West Park Village (WPV) Voting member Mary Griffin asked the board for assistance with cars speeding down Cavendish Drive. Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein told her that new board member Michele Del Sordo would be meeting with West Park’s VMs and that he would discuss the matter with county officials when he met with them.

Griffin also asked the board to consider having a WCA Facebook page or presence so that they could address some of the negative comments being posted on social media. At the end of the four-hour meeting, directors discussed the issue and Del Sordo volunteered to develop a communication plan for the association and to oversee its implementation. Stamford resident Carl Longnecker told the board that he would suggest they consult a social media expert and that he was happy to help them with the technical aspects. 

At the board’s request, Jon Ellis with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, the WCA’s legal counsel, attended the meeting to tell them about the legal specifics of the Sunshine Laws and what it would mean to the board if they were to follow them. He said that all HOAs in Florida had to follow the Florida Statutes, Chapter 720, and so the Sunshine Laws could be in addition to those. Under the 720 rules Ellis said, “Board members may use emails as communication but not to vote and a meeting occurs whenever a quorum meets to discuss board business,” which in the case of the WCA is four board members. He added, “Meetings must be open to all members and they must have 48 hours notice.” Ellis said residents could request the WCA records and financial information. 

Ellis said that the Sunshine Laws, which apply to government entities but not HOAs, state that no two members of a body can get together to discuss something that is going to be voted on unless it is actually at a meeting that the public can attend so if a board member was absent from a meeting, another board member could not tell them what happened at the meeting and that board members could not phone, text, or have any communication with each other outside of public meetings. He said the laws, if completely adopted, would then also apply to any committees or other entities under the WCA. Ellis said they would have to pay for a court reporter to attend and document meetings and that as a result of not being able to discuss and make decisions outside of monthly meetings, much of the decision making would fall to WCA staff. “You have not been created like a government agency to work under Sunshine Laws.”

“The Sunshine Laws have specific requirements. If you don’t comply the number one is it is a criminal offense . . . Even if you didn’t realize you were in violation, you are still held liable.”

WOW Publisher Chris Barrett, however, said, “If you look at my emails, I never called for the Sunshine Law, just for operating more in the sunshine. My goal is to stop the tendency of some boards to conduct business in private that should be conducted out in the open. If the board is conducting business outside of the meeting, hiring vendors, discussing contracts, those should be conducted in the open.”

Ellis conceded that the board, “ought to consider what Chris has said. The board should be mindful of what the VMs and homeowners want.”

WCA President Ruben Collazo asked directors what they thought. Goldstein said it sounded very complicated. Director Keith Heinemann said that when he was on the CDD, he found the Sunshine Laws frustrating and thought that overall the board worked very well together. Del Sordo said, “I’m all about transparency, inclusion and acceptance but I’m not good with being part on anything that could bring criminal charges against me.”

Griffin suggested that the board change the by-laws to state that two or more board members could not discuss business outside of meetings. Harbor Links resident Dale Sells suggested adopting operating procedures regarding communications. Ellis asked, “Yes, but what are the consequences if they don’t follow?”

Next Jon Stein, president of the WOW Board, read a WOW board statement. “There were some issues involving the WOW that were raised at the WCA’s recent annual meeting, which we are happy to address,” he read.

Stein added regarding questions raised about the WOW Board handled its audit, “As the sole member of the WOW the WCA has the authority to appoint the members of the WOW Board. The current WOW Member is Keith Heinemann, who has held that position for the past several years. The WOW Board is and has been fully transparent to the WOW member and through that relationship is and has been fully transparent to the WCA Board.”

Addressing a former WCA director’s charges that WOW had inappropriately handled its audit, Stein added that the problematic audit was actually rejected by the WOW Board and WOW declined to pay for it.

In the statement Stein also pointed out that the WOW was fully funded by advertising dollars and did not receive any financial compensation from the WCA and regularly donated money to local schools and non-profit organizations.

Stating he wanted clarification about the relationship between the WCA and WOW Board, WCA Treasurer Shawn Yesner said, “Assume WOW lost all advertising or some future treasurer absconds all the money. Who makes up for the shortfall?”

Ellis responded, “WOW would then be out of business and could file for bankruptcy.”

Yesner then asked if the WOW should be submitting audited statements. Stein replied, “We were audited by the WCA’s auditor for years and paid separately,” but that the WCA’s new firm, Dwight Darby had said that because of their non-profit status, WOW did not have to be audited. Stein added that at their next meeting the WOW board would be discussing when, if and how often to have an outside financial review.

Turning to other matters, all WCA directors voted in favor of appointing Tania Baumhover, Yelena Maloney, Diane McDonough, and Ann Parker to the newly formed Swim Program Due Diligence Committee with Goldstein serving as chair.

All voted in favor of Del Sordo’s motion to not impose the fine for a Lightner Bridge homeowner because the violation had been corrected.

Representatives from Pipeline Swimming asked the board for permission to change the hours of practices for the swim team. After their request, Maloney, whose children are on the team, said that the hours had already been changed and that Pipeline had reduced practice time by 45 minutes. Ultimately directors tabled the request and asked Pipeline to have a parent meeting to discuss the matter before next month.

During a lengthy discussion about the Westchase Open Tennis Tournament, a fundraising event that raised money for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF) at the beginning of the year, Goldstein said that he had always been for the tennis tournament but thought they should look at having a different organizers because one of the organizers had violent outbursts, another mistreated and belittled employees and a third had done nefarious things. Director Wait asked, “If you had so many issues with the organizers, why did you approve it in the first place and praise it afterwards?”

Eric Pogue, one of the organizers of the event, said, “I will do whatever I can to change my delivery. It is highly unfortunate that this has become divisive.”

Wait said, “The people who don’t want to be involved, don’t have to be involved,” and made a motion to allow the WCF to hold and benefit from the tennis tournament with her as the board liaison. Under the motion, Pogue would give the trademark for the event to the WCF. Heineman amended the motion to include a deadline for when the trademark should be handed over. Yesner amended the motion that the trademark be terminated. Collazo added the event could use the Westchase logo on banners, in print and on shirts and apparel, but not on cosmetics. Goldstein added that the WCF get all required insurance and have volunteers sign required waivers. The ultimate vote on the motion was a tie, causing it to fail. Yesner, Heinemann and Goldstein cast the dissenting votes with Collazo, Wait and Del Sordo voting in support.

Following the meeting, Pogue announced he would transfer the trademark and step aside to ensure the WCF could work with the WCA on the tennis tournament.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Oct. 14, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Seniors Celebrate World Smiley Day

World Smiley Day celebrates the ever popular yellow smiley face that encourages acts of kindness to spread smiles and happiness.

Westchase Seniors will celebrate World Smiley Day at the Westchase Golf Club Restaurant on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 11:30 a.m. Lunch will include choice of a main entree (shaved roast beef sandwich, or pasta bowl, or turkey cranwich), and a side (fruit bowl, or pasta salad, or potato salad), plus iced tea, lemonade, brownies, cookies, and entertainment to put a smile on your face, all for just $14. Please R.S.V.P. by Friday, Oct. 6, with your entree and side selections to Susan Linehan ((315) 430-4342) or Jennie Zillich ((440) 785-2254).

The ubiquitous smiley face was created in 1963 by Harvey Ball, a freelance artist who was hired by State Mutual Life Assurance Company in Worcester, Massachusetts, to create a smiley face to improve company morale. That image went on to become the most recognizable symbol of goodwill and cheer on the planet. Harvey thought that everyone should devote at least one day each year to smiles and kind acts. Therefore, in 1999 Ball and the U.S. Congress proclaimed that the first Friday in October should henceforth be World Smile Day.

The Westchase Seniors Group likes the idea and proclaims every day to be a Smile Day. After all, our motto is "It only takes a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap." After Ball passed away in 2001, the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation and the http://www.worldsmileday.com web site continue to honor his name and sponsor World Smile Day events to encourage people to "do an act of kindness to help one person smile."

September Seniors Activity The Westchase Seniors Group thoroughly enjoyed an exceptional performance by the Tampa Bay Water Ski Team at Tower Lake (just three miles from Westchase). Information about the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team is available at http://www.TampaWaterSki.com We ar.e very grateful for Cynde Mercer taking the time and making the effort to plan and coordinate this enjoyable activity for the Westchase Seniors Group.

Active Adult Activities Starting in this month, the following activities are provided by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center (9791 Westchase Dr.) specifically for seniors. You may call 964-2948 if you have any questions. All activities are free (except for food) unless otherwise noted.

• First Thursday of the Month Field Trip, Oct. 4: Free bus trip to Johns Pass departs at 10 a.m. Call 964-2948 to reserve a seat.
• Seniors Outdoor Active Recreation, Oct. 11: Free bus trip to Egmont Key. Call 813-964-2948 for departure time and to reserve a seat.
• Walking Club, Mon-Fri 8:30-9 a.m. Rain or shine, the gym is open.
• Senior Tone and Stretch, Mon, Wed, Fri 9 a.m.
• Gentle Yoga, Thu, 9:30 a.m. ($3 per class.)
• Chair Yoga, Thu, 10:45 a.m. ($3 per class.)
• Ballroom Dancing, Mon, 10 a.m.
• Pickelball Instructions for Beginners, Mon and Wed, 10:30-11 a.m.
• Pickelball Open Play: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Pickelball League Play, Fri, 10:30 a.m.
• App Hour, Mon, 10 a.m. Bring your phone or tablet and learn how to use the latest apps.

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9 to 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 receive e-mails 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 cost a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Saving TONS of Money

“Would you like to save some money today?”

I had stopped dead in the aisle. I was fumbling in my pocket for my shopping list, and the guy just leapt out at me from behind the billboard sized ultra-high definition televisions.

“No, I’m totally opposed to saving money today,” I said.

Usually I’m more strategic and cunning, completely avoiding the eyes of ambushing Costco salesmen. On the weekend, dozens of them lurk just inside the entrance, like the hybrid offspring of car salesmen and Biblical lepers.

But it was Sunday. And Sunday brings entire families out to Costco so they can picnic in the aisles. It brings hordes of people who come to Costco to stare, dumbfounded, at the world’s latest discounted marvels.

Like a very expensive piano that not only plays itself but which also now include a voice that sings along.

No actual human required.

I dug deeper in my pocket, past an old candy wrapper, past a sticky note reminding me to call my brother for his birthday, past another piece of paper on which I scribbled a reminder so illegible that I can’t read it, so I’ve carried it around for two days, hoping I finally remember what I’m supposed to remember.

Bingo!

Found my wife’s Costco shopping list.

“Why wouldn’t you want to save money?” he said.

“On a piano that plays itself and sings along?”

“Yes!” he cried “Who wouldn’t want to own this baby?”

“Anyone who owns an iPod?” I suggested. “They’re a lot easier to carry down Linebaugh Avenue when you’re jogging.”

The logjam of shopping carts broke up. I surged forward, only to be stymied by three pre-teens, abandoned by their parents and rabidly playing video games on the display phones.

“Wanna save some money?” the cell phone salesman said.

“I think you’re just saying that,” I said. “I think you actually want me to spend some money.”

He shrugged.

I tried to get around the boys, but another large family was blocking the aisle. They were arguing while pawing through Halloween costumes.

Which were right next to the illuminated, blinking holiday snowman.

Which were right next to piles of far less expensive real clothing that one might conceivably buy to attend a Halloween Party ironically dressed like a Florida guy driving a golf cart in a fifty-plus retirement trailer park that’s obsessed with American flags.

I finally maneuvered around them only to get jammed again.

Right up against an actual bathtub.

In Costco.

I’ve seen people crawl onto beds in Costo to try them out, so I stood there a moment, waiting for some middle aged couple to climb into the tub to properly weigh its purchase.

I eyed the tub. Then I momentarily weighed whether to crawl into the bathtub in the middle of Costco just to take a selfie to send to all my daughters.

Whom I can embarrass even at great geographic distance.

Then I spotted him. A tiny, very serious looking man, just on the other side of the tub. He began reclining himself in an enormous chair, which began vibrating violently. He looked over at me, his cheeks quaking. “Does the tub vibrate violently too?” I asked before he could ask me if I wanted to save some money.

He just looked at me, his teeth nearly shaking from his mouth. “I—I—I’m. Ju-uh-ust si-i—i-tting,” he said.

OK, not a salesman.

In my defense, who in their right mind jumps into a massage recliner for a test ride and throws it on the “San Francisco Earthquake” setting while dozens of people rush past, inches away, fighting to be the first to grab their tiny white cups from the Tasty Bites Tikka Masala sample cart?

I vamoosed before the guy’s liver liquefied and began dripping out the bottom of his trousers.

Ten feet further up the aisle, a large man dressed like a Texan preacher called out, “Hello, friend! Would you like me to print your insoles while you wait?”

He almost got me.

I almost stopped.

Not because I needed insoles.

But because having your insoles printed seemed like some deliciously weird sideshow from the Florida State Fair.

“I can map your feet to discover its nuances,” he promised.

OK, no.

I’d have to stand there, surrounded by some loud, whirring machine, as hundreds of Costco shoppers madly rushed past to be first in line to grab their tiny white cups of Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa, carefully served on a half square inch of tortilla chip, while staring at me while I awkwardly pointed downward.

“Just mapping my feet to discover their nuances,” I’d have to explain.

“Maybe later,” I lied.

By the time I got to actual food, I was ready to take a nap across the bagel display.

I glanced at my wife’s list.

I had just spent twenty minutes maneuvering into the belly of Costco to buy bagels, chicken, milk, coffee and 100 rolls of toilet paper.

Five stinking things.

Because we buy our produce in actual human quantities at Aldi.

And our dry goods at the Super Target.

Because we have nothing better to do with our lives than to go to three different supermarkets on the weekend.

Fifteen minutes later, I stand in the cashier’s line for ten minutes, wondering why the person in front of me is buying an actual blinking Christmas wreath in the middle of September.

Then I’m done.

Gloriously finished.

Free of shopping in bulk. Free of the hordes of people excitedly standing in line to get their tiny white cups holding two free jelly beans.

Free of the human madness.

I race forward.

Because I must be first in line with my receipt in hand to prove I’m not a shoplifter. Suddenly a large man, standing innocently beneath a picture of solar panels, leaps off his rubber mat and lands at my side.

“Wanna to save some money?”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Hiking Through Utah

Just when Venture Crew 46 was about to embark on a New Mexico adventure, wildfires sent the group scrambling for a replacement.

Instead we headed to Ridgeline, the high adventure portion of Camp Hinckley, a Boy Scout summer camp in Northeast Utah. Directed by outdoorsman extraordinaire, Dakota, Ridgeline is known for its intense climbing, shooting, and hiking. Upon our arrival, Dakota instructed us to drop our packs; we were going climbing. After a short van ride to the nearest mountain, our crew climbed until dark. The next day, we sat down and planned our treks. The camp also expected us to take the day to get acclimated to the elevation, for the 12,000 feet we were about to experience was a bit different than our 20-foot homes in Westchase. After a safety briefing, we were ready to depart.

Crew 46 left the next morning with two staff members, Austin and Noah, and Austin’s dog, Gypsy. Once dropped off at the trailhead, Highline, we made good pace through the Utah State Parks, as we had spent a week earlier this summer hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail in preparation for a longer trek. At the end of our day through the beautiful wilderness, we reached Pinto Lake, where we hung hammocks and camped for the night. The next day, our crew enjoyed a packless day hike to another lake, where we swam. After returning to our campsite, and packing our gear, we hiked a bit longer, an effort to lessen our mileage on the third day. Our crew arrived quickly at our meeting point the next day, eager to be brought back to basecamp and rewarded with showers and a full meal.

Later that afternoon, we enjoyed mountain biking and shooting with the staff of Ridgeline. That night, we were invited to participate in the “Christmas in July” present swap, hosted by the staff. Hopeful for a first white Christmas for some, we embarked on the second leg of the journey the following morning, a hike which would involve incredible elevation gain, and snow at the top.

We were headed for Red Castle. Our first day was a push day: we aimed to go as far as we could to Red Castle so we would have time to enjoy it the next day. The first half of the day was easy: flat ground and a nice trail. We spotted several moose, like no animal we’d encountered in Florida. It was the second half of the day where we reached difficult switchbacks and tough terrain. After hours of dragging feet, our group finally made it to Lower Red Castle Lake, where we camped and enjoyed fly fishing.

The next day, our crew boulder scrambled for miles until we reached the highest elevation at Upper Red Castle Lake. Exhausted, we grubbed down on our best tasting trail meal of the trip. While walking back, we found huge mounds of snow, and sledded until it was time to leave. We exited the Upper Lake through more boulder scrambles until we reached a cliff, where we built a nine-foot cairn, towering over all other rock stacks nearby. We returned to the campsite for a siesta, later leaving for a night hike. We hiked late into the night and set up camp in the dark. Throughout the night, powerful sounds of thunder shook our chests and swung our hammocks. In the morning, we woke up to see a beautiful river nearby, with its banks covered in colorful wildflowers. After a short hike to the meeting point, our crew was greeted again by the friendly camp vans, full of promises of showers and more food.

Over the course of six days, we had hiked close to 70 miles, and gained/lost thousands of feet of elevation.

The next morning our crew thanked Dakota and hit the road, headed for Moab, Utah, home of red rock and desert. We spent the following day exploring Arches, Utah’s famous National Park, and later washed off some of the sand that had accumulated throughout the day in a pool in Moab. That night, we saw bears while going to the campsite. After, our crew enjoyed Mexican food, burgers, and Mesa Verde, a National Park in Colorado, home to pueblos built in the side of the mountain. There, we got to explore these 800-year-old structures, and toured the villages.

We were sad to leave Moab, sad to leave Utah, sad to leave our trip. The many days of hiking, exploring, and sightseeing weren’t like anything we’d experienced in Florida.

If you are between the ages of 14 and 21 and are interested in joining Venture Crew 46, please email geodos@icloud.com.

By George Doster, Venture Crew 46 President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, September 2018

For his birthday a while back, the editor received one of those so-called smart speakers.

Because the family member who gave it to him really wanted one.

Despite the editor being very nervous about letting an American conglomerate potentially listen in to every private conversation in his home and then recommend popular brands of rat poison to his teens after overhearing them arguing with their parents.

Alexa came into his life nonetheless. And now she randomly turns on and off and plays K-pop boy band music when the editor wants to listen to NPR’s All Things Considered while making dinner.

And while she’s largely useless, she does entertain teenagers who ask her questions like, “Alexa, where are the bodies buried?”

Enter Bo, the fabulous fake ad on page 18 of September’s WOW. Bo is the only smart speaker to acknowledge just how dumb he is. Best of all? Bo definitely does not like K-pop boy bands. That’s worth at least 25 bucks.

Meanwhile we congratulate Mark Dimitroff of Glencliff, whose correct fake ad guess was randomly selected by the fake ad gods. Mark will be taking his favorite speaker to a smart 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Cancer Survivors Invited to Livestrong at the Y

Every Thursday a diverse group of people gets together at the Northwest YMCA to attend a small group exercise class.

While they have different athletic abilities and ages, they have two things in common – they have survived cancer and they have graduated from the Y’s Livestrong Program.

“Livestrong is a great 12-week training program that is open and free to the community for cancer survivors. Members attend small group classes to help them get back their strength, establish a healthy lifestyle and routine and get strong,” said Yaimy Marshall, Wellness Director at the NW and West Park Village YMCAs. “Participants go through a simple intake process, so we can make sure we put them with the right group. They also receive a three-month membership to the Y with all the benefits. Not only for them, but for their family that lives in their household.”

“It gave me a support group of friends,” said Keswick Forest Resident Lori Smart. “Everyone comes in at different levels and the trainers do an amazing job of catering to all workout levels, so everyone feels like they are growing. If you come in and can’t do anything, they will build you up to it.”

Shires resident Mindy Murray had been a member of the Y for many years when an employee suggested the program. “He knew what I had gone through and suggested signing up. I had always worked out but never with a trainer. The hardest part for me was introducing myself to the rest of the group. My cancer treatment was still too fresh, and I didn’t like to talk about it but once you talk, you get support from the group. The work out part is great, but the bonds are very special.”

At the end of the 12-week program, the Y holds a graduation celebration for participants and they then become alumni of the program. “I am always looking for local businesses to help us out,” said Marshall. “For our last graduation, Burger 21 gave our graduates free food coupons that we put in their goodie bags.”

New Livestrong group programs start every three months, usually with morning and evening classes to accommodate different schedules. The next session will begin at the end of October. If you are a cancer survivor and are interested in joining the Livestrong Program call 792-7838 or email Marshall at yaimy.marshall@tampaymca.org.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Total Body Resistance Training

In the last decade suspension training has become very popular.

First introduced to military personnel, it has spread to fitness studios, gyms, and the at-home exerciser. A former Navy Seal, Randy Hetrick, developed a system made of adjustable straps with metal clasp rings. He trademarked Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX).

The strap uses your own body resistance for a total body workout. Anchored to a stable point overhead, you maneuver them to perform a variety of exercises. From a standing posture you can face the straps to do things like lat pull-downs and bicep curls. Facing away from the straps and leaning forward, you can do things like chest presses and overhead extensions. The straps have stirrup attachments that your feet can slide into, so they can be suspended a few inches off the ground to further challenge core muscles. Assuming a pushup position, some of the many exercises you can perform are knee tucks and pushups.

Personal Trainer and Fords resident, Wendela Jackson, a YMCA trainer, likes the portability of the system and uses TXR with her clients and for her own personal use. “I love suspension training because it is a full body workout, using core all the time, while improving strength, balance, agility, and power,” she said.

TRX suspension straps improve the core’s stability and strength. A strong core is very important because it represents your stabilizing muscles. Regardless of how you define your core, your strength and power are initiated from it. Like a vibrant, healthy tree needs a strong trunk to support its limbs, so does the body. A stronger core improves posture and circulation and may reduce back pain and other joint discomfort

Greens resident, Tifinni Gothard has been doing TRX for over six years. “There are so many ways you can work your muscles with TRX straps. You can have variety in your workouts and not get bored,” she said. “You can be a beginner or advanced and still workout together doing the same exercises but at your own intensity through simple adjustments.”

Regular training can burn fat, build lean muscle and increase endurance and flexibility Remember, however, that proper training and body awareness are necessary to reduce the risk of injury and get the best results.

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>

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Hobby of Raising Her Hand

West Park Village resident, Michele DelSordo, has an interesting hobby.

“I like to raise my hand at Voting Member meetings,” she chuckled.

That hobby has landed her on several committees when the group has asked for volunteers. As the alternate Voting Member for Classic Townhomes in West Park Village, DelSordo enjoys giving her time to her community.

Originally from New Jersey, DelSordo describes herself as a Jersey girl living in a Florida world. Eager to go to work when she was only 14, she obtained a work permit and began cleaning houses for senior citizens for $5 per job. When in high school, she left school early each day to work as a mail clerk at an insurance company.

DelSordo is the classic example of working your way to the top. She stayed with the company for 22 years and worked her way to become the assistant vice president of retail distribution for the company. “Our offices were in middle Manhattan, right next to Radio City Music Hall,” she said.

One of her responsibilities in that position was event planning for the company. This experience served her well when joined the George Martin “a JOURNEY for 9/11” team. Retired NFL player for the New York Giants, Martin set out on a journey to walk across the country to raise awareness and money for Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers. Studies had shown that nearly 70 percent of the responders to World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001 were suffering from lung disease and other serious health issues as a result of their exposure to conditions at Ground Zero. He began the walk on Sept, 16, 2007 in New York City and completed his effort on June 21, 2009 in San Diego.

Martin knew DelSordo would be the perfect fit for their fundraising and event planning needs along the way. The team raised millions in contributions and matching medical services. Martin walked an average of 22 miles a day, went through 25 pairs of shoes and 80 pairs of socks during the trek. “It really was quite the journey,” DelSordo recalled of her experience with the team.

Fast forward and DelSordo is now Chief Compliance Officer for PSI Advisors, LLC. The company consists of nine sales representatives who manage $400 million in assets. “The rules are black and white and I just make sure they stay in compliance to those rules,” she said. She originally rented a townhouse in West Park Village. When one just across the street came up for sale, she grabbed it. “It was the best move ever,” she recalled. “All I had to do was go right across the street with my wagon!”

When DelSordo became interested in what was going on within the community, she attended a board meeting for Classic Townhomes. A month or so later, she received a phone call with a request to join. As a result of her “hobby” of raising her hand at meetings, DelSordo now has experience as a member of the Covenants, Metal Roof, Documents Review and Government Affairs Committees. “I haven’t always known exactly what it would entail but I figure it out,” she said.

Her favorite, she said, is the Covenants Committee. “I look forward to that meeting. They really befriended me and taught me so much.”

In the days after DelSordo’s interview for this article, she was elected to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors. She said of the Voting Members who elected her, “I want to listen and learn about the history of Westchase. I really respect that group of people and at the end of the day, it isn’t what I want done, it’s a matter of what’s good for Westhcase,” she explained.

As the alternate voting member for West Park Village, she does have a desire to calm the traffic in the neighborhood. “I’d really like to see the speed limits reduced,” she said.

It’s the sense of pride Westchase has—and her neighbors—that makes DelSordo want to continue to step up and volunteer for her community. “We all really banded together during Irma and when my hot water heater broke, I showered in my neighbor’s houses for two weeks!” she shared. “When you can do that, you know it’s a good neighborhood.”

Thank you, Michele, for helping to keep Westchase that type of community!

By Lisa Stephens

WOW Profile writer Lisa Stephens is always looking for interesting residents to profile. She can be contacted at lmsfla@verizon.net.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Charitable Foundation Brings Annual Golf Tournament to the Westchase Golf Club

The 2018 Westchase Cup Golf Outing is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9, at the Westchase Golf Club.

The tournament begins with a shotgun start noon. It will include 18 holes of golf, food and beverages all day, player gifts, on-course tasting and beverage stations, a silent auction, and community fellowship. Our very own Tampa Bay Buccaneers have jumped on board to support this event. Captain Fear and the cheerleaders will be there for photo opportunities and to cheer the players on.

Proceeds directly benefit the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF). “We are excited to bring our annual golf event back to Westchase,” said Thomas Cushing, Golf Tournament Coordinator and WCF Board Member. “We are expecting a full field, so we encourage everyone to register early. I’m looking forward to a great tournament and seeing the support from Westchase community.”

WCF is a local 501(c)3 non-profit that is 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 struck by tragedy. The foundation has helped children all over Tampa Bay including families in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Since their inception in 2004, they have given out over $500,000 in grants raised through this golf tournament, the Tampa Bay Woman of the Year event in March and other events. This year has been a record year of giving, with over $95,000 presented to deserving families in 2018. With your support the WCF can continue their mission to help families like the Johnston family in Westchase, whose son suffered a spinal injury; the Hall family in New Port Richey, whose house burned down; and the Lund family in Lithia with a single mother fighting lymphoma.

There are many sponsorship opportunities available and your support is greatly appreciated. Visit http://www.westchasefoundation.org/golf to sign up today!

By Kimberly Wander

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Rosie!

Here is Rosie, a mini golden doodle, belongs to the Sendlenski family of The Vineyards. Rosie is 8 years old and enjoys napping a lot along with playing with her brother and sister, Finn, 11, and Shea, 8. Finn wrote, “Rosie is a happy dog. She’s curious and loving. Even though she’s getting to be an older dog, she’s still got loads of energy. She loves it when she gets her daily walks—she literally runs out of the house is ready to go.”

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Speakeasy with Talkies

During the prohibition era, when alcoholic beverages were illegal in the U.S. (can you even imagine?), the term “gigglewater” was code for alcohol.

So it makes perfect sense that Gigglewaters Social Club and Screening Room in Safety Harbor features the speakeasy vibe of the roaring 20s and 30s. The outside is deceptively plain, but inside, warm tones, dark walls, Edison lighting and an old-timey bar (built from circa 1890s Biltmore doors and wood, according to the Gigglewaters website) give the place an authentic speakeasy vibe. Images of tatted-up movie stars on the walls add a modern, hipster twist.

Gigglewaters effectively ties together the vibe of a jumping speakeasy with a hip, urban joint then adds some cinema-and-drafthouse appeal to make it even more unique. That’s right: nosh on nibbles like Giggle Dogs and Giggle Dippers, wet your whistle with unique craft cocktails, and watch a movie – all right in downtown Safety Harbor. September showings included classics like The Big Lebowski, Mad Max, and The Princess Bride (check the website for the latest lineup; the cost is $5.

The screening room is located in a separate room in the back).

While you watch or hang out in the bar area, munch on appetizers such as Frito Pie ($10) or loaded Bootlegger Fries ($10) or opt for some Giggle Dippers—you select a dipper and two sauces. We went with Fried Green Beans ($9) and Pretzel Loaf ($8) paired Thai Chili, Beer Cheese, Garlic Aioli, and Kicked Up Queso sauces (there are lots more). The pretzels were warm and soft, and we got a mound of green beans that was more than enough for a table to share. The sauces were all tasty.

For the main course, my dining partner went all in with the Double Cross Giggle Dog ($13). Wrapped in bacon and deep fried, this isn’t your regular hot dog. It’s slathered with chili, cheddar, scallions, jalapeños, and sour cream and topped with Fritos. Definitely not low cal. It was juicy with a smoky taste and, served with a heap of fries, was way too much for one person. 

I went with the Sonny Corleone Giggle Burger ($14). Made with Wagyu beef and topped with swiss, mushrooms, and caramelized onions, it was good, but it didn’t blow me away. Likewise, my other dining partner was disappointed in his Virgil Starkwell Famous Chicken sandwich ($13). Although it had great toppings, the chicken was dry, tough and clearly overcooked. When she saw it was uneaten and learned why, our server took it off the bill (even though we didn’t ask).

The Gigglewaters menu is pretty extensive, so if burgers, dogs, and chicken sandwiches aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other choices like deconstructed salads, mac ‘n cheese, and entrees (including Chicken and Waffles).

We finished our meal with a delicious Bourbon Pound Cake ($7). A slab of Joey Biscotti’s (the gourmet bakery located down the street) Bourbon Pound Cake is toasted, drizzled with bourbon caramel and served with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. It was fantastic—and arguably the best dish of the night.

I really like the concept at Gigglewaters. Depending on the movie, it can be a great place to take a date on a Saturday night or the kids on a Sunday afternoon—or forego the movie altogether and just enjoy the speakeasy vibe and some great craft cocktails with friends.

Gigglewaters Social Club
3.5 STARS
http://www.gigglewaters.com
. 737 Main Street, Safety Harbor.
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

By Melanie Casey

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Are You Ready for the Election?

The Nov. 6 General Election promises to be one for the record books.

August’s primary saw extraordinarily high turnout and passions are running high.

Some voters may be frustrated with the nation’s division and be less inclined to vote. Other voters may just be intimidated by this November’s ballot due to its sheer size. Due to all the offices, referenda and constitutional amendments on the ballot, it will help to do a little homework about what to expect before going in to vote.

The State’s Big Races

The election will pick Florida’s next governor and one of Florida’s US Senators. It will also determine the future direction of the Hillsborough County Commission and Hillsborough School Board.

In many ways, Florida’s gubernatorial (governor) and senate contests have become nationalized. Republican Ron DeSantis, currently a member of the U.S. Congress, has been endorsed by President Donald Trump and touts himself as a very conservative member of the Tea Party favoring low taxes, cutting regulations and limited government. He’s being challenged by Jacksonville Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat who is running on a platform of expanding Medicaid coverage in Florida for the state’s poor, raising the minimum wage and increasing the tax on Florida corporations from five to seven percent in order to increase funding of Florida schools by $1 billion.

Voters will also select members of the cabinet, the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture.

In another big race, current term-limited Governor Rick Scott, a Republican elected eight years ago on conservative Tea Party principles, is challenging moderate Democrat Bill Nelson, one of Florida’s current U.S. Senators who is seeking reelection. The race is one of the Senate’s current “toss up” races. The U.S. Senate is currently controlled 51-49, by Republicans. This tight race will likely focus on Florida’s environment and critiques of the candidates’ support for education, transportation and the expansion of Medicaid for Florida’s poorest residents. The shadow of the president, whose agenda hinges on which party ultimately controls Congress, may ultimately affect this race’s outcome.

Current U.S. House member Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, was automatically reelected when she saw no challengers file to run against her.

Both houses of the Florida legislature are currently dominated by the Republican Party. The big issues in current races? They likely will hinge on funding for Florida’s schools, transportation projects and the current environmental crisis in Lake Okeechobee and the resulting pollution feeding red tide blooms.

Democrats see some hope in possibly flipping one seat in the Florida Senate, District 18, encompassing the Westchase area. State Senator Dana Young, the Republican incumbent from South Tampa, is being challenged by Democrat Janet Cruz, a current member of the Florida House. Both generally take their traditional party positions, with Republican Young supporting lower taxes and calling for greater regulations on call spoofing, steroid use in racing greyhounds and keeping fantasy sports leagues legal. Cruz is calling for greater funding for education to improve school maintenance and teachers’ salaries, more affordable healthcare and greater gun safety controls.

On the House side, District 64 encompasses Westchase, Oldsmar and Carrollwood. Its demographics lean decidedly more Republican. In this district incumbent House member James Grant, a conservative Republican, is running on a campaign to create what he calls a minimal viable government. His campaign touts his support for gun rights, cutting taxes and eliminating regulations. Grant is being challenged by Democrat Jessica Harrington and Independent Andy Warrener. Harrington, a teacher, describes herself as a Progressive Democrat and favors increased school funding, the expansion of Medicaid access, greater environmental protections and more job opportunities. Warrener touts environmental protection, lower state corporate taxes, greater restrictions on firearms, promoting solar energy and raising the state’s minimum wage as his priorities.

Consequential County Contests

Two referenda will potentially affect sales tax rates in Hillsborough County. In one referendum voters will be asked if they support a ten-year half-cent sales tax increase to help pay for the school district’s backlog of maintenance projects and new schools.

In a second referendum, voters will be asked if they support a 30-year one-percent increase in the sales tax to raise $280 million annually to fund transportation and transit improvements. Fifty-five percent of proceeds will go to congestion relief in the construction new roads, lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks. The remaining 45 percent will be earmarked for expanding transit with emphasis on expanded bus transit in dedicated lanes and other projects identified in the long-range plan of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a transportation policy making board made up of elected local leaders from the county, school district and cities.

The Westchase area will vote on two school board races. School board races are non-partisan, so candidates do not list political party affiliations on the ballot.

Hillsborough School District currently faces significant financial challenges. Burdened by debt from previous school construction, it faces over $250 million in deferred plant maintenance for aging and broken AC units, significant costs for new school construction in still growing areas and demands from teachers to increase salaries.

In the county-wide District 6 school board race, voters will choose between two Democrats, Karen Perez and Henry “Shake” Washington. Washington, a Seffner resident, is a retired teacher, coach, principal and school district administrator and former U.S. Army reservist and Florida National Guardsman. He supports greater funding for public schools and the proposed half-cent sales tax referendum to fund Hillsborough Schools. Perez, a New Tampa resident, has a background in clinical social work. She is running on commitments to promoting mental health wellness, providing safer schools, supporting teachers and balancing the budget.

The District 1 school board race (District 1 encompasses Egypt Lake, Town N Country and Westchase) features a contest between Westwood Lakes resident Steve Cona, a Republican who is president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, and William Henry Person, a Democrat who has previously worked as former teacher and school district administrator. A supporter of the half-cent sales tax referendum for greater public school funding, Person promises to resolve the district's financial crisis, work toward greater state funding of education, oppose expansion of for-profit charter schools, work for fairer teacher compensation and restore district credibility. Cona commits to exploring cost-savings in the district to address its financial shortcomings and lobbying the state legislature to increase school funding. He views charter schools as viable alternatives to traditional public schools and told WOW he is neutral on the half-cent sales tax referendum.

The ballot also features two county-wide elections for the Hillsborough County Commission. In recent years, county commission politics have been dominated by discussions about growing road congestion and rules and impacts surrounding further housing developments. Specifically the county faces a sizable backlog of deferred maintenance (such as road repaving). Critics argue Hillsborough County needs to fund more roads, construct new lanes and expand of mass transit options so folks can use something other than their cars. For the last two decades the commission has had a Republican majority (Currently it is 5-2) that has traditionally resisted exploring new revenues to fund transportation and transit needs. These commissioners have consistently argued that current funding is adequate provided that it is directed properly.

The two commission seats Westchase area residents will be voting on, District 5 and District 7, are considered competitive and will likely determine whether the board changes direction on matters involving development, transportation and transit.

The District 5 seat features an election among Republican board incumbent Victor Crist, currently term limited for running for his current board seat (Crist is currently representing an area of northern Hillsborough just east of Sheldon Road). He's running against Democrat Mariella Smith and Independent Joe Kotvas, who previously served on the county commission but was convicted and jailed for bribery in 1983 associated with rezoning votes. (At deadline Kotvas’ web site held no issue positions except working toward ending racism.)

Democrat Smith supports addressing traffic gridlock by limiting sprawl and prioritizing the funding of transportation infrastructure. She supports the development of a mass transit system that provides more options than just cars. She calls for developers to pay for higher mobility fees to pay for the new roads their housing developments need. Smith also opposes permitting further development outside the Urban Service Area (the densest area near the urban core), arguing it creates even more need for roads at the expense of existing neighborhoods. Smith stated she would rather see greater investments in transportation and schools to attract new corporations instead of offering them tax incentives. She has been harshly critical of the $6 million incentive the county commission gave to Bass Pro Shops to open a store in Brandon.

Republican Crist cites the greatest county issue as a likely decrease in revenue from a constitutional amendment limiting property taxes. He promises to address it by identifying and cutting waste. Among transportation successes, Crist cited his fight to legalize ride-sharing companies like Uber and his support for a 10-year program that focuses on road construction and improvements without tax increases. While encouraging development in the Urban Service Area, Crist stated that growth projections may create occasions when development outside the area is appropriate. Crist has expressed greater support than Smith for the commission using corporate tax refunds/incentives to attract relocating businesses.

The District 7 race for county commissioner (a county wide seat) features a contest between Republican Todd Marks of Westchase and Democrat Kimberly Overman of Seminole. Also on the ballot is Green candidate Kim O’Connor, a lawyer from Ybor City (No information could be found about O’Connor). Marks spent the primary touting his conservative credentials, stating government is not the answer and tax increases are not a solution. He promised to work towards additional tax cuts and the removal of regulations. He has called the proposed one cent sales tax for road building and transit a boondoggle that will do little to relieve congestion. Promising to be tough on illegal immigration by fighting against sanctuary cities (Hillsborough County currently has none), Marks emphasizes the need for the county to do its part to support President Trump locally. He’s also called for limiting sprawl by allowing landowners/developers to sell density credits and prioritizing transportation spending in the existing budget. While stating they must offer a proper return on investment, Marks appears more open than his opponent to using tax refunds/incentives from the county to attract relocating corporations.

Overman has called for the county establishment of carefully followed growth plans that put the public first. She has called for greater transit initiatives, stating these will require more funding, perhaps through increases in mobility fees charged to developers or increases to gas taxes or the transportation sales tax referendum, which she supports. She has committed to reconfiguring impact fees so developers pay for the roads and schools their new housing developments need rather than the current approach, which she states simply adds to the county’s existing backlog of unmet needs. Overman stated that corporate tax incentives/refunds must primarily benefit the county rather than the corporations to which they're given.

In other local races, Hillsborough County residents will also vote for a sheriff between Republican incumbent Chad Chronister and Democratic challenger Gary Pruitt. In the Park Place CDD, representing Highland Park, Mandolin and Windsor Place, residents will be voting for either incumbent supervisor Doris Cockerell of Mandolin or Don Robinson of Windsor Place.

A number of judicial races as well as seats on local Soil and Water Conservation Districts are also featured on the ballot.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

October’s Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor Award Winner: Kelley Gardner Prince

This month’s winner of the Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor contest is recognized for a simple act of kindness.

On the first day of school, Fords resident Beth Kocol decided to skip the crazy traffic line and walk her first grader to school. “Two moms zoomed up on a golf cart as we had just turned on Linebaugh,” she said.

Later Kocol told the story to friends and learned it was Village Green resident Kelley Gardner Prince at the wheel with her friend Shannon Howell.

“They were walking down Linebaugh,” explained Prince. “School was going to be starting soon and they were so far away. I asked them if they wanted a ride.”

Prince and Howell’s own children weren’t with them, however. “We put our kids to bus and we rushed to school to meet them on the first day,” she said with a laugh. “We wanted to put them on the bus so they have that experience on the first day.”

It was that simple act of kindness that had a big impact.

“My boys, 4 and 6, gave a big, ‘Yes!’” said Kocol. “They still talk about how fun that ride on the first day of school was.”

“So cheers to you!” Kocol added of Prince and Howell, when Kocol nominating them on Westchase Neighborhood News for the Thankful for Your Neighbor Award. “I hope y'all win and can grab a drink (or five) together for your hospitality!”

Prince has lived Westchase since 2003, first in West Park Village and currently in Village Green. A single mom, she owns Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay. “I work with children with autism,” she said.

Congratulations to Gardner Prince for being recognized for her spontaneous act of kindness.

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

Do you know a good neighbor who should be recognized for kindness, helpfulness or their community spirit? You can nominate them on the Irish 31 Thankful for your Neighbor Contest post, which appears on Westchase Neighborhood News on Facebook on the last Thursday of every month.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

33626 Crime: August 2018

Fraud—Credit Card

8/3

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Battery—Simple

8/3

9700 Montague St.

Obstruct—Police (Non-Violent)

8/3

9700 Montague St.

Theft from a Vehicle

8/5

12400 Bristol Commons Cr.

DUI

8/5

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Battery—Simple

8/5

11000 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/6

10000 Seymour Wy.

Theft from a Vehicle

8/7

9800 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/7

11500 Carrie Marie Pl.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/8

13700 Antler Point Dr.

Battery—Simple

8/8

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

DUI

8/9

7900 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

8/9

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

DUI

8/10

Old Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Battery—Simple

8/11

9100 Lakechase Island Wy.

Battery—Simple

8/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Business/Forced

8/13

14400 Carlson Cr.

DUI

8/13

Sheldon Rd./Westwind Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/14

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Fraud—Other

8/14

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant in County

8/14

9300 Pontiac Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/15

9000 Breland Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

8/16

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery—Simple

8/19

Waterchase Blvd./Race Track Rd.

Warrant out of County

8/20

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/20

12900 Sheldon Rd.

Harassing/Obscene

8/20

11900 Congressional Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/22

10700 Preserve Lake Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/23

8800 Promise Dr.

Other Weapon Violations

8/24

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

8/25

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Burglary Residence/Forced

8/25

11900 Cypress Vista

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/26

9800 Bayboro Bridge Dr.

Battery—Simple

8/27

12700 Corral Rd.

Theft from a Vehicle

8/29

9400 Cavendish Dr.

Warrant in County

8/30

8800 Citrus Vlg Dr.

Warrant in County

8/31

11000 Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Residence/Forced

8/31

10300 Green Links Dr.

Petit Theft—All Other

8/31

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Tampa’s Haunted Places

Dive into any city’s history and you’re sure to find a few good ghost stories and downtown Tampa is no exception.

Chrissy Coplen, founder of Ghost Party Haunted Tours and Ghost Party Paranormal Group, has been exploring some of Tampa’s most haunted places for 10 years. Many are located in Ybor City. “I’ve been ‘accidently’ locked inside the Cuban Club twice. They were the scariest moments of my life,” she said.

Founded in 1902, The Cuban Club was a place for immigrants to gather. The original building, which burned down in 1916 and was rebuilt the next year, once contained a gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, theatre, ball room and cantina. Today it is rented out for special events. People have reported seeing the ghost of a young actor and playwright who committed suicide on stage after he forgot the words to his play, the ghost of a young boy who drowned while swimming in the indoor pool and a lady dressed all in white.

Coplen said another place in Ybor City where her group has had unexplainable encounters is the Carne Chop House. “Many people have reported seeing a shadow man there. One night one of the bartenders walked over to the wine cabinet to get a bottle of wine. When he turned around, he saw a tall man who was missing one side of his face.”

One of the newest haunts on Coplen’s tour is Snobachi, where the chills aren’t just due to the ice cream. “They asked us to come investigate their building a few weeks ago after they experienced items flying off the shelves” said Coplen. “They hear footsteps upstairs even though no one lives there.”

It’s not just Ybor City that is teeming with ghosts. Downtown Tampa has all sorts of spirits lingering behind. The Fort Brooke Parking Garage was built in 1980 over a cemetery and even though the remains of soldiers and Native Americans were removed and reburied, people report hearing the sounds of drumming and chanting in the garage and have seen strange, shadowy figures.

Tampa Theatre is such a great place to work that apparently some employees never want to leave. Rosa Rio played the Mighty Wurlitzer organ there until she was 107 years old and many guests and current staff say they can still hear her playing the organ throughout the day. The theatre’s original projectionist enjoyed smoking cigarettes and to this day, people report seeing clouds of smoke coming from the projection room and a lingering smell of cigarette smoke, although smoking has been banned in the theatre for many years.

The Plant Museum on the University of Tampa campus has quite a few ghost stories connected to it. “Given the age of the building—the Tampa Bay Hotel opened in 1891—it seems almost impossible for there not to be a couple spirits hanging around today,” said Museum Relations manager Lindsay Huban. “Victorians had lots of superstitions regarding death and mirrors, and I’ve definitely caught myself looking twice when walking the museum hallways after dark.” 

Huban added, “Ghostly visitors could include some of the famous guests like John Philip Sousa, Sarah Bernhardt (who claimed to sleep regularly in a coffin) or Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders.  There also is documentation about a double suicide that took place inside the hotel.  With our connection to the death and disease of the Spanish-American War, it is easy to imagine that there are spirits of soldiers roaming the hallways.  We love visitors coming to the museum and sharing any stories of what they sense as well.”

Curious to do a little ghost hunting of your own?

Ghost Party Haunted Tours offers ghost tours of Ybor City throughout the week as well as specially planned trips to other cities to see who’s haunting them. The Tampa Theatre will be offering ghost tours throughout the month of October and the Plant Museum is hosting an Eerie Evening at the Tampa Bay Hotel on Oct. 27.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Mompreneur: Trina Ashour

Stockbridge resident, Trina Ashour, has always had a passion for interior design.

After graduating in 2006 with a B.S. in Interior Design from Northern Arizona University, she spent time working for commercial design firms, though dreamed of one day opening her own company. When she married her husband Trevor a few years later, working for companies became tough, with Trevor’s Air Force career moving them around every few years. In 2009, she decided to make her dream a reality and opened her first interior design business while living in Kansas.

She worked on and off after her first child was born in 2010, and throughout several moves. In 2015, they settled in Tampa and she began doing some local design work again in 2017. Wanting to rebrand, she decided to name her company Renovate Interior Design, based on her love of renovations. In January of this year, she officially opened her business and has been non-stop ever since. 

Trina’s passion truly shows in each project she takes on. She takes pride in the ability to provide the client with a space they love. “It’s so important to feel comfortable, warm, and happy in your own home,” she said, “Nothing feels better than completing a space and having a client express how much better they feel in their home now.”

She knows that renovations can be overwhelming, but her role in the renovation process takes a ton of weight off the client. Acting as a middle man, she takes care of any issues that come up, and communicates with everyone involved to make sure things run smoothly so they can enjoy their new space. “It makes me so happy to carry the weight of that stress that would normally be on the client.”

Though her job is demanding, it certainly doesn’t take away from her role as mom to her three children – Wesley, 10, Porter, 4, and Shiloh, 2.5. She says that even though she’s finding her balance, it’s still a continuous struggle at times to perfectly balance work life and home life. With her older two in school, she’s been able to take on a heavier work schedule, and feels blessed to be able to work from home and have flexibility. When she’s not helping clients design new spaces, she loves spending time here in Westchase. They enjoy playing tennis at the courts and then heading over to Irish 31 for a beer, spending time at the local parks, and riding their bikes to grab dinner (Burger 21 is a big favorite). They’re also members of Westtown Church and love participating in the community and events that take place there.

Of all her successful moments, Trina said that one of her most favorite projects was a “vintage” kitchen remodel. The client wanted a quirky 70s style with vinyl, checkerboard flooring, and bright colors, a rarity these days, as most people prefer to stick with the current trends. It gave her the chance to be imaginative and design outside the box, allowing for a unique result. “The clients loved it in the end, and were so thankful that I was able to bring life to their ideas. That was a great moment.”

By Brie Gorecki

For more information about Renovate Interior Design, visit http://www.renovateinteriordesign.com

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

MOMS Club of Westchase Kicks Off Autumn

September was a busy month for the MOMS Club.

We started off the exploring the deep blue sea at the Florida Aquarium. Later we had a play date at LaFleur’s, where the children were able to run and play indoors. We met up for a fun lunch at Surf Shack with our kiddos, then ended the month enjoying each other’s company playing a laid-back game of Bunco for our Moms Night Out.

The MOMS Club charity for September was a monetary donation to Acheson Attic, which helps specific families in the area that are in need. We also gave a monetary donation to Joey Johnston’s charity, Prayers for Joey. Our October philanthropy will be to give a monetary donation in support of breast cancer.

The MOMS Club is constantly growing! This month we have a new group of newborn babies joining us, The Angelfish group! When I joined the group, I had no idea what group my daughter would be in or why. I just kind of went with it. Then I realized why we have all the groups. They relate to your child’s age.

When the individual groups get together they all have kids around the same age and are all learning and growing together. I loved being able to watch my daughter play and meet other babies that will grow and turn into some amazing friendships. I know that we all cannot wait to see the cute things the Angelfish will be doing this year and the years to come. Welcome to the MOMS Club Angelfish babies!

If you are a mom or a mom-to-be wanting to get connected to this wonderful group, please visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com Inter.ested in becoming a member but not ready to
commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure that you will want to continue your motherhood journey with us.

By Kelly Walton

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen Middle School Begins New Year with a Roar

The Davidsen Middle School Dragons began the new school year with a roar!

The Back to School Dance on Aug. 24 was widely-attended and fun was had by all. Thanks to all who volunteered and supported this event.

All Davidsen parents are invited to attend the monthly Student Advisory Committee meetings (SAC), held on the last Thursday of every month at 8:15 a.m. The next meeting is Oct. 25.

The Eighth Grade Committee will be selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the last Friday of every month. One dozen doughnuts is $10. The next sale is Oct. 26.

Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts will be the beneficiary of the 2018 Great West Chase presented by the WOW. The race is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27. Be sure to contact WOW if you’d like to sponsor the event and/or participate.

DMS will now offer a year-round food pantry for Dragon families in need of a helping hand. If you’d like to donate non-perishable food items, you may drop them at the front office.

The Davidsen Dance program is off to a great start as they prepare for their Winter Showcase. Please mark your calendars for Friday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 PM at the Alonso High School Auditorium.

Have you purchased your Davidsen PTSA Membership cards? Your membership dues help support all the PTSA programs and events. Individual Membership is $5; Household Membership is $20. No volunteering is required. Please visit http://www.davidsenptsa.org for more information.

Davidsen Dragons who want to “Dress for Success” can find approved uniform wear on the Spirit Line web site at http://www.davidsenuniforms.com DMS h.oodie purchases will benefit the Eighth Grade activities. All items will be shipped to your home free of charge. Questions? E-mail spiritline@davidsenptsa.org.

Do you have an Eighth Grade Dragon? Would you like to help with various activities and events throughout the year to celebrate their last year of middle school? Even if you can’t be present at events, there are plenty of “behind-the-scenes” volunteer opportunities. To volunteer, or just remain informed regarding the eighth-grade activities, please complete and return the form in your first day packet or contact our Eighth Grade Committee Co-Chair, Sandy Anderson, at sandyandersonrph@att.net.

The Davidsen PTSA is seeking 2018-2019 business partners. The Business Partnership program offers an opportunity for local businesses to promote their goods and services while supporting PTSA programs and events. For more information on sponsorship, contact co-chairs Kim Wiley or Tami Daniels at waysandmeans@davidsenptsa.org.

Community Discount Cards are on sale now for $10. Support your school and receive discounts at area retail and restaurant establishments like Altitude Trampoline Arena, Burger 21, Bahama Bucks, Marina’s Pizza, PDQ and many more! To purchase your card 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.

October Dates

1     PTSA Board Meeting, 8:15 a.m.
6     Freebooter’s Krewe Golf Tournament
18   Picture Re-Takes
25   SAC Meeting at 8:15 a.m.; Cyber Safety Presentation, 6 p.m.
26   Krispy Kreme Doughnut Sale
27   The Great Westchase to benefit DMS

By Carolyn Reynolds

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Real Estate Round Up: August 2018

Address

Sale
Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full
Baths

Half

Baths

Living
Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10607 Drayton Ct.

250,000

130

160.36

3

2

1

1,559

N

10002 Tate Ln.

262,000

10

180.44

3

2

1

1,452

N

9613 W Park Village Dr.

313,000

61

202.46

2

2

0

1,546

N

11842 Derbyshire Dr.

345,000

32

202.23

3

2

0

1,706

N

12006 Oaksbury Dr.

352,000

33

207.18

3

2

0

1,699

Y

10244 Woodford Bridge St.

360,000

52

166.44

4

2

1

2,163

Y

10601 Wild Meadow Way

360,000

119

162.09

3

2

1

2,221

N

12007 Oaksbury Dr.

375,000

60

194.20

3

2

0

1,931

Y

10121 Belgrave Rd.

385,500

6

220.29

3

2

0

1,750

N

9813 Woodbay Dr.

395,000

26

217.99

3

2

0

1,812

Y

9510 Greenpointe Dr.

419,500

77

192.17

3

2

0

2,183

Y

10218 Millport Dr.

420,000

0

158.91

4

3

0

2,643

Y

9801 Woodbay Dr.

429,000

4

194.56

4

3

0

2,205

N

9603 Greenpointe Dr.

446,000

3

204.31

3

2

0

2,183

Y

10326 Millport Dr.

450,000

24

172.41

4

3

0

2,610

Y

10502 Brentford Dr.

459,000

58

192.94

4

3

0

2,379

Y

10704 Ayrshire Dr.

460,000

14

186.08

4

3

0

2,472

Y

11912 Keating Dr.

505,000

3

204.79

4

3

0

2,466

Y

10031 Brompton Dr.

537,500

0

176.63

4

3

1

3,043

N

12113 Clear Harbor Dr.

620,000

43

217.85

4

3

0

2,846

Y

10005 Radcliffe Dr.

680,000

9

200.59

4

3

1

3,390

Y

10112 Radcliffe Dr.

693,000

7

222.40

4

3

0

3,116

Y

10535 Greensprings Dr.

695,000

10

199.31

4

3

0

3,487

Y

Highland Park

               

11606 Splendid Ln.

870,000

0

206.06

4

3

1

4,222

N

11510 Fountainhead Dr.

225,000

63

153.06

3

2

1

1,470

N

11544 Fountainhead Dr.

225,000

20

153.06

3

2

1

1,470

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11315 Minaret Dr.

523,000

3

170.08

4

2

1

3,075

Y

11608 Greensleeve Ave.

425,000

1

188.55

4

3

0

2,254

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14510 Pond Cypress Way

247,000

22

163.68

3

2

0

1,509

N

12517 Sparkleberry Rd.

260,350

4

170.16

3

2

0

1,530

Y

12516 Loquat Way

425,000

6

186.49

4

3

0

2,279

Y

14434 Pepperpine Dr.

289,750

134

157.30

3

2

0

1,842

N

14402 Pepperpine Dr.

354,000

18

196.45

3

2

0

1,802

Y

14823 Coral Berry Dr.

435,000

38

165.65

4

3

0

2,626

Y

Windsor Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11125 Windsor Place Cir.

239,900

37

142.54

2

2

1

1,683

N

Information Provided By Doug and Nancy Wood Of Smith & Associates

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

VMs Address Guidelines, Committee Appointments and Sunshine Motion

The Oct. 9 Westchase Voting Members’ meeting began with a quick vote for the initial approval of the proposed color palette for Building Number Five of the Reserve at West Park Village.

The vote was approved with one dissenting vote from VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges).

The VMs’ next vote was for their first of two required approvals of the Villas of Stonebridge’s front Screen/Storm Door Guideline, an Individual Neighborhood Section Guideline (INSG) exclusively for the Villas of Stonebridge.   Their sub association handles their own painting so they wanted to mandate that all screen/storm doors and frames must be black.  VMs passed the guideline and will consider it a second time in November.

Next up was the appointment of a volunteer to the Variance Committee, which hears appeals of Modification Committee rejections under specific circumstances.  Three people had stepped up to volunteer for the open position.  Jim Wimsatt, who had made an unsuccessful bid for a board position in September, was voted in for the two-year term. 

VMs discussed that Westchase documents currently specify that five people serve on the committee but no alternates.  With two people wanting to volunteer for the role, VM Brian Loudermilk (Keswick Forest) suggested adding two alternates.  This change would require a document change and at this time, the Documents Committee had already gathered all the identified changes.  Association Manager Debbie Sainz said that she would follow up to see if the amendment could be added.   VM Forrest Baumhover (Kingsford) said that there were openings on the Modifications Committee that the candidates could fill as well.

VM Russ Crooks (Bennington) asked about the sunshine motion discussed at the September VM meeting, which, if adopted, would require the association to conduct nearly all of its business at its publicly announced meetings.  Westchase Community Association (WCA) Vice President Rick Goldstein, who chaired the VM meeting in President Ruben Collazo’s absence, said that it was on the agenda to be discussed at Thursday’s WCA Board meeting.  Crooks said he hoped they could expect something at the November VM meeting following that. Goldstein confirmed that the board has been in touch with legal counsel Jon Ellis and he was planning to attend the meeting. 

VMs adjourned at 7:27 p.m. with a reminder to have nominations to Sainz for the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award by Oct. 31.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Oct. 11, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

November’s Ballot: Making Sense of the Constitutional Amendments

It can be intimidating to walk into the ballot box only to encounter a dozen constitutional amendments whose language may be less than user friendly.

But rather than just blind voting or leaving them blank, WOW offers a summary of the amendments and their impact. Voters can go to the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections site, click on My Sample Ballot, print out a copy of the ballot, mark it up as they prefer and bring it to the polls with them. Just visit: https://www.votehillsborough.org

When WOW went to print, the General Election ballot had the possibility of a dozen constitutional amendments. To be approved, each must receive the support of 60 percent of voters statewide.

State constitutional amendments can be placed on the ballot by private groups that collect a required number of signatures; the Florida legislature; and Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years to offer changes to the constitution. Only the CRC may “bundle” topics in amendments. Bundling refers to combining more than one topic in the amendment. Bundling can also trigger some controversy, as some unpopular ideas are occasionally bundled with more popular proposals to enhance their chance of passage. All other amendments from citizen petition or the Florida legislature must only deal with a single topic.

Amendment 1: Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption

Voting for this amendment will take an additional $25,000 off the value of your home (provided it’s worth more than $100,000) when the property appraiser assesses it for taxes. While this represents the opportunity to vote yourself a tax break, it will significantly impact county services. While it won’t affect taxes for schools, it will remove $39 million from Hillsborough County’s government when it is already looking for additional funds for road and transportation improvements. This amendment was placed on the ballot by the Florida legislature.

Amendment 2: Limitations on Property Tax Assessments

Under a constitutional amendment passed in 2008, all non-homesteaded properties currently are protected against increases of more than 10 percent annually in their assessed value. Because most county residents' homes are homesteaded, this amendment won't affect them. The 2008 cap, however, expires in 2019. This amendment, however, makes permanent this 10 percent annual cap, which currently protects commercial property owners, apartment owners and vacation or second homes. (It will not apply, however, if a property is sold or major improvements are made.) If the amendment doesn’t pass, the current 10 percent cap will expire in 2019, meaning that non-homesteaded properties would be subject to the full rise in their assessed value, even if it does jump more than 10 percent in a given year. This amendment was placed on the ballot by the Florida legislature.

Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

Currently if the Florida legislature wanted to expand casino gambling, it could do so by a vote of the Florida legislature or by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot. If this amendment passes, full control over the expansion of casino gambling in Florida (outside of Native American lands and casinos, which fall outside state control) passes to Florida’s citizens. If this amendment passes, if a gambling entity wanted to open a casino in Florida, it would have to collect hundreds of thousands of voters’ signatures to get an amendment on the ballot and then that amendment would have to pass by 60 percent. It essentially makes the expansion of casino gambling in the state harder to accomplish. Note that this amendment does not affect non-casino gambling like that at bingo parlors or the state’s lottery games or casinos on Native American lands. This amendment was placed on the ballot by a citizen petition drive undertaken by a group called Citizens in Charge.

Amendment 4: Voting Restoration Amendment

Florida is only one of four states that permanently bar people who are convicted of felonies from voting. Under rules established by current Gov. Rick Scott, to get their voting rights restored after serving their time in prison, felons have to wait five to seven years and then go through a difficult process to appeal their voting suspension before the governor and his cabinet; if their appeal is rejected, they have to wait another two years. If this amendment passes, the voting rights of felons (except those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses) would be automatically restored once they completed their prison sentences. This amendment was put on the ballot by citizen petition drive undertaken by a group called Floridians for a Fair Democracy.

Amendment 5: Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees

Currently when passing laws regarding taxes or fees, the state legislature simply requires a simple majority vote. This amendment, if passed, would require the legislature to pass bills raising taxes or establishing new taxes or fees by a much higher threshold of two-thirds of both houses of the Florida legislature (67 percent) in stand-alone bills that don’t mix in other items for consideration. This would create a significant impediment to such changes. The proposed amendment does not offer a provision to waive the higher threshold in times of emergency or disaster. This amendment was placed on the ballot by the Florida legislature.

Amendment 6: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges

Whether this amendment would be kicked off the ballot was the subject of a court hearing as WOW prepared this summary. This is one of the amendments that bundles unrelated matters. If it passes it would do three things. It would greatly expand victims’ rights (the amendment language details them), including lifting a current state provision that victims’ rights may not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused. Second, it would raise the mandatory retirement ages for judges from 70 to 75. Last, it would force courts and judges to interpret the law for themselves rather than rely in law interpretations by governmental agencies. This amendment was placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission.

Amendment 7: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities

Another bundled amendment from the Constitution Revision Commission, this pairs a potentially popular idea with one that might not pass muster on its own—then throws in a third idea for good measure. Yet the ideas are unrelated. If passed, the amendment would establish language about the governing structure of the state’s community colleges. Second, it would force university boards that establish fees charged to students to change their voting threshold to raise or impose new fees (fees are separate from tuition) from the current majority requirement across two different boards to a supermajority across two different boards. Third, it takes current state law that creates a death benefit for certain first responders killed in the line of duty, expands the definition of first responders to include paramedics and emergency medical technicians, and enshrines it in the constitution; it, however, also creates a state requirement to pay a death benefit to families of U.S. military veterans who are Florida residents or stationed here and who are killed in the line of duty. (The federal government already pays a death benefit to military families; this state payment would be in addition to that). The amount to be paid would be established by the state legislature.

Amendment 8: School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools

At deadline, this bundled amendment by the Constitutional Revision Commission had been stricken from the ballot by the Florida Supreme Court for deceptive language.

Amendment 9: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in
Enclosed Indoor Workplaces

The title of this Constitutional Revision Commission’s bundled amendment offers a pretty straightforward description of its twofold impact. If passed, it would ban oil and gas exploration and drilling in state waters. These are defined as nine miles off the west and southern coasts and three miles off the east coast. This ban already exists in a state law passed in 1988 but putting it into the constitution makes it harder to change. Note, however, that federally controlled waters extend beyond the state water boundaries and this amendment would not stop drilling there. Second, this amendment would ban the use of vaping devices or e-cigarettes in indoor work places like the 2002 constitutional amendment banned the use of cigarettes in indoor work spaces. (E-cigarettes had not been invented in 2002 and were therefore left out.)

Amendment 10: State and Local Government Structure and Operation

This amendment is also one proposed by the Constitutional Revision Commission and represents multiple changes. The current state constitution requires the Florida legislature to start its annual 60-day session in March in odd numbered years but leaves the legislature to schedule its own start in even numbered years. This amendment would require the legislature to convene on the second Tuesday in January in even numbered years, a reflection of current practice. Second, the amendment would create an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and it mandates that it will support other agencies in investigating and prosecuting acts of terror. Third, while Florida currently has a Department of Veterans' Affairs, its existence under the current constitution is optional. This amendment would make that department permanent. Last, Florida currently has counties that have charters (a kind of county constitution that county voters vote upon) and those that do not. Some of Florida's largest charter counties have local offices like tax collector that are no longer elected offices (their voters approved a county charter that made them appointed positions). This amendment would take away county residents’ ability to decide if these positions should be elected or not by requiring all Florida counties to let voters select the offices of clerk of circuit court, property appraiser, sheriff, supervisor of elections and tax collector. These positions are currently elected positions in Hillsborough County.

Amendment 11: Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal
Statutes

This bundled CRC amendment would do three things if passed. First, it would repeal century old language in the constitution that empowers the state legislature to pass a law that bans non-citizens from buying property in the state. (There is no current limit despite the existence of the constitutional right.) If passed, the legislature could not make such a law. Second, the amendment would require criminals to be prosecuted under the most current version of a law instead of the one in effect on the day the criminal act occurred. So if someone was arrested in December and the trial was held in April after a legislative session that changed the law, they would be prosecuted under the most recent version of the law (except if the law is completely repealed). Third, the amendment removes irrelevant language in the constitution related to high speed transportation associated with an amendment that was repealed in 2004.

Amendment 12: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers

This amendment expands ethics rules by extending the current ban on lobbying by state government employees and previously elected state officials from two to six years after they leave their positions. It also expands the paid lobbying ban to federal and local governments while individuals hold their state positions and applies the ban to more offices, such as the governor’s cabinet, state agency heads and judges. The amendment also bans elected officials and public employees from receiving a “disproportional benefit” for themselves or their families from their position and leaves it to the Florida Commission on Ethics to define “disproportional benefit” and spell out specific penalties. The amendment was proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission.

Amendment 13: Ends Dog Racing

Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission, this amendment would ban wagering on dog racing in Florida by Dec. 31, 2020. It would, however, still permit current greyhound tracks to continue to offer different gambling, such as poker rooms. Florida currently has 12 dog-racing tracks, 66 percent of the nation’s total. A caveat, however. A circuit judge sided with a group of greyhound owners and breeders who sued to stop this amendment, stating it was “misleading and inaccurate.” That ruling has been appealed. If upheld by the Florida Supreme Court, this amendment will not appear on the ballot.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Thanksgiving Food Drive Captains and Matching Contributions Needed

WOW is getting ready for November’s annual food drive and we need volunteers to serve as neighborhood captains.

This year WOW is expanding the drive to Westchester’s neighborhoods and West Hampton, so we need generous volunteers from those neighborhoods.

Last year over 1,335 homes across Westchase, Westwood Lakes, Highland Park, Mandolin and Windsor Place participated, donating 42,125 pounds of food and $752.50 in gift cards, cash and matching contributions. Along with the business turkey match, the drive collected a total of 678 turkeys, feeding hundreds of families for the holidays.

But we need your help to make it a success.

The eleventh annual Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive is Sunday, Nov. 18 – the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Last November more than 150 volunteers, including scores of Scouts and high schoolers needing service hours, collected food throughout Westchase for Metropolitan Ministries. Last year’s Thanksgiving Food Drive also saw generous local businesses matching residents’ contributions.

As part of WOW’s preparations for this great November tradition, we are looking for individuals who will serve as captains for their neighborhoods. We’re especially in need of willing volunteers in Westchester, West Hampton, Westwood Lakes, Highland Park, Mandolin and Windsor Place.

Neighborhood captains help distribute reminder flyers to all the homes in their neighborhoods the weekend prior to the drive (Nov. 11-12). On Sunday, Nov. 18, captains will also drive their neighborhoods with their volunteers to pick up food donations placed out by residents. These donations will then be driven to Westchase Elementary School, where multiple trucks will be loaded to carry the contributions to Metropolitan Ministries.

It’s a fun, wonderful tradition to kick off Thanksgiving week. Interested folks can email WOW Publisher Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com.

We also welcome businesses and residents who are willing to match (in full or in part) residents’ contributions. If you want to get involved as a matcher, please contact Barrett to explore how to become involved in this great and growing tradition, which helps others in significant need.

Don’t miss this opportunity to volunteer with your family and neighbors and see our communities’ generosity in action!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Association Manager Releases Big Ticket List

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) manager’s office has released the Big Ticket List for the Westchase Fall Garage Sale on Saturday, Oct. 6.

The Westchase Garage Sale runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Click here to view the list.

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.

All unsold items can be donated to Goodwill, which will have two donation locations around Westchase from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to accept your donations. Each weekend Goodwill also has trailers at the Primrose School, 12051 Whitmarsh Lane, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

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.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD Supervisors to Explore Locations for New Cell Towers

At the Oct. 2 Westchase CDD meeting, supervisors agreed to explore potential locations for new cell towers to enhance cellular service in Westchase.

Speaking to supervisors was Alan Ruiz of Vertex Communications. Ruiz brought an image of nearby cell towers and their coverage, illustrating that a significant part of the Westchase community—specifically neighborhoods along the Countryway Boulevard corridor—lies outside of the 1.5 mile diameter coverage of the seven closest cell towers.

Ruiz added that the ideal solution to enhance cellular service would be a 150-foot tower located on the property of the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard or Glencliff Park.

Three Glencliff residents attended the meeting with Bill Eddleman carrying a petition from 26 Glencliff homeowners. It requested the district find a workable location for a tower than would enhance coverage. “Most people have a problem with their in-home reception,” Eddleman stated.

Glencliff resident Danielle Riley added that it was nearly impossible for residents to work from home, adding she could neither receive or send no cell calls from inside. She suggested placing the tower in nearby conservation areas.

Ruiz, however, stated that conservation areas, which are environmentally protected lands, were off-limits for towers. Offering an image of Glencliff Park, he stated the ideal location for a tower there was on the eastern side of its northern parking lot between the lot and a conservation area. He stated that while the base of the tower could be camouflaged by a fence or landscaping, a person could throw a ball from the proposed location and hit the closest Glencliff home.

Supervisors expressed concerns that residents would be opposed to a tower in such close proximity, although Eddleman advised, given the lack of cell coverage, that assuming great opposition from the neighborhood might be incorrect. Eddleman acknowledged his Glencliff petition was silent on actual locations.

Ruiz added that 5G service, projected to roll out in the next three years, would allow residents of communities that have it to break free of cable services and simply wirelessly stream all programing and internet service directly into homes. He added, however, that to make it work, carriers would have to be able to place 50-foot towers down major thoroughfares like Linebaugh Avenue and Countryway Boulevard. Yet making these shorter towers operational would require reliable cell service throughout the community, which Westchase currently lacks.

Over the last decade, there have been a few attempts to bring cell towers into the community to enhance service. The earliest, a proposed tower on the Westchase Golf Course land, was taken out of consideration after Harbor Links residents opposed it. More recently, the CDD briefly considered leasing land near the Maureen Gauzza Library for a tower, but supervisors declined to move forward when the offered leasing fee proved low.

Ruiz stated that opposition to towers most commonly arises from both aesthetic concerns and from worries about the impact of the towers’ electro-magnetic waves on the human body. He pointed out that there was no scientific basis for the concern and added that holding a cell phone to your ear creates a greater amount of electromagnetic radiation near your skull than any nearby cell tower does.

Riley, however, suggested that as homeowners have become more dependent on wireless and cellular services, Westchase’s inability to offer reliable coverage would do more damage to home prices in the long run than any nearby tower.

Looking at the coverage map offered by Ruiz, Supervisor Brian Ross stated, “It seems like we need two towers, one at Glencliff Park and one at the library.”

Ross added that community cellular service could be enhanced by offering another, shorter tower in the back of Brentford.

“I would like to see state of the art service for Westchase,” said Supervisor Barbara Griffith.

Supervisors ultimately tasked staff with identifying possible locations for towers for review and discussion at a CDD workshop at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Maureen Gauzza Library.

With Ruiz’s departure, supervisors reviewed an initial version of a layered, digital map prepared by the district’s engineering company, aimed at tracking work history on various CDD owned parcels and ponds. While initially seen as being available community-wide, the licensing fee provides for only 10 users with each additional user costing $100 per year. Thus, the map will likely be used for only in-house purposes.

Supervisors, however, were very happy with its initial rollout and expressed interest in seeing additional layers added to the map. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Griffith.

Supervisor Matthew Lewis, who worked with Stantec staff to develop it, said he was quite impressed with the two individuals with whom he worked.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall of Inframark stated that staff reviews had been concluded and he requested the board’s consideration of staff bonuses for this year and staff salaries for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Stating that Field Manager Doug Mays and Office Manager Sonny Whyte were compensated at high levels of current market standards, Supervisor Greg Chesney suggested a CPI increase of two percent but stated he supported five percent increases for lower staff members Livan Soto and Christian Guaba. He added a recommendation for a five percent performance bonus for FY 2018, which concluded Sept. 30. Supervisors passed Chesney’s motion 4-1, with Supervisor Griffith opposed. Griffith stated she supported a 2.5 percent increase for Mays and Whyte.

Supervisors then approved a holiday bonus of $1,250 for Mays and Whyte and $500 for Soto and Guaba, 4-1, with Griffith again opposed. She stated she was opposed to holiday bonuses and felt that the compensation should instead be reflected in performance bonuses. “To write a check just because it’s the holiday is not the right thing to do,” she said.

Making his field manager’s report, Mays stated he attempts to weigh the best approaches to the trimming of oleander hedges behind homes on Montague Street in The Bridges and Gretna Green Drive in The Fords. He also factors in resident feedback on the timing and frequency of cutbacks. “It’s tough to make everyone happy,” said Mays. “My plan is to cut them back after the holidays,”

Mays stated, however, that he was bringing a Bridges resident’s request that the hedges be trimmed back now.

Supervisor Ross stated that this was not an example of work being missed and he thought it would not be appropriate for the board to weigh in an overrule the informed opinions of its professional staff regarding landscaping. “I don’t ever see that becoming a board function,” he stated. “Board members should stay out of that.”

Supervisor Jim Mills agreed. “Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Please keep doing what you’re doing,” he said.

During supervisors’ comments, Supervisor Lewis thanked staff for getting additional bids for pond bank erosion repair. While observing the additional quote, using a different approach to repairs than that recently implemented by more expensive BioMass, was a good deal lower, he stated he recently discovered that a pond bank repair in his neighborhood, previously fixed using the less expensive approach, was already showing signs of renewed erosion.

Asked if there were any updates on the potential district purchase of the Westchase Golf Course, Supervisor Greg Chesney, charged with handling negotiations, said that owner Nick Neubauer recently reached out to him and requested a lunch meeting in the second week of October. Supervisor Ross asked Chesney to explore with Neubauer if he had any reasons for negotiations over the deal lapsing. “I’m just totally unclear as to what happened,” said Ross.

Chesney committed to returning with a report of the meeting.

Closing major action, supervisors approved a motion to build a Greendale entrance monument at a cost not to exceed $40,000, taken from the current Greens neighborhood’s reserve surplus. Supervisor Jim Mills, acknowledging he is a Greendale resident, stated he had proposed the project because Greendale is the only Westchase subdivision without its own entrance monument.

In other actions:

Supervisors approved their meeting schedule for FY 2018, adding workshops on Tuesdays two weeks prior to regularly scheduled meetings. These workshops will only be held as needed at 4 p.m. at the Maureen Gauzza Library. Regular CDD meetings at which the board conducts official business are held on the first Tuesdays of each month at 4 p.m. at the WCA offices on Parley Drive. Meetings in July and September are often held on the second Tuesdays of the month due to Labor Day and Independence Day.

Supervisors took no action on a request by their landscaper, Davey, for reimbursement for a $3,000 increase in annuals for Westchase flowerbeds. Earlier this year, Davey had agreed to extend its contract with the district for an additional year at the existing contract price.

Citing the fact that they did not hear back regarding the request, supervisors took no action on a MOMS Club member’s request to install a fence around the West Park Village actuating fountain.

Addressing an inquiry by Supervisor Brian Ross about recent flooding at Glencliff Park, Field Manager Mays stated that the porous subsurface of the playground became saturated by recent rains and staff purchased an additional sump pump to remove excess water. Addressing residents’ social media complaints about the park equipment, Ross and Mays reminded those present that proposed park equipment had been published in WOW to for resident feedback before its installation. Ross added that the recent redesign of parks was purposefully done to offer different types of equipment at the different parks to attract different age groups to each.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated a planned sliding board at Glencliff Park was delayed due to a fire at the slide’s manufacturing facility.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Oct. 4, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Education Referendum Town Hall Brings School Superintendent to Westchase

Wednesday, Oct. 3, found Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins laying out the district’s financial justification for placing a half cent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The town hall meeting at the Westchase Recreation Center was one of number scheduled across the district in recent weeks. Eakins spoke for about an hour to about 70 residents in the presence of about two dozen school administrators and Northwest Hillsborough school principals. He then spent about twenty minutes fielding questions from those present.

If approved, the half-cent sales tax referendum would increase Hillsborough County sales taxes by a half penny on each dollar spent over the next ten years. It would not, however, apply to food or medicine and would not apply to amounts above $5,000 when making major purchases. Eakins estimated it would cost the average Hillsborough County family, making just under $52,000 annually, $63 per year.

Eakins began by stating that Florida spends $4,000 less per student than the national average. Once ranked 27th in pupil spending, Florida’s legislature has let the state’s number drop to 41th in the country.

Eakins broke current district spending into operating and capital buckets while presenting a history of district funding sources, borrowing and spending that has produced the need for the referendum. The most recent challenge the district has faced has been resolving a $126 million annual deficit. He stated the district has helped balance its budget this year by eliminating 1,900 staff positions since 2015, nearly all through retirements and attrition, and looking for savings in areas like energy and busing. He stated administrators represent just one percent of the district’s employees. Eighty-six percent of the district’s $3 billion annual budget goes toward staff and salary costs and benefits, making cutting the budget difficult. “That’s been a huge challenge. We don’t want to undermine the education of our students in any way,” he said.

Financial Challenges

Eakins said the current district’s financial shortfalls in maintenance trace back to the 1990s, when Hillsborough’s explosive growth produced a need for 70 new schools, including Westchase Elementary, Mary Bryant, Deer Park as well as middle and high schools in the area. Faced with massive construction costs, the district placed a tax referendum on the ballot back then that failed. That left the district with the sole option of issuing bonds – borrowing the money – to build the needed schools. “We’re still paying that off to this day,” Eakins said, stating the bonds, representing $1 billion in debt, will be repaid in ten years.

Of the district’s originally budgeted $170 million annually for capital items and repairs, $65 million of it annually has to be diverted to make debt payments on these bonds.

Eakins stated the Great Recession had a second significant impact. Faced with plummeting tax revenues, the Florida legislature took funds originally raised for local schools from a half millage point on local property taxes and redirected those funds into state coffers. The cut represented an additional $35 million annually for Hillsborough County. The cut, he added, was never returned to state funding of public education.

With the original $170 million capital budget to replace and repair items like roofs and AC units now cut to $65 million annually, the district had only one solution. “You start deferring maintenance every year.”

Funds from the state lottery, Eakins added, have minimal impact. Those funds represent 0.3 percent of the district’s budget.

Now, he stated, the district faces an additional challenge: Hillsborough County is again growing quickly, yet the district cannot afford to build the estimated 38 new schools that will be needed over the next 15 years. “We can’t bond or borrow more money to solve the problem,” he said.

Current District Needs

Eakins stated the district currently faces $1 billion in debt from 1990s construction, $1 billion in deferred maintenance (the primary reason AC units are repeatedly breaking in local schools), and $1 billion for new school construction. Some of the building needs will be addressed by impact fees paid by developers – $4,000 per home. The amounts, however, still fall short of construction costs.

Eakins emphasized that many other Florida school districts have faced the same financial crunch. Stating many county districts have placed tax referendums on the ballot in the last two to three years, he added, “All the counties that have gone out to referendum recently have passed. “

Eakins stated Polk County benefits from a half cent sales tax, Pasco from just under a half cent, Pinellas from an additional half millage point on property taxes and Manatee from a half cent sales tax and a full millage point on property taxes. In contrast, Hillsborough currently benefits from one-eighth of a cent of sales tax, a small portion of the sales tax increase passed to fund the construction of Raymond James stadium. That money has already been committed.

Despite the fiscal shortcomings, Eakins stated Hillsborough taxpayers get a great return on investment. Based on scores from the State of Florida School Accountability Report, Hillsborough outperforms all those districts. Despite having greater diversity and greater amounts of poverty, Hillsborough has a score of 649 while Manatee has 641, Pinellas 635, Pasco 629 and Polk 595. Eakins credited the district’s hard working teachers with the results. “If we get that return for our current investment, imagine what we could do,” he said.

Eakins cited similarly sized Orange County, near Orlando, as Tampa’s primary economic competitor. Orange benefits from a half cent and a full millage point, offering that district $373 million in capital funding compared to Hillsborough’s $32 million from the one-eighth cent. Orange’s state score was 650. Hillsborough’s current funding levels, leading to AC issues and other deferred maintenance, could lead new businesses, concerned about employees’ families, to look elsewhere to relocate. “When you compare the two budgets, we’re going to lose the competitive edge,” said Eakins.

What Will Referendum Funds Cover?

If the referendum passes, Eakins said, it will provide an additional $131 million per year, which will be designated for AC repairs and replacement, renovations, maintenance, security and technology. The district released a list of 1,785 projects that will be funded across all schools, with a minimum of $500,000 spent per school. Needing new AC units, most Northwest schools, however, will see spending between $2-4 million each.  Over 10 years, 203 AC units will be replaced, 63 roofs will be redone, $25 million will be spent on new technology for classrooms and $23 million on safety and security enhancements. The referendum will also fund the equivalent of four new schools.

Overseeing the spending, said Eakins, will be a Citizens Oversight Committee, consisting of local leaders who aren’t part of the school board or its administration. Chaired by Betty Castor, the committee will have Sheriff Chad Chronister as its vice chair. Rounding out membership are Bonnie Carr, Earl Lennard, Ed Narain, Jose Valiente and a district leader to be determined. That committee will review all planned spending and will have to approve it before it goes before the school board for approval.

Eakins closed by fielding questions. Among them was a question about whether charter schools would have access to referendum funds. Eakins stated that only charters that own their buildings (rather than rent them) and which have deferred maintenance needs would be able to use the funds. He added that of the district’s roughly 50 charters, only five own their buildings.

Asked why the referendum would terminate the sales tax increase after 10 years, Eakins explained the district chose that timeframe so the tax increase would expire with the current bond payments covering 1990s’ school construction.

Asked what the district would do if the referendum fails, Eakins emphasized that further borrowing was not a realistic option. He added the district would continue to see deferred maintenance.

Eakins added that some referendum critics argue that the growing number of homes and home values in the county will increase property taxes, offering the district more than enough future revenue to meet its needs without seeking an increase. Eakins, however, stated the state legislature annually reduces the millage levels designated for school funding to offset these increases, keeping actual dollar amounts roughly the same. “School districts cannot capitalize on that growth,” he stated.

Eakins closed by reminding those present that the education referendum will appear as the last item on voters’ lengthy ballots.

All the town hall and referendum information is available on the Hillsborough School District’s website at http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us

By Christopher Barrett, Publisher

Posted Oct. 4, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Reclaimed Water System Affected by Low Pressure

If your lawn sprinklers aren’t working, don’t call the repairman! With many Westchase folks reporting sprinkler outages, CDD staff reached out to Hillsborough County Water Department and determined the problem is not with homeowners' sprinkler systems.

The reclaimed water facility staff reported that reclaimed water pressures in Westchase have dropped dramatically, affecting the ability of sprinklers to work. While reclaimed lines normally have 60 psi of water pressure, this morning pressures had fallen to five psi. The cause is currently unknown.

According to CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte, the county water department hopes to resolve the issue by later today or early tomorrow, Oct. 5.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase School Board Candidate Forum Highlights Candidates’ Similarities

In contrast to the division commonly seen in America’s political landscape, the Oct. 2 School Board Forum in Westchase proved an example of candidates’ courtesy and respect for each other.

Attended by District 1 candidates Steve Cona and Bill Person, the forum saw the two candidates far more frequently agreeing with each other’s viewpoints than disagreeing.

The event, originally announced as an opportunity to meet the District 1 candidates and District 6 candidates Karen Perez and Henry “Shake” Washington, did not see Perez or Washington appear.
The floor was instead left to Person and Cona.

Both candidates emphasized the need to reprioritize the district’s current spending. Cona observed the district’s current $3 billion annual budget was enough to purchase all three professional sports teams in Tampa Bay.  He cited the district’s current $1 billion in deferred maintenance needs, $1 billion in existing debt to build previous schools and $1 billion that was needed to build more schools. “Yes, the schools need money,” Cona said, but the district, he added, would not successfully solve its problems without examining and reprioritizing its spending.

Person agreed, criticizing the existing Hillsborough School Board members for approving $1.8 million in improvements to their own offices while schools’ air conditioning units went unreplaced and courtesy busing was slashed to save money.

Cona particularly criticized the school board for budgeting the same amount in maintenance, $26 million, that they budgeted 10 years ago. He stated he believed significant savings could be won by outsourcing HVAC maintenance to private companies rather than relying on district employees to do the work. He called current problems with non-functioning air conditioners inexcusable and stated it was occurring because current school board members were not demanding accountability on the issue.

Citing dangerous conditions outside of Northwest schools, Person stated the district administration should have first cut administrative positions and programs, even sports programs if need be, rather than place student safety second by cutting courtesy busing. “Kids are getting hurt,” he said. “They are walking down dangerous intersections.”

Both candidates cited a bloated, overpaid administration as a source for potential cuts. Both also criticized the existing school board for not overseeing administrators rigorously enough. Citing issues with transportation, Cona observed that, if elected, he would set clear performance expectations and, if they were not met, the administrators would lose their jobs.

Person placed blame for financial woes at the previous superintendent’s decision not to cut any personnel at the start of the Great Recession. He placed blame for the current poor performance of some administrators at the feet of the school board members. “We need to get the board straightened out and then we can straighten the administration out,” he said.

If elected, Cona committed to not using the downtown school board offices and not getting coopted by the school administration.  Stating he’d ask tough questions of school district administration, he added, “I will never be part of the administration.”

Both candidates also agreed that the school board had to do a better job lobbying the state legislature in Tallahassee for additional school funding. Emphasizing his success with winning greater funding for Hillsborough Community College, on whose board he currently sits, Cona said it was because legislators could clearly sees HCC’s spending patterns and respected the school’s priorities. 

Both candidates also committed to returning courtesy busing in order to address safety concerns. Person added that the current problems with late buses might have been avoided had the district first focused on the more pressing issues of air conditioning maintenance before changing school start times and bell schedules.

Both candidates also agreed, if elected, to ensure the district posts clearer school district financial reports on the district’s web site for greater transparency. Cona said the financials weren’t currently there because district officials didn’t want people to know how they spent money. Person even suggested that district staff was using budget lines for construction projects to hide funds in order to keep salary demands from the teachers’ union in check.

Both candidates additionally criticized the failure of existing school board members to attend local school events like PTA meetings.

Both candidates also stated they planned only to serve a maximum of six years, which includes the two years remaining in the term of Susan Valdes, who currently holds the seat and one additional four-year term, if reelected.

Both agreed that the district should have done a national search for school superintendent when the last superintendent was fired.

Both candidates also indicated they would personally vote in favor of the half-cent sales tax school referendum on November’s ballot. (Cona previously indicated to WOW that he was neutral on the referendum.)

Both agreed that teachers’ salaries had to be increased, at least to the national average. “There’s no reason any teacher should make less than $50,000 a year,” said Cona.

With both candidates agreeing on most issues, WOW’s reporter asked them to delineate some ways in which they differed to assist voters who were having trouble making a choice.

In response, they emphasized their backgrounds, with Person discussing his past military service in the Air Force and work as a teacher and principal. Person also emphasized he is retired, allowing him to treat the position, if elected as full-time, in contrast to Cona, who he stated would also strive to keep his current private sector work. “Steve has a lot on his plate,” he said.

Cona emphasized his private sector experience as allowing him to bring a business oriented approach to board leadership, which he emphasized has been lacking. He stated he could do his school board work off-hours. He also emphasized his oversight of HCC, which he stated offered more Hillaborough high schoolers the chance to concurrently graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree than any other community college in the state. “I know what oversight means,” he said. If elected, Cona also committed to resigning from the HCC Board. “That will free up a lot of my time,” he said.

Person also stated another area where they differed was on charters and vouchers. Touting them as a significant financial drain on the district, Person stated they represented a threat to a free, quality public education. Cona, however, cautioned that the district was limited in what it could do since the state legislature created a mandate for all districts to permit charters. Person countered, however, that some districts have proven far more charter friendly than others. “Pinellas has 18 charters,” he said. “We have 49.”

Cona and Person closed the forum in agreement once again. An agitated father complained about the proposed tax referendum when the district wasn’t managing AC maintenance and bus schedules adequately. “Why are they asking for more money and supervisors aren’t fired?” he charged.

“That’s why we’re both running,” Cona responded.

The election for the school board, which is non-partisan, will occur during the Nov. 6 general election. Early voting at various locations, including the Maureen Gauzza Public Library, begins Oct. 22.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

The General Election: How to Register and Vote

Each Election Day scores of Westchase and Northwest voters wind up going to the wrong sites to vote. How can you avoid a last minute, unexpected detour?

While you can vote a number of different ways in Hillsborough County, you first need to be registered. And if you haven’t voted in a number of elections, you may have to register again. 

Registering to vote is easy. You can do it online with a social security number and driver’s license. You must, however, register by Oct. 9. Just visit the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections office at http://www.votehillsborough.org If yo.u’re unsure if you’re registered to vote, simply click on the link for “Register” and you’ll find a link on the page to check your registration status.

Once registered, you can request an absentee or mail ballot by Oct. 31. You can fill this ballot in at home and mail it back by election days, Nov. 6.

You can also take advantage of in-person early voting.

Where should you vote? Early voting (Oct. 22-Nov. 4) has specific locations, with the closest to the Westchase area being the Maureen B. Gauzza Library. But if you’re voting on the day of the Nov. 6 primary election, you need to go to your specific precinct. You can’t just show up at the library if you’ve voted there before. Check first to see if it’s your specific, assigned precinct on election day.

On election day, if you live in Westchase within The Fords and The Greens and all villages east of there, you vote in Precinct 500, at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. If you live in Radcliffe, Saville Rowe, and Harbor Links/The Estates and Westchase villages off Countryway Boulevard, you vote at Precinct 508 at the Maureen G. Gauzza Library. (On Election Day itself, only these folks can vote at the library.)

If you live in Windsor Place, Mandolin, Westchester or Highland Park, on election day you vote at Precinct 506, located at Bay Hope Church at 10701 Sheldon Rd. Residents of Westwood Lakes and West Hampton cast ballots at Precinct 527, in the Bayanihan Center’s Philippine Art and Cultural Foundation, 14301 Nine Eagles Dr.

Visit http://www.votehillsborough.org for more detailed information and to see your sample ballot.

Important Election Dates

2018 Elections

Registration Deadlines

Mail Ballot Request Deadline

Early Voting

Election Day

General Election

Oct. 9

Oct. 31

Oct. 22-Nov. 4

Nov. 6

 

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Making Sense of School Options in Our Area

Today parents searching for the ideal educational fit for their child are faced with numerous choices.

Not only are private schools varied and plentiful, new programs within the public school system also offer exciting new educational opportunities. Navigating the choices can be daunting. Below, we offer an overview of a number of the options available in our area.

Private Schools

Private schools function autonomously, generating their own funding through various sources like student tuition, private grants and endowments. Private schools vary tremendously in size and focus. According to the 2013-14 Private School Universe Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, 68 percent of all private schools have a religious affiliation.

There are many reasons why parents turn to private school. Some are looking for a faith-based education. Others may seek out private education for the smaller class sizes, a sense of community, openness to parental involvement or rigorous academic standards. Families may choose to enroll their children in private school from day one or transition into private school at the middle or high school level.

The key is finding the school that meets your child’s educational and emotional needs, as well as the needs of the family as a whole. A great place to start is with the school’s mission statement. The mission statement tells what the school stands for and what they expect from their students. A school can have an impeccable reputation, with test scores and college acceptance rates that are off the charts, but if that school’s mission is not in keeping with a family’s values, chances are it will not be a good match.

Once the playing field has been narrowed, it is essential to visit potential schools. Depending on the schools in question, there may be several options for visiting – from an open house to a private tour to a shadow day where the prospective student attends a day attending the school to get a feel for the environment.

Cost will inevitably be a deciding factor when choosing a private school. Getting answers to questions regarding tuition and payment plans up front will help avoid disappointment down the road. Parents should also inquire as to any additional costs that are not included in the tuition. Yet if a school seems out of reach initially, parents should not rule it out right away. Many schools have financial aid available—never be afraid to ask.

Transportation: Transportation options vary by school and may be unavailable at some schools.

Application process: Private schools are not required to accept all applicants and admission to some schools can be highly competitive. The application timeline and process vary. Check with individual schools of interest for important dates and application requirements.

For More Information: The Open House Guide located in this issue of the WOW is a great place to start. It lists information and upcoming open house dates for some of the top private schools in the area. Private School Review (http://www.privateschoolreview.com/town_schools/stateid/FL/townid/1417) offers a listing of more than 100 private schools in the Tampa Bay.

Attendance Area Schools

Attendance area schools are those set by the Hillsborough County School Board based on a student’s residential address. Because these schools cannot deny admission to any child within the residential school zone, they are designed to meet the needs of a broad student population. In turn, at the middle and high school level, they generally offer a wide range of extracurricular and athletic programs to cater to a diverse student body.

Westchase and the surrounding Northwest neighborhoods are zoned for top-quality schools across all grade levels. Zoned schools in our area include: Westchase, Lowry, Mary Bryant and Deer Park elementary schools; Davidsen and Farnell middle schools and Alonso and Sickles high schools. Parents can visit http://gis.sdhc.k12.fl.us/schoollocator/ to determine the specific schools their children are zoned for based on the home address.

Transportation: Transportation is provided to all attendance area schools; however, students who live less than 2 miles from a school are not eligible for transportation.

How to Apply: Families do not need to complete an application for their children to attend or remain at their attendance area school; they simply need to register when the child is first entering school. Contact the specific attendance area school for registration information.

School Choice

The School Choice program offers parents and guardians of children entering kindergarten through 11th grade the option of applying to up to three non-magnet schools or Career and Technical Education (CTE) attractor schools outside their attendance area. Relatively new to the educational mix, CTE attractors schools are focused academies where the education consists of courses and projects that flow from the school’s main emphasis—from bio-engineering to finance to film production.

Transportation: Transportation may be limited or unavailable in some areas. For more information visit https://edconnect.sdhc.k12.fl.us/GisUtils/Transportation.faces

.

Application Process: The application for school choice for currently enrolled K-4th grade students and all students applying to middle and high school begins Oct. 26, 2018 at noon and ends Dec. 31, 2018. Families will be notified in mid-February. These students can apply online at http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/departments/95/hillsborough-choice-options A lis.t of eligible schools appears directly on the school choice application. (Note: students new to Hillsborough County Public Schools are required to complete a paper application).

For More Information: Visit http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/list/hillsborough-choice-options or call the (813) 272-4692.

Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are public elementary, middle and high schools that offer a theme-based curriculum. While magnet schools are based on a specific theme, students study a complete range of subjects with a focus on hands-on learning that is inquiry and performance based. Hillsborough County Public Schools magnet philosophy maintains that magnet schools “connect kids to the real world.”

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and IB (International Baccalaureate) programs are particularly popular among Westchase and Northwest families who choose the magnet route. However, there are numerous magnet opportunities that appeal to a wide range of interests, including animal science, architecture, performing arts, environmental studies and many more. 

Transportation: Transportation is available for most magnet schools. In some areas, transportation may be limited. For more information visit https://edconnect.sdhc.k12.fl.us/GisUtils/Transportation.faces

.

Application Process: The application period for students currently enrolled in K-4th grade and all students applying to middle and high school begins Oct. 26, 2018 at noon and ends Dec. 31, 2018. Families will be notified in mid-February. These students can apply online at http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/departments/95/hillsborough-choice-options (Note.: students new to Hillsborough County Public Schools or coming from private school are required to complete a paper application).

Students may apply to the magnet schools of their choice with the exception of IB schools, which are dictated by the student’s address. Our assigned IB programs are as follows: McFarlane Park Elementary, Walker Middle Magnet and Robinson High School. Homes north of Race Track Road attend Hillsborough High’s IB program.

Selection for elementary or middle magnet schools is done by computer lottery. Applications for all high school magnet programs are evaluated on a competitive basis.

For More Information: Visit http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/list/hillsborough-choice-options or call the (813) 272-4692.

Parent information nights that cover both school choice and magnet options for prospective elementary, middle and high school students will be held Nov. 2 at Jefferson High School and again Nov. 13 at Tampa Bay Tech. Both sessions will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. In addition, parents and prospective students can attend an interactive information session at the Florida State Fairgrounds Nov. 2. Tentative times are 3-7 p.m. Visit http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/613/choice-dates closer to the event date to confirm location and time.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools of choice that operate under a performance contract, or “charter,” which affords the school more flexibility in its operations than is typically granted to a traditional public school. Charter schools are public in the sense that they are funded through the Florida Education Finance Program in the same manner that district schools are funded. They are also required to provide a curriculum that meets the Sunshine State Standards and are accountable to the school district in which they reside.

Unlike a traditional public school or magnet program, however, they are not managed by the school district. Charter schools hire their own teachers, design their own curriculum and manage their own finances. Furthermore, while charter schools in Florida are required to hire certified teachers, they are not required to be unionized. This allows for more freedom to hire and remove teachers as the school sees fit.

There are currently 50 charter schools within Hillsborough County, with areas of study that range from performing arts to technology to health sciences.

Transportation: Transportation to a charter school cannot be a barrier for enrollment or attendance. To find out about transportation arrangements for a charter school, contact the school directly.

Application Process: Charter schools must open their enrollment to all students in the district. Enrollment periods vary and each charter school has its own process that is approved through the school’s board. To find out about a specific school's process, contact the school directly.

For More Information: A complete list of Charter Schools, including contact information, is available at http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/955/charter-schools/parents-and-students/charter-schoollistdb/

.

Virtual Schools

Advances in online education have made virtual schools a mainstream choice for today’s students. “Online courses offer students and families an option to create an education plan that is focused on an individual student's needs. District virtual programs offer families the best of both worlds: cutting edge curriculum that meets state standards, supported by highly qualified local teachers, in a flexible, personalized setting. Students are no longer limited by schedule conflicts, course selections at a local school, class size caps, or even bell schedules and seat time,” stated JoAnne Glenn, principal at Pasco eSchool.
 
Hillsborough Virtual School (HVS) is a school choice option for students entering grades K‐12. HVS students are taught by Hillsborough County teachers for each online class. “Virtual students will need to have reliable internet, telephone and email access. Families considering online courses should be comfortable using the computer and internet to complete assignments, research and projects, and also be comfortable using email and telephone communication as a primary means for teacher-student and parent-teacher communication,” Glenn added.

Students can also take advantage of co-enrollment through HVS, in which students enrolled in full-time public or private school take online classes during or in addition to their school day. Class selection and registration is handled by the guidance counselor at the student’s physical school.

Families who wish to home school and file a “Letter of Intent to Home Educate” may use HVS to fulfill curriculum needs.

According to Glenn, other online options to consider include the following: state virtual school programs (Florida Virtual School), virtual charter schools (where available) and virtual programs operated by other school districts.
Application Process: For HVS, the application window for full‐time enrollment is May through August for first semester start and again October through early January for second semester start. There are no eligibility requirements for students entering grades K‐5; however, students entering grades 6‐12 full‐time must meet one of the following eligibility requirements: prior year in a Florida public school; sibling of virtual student enrolled in current and end of previous year; military dependents who moved to Florida in past year; or, student enrolled in a district virtual, charter or Florida Virtual School (FLVS) program.

For more Information: For HVS, visit http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/list/virtual-instruction-programs or call (813) 983-7278. For Florida Virtual school, visit https://flvs.net/.  For more on virtual education throughout Florida, visit http://www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/virtual-edu/
. Decisions regarding a child’s education, particularly at the middle and high school level, can leave parents reeling. It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all option. With so many great options in our area, it really is hard to go wrong.

By Karen Ring

WOW Education Summaries

WOW thanks the following schools for helping to bring you our Education Special.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The business listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with WOW’s Education Special. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the businesses and ask all relevant questions prior to enrolling.

Berkeley Preparatory School
(813) 885-1673

An independent, Episcopal day school for boys and girls in Pre-K to Grade 12 dedicated to putting people in the world who make a positive difference. Learn more at http://www.berkeleyprep.org
.  
Cambridge Christian School
(813) 872-6744

Cambridge Christian School has served Tampa for over 53 years! Strong foundations, Biblical worldview, and a sense of community result in an exceptional academic experience.

Carrollwood Day School
(813) 920-2288

Carrollwood Day School is the first IB World School in Florida fully authorized to offer the complete continuum of IB programs from preschool through upper school. Visit CDS at http://www.carrollwooddayschool.org
.
Corbett Preparatory School of IDS
(813) 961-3087

An extraordinary environment for learning in Tampa since 1968. International Baccalaureate Programme for all students in PreK3-8th grade. Visit us at  http://www.corbettprep.com

.

Kids ‘R’ Kids
(813) 926-5437

Kids R Kids Learning Academy, opened since 1999, provides care for infants through Pre-K and after-school children.

Primavera Preschool
(813) 855-6718

Primavera Preschool is a private, family-owned business that strives for excellence in early childhood education along with their exclusive infant care. Experience the difference...

Rainbow Garden Preschool
(727) 799-2700

The Rainbow Garden is a long-established Christian preschool providing a well-balanced curriculum that develops a strong foundation for reading, writing, science and math skills and includes art and music.

Tampa Preparatory School
(813) 251-8481

Our innovative teaching methods and active learning environments have been inspiring future business, cultural and civic leaders since 1974. Join us for Open House! http://www.tampaprep.org/admissions/oh
.
Westlake Christian School
(727) 781-3808

Westlake Christian School’s college preparatory learning environment is accredited by the Florida Kindergarten Council, the Florida Council of Independent Schools, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/AdvancED.

The Goddard School
(813) 926-9820

For 30 years, The Goddard School has been a trusted name among families. Its classrooms are safe, nurturing environments for children six weeks to six years.

Montessori House Day School
(813) 884-7220

Authentic Montessori education in Tampa's only American Montessori Society accredited school.  Schedule a tour to learn about our individualized curriculum and child-centered, nurturing classrooms.

KidsPark Oldsmar
(727) 210-5958

KidsPark provides hourly daycare. Pay only for time used. Our centers are fully licensed. Our open "no walls" floor plan allows continuous teacher observation.

Smart Start Pre-Prep
(813) 855-7333

Smart Start Pre-Prep is celebrating 25 years of early childhood education. Our programs include meals and fun weekly educational themes for ages 6 weeks to 12 years.

Westchase Music School
(813) 925-0102

Join us at Westchase Music School! Tampa’s premiere school where hundreds of children come each week to study music in a fun and professional environment!  WestchaseMusicSchool.com

Tampa Day School
(813) 269-2100, Ext. 306

Since 1970, our unique educational approach and specialized tutoring have empowered students with Dyslexia, ADHD, and anxiety to succeed in school and in life. Visit us at http://www.tampadayschool.com

.

April Reinhart – French Tutor
(813) 855-5612

Teacher with a bachelor's degree in French education providing private tutoring services for ages 5 to adult for private, public and homeschool students. Email madamereinhart@gmail.com.

Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science
813-793-6085

Accredited public charter school for Grades K-8. Offering the Cambridge Program and a balanced curriculum with enrichment in science, technology, engineering, arts and math education. http://www.hillsboroughacademy.com

.

Avant Garde Academy Westchase
(813) 551-2144

It's not too late to enroll your students in Grades K-7.  http://www.agawestchase.org.  Come see why our families choose us!

Arts and Smarts, Inc
(813) 991-4128

Arts and Smarts, Inc. is your neighborhood source for personalized tutoring, delivered by tutors with a wealth of teaching experience, specialized training and subject expertise.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW’s Promise to You

In a typical WOW, this spot is used to highlight features in this month’s edition.

It hasn’t been a typical few weeks.

It’s been a heated, emotional few weeks. The Westchase Swim Coach was fired, triggering an angry meeting between the WCA and parents. The WCA Board declined to discuss letting the Westchase Charitable Foundation return to Westchase courts for a tennis tournament under last year’s director. Meanwhile, board disagreements broke into the open when WCA Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock put a call out on Westchase Neighborhood News for change on the eve of board elections. She called for residents to run in the Sept. 11 board elections, which saw dozens of Westchase residents show up for the first time in many years.

Amid all the tumult—and with accusations flying that WCA board members were regularly discussing and conducting association business outside of their public meetings—I sent Westchase Voting Members and the board an email. It called for the adoption of a sunshine rule to ensure Westchase residents can watch the board properly conduct its business at its public meetings. I believe operating in the sunshine would have helped prevent all these issues. It also happens to be something I have repeatedly attempted to raise at board elections for the last seven years.

For some, it didn’t go over well.

At the Sept. 11 board elections, an outgoing WCA director was given the floor before balloting. He publicly—and unfairly—accused WOW of improper behavior. He publicly criticized Wait-Woodcock and the WCF’s tennis tournament director. The decision to let him speak was completely outside the previously adopted election rules.

In my 17 years of following the association, it marked a true low point.

It was also disheartening to hear a VM and an association volunteer scold the dozens of residents who took the time to attend the meeting to share their frustration. In one case, the residents were told that if they weren’t volunteering, they should be quiet. Meanwhile, as this WOW goes to print, another WCA Director is wrestling with resigning from the board over its divisions. I’ve also been personally warned that my call for the sunshine motion potentially puts my job as WOW Publisher at risk.

Because the WCA Board ultimately decides who sits on the WOW board, which makes staff decisions for WOW.

Westchase deserves better. Fortunately, the Westchase association is filled with lots of great volunteers, including two new board members whom I hope help change the current board’s culture.

In the meantime, WOW will strive to keep you informed. And I personally will continue advocating for a sunshine rule so that the business of YOUR association is done in public. If the Westchase CDD can do it, so can the WCA. 

And, yes, humble, good people, with a desire to serve others before themselves, need to get more involved. It’s what has always made Westchase strong.

As the saying goes, we must strive to be the change we wish to see.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Movies in the Park Return

Movies in The Park are up and running again starting October 12 on the Montague Street green in West Park Village.

Movies are scheduled for every second Friday of the month through March 2019. For a list of the movies, please visit http://www.westchasewca.com They .all begin at 7 p.m. Popcorn and bottled water will be available to attendees at no cost.

The Village pool will go on its part-time, seasonal hours starting November, depending on weather conditions. Those hours will be Monday-Friday, 3-8 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 10  a.m.-8 p.m. The Village courts will remain on their current schedule.

Our community resource office, Deputy Hugh Alter, informed us that there has been a recent increase in Westchase car break-ins due to an increasing number of residents leaving their vehicles unlocked. It is imperative that everyone double checks vehicles to make sure all doors are locked prior to entering your home. 

On Sept. 6 the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board approved the 2019 budget. The $274 annual assessment is due Jan. 1. Coupons will be mailed in November; if you do not receive one by December, please contact our office. Failure to make payment in January results in a late fee of an additional $25.

Several neighborhoods will soon host their voting member (VM) elections.  The voting member is your neighborhood representative, casting votes on your behalf. If you wish to run for VM and have your name added to the proxy card, you must email our office with your name and address no later than Oct. 15. We will mail the self-addressed, stamped proxy cards out by Nov. 1; please return them no later than Nov. 30. Those neighborhoods holding elections will have meetings scheduled for December. Please don’t forget to sign your proxy card before mailing it.

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

The Great West Chase Returns Oct. 27

On your marks!

It’s time to lace up your shoes and join the fun as The Great West Chase’s 5K, 10K and Children’s Fun Run return to West Park Village on Saturday, Oct. 27. The 10K starts at 7 a.m.; the 5K kicks off at 8 a.m. and the Children’s Fun Run takes off at 9 a.m.

“It’s an wonderful Westchase event that brings families together to strengthen our community and celebrates the spirit of giving,” said Race Director Leslie Blaze.

Marking its 17th run, The Great West Chase will see over 1,300 runners over its three races, with many making the races their first.

“Our focus this year is to assist Davidsen Middle School, Center for the Arts,” said Blaze.

Race proceeds will fund not only Davidsen’s overall arts program but will also impact the school’s ESE and ESOL programs. “It will promote stronger learning among ESE students and increase English literacy among non-English speakers in Davidsen’s ESOL program,” said Blaze. “This will have a direct and positive impact on the school’s grade and community perceptions of Davidsen.”

Multiple volunteers are needed to help make the event a success, from preparing race bags to helping with early morning registration on race day. “This event takes the whole community from start to finish and any group or organization wanting to be a part of it is welcome,” said Blaze.

Interested volunteers can email greatwestchase@gmail.com

Each runner will receive a fun T-shirt with race mascot “Chase” and a finisher medals. After running, they’ll join a great post-race party.  Those who remain for the awards ceremony (recognizing the top three finishers, male and female, in five-year age groups) will participate in the race’s popular raffle. The Great West Chase also recognizes runners completing their first 5K or 10K.

While not required, the race enthusiastically welcomes runners who participate in fun and creative Halloween costumes.

Beginning in West Park Village at the base of Montague Street, the race proceeds west on Linebaugh Avenue (and, in the case of the 10K, north on Countryway Boulevard) before returning and finishing near its start.

Packet pickup for registered runners is Thursday, Oct. 25, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-7 p.m. at the Westchase Recreation Center, located at 9791 Westchase Dr., Tampa, FL 33626.

Please visit http://www.TheGreatWestChase.com for r,egistration and comprehensive race information, including course maps and road closures. A race registration form is included in this month’s inserts.

Business sponsors and volunteers are still needed to ensure The Great West Chase’s success. If you would like to sponsor the race or volunteer, please contact Leslie Blaze at greatwestchase@gmail.com for more information.

Road and Lane Closures

On Saturday, Oct. 27, road and lane closures will affect Westchase traffic from 6:45-9:30 a.m. If you have work, a sports game or an appointment the morning of the races, add 40 extra minutes for your drive. Deputies will allow traffic to pass on Linebaugh and Countryway Boulevard as the flow of runners permits.

Road Closure

Montague Street in West Park Village will be completely shut down beginning on Saturday at 5 a.m. and won’t open again to traffic until 10 a.m. Residents living in the West Park Village apartments should avoid parking on Montague Street the evening of Friday, Oct. 27, through noon on Saturday, Oct. 28. If you park on Montague Street on Friday night, you will be unable to move your vehicle until the races conclude on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Lane Closures

On Saturday, Oct. 27 beginning at 5:30 a.m. Linebaugh Avenue between Montague Street and Countryway Boulevard and Countryway Boulevard between Linebaugh Avenue and Northumberland Road (near the commercial development with Westchase Self Storage) will be reduced to one lane going in both directions from 5:30- 9:30 a.m. Countryway Boulevard south of Linebaugh Avenue will not be affected.

While the race is being run, deputies will repeatedly halt traffic on these roads to allow runners to cross intersections. Significant delays are likely so residents are encouraged to avoid these roads or leave at least 40 minutes early to ensure they arrive at their destinations on time. If you are on these roads between 5:30-9:30 a.m., you will experience delays. We thank you for your patience!

Please read on for ways to minimize your inconvenience.

West Park Village

Residents living in West Park Village to the west of Montague Street can use Tate Lane along the railroad tracks to reach roads east of the event. They can then proceed north to Linebaugh along Bentley Way and Cavendish Drive and proceed eastward along Linebaugh with no disruptions.

The Fords and The Bridges

To avoid Linebaugh lane closures, Fords residents should exit the community by entering Kingsford along Kingsbridge Drive, turn right onto Montague Street at Davidsen Middle School and then turn left onto Linebaugh Avenue at the Montague intersection.

Bridges residents should exit Montague and turn left onto Linebaugh as well.

The Greens

Residents of The Greens will exit Westchase most quickly by proceeding east (following deputies’ signals) on Linebaugh Avenue. Drivers can avoid any delays at the intersection of Montague and Linebaugh by crossing Linebaugh and entering The Fords (if deputies permit this). They can then enter Kingsford, turn right on Montague Street and left on Linebaugh Avenue.

Radcliffe

Radcliffe residents can exit Westchase most quickly by turning right on Linebaugh Avenue and left on Countryway Boulevard.

Neighborhoods off Countryway Boulevard

Neighborhoods off Countryway Boulevard should avoid Linebaugh and stretches of Countryway between Linebaugh and Race Track Road between 7-9 a.m. Villages south of Linebaugh can proceed south on Countryway and use Waters Avenue or Tampa Road/Hillsborough Avenue to reach their destinations.

Residents in The Shires will most quickly reach their destinations by turning right on Countryway Boulevard and then heading east or west on Race Track Road.

WOW Thanks Westchasers

We apologize for the disruption and delays and thank Westchasers for their understanding. This popular event, which will attract nearly 1,300 runners, helps promote Westchase as a vibrant community. The event will also result in a significant donation to help support Davidsen Middle School, Center for the Arts and it students who face challenges with learning.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher Photos by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Tennis Players Recognized for Sportsmanship

Westchase Jr. Tennis players Aryan Tomar and Fernando Bauermeister recently competed in the National Junior Doubles Championship in Orlando.

From Aug. 23-25 some of the best doubles teams in the nation faced each other in a three-day event. This prestigious tournament took place at the USTA National Campus. The team of Westchase players were finalists in the Consolation Draw. More important, Tomar and Bauermeister were presented with the Sportsmanship Award for the Boys 16’s division.

“Coach Roberto Calla stresses the importance of learning and mastering the skills necessary to play doubles at a high level,” said Westchase Facilities Manager Kelley Shires. “This is a must for junior players with college tennis aspirations.”

By Kelley Shires, Westchase Facilities Manager

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Village Voices: The Bridges

You will likely read more elsewhere in the WOW about the Sheriff Chad Chronister's report to the Westchase Voting Members in September, but it bears repeating. Do not leave purses, electronics firearms and other valuables in your car. Do not leave your car unlocked, ever. We are a very low crime area, but not following these policies encourages thieves.

Holiday Decorations

It is getting to be time to decorate for holidays. Don't forget there is a timeframe for putting up and taking down holiday decorations. According to Westchase Guidelines, Halloween decorations may not go up before Oct. 15, and must be removed by Nov. 7.

Mailboxes

Mailboxes may need some attention also. You can get something called "Black Wax" at auto parts stores. If you don't wax the black paint regularly, you may need to repaint with a glossy black paint. Just keep in mind that depending on your neighborhood, the gold flag, address numbers and "W" logo must stay gold, so mask them when painting. If you need professional help, contact Creative Mailbox Designs at 818-7100. We all moved here because of the property values and nice look of the neighborhood. We want to maintain both.

CCRs and Guideline Changes

Watch the WOW for announcement and inclusion of proposed changes to your Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and Guidelines. Please let me know your feelings on any of the changes. You will be able to approve or disapprove the CCR changes on your proxy card which will be mailed to you in late December. If you return your card, I will cast a vote for you that reflects your vote. If you don't return your card, I will cast a vote for you, keeping the best interest of the association and homeowners in mind. You can read more about the WCA process in the Westchase Government Primer in the back of each WOW.

Have a happy Halloween and stay safe.

Please send an email to BridgesVM@gmail.com, and include your home address, if you would like to receive updates by email.

By Cynde Mercer, Bridges VM

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Public Notice of Guideline Changes

At their Oct. 9 and Nov. 13 meetings, Westchase Voting Members will consider two neighborhood-specific guideline amendments for Stonebridge and The Reserve at West Park Village.

The Stonebridge amendment would change Section 9 of the Bridges Storm/Screen Door Guideline that requires screen and storm doors to match the color of the front door to require Stonebridge screen/storm doors to be black in color.

VMs will also consider adopting the color palette listed below for Building 5 of The Reserve of WPV. The proposed paint swatch numbers reference Sherwin-Williams (SW) colors:

Lot 6/Block 3/Building 5 (9559 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco & Garage: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding 2nd fl: Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Siding 3rd fl: Functional Gray (SW7024); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 7/Block 3/Building 5 (9557 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco & Garage: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding 2nd fl: Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Siding 3rd fl: Functional Gray (SW7024); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 8/Block 3/Building 5 (9555 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco & Garage: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 9/Block 3/Building 5 (9553 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco & Garage: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 10/Block 3/Building 5 (9551 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco & Garage: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding 2nd fl: Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Siding 3rd fl: Functional Gray (SW7024); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 11/Block 3/Building 5 (9549 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco & Garage: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding 2nd fl: Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Siding 3rd fl: Functional Gray (SW7024); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Holiday Market Calls for Artists and Crafters

The Westchase Holiday Market, featuring dozens of fine artists and crafters, is preparing for another successful market benefiting Autism Speaks! on Dec. 9.

Market organizers are calling for artists and crafters to join the 2018 event.

This year’s market will be held on Sunday, December 9, from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. at the Westchase Golf Club, 11602 Westchase Golf Dr., Tampa, Florida. The market is open to original artwork such as painting, photography, ceramics and sculpture, along with handmade craft items such as cork work, jewelry, crochet, glassware and woodworking. Unique food items will be considered, however, the market does not include bulk resellers.

The annual holiday market features judging, including best of show, first and second juried prizes and artist demonstrations. The event includes an annual raffle/auction to benefit Autism Speaks, music, food, face painting and a visit from Santa.

Indoor, outdoor and tent spaces our available.

To register for your booth and display space, go to http://www.facebook.com/westchaseholidaymarket/ There. you will see the registration link! Registration is only $50. Don’t delay; register today!

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso’s Homecoming Week Kicks Off Oct. 8

Alonso’s homecoming week figures to be a highlight for students and parents alike.

It comes complete with a daily spirit theme, the welcoming of alumni, a football game, the crowning of a king and queen and an elegant dance/social.

“In my opinion, homecoming is not only an American tradition, but also a rite of passage,” Alonso principal Kenneth Hart said. “A lot of things have changed in our world. But high school is still high school—whether it’s in Florida, New Jersey or California—and these are the traditions worth celebrating and preserving.’’

The week is centered around the Oct. 12 home football game against Palm Harbor University, then the Oct. 13 dance/social at Steinbrenner Field, which features the theme of “Peter Pan: Finding Neverland.’’

But it’s so much more.

“Homecoming is for everyone who was once a Raven, who is currently a Raven or would one day be a Raven,” said Alonso psychology/world history teacher Elizabeth Osborn, the advisor for student government, which coordinates Homecoming. “It’s for anyone and everyone who wants to be included and wants to show their personality in conjunction with school spirit and the school culture.”

Or as Hart put it: “It’s an opportunity for the kids to take ownership of their school and we love to see that.”

The Homecoming festivities begin on Monday, Oct. 8 with the daily spirit days. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, Oct. 8: Meme Monday Dress up as your favorite Meme (no masks).

Tuesday, Oct. 9: Thru the Ages Tuesday Each grade dresses up as a different age (freshmen as babies, sophomores as toddlers, juniors as parents, seniors as grandparents and teachers as students).

Wednesday, Oct. 10: Walt Disney Wednesday Dress up as your favorite character from a Disney movie or television show.

Thursday, Oct. 11: Time Travel Thursday Pick a decade from the past or flash to dress up as the future.

Friday, Oct. 12: Spirit Day Friday Dress up as your class color (freshmen in white, sophomores in silver, juniors in gold and seniors in navy).

Then there’s the Oct. 12 football game between Alonso and PHU.

Osborn said an alumni tent will be available for former Ravens to enjoy food and drinks, while signing some banners. Each alumnus will be given an “A,” upon which they can write their name and graduation year.

Meanwhile, the Homecoming court of 32 students (four boys and four girls from each class) will be unveiled at halftime, when Alonso’s Homecoming king and queen (voted upon by students) will be announced.

On Oct. 13, the dance/social will be held. The “Finding Neverland” theme, with students handling the execution of all thematic ideas, will be reflected in the event’s decor.

Dance/social tickets ($40 per person) are on sale during Alonso’s three lunch periods through Oct. 3 (there could be availability after that as well). All proceeds go to the school government and excess funds will be used for school projects.

“We always remind everyone that the dance, along with all of the Homecoming activities, is a school-sponsored event and we expect the same behavior as they would have in school,” Hart said. “We want everyone to have fun, certainly, but we want everything to be safe, everyone to be included and the whole week should reflect the values we all have as Alonso Ravens.

“We’d like it to be the type of week that brings out the best in each of our students.”

That’s the idea, Osborn said.

“I’m an Alonso graduate (class of 2009) myself and I think the Homecoming week still carries the same level of excitement and importance,” Osborn said. “We try to create a series of events that are relevant to the students. We want it to be special and memorable.

“At the end of the week, we want it to be all about the memories the students have created. It’s the kind of things where you can make great memories and support your school at the same time.”

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Haunting in Westchase

There’s no need to go to Busch Gardens to experience a haunted house…there’s one right here in Westchase!

Head over to Radcliffe on Saturday, Oct. 27 to experience Carter’s House of Horrors.

The House of Horrors is the creation of Westchase resident Carter Ford. Carter has loved Halloween since he was a little kid. Now a Davidsen Middle School eighth grader, Carter’s fascination with anything scary has only grown.

The House of Horrors began in 2017. Around 75 people attended, including Brian Heckman, who lives in The Bridges. “I loved haunted houses as a kid. I expected this to be, you know…a “kid” one. Not so scary,” explained Brian. “Carter did this up way better than I expected. The whole garage was converted to pitch-black winding walkways with scary monsters popping out…all kids! The attention to detail was pretty awesome. I hear it’s expanding this year. I can’t wait!”

Davidsen Middle School teacher and Westchase resident Ruth Pelfrey agreed. “My heart raced when one of the monsters came alive!”

This year’s House of Horrors promises to be scarier than last year. Carter has been planning for 2018 since last October. Attendees can expect a wide variety of decorations, animatronics, and live actors, including many more props made by Carter. Last year featured two of his personal creations. Expect to see around ten this year!

The House of Horrors does more than just scare people. It also raises money for worthy causes. Last year donations were raised for The Children’s Home. This year monetary donations will be collected for Joey Johnston, a Westchase resident and Alonso student who is partially paralyzed from an accident in July. There is no fee to enter the House of Horrors, but donations in support of Joey will be greatly appreciated.

Get into the Halloween spirit and make plans to attend Carter’s House of Horrors, because it only happens once a year!

Carter’s House of Horrors

Location: 11908 Keating Dr. in Radcliffe
Date: Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018
Time: 5:30-6 p.m., low scare mode (ideal for young children); 6-8 p.m., full scare mode (for those who dare!)

By Carter Ford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

VM Elections: Why Not Run?

Following the Sept. 11 WCA Board elections, a number of residents asked what was involved in running for their neighborhood’s voting member position. To help answer their questions, WOW has put together the following questions and answers.

What is the Voting Member and what do they do?

The voting member is your neighborhood’s voting representative at the association’s VM meetings. Each Westchase village has neighborhood committee consisting of one VM and, ideally, at least two alternates, who step in to attend meetings when the VM is unavailable.

VMs have two major responsibilities. They elect the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors and can remove them. They also vote on all changes to Westchase’s rules in the community’s governing documents.

What is the time commitment?

A VM’s term is two years. VMs generally meet once monthly on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. In recent years, the meetings typically run only an hour—outside of board elections and a few meetings where they undertake review of proposed rules changes every other year.

Some VMs go beyond this, attending WCA board meetings (held once monthly). Others serve as their neighbor’s communicator of WCA business and general go-to person with neighborhood issues and gatherings. This is entirely voluntary and is up to each VM.

Do VMs have to attend every VM meeting?

No. If a VM has a conflict, s/he can ask their alternates to attend the meeting in their place. The Westchase documents, however, do automatically remove a VM whose neighborhoods have multiple consecutive absences or more than a certain number of absences each year. This, however, rarely occurs.

Do all villages have VM elections every year?

No. Each year half of Westchase villages elect their VMs.

Which Westchase villages have VM elections this year?

Abbotsford, The Bridges, Glencliff, The Greens, Harbor Links/The Estates, Keswick Forest, The Shires, Stamford, Woodbay and Wycliff.

Can WCA Board members still serve as their neighborhood VM?

Yes. There is no rule against the same person serving as VM and a WCA Director. It strikes some folks as odd because the VMs vote for the WCA Board and those VMs get to vote for themselves when running for the board.

This dual service often happens because no one else steps forward in the neighborhood to run.

How do I run for VM?

The first step is emailing (a phone call won’t work!) the WCA Manager Debbie Sainz at manager@wcamanager.com with your name and address by Oct. 15 and requesting that your name be placed on the neighborhood proxy card. The candidates’ names are listed in alphabetical order with some blank lines beneath for write-ins. The WCA will then mail out the proxy cards to your village on or just after Nov. 1. Enough signed proxy cards must be returned by Nov. 30 for the election to count.

If I miss the Oct. 15 deadline, can I still run?

Yes, but it’s harder to win this way. Each proxy card has blank lines for write ins. You can go around your neighborhood and ask your neighbors to write in your name and vote for you.

How many proxy cards are needed for it to be a legit election?

To make the election valid, a quorum of proxy cards or residents must be present at your village’s annual meeting in December. A quorum represents one-third of the homes in your neighborhood. If a neighborhood does not meet the quorum at the annual meeting, the neighborhood has 30 more days to reach a quorum. If it still misses quorum in 30 days, the existing VM continues in his/her position.

There are multiple names on my proxy. How do they determine who becomes VM?

The person with the most votes becomes VM, with alternates listed in descending order.

If I want to be VM and I’m running against other folks, how can I make sure I get the most votes?

You can do several things. Each homeowner can vote for up to four people on the proxy. Most homeowners just check them all off. To ensure you are the top vote recipient, you can ask your neighbors to cast only a single vote for you. That single vote will still count.

Second, you should consider finding out when your neighborhood proxy ballots are mailed, then walk your neighborhood, introducing yourself and asking for your neighbors’ votes. You can even have your neighbors fill out their proxy card, sign it and turn it over to you. Each card also has a line granting the VM the right to cast ballots as s/he see fits as the neighborhood proxy. Your neighbors can strike out this name and write in yours instead. Once they sign the card, they grant you the right to vote their votes by proxy.

Keep in mind, the most important thing here: Each neighbor must sign the proxy card and they must be a homeowner. Renters and relatives don’t count. The office checks home ownership.

Can I get extra ballots from the WCA office to walk my neighborhood for votes?

Yes. The WCA office will give you a handful of copies of paper ballots for your neighborhood for neighbors who lost their proxy cards to use. But you may have to make additional copies as needed.

What’s the trick to winning?

The best way to win is to meet and communicate with your neighbors. As you go around, be sure to collect names, emails and cell numbers of each neighbor so you can reach out via email and text regularly once you’re VM. If you don’t have village Facebook page, create one. You can ask your VM to share their email list or include you in a social media post. There are, however, no clear rules regarding their ownership in the WCA documents, so some may refuse to hand over what they’ve collected.

Will I regret serving as VM?

No. It’s actually rewarding. You'll meet a lot of wonderful people who care greatly about the community.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Fall Garage Sale Is Oct. 6

It’s time to make some room for your upcoming holiday gifts!

The Westchase Fall Garage Sale is Saturday, Oct. 6. The sale is one of two such events held annually on the first Saturdays of May and October. (The Westchase Spring Garage Sale is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, 2019; 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 need to e-mail their information to the association manager’s office at officemanager@wcamanager.com by Tuesday, Oct. 2.

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Reclaimed Outage Affects Westchase Countryway Boulevard Villages

Due to a break in the main reclaimed water line serving Westchase’s subdivisions off Countryway Boulevard, residents may find their sprinkler systems are not working.

Doug Mays, the Field Manager for the Westchase Community Development District (CDD), reported that the reclaimed water main has experienced a break in the vicinity of Glenfield. To repair the main, the system serving the area needed to be shut down early on Sept. 19. The shutdown will likely affect most or all of the subdivisions on Countryway Boulevard south of Linebaugh Avenue.

Mays stated that due to the size of main and the location of the pipe, repairs will likely take a few days. “We have a group of guys working on it now,” he said.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, Oct. 2018: WCA Forms Swim Search Committee

At the Sept. 6 board meeting the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors agreed to form a “Swim Program Due Diligence” Search Committee.

The purpose of this committee is to conduct a thorough, unbiased, systematic and scientific search for the swim program entity that best fits Westchase needs.

Such committees are typically short term, project-oriented committees made up of three homeowner volunteers and one board member. They have a start date, an end date and a deliverable result.

At the Oct 11 board meeting, we will be appointing the entire membership of that committee. I have already received unsolicited offers to serve on that committee. In the interest of fairness, I am throwing the offer open here to any volunteers willing to serve on that committee.

There are some requirements.

(a) You must be a member of the Westchase Community Association
(b) You must pledge to remain unbiased and dispassionate throughout the process
(c) You must agree that it is not the purpose of the committee to fire or rehire anyone
(d) You must be able to commit many hours of hard work, including days and evenings
(e) You must pledge to keep your work confidential so as not to discredit the result (unless you as a committee decide otherwise).

We will evaluate each of the candidates in an open forum on Oct. 11, then appoint all four participants at that time. If you wish to serve, please send an email stating your interest along with your bio to manager@wcamanager.com.

The Westchase tennis charity event will also be on the Oct.11 agenda for discussion as will the creation of a new position, that of social media director. This will be a board member in charge of social media communications.  We will also be talking about the recommendations the association adopt a “sunshine rule.”

We look forward to seeing you there.  It might be a long night, so please plan accordingly. Thank you for reading.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Q and A: Voting and the Political Process

We asked Northwest residents how they felt out the political process for August’s primary and November’s general election.

Brian McDougall, Bennington
I always vote. I consider it an honor and a great privilege to be able to vote. I try to be as well versed on the issues as I can be so that I can make informed decisions. I also like to know about the views and moral fiber of the candidates. I don't like it when candidates engage in mudslinging. I don't vote for parties. I vote for the best people. I let my conscious be my guide and trust in the process.

Phil Morris and Maci, Glencliff
I get information about candidates from a variety of sources including their TV ads, mailers and from the news media. I would say my main source of information is the news feed on my twitter account. I don't pay that much attention to negative ads. I'm much more issue oriented now and I tend to be more interested in local elections because they have more effect on me. I really try to stay informed but the process often makes it hard to follow. I look for the candidates I feel best align with my views and vote for the best person. I am not a party person.

Jason and Dominique Sorvillo, West Park Village
Jason: We honestly don't think that much about politics. It's easier to be informed about the significant national offices but the local elections are more difficult. It would be great if we could all be well informed about every person up for election but that requires so much time and effort that most of us don't have. It helps when candidates can be clear about where they stand but that is hard for a politician.

Dominique: I don't follow election news. So many politicians say whatever they think the voters want to hear with no intention of following through after they get into office.

George Hamilton, Castleford
So many of the TV commercials and campaign mailers are negative. They seem intent on pitting one side against another and dividing us. I want to hear what they have done and what they will do if elected. All the negative stuff bothers me but it's not going to stop me from voting. I've always tried to vote for the best people. If they don't do what they say they were going to do, I vote against them the next time. I am a firm believer that if you don't vote, you can't complain about what happens.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase PTA Hosts Meet the Candidate Mixer Oct. 2

The school year kicked off at Westchase Elementary with much excitement and anticipation from kids, parents and faculty. Parents wondered how things would go with a new start time, a new principal and assistant principal, and a few other small changes. Many took advantage of the opportunity to attend the first Coffee and Conversation with Administration on Aug. 24 to hear from Principal Elise Suarez and Assistant Principal Mike Miller.

Parking and transportation were two topics about which many attendees had questions. Although things have gotten much better in this area since the first week, the Westchase administration continues to work with the district and the county on other improvements. The top priority is safety for our students and efficiency is second.

The new Wizard Bucks system implemented by teachers to reinforce great behavior was also discussed. Additionally, the meeting addressed the curriculum and school safety, both of which follow state and district guidelines. Principal Suarez and Assistant Principal Miller appreciated the dialogue with parents and encourage parents to be vocal and involved.

Speaking of getting involved, the Westchase Elementary PTA will be hosting a Meet the Candidate Mixer on Tuesday, Oct. 2, from 6:30-8 p.m. The event will be held at the Westchase Golf Club and is free of charge. It is an opportunity for Westchase area voters to meet the four candidates—Steve Cona, William Henry Person, Karen Perez and Henry "Shake" Washington—running for Hillsborough County School Board District 1 and District 6 seats.

Fall is a busy time at Westchase. Don’t miss these great October events!

Our Fall Box Tops Drive will run from Oct. 1-26. Clipping Box Tops is an easy way to support our school. The money raised goes to support the many programs available throughout the school year.

Have fun and support our school by attending our Westchase Elementary Skate Night at Skate World on Oct. 12 from 6-8 p.m. This event is always a blast for the kids and an easy way to contribute to the school while entertaining the family!

Don’t miss the annual Fall Festival held from 4–7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. This annual community event is a fundraiser to support our classrooms. Each class will run a booth—from cookie decorating to bounce houses! There will also be food and drinks for sale in the MPR. The proceeds go directly to the teachers so they can purchase necessary supplies. Coupon cards will be on sale for $5 in the front office starting Oct. 22. Cash only please.

Westchase October Events

1-26  Box Top Drive
2       Meet the Candidates, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Westchase Golf Club 
4       Fall Pictures (Grades K-2) 
4       Conference Night, 4-7 p.m.   
5       Fall Pictures (Grades 3-5) 
9       Junior Achievement Training, 7:45 a.m. in MPR
12     Skate Night at Skate World, 6–8 p.m.
25     Reflections Entries Due    
26     Fall Festival, 4–7 p.m.
31     Storybook Parade 

By Clare Himes

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase School Town Hall to Discuss Referendum

On Oct. 3, residents will have an opportunity to meet and speak with Hillsborough School Superintendent Jeff Eakins and School Board Member Lynn Gray.

Appearing at the Westchase Recreation Center on Westchase Drive in The Bridges, Eakins will host a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. to discuss the half cent education referendum on November’s ballot.

Starting at 6 p.m., however, Gray will be available to answer parents’ questions about the district and its services. “I’ll just sit down and parents can come over and talk,” Gray told WOW. “I’ll be available.”

At Eakins' town hall meeting, the superintendent will talk about the Nov. 6 education referendum. He’ll discuss the district’s schools’ needs and the impact a half-penny sales tax referendum would have on our students, schools and the district.
If passed, the referendum would raise the county’s sales tax by a half cent for ten years. It’s projected to cost the average family $63 per year while raising $150 million annually. Funds raised would only be able to be spent on air conditioning,  renovations and maintenance like new roofs, security and technology.

Eakins will also share information about the state of the school district and the $2 billion challenge the district states it faces because of inadequate state funding.

At the town hall families, district employees and community members will have the opportunity to get their questions about the referendum answered by Superintendent Eakins. All district residents are invited to attend.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Selects Officers for Coming Year

Following Sept. 11 board elections, the new Westchase Community Association (WCA) board of directors met on Sept. 13 to choose its officers.

And a tie vote for WCA president led to postponing the meeting until 9 p.m. when the tie-breaking vote could be cast by WCA Director Keith Heinemann, who was in the air flying to Wisconsin during the earlier session.

Convening at 7 p.m. under Westchase Association Manager Debbie Sainz, WCA Director Rick Goldstein quickly nominated Ruben Collazo as president, stating in his position he has had to make tough, challenging and unpopular choices. He added, “Our jobs as leaders mean being introprospective and that’s the mark of a good leader.” 

Goldstein added he felt Collazo listens to those around the table and how issues will impact residents.

When incoming Director Shawn Yesner asked the responsibilities of the president, Collazo responded, “Take polls of the community, take phone calls from VMs and third parties and diffuse situations as they occur,” he said. “I have personal relationships with most of the voting members and  committee chairs and I acknowledge their ‘thank yous’ and hugs from constituents.”   

Collazo added, “That’s my job and I want to continue that job.”

When directors voted on the motion, the board split 3-3, with Collazo, Goldstein and newcomer Michele DelSordo voting in favor and Directors Ashley Wait, Joaquin Arrillaga and Yesner opposed.

While emphasizing his personal respect for Collazo, Arrillaga stated he was concerned about the perception the community had of the board following recent decisions. “At this time, we need change in the president position,” he said.

When Director Wait weighed in, stating that at the chaotic and heated election meeting, nobody took control of the session, Collazo clarified that, as a candidate, he wasn’t chairing the session but it was Goldstein’s responsibility. Collazo added that the meetings he has run have historically proceeded smoothly.

Responding, Goldstein  said, “It was an angry group.” Goldstein added they were “not interested in decorum.”

When Wait nominated Arrillaga for president, the board saw the same 3-3 split. They then adjourned until Heinemann’s plane could land and he could telephonically joint the session.

When the board reconvened at 9 p.m., Goldstein again quickly re-nominated Collazo. When Sainz asked who was in favor, Collazo, Goldstein and DelSordo again voted aye.  With Heinemann silent on the phone, Sainz asked if he had heard the vote and asked how he wished to cast his. Heinemann paused, stated he had been thinking over the matter for the past five hours, suggesting directors had discussed a possible change prior to the meeting. Heinemann ultimately stated he would vote for Collazo, making the vote 4-3 in favor.

When Wait nominated Yesner for vice president, a position previously held by Goldstein, the vote failed 3-4 in the same split, with Wait, Yesner and Arrillaga in favor.

After Collazo nominated Goldstein for vice president, Goldstein was appointed 5-2, with Collazo, Goldstein, Heinemann, Arrillaga and DelSordo in favor and Wait and Yesner opposed.

The rest of the board’s officers saw unanimous votes, with Yesner elected treasurer, Goldstein reappointed chair of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) and Heinemann elected secretary and WOW Member, the WCA’s liaison to WOW.
Taking over the gavel, Collazo stated, “Thank you, everyone. I really appreciate the vote of confidence.”

Collazo then asked board members not to discuss board business prior to their Oct. 11 monthly meeting, when they will begin discussions about the possible adoption of a sunshine motion, which would require all board business, with few exceptions, to be conducted in public meetings. Collazo suggested the practice would have a downside. “Those meetings get very long,” he said. “Based on the agenda, we will probably have a three to four hour meeting.

Heinemann closed by apologizing that his trip to his fiftieth high school reunion delayed the meeting.

Directors adjourned at roughly 9:10 p.m.

Editor's note: This article has been changed slightly from the original to clarify Rick Goldstein's remarks when he initially nominated Ruben Collazo for president.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Emotions Ran High at the WCA Board Elections

Residents stood for the duration of the WCA board elections as the room temperature rose to uncomfortable levels while the air conditioner struggled to keep pace with the demands of the crowded space.
 
WCA President Ruben Collazo began the Voting Members regular meeting, preceding the election meeting, with a moment of silence in remembrance of 9/11, which was the only time there was silence in the room for the next three hours.
 
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister seemed pleased at the numbers in attendance, stating, “I want to start by thanking everybody for being involved in your community.” 
 
He discussed Westchase’s largest crime issue currently at hand–car hopping–and advised residents that they must always lock their car doors and not to leave purses in their cars in plain sight. Chronister also spoke about the safety of children, saying that deputies were already in every middle school and high school and it was their largest priority. 
 
The final vote for the paint palette guideline for the Reserve at West Park Village was quickly approved with one dissenting vote from Cynde Mercer (Bridges). 
 
In the hopes of deflecting the clearly agitated residents in attendance, Collazo announced that discussion about the proposed Sunshine motion and the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Tennis Charity Event would be on the agenda for the next Board meeting on Oct. 11. Chris Barrett, publisher of the World of Westchase (WOW), had emailed the Voting Members and Board members requesting that the Westchase Community Association (WCA) adhere to the Florida Sunshine Law, which would restrict any communication about HOA business to happen solely in public forums. Collazo’s suggestion had little impact on those who wanted and expected to be heard as the meeting progressed. 
 
Based on the size of the crowd and number of people who wanted to speak, Voting Members and audience members were given three minutes each to speak in turns. Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) was the first Voting Member to speak.
 
She said she was disappointed at some of the generalities being made on the Westchase Facebook page.  She referred to a handout she had distributed that included comments made by Board Member Ashley Wait-Woodcock, which said, “There is this unofficial ‘in crowd’ made up of about the same 12 people that seem to be the only people involved in all of these meetings/committees, etc., making decisions for all of the other 7,000 residents.”
 
Sells explained, “Twelve volunteers were cited but 122 people have volunteered across the community. Could some VMs be more active? Yes, of course.”
 
Sells also said she sent many emails to her residents with little to no response. In regards to the Sunshine Law proposal, she said, “I have no objections to it. I am open to that.”
 
A resident asked, “Does the community get a say in the Sunshine Law? Why aren’t you acting under the Sunshine Law?”
 
Legal counsel John Ellis responded, “There are two areas of the Sunshine Law - Statute 7.20, a number of rules that ensure that business is conducted in an open forum.”
 
He noted that the exceptions to the rules are when the Board is dealing with personnel or litigation. He also explained that the Board meeting takes place any time there is a quorum. The Voting Members also need quorum to discuss community business. Ellis continued, “What I think we are saying is that we shouldn’t have any two members of VMs, Board, Covenants, actually discuss any matter without notice and without being open. The Voting Members can recall any member of the Board of Directors. The Board has heard you and wants to address it.”
 
Mercer spoke next saying that she felt she had been unfairly accused of being a bully by one of the Board members (Wait-Woodcock) when she was running for the board. Mercer said, “I replied that I think you should understand the name of the board she is serving and advised her not to use her personnel email with her business name in it as these are ethical violations.” Mercer concluded, “These weren’t bullying statements and weren’t intended that way but more as friendly advice.” 
 
Closing she said, “I’m unhappy with the situation and the innuendo.”
 
Barbara Dil of Castleford, the next resident to speak, responded to Sell’s statement saying, “I appreciate your efforts for emails but I have been here for 24 years. I was a very involved parent. I listened to the negative comments on Facebook. Never in the 24 years that I’ve lived here have I ever gotten an email from my Voting Member. Residents don’t get good information.”
 
Wait-Woodcock, who had posted a number of statements on the Westchase Neighborhood News Facebook page around the lack of communication, began reading a written statement thanking the VMs and residents in attendance. She spoke about dialogue happening behind closed doors and being transparent and open to the residents. She talked about support of the Sunshine motion and doing a better job with the nomination process. While she read, she broke down in tears and her husband finished reading her statement, which closed by saying that she was there to serve and she was, “Proud to be a member of this board and this community.”
 
Yngre Garcia, who is on the board for the Westchase Charitable Foundation, asked why the charity tennis event could not be discussed at the current meeting since all the board members and VMs were there. Ellis responded that rules governed the board and in order to be discussed, an item must be on an agenda with proper public notice. 
 
Candidates who had already declared themselves were then announced: Ruben Collazo, Michele Del Sordo and Keith Heinemann. Four new candidates were then nominated or nominated themselves: Emily Harkins, Bert Seither, James Wimstatt and Shawn Yesner.
 
WCA Director Forrest Baumhover (VM Kingsford/Board Treasurer) who had removed his name from the candidacy was given the floor to speak. In response to Barrett’s request for adherence to the Sunshine Law he launched into an accusation saying, “There is something that the WOW Board did that affected the HOA.” 
 
He said that this year, the Westchase WOW had decided to terminate its relationship with the existing auditor then replaced the auditor with someone who was not able to certify the audit. He continued saying that the replacement firm had a business conflict of interest with the board. “That is a lack of transparency. Where is the outrage in that? Now this has put us at risk. There is no outrage because it wasn’t reported. That reflects the spirit of the Sunshine Law. We expect the same thing of the WOW Board.” 
 
Baumhover then spoke about Sean O’Donnell, President of the Westchase Charitable Foundation and Baumhover’s neighbor, who had not been given the opportunity to speak at the recent Board meeting where the charity tennis tournament was proposed. Baumhover praised O’Donnell’s kindness and actions. In explaining his voting against the WCF’s proposal to again host the charity tennis tournament, Baumhover explained that Eric Pogue had organized the first Westchase open and to his credit had raised money and even reached into his own pocket to donate. Baumhover then said, “Something in my gut tells me that I cannot trust Eric Pogue and I can’t cast a vote for someone I can’t trust.” 
 
In defense of Mercer he said, “I heard Cynde’s version and I heard Ashley’s and to me, that’s not bullying. If that’s a slap in the face, so be it. I’m not here to pick sides. There are people that choose to sit in the comfort of Facebook and throw cheap shots at the people doing the work. That needs to stop. I am all about having an informed dialogue, an exchange of ideas and common understanding.”
 
At this point, various audience members were interjecting comments. Ralph Caputo (Abbottsford) made a motion, which was approved, to allow Barrett to respond to the comments made by Baumhover. Barrett explained that he answers to five WOW Board Members and that he was shocked to see that he was being attacked in the meeting. He said it was the first he had heard of Baumhover’s concerns and that as soon as he had found out that the auditor was not certified and found out that a Board member had ties to the auditor, he immediately called Collazo and Heinemann, who serves as the WCA Board liaison to the WOW Board. He also said that the WOW is a 501c3 nonprofit and that at any point in time, the WCA can request their financials. Speaking to Baumhover he said, “I am shocked to see this behavior. Shame on you. This is an association owned by every single member in this room. Guess how much the WOW takes from them? Zero.” (He noted that the WOW is solely funded by advertisers.)  Barrett then provided a list of donations that had been given to local schools from the WOW and said, “If you think the WOW is the problem, you are not paying attention. I answer to five people. I find [Baumhover’s accusations] very suspicious when I have come to the board and demanded greater openness.” 
 
At this point, questions from the audience were submitted and three were selected by legal counsel John Ellis, property manager Debbie Sainz and nominating committee chair Rick Goldstein. The three questions chosen were:
 
1) What experience have you had with the Florida HOA and with the WCA?
 
2) How do you feel about the adoption of a new Sunshine Policy?
 
3) What do you consider to be the greatest short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (2-10 years) challenges for Westchase?
 
Each candidate was allowed to provide an opening statement. Collazo spoke about his 15 years of experience and accomplishments, including the metal roof committee and the first and only annexation project, saying that there is another annexation coming up this year.  He said he didn’t “do drama.” He spoke of swim parents who thanked him for doing the “right thing” for the swim team in last week’s decision to remove the current swim team and coach.  
 
DelSordo described her experiences with the metal roof committee, serving on the board for the Classic Townhomes of West Park Village, serving on the Government Affairs Committee, being on the board of directors in Carrollwood and her current role of Compliance Officer – “There is no on/off button for ethics.”
 
Heinemann spoke about his long tenure as a volunteer working with four different HOA presidents. He said he had no agenda and no power, which garnered laughter from the audience.
 
Harkins, a newcomer who nominated herself, spoke of her experiences as a race car driver, purchasing a home at 20 years of age and being a Realtor. She said she was eager to preserve the community.
 
Wimsett said he wanted to be involved because he saw red flags of breakdowns in communication and four open seats with four people running. He said he is an attorney specializing in high conflict situations saying, “This is a high conflict situation.”
 
He also said new blood was needed and he was upset that someone wanting to put on an event could not get a minute to speak about it (alluding to the charity tennis event).
 
Yesner explained he has been on the variance committee, coaches Westchase soccer, sponsors the Great West Chase and is a real estate attorney. He said, “I represent homeowners that have disputes. It allows me to look at all of the issues and make a calm and informed decision.”
 
Seither said he was a self-employed entrepreneur and that politics on the news had incited him to come forward. He also offered to help the group with the newer technologies. 
 
During the question-and-answer session, all the candidates spoke about being transparent, increasing communications, traffic and keeping our children safe. 
 
After short closing speeches, O’Donnell was given the opportunity to speak. He said he wasn’t sure why Pogue was called out. “I understand who I am doing business with.  Eric called me and said he wanted to raise some money. All the money went to our Square account. He did an amazing job. When we ran short, he wrote a check. I get that these guys are pissed at him," said O'Donnell, acknowledging the strained relationship between Pogue and the board, but adding, "He’s a good guy.” 
 
Pogue’s wife who was in the audience also spoke in defense of her husband. 
 
Dale Sells said he was changing the subject and spoke about complaints on the Facebook thread (Westchase Neighborhood News). “Every year you get a ballot in the mail and every year every Voting Member has to go get votes.  These meetings are open.  Same thing with the Board meetings.  The same half dozen people come. You don’t see what’s going on unless you go there. If you are going to belly ache, participate. If you are not willing to participate, be quiet.”
 
VM Gerald Pappa (Greens) also complained about going door to door to get votes (for VMs). “I realize many of you are busy. I am busy too; I own two companies. The thing that upsets me, now, we change the voting members term to two years and we can never get people to return their ballots. He complained about the CDD not providing him with the current resident emails for the Greens saying, “Tell the CDD that I’m not going to steal their information.”
 
The final tally was taken with Collazo, DelSordo, Heinemann and Yesner being elected.
 
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
 
Editor's note: In the original article, Eric Pogue was described as being Westchase's tennis coach. While he organized the WCF tennis tournament last year, Mr. Pogue is not the community tennis coach. Roberto Calla is Westchase's tennis pro. WOW regrets the error and the article above has been corrected. WOW's editor also clarified Mr. O'Donnell's quote to more accurately convey its nuance.
 
VM Vote Tally for WCA Board Elections

Note: Each VM could vote for up to four candidates.
 

Neighborhood Name

 

Ruben Collazo

 

 

Michele DelSordo

 

Emily Harkins

 

Keith Heinemann

       

 

Bert Seither

 

James Wimsatt

 

Shawn Yesner

Abbotsford

 

1

1

 

 

1

1

Arlington Park – (NO VM)

----

     ----

----

----

----

----

----

Bennington  

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Berkeley Square  (absent)

----

----

----

----

----

----

----

Brentford

1

1

 

 

1

 

1

Bridges

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Castleford  

1

1

 

 

1

 

1

Chelmsford

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

Classic Townhomes   

1

1

1

 

 

 

1

Enclave (absent)

----

----

----

----

----

----

----

Glencliff

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Glenfield  

 

1

1

 

 

1

1

Greens

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Harbor Links/The Estates

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Keswick Forest

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Kingsford  

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Radcliffe

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Reserve @ WPV (absent)

----

----

----

----

----

----

----

Saville Rowe  

1

1

 

 

1

 

1

Shires

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Single Family Homes of WPV

 

1

 

1

 

1

1

Stamford

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

Stockbridge  

 

1

 

1

1

 

1

Townhomes of WPV

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

Traditional TH’s of WPV (absent)

----

----

----

----

----

----

----

Village Green

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Villas of WPV (absent)

----

----

----

----

----

----

----

Villas of Woodbridge  

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

The Vineyards

1

1

 

1

 

 

1

Woodbay

 

1

1

 

1

 

1

Worthington

1

1

1

 

 

 

1

Wycliff  (NO VM)

----

----

----

----

----

----

----

Totals

20

25

8

17

5

3

22

 

Note: Villages with no votes indicated did not have a VM or Alternate present at the meeting.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Sept. 13, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Q and A: Shopping Preferences

We asked Westchase residents where they prefer to do their food shopping.

Jacques and Clare Duval with David, Grace and Tessa, Lake Chase
We both work and have three small children so the amount of time we have for shopping and meal preparation is a big factor. We also like diversity. We don't like to have the same thing over and over. We like ordering food online. We've used Hello Fresh and the Nutrition Factory. Now we are using Sprouts Farmers Market a lot. We also like Publix because of their digital coupons. You just snap a picture on your cell phone so there's no clipping and paper. I really like the way they have integrated technology into the way we like to shop.

Joe and Liz Rudisill and Anderson, The Village Green
We do almost all of our shopping at Aldi and Publix. Aldi's has a nice selection and is less expensive for many items like milk and snacks. We get our meat and produce from Publix. We eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. It seems like we're in the store every two days buying strawberries and peaches. We don't use coupons but we keep an eye out for sales.

Liz Price, Chelmsford
I love, love, love Publix. I've made it part of my daily exercise program. Almost every day I walk to the store to pick up one or two items. I love the sales and BOGOs, and I use coupons. When I see a good deal, I stockpile. Occasionally, I go to Costco for things I need in bulk especially when we're having a big party.

Dale Blood, Chelmsford
I do all my shopping for the week on Monday. I like Wal-Mart and Publix. I go to Wal-Mart first. Their prices on brand items for most things is less than Publix. The same for wine. On my way home, I go to Publix for meat and produce. I'll also go to Publix on Friday and Saturday if we need something for the weekend. I don't use coupons and don't get carried away by the sales. I buy what we need and don't stockpile.

By Phil Dean

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Mompreneur: Jessica Guercio

Jessica Guercio took a childhood dream and made it a reality.

When Jessica Guercio was in elementary school, a National Geographic photographer came to speak to her class about his job. She was blown away by how exciting his job sounded and that feeling stuck with her throughout the years. She knew that somehow, photography would play a role in her life.

After graduating from the University of West Florida, Jessica took on a career as an elementary school teacher until her son was born in 2014. After being a stay-at-home mom for a few years, she decided that she was ready to go back to work. She remembered how tough it was to find a good, local photographer for her son’s first birthday – one who would do short, more affordable sessions and just snap a few pictures instead of doing longer, more extensive sessions (which can be very trying with a 1-year-old!). She thought that maybe this was finally time to take on the career that she always had in the back of her mind.

Deciding to take a leap of faith, she pursued her passion. After taking a few classes and making sure her camera was always in tow for events, MOMS Club outings, and play dates, she felt that she was finally ready to share her talents with others. Jessica Guercio Photography in January of 2017.

Jessica loves working with kids and families and enjoys being able to meet and connect with new people. There have been so many wonderful moments since starting her business, but she says that her favorite part is always the moment people look at their photos and tell her how much they love them. As a West Park Village resident, she enjoys using the local area as her backdrop and knows that there are no shortages of picturesque places among the fountains, bridges, and large open fields. Shooting at local parks is a favorite spot so that families with little ones don’t have to go far.

Although taking pictures is her passion, her number one job is being a mom to her son, David, 4. Managing her time between mom life and work life can be tricky, but she’s had the utmost support from her husband, Sam, and her son loves to “help” her work. “He has his desk next to mine so we can work together when I need to,” Jessica said.

Her schedule is flexible, which allows her to be a mom first while pursuing her dream. She’s loved every minute of her job and when asked what advice she’d give aspiring photographers, she said to just get out there and do it! “Take photos of your family and friends, your backyard, of everyday objects around the house. Then figure out how to make them better.”

You can find Jessica on Facebook at Jessica Guercio Photography, on Instagram at JessicaGuercioPhoto, and at http://www.jessicaguerciophotography.com WOW r.eaders who mention this article will receive 10 percent off a Petite or Full Session booked now through the end of September 2018.

By Brie Gorecki

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Rallies While Joey Johnston Battles On

It has been nearly two months since my son’s catastrophic accident, which landed him in the hospital with a broken neck and back, then sent us to an Atlanta specialized facility for extended rehabilitation. Then and now, Joey has voiced an almost daily request: “I just want to go home.’’

Home.

Yes, I agree. That sounds very good.

For Joey, soon to be 16, Westchase has always been home. It’s his personal playground, his sanctuary, his world.

I think his bicycle has covered each square inch of The Shires, where we live, but also every nearby street, village, store or restaurant. The neighbors all know Joey, including the older folks and younger kids. So do all the lawn guys and pool guys, the Publix baggers, the McDonald’s drive-thru workers and the folks behind the 7-Eleven counter.

He has fished the lakes and ponds, gotten all forms of playthings stuck in the shady oak trees, worn out the equipment at Glencliff Park, swam the pools, beaten his dad (not often) at driveway hoops and learned how to hit a ball over the street, into the neighbors’ yard and ultimately onto their roof (we had to stop and find a field).

He has provided his share of humor, insight and exasperation for all the teachers and staff at Westchase Elementary School, Davidsen Middle School and Alonso High School. He loves the Rays, the Bucs, the Lightning, the USF Bulls, the Florida Gators, the Alonso Ravens and his enduring kinship with Keystone Little League.

He knows just one hometown. He knows just one house.

In the last year, Joey announced his plans to take the “Derbyshire’’ street sign and bring it to his college dorm room. I gently reminded him that no, actually that wouldn’t be happening that because it’s against the law.

“But if I go away to college, I still want to have Derbyshire with me,’’ Joey said.

Childhood fun is the best. I’ve always been supremely motivated to provide great experiences for Joey—and we certainly have enjoyed our share of memorable moments.

Now this.

On July 8, Joey the daredevil, along with some buddies, decided it would be fun to try a backflip off a bridge. That decision has rocked our world. Joey broke his neck and back when the leap went terribly wrong, sending him to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and now to an extended stay at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

Amid the tragedy, we have all felt such love, compassion and togetherness from our Westchase friends. Joey still has no real idea about the level of support from his community, his school, his hometown and all the people who have just accidentally stumbled upon his story.

But for the rest of us—myself, Joey’s mother Angela and the immediate family—it has been staggering.

We have felt the love. We have been inspired by his courage and perspective. And although the road back looks excruciatingly long—with the final destination unpredictable—we know one thing for sure.

We’re so grateful that Joey is alive. He could have easily drowned, but he was spared and saved, mostly because his buddy Danny jumped first and helped bring him to the surface. We’re thankful that his brain and head were unharmed, giving him a huge advantage in recovery.

We’re indebted to the doctors, nurses, therapists and staff at All Children’s Hospital and the Shepherd Center. We should have already known this, but we have been reminded that these people are true angels.

Whatever happens moving forward, I think we will be forever changed.

Entering July 8, Joey was a devil-may-care, somewhat reckless 15-year-old. He’s scheduled to get his driver’s license in October. We constantly have to watch him and remind him of safety and making good decisions. He has taken crazy chances—like a lot of 15-year-old boys—and mostly made it through. Now he has made a choice with huge consequences.

Here’s my theory: God saw a kid who thought he was invincible and maybe untouchable. Could an accident be prevented from above? Yeah, sure. But a lesson had to be learned. Maybe that was the only way Joey could get back on the right path.

Something special already has happened. We have noticed a softening, a sense of perspective, a realization that he got a second chance. He has spoken about helping people. He has spoken about helping his peers make better decisions.

These might be small things, but I see a glimmer of insight, empathy and gratitude that was not there before. I see a different path. I see hope. This has been about so much more than healing Joey’s body.

I see a potentially extraordinary life.

That’s the long-term view. In the short term, of course, it’s a grind, a daily battle and a test of character. Joey has largely led the parade, teaching us all how to be brave.

Joey got off to a great start at Alonso, successfully navigating that large, new freshman world, earning a spot on the varsity baseball team and earning a 4.2 grade-point average. He badly wants a return to all of that.

Doctors were incredibly encouraging about Joey’s early rehabilitation, predicting he can accomplish just about anything, including an independent life. Spinal cord injuries remain a mystery. Huge odds have been beaten before. We’re not closing the door on anything.

It seems especially cruel that a five-minute decision can so drastically change a life (or lives), but that’s the reality. What happened can’t be changed. We can only control the reaction and adjustment to what lies ahead.

It’s a long time in coming, but our homecoming will be very sweet. We will return to the love of family and friends, a love we feel every day from afar.

For that, there’s so much we can say. For now, only one thing seems to fit:

Thank you!

By Joey Johnston

Joey Johnston, Sr., has been a longtime writer for WOW and resident of The Shires.

How to Contribute to Joey’s Recovery

Many members of the Westchase community and beyond have asked how they can help Joey's family in their time of need. In response, a GoFundMe page was set up by WOW staff to benefit the Johnstons. All donations, after GoFundMe's roughly three percent collection fee, will go directly to the family, allowing them to care for Joey. To donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com/joey-johnston039s-recovery (WOW .staff thanks everyone who has already generously donated.)

Those who would like to make a private donation can send that directly to Joey’s aunt, Joanne Westmoreland, at 10411 Brentford Dr., Tampa, FL 33626. Joanne will personally deliver all gifts and monetary donations to the family. Checks should be made payable to Joey Johnston. Because the family is currently living in a hotel in Atlanta while Joey undergoes treatment at the renowned Shepherd Center, donations of Visa gift cards, or cards to stores like Publix and Target, would also be appreciated.

Another great way to show support is by purchasing a #gameon4Joey T-shirt ($10) and a "Prayers for Joey" silicone bracelet ($5). These items will be available for order for two weeks only, Sept. 1-15. Orders can be place at https://prayersforjoey2018.itemorder.com/ with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to Joey Johnston's recovery fund. Please note that once the two-week ordering window closes, all items will be produced and shipped. Orders are expected to deliver by the end of September. Silicone bracelets are also available for purchase locally at Belanova Salon.

If you are not doing so already, be sure to follow Joey’s progress on the Facebook page, Prayers for Joey.

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Chef Daniel Martin: Rejuvenating Dining at the Westchase Golf Club

While September’s WOW brings the results of best restaurants in Tampa Bay, don’t forget the opportunity of a great meal and experience in our own backyard.

Westchase residents Dale Sells and wife Nancy recently visited the restaurant inside the Westchase Golf Club.  “Nancy and I took advantage of the new Wednesday Happy Hour. The food and service was excellent and Daniel sat and visited with us for a few minutes,” said Dale.

Daniel O. Martin is the Westchase Golf Course’s new chef.  An opportunity to sit down with the Executive Chef of Two Spoons at Westchase Golf Club quickly makes apparent his goals and aspirations for the community restaurant.

Originally from Axton, Virginia, Martin participated in high school sports, including swimming, basketball and soccer.  During the summer months, he served as a 4H camp instructor teaching kids how to swim and canoe.  With an interest in child psychology due to his prior experiences with working with children, he enrolled in a local community college to work towards earning a degree in child psychology.  While working toward this degree, Martin needed a job to help with college expenses. It was then that he took a job at a local bakery.  “The chef asked if I wanted to learn to bake bread or make soups.  I said, ‘Yes,’” he revealed. “He said ‘Be here at 4 a.m.!’” 

“I took it,” Martin said. 

At first experience, the 4 a.m. report call was worth it.  “I loved the feel of the dough and to see the pleasure it gave the people once I put the finished product in front of them….I thought, ‘Wow! This might be the ticket!” 

After several years, he moved to the Cape Cod area to work in the restaurant industry.  It was there that the owner of a prestigious yacht club suggested he attend a culinary school.  “I was livid at first but then I realized what he advised was the best advice I’d ever received,” he said. 

His first day at New England Culinary Institute was daunting.  “Coming from the South, this was a culture shock for me, but overall it was an amazing experience,” he said. 

After graduation, he worked for the Hyatt Hotel in Hilton Head, SC.  From there he went on to work in Key West and Miami.  Eventually, he was hired by Levy Restaurants, who specialized in sports and entertainment venues.  For Levy, Martin worked at Raymond James Stadium, providing food services to the various suits and restaurants at the stadium.  “Being part of game day excitement is like being part of the team,” he recalled. 

Martin was also on hand for the 2009 Super bowl game.  That day now, seems like a blur to Martin. “That’s a day that is on most people’s bucket lists,” he said.  The day, he said, required lots of planning and staging.  “We served about 300 pounds of wings and three pallets of hot dogs,” he recalled.  The stadium kitchens, he said are downstairs and Martin was tasked with serving the various suits and restaurants on game day.  “We had three floors to get food and hotboxes to,” he said.

At the end of the day, Martin felt honored to part of the day but exhausted as well.  “I don’t even remember driving home. But it was a unique thing to be a part of.”

As a dad of three young children, Martin sought out employment that would allow him to be a bigger part of his children’s lives.  After leaving his position at Raymond James, he worked in the retail food industry at Fresh Market and then moved to a not for profit company as director, helping homeless people transition to housing programs. “There was a lot of need there,” he recalled.

With a desire to get back into culinary management, he applied for the open position at the Westchase Golf Club in February 2018. After meeting with Manager Zack Vervaeche and others, Martin was hired.   Vervaeche describes Martin as “very humble and willing to go the extra mile for the restaurant.” 

The extra mile for Martin means welcoming guests and making them feel at home.  “When someone comes in, we want to make them feel comfortable and engage with them immediately,” he said. 

Two Spoons is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  The affordable menu features wraps, wings, sandwiches and more.  “We look like a private club, but we’re open to the public,” Martin explained. 

Two Spoons is also available for private parties, weddings and special events.  Martin takes pride in working with guests to create a menu for any special event. 

Be sure to stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Chef Martin and his staff looks forward to welcoming you!

By Lisa Stephens

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Lowry Plans Fun September

Welcome back, Leopards! We have a fun filled September planned!

Our yearly fundraiser begins Sept. 12 and concludes on Sept. 21 with our Fun Run event! This year's theme is Mind Spark Mystery Lab and we are excited to raise funds to enhance our school and our student's learning.  Please watch for information about the start of pledging on Sept. 12.

As always, be sure to check out our Facebook Page - Lowry PTA Tampa for current information!

Uniforms and Spirit Gear to show your Lowry pride are available at lowryuniforms.com.

Lowry’s September Events

3     No School
10   Grandparents Breakfast for Grades K-2
11   Grandparents Breakfast for Grades 3-5
3     Book Fair Begins, Media Center

By Angela Owens-Vallot

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

The number of overweight children in America began to climb 30 years ago. Although the numbers have leveled off in recent years, they are so staggering that it is important to continue to address the epidemic.

More than 30 percent of children are overweight, according to the Journal of American Medicine, and 18 percent of all children are obese. The percentages increase as children age toward adulthood. Fourteen percent of all children ages 2–5 are rated obese, climbing to 21 percent for 12 to 19 year olds.

In the National Survey of Children’s Health, Utah has the smallest percentage of overweight and obese children at 19.2 and Tennessee has the largest at 37.7 percent. The state of Florida has 36.6 percent of children who are overweight and obese.

Childhood and adolescent obesity is classified differently than adult obesity. In adults, obesity is classified as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 percent or greater. Children and adolescents are rated according to the growth chart for age and height. If a child is in the 85 to 95 percentiles, they are rated overweight. Those in the 95th and higher percentiles are rated obese.

Nevertheless, childhood obesity is a predictor of complications for individuals and for the health care community. Obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and many cancers, including esophagus, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, colorectal, uterine and kidney cancers. High BMIs even increase complications with illnesses like the flu. Hip and knee replacements are more common among overweight adults. The financial burden is exorbitant.
Yet the issues of childhood obesity are vast and complex. There are biological, behavioral, and socioeconomical factors that suggest genetics, family dynamics, education, and even the community impact mindset and habits. There are no easy answers. Yet awareness, education and support are necessary to make positive change.

Some other observances in the month of September that can be tied to solutions for healthy weight include: Healthy Aging Month, Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month, Whole Grains Month and Family Health and Fitness Day USA

Families can maintain healthier weight by eating more whole grains, fruits and veggies, increasing the probability of aging gracefully.

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>

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Tampa Bay Water Ski Team Performance

The Westchase Seniors Group will watch the Tampa Bay Water Ski Team perform on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Water Ski Team is amazing as they perform jumps, pyramids, barefoot skiing and other exciting acts. They practice and perform on Saturdays in Oldsmar, at Tower Lake (just three miles from Westchase). Their pre-show will start at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts promptly at 6 p.m. Both are free. Westchase Seniors Group carpools will depart the medical center parking lot on Linebaugh in Westchase at 4:45 p.m. Three picnic tables, right next to the water, will be reserved for the Westchase Seniors Group; however, if you have some comfortable lawn chairs, we recommend you bring them to use while watching the ski show. Bleachers are available, but they fill up quickly and are not as comfortable. Hot dogs, snacks, and soft drinks will be available at a concession stand although you may prefer to bring your own picnic food. Please contact Cynde Mercer (cyndemercer@gmail.com or 926-3059) if you have any questions.

August Seniors Activity We want to thank Pete and Judy Daniher for opening their home in August to the Westchase Seniors Group. We enjoyed a wonderful Tampa All-American Summer Pot Luck Dinner. The turnout was great and the food was delicious. If you were not able to be there, you missed a good time.

Active Adult Activities Starting in this month, the following activities are provided by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center (9791 Westchase Dr.) specifically for seniors. You may call 964-2948 if you have any questions. All activities are free (except for food) unless otherwise noted.


• First Thursday of the month field trip, Sept. 6: Free bus trip to Ybor City departs at 9 a.m. Call 964-2948 to reserve a seat.
• Seniors Outdoor Active Recreation, Sept 20: Free bus trip to beautiful Crystal Springs Preserve. Call 813-964-2948 for departure time and to reserve a seat.
• Walking Club, Mon-Fri 8:30-9 a.m. Rain or shine, the gym is open.
• Senior Tone and Stretch, Mon, Wed, Fri 9 a.m.
• Gentle Yoga, Thu, 9:30 a.m. ($3 per class.)
• Chair Yoga, Thu, 10:45 a.m. ($3 per class.)
• Ballroom Dancing, Mon, 10 a.m.
• Picketball Instructions for Beginners, Mon and Wed, 10:30-11 a.m.
• Picketball Open Play: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Picketball League Play, Fri, 10:30 a.m.
• App Hour, Mon, 10 a.m. Bring your phone or tablet and learn how to use the latest apps.

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9 to 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 receive e-mails 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 cost a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

MOMS Club of Westchase Has Summer Fun

The MOMS Club had an outstanding August! It was packed with new adventures for mothers and their kiddos. We went to see a movie, attended a mother and child cooking class and finished off the month with lunch at the Highland Park pool. The mothers also had a great kickboxing class at Tampa Bay Brewing Company for our MOMS Night Out.

The MOMS Club charity for August was making a monetary donation to Bridging Freedom to help sex trafficking victims in the Tampa area. Our September donation will be to Acheson Attic, which helps specific families in need.

The MOMS club is all about supporting mothers and their children. These wonderful families go above and beyond for each other, especially in a time of need. Chelsea Moffa has seen firsthand what these incredible women do and wanted to share her story:

“In a world full of darkness I wanted to shed some light on how amazing the MOMS Club and our community are. My name is Chelsea Moffa and recently my family was confronted with an unforeseen circumstance. Our family of five is now a family of eight. We were not prepared for this change, so I reached out to our wonderful MOMS Club to see if anyone had any small donations of clothing for the children. The response I received was overwhelming. Thirty minutes after I had reached out, I had multiple responses from friends willing to help. We had people dropping off bags and bags of clothing, boxes of diapers, homemade meals, groceries, offers to babysit, and generous gift cards. The MOMS Club and the Westchase community have reassured me that there are still amazing people out there willing to help out from the kindness of their own hearts. There is nothing I can do to repay everyone, but I had to tell the world what a beautiful thing all of you have done for my family. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. What you have done will never be forgotten.”

Love, The Moffa Family

If you are a mom or a mom-to-be wanting to get connected to this wonderful group please visit, http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com Inter.ested in becoming a member but not ready to
commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure that you will want to continue your motherhood journey with us.

By Kelly Walton

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Over the Hill

“I have some unfinished business in Glacier National Park,” my younger brother said.

I missed that his words sounded just like what a high school chemistry teacher would say as he launched a lucrative second career as a meth cooker.

“That sounds wonderful,” I enthusiastically responded – like a nerd being offering an oatmeal cookie.

His unfinished business?

Hiking the park’s Highline Trail.

Thus named because only people who are high would actually hike the thing. It perilously traces the Continental Divide, across some ridiculously high peaks in the Rockies.

My brother’s other plans for our leisurely vacation? They began with a seven mile round-trip hike to Grinnell Glacier on Day 1. Then, on Day 2 we’d walk a mere two and half miles into the Highline Trail before coming back out. Twelve miles of climbing total.

Easy peasy.

I even trained a little. Put down oatmeal cookies. Lost 15 pounds.

Because the best defense against grizzly bears is the ability to run faster than the other fat guy on the trail.

The only problem?

I had forgotten my brother was the same guy who hiked down to the river at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Then deciding he couldn’t sleep in a cabin with six snoring strangers, he left to hike five hours back to the rim.

At 2:30 in the stinking morning.

Please note the following, actual line from the National Park Service web site: “The National Park Service DOES NOT RECOMMEND hiking from the river to the rim and back in one day.”

“I had a head lamp,” he protested.

He still got lost.

“People who are actually lost don’t get home,” he still protests.

This is the guy I let plan my family vacation.

But really? Who doesn’t want to die in a national park? Your name and official demise will eventually appear in one of those books they sell in all the gift shops. The ones with catchy titles like: 254 STUPID HUMANS WHO HAVE DIED IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK.

That kind of immortality lasts even longer than dead friends’ Facebook pages.

If you’ve not heard of it, Glacier National Park is famous for its Going to the Sun Road, a 50 mile narrow pathway carved out of a sheer cliff face, called the Garden Wall, high in the Montana Rockies. It crosses the Continental Divide at 6,650 feet at Logan Pass, which sees up to 80 feet of blown snow in the winter. Once plowed and opened in June, Going to the Sun Road offers the most stupendous, stunning views of any in North America.

And if you look too long at any of it, some fool in an RV will push you right over the edge of one of its hairpin turns.

But you’ll have a beautiful, scenic view during your 200-foot plummet straight down.

For that reason even bucket builders put Glacier National Park on the top of their bucket lists.

To make things even more interesting, after building the road, park officials carved the Highline Trail out of the same cliff face 100 feet above it. And the first two miles of the narrow, perilous, acrophobia-inducing path has a metal cable coated in a rubber garden hose to offer a pretense of safety.

But after two miles, the cable abruptly ends.

Because by then all the sane people have turned around and crawled quivering back to the Logan Pass parking lot.

Yet the trail actually goes on for another nine miles. It’s popular with marmosets. Which, I learned, are also known Whistle Pigs – probably because they make a high-pitched, whistling sound as they plummet to their deaths.

You could write a gift shop book just about the Highline Trail.

In 2014 a lone man was hiking its ledge when he rounded a corner and came face to face with a grizzly.

He did what any sensible man would do after properly soiling himself.

He climbed over the edge of the cliff and hung there, risking death, to avoid being eaten.

Another 64-year-old guy ignored signs that Highline was closed due to ice on the ledge. He slipped and went to the sun.

As did another guy who was pushed to his death in the park by his new wife. (She apparently wanted to end their honeymoon on a high, screaming note.)

This is the trail my brother desired to hike for fun.

Fool that I am, I not only agreed to it, I also agreed to bring along one of my children.

Winning me Worst Father of the Year Award. (In my defense, she recently became a legal adult.)

Let’s just say it didn’t quite go according to plan.

Let’s just say our wives reported us missing to the National Park Service when we didn’t return by 9:30 p.m. (The nearest cell tower is in Minnesota.)

Let’s just say that may have been because we stopped to eat huckleberry pie in Two Sisters Café on the Blackfoot Reservation after nearly dying.

Let’s just say that even the pie idea was my brother’s fault.

Remember that reasonable seven-mile hike on Day 1 to start our leisurely vacation?

It ended up being 10 miles. He refused to wait for the return boat. Instead he dashed into a brewing thunderstorm. “We can get there faster if we just walk!” he shouted before shooting off. “It’s not safe to stand in that open boat house in a thunderstorm!”

Because dashing across an open mountaintop with five children is far safer.

So was I rip-roaring ready tackle the Highline Trail on Day 2?

No. Overnight, due to those extra miles, my legs had rusted into rigor mortis.

The next morning I unsteadily lurched like Frankenstein down the steps of Many Glacier Hotel, making a high-pitched “MEEP!” sound with every painful step.

But I HAD to hike the Highline Trail.

Because I had foolishly posted on Facebook that I was going to hike the Highline Trail. And I could not withstand the social media shame of having to instead post “Oopsie! Changed my mind! Today my legs are as tender as a baby lamb’s and my chubby inner thighs are chafed. I shall instead pass a lovely day in my hotel room eating all the strange candy bars I bought up in Canada.”

Worse, my oldest daughter had fallen under a similar Instacurse. She had to top her ex-boyfriend’s Ecuador photos with something absolutely spectacular. Someone had to protect her from social media self.

So I began MEEPING down the Highline Trail after her. “It’s just two and a half in and two and a half out,” I told myself with every squeak.

One mile in, a spectacularly beautiful family chattering in German rushed us from the opposite direction. It was me or them. Someone was going to have to take the outside of the trail along the precipice. I did the generous thing. Pressing myself against the cliff face like ham on rye, I let them have the better view. I sucked in my breath and closed my eyes. Their 12-year-old daughter tittered me at she passed.

Because spectacularly beautiful German families also raise their children to be fearless mountain goats.

One hundred-fifty feet below us an RV blew its horn at an SUV.

At mile two, just beyond the end of the safety cable, a shout went up. I leapt against the wall. Two trail runners blew past us dashing full tilt along the ledge.

Number One whirled and looked at me in horror. I had to consciously stop myself from raising my fist and shaking it like they had just stepped on my lawn.

Fifteen minutes later, after another terrifying precipice, we stepped off the ledge onto a more open portion of the trail. We breathed a sigh of relief. If we fell off the trail now, we’d simply need to be airlifted to an ICU. We wouldn’t become a surprise hood ornament.

I gave a little MEEP of happiness. It was time to turn around.

Number One hesitated.

“Let’s go,” I said.

She shook her head.

“Why not?”

“Because I kind of started crying on that last part.” Number One paused. “I can’t go back that way, Dad. I can’t be on the outside of that trail, on its edge. I can’t…” Her voice dropped.

My stiff legs ached from all the climbing over two days. I looked back. It was less than three miles of cliff hiking back to our car in the parking lot.

I looked forward. It was eight miles to the trail’s end. Six miles of further climbing over Haystack Pass to the Granite Park Chalet near the top of the Continental Divide.

Then two additional miles of straight down – 1,000 feet – to the road.

That’s the thing about hiking. When the legs are stiff and shot, it isn’t the climbing the hill that hurts. It’s the steep, relentless descent once you’re over the hill.

Her old man looked at her.

She offered an apologetic smile.

“Okay, then,” I said. “Looks like we’re going to kick the backside of the entire Highline Trail today.”

And we did.

Meeping all the way.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Crime in 33626: July 2018

Grand Theft—All Other

7/2

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud—Swindle

7/2

9900 Race Track Rd.

Shoplifting

7/2

W. Linebaugh Ave.

Petit Theft—All Other

7/3

12800 Twin Branch Acres Rd.

Aggravated Assault

7/5

13100 Race Track Rd.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

7/7

10100 Bennington Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

7/9

11800 Derbyshire Dr.

Health/Safety

7/9

11300 Countryway Blvd.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

7/9

10200 Newington Pl.

Warrant out of County

7/9

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

7/10

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Theft from a Building

7/10

9600 Tree Tops Lake Rd.

Petit Theft—All Other

7/10

10900 Countryway Blvd.

Fraud—Impersonation

7/11

14600 Turning Leaf Ct.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

7/12

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Business Robbery

7/12

W. Linebaugh Ave.

Battery—Simple

7/12

W. Linebaugh Ave.

Fraud—Impersonation

7/13

12600 Weston Dr.

Curtilage With Theft

7/13

11900 Wandsworth Dr.

Criminal Mischief Felony

7/19

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Obstruct—Police (Non-Violent)

7/20

W. Linebaugh Ave./ Sheldon Rd.

Suicide (Completed)

7/20

11400 Countryway Blvd.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

7/26

11700 Derbyshire Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

7/27

14600 Tudor Chase Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

7/29

South Mobley Rd./Gunn Hwy.

Theft Vehicle & Other Mobile

7/29

14500 Cotswolds Dr.

Battery—Simple

7/31

10600 Sheldon Rd.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Bailey!

Bailey is a 2½-year-old Chocolate English Labrador who lives with the Graves family in West Hampton. Bailey’s favorite two things are to take long walks every day with his momma or go to the beach to swim. If he can’t get to the beach, his personal pool will do.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW in Canada

A handful of local residents have recently traveled the beautiful mountains of Western Canada with WOW.

June found Chuck and Jennifer Hoppe of Radcliffe exploring the lakes and mountains of the Canadian province of British Columbia. Here they are pictured holding WOW on an observation deck overlooking the beautiful Squamish Valley.

The Squamish Valley lies near Vancouver in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The river valley, about 35 miles north of Vancouver, offers a beautiful view of the Coast Mountains, which lie along Canada’s Pacific coast. Just off the Sea to Sky Highway, the Squamish Valley is bookended by Tantalus Provincial Park and Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Vancouver is the famously beautiful Canadian town on the west coast, about 20 miles north of the U.S. border and Washington state. It lies on the Georgia Strait. It would be simple to combine a trip to both Vancouver, its beautiful island and mountains as well as Olympic National Park, just outside of Seattle.

June also found Ron and Susan Wilson of The Greens in the Canadian province of Alberta, which lies just east of British Columbia (Alberta borders the western half of Montana.) Alberta is famous for being the home of the Canadian Rockies as well as Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Susan Wilson is shown holding WOW outside the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, about 85 miles northeast of Calgary. The museum bills itself as the premier dinosaur museum in North America. The museum, dedicated to paleontology, opened in 1985. At 121,000 square feet, the museum features over 400,000 fossils, including 40 mounted dinosaur skeletons in its Dinosaur Hall.

The hall also features fossils from the Burgess Shale deposits, one of the most prolific fossil sites of the Cambrian Age, which occurred 500 million years ago. The deposits are found in Yoho National Park near Banff. Yoho features organized hikes with fossil hunts. While you won’t find dinosaurs in the Burgess Shale, the prehistoric obsessed kid in you will have a ball hunting for trilobites, hyolithids and brachiopods from what was once a great inland sea.

We thank the Hoppes and the Wilsons for sharing their Canadian adventures with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Fall Vacations!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your fall 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Thrilling Your Inner Lumberjack

My daughter was reluctant to come with me to throw axes.

Sure, she’d love to spend hours plotting ways to kill opponents on Fortnite. But suggest that we go throw an axe and you’d think I’d admitted to having serial killer tendencies.

But by Sunday afternoon, with no other plans offered to her, she agreed to accompany me.

Axe Throwing Tampa, which I learned about thanks to Groupon, is located in a non-descript office building on Memorial Highway. In fact, when we pulled into the parking lot, I was not sure we in the right place. Could you really throw axes inside? The answer is, yes, you can, and since the AC is cranked up high, it is a great way to escape from the hot, muggy Tampa weather.

Axe Throwing Tampa owner Kristi Collins said her family came across the idea while travelling in Canada and decided they wanted to open something similar. “We love to try out different activities when we travel,” she said. “Axe throwing has been popular in Canada for about 10 years.”

You can make a solo reservation or get a group of friends together. Axe Throwing Tampa can accommodate groups of up to 24 people and children as young as 8 years old are allowed to participate.

During the 90-minute session, an axe throwing expert will teach you how to throw the one-pound axes. “There is a two-handed technique and a one-handed technique,” said Axe Throwing Tampa manager Lee Sterling. “We start off with the basics and everyone gets to take turns throwing practice shots, then we play team games and end with a tournament. On the weekends we have a lot of couples and parents with their children. During the week it is mostly corporate groups coming in for a team building activity.”

Sterling helped us learn how to throw an axe. We were timid at first, maybe even a little scared that we’d drop it on our heads or somehow cause irreparable damage to the target board. After a few throws, however, we grew bolder and more confident and the activity became a lot of fun. You definitely get a feeling of accomplishment when you hear that axe whack the board – even my reluctant companion had a big grin on her face.

If you really get a handle on how to throw, they can even teach you trick shots like throwing two axes at one time or throwing one backwards. We’re not quite there yet but we did manage to hit the bull’s eye.

Axe Throwing Tampa
AxeThrowingTampa.com
5811 Memorial Highway, Suite 204
(813) 333-2935

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Newbies Get High Marks

In recent months, the Westchase area greeted two newbies: So Fresh and Grain & Berry.

Both are Tampa-area franchises that specialize in fresh ingredients and healthy eats.

First up is So Fresh. This casual spot opened a few months ago in the Publix shopping center alongside McDivot’s and features a variety of bowl, wrap, and salad options. Everything is cooked to order with fresh ingredients. There are plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.
Bowls are served hot and start at $11. They include a base (superfood, stir fry, barbeque, and skinny are among the options), and one protein (or you can stick with veggies). Wraps start at $8.25 and salads start at $10. The same concept applies: choose your base, then select a protein. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but you get what you pay for – fresh (and often organic) ingredients, made to order.

I’ll admit I wasn’t wowed by my selection (the power bowl, which features quinoa, brown rice, carrots, kale slaw, goat cheese, almonds, raisins, and homemade kale-basil pesto; I topped mine with chicken). It was … how do I put this nicely? Earthy is a good word. Pungent. A bit overpowering. Hard-core healthy eaters know the flavor, which, while distinctive, is not altogether bad. I think it’s an acquired taste.

My dining partner opted for the more mainstream Boca Fiesta wrap (cooked onions, corn, tomatoes, jalapenos, and mushrooms mixed with big gobs of goat cheese, spinach, and a sweet chili sauce. He topped it with chicken). It was a good size and quite tasty, if somewhat spicy for my tastes.

If nothing on the set menu strikes your fancy (or if you’re new to this whole healthy eating thing), you can create your own meal concoction. I like that So Fresh has this option. It makes it so much easier to find something you know you’ll like instead of taking a gamble on something that may be a bit foreign to your palate. Some of us clearly need to ease into it. 

I knew I had probably chosen poorly on my first visit, so I returned a few days later to try something different. I’m so glad I did. The Homemade Broth bowl was a savory soup stocked with all kinds of goodies (carrots, corn, onions, and zoodles) and was fantastic. I’ll admit it: I picked up the bowl and drank every last drop. My advice? Go.

Next up is Grain and Berry, which fills the space formerly occupied by Five Guys on Countryway Boulevard. This is not a café in the true sense of the word. There are no sandwiches or salads on the menu here. What is on the menu is frozen fruit-laden deliciousness. Acai bowls, pitaya (dragon fruit) bowls, kale bowls, oatmeal bowls, and yogurt bowls (and smoothies) round out the menu. Except for the oatmeal bowls, everything at Grain and Berry is served cold—think frozen yogurt but without the dairy (and a lot healthier). Much like So Fresh, you select the base you prefer and can choose from a set menu or create your own.

Word to the wise – you can totally share one of these bowls. They are huge. I tried the Carpe Diem option ($9.81; a little steep, but for two it’s not bad) based on my server’s suggestion and wasn’t disappointed. The pitaya base is topped with fresh strawberries, bananas, and granola, then drizzled with Nutella and peanut butter. De-lish.

My dining partner selected the Magic Dragon smoothie ($5.99; pitaya, peach, pineapple, OJ, strawberry and almond milk). Compared to the Carpe Diem, it was actually a bit bland.

Her words, “It was okay. Three out of five.”

Yet overall both Westchase newbies are healthy, fresh, local … five stars for both!

So Fresh
Lovesofresh.com
10712 Countryway Blvd., Unit 211.
Open daily, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Grain and Berry
grainandberry.com
11622 Countryway Blvd.
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

By Melanie Casey

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Big New Signs Prompt Sept. 22 Grand Reopening Sale

The Gazebo Bookstore finally has some big bold signs, worthy of the support it generates for the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library (MGL).

Although the bookstore, operated by the Friends of the Library, has lots of regular customers, at times it seems to be the best kept secret that we wish the community would share. Now everyone coming to the library can see that we are here.

Membership in the Friends isn’t required to shop in the store, but MGL benefits from both dues and sales. Both fund programs you and your children enjoy.

Did you know that that in June and July the MGL Friends spent nearly $6,000 for the summer reading and other youth programs?

As a way of celebrating new signage and terrific summer program participation, we are holding a Grand Reopening BOGO Sale on Saturday, Sept. 22.

• Friends members get private sale time from 10-11 a.m. You can join at the door.
• Individual dues are $10 for the calendar year; but during this event, membership will be extended through 2019.
• The sale opens to the public from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
• In addition, members and new members attending the sale will get a $2 Book Bucks Coupon that you can use immediately.

The bookstore has a wonderful selection of children’s books and most of those are typically $1 or less. Large paperbacks are typically $1.50, while small paperbacks are only 50 cents.

Due to an inability to staff the store continuously, sales are cash and on the honor system. However, for this particular sale we are trying to make credit card transactions a possibility.

Store inventory is generally in good to excellent condition. Most people who shop in the bookstore do end up making a purchase. Our goal is to increase the monthly sales volume so we can provide all of the programs your terrific librarians seek out, just for you!

If you have questions, you can contact me at FriendsMGL2017@gmail.com. We hope to see you on Sept. 22 and often afterwards.

By Bobbie Muir, President of the Friends

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Keystone Softball Players Among Members of World Series Team

When 14 girls were selected to be part of the Juniors All-Star Softball Team, little did they know the adventure that awaited.

The team consisted of players from Keystone, West Tampa and Bayshore little leagues. Representing Keystone were Sonya Stevenson, Saylor Clark, Laney Esposito, Charly James, Coach Jeff Park and Westchase’s own Avery DeAngelo and Erin Hamilton.

Their journey began in Tampa with a win at the district tournament, followed by sectionals in Crystal River, the state tournament in St. Augustine and regionals in Salisbury, N.C., where the team was named Southeast Regional Champions. From there, they headed to Kirkland, Wash. for the Little League World Series, which hosted six teams from the U.S and four international teams.

The team took part in four pool play games ending with a 3-1 record. Elimination games followed, where the team finished the World Series with an impressive 4-2 record.

While their performance at the World Series is impressive, it is the camaraderie that stands out for Coach Park. “It was amazing to see the girls bond so well considering we put this team together less than two weeks before their first tournament,” he said. “These girls formed a bond that will last a lifetime.”

“It was really cool to meet the teams from all over the world – Italy, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada, as well as the U.S. teams,” said Erin Hamilton of The Fords. “We felt very supported by our community, lots of family members and friends were watching our games on Facebook live and sending us messages. My grandparents and aunt were watching from Wales. It’s been a summer we’ll never forget!” 

“This summer has been the most eventful and best summer of my life. I’m so grateful to have been a part of this team and I will never forget any of these girls or coaches,” added Avery DeAngelo of The Bridges. “Each and every single player on the team was extremely talented in multiple ways. Going to the Junior League World Series was one of my dreams that I never believed could become a reality. Thanks to everyone who made this experience of a lifetime possible.”

Congratulations to all of the members of the Juniors All-Star Softball Team, their coaches and families!

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen Middle School Seeks Volunteers for New School Year

The Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts is gearing up for another successful year.

PTSA volunteers worked throughout the summer to plan numerous programs and events which will enhance the experience of every student, teacher and faculty member this year and we need more help! If you have one hour a week or one hour a year, we have a spot for you. Please complete and return the form in your first day packet or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Kathy Curé, at dmsvols@gmail.com for more information. All volunteers must complete the district’s YES Volunteer Application, which can be found at http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us under Volunteer Services.

Have you purchased your Davidsen PTSA Membership cards? Your membership dues help support all of the PTSA programs and events including Open House, Conference Nights, Eighth Grade Activities, Spirit Line, School Dances, Dragon Blast, Hospitality, sports concessions, Red Ribbon Week, National Honor Society, faculty grants, the banquet, art and music programs and so much more! An Individual Membership is $5; a Household Membership is $20. No volunteering is required. Please complete and return the form in your first day packet or visit http://www.davidsenptsa.org for more information.

Davidsen Dragons who want to “Dress for Success” can find approved uniform wear on the Spirit Line web site at http://www.davidsenuniforms.com All i.tems will be shipped to your home free of charge. Questions? E-mail spiritline@davidsenptsa.org

Do you have an Eighth Grade Dragon? Would you like to help with various activities and events throughout the year to celebrate their last year of middle school? Even if you can’t be present at events, there are plenty of “behind-the-scenes” volunteer opportunities. To volunteer or just remain informed regarding the eighth-grade activities, please complete and return the form in your first day packet or contact our Eighth Grade Committee Co-Chair, Sandy Anderson, at sandyandersonrph@att.net

The Davidsen PTSA is seeking 2018-2019 business partners. The Business Partnership program offers an opportunity for local businesses to promote their goods and services while supporting PTSA programs and events. For more information on sponsorship, see the brochure in your first day packet or contact co-chairs Kim Wiley or Tami Daniels at waysandmeans@davidsenptsa.org

Our 2018-19 Community Discount Cards are on sale now for $10. Support your school and receive discounts at area retail and restaurant establishments like Altitude Trampoline Arena, Burger 21, Bahama Bucks, Marina’s Pizza, PDQ and many more! To purchase your Community Discount Card, complete the form in your first day packet or contact waysandmeans@davidsenptsa.org

The walls of our cafeteria have been painted with faux bricks. Personalize a brick to honor a student, teacher, or staff member. Bricks are $10 each and can be ordered via the form included in your first day packet. 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 DATES

September

3     Labor Day: No school
10   PTSA Board Meeting, 8:15 a.m.

October

1    PTSA Board Meeting, 8:15 a.m.
18  Picture Day Retakes

By Carolyn Reynolds

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Real Estate Round Up: July 2018

Address

Sale Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full Baths

Half

Baths

Living Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9731 Meadow Field Cir. #0

268,000

13

136.66

3

3

0

1,961

N

9923 Stockbridge Dr.

270,000

85

138.04

3

2

0

1,956

N

10022 Bentley Way

292,000

68

196.24

3

2

1

1,488

N

12014 Deacons Croft Ln.

295,100

14

128.7

4

2

1

2,293

N

10007 Parley Dr.

300,000

25

201.61

3

2

1

1,488

N

10707 Spring Mountain Pl.

305,000

82

186.54

3

2

1

1,635

N

11601 Highbury Way

305,000

76

141.40

3

3

0

2,157

N

10404 Springrose Dr.

310,000

5

172.22

3

2

0

1,800

N

9862 Bridgeton Dr.

329,000

3

191.17

3

2

0

1,721

N

11907 Derbyshire Dr.

340,000

5

190.90

3

2

1

1,781

N

10114 Parley Dr.

348,000

42

177.55

3

2

0

1,960

N

12425 Seabrook Dr.

350,000

37

139.00

5

3

0

2,518

Y

10510 Rochester Way.

350,000

226

149.25

4

3

0

2,345

Y

9934 Stockbridge Dr.

352,500

26

182.26

4

2

0

1,934

N

10424 Lightner Bridge Dr.

360,000

48

170.62

4

2

0

2,110

N

11934 Derbyshire Dr.

383,000

4

189.98

4

2

0

2,016

Y

10510 Weybridge Dr.

390,000

7

169.57

4

2

0

2,300

N

10015 Parley Dr.

393,500

9

195.48

3

2

1

2,013

N

11929 Middlebury Dr.

400,000

22

140.55

4

3

0

2,846

Y

9804 Bayboro Bridge Dr.

401,000

133

142.86

4

3

0

2,807

Y

9974 Stockbridge Dr.

422,500

3

230.87

3

2

0

1,830

Y

10715 Tavistock Dr.

428,000

18

179.83

4

2

0

2,380

Y

12420 Seabrook Dr.

432,000

26

193.64

4

3

0

2,231

Y

10502 Castleford Way.

460,000

188

137.81

5

3

0

3,338

N

10519 Weybridge Dr.

464,900

4

206.90

4

3

0

2,247

Y

10508 Chelmsford Way.

475,000

32

150.79

5

4

0

3,150

Y

12409 Bristol Commons Cir.

479,900

6

182.75

4

3

0

2,626

Y

11801 Middlebury Dr.

547,500

12

222.47

4

3

0

2,461

Y

12014 Marblehead Dr.

570,000

143

180.04

4

3

1

3,166

Y

12113 Marblehead Dr.

577,500

20

172.59

4

3

1

3,346

Y

9818 W Park Village Dr.

607,000

1

176.71

5

3

1

3,435

N

12019 Brewster Dr.

745,000

83

204.28

4

3

1

3,647

Y

9818 Emerald Links Dr.

775,000

47

218.31

4

3

0

3,550

Y

Highland Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14634 Canopy Dr.

570,000

45

181.01

4

3

1

3,149

Y

14712 Canopy Dr.

490,000

5

126.81

5

5

0

3,864

Y

11560 Fountainhead Dr.

265,000

4

157.74

3

2

1

1,680

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11317 Minaret Dr.

485,000

194

145.38

4

3

1

3,336

Y

West Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12712 Stanwyck Cir.

505,000

18

163.32

4

3

0

3,092

Y

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12011 Mountbatten Dr.

355,000

31

182.80

3

2

0

1,942

Y

11416 Cypress Reserve Dr.

310,000

2

201.30

3

2

0

1,540

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12709 Westwood Lakes Blvd.

363,000

10

204.62

3

2

0

1,774

Y

14603 Coral Berry Dr.

470,000

0

179.46

4

3

0

2,619

Y

12735 Westwood Lakes Blvd.

317,500

38

176.19

4

2

0

1,802

N

Windsor Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11269 Windsor Place Cir.

242,900

62

144.33

2

2

1

1,683

N

Information Provided By Doug and Nancy Wood Of Smith & Associates

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Home of the Month: 9606 Woodbay Drive

Woodbay residents Rob and Lisa DiGiore turned an unintentional planting into a favorite hobby.

Lisa grew up with a green thumb. Raised on a horse farm in rural Maryland, she remembers trips to the co-op with her dad and spending time with him learning how to garden their acres of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and beans. She moved to Tampa in 2005 and married her husband Rob in 2012. In September 2013, they moved into their current Woodbay home, where they live with their two cats, Stache and Moose.

Last spring, after starting a compost bin from the remains of leftover fruits and vegetables from juicing, they noticed a tomato plant beginning to sprout. They re-planted it and it soon began to grow. Though it wasn’t intentional, they were intrigued and were eager to see what else they could plant.

They had a large space on the side of their yard that they had been trying to think of a use for. Since it was in an area that got lots of sun, they redirected some of their irrigation, and with the help of Lisa’s dad, built some raised garden beds and began planting.

With both Rob and Lisa being from up north (Rob moved from Buffalo, N.Y. to Gainesville in 2003), they found gardening in Florida to be easier than back home since the threat of freezing is much lower here.

Though they enjoyed it, there was still a lot to learn, such as knowing how much space each plant needs and which plants go well next to each other, known as companion planting. They also discovered that it’s become much harder to keep up their garden in the summer due to the rain and extreme heat. Of course, keeping pests away is always a pain. Because of this, one big piece of advice they have for others wanting to grow a garden is to start small and only plant what you’ll use so you won’t get overwhelmed.

Challenges aside, they love growing their own vegetables. “The convenience of growing your own herbs and vegetables is great,” Lisa said, “You also gain more appreciation of the work that goes into the produce you see in the stores.”

All of their plants are grown organically, using no chemicals. Currently, they have tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, peppers, beans, beets, carrots, eggplant, avocados, and their favorite, kale. Although they are most proud of their vegetable garden, they also have an array of plants and flowers sprinkled throughout their yard. A passion flower vine that started from a small plant Lisa purchased last spring has since taken over a large space on their back gate. The unique, bright purple blooms have become one of their favorite flowers in the yard.

Though keeping up with the maintenance of not only their backyard, but also the front of their house can be quite the effort, seeing the beauty of all the hard work that has gone into it makes it clear that those efforts have definitely paid off.

One note, however, Hillsborough County strongly recommends against using reclaimed water to water vegetables or eating vegetables grown with reclaimed water. Use clean, potable water instead.

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

Know a home that should be featured here? Send its street address to Brie Gorecki at brie.gorecki@gmail.com.

Plant of the Month: Passion Flower Vine

Passion flower vines are best known for their complex purple blooms, and its parts are said to represent the Passion of the Christ. They thrive in warmer climate and can grow up to 25-feet tall and 72-inches wide.

By Brie Gorecki

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Passion for Beer

A passion for beer and a love for Safety Harbor is behind Crooked Thumb Brewery.

They inspired Westchase residents Kip and Sherri Kelly to open the brewery three years ago along with co-founder, Travis Kruger.

Nestled along an oak-lined street, the brewery has brought the craft beer scene to life in Safety Harbor. Since opening its doors in October 2015, Crooked Thumb’s success has been on an upward spiral. From the unique atmosphere of their beer garden, distinctive events, and of course, their fantastic beers, it’s not hard to see how they’ve solidified their place as one of the best breweries in the area.

Named for Pinellas County, which is said to “hang off the west coast like a crooked thumb,” they spent their first year open to the public on weekends only. As their popularity grew, by October 2016, their doors opened seven days a week.

With the support of local breweries on the rise, faces of local customers became familiar and Crooked Thumb developed a community-like atmosphere. “By people supporting local breweries, it allows us to know our customers better,” Sherri stated. She also credited the brewery’s success to her amazing staff. “The same people who started with us are still here,” she said.

Originally built as an auto body shop in 1963, Crooked Thumb features local salvaged materials used to renovate the space, giving it a rustic ambiance that’s laid-back and inviting. You can even catch their brewery cats – Luka, Leia, and Vader – roaming around to greet patrons.

Running a local brewery is a collaborative effort, as is coming up with names and styles of all the beers they brew. After Hurricane Irma swept through last year, Kip was inspired by “Rule #7,” a saying made famous by local meteorologist, Denis Phillips. On Oct. 4, Rule #7 Saison was offered on tap and became a hit, with Phillips himself boasting about it on social media. On May 27, just before the start of the 2018 hurricane season, the beers were canned and sold at the brewery. Phillips showed up for the release party, donning his signature suspenders and tie, which was the inspiration for the design on the can. The cans sold out within four hours, but Sherri hinted that we might see them again next year when the 2019 hurricane season begins.

If you weren’t lucky enough to get your hands on the Rule #7 Saison, there are still plenty of amazing brews from which to choose. Their best selling beer, Harbor Lager, named after Safety Harbor, is a traditional Vienna lager that took home the silver medal for the lager category during the 2018 Tampa Bay Beer Week. Their Grandpa Jack’s Pils (which Sherri named for her grandfather) also took home the silver medal in the pilsner category in 2016 and can be found on tap and in stores along with their Shade Tree IPA, and Florida Grapefruit Gose, which is also named in honor of Safety Harbor, birthplace of the grapefruit.

One perk of running a local brewery is being able to put on lots of events, something that you won’t find regularly at mainstream bars. Ever wondered what your favorite Girl Scout cookie would taste like as a beer? Their Girl Scout Cookie Beer Release is held every February and features four beers inspired by several beloved cookie flavors. As a lifetime Samoa fan, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed by their Chocolate Coconut Doppelbock.

Their most popular event is their Oktoberfest, which is being held Sept. 28-30. The event gives off a true German feel with live music, German food, games, and several freshly brewed German beers on tap. Patrons are even encouraged to come dressed in lederhosen.

Another event that’s close to their hearts is the Drink Pink event. Going on its third year, it will be held on Oct. 13. Kip began this event in honor of his mother, who passed away from cancer. Its proceeds go to the Mammography Voucher Program. A special seasonal pink beer – a berry Berliner – will be brewed and sold on tap and in stores.

Crooked Thumb is a must-visit for any beer lover. They welcome both kids and dogs, making them the ultimate family-friendly brewery. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with new beer releases and events.

And, of course, make sure you go say hi to the cats.

By Brie Gorecki

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Navigating the Path the College

“College is harder to get into these days than it used to be,” is common refrain uttered by high school students and their parents.

According to educational consultant and Brentford resident, Colleen Smith, it’s true.

“Schools are much more competitive than they were 10 years ago,” Smith said. “I tell my students, ‘If your dad or aunt were trying to apply today, the chances they would be accepted are much slimmer.’”

Smith added that the internet is one cause of the increase in competitiveness since it makes it easier for students to apply to any school. However, she said there is no reason to despair. “Anyone who wants to go to college, can go to college for a reasonable cost.”

She also pointed out that there is more scholarship money out there than many realize. Smith helps students and their families navigate the often tricky and typically stressful decision of which college to go to and more importantly how to get in.

Before opening August & Ivy Educational Consulting three years ago, she worked for 12 years as director of counseling, admissions and financial aid at boarding and private schools in Southborough and Brookline, Mass., and Clearwater, Fla.

Each year Smith visits more than 25 colleges and attends two national conferences to meet with admissions officers. “I try to know as much about a university as I can,” she said. “I talk to the admissions office about the area and public transportation, what it’s like to live on campus. Anyone can look at a list of majors to see what is offered but my goal is to know as much as possible, so I can help find the right fit.”

Part of that knowledge includes knowing about unique programs that students might enjoy. “Many students are deciding to do co-op programs. You are on campus for six months and then go to a work-study program or internship for six months. It works well for kids who are entrepreneurs and like change.”

When students come to Smith, she helps them plan their high school curriculum to make sure they have the credits needed to get into the schools they are interested in. She also helps them make their prospective school list, pointing out that a good list should have, “lots of realistic schools and one pie in the sky school.”

As the application process begins, she helps students stay on top of deadlines and craft application essays. “We spend a lot of time on writing. I know what schools are looking for and help kids develop an essay that will be authentic to them and will help them get into the school.”

Smith also helps families with the whole process of visiting schools, setting up tours and knowing the right questions to ask along the way. “I take the stress and mystery out of the process. If kids come to me early enough, they are finished with everything before their senior year. Ideally, we check in at the beginning of their junior year, but I have had some start in their sophomore year.”

Based on her experience, here are a few tips from Smith concerning the college search and application process:

• Be mindful of curriculum starting your freshman year of high school. Smith said, “Pick the most challenging classes you can do well in.” She pointed out that this does not mean you have to pick all honors or all AP classes. “It is better to get As in regular classes than Bs in honors.”
• Pick a few activities you can stick with for four years because it shows commitment and longevity. Smith said she absolutely encourages students to try different things in high school but if you’ve been playing soccer since you were four, your junior year of high school is not the time to decide you want to quit. For those with middle school students she said any activity started the summer of your child’s freshman year can go on his or her resume.
• Try to find volunteer work you enjoy and can do on a regular basis. “Every college knows that volunteer hours are required in schools now,” Smith said. “When you do one hour here and one hour there, it says you are just checking a box and don’t necessarily care about community service.”
• Show leadership skills. Smith encourages students to do something to hone their leadership skills. Whether it is serving as captain of a sports team, president of a club or head of a fundraising effort colleges will be looking for that.

Smith’s main tip for parents is to talk to your child about college affordability well before 11th grade. “It is a sensitive but very important conversation,” she said. “You don’t want your child to fall in love with a school that you cannot afford to send them to.”

Along those same lines, Smith said everyone should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) even if you don’t thing you qualify for anything. Many schools won’t give merit scholarships without the FAFSA information.

By Marcy Sanford

For more information about August & Ivy Educational Consulting visit http://www.AugustAndIvy.org<./p>

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.