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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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>

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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.

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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

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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.”

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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/

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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
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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
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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

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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
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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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>

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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>

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New Start Times Pose Challenges for High Schools

While some students are overjoyed at getting another hour of sleep, the new Hillsborough County Public Schools high school bell schedules have created some concerns for the principals at Alonso and Sickles.

Last year, parents who participated in a poll voted to move the high school start times from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30, a recommendation that was approved by the Hillsborough County School Board. Alonso principal Kenneth Hart and Sickles principal Mary Freitas acknowledge that the extra time can be beneficial because studies have consistently shown that high-school students need additional sleep.

“But every time you change the schedule, it can bring about some other changes and we anticipated some potential issues,’’ Freitas said.

“While our school schedule has changed, the schedules of mom and pop haven’t changed,’’ Hart said. “They still have to be to work at 8 o’clock. They still have to drive to South Tampa. In some cases, there’s a real scramble.’’

On the first day of school (Aug. 10), Hart said he reached his Alonso parking space at 6:25 a.m. He noticed there already was a student waiting.

“The student said, ‘My mom had to drop me off because she has to get to work,’ ‘’ Hart said. “They were unaware that the school day began at 8:30, even though it has been talked about and widely published.

“And this early arrival wasn’t an isolated incident.’’

Hart said the custodial staff reported about 100 students on Alonso’s campus before 7 a.m.—some 90 minutes before the opening bell.

“They were well behaved, but they were there, sitting in the dark on our planters and we simply can’t have that,’’ Hart said. “We simply don’t have any supervision for that.’’

The contract negotiated by the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association allows for an eight-hour workday (approximately 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., just past the final bell).

Hart said it’s acceptable for students to arrive on Alonso’s campus after 7:30 a.m., giving them an hour before the first bell.

Otherwise, he said students must find alternate travel plans, including riding a school bus, if their parents have an unbending work schedule.

“We have a lot of students on this campus and sometimes you feel more like that mayor of a city than a principal,’’ Hart said. “It’s getting people here on time, getting them from place to place, finding a way to feed them over three lunch periods.

“It’s a lot of logistics. We do need the help and cooperation from our parents in order to make it all work.’’

Hart and Freitas—along with principals at every school—have ongoing issues regarding tardies from students who lag behind while navigating the five-minute transition between classes.

Hart said that problem has been expanded because on the new bell schedule. Last school year, the classes were 55 minutes long. Now they are 47 minutes.

“We are covering the same material in less time, which we can do, but having kids consistently late to class is something we cannot have,’’ Hart said.

At Alonso, it’s an even bigger issue because moving from the 900 building (on Alonso’s far southeast corner) to the other side of campus is challenging in a five-minute span. Alonso has allowed students in the 900 building to get a two-minute “head start’’ in order to efficiently reach a distant outpost.

“The time has collapsed and now we’re down to a bare minimum number of minutes (in a class),’’ Hart said. “It’s OK. We can catch up. But we have to be on point. It’s important for kids to be on time for class.

“We have been highly visible with this. We’re encouraging kids to know that our campus is too large to not walk with a purpose. What is your purpose? It’s to get to that next classroom. It’s not to talk to your girlfriend, to argue with your boyfriend, to move slowly. This is not an issue unique to Alonso, Sickles or any high school.’’

Hart said he and his administration were “stunned and shocked’’ that parents wanted to start school at 8:30 a.m.

By Joey Johnston

“We actually thought people would want to start slightly earlier and get out earlier,’’ Hart said. “When the results came out, they (School District) warned us to ‘be prepared for a surprise.’ We’re going to make this work, but the decision for the most part has created some residual challenges we all must overcome.’’

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

Bubble wrap: the new duct tape.

Everyone thinks you can use duct tape for everything. But when is the last time a bunch of kids enjoying sitting around trying to pop duct tape?

If you can make a bow tie out of duct tape, you can make an even more popular bow tie out of bubble wrap.

Is the fender falling off your child’s college car? Sure, you can be like everyone else and duct tape it on. But their car will be far more popular – and safer -- if you just wrap the entire car in bubble wrap.

In fact, just wrap your entire child up in bubble wrap and stick them in their bubble wrapped car. In a bad accident, they’ll likely just ping off the other vehicle like a soccer ball and wind up in low earth orbit.

See? You already feel a whole lot better about the whole going-away-to college thing, don’t you?

At least that’s the theory behind August’s fabulous fakery. Flubble Bubble on page 69 is the new bubble wrap built to encase your home in the event of a hurricane. And while this additional potential feature has not been tested by any Miami-Dade testers yet, Flubble Bubble may also conveniently serve as a gigantic house floatie in the case of storm surge.

Post storm clean-up is also easy, convenient and fun. Just have the neighborhood kids attack your house.

Sorry to pop the bubbles of this month’s unwinners, but we congratulate the actual lucky Fake Ad Contest winner, Shalini Matos of Highland Park. Because the fake ad gods randomly selected Shalini’s correct fake ad guess, she’ll enjoy a very real dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Forest Lakes Boulevard Widening and Reconstruction Slated for Fall

The project will extend along Forest Lakes Boulevard from West of Pine Avenue to West of Race Track Road.

According to Project Engineer Erin Lawson, the widening project is necessary to increase road capacity. “The level of service was getting into the ‘D’ range,” she stated. The grade refers to the A through F qualitative measure used to analyze roads based on traffic flow and volume.

Work will begin as early as October and last 30 months. Some road areas will undergo full reconstruction due to an unsuitable soil base. In these areas, the existing road will be excavated and removed to a depth of three feet or more. Soil replacement along with the installation of new underdrains and pipes will help improve drainage. “This will offer a nice, solid foundation that will increase the longevity of the road,” Lawson stated.

Milling and resurfacing will occur on the balance of the road.

The roadway improvements will provide an additional 11-foot lane in each direction, upgrading Forest Lakes Boulevard from a two-lane to a four-lane suburban divided roadway. Plans also call for a five-foot paved shoulder that can be utilized as a bike lane. Some areas will see new sidewalk construction or repairs. The project also encompasses upgrading existing signalized intersections at Pine Avenue and Brooker Creek Boulevard.

According to project plans, existing traffic patterns will be maintained for the duration of construction by shifting lanes to the north side while construction is underway on the south side and vice-versa. Intersection construction will require detours for one direction only and intermittent nighttime-only lane closures will be utilized throughout the project.

Once completed, the new four lane road will inevitably funnel more cars across the Pinellas/Hillsborough line at the intersection of Racetrack Road and Linebaugh Avenue, where the road will once again narrow down to two lanes. When asked about potential plans to widen the section of Linebaugh Avenue between Racetrack Road and Countryway Boulevard, Hillsborough County staff stated, “Linebaugh is planned to be widened to four lanes in the future; however, that is not part of the current ten-year plan.”

Funding for the Forest Lakes Boulevard widening and reconstruction project is under the Penny for Pinellas program, with partial funding from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) through a County Incentive Grant Agreement.

By Karen Ring

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Westchase Elementary Curriculum Night Sept. 6

Westchase Elementary welcomed new and returning Wizards back to school on Aug. 10. Former Vice Principal, Elise Saurez, returned to the school in her new role as principal. The Wizards welcomed Mike Miller as the new vice principal.

Administrators, faculty and volunteers were hard at work over the summer beautifying the campus inside and out to prepare for the big day. There is even a new hand-painted mural in the office by Mrs. Anderson, our art teacher! Westchase faculty and staff continue with their theme of “Anchored in Excellence,” with a focus of every child getting what the need to be successful.

Parents will get the opportunity to visit their child’s classroom to learn more about curriculum and resources during Westchase Elementary’s Curriculum Night on Sept. 6. Parents with students in Kindergarten through Grade 2 will attend from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Parents with students in Grades 3 through 5 will attend from 5 to 6:10 p.m. The purpose of this event is to enhance communication between teachers and families and to provide a more in-depth view of life in their child’s classroom. Some of the potential topics are Common Core Standards, Classroom Resources, Subject Overviews and Assessments and Grading.

Another great Wizard Walk kicks off Sept. 17. Last year students did an amazing job raising money to improve this wonderful school. The funds from last year went to updating technology. Funds purchased several laptop carts and smart projectors for some of the classrooms. Having cutting edge technology at the school will help students reach even greater heights.

This year the school hopes to raise money to get smart projectors in every classroom and to build a covered court for the second P.E. class. Seventy-five percent of funds raised will be allocated to technology and 25 percent toward the covered court in hopes it can be built soon. If you are a business partner that wants to help or are aware of a business partner that could help, please reach out the Westchase PTA at sponsorships@westchasepta.org. The school is grateful for any support!

The 2018-19 Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Membership Drive has begun and is available online at http://westchasetampafl.ptaptsa.org/ Indiv.idual Memberships are $8 and Family Memberships are $20. PTA membership comes with some great community and national discounts. The best part is that proceeds directly benefit your child through the programs the PTA supports. After School Enrichment (ASE), Holiday Shop, family movie nights, Junior Achievement and Yearbook are just a few of the over 25 programs supported by the PTA.

What can you do to get involved? Lots of opportunities exist to get involved in the PTA and school events throughout the year. Whether you have 30 minutes to give on a project you can do from home or you want to lead a committee, no contribution of time, talent or treasure is too small. Helping hands are always needed and appreciated!
Watch for your perfect opportunity to lend a helping hand! Please also consider supporting programs such as Box Tops, Wizard Walk, Yearbooks, Spirit Sticks and the Holiday Shop.

Please visit the PTA website at http://www.westchasepta.org to keep connected. There you’ll find Wizard News, teacher information, upcoming events, our Spirit Line shop and other ways to get involved.

Cover all the bases by following the Westchase PTA on Facebook and Westchase Elementary on Twitter. In an attempt to go green, all monthly newsletters will be electronic this year.

Important Westchase September Events

5-9 Fall ASE Online Registration
6 Curriculum Night: K-2, 3:30-4:30 p.m.; Grades 3-5, 5-6:10 p.m. in Student’s Classroom
7 Grandparents Read to Me Breakfast  
11 Fifth Grade Committee Meeting
11 Painting with a Twist Fundraiser
13 STEM Night
17  Wizard Walk Kick-off
17 Red Ribbon Week
19/20 Fall ASE begins
27 Wizard Walk

By Clare Himes

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Beer From Around Here

There’s no truer phrase when it comes to describing the beers brewed by Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

In 1994 John Doble, III, had a vision that has led to the family-owned operation becoming one of the most prominent breweries in Tampa. Originally opening a brewery in Ybor City 21 years ago, they recently made their home base in the Westchase area and have since become one of the most beloved additions to the neighborhood.

John, known as John Jr., had an entrepreneurial spirit. His family ran several businesses, including a home brewing shop called Brew Shack in 1993. After witnessing its success, he had the itch to start something new and became inspired to open a brewery. A few days before Gasparilla in 1997, along with his parents, John and Vicki, and his brother Dave, Tampa Bay Brewing Company (also known as TBBC) opened on North 15th Street in Ybor. Business boomed. They had 8-12 beers steadily on tap and were one of the first breweries to serve cask ales.

Their core eight beers were designed to appease everyone’s tastes, but since the craft brewery scene was still relatively new to the area, adding liquor to their menu helped draw larger crowds. They also did something that set them apart from other breweries – they served food. After several years, they outgrew the space and moved to Centro Ybor in 2006, where they currently reside.

John Jr. passed away in 2003, but the Doble family was committed to ensuring that his dream would continue. They worked hard to keep his vision in place and strived to make TBBC more successful than ever. Running a brewery can have its challenges, though Dave recalls one incident than made the effort worthwhile. While attending the Craft Beer Conference in 2011, he was recognized and complimented by Chris Katechis, founder of Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery, the first craft brewery to can craft beers sold nationwide. That moment led Dave to realize the hard work had paid off.

That’s not the only recognition they’d get.

It’s a collaborative effort to come up with their beers, which they describe as flavorful, hop-centric brews inspired by local flavors. They’ve won their fair share of awards over the years (today they average 25 to 30 awards a year), but are most proud of winning the 2014 Great American Beer Fest Bronze Medal in the Pale Ale category for their Reef Donkey American Pale Ale, and the 2017 U.S. Beer Tasting Championship awards for Grand Champion, Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer for their Dixie Dirt Imperial Stout, and Gold Medal and Best IPA in the Southeast for their Old Elephant Foot IPA. Reef Donkey, their best-selling beer, is the official beer of King of the Beach, one of the largest kingfish tournaments in Florida, and the St. Pete Open, the world’s largest spearfishing tournament. Their beers have been featured in the media, locally and nationally, with Dave and Al Roker even sharing a few beers during a Today Show segment in 2009.

Though they’re known for the beer, having a full menu gives them a bonus that other breweries don’t have. Most of their food is beer-infused with their own brews. We’re not talking about your typical bar snacks. Food Network’s Guy Fieri even featured TBBC on an episode of his show, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” raving about their meatloaf, wings, mussels, and burger “bomb” – a half-pound bacon cheddar burger wrapped in pizza dough.

Since opening their Westchase location on Racetrack Road in 2014, TBBC has been able to utilize the space, hosting several on-site beer fests during the year, which include tons of other local breweries. Their biggest one, the Bad A** Beer Fest, is held every April. The Fall Beer Fest, returning this November, features seasonal beers, including their popular Gourds Gone Wild, which might be one of the best pumpkin beers you’ll taste.

With the rising success of TBBC, the Doble family knows that John Jr.’s dream is still going strong. Recognizing how heavy his impact was on the craft brewing industry, the Florida Brewer’s Guild established the John Doble III Memorial Scholarship in 2004, which provides full tuition for a future brewer to attend the Brewing Technology course at the Siebel Institute of Technology, where John Jr. attended.

Thanks to John Doble’s inspiration and dedication, his legacy lives on. And TBBC has clearly earned its title as one of the best breweries around.

By Brie Gorecki; Photo By James Broome Photography

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WCA Board Hires New Swim Team Company; Declines Consideration of Charity Tennis Tournament

At their Sept. 6 board meeting, WCA Directors decided to temporarily hire a new company to oversee the Westchase swim team and declined to approve a charity tennis tournament.

Changes to the Swim Program: About 10 residents attended the Westchase Community Association (WCA) September Board of Directors to speak during the open forum. Many had attended the previous evening’s contentious meeting when WCA President Ruben Collazo announced that the association would be replacing Coach Alex Richardson and his TBAC club with Pipeline Swimming.

Overall parents said they were supportive of Richardson and upset about the process in which he was removed and the new program put in place. “It was rash to decide which program you were going to use without talking to families and getting bids from vendors,” said Greens resident Tracy Christensen. “We would like some input as to what we would like in place and to see that you’ve looked at other vendors and teams.”

Greens resident Jason Weir said, “My daughter has been swimming with the program for one year since we moved here from Chicago. We need to keep a program in place. We moved here because of the program. I think Alex is a great guy and hope you’ll make the right decision.”

Later in the meeting Director Joaquin Arrillaga made a motion to accept the contract with Pipeline (which would be in effect through Dec. 31) with the caveat that the WCA look for another more permanent company with help from a committee of residents.

Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover, who has two children who participate in the swim program said, “I asked Ruben to let me talk since I am in a unique position of being on the board and being a swim parent. I’m sorry, but Alex is not being rehired.” He went on to say that he struggled with wanting parents to know enough to feel comfortable with the board’s decision but not sharing too much personal information. “When the board asked me as a swim parent what to do, I said, ‘We cannot shut the program down,’ We spent a lot of time trying to make sure that Pipeline is someone we’d be comfortable with for the short term.”

Baumhover said he’d like to see a committee formed to help the board decide which program they should go with beginning in January. Christensen said, “If we’d heard this last night instead of giving the floor to a new club, things would have gone a lot smoother.”

“My daughter is finishing up her senior year and will not swim with Pipeline,” said Vineyards resident Ann Parker. “You’ve already lost the older kids because at their level, they had to go ahead and find another program.”  Parker, however, she said that she would be happy to volunteer to make the program stronger and get more parents involved.

All directors voted in favor of Arrillaga’s motion.

Budget Approved: All director voted to approve the 2019 WCA budget which will reduce residents’ assessments by $1, from $275 to $274.

Davidsen Middle School Dismissal Traffic: Director Rick Goldstein, who also serves as Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair, reported that Hillsborough County had completed their traffic study of the intersection at Montague Street and Linebaugh Avenue and that they had adjusted the timing of the stop light in the afternoon during Davidsen Middle School’s dismissal. He said this should help with congestion on Montague in the afternoon but pointed out that Linebaugh would likely continue to have congestion issues until the median work further down the street was complete. He nominated Tania Baumhover to be a member of the GAC Committee and all directors voted in favor of her nomination.

Homeowner Appeals: Directors agreed to give a Greens homeowner until the end of the month to fix the painted walkway at his house. The homeowner said that the walkway issue was uncovered when he was taking care of a tree violation. He asked why, since the sidewalk had been painted before he bought the house, had the previous homeowners not had to fix the violation. “I don’t see how this is my responsibility. I will fix it but don’t think I should be responsible for a past mistake.”

Director Brian Ross suggested that the area had not been visible from the street because of the previous homeowner’s landscaping. Directors all voted in favor of rescinding 90 percent of the fine and reinstating the homeowner’s use of the facilities as long as the violation was corrected and 10 percent of the fine paid by Oct. 11.

Garage Sale Signs Available: “I’ve had various neighbors ask about the garage sale signs you used to be able to pick up at the swim and tennis center and put on Linebaugh or Countryway to promote the garage sale,” said Board Secretary Keith Heinemann. He asked if it was possible to do that again. All voted in favor of Arrillaga’s motion to allow Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz to spend up to $250 for two signs per village. 

Tennis Tournament Request Denied: Collazo turned the end of the meeting over to Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock, saying that she had requested the Westchase Open Tennis Tournament be put on the agenda. “I’d like to make a motion for the tournament to be allowed and to continue with the [Westchase Open] trademark turned over to the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), who will run the tournament as they see fit and I volunteer to be the go between for the board and the WCF,” said Wait-Woodcock.

However, no one on the board seconded her motion and so it died. WCF President Sean O’Donnell departed the meeting in frustration.

In a subsequent outburst that caused WCA Director Rick Goldstein to threaten to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Radcliffe resident Eric Pogue, one of the main organizers for the 2018 tournament, expressed his disbelieve and dismay that the board would kill the tournament. “You’re upset because we trademarked the event and you don’t like me. All I want to do is raise money for charity. I don’t understand,” he said.

A WCF recipient who was in the audience in support of the tournament said, “I’m a single mother with a disabled child. The WCF supported me and helped me. You talk about community. but they are what community is about.”

When WOW followed up on the matter after the meeting, WCA President Ruben Collazo stated that the association would welcome the opportunity to hold a charity tennis tournament in conjunction with the WCF but was unwilling to do so under the event’s current organizers. When WOW discussed the matter with O’Donnell, he confirmed the offer.

By Marcy Sanford and Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Sept. 8, 2018

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WCA Board Hires New Swim Team Company; Declines Consideration of Charity Tennis Tournament

At their Sept. 6 board meeting, WCA Directors decided to temporarily hire a new company to oversee the Westchase swim team and declined to approve a charity tennis tournament.

Changes to the Swim Program: About 10 residents attended the Westchase Community Association (WCA) September Board of Directors to speak during the open forum. Many had attended the previous evening’s contentious meeting when WCA President Ruben Collazo announced that the association would be replacing Coach Alex Richardson and his TBAC club with Pipeline Swimming.

Overall parents said they were supportive of Richardson and upset about the process in which he was removed and the new program put in place. “It was rash to decide which program you were going to use without talking to families and getting bids from vendors,” said Greens resident Tracy Christensen. “We would like some input as to what we would like in place and to see that you’ve looked at other vendors and teams.”

Greens resident Jason Weir said, “My daughter has been swimming with the program for one year since we moved here from Chicago. We need to keep a program in place. We moved here because of the program. I think Alex is a great guy and hope you’ll make the right decision.”

Later in the meeting Director Joaquin Arrillaga made a motion to accept the contract with Pipeline (which would be in effect through Dec. 31) with the caveat that the WCA look for another more permanent company in the new year with help from a committee of residents.

Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover, who has two children who participate in the swim program said, “I asked Ruben to let me talk since I am in a unique position of being on the board and being a swim parent. I’m sorry, but Alex is not being rehired.” He went on to say that he struggled with wanting parents to know enough to feel comfortable with the board’s decision but not sharing too much personal information. “When the board asked me as a swim parent what to do, I said, ‘We cannot shut the program down,’ We spent a lot of time trying to make sure that Pipeline is someone we’d be comfortable with for the short term.”

Baumhover said he’d like to see a committee formed to help the board decide which program they should go with beginning in January. Christensen said, “If we’d heard this last night instead of giving the floor to a new club, things would have gone a lot smoother.”

“My daughter is finishing up her senior year and will not swim with Pipeline,” said Vineyards resident Ann Parker. “You’ve already lost the older kids because at their level, they had to go ahead and find another program.”  Parker, however, she said that she would be happy to volunteer to make the program stronger and get more parents involved.

All directors voted in favor of Arrillaga’s motion.

Budget Approved: All director voted to approve the 2019 WCA budget which will reduce residents’ assessments by $1, from $275 to $274.

Davidsen Middle School Dismissal Traffic: Director Rick Goldstein, who also serves as Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair, reported that Hillsborough County had completed their traffic study of the intersection at Montague Street and Linebaugh Avenue and that they had adjusted the timing of the stop light in the afternoon during Davidsen Middle School’s dismissal. He said this should help with congestion on Montague in the afternoon but pointed out that Linebaugh would likely continue to have congestion issues until the median work further down the street was complete. He nominated Tania Baumhover to be a member of the GAC Committee and all directors voted in favor of her nomination.

Homeowner Appeals: Directors agreed to give a Greens homeowner until the end of the month to fix the painted walkway at his house. The homeowner said that the walkway issue was uncovered when he was taking care of a tree violation. He asked why, since the sidewalk had been painted before he bought the house, had the previous homeowners not had to fix the violation. “I don’t see how this is my responsibility. I will fix it but don’t think I should be responsible for a past mistake.”

Director Brian Ross suggested that the area had not been visible from the street because of the previous homeowner’s landscaping. Directors all voted in favor of rescinding 90 percent of the fine and reinstating the homeowner’s use of the facilities as long as the violation was corrected and 10 percent of the fine paid by Oct. 11.

Garage Sale Signs Available: “I’ve had various neighbors ask about the garage sale signs you used to be able to pick up at the swim and tennis center and put on Linebaugh or Countryway to promote the garage sale,” said Board Secretary Keith Heinemann. He asked if it was possible to do that again. All voted in favor of Arrillaga’s motion to allow Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz to spend up to $250 for two signs per village. 

Tennis Tournament Request Denied: Collazo turned the end of the meeting over to Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock, saying that she had requested the Westchase Open Tennis Tournament be put on the agenda. “I’d like to make a motion for the tournament to be allowed and to continue with the trademark turned over to the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), who will run the tournament as they see fit and I volunteer to be the go between for the board and the WCF,” said Wait-Woodcock.

However, no one on the board seconded her motion and so it died. WCF President Sean O’Donnell also departed the meeting in frustration.

In a subsequent outburst that caused WCA Director Rick Goldstein to threaten to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Radcliffe resident Eric Pogue, one of the main organizers for the 2018 tournament, expressed his disbelief and dismay that the board would kill the tournament. “You’re upset because we trademarked the event and you don’t like me. All I want to do is raise money for charity. I don’t understand,” he said.

A WCF recipient who was in the audience in support of the tournament said, “I’m a single mother with a disabled child. The WCF supported me and helped me. You talk about community. but they are what community is about.”

When WOW followed up on the matter after the meeting, WCA President Ruben Collazo stated that the association would welcome the opportunity to hold a charity tennis tournament in conjunction with the WCF but was unwilling to do so under the event’s current organizers. When WOW discussed the matter with O’Donnell, he confirmed the offer.

By Marcy Sanford and Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Sept. 8, 2018

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WCA Swim Coach Facing Removal

An angry, frustrated crowd of Westchase swim team members and their parents descended on the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Sept. 5.

They were looking for an explanation why Coach Alex Richardson had disappeared from the pool deck two weeks prior. Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo greeted the filled activity room. “We’re not looking backward,” he said. “We’re not discussing the past or how we got to this point.”

Instead Collazo introduced Patrick and Kim Piper of Pipeline Swimming, who introduced the club as replacing Coach Alex Richardson’s current TBAC club. Both briefly spoke and introduced Pipeline and its philosophy. Yet when they opened the floor to questions, parents made clear they absolutely did want to discuss how the WCA had gotten to this point.

Parents grilled Collazo about the lack of communication and the association’s failure to consult with them on a replacement team. Foremost, they made clear their support for Coach Richardson and demanded to know what he had done to prompt his removal.

And while board members privately acknowledged that the coach had not been accused of any legal impropriety, Collazo would not share the association’s reasons with parents. “We do not discuss personnel matters in public,” said Collazo, emphasizing it was on the advice of the association’s attorney.

“You can’t treat us like that,” one father called out.

“I have a legal, moral and ethical obligation to not violate privacy,” Collazo countered.

Collazo’s only hint at the problem came when he added, “We feel we need to make a transition to an arrangement that is more professionally done.”

Several parents then spoke, accusing the association of mishandling the matter and defending Richardson. “I understand that valuable input. Thank you,” said Collazo.

Parents responded with hooting and laughter.

Addressing other questions and parents’ charges that the association did not consider other vendors to take over the program, Collazo then clarified that Richardson had not yet been formally terminated. Further, he added that Pipeline was being asked to simply fill in through December, which would allow the association to research other potential swim clubs and get parents’ input.

When Vineyards resident Jonathon Parker inquired which other clubs would be considered as the permanent club, Collazo asked him for his suggestions. Parker, however, stated it was the board’s responsibility to properly identify and invite multiple clubs in order to award a contract fairly. He later added, "The WCA is responsible for representing the interests of Westchase residents in the contracting for goods and services.  Inviting only one vendor, that is the Pipeline team, to tout their program appears to be anti-competitive.  What process [is the association] going to follow to ensure a fair and open competition serves Westchase swimmers?"

Collazo stated formal decisions on Richardson’s employment and the Pipeline contract would be considered at the WCA Board meeting on Sept. 6, the following night, at the WCA Office building on Parley Drive.

WCA Vice President Rick Goldstein, one of three other board members in the audience, then stood and stated that the board was under the impression it had to move quickly to hire a new swim club to preserve swimmers’ eligibility in upcoming meets and competitions. “We were in a time crunch. A decision was made that a change had to be made.”

Goldstein added that the swim program has very low participation by Westchase residents and that most of its members lived outside the community. He acknowledged resident frustration with the club’s use of the pool. While Goldstein acknowledged that some might call for an end to the program, he stated, “We thought, ‘What would be in the best interest of the kids?’”

Referring to the cause of Richardson’s removal and the association’s refusal to discuss it, Goldstein stated, “But we’re also taking marching orders from our attorney.” He added, “We’re trying to do the best we can to try to salvage the program.”

Assistant Coach Jordan Richardson, Alex’s sister, standing in the back of the room, then stated, “I have yet to know what complaints are against Alex,” she said. Referring to his absence, she stated, “We’re missing a very important person here.”

Richardson continued of the scores of parents with their kids in the room, “All these parents here are supporting him.”

Stamford resident John McDonough, the father of two swimmers on the team, stood and offered a timeline and a strong defense of Alex Richardson. McDonough stated that when Richardson was removed from the pool deck two weeks ago, parents were told he was sick before finally being told he was suspended. There was no further communication until parents were invited to the meeting, where the Pipeline organization was introduced. “Personally I’ve watched a thousand hours of swim practice,” he stated. “I’ve seen him coach every single level.” McDonough added, “He taught every level from young to elite and he did it with aplomb.”

McDonough stated that the association was taking complaints from a small number of disgruntled parents who had left the program yet failed to contact the other 60 families in the program that now filled the room. He added he had never seen Coach Richardson do anything insulting, obnoxious, untoward or inappropriate. Stating the association had the responsibility to handle the matter more professionally, McDonough stated, “In the process Westchase has injured the reputation of a good coach.”

He added, “As for the parents behind the charges, congratulations and shame on you.”

The room burst into applause.

A former student of Richardson then stood, saying he had driven home from college to offer his support. When he asked Collazo if he had seen his email sent earlier, Collazo responded, referencing the deputy who was present. “Yes, I saw your email and I was going to have a sheriff’s deputy here.”

When parents shouted in protest, Collazo called the email “very troubling” and challenged the young man to read it. When he did and left off the final paragraph, Collazo challenged him to finish it. The student apologized and concluded with a sentence that stated he expected to receive a response to his email or he would drive four hours from college to attend the meeting.

Parents’ reactions in the room made clear they did not interpret the email as a threat.

“Shame on you, sir,” the young man’s mother said to Collazo, “for calling the cops on my 18-year-old son.”

Collazo added it was one of a handful of emails he and other board members found threatening.

Criticized again for lack of communication and parental involvement in the decisions, Collazo responded, “All that is going to work out.”

Elise Christensen, a young swimmer on the team, then approached the front of the room. Fighting back tears, she asked Collazo, “Have you talked to swimmers yet?”

“No,” said Collazo, “You have the floor.”

“I don’t understand why you did this. We love Alex.” She added, “The parents that came to you are Pipeline Parents.”

When asked by a parent if the board could be convinced to change its mind on Richardson before taking formal action, Collazo again repeated, “I’m not going to discuss personnel matters with anyone in this room.”

Jordan Richardson again emphasized that the board had not yet shared the parents’ complaints with her brother Alex.

When WOW reached out to Richardson, he responded, “At this time I am not able to comment. I may reconsider commenting when things are official. I am sorry for any inconvenience.”

Commenting about the meeting, Greens resident Tracy Christensen, a swim parent, stated, ““The lack of communication from the WCA Board about potential changes to the swim program is concerning.   The proposed changes presented tonight at the parent meeting came across as one sided and there was little regard for the relationship the swim families have developed over the last six years with the coaches.  The Board seemed ready to move in a different direction from the current club, however no reasons were given as to why changes are being considered.” She added, “Proposing only one team to become the new club seemed premature, and I feel like multiple options should be considered, along with input from residents.”

Following the meeting, Goldstein commented, “This was not an easy decision for us and we certainly understand the anger and even the anguish of swimmers and parents. I wish things could be different. And as hard as it maybe to understand, we made a decision on the basis of what is in the best interests of the kids. If you knew what we know you would have a better understanding of why we made the decision that we did. Unfortunately, due to confidentiality, I am unable to elaborate. I wish I could.”

Goldstein added, “Please know that our decision was not made in a vacuum and not totally based on some disgruntled parents’ comments. Look, at the end of the day we have a responsibility to the kids and we made a decision based upon what we believe to be in the best interest of the kids.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Sept. 6, 2018

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From the President, Aug. 2018: WCA Adopts New Rule Permitting Metal Roofs

Metal roofing is here!

It was a long and complicated task, but we finally approved a metal roof guideline. Today you can go out and purchase metal roofing products that duplicate the look and feel of shingle or tile. And if the sticker shock or price tag doesn’t faze you, you can be the proud owner of a brand new, “lifetime” metal roof. If you do install one, please post pictures on the Westchase Neighborhood News Facebook group. I would love to see them.

By the way, many thanks to our neighbors Michelle Del Sordo and Matt Keleshian for helping me bring this project to fruition. We are so fortunate to have great volunteers like them. Thank you, Matt and Michelle!

On another note, have you noticed how clean and bright and fresh our facilities look lately? That’s because I challenged our staff to bring the “just like home” standard to our Westchase swim and tennis centers. No surface, no area, no furniture, no fixture is too good to be cleaned, pressure washed, painted, polished or replaced. Staff (and a few contractors) have been very busy detailing our facilities in time for the late summer/fall season. And very soon we will be replacing all the deck and lounge chairs. We’ll also be repainting the picnic tables and even adding a coat of paint to the metal roof at West Park Village. We’ve even polished all of the stainless-steel fixtures in the bathrooms!

If you have any suggestions on what could use “detailing,” please let us know. We’ll get right on it.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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Four WCA Board Seats See Sept. 11 Election

On Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m., the WCA will hold its annual meeting in the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s activity room.

The annual meeting marks the Westchase Voting Members’ (VMs) election of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors. Four seats face election this year – those currently held by WCA Directors Forrest Baumhover, Ruben Collazo, Keith Heinemann and Brian Ross. All but Ross have indicated they will run for reelection. Also running is West Park’s Michelle Del Sordo. Further nominations from the floor will still be accepted at the meeting.
Candidates’ personal statements follow:

Forrest Baumhover, The Fords

Hi, I’m Forrest Baumhover, raised in Florida and a Fords resident. My family and I moved to Kingsford four years ago as part of a military move to MacDill.
Shortly after arriving, we made the decision to retire here and establish our post-military life. We wanted to be a part of the Westchase community. We fell in love with Westchase, and it’s our goal to be as involved as we can be.

To that extent, I’m currently serving on the board, as well as on the Modifications Committee. The Modifications Committee helps homeowners figure out how to make the changes they want to their houses while helping the Westchase community maintain its standing as the ‘go-to’ destination for Tampa families. I’m also the Kingsford voting member, representing those residents during our voting member meetings.

If you elect me to the Westchase board, I assure you that I will continue to maintain the same commitment to service that has guided me both through 24 years of military service and my volunteer efforts within the WCA.

Ruben Collazo, The Shires

My wife Marta, my son Chris and I came to The Shires in May, 1995. Our daughter Samantha (Sept ’96) is a Westchase native. I have been a board member for about 15 of the last 19 years.

The first time I was elected in 1999, I served on the developer’s board. Things have certainly developed for our community over the years.

Serving on an HOA Board is perhaps one of the more difficult volunteer jobs because of the enormous commitment involved. Being a board member means having a willingness to dig into details, reviewing and understanding governing documents, being accessible to our neighbors, reading a lot, making tough decisions, and attending many meetings. It’s hard work but I thoroughly enjoy it.

As board president, I am happy to report that our finances are strong and our committee membership is thriving thanks to the many generous neighbors who volunteer. We've developed a reputation for being a leader of community associations. I regularly receive phone calls from other HOA presidents seeking to learn from our experiences.

I am seeking re-election because I want to continue to keep our community a place to which our neighbors are happy to come home . My core principles are openness, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness and diversity of opinion. These core principles are how we build and maintain our community and the lifestyle we all call Westchase. I ask for your continued support and your vote. Thank you.

Michelle Del Sordo, West Park Village

I have been a Westchase resident since 2015 but have been in Tampa since 2009. Prior to moving to Florida, I was a lifelong Jersey girl, commuting in and out of NYC and working in the financial services industry.

I am very active in the Westchase community and currently serve as vice president and alternate voting member for The Classic Townhomes of WPV. I am a member of the Government Action Committee, Covenants Committee, Metal Roof Committee, and Document Review Committee.

Professionally, I am the chief compliance officer for a successful financial services firm in the Westchase area. (Yes, I have the privilege of living and working in this wonderful community!) I was recently approved as a FINRA Dispute Resolution Arbitrator.

Prior to moving to Westchase I held several positions on the board of my previous community in Carrollwood.

In my spare time you’ll find me at our community pool, Kindle in hand, entrenched in a murder-mystery novel or with a set of earbuds placed firmly in my ears as I try to reach my daily 10,000 step goal around the sidewalks of West Park Village.

I would love the opportunity to continue to serve Westchase residents.

Keith Heinemann, Radcliffe

Keith Heinemann here, finishing my fifth year as WCA Board secretary.  Concurrently, I’m also serving as the WCA Member (liaison) to the World of Westchase board.  I've been privileged to serve with outstanding slates of board members for both groups. 

Locally, I’ve been elected Radcliffe’s alternate voting member for eleven years, and six years as the VM, plus ten years on the Government Affairs Committee, including one as chairman. 

Many of you know me as the Precinct 508 Clerk for the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections. I've led that group since 2002.  Or, you may have read some of my regular WOW articles over the years.

Prior to Westchase, I served 28 years in the Air Force, with significant leadership assignments in Transportation and Logistics, including a tour at HQ USAF Transportation at the Pentagon. I was promoted to full Colonel and concluded my career here at HQ US Central Command.  Along the way, I was awarded a Bronze Star for service during Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91.

My education includes a B.A. in Economics from St Olaf College, and an MBA specializing in Transportation from the University of Tennessee, plus other graduate programs at Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee.

Finally, I also chaired our Nomination Committee for three cycles, leading election night proceedings for our WCA Board in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

You have elected top-notch people to look out for Westchase’s best interests. I'd be honored to represent you and serve another term on our WCA Board.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Freebooters Gear Up for Annual Golf Tournament

Ahoy, mateys! Don your best golf garb and join Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters for its Second Annual Golf Tournament!

The event will be held Oct. 6 at the Westchase Golf Club.

The tournament’s four-player scramble format will feature a shotgun start at 1 p.m. The entry fee ($400 per foursome; $100 per individual) includes greens fees, golf cart use, a barbeque lunch, on-course (non-alcoholic) beverages and a swag bag. For $20, players get a super ticket good for one mulligan and entry into the putting, longest drive, and closest-to-the-pin contests. Afterward we’ll meet at Crabby Bills Off The Hook Bar and Grill (a.k.a., the Seafood Exchange) for refreshments and some krewe revelry.

Last year’s inaugural golf outing was a great success. This year’s proceeds will benefit the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) at both Westchase Elementary and Davidsen Middle School in collaboration with Ocean’s Daughter Conservation Alliance, a local non-profit organization dedicating to promoting, protecting, and preserving marine life through research and awareness campaigns.

“We wanted to develop a partnership with the local schools to support what we consider a critical building block for our community—teachers, kids, and education,” said Krewe Captain Eric Holt. “We should all be invested in them!”

For more information about the golf tournament, contact Tom Murphy at (813) 220-1115 or email freebooterskrewe@gmail.com. To register, visit http://www.squareup.com/store/krewe-of-freebooters Learn. more about the Freebooters at http://www.kreweoffreebooters.com

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Wanna be a Freebooter?

Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters is looking for a few fun-loving pirates to join its band of merrymakers. Members have the opportunity to take part in several parades each season and represent the Krewe at various Westchase functions and festivities. For more information, contact Captain Eric Holt at (813) 727-2019 or email freebooterskrewe@gmail.com.

By Melanie Casey

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Public Notice of West Park Village Reserve Guideline Change

At their Sept. 11 meeting, Westchase Voting Members will consider a neighborhood specific paint guideline amendment for The Reserve at West Park Village.

At their Aug. 14 meeting, Westchase Voting Members gave the proposed guideline its first of two required votes of approval.

To be adopted as the color palette for Building 4 of The Reserve (the new David Weekley Townhomes behind Fifth-Third Bank, a supermajority of VMs will have to approve the following colors for its units for a second time at their Sept. 11 meetings. The proposed paint swatch numbers reference Sherwin-Williams (SW) colors:

Lot 1/Block 3/Building 4 (9571 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Mocha (SW 6067); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed {SW 6328).

Lot 2/Block 3/Building 4 (9569 Cavendish Drive): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Modern White (SW 6168); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 3/Block 3/Building 4 (9567 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Bracing Blue (SW 6242); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 632.S).

Lot 4/Block 3/Building 4 (9565 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 5/Block 3/Building 4 (9563 Cavendish Dr.) Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Butter Up (SW 6681); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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WCA’s 2019 Budget to See Sept. 6 Approval

At its Sept. 6 monthly meeting, the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board will approve the proposed 2019 budget.

Once approved, coupons will be mailed out in November for your 2019 assessment. Please be on the lookout for it. The fees are due Jan. 1.

In addition to the coupon notice, many neighbors will receive proxy cards to vote for your neighborhood voting member (VM) representative. Your four neighbors receiving the most votes become the VM and alternates – your neighborhood’s voice while serving Westchase. It is important for each of you to cast your vote and return the proxy postcard as soon as you receive it. If you wish to be included on the proxy card as a candidate, please contact Charlotte Adams at officemanager@wcamanager.com so she can be sure to have your name printed on the card.

Beginning in October, our monthly Movies in The Park will be hosted by your association once again on the Montague Street green. We provide the movie and popcorn at no cost to you. Movie showings are anticipated to be the second Friday of each month, October through March.

As a friendly reminder, if you are a new owner or renter, you must submit official documentation to our office as proof of residency in order to access the facilities. These include a warranty deed from closing, a fully signed lease agreement with a copy of the most recent utility bill or proof of deposit with a utility company. They must be delivered to the association’s management office on Parley Drive. Staff members at the pools are not authorized to add/change ownership or rental data nor add guests and nannies to the access list. Only management staff can do so.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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What’s Your Favorite?

From pizza to craft beer, most of us can quickly cite our favorites.

That’s what this edition of WOW is all about: your favorites.

After polling scores of residents last month, WOW returns with its September tradition – its Dining Special. This month’s WOW reveals our readers’ preferences, from Best Pizza to Best Chinese. Be sure to check out all of Tampa Bay’s Best on pages 94-95.

Our cover feature by WOW writer Brie Gorecki kicks off the fun by looking at Tampa Bay’s growing reputation as one of the top areas in the nation for for craft beer. Brie sat down with two Westchase families who own popular craft breweries, Tampa Bay Brewing Company and Crooked Thumb Brewery in Palm Harbor. These talented folks appear on our cover this month and we tip a pint to them.

As last month’s WOW went to print, WOW staff was still trying to wrap our heads around the terrible news of young Joey Johnston’s accident. Joey, an Alonso student, broke his neck and back in July during a daredevil bridge jump while at the beach with friends. We were heartbroken by the news as it struck close to home: Joey is the son of longtime WOW writer, Joey Johnston of The Shires. Wanting to somehow help – especially with the bills for hospitalization and therapy, WOW staff created a GoFundMe page. The community responded with amazing generosity.

As I write this, the effort has raised close to $57,000. Other fundraising efforts are also underway. Joey Johnston, Sr., has continued to contribute to WOW while working and living out of a hotel room in Atlanta, where his son is undergoing therapy. He shares the family’s amazing story – and Joey’s challenging recovery – beginning on page 38.

Aug. 10 brought the return to school. Everything was new – from brand spanking new clothes and pencils to new teachers and new school start times. You generously shared with us your incredibly cute, back-to-school photos and you can find them on page 28-29.

The new bell schedules have not been without their hiccups. Joey Johnston talked to Sickles’ and Alonso’s principals and his article on page 54 talks about about the challenges of getting families used to the new start times. Meanwhile, WOW’s Facebook group, Westchase Neighborhood News has served as an important resource for families during the new school year. When families learned that the new schedule would force the Robinson IB bus’ stop, previously at Westchase Elementary, to Alonso, families rallied in the group, contacted the district and won a closer spot at Davidsen Middle. Please remember to use this incredibly valuable resource (Simpy join the Westchase Neighborhood News group with over 6,000 members) to share your school news and reach out to other parents, especially when forming those invaluable school carpools.

Please remember we receive no outside support from your association. We rely solely on our advertising to produce WOW, so please tell our valued advertisers you saw them in WOW.

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September’s Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor Award Winner: The Dil Family

The number of nominations for our Thankful for Your Neighbor Award made selecting a winner mighty difficult!

The winners, the Dil Family of Castleford, illustrate that small, generous actions are the keys to building community.

“I’m a bit controversial,” admitted Barbara Dil. After learning that a neighbor had fallen on the community’s raised sidewalks, Barbara and her daughters Allison and Kimberly took a roll of orange duct tape and placed it over raised sidewalk cracks to help warn others.

The action prompted Barbara’s neighbor, Nicole Radatz Whitmore, to nominate them. “They are the type of neighbors you can call in a pinch when you promised your child’s class cupcakes but don’t have enough eggs, or when you left your garage door open when leaving for work and can’t come home to close it,” wrote Whitmore. “There are countless examples of how they go above and beyond for the community.” Whitmore added, “They ROCK!”

The Dil family has also served as Castleford’s Thanksgiving Food Drive captains since the drive came under WOW’s umbrella.

The family first moved into Castleford in 1996, when their oldest child, Thomas – now 23 and living in Kentucky – was a year and a half old. Barbara has seen many of the homes in Castleford recently sell and hopes her neighborhood retains the strong sense of community it had when children once played in the cul-de-sac. “I feel so committed. It’s where I raised my children,” she said. “I feel committed to keeping it a nice place for families.”

WOW thanks and congratulates Barbara Dill and her family for being a Good Neighbors. To recognize them, the Dils received a $50 gift certificate, courtesy of Irish 31. Thanks, Irish 31!

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

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Cheers! Local Craft Breweries Take Tampa By Storm

Ten years ago, the term “craft beer” was an uncommon phrase.

People weren’t piling into local breweries on the weekends to sample limited batches or order drinks that included names like “saison” and “Berliner.” A brewery didn’t make you think of a place to go hang out at or even bring the kids or dog. Breweries were pretty much known for just brewing beer.

Today that’s all changed.

Beer is undoubtedly one of the most popular drinks in the world. If you were lucky enough to pay a visit to Busch Gardens back when they were owned by Anheuser-Busch, you probably got the chance to sit through Beer School if you were over 21. But since Beer School is no longer there (and how about a moment of silence for the beloved Hospitality House?), here is a basic crash course.

Invented more than 5,000 years ago in Babylonia, beer is a carbonated beverage made from four essential ingredients – grain, water, hops, and yeast. Most people know the basic styles of beer such as lagers, pilsners, ambers, etc., but there are actually over 150 styles of beer, with ABVs (alcohol by volume) ranging anywhere from three to (a rare) 68%.

Otherwise known as microbreweries, craft breweries are smaller, locally owned independent breweries. They use the traditional ingredients found in all beer, except they have the opportunity to experiment with a broader range of flavors and styles, often using locally grown ingredients and creating unique infusions.

The most popular styles of craft beer can vary by state. In Florida, the five most popular styles you’ll most likely see on every beer menu are IPAs (India pale ale), sours, high gravity stouts, light lagers, and Florida weisse, a version of Berliner weisse that’s fermented with local fruit.

Even if you’re not you’re a fan of the hoppy beverage, it should come as no surprise that today craft beers are more popular than ever. It’s become common to see extensive lists of locally brewed beers on menus at restaurant. Further, supermarket shelves are lined with rows of colorful beer cans, fresh from the area, boasting catchy names such as Reef Donkey, Florida Cracker, and Grandpa Jack’s Pil’s. Local craft breweries have taken over Tampa, even landing us the Number Six spot on USA Today’s 2018 list of the 10 Best Beer Scenes in the U.S. Out of the nearly 6,300 craft breweries nationwide, about 300 of them live in Florida, putting the sunshine state in the Number 10 spot for most craft breweries out of all 50 states. Over 1.4 million barrels of craft beer are produced here annually. Tampa not only houses some of the best breweries, but we’re also responsible for the start of the brewing industry in Florida. Vicente Ybor and Edward Manrara started the Florida Brewing Company (originally Ybor City Brewing) in 1896, and became the first brewery in the state. Though they closed their doors in 1961, the six-story brick building that originally housed the company still stands as the tallest building in Ybor today.  

Although local craft breweries have been in business for a while, one brewery gave Tampa a head start on evolving into the successful craft beer community it’s become today. Cigar City Brewing is a name you’ll often hear not only locally, but nationally. In April, USA Today put them on the list of the greatest beer destinations in the U.S. Last year Forbes named them as one of the top 15 craft breweries in the country. Opening their doors in 2007, Cigar City engaged the craft beer community early on. They surpassed some of the challenges that came with running a smaller, independent brewery and took a chance at marketing to the craft beer scene nationwide, instead of just locally. Once their most popular beer, Jai Alai IPA, landed on the Wall Street Journal’s list as the Best IPA in America, it was all uphill from there. The interest in local craft beer began to soar.

Today tasting rooms, as the inside bar of a brewery is often called, have become a common alternative to the mainstream bar scene, drawing in diverse crowds who are looking for a laid-back place to enjoy themselves in a community-like setting, whether it be a Wednesday night or a Saturday afternoon. “It’s about the atmosphere,” said Mike Dyer, founder of the Tampa Bay Ale Trail. “You can be a young, modern family and chill and relax a bit with others.”

Another big draw is that the majorities of local breweries are family-friendly and even allow dogs. Setting up shop in residential areas also gives them the opportunity to become a familiar face and become part of a neighborhood, gaining regular customer loyalty.

One thing all independent breweries have in common is making sure they’re keeping the community engaged. You can enjoy beer, cheese, and chocolate pairings at Six Ten Brewing, participate in weekly team trivia nights at Southern Brewing and Winemaking, join a “Man Book Club” at 81Bay Brewing Co., and let the crew at Brew Bus Brewing shuttle you around in their “brew bus” to visit other local breweries in the area.

Some tasting rooms have TVs so you can watch your favorite teams, and most will include board games to keep visitors of any age entertained. On weekends, live music can be heard from most brewery patios. Many of them also offer tours of their production areas, where they’ll educate you on what goes into making the perfect craft brew. The beer scene has become so popular, that “beercations” are now becoming a nationwide trend in which people plan vacations based solely on the idea of visiting that city’s selection of local breweries. With over 80 craft breweries in the area, it’s not surprising to often see Tampa Bay as one of the top spots for beer lovers to visit.

With the growth in the number of local breweries, craft beer enthusiast Mike Dyer had the idea to start the Tampa Bay Ale Trail. Mike spent 15 years working for National Geographic, living in several different prevalent craft beer towns. Understanding the challenges that an independent brewery can face, such as making a name for themself, he wanted a way to help breweries drive more traffic to their locations. He thus began the Tampa Bay Ale Trail in 2017.

Partakers can purchase a “passport” that’s good for one year. It lists all participating breweries. With each visit, your passport gets stamped and you’ll earn incentives such as a free pint of beer or merchandise. The idea is for locals and visitors to explore Tampa’s beer scene and to incentivize repeat business. Starting with 47 breweries, the number jumped to 69 this year. “I thought it would be a cool program for people to be able to visit new places,” Mike said, “and it allows them to support local businesses.”

A main concern that brewery owners tend to hear is that people are afraid to try something new – whether they’re used to drinking macro brewed beer (such as Miller Lite, Budweiser, etc.) or do not liking beer at all. The great part about local craft breweries is the variety of options they offer. A great way to find out what your taste buds prefer is to attend a local beer festival. Every year, typically in early March, the city celebrates Tampa Bay Beer Week. One of the highlights is the Florida Brewers Guild Fest. Open to the public, the event gives guests the chance to sample more than 200 craft beers from over 60 Florida breweries. “Trying craft beers allows people to step out of their comfort zones,” stated Dyer.

An advantage that independent breweries have over macro breweries is that they can push the limits, playing around with various styles and flavors, while catering to the local crowd. Most of all, independent craft brewers brew for a reason – because they really love the art of crafting different beers and are passionate about what they do. “I’m just most proud when consumers recognize our brand as producing true quality world class beers,” said Dave Doble, Westchase resident and owner of Tampa Bay Brewing Company. “That’s a true reward for effort.”

Whether you’re a beer enthusiast or simply just want a relaxed place to spend a weekend afternoon, checking out craft breweries in the area is a great way to support your city and the local businesses that thrive here. And with the way things are going, it doesn’t look like the beer scene here will be slowing down any time soon. As Dave put it, “We’re in the glory days of beer,” he said. “Live Florida. Brew Florida.”

By Brie Gorecki

Restaurant Summaries 2018

WOW thanks the following restaurants for helping to bring you WOW’s Dining Special.

The Grind
(813) 749-7533
Offering handcrafted coffees and teas including organic options. An inviting and unique interior design with a full kitchen for all day breakfast, wraps, sandwiches, salads and desserts.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company
(813) 247-1422
TBBC is Westchase's premier craft brewery and restaurant, offering award winning beer, a creative Florida inspired menu, and a fun, friendly atmosphere.

Marina's Pizza & Pasta
(813) 854-1616
Marinas offers the perfect mix of authentic Italian pizza, pasta, salad, and subs and is working to continually strengthen our ties with the Westchase community.

Grain & Berry Cafe
(813) 818-2929
With fresh fruit bowls, banana splits, parfaits, smoothies, and coffee just to name a few! All of them being a grab and go option – we're your Westchase spot for healthy super-foods!

Southern Bay Bakery
(813) 328-8010
A small batch bakery focusing on bringing you freshly baked pastries, desserts and cakes for the whole family to enjoy for any occasion!

Atlas Gourmet Pizza
(813) 792-0050
Atlas Gourmet Pizza is fresh, fast and gourmet. We sell by the slice or the pie, offering traditional and specialty toppings. Handcrafted salads also available.

The Fountainhead Wine & Beer Bar
(813) 920-4556
The Fountainhead is a casually upscale neighborhood bar where locals and friends can relax over a great glass of wine or craft beer.

PDQ
(813) 864-6760
Award-winning hand-breaded chicken tenders, made-to-order sandwiches, bowls and salads crafted fresh in store every day, along with homemade sauces and dressings and hand-spun milkshakes.

SoFresh – Westchase
(813) 328-8877
Serving up delicious made-to-order salads, wraps, and bowls from our seasonal kitchen. Always cooked-to-order, always fresh! Healthy just got delicious.

Seafood Exchange Grill & Bar
(813) 501-1005
The hottest new restaurant in Westchase, serving only the freshest seafood and ingredients. Will be featuring the NFL ticket this football season.

Zaxby’s
(813) 510-4321
Absolutely cravable, daringly zesty, made-to-order chicken fingers, wings, Zalads and more. This is gonna be good!

The restaurant listings represent paid advertisements in conjunction with WOW’s Dining Special. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc.

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Westchase Concert to Benefit SpeakUp 5K

Young Westchase musicians will perform during the Charity Youth Music Concert for SpeakUp on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Westchase Golf Club.

All proceeds from the concert, scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m., will go to SpeakUp 5K, which will hold its third annual race in Tampa on Oct. 13. SpeakUp 5K, part of the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, raises funds and awareness for teenage depression and anxiety.

Tickets for the concert ($40) can be purchased online at CKGFoundation.org/Tampa or at the door.

The concert was conceived and organized by Ngoc Pham, owner of Westchase’s Tre MedSpa. Pham’s son, Jacob, is an accomplished pianist and guitar player whose talent has been featured in news stories by the Tampa Bay Times and local television networks.

Many of Pham’s clients have clamored to see Jacob play and wondered about local recitals.

“At that point, the light bulb went off in my head and I thought it would be nice to feature all of our local talent in a neighborhood concert,’’ Pham said. “We think it’s going to be a very, very special night.

“For many of these musicians, the chance to perform in front of an audience is kind of a rare treat. It’s not like an athlete who has 20 games or so to play. Some of the musicians get one or two recitals a year—or maybe none—so they are excited about this opportunity.’’

Pham has been involved with SpeakUp 5K since its Tampa debut in 2016. Gallagher was a Virginia teenager who suffered from depression and died from an unrelated ailment after finishing a half-marathon. She had planned a benefit race to raise money for awareness of teenage depression and anxiety. Her family took the mantle and has spread the race throughout the country, while also developing a public-school curriculum that addresses teenage depression and anxiety.

SpeakUp 5K works directly with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, so all funds will be incorporated into the community.

Pham said the cause hits home. A young family member committed suicide five years ago.

“Even on a daily basis, talking to my patients, I hear about their father, their mother, their sister, their brother, their grandfather, all affected by depression or anxiety,” Pham said. “It is part of everyone’s life in some fashion and it needs to be addressed however we can.

“SpeakUp is great because it speaks to the young people, particularly the high schoolers. It encourages them to take this message back to their friends. If something like suicide happens, you naturally think, ‘What if I had said this?’ or ‘What if I had said that?’ This encourages them to be involved in their friends’ lives and be up front with what’s going on if something is stressing somebody out. Even if you regularly say, ‘Is everything OK?’ just that one little phrase could make a difference in someone’s life.”

Pham said she has received encouraging community support for the concert. Mother’s Restaurant is donating food. West Park Village’s Southern Bay Bakery is donating 200 cupcakes. Concert patrons will receive some light food and two drinks (wine or beer), while soft drinks are free.

Meanwhile, Miles Neiffer, owner of the American Rock School, is donating his time and his facility’s sound system and equipment for the concert.

Pham said the musicians range from age 5 to college students. There are approximately 20 acts, including singers, pianists, guitarists and a six-piece Korean drum team.

“There’s a lot of negativity in the world these days regarding our young people, so this will be a very positive, upbeat night,” Pham said. “It’s a way for our community to come together and rally around a great cause, while being entertained by some wonderful music.

“We’re hopeful we can make it more of a regular event. Based on the response we have already received, it looks like it’s going to be a really special night. We’re excited for the entertainment that will be provided and we’re excited that it’s going to result in help for a wonderful cause.”

By Joey Johnston

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UTB Trail Near Mall Potentially Affected by County Land Swap

Hillsborough County is entertaining a land swap that would affect a portion of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail near Westfield Citrus Park Mall and Ballyhoo Grill and they want folks to weigh in before they make the decision.

The public meeting regarding the possible trail alignment is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30, 6:30 p.m. Citrus Park Elementary School Cafeteria, 7700 Gunn Highway. Residents who are unable to attend the meeting, however, can simply weigh in by filling out the following form: https://hcflgov.formstack.com/forms/public_comment

In the form’s field for “Meeting Name,” residents should fill out Upper Tampa Bay Trail Realignment.

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail, which has trailheads on Wilsky Boulevard near Linebaugh and off Waters Avenue is popular with Westchase runners and bicyclists. It passes through largely wooded areas of Northwest Hillsborough County.

The portion of the trail that could be realigned in a proposed county land swap with a developer runs parallel to Gunn Highway just north of the entrances to the Westfield Citrus Park Mall and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s District 3 office. It sits just south of Ballyhoo Grill.

Currently sitting on the east side of Gunn Highway across from a group of townhomes are four empty parcels through which the trail runs (See photo.) Alliance Residential has an option to purchase those four parcels and is seeking to rezone them. Currently zoned for 12 homes per acre, they want to change the zoning on the 20-acre parcel. Doing so would increase its permitted density and allow them to construct 300 apartments there. That rezoning meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17.

Hillsborough County Project Manager Jason Chilson of the Conservation & Environmental Lands Management, stated that the developer’s decision to go forward with rezoning will hinge on the county approving a realignment of the current trail. While the trail through the parcels is currently set back from Gunn Highway, Alliance Residential has requested that the county swap the current trail land for new trail space 25 feet closer to the road to allow room to construct a greater number of apartments. “If the county is not OK with the trail moving,” Chilson said, “it makes no sense to go to the other [rezoning] meeting,” he said.

The apartment complex, tentatively called Citrus Park Village Apartments, would have 300 units with a single road crossing the trail to give apartment residents access to Gunn Highway. Chilson pointed out that the four parcels through which the trail runs are currently privately owned, each with the right to construct an access road across the trail.

In order for the trail to be relocated closer to Gunn Highway, Hillsborough County would have to first agree to the land swap.

Chilson stated that residents who are unable to attend the Aug. 30 meeting on realignment could still fill out the comment form and submit it up to two weeks after the meeting. 

For more information about the proposed apartment complex rezoning, readers can click on the button to enter the PGM store here: http://hillsboroughcounty.org/en/businesses/permits-and-records/permits/plans-and-permit-information-pgm-store

Using the word “public” as the username and password, you can access or click on the document repository and do a search by filling in the project’s rezoning number, 18-0800, in the field labeled “Tracking #”

You can access a copy of the developer’s rezoning request and project summary by clicking here.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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County Announces Sept. 10 Public Meeting for Citrus Park Drive Extension

As part of its last outreach efforts before bidding the project in the winter and breaking ground in the spring, Hillsborough County has announced a Sept. 10 public meeting about the Citrus Park Drive extension.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Sickles High School.

According to Project Manager Tommy Rawls of the Public Works Department, plans for the extension are largely complete and the meeting offers residents the chance to view the county plans before groundbreaking. Rawls stated he expects the county to bid the project this fall and break ground soon after the new year.

Once complete, the 2.73 mile extension will connect Citrus Park Drive on Countryway Boulevard (where Deer Park Elementary) is located to Sheldon Road near the Fawn Ridge Community. The project is expected to cost $65 million and be completed in mid-2021.

For a project map, click here: https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/library/hillsborough/media-center/documents/county-projects/misc/citrus-park-drive-extension-project-map.pdf

For more information about the project, visit https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/government/county-projects/transportation-projects/citrus-park-drive

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Workshop 2019 Draft Budget Released

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Manager Debbie Sainz released her draft 2019 budget for the association. Click here to view it.

The draft will be the focus of discussion at the association’s budget workshop on Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. The workshop, open to all residents, will be held at the activity room of the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard.

The annual budget workshop reviews the proposed budget and attendees, usually WCA board members and Westchase Voting Members (VMs), make adjustments before it goes before the WCA Board for its formal approval.

While the draft budget usually does see some changes during the workshop, it currently calls for spending levels to be held steady, decreasing the WCA assessment on all Westchase homes by a dollar, from $275 to $274.

Only a number of budget lines see significant changes. While the draft states that the budget fully funds reserves (funds set aside annually to replace big-ticket items), it does decrease amounts reserved by $61,625, a 47 percent decline. Funds budgeted for electricity have increased $6,867, a jump of 14 percent. Estimated income from the association’s swim and tennis programs (not including summer camps) has been decreased $23,111, with roughly $8,500 of the decrease due to the elimination of the Karate program (The karate instructor moved out of town and has not been replaced.) Projected summer camp revenues (including tennis camp) have been increased for next year just under $7,500. Combined, the overall budgeted income for programs is showing a $15,611 decrease over 2018 budgeted amounts. The decrease in revenues in the budget is matched by a decrease in projected expenditures by $14,173.

Likely to be a focus of discussion is the budgeted lines for general legal fees (The WCA’s legal fees are broken out over multiple lines with small, unchanged amounts budgeted for late assessment collection and the collection of fines assessed for violations). Last year the association budgeted $30,579 for general legal fees in 2018 but they have already spent $39,308 alone through June 30, including $12,000 for work associated with amending the facility use rules document alone. The proposed line for 2019 is currently $63,361, more than double the 2018 budgeted amount. That amount, however, seems more in line with the $58,016 the association spent on general legal fees in 2017.

The WCA Board will hold their budget meeting on Thursday, Sept. 6, at the WCA office building on Parley Drive to vote on the draft budget that emerges from the budget workshop. The board may also make further changes to the spending plan at that meeting. Approval by the board will trigger a 10-day review period by Westchase Voting Members (VMs). If VMs take no formal action to reject the budget, it will become the official 2019 budget for the WCA.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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VM Committees Report on Potential Rules Changes

The August Voting Member (VM) meeting started with VMs and audience members entering their choices about Tampa Bay Area’s Long-Range Transportation Plan into the site, itstimetampabay.org.

Lisa Silva, Principal Planner with the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), informed the group that every five years, the MPO updates its long range transportation plan, which was last updated for 2040 (See http://www.planhillsborough.org/plan2040/) and it’s now time for the 2045 horizon. Silva, who lives in West Park Village, said that the number of residents in the Bay Area are expected to grow by another 1 million by 2045, which makes this planning critical. Residents are encouraged to enter their feedback online.

The next agenda item, a paint palette guideline change for the Reserve at West Park Village, had previously come before the VMs for a vote, but it had not been properly noticed in the World of Westchase so the initial approval vote was retaken. All approved except Cynde Mercer, who had opposed it in previous votes as well.

The final vote for the new metal roof guideline passed with a unanimous vote as did the reappointment of former Variance Committee members Ruben Collazo, Brian Loudermilk, Shawn Yesner and an architect from Gritton & Associations. VM Mary Griffin (Single Family Homes of West Park Village) quickly volunteered for the open vacancy and was unanimously approved. Minor additional amendments to the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) Board of Director Elections Procedures were also approved by the VMs. That election is Sept. 11.

Brian Loudermilk, Drainage Committee Chair, gave the group an update on what the committee had learned thus far. The first thing they had done was try to find the reason for the specific turf requirements which are in the current Residential Guidelines:

Guideline 2.2.5, located under the heading, General Landscaping and Maintenance Requirements, reads, “Landscape maintenance shall include quality maintenance of all trees, shrub, ground cover, annuals, turf grass, irrigation systems, treatment of any disease, fungus or pest and periodic fertilization.” It continues, “Turf areas shall be regularly cut and edged to maintain a consistent appearance of quality. All perimeter side and rear lot lines shall be bordered by a three foot (3’) turf strip to reduce storm water runoff and potential ponding of water. Mulch or any mulch product shall not be used in lieu of turf areas along the perimeter of the lot.”

The committee also hired an engineering firm to assist them. They researched the developer’s history, the WCA’s Florida Friendly Guidelines and county land codes and could not find the reason for the turf specification. In the past, some residents have tried to resolve the issue of muddy or swampy side yards by putting in a walk way. Loudermilk explained that the committee is continuing to look at input provided by the engineer, such as pervious concrete which absorb water, but they are recommending that the guideline be changed. Current Modifications Committee members Dale Sells and Forrest Baumhover (VM, Kingsford) weighed in, noting that the specifications for materials and solutions must be documented in the guidelines since their committee can only approve what is written in them. Loudermilk said they are looking at requiring that homeowners who want to implement some sort of solution must develop design plans and may be required to have gutters.

Paint Palette chair Nancy Sells updated the group on her committee’s progress, noting, “The committee was tasked with amending the guidelines for the use of color, not to redo the palette. This is based on what people have asked for time to time.”

She explained two suggested changes. The first was to allow up to four (4) colors per unit when it has shutters. The second is to allow the use of trim colors for front doors.

VM Eric Holt (Radcliff) gave the group an update on the Freebooters Krewe of Westchase. He said the krewe had had a very successful season, adding, “Our parade float worked out beautifully.” (The float’s name is The Montague.)

Holt announced the krewe has decided to expand their roster with ten available spots for which they are recruiting. Holt went on to say that they are becoming formal business partners with Davidsen Middle School and Westchase Elementary. He noted that the krewe’s Charity Golf Tournament will take place Oct. 5 and they are looking for sponsors. He said the organization hopes it will be a big event so that they can donate back to the schools.

VMs adjourned at 8:02 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Aug. 16, 2018

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WCA Board Votes to Replace Pool Chairs; Ties on Resident’s Fine Appeal

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors heard requests from two residents during the open forum of the August meeting.

The first, a resident of The Vineyards, told board members that she had lived in the neighborhood for 17 years and had just recently received a violation notice because her air conditioning unit was not shielded on all sides although her landscaping around it had always been the same. She pointed out that the unit could not be seen from the street only if someone parked and walked down the sidewalk between the houses. She said that her AC company had told her she needed to keep one side open, so they could access it for repairs and because it was not healthy for it to be covered on all sides. She pointed out that because of the layout of the neighborhood that the guideline should be amended using common sense. Board President Ruben Collazo said that the Voting Members (VMs) were the group who could change guidelines, not the board, and that he would ask them to look at it. He also told her he would ask the documents review committee to contact her.

Shires Resident Eric Pogue, who was instrumental in organizing last winter’s Westchase Open Tennis Tournament, said he wanted to petition the board to use the tennis courts for another tournament. Collazo said that since it was not an agenda item, the board could not discuss it, but that Pogue could have two minutes to talk about the tournament. Pogue said that the tournament had raised more than $15,000 for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), which provides financial help to families who are facing financial difficulty due to a family illness or tragedy. He said that he had trademarked the name of the tournament so that the money would always go to the WCF but that he believed there were some hard feelings on the board because of that. He stated he still hoped that the board would consider letting the tournament use the tennis courts for the event. Bridges Resident Patrick Duffy told the board that he had participated in and donated his services to the tournament and that it, “represented the best of what Westchase is,” and that he hoped they would be able to do it again.

A representative from Dwight Darby & Company, the association’s accounting firm, presented the board with a review of the 2017 draft audit. She said that the association was doing a good job and that since WOW was no longer consolidated, the WOW did not need an audit along with the WCA. Board Secretary and WOW liaison Keith Heinemann asked if WOW had retained the firm’s services and was told that no, the magazine did not have to have an audit at all.

Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover’s requests to use $7,997 from the vending machines’ reserve funds (the machines are no longer owned by the WCA) to help pay to replace the metal roof at the West Park Village pool cabana was approved by all board members as was his motion to fully fund the increased deductible for geothermal equipment and $18,000 to replace deck chairs at both pools.

A fine appeal from residents of Chelmsford was tabled until next month because board members could not reach an agreement. Baumhover told board members that he was friends with the residents and that when they first received the violation notice, they came to him asking for advice about what they should do. He said he walked them through how to fix everything but that when the correspondence from the association came, one of the owners was in the hospital and that was why everything was not taking care of in a timely manner. He added that every violation was now corrected and he made a motion to waive their fine. Director Joaquin Arrillaga, however, said, “in the past we have reduced the fine by 90 percent. Everyone has hardships and reasons, but if we go this way, it could be looked at as us discriminating against others.”

Arrillaga made a substitute motion to waive 90 percent of the fine and the vote was tied 3-3 with Arrillaga, Heinemann and Director Ashley Wait voting for and Collazo, Baumhover and Director Rick Goldstein voting against; Director Brian Ross was absent. Baumhover said that he could not recall any time when someone had been in the hospital and that the board had imposed the fine. Arrillaga asked, “Once open, where do we stop?”

The vote for Baumhover’s original motion was also tied. Collazo’s motion to table the vote until the next meeting when all board members were present was approved by all.

Government Affairs Committee Chair Rick Goldstein said that he was talking to the county about changing the timing for the traffic light at Montague and Linebaugh so that traffic would move more quickly during the drop off and pick up times for Davidsen Middle School. He also reported that construction on the extension of Citrus Park Drive should begin in spring of 2019.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that employees had been busy cleaning and updating the facilities. Her request to fund Movies in the Park for $695 a month for six months for the 2018-19 season was approved.

Collazo reminded board members that it was their duty to inspect the facilities but asked that they not bring private contractors with them and that they bring any concerns to the board president and not give directions to association staff.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Aug. 14, 2018

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West Park Village Tot Playground Temporarily Closes

The Westchase Community Development District (CDD) will temporarily close the West Park Village tot playground on Montague Street on Tuesday, Aug. 14. According to CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte, a contractor will be installing a new shade canopy and new park benches in the playground area. Whyte added that staff currently had no estimate for when the park will reopen, stating work could be affected by weather. The playground will reopen when work concludes, she said.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, July 2018

July’s fabulous fakery was an attempt to nudge pedagogy away from teaching to the test.

Because we really should be teaching to the child. And what better way to do this than with the county’s latest fake charter school: the Hillsborough IBS Academy for Video Gaming, which held two open houses in July where teens could try to video-game kill each other to win coveted spots.

Of course, IBS.

Get it?

The fake academy promised to work video game play into all areas of the curriculum, including PE and lunch.

Because American children need to put down all those silly books they’re reading.

The editor’s brother dreamed up this dream school. It was inspired by his daughters’ IB middle school carpool. Right before summer break, when he’d ask his carpoolers how their school days were, they’d cry out, “Stop talking! Some middle age lawyer on his lunch break up in Tuscaloosa is trying to snipe me!”

Like millions of middle schoolers every afternoon, they were playing Fortnite, which is basically Hunger Games for your smartphone.

“Wait,” he responded. “Is that game violent?”

“Daaaaad,” his daughter moaned. “It’s not violent. We’re just killing each other. There’s no blood or guts at all.”

Which actually constitutes a highly persuasive political argument these days.

Meanwhile, we congratulate lucky Fake Ad Contest winner, Linda Connolly of Bennington. She’ll be pausing her Fortnite slaying spree to dine at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Seniors Group Donates Toys for Hospital

It was Christmas in July for some happy children!

On July 10 St. Joseph's Children's hospital was thrilled to receive a car full of new toys from the Westchase Seniors Group. The toys were to be given to children in the their hospital.  Hadley Trull, Child Life Clinical Supervisor, and Corina Wian, Special Events Coordinator, were impressed with the number and variety of age appropriate toys they said will be very helpful in the treatment of many children, not to mention their attitudes while in the hospital. 

We thank the Westchase Seniors who contributed time and money to this Westchase Seniors Group activity. We enjoyed shopping for the toys, most of which we had never seen before. It was even more satisfying to know they would all be given to ill and injured children. After purchasing the toys, some of us celebrated by having hamburgers and milkshakes at Steak and Shake. Mmmmm good!

August Seniors Activity Pete and Judy Daniher are inviting the Westchase Seniors Group to their home on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 5 p.m. for a menu themed "Tampa All-American Summer Pot Luck Dinner."  The Danihers live at 10411 Greenhedges Dr. in The Greens.  They recommend those who can to carpool since there is limited parking space at their home.  If you plan to go, please R.S.V.P. by Aug. 14 to Judy at jdaniher77@gmail.com or call 792-8663.

Active Adult Activities With many children’s programs running through the summer months at the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center, the county-sponsored activities for adults have had to change and the trips for seniors have been canceled until September. The summer schedule follows and you can call (813) 964-2948 for more information:

• Walking Club: Wed and Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
• Tone and Stretch: Wed and Fri, 9 a.m.
• Yoga: Thu, 9 a.m. ($3/class)
• Ball Room Dance: Mon, 10-11 a.m.
• Pickelball: Fri, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Chair Yoga, Light Aerobics and Ball Room Dancing will not be offered until further notice.

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

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To Shame or not to Shame? That is the Question.

Social media can be a great way to connect with family and friends, find recommendations for reliable businesses and keep up to date on current events.

It can also be used as a platform to air grievances.

This is becoming increasingly evident in the posts and comment threads of neighborhood Facebook groups. While pointing out the wrongdoings of others may seem like a way to blow off some steam, it turns out public shaming posts have the potential to land the poster in hot water.

The arose recently on the Westwood Lakes Facebook group. A member of the group posted about a car driving far too fast through the neighborhood, giving a detailed description of the vehicle. Several people commented that the post was not only inappropriate, but also a potential precursor for legal action. Brian Esposito, owner of BJE Law, P.A., was among those who raised a red flag.

His point was that posts of this nature could potentially open the door for a defamation suit. Defamation is a broad term for any statement that damages someone's reputation. There are two types of defamation: Written defamation is known as libel; spoken defamation is known as slander. Posts and comments on a Facebook page therefore fall under the umbrella of libel. 

“In Florida, my understanding is that the statement must be false but presented as a fact,” Esposito explained. “So, you cannot get sued for giving your opinion.”

He gave the following example: “You can’t sue someone for posting on the internet, ‘I don’t like Brian’; however, if someone says something like, ‘Brian is a murderer’ and he’s not, then he could sue.”

Esposito added that what many residents may not understand is that the statement posted does not have to explicitly mention the person by name. A description or photo that makes it easy to deduce the person being referenced may suffice.

“To complicate it even more, a statement of opinion can be actionable if it appears to be based on specific facts, and an express allegation of those facts would be defamatory,” Esposito stated. “For example, a statement like, ‘I would not trust Brian around the cash register’ implies personal knowledge of dishonest conduct by Brian, and thus may be actionable.”

“Let’s say your hypothetical bad driver drives for a living. You posted your described scenario. He/she loses business because if it. I think that a lawsuit is there,” Esposito explained.

Whether there is actually a case to be made is another question, as there is a lack of clarity in Florida law if the burden of proof falls to the plaintiff or the defendant to prove the truth or falsity of the defamatory statements. “But, is it worth being sued? Having to pay thousands of dollars to an attorney to defend you?” Esposito questioned. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk. I’d recommend NOT posting stuff like that just to be safe.”

Legal ramifications notwithstanding, are public shaming posts appropriate, especially on Facebook groups serving as community forums?

Susan Rose does not think so. After attending several HOA meetings, she launched the Westwood Lakes Facebook group in April of 2012 to enhance neighborhood communication. “As a community member who was attending meetings I wanted to share some of the board’s discussion with the community,” Rose explained.  “Prior to Facebook I was printing flyers and leaving on door handles to invite my immediate neighbors to events I was hosting, such as Taste of Tar Flower driveway pot luck or the Great Egg Hunt on our street corner.”

Rose added that when her family moved to Florida in 2007, they did not have extended family in the area. Her neighbors on Tar Flower Drive filled a big hole in her life. Wanting to find a way to help others build relationships like those she had on her own street, Facebook seemed like a great way to reach people. As the administrator of the page, Rose had a goal was of posting community activities and updates related to Westwood Lakes – while giving all members having the ability to post.

“Over time, the Facebook community group has shown to be a great way for neighbors to reach out to each other for different needs, including bus stop emergencies, power outages, storm tracking, lost pets, wildlife spotting, lost and found items, event announcements, restaurant news, business references and HOA questions,” Rose stated.

She added that unfortunately there are often those who choose to use the group to complain or shame other neighbors, vendors or local businesses. “The intention of the group is to build people up and encourage and support each other. The use of complaining with no resolution and/or posting photos of houses, cars, dog poop or describing someone’s physical appearance is upsetting, negative and personally annoying.”

That is not to say there is no room for disagreement. “I do enjoy owners expressing differences of opinion; however, sometimes those discussions become personal attacks and divert from the real discussion,” Rose added.

Chris Barrett, WOW Publisher and administrator for the Facebook page Westchase Neighborhood News, noticed an uptick in the number of negative posts meant to shame others soon after its creation. In response, the group adopted a policy of deleting such posts. Exceptions are made only when the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office or Westchase Community Development District (CDD) requests the posting of surveillance video to help find someone as part of investigation.

“Many folks view deletion of public-shaming posts as ‘censoring’ or a meddlesome attempt to control negativity,” he stated. “The truth is that their deletion is about protecting the poster as much as the group and its moderators.”

Barrett noted it is rare for someone to post a photo or negative comment 24 hours after an incident. Instead public shaming posts tend to happen in the heat of the moment. “Most folks, given more time, really don’t want to be remembered for the moments they erupt in anger and frustration.”

Barrett added that another reason for deleting public-shaming posts is that they rarely accomplish what they purport to do. “While they’re intended to notify a person that he’s been caught and called out, odds are the person won’t even see it. But it tends to trigger an explosion of negativity in the group that doesn’t reflect well on the poster or the community.”

Posts related to the behavior of kids are also grounds for deletion. “As a society, we hold kids to a different standard than adults,” Barrett noted. “We extend them special protection and rightly so. Because their brains aren’t fully developed yet, their judgment and risk assessment are notoriously poor. WOW staff deletes public-shaming posts because we’d want other folks to show the same sensitivity to our kids. It’s better to have these conversations in private like our parents used to.”

The group’s key reason for deleting public-shaming posts, however, is that they usually do not tell the whole story. “Was the car that cut you off racing to the hospital? Did the driver of the car parked in the handicapped space forget to take their handicapped placard out of their glove box?”

Ultimately, Westchase Neighborhood News bans public-shaming posts in order to protect the poster and the group moderators from a potential defamation suit.

That is something that Rose worries about. “I am not on the group 24/7 because the intent is for communication to be between residents and not intended to be a highly censored group page,” she stated. “Posts do not get deleted unless brought to my attention by either a message or someone reporting it, unless I happen to be on the group and see a photo that is inappropriate or read something that is a personal attack.”

She noted that with 730 members in the group, the majority of posts are positive neighborhood communication, but her fear lies in what legal liability she is exposing herself to when negative posts arise. “Censoring a community forum is no easy task,” she stated.
Venting can be cathartic, but negative posts on a public forum, especially those intended to shame others, can quickly get out of hand. “If you need to say something, keep it very general,” Esposito advised. “A simple post like, ‘The speed limit in our neighborhood is 35 m.p.h. I hope we are all following that,’ will do.”
 
In the end, Esposito concluded that it all comes down to risk versus reward. “What are you really gaining? And is it worth the post to risk a lawsuit?”

By Karen Ring

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WOW in Tasmania and Seoul

Over the winter, WOW traveled to Oceania and Asia as part of its world travels.

Brian and Teresa Keefer of The Greens took WOW with them on their trip to the Korean peninsula, where they were fortunate enough to attend the Winter Olympics. “Our son-in-law is stationed there with the Army and we went to spend some time with our daughter and him in Pyeongtek,” wrote Teresa.

The Keefers sent photos of various sites in South Korea. “While we were there we toured Seoul, where we experienced the culture, the nightlife, and went to the top of the Seoul Tower,” Teresa added. “We visited the site of the 1988 Summer Olympics, where the flame still burns and the flags still fly. We also were fortunate enough to get tickets to a 2018 Winter Olympic Ice Skating event in PyeongChang.”

In their photo here, Teresa and Brian are shown at the Olympic flame that still burns at the site of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Meanwhile, the same month that the Keefers were bundled up for the South Korean winter, two Westchase area couples were enjoying balmy summer temperatures despite being at a similar longitude to South Korea.

Rudy and Cathy Powell of Mandolin Reserve and Ron and Diane Shaver of Glencliff, vacationed on a 12-day cruise starting in Sydney Australia and traveling to Melbourne, Tasmania, Fiordland, Dunedin, Akaroa, Taurangua and Auckland.

Can you place Tasmania on a mental map? Perhaps you can picture Australia in the Southern Hemisphere with the islands of New Zealand to the southeast of Australia. Tasmania is an island state of Australia and sits like a broad smile due south of the Australia’s eastern side. Tasmania is 26,410 square miles, a bit larger than West Virginia’s 24,230 square miles.

Yet all of Australia and Tasmania lie below the equator in the Southern Hemisphere. Morever, Tasmania sits as far south of the equator as Pennsylvania and Ohio lie north of it. And when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere as it was in Korea in February, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. So while the Keefers and the Powell/Shaver party were at similar longitudes, their far different latitudes had them experiencing opposite seasons. 


As for the second picture here?

“This photo was taken at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania,” explained Cathy Powell. “The sanctuary is dedicated to rehabilitating and releasing Tasmania's injured and orphaned animals, including one of the largest kangaroo and wallaby free-ranging refuges.”

At the refuge the couples were able to see Tasmanian devils, koalas, wombats, wallabies and golden possums. “Tasmania also is the world’s largest producer of lavender as well as growing and exporting cherries and hops,” Cathy added.

We thank the Keefers, the Powells and the Shavers for sharing their travels with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Summer Vacations!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Tampa’s History Carved in Stone

Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Tampa just a mere two blocks from I-275 you’ll find an important piece of Tampa history—Oaklawn Cemetery.

Established in 1850, Oaklawn was the first public burial ground in Tampa, which was, at the time, a struggling town of 500 persons.  According to the minutes of the Alachua County Commissioners meeting, Oaklawn was designated as the final resting place for "white and slave, rich and poor."

The founding of Oaklawn followed a trend then occurring in many U.S. communities of creating rural or garden cemeteries. Up until this time the only option for burial had been in a church graveyard. Many of those were becoming overcrowded. 

Gloria Beauchamp with Hillsborough County’s Parks and Recreation Department said that it is hard to determine the earliest burial date in Oaklawn. “Unfortunately, the original plot assignment record was lost sometime after the Civil War,” she said. “Subsequent confusion as to the exact place and name of many of the burials stems from the fact that many early grave markers were made from carved cypress, which was subject to rot and fire. Moreover, periodic storms and hurricane forces displaced many markers or washed them away entirely.”

A walk around Oaklawn Cemetery, however, still reveals Tampa’s history. It also shows the Victorian era’s emphasis on gravestones as a way to memorialize the dead. You can find gravestones with images that were popular at the time, including the broken column, suggesting a life cutoff; lambs, especially on children's graves, symbolizing innocence; the draped urn, referencing both ancient burial practices and the veil between life and the afterlife; the rose, frequently seen on women's graves, expressing purity and fragility; as well as fraternal emblems or mottos, indicating the decedent's membership in Freemasonry, Woodmen of the World, Elks or the American Legion.

Oaklawn is the final resting place for many individuals who were instrumental in Tampa’s development as well as home to mass graves for the area’s earliest settlers. Many of those buried in Oaklawn were lost to a yellow fever epidemic that struck Tampa shortly after the cemetery opened. “The 15th governor of Florida, Henry L. Mitchell, is [also] at rest in the southwest corner,” said Beauchamp. “Nearby stands the marker for Judge Joseph B. Lancaster, who served as a Florida Supreme Court judge and has the further distinction of being Tampa’s first mayor.” Lancaster’s memorial also features the seal of the city for which he served.

Beauchamp added, “Also interred in this portion of the cemetery are framers of all five Florida constitutions: William B. Hooker, James Gettis, Simon Thurman, James T, Magbee, C.R. Mobley, Dr. John P. Wall, and Captain John T. Lesley, who also served as Tampa’s 12th mayor.”
Located in the southeast section of the cemetery is the McKay family plot, which contains the graves of the pioneering family of which three served as mayor: James McKay Sr.(Tampa’s sixth mayor), James McKay Jr. (34th) and Donald McKay (38th and 42nd).

Oaklawn Cemetery is located at 606 E. Harrison Street and includes a section for Catholic burials called St. Louis Catholic Cemetery. The two graveyards were added as a Historic District to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 19, 2017.

The cemetery is open to the public everyday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. You can find a walking tour guide online at http://www.tampagov.net/parks-and-recreation/cemeteries/oaklawn-walking-tour

By Marcy Sanford

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2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Nipuna Weerapperuma

The son of Dilrika and Viraj Weeraperuma of Abbotsford, Nipuna Weeraperuma graduated from Middleton High School with an atmospheric 9.02 GPA and 402 community service hours.

In the fall he will study computer engineering at University of Florida.

Dual enrolled at Middleton and Hillsborough Community College and University of South Florida, Nipuna had a transcript that featured over 11 honors courses and 17 AP courses, as well as multiple computer coding and engineer courses. A National Merit Finalist, Weeraperuma was also a National AP Scholar, a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) E-Business Champion and a Hillsborough County Master Musician.

As a talented violinist and section leader with the Middleton Orchestra, Nipuna founded the school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society. He was a captain of the varsity swimming team and founded Middleton’s popular Table Tennis Club and the Middleton Math Mondays Club. He also was vice president and founding member of the National Business Honors Society. He even held part-time jobs, including the creation of a start-up company named Teaving, which seeks to spread traditional teas to the West.

His hundreds of hours of community service were earned with several organizations. He was a member of the Tampa Mayor's Youth Corps, a volunteer with St Joseph's Hospital in Tampa and the National Cancer Hospital, Shantha Sevena Hospice in Sri Lanka, a camp director at Museum of Science and Industry and a founder of the Summer Stem Academy At Bible Truth Ministries Academy. Most significantly, Weeraperuma raised funds for and planned the construction of a 110-foot deep tube well for a village school in Sri Lanka. So grateful were the villagers for Weeraperuma’s project that when he visited for the well’s grand opening, the village threw a parade in his honor.

Wrote Suzette Dean, one of his primary community service supervisors, “In all my years of experience, some individuals stand out for their great qualities and Nipuna is one of those people. He is well known for his stellar work ethic, courtesy, and teamwork mindset.” She added, “He has shown me time and time again that he is a positive, motivated leader with limitless potential.”

Congratulations to Nipuna and good luck at UF!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

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Spreading Joy at Publix and Beyond

For most, shopping for groceries isn’t at the top of the list of favorite things to do. Stockbridge resident Marty Alderman makes that task a lot more tolerable.

Alderman cheerfully greets customers at the end of the checkout lane at Publix, helping fulfill the store’s motto: “Where shopping is a pleasure.” For 13 years, Alderman has worked as a bagger for Publix, making sure the customer has a pleasurable experience until the bitter end of the shopping task.

Alderman almost always has a smile on her face as she bags groceries and assists customers to their cars. Her cheerful demeanor and positive outlook on life are contagious to those fortunate enough to encounter her while she works. Unfortunately, life for Alderman did not start out that way. At birth, it became clear that life would not be easy for her, yet she managed to overcome several birth defects and defy a dismal prognosis from doctors. “Marty wasn’t due until Labor Day but I went into labor in June,” explained her mom, Dianne Lehmann. 

Doctors were able to stop the labor and Lehmann was bedridden until mid-July, when Marty was born prematurely with floating retinas, blocked eardrums and a blocked esophagus. When she was just 9 months old, surgery was performed to attach her retinas. She fell into a coma that lasted for five days. At 13 months, she endured surgery to correct her eardrums. It was during that time that doctors discovered that part of the frontal lobe of her brain never fully developed. This would affect her attention span, as well as her occupational and developmental skills. Doctors gave Lehmann the grim news that her daughter would probably not live beyond 13 years. That news, Lehmann said, was unacceptable. “No, we’re gonna fight this because there is a power bigger than any doctor,” she told herself. 

And fight, they did. 

Alderman entered school and went on to graduate from West Orange High School in Winter Garden. Along the way, she entered the Best Buddies program. Best Buddies is an international program that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, employment training and leadership development for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. They also help members learn to live independently, secure jobs and improve communication skills. “It’s a wonderful program and they really helped us a lot,” Lehmann shared.

“That’s how I learned to bag groceries!” Alderman said of their job-training unit.

It was through Best Buddies that she participated in the Special Olympics, where she earned four first place ribbons. “It was amazing and so much fun,” she said of the experience.

After graduating from high school, her first job was at a daycare where she worked as a lunch assistant and playground helper. She did this until 2003 when they moved to Westchase. 

At the advice of a neighbor, Alderman applied for a job at Publix and was hired as a bagger.  July 14 marked her 13th year at the Westchase Publix location. She enjoys the customers as they come through her line but she admits she does have some favorites. The Aston Gardens residents are among those who seek her out as they go to the checkout lines. 

Celebrations for special milestones have been marked by parties, Alderman explained.  “We did big, bigger and biggest,” she said. 

When she turned 13, they threw a big party to mark the year she was not expected to live past. A bigger party was held to celebrate her high school graduation. The biggest party she’s ever had marked her 30th birthday. More than 200 people attended the surprise birthday party held at a local restaurant. “Oh I was shocked. I cried and all I could say was, ‘This isn’t for me, is it?’”

Her friend, Hugh, from Aston Gardens said it best when he told her, “If Marty isn’t here, it isn’t a party.”

Cruising is her favorite pastime. She has been on more than fifty!  Favorite locations include the Panama Canal and Honduras. Through the years, she has even become Facebook friends with many frequent shoppers. “They want to see my cruise pictures,” she chuckled. 

Be sure to look for Marty Alderman at the checkout line the next time you’re in Publix. She’ll be the chatty one with a smile who is ready to assist you!

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

By Lisa Stephens

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Imagine Museum Brings Studio Glass Movement to St. Pete

St. Petersburg is home to museums showcasing fine art, photography and Salvador Dali.

The newest member of the museum family, The Imagine Museum, is dedicated to The American Studio Glass Movement. Opened earlier this year, the museum’s mission is to educate its visitors about the movement while showcasing more than 500 pieces of American Studio Glass created by more than 55 artists who were, and continue to be, integral to the development of glass as a fine art form.

“We are the only museum in the U.S. devoted entirely to the American Studio Glass Movement,” said Imagine Museum Deputy Director Jane Buckman. “Other museums have collections along with their other areas of art, but we are the only one with this distinct focus. The founder, Trish Duggan, was determined to bring this museum to St. Pete because of the vibrancy of the cultural arts in St. Pete and her interest in studio glass and the number of people and venues displaying or working in the glass medium in the region.”

The Imagine Museum’s regular collection tells the story of the studio glass movement from its beginning in 1962, when a University of Wisconsin professor began experimenting with hot glass in his studio, to the present. The collection includes pieces and artists that best represent the history of the movement. It was awesome to see the variety of pieces and ways they were designed. From glass houses to a glass chair, small pieces to large statues, the museum will put you in awe of the beauty of glass and how something so delicate can be manipulated in so many ways.

I have loved Dale Chihuly’s work since I first saw it at a museum in Memphis but until visiting The Imagine Museum did not realize that there was an actual glass movement or just how many other American artists have chosen glass as their medium.  

In addition to the regular collection, the museum hosts special exhibits throughout the year, such as the one currently on display: Paul Stankard’s Unseen Worlds featuring 100 glass paperweights in a garden-like installation. According to Buckman, “Paul Stankard is considered a pioneer in the studio glass movement and an internationally acclaimed glass paperweight master.”

Buckman added that the museum will host several special events in connection with the exhibit. “Throughout the fall we will be hosting artist Skype lectures on Sundays, a weekend with Paul Stankard and educational program collaborations with various groups in the region.”

Additionally, the museum hosts After Hours events on Friday evenings as well as story times and family days.

Imagine Museum
1901 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg
(727) 300-1700
http://www.imaginemuseum.com

By Marcy Sanford

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Spice Kitchen Delivers Distinctive Flavor

I have a confession to make: Until last month, I had never eaten Indian food.

When I heard Spice Kitchen was opening in the old Enzo’s spot (and the old Nabruzzi, and the old Zerillo’s before that), I admit I was a little intimidated. How could I provide a valid review with no frame of reference? But then I saw a few comments on Facebook from other Westchasers who had never eaten Indian food either, so I decided to take one for the team.

Let me say this – it’s definitely distinctive. There’s a smell, a taste, a consistency that is like nothing I’ve eaten before. I don’t mean this in a pejorative way at all… but it’s good to know going in (particularly if you are an Indian food newbie). It’s different. 

The space, however, is much the same. It’s still one big room with a bar in the front, this time decorated with a tasteful rustic look. Real tablecloths and napkins and fresh flowers on every table add a nice touch. The names of the menu items at Spice Kitchen are all Indian, but the ingredients for each dish are listed, so I kind of knew what I was getting. I did rely on our server, Kristin, for information and recommendations. She was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and suggested the Pakoras ($6) and Samosa Chaat ($7) for starters.

Both were an entirely new experience. The Pakoras reminded me of fritters – dense, packed with veggies and quite filling. They were served with a sweet tamarind dipping sauce and, although a tad bland, were good. The Chaat looked like nachos but tasted nothing like it. However, it was a nice fusion of textures and tastes and was surprisingly good.

There are plenty of choices for the main course including sizzlers, seafood, curries (including lamb and goat), vegetarian dishes and Biryani, which is described as “a standard in Indian cuisine.” However, we opted for items that had been recommended by friends: half a Tandoori Chicken ($13) for my dining partner, boneless Butter Chicken Curry ($16) for me and garlic Naan bread ($4) to share. 

Several dishes have adjustable spice levels (from 1 to 5, Kristin explained, along with “Indian hot”). My dining partner likes his food about as spicy as ketchup, so he went with level 1. Still, it made my eyes water. I can’t even imagine what a 3 or 4 would be like. The butter chicken was a bit more mellow (even though I opted for level 2). It’s served in a bowl, almost like a soup, and is accompanied by a heap of fluffy white rice (which I really loved). The chicken was fall-apart tender and flavorful, and when spooned with the sauce over the rice it was really delicious.

For dessert, we tried the Gulab Jamun with ice cream ($6). Essentially a fat deep-fried donut hole, it’s smothered with a warm, super-sweet syrup and served with vanilla ice cream. Everything comes in a separate dish, and it was kind of fun to dump it all together. I also had to try the Masala Chai ($4), which is a spiced tea with milk. It comes unsweetened and hot in a small glass and I’ll be honest, it smells a little weird. However, by the time I finished it, I had decided I liked it better than my usual chai go-to (Starbucks).

Spice Kitchen won’t be for everyone. But if you’ve never had Indian food and are on the fence – go. You might be surprised.

Spice Kitchen
4 Stars
spicekitchentampa.net
11653 Countryway Blvd.
Closed Mondays; lunch special Thali (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) available weekdays; brunch available weekends

By Melanie Casey

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