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Win Mom a Salon Pampering Package for Mother’s Day!

Kids and dads, listen up!

Does the special lady in your life deserve some pampering?

Tell the folks at Belanova Salon why your mom deserves to be treated like a queen and she could win a pampering package.

The winner will be able to choose from the many services that Belanova offers: haircuts, conditioning treatments, waxing, highlights and more. When she’s getting her relaxing scalp massage, she’ll definitely forgive you for the time you forgot to even buy her a Mother’s Day card. If it’s been a while since she’s had a new hairstyle or she’s not sure which treatment would work best for her, the expert staff at Belanova, located in the Westchase Town Center, will help her out.

“Owner Eleana Filoqi and I are so happy to be a part of the Westchase community,” said Brittney Wright. “We see so many wonderful hardworking mothers walking around this neighborhood and we want to give them some much deserved pampering.”

If you would like to enter your mother into this special Mother’s Day contest for some extra special pampering, send an e-mail to belanovatampa@gmail.com with a short paragraph about why your mom deserves some pampering. Be sure to include your name and contact phone number. All entries are due by Friday, May 16.

And take this tip from a mom: make a copy of the letter and give it to her for Mother’s day. That will put a smile on her face, whether she wins or not.

By Marcy Sanford

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WCA Establishes Chess Program; Shifts Fall Garage Sale Date

The April 10 meeting of the WCA Board saw directors establish a new program and cast a divided vote on rescheduling the fall garage sale due to Yom Kippur.

Chelmsford Voting Member (VM) Bill Dennis began the session by commending the Westchase Community Association (WCA) and Greenacre Property Management. “I have noticed a big difference in the neighborhoods now that Greenacre has been going around checking on the neighborhoods more,” he stated. “I’d like to thank them for doing a good job.”

WCA President Nancy Sells was absent from the meeting.

Director Joe Odda reported that there had been a temporary setback for a proposed dog park on vacant land next to the Upper Tampa Bay Library. Hillsborough County representatives had originally told Odda and the WCA Dog Park Task Force that the county owned the land. Recently questions have arisen about whether the county or the library owns the land. Odda said a county lawyer was looking into the matter and county representatives were developing a list of alternate locations.

All directors voted in favor of appointing Shawn Yesner to the Swim and Tennis Committee as a neutral member. The committee is supposed to be made up of five members: two from tennis programs, two from swim programs and one neutral person. WCA Vice President Ken Blair said the board needed to determine what made a person a neutral party. Director Joaquin Arrillaga made a motion that the neutral participant be defined as someone who is not (nor has any family member who is) an active participant in an organized swim or tennis team. All directors voted in favor.

Director Dyan Pithers said she had not been able to attend the last Swim and Tennis Committee meeting but that it had been brought to her attention that there was a problem with players from other communities taking the spots on Westchase United States Tennis Association (USTA) teams that should be going to Westchase residents. She suggested that something needed to be done to make sure the captains of the Westchase USTA teams were adhering to Westchase association rules. Directors agreed to ask Tennis Pro Roberto Calla to make sure each captain receives a packet including the WCA rules for tennis teams in addition to the USTA information. Directors also stipulated that residents have a preregistration period where they can get spots on teams before nonresidents.

All directors voted in favor of allowing “We’re Here to Help,” a local nonprofit whose mission is to mentor economically and academically disadvantaged college-bound students, to use the Swim and Tennis Center’s activity room for a luncheon for students, parents and board members.

WCA Manager Debbie Sainz reported that the association sent out 1,770 deed-restriction violation letters to homeowners during February and March. Pithers said she had received a complaint from a resident who received three violations, which were all mailed out separately. She asked if the violations couldn’t be sent together to save money on postage. Sainz said she would check to see if that could be done.

Sainz also reported that the storage room at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center has started separating from the rest of the building. Sierra Construction is coming out to look at the problem.

Documents Review Committee Chair Dale Sells reported that at their April meeting Westchase Voting Members approved sending proposed amendments to the Westchase Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs) and Bylaws out to homeowners for polling. Residents should have received the revised documents by mid-April and are asked to return them by May 20. Proposed amendments to the Westchase Single Family Residential Guidelines are being reviewed by the WCA’s attorney and will be presented to VMs at their May meeting.

In other actions, all directors voted in favor of suspending the use rights of owners who are delinquent in their annual assessments. Directors also unanimously voted to start a new chess program at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center.

Sainz reported that the association had received a request to change the date of the fall garage sale because it fell on the same date as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, considered the holiest day of the year by observant Jews. Board members voted 4-2 with Dyan Pithers and Joe Odda casting the dissenting votes to change the date of the fall garage sale from Oct. 4 to Nov. 1. Pithers said she felt it was unwise to make changes of established events based on a religious calendar. Odda felt it was unwise to hold the garage sale the day after Halloween.

Percy Legendre, a representative from the WCA’s accounting firm, Bashor & Legendre, LLP, reviewed the WCA’s 2013 audit for board members. The WCA has revenue of approximately 1.9 million dollars from assessments, World of Westchase advertising, and program fees. The WCA’s expenditures are approximately 1.8 million dollars. Residents can request the full audit from the WCA. All voted in favor of establishing a separate line item in the budget to hold a quarter of the association’s operating expenses in reserve.

The next WCA Board meeting is scheduled for May 8 at the WCA Offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

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VMs Send Document Amendments for Owner Polling; Debate Rental Rules

The April 8 Westchase Voting Members meeting started off with quick, unanimous votes for two neighborhood guidelines.

VMs offered final approval of Kingsford’s mailbox guideline and initial approval of Berkeley Square’s exterior color palette. Following these two new business items, Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Nancy Sells turned the meeting over to her husband, Dale Sells. Chair of the Document Review Committee, Dale Sells went over revisions to the proposed amendments to Westchase’s Covenants, Committee and Restrictions (CCRs) and Bylaws.

VMs initially reviewed the amendments at their March meeting, when VM Ruben Collazo (The Shires) requested time to send his residents the wording of a rule that would permit retractable awnings for the first time. Collazo said he had polled his residents and they were fairly split, so he made a motion to adopt the wording of the proposed amendment.

With the motion unanimously approved, Sells explained that the next step was to mail out the proposed amendments to all owners for polling, which was expected to occur in late April. VMs will cast the remainder of votes at their June VM meeting.

Absent from the March VM meeting, VM Don Costello (Stamford), however, commented on one proposed bylaws amendment regarding assessments and lien rights (Article X, Sections 1, 5 and 6). The proposed amendment would place the association’s lien claim over the first mortgage holder’s when homes are sold. Costello asked, “If someone gets a fine and a lien on the house, is that lien over the [bank] mortgage?”

When Sells replied that it would be, Costello said, “I am concerned about the fine because Jon Ellis (the association’s legal counsel) said the bank would have a problem with fines, which might mean Westchase would be boycotted by the banks.”

Sells responded, “As Jon (Ellis) explained it to me, the assessment lien is also subordinate, so one of the changes is to move that lien ahead of the mortgage. The point of doing the change was to make it all consistent. Expenses incurred relating to a single resident should not be a concern for all of the other residents.”

Adding that the change would address that issue, Sells added, “When the property is sold, Westchase would be made whole.”

VMs subsequently indicated by vote of hands to send all the proposed amendments for homeowner polling.

After some additional discussion about some of the proposed changes, VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) kicked off the next topic, which tackled investment properties and renters. The agenda item was added based on an analysis completed by WOW Editor Chris Barrett, which was presented to WCA Board Members and VMs via e-mail and then to the residents in the March 2014 World of Westchase. Barrett’s e-mails prompted the WCA board to send a letter to VMs criticizing the WOW editor.

Referring to the board’s letter, Mercer said, “I have been rather disappointed in the unprofessional tone of the letter that went out to VMs – and then to say that [the growth in rentals] only applies to a certain neighborhood. If you talk to people in the smaller neighborhoods, we are experiencing a much higher rental rate. I can speak from experience in my neighborhood, where the non-resident owners don’t serve on the board and don’t participate. Some renters have a lack of respect for community property.”

Mercer concluded, “There were some suggestions made (in Barrett’s e-mail to VMs) about what other HOAs have done and I would hope that these would be discussed.”

WCA Director Dyan Pithers, a Realtor and West Park Village resident, commented on a portion of the information presented in Barrett’s March article. Addressing whether the cash sales of homes was a gauge of investor activity, Pithers stated, “I called every real estate professional that was involved in a cash sale since the assertion was that case sales equals investor. Only 7.2 percent of those were investors. The cash sale correlation to investors is actually not accurate.”

Pithers’ information was also included in WOW’s March article.

Addressing renters’ care for homes, Pithers added that her company manages rental properties. “I do a very strong due diligence on renters. I have never had any of these types of problems.” She added, “As a board member, it is upsetting to me to hear someone say that the board doesn’t care. We care tremendously. I spent countless hours calling Realtors.”

Mercer responded, “Would it surprise you to know that there was a porn movie shot in a rental?”

“No,” Pithers replied, “Morals are not tied to whether you own your home or rent your home. That happens in the most expensive homes and the poorest homes. I don’t think it’s characteristic of our community.” She added, “That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be dealt with by the police or, if it is the will of the community, in guidelines or a deed-restricted way.”

Barrett, present in the audience, joined the conversation. “I raised some issues after some residents of Keswick Forest came to me expressing concern. I saw the issue on my own block, which is now 40 percent rental. I came up with the cash sales numbers and Dyan (Pithers) gave me some feedback on it.”

Barrett, however, cautioned against using the cash sales data to conclude the number of rental properties was low in Westchase. “When I looked into [rental properties in portions of The Bridges and Keswick Forest], none were bought by cash sales. I concluded that cash sales were not a good judge of whether a property was a rental. So instead, I focused on homestead exemption and where the Property Appraiser’s Office showed a different address for the owners.”

Referring to the actions other HOAs are taking in response to the growth of rental properties, Barrett said, “I think there are HOAs that are exploring it. Maybe it is time to start thinking about this because homeowner patterns have changed.” He added, “I do think it has affected some villages on a vastly different scale.”

VM Mary Mirk (Berkeley Square) agreed. “I don’t know what to do about this either but as you hit a certain percentage of rentals, the mortgage companies and banks don’t want to make mortgages.” She, however, added “I would not support any changes that we make here unless it includes all homes.”

Mirk also later brought up that crime had increased in her village along with the number of renters.

VM Jeanne Klimshot (Bennington) asked, “What about where the homeowners have moved away and are renting houses? I have nine houses on my street that are being rented and the owners have moved away. I am concerned that we don’t keep anything that says that they must notify the HOA.”

VM Karen Nelson (Traditional TH) also agreed. “In my development, our board is concerned with the number of rentals in our community. We need some controls.”

VM Aaron Thompson (Keswick Forest) said his concerns focused elsewhere, specifically unoccupied homes. “In Keswick, we just had two houses that were purchased off the auction block.” Thompson added, “Some people have done phenomenal jobs flipping houses.”

Expressing reluctance to embrace rules regarding rentals, VM Eric Holt (Radcliffe) said, “Whether [the rental rate] is two percent or 50 percent, what we are talking about is: do we want to treat homeowners differently?”

VM Gerald Pappa (The Greens) remarked that, in his experience, most Westchase rentals were not overseen by a professional property manager. “I am a person that owns a real estate company that specializes in property management. It doesn’t matter if we are living in Westchase or New Tampa. There is a difference between a professionally managed property versus an owner that lives far away and is managing from a distance.”

Harbor Links alternate Cameron Spears, present in the audience, said, “There isn’t anything wrong with treating an owner differently than a renter. The precedent has been set even by banks.”

VM Ahab Diba (Village Green) asked of the management team, “Do the renters get an orientation [on community rules]?”

Association Manager Debbie Sainz, Property Manager, responded, “It is the owner’s responsibility to do the orientation.” She added regarding renters, however, “When they come into our office, we try to give them the information.”

VM Pappa added, “Owners from afar don’t necessarily do their due diligence to give them the rules and regulations but a professional property management company makes them sign off on them.”

Diba added, “There is a home in the Village Green where three families are living in one house because they didn’t get the orientation. The house looks bad. The sidewalks look bad. They are not owners and they don’t care. They park on the grass.”

Sells then asked Sainz to present her analysis on deed restriction violations of owners versus renters.

Referring to Covenants Committee-levied fines for violations of deed restrictions, Sainz stated, “I went back to 2013 and we had 152 appeals. One hundred or 66 percent of those were owner-occupied homes, 13 percent were for homes that were vacant with 27 or 18 percent that were rentals.”

VM Brian Bobrovetski (Kingsford) responded, “You are saying that renters aren’t really the problem.”

Pithers said, “I don’t hear we are saying that renters don’t care, but there is a tone of renters versus owners. I think people are worried about what the home looks like on the outside.”

Pithers continued, “Be very careful about restrictions. We have a lot of military that get orders to move but want to retire here. I would encourage you that no matter what happens, we have a balanced discussion that is full of facts.”

Arrillaga added, “I want to clarify that this is a work in progress. A few years ago here, we voted on allowing violations to become liens. We raised the violations charge from $250 to $1,000. This year, there are 60 percent more violations and we are getting their attention, whether they are owners or renters. If we avoid renters here, imagine all of the empty houses without a renter in it. I think the violations are being addressed.”

Providing the only brief chuckle from the group, Arrillaga added, “By the way, I got my letter that my driveway is not clean.”

VM Ralph Caputo (Abbottsford) asked Sainz, “Do you know anything about what other communities are doing about this?”

Sainz replied, “I polled some of the [Greenacre] managers at the larger communities. Most are doing what we are doing. There was one that required leases to go through them.”

As the discussion continued, Thompson (Keswick Forest) said, “We’ve discussed this and discussed this. Is there a way to get this to a committee?”

Wrapping up the conversation, Pithers said, “I have an overreaching comment that I want everyone to consider. I know that we are a little frustrated with the changing landscape of our homes since the collapse, but we are coming out of it. I drive through various communities every day and ours looks the best. We are involved and listening and making changes when people come to us. We do have a fabulous community.”

Concluding action on the matter, Mercer (The Bridges) volunteered to organize a committee to further analyze the situation and Thompson (Keswick Forest), Diba (Village Green) and Nelson (Traditional TH) volunteered to join her.

VMs adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

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Do You Want to Serve on the Westchase CDD?

The General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 4, will decide more than who wins the Florida governorship or control of the U.S. Congress.

That election will give Westchase residents the opportunity to run for a position as resident supervisor on Westchase’s Community Development District (CDD). 

Residents of the CDD, which encompasses all of Westchase, will be voting for Seats 1 and 2, currently held by Harbor Links/The Estates resident Mark Ragusa and Bridges resident Greg Chesney. The seats are non-partisan.

Both have indicated they will run for reelection.

In the six supervisors’ elections held since 2004, only a single seat on the districts has undergone a contest. Residents who have qualified and registered to run for seats have won by default when no other candidates stepped forward. In 2010, a district seat even saw no resident file to run for it, prompting supervisors to simply reappoint the incumbent. Residents of the district are therefore encouraged to consider running.

The CDDs meet the first Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. They are responsible for maintenance of Westchase commons areas, ponds and parks with the exception of the two swim and tennis centers. The CDD’s budget is significant and board members set assessments for residential and commercial properties within the community. Supervisors receive $200 per meeting they attend. For more information on the role of the CDDs and their supervisors, see the Westchase Government Primer on page 115.

The qualifying period for the election runs from noon on June 16 through noon on June 20. Candidates may qualify in one of two ways, either by petition with 25 signatures (due May 19) or by paying a qualifying fee. Both approaches require a specific process detailed at http://www.votehillsborough.org/?id=60 . Other documents, however, have to be completed as well.

During qualifying week candidates must also file a financial disclosure form and a loyalty oath. Candidates who file early, however, will be provided qualifying packets by the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office with information about completing qualification.

For additional information, contact Xenia Sanchez of the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office at 272-5850, Ext. 4469, or e-mail her at xsanchez@hcsoe.org.

By Chris Barrett, Editor

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CDD to Tackle New Landscaping Bid and Playground Equipment

At their April 1 meeting Westchase CDD Supervisors faced news of two potential big-ticket items in their coming fiscal year – and it was no joke.

At the meeting, which saw the earliest discussions about the district’s new budget (beginning in October), supervisors on the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) continued discussions on bringing their playgrounds into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Their landscaping contractor, Mainscape, also made clear it was not interested in continuing its contract for an additional year at no increase. That news triggered preparations for bidding out the district’s biggest contract.

In recent months an audit of the district’s playground equipment has also made clear most equipment is no longer compliant with the ADA. Last month, supervisors requested that CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart undertake a second audit and bring her recommendations to them. Stewart announced she had inspected the equipment with the owner of Florida Water Features, whom she identified as a certified expert on compliance issues. “He basically indicated the existing equipment is non-compliant,” she stated. “All of the wood structures would have to be renovated.”

It could prove a pricey project. “I think you could easily spend a couple hundred thousand on each piece,” observed District Manager Andy Mendenhall.

Much of the district’s playground equipment – some of which dates to the late 1990s – is also well past its lifespan, according to Stewart, who stated playground equipment typically lasts seven to eight years.

Supervisors debated the best approach to finding a fix and hiring a skilled contractor well-versed in ADA compliance issues. Remarked CDD Chair Mark Ragusa, “I want to do business with a company that knows what the law is.”

Supervisor Brian Ross also expressed support for finding a “one-stop shop,” such as a design-build firm, that could both design the new playgrounds and then oversee the equipment installation.

While the project’s cost will trigger a formal bid process, supervisors have discovered that particular contractors tend to use only a single manufacturer’s equipment, making it challenging to get multiple bids if supervisors should favor a particular manufacturer. Ultimately supervisors requested Stewart to invite a handful of companies, including RDC, which completed the district’s previous capital improvement project, and Hardeman Kempton, which had made a previous pitch for a West Park Village park, to meet supervisors in May.

When Field Supervisor Doug Mays made his report later in the meeting, he informed supervisors that Mainscape had declined to renew their three-year contract for an additional year at no increase. “They’re not making the kind of funds on this the way they were hoping to make,” he stated. In recent months, Mainscape has also complained about the district’s contract. Under it the company has its work graded each month by independent horticultural inspector OLM, to determine they receive performance pay – 20 percent of the monthly contract.

Mays suggested that supervisors expand their bid prequalification requirements to enable smaller companies with lower overheads to bid the work. He also stated he wouldn’t be surprised if bids come in 20 percent higher than Mainscape’s current contract, which Mays suggested underestimated costs for maintaining the community’s street trees.

In other actions:

Supervisors reviewed the result of bids for repaving roads in the gated neighborhoods of Stonebridge and The Greens. Both attracted just a single bidder but the unit cost (milling and paving per yard) in Stonebridge came in higher than in The Greens, a far larger project. Supervisors requested staff go back to the bidder to see if the company will use the same lower unit cost in Stonebridge and check with past paving costs to see if the single bid is comparable.

Field Supervisor Mays asked supervisors how to handle issues related to a for-profit fitness instructor suspected of using Baybridge Park for personal training classes and an organized U8 soccer team’s regular use of Glencliff Park’s fields without an agreement with the district and proof of insurance. While supervisors made no formal motions on the matter, Mays was instructed to notify the instructor that for-profit classes could not be conducted in the park and to treat organized teams with coaches who conduct drills and practices differently than pick-up games by residents.

Asked in March to produce a recommended list of uses for a difficult-to-access 5.5-acre piece of land lying between Stonebridge and The Vineyards, CDD Engineer Tonja Steward informed supervisors that, regardless of use, the district would have to seek rezoning of the property, which is currently zoned for townhomes. Supervisors, however, asked staff to instead clarify access issues and potential parking with both TECO and Hillsborough School District prior to proceeding with rezoning or any construction plans. CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler, however, emphasized that supervisors would benefit by asking residents what their preferred uses of the land included.

Supervisors unanimously passed a motion authorizing the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections to include the district’s upcoming biannual elections on the November general election ballot. In November the seats of CDD Chair Mark Ragusa and Supervisor Greg Chesney will be up for election. The five supervisors are elected to four-year terms in even years with two seats chosen in one election and three in the election two years after. Residents interested in running should contact the Supervisor of Elections office to determine deadlines and procedures for qualifying for the ballot.

After discussing the growing use of event and program banners in the Linebaugh median, supervisors requested staff research the district’s banner policy for their review in May. In the interim, a motion authorizing the Westchase Rotary to post a banner advertising their Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl died for lack of a second.

Supervisors heard from Joe Odda, chair of the Westchase Community Association's (WCA) Dog Park Task Force, that a parcel of land adjacent to the UTB Regional Library and under consideration for a dog park, was now in question as library officials insisted the land belonged to the library board rather than to the county. Odda stated he was researching the matter further.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:17 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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VMs Hear Costco Presentation and Proposed Westchase Rule Amendments

March saw Westchase Voting Members hear a public presentation of the Costco project and proposed changes to Westchase rules. VMs, however, postponed a planned poll of Westchase homeowners regarding the rules changes for at least a month.

The first order of business at the March 18 meeting of Westchase Voting Members meeting was a presentation on the Costco development. Attorney Ronald Weaver of the law firm Stearns, Weaver, Miller, Weissler, Alhadeff & Sitterson lead the presentation. Weaver said that they had been working on the effort for five months and had done many things to accommodate Westchase and make the developer a “better citizen.” The self-imposed concessions discussed were:

1) Adding a new traffic signal at Sheldon and Old Linebaugh.
2) Using at least 30-percent brick and brick-like materials and using the distinctive Westchase brick color.
3) Having operation hours no earlier than 9 a.m. for the 25-year term of Costco’s lease.
4) Limiting left hand turns into the development from southbound Sheldon traffic.
5) Putting the loading docks at the rear of the Costco, as far from the community as possible
6) Buffering the development with a berm on Sheldon Road and landscaping.
7) Providing an aeration pond similar to those in Westchase.
8) Using three-inch caliper Cathedral oaks.
9) Locating the site’s gas station where it will be shielded as much as possible
10) Having pedestrian connectivity with Westchase-style lamp posts along walkways

Weaver also reiterated that they will not seek widening of West Linebaugh Avenue, which had been one of the biggest concerns of the community. Truett Gardner, who was introduced as Weaver’s co-counsel, explained the next steps. The rezoning hearing will be held June 2 at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the County Center. Afterwards the rezoning proposal will go before Hillsborough County Commissioners on July 22 at 9 a.m.

Following the updates, Weaver fielded questions and observations. VM Kathy Carlsen (Glencliff) said, “The biggest issue has been the expansion of Linebaugh Avenue to our community. As much as they say it’s not in the plans, what are they telling you?”

Weaver answered, “Thirteen years ago, Westchase succeeded in getting it (the widening of Linebaugh) removed and off of all county plans so they have assured us that there are no plans. We have no desire to revise that.”

Referring to all of the concessions made, VM Lee Cohen (Abbottsford) said, “We appreciate you coming in and it goes a long way for all of the residents and it means a lot because you could have done whatever you wanted to do and this shows good effort.”

VM Leslie McCluskey (Keswick Forest), agreed, saying, “Thank you. We recognize that these are things that you didn’t have to do.”

VM Brian Bobrovetski (Kingsford) noted, “I’d rather have a Costco than a Walmart any day.”

The next order of business was the initial approval of Kingsford’s Mailbox Guideline which will require homeowners there to replace the white wooden mailboxes with black aluminum mailboxes like those in West Park Village. WCA Manager Debbie Sainz explained that 75 of Kingsford’s 132 homes had voted in favor of the change. VMs passed the proposed guideline change unanimously.

VMs then turned to appointing a member of the Variance Committee, which hears appeals of Modifications Committee denials under specific circumstances. Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Nancy Sells introduced Shawn Yesner, an attorney with real estate expertise. Yesner introduced himself, saying that he has been a resident since 2011, lives in Kingsford with his wife and son and has another child on the way. He stated his wife is very involved in the community and observed it was “time for me to step up.” VMs unanimously voted to approve his appointment.

The final agenda item was a review of proposed amendments to Westchase’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and Bylaws, rules governing the use and appearance of Westchase homes and its governing bodies. Sells introduced her husband, Dale Sells, Chair of the Documents Review Committee to discuss the proposed changes. Dale Sells started by introducing the committee members who had spent many hours on these documents – Keith Heinemann, Dixie Mills, Mike Clayton and George Estock.

Sells explained that the last time the documents were revised was in 2011. He told VMs that any time that the documents are changed, VMs approve them initially. The proposed CCRs and Bylaws amendments are then mailed out to all homeowners, who have a chance to review and vote on them. Proposed changes to the CCRs require a 75-percent affirmative vote while changes to the Bylaws require a 66-percent affirmative vote of homeowners votes as cast by VMs. (Westchase-wide guidelines amendments require no homeowner poll.)

Sells explained a running list of proposed changes is kept in the office and an e-mail account was set up for suggestions. They also received input from committees and have reviewed all proposed changes with the community’s legal counsel. Sells said he was hopeful to have everything completed by June.

For a full listing of the proposed changes, please click here and here. Most of the proposed changes were simplifications and clarifications of verbiage and didn’t garner much discussion. VMs, however, discussed a change in the definition for what constitutes an emergency in Article IV, Section 2; the expansion of the association’s ability to lien homes for association-levied fines in Article XII, Section 6; and retractable awnings in Article XII, Section 32.

VM Ruben Collazo (The Shires) made a motion to table the discussion around awnings until VMs could discuss them with their residents. Sells said the delay will cause the mailing to residents to occur in May with a final vote being at the June Voting Members meeting.

VM Cynde Mercer (Bridges) requested that the real estate leasing issue raised by WOW be placed on April’s meeting agenda. VMs adjourned at 9:20 pm.

By Brenda Bennett

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John Doe in North Korea

Adam Johnson’s Orphan Master’s Son uses the Hermit Kingdom’s casual cruelty and absurdity to craft a riveting political thriller.

Johnson’s novel tells the story of Pak Jun Do, an orphan who navigates the North Korean bureaucracy while searching for identity and love.

Jun Do is assigned the worst jobs – kidnapper, radio operator and spy – before being sent to Prison 33. The gulag’s deprivation and brutality force inmates to surrender their identities. In a twist that directs the trajectory of the story, Jun Do maintains his own identity by escaping in the clothing of a military hero, Commander Ga.

Once Jun Do assumes the identity of the commander, the party ostensibly welcomes him. He is initially less welcomed by Commander Ga’s wife, Sun Moon. By the end of the story, Jun Do sacrifices his personal identity for the woman who comes to love him.

Two contrasting narrators illustrate one of Johnson’s major themes: the primacy of the interests of the state over the individual. “Where we are from,” says one character, “…the story is more important than the person. If a man and his story are in conflict, it is the man who must change.”

The first narrator is the voice of the loudspeakers that continuously deliver propaganda. The official version of Jun Do’s biography, delivered in installments as the Best North Korean Story, is comical. The other narrator is an interrogator who justifies his auto-torture machine as a less cruel way to obtain the biography of each detainee. His attempt to extract the life story of the ersatz commander becomes an obsession.

Although some readers may find the switch between voices confusing, this non-linear mosaic creates a sense of what Jun Do experiences as he searches for his own identity. The juxtaposition of the horrific and the farcical creates a novel that is both intense and funny.

Johnson’s extensive research undergirds the novel. The story of Jun Do may not depict a replica of life in North Korea but it does portray the substance.

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is not hard to read, but it is difficult to absorb. Nevertheless, it is worth the effort.

By Carol Collins

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Greens Girl Pitches in to Clean Westchase Pond

While her Aunt Norma was recently visiting from Texas, Sarah Creighton wanted to show her the fish and turtles that typically gather around the footbridge near her home.

So Sarah, her mom, Carmen Gloria, her dad, Tim, and her Aunt Norma visited the pond between Village Green and the West Park tennis courts on Valentine’s Day. They brought along a few pieces of bread to feed the turtles and fish. While there, Sarah observed that there were a lot of tennis balls in the water and remarked, “This weekend we should come back and clean the pond.”

So on that Sunday, Sarah and her mom and dad headed back with garbage bags, gloves and a pool skimmer to clean the pond.

The Creighton family, who live in The Greens, walked around the entire pond and filled up three large trash bags worth of garbage. The most common items by far were tennis balls. All told, they pulled 266 of them from the water. Other retrieved items included plastic bottles, grocery bags, cardboard boxes, straws, candy wrappers, and the most unusual piece – a Halloween mask from the movie Scream.

As an animal lover, Sarah got to see fish, turtles, ducks and anhinga birds as she walked the banks. One anhinga seemed to be flapping its wings and following the Creightons as they finished their task and were heading back to the bridge. Sarah later told her mom, “The bird seemed to be so happy and was probably thanking us for cleaning his home.”

Thanks for pitching in, Sarah!

By Tim Creighton

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Keystone Little League Kicks Off New Season

Keystone Little League players and their families celebrated their league’s triumphs and the beginning of a new season on Friday, Feb. 21, at Ed Radice Park.

At the season kickoff, last year’s winning teams were honored and players and their families had the opportunity to meet Yankees great Goose Gossage.

Keystone Little League President Linda Weisman also announced that the event was being held in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Little League. The Little League program began in Willamsport, Pennsylvania, and has since grown into one of the largest youth sports organizations in the world.

“Little League is extremely important for children,” said Weisman. “It allows children to work together in a team environment with others that have different skill sets, which later translates into their adult life in working with others.”

Weisman added, “So many lifelong relationships and friendships are built in the dugout and on the field. Learning to live with wins and losses, teamwork, helping each other, encouraging each other – all help to build a foundation on growing into a better person.”

The Keystone Little League has more than 60 teams for boys and girls age 4 to 16. Last summer they fielded seven all-star teams that participated in state tournaments. Some even went on to win regional championships.

“Keystone has been very successful because as an organization, we went back to the basics,” Weisman explained. “We teach kids the fundamentals of the game and focus on having fun.”

Weisman mentioned that keeping kids in Little League can be a challenge with many of the highly competitive travel ball organizations available in the area. “As a league, we have made it travel-ball friendly so our players can do both and be successful in both,” she said.

According to Weisman, getting the right mix of coaches, who are volunteers, can also be a challenge. Not only do they have to be a positive influence on players, they also have to meet strict requirements established by both Hillsborough County and Little League International. “Despite that, it all comes down to having a passion and love of the game that drive us to volunteer our time and efforts to see the kids succeed,” she said.

The Keystone Little League’s spring season will run through May and registration for the fall season takes place in early August. For more information about the Keystone Little League visit http://keystonell.org

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By Marcy Sanford

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Summer Camp, Commercial Development and Rules Amendments

This month’s WOW is filled with important stories you won’t want to miss.

Be sure to read everything so you don’t miss any of the fun.

WOW’s sixth annual Summer Camp Spectacular, starting on page 96, offers some great tips for finding camps for your kids. WOW writer Karen Ring has interviewed a number of Westchase kids to discover their favorite summer camps. Karen’s second camp article offers advice on asking the right questions to get the most out of your kids’ camp experiences. We thank all of our summer camp directors and organizers for helping to bring you this special section.

In March the developer of the proposed Costco commercial parcel at Linebaugh and Sheldon filed for rezoning of the property. The county’s documents offer the clearest look yet at what that development will look like – and the potential impact its traffic will have. Check it out on page 16 and share your opinion about it with Hillsborough County.

The Westchase Community Association is also gearing up to amend its governing documents, containing rules about the appearance and use of our homes and yards. On page 14 we offer a summary of the proposed changes, which were reviewed by Westchase Voting Members (VMs) on March 18 after WOW’s deadline. To learn if VMs made any substantive changes to the amendments or the timetable for having them mailed to residents for polling, be sure to check WOW Online at http://www.WestchaseWOW.com

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This month we also invite residents who are not currently in the 2013 Westchase Resident and Business Directory to submit their information for inclusion in the 2014 directory, which will be distributed in June. The directory is strictly opt-in. If you want your contact information available for your Westchase friends and neighbors, be sure to fill out and submit the form in this month’s inserts or go online to http://www.WestchaseWOW.com and fill out the directory form there. For more information, see page 26. We never share this list with any other commercial entity.

As I mention each month, please tell WOW’s valued advertisers you saw their ads here. And always read the editor’s notes at the ends of articles. We sometimes put important stuff in there.

In closing, I hope your April opens with great fun and happiness. And I wish those who observe this month’s holidays a happy and blessed Passover and Easter.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Climb to Your Heart’s Content

I feel sorry for my daughter. In fact, I feel sorry for all the climbing children of Westchase.

Maybe I’m wrong to feel bad for them. Perhaps other parts of Westchase have good climbing trees. In West Park Village, however, there aren’t any. My daughter and her bus mates will shoot off the bus in the afternoon and climb the crepe myrtles meant for decoration along the sidewalk. After finding a branch that seems to support their weight, they’ll hang precariously off it, swinging back and forth while the branch dips closer and closer to the ground. It’s sad to see children who are meant to soar to such great heights only make it a couple of feet off the ground.

There is a good tree at an Oldsmar park. Oher areas of town also seem to have plenty of robust, climb-worthy trees. Unfortunately, they are often in people’s yards, which can get awkward.

Recently, however, we discovered a perfect place where you don’t just climb a tree but you get to participate in recreational tree climbing, which apparently became an organized sport in the early 80s.

On the first Saturday of each month Pathfinder Outdoor Education offers open climbs at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg. The cost is $10 per climber with a minimum age of 6. You ascend into the heights of a massive 60-foot live oak tree using a rope and pulley system similar to what professional arborists use.

Pathfinder’s guides were extremely helpful and friendly. They give you a quick tutorial on safety and how to use the rope and pulley system and then you’re off. Or in the case of my daughter and me, she was off and about 15 minutes later, I finally figured it out and I was off – or at least slightly off the ground.

I didn’t make it to the very top of the tree because my delicate Westchase hands started developing blisters (You can request gloves. I think I’ll just bring some gardening ones next time), but I did make it up about midway and then had fun enjoying the view from there, swinging, and even hanging upside down.

Twelve different ropes hang from four different areas of the tree. Each climb lasts 30 minutes and once you’ve paid, you can go up as many times as you like. You can experience a different part of the impressive tree, hang out on one of the huge branches, or relax in the treeboat (which is recreational tree climbing language for a hammock).

My daughter is hooked and ready to go back again next month. Hopefully, my hands will either be healed or I’ll have developed some protective calluses so the next time I can make it to the top.

Pathfinder, Inc Open Tree Climb
http://www.pathfinder-ed.org
Lakeview Presbyterian Church
1310 22nd Avenue South, Street
St. Petersburg, FL

By Marcy Sanford

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Crowing About Rooster and the Till

Raw Clams and Pork Tartar – crazy or genius?

While a pretty adventurous eater, even I was a little intimidated by some of the menu items when I walked into the compact Rooster and the Till in Seminole Heights. Since both the clams and tartar tasted out of this world (and my stomach was fine), I’ll put Chef Ferrell Alvarez in the genius camp.

The beauty of this place is the exquisitely crafted, delicious and unusual food combinations served in a casual setting. Part and parcel with the name, this restaurant celebrates farm to table freshness. Yet they don’t get fussy with listing every place from which their food is sourced.

Seminole Heights, with its cheap rents and alternative vibe, has become a mecca for Tampa’s creative culinary class.  Joining longstanding residents like Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe and The Refinery, Rooster and the Till recently put its roots down in a humble plaza next to a barber shop, where you can get a real fade. I’m an insurance company middle manager by trade, and Ann Taylor is my middle name, so forearm tattoos and ironic floral dresses don’t impress me. But if you are an unabashed foodie, this place is nirvana.

The raw seafood preparations – deemed Crudo on the menu – are simple in flavor if not in preparation and the fresh seafood stands out. Both nights we visited included oysters and clams, but also fish. To give you an idea of the furious paddling going on underneath the calm water, a recent night’s Crudo was seasoned with fresh coconut water, tamarind pulp, toasted coconut and macadamia nuts, kimchee sprouts and sweet soy drizzle and then garnished with scallions.

On the small plates, the aforementioned Pork Tartar was seasoned with miso mustard, cashew puree and crisp shallots. It slid down unsqueamishly well. Other small plate standouts were the Roast Cauliflower with walnut bread crumbs, pickled raisins and browned butter, which tasted like The Sound of Music. The Smoked Mushrooms with burnt onions and green tomatoes were musky and earthy.  If you are looking for many very small bites to share, the Charcuterie and Cheese Slates highlight delicious house-made patés, head cheeses and many California cheeses, such as a pungent Point Reyes Blue.

Moving on to the “Slightly Larger” plates (and I do mean slightly), the Rabbit Ballotine, with chicken liver and kale over polenta, was comfort food for a cold night. The House Pasta, served with broccoli leaves and tomatoes, was more perfectly al dente than anything I ever enjoyed in Rome.  The Fish, a snapper with caraway cabbage, pork shoulder and pickled radish, had pure, simple flavor that was complemented by the unlikely accoutrements.

With the overachieving perfection of the savory menu, I was a little let down by the desserts. They were layered and pudding-esque, so I’ll stick with the main menu going forward.

Rooster and the Till’s atmosphere is cozy; while eating at the bar my husband and I shared food stories with an Edison waiter.   Our seriously mustachioed bartender, Miles, was friendly and very knowledgeable about the food, craft beer and wine menu.  The owners make a big deal about the furnishings being made by local craftsmen using reclaimed materials, but I think the place gets its energy from the people, not the old wood.

Don’t, however, expect large or even mildly filling plates of food.  My skinny 14-year-old son inhaled the pork belly plate, then demanded another of the same thing as his entrée. If it were chicken tenders, I would have said no. But I get weak when my kids go out on a limb for trying new things. Yet this place can be screamingly frustrating for many people. If you like filling plates of food at reasonable prices and a quick turnaround time, don’t visit.  They also do not accept reservations and cannot seat parties larger than five.

But the beauty of Rooster and the Till is going against the grain.

Rooster and the Till
6500 C N. Florida Ave
Tampa, FL 33604
roosterandthetill@gmail.com
Tel: 374-8940
Hours: Mon-Thu, 5-10 p.m.; Fri- Sat,  5-11 p.m.;  Closed Sun; Limited Menu daily from 3:30-5 p.m.

By Jill Chesney

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Trash Talking All in a Day’s Work

Westchase resident Patrick Rzeszut takes trash talking seriously.

After all, it’s his job.

And that greatly works in Westchase’s favor.

Under Hillsborough County’s new contracts for automated garbage collection, Republic Services took over management of waste and recycle collections in Westchase in October 2013. As general manager for divisions ranging from Sarasota to Citrus County, Rzeszut is one of the company’s most important local faces.

The second largest waste management company in the nation, Republic Services employs approximately 3,600. They operate over 200 landfills, including the largest in the United States at 2,200 acres. The company also operates nearly 100 recycling plants.

Originally from Michigan, Rzeszut spent most of his life in Orlando and enjoyed the outdoor life Florida had to offer. “I played as many sports as I possibly could. I think it was my parents’ way of keeping me distracted,” he said.

Before college, Rzeszut considered sales as a possible career path. He did so because he enjoyed meeting new people and had a desire for travel. Initially struggling to zero in on a college major, he made the best of it. He joked, “I really loved being in college. I think I probably had seven different majors throughout my college life, but I eventually settled on communications as my degree.”

A member of Lambda Chi Alpha, he said all of his best friends came from the time he spent at University of Central Florida. “All of those memories are pretty treasured.”

Perhaps his favorite might be an Easter egg hunt that helped produce his engagement to his wife Kelly. He planned it all himself by strategically placing eggs for her to discover. “In the last egg that she found I had written, ‘Turn around and say yes,’” he recalled.

Kelly did just that. In just a few years, the happy couple will enjoy more egg hunts. They recently welcomed home son Connor James in February.

While in college Rzeszut went to work for the Cheesecake Factory as a corporate trainer. He later moved into operations in the hospitality industry. After working sales and recruiting for several different companies, he joined Republic Services. “It was the best decision I ever made. It truly is a great company to work for,” he said.

Six years ago, Rzeszut began in sales at the company. He has since worked his way through the ranks of Division Sales Manager and Assistant General Manager. He is currently General Manager, supporting divisions from Sarasota to Citrus County.
Overall, the addition of Westchase to their service area, along with other parts of Hillsborough County, went very well for the company. Having been a partner with the county for more than 15 years, Rzeszut explained they worked together to make it happen. “It was one of the largest single cart rollouts ever in the United States – with over 500K carts delivered in a pretty short amount of time,” he shared.

Early hurdles included drivers learning their new routes, which was easily rectified through repetition. Narrow alleyways in places like West Park Village also meant using smaller trucks in those areas. As some residents complained about the larger cans and the space they required in their garages, the county provided an option to swap them out for smaller sizes.

Each garbage collection day 10 fully automated trucks move through Westchase to pick up the community’s trash. “The trucks are very efficient and are much safer as our drivers do not have to get out and manually dump the containers,” Rzeszut explained.

From here the collections are taken to a waste transfer facility and then to a waste-to-energy incinerator. The recyclable materials go to a material recovery facility where everything is separated, baled and then sold on the commodity market. Rzeszut added, “All yard waste goes to an organic facility so that it can be repurposed.”

Life outside of work for Rzeszut is pretty similar to that of his Westchase neighbors. Kelly and he enjoy visiting his parents in St. Petersburg, where they enjoy boating. His love of sports as a youth has continued. “I’m a huge sports fan and love to watch all of the Tampa Bay teams,” he shared.

When he isn’t working towards removing Westchase’s trash, he helps keep Tampa Bay clean as well by serving on the board of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

As the rumble of automated trucks travels through his neighborhood’s streets, Patrick Rzeszut doesn’t have look far from home to see a job well done!

By Lisa Stephens

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From the President, April 2014: Improving With Age

What was it that drew you to Westchase?

Was it the overall beauty of the community or a particular home? Was it its accessibility to the airport, shopping, beaches, and restaurants? Did you like the fact that deed restrictions ensured properties were well maintained? Were the community’s parks, pools and tennis courts a pivoting factor or its top-notch neighborhood schools? Or was it some combination of all of these things?

The editor of Southern Living magazine recently wrote, “No matter how great a community looks when first completed, it can be considered a success only if its buildings and landscape improve with age.”

Westchase continues to be a success after 20 plus years. To remain so will take hard work by the Westchase Community Association (WCA), the Community Development District (CDD), owners and renters alike. The older the community gets, the more diligent we all have to be.

The CDD does a magnificent job of maintaining all the common areas we pass on a daily basis – a buyer’s or visitor’s first impression of Westchase. But that’s just the surface. How do our personal properties look? Are they well cared for?

The WCA staff’s inspections of our almost 3,500 homes keep us apprised of how well we’re doing. The sheer number of violation notices sent out in the last few weeks show owners could be doing a better job. Those “love” letters remind us of the things we’ve been lax in addressing. Those “love” letters remind us we’re bound by the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and Guidelines we agreed to abide by when we purchased our homes. Those “love” letters are not personal, so please treat the staff as you would like to be treated. Those “love” letters are simply reminders we need to be caring for our property with a bit more diligence. As one resident recently stated regarding the receipt of a violation letter,” I don't mind getting those things – they help keep us on our toes!”

If the little things aren’t addressed, they morph into larger problems resulting in the community’s downhill slide.

Two additional steps will help you avoid getting a “love” letter. If you are moving but retaining ownership of your Westchase home, you need to let the WCA office know in writing what your forwarding address is. If you are renting your property, you must have a lease on record with the WCA.

Besides properly maintaining one’s property, residents will soon have the opportunity to take an active part in amending the CCRs and By-Laws. The Document Review Committee has been working on proposed amendments, which were presented to the voting members in March for discussion. The next step is sending them out to all owners for a vote. Take the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the rules and then vote.
Each of us taking a proactive part will keep Westchase the type of community that initially drew us to it.

By Nancy Sells, WCA President

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Westchase Spring Garage Sale Is May 3

Throw open your garages and let the spring cleaning begin!

The Westchase Spring Garage Sale is Saturday, May 3. The sale is one of two such events held annually on the first Saturdays of May and October. (This fall, however, due to Yom Kippur, the fall garage sale will be Saturday, Nov. 1; please mark your calendars.)

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 would like 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, April 29. Please include your name, address, phone number, village name and a description of the item(s) you want listed. Also be sure to inform that office if you want your price and phone number included with your ad. You can also mail the information to the association manager at 10049 Parley Drive, Tampa, FL 33626.

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

All unsold items can be donated to Goodwill, which will have three donation locations around Westchase from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to accept your donations. On the day of the garage sale Goodwill will have trailers from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the St. Joseph's Outpatient Clinic parking lot, located at 10509 W. Linebaugh Ave., and Fifth Third Bank, located at 9450 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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Westchase Kids Share Summer Camp Favorites

Weeding through all of Tampa Bay’s impressive camp options can be daunting.

So we turned to some veteran Westchase campers to find out what camps keep them coming back summer after summer. 

West Park Village resident Aiden Shaw, 10, already understands that variety truly is the spice of life. That is why he sits down with his mom each summer to figure out which summer camps he wants to try. A veteran camper, Aiden has participated in tennis camp, basketball camp, chess camp and music camp. Yet the camp he keeps going back to is the chess camp at Berkeley Preparatory School.

Berkeley offers over 100 unique camp themes each summer – from rock climbing to Spanish immersion – for children in pre-K through Grade 12. Aiden, an avid chess player who participates in tournaments throughout the year, likes Berkeley’s chess camp because it helps keep his skills sharp. “I always learn something new!” Aiden said.

The camp has much more to offer than just chess. “We get to do lots of other fun stuff, like swimming,” Aiden explained.

This summer, he will be back at chess camp, but he would also like to add something new to his already impressive camp repertoire. “I think I’ll try football,” Aiden said.

Curtis Billet, 10, of The Fords has also had his fair share of summer camp experience. Over the past four summers, he has taken part in traditional day camp experiences at both La Fleur’s Gym and the Westchase Recreation Center, enjoying summer days filled with sports, crafts and games. This past summer Curtis added a new camp experience when he took part in a week-long camp at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Curtis opted for the half-day camp option and spent his days mastering the art of snorkeling in the waters surrounding the aquarium. “We found sand dollars, sea urchins, crabs…it was awesome!” Curtis said.

But the best part about snorkeling? “You get a really great tan on your back!” Curtis exclaimed.

Curtis said he also learned the proper way to observe sea life so as not to disturb it. “We learned the stories of why the animals are at the aquarium, too,” Curtis added.

Of course, Curtis got the chance to visit with the aquarium’s star resident, Winter the dolphin.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers a variety of camp options for graduates of kindergarten through Grade 10, with themes ranging from Jr. Animal Encounters to Kayaking Camp. Curtis will spend several weeks of the coming summer at the Westchase Recreation Center, but he is also excited to head back for a week of camp at the aquarium.

Fords resident Alyssa Kobel, 9, heads to the camp at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center for a few weeks every summer and enjoys the fun activities and catching up with old friends. But the camp she can’t wait to get back to each summer is Noah’s Ark Farm Camp. Alyssa learned about the camp through neighbors who invited her to attend the end-of-camp activities one year. The moment Alyssa stepped onto the farm she knew she wanted in. That was four years ago and she has returned to farm camp every year since.

Alyssa explained that each day the activities revolve around a particular farm animal. Animals include sheep, goats, bunnies, ponies, chickens and ducks. The campers learn about the animal of the day and what makes it special to the farm. “Each camper is assigned an animal and we have to take care of it,” Alyssa added.

The day is not all about work, however. Time is set aside for free play, water play and arts and crafts. Alyssa sees lots of her fellow campers coming back year after year. Noah’s Ark Farm Camp offers camps from May through August for ages 5 to 13. “Farm camp is awesome and you should totally try it!” Alyssa concluded.

Bridges resident Payton Heckman, 9, has attended a variety of summer camps over the past four years. He has tried various sports camps and has enjoyed several of the camp themes offered through Wellspring’s Summer Enrichment Camps. Last year he tried out the Junior Golf Camp at the Westchase Golf Club…and loved it!

Prior to the camp, Payton had only played a few holes with his dad. “I learned about showing respect in golf and how to chip, putt and stand correctly. I also learned what a divot is,” Payton said.

Payton’s favorite part about the camp, however, was getting to eat lunch at the clubhouse. “It was the best lunch I ever had!” Payton proclaimed.

Payton loved the camp so much that he has been taking golf lessons ever since. “It is great that he can turn something he learned at camp into a hobby that will last a lifetime. That is a great return on your investment,” said Payton’s mom, Stacy.

Westchase Golf Club’s Junior Golf Camps are offered select weeks throughout the summer and are open to children 6 to 16. This summer, Payton will opt for a few weeks at Wellspring and said he will definitely be back at golf camp.

Sarah Frank, 11, of The Greens, spends a good many of her summer days at camp. She has enjoyed several of the camp options offered at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS, including broadcasting, camping and basketball. It was through a program offered at the Corbett campus that she found her true camp calling– the I.C.E. Writers Camp. The camp is offered through the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project (TBAWP) and is facilitated by TBAWP consultants, as well as area writing teachers. The goal of the camp is to provide young authors a safe environment to write, revise, share and publish their writing. “It was a really good chance to meet other kids with the same interests,” said Sarah, who has always had a love of writing.

The camp is two weeks in duration, during which time campers create pieces of writing to be reviewed by teachers and peers alike. At camp’s end each participant submits one finished piece to be included in the camp anthology. The camp is open to children 7 to 18. It is a rigorous curriculum meant to foster the love of writing, and prospective campers must submit a writing sample to be accepted. Sarah, however, believes the camp would be beneficial to anyone with a desire to write. “For anyone who can tell a story, this camp will help your writing improve!” stated Sarah, who is looking forward to heading back to I.C.E Writers Camp this summer.

Nicolas Gonzalez, 11, of Stockbridge, has only had one camp experience, but he looks forward to that camp every summer. Nicolas has attended Camp JCC for the past six years. Even though he takes part in their after-school program throughout the school year, summer camp is different. Camp counselors are brought in for the summer and the atmosphere changes.

Camp JCC includes a wide variety of activities for children of all faiths entering Grades 1-8. The camp is offered in two four-week sessions and the days are filled with traditional camp activities, such as swimming, hiking and canoeing, mixed with specialty instruction in areas such as sports, drama and art. “We do something different every day,” Nicolas said.

Nicolas especially loves the traditional camp game, Ga-ga (like dodgeball with a twist) and the end of camp Color Wars. “For the Color Wars, we get to paint our faces the color of the team we are competing on – either blue or white,” Nicolas explained. The wars offer an end-of-camp lesson not only in competitive athletics, but also in sportsmanship, as points are added or deducted based on a team’s conduct.

Field trips are also a big part of the camp and this year Nicolas will move into the middle school age group, which means bigger trips. “We get to go on a four-day camping trip!” Nicolas said, the anticipation in his voice undeniable. It may just be one camp, but over the years that one camp has offered him a multitude of experiences that will last a lifetime.

West Park’s Alex Popper, 13, also devotes her time to a single camp. When Alex was in elementary school, she saw a brochure for horse camp at her school’s summer sign up event. She decided to give it a try and six years later she is still coming back to West Coast Morgans Horse Day Camp. “There is so much to do at the camp. There is horse riding, water play, crafts and horse painting,” Alex said.

By horse painting, she means literally painting on horses.  “On a hot day, they love the cool paints,” Alex explained.

Alex also explained that each week the camp offers a different focus, so campers can attend multiple weeks without it becoming repetitive. Campers learn horseback riding basics as well as information on horse breeds, horse handling, grooming, saddling and much more. Alex was so taken by all she learned at the camp, she now owns two horses of her own and has begun riding on a competitive level.

The summer camp is still a big part of her life, but in a different capacity now. Alex’s experience earned her a spot as a camp counselor. “I’ve gone from being a kid looking up to the camp counselors to being an actual counselor!” Alex said proudly.

Alex would recommend the camp to anyone looking to try something new. “It can always lead to something more. For me it led to a passion for horses and for riding.”

Tampa Bay truly does have so many unique camp options from which to choose, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks so much to Aiden, Curtis, Alyssa, Payton, Sarah, Nicolas and Alex for sharing their camp experiences with our readers!

By Karen Ring

Summer Camp Summaries 2014

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

Academy at the Lakes
(813) 948-7600

Summer at the Lakes offers 50+ programs for Kindergarten through Grade 9. Arts, sports and more! Explore our half-day and full-day options at http://www.academyatthelakes.org

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Adventures in Engineering
(813) 454-3115
AIE campers will participate in amazing activities and team projects to explore how things work.  Using learned STEM concepts, they will create their own inventions!

Berkeley Summer Programs
(813) 885-1673

With over 100 unique camps and classes, Berkeley Summer Programs has something for everyone: sports, fine arts, enrichment, and academic credit courses. June 2-July 25. Visit http://www.berkeleyprep.org/summer

Camp IDS at Corbett Prep
(813) 961-3087

Over 60 full- and half-day camps. All welcome. PreK3-Grade 9. June 16-Aug. 1. Before- and after-care. Bus service. Fine arts, science, academics, technology, languages, cooking and more.

Carrollwood Cultural Center
(813) 269-1310

At the Carrollwood Cultural Center, campers will participate in arts-based activities. Also available: LEGO® engineering, video game animation and more! June 9-Aug. 15. Visit http://www.carrollwoodcenter.org

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Carrollwood Day School
(813) 920-2288

Summer camps and enrichment programs for campers 3-years-old through Grade 12. Cost is $150 to $250 a week! Sign up today at http://www.carrollwooddayschool.org

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Craftology 101
(813) 920-1058

We are a unique arts and craft studio located in the Westchase Town Center. We host birthday parties, adult and children classes and special events.

Dawson Dance Academy
(813) 814-7500

Join DDA for our summer "Beach Star" dance classes and dance/acting intensive camps! Ages 2-16. Visit our Web site,www.dawsondance.com. Check our WOW insert!

Fantasy Fishing Camp
(813) 244-4682

We provide an opportunity for your child to fish with professional, licensed captains each day as well as learn about target casting, knot tying, boating safety and much more.

Forward Thinking Initiatives
(813) 760-7860

Teens start their own busines in the arts or the toy and game industry at FTI's annual teen entrepreneurship camps at MOSI.  http://www.campfun.org

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In the Breeze
(813) 264-1919

Let’s go horseback riding. Ranch-style horseback riding, hand-raised, well-loved animals. Located in Citrus Park. Lake, classrooms and barns.

JCC Summer Camp
(813) 264-9000

Offers preschoolers, ages 1 through entering kindergarten, and children entering Grades 1-8 a fun and interactive day-camp experience. Athletics, arts and crafts, swimming and a variety of activities make each camp day a memorable experience.

Marauder Soccer Camp
(727) 786-3589

Now in our 34th year, MSC is the longest-running soccer camp in the Tampa Bay area. Visit us at http://www.msccamp.com

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Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy
(813) 969-0240

Come explore the wonderful world of the performing arts. Dance, sing, and act with our professional instructors. Half/full-day camps, boys camp, evening classes available!

MOSI Summer Science Camps
(813) 987-6000

MOSI’s Summer Camp brings science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) alive through fun, hands-on experiments, and building projects for students of all ages.

Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA
(813) 249-8510

Summer camps at the Y focus on nurturing children and helping them grow in spirit, mind and body. Full-day, half-day and specialty camps available. See http://www.tampaymca.org

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Raven Basketball Camp
(813) 310-4827

Varsity high school coaches offer fun-filled and instructional basketball camps for boys and girls, ages 7-14.

Rockatar Music Academy & Studios
(813) 404-9194

Fun summer rock band camps. Learn guitar, keyboard, drums, voice and rock band performance. Visit us at http://www.rockataracademy.com

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Smart Start Pre Prep Summer Camp
(813) 855-7333

Smart Start’s summer camp includes all meals, three field trips per week, an 1,800-sq.-foot game room, a large outdoor playground and fun, weekly educational themes.

Tampa Prep Summer Programs
(813) 251-8481

Tampa Prep Summer Programs include courses in academics, enrichment, robotics and Camp Terrapin. Learn more and register at http://www.tampaprep.org/summer

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USF Pre-College
(813) 974-4926

USF offers high school juniors and seniors an outstanding pre-college experience. Students can pursue academic interests, discover career options, and explore university life. Visit usf.edu/pre-college.

Victory Gymnastics
(813) 925-0060

Join the summer fun at Victory Gymnastics! Gymnastics, recreational games, art and crafts, supervised gym time. Ongoing enrollment for weekly, daily, full day and half day. Visit http://www.victorygtc.com

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Wellspring Enrichment Program K-5 Summer Camps
(813) 926-5006

Creative and exciting camps, including cooking, visual arts, science and community service. Lunch included! Before and after-care available.

Westchase Impact Martial Arts
(813) 600-5260

Fun and exciting martial arts camps offering a different theme each week! Your child will enjoy learning martial arts skills, games and more! Camps are offered from June 10-Aug. 15. Space is limited, so make your reservation today!

Westchase Activity Camp
(813) 855-0662

Want your children to enjoy a safe, fun summer right here in Westchase? Come join us for swimming, arts and crafts, field trips, games and sports activities.

Westchase Tennis Camp
(813) 855-0662

Learn the fundamentals of tennis through an action-packed week that will excite your child and inspire them toward a tennis-fitness lifestyle. Serving beginner players through the most advanced players.

Zoo School at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
(813) 935-8552, Ext. 268

Adventures await with 100+ summer camps for kids who have completed K-Grade 8. Fun is in our nature with zoo hikes, animal encounters, educational shows, rides and more.

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

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From Tulum to Canterbury

By boat and by plane WOW explored the world last summer.

The Cushing family of The Fords took WOW along on their Riviera Maya cruise, where they were photographed on the Caribbean Sea on the edge of the ruins of Tulum.

Tulum was a Mayan city that was constructed on the Yucatan Peninsula in the 13th through 15th centuries due to its proximity to popular land and sea trade routes. It lasted 70 years after the Spanish conquered Mexico. Tulum’s ruins are located on the tops of picturesque, 40-foot beach cliffs. At its height, Tulum likely was home to 1,600 Mayans, who called their city Zama, meaning City of Dawn, due to its location on the eastern coast. Tulum, the Mayan word for wall or fortress, was well protected by the sea to the east and 16-foot walls around its perimeter.

Tulum’s proximity to Cancun and the Riviera Maya make it a popular tourist destination. While the site holds three significant historical structures, it is best known for its Castillo, or castle, an impressive 30-foot iconic structure that lies adjacent to the beach.

In contrast, Canterbury, located in Southeast England on the River Stout, is a historic cathedral city that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sonny Whyte of Chelmsford visited Canterbury this past summer. While a small city by English standards, Canterbury also is a remarkably popular tourist destination. Its cathedral was the sight of Thomas Becket's murder in 1170.

Becket was the headstrong Archbishop of Canterbury who opposed Henry II’s attempts to extend regal power over aspects of English life and law previously left to the church. An ascetic, Becket was eventually murdered by knights loyal to the king and was canonized a saint by both the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion. The cathedral subsequently became a place of Christian pilgrimage, which is a recurring theme in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, a series of 20 stories written roughly two centuries after Becket’s murder. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury is leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Thus, the cathedral is an important religious symbol in the United Kingdom.

While founded in 597 by St. Augustine, the Romanesque and Gothic cathedral was originally built between 1010-1017. In the 12th century, just prior to the rise of Tulum in the Americas, the English cathedral was greatly enlarged and reconstructed, largely in the Gothic style, due to both a fire and the growing popularity of Becket’s shrine.

We thank the Cushings and Sonny Whyte for sharing their trips with WOW!

WOW us With Your Spring Trips!

If you’re heading of state on a fun adventure this spring, be sure to take WOW along for the fun. Send in a photo of you holding WOW (and include a sentence or two identifying where it’s taken) and you can win between $40 to $100.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Road Repair, Spring Cleaning, Block Parties and Repainting

Bennington

Sorry for missing last month’s issue. I was a little under the weather.

I have set up a neighborhood page on a new social network called Nextdoor.com. It is geared specifically for neighborhoods and is a private online network where neighbors share community events, recommendations, items for sale, crime reports, ideas about how to improve our neighborhood and more. You will need to create a login and then verify your address through a few simple steps. I urge everyone to check it out and please start using it to share information with your neighbors.  You can also check out what is going on in surrounding neighborhoods that are part of the site. It is a more efficient way to share information on a timely basis.

I would like to thank those who came to the annual neighborhood meeting in January. Many concerns were raised and good discussions began. We received a very disappointing response from the Community Development District (CDD) representative about street repaving. She deferred to the county and said there was nothing that the CDD could (or would) do. It will therefore be up to our neighborhood to continue to put pressure on the county to fix the roads. We would like to organize the neighborhood and take turns continually calling and e-mailing the county in the hopes that they will get sick of hearing from us! I know that it is a longshot, but sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I will post information on the new Nextdoor.com site and hopefully we can begin organizing our efforts.

I hope everyone has a good month!

By Jeanne Klimschot, Bennington VM

The Greens

Happy spring! Now that spring has arrived, we all begin to plan all those great spring activities. Before you proceed with new landscaping or exterior changes, make sure you check with the Westchase Community Association (WCA) management office to confirm if you first need Modifications Committee approval.

When was the last time you attended a monthly Westchase Voting Members (VMs) or WCA Board meeting? When you purchased your home in The Greens, did you consider it a sizable investment worth protecting? If so, you owe it to yourself to participate in a meeting occasionally.

The Web site of the Community Development District’s (CDD) Greens gatehouse page is http://www.westchasecdd.com/4.html There. you’ll find further information, along with the resident form, just in case you care to update your resident file.

Please send all new e-mail addresses to me at gpappa@tampabay.rr.com so we can add all new Greens residents to The Greens database.

By Gerald (Jerry) Pappa, The Greens VM

Stockbridge

I was unable to attend the March 18 Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting, when we were presented the proposed amendments to the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and Bylaws. Once I have an update from our alternate, Ron Boyington, I will let the residents know via e-mail of anything that may affect us. Remember that Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board meetings and VM meetings are open to all residents. The monthly schedule is available under the events tab on WOW online, http://www.WestchaseWOW.com

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I am always looking for items to add to our Village Voice. Please share with me any items or events you think would be useful. I’d ask new moms and dads to be to keep me posted when the happy day arrives so we can celebrate your news. I will also pass these along to the WOW for consideration.

We are looking to hosting the neighborhood block party on April 25 or the following weekend in May. I will come around the neighborhood with flyers and send out an e-mail update the week before. Please let me know if you would like to assist in any way.

If you are not receiving my e-mails, please be sure to e-mail me to be added to the Stockbridge distribution list: edsiler@gmail.com.

Happy Easter!

By Ed Siler, Stockbridge VM

Townhomes of West Park Village

The Townhomes board of directors met on March 5 and discussed a number of items. The first was our landscaping. The association will be responsible for landscaping that was part of the original package that came with the townhome when it was built. If plants are diseased or damaged, then we will replace them. Simply notify Denise at Greenacre Properties and she will decide if the landscaping was part of our original plan. If it is, she will arrange for Davie Landscaping to repair or replace the plants. This is only for landscaping in your actual yard and does not include street trees in parkway area, which are the homeowner’s responsibility.

We also discussed painting of our units, coming up in a couple of years. The first issue is whether we should place ourselves on a six- or seven-year painting schedule to save extra money for the eventual replacement of our roof shingles. Right now we are on a five-year schedule. Remember that we borrowed money from that fund to replace our wood fences a few years ago with PVC fencing and are still catching up with replenishing the roof account. We made no decision on that issue, but will talk more about it in the future.

Another painting issue was exterior color choices. The last time we just painted the units the same color they were originally painted. I feel we should include some of the newer colors that are part of the Westchase master palette recently adopted by voting members. Mary McQuinn and I will review colors and report back. Color styles change over time and we want to keep our units looking current.

On a final note we have a new board member, Joshua Butts, who replaced Mary Rodriguez, who recently moved to another section of Westchase. We still need another board member to replace Mike Niemis, who will also be moving soon. It is important that we have involved board members to help make decisions. It’s not that time consuming as we do most of our business through e-mails and only meet a couple of times a year. Please consider volunteering.

I wish all our members a great spring as we watch our trees and plants come back to life and make our beautiful community even better.

By Ray Chiaramonte, WPV Townhomes HOA President

Wycliff

The March Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting occurred on March 18 after WOW deadline. Wycliff does, however, have an annual event coming up. You are cordially invited to the Wycliff Eggstravaganza!

Come help us celebrate Easter with the little ones and enjoy some appetizers, drinks and some good, old-fashion neighborhood camaraderie. If you don’t have kids, we still want to see you. If you have some little ones you know may enjoy this, bring ’em (but let me know so I can make sure we have plenty of eggs for them during the egg hunt)!

The Wycliff Eggstravaganza will be held in the cul-de-sac on Saturday, April 19, from 4 p.m. to whenever. The egg hunt begins at 5 p.m.

Please bring an appetizer of some sort (we are keeping it light), your own drinks and chairs.

By Shaney Nadel, Wycliff VM

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Proposed Casino Triggers Westchase Worries

One of the last available parcels of land in Westchase – originally slated for possible recreational use – will now feature a project that puts an unexpected twist on the word “recreational.”

Last year, in an effort to put an end to repeated attempts to develop and access 5.5 acres of land lying north of the large lake beside Westchase Elementary School and between Stonebridge and The Vineyards, the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) purchased it for $217,000. At the time, CDD supervisors congratulated themselves from removing a long-term thorn in their sides.

They appear to have celebrated too soon.

In February the land was appropriated under the National Indigenous Lands Reclamation Act by a Miami business consortium claiming Native American heritage. The group, known formally as the Whackasoogan Nation, Inc., has announced expedited plans for a casino and an 8,000 square foot greenhouse that has some Westchase residents very nervous.

In addition to the casino, the consortium announced that plans will feature a large smoke shop. Rather than focusing on tax-free tobacco sales, however, the greenhouse and Whackasoogan Smoke Shop aim to take quick advantage of the expected statewide legalization of medical marijuana on November’s ballot.

In February the former CDD land won the designation of a “land of native significance” when a shell mound containing Whackasoogan artifacts was discovered by CDD Engineer Tonya Stewart, who was taking soil samples for proposed athletic fields and a possible campground for Westchase Scouts.

“We found what appeared to be a number of clay bowls as well as what might best be described as traditional Whackasoogan eating utensils,” stated Stewart. She added the utensils were apparently used in religious rituals that involved veneration of plant spirits.

According to the consortium, the Whackasoogie are a lesser-known offshoot of the Seminoles. According to USF historian Malcolm Burns, a small group of Whackasoogie broke away in the late 18th century to espouse both vegetarianism and pacifism. “Needless to say, not many of our ancestors survived and we’ve struggled to convince any Florida state university to make us their mascot,” observed Whackasoogan provisional Chief Raymond Morningdew.

As the result of nutritional deficiencies and constant military defeats, by the early 1900s, few of the Whackasoogie nation survived. Historian Burns, however, stated that with the birth of the organic and vegan movements of the last two decades, many Whackasoogan descendants, whose heritage is as little as one-sixteenth Whackasoogan, are getting back in touch with their traditional roots. Stated Morningdew, a Miami native whose given name is Raymond Wosniak, “Who would have thought the numbers of people identifying themselves as Whackasoogan would grow in direct proportion to the gluten-free movement?”

The group’s claim on the district land was filed by Miami attorney Ronald Billingsly, who represents Whackasoogan interests and describes himself as the group’s official medicine man. That Whackasoogan land claim was subsequently held up in a federal circuit court ruling in early March.

“Needless to say,” remarked CDD Chair Mark Ragusa at the March 4 meeting of the Westchase district, “the Whackasoogan group was able to claim the land under the Federal Native Reclamation Act, which provides native people’s the legal right to reclaim land for its original purchase price plus an appropriate inflationary adjustment.”

“The land in question was forcibly confiscated by American settlers in the 1820s,” said Billingsly, who provided what he claimed was a copy of an original treaty he discovered in the state’s archives. “It was seized in exchange for two crates of cheap whiskey.”

Under the Reclamation Act, the Whackasoogie were thus able to compel the district to return the property for its modern-day equivalent value. “So the district was offered 250 cases of Busch Light or its monetary equivalent,” announced Ragusa. “It appears we’re faced with the option of throwing a community-wide block party or pocketing $5,400.”

CDD Supervisors voted unanimously to hold the party, which, CDD Supervisor Brian Ross argued, should be scheduled in conjunction with the casino’s grand opening. The Westchase Community Association (WCA) stated they would assist with the planning and are looking for high school students who need community service hours to organize the event.

“It is what it is,” agreed CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney, who argued the district had no choice but to see it as a win-win. Chesney also touted the casino and hotel as providing much needed local jobs. “We’ve been trying for months to get my son a job as a shopping cart retriever down at Publix. Competition for those positions is fierce.”

“We believe it can be win-win too,” Billingsly agreed. The attorney appeared at the CDD meeting to announce the project will be formally called Whackasoogan Slotzzz. “The name was chosen to capture the fact that it is both a casino and a hotel offering luxury accommodations after our patrons’ late night, high-stakes poker games.”

Billingsly touted the casino as creating at least 225 jobs locally. After hearing Chesney’s input, Billingsly committed to seeking a waiver of state employment rules to allow Westchase residents as young as 14 to work the gaming floor.

Under current development plans, that gaming floor will cover the equivalent of four football fields. Atop the gaming area on the casino’s first floor, fourteen additional floors will hold hotel rooms. A ten-story parking garage will help expand scarce parking opportunities on the cramped site. The site also features an 8,000 square foot greenhouse and the Whackasoogan Smoke Shop.

Tentative site plans call for the front façade of the structure to front the large lake lying between Westchase Elementary School and The Vineyards.

The proposed casino, however, does not sit well with local residents who are concerned about already overcrowded Westchase roads – and ways that the currently landlocked parcel will be accessed.

Expressing strong opposition to the project at the meeting, Paul Kajanski of The Bridges stated, “On Friday afternoons when the middle school lets out, it already takes me 17 minutes to get to the CVS to pick up my cholesterol medicine. The county won’t be happy until they find my lifeless corpse holding up traffic on Montague Street.”

Because of the land’s new federal designation and the state’s gutting of its development laws, however, there is little Westchase can do to prevent the casino’s developers from accessing the land through Stonebridge or, should that route prove inadequate, also The Vineyards. And while Stonebridge residents have vehemently fought all previous efforts to access the land through their gates, the Stonebridge HOA is currently negotiating the casino developers over granting access.

“They’ve agreed to provide shuttle service from each villa directly to the casino’s front door,” stated Stonebridge HOA’s attorney Stanley Chambliss. “In exchange the casino has also committed to providing each villa owner $100 in free gaming chips each month. We’re holding out for $200 per month. I’m sure we’ll eventually land on a number that will make everyone happy.”

Florida’s state government has also dramatically gutted development laws in recent years to enable projects such as the proposed casino to be built with few delays. The casino, whose approval is considered a foregone conclusion during the 2014 Florida legislative session, is one of 50 projects specifically identified in Governor Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get Back to Work” campaign. Yet, because of slated tax cuts, there are no additional state or county funds being budgeted to help expand impacted roads. When the governor’s office was reached for comment, Scott’s spokesperson, Leslie Gains, simply commented, “The governor won’t rest until every Floridian who wants a long commute has one.”

In an attempt to protect Westchase’s interests, the Westchase Community Association (WCA) appointed a Casino Committee to negotiate with the developer over issues of concern. The committee consists of board members, voting members and local residents. Citing concerns about “the dark reputation of the gaming industry,” however, the association is keeping the committee’s membership under wraps.

In order to communicate with the committee, WOW also had to agree to a series of late night dead drops under the fake landscaping boulder that is located near Baybridge Park’s playground equipment.

An anonymous committee member observed, “We know traffic is going to be a huge issue. But the developer has really shown a willingness to work with the community. They’ve committed to incorporating Westchase-type brick into the building’s façade and use West Park Village-type streetlights throughout the casino’s lands.”

“It could have been a lot worse – like a 24-hour Wal-Mart,” the committee’s communique stated, “Instead, we’re getting a high-end casino.”

According to Billingsly and Morningdew, the casino’s main building will be constructed facing the lake. At night the lake will therefore serve as a large reflecting pool for the building’s dramatic external lighting.

“Like the Hard Rock at night,” the anonymous Casino Committee member stated, “the external lights coloring the casino at night will change every few minutes. But rather than using neon or pastel colors, the developer has committed to picking the colors from the WCA’s exterior house color paint palette.”

“Further – and this is what we’re really excited about,” stated the communique, “the building’s entire 15-story façade will feature a large, stylizied Westchase W.”

The stylized letter, which appears on all of Westchase’s entrance monuments, will consist of over 10,000 LED lights, which will also change colors with the building’s external lighting. “We think it not only reflects the community’s aesthetics, but we also think the building will help put Westchase on the map,” the committee wrote.

“We particularly love the committee’s suggestion to incorporate the W,” agreed Chief Morningdew. “It’s a great tie-in, representing not only your great community but also the name of my great people.”

The reflecting lake, according to the developers, will also feature nightly water ski shows that will incorporate fireworks on special occasions like the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and Morningdew’s birthday.

Morningdew, who estimated the building’s construction at $25.6 million, stated the casino will reflect the culture of his indigenous group. Unlike many casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, which feature rich foods, the three restaurants within Slotzzz will be vegetarian. Many items will be billed as “steak” or “burgers” but most will be soy or bean-based. “We believe the Slotzzz culinary experience will help teach our diners that fake meat can be a fulfilling part of everyone’s diet.”

When asked what other items the association was negotiating with the casino development team over, the committee responded that the association did not feel comfortable discussing the development document before it’s finalized. “The developer has accommodated nearly all of our requests,” the committee insisted. “We think everyone is really going to love it.”

A major sticking point between the association and the casino representatives, however, involves plans to incorporate an enormous 8,000 square-foot greenhouse structure surrounded by a ten foot razor-wire fence at the rear of the property. “My people are dedicated to a spiritual and nutritional life that is entirely plant-based,” stated Morningdew. “We don’t share the hang-ups that some current Americans have with cannabis. Thus, with the medicinal marijuana amendment looking like it will pass on November’s ballot, we would be foolish not to plan ahead.”

Morningdew stated that if the amendment passes, the casino’s smoke shop will also feature an infirmary of some 15 doctors who will review guests’ medical complaints in order to offer access to the greenhouse’s traditional cures. “Whether it’s anxiety, a rash or ADD, we think Westchase residents will tremendously value the availability of upscale, all-natural pharmacopeia within the community,” said Morningdew.

In an effort to promote this highly controversial portion of the project, Morningdew appeared at the CDD and WCA meetings in March and distributed T-shirts that read: I Got Whacked at Slotzzz…and Loved Every Minute!”

“We hope all of Westchase’s great leaders are first in line!” he stated to laughter.

The Casino Committee has acknowledged that one major point of disagreement is still being negotiated. The group has been unable to get the Whackasoogan leaders to commit that no more than 50 percent of the greenhouse’s productivity will involve the growth and sale of legalized cannabis. “They gave us the W,” stated the committee’s communique. “This is very important for them. In return, we may have to compromise on this particular issue.”

“The upside?” the committee stated wryly, “is that Westchase will have the happiest traffic jams in Tampa Bay.”

Because the parcel falls outside of county jurisdiction, no rezoning request is necessary. According to Billingsly, ground breaking is expected to happen in early May. With construction estimated to take 18 months, Whackasoogan leaders are projecting a grand opening in November 2015.

The Casino Committee, meanwhile, is still seeking resident input on the project. Westchase residents can make suggestions by e-mailing manager@wcamanager.com.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

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

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Wizard PTA Looking to Recruit Next Year’s Volunteers

The PTA of Westchase Elementary School is hosting their annual recruitment breakfast April 15.

We encourage anyone interested in becoming involved in the events sponsored by the PTA to attend. There will be an opportunity to sign up for the specific committees that spark your interest. We are always excited about new members that bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the table! A light breakfast will be served at the Westchase Golf Club at 9 a.m. Please plan on coming out to join us. There is no better way to be involved in your child’s school than serving on the PTA. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to westchasevolunteer@gmail.com.

Our students participated in a contest to design the new spirit shirt for next year. Many creative ideas were submitted. After thoughtful consideration was given to each of them, the winner was chosen by Mr. Holley and Ms. Pecararo. Fourth grade student Gertie Arnold’s design was the winner with the slogan, “Keep Calm and Study On!” The shirts will be on sale during August during the orientation week in the multi-purpose room. Congratulations, Gertie, and thank you to all of the students that participated in the contest!

Standardized testing continues this month. April 1-11 is the Stanford 10 testing in Grades 1-3. Grades 3-5 will be taking the FCAT April 22- May 2. During the weeks of standardized testing visitors and volunteers will not be allowed on campus. This is to provide all of our students with the best possible testing environment. We thank everyone for their cooperation in this effort.

Remember there is no school on Friday, April 18.

By Jennifer Arnold

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Newcomers Learn About Human Trafficking

The Newcomers of Northwest Hillsborough will meet for their monthly luncheon at 11 a.m. on April 17 at Flamestone American Grill, 4009 Tampa Rd. in Oldsmar.
  
Tampa is a major hub of human trafficking in Florida. Ellie Almand and Karen Loos from the HeartDance Foundation will educate members about human trafficking involving women and youth in our area. Reservations should be made by Thursday, April 10, by calling Madeline at 818-0599.

The Newcomers of Northwest Hillsborough invites women who would like to form new friendships and get to know the area better to join us. See http://www.newcomersnwhillsborough.com for more information.

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The Great Spiedini Opens in Westchase Town Center

New Orleans has the muffaletta, Memphis has BBQ, and Binghamton has the spiedie.

While the spiedie might not be as familiar to you as the first two, one Westchase area resident aims to change that. “Italian immigrants brought spiedies to up-state New York,” says Rick Swartwood. “They are very well known and revered in Binghamton and the surrounding areas but when you leave that area, you find that people haven’t heard of them.”

Once the Smartwoods moved to Tampa, they knew they needed to start introducing people to their favorite sandwich. “The secret to the spiedie sandwich is the marinade. Making a spiedie sandwich involves marinating the meat overnight and then grilling it, said Rick.

Along with his son and wife, Swartwood co-owns The Great Spiedini, which recently opened in West Park Village. Rick has been working on his special marinade for years. “I have been making spiedies for family and friends since I was 19 years old. Every time I make them, people ask me for the recipe.”

Swartwood won’t share his marinade recipe but he will make a spiedie for you. For a little over a year the Swartwood family has been spreading the spiedie gospel to hungry festival goers in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Safety Harbor. They even won the People’s Choice Award at the John’s Pass Seafood and Music Festival. “Everywhere we went, people asked us where our restaurant was,” says Swartwood. “It has been a life long dream for me to open a spiedie restaurant and we as a family felt that the time was finally right.”

After looking at their options, the Swartwoods decided Westchase was the place to be. “My son already lived in this area so we were familiar with it. We love the sense of community here in Westchase. We are looking forward to getting to know residents and being a part of the community. In addition to our spiedies, we’ll serve salads, appetizers, soups, and wings.” Smartwood added that the restaurant also has a kid’s menu and serves wine and beer.

The Great Spiedini is located in the West Park Village Town Center near World of Beer. Drop on by and meet upstate New York’s favorite sandwich.

And be spiedie about it.

By Marcy Sanford

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TBAY Swimmers Splash into Short Course Championships

March and April are short-course championship meet time for Westchase swimmers.

First came Senior Champs in Orlando, which is for swimmers who are 15 and older and who have qualifying times. Westchase’s Maddie Strasen, 16, swam in events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

FLAGS, known to swimmers as Junior Olympics, was held in Sarasota March 13-16 for swimmers 14 and under. TBAY Westchase sent five swimmers who achieved the very challenging qualifying times – Jacob Key, Kory Kimura, Zachary Bennett, Joshua Bennett and Eliot Easton.

The last short course championship meet is March 28-30, held after WOW deadline in Sarasota. That meet is open to all swimmers.

In April the long course season starts for our swimmers. A long course meet uses a pool that is 50 meters in length. Some pools, like the Northshore pool in St. Petersburg or the Long Center in Clearwater, can be adjusted to accommodate either length. Our Westchase pools, however, can only accommodate the standard 25 yards so our swimmers must adapt when they attend long course meets. Some swimmers who aren’t as fast on flip turns and off the walls actually swim better in long course meets. Others find the longer swim to the wall a challenge.

For more information about the team, please visit http://www.tbaywestchase.org

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By Brenda Bennett

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, March 2014

Sure, it seems fishy but Dr. Francis Goldwater is the answer to guilt-ridden parents’ prayers.

Yes, we’re talking about all of you out there who sneak out to PetSmart when the beta bellies up. Rather than stage the fourth fish funeral in seven months, you figure it’s just plain easier. But when the guilt and the lies become too much, Dr. Goldwater will fit the bill.

Plus, she won’t pad it by upselling her special organic fish food designed to help with your pet fish’s shiny coat, healthy teeth, arthritis, proper weight maintenance and swollen anal glands.
Without pretense of being koi,” wrote dedicated Frozen Pizza Eater Marty Hamilton of Brentford, “Dr Goldwater [on page 55] offers premium veterinary care for aquatic pets.” Marty added, “I don't mean to carp, but I think the only physician that could revive one of my gouramis when it's doing the inverted float is Dr. Frankenstein.”

Marty, however, is still looking for a fish psychologist to address his tiger barbs’ aggressive nipping of angelfish fins. “While the accused may have deserved summary execution and a porcelain swirl,” he concluded, “the court has been lenient and imposed a chorus of ‘Circle of Life’ followed by banishment to the retention pond for a lifelong game of hide-and-seek-tag with the cormorants. That usually knocks them off their perch.”

Congratulations, however, are in order for Sharee Chapman of The Shires. As the result of her randomly selected correct entry, Sharee will be taking a fellow seafood surgeon to dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

Now get your April guesses in today, fake ad fans!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Meet Ranger!

This is Ranger, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and a resident of The Fords. Ranger belongs to the Buck family. She is shown here posing for her 2-year-old birthday photos in her backyard, fronting a beautiful lake in Brentford. 

WOW is running low on photos for our Pet of the Month feature. Be sure to send in a photo of your special pet along with a few sentences about his or her personality to editor@westchasewow.com.

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Westchase Artists Elect New Board

The Westchase Artists Society elected their new officers at the group’s February meeting.

Teresa Trubilla will continue to serve as president while Jennifer Joyner will remain as vice president. Stephanie Bolten was elected to serve as secretary and Judy Freeman will serve as treasurer.

Rebecca Piskura, a relatively new member of the Westchase Artists Society, shared a little about her intuitive method of drawing along with a piece of her work that she recently completed. Medicine Wheel West: Bear Visioning is part of a series of four works that she is creating. Each direction – north, south, east and west – is featured in its own painting representing the color, animal and qualities associated with it. In offering one bit of advice to her fellow artists, Piskura said, “Don’t change your work based on what someone else says.”

On March 5 Jennifer Joyner, chairman of the 2013 Westchase Holiday Market, presented a check for $2,500 to Julie Reyes from the local Autism Speaks office. The money, raised during the Holiday Market held in December, will be used to provide services and support to local families and to fund research for a cure.

The artists’ next group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at a member’s house. Please refer to http://www.westchaseartists.com for more information about the meeting’s location and agenda. You can also friend the group on Facebook to stay updated on group activities.

The Westchase Artists Society is open to all types of visual artists from Upper Tampa Bay. Those interested in learning more about the group are invited to drop by a monthly meeting, generally held at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library on Countryway Boulevard. Bring your creativity and a sample of your artwork to share.

By Teresa Trubilla

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WOW Preparing 2014 Resident and Business Directory

Click here to open the online form to appear in the 2014 Westchase Resident and Business Directory.

Were you in last year’s WOW Resident Directory? If not, now’s the time to make sure your information is included in the upcoming edition.

In preparation for the 2014 Westchase Resident and Business Directory, WOW  has posted an easy-to-use form on its Web site to allow residents who did not appear in last summer’s directory to submit their information for the new one.

That form can be found in this article, located at the top of the homepage at http://www.westchasewow.com The d.eadline for completed forms is April 15.
A form is also included in this month’s inserts.

The online or paper forms may be used for either completely new submissions or updates to entries that ran in the 2013 directory. If your entry already ran correctly in 2013 directory, you need to do nothing; your information will be automatically included again in the 2014 directory. Forms also are available in WOW’s inserts this month.

Every year WOW distributes the popular directory, which contains Westchase residents’ names, home and e-mail addresses and phone numbers – as well as the names and numbers of businesses who provide valuable services to Westchase residents. This year’s directory is slated for distribution in June.

Residents are assured that WOW has never sold, leased or shared the directory’s contact information with any commercial entity; contact information is, however, shared with Westchase voting members (VMs) upon request. VMs then use residents’ e-mails to distribute village-specific news like neighborhood crime watch information or block party notifications. The directory is simply for residents’ daily use. It is, however, strictly opt-in. Any household that does not submit a form containing its information will not be included in the directory.

Don’t miss out on the most popular phone book in Westchase!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Davidsen Dragons Enjoy Another Successful Medieval Fair

This year’s Medieval Fair has come and gone, but it won’t soon be forgotten.

The fair was a tremendous success and much fun was had by the students, teachers and volunteers. The fair included four spectacular inflatables, several fun carnival games and, of course, lots of fair food!

Elaine Ragan headed up the festivities this year and is thankful to everyone who volunteered their time to make the fair possible. “It would not be possible without you,” Ragan said. Ragan extends special thanks to Mr. McBrien and Ms. Wilson, as well as the Davidsen maintenance, custodial and kitchen staff. “We know how much extra work it is for everyone and we appreciate all that they do! And a special thank you to Mr. Gambino. who was gracious enough to get drenched in the Flush ’Em game on an exceptionally cold afternoon. The kids loved that!” Ragan added. 

Until next year!

For many parents it is middle school decision time. Now is the perfect time for current and former Davidsen parents to take a few minutes to fill out a review of our school at http://www.greatschools.org.  Great Schools is a well-respected Web site that many parents turn to when making school choices. It is also popular with parents who are relocating to a new area, as school ratings play a large role in neighborhood selection for people with school-age children. Please take a few minutes to help spread the word about our wonderful school!

It’s hard to believe just how quickly this school year has gone. As the year winds down, the testing season is quickly approaching. The FCAT tests will be administered from April 22-30. We know that our students and teachers have been working hard all year in preparation and we wish them all the best!

Be sure to “like” the Davidsen Middle School PTSA on Facebook to keep tabs on all that is yet to come this school year. The school year may be nearing the end, but there still is still much fun to be had!

By Karen Ring

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UTB Library Programs, April 2014

FAMILY PROGRAMS

Toddler Time (Ages 2-3 with caregiver): Tue, April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, at 10:15 a.m.; Wed, April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 11 a.m.

Story Time (Ages 3-5): Tue, April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, at 11 a.m.

Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Tue, April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, at 1:15 p.m.; Wed, April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 10:15 a.m.

Wee Artists: Thu, April 3, 10, 17 and 24, at 1:15 p.m.

  • Join us for arts and crafts for preschoolers.

CoderDojo Tampa Bay Area – Teaching Kids to Code: Sat, April 12 and 26, at 11:30 a.m.

Motion Commotion: Wed, April 16, at 1:15 p.m.

Block Party: Mon, April 21, at 3:30 p.m.

  • Build a fun, interactive and creative afternoon with the library’s LEGO blocks.

Alphabet Club: Wed, April 30, at 1:15 p.m.

  • Have fun with stories, action rhymes, songs and crafts.

TEEN PROGRAMS

Game Zone: Thu, April 3, at 5:30 p.m.

  • Get in the zone and join your friends for some gaming.

Teen Movie Night: Thu, April 17, at 5:30 p.m.

Teen Advisory Board: Tue, April 1 and 15, at 4:30 p.m.

ADULT PROGRAMS

Sahaja Meditation: Sat, April 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 10:30 a.m.

  • Learn and practice meditation to improve clarity, health and peace.

Tai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Wed, April 3 and 10, 1:30 p.m.

Upper Tampa Bay Mah Jongg Club: Fri, April 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 1 p.m.

Master Gardener – Get Those Hummers: Wed, April 9, at 6:30 p.m.

  • Discover plants and feeders that attract hummingbirds.

Book Discussion: Thu, April 3, at 6:30 p.m.

  • Join us to discuss Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill.

Book Discussion: Mon, April 21, at 11 a.m.

  • Join us to discuss Away by Amy Bloom.

Computer Classes:   

Pinterest: Tue, April 1, at 2:30 p.m.

QuickBooks – Introduction: Tue, April 1, at 6:30 p.m.

Twitter: Tue, April 8, at 2:30 p.m.

QuickBooks – Creating a Company Profile: Tue, April 8, at 6:30 p.m.

An Introduction to Zinio and Hoopla: Tue, April 15, at 2:30 p.m.

QuickBooks – Creating Accounts and Inventory: Tue, April 15, at 6:30 p.m.

eBooks for Kindle and Kindle Apps: Tue, April 22, at 2:30 p.m.

QuickBooks – Vendor Transactions: Tue, April 22, at 6:30 p.m.

Online Photo Editing: Tue, April 29, at 2:30 p.m.

QuickBooks – Customer Transactions: Tue, April 29, at 6:30 p.m.

LIBRARY HOURS

Sun, 12:30-5 p.m.; Mon-Wed, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thu, noon-8 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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Several Openings at Little Ravens Preschool

Did you know Alonso High School is home to a preschool program that operates three days a week October through May?

Little Ravens is a developmental preschool program for children aged 3-5. Its focus is readiness for kindergarten and socialization in a nurturing, developmentally appropriate environment. The program allows Early Childhood Education students hands-on working experience with young children while working towards their certification.

We are proud that some of our students have been partially certified through the Department of Children and Families. Our student teacher-to-preschooler ratio is 3:1. We have several openings; if interested, please fill out an application in the main office of Alonso High School. Please note you will need to attach your child’s updated health and shot records. If admitted, we will contact you. A completed application is due to Alonso High School no later Sept. 12, 2014, by 3 p.m. The application process is based on a first-come, first-served basis. Only eight spots are available.

Did you know that there are free resources that can help your student ace that AP exam? Send your student to the media center and check in with Mrs. Lohmann. Ask her for the AP class practice tests. Mrs. Lohmann can also assist students with other online test and education resources where they can study 24/7. It’s like a one-stop place to read and research. The resources include the Britannica Online Encyclopedias, health and wellness, psychology, fine arts and music, as well as popular and classic fiction and nonfiction e-books. Students can even access the library resources from most smart phones. It’s like having a library in your pocket. Check it out!
The dates for Alonso High School’s dance team tryouts are April 28 from 3:30-5 p.m. and April 29-May 1 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The Alonso Booster Club will be sending out scholarship forms the first part of April. Be sure to submit yours by the May deadline. We are also seeking new parents for the 2014-15 Booster board. If you are interested in being a part of the booster club, please contact Tracy Urso for more information.

The next SAC/PTSA meeting is scheduled for April 30 at 5:30 p.m.
Students can leave their legacy in stone by purchasing a Raven’s Head. They will also soon be able to show their school spirit by purchasing a Raven’s Head car magnet, which are coming soon! Visit the Alonso High School PTSA Facebook page for more information.
Go, Ravens!

Important April Dates

1 Baseball/Softball vs. Plant
2  Girls Lacrosse vs. Sarasota Military
3  Flag vs. Gaither
4  Baseball/Softball vs. Bloomingdale
4  Girls/Boys Lacrosse vs. Newsome
5  Saturday Success Academy
8  Baseball/Softball vs. Gaither
10  Flag vs. Freedom
12  Baseball vs. Freedom
14-16  Girls Lacrosse District Tournament
16  PTSA Meeting
24  Flag vs. Robinson
26  Saturday Success Academy
28  Dance Team Tryouts
30  PTSA/SAC Meeting

By Tracy Urso

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Relay For Life: Cancer Survivors Are Invited to Celebrate!

We invite all cancer survivors to show their courage and spirit!

Cancer survivors of all ages, their caregivers and friends are invited to join us on May 17 for one lap around the track during the American Cancer Society Relay For Life Survivors’ ceremony.

An important part of Relay For Life is the celebration of millions of cancer survivors who are alive in the United States today. Anyone who has ever battled cancer is invited to celebrate life by participating in the Survivors Lap and Dinner at Relay for Life. The Survivors Lap symbolizes the courage survivors and their families display every day. Take this opportunity to have your community support and honor you and, in turn, support others who are facing this disease.

This year’s survivor event will be held Saturday, May 17, at 2 p.m. at Alonso High School’s track.

If you are a survivor that would like to participate, please register online at http://www.relay4life.org/westchasefl If yo.u have any questions, please contact Tonya Sanchez at tsanch22@aol.com.

It’s easy to become involved with the Relay and help find a cure for cancer. You can form a team, join the planning committee or be a spectator. To form your team, go to http://www.relayforlife.org/westchasefl; to join the committee, contact Jordyn Clark at jordyn.clark@cancer.org.

We welcome everyone who wishes to join us in the fight against cancer! Our next team party is April 16 at 6 p.m. at Alonso High School’s cafeteria.

Upcoming Relay Fund-Raisers and Meetings:

Ping Pong Tournament: April 6, 1-4 p.m. (Westchase Rec Center)
Westchase Community Egg Hunt: April 13, 1-4 p.m. (Westchase Rec Center)
Team Party: April 16, 6 p.m. (Alonso HS Cafeteria)

By Tonya Sanchez and Tracy Urso

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It’s Time to Think Summer Camp!

Summer is just around the corner. For parents, this means one thing – time to think camp!

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

Knowing Camp’s Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Different Camp Types

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

Traditional day camps offer an affordable and well-rounded option for parents looking to sign their child up for a full summer or just a week here and there. Traditional day camps offer a wide variety of activities throughout the day and often incorporate field trips. We are fortunate to have two wonderful traditional day camp programs right in our own backyard: The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s Summer Camp and the summer camp offered through the Westchase Recreation Center. The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center Camp offers weekly full-day and half-day options. The days are jam-packed with swimming, arts and crafts, traditional camp games, as well as a weekly field trip. Discounts are offered to Westchase residents. The Westchase Recreation Center summer camp is offered in two-week sessions and the days are filled with activities including nature exploration, fitness, sports, crafts, reading and field trips.

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

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

Finding the Right Camp

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

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

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

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Making Camp More Affordable

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

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

Assistance Offered From The U.S. Government: A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account offers tax savings by allowing parents to pay for childcare or adult dependent care expenses that are necessary to allow them to work, look for work or attend school full-time with pre-tax money. Visit http://www.fsafeds.com for more information. Further, through the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, the IRS allows an income tax credit on dependent care expenses. The amount of the credit is based on adjusted gross income and applies to your federal taxes. This can apply to qualifying day camp expenses as well. Visit http://www.irs.gov for more information.

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

Happy camping!

By Karen Ring

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Middleton Robotics Team Heads to World Championship

In February Middleton High School robotics club’s Team Minotaur advanced to the April 23-27 First Tech Challenge (FTC) World Robotics Championship.

Team Minotaur, which includes Daniel Holtzberg of The Bridges and Alex Stein of The Estates, qualified for the world championship, to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, with a strong performance at the FTC Super-Regional Tournament, held in San Antonio, Texas on Feb. 26-28.

FTC was started in 1989 by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, to promote students’ interest in science and technology.

Team Minotaur, which also includes students from Countryway and New Tampa, was a semi-finalist at the Feb. 1 Florida state championship at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, which qualified the team to advance to the Super-Regional tournament, where it was a division semi-finalist. In addition, at the state championship Daniel Holtzberg was one of a group of students awarded a four-year scholarship to attend Embry-Riddle.

The team members build and program their robot, create an engineering notebook and a video, make a presentation to the judges, and engage in community outreach. In fact, at the Florida state championship Team Minotaur received the judges’ award for community outreach. In the tournaments each team is put into an alliance with a different team for each match, and each alliance competes against another two-team alliance to complete a series of tasks within a limited time. The following link to a YouTube video is an example of a robotics competition involving a Middleton team: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otiTvLs_nT8

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In addition to Team Minotaur, Middleton High School’s two other FTC robotics teams, Maelstrom and Masquerade, also earned spots at the World Championship. Middleton has a strong tradition of success at Worlds. Minotaur was a division semi-finalist in 2011, Masquerade won in 2012 and Maelstrom came in second in 2013.

Minotaur needs to raise thousands of dollars for airfare and hotels for students and mentors to attend the World Championship, and would welcome any donations (tax-deductible) to help defray the cost. Please contact Martha Stein at ms4547@verizon.net or 818-4547 if you or your company might be able to support these young engineers.

Middleton Robotics is sponsoring a 50/50 raffle to raise funds to attend Worlds, at http://www.youcaring.com/other/middleton-robotics-50-50-raffle/146659 For f.urther information you can check out the Middleton Robotics Web page at http://middletonrobotics.com For n.ext year’s season Middleton Robotics will need additional adult mentors with engineering and computer programming skills. If you have any interest, please contact one of the individuals shown on the Middleton Robotics Web page contact list.

By Jonathan Stein

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The Pitfalls of Being Amazing

An old saying holds that a person learns more from failure than from success.

Many American parents and grandparents alive today grew up in homes without a great deal of emotional support or parental involvement. This fend-for-yourself environment likely helped produce an explosion of self-help books promoting self-esteem over the last three decades. These adults then understandably decided they would raise their own children differently.

Recently, however, a slew of articles, blogs and papers have highlighted the fact that many of their children, now young adults, are struggling with depression, anxiety, and high levels of self-doubt as they navigate their early twenties. A surprising number of these individuals come from stable families that have provided their kids a wealth of opportunities.

What, therefore, might be the cause?

Many experts are suggesting the self-esteem pendulum may have swung too far to the opposite extreme. They are suggesting that many of these young adults have simply not learned to fail or to be ordinary. A popular phrase among researchers is that these young adults lack “grit.”

As children, they were too frequently told they were “amazing, smart, talented and creative” in almost everything they did or touched. Their well-intentioned parents even swooped in when they were struggling in order to protect them from feeling the pain of failure. What is flawed with this approach?

Most of us are good at some things and maybe great at one or two things – yet we’re less talented in many other things. And these other things require far greater commitment and tenacity from us if we are to succeed at them.

Consider math homework. Faced with challenging problems like those on Sunshine Math, many children immediately bring the homework to parents for assistance. If a parent makes the mistake of quickly bailing out their children a few times, suddenly they’re doing the Sunshine Math homework every week.

It’s better to let your child learn that a little struggle and squirming is perfectly OK. If quickly bailed out, how will they learn tenacity, commitment and independence?

When children also only hear that they possess personal qualities of near perfection, many things can go wrong. For one, when they encounter something difficult, they may interpret it as “something is wrong with me because I do not understand this.”

How does their logic proceed? “Since I am smart, then I should understand this and everything else.” They conclude, “If I don’t understand it, it must be because I am not smart.”

These kids then tend to give up more easily than children who have a history of being praised for effort, work and persistence. When children are praised for these other qualities, their logic has a different look: “If something is hard, then it can likely be solved if I work hard and do not give up.”

Another problem with failing to present children with a balanced view of self is that they do not then develop a balanced view of themselves. What does this mean? It’s simply not realistic for a child to think, “I am awesome at everything!”

A more realistic view of might be, “Art is easy for me but sports are a little harder, so I need to work more in this area.” Or “Reading comes naturally, but in math I have to focus more because it’s more difficult for me.” Or “I have a good memory and school is easy but meeting new people is a bit scarier for me.”

When children get the sense that their abilities will vary with different activities – and that this is a normal, human state for all of us – then the next time they encounter something hard, it will be less of a blow to their unrealistic, inflated sense of self. In this way, making mistakes, losing, not getting a trophy, receiving a poor grade, not being invited to a party – all can be worked through a bit more easily because their sense of self isn’t built upon the false premise that everything will and should be “amazing” for them.

If children can learn that is OK to take risks, to struggle, to fail and to lose – and their parents allow this to naturally happen, then the failures and obstacles of adulthood will not represent new, anxiety-provoking territory. 

Instead, teach your children that being “amazing” means accepting their strengths and weaknesses with grace, humility and humor.

So the next time your son comes in last place in a race, don’t tell him he was amazing. Tell him that the other kids were faster and he got beat – that it happens but he is still a good person with other fine qualities. The next time your daughter’s team comes in last place, don’t tell her they did amazing. Tell her they worked hard but the other team was better and remind her of her team’s other successes. And guide them in discovering how they can work to improve – if they stick with it.

Win or lose, tell your children you are proud of their effort.

In this way, you’ll help instill true grit.

By Maria Aranda, Ph.D.

Aranda is a licensed psychologist (#PY5983) who specializes in psychological assessments and child, adolescent, and adult therapy. More information about her can be found at http://www.helpingtampafamilies.com<./p>

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Summer Fun, Fitness, and Flavorfully Nutritious Food

As you plan summer activities for your children, consider how they will promote good health.

Children think of summer as time for fun. It can also be an opportunity to include plenty of physical activity and lots of fruits and vegetables to combat the national challenge of obese and overweight kids. According to The Center for Disease Control the numbers who are overweight have tripled since the 1960s.

Although body mass index is not the most ideal standard for determining overweight and obese children, it is accepted as a valid indicator. Children who fall above the 85 to 95 percentile for their age and sex may be overweight; above 95 percentile may be obese. Sadly, many children who struggle with being overweight are more likely to struggle with weight as adults.

Nowadays lots of leisure activities actually promote inactivity. The Current Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance for 2011 shows that 32 percent of children in Grades 9-12 watch television three or more hours each school day. They spend another three hours using the computer for unrelated school work. It is not farfetched to imagine, therefore, that these trends start when the children are much younger than ninth grade and that kids’ time spent watching television and using the computer increases during the summer.

What’s the impact? Half of the children reported they did not have 60 minutes of physical activity at least five of the seven days before the survey and 14 percent did not engage in 60 minutes of activity any day during the week prior to the study. All of the numbers were worse for girls than boys. Further, numbers for the state of Florida, which has the best weather year for outdoor activity throughout the year, was slightly worse than the national average.

We know kids can be picky eaters and fast food is often convenient, relatively inexpensive choice. Yet much of it has a lot of calories and few nutrients, ultimately undermining healthy eating. During the seven days before the survey, for example, 38 percent of kids consumed less than one vegetable per day, and six percent didn’t eat a single one. Twenty-eight percent drank at least one soda per day.

The key to having healthy children who become healthy adults is combining fun, fitness and flavorfully nutritious food. This is just some food for thought as you review the plethora of options and make summer camp choices for your children.

By Shannon Thigpen

Shannon 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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Help from a Good Samaritan and an Angel

In February a Westchase Good Samaritan reunited another resident with an important lost treasure.

On Feb. 10 Tammy Lynn Mittleman of Woodbay undertook a typical walk along Countryway Boulevard’s sidewalks and median. When Mittleman walks in Westchase, she makes a point to pick up trash she sees. That particular day was hot and her fingers were swelling, so she slipped her wedding and engagement rings onto her pinky finger.

Once back at home she discovered their loss later that evening.

In desperation Mittleman contacted the Community Development District (CDD) office, e-mailed voting members and requested help and prayers on Facebook. One of Mittleman’s desperate e-mails said, “We are going out with a metal detector today to search again. We are just sick about this, and any help or guidance you can provide would be appreciated. Perhaps there is a Good Samaritan who will turn up my precious rings. They are valuable and precious (sentimental), and I am just praying someone finds them.”

Enter Catherine Barnhill of Glenfield. On Monday, Feb. 11, Catherine was struggling to get her almost 2-year-old daughter, Clara, to nap. Barnhill said she felt a very clear urging that she should take her daughters for a walk to Glencliff Park. Barnhill loaded Clara and her 4-year-old sister, Abigail, into their double stroller. As they were walking down Countryway Boulevard just south of Wycliff, Barnhill looked down and spotted a diamond ring in the middle of the sidewalk.

While the ring was dirty, Barnhill was fairly certain it looked real. She immediately knew that someone must be looking for it, so she called the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number. At the park Abigail also tried to help by asking several women there if anyone had lost their ring. The sheriff’s office sent two deputies out and after the deputies collected the information and ring, they provided Barnhill with a case number.

The next day as Barnhill was driving home from her daughter’s preschool, she spotted Mittleman with a metal detector in the exact spot where she had found the ring. She stopped and asked, “Are you looking for a ring?”

Mittleman was flabbergasted. After Barnhill told her that she had turned it into the sheriff’s office, Mittleman cried and said she had been praying that someone honest would find it. Mittleman said, “I had literally looked for about eight hours with a metal detector before I stopped to pray for God to either let me know that someone else needed that ring more than I did! I told Him, ‘Please send me an angel to help me find it because I was getting discouraged and didn't know where else to look.’”

Mittleman immediately called the sheriff’s office but they wouldn’t provide any information to her. As soon as Mittleman got the case number from Barnhill, she was able to eventually get the diamond ring back. After hearing the story and her prayer for an angel, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Luciano, who was helping Mittleman, said, “Do you know my first name? It is Angel!”

Both women are confident that divine intervention was definitely involved when Barnhill felt that urging to go out for a walk and Mittleman prayed that an honest person find her rings. While the wedding band still hasn’t turned up, Mittleman is thrilled to have her diamond ring back.

And Westchasers can have faith in good Samaritans.

By Brenda Bennett

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Westchase Seniors Treated Special

For four years now the Westchase McDonald’s has graciously offered the Westchase Seniors Group a place to gather on Tuesday mornings.They offer seniors who attend free coffee to go along with their paid breakfast of choice.

Pictured here is a typical group of Westchase seniors and four of the many friendly managers and servers who so kindly and effectively serve Westchase seniors on Tuesday mornings. Most of the time there are over a dozen women and close to a dozen men who show up at McDonald's on Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m. to enjoy a good cup of coffee and a lot of friendly visiting. The Westchase Seniors Group is very grateful for the kindnesses shown our group by the owner, general manager and staff of the Westchase McDonald’s restaurant.

Another Special Treat Bill and Marie Cooper have invited the Westchase Seniors Group to their home for lunch at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10. The Coopers live at 10231 Millport Dr. in The Fords. Marlene Holmes will be assisting Marie with the hosting duties and you are asked to R.S.V.P. to Nancy Dulmage at 814-0318 by Tuesday, April 8, to find out what food item you can bring to this pot luck luncheon. This Westchase Seniors activity is extra special because the Coopers’ home is filled with fine art, paintings, sculptures, and hand-crafted furniture that you will enjoy seeing. The Coopers’ daughter, Linda Hugues, is a professional portrait painter, Marie is a sculptor, and Bill designs and makes furniture.

Great Day at the Races Lunch at the Tampa Bay Downs Skye Terrace Restaurant and a day at the races were enjoyed by many Westchase Seniors on March 19. We want to thank Kendra Swe and Christine Stives for planning and overseeing this enjoyable day with friends and neighbors.

Upcoming Senior Day Trips Day trips are sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreational Center. Reservations may be made by calling 903-3482. Trips are limited to the first 25 who make reservations. The bus fare is free, however, senior should bring money for entrance into the activity and for lunch.

Wednesday, April 23: Pioneer Florida Museum at Dade City, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ($4 cash)
Wednesday, May 23: Shelby Gardens in Sarasota, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ($15 cash)

Join The Fun If you are a Westchase resident over 55-years-old and looking to enjoy life, join over 200 of your neighbors who make up the Westchase Seniors Group and add more life to your years. It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap. Members participate in only what they are interested in and pay their own way. 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).

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

The Pattersons are residents of Kingsford and can be reached at westchase.seniors@gmail.com or 926-5473.

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The Grind: Far More Than Java

Westchase residents have a new dining out option that can also satisfy caffeine urges and sugar cravings.

The Grind Coffee Shop and Café, located in the Westchase Town Center, serves gourmet coffee drinks, specialty herbal teas, and fresh fruit smoothies, a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, and homemade pastries, cakes and treats. “We are excited to be opening this location,” said co-owner and Greens resident Richard Hunt. “We feel so welcome by the community, including all the business owners around us. Before we even opened, we’d already received wonderful feedback from the events and fundraisers we’ve been to for Westchase Elementary and Relay for Life.”

“The majority of our food is made from scratch and we use local produce and ingredients whenever possible. We have wonderful homemade desserts and pastries, including gluten-free and vegan options,” said Hunt.

The Grind will also serve breakfast. “On the weekends we’ll have crepes and Belgian waffles. For lunch and dinner we’ll serve fresh salads, sandwiches, risotto, muffalettas and soups.”

Hunt and his partner Harrell Lambert said whether you prefer coffee or tea, they will have a drink you’ll like at The Grind. “Our employees specialize in helping people find a drink they will enjoy,” said Lambert. “All of our blended drinks are made from scratch. We even have a Westchase blend that was determined during a blind tasting with Westchase residents.”

Hunt and Lambert have paid attention to every detail to ensure The Grind is a place residents will enjoy with friends and family. “Everything – the lighting, the bar, the tables – is custom made,” said Hunt, adding, “Our re-engineered Kees Van Der Westen espresso machine is the only one of its kind in the U.S.”

In the future, the partners plan to open a drive-through window, but The Grind will offer curbside service until then. They also have a walk-up window for runners, bikers or dog walkers.

The Grind is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and midnight to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday night. For the latest information about special events and offerings, visit their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/thegrindcoffeebar

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The Happiest Place on Earth

Three ancients on mobility scooters just manage to clear the wooden bridge to Liberty Square when an enormous marching band from Cleveland, Texas bears down on them.

Ed, who sports a craggy face that looks like Expedition Everest but which is topped with a Korean War Veterans baseball cap, clears the bridge first. Traveling at a clip (No doubt to be first in line to get his photo taken with Ariel) he nearly pancakes Betsy Ross hand-painting Cinderella on a parasol.

Ed’s friends, a married couple with his and her scooters, trail behind, quibbling like uncooperative shopping carts with funky wheels.

A young park visitor skips past us all to catch up with friends. He’s dressed like Tinkerbell – green tights, green tutu, green wings.

My 8-year-old reaches for her autograph book then pauses. “He had glitter on his face!” she whispers.

A strange sound prompts me to look up. A skywriting airplane is magically looping a new letter:

JESUS LC

Welcome to Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

We hope you enjoy your stay. And will the last freak to jump on the monorail please turn off the lights?

The quibbling Scooter Couple rolls into earshot.

“Don’t be ridiculous. That was a girl. She had glitter on her face!” the man growls.

“No, Stan. I’m telling you. That Tinkerbell was a boy.”

Gerard, a Disney Cast member dressed like a train conductor, trots out his frantic adult voice to speed the oblivious duo on. “Please clear the road!” he cries. “Please clear the road NOW!”

Three expressionless, enormous Texan teens – a drum major and two assistants carrying a banner that’s clearly capable of decapitation – take the bridge by storm. They’re backed by a swarm of piccolos, clarinets and sweaty brass players that explode into the Mickey Mouse song.

Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?

Scooter Couple looks back in horror.

M-I-C!

Topping the bridge, the shocked drum major finally spots Scooter Couple. His martial composure cracks.

K-E-Y!

The drum major’s clueless band director has apparently failed to drill him on proper evasion tactics when the Cleveland High School Band encounters mobility scooters in the middle of the football field.

M-O-U-S-E!

In my head, the unfolding drama becomes a cartoon looping back at the Caribbean Resort’s check-in desk. The drum major stutters to a halt. The trumpet players slam into him. The clarinet and flute players become a huge, undulating accordion, spiked with arms, legs and band instruments. A bass drum rolls by. The trombone players collide. Their slides rocket into the air and the tuba players blunder over the bridge and swallow the mass whole.

Then the tuba players suck in deep breathes and blow so hard their legs lift off the road.

And the entire marching band is safely ejected over the top of Scooter Couple, falling into proper formation, all the slides arcing perfectly back onto the trombones.

Because at Disneyworld dreams really do come true.

But, no!

At the last possible moment – with inches to spare! – Scooter Couple drags their hawgs over to Sleepy Hollow, Fine Purveyors of Funnelcakes and Waffle Sandwiches.

And Gerard the Train Conductor exhales a sigh of relief.

But no!

After nearly killing Betsy Ross, Ed has inexplicably halted in the middle of the road. Now he’s digging through his shirt pocket for a windshield-sized sunglass visor to drape over his eyeglasses.

Gerard the Train Conductor breaks into a run. “Get off the road, sir!” he cries.

But Ed is apparently the deafest individual currently spring breaking in Florida.

So spring broken he can’t hear a Texas-sized marching band crashing and banging and tooting and blaring right before smashing into him.

“Oh, this is gonna be good,” my wife says.

Scooter Couple, who just survived their own near miss, joins the cacophony of Disney Cast Shouters.

“ED!” Scooter Couple Man screams, “GET OUTTA THE WAY!”

“ED!” Scooter Couple Woman screams. “ED!”

“What is he doing?” I say.

Ed scratches his chin and looks up.

“ED!” Scooter Couple Man waves his arm frantically, “GET THE HELL OFF THE ROAD!”

“What is he doing?” I cry again.

Ed reaches up. His arm extends into the sky. With his finger Ed begins tracing the letters.

JESUS LOVF

Ed is completely stuck at the F, unable to puzzle out just what that tricky Jesus has up his sleeve.

A half dozen members of Disney’s Secret Service, earpieces glued to their heads, leap from bushes and doors and swarm Ed.

Ensconced in the Disney rapture, Ed and his scooter, are blissfully lifted out of the way.

And the high school marching band from Cleveland, Texas barrels past.

Like pixie dust flung to the wind, the Disney heavies quickly transform back into street sweepers, pin traders, ice cream vendors and harried train conductors wiping perspiration from their brows.

And Ed rocks on.

We wander over to Tomorrowland, concocted by futurists in the late sixties back when I was born. They might be disappointed. Turns out, instead of everything being made out of sheet metal and rivets, the modern world is made entirely out of sheetrock and stucco.

And instead of using the People Mover, half of America has gone retro-cowboy. They ride scooters with enormous cup holders and just bang into everyone.

You want a better bet about Tomorrowland?

In 50 years, all 14 Disney princesses will be eating ice cream and riding mobility scooters down Main Street U.S.A. during the 2 p.m. parade.

And Jesus will still love you.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase Homes Sold in February 2014

Address

Sold
Price

Days on Market

Price Per Sq. Ft

Beds

Full Baths

Half Baths

Sq. Ft. Heated

Pool

10009 Bentley Way

230,000

10

158

3

2

1

1,452

N

9926 Bridgeton Dr.

252,000

37

160

3

2

0

1,577

Y

10022 New Parke Rd.

263,000

0

157

3

2

1

1,680

N

12111 Glencliff Cir.

284,900

3

156

2

2

0

1,831

Y

11822 Lancashire Dr.

325,000

85

172

3

2

0

1,888

Y

10440 Green Links Dr.

407,500

0

155

3

2

1

2,621

N

10109 Parley Dr.

450,000

74

164

4

2

1

2,752

N

10422 Greendale Dr.

562,000

6

165

4

3

0

3,402

Y

 Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker

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Diamonds & Denim Sparkles Again on April 5

To kick off Autism Awareness Month in April, Jacob’s Touch Foundation invites Westchase to its third annual fundraiser on April 5 at The Centre Club in Tampa.

Its theme is Diamonds & Denim and the foundation’s purpose is to raise money and awareness for the growing number of families in the Tampa Bay area who have children on the autistic spectrum.

Currently autism affects one in 88 children (one in 54 boys) and is considered the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United States. Yearly costs for basic therapies alone can exceed $30,000 per child.

The foundation is named in honor of Village Green resident Jacob Fine, who is on the autistic spectrum. When Jacob was diagnosed at the age of 2, his parents, Kimmie and Howard Fine, found themselves with little to no referral assistance or direction. It motivated them to establish Jacob’s Touch Foundation. The Fines understand the daily struggles of families with children on the spectrum and want to give back to others in the community. Kimmie stated, “Due to large financial costs and minimal insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorder therapies, there are many families in need in our area. With our main purpose of providing grants, we hope to raise $50,000 at this year’s event.”

Doing so, Fine added, will establish Jacob’s Touch Foundation as the local leader in helping Tampa Bay families with children on the autistic spectrum find the financial and referral assistance they need.

Through grassroots efforts and community based events, Jacob’s Touch has become known as an excellent local referral source for families in need. Since its inception two years ago, Jacob’s Touch has raised over $40,000 and has provided grants to eight deserving families of autistic children in the Tampa Bay area. To learn more about sponsorships or purchase tickets for the event, please visit http://www.jacobstouch.org

.

By Kimmie Cimino Fine

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GirlTalk Group Gears up for Spring Meetings

GirlTalk’s initial meetings of 2014 have been a huge success and they are preparing for more exciting events this spring.

The group’s March meeting featured a seminar presented by Dr. Dixon of Symmetry Chiropractic & Wellness and entitled, “How to Stay Young for the First 100 Years.”  During the seminar, the group learned that spinal disorder is the most common cause of functional disability. The average life span is increasing and Dr. Dixon offered advice on how to avoid and prevent spinal disorder to help maintain mobility in life’s later years. Dr. Dixon has given presentations to corporations such as AT&T, SunTrust Bank and the Lions Club. The GirlTalk group appreciates the time he took to speak with them.

The group’s next meeting will be held on April 9 at The Olive Tree in West Park Village Town Center. The ladies will have the chance to sample a variety of oils the store has on hand while also learning tips regarding the health and beauty benefits of various oils.

On May 14 Jen Bravo, owner of Jen Bravo Photography, will share the tips of her trade with the ladies of GirlTalk. We have all had those once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities that got away or the family photo session that went awry. Jen’s advice will have the ladies of GirlTalk shooting like the pros!

GirlTalk founder, Lori Shaw, continues to be amazed by the group’s growth. She is especially appreciative of the area businesses that have reached out and offered their services to the group. For those who are interested in finding out more about GirlTalk, contact Lori at loriella@tampabay.rr.com.

By Karen Ring

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Ping Pong Tournament April 6

Join us on April 6 from 1-4 p.m. at the Westchase Rec Center for Westchase’s first ever Ping Pong Tournament.  All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society for the 2014 Relay for Life event on May 17-18.  Registration begins at 1 p.m.  Bring your own paddle if you have one.  There is a suggested donation of $10 (registration fee).  Checks should be made payable to the American Cancer Society. 

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with friends, family, ping pong, snacks, music and prizes?  We would like to thank our sponsors, Kids R’ Kids, Geric Orthodontics, Craftology 101, and Bustamante Dentistry.  For more information please contact Emily Miller at 253-9389.

By Emily Miller

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Westchase Recreation Center Programs, April 2014

Adult

Zumba
Combine Latin, American and international music with a fun, effective workout.
When: Mon, Thu, 7-8 p.m. and Sat, 10-11 a.m.
Cost: $6/class

Westchase Fit Club
Burn calories and fat, get stronger, leaner and have a great time working out with your friends during this boot camp for all fitness levels. Combines cardio, strength and athletic drills. Drop the kids off at school and join us!
When: Tue, Thu, 8-8:45 a.m.
Cost: $5/class

Jazzercise
Combine elements of jazz dance, resistance training, flexibility and fun.
When: Mon-Sat, 8:20-9:20 a.m., 9:30-10:30 a.m., 10:40-11:40 a.m.; Mon-Thu, 5:30-6:30 p.m., 6:40-7:40 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

Badminton
Recreational play for adults to socialize, exercise and have fun!
When: Mon, 6-8:30 p.m.; Wed, 7-9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Open Gym Basketball
When: Mon, Tue, Thu, 8-9 p.m.; Fri, 7-9 p.m.; Sat, 8-10 a.m.

Senior Activities

Senior Tone and Stretch
Light weights, flexibility, and range of motion training with stretching
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9-9:45 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Pickleball
Pickleball is a racquet sport combining elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Wed, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Line Dancing
Seniors enjoy socializing and learning fun dancing techniques to their favorite country tunes.
When: Wed, 1-2 p.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Field Trips
Come join the fun! Sign-ups at the rec. center. Please call for more details.

Middle School/Teens

Volleyball
A character-based program teaching volleyball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

Open Gym
Come enjoy the gym! Coaches will be available to coordinate indoor games.
When: Fri, 5:30-7 p.m.
Cost: Free

Show on the Road
Learn the art of acting, play production, back stage and prop preparation while having fun.
Ages: Grades 9-12
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

Youth

REC2SIX
As after-school care, Rec2Six aims to raise a healthier generation of kids through physical activity and nutrition education. Call 964-2948 for registration details.
Ages: Grades K-5
When: Mon (Early Release), 1:15-6 p.m.; Tue-Fri, 2-6 p.m.
Cost: $38/week; reduced rates available

Camp Day Program
The perfect solution for teacher planning days, no-student days, and winter and spring break days. Visit http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org for available dates and registration.
Ages: Grades K-5
When: Non-student school days, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $7.60/day

Intramural Leagues: Basketball Registration Begins March 14
Learn basic skills of play during two practices and at least one game each week. Leagues offered: Flag Football, Cheerleading, Wiffleball, Basketball and Handball. See http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org for details.
Ages: 5-12
When: Varies by team; call for schedule.
Cost: $25 registration fee includes a T-shirt, award and award ceremony

Rookie Volleyball
Learn the fundamentals.
Ages: Grades 4-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

Show on the Road
Learn the art of acting, play production, back stage and prop preparation while having fun.
Ages: Grades 1-5
When: Mon, 2-3 p.m.; Tue, 5-6 p.m. and 6-7pm
Cost: $10/session

Martial Arts
Learn the fundamentals of self-defense. Improve listening skills, get better grades in school and throw awesome kicks and punches!
Ages: 4-6
Days: Mon, 6-6:45 p.m. (Ages 4-6); 6:45-7:30 p.m. (Ages 7 and up)
Cost: $10

Tiny Tot Activities

Creative Movement
Learn the fundamentals of dance movements using songs, props and instruments.
Ages: 2
When: Tue, Thu, 10-10:30 a.m.
Cost: $5

Preschool Dance
Learn fundamentals of tumbling with basic technique training.
Ages: 3-4
When: Tue, Thu, 9-9:30 a.m.
Cost: $5

Hip Hop/Tumbling
Learn a combination of dance moves.
Ages: 3/4
When: Tue, Thu, 10-10:30 a.m.
Cost: $5

Coming Soon To Westchase:

Senior Activities: Water Color Art, Walking Club, Gift Program, Additional Classes for Senior Powerlifting, Adult/Seniors: Yoga, Chess for Beginners and Advanced

Call center to be placed on the interest list.

All activities take place at:

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

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WCA Addresses Costco, Dog Parks and Aggressive Residents

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors met on March 6 to avoid conflicts with spring break.

Directors continued to discuss the proposed Costco development, heard updates about a proposed dog park and reappointed three residents as World of Westchase (WOW) Board members. 

Director Joe Odda, who has led a dog park task force committee since February 2013, reported that Hillsborough County has agreed to provide land next to the Upper Tampa Bay Library. The county has also budgeted $100,000 to build the dog park. Odda met with county officials to discuss the park further on March 17, after WOW deadline.

Directors Joaquin Arrillaga mentioned the successful food truck rally that was organized by a high school student several years ago. He said students often needed to complete service hours for school requirements but had a hard time finding projects to work on. All board members voted in favor of his motion that the WCA accept proposals from high school students to organize community events in coordination with the WCA.

Senior Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that staff has been doing inspections together for the past week and had distributed 953 violation letters. She said they still had four neighborhoods to drive through and hoped to be finished within the next couple of weeks.

WCA President Nancy Sells pointed out to the board that because the WCA employees have been giving out more violation notices to homeowners, they have encountered some very aggressive homeowners. Sells suggested that the WCA employees be allowed to drive inspections without the WCA magnet on the car. Directors ultimately agreed to grant staff the discretion over whether to use the car magnets.

Arrillaga pointed out that in the past residents have been aggressive and rude towards the lifeguards at the swimming pools. Swim and Tennis Center Operations Manager Kelly Shires said he had recently encountered very aggressive people on the tennis courts. All agreed that something needed to be done when people behave aggressively toward WCA staff. Arrillaga suggested they check with the association’s law firm to see what the current documents allowed and what the WCA could do. Board members agreed to do more research and come back with ideas at next month’s meeting. Sams told the WCA employees who were present to never hesitate to call 911 if they felt threatened.

The WCA has applied for a United States Tennis Association (USTA) grant to help defray costs for improvements and renovations to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center tennis courts. Sainz reported that they had received the final official application and once that was completed and submitted, the WCA would know within 30 days how much the USTA would be giving them.

Directors also approved the reappointment of Paul Jones, Jim Dixon, and Mary Griffin to the WOW Board.

WCA Directors also voted to renew the association’s insurance policy with the current company.

Director Ken Blair reported that he had received e-mails from a West Park Village apartment resident complaining about the noise level at one of West Park Village Town Center’s bars. While he acknowledged the apartments are not under the WCA’s jurisdiction, Blair said they wanted to make sure all residents of Westchase felt like they had a safe neighborhood. He suggested that the board send a letter to the establishment asking them to adhere to noise codes and resident requests. Pithers suggested that it might be better to send the letter to the property manager, which board members agreed to do.

Document Review Committee Chair Dale Sells reported that the WCA’s law firm was reviewing the final version of proposed changes to the Westchase Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and the Bylaws. The committee presented the documents to the voting members at their March 18 meeting after WOW deadline.

The next WCA Board meeting is scheduled for April 10 at the WCA Offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

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Public Notice of Kingsford and Berkeley Square Guideline Changes

The Westchase Voting Members (VMs) will consider requests to change neighborhood-specific guidelines for Kingsford and Berkeley Square at their April 8, 2014 meeting.

According to the current Kingsford mailbox guideline, all mailboxes within that neighborhood must be “white with a flag (no specific color for the flag required) mounted on a white wooden post; post shall have brass lettering for numbers and gold stripes be on the post.”

The proposed guideline amendment, if adopted by VMs, will change the mailbox requirement solely within Kingsford. If adopted, all Kingsford mailboxes would instead have to be black aluminum with black aluminum posts. The mailboxes would have to have a gold flag, vinyl gold numbering for the address on both sides of the mailbox and vinyl “W” logo on both sides of logo plaque at top of mailbox.

Berkeley is requesting to be allowed to use the following colors for the exterior of the homes. For body colors, they are selecting what was approved by their board in 2009 to be 6116, 6121, 6123, 6143, 6150, 6158; trim to be 7012, doors/shutters to be 6258; mail kiosk and trash compactor building 6121.

As required for neighborhood specific guideline changes, a majority of Kingsford homeowners have signed petitions endorsing the mailbox change and a majority of Berkeley Square’s board of directors has endorsed the paint color changes. Once thus approved, a neighborhood guideline must also win approval of two-third of the voting members (VMs) present in person or by written consent at a meeting called to consider the changes. VMs will consider the amendment at their April 8, 2014 meeting.

By Debbie Sainz

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Leopards’ Engage in Sensational Science

During the first semester, all of our Lowry Leopards put on their lab coats and tested out their hypotheses.

Lowry Elementary was abuzz with all the different theories that were being investigated. Whether it was what material makes the strongest bridge, how quickly sugar crystals form, or which kind of cup will keep your hot chocolate warm, the students were working together to document their methods and report their findings.

Kindergarten through second grade students completed projects as a class while third through fifth grade students completed group or individual projects. Classrooms submitted their top projects to compete at the school level, with the winners moving on to represent Lowry at the Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair.

The students were required to follow detailed guidelines set by the county. The ten steps included things like maintaining a scientific log and developing a question that could be measured. Then the research began! The children looked online, in magazines or books to start learning about their topics. Once they had some background knowledge, they developed a purpose and hypothesis prior to starting their experiments. The procedures then began with the appropriate materials, variables and directions. During this process the students collected the data and reported it on various tables, charts and graphs. In the end, they arrived at a conclusion and displayed all of the information collected on a science board.

The whole school took the challenge of in-depth and hands-on exploration using the scientific method. A select few were chosen to go onto the finals at the Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair. Third graders Maureen McGregor, Javon Gonzales, Mia Arterburn, and Nolan Potts determined which kind of cup insulated hot chocolate better. They earned the “Bronze Outstanding” medal at the fair. Third graders, Elle Toscani, Peyton Kassay, Bryson Delozier, and Kaitlyn Cofone watered plants with water, milk, cola, and orange juice to determine which made the plant grow better. This experiment earned them the “Silver Excellent” medal. Fourth grader, Anish Amin, studied whether adding scent to candles affected how long they burn, and for this won top honors with a “Gold Superior” medal. Fifth graders Jordan Dixon and Elizabeth Dhanaraj, as well as fourth grader Noah Berg, also presented at the STEM Fair and did an outstanding job! We are so proud of all our Leopards, who proved that hard work, focus and dedication can lead them to success.

By Angela Getty

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Troop 46 Is Ready for Spring

Spring has sprung and Troop 46 has kept busy.

Many of our Life Scouts have been steadily working towards their Eagle Scout rank and leading some great service projects. On Feb. 15-16 Alex Stein led a large group of Scouts in building a deck and wheelchair ramp at Odessa’s Quantum Leap Farm, which provides therapeutic horseback riding for injured veterans and disabled teens and adults. Many Scouts participated on both days and worked full-day shifts to help this inspiring organization.

Another fantastic project was organized by Ryan Romo at Odessa’s Lake Rodgers Park on March 1. Scouts hiked along the park’s 2.2-mile walking trail and replaced old, worn-out trail marker signs with new marker posts. This is a great park, and we are glad that our Troop was able to help support this community resource. By completing their service projects, Alex and Ryan are one step closer to earning their Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

Speaking of Eagle Scouts, Troop 46 wants to congratulate Steven Schoenfeld, who recently earned his Eagle Scout rank. Steven joins a long line of Troop 46 Boy Scouts who have earned this prestigious rank.

In March Troop 46 conducted its Order of the Arrow election. The Order of the Arrow was founded in 1915 and has 170,000 members across the nation. This organization, commonly known as Scouting’s honor society, recognizes Scouts who exemplify Scouting’s ideals. The Order of the Arrow servicemen are known for keeping up camping traditions and spirit and for their cheerful service when helping others. In order to be eligible Scouts must have camped 15 nights, including a summer camp, and be First Class rank or above. In the annual election Troop 46 selected 21 Scouts and five adult leaders to join the Order of the Arrow. Congratulations to all of these Scouts and adult leaders!

On March 21-23, Troop 46 camped at Fort DeSoto Park. This was our first full campout with their new cross-over Scouts (future sixth graders), who recently joined the Troop from various Cub Scout Packs. Everyone had a great, relaxing time at the wonderful park. Many Scouts earned their fishing merit badge and all enjoyed simply being out in nature, a large part of Scouting.

April will be busy month as the Troop will have a canoeing campout on the Weeki Wachee River April 11-13. We will also be having the Troop’s primary annual fund-raiser, a dueling car wash at the 7-Eleven stores in Westchase. We will be selling pre-paid car wash tickets and, of course, welcome anyone wishing to have their car washed in exchange for a donation.

To learn more about Souting, all visitors are welcome to attend our Troop meetings on Mondays at First Baptist Church of Citrus Park. For more information about Boy Scout Troop 46, please contact Scoutmaster Mark Ragusa at mragusa@gunster.com.

By Alex McMurray

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Westchase Crime and Accidents: February 2014

You can be sure that one will happen in Westchase at least every two and a half days.

No, we’re not talking about thefts from cars and open garages, Westchase’s most common yet most easily avoidable crimes.

We’re talking car accidents. In 2013 142 car accidents (reported to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department) occurred on Westchase roads. Most occurred at the community’s major intersections with Linebaugh Avenue: Sheldon Road, Montague Street, Gretna Green Drive and Countryway Boulevard.

Vehicular accidents are surprisingly common, with an average of 12 occurring each month in Westchase. You can enhance your family’s safety by observing speed limits, avoiding distractions like cell phone use and eating and respecting traffic signals. Don’t speed up to make lights, always wear seatbelts and, when turning, always look for walkers and runners before proceeding.

Burglary Residence/Forced

2/8

12400 Berkeley Square Dr.                                                               

Burglary Residence/No Force

2/3

10600 Rochester Wy.                                                                 

Crimes Against Person

2/16

10600 Ashtead Wood Ct.                                                                      

Drug Paraphernalia

2/17

10500 Montague St..                                                                   

Drugs/Narcotics

2/13

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.                                                                     

Drugs/Narcotics

2/17

10500 Montague St.                                                                            

Dui (Driving Under Influence)

2/20

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.                                                                   

Fraud-Other

2/25

12100 W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                          

Other Weapon Violations

2/16

10600 Ashtead Wood Ct.                                                                    

Petit Theft-All Other

2/24

10300 Green Links Dr.                                                                          

Petit Theft-All Other

2/28

10500 Montague St.                                                                            

Theft From a Vehicle

2/15

11900 Marblehead Dr.                                                                           

Throwing Deadly Missile

2/22

12400 Berkeley Square Dr.                                                                     

Trespass Misdemeanor

2/25

9800 Montague St.                                                                              

Warrant Out of County

2/21

12400 Berkeley Square Dr.                                                                     

Warrant Out of County

2/21

12400 Berkeley Square Dr.                                                                      

Traffic Accidents

2/6

Sheldon Rd/W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                        

Traffic Accidents

2/7

W. Linebaugh Ave./Montague St.                                                                       

Traffic Accidents

2/10

W. Linebaugh Ave./Montague St.                                                                       

Traffic Accidents

2/13

Countryway Blvd./Whitmarsh Ln.                                                                       

Traffic Accidents

2/14

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                        

Traffic Accidents

2/16

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.                                                                     

Traffic Accidents

2/21

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.                                                                     

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Spring Garage Sale is May 3

Westchase’s Spring Garage Sale is May 3 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

If you have any Big Ticket Items you wish to sell, be sure to e-mail our office manager, Charlotte, at officemanager.com by April 30 (See page 77 for all the details.) Traffic around Westchase will be very hectic, so please be patient and have fun shopping.

Over the last few weeks our office has performed a thorough inspection of all properties for compliance with the association’s deed restrictions and has found many in need of some TLC. Most of the items we’ve noticed are dirty roofs, homes, driveways and sidewalks; lawns in need of fertilizing and/or replacement; landscape beds needing mulch; and mailboxes in need of cleaning or painting. If you have not yet done so, please take a good look at your property’s exterior to see what work needs to be done.

Over the next few months, we will be installing new palm scanners beginning with West Park Village’s pool and courts. We will also begin construction at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center courts due to a grant that we’ve applied for with the USTA. A tennis cabana and multi-purpose courts will be installed, along with the new palm scanners. If you have not yet done so, please visit the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office or the Countryway Boulevard pool office to get your new palm scan in anticipation of the installation. A photo ID will be required. If you are a new renter, a lease copy and utility bill are also required for registration. Only those persons named on the lease will be given palm scan access.

As always, management staff is here to help Westchase residents with any questions or concerns. Please feel free to drop by our office located next to West Park Village pool at 10049 Parley Dr. or contact us at 926-6404 or via e-mail at manager@wcamanager.com.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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WOW Events Calendar, April 2014

Check out these free (or nearly free) events for April.

ART SPOT AT THE TAMPA MUSEUM OF ART
Date: Saturdays in April
Time: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Location: Tampa Museum of Art, Downtown
Price: Free drop-in program
For more information: http://tampamuseum.org/programs/children-families/
Ages: Children

Let your children explore their creativity by creating an art project in their Golding-Scher classroom. The art projects are self-guided, and the gallery-related monthly themes offer a different art activity each week.

ROCK THE PARK
Date: Thu, April 3
Time: 6:30-9 p.m.
Location: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Tampa
Price: Free
For more information: http://www.rocktheparktampa.com
Ages: All

Rock the Park is downtown Tampa's free monthly music concert series scheduled for the first Thursday of every month. Come out and support our local talent!

FIRST FRIDAYS CONCERT SERIES
Date: Fri, April 4
Time: 5-9 p.m.
Location: Westchase Town Center, from the fountain to Maloney's
Price: Free
For more information: http://wobusa.com/Locations/Westchase
Ages: All

Head to Westchase Town Center, where the street will be shut down from the fountain to Maloney's for a night filled with food, drinks, live music and activities for the whole family.

PING PONG TOURNAMENT
Date: Sun, April 6
Time: 1-4 p.m. (registration 1-1:30 p.m.)
Location: Westchase Recreation Center
Price: $10 donation (all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society)
For more information: 964-2948
Ages: All

What better way to spend your Sunday afternoon than with friends, family, ping pong, snacks, music and prizes?

SUMMER SPLASH
Date: Sat, April 6
Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Location: The Straz Center, Tampa
Price: Free admission
For more information: http://www.summersplashtampabay.com
Ages: All

This event is jam-packed with more than 75 summer camp booths, interactive games and activities, health and wellness resources, safety demos, live entertainment, a bounce house and information on all the summer camps going on in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. Plan your kids’ summer all in one day!

THE TEMPEST
Date: Select Days, April 9-17
Time: 8 p.m. (2 p.m. for Sun. show)
Location: Eckerd College Bininger Theatre, St. Petersburg
Price: $10 general admission
For more information: (800) 456-9009
Ages: Those of theatre-going age

Shakespeare's final play about an exiled magician, Prospero, who conjures a storm that shipwrecks enemies on a remote island, comes to life on stage.

SPRING PLANT FESTIVAL
Date: Sat, April 12, and Sun, April 13
Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (until 3 p.m., Sun.)
Location: USF Botanical Gardens, Tampa
Price: $5; kids under 12 and members free
For more information: http://gardens.usf.edu/
Ages: All

Approximately 70 vendors and plant clubs will be on hand. Find orchids, bougainvillea, carnivorous plants, African violets, tropical plants, garden accessories, decor, farming workshops and more.

NORTH TAMPA FRESH MARKET
Date: Sat, April 12
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Carrollwood Cultural Center
For more information: http://www.tampabaymarkets.com
Ages: All

Spend your Saturday morning shopping for fresh, local produce and handmade items provided by more than 50 vendors.

EGG HUNT
Date: Sun, April 13
Time: Egg hunts start at 2 p.m. and run every 30 min.
Price: $10 donation per child (all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society)
Location: Westchase Recreation Center
For more information: E-mail westchaseegghunt@live.com
Ages: All

There is something for the whole family at this annual event. Visit with the Easter Bunny, take part in games, cookie decorating, crafts and, of course, the egg hunt! Be sure to bring your own basket!

MAINSAIL ART FESTIVAL
Date: Sat, April 19, and Sun, April 20
Time: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun.
Location: Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg
Price: Free admission
For more information: http://www.mainsailart.org/
Ages: All

St. Petersburg’s premier cultural event draws more than 100,000 visitors from near and far to enjoy and purchase quality art and enjoy top name entertainment. There is something for everyone, including free activities for the kids.

CLEARWATER THRESHERS VS. DAYTONA CUBS
Date: Tue, April 22
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Bright House Field, Clearwater
Price: $1 per ticket
For more information: http://www.threshersbaseball.com
Ages: All

Come cheer on the Threshers as they take on the Daytona Cubs and enjoy $1 tickets, hot dogs, 12-ounce draft beers, 16-ounce soft drinks, popcorn, peanuts, ice cream sandwiches! Don't miss out on this incredible deal!

WOODS WALK
Date: Fri, April 25
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Brooker Creek Preserve, Tarpon Springs
Price: Free (registration required)
For more information: http://www.brookercreekpreserve.org/programs-classes.htm
Ages: All

Join a local natural resources agent for a hike along two miles of boardwalks and natural trails. Binoculars and camera recommended.

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Costco’s Development Plans and Traffic Impact Become Clearer

How much influence did the WCA have on the proposed Costco development slated for Westchase’s eastern entrance?

On March 6 M&M Realty of New Jersey filed for rezoning of a 32-acre parcel of land bounded by Linebaugh Avenue, Sheldon Road and Old Linebaugh Avenue. A look at its rezoning application helps answer that question.

The developer hopes to transform the parcel into commercial retail space featuring a 155,000 square foot Costco big box store, and five additional outparcels, including a Costco-related gas station, a pharmacy, a bank, a sit-down restaurant and a fast-food restaurant.

The announcement of the plans sparked concern back in November and triggered months-long negotiations between M&M Realty and a committee established by the Westchase Community Association (WCA). Chief among the association’s concerns was the traffic impact the development would have on Westchase’s already clogged intersections during rush hour.

The Planned Development (PD) request filed on March 6 with Hillsborough County – the first step in seeking the rezoning – finally offered the developer’s own traffic analysis for review. The rules the developer has submitted as binding the parcel – along with a WCA document released to WOW – also provide some insight into the level of compromise embraced by M&M Realty in working with the WCA.

Towards the end of 2013, a WCA Committee, informally called the Costco Committee, provided M&M Realty with a series of roughly 30 points they wanted incorporated into the development plan. The points included aesthetic, maintenance and use guidelines ranging from street lights and monument signs to opening hours and architectural designs.

Between November and December M&M Realty’s site plan shifted at the request of the WCA, which sought to preserve the retention pond at the southeast corner of Linebaugh Avenue and Sheldon Road. The developer moved a planned commercial outparcel on the corner to the interior of the development and expanded the retention pond. M&M also added a fountain to the area to enhance its appearance. Both additions are reflected in the PD and its site plan.

The WCA also requested an undulating, landscaped berm with a low brick wall along Sheldon Road to lessen the visual impact of the outparcels’ parking lots from that road. The WCA also requested entrance signs that mimic the look of Westchase’s entrance monuments, the incorporation of West Park Village-style street lights along pedestrian walkways in the development and the expansion of landscaping in the parking lot to improve the Costco parking lot’s appearance from Linebaugh Avenue. The PD incorporates the preferred entrance signs, the landscaped berm (albeit without the low brick wall) and walkway lights. While M&M’s artistic renderings show an expanded number of trees in the parking lot, that drawing is not part of the PD. The PD’s rules commit to emphasizing Cathedral oaks and using palm trees, but they do not specify the number of trees or their location. They do, however, commit the developer to plant trees with trunk diameters of at least three inches.

The WCA also pressed M&M to incorporate the use of brick extensively in the building’s exteriors. While the elevations of the Costco big box store provided to WOW show extensive use of brick, the PD simply incorporates artistic renderings of the building without identifying the building materials. Further, M&M stated that the outparcels had to conform to the leasing entities’ own architectural requirements. While they commit to making the principal facades of the outparcels facing arterial streets at least 30-35 percent brick or brick-like material, the PD’s language allows the outparcels to substitute glass or stone instead.

The WCA’s efforts, however, appear to have had more limited long-term success in areas of traffic control and alcohol sales. Seeking to ameliorate the development’s impact on at least the morning commute, the association sought a commitment from M&M that Costco or subsequent occupants of the big-box style building would not open before 10 a.m. on weekdays. The PD, however, simply commits that the big box parcel will not open between 7-9 a.m. during the initial term of Costco’s lease, which the developer’s attorney stated was 25 years. (Nationally, Costco opens at 10 a.m. currently.) Should Costco close in the development, should another entity occupy/sublease the space or should the space be subdivided into two or more spaces consisting of 100,000 square feet or less, the opening hours restriction would also no longer apply. Further, it would be waived if the Citrus Park Drive extension or other roadway improvements, outside of those related to the development, are completed.

Other than designating entrances and the lengthening and addition of some turning lanes, the plan’s only significant change to traffic flow near the site involves the intersection of Old Linebaugh Avenue and Linebaugh Avenue. Westbound traffic on Linebaugh will be able to turn into Old Linebaugh to access the development. A median currently prohibits such a turn. M&M’s traffic analysis holds that this change will reduce left hand turns from Linebaugh onto Sheldon by 50 percent. The intersection of Old Linebaugh and Sheldon may also have a traffic light, an idea the WCA’s 30-point document opposed.

The WCA’s points also called for alcohol restrictions including no nightclubs, bars or liquor stores and insisted that all of the restaurant outparcels have on-site food consumption sales constituting more than 50 percent of overall sales. The PD, however, allows a maximum of two package stores while restaurant outparcels would have to maintain bi-annual revenues of food and non-alcoholic beverages of at least 36 percent.

Other requests within the WCA’s 30 points do not appear in the PD. The association had requested that M&M Realty agree to rules banning the use of the parking lot for flea markets and tents selling such things as fireworks. They also requested M&M incorporate use rules guaranteeing the daily collection of shopping carts and the hiring of a local maintenance company. M&M, however, simply made verbal commitments at meetings that they would use their own maintenance staff and that Costco would collect carts before closure each day.

Further, the WCA requested that the developer agree to maintain, landscape and clean road medians adjacent to the property on Sheldon and Linebaugh Avenue in ways consistent with specifications of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD). The association also asked the developer to commit to using no signage, billboards or banners outside of the development’s brick entrance monuments. The PD, however, is silent on these issues.

The WCA’s points also stipulated a number of restrictions regarding entrances/exits from the development and the expansion and addition of turn lanes on Linebaugh and Sheldon. Costco Committee Chair Joaquin Arrillaga has stated, however, that the county, while it will entertain the association’s preferences, will have its own traffic engineers stipulate appropriate traffic control measures for the project.

As part of the PD, M&M Realty was required to hire an engineering firm to develop a traffic analysis detailing the project’s impact on nearby roads. Completed by Lincks & Associates, Inc., the traffic plan estimates the development would add 12,816 additional trips (half inbound to the development and half leaving it) each day. Of this total, just under 4,000 of the trips will represent spontaneous decisions of drivers already on the road to turn into the project. It therefore states it will only add 8,872 new trips to adjacent roads each day. According to the developer’s November estimates of traffic currently on Linebaugh and Sheldon (58,500 vehicles daily), the project will produce a 15 percent increase in daily traffic at that intersection.

Discussing rush hours, the analysis stated the development will add 512 trips in the peak morning hours and 1,213 trips in the peak afternoon hours, with roughly half being inbound and the other half outbound. The analysis also holds that 25 percent of the additional trips will consist of traffic on Linebaugh west of Sheldon, 20 percent on Linebaugh east of Sheldon, 30 percent on Sheldon south of Linebaugh and 25 percent Sheldon north of Linebaugh.

Click here for the entire traffic analysis.

The most recent Hillsborough County-made traffic counts for affected roads took place in 2010 or 2011. They showed daily traffic on Sheldon Road between Linebaugh and Citrus Park Dr. to be 36,000 daily with peak hour traffic at 1,702 vehicles per hour. They also had numbers for stretches of Linebaugh between Anderson Rd. and Sheldon and Linebaugh Avenue between Sheldon and Countryway, with the Sheldon/Linebaugh intersection dubbed a “link” between the two sections. Linebaugh between Anderson and Sheldon had a daily average of 35,000 vehicles with 2,400 in the peak hour while Linebaugh between Sheldon and Countryway had 35,000 with 1,800 during peak hours. If the southern portion of Sheldon below Linebaugh has the same number of vehicles as the northern portion (1,702), afternoon rush hour would see a 16 percent increase in traffic at the Sheldon/Linebaugh intersection.

The county designates roads with letter grades of A through F, with F being failed roads that are burdened with capacities beyond their designs. Based on these numbers, the portion of Sheldon between Linebaugh and Citrus Park Dirve has been given a D grade by the county prior to these additional traffic burdens. Linebaugh between Anderson and Sheldon currently has an F status; Linebaugh between Sheldon and Countryway currently has a C designation.

Those letter designations also do not include the impacts from upcoming developments on Sheldon Road between Linebaugh and Citrus Park Drive. These upcoming developments include roughly 200 townhomes slated for construction on the western side of Sheldon and 74 single family homes slated for construction on the eastern side.

According to Charles White, who works in traffic portion of planning and development for Hillsborough County, recent changes to state development laws under Governor Rick Scott have undermined Florida counties’ abilities to limit development based on traffic issues. At best, counties can levy fees on developers to offset costs of needed infrastructure improvements, but these fees often fall well below amounts needed for additional roadwork.

Other county officials have been quick to point out, however, that the parcel will eventually be developed and commercial properties different from those M&M Realty is proposing could generate even more traffic.

The WCA has not yet taken a position on the development. According to the developer’s attorney, the county’s rezoning hearing will be held in early June and a vote by Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners will be taken in early July. Residents who wish to weigh in on the project can do so by mailing Zoning Hearing Section, PO Box 1110, Tampa, FL 33601 or by e-mailing hearings@hillsboroughcounty.org. Residents should site the project’s number, PD 14-0460, in all correspondence.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

This story’s images were provided courtesy of Thomas Engineering Group.

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Spring Trend Spotlight: Floral Prints

We’ve all heard the classic saying April showers bring May flowers.

Well, I see no reason to wait until May to talk about florals! Floral prints are around for yet another season and so many fun ways exist to work them into your spring wardrobe. I have already picked up several key floral pieces…

Those of you who are old enough likely have fond (or maybe not-so-fond) memories of the bold floral prints that dominated the fashion world a couple of decades ago. We have seen various versions of florals pop in and out of popularity throughout the years since and 2014 is no exception. While floral print jean shorts might not be relevant today, plenty of other floral options abound. (I’m not the only one who rocked those, right?)

One of my favorite ways to wear florals this spring is in neon form. Neon pieces are especially fun when they’re tiny. Yep, I’m talking about kids’ clothes. Target has a super cute selection of neon florals for kids. I picked up a neon floral mixed-prints look that I can’t wait to put on my lil’ lady bean. Neon is probably easier for kids to wear, but that doesn’t mean we big kids can’t look just as fabulous in it.

If neon is a bit too bold a statement for you to rock outside the house, how about adding some neon pajamas to bedtime? I like to pick up new pajamas each time a new season rolls around.

That part of your wardrobe needs to be updated too or you’ll forever be sleeping in your honey’s college Ts. Not that I don’t sport my fair share of those too, but it doesn’t hurt to have options.

You can also choose a more subtle route and wear pretty, feminine floral prints featuring soft pinks. Remember that pastels are a big spring trend too! And a pastel pink works so well with a variety of palettes. It looks chic with black and fresh with white and brighter hues.

Mint is another pastel that looks lovely with floral prints. For instance a floral print jacket is the perfect partner for a little mint dress. It would make for a darling date night look. When the hubs and I head out for a dinner and movie night, I always end up freezing in the restaurant and movie theater. Why they turn down the air conditioner so much always boggles my mind. So, even when it’s a typical warm April day here in Tampa, I bring a jacket along for the ride.

So, are floral prints on your radar for spring, lovelies? Or have you been there, done that and don’t plan on doing it again?

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to give them an opportunity to bloom again!

By Kristin Swenson

Kristin Swenson loves fashion and is one half of the BonBon Rose Girls, Tampa’s hottest fashion, shopping and lifestyle blog at http://www.bonbonrosegirls.com<./p>

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Making Sense of Supplements

With so many products on the market, how does one choose the right dietary supplement?

It’s essential to understand that impure dietary supplements should be your number one concern when making purchases.

Adulterated supplements have the potential to cause serious injury. Take vitamin D, for example. Although cases of vitamin D poisoning are extremely rare, it is one of the few vitamins that have the potential for toxicity, particularly in dosages above 10,000 IU per day. 

In 2011 three published cases of vitamin D toxicity were documented in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. While one incident involved a prescription error, the other two involved manufacturing errors. One product labeled as containing 1,600 IU actually contained 186,400 IU per capsule. The other incident of toxicity occurred with a product was confirmed as containing a whopping 970,000 IU per serving.

Although prescription drugs pose a far greater risk, dietary supplements are not without risk. Recent data suggests that poorly formulated dietary supplements account for nearly 20 percent of liver injuries.

Web sites such as Amazon and eBay are no stranger to counterfeit products –  that includes dietary supplements.  According to a recent article published by Gary Collins, former special agent and forensic investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mega online retailers are unable to completely control the sale of sub-standard products.  Collins explains that besides counterfeiting, products may also be expired and repackaged as new.

Although the FDA has implemented measures that require a basic level of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), the challenges of large-scale enforcement and a lack of rigorous standards remain.

You can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of counterfeited or expired products by purchasing from suppliers that obtain their products directly from reputable manufacturers. How do you know if a manufacturer is reputable? Fortunately, there are third-party organizations with higher standards for purity and potency. These groups, whose sites can be found online, can offer some advice to consumers regarding recommended products. The following four are at the top of the pack:

• The Natural Product Association (NPA)
• NSF International
• U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) verification
• Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Consumer links to Web pages containing the names of manufacturers with third-party certifications can also be obtained by e-mailing me at christine@advancednutritionconcepts.com.

Dietary supplements have the ability to heal, help and protect. When in the hands of the wrong producer or seller, however, these phony pills can harm not just your pocketbook, but also your health.

By Christine Miller, RD, LD/N

A Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator, Christine Miller owns Advanced Nutrition Concepts at http://www.advancednutritionconcepts.com<./p>

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Non-Swimming Children: Keep ’Em Close or Lose Pool Privileges

With the summer right around the corner Westchase’s pools will become busier.

While our lifeguards have the responsibility for securing the pools in order to provide a safe environment for all, one of the major changes we are implementing pertains to parents. Due to the increase of non-swimming children being left on their own in the pools, we are implementing a new safety rule.

If we have to save your non-swimming child continually, you will be asked to leave the pool, an incident report will be filed, and you will stand to lose your use of the facilities for a predetermined amount of time.

If your child cannot swim, you must be within an arm’s length of your child at all times when using the pool.

I have seen a complete lack of responsibility from parents who are sitting 50 feet away and chatting on their phones with no concept of where their child is. These parents are putting their children's lives in jeopardy by not providing the basics of child supervision.

The Westchase pools are not a drop-off child care facility. We expect the parents to do the parenting. 

By Kelly Shires, Operations Manager

Shires is the WCA’s Operations Manager and can be reached at wcacenter@wcamanager.com.

Tennis News

In the game of tennis, players cannot win without a forehand, backhand, serve and volley. Yet for some reason tennis players regularly try to win matches without hitting proper strokes.

Strategy is a plan for winning and  stroke production is the tool used to carry out that plan. Before players even start to swing a racquet, it is extremely important that they know the movements related to efficient strokes. On Westchase’s tennis courts we have our students learning to combine body movement with racquet movement. We teach players a system of balance and a simple method by which they can use checkpoints to maneuver their bodies. The system of balance is the starting point for stroke production. Players freeze after the follow-through, which allows them to slow down the swing and evaluate their stroke.

The other part of stroke production is off-court preparation. I always recommend that my students shadow-swing at least two times every day. As important as quality training is, so is quantity.

The combination of on- and off-court training gives our players the tools they need to carry out their plans when we compete. Just like a handyman we have to know what tools we have and how to use them.

I tell my players that tennis is first a match against themselves. Get your stroke production in line, and the wins will follow.

By Roberto Calla, Westchase’s Tennis Pro

Calla, Westchase’s tennis pro, can be reached at callatennis@hotmail.com.

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WCA Considers New CCRs and Bylaws Amendments

In April Westchase Voting Member agreed to send a series of amendments to Westchase’s governing documents to homeowners for polling.

If all went as planned at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office and the printer, homeowners likely received those polls in late April. If you’re having a tough time figuring out what to do with them, read on. It’s very important that you participate in the process.

In recent months the WCA’s Documents Committee, chaired by Dale Sells of Harbor Links/The Estates and including Mike Clayton (The Greens), Dixie Mills (The Estates), WCA Director Keith Heinemann (Radcliffe) and George Estock (Harbor Links), has compiled possible changes to Westchase’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs), Bylaws and the Westchase Single Family Residential Guidelines (See page 22 for an article about proposed changes to the guidelines.)

The bylaws define the WCA’s governing bodies, their responsibilities and their powers. The CCRs, more commonly known as Westchase’s deed restrictions, further define these entities and spell out the architectural and use rules for Westchase homes. The guidelines represent additional rules for Westchase homes and yards; guidelines, however, can be changed more easily than CCRs.

To view a red-lined version of the bylaws and CCRs amendments, visit http://westchasewca.com and look for links under Latest News.

Changes to the bylaws and CCRs are handled a bit differently. Amendments to both documents require polling of all Westchase homeowners. In the subsequent vote, every VM must cast the ballots of those homeowners who returned their polls as the homeowners indicated on the completed referenda. Each VM, however, may cast the remainder of the votes of his/her neighborhood (the votes of homeowners who failed to respond to the poll) at his or her discretion. While amendments to the bylaws require the approval of at least 66 percent of Westchase homes as cast by VMs, the approval threshold for CCRs amendments is higher –  75 percent. You are therefore encouraged to return your completed homeowner poll by the indicated deadline.

Below are explanations of each proposed change to help you fill out your poll. Click here to review a red-lined version of the proposed CCRs amendments. Click here to review a red-lined version of the Bylaws amendments.

Proposed Bylaws Amendments

Open Meetings, Article III, Section 13: This rule currently mentions VMs’ right to attend WCA Board meetings and speak there while allowing the WCA president to limit their time to speak. Florida Statute 720.303(2)(b), however, dictates that any association member may attend HOA board meetings and speak to agenda items for a specified time period. This proposed CCR amendment simply updates Westchase documents to incorporate the provisions of state law. Because state law supersedes CCR rules, the change does not affect current practice, which allows members to attend and speak at WCA board meetings.

Deed Restriction Fine Enforcement, Article III, Section 20: Under current Westchase rules, the WCA may only place a lien against homes with unpaid HOA assessments; liens can eventually lead to the association’s foreclosure on those homes. No current power, however, is granted to the WCA to place liens against homes that have unpaid fines from violations of the CCRs or Guidelines. This amendment would allow the WCA to place liens – and potentially take foreclosure action – against members’ homes with unpaid fines for rules violations.

Rules Establishing Committees, Article V, Sections 2, 5 and 6: Under current rules Westchase Bylaws state that the WCA Board must appoint a Swim and Tennis Committee. The Bylaws, however, grant the board flexibility regarding the appointment of a Modifications Committee and Covenants Committee, which consider changes to Westchase homes and yards (Modifications Committee) and levy fines for rules violations (Covenants Committee). These proposed amendments would reverse the Bylaws’ wording to make the appointment of a Modifications Committee and Covenants Committee mandatory while making the Swim and Tennis Committee optional.

Proposed CCRs Amendments

Neighborhood Annual Meetings, Article III, Section 2: Until recently it has been practice of the association to require neighborhood meetings where VMs and Alternates are elected to reach a quorum of 30 percent of its owners in person or by proxy to conduct business. This proposed amendment places that requirement into the CCRs for the first time.

VM Terms and Selection, Article III, Section 3: Currently VMs serve terms of one year and are usually elected each January. Amendments to this section would fully empower the boards of subassociations in neighborhoods who have them to appoint their VMs and alternates, essentially reflecting current practice. More significantly, another amendment would change VMs’ terms in neighborhoods without subassociations from one to two years in length, with half of VMs seats being chosen each year. The Document Committee’s rationale for the change is that current neighborhood elections are poorly attended and the change would save the association postage costs to conduct elections. A final change to this section’s wording simply clarifies that only homeowners can run for VM or alternate. The current wording, which simply requires residency to run, conflicts with other rules which stipulate that VMs must be owners or spouses of owners.

Home Maintenance, Article IV, Section 2: Current rules allow the association to undertake home maintenance in emergency situations after giving owners reasonable notice to address the problems. An amendment would grant the association the immediate right to enter a property and resolve an emergency situation and then lien a home should the owner decline to pay its associated maintenance costs.

Assessments and Lien Rights: Article X, Sections1, 5 and 6: Part of proposed amendments to these sections simply switches the location of language related to assessment collections and liens. Current language in these sections, however, also subordinates and limits the association’s rights to collect unpaid assessments, attorney’s fees and lien costs on homes that have been sold. Thus, much of it goes uncollected at a home’s sale and are absorbed by other homeowners within the association. The amendments would remove the subordination of the WCA’s lien claims to mortgage holders like banks. By placing the association’s claim first, they will strengthen the association’s ability to collect unpaid assessments and fines for rules violations – and recoup legal costs associated with their collection – when a home is sold to a new owner.

Modification Committee, Article XI, Section 1(a): In keeping with a proposed change in the Bylaws, this proposed amendment would change the CCRs language so that the appointment of a Modifications Committee is mandatory rather than optional.

Variance Committee Powers, Article XI, Section 1(b): Under current rules, the Variance Committee can authorize variances to Modifications Committee rejections when circumstances specifically related to topography, natural obstructions, hardship or aesthetic or environmental conditions require them. This proposed amendment would expand the Variance Committee’s powers to consider rationales beyond these. The additional rationales, however, are not specified.

Maintenance/Self-Help Costs, Article XII, Section 6: This amendment would allow the association the power to consider any costs associated with undertaking a home’s maintenance as a special assessment on that home. This will enable the association to both place liens and potentially foreclose on homes whose owners refuse to pay such maintenance costs.

PODS/Storage Containers, Article XII, Section 14: Westchase documents are currently silent about PODs or other storage containers often used by homeowners that are moving or renovating homes. These proposed amendments stipulate they must be placed in driveways when possible and require their removal within seven days of drop off.

Tree Removal, Article XII, Section 16: Current Westchase rules for the removal of trees are rather restrictive. This amendment would allow greater latitude in tree removal to include trees that have become overgrown, trees causing structural damage and trees limiting the growth of landscaping other than grass.

Awnings, Article XII, Section 32: Current rules ban all awnings. This proposed amendment would ban fixed awnings but permit retractable awnings on the rear of homes. Their use would be constrained to daytime hours and other rules set forth in the Guidelines.

Guideline Changes, Article XII, Section 35: Current Westchase rules allow for Guideline changes that either apply Westchase-wide or apply to a specific neighborhood (or portion of West Park Village). Because of different interpretations of the word “neighborhood” (for example, is The Shires one neighborhood or a collection of three neighborhoods?), this proposed amendment replaces the word “neighborhood” with a phrase allowing Guidelines to apply to a smaller number of units than all of Westchase. This change is largely an outgrowth of a proposed roofing materials change that has affected the neighborhood of Harbor Links/The Estates. While they have often been treated as a single neighborhood, the areas were developed separately and each maintains individual guidelines. This wording change simply clarifies that Harbor Links may establish Guidelines that apply only to that portion of the gated neighborhood without requiring votes or changes within The Estates – and vice versa.

For questions about the proposed changes, please contact the association office at manager@westchasewca.com or 926-6404.

By Chris Barrett, WOW Publisher

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CDD Addresses Parks and Landscaping Contract Discussions

At their March 4 meeting Westchase CDD Supervisors addressed parks, possible uses of newly acquired piece of land and the status of their landscaping contract in the coming year.

The roughly 90-minute session began with CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart of Stantec addressing a recent audit of the district’s parks. Supervisors had requested the audit, completed by a third party, to gauge district park compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and other regulations.  While stating she was familiar with the parks and had purposefully not read the audit, she gave a brief history of ADA and concluded, “My gut impression is we are probably not compliant.”

Stewart stated many of the CDDs for which she works are facing similar challenges given 2010 changes to the law. Some, she said, have pulled out park equipment, some have brought existing park facilities into compliance and some have done nothing.

CDD Chair Mark Ragusa responded regarding the completed audit, “I think we need a second opinion.” Ragusa added, “I’d also like to see a plan with a cost perspective.” He explained, “I don’t think any supervisor is going to vote to remove the equipment.”

Supervisors concurred, with some questioning, given the age of most of Westchase’s playground equipment, whether it would be less expensive or financially more prudent simply to replace the existing equipment.

If that is the case, Ragusa observed, “This is going to be a major capital investment. I want to make sure we are relying on accurate data.”

He added, “We’re looking at hundreds of thousands for this.”

“Yes, sir,” Stewart concurred.

Stewart stated her company has completed compliance audits before and could work with a playground equipment installer both to make recommendations on required changes and provide cost estimates. Should supervisors elect to move forward, the cost of the projects, should they involve major replacements, would likely trigger a bid process and could also prompt supervisors to borrow funds in order to spread costs over a few years.

Stewart and Field Manager Doug Mays then addressed supervisors’ request last month for proposal for the possible use of district-owned land lying between Stonebridge and The Vineyards, which are both gated communities. While staff did not make a formal proposal regarding its possible uses, Stewart stated that any utility needs for the parcel would logically come from existing utility lines within the Stonebridge community. Mays added that if supervisors wanted to provide only pedestrian access to the parcel, it could be accomplished with a boardwalk running from Linebaugh Avenue along the bank of the large lake that lies between Westchase Elementary and The Vineyards. Mays stated at $100 per linear foot, the walkway would likely cost $125,000.

CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler, however, stated he preferred to have a concept for what the property could be used for before building the boardwalk.

Ragusa pointed out that if the district had to undertake a capital improvement project to bring park equipment into compliance, it represented a good opportunity to look at development of the parcel.

CDD Supervisor Ross encouraged staff to explore partnering with a group such as the Audubon Society or the Scouts to develop ideas.

“A community garden,” suggested CDD staff member Sonny Whyte.

Ragusa directed staff, “I’m looking for recommendations: What can we do with the land?”

Uses, however, may be limited because of accessibility issues. The parcel currently has no ungated, public road leading to it. Unless supervisors decided to open vehicular access to the parcel through a gated neighborhood, use options would have to focus exclusively on pedestrian access as there are no nearby parking facilities. To this end, CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney encouraged staff to develop a list of possible uses that would not require parking.

Stewart concluded her report by stating she would likely have bids for the repaving of roads in Stonebridge and The Greens at the April CDD meeting. The district owns and maintains most roads in gated communities as well as West Park Village alleys. Homeowners there are assessed separately for the work.

Field Supervisor Doug Mays then briefed supervisors on the status of the current landscaping contract with Mainscapes. That contract ends Oct. 31 of this year but can be extended at no price increase by both parties. Mays, however, stated Mainscapes has expressed reluctance to do so because of their unhappiness with the district’s independent reviewer, OLM, which regularly grades Mainscapes to determine its receipt of performance pay, representing 25 percent of their monthly payment. In recent months Mays and Supervisor Brian Ross have expressed concerns about the subjectivity of that grading process. Mays stated that Mainscapes staff members have said the company doesn’t plan to bid any communities that use OLM for inspections. Mays, however, acknowledged that OLM recently made a change to its Westchase inspector and Mainscapes appears happier.

Ragusa, however, was quick to point out that regardless of tensions between Mainscapes and OLM, Mainscapes has never failed a monthly inspection. He added that given the number of large communities that use OLM, Mainscapes’ insistence that they wouldn’t bid any of those communities rang hollow with him.

Supervisor Brian Ross added, “I don’t think we can make business decisions based upon a vendor’s unhappiness with OLM.”

Ultimately Ragusa asked Mays to check with OLM to determine the number of large communities they still manage and press Mainscapes, once again, about whether they had any interest in extending the contract for an additional year. Ragusa, however, offered one incentive. Should Mainscapes express an interest in a contract extension, Ragusa stated, given the company’s long and positive track record with the district, supervisors might be willing to lower the performance payment to 10 percent of the contract. 

When he asked Mendenhall to check with OLM if they would be open to that percentage for performance pay, Mendenhall observed that in his own community OLM performed inspections and advised the board but the contract with the landscaper did not withhold any payment based upon a failing grade.

That approach appealed to Ross, who rhetorically asked that if the approach worked for other communities, why it wouldn’t work for Westchase. Mendenhall added, however, he voted against the change within his community because he believed in the incentive’s effectiveness and reminded supervisors that, in the case of grades they felt were too subjective, they could always vote to make the performance payment anyway.

In other actions:

At the recommendation of Field Supervisor Doug Mays, supervisors approved a change order to their current landscaping contract with Mainscapes. The change, at a cost of roughly $400 per month, would extend current maintenance southward along the western side of Sheldon Road between the existing bus stop and Thomas Ranch Road and westward along the southern side of Linebaugh Avenue across from Pilot Bank. The areas are currently owned by the district but have not been part of the maintenance contract. Under the change order, Mainscapes crews will trim grass, cut back overgrowth and pick up trash.

Supervisors took no immediate action on a request from a Greens family to allow a play structure to continue to encroach six feet onto CDD-owned property. While the CDD has historically declined such requests, the family has already been instructed to both move and lower the structure by the Westchase Community Association (WCA). Observed CDD Attorney Erin McCormick, “It’s a moot issue for the CDD.”

Supervisors adjourned at 5:32 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase Aerial Mosquito Spraying on March 5

Hillsborough County Mosquito and Aquatic Weed Control will be treating the Westchase area on Wednesday, March 5, from 6:30 p.m.-midnight, by air with the pesticide Anvil 10+10 ULV to control adult mosquitoes. If weather or mechanical issues prevent this treatment Wednesday, the mission will be rescheduled for Thursday, March 6, from 6:30 p.m.-midnight. The mission will spray approximately 8,000 acres.

The boundaries of the area to be sprayed are:

North Boundary: north of Linebaugh Avenue
South Boundary: north of Tampa Road (State Route 584)
East Boundary: west of Henderson Road
West Boundary: Race Track Road

The spraying will be done by a Jet Ranger III Helicopter at an altitude of between 250 and 300 feet.

For more information on this spraying effort, contact Hillsborough County Information and Service Center at 635-5400.

For more information on the Mosquito Control Unit, tips to reduce mosquitoes, a video about the unit or to report a mosquito concern, visit the Mosquito Control Web page at http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/index.aspx?nid=604 .

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Play Ball!

Spring is in the air and for baseball fans that means one thing.

It’s time to break out the peanuts and Cracker Jack!

Vineyards resident and former major league baseball player, Marc Valdes, is certainly ready for the games to begin. Now a pitching coach for the Mets organization, Valdes continues a career in baseball even after stepping off the pitcher’s mound.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Valdes grew up in Tampa. As the older brother to twin boys, he was often watchful of what his brothers might attempt. “They always tried to gang up on me,” he recalled with a laugh.

Valdes attended Incarnation Catholic School and then went on to graduate from Jesuit High School. Baseball began for Valdes with T-ball in a Town N Country league. He loved the game from the start and played as often as he could. “I played every session during spring, fall and winter,” he explained.

It’s clear to him now the dedication his parents had to his development as well. “I see now how much time they put into it, too,” he said.

That dedication paid off as Valdes set out for University of Florida on a baseball scholarship. One college highlight for Valdes was the experience he had trying out for the 25-man Olympic team headed to Barcelona. “To play before the Olympic Committee was a great experience and I was glad for it,” he said.

Though he was among the last five players to be released, he lists this opportunity as one of his favorite baseball memories. His best game ever, he said, was during the College World Series when he pitched a complete shut out against Florida State in Omaha, Nebraska. “My parents and brothers were in the stands and that was really good for me,” he recalled.

Valdes left college to sign a professional contract with the Florida Marlins during his junior year. He was the 27th pick of the first round 1993 amateur draft. The transition from college baseball to pro was not what he thought it would be. “It was a shock to see guys just like me but better. When you finally get to the big leagues, it’s always an audition,” he explained.

After three years with the Marlins, the general manager of the team suggested he consider winter ball in Puerto Rico and he did. During his subsequent professional career, Valdes pitched for other major league teams, including the Montreal Expos, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. His last round of play was for three seasons from 2002 to 2004 with Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers and Chunichi Dragons. “That was great. I loved the people there. I loved the food. If I could go back, I would.”

His successful baseball career was not without injury. Pitching at speeds in the low nineties caused a tremendous amount of wear on his arm. During one particular game, he felt a pop in his elbow. Later, while pitching against the Blue Jays, he felt a tear. He ultimately needed surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament. This procedure is commonly known in the baseball world as Tommy John surgery. During the process, a tendon was taken from his wrist to be woven through holes drilled in his elbow to make the repair.

With this diagnosis, he knew he would lose one year of play. Fortunately, he was picked up by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. “They knew I wouldn’t pitch for another year but they were willing to rehab me,” he said of our hometown team. “I was excited to be able to get back home to Tampa.”

He spent time playing at the minor league level until his pitching performance was great once again. Before he could play in the major league for the Rays, however, he was traded to the Houston Astros, where he played in the majors right away.

After his time in Japan, Valdes took some time off from professional baseball. He went back to his roots and enjoyed coaching for Jesuit High School. When an opportunity to interview for the Mets organization as a pitching coach presented itself, he explained to his players his desire to pursue the chance. In January of 2007 he interviewed for the position. “Within a couple weeks I was told I’d be coaching for the minor league,” he said. “It’s incredible and I really enjoy teaching these young adults.”

Valdes coaches players in Mets organizations in Florida, Georgia, New York and Tennessee. His experience in the major league serves him and his players well. “I know if they believe in me, I’ll get success out of them,” he explained.

Off the field, Valdes enjoys spending time with his fiancée Erika and her children Nolan, 10, and Keaton, 7. If playing baseball is an interest to either of them, they certainly have a home field advantage!

By Lisa Stephens

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Westchase Easter Egg Hunt April 13

Mark your calendars! The bunny’s back in town!

Westchase students from Alonso High School and Davidsen Middle School came together last year to coordinate the third annual Westchase Easter Egg Hunt to benefit American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Together they raised over $3,000!

This year’s Easter Egg Hunt will take place on Sunday, April 13, from 1-4 p.m. at the Westchase Rec. Center. (Plenty of parking exists in the lot in front of Westchase Elementary School.) All children who are elementary school-aged and younger are welcome. Each child is asked to bring his or her own basket for the Easter Egg Hunt, which will take place starting at 2 p.m. and run every 30 minutes. There is a suggested $10 donation per child made payable to American Cancer Society.

Activities leading up to the egg hunt will include a bounce house, face painting, sack races, cookie decorating, games and much more. Food and beverages will also be sold.  You can even purchase your very own keepsake photo with our bunny.

Please check out our Facebook event: 4th Annual Westchase Egg Hunt and R.S.V.P. to the event for updates. All donations are tax deductible.

Come out with your family and participate in this Westchase tradition supporting the American Cancer Society. You don’t want to miss out, come join us and see what else we have in store. Residents with questions are invited to e-mail westchaseegghunt@live.com

We thank the staff at the Westchase Rec. Center for their help in making this event one to remember. 

By Noah Drake and Austin Urso

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Westchase Real Estate: The Numbers Will Get You Popping

With data collected and numbers crunched what’s the chief lesson of Westchase real estate sales in 2013?

It could be this: There’s a fine line between popping a champagne bottle cork and popping a Xanax.

On the one hand, Westchase real estate prices took a big jump, pulling a significant number of Westchase homes above water.

On the other hand, real estate prices took a big jump, prompting some whispers that perhaps irrational exuberance has returned.

Could our memories be that short?

Regardless, a look at 2013 sales in Westchase will get all homeowners – and home sellers – grinning. Westchase is a solid sellers’ market again. If you’ve been waiting to buy a home in Westchase in order to buy at the bottom, you’ve missed it.

Across the board, the six Realtors who responded to WOW’s questions about the Westchase market agreed.

“The seller’s market is strengthening,” said Wendy Ross of Florida Executive Realty.”

“You need to act quickly on a property you are interested in buying. The good ones go fast!” added Kitty Kaplan, a Realtor with Town Chase Properties.

What do the numbers say?

In 2013 alone average Westchase square foot prices jumped 10.6 percent, nearly mirroring the average home increase nationwide. Westchase homes rose from $135.86 to $150.28 per square foot.

This is quite a turnaround from just two years ago. The history of the state’s most recent real estate boom-bust cycle is well known. In the two years between 2004-2006, Westchase home prices rose nearly 40 percent, jumping from $133.31 per square foot to $185.60. Those who purchased homes in those years subsequently got walloped. When the bubble burst, Westchase home prices fell 31.4 percent before bottoming out in 2009 at $127.74 per square foot. The following two years, Westchase home prices flat-lined at values below 2003 averages.

In 2012, however, the buyers returned. They pushed Westchase home prices up 6.4 percent that year to $135.86 per square foot.

With 2013’s increase, Westchase home prices are now 18 percent higher than their bottom.

Here are the numbers in a nutshell: In 2013 the average Westchase home spent 50 days on the market before selling for $336,870. Westchase’s least expensive home last year, a 1,457 square foot home in The Enclave, featured three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. It went for $169,000. The priciest Westchase home, a 3,512 square foot home with four bedrooms, three baths and two half baths, was located on Emerald Links Drive in Harbor Links/The Estates. It sold for $700,000. (For those who include Tree Tops in Westchase, all twelve homes that sold in that neighborhood in 2013 sold for $775,000 or higher, with the top price being a cool $1.125 million.)

Yet the amount of time Westchase homes sat on the market varied widely. Of the 250 Westchase homes sold in 2013, 75 of them – or 30 percent – spent 10 or fewer days for sale before being snapped up.

Further, prices varied considerably from village to village. Outperforming the average 10.6 percent Westchase increase were homes in The Bridges, which rose 12.7 percent to $147.71 per square foot, and homes in The Fords, which rose 12.9 percent to $149.39 per square foot. Thus, a 1,900 square foot Bridges home, which would have cost $235,100 in 2011, sold for $280,700 last year. A 2,200 square foot Fords home, which sold for $286,000 in 2011, sold for 328,700 in 2013.

The Shires, meanwhile, saw explosive growth. After seeing no increase in prices in 2012 (when the rest of Westchase rose 6.4 percent), square foot prices in The Shires rose a blistering 23.5 percent to $152.55 per square foot in 2013. Shires homes now cost $8.02 more per square foot than Westchase’s other homes off Countryway Boulevard (not including Harbor Links/The Estates).

Underperforming the average Westchase increase were Westchase’s largest and priciest homes. Radcliffe, which saw eight sales in 2013, rose only 8.8 percent to $159.15 per square foot. Harbor Links/The Estates, which saw ten sales, rose 8.7 percent to $159.15 per square foot.

Seeing the smallest rise in prices were West Park Village’s single family homes (Village Green sales are grouped with The Greens). WOW’s real estate data looks at West Park’s single family homes separately from its townhomes and condominiums. A disproportionate percentage of the latter, originally sold at the height of the bubble, have subsequently appeared on the distressed market. Seventeen single family homes in West Park Village sold in 2013 at an average of $147.25 per square foot, a mere 2.9 percent increase over 2012. Curiously, single family homes in West Park Village are now selling at square-foot prices that are lower than homes in The Bridges and The Fords. If there is a current best buy opportunity in Westchase, it likely lies here.

What’s contributed to the rise?

In one word: inventory.

Kimmie Cimino Fine with Palermo Real Estate Professionals observed, “The inventory is currently the lowest I have seen since 2005.”

Anthony Malafronte of Coldwell Banker agreed, “Available home inventory in Westchase and across the greater Tampa Bay area is lower. Lower than at this time in 2013.”

With many originally distressed properties already pushed through the foreclosure and short sale pipeline and with an estimated 30 percent of Tampa Bay homeowners still sidelined from the market because they still owe more than their houses are worth, fewer homes are simply available for purchase. With supplies down, pressure has mounted on prices to rise.

Stated Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker, “Anecdotally, the number of foreclosures and short sales has tapered off in Tampa and across Florida. The banks are fighting harder to sell the properties at higher prices – with some efforts to improve properties prior to listing.” Wood added, “Short sales have become interesting in recent months as some banks have started to require that the properties are listed on auction sites, prior to approving the short sale.”

Further, the actual number of distressed properties in Westchase has fallen. Wood remarked of her Westchase experience, “We only had a couple of distressed property sales in 2013.”

Kimmie Cimino Fine with Palermo Real Estate Professionals added, “In my personal business it was down about 80 percent.”

Realtors’ experiences with fewer distressed property sales are borne out by the overall Westchase data. Back in 2011, 58 homes (26 percent of total sales) were sold as foreclosures or short sales. The year 2012 saw 40 (21 percent). Last year the number fell in half. Just 22 of Westchase’s 3,500 total homes saw distressed sales, 8.8 percent of the 250 homes sold. Villages with a single distressed property sold in 2013 included Woodbay, The Shires, Glenfield and The Vineyards. Two distressed homes each were sold in Bennington and The Bridges while The Fords, The Greens and The Enclave had three each. West Park Village had five distressed sales, clustered, as one might expect, among the condos and townhomes.

In further good news, the price of Westchase’s distressed homes rose 11.3 percent to $127.36 per square foot, placing less downward pressure on overall prices.

The shrinking inventory has created a situation not seen since the hot market of 2006. Noted Ross, “Multiple offer situations have become common again in the past two years.” She added, “Historically, sellers get on average 95 percent of their final asking price. That number has risen and we tend to see closer to 96-97 percent on average and sometimes higher.”

Kaplan agreed. “I had multiple offers on many properties during the past year. Much more so than the previous years in Westchase.”

Yet another factor is at play other than inventory and it may explain the above average performance of Westchase’s less expensive homes: investor activity. Most real estate experts cite one statistic as a reliable gauge of investor activity in a community – all cash sales. Of Westchase’s 250 sales in 2013, 63, or one-fourth, were all cash deals. Further, investors prefer rolling the dice with less expensive homes. Sixty-three percent of the all-cash purchases were homes of less than $305,000. Westchase’s mean sales price, however, was $337,000 while the median (marking the price where half of sales fell below and half of sales fell above) was $315,000. While not all Realtors accept cash sales as an accurate predictor of investor purchases, investors also buy homes with traditional mortgages. While reliable, specific data on investment activity is hard to come by, many Realtors in Tampa Bay and nationwide believe invester activity may be helping to pump up home values, producing higher square foot values than average, in some of the neighborhoods with smaller, more affordable homes.

With U.S. wage growth anemic yet Westchase home prices jumping 18 percent in just two years such continued rapid price appreciation is likely unsustainable. Given the investor activity, it even begs the question: Are we in a new bubble?

Of the six Westchase Realtors who responded to the question, two offered no answer. When asked, Wendy Ross of Florida Executive Realty responded, “No, the increase in value is steady and not over-inflated.”

Jason and Dyan Pithers of Coldwell Banker Residential also said no. “Credit is not easy to obtain; as a matter of fact, credit guidelines tightened again in early January.” They added, “Keep in mind that those buyers that are in the market again still have to show good income, meet current credit guidelines and have a minimum credit score.”

Anthony Malafronte of Coldwell Banker, however, argued the 2013 run-up represented evidence of a new bubble forming. “Large investment houses, purchasing homes to rent, bolstered the increase in home sales in the Tampa Bay area to a large degree in 2013. While this didn’t occur in Westchase as frequently as other areas, this dynamic is artificial to the standard ‘buyer occupied’ purchases of years past.”

Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker’s The Wood Team saw the 2013 market as two distinct ones, with a bubble appearing in the first part of the year. “It was moving in that direction over the summer but corrected by the end of 2013,” she stated. Wood cited bank limits as helping check hyper-inflation. “Prospective buyers with a short sale in their history must wait three years before they can qualify for a conventional loan to purchase a home.”

Looking into their crystal balls, five of the six Realtors responded that they saw Westchase home prices increasing in 2014 albeit at a slower, more tempered pace while the sixth offered no crystal ball prediction.

“Westchase home prices should continue to go up as long as your house has been updated and upgraded,” observed Kaplan.

Much of Realtors’ advice for preparing a Westchase home for sale echoed that observation. “Because Westchase is now 20 years old and the last homes were built over 10 years ago, I see the three most important things that my buyers look for are: updates/upgrades to the home, location/views and newer, large ticket items,” stated Cimino-Fine. Among these she included roofs, HVAC systems, pool pumps and heaters, countertops and appliances.”

“Westchase attracts busy professionals, typically those that are in the middle of career building, with limited time to deal with updating homes. They do not really even want to paint or change out carpet, if they can avoid it,” added Wood. “The buyer would prefer to finance the home with all of these improvements completed, rather than having to budget for future improvements after the purchase.”

One Realtor offered some tougher, less popular medicine, perhaps based on popular misconceptions. “I know it is a sensitive subject, but schools are a big determiner for buyers. While Westchase Elementary is a great school and has a terrific reputation, Davidsen and Alonso are perceived by buyers to be less so.” The Realtor observed, “The impact on Westchase re-sales, however, is apparent. I had six buyers this year (two who moved out of Westchase) who would not consider moving into Westchase with middle or high school age students.”

Overwhelmingly, however, the six Realtors were bullish on Westchase homes. So, even with the run-up, is owning a Westchase property a good move?

“Yes,” responded Ross emphatically. “Westchase is a unique, sought-after community with an incredible location in Tampa Bay. The stability of Westchase and its beauty continues to be a prudent investment for us all.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Cover Photo by James Broome Photography

WOW thanks Doug and Nancy Wood of The Wood Team of Coldwell Banker for their assistance in compiling all the real estate data for this article.

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Costco and Investment Properties

March appears to be roaring in like a lion with the proposed Costco development and Westchase investment properties as continuing topics of conversation and concern Westchase homeowners.

The residents of Westchase have been told there would be a presentation by the Costco developer, regarding such things as what the development will look like, what plans have been undertaken to alleviate traffic issues and what steps will ensure its ongoing maintenance. That presentation will take place once all the points being discussed by the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) Costco Committee and the developer have been agreed upon. The importance of providing accurate information to all the residents cannot be over emphasized. The date of the presentation will be noticed on the marquees, on the WCA Web site (http://www.westchasewca.com) and sent to the voting members for distribution to their neighborhoods.

A spate of e-mails from a concerned resident landed on the desks of the WCA board members and voting members in February regarding the perception of an increasing number of homes being purchased by investors and subsequently rented out. Specific points included that rentals equated to more poorly kept properties in general and that a large number of cash sales were an indicator of purchases by investment companies.

All board members, who are Westchase residents themselves and who care deeply about the community, heeded these concerns by engaging in some research of the statistics and giving direction to WCA staff on a number of items. The statistics related to 2013 cash sales of Westchase homes indicated the majority of homes are either owner occupied, flippers who intend to refurbish and sell and those who plan to retire in Westchase. Research also showed that the proportion of violators going before Covenants in the next few months is comparable to the percentage of owner occupied homes versus rental properties in Westchase overall.

The WCA staff is working on comparisons of WCA records to Hillsborough County records in an effort to have as accurate a picture as possible of rented units in Westchase. Any owner who rents their house must have a copy of a lease on file with the WCA office as required by the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs). This ensures that the annual assessment coupon is sent to the proper address, the renter has use of the swim and tennis facilities, and that deed restriction citations are sent to the appropriate entities.

Additional instruction to staff is to step up the enforcement of deed restrictions. Stronger enforcement of the deed restrictions ensures all properties are maintained to Westchase standards, which we all agreed to upon purchase of our homes. For a listing of what is allowed or not permitted can be found on the WCA Web site. You should first review Article XII in the CCRs plus the Residential Guidelines.

Finally, the Document Review Committee is working on proposed changes to the CCRs and Bylaws. They are to be reviewed at the March Voting Member meeting with the goal of having them sent out to all residents in April to be voted upon. When you see the mailing, please take the time to read and vote on the proposed changes. Final action will be taken at a future voting members meeting. Next on the agenda will be proposed changes to the Residential Guidelines.

Good or bad, it’s important to remember Westchase is a maturing community since we celebrated our 20th anniversary a couple of years ago. Keeping Westchase a well-kept community makes it all the more attractive to prospective buyers and to sellers trying to get top dollar for their home. Let’s all engage in taking extra steps in maintaining our property. It’s what keeps our community beautiful.

By Nancy Sells, WCA President

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Home: Its Price and Purpose

WOW’s annual look at Westchase real estate always proves exciting.

And this year proved no exception.

WOW interviewed a group of Realtors familiar with the Westchase market and poured over large amounts of 2013 sales data to help bring our cover feature. We thank all of them for their assistance, particularly Nancy and Doug Wood of Coldwell Banker, who provided the sales data for WOW’s review. We also thank all the real estate professionals and related businesses that helped bring you this special section.

The real estate sales data showed a solid upward surge in prices in 2013. We offer all the details beginning on page 4. The data, however, also piqued our interest in other ways. Combined with concerns residents of The Bridges and Keswick Forest have shared about the increasing number of single family homes that are now for rent – and the impact they are having on their neighborhoods’ appearances, WOW explored whether ways existed to estimate the number of investment homes currently in Westchase. While there’s no data that perfectly pinpoints a number, some data acquired from Hillsborough County may serve as a solid foundation for exploring the matter further.

WOW shared this data, which appears on page 8, with both the WCA Board and Westchase Voting Members in February. It triggered some rather strong reactions at the board level.

Some residents have pointed out that investor activity has helped home prices rebound and they want no further restrictions on their homes. Others have expressed concerns about the significant growth of for-profit investment properties in Westchase, some of which put owner profit before community appearance. Others worry that the phenomenon is fraying Westchase’s traditionally strong social fabric, producing a community with more transient residents less willing to join neighborhood watches or even block parties.

While the data may estimate the number of leased homes in some neighborhoods better than others, WOW hopes it will serve as a starting point for discussion.

Our nation and our community are changing. This issue of WOW – and the conversations it may spark – represent an opportunity to pause and think about our hopes and aspirations for our community and the future role of your association. If you feel strongly one way or the other, reach out and let your VM know. Westchase is your home and your community and you can help shape them both for the better.

As always, we welcome your letters, shout outs and story ideas. To help keep WOW strong, please remember to tell our valued advertisers who saw them here.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Ravens Still Going the Distance

The Alonso Competition Cheerleading Team had an incredible season!

The Alonso cheerleaders were led by new coaches, Karrie Hawkins, with 11 years’ experience coaching and coordinating the Westchase Colts, and Marcus Knight, with years of experience cheering and coaching for USF, high schools and Tumble Tech All-Stars. The girls placed in the top three in all four county competitions, fourth place in Western Conference and third place in regionals. These competitions led up to the state competition at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. Alonso's division consisted of 16 teams and the top four advanced to finals. Finishing second in the first round, Alonso advanced with an almost flawless performance. After competing again, the girls ended up second overall – a first in Alonso history! The girls worked extremely hard to make this happen. The team thanks the Alonso administration for its support and congratulates everyone for making it happen. They are looking forward to a great season next year!

The Ravens girls cross country runners made team history in February when they were honored with the Hillsborough County Fall Sports Cross Country GPA trophy for the highest academic performance among cross country teams in the county. The Alonso girls’ stunning 3.79 team GPA was the highest among all fall sports teams in 2013. The Ravens weren't done there, however. Alonso's first place finish stopped a run of five consecutive wins for the Plant girls cross country team. The trophy was presented by the school board last month. Congratulations, Ravens!

The Alonso Booster Club will be sending out the scholarship forms the first part of April. Be sure to submit yours by the May deadline. We are also seeking new parents for the 2014-15 board. If you are interested in being a part of the booster club, please contact Tracy Urso at turso@tampabay.rr.com for more information.

Alonso PTSA is still selling the Raven’s Legacy Painted Heads. The PTSA’s next meeting will be held on March 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Media Center.

Go, Ravens!

Important March Dates:

1 Baseball/Softball vs. Middleton
3 Booster Club Meeting
4 Boys Tennis vs. Wharton
5 Boys/Girls Lacrosse vs. Plant
6 Baseball/Softball vs. Sickles
6 Boys Tennis vs. Newsome
7 Flag Football Pre Season Classic
16 PTSA Meeting
18 Girls Tennis vs. Plant
20 Boys Tennis vs. Jefferson
24 Boys Tennis vs. Bloomingdale
24 Flag Football vs. Chamberlain
26 Boys/Girls Lacrosse vs. Steinbrenner
27 Boys Tennis vs. Gaither

By Tracy Urso

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WOW Events Calendar, March 2014

Check out these free (or nearly free) events for March.

GASPARILLA FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
Date: Sat, March 1, and Sun, March 2
Time: Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Tampa
Price: Free admission
For more information: http://gasparillaarts.com
Ages: All

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts showcases 300 of the world’s most talented artists, transforming the already lovely grounds of Curtis Hixon Park into an outdoor museum. There is a children’s area where kids become artists for the day. This event is a delightful, culture-rich day that is fun for the whole family.

DUNEDIN MARDI GRAS
Date: Tue, March 4
Time: 4-11 p.m.
Location: Pioneer Park, Downtown Dunedin
Price: Free admission
For more information: http://www.dunedinmardigras.com
Ages: All

For this family event music begins in the beautiful Pioneer Park pavilion at 5 p.m. and continues until the parade begins. After the parade, featuring over 50 unique and colorful floats, the party continues at the park until 11 p.m.

ORANGETHEORY FITNESS WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE AWARD CEREMONY
Date: Wed, March 5
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Price: Free hors d’oeuvres; food and drink additional
Location: Irish 31, West Park Village
For more information: (813) 852-8009


The winners of the OTF national and local weight loss challenge will be announced and prizes will be presented to the local winners. Irish 31 will provide free hors d’oeuvres and food and drink specials. Also ask about the free Run Club on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. at Irish 31.

FIRST FRIDAYS CONCERT SERIES
Date: Fri, March 7
Time: 5-9 p.m.
Location: Westchase Town Center, from the fountain to Maloney's
Price: Free
For more information: http://wobusa.com/Locations/Westchase
Ages: All

Head to Westchase Town Center, where the street will be shut down from the fountain to Maloney's for a night filled with food, drinks, live music and activities for the whole family.

NORTH TAMPA FRESH MARKET
Date: Sat, March 8
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Carrollwood Cultural Center
For more information: http://www.tampabaymarkets.com
Ages: All

Spend your Saturday morning shopping for fresh, local produce and handmade items provided by more than 50 vendors.

SAFETY HARBOR SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
Date: Fri, March 7 and Sat, March 8
Time: Fri., 5-10 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Safety Harbor Marina
For more information: http://www.cityofsafetyharbor.com
Ages: All

Come to the beautiful Safety Harbor Marina and enjoy all your favorite types of seafood while listening to live entertainment. Bring the whole family out for arts and crafts. There will also be a family area with games and activities for the kids.

DALI FAMILY EVENT: UNCLE ANDY’S NEPHEW
Date: Sat, March 8
Time: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Price: $5; free for museum members and kids under 5
Location: Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
For more information: http://thedali.org/home.php
Ages: All

Get to know the real Warhol in this all-ages talk with James Warhola, a children's author and illustrator, science fiction artist – and Andy Warhol's nephew. After his talk, he will sign copies of his books (available for purchase). Light refreshments included. Families with younger children are welcome to join us for a short reading at 1:30 p.m.

MOVIE IN THE PARK
Date: Fri, March 14
Time: Dusk
Price: Free
Location: West Park Village Town Center Green, Montague St.
For more information: http://westchasewca.com
Ages: All

Westchase’s free family movies in the park continue. Movies begin at dusk. Bring chairs and blankets and settle in for a great movie night. This month’s movie is Despicable Me.

ARTS IN THE PARK
Date: Sat, March 15, and Sun, March 16
Time: Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Carrollwood Cultural Center, Tampa
For more information: http://www.carrollwoodcenter.org
Ages: All

This two-day outdoor art festival features live entertainment and fine-art exhibits across all media by local artists. Activities for children are also available and guests may tour the building, view art in the gallery and purchase books from our annual Sidewalk Book Sale.

ROUGH RIDERS ST. PATRICK’S NIGHT PARADE
Date: Sat, March 15
Time: 8 p.m.
Price: Free
Location: Downtown Ybor City
For more information: http://www.tampa-roughriders.org
Ages: All

Krewes from across Florida celebrate St. Patrick's Day with beads, floats and more.

CHALK ART FESTIVAL
Date: Sat, March 22, and Sun, March 23
Time: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (until 4 p.m., Sun.)
Price: Free
Location: Main Street, Safety Harbor
For more information: http://www.cityofsafetyharbor.com
Ages: All

Chalk artists from all over the world will adorn the streets and sidewalks of downtown Safety Harbor with chalk drawings. Come see the artists create their pieces from start to finish while enjoying live entertainment and all the shops and restaurants on Main Street.

FLORIDA’S FABULOUS BATS
Date: Wed, March 26
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Price: Free
Location: Dunedin Community Center
For more information: (727) 812-4530
Ages: All

Florida is home to 13 species of bats that are year-round and seasonal residents. Learn about them and the roll they play in the health of our natural ecosystems.

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Real Estate Round Up, Jan. 2013

Address

Sold
Price

Days on Market

Price Per Sq. Ft

Beds

Full Baths

Half Baths

Sq. Ft. Heated

Pool

9824 Bridgeton Dr.

230,000

66

148

2

2

0

1,552

N

9918 Hartwell Bridge Circle

295,000

56

170

3

2

0

1,732

Y

10020 Bentley Way

295,000

2

176

3

2

1

1,680

N

9913 Hartwell Bridge Circle

333,000

32

140

4

2

1

2,380

N

9405 Greenpointe Dr.

358,000

26

162

4

2

1

2,214

N

10005 Brompton Dr.

395,000

40

165

3

2

0

2,399

N

11941 Wandsworth Dr.

420,000

60

166

4

3

0

2,526

Y

 Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker

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Davidsen’s Medieval Fair is Finally Here!

The event that every Davidsen Dragon has been eagerly awaiting all year long is finally just days away.

That’s right! It’s time for The Medieval Fair, which will be held on Friday, March 7. This annual event is always a fun time for students, teachers and volunteers. Speaking of volunteers, it’s not too late to sign up to help out with the day’s events, the set up or the take down. Every minute spared is appreciated. Please contact Elaine Ragan at elaineragan@gmail.com for more information.

The Dragons had another successful grading period, with 201 students achieving principal honor roll status for the second quarter. Congratulations and keep up the good work! Conference night also went well and the PTSA thanks The Olive Garden for donating their delicious breadsticks and salad that evening.

There is much exciting news coming from Davidsen’s music department! Davidsen’s Jazz Band earned straight superiors at the MPA (music performance assessment) held at the Florida State Fair. While the jazz band has earned a superior before, and the concert band has earned several superiors as well as straight superiors, this rating is extremely hard to get and very rare, especially at Jazz MPA. “It's the first time our jazz band has earned that rating!” said Davidsen’s Band Director, Kassandra Cochran.

Trombone player, Jonathan Baron, also achieved a rare feat, becoming the first Dragon to make the auditioned all-state band! In addition, six students made all-county: Jonathan Baron (trombone), Drew Garcia (trumpet), Robson Galvao (flute), Katie Morello (flute), Diego Rodriguez (tuba) and Amber Farve (euphonium).

On the Orchestra front, eighth grader Amanda Sherwood was a member of the 2014 All-State Honors Orchestra in January. In addition, Orchestra Director Andrew Guarrine said the group is working on its MPA music, which will be performed at Armwood in late March.

Congratulations to all our talented musicians!

The next general PTSA meeting will take place on March 20 at 6:30 p.m., when the nominating committee will be selected. It’s that time of year when the committee will begin looking to fill PTSA board positions that will be vacant come the end of the year. For those that are interested in taking on a board position, please contact Paula Cannella at pcannella@cannellainsurance.com.

Keep tabs on all the exciting events in store for the rest of the year by visiting the Davidsen PTSA Web site, http://www.davidsenptsa.org or by, liking them on Facebook. It has been a great year so far and we are looking forward to all that is yet to come.

By Karen Ring

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Wizards Wade into FCAT

While February brought wonderful treats in celebration of Valentine’s Day, the month brought the return of another tradition.

FCAT testing has returned to Westchase Elementary!

Standardized testing began on Feb. 25-26 and will continue into April and May, with the times varying according to grade level. Students will be sent home with information regarding the test dates and how to best prepare for it. Westchase has a closed campus policy during testing in order to provide the best possible environment for concentration. This means that volunteers and visitors are not able visit the school on the days designated for testing.

There are changes happening to the standardized tests that our students are required to take. Changes always bring up questions. A great resource for the answers you seek is http://www.commoncoreconversation.com There. will also be a presentation for parents on March 5 at 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room to discuss standardized test strategies and Common Core standards. The presentation will include many useful tips that you can begin implementing now to prepare your child Our students are our future and we all want that future to be as bright as possible!

By Jennifer Arnold

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Sheldon Subdivision to Add 74 Homes

A new subdivision on Sheldon Road received approval at the March 11 Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioner’s (BOCC) meeting.

The BOCC voted unanimously to approve a request submitted by the home builder corporation Taylor Morrison to rezone a 22-acre currently vacant site from agriculture use to single family home.

Taylor Morrison’s vice president for sales and marketing, Cammie Longenecker said the company is proposing to build 74 single-family homes in the new community. “The houses would start at 2,000 square feet and go up in square footage from there. We do not have any estimates for home prices at this point.”

Longenecker said the community may also include a tot lot and a pet park for residents’ use.

The property is located on the east side of Sheldon Road just south of Citrus Park Drive between Gonzales Lake Drive and Citrus Falls apartments. The property includes nine acres of wetlands. Taylor Morrison says the homes will be built on the northern portion of the property to protect the wetlands.

According to Colleen Marshall with Hillsborough County Development Services, the proposed rezoning would result in an increase of morning peak-hour traffic by 207 trips and an increase in evening peak-hour traffic by 251 trips on Sheldon Road. The county will determine any operational or safety improvements needed for the surrounding roads during its final site plan review.

Children living in the new neighborhood would be zoned for Westchase Elementary School, Smith Middle School and Sickles High School. County officials determined all schools had room for more students.

Taylor Morrison has many developments in Florida including the Old Memorial community off Mobley Road and adjacent to the Old Memorial Golf Club.

By Marcy Sanford

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Assess Your Real State of Fitness

People often obsess over weight, yet it’s just one fitness indicator.

Fitness assessments offer benchmarks that enable you set realistic, measureable goals. Last month the winner of the popular television show, The Biggest Loser, was announced. The winner, who won a lot of money, lost a great deal of weight. She lost so much weight that she was underweight and had no muscle tone. She was unhealthy and faced a greater risk of various health challenges.

BMI or Body Mass Index is another popular indicator. It classifies individuals in four categories: underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese. BMI can be misleading because it is derived by comparing a person’s weight and height. If you are bigger boned, and/or have a larger muscle mass, the number could be off. Although by itself it can be misleading, when put together with other indicators, BMI can be useful.

A circumference measurement, known as the waist-to-hip ratio, also gives meaningful insight. The circumference of the waist is divided by the circumference of the hips. For women this number should be around 80 percent or lower. For men a WHR greater than 95 percent represents greater risk for many degenerative diseases. Central body weight has been linked to predisposal to diabetes, many cancers, heart disease and other degenerative diseases.

Resting heart rate and cardiorespiratory assessments can be done using heart rate monitors and a fitness test. By understanding your resting heart rate, and having an exertion indicator, you have a benchmark to improve cardiovascular fitness.

Another interesting assessment can quickly and easily identify muscle imbalances that can increase your risk of injury. Observing your posture and alignment while performing squats with your arms raised overhead can offer great feedback. Your feet turning out, your knees turning inward, your lower back arching, and your shoulders falling forward can all indicate muscles that may be overactive or underactive.

For example, if the lower back arches excessively when performing the squat, tight overactive hip flexors and weak underactive gluteus and abdominals may be the culprits.

Qualified trainers can easily assist you when making assessments and help you to set attainable goals. This way, when developing your personalized plan of action, you are equipped with more information than just the number on the scale.

By Shannon Thigpen

Shannon 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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Meet Stormy and Rainy!

Stormy and Rainy are two very beautiful and sweet brothers. They, along with another brother, Windy, and sister, Chewy, are very grateful kitties rescued from a midnight downpour almost two years ago. It was impossible to break up such a special family and they were soon running the house (although they kindly agreed to let their humans think they are in charge). If you visit, treats are always welcome.

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Stockbridge’s Ed Siler Recognized as Volunteer of the Year

Stockbridge’s new VM isn’t just a Westchase volunteer. His generous spirit was recently recognized outside the community.

Ed Siler, a resident of Stockbridge, was recently named Volunteer of the Year by the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented on Jan. 31 at the South Tampa Business of the Year Gala, Quorum Hotel in Westshore.

Having moved into Stockbridge in August of 2012 with his wife Jennifer, it didn’t take long for Ed to become involved in his neighborhood. With Stockbridge’s former VM, Joe Odda, stepping down from his village position and taking a seat on the Westchase Community Association Board of Directors in January, Ed stepped forward to run as Stockbridge’s new VM.

Siler, however, is no stranger to volunteer work. Ed was selected from among the chamber’s more than 125 volunteers. The chamber award recognized Ed’s work as 2014 Chairman of the Education Committee, his membership on the Ambassador Committee, and his volunteer hours as a member of the chamber’s Fall Golf Classic, New Teacher’s Welcome Breakfast, Breakfast with the Mayor and Great American Teach-In task forces. In addition, Ed is one of the presenters for Chamber 101 and Chamber 201.

Announcing the award, Chamber representative Judy Gay remarked, “When choosing the Volunteer of the Year we looked for spirit and dedication, hours of service and an enthusiastic heart… And a big smile!”

Kelly Flannery, Director of Events and Membership for the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, remarked, “If I could have 100 volunteers like Ed, I would.” She added, “His focus is never on himself. It’s always on the organization and the people he’s helping.”

Siler responded, “I’m very grateful for the recognition by the South Tampa Chamber of all the volunteerism and hard work I did throughout 2013.”

Siler is an Enrollment Coordinator for Troy University – Tampa Bay Site, a satellite campus of Troy University, Alabama.

Congratulations to Ed on his deserved recognition!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Public Notice of Kingsford Mailbox Guideline Change

The Westchase Voting Members (VMs) will consider a request to change the neighborhood-specific guidelines for Kingsford at their March 11, 2014 meeting. According to the current Kingsford mailbox guideline, all mailboxes within that neighborhood must be “white with a flag (no specific color for the flag required) mounted on a white wooden post; post shall have brass lettering for numbers and gold stripes be on the post.”

The proposed guideline amendment, if adopted by VMs, will change the mailbox requirement solely within Kingsford. If adopted, all Kingsford mailboxes would instead have to be black aluminum with black aluminum posts. The mailboxes would have to have a gold flag, vinyl gold numbering for the address on both sides of the mailbox and vinyl “W” logo on both sides of logo plaque at top of mailbox.

As required for neighborhood specific guideline changes, a majority of Kingsford homeowners have signed a petition endorsing the change. Once approved in a neighborhood by a majority of its homeowners, a neighborhood guideline must also win approval of voting members (VMs) representing at least 66 percent of all Westchase homes. Their vote must occur at a meeting called to consider the changes. VMs will consider the amendment at their March 11, 2014 meeting.

By Debbie Sainz

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Swim & Tennis Committee Looks for Additional Volunteer

If you are looking for an enjoyable volunteer activity and have an interest in Westchase’s programs, a fun opportunity awaits you.

The Westchase Swim & Tennis Committee meets quarterly on the third Thursday of each quarter at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center 6-7 p.m.  The committee’s next meeting is March 20.

The committee’s mission statement calls on the committee to “be the liaison and voice between the residents and the board of directors to provide Westchase community residents with quality swim and tennis center programs and activities, ensuring user satisfaction in an advisory capacity.”

Some of the committee members represent interests related to programs in which they or family members are involved, such as Westchase’s tennis and swim teams. Our current opening is slated to be filled by a resident who is not currently involved with swim or tennis programs but who has a general interest in programs offered at the swim and tennis centers.

Residents are also invited to come and share their ideas and concerns relating to the swim and tennis programs in our community.

The committee is made up of the following members:

Kyle Roberts – Chair (Tennis)
Brenda Bennett – Vice Chair, Secretary (Swim)
Jean Strasen – (Swim)
Mary Frances Turnbull – (Tennis)
Kelly Shires – WCA Facilities Manager
Open (Neutral Position)

Please consider rounding out our committee and helping to shape the future of Westchase programs. For more information contact the WCA office at manager@westchasewca.com or call 926-6404.

By Kyle Roberts

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Derby and Camping for Pack 46

Cub Scout Pack 46 had a great Pinewood Derby this year!

Congratulations to the Scouts on their creative and fast cars. Carter Ford’s creativity shone through with a U.S. Marine Corps-decorated car in tribute to his great-grandfather, Howard Reese. Christopher Nordwall was the overall winner for top speed with his car, Speedster, which was clocked at 205 miles per hour. The Pack thanks all of the volunteers and parents that made it successful.

Pack 46 also enjoyed its final campout of the year at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Families joined their Scouts for a weekend of tent camping, swimming, fishing and movies under the stars. Over the weekend Scouts worked on fire safety and Leave No Trace principles, which remind us to respect the rights of other users of the outdoors as well as future generations. And, of course, there was lots of time for playing in the woods with air potatoes!

General information and our calendar are available at http://www.pack46.com If yo.u would like more details about the Pack, please contact us at cubscouts46@gmail.com.

By Tracy Christensen

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Westchase’s GirlTalk Group Continues to Grow

While GirlTalk’s January meeting was all about finding inner peace through meditation, February found the ladies switching the focus to outer beauty.

The group was treated to a fabulous night of complimentary hair and make-up consultations hosted by The Salon & Spa at Mystic Hair. Topics included finding the right cut and color for your face shape, choosing the right skincare for your skin type and carrying your day look over into evening. GirlTalk members Kristina Brendzel, Marilyn McKinley and Candace Eitler were even treated to makeovers while the stylists shared tips with the group on how to recreate the looks at home.

“I learned some great tips at this night of beauty. Thanks so much to Mystic Spa for a fun experience!” said Eitler.

“There was a wealth of knowledge presented, far more than I had expected. Excellent job by the Mystic crew,” McKinley added.

The GirlTalk members weren’t the only ones smiling at the end of the evening. “It was absolutely wonderful. The GirlTalk group is such a nice group of women. I am so appreciative – we booked many new appointments after the event,” said Mystic owner MaryLynn Pearson.

On March 19 the group will continue its focus on health and beauty with a wellness class, compliments of Symmetry Chiropractic & Wellness Center. The meeting will take place at founder Lori Shaw’s home at 6:30 p.m. On April 9 the ladies will get a chance to indulge their taste buds at a tasting event at The Olive Tree in downtown Westchase.

GirlTalk attendance continues to grow as word of their exciting events spreads. But as Brendzel points out, it is about much more than the outings themselves. “I have met some really nice and wonderful women through the group. The activities we do monthly are interesting, fun and a great way to spend a few hours. Lori Shaw has terrific ideas, a big heart and endless energy,” Brendzel said.

Shaw is working on many more fun-filled ideas for the group in the coming months. You can now follow all the GirlTalk fun on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/girltalktampa For m.ore information, contact Lori Shaw at loriella@tampabay.rr.com. The group is free to join and is open to anyone interested in fun, friendship and a fresh perspective.

By Karen Ring

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Westchase Siblings Place First at County STEM Fair

It’s impressive when an individual student takes first place at the County STEM Fair.

It’s doubly so when it happens twice in the same family in the same year.

At the 34th Annual Hillsborough County Regional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair, Greens residents Hannah and Thomas Keller received first place awards for their projects. More than 2,600 Hillsborough County public and private school students participated in the fair.

Westchase was also represented by Greens resident Samantha Money, who won second place in the Junior Behavioral and Social Science Division, and Bridges resident Maddie Hall. Thomas, Samantha, and Maddie are all sixth grade students in Ms. Nancy Deringer’s science class at Davidsen Middle School.

Hannah is a freshman at Tampa Preparatory School.

For the Keller family, asking questions has always been an important part of their daily lives. “Thomas and Hannah have always been curious and interested in science,” said their mother, Jana Keller. 

Hannah’s frequent conversations with her radiologist grandfather about new technologies being developed in the field made her wonder if certain parts of the body could be scanned at a lower radiation dose during CT scans and still produce an image suitable for diagnostic purposes. Hannah also had a personal interest in this subject because her brother had several CT scans when he was younger and now has to be very careful about any future scans to make sure he is not exposed to too much radiation. Hannah conducted her research during summer break and came to the conclusion that “radiation exposure to patients can be reduced by a greater percentage while maintaining diagnostic acceptability for scans of extremity body parts (like feet) when using ASiR technology.”

During a discussion with his father about sinkholes, Thomas asked him how the acidity level of soil affected sinkholes. His father said he didn’t know and that led Thomas to explore that question for his science fair project. Thomas found that “the more acidic the soil, the faster the limestone is chemically weathered, allowing for the formation of sinkholes.”

Samantha explored the question “Does Age Matter When Texting & Driving?” and Maddie researched “The Effect of Different Ingredients in Skin Moisturizer on a Model of Human Skin.”

Congratulations to all!

By Marcy Sanford

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Walkathon Benefits Southeastern Guide Dogs

We want your dogs!

We want them to come to the Southeastern Guide Dogs Walkathon on March 22! The fund-raising event will be held at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park (601 Old Water St. Tampa, FL 33602). Event festivities begin at 8:30 a.m. Opening Ceremonies occur at 9:45 a.m. and the 3K Walk kicks off at 10 a.m. The event wraps up at noon.

Linda Buxton in Glencliff has raised two dogs for the Tampa Area Puppy Raisers. She helps lead a wonderful group of volunteers who raise future guide dogs for Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD) in Palmetto. Joanna and Chloe Robinson of The Fords have raised two puppies for the school and are now hosting a beautiful breeder named Dee, who just had her second litter of puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs. The pups will soon go to puppy raisers, then back to SEGD for training.  Once they graduate, they’ll be placed in one of the many programs the school has to offer: Paws for Independence for the visually impaired, Paws for Patriots, veteran service dogs, facility therapy dogs and Gifted Canines for children. All the funds raised at the walkathon will help provide these wonderful dogs "free of charge" to the recipient.

The SEGD Walkathon is one of the biggest fund-raisers for the non-profit school. Your entire family is invited to come out and walk. The event will host fun things for the kids and fun and exciting things for your dogs. It’s a great opportunity for your family to get out to enjoy and honor your four-legged family members.

Alonso High School teachers Kristina Evenson will be there with her vet assisting students and Keven Norton will attend with his club, Dreaming Of That Smile (DOTS). The DOTS students will help with many of event’s activities, including bounce houses, crafts, cotton candy, gift shop, pirates, food, music, dog spa, doggie yoga and of course a great 3K walk along the water front of beautiful downtown Tampa.

Come join the fun and get your tails wagging!

By Joanna Robinson

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Ravens Track and Field Hopes to Build on Last Year’s Successes

In mid-February Alonso High School's Track and Field campaign kicked off at Leto High School with the team hoping to build on last year's record setting season.

Just last May senior Quatasia Fantroy captured a Gold Medal at the State Finals in the triple jump with a 38'9.75" leap, the first gold medal for Alonso Track and Field in its history.

“Compared to [the year before], we did a lot better. We’ve had stronger people coming in and that translates into more successful seasons," said Fantroy, who now attends Jackson State University in Mississippi on a track scholarship.

Also qualified to compete in last year's state finals was the girls 4x400 relay team. Led by Westchase resident junior Megan Wetzel, the relay team broke the school record at last year's University of Florida Invitational. All four of the girls are returning this year, including junior Savannah Torres, Westchase resident, and sophomores T’Rae Floyd and Tia Steward.

"The story line to last season was that our girls team really emerged as the flag bearers of our program. We had spots of brilliance among the boys, but the girls really showed depth and consistency, which was important for success and scholarships," analyzed Head Track and Field Coach Roger Mills.

Said Mills, "It's pretty amazing that our girls have such talent and consistency."

Leading the charge for the boys last year was senior William Taylor-Haynes, who excelled at the 110 meter hurdles and broke Alonso's 110 meter record.

"Among the boys, William was clearly our marquee athlete who had been heavily pursued by colleges," Mills said.  "While we had a number of good male athletes, nobody received the interest that he did. Track opened a number of doors. He was an elite hurdler -a state-class hurdler."

With Taylor-Haynes attending North Carolina State University on a track scholarship, the Track and Field team has four alumni currently competing in the NCAA on scholarship.  Besides Taylor-Haynes and Fantroy, Frankin Mosely and Gigi Petion, both graduates in 2011, are attending the University of South Florida.

The boys will be led this year by senior sprinter/jumper Brandon Robinson and junior sprinter Zantavious Showers.

"Because we lost a lot of sprinters last year, our long distance runners are the most seasoned. They will be carrying us," said Wetzel. "Last year we were strong but young. This year we'll take our developing skills and apply them to qualify for State [Finals]."

Added resident senior distance runner Emily Loudermilk, "I am enthusiastic about this year. We have a new long distance coach and we are all working on getting better. After seeing the incoming freshman at preseason conditioning practice, I know they will pick up the baton."

Coach Mills summed up last season and the surprising performance of the underclass girls, "It means that the future will bring more success."

By Jennifer Steere

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A Perfect Place to Explore Nature

I am always surprised when I mention Brooker Creek Preserve to Westchasers and they have never heard of it.

The 8,700-acre wildlife preserve, the largest natural area in Pinellas County, is only 20 minutes from Westchase. It’s the perfect place to explore nature. If you want an easy or strenuous hike, are looking for a comfortable, covered place to watch birds, hope to teach your children to appreciate nature, or want to learn more about nature yourself, Brooker Creek has something for you.

Located near its namesake, Brooker Creek (the main feeder for Lake Tarpon), the preserve is home to many animals. On a recent hike we were giddy over a turkey sighting. You might also see white tailed deer, otters, gopher tortoises, bobcats and coyotes. The preserve is home to some endangered species of plants, insects and birds, including orchids, Bachman’s sparrows and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.

There are almost five miles of hiking trails at Brooker Creek. All hikes begin on the education center trail, a nice boardwalk that winds through towering slash pines and over swampy areas. Along the way you’ll see beautiful wildflowers, ferns and epiphytes. From the education center trail, you can choose several different paths to determine the length of your hike. The 0.1-mile bird path leads through an oak hammock and ends at a freshwater marsh with a viewing blind for watching birds. Or you can choose the more challenging four-mile pine needle path through pine flatwoods, cypress swamps and forested wetlands and over Brooker Creek. Some areas of the Pine Needle Path and Blackwater Cutoff trails may be closed when there has been a lot of rain.

Brooker Creek has a very nice three-building complex that includes picnic areas, classrooms and bathrooms, as well as a very cool education center where you can learn about the preserve and its history. The center has interactive displays where children can learn more about native plants, animals and insects. If they are very brave children, or if you still have really good knees, you can all crawl inside a dark, manmade replica of a gopher tortoise burrow and experience life as a tortoise. The center even has a gift shop.

Brooker Creek has numerous monthly classes, guided hikes, garden club meetings, children’s story times and adult book clubs. They also host many special events throughout the year.

This month they are hosting a Music in the Woods concert on March 15 and an Off the Beaten Path hike on March 16. On April 5 they have a Wildlife Safari for children.

Admission to the preserve is free although donations are welcomed. There might be a charge for some special events.

Brooker Creek Preserve
3940 Keystone Road
Tarpon Springs, FL
(727) 453-6800
http://www.brookercreekpreserve.org

Education Center Hours:
Thu-Sat, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Preserve/Trail Hours:
Daily: 7 a.m. to approximately one hour before sunset

Friends of Brooker Creek
http://www.friendsofbrookercreekpreserve.org

By Marcy Sanford

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Westchase Recreation Center Programs, March 2014

Adult

Zumba
Combine Latin, American and international music with a fun, effective workout.
When: Mon, Thu, 7-8 p.m., and Sat, 10-11 a.m.
Cost: $6/class

Westchase Fit Club
Burn calories and fat, get stronger, leaner and have a great time working out with your friends during this boot camp for all fitness levels. Combines cardio, strength and athletic drills. Drop the kids off at school and join us!
When: Tue, Thu, 8-8:45 a.m.
Cost: $5/class

Volleyball
Ball-handling skills, footwork, fast-paced competition, games and fun for high schoolers and older.
When: Wed, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

Jazzercise
Combine elements of jazz dance, resistance training, flexibility and fun.
When: Mon-Sat, 8:20-9:20 a.m., 9:30-10:30 a.m., 10:40-11:40 a.m.; Mon-Thu, 5:30-6:30 p.m., 6:40-7:40 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

Badminton
Recreational play for adults to socialize, exercise and have fun!
When: Mon, 6-8:30 p.m.; Wed, 7-9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Open Gym Basketball
When: Mon, Tue, Thu, 8-9 p.m.; Fri, 7-9 p.m.; Sat, 8-10 a.m.

Senior Activities

Senior Tone and Stretch
Light weights, flexibility, and range of motion training with stretching.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9-9:45 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Pickleball
Pickleball is a racquet sport combining elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Wed, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Line Dancing
Seniors enjoy socializing and learning fun dancing techniques to their favorite country tunes.
When: Wed, 1-2 p.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Field Trips
Come join the fun! Sign-ups at the rec. center. Please call for more details.

Middle School / Teens

Volleyball
A character-based program teaching volleyball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

Open Gym
Come enjoy the gym! Coaches will be available to coordinate indoor games.
When: Fri, 5:30-7 p.m.
Cost: Free

Show on the Road
Learn the art of acting, play production, back stage and prop preparation while having fun.
Ages: Grades 9-12
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

Youth

REC2SIX
As after-school care, Rec2Six aims to raise a healthier generation of kids through physical activity and nutrition education. Call 964-2948 for registration details.
Ages: Grades K-5
When: Mon (Early Release), 1:15-6 p.m.; Tue-Fri, 2-6 p.m.
Cost: $38/week; reduced rates available

Camp Day Program
The perfect solution for teacher planning days, no-student days, and winter and spring break days. Visit http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org for available dates and registration.
Ages: Grades K-5
When: Non-student school days, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $7.60/day

Intramural Leagues: Basketball Registration Begins March 14
Learn basic skills of play during two practices and at least one game each week. Leagues offered: Flag Football, Cheerleading, Wiffleball, Basketball and Handball. See http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org for details.
Ages: 5-12
When: Varies by team; call for schedule.
Cost: $25 registration fee includes a T-shirt, award and award ceremony

Rookie Volleyball
Learn the fundamentals.
Ages: Grades 4-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

Show on the Road
Learn the art of acting, play production, back stage and prop preparation while having fun.
Ages: Grades 1-5
When: Mon, 2-3 p.m.; Tue, 5-6 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

Martial Arts
Learn the fundamentals of self-defense. Improve listening skills, get better grades in school and throw awesome kicks and punches!
Ages: 4-6
Days: Mon, 6-6:45 p.m. (Ages 4-6); 6:45-7:30 p.m. (Ages 7 and up)
Cost: $10

Tiny Tot Activities

Creative Movement
Learn the fundamentals of dance movements using songs, props and instruments.
Ages: 2
When: Tue, Thu, 10-10:30 a.m.
Cost: $5

Preschool Dance
Learn fundamentals of tumbling with basic technique training.
Ages: 3-4
When: Tue, Thu, 9-9:30 a.m.
Cost: $5

Hip Hop/Tumbling
Learn a combination of dance moves.
Ages: 3-4
When: Tue, Thu, 10-10:30 a.m.
Cost: $5

Coming Soon To Westchase:

Senior Activities: Water Color Art, Walking Club, Gift Program, Additional Classes for Senior Powerlifting
Adult/Seniors: Yoga
Chess for Beginners and Advanced

Call the center to be placed on the interest list

All activities take place at:
Westchase Recreation Center
9791 Westchase Dr.
Tampa, FL 33626
(813) 964-2948

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Doc Amendments Heading to Homeowners

It’s time to start spring cleaning in preparation of our bi-annual garage sale on May 3.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars and be up bright and early to start selling your goodies. If you have any Big Ticket Items you wish to sell, be sure to contact one of the association’s managers, Charlotte, at officemanager@wcamanager.com, so she can add them to the list. The list closes on April 30, so be sure to e-mail her as soon as possible with your items, your name, phone number and address. The list will be available on http://www.westchasewca.com or www.westchasewow.com. You will also be able to pick up a copy of the Big Ticket List at the swim and tennis centers by Wednesday, May 1. As we all know in the past, traffic will definitely be hectic around Westchase. The sale only lasts until 1 p.m. so let’s all try to be a little patient toward those who are driving around looking for a great bargain.

If you haven’t yet paid it, your 2014 annual Westchase Community Association (WCA) assessments is now late. Those owners who did not pay their annual assessment by Jan. 31 have had a late fee of $25 charged to their accounts. As a reminder, if you do not pay the outstanding balance by March 15, your account will be turned over to the association’s legal counsel for collection. Once this happens, legal fees begin to be incurred. Please avoid the additional costs by paying all outstanding fees on your account before the deadline.

Amendments to the Association’s Documents Over the next few weeks you will be receiving a list of proposed amendments to Westchase’s governing documents. It’s important that you read these and submit your votes by the indicated deadline. If you have any questions regarding any of the proposed amendments, feel free to contact the association management office and we will do our best to explain them to you.

Meet The Swim Instructors On March 8 at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard, you will have the opportunity to meet Westchase’s swim instructors who will be providing private swim lessons during the summer months. If you are interested in enrolling your child/children for swim lessons, please mark your calendar and come and meet the instructors.

As always, we are here to serve Westchase residents. Please feel free to drop by our office or contact us at 926-6404 or through e-mail at manager@wcamanager.com.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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New Westchasers, March 2014

Sarah and John Gambino of The Fords welcomed Eloise Heidi on January10 at 8:49 a.m.  Eloise Heidi weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces and measured 18 inches.  She was welcomed home by big twin sisters Giavanna and Juliet, 4, and big sister Veronica, 2.

Shelley and Ben Sciortino of Tree Tops welcomed Harrison Joseph on January 27 at 7:12 p.m. Harrison Joseph weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces. He is their first.

Residents who have not received or who have misplaced a Stork Club form to fill out to ensure publication of a birth announcement in WOW should e-mail their announcements to editor@westchasewow.com. High resolution photos may be e-mailed to that same address for possible publication here.

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Newcomers Luncheon March 20

The Newcomers of Northwest Hillsborough will meet at 11 a.m. on March 20.

They’ll gather for lunch at Brio Tuscan Grille at International Plaza, 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Suite B209, Tampa, FL 33607.  Our guest speaker is Deputy Judy Wooster from the Community Outreach Department of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department. She will provide guidance and expert advice on how to conduct and protect ourselves should we be in a risky, challenging or dangerous situation.

Reservations should be made by Thursday, March 13. Call Madeline at 818-0599.

The Newcomers of Northwest Hillsborough invites women who would like to form new friendships and get to know the area better to join us. Visit http://www.newcomersnwhillsborough.com

.

By Rose Ann Lorenzo

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Westchase Crime and Accidents: January 2014

A Fords resident made a startling discovery in her garage last month.

In the hours before dawn she returned from her workout and entered her home, leaving her garage door open. Returning to the garage a short time later, she encountered a man inside, who ran off when she began screaming.

Westchase is a very safe community in which to live, which often prompts residents to take security for granted. We leave valuables in our cars parked outside and our garage doors open. As the result, Westchase becomes a convenient target for opportunistic thieves. As we report here nearly every month, the most common Westchase crimes are always thefts from open garages and thefts of valuables from autos parked outside of garages. If you secure your valuable and shut your garage door at all times, you’ll frustrate Westchase’s petty thieves. 

Last, to help foil the rare home burglary, always arm your home alarm.

Battery-Simple

1/03

9800 Montague St.                                                                             

Battery-Simple

1/16

9500 West Park Village Dr.                                                                        

Battery-Simple

1/21

9700 Gretna Green Dr.                                                                         

Battery-Simple

1/29

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                        

Burglary Residence/Forced

1/22

10700 Tavistock Dr.                                                                            

Burglary Residence/No Force

1/13

9600 Montague St.                                                                             

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

1/17

10600 Rochester Wy.                                                                           

Curtilage With Theft

1/12

10400 Green Links Dr.                                                                         

Curtilage With Theft

1/12

9700 West Park Village Dr.                                                                        

Petit Theft - All Other

1/20

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                         

Petit Theft - All Other

1/27

9800 W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                          

Theft From A Building

1/29

11900 Marblehead Dr.                                                                          

Theft From A Vehicle

1/08

10000 Bridgeton Dr.                                                                           

Theft From A Vehicle

1/08

12200 Glencliff Cr.                                                                           

Theft Of Bicycle

1/12

10400 Green Links Dr.                                                                          

Theft Of Bicycle

1/19

10300 Welbeck Ct.                                                                             

Theft Of Bicycle

1/25

9900 Montague St.                                                                              

Traffic Accidents

1/04

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.                                                                     

Traffic Accidents

1/08

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.                                                                        

Traffic Accidents

1/08

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.                                                                     

Traffic Accidents

1/09

W. Linebaugh Ave./Montague St.                                                                       

Traffic Accidents

1/10

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.                                                                     

Traffic Accidents

1/17

W. Linebaugh Ave./Cavendish Dr.                                                                      

Traffic Accidents

1/17

Countryway Blvd./Whitmarsh Ln.                                                                       

Traffic Accidents

1/20

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.                                                                        

Traffic Accidents

1/20

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                        

Traffic Accidents

1/24

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.                                                                  

Traffic Accidents

1/25

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                        

Traffic Accidents

1/26

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.                                                                     

Traffic Accidents

1/31

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                        

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Dads’ Club Raises Stakes at Annual Poker Tourney

The Westchase Dads’ Club (WDC) is thrilled to announce that their third annual poker tournament was the most successful one to date. 

Congratulations to Scott Dudley, Juan Humara and Phil Montiegel for earning the first, second and third place winnings, respectively.  A special shout out goes to Phil, who generously donated his winnings back to the WDC to benefit the elementary school.

Due to the high level of support, the Dads’ Club raised over $1,000 for Westchase Elementary at the event. All of it will be presented to Principal Holley during an upcoming Morning Show. 

Well done, Dads!

By Eric Holt

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TBAY Swimmers Tackle Chilly Meets

Sixteen of our TBAY Westchase swimmers started their swimming New Year off at a meet in Naples, Florida on Jan. 18-20.

Four other TBAY branches attended the meet as well. Unfortunately for our 13-and-older swimmers, they had to be at warm ups at 6:45 a.m. when it was 37 degrees outside. The parents had to scrape ice off of their car windows to drive to the pool. The older swimmers actually had steam coming off of their bodies when they got out of the pool. By the time the 12-and-under swimmers arrived for their session in the afternoon, it had warmed up into the 80s. When we went back for finals and the sun went down, however, the parents had to huddle under blankets to stay warm. These kids are tough! (The parents complained and we didn’t even get in the pool.) At the meet first through third place finishes were achieved by Jacob Key, Joshua Bennett and Nicholas Libreros.

A few weeks later our swimmers had beautiful weather at a meet in St. Petersburg. All of our 13-and-over swimmers raced by time rather than age, which provided an interesting challenge. At most meets, swimmers race by age or are ranked by age. At this meet, however, everyone 13-and-over swam against each other regardless of their ages. Jacob Key made a new FLAG (known to swimmers as JO’s or Junior Olympics) cut in the 100 Back. First through third place finishes were had by Paige Easton, Dane Christensen, Dylan Nolan and Kate Rideout. Four of our swimmers completed the 1,000-yard race, which is a very long way to swim quickly.

A week later our swimmers attended the Gasparilla meet at TBAY Central’s pool at Tampa Prep. This is a meet they attend every year with all of the other TBAY branches as well as other teams. The 13-and-over swimmers had 6:45 a.m. warm ups again. This time the weather was in the 50s. While still chilly, it was much more tolerable than the 30s at Naples. Zachary Bennett and Kory Kimura achieved new FLAG/JO cuts and first through third place finishes were achieved by Sadie Jacobson, Richard Harris, Joshua Bennett, Paige Easton, Christopher Quach, Kory Kimura and Kate Rideout.

In March our swimmers will attend their championship meets – Senior Champs in Orlando for 14-and-older swimmers; Flags (Junior Olympics) in Sarasota for 14-and-under swimmers and Area 3/5 in Sarasota.  For more information about the team, please visit http://www.tbaywestchase.org

.

By Brenda Bennett

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HOA Leasing Rules: More Popular But Potentially Contentious

With the growing presence of investors snagging homes throughout the Tampa Bay area, many homeowners’ associations are beginning to rethink rules on home leasing.

Recent estimates have investors snagging upwards of 45 percent of home sales in Tampa Bay. The demographic shift has prompted some associations to consider additional rules to limit harmful effects arising from leasing.

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) has relatively liberal rules on leasing. Outside of West Park Village, where residents can rent granny flats over garages, Westchase homeowners simply cannot rent portions of homes, such as single rooms. When renting, owners must instead lease out the entire property, but they can do so for periods as short as six months. The only other requirement for Westchase owners is they must give a copy of the lease to the WCA’s management office. While the WCA’s governing documents retain for the association the right to evict tenants who don’t comply with deed restrictions, the power has been exercised a single time in the last decade.

“A number of my clients have included new restrictions on leasing,” observed Aaron Silberman of Silberman Law, whose expertise is homeowner and condominium association law. Changes in home ownership patterns and the growth of investors are behind the move towards tightening leasing rules, however. “They try to do it a lot more often.”

Silberman pointed out, however, that homeowners associations don’t generally have leasing requirements that are as stringent as condominium associations. In some cases, condominium associations’ attempts to broadly limit leasing have prompted the Florida legislature to place limits on condominium boards. For example, any outright ban on condominium leasing can only apply to condominium owners who voted for the rule and condominium units sold after its adoption. Few such limits, however, have been placed on HOAs by the state and homeowners associations are governed by an entirely different part of the state code. Thus, condo limits don’t apply to HOAs.

So what are some HOAs doing to address investor activity?

“It’s becoming more common to impose an inability to lease in the first year,” observed Silberman of associations.

Silberman offers a note of caution, however. “Leasing restrictions, in my opinion, cut both ways.” He added, “You’re then imposing the same cumbersome restrictions on the well-meaning individual as the person who just wants to make money.”

Silberman cited an example of a person facing an unexpected job transfer. “They do enjoy the lack of restrictions not forbidding them from renting a home out.”

“Leasing is one of those really contentious issues,” he stated. “Someone purchases a townhouse or home with thought it is going to be a revenue stream for them. And then the association tries to change the governing documents and take away the main reason they bought the property for.”

Silberman, however, was quick to counter the argument. “Yet they buy knowing the documents can [change].” He stated. “That’s the risk of buying into any association.”

Silberman said he advises associations to put teeth behind any leasing restrictions they adopt. “Governing documents have to give [the association] a right to disapprove tenants,” he stated.

He added that those HOAs who adopt criminal background checks and credit checks for potential renters should also adopt rules that clearly specify what is unacceptable. For example, they might specifically ban anyone with a felony conviction or any renter below a minimum, specified credit score. Less specific or inconsistent rules can lead to charges of violations of the Fair Housing Act.

“Practically speaking…when you’re dealing with a neighborhood, you want to have a congenial atmosphere,” said Silberman “You have to balance the desire to limit people who are less than desirable without creating animosity with other owners who purchased in that community to use their property as they see fit.”

“Communication,” he concluded, “is always key.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Dwarf Mondo Grass

Often used as a border grass, Mondo Grass is a hardy evergreen groundcover.

Also known as dwarf lilyturf, it grows well between zones 7-11. It’s one of my favorite groundcovers since it tolerates shade (but only morning or partial sun) and is virtually indestructible. According to Ed Gillman, a horticulturist for University of Florida, Dwarf Mondo Grass has no known pests or diseases. It has a dark green color that serves as an attractive alternative to lawn grass and is handy in filling in problem areas such as exposed tree roots or areas difficult to mow or prone to erosion.

Unlike many other groundcovers, it doesn’t mind being walked on, and it’s creeping underground stems quickly replace the plants that my beagle, Buster, insists on digging up while lizard hunting. Mondo Grass can be mowed in late winter before growth begins to eliminate old, discolored foliage. In the four years since I have planted it, I have not had to mow it. Like most hardy groundcovers, it takes a while for Mondo Grass to establish. The first year it “sleeps” or establishes roots. The second year, it “creeps” or begins to spread. It is not until the third year that it “leaps” or really begins to fill in.

Popular cultivars include Gyokuruu, which is about two inches tall, ‘Nana’ which is compact and reportedly grows to four to five inches (mine is much shorter). There is also a variegated variety, Variegatus, which is a little smaller and has white stripes in the leaves. The plant is propagated by division of the matted clumps. When Buster digs it up, I cut it apart and replant in new areas.

For more information, please refer to Gillman’s publication,
http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/shrub_fact_sheets/ophjapa.pdf

For some photos and great ideas of how to use the plant in your landscape, see http://www.houzz.com/dwarf-mondo-grass‎ Warni.ng: this site is addictive!

Master Gardener Talk: March 12

Please join us at the Upper Tampa Bay Library at 6:30 p.m. on March 12 for a Master
Gardening Talk on Groundcovers for Central Florida. We will share a slideshow and discuss some beautiful and hardy groundcovers that will work well for our area.

For more information on this or any of the Master Gardening series of talks, please contact Shelly Stein at 852-2580 or skstein2003@yahoo.com.

By Shelly Stein

Master Gardener Shelly Stein can be reached at skstein2003@yahoo.com.

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It’s March Madness Time, Baby!

It’s March Madness. The Big Dance.

No matter what you call it, the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship is the highlight of the year for basketball fans across the country. “Maybe it's because I grew up in Indiana, where every house on the street has a backboard affixed over their garage door, but to me, March Madness is bigger than the Super Bowl,” said Casey Wilkening, Bridges resident and creator of the Westchase Hoops Madness online bracket.

The great thing about March Madness is the fun is not restricted to die-hard sports fans. People from all walks of life – from your first grader to your great aunt Sally – can get in on the action by attempting to predict the winners of each of the tournament’s 63 games. These predictions are tallied by filling out a bracket, or tree diagram, that maps out the series of games being played during this exciting, anything-can-happen, single-elimination tournament.

While it sounds complicated, the NCAA Championship is actually pretty simple. The tournament keeps subtracting losing teams until there is only one team standing – the champion of college basketball. The madness ensues when one attempts to predict the teams who will ride out the March Madness wave and end up on top.
Correctly choosing the outcome of each game is difficult – so difficult, billionaire Warren Buffett is upping the ante this year. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is partnering with mortgage lending giant Quicken Loans to offer a whopping $1 billion (yes billion, with a b) to anyone who is able to fill out a perfect bracket. Before you start contemplating a life filled with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, take note that a perfect bracket is nearly impossible. According to DePaul Math Professor Jeff Bergen, the odds of going into the bracket blindly and coming up with perfect picks are a staggering 1 in 9.2 quintillion (that is a nine, then a two followed by 17 zeroes). Those that have some basketball knowledge on their side have slightly better odds at 1 in 128 billion…still not great odds.

For those wanting to take a shot at completing a bracket, it’s important to have a rudimentary understanding of how the tournament works. Of the 68 teams that take part in the tournament, 31 receive an automatic invitation; the remaining 37 teams are chosen by a selection committee (on a day known as Selection Sunday). The field of teams is then divided into four geographical regions. The teams in each region are assigned a seed (or ranking), with the best team in the region awarded the number one seed (the lower the number, the better the ranking). The same committee that selects teams for the tournament also decides how teams are seeded and where they will play.

The first four play-in games are not included in most brackets. The real action begins in the second round, when 64 teams remain (64 teams, 63 games). Initially, the strongest teams are paired against the weakest. While this may seem unfair, it can lead to some thrilling upsets, launching lesser-known teams to “Cinderella” status (that unlikely team that may get a chance at the Big Dance). Over the first two full days of the tournament, the field of 64 teams is pared to 32. In the next two days, the field is trimmed to 16, also known as the Sweet 16. These 16 teams battle it out to earn a spot in the coveted Final Four. And then, of course, there is the final match up to determine the winner.

That’s a lot of games to predict and methods vary. Wilkening follows the basketball action throughout the year and is a self-professed stats guy. “I will pour over stats like player height, shooting percentage, 3-point efficiency, home vs. away records, etc.,” he said.

Bridges resident, Dan Gale (coincidentally, also a native Hoosier), likes to keep an eye on the college hoops action throughout the season as well. He looks to the powerhouse programs when deciding on close match ups. “One other key attribute that I always keep in mind for the tourney is coaching. Unlike the NBA, college basketball coaches play a huge factor in the outcome of games, especially those who have NCAA tournament experience,” Gale explained.

Then there are the givens. A number 16 seed has never won a tournament game. A Number Eight seed is the highest seed to win a national championship. A Number 11 seed is the highest seed to advance to the Final Four. And the one that tends to stump people – there is always an upset or two. For instance, every year a 12 seed beats a five seed.

Every year.

“You cannot win a bracket pool without picking upsets to advance further in the tournament than your opponents do. That means some times you have to take risks and go out on a limb for a team or two,” Wilkening advised.

Wilkening and Gale both make sure they have a 12 seed vs. 5 seed upset in their bracket each year. The key is choosing the correct upset.

Both Gale and Wilkening have found success with their strategies in the respective pools in which they participate. Gale has had a few second and third place finishes in the past few years. Wilkening has topped his own pool a number of times.
Then there are times when even the most well-intentioned strategy flies out the window. Wilkening admitted his daughter, Olivia, has bested him before with her method of picking teams based on the teams that have the best nicknames; his son, Conrad, has outdone him with his strategy that relies solely on seed number. That is the beauty of March Madness – in the end, it’s anyone’s game.

If you want to give it a go this year, Wilkening’s Westchase Hoops Madness pool is open to anyone. The pool is online now at http://www.nwtampa.com/hoops with ,information on key dates, pool rules and TV coverage. Brackets will be available the evening of Selection Sunday (March 16). While you are at it, why not send a copy off to Mr. Buffett? Even if you choose your teams by playing rock, paper, scissors, it’s worth a shot at becoming a billionaire!

Good luck and much thanks to Dan Gale and Casey Wilkening for sharing their March Madness wisdom with us!

By Karen Ring

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More Than Fan Fiction

It is not surprising that Jo Baker wrote Longbourn to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.

Longbourn, after all, is the central setting of that novel. But it is delightfully surprising that what could have been mediocre fan fiction is a compelling historical novel in its own right.

Longbourn focuses on what goes on below-stairs, giving voice to the servants whose never-ending work supports the lifestyle of the Bennet family above. The heroine is the young housemaid, Sarah. Her pre-dawn to late-night drudgery leaves little time for dreaming and yet she hopes to better herself. She longs for "somewhere you could just be, and not always be obliged to do.” Ptolemy, the charismatic footman of the neighboring Bingley family, seems to offer that possibility with a plan to open his own business in London. Ptolemy captivates Sarah but the unexpected arrival of a new footman, James Smith, complicates her emotions and creates a love triangle.

The enigmatic Smith, who arrives seemingly out of nowhere, disappears just as suddenly. Sarah uses her quick wits and perseverance to unravel his mysterious past and find the connection among James and the other occupants of Longbourn.

Jo Baker’s thorough research gives the novel an authentic voice. Her fascinating observations provide a clear contrast between the lives of the Longbourn servants and their employers. Including a back-story for James, including a gritty, jarring description of his time as a soldier during the Napoleonic wars, adds depth to both his character and the narrative.

The book is not without its flaws. Ptolemy Bingley is a fascinating, colorful character but seems to be introduced only as a foil to James. He disappears from the story too soon. In addition, the ending seems shallow and rushed. The main characters deserve more.

If you are a veteran Jane Austen reader, this story envisions Pride and Prejudice with a fresh twist but without gimmickry. Even if are unfamiliar with Austen’s famous novel, Longbourn is a deft, witty tale. In either case, this engrossing look into the practical side of the Regency era is an excellent addition to your “want-to-read” list.

By Carol Collins

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Perversely Pleasurable Peruvian Cuisine

Last month we ditched the kids and went out for an evening to ourselves. 

For the last nine years, tucked into a corner of Carrollwood, has sat a jewel box of a restaurant called Terra Sur Café. It features sensuous food, an extensive wine list and flattering lighting. Whenever we visited, it seemed almost everyone in the restaurant was on a date, and we took some perverse pleasure in watching a few really awkward ones unfold.

Terra Sur showcases Peruvian cuisine, which derives its exotic influence from Spanish, Chinese, Italian, German and Japanese immigrants. The three staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and chili peppers – utilizing the diversity of land and sea.

We started the evening with tapas at the Cepas Wine and Tapas bar, one storefront over from the main restaurant and under the same ownership.  Our Latina servers were charming and attentive. Eating off the Happy Hour menu, offered every day from 4-7 p.m., we devoured the Piquillos Rellenos, peppers stuffed with rice, beef and feta cheese.  I also liked the marinated fresh anchovies (Boquerones en Vinagreta), which had a nice citrusy acidity as a palate cleanser. The portions are small, the prices reasonable, and a wide variety is offered, including Gulf Oysters, Seafood Paella and traditional Spanish Omelets. I would have been happy as an almeja to stay here all night.    

Alas, we moved on to the restaurant, which provides the same warm atmosphere and unique menu.  From the appetizers, we had the Papa Rellena, two potatoes stuffed with caramelized onions, ground beef, olives, raisins and hard-boiled egg.  This savory combination is the original, before Cuban and Puerto Rican cuisine. The menu held seven (!) different types of Ceviche, a cold dish of raw fish or shellfish marinated in lime juice and including onions, cilantro and spices. While I didn’t have any this time around, I’m looking forward to this light, refreshing appetizer when the weather warms up a bit.

Every time I visit, I have to order Tacu Tacu with Lomo Saltado, a hearty stir fry dish with strips of sirloin, tomatoes, onions and french fries. It’s the love child of Chinese take-out and grilled steak.  I also tried the Pescado a la Chorrillana, a fried fillet of fish, topped with a piquant onion/tomato sauce.  They said it was snapper, and I say it was pretty good, but not a standout.

Terra Sur’s portions are large, so plan accordingly. Save room so you can sample the pretty desserts in the refrigerated case. We tried the Chocolate Cake, Strawberry Cheesecake and Tres Leches.  The standout of the three was the moist Tres Leches.

While the atmosphere is warm, if you’re wearing anything short of thermals, bring a sweater or coat. The temperature at both the restaurant and bar is chilly.  In keeping with its Latin heritage, this place really gets hopping later in the evening.  With a 7 p.m. reservation, (coincidentally starting when happy hour ended, no?) we were guided through dinner a little too firmly in order to free up the table for later patrons.

All together, Terra Sur Cafe is an enchanting place where you can have a family meal or an adventurous night out.  You can feel the owner’s love and pride in sharing this slice of South American heaven.

Terra Sur Café
http://www.terrasurcafe.com
5358 W. Village Dr. Tampa, FL 33624
(813)269-2694
Hours: Mon-Thu, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun, noon-8 p.m.

By Jill Chesney

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UTB Library Programs, March 2014

FAMILY PROGRAMS

Toddler Time (Ages 2-3 with caregiver): Tue, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 10:15 a.m.; Wed, March 5, 12, 19 and 26, at 11 a.m.

Story Time (Ages 3-5): Tue, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 11 a.m.

Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Tue, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 1:15 p.m.; Wed, March 5, 12, 19 and 26, at 10:15 a.m.

Wee Artists: Thu, March 6, 13, 20 and 27, at 1:15 p.m.

  • Join us for arts and crafts for preschoolers.

Wonders of Nature: Wed, March 5, at 3:30 p.m.

Alphabet Club: Wed, March 12, at 1:15 p.m.

  • Have fun with stories, action rhymes, songs and crafts.

Block Party: Mon, March 17, at 3:30 p.m.

  • Build a fun, interactive and creative afternoon with the library’s LEGO blocks.

CoderDojo Tampa Bay Area – Teaching Kids to Code: Sat, March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 11:30 a.m.

Music Together: Wed, March 19, at 11:30 a.m.

Puppet Show – The Gingerbread Boy: Wed, March 26, at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

TEEN PROGRAMS

Game Zone: Thu, March 6, at 5:30 p.m.

  • Get in the zone and join your friends for some gaming.

Free SAT/ACT Practice Test: Sat, March 8, at 10 a.m.

Teen Movie Night: Thu, March 20, at 5:30 p.m.

Teen Advisory Board: Tue, March 4 and 18, at 4:30 p.m.

ADULT PROGRAMS

Sahaja Meditation: Sat, March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 10:30 a.m.

  • Learn and practice meditation to improve clarity, health and peace.

Tai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Wed, March 6 and 13, 1:30 p.m.

Upper Tampa Bay Mah Jongg Club: Fri, March 7, 14, 21 and 28, at 1 p.m.

Master Gardener – Groundcovers for Central Florida: Wed, March 12, at 6:30 p.m.

  • Discover groundcovers other than sod that use less water, pesticides and fertilizer.

Book Discussion: Thu, March 6, at 6:30 p.m.

  • Join us to discuss Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.

Book Discussion: Mon, March 17, at 11 a.m.

  • Join us to discuss True Colors by Kristen Hannah.

Computer Classes:   

Adobe Photoshop Elements – Getting Started: Tue, March 4, at 2:30 p.m.; Wed, March 5, at 6:30 p.m.

Adobe Photoshop Elements – Organizing Photos: Tue, March 11, at 2:30 p.m.

Online Job Searching: Tue, March 11, at 6:30 p.m.

Adobe Photoshop Elements – Retouching Photos: Tue, March 18, at 2:30 p.m.

Computer Tutor: Tue, March 18, at 6:30 p.m.

Adobe Photoshop Elements – Cropping Photos: Tue, March 25, at 2:30 p.m.

eBooks and eReaders – An Introduction: Tue, March 25, at 6:30 p.m.

LIBRARY HOURS

Sun, 12:30-5 p.m.; Mon-Wed, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thu, noon-8 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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Bennington’s Joseph Trim Presented Casey Award

On Jan. 30 Hillsborough County School District recognized a special Bennington resident.

At the ceremony, which honored Hillsborough County athletes, Bennington resident Joseph Trim was awarded with the prestigious Casey Most Valuable Golfer Award. The Jesuit High School senior is a four-year letterman and captain of his school’s golf team. He’s helped his teams win four district championships and a regional runner-up title and qualify for the state championships twice. “This year the team came in fourth at the state championship. This has been the best golf team Jesuit High School has had in 25 years,” said Joseph’s mother, Alicia Trim. 

The Casey Award is based not just on the athlete’s skills but also their academic performance, service, and leadership. Joseph is very active at his school, has a 4.13 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. He volunteers for numerous organizations, including First Tee Tampa Bay, where he taught the game of golf to inner-city children during summer breaks.

“Joseph started playing golf with his father and brother when he was a toddler,” said Alicia Trim.

These days when Joseph and his father, Jeff, make it to the golf course, Joseph said he usually ends up winning. “My dad works hard and doesn’t get to play golf as often as I do,” he explained. “I practice five times a week and play a lot of tournaments throughout the year. I also work with a swing coach. So now when we do play golf together, I usually win.”

Joseph said two of his favorite local courses are TPC Tampa Bay and Tampa Palms.

Joseph hopes to continue playing golf when he goes to college and is looking at Fordham University in New York and the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. “I am interested in math and science and hope to be able to major in something to do with that, maybe pre-med.”

Congratulations, Joseph!

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Westchase Shout Outs, March 2014

Congratulations to the Third Grade Battle of the Books Champions from Westchase Elementary!  Representing Mrs. Milcetich and Mrs. McElroy's classroom were Gianna Colucci, Grayson Gallagher, Claire Dean, Christian Yu, Carter Ford, Ella Pogue and Luke Patterson.

WOW wants your Shout Outs, short messages saying congratulations, well-done, thank you or “hey, we have some good news.” Shout Outs should be no longer than 75 words and can include a high resolution photo (JPEG attachments please). Send by e-mail by the fifteenth of the month to editor@westchasewow.com.

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Seniors Head for the Races

Westchase Seniors are invited to chow down and enjoy the races at Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday, March 19.

Westchase Seniors will meet in the Tampa Bay Downs Skye Terrace Restaurant at 11:30 a.m. to enjoy lunch before the races start at 12:25 p.m. A wide variety of entrees will be available ranging in price from $8.95 to $15.95. You may go to http://www.tampabaydowns.com/visit/dining/skye-terrace.aspx to see a menu. General and preferred parking is free while valet parking is $5. Admission is $3, and the lunch will be Dutch treat. A limited number of reservations are available so please make your reservations by contacting Kendra Swe (kendra_swe@yahoo.com) or Christine Stives (cstives@msn.com) as soon as possible and no later than Friday, March 15. Westchase seniors are encouraged not to miss this afternoon of fun and fellowship with your Westchase peers as they cheer their favorite steeds to victory.

Movie Night A good number of Westchase seniors enjoyed lots of great food and a feel good movie at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center in February. It still amazes me how when we have a meal at a Westchase seniors activity, without any coordinating ahead of time, we always seem to have a large variety of great tasting food and plenty to go around. Special thanks to all who bring food to Westchase Senior Group activities. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the movie, Second Hand Lions. If you were unable to attend this activity, you might want to rent it. It will tug on your heart and put a smile on your face and a lump in your throat.

Upcoming seniors’ day trips sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreational Center are:

Wednesday, March 26: Ellenton Outlet Mall, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (free)
Wednesday, April 23: Pioneer Florida Museum at Dade City, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ($4 cash)
Wednesday, May 23: Shelby Gardens in Sarasota, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ($15 cash)

Please make reservations by calling 903-3482. Trips are limited to the first 25 who make reservations. The bus fare is free; however, bring money for the activity fee and lunch. Please call the Pattersons if you have suggested destinations for future day trips on the Hillsborough County bus. Be sure to check out the rec. center’s other senior activities listed on pages 88-89.

Senior Activities at the Westchase Recreation Center: 
• Senior Pickle Ball beginner classes, Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00-10:00 - Free
• Senior Pickle Ball, Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00A.M.-1:00P.M. - Free
• Senior Tone and Stretch, Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00A.M.-9:45A.M. - Free
• Senior Power Lifting, Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00A.M.-11:00A.M. - Free

Adult Activities at the Westchase Recreation Center: 
• Badminton, Mondays 6:00 P.M.-8:00P.M. - Free
• Co-Ed Volleyball, Tuesdays 8:00P.M.-9:00P.M. - $10.00 per session
• Jazzercise Workout, Monday-Saturday 8:20A.M.-9:20A.M., 9:30A.M.-10:30A.M., 10:40A.M.-11:40A.M., and Monday-Thursday 5:30P.M.-6:30P.M., 6:40P.M.-7:40P.M. - $10.00 per session
• Zumba Workout, Monday and Thursday , Saturday 7:00P.M.-8:00P.M. - $6.00 per session
• Line Dancing, Wednesdays 1:00P.M. - Free
• Adult Dance Class, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:45-11:45A.M. and Wednesdays 8:00P.M.-9:00P.M. – Free

Coming soon: Water Color Art and Walking Club

Westchase Recreation Center information about senior and adult activities is also available at the center on Westchase Drive or by contacting Dona Smith at smithdj@hillsboroughcounty.org or 964-2948.

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

Join the Fun If you are a Westchase resident over 55-years-old and looking to enjoy life, join over 200 of your neighbors who make up the Westchase Seniors Group and add more life to your years. It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap. Members participate in only what they are interested and pay their own way. 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).

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

The Pattersons are residents of Kingsford and can be reached at westchase.seniors@gmail.com or 926-5473.

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February Full of Awards and Shooting Sports for Troop 46

On Monday, Feb. 3, Troop 46 proudly hosted its Winter Court of Honor.

This is one of three ceremonies a year, when Scouts are recognized for all of their achievements. The Troop awarded 37 rank advancements as our Scouts continue on their path toward earning their Eagle Scout rank. Also, 156 merit badges were awarded in 52 different categories from Wilderness Survival and Space Exploration to Inventing and Scuba Diving. There are over 120 different merit badges available in Boy Scouting, and it seems like the Scouts of Troop 46 try most of them!

Troop 46 was also proud to present two of our Eagle Scouts, Austin Ragusa and Caleb Sheppard, with their Eagle Bronze Palm. These are very distinguished awards that Eagle Scouts can earn for continuous service after they have earned the Eagle Scout rank. We thank these Eagle Scouts for continuing to be active in our Troop. Troop 46 is also excited to announce that Steven Schoenfeld was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout this month. Our Troop would like to join Steven’s family in expressing how proud we are of him and his outstanding accomplishment!

At the Court of Honor, Scoutmaster Mark Ragusa also recognized the Troop’s adult leadership and thanked them for giving so much of their time and energy to be trained by the Boy Scouts of America. It is because of their dedication that our Troop is able to do such amazing things. A special “Polar Bear Award” was also presented to several of our senior Scouts who camped over the winter break at Stone Mountain, Georgia. This award is given for conquering the challenges of camping in temperatures below 32 degrees. All in all, it was a great night, and our Troop is proud of how hard all of our Scouts have been working to grow into the leaders of tomorrow.

Also, over the weekend of Feb. 7-9, the Troop enjoyed a Shooting Sports Campout at Sand Hill Scout Reservation, which is one of the best Scout camps in Florida. Sand Hill Scout Reservation is located on over 1,200 acres in the Brooksville area. What is unique about this campout is that Scouts get a chance to learn to shoot, many of them for the first time. The staff teaches Scouts how to fire and take care of firearms safely. The Scouts under age 12 were able to enjoy archery, and the older Scouts were able to shoot rifles and shotguns. Forty-two Scouts and 12 adults attended the campout. Troop 46 had a lot of fun, and everyone loved learning how to shoot safely (what boy does not like that?). The Troop also had 15 Scouts complete their Man vs. Wild experience on Saturday night. With temperatures in the low 50s, the Scouts had perfect weather for sleeping under a shelter they made without many of the creature comforts they get in camp.

The Troop also hosted a number of Webelos/cross-over Scouts from a number of Packs at Vertical Ventures, an indoor rock climbing facility off Anderson Road. The Troop historically has a climbing night with the Scouts and Webelos who are interested in joining the Troop after they cross-over from Cub Scouts/Webelos. This year’s event was a success and the Troop will likely have a great new group of Scouts joining us in the next month.
To learn more about scouting, all visitors are welcome to attend our Troop meetings on Mondays at First Baptist Church of Citrus Park. For more information about Boy Scout Troop 46, please contact Scoutmaster Mark Ragusa at mragusa@gunster.com.

By Alex McMurray

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Village Voices, March 2014: Rentals, Neighborhood Meetings and Board Volunteers

The Bridges

At their March meeting the Voting Members are scheduled to discuss the subject of single family home rentals in Westchase. Westchase was built to be a very diverse housing community, offering rental apartments, condominiums, townhomes and single family homes. Some feel that a high density of rented single family homes, especially when the owners are absentee corporate property owners not interested in the long term value of their property or our community, may be bad for a community. Others feel like it doesn't matter. If you have any feelings on this, please let me know.

The Guidelines and CCRs Committee will present their proposed amendments to the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and By-laws at the March Voting Members meeting. The Voting Members Meeting will be held Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard.

At the January Board of Directors meeting, the committee meeting with the Costco developer reported that the developer has been very receptive to our suggestions and most have been agreed to. I expect you can read more updated information elsewhere in the WOW or at WOW's Web site, http://www.westchasewow.com

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Please send an e-mail to bridgesvm@gmail.com and include your home address if you would like to receive updates by e-mail.

By Cynde Mercer, The Bridges VM

Stockbridge

The mailbox question has been resolved. Forty-nine of the homeowners submitted the ballot and voted on the mailbox question – retain the white mailboxes or upgrade to the black aluminum mailboxes. The vote closed on Feb. 7 and was very nearly a tie. No other ballots can be accepted at this time. In order for the change to take place, at least 51 percent of residents were required to vote in favor of the new mailboxes. Please be sure to maintain your current mailboxes and keep them in good repair.

The voting members meeting for February was cancelled. The next voting members meeting will be held on March 11 and we will be given an initial presentation of the proposed amendments to Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and By-Laws. Just as a reminder, Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board Member meetings and voting member meetings are open to all residents. The monthly schedule is available under the events tab in the WOW online.

As a reminder from the monthly e-mail, if a resident wants to swap their trash or recycle cart for a different size, here is the info. Cart Swap-Out is now under way through March 15. A one-time size change at no charge can be arranged by contacting our franchise collector, Republic Waste Services, at (813) 265-0292, or e-mailing the Solid Waste Customer Service Center at solidwaste@hillboroughcounty.org. Roll cart size changes after March 15 will incur a $30 charge each. If you want a different size trash or recycle container, and do not want to pay for it please contact Republic Waste Services prior to the March 15.

With spring quickly approaching, I am sure most of us have household to-do lists looming. Mine is termed the Honey-Do, but I love to do it anyway! Be sure that if your home repairs, improvements or upgrades include enhancing the exterior of your property that you submit a request to the Modifications Committee. If you are not sure if your improvements require committee approval, call first before you take on a project. A list of FAQs regarding home modifications can be found on the WCA Web site, http://westchasewca.com

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Last, we have some great neighborhood events coming up this month. Frist Friday is right around the corner. Our last Movie in the Park is this month and will resume in October and then there is St. Patrick’s Day. Our Irish flag will be flying next week. We are looking to host the neighborhood block party in April and will send out a firm date very soon. If you are not receiving my e-mails, please be sure to e-mail me to be added to the Stockbridge distribution list: edsiler@gmail.com.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

By Edward Fitzgerald Siler, Stockbridge VM

Townhomes of West Park Village

I hope all our residents are surviving this roller coaster weather. I have managed to catch something that seems to going around and never leaves. A friend from the school board said there are three different germs going around. It seems like when you get rid of one, another one comes in. I hope by the time you read this, I am better. I have been sick since Jan. 8.

Our Townhomes association has an important meeting coming up on Wednesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. It is being held at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office next to the West Park Village pool. We need a couple of fresh faces to replace our outgoing board members, Mary Rodriguez and Mike Niemis. They will be moving out of our community soon and we need to have new volunteer board members replace them. We meet just a few times a year. This will give new people a chance to participate in our association. We hope to see some of you step forward. This meeting is also a chance to bring up issues you may have that you would like to discuss.

Don't forget spring break is coming up in March. Remember you can win $100 if you take along WOW and submit a photo of yourself holding the magazine on your out-of-state adventure. I look forward to seeing some of you on March 5. By then this cold weather should be over!

By Ray Chiaramonte, Townhomes HOA President

Villas of West Park Village

As we mentioned in last month’s Village Voice, on Feb. 3 the Villas held our annual meeting. Following the meeting, your 2014 Villas Board of Directors met, elected its officers and took action on various issues, including a proposed change to our Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs).

During the annual meeting 64 members were present in person or by proxy, 69.5 percent of the total members of the association. The three declared candidates elected to the board for 2014 were Gregg Spieth, Christine Miller and Carlos Quiros.

During the meeting the board took the following actions. They elected Carlos Quiros as president; Greg Spieth as vice president; Christine Miller as secretary; and Kevin Riley as treasurer. They voted to apply any excess of income over expenditures for the year 2013 to the 2014 budget. They voted to maintain the gutter materials as they currently exist, which follows the West Park Village architectural guidelines. They voted to continue for two more years the Villas association’s program of pressure washing sidewalks, lead walks, front and rear curbing and driveways of all villas.

Last, they voted to modify the wording of Article II, Section 3 (1) of the Villas of West Park Villas’ Declaration to read: “Roofs. All roofs shall consist of dimensional fiberglass shingles (30 years or better), except for any roofs on screened enclosures, screened porches or other additions to a home, that are first approved by the Westchase Modification Committee. Where a flat roof is utilized on a screened enclosure, screened porch or other addition, the roof system may consist of wood shingles, galvalume steel (corrugated, 5V-crisp or standing seam), aluminum, stainless steel, copper, or rubberized TPO roofing, or other acceptable roof material if first approved by the WCA Voting Members and included in the WCA Guidelines. This proposed change to our CCRs must be submitted to all Villa owners for their consideration as it requires 66 percent of members voting in the affirmative for final approval.

By Carlos Quiros, Villas of HOA President

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WOW Traverses Eastern Europe

The magazine tagged along with Guillermo (Will) Martinez of The Vineyards, who traveled throughout Eastern Europe with his parents and sister, who traveled from Mexico City to meet him there. “All of us had been to Europe before so we thought that Eastern Europe would present a unique opportunity to see a different side of the continent,” he explained.

Will took WOW on a three and a half week trip through Hungary, Vienna, the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia before concluding the trip in Amsterdam. “I can tell you for sure that our favorite place was Moscow,” wrote Will, who described Russian food as fantastic. “Not only is the city spectacular, full of history and art, the Russians take great care of their city and are very organized, very clean and they make you feel at home.”

He added, “Red Square is not as big as I imagined, but it is very well preserved. The Kremlin was magnificent.”

From Russia, Will submitted some photos of WOW in front of three impressive Russian Orthodox Cathedrals, two in the Kremlin/Red Square area and one in St. Petersburg.

Located on the north side of Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin is the Cathedral of the Dormition. The Russian Orthodox church, constructed between 1475–1479, was designed by Italian architect Aristotele Fioravanti and built by Moscow Grand Duke Ivan III. Between 1547 and 1896, it was the site of the coronation of Russian tsars, including Ivan the Terrible, the first Russian Tsar. It serves as a burial place for most patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church (the eastern equivalent of the Roman Catholic popes) The church is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, a phrase that refers to the passing of Mary, the mother of Jesus, from her earthly life.

The Cathedral of the Dormition replaced another cathedral, built between 1472 and 1474, after it collapsed during an earthquake, which are quite rare in Moscow. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution creating the Soviet Union, the Russian leadership closed all churches in the Kremlin and the structure was converted to a museum. With the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1990, it resumed periodic church services and was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991.

Cathedral Square lies within the heart of The Kremlin, the official seat of the Russian government and home of its president. It holds two other cathedrals. The Kremlin, a word that means fortress, is an historic citadel that includes five palaces, four cathedrals and the Kremlin wall along with its towers. The wall forms an irregular triangle encompassing 68 acres.

Red Square lies adjacent to the east side of The Kremlin and is considered Moscow’s main square. The cities’ major roads emanate from the site. The most famous building on Red Square is the colorful and architecturally dramatic St. Basil’s Cathedral, built between 1555–1561 under Ivan the Terrible. Under the Soviet Union’s policy of state atheism, the church was confiscated and turned into a museum in 1928, a status it continues to hold.

Rounding out Will’s trifecta of cathedrals is St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Byzantine church originally belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church, it was built between 1818 and 1858. Designed by French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand, the church was dedicated by Tsar Alexander I. The cathedral’s main dome, which is 333 feet high and plated with pure gold, dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. It was painted gray during World War II, however, to make it less conspicuous to passing bombers. It has since returned to its golden glory. After enjoying the cathedral’s breathtaking interior, visitors who climb the steps of the church’s colonnade can also enjoy a magnificent view of the city.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral was confiscated and converted to a museum after the Russian Revolution. While still a museum, it has returned to occasional service as a church during major feast days.

We thank Will Martinez for sharing his trip with WOW!

WOW us With Your Spring Break Trip!

Hillsborough County School District’s Spring Break runs from March 10-14. If you’re heading of state on a fun adventure, be sure to take WOW along for the fun. Send in a photo of you holding WOW (and include a sentence or two identifying where it’s taken) and you can win between $40 to $100.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase Artists Welcome New Member

At the January meeting of the Westchase Artists Society, new member Jeanne LePensee shared examples of her work while explaining the role art has played in her life.

Having fallen in love with art as a child, LePensee was encouraged to develop her talents by her mother, who was a portrait artist. Her recent retirement from a career in fashion merchandising has enabled her to once again focus on her artwork. Working in watercolors, colored pencils and Chinese brush painting, LePensee enjoys creating landscapes.

Congratulations to Vanessa Montenegro, one of the founding members of the Westchase Artists Society! Vanessa recently opened her own studio at 12617 Bassbrook Lane in the Sweetbay Plaza on Countryway Boulevard and Race Track Road. In addition to using the space for her own painting and drawing, Montenegro will be teaching art classes for both children and adults at all skill levels.

The artists’ next group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at the Upper Tampa Bay Library. Please visit http://www.westchaseartists.com for more information about the evening’s agenda. You can also friend the group on Facebook to stay updated on group activities.

The Westchase Artists Society is open to all types of visual artists from Upper Tampa Bay. Those interested in learning more about the group are invited to drop by a monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library on Countryway Boulevard. Bring your creativity and a sample of your artwork to share.

By Teresa Trubilla

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