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

WCA Director Kathy Carlsen Dies

After a brief illness, recently elected Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Kathy Carlsen of Glencliff died on Saturday, March 21.

After a number of years serving as Glencliff’s voting member, Carlsen ran for the WCA Board in September 2014, one of two residents who defeated incumbents running for reelection. In addition to her service on the WCA Board, she regularly attended the monthly meetings of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD).

Speaking for the WCA Board, Westchase Voting Members and WCA staff, WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga stated, “It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the loss of WCA board member, Kathy Carlsen, who passed away on Saturday, March 21, after a short illness. Kathy, one of Westchase’s most active and dedicated volunteers, consistently advocated for fiscal responsibility and owners’ rights as a voting member and then as a member of the WCA Board.”

Arrillaga added, “The board, along with the voting members and WCA management office, wish to extend our deepest condolences to her family, especially to her husband Ken.”

Arrillaga also informed WOW that, per Carlsen’s wishes, there will be no memorial service.

Carlsen is survived by her children from a previous marriage, several siblings and her husband, Ken Morse.

By Chris Barrett


Please login or register to post a comment.

VMs Discuss Guideline Amendments and Notification Process

Twenty-one Westchase Voting Members (VMs) attended the St. Patrick’s Day VM meeting on Tuesday, March 17, where they discussed the proper process for submitting guideline amendments for public notice in WOW.

The monthly meeting normally occurs on the second Tuesday of each month but was moved because it fell during Hillsborough County School District’s spring break.

VMs opened major action by quickly and unanimously approving proposed neighborhood-specific guideline changes for Castleford’s Storm Doors and Keswick Forest’s Mailbox Guidelines.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Joaquin Arrillaga reported that on Monday, March 16, Arrillaga, WCA Director Joe Odda, VM Eric Holt (Radcliffe) and former WCA Director Darrick Sams met with Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman. They presented her with the petition that residents signed in support of Westchase road paving. It had 927 signatures. Arrillaga said that Murman was impressed with the organization of Westchase and reported, “We should be expecting to see something happening at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”

VM Patrick O’Brien (Glenfield) asked if Westchase had ever had someone look into the environment, neighborhoods and soil within Westchase to provide people with tips, information and best practices to help them manage their grass better. He said that residents in his neighborhood get violations regarding their grass but that it can be difficult to maintain St. Augustine grass. VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) suggested that the University of Florida had an excellent Web site with great information for Florida lawn care – It wa.s also suggested that O’Brien contact Westchase’s own master gardener, Shelly Stein, who organizes monthly presentations at the UTB Regional Library. Arrillaga said that a few people could get together to discuss ideas if that was warranted. O’Brien said he would do some research and report back to the group.

VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) brought up an issue about a proposed change to the Westchase guideline regarding external security cameras. He began, “Every time we change a guideline, it goes through a process. Personally, I love the amendment and will do all I can to make it go through but it should follow the process.”

Citing the fact that the association manager submitted wording for a proposed amendment to WOW prior to VMs’ review of its wording, Quiros stated, “The WOW should never present any changes to our documents unless they receive a copy of the minutes where it was approved by the voting members.”

The security camera guideline currently reads as follows:

2.1.26 External Security Cameras

External security cameras shall be dome or mini-bullet style and shall be attached to the main structure of the home or the soffit. They shall be an integral part of the house and not distract from its architecture or appearance. Number of cameras shall be limited to one per household door entry, including those on the lanai. Location of cameras shall be approved by the Modification Committee. In no event shall an external camera be installed, utilized, pointed, positioned or oriented in part or all at another Association Member’s doors, windows or outdoor porches, pools or decks so that the camera lens films, videos, or captures images in part or all over a maximum of six (6) foot fence on the property of either the Member using the camera or any other Member.

Quiros’ motion was to change the wording of the first sentence of the guideline to read, “External security cameras shall be dome or mini-bullet style or a comparable style that does not exceed 5 inches by 5 inches and shall be attached to the main structure of the house or the soffit.”

The intent of Quiros’ motion was to allow for enhancements and changes in external camera types. He added, “Westchase is 20 years old and we should keep an eye on new things.”

VM Holt asked, “Why wouldn’t it have gone through the normal process?”

Dale Sells, who is on the Modifications Committee, stood and addressed the group. “There were some folks on the last go around who got violations for security systems that didn’t get approved. We had three or four at the last meeting. They submitted their [modification request] but there was no way that the Mod Committee could approve it. We had to have it get to the WOW for the April 1 publication because if we didn’t get it in, we would have to wait another month. This woman’s security system was already in place. Those specific styles were out of date because there are smaller ones available. You can blame the Mod Committee. We could not approve their systems because of the language and we didn’t want to wait.”

Quiros responded, “That is precisely why I made the motion. I agree with the amendment.”

VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges), however, said, “There are other ways to handle this. The Covenants Committee probably would not fine her if there was movement in place to change the guideline. There are other ways to handle it than going around the voting members.”

Sells replied, “We had no intent to circumvent the process.”

Mary Griffin (Single Family Homes of West Park Village) added, “Normally this meeting occurs earlier in the month so we could have approved it and gotten it to the WOW prior to the deadline for appearing in April.”

Despite the conflict around the process being followed, VMs voted unanimously to approve Quiros’s guideline change.

Subsequent to the meeting, WOW notified WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga that the public notices for all three approved guidelines were submitted by the WCA management team to run for the first time in April’s WOW. Under Article XII of Westchase’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, public notice of guideline changes must appear in WOW at least six days prior to their consideration of VMs for approval. Arrillaga committed to bringing the matter before VMs again to ensure that the association observed the proper public notice requirements for changes to Westchase rules.

VMs adjourned at 7:37 p.m.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Pressure Forces Weak Amendment to State Bill on Security Cameras

While Westchase opposition forced an amendment to a proposed law in mid-March, a bill before the Florida legislature could still significantly affect resident access to CDD security camera footage.

Historically, the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) has made available copies of its security footage – or information gleaned from it – to help Westchase residents who have faced burglaries or property damage. Harbor Links and The Greens currently have security cameras and cameras will be added to Stonebridge and Saville Rowe in March.

Under Senate Bill 962 (, sponsored by Westchase’s state senator, John Legg, (R., Dist. 17) their footage would be declared “confidential.” Further, the bill’s original language would have barred even residents from accessing security camera information. Legg put the bill forward with the resident restriction at the request of Ballantrae CDD.

When word of the bill reached Westchase, a number of residents and two Westchase CDD supervisors, Chair Mark Ragusa and Brian Ross, contacted Legg’s legislative aide, Rich Reidy, to protest the resident exclusion.

Legg subsequently offered an amendment on March 17. While maintaining the confidentiality provisions and the exemption of CDD security camera footage from Florida public records laws, it stated that the districts “may” turn over the security footage to residents. The phrasing however, would leave the decision to CDDs, which would no longer be compelled to share the information with residents as Florida law currently requires.

Yet the unclear confidentiality clause – and potential legal issues arising from it – could cause most CDDs not to share the information at all to contain costs and liability. “The issue for a resident is not just having access to the recording, but actually having the recording as a usable tool to solve a problem,” observed Ross in an e-mail to Reidy. “The legal concept of ‘confidentiality’ is significant and, because of that significance, is a basis for legal disputes.” Ross added these disputes could lead to legal costs that could be passed on to residents and commercial property owners – or, to avoid them entirely, districts may stop sharing camera information.

Ross cited recent issues with school bus stops at the front of The Greens. Stating that the district might have used Greens security cameras to highlight safety issues to the school district, the confidentiality clause might make this more complicated. Ross stated, "Under the proposed bill, whether amended or not, the CDD would be barred from sharing any statutorily defined recordings with the School District to assist in analyzing and solving the issue - a horrible result!"

Also pointing out that the bill’s language still made it optional for CDDs to share security camera footage with residents, Ross stated, “I don't think the amendment is resident or business friendly.”

At deadline Senate Bill 962 was still working its way through committee. Reidy responded by stating the senator and his staff would welcome Westchase resident input. Residents can reach Reidy at and weigh in with Legg here:

Note: A companion bill, filed in the Florida House, would ban even district residents from accessing information from the district's security cameras. That bill was filed by Rep. Daniel Burgess (R., Dist. 38), who represents Ballantrae. Contact information for Burgess can be found here:

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Bill Before Florida Legislature Could End Westchase Resident Access to CDD Security Camera Footage

A bill being pushed by the Ballantrae Community Development District and currently sponsored by Westchase’s state senator, John Legg (R.), if passed unchanged, could slam the door on Westchase residents’ access to Westchase CDD security camera footage at their security gates.

Historically, the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) has made available copies of its security footage – or information gleaned from it – to assist residents of Harbor Links/The Estates who have faced burglaries or property damage. Residents of gated neighborhoods such as Harbor Links pay specific assessments to cover all costs associated with their gates, including its security cameras.

In addition to Harbor Links, The Greens has cameras. The neighborhoods of Stonebridge and Saville Rowe will install them in March.

When reached by WOW, Harbor Links Voting Member Nancy Sells said she would prefer that her residents would still have access to security camera information through CDD staff. She stated she would be contacting her homeowners to let them know about the bill.

The short bill, known as SB 962 (See would declare CDD security camera footage confidential and exempt it from Florida’s sunshine law, the state statute that ensures public access to government records. Citing the rationale for declaring footage confidential, the bill states, “Without the public records exemption, coverage and other technical aspects of the surveillance system would be revealed and would make it easier for individuals who wish to evade detection by the surveillance systems to do so. As such, the Legislature finds that it is a public necessity to prohibit the disclosure of such surveillance recordings held by a community development district.”

The bill, Senate Bill 962, is currently in committee. When reached this morning, Senator Legg’s legislative assistant, Rich Reidy, said the senator and his staff would welcome Westchase resident input on the proposed legislation. Senator Legg can be reached via his Senate page,

Reidy can be reached via e-mail at

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Preparing 2015 Resident and Business Directory

Were you in last year’s WOW Resident Directory? If not, now’s the time to take action!

Click here to access the Resident Directory form!

In preparation for the 2015 Westchase Resident and Business Directory (a phone directory for Westchase), 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 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 2014 directory. If your entry already ran correctly in 2014 directory, you need to do nothing; your information will be automatically included again in the 2015 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


Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Handles Resident Fine Appeals and Tennis Court Usage Rules

Trash can troubles, tennis program growing pains, and a request for an extended POD stay were topics at the March 12 Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board meeting.

WCA Vice President Ken Blair chaired the meeting in WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga’s absence. Directors Kathy Carlsen and Brian Ross were also absent.

Harbor Links residents asked the board to extend the time they could place a POD storage unit in front of their home from one week to four weeks. The residents said that they were replacing the floors in their home and the contractor had estimated that the project would take three weeks. The residents said they had a very long driveway and that the POD would be placed close to their home on the driveway.

Board treasurer Dyan Pithers said that she had replaced the floors in her home and had moved furniture from room to room to comply with the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs), which state that storage containers can only be in front of homes for one week. She said that she did not think that it was a good idea to make an exception because then it was difficult to enforce the community’s rules.

The residents said that there was a house down the street from them with construction going on and that there was a huge dumpster and a toilet in the front yard that had been there for a month. Blair pointed out that the CCRs state that there is an exception for construction.

At that point the residents walked out of the meeting before a motion about their request could be made.

Board members heard from residents from The Fords and the Bridges who had received violation notices for exposed trashcans. The Fords resident said that she did not want to put her trashcan in her garage because she previously had a rodent problem. She said that the trashcans were concealed by hedges until she cut them back to prevent break-ins and that once the hedges were trimmed, the trashcans could be seen from the street. She stated she remedied the problem by requesting smaller trashcans from Republic Services and they were now fully hidden behind the hedges.

The Fords resident said that he had been confused by the first notices – thinking that he had received them because the trashcans had not been put away in an expedient manner and that he had no idea that the trashcans were supposed to be hidden from view. Blair told him that the CCRs stated that trashcans should be hidden from view and that they should only be placed out from 6 p.m. the night before trash service until 6 p.m. the day of service. The resident said that he understood now and that the trash cans were hidden from view.

Board members voted unanimously to suspend both fines as long as they do not reoccur within 12 months.

Board members discussed an appeal from a West Park Village resident concerning a portable air conditioning unit placed in the windows of the townhouse. The resident sent a letter stating that she did not live on the property and that a contractor had placed the units in the windows and then did not remove them. The fine remained when the board took no action.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Joe Odda reported that 927 people had signed a petition asking the county government to repave Westchase roads. All directors voted to approve a letter stating that the WCA supports the petition and Westchase residents. Odda, Arrillaga, Radcliffe Voting Member Eric Holt and former WCA director and previous GAC Chair Darrick Sams will present the letter and the petition to county commissioners on Monday, March 16.

Odda reported on the first GO Hillsborough open house/workshop he attended on Feb. 19. The public meetings, aimed at developing a county transportation plan, were established by the Hillsborough County Transportation for Economic Development. (See article, page 14.)

Odda added that the county would be holding a public meeting about a proposed area dog park on March 26 at the Upper Tampa Bay (UTB) library. He said that Hillsborough county staff had narrowed the choices down to three locations: Westwood Lakes Park, the Northwest HART Transfer Station on Waters Avenue, and land adjacent to the Northwest YMCA on Waters Avenue. Odda said that residents of Westwood Lakes had told the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department that they did not want the dog park in their area. He encouraged all Westchase residents to attend the meeting to make their opinions known.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that she was working with contractors to begin renovations to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center tennis courts and construction of the tennis cabana there. She said that every effort would be made to keep the disruption to tennis players to a minimum. She stated they hoped to start renovations on the courts April 1.

Sainz also reported that the Westchase summer activity camps were open for registration. Camps will start June 8 with full and half-days available. To sign up, visit


Swim and Tennis Center Operations Manager Kelly Shires told the board that the Westchase tennis court usage rules needed revising due to the program’s popularity. The rules previously stated that two courts at each facility should be left open for resident reservations. Shires asked for more court usage for tournaments. During the earlier resident forum, Swim and Tennis Center Committee member Mary Turnbull asked the board to keep the rules as they were so that residents would be able to play tennis.

Blair said that he was very happy that the program was so successful but that the residents should be able to use Westchase amenities. He wondered if the timeframe for tournaments could be extended. Pithers suggested that instead of reserving two courts at each location, all four open resident courts be maintained at West Park Village, thus allowing the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center courts for tournaments.

She added that the issue had come up several times during her board tenure. She said that the board served the residents and that she did not think allowing the tournament program to reserve all the courts was serving the residents. She said that they had to find a balance between supporting both residents and the tennis teams and programs.  Odda made a motion to allow the use of all six courts at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center for tournaments two days a month for no more than four hours. Pithers said she didn’t think they needed to put a time or day limit on it and amended the motion to state that four courts be available at all times for residents. All board members voted in favor of the amended motion to allow the tennis program to use the courts at either location based on need as long as at least four courts were kept open for residents.

Tennis Pro Roberto Calla pointed out that there was also an issue because they needed to use all the courts for student lessons. The board said that was a separate issue and encouraged Shires to present a proposal for daily court usage at the next meeting.

Director and WOW WCA representative Keith Heinemann recommended reappointing Jonathan Stein and Teresa Trubilla to the WOW Board. He said that while someone with a very impressive resume had volunteered, he felt the current board worked really well together to produce a great product.

All board members voted to accept the association’s insurance policy from Lanier Upshaw.

At the end of the meeting Mary Griffin told the board that she was disappointed that they had a habit of suspending violation fines that the Covenants Committee had upheld. Pithers said that the board appreciated the Covenants Committee’s work but that she felt the board’s responsibility was to make sure residents followed the rules, not fine them.

The WCA Board meetings are open to the public. The next one is scheduled for April 9 at 7 p.m. at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford


Please login or register to post a comment.

Homegrown Heroes

It is no surprise The Boys in the Boat has spent 37 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Sportswriter Daniel James Brown’s real-life saga of determination and teamwork exhibits all the drama of a gripping novel.

The book chronicles the heroic pursuit of an Olympic gold medal by the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew. At first taking on Ivy League challengers and then the gloried German team, these boys from farms, logging towns and shipyard communities recast the sport, riveted Americans and stunned the world.

Brown forges his story from parallel events. He conjures up youthful dreams of the team members in contrast to the economic horrors of the Great Depression and juxtaposes the evolution of a world-class Washington crew team against the Nazis’ preparations for the games. The narrative builds to a hold-your-breath climax at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

In this character-centered book the author draws from the boys' own journals, newspaper reports and photos to weave individual stories into the larger account. He includes cameos, including British boat-maker George Pocock and UW men’s varsity coach, Al Ulbrickson. But at the heart of the tale is the life of Joe Rantz – a farm boy without prospects. Rantz relies on a part-time job at the boathouse to stay at the university, a position requiring him to earn a place on the rowing team. What starts as a necessity becomes a passion as he is drawn in by the discipline and challenge of the sport.

Despite offering an engaging story, The Boys in the Boat has weaknesses. Vivid details of the art and craft of rowing and boat building are at first fascinating. But repetitive technical descriptions become tedious, slowing the pace of the book. Omitting redundant minutia would create a livelier story.

Additionally, although Brown is an effective storyteller, he is less adept at presenting “life lessons.” His use of Pocock’s pithy observations, particularly as chapter epigraphs, comes across as preachy. A subtle approach would be more convincing.

Yet even with its shortcomings this book tells a wonderful story. Once you read it, you’ll want to recommend it to your friends.

By Carol Collins


Please login or register to post a comment.

Stewart Sixth Grade Math Team Wins League Competition

Fox 13's Charley Belcher was live at Stewart Middle Magnet School on Monday, Feb. 2, because Stewart is a cool school!

Belcher spoke with the four sixth grade students who represented the Stewart Math League team at the District Competition held at MOSI on Dec. 9, 2014. The competition consisted of both group and individual parts. Stewart’s team, pictured here, took first place in team competition for District 3 and claimed the overall most points in all four districts.

Stewart’s sixth grade math league team is preparing to compete in May on the seventh grade level.

By Andrea Piacitelli


Please login or register to post a comment.

Rules for Dating My Daughters

I walked out of the house with Elf, 12, and Bee, 9, and unlocked the car.

I turned to look. The Sophomore, who had spent the last 45 minutes pleading for a ride to the mall, was hiding inside the front door.

“Are you coming?”

She gestured wildly, making throat slashing gestures and stabbing the air with her finger.

I looked up.

“No, Dad.” Elf sighed from the back seat and jerked her head to the right. “Over there.” 

Down the street Jacob, our neighbors’ college-aged son, stood poking at his smartphone in his driveway. He looked up at the commotion.

I waved.

Still hidden from sight, The Sophomore flew into a spasm of wide-eyed gesticulations. She appeared to be waving a handful of airliners in for a joint carrier landing. Then she slammed a hand over her own mouth like she was abducting herself. Her other hand threw an imaginary noose around her head and yanked it upward.

“She either just got a text about an American Eagle sale,” Elf interpreted. “Or she’s completely lost it.”

“Are you coming?” I called.

She began shooing me away.

“You asked for a ride to the mall!”

She dramatically mouthed the words in a silent scream: OH! MY! GAHD! Then she rushed the car and leapt inside.

I slid in and buckled my seatbelt.

“What are you waiting for?!” The Sophomore beat the dashboard in earnest. “Let’s go!”

“So now you’re in a hurry?”

She emitted some guttural gibberish.

We drove past Jacob, which clearly called for me to slow down and wave again. The Sophomore slunk into her seat.

“He’s lived in that same house your whole life. If memory serves, you once even shared a baby pool in our driveway.”

“Eww!” Elf and Bee groaned in unison.

I pressed the point. “You’re allowed to say hello to Jacob. It’s actually how polite adults interact.”

“No way!” The Sophomore said. “He’s totally bae.”

“Mr. Totally Bae stopped shaving,” Bee observed brightly. “It looks like a squirrel is living under his chin.”

“He’s also four years older than you,” said Elf, a.k.a., The Sledgehammer of Reality.

“Dad is four years older than mom!”

“That’s just gross,” Elf said. “It’s like a high school freshman dating a fifth grader.”

“I was 27,” I protested.

“Don’t even bother.”

“You shouldn’t talk,” The Sophomore lectured. “You’re crushing on an oboe player in seventh grade.”

“One year older is not gross!” Elf retorted.

“I think she’s mocking the fact that your man plays the oboe,” I clarified.

“He’s not my man!” she sputtered. “You guys are as evil as my best friends!”

For the fifth time in 10 days, Elf launched into a dramatic reenactment of the morning her EBFFs outed her love for Totally Ignored Oboe Boy to the entire woodwinds section, making her life a mortifying hell on steroids.

“They ruined everything!” she spat.

“That’s nothing,” poo-pooed Bee. “A few weeks ago, Dad and I were our bikes home from the park…”

It was a sunny afternoon. Stopping at the playground, Bee and I happened to encounter one of the boys she’s known since second grade.

“Isn’t that Lucas?” I asked.

“Yes.” Bee’s curt, Dowager Crawley tone made clear I’d be deeply foolish to press the matter.

Bee duly ignored Lucas and went about her impressive gymnastics display.

When Lucas passed us on the monkey bars, the poor kid even made an attempt at a cool, fourth-grade head-bob-greeting. Poorly executed, he appeared to be chasing his chin around the playground.

At least until he decided to run full tilt beneath the chin-up bar. Forgetting he’d grown three inches in the last year, Lucas caught the bar in the forehead, leading to some very cool ground writhing.

Still ignored.

Biking home, we flew past Bruised Bobblehead Lucas a final time.

And ignored him some more.

Ahead on my bike, I glanced back to make sure Bee had not been abducted.

She was still pedaling and ignoring Lucas admirably.

I turned the corner and glanced back again.

Bee had vanished!

My brakes squealed. “Bee?” I cried.



Like the double-cut pizza at a middle school party.

Bike and all.

A squeak caused me to dash over to some nearby bushes. Bee was flailing like a turtle on its back, her bike pinning her inside the hedges. Her bike helmet, which she wears loose because it looks infinitely cooler that way, had slid over her face.

“Are you OK!?” I cried, pulling her to her feet.

“Of course,” the Dowager Countess of Grantham responded, straightening her hat. She sounded like she was about to throw in a curt “thank you for your time” – like I’d just blown my job interview for first footman.

I looked at her suspiciously. “Are you sure?”

“Dad!” she growled.

Bee leapt back onto her bike. Before I could get on mine, she had beaten me home. As I rolled into the garage, she burst into tears.

I rushed over. “Where did you get hurt? Your knees? Or your elbows?”

Sobbing, she took a sucked a deep, anguished breath. “MY CRUSH SAW ME FALL!”

A typical guy, I had completely forgotten the most important thing.

I have some simple Rules for Dating My Daughters. You have to be a good and generous kid. You must accept women as equals. You must get A’s and B’s on your report card. And you’ve got to avoid drugs and alcohol.

And, for your own safety, chin-up bars.

And you gotta do better than my daughters’ doofus Dad.

You must never – ever – forget their hearts.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Fifth Annual Westchase Easter Egg Hunt March 29

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

This year’s Easter Egg Hunt, benefitting the American Cancer Society, will take place on Sunday, March 29, from 1-4 p.m. at the Westchase Rec Center. All children who are elementary school-aged and younger are welcome to participate in the egg hunt and activities. We will also have dodgeball arenas courtesy of TNL Crossfit Tampa, set up for older children ages 5 and up.  Bring the whole family, including your middle or high schooler for a day of fun. 

Each child is asked to bring his or her own basket for the Easter Egg Hunt, which will take place in groups starting at 1:30 p.m. and run every 45 minutes. We ask for a $10 donation per child made payable to American Cancer Society.

You can even purchase your very own keepsake photo with our bunny.  Mary Ebert Photography will be there to capture the memory. 

Activities leading up to the egg hunt will include a bounce house, face painting, sack races, various games, food, beverages and much more. This year with your $10 donation you will receive 20 tickets to use at any booth during the event along with a wristband for the egg hunt. 

Please check out our Facebook event: 5th Annual Westchase Egg Hunt and R.S.V.P. to the event for updates. All donations are tax deductible.  If you have a business that would like to help sponsor the event, please e-mail

Last year students from Alonso High School and Davidsen Middle School came together to host the fourth annual Westchase Easter Egg Hunt to benefit American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Together they raised over $3,500! This year they hope to do even better.

Come out with your family to the Fifth Annual Westchase Easter Egg Hunt and participate in this Westchase tradition. Residents with questions are invited to e-mail

We thank the staff at the Westchase Rec Center for their help in making this annual event another one to remember.  Don’t miss out! Come join us and see what else we have in store!

By Noah Drake and Austin Urso


Please login or register to post a comment.

March Eagle Scout Project Creates Kids Identification Kits for Interested Parents

Two campouts and the arrival of crossover Scouts kept Troop 46 busy in January.

The first campout of the month was for the new crossover Webelo Scouts to get a feel for what Scouting has to offer. They enjoyed activities that included tomahawk throwing, basic knot tying and fire-starting. The overall tone for the campout was laid back and welcoming. Most of the Webelo Scouts will cross over this month.

The second campout in January was the Troop’s hiking/backpacking campout. It included a five-mile hike for the younger Scouts and a 15-mile hike for those older Scouts that can complete high adventure courses. Both of the hikes were a little longer than expected but were lots of fun. The longer hike went about 18 miles, while the shorter was about seven miles.

Jacob Doty will conduct his Eagle Scout project on March 21 at Westchase Recreation Center. The project will make kids’ identification kits that include their picture and fingerprint. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to have their identification kits made. The project will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Troop 46 has weekly Troop meetings on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Citrus Park. To learn more about Scouting, and for more information about Boy Scout Troop 46, please contact Scoutmaster Scott Doster at

By Drew Hatch


Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso Flag Football Hoping for Another Championship Season

Alonso High School’s flag-football program began as a novelty. Now it’s a dynasty.

In the program’s seven seasons, the Ravens have three times been to the state’s final eight in Tallahassee, twice finishing as state runners-up. Currently they’re working on a streak of five consecutive district titles.

Ravens coach Matt Hernandez said his emphasis always focuses on giving players an early introduction to the program, mostly because many girls don’t grow up playing flag football and gaining experience is vital. Five years ago Alonso began participating in the summer AAU circuit, journeying around the state to compete in tournaments.

The foundation has paid off handsomely. Alonso has featured three of the past five Tampa Tribune Hillsborough County players of the year. And now, it has become the county’s first program to capture five consecutive district titles in flag football, while building an overall record of 77-25.

The Ravens are expected to be a state contender again this season, which begins with a four-team preseason tournament on March 6 at Alonso (also featuring Robinson, Apopka and Boca Ciega), then continues with the regular-season opener against Plant on March 17.

“Our players put in a lot of work and preparation,’’ Hernandez said. “We expect to win.’’

And this season should be no different.

The Ravens have a good mix of veterans and new players from Westchase and nearby communities, including junior Dylan Duval (The Enclave), freshman Bailey Jones (The Fords), freshman Katie Morello (The Fords) and junior Courtney Tormeno (Sheffield). 

“I knew about the tradition, so that was very attractive to me,’’ said Duval, a wide receiver and cornerback. “It’s a bunch of athletes coming from sports such as volleyball, soccer, softball and track and there’s quite a bit of talent. But it’s just a different feel than the other sports.

“It’s a fun thing to do. We’re doing what we love. Winning a state championship is a good goal for us, but it’s baby steps on the way there. You have to put in the work.’’

Tormeno, mostly a soccer player, was sought by the Alonso flag football coaches. At first, she was skeptical. But after two seasons with the Ravens, she said, “This sport changed everything for me.’’

“It’s different than any other sport I’ve ever been part of,’’ said Tormeno, a cornerback and slot receiver. “We are very close-knit. I look at my teammates as family.

“Some sports are full of drama. Not this one. We all get along and everyone works together so perfectly. It’s exciting to get attention around the school. Our athletic director (Brian Grantham) really makes sure we get noticed and we appreciate it. I was a little nervous when I started, but everybody made me feel welcomed and I fit right in.’’

That welcoming aspect has continued.

Morello and Jones, both freshmen, said the transition was smooth.

“The coaches and teammates work to build trust,’’ Morello said. “Beyond that, you just have to be coachable. It isn’t that widely known of a sport, so a lot of girls come into it not knowing how to play football.

“If you adjust to what the coaches are teaching and utilize your athletic ability, it doesn’t matter how old you are. No one really has an advantage. You’re starting out on the same foot.’’

Jones, a softball player and track athlete, said she “knew nothing’’ prior to the first flag-football program, but felt “welcomed with open arms.’’

“I heard this was a great thing to be part of and now I can see why,’’ Jones said. “It’s easy to feel intimidated when you’re a freshman and you’ve never played the sport before. But you find your confidence pretty quickly. The coaches put us in position to succeed.’’

As always, Alonso’s success is not necessarily derived from the glamorous moments.

“This is a program that puts a priority on doing the small things well,’’ Tormeno said. “We do a lot of simple drills, but we do them until it is perfect. These things pop up in the games and we’re all very fundamentally sound.

“Our goal is to peak at the end of the season. The coaches know how much we want it (winning a state title). They don’t have to say it. But we have learned that it starts with hard work and attention to detail. That’s the main reason our program has been so good.’’

By Joey Johnston


Please login or register to post a comment.

March 2014 Programs at the UTB Library


Toddler Time (Ages 2-3 with caregiver): Mon, March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 10:15 a.m.; Tue, March 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 at 10:15 a.m.; Wed, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 11 a.m.
Story Time (Ages 3-5): Tue, March 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, at 11 a.m.
Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Tue, 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, at 1:15 p.m.; Wed, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, 1:15 p.m.
Wee Artists: Thu, March 5, 12, 19 and 26, at 1:15 p.m.
LEGO Block Party: Mon, March 9, at 3:30 p.m.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss: Mon, March 2, at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
• Join this whimsical, Seussical dreamsicle with stories, games, and activities.
Grossology: Mon, March 23, at 3:30 p.m.
• Learn gross facts, make gross projects, and have a whole lot of gross fun!


Teen Advisory Board: Tue, March 3 and 17, at 4:30 p.m.
For the Win: Mon, March 30, at 4:30 p.m.
• Participate in minute-long contests based on the TV show Minute to Win It.


The Art of Peter Stilton: All month in the Library Art Gallery
Thai Chi With Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, March 5 and 12, at 1:30 p.m.
Job Support Group: Wed, March 4 and 18, at 10 a.m.
Sahaja Meditation: Sat, March 7, 14, 21 and 28, at 10:30 a.m.
Book Discussion: Mon, March 16, at 11 a.m.
• Join us to discuss The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.
Master Gardener Series: Orchids, Beyond the Basics: Wed, March 11, at 6:30 p.m.
• A look at the hybrids that will grow in your home.
Computer Classes:
Tech Boulevard: Tue, March 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, at 2:30 p.m.
• Ongoing training in computer and software basics.
Google–Utilities: Tue, March 3, at 6:30 p.m.
Freegal–Free and Legal Music Downloads: Tue, March 10, at 6:30 p.m.
Introduction to eBooks and eReaders: Tue, March 17, at 6:30 p.m.
• Learn about USB storage devices and transfer digital content.
PowerPoint–Introduction: Tue, March 24, at 6:30 p.m.
PowerPoint–Creating Slides: Tue, March 31, at 6:30 p.m.


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.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Ravens Cheerleaders a Jump Above the Rest!

The Alonso Competition Cheerleading Squad had another incredible season! 

Under the direction of their coaches, Karrie Hawkins and Marcus Knight, the girls worked extremely hard and ended the season as Regional Champions. They placed second in the Western Conference and third at State. Congratulations to everyone for making it happen! We are looking forward to a great season next year!

Meanwhile, the Ravens wrestling team is “taking down” their season with two upcoming tournaments. On March 6 they will tackle Regionals at Kissimmee and March 13-14 will see our wrestlers competing at State in the same location. Please come and cheer the team on!

The Alonso Band and Dancers are kicking off a lawn service fundraiser to finance program related expenses (e.g., transportation to competitions, instrument maintenance and repairs, purchase of a trailer for transporting instruments and equipment) not funded by the school.  J&M Lawn Service Company will charge you 10 percent less than what you are currently paying and also donate five percent of your monthly billing back to Alonso's Band and Dance Team each month. Check them out and support the band and dancers.

The Alonso Booster Club is seeking parents and coaches to be a part of the 2015-16 board. Many positions are open for various levels of time commitments. If you are interested, please contact the booster club at


Go, Ravens!


3-6 Band FBA MPA
9-13 Spring Break
19-20  Thespian Showcase
21  JROTC Drill
21  Saturday Success Academy
27  End of Third Nine Weeks
28  Raven Pride Day
28  Saturday Success Academy

Visit for more information.

By Belinda Krauss


Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Tennis and Swim Programs Growing

Our tennis programs are flourishing and continue to gain momentum under Coach Roberto and Coach Dan.

The Jr. Tennis team is building a strong base of talented young players with several Hillsborough county championships for Westchase. Adults can join our USTA teams as well as our private and groups lessons. If you have any interest in tennis, now is the time to get involved. We are in the process of completing the tennis court upgrades and improvements are in place.

Our Westchase TBAY swim team has gained momentum, notching many successes in recent swim meets. While the program continues to grow, we still have room for your swimmer. If your child is interested in becoming part of our swim team, please stop by and speak to Coach Alex and his assistant coaches.

We will offer swim lessons starting in the summer. Summer Camp will be offered for 10 weeks and will run from Monday, June 12, through Friday, Aug. 18. Be sure to sign up early to ensure your dates and times.

Information about our programs is offered at or you can call us at 855-0662.

By Kelly Shires, Operations Manager

Shires is the WCA’s Operations Manager and can be reached at

From Your Tennis Pro: The True Measure of Success
Becoming a special team, a great team and a championship team takes more than talent. It takes commitment, effort and an ability to overcome adversity. Talent is not really very important when it comes to putting together a great team. What makes a tennis team special is a sense of playing together, a sense of camaraderie and a sense of doing everything together for each other rather than being concerned about individual goals.

This takes desire and dedication. Most of all it takes sacrifice. Before the season starts, I always ask my players to raise their hands if they want to play singles, to raise their hands if they want to play doubles and to raise their hands if they want to go to nationals and win. When I ask, everyone raises their hands almost immediately. But when I follow up by asking who wants to put in work, practice, drills, commitment, and serve as a back-up player throughout the entire season, almost no one raises their hands. This is a harder question because everyone wants to play. As much as most players want the team to do well, they still primarily want to do well as individuals. We have to fight this if we want to be a great team.

Another lesson I teach my students is to be good leaders and to be a good older brother or sister to their teammates. I ask them that if a teammate is on the verge of making the wrong decision, will they simply let him go? Or are they going to stop and lead him towards the right path? Yes, we do need our younger brothers and sisters to listen, but we need the older siblings to speak up instead of acting like a teammate’s unwise decisions don’t matter – or as if he isn’t a part of the family. As a team, if we lose one person, it will hurt all of us.

In order to win and to play our best, we need unselfish people, caring big brothers and sisters and great leaders. Last, we have to understand that just winning games on the court isn't what life is all about. If all you do is put another trophy in your case, you will not be remembered. It's what you're doing for the long run that counts.

Winning games is not that hard to do; many do it. Winning games while developing a family atmosphere and doing something special together on and off the court – that’s the real challenge and that’s what Westchase tennis is all about.

Who we have impacted and who we have helped tell the real story of how successful we are as a team.

I urge you to ask yourself: what am I doing that’s really significant?

By Roberto Calla, Westchase’s Tennis Pro

Calla, Westchase’s tennis pro, can be reached at


Please login or register to post a comment.

Replacing Your Westchase Lawn

I was visiting a garden center this past week when a gentleman stopped me and asked about the different varieties of plugs to repair his lawn.

Unfortunately, he did not know what type of grass he had, and he seemed a little distressed at my prolonged answers. In this introductory column, I’ll therefore start with the basics.

One of the first questions you should ask before replacing or plugging your lawn is why the lawn died in the first place. Maybe the lawn died because of a broken sprinkler head or system. You may have an insect problem or fungus. In some cases, shade could have caused the lawn to decline over time. All of these problems, singly or in combination, can kill a lawn.

If you purchase new sod at a considerable cost without first figuring out the cause of your lawn’s decline, the grass may just die again.

In order to select the right type of grass, you will also need to do a little work. Walk around your home around midday and see if your grass receives at least six hours of full sun per day. If you have a lot of trees or large ornamental plants shading your property, you might consider using something other than turf grass – if permitted – to fill those areas. Keep in mind, however, that at least 40 percent of Westchase front yards must by St. Augustine sod. In side or back yards, owners have greater flexibility.

Lawns that receive only six hours of full sun per day will limit your choices of grass to shade-tolerant varieties of St. Augustine or Zoysia grass. Shade tolerant St. Augustine cultivars include Bitter Blue, Seville, Delta Shade, Captiva, and Delmar. For shade tolerant Zoysia grass choose De Anza, Diamond, El Toro, and Zorro. If you have less than six hours of full sun per day, you will not be able to grow any of these shade-tolerant cultivars, however. Over time, they will all die off.

Choices are better for areas receiving full-sun areas or more than six hours of direct light per day. Bahia grass can be used in these areas. Bahia can dry out almost completely but will return after a rain or good soaking. In contrast, St. Augustine grass and Zoysia grass will die without irrigation. As long as you have irrigation, then the St. Augustine cultivars you can plant in the full sun are Floratam (my number one choice), Floralawn, Palmetto and Classic. Full-sun Zoysia cultivars for properties with irrigation are Emerald, Empire (I like this one too), and PristineFlora. 

The next thing you will need to know is how to install your new grass. 

Small areas of turf can be plugged relatively easily by St. Augustine, if permitted by the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office (In the case of a deed restriction violation notice, they may require full sodding). St. Augustine grass is the only grass you should propagate by plugs. I never suggest mixing grasses (such as plugging a Bahia lawn with St. Augustine plugs). This will only cause problems down the road. Your garden center may have several varieties of St. Augustine sold as plugs, so be cautious. If you do not know the St. Augustine you cultivar currently growing, you may need to take a sample of your turf to the Cooperative Extension office for identification.

The results of comingling St. Augustine cultivars often aren’t pretty. Co-mingled lawns produce different colors of grass with different growth rates, creating an unkempt appearance. If you cannot identify the St. Augustine cultivar you currently are growing, simply cut out some of the fast-expanding, good grass near your plant beds and use these as plugs. This will save you money, keep your beds looking good, and keep your lawn the same cultivar. This process will not work if you are replacing your entire lawn.

When you replace an entire lawn, you will need to kill off the existing growth and weeds with Round-up. Round-up will eliminate most of the weed grasses you probably have growing and any sedge grass currently still alive. Only keep good-looking areas that are at least 300-400 square feet in size but be cautious about mixing cultivars.

Round-up takes about three weeks to work, and you should wait until all areas are dead before you put down the new sod. If green areas are still visible after this time, then spot treat with Round-up again. Never ever place new sod over the top of old sod, however. While not having the old sod scraped up is a money saver, you will be leaving weed seeds, grasses and diseases in place. Your lawn will also look uneven when you are finished. If you hire a responsible sod company to replace your lawn, they will always clear the old grass first.

Once the grass is scraped up, you may notice grubs or other insects, which may have killed the old turf. You should apply an insecticide and a starter fertilizer over the dirt to control the insects and to give the grass a boost. I would apply Dylox granules for the grubs or other insects and a 6-0-10 fertilizer to give the new grass a good start. Be sure to water these products in lightly to kill the insects before the new sod is installed.

Once the new sod has been delivered to your home, inspect the new turf for color and root mass. If the sod does not look good when they deliver it, it will not perform to your expectations. Look for green open blades and a dark, thick, moist root system that has not dried out. Refuse any portion of the load that does not meet these requirements. Most sod companies warranty the new grass for 30 days. Make sure this is in writing.

Any sod that dies or does not root down by 30 days should be replaced by the sod company. Keep in mind, hiring a pest management company before your warranty is up from the sod company will nullify your sod guarantee. However, after their warranty expires, I strongly recommend you hire a company to spray your turf and feed it regularly. If you are using Bahia or St. Augustine grass, then your lawn will need to be treated every seven weeks. Those of you that have chosen Zoysia grass will need a monthly service to control diseases and insects. 

Also remember that you get what you pay for. When selecting a sod company, shop around. If you make any of the common mistakes illustrated above, your lawn will cost you more money down the road.

Before making any exterior change to your home or yard, also remember you must first seek approval from the WCA’s Modifications Committee. 

Good luck, and remember, without plants, we would not be here!  

By Mark Govan

Mark T. Govan is president of ABC Pest Control Inc. and host of Florida Gardening on NewsRadio 970 WFLA-AM. To learn more, visit<./p>


Please login or register to post a comment.

Pastels Always Work for Spring

Now that it’s March, it’s officially time to start talking about pastels!

Sure, pastels have fallen in and out of favor over the years. While they have even been hot fall and winter trends at times, one season that pastels always work for is spring!

For me spring and pastels go hand in hand. As soon as winter is headed out the door, I get the urge to put my pastels on full display.

From the time we were babies, my mama decked my sister and I out in Easter frocks that were almost always a pretty pastel shade. I’ve found myself continuing that tradition with my own kiddos. At the end of winter each year, I start my search for our family’s Easter duds. While I love pastel pink (I typically turn to pink most often), quite a rainbow of pastels exist from which you can choose.

Take mint for instance...

Mint is a lovely pastel choice for spring. Full disclosure: I have an affinity for mint chocolate chip ice cream. That could be why I love the color so much. In fact, I do believe I’ve touched on that affection in a previous spring column. What can I say? I love my ice cream. Ha!

Yet what would be cuter than a little lady in a mint smocked dress? Not much! You can bet that my baby girl will be rockin’ something along these lines come Easter Sunday.

Plus, pastel dresses pair so well with Easter whites. I’ve been collecting white accessories, like headbands, shoes and cardies to go with my daughter’s spring pastels too. They look awfully adorable with her new spring dresses. Maybe that should be my next topic...spring and summer whites. I’ve already busted out the white denim.

Don’t judge. No white after Labor Day holds no water with me.

Now that I have a good jump on the little one’s spring wardrobe, I need to get going on my own. Pastels are most definitely on my spring must-have list. They always are. Trend or no trend, pastels are a classic that will forever be in style for this girl! In fact, I recently picked up a pink dress coat. If only we actually had more of a winter here in Florida, I’d be able to wear it more.

Here I am, unable to complain about our lovely weather, so I instead complain about only being able to bring out my new pastel coat a handful of times during the year! Are we lucky to be Floridians, or what?

Now if I can just find that perfect pink bag that I’ve been dreaming about all winter…

Happy springtime, lovelies!

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<./p>


Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Bambi!

Bambi lives with the James family in West Park Village and is always ready for a car ride. She also enjoys playing catch and chasing her tail. She is often seen peering out the kitchen window and "greeting" her neighbors who are walking by.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Recreation Center Programs: Spring Schedule


Men’s Basketball League
Join us for our Men’s Basketball League for players 25 and older. The league will run over five weeks beginning March 19 (with an additional week of playoffs). Reversible jerseys will be provided for each team. (Teams can add their own sponsors to jerseys). Rosters are limited to 10 players; register at
. When: Thu, with games at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Ages: 25 or older (3 players can be under 25)
Cost: $425 per team

Insanity "LIVE"
Get ready to dig deeper than you ever thought you could! Certified Insanity Instructor, Kris Alderson will be teaching cardio at its best! (Youth and adults welcome)
When: Tue, 6:30 p.m.; Sat, 7:45 a.m.
Cost: $6/Class

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

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

Adult Open Gym Basketball
When: Tue, 8-9 p.m.; Thu, 6-9 p.m.; Fri, 8-10 a.m.; Sat, 8-11 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Activities

Senior Pickle Ball
Pickle ball is a racquet sport combining elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Tone and Stretch
Engage in social activity while exercising to build strength, flexibility and increase range of motion.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9-10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Walking Club
Enjoy walking indoors at your own pace. Meet new friends and enjoy a morning walk rain or shine.
When: Mon and Wed, 8-9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Adult Senior Field Trips
When: First Thu of every month
Cost: Call center for details.

Toddler Activities
Pint-sized Picassos
Each week focuses on an element of art and offers a unique project that is sure to be a keeper.
When: Tue, 9:15-10 a.m.
Ages: 3-4
Cost: $8/Session

Pre-School Dance
A mixture of jazz, ballet and hip hop to get your preschooler moving! Classes begin March 19.
When: Thu, 9:15-10 a.m.
Ages: 3-5
Cost: $7/Session

Grade 5/Middle School/Teens

Middle School Volleyball Try-Out Clinic
Learn what to expect at a try out and go through the skills and drills you need to do your best! Register at
When: Tue, March 10, 6-8:30 p.m.
Cost: $30

Show on the Road Theatre
A full curriculum of musical theatre, technical theatre and production. Students begin with developing audition skills, character and script analysis. Students have the opportunity to design props, scenery, lighting, costumes and sound. The course concludes with a performance of song and theatre.
When: Wed, 7:30 p.m.
Grades: 5-12
Cost: $10/Session

Dodgeball Fitness and Training
Do you want to become a better dodgeball player? Join us on select Friday evenings and improve your skills. Games are played inside the gym in an enclosed arena with Dodgeball2U! Learn how to play dodgeball and get fit too!
When: Second and Fourth Fri, 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $10

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

Girls and Boys Instructional Basketball
Focus on learning ball-handling skills and competitive games. Character-based program teaches basketball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.
When: Mon, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session
Ages: 11-14

Girls and Boys Instructional Basketball
Focus on learning ball-handling skills and competitive games. Character based program teaches basketball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.
Grades: K-8
When: Mon, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

Girls Elementary Volleyball
Learn the skills and fundamentals of competitive play and have fun.
Ages: Grades 3-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

The Young Apprentice
Each week focuses on an element of art and offers a unique project sure to be a keeper.
When: Sat, 9-10 a.m.; 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Grades: K-5
Cost: $10/Session

Homeschool Art Club
Make art. Make friends. Have fun! Each week will be a new lesson that is appropriate for students in Grades K-5. Please check out the calendar on to see upcoming lessons.
When: Tue, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Grades: K-5
Cost: $10

Show on the Road Theatre
A full curriculum of musical theatre, technical theatre and production. Students begin with developing audition skills, character and script analysis. Students have the opportunity to design props, scenery, lighting, costumes and sound. The course concludes with a performance of song and theatre.
When: Wed, 6:30 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.
Grades: 1-4
Cost: $10/Session

All activities take place at:

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


Please login or register to post a comment.

One for the Road

Traveling does not have to be an excuse to avoid exercise.

When you travel for business or vacation, you may find you have greater energy and improved sleep if you sprinkle exercise into your day. Depending on the reason for your travel, the exercise may be tapered or not as consistent, but doing something can improve the quality your time away.

Brentford resident Linda Weisman is a Senior Learning and Development Specialist who travels an average of three months per year. "I always book a hotel that has a gym so I can use the treadmill,” she says.

Linda enjoys walking for exercise. She says the fact that she eats most meals out when traveling is motivation for her to be consistent with her workouts.

If you are going on a ski trip (and actually ski), exercise is built into your travel. When you are traveling for business or your vacation travel has no scheduled exercise, however, other options always exist. I recently called a local community college while on the road. They offered a daily pass for a very small fee. Their accommodations included an indoor track.

Glenfield resident Connie Johnson is on the road two to three days a week. "I am diligent about going to the hotel gym before I work each day when I travel,” she says.

Her workout includes elliptical or stationary bike and 10 to 15 minutes of weights. Since Connie travels regularly, she prefers going to the gym when she is on the road. When she is home she enjoys spending more time with her husband and family. Connie also believes her workouts give her the energy to travel and counter work dinners. “I could not imagine travel without working out.”

A few options to exercise while traveling are:

• Carry resistance bands, which are light weight and do not take up room in your suitcase.
• Use your body weight to perform exercises like pushups, jumping jacks, planks and squats.
• Use the fitness facility provided on site.
• Climb stairs if you are in a multi-level facility.
• Walk/run the hotel garage ramp if you are in a multi-level facility
• Walk/run outside.
• Find a local fitness facility where you can pay by the day or week.

By Shannon Thigpen

Shannon is a Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist who teaches at the YMCA and trains privately. Visit<./p>


Please login or register to post a comment.

From Georgia to Honduras

Last July found WOW visiting a national park in Georgia and an orphanage in Honduras.

Located in Helen, Georgia, Anna Ruby Falls sits within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The falls saw a visit by the Vijaywargi family, whose boys posed beside the visitor center there.

Anna Ruby Falls mark the junction of Curtis and York Creeks. The creeks begin on Tray Mountain, tumbling 153 and 50 feet respectively over the falls before flowing into Unicoi Lake and the Chattahoochee River. While the base of the falls can be reached by the challenging 4.6 mile Smith Creek Trail, a half-mile, paved trail, located off the visitor’s center parking lot, leads to two viewing decks from which tourists can view the falls.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen, Georgia is a recreation of a German Alpine village. The Bavarian-styled town features over 200-themed shops as well as mountain cabins that are close to hiking on the Appalachian Trail and tubing along the Chattahoochee River.

July also saw Baylin Kwan of The Vineyards and Jordan Smart of Keswick Forest taking WOW along on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. The two high school students, one from Steinbrenner and the other from Alonso, spent a week at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) - an orphanage just outside San Pedro de Macoris. The orphanage is one of nine different NPH orphanages serving 3,300 children in Latin America.  Explained Lori Smart, “They spent their mornings working odd jobs around the orphanage, and then ate lunch with the children.  The afternoons were spent playing and talking with many of the 90 children, who ranged in age from 3 to 20.”

The story of their service trip, and how it inspired Baylin Kwan to establish an Interact Club (a service club) at Alonso, ran in the September 2014 WOW. For more information about NPH in Honduras, visit


We thank the Vijaywargis as well as Jordan Smart and Baylin Kwan for sharing their travels 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. Simply e-mail the photos and brief description to

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Shining in Seminole Heights

Move over, Soho. Seminole Heights has become a vibrant, established food scene – one now featuring some added shine.

As in Fodder & Shine.

Food visionaries have taken advantage of Seminole Heights’ modest rents to establish something beyond Tampa’s reputation as the birthing ground for national Midwestern-type chains. You could spend a month hopscotching between Rooster and the Till, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café, the Independent, The Refinery and Mermaid Tavern. Don’t be intimidated; even if you’re not wearing a fedora, plaid shirt, cat-eye eyeliner, tattoos or body piercings, you are still welcome.

I’ve been awaiting this second restaurant from Greg and Michelle Baker, my favorite chef/restauranteur duo (also of the Refinery) for quite some time. Fodder & Shine was born out of their need for more kitchen space. Converted from an old body shop, the location has proven a blessing. Both restaurants are based on local, fresh and primarily organic ingredients. While the Refinery has an ever-evolving menu, Fodder and Shine exhibits a fixed menu focused on Old Florida cuisine, which takes its influence from Southern, Native American, African and Spanish cultures. Overall, it shows great promise, but still has a few kinks to work out.

We started out with the Smoked Mullet Spread ($8), a popular appetizer served with house-salted crackers. It was amply full of fish, and had a nice flavor and crunch from scallions, Datil pepper and celery. For dinner I had the Smoked Beef Brisket off the daily meat menu. It was juicy, tender and flavorful throughout. (Greg Baker usually celebrates the pig and his next restaurant should definitely be BBQ.) The Pilau ($22) a combination of native rice, shrimp, Minorcan sausage, chicken liver, and boiled egg was cooked to order in an individual cast iron pan. It tasted like good comfort food, but the presentation was uninspiring. Rounding out the sides were Butter Charred Radishes ($7), which had a round, earthy flavor, but were weirdly dry. The Cane Syrup Beets ($8) were simple and perfectly roasted.

For dessert, the Caramel Cake ($7) was a simple, delicious Southern white cake marbled with caramel and a caramel buttercream frosting. I enjoyed that it was not too sweet and carried the browned butter flavor throughout. Dessert would be a great time to check out the remainder of Fodder & Shine’s [vulgarity] menu.

Normally I am a huge fan of industrial architecture and love a great concrete floor. The outside waiting areas of Fodder and Shine are the former pull-in bays for cars, which is a clever use of the space. The long bar area, sectioned off and anchored by a large wooden art installation, is warm and inviting. But the main dining area is kind of cold and cavernous. After the table next to me was pulled away for a large party, my husband and I felt like we were in the spotlight for an ice dancing routine. It’s nothing that more tables and larger scale artwork couldn’t fix. Also, a few more tables might have kept our waiter from overzealously checking on us every few minutes when we clearly were looking for a more leisurely meal.

The bar area is clearly a highlight and enjoys a lively crowd. Our bearded bartender (are there any others nowadays?) was friendly and professional. He whipped up some fantastic [vulgarity], including a Sazerac, which I enjoyed sipping all night. This spot will be a hopping bar scene, and deservedly so. The careful attention paid to the craft [vulgarity], wine and beer list are reason enough to enjoy Fodder & Shine.

Fodder & Shine
5910 N. Florida Ave.
Tampa, FL 33604
(813) 234-3710
Dinner: 5-11 p.m.

By Jill Chesney


Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso Ravens: A Postseason Baseball Threat?

When entering the Alonso High School baseball complex, visitors immediately sense the program’s accomplishments and tradition.

There are plenty of banners, a concept that seems entirely appropriate. The Ravens have been known for their banner seasons.

There are reminders that the Ravens made three consecutive trips to the state’s final four, capturing state championships in 2009 and 2011. In center field, there is recognition of the No. 16 jersey worn by ace pitcher Jose Fernandez, now a budding superstar in the major leagues.

Alonso baseball is hungry for a return to those glory days.

What have the Ravens done lately? They have continued the program’s winning tradition, but they haven’t approached state-championship caliber in the past three seasons. That’s not good enough for Landy Faedo, the only baseball coach Alonso has ever known, and a roster full of players who are mindful of the program’s lofty expectations.

“If it all comes together, if we get good pitching, if our bats get going, we’ve got a chance (to be good),’’ said Faedo, who is sometimes reluctant to offer complimentary bouquets, choosing instead to keep his players focused on the ultimate goal.

If the Ravens mature into a postseason team, several Westchase-based players will be in the middle of the action. Alonso is counting on the likes of pitcher Nick Kennedy (Radcliffe), third baseman Peyton Woble (West Park Village), first baseman Mason Turner (The Fords), catcher Andrew Abbott (The Fords) and outfielder Brandt Burrows (The Fords) to serve as key contributors.

Last season Alonso went 18-7, but fell in the Class 8A-District 7 semifinals, losing 1-0 against Bloomingdale. That denied the Ravens a spot in the postseason. It was a matchup of aces – Alonso’s Alex Faedo against Bloomingdale’s Logan Crouse – and the Bulls eventually reached the state-championship game.

A few more runs and perhaps Alonso could have gone deep into the playoffs.

“Pitching means a lot and we had a great pitcher in Alex Faedo,’’ Woble said. “When you have that, you feel like all you have to do is push across a run and you can win. Unfortunately, in that last game, we couldn’t push across that one run.

“My main goal is to win state. I think that’s everyone’s goal on this team. When I was younger, I came here to see Jose Fernandez play and I saw how Alonso would dominate. We want to be like that. I think with a few breaks we can get there.’’

The Ravens have lost Faedo, son of the head coach. He’s gone on to pitch at the University of Florida. But the staff has been retooled with the arrival of Kennedy, a transfer from College Station, Texas, and Jordan Butler, who played last season at Tampa Catholic.

“I think we have the talent to make a long run,’’ Kennedy said. “Coach Faedo does a great job of letting everyone know what he expects. We feel that every day. We’re going to do the small things right. We’re going to pitch well. And we have the lineup that will put some runs on the board.

“I think we’re on the same page. We’re all working toward the same goals.’’

Turner said he has dreamed of playing in the state final four – and this season is his last opportunity. He believes the Ravens have a good chance.

“We obviously had high expectations coming into last season, but we got caught up in a pitcher’s duel with that kid (Bloomingdale’s Crouse) and couldn’t get it done,’’ Turner said. “We had to live with that, but I think we can push past that point and make our run.

“I definitely think we have as much talent as we’ve ever had. It’s a matter of executing in every single game. We definitely want to come out hot in the early season, but the key is to peak at the end and get the bats hot late in the year. If that happens, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.’’

By Joey Johnston


Please login or register to post a comment.

Lowry All Pro Dad Group Hosts Anthony Becht

The Lowry Elementary All Pro Dad group is excited to welcome former NFL tight end, Anthony Becht, for their monthly breakfast meeting in March.

Mr. Becht was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2000 draft and went on to star on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team from 2005-2007. Mr. Becht will be speaking about his NFL career and about how much fatherhood has positively influenced his life. The breakfast meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 4, from 7-7:30 a.m. in the multipurpose room at Lowry Elementary. All dads and children that belong to Lowry Elementary are welcome to attend Wednesday’s breakfast meeting. Please R.S.V.P. for the event at


A wonderful group founded by former NFL coach Tony Dungy, All Pro Dad aims to inspire dads to spend more time with their kids. The team captain of the Lowry Elementary All Pro Dad group is Victor Jones. Victor worked hard to bring the program to Lowry back in 2013 and it has grown. The sessions address a different theme every month.

We would also like to invite dads and their kids out to the All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience that will be held on Saturday, March 28, at Raymond James Stadium. During the three-hour event, dads and kids rotate through stations and participate in interactive games designed to strengthen their relationships and deliver useful fatherhood tips. Registration will be available online soon at


The Lowry PTA also hosts iMom meetings on the second Wednesday of every other month from 7-7:30 a.m. in the Media Center. The next meeting is scheduled for March 18. iMOM ( was developed in 2007 by Mark and Susan Merrill as the motherhood program of Family First, a national non-profit organization, based in Tampa. The mission of Family First is to strengthen the family by establishing family as a top priority in people's lives, and by promoting principles for building marriages and raising children. The team captain of the Lowry Elementary iMOM group is Pennie Hill.

By Krista Reznik


Please login or register to post a comment.

Greens Family Brings Culver’s to Westchase Area

The Lanardos Family of the Greens is following their dream…and it involves butterburgers.

Growing up in the Midwest, Steven and Melissa regularly went to Culver’s restaurant for butterburgers and frozen custard. “We’ve always been big fans of Culver’s,” said Steven of the Midwest institution. “My wife grew up going there with her grandparents every week. When we lived in Indianapolis, there was one 20 minutes from our house that we visited with our children all the time. When we moved to Florida, our kids could not believe there wasn’t a Culver’s here.”

“Culver’s was started in Sauk City, Wisconsin, 30 years ago by a family that wanted to develop a fast casual restaurant with a high quality of food. To this day, all of the beef used to make the hamburgers is fresh and the cheese is real Wisconsin cheese. Everything is cooked to order,” remarked Steven.

The Lanardos moved to Tampa because of Steven’s job with Eli Lilly, but changes in the pharmaceutical business made him start to second-guess the long work hours and time spent away from his four children. “I always knew I wanted to own a business so I’d have a legacy for my children. When our business partner told us that Culver’s was expanding in this area, I said I had to think about it. But Melissa called me the next day and said, ‘In the future do you want to be saying I’m glad I did this or I wish I had done that?’ After she asked me that, I knew the answer was yes. We decided to follow our dreams.”

Steven says that in addition to giving him more time with his family and building a family legacy, owning a restaurant has already taught his children a valuable work ethic. “The kids have been pitching in to help whenever they see a need. Our 7-year old loves to vacuum the restaurant.”

In addition to building something for his family, Steven is looking forward to providing opportunities for others. “We are hoping to open more Culver’s in the area so that we’ll have growth opportunities for our employees. We focus on hiring people who are excellent at customer service and personal interactions and we want to be a company they can grow with.”

Culver’s is located at 8106 Hillsborough Ave. They are open Sunday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, March 2015

Let it be known! As with the late, great President Harry Truman, the buck stops here.

Passing the buck will not be tolerated.

Because everything will now cost you a buck fifty.

Oh, stop kvetching. This is Westchase. What did you expect? A dollar store?

February’s fabulous fakery was The Buck-Fifty Store, the brainchild of the editor’s brother, who wouldn’t be caught dead in a dollar store.

Unlike all of our pets that have consumed dollar store treats.

Best of all, the Westchase Buck Fifty promised patriotic, made-in-the-USA doo-dads you had no idea you couldn’t live without.

Interestingly, last month’s fake ad contest had very few entrants. Greens resident Bobbie Muir finally helped the editor figure out why. “I had to go through the magazine three times to make sure the Westchase Buck-Fifty ad was it!  This one looked so good.  Perhaps I would like to see the former Sweetbay location occupied, and I thought the Made in U.S.A. logo looked so cool!”

So to make it easier, this month the editor promises to go back to producing fake ads that look like they were made in a dollar store. 

Meanwhile, Joseph Bucantis of Bennington had his correct contest guess randomly selected by the Fake Ad gods. As the result, he will be taking the Made in the U.S.A. companion of his choice to Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

A Career of Service to His Country

For Greens resident Tim Creighton the decision to enter the military at a young age set him on a path of great success.

After a 28-year career in the army, including 10 years of Infantry service and 18 years of Special Forces, the lieutenant colonel has lots of memories.

Born in Rhode Island, Creighton grew up cheering for the New England Patriots and participating in several different sports. “Whatever sports season it was, I was playing,” he recalled.

His military heritage included his father, a Korean War veteran, and an uncle who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. “He was a full colonel and a photo of him decorated with all his medals and ribbons really struck me,” he said.

It was during a seventh grade science class that the decision to enter the military was finalized for Creighton. While reading a science publication, he noticed an army recruiting advertisement. “There was a soldier in the mud with a rifle and that ad hit me in the head. I knew at that moment I wanted to join,” he shared.

Upon completing his junior year in high school, Creighton headed down to the recruiting offices and signed himself up for the army. Once he graduated, he entered the Infantry division. He explained, “I wanted to do something tough out on the ground with a gun on the front lines.”

His first stop was Ft. Benning, Georgia for 13 weeks of basic training. From there he was stationed in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division. From Hawaii, he was sent to the First Calvary Division in Texas. By 1985, Creighton achieved the rank of sergeant but elected to leave the military to attend college. He entered Rhode Island College in Providence full time while working several jobs. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in Business Administration. While he was glad to have completed college, he continued to long for the military. “Every day I was out of the army, I missed it and doubted my decision,” he explained. “Once Iraq invaded Kuwait, that made my decision to go back.”

Going back wasn’t as easy as Creighton thought it would be. “I was told there weren’t any slots available for prior servicemen,” he said.

Not one to give up easily, Creighton wrote his congressman, senator and President George Bush. Finally, a recruiter called him and told him to be ready at 7 a.m. the next day to be picked up and driven to Boston to enlist.

He was ready. Because he had been out of the military more than five years, he had to complete basic training again. This second experience, he said, was far different than his first. Soldiers wore gray sweats instead of fatigues. Physical requirements were not as tough and the drill sergeants were a bit easier the recruits. Once he completed this training, he used his degree to apply to Officer Candidate School. The experience lasted 100 days and included academic requirements as well as field work. “It was a whole lot of harassment,” he chuckled. “They would come into our rooms and empty drawers, move mattresses, mess up the place and blow a whistle and give you 15 minutes to correct it, which of course you couldn’t do,” he said.

When the task was not completed, the penalty was more harassment. When asked if he had doubted his decision at that point to re-enter the military, his response was certain. “I never thought about quitting. They’d have had to kill me first.”

Creighton continued to take on leadership roles and achieve the academic and physical goals he set for himself. As he moved up the ranks, he enjoyed the opportunities he had to serve in Korea, Egypt, Afghanistan, South America and more. After achieving the rank of lieutenant, Creighton began the assessment and selection process to serve with Special Forces. “They made you do stuff physically and mentally you never thought you could do,” he said.

Only one-third of those who apply are selected and only one-third of those selected actually make it through. The phases of training included language training, patrolling and parachute operations. In 1997 Creighton became a Green Beret and spent the last 18 years of his military career in Special Forces. Much of that time was spent countering drug operations in South American regions. In May of 2009 Creighton achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He describes the time he spent in Afghanistan as a senior advisor to an Afghan Army Brigadier General as the best tour of his career and the most fulfilling, Of the Afghan leader with which he worked, he observed, “We became very good friends.”

In 2012 while stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, he was asked to put together a project that would demonstrate the interoperability between United States Special Forces, conventional forces, interagency elements and partner nations. Creighton had to figure out how to incorporate each entity. This event, the 2012 International Special Operations Demonstration, was conducted in downtown Tampa. The event featured a mock kidnapping and rescue of a local city official. It took almost six months of planning, requiring Creighton to call embassies from around the world, secure a barge to be used as a target and clear the event with the Fire Marshall, FAA and U.S. Customs. He incorporated Seals, Air Force tactics, the Green Berets and more. Nine countries were represented with use of Special Op Forces, airplanes, helicopters, boats, military vehicles, gunfire and explosions.

Creighton stood on a bridge with a radio. Script in hand, he served as narrator during the 30 minute event. The largest international military exercise ever conducted in a U.S. city, it was seen by thousands of people and proved a huge success. “There were a lot of naysayers but it turned out to be one of my proudest moments,” he said.

The demonstration was so successful, he was asked to do it again in 2014. A video of the 2012 event can be seen on YouTube at


Jan. 31, 2015, marked the end of his 28-year, 28-day career in the army. Not quite ready to settle into full retirement just yet, Creighton began a new position as a contractor for special operations with a defense contract company. When asked how he would advise others considering a military career, his response is a positive one. “Absolutely consider it. It’s the best decision I ever made,” he shared.

Creighton looks forward to having more time for family now that he has a regular nine-to-five position. His wife, Carmen Gloria, and he enjoy spending time with daughter, Sarah, at Disney as often as they can. “We hit I-4 a lot,” he chuckled.

He considers his yard work his hobby. “I spend hours out there getting everything just right,” he explained.

Many thanks to Tim Creighton for his years of service to our country!

By Lisa Stephens


Please login or register to post a comment.

Animation Academy Opens in West Park Village

Westchase students will have a new option for camps this summer when Elite Animation Academy opens its doors in the Westchase Town Center.

The Orlando-based academy, located at 9634 Linebaugh Ave., is run by Todd and Gladys West. “I fell in love with animation while working at Feature Animation at the Walt Disney Company,” said Gladys. “We saw that there was nowhere for children to go to learn animation and started a pilot program two evenings a week at a church in Orlando.”

“We started with one student and by the end of the year we had 12,” said Todd. “The students wanted to keep learning and we were hearing from more and more people who were interested in taking classes and coming to camps.”

Elite Animation Academy will be offering summer camps for students 10 years and older. Former Disney and Marvel Comics animators, as well as art educators, will teach classes at the camps. The camps will run Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an hour break for lunch. Some of the camp topics include character design, traditional animation, LEGO stop motion animation, digital computer animation, and 2D Flash/3D Maya animation. “There is a computer for every student with the most up-to-date programs. Many of our students are working at a college level,” said Gladys.

“Animation is more than just the entertainment industry,” said Todd. “It is used in the defense industry to create simulations. It is also prevalent in architecture and publishing. Our camps are fun but they are also very educational.”

For more information about Elite Animation Academy’s summer camps or to register, visit


By Marcy Sanford


Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Events Calendar, March 2015

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

Date: Sundays, March 1-March 29
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Westchase Town Center
For more information: (727) 692-5353
Ages: All

A wide variety of vendors will be on hand selling produce, cheeses, seafood, plants, herbs, honey, pet treats, raw honey, fresh baked goods and more.

Date: Tue, March 3
Time: 2-7 p.m.
Location: Glazer Children’s Museum Tampa
Price: Free admission
For more information:
Ages: Children and their grown ups

Free Admission Tuesday is sponsored by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and offers free admission on the first Tuesday of every month, between 2-7 p.m. It is the perfect opportunity to spend the afternoon exploring all that the Glazer Children’s Museum has to offer.

Date: Thursdays through Sundays, March 5-22
Time: 6 p.m., Thu-Sat; 2 p.m., Sun.
Location: Water Works Park, Tampa
Price: Free
For more information: or (813) 274-8615
Ages: All

Tampa Shakespeare Festival is a new organization working to bring the works of William Shakespeare and other classical playwrights to Tampa communities in a fun and accessible way. The productions will be fast-paced and enjoyable for the whole family. Tampa Shakespeare Festival's shows will be performed outdoors and will be free to the entire community.

Date: Fri, March 6
Time: 5-9 p.m.
Location: Westchase Town Center, from the fountain to Maloney's
Price: Free
For more information:
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. 

Date: Sat, March 7
Time: 10 a.m.-noon
Price: Free
Location: Weedon Island Preserve, St. Petersburg
For more information:
Ages: All

Children and adults will experience archaeology hands-on with activities ranging from the methods archaeologists use to learn about the past to recreating the technologies of Florida’s early residents. Bring the family to this free event to hang out with archaeologists from Florida Public Archaeology Network and the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society and see if you could survive life in Prehistoric Florida!

Date: Fri, Mar. 13
Time: Dusk
Price: Free
Location: West Park Village Town Center Green, Montague St.
For more information:
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 2.

Date: Sat, March 14
Time: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Price: Free
Location: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Tampa
For more information:
Ages: All

This St. Patty’s-inspired party is centered on the Hillsborough River, which will be transformed into a bright shade of green for the occasion. The river provides a perfect backdrop to the celebration that includes live entertainment, games, kids’ activities, food trucks serving Irish faire, beer and more! The entire family is welcome, including four-legged members.

Date: Sat, March 21, and Sun, March 22
Time: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (until 4 p.m., Sun.)
Price: Free
Location: Main Street, Safety Harbor
For more information:
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.

Date: Sat, March 28
Time: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Price: Free
Location: Marshall Street Park, Safety Harbor
For more information:
Ages: 5 to adult

This is not your ordinary egg hunt. Safety Harbor celebrates Third Annual Eco Egg Hunt sponsored by Partners in Parks. Children and children-at-heart will form teams and have 60 minutes to collect as many air potatoes as they can find. The team that collects the most potatoes will win the big prize! This family friendly event will also feature games, face painting, bounce house and music. Pictures with bunny and refreshments for purchase.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase GirlTalk Placed February’s Focus on Beauty

On Feb. 11 the skincare professionals at Glow Beauty & Skincare treated the ladies to an evening of food, drink and skincare tips.

The group learned all about the latest non-invasive cosmetic procedures, including the not nearly as scary as it sounds “vampire facial.” One lucky volunteer was treated to a makeover and several members walked away with some very generous raffle prizes. It was a fun and educational evening for all. Thanks so much to the professionals at Glow Beauty & Skincare.

The next meeting will take place on March 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Coldwell Banker office in West Park Village. They will offer a Real Estate Prep Course just in time for prime selling season. This meeting is not only for those who are thinking about selling a home. The group will also learn the latest trends in interior design and how to spruce up a home on a budget.

The information-packed meetings continue in April when representatives from Fidelity Investments will provide financial planning and budgeting tips at their office on Rocky Point Drive. In May the group will get a bit more creative when they head to Painting with a Twist, located in the heart of West Park Village. The ladies will tap into their inner artist to create their very own masterpiece.

For more information on upcoming events or to find out more about the group, contact Lori Shaw at Also, be sure to follow them on Facebook: The g.roup is free to join and is open to anyone interested in fun, friendship and a fresh perspective.

By Karen Ring


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Pirates Invade Tampa

A blustery day did not slow down a group of Westchase pirates aiming to raid Tampa.

Several local families got together and gathered their bead, swords and parrots and proceeded to the Children's Gasparilla Parade on Jan. 24.  These pirates represented the Freebooter Krewe based out of Weeki Wachee.  Several of the girls became the famous mermaid located on the front of the float. The event was huge success and everyone had a great time.

Jake Landsman, 11, commented of the experience, "I love giving out the beads and everyone loves a pirate!"

The pirates pictured include Chris and Preston Smith; Dean, Linda, Jake and Tyler Landsman; Phil, Lucy and Maggie Montiegel; Lynn and Jack Bankston; Kelli and Karlie Dawson; and Hunter and Andrew King.

By Dean Landsman


Please login or register to post a comment.

Relay For Life: What Does Your Dollar Do?

This year’s Relay For Life will be held on May 16-17, from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. at Alonso High School’s track.

Every year more than 4 million people come together at Relay For Life events around the world to support the American Cancer Society. While you’ve read about the event in the past, do you know what it helps accomplish?

The remarkable progress the American Cancer Society has made against cancer in the past 100 years is thanks in part to the support, passion, and relentless dedication of Relay For Life participants. Last year cancer survivors received rides to treatment, making nearly 380,000 round trips for patients and caregivers. Trained patient navigators helped close to 1 million people understand their cancer diagnosis and find the help they need.

The organization’s work has led to a 50 percent drop in smoking since the 1960s, contributing to a drop in lung cancer death rates. Each year they assist tens of millions of people over their hotline and Web site by providing valuable cancer information and connecting them to the resources they need. The more than $4 billion they’ve spent on research since 1946 has led to nearly 1.3 million currently living Americans having surviving the disease. In 2013 the Society saved patients and their caregivers more than $38 million in lodging costs by providing a free place to stay when they have to travel for treatment.

Every dollar we raise through our Relay For Life event helps the American Cancer Society save more lives from cancer through research and free information and services for those fighting cancer. Seventy-two percent of the money raised is spent on program services through cancer research, patient support, prevention information and education, and detection and treatment.  The other 28 percent is spent on supporting services like management, general, and fundraising expenses. 

When you support the American Cancer Society, you join millions of others who are committed to the fight to end cancer.  You help save lives in our community and around the world.

To become involved with the Relay, you can form a team, join the planning committee or be a spectator. To form your team, go to; to join the committee, contact Jordyn Clark at

We welcome everyone who wishes to join us in the fight against cancer!

By Tracy Urso


Please login or register to post a comment.

Keystone Little League Opens Division for Kids with Challenges

If you’re a parent of a special needs child, a new Little League opportunity arrives in Westchase this fall.

Keystone Little League, which plays at Ed Radice Sports Complex off South Mobley Road, began their spring season in February. That month, however, its board made a special announcement.

“As we approach the beginning of our Spring season, I'm excited to announce that the Keystone Little League Board of Directors has approved adding a new division beginning in the upcoming Fall season, the Challenger Division,” announced Bill Younker. “For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Challenger Division provides opportunities for boys and girls with physical and developmental challenges to enjoy the benefits of Little League participation.”

Keystone’s current plan is to have two teams of up to 20 players each play a game once a week on the girls softball field (Number 2) each Saturday. Details, however, are still being finalized.

The program will join two other local Challenger Divisions, one at Palma Ceia and the other at Northwest. Observed Anthony Sanchez, a Fords resident who is assisting with the league, “We are just trying to give parents another option if they live closer to us.”

According to the Little League Challenge Web Site, any boy or girl who is aged 4-18 (or up to age 22 if still enrolled in a school program) and who has a physical or developmental challenge may participate in the Challenger League provided they cannot participate in the traditional Little League programs with reasonable accommodations. Challenger games typically last one to two innings and last about an hour. Each participant gets to field and bat every inning.

Sanchez stated he is looking for volunteers to assist with the new division. If you’d like to help or if you have questions about the Challenger division, he can be reached at

For more information on the Challenger Division, visit


By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Crime: January 2015

Going on vacation over spring break?

Most residents are unaware of a valuable service offered by the Westchase Community Development District (CDD). The district operates a part-time, off-duty deputy patrol on both the eastern and western sides of the community. While residents should always call 911 for emergencies and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to report all suspicious and criminal activity, residents can call the CDD office at 920-4268 to let staff they are heading out of town on vacation. Staff will then ask the patrol to periodically check on your home while you are away.



9500 Georgian Park Ln.

Theft from a Vehicle


9900 Emerald Links Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle


9500 Greenpointe Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force


9900 Montague St.

Curtilage with Theft


10000 Bridgeton Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle


9600 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Burglary Residence/No Force


9700 Montague St.

Theft from a Vehicle


9700 Montague St.

Theft from a Vehicle


10100 Rowlett Wy.

Burglary Residence/Forced


10700 Tavistock Dr.



10600 Sheldon Rd.

Theft of Motor Vehicle Parts


9900 Stockbridge Dr.



10100 Montague St.



7800 Gunn Hwy.

Theft by Employee (On Duty)


12100 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Warrant in County


Countryway Blvd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Fords Resident Andrew Moss Honored as Minahan Award Finalist

For Robinson High School junior Andrew Moss, it began as a small idea.

In middle school he organized a seven-on-seven football tournament. He raised money for charity, hoping it would help honor the legacy of his selfless grandfather.

Then it mushroomed into something much larger. Last summer, he held another seven-on-seven tournament and this time it raised $5,000 for the Children’s Home, which provides services for abused and neglected kids.

“I am so proud and overwhelmed that Andrew has the ability to think outside of his own little world and do things for others,’’ said his father, Craig Moss.

On Jan. 19, Moss’ actions were recognized in a manner that his family will never forget. Moss was named one of five finalists for the inaugural Bill Minahan Award, named for the late Jesuit High School football coach and athletic director, during a ceremony at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.

“It was such an incredible honor,’’ said Moss, a resident of The Fords who plays quarterback for Robinson’s football team and participates in the school’s International Baccalaureate program. “I was so excited to be there.’’

Minahan, who died at age 84 in 2013, was a fiery, inspirational coach who led Jesuit to the 1968 state title at the old Tampa Stadium. In 1986 he received a kidney transplant, giving him a new lease on life, which he utilized to the fullest, participating in the Transplant Olympic Games (winning gold medals in badminton) and serving as a tireless spokesman for LifeLink organ donations.

Minahan’s widow, Martha, and former Jesuit player Skipper Peek established an award in his name that was meant to celebrate high-school football players who overcame adversity, displayed perseverance and provided service to others.

The selection committee picked Plant City running back Markese Hargrove as the initial award recipient. But in truth, everyone was a winner. All five finalists attended the ceremony and their stories, spotlighted through videos from the Bright House Sports Network, prompted standing ovations and teary-eyed reactions.

What’s more, all five finalists were surprised with $1,500 in scholarship money. Moss, Steinbrenner’s Phillip Smith, Strawberry Crest’s Darius Williams and Jefferson’s Ernest Mills were the other finalists.

Two of them overcame homelessness. One never knew his father and his mother died after involvement with drugs. Another suffered burns on 95 percent of his body as a baby and endured more than 100 operations, but never missed a day of practice.

“All of you, Bill Minahan would be proud to be your coach,’’ said Richard Gonzmart, a former Jesuit football player and president of the Columbia Restaurant Group, which served as the award’s primary sponsor.

“This is an incredible group of guys,’’ Moss said. “It’s an honor and very humbling just to be included with them.’’

Moss, who has a 4.0 unweighted grade-point average (5.1 weighted), said he didn’t give much thought to the award, when he heard of his nomination by Robinson coach Shawn Taylor. Then he became one of the five finalists and the award evening far surpassed his expectations.

“Andrew is an amazing kid,’’ Taylor said. “I was blown away when I heard his idea for the tournament and he showed such initiative. There are a lot of adults who can’t or won’t put something like that together.

“Andrew has been our backup quarterback, but I tell everyone on the team, ‘You better remember him because one day he’s going to be somebody’s boss.’ He might be my boss. Kids like to idolize athletes, but most of them won’t go as far as Andrew. He’s going to be somebody.’’

When Moss’ maternal grandfather, Irving Goldstein, died in 2008, he wanted to honor him through his bar mitzvah project. Goldstein, a charitable man, served as a guardian ad litem, often working with kids from the Children’s Home. Like his grandfather, Moss sought to give back. The cause of abused and neglected children became his focus.

“I wanted to raise as much money as possible because they (Children’s Home) need it for the kids,’’ Moss said. “It’s very important, so the kids can be rehabilitated, so they can get a second chance.’’

Moss, who attended Berkeley Prep until the ninth grade, said he hopes to make the seven-on-seven tournament into an annual fundraiser, one that he could eventually pass on to another person while continuing to help as an administrator.

“I’m so proud of him,’’ said Moss’ mother, Marilyn. “He ran into some logistical obstacles, of course, but never got discouraged. A couple of times, I told him, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work.’ He would just say, ‘No, Mom, this is happening.’ ‘’

“It sounds really cliché, but it shows you how good it is to make other people feel happy,’’ Moss said. “That’s kind of what it’s all about.’’

By Joey Johnston

Photo courtesy of Craig Moss


Please login or register to post a comment.

MOMs Club Enjoys Nails and Cocktails Event

February was another fun, busy month for the MOMS Club.

On Feb. 11, members attended Moms’ Night out at Vo Nail Salon on Sheldon Road for a “Nails and [vulgarity]” event in preparation for Valentine’s Day. It was a fun evening with friends while getting fancy for an upcoming date night with the hubby!

We held our annual Open House on Feb. 13 in conjunction with our Valentine’s Day Open Play/Craft and Baby Item Drive. We had a wonderful turnout and look forward to welcoming many new members to our club. From the generous donations of members and prospective members, we made a sizable donation to Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center, in support of the women they assist who face unplanned pregnancies. We held a Presidents’ Day Open Play and Picnic at Glencliff Playground, and later in the month, LaFleur’s Gymnastics on Anderson Road hosted our group for open play.

The March calendar will continue the excitement for our kids – but also for us! Our Moms’ Night Out event for March will be a Date Night Out. It’s an opportunity for the husbands of the club members to meet one another – and finally put faces with the names they have heard when their wives talk about playgroups, trips to the playground, and who they bumped into at Publix! We will be extending the St. Patty’s Day fun, so members – get your green ready!

March’s calendar for the kids is equally fun and exciting! We will kick the month off by celebrating “Dr. Seuss Day” on March 2 with crafts and stories. We will have an open invitation to all of our members to attend the Strawberry Festival in Plant City and join a group picnic lunch. And to try to use up some of that toddler energy, we will have a St. Patrick’s Day Open Play at Bounce House.

If you were unable to attend the Open House in February but are interested in the club’s activities, please visit We wo.uld love to invite you to an event to “try us out.” We’re sure you’ll want to stay!

By Erin Kosoy


Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen to Host Spring Open House for Incoming Students

On April 23 Davidsen will host an Open House from 5-6:30 p.m. for incoming sixth graders and their parents.

This is a great opportunity to meet all of Davidsen’s wonderful teachers, tour the school, get a peek inside the classrooms and learn more about all of the exciting electives, clubs and sports programs available at Davidsen.

The Open House is also the perfect time for incoming parents to learn how they can get involved with the school. Davidsen’s PTSA is in the process of looking to fill board positions that will be vacant come the end of the year. Even if you only have limited time to spare, becoming a part of the PTSA is a great way to stay connected as your child makes the transition into middle school. To learn more about the PTSA, visit or like us on Facebook by entering key word Davidsen Middle School PTSA.

The second nine weeks at Davidsen ended on a high note with 186 students earning straight A's. These students were treated to a special breakfast on Feb. 10. Thanks to Dunkin’ Donuts for offering a generous discount on doughnuts for the breakfast. 

Next up is Davidsen’s Medieval Fair! The student-only fair will take place on March 6. This event is always the highlight of the year for the students and a great way to kick off spring break, which runs March 9-13. There is a tremendous amount of planning and prep-work that goes into making this exciting event possible. For more information on how you can help, even if it just for an hour or two, contact Elaine Ragan at

On March 26 Westchase Pizza and Pasta will host a special night to support Davidsen’s eighth grade fundraising efforts. Davidsen’s eighth grade teachers serve as waiters for the evening and percentage of the night's proceeds will benefit eighth grade activities.

Last, congratulations are in order for student Thomas Keller and science teacher Ms. Deringer. Thomas will be heading to the State Science Fair with Team Hillsborough at the end of March. Thomas also earned first place in the Junior Environmental Science category, the Carolyn Crow Memorial Award, third place for the Florida Association of Water Quality Control, and a BROADCOM Masters Award. In addition, Ms. Deringer was recognized at this year's STEM Fair Teacher of the Fair! Congratulations to Thomas and Ms. Deringer on their tremendous achievements!

It has been a great year so far and we are looking forward to all that is yet to come.

Why Consider Davidsen?

We are lucky to have such a high-quality, well-rounded middle school right here in the heart of Westchase. In addition to ranking as an A-rated school for academics, Davidsen is also home to a number of clubs that allow students to pursue a new interest, foster academic achievement and meet new friends. Below is a list of some of the exciting clubs offered at Davidsen:

Award-winning Math League
Running Club
Crochet Club
National Honor Society
Student Council
Yearbook Club
Pond Crew

By Karen Ring


Please login or register to post a comment.

Share a Bike With a Friend

This past November Coast Bike Share pedaled into downtown Tampa.

While relatively new to American cities, bike sharing programs or companies have been popular in European cities for a long time. With a bike share program, you can rent or borrow a bicycle from a hub station and either ride it around town before returning it to the same hub or ride it from one hub to the next.

With 300 bicycles available for rent throughout downtown Tampa and its environs, Coast Bike Share claims to be a healthy, fun, affordable way to see Tampa. The sky blue bikes can be sized for people between 4-foot, 8-inches and 6-foot, 7-inches. They are a bit heavier than bicycles you might be used to but they are easy to navigate. They feature three speeds and a nicely sized basket for carting your bag, lunch or drinks with you.

Coast Bike Share has 30 hubs throughout downtown Tampa as well as Davis Islands, Ybor City, Hyde Park and Bayshore Boulevard. You can download an app to show you the location of the hubs. With it you can also reserve and pay for your bike rental. From your computer or laptop you can also visit their Web site and set up an account. You cannot, however, just walk up to the bicycles and rent one without the app or Web site account.

My friend, Annette, and I decided to explore Davis Islands. During the 1920s, developer D.P. Davis envisioned Davis Islands as a resort community with hotels, a golf course, an airport and a swimming pool. Unfortunately his dream was derailed by a downturn in the Florida land boom. More unfortunate for him was his subsequent disappearance at sea.

Our hour-long bike ride took us past many of the original 1920s, Mediterranean-style buildings and homes as well as smaller, modest abodes and brand new gargantuan McMansions. When we got close to the airport, we veered off towards the Davis Islands Yacht Club, paused to enjoy the view of downtown Tampa and then cycled back to continue our circular tour de Davis. Along the way we rode past beautiful views of the bay, speculated on which home belonged to Derek Jeter and marveled at the interesting architecture of the homes and the beauty of the flowers and trees.

If you’re hungry or thirsty after your ride, Davis Islands is home to a small commercial area with restaurants and stores so you can quench your thirst and whet your appetite. (Following our route, you’ll log 5.5 miles.)

If you’d rather explore another part of downtown Tampa and its surrounding neighborhoods, plenty of hubs exist where you can begin your tour. With some planning you can even ride one way and then take the trolley or bus back to your car.

If you are interested in historical tours, the Florida History Internet Center has architectural and historical tours on its Web site for Davis Islands, Ybor City, Downtown Tampa, and Hyde Park. Simply visit


Plenty of options exist for a downtown bicycle adventure. All you have to do is start pedaling.

Coast Bike Share
Cost: $5 per hour
Daily and monthly memberships are also available

By Marcy Sanford


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase TBAY Swimmers Mark Successes in Busy Spring

March Madness is a well-known basketball phrase.

In the swimming pool, there was no waiting for March – at least not for a TBAY Westchase contingent that’s been wall-to-wall busy since the holiday break.

Two weeks into the New Year, the branch co-hosted its largest meet to date when it put on the SPA/TBAY $1.50/Event Races in St. Petersburg. Thanks to loads of great parent volunteers, the meet was a smashing success. The swimmers played a part in that success, too, of course! From the Westchase branch alone, 64 athletes took part and several posted significant drops in their top times.

“Our team had a great experience co-hosting a meet with St. Pete Aquatics,” TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson said. “It was a great fundraiser for our program. The swimmers had above-and-beyond performances for our first meet of the season. Their improvements – and there were some big ones – show just how hard they worked during the winter holidays.”

Just a few weeks later, TBAY Westchase was back in the pool at the eighth annual Gasparilla Meet, hosted by the TBAY Central branch at Tampa Prep. The older swimmers each competed in one distance event on Friday night before turning the spotlight over to the younger ones. Almost 40 athletes 12-and-younger represented Westchase on Saturday and Sunday. While it’s typicaly one of the colder meets of the winter, Mother Nature cooperated with an unseasonably warm and sunny weekend.

At the meet Paige Easton finished second and Aly Johnston was third in the 8-and-under high point chase. Abby Williams came within a half-second of earning her Florida Age Group (FLAG) Championship cut (qualifying time) in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Distance swimmers Maddie Strasen and Anne Marie Johnson dropped six and nine seconds respectively in the 400 IM while Elliot Easton, Sam Prabhakaran and Samuel Williams all posted improvements in the 500 free. Meanwhile Rafael Borromeo, Nico Libreros, Prabhakaran and Williams conquered the mile (1,650 free) for the first time ever and Danny Harris and Margaret Parker recorded triple- and double-digit improvements in the same. Rounding out the accomplishments, Isabel Minnis added 1,000 yards of freestyle to the team's impressive distance total.

“Our 12-and-under team had great performances at the TBAY Gasparilla Meet,” Richardson noted. “Each swimmer went home with a best time and we had two high-point finishers. We had a great time supporting TBAY Nation and racing fast!”

The schedule didn’t slow the following month. It began with the SPA Last Chance meet – the last meet in which swimmers can earn those coveted FLAG and Senior Championship cuts for the upcoming championship meets. The Senior Champs meet was in Orlando at the end of February, with Maddie Strasen and Isabel Minnis having qualified as of press time for March’s WOW.

FLAGS, Florida Gulf Coast Senior Championships and the Area 3/5 Championships all take place in March.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


Please login or register to post a comment.

Newcomers Luncheon April 16

The Newcomers of Northwest Hillsborough will gather for lunch this month on April 16.

They will meet at 11 a.m. at Coopers Hawk Winery & Restaurant, located at 4110 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607.

Our program will focus on the St. Francis Society Animal Rescue, one of the oldest animal rescues in the Tampa Bay area. It is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of homeless pets. St. Francis does not have a central shelter but is composed of a large network of foster homes, animal advocates, donors and financial supporters. They sponsor several adoption centers located in area Petsmarts, Petcos, and Pet Supermarkets.

Reservations should be made by Thursday April 9, 2015.  To make a reservation call Norma Puglisi at 746-5575.

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 for more information.

By Rose Ann Lorenzo


Please login or register to post a comment.

Real Estate Round Up, January 2015



Days on Market

Sq. Ft.


Full Baths

Half Baths

Sq. Ft. Heated


9806 New Parke Rd.









9812 Brompton Dr.









12527 Shirebrook Ct.









11816 Easthampton Dr.









10615 Rochester Way









10202 Woodford Bridge St.









10312 Marchmont Ct.









12114 Clear Harbor Dr.









11805 Marblehead Dr.









 Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Artists Elect New Board of Directors

A new board of directors for the Westchase Artists Society was elected at the Jan. 27 group meeting.

Selected to serve as president for 2015 was Judy Freeman, a long-time group member who works in clay. Also serving will be photographer Jennifer Joyner as vice president, watercolor artist Jeanne LaPensee as secretary and watercolor artist Pat Kruse as treasurer.

When asked about her thoughts about the coming year, Freeman replied, “I’m honored to serve the Westchase Artists Society as president for 2015. Teresa Trubilla did such a wonderful job as our president the past few years and she’s leaving big shoes to fill. We’re lucky to have a diverse and very talented group of artists and I’m hoping that we’ll carry on where we left off at the end of 2014 – having a great time, creating and sharing with wonderful, inspiring friends.”

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 Library on Countryway Boulevard. Please bring your creativity and a sample of your artwork to share.

The next group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at the Upper Tampa Bay Library. Please visit for more information about the evening’s agenda. You can also friend the group on Facebook to stay updated on group activities.

By Teresa Trubilla


Please login or register to post a comment.

Happily Ever Laughter

This month Westchase seniors have the opportunity to enjoy the comedic brilliance of Yakov Smirnoff, the widely renowned comedian from Russia.

On March 14 at 5 p.m. the Westchase Seniors Group will meet at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center meeting room to watch a DVD performance of Yakov Smirnoff. Go to to watch a short video about him.

Lewis and Rama Patterson are hosting this activity and ask that you bring some type of finger food for us all to share while we watch this warmhearted and splendidly funny performance. A tip to the wise – bring a handkerchief or some tissues to wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes during his presentation. Also, this being the month for St. Patrick's Day, we will catch up on the good luck that Lucky, the Westchase Senior Leprechaun, brought to Bette Vance this past year. In keeping with tradition, we will also pass on Lucky to bring good fortune to another Westchase senior in 2015.

In February Westchase seniors were able to relive some of the enjoyable experiences of our parents by watching a newly restored version of Charlie Chaplin's movie The Pawnshop and by enjoying a live performance by Dan Kamin. Mr. Kamin, who trained Robert Downey Jr. for his Oscar-nominated performance in Chaplin, took us on a magical excursion into Chaplin’s enchanted comic world through film clips and live performance. It was an enjoyable evening we will not soon forget, despite our senior dementia.

Senior Day Trips Day trips for seniors are sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreational Center. On Thursday, March 5, seniors will hop on the bus and visit Tarpon Springs. Thursday, April 2, they’ll head to  Ellenton Outlet Mall and on Thursday, May 7, they will visit the Florida Holocaust Museum. Please make reservations by calling 903-3482. Trips last from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and are limited to the first 25 who make reservations. The bus fare is free; however, bring money for the activity fee and lunch.

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9-10 a.m. Westchase seniors are invited to meet at the Westchase McDonald’s Restaurant for coffee, breakfast and friendly conversation. The coffee is free with a food purchase and the conversations are always enjoyable. Grab your coffee and join us. You can’t miss us. We are the “older” but “young at heart” people laughing and having a great 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 in and pay their own way. To receive e-mails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473).

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

The Pattersons are residents of Kingsford and can be reached at or 926-5473.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Spring Garage Sale Is May 2

Throw open your garages and let the spring cleaning begin!

The Westchase Spring Garage Sale is Saturday, May 2. The sale is one of two such events held annually on the first Saturdays of May and October. (The Westchase Fall Garage Sale is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015; 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 should e-mail their information to the association manager’s office at by Tuesday, April 28. 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 and 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 health 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


Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD Tackles Board Resignation and Teen Loitering at Baybridge Park

The March 3 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) began with supervisors accepting the resignation of former Supervisor Brian Zeigler and ended with them tackling teen loitering at Baybridge Park.

As part of their consent agenda, supervisors accepted Zeigler's resignation. The former supervisor recently sold his Bridges home and moved just outside the district’s boundaries.

Under Florida law the remaining four supervisors are empowered to fill his seat. After brief discussion the board agreed to ask WOW to announce the open seat in the April and May editions. Any interested resident, they decided, should submit a letter of interest and a brief resume to District Manager Andy Mendenhall at by May 22. They should also plan to attend the June 2 meeting of the CDD for introduction. Supervisors will likely make their choice for the seat on June 2.

District Manager Mendenhall stated he had been approached by Denise Schek, the Woodbridge Association Manager on behalf of that HOA. “They were interested in talking about transferring areas over to the CDD,” Mendenhall stated, referring to the neighborhood’s gates and rights of way. Supervisors asked that Mendenhall contact the Woodbridge HOA and emphasize the need to clarify their intent quickly as the district’s initial budget draft must be prepared in May.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick presented a land use agreement with Florida Gas Transmission permitting the company access to CDD land near the UTB Regional Library to perform maintenance work on a nearby gas pipeline. Supervisors approved the agreement with the caveat that McCormick include a provision that the company show proof of insurance.

Field Manager Doug Mays then addressed a recent inquiry by WOW Publisher Chris Barrett about the shrinking flower beds in the median bullnoses at Westchase’s intersections. “They have creeped in over time,” stated Mays. “The beds are getting smaller.”

Mays clarified that the actual number of planted annuals, nearly 14,000, has remained consistent over time but that they have been planted more densely by the contractor. Stating the district would soon be planting begonias, Mays referred to the beds and stated, “They’re going to open them up 12 inches on each side.” He added, “That should open them up nicely and they should look larger.”

The number of flowers, however, will remain the same so the work would not pose additional costs.

Mays added that in recent years district staff has added numerous flowering perennials throughout the community, ensuring that the actual number of flowering plants has increased over time. He also pointed out that the flower beds in the median bullnoses have been the source of some complaints from residents who would rather the district pull them rather than spend money on refreshing the flowers throughout the year.

Mays also addressed the M/I Homes development tucked between Stonebridge and Davidsen Middle School. Clearing for the project has removed a significant number of trees and bushes, making the scraped area visible from Montague Street. “Is it time for a buffer?” CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney asked. He later added, “It definitely looks horrendous.”

Mays stated the developer promised the installation of a white PVC fence and Mays suggested planting bamboo as a screen. The plant grows and spreads quickly.

Supervisor Brian Ross, however, countered, “My recommendation is you need a block wall.”

When CDD Chair Mark Ragusa expressed concerns about a wall’s cost, Ross observed the expense would be worth it. “How many times do you have problems with landscaping buffers between two owners?” he asked.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte committed to obtaining the site plan from the county for distribution to supervisors prior to a final decision.

Closing major action, supervisors appointed a small task force to explore options for addressing teen loitering at Baybridge Park after closing hours. Nearby residents Lysette Falkner and Nancy Ostrowski addressed supervisors about the recent return of teens who are making noise, ringing doorbells and banging on doors.

“There’s just a lot of congregating at the park after hours,” stated Falkner, who said she doesn’t feel safe walking on the street in the evening. “They’re sitting in pavilions. On equipment. They’re sitting on the [shade structure] tarps.”

Ostrowski agreed. “I don’t feel safe walking through that park at all.”

Deputy Kris Gundersen, who supervises the district’s off-duty patrol of deputies, committed to sitting down with Supervisor Chesney and CDD Attorney Erin McCormick to hammer out the best approach to addressing the loitering.

Supervisor Ross strongly emphasized the board’s position to Gundersen. “We expect the law to be enforced in our community.”

In other actions:

Supervisors voted 3-1, with Supervisor Ross opposed, to permit Irish 31 to hold a Westchase Family Cornhole Tournament on the Montague Street green on May 30. The event, which will feature 50 teams of two people, will be free to participants.

Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve a request from Seymour Way homeowners to close a West Park Village alley behind eight homes for a neighborhood block party.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Dog Park Task Force Update: Public Meeting to Discuss Nearby Dog Park on March 26

The Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department (PRC) will hold a public meeting on proposed locations for a new Northwest Hillsborough County Dog Park on March 26, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library on Countryway Boulevard. Residents are invited to attend and are encouraged to share this invitation with others.

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) previously formed a Dog Park Task Force to explore the feasibility of, and resources for, a new area dog park, where residents and their canine pets could enjoy a safe and managed environment. The task force sought and received $100,000 from the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department. The project is at the point of site selection, but neighborhood discussion and comment are needed first.

The purposes of the March 26 meeting will be for PRC to present the dog park concept and site options and to receive community comments regarding residents’ location preferences. The list of prospective sites at this time includes Westwood Lakes Park (off Nine Eagles Drive), an area adjacent to the parking lot of the HART Northwest Transfer Center and Park 'n Ride (8951 W. Waters Ave.) and an area adjacent to the YMCA (8950 W. Waters). The list could be modified pending completion of studies on land development agreements now underway.

The PRC will analyze public comments from the March 26 meeting and will likely select a site in early May. In July PRC will announce the site and develop design and construction schedules and schematics.

The task force hopes interested residents will attend and share their input on March 26. If you would like to attend or if you have any questions, feel free to contact Task Force Chair Joe Odda at 391-5706 or

By Joe Odda, Dog Park Task Force Chair


Please login or register to post a comment.

Spring Cleaning and Street Parking

Happy spring everyone!

Daylight-saving time is just around the corner. The trees will be getting their leaves; the flowers will be blooming. This means the biannual garage sale is around the corner on Saturday, May 2. It’s time to tackle your spring cleaning in preparation. While you’re re-assessing your closets, we highly recommend that you also take a look at the exteriors of your properties for any cleaning needs.

While doing our monthly inspections, we’ve noticed an increase in some maintenance issues on a large number of homes: dirty driveways, sidewalks, walkways, roofs, fascia, landscaping beds that need a layer of mulch and shrubbery that needs trimming. One main complaint we’ve been getting is residents parking on the street. While we understand that everyone has guests that visit from time to time, we have seen a big increase in the number of residents that continuously park their vehicle in the streets overnight. Many also park across the sidewalk path within their driveways, which is not only a safety issue but also a violation of a county code ordinance. While doing your spring cleaning, be sure to make room in your garage for those vehicles – association documents require that you park in the garage and/or driveway and that no portion of the garage should be used for storage (preventing the proper use of it for your vehicles). Failure to comply could result in a fine of $1,000. So please do not park in the street.

I’d also like to remind everyone that before beginning any exterior home project you must submit a Modification Application to our office along with the required documentation. The form is located on our Web site or you can stop by our office to get one. The committee meets every two weeks to review modification requests. All paint requests, however, are processed in our office by management. It should therefore only take us a few days to return your paint request to you.

In closing, I’d like to remind those who have still failed to pay their annual Westchase Community Association (WCA) assessments that all outstanding accounts will be turned over to legal counsel for collection by March 15, which will trigger additional costs. We do not accept credit card payments in our office. You can pay online via credit card or drop off your check to our office or to Greenacre Properties (4131 Gunn Hwy., Tampa, FL 33618). For online credit card payments, please e-mail us for instructions at

As always, we are here to serve Westchase residents. Please feel free to drop by our office or contact us at 926-6404 or via e-mail at

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA


Please login or register to post a comment.

Add Instant Curb Appeal With Five Quick Fixes

How’s your curb appeal?

Curb appeal is a buzz-phrase that’s received a lot of attention in recent years.

HGTV has a show dedicated to it. Real estate agents will insist that it can make or break a sale. What it all boils down to is that everyone wants a home that makes a great first impression. Below are a few suggestions on ways to maximize a home’s curb appeal – whether you’re selling or simply sprucing up your home’s appeal during spring cleaning.

Replace or Repaint Your Entry Door
The heart and soul of a home’s curb appeal begins at the front door. The easiest and most economical way to instantly update an entryway is to give the front door a fresh coat of paint. When choosing a color, be sure to adhere to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) exterior color palette. A number of options exist that will make that front door pop.

Opting to replace the existing entry door with one of the thousands of panel and glass combinations available on the market today can completely transform a home’s exterior. Prices vary from several hundred dollars for a standard steel door to several thousand dollars for a fiberglass entry system with decorative glass inserts. The good news is that entry doors offer the highest rate of return on the remodeling dollar.  According to the annual Cost vs. Value Report compiled by, Tampa homeowners stand to recoup 149.9 percent of the purchase price of a steel door and 93.3 percent for fiberglass. When choosing a new entry door, refer to Section 2.1.7 of the Westchase Residential Guidelines to ensure that it meets Westchase standards.

Update Outdoor Lighting Fixtures
Removing builder-grade, outdated or rusted entryway and garage light fixtures is a great way to give a home an instant facelift. Lighting fixtures are available in a wide range of styles, finishes and price points and most can be installed relatively easily.  Be sure the appropriate breaker is shut off before attempting to remove or replace light fixtures. For added safety, test wires with a live-wire testing device before touching them.

See Section 2.1.9 of the Guidelines for lighting fixture restrictions.

Add Landscape Lighting
Curb appeal shouldn’t just apply to the daylight hours. That is where landscape lighting comes into play. Landscape lighting ranges from small solar lights that need no wiring to wall-mounted lights that are hardwired into a home’s electrical system. The type of lighting used will depend on the homeowner’s budget and desired effect.

When positioned properly, outdoor lighting can enhance a home’s architectural features and add a sense of drama to landscaping. Quality, low-voltage lighting can also extend the functionality of outdoor spaces after the sun goes down. Lights that illuminate the driveway, walkways and house numbers allow visitors to find a home safely and also help to deter intruders. Refer to Section 2.2.6 of the Guidelines for more information.

Make Use of Potted Plants
Potted plants offer a quick and cost-effective way to enhance existing landscaping and add a welcoming touch. The beauty of potted plants lies in their versatility. To add visual interest, create a container garden by grouping plants of various sizes and colors. Using pots in a variety of shapes and sizes will add to the effect. Or opt for eye-pleasing symmetry by flanking the home’s entryway with an orderly arrangement of identical potted plants. Rearrange the pots on occasion or add in seasonal plants to keep the look fresh.

When creating a container garden, be sure to adhere to Section 1.3.10 of the Guidelines, which states that potted plants cannot cover more than 50 percent of a front porch or patio. Artificial plants are also prohibited.

Add Landscape Edging
In Florida, landscaping stays lush and green all year long – a definite plus for curb appeal. To enhance existing landscaping and give it a clean, defined look, consider adding landscape edging. Edging is not only attractive; it also keeps grass from encroaching onto garden beds, which reduces the amount of time spent on lawn maintenance. 

Edging is available in a variety of options. According to Section 2.2.3 of the Guidelines, Westchase-approved materials include brick, pressure treated wood, composite wood, rubber, plastic edging, any faux stone product, poured-in-place concrete, natural stone and pre-cast concrete. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a material is to ensure that it will enhance the appearance of the home rather than compete with other elements.

Incorporating just a few finishing touches goes a long way when it comes to adding curb appeal.

Last, prior to making any exterior changes to your home or yard, be sure to first seek approval from the WCA’s Modifications Committee. Call the WCA office at 926-6404 for more details.

By Karen Ring


Please login or register to post a comment.

Transportation Meetings and Home Improvements


Thank you to everyone who signed the road repaving petition! Your support is greatly appreciated and we need to continue to make our voices heard. Additionally, Hillsborough Area Region Transit (HART), in conjunction with the City of Tampa and the cities of Plant City and Temple Terrace, is conducting various community workshops to help them better understand your issues, perspectives and experiences concerning local transportation. Numerous workshops will be held over the next few months at locations throughout the area (please refer to the article on page 15 for a list of Westchase-area workshops). I encourage everyone to please try to attend one of these workshops not only to educate HART regarding your transportation concerns but also to get educated on the issues HART has been dealing with regarding area transportation.

Just a reminder that the monthly Westchase Voting Member and Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board meetings are open to residents. The schedule of meetings is included on page 7. Please feel free to attend any of the meetings and see where all the magic happens!

Have a good month!

By Jeanne Klimschot, Bennington VM


With spring quickly approaching, I am sure most of us are planning some outdoor projects and home repairs. We’ve decided on some new landscaping out back and possibly up front as well! If your home repairs, improvements or upgrades include enhancing the exterior of your property, be sure to submit a request to the Modifications Committee. If you are not sure if your improvements require committee approval, call the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office first (926-6404)  before you take on a project. A list of FAQs regarding home modifications can be found on the WCA Web site,


We have some great neighborhood events coming up this month. First 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 this month. We are looking to hold the spring neighborhood block party in April or May 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:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

By Edward Fitzgerald Siler, Stockbridge VM

Villas of West Park Village

On Feb. 2 we held our Villas Association’s annual meeting at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center, where we had a quorum, either in person or by proxy, of over 58 percent of our 92 villas. We wish to thank every owner who participated in the meeting.

Richard Johnson, who had been in the Villas Board since 2004, decided not to run again and in his place Jay Jenkins was elected. Jay happened to be our first president when the builder turned over the management of the association to its members. The board wishes to thank Dick for all his work, especially his active participation in getting the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) to carry out two very important projects that benefited not only the Villa owners living in the east side of Westchase but all of Westchase. These projects were the cleaning of trash and wild trees in the pond between Linebaugh Avenue and Cavendish Drive and the installation of the beautiful water fountain that you can see at the main entrance of Westchase, especially at night when it is lit in different colors.

Following the annual meeting, the board held its organizational meeting and elected the following officers for the year 2015: Carlos Quiros, president; Greg Spieth, vice president; Christine Miller, secretary; and Kevin Riley, treasurer.

During the open floor segment of the meeting, members presented some suggestions regarding topics ranging from landscaping to maintenance issues. Board members fully discussed and will take action on those suggestions and comments related to the association’s responsibilities.

By Carlos Quiros, WPV Villas HOA President


Please login or register to post a comment.

Your Westchase Home: A Strong Community Produces Rising Prices

Despite the last decade’s roller coaster ride of Westchase home prices, one truth has remained unchanged.

From its beautiful appearance and well-kept amenities to its strong schools and remarkable strength of community, Westchase is loved by its residents and especially its newcomers.

Marking one of the earliest arrivals of the year, Andrew and Emily Barrows moved into The Bridges in January 2014. “My wife and I found out we were going to have our first baby and we knew then that we needed to find a home for our growing family,” explained Andrew. “What initially attracted us to Westchase were the family friendly neighborhoods, walkable restaurants and parks and proximity to family and friends. We also looked for homes in South Tampa and Safety Harbor. After looking, we ultimately decided to buy in Westchase because we knew it would be a great place to raise our family.”

A few months later, they were joined by son Cooper, now 1.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better community,” added Andrew. “We have been amazed with how friendly, welcoming and supportive the community has been. Our neighbors have been kind and caring towards our family and have helped us to get involved. As a new stay-at-home mom, Emily has really enjoyed getting to know other fun girls in the neighborhood through the MOMs Club.”

For the Barrows, the thing that makes Westchase unique and special is the community’s collective focus on family. “First Friday in West Park Village, Movie Night in the Park, neighborhood celebrations for every holiday, and the fact that there is not a weekend that the park does not have a bounce house celebrating a birthday are just a few examples of the family oriented priorities of the Westchase Community,” observed Andrew.

Westchase’s focus on family – and the community’s natural beauty – were also magnets for other newcomers.

Cristina Dragomirescu and Greg Duschek of The Fords purchased one of the 240 Westchase homes sold in 2014, moving here after briefly living in a townhome. Motivated by Tampa’s sunny climate, the couple relocated from Ottawa, Canada with their daughter Alexandra, 3. “Westchase appealed right away,” Greg stated. “Cris heard about the neighborhood at the Hyde Park fresh market and loved it at first sight.

“It's stunning. It's the birds, the greenery, the walkability, the easy access to everything,” Greg explained. He added that Westchase had great family appeal. “It's the parks for kids and the many, many kids throughout. It's a kiddie world, which is great for our daughter, who immediately made friends at daycare and in the neighborhood. It also helped that we had available wonderful pre-k options, and Westchase Elementary.”

Transferred to Tampa by their company, Peggy and Jeff Bostelman of Greencrest moved from Louisville Kentucky in May 2014, and rented in Tierra Verde for a few months while conducting a home search.
“We initially looked in the south St Pete/Treasure Island/Tierra Verde area but were disappointed with the age, cost and condition of the homes, in addition to high flood insurance costs,” explained Peggy.
Switching their search north of Safety Harbor, they toured two Westchase homes. “My husband and I fell in love with the area and decided on one of the two homes we viewed that day.”
They moved in on Peggy’s birthday in July 2014.
“We love being able to walk or bike to restaurants, shops, and the grocery. We love how well maintained the Westchase community is over all. And we really enjoy the community activities and the WOW magazine.”
Peggy added, “We really love how the community feels like it's in a remote area because of the beautiful trees and ponds, but it's very convenient to other areas of Tampa Bay”
The newcomers’ enthusiasm for Westchase is the main reason behind the community’s strong recovery from the bottom of the housing collapse.

For the third year running, Westchase home prices enjoyed a significant upswing in 2014. And for the third year running, the increase significantly outpaced inflation while running at double the historical rise in home values.
Westchase’s sales year began on Jan. 5, 2014, with a 1,680-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath West Park Village home at10020 Bentley Way, which sold for $295,000. It ended on Dec. 30, 2014, with the sale of a 3,132-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath Chelmsford home at 10751 Tavistock Dr. for $455,000. In between 238 other homes sold, a full 6.9 percent of homes within the Westchase Community Association (WCA). It represented a small drop of 10 homes from the 250 sold in 2013.
On average the typical Westchase home took 69 days to sell in 2014. When it did sell, it went at nearly 98 percent of the asking price at a price $382,438 – or a square foot price of $159.61.

That price proved an impressive 6.2 percent increase over Westchase’s 2013 average square foot price ($150.28).

From their bottoms in 2009 (when they fetched $127.37 per square foot on average after losing 31.3 percent from 2006-2009.), Westchase home values have risen 25.3 percent. (To reach their 2006 height at $185.60 per square foot, Westchase homes would still have to rise 16.3 percent more.)

Homes are now selling for roughly the same they sold in mid-2005, the first year of the housing bubble.

“Westchase has steadied into a healthy, stable market with home values rising at a sustainable rate,” observed Kimmie Fine of Palermo Real Estate Professionals.

Wendy Ross of Florida Executive Realty agreed. “Westchase home values have climbed out of the recession pit, and, in my opinion Westchase is presently the most-desired planned community in Hillsborough County,” she observed.

Nancy Wood of the Wood Team of Coldwell Banker added, “Homes with flair won the prize this year in Westchase, especially in the relatively affordable range of $300,000-450,000.”

The year’s top performing villages of Wycliff, Woodbay, Glenfield and Bennington, which saw 34 homes sold across them, rose an average of 11.4 percent in 2014 to $160.94, on top of their 10.4 percent rise the year prior. (In contrast, Glencliff’s Villas sold for an average of $144.49 per square foot).

Radcliffe homes also performed well in 2014. While notching only 10 sales, the average square foot price in Radcliffe rose 7.9 percent to $171.73. If you exclude the most significant Radcliffe outlier, a foreclosure that went for $134.19 a square foot, Radcliffe’s 2014 average rises to $177.10, an increase of 11.3 percent.

Overperformers also included The Vineyards, which rose 7.4 percent to $152 per square foot, and West Park Village’s Single Family Homes, which rose 7.6 percent to $158.44 per square foot. Interestingly, while West Park’s Single Family Homes are often considered some of the most attractive and popular buys in Westchase, the neighborhood’s smaller townhomes and villas proved equally popular. Featuring no distressed sales, West Park’s average townhome sold for $161.95 per square foot and the average West Park Villa sold for $178.56 per square foot, the highest in the entire WCA.

You have to look just outside the WCA – to the high-end homes in Tree Tops – to find a higher square foot price. The six homes that sold there in 2014 averaged $206.05 per square foot. The larger homes require larger down payments, of course, and expectations are higher when evaluating upgrades in the $500K+ price ranges.

Underperforming the 2014 Westchase average were homes in The Bridges, The Fords and The Shires, homes that overperformed the community average in 2013. Homes in The Bridges rose 3.8 percent in 2014 to an average square foot price of $153.33; other than The Vineyards, which saw homes on average sell in 36 days, no other village sold home faster than The Bridges’ 45 days.

Meanwhile The Fords saw a 5.6 percent average gain to $157.69 per square foot and The Shires, which saw a freakish 23.5 percent increase in 2013, cooled to a more reasonable five percent gain in 2014 to $160.13 per square foot.

Homes in The Greens (whose calculations include Village Green) also fell short of the community average. With 42 homes sold – about 25 percent more than in the equivalent sized neighborhoods of The Bridges and The Fords – Greens square foot prices rose 1.7 percent to $165.10.

The poorest performance were Westchase’s priciest homes in Harbor Links/The Estates, whose recovery has regularly underperformed the Westchase average since housing prices stabilized in 2010. In 2014 only 12 homes sold in the neighborhood at an average square foot price of $173.05, a decline of 6.7 percent over the 2013 average of $185.50 per square foot. Unlike in Radcliffe, none were foreclosures and there was no notable outlier.

The causes?

“The supply of homes over 3200 square feet and in price point $500,000 plus was greater and days on market longer,” suggested Wood. “Buyers in this range have more choices in competing area neighborhoods that may offer newer constructions, higher energy efficiency features and higher end appointments.  Another factor is buyers in this range potentially are more focused on middle school and high school boundaries and school choices.”

The Realtors WOW interviewed for this year’s Real Estate Special all agreed on homes in other Westchase neighborhoods: It’s a sellers’ market.

“Inventory is down, by at least five to seven percent,” said Anthony Malafronte of Florida Executive Realty.

“The inventory for Westchase started dropping in 2013,” agreed Fine, “and remained relatively low through 2014.”

“Inventory is still lower [than in 2013] and at times there aren’t enough choices for buyers who want to make Westchase their home,” stated Ross.

The result?

Sellers are getting closer to their asking prices. “Overall in Tampa Bay, sellers received 96-97 percent of their asking prices in 2014 when the historical norm is closer to 95 percent," said Ross.

Westchase sellers, however, received close to 97.7 percent of their asking prices.

“Well priced homes are getting good showing activity and multiple offers,” Malafronte explained.

Homes in The Shires, The Fords West Park Village, and the Countryway Boulevard villages of Wycliff, Woodbay, Glenfield and Bennington topped 98 percent of their asking prices.

Home sellers are also less frequently competing with banks looking to unload cheap foreclosures. “Short sales and bank-owned properties have decreased in Westchase from almost nine percent to 7.5 percent of the total sales in 2014 compared to 2013 and over 50% less than two years ago,” said Wood. “Anecdotally, Westchase’s distressed sales are substantially less than areas that have much more 2005-2006- built construction, such as Land O’Lakes, Brandon/Riverview and Apollo Beach.”
Only 19 homes represented distressed sales with seven short sales and 12 foreclosures – making for a remarkably low Westchase foreclosure rate of 0.34 percent of all homes. Th 2014 distressed sales represented the lowest percentage of total sales since the beginning of the housing crash – one-third of the distressed sales seen at the height of foreclosure activity in 2011.

Where does the typical Westchase homeowner’s investment stand after the decade-long roller coaster ride? If you bought 2003 for the going rate then of 133.51, your Westchase home investment would have netted you 19.5 percent through 2014. While sounding impressive, over 10 years, it’s the equivalent of less than two percent appreciation at a time period when inflation averaged 2.3 percent annually.

As an investment, real estate, however. has never dramatically outpaced inflation in the long term. According to the Case-Shiller index, home values nationwide appreciated 3.4 percent annually from 1987-2009 with an annual inflation rate of roughly 2.9 percent. That leaves an annual return of about a half percent. Factor in costs associated with mortgage interest rates and home maintenance and over the course of 20 years, you’d be lucky to break even after accounting for inflation.

Nevertheless, breaking even, seems a pretty fair deal compared to renting. As the old real estate aphorism holds, you have to live somewhere.

And there’s no better, more beautiful place to pitch that tent than in Westchase.

By Chris Barrett; Photos by Pat Duffey

WOW’s Real Estate Special

WOW thanks the following businesses for helping to bring you the Real Estate Special.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The listings on this page represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Real Estate Special. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the agents/agencies and ask all relevant questions prior to engaging their services.

Melanie Atkinson
The Wood Team @ Coldwell Banker
(813) 368-6084

Melanie, a Realtor®, specializes in the 33626 zip code and offers clients the utmost professionalism, knowledge and creativity.

John & Donna Bonneau
Premier Choice Properties, Inc.
(813) 855-8000; (813) 767-9937

Two licensed real estate brokers working together to serve you better since 2001! Hundreds of Westchase homes sold with a growing list of satisfied clients!

Vivian Z. Braaksma
State Farm
(813) 884-2665

Why a State Farm mortgage? Value, variety of products, competitive rates, low closing fees. All with superior, knowledgeable and reliable good-neighbor service.

Brown & Associates Law & Title, P.A.
(813) 528-4044

We have concentrated in real estate law, both transactional and litigation, title insurance services, asset protection, and bankruptcy since opening in 2006.

Kitty Converse-Kaplan
Town Chase Properties
(813) 453-7105

Combined education, experience, knowledge and attitude will get you the results you want!

Nena Cox
Town Chase Properties
(813) 391-5294

"I don't just sell homes, I sell the Westchase lifestyle!" Call The Real Estate Lady today! A licensed Realtor®

Dance Ferrentino Insurance
(813) 854-3600

A 20-year independent insurance agency representing top carriers and providing clients peace of mind by protecting their most important assets – home, auto, business and family.

Kimmie Fine
Palermo Real Estate Professionals
(813) 240-6563

As a serious and hard-working real estate professional providing superior service, I believe in great customer service and dedication. I live and work in Westchase.

Anne Hart & Toni Cason
RE/MAX Action First
(813) 215-0734; (813) 766-0525

Two full-time professionals; top producers teamed to deliver results. 25+ years experience, negotiation expertise, marketing pros. Call Anne and Toni for buying and selling success!

Insured Title Agency
(813) 855-3585

A truly independent, family-owned, title company located in Westchase Commons. Offering local expertise and nationwide capabilities to our valued clients. We want to be “your title company”!

LE Real Estate Group
(727) 243-2000

Lea Haverstock, Broker/Owner. Residential and commercial, luxury estates, short sale and foreclosure specialist. Westchase resident, multi-million dollar producer. Team of 7 agents.,

Janet Lopez
Taylormade Properties, Inc.
(813) 855-5858

Since 1998 Taylormade Properties has been providing the highest level of service to Westchase residents, whether buying, selling or leasing. Committed to quality service, we exceed your expectations.

Jeannie Nicholson
The Wood Team @ Coldwell Banker
(813) 748-8834

Jeannie, a Realtor®, is detail oriented and strives to meet the individual needs of each client. Hablo español.

Pam Opp & Beth Cupari
Taylormade Properties, Inc.
(813) 714-9752; (813) 363-7802

Choosing the right Realtor® does make a difference! The strength of teamwork gets results. Staging professionals. Luxury home specialists. Expert negotiators. $80 million sold.

Jason & Dyan Pithers
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
(813) 601-2926

Westchase Town Center Office
10108 Montague Street (near Starbucks)

Wendy Ross
Florida Executive Realty
(813) 493-9241

Realtor® and Westchase resident

State Farm Insurance
Vivian Z. Braaksma & Pamela Patterson
(813) 884-2665; (813) 792-8449

We’re looking forward to serving your needs for insurance and financial services.
Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.® Call us today.

Alisha Stockton
Charles Rutenberg Realty
(813) 732-5851

Over 10 years experience in Westchase and the greater Tampa Bay area! Specializing in residential real estate, short sales, investments and rentals!

Taylormade Properties, Inc.
(813) 855-5858

Since 1998 Taylormade Properties has been providing the highest level of service to Westchase residents, whether buying, selling or leasing. Committed to quality service, we exceed your expectations.

Westchase Title, LLC
(813) 490-5212

Short sales, commercial and residential closings, remote closings, numerous experienced title agents on staff. Westchase resident.

Westchase Town Center
(407) 624-5622

100,000 SF office/retail development located within Westchase. Multiple national tenants such as W.O.B. and Burger 21 opened their first business here…leading to national expansion!

Doug & Nancy Wood
The Wood Team, Coldwell Banker
(813) 451-9760; (813) 451-9761

Doug (Broker Associate) and Nancy are top producing Realtors® in
Westchase/Greater Tampa Bay. 12197 W. Linebaugh Ave.,

Yesner Law
(813) 774-5737

Yesner Law offers a free consultation to help individuals and companies with real estate and consumer protection-related legal questions explore their options and make informed decisions.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Readers’ Poll: What Are Your Favorites?

Spring cleaning is upon us here at WOW.

Every few years we pull together a readers’ poll to determine what in our pages is worth keeping and what we should consider changing. Whether you’re a dedicated or occasional reader, we would love to have your input this month. The poll, which takes about five minutes to complete, can be found at the top of the homepage of WOW Online and on World of Westchase’s Facebook page through March.

We’ll ask what your favorite columns are and how commonly you read various features. From your input, we’ll determine how we can freshen our content. We’ll even ask you to pitch your own ideas for columns and features you would like to see.

To help thank you for your participation, all poll takers will be entered into a random drawing for three $100 prizes. Your odds of winning are far better than most 50-50 raffles conducted at small charity events, so please share your thoughts at Your .participation will help keep WOW strong while delivering the fun, entertaining content you love.

March’s WOW also brings another popular Westchase tradition – our annual look at Westchase’s home values in our Real Estate Special. This year marks the third straight year of solid price increases across most Westchase neighborhoods. While we crunch the data for you, a few Westchase Realtors offer their insights on community sales trends. We thank all of our advertisers who helped bring you this Real Estate Special.

I offer my special thanks to Nancy and Doug Wood of Coldwell Banker, who generously pulled and compiled the 2014 Westchase sales data for WOW’s review.

While Easter is April 5, March 29 brings the bunny back to Westchase in the community’s annual Easter Egg Hunt (See page 40). April’s WOW, in turn, will feature a story on Westchase families’ traditions and celebrations surrounding Passover.

I conclude with an important request. When searching for local service providers, please always remember to let our advertisers know you saw them in WOW. With the rise of free Internet content, recent years have proven a great challenge for print publications. The two local newspapers, which used to provide widespread coverage of Westchase’s community meetings and local news, have eliminated it as their ad revenues have plummeted. WOW fills this important role now. To keep the magazine strong – and to enable us to continue making our generous donations to Westchase schools and charities – we really need our dedicated readers to support the magazine by thanking our advertisers. And if you’re using a local service provider that is not in WOW, please offer them your well-worn copy and tout it as the source of local news you read every month.

Happy spring!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

UTB Library Community Room Named for Kingsford Resident Maureen Gauzza

When Maureen Gauzza moved to Westchase in 1998, she couldn’t believe there was no library in the area.

Fortunately for local bibliophiles, the Fords resident was not one to accept the library-less landscape. She made it her mission to change the situation. She formed an Upper Tampa Bay (UTB) Friends of the Library group, which spent years lobbying, calling, and writing to Hillsborough County asking them to build a library in Westchase.

According to current UTB Friends of the Library treasurer Judy Maxwell, “the library would not be here without Maureen.” Built in 2005, the UTB Library has grown and flourished along with the Westchase community, including a 12,000 square foot expansion in 2013. Gauzza and the Friends of the Library have been there to help the library every step of the way.

“She’s very generous and giving of her time,” says Branch Manager Sarah Watts-Casinger. “We truly appreciate all her contributions to the Upper Tampa Bay Library.”

In January library officials dedicated a room in Gauzza’s honor in appreciation of everything she has done for the UTB Library. The Maureen Gauzza Community Room is located at the main entrance of the library. The large room is used for many special events at the library and can be reserved for public meetings.

“When Maureen first approached us about a library, there was nowhere to meet in Westchase so we met in her kitchen,” said Director of Library Services Joe Stines. “She was a visionary who knew the area needed a library. She knew who to call and worked very hard to get the county to support the library. She has never stopped helping the library and working with the Friends of the Library.”

The dedication was a surprise to Gauzza. “It is so great that you all organized this,” she said. “Thank you to everyone who has helped out and for all that you do. It is so wonderful to come in here and see adults and children of all ages using the library.”

Gauzza’s daughter, Sharon Potts, remarked, “My sister and I grew up going to the library with my mom. This is a very fitting tribute to her.”

By Marcy Sanford


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Bobcats: Fact or Fiction?

Have you ever asked yourself, “Is that a bobcat in my backyard?”

There’s a very good chance the answer is yes.

Last year Keswick Forest resident Leslie McCluskie had her first bobcat sighting. “I was sitting on my pool deck and at first glance I thought it was a cat. I called out to it and said ‘Here, kitty kitty.’ It stopped, looked at me and then I realized it was not your ordinary cat,” McCluskie said. “It then just casually strolled back into the woods and disappeared.”

Bobcats are commonly mistaken for housecats. Males average 39 inches in length and weigh about 24 pounds, while females are closer to 36 inches in length and 15 pounds. Bobcats, however, have a short, bobbed tail, five to six inches in length, black-tufted ears and fringes of fur that outline the sides of the head (think Elvis’ sideburns at the height of his career). They are typically dark brown with black spots and bars most visible along the sides and legs.

The bobcat’s petite size can be deceiving. They are equipped with razor-sharp claws, needle-like teeth and the strength to take down a small deer.

David Lueck, owner of wildlife trapping service The Trapper Guy, said, however, there is very little cause for concern. Bobcats are generally afraid of people and typically don’t fare well in urban areas. They are generally just passing through.

Lueck’s advice is to just leave bobcats be. Grab the pets and the kids and head indoors. According to Lueck, you’ll not likely have any success getting it relocated and destroying them is prohibited.

Mainly nocturnal hunters, bobcats help keep the rodent population at bay. They prefer areas with ample conservation. Because of bobcats and coyotes, Lueck advises homeowners to both avoid walking pets near conservation areas at dusk and dawn and keep family cats from roaming outdoors to avoid becoming prey. Also avoid retractable leashes; they make it easier for any predator – bobcat, coyote or alligator – to snatch pets. 

Bobcats have a discreet nature and rarely cause trouble in urban settings. Like most of the animals that call Westchase home, when left undisturbed, bobcats will simply keep to themselves.

By Karen Ring; Photo by Dawn Masiello


Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, March 2014: WCA Board Honors Dedicated Volunteers

We live in a great and beautiful community!

Although our community looks great and amenities are incredible, our biggest assets are our people and leaders. Just this past month we awarded the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award to Dale and Nancy Sells, who have been incredible leaders of our community. The couple received this prestigious Westchase award because of their unselfish dedication to our community – in many capacities and over many, many years. Between them they have served as president of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board, as well as members of the Westchase Voting Members, the Document Review Committee, the Modification Committee and more. The award was well-deserved by this great family!  

After Westchase turned 20-years-old – and in the middle of the real estate recession – we saw a small increase in abandoned properties. Other homes had owners who did not maintain them properly. To protect our community and property values the Westchase Voting Members and the WCA Board of Directors saw the need to make our property inspections more thorough. We therefore increased the frequency of day and night inspections; in turn, the amount of issued violations of our guidelines and covenants increased. To explain the process, we send a first letter explaining what the deficiency is. If not corrected, a second letter is mailed with a proposed fine to be reviewed by Covenant Committee. It is up to the committee to review each unresolved violation and act accordingly.

When you purchase a home in a deed-restricted community, you sign a document stating that you accept guidelines and restrictions that affect how you must use and maintain your property. These rules also stipulate that most changes to the exterior of your home and yard also have to be approved by the Modification Committee. The process is fast and pain-free, so don’t be afraid to submit your modification application to the WCA office. If you’re unsure how, simply call them at 926-6404.

When you receive a violation notice, please remember that the association is not here to impose fines and to make your life more difficult. We’re responsible for making sure that our governing documents are followed and that properties are maintained to Westchase standards. This in turn keeps our community beautiful – and keeps our property values high.

The process doesn’t have to be painful. Our community manager’s office is always open to work with you to make sure you have enough time to correct any deficiency. They are not here to single anyone out. Please call the office and ask them any questions about received violations. They are here to help and are extremely friendly.

By Joaquin Arrillaga, WCA President; Photo by Marcy Sanford


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler Resigns

Former Bridges resident Brian Zeigler resigned his seat on the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) in an e-mail sent to District Manager Andrew Mendenhall late on Feb. 25.

“It is with regret that I have to announce my resignation from the CDD Board effective immediately,” he wrote, “as I have sold my home and now reside just outside of the Westchase area.”

Florida law requires CDD supervisors to reside within the district.

Subsequently speaking to WOW, Zeigler said, “It was a decision my wife and I have been talking about a while. We have been talking about going from a two-story to a one-story home.”

To start his home search, Zeigler said that his wife and he put their Sturbridge home on the market but didn’t expect it to sell so quickly. “Two days later I had a contract in hand,” he remarked.

Zeigler stated they are currently renting an apartment right outside of Westchase’s boundaries and hopes to locate a new home soon. “It’s going to be in the Westchase area. Either in or outside of Westchase. I just don’t know yet,” he said.

“The board and staff members do an incredible job,” he added. “I really enjoyed working with them.”

Zeigler ran in the November 2012 General Election to fill the seat of then retiring supervisor, Bill Casale, and won the contest against Lexington Park Apartments resident Bob Argus. (Argus was subsequently named to a board vacancy.)

Under Florida law the remaining Westchase supervisors, consisting of Mark Ragusa of Harbor Links/The Estates, Greg Chesney of The Bridges, Brian Ross of West Park Village  and Argus, are charged with filling Zeigler’s vacant seat with a resident of the district. The appointee will serve through November 2016, when the seat will face election again.

Unlike positions with the Westchase Community Association (WCA), which are entirely volunteer and unpaid, CDD supervisors receive $200 per meeting. They generally meet at 4 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the WCA office building on Parley Drive. Supervisors must be reside within the CDD boundaries but do not have to be homeowners. Their terms are four years.

The Westchase CDD, which has four employees and currently contracts with Davey Tree, is responsible for maintenance of Westchase commons areas, ponds and parks with the exception of the two swim and tennis centers. They are also responsible for West Park Village alley maintenance and the maintenance of entry systems, roads and rights of way in gated neighborhoods. The CDD’s budget is significant and board members set assessments for residential and commercial properties within the community.

The district is just beginning what could be a significant capital improvement program affecting Baybridge and Glencliff Parks, aimed at bringing their play equipment into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Historically the CDD board has waited for the announcement of a board opening to appear in WOW prior to filling it. Interested residents should contact District Manager Mendenhall via e-mail at or call him at (813) 991-1116, Ext 102.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Will You Help Us?

Click here to take the survey.

We need your help to ensure we're offering the news and features you love! Please take five minutes to complete our WOW Reader Survey. Completing the survey will make you eligible to win one of three $100 prizes (randomly selected from all who take the survey).  To participate, simply click on the Survey link at the top of WOW’s homepage or the headline of this article.

Your input will help us determine what to keep, what to lose and what to add to WOW. Thanks for your generous help in keeping WOW strong!


Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Addresses Liability Wavers and New Bid for Tennis Cabana

Feb. 12 also saw WCA Directors hearing a series of homeowner appeals of fines for deed restriction violations.

Opening the session, Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board Vice President Ken Blair presented Dale and Nancy Sells with the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor. February's WOW previously announced the award.

After board members voted to lift Stonebridge sub-association’s six-month suspension of use of the WCA meeting room due to their failure to set the building alarm properly, Government Affairs Committee Chair Joe Odda reported that to date 748 people had signed a petition asking the county government to repave the roads of Westchase. He said the committee’s goal was to have 1,500 signatures by Feb. 24.

Odda also reported that Hillsborough County’s Transportation for Economic Development initiative would be holding 36 public meetings beginning February 17 through the end of May. (See article, page 15.)

Odda said the county would be holding a public meeting about a proposed dog park on March 26 at the Upper Tampa Bay (UTB) Library. Odda stated current considered locations were Westwood Lakes Park, the Northwest HART Transfer Station on Waters Avenue, land adjacent to the Northwest YMCA on Waters Avenue and Wood Lake Park. Odda encouraged residents to attend the meeting to let county representatives know their thoughts about the dog park.

After voting in favor of re-appointing Carlos Quiros to the Modifications Committee, the board heard two different homeowners’ fine appeals. A Harbor Links resident stated he did not want to power wash his roof again because the last time he did, several tiles broke, causing leaks. He said that after receiving the recent violation, he used a natural chemical that eats algae but that it takes time for it to work. Stating the first violation was in August, Ross said, “During that time your neighbors were complying by the same rules. Our challenge is how to keep the community spirit and not just accept that you had good intentions.”

When Blair noted the resident had answered each violation notice by applying another treatment, directors voted 5-1 with Arrillaga casting the dissenting vote to suspend the violation as long as it does not reoccur within two years.

The board next heard from a Greens resident who had installed a new pool heat pump that was not completely shielded from view. The resident said he had planted plants but was waiting for them to mature. Ross pointed out that the first violation was given in July and that if he had planted plants when he received the first notice, they would be mature by now. Board members voted 4-2, with Arrilaga and Blair dissenting, to suspend the fine provided the heat pump is screened with mature plants in 21 days and that the violation not reoccur within 24 months.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that the tennis courts at West Park Village had been repaved. She said that the fencing at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center had been repaired and that once construction on the center’s Tennis Cabana was complete, they would finish resurfacing the courts there.

Several months ago WCA board members discussed the WCA program liability waivers. Association employees had told the board there were too many different waivers to keep track of and had asked for one blanket waiver that could be signed online. The WCA’s legal counsel wrote one blanket waiver but said he did not recommend only getting online signatures. Director Kathy Carlsen asked why, if the association pays employees to administer the programs, could the employees not be held accountable for the paperwork. Arrillaga said that the employees felt that having multiple waivers left room for error and that the online waivers were easier to keep track of. Director Dyan Pithers said that she agreed that people should be signing waivers in person while Operations Manager Kelly Shires told the board that most big recreational facilities had one blanket waiver for the whole year. All board members, except Carlsen, agreed to Ross’ motion that the discussion be tabled until next month to allow staff to conduct more research and make recommendations. That motion included a suggestion by Arrillaga that the association continue to use the new online waiver form for the next month.

After the previous winning bidder could not complete the work because he was not properly licensed as a commercial builder, directors voted 3-2-1 to accept the $98,150 bid from Prado Construction to build the Tennis Cabana at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. Directors Keith Heinemann and Pithers cast the dissenting votes and Arrillaga abstained. Heinemann did not make any comments explaining his opposition while Pithers preferred going with another bidder, Sierra Construction. While Sierra’s work was more expensive, Pithers stated she felt they might be more reputable. Arrillaga abstained because of a personal relationship with the bidder. 

All board members approved replacing the chemical controller at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool and purchasing a new pool cleaner with a caddy cart so that each pool would have one.

Board members voted 5-1, with Carlsen casting the dissenting vote, to accept Ross’ motion to hire national consulting firm F&H Solutions Group to develop an employee handbook and performance management process with the understanding that F&H take time to talk to each director.

The WCA Board meetings are open to the public. The next one is scheduled for March 12 at 7 p.m. at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford


Please login or register to post a comment.

VMs Talk Guidelines and Transportation Issues

Gathering at their Feb. 10 meeting, 22 Westchase Voting Members (VMs) addressed neighborhood guidelines and transit issues.

After the group quickly approved their only agenda item – final approval for the color palette guidelines for the Classic Townhomes, Traditional Townhomes and Townhomes of West Park Village, Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board President Joaquin Arrillaga asked VMs if they had any questions or comments.

VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) asked if there was a way that the WCA could report to residents when they become aware robberies within Westchase. Arrillaga responded that a committee previously looked into this but the WCA attorney had concerns that it might make the WCA liable. Arrillaga said he would address it with their lawyer again.

VMs inquired about Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman’s Jan. 26 visit to Radcliffe to address road repaving there. Arrillaga reported that they met with Murman and Public Works Director John Lyons and presented a VM letter, approved in January, showing the group’s unanimous approval for the road repairs. Last month, the WCA also established a community petition to gather signatures for road repaving. Arrillaga observed, “They are putting an extra $10 million dollars into the budget for road repairs, which already had $10 million in it. Out of that total $20 million, Westchase is targeted to receive some of those dollars. This petition will have a lot of impact to move this forward.”

WCA Director Joe Odda, chair of the Government Affairs Committee, added, “Sandy Murman said it is important that we involve ourselves in the transportation process because we need to put our word in to make sure that we get some of the budget. If you go to the public hearings, you can mention this as being critical. There is some money allocated to Westchase but we want to be sure it stays there.”

Odda added that Murman was impressed that Westchase had quickly organized around the petition and already had more than 600 signatures. Odda added that the Citrus Park Drive extension, which is a separate item but still in the county’s transportation plan, is also being discussed and asked that VMs and residents share their thoughts on the plan at the upcoming GO Hillsborough community meetings. (See article, page 15.)

VMs discussed the upcoming GO Hillsborough meetings, aimed at developing a county transportation plan. Mercer (The Bridges) asked Odda, “Isn’t it true that really what this is about is gauging taxpayer’s feelings about taxes for transportation?”

Odda, who is heavily involved in the process, replied, “Yes, we realized that the essence of the effort is to build positive reception for new revenue sources to fund that plan. We need to decide to support that initiative for new revenue and spread the word that it is good to vote yes for tax increases.”

VMs also discussed recent votes in Pinellas and Pasco Counties that failed due to lack of walking the neighborhoods and getting people on board. In contrast, some noted, votes in Jacksonville, FL and Charlotte, NC were successful because they did go into neighborhoods and win support.

Related to the county’s upcoming transportation plans, Arrillaga noted that one of the items being discussed is connecting Montague Street in West Park Village to Waters Avenue. Citing additional traffic through West Park Village, Arrillaga stated, “This is the type of project we may not want.”

VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) said, “I would suggest that everyone go to one of the neighborhood meetings. It is so enlightening. They make it a clear picture of what they are trying to do. Get the word out to your residents to encourage them to get to these meetings.”

Wrapping up the VM session, Arrillaga reported that VMs’ March meeting was moving to March 17 due to spring break and the need to hold Voting Member training with legal counsel.

VM Don Costello (Stamford) asked, “A lot of people here have been to previous training. Do we need it?”

Arrillaga replied, “I see a lot of new faces here.”

VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) encouraged Arrillaga to have WCA Attorney Jon Ellis confine his presentation to the responsibilities of the voting members, which should keep it to no longer than a half hour

VM Patrick O’Brien (Glenfield) brought up a safety issue caused by cars parking at Glenfield’s entrance to drop off and pick up kids riding the school bus. O’Brien observed the parked cars are creating a dangerous situation with cars entering and exiting the neighborhood.

VM Ed Siler (Stockbridge) responded, “We had the same thing in Stockbridge with Davidsen Middle School. You can call the sheriff’s office non-emergency number and they will come and clear them for you.”

VMs adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett


Please login or register to post a comment.

New Westchasers, March 2014

Carmen and Carl Longnecker of The Shires welcomed Elise Marie Longnecker on January 15 at 7:17 p.m. Elise Marie weighed 4 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 18 inches. She was greeted home by big brother, Nathan, 3, and big sister, Anna, 21 months.

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 High resolution photos may be e-mailed to that same address for possible publication here.


Please login or register to post a comment.

GO Hillsborough Launched to Learn Your County Transportation Priorities

A county transportation planning group has organized a series of public meetings to gather input from Westchase residents on what they want to see in the county’s transportation plan.

From February through May the transportation project, called GO Hillsborough, will present multiple opportunities for residents to participate in creating Hillsborough County’s Community Transportation Plan. Key meetings for Westchase residents, however, will occur Feb. 19 and March 12.

Residents can attend the meetings, weigh in on social media sites or participate in telephonic town hall meetings. The sessions will feature discussions with elected officials as well as local government and transportation agency staff.

The public meetings are intended to understand citizens' transportation issues, explore their ideas and preferred approaches, and forge consensus among the varied needs of the county’s neighborhoods. Based upon residents’ input, Parsons Brinkerhoff, an international engineering firm, will compile recommended options for Hillsborough County’s Community Transportation Plan.

The resulting plan may become the basis for sales tax initiative on the 2016 election ballot. If that sales tax initiative passes, the resulting funds would pay for implementing the plan.

Whether you’d like greater funding for road repaving, funds for the construction of roads like the Citrus Park Drive extension, the creation of rush hour high-occupancy vehicle lanes on local highways or the expansion of bus and light rail transit options, now is the time to make your desires clear.

The first phase of meetings specific to Westchase will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the Town 'n Country Regional Public Library (7606 Paula Dr., Tampa, FL 33615) and March 12 at St. Timothy Catholic Church (17512 Lakeshore Rd. Lutz, FL, 33558). The Town 'n Country Regional Public Library meeting will gather input from residents of Westchase, Town 'n Country and Carrollwood while the meeting at St. Timothy Catholic Church will gather input from residents of the Northwest.

These represent a series of 13 workshops, deemed “Understanding Needs,” that will be held throughout Hillsborough County to gather residents’ input. An additional five larger geographic meetings, deemed “Exploring Options,” will be held between March 24 and April 2. Residents of Westchase, as well as Town‐’n Country, Carrollwood and the Northwest, are encouraged to participate in a meeting held at Town 'n Country Regional Public Library on March 30 from 6-8 p.m. From these Round One sessions, staff will and compile an “Issues and Opportunities” report.

A second round of workshops, called “Making Choices,” aims to identify areas of consensus among the different communities’ transportation wish lists. Second round meetings to gather Westchase residents’ input have been scheduled for April 7 at the Town 'n Country Regional Public Library and April 30 at St. Timothy Catholic Church (for residents of the Northwest) from 6-8 p.m. The third phase of meetings, aimed at forging consensus, entail five larger geographic meetings, with Westchase and the Northwest meeting on May 18 at Town 'n Country Regional Public Library from 6-8 p.m.

Residents who cannot attend the meetings can still have their voices heard through Go Hillsborough’s pages on Facebook, Twitter or through GO Hillsborough’s specially designed I-Neighborhood Project App. Residents may also call in during one of the four telephone town hall meetings or leave comments at 274-6922. To learn more about these participation options and the above meetings or for more information on getting involved with GO Hillsborough, please visit Those with questions about the series may contact Liana Lopez at or 272-1141.

GO Hillsborough has been established by The Transportation for Economic Development Policy Leadership Group (PLG). That group includes all seven Hillsborough County Commissioners, the mayors of Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace as well as the chair of the HART board, working together to form county consensus around the Community Transportation Plan.

For more information on the PLG, visit

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Real Estate Round Up, December 2014



Days on Market

Sq. Ft.


Full Baths

Half Baths

Sq. Ft. Heated


9867 Bridgeton Dr.









9110 Crystal Commons Way









9405 Edenton Way









9602 Royce Dr.









9805 Bayboro Bridge Dr.









12322 Ashville Dr.









9707 Woodbay Dr.









10627 Weybridge Dr.









9108 Woodbay Dr.









12430 Bristol Commons Cir.









10517 Chambers Dr.









10751 Tavistock Dr.









10524 Greencrest Dr.









9612 West Park Village Dr.









10302 Greenhedges Dr.









10037 Brompton Dr.









10203 Radcliffe Dr.









9809 Emerald Links Dr.










Please login or register to post a comment.

Wizards Jump Rope for Heart

Wizards jump for hearts this month!

Instead of the usual flowers and candy hearts that dominate this month’s festivities, Westchase Elementary’s Wizards will be focused on healthy hearts and school spirit!

The Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser will be held Feb. 9-13 during students’ physical education classes. A school-wide event sponsored by the American Heart Association, it teaches the importance of physical fitness and healthy eating to maintaining a healthy heart. Our students also benefit from knowing that the money they raise by jumping rope goes directly toward helping people in our community with sick hearts.

This month you can also pour your heart out in a special yearbook dedication. You still have time to write something special to your child and have it printed in their yearbook. Go to the PTA Web site at and download the form. Turn in the completed form along with the $10 dollar check, made out to Westchase PTA, to the front office. The yearbook staff is working diligently to put together all the pictures for this year’s yearbook.

There is also still time to send in photos of your child. Please send in individual jpegs – no albums please – to The deadline for submissions is Feb. 22.

Westchase is excited for another exciting session of After School Enrichment. We will be offering some new exciting classes and all of the loved favorites will be returning as well. Classes will begin Feb. 18-22 and end on April 22. No classes will be held the week of spring break. We are always in need of volunteers to help during After School Enrichment dismissal. This program would not be successful without your help!

Last, remember there is no school on Friday, Feb. 6, for State Fair Day!

By Jennifer Arnold


Please login or register to post a comment.

Panini’s Bar and Grill: Now Overstuffing Westchasers

In late January Panini’s Bar and Grill opened at 12227 W. Linebaugh Ave. in the space vacated last summer by Stone Chase Grill.

According to Panini’s manager, Michael Casey, the restaurant has undergone significant changes. “We have completely renovated the restaurant from top to bottom. There is lots of stonework throughout the restaurant and televisions everywhere. We thought Westchase was the perfect area for our next location. We will be bringing something different to the area.”

The Westchase Panini’s will be the second Florida location for the Ohio-based company, which already has a location in Lutz.

Casey said that Panini’s will serve pub food, pizzas, burgers and overstuffed sandwiches. According to their menu, an overstuffed sandwich includes the meat of your choice on fresh baked Italian bread overstuffed with hand-cut fries, signature slaw, tomato, and melted provolone. Panini’s will also have 30 beers on tap.

In addition to the overstuffed sandwiches, Panini’s also serves a wide variety of burgers, wraps, and grilled sandwiches. 

The restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. with a late night menu. It will offer daily specials, events, and contests. For more information, visit


By Marcy Sanford


Please login or register to post a comment.

Lowry Can Tab Drive to Make a Difference

Lowry Leopards are in their third year of collecting aluminum can tabs to donate to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Shriners is a health-care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to providing care, research and programs to children up to the age of 18. Children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay. Shriners Hospitals rely on the generosity of donors to provide these services every day.

The students at Lowry have become accustomed to seeing plastic milk jug bottles in their classrooms. They use these jugs to collect the aluminum can tabs. Some friendly competition occurs among classes to see who can fill the jug the fastest. This year the top ten classes received an “It Starts With Me” spirit stick to celebrate their hard work and dedication to helping others.

So far the Leopards have collected over 82 pounds of can tabs, which equals over 114,800 individual aluminum tabs donated since the beginning of this school year. The Lowry Leopards are already on track to meet, or beat, their previous year’s donation. Since the 2012-2013 school year, when Lowry started collecting tabs, the Leopards have totaled 423 pounds, which is approximately 592,900 tabs. Way to go, Leopards!

Everyone at Lowry is so excited that this simple fundraising program benefits so many individuals.

The Leopards are also very excited for the second annual Sock Hop, which will take place on Thursday, Feb. 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The kids will dance the evening away while dining on pizza from the Westchase Pizza and Pasta Co. and sip on drinks from Smooth and Shake It. A special guest appearance by “Elvis” is on tap, as well as an array of classic cars that can be viewed in the Lowry parking lot. Pre-sale tickets for the event are $1, but will be $2 at the door. This is a Lowry family only event and is not open to the general public.

By Krista Reznik


Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen Mourns School Nurse Karol Wilkerson

This month we open with a moment paying tribute to Davidsen’s school nurse, Karol Wilkerson, who passed away suddenly on Jan. 14.

The loss came as quite a blow to staff and students alike. “Karol prided herself on taking care of our kids. She was a vocal presence when it came to the health and well-being of our students and she will be sadly missed,” Principal Brent McBrien said.

Davidsen parent Gail Frank added, “As the parent of a medically fragile child, it was so uplifting to have her in a school where people get it. I barely knew this woman, yet she impacted me in so many ways.”

Karol worked at Davidsen for the past seven years. In the chaos of day-to-day life, it can be difficult to find the time to let people know how much they are appreciated. The hard work of the staff and teachers at Davidsen has such a tremendous impact on our students and our school as a whole. On behalf of the PTSA, please know how grateful we are for all you do.

On Dec. 11. Davidsen Media Specialist Merle Supple took three students to the Hillsborough County All Middle School “Poetry Jam” Day. Davidsen students Sarah Frank, Leisha Fuster, and Natalia Troupe had the exciting chance to create their own poems. Sarah Frank represented Davidsen in the “Open Mike” portion of the day. Thank you to Ms. Supple for providing these students with such an exciting opportunity.

The next Davidson Box Top Drive runs Feb. 1-26.  Students should turn in their Box Tops to their lunchroom teacher in a baggie or envelope with their names, their lunchroom teachers’ names and the number of Box Tops they are turning in.  Students will be selected in a random drawing and could win a special lunch with their friends at school.

Parents of prospective Davidsen students who would like an in-depth look at the school are encouraged to attend the next Davidsen Tour on Feb. 3 at 9:30 a.m. This is a great chance to get all those questions answered. For those who cannot attend, please call the school at 558-5300 to schedule a tour.

On Feb. 10 students who earned straight A’s for the second grading period will be treated to a PHD Breakfast at 9:30 a.m. Congratulations to all who will be attending. Conference Night will take place on Feb. 18 and the next school-wide dance will be held on Feb. 20.

In the coming months Davidsen’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society will be partnering with students from the culinary program to revive the Davidsen Garden. This will be a great opportunity for students to get a glimpse into the hard work that goes into food production. Culinary students will use the vegetables in their recipes to get a true farm to table experience.

Students and staff are also gearing up for the highlight of the year, the Medieval Fair, which will take place on March 6. A tremendous amount of planning goes into making this exciting event possible. For more information on how you can help, contact Elaine Ragan at


10  PHD breakfast, 9:30 a.m.
18  Conference Night
20  Dance, 4:30 p.m.

By Karen Ring


Please login or register to post a comment.

Sheldon Road Sees Construction of ER Center

Westchasers with a medical emergency will have a new option opening nearby this May.

This spring Medical Center of Trinity plans to open an ER center at 12922 Sheldon Rd. across from the Citrus Park mall. Director of Marketing Mary Sommise said they hope to have the 11,200 square foot facility open by May.

“The Citrus Park ER will offer easy, convenient access to emergency care 24 hours a day with all the resources you need for acute care of a serious illness or injury,” she stated. “The Citrus Park ER will offer the same services as traditional ERs, including onsite CT Scan, ultrasound, x-ray, and laboratory services." While not accepting trauma cases, the center will accept ambulance services. [Editor's note: This article in the hardcopy WOW was incorrect on that matter.]

“The Citrus Park ER will be staffed by physicians who are board certified in emergency care and nurses with emergency care experience and certifications. We know that when there is a medical emergency, 24/7 quick access and convenience is important for individuals and families. We felt this location allowed us to make available quality and efficient emergency services to families in this area,” Sommise added.

Sommise said that all treatment rooms will be private and that there will be a separate pediatric waiting area for children.

Medical Center of Trinity is a 236 bed, state-of-the-art, all-private room hospital located in the tri-county area of Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough Counties, near the intersection of State Road 54 and Little Road in Trinity, Florida. The facility’s programs include emergency care, heart and vascular, spine and orthopedics, cancer care, and women’s health and obstetrics.

By Marcy Sanford

Artist rendering courtesy of Medical Center of Trinity.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Taquito!

Taquito, a Chihuahua-Terrier who is 2, lives in Harbor Links. He was rescued by the Hoffmark family in October 2012. You might see him walking down Linebaugh to Starbucks. He also enjoys floating on his special floatie in the pool. Taquito's best friend is Tucker, his neighbor across the street. If you see a funny little dog prancing along in little red vest feel free to say hi. Taquito is happy to call Westchase his home!


Please login or register to post a comment.

Working Collaboratively with Your Kids

A common complaint I hear from parents is that they’re raising a child who is frequently defiant, argumentative or even explosive when parents make demands or requests of them.

We’re all familiar with traditional approaches to discipline. These typically include the use of consequences, such as time-outs or loss of privileges, to impose the parent’s wishes and demands. However, Ross Green offers another approach, called Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, to managing these problems.

Green suggests parents adopt an alternate approach with children. Also referred to as the CPS model, Green’s approach relies on two basic tenets: First, a child’s challenging behaviors are likely due to lagging cognitive and emotional skills. Second, the most effective way to manage problem behavior is to work in a collaborative manner with children. He argues it works better than imposing the adult’s will through the use of rewards and consequences.

One of Dr. Green’s main principles is rooted in why a child is throwing a challenging tantrum or angrily arguing. Most of the time, parents believe that their child’s defiance is occurring because of willfulness or a lack of motivation to behave better. The CPS model, however, suggests that the child’s challenging behaviors are instead being caused by undeveloped, lagging skills in areas like flexibility or adaptability; frustration tolerance; and problem-solving. Green argues punishing a child does not teach him anything about managing rising frustration or becoming more flexible in his thinking. It also doesn’t teach him to solve problems with language.

What, then, is the solution?

Instead of quickly disciplining the child, the CPS approach encourages the parent to better understand the underlying reasons for their child’s behavior.

The CPS model describes three ways that parents commonly approach an explosive or defiant episode. Parents can continue to demand that their expectation be met. They can work collaboratively to figure out what is behind the defiance. Or they can lower their initially expressed expectation.

Most traditional behavioral approaches emphasize the first approach. As an alternative, the CPS model encourages parents to instead take the following steps:

First, parents should notice and comment on a pattern of problems. For example, they might say, “It seems you get mad a lot when I ask you to brush your teeth.”

Second, parents should invite the child to present their concerns. The parents might ask, “What’s up with this?” In turn, the child might respond, “I do not like going to bed because I may miss out on fun.”

Parents should then empathize with their child’s concern. They might say, “I get that you would feel left out when you go to bed.”

It’s then appropriate for the parents to express their own concerns: “The thing is, if you do not get to bed on time, you will be tired tomorrow at school.”

The final step involves the parent inviting the child together to find a mutually agreeable solution that takes into account both parties’ concerns: “Perhaps if you can get everything done on time, we can play a game before you go to bed.”

Although this is a different method than most traditional approaches, this model does try to assist the child with strengthening certain skills that are important in everyday life. These skills include identifying frustration and managing it, compromising, asking for help, identifying and managing uncertainty, and taking another person’s perspective into consideration.

Once a child’s lagging skills are identified, his explosive behavior becomes quite predictable. Once predictable, it becomes more preventable.

The parents’ challenge lies in remembering that challenging kids are communicating something important: they are struggling to meet the demands of their lives. Although what the child does to communicate that struggle is important, what’s more important are the reasons underlying their behavior.

By Maria T. Aranda, PhD

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<./p>


Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, February 2015

Now that it’s February, we can safely joke about all those silly resolutions we made in a moment of weakness last month, right?

Last month’s fabulous fakery, the Joltz resolution keeper (page 105) really would have helped out, however. Joltz promised to work like those invisible electric fence dog collars that offer an electrifying reminder not to wander too far.
“This fashionable collar/necklace will be a perfect accompaniment to the Fitbit bracelet I received as a Christmas present,” wrote Frozen Pizza Eater Charu Nagarajan of The Bridges. “Is there one for children which will keep them at task, completing homework, etc.?”

FPE Marty Hamilton of Brentford added, “The love of my life suggested that for 2015 my resolutions should include being less negative. Well fine, I agreed, so long as I can keep my nesses – bitter and petty.”

Did it work?


“I tried briefly to embrace my inner rainbow-unicorn, but quickly tired of the sizzle and burnt ozone sparks from my Joltz puka shells,” Marty added. “But I live by the mantra, ‘If I don’t enforce a double standard, who will?’ So while I don’t think the Joltz is for me, I will definitely pick up Joltz Juniors for the heirs to my empire.”
Meanwhile, Greens resident Beverly Loranger had her correct contest guess randomly selected by the Fake Ad gods. As the result, she will be taking the resolution keeper of her choice to Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

A Commitment to Community Service

As the original owner of her Glencliff home since 1994, Kathy Carlsen has witnessed the growth of Westchase since its founding.

“The Welcome Center we had at the time just spoke to how we wanted to live,” she recalled.

Twenty years later, in September of 2014, Carlsen took on the role of Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director in an effort to help Westchase continue to be the community she envisioned so long ago.

Originally from Virginia, Carlsen was the second of seven children. “I really enjoyed being in a large family and we did a lot together. Family was very important to me growing up and it still is,” she shared.

Carlsen retired in 1997 after 27 years with the postal service. “I was ready for it,” she said of retirement.

Her time is now filled with community service and projects near and dear to her heart.

One of her favorite projects has been her involvement with Sew Much Comfort. The organization accepts donated clothing items and modifies them to accommodate wounded soldiers. “I grew up in the Vietnam era and was disappointed in how our soldiers were treated,” she explained.

With the sewing skills she learned from her grandmother, Carlsen volunteered for Sew Much Comfort for five years. Once her initial sample work passed inspection, she was sent ten pieces at a time that had to be completed and returned to them within 30 days. The revised garments are sent to soldiers within the United States as well as military hospitals internationally.

She also spends time serving the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office. Initially beginning service as a machine clerk, Carlsen now runs the precinct at the Open Water Church location. She arrives on Election Day at 6 a.m. and is not allowed to leave until cleanup is complete. “It’s a long day but very rewarding. I believe very much in the democratic process and it makes me feel very grateful to be part of that,” she explained.

Carlsen has seen great improvement in expediting the check-in process for voters with the introduction of the ePoll Books in Hillsborough County. This device reads the barcode on voters’ driver’s licenses. This eliminates flipping through pages of voters names to confirm they are at the correct precinct. “This has streamlined things tremendously so now it only takes about 17 seconds to check in a voter,” she explained.

Carlsen began serving Westchase as an alternate voting member (VM). In 2010, she tackled the role of voting member, which she continued until 2014. “As a voting member, I became interested in what was going on throughout our entire community,” she said.

Carlsen attended every community meeting she could to learn more about how things operate behind the scenes. She studied the Westchase Bylaws as well as our Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCR’s). In September of 2014, she became Westchase Community Association (WCA) director. Having done her homework as a VM to learn more about the operational side of Westchase, Carlsen was ready for the challenge. She looks forward to the improvements on the horizon for Westchase. The WCA’s efforts to obtain a nearby dog park and the Community Development District’s (CDD) upgrades to the two existing parks are projects she will be watching closely (While not on the CDD board, Carlsen regularly attends its meetings). She looks forward to the enjoyment those facilities will bring to Westchase residents.

Encouraging friends and neighbors to volunteer is also important to Carlsen. She has recruited several neighbors to help with the election process and she has even taken it upon herself to go door to door to speak to Westchase residents about voting member opportunities in the neighborhoods with VM vacancies. “I am proud that so many in our own community serve as volunteers,” she said.

When she wants to relax, Carlsen steps outside to enjoy the backyard oasis she created in her spare time. When she moved into her Glencliff home, Carlsen received a butterfly kit from her mother. She planted the seedlings from the kit to grow plants that would attract different butterflies. Today her entire yard is filled with multiple species. Her garden has been certified as an Official Butterfly Sanctuary as designed by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc.

Retirement also allowed Carlsen time to travel. She recently enjoyed a trip to Alaska. In 2008, her neighbor, Kathy McGlone, and she took a 19-day African safari. “We saw every animal you can imagine, over 1,000 species of birds and the migration of wildebeests. They were as far as you could see in every direction” she said.

Carlsen clearly enjoys the company of friends in both work and play.

Thank you, Kathy, for your service to our community!

By Lisa Stephens

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


Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso FFA Students to Compete in Florida State Fair

Every February more than 500,000 people from across the state flock to Tampa to attend the Florida State Fair.

Many are drawn to the carnival-like atmosphere of the Midway. Others come for quirky, edible concoctions like pizza on a stick and bacon-flavored ice cream. But the heart of the state fair lies in its original mission: to celebrate our state’s rich and varied agricultural history.

This year 25 students from Alonso High School’s FFA Club will be among the many young men and women participating in competitive programs designed to educate fair-goers on Florida’s diverse agricultural practices.

The FFA, which originally stood for Future Farmers of America, was founded in 1928 to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. Most members were the sons of farmers who would go on to own their own farms. Today the acronym remains, but the FFA is not just for future farmers.

According to Alonso Faculty Advisor Kristina Moreta, being part of FFA is really about gaining an overall understanding of what goes into the production of the food we eat. The organization promotes leadership skills, personal growth and career success for students entering a wide range of fields. To better reflect the group’s current mission, Alonso’s FFA chapter came up with the following motto: “It’s not just cows and plows. It is the American way of life.”

The club is open to any student enrolled in one of Alonso’s many agricultural courses, which range from basic horticulture to veterinary science.

“I like that everyone can be themselves and find their place,” said Bridges resident Emma Smith, a Junior in Alonso’s FFA program.

The FFA also maintains a land lab behind Alonso that is home to everything from chickens to dairy goats. Members have the option to keep and care for an animal on school grounds either by purchasing their own animal or leasing one of the school’s animals. Students who choose to take on this responsibility are charged with grooming, feeding and caring for their animals every day of the week, including weekends and school breaks.

They are also required to enter their animal in at least one fair – many choose the Florida State Fair. For these students the fair is the culmination of the months of hard work that goes into preparing their animal and learning about everything from feed selection to digestive tract function. “There is a lot of studying,” said Smith, who will be showing her two pygmy goats, Magic and Indie, this year. It is also a chance to win scholarship money. The Florida State Fair Foundation sponsors five $1,000 scholarships for any college bound junior or senior who participates with a Youth Livestock Project.

Fair-goers can visit the Livestock Barns to view all of the animals entered in the fair. They can also watch the various competitions that take place over the course of the 12-day fair. A complete list of livestock events is available at: For c.ompetitions featuring FFA students and their animals, look for the word “youth” in the title.

There are also a number of other agricultural exhibits at the fair. You can learn about modern milking practices in the Milking Parlor. For a chance to see a calf being born, head to the Moo-ternity Ward. Want to know more about sustainable gardening? Be sure to visit Florida’s Learning Farm.

This year, after you have had your fill of rides and deep-fried foods, head to the agricultural exhibits to discover what the state fair is really all about.

By Karen Ring


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Artists Celebrate the Holidays

Members of the Westchase Artists Society gathered at the Rumba Restaurant on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

They met to celebrate the holiday season and relax after their Holiday Market and recent group show at the Upper Tampa Bay Library. After dinner members participated in their annual gift swap, where they exchanged gifts they personally created from their artwork.

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 Library on Countryway Boulevard. Please bring your creativity and a sample of your artwork to share.

The next group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Upper Tampa Bay Library. Please visit for more information about the evening’s agenda. You can also friend the group on Facebook to stay updated on group activities.

By Teresa Trubilla


Please login or register to post a comment.

Keystone Little League President Looking Forward to Feb. 20 Celebration

On Feb. 20 Keystone Little League’s baseball and softball competition will kick off when the league celebrates its 15th anniversary.

The celebration will be held Opening Night at Ed Radice Park from 7 to 9 p.m. It promises to be fun for the entire family. The activities include bounce houses, face-painters, food, games, the introduction of players and coaches, plus an array of special guests and entertainers.

As usual, KLL president Linda Weisman will be in the middle of it all.

Odds are, you have bumped into her at Publix, the Citrus Park mall, West Park Village or other popular gathering places for Westchase residents. Certainly, she can be spotted, almost daily, at Ed Radice Park. To many, she is “that lady from Keystone,’’ a presence that has spanned the league’s entire existence.

“I just love it,’’ said Weisman, a resident of The Fords, who is beginning her 10th season as KLL president. “I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me.’’

It has been three years since the youngest of Weisman’s three children played at KLL.

Traditionally, parents join the all-volunteer organization as managers, coaches, team moms or board members to coincide with their child’s participation. Weisman, a senior training specialist at Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, can’t bring herself to leave.

“A lot of people think I do get paid for it, when in fact, it actually takes time away from my family,’’ Weisman said. “I guess it’s my community service. But the bottom line continues to be when you see that kid get their first hit, make their first catch and it all comes together. Even though someone like me is behind the scenes, you feel like you did your job.

“There are things about Little League that don’t change. These kids stick together and almost become family. It’s amazing and heartwarming at the same time. It’s all about community, being a good citizen, being a team player. I kind of live and breathe what it all stands for.’’

Weisman’s KLL involvement began when her son played baseball in 1999, when the league actually played at Citrus Park Little League, before Ed Radice Park was completed. She was just another parent, but two years later, she joined the KLL board as a player-agent, then the vice president of softball, before being elected to the top spot.

She remembers fondly – or maybe not so fondly – the early days when about four or five board members did the work (the KLL board now has 30 members). There wasn’t a board room, so meetings were held at someone’s home. There were just five fields (now there are eight) with just one batting cage (now all fields have batting cages).

KLL, the largest league in Hillsborough County, has grown with the demand that now sees it serve about 800 families. With that growth, Weisman said she is proud of the league’s organization and attention to detail. KLL has been a county pioneer in the areas of training and background checks for its managers and coaches, along with its organization and adherence to Little League rules, all qualities that other county leagues have sought to emulate.

“I am very happy with the reputation we have all built in our league,’’ Weisman said. “It’s important that everything is done with integrity. First and foremost, you always must remember that it’s about the kids.’’

Weisman’s fondest wish is to see a KLL team win a World Series – it has knocked on the door with two Southeast Regional titles and three state championships in baseball and softball during the last two seasons. “We have the talented kids and coaches who can do that and are deserving of such a moment,” she said.

But even the big moments still can’t compare to what most would consider the small moments. When the complaints outweigh the compliments, when the task seems formidable, those are the things that give meaning to Weisman’s busy position.

“I still love the T-ballers when they first start, the first time playing,’’ Weisman said. “They’re all just running around in the dirt. They’re putting clay in their caps. The parents are wondering if they can actually play the game.

“By the end of the season, they’re starting to catch on. It comes together. They’re making contact and understanding something about the game. It’s always so amazing to me. I love that, when it all begins.’’

It begins again on Feb. 20 (with games to follow on the next day), when KLL stages its 15th spring season.

Fifteen seasons?

Where has the time gone?

Sometimes, Weisman wonders.

“I will bump into somebody now and they’re grown, they’ve having kids of their own,’’ Weisman said. “They say, ‘I can’t wait until my son or daughter is old enough to play at Keystone like I did.’ They’re already planning ahead because their experience was so good. That truly makes you feel good.’’

By Joey Johnston


Please login or register to post a comment.

Ava: Perfect for Any Date Night

Tampa’s newest restaurant for the stylish crowd lies smack in the heart of South Howard, accessible to all of Tampa Bay. 

Ava gives a good performance all around in tastiness, ambiance and service. In short, it’s perfect for any date night.

The beautiful interior has clean lines with a lot of blonde wood and brick, but is still very warm.  Just a warning, however. Please do not wear a plaid shirt, as you will be mistaken for a staff member. 

Another reason I’m rooting for this new restaurant: Proprietor Michael Stewart is a hometown Tampan. I love to see a local work with our unique flora and fauna, even if all the food is Italian inspired.

We started out with the Warm Ricotta ($7), served with grilled bread slices.  The name does not do it justice, as the small ramekin of cheese was creamy and perfectly smooth, a simple appetizer. 

More diverse and hearty was the Salumi Tray ($22).  The wood tray of pates and house-cured meats had a wonderful rustic presentation.  It included a little bowl of pork fat over pate to spread on the grilled bread, which feels a little freaky to modern day Americans.  However, I remember stories from my mother growing up in post-war Germany, and there it was a good thing to spread chicken fat on your toast.  Regardless, it was tasty, and we all felt a little naughty for doing it.

The Nduja, a pinkish-tinged and slightly spicy, spreadable Southern Italian pork sausage was deliciously savory and did double duty flavoring the broth of the Mussel appetizer. The Crispy Pork Belly ($12), served with lentils and a soft-boiled egg, was flavorful and mercifully was not too fatty.

For main courses, we started with the La Bestia Pizza ($16), a true Neapolitan style cooked for only two minutes in their blazing wood-fired oven.  It contained spicy sausage, arugula and ricotta, and we enjoyed pulling chunks off by hand (no slicing allowed.) The house made Cavatalli Al Ragu Pasta ($22) was a perfectly executed pasta from scratch featuring fennel sausage and a complex tomato sauce. The Half Grilled Chicken ($18) was a little pink to my liking, but the white bean ragu that accompanied it was warm and hearty. The Wood Grilled Prime Sirloin ($18) was satisfying, and the roasted root vegetables accompanying it added a nice wintry touch. 

All of this sounds like a ton of food, yet all of the portions are single serving, so if you are dining “family style” it is really just for everyone to get a taste of what you’re eating. For dessert, we moved onto the tiny Caramel Budino ($8), a custard with sea salt, which was to die for, but the pine-nut cookie that accompanied it was just serviceable. 

I have to take issue with the perfect 4-star rating from the Tampa Bay Times critic.  This is a new, exciting and well-planned restaurant, but it still needs a few kinks to be worked out first.

The bread, which was baked in the wood-fired oven, was delicious, but why only provide two slices of it on the Salumi tray for a variety of meats and pates?  Then charge for a full plate of extra bread when only a slice or so is needed? Our server was knowledgeable about the offerings and did a decent job at keeping the pacing on track. However, she was a little too needy about making sure everything was the best meal we had ever had, right?

One final note: the restaurant is fine for culinary adventurous teens, but given the sometimes-slow kitchen times, it is probably best to leave the younger kids at home.

718 South Howard Ave.
Tampa, FL 33606
Dinner All Week: 5-10 p.m.
Lunch: Mon-Fri,11 a.m.-2 p.m.

By Jill Chesney


Please login or register to post a comment.

Residents Enjoying Warm Winter at Westchase Facilities

It has been a warm winter and this is a great time for the Westchase residents to take advantage of our pools and tennis courts.

We have added shade structures to both toddler pools and our swim team is maintaining steady growth – with several spots still open. If your child enjoys swimming in a team environment, please visit the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s pool for a swim test.

Head Tennis Pro Roberto Calla coached the Westchase Jr. Tennis team to Hillsborough County championships in both age divisions. The Jr. Tennis program is a great activity for your child if they are interested in competing or playing in a wonderful after-school program. Come by the tennis courts, speak to our tennis professionals and sign up today.

The swim and tennis programs meet Monday through Friday. Our karate program is another activity for the kids or adults and meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and select Saturdays. For additional information of our programs visit


By Kelly Shires, Operations Manager

Shires is the WCA’s Operations Manager and can be reached at

Expectations in Tennis Matches
It is always dangerous to have expectations in a match. They impede players from improving.

Whether juniors or adults, everyone who has played tennis has experienced the anxiety that comes with having expectations in matches. There are two extremes. The first one, the expectation to win, arises when you are playing well, your opponent isn’t strong, or you’ve probably beaten them before. In your mind, you are playing a weaker player. So you start thinking, “The match is in the bag.”

During the match, your opponent, however, could be hanging in there and giving you a hard time. At the first sign of adversity, human nature causes panic, anxiety and worry. You start questioning and doubting everything. What if I lose? What will my teammates think of me?

Players get tight and nervous, causing their level of play to drop. These are the most frustrating matches to lose.

Remember that on any day, if you don’t pull it all together, you could lose to Mickey Mouse.

The other extreme is playing someone you know has a good game. Maybe they are the number one seed in the draw, or you know they’ve dominated friends of yours, so you start a comparison game. You start thinking, “I might as well just go home.”

You have the expectation in your mind that you’re going to get crushed. In these cases, the match is already over before you even step on the court. The natural response to this typically is to not even try. So you go out there with low intensity, effort and focus. As a result, you do get crushed and you never give yourself the opportunity to get competitive. You’ve wasted time on the court.

Ultimately, such expectations are destructive towards players’ improvement. Avoid them. Instead, replace them with the expectation that you will do anything under your control to win the match. Most things are outside of our control – the level of play of our opponent, the weather, etc. What you can control is your attitude and effort.

If you keep yourself in the moment and eliminate the external stimuli – the definition of mental toughness – you can accomplish much more and ultimately play your best tennis. This is much more easily said than done.

I always tell my players that to improve their game, it is crucial to play with people above your level, at your level and beneath your level.

By Roberto Calla, Westchase’s Tennis Pro

Calla, Westchase’s tennis pro, can be reached at


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase TBAY Team Loving New Pool Canopies

Neither rain nor sleet nor heat nor gloom of night keeps these swimmers from the swift completion of their appointed laps.

OK, it’s a paraphrasing of an old United States Postal Service credo, but it applies to the TBAY Westchase swimmers now more than ever. Because of their tireless dedication? Of course. Because of their commitment to reaching their 2015 goals? Certainly. Because of a sparkling new canopy that helps keep the elements from beating down on them during practice sessions?
Well, that too!

If you haven’t been to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool in a while, you might be surprised to see a new canopy covering the east side of the pool. It’s over the starting blocks, helping to keep the sun and rain off the swimmers and coaches. It came in handy during some wet practices over the recent holiday break. Another canopy shades the “baby pool” as well – clearly an effort to keep those up-and-coming TBAY junior swimmers protected from the elements as they set their sights on racing for the team someday. The canopies are the most noticeable of several recent improvements at the facility.

TBAY Westchase did not compete in any meets over the holiday break. As this issue of WOW was hitting the presses, the club, however, was co-hosting a January meet at North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg. The SPA/TBAY Saturday and Sunday at the Races in mid-January marked the first time the Westchase branch has co-hosted a meet of that magnitude. In addition to the work put in by the swimmers, numerous volunteers were required to make the event a success.

“It’s a big deal,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “A lot of people have to step up to put on a meet like this. It’s something we’re proud of, and something we’d like to do more of in the future.”

Richardson put his team through some tough training over the break. There were several chilly practices, some rain and some intense training for the upcoming meets. Many of the older swimmers, free from their school responsibilities, took advantage of two-a-day workouts to hone their strokes.

Results of the SPA/TBAY meet will be covered in next month’s WOW. Also coming up on the meet schedule is the eighth annual TBAY Gasparilla Open the weekend of Feb. 6-8 at Tampa Prep.

Richardson encourages anyone who is interested in joining the team to contact the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. “Just a reminder that our learn-to-swim programs will return in the springtime,” he said, “and we are only taking swimmers with previous swimming ability. Information on swim lessons, TBAY Junior and other developmental groups will become available in late February. Looking forward to a new crop of future TBAY Champions!”

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


Please login or register to post a comment.

Shires Annual Ladies Ornament Party and 2015 Bunko Update

The best way to start the holiday season is with friends and good cheer.

Angela and Dan Johnson graciously hosted the Annual Shires Ladies Ornament Exchange Party, which brought about 23 neighborhood women together. We shared good food, wine, and festivities. The ornament exchange was friendly but ruthless as several ornaments were sought-after.

Lori Doty won the prize for bringing the most popular ornament.  Angela also orchestrated a "Who Done It," game where we all had to divulge a secret (or interesting fact) about ourselves and we had to match the person to the secret. We learned a lot of facts about our neighbors that will never leave the Johnson house. It was a night to remember.

Being so inspired by the wonderful time we had at the party, we decided to bring back the Shires Bunko group. We want to invite old and new friend to join us and hope to begin another long run of Bunko in the neighborhood. This is a great way to meet your neighbors and get together sharing good food and laughs – no experience necessary.

If you are interested in being on our e-mail list and want to join us or simply have questions, please e-mail Paula at We would love to see you there!

By Trish Blocker, Angela Johnson and Paula Cannella


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Resident Makes Hollywood Debut on Undercover Boss

It’s said everyone enjoys 15 minutes of fame sometime in her life.

Greens resident Marianne Banales recently experienced hers when she unwittingly became a contestant on the CBS-based reality show Undercover Boss. The Emmy-award winning series follows high-level corporate executives as they go undercover within their own company to see what is and isn’t working.

Marianne and her husband, Steve, own three area franchise locations of the California-based soda pop and candy shop, Rocket Fizz. She was recently duped by the company’s president, Rob Powells.

During the summer of 2014, Marianne was approached by CBS to be part of a new show. “I was told I would be a coach and judge on a reality competition show based around candy,” Marianne said. 

On July 4 a huge crew greeted Marianne at her store in Tampa. She was charged with showing prospective contestants the day-to-day operations of a successful candy store – everything from scrubbing toilets to taking inventory.

Following the training session, Marianne was told she had done so well, the network would be flying her to L.A. to help judge the actual competition. Off she went on an all-expense paid, whirlwind trip to Hollywood. Upon her arrival, Marianne was taken to the set. “I am seated in this amazing candy-filled room with four cameras on me. It goes silent,” Marianne recounted.  “In walks one of my ‘contestants’ that was in my store in Tampa the previous week. It turns out the contestant was the president of Rocket Fizz. He says to me ‘Marianne, I'm Rob, the owner of Rocket Fizz....and you are on Undercover Boss!’”

That was just the beginning of the surprises Rob had in store.

While working with Rob’s alter ego, “Lee,” during the training sessions in Tampa, Marianne had shared some personal experiences in an attempt to encourage her trainee. She told Lee (a.k.a. Rob) about her brother Joe’s sudden death in 2005 and how it inspired her to take on a Rocket Fizz franchise where she could work closely with Steve and their four children. Marianne also shared her desire to one day visit Steve’s family in Spain. On the business end, Marianne unknowingly told her boss that the company’s inventory system was sorely outdated.

Once Rob had revealed his identity, he let Marianne know what a great job she had been doing for the company. As a reward, her husband and she would be treated to an all-expense paid trip to – you guessed it – Spain! 

Rob had also taken Marianne’s thoughts on the inventory process into account and realized a revamped system was in order. Stores would now be able to purchase a timesaving, point-of-sale inventory system. Marianne would be getting hers at no charge.

But the gesture that truly hit home was Rob’s offer to bottle a soda in honor of her brother. “It was a very emotional moment,” Marianne said.

Marianne had a say in every aspect of the soda’s development – from the label design to the flavor. Joby Joe’s Root Float (named after her brother’s nickname) is currently on Rocket Fizz shelves across the nation.

As this issue of the WOW went to press, Marianne was anxiously waiting for the show to air on Jan. 23. Three other Rocket Fizz employees from different sectors of the company had also been profiled and the details of how the show would play out were being kept under wraps until it aired. “I have no idea how they will edit it, so I hope it doesn't make me look too bad!” she remarked.

Regardless of the outcome, Marianne said the overall experience was very positive and is a story she will be telling for years to come.

“So I had my 15 minutes (more like one whole day) of fame,” she said with a laugh. “Then I returned home to laundry, carpooling and dishes.”

By Karen Ring

Photo courtesy of Undercover Boss.


Please login or register to post a comment.

New Water Heater Rules Hit April 16

Westchase residents with water heaters that are 10-years-old or more will have one thing more to consider before Tax Day.

Important new energy efficiency mandates will take effect on April 16, 2015. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has set new standards that will require a more stringent energy factor (EF) for a key group of heating appliances, including gas-fired, oil-fired, electric, tabletop, instantaneous gas-fired and instantaneous electric water heaters.

To be clear, consumers will not have to replace their water heaters in 2015; manufacturers will simply be unable to produce or sell lower-efficient water heaters after April 15, 2015.

If your water heater is at least a decade old, the changes could, however, impact your pocketbook, especially if you own a home in The Fords or The Greens that relies on the water heater to heat your home.

Water heaters are the second biggest energy drain in the home, following the HVAC system.  According to the DOE, the 2015 standards will save approximately 3.3 quads of energy and result in roughly $63 billion in energy bill savings for products shipped from 2015-2044. The standards will also avoid about 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 33.8 million automobiles.

There is no doubt these measures will benefit our planet; however, they may result in some additional upfront costs for homeowners. Price increases are expected to be minimal for models under 55 gallons and the DOE predicts that the higher purchase price of the more-efficient heating products will result in lower energy costs that would more than offset the initial cost.  In some cases homeowners may incur additional expense for the installation of equipment that is physically larger or uses a different technology than the old unit they are replacing.

According to Phillip Maurici of The Clean Plumbers, the most drastic changes will be seen in homes with large capacity models (over 55 gallons). That’s because the only technologies that currently meet the new EF requirements over 55 gallons are the following hybrid models:

• Heat pump water heaters, which can save the average household $300 a year on electric bills, but pack a bit of a sticker shock up front. This month, GE will introduce the GeoSpring 80 gallon model, which is expected to retail at $1,999.
• High efficiency condensing gas water heaters can save the average household $100 on gas bills annually.  Models run anywhere from $1,500 to over $2,000.

The restrictions on larger water heaters will particularly affect Westchase residents who own certain models of Ryland-built homes in The Fords and sections of The Greens that rely on the water heater to heat their homes. Fords resident Kirk Sexton learned this firsthand when he went to replace his water heater recently. Sexton lives in a Ryland Camelot II model. In place of a furnace, the home is heated by means of a heating coil that runs through the hot water heater. This system requires a larger, 70-gallon water heater. After April 15, 70-gallon water heaters will no longer be available. Homeowners will have the option of installing two smaller units (space permitting), opting for one of the aforementioned hybrid models or choosing a smaller unit and installing a new heat source for the home.

Sexton was able to replace his 70-gallon tank since the regulations have not yet taken effect. His home warranty through American Shield covered the cost of the new unit. However, new insulation codes that had taken effect since Sexton last replaced his water heater resulted in roughly $500 of additional expense to install and properly insulate the new unit. Sexton considered this a minimal expense compared to what he might pay after April.

Louis Lynch of Lynch Plumbing said many questions remain to be answered regarding how the new standards will affect the cost of water heaters. He added that homeowners who have a water heater that is 10-years-old or older might want to look into replacing their unit before April.

For more on the new guidelines, visit

Before making a purchase, be sure to check for any available rebates at


TECO Natural Gas Water Heater Programs

For Peoples Gas customers, TECO Partners offers an incremental payment plan for both standard tank natural gas water heaters and tankless water heaters. At the time of printing, TECO representatives stated that to their knowledge, the program prices listed below would remain in effect after the new mandates take effect. For more information and to confirm rates, call (954) 453-0807.

$9.99 Standard Tank
Pay $9.99 a month for 60 months and receive a 30 or 40-gallon water heater. The deal covers the removal and disposal of the old heater, and typical installation involving 10 feet of gas piping, 10 feet of water line in the same location and taxes. The monthly payment is added to your Peoples Gas bill.

$24.99 Tankless
Pay $24.99 a month for 60 months and receive a seven-gallon per minute tankless unit. The deal also covers the removal and disposal of the old heater, and typical installation that includes 10 feet of gas piping, 10 feet of water line in the same location and taxes. Venting and electrical work are an additional charge. The monthly payment is added to your Peoples Gas bill.

By Karen Ring


Please login or register to post a comment.

A Festival of Fun in Safety Harbor

I was initially drawn to Safety Harbor because of the trees.

It’s sometimes difficult to find shade in Westchase – especially in my section of West Park Village, where the kids choose whose yard they are going to play in based on the time of day and the position of the sun.

In Safety Harbor towering oak trees curve overhead on your drive into the quaint town and throughout the downtown area. The most impressive oak tree in Safety Harbor is the Baranoff Oak, which is named after a former owner of the Safety Harbor Spa. It has a trunk 20 feet in diameter and weighs 800 tons. Estimated to be between 300- and 500-years-old, the oak has had plenty of time to expand its trunk line and send thick branches curving in every direction. In 2004 Safety Harbor's oak became the centerpiece of a lovely public park.

I still take time to admire the Baranoff Oak whenever we visit Safety Harbor. As impressive as it is, it is not the only reason to visit. The town features plenty of locally owned stores, restaurants and a marina. Instead of shade trees, the harbor offers a great pier, where we’ve spotted manatees while enjoying the view. Best of all, Safety Harbor is home to lots of special events.

The third Friday of every month from 6–10 p.m. Main Street is closed from Bayshore Boulevard to 6th Avenue. Live music at the gazebo features different musical themes every month, from jazz and calypso to everything in between. You’ll find arts and crafts and food vendors. The downtown businesses and restaurants stay open late.

This month Safety Harbor will host a Black History Celebration on Feb. 7 at the Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center and the San Gennaro Italian American Festival Feb. 21-22 at the marina.  On Feb. 28 grill masters from around Tampa Bay will compete in the Best of the Bay Burger competition at the Beeruary & Burger Throwdown, which will also feature a microbrewery beer garden and a cornhole tournament.

On March 13-14 seafood will be celebrated at the Safety Harbor Seafood Festival and on March 20-22 chalk artists from around the world will be at the Bloom N Chalk Art Festival. You can watch them create their sidewalk masterpiece and then vote for your favorite. There will also be food and craft vendors and a children’s art area. New and established singer-songwriters will be the highlight of the Second Annual Safety Harbor Song Fest March 28-29.

If you can’t find an event that appeals to you in Safety Harbor, you probably aren’t looking hard enough. A complete list of festivals and events can be found at


Just don’t forget to take a moment to pause and appreciate the Baranoff Oak while you’re celebrating history, burgers, beer, seafood, chalk or music. 

By Marcy Sanford

Photos courtesy of Safety Harbor.


Please login or register to post a comment.

UTB Library Programs, February 2014


Toddler Time (Ages 2-3 with caregiver): Mon, Feb 2, 9, 16 and 23, at 10:15 a.m.; Tue, Feb 3, 10, 17 and 24, at 10:15 a.m.; Wed, Feb 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 11 a.m.
Story Time (Ages 3-5): Tue, Feb 3, 10, 17 and 24, at 11 a.m.
Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Tue, 3, 10, 17 and 24, at 1:15 p.m.; Wed, Feb 4, 11, 18 and 25, 1:15 p.m.
Wee Artists: Thu, Feb 5, 12, 19 and 26, at 1:15 p.m.
LEGO Block Party: Mon, Feb 9, at 3:30 p.m.
Puppet Show: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: Wed, Feb 11, at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Valentine’s Crafts: Thu, Feb 12, at 3:30 p.m.
• Prepare for Valentine’s Day with lovely stories and crafts.
Tale Spinners Storytelling Club: Tue, Feb 10 and 24, at 4 p.m.
• Learn about storytelling and how to choose a good story.


Teen Advisory Board: Tue, Feb 3 and 17, at 4:30 p.m.
Murder by the Book: Mon, Feb 23, at 4:30 p.m.
• A live action twist on Clue featuring characters and places from popular YA novels.


Thai Chi With Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, Feb 5 and 12, at 1:30 p.m.
Job Support Group: Wed, Feb 4 and 18, at 10 a.m.
Sahaja Meditation: Sat, Feb 7, 14, 21 and 28, at 10:30 a.m.
Book Discussion: Mon, Feb 16, at 11 a.m.
• Join us to discuss The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.
Master Gardener Series: Orchids, 101: Wed, Feb 11, at 6:30 p.m.
• Learn how to grow the most common orchids in Florida.
Computer Classes:
Tech Boulevard: Tue, Feb 3, 10, 17 and 24, at 2:30 p.m.
• Ongoing training in computer and software basics.
Publisher–Introduction: Tue, Feb 3, at 6:30 p.m.
Publisher–Formatting Publications: Tue, Feb 13, at 6:30 p.m.
Managing Media: Tue, Feb 17, at 6:30 p.m.
• Learn about USB storage devices and transfer digital content.
Library Web Site: Tue, Feb 24, at 6:30 p.m.


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.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Troop 806 Girl Scouts Visit Aston Gardens

December brought Christmas cheer to the residents at Aston Gardens.

Over the holidays Junior Girl Scout Troop 806 volunteered at Aston Gardens. The girls brought the seniors living there Christmas treats. They also enjoyed playing Bingo with the residents as well as caroling and painting their nails.

A very merry time was enjoyed by all!

By Susan Campbell


Please login or register to post a comment.

Girl Talk Starts the New Year with Nod to Healthy Living

It was a packed house for the first GirlTalk meeting of 2015.

On Jan. 14 Pam Velez, holistic health coach and owner of Be Better Balanced, led the group in an interactive discussion on improving one’s overall health by decreasing sugar intake. Attendees learned about the damaging effects sugar can have on the body and how to be on the lookout for hidden sugars in the foods we eat. (Did you know one serving of ketchup contains a teaspoon of sugar?). The ladies also learned the causes of those sugar cravings and how to stop them in their tracks. It was an informative and fun-filled evening. Thanks so much to Pam for taking time to enlighten the group.

The next GirlTalk meeting will take place at Glow Beauty & Skincare on Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. Glow Beauty & Skincare, which offers quality skincare, massage and beauty services performed by licensed and certified professionals, will treat the ladies to a Night of Beauty. This is the perfect opportunity to get great skincare tips from the experts.

On March 19 at 6:30 p.m., representatives from the Coldwell Banker office in Westchase will offer a Real Estate Prep Course. The group will learn the latest trends in interior design and how to spruce up a home on a budget.

In April Fidelity Bank will provide financial planning and budgeting tips. In May, the group will get in touch with their inner artist at Painting with a Twist, located in the heart of West Park Village.

For more information on upcoming events or to find out more about the group, contact Lori Shaw at Also, be sure to follow them on Facebook: The g.roup is free to join and is open to anyone interested in fun, friendship and a fresh perspective.

By Karen Ring


Please login or register to post a comment.

Boy Scout Troop 46 Enjoys January Campouts

Another year has passed in Scouting for Troop 46!

When the the Boy Scouts returned from a two week-long break, they kicked off a very busy month.

The Troop had two campouts in January – one very different from the rest. Our first campout welcomed all the “crossover” Webelo Scouts from all the neighboring packs. We incorporated activities such as tomahawk throwing, knot tying, Scout skills, and games into our schedule.

Our second event was a hiking campout at Bigfoot Swamp. It involved two hiking trips: a five-mile hike for the new Scouts for rank advancement, and a 10-15 mile hike for the older Scouts who enjoy high adventure activities. The 15-mile hike was an overnight outing and involved all of us backpacking all our gear, including sleeping bags, cookware, food, and clothing (a 20-30 pound load).

An Eagle Scout project will be held on March 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Westchase Recreation Center. Scouts will be building identification kits for kids. The kits will include their fingerprints and pictures.

Troop 46 has weekly Troop meetings on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Citrus Park. To learn more about Scouting, and for more information about Boy Scout Troop 46, please contact Scoutmaster Scott Doster at

By Drew Hatch


Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Events Calendar, February 2015

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

Date: Sundays, Feb. 1-27
Time: 8 a.m.
Price: Free
Location: Keke’s Breakfast Café, Carrollwood
For more information: (813) 613-6047
Ages: Best for seasoned cyclists

Meet at the cafe for a 22-mile ride through North Tampa to the Northdale Trail. Helmets are required and riders must maintain a speed of 12 to 14 mph.

Date: Sundays, Feb. 1-27
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Westchase Town Center
For more information: (727) 692-5353
Ages: All

A wide variety of vendors will be on hand selling produce, cheeses, seafood, plants, herbs, honey, pet treats, raw honey, fresh baked goods and more.

Date: Thu, Feb. 5 through Mon, Feb. 16
Time: See Web site for schedule
Price: Advance tickets $9 adults; $5 ages 6-11; 5 and younger free
Location: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
For more information:
Ages: All

The 2015 Florida State Fair features 12 days of fun that includes live music, entertainment, food, rides, games and educational activities. New exhibits include The Wall That Heals, a traveling scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and Never Forget, a traveling tribute honoring all those who sacrificed during the terrorist attacks on
Sept. 11, 2001.

Date: Fri, Feb. 6
Time: 9 a.m.
Price: Walk is free; Park entry $8 carload up to 8 people, $4 one person in car.
Location: Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
Ages: All

Rangers guide walks along the trails or beach areas for you to find plants and wildlife around the park. Afterward, stay to enjoy the beach or take a ferry to Caladesi Island.

Date: Sat, Feb. 7
Time: 10 a.m.
Price: $5
Location: Downtown St. Petersburg
For more information:
Ages: All

See hotels, stately churches and architectural treasures on this guided tour of the St. Petersburg Downtown National Register Historic District between Central Avenue and Fourth Avenue North. Starts at the entrance of the Saturday Morning Market.

Date: Fri, Feb. 13
Time: Dusk
Price: Free
Location: West Park Village Town Center Green on Montague St.
For more information:
Ages: All

Come enjoy our beautiful Florida winter nights with a movie in the park. Bring chairs and blankets and settle in for a night of relaxing entertainment. February’s movie will be Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Date: Thu, Feb. 19 through Sat, Feb. 28
Time: 8 p.m.
Price: $12-$15; $8-$10 students/seniors
Location: University of South Florida Theater 2, Tampa
For more information:
Ages: All

Watch the sweeping story by Charles Dickens come to life on stage. It is a tale of love and loss played out against the backdrop of the French Revolution.

Date: Fri, Feb. 20 and Sat, Feb. 21
Time: 6 p.m.
Price: Free
Location: Curtis Hixon Park, Downtown Tampa
For more information:
Ages: All

The award-winning display puts the spotlight on Tampa with light-based art displays. Look for the new installation near Kiley Gardens that will light up the seawall and the water between it and the Riverwalk. As pedestrians pass by, motion sensors will change the color of the lights.

Date: Sun, Feb. 22
Time: 2 p.m.
Price: Free
Location: University of Tampa Sykes Chapel
For more information:
Ages: All

Enjoy a free concert in the University of Tampa’s beautiful Sykes Chapel. The organist and director of music for St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City and former organist of St. Paul's Cathedral in London will perform.


Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Up High and Down Low

Last July found WOW at the top of the Andes Mountains and 80 feet underwater at a Central American reef.

Tim, Carmen Gloria, and Sarah Creighton of The Greens traveled to Peru and Chile for their summer vacation.  After landing in Lima, Peru, and flying to Cusco, the family took the scenic 3.5-hour train ride through the Andes Mountains to reach the small town of Aguas Calientes, located at the base of the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. 

Their first photo shows the Creightons on top of Wanya Picchu Mountain, which overlooks the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu.

The story of Machu Picchu, its historic importance to the Incans and its scientific discovery were recently told in the August 2014 WOW.

The Creightons then made their way back to Lima, where they boarded a flight to Santiago, Chile.  Since Carmen Gloria was born and raised in Santiago, every summer the Creightons return to see family and friends. The photo depicts them on top of San Cristobal Hill standing at the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the place where the statue is located was venerated by the indigenous population and known as Tupahue, or “Place of God.” After Santiago’s founding, a 10-meter cross was placed on the hill’s summit, where it stood until the end of the 19th century. In the early 20th century local religious leaders proposed construction of a shrine and statue on the site. Work began in 1904 and the shrine was officially inaugurated in 1908. The statue, at 72-feet tall, weighs 80,711 pounds. 

Despite the photos being taken in July, the Creightons were dressed in winter clothes. “Santiago sits in the Southern Hemisphere and has the opposite seasons of the United States,” explained Tim Creighton. “The average temperatures were 57 degrees in the day and 37 degrees at night; with some nights dropping down to 30 degrees.”

A bit closer to home, Shires resident Ruben Collazo spent part of July diving off Mexico with WOW. He’s pictured 80 feet deep along the Palancar Reef in Cozumel, Mexico. 

That depth, wrote Ruben, represented almost four atmospheres of pressure.

Part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Palancar Reef is a large coral reef located on the southwest side of the island of Cozumel. The island lies southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea. The reef is popular with divers.

Ruben offered some orientation regarding his photo. “Everything appears in a horizontal plane, from the land lubber’s perspective,” he wrote. “You don't realize that the photographer is above me, looking down at me.”

Ruben added, “Behind me the reef drops off, almost vertically to a depth of several hundred fathoms, which is why the water appears so deep blue behind me.”

He concluded, “It's like being on the edge of the world when you hover above the drop off at ‘the wall.’”

In the early fall, Ruben also took WOW on an extensive trip through both Asia and Europe. We’ll share his exciting travel photos and tales in a future WOW.

We thank the Creightons and Ruben Collazo for sharing their travels with WOW!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher, and Tim Creighton


Please login or register to post a comment.

Raven Softballers Set Lofty Goals

The Alonso High School softball team is intent on moving forward instead of looking back.

But who can blame the veteran Ravens for wondering what might have been?

It was a magical 2014 season, which included a 22-5 record, a memorable 7-6, 13-inning, rain-delayed victory against Bloomingdale for the district championship and the program’s first-ever playoff victory.

After a 3-1 loss against that same Bloomingdale team in the region semifinals, the Ravens could only watch as the red-hot Bulls, the district runners-up, kept steamrolling through the postseason and eventually captured the Class 8A state championship.

“It was heartbreaking (losing in the region semifinals),’’ Alonso coach Robin Kopp said. “There’s nothing worse than hearing from a bunch of coaches, ‘Well, I thought you guys were going to go all the way.’ We had seen that team (Bloomingdale) many times before and knew what they had. They were stronger when it mattered.

“We had knocked on the door for a while and finally kicked it in (winning the district championship), but I can’t sit here and say, ‘Hey, we won the district championship.’ We have a lot of new players and they want to win a district championship of their own. And I think the bar has been raised. I think we have the tradition and expectations where that will become (a regular occurrence).’’

The Ravens will surely miss a pair of Tampa Tribune first-team all-county players – all-everything, power-hitting shortstop Jessica Warren, now at Florida State, and top pitcher Kayla Maxwell, now at the University of Houston.

But Kopp said she’s pleased with Alonso’s main feeder system, the players from Keystone Little League who are largely Westchase residents, which promises to keep the Ravens as a dominant program for years to come.

“When we first started the program (Alonso opened in 2001), we only had a handful of players who had a competitive softball background,’’ Kopp said. “Now that Keystone’s league has been up and running for some time now, we’re starting to see players come through with deep, competitive backgrounds. They are ready to play and contribute the minute they arrive. It allows you to be more selective because you’re dealing with a whole roster of kids who have top-level experience.’’

Kopp was hesitant to single out new players until the games begin, but she is confident that freshman Madison Coutts, a Westchase resident, will take over at catcher. Coutts was part of Keystone’s most successful softball era, a team that won a state championship and twice finished second at state in the age group from 9-12.
The Ravens return three outfielders, including senior Westchase resident Megan Wetzel and her younger sister, sophomore Amanda Wetzel, along with junior Laura Diaz.

The older Wetzel, president of the senior class and yearbook editor, is one of Alonso’s top athletes. She also competes as a sprinter in track and field, making for some interesting schedule conflicts. Last season, the district track and field meet and district softball tournament were held on the same day. Wetzel ran the 200-meter preliminaries, but couldn’t run in the final because by then she had to leave Wharton High School for Riverview, site of the softball event. As the lineups were being introduced, she made it to the stadium.

“Megan has a lot on her plate, but she manages to excel at everything,’’ Kopp said. “She will fill an important role for us.’’

The Ravens also have returning experience with first baseman Allison Carroll and pitcher Megan Chaplow, who is expecting to fill Maxwell’s role as the No. 1 starter. “She has worked hard and it’s her time to shine,’’ Kopp said.

Kopp added she believes last year’s banner season instilled a lot of pride, but also will serve as motivation for loftier goals.

“We are going to be very young, but it seems like with all the freshmen we have, at least one of them has played in the positions where we have gaps,’’ Kopp said. “They are used to success and winning.

“For the returning players, whether they were a starter or substitute, they got a taste of what it was like. They saw what was possible with hard work and focus on the team. I think once you see that, it’s what you want and it’s the goal you strive for. We did lose some great players, but I think our program is now at the level where we’re not going to miss a beat.’’

By Joey Johnston


Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso PTSA Seeking New Members

Joining the Alonso High School PTSA holds great benefits.

Joining will enable you to be involved, stay informed, meet our administrators and support our students and teachers!

Membership is only $6 and we are selling Alonso High School magnets for only $6. For a limited time, you can get both the magnet and membership for only $10! Just complete the PTSA Membership form and send it in with your payment to the front office.

Our next Booster Club/SAC/PTSA meeting will be Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 5:30 p.m. (At deadline the meeting location had not yet been set.)

Visit the Booster Club’s Square Marketplace at for the latest Alonso Booster Club merchandise!

Go, Ravens!


2 JV Wrestling at Wharton
3-4 Baseball Pre Season Classic
3-4 Boys Basketball: District Tournament
5   Faculty/Student Basketball Game
6   No School
7   Boys Basketball: District Final
8 JV Wrestling at Brandon
10 Wrestling vs. Sickles
13-14  Wrestling: Ippolito Tournament
14   ROTC Drill at Plant
14  Saturday Success Academy
14  ACT Prep
17  Wrestling at Chamberlain
18  Alonso Booster/SAC/PTSA Meeting
20-21  Solo/Ensemble
20-21  Wrestling: County Championship
24  Band Concert
25  SAT Day
26  Conference Night
26-28  Orchestra MPA
26-28  Drama: “Musical Review”
27  Wrestling: Districts
28  JROTC Drill at Anclote
28  Saturday Success Academy

Visit for more information.

By Belinda Krauss


Please login or register to post a comment.

Hard Core

Core strength is essential for maintaining a healthy body and improving athletic performance.

Core muscles are not just your abdominals. While also known as the powerhouse and center, they include deep stabilizing muscles that support the spine. Some disciplines, like Pilates, define the core as the pelvis, abdomen, and lower back. Most agree that all movement is initiated from the core.

To engage your core, draw the belly button up and in without holding your breath. Drawing the lower abdominal muscles up and in and ensuring the pelvis is in a neutral position is critical for proper alignment. Think of the pelvis as a cup full of water. If you are standing and have the pelvis tilted forward or backward, the water will spill out. Only when you are neutrally aligned will you not spill water.

Muscles on the back of the body often get ignored during workouts. I call this “mirror strengthening.” Mirror strengthening focuses solely on the muscles that you see in the mirror while neglecting those you do not see. Muscles work in pairs. Over emphasizing certain muscles and ignoring others creates muscular imbalances. Muscular imbalances cause lots of discomfort and can lead to serious injuries.

Begin correcting muscular imbalances by strengthening your center and improving flexibility. Many techniques can strengthen your core. Most core exercises come from yoga and Pilates and are used in disciplines that require balance. Much of the strengthening begins with very subtle movements or isometric contractions. You can use your own body weight or tools like ballet bars, cadillacs, and barrels, as well as bosu and stability balls, a rotational disc and weights.

Try different tools and methods to find what you like. Pure Barre located in the Publix shopping plaza just celebrated its one year anniversary. Franchise owner Aimee O’Neal explained the classes are not dance classes. The ballet bar is used as a tool to assist with balance. Stating she loves Pure Barre, Greens resident Sandy Smith said, “It is a challenging workout that has toned my muscles like no other workout has done before.”

The result? Owner O'Neal stated she used to have back pain but now has none.

Whether you embrace this option or another, it’s time to go hard core.

By Shannon Thigpen

Shannon is a Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist who teaches at the YMCA and trains privately. Visit<./p>


Please login or register to post a comment.

Not Feeling Remotely Well

We were all sick as dogs (well, except the dogs).

I shivered and clutched my blankie. Everyone else moaned in their beds. She Who Controls the Universe shuffled from the bedroom, looking like death. “It’s actually shaking the wall, sweetie. Could you please turn it down a little?”

I lethargically pushed the TV remote’s volume buttons.


The Guardians of the Galaxy raccoon was getting his rabid on, blowing up a guard post inside an extraterrestrial prison.

I gave it the requisite remote shake before pressing again.

But the TV volume was stuck on 63, where The Sickly Sophomore had left it while soaking up all the Gossip Girls’ profound life insights.

I fruitlessly jabbed more buttons. “They’re just blowing something up right now.” I rasped. “It’ll get quiet again when everyone’s dead.”

Fifteen minutes later she was swooning at the door again. “My head,” she begged. “Please.”

Turns out the Guardians of the Galaxy is a two-hour long explosion, interrupted by a single 45-second emotional monologue that rallies everyone to shake off their doomy gloom and go blow more stuff up.

I hauled myself from the sofa. Shaking from chills, I dragged myself to the kitchen junk drawer.

I fiddled with the tape that kept the old remote’s broken battery door in place. After heaving a wracking cough to effectively convey that turning the TV down just might kill me, I inserted a pair of double A’s. I dragged myself back to the sofa. I poked the buttons.

Mas nada.

The wall quivered. A wave of nausea.

I eyed the stupid remote. Then I remembered SWCTU’s house-wide Lysol attack an hour before. I exhaled across the little glass button on its front and dragged it across my T-shirt.

Which is how guys clean stuff.

More poking.

Triple nada.

Admittedly, for the last six months, the remote was on borrowed time. Whenever we poked the volume buttons, the TV defaulted to the perky Movies on Demand madame on Channel 1.

Rather than get a new remote (way too normal for my family), we quickly embraced The Middle Schooler’s work-around. To change the volume, you hit the Guide button. With the channel guide open, if you carefully wrapped your remote arm around the back of your neck and held it at a 45 degree angle, you could adjust the volume without the channel changing.

But there were no middle school Twister techniques for getting ALL the buttons working.

Meanwhile the Guardians were going all D-Day on the Galaxy. A moan trickled out of the bedroom.

I desperately resorted to the final, universal, fix-the-remote solution: I slapped it hard against my other hand.

Because for centuries broken TV remotes have magically started working after a good spanking.

Complete and total nada.

I had been remotely transported back to the 1970s.

When men in The Barren and Lifeless Pre-Television Remote Era spent their nights leaping from recliners to adjust their three TV channels. To twiddle with the rabbit ears. To lower TV volumes.

The only problem?

I didn’t own a 1970s TV. My modern flat-screen featured absolutely no knobs to twiddle. 

Instead, it featured a series of never-used control buttons, ingeniously hidden somewhere. I began groping my TV. And my hand hit five of them at the same time. The TV screen burped and spun into a spasm of explosive static.

I nearly fell to my knees and cried.

Who was to blame for this flu-induced 1970s hell?

We had driven to Central Florida to spend Christmas afternoon with 22 of the 26 members of my wife’s tiny family. The week before, countless Tampa friends had kicked off Winter Break with a ruthless Facebook competition overdisclosing their battles with the flu and an explosive stomach bug.

One mom posted a photo of her elementary aged son sprawled lifeless on a doctor’s examination table, looking ready for a coffin.

Inexplicably, it had 12 Likes.

Another went for broke. “All four of us are deathly ill. Fevers. Aches. Chills. Now my colon has turned into a fire hose.”

Twenty-two Likes. “Feel better!” dozens of others commented.

Facebook code for: “Stay the he** away from me.”

Somehow, we had sidestepped it all. With school out, our exposure chances had plummeted. We were completely safe until Westchase Elementary began mailing its March Madness Lice Letters.

Yet 20 minutes after the wet Christmas afternoon smooches and double back-slap hugs, Uncle David dropped Bomb Number One. “Full disclosure. Joshie barfed the other day but he’s fine now.”

I looked over at my 4-year-old nephew.

The screeching firecracker who’s normally climbing bookshelves, crashing through the house and scrunching his large plastic Marvel superheroes into my cheeks, looked only slightly less green than The Hulk. He was sprawled across all the wrapped presents beneath the tree, gurgling and comatose at 3 p.m., LEGOs stuck to his cheeks.

His sister, Maddie, 6, swooped over. She waggled a finger and screamed, “THEREISNOFINGERFAIRY!”

Her traditional greeting ever since I told her, two years back when she lost her first tooth, that dozens of different fairies would thereafter be retrieving various body parts when they fell off. 

“I don’t get a hug?”

Maddie seized my leg and wiped her nose on my pants.

Whipping up the sweet potato casserole, her mom dropped Bomb Number Two. “She woke up with a fever this morning but she’s all good now.”

We had walked into a trap.

We were spending Christmas with Those Parents.

People who, if their children contracted Ebola, would show up at the playground and responsibly announce, 30 minutes after the kids began playing together, “Well, little Ashley’s eyeball melted two hours ago, but she perked up considerably after her juicebox.”


You’ve been warned. It’s all on you now – the responsibility, the guilt AND the germs.

Four days later?

A dozen additional human beings were moaning on their sofas, LEGOS stuck to their faces.

Science Trivia Crack Question: What’s worse than your entire family contracting the flu at the same time?

Science Trivia Crack Answer: Your entire family contracting the flu at the same time with no working TV remote.

So, with a 103 fever and a wracking cough, I pulled myself to the minivan. And I swerved four miles down the road to the Bright House office on Linebaugh Avenue.

To hold my breath and stand in line behind an ancient guy with Einstein hair who clearly relished the opportunity to spend his entire morning arguing over a 32 cent credit.

Yes, I was That Guy.

Standing behind That Other Guy.

I finally reached the counter. The Bright House lady took one look. Alarmed, she instinctively leaned away. 

I extended the remote. “Please, for the love of gahd...”

The tips of two fingers seized the remote. She hurled it into a garbage can and shoved something at me.

“You gave me two!”

I smiled, which actually hurt. “God bless your heart.”

I staggered toward the door, pulled it open and steadied myself.

“Feel better!” she shouted.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Recreation Center Programs: February

We’ve added some new classes!


Insanity "LIVE"
This new class begins Feb. 10. Get ready to dig deeper than you ever thought you could! Certified Insanity Instructor, Kris Alderson, will be teaching cardio at its best! (Youth and adults welcome)
When: Tue, 6:30 p.m.; Sat, 7:45 a.m.
Cost: $6/Class

Combine Latin, American and international music with a fun, effective workout.
When: Mon, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $6/Class

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

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

Adult Open Gym Basketball
When: Thu, 6-9 p.m.; Fri, 8-10 a.m.; Sat, 8-11 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Activities

Senior Pickle Ball
Pickle ball is a racquet sport combining elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Tone and Stretch
Engage in social activity while exercising to build strength, flexibility and increase range of motion.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9-10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Walking Club
Enjoy walking indoors at your own pace. Meet new friends and enjoy a morning walk rain or shine.
When: Mon and Wed, 8-9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Field Trips
Adult Senior Field Trips
When: First Thursday of every month
Cost: Call center for details.

Toddler Activities

Pint-sized Picassos
Each week focuses on an element of art and offers a unique project that is sure to be a keeper.
When: Tue, 9:15-10 a.m.
Ages: 3-4
Cost: $8/Session

Broadway Babies
Introduction to performing arts, songs, and dance that all become part of mini-musical number students perform at a later recital.
When: Wed, 1-1:45 p.m.
Ages: 3-5
Cost: $7/Session

Grade 5/Middle School/Teens

Dodgeball Fitness and Training
Join us on select Friday evenings and improve your dodgeball skills. Games are played inside the gym in an enclosed arena with Dodgeball2U! Learn how to play dodgeball and get fit too!
When: Second and Fourth Friday of the month, 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $10

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

Girls and Boys Instructional Basketball
Focus on learning ball-handling skills and competitive games. Character-based program teaches basketball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.
When: Mon, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session
Ages: 11-14


Girls and Boys Instructional Basketball
Focus on learning ball-handling skills and competitive games. Character based program teaches basketball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.
Ages: Grades K-8
When: Mon, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

Girls Elementary Volleyball
Learn the skills and fundamentals of competitive play and have fun.
Ages: Grades 3-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

The Young Apprentice
Each week focuses on an element of art and offers a unique project sure to be a keeper.
When: Sat, 9-10 a.m.; 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Ages: Grades K-5
Cost: $10/Session

Homeschool Art Club
Make art. Make friends. Have fun! Each week will be a new lesson appropriate for students in Grades K-5. Visit the calendar on to see upcoming lessons.
When: Tue, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Ages: Grades K-5
Cost: $10

Coming soon: Adult Basketball League! Call the center if interested.

All activities take place at:

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


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Crime: December 2014

Major Chad Chronister, the new District III commander of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, appeared at January’s VM meeting.

The District III office encompasses Westchase. Speaking to voting members, Chronister offered advice that has appeared on this page frequently. While Westchase has a low crime rate, the crimes that occur are ones of opportunity, largely caused by open garages and unlocked cars – and even cars with valuables left in them.

“Let’s not make it easy for anybody,” advised Chronister. “There are people who will check every door to see if it’s locked and every car door. They will try 30 cars and find one unlocked.”

Remember to close garages, remove valuables from cars and lock them as well. These three simple steps will nearly eliminate the chances of falling victim to crime in Westchase.



9700 Montague St.

Curtilage with Theft


10300 Millport Dr.

Theft From a Vehicle


12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Theft From a Vehicle


12400 Berkeley Square Dr.

Curtilage with Theft


9400 Cavendish Dr.



10600 Esher Wood Ct.

Criminal Mischief Felony


10400 Springrose Dr.



W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.



Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.



W. Linebaugh Ave./Montague St.



W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.



W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.



W. Linebaugh Ave./ Radcliffe Dr.

Burglary Other Structure


9900 Montague St.



10600 Sheldon Rd.



10600 Sheldon Rd.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


10000 Montague St.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


10200 Woodford Bridge St.

Theft From a Building


10500 Greencrest Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


Radcliffe Dr./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


Sudbury Ct./Bradwell Pl.

Public Intoxication


10600 Sheldon Rd.

Obstructing Police (Non-Violent)


9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Seniors Remember Charlie Chaplin

The Westchase Seniors Group is going to see Funny Bones at the Carrollwood Cultural Center on Feb. 20 at 8 p.m.

Funny Bones, the comedy of Charlie Chaplin, will take us on a magical excursion into Chaplin’s enchanted comic world through film clips, live performance and the screening of a newly restored version of The Pawnshop, Chaplin’s short 1916 masterpiece. Dan Kamin, who trained Robert Downey Jr. for his Oscar-nominated performance in Chaplin, will help us celebrate 100 years of The Little Tramp. The program is one that all ages enjoy, from kids to seniors. A sample video may be seen at funny-bones-the-comedy-of-charlie-chaplin/.

Advance tickets are $28 and same day tickets, if available, will be $31. Tickets may be purchased by calling 922-8167 or by ordering online at If yo.u would like to car pool to the Carrollwood Cultural Center, please arrive at the parking lot of the old location of St Joseph Health Clinic on Linebaugh Avenue by 7:15 p.m.

This January's celebration of a previous decade (2000-2009) was another rousing success. After enjoying a great meal and some desserts to die for (made by Anita Steinfield), Betty Vance started us off by helping us to remember many events and interesting facts of the last decade. We are often surprised about just how much our world and our lives have changed in just a few years. Also, this is always an interesting and enjoyable party as we learn more about our friends’ and neighbors’ memorable times in their lives. We want to give a big thank you to Bette Vance, Anita Steinfeld and Phyllis Kanik for planning, decorating and hosting this enjoyable gathering of Westchase Seniors.

Senior Bus Trip The Senior Bus Trip from the Westchase Rec Center has been set for Thursday, Feb 5. We’ll be headed to the Wiregrass Mall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please call 964-2948 by Feb. 4 if you want to go.

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 a food purchase and the conversations are always enjoyable. Grab your coffee and join us. You can’t miss us. We are the “older” but “young at heart” people laughing and having a great 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 in and pay their own way. To receive e-mails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473).

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

The Pattersons are residents of Kingsford and can be reached at or 926-5473.


Please login or register to post a comment.

Four Love Stories in One

In interlocking novellas, Naomi Wood gives life to the women who loved and lost the legendary author, Ernest Hemingway.

Mrs. Hemingway is written in a singular style, narrated by his four wives. Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, and Mary Welsh each start their section of the book with the end of the relationship. They then shift back to crucial moments on the path from lover to spouse. Using snippets of dialogue and quotations from biographies and letters, the well-researched narrative imaginatively fuses facts with fiction. Wood is so skillful I was never sure what I could find on Google and what she’d invented.

Hemingway’s wives are at the heart of the novel. Wood shines by creating equally sympathetic characters with individual personalities. Hadley, the first wife, was older, quiet and generous while the second wife, Pauline, was young, rich and flirty. Martha, a glamorous, brilliant war correspondent, became Hemingway’s third wife and Mary was so devoted she abandoned her career as a journalist to become the final wife.

As in life, Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary appear in each other’s chapters. The tension between the women’s tolerance toward each other and their competitiveness for Hemingway’s affection is captivating. Constant underlying conflict maintains narrative momentum across an expansive time frame from the 1920s through the 1960s.

Wood depicts Hemingway as a man of contradictions, his need for excitement a counterpoint to a longing for the steadiness of marriage. Each wife provided the stability, each mistress, the exhilaration. The paradox framed their existence. Every Mrs. Hemingway believed her love story would last forever. Each was mistaken.

Wide-ranging settings add dimension to the novel by contrasting the couples’ lives. Through understated prose and deft images, Wood evokes a vivid sense of Antibes, Key West, Cuba, the Spanish Civil War, and Paris and England during World War II.

In a magnetic account of passion, love and heartbreak, Mrs. Hemingway offers fresh perspective on the complicated, intertwined lives of the acclaimed author and his wives. Whether you are a Hemingway fan or just enjoy a good story, it should be on your reading shortlist.

By Carol Collins


Please login or register to post a comment.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her

Some people think of Valentine’s Day solely as a holiday to celebrate their love for their partner.

Not me! The hubs and I, of course, have our own little celebration every Feb. 14, but I also consider heart day a time to show all my loved ones how much I care. And many of my very favorite people are the ladies in my life.

So this month, I’ve rounded up some darling Valentine’s Day gift-for-her ideas for the gals you love! Would you believe I found almost everything at a boutique right here in Tampa?

Shop local people! That’s all I’m sayin’.

Tate and Tilly on North Dale Mabry Highway carries a slew of fabulous vendors with pretty trinkets that any lady would love. Let’s start with your mom. I don’t know about your mother, but mine is all about the holiday decorating. Whether it’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, name it, she’s decking her house out for it! So, I knew she would love a handmade door decoration. Tate and Tilly will even personalize it for free! I love it so much I’m considering getting something else for my mom and hanging this in my baby girl’s room, but I digress...

Next on my shopping list are the little ladies. My daughter is a sucker for anything sparkly. I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. I bet some of you have little girls who feel the same way. I picked up a darling glitter bow headband that I know will thrill my tiniest Valentine to pieces. It will be a fabulous addition to her accessories wardrobe and I have just the outfit in mind to style it with!

Speaking of little ones...Do you know an expecting mama? Chewbeads and a mini Jellybean stuffie would make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for a mom to be. Their jewelry can actually be chewed on. How cool is that? My sister will be welcoming a bouncing baby boy soon and I know she’ll love aValentine perfect pink bangle! You would never know that it serves a function beyond being a beautiful bauble.

As for your teens and tweens I chose a killer pair of bejeweled skull earrings and a lovely little tin to keep precious treasures in. The earrings have just the right amount of edge and the tin has a cool boho vibe that I’m really digging. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind receiving this gift myself. Clearly I’m very young at heart. Ha ha!

So, when you head out to do your Valentine’s Day shopping this year, consider picking up a few things to show those fabulous women in your life just how much you appreciate them!

I daresay they’ll be tickled pink!

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<./p>


Please login or register to post a comment.

Two Seats Open for WOW Board of Directors

If you want to volunteer to serve Westchase and play a role in making WOW the best magazine around, read on.

Two seats on the World of Westchase, Inc. (WOW) Board of Directors will be open for appointment in March. The seats of current WOW, Inc. Directors Jonathan Stein and Teresa Trubilla are up for appointment. The WOW, Inc. Board meets quarterly to oversee the magazine’s operations and set its operating policies. The board currently consists of five Westchase homeowners and is seeking candidates for the positions.

The process to fill the two-year volunteer positions will begin with all interested candidates and their resumes being presented to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors at their March 12 meeting. In his role as “The Member,” WCA Director Keith Heinemann, representing the WCA as the WOW’s single shareholder, will then cast the votes appointing the WOW, Inc. Directors.

Candidates must be WCA members in good standing; backgrounds in accounting, print and digital publishing and/or small business management are desirable.
Interested residents are encouraged to submit a resume, along with a one-page statement of interest in the position, by mail to the Westchase Community Association, Inc., 10049 Parley Drive, Tampa, FL 33626, via e-mail to and or by fax to 926-1821. Submissions must be received by March 9. For more information contact Heinemann at or 335-6579.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA’s Feb. 13 Movie in The Park is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

On Friday, Feb. 13, Westchase’s free family movies in the park return! Bring chairs, blankets and snacks to the West Park Village Town Center Green on Montague Street. The movies begin at dusk (Don’t forget your insect repellant!). February’s movie is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (PG).


Please login or register to post a comment.

Short CDD Meeting Tackles Survey Points and Food Truck Rally

February’s meeting of the Westchase CDD reinforced the district’s historic position of declining any use of Westchase park land that primarily benefits commercial interests.

Gathering on Tuesday, Feb. 3, supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) cleaned up their financial books by addressing unallocated expenses related to the installation of new survey datum points in recently repaved roads in Stonebridge, The Greens and Harbor Links/The Estates. The points are used to shoot surveys of property lines. Supervisors voted unanimously to allocate $2,500 in Stonebridge funds for the work there. The board will address costs related to The Greens and Harbor Links/The Estates when work is completed there at an estimated $70 per hour.

The CDD maintains West Park’s alleys and roads within gated neighborhoods and homeowners pay additional CDD assessments for their costs.

With supervisors’ recent finalization of the contract for their parks improvement plan, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick suggested the board ask Stantec, which won the contract, to make recommendations for enhanced signage delineating park rules. Supervisors asked CDD Office Administrator Sonny Whyte to highlight needed rules for McCormick’s review.

Supervisors also passed a clarifying motion stipulating that the newly approved Greens gatehouse contract with Securitas, establishing an 80-cents-per-hour increase to cover mandated health insurance coverage for employees, be made retroactive to Jan. 1. Supervisors voted 4-1 for the motion, with Supervisor Brian Ross opposed. Ross stated that during the passage of the original contract requested by Securitas he had made a mental note that Securitas had not specified a retroactive Jan. 1 start date. District Manager Andy Mendenhall, however, stated that Securitas’ original written request had indicated the date.

Supervisors spent the balance of their 35-minute meeting addressing a request by Greens resident Gabriel Arrillaga Pedrosa to hold a food truck rally in conjunction with the WCA’s Movie in the Park on March 13 at the Montague Street green. Arrillaga Pedrosa stated that a portion of the funds would benefit the USF Boricua Students Association’s efforts to raise funds for Bulls for Kids, which does fundraising for All Children’s Hospital.

Under the proposed plan, the trucks would pull up to the curb and serve food onto the park land between the sidewalk and street.

Supervisors took no action on the request, however. They stated that while a portion of funds from food truck sales would benefit a charity, most would go to the for-profit food trucks, violating the district’s policy of not using park lands for for-profit activities. Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Kathy Carlsen, however, stated that similar activity was occurring already, with hot dog vendors pulling up on the road alongside the park during movie nights. She also pointed out that ice cream trucks were frequent visitors to Baybridge and Glencliff Parks. CDD Chair Mark Ragusa, however, stated that the district’s off-duty deputy patrol would be reminded of the district’s policy and would enforce any encountered violations. Arrillaga Pedrosa was encouraged, however, to explore closing down the Brompton Drive road in front of the West Park Village leasing office to allow the trucks to serve items directly onto the publicly owned road.

Closing discussion, Chair Ragusa passed on a commendation from residents for CDD Field Manager Doug Mays. Ragusa also asked staff to address illegal parking on Countryway Boulevard’s right of way adjacent to Glencliff Park’s party pavilions. He stated he had recently encountered a large pickup truck parked a third of the way onto the road during a party there.

Supervisors adjourned at 4:35 p.m. The CDD holds it meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. at the WCA office building on Parley Drive. Residents are welcome to attend.

By Christopher Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Crowd Funding a Future Music Teacher’s Dream

A young Kingsford resident who has defied the odds is now closer to fulfilling a dream – thanks to crowd funding and the power of social media.

Jonathan Sims, 17, a senior in Robinson High School’s IB program has a dream. Yet, at the age of four, the odds were starkly stacked against him.

His story begins with addiction and abuse, then takes a turn toward miraculous.

“I was born in Tennessee and lived with my mom there for three years,” he began.

The arrangement, however, was fraught with unpredictability “She got involved in drugs,” he explained.

With his mother’s addiction getting the better of her, Sims was shipped off to his father in Florida. “It was the same sort of deal,” he said.

There were more drugs and alcohol. What’s worse, the 4-year-old soon fell victim to physical abuse. “He would get angry and take that out on me.”

When Sims showed up at preschool with bruises one morning, his teacher inquired about their origin. “I told her the honest truth,” he said. “I then found myself in a police station with a bunch of police officers asking me questions.”

Removed from his father, Sims stayed briefly with his grandmother, but she had no place for him even to sleep. “It was either a family member takes me or I go into the foster care system,” he said of a moment on which his life pivoted.

His aunt, Amy Callaghan and her husband, Sean, worked a miracle in the young boy’s life. They stepped I, welcoming Jonathan into their lives and home.

While all thought it would be temporary, Jonathan remained with them for the next 13 years. Meanwhile Amy and Sean gave birth to four additional children.

While still technically part of the foster care system until he turns 18, Sims calls Amy and Sean mom and dad. He refers to their biological children as his brothers and sisters.

Fifth grade found him moving to Westchase with the Callaghans. Arriving at Davidsen Middle School, Jonathan joined the Davidsen band. “That’s where I found the passion for it.”

The “it” was music, which he aims to fashion into a lifelong career. The self-described hardcore band geek said, “I originally signed up to take the trumpet but there was a lack of tubas. One of my friends dared me to do it and I said, ‘OK.’”

He added, “And I’m still doing it.”

Sims is now a tubist with the award-winning Robinson High School band.  What’s more, he was recently named one of the eight best tubists in the nation with his acceptance by the Honor Band of America. After hearing about the opportunity from a friend in band camp, he sent in an audition tape toward the end of last year. He learned in January he had been accepted.

The honor offered the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana in March, where he’d spend three days rehearsing under the Michigan State University band director along with some of the nation’s top high school musicians. Afterward, they’d offer a Saturday concert and would be feted at an awards banquet.

Sims had one problem: a shortage of money to make the dream trip happen.

Enter social media.

In an effort to raise the $650 he needed for the conference, Sims created a page on GoFundMe, a crowdfunding Web site. “I’ve heard from other people that it works and I’ve seen the power of social media and how it gets spread so quickly.”

He posted a link on his Facebook page, which Amy Callaghan then shared on hers. “It was getting all over the place before I knew it. Facebook is a very nice tool,” Sims said.

Thirteen angels stepped forward, with anonymous donations including $100 and $150. With the original goal of the conference paid for, Sims plans on using any further funds for his $300 plane ticket.

What else might he need?

When WOW asked, he laughed wistfully. “What would be great would be if I could actually buy a tuba,” he said.

Sims currently doesn’t own the instrument on which he’s grown so accomplished.

The enormous instruments don’t come cheap. The least expensive models start at a few thousand dollars. They rise from there, topping out at the cost of a compact car.

Sims has applied to FSU, DePauw, Auburn, University of Tampa, where he’ll pursue a degree that will allow him to become a music teacher. “I want to start in high school. Then, when I get some experience there, I want go back to college and get my Ph.D. so I can teach there. That’s my end goal.”

On his GoFundMe page, Sims wrote, “Music has always played an important role in my life, throughout my difficult childhood, music was always there. Because I found this passion early on in life, I knew from a young age what direction my life is going. I plan on going to college and majoring in music education so I can share my love of music with others.”

Where will he head next year?

“A big factor will be how much they’re willing to offer scholarship-wise,” he said of his four choices. 

To help make Jonathan’s dream come true, you can visit his GoFundMe page and also make a donation. Simply visit


By Chris Barrett, Publisher


Please login or register to post a comment.

Solar Energy: A Home and World Improvement Project

In just 90 minutes the sun bathes our planet with enough energy to power everything on earth for an entire year.


And it’s scheduled to continue providing this free energy for the next 4.5 billion years.

How much are we capturing?

Solar energy now represents only 1.4 percent of all energy produced in the U.S. The rest our of energy needs are largely covered by coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear. Another renewable source, hydroelectric, provides about seven percent.

With the sun sitting roughly 93 million miles away, the light and heat currently leaving its surface won’t reach us for about another eight minutes. Yet it still drives all life on our planet, providing on average, about 1.37 kilowatts of energy per square meter of earth.

The next decade promises a dramatic shift in the amount of that free energy we collect. The last decade has a brought a revolution to solar-energy products, whose costs have plummeted. Meanwhile concerns about global climate change and our contributing dependence on fossil fuels have skyrocketed.

According to Dave Click of the Florida Solar Energy Center, “Generally, efficiencies have increased by roughly 50 percent and system prices are 60-80 percent lower compared with what was being installed in 2005.”

The Solar Energy Center, associated with University of Central Florida, was created by the Florida legislature in 1975 to serve as the state’s energy research institute.
Due to the drop in price of solar energy systems, a kilowatt of solar energy is now cheaper to produce than a kilowatt generated by a nuclear power plant. Solar energy is now competitive with even oil and natural gas.

A number of Americans, particularly in states with generous clean energy incentives, have suddenly taken notice. Thousands are hiring solar companies to free them from the grasp of their utility companies. Housing developers are increasingly seeing a benefit to incorporating solar panels and other devices into their new communities.

The result?

New net-zero communities like Trilogy, a Shea Homes development 30 miles outside Orlando.

Each Trilogy home comes with an electric charging station for cars and solar power systems. Owners of the homes, priced between $173,000-$367,000, have monthly electric bills that run about $10.

As recently as the year 2000, installation costs for solar panels were so high, their utility savings wouldn’t pay for them over the course of their 20-25 year lifespans. Solar products of old were purchased largely by the well-to-do and eco-friendly businesses.

All that’s changed.

After recently reviewing 45,000 solar estimates, weather patterns, utility savings and state and federal incentives, solar provider One Block Off the Grid recently calculated the repayment time for investments in solar panels. The shortest solar payback periods were seen in Massachusetts (four years) and Hawaii (5.4 years), New Jersey (6.5 years), Louisiana (6.6 years), Maryland (6.9 years), New York (8.2 years), Ohio (8.7 years), and California (nine years).
The states with the longest payback periods were Virginia (19.1 years), Idaho (19.1 years), Nebraska (19.2 years), Kansas (19.3 years), and Arkansas (19.7 years).
Yet now even the longest repayment periods cover the costs of their installations.

Where does Florida fall?

“It depends a lot on local regulations and pricing variability,” said Click, “but generally it’s in the 15-year timeframe.”

Florida, which touts itself as the Sunshine State, now has fewer solar energy installations in the state than New Jersey. Georgia, with a much smaller state population, is expected to surpass Florida in 2015.


Solar has to fight an uphill battle in the state, partly due to state laws, partly due to the influence of Florida’s utilities over their own state regulatory agency. “In many states, a homeowner or business owner can enter into a special contract with a solar developer who owns and operates the system on the property. This contract, called a power purchase agreement, is set up such that the homeowner pays the developer only for the solar power produced by the system,” observed Click.

“Unfortunately, 30 years ago a regulatory decision by the Public Service Commission made power purchase agreements illegal, and some utilities enforce this by requiring a customer to submit their contracts for review by the utility legal team,” he added. “In more solar-friendly states like Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, well over 50 percent of homeowners opt for third-party ownership. It’s clearly a policy that could lead to many more rooftop solar power systems across our state.”

Current law also forbids private entities other than the utilities from selling power to consumers. It also limits the sizes of solar arrays. “Hawaii, which has much less land area than Florida, of course, doesn’t even have a limit,” stated Click. “You should be able to install a larger solar power system in Florida than in West Virginia, but that’s not how it is right now.”

Click concluded, “The solar industry doesn’t need a handout, but a market.”

Some consumer groups are readying a push for a 2016 state constitutional amendment. It would grant the right to other entities to sell power to consumers, opening the door for consumers who would prefer to have companies install the systems on their roofs and then sell them the power.

That, as Click pointed out, would put a lot of lazy Florida roofs to work.

In the meantime, the only option for Floridians is to install and own their own solar systems.
At first glance, the costs can be a little intimidating. A closer study, however, reveals benefits that may spark Westchasers to adopt solar as their next home improvement project.

“The average home uses about 14,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year and would need perhaps a 10,000 watt south-facing system (about 800 square feet) to produce all the energy the house would consume over a year,” Click said. “This size system goes for perhaps $30,000-$35,000 today with [the current] 30 percent federal tax credit. If the customer decided to install a smaller system, we’ve seen pricing for a 5,000 watt system under $15,000 (so around $10,000 after the federal tax credit).”

Steve Rutherford of Tampa Energy Solutions, which provides solar systems, scratches his head that more homeowners don’t take advantage of solar power in the Sunshine State. “East of the Mississippi,” Rutherford said, “Florida is number one in solar production capacity.”

“We compete on level just behind Arizona, California and others,” he added.

But what about all those summer rains?

“We have clouds here,” acknowledged Rutherford, “but they don’t affect us as much as people think. We get plenty of sun.”

Until December 2016 the U.S. federal government is offering a 30 percent tax credit on the installation of most solar panels. A credit rather than a deduction, the tax deal offers a dollar for dollar savings off your tax bill. Once you factor in the 30 percent tax credit, the average $22,000 system will cost you $15,400. Some states, counties and municipalities offer further tax incentives and some utilities offer rebates (TECO’s has currently reached its limit but funds do occasionally become available throughout the year; utility companies, however, recently lobbied the state legislature to end the requirement that they offer such credits). Currently Westchase homeowners will only benefit from the federal tax credit.

To calculate your repayment period, now you would have to factor in current utility rates and projected savings. Here Florida offers a wrinkle. Florida’s electricity rates, at about 13 or 14 cents per kilowatt hour, are some of the lowest rates charged for electricity in the nation. Electricity in Hawaii, for example costs three to four times more. Combined with their local government solar incentives, Hawaii’s utility savings will pay for a solar system in just over five years. The savings from the next 20 years of utility bills can then be banked or spent by the homeowner.

For a 2,100 square foot Westchase home, the annual electric bill, with a variable speed pool pump and a thermostat set to 78 degrees during the day and 73 degrees at night, will set you back roughly $1,700 per year, an average of $142 per month. If your $15,400 system cuts that by 65 percent, you’re looking at a 14 year payback. And you can bank thousands after that over the lifespan of the system.

For those wondering how they can avoid paying for the electricity they use each night after the sun goes down, the answer is “net metering.” Current law compels utilities to pay homeowners the going rate for solar power they don’t use during the day. Solar systems essentially cause homeowners electric meters to run backwards by sending unused solar power back to TECO. The surplus built up during sunny portions of days is used up at night and during cloudy days. If you’re on vacation for a half a month, the credit will roll over to the next month.
But with seven percent of Westchase homes selling on average every year, does it still make sense to make the investment?

When WOW posed that question to local Realtors, Doug Wood of Coldwell Banker’s the Wood Team, responded, “Wow. Good timing.”

Wood recently handled the sale of a Woodbay home with a solar system. While the home featured other amenities, Wood stated, “As far as pricing and recouping costs at sale of the home, I would say much of the cost (depending if the owner was able to get the incentives provided by the utility companies) can be recouped on sale and over time in savings.  The [Woodbay home] sold $203.86 per square foot, which was probably $5 to $10 greater than one could reasonably expect.  The reasons were first the home has a pool and was upgraded and immaculate, plus the solar panels I believe had an impact with the appraiser.”

Its former owner, Dave Naymick, lived in the home for nine years. Two years prior to selling, Naymick decided to put on the system. He hired a company called Solar Source to do the work. “The work they did was great,” he said.

Naymick went so far as to explore whether he could save money by purchasing the materials independently and installing them himself. He found, however, given available credits, he could save money by going through the company.

Click agreed that solar is not a do-it-yourself project. When asked if homeowners should ever attempt to install their own solar system, Click responded, “Absolutely not. Despite what some scam Web sites would tell you, you can’t unplug from the utility company after buying a $50 how-to guide and assembling a system in a box from China. Solar power systems are very complex and we’re still far removed from a true ‘plug and play’ product. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you are much more likely to get shocked or fall off your roof and die. Heights, electricity, and unfamiliar technology really aren’t a good mix for the untrained.”

Naymick paid $21,500 for a 4.855 kilowatt system. He saved about $1,500 by foregoing the company’s financing.

His motive?

Saving money on his utilities. “I love the environment but it’s not my driving force.”

“The deal was right,” Naymick explained. “There were financial tax credits from the government as well as a TECO-sponsored credit.”

Without the credits, Naymick said that utility savings would pay for the 25-year system in 28 years. The credits made the system make financial sense. “For me to do it again, I’d need both credits,” he acknowledged.

Naymick, who said he kept his thermostat set to 77, observed, “About five-eighths of my electric bill went away.”

Naymick also pointed out one reason why New Jersey is one of the leading solar producers in the country: its cool weather. Solar systems actually produce more energy when its components are cooler. Despite featuring the shortest days of the year, December’s cool and dryer days produced the most solar energy for him.

While he lived in the house only two years, Naymick said the presence of the system did help with his home’s sale. “I think I set the new high water mark for price per square foot [in Westchase]. I’m pretty sure it’s the only reason it appraised at that amount.”

Homeowners considering solar systems have a couple of options. Like Naymick they can opt for the traditional rack of photovoltaic panels, bolted to your rooftop. Prior to installation, owners should check whether the panel installation will impact their roof warranty. Homeowners who install them should also understand their wind code rating due to the area’s susceptibility to tropical storms.

Another option, growing in popularity but still rare in Florida, are solar shingles. Offered by both Dow Powerhouse of Michigan and CertainTeed of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the devices are designed to look like mini-solar panels built right into shingles. Featuring a far smaller profile than traditional bulky panels, they lie flat on homes’ roofs and take the place of actual asphalt shingles. Their main disadvantage is cost.

While Westchase’s governing documents are currently silent on solar shingles, Florida statute 163.04 restricts a homeowners association’s ability to limit or ban solar collectors. All exterior modifications to Westchase homes, however, still require prior approval by the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) Modifications Committee.

How do solar shingles differ from the more commonplace bolt-down panels?

“We’re seeing the total installed cost coming in at 15-20 percent higher than the standard rack model.” acknowledged Mark Stancroff with CertainTeed.

Josh Wimble of Dow’s Marketing and Business Communications Department, stated that, to achieve the same energy output, solar shingles require a bit more roof area than bolt-down panels. “However, typically it is not such a huge drawback because we can design them for unique roof shapes,” he stated.

In other words, the shingles, unlike the photovoltaic panels, don’t have to be rectangular.
Wimble argued there are great benefits to solar shingles. Rather than paying for both traditional asphalt shingles and then bolt-down panels, homeowners have to spring for just the solar shingles in one area of the roof and asphalt shingles elsewhere – and local, trained roofers install them at the same time. Dow will put you in contact with their installers while CertainTeed offers a page on their Web site that offers the names of certified installers, which must be used to ensure the company honors its product warranties.

Wimble noted that the solar shingles come with two 20-year warranties. The first, a performance warranty, will replace the solar shingles if they lose more than 10 percent of their energy output in the first decade or 20 percent over two decades.

All solar panels, according to our experts, generally see a decline in output of about one-half of one percent each year.

The second Dow warranty is a 20-year weatherization warranty. Dow’s solar shingles can be walked on and are wind-tested to 150 miles per hour.

CertainTeed is still working on approval for Florida’s tough wind codes. Their product is not Miami-Dade certified but does currently meets 110-mile per hour wind codes.

While offering a similar performance guarantee as Dow, CertainTeed’s weatherization and installation warranty is 15 years. Its price, according to Stancroff, however, is lower than Dow’s.
Wimble points out the solar shingles’ low profile give them a better chance of withstanding an intense hurricane than the bolt down racks. And their installation won’t void existing roof warranties. Further, solar shingles require ten times fewer roof surface penetrations than bolt-down panels.

Dow’s product, however, cannot be used with Spanish barrel-tile roofs. CertainTeed, however, does offer a flat solar shingle for incorporation into barrel-tile roofs.

According to Dow, for a 2,500-square-foot Florida home with a 3,000-square-foot roof, the installation of an asphalt-shingle roof will run about $13,500. Implementing solar shingles to offset 80 percent of electricity costs will run $38,360, or roughly $25,000 more. A 40 percent energy offset will increase the roof replacement cost by $15,000. 

Both companies, like most solar installers, offer financing opportunities to help pay costs off over a number of years. The product is also eligible for the 30 percent federal tax credit.

Solar power, however, is not possible everywhere. Generally it requires a roof with a southern exposure that is free from the shade of trees. Homes with existing solar pool heaters may find they lack adequate roof space for additional solar panels. In that case, according to Rutherford, you have to choose between a colder pool or cheaper electricity. Using online satellite photos, most installers, however, can call up images of your home to advise you on the possibilities before even scheduling a visit.

If your roof space is limited, there are other options. Smaller arrays can be used to power solar water heaters. Solar water heaters require only 40 square feet of roof space. Running roughly $4,000, Rutherford says that solar heaters heat water to higher temperatures than gas heaters, then mix heated and cooler water to achieve the desired temperatures. “They easily last 10 years,” he said, adding some owners have gotten 15 years out of them.

Homeowners need not worry about the hot water running out at night. Homeowners can install 100 gallon tanks. For cloudy days or days of heavy use, the solar water heaters also come with an electric backup.

Requiring only 60-80 square feet of roof space, solar pool pumps, which run from $4,000-10,000, will keep your pool water filtered and clean without adding an extra burden to your electric bill.

Requiring roughly the same area as a full-size solar array, a solar pool heater, however, doesn’t use photovoltaic cells. Running roughly $4,000, pool heaters use a series of black, rubber tubes that absorb solar heat from your roof and transfer it to your pool. They generally extend the swimming season by providing warmer water a month earlier and a month later than a pool with no heater. Used with a thermal cover, however, solar heaters can keep families swimming nearly year round. For those who simply prefer warm water, a solar pool heater will keep you toasty and warm without added natural gas costs.

Clearly, with the growing number of products as well as growing efficiencies and falling prices, solar energy in Florida has a bright, expansive future.

Now embracing solar power isn’t just a smart and sensible Westchase home improvement project.

It’s a world-improvement project.

Solar shingle photos courtesy of Dow Powerhouse.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

2015 Home Improvement Guide Summaries

WOW thanks the following home improvement specialists for helping to bring you the Home Improvement Special. The listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Home Improvement Special. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the businesses and ask all relevant questions prior to engaging their services.

A Superior Plumbing
(813) 852-1118
A Superior Plumbing Solution provides quality, on-time, 24-hour residential and commercial plumbing services. Westchase residents, we serve the greater Tampa area. Your satisfaction is guaranteed!

Advanced Cooling Systems, Inc.
(813) 855-6006
Focused on 100 percent customer satisfaction. Offering the best air conditioning warranty in the industry, 12 years parts and labor on qualifying systems. A+ rated on BBB and all A's on Angie's List.

Anderson Aluminum
(813) 961-1764
Make your dreams a reality with Anderson Aluminum. Specialists in shingled insulated roof systems. We offer screen room and pool enclosures.

C&C Painting
(813) 886-7100
The trusted interior and exterior painting professionals for over 15 years in Westchase. Call us for a prompt and professional quote.

Carlson Construction
(727) 744-8397
We are a painting and pressure washing contractor with over 2,000 projects completed in Westchase. Interior and exterior. Sherwin Williams approved.

Citrus Park Lawn Care
(813) 480-8216
Full service lawn care: mowing, fertilizer, pest control, weed/disease control, sod, mulch, plants, sprinkler service, tree trimming, indoor pest control. One call-one company!

Custer Cleaning
(727) 458-8763
We have been in business since 1993. Our business is built on integrity with attention to detail providing professional window cleaning and pressure cleaning.

Done Rite Roofing
(813) 530-8458
Serving the entire Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater-Pasco areas for over 17 years. Done Rite Roofing is an approved applicator of Lifetime roofing products and workmanship warranties.

Ely Contracting
(813) 431-9412
Specializing in bathroom and kitchen remodels and all of your “honey do” needs! Owned and operated by Pat Ely, a Florida Certified Building Contractor.

Famous Tate
(813) 749-2320
Since 1954 we have been serving the Tampa Bay area with great deals on appliances and mattress sets. We will help find the right product for your budget!

Hanover Floors Carpet One Showroom
(813) 920-0706
From design ideas through installation, Hanover provides quality at affordable pricing. Our showroom has a wide selection of products, knowledgeable and friendly staff to help you.

Hybrid Construction
(813) 300-8019
Licensed and insured general contractor (CGC #1515916). Residential and commercial. We take pride in being responsive, professional and reliable. Free estimates.

Florida Forever Floors by Home Floors
(813) 854-5677
We look forward to serving you and assisting you through your next flooring project. Whether it is an exotic hardwood floor, carpet or tile, we go the extra distance to handle your project with care.

Motts Contracting
(813) 931-7596
Serving you since 2004, specializing in residential remodels and additions, interior and exterior painting, roofing and other specialty services including carpentry, flooring and pavers as well as handyman projects.

Orlicki Group Mortgage Services
(813) 235-0938
Robert DiGiore – your mortgage and real estate resource in Westchase. My team and I specialize in low cost refinancing programs and VA loans for veterans.

Sears Garage Door
(866) 344-4093
A new garage door will give your home a whole new look. Choose from our classic Carriage House Collection or our vast selection of traditional style garage doors.

Sears Entry Door
(866) 344-4093
A new front entry door, storm door, or patio door from Sears. All doors are handcrafted using the very best products, professional care and detail.

Sears Handyman Solutions
(866) 344-4093
Let us help maintain your home. We have knowledgeable, background checked, uniformed craftsmen that can help with all of your home project needs.

Screens ‘R’ Us
(813) 295-1217
Energize and enjoy your outdoor space. From single panels to full rescreens, we will help you rejuvenate your outdoor space to take full advantage of your screened patio.

(813) 885-6900
Stone-Mart is your source for premium travertine at the most competitive cost. We maintain an on-hand inventory of over 4 million square feet.

Summit Bay Construction
(813) 892-4203
Specializing in custom homes, remodeling and home additions. Licensed, insured and A+ rated from the BBB, customer satisfaction and project quality are our top priorities!

Tampa Bay Air Conditioning
(813) 949-2114
Let us help keep you warm all winter and cool all summer. Specializing in service, repair and installation for all makes.

Tampa Energy Solutions
(813) 398-3687
Stop leasing your power from the electric companies and own it with a new solar power system. Solar panels for your home, water heaters, pool pumps and pool heaters.

Westfall Roofing
(813) 264-5690
We would like to thank the Stonebridge Community. It has been our pleasure serving all of your roofing needs. From our family to yours.


Please login or register to post a comment.