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2019 WOW Sylvester Scholarship Application Deadline Is March 5

Have you shown a commitment to academics and community service during your high school career?

If so, WOW encourages you to apply for its WOW Sylvester Community Service Scholarship. You can find the application here: 2019 WOW Sylvester Scholarship Application

The WOW Sylvester Community Service Scholarship recognizes Westchase students whose high school careers reflect a commitment to both academics and community service. The scholarship commemorates Greens resident Ernie Sylvester, whose life reflected a commitment of service to his country and to his beloved Westchase community.

The WOW Sylvester Community Service Scholarship is open to Westchase residents who are high school seniors (or home-schooled students) and who will attend their first year of college in 2019. Eligible Westchase students have a parent or guardian residing within the boundaries of the Westchase Community Association (WCA). Residents of the West Park Village Apartments and Lexington apartments are also eligible.

Since the inception of the program in 2006, the WOW Scholars program has awarded dozens of scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500, to Westchase college-bound students. Last year WOW awarded six $2,000 scholarships (scholarship awards may vary based on WOW income). The 2018 winners were featured in our June 2018 cover story.

Interested students must fill out an online application, a link to which can be found by logging onto http://www.WestchaseWOW.com and clicking on the link for WOW’s Sylvester Scholars, located at the very bottom of the homepage after WOW Info.

The application and supporting materials must be completed and submitted by Tuesday, March 5.

Supporting materials for the application include certified copies of the student’s high school transcript; copies of  SAT and/or ACT score reports; two character reference letters, one of which must attest to community service; and a personal essay including information about the student’s community service, academic achievements, other achievements, personal goals, and any other information or factors, including need, that the student believes bears upon why he or she should receive a scholarship.

For more information, contact WOW Publisher Chris Barrett at 920-9809 or e-mail editor@westchasewow.com.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Board Addresses Growing Legal Fees and Swim Team Income Decline

At the WCA Board’s January meeting, directors discussed growing legal fees and voted for a new swim team contract after debating its $12,800 cut to association swim team income. Directors also formally apologized to a previous member of its Swim Committee.

During the resident forum of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors January meeting, West Park Village Voting Member Mary Griffin asked the board to reconsider a decision they made at their December meeting, when Facilities Manager Kelly Shires asked the board to tell Hillsborough County they could no longer use the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center meeting room for elections. “I’m concerned that you did not discuss it long enough,” said Griffin. “I think you should get an opinion from a lawyer about our liability if a child is hurt because of the extra traffic. We have more programs and more activities now. Or you need to cancel activities for the day.”

Board President Ruben Collazo said that the board had decided at that meeting to cancel programs and activities on election days and Shires confirmed that they would be doing so. 
Board Treasurer Shawn Yesner said that he had been researching WCA legal fees. “We’re over, about double of what we budgeted,” he said. He stated he had talked to the WCA’s legal counsel and received copies of all the bills and that the WCA had typical called upon their attorney when they needed an opinion or advice. “We’ve been over budget the last five years. I think we need to increase the budget and look at this during budget season.” 

Yesner said he had also noticed that the Masters Early Bird Swim Program had been operating at a loss for the past four years. He added the only way the program could break even would be to increase resident fees from $35 to $60 and non-resident fees from $45 to $80. Director Joaquin Arrillaga pointed out that the program could lose participants due to the increase but Collazo said, “We can’t be losing money on programs.”

Arrillaga agreed, stating, “The board has a standing policy that programs have to be self-sufficient.”

Directors voted 5-1 with Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock casting the dissenting vote in favor of the increase. Board Secretary Keith Heinemann was absent from the meeting.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein said that Countryway Avenue would be under repair until March, Forrest Lake Road would be under construction for 908 days beginning the end of January and that the Citrus Park Drive extension was currently on hold while the county worked with Fawn Ridge to answer their questions and concerns. Goldstein nominated Nancy Sells to serve on the GAC committee and all directors voted in favor of his nomination. 

Wait-Woodcock, who is chair of the new Swim Committee, reported that Fords resident Tania Baumhover had agreed to be a parent communication liaison but said she was waiting for the other members of the committee to be approved before taking any other steps. Goldstein, who had previously served as Swim Committee Chair, asked her about an email she had sent Collazo stating that she had three companies interested in being replacements for the swim program. “How’s that possible if you don’t have a committee?” he said.

Wait-Woodcock responded, “That is from the last swim committee—the companies we talked to during due diligence.” She said that during the switch, parents were talking to other groups and some had contacted her. Wait-Woodcock pointed out that the email he was referring to was dated back to Dec. 14. Goldstein asked her if she had promised any company anything and she responded, “No.”

All directors voted in favor of the nine residents and four non-residents Wait-Woodcock had submitted to be on the committee with the caveat that the non-residents did not have voting rights.

Directors then turned their attention to Pipeline Swim’s proposed contract to run the WCA swim program. Arrillaga said he had concerns because Pipeline was only paying $750 a month to rent the facilities (the money covers the cost of chemicals and upkeep to the pool) and that there were no guidelines about how much Pipeline could raise fees by. He pointed out that last year the swim program brought in $17,000 in revenue for the WCA. (The WCA split revenues roughly 80-20 with the previous swim coach.) “We’re giving our facilities away,” said Arrillaga. “We don’t even rent the activity room. We’re going to lose money.”

Collazo said it was unfair to call it a loss. “We’re not going to lose money,” he countered. “We’re just not bringing that income in.”

“It is a loss, when we use that money to determine our budget,” countered Arrillaga.

Pipeline’s owner asked, “Is your goal to serve the community and give a better product or is your goal not to lose profit?” He pointed out that resident participation had increased from 40 to 80 percent since Pipeline began running the program.

Wait-Woodcock asked Pipeline what they paid at other pools and was told that it ranged from $600-775.

Collazo said, “I’m very happy with the level of professionalism and think they are doing the job we envisioned them doing.

Goldstein added, “When it was an employee model, we had to do a lot of the administration. By going to a turnkey program, we’re reducing operational costs.”

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz confirmed that Shires and the lifeguards had previously handled billing, customer service and promotion. 

Arrillaga, however, said, “But Greenacre’s cost is not coming down, Kelly’s salary is not coming down, the lifeguards’ cost is not coming down.”

Greenacre Properties Inc. is the association’s management company.

Harbor Links resident Dale Sells, who was in the audience, remarked, “I thought the goal from last month was to recognize that you’re going from an employee run to turnkey program and there are going to be some unknowns. But you do it for  the year and then evaluate it.”

Griffin added, “If nothing else changes, you’re going to raise everyone’s dues almost $6 to make up for the loss of revenue. A program has changed and you want the homeowners to subsidize it. You need to find another way to subsidize this loss.”

Director Michele Del Sordo pointed out, “If we didn’t do a program, we’d still lose $16,000 plus we wouldn’t have the program.”

Arrillaga suggested they go back to doing the program the way it was previously run.

Yesner pointed out that with adjustments for salaries, the loss was closer to $12,765, which was less than one percent of the WCA budget.

Pipeline’s representative agreed to increase the amount of rent they paid for the facilities, ultimately settling on $850 a month. Directors voted 4-2 in favor of accepting the contract with some wording changes and the new rental fee. Wait-Woodcock and Arrillaga cast the dissenting votes. Subsequently, Pipeline’s representatives departed.

Directors then turned the discussion to tennis and tournaments. Goldstein said that he had reached out to Eric Pogue, organizer of last year’s Westchase Tennis Tournament, to see if he would like to head fundraising for a future event and that Pogue had declined. Arrillaga said, “I thought we weren’t going to have an event anyway.”

Yesner said, “An individual cannot run a tennis tournament. You need an organization that wants to. It is not our job to run a tournament.”

Wait-Woodcock, however, asked, “Did the board say we were going to run the tournament?”

Directors ultimately agreed that that they could not run a tournament but would need an organization to do so.

Harbor Links Resident Yelena Maloney, a member of the previous Swim Committee under Goldstein, told the board that she was there seeking a formal apology for the way she and her family had been treated and for a refund of the swim fees she had paid for her children to participate in the swim program because they were not allowed to compete and had been belittled and treated poorly by Pipeline. She said that one of the coaches had, “talked about her to other parents in front of her kids,” and that the children had come home crying and upset about it.

Radcliffe resident Jim Wimsatt asked the board, “Why did you just let Pipeline leave when you knew this was coming?”

Coach Patrick, Pipeline’s representative, was called by phone and agreed to return to the meeting.

Arrillaga said, “We don’t have the money from the fees. We collected the money but we gave it to them.”

When Patrick returned, Maloney made her request again. Patrick said that her child was not able to compete because he had not signed the “code of conduct.” But Maloney said, “I registered him for the meet at the end of October. In mid-November, I received an email that Pipeline was not registering my kids for the meet because of accusations made at a meeting.”

Maloney, as a member of the Swim Committee, had been critical of Pipeline.

At this point, Arrillaga called a point of order, “I don’t think we should be discussing this here because it might go to litigation.”

Wait-Woodcock said she disagreed, “We put her in this position by sharing the information with Pipeline.”

Patrick maintained that the only reason her children were not allowed to participate was because of the code of conduct.

Yesner made a motion for the WCA to apologize for not allowing Maloney to fully participate in the previous Swim Team’s due diligence regarding which swim team to hire and to refund $89 (the amount the WCA kept from the fees). Wait-Woodcock amended the motion to apologize for the WCA sharing Maloney’s critical comments with Pipeline. Collazo said, “I will not support the apology because it is too much drama.”

Yesner stated he would split the matters into two motions. Directors voted 4-2 in favor of the apology motion with Collazo and Goldstein casting the dissenting votes. All directors voted in favor of the refund motion.

Arrillaga told Pipeline, “I want to make clear this has nothing to do with you and your business.”

Prior to departing, Pipeline agreed to refund the rest of the money to Maloney.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Jan. 15, 2019

COMMENTS

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Proposed Westchase Guideline Changes Announced: February Update

The Westchase Single Family Homes Residential Guidelines represent rules governing Westchase home exteriors and yards. If approved by Westchase Voting Members (VMs), these rule changes will have the force of deed restrictions on all Westchase homes. The rules must be publicly noticed then considered and approved by VMs at two different meetings. When approving or rejecting community-wide guideline amendments, each VM casts a single vote. To pass, a community-wide guideline amendment must receive support of a total number of VMs representing 66 percent of Westchase homes.

VMs considered these amendments at their Jan. 8 meeting and made some changes, indicated within brackets. They will review and vote on them one more time at their Feb. 12 VM meetings, held at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard at 7 p.m.

A more complete red-line version of the amendments, presenting the full text of each rule as it will appear in its complete section, is available on WOW Online (http://www.WestchaseWOW.com) or on the WCA website, http://www.westchasewca.com
. Summaries of the changes appear below due to space constraints.

1.4 Modification Committee Review Procedures

Two proposed changes are incorporated here. The first changes a rule allowing homeowners to bring modifications requests to Modifications Committee meetings. It newly requires modification applications to be submitted the Friday before the meeting, usually the following Tuesday. The second changes a rule that states that if the committee doesn’t respond within 45 days, the modification is approved. It would instead state that modifications that receive no response are denied.

1.3.7 Holiday Decorations

This amendment changes the start of seasonal holiday decorations (for Halloween) from Oct. 15 to Oct. 1 while keeping the Nov. 7 end date.

2.1.3 Driveways, Sidewalks and Front Walkways

This amendment adds language about side walkways for the first time, stating they must consist of drainage-permitting porous material like gravel, pebble or stepping stones and must not be more than 50% pavers. It also emphasizes that side yard improvements must be approved by Modification Committee. [VMs will tweak this rule to grandfather in existing concrete side walkways in Glencliff.]

2.1.5 Garage Doors

This amendment would lift the existing ban on wood doors and permit them, provided they are natural wood color. The rest of the language is maintained and deals with metal and aluminum garage doors currently in widespread use. [VMs created a subcommittee to review both the inclusion of faux wood painting of aluminum doors and their acceptable colors. Proposed faux wood paint schemes can be viewed by clicking here.]

2.1.6 Gazebo

Gazebo rules currently state they must match a home’s color. This amendment would expand the colors, permitting the body or trim color, white, wood-stained or natural wood color.

2.1.8 Windows

This amendment addresses hurricane protection, expanding permissible approaches to include fabric screen systems but adding they must match window frames, the unit’s color or be white, adding that the grommets should be metal, plastic or rubber and match the fabric color.

2.1.9 Exterior Lighting

This amendment expands permissible styles of garage side exterior lights to traditional, contemporary, transitional, mission and rustic style lights in addition to the currently permitted coach style unless your village-specific guidelines already define permissible lights.

2.1.10 Roof and Roof Products 

This amendment eliminates the current restriction on being able to see ridge/roof vents and attic fans from the road or a neighbor’s home as they commonly can be seen on most homes. It adds language limiting solar panels for ventilators and turbines from extending more than a foot above the roof and states its solar panel should not exceed the size of the ventilator/turbine.

2.1.11 Mechanical Equipment and Screening Structures

This amendment expands the definitions for acceptable screening (unless defined in neighborhood-specific guidelines) for mechanical devices such as irrigation units, air conditioning units, water softeners and generators to include walls painted to match the house, brick walls, vegetation at least four feet tall at installation and so maintained, approved four-foot tall fencing or a white vinyl, PVC or resin, solid panel enclosure, consistent with the color of approved neighborhood fencing or painted to match the house. It also clarifies that for homes where the sidewalk and street are not on the same side of a home, screening is only required from the street. [VMs removed the originally proposed language permitting screening with lattice.]

2.1.12 Paint Color Palette Guideline – Exterior Paint

This amendment expands paint rules, allowing a home to have four colors (a minimum of two and maximum of three are currently permitted) when it has shutters if the front door and shutters use different accent colors or if the shutters are an accent color and the front door is wood stained. The definitions of body/wall are expanded to include exterior entryway ceilings and rear patio/porch ceilings and expands the definition of trim to include fascia and exterior entry doors and adds keystones to the definition of accents.

2.1.13 Material for Exterior Improvements or Maintenance

This amendment expands approved materials for all exterior home improvements or maintenance to include treated pine wood siding. It also defines acceptable materials for fascia (the exposed board on the front of a roof’s overhang) to now include spruce, pine, fir, or cedar wood, vinyl, aluminum, or PVC while acceptable materials for the soffit (the covering between the outer edges of a roof and the adjacent wall of the house) would now include vinyl, metal, or wood.

2.1.15 Patios

While keeping existing patio rules, this amendment defines for the first time where the acceptable locations for patios are, stating the rear, front and side yards. (Among other rules, patios can be constructed of concrete, natural, muted or earth-tone pavers, natural stone or tile.

2.1.16 Play Structures: Temporary, Portable and Permanent

This amendment adds tree swings to temporary infant play sets and swing sets that are permitted but which must be stored out of public view when not in use. It also changes rules for permanent play structures, newly permitting metal structures and newly allowing them in side yards if the rear yard setback does not provide adequate room. It also newly requires permanent play structures to be securely anchored to the ground.

2.1.21 Trampolines

This amendment also newly permits trampolines in side yards but only if rear yard setbacks create a lack of space. It requires them to be five feet from rear and side lot lines and be screened from public view.

2.1.22 Trellis and Arbors

This amendment removes the size limitation for trellises and arbors and adds a rule that they be painted the same color as a home’s body or trim or be white, wood stained or a natural wood color.

2.1.25 Gutters and Drainage

This amendment adds that downspouts and gutters must be the color of a home’s body and permits gutter socks, downspout extenders or splash blocks on/below downspouts to divert runoff.

2.1.28 Pools and Spas

This rule adds a lengthy new description of in-ground and above-ground pools to better define the ban on above-ground structures. It clarifies materials for in-ground pools and states they can project out of grade when the yard slopes away from the home. It adds that the above-ground ban does not apply to hot tubs or spas and requires pool equipment be screened from view.

2.1.29 Garbage Cans

This amendment changes the permissible screening for garbage cans stored out of a garage. It carves out the ability of neighborhood to have individual guidelines while adding material and color rules for fencing and removing all-lattice screening options, replacing them with a fence topped by lattice that cannot exceed one-foot in height and four-feet total.

Section 2.1.31 Drainage Solutions between Units

This amendment adds a new section requiring yard grading that causes runoff to be directed to the front or back of a home’s yard. It permits alternate solutions for overly wet areas. It encourages neighbors to work on a mutually acceptable solution while setting requirements for submission of solutions to the Modifications Committee. It permits new solutions such as regrading, the use of gutters/external or French drains; embedded stepping stones, porous materials like gravel, pebbles or mulch, pervious walkways and defined impervious materials provided gutters are also installed. It permits the Modifications Committee to hire an engineer to review suggested plans, charging the resident for any professional fees.

2.1.32 Ramps – ADA Accessibility Compliance

This amendment permits the construction of access ramps with a physician’s affidavit testifying to medical necessity and disability. It must be unobtrusive and aesthetically blend in with homes and receive HOA preapproval.

2.2.1 Front Yard Landscape
                                                                             
This amendment reduces the current required plant size for front yards from three-gallon plants to one-gallon plants.

2.2.2 Corner Yard Landscape

This amendment also reduces the current required plant size for corner yards from three-gallon plants to one-gallon plants.

2.2.3 Garden Borders

This amendment adds a new rule that garden borders should not be taller than one foot and cannot be painted.

2.2.4 Irrigation

This amendment removes the current rules forbidding sprinklers from spraying on any roadway, driveway, sidewalk or adjacent property.

2.2.5 General Landscaping and Maintenance Requirements

Currently this rule reads that all perimeter side and rear lot lines shall be bordered by a three-foot wide turf strip. This amendment changes the wording to indicate that this is the preferred situation. It also changes the rule banning the use of mulched areas here to clarify that tree or shrub beds along the perimeter may be mulched.
Another change adds wording that landscape debris may be placed out for curbside pick-up on the evening prior to yard waste pick up and may not exceed Hillsborough County Waste Management guidelines.

2.2.7 Landscape Materials

[The previously proposed rule change permitting white rock in landscaping as a mulch substitute was voted down by VMs.]

2.2.8 Plant Material List and Appendix 100

This amendment adds Christmas Palms to the approved plant material list in Section 2.2.8; another amendment makes the same change to the appendix.

2.2.11 Standard Fencing

This amendment adds wording to existing fence rules stipulating that fence panels/slats should be oriented in a vertical direction and posts should be placed on the inside of the property with fence panels on the outside. It also clarifies that fences must be tied into the home no closer to the front than ten feet unless the fence is used to screen mechanical equipment. [VMs removed previous verbiage that permitted a horizontal orientation for fencing.]

2.2.15 Standard Fencing Materials

This amendment clarifies fence material rules to permit additional fence styles if permitted in neighborhood specific guidelines. It also adds an option for six-inch wide fence pickets (currently the only width option is four inches.). It also newly permits ball or pyramid-top styles to aluminum fence post tops (in addition to existing flat top style) and adds language that states that aluminum fence pickets shall be flat or pointed top pickets.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Note: This article was edited after its original posting to include a correction captured by the sentence within the brackets under 2.2.11 Standard Fencing.

Posted Jan. 15, 2019

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County Staff Provides Update on Citrus Park Drive Extension

Over the last two weeks, WOW has spoken with Hillsborough County staff and leaders of Fawn Ridge to get a clearer idea of the updated timetable and current status of the Citrus Park Drive Extension. WOW thanks Project Manager Tommy Rawls, Public Works Division Director Leland Dicus, Fawn Ridge Association Mike Castro and Fawn Ridge HOA President Ryan Cizmarik for taking the time to speak with us and answer our questions.

According to Mr. Dicus, the Citrus Park Drive Extension has been put out to bid and staff is currently responding to potential bidders’ questions. County staff now expects ground-breaking to occur sometime in the spring.

Over the past year, it appears two unrelated matters set the timetable back. First, the county still does not have the Army Corps of Engineer’s environmental permit for the project. It is expected to land soon. When asked what changes to the original design the Corps required, Mr. Dicus stated, “The County primarily has provided additional wetland mitigation and enhancement to offset any impacts.”

The county also delayed the project this past year to address Fawn Ridge’s concerns. Fawn Ridge arguably will be the most impacted by the new road, which will bisect its neighborhood entrance.

When WOW asked Mr. Castro what Fawn Ridge’s concerns entailed, he responded, “The county is using a traffic study that was formulated thirteen years ago as a basis for today’s roadway design. Everyone should be concerned about this.  Earlier last year we had a sit down with the county’s road department regarding a serious traffic safety issue (the absence of a westbound right turn deceleration lane into Fawn Ridge). Fawn Ridge’s own engineering consultant, Mike Raysor, P.E., pointed out the need for the deceleration lane feature and the fact that the roadway’s present design would not be in line with Hillsborough County’s own present-day road design guidelines. Shortly thereafter the Hillsborough County Commissioners approved funding for the design change (right turn deceleration lane) into Fawn Ridge.”

While WOW could not confirm this with county staff, Mr. Castro speculated that part of the recent delay could be associated with a potential eminent domain action to acquire land for the new turn lane. The Fawn Ridge HOA is also still waiting to see the county's new road design incorporating the turn lane.

Mr. Castro also delineated Fawn Ridge’s other goals/concerns raised with the county:

• Maintaining a closed community where no thru traffic gets routed through Fawn Ridge
• Fawn Ridge’s southern perimeter wall needs to have an ample setback from the road.
• The existing grand entrance to Fawn Ridge will no longer be connected to the neighborhood and the residents are concerned about the look of the future entrance.

Mr. Dicus confirmed that county staff has worked closely with stakeholders—not only those in Fawn Ridge but with neighborhoods of the Park Place CDD (Mandolin and Windsor Place)—to incorporate better landscaping buffers and more aesthetic plantings to address their concerns.

Mr. Rawls stated that a public construction meeting will likely be held for resident participation just prior to groundbreaking. WOW will continue to keep residents updated as groundbreaking approaches.

Posted Jan. 14, 2019

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Wizards Begin New Year

Happy New Year, Westchase families! Hopefully you have enjoyed some downtime and fun with family and friends and are excited for the new year. What new adventures, accomplishments and discoveries will 2019 bring for your family?

The kids start back to school on Jan. 8 and we know they will be energized from the break and excited to share stories of their holiday and time. What better way to reconnect with other Westchase school families than through a spirit night? Westchase Elementary will be hosting a spirit night at Chipotle (9466 W. Linebaugh Ave) on Jan. 14 from 4-8 p.m. and 33 percent of the proceeds will come back to the school. Come out for a delicious dinner and to reconnect with other Westchase families in the new year.

Jan. 16 is club picture day. Students who are in Chorus, Orffins, World Drums or any other club will have their pictures taken for the yearbook. These pictures will also be available for purchase. It is always great to capture these awesome memories!

If you have a child joining kindergarten in the 2019-2020 school year and you are interested in learning more about Westchase Elementary, please plan to attend the Kindergarten Round-Up on Friday, Jan. 25 from 8-10 a.m. in the school cafeteria (MPR). Attendees will hear from administration, kindergarten teachers, PTA and guidance. The morning will wrap up with a tour of the campus with a PTA volunteer. Please feel free to bring your future Wizards along!

Our Spring Box Tops Drive begins on Jan. 28 and runs through Feb. 22. Please be sure to support our Spring Drive. Simply clip your Box Tops and send them to school in a plastic baggie. Remember to include your child’s name, teacher and grade to get credit. This is an important fundraiser for our school. Please encourage friends and relatives to clip their box tops also! More details will soon be available about recognition and prizes.

On Friday, Jan. 25, Westchase Elementary will host a 20th anniversary celebration! The Fall Festival was cancelled in October due to inclement weather. That provided the perfect opportunity to move the festival to January and repurpose it to celebrate the anniversary of this awesome school. Westchase Elementary opened in the fall of 1998 in portables on the Lowry Elementary School campus. On Jan. 5, 1999, our current campus at 9517 Linebaugh was officially opened and students and faculty moved there. Please join us on Jan. 25 from 4-7 p.m. for some fun and to celebrate our wonderful school!

If your kids are looking to try something different in the new year, registration for our Spring ASE (After School Enrichment) will take place Feb. 6-10. For more information about this and all of our PTA programs, please check out http://www.westchasepta.org and like us on Facebook.

Westchase January Events

7  No School
8  Students first day back from Winter Break
16  Club/Group Pictures
25  Kindergarten Round-Up, 8 a.m. in MPR
25  20th Anniversary Celebration
28  Spring Box Top Drive Begins! (Jan. 28-Feb. 22)

By Clare Himes

The kids start back to school on Jan. 8 and we know they will be energized from the break and excited to share stories of their holiday and time. What better way to reconnect with other Westchase school families than through a spirit night? Westchase Elementary will be hosting a spirit night at Chipotle (9466 W. Linebaugh Ave) on Jan. 14 from 4-8 p.m. and 33 percent of the proceeds will come back to the school. Come out for a delicious dinner and to reconnect with other Westchase families in the new year.

Jan. 16 is club picture day. Students who are in Chorus, Orffins, World Drums or any other club will have their pictures taken for the yearbook. These pictures will also be available for purchase. It is always great to capture these awesome memories!

If you have a child joining kindergarten in the 2019-2020 school year and you are interested in learning more about Westchase Elementary, please plan to attend the Kindergarten Round-Up on Friday, Jan. 25 from 8-10 a.m. in the school cafeteria (MPR). Attendees will hear from administration, kindergarten teachers, PTA and guidance. The morning will wrap up with a tour of the campus with a PTA volunteer. Please feel free to bring your future Wizards along!

Our Spring Box Tops Drive begins on Jan. 28 and runs through Feb. 22. Please be sure to support our Spring Drive. Simply clip your Box Tops and send them to school in a plastic baggie. Remember to include your child’s name, teacher and grade to get credit. This is an important fundraiser for our school. Please encourage friends and relatives to clip their box tops also! More details will soon be available about recognition and prizes.

On Friday, Jan. 25, Westchase Elementary will host a 20th anniversary celebration! The Fall Festival was cancelled in October due to inclement weather. That provided the perfect opportunity to move the festival to January and repurpose it to celebrate the anniversary of this awesome school. Westchase Elementary opened in the fall of 1998 in portables on the Lowry Elementary School campus. On Jan. 5, 1999, our current campus at 9517 Linebaugh was officially opened and students and faculty moved there. Please join us on Jan. 25 from 4-7 p.m. for some fun and to celebrate our wonderful school!

If your kids are looking to try something different in the new year, registration for our Spring ASE (After School Enrichment) will take place Feb. 6-10. For more information about this and all of our PTA programs, please check out http://www.westchasepta.org and like us on Facebook.

Westchase January Events

7  No School
8  Students first day back from Winter Break
16  Club/Group Pictures
25  Kindergarten Round-Up, 8 a.m. in MPR
25  20th Anniversary Celebration
28  Spring Box Top Drive Begins! (Jan. 28-Feb. 22)

By Clare Himes

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Westchase Seniors Announce Bunco Party

On Thursday, Jan. 10, Judy and Pete Daniher will host the first Westchase Seniors Group event for the year at the Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard.

Come join other Westchase seniors for a fun afternoon of playing Bunco and visiting on Jan. 10 from 2-5 p.m. In 2004 the Westchase Seniors Group had a Bunco party and it was a lot of fun and a big success, so it's time to do it again. If you have not played Bunco, don't worry. It’s a simple, fast moving, fun game that gives you the opportunity to meet new people who have been around as long as you have and like a lot of the same things you like. If you can count to six and snack while your visit, you will enjoy this party. If you can come, please R.S.V.P. by Jan. 8 to Judy or Pete Daniher at 792-8663 and bring a snack to share and $3 per person to offset the cost of prizes. Drinks, paper goods, and plastic utensils will be provided.

Holiday Dinner Pictured here are Lee Mook, Marion Thompson, and Phyllis Kanik, who hosted the Westchase Seniors Group holiday dinner. Also pictured are toys contributed at the party for children at the Shriner's Hospital for Children at 12502 USF Pine Drive. We extend heartfelt thanks to Marion, Lee, and Phyllis for planning and hosting the dinner and to the Westchase seniors who contributed gifts for children who have to spend Christmas in the Shriner's hospital.

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

• Thu, Jan. 3 at 9 a.m.: Bus trip to Sparkman Warf.
• Thu, Jan. 17 at 9 a.m.: Bus trip with nature guide to Circle Bar B Ranch Preserve.
• Thu, Feb. 7 at 9 a.m.: Bus trip to Dade City.
• Thu, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m.: Bus trip with nature guide to Lettuce Lake Park.
• Thu, Mar 7 at 10 a.m.: Bus trip to Strawberry Festival, includes festival ticket. ($5)
• Walking Club, Mon-Fri 8:30-9 a.m. Rain or shine, the gym is open.
• Senior Tone and Stretch, Mon, Wed, Fri 9 a.m.
• Gentle Yoga, Thu, 9:30 a.m. ($3 per class)
• Chair Yoga, Thu, 10:45 a.m. ($3 per class)
• Ballroom Dancing, Mon, 10 a.m.
• Pickleball Instructions for Beginners, Mon and Wed, 10:30-11 a.m.
• Pickleball Open Play: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., (except for Wed. Oct. 13), and Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Pickleball League Play: Fri, 10:30 a.m.
• App Hour, Mon, 10 a.m. Bring your phone or tablet and learn how to use the latest apps.

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

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

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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WOW Visits Spain and the Netherlands

Over the summer, WOW took multiple trips to Europe!

The Ciluffo family of Greendale took the magazine along with them on their trip to The Netherlands while Ana Postigo, David Edwards, and Ayden Edwards of Bennington visited Spain.

We visited the Oceanografic Aquarium in Valencia and the Segovia Cathedral among other beautiful places in Spain,” wrote Ana Postigo of her family’s trip. Here the family is pictured in front of both.

Opened in February 2003, Valencia’s fabulously arched aquarium is the work of architect Félix Candela and structural engineers Alberto Domingo and Carlos Lázaro. Each of its tower structures, which continue underground, consist of two stories. They represent Earth's different ecosystems and display 45,000 animals of 500 different species. Valencia sits on the Mediterranean Sea, from which the aquarium pumps in water for its tanks.

Segovia’s Gothic Cathedral was built in the 16th century between 1525-1577 although its dome, the work of Pedro de Brizuela, dates to 1630. As is common in Spain and Latin America, the church sits on the town’s main square. (Segovia lies in central Spain, about 50 miles north of Madrid.) The cathedral’s spire was also built in 1614 after the original wooden one was destroyed in a fire triggered by a thunderstorm. The magnificent structure features three vaults, a bell tower, an ambulatory and a number of side chapels filled with religious art.

Meanwhile, the Ciluffo family headed north to the Netherlands. “My husband Mike and I escaped the heat in September in the lovely city of Amsterdam,” wrote Eileen Ciluffo.

The Netherlands lies on the North Sea, across the English Channel from the United Kingdom. It is bordered by Belgium to the south and Germany to the east.

“We visited the Rijksmuseum, home to some of Rembrandt’s most famous works,” wrote Eileen. “We also toured the Anne Frank House, took a canal cruise, and saw a houseboat museum. On one amazing townhouse after another, we were fascinated by the large hooks protruding from the roofs that are still used to hoist furniture to the top floors. Some lean slightly crookedly due to the deterioration of the wooden pilings they were built on.”

Eileen added, “Amsterdam is known as the Venice of the North; both cities having been built on marshland and water.”

The Ciluffos’ adventure went a bit further, however. “We took the high-speed train to Ghent, Belgium, a beautiful medieval town,” she added. “We feasted on some delicious seafood from the nearby North Sea, Flemish stew, beer and more beer and the best pancakes ever. We somehow managed not to gain any weight, a result of walking all day long. I was glad I took my hiking boots!”

We thank the Edwards-Postigo family and the Ciluffos for sharing their travels with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Winter Vacations!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Sharing a Lifelong Love of Fitness With Others

While many are focused this time of year on eating better, saving more money or spending more time with loved ones, Bridges resident Monika Cassidy refuses to make New Year’s resolutions.

The lifelong runner does not change her focus to suit the time of year. “I don’t wait until January to make changes I need to make,” she said.

Instead, Cassidy makes assessments on a monthly basis and implements the changes necessary to make her desired goals happen. With countless short and long-distance races under her belt, including the Boston Marathon, being in shape is the result of doing something she loves: triathlons. 

Born in Hungary, Cassidy began running track and field events in elementary school. She also played handball, which is much like soccer except you play with your hands instead of kicking the ball. When asked what it was like growing up during the Cold War era, she explained she was really too young to know what it all meant. Cassidy watched the Iron Curtain fall on television as she sat in a college classroom. “After that, we started to see the Western world seep in,” she said. 

Initial changes brought the first McDonald’s and shopping malls. “After the fall of Communism, everyone wanted to learn English because English is the language of business,” she said.  

Hoping to take advantage of that opportunity, she graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in education. After graduation, she turned down a faculty assistant position in the English department and headed to England to immerse herself in the English language. “I wanted to travel and learn the Queen’s English,” she said.

It was during her time in England that she met her husband, Rick. The couple married and eventually moved to the United States, where his parents were enjoying retirement. In 2006, they moved to Tampa. Exercise was still a big part of her daily life. She enjoyed attending local classes at the YMCA in conjunction with running and biking on her own. “I worked out six days a week in kickboxing classes, step classes and running,” she said. 

One day, when the instructor did not show up for class, one of the Y staff members asked if she’d be interested in teaching the class. That was in 2008 and she’s still teaching at the Y. “The Y holds a very special place in my heart,” she shared. She teaches the HEAT class and Boot Camp.

Fitness has always been a big part of Cassidy’s life, yet she encourages anyone to start, no matter their age. “Find something you like to do and just start,” she said. 

Setting goals and conquering fears can be a big motivator. Having a fear of open water, Cassidy decided to take swim lessons at the Y. She wanted to conquer her fear and found a way to incorporate that goal into her exercise regimen. She trained for her first triathlon eight years ago. Once she competed in the Fort De Soto Top Gun Triathlon, she was hooked. “I swam in the ocean and I wasn’t the fastest in the water but once I got on my bike, I was fine,” she recalled. “I knew then that this would be my sport and that this would be what I do until I die.” 

Cassidy wants to pass on her love of triathlons to others and let people know it’s never too late to get on board. She encourages anyone interested to take small steps towards triathlons. “It’s such a huge achievement to put these events back to back,” she said.

Cassidy nods to the advantages local residents have when it comes to training for such an event. Community swimming pools and sidewalks for running make getting started right in your own neighborhood very easy. The nearby Upper Tampa Bay Trail is a great place to take your bike for some long-distance rides. There are many running clubs in the area to help train and motivate new and seasoned athletes.

Besides teaching at the Y, Cassidy is also a coach with GOAT Fit. There, along with other coaches, they encourage others to be their own GOAT….greatest of all time. Turning her passion for fitness into a career enables her to encourage others to reach their goals and overcome obstacles along the way.

Whatever your fitness resolution might be this year, Cassidy encourages you to just get started….and to be your greatest of all time!

By Lisa Stephens

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

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Meet Rusta!

Rusta became part of the Liebman family on March 3, 2013. They found her running wild on the Upper Tampa Trail. Although she had high anxiety and a lot of energy, she became fast friends with the Liebman kids, Jack and Ella. Over time she's adjusted and she's proved to be very loving, protective and loyal. She loves to play tug of war with her big yarn ball and she loves running fast! Wrote Sarah Liebman, “Rusta has been a ton of work but she's taught us a lot too. My son is on the autism spectrum and she became his best friend in the whole world. Rusta is our rescue dog but you could definitely say that she rescued us too.”

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The No Photo Zone

“NO!” Number One, home from University of Florida, wagged a finger at me. “You are NOT taking a photo!”

Twas the night before Epiphany 2018. Along with her two sisters, our college daughter was squatting, in a pair of tattered candy cane pajama pants in our pitch black front yard. She cast a wary eye toward the spooky, black conservation area, undoubtedly filled with beastly, wild creatures lurking to eat unsuspecting college freshmen as part of their dining plan.

Keeping a close eye on the haunted forest, Number One glanced back at me to check that I was NOT taking a photo. Then she resumed yanking fistfuls of grass out of the front lawn and throwing them into a shoebox.

She suddenly shrieked, leapt to her feet and violently shook her hand. “WHAT WAS THAT!?”

Her two sisters leapt and turned.

Number One bent over and carefully studied the dark grass. “Oh. A wet leaf.”

“You’re a mood,” said Elf, our high school freshman.

The three of them resumed plucking grass and dramatically heaving it into shoeboxes to make clear their slight displeasure.

Because they’re all moods.

“I can’t believe you’re still making us do this.” Number One threw more grass into her shoebox.

“If you don’t leave grass and water for the camels, the Three Kings will not stop to leave you gifts.”

It’s their mother’s tradition from her childhood in Puerto Rico. On the night before Epiphany in Puerto Rico, the Three Kings, following the bright star to Bethlehem, stop at the homes of all good children. And if the children leave a shoebox full of grass and bowl of water at the foot of their beds for the camels, the kings will leave them a gift.

The three kings being Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar.

Only Gaspar isn’t a drunk pirate with a ship that invades Southern cities. He’s a nice king from the East with an odd obsession with astronomy who invades little children’s bedrooms with his dromedary.

No cheap, plastic beads or red Solo cups are involved.

Which is probably how he manages not to wake them.

While my daughters were distracted by their grass plucking, I tried to raise my phone again.

“He’s gonna post it on Facebook!” bellowed Elf. She flipped her back to me.

Bee, 13, retracted her entire head into her hoodie like a turtle.

“I was NOT planning to post it on Facebook,” I cried.

Of course, I was totally planning to post it on Facebook. But you should never admit to teenagers they’re right. It never ends well.

Somewhere deep inside her hoodie, Bee had an epiphany. “You know, this is where we take the dogs to poop,” her muffled voice warbled.

Her two sisters pranced back into the sidewalk, leaving the headless turtle cluelessly spinning in her squat.

“Just one photo?” I begged.

“NO!” the three of them shouted.

Here’s the thing with teenagers. Thirty-two wildly smiling teens can jam all 32 of their wildly smiling heads into an enthusiastic friend’s selfie for their Snapchat and Insta feeds.

But if a parent of three teens so much as raises a phone, suddenly there are wild accusations about Facebook. And no matter how convincingly that parent lies, 33 percent of his offspring will ruin said photo with a scowl.

“Facebook photos are embarrassing!” Bee said. “All your friends just mock you for them.”

Because, in Bee’s mind, all the worlds’ teens are all secretly trolling Facebook. In between visiting granny’s wall, filled with posts of her online Scrabble scores and photos of rotary phones, demanding that all her friends click like if they used one, these teens stalk the walls of their parents’ middle aged friends.

Just so they can walk into high school tomorrow and say, “Ha! Saw you squatting on your lawn plucking grass for camels! FREAK!”

“I have some news for you,” I announced.

The three of them sigh.

Apparently this is one of the parenting lines they will be imitating at holiday dinners and laughing hysterically at when I’m 80.

“None of your friends is paying any attention to you,” I finished.

This is true. I don’t know if you’ve seen any groups of teens lately. But when gathered at community bus stops, half the herd looks like sleep deprived zombies and the other half is just staring at their phones.

You could set your hair on fire and no one at those bus stops would notice.

If you’re a teen, rest assured that every other teen is too busy worried about themselves to notice your parents’ car, the microscopic zit on your earlobe or the fact that you’re too poor to upgrade your iPhone 8.356.

Except for the Queen Bee.

The Queen Bee notices all three. That’s why she’s the Queen Bee.

The upside?

At your 30th high school reunion, the Queen Bee will be a divorced alcoholic whose kids resent her.

Trust me. Karma really is the B-word. She’s just a lazy B-word who takes three decades to roll outta bed and get the job done.

Despite having briefly been a teen, I still haven’t quite figured out how their brains work. They have no problem dashing naked across a football field with Oreos clenched in their buttocks. But this same group will endlessly worry what people will think of them if they wear the wrong socks.

Is there anyone on the planet as insanely self-focused as a teen?

(Other than the president.)

“Just one photo?” I beg again.

“NO!” they cry.

Someday, ten years in the future, when their brains are no longer inhabited by aliens, they will look up and finally notice the world. Looking through the family photos, they’ll turn to me and accusingly say, “Hey, why are there almost no photos of us as teens?”

I’ll just whip out my phone and take a photo of THAT epiphany.

And Facebook the heck out of it.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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19 Health and Happiness Ideas for 2019

How to kick off the New Year?

Here are 19 suggestions to help you live well in 2019:

1. Be kind to yourself by starting where you are today and avoid focusing and regretting what you did in the past.  You may have gained 10 holiday pounds.  What are you going to do now?
2. Pick at least one physical goal that you can realistically stick to, like walking 30 minutes, five days per week.  Use a calendar or app to help you stick to it.  Break up the walks into 2-15 minute walks or 3-10 minute brisk walks. 
3. Pick at least one nutrition goal you can realistically stick to, like eat vegetables daily.
4. Improve your water intake.  Take your body weight.  Divide by 2.  That is the daily recommended ounces of water.
5. Drink less alcohol and sugary drinks for weight management; heavy drinking damages your body and your relationships. 
6. Try something new like rock climbing, a dance class, or tennis. 
7. Incorporate a few minutes of daily stretching of major muscle groups like chest and back, front and back of legs and arms, daily. 
8. Try a new healthy dish or recipe.  It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. 
9. Make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes with the proper insoles to help prevent injury to your knees and back. 
10. Visit your doctor for annual check-ups that screen for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.  Other screenings are based on age and sex.
11. Commit to eating as a family when possible.  If you are currently not eating together once a week, increasing to one time is a great start.
12. Eat out less.  Preparing your food helps you control sodium intake and the ingredients.
13. Park further away from buildings and walk.
14. Participate in a fitness activity, such as a 5k, where the proceeds go to a good cause.
15. Laugh often.  It’s a natural anti-depressant.
16. Forgive the person who wronged you.
17. Focus on the things for which you are grateful and complain less
18. Commit to eating less processed, pre-packaged foods to decrease health risks since many contain artificial chemicals and colors.
19. Treat yourself to a massage!

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

By Shannon Thigpen

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Mompreneur Elaine Ragan

This Shires resident helps women reach their fitness goals while building lifelong friendships.

When Elaine Ragan moved to Tampa in 2010, she was determined to find a place that would allow her to meet new people and get a good workout without spending a fortune. Her husband, Mike, was working in the construction industry, which had just taken a hit, and she had recently left her job of 15 years as an executive recruiter. They didn’t have the expendable income, so socializing and finding activities outside the home were not easy to do within their budget. One evening, while watching a popular weight loss show, Elaine became inspired. “I turned to my husband and said ‘I think I want to get certified and start my own boot camp for women,’ and his reply was ‘it’s about time.’”

Shortly after that, she signed up for the certification program and finally got the courage to take the test.

In 2012, Insane Fit Girls was born.

Knowing how much of a struggle finding a reasonable workout program could be, Elaine established a very affordable rate for monthly dues and has kept it the same since day one. “I never wanted finances to be the reason someone couldn’t participate,” she said.

She chose the name to reflect strong, hard-working women, but didn’t want it to be intimidating. “We have an insanely fun time getting fit!”

Elaine encourages all fitness levels to push beyond their limits and transform themselves from the inside out with encouragement, support and motivation from other members. They meet six days a week, with both morning and evening times available, and kids are welcome to tag along if they need to. “I create all the workouts so I can challenge everyone no matter the fitness level,” Elaine said.

She incorporates a variety of workouts, such as strength training, metabolic conditioning, Tabata, cardio, and core. This month, she’s starting a six week online program called Empower U, where she’ll help women lose weight and keep it off by following six steps to build self confidence and self love.

Once the Ragans moved to Tampa, she decided to take time off from her career to help her daughters, Alyssa and Jessica, get settled into their new community and new schools. One of the perks of IFG was that it allowed her to create a schedule that worked for her and appealed to those in the same circumstances. Now that her daughters are older (20 and 18), she’s been able to expand her schedule while still being available for mom duties. When she’s not helping others reach their fitness goals, she loves frequenting local places such as So Fresh, Siam Thai, Maloney’s, and The Grind, and enjoys shopping at Simply Elegant.

Wanting to make this more than just an exercise program, the foundation for IFG is based on fitness and friendship. She said her and her members also spend time together outside of the workouts. “We plan monthly socials, run races together, and even celebrate our birthdays and children’s birthdays together.”

Watching someone gain the confidence to push themself and try something they never thought they could do makes Elaine light up. While working out is the main focus, what also stands out the most for her are the friendships that have come out of it.  “I love making people feel welcome, appreciated, valued, and loved,” she said, “It’s truly my happy place.”

You can find out more on Facebook or at insanefitgirls.com.

By Brie Gorecki

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Westchase Filmmaking Teens Recognized

Two Westchase teens were recently recognized for their stellar filmmaking.

Westchase residents Jackson Ring and Cole Blaskovich, along with Blake High School classmates Eva Erhardt and Bella Morley, won second place for their music video in the Student Television Network (STN) Video Challenge.

High school and middle school students from schools across the country competed in the challenge. Students chose from eight different categories and had six days to write, shoot and edit a short video. For the music video category all teams were assigned the same song, Neverending Mess, by The State of How.

“We chose the music video entry because we’ve had a lot of fun and success with that genre in the past few years,” Jackson said. “Cole did the majority of the cinematography. We all pitched in for planning and pre-production. Bella and I acted and Eva and I edited the final project.”

Jackson added, “I would say about 12 hours were spent shooting (six per day) over the weekend, and a good four or five hours went into editing.”

The team did the majority of their filming at Jackson’s home and at Pin Chasers on Hillsborough Avenue, where, Jackson said, the team faced a bit of an unexpected challenge. “The hardest part of the project was shooting at a crowded bowling alley, which, to our surprise, had a huge tournament going on that day,” he said. “Between plugging in lights behind arcade machines and walking in between lanes, we probably annoyed a lot of people.”

Everyone on the team is enrolled in Blake High School’s TV/Film program, and had entered videos in previous years’ contests, but this is the first time a team from Blake has won the highly competitive competition.

You can see the video on the STN website, https://www.studenttelevision.com/contests/challenges.htm or on You Tube, https://youtu.be/aJ_QNgdv8fU

.

By Marcy Sanford

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

“I am holding my nose while submitting my guess for "Snortify" on page 85,” wrote Fake Ad Guesser Laurie Holmes of Berkeley Square.

“I won't be ordering any time soon!” she added.

In contrast Highland Park’s Linda Heidel wrote, “I WOULD use this.”

Because instead of just seeing people staring at their phones in public, Snortify’s downloadable Scratch N Sniff emojis, featured in December’s fabulous fakery on page 85, would allow them to loudly sniff them too.

Meanwhile, Brentford’s Marty Hamilton sounded close to demanding a refund. “Something must have gone wrong with my download from Snortify.com,” he wrote. “I mean, the unicorn did smell a little like hay and rainbows, and the poop emoji, while no husky steamer, did feel derivative of many a third world truck stop.  But the eggplant didn’t smell like anything I’ve ever had at Olive Garden (hopefully).”

Scratch N Sniff that!

While all these brilliant readers guessed the fake ad correctly, Mary Beth Marino of Westwood Lakes was the randomly selected winner by the fake ad gods. As the result, she will get to scratch and sniff (and then consume) a wonderful dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Crime in 33626: November 2018

DUI

11/3

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Fraud – Impersonation

11/6

11200 Windsor Place Cr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

11/6

Gunn Hwy./Sheldon Rd.

Battery – Simple

11/7

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Obstruct – Police (Non-Violent)

11/8

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/8

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Accidental Injury

11/11

14700 San Marsala Ct.

DUI

11/12

Belgrave Rd./New Parke Rd.

Fraud – Other

11/12

14100 Oakham St.

Theft from a Vehicle

11/12

12800 Twin Branch Acres Rd.

DUI

11/13

South Mobley Rd./Arbor Hollow Dr.

Fraud – Other

11/13

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Obstruct - Police (Non-Violent)

11/14

8800 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/15

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

11/15

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Burglary Business/Forced

11/15

11200 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud – Impersonation

11/16

12500 Shirebrook Ct.

Battery – Simple

11/17

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Grand Theft – All Other

11/18

9900 Montague St.

Fraud – Impersonation

11/19

9700 Lake Jasmine Dr.

Petit Theft – All Other

11/20

10900 Dale Stitik Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

11/21

10500 Barnstable Ct.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/22

Sheldon Rd./Citrus Park Dr.

Theft Vehicle and Other Mobile

11/23

10600 Chambers Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

11/23

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/24

Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

Fraud – Credit Card

11/26

14700 Via Estrella Pl.

Theft Vehicle and Other Mobile

11/27

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

11/27

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Theft from a Building

11/27

11600 Splendid Ln.

Battery – Simple

11/28

10100 Montague St.

Warrant out of County

11/29

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/29

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Warrant in County

11/29

11600 Bristol Chase Dr.

Warrant out of County

11/29

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Warrant in County

11/29

11600 Bristol Chase Dr.

Arson

11/29

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Disorderly Conduct

11/29

7900 Gunn Hwy.

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VMs Take First Look at Proposed Rules Changes

It took the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) about an hour and 45 minutes to review and discuss all the recently proposed guideline amendments.

The amendments, which would change rules governing Westhcase homes and yards, were last reviewed and collectively updated in 2016.  The Document Review Committee, chaired by VM Ed Siler (Stockbridge), started work in June 2018. The WCA’s legal counsel completed a review of the proposed changes before the meeting.

Many of the proposed amendments garnered little to no discussion while others generated a great deal of questions and comments. 

Rules governing driveways, sidewalks and front walkways were discussed at length. The new verbiage around porous walkways (to permit drainage) along side yards prompted concern for VM Gina Coutras (Glencliff), who explained that many Glencliff homes were built with a concrete side walkways. 

VMs discussed whether they could grandfather original construction while new walkways would need to adhere to the guideline update.  Coutras committed to sending the association manager pictures of the walkways and Siler will make rule revisions to to clarify VMs’ intent. 

A proposed rule that would allow natural wood color garage doors arose after a homeowner recently painted their garage door a wood color, which was not at that time approved.  VM Russ Crooks (Bennington) asked “What is the demand?”

Association Manager Debbie Sainz replied, “Many people have been asking.”

Crooks then asked, “What is the reliability of a wood door versus aluminum?”

VM Terrance Maloney (Harbor Links/The Estates) replied, “The homes in the Tree Tops have doors that aren’t wood. They are painted to look like wood.  These are million-dollar homes and they look great.”

After questions arose around how to define acceptable colors, Crooks made a motion to have the proposed change reviewed for clarity and potentially revisited at February’s VM meeting. His motion passed with four VMs volunteering to work with Siler to research and define acceptable colors—Maloney, Ashlee Wait-Woodcock (The Bridges), Elaine Ragan (Alternate, The Shires) and Melinda Lewis (Wycliff).

VMs also decided against the proposed use of lattice to screen equipment and garbage cans from public view. Some VMs felt that it didn’t really screen anything since you could see through it and others worried that residents would want to use the cheaper, thin versions of lattice.

VMs gave their thumbs up to new rules regarding side yard drainage, a recent hot topic. VMs praised the work of the Drainage Committee, led by former VM Brian Loudermilk (Keswick Forest); that committee researched the best strategies and proposed the amendments.

Turning to new rules for landscaping materials, VMs voted to remove the proposed inclusion of white rock as an acceptable mulch option. Last, they voted to only allow vertically-oriented fencing, removing the proposed horizontal orientation.

After Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein updated VMs on upcoming road construction, VMs adjourned at 8:51 p.m.

VMs will have to review and vote upon the proposed rules changes one more time at their Feb. 12 meeting before any can go into effect.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Jan. 12, 2019

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CDD Hires Landscape Architect to Prepare Acceptable Street Tree List

The Jan. 8 meeting of the Westchase CDD saw supervisors discuss street trees and return to a possible cell tower location in Glencliff Park. Supervisors also heard definitively about the status of their offer to purchase the Westchase Golf Course.

Opening the meeting, Stantec’s Kyle Steele, a landscape architect, addressed supervisors. “I understand from talking with [Field Supervisor] Doug [Mays] and [CDD Office Manager] Sonny Whyte that there are some issues with street trees,” he said.

Steele was referring to the trees the CDD has traditionally maintained in the strip of grass between homeowners’ sidewalks and the street, often called the right of way. In December Supervisor Greg Chesney inquired about staff’s replacement of an oak tree within his Wakesbridge neighborhood with a palm tree, where it stands in notable contrast to all the oak street trees .

In December Mays stated he was reluctant to replace a removed oak with another oak because of the trees’ tendency to raise sidewalks. He also cited homeowners’ complaints about their roots’ impact on sewage line and the difficulty in growing grass beneath them.

Stating he had recently walked through Weybridge Drive in Kingsford, Chesney stated he had also found several oaks replaced by palm trees and holes suggesting more were on their way, which Mays confirmed was the case. Chesney stated, “Doug and Sonny are very accommodating of our residents and that’s good. But absent standards from us, it could get out of hand.”

Chesney expressed concern that palms, while they might solve the problems created with by the oaks, represented a tree whose appearance was inconsistent with the rest of the neighborhood. He asked Steele to propose there other trees that would pose fewer problems while maintaining a neighborhood’s existing appearance.

Supervisor Brian Ross also stated it was unfair to ask CDD staff members to handle resident tree requests with no guidance and if the goal was consistency, having an established tree plan would take the pressure off Mays to approve trees inconsistent with a neighborhood appearance. Referring to Steele’s description of the proposed plan as a matrix, Ross stated, “That matrix needs to be quite specific.” Making it so, Ross stated, would make clear the board’s preference, giving staff cover.

Mays acknowledged that he had recently received a number of requests from Kingsford and that CDD staff had been removing and replacing the trees largely at district expense (except for a $35 resident fee). Referring to the tree removal, Mays stated, “If the county authorizes it, we go ahead and pull it.”

When Ross suggested he would like to make a motion to suspend tree replacement until the board adopted a plan, Office Manager Whyte stated, “They’re not our trees. They’re the homeowner trees.”

WOW’s reporter, however, corrected the inaccuracy, pointing out that all Westchase homeowners properties ended where their front lawns first touch their sidewalks. All sidewalks, driveway aprons, and the grassy area between the sidewalk and road, including its trees, are owned by Hillsborough County in non-gated communities and the CDD or HOA in gated neighborhoods. He also pointed out that no one had mentioned the Westchase developer’s reason for planting oaks in most neighborhoods and the reason the CDD historically maintained them. The reporter observed that the developer’s stated goal was to create a tree canopy above the roads reminiscent of downtown’s Hyde Park. He questioned whether undermining the aesthetic without neighborhood-wide input would upset residents who purchased homes in the neighborhood in part because of the appearance of the tree canopies.

Ross stated of the property ownership, “There is a lack of clarity in people’s minds.” He added, “No matter what our county has said, we want our trees to look beautiful.” Ross then made a motion to suspend further tree removal until the board adopts a formal street tree plan.

When staff asked if they should return the fees of homeowners who had already paid or not plant a new tree where an oak has already been removed, Ross stated, to be consistent, affected homeowners should be informed that the palms could be replaced by trees consistent with the adopted neighborhood street tree plan in the future.

Ross’ motion passed 5-0. A second motion to hire Steele to develop a street tree plan also passed 5-0.

CDD Engineer Tonya Stewart then distributed a map of Glencliff Park with a red rectangle indicating the preferred 30’ x 100’ shape of a cell tower parcel. Supervisor Matt Lewis said he visited the park and the proposed location, which overlaps the southern parking lot and takes 10 of its existing 28 parking spots, was the most shielded location from the road. While stating he was initially concerned with the loss of parking, he stated he had come around to support the tower’s location there after the visit. “The more we looked at it,” he stated, “the more we thought this is the best place to put it.”

Stewart added that some of the spots could be saved by reconfiguring the area as its development moves forward but added that the developer, Vertex, needed a commitment from the district before finalizing the plan.

While observing the lot is most commonly used during soccer games, Supervisor Jim Mills wondered if the rectangle shape could be made more irregular to allow more spots to be saved.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated that Vertex wanted to maintain flexibility regarding location as they move forward into permitting but observed that it might not work for the board.

Stewart added, “They can’t determine the area until we determine we are moving forward.”

But Supervisor Forrest Baumhover observed that he wanted to know the location and its impact before offering formal approval.

Supervisor Brian Ross added that he felt it was likely Vertex picked the spot that was most beneficial to them but recalled that they had previously stated they had flexibility. “I think we need to come back with a strong message that they can’t take half of our parking lot out there.” Ross added, “At some point we need to tell them, ‘Put your best offer out there.’”

Ross asked Stewart to go back to Vertex and ask them to make their best offer for supervisors to consider.

Closing major action, Supervisor Chesney stated he had recently met with Nick Neubauer, the owner of the Westchase Golf Course, to determine whether Neubauer still had any interest in selling the course to the district. “The best way of saying it is that the golf course currently isn’t for sale and we will be the first one to know when it is.” Chesney added, “It’s simply a business decision on his part. He thinks he can rehabilitate it and make it worth more.”

Supervisor Matt Lewis thanked Chesney for all his work on the potential purchase. Supervisor Mills added that the discussions to purchase it appear to have helped contribute to improvements at the golf course. Adding that their goal was to avoid a bad outcome, Mills observed that an improved, successful course would also accomplish that.

In other actions:

After discussing street lights at length, the difficulty determining what lights the district was responsible for and whether the CDD was being billed accurately, supervisors asked District Manager Andy Mendenhall to inquire with a company that does utility audits. Supervisors stated the audit should produce a comprehensive document illustrating which lights the district was responsible for.  Addressing Supervisor Greg Chesney’s December concern, Mendenhall stated that the district appeared to be assessing West Park Village for its lights.

Supervisors unanimously voted to hire ADA Site Compliance, at a cost of $3,900, to bring the district’s web site into compliance with federal disability laws and then maintain its compliance for $1,500 annually.

Supervisors approved a $10,250 bid for brick repair work behind four homes on Royce Drive, where a crack has appeared on the wall separating the neighborhood from Linebaugh Avenue.

Supervisor Chesney stated that with the golf course purchase suspended, supervisors should consider using the retained fund balance on long discussed projects, such as landscaping enhancements, a sidewalk to Sheldon Road on the south side of Linebaugh and the development of a walkway to CDD owned land between Stonebridge and The Vineyards, which CDD staff has also discussed using as a plant nursery for the district.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:12 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Jan. 10, 2018

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Reclaimed Water Service Repair Affects Westchase Villages Off Countryway Boulevard

The Westchase Community Development District (CDD) staff has reported that reclaimed water service to parts of Westchase off Countryway Boulevard had to be shut down today, Jan. 9, to make a repair. The outage could affect service in Harbor Links/The Estates and possibly some areas of Woodbay or Bennington. CDD staff stated that repairs should be completed within the day, when service will return.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Looking Forward and Back

Did you know the guy for whom January is named was completely two-faced?

Only in this case, being two-faced isn’t an insult.

Forgive me because I frequently mention this in my January Publisher Notes because I love its symbolism.

Janus was a Roman god. He was the god of transitions, beginnings and endings, time, duality and even passages and gateways. He had two faces, one looking forward and one back.

On some level, we all become Janus in January, reflecting on the year past with its successes and shortcomings. And we look forward with hope to the next, with all its promise and goals.

This month’s WOW looks forward.

Our January edition doesn’t burden you with challenges to undertake a full life makeover. Many of us struggle to maintain the resolutions we make because we are fighting habits that are so engrained. Instead, Assistant Editor Karen Ring offers more manageable changes that we can embrace—small steps that will lay a foundation of better health. Perfection is not required. Progress is the goal.

This month’s WOW looks back.

There are no regrets on these pages. Instead, many of the pages this month are filled with happy holiday traditions and celebrations. I want to thank all our readers for their generosity in making November’s Thanksgiving Food Drive such a great success.  While held Nov. 18, it occurred after the deadline for December’s WOW. We share the drive’s results in this edition, beginning on page 26. We also share the news that ABC News’ Positively Tampa Bay was so impressed by your generosity and the drive’s impressive number of volunteers that they named the Thanksgiving Food Drive their December Game Changer. It was featured in a special that ran at the end of the year.

If you’d like to see it, we’ll post a link on Westchase Neighborhood News, the Facebook group with nearly 7,000 members. Please join the group and follow important local news and community discussions between editions.

Please remember that WOW is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that does more than host important charitable events like the Thanksgiving Food Drive. While we deliver the WOW to you for free, taking no funds from your homeowners association or community development district, our work publishing WOW allows us to make over $50,000 in charitable contributions annually to local schools, scholarship programs and other charities. You can keep local journalism strong—and help us give back—by telling our advertisers you saw them in WOW.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

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From the President, December 2018: WCA Homeowners Assessment Is Due

Happy New Year to all our friends and neighbors!

I hope that your holiday was as wonderful as mine was. Well, folks it’s that time of the year. It’s time to pay your homeowners association dues. The good news is that we managed to reduce this year’s assessment to $274. We were able to do that by way of the healthy surplus we’ve accumulated over the past few years. It was quite an accomplishment. But please remember this is YOUR accomplishment because you continue to elect great volunteers to steer this community. They are volunteers who have done an excellent job of maintaining the common elements, enforcing the deed restrictions and managing the finances.

Now the following statement is not intended to scare you into paying your HOA fees; rather, it is a personal plea from me to you to please help me maintain my sanity. As president I have seen delinquent HOA fees balloon into thousands of dollars of legal expenses, fines and interest payments. You have no idea how much it torments me to have to sign off on a collection notice in those cases. Fortunately there are very few of those.

Nonetheless it leaves me shaking my head in disbelief that anyone would allow a $274 assessment to balloon into a $2,100+ judgment or lien against their home. So please make a note now to pay your assessment on time. If you lost the coupon or if it got lost in the mail, please contact our office and ask for a new one. The number is (813) 926-6404.

At December’s Westchase Voting Members’ meeting there was a fair, open and transparent airing of many of the issues that have been bugging folks. Even though such meetings are tough, what I enjoy most about them is the level of civility and mutual respect we witness. Watching neighbors genuinely engaged in civil discourse is a very rewarding experience and it is why I continue to enjoy this job. It feels like we are making a difference. It feels like “community.”

Thank you for reading and remember: your board is always here for you. Please reach out to us whenever you need our assistance or advice on community-related matters.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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Rotarians’ Used Bike Collection Jan. 5

Rotarians were tipped off by Santa that lots of local residents received new bikes for Christmas.

Many parents may be worrying about what do with the old bikes that are cluttering their garage. Wonder no more! Just bring your used bikes out at to the corner of Nine Eagles Boulevard and Race Track Road on Saturday, Jan. 5 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Westchase Rotary Club and Sickles High School Interact Club will be there to receive your used bikes. The donated bikes will undergo repairs and refurbishment for safety and re-gifted to less fortunate souls who will rely on the bikes as a primary form of transportation. The kiddy bikes are spruced up and given away to child welfare organizations in the surrounding area.

Bring out your old bikes on the morning of Jan. 5 2019 and help Westchase Rotary help others with your used bike. Follow Westchase Rotary on Facebook and also at westchaserotary.club.

By Mike Castro

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Simple Resolutions for a Healthier You

While an ambitious resolution might seem like a great way to start off the New Year, setting the bar too high can lead to disappointment. This year, instead of focusing on one lofty goal, why not focus on simple changes that will affect your overall wellbeing. Below is list of easily attainable health and wellness resolutions to strive towards in 2019.

Eat your fruits and vegetables
Your mom said it over and over again. If you have kids, chances are you have said a few thousand times: “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” It turns out, all of that nagging is justified. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in addition to providing essential vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health, diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Christine Miller, MS, RD/LDN, CDE, owner of Advanced Nutrition Concepts, recommends 8-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. “Instead of just telling my clients to eat more fruits and vegetables, I tell them to serve a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal and then double the recommended serving size,” Miller explained.

For instance, if a ½ cup of broccoli equals one serving, double that to one cup and you will have knocked out two servings in one meal. By following this plan and adding in a double serving of a fruit or vegetable as a snack, you will meet the recommended daily allowance.

Check your food’s ingredients
The reality of this fast-paced world is that prepackaged food is a staple in a majority of homes. For years, the trend was to scan the labels of store-bought food for fat grams, calorie count and sugar content. While these factors are still important, Miller recommends paying closer attention to the ingredients on the label. “Most of us tend to buy the same products over and over again and it may be time to reevaluate our purchases.” Miller said. “Generally, the fewer the number of ingredients listed, the better.”

Foods with only one ingredient, such as fruits and vegetables that get their flavor from Mother Nature, are ideal. When packaged foods are a must, be sure they have a short list of easily recognizable names in the ingredients list. The longer the list, the greater the chance you are eating unnecessary additives.

Floss your teeth
Everyone knows that it is important to brush your teeth twice a day, but simply brushing is not enough. Flossing is the key to warding off plaque, that sticky film sticky film that collects between teeth and under the gum line. Plaque is a breeding ground for bacteria. If left unchecked, it can enter the blood stream and contribute to serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory infections.

Flossing can be done in the morning, at night, in the shower – whatever works best for you. Those who grumble about flossing because it makes their gums bleed, take note. According to the American Dental Association, bleeding or sore gums can be a sign of gingivitis, an early and reversible stage of gum disease – all the more reason to kick that flossing habit into high gear.

Know your family’s health history
It may not make for the most entertaining dinner conversation, but discussing your family’s health history is an important step in protecting your own health and the health of your children. “Your family’s health history plays a major role in giving your physician direction in your treatment,” noted Dr. Alexandra Zelenka, MD, of Premier Internal Medicine.

Having a close family member with a chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer, may increase your risk for developing that disease. The same holds true for health concerns such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Sharing your family’s health history with your physician helps him or her determine what preventative screenings and tests should be administered and when. For instance, Dr. Zelenka pointed out that a patient with a strong family history of breast cancer might be advised to undergo an initial mammogram before the standard recommended age. “The earlier we can catch something, the better,” Dr. Zelenka added.

The CDC recommends beginning the health history discussion with parents and siblings and then expanding the search to grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and any half-brothers or half-sisters. Pay particular attention to family members who suffered from a disease earlier in life than expected or if multiple family members suffered from the same disease. Keep the information you gather in a central location that will make it easy to share with your physician and other family members. The Surgeon General offers a free web-based tool where information can be stored and printed. Visit http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory to access this easy to use tool.

Get active
It is no secret that an active lifestyle plays a major role in overall health and wellbeing, yet it is easy to let exercise slide when the demands of life get in the way. The key is to view physical activity as an integral part of life rather than an added bonus when time permits.

The American Heart Association recommends adults work in 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to achieve this fitness level overnight. Start by setting a reachable goal and then gradually work toward the recommended weekly activity level. A simple way to get started is by walking more – it is free, easy and can be done just about anywhere, including the numerous sidewalks and trails right here in Westchase and our Northwest neighborhoods.

To progress to more intense activities, certified health and fitness professional, Shannon Thigpen stresses the importance of looking for activities that will stick. “Consider what you enjoy doing as a foundation for choosing the activity. Think about the time of day you are most likely to stay committed to the activity. If you are a morning person, look for opportunities to do things earlier in the day. If you have a family, consider looking for activities you can do together,” Thigpen recommended.

Physical activity does not always need to be restricted to a set exercise regimen. “Combine exercise with daily living activities throughout the day, like standing whenever possible, moving around, chair squats from your desk, calf raises when reaching for shelves, balancing on one leg when doing dishes, etc. The options are limitless. You can burn calories, strengthen muscles and joints and become more flexible,” Thigpen said.

Finding an exercise partner or group of individuals with like-minded exercise goals can help maintain motivation and accountability. Thigpen summed up by offering this sage advice: “Be realistic, recognizing that life happens and setbacks or inactivity for a period of time should not equate to an all or nothing situation. Get back to it as soon as possible.”

Wear sunscreen every day
One of perks of life in Florida is the year-round sunshine. All of that glorious sunshine can wreak havoc on our skin, however. More than 90 percent of the visible changes that play out on our skin as we age are due to exposure to the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is also the main cause of skin cancer – now the most common form of cancer in the United States with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually according to the American Cancer Society.

Sunscreen combines several ingredients that help prevent the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against the two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the primary source of sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with the aging effects of the sun (brown spots, wrinkling, sagging, etc).

And don’t let those rare cloudy days fool you. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 40 percent of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaches the Earth on a completely cloudy day. Your best bet is to get into the habit of applying sunscreen to exposed skin on a daily basis, reapplying every two hours on days of prolonged sun exposure.

Take a break from the gadgets
In this technology-driven age, information is at our fingertips 24/7. It comes to us in an endless stream of texts, tweets, emails and Facebook updates. While advances in technology bring a certain level of convenience to our lives, they also make it easy to succumb to technology overload. Setting aside time every day to unplug from the digital world will help avoid technology burnout.

Maria Aranda, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, advises turning off all electronic devices one hour before bedtime. Aranda pointed out that docking the gadgets allows more time to talk to family members about their day, which in turn helps maintain good family relationships. She also noted that the pre-bedtime technology break might result in better sleep habits. “Shutting off electronics one hour before bedtime allows our bodies to unwind. Electronic devices with screens emit a blue wavelength that suppresses melatonin, the hormone our body releases that helps sleep onset. Decreasing levels of melatonin lead to difficulties with falling asleep,” Aranda explained.

To resist the urge to steal glances at your phone or tablet every time a message comes through, try setting up a docking station for the entire family where all gadgets should land at a designated hour. That email, text or tweet will still be waiting for you the next morning.

Aranda also advises parents to monitor screen time for children, so they do not exceed a pre-determined daily limit. “This could mean having kids not use devices on car rides, which can also help promote talking and interacting with family members,” Aranda explained. “Also, limit screens during all mealtimes. Again, without an electronic device in front of them, they will be more apt to talk or even read.”

Stay in the know
When it comes to protecting the health and well being of our children, the best defense is knowing where the dangers lie. Especially as children get older and begin to explore the world on their own, they may, sometimes unknowingly, take part in behaviors that can have long-lasting health consequences. Juuling, a discreet form of vaping, is one such behavior that is becoming rampant with teens. Electronic cigarettes are devices that utilize stored electricity to heat a liquid into vapors, which are then inhaled by the user. The liquid can be anything from a flavored water-type mixture to liquid nicotine to THC, the principal active element of marijuana. JUUL is a brand of e-cigarette that is currently cornering the market with teens due to its sleek design that is easily concealed and provides a powerful “throat hit” when inhaled. While many teens may assume vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking, one JUUL nicotine cartridge provides about 200 puffs, about as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. The prevalence of juuling is just one example of the potential dangers our children face – and a prime example of why it is important to stay on top of the latest trends in order to have honest discussions with our children that can help safeguard their health.

The New Year is a great time to make a fresh start. Focusing on a few simple lifestyle changes will go a long way in impacting your overall health and wellbeing. And after a while, you may just find that those larger goals seem much more attainable.

By Karen Ring

2019 Health and Wellness Guide Summaries

WOW thanks the following physicians and health/fitness businesses for helping to bring you the Health and Wellness Special. The listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Health and Wellness Special. Look for their ads in our special section; page references are available in the business directory. 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.
 
Advent Health Centra Care
(813) 792-2550
http://www.CentraCare.org
As a hospital affiliated urgent care provider, operating over 30 locations, Centra Care provides patients with fast and convenient care for urgent, non-emergency medical needs.

AdventHealth Carrollwood – Surgical Services
(813) 932-2222
http://www.AdventHealthCarrollwood.com
AdventHealth Carrollwood, formerly Florida Hospital Carrollwood, is nationally recognized for patient safety and offers comprehensive surgical services, including weight-loss, orthopedic, spine, general, women’s and urology surgery, in a state-of-the-art facility.

Internal Medicine & Pediatrics of Tampa Bay
(813) 961-2222
http://www.MyTampaDoc.com
Our board-certified doctors and nurse practitioner provide the highest quality of primary care for newborns, children, teens and adults in the Westchase area.

Stretch Rx
(813) 382-2363
http://www.StretchRxFlorida.com
Stretch Rx offers therapeutic stretching, exercise, massage, reflexology and ionic foot baths. Customized sessions can help people decrease pain, increase flexibility, improve posture, tone muscles and lose weight.

Arbor Terrace, Citrus Park
(813) 773-3172
Arbor Terrace Citrus Park offers the best independent living, assisted living and dementia care in the Tampa, Florida area.

Children's Medical Center of Westchase
(813) 891-6501
Children Medical Center provides premier pediatric healthcare for children from birth to 18. Well/sick care, after hours, telemedicine, free CPR and prenatal consultations available.

Dr. Sanjay K. Madan
(727) 669-2969
Dr. Sanjay K. Madan is a board-certified provider of Humana Medicare Advantage Plans®. Dr. Madan provides a full range of services and offers same-day appointments.

J. Russell Lowrey, DPM, FACFAS – Foot & Ankle Specialists
(813) 855-3606
Dr. Russ Lowrey treats all foot, ankle, and leg conditions and sees patients of all ages. Dr. Lowrey has been a Westchase resident since 1999.

Westchase Orthopaedics
(813) 792-9843
Good health is the cornerstone of a good life.  At Westchase Orthopaedics, we strive to help our patients have the best quality of life through physical therapy, non-invasive interventions or through surgery.

Shim Spine
(813) 814-9251
Your local spine surgeon with a 5-star reputation and a conservative approach to surgery. For education and information, go to Shimspine.com

Tower Radiology Centers
(813) 489-5063
Tower Radiology has 14 full service outpatient centers, accredited by the American College of Radiology and located throughout Hillsborough, East Pasco and East Pinellas Counties.

100% Chiropractic
(813) 510-3986
We are committed to helping you learn how to achieve true health through a functional nervous system, and healthy lifestyle. Empowering the members of the Westchase community to live their lives at 100%.

Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA
(813) 249-8510
When you join the Y, you're committing to more than achieving fitness resolutions.  You're supporting the values and programs that strengthen your community. Join today!

Jazzercise Westchase Fitness Center
(813) 748-3704
Jazzercise is the original dance party workout, 50 years strong!  The results? Long, lean muscles and an undeniable mood boost.

Advanced Hand and Plastic Surgery Center
(813) 866-4426
Advanced Hand and Plastic Surgery Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hand and upper extremity injury and illness

BayCare Medical Group
(813) 792-8878
At BayCare Medical Group, it’s our pediatricians’ goal to help your children stay healthy. Care for your family is always nearby. Learn more at BMGKids.org.

NEUROSPA
(813) 605-1122
Treat depression and anxiety directly at the source. TMS is a transformative, non-drug depression treatment that is FDA approved and free of systemic side effects.

Westchase Pediatric Care
(813) 818-1543
Westchase Pediatric Care is a NCQA certified patient centered medical home providing compassionate, family-centered care.  We strive to promote your child’s physical and emotional well-being.

Florida Autism Center
(866) 610-0580
Florida Autism Center is the leading provider of center-based ABA therapy with a specific focus on early, intensive behavioral intervention, verbal behavior, and social skills.

Lotus Pond Yoga Studio and Center for Health
(813) 961-3160
The Lotus Pond is a full service Yoga Studio, offering 200 and 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training programs, workshops, and classes seven days a week.

Touch Aveda Salon & Spa
(813) 814-1390
We offer upscale services at affordable prices for everyone.  We help you find balance by
offering all the Signature Aveda services, rituals and products.

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Blind Tiger: A Hip Taste of Ybor Opens in West Park Village

Call him Westchase’s Knight in Shining Armor.

Only he’s dressed in a T-shirt and jeans.

Or the cavalry coming to the rescue.

Only he’s riding a tiger.

Whatever you call him, Roberto Torres is bringing a taste of edgy Ybor City to suburban Westchase, specifically in the empty storefront that once held Starbucks.

Raise your coffee mug in a toast. With Torres’ arrival, the new year offers a new beginning for the West Park Village Town Center. One of Tampa Bay’s friendliest entrepreneurs, the owner of Blind Tiger Café is arriving just in time to spark the West Park Village Town Center back to life, adding needed foot traffic to its surrounding storefronts.

It’s an independent coffee shop specializing in coffee, tea and textiles.

You read that right.

The Blind Tiger Cafe actually began with an emphasis on Torres’ clothing line, Black and Denim. Over time, Torres’ business model shifted as he added high quality coffee to his Ybor store front to pull in potential customers. “It’s a blend between retail and food and beverage,” he said.

At the front of the Ybor store sits Blind Tiger’s coffee bar. The walls surrounding customer seating display its line of T-shirts, hats, socks and mugs, all featuring the café’s catchy logo, a blindfolded tiger.

It’s a nod to the 1920s speakeasy, often nicknamed a blind tiger, where illegal alcohol was served up in coffee mugs – a brew so potent it could, it was claimed, lead to blindness.

The name ably captures the unique marketing twist of Blind Tiger. The coffee shop, which will sell sandwiches, acai bowls, pastries and salads, will also have an alcohol license permitting the sale of beer and wine.

Two brews meeting two popular Westchase tastes.

At its heart, however, Blind Tiger is an independent coffee shop.

“We try to lend a very friendly appeal to coffee,” said Torres. “We’re interested in creating an anchor for community.”

His company now even roasts its own coffee beans in north Hyde Park. “We’ve been doing it for three and a half years now.”

West Park Village represents Blind Tiger’s sixth Tampa Bay location. After starting in 2010 in Ybor, Torres opened a Seminole Heights store in 2014, a store in the Tampa Bay Times Building in 2016 and another in Soho the next year. His company employs 24, aiming to pay, with tips, a living wage of $25,000-30,000 annually. The new West Park Village store will bring Torres’ number of employees over 30.

Blind Tiger Barista Cyrus Frioli touted Torres as “a very supportive boss.”  Frioli previously worked in a coffee shop in St. Pete, which Frioli still recommends to folks. But what’s special that keeps the barista working at Blind Tiger?

“We’re a roaster. That’s unique.”

Frioli also sees her boss as an entrepreneur building something big. Most independent coffee shops find their niche and stick to it. Torres, in contrast, is always expanding his baristas’ palettes by introducing other coffees. For Frioli, however, what’s even more exciting is the promise of new Blind Tiger Cafes. “He’s always expanding,” she said.

While keeping the coffee shop’s core mission – coffee, tea and textiles, Torres, however, doesn’t aim to clone the gritty urban feel of the original Ybor store everywhere.

Before opening, Torres visited Westchase to get an understanding of the community and its residents.

“We’re trying to have a more sophisticated appeal,” he said of his West Park store.

Its color palette will consist of grays, blacks and whites. “We want to make it cozy,” he added. “We want to highlight the elements that make the brand.”

For Torres, Blind Tiger aims to create a strong sense of place flooded with an enthusiastic customer base. “We’re trying to deliver legendary customer service to everyone.”

Torres’s skill at assimilating his coffee shops into their surrounding communities is perhaps borne of personal experience. He was born in the country of Panama, one of three children of a dad who worked as a supermarket stocker and a cab driver and a mom who has worked as support staff for four decades at the same law firm. For college, Torres came to the states to earn dual majors in accounting and finance from Florida State University.

The plan, he said, was to return to Panama. “Immigration from Panama is rare,” he said. “Life in Panama is really good.”

But stay he did. “There is something about the American Dream that is very enticing,” he said.

Now calling Seminole Heights home, Torres quite active in the Tampa Bay business community, offering advice to young entrepreneurs and coaching those involved in start ups.

And in late December or early January, once a specially ordered espresso machine arrives from Italy, his latest business venture in West Park Village will open its doors. “We’re extremely excited,” he said. “We’re infinitely blessed that Starbucks proved the model for a coffee shop there for 15 years.”

And a traditional coffee shop it is, with pour overs, chemex, French press and cold brews.

But no frappucinos. “That’s not coffee,” Torres said with a teasing laugh.

What does the new year in a new place hold?

Torres is absolutely bullish on the town center and sees Blind Tiger thriving there, an integral community partner.

A West Park and Westchase anchor.

“All we have to do is serve a quality product and treat people right,” he said confidently, “And we’ll be fine.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Village Voices: The Vineyards

Happy 2019!  We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season!

We offer some resident reminders as we begin the new year:

The speed limit in The Vineyards is 15 mph.

Parking along French Carriage Circle is for visitors only.  If a resident needs to park there, please adhere to parking guidelines found on http://www.westchasevineyards.org

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The Vineyards pool is maintained and paid for by our HOA dues and is not a Westchase community pool.  Residents can have up to four accompanied guests at the pool. 

Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and owners must pick up after their dogs.

The Vineyards is a low maintenance, not a full-maintenance community.  Homeowners are responsible for keeping the hedge(s) around their air conditioning unit trimmed and the garden at the front of the home weeded and planted in accordance with the master association.  Trees that are not HOA owned are maintained by the homeowner.

Homes are required to be painted every seven years.  If you are due to paint in 2019, you will receive a letter in the first quarter.  If you were due to paint in 2018 (or previous years), please submit your modification request with paint chips.  Information is on our website. 

The board thanks all who have attended meetings and who have volunteered time to our community.  The social committee states that they have great ideas for more events in 2019 so stayed tuned! 

Please contact vineyardshelp@yahoo.com for any questions, comments and suggestions.

By Lynn Adamson, Vineyards HOA President

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Proposed Westchase Guideline Changes Announced

The Westchase Documents Committee has released numerous proposed amendments to the Westchase Single Family Homes Residential Guidelines.

The Westchase Single Family Homes Residential Guidelines represent rules governing Westchase home exteriors and yards. If approved by Westchase Voting Members (VMs), these rule changes will have the force of deed restrictions on all Westchase homes. The rules must be publicly noticed then considered and approved by VMs at two different meetings. When approving or rejecting community-wide guideline amendments, each VM casts a single vote. To pass, a community-wide guideline amendment must receive support of a total number of VMs representing 66 percent of Westchase homes.

These amendments will be considered at the Jan. 8 and Feb. 12 VM meetings, held at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard at 7 p.m.

A more complete red-line version of the amendments, presenting the full text of each rule as it will appear in its complete section, is available by clicking here.

Summaries of the changes appear below due to space constraints.

1.4 Modification Committee Review Procedures

Two proposed changes are incorporated here. The first changes a rule allowing homeowners to bring modifications requests to Modifications Committee meetings. It newly requires modification applications to be submitted the Friday before the meeting, usually the following Tuesday. The second changes a rule that states that if the committee doesn’t respond within 45 days, the modification is approved. It would instead state that modifications that receive no response are denied.

1.3.7 Holiday Decorations

This amendment changes the start of seasonal holiday decorations (for Halloween) from Oct. 15 to Oct. 1 while keeping the Nov. 7 end date.

2.1.3 Driveways, Sidewalks and Front Walkways

This amendment adds language about side walkways for the first time, stating they must consist of drainage-permitting porous material like gravel, pebble or stepping stones and must not be more than 50% pavers. It also emphasizes that side yard improvements must be approved by Modification Committee.

2.1.5 Garage Doors

This amendment would lift the existing ban on wood doors and permit them, provided they are natural wood color. The rest of the language is maintained and deals with metal and aluminum garage doors currently in widespread use.

2.1.6 Gazebo

Gazebo rules currently state they must match a home’s color. This amendment would expand the colors, permitting the body or trim color, white, wood-stained or natural wood color.

2.1.8 Windows

This amendment addresses hurricane protection, expanding permissible approaches to include fabric screen systems but adding they must match window frames, the unit’s color or be white, adding that the grommets should be metal, plastic or rubber and match the fabric color.

2.1.9 Exterior Lighting

This amendment expands permissible styles of garage side exterior lights to traditional, contemporary, transitional, mission and rustic style lights in addition to the currently permitted coach style unless your village-specific guidelines already defines permissible lights.

2.1.10 Roof and Roof Products 

This amendment eliminates the current restriction on being able to see ridge/roof vents and attic fans from the road or a neighbor’s home as they commonly can be seen on most homes. It adds language limiting solar panels for ventilators and turbines from extending more than a foot above the roof and states its solar panel should not exceed the size of the ventilator/turbine.

2.1.11 Mechanical Equipment and Screening Structures

This amendment expands the definitions for acceptable screening (unless defined in neighborhood-specific guidelines) for mechanical devices such as irrigation units, air conditioning units, water softeners and generators to include walls painted to match the house, brick walls, vegetation at least four feet tall at installation and so maintained, approved four-foot tall fencing or a white vinyl, PVC or resin, solid panel enclosure, consistent with the color of approved neighborhood fencing or painted to match the house. It also permits lattice enclosures that do not exceed one foot in height with the full height not exceeding four feet. It also clarifies that for homes where the sidewalk and street are not on the same side of a home, screening is only required from the street.

2.1.12 Paint Color Palette Guideline – Exterior Paint

This amendment expands paint rules, allowing a home to have four colors (a minimum of two and maximum of three are currently permitted) when it has shutters if the front door and shutters use different accent colors or if the shutters are an accent color and the front door is wood stained. The definitions of body/wall are expanded to include exterior entryway ceilings and rear patio/porch ceilings and expands the definition of trim to include fascia and exterior entry doors and adds keystones to the definition of accents.

2.1.13 Material for Exterior Improvements or Maintenance

This amendment expands approved materials for all exterior home improvements or maintenance to include treated pine wood siding. It also defines acceptable materials for fascia (the exposed board on the front of a roof’s overhang) to now include spruce, pine, fir, or cedar wood, vinyl, aluminum, or PVC while acceptable materials for the soffit (the covering between the outer edges of a roof and the adjacent wall of the house) would now include vinyl, metal, or wood.

2.1.15 Patios

While keeping existing patio rules, this amendment defines for the first time where the acceptable locations for patios are, stating the rear, front and side yards. (Among other rules, patios can be constructed of concrete, natural, muted or earth-tone pavers, natural stone or tile.

2.1.16 Play Structures: Temporary, Portable and Permanent

This amendment adds tree swings to temporary infant play sets and swing sets that are permitted but which must be stored out of public view when not in use. It also changes rules for permanent play structures, newly permitting metal structures and newly allow them in side yards if the rear yard setback does not provide adequate room. It also newly requires permanent play structures to be securely anchored to the ground.

2.1.21 Trampolines

This amendment also newly permits trampolines in side yards but only if rear yard setbacks create a lack of space. It requires them to be five feet from rear and side lot lines and be screened from public view.

2.1.22 Trellis and Arbors

This amendment removes the size limitation for trellises and arbors and adds a rule that they be painted the same color as a home’s body or trim or be white, wood stained or a natural wood color.

2.1.25 Gutters and Drainage

This amendment adds that downspouts and gutters must be the color of a home’s body and permits gutter socks, downspout extenders or splash blocks on/below downspouts to divert runoff.

2.1.28 Pools and Spas

This rule adds a lengthy new description of in-ground and above-ground pools to better define the ban on above-ground structures. It clarifies materials for in-ground pools and states they can project out of grade when the yard slopes away from the home. It adds that the above-ground ban does not apply to tubs or spas and requires pool equipment be screened from view.

2.1.29 Garbage Cans

This amendment changes the permissible screening for garbage cans stored out of a garage. It carves out the ability of neighborhood to have individual guidelines while adding material and color rules for fencing and removing all-lattice screening options, replacing them with a fence topped by lattice that cannot exceed one-foot in height and four-feet total.

Section 2.1.31 Drainage Solutions between Units

This amendment adds a new section requiring yard grading that causes runoff to be directed to the front or back of a home’s yard. It permits alternate solutions for overly wet areas. It encourages neighbors to work on a mutually acceptable solution while setting requirements for submission of solutions to the Modifications Committee. It permits new solutions such as regrading, the use of gutters/external or French drains; embedded stepping stones, porous materials like gravels, pebbles or mulch, pervious walkways and defined impervious materials provided gutters are also installed. It permits the Modifications Committee to hire an engineer to review suggested plans, charging the resident for any professional fees.

2.1.32 Ramps – ADA Accessibility Compliance

This amendment permits the construction of access ramps with a physician’s affidavit testifying to medical necessity and disability. It must be unobtrusive and aesthetically blend in with homes and receive HOA preapproval.

2.2.1 Front Yard Landscape
                                                                             
This amendment reduces the current required plant size for front yards from three-gallon plants to one-gallon plants.

2.2.2 Corner Yard Landscape

This amendment also reduces the current required plant size for corner yards from three-gallon plants to one-gallon plants.

2.2.3 Garden Borders

This amendment adds a new rule that garden borders should not be taller than one foot and cannot be painted.

2.2.4 Irrigation

This amendment removes the current rules forbidding sprinklers from spraying on any roadway, driveway, sidewalk or adjacent property.

2.2.5 General Landscaping and Maintenance Requirements

Currently this rule reads that all perimeter side and rear lot lines shall be bordered by a three-foot wide turf strip. This amendment changes the wording to indicate that this is the preferred situation. It also changes the rule banning the use of mulched areas here to clarify that tree or shrub beds along the perimeter may be mulched.

Another change adds wording that landscape debris may be placed for curbside pick-up on the evening prior to yard waste pick up and may not exceed Hillsborough County Waste Management guidelines.

2.2.7 Landscape Materials

This amendment lifts the current restriction on the use of white rock in landscaping and adds it to permissible mulch and mulch substitutes.

2.2.8 Plant Material List and Appendix 100

This amendment adds Christmas Palms to the approved plant material list in Section 2.2.8; another amendment makes the same change to the appendix.

2.2.11 Standard Fencing

This amendment adds wording to existing fence rules stipulating that fence panels/slats should be oriented in a vertical or horizontal direction and posts should be placed on the inside of the property with fence panels on the outside. It also clarifies that fences must be tied into the home no closer to the front than ten feet unless the fence is used to screen mechanical equipment.

2.2.15 Standard Fencing Materials

This amendment clarifies fence material rules to permit additional fence styles if permitted in neighborhood specific guidelines. It also adds an option for six-inch wide fence pickets (currently the only width option is four inches.). It also newly permits ball or pyramid-top styles to aluminum fence post tops (in addition to existing flat top style) and adds language that states that aluminum fence pickets shall be flat or pointed top pickets.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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January’s Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor Award Winner: Gail and Reid Anderson

I am so thankful to have Gail Lawson Anderson as a neighbor,” wrote Keswick Forest’s Heather Greeley-Hessefort.

Greeley-Hessefort nominated Gail and her husband Reid for Irish 31’s Thankful for Your Neighbor Award in November. She added, “When we were away for Thanksgiving and a package was delivered two days early, she ran over and picked it up from our front door. She saved it from potential porch pirates and from melting. She also checked to ensure my car was still in our driveway after a neighbor’s car was stolen. Gail and her husband (Reid) have helped us out many times by walking our two beagles when we were away for the day. They also always have treats for our dogs when we walk by their house. You couldn’t ask for a nicer neighbor.”

Leslie McCluskie then gave the nomination her second. “I agree with Heather. Gail Anderson and her husband Reid Anderson are always looking out for us neighbors. Just a few weeks ago Gail knew my husband had surgery and she brought over a delicious casserole. I'm honored to have them and the Hesseforts for neighbors.”

When asked what inspires them to be great neighbors, Gail Anderson responded, “Our neighbors here in Westchase in Keswick are our Tampa family.” She added, “We’re Westchase originals. We built 24 years ago. We’ve been living next to them for years.”

Gail added that being helpful to her longtime neighbors is just automatic for them now. “I don’t think of it as helpful or kind.”

Reid Anderson added that Keswick Forest is a neighborhood filled with like-minded good neighbors. “We all look out for each other here. It’s just a matter of whose turn it is.”

Congratulations to the Andersons for being such great neighbors! As the result, they’ll be enjoying a $50 gift certificate to Irish 31, courtesy of Irish 31.

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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HOA Assessments, Modifications and Movies in the Park

Happy New Year to all!

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a safe New Year’s celebration.

In November 2018 the annual payment notice for the 2019 assessment was mailed to all Westchase owners for payment due on Jan. 1 in the amount of $274. As a reminder, failure to pay the assessment by Jan. 31 will result in a late fee of $25. Please remember to include the payment notice that has your account number with your payment in the return envelope provided to you. You can drop off your payment at the association office, however, that will delay posting of the payment to your account.  If you are a new owner and did not receive your coupon, please contact our office immediately.

There are only three more months left of the Movie in The Park showings. If you haven’t had the chance to attend, mark your calendar for the second Friday of January, February and March at 7 p.m. in the Montague Street green in West Park Village. The HOA supplies the popcorn and the water is provided by donation from Bivens Orthodontics. Grab a lawn chair, a blanket, snacks and drinks and join your neighbors for a fun evening under the stars.

If you are new to Westchase and association living, you can familiarize yourself with the association’s governing documents found at http://www.westchasewca.com under the Docs/Forms tab. The Residential Guidelines tell you what you can do with modification application approval; Article XII of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) tells you what the restrictions are (what you cannot do). We have encountered many new homeowners performing work on their property without first getting association approval. In order to avoid having your exterior alteration denied due to non-compliance with the documents, it is imperative to get modification approval first. When in doubt about what is or is not permitted, our office staff is here to help guide you.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Linebaugh to Temporarily Lose Two Turning Lanes Jan. 7

Motorists and cyclists can expect delays traveling westbound on Linebaugh Avenue in the first two months of 2019. The county’s installation of a new sewer line passing beneath the road will close two right turn lanes to northbound Sheldon Road and a bike lane on Linebaugh as it approaches Sheldon Road.

The lane closures will begin on Jan. 7, 2019 and are expected to be complete by Feb. 25, 2019.

According to the county’s previously announced plans, of the remaining lanes, one will become a dedicated right turn lane and one will remain a dedicated left turn lane.

The work is expected to significantly impact traffic, especially during the afternoon rush hour.

Residents are encouraged to explore alternative routes into the community during the project’s roughly two-month timeframe.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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When Your Cat Becomes Prey

In February 2017 Fords residents Taryn Falls and her fiancé were awakened just after 11 p.m. by wild screaming.

A motion sensor clicked on their back light.

That’s when her fiancé spotted it:

A coyote chasing their cat across the backyard.

The couple rushed out and began calling the cat, which, Falls said, always would return in response.

But the cat didn’t appear.

“We were freaking out because the last thing he saw was the coyote chasing the cat.”

The cat, said Falls, used the dog door in the house and lanai to get out. “They don’t wander the neighborhood,” she said of the dog and cat. “They wander outside in our mulch and come right in.”

Falls added, “I totally get people who say I shouldn’t.”

The couple returned to bed that night distressed. Falls went back outside just before sunup and called again. “All of a sudden I heard meows.”

She searched. “I found the cat about two stories up in my neighbor’s tree.” She added, “After that heart attack, we shut both dog doors down so they don’t get down at night.”

But the coyote, she said, is a concern. The couple doesn’t live beside a conservation area. “That coyote had to cross the road to get to our house. That’s a problem,” she said.

Stories of coyotes in Northwest Hillsborough have significantly grown in the last decade. There’s a reason: they’re relative newcomers.

According the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), coyotes were found in only 18 panhandle counties in 1983. By 1990, they had expanded to 48 counties and now they can be found throughout the state. They’re adaptable, handily surviving even in urban areas.

Weighing between 20-30 pounds, coyotes have a pelt that’s salt and pepper, grayish-brown or black. Their pointy ears, slender snout, bushy tail and narrower, more elongated tracks set them apart from domesticated dogs.

When interviewed a few years ago by WOW, Gary Morse, spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), said that homeowners should never let their cats roam freely. “There are a number of predators out there that can prey on your pets. A lot of people let their cats out, but you stand a very good chance of having coyote predation on your pet.”

While coyotes can carry rabies, they generally are wary of humans.

If coyotes are roaming the neighborhood, Morse advises homeowners to walk their pets with a deterrent – a noisemaker, pepper spray or a sturdy walking stick. If one approaches, quickly pick up your pet. “Make a lot of noise,” Morse advised, “Stand as tall as you can.”

Coyotes often can be successfully frightened off by loud noises, a blast from a garden hose, or, at close range, a solid walking stick or golf club. If a coyote should approach a young child, the adult should make a loud noise and move aggressively toward the child, quickly lifting them from the ground. Back away while facing forward.

Morse was quick to caution against panic, however. “A coyote is not a threat in general to people, including small children, but it certainly is so for pets.”

In response to growing complaints about coyotes, the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) explored possible trapping or hunting a few years ago. They ultimately embraced the FWC’s advice about coyote management.

“Attempting to completely eliminate coyotes is both expensive and futile,” says a FWC brochure.

While problem coyotes can be trapped, the FWC says they will quickly be replaced by other coyotes.

In other words, it’s an expensive, frustrating game of Whack-a-Mole.

Coyotes are most likely to be active at dusk and dawn, when care should be taken while walking pets. Dogs should be kept on short leashes and walks should avoid wooded or overgrown areas where coyotes can hide.

The most important thing residents can do is refrain from feeding the coyotes both accidentally, through outdoor pet bowls, and purposefully. While they instinctively avoid people, coyotes that are offered food lose this natural fear of humans. Even feeding ducks can increase the flock and thus attract more coyotes. Providing for coyotes also strengthens their numbers. When food is scarce, female coyotes produce smaller litters. The best way to force them to move elsewhere is to remove any type of food source. During the dry season, also don’t leave water sources like filled pet bowls outside your home.

Coyotes are in Hillsborough County to stay. With a bit of adaptation of our own, however, humans and coyotes can learn to coexist.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Board Offers Pipeline Swimming One Year Contract

Parents of children who participate in the Westchase swim program filled the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office at the Board of Directors meeting Thursday, Dec. 13.

They all had the chance to talk during the open forum of the meeting, including non-residents, which WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga protested was a violation of the meeting rules, “This should be a resident forum,” he stated.

Board President Ruben Collazo responded, “I invited non-residents because I keep hearing we’re not getting swimmers’ input. They are our neighbors. They are contributing to our bank [by paying fees for the program].”

Overall attendees’ comments were in support of retaining Pipeline to run the swim team program with several saying that their children had lost their love of swimming after Coach Kelley, who ran the program several years ago died, but that they had developed a new appreciation for the sport under the guidance of Pipeline’s coaches. Greens resident Michelle Werr said, “We’re new to Florida. I have four kids who are all into sports. We moved to Westchase because of the community-based sports. My daughter was upset when the changes were made, but now, she is thriving and Pipeline has set a fire inside her to improve. My son is hooked after five weeks of practice with them and they are teaching my youngest to swim.”

Most parents emphasized that to change programs again would be devastating for the children and many said they would leave and not come back.

Many parents expressed their dismay with how the whole process of firing TBAC and Coach Alex Richardson and engaging Pipeline had been handled, including Harbor Links resident Yelena Maloney. “I have two major complaints – the way it took place and that I, as a resident, have been marginalized,” she said. “My kids have been kicked off the team. I feel like the [Swim] committee did not do due diligence. We didn’t take any feedback from residents.”

Westchase resident Diane McDonough, a member of the Swim Committee, said she also had some issues with how the committee, which was formed after Pipeline took over, was run. “I felt some things didn’t get answered. [Former Pipeline parent volunteer] Mike Davis is making complaints. Why is he so angry? Did anyone ever contact the Sarasota Sharks about why Piper was fired? A former coach said he did not get paid. I want to know if he was paid. We need to do more research before making a decision.”

Later in the meeting after discussing Board Vice President Rick Goldstein’s Swim Committee report, all WCA Directors voted in favor of Director Shawn Yesner’s motion to engage in negotiations with Pipeline for a yearlong contract and to set up a Swim Committee to put metrics in place on how to evaluate the program with the flexibility to look and research other programs.

Arrillaga said, “Before everyone leaves, I just found out about kids being blackballed from the team. I feel like someone from the board should mediate so the kids can swim.”

During the meeting, directors also heard appeals from homeowners regarding fines. They suspended the fine for a Harbor Links homeowner regarding a dirty roof as long as the roof is cleaned or replaced within 30 days. The homeowner is in litigation with her insurance company over repairs and had been holding off on cleaning the roof because it is going to be replaced.

Directors suspended 90 percent of the fine for a Greens homeowner concerning discolored fascia.

Directors heard from a Woodbay homeowner who said she received the letter about screening her AC unit and installed a fence. She said she was told that did not work, so she then planted a hibiscus bush and thought everything was OK. She then went away for the summer and while her other mail had been forwarded to her, the letter from the WCA telling her she was still in violation had not been forwarded so she thought everything was acceptable. She said that once she came back to Westchase and knew about the violation, she had planted more hibiscus bushes. Director Arrillaga made a motion to waive 90 percent of the fine. Collazo asked the homeowner why she didn’t look happy and she said she acknowledged she wasn’t “because I don’t know why the letter wasn’t forwarded.” Collazo made a substitute motion to waive the whole fine. Directors voted 5 – 2 in favor of his motion with Arrillaga and Director Keith Heinemann casting the dissenting votes. 

A West Park Village (WPV) homeowner asked the board to allow him to post no trespassing signs on his fence. He said that his neighbor had been coming onto his property uninvited, told contractors to stop working on his property and had, the previous night, dumped trash on his lawn. The homeowner said that his lawyer had advised him he needed to post the signs. WPV VM Mary Griffin added that she had received an anonymous phone call from someone making prejudiced remarks about Amir, the new owner. Collazo apologized saying, “This is not who Westchase is. I’m going to make a motion to approve the signs.”

Board Treasurer Shawn Yesner said, “I think the actions are despicable but don’t think it is our place to get involved.”

Griffin responded, “They called me as VM and made lots of false statements and accusation so we are involved.”

Yesner added, “I don’t think the sign will make a difference and Hillsborough County Sheriffs do not require signs in order to make an arrest for trespassing.”

Directors ultimately voted 4 – 3 in favor of Collazo’s motion with Heinemann, Arrillaga and Yesner casting the dissenting votes.

In other action, Bridges resident Joe Odda was appointed to WOW board.

Government Affairs Committee Chair Rick Goldstein reported that he had continued to meet with county representatives and that they were talking about doing a new traffic study for WPV. He stated the county would be placing new stop signs in the neighborhood as well as no parking zones near the intersection of Bentley Way and Royce Dr. He said Countryway Boulevard was scheduled to be repaved in January.

Operations Manager Kelly Shires asked the board to discontinue the Hillsborough County’s use of the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center facilities on voting day. “It is a safety issue during the elections. They have outgrown our facilities. Kids are there for lessons and people are in a hurry coming in to vote,” he said. Shires said the other option would be to cancel programs for that day. Griffin agreed with Shires, “It was a mess. The board volunteered it years ago and it’s just going to get worse.”

Directors, however, voted 2 – 5 against Heinemann’s motion to approve Shires’ request with Directors Ashley Wait, Yesner, Arrillaga, Michele DelSordo and Goldstein casting votes in opposition.

All voted in favor of Yesner’s motion to accept Eric Pogue’s offer to move the Westchase Open Tennis Tournament trademark to the WCA.

Yesner added that he had been reviewing the WCA financials and that, “We are way over budget in different categories, especially legal. I would like to meet with [Association Manager] Debbie [Sainz] and legal and find out what we are being billed for and how we can reign it in.”

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Dec. 14, 2018

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Dec. 14 Movie in the Park Postponed to Dec. 21

Westchase Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz has announced that due to rain, the Movie in the Park for Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. has been postponed to Friday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.  The scheduled move is the animated fantasy adventure titled The Star (PG).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 14, 2018

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Shires VM Ruben Collazo Reelected

Seventy-eight percent of Shires homeowners cast a ballot in their voting member (VM) election at the Shires biannual meeting, held Wednesday, December 12, at 5:30 p.m.

Westchase Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz asked Ruben Collazo, the current Shires VM if he would accept seven proxy votes that did not have the top line filled out. He asked if they appeared valid and Sainz replied, “Yes, they have names and addresses.”

Collazo said he would accept the ballots. Sainz also reported that there were two ballots which could not be counted because they weren’t dated.

Sainz then announced the results of the vote: Collazo was elected voting member (114 votes), Elaine Ragan was elected first alternate (74 votes), Terri Bridges won second alternate (71  votes) and Dan Perez won third alternate (26 votes).

WCA director Keith Heinemann, who was at the meeting acting as the board’s representative, said he wanted to congratulate everyone for being elected and participating. “It is good to see people getting involved,” he said.

Perez asked how the group would work together and Collazo responded, “Generally speaking, we decide as a group. I would like to rotate a seat at the VM meeting. There are some big issues coming up in January and February. We need to decide how we want to vote for guideline changes like white rocks in the landscaping. I don’t think we want those.”

During the open meeting the VMs heard from residents who asked them how they could get the oak trees lining the streets trimmed. Collazo said, “Normally I’ve made the calls to the CDD but I’m going to work with the alternates so that they’ll know how to do the job.”

Collazo indicated he’d like the alternates to get experience. Referring to the end of his next two-year term, he said. “I’d like to retire from this position then.”

Collazo said he was also going to make Ragan an editor on the Shires Facebook page and would share the neighborhood email list with her and talk to her about how and when to send emails.

Trish Blocker asked what issues would be coming up in January/February and after Collazo responded that it was the guideline changes, the conversation turned to how to get information to homeowners. Ragan asked, “How do we communicate to everyone in The Shires so they know about them?” Collazo said, “Generally it is in WOW. I have not duplicated information through Facebook or email if it’s in WOW. When you do that, people complain that the information is already out there.”

Ann Boytim asked if anything could be done about recent flooding in her backyard. “I’ve lived here since 1999. My home backs up to the woods. Supposedly there is a canal back there that is now blocked.”

Collazo said he would talk to the Community Development District (CDD). Boytim said she was also having problems with people cutting through her yard to get to the woods because the nearby fence had a hole in it. Collazo said he had been having a hard time getting any entity to take responsibility for the fence, “Hillsborough County says it is Swiftmud’s fence. Swiftmud says it isn’t. I don’t know who owns the fence.”

Residents then turned back to the discussion of communication with one asking what the best way was to give VMs feedback. When Collazo told them email and that all VM addresses were in the back of WOW and that it was the place to go for information, Blocker said, “I agree it is a good resource but it only comes out once a month.”

Ragan suggested that residents could also respond to posts on the Facebook page including email or whatever was most convenient.

Bridges asked, “How do you get people on your email list? Because I’ve lived here 3 years and I’ve never received an email from you. This is the first time I’ve ever met you. It seems like you should reach out to new residents. That’s why I’m here tonight – to get involved.”

Perez suggested that when a new resident moves in, the WCA should notify him or her who the VM for their neighborhood is. Petriva Mack said, “If you’re new to a community and you’re getting a newsletter, you shouldn’t require a volunteer to reach out. As a homeowner you should take responsibility to get information. I go and meet all the new neighbors on my street and get their information to give to the VM. To expect the VM to take on that responsibility is unfair.”

Bridges responded, “Fair enough. But we find out this year that a VM is going door-to-door for votes. If you have that kind of time, you can go meet new neighbors.”

Ragan added, “Many of our new residents don’t come from communities with VMs or a CDD and don’t know they should contact a VM.”

Collazo asked if they thought he should duplicate information that was already out there and all agreed that it was good to get information to residents in as many ways as possible.

Collazo and Sainz then explained the VM duties before ending the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

After initial publication, this article has been edited. The challenger's vote tallies were changed by one or two votes based on updated numbers from the VM.

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Decorating Contest Winners Light Up Visitors’ Holidays

Nostalgia and music certainly seemed to be “hook” to land residents in the top three slots for the 2018 Holiday Decorating Contest. 

While the majority of the names on the 2018 winners’ list are familiar, their displays delighted judges and neighbors alike. 

For the third year in a row, Best Neighborhood for Westchase again went to Woodbay—Bristol Commons Circle.  Residents Robert Franceskino and Daniel Good took to the streets to adorn the trees along the street with red ribbons.  They also scaled ladders to string lights from tree to tree, crossing back and forth over Bristol Commons Circle, to illuminate the drive through their neighborhood.  “We started in November with the lights,” shared Good.  They even added lights to a nearby vacant home currently up for sale.  “We did get permission from the owner for that but we wanted to include it while we were out there stringing lights!” 

Their holiday enthusiasm for decorating has become infectious to other neighbors.  Good shared this is the first year that every home on their side of the street decorated their home with lights.  “We’re seeing more and more homes participate each year and it’s just so fun to be part of all this with our neighbors,” said Franceskino.

Good and Franceskino, last years’ second place winners and first place the year prior,  were also honored to be awarded first place for the individual residence category for 2018.  Their home at 12428 Bristol Commons Circle featured nostalgic toy soldiers, painted wooden displays and other illuminated decorations adorning the house and lawn.  Santa and his reindeer sit on the rooftop.  Franceskino’s mother even flew in from Connecticut this year to see the display that has landed the couple on the top three list for several years now.  

Second place for individual winners goes to the Sanacore family at 10451 Green Links Drive in Village Green.  Their Christmas Tree Lot display features a lighted tent complete with several fresh cut trees, a hay bale bench for photo opportunities and a large painted wooden camper display.  Mom, Summer, is the mastermind behind the creation and gets lots of help from husband Dennis and children Sawyer and Brady. 

Third place for the second year in a row goes to the Moyer family at 10201 Bennington Drive.  As residents of West Park Village last year, the Moyers moved all their holiday decorations with them as they moved to Bennington Drive.  Their display features a dancing Santa and large wooden sleigh loaded with lighted gifts.

Best Neighborhood for the WOW Northwest neighborhoods goes once again to Mandolin Estates.  Residents Pablo Smith and Jeff Mauldin work tirelessly for many hours to create the joint display that has landed the neighborhood as the top neighborhood winner for two years now.  Their display also nabbed them top honors as a first place tie for their homes at 11307 and 11305 Minaret Drive.  Their light display is also set to music.  As drivers approach the display they can watch lights dance to the music once they tune in to the station 88.7. Each year, the neighboring friends discuss how to top the previous year.  The additions this year include live plants and the addition of more colored lights. 

Smith estimated at least 80 hours goes into putting the display together each evening after work and on Saturdays for several weeks.  Their “reveal” party includes 75 to 100 neighbors gathering to enjoy hot chocolate and a movie shown against the garage door in the driveway. 

Second place for the Northwest section goes to Bryan and Emmanuelle O’Lavin of 11323 Minaret Drive.  Their lighted display is also set to music at station 88.3. 

Congratulations to all our winners and thanks for making our communities such a sight to see during this holiday season!  The full list of winners and honorable mentions is as follows:

Decorating Contest Winners

Westchase

First Place: Robert Franceskino and Daniel Good
12428 Bristol Commons Circle
Woodbay

Second Place: The Sanacore Family
10451 Green Links Dr.
Village Green

Third Place: The Moyer Family
10201 Bennington Drive
Bennington

Best Neighborhood Award:
Woodbay: Bristol Commons Circle

Westchase Honorable Mentions

10316 Springrose Drive (Glenfield)
9946 Stockbridge Dr. (The Bridges)
10441 Lightner Bridge Dr. (The Bridges)
10011 Bridgeton Dr. (The Bridges)
10709 Sierra Vista Pl. (The Vineyards)
10416 Snowden Pl (Chelmsford)
12014 Wandsworth Dr. (Radcliffe)
12120 Clear Harbor Dr. (Harbor Links/The Estates)
12123 Clear Harbor Dr. (Harbor Links/The Estates)
9807 Emerald Links Dr. (Harbor Links/The Estates)
10743 Ayrshire Dr. (The Shires)

WOW Northwest Winners

First Place: Pablo Smith and Jeff Mauldin
11307 and 11305 Minaret Dr.
Mandolin Estates

Second Place: The O’Lavin Family
11323 Minaret Dr.
Mandolin Estates

Best Neighborhood Award:
Mandolin Estates

By Lisa Stephens

Published Dec. 13, 2018

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VMs Take Critical Look at Elections and Swim Team Committee

The Dec. 11 Westchase Voting Member meeting began with WCA Attorney Jon Ellis explaining the voting member election process. “The process works really well when nobody wants the job,” he said.

Ellis said that there are two types of proxies, general and limited. A general proxy can be given to someone else to have that person make the decision of how to vote but a limited proxy indicates specifically how the person wants to vote. Currently if a proxy holder is not specifically selected or designated on the card’s top line, it defaults to the voting member. Referring to the recent voting member (VM) election for The Bridges, Ellis said that whether these proxies were submitted or not, it did not affect the election results. “In this situation, the voting member [then Cynde Mercer] decided that she did not want to cast the proxies. The voting member determined that these proxies should not count. In 20 years, we have never had somebody that got proxies and decided not to submit them.”

Prior to The Bridges election, however, the association office had communicated that all ballots brought by challengers without the top line naming them as proxy would not be counted. This left it to the VM to decide whether to cast the ballots under his/her proxy power.

Ellis went on to say that they had made some suggestions to the association for changes to the process, such as a confirmation that if a person is listed as the default proxy, that individual should be willing to cast the proxy as received. He also suggested that the association consider having someone else designated as the default proxy holder, such as the Westchase Community Association (WCA) President, secretary or some third party. Additional suggestions included compelling candidates to declare themselves within a time period and not from the floor as the association currently allows. A secret election could also be used by incorporating confidential ballot envelopes. Ellis said that he would work with the association to change the process but there are costs involved.

VM Mary Griffin (Single Family Homes of West Park Village) said, “We are taking a fairly simple thing and overcomplicating it. We could change the wording a bit and continue. We could change the quorum from 30 percent to 10 percent. Any change to our bylaws must be mailed to every resident at a cost of at least $4,000. I don’t think the proxy was clear.”

After some additional questions about options to change the process, VMs decided to form a committee to discuss, investigate and provide recommendations. VMs Mary Griffin, Eric Holt (Radcliffe), Heather Greeley-Hessefort (Keswick Forest), Russ Crooks (Bennington), Terrance Maloney (Harbor Lakes/The Estates) and Ward Farley (Saville Rowe) as well as Alternates Nancy Sells and Lucas Capuzzo (both from Harbor Links/The Estates) volunteered for the committee.

Griffin then brought up the next agenda item, a discussion about the Swim Team Committee. She and other VMs requested it be placed on the agenda after Harbor Links/The Estates resident Yelena Maloney, a resident, swim team parent, former swim team committee member and spouse of the newly elected Harbor Links/The Estates VM, wrote an email to VMs on Nov. 16 expressing concern about the way the events and communications have occurred around removing former swim coach Alex Richardson and bringing in the replacement vendor, Pipeline Swimming. Griffin said “We all received this email from Yelena Maloney. My question is that you (speaking to Ruben Collazo) as board president will give some assurance that the definition of a committee and the reasons for the committee will be enforced. If this is true,” Griffin added, holding up Maloney’s printed email, “this in total violation of that.”

Griffin added, “If everybody agrees that we address this issue, I want the board itself to re-issue and clarify to the residents what it means to have a committee and that all of them are open [to residents] because in this case, it didn’t happen.”

Griffin was referring to Maloney’s description of a Nov. 12 meeting of the Swim Team Committee at the WCA office building. Maloney’s email stated “About five minutes into the meeting the committee chair announced that the meeting was adjourned and asked everyone to leave. As my husband and other people left the building, the door was physically locked and the meeting continued. They waited around to see if they would be invited back in but they were not and the meeting took place.”

VM Rick Goldstein (Woodbridge), who was the Swim Team Committee Chair, explained that the meeting was cancelled because someone from New Port Richie who was not a resident or a swim parent tried to attend the meeting. He said that Terrance Maloney had then accused him of taking bribes from Pipeline and he had been very taken aback by the confrontation, which is why the committee members had re-entered the building. He said that he just wanted to talk to the other committee members about how taken aback he was but the doors were not locked and after they finished talking, there was a sub association meeting.

VM Terrance Maloney, however, denied making any such statements to Goldstein. Board member and Swim Team Committee member Michele DelSordo, who was also in attendance that night, confirmed that the doors weren’t locked just closed but Maloney could have knocked.

[Editor’s note: Without a deadbolt applied, the WCA Office Building’s doors, when locked, permit those leaving to exit freely but the doors can automatically lock behind them.]

Board Member Ashley Wait, a Swim Team Committee member who attended the Nov. 12 meeting and confirmed after it to WOW that the committee did discuss business after the residents were asked to leave, added, “From my perspective, how the Swim Committee was formed, from what I witnessed and saw, it was prolonged as if people wanted to get [the Pipeline hiring decision] brushed under the carpet. There was a motion to dissolve the committee before it was formed. It was all just bad.”

Collazo said he had spoken with Goldstein about the importance of meetings always being open and Goldstein agreed that reentering the building with the group had been a bad decision.

VM Ralph Caputo (Abbottsford) said, “It doesn’t appear that they had much input from swim team parents. That doesn’t seem to be how we operate.”

Referring to the upcoming Dec. 13 board meeting, Goldstein responded, “We have a report which is going to the board that will answer a lot of questions. Once the report is submitted, it is on the agenda for Thursday night’s board meeting.”

VM Terrance Maloney responded, “I question that report coming out tomorrow and a vote happening Thursday. Can we push out the deadline?”

Collazo said that he had taken note of Maloney’s request that the WCA Board not hold a vote on Thursday. Collazo added they are inviting some parents who are not residents to speak.

Yelena Maloney said incredulously, “So you are going to have Pipeline invite parents to the meeting?”

Yelena Maloney also said they would need more time to get other swim parents to attend and that the majority of swimmers who are residents do not swim at the Westchase pool.

Goldstein said, “That’s not true. We have lots of resident swimmers.”

WOW’s reporter interjected, “That is not true. My kids are Junior Olympic level swimmers who do not swim here. Most of the swimmers who were here before moved to Countryside, where my kids swim.”

The resident numbers have been a source of debate at board meetings. Anti-Pipeline swim parents have argued that the Westchase Pipeline club has benefitted from the recent closure of a nearby YMCA swim team. Pipeline advocates, however, have credited the Pipeline swim club with the increase.

At the WCA’s Aug. 6 budget workshop, which preceded Pipeline's hiring, Association Manager Debbie Sainz stated that of the 80 members of the swim team, eight were Westchase residents. After the Dec. 11 VM meeting, however, WCA Treasurer Shawn Yesner reported, "As of November 2018, we have 75 kids in the swim program. Forty-five of them (60 percent) are non-resident and 30 (40 percent) are resident. While we have a majority of non-residents, this 60/40 split has been pretty consistent since Pipeline took over, and represents a decrease in non-resident and increase in resident swimmers since they took over."

Griffin continued of the swim vendor selection, “It needs to be a more inclusive process. You are setting up problems and bad feelings.”

Referring to a recent allegation by a Westchase Pipeline swimmer and their parents that their child was roughly handled by one of the Pipeline coaches, VM Terrance Maloney asked, “Is the board also considering the allegation of physical abuse?”

Goldstein replied, “We took a lot of time to look into it. The young man sat in the room and explained what happened.”

DelSordo confirmed that they had spoken with the swimmer and his family and had determined it was in the best interest of everyone involved to handle the issue internally between themselves and the swim team. One of the VMs asked, “Are we really considering hiring a vendor with alleged abuse?”

Griffin also asked why Pipeline would have attended board meetings as described in the letter and brought up in the meeting by Yelena Maloney. “I’ve never heard of this before. Why would you have a committee that invites the contractor that they are discussing to hire attend the meeting?”

Goldstein responded several times to ongoing inquiries that the report answered the questions and it was coming out tomorrow. This prompted VMs to ask why they could not get the report sooner. Collazo asked Goldstein, “Can they have it earlier? It’s ready right?”

Goldstein agreed to send it to Collazo, who then sent it out to VMs after the meeting for review. In the interim, VMs wanted to know what the report’s recommendation was. Goldstein responded that it said there were numerous benefits to having a swim team and they were recommending extending the contract with Pipeline Swimming. The interim contract ends Dec. 31.

Several VMs suggested letting the contract with Pipeline expire so that more care and time could be taken to ensure a proper vendor selection. Collazo asked, “Should we be in the swim team business? We can cancel the swim program all together. I’ve thrown this out there many times.”

Griffin asked, “We own these facilities, but we do get compensated?”

Collazo replied, “Minimally.”

Yelena Maloney asked how the swim team vendors were selected for vetting by the committee. Goldstein said that he had gone to the USA Swimming site, put in Westchase’s zip code then researched those that had come up. As he listed those clubs he said, “TBAC was not considered for obvious reasons.”

WOW’s reporter challenged, “Why not TBAC? There are three branches with four coaches each. One of them could have been brought over.”

Referring to the fired coach, Goldstein replied, “Alex was an owner”

WOW reporter countered, “An owner? There is nothing to own. He doesn’t even work for TBAC anymore. He works for GTSA.”

Providing some history, VM Forrest Baumhover (Kingsford), a former WCA director, explained that the deliberations that were done behind closed doors were for personnel issues. He said he had proposed hiring Pipeline as a temporary solution.

VMs agreed to review the report and swim team parents, including non-residents, would also be welcomed to attend Thursday night’s board meeting but any decisions made at that meeting should be postponed until everyone gets a chance to review it.

In other business, VMs quickly gave their final approval to the color palette for two buildings at The Reserve at West Park Village.

VM Eric Holt (Radcliffe) also provided a brief update on the activities of the Westchase Freebooters Krewe. He stated they have been very successful thus far and would continue to be active in the community.

Concluding major action, Document Committee Chair Ed Siler walked VMs through the proposed Westchase-wide guideline changes with few questions from the attendees.

VMs adjourned at 9:22 p.m.

To view Yelena Maloney’s November email to VMs, click here.

To view the Swim Team Committee report, click here.

By Brenda Bennett and Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 13, 2018

The original article has been edited to clarify the WCA office door's locking mechanism. The article was also updated to reflect new swimming team resident numbers offered by the WCA treasurer.

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Terrance Maloney Elected Harbor Links/The Estates Voting Member

Ninety percent of Harbor Links/The Estates homeowners cast a ballot in their neighborhood’s voting member election, which was held Monday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m.

Before the votes were tallied, however, the current voting member (VM), Nancy Sells, said she would like to address the group. “In the 23 years Dale and I have lived in Harbor Links, this was the most contentious it has ever been. Usually we can’t get enough people to run. I’m going to ask the candidates that we keep the ballots confidential and that we all agree not to look at them. They are counted by [Westchase Community Association Property Manager] Charlotte [Adams] who is bound legally by her license. Because of Facebook posts many people are afraid of the ballots being seen and are concerned about retaliation.”

Everyone who was running for VM agreed to her request.

After counting the votes, Adams said that an unprecedented number of residents had participated. “We received 155 ballots. There are 172 properties in the neighborhood. In 11-years I’ve never seen that many. Usually we barely have 30 percent.”

Adams then went on to announce that Terrance Maloney had been elected as the new voting member for the neighborhood with 104 votes, Sells as first alternate with 68 votes, Dixie Mills as second alternate with 34 votes, Hunter Swearingen (who was not present for the meeting) as third alternate with 24 votes and Lucas Capuzzo as fourth alternate with 19 votes.

Maloney said that prior to the election, he had walked around and talked to the majority of his neighbors. “I got to meet so many neighbors I wouldn’t know otherwise. It was the most awesome experience,” he said.

Mills said she wanted to thank Sells for all of her hard work as VM over the past years.

Maloney asked Sells if she would share her email list and she said that she could not because she had promised confidentiality to residents. After several residents, who were in the audience, asked why Sells was not willing to share the emails, however, she agreed to email the people on the list and ask for their permission to share their email address with the new VM.

During the open forum of the meeting, one resident expressed frustration with the reclaimed water being cut off while another mentioned Westchase Golf Course staff driving lawn equipment on the road during early morning hours, although the vehicles were not street safe and should be only driven on the golf course paths. Maloney agreed to look in to both situations.

Reggie Gillis said he had attended the meeting because he had questions about the ballot including when had the ballot been developed and when the practice of automatically naming the VM as proxy start. Adams said that the WCA was checking into those questions with legal counsel, adding, “Lots of issues have come to light during the current election.” Adams added that board members would be working so that next year the ballots would be clearer.

WCA Director Michele DelSordo, the board’s representative at the meeting, said that the ballots and process would be discussed at the next VM meeting.

Several residents asked about the communication process and said that they should have received more information about the candidates. Bruce Weiner, however, suggested that perhaps the residents were at fault if they were not informed. “I appreciate everyone’s frustration about communication. But there is WOW, an email list, a Facebook page. The WCA has made an effort to communicate but as a resident you have to take it upon yourself to look at all the ways they communicate. Part of it is our responsibility as adults. The information is out there. You just have to go look for it.”

He then went on to congratulate Maloney, stating, “I’ve never seen a candidate go door-to-door or one who wanted to be so active in the community.”

Other VM Results

In other less competitive (or previously reported) VM races over the last week, the following individuals have been elected VMs of their villages:

The Bridges: Ashley Wait
Keswick Forest: Heather Greeley-Hessefort
Stamford: Jamie Kolev
Woodbay: Sherry Roberson
Wycliff: Melinda Lewis
 

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Dec. 11, 2018

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Real Estate Round Up: October 2018

Address

Sale Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full Baths

Half

Baths

Living Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9524 W. Park Village Dr.

245,000

68

168.73

3

2

1

1,452

N

12022 Deacons Croft Ln.

296,000

150

157.45

3

2

1

1,880

N

10022 New Parke Rd.

310,000

101

184.52

3

2

1

1,680

N

10328 Saville Rowe Ln.

310,000

10

152.56

3

2

1

2,032

N

10412 Springrose Dr.

356,000

16

201.70

3

2

0

1,765

Y

12116 Glencliff Cir.

360,000

5

168.15

3

2

0

2,141

N

9404 Edenton Way

375,000

5

174.09

3

2

0

2,154

N

12318 Wycliff Pl.

380,000

83

173.60

4

3

0

2,189

N

9403 Edenton Way

385,000

7

164.04

4

2

0

2,347

Y

11705 Derbyshire Dr.

402,000

10

201.10

4

2

0

1,999

Y

10307 Millport Dr.

462,000

87

191.3

4

3

0

2,415

Y

12312 Ashville Dr.

465,000

54

181.57

4

3

0

2,561

Y

10758 Tavistock Dr.

487,400

2

186.46

4

3

0

2,614

Y

11929 Middlebury Dr.

500,000

11

166.67

5

3

0

3,000

Y

11922 Middlebury Dr.

550,000

31

204.38

4

3

0

2,691

Y

10717 Tavistock Dr.

585,000

3

186.19

4

3

0

3,142

Y

10135 Belgrave Rd.

600,000

30

147.97

5

4

1

4,055

Y

10037 Brompton Dr.

648,000

8

206.37

4

3

1

3,140

Y

Highland Park

               

14614 Canopy Dr.

413,000

172

152.34

4

3

0

2,711

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11252 Blacksmith Dr.

376,000

38

180.77

3

2

0

2,080

N

11338 Minaret Dr.

482,500

71

146.21

4

3

0

3,300

Y

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11208 Cypress Reserve Dr.

292,000

20

207.24

3

2

0

1,409

N

11316 Cypress Reserve Dr.

309,000

64

203.29

3

2

0

1,520

Y

11609 Windsorton Way

365,000

15

186.89

3

2

0

1,953

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12501 Leatherleaf Dr.

475,000

29

173.29

4

3

0

2,741

Y

14819 Coral Berry Dr.

445,000

3

175.27

4

3

0

2,539

Y

Windsor Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11080 Windsor Place Cir.

200,000

69

157.23

2

1

1

1,272

N

11037 Windsor Place Cir.

246,000

3

146.17

2

2

1

1,683

N

11221 Windsor Place Cir.

212,000

20

166.67

2

2

1

1,272

N

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Santa Comes to Westchase!

Santa’s here! Santa’s “Pre-Flight” Parade returns to Westchase today, Saturday, Dec. 8, from 2-8 p.m. Residents hoping to track Santa’s progress through Westchase can visit http://glympse.com/!westchasesanta during the parade. Come out and greet Santa and remember to give him an unwrapped gift so you can be Santa for less fortunate children.

More info?

The event culminates in the annual Tree Lighting ceremony on Montague Street in West Park Village upon Santa’s arrival at approximately 8 p.m. Holiday music and activities including Davidson middle school’s jazz band and orchestra will start in West Park Village Town Center at approximately 6 p.m.

WOW is proud to help make this event possible through a donation of $5,000 to cover its costs.

WOW thanks Santa, all his parade helpers and his elves – particularly Brandon and Dan O’Brien and Ralph Caputo. These great volunteers for the Westchase Charitable Foundation are responsible for this great community tradition. It’s a long day that thrills the kids and adults alike. Let’s show our appreciation by showering them with gifts for less fortunate kids (or, if you’re short on time, hand them a check made out to the Westchase Charitable Foundation).

Have a blast, Westchase!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 8, 2018

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CDD Board Discusses Street Lights, Cell Tower and Street Tree Plan

The Dec. 4 meeting of Westchase CDD supervisors, who discussed hiring a landscape architect to develop a consistent street tree plan, saw the new terms of two board members begin.

Sworn in before the meeting were longtime supervisor, Greg Chesney of The Bridges, reelected without opposition, and new board member Forrest Baumhover of Kingsford, also elected with no opposition, to four-year terms. Westchase Community Development District (CDD) supervisors began the meeting by electing officers. Supervisors reelected Jim Mills of Greendale as board chair and Chesney as vice chair.

Supervisors first turned to matters related to TECO street lights. TECO representatives recently approached the Westchase Community Association (WCA) and the CDD with complaints that two or three of its newly installed LED street light bulbs had been painted black by unknown residents due to their bright light entering homes. While TECO said it would not charge the community for the recent vandalism, TECO has stated it will should it will bill the community if the damage continues, with each bulb costing at least $1,000. At least one of the vandalized bulbs was in West Park Village, which, according to Supervisor Chesney, lies outside the Westchase lighting district (for which most Westchase residents are billed) and may be owned by the CDD. Unclear about ownership and responsibilities for street lights in Westchase, supervisors have asked staff to research past leasing agreements with TECO. Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated that district staff found no documentation and has asked TECO to provide the original agreements.

Citing a CDD motion passed earlier this decade exempting West Park Village residents from being assessed by the CDD for streetlights, potentially causing other areas of Westchase to pay for their neighborhood streetlights and West Park’s lights, Chesney stated that it may have been done in error and asked staff to research it and place it on January’s meeting agenda.

Supervisor Greg Chesney then updated supervisors on discussions with the district engineer regarding the potential placing of a cell tower in Glencliff Park, on land just south of its southern parking lot. Chesney stated the engineer reported that the preferred layout for the cell tower parcel would not fit in the area without impacting the parking lot. “It looks like we would lose eight parking spaces in Glencliff Park,” he said.

Discussing the matter, Supervisors Mills, Brian Ross and Matt Lewis stated they would not support any placement that would cause a loss of the spots but the board appeared open to requesting that Vertex, the company making the pitch, return with a proposal for a placement in the park without the loss of parking.  Supervisor Ross, however, stated he preferred District Manager Andy Mendenhall first research whether other districts had entered into such agreements as assurance that supervisors would not be overstepping their statutory limits. “I think that does make sense,” responded CDD Attorney Erin McCormick.

Mendenhall committed to following up on the matter.

Following up on golf course purchase discussions, Chesney stated he would be having lunch with the owner in the days following the meeting to determine whether he still had interest in selling the course to the district.

District Manager Mendenhall returned with two proposals from companies to work with the district to ensure its web site is ADA compliant. To explore if the less expensive option from ADA Compliance would work, staff committed to reviewing the company’s templates to ensure they would work with the information and customer service approach of the district’s existing web site. At Supervisor Baumhover’s request, Mendenhall also committed to coming back with bids from the companies for a thorough audit of the existing site to determine if much needed to change prior to the board choosing a vendor.

Making his report, Field Manager Doug Mays brought a Shires resident’s request that the district install a fountain in place of an existing aerator in Pond #30 off Ayreshire Drive. Mays pointed out that fountains are far more costly, along with their electricity costs, than aerators and that only about 25 homes would see it. CDD Chair Jim Mills stated the request should be postponed until budget season over the summer.

Mays also brought a complaint from a Village Green resident that the district recently planted a tree on Green Links Drive that was not a match with other existing trees on the road. The resident asked that the tree be replaced with one that matched the others. The resident also inquired whether the district had a formal tree plan guiding replacement of street trees to ensure aesthetic consistency.

Mays stated that the road had several tree species and he used the Japanese Blueberry tree, which doesn’t exist elsewhere in Village Green, to replace a different tree damaged by a recent tornado. He stated he planned, over time as the trees declined, to replace the road’s existing holly trees to Japanese blueberry trees because the hollies were no longer available due susceptibility to disease. He stated he opposed the resident’s request to replace it with a matching oak because of the trees’ impact on sidewalks. 

CDD Supervisor Chesney stated he had the same consistency issue with a palm tree staff had planted in his neighborhood, Stockbridge, to replace an oak.

While Mays and Office Manager Sonny Whyte expressed concerns about oak tree damage to sidewalks and water and sewer lines, Mays acknowledged that it happens inconsistently. Chesney countered that Hillsborough County had recently leveled and replaced raised and buckled sidewalks when resurfacing his neighborhood roads and asked that the palm be removed.

Supervisors also passed a motion asking staff to get a proposal from Landscape Architect Neale Stralow to devise a street tree plan to ensure aesthetic consistency and address safety concerns about placing the right tree in the right space. While Jim Mills suggested staff might consider removing the Japenese Blueberry from Village Green since a tree was not required by the county to be planted there, he concluded to staff, “You guys decide.”

Supervisors adjourned at 5:38 p.m.

In other actions:

Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated he had resolved a Greens resident’s concerns about the treatment of guests by the gatehouse guard – and the resident who called to complain to the guard about it – after the guests arrived at the gate intoxicated.

New Westchase Town Center Property Manager Orestes Lavassas introduced himself to supervisors and requested that staff consider landscape improvements for an area on the west side of the property along Belgrave Drive. Field Supervisor Doug Mays committed to meeting Lavassas on the property to identify district-owned and maintained parcels and discuss landscaping enhancements.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 6, 2018

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Your Neighborhood Elections: Can You Still Get Your Proxy/Ballot In?

After discussing the neighborhood election process with association staff in September, WOW ran a detailed explanation that included a proxy deadline of Nov. 30, given to WOW by WCA staff. That deadline for the return of the proxies was repeated on the Westchase Community Association’s Facebook page on Nov. 28.

On Dec. 2, Association Manager Debbie Sainz emailed a clarification to WOW. “To clarify, the 11/30 deadline was meant to be a mail out date [for homeowners], not date of receipt. Since the postal service is busy this time of year a mailout date of the 30th would ensure receipt by us by the meeting date. We have ALWAYS accepted votes up to the day of the meeting. Nothing has changed in the election process. We would never tell someone we would not accept votes after the 30th.”

Residents of the neighborhoods listed below can still submit their ballots/proxies up to the meeting dates listed below. Homeowners who have misplaced their ballot/proxy can stop by the WCA office, 10049 Parley Dr., to get another. Completed ballots can also be dropped off there.

The following neighborhoods will have their neighborhood biannual meetings at the date and time indicated.

Abbotsford: Dec. 3, 5 p.m.
Stamford: Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m.
The Bridges: Dec. 5, 5 p.m.
Woodbay: Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m.
The Greens: Dec. 5, 6 p.m.
Keswick Forest: Dec. 10, 5 p.m.
Wycliff: Dec. 10, 5:30 p.m.
Harbor Links/The Estates: Dec. 10, 6 p.m.
Glencliff: Dec. 12, 5 p.m.
The Shires: Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m.

Neighborhood Annual Meetings, during which the elections are conducted, are held at the WCA Offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

Sainz also clarified proper proxy handling. She stated in an email to WOW on Sunday, Dec. 2, that a resident attending his or her neighborhood biannual meeting can bring other residents’ ballots/proxies to the meeting provided the top line is filled out correctly identifying the attending resident as the proxy. This will allow the person carrying the ballots to cast them at the meeting as indicated on the ballots/proxies.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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CDD Board Sees Election of Two Supervisors

The Nov. 6 General Election did more than elect a governor, senator and county commissioners.

Without an actual election, it formally established  the occupants of two of five seats on the Westchase Community Development District.

The seats of former CDD Supervisor Barbara Griffith and Supervisor Greg Chesney were on the ballot. Chesney, a resident of The Bridges and the longest serving supervisor on the board, was automatically reelected to new four-year term on the district when no one filed to run against him by the June deadline.

Meanwhile, Griffith elected not to run again. Kingsford’s Forrest Baumhover, a former director on the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors and Kingsford’s VM, was also automatically elected to Griffith’s seat when no one else filed to run for it.

Responding to his automatic election, Chesney said, “I’m proud to serve the Westchase community. Whether it’s starting a Scout troop or serving on one of our many boards, I encourage everyone to get involved.”

As for his goals, Chesney stated, “During my time on the board, I have continuously advocated, cost effectively, improving the infrastructure available. I want to keep this up. We are exploring the creation of our own nursery, the development of a community garden and adding to our recreation facilities.”

Asked for his reaction to his election and his goals, Baumhover stated, “ I would say that I’m honored to serve on the board of Westchase CDD supervisors, on behalf of our community.  My priority is simply to keep myself as informed as possible about the pertinent issues, and to work in an open, collaborative manner to add long-term value to the Westchase community and its residents.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Village Voices: Elections, Holiday Parties and Budgets

The Bridges

Happy holidays!

Whatever you are celebrating, have a very happy, merry, wonderful winter holiday season.

Our annual meeting is at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the WCA office at 10049 Parley Drive in West Park Village. If you have not yet returned your proxy card, please drop it off at the WCA office or bring it to the meeting. Please attend the meeting to ask any questions you have of your voting member or you are always welcome to contact me directly at bridgesvm@gmail.com.

Depending on the outcome of the VM election, this may be my last Bridges update. Thank you all for being such good neighbors over the years. It has been a pleasure to be your voting member. I wish the best for you all this holiday season and in the new year ahead.

By Cynde Mercer, VM of The Bridges

The Vineyards

Greetings, Vineyards residents! We hope you enjoyed the Halloween party! A huge thank you to the members of the Social Committee for their time and effort!

Looking ahead, the Vineyards will host a Holiday Party on Saturday, Dec. 8. More information will be posted on our Vineyards Facebook page, sent via email and posted on our website.

Our landscaping project along the Wild Meadow/Chilmark/Sierra Vista common areas has been completed. If you haven’t walked around the neighborhood, now is a great time to check it out! The Vineyards Board would like to thank the

Landscaping Committee for all their hard work in planning and designing this project.

At the annual budget adoption meeting, board members voted to decrease monthly dues for 2019. The motion passed unanimously. Coupon booklets were mailed out and you should have received them in mid-November.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email vineyardshelp@yahoo.com.

Happy holidays and happy New Year!

By Nicole Robertson, Vineyards HOA Secretary

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Davidsen Deputy’s Horrifying Story Captured in Movie

Hillsborough County Master Deputy Lisa Nolan works every day to keep the students at Davidsen Middle School safe, but her career was sparked by her run-in with a serial killer.

In her two years as the school’s community resource officer, she’s become a well loved and respected member of the community. This fall The Lifetime Movie Network aired a movie about a horrific time in her life that she says was one of factors that made her decide to go into law enforcement. Believe Me: The Lisa McVey Story follows the events surrounding Nolan’s kidnapping when she was a teenager by a serial killer. It relates how she not only survived but was able to help police catch her kidnapper, Robert Joe Long, who later pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and to murdering eight women.

“The deciding factor in becoming a police officer was not only being a victim of a notorious serial killer but I fell prey to childhood abuse, physical, mental, emotional and sexual beginning at the age of 2. I was in and out of foster homes from the ages of 2 to 7 . . . My mother was abusive, alcoholic and a drug addict.  My childhood was horrendous, with living on the streets of Tampa, to living in cars and shelters . . . I vowed after my abduction and my childhood abuse, I would go into a field to help children, thus the only career I could think of was Law Enforcement,” said Nolan. “I have been with HCSO now for 19 years and still love my job. Before that, I was in the County’s Parks and Recreation Department for 5 years working with children. I will soon be celebrating my 25th year with the county.”

Nolan worked as the Producer Consultant on the movie and was on set in Canada for four days during filming to provide input and advice. She was able to have a screening of the movie for friends and family at the Villagio Theatre, where Long was arrested. “I’d like to call that poetic justice,” said Nolan.

Believe Me: The Lisa McVey Story can be purchased on Amazon and is available On Demand through some local cable services.

By Marcy Sanford

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Westchase Holiday Market is Dec. 9

Come be a part of the community event you won’t want to miss!

The ninth annual Westchase Holiday Market will be held on Sunday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Westchase Golf Club. Shopping, food, music, face painting, Santa, and incredible raffles are yours to discover! All proceeds from special raffles and silent auctions will be donated directly to Autism Speaks.

Last year’s market raised over $5,000 for this great charity.

There’s something for everyone at the market. Carefully curated vendors ensure this is the perfect place to pick up incredible one-of-a-kind gifts, and dazzling, unique stocking stuffers. Original paintings, photography, drawing, jewelry and glassware, along with handmade craft items such as mason jar art, crochet, clothing, and woodworking are among the many types of artwork that you can expect to find—not to mention food, beauty and book vendors.

For the little ones, Santa arrives to hear wish lists and pose for pictures from 1-4 p.m. Creative face painters will be on hand from 12-4 p.m. “Best of Show,” first and second juried prizes will be judged and awarded throughout the day. Grab a tasty bite from the grill at the beautiful Westchase Golf Club while listening to fabulous holiday music, including Rockatar (from 1-3 p.m.), Catherine Kletchka, Cason Joyner, and more!

Raffles and silent auctions this year will include incredible prizes from many participating artists, as well as generous donations from the Glazer Children’s Museum, Zoo Tampa, Clearwater Aquarium, Tampa Bay Rays, C & C Painting, The Grind, Toronto Blue Jays, Russo’s NY Pizzeria, and Ruth Eckerd Hall, to name only a few!

We offer a special thank you to our Title Sponsor, Anne Hart of Florida Executive Realty, and our Gold Sponsor, Global Imaging Systems.

Join us as we ring in the holiday season! For more information, check out our website: http://www.westchaseholidaymarket.com

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By Jennifer Joyner

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Santa Returns to Westchase Dec. 8

He wants your smiles. He wants your letters!

Yes, Santa Claus is coming to your neighborhood on his vintage firetruck to visit your block parties and high-five the kids. Perhaps your village or organization would like to join the fun and enter your float this year?

Santa’s “Pre-Flight” Parade returns to Westchase on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 2-8 p.m. The event culminates in the annual Tree Lighting ceremony on Montague Street in West Park Village upon Santa’s arrival at approximately 8 p.m. Holiday music and activities including Davidson middle school’s jazz band and orchestra will start in West Park Village Town Center at approximately 6 p.m.

WOW is proud to help make this event possible through a donation of $5,000 to cover its costs.

Help Santa Help Others

Most important, Santa wants your help! To help make his visit to Westchase extra special, he hopes you will be Santa Claus to some less fortunate kids. Along his parade route Santa will collect unwrapped gifts for the Town and Country Boys and Girls Club to be donated to many families in need of assistance this holiday season. Santa and his helpers hope to collect new and unwrapped toys, games, books, bikes and batteries of all sizes.

Each year Santa parades through Westchase in an event organized by Dan and Brandon O’Brien, Ralph Caputo, Santa and other volunteers from the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF). Since 2004 The WCF, a volunteer organization of Westchase residents, has provided over $500,000 to assist families with seriously ill children and families faced with tragedies. Residents interested in participating in the parade by putting together a float can still contact parade organizers Ralph Caputo at thecaputos@yahoo.com or Brandon O’Brien at brandono850@gmail.com.

Tracking Santa

Residents hoping to track Santa’s progress through Westchase can do so through their smartphones and computers. Simply save the following link, http://glympse.com/!westchasesanta to yo,ur phone or your computer and click on it at noon on Saturday, Dec. 8.

While you are encouraged to click on the link at noon, the cursor marking Santa’s whereabouts won’t become active until roughly 2 p.m., the parade’s official start time.

In Case of Inclement Weather

The parade has been fortunate to have great weather greet Santa since its beginning in 2004. In the event of inclement weather, the parade will be rescheduled to Saturday, Dec. 15. Please follow WOW’s Facebook group, Westchase Neighborhood News (the version of the group with over 6,000 residents) for any weather announcement on the day of the parade.

Parade Route

Where will Santa’s firetruck and his parade travel?

Check the street map running with this article. The highlighted roads in red indicate the parade route. The length of the route and time it takes Santa to travel it makes it very difficult to add roads.

From experience, parade staff have also learned that certain roads, particularly narrow ones in West Park Village with their street parking, make it nearly impossible for the parade to pass.

Residents are encouraged to follow the Santa tracker and greet Santa on the nearest road as he passes.

All residents are invited to attend the tree lighting in West Park Village at approximately 8 p.m. There Santa will get down from the truck, light the tree and greet the families who are gathered.

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Public Notice of Guideline Changes

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

VMs will also consider adopting the color palettes for Buildings 6 and 7 of The Reserve of WPV, now under construction in West Park Village. A specific description of the proposed color palettes and sample colors can be viewed by contacting Association Manager Debbie Sainz at manager@westchasewca.com.

VMs gave the The Reserve of WPV’s paint palette guideline its first of two required reviews and affirmative votes at their November meeting.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Glencliff Park Playground Sees Closure Dec. 3-7

The Westchase Community Development District (CDD), which owns and maintains Westchase parks, has announced a temporary closure of Glencliff Park’s playground from Dec. 3-7.

According to Office Manager Sonny Whyte, the closure is needed to install a new slide on the playground equipment at the park. Previous plans to install the slide had to be cancelled due to delays in the slide’s manufacture and delivery.

During the closure, Westchase’s remaining playgrounds at Baybridge Park in The Bridges and the West Park Village tot playground on Montague Street will remain open.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Nov. 28, 2018

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VMs Hear TECO Presentation on Street Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Nov. 15, 2018

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Wizard Walk Raises $83,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important November Events

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

By Clare Himes

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Flying Fitness

Have you heard of Aerial Yoga?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Shannon Thigpen

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

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Crime in 33626: September 2018

33626 Crime: September

Drugs/Narcotics

9/1

10000 Montague St.

Drug Paraphernalia

9/1

10000 Montague St.

Warrant in County

9/1

10800 Preservation View Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/4

14600 Corkwood Dr.

Accidental Injury

9/4

11500 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

9/4

9600 Gretna Green Dr.

Battery on Elderly—Simple

9/4

8900 Citrus Vlg Dr.

Battery—Simple

9/5

13900 Lynmar Blvd.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/5

11900 Dietz Dr.

Battery—Simple

9/6

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Burglary Business/Forced

9/6

10400 Sheldon Rd.

Warrant in County

9/6

13300 Kearney Wy.

Battery—Simple

9/6

9900 Montague St.

Harassing/Obscene

9/9

12800 Stanwyck Cr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

9/11

10500 Castleford Wy.

Criminal Mischief Felony

9/13

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Harassing/Obscene

9/13

9800 Brompton Dr.

Grand Theft—All Other

9/13

10300 Abbotsford Dr.

Warrant in County

9/13

9800 Meadow Field Cr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/14

11300 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Health/Safety

9/14

9300 Lakechase Island Wy.

Grand Theft—All Other

9/17

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Theft from A Building

9/17

9100 Carolina Wren Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

9/18

10700 Spring Mountain Pl.

DUI

9/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant out of County

9/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery—Simple

9/20

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

9/21

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/21

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Fire Investigation

9/25

13100 Race Track Rd.

Theft of Bicycle

9/25

9700 Westchase Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

9/25

10300 Countryway Blvd.

Petit Theft—All Other

9/26

10000 Parley Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/26

9600 Magnolia Blossom Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/27

12500 Bronco Dr.

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MOMS Club of Westchase Plans Fall Fun

Happy fall y’all!

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

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

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

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

By Kelly Walton

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Now You Can Track Your Mail

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

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

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

By Keith Heinemann

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Davidsen Seeks Great American Teach-In Volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important November Dates

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

By Carolyn Reynolds

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New WCA Director Aims to Bridge Divide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Stephens

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Hello, Dali!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of The Dali Museum.

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Positano’s is Perfection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Melanie Casey

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Just Say Yes

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

I attended my first boy band concert.

God can call me home now.

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

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

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

Yes, South Korea.

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

So Bee began studying Korean.

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

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

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

So she said it in Korean.

And then she signed up for hip hop dance lessons.

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

At first we rolled our eyes.

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

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

Plus Bee, an introvert, bamboozled me.

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

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

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

Me: How was your day?

Bee: Fine.

Me: Could you perhaps expound upon that?

Bee: My day was medium fine.

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

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

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

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

It was the most Bee had uttered in a week.

“Buy them,” I said.

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

And then she burst into tears.

Which I think meant she was happy.

Teens are confusing that way.

Hey, don’t judge. 

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

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

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

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

A two hour wait with no fast passes.

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

Bee’s face fell.

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

Then we met my mom for lunch.

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

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

Bee’s eyes went wide.

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

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

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

“I’m napping because you’re tired.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fifty-seven dollars,” she said.

My eyes went wide.

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

“God bless America,” I said.

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

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

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

And shaking our Army Bombs.

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

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

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

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

My eyes went wide. “You’re sad?!”

“I think I have Post Event Depression.”

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

“Where to?” I nudged.

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

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

“It’s not real,” Bee said.

I nodded. “Then where to?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded.

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

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

The thousand dollar smile again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slipping on her Koala jacket, she shed her shyness.

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Meet Bo!

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

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Westchase Santa Parade Dec. 8

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

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

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

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

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

By Dan O’Brien

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

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

Photo courtesy of Family Tree Photography.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Board Deadlocks on Swim Team Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait responded, “What is her question?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Nov. 10, 2018

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CDD Addresses Tornado Damage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other actions:

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Nov. 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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When Do You Have to File a Modifications Application?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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A Month to Give Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

We feed thousands of needy families throughout Tampa Bay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the list of needed items.

Business Matchers

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

Who is participating?

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

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

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

How to Help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metropolitan Ministries

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

Who Is Matching Your Donation?

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photos by James Broome Photography

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WOW Visits Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

We thank the Creightons for sharing their adventures with WOW.

By Tim Creighton and Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Will Your Neighbors and You Win a Holiday Party?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck to all!

Want to Win?

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

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WCA Searching to Fill WOW Board Opening

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Alonso Baseball to Host Annual Golf Tournament

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

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

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

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

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By Les Young

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Election Dates

2018 Elections

Registration Deadlines

Mail Ballot Request Deadline

Early Voting

Election Day

General Election

Oct. 9

Oct. 31

Oct. 22-Nov. 4

Nov. 6

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Are You Fit to be a Freebooter?

Join them on Nov. 16 and find out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Eric Holt

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Public Notice of Guideline Changes

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

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

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

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

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Publix Diaper Baby a Familiar Face

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

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

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

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

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Public Invited to Sickles’ First Annual Fall Carnival

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

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

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

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

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

By Karen Ring

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Great West Chase Road Race Results Announced

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Oct. 29, 2018

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Glencliff Park Playground Closed Nov. 5-9

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Oct. 29, 2018

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

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

Road Closure

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

Lane Closures

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

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

Please read on for some tips on avoiding the closures.

West Park Village

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

The Fords and The Bridges

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

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

The Greens

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

Radcliffe

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

Neighborhoods off Countryway Boulevard

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

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

WOW Thanks Westchasers

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

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Oct. 14, 2018

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Seniors Celebrate World Smiley Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9 to 10 a.m., Westchase seniors are invited to meet at the Westchase McDonald’s Restaurant for coffee, breakfast, and friendly conversation. The coffee is free with any food purchase and the conversations are enjoyable. Grab your breakfast and join us -- you can’t miss us. We are the “older” but “young at heart” people laughing and having a good time.
Put Life In Your Years If you are a Westchase resident over 55 years old and looking to enjoy life, join the Westchase Seniors Group and add some fun to your life. To receive e-mails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address and phone number to westchase.seniors@gmail.com or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473). It only cost a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Saving TONS of Money

“Would you like to save some money today?”

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

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

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

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

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

No actual human required.

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

Bingo!

Found my wife’s Costco shopping list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He shrugged.

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

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

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

I finally maneuvered around them only to get jammed again.

Right up against an actual bathtub.

In Costco.

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

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

Whom I can embarrass even at great geographic distance.

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

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

OK, not a salesman.

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

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

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

He almost got me.

I almost stopped.

Not because I needed insoles.

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

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

OK, no.

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

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

“Maybe later,” I lied.

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

I glanced at my wife’s list.

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

Five stinking things.

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

And our dry goods at the Super Target.

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

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

Then I’m done.

Gloriously finished.

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

Free of the human madness.

I race forward.

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

“Wanna to save some money?”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Hiking Through Utah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By George Doster, Venture Crew 46 President

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile we congratulate Mark Dimitroff of Glencliff, whose correct fake ad guess was randomly selected by the fake ad gods. Mark will be taking his favorite speaker to a smart dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Cancer Survivors Invited to Livestrong at the Y

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Total Body Resistance Training

In the last decade suspension training has become very popular.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Shannon Thigpen

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

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A Hobby of Raising Her Hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Kimberly Wander

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Meet Rosie!

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

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A Speakeasy with Talkies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Melanie Casey

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Are You Ready for the Election?

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

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

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

The State’s Big Races

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consequential County Contests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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33626 Crime: August 2018

Fraud—Credit Card

8/3

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Battery—Simple

8/3

9700 Montague St.

Obstruct—Police (Non-Violent)

8/3

9700 Montague St.

Theft from a Vehicle

8/5

12400 Bristol Commons Cr.

DUI

8/5

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Battery—Simple

8/5

11000 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/6

10000 Seymour Wy.

Theft from a Vehicle

8/7

9800 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/7

11500 Carrie Marie Pl.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/8

13700 Antler Point Dr.

Battery—Simple

8/8

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

DUI

8/9

7900 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

8/9

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

DUI

8/10

Old Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Battery—Simple

8/11

9100 Lakechase Island Wy.

Battery—Simple

8/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Business/Forced

8/13

14400 Carlson Cr.

DUI

8/13

Sheldon Rd./Westwind Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/14

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Fraud—Other

8/14

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant in County

8/14

9300 Pontiac Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/15

9000 Breland Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

8/16

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery—Simple

8/19

Waterchase Blvd./Race Track Rd.

Warrant out of County

8/20

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/20

12900 Sheldon Rd.

Harassing/Obscene

8/20

11900 Congressional Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/22

10700 Preserve Lake Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

8/23

8800 Promise Dr.

Other Weapon Violations

8/24

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

8/25

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Burglary Residence/Forced

8/25

11900 Cypress Vista

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

8/26

9800 Bayboro Bridge Dr.

Battery—Simple

8/27

12700 Corral Rd.

Theft from a Vehicle

8/29

9400 Cavendish Dr.

Warrant in County

8/30

8800 Citrus Vlg Dr.

Warrant in County

8/31

11000 Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Residence/Forced

8/31

10300 Green Links Dr.

Petit Theft—All Other

8/31

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

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Tampa’s Haunted Places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious to do a little ghost hunting of your own?

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Westchase Mompreneur: Trina Ashour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Brie Gorecki

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

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MOMS Club of Westchase Kicks Off Autumn

September was a busy month for the MOMS Club.

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

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

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

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

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

By Kelly Walton

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Davidsen Middle School Begins New Year with a Roar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October Dates

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

By Carolyn Reynolds

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Real Estate Round Up: August 2018

Address

Sale
Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full
Baths

Half

Baths

Living
Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10607 Drayton Ct.

250,000

130

160.36

3

2

1

1,559

N

10002 Tate Ln.

262,000

10

180.44

3

2

1

1,452

N

9613 W Park Village Dr.

313,000

61

202.46

2

2

0

1,546

N

11842 Derbyshire Dr.

345,000

32

202.23

3

2

0

1,706

N

12006 Oaksbury Dr.

352,000

33

207.18

3

2

0

1,699

Y

10244 Woodford Bridge St.

360,000

52

166.44

4

2

1

2,163

Y

10601 Wild Meadow Way

360,000

119

162.09

3

2

1

2,221

N

12007 Oaksbury Dr.

375,000

60

194.20

3

2

0

1,931

Y

10121 Belgrave Rd.

385,500

6

220.29

3

2

0

1,750

N

9813 Woodbay Dr.

395,000

26

217.99

3

2

0

1,812

Y

9510 Greenpointe Dr.

419,500

77

192.17

3

2

0

2,183

Y

10218 Millport Dr.

420,000

0

158.91

4

3

0

2,643

Y

9801 Woodbay Dr.

429,000

4

194.56

4

3

0

2,205

N

9603 Greenpointe Dr.

446,000

3

204.31

3

2

0

2,183

Y

10326 Millport Dr.

450,000

24

172.41

4

3

0

2,610

Y

10502 Brentford Dr.

459,000

58

192.94

4

3

0

2,379

Y

10704 Ayrshire Dr.

460,000

14

186.08

4

3

0

2,472

Y

11912 Keating Dr.

505,000

3

204.79

4

3

0

2,466

Y

10031 Brompton Dr.

537,500

0

176.63

4

3

1

3,043

N

12113 Clear Harbor Dr.

620,000

43

217.85

4

3

0

2,846

Y

10005 Radcliffe Dr.

680,000

9

200.59

4

3

1

3,390

Y

10112 Radcliffe Dr.

693,000

7

222.40

4

3

0

3,116

Y

10535 Greensprings Dr.

695,000

10

199.31

4

3

0

3,487

Y

Highland Park

               

11606 Splendid Ln.

870,000

0

206.06

4

3

1

4,222

N

11510 Fountainhead Dr.

225,000

63

153.06

3

2

1

1,470

N

11544 Fountainhead Dr.

225,000

20

153.06

3

2

1

1,470

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11315 Minaret Dr.

523,000

3

170.08

4

2

1

3,075

Y

11608 Greensleeve Ave.

425,000

1

188.55

4

3

0

2,254

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14510 Pond Cypress Way

247,000

22

163.68

3

2

0

1,509

N

12517 Sparkleberry Rd.

260,350

4

170.16

3

2

0

1,530

Y

12516 Loquat Way

425,000

6

186.49

4

3

0

2,279

Y

14434 Pepperpine Dr.

289,750

134

157.30

3

2

0

1,842

N

14402 Pepperpine Dr.

354,000

18

196.45

3

2

0

1,802

Y

14823 Coral Berry Dr.

435,000

38

165.65

4

3

0

2,626

Y

Windsor Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11125 Windsor Place Cir.

239,900

37

142.54

2

2

1

1,683

N

Information Provided By Doug and Nancy Wood Of Smith & Associates

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VMs Address Guidelines, Committee Appointments and Sunshine Motion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Oct. 11, 2018

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November’s Ballot: Making Sense of the Constitutional Amendments

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

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

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

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

Amendment 1: Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption

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

Amendment 2: Limitations on Property Tax Assessments

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

Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

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

Amendment 4: Voting Restoration Amendment

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

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

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

Amendment 6: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amendment 10: State and Local Government Structure and Operation

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

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

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

Amendment 12: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers

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

Amendment 13: Ends Dog Racing

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Thanksgiving Food Drive Captains and Matching Contributions Needed

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

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

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

But we need your help to make it a success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

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