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

Holiday Decorating Contest Winners Glow

Westchase was certainly all aglow as competition for the 2014 Holiday Decorating Contest took place in December.

Topping the list are two newcomers to the winners’ circle, although their displays looked like veteran contest competitors. According to one judge, the top winners were all within a few points of one another. Scoring was based on four criteria: theme and design, creativity, effort and overall appeal.

West Park Village resident Debbie Chiaramonte took first place honors with her home at 10105 Parley Dr. The gingerbread and candy-themed décor is something she always wanted to do. “This year, we made it happen,” she said. Daughter Marissa Wilkins helped create the delectable display featuring giant lollipops, gumdrops, multicolored candies and gingerbread men.

Second place went to Bridges resident David Rojas, Jr., of 9946 Stockbridge Dr. His patriotic theme captured the eyes and hearts of this year’s judges. The Rojas display featured American flags, a camouflage clad Santa and a wish list for the patriots serving our country. With relatives serving in the military, Rojas said the sacrifices they made inspired him to honor current and past military personnel. “It’s a tribute to the troops,” he stated of his elaborate display.

Third place winners, Philip and Maria DeCampos of The Fords, are no strangers to the victory circle. With too many previous top three wins to count, Philip continues to take to the roof with lights and decorations that certainly set his house apart from any on his street. The newest addition to the multitude of inflatables at 10740 Tavistock Drive is a 15-foot Santa on a sleigh. “He is really, really tall,” DeCampos chuckled.

The DeCampos display also features a mailbox exclusively designated for letters to Santa, which are quick to receive a timely response.

Best Neighborhood award went to Bennington’s Talbot Place. “Believe in the magic of Christmas,” was the theme for this year’s winning assortment of holiday displays, appearing in each lawn along the street. The main orchestrator of the decorating effort is Charlotte Birck. “We call her Number One Elf,” said neighbor Amy McDermott.

Another neighbor, Mike Ingraham, is referred to as Number Two Elf as he had a big part in pulling it all together as well. “It has been a wonderful tradition that gives us much joy and sore muscles,” McDermott said. She added that her neighbors plan to donate the prize money awarded for a block party to the Wounded Warriors Foundation.

Congratulations to all our 2014 Holiday Decorating Contest winners! Thank you for making Westchase merry and bright!

Honorable Mentions

12102 Marblehead Dr.
12041 Wandsworth Dr.
10451 Green Links Dr.
11926 Derbyshire Dr. (Star Wars Theme)
10719 Ayrshire Dr.
10205 Talbot Pl.
12113 Glencliff Cir.
10448 Greendale Dr.

Other Notable Neighborhoods

Brentford
The Estates
The Shires
Seymour Way in West Park Village

By Lisa Stephens

COMMENTS

By William Burroughs on Thursday, December 18, 2014 @ 10:33am

The 9946 address does not exist in the Shires.  I believe this was our house since we are the only ones with a Star Wars Theme?  11926 Derbyshire Dr.

Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, January 2015: Resolutions, Assessments and Violations

Resolutions, resolutions, resolutions.

OK, this year I will lose all those extra pounds and will exercise (My doctor is a resident of Westchase and will say, “Yeah, right.”). I’ll eat right and be a better father, husband and person, etc.

Listen to yourself when you know you are saying the right things.

I sadly need to listen better to the little voice on my shoulder, the one with the guy dressed in white, not the one in red and black.

Our community offers incredible facilities and activities. For swimming we have two half-size Olympic pools and 10 tennis courts. We offer free use of all of them and very affordable quality programs and lessons. All of this costs only $319 a year. What a bargain!

Still we have residents who decide not to pay this little amount. At the end of the first year of non-payment, you could be on the hook for over $1,000. If you have any problems paying this amount or if you have not received the bill, contact our management office and we will help you. Please don’t ignore it. 

Many Westchase Voting Members and Westchase Community Association (WCA) Directors have been asking for more strict inspections within our community. During the past year we have been increasing violations and some months we have issued between 400 and 600. Among them are dirty driveways and sidewalks, discolored mailboxes, discolored homes, dirty and/or discolored roofs, weeds, other landscape issues, and more. 

Our community is over 20-years-old and it looks incredible because we keep up our properties. If you receive a violation, it is not personal. Our management team is doing their job. If you need to talk with them and ask extra time or to tell them you already took care of it, please call the office. They are friendly and eager to help. There is no need to let it get to the Covenants Committee process to act.

Trust me. Our management team is friendly and loves to help our residents.

Have a great year!

By Joaquin Arrillaga

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA’s Dec. 12 Movie in The Park is Prancer

On Friday, Dec. 12, Westchase’s free family movies in the park return! Bring chairs, blankets and snacks to the West Park Village Town Center Green on Montague Street. The movies begin at dusk (Don’t forget your insect repellant!). December’s movie is Prancer (G).

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Who Wants to Track Santa on Saturday?

This Saturday, Dec. 13, Santa returns to Westchase in Santa’s Pre-Flight Parade. Details of the parade and Santa’s route are contained in this month’s WOW. This year residents who wish to track Santa throughout the day can do so quite easily…

While the hardcopy WOW encourages residents to send a text with their phone numbers to parade organizers to receive a link, organizers subsequently developed an easier way to track your favorite elf. Simply save the following link to your phone or your computer and click on it at noon on Saturday, Dec. 13: http://glympse.com/!westchasesanta

Residents are encouraged to share the link with their neighbors. 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.

The parade is annually organized by the Westchase Charitable Foundation, a volunteer organization of Westchase residents who work to improve the quality of life in the community by raising funds to assist families with seriously ill children and families faced with tragedies. WOW is the parade’s presenting sponsor and underwrites the major costs for the event.

Residents who come out to greet Santa’s parade are asked to bring at least one unwrapped gift. They will be given to Michelle’s Kids, which helps less fortunate children to have a wonderful Christmas.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Greens Residents Flock to CDD Meeting to Keep Manned Gatehouse

The Dec. 2 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw dozens of Greens residents in attendance to express support for keeping their gatehouse manned around the clock.

More than 40 squeezed into the foyer and meeting room of the Westchase Community Association’s Parley Drive offices, where the meeting was held. More stood outside the door.

All appeared after a call to action from Greens VM Jerry Pappa, who informed Greens residents that the CDD rejected his poll results on the gatehouse and had required residents to attend the meeting to weigh in. [See related story below.]

CDD Mark Ragusa began the meeting by addressing some misconceptions.

Faced with an increase of 87 cents an hour to provide health insurance coverage to gatehouse employees from Securitas, The Greens security company, CDD supervisors decided in November to weigh if Greens homeowners preferred paying the increase in order to maintain existing coverage by current employees. An additional option, pitched by Securitas, would have lowered costs by trimming 32 hours of manned coverage. That approach would have eliminated the eight-hour overnight shifts Sundays through Wednesdays and added a tele-entry system to remotely handle visitors. The CDD Board asked WOW to run an article in November announcing the options and requesting Greens residents communicate their preferences to supervisors.

Pappa subsequently polled his residents in an e-mail that offered the two options. He later reported to CDD supervisors that poll results showed overwhelming Greens support for maintaining a fully manned gatehouse.

“I have received probably 60 e-mails and received five or six phone calls on the issue,” said Ragusa.

The chair began by discussing his inability, under the Florida Sunshine Law, to communicate about the issue with other supervisors outside of publicly noticed meetings. “This is not a homeowners association.”

Ragusa, echoed by Supervisor Bob Argus, also emphasized that the remote coverage option was not a plan hatched by supervisors but an option presented by Securitas.

“It is my suggestion, based on resident input…that there is no interest in going forward with the Securitas unmanned proposal,” Ragusa said. He added, “What we needed to improve upon is the way we communicated with the community.”

Ragusa noted that in recent years the district had passed a number of different budgets and made some significant purchases. “This was the one issue that drew the most notice and input.” He said of the gatehouse issue. “You guys responded in droves. You were really passionate.”

Ragusa also stated the increase, according to Securitas, was needed to insure they kept full-time guards at the gate rather than rely on part-timers with higher turnover. “I’ve been extremely impressed with the people in that guard gate,” he stated, “that’s what I heard from people.”

The increase, Severn Trent’s Alan Baldwin stated, would likely be about $14-15 annually per Greens home. It comes with a two year price guarantee. Severn Trent is the CDD’s management company.

Ragusa added, however, that coverage of the matter had prompted a Westchase resident who is working for GS4, another security company, to offer a cheaper proposal to man the Greens gatehouse around the clock. “That proposal is roughly $1,135 less than our current budget.”

When a Greens resident inquired how the service of the new company would differ from the current one, Ragusa responded, “I don’t know.”

Speaking, Pappa stated while he thought the district’s decision to keep the gatehouse manned overnight was great, he offered a caveat and encouraged consideration of the GS4 proposal. “I believe the competition is good.” Pappa also took issue with Ragusa’s calculated savings. “There is an annual savings of $9,000.”

CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney stated he only recently received the proposal while he was on vacation and Baldwin had not yet had the chance to run a financial analysis to determine cost differences accurately.

Ragusa added, “I’m hearing people are willing to pay 87 cents more to keep the current vendor.”

Chesney suggested the board accept Securitas’ proposed increase and then consider the alternate bid once it had been properly reviewed.

Stating there was obviously a lot of miscommunication on the matter, Village Green Michael Turnbull stated, “It is worth a cup of coffee or two to be safe.” He added, “We know our guards. They know us.”

Turnbull concluded, “We want to see the savings. But absolutely – safety first.”

The Greens crowd broke into applause.

After other comments, supervisors voted unanimously to accept the Securitas increase and keep the gatehouse manned overnight. Ragusa concluded the matter with a commitment about future gatehouse security business. “The residents will be given the opportunity to weigh in on whether it should be bid out.”

Closing major action, supervisors voted unanimously to finalize a contract with Stantec Senior Project Manager Neale Stralow to compile a parks master plan and a proposal for bringing Baybridge and Glencliff Parks’ playgrounds into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The design work, to be completed within 90 days, was set not to exceed $19,500.

In other matters:

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Kris Gundersen, who supervises the district’s off-duty deputy patrol, spoke briefly with supervisors about a deputy who recently told Glencliff residents that she did not have the power to enforce park rules when a group of park visitors became noisy and played amplified, offensive music. Under the the district agreement with the HCSO, however, deputies do have enforcement powers. “I apologize for that,” said Gundersen. “That shouldn’t have happened.”

Gundersen said he would communicate with deputies about the matter and CDD Attorney Erin Larrinaga committed to continuing her discussions with the HCSO’s legal team.

Supervisors heard from a Greenpointe resident about damage a broken street sewer was doing to his driveway apron. In The Greens, a gated community, the CDD owns the right of way and storm-water system. The right of way includes the sidewalks in front of residents’ homes and their driveway aprons. The Greenpointe resident, however, expressed concern that the district’s repair of the storm sewer and driveway apron would cause the newer concrete not to match the rest of the driveway. He asked for the district’s cooperation in ensuring aesthetic continuity. Supervisors requested he return in January with a formal proposal.

Following November’s general election, supervisors reconstituted their officers, again unanimously naming Ragusa the district chair and Chesney the vice chair.

Supervisors voted 4-1 to award their annual year-end holiday staff bonuses, set by a formula determined by the length of their employment. Chesney was the sole vote against, stating he felt the field maintenance staff should receive a larger bonus than proposed and Field Manager Doug Mays and Office Administrator Sonny Whyte a lower one.

Supervisors took no action on a staff proposal to pay a holiday decorating company to light the four large palm trees adjacent to the West Park Village bell tower. After Greens resident Mary Young suggested supervisors explore recognizing other holidays in their decorating, Ragusa requested that staff discuss the idea with the company they hire to erect the district’s current decorations.

Field Supervisor Doug Mays committed to following up with the Westchase Golf Course regarding damage to an entrance monument and stop sign, which went missing following a recent accident at the course’s entrance.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Misunderstanding or Miscommunication?

It was the largest showing of agitated residents at a community meeting in recent memory.

And it left Westchase Community Development District Supervisors (CDD) scratching their heads.

The Dec. 2 meeting of the Westchase CDD, held in the small community meeting room in the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) offices on Parley Drive, filled to overflowing by 4 p.m. While at least 40 Greens residents could be seen and counted in the meeting room and building entrance, more stood outside the door. Many had left work early to attend, some even bringing children along.

They were rallied by Greens Voting Member Gerald (Jerry) Pappa, who sent a number of e-mails to Greens homeowners describing a proposal to possibly change security coverage at the Greens gatehouse. Faced with an increase of 87 cents an hour to provide health insurance coverage to gatehouse employees from Securitas, CDD supervisors wished to weigh if Greens homeowners preferred paying the increase in order to maintain existing coverage by current employees. An additional option, pitched by Securitas, would have lowered costs by trimming 32 hours of manned coverage. That approach would have eliminated the eight-hour overnight shifts Sundays through Wednesdays and added a tele-entry system to remotely handle visitors. The CDD Board asked WOW to run an article announcing the options and requesting Greens residents communicate their preferences to supervisors.

Pappa subsequently polled his residents in an e-mail that offered two options. One option: “Do you want to keep the Greens Gatehouse manned 24/7 [at] a proposed  increased cost that will be assessed in your 2015 tax assessments by roughly $18.10 per year per household?” (Pappa’s estimate of $18.10 was taken from WOW’s article; the CDD clarified at the Dec. 2 meeting that the actual cost would probably be just under $15 per home annually.)

Pappa’s second option was, “Or do you want to eliminate having the Greens Gatehouse manned 24/7, i.e., Sunday through Wednesdays, thus reducing the cost by roughly $40.80 per year per household.”

Pappa later reported to CDD supervisors that of the 182 residents responding to his e-mail poll, all but three voted to keep the gatehouse fully manned around the clock.

When Pappa shared the poll with CDD Chair Ragusa, Ragusa offered his thanks via e-mail and added about the poll questions, “What I did not see is a detailed explanation for what hours would not be covered by a manned guardhouse.  As you know, the proposal is to eliminate the third shift on Sunday through Wednesday evenings.  These eight (8) hour shifts run from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Your second question is not clear and I wonder if the exact hours would make a difference.” 

Pappa responded, “The residents want the gatehouse manned 24/7 at the proposed added cost, period…no ands or ifs about it…WE have the heartbeat of this community, and they want no disruption to 24/7 manned service.” He concluded, “If you intend on doing anything but maintaining 24/7 manned service in the Greens Gatehouse, I want to know ASAP.”

“Again, thank you for your input,” Ragusa responded. “I do not know what the supervisors are going to do at the December meeting.  I am sure they will hear lots of input from residents.  You are welcome and encouraged to attend and participate in the resident input portion of the discussion.”

The Westchase CDD is an independent, quasi-governmental agency that is not part of the Westchase Community Association (WCA). Under Florida Sunshine Law, supervisors may not discuss any matters under consideration among themselves outside of a publicly noticed meeting. Thus, the earliest CDD supervisors could discuss or collectively consider Greens’ residents input was at the Dec. 2 meeting.

Five hours after Ragusa’s e-mail, Pappa sent an e-mail to his Greens e-mail distribution list. “I have some very disturbing news to report to each and every homeowner living in both The Greens and Village Green. After the Voting Member of The Village Green and I conducted a very extensive survey with regards to whether our residents want to maintain staffing The Greens Gatehouse 24/7 with security guards, and subsequently reported the results of the survey to The CDD today, I was told by The CDD that they will not accept our survey as the direction that the residents of The Village Green and The Greens want to take.”

Pappa continued, “While they requested the survey for direction, and we complied, they now feel it necessary to inconvenience and insult homeowners of both the Greens and Village Green by requesting attendance at their Tuesday December 2, 2014 meeting.”

Pappa closed by encouraging all residents to attend the meeting.

CDD supervisors were taken by surprise by the subsequent deluge of e-mails from Greens residents asking why they had to take time off from work to attend the meeting, beginning at 4 p.m., rather than letting them weigh in via poll or e-mail.

At the Dec. 2 session, CDD supervisors voted unanimously to keep the Greens gatehouse manned around the clock.

When contacted by WOW, all five supervisors stated they had not told anyone they would not respect the Greens’ poll results. They also stated they had never insisted residents had to attend the meeting to be heard. Supervisors Bob Argus, Brian Ross and Brian Zeigler stated Pappa had not discussed the matter with them at all by e-mail or phone.

Providing the string of e-mail messages he had exchanged with Pappa, Ragusa stated via e-mail, “This Supervisor never told the VM that the poll results were unacceptable to the CDD. This Supervisor merely asked what information was conveyed and what question(s) was asked to gauge the results.  I wanted to make sure the results were based on accurate information. I also wanted to see if both issues were presented to the residents.”

When WOW asked Pappa what exchange led him to draw the conclusions that CDD supervisors had rejected his poll and were instead insisting residents attend the meeting to  weigh in, he responded, “This is all water under the bridge, and it stems from Mark not keeping in touch with [Village Green VM Bobbi Pitcher] and I….We believe the residents of both the Village Green and the Greens have made their intentions known clearly.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

County Administrator Visits Westchase Dec. 4 to Talk Transportation

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill will appear at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. to discuss the county’s new approach to addressing its long-term transportation needs. Merrill will address the topic “Transportation for Economic Development Comprehensive Mobility Proposal Initiative.” All residents are invited to attend to share their questions and comments. For further information contact Government Affairs Committee Chair Joe Odda at joeodda@hotmail.com or 391-5706.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

“Virtual Library” a Fantastic Alternative to Google for Research

If your children resemble mine, when given a research assignment, their first response is to type their subjects into Google’s search bar.

Then they begin aimlessly scrolling through hundreds of Web sites and randomly clicking on them to obtain the facts needed for their research paper. Not every Web site is the best source of information for our K-12 students, however, and some sites are even laden with harmful malware.

Hillsborough County Public Schools offers a much better alternative to the Google search – the Virtual Library! The Virtual Library is free for every student in Hillsborough County. You can access several Gale Databases, and World Book Online, where you will discover thousands of reliable, credible, and current academic journal articles, videos, news reports, and numerous age-appropriate Web site links on unlimited subjects. This is a safe place for students to search for research topic information on the Web and it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition to the Gale databases and World Book, you also have access to two online libraries, which include MyOn and Axis 360. Many students used MyOn in elementary school, but there are hundreds of eBooks on the middle school level as well. Axis 360 is truly a “virtual library,” where students can check out their favorite titles to read on their own personal mobile devices any time of day for free! EBooks can be checked out for two weeks at a time, and they will automatically be removed from their device at the end of their checkout period. Please click on the Axis 360 directions button on any virtual library page for setup directions. To access one of the virtual library collections go to: http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/list/library-media-services/resources/69-266/ or access the Davidsen Middle School homepage and click on the Media Center tab to locate the Virtual Library link.

Give the Virtual Library a try. Remember that it is always free, safe and available. For information on usernames and passwords, please contact Mrs. Supple at Davidsen Middle School’s Media Center.

By Merle Supple, Media Specialist, Davidsen Middle School

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Programs at the UTB Library, December 2014

FAMILY PROGRAMS

Toddler Time (Ages 2-3 with caregiver): Mon, Dec 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, at 10:15 a.m.; Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 10:15 a.m.; Wed, Dec 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, at 11 a.m.

Story Time (Ages 3-5): Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 11 a.m.

Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 1:15 p.m.; Wed, Dec 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31at 1:15 p.m.

Wee Artists: Thu, Dec 4, 11 and 18, at 1:15 p.m.

Silly Sam the Music Man: Sat, Dec 6, at 2:30 p.m.

  • Dance, sing and play to holiday songs.

LEGO Block Party: Mon, Dec 15, at 3:30 p.m.

Winter Tales: Wed, Dec 17, at 3:30 p.m.

  • Join us for a puppet show telling three stories.

CoderDojo: Teaching Kids to Code: Sat, Dec 27, at 11:30 a.m.

TEEN PROGRAMS

Teen Advisory Board: Tue, Dec 2 and 16, at 4:30 p.m.

ADULT PROGRAMS

Job Support Group: Tue, Dec 2, at 10:30 a.m.

Book Discussion: Thu, Dec 4, at 6:30 p.m.

  • Join us to discuss A Curious Man by Neal Thompson.

Tai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, Dec 4 and 11, at 1:30 p.m.

Sahaja Meditation: Sat, Dec 6, 13, 20 and 27, at 10:30 a.m.

UTB Library Art Gallery Opening: Thu, Dec 11, at 6 p.m.

  • Join us for the opening of the library’s new art gallery, featuring work of local artists. Funding for the gallery was provided by WOW.

Book Discussion: Mon, Dec 15, at 11 a.m.

  • Join us to discuss The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

Family Center on Deafness Telephone Distribution: Fri, Dec 12, at 10 a.m.

Computer Classes:   

Tech Boulevard: Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 2:30 p.m.

  • Ongoing training in computer and software basics.

Microsoft Excel–Introduction: Tue, Dec 2, at 6:30 p.m.

Microsoft Excel–Basic Calculations: Tue, Dec 9, at 6:30 p.m.

Facebook: Tue, Dec 16, at 6:30 p.m.

Computer Tutor: Tue, Dec 30, at 6:30 p.m.

LIBRARY HOURS

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

Holiday Hours: The library is closed on Thu and Fri, Dec. 25-26, in observance of Christmas and Jan. 1 in observance of New Year’s Day. The library will close at 6 p.m. on Mon-Wed, Dec. 22-24, and Wed, Dec. 31.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Events Calendar, December 2014

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

TAMPA’S DOWNTOWN ON ICE
Date: Daily through Jan. 4
Time: see Web site for rink hours
Price: $10 per person (includes skates)
Location: Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa
For more information: http://www.tampasdowntownonice.com/
Ages: All

Who says Floridians can’t enjoy a little winter fun, too? Head to Curtis Hixon Park and enjoy outdoor skating in the park! Admission cost covers a 90-minute skating session and skate rental.

HOLIDAYS AT THE VILLAGE
Date: Wednesdays through Sundays, through Jan. 4
Time: Wednesdays to Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
Location: Heritage Village, Largo
Price: Free
For more information: http://www.pinellascounty.org/Heritage
Ages: All

Share the holiday season at Pinellas County’s Heritage Village, enchanting visitors to this 21-acre living history museum. Historical houses will be decorated true to their time period, locality and lifestyle, from an elaborately decorated Victorian home to a simply adorned 1852 log cabin.  

HOLIDAY CLASSIC MOVIE SERIES
Date: Friday through Sunday, through Dec. 28
Time: See Web site for show times
Location: Tampa Theatre, Downtown Tampa
Price: $10, $8 members/children
For more information: http://tampatheatre.org/
Ages: All

During the month of December, enjoy select holiday classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” with special pre-show festivities.

HARBOR ART & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
Date: Sat, Dec. 6 and Sun, Dec. 7
Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (until 4 p.m. Sun.)
Location: Florida Ave., Downtown Palm Harbor
Price: $3 per person or 2 for $5; Children 12 and under Free
For more information: http://www.palmharborcc.org
Ages: All

There is something for everyone at this Fine Art Festival. Enjoy a food from local vendors and musical performances while taking in the Juried Art Show. There will also be activities to keep the little ones entertained.

WINTER BLAST
Date: Saturday, Dec. 6
Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Location: 6001 Webb Rd., Tampa
Price: Free
Ages: All ages

Bring the family and “chill out” at this winter wonderland festival hosted by Tampa Community Hospital. The festival will feature ice sculptures, snow and sledding, animated characters, food, music, fun and games. The public is invited to come and meet the staff, which plans to offer a warm welcome at this chilly event.

WESTCHASE SUNDAY MORNING MARKET
Date: Sundays, Dec. 7-28
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Westchase Town Center
Ages: All

Stock up on all of your favorite organic produce, cheese and baked goods at this weekly market. The road will be blocked off between Tijuana Flats and Burger 21 to make way for up to 40 vendors. In addition to food, there will also be handmade soaps, all natural pet snacks and allergen-free cosmetics.

MOVIES IN THE PARK
Date: Fri, Dec. 12
Time: Dusk
Price: Free
Location: West Park Village Town Center Green on Montague Street
For more information: http://westchasewca.com/
Ages: All

Westchase’s free family movies in the park continue. Movies start at sundown. Bring chairs and blankets and settle in for a great movie night. December’s movie will be Prancer.

HONEYMOON ISLAND WALK
Date: Sat, Dec. 20
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
Price: Free (walk); $8 per carload up to 8 people, $4 one person in car, $2 walking (park entry).
For more information: (727) 469-5942
Ages: All

Explore all of the beauty of Honeymoon Island’s trails and beach areas while being led by a park ranger.

TEDDY BEAR ROUND UP
Date: Fri, Dec. 26
Time: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Location: Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa
Price: Free children’s admission with Teddy Bear donation
For more information: http://www.mosi.org
Ages: All

Bring a new Teddy Bear to MOSI to donate to the Rough Riders and get one free children's admission free.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Lowry Elementary to present Holiday Heroes

This year Lowry Leopards are working on being heroes in their school and community. 

Lowry’s Winter Concert, Holiday Heroes, was written by Michael and Jill Gallina and explores how children can make a difference in other’s lives. Encouraged by “real” cartoon superheroes, the children discover that music is the way to share joy, embrace differences and give to those who need it most. In addition to the 175-member chorus, Lowry’s winter concert showcases Lowry Orff Ensemble, Lowry Drum Corps and the newly created Lowry World Drumming Group. Join us for the concert on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at Sickles High School, where there are sure to be some heartwarming surprises.  The show starts at 7 p.m.

If you are not familiar with the music programs at Lowry Elementary School, take a look at what we offer! Spotlight Singers and Little Leopards chorus for Grades 2-5 provide students opportunities for singing and dancing, acting, small groups and solos. Our choral students have been chosen for the prestigious All State Chorus every year for the past eleven years. Students at All State are conducted by world-renowned composer/directors and perform before thousands at the Tampa Convention Center during the Florida Music Educators Conference each January.

We participate in the Hillsborough County Fine Arts Festival for chorus and Orff,  held each spring at the Straz Center’s Morsani Hall. Lowry boasts one of the few elementary drum lines in Hillsborough County elementary schools.  Our music teachers, Jia Leikensohn and Lorri Naylor, are both Little Kids Rock or LKR-trained teachers and offer the hugely popular rock and roll and modern band groups.  Students do not have to be in an ensemble to take advantage of these great musical opportunities because drums, Orff instruments (xylophones and metallophones), guitars, bass guitars, singing, dancing  and acting are all part of what we do each day in the Lowry music program.

Don’t miss the fun in the snow when we perform at Chick-fil-A, located at Waters Avenue and the Veterans Expressway, on Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

By Lorri Naylor

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Ready… Set… Shop!

Are YOU coming to the Westchase Holiday Market?

The fifth annual Westchase Holiday Market will be held on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Westchase Golf Club. All net proceeds from the event, along with ticket sales from special raffles, will be donated directly to Autism Speaks.

Last year’s market raised over $2,000 for this great charity.  Raffles this year will include incredible prizes from members of the Westchase Artists Society, as well as generous donations from Catch 23, RocketFizz, Ybor City Food Tours, Publix, and the Westchase Golf Club, to name a few!  We offer our special thanks to our Gold Sponsor, Anne Hart and Toni Cason of Florida Executive Realty.

This year’s event promises to be exciting for all ages!  Santa will arrive to hear wish lists and pose for pictures from noon until 3 p.m.  A “Best of Show” juried prize will be judged and awarded.  Artist demonstrations will take place and you can grab a tasty bite from the grill at the beautiful Westchase Golf Club while listening to fabulous holiday music! Face painters will also be on hand from 1-4 p.m.

Let’s not forget the shopping!  You’re sure to find the perfect gift to complete your holiday list. Original paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry and sculpture, along with handmade craft items such as cork work, crochet, glassware and woodworking are among the many types of artwork that you can expect to find.  

Join us as we ring in the holiday season!

By Teresa Trubilla

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Westchase Icon Sees Renaissance at Open House

The former Westchase Welcome Center – now the Ross Building – saw an Oct. 17 Open House that revealed its extensive renovations.

Ten months ago, in Oct. 2013, the proud building, featuring an impressive portico and Georgian architecture, had reached its nadir. Abandoned, badly neglected and rattling through foreclosure, the building was stained from leaks, crumbling from wood rot, and overgrown with invasive Brazilian pepper trees. 

The building, located at 10311 Radcliffe Drive, formerly served as the Westchase Welcome Center. In the 1990s it was often the first stop for buyers that became Westchase’s original homeowners. When the WCA balked at the purchase price asked for it by Westchase’s developer more than a decade ago, the building was purchased by a Realtor.

After tracking the 2,250 square foot building through bank repossession for two years, West Park Village residents Brian and Wendy Ross snapped up the former Welcome Center in foreclosure on Dec. 20, 2013. Brian Ross, a lawyer who serves on the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors and the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) and Wendy Ross, a Realtor with Florida Executive Realty, have called Westchase home since 2001. They immediately began to rehabilitate the property, cutting back the overgrowth, cleaning up the lot, replacing its leaking tile roof, shattered by errant golf balls, with less susceptible asphalt shingles.  The interior also saw major work and the impressive but badly damaged windows overlooking the Westchase golf course were replaced.

“We definitely spent six figures repairing the building,” observed Wendy Ross. “I think it turned out great. We’re pleased with the outcome, that’s for sure.”

The West Park couple soon announced that the structure, renamed the Ross Building, would serve as the fifth branch of Florida Executive Realty brokerage and Wendy Ross’ real estate office.

“The overall concept for the building was not just to have a business there but to be part of the community,” explained Ross. “I am most excited about restoring a piece of Westchase history. And making it into a thriving business in the community.”

On Oct. 17, Ross and Florida Executive Realty owner Doug Loyd, threw open the doors for an Open House. Visitors were impressed with the extensive work, which restored the former Westchase Welcome Center to its previous beauty.

“The Westchase opportunity reminded me of where we started in 1992 in Tampa Palms, where we occupied the original welcome center,” commented Loyd on his newest brokerage. “We played an integral role in Tampa Palms and we hope to do the same in Westchase.”

Ross is a full-time agent and shareholder in the new Westchase office.

Loyd added, “Like Tampa Palms, Westchase is a great place to live work and play and we’re very happy to be a permanent part of the community.”

“The building was integral to the start of Westchase,” said Loyd. “I think it’s been restored to its full function and beauty and we invite the local Westchase community to stop by and visit.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Ulele: Delicious Hometown Pride

Enter a magical world of Ulele, the true American Indian princess behind the Pocahontas story.

The Gonzmart family, Tampa restaurant royalty, has used their funds, political clout and unabashed love for the city to create an innovative restaurant that celebrates our roots.

During our recent visit to Ule, Tampa’s most heralded new restaurant, our eager beaver servers were completely knowledgeable about the building’s renovation and Ulele’s menu. So happy were they to share information they seemed like Disney cast members. Inside, the restaurant’s brick, loft-like space was scattered with interesting iron sculptures from local artists. It’s a little loud and chattery, but the energy of the diners comes from finally have scored a reservation – a hot commodity.

Due to some unforeseen but fortunate circumstances, we arrived 45 minutes early for our reservation. Sliding up to an earlier time slot was an impossibility, so we were ushered to the outside beer garden on the restaurant’s far side. We witnessed a spectacular Tampa sunset, complete with wedding party photos along the river. The adjacent natural spring, which flows into the Hillsborough River, has been lovingly restored. The place gives off a positive urban vibe, with a small water splash park and amphitheater next door. A bike tour of twenty-somethings pulled up, sampled the craft beers brewed on site, and enjoyed the mellow atmosphere. The beer garden also includes chic roof seating, but no food service is yet available.

Our dinner was a celebration of our native Florida bounty, and we tried as many of Ulele’s interesting sides as we could. We started with a small appetizer, the Oyster Cabbage Boats, citrus-glazed oysters from the Gulf of Mexico. Next, we moved on to Florida Jumpers, crispy fried frog legs in sherry garlic aioli, which brought me back to past trips to the Seminole reservation. The Okra Fries, tossed in lime juice, were very tart, and might appeal more to okra lovers like myself. Match up the Native Florida Chili with alligator, wild boar, venison, duck and ground chuck with a Jalapeño Cheddar Grit Cake for a hearty winter meal. Last but not least, the decadent Mac and Cheese came topped with generous amounts of lump crab meat.

The center of the open kitchen is a giant ten-foot barbacoa grill on which most of the meats are prepared. Watching the giant, 2.2 pound kilo Porterhouse being grilled was like watching a meat inferno. The shrimp, scallops, crab and lobster in my Seafood Special had a lovely smoky taste from the grill, which paired well with its tomato saffron bed.

Growing up on guava pastries, I had to try Fortune Taylor’s Guava Pie for dessert. With its shortbread cookie crust, whipped cream and guava reduction, it did not disappoint. Next time I am definitely trying the Candied Duck Bacon Maple Fried Ice Cream, which sounds decadent.

Five different beers are brewed on premises. The Magbees Honey Lager, produced with locally sourced Florida honey, was smooth and featured a malty base. Three others, Ulele Light, Water Works Pale, and Rusty’s Red, will please any hop-head. There is also a Wedding Beer, a cold-brewed fruit lager. A wide variety of wines and craft [vulgarity] are also available.

With our day-to-day prepackaged lives, it’s easy to overlook the sheer variety of native culinary items Tampa Bay has to offer. Visiting Ulele, I felt the same level of pride about my hometown as when I visited the Tampa Bay History Center.

Come out and experience the local foods our local Native Americans and settlers experienced. It’s magical.

Ulele
1810 North Highland Ave.
Tampa, FL 33602
999-4952
Hours: Sun-Thu, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 11a.m.-11 p.m.

By Jill Chesney

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase’s Popular Helper Elf

As the holiday season rolls into December, Brentford resident Steve Darr anxiously awaits two events Westchase residents have come to love.

The events are the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Santa’s PreFlight Parade and WOW’s Holiday Lighting contest. At the ripe old age of 10, Darr took on the honor of being responsible for his family’s holiday lights. And while Darr isn’t always easily recognized among the crowd of volunteers upon the fire truck, the Westchase Santa parade wouldn’t be the same without him.

Originally from St. Louis, Darr enjoyed an active childhood. As a wrestler, he maneuvered his way to state level competition twice. His involvement with BMX racing was the result of building and jumping his own bike ramps with his brothers. Between wrestling matches and bike races, Darr met future wife, Michelle, while they were in junior high school. “We dated for eleven years with a few sabbaticals. So I guess it would equal to about eight,” he chuckled.

Accepting a job with a communications company in Oldsmar brought him to Florida. It was during one of their “sabbaticals” that Darr received a call from Michelle. “She told me, ‘Break up with your girlfriend, I’m moving to Florida,’” he explained.

He did so, and of course, the rest is history. Darr turned his experience with sports into opportunities to spend time with kids Brittany, Jacob and Adria. Over the years, he coached their soccer, baseball, softball, football and wrestling teams. “I do it to be closer to my kids,” he explained.

Son Jacob inherited his dad’s love of wrestling. Dad proudly explained Jacob has earned first through sixth place positions at state level championship competitions. Darr works with the wrestling team at Sickles and especially enjoys working with beginners. “I like introducing the sport,” he shared.

Daughter Adria dared to venture into one sport Darr isn’t much help with – competitive cheer. “I’m not much help with that, but when I’m able to attend her events, I’m blown away at what they can do,” he said.

When he isn’t on a playing field or wrestling mat, Darr enjoys a few rounds of poker. He developed his poker face while working the night shift at a gas station as a teenager. “We would lower the lift in the garage and put a piece of plywood on top of it and play,” he explained.

Those late night poker games turned into a profitable hobby. He now enjoys playing locally at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and the Tampa Bay Downs. When asked how much he might have won or lost over the years, Darr remains ever the optimist. “Let’s focus on what I’ve won,” he slyly grinned.

He recalls 2008 as his best year ever with winnings around $40,000! The most he ever won in one sitting was $5,800. His card playing skills have also won him trips to Aruba and Las Vegas with paid flights, hotels and buy-in fees.

For the holiday, the Darr family will stick to tradition as they open gifts on Christmas morning. Once the wrapping paper stops flying, they hop into the car for a quick trip to Marco Island to visit family. We have a great meal that evening with filet mignon and a good glass of wine,” he explained.

His favorite childhood memory is the responsibility he had for the family’s lights. “I started doing it myself when I was about 10, and I just couldn’t stop. I did it until I moved out,” he recalled.

Hosted by the Westchase Community Foundation, Santa’s PreFlight Parade is a favorite among many Westchase residents. Darr accepted the request to become a major player in carrying off this event. During the parade hundreds of gifts each year are collected from residents and donated to a local charity. He explained special stops are also made to children with special needs and the elderly. Over the years, the route has been revised from the original 80 street-trek down to 40 because of the challenges of navigating the large truck through tight spots along the streets.

The last stop Santa makes is in West Park Village, where the streets are lined with folks awaiting their arrival to the Christmas tree at the center of the village. Once the last gift is collected and the final photo snapped, Darr revealed Santa sometimes makes his way to a local eatery for a cheeseburger and cold beverage.

It’s a long day for Santa and the other volunteers on the truck but it’s one Darr couldn’t miss. The PreFlight Parade this year will be held on Dec. 13. He encourages everyone – both naughty and nice – to be watching for Santa.

By Lisa Stephens

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Seniors Holiday Party Dec. 14

The Westchase Seniors Group will celebrate the holiday season this year on Dec. 14 at 5 p.m.

Catch 23 in West Park Village is the place to be for good food, good friends and good times. Anita Steinfeld, Phyllis Kanik, and Lillian Unger will be hosting this year’s celebration and dinner at Catch 23 Restaurant on Montague Street in West Part Village. The restaurant's famous Sunset Special and other tasty menu options will be available for your choosing.

This party is always a big hit and space is limited, so make your reservations by Dec. 12 by contacting Phyllis at pkanik@tampabay.rr.com or 920-4245, Anita at anitatrilevel@hotmail.com or 926-6211, or Lillian at fishtaleslil@me.com or 926-7706. If you would like to participate in the gift exchange, please bring one wrapped item per person, with a suggested value of about $5. It may be a useful gift or a white elephant gift that will bring a smile or chuckle to the recipient.

Miracle on South Division Street We thank Jose or Nevenka Rios for planning and coordinating another enjoyable outing to the Early Bird Dinner Theater in November. We enjoyed good food and reserved seats right up next to the stage. Jose and Nevenka couldn't have planned it any better!

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

Join The Fun If you are a Westchase resident over 55-years-old and looking to enjoy life, join over 200 of your neighbors who make up the Westchase Seniors Group and add more life to your years. It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap. Members participate in only what they are interested in and pay their own way. To receive e-mails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to westchase.seniors@gmail.com or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473).

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Nope. You Can’t Use Fireworks in Westchase

Each New Year’s Eve the explosive celebrations prompt Westchase complaints.

Since it’s “legal” to buy fireworks in Hillsborough County, it must be all right to use them in the community, right?

Think again.

Under state law, it’s illegal to buy, sell or explode fireworks in parks, beaches or even on your own property except under very specific circumstances. What are they? In unincorporated Hillsborough County you need to be using them to scare birds from your farm or fish hatchery or to light or clear a path for your train.

They don’t mean the one beneath your Christmas tree.

When you buy fireworks in the state, you even sign a waiver promising you’re buying them to do those things. If you violate the waiver, you’ve broken the law.
More specific restrictions exist closer to home. When all Westchase homeowners buy houses, they sign a legally binding agreement that they will abide by all Westchase Community Association (WCA) deed restrictions. Article XII, Section 11 of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions specifically states, "Fireworks that explode, move or make noise are prohibited anywhere within the Properties."

Homeowners who use fireworks – or whose children or renters do so – can face significant fines from the Westchase Community Association (WCA). When neighbors bring complaints, the association enforces the rule.

In a 2012 WOW survey about homeowner habits that annoy neighbors, a resident’s use of fireworks ranked highly as an action sure to earn their neighbors’ disdain. While 28 percent stated they didn’t care, 39 percent reported that a neighbor’s use of fireworks bothered them somewhat and 43 percent stated it bothered them a great deal.

Over the years, residents have attended meetings of the Westchase Community Association to complain about fireworks waking children or frightening pets. Others have brought complaints of holes burned in lanai screens and even damage to cars.

While you might be tempted to become the neighborhood entertainment committee, it’s safer and smarter to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Your neighbors – and wallet – will thank you for it.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Snow and Sparkle in Tampa This Month

While there is zero percent chance of real snow in Tampa, the fake stuff can thrill kids at several of the holiday festivals this month.

If fake snow and sliding down huge ice slides don’t appeal to you, you can still enjoy a land or sea parade or admire one of the light displays that will make December sparkle and shine.

LIGHT DISPLAYS

Florida Botanic Garden Holiday Lights
12520 Ulmerton Rd., Largo
http://www.flbg.org/foundation.htm
Date: Nightly through Dec. 31, 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Cost: $4 donation (13 and older)

Laser lights, decorated trees, a 7-foot gingerbread house with more than 600 lights, a 3-foot tall white swan, and a 5-foot tropical parrot light up the Florida Botanic Gardens. There will also be holiday entertainment and visits from Santa Claus.

Nights of Shimmering Lights
215 Sydney Washer Rd., Dover
http://www.nightsofshimmeringlights.com
Date: Nightly through Dec. 30, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: $15 per car weekdays, $20 per car weekends

Includes 2,000 beautiful light displays spread over two miles of illuminated tunnels, dancing LED lights, and more than a dozen themed areas. There is also a Christmas Village where families can drink hot chocolate, watch holiday movies, ride a toy train, or take a picture with Santa.

Symphony in Lights at the Shops at Wiregrass
28211 Paseo Dr., Wesley Chapel
http://www.theshopsatwiregrass.com
Date: Nightly through Dec. 31, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Enjoy a holiday light show choreographed to holiday music on the hour. The 55-foot tree is trimmed with more than 250,000 lights and 10 tons of holiday decorations. After the show the Center Court transforms into a winter wonderland of snow flurries.

Lowry Park Zoo’s Wild Wonderland
1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa
http://www.lowryparkzoo.com
Date: Dec. 6, 12-14, 18-23, and 26-30, 6:30-10 p.m.
Cost: $15 (12 and older); $13 (ages 3-11); free (2 and under)

The zoo is transformed into a whimsical world of holiday magic. Meet Santa and his reindeer and jump for joy in the Reindeer Games area. There are a million twinkling lights, a charismatic colony of African penguins, charming animated displays, Florida “flurries,” free zoo rides, and traditional holiday treats.

TREE LIGHTINGS, FESTIVALS and PARADES

City of Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony and Santa Fest Parade
Curtis Hixon Park, 600 North Ashley Dr., Tampa
http://www.tampagov.net/special-events-coordination/news-and-events
Date: Dec. 5, 6 p.m.: Tree Lighting; Dec. 6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Rough Riders Holiday Parade and Santa Fest
Cost: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the City of Tampa's annual holiday festival and parade. The festival features kids' activities, make and take crafts, entertainment and Santa.

Safety Harbor Snow Fest
Safety Harbor City Park
http://www.cityofsafetyharbor.com
Date: Dec. 6, 4-9 p.m.
Cost: $1 (all ages); $5 (unlimited rides)

Slide down the giant 20' snow hill or make a snow angel while helping a good cause. The annual Elena Tresh Foundation's Snow Fest has live entertainment, carnival games, food, arts and crafts, and snow activities for all ages.

Westchase Santa Parade
Streets of Westchase
Date: Dec. 13, 2-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Say hello to Santa as he travels through Westchase and then lights the tree in West Park Village. He’ll be collecting unwrapped gifts along the way for needy Tampa Bay area kids. 

Old Fashioned Christmas and Holiday Parade
Downtown Dunedin
http://www.dunedingov.com/
Date: Dec. 13, 4-9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Watch Santa Claus arrive in style during the Holiday Street Parade. After the parade, enjoy carriage rides, a snow slide, train rides, kids’ holiday crafts, old-fashioned games, live music, and snow flurries.

BOAT PARADES

Dunedin Lighted Boat Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony
Dunedin Marina
http://www.dunedingov.com
Date: Dec. 6, 6 p.m.

Get in the holiday spirit by watching boats parade through Dunedin Marina. There is also a festival with food, drink, and holiday entertainment.

28th Annual Illuminated Boat Parade
Vinoy Basin Waterfront, Saint Petersburg
http://www.stpeteboatparade.org/event
Date: December 13, 6:00 p.m.

The boat parade travels from Bayboro to the front of the pier and near the shoreline in and around the Vinoy Basin. A holiday festival begins at 3 p.m. with live entertainment, food, drinks, and a variety of children’s activities.

Twinkle in Tampa Bay: A Holiday Lighted Parade
Channelside District
Date: Dec. 20, 6:30 p.m.

Parade route goes along the water by Davis Island, Harbor Island, and the Channelside District.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

First UTB Library Art Gallery Exhibit Features Westchase Artists Society

Join us for an opening reception on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 at 6 p.m.

The Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library is opening its new art gallery space and its initial exhibit, “Expressions,” will feature artwork from members of the Westchase Artists Society. The work will be on display through January 2015.  The opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 11. Light refreshments will be served courtesy of the Westchase Artists Society and the Friends of the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library. There will be an opportunity to meet the exhibiting artists and discuss their work.
Funding for the beautiful new art gallery was made possible by a grant from the World of Westchase community newsmagazine.

“Our group members are really looking forward to sharing some of their new artwork with the local community at this, our first group show, in over a year,” commented Teresa Trubilla, president of the Westchase Artists Society. “The exhibit will feature artwork in various mediums including oils, acrylics and pastels as well as photography, pottery and jewelry.”

“The Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library is excited about the new gallery and that our first show is in partnership with the Westchase Artists Society. We were honored to have been the recipient of the generous contribution from the World of Westchase, Inc. that enabled us to create this unique space,” said Regional Library Manager, Suzy George.

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

No group meeting of the Westchase Artists Society will occur in December, but there will be a group holiday party in early January. Please visit http://www.westchaseartists.com for more information. The next group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Upper Tampa Bay Library. The evening’s agenda will include annual registration and election of new officers. You can also friend the group on Facebook to stay updated on group activities.

By Teresa Trubilla, President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

New Westchasers, December 2014

David and Carolyn Hardy of Harbor Links welcomed John Austin "Jack" Hardy on August 16 at 5:39 p.m. Jack weighed 9 pound, 3 ounces and measured 21 inches. He was welcomed home by big sister, Samantha, 2, and furry sister, Lucky, 9.

Residents who have not received or who have misplaced a Stork Club form to fill out to ensure publication of a birth announcement in WOW should e-mail their announcements to editor@westchasewow.com. High resolution photos may be e-mailed to that same address for possible publication here.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Santa Preparing for Dec. 13 Parade through Westchase

Westchase’s favorite annual visitor returns this month! He’s got news about his Westchase naughty and nice list – and how to track him!

To track Santa on Saturday, Dec. 13, simply click on the following link at noon on Sat., Dec. 13 and you will be able to track Santa's progress when the parade begins at 2 p.m.: http://glympse.com/!westchasesanta

Santa Claus recently dropped by to discuss his upcoming parade on Saturday, Dec. 13, with WOW Editor Chris Barrett, who pitched him questions submitted by residents, both young and old.

Each year Santa travels through Westchase to greet all the children in a parade organized by Dan O’Brien, Ralph Caputo, Santa and other volunteers with the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), a volunteer organization of Westchase residents who work to improve the quality of life in the community by raising funds to assist families with seriously ill children and families faced with tragedies.

Along the route Santa will collect unwrapped gifts for Michelle’s Kids, a charity that helps needy children and families throughout Hillsborough County.

The parade will culminate in the PreTree Lighting ceremony in West Park Village. The event, attended by hundreds of Westchasers and happy children, is a sight to see. The West Park Village festivities are expected to begin at approximately 6 p.m. and will include holiday music and activities.

The estimated times for Santa’s visit in each village are:

2-3 p.m.: The Vineyards, The Shires and The Enclave
3-4 p.m.: Villages along Countryway Boulevard
4-6 p.m.: Harbor Links, Radcliffe and The Greens
6-7 p.m.: The Fords, Tree Tops, The Bridges and West Park Village Center

Click here to view the parade map.

This year residents who wish to track Old Saint Nick through Westchase simply have to send an e-mail with their cell phone number to WestchaseSanta@yahoo.com. Please write “Track Santa” in the subject line. E-mails should be sent by the evening of Friday, Dec. 12 (Why not send it now so you don’t forget?). On parade day you will receive a link on your phone. Simply click on it to follow the parade’s progress.

While the parade costs are primarily underwritten by a $4,000 contribution to the WCF by World of Westchase, other donations and sponsorships are still needed and welcomed.

What did Old St. Nick have to say to WOW?

“It’s wonderful to be back!” Santa remarked. “I am so very much looking forward to seeing all of Westchase’s smiling children and adults!”

Santa brought along letters Westchase children have handed him over the years during the parade. Some belonged to children now likely in middle or even high school. They all had one thing in common: each earnestly communicated he or she had been a good boy or girl this year.

Writing his letter on bright green paper, one youngster named Steven, began, “I have been so good this year!”

Steven requested an Optimus Prime Helmet and a Transformer movie.

His brother Ty took a different approach. “I want some robots and big cars,” he began.

As for behavior?

“I will be good,” Ty cagily promised.

Meanwhile their sister Madison requested “lots of baby princess stuff.”

For Santa, some things, like the excited children with their whispered and written wishes, remain the same with each parade. Other aspects have changed over the years. “Seven years ago no one had cell phones out. Now everyone is filming it!” Santa observed with a hearty chuckle.

Santa said he gets a kick out of the unscripted moments – when residents, upon hearing his fire truck’s siren, rush into the street. While his favorite parade participants are the kids, he has a second group he’s particularly fond of.

“I love the enthusiasm of Westchase’s elders,” Santa said. “They’re really fun! They run out of their house! They’re in their robes and pajama pants!”

Much like Christmas Eve, Santa’s PreFlight Parade through Westchase is a long, demanding haul. He feels some aches the next day from waving for hours. Even his legs are sore from repeatedly climbing up and down his fire truck. The biggest challenge, however?

Florida’s heat. The North Pole resident, whose clothes and beard are meant to keep him warm, just isn’t accustomed to it. “I hope for cold weather every year,” he said of the parade. “One year I really thought I was going to pass out.”

When asked to submit questions for WOW to ask Santa, one Westchase child asked, “Do you have a fan up there?”

The short answer?

Nope.

Yet despite the physical challenges, Santa keeps returning – likely because of the parade’s touching moments.

The children who, while whispering wishes into his ear, hand him a coupon they’ve clipped to help Santa keep costs down.

The kids who fervently offer important details about their homes, with cries like, “My house has the red door!”

“They want to make sure I know specifically where they live,” Santa said.

Santa heaped praise on the parade’s organizers, honorary Christmas elves Dan O’Brien, Ralph Caputo and WCF President Sean O’Donnell. “Every year I’m impressed with their organization,” Santa said. “Each year at its end everyone is happy with how it’s gone.”

He’s also grateful for the special hand certain generous Westchasers lend every year. He cited Terry and Geoffrey Wright of Radcliffe, who allow Santa to use their home to cool off, have a drink, eat some lunch and recharge for the second half of his trip. “They let me blast into their house. They’re a completely cool couple,” Santa observed.

Santa simply offered a happy smile when he was asked if the Wrights supply him with a little Christmas cheer for the road.

Santa particularly enjoys the fact that so many visitors show up in West Park Village to greet him for the tree lighting. He knows many of the children and parents there come in from outside of Westchase.

Santa is thrilled the parade lets the community see the WCF for the great, charitable organization it is. He hopes it has an affect outside of Westchase. “I hope it inspires other communities to hold similar events for the kids.”

In addition to his favorite groups, Santa has some favorite moments. Each year, he makes an extra effort to spend a few minutes visiting with neighborhoods that host block parties. He also makes special stops at the homes of kids with special needs.

One stop in The Greens, however, is personally important. For Santa, the Westchase parade is an opportunity for him to collect gifts from generous Westchase families to present to needy kids. There is, however, a single Westchase child for which he brings a present each year during the PreFlight Parade.

Several years ago, after a hard fought battle, a young Greens resident lost his father to cancer. That year, Santa made a special stop at the boy’s home. The boy ran into his mother’s lap.

The second year? “He ran inside,” said Santa with a laugh.

The third year?

“He turned his head.”

“We’re coming up on this year,” Santa said of Dec. 13. He looks forward to seeing what reaction he’ll get now that his young friend is in first grade.

WOW’s interview with Santa included a number of questions submitted by Westchase adults and kids. The jolly give and take follows:

WOW: Welcome back to Westchase!

Santa: It’s wonderful to be back. I love the palm trees down here. Perfect for Christmas lights!

WOW: OK, then, here’s the first question one child asked: How can he participate in the actual parade?

Santa: I welcome everyone! All interested paraders can join my journey through Westchase by building their neighborhood float. Just call my honorary Christmas elves, Dan O’Brien at 679-2364 or Ralph Caputo 503-9943, for more information about how to build your float.

WOW: Here’s another: “I loved how everyone used to throw beads from the fire truck, Santa. Why did you stop?”

Santa: A great question! A year or so ago, my fire truck driver and I were getting very worried about how some very excited children would dart in front of the truck to catch the beads we were throwing. I was starting to worry so much, I realized I wasn’t having as much fun. We decided we had to put the children’s safety first. So, when we see big groups, we try to stop, get down and hand out beads. Now we’re all able to enjoy the parade a whole lot more.

WOW: Does Santa have a Christmas wish?

Santa: My parade is held every year so every Westchaser can be Santa for a less fortunate child. I’d ask everyone who comes out to greet the parade to bring at least one unwrapped gift. They will be given to Michelle’s Kids, which helps less fortunate children to have a wonderful Christmas. That’s Santa’s first Christmas wish – that everyone in Westchase bring a smile to another child’s face this Christmas. My second wish is for cold weather.

WOW: If someone is out of town for the parade, is there another option to still contribute toys?

Santa: There is! Starting Dec. 1 a drop-off location for unwrapped toys for Michelle's Kids will exist at Jason and Dyan Pithers' Coldwell Banker office at 10108 Montague St. in the West Park Village Town Center.

WOW: Here’s another question: My Elf on a Shelf seems a little psychotic. Is he dangerous and should I be worried?

Santa: Oh my! I know exactly which one he means. That particular elf spooks me too – always seems to be staring at everyone all the time. [Santa whispers.] Between you and me, that’s why I sent him away from the North Pole. But I’m sure he’ll be fine if they just keep feeding him candy canes.

WOW: How do you seem to be everywhere at once – the mall, block parties and the parade?

Santa: A good question with two answers. On the one hand, there are particularly busy times when Santa relies on helpers. These are highly accomplished elves who have earned the honor of being Santa by being the kindest, most generous elves at the North Pole. I wouldn’t be Santa without them so they very much are Santa as well. On the other hand, Santa has a number of crack elf scientists who have discovered ways to bend the rules of time, space and gravity that everyone else on earth finds so limiting.

WOW: Any hints how that works?

Santa: Hmm. How can I put this in a simple way? If you take the number of time zones on all the solar system’s planets, multiplied by the rotation of the sun, divided by the square of the number of dimensions inherent in quantum mechanics, you’ll have the Primary Prime, a digit as powerful as pi but as simple as cake. Because the name pi was already taken, my crack elf scientists have named it Cookie. In short, the Cookie is key to unlocking the constraints of time and space. So Santa can now be nearly everywhere at once, even without taking a nap. But I can see I’m causing your eyes to glaze over.

WOW: Another middle school child asks, “How do all the world’s presents fit into one bag? And don’t tell me magic. I want hard science!”

Santa: Hmm, another skeptic who needs a cookie. A lot of holiday shows and movies have gotten this one wrong. My toy bag isn’t big at all. Again, the Cookie is key. Is the Cookie science or magic? While your grandmother finds her cell phone’s high technology a bit confusing, wouldn’t George Washington find a cell phone magical? That’s because science is magical. But because your eyes are glazing again, here’s my short and sweet answer about my toy bag: It’s bigger on the inside.

WOW: What’s your favorite cookie?

Santa: While I love all cookies, my favorites are snickerdoodles. I even wear Snickerdoodle cologne. Very important to remaining fresh smelling during hot and steamy Florida parades. Did you know they have Snickerdoodle cologne at Bed, Bath and Beyond?

WOW: I think that’s room spray.

Santa: Not anymore.

WOW: How do you keep track of all the homes you visit on Christmas Eve?

Santa: For many years that was a real challenge. I once left two different mixers at the home of Mary Strudel, who lives in the Michigan peninsula, and two flatscreens at Thomas Penobscott’s home up in Maine. Voila, eBay was born! Fortunately, now my friends at NORAD help out. You should check out their Santa tracker on Christmas Eve. But you need to know something: I’m far better looking than their satellite cameras make me appear.

WOW: Do you feel jetlag the day after Christmas?

Santa: While I’m a bit tired, there’s no jetlag involved because I start and return to the exact same spot in 24 hours and am quite busy in between. I do, however, power nap while crossing the oceans.

WOW: Is there a particular native Florida plant your reindeer like eating?

Santa: Here’s a secret: Deer eat anything. They love all the carrots kids leave out, but they particularly love sprinkles. Oh, and glitter. But glitter makes them jumpy. I’ve got to cut them off by Malaysia or things get entirely out of hand.

WOW: How long did it take you to grow your beard?

Santa: Ahh! I’ve had it so long, I don’t recall. Mrs. Claus helps me keep it properly trimmed. I’d be lost without her.

WOW: OK, a bit embarrassing, but an adult asked this question: Boxers or briefs?

Santa: Clearly someone from my naughty list. Hmm, how can I answer honestly? By the time I reach the Sahara, briefs begin riding up higher than Rudolph on glitter. So I’m a boxers man.

WOW: Which brings us to our last question, which is from a concerned child: “How big is Westchase’s naughty list this year?”

Santa: [Takes out his spectacles and an iPad to check the list.] Hmm, with the exception of a few Moms’ Night Out groups, you Westchasers appear to be doing pretty well. [taps his iPad] Here’s the truth about Santa’s Naughty list. It’s the act of trying to be good that counts. But Santa does like to see both adults and children make an effort. If you really want to be on Santa’s nice list, bring an unwrapped toy to the Dec. 13 parade. Together, you and I can bring a smile to a child’s face on Christmas morning!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, Dec 2014

It’s grosser than having to wrestle away a partially consumed Tootsie Roll your dog scams from the sidewalk the day after Halloween.

In Florida little is scarier than picking up your carved jack o’ lantern when the festivities are done.

That’s why November’s fabulous fakery offered an alternative. Rumpkin’s biohazard removal experts (page 76) promised to pick up your pestilential pumpkin and repurpose it in time for Thanksgiving.

Frozen Pizza Eater Teresa Keefer of The Greens captured the process in poetic prose.
“Yes, it’s true that a pumpkin carved too soon down South,/Will start to look a bit down in the mouth./Humidity is not a gourd’s best friend,/In fact is spells a rather premature end./But have no fear as you wave goodbye,/That dear sweet decoration is now your pie!”

Pass the Spray-o-Whip, baby!

While we thank Teresa for the most meaningful sentences to appear in WOW in months, we also congratulate Lydia Mauritson of The Greens, upon whom the fake ad gods smiled in November. As the result, Lydia will be taking her favorite pumpkin remediator to Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

Get your December fake ad guesses in today!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Shout Outs, December 2014

Lucas and Joseph Trim of Bennington competed against each other for the first time in their college careers at the Lehigh Invitational Golf Tournament. Joseph, a freshman, along with his Fordham University team, bested Lucas, a sophomore, and his Villanova University team for fourth place out of 13 teams by four strokes.

Kudos to the Wizards of Westchase Elementary! Goodwill’s Bookworks recently placed a donation bin at the school. The students, teachers and staff did a wonderful job filling the bin with over 1,100 books! The books went directly to children in Head Start West Central Florida. Thank you, Wizards!

WOW wants your Shout Outs, short messages saying congratulations, well-done, thank you or “hey, we have some good news.” Shout Outs should be no longer than 75 words and can include a high resolution photo (JPEG attachments please). Send by e-mail by the fifteenth of the month to editor@westchasewow.com.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso Wins Five Star School Award

The Florida Department of Education has once again awarded Alonso High School the Five Star School Award.

The Five Star School Award was created by the Commissioner's Community Involvement Council and is presented annually to schools that have shown evidence of exemplary community involvement. In order to earn recognition, a school must document that it has achieved 100 percent of the established criteria in the categories of: Business Partnerships, Family Involvement, Volunteerism, Student Community Service, and School Advisory Councils.

With the Five Star School Award in mind, the Alonso PTSA is still open to new members; please consider joining the Booster Club, the PTSA and the School Advisory Council to continue the tradition of exemplary community involvement. Visit http://www.alonsoboosterclub.com for more information. Thank you for your support!

The Alonso golf tournament fundraiser at the Westchase Golf Club on Saturday, Jan. 3, at 1 p.m. is still seeking golfers and sponsors as well as donations of food, drink, and door/raffle prizes. All donations are tax deductible and checks should be made payable to the AHS Booster Club. The price for an individual golfer is $100, which includes greens/cart fees, dinner banquet, golf awards, and door prizes. Non-golfers can purchase dinner-only tickets. There will be additional contests and raffles that golfer can buy on the day of the event. Several levels of sponsorships are also available, ranging from $100 to $2,500, including hole sponsorships, Alonso baseball field corporate banners, and others.  For more information, registration and sponsorship applications, or to make any type of donation, please contact Cathy Fahrman at (813) 508-6242. Thanks in advance for your support of these great baseball players and Alonso High School Ravens Baseball program.

Congratulations to two Alonso swim team members, who went on to Regional competitions; Chase Psinakis for the 200 IM and 100 freestyle; and Paige Carter for the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Paige also went on to States for the 50 yard freestyle. Congratulations to Chase and Paige for their achievements!

Go, Ravens!

Important Dates

DECEMBER

4 B/G Basketball @ Bloomingdale, 6 p.m.
5 Wrestling @ Chamberlain; B/G Basketball vs. TBT, 6 p.m.; G/B Soccer @ Gaither, 6 p.m.
6 JROTC Raiders @ USF
8 G/B Soccer vs. Freedom, 6 p.m.
9 G/B Basketball @ Wharton, 6 p.m.; AP Parent Night, 6:30
10 G/B Basketball vs. Gaither, 6 p.m.; Cheer @ Leto, 6 p.m.
11 Orchestra Concert, 7 p.m.
12 G/B Basketball @ Riverview, 6 p.m.
13 Wrestling @ HHS, 9 a.m.
15 Band Concert, 7 p.m.
16 G/B Soccer vs. Steinbrenner, 6 p.m.
18 Cheer @ Leonard, 6 p.m.; G/B Soccer @ Sickles, 6 p.m.
19 Girls Basketball @ Plant, 7 p.m.; Wrestling @ Chamberlain
20 Wrestling @ Chamberlain
22  No School: Winter Break Begins

JANUARY

2 Girls Soccer Tournament
3 Girls Soccer Tournament
5 Schools Resume: Winter Break Ends

For a complete Alonso events calendar, visit http://alonso.mysdhc.org/

By Belinda Krauss

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Joey and Khalessie!

Joey, a 7-year-old Dachshund, and his sister, Khalessie, a 2-year-old Australian Kelpie, live at the Baugh residence in The Bridges. Joey loves sunbathing in the backyard while Khalessie loves to play fetch. After moving to Westchase earlier in the year, Joey, Khaleesie and their owners are settling in nicely and enjoying all that Westchase has to offer.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Holiday Shopping for Little Ladies

If you have a little girl to shop for this holiday season, this column is definitely for you!

I don’t mean to leave out the fellas. I just so happen to have finished the majority of my shopping for my daughter, so I have lots of gift ideas for girls right now – and they all can be found at local Tampa area shops! I didn’t set out to stick with a certain theme, but I found myself gravitating to classic pieces versus what’s hot right now.

If you read last December’s article, you might remember that Pottery Barn Kids was one of my go-to holiday shopping stops. That didn’t change this year. There I picked up the most darling Madeline book and doll set. Madeline was the first book that my baby girl really gravitated to and I figured it was time to trade in her baby board book for a big girl version. This hardback beauty is sure to please any little girl for years to come.

I also found a faux fur, doll-sized version of the Pottery Barn Kids fan-favorite Anywhere Chair. My daughter lives in her Anywhere Chair, so I know she will love having one for her favorite dolls and stuffies. She has a large and in charge Jellycat stuffed animal collection and they always have to have a seat next to her! Now they’ll have an über plush seat. Lucky ducks.

The doll shopping didn’t end with Pottery Barn Kids. That same day, I visited one of my favorite kids’ boutiques, Little Peeps, and found a Rosalina Baby doll complete with her own smocked dress. If you know me in real life, you know I’m somewhat obsessed with smocked dresses. My lil’ lady bean has more than her fair share and now her dolly will have them too! Did I mention I also picked up an extra dress for said doll? A girl has to have options! Ha ha!

And finally we come to my favorite pick...Christmas jammies. Every year on Christmas Eve my sister and I opened up one present and it was always pajamas. I’ve continued that tradition with my own kiddos and I found the sweetest little nightgown during that same Little Peeps shopping trip. Though I may cheat and let her open one toy too. She happens to be obsessed with a set of Russian nesting dolls that my mom has and I found a beautiful set at another beloved Tampa area boutique, Smarty Pants. As you can see, I’m off to a great start with my holiday shopping!

So, if you’re looking for gifts for the little ladies in your life this holiday season, I highly suggest Pottery Barn Kids, Little Peeps and Smarty Pants in South Tampa. I daresay you’ll find more than you need!

Happy holidays, everyone!

By Kristin Swenson

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Ditching the Big Ask

Grab the marmalade. Homecoming season is toast.

Shelve the sequined dresses, the purple dress shirts, the manicures and the dinner parties.

That tremendous whoosh at the beginning of November?

It was all the high school guys heaving a sigh of relief.

HoCo is done. You can now safely enter the cafeteria.

I feel sorry for high school guys today.

In addition to all that strange peer pressure to wear Chubbies, it’s not good enough for a guy to have his palms get clammy and his heart nearly explode as he screws up the courage to furtively beg a young woman to spend a mere four hours with him.

Nope. He must stage an elaborate production requiring more creativity, more effort and more anxiety than applying to 18 highly competitive colleges and FSU as his safety school.

It may also require the renting out of a dirigible or exotic animal petting zoo. Or, if funds are tight, bungee jumping off the high school gym into a vat of 6,000 cafeteria tater tots all individually hand-painted in sparkly nail polish with The Question:

Homecoming?

Furthermore, the guy must do all this in front of hundreds of other students to prove he will risk even suicidal mortification to win the right to have the love of his life stand radiantly beside him in the HoCo Grind Line.

At least judging from all their mamas’ pictures on Facebook.

You know it’s all true. You’ve gotten carpel tunnel from clicking Like so quickly.

In recent years I’ve seen a guy who convinced 30 of his best friends to stage a Flashmob at the mall food court. The production culminated in the guy falling to his knees and popping the big question.

Right before it culminated again with mall security slapping plastic cuffs on him. (It was more mob and less flash.)

Another guy painted an entire wall in the girl’s bedroom with the question “Homecoming?” Then he filled the room with an ocean of balloons and hid beneath them to surprise her.

Because totally cool parents are apparently totally OK with a guy totally hiding in their daughter’s bedroom.

Another guy cut out 72,000 black footprints. He put Hershey’s kisses on each one of them in a trail leading to the girl’s room, where he placed a big poster that said: Now that you know I kiss the ground that you walk on, will you go to Homecoming with me?

Now that you’ve finished gagging, answer me this: Is anyone else concerned this always ends up in the girl’s bedroom?
If your Facebook friends don’t offer enough ideas to steal, hundreds of Web sites offer tips to make your son’s Homecoming invitation preparations simple and easy.

One suggests he spend several hours before daybreak – on five consecutive days – sketching anonymous chalk drawings and messages on the girl’s driveway, culminating in drawing himself and her touching fingers like God and Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Another suggestion?

He can write, illustrate, self-publish, print and mail his hoped-for date an entire book titled Reasons You Should Go to Homecoming With Me.
If he selfishly needs to keep his Homecoming preparations to something less than a full-time job, he can ask the local pizza delivery franchise to deliver a pizza with the big question, “Homecoming?” spelled out in pepperoni.

Then, when she winds up at HoCo with the Papa Johns’ driver, he can have another sent to his own house topped with the word “Idiot.”

What’s The Big Ask standard? If his HoCo video fails to go viral on YouTube, the photos still must get at least 100 Likes on his mama’s Facebook page.

Does something strike you as suspicious?

No adult male is this romantic let alone high school guys who wear the same unwashed clothes to sports practice all semester long without realizing that they started smelling dead back in October.

These Big Asks require preparation, careful thought and creative planning.

Having taught high school for a dozen years, I assure you that the only thing high school boys carefully plan in advance is their farts.

There’s only one explanation. The Big Ask is just another production brought to you by Moms With Too Much Time on Their Hands, Inc.

Women who use HoCo Season to get warmed up for this month’s Elf on a Shelf Facebook competition.

There are dramatic social consequences to courting on steroids, ladies. The average American guy is getting married far later. Or he’s simply skipping that walk down the aisle altogether.

Likely because he’s yet to figure out a bigger and better way to ask his HoCo date to marry him.

The Times Square newsfeed and the First Lady are booked through 2016.

Even if the newer and hipper Pope tweets his marriage invitation, there’s still the silver wedding anniversary to worry about.

You see where this is going.

We’re creating monsters.

So, moms, back off. And, sons, if your mother won’t back off, just hide her smartphone until she completes FB detox and wanders off to Trader Joe’s.

Then, in an unexpected romantic twist, be yourself. Buy a bouquet of flowers from Publix for $4. Jam it into your sports bag and lie to your buddies that it’s just your basketball stuff. Nearly ask her in Chem class but chicken out at the last minute. Screw up the courage and approach her one last time before the school bus arrives. Turn red and thrust the crushed flowers at her, stuttering she’ll make your day by going to Homecoming.

She’ll still think you’re awesome.

And her father will love you for not hiding in her bedroom.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Seagoing Safari

Wow! What a difference two movies and a lot of P.R. can make.

When we moved here almost seven years ago, we visited the Clearwater Aquarium. After our first visit we thought it was a cute place doing very admirable work but saw no need to return anytime soon.

Cue the moving soundtrack to Dolphin Tale.

We are now proud season pass holders, we could probably guide tours of the aquarium, and at least one of my family members has tried to pet every stingray at the aquarium. We’ve watched Winter and Hope swim around and around and around, touched Winter’s prosthetic tail, departed impressed by how high Nicholas can jump, and examined every anemone in the touch tank. Every time we visit, we find new areas to discover and learn new facts about the amazing aquatic life.

On a recent visit, we climbed aboard Clearwater Aquarium’s Sea Life Safari to explore Clearwater’s intra-coastal waters. During the 90-minute boat ride, expert staff and volunteers tell you about the sea birds and marine life living in our area. I have a newfound respect for the cormorant after learning that it does not just stand around holding up its wings like they are broken. It can, in fact, dive up to 40 feet underwater. Also if you’re not an only child or first born, be glad you are not a snail. Newly born ones eat their siblings.

In addition to being able to entertain their guests with interesting facts, the aquarium staff uses the boat trip to collect data. About half way through, they throw out a net out to see what marine life they will collect. On our trip they were all very excited about the lizardfish they netted. After showing everyone the catch of the day and telling you a little bit about them, the staff returns the fish to the bay.  

The Sea Life Safari also takes you to a tiny shell island where you can get off the boat and search for seashells. On top of all this, if you’re lucky (and we were!), you’ll see dolphins. 

December should have plenty of days that are perfect for a boat ride. If you or someone in your family is interested in marine life, this is a great one. All of the staff and volunteers on board were knowledgeable and interesting. One young lady professed to be a geek about snails; another young man said sharks were his thing. Their enthusiasm was contagious.

The Sea Life Safari is a separate charge from the aquarium admission but you do not have to purchase aquarium admission to go on the boat.

Clearwater Aquarium Sea Life Safari Tour
http://www.seewinter.com/sea-life-safari-boat-tour
249 Windward Passage
Clearwater, FL
(727) 441-1790
Hours: 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Check Out Westchase’s Programs This Winter

Winter is here and we are enjoying the cooler months from a hot summer.

Don't hesitate to swim your laps in our heated pools or play a round of tennis. If your child is seeking an activity in which to get involved, please check out our tennis and swim team programming. We are fortunate to have great coaches that are producing and building local champions.

Sign up online at http://www.westchasewca.com or contact the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center for an appointment with the coach by calling 885-0662. You can also contact Tennis Head Pro Roberto Calla at tennis@wcamanager.com or TBAY Swim Coach Alex Richardson at swim@wcamanager.com.

By Kelly Shires, Operations Manager

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

Tennis Lessons: Effective Doubles Poaching

There are five fundamentals behind effective poaching while playing doubles in tennis. In doubles, poaching represents an aggressive move where the player at the net moves to volley a shot intended for his/her partner. To be effective, you should show the fake poach first. Consider the following when poaching:

1.) When does the returner makes contact?
2.) Where is the returner when they make contact?
3.) Are they playing an outside stroke or an inside stroke?
4.) What are their tendencies?
5.) What have you shown them?

In my opinion the most important fundamental is the last: what have you shown them? It will make the difference between what I call a dancer and a statue. Being a dancer or showing them a fake poach helps you find out a few things, specifically their tendencies. By applying pressure with a fake poach, you can learn how they handle an outside shot. If the only time you move is when you’re going to poach, they’re going to see it and it’s not going to work.

To poach you have to move before your opponent makes contact. The way you do that is by establishing the fake poach beforehand. Don't forget that playing doubles effectively creates a guessing game. One of the biggest mistakes in doubles is poaching at a high ball, then, rather than hitting towards the outside T, close to the net player, you hit it towards the baseline player. Doing that will miss a lot of opportunities to finish the point.

There are many reasons why you need to hit towards the outside T or to the net player. The most important reason is that the net player has less time to react. Going towards the baseline player will only make it easier for them. At the net you should be a killer.

By Roberto Calla, Westchase’s Tennis Pro

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

USTA Tennis Team Registration Online

All USTA Tennis league players are to sign up on the WCA Web site at http://www.westchasewca.com prefe,rably before Dec. 1.

The remaining deadlines follow:

USTA 40 and over (Deadline: Feb. 15) – Season April-June
USTA Combo Teams (Deadline: July 1) – Season Aug.-Dec.

This online list will be used to determine interested players and establish USTA teams before each season starts. Anyone who signs up after the deadline listed may not get on a team. It is left to the USTA captain’s or co-captain's discretion based on the current situation and needs of the team.

Can't play in the daytime? Westchase is looking to start a ladies USTA 3.0 night team. Sign up if interested. Match play is Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m.

By Kyle Roberts

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Holiday Tips

With the onset of the holiday season, Sheriff Gee offers some holiday crime prevention tips.

The District III Holiday Initiative commences on Nov. 28 and concludes Dec. 26. During this time, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies will be conducting enhanced operations around the Citrus Park mall to deter criminal activity and ensure public safety. Throughout the holiday season deputies will educate the public on their personal safety and the safety of their property.

While out during this holiday season:

• Lock your car doors and roll up your windows.
• Limit the amount of cash/jewelry you carry.
• Use debit/credit cards.
• Place all packages in your trunk.
• Don’t leave items in your parked car where they can be seen.

During this time, the sheriff's office urges everyone in Westchase to remain vigilant and remember these residential security practices:

• Keep your garage door closed when the garage is not in use. If the garage is in use, never leave your garage unattended.
• Be sure to lock any garage interior doors.
• Lock your car doors and secure your garage door openers.
• Secure any valuable items that you keep in your garage.
• Be neighborly and spread the word!
• If you see any suspicious activity, call the sheriff's dispatch, (813) 247-8200. In the event of an emergency, dial 911.

Last, in preparation for the pending District III change of command, Major Chad Chronister is excited to attend the Jan. 13 meeting of the Westchase Voting Members. That meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Bouelvard. It represents a great opportunity for Westchase residents to meet the new district major for a question and answer session regarding Westchase community concerns. We hope to see you all there!

On behalf of Major Chronister and Sheriff Gee, we look forward to seeing you all Jan. 13.

Westchase’s Community Resource Officer
Master Deputy Phil Acaba
District III Community Resource Deputy
7202 Gunn Hwy. Tampa, FL 33625
(813) 247-0330
pacaba@hcso.tampa.fl.us

By Deputy Phil Acaba

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, December 2014: WCA Posts Westchase Repaving Petition Online

Holidays are a great time for reflection and family time.

This year – and the upcoming holidays – should be no exception. I for one am grateful for my family, my lovely and beautiful wife, daughters who are growing to be very special young ladies (impartial party here getting extra points), my aunt, and my nephew, who moved in with us from Puerto Rico to attend USF. He is doing a magnificent job both as a role model for my kids and as a student in school.

Last year was one full of challenges and victories. With our extended family living with us, we had a great year and a better one to come. And all this occurred while living in what I believe is the best community in the world.

Let me mention a few reasons why I feel this way. When we say “it takes a village,” I believe we in Westchase all care about every child living here. We make sure we drive carefully around them. We ensure they are not getting in trouble and we strive to keep them safe on their adventures. We bring them holiday spirit when we decorate our homes and take pride in showing them to others. We donate greatly to deserving causes like The Westchase Santa parade and the Thanksgiving Food Drive. We are part of our community magazine, World of Westchase, which gives scholarships to community students, donates freely to schools and other organizations around the area while reporting our news. I ask that you patronize businesses advertising in the WOW as the money you spend will come back to our community.

We are all part of making these great things happen in Westchase. I am convinced we have one great, charitable community spirit. I challenge all of you to donate one moment of extra time, one extra dollar, one extra toy and participate in activities that engage in charitable work. If you are like many with no time to spare, then make sure you bring a gift to the Santa parade. Let’s make this holiday as special for others as we do for ourselves.

A bit of community news: a group of residents with the help of the Government Action Committee (GAC), the Westchase Voting Members, and residents alike started an online petition to all Hillsborough County Commissioners and decision makers to repave our streets, which are in dare need of repair. Look for it at our http://www.westchasewca.com and participate. As in any other petition like this, numbers are important and this is one of the most important issues we are facing and have no control over. Residents, businesses, and renters are welcome to participate.

On a separate note, I want to thank and recognize here Nancy and Dale Sells, recipients of the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award. They have been volunteering for many years, giving their best to our community. We are lucky about all the leadership we received from both and because of them our community is better. It is an honor to call Nancy and Dale my friends.

It is time to go and enjoy a great holiday. Please give and volunteer!

By Joaquin Arrillaga, WCA President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Wizards’ Gift Giving Tree Needs Generous Holiday Angels

The Westchase Elementary Holiday Gift Giving tree is up and filled with ornaments in the front office.

This is wonderful opportunity to help children and their families that attend our school. Each ornament contains the age, gender, size, and suggested gift for a child. If you would like to help a family in need during this holiday season, please stop by the office and select an ornament. Sign the log for your selected ornament. Then returned the wrapped gift under the tree by Monday, Dec. 8. With your help, this will be a magical holiday season for many families in our community.

The annual Jingle Bell Jog will be held Wednesday Dec. 17-19. Family members are encouraged to participate in this school wide activity. Join your student during their PE class to help us walk/jog our way to healthier bodies and improved cardio-respiratory endurance. This is a fantastic opportunity to be a physically active role model for our children!

The PTA would like to thank all of the students, parents, teachers and staff who helped make our 2014 Boosterthon Fun Run a huge success! Boosterthon is a healthy alternative to traditional product sales and it provided much needed funds for classroom technology. The nine-day program promoted the values of physical fitness, leadership and character in a very fun and meaningful way. This year’s theme was Rockin’ Town Live, which emphasized the character lessons of service, amplifying others, listening for feedback, playing hard and thanking your crowd.

We hope everyone has a safe and happy winter break! There will be no school Dec. 22-Jan. 2.

By Jennifer Arnold

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Kingsford Residents Honor the Memory of Gary Davidson

In recent weeks, yellow ribbons have fluttered in the breeze on Kingsbridge Avenue, a tribute to beloved neighbor Gary Davidson.

“The ribbons are a sign of honor and friendship as we lost a dear friend to cancer,” stated fellow Kingsbridge resident, Lisa Noel.

Gary and his wife, Terry, built their Kingsford home 16 years ago. There they raised three sons: Gage, Sam, who is a senior at Alonso, and Charlie, who is in the eighth grade at Davidsen.

Gary loved baseball, especially watching his sons play. Sam plays on several teams, as well as for Alonso High School. Gary also loved golf and could be seen at TPC many afternoons playing with Terry or challenging a neighbor.  Fine wine, cars and watches were also passions for Gary. But most important, he was extremely generous to organizations and teams – anyone who needed assistance.

“Gary was so loved by this community. I sent out a meal sign up and within 24 hours, all the spots had been taken.  I got e-mails requesting we add dates and I had to add additional spots two more times,” Noel said.

“He was a wonderful guy and will be missed by so many,” added Kristin O’Donnell, who also lives in Kingsbridge.

Our condolences go out to Gary’s family, friends and neighbors.

By Karen Ring and Lisa Noel

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

GirlTalk Group Takes Time to Give Back

The GirlTalk group’s November meeting proved a family affair.

On Nov. 20 members teamed up with their children and spent the afternoon donating their time to Feeding America Tampa Bay, whose primary mission is to end hunger and nourish hope across the ten counties it serves. According to GirlTalk founder, Lori Shaw, GirlTalk volunteers inspected and assorted close to 5,000 pounds of perishable and non-perishable food donations, which equaled nearly 4,000 meals for families around Tampa Bay. It was a rewarding experience for all.

Now the group is gearing up for its Third Annual Holiday Party, which will take place on Friday, Dec. 19, at Shaw’s house in West Park Village. It will be an evening filled with food and drink and activities that will get everyone in the holiday spirit. The event is always the highlight of the year and the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends old and new.

Shaw is working on more exciting activities for the coming year. For more information on upcoming events, contact Shaw at loriella@tampabay.rr.com or find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/girltalktampa The g.roup is free to join and is open to anyone interested in fun, friendship and a fresh perspective.

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Proxies, Assessments and the Dec 12 Movie in the Park

I wish all of Westchase a very happy holiday season and healthy new year!

The next two months are going to be some busy ones for us. Annual neighborhood meetings to vote for your neighborhood representative will take place between December and January. Please do not forget to mail us back your proxy card – or drop it off at the association’s management office. It is imperative that each neighborhood has representation at the voting member (VM) meetings. Your VM is your voice at these monthly meetings.

Included in your assessment envelope that arrived mid-November was an owner contact form. Submitting the form to management is voluntary. By completing and signing the form you agree to receive e-mails from our office for Westchase-related business. The e-mails will not be used to provide notice of violations or assessments that are due. It is only to provide Westchase residents with important e-mail blasts for anything related to Westchase as a whole. Be sure to note if you only want Westchase Community Association (WCA) business e-mails or if you want information on our programs as they come up.

By now you should have received your 2015 annual assessment notice of $319 due Jan. 1, 2014.  Be sure to mail your payment with the coupon to the address noted on the coupon no later than Jan. 31 in order to avoid additional fees. If you have not received your notice, please contact our office immediately.

Our Movie in The Park on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. is Prancer. Now that we’re in December it might be a chilly night. Don’t forget those snuggies and that cup of hot chocolate when you join us on the Montague Street green in West Park Village.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Gift of Health

If you are still searching for holiday gift ideas, consider my top ten items promoting fitness and health.

Great for all ages, they range in price from under $20 to over $1,000.

10. Yoga or Pilates mat or gift set: For those that practice, investing in a durable mat like Manduka can be a wonderful gift. Carrying bags, straps and blocks are also wonderful options.

9. Bike: Whether you choose a road bike, a cruiser, or a hybrid, bikes are fun. They are easier on the knees, get you outdoors, and can be great for burning calories. (Indoor stationary bikes are another option.)

8. Resistance Bands: I love these for people on the go! Resistance bands are lightweight and take up very little room in a suitcase. Carry resistance bands and eliminate excuses for not working out because you are on the road.

7. NutriBullet: Here’s a quick and easy way to get fresh fruits and vegetable blends. Infusing all the nutrients including pulps and seeds, it lets nothing go to waste, and cleanup is easy.

6. Fitness Trackers and Watches: Some of the most popular items this year, these handy tools can remind you to exercise, help track eating habits, monitor steps and sleep, and more! Since there is way of knowing the long term effects of the EMFs (electromagnetic fields), they are not higher on my list.

5. Gym or Studio Package: Explore many disciplines and facilities! Some offer full service facilities while others offer specialized training like yoga or Pilates.

4. Water bottles: Many creatively designed water bottles are BPA free. Some come with their own filters. They help you stay hydrated and help you track how much water you are consuming throughout the day.

3. Wii Fit: Wii Fit combines fun and fitness for the entire family. Its programs challenge agility, strengthen and tone, work your core, and improve your balance, cardiovascular strength and endurance.

2. Standing workstation or treadmill desk: This is an excellent way to avoid sitting for hours at a time while working!

1. Fitness shoes: This continues to be my number one gift! Footwear is very important for walking and most exercise. Proper support can help protect hips, knees, and ankles.

Shannon 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Village Voices, December 2014: Neighborhood Watch, Home Maintenance and VM Elections

Bennington

I would like to make everyone aware that there has been a rash of break-ins in nearby Waterchase. It’s a good opportunity to remind everyone to please be diligent with our Neighborhood Watch.  If you see anything suspicious, someone going door to door through the neighborhood or a car that is parked randomly on the street with someone sitting inside, please contact the police and report your concerns.  The non-emergency number is 247-8200 (I’ve added this number in my cell phone for convenience). They will take down the information and send an officer to investigate.  Let’s make our neighborhood as uninviting as possible to potential criminals.

Please check out the Bennington/Woodbay neighborhood page on Nextdoor.com.  If you have not already joined this social Web site, I encourage you to please do so for updated information throughout the month.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

By Jeanne Klimschot, Bennington VM

The Greens

Happy holidays! As we enter this most joyous time of the year, please remember to keep The Greens gatehouse apprised of all your holiday parties before they occur. Please provide them a guest list, so they welcome your guests, instead of backing up the entry by calling you with each arrival. Be considerate of your fellow residents.

If you lease your Westchase property out to tenants, you must provide a copy of the executed lease to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) manager, or you may be subject to not only a violation, but a fine. Contact the WCA office for details!

At the monthly Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting, each VM receives a list of violations from his/her neighborhood. This month again, The Greens’ top violation was discolored houses/roofs/driveways/sidewalks. If you received a violation letter, please act upon it at your earliest convenience; let’s work together on minimizing this list down.

The link to the Community Development District (CDD) and the gatehouse is http://www.westchasecdd.com/4.html There. you’ll find further information along with the resident form. Please update your resident file.

On a final note, I propose putting together a committee of Greens residents to assess the feasibility of creating a new database of resident e-mails. Please let me know if you are interested in being part this committee.

By Gerald (Jerry) Pappa, The Greens VM

Stockbridge

The Stockbridge Voting Member (VM) proxies have been sent. I am hopeful each of you completed the completed the voting process, including the mailbox question. Ryan Benson contacted me about becoming the Alternate VM and an e-mail was sent to the Stockbridge distribution list. My hope is that you took the time to write in his name for this position. Our annual neighborhood meeting will be held on Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office. While attendance is not mandatory, it would be nice to see some representation from Stockbridge.

I e-mailed the neighborhood about the fall block party and the lacking of time for planning. We will look toward spring for the next block party. Jen and I will host again unless we have a volunteer looking to do so.

I am sure most of you have noticed the influx of moving vans in Stockbridge. As we say goodbye to some of our neighbors, let’s also be sure to welcome our new ones.

Have a great holiday!

By Ed Siler, Stockbridge VM

Townhomes of West Park Village

Our association recently held its annual meeting on Oct. 30. Thank you to all who attended or submitted their proxy vote. I welcome two new board members, Ken Millman and Kent Bell, both long-time residents on New Parke Road. They were joined by Karen Harte and Mary McQuinn. I am quite excited that we have a full complement of board members. Thanks to all who agreed to serve! 

We had some very positive outcomes at the association business meeting following our annual meeting. Two new items will benefit our Townhome owners: (1) the board approved twice yearly mulching and (2) twice yearly pressure washing for our sidewalks. We voted to cancel our pest control contract with Orkin, as we felt it duplicated services to our homeowners. The savings offset the new services, which will begin in 2015.

If you have received a notice regarding your sidewalk, please take the appropriate action to address it, as we will announce our pressure washing schedule in the first quarter of 2015. The additional good news is our association dues will remain the same with no increase! 

By Debbie Dawson, Townhoms of WPV President

Villas of West Park Village

The year 2014 has been very good to our association and our finances are not only in order, but we have been able to accomplish every goal we set for this year within the approved budget. Recently we completed the second pressure washing of our sidewalks and curbs, front and back. We all can feel proud with the curb appeal of our units. It’s also good to announce that the monthly assessment during 2015 will remain the same as it was this year.

On Feb. 2 the Villas will hold our annual meeting, when two seats, each with two- year terms, will be up for election. The intent notices will be mailed Dec. 19 and members wishing to be candidates should return it by close of business Jan. 5.  The meeting notice will be mailed on Jan. 12.

Finally, on behalf of your board, I wish everyone the very best during Christmas. I hope 2015 brings health and happiness to all of you.

By Carlos Quiros, Villas of WPV President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso Baseball Hosts 11th Annual Golf Tournament

The Alonso High School Ravens Baseball, Division 6A State Champions in 2009 and 2011, will host a golf tournament fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 3.

Held at the Westchase Golf Club, the tournament will begin at 1 p.m. The format is a four-person team, best ball scramble. Tournament awards will be given for the winning team, closest to the pin, longest drive and putting contest.

This is a great opportunity to support an award-winning baseball program in our local community. All proceeds will go towards building a new batting cage facility for the baseball program.

“We appreciate the community support of Alonso’s baseball over the years. However, we need to continue to raise funds to improve our program. Participating in our golf tournament fundraiser means you’re investing in both our program and more importantly our baseball players,” said Head Coach Landy Faedo.

The Alonso golf tournament is seeking golfers and sponsors as well as donations of food, drink, silent auction items and raffle prizes. Several levels of sponsorships are also available, ranging from $100 to $2,500, including hole sponsorships, GPS signage, Alonso baseball field corporate banners and others.

The price for an individual golfer is $100, which includes greens/cart fees, awards banquet and dinner. For those of you who don’t want to miss out on the great food, non-golfers can purchase dinner-only tickets for $15. It’s well worth the price as this tournament has become famous for providing a hearty and home-cooked, authentic meal.

Don’t delay, sign up today! Contact Team Mom Cathy Fahrman at (813) 508-6242 to register or get more information on sponsorships. Thanks in advance for your support of these great baseball players and Alonso High School Ravens Baseball.

By Ronda Woble

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Former TBAY Coach Allen Remembered

Two years after the tragic death of former TBAY Westchase Swim Coach Kelley Allen, all seven TBAY branches gathered at their respective pools to honor their beloved mentor with a moment of silence. “I remember seeing Kelley when I was a young swimmer and thinking he looked like a pirate,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “Then he came over to TBAY and it was just fitting, because now he really was a pirate [the club mascot]. To get a chance to work with him – to know him as a friend and mentor – he had a great impact on all of us.”

Swimmer Maddie Strasen recalled how Coach Kelley used to race up and down the pool deck, trying to see everything at once. “If everything happens for a reason, and if he had to be taken from us so soon,” Strasen said, “it was so that he could be somewhere where he can see everyone at once.”

Even Coach Kelley might have had trouble keeping up with a frenetic TBAY Westchase schedule over the last month. The team raced at the WFLA Halloween Invitational in Largo, an annual stop on the calendar, and the SPA Penny Per Yard meet in St. Petersburg. In addition, several high schoolers competed at district and regional meets, with two qualifying for the state championships.

At the Oct. 17-19 Halloween meet, Rafael Borromeo, Sam Prabhakaran and Sydney Senior posted 10-second drops in their respective events while Paige Easton and Aly Johnston recorded top-five finishes. Prabhakaran and Savannah Trezza cut 10 seconds in the Nov. 2 SPA meet, while a long list of top-five finishers included Easton, Prabhakaran, Johnston, Armando Destrade, Noah Hall, Tyler Henry, Nicolas Libreros, Liam Maloney, Elizabeth McDonough, Gavin Nolan and Gregory Tilzer.

The club’s high school athletes had been training for peak performances at the district and regional meets that lead to the state championships, and the hard work paid off for several of them. Abby Rose of Sickles made the Class 3A state meet in three events – 50 free, 100 free and the 200 free relay. Strasen, Robinson High School’s captain, made the Class 2A state meet for the second consecutive year in 100 breaststroke while also qualifying for senior championships with her regional 200 free time.

In addition to that pair, Richie Bui, Danny Harris, Isabel Minnis, Tiffany Quach, Ben Brown, Johnny Dang and sixth-grader Summer Senior all qualified for high school regionals, while Erykah Farrant and Katelyn Rosenblum competed at districts.

“Our high school swimmers did a great job this season,” said Richardson proudly. “It’s hard work to represent your school and continue to train with our program. I am very proud of the two ladies who made it to the state competition. They had big goals this season and they really stepped up to the challenge.”

Before taking a week off at Thanksgiving and getting back at it in December, TBAY Westchase was looking forward to the LOLL/TBAY Fall Challenge in mid-November, when the club’s younger swimmers were slated to compete in distance events for the first time. About 40 club swimmers were also scheduled to participate in the YCF Almost Turkey Invitational in Orlando Nov. 21-23. Also coming up is our annual holiday party and lots of holiday training!

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

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Picture Perfect Holiday Picks

Picture books can make us wish we were kids again.

This year my holiday gift-giving suggestions include picture books for children and teens. Yet the selections will amuse and captivate adults as well.

Traditional picture books are short and engaging while blending stories with art. Here is a sampling of my favorites.

Press Here, written and illustrated by Hervé Tullet, defies categorization. It is an interactive book without tabs, windows or flaps, yet it’s as engaging as an iPad app without a single electronic component. Press the dots, tilt the book or shake the pages to see what happens next. This book will bring a smile to most any kid – or adult. It’s recommended for ages 4-8 but fun for anyone.

In the next story, a box of crayons goes on strike. When Duncan gets ready to color, the crayons are missing. Instead, he finds hand-written notes explaining why each crayon has had enough! Every hilarious epistle matches one of Duncan’s drawings, illustrating how the young artist has misused the crayon. The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, is a funny and fresh addition for children 3-7.

Most of us know Keith Richards as a member of the legendary rock band, The Rolling Stones. He shows a different side as the author of Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. His daughter, Theodora, illustrates this tender story of the bond between Richards and his grandfather with charming pen-and-ink collages. A bonus CD features the author reading his story and playing a sample of “Malagueña,” the first song he learned from his grandfather. It’s suggested for preschool and early elementary ages.

Anyone who has struggled to write an essay or story has likely turned to Roget’s Thesaurus for inspiration. The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, by Jen Bryant, is the story of how young Peter Mark Roget came to create his book of lists, which evolved into the essential reference work. Melissa Sweet’s elaborately designed illustrations layer watercolors over a patchwork of classic images and old-time fonts, drawing the reader back again to each page. It’s perfect for the upper elementary reader.

The final two recommendations are not typical of the genre. They are longer and targeted to preteens and teens. Nevertheless, they are essentially picture books with illustrations that enhance the story or add depth to the text.

A Caldecott Award winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, written and illustrated by Brian Selznick, is the basis for the 2011 magical film, Hugo, a tale of mystery. The novel, set in Paris in the 1930s, is just as enchanting. Selznick’s sections of silver-toned pencil drawings, interleaved with narrative, bring the feeling of a silent film to the page.

In The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond, Patrick Dillon celebrates what ingenious architects and builders designed and constructed. Stephen Biesty's meticulous illustrations integrate with the text to invite readers to start wherever they wish. Reminiscent of David Macaulay’s books, The Story of Buildings may be intended for junior readers, but it will engage grownups.

Make your gift of a picture book memorable by adding a promise to read it together. Milk and cookies optional!

As a holiday treat, four readers can win one of the featured books – Press Here, Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar, The Invention of Hugo Cabret or The Story of Buildings. To enter the drawings, e-mail editor@westchasewow.com by Dec. 10 with the subject, “Book Drawing,” and include the name of the book you want.

By Carol Collins

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Recreation Center Programs: December 2014

Adult

Zumba
Combine Latin, American and international music with a fun, effective workout.
When: Mon, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $6/Class

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

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

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

Senior Activities

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

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

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

Toddler Activities


Pint-sized Picassos
Each week focuses on an element of art and offers a unique project that is sure to be a keeper. On December break; will return in January.
When: Tue, 8:15-9 a.m.; 9:15-10 a.m.
Ages: 3-4
Cost: $7/Session

Broadway Babies
Introduction to performing arts, songs, and dance that all become part of mini-musical number students perform at a later recital.
When: Wed, 1-1:45 p.m.
Ages: 3-5
Cost: $7/Session

Grade 5/Middle School/Teens

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

Boys Competitive Volleyball
Focus on learning ball-handling skills and competitive games
When: Tue, 8-9 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session
Ages: Grades 5-12

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

Art in the Park
Learn creative new art projects while making new friends. On December break; will return in January.
When: Thu, 6 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session
Ages: Grades 5-12

Show on the Road
Learn the art of acting, play production, back stage and prop preparation while having fun.
Ages: 13 and up
When: Tue, 8-9 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

Youth

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

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

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

Looking for Volunteer Line Dance Instructor or one who enjoys sharing their love and knowledge for Line Dancing. Call the Rec Center. Dodeball2YOU coming selected Fridays in January!

All activities take place at:
Westchase Recreation Center
9791 Westchase Dr.
Tampa, FL 33626
(813) 964-2948

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchasers Got Talent!

On Nov. 2, a number of Westchase residents put their musical talents to the test at the “America’s Got Talent” open call auditions held at the Tampa Convention Center.

Unlike other televised talent competitions like “American Idol” and “The Voice,” AGT is a variety show – people of any age and any talent are welcome to audition for their chance to vie for the top prize of $1 million.

It wasn’t about the money for Westchase residents Ray Chiaramonte, Casey Banales and Josh Willeke, who all headed down to the convention center looking for an experience.

Bridges resident, Josh Willeke, 9, had a special incentive to audition. Tampa Bay Music Academy, where Josh has taken piano lessons for the past three years, partnered with AGT and in turn they were able to offer their students front of the line passes to audition. That was far too good an opportunity to pass up, according to Josh. He paired up with his cousin, Samantha Smith, 11, who plays the classical guitar, and fellow student, Hendon Haley, 13, who sings, to form the musical trio We R Unstoppable. With roughly a month to prepare, Josh practiced his piano every day. “I don’t usually practice that much, but I was really motivated,” he said. 

On the day of the auditions, the trio arrived at the convention center bright and early and, as promised, went straight to the head of the line. They were among the first 50 to audition. The group got a glimpse of some of the other talents on display that day. “We saw a group dancing with birds,” Josh said.

The musical groups were led into an audition room nine at a time, and there they performed for a lone producer. Both Samantha and Josh admitted that their nerves kicked in as they waited. “I play better when I am nervous,” Samantha said.

The trio performed “All of Me,” by John Legend and felt good about their performance. “There was one act in our group that was better than us, but we hung in there!” Josh declared. “Even if we don’t make it, it was a great experience,” he added.

Ray Chiaramonte, who lives in West Park Village, headed to the auditions on a whim – in much the same way that he began singing in the first place. Ten years ago, Ray took a trip with family members to visit the village in Italy from which his grandparents hail. There, during a festival, his cousin’s wife convinced him to get up in front of the crowd and sing Sinatra’s “My Way.” “I hated that song. It is so depressing,” Ray laughed.

Nonetheless, his performance was a hit with the crowd and a rush for Ray. He has been singing gigs, from private parties to corporate events, ever since. He has also grown to love Sinatra.

The AGT auditions appealed to Ray, 64, because they do not restrict by age. Ray arrived at the auditions at 2 p.m. and, after filling out a slew of paperwork, he was finally handed his audition number: #1292. Needless to say, it was a long day. Ray recounted that as he scanned the room during his wait, he could easily spot the serial auditioners, the nervous first-timers and the overzealous stage moms – there was even a guy in a spandex chicken suit. Ray considered leaving a few times, but then he thought to himself, “How often does this kind of thing come to Tampa? I might as well have one crazy experience!”

That kind of  “Why not?” attitude has guided Ray since he beat cancer four years ago. Now Ray admits that when he is contemplating taking a risk, he just asks himself, “Is this going to kill me? No!”

When his number was called, Ray performed  “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé. While he felt good about his performance, he admits he learned a lot about strategy that day. “I’m not afraid to do it again, now that I’ve got the lay of the land.”

Like Ray, Casey Banales of The Greens made a spontaneous decision to head to the AGT auditions. At age 13, Casey is no stranger to performing in front of an audience. In the seven years she has been singing, she has sung “The National Anthem” at The Big South volleyball tournament in Atlanta in front of a whopping 36,000 people and at a minor league baseball game at Tampa’s Yankees Stadium.

The AGT auditions offered a different type of performance atmosphere. “There were cameras everywhere and so many people!” Casey said. Her wait time was roughly five hours and she took advantage of that time to just enjoy the whole experience. “The auditions were a lot of fun. I met so many talented people. I met a hip-hop dance group and a really good magician in line. It made the day go by quickly and made it fun!” she said. “I think I did well but most of all it was a great experience.”

Tampa was AGT’s first stop for their initial audition rounds. Auditioners will be notified in March or April if they will be moving on to the next round. We wish Josh, Casey and Ray the best of luck and thank them for sharing their experience with us!

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen Girls Basketball Team Ends Season Undefeated

Congratulations to the Davidsen Girls Basketball team, who finished the season with an impressive second place finish at the Hillsborough County Tournament.

This after an equally impressive showing in their regular season, where the Dragons went undefeated, 6-0! Davidsen faced off against Martinez in their final game of the season. Both teams came into the game 5-0. Davidsen trailed Martinez until the last minute of the game. In the last 43 seconds, Davidsen tied the game and in the final seconds of the game they pulled ahead to win!

Davidsen went on to beat Benito in the semifinals and then lost to Rampello in the finals.

“Special thanks to Coach Lindsay Windell for all her dedication and exemplary demeanor on the sidelines as she led the girls to victory,” said Gail Frank, whose daughter, Sarah, is a sixth grader on the team.

Congratulations are also in order for all of our PHD students for the first quarter. On Nov. 7 188 students who earned straight A’s were treated to breakfast. We also commend all of our students who completed an entry for this year’s Reflection’s theme, “The World Would be a Better Place If….” Those students were treated to breakfast on Nov. 14. Seventeen Davidsen students will advance on to the Hillsborough County finals, to be held on Dec. 6 at Hillsborough Community College.

In upcoming news, Davidsen’s next conference night has been scheduled for Dec. 3 from 5-7:30 p.m. Westchase’s “Walk to Davidsen Day” for fifth graders will be held on Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m. Parents can meet at Davidsen for a tour. Spirit shirts and uniform shirts will be available for purchase.

Also, don’t forget about our monthly Spirit Night at McDonald’s, held on the first Tuesday of the month between 5-8 p.m. (dine-in, take-out or drive-thru and no flyer is needed). This is a great way to support our graduating eighth graders. We hope to see you there!

Thanks to all of our PTSA volunteers, our wonderful Davidsen teachers and staff and our business partners for their support in making the first half of the year a success. We wish all of our students and their families a happy holiday season!

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Crime: October 2014

Some notable changes are evident in October’s crime statistics.

First, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) has stopped including accident statistics. Second, there’s been a noticeable spike in thefts from cars. 

Deputy Kris Gundersen of Westchase’s off-duty privacy patrol reported that most of these were quite avoidable. Seventy to 80 percent of the cars’ owners left valuables in the cars and didn’t lock them. Gundersen reminds residents to keep garage doors closed. If you can’t park in your garage, remove all valuables from cars and lock them.

The HCSO’s District III office has a new leader. Major Chad Chronister will attend the Jan. 13 Westchase Voting Members meeting, where he hopes to field questions and concerns from interested residents. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center.

Aggravated Assault

10/5

10000 Tate Ln.                                                                                

Battery-Simple

10/2

9700 Montague St.                                                                            

Battery-Simple

10/3

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.                                                                          

Battery-Simple

10/5

10000 Tate Ln.                                                                               

Battery-Simple

10/10

10100 Radcliffe Dr.

Battery-Simple

10/15

10500 Montague St.

Battery-Simple

10/29

10500 Gretna Green Dr.

Burglary Other Structure

10/4

11600 Countryway Blvd.                                                                          

Burglary Residence/No Force

10/21

10000 Bentley Wy.

Fraud-Credit Card

10/3

10000 Tate Ln.                                                                                

Fraud-Other

10/19

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

10/21

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

10/29

10500 Montague St.

DUI (Driving Under Influence)

10/22

9500 West Park Vlg Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

10/4

9800 Montague St.                                                                            

Theft From A Vehicle

10/22

10700 Ayrshire Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

10/28

10600 Weybridge Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

10/28

9500 Cavendish Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

10/28

10600 Weybridge Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

10/29

10800 Sierra Vista Pl.

Theft From A Vehicle

10/29

10700 Spring Mountain Pl.

Theft Vehicle & Other Mobile

10/24

10500 Castleford Wy.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

10/26

10000 Brompton Dr.

Obstructing Courts

10/17

10100 Kingsbridge Ave.

Warrant In County

10/26

Countryway Blvd./Oaksbury Dr.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Pamela Conguta: Running the Race of Her Life

Every day, scores of runners take to the streets of Westchase.

Each has a personal reason for pushing themselves to the brink of exhaustion. For Lake Chase resident, Pamela Conguta, running is her way of fighting back against a devastating disease.

Two years ago Pamela was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive, neurodegenerative disease marked by muscle rigidity, tremors and changes in speech and gait. She was just 42 at the time.

Pamela began displaying Parkinson’s-like symptoms while pregnant with her son, Jude; however, because she was pregnant, her doctors could not conduct the necessary tests to determine the cause. Shortly after she gave birth, tests confirmed that she did indeed have Parkinson’s. Pamela was crushed…and then her son’s doctor delivered another blow. Jude had been born with Trisomy 9 Syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that can cause developmental delays.

Pamela spiraled into depression. For nearly a year, the Parkinson’s was winning. “Those were the darkest days of my life,” Pamela admitted.

Then her husband, Alex, began running on a regular basis and Pamela saw the effect it had on his overall health. Inspired, she picked herself up and began walking laps around the track at Lake Chase. In time, walking turned to jogging and, eventually, running. To increase her strength, Pamela enlisted trainer Michael Altieri of Westchase Fitness, who put her on an intense weight-training regimen. It was in the gym that Pamela truly regained her confidence.

“It was not easy to go in the gym when I first started to lift weights. There were some days when I was doing arm curls, by my third set, my legs started bouncing and I had to push through. One time, I’ll never forget,  [Michael] just stood on my foot and said ‘Finish!’”

Pamela admitted that pushing through that strenuous workout was a turning point. “I had balance. I felt good,” she said. More important, those muscles she was building gave her the strength to be able to pick up Jude – something she had struggled with before. “I want him to see me as strong,” she said of her 2-year-old son. 

Pamela founded the Facebook support page, Young Faces of Parkinson, in hopes of inspiring others to get up and fight back against the disease for which there is no cure. She began posting her progress at the gym and on the running track in photos and video clips. Responses poured in. “Just wanted to thank you for your videos... Inspired me to make some much needed changes....” wrote one follower.

“You have inspired me so much. I just ran for the first time in years! Freedom!” wrote another.

Reactions like those gave Pamela even more motivation to keep running.

As her strength and confidence grew, Pamela began running faster. “When I am running, that is the time in my life that I forget I have Parkinson’s. I’m moving. I’m floating. I’m free,” Pamela stated.

Two months ago, Pamela set out on a mission to run in her first 5k and she signed up for The Great West Chase, held Oct. 25.

Her initial goal was to finish in 45 minutes. The morning of the race, Pamela hit the gym for one last confidence boost. As the starting time approached, Pamela watched Alex cross the finish line of the 10K portion of the race. Without missing a beat, he joined Pamela at the starting line for the 5k race and stayed by her side every step of the way.

During the last mile, fatigue set in and Pamela found herself struggling to finish. “Alex wouldn’t let me give up. He literally pushed me to the finish,” Pamela said.

Pamela did end up finishing the race, Alex’s arm around her waist. Her time: 32 minutes.

While she admits The Great West Chase was a challenge, Pamela is ready to start training for her next race. Her goal is to run in the 26th Annual Say No To Drugs Holiday Classic in Clearwater on Dec. 20 and finish under 30 minutes. Beyond that, Pamela is taking life one day at a time: “I’m enjoying the now and, at the moment, I am winning the fight!

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW in the Grassy Great White, Kinda North

Over the summer WOW had the chance to visit some currently snow-covered, rather chilly reaches of the North.

Susan and Ron Wilson of The Greens visited Newfoundland, Canada this past summer, an area definitely in the north. “It is a beautiful place,” wrote Ron, “and we especially enjoyed the views from Signal Hill, a Canadian National Historic Site.”

Susan Wilson is shown holding May’s WOW at the base of the hill, which features Cabot Tower. The hill and its tower overlook St. John’s in the Canadian province, Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland is an island and Labrador sits on the Canadian mainland. Newfoundland is located well north of Maine on the northeast coast of Canada, just across the North Atlantic from frigid Greenland. When the Wilsons visited Newfoundland this summer, however, they enjoyed the sunny, grassy hills in the area.

Signal Hill was the site of the final battle of the Seven Years’ War, known as the French and Indian War in the U.S. That war, ending in 1763, resulted in the British takeover of Canada from the French. The war debt from that conflict led Britain to tax their American colonies, which paved the way for the American Revolution.

Signal Hill took its name from its role in signaling ships approaching St. John’s port. Located on the island of Newfoundland, the fort represented a strategic outpost overlooking the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The late Gothic Revival Cabot Tower was constructed beginning in 1898, the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland. In 1901 it was the site of the first transatlantic radio transmission, by radio’s inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. It was used to signal passing ships by flag until the 1950s.

While Colorado arguably isn’t very north, it’s quite kinda north from Florida’s perspective. Its Rocky Mountains are famous for snow and winter sports. This past summer also found the Sidwell family of West Park Village standing on the grassy slopes of one famous Colorado site. Wrote Susie Sidwell, “When people think of Vail, Colorado, they typically think of world class skiing.  However, local Coloradans know that Vail in the summer is one of the most beautiful places on earth! Temperatures stay cool (averaging 70-85 degrees) and the mountains are green and lush thanks to the water from the snow melt.” 

The Sidwells visited to take advantage of the resort villages’ great summer deals – and to do some hiking and mountain bike riding.

“Our family tackled our biggest hike to date,” wrote Susie. “It was a four mile up-hill hike to the top of Vail Mountain. We started at 8,000 feet and ended at 11,000 – quite an accomplishment for a family coming from sea level.”

The Sidwells allowed a week to enable them to adjust to the higher altitudes, a wise choice. Their hike to the beautiful peak took two and a half hours. And afterwards? “We were well rewarded with a gondola ride back down the mountain,” said Susie.

Now North America’s third largest ski mountain, Vail’s resort opened in 1962. While welcoming thousands of visitors each winter, the town of Vail has a population of just around 5,300.

We thank the Wilsons and the Sidwells for sharing their travels with WOW.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Great West Chase Raises $22K for Bellamy Elementary

A little algebra for you: Take 5K and add 10K and what do you get?

In the case of The Great West Chase, that would be $22K.

The last Saturday in October produced another perfect race day as The Great West Chase expanded its 5K race and Children’s Fun Run to include its first 10K.

The Oct. 25 event saw a total of 930 dedicated runners cross the finish lines. The events were made possible by a host of generous sponsors and a slew of dedicated volunteers that spent hours stuffing race bags, ensuring a smooth packet pick-up, and setting up and cleaning up after the race.

In total The Great West Chase raised $22,000 for math and literacy programs at Bellamy Elementary on Wilsky Boulevard. Bellamy is a Title I school with a large percentage of impoverished kids. Bellamy is one of the feeder schools for Davidsen Middle School, which serves Westchase.

In an impressive feat, Keswick Forest resident Larry Smart, 45, took first place among nearly 200 runners in the Great West Chase’s inaugural 10K, with a time of 34:51. Less than 30 minutes later, Smart sprinted off again in the 5K race, where he also placed first of nearly 638 runners with a time of 17:28.

The 10K’s second and third places went to Matthew Farrell (36:14) and Michael Rivera (36:47). The 10K’s top three female finishes were Beth Atnip (44:06), Sally Watkins (48:21) and Kristen Prentice (48:36).

In the 5K, second and third place finishers were Nicholas Zivolich (18:10) and Blair Burnett (18:11).

The 5K’s top three female finishers were Jennifer Palermo (20:16), Kate Greenough, (20:45), Marianne Pienias, (20:55).

The top three finishers in all age groups appear below. For complete results, see http://www.coolrunning.com

.

For runners’ photos please visit James Broome Photography’s impressive gallery, http://photos.jamesbroome.com/The-Great-West-Chase/2014/

.

A short video documentary of the event can be found on http://www.youtube.com Simpl.y search for “Great West Chase 2014” then select the video by Philip Dean. We thank Philip Dean Communications for taking the time to compile this wonderful depiction of a great community event.

WOW also thanks all the runners, the race sponsors and the race’s generous volunteers who made the events possible. We hope to see you next year!

10K Age Group Winners

Female Overall Winners
1 Beth Atnip, 44:06
2 Sally Watkins, 48:21
3 Kristen Prentice, 48:36

Male Overall Winners
1 Larry Smart, 34:51
2 Matthew Farrell, 36:14
3 Michael Rivera, 36:47

Female Masters Winners
1 Sheila Bode, 49:39

Male Masters Winners
1 Scott Flint, 40:57

Female Grandmasters Winners
1 Kathleen Chitester, 52:37

Male Grandmasters Winners
1 Ynris Barrios, 46:44

Female 9 to 10
1 Stefanie Hernandez, 1:02:25

Female 13 to 14
1 Reagan Ware, 1:02:51

Female 15 to 19
1 Kailey Smart, 56:50
2 Victoria Cannella, 1:13:45

Male 15 to 19
1 William Santeiro, 53:09

Female 20 to 24
1 Gina Hayduke, 51:17

Male 20 to 24
1 Nicholas Forth, 57:57

Female 25 to 29
1 Ashley Morgan, 51:52
2 Veronica Gaucher, 55:15
3 Roseanne McIntosh, 56:23

Male 25 to 29
1 Joseph Simon, 43:20

Female 30 to 34
1 Rebecca Pfeiffer, 51:04
2 Kerrie Bass, 52:38
3 Heather Highfield, 52:43

Male 30 to 34
1 James Rankin, 43:15
2 Jason Colizzo, 44:30
3 Derek Brunette, 47:22

Female 35 to 39
1 Michelle Hoffman, 49:09
2 Cindy Trautmann, 49:09
3 Cecilia Bidwell, 51:08

Male 35 to 39
1 Luiz Silva, 40:03
2 Jason Jones, 41:39
3 Shayne Stokes, 44:36

Female 40 to 44
1 Amy Hodges, 52:53
2 Leslie Dowdy, 55:07
3 Susan Klinefelter, 56:33

Male 40 to 44
1 Keith Harcombe,42:52
2 Mike Dodson, 44:49
3 Michael Kraft, 45:06

Female 45 to 49
1 Christine Kwan, 51:03
2 Christina Pereyra, 53:42
3 Mailissa Cavanaugh, 54:43

Male 45 to 49
1 Jeffrey Sievers, 45:13
2 Adam Corwin, 45:57
3 Brian Kobel, 48:20

Female 50 to 54
1 Jennifer Fehr, 1:06:41
2 Veronica Rojek, 1:11:57
3 Shelley Ward, 1:13:07

Male 50 to 54
1 Paul MacLean, 49:20
2 Kirk Sexton, 56:56
3 Michael Levine, 59:17

Female 55 to 59
1 Kathy Peluso, 55:03
2 Sherry Bencetic, 1:00:43
3 Shirley Risler, 1:01:27

Male 55 to 59
1 Joe Rogers, 47:55
2 Robert Cooper, 49:09
3 Tom Miller, 56:48

Female 60 to 64
1 Sue D'Auria, 56:06
2 Marie McGlynn, 1:33:15

Male 60 to 64
1 Gerard Morda, 52:02
2 Bruce Simpson, 56:52
3 David Chitester, 1:04:43

Female 65 to 69
1 Joan Wells, 1:12:39
2 Carol Mastrandrea, 1:48:21

Male 65 to 69
1 Dan Thomas, 1:01:43

Female 70 to 74
1 Lenore Rupert, 1:06:47

Male 75 and Over
1 Patrick Zier, 58:58
2 C Cooper, 1:33:13

5K Age Group Winners

Female Overall Winners
1 Jennifer Palermo, 20:16
2 Kate Greenough, 20:45
3 Marianne Picnias, 20:55

Male Overall Winners
1 Larry Smart, 17:28
2 Nicholas Zivolich, 18:10
3 Blair Burnett, 18:11

Female Masters Winners
1 Heather Bilotta, 22:40

Male Masters Winners
1 Sebastian Hernandez, 18:59

Female Grandmasters Winners
1 Elizabeth Anderson, 22:50

Male Grandmasters Winners
1 Jose Vasquez, 19:24

Female 8 and Under
1 Kate Anderson, 34:47
2 Kaitlyn Chan, 34:57
3 Makinna Jolly, 40:49

Male 8 and Under
1 Jack Kouwe, 24:14
2 Leonardo Venditto, 24:29
3 Liam Maloney, 25:26

Female 9 to 10
1 Ella McKee, 28:28
2 Tristan Stavish, 30:04
3 Abby Armstrong, 30:29

Male 9 to 10
1 Ryan Winslow, 22:28
2 Braxton Legg, 22:29
3 Colin Corwin, 23:03

Female 11 to 12
1 Emma Barrett, 27:28
2 Claire Armstrong, 28:28
3 Sarah Anderson, 28:35

Male 11 to 12
1 Jacob Key, 26:37
2 Jeigh Ives, 27:44
3 Nathan Hardie, 27:54

Female 13 to 14
1 Caroline Maggi, 22:02
2 Makenna Kirsch, 26:50
3 Margaret Parker, 28:38

Male 13 to 14
1 Dylan Vandall, 19:34
2 Trevor Stanley, 19:45
3 Pedro Hernandez, 20:42

Female 15 to 19
1 Annie Phifer, 27:20
2 Kaitlyn Corwin, 27:58
3 Bailey Jones, 28:22

Male 15 to 19
1 Zack Benham, 20:48
2 Lucas Gordon, 23:32
3 Brendan Rouge, 25:08

Female 20 to 24
1 Becca Garner, 24:27
2 Erica Bruggeman, 25:58
3 Gabriela Aizcorbe, 26:55

Male 20 to 24
1 Kyle Vuksich, 18:30
2 Fabiano Almeida, 20:42
3 Matthew Farnum, 21:41

Female 25 to 29
1 Anna Harwick, 24:50
2 Katie Colucci, 25:22
3 Korisa Kulda, 26:31

Male 25 to 29
1 Bo Partin, 21:16
2 Wesley Mazac, 22:43
3 Brian Dimaculangan, 25:41

Female 30 to 34
1 Marcia Florencio, 22:27
2 Jaye Duncan, 22:51
3 Jackie Larson, 24:19

Male 30 to 34
1 Nick Radner, 19:54
2 Greg Witte, 20:47
3 Travis Hoffman, 23:15

Female 35 to 39
1 Katti Dienhart, 20:58
2 Sonja Olsen, 24:49
3 Pia Trujillo, 24:59

Male 35 to 39
1 Jeff Beck, 21:20
2 Shane Warner, 21:56
3 Justin Gore, 22:03

Female 40 to 44
1 Maria Aranda, 25:13
2 Danyell Diruggiero, 25:14
3 Mai Vo, 25:26

Male 40 to 44
1 Tom Keller, 20:59
2 Craig Comperatore, 21:04
3 J Scott Green, 21:30

Female 45 to 49
1 Sue Kouwe, 24:24
2 Michele Weinstock, 25:25
3 Kristie Crouse, 27:53

Male 45 to 49
1 Martin Colan, 21:32
2 Max Dang, 22:05
3 Charles Bauder, 22:38

Female 50 to 54
1 Kim Thomas, 24:08
2 Connie Garrison, 24:21
3 Beth Roosen, 28:41

Male 50 to 54
1 Gregory Dodson, 20:35
2 Jon Carter, 23:15
3 David Herman, 23:44

Female 55 to 59
1 Debra Donald, 23:26
2 Kathleen Crowley, 24:26
3 Kathy Peluso, 27:54

Male 55 to 59
1 Paul Tavernier, 22:28
2 Steve Hershberg, 24:58
3 Grady Lenski, 25:14

Female 60 to 64
1 Diane Spicer, 31:35
2 Norma Jamie, 32:18
3 Janny Wind, 38:01

Male 60 to 64
1 Bob Wind, 29:23
2 Robert Serneels, 30:09
3 John D'Auria, 34:29

Female 65 to 69
1 Linda Hill, 48:15
2 Nancy Fraser Carrier, 56:37

Male 65 to 69
1 Gar Flise, 22:07
2 Folkert Koelman, 25:02
3 William Geiger, 46:48

Male 70 to 74
1 Bruce Shephard, 23:56
2 Silky Sullivan, 24:59
3 Patrick Gross, 29:27

Female 75 and Over
1 Rose Ann Hammock, 47:20

Male 75 and Over
1 Joe B., 21:57
2 Don Hendry, 28:12

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

December 2014 Programs at the UTB Library

FAMILY PROGRAMS

Toddler Time (Ages 2-3 with caregiver): Mon, Dec 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, at 10:15 a.m.; Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 10:15 a.m.; Wed, Dec 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, at 11 a.m.
Story Time (Ages 3-5): Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 11 a.m.
Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 1:15 p.m.; Wed, Dec 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31at 1:15 p.m.
Wee Artists: Thu, Dec 4, 11 and 18, at 1:15 p.m.
Silly Sam the Music Man: Sat, Dec 6, at 2:30 p.m.
• Dance, sing and play to holiday songs.
LEGO Block Party: Mon, Dec 15, at 3:30 p.m.
Winter Tales: Wed, Dec 17, at 3:30 p.m.
• Join us for a puppet show telling three stories.
CoderDojo: Teaching Kids to Code: Sat, Dec 27, at 11:30 a.m.

TEEN PROGRAMS

Teen Advisory Board: Tue, Dec 2 and 16, at 4:30 p.m.

ADULT PROGRAMS

Job Support Group: Tue, Dec 2, at 10:30 a.m.
Book Discussion: Thu, Dec 4, at 6:30 p.m.
• Join us to discuss A Curious Man by Neal Thompson.
Tai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, Dec 4 and 11, at 1:30 p.m.
Sahaja Meditation: Sat, Dec 6, 13, 20 and 27, at 10:30 a.m.
UTB Library Art Gallery Opening: Thu, Dec 11, at 6 p.m.
• Join us for the opening of the library’s new art gallery, featuring work of local artists. Funding for the gallery was provided by WOW.
Book Discussion: Mon, Dec 15, at 11 a.m.
• Join us to discuss The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Family Center on Deafness Telephone Distribution: Fri, Dec 12, at 10 a.m.

Computer Classes:
Tech Boulevard: Tue, Dec 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 2:30 p.m.
• Ongoing training in computer and software basics.
Microsoft Excel–Introduction: Tue, Dec 2, at 6:30 p.m.
Microsoft Excel–Basic Calculations: Tue, Dec 9, at 6:30 p.m.
Facebook: Tue, Dec 16, at 6:30 p.m.
Computer Tutor: Tue, Dec 30, at 6:30 p.m.

LIBRARY HOURS

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

Holiday Hours: The library is closed on Thu and Fri, Dec. 25-26, in observance of Christmas and Jan. 1 in observance of New Year’s Day. The library will close at 6 p.m. on Mon-Wed, Dec. 22-24, and Wed, Dec. 31.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Road Repaving in Westchase: How Likely Is It?

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, the old saying goes.

But getting enough grease from Hillsborough County to repave Westchase’s aging roads may be like getting blood from a stone.

October saw the county repave a pockmarked portion of Gretna Green Drive in The Fords. It coincided with efforts by Westchase Community Association (WCA) leaders to address road repaving on a community-wide scale. Radcliffe Voting Member (VM) Eric Holt and Bennington VM Jeanne Klimschot began pressing the repaving issue with their residents the previous month. The idea, on a Westchase-wide basis, was furthered by Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Joe Odda at October’s WCA Board and VM meetings. Odda embraced a Holt’s suggestion that the Westchase Community Association (WCA) mobilize Westchase political pressure on Hillsborough County’s Board of County Commissioners through an online, community-wide road repaving petition.

Many of Westchase’s roads, particularly north and east of the intersection of Countryway Boulevard and Linebaugh Avenue, are now between 17 and 20 years old.

According to Hillsborough County Senior Engineering Specialist Aaron Post, the typical Florida road in has a lifespan of 15-25 years, depending upon traffic loads. Westchase’s Community Development District (CDD), which maintains and repairs roads in Westchase’s gated neighborhoods, generally uses life estimates of 15 to 20 years. In recent years the district has repaved the community’s original roads in Harbor Links/The Estates and West Park Village’s alleys. This past summer, the district repaved roads in The Greens and Stonebridge. Why did the CDD do the work? Residents of Westchase’s gated communities pay additional CDD assessments to cover their road maintenance.

What are the odds of Westchase’s paving petition succeeding for community roads maintained by the county?

“You’re doing the math,” observed Roger Cox, Hillborough County’s Manager of Systems Planning, to WOW’s reporter – a remark made after the reporter observed that the county’s maintenance budget, road life estimates and the total miles of county roads suggested road repaving was being significantly underfunded.

Cox wasn’t trying to be glib or insensitive. He’s in charge of a department that deals with hard numbers – and equally hard choices – resulting from hard times.

The math suggests the WCA’s political effort to win repaving could prove a Sisyphean task.

According to Post, Hillsborough County has 7,028 lane miles of roads. (Each mile of road in front of Westchase homes represents two lane miles – a mile in each direction.) “It’s an expensive asset,” Cox said of the county’s road system. “It’s the largest asset the county owns.”

Maintaining it is a constant task – one that doesn’t come cheap.

Assuming all of the county’s roads last the maximum 25-year lifespan, the county would need to repave just over 281 lane miles per year to achieve full road replacement in a quarter century.
Using an average 20-year replacement timetable, the county would have to repave just over 351 lane miles annually.

How is Hillsborough County doing?

For fiscal year 2015, which runs from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015, the county has budgeted $5.2 million for repaving roads. When asked how many lane miles this sum would resurface, Post answered, “Forty-three lane miles.”

In other words, the math is not good.

With current road resurfacing funds, the county has a repaving backlog that’s growing by as much as 238-308 lane miles per year. “We’ve demonstrated through modeling of the system that the $5 million amount represents an underfunded system,” acknowledged Cox. “We need more in the $20 to 22 million dollar range.”

He added, “That’s my view of the world. That’s the need I see for that particular piece of infrastructure.”

What do these numbers mean for Westchase?

Non-gated, county-maintained Westchase roads measure roughly 19 center lane miles or 38 lane miles. Paving Westchase alone would eat up 88 percent of the county’s entire repaving budget for the year.

The underfunding and backlog have persisted since the economic collapse in 2009. Since that year, county funding for road repaving has declined dramatically. “It has changed a lot,” observed Cox. “The high water mark for resurfacing was in 2009. And that number was about $14 million.”

In 2010 the county spent $6.6 million. In 2011, the county committed $7.7 million and $6.7 million in 2012.

Despite the economic recovery, the county, however, made further cuts to road repaving funds. The amounts dropped to $6.3 million in 2013. It rebounded to $13.9 million in 2014 before dropping to $5.2 million for this year. Meanwhile, Hillsborough County Commissioners have passed budgets and bragged, due to rising property values, they’re still able to cut millage rates slightly year after year.

The budget reality leaves Cox with nothing but hard choices. “I have to focus on the arterials, the large capacity roads. They have to be handled first.”

Cox added, “With the budget we have, that’s were the focus is going to remain until things change.”

When will things change?

For now the county appears to be putting their eggs in one basket – a proposed transit sales tax referendum planned for November 2016. The referendum, if voters pass it, would increase the county’s sales tax by one percent – a penny for every dollar – to fund a plethora of items. As more apartment complexes, housing and commercial developments spring up in Northwest Hillsborough County, arterial roads like Linebaugh Avenue are seeing increased backups. In addition to repaving, the transit referendum would potentially fund things like a new east-west route called the Citrus Park Drive extension. It would also fund increased trails, improved bus service and, yes, light rail.

The upside for county commissioners? Instead of making an unpopular vote to raise taxes to pay for these items, they leave the unpopular vote to their constituents.

The downsides?

The recent Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum, one that’s similar to the tentatively planned 2016 Hillsborough referendum, failed after garnering only 38 percent of the vote in November, suggesting the basket handle holding all of Hillsborough County’s eggs may be a bit frayed. If Hillsborough’s referendum fails, county staff who are currently faced with hard decisions will likely be making even harder ones.

One New Year’s Repaving Project

The county, however, has budgeted for one other small Westchase project. Montague Street from Linebaugh Avenue to New Park Road will see major work in the new year. “It’s anticipated early next calendar year. Either January or February,” said Post.

“At a minimum, we’re going to start at Linebaugh and go to the split [in Montague],” he said. “We hope to go further but until other projects are closed out, we’re not sure how much money we’re going to have at this point.”

Unlike the work on Gretna Green Drive in The Fords, the Montague project will feature more than milling and repaving the existing surface. “That won’t really work in this case because the base is bad,” said Post.

The county will completely tear up the road to reconstruct its base. The road base, which the county described several years ago as incorrectly constructed, has led to continual and quick deterioration of any road surface the county applies. Calling off the major work several years ago due to protests from businesses along Montague Street, the county warned that, when the road needed resurfacing again, the reconstruction would have to occur.

Post, however, stated they would try to minimize the disruption to businesses by closing and working on the road only at night after business hours. Barring weather, he estimated the road reconstruction would take less than a week. Two weeks in advance, the county will place a message board out announcing the project. “They’ll really try hard to keep it as accessible as possible,” Post committed.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Season of Light and Hope

It’s no mistake that some of our greatest celebrations – Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukah – fall at the moment of the year when the nights are longest.

It’s also no mistake that light plays a deeply symbolic and decorative role in our celebrations. For soon after these holidays, the long, dark nights give way to longer days and greater light.

December’s WOW celebrates a great bringer of light and joy to Westchase streets. No person has graced WOW’s cover more frequently than the fellow who appears there again this month. I hope he triggers a warm smile and sparkle in your eye.

I had the chance to sit down in recent weeks with Santa and I posed a number of questions I collected from Westchase adults and kids, some specific to Santa’s Pre-Flight Parade through Westchase on Dec. 13. Perhaps you’ll enjoy sharing our conversation with an excited child. It begins on page 4.

Our cover feature is ultimately about the men and women of the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), who are again working hard to build a stronger sense of community while reminding us of the importance of lending a helping hand to neighbors in need. All they ask in return is this: If you come out to greet Santa and his parade, please bring an unwrapped gift to donate and present to a less fortunate child this holiday. It this way, you too can play Santa and bring greater light to the world.

WOW couldn’t be prouder to continue be the principle sponsor of this event this year. Come out, join the fun and help support the WCF’s fine cause.

No volunteer works harder each year to make the Santa parade a success than Fords resident Steve Darr. Steve has played a pivotal part since the parade’s second year. Yet, in many ways, he’s so immersed in working that day that many residents don’t realize the important and significant responsibilities he has. This year we introduce Steve to everyone in our Westchase Profile (page 72).

This month’s WOW is also filled with wonderful events to help children and adults build a strong holiday spirit. Be sure to check out our holiday fun, from light shows to holiday boat parades (pages 38-39).

Hundreds of runners and volunteers recently took time out of a sunny October weekend to participate in The Great West Chase, raising $22,000 to promote literacy among those disadvantaged children who attend Bellamy Elementary School. We offer the winners and some great race photos by James Broome Photography (pages 96-103).

We also share photos of some Westchasers’ favorite Halloweeners and their block parties – which are sure to leave you smiling (pages 92-93).

Remember we always welcome your shout outs, story ideas and letters. And please tell our advertisers you’ve seen them on these pages.

I wish you a holiday filled with light and hope!

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Thanksgiving Tragedy Brings SWAT Team to West Park Village

Thanksgiving celebrations along Magnolia Blossom Drive were interrupted on Nov. 27 as the result of a five-hour armed standoff that culminated in the death of resident Matthew Cormier.

Alerted by a member of Cormier’s family, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies appeared at 9641 Magnolia Blossom Drive in the rear of West Park Village to check on Cormier’s well-being. Cormier responded, however, by threatening to kill the deputies and insisting they would have to kill him. Cormier also fired shots from a window, striking a police cruiser.

Nearby condominiums were evacuated for safety.

After five hours of negotiations, a SWAT team fired on Cormier, who had appeared in a window with a gun.  Cormier died at the scene.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Thanksgiving Food Drive Sees Great Success

It’s time to talk turkey.

In short, 340 of them!

On a hot Sunday in November before Thanksgiving, hundreds of Westchasers, including scores of dedicated and their Troop leaders, gathered at Westchase Elementary for the 2014 Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Roughly 990 homes participated, contributing 21,600 pounds of food, 340 turkeys and one ham, feeding over 400 needy families for the holidays. The totals included generous matches of 100 turkeys from Joshua Butts of Cornerstone Insurance and 672 cans of vegetables from Nancy and Doug Wood of Coldwell Banker.

Seeing the greatest levels of participation were Abbotsford (100 percent), Glencliff (87.5 percent) and Keswick Forest (60.9 percent). Winning the holiday block parties for their participation were Glencliff, which saw 11 of its 48, or 22.9 percent of its homes donating turkeys. The Estates within Harbor Links placed second with 20.6% of its homes donating turkeys and Abbotsford placed third with 20 percent.

Winning the holiday block party for most improved participation was Abbotsford, which saw its participation jump 38 percent. Stonebridge also saw significant improvement with 13 percent more participating and Glenfield, Harbor Links and Woodbridge tied for third place for most improved with seven percent increases.

WOW thanks all who participated – and particularly our generous business matchers and our dedicated and committed volunteers without whom the drive could not occur!

For more details about the drive, be sure to check out January’s WOW!

Village

Number of Partic-ipating Homes

Number of Homes

Percent
Partic-
ipating

Turkeys

Percent
Donating
Turkeys

Abbotsford

40

40

100.0%

8

20.0%

Glencliff

42

48

87.5%

11

22.9%

Keswick Forest

39

64

60.9%

12

18.8%

The Greens: Greenpointe

90

153

58.8%

12

7.8%

The Estates

33

63

52.4%

13

20.6%

The Bridges: Stonebridge

31

66

47.0%

5

7.6%

Wycliff

14

30

46.7%

5

16.7%

The Greens: Greenmont

18

41

43.9%

0

0.0%

Harbor Links

47

109

43.1%

4

3.7%

The Greens: Greencrest

23

54

42.6%

6

11.1%

Radcliffe

62

154

40.3%

22

14.3%

Brentford

34

85

40.0%

7

8.2%

Chelmsford

39

100

39.0%

9

9.0%

The Bridges: Sturbridge

15

47

31.9%

2

4.3%

The Bridges: Stockbridge

20

65

30.8%

3

4.6%

Castleford

19

69

27.5%

4

5.8%

The Bridges: Wakesbridge

24

88

27.3%

4

4.5%

The Shires

64

235

27.2%

17

7.2%

Saville Rowe

9

36

25.0%

1

2.8%

Glenfield

24

101

23.8%

11

10.9%

The Greens: Greendale

13

55

23.6%

3

5.5%

Stamford

14

61

23.0%

2

3.3%

The Bridges: Woodbridge

9

40

22.5%

2

5.0%

Woodbay

36

162

22.2%

12

7.4%

Village Green

20

90

22.2%

5

5.6%

The Bridges: Baybridge

22

102

21.6%

3

2.9%

Kingsford

25

132

18.9%

5

3.8%

Bennington

19

108

17.6%

6

5.6%

The Greens: Greenhedges

16

94

17.0%

3

3.2%

The Greens: Greensprings

18

114

15.8%

3

2.6%

The Vineyards

18

120

15.0%

3

2.5%

West Park Village (except Village Green)

70

612

11.4%

13

2.1%

Tree Tops

8

90

8.9%

4

4.4%

Berkeley Square

5

122

4.1%

1

0.8%

The Enclave

6

108

5.6%

1

0.9%

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase’s State House Seat Declared Empty; Triggers Special Election

The prolonged court fight over the residency requirements of a state write-in candidate is over. The result?

Westchase’s seat in the Florida House of Representatives has been declared vacant and new elections to fill the seat will be held Feb. 10 and April 21, 2015.

Along with Safety Harbor, Oldsmar, East Lake, Keystone and Carrollwood Village, Westchase sits in District 64, whose Florida House seat was occupied by State Rep. Jamie Grant until it was recently declared vacant by the state legislature.

In Hillsborough County, the district boundaries are Linebaugh Avenue and Gunn Highway to the south, Dale Mabry Highway to the east and the county’s boundary to the north. The district dips into Pinellas County, where it hugs in the bay to take in Oldsmar and Safety Harbor.

In the run-up to last August’s primary election, Grant faced fellow Republican Miriam Steinberg. Because no Democrat filed to run for the seat, the Grant-Steinberg contest would have appeared on the General Election ballot to allow Democrats and independent voters to weigh in. As sometimes occurs in Florida, however, a lesser known write-in candidate named Daniel Matthews stepped in and filed to run for the seat, essentially closing the election to Republicans. With the write-in having little chance of winning in the general election, the winner of the Republican primary was virtually guaranteed the seat.

Grant has denied knowing Matthews or convincing him to file.

Steinberg’s husband, however, sued, arguing that the write-in candidate, a resident of Northdale living in Tallahassee where he was attending school, was not a legal resident of the district. While a Leon County circuit judge agreed and pulled Matthews from the ballot, an appellate court later reversed the decision, ruling that candidates must be residents of the district only at the time of the election. In the meantime the primary and general elections played out with warnings to voters that the results of the elections might not count. Incumbent Grant handily won nearly 60 percent of the vote in the General Election.

The court ruling, however, effectively tossed those election results out. In early November, the election was thrown to the Florida Legislature, which has the power to determine its membership in such matters. The legislature could have dispersed with the matter by reappointing Grant.

Grant, who was drawn out of his district by fellow Republicans during redistricting three years ago (forcing him to move out of his parents’ home and back into the district), still wasn’t feeling the love. The state legislature, dominated by Republicans, unanimously declared the District 64 seat vacant, leaving it to Governor Rick Scott to call a special election at an estimated cost in Hillsborough County alone of $300,000.

Grant has indicated he will run for election again.

Westchase residents may file to run in the special election by petition (including 287 valid signatures from registered voters in the district) or by paying a qualifying fee ($1,781.82 for party candidates or $1,187.88 for non-partisan candidates). Petition signatures must be submitted by Dec. 9, 2014. Candidates must also qualify for the election by filing required paperwork between Dec. 15 at 8 a.m. and noon on Dec. 16. For more information on qualifying, visit http://www.votehillsborough.org selec,t the link for Candidates & Committees and visit the Running for Office page.

Early voting for the Feb. 10 primary will run Jan. 31 through Feb. 7. Early voting for the April 21 General Election will run April 11 through April 18.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase State House Seat Declared Empty; Triggers Special Election

The prolonged court fight over the residency requirements of a state write-in candidate is over. The result?

Westchase’s seat in the Florida House of Representatives has been declared vacant and new elections to fill the seat will be held Feb. 10 and April 21, 2015.

Along with Safety Harbor, Oldsmar, East Lake, Keystone and Carrollwood Village, Westchase sits in District 64, whose Florida House seat was occupied by State Rep. Jamie Grant until it was recently declared vacant by the state legislature.

In Hillsborough County, the district boundaries are Linebaugh Avenue and Gunn Highway to the south, Dale Mabry Highway to the east and the county’s boundary to the north. The district dips into Pinellas County, where it hugs in the bay to take in Oldsmar and Safety Harbor.

In the run-up to last August’s primary election, Grant faced fellow Republican Miriam Steinberg. Because no Democrat filed to run for the seat, the Grant-Steinberg contest would have appeared on the General Election ballot to allow Democrats and independent voters to weigh in. As sometimes occurs in Florida, however, a lesser known write-in candidate named Daniel Matthews stepped in and filed to run for the seat, essentially closing the election to Republicans. With the write-in having little chance of winning in the general election, the winner of the Republican primary was virtually guaranteed the seat.

Grant has denied knowing Matthews or convincing him to file.

Steinberg’s husband, however, sued, arguing that the write-in candidate, a resident of Northdale living in Tallahassee where he was attending school, was not a legal resident of the district. While a Leon County circuit judge agreed and pulled Matthews from the ballot, an appellate court later reversed the decision, ruling that candidates must be residents of the district only at the time of the election. In the meantime the primary and general elections played out with warnings to voters that the results of the elections might not count. Incumbent Grant handily won nearly 60 percent of the vote in the General Election.

The court ruling, however, effectively tossed those election results out. In early November, the election was thrown to the Florida Legislature, which has the power to determine its membership in such matters. The legislature could have dispersed with the matter by reappointing Grant.

Grant, who was drawn out of his district by fellow Republicans during redistricting three years ago (forcing him to move out of his parents’ home and back into the district), still wasn’t feeling the love. The state legislature, dominated by Republicans, unanimously declared the District 64 seat vacant, leaving it to Governor Rick Scott to call a special election at an estimated cost in Hillsborough County alone of $300,000.

Grant has indicated he will run for election again.

Westchase residents may file to run in the special election by petition (including 287 valid signatures from registered voters in the district) or by paying a qualifying fee ($1,781.82 for party candidates or $1,187.88 for non-partisan candidates). Petition signatures must be submitted by Dec. 9, 2014. Candidates must also qualify for the election by filing required paperwork between Dec. 15 at 8 a.m. and noon on Dec. 16. For more information on qualifying, visit http://www.votehillsborough.org selec,t the link for Candidates & Committees and visit the Running for Office page.

Early voting for the Feb. 10 primary will run Jan. 31 through Feb. 7. Early voting for the April 21 General Election will run April 11 through April 18.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Real Estate Round Up, October 2014

Address

Sold
Price

Days on Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft.

Beds

Full Baths

Half Baths

Sq. Ft. Heated

Pool

9836 Bridgeton Dr.

215,000

84

117.61

3

2

0

1,828

N

11820 Easthampton  Dr.

273,000

20

157.99

3

2

0

1,728

N

9907 Hartwell Bridge  Cir.

286,000

54

178.97

3

2

0

1,598

Y

11802 Lancashire  Dr.

300,000

80

177.30

3

2

0

1,692

Y

11823 Easthampton Dr.

314,500

174

160.46

3

2

0

1,960

Y

9007 Spring Garden Way.

325,000

0

151.52

4

2

1

2,145

N

12013 Wandsworth Dr.

345,000

132

134.19

4

3

0

2,571

Y

11817 Lancashire  Dr.

350,000

91

185.58

3

2

0

1,886

Y

10733 Ayrshire  Dr.

350,000

49

168.92

4

2

0

2,072

Y

9613 Woodbay  Dr.

400,000

84

162.07

4

3

0

2,468

Y

10308 Green Links  Dr.

425,000

108

163.02

3

2

1

2,607

N

10537 Greensprings  Dr.

510,000

26

173.88

4

3

0

2,933

Y

10308 Greenhedges  Dr.

515,000

39

164.12

4

3

0

3,138

Y

11916 Wandsworth  Dr.

550,000

7

187.27

4

3

1

2,937

Y

Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

VMs Put Finishing Touches on Westchase Owners’ Manual

The Nov. 11 Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting saw discussion of a short manual providing Westchase newcomers an orientation to community rules.

At the meeting VMs also voted unanimously to give their final approval of the new Berkeley Square exterior paint palette and were reminded to make their nominations for the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award. 

Their main agenda item, however, was their review and discussion of the Owner Manual created by the Rental Committee.  The Rental Committee was created at the April Voting Members meeting, where concerns were brought up about rental properties within Westchase.  The committee has been meeting and offered several suggestions including the preparation of a short manual that the Westchase Community Association (WCA) could hand to new residents when they move into the community.  The manual would contain links to the World of Westchase as well as the WCA and CDD Web sites. VMs aimed to have it also contain other information pertinent to new residents. 

The Bridges VM, Cynde Mercer, who chaired the Rental Committee, suggested creating the document at the October Westchase Voting Members meeting and several VMs voiced their support for using it to welcome new residents and provide them information.  Mercer reported that the PDF document is undergoing final tweaks and then will go to the WCA Board for approval. 

VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) requested some rewording to the section that described what a VM does and what a board member does.  Quiros said that he simply wanted the verbiage to match the wording in Westchase’s governing documents so as not to confuse new residents. Quiros’ suggested modifications have been provided to Association Manager Debbie Sainz, who will then give any final changes to Mercer. 

Next, Voting Member Mary Mirk, (Berkeley Square) expressed concern about residents’ ability to use the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s pool for lap swimming.  Mirk said that currently the swim team uses all of the lanes of the pool from 3-7:30 p.m. every night of the week and Saturday mornings.  She said that while residents can use the West Park Village pool from 3-8:30 p.m., the pool off Countryway Boulevard is more convenient for Berkeley Square residents.  She said, “We pay money to use the pools. We live in the area. It is inconvenient to go to the other pool.”

Mirk also said that parking at the other pool has been difficult when she visited.  Mirk recalled that the board had previously kept at least one lane open for lap swimmers and she felt that could be a viable solution.  Stating she simply wanted to keep one lane reserved for lap swimmers, she noted, “I am not opposed to the swim team.”

A vote to have the board consider the issue ultimately failed. Mirk said she is not planning to pursue the issue further at this time, but thought some residents may want to take it to the board. 

The last item of the night was a question from VM Don Costello (Stamford) whether the legal work for the WCA would be put out for bid. The association’s 6-year-old legal contract, which recently saw fees rise 12 percent, became an issue leading up to the September board elections. While Costello was informed that the work would be put out to bid, a majority of WCA Directors voted to kill a motion to rebid the contract at that board’s Nov. 13 meeting. 

Because there was no reporter present at the November VM meeting, WOW’s coverage above was compiled after interviews with the WCA president, the association manager and a few VMs who participated in the session.

By Brenda Bennett

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Moves Forward With Tennis Cabana Construction Contract

The Nov. 13 meeting of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors saw the board approve a new construction contract for the Tennis Cabana and defeat a motion to put their 6-year-old legal contract out for bid.

WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga opened the session by presenting a plaque to Nancy Sells for her work on the WCA board. Former director Derrick Sams was not present to receive his plaque.

Arrillaga said that Sells had worked for the board for many years and that she was one of the most active volunteers in Westchase. Sells thanked everyone she had served with last year. She said it had been a challenging year and that she was particularly thankful for Senior Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz and Community Association Manager Charlotte Adams’ help. “I could not have done it with out Debbie and Charlotte’s help and knowledge.”

Swim and Tennis Center Committee Chair Mary Turnbull attended the open forum of the meeting to discuss several issues brought up at previous meetings. First, she encouraged the board to have its own official communication that they were in control of instead of relying on World of Westchase to be their official publication. Next, she told the board that she understood that at last month’s meeting there had been some discussion about her participation on the Swim and Tennis Center Committee. She said that she thought the composition of the committee worked really well together and that it was good to have people who participated in WCA programs and used the facilities in different ways. 

Turning to board business, Arrillaga said that the board’s bank, C1, only has branches in South Tampa and downtown Tampa, and is therefore not convenient for petty cash and vending machine deposits. He suggested that the board open an account at a bank in Westchase just for petty cash and vending machine deposits so the community association manager could easily deposit the money from vending machines and have access to funds to replace the items in the vending machines. Director Brian Ross, however, said he was uncomfortable with that solution and suggested they bring the issue to the WCA’s management company, Greenacre Properties, Inc. (GPI), and ask for their solution. All agreed to table the discussion until January when they would have more information.

All board members voted to deny a fine appeal for a house on Springrose Drive despite the fact that the violation had been corrected. Arrillaga read a recommendation from Covenants Committee Chair Bill Flood who wrote to the board that while he tries to be lenient on fine appeals when violations have been corrected, the same issue had happened repeatedly at the same address over several years. He therefore recommended against dropping the fine. A representative for the homeowners said that they lived out of the country and had not been receiving the violation notices. Ross asked him if the homeowners had filed their lease with the WCA office. He was told they had previously not done so but that now the lease was on file.  

Ross had some objections and changes to Government Affairs Committee Chair Joe Odda’s proposed petition concerning needed road repairs in Westchase. The petition will be sent to County Commissioner Sandy Murman. Ross said that he felt that the petition should not come from the WCA but should instead be broadened to come from all Westchase residents and business owners. WCA Director Dyan Pithers said that she thought the language should be broadened to include anyone who drives on Westchase streets.

Ross said he also objected to Odda’s recommendation that association management resources be used to administer the petition. He said he thought the association’s resources should be used for their core duties. Board members first voted 3-4 against Odda’s original motion that the petition be sent from the WCA board and a GPI employee be the one to administer the petition. Pithers, Ross and Directors Ken Blair and Kathy Carlsen cast the dissenting votes. Next, board members voted 5-2 in favor of Ross’ motion that the petition language be broadened to include everyone who uses and has concerns about the public roads in Westchase and that association resources not be used to administer the petition. Odda and Heinemann cast the dissenting votes.

As part of their master plan for the community, the board has been planning renovations and additions to Westchase’s tennis courts, including construction of a new Tennis Cabana. The board was hoping to receive a $40,000 grant from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to help pay for the new building. However, the USTA only gave $10,000 for the project. At last month’s meeting Arrillaga reported there was money in the budget to fund the project and the board decided to talk to the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) about the change in funding. Arrillaga reported that VMs had only positive comments about the proposed funding changes and renovations. He also said that he had received a new bid on the project from Southern Bay Contractors that was less than the original bid. All voted in favor of accepting Southern Bay Contractors bid pending verification of license and insurance.

Arrillaga told the board that there were three nominations for the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award and that two of the nominations were for a Westchase couple. Board members voted 6-1 in favor of Blair’s motion that Nancy and Dale Sells be the recipients of this year’s Nathan Lafer award. Ross said he was casting the dissenting vote, not because he thought the Sellses were un-deserving, but to show support for his nominee, Mary Griffin.

Arrillaga said that at a previous meeting the board had approved late fees for the swim programs but not the tennis programs. He said there was a problem with people showing up for drop-in tennis sessions or clinics and not paying. Pithers said that due to the structure of the tennis programs, it did not make sense to incorporate late fees and that if people hadn’t paid, they should not be playing. Board members voted 6-1 in favor of instituting a $10 late fee for the tennis programs with Pithers casting the dissenting vote.

All directors voted in favor of Blair’s motion to accept Shade America’s bid to install shade structures at both community pools and Ross’ amendment that a two-year workmanship warranty, 20-year post warranty, and 10-year sail warranty be included.

Ross then made a motion to begin a bid process for the WCA’s more than 6-year-old legal contract, which recently saw Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick raise their fees by 12 percent. Arrillaga, Blair, Odda, and Pithers, however, voted against Ross’ motion, thus killing it. Arrillaga said that he did not support the motion because he has been extremely happy with their current legal team and thinks they are currently getting excellent service.

All voted in favor of spending $3,000 to repair the tennis courts at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countyway Boulevard and $3,500 to repair the tennis courts in West Park Village after both have been resurfaced.

All voted in favor of purchasing 100 Westchase medallions for $646. Board members will decide at a later date who should receive the medallions. Ross suggested they be used to inspire people to volunteer within the community. Blair said that they should not replace the current plaques and awards that the WCA gives but should instead be given as a way to recognize new people.

The next WCA Board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Seeks Applicants for 2015 WOW Scholarships

Have you proven yourself a scholar with a dedication to community service? If so, there’s a college scholarship you should know about.

World of Westchase is seeking applicants for its college scholarship program for students whose high school careers reflect a commitment to both academics and community service. The WOW Scholars Program is open to Westchase residents who are high school seniors (or home-schooled students) and who will attend their first year of college in 2015. Eligible Westchase students have a parent or guardian residing within the boundaries of the Westchase Community Association (WCA), including residents of the West Park Village Apartments and Lexington apartments.

Since the inception of the program in 2006, the WOW Scholars program has awarded  dozens of scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, to Westchase college-bound students. Last year WOW awarded six $2,000 scholarships; winners were also featured in our June cover story.

Interested applicants must fill out an application, which can be downloaded by clicking here. The completed application and supporting materials must be postmarked by Feb. 15, 2015.

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 on 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD Hires Designer for Park Renovation Master Plan

Westchase’s parks were the primary topic at the Nov. 5 meeting of the Westchase CDD.

At the session, supervisors tackled the hiring of a designer for a Park Renovation Master Plan and the best way to address offensive behavior by Glencliff Park visitors on weekends.

Opening the meeting, however, District Manager Andrew Mendenhall gave the oath of office to  Community Development District (CDD) Supervisors Greg Chesney and Mark Ragusa, who were reelected without opposition during the Nov. 4 General Election. The two will serve four-year terms.

Mendenhall and CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart of Stantec then informed supervisors that only one designer had submitted a formal response to the district’s Request for Qualifications to hire a designer for expected park renovations. A capital improvement project to renovate Baybridge and Glencliff Parks’ playground equipment was triggered by a recent report that the equipment, dating to at least 2004, was out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In October supervisors voted to advertise that they would hire a designer for the parks, whose plans will be later put out to bid.

While three design firms initially requested information, only one – an engineer that contracts with Stantec, the district’s current engineering firm – actually submitted a formal response. Supervisors, however, expressed contentment with the results. “I was pretty impressed with their body of work,” Chesney stated.

“My desire is we move forward to begin negotiations with Stantec,” stated CDD Supervisor Brian Ross.

Supervisors voted unanimously to instruct their attorney to hammer out a design contract with the firm. The board appeared to back the development of a Parks Master Plan cataloging possible uses and development of the district’s green spaces.

CDD Chair Mark Chesney, however, offered initial pushback to the broad scope of the design request. He instead expressed a desire to focus the capital improvements project simply on bringing the two parks into compliance with the ADA. “I see a tremendous project creep. It gives me great concern.”

While saying he wasn’t averse to undertaking other projects at some point, Ragusa added, “It seems we are throwing in everything we’ve ever discussed.”

His argument that the catalogue of parks wasn’t really necessary, however, won no support from other supervisors, who backed Ross’ suggestion that the district needed a formal Parks Master Plan for the sake of continuity and planning.

“You and I are in disagreement,” Ross politely stated to Ragusa. “What I’m advocating is to broaden the scope.” Reiterating his desire for a master parks plan, he said, “There may be things out there we haven’t thought of.”

Ross clarified that he wasn’t advocating the district fund all projects suggested by the designer. Stating he simply wanted the designer to present options and concepts that other master planned communities are currently embracing for their green spaces, he concluded, “We may decide we don’t have the dough.”

Ragusa offered a compromise that the project be broken into two parts. The first would entail the creation of a catalog of green spaces and parks as well as their potential uses – essentially a 20 to 25-year master plan for their development and use. Included would be the CDD’s recently acquired land between Stonebridge and The Vineyards as well as a potential rethinking of the use of the West Park Village green’s band shell and spray pad.

The second portion of the design plan would specifically tackle renovations to the playground areas of Glencliff and Baybridge Parks to bring them into compliance with the ADA.

“I have no objection,” responded Ross.

Turning to issues with park visitors, supervisors heard from Glencliff residents Judy Servidio and Bill Lehman who addressed an Oct. 26 gathering at Glencliff Park involving a large party of young men. The group, Servidio reported, played amplified music with offensive lyrics, behaved in an aggressive fashion, consumed alcohol and used a large grill – all in violation of district rules for the parks. When residents called the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Servidio added, the responding deputy incorrectly insisted she had no enforcement abilities because it was an open county park.

Westchase’s parks are owned by the CDD. While they must be kept open to all county residents, the CDD can establish rules for their use, which are enforced through an agreement the district has with the HCSO.

Servidio detailed other issues with teens partying, lighting fires and leaving trash along the walking trails at the rear of the park.

Supervisors responded that the deputy did have enforcement rights under a district agreement. They directed CDD Attorney Erin McCormick to communicate with the HCSO to clarify that the district did want its park rules enforced and violators issued trespass warnings. To help matters, supervisors directed staff to post park rules within the parks.

Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated he would ask the district’s off-duty deputy patrol to step up visits to the park during weekend daylight hours and ask the district’s landscaping contractor to do a better job about checking the park’s trails for trash.

In other actions, Chair Ragusa questioned why a second speed hump was included outside The Greens exit gate. Stating the area had an issue with drivers speeding up to make the green light at the intersection of Gretna Green and Linebaugh, Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated it was installed to enhance safety for pedestrians and the guards stepping out of the guardhouse. CDD Office Administrator Sonny Whyte added the hump also slowed cars so that their tags could be captured by the exit gate cameras.

Supervisors approved an overage of $945 spent on the acquisition of a sidewalk grinder, which cost just under $5,000. Field Supervisor Doug Mays, however, also added that staff’s recent acquisition of a four by four vehicle, expected to cost $20,000, came in under $15,000.

Supervisors also distributed a plan for The Greens gatehouse that would potentially remove the eight-hour overnight shift and replace it with a remote access system. Designed to save Greens residents money during the overnight hours when visitors are minimal, the savings are meant to offset a possible increase in the gate contract due to federal insurance mandates under the Affordable Care Act. See related article here.

Closing the meeting, supervisors heard from Adolfo Salazar, who spoke on behalf of an informal group of soccer players that use Glencliff Park fields on Sunday mornings. Salazar inquired why the district had recently removed soccer goals used by the group. “We have a soccer field with no goals,” he said. “It’s like playing dolls with no heads.”

Ragusa explained that the goals had been removed because of potential liability from their tipping. “There was an accident involving a child,” Ragusa said. The district chair informed Salazar that the group could either bring their own goals to the field and remove them after play on Sundays or organize into a more formal group and acquire insurance coverage that would protect the group and the district from any claims resulting from accidents. They could then leave the goals locked at the fields – like the Westchase Soccer Association (WSA) does.

Salazar and his companions committed to discussing the idea with their fellow players and returning to a future meeting with a proposal.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:02 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD to Entertain Greens Guardhouse Remote Access on Weekday Evenings

Faced with a possible increase to gatehouse costs for The Greens, supervisors are considering a change to its overnight staffing.

Supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District want Greens resident input at their Dec. 2 meeting, however, prior to making any decision.

At the district’s October meeting, James Davis and Andrea Kingston, representing Securitas, The Greens contracted security company, appeared before supervisors to request the district increase hourly compensation by 85 cents per hour. That amount would cover increased costs associated with providing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, whose coverage mandate, unless delayed again, will go into effect Jan. 1. The increase represents a five percent increase (or $7,600 annually, roughly $18.10 per Greens home) to the current contract, whose costs are paid solely by Greens homeowners. Davis stated that Securitas would cover most of the $2 per hour costs associated with the healthcare mandate. Given the slim profit margins on security contracts, he added, the company needed the district to share the costs.

One way Securitas proposed the neighborhood could offset the cost increase was to replace The Greens’ overnight guard, who sees minimal visitors, with a remote, tele-entry access system. At the Nov. 5 meeting, supervisors discussed the fact that they recently received the requested proposal from Securitas delineating the remote system. The board suggested WOW offer information about the proposal to allow supervisors to gauge Greens’ residents support for the concept.

Securitas proposes removing 32 hours from the Greens weekly coverage, specifically by removing the overnight shifts Sundays through Wednesdays, and adding a tele-entry system to handle those evenings. The gatehouse would be manned by a security guard 24 hours a day Thursdays through Saturdays.

As part of tele-entry access, cameras and a telephone system would be installed on a pedestal just before the current guardhouse entrance. When a vehicle approaches, an image of the vehicle would be broadcast to a remote monitoring center. Using the phone, the visitor would then speak to the remote center, which would check the arriving driver against residents’ visitors log to determine whether to grant access. If necessary, the remote guard would also phone the intended Greens resident’s home to determine if access should be granted.

The system would also be also outfitted with an alarm, which would contact a mobile Securitas officer patrol. That individual would respond in person, should unauthorized access or trespassing occur.

In exchange for installing the equipment at no additional cost to Greens homeowners, Securitas is requesting a three-year contract at a cost of $11,090 per month. The current Greens gatehouse contract, which includes round the clock guards, costs $12,517.95 monthly. That amount does not include the requested 85 cent hourly increase. Under the new proposal, each Greens home would see their CDD neighborhood assessment decline by roughly $40.80 annually.

According to remarks made by Davis and Kingston at the district’s October meeting, at the end of the contract, the district would own the equipment should it decide to change security companies.

Greens residents wishing to offer their opinions on the proposed change are encouraged to reach out to CDD supervisors or their Voting Member.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCF Announces Candidates for Fifth Annual Tampa Bay Woman of the Year

The Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF) is excited to announce its fifth annual Tampa Bay Woman of the Year fund-raising event at the Tampa Jet Center on Saturday, Nov. 22.

The event, which runs from 6-1 p.m., features 19 amazing women who have graciously committed their time and generosity by supporting our mission. "This year we’re creating a ‘Havana Nights’ experience full of cultural performers, VIP cabana-style lounging and a fabulous fashion show presented by South Tampa’s hottest boutiques, Lending Luxury and Urban Body for Men,” said Trey Corish, WCF Treasurer and Event Chair.

Tickets are on sale at http://www.tampabaywoman.org (General admission: $80 per person/$150 couple; VIP: $150 per person/$225 couple) and include endless hors d'oeuvres/open bar served from the best in the bay restaurants, a fabulous array of silent/live auction items, live music, an upscale fashion show, 50/50 raffle and lots of swag and style.

Sponsorship opportunities range from $500 upwards to $25,000. All sponsors will receive VIP tickets (quantity dependent on level), exposure in social media (Facebook and Twitter), inclusion in an official press release and their logos in event program/signage. Higher sponsorships receive reserved seating for the fashion show and additional perks and VIP treatment. For more information, contact Event Chair Trey Corish at 545-8122.

“Tampa Bay Woman of the Year will draw more than 350 guests and 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to helping families in need around the entire Tampa Bay community, not just Westchase. Sarah Jon Porreca, 2013 Tampa Bay Woman of the Year, will return to crown her successor on event night,” said Sean O’Donnell, WCF President.

Anyone can help with this cause by purchasing a sponsorship or ticket to the event, donating a silent or live auction item, or by simply making a donation. Go to http://www.tampabaywoman.org or contact Ronda Woble at (727) 488-9345.

Woman of the Year candidates must be nominated by a WCF board member or past candidate and be in good standing with our communities before being eligible to contend for the title of Tampa Bay Woman of the Year. This is a nine-week long fund-raising campaign where candidates set out into the community to raise funds in a variety of ways such as selling event tickets, obtaining event sponsors, or securing an auction item. All proceeds go directly to support the mission of WCF.

Ahmed Bhutta, WCF Treasurer, said, “Lasts year’s event was a huge success. By moving the event to the Jet Center, that really opened up a lot of opportunities to us. We raised over $75,000. But our goal this year is to gross upwards of $150,000. We need everyone’s support so that we can help families who are dealing with horrific situations…some battling serious illness while others are dealing with challenges of regular chemo treatments while trying to maintain a balanced home life.”

The Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit public charity that relies on fundraising to support those who have a family member battling a serious illness or who have faced with a personal tragedy. The organization is managed solely by volunteer members that donate their time, money and energy to help raise funds while minimizing all expenses. Over the last nine years, WCF has donated in excess of $375,000. Please note that WCF does not receive any government funding and therefore is solely reliant on fundraising activities and corporate sponsorships in order to maintain our mission of supporting families in their time of need. For more information, go to the foundation Web site, http://www.westchasefoundation.org

.

To learn how you can help, please contact Event Chair Trey Corish at 545-8122.

2014 Tampa Bay Woman of the Year Candidates

Chelsea Anderson
Dawn Buck
Kylie Caporuscio
Hollie Christmas
Stephanie Corbo
Lisa Crow
Beth Cupari
Blakley Echeverry
Danielle Faine
Willena Faison
Suzi France
Yngrid Garcia
Kim Gunderson
Lisa Jenkins
Karen Johnson
Tiffani Martinez
Traci Morgan
Crystal Nichols
Theresa Rivera

By Ronda Woble, WCF Vice President, Photos by Lisa Presnail

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Santa Parade Dec. 13

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 that Santa will board his vintage fire truck at 2 p.m. to begin his journey through the streets of Westchase on Saturday, Dec. 13.

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 to each village will appear in December’s WOW. As in the past, unwrapped gifts will be collected along the parade route to support many families at MacDill Air Base and throughout Tampa Bay. Last year over 1,000 gifts were collected and we hope to increase that amount this year.

Please call Dan O’Brien at 679-2364 or Ralph Caputo 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, over $300,000 has been distributed to neighbors in need.

By Dan O’Brien

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Crime: September 2014

Watching cars play chicken with Davidsen Middle Schoolers crossing Linebaugh Avenue each afternoon makes one thing clear.

Many Westchase drivers either don’t understand or choose to ignore crosswalk laws.

If a pedestrian enters a cross-hatched crosswalk when the walk sign is blinking (or when she has a green light), all vehicles must yield to the pedestrian (even if the Don’t Walk sign begins to flash). If a pedestrian is present in a crosswalk that has no signal (like those on Gretna Green Drive in The Fords and The Greens; Montague Street at Westchase Drive; and at the entrance to Keswick Forest/Westchase Swim and Tennis Center), all vehicles must stop, yield and allow the pedestrian to cross before proceeding. If another vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk, it is also illegal to pass it as it could be obscuring your view of a pedestrian.

Before you turn, always check for the presence of pedestrians and joggers. And remember, if you see a pedestrian or jogger in a crosswalk, please observe the law.

Battery-Simple

9/8

9500 Cavendish Dr.                                                                            

Battery-Simple

9/27

9800 Montague St.                                                                             

Burglary Residence / No Force

9/6

10200 Radcliffe Dr.                                                                           

Theft From A Vehicle

9/6

10100 Montague St.                                                                             

Theft From A Vehicle

9/12

11900 Middlebury Dr.                                                                          

Fraud-Swindle

9/4

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave. 

DUI

9/12

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

DUI

9/15

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

DUI

9/19

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.                                                                     

DUI

9/19

Gretna Green Dr./Greencrest Dr.                                                                     

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

9/21

9500 West Park Village Dr.                                                                       

Theft From a Vehicle

9/29

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Grand Theft - All Other

9/10

10500 Montague St.                                                                           

Theft of Bicycle

9/18

12100 Lexington Park Dr.                                                                      

Theft of Motor Vehicle Parts

9/20

9900 Montague St.                                                                           

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

9/27

9800 Montague St.                                                                            

Obstructing Courts

9/18

10100 Kingsbridge Ave.                                                                         

Warrant Out of County

9/2

9800 Montague St.                                                                            

Warrant Out of County

9/2

9800 Montague St.                                                                            

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Fair Food Without the Guilt

How about some nice fair food without leaving Westchase?

Great beer specials, too?

Head on over to the Great Spiedini, the latest resident of the northwest corner of the Westchase Town Center. Born a Southern girl, I was not aware of this southern New York State specialty. One of the great parts of this gig is that I get to learn about regional and global cuisines.

A spiedie consists of cubes of chicken, pork, lamb, veal, venison or beef. The meat cubes are marinated overnight or longer in a special marinade, then grilled on spits over a charcoal pit. High protein, low fat? I’m in! No frozen Tyson Grilled & Ready chicken strips here!

Please, parents, your children deserve better.

One night, for an extended family dinner with Grandpa, we ambled over to check it out. We ordered a Classic Chicken Spiedie, which highlighted the savory marinade. While many people would like the simple meat and bread combination, I personally liked the Greek, Marsala, Parmesan and Mexican options, featuring different cheeses and sauces. The Open Face NY Strip Steak with hot cherry peppers, sautéed onions and mushrooms – served with melted cheese sauce over a slice of toasted Italian bread – was a delicious heart attack. It was Florida State Fair Food elevated to art form.

Coming back down to Earth, the thick ’shroom slice in the Portobello Sandwich was grilled after being marinated in the same sauce. It was an excellent vegetarian option and comes with roasted peppers, alfalfa sprouts and pesto sauce on a ciabatta roll.

The side dishes are all about comfort carbs. Grandma’s Macaroni and Cheese was creamy and cheesy in all the right places. The Salt Potatoes were baby-sized and dressed with butter and herbs. Kind of a conundrum – they were salty on the inside, but in a flavorful way. Meanwhile the Beer Battered Onion Rings with Boom-Boom dipping sauce were crunchy on the outside and sweet on the inside.

If you want to be really good, try the Strawberry Mango Kale Salad. It’s a little incongruous in it’s virtuosity, but the kale, strawberries, mango, sliced almond, avocado and feta cheese were all top-notch fresh. It was also absolutely beautiful in its presentation. The salad was dressed in a sweet-tart mango vinaigrette that was a little overwhelming, so it might be a good choice to order it on the side. An additional light option is ordering your chicken spiedie over a bed of romaine.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is not too exciting, however. While the outside has a pleasant patio, which will become quite lovely as the temperature drops a bit, the inside offers more of a git’r’done approach to eating. It is family friendly and very reasonably priced, however. The Great Spiedini features half-price beer specials every Monday through Friday from 6-8 p.m., making it a no-brainer for a weekday meal.

After an exhausting day at work or with the kids, I look forward to walking on over and getting my fill.

The Great Spiedini
http://www.thegreatspiedini.com
9648 W. Linebaugh
Tampa, FL 33626
749-7522
Hours: Mon-Wed, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Thu, 11 a.m.-midnight; Fri-Sat, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sun, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

By Jill Chesney

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Shout Outs, November 2014

Congratulations to Dylan Swick of The Greens for earning his First Degree Black Belt on Saturday, Oct. 4. Your parents and family are so proud of the nearly five years of dedication and effort you have put into achieving this goal! The Swick family also appreciates Mr. Petrov and the other black belt instructors at Impact Martial Arts for their leadership and encouragement.

Congratulations to Jordan Lowrey of Harbor Links for earning her Girl Scout Gold Award! For her project, Jordan established and ran an art club at the Northwest YMCA. She designed the curriculum, donated the supplies and worked with the kids for over 100 hours. The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting and was the culmination of Jordan's 13 years as a Girl Scout in Troop 772.

WOW wants your Shout Outs, short messages saying congratulations, well-done, thank you or “hey, we have some good news.” Shout Outs should be no longer than 75 words and can include a high resolution photo (JPEG attachments please). Send by e-mail by the fifteenth of the month to editor@westchasewow.com.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, Nov. 2014: Violation Increase Explained

Trust me. You have not been singled out.

There’s no vendetta and nothing personal. During the past couple of years our management team has been doing more frequent and thorough inspections.

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors negotiated a new contract with our management company, GPI, to have additional time and resources for inspections, doubling our night inspections and increasing the day inspections by 50 percent. As a result, violation notifications have increased over 66 percent and we can see the impact already. Our community is over 20-years-old and we need increased property inspections to maintain the picture perfect look we all enjoy.

The side effect is owners are receiving violations for items they had displayed on their property for a couple of years that should have been removed (or they should have been asked to remove) years ago. Owners are now receiving more than one violation. There are also owners who are not familiar with our documents and do not understand why they have to do what is asked on the violation letter.

Among others, the most common complaints are “you are singling me out because I received these violations and I see my neighbor has the same issue or others and I don’t see they are getting violation letters” and “I had this item displayed for a couple of years and now it’s an issue.” The latter I addressed at the top of this column, so let me address the former. You have not been singled out. In general, we do not know who lives in each property and it does not makes a difference. Violations are issued to all properties once they are noticed with no exception. Trust me. I get them as well.

On that same note the board approved a change to our violation policy to discourage association members from sending us many violations from neighbors – essentially becoming the “neighborhood inspector.” I assure you that your neighbors do not appreciate your taking pictures of their properties and neighbors’ disputes can escalate very quickly. We do, however, accept communications if you are concerned about a violation or two. You are welcome to contact our management office to report them.

The association’s violation process and, of course, our governing documents – including those that outline what you are allowed or not allowed to do on your property – are located on http://www.westchasewca.com I rec.ommend you review them again, especially the recent changes.

We have a great management staff and anyone who knows them will attest to that. They are always available to give you extra reasonable time to cure a violation. They can explain why the violation was issued and the process that follows the initial letter. Call them or call your voting member and ask for extra information.
Nov. 1 is our garage sale and Nov. 14 is our next Movie at the Park. Come out and enjoy the movie. More than 400 people of all ages attended last month. They had a great time enjoying a good movie, free popcorn, and quality family time.

As always, please volunteer. Simply call the office and ask how you can help – even with a few hours a year.

By Joaquin Arrillaga, WCA President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Making Memories in Homosassa

Whenever I take my daughter on a trip, I wonder what memories are being created.

I remember a goat eating my raincoat at Wizard of Oz land in North Carolina, getting separated from my group at Disney World while looking at the topiaries, and leaving my suitcase at home the first time I was responsible for packing it.

When I mentioned Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park to my friend Carrie, she said she remembered visiting the park when she moved to Florida as a child. It was one of her favorite places her family visited that summer. That was all the encouragement I needed to plan a visit.

Homosassa is about an hour drive from Westchase. You start your visit to the park at the visitor center, where you can take a boat or tram ride to the main entrance. On the 20-minute boat ride, your guide will tell you about the park’s history and assure you that while you might not spot alligators on the boat ride, you will see wildlife when you get to the park.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park is home to a wide variety of animals indigenous to Florida and one hippopotamus, which is not. There are three resident manatees, cougars, black bears, flamingos, owls and osprey. On the mile-long nature walk through the park you’ll get the chance to view them up close. Volunteers also conduct presentations about the manatees, alligators, hippopotamus and other creatures throughout the day.

The park has changed quite a bit since Carrie’s first visit. Park Service Specialist Susan Strawbridge said that in the past year Homosassa Springs Park has added a shore bird aviary and revamped the manatee viewing area. According to Strawbridge, all of the animals at the park are rescue animals and the park participates in species survival programs for red wolves and whooping cranes. In November when the water temperature in the gulf begins to drop, Strawbridge says you can see up to 80 manatees seeking shelter in the spring’s consistent temperatures.

As any good day trip should, our trip to Homosassa Springs gave us plenty of things to talk about on the drive home. It will be interesting to see what ends up sticking around as a fond memory. Will it be Nicklas spotting a snake outside the reptile house and our ensuing panic that one had escaped from its enclosure? (After pointing the snake out to a nearby park ranger, we were assured it was harmless and was in fact a “wild” snake.) Will it be the underwater observatory where you could come face-to-face with manatees? Will it be the owls who wouldn’t stop staring at us? Will it be the fact that we learned that hippos fling their poo as signs of aggression?

Whatever the kids remember is OK with me, because I’ll always remember that we had a beautiful, fun day with great friends in one of Florida’s coolest state parks.

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park
http://www.floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings/
4150 S. Suncoast Boulevard
Homosassa, FL
(352) 628-5343

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Garage Sale and VM Elections

Finally the cooler, less humid weather is here again!

It’s time to start cleaning out the dresser drawers and closets and get the long-sleeved shirts out. As you are doing that, keep in mind that the bi-annual garage sale was moved to Nov. 1. It’s the perfect way to get rid of some of those items that you no longer use or wear.

As a reminder to everyone, each unit owner will soon be receiving a proxy card to vote for his or her neighborhood Voting Member and alternates. Please return these cards to us as soon as you receive them. It’s important that each neighborhood has a representative to vote on its behalf and to be the voice of your community.

Included with this year’s mail out is a “Contact Info Form.” The association is gathering resident e-mails in order to disseminate important association information to our residents quickly and more efficiently. We must have your written approval on the form provided. Please note that this information will not be used to create a Westchase directory, nor will it be used to provide written notice of violations to any owner. It will only be used for association-related business matters as authorized by you on the form. You can e-mail, fax (813-926-1821) or mail it back to us. (Please note that WOW creates its own unrelated resident directory.).

Within the next few weeks you will be receiving your payment notice for your annual assessment – $319 due Jan. 1. Payment is due no later than Jan 31 in order to avoid a $25 late fee. Be sure to mail in your payment as soon as you receive your notice. You can also drop it off at our office for your convenience.

Now that the summer rains are behind us, we ask all owners to please assess their properties and see what may need a little bit of cleaning – driveways, sidewalks, walkways, fencing, roofs, etc. Maybe install a new layer of mulch to perk up those landscape beds. Just a little bit of sprucing up can make a huge improvement.

We wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Stories That Satisfy Like Novels

Short story collections are always a nice change of pace, especially when there is little time for leisurely reading.

The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol is a perfect choice during the start of the busy holiday season.

The title of Antopol's collection is a play on words. Several characters are dissidents, one even a target of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. But in most of the stories, to be "un-American" means to lack a sense of being anchored in America, to be suspended between cultures.

Antopol crafts deeply sympathetic characters. Each struggles to find his or her place when the past exerts a burden on the present. “The Unknown Soldier,” set during the McCarthy era, centers on a Russian-American apolitical communist. His effort to parlay his Russian persona into a film career backfires, sending him to prison for contempt of Congress. The title character in “My Grandmother Tells Me This Story” escapes a forced labor camp in a harrowing underground flight to join teen partisans in Belarus during World War II. And in "Retrospective” an Israeli man returns to Jerusalem to settle the estate of his American wife's grandmother. The secret that comes out leads him to reexamine the estranged relationship with his wife.

This collection of stories is unusually cohesive. Although the times and places are different, an underlying theme links the pieces. Each story is a complete work, while conceptually connecting with the other tales.

This work could be uncomfortably heavy. Antopol, however, is a master at using witty dialog to counterpoint the weightiness of the content. When one character describes the grilling he once endured in Czechoslovakia, he remarks, “Did they really believe sleep deprivation would crack a father with a newborn?” And a young woman explains to an older man how she knows he’s divorced: “You have that look about you. Like you just ran out of a burning building.”

Engaging story lines and depth of characters make the individual stories in this collection satisfying. The universal themes of family dynamics and hope in the face of unfulfilled expectations unfolding in fresh settings make The UnAmericans altogether memorable.

By Carol Collins

Carol Collins is a member of the Westchase Book Club and can be reached with book suggestions at carolcollins@tampabay.rr.com.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Ricky!

Ricky is a leatherback bearded dragon. He belongs to Merritt Stephens of West Park Village. Ricky is nearly 1-year-old and likes to swim and climb trees. He enjoys trips to local stores as he sits upon Merritt’s shoulder. Ricky’s favorite foods are strawberries, watermelon and tomatoes. He is easy to care for and brings lots of fun to the Stephens home!

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Artists Make Plans for 5th Annual Holiday Market

At the September group meeting, members of the Westchase Artists Society began finalizing plans for the 2014 Westchase Holiday Market.

This year’s Holiday Market will be returning to the Westchase Golf Club on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Holiday shoppers will be able to find the perfect gift, including original paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry and sculpture from local fine artists along with handmade craft items. Proceeds from the event will benefit Autism Speaks.

Applications from fine artists and crafters are still being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until Nov. 22. Additional information and a link to register can be found on http://www.westchaseartists.com (See .Article, Page 20.)

Congratulations to Vanessa Montenegro whose pastel drawing, Body Checking, was selected for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s third annual Open Call for Artists. This year’s jury consisted of management from the Ringling Museum, the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and Penny Vinik. Her artwork will be on display for an entire year at the Amalie Arena on the Suite Floor.

The next group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Upper Tampa Bay Library. Please visit http://www.westchaseartists.com for more information about the evening’s agenda. You can also friend the group on Facebook to stay updated on group activities.

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

By Teresa Trubilla

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Eighty Acres Near Westchase Slated for Development

The project will see 220 townhomes off Sheldon Road.

National homebuilder M/I Homes is developing a new townhome community, West Lake Town Homes, on 80 acres of land near Westchase. The Ohio-based company paid $3.5 million for the land, purchasing it from the Thomas Family trust, which owned the former ranch land on which Westchase is built.

West Lake Town Homes will be built on Sheldon Road north of Linebaugh Avenue next to The Palms at Citrus Park – a Taylor Morrison planned community of 74 single-family homes.

Dave Parker, M/I Homes vice president of sales and marketing, said that the company is planning to build 96 townhomes in the initial phase with a total of 220 townhomes when the community is complete. “The townhomes will be 1,500 to 2,200 square feet. They will range in price from low $200,000 to the mid $200,000. The complex will include a pool cabana and children’s playground.”

Parker says that the only access road will be off Sheldon Road and that the subdivision is currently zoned for Deer Park Elementary, Farnell Middle, and Sickles High School. The homes in The Palms at Citrus Park are also currently zoned for the same schools.

Parker says that M/I Homes hopes to begin open sales in the middle of February.

Taylor Morrison’s Jennifer Bouanani said that they began preselling lots in October and should have a model complete in November.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

The World’s Friendliest Cookie Lady

"Will that be chocolate chip or sprinkles, honey?"

Whether it’s a quick stop for game snacks or a longer visit for your weekly shopping, visiting Publix without running into someone you know is quite near impossible.

No one you meet, however, offers a more enthusiastic greeting than the world’s friendliest cookie lady.

JoAlice Snyder, known to most patrons of the bakery department as “Miss Jo,” has served Westchase residents baked goods with a broad smile and cheerful demeanor for almost 15 years. Adults enjoy the time she spends with them at the bakery counter while making decisions on birthday cakes or pastries. Children hide behind the bananas until Miss Jo approaches the counter to dole out a complimentary cookie. Then they dash up to receive a joyful greeting as they ponder chocolate chip or sprinkle delight.

Young or old, Miss Jo makes everyone feel special.

Snyder was born in Tampa at McDill Air Force Base. She bears the name of both her parents, Joe and Alice. As her father served in the Air Force, her family moved around the world to be near him. The longest distance they traveled was to Norway during her elementary school years. She explained military life in the 1950’s was far different than it is for those serving today. There was no base with a commissary. One building was used as both church, where they held Sunday school classes, and medical station, where children would get their immunization shots. Children in kindergarten through eighth grade attended one school while children in ninth through twelfth grades would be boarded out to other countries to attend school abroad.
No matter where they were in the world, Snyder remembers the Thanksgiving holidays fondly. “It didn’t matter where we were, my mom always had it all together with the traditional meal,” she said.

If ingredients were hard to find, her aunts would ship whatever they needed to make the meal complete.

In 1969, Snyder made her way back to Tampa to be near family again. She is now mom to daughter Cindy, grandmother to Cory, Ashley and Kayla and great-grandmother to Beyonce and Sean. Family fun is spent on the local beaches or shopping with her grandchildren. In December of 1999, Snyder entered the Publix at Westchase and noticed a “Help Wanted” sign. “I asked for an application and I spoke with a representative. Then I was hired the next day,” she recalled.

She started in the bakery baking bread. As a great-grandmother, one might imagine she started in the bakery because of her love of baking. Not so, said Snyder. “I don’t bake at home unless it’s with my granddaughter,” she said with a bashful giggle.

Her day typically begins on the early shift as she arrives by 7 a.m. She works the front line of the bakery waiting on customers, packaging breads and donuts or working the icing stating for pecan rings and donuts. She has never considered changing store locations. “I love this community. Everyone makes you feel like part of the family,” she said.

The best part, she added, is watching whom she calls her “cookie kids” grow up. Many still come by for a visit occasionally when they’re in the Westchase community visiting family.

Though her job requires standing and constant movement all day, Miss Jo manages to keep smiling and greeting customers with heartfelt joy. She seems truly happy to each customer. This consistency, she explained, is the result of always starting over as a child as her family moved many times. “We were always the new kids and we were always looking to make new friends.”

With the holidays fast approaching, Snyder is gearing up for the anticipated crowds and busy shoppers. Special items like pumpkin, sweet potato and pecan pies will be added to the choices in the bakery. The turkey dinner donation drive will begin near the end of October and will run through the end of the year. Last year, more than 200 dinners were donated to Feeding America and the Children’s Home. She is ready for the challenge of the increased workload, she said, and is looking forward to the holiday season.

Store manager Dan Damron speaks highly of Snyder and her interaction with customers and co-workers alike. “She’s phenomenal. She’s our standard and we try to get new employees to work with her when they begin,” he said.

Miss Jo has a Thanksgiving wish for Westchase residents. “I wish them a great holiday with happiness and love.”

Well said from a person who shares both with everyone she greets.

By Lisa Stephens

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Events Calendar, November 2014

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

DUNEDIN FINE ARTS CENTER ANNUAL HOLIDAY SHOW

Date: Sat, Nov. 1
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Dunedin Fine Arts Center
For more information: http://www.dfac.org
Ages: All

Shop for the art lover in your life at this annual art show. More than 100 artists will participate in this art celebration, now in its 28th year. The art will be for sale, along with decorated themed trees and a selection of hard-to-find gifts.

WESTCHASE SUNDAY MORNING MARKET

Date: Sundays, Nov. 2-Nov. 23
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Westchase Town Center
Ages: All

Stock up on all of your favorite organic produce, cheese and baked goods at this weekly market. The road will be blocked off between Tijuana Flats and Burger 21 to make way for up to 40 vendors. In addition to food, there will also be handmade soaps, all natural pet snacks and allergen-free cosmetics.

FIRST FRIDAYS CONCERT SERIES

Date: Fri, Nov. 7
Time: 5-9 p.m.
Price: Free admission
Location: Westchase Town Center, from the fountain to Maloney's
For more information: http://wobusa.com/Locations/Westchase
Ages: All

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

VETERANS DAY CELEBRATION

Date: Tue, Nov. 11
Time: 11 a.m.
Price: Free
Location: Safety Harbor Marina
For more information: http://www.cityofsafetyharbor.com
Ages: All

The City of Safety Harbor, American Legion Post 238, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10093 will present a salute to all of those brave men and women who have served and are currently serving our country.

MOVIES IN THE PARK

Date: Fri, Nov. 14
Time: 7 p.m.
Price: Free
Location: West Park Village Town Center Green on Montague Street
For more information: http://westchasewca.com/
Ages: All

Movies start at sundown. Bring chairs and blankets and insect repellent and settle in for a great movie night. Free Birds will be showing in November.

FARM CITY DAY

Date: Sat, Nov. 15
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Price: Free
Location: Heritage Village, Largo
For more information: http://www.pinellascounty.org/heritage
Ages: All

This is the kickoff event for Farm City Week, which was created to enhance links between rural and urban dwellers. Hands-on activities will include making butter and ice cream at the "dairy barn," milking goats, petting chickens and bunnies, and agriculturally themed arts and crafts.

SANDING OVATIONS SAND SCULPTURES AND MUSIC FESTIVAL

Date: Wed, Nov. 19-Sun, Nov. 23
Time: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.         
Price: Free
Location: Bilmar Beach Resort, Treasure Island
For more information: http://mytreasureisland.org/visitors/events.php
Ages: All

Treasure Island is known as the sand sculpture capital of Florida, and this event alone is worth the visit! Witness eight master sand sculptors competing against each other while enjoying crafts, food, drinks and kids' activities.

THE FLORIDA ORCHESTRA: THE SCIENCE OF SOUND

Date: Sat, Nov. 22
Time: 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Price: $5 per person (at Florida Orchestra ticket center in advance or at the door based on availability)
Location: MOSI, Tampa
For more information: http://www.floridaorchestra.org
Ages: All

Have you ever wondered what makes a sound? Why are some high and some low? What is a vibration? Come find out with the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and musicians of The Florida Orchestra! Join us for Musical Playtime, starting 45 minutes prior to the concert. Activities will include an instrument petting zoo, musical games, stories and other learning opportunities.

TAMPA BAY WATER SKI TEAM HOLIDAY SHOW

Date: Sat, Nov. 29
Time: 4 p.m. (pre-show 3:30 p.m.)
Price: Free
Location: Home Site at 130 Burbank Road, Oldsmar
For more information: http://www.tampawaterski.com
Ages: All

Ring in the holidays with this fan favorite festive holiday show! The last show of the year for this team is sure to be a great one! Shows feature ballet lines, bare footers, jumpers, pyramids and more. Seating is available or bring a lawn chair or blanket.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Second Quarter Off to a Great Start at Davidsen

It’s hard to believe that the first nine weeks have come and gone at Davidsen.

Much was accomplished during the first quarter. First, congratulations are in order for all of the PHD students who earned straight A’s during the first nine weeks. Those students will be honored with a special breakfast on Nov. 7.

A number of students also channeled their creative sides to create an entry for this year’s Reflection’s theme, “The World Would be a Better Place If….” As always, the entries are impressive. As a thank you for all of their efforts, participants will be treated to a breakfast later this month. Awards will be announced at a later date. Good luck to all who participated!

The eighth grade class cast their votes to decide the theme for this year’s dance and the winner is…A Night Under the Stars! Fundraising efforts for the dance are also well underway. Many thanks to our Westchase McDonald's for hosting a monthly Spirit Night to help raise funds for a fabulous and free dance for our graduating eighth graders in May. The Spirit Night is held the first Tuesday of every month from 5-8 p.m. (dine-in, take-out or drive-thru) and no flyer is needed. We hope to see you there!

Also, thanks to everyone who came out to the Burger 21 Spirit Night in September! Many thanks to Burger 21 for their support of our fund-raising efforts. We are so lucky to be in such a supportive community!

The second nine weeks promise much excitement as well. Next up is The Great American Teach In, which will take place Nov. 20. Volunteers are needed to make this event a success. If you have a career or a hobby that you would like to share with the students, please contact Leslie Blaze at ldblaze@aol.com. This is a great opportunity to share your knowledge with students and inspire them to consider their future goals.

The next conference night has been scheduled for Dec. 3 from 5-7:30 p.m.

If you are looking for a way to be involved with the Davidsen PTSA, it is never too late. Volunteers are always needed and are greatly appreciated. Keep track of upcoming events by visiting the PTSA Web site at http://www.davidsenptsa.org or like us on Facebook by entering key words Davidsen Middle School PTSA.

We wish all of our Dragons and their families a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Important Dates

NOVEMBER
4 PTSA Board/Committee Meeting
4 McDonald's Spirit Night
7 Report Cards/PHD Breakfast
20 Great American Teach-in
24-28  Thanksgiving Break

DECEMBER
2  PTSA Board/Committee Meeting
2 McDonald's Spirit Night
3  Conference Night
22  Winter Break Begins

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Diet Can Change Your Brain

Dementia and other brain-related diseases are not just on the rise, but are becoming epidemic.

Someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds in the U.S.

The conditions’ rise is not explained by genetics alone. Rather, it is the influence of our lifestyles and environment, which pull the trigger and set these devastating conditions in motion.

In his groundbreaking research at the National Institutes of Aging, Dr. Mark Mattson has found that calorie-restricting mice that have been bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease can dramatically slow down dementia’s onset.

The mice, which would normally develop Alzheimer’s disease at a human-age equivalent of 45, delayed the onset of memory problems by an astounding 20-22 human years when fed through intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a way to restrict calories, but not on a regular, daily basis. It is done by significantly reducing calorie intake for a designated period of time, and only periodically.

Human studies on intermittent fasting have several variations. One popular approach restricts calories to 500-600 calories per day on two non-consecutive days per week as described by Dr. Michael Mosley in his 2013 book, the Fast Diet.

After personally testing different types of intermittent fasting programs, Mosley settled upon the aforementioned program and after five weeks documented the following changes in his own health:

• A reduction in body fat from 27 percent to a healthy goal of 19.1 percent
• A reduction in blood glucose from pre-diabetes to normal ranges
• A 50 percent reduction in IGF-1, a hormone linked with various cancers
• A significant drop in harmful LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL

How can this alternate style of eating be so incredibly powerful that is might preserve our brains, or at least slow its deterioration? The answer seems to be that the brain can produce certain growth factors, most notably, BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). In Mattson’s mouse model, animals that were intermittently fasted literally gave birth to new brain cells (a process known as neurogenesis) as a result of increasing BDNF.

Knowing we have some ability to slow or prevent the diseases that are stealing the core of loved ones, family, and friends is an affirmation of just how powerful our diet can be.

By Christine Miller, RD, LD/N

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Homes Sold in September, 2014

Address

Sold
Price

Days on
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft.

Beds

Full
Baths

Half
Baths

Sq. Ft.
Heated

Pool

12386 Berkeley Square Dr.

128,000

5

111.11

2

1

1

1,152

N

12314 Berkeley Square Dr.

130,000

40

112.85

2

1

1

1,152

N

10506 Cranleigh Ct.

180,000

109

80.46

4

2

1

2,237

N

9508 W Park Village Dr. # 104

210,000

63

116.73

3

2

1

1,799

N

9528 W Park Village Dr.

225,000

5

154.96

3

2

1

1,452

N

9918 New Parke Rd.

235,000

2

161.85

3

2

1

1,452

N

9807 Gingerwood Dr.

253,000

34

163.86

2

2

0

1,544

N

9978 Stockbridge Dr.

290,000

47

148.26

3

2

0

1,956

Y

9204 Woodbay Dr.

306,750

70

129.49

3

3

1

2,369

N

9913 Stockbridge Dr.

315,500

39

161.30

3

2

0

1,956

Y

11826 Lancashire Dr.

334,000

6

159.05

4

3

0

2,100

Y

9611 Gretna Green Dr.

349,900

6

186.41

3

2

0

1,877

N

9632 Gretna Green Dr.

350,000

236

165.56

3

2

0

2,114

N

9848 Bayboro Bridge Dr.

350,000

45

193.37

3

2

0

1,810

Y

10511 Rochester Way

358,000

51

175.92

4

2

0

2,035

Y

10207 Woodford Bridge St.

374,900

9

150.74

4

2

1

2,487

N

10613 Weybridge Dr.

375,000

56

171.94

4

3

0

2,181

Y

10135 Kingsbridge Ave.

400,000

22

153.26

4

3

0

2,610

Y

9404 Cavendish Dr.

405,000

20

121.62

4

3

1

3,330

N

9512 Greenpointe Dr.

406,000

26

182.55

4

3

0

2,224

Y

11910 Middlebury Dr.

445,000

71

170.69

4

3

0

2,607

Y

10617 Tavistock Dr.

475,000

6

154.47

4

3

0

3,075

Y

10110 Rowlett Way

490,000

110

150.31

4

3

1

3,260

N

10307 Greenhedges Dr.

543,500

107

150.01

4

4

0

3,623

Y

11807 Marblehead Dr.

700,000

186

166.87

5

4

1

4,195

Y

 Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Franklin Boys Aim to Honor Gold Star Families

Hillsborough County Magnet School Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy needs help to honor families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Hershel W. Williams served as a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.  After taking part in the invasion of Guam, Hershel was directed to Iwo Jima in early 1945, where he was positioned in the Firethrower and Demolition unit.

The Americans, exposed to enemy fire, were taking huge casualties.  Williams’ unit had landed with their six flamethrower men and had lost them all in two days without advancing more than 50 yards. Hershel, however, ultimately defeated many pillboxes, enabling the Marines to advance. For his bravery he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman. 

Before serving in the war, Hershel, then 18, was a West Virginia cab driver who delivered death notice telegrams from the War Department to devastated families. Now Hershel’s goal is to build a monument to honor the Gold Star Families in all 50 states.  Gold Star Families are those that have suffered the loss of a loved one serving in the military.  Hershel “Woody” Walker has selected Franklin Middle Magnet to be the site for the State of Florida’s Gold Star memorial monument. 

Franklin students under the guidance of Grade 8 Social Studies teacher Michael Tolbert have undertaken a school-wide, student-centered effort to honor the families who have sacrificed so much for our nation. 

Mikal Willeke and Jackson Sullivan of Westchase both attend Franklin and have been working on this project.  Franklin students have worked very hard over the last two years mailing letters, washing cars and attending a multitude of veterans’ events. They have raised close to $35,000 of the $45,000 needed to build this monument. They need your help to make it a reality.

To learn more about this project or donate to this special cause visit http://www.hwwmohfoundation.org/tampa.html

.

By Mikal Willeke

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive Nov. 23

When it comes to hunger in America and Tampa Bay, there’s stereotype and then there’s reality.

The stereotype? Consider the lazy, luxury car driving welfare queen mooching off the government and others’ generosity.

Speak to any volunteer at any of Tampa Bay’s food banks, and they’ll tell you this: that stereotype doesn’t match up with the families walking through their doors.

The Facts

The actual numbers tell a different story – and testify to the importance of regular contributions to local food banks.

Two-thirds of food bank families with children have at least one working adult, usually with a full-time job. But a minimum wage job in Florida pays $15,860 annually before taxes.

Enter another misconception: only teenagers make the minimum wage.

Actually 76 percent of those earning the minimum wage are 20 or older. Fifty-five percent of those making the minimum are women.

In Tampa, the average one-bedroom apartment rents for $844 monthly and rent for a two-bedroom apartment averages $1,002. Average monthly childcare expenses in Tampa range from $800-1,000. Now add in transportation costs to get to and from work.

Further, in recent years, inflation has eaten into the minimum wage (currently $7.93 in Florida and $7.25 nationally). The wage would need to be more than $11 per hour to equal its buying power in the late 1960s.

Federal cuts to SNAP, formerly called food stamps, totaled $5 billion just last November. How generous are food stamps? If you received the maximum amount, you would be allocated a total of $5.34 to spend on dinner for three people.

Of the 48 million Americans who live in food-insecure homes, more than half are white and more than half live outside of cities. Food insecurity in the U.S. has jumped fivefold since the 1960s and 57 percent since just the late 1990s.

Closer to home, of the 1.3 million residents of Hillsborough County, one out of six lives beneath the poverty level; for them, food runs out at least once per year. Food insecurity stalks rural parts of the county and even Tampa’s suburbs.

Were it not for free school breakfast and lunch programs, a significant number of Tampa Bay kids would not eat today. In total, 3,552,000 Floridians, or 18 percent of the state, relies on food assistance from the government to avoid hunger.

If local children are to eat over this Thanksgiving break, they need a helping hand from you.

A Hope-filled Hand

On Nov. 23 your Westchase neighbors will be gathering at Westchase Elementary School before fanning out into Westchase’s villages to collect donations for Metropolitan Ministries. The community’s food drive has grown by leaps and bounds since its inauguration seven years ago. The drive was established by Ben Stein of Harbor Links/The Estates as part of his Eagle Scout project.

“Westchase has been an incredible holiday partner of Metropolitan Ministries since 2009,” said Tammy Charles, Metropolitan Ministries’ Manager of Community Donations. “Since then, residents have donated over 70,133 pounds of food including over 750 turkeys and served more than 2,000 needy families during the holidays. Last year alone, Westchase blessed over 700 families with 22,436 pounds of food and over 300 turkeys.  With their generous efforts, Westchase brings so much hope to so many of our hungry neighbors during the holidays.”

If you’ve never participated in the food drive, a number of generous business leaders have stepped forward to offer encouragement. They are offering to match your donations to enhance resident participation. Josh Butts of Cornerstone Insurance has committed to matching one turkey for every two that residents (as a whole) donate (up to 100) while Nancy and Doug Wood of The Wood Team at Coldwell Banker will donate two cans of food for every turkey that residents donate.

In addition, Century Buick of Tampa has committed to donating $250 and collecting donations at their dealership. Pamela Patterson of State Farm Insurance has also committed to donating $250 while Vivian Braaksma, also of State Farm, has committed $100.

When two of the business matchers were asked why they participate, Josh Butts of Cornerstone Insurance commented, “Donating the turkeys is a fun, community, engaging event that allows us to give back. I have been blessed in life and always had a lot of food on the table at Thanksgiving. Donating the turkeys is a small way of helping pass on the blessings to others and I am excited to play a part.”

Nancy Wood of Coldwell Banker also explained why every year her team pulls up with hundreds of canned goods to match residents’ turkey donations. “We just believe in the positive energy of this grass-roots, community effort to help contribute to the greater good. It was a wonderful idea when Ben Stein initiated it for an Eagle Scout project and we are honored to be able to participate in the continued success with the true spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, from Westchase to all over Tampa Bay.”

WOW is looking for even more residents and businesses to participate in the food drive’s matching campaign. Simply e-mail WOW Publisher Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com for information.

WOW also is making a challenge. This year the neighborhood with the highest percentage of  homes donating frozen turkeys will win $300 for a holiday block party. WOW is also offering $250 for a holiday block party to the neighborhood that shows the greatest improvement in household participation over last year. Round up your neighbors, organize their participation and some of your fun this holiday can be on WOW!

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.

How to Help

The Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive gives residents a simple way to help out. 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. 23 (West Park Village residents, however, are asked to place donations out at the curb rather than in the neighborhood’s alleys).

If you’re leaving town before Sunday, Nov. 23, you can still participate. You can drop your donations off early at the Westchase Recreation Center at 9791 Westchase Dr. in The Bridges or 10314 Seabridge Way in The Bridges.  You can also leave them with a neighbor to set out on your driveway the day of the drive. (No frozen turkeys can be dropped off early, however, since no freezer space is available). Please include your address and village name with your donation so that your neighborhood can receive credit.

Westchase volunteers will do the rest. They are already hard at work to ensure the success of this year’s drive. Dozens of your fellow neighbors will canvass Westchase neighborhoods and deliver reminder flyers over the weekend of Nov. 15-16.  On Sunday, Nov. 23, volunteers will then drive through the community 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.

All of our volunteers wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

Can You Top Last Year?

In 2013, 1,000 Westchase homes and apartments donated to the drive. Hundreds of volunteers, including numerous members of Westchase’s Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops, showed up at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center to help sort and load the donations onto three trucks sent to Westchase by Metropolitan Ministries.

In total the drive raised 22,436 pounds of food, including 301 turkeys, marking an historic high. By participating this year, you can help your neighborhood win a block party sponsored by WOW!

Village

Homes Donating

Total  Homes

Participation %

Glencliff

48

48

100.0%

Wycliff

25

30

83.3%

Keswick Forest

51

64

79.7%

Abbotsford

25

40

62.5%

Bennington

54

108

50.0%

Ayrshire

23

49

46.9%

The Greens: Greencrest

23

54

42.6%

The Greens: Greenmont

17

41

41.5%

Radcliffe

63

154

40.9%

Harbor Links

40

109

36.7%

The Bridges: Sturbridge

17

47

36.2%

Brentford

30

85

35.3%

The Bridges: Stonebridge

23

66

34.8%

Castleford

23

69

33.3%

The Bridges: Wakesbridge

29

88

33.0%

Glenfield

31

101

30.7%

The Estates

19

63

30.2%

The Enclave

32

108

29.6%

Saville Rowe

10

36

27.8%

The Greens: Greenpointe

41

153

26.8%

Stamford

16

61

26.2%

The Bridges: Stockbridge

17

65

26.2%

The Greens: Greendale

14

55

25.5%

Village Green

22

90

24.4%

Tree Tops

21

90

23.3%

Kingsford

30

132

22.7%

Cheshire/Derbyshire

42

186

22.6%

The Bridges: Baybridge

23

102

22.5%

Woodbay

31

162

19.1%

Chelmsford

19

100

19.0%

The Greens: Greensprings

20

114

17.5%

The Bridges: Woodbridge

6

40

15.0%

The Greens: Greenhedges

11

94

11.7%

The Vineyards

14

120

11.7%

West Park Village (except Village Green)

63

612

10.3%

Berkeley Square

11

122

9.0%

Thanksgiving Box of Hope

1 frozen turkey
1 box of cereal (hot or cold)
1 can of fruit
2 cans of yams
1 bag or box of stuffing mix
1 loaf of fresh bread
4 cans of vegetables
1 jar of peanut butter
2 bags or cans of black beans
1 bag of rice
1 can or box of potatoes
2 cans of cranberry sauce
1 can or packet of gravy
1 package of cookies or pastries
1 family box of Jell-O or pudding

Metropolitan Ministries: 2013 at a Glance

• 1,632,803 meals provided for hungry people
• 50,865 families helped through outreach services
• 3,022 children clothed
• 3,846 families assisted with essential water and electricity bills
• 22,638 families received holiday assistance
• 1,003 emergency nights at motels were provided for families
• 19,126 children received toys
• More than 21,826 volunteers donated 136,000 hours
• 107 families benefited from Metropolitan Ministries’ Uplift U® residential program

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photos by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, November 2014

Surely it’s occurred to all weekend football widows.

And those guys sitting at restaurant tables across from women who’d rather be having a romantic dinner with their smartphones:

“Perhaps my loved one has joined the unliving.”

“Could be, or maybe they're just not that into you,” observed Frozen Pizza Eater Marty Hamilton of Brentford. “Before you ‘cross the streams’ and call Dr. Egon Spengler, try making your walking dead a sandwich,” he advised.

If you think yours has been zombified, Spengler can confirm it. According to October’s fakery (page 60), the good doctor has abandoned his ghost-busting career to tackle spousal zombie detection.

“Besides, if it's action you seek,” Marty continued, “for a small co-pay Dr. Spengler may be able to mutate your Night of the Living Dead-style zombie into a full on World War Z hyperzombie. Be careful what you wish for.”

The editor thanks his brother, Brian, unliving up in New York, for October’s fake ad. Desperate for a Halloween ad, the editor contacted all of his siblings. Brian hit upon Zombie Busters after the editor rejected several ideas, including non-rotting, genetically modified pumpkins sold under the catch-phrase “They’re Gourd-geous!”

We also congratulate West Park’s Debbie Dawson, upon whom the fake ad gods smiled. Debbie will be taking her favorite zombie to Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

Don’t be a turkey! Get your November fake ad guesses in today!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Favorite Day of the Year

One of my favorite days of the year lands this month on Sunday, Nov. 23.

It’s not because it kicks off a week of no school, meaning I don’t have to roll out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to rouse my high schooler for the bus. (Although that’s kind of nice.)

Nov. 23 is the day of the Westchase’s Thanksgiving Food Drive, organized by WOW to benefit Metropolitan Ministries.

It’s one of a handful of days that annually remind me of how special my community is. It’s a day that makes me thankful to call Westchase home.

Many people think of Westchase as beautifully landscaped medians, well-kept homes and impressive schools.

For me, Westchase is best captured by events like the food drive. Its volunteers – and the residents who will generously participate in the event – represent the special community spirit that’s always been a hallmark of this great neighborhood. That spirit – our strong and proud sense of community – is, by far, Westchase’s greatest selling point.

The food drive volunteers’ enthusiasm and generosity are contagious. I invite you to come out and witness it. As others who participate will tell you, you cannot help but go away feeling moved.

Yet while WOW organizes the Thanksgiving Food Drive each year, it would be inaccurate to claim it as ours.

The drive is actually yours.

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. Some teens will be seeking high school service hours. Other kids will represent 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.

And 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. 23). 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.

As always, we welcome your letters and shout outs and ask that you let our valued advertisers know you saw them in WOW.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Shedding Our Fear of Snakes

Snakes tend to get a bad rap. As if that scaly, slithery appearance isn’t creepy enough, snakes have been associated with evil in Hollywood blockbusters time and time again, making them that much more intimidating when they show up in real life.

Homeowners are therefore often quick to get rid of snakes by any means possible when they encounter them on their property. John Soto, area herpetologist and former senior reptile keeper with the Bronx Zoo, pointed out, however, that when left alone, snakes serve a valuable role in our community.

Snakes help keep the ecosystem in balance. As predators, they eat insects, worms, toads, frogs, fish and sometimes other snakes. Most important, they help keep the rodent population in check. “Rats will do a lot more damage than snakes. They get in attics and gnaw on wires, which can be a fire hazard,” Soto said. Snakes also serve as important prey for birds, mammals and alligators.

When it comes to dealing with snakes, it is important to remember that of the 35 snake species found in central Florida, only four are venomous: the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Pygmy Rattlesnake, the Eastern Coral Snake and the Cottonmouth (also known as the Water Moccasin). The non-venomous varieties most often encountered in Westchase are the Black Racer, the Ringneck, the Garter Snake, the Corn Snake and the Rough Green Snake.

Soto advises homeowners to familiarize themselves with the snakes common to Westchase, paying particular attention to the telltale markings of the four venomous snakes in our area. The Florida Museum of Natural History’s website offers a simplified key for identifying snakes: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/identification

.

Venomous or non-venomous snakes typically do not want anything to do with humans. “Most of the time, when you see a snake in your yard, it is just passing from one place to another and if you leave it be, it will just keep going,” Soto said.

To avoid unwanted encounters with snakes, Soto advises homeowners to keep their yards clear of tall grass, overgrown shrubs or piles of brush, debris or wood – all of which provide excellent hiding spots for snakes.  Soto also reminds homeowners to announce their presence (by stomping feet, rustling bushes with a broom, etc.) when doing yard work, reaching into dark corners of the garage or digging through outdoor storage containers.  “Snakes will run away from you 99 percent of the time. They generally only bite when they are startled,” Soto explained.

If homeowners encounter snakes in their yards, the best course of action is to let them be. They will go away. On occasion, a snake will make its way into a screened enclosure, garage or even a home. For non-venomous snakes that need to be removed, homeowners can follow these steps: Tip a large, empty trashcan onto its side and use a broom to gently "chase" the snake into the trashcan. Then, tip the trashcan upright and, taking care to keep hands away from the open top, replace the lid. If the snake is in the pool, use a pool skimmer in place of the broom. The snake can then be released into the woods.

If the snake is venomous or the homeowner is uncertain of its identity, a professional should be called in. Never attempt to handle a venomous snake.

Fords resident Scott Middlebrooks learned this lesson the hard way through no fault of his own. Four years ago, he was loading a trailer in his driveway in Wesley Chapel in order to make the move to Westchase. It had rained earlier that day, leaving a few puddles. Unbeknownst to Middlebrooks, a young Cottonmouth had claimed a puddle under the trailer. When he went to reach into the trailer, the snake bit Middlebrooks in the knuckles.

Middlebrooks, unaware that a venomous snake had bitten him, went about his business. When the pain in his hand, which he described as “like a jellyfish sting, only more intense,” grew worse, he became concerned. Fortunately the snake hadn’t budged. Middlebrooks lopped off his head, grabbed the body and headed to the ER, where the staff was quickly able to identify the snake and retrieve the correct anti-venom. (Please note: killing or attempting to retrieve the snake is not necessary and can lead to a second bite. A description or a photo work just as well.) Thankfully, Middlebrooks was fine; however, he spent two nights in the hospital and required four doses of anti-venom. The bill submitted to his insurance was close to $60,000.

Fortunately, death by snakebite is very rare in the U.S. (only a handful is reported each year); however, a tangle with a venomous snake can be painful and costly. For a list of registered wildlife trappers that can assist with removal of venomous snakes, visit: https://public.myfwc.com/HGM/NWT/NWTSearch.aspx

.

Snakes are a part of life in Florida. A majority of the snakes in our area are harmless and, in most cases, even the venomous varieties will steer clear of humans. When treated with a healthy dose of respect, snakes truly are valuable assets to our community.

Thanks to Scott Middlebrooks for sharing his story with us!

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Hawaii Says Aloha to WOW

Over the summer, WOW found itself visiting Hawaii with two Westchase families, The Foster family of the Greens and the Simmons family of The Vineyards.

The Fosters are pictured at the USS Arizona Memorial while Maggie Simmons is pictured at the memorial, as well as Diamond Head, one of the state’s most iconic landmarks.

Located at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, the USS Arizona Memorial commemorates the losses suffered by the United States when Japan’s military attacked the U.S. naval base on O‘ahu on Dec. 7, 1941. Occurring prior to Hawaii becoming a state, the surprise attack triggered the U.S. entry into World War II.

The Arizona memorial also marks the resting place of 1,102 sailors and marines killed by their ship’s sinking. Located above the hull of the sunken vessel, the memorial, constructed in 1962, can only be reached by boat. More than one million visit the memorial annually. 

Designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis, the memorial cost $500,000, $64,000 of which was raised in a March 1961 benefit concert by Elvis Presley. The memorial is 184 feet long and features two peaks joined by a sweeping concave roof, a design, Preis explained, whose central sag represents initial defeat followed by ultimate strength and victory.

Under rules established by Congress, the 75 marines and sailors who survived the sinking of the Arizona could have their ashes interred in the wreck’s hull upon their deaths.

In 1999 the USS Missouri, the battleship on which the Japanese surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz in Tokyo Bay, was moved to Pearl Harbor and docked near the Arizona, providing powerful symbols of the beginning and end of war in the Pacific.

The iconic Diamond Head, which sits off the popular Waikiki beach on Oʻahu, has an English name rooted in a misunderstanding. The name took root when 19th century British sailors confused calcite crystals for diamonds on the dormant volcanic cone.

Wrote Suzie Simmons, “Hawaii's most recognized landmark is known for its historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history. Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater.”

“The 0.8 mile hike from trailhead to the summit is steep and strenuous, gaining 560 feet as it ascends from the crater floor,” Suzie explained. “The walk is a glimpse into the geological and military history of Diamond Head. A concrete walkway built to reduce erosion shifts to a natural tuff surface about 0.2 mile up the trail with many switchbacks traversing the steep slope of the crater interior. The ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel to enter the Fire Control Station completed in 1911. Built on the summit, the station directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger outside Diamond Head crater. At the summit, you see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917. The postcard view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai'anae is stunning, and during winter, may include passing humpback whales.

The state of Hawaii has a fascinating history unique among U.S. states. It’s the only state whose entire boundary touches the ocean. It’s also the only state once ruled by its own indigenous monarchy.

Located in the Pacific at roughly the same latitude as San Francisco, Hawaii represents an intersection of Asian, North American and Polynesian cultures. The last state to enter the Union, Hawaii became the fiftieth state in 1959, 15 years after the end of World War II. Hawaii’s nearly 130 islands (there are eight main ones) often appear on U.S. maps in an inset box, making it difficult to see that its total land area makes Hawaii bigger than six other states. Its 1.4 million residents comprise a population that’s bigger than 10 other states.

While the subject of debate, archaeological evidence suggests the first humans arrived in Hawaii around 300 B.C. Historians also debate which European explorers first made contact, with some saying the Spanish did in the 1500s. The first documented European contact, however, occurred under Captain James Cook in 1778. Naming the islands the Sandwich Islands after the earl sponsoring his travels, Cook, however, was killed in a dispute with islanders upon his return in 1779. He made the fatal mistake of taking the king of the big island hostage in an effort to compel natives to return a small boat they had seized (likely in response to Cook’s seizure of fencing and idols from a local temple to use as firewood). Soon after the islands became a popular stop with Pacific explorers, traders and particularly whalers, who used the islands as a resupply depot.

The late 1700s saw much conflict on the islands as their individual kings fought for supremacy. The archipelago, however, was unified under the famed King Kamehameha in 1810. Soon after, the islands increasingly fell under the influence of American Protestant missionaries, who converted many of the islanders and established plantations. The 1887 constitution, signed under threat of violence from these foreigners, weakened the monarch and established land ownership requirements for voting, restricting participation by native Hawaiians. Subsequently the islands were increasingly dominated by American and European missionaries and planters.

Unhappy with this turn, Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last monarch, moved to establish a new constitution 1893. In response the Euro-American planters overthrew Liliuokalani with the assistance of a company of U.S. marines and established a republic whose first president was Sanford B. Dole, a cousin of the founder of the famed fruit empire.

Meanwhile the American businessmen petitioned the U.S. for annexation, which finally occurred in 1898. It occurred the same year that the U.S. acquired the territories of Guam, The Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico from Spain in the Spanish-American War, making the U.S. an indisputable Pacific power.

In 1993 the U.S. Congress passed a joint Apology Resolution, apologizing for the overthrow, and it was signed by President Bill Clinton.

We thank the Foster family and the Simmons family for sharing their tropical travels with WOW.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Recreation Center Programs, November 2014

Adult

Zumba
Combine Latin, American and international music with a fun, effective workout.
When: Mon, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $6/Class

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

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

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

Senior Activities

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

Senior Tone and Stretch
Exercise to build strength, flexibility and increase range of motion.
When: Mon, Wed, 9-10 a.m.
Cost: Free

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

Toddler Activities

Pint-sized Picassos
Create a unique project sure to be a keeper.
When: Tue, 8:15-9 a.m.; 9:15-10 a.m.
Ages: 3-4
Cost: $7/Session

ABC’s of Fitness
Get kids active and teach them exercise and healthy habits
When: Thu, 9:30-10:30 a.m.; 11 a.m.-noon
Ages: 3-5
Cost: $7/Session

Broadway Babies
Introduction to performing arts, songs, and dance that all become part of mini-musical.
When: Wed, 1-1:45 p.m.
Ages: 3-5
Cost: $7/Session

Grade 5/Middle School/Teens

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

Boys Competitive Volleyball
Learn ball-handling and competitive game skills
When: Tue, 8-9 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session
Ages: Grades 5-12

Girls and Boys Instructional Basketball
Basketball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.
When: Mon, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session
Ages: 11-14

Art in the Park
Learn creative new art projects while making new friends.
When: Fri, 6 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session
Ages: Grades 5-12

Show on the Road
Learn the fun art of acting, play production, back stage and prop preparation.
Ages: 13 and up
When: Tue, 8-9 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session

Youth

Girls and Boys Instructional Basketball
Basketball fundamentals with age-appropriate strength and conditioning.Grades: K-8
When: Mon, 6-7pm
Cost: $10/Session

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

The Young Apprentice
Create a unique project sure to be a keeper.
When: Sat, 9-10 a.m.; 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Grades: K-5th
Cost: $10/Session

We’re looking for a Volunteer Line Dance Instructor! Please call the center.

All activities take place at:
Westchase Recreation Center
9791 Westchase Dr.
Tampa, FL 33626
(813) 964-2948

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Raising a Moral Child

What makes one child helpful, caring and compassionate while another needs prompting to display these traits?

As a child psychologist and mother of three children, I find the topic of how to raise moral children extremely intriguing. Research shows that for some children, kind and caring behaviors indeed come easier for them. Studies suggest one-quarter to one-half of our propensity for kindness is inherited. The good news? That leaves a lot of room for environmental forces to help children internalize these values.

Traditional literature on children’s moral development has typically focused on Lawrence Kholberg’s six stages of human moral development. In the first two stages, a child’s actions are largely determined by rewards and avoidance of punishment. In the next two stages, the maturing individual takes into account the views of others. Moral acts are now based on seeking approval from others as well as what society deems as acceptable.

During the last two stages, which not even all adults attain, an individual’s actions are influenced by higher-order, universal principles of respect, justice and fairness for humanity.

More recent literature on children and their moral development provides more specific information on how to raise ethical and moral children. Children as young as age 2 recognize and show moral behaviors and emotions. They have a rudimentary understanding of “right” behaviors versus “wrong” behaviors and can recognize when another individual is sad or upset. What is the best way to reinforce these right behaviors and help children display empathy?

A variety of studies show that when a child has engaged in a kind or positive behavior, praising their personal character instead of the actual behavior is helpful. You might say, “You are such a nice child,” versus “That was a nice thing to do.” Praising the character of a child helps children internalize the positive traits as a part of their identities.

How parents respond to negative behaviors is also important and requires a different touch. When children cause hurt to others, they typically will feel either guilt or shame. These, however, are two different things. Shame is the sense that “I am a bad person,” whereas guilt refers to feeling bad about an action. Repeated shaming from parents takes the form of anger, the withdrawal of affection, and threats of punishment, including spanking. It can lead children to feel worthless, small and not good enough. Children are then more likely to feel angry and to lash out at whomever they wronged. In contrast, guilt leads to remorse and regret. With guilt, a child has a tendency to correct the action and to make amends to the person.

What should parents take from this? When a child hurts another person, one of the most effective ways to handle the situation is to express disappointment about the child’s behavior rather than the child’s character. (For example, one could say, “I’m very disappointed that you hit your friend,” rather than, “You bad, disobedient child!”) A parent who expressed disappointment about behaviors will help their children feel guilt rather than shame. It conveys that the parent had high standards but a mistake was made. It communicates that the child is still worthy and loved, but the action was disappointing. Indeed, in my practice, when children and teens have spoken about mistakes they have made, they inevitably proclaim that the disappointment from their parents was the worse punishment they could have received.

Last, the best way to raise moral, ethical and kind children is for adults to practice moral, ethical and kind behaviors themselves. Study after study has shown that it is not what adults say, but rather how they act that most influences their children’s behaviors. If raising a generous child is one’s goal, then one must practice generous behaviors. If your goal is to raise a child who values fairness and justice to others, than fairness and justice must be observed in the home environment.

Adults face moral and ethical decisions every day – some small, some big, some easy to figure out and others more complex. Our children watch us grapple with these decisions. They closely observe how we inevitably handle them and the decisions we make.

This is what ultimately informs our children about what is right and wrong.

By Maria Aranda, Ph.D.

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Will Your Block Win the New Year’s Party?

The judges are coming! The judges are coming! (But this year you have to invite them!)

It’s time to haul out the ladder, your five miles of icicle lights and all the tinsel your toddler can eat!

Judges for WOW’s 16th annual Westchase Holiday Decorating Contest will be hitting the road the weekend of Dec. 12-14! This year the best decorated neighborhood 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.)

Judging will take place the weekend of Dec. 12-14 (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 e-mail the neighborhood name and house address(es) to Tracy Urso at advertising@westchasewow.com.

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

As a friendly reminder, decorative lights may be displayed between Thanksgiving and Jan. 15, according to the 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 five hours!). If you’d like your home, a neighbor’s home or a group of homes considered by WOW’s Decorating Contest judges, please e-mail the neighborhood name and house address(es) to Tracy Urso at advertising@westchasewow.com. You can submit your home or that of a friend. Don’t be shy!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Two Ravens Golfers Advance to Regionals

The future is bright for Alonso High School’s boys golf program. This season was pretty brilliant, too, and gave a preview of even better times to come.

The Ravens, led by junior No. 1 golfer Nate Kosarich, a resident of Glenfield, were 13-6 in dual matches. Although the team’s season ended in district play, after a heartbreaking loss against Sickles in a four-hole playoff, Kosarich and Connor Trevisani advanced to the regionals as individuals. With five of six golfers returning next season, the Ravens will be strong contenders.

“All of these kids have been playing together for a while now and you can just see the improvement,’’ Alonso coach John Miliziano said. “We are looking forward to what’s ahead for us.’’

Kosarich, who broke the Alonso nine-hole low-round record with a 2-under-par 34 in September (then tied it with another 34 about two weeks later), is the clear standout. But the Ravens also got nice contributions from Trevisani, Connor Esposito, Nick Molinaro (the team’s only senior), Nick Kappas, Brett Daly, Jordan Cannon and Jake Neugebauer.

Miliziano said it’s no coincidence that Alonso was honored last season by the Hillsborough County School Board as having the top grade-point average for all of the county’s boys golf teams.

“That means something in golf,’’ Miliziano said. “These kids are all able to learn and grow.’’

That’s especially true for Kosarich, who has shown remarkable improvement despite taking up the game seriously only about two years ago. His father, Ed, a scratch golfer who was a teaching professional at the Saddlebrook Resort, played with him occasionally at the Westchase Golf Club. For the most part, though, Kosarich drifted into AAU baseball and competitive junior tennis, where he achieved a top 50 ranking in the state.

Once he decided to take up golf, though, there was no looking back. Even in a relatively short time, competing against players who have pursued the game for a decade, Kosarich has made himself into one of the county’s brightest prospects.

His ultimate strength is his driver. He’s very long off the tee and that sets him up for powerful rounds, although he’s continually searching for more consistency with his short game and putting.

“I’ve enjoyed all the sports I’ve played and I’ve made a pretty good transition to all of them,’’ Kosarich said. “Golf, by far, has been the hardest. It’s so mental.’’

Miliziano said Kosarich is well-equipped for improvement because he’s hard-working, mature, level-headed and intelligent. Kosarich sometimes acts as an assistant coach of sorts. He has enough knowledge and clout to make suggestions to other players, who listen and absorb.
“His love of the sport and his passion to play really sets him apart,’’ Miliziano said. “He’s one of those guys who never stops practicing. He’s driven to be great. His goal is to play college golf and I’m not afraid to say that, if he keeps moving in this direction, professional golf could happen, too.’’

Kosarich, 16, has a nine-hole stroke average of par (36). Overall 18 holes, he has shot a 71 in a junior tournament and a 69 in a practice round.

But his Alonso highlight clearly was breaking the school record for low round.

It was at the Silver Dollar Golf Club, Alonso’s home course, in a dual-match with Hillsborough. After a lengthy putt on the sixth hole to save par, Kosarich clinched his historic round by birdieing two of the last three holes. On the ninth hole, a par-4, he nearly drove the green, hitting it about 290 yards off the tee, and got the needed birdie to achieve the school record.

“I knew the record was 35 and it was a goal to get that this year,’’ Kosarich said. “It was something in my mind and I knew I had a shot at it. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.’’

His second 34, shot at MacDill, seemed like an even better overall round. “The guys I was playing with thought I could’ve shot a 30 that day,’’ Kosarich said. “It gave me a lot of confidence. It showed I could play to that level and still could have some shots I left out there on the course.’’

Kosarich said he was pleased with his junior season, although he’s hoping to make an even bigger jump in 2015. At this point, even with his previous sports versatility, he’s now interested in working as a golf specialist. For two years, he played on Alonso’s tennis team, requiring him to take a two-month break from golf, and he noticed the difference.

Now it’s all golf, all the time.

“I feel like I’ve been able to make up some of the time that I didn’t play,’’ Kosarich said. “It’s hard to do because you can’t replace that kind of experience, but it’s possible to thrive in this game, even when you get a late start.

“My dad has been a big help. He’s so good and we really have some battles. I’ve seen him shoot a 28 (over nine holes). He just tells me to keep working and keep improving. I figure if I can do that, I’ll be able to achieve my goals.’’

That includes a shot at college golf – and beyond.

And it means continuing to make Alonso’s golf program into one of Hillsborough County’s most relevant squads.

The future seems very bright.

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Master Gardener Series Continues at UTB Regional Library

The next six months will see the continuation of a series that helps homeowners improve their lawns and gardens.

The series continues after presentations made by Master Gardeners in September and October. The series runs the second Wednesday every month at 6:30 p.m. at the UTB Regional Library on Countryway Boulevard.

Nov. 12, Caladiums: Cynthia Glover speaks about caladiums for the home garden. She’ll offer tips on growing, maintaining, and choosing the best varieties and discuss the colorful value these easy foliage plants add to any Florida garden.  

Jan. 7, Daylilies: Master Gardener Julie Fugleberg’s daylily talk covers a bit of history, varieties and propagation of daylilies.  

Feb. 11, Orchids 101: Gerri Almand identifies some of the most common orchids and how to grow them in Florida, including light and water requirements and repotting techniques.

March 11, Beyond the Basics: Orchids: Jim Hawk shares further tips on helping your orchids thrive.

April 8, 25 Palms your Neighbors Don’t Have: Jim Hawk offers an overview of 25 hard-to-find, but hardy, underutilized palms for Central Florida. You are sure to learn about a few new palms!

May 13, Bedding Plants 101: Shelly Stein introduces a variety of warm and cool season plants that can add year-round color to our Central Florida gardens. This talk is a primer on how to select a site, prepare the bed, and choose the best flowers for the season, location and your style.

By Shelly Stein

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Troop 46 Busy with Elections and Merit Badges

Troop 46 has had many opportunities to obtain rank advancement, merit badges and perform service for our community in recent months.

The Scouts have learned many new skills while completing requirements on our road to Eagle Scout.

We had our Troop elections for the year and now have a new Senior Patrol Leader and Patrol Leader Council. They are busy planning new and exciting events for Troop 46.

Frontier Days Weekend at Flaming Arrow Scout Reservation was held the first weekend in October. This was the First Annual Frontier Days for the Gulf Ridge Council Scouts. We were able to choose between 27 distinctive merit badges, ranging from Metal Working to Wilderness Survival, while having a good time camping in Lake Wales, Florida.

The Environmental Science Merit Badge was earned by 19 Scouts by attending a class held at Lowry Park Zoo. We offer a big “thank you!” to Ms. Lori Doty, a Troop mom, for putting together an educational yet fun day at Lowry Park Zoo.

Our Fall Court of Honor (COH) was held Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in the First Baptist Church of Citrus Park sanctuary. We had 22 rank advancements, while 88 Scouts earned a total of 418 merit badges, and 77 awards were presented. Thank you to Troop 46 parents for baking cookies and brownies for the reception following the COH.

Troop 46 Scouts will be volunteering during Westchase’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. This year’s food drive will be Sunday, Nov. 23. Be on the lookout for Troop 46 Scouts in your neighborhoods, passing out flyers and collecting donations. You will also be able to find us accepting, sorting and loading donations at Westchase Elementary.

Troop 46 has weekly Troop meetings on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Citrus Park. To learn more about Scouting, and for more information about Boy Scout Troop 46, please contact Scoutmaster Scott Doster at scoutmasterscott46@gmail.com.

By Drew Hatch

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Artists Prepare for Holiday Market

The Holiday Market Elves have been busy making preparations for the 2014 Westchase Holiday Market.

The fifth annual Westchase Holiday Market will be held on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Westchase Golf Club at 11602 Westchase Golf Dr. All net proceeds from the event along with ticket sales from special art raffles will be donated directly to Autism Speaks. Last year’s market raised over $2,000 for this great charity.

Holiday guests are invited to shop for the perfect gift to complete their holiday shopping as the market returns to the beautiful Westchase Golf Club. Original paintings, photography, ceramics and sculpture along with handmade craft items are among the many types of artwork that you can expect to find.

This year’s event will feature a Best of Show juried prize along with artist demonstrations in the indoor and outdoor space at the golf club. Refreshments will be available for purchase and Santa will be on hand for pictures and to visit with children of all ages.

By Teresa Trubilla

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

What to Wear on Thanksgiving

It’s November lovelies! Woot!

November is one of my very favorite months, not only because it’s my birthday month, but because turkey day is coming!

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Thanksgiving. There is something so comforting about the whole family gathering together and sitting down to enjoy a delicious meal. My mama usually hosts our Thanksgiving celebration and she goes all out when it comes to the cooking. My sister and I are doing our best to learn her special dishes, but nobody can really make them quite like she does. I’m drooling just thinking about the flavor extravaganza that’s headed my way!

So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I throw caution to the wind and pretty much eat whatever I want on Thanksgiving. As such, I make sure I wear an outfit that’s nice and comfortable on the big day. And I’m sure most of you are in the same boat. While we, of course, want to look nice on a holiday, uncomfortable is the last thing we want to be when we’re about to eat a large meal. And in our family, it’s not just about the meal. We start the day with an amazing breakfast, followed by appetizers galore. Can you tell we like to eat?

I have a few different suggestions for what to wear on Thanksgiving and I promise you’ll be comfortable in every one! My aim is to always look presentable, but be perfectly at home stretching out on the couch and putting my feet up in whatever I’m wearing.

First, consider a soft, a-line dress. I think it would always be my mother’s preference that we wear a dress on holidays. We were always in dresses when we were little, so I try to remember how happy it makes her when we’re all dolled up. That doesn’t mean I’m willing to give up my comfort rule, however. Ha ha! A soft cotton or flannel dress, depending on how cold it is, is definitely comfortable. There are no constricting waistlines! Just make sure it has an empire or a-line silhouette!

You might also try a flowy blouse. A pretty, loose blouse looks pulled together, but is, again, comfortable! Pair it with boyfriend jeans and cute flats for optimal comfort! If you’re headed out of the house, a floppy hat would be a fun addition to this look.

On the more daring side, throw on a kimono. Yes, I said a kimono. They’re all the rage this fall and when worn with skinny jeans or leggings, they are oh-so chic. If you can’t find one you like in a traditional store, head to a vintage shop. I just bet you’ll find a fabulous one! My personal shopper friend picked me up a gorgeous printed number that I get compliments on every single time I wear it. Trust me...kimonos are the way to go this season!

That’s my take on what to wear on Thanksgiving. I hope it inspired you to start styling your own looks!

By Kristin Swenson

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

New Wellspring Pastor Calls Westchase Home

In July Keith Harcombe was appointed lead pastor at Wellspring United Methodist Church on Sheldon Road.

Harcombe and his wife Julie, the parents of three sons and a daughter, recently moved into a home in The Bridges and already love living in Westchase. Their youngest son, David, is in the fourth grade at Westchase Elementary. Son Max is a sixth grader at Davidsen Middle School. Jack is a junior at Alonso and their oldest, Jordan, just started her freshman year at FSU.

Keith Harcombe grew up in Liverpool, England. He was in the Royal Navy and was enjoying sailing the globe when his ship landed in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1992. Julie Harcombe, who grew up in Clearwater and got her degree at the University of Florida, just happened to be at a friend’s birthday party when Keith came ashore and they met.

After much writing and travel to visit, they married and called England home for the birth of their first three children. A stay-at-home mom, Julie was just about to take a job teaching science when Keith was diagnosed with Reynaud’s disease. Told a tropical environment would be best for his health, he took a pension from the Navy in 2003 and moved to Florida, where Julie’s family lives.

Julie went to work as a pharmacist while Keith began his seminary studies while working as a youth minister. After Keith finished his bachelor’s degree at Asbury’s satellite campus in Orlando, he became Associate Pastor at Palma Ceia Methodist Church in South Tampa. In March the Harcombes were excited with his appointment to Wellspring. Julie is currently a pharmacist at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Harcombe wants to have the church integrated into all of Westchase’s activities. The church is sponsoring Boy Scout Troops 46 and 215. In November the church will participate in Wellspring Cares, a community outreach program, and the Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive. They are really excited about preparing a float for the upcoming Westchase Christmas parade.

Residents can meet Harcombe at Wellspring’s Sunday services at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

By Brenda Bennett

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Lowry Wins Clean School Award

Lowry is proud to announce that it has been awarded the Hillsborough County Clean Swept Award for elementary schools.

Our custodial and maintenance team is clearly second to none! Thank you for all of your hard work making Lowry a clean environment for our students to learn and grow.

We would like to invite all of the Lowry students to write a letter thanking a veteran for his or her service. Younger students may draw a picture and write a couple of sentences. Letters and drawings will be due on Friday, Nov. 7, and will be delivered to the VA Hospital in time for Veterans Day. All students who participate will be given a special military-style spirit stick.

The December holiday season is quickly approaching. We are looking for those in our Lowry community who would like to sponsor a child for our Helping Hands program. This is a way that parents, students and friends of Lowry can help those Lowry families, most in need, enjoy a happier holiday season. Please keep in mind your gifts may be all the child receives during the holiday season. If you are unable to sponsor a child, but would like to donate a gift card towards a child sponsorship, this would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Helping Hands Chair Melinda Lewis at lowryvolunteers@gmail.com. The gift of giving is a wonderful experience we can offer to all of our children!

Lowry wrapped up its first ever Boosterthon Fun Run event with over 100 percent pledge support! We would like to thank everyone who donated to this fundraiser. The students are very excited to receive the new mobile science labs, which are expected to arrive ready for use in early 2015.

The annual Fall Carnival was celebrated on Friday, Oct. 17. Lowry students, families and friends enjoyed the games, prizes and food. Thank you to all of our volunteers who helped to make this event a great success.

By Krista Reznik

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

New Family Grateful for Westchase’s Strong Community

When Kathleen Grant’s family moved from Ireland to Tampa, her sister, Dominique Sorvillo, encouraged her to move to Westchase because it was a great community.

A month later, the Grants experienced first-hand how Westchase neighbors help each other.

“The day after our dog Oreo arrived here from Dublin, I was walking her when she was startled by a loud car muffler. She pulled the leash out of my hand and started running down Montague toward the train tracks,” said Grant.

Immediately after Oreo dashed into the woods, adults and children in West Park Village began searching for the lost pup. “Many of my sister’s neighbors helped us out and as we went around the neighborhood putting up flyers, we had children and adults we had never met before join in the search.”

When Oreo wasn’t found immediately, Kathleen posted information on Facebook, sent an e-mail to the Community Development District (CDD), who forwarded it on to Westchase Voting Members.

A week after Oreo ran away the family received their first tip. She had been seen around Glenfield and Keswick Forest.

They later heard from many residents of The Greens and Harbor Links, whose residents searched for her. The Westchase Golf Club lent a golf cart to allow the family to search the course. Employees of The Grind even lent a hand. “We were overwhelmed and touched by how many people cared about Oreo and wanted to find her,” said Grant.

Three weeks later, the Grants received multiple tips of Oreo sightings. “I got a call from a lady named Amy who said she had seen a black lab matching Oreo’s description near Waters and Montague,” said Grant. “Amy waited to show me the spot in the woods. I saw Oreo’s footprints and knelt down and started calling her name. Suddenly there was a rustling in the woods and Oreo came running to me.”

After a quick visit to the vet to treat some scratches and a thorn in her eye, Oreo was reunited with her family.

They celebrated with champagne, and or course, Oreos.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Reflections of a Crash Test Dummy

She inches past a guy watering his grass like she’s a mobster slowing for a hit. He looks up suspiciously.

She passes and heaves a sigh of relief. “That’s my first pedestrian I didn’t hit!”

It’s been a month of inspiring firsts.

All culminating in her profound observation about learning to drive: “This is more complicated than Mario Kart.”

A video game that triggers excited cackling in her throat whenever she runs Cousin Izzy off the road.

The Sophomore is driving me east on Forest Lakes Road toward Race Track Road – our first venture out of 25 mph neighborhoods. She’s successfully keeping my heart rate under 100 bpm.

Until 10 yards before the Race Track Road intersection, when we enter the Big Brakes or T-Bone Stakes Zone.

And the traffic light slings yellow.

She has two milliseconds to choose between slamming the brakes, flinging her crash-test dummy dad against his seat belt, or slamming the accelerator, rocketing through the intersection to beat red.

Instead, she gasps. She pulls her foot off both pedals.

My spine fuses.

And her right foot demands a UN Debate.

“JUST…!” I sputter.

“WHAT?!”

She starts convulsing. She taps the brake. She taps the accelerator.

I brace my feet against the floor in a futile attempt to run away.

Her foot comes back up.

The Chinese and Russians have vetoed the General Assembly’s resolution to Just Do Something.

And the light clicks red.

“AUGH!”

“OHMIGAHD!”

I brace one hand on the car ceiling, the other against the door. We roll into the eight-lane crowded intersection – against the light – at five mph.

If this were a Pixar film, you’d suddenly notice the 8-year-old standing on the side of the road, mouth gaped in mid-lollipop lick, his saucer eyes slow-motion tracing the most ludicrous thing he’s ever seen passing by:

A screaming 15-year-old girl snail-driving through a hellaciously busy intersection while brakes shriek; her father stands completely upright inside a Toyota Corolla; and the guy selling Ruskin tomatoes on the side of the road seizes his own head to brace for impact.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for an important safety announcement:

Next time tell your wife to take the child driving.

Breaking news:

That’s not gonna work either.

The Sophomore blasts into the house the next weekend. “I am never going driving with her again!” She flees to her room to thrust her brain inside her iPod.

“I am never going driving with her again!” her mother, entering from the garage, unwittingly echoes.

Overhearing, The Sophomore jets back to the living room to address this outrage.

“She thinks I drive crazy!”

“Um,” I interrupt. “You both agree. Yet still you manage to argue.”

The Momster calmly points at her. “She thinks that speed limits are goals to be reached within three seconds.”

“No one ever told me they were just maximums!” The Sophomore cries.  “Mom just sits there, herky-jerky gesturing and sputtering!”

The Sophomore turns to address the woman who carried her for nine months, foregoing her Friday glass of wine and her daily morning coffee, before nearly splitting in two pushing her large, purple head out. “When we passed my friends on Montague Street, you looked like you were dancing the Robot in the front seat!” The Sophomore gestures like an out-of-control C3PO. “How embarrassing is that?!”

Her Puerto Rican mother holds up her hands. “The problem is…”

The Momster pauses dramatically.

The Sophomore and I both fall silent. Momster’s look makes clear that what she will utter will explain everything perfectly.

“…I learned to drive in Spanish.”

I realize I’m mouth-gaping like the Pixar kid.

The Sophomore is C3POing again.

“Every time she does something,” Momster says in perfect, unaccented English, “by the time I get it out of my mouth, it’s a half mile back.” She shakes her head. “You’re taking her driving from now on.”

So, two days later, we’re in the parking lot of the local elementary school, where the bus dumps all the loser high schoolers who don’t drive themselves. I’ve decided to let The Sophomore drive home.

“Did you check your mirrors?”

“Ugh!” She growls and adjusts them. “Someone keeps moving these!”

“You always need to adjust them before driving. We’re different heights.”

“Oh!” she exclaims.

The same “Oh!” she exclaimed when I first answered her puzzled query, “So, how do I get this thing to go backwards?”

“This is not going well!” her fourth grade sister announces from the back.

“Dad, can you please tell her I need complete silence?”

I turn to evil-eye Grace and find her lying across the seat in the fetal position.

“Do you really think that’s helpful?”

“I only do this when she’s backing up.”

“Dad!” The Sophomore exclaims. “I need to concentrate!”

Grace falls silent and The Sophomore heaves the van into reverse. She ever-so-cautiously creeps backwards.

A handful of juniors, the last to clear out from the bus stop, stand over by the bike rack. They watch the unfolding drama, astride their bikes, frozen until we’ve safely moved on.

Her highly complicated reversal complete, The Sophomore pauses. She rubs her sweaty hands on her shorts and clears her throat. She heaves the van into drive…

And rockets forward.

Arriving at the parking lot exit’s stop sign, she slams on the brakes. Not firmly hitched, my seat suddenly rolls forward until it catches and flings me against the seat belt.

Ka-THUNK!

It’s either the seat mechanism catching or my collar bone snapping.

“Sorry!”

She turns out of the lot and kathumps off the curb. It finally hits me. I just don’t want her to drive.

I don’t want her to climb into a thin metal can and drive out into a world where a man with Ebola lies on an immigration form and flies into Dallas. I don’t want her bee-bopping out into a county where drivers, drunk beyond reason, sail south on northbound highways.

A man spends 15 years protecting the most remarkable achievement of his life. And then, with a snap of the fingers, she begs the keys and drives off into a world he simply doesn’t trust.

While he sit there like the Ruskin tomato man.

Is it too much to expect that she just stay happily in the living room running Cousin Izzy off the road?

Yet, with her outstretched hand, she’s asking me to take the next, difficult step in a parent’s life. A process begun in June of 1999, when a delivery nurse offered an outstretched hand, where I found the scissors to cut through the thick rope binding her to her mother.

While I wept like a fool.

Halfway home from the school lot, The Sophomore pulls over to offer a friend a ride.

Specifically, she pulls entirely onto the grass and almost the sidewalk.

“What are you doing?!”

“I’m pulling over.”

“Into someone’s front yard!?”

“Is it a big deal?”

“If you’re offering someone a ride, you’re not supposed to run them down beforehand.”

She huffs.

I roll down the window. “Are you really sure you want a ride?”

“Sure!” Michael says excitedly. He’s either exhausted from walking a whole block or feels compelled to witness the trainwreck firsthand.

But she does it. She actually gets Michael home safely, slowly and smoothly and he jumps out.

“My first real passenger,” she says, forgetting the crash-test dummy beside her.

Beaming, she calls out her window to her friend. “How was it?”

Michael thinks on this. “You drive like my grandmother.”

“Thank you!” she chirps.

And The Sophomore drives off…

With the crash-test dummy clutching the door.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Send WOW Your Halloween Photos

WOW wants to share your photos of your favorite ghosts and goblins.

We want to share photos of your Halloween block parties and trick or treating with our readers.  Simply send high resolution versions of them to editor@westchasewow.com. In keeping with our annual tradition, WOW will run a Halloween photo spread in December (sometimes deadlines do strange and scary things too).

Please help us by observing the following guidelines:

1. By Nov. 10 e-mail your photo as a high resolution JPEG file attachment to editor@westchasewow.com.
2. Make sure e-mail’s size is smaller than 10 MB or the server may return it to you.
3. Do not copy and paste your photo into the e-mail or an attached Word document. Mac Users need to send a .zip file of compressed photos in order to keep their computer’s e-mail program from embedding the photos in the e-mail, which reduces their resolution. (See below.)
5. To make the photo influx manageable, please send only your best photo of each child or group of children; feel free, however, to send a few different photos of block parties.
6. Please do not send WOW links to photo sites to download your images. WOW staff will be unable to go to the site, register for an account and download the photo.
7. While WOW loves group photos, rather than sending several different photos of your child with two or three different friends in each, please gather them all in a larger, single group for one photo.

Mac Users

When Mac users send photos, they frequently arrive in Outlook, which is WOW’s e-mail program, as embedded photos that can’t be copied and pasted out of the e-mail. To get around this, please follow the following directions:

1. Make a new folder on your desktop (File > New Folder).
2. Highlight the pictures you are going to send.
3. Go to File > Export > File Export and export the pictures into that new folder.
4. Click on the folder on the desktop and go to File > Compress. This will create a .ZIP file with the same name as the folder.
5. You can drag this .ZIP file into your e-mail message and send it.

Happy Halloween!

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Elementary Fund-raisers a Success

This November Westchase Elementary would like to give thanks to all of our families who have once again shown support of our school by giving generously to our fund-raisers!

The fifth grade exceeded their goal and the school-wide Boosterthon continues to provide funding for new technology for our classrooms. We greatly appreciate all that you do to make our school great!

On Nov. 7 our Wizards will again host a Veterans Day Program. This is a time for students to celebrate veterans and active military personnel who have served and sacrificed for our country. The program will include a flag ceremony, as well as recognition and a salute to our veterans and service members. Our very own Westchase Chorus and Drum Corps musicians will be performing in addition to the Davidsen Middle School Jazz Band.

Parents are welcome to attend this very special program. As a show of gratitude and respect to our veterans, we ask that kids dress in red, white and blue for the day.

A breakfast will be served in the Multi-Purpose Room beginning at 8:30 a.m. for active service personnel and veterans. The formal ceremony will take place on the covered courts from 9-9:30 a.m.

If veterans or active military would like to attend, additional sign-up sheets are available in
the front office or they can e-mail holt.taramah@gmail.com.

This year we are teaming up with the Penny Campaign to raise funds for the local charity Stay In Step SCI Recovery Center, whose primary mission is to assist individuals recovering from spinal cord injuries. Military veterans are among the patients treated at the center. The Stay In Step Organization is raising funds to expand beyond their sole Orlando location and establish a new center in Tampa to better serve local needs. Donations will be collected the week of Nov. 3-7, and will include a friendly competition between grade levels to see who can earn the most for a prize. A donation box will be placed in the front office for anyone who would also like to support the effort with a personal contribution. For more information about this year’s charity, please visit http://www.stayinstep.org

.

Come one! Come all! Enter the Kingdom of Books with Scholastic's Fall Book Fair! The Westchase Media Center will be holding their annual Fall Book Fair on Tuesday, Nov. 18, through Friday, Nov. 21. It will offer new books from some of your favorite series: Fly Guy, Skippyjon Jones, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Spirit Animals, Origami Yoda and so many more!! Don't forget that books also make great holiday gifts.

Book Fair hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m., and Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m.-2:30. Tuesday and Thursday are our Night Shopping Events. With any purchase made after school hours with an adult the student receives a chance to win a $30 shopping spree for them and their teachers. One winner will be pulled after each Night Shopping Event. Throughout the entire book fair, every $10 spent will earn the child a chance to win a free paperback book. Ten lucky winners will be selected every morning.

Remember there is no school on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, or over Thanksgiving break, Nov. 24-28.

By Jennifer Arnold

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Painting with a Twist Opens in West Park Town Center

After her first Painting with a Twist experience, Fords resident Jennifer Bobrovetski was hooked.

“I went to a team-building event at a corporate conference and was in awe of the experience. I was amazed that I was able to create a masterpiece and had so much fun. I took my husband to one of the classes here in Tampa and we both agreed that it would be great to have a Painting with a Twist in Westchase.”

“You don’t need to know how to paint when you come to a Painting with a Twist class,” said Bobrovetski. “The instructor talks you through each step.”

Classes, she said, aren’t formal. They’re fun, social events at whose end you have a beautiful painting.

Painting with a Twist will open at 10110 Montague St., hopefully by November’s end. Bobrovetski said there are almost 4,000 paintings potential artists can choose to paint. “We will have a calendar on our Web site with the different paintings for each class.” Attendees can pick a painting from the Web site or the studio can provide suggestions.

Painting with a Twist will sell wine and beer. Bobrovetski suggests you come in about a half hour before class to socialize and get the creative juices flowing.

In addition to nightly and daily classes, Painting with a Twist will host private parties for children and adults and team building events.

Bobrovetski says another reason she likes the Painting with a Twist concept is that the company as a whole gives back to the community. “One of the core values of the company is to be an active member of the community and to focus on giving back.”

Each month features a fundraiser called Painting with a Purpose. For December’s event, Pit Bull Happenings, painters send in a photo of their pets before the class. The pets will be transformed to canvas and they will get to paint a picture of them.

For more information about Painting with a Twist and their grand opening, visit http://www.paintingwithatwist.com/tampa-westchase or their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pwatwestchaseFL

.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Step in the Right Direction

Feet are extremely important for even the most basic activities.

As long as they are functioning properly and not causing any pain or discomfort, we take them for granted. When an issue arises, however, it becomes paramount to get some relief and correct the problem.

If not corrected, trouble with feet can lead to issues with your knees, hips and back. Sometimes the secondary issue is the symptom, and the correction is to fix the feet. It is the quintessential kinetic chain. You know – the toe bone is connected to the foot bone; the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone, and so on.

The trouble can stem from your foot’s anatomy. No arches or high arches can cause over pronation. Supination can lead to problems as well since your bodyweight is distributed more on the outside of your foot. Standing for long periods of time, or being overweight, can also cause problems with your feet.

One very common condition is plantar fasciitis, a painful tightening of the tissue in the heel of the foot. Another foot condition is plantar fibroma, in which a knot develops under your foot’s arch. It also causes tightening and can be most uncomfortable in the morning. Ingrown toenails and bunions can be caused by the positioning of your feet inside your shoes.

Strengthening leg muscles when there are muscular imbalances can help take pressure off overactive areas of your feet. Stretching can help provide relief from some of the tightness. Taping your feet for particular activities can provide temporary support. The shoes you wear can also make a huge difference. Some shoes are fashionable but not practical, especially if you are going to be on your feet for long periods of time or do activities that require running or jumping. Corrective shoes can be an integral part of the solution.

Alternatively, investing in custom orthotics that can be placed inside your shoes can be costly but worthwhile investments. These are designed specifically for your feet and can be transferred from one pair of shoes to the other. Visit a good physical therapist or podiatrist to help you determine the best course of action for you.

By Shannon Thigpen

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Seniors to Enjoy Dinner Theater in November

The Westchase Seniors Group will witness a miracle on Saturday, Nov. 8.

Of course, they’ll be traveling to a dinner theater for the experience. The play, Miracle on South Division Street, is a heartfelt and hilarious story about a family in Buffalo, NY, who erected a 20-foot high shrine to commemorate and profit from what Grandpa says was the Blessed Mother's appearance in his barber shop. The cost of the play and dinner is $32 per person, which must be paid in cash at the door. The buffet dinner includes a choice of four entrees plus a salad bar, vegetables, dessert, rolls, and coffee or iced tea.

Reservations must be made by contacting Jose or Nevenka Rios by Nov. 3 at nevenkar@aol.com or 852-1046. We will meet to form car pools at 3 p.m. on the St Joseph's Medical Care Center parking lot on Linebaugh Ave. The dinner will start at 4 p.m. and the play at 6 p.m. at the Early Bird Dinner theater, 13355 49th St. North in Clearwater.

Another Great Dining Experience In October Melba Lufkin and Bob Shafer organized another outstanding lunch experience at Tampa Bay’s Ocean Prime restaurant. Unfortunately they were not able to attend because Melba fell the night before and broke her wrist; however, Anita Steinfeld stepped up and made sure all of Melba's plans were overseen and gracefully carried out. These plans included honoring Rama Patterson and Katherine Griffin for their birthdays. In more good news, Melba and Bob are already searching out and sampling additional prime restaurants we might want to visit in the future.

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

Join The Fun If you are a Westchase resident over 55-years-old and looking to enjoy life, join over 200 of your neighbors who make up the Westchase Seniors Group and add more life to your years. It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap. Members participate in only what they are interested in and pay their own way. To receive e-mails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to westchase.seniors@gmail.com or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473).

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Pools Shift to Winter Hours; USTA Team Registration Deadlines Announced

This month Westchase’s facilities shift to their winter hours.

Please note that the West Park Village pool hours for the fall will change to 3-8:30 p.m. seven days per week with the slide closed for the winter months.

The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s pool off Countryway Boulevard will remain open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days per week. Both pools will be heated at a toasty 82 degrees.

If you have not been hand-scanned for entrance to the pools and tennis courts, please do so at your convenience at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s office or the Westchase Community Association (WCA) offices, located adjacent to the West Park Village pool on Parley Drive.

By Kelly Shires, Operations Manager

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

Tennis Lessons: Learning Doubles Play, Part II

If you play doubles, remember three things. First, always take the best partner available. How will that happen? Have fun, keep a very good attitude and remember that when your partner misses the ball, they didn’t do it on purpose. Be positive and enthusiastic. If you and your partner enjoy playing together, you’ll have the best team.

Second, a lot of people try to hit the ball very hard, always trying to make winners. Consistency, however, is very important. So be steady and lead your opponents into missing by having a good position on the court. Also understand your responsibilities and areas that need to be covered.

Third, doubles has lots of volleys and you will hit many of them. There are three you need to master: the punching, block and touch volleys.

Players have the tendency to judge every volley the same way, typically as a punch volley. Understanding the differences among the three types of volleys will give players more confidence and will make them more successful when playing at the net.

Communication is also a must in doubles. Have a plan when you're serving and returning. For example, if a weak second serve is delivered into the service box, this becomes a great opportunity for the receiver to join his teammate at the net. The receiver should then move inside the baseline. If he/she anticipates this play, they can hit the return deep into the opponent’s court and move in behind the return.

Before serving, always communicate with your partner. Let them know what formation you're going to use and where you will place the serve, such as wide, down the middle or to the tee. This creates opportunities for your partner to poach. Remember, accomplished doubles teams are poachers who are always looking to poach both when serving and receiving.

By Roberto Calla, Westchase’s Tennis Pro

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

USTA Tennis Team Registration Online

All USTA Tennis league players are to sign up on the WCA Web site at http://www.westchasewca.com

.

The deadlines are listed below but all interested players are encouraged to sign up before Dec. 1:

USTA 18 and over (Deadline: Dec. 1) – Season Jan.-March.
USTA 40 and over (Deadline: Feb. 15) – Season April-June
USTA Combo Teams (Deadline: July 1) – Season Aug.-Dec.

This online list will be used to determine interested players and establish USTA teams before each season starts. Anyone who signs up after the deadline listed may not get on a team. It is left to the USTA captain’s or co-captain's discretion based on the current situation and needs of the team.

Can't play in the daytime? Westchase is looking to start a ladies USTA 3.0 night team. Sign up if interested. Match play is Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m.

Sign up at http://www.westchasewca.com

.

By Kyle Roberts

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.