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WCA Board Moves to Save Early Bird Swim Program

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors heard from some angry early bird swimmers at their February meeting, which led the board to postpone a fee increase in order to save the program.

Participants of the program said they were upset with the amount of the increase in fees (from $35 to $60 for residents and from $45 to $78 for non-residents) and about how the situation was handled. Said one swimmer, “I’m here to ask you to maintain the program. For those who work, it is the only time we can swim.”

Board Treasurer Shawn Yesner said that the fees were not increased so that the program could make money but just to cover the cost of the program but he conceded that the board had made decisions that impacted the program without hearing from those who would be affected. He pointed out that over the past five years there had been no increase in program participation.

One participant said, “nine years ago, it was bigger. We had a coach who gave us workouts. Now you go and do your own workout. I don’t think we can do anything to promote the program since it is just the pool is open to swim.” Another participant said he considered the program to be good marketing for Westchase, “you have people from other neighborhoods who were coming here to swim,” but he said he was finished with the program himself, “I’ve quit and want my money back because of the way everything was done.”

Yesner reiterated that the cause for the increase in fees was to cover costs and said that the life guard had to be paid more because the hours were outside normal working hours and that there was an inconsistency with people signing up for the program.

Board Secretary Keith Heinemann pointed out that five to six years ago the same situation came before the board and that at that time the board decided not to increase fees or get rid of the program. Joaquin Arrillaga said that the board had a policy that programs should be self-sufficient.
Yesner made a motion to postpone the price increase for a period of time to give Westchase time to promote the program and see if there were more swimmers who would be interested in the program. The swimmers said they would reach out to those who had left but thought it was unlikely they would come back because of the way the increase was handled and, in the case of non-residents, they had found a program that was a better value. Arrillaga amended the motion to postpone the price increase until the June board meeting. All voted in favor. Directors Ashley Wait Woodcock and Ruben Collazo were absent from the meeting.

Directors rescinded the fines and reinstated facility usage for two homeowners who had corrected their sod violations. They extended the deadline for another homeowner who had been taking steps to correct the lack of grass in her yard but was following the advice of her lawn care service to insure the grass grew back and stayed healthy and was therefore needed extra time to make sure everything was done correctly.

Directors denied a written appeal for a landscaping violation because the violation in question had not been corrected.

Yesner reported that the Swim Committee had come up with a 14-question survey to send to parents twice a year to monitor Pipeline Swim Program’s effectiveness. All voted in favor of his request to send the survey to parents twice a year.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz said that she had audited the credit card company statements and when researching a refund discovered that a parent who had signed their child up for summer camp last year had requested through the WCA which was honored and had then filed a fraudulent charge with the credit card company which in turn denied the charge to the WCA and so she had been refunded twice. Sainz said she sent the parent a letter but had not received any response. She said that because of the incident the WCA would be changing the way they refund money and that she would be auditing the statement and every charge and refund each month.

Board Vice President Rick Goldstein said that a booster from Alonso High School had asked about the team renting one of Westchase’s swimming pools. Arrillaga said the last time the association did that, there were many complaints. Director Michele Del Sordo said she had asked West Park Village voting members how they felt about renting the pool to an outside swim team and that the ones who responded were all very much against it. Sainz pointed out that a 2012 WCA motion prevented future use of the pools by outside swim teams.

The meeting ended with Goldstein reading a recommendation from Board President Ruben Collazo to honor long-time Westchase Rec Center supervisor Dona Smith with a Westchase medallion. All voted in favor of the motion.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Feb. 15, 2019

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Early Bird Swim Program: Where Your Workout Goes Swimmingly

Interested in swimming for exercise?

Why not consider the Westchase Early Bird Swim Program?

A little-known program at the Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway offers early risers the chance to get a workout in before work or other daily obligations take over—often even before the sun has risen.

Over the years the Early Bird Swim Program has attracted folks from across a spectrum of interests. Some have previously swum competitively in high school and college and simply want to return to the pool for exercise. Some residents are training to participate in athletic events with a swim component. Other participants are simply looking for low impact aerobic exercise and a supportive group of swimmers with whom to work out.

Shires resident Susan Abraham has participated in the Early Bird Swim Program for 14 years and appreciates its convenience, “It is a great way to work out and it works with my schedule. I was not much of a swimmer before but it is a great low impact workout and the times work great for a busy professional.”

The Early Bird Swim program is open to residents and non-residents Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Because the pool is heated or chilled depending on the season, the water is typically 81-82 degrees year-round, which many consider the optimum temperature for lap swimming.

Eight lanes are open to swimmers and a life guard is on duty.

The program costs $35 per month for Westchase Community Association (WCA) residents and $45 per month for non-residents. To sign up, visit http://www.westchasewca.com

.

By Marcy Sanford

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VMs Pass Westchase-Wide Guideline Amendments

Westchase HOA President Ruben Collazo began the Feb. 5 Voting Member meeting with instructions for the VMs to cast their votes for the proposed guideline amendments. 

VMs reviewed and updated the amendments at the last meeting and VMs should have been getting feedback on how to vote from their residents. Each VM cast one vote and each amendment had to receive support from VMs representing 66 percent of the community to pass. Collazo stated, “There are 26 amendments to vote on.  The formula for votes is entirely up to you.  You answer to your village only.” 

While the votes were being tallied, Rick Goldstein, Government Affairs Chair, gave an update on transportation.  “One hundred fifty people are moving into the Tampa Bay area every day.  We have to be organized, smart and focused,” he said.  He said that he had spent the past three years researching what is coming.  He reported that Nancy Sells and Jim Wimsatt are working on the transportation plans and how they will affect Westchase.  He also reported that Tania Baumhover is working with the school district around pick-ups and drop offs, looking at what Pinellas County is doing and trying to engage the school board.  Goldstein reported that they have invited Developer Grady Pridgen who purchased the Oldsmar Flea Market and is developing the new townhomes on Tate Lane in West Park Village to speak at the March Voting Members meeting.

Once tallied the votes confirmed that all the proposed amendment changes passed.  Collazo thanked Ed Siler (Stockbridge) for all his hard work as the lead for the Document Review Committee.  Dale Sells, previous Document Review Committee lead, and Modifications Chair noted that even though the Guidelines and Amendments have been updated periodically, the INSGs – Individual Neighborhood Section Guidelines were “Largely what they were in 1999 and haven’t been touched.  Each neighborhood has to decide to update them.” 

VMs briefly discussed some final refinements to a proposed Garage Door amendment permitting faux wood colors.  Alan Shabott (Abbotsford alternate) said that he thought defining the process within the amendment was too much and that there were other methods that could be followed.  Siler countered, “If they aren’t done the proper way, we will have chipping.  We have to have some sort of guideline that prohibits someone from hand painting their garage door.  We need to ensure that it’s durable.” 

VM Forrest Baumhover (Kingsford) agreed, saying, “It’s a relatively new change and a lot of people want to do something.  They rely on the structure of the guidelines for guidance.  If someone finds a more efficient way to do it, we can always change that, but it’s better to not start too permissively.”

VMs will vote on the faux wood amendment at their March 12 meeting.

VMs adjourned at 7:52 p.m.

A summary of the passed guideline amendments will appear on page 10 of the March WOW.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Feb. 14, 2019

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WCA Manager Offers Clarification Over Potentially Misleading Flyer

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Manager Debbie Sainz notified WOW that a company is distributing flyers to Westchase homeowners that have led some homeowners to conclude that the WCA endorses and approves the company’s work painting address numbers on the curb. Sainz asked residents be informed that the WCA is not endorsing or approving the painting of address numbers on the curb. Emergency vehicles are equipped with GPS and Westchase's easily seen mailbox house numbers make the additional street painting unnecessary.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Two Dollar Dad

“Don’t do it!” I thought frantically. “Not in front of my friends!”

In was 1980s Scranton, Pennsylvania. And my father was pulling his Audie into the Quickie Mart at Marion Street. I was in the front seat (“Shotgun!”) and my two friends, Jim and Sean, were squished into the back like two penguins standing on a single ice cube.

“Do we really have to stop?”

It sounded like I was begging.

I glanced at the gas gauge. Of course we had to stop.

The needle was on E.

That needle was best friends with E.

In fact, if the gas gauge in my father’s car ever got above E, the needle would shout, “What the F is this?” and immediately die of shock.

“Please don’t do it,” I silently begged again. 

“I LOVE the Quickie Mart,” cooed my best friend Jim.

I shot him a warning look. THAT was not happening in front of my father.

Yes, I know The Simpsons show actually had Kwik-E-Mart, but Scranton, Pennsylvania had a real, live Quickie Mart a full eight years before Bart Simpson first skateboarded across your luxury 25-inch color console.

Only Scranton’s Quickie Mart was ruthlessly ruled by Debbie, a chain-smoking 30-something who, while missing a few teeth from her bottom rung, still cared enough about her personal appearance to scrupulously maintain foot high bangs.

After our wiffle ball games Jim blasted into the Quickie Mart just to torture Debbie. He’d yank a Yahoo out of the cooler. Then, in feigned befuddlement, he’d look around and shout, “Hey! Where do you keep the quickies?”

Every. Stinking. Afternoon.

Debbie tapped the ash off her cigarette and screamed, “THAT IS NOT FUNNY!”

Which, to a group of eighth graders, made it VERY funny.

But my death ray glare made it clear to Jim that we were not discussing any sordid intimacy in the presence of Waddy.

That’s what Jim called my dad behind his back.

That’s what everyone up in Scranton called my dad. Every guy who grew up in the Northeast in the 1950s had a childhood nickname.

I could have been born to a guy called Spike. Or Scooter. Or Buzz.

But no. I was born to a Waddy. From the moment of his birth, my father was destined to mortify his children. It was a full-time career and he was dedicated to it.

I’ll admit. Waddy was a step above the guy who lived across from my uncle. Everyone called that guy Tooter—even fifty years later when Tooter started collecting Social Security.

Tooter was actually named Ignatius. But sometime during a childhood of gastrointestinal distress, a friend—or that guy across the street (“that guy across the street” bestowed a shocking number of nicknames on 1950s Scranton boys)—sarcastically proclaimed him Tooter.

And poor Ignatius thought, “Hmmm. Ignatius? Or Tooter?”

[LONG PAUSE]

“Tooter it is!”

That guy across the street also nicknamed my Dad. He deemed 6-year-old Pop, whose head was mop-topped with shockingly red hair, “Watts.”

As in a light bulb.

“Watts” might have been actually been a little cool.

So my dad’s older sister just had to squeeze all the coolness out of it. She called him Watty, which just had to be further emasculated by spelling it like it rhymed with poddy.

The 1950s were cruel years in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

So when Jim started calling me Waddy Junior in sixth grade, I immediately threatened to beat him up to put a stop to that. (And, in case you’re having any bright ideas, I will also not hesitate to beat you up too, be it in Publix, at the dry cleaners or in the dairy aisle of the Super Target on Sunday after church. You’ve been warned.)

Waddy pulled his Audi up to the gas pumps and the attendant came out of his little hut.

My dad pressed the button to slide down the car window, but it jammed. So he banged his hand against car door.

Among other talents, my father possessed the underappreciated skill of being able to walk onto any used car lot in town and immediately identify the worst available car.

And then enthusiastically pay $500 more for it than it was worth.

Hence the 10-year-old “luxury” Audi, whose muffler didn’t quite work.

Which prompted Jim to nickname the Audi the Laudi. You could hear it coming three blocks away. “Here comes Waddy’s Laudi!”Jim would cry.

As I said, a full-time career.

With another bang, my father got the window unjammed.

“Please don’t do it,” I silently begged again.

But of course he did.

“Two dollars!” my dad cried.

I nearly crawled beneath my seat.

And in case the attendant was hard of hearing and might possibly do something absolutely, out-of-his-mind crazy—like completely fill up the gas tank of any car that my dad was driving, my dad stuck his hand out the window and held up two stubby fingers as he said it.

“Two dollars!”

Jim and Sean rolled down their windows and held up two fingers.

The 1980s were cruel years in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

In all of the years he was alive, my dad never once filled up the tank of his car.

Wait. That’s not true.

He did it once, by accident.

After a year the Audi’s gas gauge stopped working, probably out of shame. Rather than fixing something that was broken, Dad drove around town simply guesstimating his mileage. Then one morning driving me to school, he pulled into the Quickie-Mart, bang-slid down his window and cried, two fingers aloft, “Two dollars!”

But when the gas pump his 95 cents, it completely shut off.

The Quickie Mart gasoline attendant, who suddenly concluded the guy with the broken down Audi always kept his car gas tank within two dollars of being completely full, looked at my father like he was crazy.

“Ha!” My dad roared out of the Quickie Mart. He jubilantly jammed a one dollar bill back into his pocket. “We just won the lottery!”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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February’s Irish 31 Great Neighbor Winner: Jennifer Foster

“My neighbor, Jennifer [Foster], celebrates the birthday of every single person on our street,” wrote Katie Persons in her nomination for February’s Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor Contest.

Katie continued, “She puts a special flag and sign in our yard and on our garage. It really makes the birthday person feel special!” She added, “The signs go up before dawn. It is a very kind, thoughtful gesture!”

No doubt, little touches like that turn a neighborhood into a community, where neighbors have a sense of belonging and look out for one another.

“I tried to do it anonymously,” said Jennifer with a laugh, “But everyone kept giving it away.”

Foster began the tradition when she lived at the back of Gretna Green in Greenpoint. “Well, I absolutely love birthdays,” she explained. “Someone was turning 30, and I thought I’m going to celebrate that.”

When she later moved two blocks to Greenmont, Foster quietly collected the birthday of her neighbors. She’s now maintained the birthday tradition for seven years. “I just want people to know that it’s their birthday and it’s time to celebrate them,” she said.

Thanks to Jennifer Foster for being such a great neighbor!

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Crime in 33626: December 2018

Fraud

12/3

8800 Cameron Crest Dr.

Petit Theft

12/4

14100 Stilton St.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/5

12400 Westwood Lakes Blvd.

Theft from a Vehicle

12/5

13100 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/5

South Mobley Rd./Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

12/5

South Mobley Rd./Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/6

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

12/6

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

12/7

11800 Derbyshire Dr.

Accidental Injury

12/9

Countryway Blvd./Glencliff Cr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/9

11000 Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/9

10000 Brompton Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

12/9

10300 Abbotsford Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/11

11600 Countryway Blvd.

Drug Trafficking/Delivery

12/12

13400 Ironton Dr.

Petit Theft

12/13

10100 Montague St.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/16

Citrus Park Dr./Sheldon Rd.

Theft by Employee (On Duty)

12/17

12800 Commodity Pl.

Theft from a Vehicle

12/17

10700 Preserve Lake Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/18

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

12/18

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud—Impersonation

12/18

12000 Marblehead Dr.

Fraud—Credit Card

12/19

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

12/20

12500 Twin Branch Acres Rd.

Fraud—Impersonation

12/21

11800 Glen Wessex Ct.

Petit Theft

12/21

9400 Lakechase Island Wy.

Burglary Business/Forced

12/21

11200 Sheldon Rd.

DUI

12/22

Race Track Rd./Countryway Blvd.

Throwing Deadly Missile

12/22

11500 Carrie Marie Pl.

Petit Theft

12/22

8800 Key West Cr.

DUI

12/23

Race Track Rd./Fountainhead Dr.

Burglary Business/Forced

12/26

12800 Commodity Pl.

Fire Investigation

12/26

12300 Twin Branch Acres Rd.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/27

11700 Lake Aston Ct.

Battery—Simple

12/30

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

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Real Estate Round Up: December 2018

Address

Sale Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full Baths

Half

Baths

Living Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12314 Berkeley Square Dr.

164,500

3

142.80

2

1

1

1,152

N

10034 Tate Ln.

240,000

4

188.09

2

2

1

1,276

N

9534 West Park Village Dr.

262,000

68

180.44

3

2

1

1,452

N

10017 Tate Ln.

270,000

35

185.95

3

2

1

1,452

N

9923 Stockbridge Dr.

300,000

62

153.37

3

2

0

1,956

N

9849 Bridgeton Dr.

313,500

131

171.50

3

2

0

1,828

N

11837 Derbyshire Dr.

320,000

73

187.68

4

2

0

1,705

Y

12219 Glencliff Cir.

323,600

131

152.07

2

2

0

2,128

Y

11716 Derbyshire Dr.

339,000

30

168.24

4

2

0

2,015

N

10422 Lightner Bridge Dr.

350,000

25

184.89

3

2

0

1,893

Y

9806 Royce Dr.

359,500

169

183.42

3

2

0

1,960

N

10411 Edgefield Pl.

365,000

40

213.70

3

2

0

1,708

N

9809 Bennington Dr.

397,000

21

206.99

3

2

0

1,918

Y

10403 Snowden Pl.

405,000

39

185.52

4

3

0

2,183

N

10009 Bridgeton Dr.

415,000

181

159.80

4

2

1

2,597

Y

11920 Keating Dr.

442,000

0

162.20

4

3

0

2,725

Y

10461 Greendale Dr.

510,000

103

174.66

4

3

0

2,920

Y

11818 Middlebury Dr.

520,000

89

183.62

4

3

0

2,832

Y

11906 Marblehead Dr.

650,000

179

189.17

4

4

0

3,436

Y

Highland Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14625 Canopy Dr.

723,000

7

203.66

4

4

0

3,550

Y

11642 Ecclesia Dr.

295,800

54

157.84

3

2

1

1,874

N

11734 Casa Lago Ln.

385,000

38

166.23

4

3

0

2,316

N

14535 Cotswolds Dr.

393,000

19

169.40

4

4

0

2,320

N

West Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12905 Castlemaine Dr.

422,000

93

162.68

5

3

0

2,594

N

12801 Castlemaine Dr.

523,200

98

166.04

5

3

0

3,151

N

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11306 Cypress Reserve Dr.

401,000

5

199.70

4

2

0

2,008

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12509 Leatherleaf Dr.

465,000

14

178.16

4

3

0

2,610

Y

12521 Deerberry Ln.

385,000

3

184.83

4

2

0

2,083

N

Information Provided By Doug and Nancy Wood Of Smith & Associates

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Fun Date Ideas for Your Valentine

Looking for something fun to do for Valentine’s Day that doesn’t involve candy or expensive restaurants?

If your honey and you are the type who like to be on the go, you could rent a bike downtown, take a walk along the Riverwalk or tour the river area by water in a kayak, electric boat or water bike.

Animal lovers are definitely in luck. Gatorland and Myakka River State Park both offer up close and personal views of the state official reptile. Located outside of Orlando, Gatorland is home to thousands of alligators, including four rare white ones. It also hosts giant tortoises, pythons, parrots, peacocks, turkeys, panthers and deer. You can feed many of the animals, see an animal show, or even zip-line over the alligator enclosures or “wrestle” one for a photo op. Book a boat tour of Myakka River State Park and your special someone is sure to snuggle up a bit closer to you when a massive alligator swims towards your boat.

If you prefer animals with fur, Big Cat Rescue and Odessa Wildlife Rescue and Sanctuary (OWRS) are both worth a visit. Tucked away on Easy Street, Big Cat Rescue is home to 100 exotic and wild cats. OWRS is home to almost 60 different animals, including potbelly pigs, goats, rabbits, foxes, raccoons, alpacas and wallabies, peacocks and iguanas.

Valentine bouquets are beautiful but fleeting. Why spend money on something that will be tossed out in a few weeks? Instead you could buy a membership to St Pete’s Sunken Gardens and see more than 50,000 plants from beautiful flowers to cacti and tropical fruits all year long. Along the meandering garden paths, you’ll find numerous waterfalls, a lily pond, a tropical fruit garden and an arbor with delicate, beautiful orchids of all colors and sizes.

Is there anyone in Florida who does not love manatees? Now’s the time to see those sweet looking sea cows since they’ll be swimming closer to shore and inland to spring water with consistent temperatures. At Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park they have an underwater viewing area and it 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. During the winter months, hundreds of manatees flock to Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. The viewing center offers a walkway that extends over the water, an observation tower and an environmental education museum. They also have a snack bar and museum shop. We’ve spotted sharks, stingrays and dolphins on our visits.

So avoid the tired and traditional this Valentine’s Day and opt for sweet time instead!

By Marcy Sanfordd

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Greens Teen Grateful for Kind Neighbor

Greens resident John Reynolds, 14, experienced a recent act of extraordinary kindness.

Reynolds, the son of Carolyn and Rich Reynolds, enjoys skateboarding. Like most teens, he sometimes gets distracted and forgets to put his skateboard away.

On Thanksgiving morning the Davidsen eighth grader went outside to find his skateboard broken in half on his front porch. Someone had driven over it in the road.

Only the neighbor who broke it left something far more remarkable: a completely new skateboard with a note. It read, “Hey, John, I ran over your skateboard the other night. It was in the street. I know how much you like to ride it and because I loved my skateboard as a kid, I replaced it for you. Please try and keep your new skateboard out of the street. Have a great Thanksgiving!”

The kind note was just signed “Your neighbor.”

“He’s learned somewhat of a lesson,” said John’s mom Carolyn. “He’s a lot more careful with things than he used to be.”

His board been missing a couple of days and he just remembered leaving it dumped somewhere in the front yard. He thought it had been stolen. “I suspect it rolled down the driveway,” said his mom.

John felt both humbled and ecstatic at the gift. “It was like Christmas came early. I was amazed,” he said. John acknowledged with a laugh, “I tend to leave things lying around. Wherever I walk, I just drop things.”

He still hasn’t figured out the identity of the kind neighbor, but he does have a message. “Thanks you very much. I learned a lesson,” John said. “I”ll pay it forward.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Sparkman Wharf: A Fresh Take on Food-Truck Culture

Sparkman Wharf is quickly become a popular destination for live music, craft beer and gourmet-style dining.

Just over a month ago, the eclectic venue took over the downtown spot formerly known as Channelside. In addition to a biergarten, it features a unique concept—a “dining garden” where restaurant vendors are housed in shipping containers, similar to food trucks. There’s quite the variety, from classic American-style food to French-Vietnamese fusion, and so my dining partner and I decided to take one for the team and sample something from each spot. Since these places were new to both of us, we decided to go with the most popular or signature dishes.

We started with the half dozen oysters from Boat Run Oyster Co. with two each of their daily “fresh catch” selections, served along with a lemon sriracha basil sauce ($2.50-$2.80 per oyster). The oysters were delicious and definitely tasted fresh. The sauce was excellent and just enough to add a zest of flavor without overpowering the taste of the oysters.

As a New York pizza snob, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the “Detroit-style” pizza from The Corners Pizza, which was described as having a thicker crust. We ordered the Ezzo Pepperoni ($7) and I was pleasantly surprised. The dough was light and airy with cheesy edges and for a thicker crust, didn’t feel too heavy. They top each pizza off with fresh marinara and the serving size is easily enough for two to share.

For something a little lighter, the Shrimp Fresh Rolls from BT In A Box were perfect. A generous serving of two rolls of steamed rice paper filled with shrimp, herbs and rice noodles are served with a chili peanut dipping sauce ($8). You can also order them with chicken, pork or tofu lettuce. We both loved these. The menu is French and Vietnamese inspired and also includes items like curry noodles and a “bahn mi” sandwich.

Another shrimp dish we tried was the Piri Piri Shrimp from Edison’s Swigmajig ($12). Three pieces of grilled crostini toast are topped with avocado and spicy shrimp. These had good flavor, though we both agreed that the toast was a bit too charred. They were also a bit small for the price. However, I did see some of the other items they serve such as fish and chips and grilled octopus salad, which looked like generous portions.

From Montados, we tried the Tostones—plantain cakes topped with mojo pork ($8). They were small and not too heavy. We both thought the plantains should have been sweeter, but the pork was very good. They have a few other “small bite” options such as a charcuterie board and chocolate bread, as well as a good selection of sangria.

We tried the Carne and Chicken Tacos from Gallito; unfortunately, these were our least favorite. The flavor was okay but we felt the portion size was small for the price ($4 per taco). They have a few other flavors that you can order as a taco or tostada ($6 each), including duck and pork.

Saving the best for last, the shining star was the Dixie Chick Sandwich from Flock & Stock ($7.99). I decided to step out of my comfort zone and order a fried chicken sandwich, and I’m so glad I did. Fried chicken is served on a potato roll with pimento cheese, maple bacon, and bread and butter pickles. This sandwich deserves a medal, it’s that good. The chicken wasn’t greasy or overly breaded; the serving of pimento cheese was generous and had a nice kick to it; and the pickles and maple bacon added a perfect touch of sweetness to balance it out. Both my dining partner and I agreed that this was outstanding. The menu also includes several other chicken sandwiches, burgers and a meat-free option, the Beyond Burger. This was also the only place that had a kid’s menu.

For something sweet, Whatever Pops serves up gourmet popsicles, acai bowls and gelato. Although my 4-year-old’s palate doesn’t expand much past chicken nuggets and Goldfish crackers, he does love a good popsicle and gave the Sparkman Wharf (fresh strawberry, pineapple and pomegranate, $4) a big thumbs up.

If you’re looking for a place to go on a nice day, I highly recommend Sparkman Wharf. It’s family friendly and dog friendly, and with waterfront views, an Astro-Turf lawn and plenty of places to sit and relax, it’s definitely a win.

Sparkman Wharf
615 Channelside Dr., Tampa, FL 33602
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

By Brie Gorecki

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Alonso Actor and Theater Club Take Honors

Fords resident Makenna Kirsch and Alonso High School’s thespian club, Encore, won awards at the Hillsborough County Schools District One Act Play Festival in December.

Kirsch, who is a senior at Alonso, won best Comedic Lead Actress in the district and the club won straight superiors, the highest score possible, for their condensed version of the musical I Love You Because.

The three-day festival brings theater groups from schools all across the district together. “I was very surprised to win,” said Kirsch. “Over the three days you watch every show that all the other groups are doing and you realize how much talent there is in our district. I am very honored that I won.”

Although she had only performed in one play before attending Alonso, Kirsch has been involved with every theater production, either on stage or off, since her freshman year. She has been taking dance lessons since she was 3 years old and performs with Center Stage Dance Academy’s competitive dance team, but musical theater is her true passion. “I have been involved in the cast of every musical at Alonso. My dad plays guitar and I grew up singing along with him and my mom always encouraged my singing.”

Kirsch hopes to attend Florida State University or the University of Central Florida this fall where she will major in musical theater.

Alonso Theater Director Lisa Vorreiter said that Kirsch’s award was very well deserved. “She is a wonderful student and very talented. She is president of our theater organization.”

Recruiters from college theater programs were also in attendance at the festival and Vorreiter said that 23 schools called Kirsch back for an audition, adding, “Only 20 students from the entire conference received call backs. She has a bright future ahead of her.”

Kirsch will be reprising her role in the musical comedy I Love You Because when Encore presents the full-version of the musical at the Alonso High School Theater Feb. 14-16 at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $12.

By Marcy Sanford

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A Valentine Love Story

December of 2018 marked 58 years of wedded bliss for Kingsford residents Rama and Lewis Patterson.

Though any union between two people will bring struggles and challenges, after sitting with this couple for a few hours, one really does get the feeling that most of their marriage probably has been pretty blissful. The love and respect they have for one another after all this time is obvious.

Rama nods to their faith as the root of the success to their marriage. Their hearts for others have resulted in one of the longest lasting and most attended activity groups in Westchase: The Westchase Seniors Group.

Originally from Abilene, Texas, they met and began dating in high school. “He dated my neighbor and I knew from her what kind of guy he was,” she said.

After her friend revealed she had broken up with Lewis, Rama noticed him in the crowded hallway the next day at school. “He looked like he’d lost is last friend,” she recalled.

As he approached her, she simply said, “Hello, Lewis” and continued down the hallway. He turned to see who had such a sweet voice. The problem was, he didn’t even know who she was as the two had never met before. He searched for her the next day and asked her to attend church with him the following Wednesday. She accepted. It wasn’t until their actual date that he worked up the nerve to ask her name!

After dating through college, Lewis had the perfect proposal planned. He prepared a post card addressed to her and on it he wrote about his love for her. He took it down to the local post office to have it stamped. “I wanted to show her that even the United States Government gave their “stamp of approval” for us to get married!”

His creative plan quickly hit a snag. Once the postal worker stamped his card, Lewis asked for the card back so that he could hand deliver it to Rama and ask for her hand in marriage. He was quickly informed that once the card was stamped by post office, they’re required to deliver it and not allowed, legally, to give it back to him.

Lewis quickly formulated Plan B. He asked her parents to intercept the post card before Rama could see it. “They got it for me in time and when I showed up to get it, they were beaming when they slipped me the card” he said.

They watched as he presented the card to Rama. Through her tears of joy, all she could do was nod her head to indicate her “yes!”

The newly married couple continued to live in Abilene for several years before moving around the country as Lewis took various positions with the military as an independent contractor. He ultimately ended up in Washington as the Director of Installation Policy. Rama was a stay-at-home mom to their son and daughter until the children reached junior high school. As they moved to different areas, she took on different positions, utilizing the secretarial skills she learned from business college. She recalls one position she took because the pay was too good to pass up. She worked for a group of physicists and was even given top secret clearance status. “I told them they were very safe with me because I didn’t even understand what they were doing,” she chuckled.

Upon retirement, the couple considered several places around the country. Once they discovered Westchase, they knew they’d found their retirement home. In 1998, they purchased the last Ryland model in Kingsford. Rama quickly became involved with the Welcome Committee and worked closely with Maureen Gauzza to help bring a library to the Westchase area.

In search of neighbors with similar interests, they decided to hold a meeting of retired residents. According to Lewis, his original intent was to have those in attendance put their name, interests or hobbies and a phone number on a list. On July 7, 2000, the first meeting of the Westchase Seniors Group was held. Expecting maybe a dozen or so, more than 50 residents attended that first meeting! He informed the group that he would distribute the list so people could call one another to get together to enjoy their common interests. The crowd quickly informed the couple they were interested in getting together on a monthly basis for planned activities or lectures on issues pertaining to seniors. The rest, as they say, is history. They now have over 200 members on their roster and have continued the monthly gatherings ever since. Members reside in Westchase and surrounding neighborhoods along Countryway Boulevard and Race Track Road. Activities include dinners, plays, mornings at McDonald’s and more. There truly is something for everyone in this lively group. “I still tell people the same thing I did when we began,” Lewis said. “It costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap!”

Lewis explained the purpose of the group is to put more life into your years. To learn more about the group, call 926-5473. Many thanks to Rama and Lewis Patterson for their many years of adding to the lives of others!

By Lisa Stephens

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

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Westchase Mompreneur: Lia Beatty

Westchase resident, Lia Beatty, is quite the powerhouse.

At 14 years old, she discovered her love of brand marketing while helping her aunt with a project. Over the years, she worked for major companies and brands in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Dallas, and it wouldn’t be long before she’d make a name for herself.

Shortly after graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Advertising and Studio Art, she took on a job working in retail for Nordstrom in Atlanta. She soon moved up to working as a personal stylist for several high-end clients. From there, she took her talents to Newport Beach, California, and then to Dallas, where she landed a job with Modern Luxury, a national upscale lifestyle publication. Six years ago, Lia and her husband, Drew, moved back to Atlanta after their son, Wynn, was born. She worked for Modern Luxury’s headquarters there, handling brand marketing for big name clients like Kendra Scott and Jack Rodgers. When her son was 6 months old, she discovered that she was pregnant with twins. After they were born, she took time off to be a stay at home mom to Wynn and her two new daughters, Maria and Kali.

Drew had been working in athletic performance training when he suddenly lost his job. As a family of five with no income, he decided to start his own business, with Lia helping him on the marketing side. Wanting a change of scenery, they decided to move to Tampa and settled in Westchase. While they were working together, she received calls from former clients and decided to take on freelance work. Feeling inspired to get back into it full-time, she made the decision to go out on her own, and the Télia Agency was born.

“Télia” is a nod to Lia’s Greek heritage. It translates to “perfect,” though she said she actually hates perfection. “My perfect to me is not perfect to someone else,” she said.

Although she feels that way, her resume and list of clientele says otherwise. She thrives on marketing opportunities and her passion shows through each project she’s handed. Télia has now been going strong for a year and a half, functioning as a full-service marketing agency, handling brand and digital marketing, and business development.

Although Lia keeps quite busy with her career, she also has her hands full at home. Wynn is now 6, and Maria and Kali are 5-years-old. She is also pregnant with their fourth child, due this month. Being her own boss has allowed her to set her own schedule and balance mom life with work life. Although work can be demanding, she still makes it a priority to pick her kids up from school, cook dinner, and put them to bed, working while they’re in school and after bedtime. During their free time, they love spending time near the ocean. “If we aren't at the kids’ soccer or baseball games, we love going to Clearwater or Honeymoon beach or taking the boat out to Three Rooker Island with the kids.”

She’s worked hard for everything she’s accomplished, and feels so grateful and thankful. Celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Télia Agency is when she realized she had truly made her dreams a reality. “I’m proud of myself for having a career that I’m obsessed with and love!”

To learn more visit teliaagency.com.

By Brie Gorecki

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A Loving Heart

In February heart symbols abound while we celebrate love.

Hopefully, February also becomes better known for being Heart and Stroke Prevention Month.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. Further heart disease and strokes are two of the top leading causes of death each year, with heart disease far exceeding the others.

Typically, plaque builds up in artery walls. If the block cuts off flow within the arteries that that supply blood and oxygen to the heart, that area of the heart begins to die, causing a heart attack. Similarly, if blood supply to the brain is blocked, it can cause a stroke, sometimes referred to as “brain attack”.

The good news is heart attacks and strokes are often preventable by lifestyle changes. Over 80 percent of deaths per year, that is approximately 200,000, could be prevented! Some things you can do is include:

• Moderate exercise for 30 minutes per day, five days a week
• Make healthy food choices that include things like a diet rich in vegetables, using spices in place of sodium and limiting processed foods
• Quit smoking
• Avoid excessive alcohol.

Below are common heart attack symptoms. If you or someone is experiencing these systems, call 9-1-1 immediately:

• Chest pain or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes
• Chest pressure, squeezing, fullness or fluttering
• Shortness of breath along with chest discomfort
• Pain or discomfort in upper body including arms, back, neck
• Nausea, cold sweat, clammy skin, along with any of above signs
• Pale skin, along with any of above signs
• Constant sweating and fatigue

Strokes are often very sudden and recovery from strokes can be extremely time sensitive. There is an acronym that is used to quickly spot signs of a stroke called F.A.S.T. If you or someone else experiences the following, act FAST:

• Face dropping (a side of the face is not responsive when you ask them to smile)
• Arm weakness (difficulty with one side when asked to lift both arms)
• Speech impairment (difficulty repeating a simple sentence when asked)
• Time to call 9-1-1.

Candy and flowers are wonderful gifts during February. A far more loving heart gesture is raising Healthy Heart and Awareness.

By Shannon Thigpen

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

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Long Serving VM Bids Farewell to Westchase

Costello, 70, was a 20-year Westchase resident and original owner. In recent months he ran into health issues. After a couple of hospitalizations and with close family in Michigan, he ultimately agreed to move to Dearborn into a skilled nursing care facility to continue his recuperation. In early December, his niece and her husband hosted a small farewell party for Costello at his Stamford home.

A former actuary for the insurance industry, Costello quickly became active in the Westchase Community Association (WCA), which he saw as an opportunity for friendly social interaction.  Serving as an early Fords representative (when The Fords had a single VM), Costello was named by Westchase’s developer to the first search committee to find a association management company.

“When there was a need and no one volunteered for it, I would volunteer for it,” he said of his involvement. “It’s just something I do. It’s how I was raised.”

Later Costello served as the chair of the former Swim and Tennis Committee and the Covenants Committee. “I actually sat through board meetings, which went very late back then, and I happened to be one of three people who were still at the meeting at 11:30 p.m. when the board appointed the [Covenants] committee.”

When The Fords was broken into neighborhoods with multiple VMs, Costello served as either Stamford’s VM or Alternate for twenty years and also served one year on the WCA Board of Directors. Explaining the goal of his volunteerism, Costello said at his farewell gathering, “I always tried to do what was best for residents.”

What will he miss?

“The Westchase lifestyle,” he said. “Hard working people who help their neighbors but don’t really ask anything for themselves.”

Don, you will be missed! And we thank you for your longtime service!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Seniors Head for the Races

Members of the Westchase Seniors Group are going to Tampa Bay Downs Saturday, Feb. 16.

Westchase Seniors will gather in the Skye Terrace Dining Room on the third floor of Tampa Bay Downs at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 to have lunch and enjoy some horse races and time together. The restaurant offers a wide variety of appetizers, soups, salads, hot entrees and desserts. Lunch choices range from $10 to $23, plus tax and gratuity.

The entrance fee to Tampa Bay Downs is $3, and a betting information book is $3.50. The dress code in the Skye Terrace requires gentlemen to wear collared shirts and does not permit shorts or skorts. Please R.S.V.P. by Feb. 12 to Lucy Kizirian (kizirian@bellsouth.net; 925-9633) or Judy Daniher (jdaniher77@gmail.com; 792-8663). 

January Party A good number of Westchase Seniors had an enjoyable time playing Bunco and visiting with each other at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center last month. We thank Judy and Pete Daniher for planning this activity, and we thank all the participants who brought the good food for us to graze on while playing Bunco. Pictured above are the top winners and the worst loser. To be politically correct, we will not devulge the name of the tall gray-haired man who was the biggest loser.

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

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

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

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Disagreement Over Street Tree Policy Plays Out Between CDD Supervisors and Staff

The February 5 meeting of the Westchase CDD saw supervisors give strong pushback to their CDD engineer’s memo, which suggested Westchase’s street oak trees were a long-term problem that needed resolution.

At the meeting’s end, Supervisor Brian Ross called on the board to hire a new engineer.

Supervisors opened the meeting by passing a consent agenda that accepted the previous meeting’s minutes, December’s financial statements and the district’s 2019 audit. Supervisor Brian Ross, however, asked that it be noted that the audit was clean and flagged no issues. Later in the meeting Supervisor Greg Chesney stated that at the end of the 2018 fiscal year the district had a fund balance of $4,745,830, which increased by $256,440, representing the amount that assessments exceeded expenditures.

Supervisors then heard from three West Park Village residents, who complained they had not been notified of pond bank erosion repairs adjacent to their homes. The work, stated Desmond Curran, was causing significant noise and dirtying his home, pressure washed the previous week.

CDD Field Manager Doug Mays apologized and acknowledged that while had notified some of the affected homeowners, he had not notified those homeowners present as he originally believed the work would be farther from their homes. Instead, the company hired for the repairs needed to access the pond by using CDD property adjacent to Mr. Curran’s home. Mays stated the work should be completed within two weeks and committed to cleaning up the area and power-washing anything left dirty. Mr. Curran, his wife and his neighbor thanked Mays and supervisors for their responsiveness and Mays stated he would try to better inform all nearby homes for future projects. 

Patrick Nealon from Stonebridge inquired about the street tree replacement moratorium supervisors passed in January. He stated he had received county permits to replace two neighborhood oak trees with crepe myrtles. He stated Stonebridge was unique in that its right of way was narrower than those in other neighborhoods and that Stonebridge’s sidewalk ran on only one side of the road. He added that his community had already replaced 70 percent of the street oaks and the moratorium, passed to enable the district to adopt a plan to ensure street consistency in neighborhoods, was an impediment to Stonebridge moving toward the goal of full replacement with crepe myrtles. “I’d like the board to reconsider or give us an exception,” he stated.

Village Green resident Ray Chiaramonte, however, stood and stated he strongly supported the district keeping its existing canopy trees, adding that he wanted two more oaks planted on the side road running down his corner lot to shade his home. “Hyde Park has lots of crooked sidewalks and I would buy there if I could afford it,” he said. To retain the beauty of a tree canopy over streets, Chiaramonte added, communities just have to fix unlevel sidewalks. Chiaramonte asked supervisors for permission to plant the two additional oaks. Later in the meeting Field Manager Doug Mays stated he had refused to plant the additional trees because he knew, sometime in the future, the district would have to fix the adjacent sidewalks.

CDD Chair Jim Mills observed that the two residents represented two different viewpoints. “Therein lies the challenge,” he said.

Later in the meeting supervisors returned to the street tree issue and the street tree plan they asked Stantec’s Kyle Steele, a landscape architect, to develop for them. With the arrival of Paul Woods of OLM, the district’s landscaping reviewer, CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart of Stantec stood to address a memo she had compiled after Woods, Mays, Steele and she toured the community.

In recent CDD meetings, CDD staff members’ views of street trees have conflicted with some board members’ wishes that the original tree canopy, a goal of Westchase’s developer, be maintained with some flexibility. In January, supervisors hired Steele to develop a consistent street tree plan for addressing tree density problems and replacing problem trees with ones that match existing ones in neighborhoods. In recent meetings, however, instead of addressing their aesthetic concerns and preferences for maintaining the street tree canopy, staff has instead emphasized the problems posed by street trees, citing their effects on sidewalks, the challenges they pose to growing Westchase’s required front lawns and the occasional impact on sewage lines. Staff has instead emphasized an approach that would result in the street trees’ long-term replacement.

Stewart stated her memo detailed reasons for considering updates to the trees. Among other points, the memo stated that most of Westchase’s oak street trees were in decline because they were crowded or did not have enough space to grow in the rights of way. Second, her memo stated that higher ground water levels were stressing the trees, meaning they would not survive long-term. Citing recent stump grinding by staff, Stewart’s memo observed that they had found that most of the street trees had root structures of only 18 to 24 inches deep, which, the memo added, “is very shallow for structural support during heavy winds.”

Wood, who reviews the CDD landscaper’s performance monthly, added tree bases were rising out of the ground due to the lack of optimal space for growth, which the memo stated was 30 feet by 30 feet. “In Glencliff we are seeing decline that is terminal,” he added.

While Chair Jim Mills and Supervisor Matt Lewis, attending the meeting telephonically, did not clearly address their preference for handling street trees, the idea for allowing residents to pull original street trees received some support from Supervisor Forrest Baumhover. Stewart’s memo, however, received strong pushback from Supervisor Brian Ross and Greg Chesney. “My reaction to what I’ve read and heard from you is that it’s old news,” Ross said of the tree challenges. “We’ve heard this for years.”

Ross said the real goal why Stantec’s Steele was hired was to create a street tree plan to address aesthetic consistency. “Some people bought into the community because of the trees,” he said. “We need to try to honor that.” Stating he was familiar with popular community features touted by Realtors, Ross added, “Trees add to the value of your home.”

In past meetings, Ross suggested another solution to the street trees entailed the district budgeting for future sidewalk leveling and repairs.

Stating he was still waiting to see the requested street tree plan, Ross concluded, “I’m more interested in discussing uniformity.”

“I agree 100 percent,” said Chesney. Referring to Stewart’s memo, he added, “This looks like just a justification to dig up our trees, which the board put a stop to.”

He continued, “This is kind of irritating to see. This looks like you’re making excuses for digging out all our street trees.”

Observing that he saw no evidence in his own neighborhood that the majority of the street oaks were in decline, WOW’s reporter referenced the Hyde Park street trees previously mentioned by Chiaramonte and asked Stewart how street oaks there seemed to be thriving despite ground water conditions at near sea level but Westchase oaks, 17 feet above sea level, were dying due to their proximity to ground water.

Stewart offered no answer. Later, Mays stated there were fewer problems in Hyde Park because the area the oaks were planted in between the sidewalk and streets were bigger than the Westchase’s rights of way.

Further, when resident Bob Argus later asked Woods what the typical depth of tree root systems was, Woods acknowledged the majority of mature Florida trees’ roots are within 24 inches of the ground surface.

Chesney acknowledged supervisors were aware that some oak street trees would need to be pulled and replaced for various reasons, including possible overcrowding, but the district needed rules and guidelines for both tree density and appropriate replacements. He again cited CDD staff’s decision to replace an oak tree in Wakesbridge, whose streets are only planted with oaks, with a palm. “A palm tree in my neighborhood does not go. None of my neighbors think it belongs.”

CDD Supervisor Forest Baumhover, however, again pressed the question of whether the street trees belonged to the homeowners rather than the county or district. Stewart, however, stated that the county right of way—an area that includes the sidewalks and the strip of grass between the sidewalk and road—was owned by the county in Westchase; inside gated neighborhoods, the area is owned by the CDD or a subassociation.

Baumhover, however asked why residents couldn’t just remove street trees if they get a county permit for their removal.

Citing the CDD’s traditional role in maintaining Westchase’s street trees, Chesney responded, “The CDD went ahead and planted all the trees.”

Baumhover again, however, asked whether residents could simply remove and change the trees since the CDD doesn’t own the right-of-way.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick, however, said it could be problematic for homeowners to remove trees because they don’t own them.

WOW’s reporter inquired if there was anything that would stop the CDD from going in and replacing a street tree a homeowner planted since the homeowners also don’t own the right of way.

“There does need to be clarity,” Ross said, arguing that it could be provided by the HOA in its rules about what homeowners may or may not do.

Addressing Baumhover’s push for residents’ ability to make decisions regarding street trees, Chesney cautioned that before he went too far, it was important to remember that the CDD has multiple agreements with the county for maintenance of parks and rights of way. Chesney added that while it may not have a formal agreement with the county for street trees, the district has planted and maintained them since the founding of the community. “What the county has allowed us to do is maintain the common areas,” he said.

When Baumhover stated the situation was a source of possible confusion, Chesney disagreed. “I don’t think there will be a lot of confusion.”

Mills added that what the board was looking for were professional recommendations regarding what trees would complement each other and not be in conflict. “If there is one palm among 50 oaks, is that the right tree for that community?” he posed. He added the problem went both ways. Citing the neighborhoods of Brentford and Harbor Links, whose street trees are all palms. “What if a resident of Brentford or Harbor Links wants to plant an oak?”

Stewart said it was the ultimate goal to come up with the recommendations.

When Supervisor Matt Lewis asked how long a street tree plan would take to develop, Stewart initially responded many months before saying six months, a timeframe that did not sit well with some supervisors and which conflicted with Steele’s original estimate of two months.

Circling back to Nealon’s request to replace the oaks he had already received permits to remove, supervisors passed a motion, 5-0, to amend the previous street tree removal moratorium to allow the removal of trees that residents had already pulled permits for prior to the district’s moratorium. They instructed staff to not plant replacements until the completion of the street tree plan but merely sod the areas.

Supervisor Matt Lewis then briefed supervisors on his work with Vertex, a cell tower construction and leasing company, regarding a proposed cell tower on a portion of Glencliff Park’s southern parking lot to enhance cell service to Westchase’s western villages. Lewis stated that the smallest possible footprint was 2,100 square feet and that a 30’x70’ foot parcel running vertically on the eastern edge of the lot would have the least impact. Lewis stated that Vertex committed to mitigating some of the loss of parking spaces by enlarging the northern parking lot. He added that there were a number of items CDD Attorney Erin McCormick had flagged within the leasing contract but supervisors authorized McCormick to begin contract negotiations with Vertex based on the location and asked that any remaining issues be brought for discussion to the next CDD workshop, on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Maureen Gauzza Library.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Supervisor Brian Ross addressed the CDD Engineering contract. (The engineer had departed the meeting after discussing the street tree memo.) “I’d like us to bid out our engineering services.” Ross added, “I would be remiss if I didn’t say I was very unhappy with our engineer.”

After briefly discussing the bid process with District Manager Andy Mendenhall and CDD Attorney Erin McCormick and hearing no opposition from other supervisors, Ross stated they could discuss the proposal further at the district’s upcoming workshop and move forward with the bid process in March. 

In other actions:

After discussing the long-term advantages of not rescinding their letter of intent to purchase the Westchase Golf Course, supervisors voted 5-0 to rescind their January motion instructing their attorney to send a new letter terminating the letter of intent. That action will leave the letter of intent in place.

Supervisors approved Irish 31’s use of the Montague Street green for the restaurant’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party.

Field Manager Doug Mays stated he was treating a large district pond adjacent to West Lake Townhomes for midge flies that were breeding in its cattails. He added that the district’s aquatics company, A&B Aquatics, was cited for not first pulling a permit for the cattail removal. Stipulating the company should be familiar with regulations and a violation should not happen again, supervisors asked Mays to convey their unhappiness with A&B Aquatics for not complying with the law. Supervisors also committed to the Townhomes HOA President Robert Drummer that they would review the property line between the CDD owned lake and the townhomes to better understand where district responsibilities and cutback enforcement ended.

After CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte said there were no common areas big enough to accommodate the items, supervisors took no action on a request from the Harbor Links/The Estates voting member to install garbage cans and pet waste bag dispensers in the neighborhood.

CDD Field Manager Doug Mays informed supervisors that the district had to replace about 1,000 annuals that had been eaten by deer in the district flowerbeds along Countryway Boulevard.

After lengthy discussion about the best way of determining which streetlights the district was responsible for in Westchase, supervisors once again indicated support for hiring a utility audit company to review TECO’s billing records and provide a report that delineates what lights the district owns. Under the agreement, the company would be entitled to 50 percent of any TECO refund. In addition, supervisors directed staff to acquire all contracts TECO has on record regarding the district’s streetlight responsibilities.

Citing the dropping costs of 401K managed plans and the greater flexibility they will give the district and its employees, Supervisor Chesney suggested they explore changing the retirement plan for the CDD’s four employees. Supervisors gave him authorization to acquire proposals for plans.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:39 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Editor's note: The above article was corrected after its posting when Supervisor Chesney pointed out that a digit had been left out of the fund balance number. The amount listed above has been corrected.

Posted Feb. 7, 2019

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Freebooters Donate $4,000 To Local Schools

Using proceeds from their Second Annual Charity Golf Tournament, The Westchase Krewe of Freebooters donated a total of $4,000 to Westchase Elementary and Davidsen Middle Schools in December. 

The local krewe prides itself on being more than just a social organization that participates in the Tampa Bay parade season each year.  “A critical focus for our organization is to develop a strong leadership and charitable platform for the local community.  Fundraising for our schools is a great example of the type of support we aspire to deliver to Westchase each year,” stated Eric Holt, President and “Captain” of the local krewe.

The krewe thanks all of the sponsors and participants for supporting their golf tournament last fall.  According to Holt, they are the ones that truly deserve all the credit for the big checks they had the pleasure to present to the schools last month!

By Eric Holt

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Assessments and Westchase Rules Changes

If you haven’t yet mailed your WCA assessment, you really need to act this month to avoid additional legal expenses for its late collection.

In November 2018, the annual payment notice for the 2019 assessment was mailed to all Westchase owners for payment by Jan. 1 in the amount of $274. As a reminder, failure to pay the assessment by Jan. 31 will result in a late fee of $25. When submitting your payment in the provided return envelope, please remember to include the payment notice that has your account number. You are welcome to drop off your payment at the association office.

We can only accept checks or money orders for assessment payments. We cannot process credit card payments. If you wish to make an online credit card payment, please contact the association management office or Greenacre Properties at (813) 600-1100 for information on how to do so. Please know that you will incur an administrative fee for all credit card payments. If you are a new owner and did not receive your coupon, please contact our office immediately.

Since December brought some unpleasantly cold and wet weather, December’s Movie in the Park has been moved to April 12. We will soon announce the featured movie.

By now most of you should be aware of the many guideline amendments affecting all Westchase homeowners (See page 10). On Feb. 12, Westchase Voting Members will cast their votes, in favor or against, each of the proposed amendments. Any exterior home or yard alterations/additions must comply with the guidelines approved at the Feb. 12 VM meeting. Before submitting your modifications request to our office, please take note of what guidelines are up for amendment.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Two Seats Open for WOW Board of Directors

If you are a Westchase resident and want play a role in making WOW the best magazine around, read on.

Two seats on the World of Westchase, Inc. (WOW) Board of Directors will be open for appointment in March. The seats of current WOW, Inc. Directors Carolyn Reynolds and Jonathan Stein are up for appointment.

The WOW, Inc. Board meets quarterly to oversee the magazine’s operations, set its operating policies and make its charitable donations. The board currently consists of five homeowners within the Westchase Community Association (WCA) and is seeking candidates for the positions.

The process to fill the two-year volunteer positions will begin with all interested candidates and their resumes being presented to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors at their March 14 meeting. In his role as “The Member,” WCA Director Keith Heinemann, representing the WCA as the WOW’s single shareholder, will then cast the votes appointing the WOW, Inc. Directors.

Candidates must be WCA members in good standing; backgrounds in accounting, print and digital publishing and/or small business management are desirable.

Interested Westchase residents are encouraged to submit a resume, along with a one-page statement of interest in the position, by mail to the Westchase Community Association, Inc., 10049 Parley Drive, Tampa, FL 33626, via e-mail to manager@wcamanager.com and keith@tampabay.rr.com or by fax to 926-1821. Submissions must be received by Monday, March 4. For more information contact Heinemann at keith@tampabay.rr.com or 335-6579.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Giving Grief a New Purpose

Tracy Carathanasis has a story to tell.

It’s a profoundly painful tale but the 20-year resident of Westchase tells it because she knows it could save another teenager’s life.

Telling it could save another mother or father the grief she has experienced.

Yet telling it doesn’t come easy. It some ways, it’s easier to tell it to sixth graders and high school juniors than it is to other adults. Carathanasis has read the cruel comments some people write under stories like this one.

She knows, three years back, that some Westchase folks spoke in whispers as her personal, painful tragedy played out.

She was even initially reluctant when WOW reached out to her. Her husband and children each deal with their grief uniquely – differently than she has chosen to express it. She worried about this story’s impact on them.

And yet there were lives that could be potentially saved, grief that could be potentially spared.

Late last year, two students from Robinson High School, which hosts Westchase’s IB program, were hospitalized after using a vaping product laced with fentanyl, the powerful drug that killed pop star Prince. One of the students traveled in the extended circle of friends of a WOW staff member’s daughter. He was a bright young man, a solid student, the son of good parents. In response, Robinson’s administration the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE) Task Force of Hillsborough to speak to students.

NOPE’s presentation generally features a handful of speakers, including the school principal, the guidance counselor, the school’s resource officer and a parent of a local teen who lost his or her life to drug overdose.

Later the staffer’s daughter, Emma, spoke to him about it. She quietly broached the subject. “A Westchase mom spoke to us about her son, Dad.” Emma’s eyes reflected the profound impact the mother’s words had on her.

“Who was it?”

“It was the mom of the boy who died in the back of West Park Village.”

It was Tracy Carathanasis.

Most Westchase teens have heard about the boy who died in the back of West Park Village.

But they don’t know his whole story—the important parts.

His mom now travels with NOPE, telling that story, so that no other Hillsborough family experiences what she has.

His name was Drew Carathanasis.

A bright, mischievous yet remarkably kind-hearted boy, Drew grew up in The Greens, attended Westchase Elementary, Davidsen Middle School, Cambridge Christian and Alonso High School. A twin, Drew adored hockey and played on several competitive teams. He loved Halloween, scary masks and Hallowscream. He profoundly loved his family.

Drew’s blue bedroom walls are still filled with hockey trophies and posters of Iron Maiden and Ryan Miller, during his hockey career with the Buffalo Sabres.

On Nov. 11, 2015, after spending the whole day with his mom and going out for frozen yogurt and a haircut, Drew left his home. “At six o’clock he went to take a walk,” explained Tracy, his mom. “That was the last…” Her voice trailed off. “He walked over the bridge,” she finished, referring to the pedestrian bridge between Village Green and West Park Village.

At some point Drew took an overdose of Wellbutrin, an anti-depression drug. He wandered West Park Village with a friend. Hallucinating, Drew became convinced people were out to kill him. When his friend left, Drew dropped his phone along Tate Lane.

Drew didn’t return that night. He was last seen by a West Park resident around 8:20 p.m. The person spotted the teen, staggering, with his shoes in his hands.

His family frantically searched, finding his phone on Tate Lane at 9 p.m. “I walked hours and hours looking around there,” Tracy said.

The next day, Nov. 12, Drew’s twin brother Kyle discovered his brother’s body in the wooded area near the railroad tracks at 3:15 p.m.

Tracy said she tells Kyle there was a reason for this. “As traumatic as it was for you,” she said she has told him, “I think you were the one meant to find him.”

She stopped, thinking back on the moment, grief marking her face. “It was basically a nightmare.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 630,000 Americans died of drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016, and over 300,000 are hospitalized annually from overdoses. Eighteen percent of America, nearly one in five, self-report illegal or unprescribed drug use. A record number of Americans died from overdose in 2016: 63,632 in that year alone, or 174 per day. That number jumped ten percent last year to 70,000 Americans.

Overdose and addiction cross all racial and economic groups. They don’t discriminate, striking families in New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Town N Country and Westchase. 

They regularly strike “good” families. Tracy, now a small business owner, was a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, caring for her children, Drew, Kyle, Hannah, Ashley and Emily. She volunteered as homeroom mom. Her kids had great opportunities. Drew enthusiastically participated in club sports for years.

“Drew never got in fights,” she said. “He never got in trouble per se. He was in honors classes. His teachers liked him.”

Yet it happened.

While she struggles to use the term “addiction” to describe Drew’s problem, his is a story of repeated drug use and multiple stints in rehab, amid mental health struggles with depression. “There are so many layers to it,” Tracy said.

Two weeks before his death, he was prescribed the Wellbutrin for depression. Given Drew’s past abuse of prescription drugs, Tracy kept the pills locked up.

Drew first experimented with marijuana in middle school. Upon discovering his use, the Carathanasises shifted him to a new, private school through ninth grade.

In the short-term, Drew seemed to improve. Struggling to juggle five kids at four different schools, a few years later the Carathanasises shifted Drew to Alonso High School. The spring of his sophomore year, Drew’s experience with court-ordered drug programs began.

“He was arrested for having weed in the school parking lot,” Tracy said.

After his first outpatient treatment over four months, Drew would complete three stints in rehab, repeatedly triggered by failed drug tests. Initially, Drew was shocked at the behavior of the other teens in the programs.

Meanwhile Tracy was surprised by the number of other parents and adults that excused Drew’s drug experimentation as a normal rite of adolescence that they survived. To be fair, things weren’t all bleak even for the family. Throughout high school, Drew was a solid and involved student, completing his school assignments and enthusiastically participating in hockey. He insisted on being taken to school. During breaks at rehab, Drew retreated to a quiet table where he would study for the SAT. “Even though things were bad in one instance, other things were okay,” Tracy said, saying she herself found it reassuring. Yet, she said, many folks also didn’t take the matter seriously enough.  “Everyone told me I was overreacting,” she said. “They just didn’t understand.”

During his senior year, his dreams of finishing high school and studying engineering in college were at risk due to absences due to his stints in rehab and his ability to stay drug-free long enough to complete the court-ordered program. Meanwhile, Tracy felt overwhelmed. There were fights. She begged her son to stop. She took him to a series of counselors that Drew argued were ineffective. “It was such an ordeal to get him to agree to go,” she said. Meanwhile, with the rehab programs offering nearly nothing by way of family support or education, Tracy spent hours online researching how to best help her beloved son.

Ordered a final time to rehab after another failed drug test, Drew was asked to leave the program due to its inability to address his depression. Tracy picked him up on a street corner, where she found him standing with a backpack, pillow and comforter. The heartbreaking image is seared in her brain.

After speaking with WOW about the experience, she reached back out to the reporter. “I don’t’ think I really conveyed how awful it was to watch Drew struggle and suffer. He was ashamed and embarrassed and unhappy. I was worried sick about him,” Tracy wrote. “It broke my heart that I couldn’t help him. I spent every day making phone calls, doing Internet searches and doing everything I could to get ideas of how to help him. It greatly affected our whole family.”

In hindsight, what would she do differently or advise parents struggling with the same issues to do? “My biggest advice is definitely go to a Nar-Anon meeting. That is the best support out there. They know how to tell family to cope.”

Nar-Anon, like Al-Anon for families of alcoholics, is a 12-step program for family members, partners and loved ones of narcotics users. Its website, http://www.nar-anon.org offer,s educational resources and meeting schedules of families who have family members struggling with drug abuse and addiction.

Looking back, one of the most difficult parts was the way people Tracy had long known slowly pulled away as Drew’s struggles persisted. “All of the support I have, it really waited until after he died,” she said. She understood parents’ desire to protect their own children as his struggles became known but it added to her sense of despair.  “For family, it’s hard. You kind of get isolated.”

With Drew’s death, she said, the floodgates opened to folks who experienced the same struggles. “I’ve had a lot of people come and tell me their stories.”

It was when Drew’s counselor shared some of Drew’s final journal notes with her that Tracy decided to tell her story.

Some of Drew’s notes are heartbreaking. “If your parents knew how much drugs you consumed to be happy, do you think they’d still love you?” reads one.

But one, written on Sept. 5, two months before he died, proved the inspiration for Tracy to give voice to Drew’s story. “If I could, I would show kids or tell kids how to not live life; I wish someone had told me before it was too late,” Drew wrote.

When someone from NOPE reached her to see if she was interested in participating, that note immediately came to mind and she took a big risk.

She said yes.

She knew it would be more impactful to speak with students who were in school the same time as Drew, rather than wait until those same students were in their twenties.

Tracy gave her first presentation with NOPE in May 2016, seven months after Drew’s death.  She’s now done forty of them, touching thousands of kids in public and private schools, in small and in large settings.

She shares her story—and Drew’s own words—with sixth graders and twelfth graders alike.

She returned to Davidsen Middle School, where her story had a significant impact. Nathan Ring, currently a freshman at Alonso, heard Carathanasis share her story at Davidsen when he was in eighth grade. "It was intense. A lot more intense than the usual talks we get—which is a good thing." 

Ring added that the fact that she shared her own story made it more personal. More real.

Carathanasis speaks last, after the principal, the school counselor, the resource officer. She tells them that if Drew had made a different choice that first time, the arc of his life would be rewritten.

“It starts off, it’s all fun,” Carathanasis shares with students. “But then he just couldn’t get out of it. If he knew what was going to happen, he wouldn’t have started.”

“I really believe in the program,” said Tracy. She acknowledged the presentations weren’t going to change the minds of middle or high schoolers who were already in the depth of addiction. But she believes it can impact those who have just started or who are curious about experimenting. Most important, it educates all students to recognize the dangers of overdose so they can save a friend’s life.

She thought back on Drew’s last evening in West Park Village. She firmly believes the overdose was accidental, Drew’s way to cope with the compulsion to use but still pass an upcoming drug test so he could return to school. While a number of folks spotted him in poor condition after he started hallucinating, she firmly doesn’t blame them. Back then, she observed, she would have minded her business, done the same. “If I had seen someone staggering around, I wouldn’t have done anything. Now I would.”

She encourages the students she speaks to do the same. She tells them how to spot the symptoms of overdose. And she tells them, even if they are also drinking or taking drugs, the Good Samaritan 911 law protects them from getting into trouble if they contact police or emergency services with the goal of saving another person’s life. “There is a law that protects you,” she assures them.

She also emphasizes the extreme dangers of mixing common prescription pills with alcohol.

She emphasizes the program’s motto: “Be the hero. Tell someone.”

While there is nothing in human experience that compares to parent grieving the loss of a child, Tracy Carathanasis will continue to be the voice for her son, Drew, who still is very  much alive in her heart.

For she is the hero. She is telling someone.

If someone you love is struggling with drug use, Tracy Carathanasis can point you to valuable local resources for assistance. She can be reached at tracy429@hotmail.com.

Signs and Symptoms of a Drug Overdose

A person who has overdosed may experience one or more of these symptoms. If someone has taken drugs/alcohol and exhibits any of the following symptoms, dial 911 immediately.

Hallucinating
Staggered walking
Not waking when aroused
Not responding to painful stimulation
Cold, clammy skin
Blue lips, face or hands
Snoring, gurgling or struggling for breath
Complaining of elevated body temperature
Vomiting or nausea
Paranoia
Convulsions, tremors or seizures
Irrational behavior or appearing confused

By Chris Barrett; Photos by Pat Duffey

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Forest Lakes Boulevard Widening and Reconstruction Update

The county has entered into an agreement with Pepper Contracting Services, Inc. and construction is slated to begin in the first or second week of February.

The project will extend along Forest Lakes Boulevard from west of Pine Avenue to west of Race Track Road in the City of Oldsmar. According to Project Engineer Erin Lawson, the widening project is necessary to increase the capacity of the road. “The level of service was getting into the ‘D’ range,” she stated, referring to the qualitative measure used to analyze roadways and intersections by categorizing traffic flow and assigning quality levels of traffic on a grading scale from A to F based on performance measures like vehicle speed, density and congestion. 

Projected construction duration is 30 months. The extensive timeframe is due to the fact that certain areas of the road will undergo full roadway reconstruction due to unsuitable soils underneath the existing roadway. In these areas, project plans call for the existing road to be excavated and removed to a depth of three feet or more. Soil replacement along with the installation of new underdrains and pipes will help improve drainage and settlement concerns throughout the project limits. “This will offer a nice, solid foundation that will increase the longevity of the road,” Lawson stated.

Milling and resurfacing of the existing roadway will occur in locations that do not need to be completely reconstructed.

The roadway improvements will provide an additional 11-foot lane in each direction, upgrading Forest Lakes Boulevard from a two-lane to a four-lane suburban divided roadway. In addition to the added lanes, plans call for a five-foot paved shoulder that can be utilized as a bike lane. In areas of full reconstruction, medians and traffic separators will be reconstructed. Certain areas will see new sidewalk construction, while areas with damaged sidewalk will be reconstructed. The project will also upgrade existing signalized intersections at Pine Avenue and Brooker Creek Boulevard.

Existing traffic patterns will be maintained for the duration of construction by shifting to an undivided condition on the south side while construction is underway on the north side and vice-versa for south side construction. During the initial phase of construction temporary pavement will be added to the south side so that both east- and westbound traffic will be shifted to the south side for the north side widening and construction work to be completed.

Intersection construction will require detours for one direction only and the contractor will utilize intermittent nighttime-only lane closures throughout construction.

Once completed, the new four lane road will inevitably funnel more cars across the Pinellas/Hillsborough line at the intersection of Race Track Road and Linebaugh Avenue, where the road will once again narrow down to two lanes between Race Track and Countryway Boulevard. When asked about potential plans to widen that section of Linebaugh Avenue, Hillsborough County staff stated, “Linebaugh is planned to be widened to four lanes in the future; however, that is not part of the current 10-year plan.”

Countryway Boulevard Work Begins

The reconstruction and repaving of Countryway Boulevard between Linebaugh Avenue and Race Track Road began in mid-January and will continue through the end of March. Construction will run Monday through Friday during the day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include some sidewalk improvements. Due to expected lane closures, commuters should consider alternate rush hour routes through March.
Residents with any concerns or questions about the project can contact the Public Works Customer Service at 635-5400.

By Karen Ring

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Tampa Bay Woman of the Year Candidates Announced

The Westchase Charitable Foundation Announces the Candidates for Ninth Annual Tampa Bay Woman of the Year.

Mark your calendar! The Ninth Annual Tampa Bay Woman of the Year fundraiser to support the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF) is taking place on Saturday, March 2 at the Sheltair jet hangar from 6-11 p.m. It will be a “Fire & Ice” theme and feature live music, delicious food from some of the best local restaurants, complimentary drinks all night, free valet service, tour of private jets, networking, exclusive VIP lounges, 50/50 raffle, silent and live auctions, and more!

The 2019 candidates compete for the title “Tampa Bay Woman of the Year” by inviting their friends to attend the event, collecting silent and live auction items, obtaining in-kind donations, selling sponsorships, and hosting their own mini fundraisers over an eight-week period. The top four women who raise the most money and/or donations are announced live on stage in front of 500 attendees. Each woman can say they had a small part in helping WCF raise funds to continue helping deserving families.

WCF is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity that provides financial assistance to Tampa Bay families who have children battling a serious illness or who are facing a devastating family tragedy. The foundation relies completely on fundraising events, like the Tampa Bay Woman of the Year, as well as private and in-kind donations to help raise funds for its mission. The WCF is unique since most of its operating expenses are funded privately, so 100 percent of the net proceeds go directly to helping families most in need. The foundation is run by a board of directors made up of all volunteers.

The foundation began in 2004 to help a local family with an 8-year-old child battling terminal brain cancer, and its growth is due entirely to the countless supporters throughout our region. Since its inception, the WCF has provided over $500,000 in direct financial grants to families across the greater Tampa Bay area. While the foundation has its roots in Westchase, over 90 percent of the actual grant recipients reside outside of the Westchase area.

Here are a few examples of children and their families that we have been fortunate enough to help this year:

• A family with two teenage daughters, who suffer from an undiagnosed immune disease and spend the majority of their time at Johns Hopkins in Maryland.
• A family with an 8-year-old son who has an extremely rare liver tumor and travels to Texas regularly for the required treatment.
• Families of two fallen Tampa Police officers who left behind spouses with young children all under the age of 12.
• A family who has a a 13-year-old daughter suffering from leukemia and who struggles to meet monthly treatment and living expenses.

We have omitted the children and family names for privacy purposes.

Visit http://www.TampaBayWoman.org more details and to buy your ticket in support of one of these amazing candidates.

If you have any questions, please contact Trey Corish at (813) 545-8122 or trey@corishinsurance.com.

2019 Candidates

Melanie Atkinson
Cady Baer
Beth Bennett
Sony Brown
Sayh Davis
Kathleen Escobio
Sarina Fazan
Bethenie Garcia
Barbara Griffith
Jessica Hayes
Shannon Hofmeister
Trish Kelly
Alexandra Otero
Lisa Patel
Martina Swift
Ashley Wait
Kelcey Yaeger

By Kimberly Wander

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WOW Presents $26,000 Check to Davidsen to Assist ESE and ELL Students

On Jan. 11 WOW staff presented a $26,000 check to Davidsen Middle School for the Performing Arts, representing the proceeds of last October’s Great West Chase races.

The proceeds aimed at helping Davidsen students who have learning disabilities or who speak English as a second language.

Davidsen serves a high number of families whose first language isn’t English. After a student’s first year, their test scores on the state’s standardized tests count toward the school’s overall grade. Davidsen’s B grade is, in part, tied to the difficulties some of these students have on standardized tests, administered only in English. While the tested subjects may be math and science, a student’s ability to understand the test question is impacted by their fluency rather than their subject mastery.

WOW Business Manager Leslie Blaze, who chaired The Great West Chase, stated, “We hope these funds will help these students improve their English fluency and also assist those students who need specialized learning help. We’re excited about this opportunity to help these kids, and, in turn, help Davidsen earn the school grade of A that accurately reflects the great job their teachers and administration do every day.”

Blaze added, “We’re so grateful for all the runners, volunteers and sponsors who ensured the race was such a success.”

Accepting the check from Blaze and WOW Publisher Chris Barrett were Davidsen Principal Stacy Arena and the school’s assistant principals, Rachel Schuerman and Chris Woolley.

“I’m very thrilled and overwhelmed by the generosity of WOW and the community,” said Arena of the check. “And we will put it to good use toward programs to help our students.”

For information about sponsoring the next Great West Chase, contact Blaze at billing@westchasewow.com.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Speaking a Brave Truth

One of the hush-hush topics we, as a nation, avoid discussing on a personal level is addiction.

Yes, we regularly see media coverage of its scourge. We regularly read stories about the explosion of drug overdoses now killing more Americans annually – 70,000 total – than car accidents or guns.

What we don’t read about or discuss are our personal stories, the stories of family members we love who are struggling.

The silence surrounding these stories—particularly on social media, where Americans share nearly everything about their personal lives but their mental health—reflects our discomfort. Yet if your family has not been touched by alcoholism or addiction, you are in the minority. While consistent, reliable data is hard to come by, as much as two of every three American families are.

That’s what makes our cover story this month so important.

It opens the door to a topic all of us should be talking about.

In Westchase, most teenagers have heard, at least in passing, some parts of the story of a young man who died of an overdose in the back of West Park Village in November of 2015. His mom, Tracy Carathanasis, is extraordinarily brave. Fully aware of the judgment some members of our society still hold toward those afflicted with addiction, she has bravely decided to give her son a voice.

Before he died, Drew Carathanasis wrote of his struggle, “If I could, I would show kids or tell kids how to not live life; I wish someone had told me before it was too late.”

In the months after the loss of her son, Tracy Carathanasis decided to do just that—to tell her much loved son’s story so that Drew’s experiences could save another family from the same grief hers has experienced.

She was reluctant when WOW approached her. She is customarily private and wishes to shield the rest of her family from undue attention.

But she hopes giving voice to Drew in our local middle and high schools will help save one of our kids.

And that’s a brave story worth sharing here.

Coming from a large family who has been touched by alcoholism and addiction, I know firsthand that her story may make you feel uncomfortable. Most of us seek to protect ourselves with reassuring thoughts that tragedies like hers won’t happen to our families or our kids because [fill in your preferred rationale here.]

The reality is, as two-thirds of American families will privately tell you, addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t respect the boundaries of wealth, education or even good parenting.

To truly protect our families, we need to get educated, sweep aside the stigma and deal forthrightly with our mental health and addiction issues.

All of our children need us to.

So I thank you, Tracy, for trusting us with your story. We hope it honors not only you, but your awesome son, Drew.

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From the President: February Is Florida’s Spring Cleaning Month

At time of this writing it was pretty obvious that we were having a mild winter.

Thus the ravages of winter may not be too extreme on our properties this year. And, as we all know, “spring” in Florida really begins in February. Each year I remind our members to start your spring cleaning in February. The weather in February is still relatively mild, not too hot or humid, with very little rain. It’s a good time to replace dead plants, dead sod, put down weed and feed, clean moldy driveways and roofs, refresh paint that needs refreshing and more. Please don’t wait for those friendly reminders from the HOA to arrive in the mail. I suggest we all stay ahead of them and start our spring cleaning chores now! I know that I will.

The Westchase Voting Members are addressing a very significant change to our guidelines in February. (See page 10.) Specifically, they will be discussing “faux wood” painted garage doors. This is significant to me, because my three garage doors make up more than fifty percent of my front elevation. In fact, garage doors make up a large percentage of everyone’s front elevation, so changing the color of the garage doors to something other than the body or trim color is a pretty significant change.

Your voting member has the proposed faux paint options available via email. Please ask your voting member to share this information with you and please weigh in with your own opinion on it. Your voting member will be making this decision in February and I want to make certain that all your voices are heard.

Finally, as I write this, road repaving and improvements continue all around us. By the time you read this, the infamous Countryway Boulevard between Linebaugh Avenue and Race Track Road should be well under renovation! (See page 22.) I’d like to thank Rick Goldstein and his Government Affairs Committee (GAC) for staying on top of these projects for us. He does a great job representing Westchase.

Thanks for reading! As always I can be reached via email at theshires@verizon.net. I typically respond within the hour, or, at longest, later the same day. I look forward to hearing from you!

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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2019 WOW Sylvester Scholarship Application Deadline Is March 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Board Addresses Growing Legal Fees and Swim Team Income Decline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Jan. 15, 2019

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Proposed Westchase Guideline Changes Announced: February Update

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

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

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

1.4 Modification Committee Review Procedures

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

1.3.7 Holiday Decorations

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

2.1.3 Driveways, Sidewalks and Front Walkways

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

2.1.5 Garage Doors

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

2.1.6 Gazebo

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

2.1.8 Windows

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

2.1.9 Exterior Lighting

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

2.1.10 Roof and Roof Products 

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

2.1.11 Mechanical Equipment and Screening Structures

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

2.1.12 Paint Color Palette Guideline – Exterior Paint

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

2.1.13 Material for Exterior Improvements or Maintenance

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

2.1.15 Patios

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

2.1.16 Play Structures: Temporary, Portable and Permanent

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

2.1.21 Trampolines

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

2.1.22 Trellis and Arbors

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

2.1.25 Gutters and Drainage

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

2.1.28 Pools and Spas

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

2.1.29 Garbage Cans

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

Section 2.1.31 Drainage Solutions between Units

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

2.1.32 Ramps – ADA Accessibility Compliance

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

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

2.2.2 Corner Yard Landscape

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

2.2.3 Garden Borders

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

2.2.4 Irrigation

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

2.2.5 General Landscaping and Maintenance Requirements

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

2.2.7 Landscape Materials

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

2.2.8 Plant Material List and Appendix 100

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

2.2.11 Standard Fencing

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

2.2.15 Standard Fencing Materials

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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

Posted Jan. 15, 2019

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County Staff Provides Update on Citrus Park Drive Extension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted Jan. 14, 2019

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Wizards Begin New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westchase January Events

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

By Clare Himes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westchase January Events

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

By Clare Himes

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Westchase Seniors Announce Bunco Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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WOW Visits Spain and the Netherlands

Over the summer, WOW took multiple trips to Europe!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take WOW on Your Winter Vacations!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Sharing a Lifelong Love of Fitness With Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Stephens

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

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Meet Rusta!

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

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The No Photo Zone

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

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

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

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

Her two sisters leapt and turned.

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

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

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

Because they’re all moods.

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

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

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

The three kings being Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar.

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

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

Which is probably how he manages not to wake them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just one photo?” I begged.

“NO!” the three of them shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The three of them sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

Except for the Queen Bee.

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

The upside?

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

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

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

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

(Other than the president.)

“Just one photo?” I beg again.

“NO!” they cry.

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

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

And Facebook the heck out of it.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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19 Health and Happiness Ideas for 2019

How to kick off the New Year?

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

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

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

By Shannon Thigpen

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Mompreneur Elaine Ragan

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

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

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

In 2012, Insane Fit Girls was born.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Brie Gorecki

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Westchase Filmmaking Teens Recognized

Two Westchase teens were recently recognized for their stellar filmmaking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

By Marcy Sanford

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

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

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

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

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

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

Scratch N Sniff that!

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Crime in 33626: November 2018

DUI

11/3

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Fraud – Impersonation

11/6

11200 Windsor Place Cr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

11/6

Gunn Hwy./Sheldon Rd.

Battery – Simple

11/7

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Obstruct – Police (Non-Violent)

11/8

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/8

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Accidental Injury

11/11

14700 San Marsala Ct.

DUI

11/12

Belgrave Rd./New Parke Rd.

Fraud – Other

11/12

14100 Oakham St.

Theft from a Vehicle

11/12

12800 Twin Branch Acres Rd.

DUI

11/13

South Mobley Rd./Arbor Hollow Dr.

Fraud – Other

11/13

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Obstruct - Police (Non-Violent)

11/14

8800 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/15

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

11/15

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Burglary Business/Forced

11/15

11200 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud – Impersonation

11/16

12500 Shirebrook Ct.

Battery – Simple

11/17

9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Grand Theft – All Other

11/18

9900 Montague St.

Fraud – Impersonation

11/19

9700 Lake Jasmine Dr.

Petit Theft – All Other

11/20

10900 Dale Stitik Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

11/21

10500 Barnstable Ct.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/22

Sheldon Rd./Citrus Park Dr.

Theft Vehicle and Other Mobile

11/23

10600 Chambers Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

11/23

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/24

Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

Fraud – Credit Card

11/26

14700 Via Estrella Pl.

Theft Vehicle and Other Mobile

11/27

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

11/27

12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Theft from a Building

11/27

11600 Splendid Ln.

Battery – Simple

11/28

10100 Montague St.

Warrant out of County

11/29

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/29

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Warrant in County

11/29

11600 Bristol Chase Dr.

Warrant out of County

11/29

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Warrant in County

11/29

11600 Bristol Chase Dr.

Arson

11/29

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Disorderly Conduct

11/29

7900 Gunn Hwy.

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VMs Take First Look at Proposed Rules Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Jan. 12, 2019

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CDD Hires Landscape Architect to Prepare Acceptable Street Tree List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other actions:

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

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

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

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

Supervisors adjourned at 6:12 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Jan. 10, 2018

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Reclaimed Water Service Repair Affects Westchase Villages Off Countryway Boulevard

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Looking Forward and Back

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

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

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

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

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

This month’s WOW looks forward.

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

This month’s WOW looks back.

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

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

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

Happy New Year to you and your family!

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

Happy New Year to all our friends and neighbors!

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

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

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

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

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

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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Rotarians’ Used Bike Collection Jan. 5

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

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

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

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

By Mike Castro

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Simple Resolutions for a Healthier You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Karen Ring

2019 Health and Wellness Guide Summaries

WOW thanks the following physicians and health/fitness businesses for helping to bring you the Health and Wellness Special. The listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Health and Wellness Special. Look for their ads in our special section; page references are available in the business directory. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the businesses and ask all relevant questions prior to engaging their services.
 
Advent Health Centra Care
(813) 792-2550
http://www.CentraCare.org
As a hospital affiliated urgent care provider, operating over 30 locations, Centra Care provides patients with fast and convenient care for urgent, non-emergency medical needs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call him Westchase’s Knight in Shining Armor.

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

Or the cavalry coming to the rescue.

Only he’s riding a tiger.

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

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

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

You read that right.

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

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

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

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

Two brews meeting two popular Westchase tastes.

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re a roaster. That’s unique.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the new year in a new place hold?

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

A West Park and Westchase anchor.

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Village Voices: The Vineyards

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

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

The speed limit in The Vineyards is 15 mph.

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lynn Adamson, Vineyards HOA President

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Proposed Westchase Guideline Changes Announced

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

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

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

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

Summaries of the changes appear below due to space constraints.

1.4 Modification Committee Review Procedures

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

1.3.7 Holiday Decorations

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

2.1.3 Driveways, Sidewalks and Front Walkways

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

2.1.5 Garage Doors

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

2.1.6 Gazebo

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

2.1.8 Windows

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

2.1.9 Exterior Lighting

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

2.1.10 Roof and Roof Products 

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

2.1.11 Mechanical Equipment and Screening Structures

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

2.1.12 Paint Color Palette Guideline – Exterior Paint

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

2.1.13 Material for Exterior Improvements or Maintenance

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

2.1.15 Patios

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

2.1.16 Play Structures: Temporary, Portable and Permanent

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

2.1.21 Trampolines

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

2.1.22 Trellis and Arbors

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

2.1.25 Gutters and Drainage

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

2.1.28 Pools and Spas

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

2.1.29 Garbage Cans

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

Section 2.1.31 Drainage Solutions between Units

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

2.1.32 Ramps – ADA Accessibility Compliance

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

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

2.2.2 Corner Yard Landscape

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

2.2.3 Garden Borders

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

2.2.4 Irrigation

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

2.2.5 General Landscaping and Maintenance Requirements

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

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

2.2.7 Landscape Materials

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

2.2.8 Plant Material List and Appendix 100

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

2.2.11 Standard Fencing

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

2.2.15 Standard Fencing Materials

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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HOA Assessments, Modifications and Movies in the Park

Happy New Year to all!

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

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

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

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

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Linebaugh to Temporarily Lose Two Turning Lanes Jan. 7

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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When Your Cat Becomes Prey

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

A motion sensor clicked on their back light.

That’s when her fiancé spotted it:

A coyote chasing their cat across the backyard.

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

But the cat didn’t appear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Board Offers Pipeline Swimming One Year Contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Dec. 14, 2018

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 14, 2018

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Shires VM Ruben Collazo Reelected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

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

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Decorating Contest Winners Light Up Visitors’ Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decorating Contest Winners

Westchase

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

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

Third Place: The Moyer Family
10201 Bennington Drive
Bennington

Best Neighborhood Award:
Woodbay: Bristol Commons Circle

Westchase Honorable Mentions

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

WOW Northwest Winners

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

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

Best Neighborhood Award:
Mandolin Estates

By Lisa Stephens

Published Dec. 13, 2018

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VMs Take Critical Look at Elections and Swim Team Committee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collazo replied, “Minimally.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VMs adjourned at 9:22 p.m.

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

To view the Swim Team Committee report, click here.

By Brenda Bennett and Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 13, 2018

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

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Terrance Maloney Elected Harbor Links/The Estates Voting Member

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

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

Everyone who was running for VM agreed to her request.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other VM Results

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Dec. 11, 2018

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Real Estate Round Up: October 2018

Address

Sale Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full Baths

Half

Baths

Living Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9524 W. Park Village Dr.

245,000

68

168.73

3

2

1

1,452

N

12022 Deacons Croft Ln.

296,000

150

157.45

3

2

1

1,880

N

10022 New Parke Rd.

310,000

101

184.52

3

2

1

1,680

N

10328 Saville Rowe Ln.

310,000

10

152.56

3

2

1

2,032

N

10412 Springrose Dr.

356,000

16

201.70

3

2

0

1,765

Y

12116 Glencliff Cir.

360,000

5

168.15

3

2

0

2,141

N

9404 Edenton Way

375,000

5

174.09

3

2

0

2,154

N

12318 Wycliff Pl.

380,000

83

173.60

4

3

0

2,189

N

9403 Edenton Way

385,000

7

164.04

4

2

0

2,347

Y

11705 Derbyshire Dr.

402,000

10

201.10

4

2

0

1,999

Y

10307 Millport Dr.

462,000

87

191.3

4

3

0

2,415

Y

12312 Ashville Dr.

465,000

54

181.57

4

3

0

2,561

Y

10758 Tavistock Dr.

487,400

2

186.46

4

3

0

2,614

Y

11929 Middlebury Dr.

500,000

11

166.67

5

3

0

3,000

Y

11922 Middlebury Dr.

550,000

31

204.38

4

3

0

2,691

Y

10717 Tavistock Dr.

585,000

3

186.19

4

3

0

3,142

Y

10135 Belgrave Rd.

600,000

30

147.97

5

4

1

4,055

Y

10037 Brompton Dr.

648,000

8

206.37

4

3

1

3,140

Y

Highland Park

               

14614 Canopy Dr.

413,000

172

152.34

4

3

0

2,711

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11252 Blacksmith Dr.

376,000

38

180.77

3

2

0

2,080

N

11338 Minaret Dr.

482,500

71

146.21

4

3

0

3,300

Y

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11208 Cypress Reserve Dr.

292,000

20

207.24

3

2

0

1,409

N

11316 Cypress Reserve Dr.

309,000

64

203.29

3

2

0

1,520

Y

11609 Windsorton Way

365,000

15

186.89

3

2

0

1,953

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12501 Leatherleaf Dr.

475,000

29

173.29

4

3

0

2,741

Y

14819 Coral Berry Dr.

445,000

3

175.27

4

3

0

2,539

Y

Windsor Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11080 Windsor Place Cir.

200,000

69

157.23

2

1

1

1,272

N

11037 Windsor Place Cir.

246,000

3

146.17

2

2

1

1,683

N

11221 Windsor Place Cir.

212,000

20

166.67

2

2

1

1,272

N

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Santa Comes to Westchase!

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

More info?

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

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

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

Have a blast, Westchase!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 8, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mendenhall committed to following up on the matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supervisors adjourned at 5:38 p.m.

In other actions:

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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CDD Board Sees Election of Two Supervisors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Village Voices: Elections, Holiday Parties and Budgets

The Bridges

Happy holidays!

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

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

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

By Cynde Mercer, VM of The Bridges

The Vineyards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy holidays and happy New Year!

By Nicole Robertson, Vineyards HOA Secretary

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Davidsen Deputy’s Horrifying Story Captured in Movie

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Westchase Holiday Market is Dec. 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jennifer Joyner

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Santa Returns to Westchase Dec. 8

He wants your smiles. He wants your letters!

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

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

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

Help Santa Help Others

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

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

Tracking Santa

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

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

In Case of Inclement Weather

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

Parade Route

Where will Santa’s firetruck and his parade travel?

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

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

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

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

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Public Notice of Guideline Changes

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

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

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

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Glencliff Park Playground Sees Closure Dec. 3-7

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Nov. 28, 2018

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VMs Hear TECO Presentation on Street Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Nov. 15, 2018

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Wizard Walk Raises $83,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important November Events

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

By Clare Himes

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Flying Fitness

Have you heard of Aerial Yoga?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Shannon Thigpen

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

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Crime in 33626: September 2018

33626 Crime: September

Drugs/Narcotics

9/1

10000 Montague St.

Drug Paraphernalia

9/1

10000 Montague St.

Warrant in County

9/1

10800 Preservation View Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/4

14600 Corkwood Dr.

Accidental Injury

9/4

11500 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

9/4

9600 Gretna Green Dr.

Battery on Elderly—Simple

9/4

8900 Citrus Vlg Dr.

Battery—Simple

9/5

13900 Lynmar Blvd.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/5

11900 Dietz Dr.

Battery—Simple

9/6

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Burglary Business/Forced

9/6

10400 Sheldon Rd.

Warrant in County

9/6

13300 Kearney Wy.

Battery—Simple

9/6

9900 Montague St.

Harassing/Obscene

9/9

12800 Stanwyck Cr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

9/11

10500 Castleford Wy.

Criminal Mischief Felony

9/13

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Harassing/Obscene

9/13

9800 Brompton Dr.

Grand Theft—All Other

9/13

10300 Abbotsford Dr.

Warrant in County

9/13

9800 Meadow Field Cr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/14

11300 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Health/Safety

9/14

9300 Lakechase Island Wy.

Grand Theft—All Other

9/17

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Theft from A Building

9/17

9100 Carolina Wren Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

9/18

10700 Spring Mountain Pl.

DUI

9/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant out of County

9/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery—Simple

9/20

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

9/21

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/21

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Fire Investigation

9/25

13100 Race Track Rd.

Theft of Bicycle

9/25

9700 Westchase Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

9/25

10300 Countryway Blvd.

Petit Theft—All Other

9/26

10000 Parley Dr.

Fraud—Impersonation

9/26

9600 Magnolia Blossom Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

9/27

12500 Bronco Dr.

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MOMS Club of Westchase Plans Fall Fun

Happy fall y’all!

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

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

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

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

By Kelly Walton

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Now You Can Track Your Mail

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

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

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

By Keith Heinemann

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Davidsen Seeks Great American Teach-In Volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important November Dates

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

By Carolyn Reynolds

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New WCA Director Aims to Bridge Divide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Stephens

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Hello, Dali!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of The Dali Museum.

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Positano’s is Perfection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Melanie Casey

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Just Say Yes

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

I attended my first boy band concert.

God can call me home now.

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

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

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

Yes, South Korea.

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

So Bee began studying Korean.

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

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

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

So she said it in Korean.

And then she signed up for hip hop dance lessons.

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

At first we rolled our eyes.

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

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

Plus Bee, an introvert, bamboozled me.

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

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

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

Me: How was your day?

Bee: Fine.

Me: Could you perhaps expound upon that?

Bee: My day was medium fine.

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

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

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

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

It was the most Bee had uttered in a week.

“Buy them,” I said.

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

And then she burst into tears.

Which I think meant she was happy.

Teens are confusing that way.

Hey, don’t judge. 

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

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

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

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

A two hour wait with no fast passes.

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

Bee’s face fell.

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

Then we met my mom for lunch.

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

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

Bee’s eyes went wide.

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

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

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

“I’m napping because you’re tired.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fifty-seven dollars,” she said.

My eyes went wide.

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

“God bless America,” I said.

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

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

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

And shaking our Army Bombs.

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

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

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

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

My eyes went wide. “You’re sad?!”

“I think I have Post Event Depression.”

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

“Where to?” I nudged.

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

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

“It’s not real,” Bee said.

I nodded. “Then where to?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded.

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

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

The thousand dollar smile again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slipping on her Koala jacket, she shed her shyness.

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Meet Bo!

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

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Westchase Santa Parade Dec. 8

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

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

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

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

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

By Dan O’Brien

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

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

Photo courtesy of Family Tree Photography.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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WCA Board Deadlocks on Swim Team Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

All directors voted in favor of tabling a Kingsford homeowner’s appeal concerning a paver sidewalk and restoring his family’s use of the facilities until after the VMs vote on proposed guideline changes.

Board Treasurer Shawn Yesner said that as the new treasurer he had been looking into the board’s financials and everything appeared to be in order. He said that he had also researched the question of whether the WCA could get into trouble if the WOW did not have a full audit. He said that both the WCA’s legal counsel and current auditors had told him that WOW did not have to submit an audit and that he did not, “think the board incurs any liability if we are following the advice of professionals.”

Yesner said the board could appoint a director to the WOW Board who would force an audit. Board Vice President Rick Goldstein said, “I think it is important that there is an audit,” and made a motion to ask WOW to produce an audit every year.

Director Michele DelSordo, however, said, “If we don’t need it and there is no concern, I wouldn’t push it.”

Yesner suggested that there were other levels of disclosure not as intensive and all voted in favor of Goldstein’s amended motion to ask the WOW to deliver compiled financials every year by April 1. [Editor's note: The WOW Board unanimously voted in mid-October to have an audit done of its 2018 financials; that vote occurred three weeks prior to this meeting.]

Coach Patrick Piper, owner of Pipeline Swimming—the interim vendor running the WCA swim program—asked the board to sign a new contract with them beginning Dec. 1 to run the program for a year. “We started with 44 families and now have 81,” said Piper “If we start the contract on Dec. 1, it will give us 30 days before the end of the year to prepare parents for the beginning of the year. We have several kids on a competitive track and in order to get them where we want them to go, we need to begin putting together a practice plan for the year.” He also said that they would like to change the start times for practice to a staggered start time to accommodate the growth in the program.

Goldstein, chair of the Swim Team Committee, said that he agreed that it would be best for the kids to have continuity with the program and that the board had done its due diligence with Pipeline and other swim team vendors when they were looking for a replacement for the former coach and he made a motion to award the contract to Pipeline. “They took a risk with us when we had a problem. The kids are safer. They have offered to help with the Westchase Charitable Foundation.”

Director Ashley Wait, however, said she felt that the Swim Team Committee was formed for a reason and that it seemed bad to get rid of it. DelSordo agreed, “If you’ve put a group together to look at swim programs, you should let them do that. I feel like we should talk to parents and get feedback before moving forward.”

When Wait asked why the Swim Team Committee had not met, she was told that a few committee members had left the WCA swimming program and that a few were in arrears with their swim team fees. Goldstein said that former WCA Director Forrest Baumhover did research and based on it, determined that Pipeline was the best for the interim. “I’m impressed they were willing to come in and help out,” said Goldstein. “If people knew what we knew, they would be glad we did what we did. The kids are a lot safer now. The program has progressed and parents seem to be very happy. I think it would be confusing to change on the kids again.”

Harbor Links resident Yelena Maloney, previously appointed to the Swim Team Committee, said, “I strongly advise the board to reconsider the contract. I would like to see the vetting process. They have been kicked out of a city and simple research brings questionable actions that the board could be liable for. An entire group of swimmers is gone and lots of the new people are from the YMCA because the coach there left.”

Maloney expressed concerns that practice times had been cut in half. Piper asked Maloney to share the information with him and said that the city in question, New Port Richey, actually owed Pipeline money. Goldstein’s motion tied 3-3 with Wait, Yesner and DelSordo casting the dissenting votes. With the tied vote causing Goldstein's motion to fail, Collazo said that the board needed to move forward with the previously appointed Swim Team Committee, which was subsequently scheduled to meet Monday, Nov. 12 at 9 a.m.

Collazo then told the board that resident Emily Harkins, who had submitted herself as a walk-in candidate for the board at the VM annual meeting and had received eight votes, was not in fact a Westchase homeowner or spouse of one and was therefore not eligible to serve on the board. He said that if she had been elected to the board, it would have had catastrophic consequences and suggested Wait had violated board policies and procedures by talking to Harkins about running.

Goldstein said that he had told Wait to ask people interested in running for the board to contact him. Yesner asked if the accusation was that Wait had brought Harkins to the board.

Radcliffe resident Jim Wimsatt, who was present in the audience and had also stepped forward to run for the WCA board that night, asked, “What was the vetting process because I was never asked anything?”

Goldstein said that once someone expressed interest in running for the board that he talked to them about the process, the time commitment, what happens at the VM meeting and explained their fiduciary responsibility. Wimsatt, however, pointed out, “But people show up the day of, like me.” He asked, “Who vets them?”

When Wimsatt was told legal counsel, he replied, “He never talked to me.”

Collazo said the bottom line is next time we need to be prepared to do on-site vetting. A member of the audience suggested making the statement at the meeting that you have to be a homeowner or a spouse of one to run.

During the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) report, Wimsatt (a member of the committee) said he had met with the mayor of Oldsmar and the GAC was now back on good terms with Oldsmar. Goldstein said GAC needed to be more proactive and that a satirical April Fool’s article in WOW Northwest had soured the relationship.

GAC member DelSordo said she was working with West Park Village VMs to work on traffic and parking issues in the neighborhood. She mentioned that developer Grady Pridgen was planning to build 40 townhouses, which would add additional traffic and parking strains to the already packed neighborhood. (Pridgen owns the parcel that runs parallel to the railroad tracks on Tate Lane at the end of Montague Street.)

VM Nancy Sells asked if it was too late to fight the developer. Goldstein said, “Once the decision is made, it’s over. That’s why we need to become more proactive.”

Wait said that she had been the Majority Whip’s Legislative Aid for the Florida State House of Representatives and still had contact in the government and was happy to help out but that at some point, when Goldstein got mad at her, she had been pushed off the GAC.

Referring to Sells’ comments in the Resident Forum, Collazo asked, “Do we want to discuss Nancy’s statement now?”

Wait responded, “If you want to continue to attack me, the estoppel is not my issue. I’ve seen so many people that have grudges and put those first when you should put the residents’ interests first.”

Collazo asked, “Are you going to answer Nancy’s question?”

Wait responded, “What is her question?”

Sells refered to the Facebook post on Wait’s personal page and asked her to explain her reference to what was going on.

Wait’s Nov. 6 post on her personal Facebook page read, “Does anyone live in The Bridges that wants to help me get elected to the position of Voting Member of The Bridges? I am looking for people to help me educate their neighbors on what has been going on lately and also to make them aware their voice/vote is represented by their VM. How many Bridges residents even know who the current VM is? How many of you have ever been communicated to by them? I am hoping to educate everyone throughout this process and to earn peoples’ [sic] respect and also vote so that we can slowly make progress in making a positive change in and for Westchase and its residents.”

Wait said it would come to light but that she was not going to sink to their level. Sells said she did not disagree with Wait that she could do a better job as VM of her neighborhood but asked why she attacked other VMs when there were many who did a good job.

Wimsatt said, “I saw Ashley’s post and read it in a different way. I saw it as a call to get involved.”

Maloney agreed that she read Wait’s post the same way and said, “I think Ashley did a good job of getting people involved . . I wanted to get involved but am discouraged by this behavior.”

Wait responded, “I’ve heard from many people who say they want to get involved but they never receive a return phone call.”

Sells agreed that educational posts were good but suggested that Wait be careful about context and impact and think about how her posts could be read.

Turning to other matters, all directors voted in favor of year-end gifts for staff and non-staff.

Directors tabled a homeowner’s request to post “no trespassing” signs on their fence. The homeowners said they were told they had to do so by their legal counsel and the sheriff if they wanted to pursue a case against their neighbors they claim have trespassed on their property. Directors tabled the decision until they could get advice from the WCA’s legal counsel. WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga, however, said he was against approving the decision because it would open up other similar requests for other reasons.

Directors voted 6-1 (with Arrillaga casting the dissenting vote) to approve Collazo and Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz working out a suspension of parking rules for the holidays.

DelSordo said that she was putting together a Facebook page, Westchase Community Chronicles, that would be the official voice of the WCA.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Nov. 10, 2018

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CDD Addresses Tornado Damage

At their Nov. 6 month meeting, supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) heard a rundown of damage caused by a tornado that struck portions of The Greens, Village Green and The Bridges on Friday, Nov. 2.

Supervisors began by unanimously approving a three-year bid for their audit from Grau and Associates for $7,700 annually. They returned to the matter when District Manager Andy Mendenhall checked what amount they had paid this year. When he discovered the amount represented a $200 increase, he committed to inquiring with Grau to see if the company would honor this past year’s price.

When asked by Supervisor Greg Chesney if the district’s engineer had researched a proposed site for a cell tower on the southern edge of Glencliff Park, Field Manager Doug Mays stated he had heard nothing from CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart on the issue.

Making her report, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated CDD staff would have to maintain basic minutes of any workshop meetings they hold.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall then briefed supervisors on his research into ways of making the district’s web site ADA compliant. He offered three approaches, with the most basic first step being a $200 review of the current site. Supervisors authorized the expenditure, 4-0, and requested he return with a formal bid and proposal from a company that could design and occasionally audit the district’s website for compliance with the federal law.

Field Manager Doug Mays then briefed supervisors on the Nov. 2 storm, which struck just as district staff were preparing to leave for the weekend. “As you know we had a pretty good storm Friday night,” said Mays. “Our guys jumped on it pretty good.”

Mays said the tornado below over 25 to 30 trees, which fell across neighborhood roads and into ponds. The number included at least three that toppled on a vehicle, a home and a pool cage. Mays stated that Davey crews immediately began removing trees on major roads. “Davey brought in some guys on Saturday.” He added that CDD staff added a tree service crew to the mix the next day. “They were here all Saturday.”

In all, the district spent $7,500 on overtime and clean up. Mays added homeowners offered food and drink to the crews as they worked. “The residents were really appreciated of it.”

Turning to another project, Mays said he was still working to locate a vendor for a proposed entrance monument for the Greendale neighborhood. Specifically he said he is looking for a vendor that could produce the white capstone bricks.

Mays also brought a $7,100 bid for a replacement Trane HVAC system for the district’s offices. He stated the aged system had stopped working. Supervisors unanimously approved the bid.

Mays then stated that a resident had contacted him, complaining of dead branches in the red cedars between Chelmsford and Gretna Green Drive. While the resident did not live on any property adjacent to the trees, she was insisting that her request to completely remove the trees be put on record. “They’re not dead,” May said of the mature trees, saying the dead branches can be trimmed out and the cedars will fill back in. “They’re healthy trees. There is nothing wrong with them.”

Supervisors backed Mays’ recommendation that the trees be maintained and left alone. He concluded by saying he committed to the resident to bring the matter up. “She wants to go on record saying she wants them removed. I’m going on record saying, ‘No.’”

Mays concluded his report with an update on previously announced work at the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection. Previously county officials had appeared and announced that work would begin in October to extend eastbound Linebaugh’s northern turn lanes onto Sheldon Road. Delays in the just concluded sewer line rerouting project, however, delayed the start. Rather than impact the intersection during the busy holiday season, the county, Mays said, had decided to have the contractor replace the median and begin the turn lane project in three months.

Returning to a proposed Biomass bid for repairs on 200 feet of a West Park Village pond bank, supervisors unanimously approved the $19,100 bid after rejecting a cheaper bid for repairs they felt proved less reliable in another pond.

Supervisors then briefly discussed a proposal to lease two district owned pieces of land to Vertex for cell towers. (See related article, page 15.)

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte then announced that the district was working with the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) Government Affairs Committee regarding West Park Village’s streetlights. Under an agreement with TECO, the West Park lights are treated differently from other county-owned lights. In some cases, Whyte said, TECO has replaced old sodium bulbs in streetlights with whiter and brighter LED bulbs which are flooding nearby homes with unwanted light. According to the GAC, said Whyte, some residents have spray-painted the LED bulbs black, leading TECO to threaten to charge the community $1,000 for their replacement. CDD Attorney Erin McCormick committed to researching the lights to determine if the district really had any responsibility for or ownership of them.

CDD Chair Jim Mills concluded by observing it was Election Day and that last June during qualifying for the district’s two open seats, Supervisor Chesney was automatically reelected when no one filed to run against him. He added that the seat held by Supervisor Barbara Griffith was won by Kingsford’s Forrest Baumhover when no one but he filed for it.

While Griffith was absent, Mills concluded by observing the board had a gift commemorating her service. “I just want to acknowledge her contributions and passion during her time on the board.”

Supervisor Chesney agreed. “I think Barbara overall made some very important contributions.” Citing her work promoting the arts as well as other suggestions, Chesney added that her contributions shouldn’t be forgotten. “She did have a different eye on things.”

In other actions:

Field Manager Doug Mays stated that after multiple contractors could not repair the broken phone line to the Radcliffe Drive gates of Harbor Links, staff had a vendor install a cellular phone system that would cost the neighborhood $40 monthly.

CDD staff stated that despite the announced closure of Glencliff Park in November to install a new slide, the new slide did not arrive.

Supervisor Greg Chesney, who reported at the Oct. 23 workshop that Westchase Golf Course owner Nick Neubauer had shown no interest in proceeding with the course’s sale to the district, stated that he had not yet called Neubauer to specifically ask him, as Supervisor Brian Ross’ requested, what aspects of the district’s offer were not acceptable to him.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Nov. 9, 2018

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From the President, Nov. 2018: President Welcomes Newest Board Members

I’d like to begin by welcoming our newest board members, Michele DelSordo and Shawn Yesner, to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board.

As they have already learned, being a Westchase board member is hard work. Yet we all do this job because it is our calling to serve this wonderful community. As you might imagine, board members bring their own experiences, perspectives and individual “lenses” to the position. I’m proud to say that Westchase continues to be such a successful community because of this incredible cross-section of talent. We are lucky to have such great volunteers and each of us is looking forward to this next year of community service.

As we enter into the holidays, I would like to remind everyone that each November the WOW conducts an incredible food drive that successfully delivers tons of groceries to needy families. This year, I’m calling on Westchasers to dig deeper and make this year’s food drive the most successful ever. Remember, though the economic times are good, there are still many needy families, literally right around the corner from us. Times are especially tough for families displaced by hurricanes. Many find themselves in new communities far away from the homes they knew.

I also want to remind everyone to vote. Who you vote for is up to you. What matters to us as a community is that politicians recognize that Westchase can turn out the vote. High voter turnout in our precincts translates into political capital that we can use to our advantage when seeking our share of the attention and resources from county government. So please vote.

Speaking of voting, half of our villages will soon have the opportunity to elect voting members. Voting members (VMs) are the backbone of our system of governance. Voting members represent the neighborhoods. They update our guidelines, amend our deed restrictions and elect our board members. This is an important and rewarding volunteer position for those who take on this role. Please return your proxy cards. It’s easy to miss them in the mail, and it’s also easy to forget to fill them out and return them. So please make a note of it.

I’d like to close by alerting everyone to the fact that if it weren’t for unlocked cars, there wouldn’t be any car break-ins in Westchase (or almost none). The rash of car burglaries we’ve experienced lately really haven’t been car break-ins at all. They have been crimes of opportunity. Please don’t leave valuables visible in your car and please lock your cars.

Thanks for reading. As always, feel free to reach out to me at any time. Email is always the best way to reach me. My email address is theshires@verizon.net.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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When Do You Have to File a Modifications Application?

Some confusion exists around Modifications applications and this month I’d like to try to clarify things.

Over the last few months we’ve seen increase in exterior modification/alterations being done without first receiving Modification Committee approval. Some owners believe that if they are just doing same-for-same/like-for-like, such as painting their house the same color or removing a tree and planting a new one, then no approval is required. Please know that guidelines periodically change. When that happens, new modifications must comply with the current guidelines, not those in place at the time of the original modification.

We therefore implore all owners to always submit a Modification application for anything they are doing to your home’s exterior, even if you are not sure. Call us, email us or stop by the office to pick our brain—anything to prevent a notice of non-compliance being issued. This will help you avoid a possible costly correction if you are not complying with the current guidelines. We are always here to answer any question you have.

It’s hard to believe that in just two more months we’ll be entering a new year. As we enter the Florida fall season, Nov. 4 ends Daylight Saving Time, which means it will begin to get darker earlier. We ask that everyone make a conscious effort to pay special attention during the early evening hours when driving home and children are out playing.

We will be closing our pools and tennis courts on Thanksgiving Day to allow our staff time to celebrate with their family. We appreciate your understanding.

This month you will be receiving your annual assessment notice along with a copy of the 2019 budget. Payments are due no later than Jan. 1, 2019. Please be sure to mail your payment with the coupon to the address on the coupon. You are also welcome to hand deliver your payment to our office. We do not accept credit card or cash payments—only check or money order made payable to Westchase Community Association. The annual fee for 2019 is $274.

As always, we are here to assist and guide Westchase residents with their questions and concerns. Please drop by our office at 10049 Parley Dr. next to the West Park Village Swim and Tennis Club or contact us at 926-6404 or through email at manager@wcamanager.com.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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A Month to Give Thanks

Yes, it’s a month that begins with a very important, and, at times divisive election.

Yet it is also a month where Americans gather to celebrate a wonderful holiday that is unique to the United States.

A day that has inspired an equally wonderful tradition that is unique to Westchase.

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 22 this year. And while I love that day and the goodness surrounding it, one of my truly favorite days of the year will occur the Sunday prior, Nov. 18.

Nov. 18 marks the annual Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive, one of the most amazing community traditions we have. On that day folks throughout our neighborhoods—folks from all walks of life—come together to achieve something powerful:

We feed thousands of needy families throughout Tampa Bay.

At 1 p.m. I will climb onto the back of a Metropolitan Ministries truck and greet some amazing adults and kids. Scores of moms and dads, grandparents, and a cornucopia of kids will gather in the parking lot of Westchase Elementary. Dozens of teens seeking high school service hours will join the chaos along with other kids representing the service ideals of their Scout troops. Joining these residents will be business leaders offering generous matches to encourage residents to participate. Their participation promises to multiply your generosity.

It is a way to build bridges and remember that far more unifies us as Americans than divides us.

So I ask a personal favor of you, our reader, this month. If you’ve participated in the drive before, I thank you and ask you to participate generously again.

If you’ve not yet participated, please take a few minutes to look at the drive’s food list in our cover feature, beginning on page 4 (our feature will even tell you how you can support the drive if you’re leaving town before Nov. 18). Please stop by the grocery store, pick up a few of the items or an entire meal (whatever you can afford), and lend a helping hand so that less fortunate kids can also enjoy a happy Thanksgiving. Simply leave your donation at the end of your driveway (or by your mailbox in the front of your home) right before 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18.

In closing, please remember that WOW is self-sufficient. We receive no portion of your HOA or CDD fees and are entirely dependent on advertising to cover our production costs and charitable giving. If you enjoy WOW and would like to help keep the magazine and its charitable work strong, please let our generous advertisers know you saw them in WOW.

I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at WOW!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase’s 11th Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive Nov. 18

This year marks the eleventh Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive and we need your help to break all records!

Last November a record 1,335 Westchase homes participated, donating a total of 678 turkeys (including a generous corporate match). In total, last year we filled three trucks with an estimated 42,125 pounds of food and $752.50 in gift cards and other checks to Metropolitan Ministries.

This year WOW will bring the food drive to several hundred more homes in Westchester and West Hampton after expanding it last year to the generous folks living in Highland Park, Mandolin, Windsor Place and Westwood Lakes.

To enhance participation, WOW is offering a prize of $250 for a holiday block party for the top performing neighborhoods. This year two neighborhoods with the highest percentage of homes donating frozen turkeys will win $250 for a holiday block party. One prize will be offered in Westchase and another in the top subdivision that receives WOW Northwest.

WOW is also offering $200 for a holiday block party to the Westchase and Northwest neighborhoods that show the greatest improvement in overall participation in the food drive over last year. (See the neighborhood table from last year for results and organize your neighbors to participate.)

Click here to view the list of needed items.

Business Matchers

To further encourage residents to participate, a number of generous businesses have committed to making corporate matches. They will match portions of your contributions so you can have an even bigger impact.

Who is participating?

Our longest committed corporate matchers, Josh Butts of Cornerstone Insurance and The Wood Team of Smith & Associates are both returning. Cornerstone Insurance has committed to donate one turkey for every four donated. The Wood Team has committed to matching one can of food for every home that participates in the drive.

Also returning this year are Clinical Psychologist Dr. Maria Aranda and Pediatrician Dr. Christine Armstrong of Children’s Medical Center of Westchase. Both have committed to matching one can for every turkey donated by residents.

Maria Kletchka of Keller Williams Tampa Properties will donate one can of food (up to $500) for every turkey donated.

How to Help?

To join the community effort, simply purchase as many of the food items as you wish from the list running with this article and place them out on your driveway at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19 (West Park Village and Highland Park residents, however, are asked to place donations out by their mailboxes at the curb rather than in the neighborhood’s alleys).

Whether you can afford only a few cans or an entire meal (see our Box of Hope inset for the list), we welcome your participation. If you are donating from your pantry, please check expiration dates before placing items out for donation. As part of the drive, food is sorted and expired items have to be discarded.

The weekend prior to the drive, volunteers will leave a flyer with the list at your door so you can take it to the supermarket with you.

If you’re leaving town before Sunday, Nov. 18, you can still participate. You can drop your donations off early at 10314 Seabridge Way in The Bridges or at the The Wood Team’s Smith & Associates office in the Westchase Publix plaza.  You can also leave donations with a neighbor to set out on your driveway on Nov. 19. (No frozen turkeys can be dropped off early, however, since no freezer space is available). Please include your address and subdivision name with your donation so that your neighborhood receives credit.

WOW’s food drive volunteers will do the rest. Dozens will canvass neighborhoods and deliver reminder flyers over the weekend of Nov. 11-12.  On Sunday, Nov. 19, volunteers will then drive through your neighborhood to pick up donations.

If you are donating a frozen turkey, please place it out as close to the 1 p.m. pick-up as possible to help keep it frozen.

If you are interested in volunteering with the drive, simply e-mail WOW Editor Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com. We especially need volunteers in the Westwood Lakes, West Hampton and Westchester neighborhoods.

WOW hopes even more residents and businesses participate in the food drive’s matching campaign. Simply e-mail WOW Publisher Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com for information on how you can be a matching partner.

Metropolitan Ministries

A Tampa institution, Metropolitan Ministries is an ecumenical organization that assists Tampa’s community of homeless and hungry citizens in ways that instill both dignity and self-sufficiency. Established in 1972 by 13 churches of different denominations, Metropolitan Ministries now occupies a sizable campus on Florida Avenue and helps tens of thousands of Tampa Bay’s poorest families – and their children – each holiday season.

Who Is Matching Your Donation?

Josh Butts of Cornerstone Insurance: 1 additional turkey for every 4 donated turkeys
The Wood Team/Smith & Associates: 1 can for every Westchase home that participates
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Maria Aranda: 1 can for every donated turkey
Dr. Christine Armstrong of Children’s Medical Center of Westchase: 1 can for every donated turkey
Maria Kletchka of Keller Williams Tampa Properties: 1 can for every donated turkey (up to $500)

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photos by James Broome Photography

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WOW Visits Asia

Tim, Carmen Gloria, and Sarah Creighton of The Greens took WOW along their 16-day vacation to Japan, China, and Mongolia during May and June.

Their Creightons’ stop was Tokyo, where they visited all the interested sights in the city and enjoyed a day trip to Mt. Fuji.

The family’s next stop was Beijing, China, where they visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall, and many other interesting places.  They also took the famous bullet train, which traveled 191 mph, from Beijing to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors.

The last stop on the Creightons’ trip was Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.  The highlight here was visiting the giant Genghis Khan Equestrian statue located in the rolling hills outside the capital city.  Wrote Tim Creighton, “We also took a yak-drawn cart ride through the countryside, where we stopped and ate an authentic meal prepared and served by a Mongolian family who lived in a ger.”

A ger (what Mongolians call a yurt), Tim said, is a portable round tent made of animal-pelt covers and wooden columns with a round window at the top.

The Creightons plan their trips themselves and stay in Airbnbs and ride the local subways, buses and taxis, so they can get a first-hand experience of how the people live. Mongolia was the favorite for Carmen Gloria and Sarah due to the natural beauty of the countryside and the fascinating life lived by the nomadic people.  Tim liked China the best due to the massive and grand structures built for the emperors hundreds of years ago. 

We thank the Creightons for sharing their adventures with WOW.

By Tim Creighton and Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Will Your Neighbors and You Win a Holiday Party?

It’s time to haul out the ladder and tap your inner Griswold because the holiday decorating judges are coming!

But you have to remember to invite them! Judges for WOW’s 20th annual Westchase Holiday Decorating Contest will be hitting the road the weekend of Dec. 7-8! This year the best decorated subdivision, street or group of homes (our definition of “block”) will win annual bragging rights and $300 to throw a New Year’s block party. So get your neighbors organized today. (Hint: Shaming helps.)

The first, second and third place individual winners for best decorated house will also win a prize package to be determined (The individual home prizes are usually gift cards to home improvement stores so you can buy more holiday swag on discount after the holidays.)

One set of prizes will be awarded in Westchase; another set will be awarded within those neighborhoods receiving WOW Northwest.

Judging will take place the weekend of Dec. 7-8 (regardless of weather) and winners will appear in January’s WOW. Judging will take place in the evening after dusk so make sure your lights are on! To have judges look at your home, a neighbor’s home or your block (group of homes), please email the neighborhood name and house address(es) to Business Manager Leslie Blaze at billing@westchasewow.com by Thursday, Dec. 6.

After judging, a list of the area’s best homes will appear on http://www.westchasewow.com so that all residents can take a holiday light tour.

As a friendly reminder for our Weschase readers, decorative lights may be displayed between Thanksgiving and Jan. 15, according to the Westchase Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.

Good luck to all!

Want to Win?

This year, in order to give the judges time to do their holiday shopping, we’re not going to make them drive by every single house (It takes more than seven hours!). If you’d like your home, a neighbor’s home or a group of homes considered by WOW’s Decorating Contest judges, please email the neighborhood name and house address(es) to billing@westchasewow.com by Thursday, Dec. 6. You can submit your home or that of a friend. Don’t be shy!

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WCA Searching to Fill WOW Board Opening

With September’s resignation of a WOW Board member, the WCA is searching for a replacement for the WOW Board.

The WOW, Inc. Board, consisting of five Westchase homeowners, meets quarterly to oversee the magazine’s operations and set its operating policies. The affected seat will run through April of 2019, when the individual could be reappointed.

Interested residents of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) may submit their resumes, along with a one-page statement of interest in the position, to the WCA Board of Directors for consideration. Candidates must be WCA members in good standing; backgrounds in accounting, print and digital publishing and/or small business management are particularly helpful.

Resumes and statement may be submitted by e-mail by Friday, Nov. 16, to WCA Director Keith Heinemann at keith@tampabay.rr.com, via mail to the Westchase Community Association, Inc., 10049 Parley Drive, Tampa, FL 33626 or by fax to 926-1821.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Alonso Baseball to Host Annual Golf Tournament

Golfers and sponsors needed for Alonso’s Nov. 18 fundraiser.

Calling all golfers—and local businesses, too! The two-time state champion Alonso Ravens Baseball Team will be holding its annual fundraising golf tournament on Sunday, Nov. 18 at the Westchase Golf Course. The tournament, which begins at 1 p.m., is the team’s primary source of funds and all proceeds will be used to improve the program, purchase needed equipment and upgrade their facilities.

If you would like to support this worthy cause, the team is seeking golfers, sponsors and community partners who are willing to donate food, drinks and door prizes. Sponsorships range from $100 to $2,500, are tax deductible and offer a variety of recognition opportunities. Golfers may participate as individuals or teams, and various prizes will be awarded. The cost is $100 per person, which includes cart, green fees and a banquet dinner. 

To register for the tournament or get more information on sponsorships, please contact Cathy Fahrman at (813) 508-6242 or visit the Alonso Booster Club at http://www.alonsoboosterclub.com

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By Les Young

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Wait! Are You Trying to Vote at the Right Place?

Each Election Day scores of Westchase and Northwest voters wind up going to the wrong sites to vote. How can you avoid a last minute, unexpected detour?

Where should you vote? Early voting (Oct. 22-Nov. 4) has specific locations, with the closest to the Westchase area being the Maureen B. Gauzza Library. But if you’re voting on the day of the Nov. 6 primary election, you need to go to your specific precinct. You can’t just show up at the library if you’ve voted there before. Check first to see if it’s your specific, assigned precinct on Election Day.

On Election Day, if you live in Westchase within The Fords and The Greens and all villages east of there, you vote in Precinct 500, at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. If you live in Radcliffe, Saville Rowe, and Harbor Links/The Estates and Westchase villages off Countryway Boulevard, you vote at Precinct 508 at the Maureen G. Gauzza Library. (On Election Day itself, only these folks can vote at the library.)

If you live in Windsor Place, Mandolin, Westchester or Highland Park, on election day you vote at Precinct 506, located at Bay Hope Church at 10701 Sheldon Rd. Residents of Westwood Lakes and West Hampton cast ballots at Precinct 527, in the Bayanihan Center’s Philippine Art and Cultural Foundation, 14301 Nine Eagles Dr.

Keith Heinemann, the head of Precinct 508, which is located at the library on Election Day, emphasized the importance of knowing your proper home precinct voting location if you’re voting on Nov. 6. He commented about previous Election Day voting, “In 508, we redirected more errant voters than actual precinct voters in the past two cycles.  We even get voters from other locations around the area.”

Heinemann added, “It may not be a big issue, but it can be a problem for someone who is on their way to work, or having to pick up the kids from school, etc., to be redirected. We always have to hold our breath and hope the errant voters who show up at 6:30 p.m. can get to the right place before the polls close.

Visit http://www.votehillsborough.org for more detailed information and to see your sample ballot.

Important Election Dates

2018 Elections

Registration Deadlines

Mail Ballot Request Deadline

Early Voting

Election Day

General Election

Oct. 9

Oct. 31

Oct. 22-Nov. 4

Nov. 6

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Are You Fit to be a Freebooter?

Join them on Nov. 16 and find out!

The Westchase Krewe of Freebooters have re-opened their recruitment season to fill an expanded membership roster for the 2019 season. The mission of the Westchase Freebooters is to provide a social, leadership and charitable platform for the benefit of the community that they call home. “We enhance the spirit that already makes the Westchase area a great place to live,” stated Eric Holt, president and captain of the local organization.

Now heading into their third season, Westchase’s very first Gasparilla Krewe is more than just a group of paraders. The Freebooters have provided volunteer support for some of Westchase’s most prominent events, such as the Great West Chase, the Thanksgiving Food Drive, and the Santa Pre-Flight Parade. Just last month, the Krewe donated more than $4,000 to Westchase Elementary and Davidsen Middle School from funds raised at their annual golf tournament. “The individuals joining our Krewe want to be more than just socially active here in Westchase—they also want to do great things for our community,” said Holt.

During the parade season, the Krewe storms Tampa Bay aboard “The Montague”—their brand new, fully equipped, double-decker float named in honor of the very passage leading into the heart of Westchase. During the "off-season," they participate in social activities in addition to fundraising events for charitable organizations.

One thing that distinguishes the Westchase Krewe from the 70 other parade krewes in the Tampa Bay area is their Mermaid ambassador team—the official Mermaids of Gasparilla as a matter of fact. Mermaids are part of the krewe’s imagery and lore, and they are always at the helm during every parade.

The krewe is inviting anyone with interest in learning more about membership to join them at their monthly social. You won’t miss seeing Captain Holt there if you show up with yer eyes open!

For more information about Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters, visit http://www.kreweoffreebooters.com or call Captain Eric Holt at 727-2019.

Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters Social
Date: Friday, Nov. 16
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Irish 31, West Park Village
Other: Food and refreshments will be served

By Eric Holt

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Public Notice of Guideline Changes

At their Nov. 13 meetings, Westchase Voting Members will consider two neighborhood-specific guideline amendments for Stonebridge and The Reserve at West Park Village.

The Stonebridge amendment would change Section 9 of the Bridges Storm/Screen Door Guideline that requires screen and storm doors to match the color of the front door to require Stonebridge screen/storm doors to be black in color.

VMs will also consider adopting the color palette for Building 5 of The Reserve of WPV.  A specific description of the proposed color palette and sample colors can be viewed by contacting the Association Manager Debbie Sainz at manager@westchasewca.com.

At their Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 meetings, VMs will also consider adopting the color palettes for Buildings 6 and 7 of The Reserve of WPV.  A specific description of the proposed color palettes and sample colors can be viewed by contacting the Association Manager Debbie Sainz at manager@westchasewca.com.

For more information about the guidelines, please call (813) 926-6404.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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