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VMs Hear TECO Explain Power Outages

The February Westchase Voting Members meeting began with a presentation by TECO’s Alan Denham.

Denham’s task was to explain the power outages that occurred in Westchase after Hurricane Irma and why the west part of Westchase continues to suffer repeated outages.

After a hurricane, Denham explained, TECO’s goal is to restore power to as many people as possible, starting with hospitals and those on life support. He stated the main issue with restoration of the west part of Westchase was its inaccessibility due to flooding and standing water. The impacted area is a one-mile easement between Westchase and Twin Branch Acres. TECO eventually had to get access to special machinery to get into the flooded area. VM Alan Shabott (Abbotsford) asked, “Have you done anything to reconfigure or add redundancy to be able to service it better?”

Denham replied that nothing was reconfigured. He added that they noted tree limbs were touching lines in the area. “We identified on that circuit that tree trimming was needed so we’ve already done some of this.”

VM Brian Loudermilk (Keswick Forest), whose village was without power for five days asked what the results of the study that was done on the outages found. Loudermilk had hoped that his village could be switched to the Westchase circuit rather than the one shared with Twin Branch Acres, which has all overhead lines. Denham replied that they would temporarily hook the neighborhood up during longer outages. “But,” he added, “a permanent switch won’t be likely. The Westchase circuit is overloaded without as much capacity.”

Keswick Forest Alternate Leslie McCluskie asked, “Should neighbors call every time there is an outage?”

Denham replied that there is a way to text outages but said that for a prolonged outage, residents should definitely call. They should not report momentary, small outages where switching is occurring to keep power on. Denham closed the discussion saying that they are continuing to analyze data and looking at hot spots.

Following TECO's presentation, VMs held their final vote for Woodbay’s Rain Chains neighborhood guideline amendment and it was quickly approved.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) member Joe Odda updated VMs on road resurfacing. He said he had driven through Radcliffe and all of it looks to have been milled. He thinks they will be close to done by the end of next week and move on from there.

GAC Chair Rick Goldstein reported that he had continued to complain to the county about the length of time to finish the work on the reclaimed water line replacement on Linebaugh. He said that the contractor is also tired of hearing the complaints and they are anxious to finish the work. Goldstein stated they are hoping to finish by the end of February. Collazo said that the good news was that the reclaimed water was back on.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Feb. 15, 2018

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WCA Board Tackles Parking Problems and Fine Appeals

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors discussed parking issues in West Park Village (WPV) and Kingsbridge during their February meeting.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein reported that he had been working on transportation and parking issues the two neighborhoods.  He said that Davidsen parents dropping off and picking up students on Kingsbridge Avenue were creating many problems and that a task force had been formed with the intent of stopping the chaos during these times. He said extra law enforcement was needed during the morning and afternoon hours but that there was no guarantee that an on-duty officer could be present. Board President Ruben Collazo said he did not think association funds could be used to pay for an off-duty officer. Sean O’Donnell said, “I live there. It is very chaotic. The kids aren’t looking and people park on yards. The street is not big enough for that many cars.”

Identifying it as the cause of the problem, WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga said, “If you pick up your child at Kingsbridge, it takes five minutes. Montague takes 20.”  He asked if the light at Linebaugh and Montague could be extended to allow traffic on Montague to move faster. Goldstein agreed that the task force would continue to look into the problem and explore options.

Goldstein said that GAC was going to ask Hillsborough County to paint the curbs in WPV red to indicate no parking zones and the sheriff’s office would be asked to enforce no parking laws. He said that first responders were able to get to emergencies in the neighborhood in six minutes but WPV resident Michelle DelSordo said that she had talked to firefighters about their ability to get in and out of WPV in six minutes and they had told her that typically they were not able to get into the neighborhood in that amount of time. Goldstein said that under the law, first responders can barrel right through and not be held responsible for any damage to cars.

Fords resident Joe Odda, a member of Hillsborough County’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), told directors about the five strategic initiatives the CAC would be working on in the upcoming months. He said the initiatives were public-private partnerships, client self-sufficiency, customer service and satisfaction, transforming the service model and fiscal sustainability. He said he planned to volunteer to help with fiscal sustainability. Odda said that the county projected it would lose $30 million in revenue if an additional Homestead Exemption is approved by voters. He added he believed that working on this initiatative could have the most impact on important local transportation issues.

The board heard an appeal from a resident of The Greens who said he had not received his violation notices in a timely manner because they were sent by certified mail and since he worked long hours, he was not home when the carrier attempted to deliver the letters or able to get to the pick-up location before it closed. The homeowner had two separate violations he was appealing – the need for mulch and an adequate number of rows of plants. He reported that the mulch had been put down and directors all agreed to waive 90 percent of his fine for that violation. He said he had not been able to plant the additional rows of plants because his landscaper said they could not be planted due to the cold weather and were not even available at nurseries. Directors all agreed to deny the appeal but reduce the fine by 90 percent as long as the fine for mulch was paid in 90 days and the extra row of plants were planted by March 6.

Board members voted 5-1, with Director Ashley Wait opposed, to deny an appeal concerning a dirty roof. The homeowner stated there was damage to the roof and that she is currently in litigation to have the roof repaired by her insurance company. She stated her lawyer had told her not to go up on the roof while the matter is in litigation. Ross said that they have been asking for more information for four months and that the legal matter could go on for several years. He added that it was not fair to her neighbors to ask them to put up with her dirty roof.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that 548 homeowners were delinquent with their annual fees. She said this was about the same number of homeowners as last year. She reported that they had also changed garbage collection at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway from twice a week to once a week, which would save money.

Westchase Community Foundation (WCF) President Sean O’Donnell reported that the Westchase Tennis Tournament was very successful. “They did an excellent job and raised $15,000 for WCF. Part of the reason it was so successful was because they were able to use the tennis courts for free.” He asked the board to approve the use of the tennis courts for a similar tournament in 2019. All voted in favor of his request.

All directors agreed to allow Operations Manager Kelly Shires and the summer camp employees to explore new ideas for field trips for summer camp this year.

Collazo said the Greenacre association management contract was up for renewal and that the company had asked him to meet with them to talk about renewing it. He said he thought WCA Treasurer Forrest Baumhover should also attend the meeting but would like an additional board member there. Arrillaga volunteered.

Director Forrest Baumhover was absent from the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Feb. 15, 2018

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WCA Board Tackles Parking Problems and Find Appeals

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors discussed parking issues in West Park Village (WPV) and Kingsbridge during their February meeting.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein reported that he had been working on transportation and parking issues the two neighborhoods.  He said that Davidsen parents dropping off and picking up students on Kingsbridge were creating many problems and that a task force had been formed with the intent of stopping the chaos during these times. He said extra law enforcement was needed during the morning and afternoon hours but that there was no guaranteed on-duty officer that could be present. Board President Ruben Collazo said he did not think association funds could be used to pay for an off-duty officer. Sean O’Donnell said, “I live there. It is very chaotic. The kids aren’t looking and people park on yards. The street is not big enough for that many cars.”

Identifying it as the cause of the problem, WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga said, “If you pick up your child at Kingsbridge, it takes five minutes, Montague takes 20.”  He asked if the light at Linebaugh and Montague could be extended to allow traffic on Montague to move faster. Goldstein agreed that the task force would continue to look into the problem and explore options.

Goldstein said that GAC was going to ask Hillsborough County to paint the curbs in WPV red to indicate no parking zones and the sheriff’s office to enforce parking laws. He said that first responders were able to get to emergencies in the neighborhood in six minutes but WPV resident Michelle DelSordo said that she had talked to firefighters about their ability to get in and out of WPV in six minutes and they had told her that typically they were not able to get into the neighborhood in that amount of time. Goldstein said that under the law, first responders can barrel right through and not be held responsible for any damage to cars.

Fords resident Joe Odda, a member of Hillsborough County’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), told directors about the five strategic initiatives the CAC would be working on in the upcoming months. He said the initiatives were public-private partnerships, client self-sufficiency, customer service and satisfaction, transforming the service model and fiscal sustainability. He said he planned to volunteer to help with fiscal sustainability. Odda said that the County projected it would lose $30 million in revenue if an additional Homestead Exemption is approved by voters and that much he thought working on this imitative could have the most impact on transportation issues that are important to area residents.
 
The board heard an appeal from a resident of The Greens who said he had not received his violation notices in a timely manner because they were sent by certified mail and since he worked long hours, he was not home when the carrier attempted to deliver the letters or able to get to the pick-up location before it closed. The homeowner had two separate violations he was appealing – the need for mulch and adequate rows of plants. He reported that the mulch had been put down and directors all agreed to waive 90 percent of his fine for that violation. He said he had not been able to plant the additional rows of plants because his landscaper said they could not be planted due to the cold weather and were not even available at nurseries. Directors all agreed to deny the appeal but reduce the fee by 90 percent as long as the fine for mulch was paid in 90 days and the extra row of plants were planted by March 6.

Board members voted 5-1, with Director Ashley Wait opposed, to deny an appeal concerning a dirty roof. The homeowner stated there was damage to the roof and that she is currently in litigation to have the roof repaired by her insurance company. She stated her lawyer had told her not to go up on the roof while the matter in in litigation. Ross said that they have been asking for more information for four months and that the legal matter could go on for several years. He added that it was not fair to her neighbors to ask them to put up with her dirty roof.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that 548 homeowners were delinquent with their annual fees. She said this was about the same number of homeowners as last year. She reported that they had also changed the garbage collection at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway from twice a week to once a week, which would save money.

Westchase Community Foundation (WCF) President Sean O’Donnell reported that the Westchase Tennis Tournament was very successful. “They did an excellent job and raised $15,000 for WCF. Part of the reason it was so successful was because they were able to use the tennis courts for free.” He asked the board to approve the use of the tennis courts for a similar tournament in 2019. All voted in favor of his request.

All directors agreed to allow Operations Manager Kelly Shires and the summer camp employees to explore new ideas for field trips for summer camp this year.

Collazo said the Greenacre contract was up for renewal and that the company had asked him to meet with them to talk about renewing the contract. He said he thought Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover should also attend the meeting but would like an additional board member there. Arrillaga volunteered.

Director Forrest Baumhover was absent from the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Feb. 15, 2018

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WCA Board Tackles Parking Problems and Fine Appeals

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CDD Announces Westchase Street Sweeping Feb. 15-16

Westchase’s spring street sweeping, aimed at cleaning up the deluge of leaves that has fallen in recent weeks, is scheduled for this week. Yet if you want the curb in front of your home swept clean, you need to avoid street parking on the sweeper’s designated days.

The sweeping is done a few times annually by the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) on roads within the district. To successfully complete the task, they ask all residents to avoid street parking and instead park all vehicles in driveways during the day on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 15-16. (Go ahead and set a reminder now on your phone so you don't forget.)

Thanks for your cooperation!

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Westchase Q and A: February Celebrations

This month we asked residents: Which holiday will you be celebrating in February?

Kristen DeAngelo (with daughter Avery and parents, Kathy and John Prible), The Bridges
I really look forward to Valentine's Day. We usually have a quiet dinner at home, then jump in the hot tub. I guess the Super Bowl is a pretty big deal in February. I'm really not that big a football fan but I do watch it. I think the halftime show and the commercials are sometimes more interesting than the actual game. I've always associated February with my mom and dad's anniversary. They'll be celebrating their forty-ninth anniversary on the first of February and it will be wonderful to be able to share that with them.

Amy Hewitt, West Park Village
I own a business called All The Buzz Cookies and February is a very busy month for me. I make custom-decorated sugar cookies for special events and birthday parties, and there's usually a lot going on in February. My husband and I do like to go out for a dinner date on Valentine's Day. We usually go to Ocean Prime so we can use our Christmas gift card. Our church has a wonderful program called Married for Life in February. It's a great encouragement to our community and something to really celebrate.

Susan Higginbotham, Kingsbridge
We have a big family in Tampa. There are 21 of us and we are always doing things together. February is a big birthday month for the family. My daughter Camryn is going to be 8. My sister-in-law and I are planning a spa day-themed birthday party for three of the girls in the family. We have so many family things going on that we don't do too much for Valentine's Day. My husband usually cooks dinner and we just relax at home. Now that the kids are getting older, we should probably start thinking about new things to do for family events. Maybe our next big thing should be a Mardi Gras-themed Party. We could get some beads and a Three Kings Cake.

Sebastian and Morisa Pacheco, West Park Village
We are new to Westchase. Actually we are new to America. We are from Argentina but wanted to come to the United States for a business opportunity. We'll be opening an Alte Mere franchise. The company does after-market automobile detailing like window tinting and security systems. We visited a number of cities in Florida and really liked Tampa. It is very welcoming. We are learning so much about American customs. We were amazed at Halloween. We don't really have anything like that in Argentina. We don't have American football so the Super Bowl will be a brand new experience for us. We are really looking forward to making our home here and learning about all the holidays and fun things that happen here.

By Phil Dean

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Stopping to Breathe

Often people are moving so fast, so busy with life, they are not paying attention to how they are breathing.

Take a breath and observe what is happening to your body. Are you breathing from a state of rest or from a state of anxiety? It matters because we live in two states of being: the parasympathetic state and the sympathetic state.

Both are part of the autonomic nervous system and are purposeful and necessary for survival. The parasympathetic state is a state of rest. During that state, the systems of the body perform functions like digesting food, creating, removing waste from the body and relaxing.

When in the sympathetic state, you are in the fight-or-flight state. Breathing pattern increases, blood pressure increases, blood sugar levels increase, and the body functions in survival mode to literally escape a situation or fight for your life. The body’s response is no different than if you were being attacked by a bear or dealing with stressors of modern-day society.

When breathing from an anxious state, there is a tendency to overuse muscles in the neck and shoulders like the sternocleidomastoid (scm), the trapezius (traps), erector spinae and levator scapulae. When you are breathing properly from a restful state, those muscles are not used.

Research says you take over 20,000 breathes a day. Imagine day after day, year after year, using neck and shoulder muscles for work they were not designed for. That is a lot of overuse!

Instead, it is primarily the diaphragm muscle that should be used for breathing. One way to practice is to lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your spine in neutral. You will know it is in neutral if you put your hands on your hips and your hands are parallel to the floor and ceiling. Then place a hand on your lower belly and take a breath. It should expand (rise) when you inhale. It should contract (deflate) when you exhale. If you are not use to this, it will take practice.

You can also practice sitting in a chair. Sit up tall. Take time outs frequently during the day to practice purposeful breathing and give your neck and shoulder muscles some relief.

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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Tampa Bay Woman of the Year Candidates Announced

The Eighth Annual Tampa Bay Woman of the Year fundraiser will take place on Friday, March 2 at the Sheltair jet hangar from 6:30-11:30 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Woman of the Year title is not based on an application with the candidate’s resumé, awards or former achievements. These women volunteer their time for eight weeks to raise money and collect donations for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF). This year the 16 amazing candidates include patrol deputies, a principal, business owners and entrepreneurs, philanthropists, an esthetician, an attorney, a broker, a former WCF grant recipient, and the youngest contestant yet. Please see the inset for this year’s candidates and please support their fundraising efforts.

The Woman of the Year event features a “Jetsetter” theme and live music by The Black Honkeys, delicious food from some of the best local restaurants, complimentary drinks all night, free valet service, a tour of private jets, networking, an exclusive VIP lounge with special perks, a 50/50 raffle, silent and live auctions, and more. Sign up today!

Tickets now through Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. are $60/person, $110/couple for general admission; VIP tickets cost $110/person, $200/couple. After Feb. 9 tickets cost $80/person, $150/couple for general admission; VIP tickets are $125/person, $225/couple. Visit http://www.tampabaywoman.org for tickets and more details.

WCF is a local 501c3 charity focused on helping children and their families when they fall on an unexpected hardship. They approve financial grants for these families when a child has been diagnosed with a serious illness or the family has been stricken with a tragedy.  

The foundation has helped children all over Tampa Bay including families in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. They give 100 percent of their net proceeds from the Tampa Bay Woman of the Year and all their other fundraisers directly to families. Since their inception in 2004, they have raised and given out over $450,000 in grants by running an annual Golf Tournament, Tampa Bay Woman of the Year event, and various events throughout the year.

Just by attending this fundraiser you will be helping a family in need. Sponsorships are also available. If you have any questions, please contact Trey Corish at 545-8122 or trey@corishinsurance.com.

2018 Tampa Bay Woman of the Year Candidates

Heather Alqinneh
Kaylene Atenza
Kristine Bennett
Ashley Christine
Hannah Cushing
Kathleen Escobio
Kelly Falsetti
Alicia Gangi
Sandra Jozic
Ali Lamb
Sarena Marques
Brandy McAdams
Megan Orendorf
Lisa Patel
Andrea Patterson
Maria Sosa

By Kimberly Wander

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12 Westchase Subdivisions to Have Roads Repaved

Between the end of January and mid-summer, 12 Westchase neighborhoods as well as Countryway Boulevard will see long awaited road repaving.

Appearing at the January Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting, Hillsborough County’s David Vogel announced that $1.2 million in repaving would commence in January.

The work will see resurfacing of the roads in every Westchase village off Countryway Boulevard except gated Harbor Links/The Estates, whose roads were repaved in recent years by the Westchase Community Development District, which owns and maintains them. Also excluded are roads in Berkeley Square and The Enclave, which are owned by their homeowners associations.

In addition, the county will repave all roads in Radcliffe and within two subdivisions of The Bridges, Wakesbridge and Baybridge.

Prior to repaving, the county will complete storm drain repairs in portions of The Bridges, Radcliffe and Woodbay. The work will involve tearing up portions of particular roads for up to two weeks to replace damaged storm water inlets and pipes.

According to Vogel, repaving will be done in the following order: The Shires, Keswick Forest, Glenfield, Bennington and Wycliff will consist of Phase 1, scheduled to be completed by June of 2018. 

Curb restoration, sidewalk replacement and resurfacing will begin in February and run through April in Radcliffe and Baybridge. Work in Woodbay will begin in May and run through July.

Vogel cautioned VMs that the work will involve heavy equipment and it will be noisy. Unless weather plays a factor, work will occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. When repaving work begins, residents are asked to turn off lawn sprinkler until it is completed as crews cannot pave wet surfaces.

Homeowners and their guests should observe all posted parking restrictions in anticipation of the work to avoid seeing vehicles towed.

Vogel also estimated that repaving of the very bumpy and potholed section of Countryway Boulevard between Linebaugh Avenue and Race Track Road is currently estimated to begin in July.

Villages to See Repaving

Baybridge
Wakesbridge
Radcliffe
Derbyshire
Ayrshire
Cheshire
Keswick Forest
Bennington
Woodbay
Glenfield
Wycliff
Glencliff

By Chris Barrett, Publisher, and Brenda Bennett

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Acai Bowls Come to Westchase

Cold Pressed Juice opened in early December in the Westchase Town Center and brings with it some popular and trendy foods.

The store serves acai and pitaya bowls, smoothies and cold pressed juices. The store manager said the acai bowls had been very popular with customers. Customers can choose from several specialty bowls or create their own. Each bowl includes a fruit base with toppings such as granola, coconut chips, chia seeds and raw honey.

Acai, a small berry, and pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, are both reported to be high in antioxidants, fiber and calcium. Owner Waleid Museitef said, “In the near future we will be expanding our menu to carry various organic snacks such as kale chips, cashews, almond and various organic fruit leathers.”

According to Cold Pressed Juice’s menu, all juices are cold pressed daily at the store and are 100 percent organic. Juices are stored in a cooler at the front of the store so customers can walk in and choose the one they want. Cold Pressed Juice has 15 juices to choose from, including a cold-pressed coffee drink with almonds, dates, maple syrup and vanilla and pineapple, spinach, carrot and beet juice mixes. They also serve seven different smoothies.

While there are cold pressed juice stores throughout the Tampa area, this is the first one in Westchase. “After carefully studying the area and the services that Westchase has to offer, we noticed that our concept was not represented in the area,” said Museitef. “Juicing and acai bowls are growing trends in the United States and we felt that this would be a perfect addition to the Westchase community.  Our goal is to introduce our products and educate the residents of this community to a healthier alternative when eating.” 

Customers can receive perks and discounts, including free items, through the Perka app.

Cold Pressed Juice is located at 9652 W. Linebaugh Ave. They are open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

By Marcy Sanford

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Resident Green Thumbs Share Their Secret to Fresh Cut Flowers

Flowers from a florist can be pricey. With a little preplanning, you could be presenting your sweetheart with a homegrown bouquet next Valentine’s Day.

Woodbay resident Larry Bedgood has spent years turning his yard into a flowery paradise. When blooms are at their peak, his yard is filled with thousands of flowers and he believes in sharing them with family and friends. Each day his wife gets a bouquet of flowers and when his White Ginger Lily is in bloom, he puts one in her car every morning so she can be treated to its delightful scent. He’s even willing to share flowers with his younger neighbors. “The children in our neighborhood love this yard. They’ll come by and ask if they can make a bouquet for themselves,” he said.

Radcliffe resident Emma Diaz has perfected the art of growing the most popular flower for commercial bouquets: roses. She has varieties with interesting names like Fragrant Cloud, Purple Passion, Double Delight, Hot Cocoa, Veteran’s Honor and Pope John II. Growing roses in Tampa isn’t easy, but Diaz has managed to coax beautiful blooms and fragrant flowers out of the rose bushes in her front yard. She even has a wild rose bush in her backyard that is almost as tall as her family’s house. “You really have to work with the roses,” Diaz said. “You have to deadhead them every week. The soil here is not very good for them. You also have to be diligent about looking for bugs year-round.”

Gerbera daisies are cheerful, fun flowers to have around and the more you cut them, the more flowers you’ll get. Westwood Lakes resident Stuart Berney started growing them several years ago and now has about 35 plants. He even has orange and yellow varieties that have cross-pollinated to produce a mix of orange and yellow daisies on each plant.

When the winters are mild, the daises will start blooming in January. According to Berney, they bloom throughout the summer, are very easy to care for and are deer resistant. “They do well in full sun to partial shade. I only have to come out for about five minutes in the morning to deadhead them and the more flowers you pick, the more they flower,” he explained.

Berney added that the flowers do fine with water from the irrigation system three times a week and that they will bloom until autumn, at which time he cuts them back.

While they might not be the best cut flowers, if you are patient, a potted orchid will re-bloom again and again. Westwood Lakes resident Ellen Ehmer has more than 14 orchids that are constantly in bloom. She explained that all she has to do is plant them in orchid soil and water once a month.

For those looking to get a jumpstart on planting, Lisa, a gardening professional with Green Thumb Nursery, said they currently have several options in stock that would be good cutting flowers and, as an added bonus, are deer resistant. She suggested planting dianthus, snapdragons, delphiniums and marigolds. All will continue to produce more flowers as you cut them and will hold up well in a vase.

Happy gardening! And please remember to run changes to your yard and home exterior by the Modifications Committee before planting.

WOW is always looking for yards and houses to feature. If you have a neighbor who has a fantastic yard or have one yourself, please send the street address to Marcy Sanford at marcysanford@gmail.com.

By Marcy Sanford

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A Talent for Voices

The Greens residents Cassie and Sabrina Glow know just want they want to do when they grow up.

Older sister, Cassie, 11, wants to be a fashion designer. Sabrina, 9, loves to cook and has aspirations to be a chef. In the meantime, these sisters are well on their way to career success outside those long-term goals. Pursuing a love for performing in musical theater productions, the girls stumbled upon another passion and talent they never knew they had: voiceovers. 

After performing in musical theater productions for a local organization, the girls asked their mom about possibly working in commercials. Mom, Susan, found opportunities for them in the Orlando area for Disney. “Because of their love of reading, singing and acting and love of animation and cartoons, they became more interested in the voiceover side of the business,” Susan said.

To help her girls succeed in their newfound interest, Susan turned to the internet to research networking and marketing opportunities. She turned to Skype to work with coaches and learned how to set up audition appointments. Then she began booking jobs for the girls. “We were told we couldn’t do this from Florida and would have to move to Los Angeles or New York. But Susan found a way to make it work and the girls today are widely known among many of the top agents in the industry.

Three years in the business now, the sisters are known as the Glow Girls. With clients all over the world, they record most of their work from their home studio. On occasion, they work with a professional recording studio in the Westshore area. For special clients, they travel to New York or Los Angeles to record their voices for many special characters. Over the past few years, the girls have completed projects for Disney Junior, Nick Jr, Disney TV Animation, Universal Kids, Sesame Studios and Fisher Price. While they enjoy all the work they do, each sister has her favorites.

Cassie’s favorite is the voice she provides for the character, Henriyeti, for a Sesame Studios YouTube cartoon. This project recently won an award at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. Other favorite projects include the Disney Channel/Star Wars Sweepstakes Commercial. She was also selected to be the voice of “Thumper” for the 75th Anniversary DVD re-release for the movie Bambi. During the interview for this article, Cassie gave the writer an example of the voice she used for the character. Closing her eyes and immediately getting into character, she was able to provide a line or two of the voice of the beloved fictional rabbit. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all,” she voiced. “I have so much fun doing this,” she said. “I just love it.”

Nine-year-old Sabrina was also hired for the Bambi re-release. She provided the voice of lead character, “Bambi.” For the character “Mila” for the YouTube cartoon “Morphle TV,” which has over 2.5 million followers, Sabrina gets to switch gears by playing a villain. When asked for a demonstration of the voice, sweet Sabrina morphs into a wicked sounding creature that shoots chills through the listener.

Together the girls have been hired for more than 200 voiceover jobs. They even do accents! By watching the movie Mary Poppins more times than they can remember, they were able to develop a British accent even Queen Elizabeth might not detect isn’t original.  From cartoons to Hallmark “speaking” ornaments, the girls voices can be heard many places. “The coolest thing about this is hearing your own voice on TV or on the radio,” they shared.

“As long as they’re having fun, we’ll keep doing this,” Susan said. The girls also find time lend their voices to charity. Reading for Audiobooks for “Learning Ally” is a project the girls want to continue doing in the future. These books are recorded for children with learning disabilities, blindness and dyslexia. “It’s their way of giving back,” Susan said.  They’re set to begin a new series for “Learning Ally” this year.

Downtime for the girls means trips to Disney, which is their favorite getaway. While there, they often use voices of princesses while they enjoy the parks –  a great way to mix business and pleasure! 

By Lisa Stephens

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

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New Sewage Project to Impact Westchase Entrance Beginning in May

Take a deep breath, Westchase. Another reclaimed water project is slated to impact the Sheldon Road community entrance starting in May.

It’s all part of a $210 million capital improvement project that will shut down two aged sewage plants and reroute their flow to an expanded facility behind Ed Radice Park.

The River Oaks plant at the intersection of Waters Avenue and Sheldon Road is notorious for its stink, prompting passing motorists to hold their breath until they’re well past the facility. It’s now 55-years-old and well past its useful life, according to county staff.

Under the $210 million capital improvement project, that sewage treatment plant will be shut down. The new project entails re-piping wastewater to another existing plant off South Mobley Road. Tucked at the very back of the access road to Ed Radice Park is the Northwest Wastewater Reclamation facility, which sits south of the park, surrounded by county mitigation lands between Deer Park Elementary and the southern tip of Highland Park.

Under the plan, projected to save $86 million for county taxpayers over the next 20 years, the Northwest plant is being expanded to handle the additional wastewater as well as new sewage produced by future Northwest developments. A portion of the project – the demolition of a treatment plant on Dale Mabry Highway and the rerouting of its wastewater to the plant – is complete. That portion cost an additional $35 million and resulted in work along the Citrus Park Drive median in front of Westfield’s Citrus Park Mall in 2016.

To reroute the sewage from the south, four miles of new 30- and 36-inch wastewater pipelines will be constructed between the River Oaks Plant on Waters up to the Northwest Plant. The chosen route starts at River Oaks and takes the new pipeline up Channel A and the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. The large pipes will be installed through open trenches but when the pipe intersects major thoroughfares like Linebaugh Avenue, trenchless tunnels will be bored beneath the road to minimize impacts. The county will build a new pumping station behind the county’s West Services Unit and health clinic on the east side of Sheldon Road (located just south of Linebaugh Avenue and the CSX railroad tracks). The new station, where no sewage will be treated, will have sound and odor control devices to minimize noise and odor.

Leaving the pump station, the new pipeline will then head west along Linebaugh Avenue in the median along the Costco property, cross under Linebaugh at the former Sweetbay property and shoot due north in the median of Sheldon Road. The pipeline will then cross Sheldon at the entrance to Fawn Ridge, where it will follow Fawn Ridge Boulevard before shooting due west in the utility easement along the southern border of Fawn Ridge. There it will connect with previously installed utilities.

The project, which began in January, is broken into segments ranging from 90 to 150 calendar days to complete, and will take months to finish.

Another portion of the project, the construction of a new reclaimed water line that will run from the Northwest plant down Sheldon Road to service Citrus Park, Westchase and Town ’N County, will more directly impact Westchase. That line will run down the Sheldon Road median in the area of the new sewage line and cross the road when entering Westchase at Linebaugh Avenue. The line will then proceed, through directional drilling rather than open trenches, down Westchase’s landscaped median between the Linebaugh lanes. It will tie into the existing reclaimed water main near Westchase Elementary School and TECO’s high voltage lines.

The project was briefly referenced in January WOW’s coverage of the Dec. 12 Voting Members meeting. That article included a quote from Project Manager Bill Harrington that may have given some readers the impression that work at the Linebaugh and Sheldon intersection, related to the installation of both sewer and reclaimed lines, would last about 35 days.

The installation of the reclaimed line will actually take 120 days but overall work at the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection will occur over 155 days.

"The intersection work is scheduled to begin in May and end in September," said Kara Walker of Hillsborough County's Communications Department

Harrington appeared at the January Westchase Community Development District (CDD) meeting to detail the project’s impacts on the intersection and median. In order to both bore new sewer lines and a new reclaimed water line beneath the intersection, lanes in each direction will be altered in five stages of 30 days each. In all cases, the county will maintain two through lanes and a dedicated left turn lane. Right turns will still be permitted but, in some cases, a dedicated right turn lane would temporarily not exist. The inset “Sheldon & Linebaugh Intersection Staging” that runs with this article illustrates the five stages with the areas in red indicating closed areas and the arrows showing redirected traffic flows.

Speaking to WOW in mid-December, Project Manager Bill Harrington stated the most disruptive time period for outbound Westchase commuters will last 35 days when the left hand turn lane on Linebaugh Avenue for northbound Sheldon Road will be closed for the intersection work. To compensate, the eastbound lanes will be reconfigured to still permit left turns from eastbound Linebaugh to northbound Sheldon. The current left lane for through traffic along eastbound Linebaugh will be converted into a left turn lane. Meanwhile the current dedicated right-turn lane for eastbound Linebaugh to southbound Sheldon will be converted into an additional through lane. Residents will still be able to make left and right turns. Traffic, however, will likely see disruption because the far right lane will be shared by through traffic and drivers turning right onto southbound Sheldon Road.

Harrington also assured the Westchase CDD, which maintain Westchase medians, that while pipe installation along Sheldon Road north of Westchase would be done by open trenches (the cause of the January removal of oaks in the Sheldon median outside of Fawn Ridge), the installation of a new reclaimed water line down Westchase’s median from Sheldon Road to the entrance of Westchase Elementary would be accomplished by underground directional boring, approximately 20 feet beneath existing landscaping. “There will not be open excavation,” he told supervisors. “It will be under the median.”

Harrington added, “Where we cause damage, of course, we have to restore it.”

CDD Chair Jim Mills stated to WOW, “CDD staff has already been pro-active with county personnel to fully understand what this project will mean to Westchase. As has been done with the Linebaugh Avenue project, your CDD staff, supervisors, and, if necessary, legal counsel, will closely monitor this project as well.”

Mills added, “While these projects do cause temporary inconveniences, infrastructure improvements do contribute to improved services provided to all of us by Hillsborough County.”

The Northwest Reclamation Facility is currently undergoing a significant expansion to handle the wastewater treatment for the western part of Hillsborough County. That expansion will serve the county for decades. Buffered by county owned land, the plant is incorporating noise and odor controls in order to minimize its impact on Deer Park Elementary, the Mandolin neighborhoods and Highland Park. In an effort to better control odor, the county will not treat bio-solids at the facility but move its bio-solid processing equipment to another site. Treatment tanks at the Northwest facility will also be covered and odor scrubbers installed to insure any released air is free of foul odor.

Once the lines are installed and the current expansion of the Northwest Wastewater Reclamation Facility is completed in December 2019, the River Oaks plant at Waters and Sheldon will largely be torn down. Some storage facilities may remain to help during heavy rains to help protect Tampa Bay. Public meetings will then occur to explore possible uses of that available land.

The entire project, which began in January, is expected to run into 2019. Demolition of the River Oaks plant will likely occur in late 2020 or early 2021.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Microscope on Medication

Medical science has come a long way and research continues to improve formulas for every ailment known to man.

It is truly amazing to see the progression for cures like smallpox to advancements in AIDs research and some cancers.

The best approach, in my opinion, is a hybrid approach of conventional and alternative, holistic medicine. Ideally, prevention is preferred whenever possible. The mindset of do whatever you want, and eat whatever you want until your body can’t take it anymore, then medicate, has to change. Most degenerative diseases are preventable and solutions a have often been suggested years ago. Every year scientist “discover” something my Great-grandma Ada, who could only write her name, taught me as a child, such as apple cider vinegar is good for digestion.

Nevertheless, I would never advise anyone to make changes to their prescriptions without first seeking the advice of their medical provider. For example, I often hear people resist taking blood pressure medication. High blood pressure can damage your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. You can potentially cause irreparable damage. Therefore, a better plan might be to use medication, and at the same time, work to restore your health to lessen your dependence on medication.

A huge challenge is the power of the pharmaceutical industry. It is over $1 trillion dollars annually. That’s a whole lot of money. The U.S. market accounts for the largest portion of these revenues. You can see where that may present a conflict of not wanting people to restore their health without a potpourri of prescription drugs. Moreover, medication frequently has potential risk and side effects.

Research varies widely, but the between 100,000 and 125,000 Americans die from prescription drugs annually. Of those, it is estimated that one-fifth take the prescriptions as prescribed! Depending on the resource, it is estimated that 700,000 ER trips each year are due to adverse reactions to drugs.

Suggestions for taking medicinal responsibility include:

• Team with medical providers you trust.
• Ask questions.
• Make sure your all of your physicians are aware of medications you are taking.
• Be knowledgeable of the side effects.
• Have a heavily plant-based diet.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Walk and strength train regularly.

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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Westchase Recreation Center Programs: February

Adult

Zumba
Join Greg and Peggy to dance and enjoy Caribbean rhythms.
When: Sat, 10 a.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Insane Fit Girls
Small group fitness training exclusively for women and tailored to your personal fitness level and goals in a supportive and safe group setting. Please email elaine@insanefitgirls.com.
When: Tue, Thu, Fri, 9:15 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

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

Seniors

Senior Field Trips
The first Thursday of every month seniors are offered a chance to take a variety of destination trips. To reserve your spot please call 964-2948. We are always looking for new ideas!

Thu, Feb. 1: Disney Springs Orlando
Thu, March 1: Strawberry Festival
Thu, April 5: Tampa Fun Boat

Seniors Outdoor Active Recreation (S.O.A.R.)
Seniors will have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful parks and resources with a guided tour.

Thu, Feb. 13: Cockroach Bay
Tue, March 13:  Green Swamp

Ballroom Dancing
No experience or partner required. Enhance your social skills and exercise while having fun!
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Aerobics Lite
A fun movement class designed for active seniors who love to stay fit while exercising to music.
When: Tue, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $2/Class

Yoga
Come to the gentle yoga class and learn how to tone and stretch your body while incorporating ancient practices to calm the mind and rejuvenate the spirit.
When: Thu, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Chair Yoga
Chair Yoga is designed for those who find it challenging to get up and down from the floor. It is also appropriate for those with balance issues. In this class, classical yoga poses will be taught with the aid of a chair.
When: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Pickleball Instruction Beginners*
Learn the fundamentals and rules of the game. Please call to schedule: 964-2948.
When: Mon, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m.  
Cost: Free

Pickleball Open Play*
Pickleball is a racquet sport combining the elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sat 2-4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Pickleball League Play*
Compete against other players at your skill level in league play. Please email kingsburym@hcflgov.net for more details.
When: Fri, 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Tone and Stretch
Exercise to build strength and flexibility and increase range of motion.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Walking Club
Rain or shine, the gym is open. Join your friends and track your progress.
When: Mon-Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Appy Hour
Bring your cell phone or tablet and learn how to use the latest apps.
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Youth

Playing with Clay
Explore multiple ways to create and decorate works of clay art. All creations will be kiln fired and painted the following class. Parents must stay and help children under 5.
Ages: All ages
When: Fri, 10 a.m.
Cost: $10+$2 materials fee per class; each project requires 2 classes

Hip Hop with a Purpose
Exploring the rich history and culture of Hip Hop dance. 
Ages: 8+
When: Fri, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Young Engineers
Join our fun and enriching science class where you’ll study a principle of physics, mathematics and mechanical engineering through experiments using original and motorized LEGO bricks. For more info email tampafl@e2.youngengineers.com.
When: Tue, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class plus one-time $10 registration fee.

Arts and Smarts
Hands-on enrichment classes featuring a variety of topics. Visit http://artsandsmartsinc.weebly.com or email artsandsmartsinc@gmail.com for class topics and registration information. It’s fun and learning – together.
Ages: 8 and up
When: Thu, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class

Pure Art
While working with a variety of materials and techniques, learn about famous artists (http://www.purearttampa.com).
Grades: K-5
When: First and third Sat, 9:30 -10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-noon
Fee: $10/Class

Eagle Claw Kung Fu
Come and learn an effective, combat-proven martial arts form and stay fit while participating.
Ages: 8 and up
When: Tue, 6:15-7:15 p.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Karate Do
Increase fitness, strength, flexibility and awareness. Karate teaches practical self-defense while reducing stress and tension and improving self-confidence.
Ages: 4 and up
When: Mon, Wed, 6:15 p.m.; Sat, 11:15 a.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Karate Do Black Belt Society
All black belts are welcome!
Ages: 15 and up
When: Sat, 2 p.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Girls Elementary Volleyball
Learn the basic skills and fundamentals of competitive play and have lots of fun!
Ages: Grades 3-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Girls Middle School Volleyball
Join our character-based program teaching volleyball skills, fundamentals and footwork.
Ages: Grades 6-8
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Tots

Toddler Time*
Activity zones are placed throughout the gym for toddlers to explore and socialize and play on with parent participation.
Ages: 5 and under
When: Thu, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Music and Mi
This mommy and mi class is a fun and educational approach to social, cognitive, self-esteem development. Classes include nursery rhymes, music and movement, sensory play, and much more. Visit http://www.facebook.com/musicandmi/ or contact dunialr@gmail.com for more information. 
Ages: 10 months-4 years
Cost: $3 Registration. $5 per session.

Basketball*

Middle-School Basketball*
Participants must be signed up in the Rec Trac system to participate in Open Gym.
When: Fri, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

High School Basketball*
Participants must be signed up in the Rec Trac system to participate in Open Gym.
When: Fri, 7:30-8:45 p.m.
Cost: Free

Family Open Gym*
Gym is open to families
When: Sat, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Adult Open Gym*
When: Thu, 6-9 p.m., and Sat, 7:30-11 a.m.
Cost: Free

*Online account required to participate.

All activities take place at:

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

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WOW Visits Lyon and Pompeii

WOW continued its widespread travels last summer with stops in France and Italy.

The first photo is of Mandolin Estates residents Maelle and Sophie Bernard. They are standing on the roof of Notre Dame de Fourviere in Lyon, France, a city of about a half million people. Lyon sits in eastern France, about 50 miles from Geneva Switzerland.

The Gothic Revival basilica opened in 1872 after being built from 1872-1884. The basilica is constructed on what is called the praying hill, a site of the old Roman forum of Trajan, a Roman emperor. The basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, whose intercession Lyon residents credited with saving them from the bubonic plague, ravishing Europe in 1643. A symbol of Lyon, the basilica offers a grand view of the city from its north tower. The basilica hosts a museum of sacred art and sees two million visitors annually. Designed by Pierre Bossan, the structure, containing an upper and lower church, reflects both Gothic and Byzantine influences.

Last summer also found the Leveziel-Lacalle family of Woodbridge traveling to Italy. During the trop, Biance Leveziel, 12, posed in in Pompeii, Italy, standing in front of what her mom, Sylvia, identified as La Basilique, dating to 130-120 BC. The building likely was a tribunal where tribunes met with the local population about local government matters.

Located near modern Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum were largely destroyed and buried by volcanic ash when nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. At the time of its destruction, it was home to 11,000-11,500 people.

The site lay buried for 1,500 years until its initial discovery in 1599 and later more broadly rediscovered in 1748 by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. During the discovery, plaster was used to fill the voids in the ash where human bodies were entombed, allowing archaeologists to see the citizens’ position as they died. While popular tales over the years have often depicted the disaster’s victims as suffocating from falling ash, the town’s inhabitants were nearly instantly killed by heat of up to 450 degrees from a pyroclastic flow from the volcano.

Because of its preservation of life in the Roman Empire, Pompeii remains a popular tourist destination in Italy.

Take WOW on Your Winter Trips!

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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Meet Orchid and Dooley!

Orchid (front) and Dooley are 11-year-old half brother and sister greyhounds, rescued eight years ago by their owners, Fred and Betty Freshcorn of Mandolin Reserve.

For nearly eight years Orchid and Dooley have been making weekly Pet Therapy visits to Mease Countryside Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center, and assisted living facilities, Manor Care and Arden Courts. Individually, Dooley and Orchid have accumulated more than 1,000 volunteer hours reducing blood pressures while creating smiles. They enjoy what they do.

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Lowry Announces STEM Fair Winners

As always, Lowry Elementary is proud of all of the hard work that its students put in throughout the school year. The fall was no exception! Lowry would like to recognize some of the students who went above and beyond and were recognized with special awards.

Third grade recently had a More Health presentation on the dangers of poisons. Students were asked to guess which liquids were edible and which were poisonous, and learned many ways to keep safe from poisons. Third grade will enjoy a field trip this month to The Florida Aquarium and are also looking forward to the Scholastic Book Fair coming to Lowry at the end of the month.

Lowry teachers also had tough decisions to make while judging student STEM Fair projects. The results are:

Kindergarten: Mrs. Fleishman’s Class with Gummy Bears Take a Dip!
First Grade: Mrs. Goulder’s Class with How Cold is Your Cup?
Second Grade: Mrs. Gladden’s AGP Class with Candle Burn-Out
Third Grade Group Winners: Mrs. Saa, Ms. Hoffman and Mrs. Weller’s Class with Attraction Action on Magnets! (Students: Roshan Amin, Savannah Kresge, Amelia Harrison and Jack Niewierski)
Fourth Grade Winners: Sophia Sant from Mrs. Nokaj’s and Ms. Spark’s Class with Which Brands Pop a Greater Percentage of Popcorn?; Victoria [vulgarity] from Mrs. Gladden’s Class with Which Sorbent Soaks up the Most Oil Overnight?
Fifth Grade Winners: Alexis Spirides from Mrs. Green’s and Mrs. Weller’s Class with Color Contest; Lana Tran from Mrs. Green’s and Mrs. Weller’s Class with Does Hand Size Affect Piano Skills?

Congratulations to all the winners! On Feb. 12, these students will be competing in district competitions. Good luck!

By Alexus Bauguess and Isabella Smith

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Romance is Alive and Well at Donatello

It’s February. That means romance, roses and maybe some diamonds are in store.

It also usually means planning a special Valentine’s Day dinner for your significant other. There are lots of great choices for a romantic meal in Tampa Bay, including several that I have reviewed previously like Eddie V’s, Sacred Pepper and Nabruzzi. This month, I add one more to the list: Donatello.

Located just north of Kennedy on Dale Mabry, Donatello is a bit of a hidden gem. When you enter, you’ll be greeted effusively by the Maître d’, who will seat you and chat with the tuxedo-clad staff in Italian. The service is high-class all the way.

This is a place where the waiter puts the napkin on your lap for you, and your glass will never be empty. Enough said.

The ambiance at Donatello definitely fits the bill if you are looking for romance – low light, crisp pink linen tablecloths, fresh flowers, pink paint on the walls. Much of the framed art even falls into the “Romance” category. Don’t expect a lot of privacy, though. There are a few booths along the walls that allow for some seclusion, but for the most part the room is open. However, low ceilings and Romanesque arches help break up the space and give it a bit of a European, old-world feel.

Begin with a glass (or bottle) of wine from the expansive wine menu, which I’m pretty sure is bigger than the actual menu. For appetizers, we went traditional with Bruchetta ($4.95). Two pieces of toasted Italian bread are topped with fresh garlic, tomatoes and basil. Simple, but delicious. Next up was the Tortellini in Brodo Di Pollo ($15.95), a chicken broth–based soup with fresh sausage and ham tortellini. Top with some grated parm, and you’ve got a winner. Again, simple but tasty.

For the entrée, my dining partner selected the Cannelloni Donatello ($28.95) – I call it lasagna with a Donatello twist. The presentation is a bit enchilada-like, but the flavor is all Italian. Hand-rolled pasta is stuffed with veal and mozzarella and topped with Donatello’s delicious house-made tomato sauce. It was cheesy and amazing – and just the right amount.

I tried the Pollo Piccata ($27.95). The sauce was buttery and lemony and teeming with capers, but it wasn’t overpowering and the chicken was tender. It was served with the most amazing green beans I have ever had along with a tasty croquette.

We shared a fantastic piece of house-made tiramisu ($12.95) and a foamy cappuccino ($5) to cap off an amazing meal. There is no denying the food at Donatello is authentic, and really everything we tried was terrific. It is a bit pricey, but for a special occasion (or even just a random Saturday) you should splurge.

Donatello also has a jazz/piano bar area adjacent to the dining room. I didn’t get a chance to visit, but it looked exactly like you would expect a jazz bar to look, and there’s live music every night, making it the perfect place to stop for a nightcap after a delicioso meal.

Donatello
http://www.donatellotampa.com
232 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Reservations via Open Table or call 875-6660

By Melanie Casey

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Troop 46 Announces New Arrowmen

Troop 46 recently celebrated two new members of BSA’s Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honor Society.

For over 100 years, the Order of the Arrow (OA) has been an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), providing positive youth leadership and identifying Scouts who best exemplify the Scout oath and law in their daily lives. Arrowmen, or Brothers, as they are more commonly known, are respected for maintaining camping traditions and spirit and providing cheerful service to others.

Troop 46 celebrated two of its newest Arrowmen, Justin Boyles and Tristan Goodrich. Boyles, 14, a freshman at Steinbrenner High School, began his Scouting journey as a Cub Scout with Pack 648. He is a freshman at Steinbrenner High School and an alto saxophonist in the GSHS Warriors wind ensemble and marching band as well as JROTC. He and his family live in Mandolin Estates.

Goodrich, 14, also started his Scouting journey as a Bobcat in Pack 648 and is now a freshman at Sickles High School, and a tenor trombonist in the wind ensemble, jazz band, and marching band of the SHS Wall of Sound Gryphons. He and his parents live in West Hampton. Both young men are Life Scouts currently on their journey to Eagle Scout.

To achieve their status, both were elected by their Troop after qualifying for the annual opportunity, and then participated in an OA Ordeal (induction ceremony) held at Odessa’s Camp Brorein. It involved service projects, reflection and other challenges.

Boyles and Goodrich are now members of the Uh-Tō-Yeh-Hut-Tee Lodge in Tampa. Troop 46 Eagle Candidate and Arrowman James Smith, also a freshman at Sickles High School, serves as the OA representative for Troop 46.

In the U.S., the Order of the Arrow consists of nearly 300 lodges. Nearly one million people have been members of the Order of the Arrow, living the ideals of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. For more information about the Order of the Arrow and Scouting go to http://www.tampabayscouting.org/oa or www.oa.bsa.org.

Troop 46 meets most Mondays at the First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway; our Scoutmaster is David Smith. Stop by any time to find out about joining Scouting. The Troop plans exciting camping trips monthly.

By Tristan Goodrich

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Linebaugh Construction to See February Completion

It’s been one of the most disruptive, controversial construction projects in Westchase history.

And this month, fingers crossed, it will end.

The nearly year-long construction on Linebaugh Avenue between Radcliffe Drive and Montague Street aimed to replace a leaking and failing reclaimed water main. The contractor, Westra, had an inauspicious start last April when its original median cut-outs for Linebaugh Avenue, aimed at keeping two lanes of traffic flowing on the road, were abruptly shut down by Hillsborough County as too dangerous.

It was back to the drawing board, which resulted in delays and significantly longer cut-outs that allowed more gradual lane changes.

But the controversies didn’t end there.

As Category 4 Hurricane Irma threatened Tampa Bay in September, Westchase leaders and residents protested that Westra and Hillsborough County inadequately prepared the site for the storm, leaving behind heavy barrels and port-o-potties to potentially become airborne and threaten nearby homes in West Park Village and The Fords.

Soon after, citing traffic delays and near rear-end collisions from left turns off Linebaugh, county officials temporarily banned eastbound Linebaugh from turning into The Fords, forcing its residents to drive down to Montague Street to make U-turns. County officials and Westra announced the ban would be in place for two months, but it remained for months after the originally promised two-month period ended.

In January, word finally came that the project, which the county originally announced would take a full year, would be concluding a few months earlier than May.

Hillsborough County informed the community that Westchase’s reclaimed water service was shut off from Tuesday, Jan. 16 through Thursday, Jan. 18. The interruption was necessary for one of the finishing touches. Westra was tying the new pipe into existing smaller lines serving Gretna Green and Montague Street. Once the new pipe is connected and tested successfully (which was slated to occur after the deadline for February’s WOW), Westra stated it would wrap up construction and begin restoring the Linebaugh median and the road’s lanes to their original appearance. 

In a Jan. 11 email to Hillsborough County Project Manager Jim Duncan, Westra Project Manager Matt Hester estimated that the original Linebaugh traffic pattern will be restored by Feb. 19 – including left turns into The Fords.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Crime in 33626: December 2017

Battery-Simple

12/1

10000 Bradwell Pl.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/2

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Battery-Simple

12/3

Bayaud Dr./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Theft From A Vehicle

12/3

8900 Citrus Village Dr.

DUI

12/3

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Smuggling Offenses

12/3

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/4

9500 West Park Village Dr.

Curtilage With Theft

12/4

11800 Cypress Crest Cr.

Battery-Simple

12/4

11800 Cypress Crest Cr.

Theft From A Building

12/4

11700 Lake Aston Ct.

Forgery

12/4

10300 Springrose Dr.

Fraud-Swindle

12/4

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/4

9500 West Park Village Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/4

9500 West Park Village Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

12/4

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/5

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Shoplifting

12/5

7900 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

12/6

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Grand Theft-All Other

12/6

9600 Woodbay Dr.

Battery-Simple

12/8

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Fraud-Swindle

12/8

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

12/8

8800 Tropical Palm Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/9

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/10

8900 Fox Tl.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/14

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Battery-Simple

12/15

10500 Montague St.

Disorderly Conduct

12/15

10500 Montague St.

Stalking Violations

12/15

9400 West Park Village Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

12/15

9300 Rockport Pl.

Curtilage With Theft

12/16

12100 Canterbury Park Ct.

Loitering/Prowling

12/16

9100 Lakechase Island Wy.

Battery-Simple

12/16

11900 Meridian Point Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/17

W. Linebaugh Ave./Stable Gate Ln.

Drug Paraphernalia

12/17

W. Linebaugh Ave./Stable Gate Ln.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

12/17

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

12/18

14000 Waterville Cr

Fraud-Other

12/19

10700 Beagle Run Pl.

Grand Theft-All Other

12/19

13000 Race Track Rd.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/19

Race Track Rd./Reptron Blvd.

Curtilage With Theft

12/20

10300 Lightner Bridge Dr.

Fraud-Other

12/21

13100 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

12/23

12300 Ashville Dr.

Grand Theft-All Other

12/23

12200 Glencliff Cr.

Battery-Simple

12/23

11200 Windsor Place Cr.

DUI

12/25

Sheldon Rd./Citrus Park Town Center Blvd.

Theft From A Vehicle

12/27

9900 Tate Ln.

Fraud-Swindle

12/27

8500 Fawn Creek Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

12/28

9100 Lakechase Island Wy.

Burglary Other Structure

12/28

10000 Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Residence/No Force

12/29

9400 Woodbay Dr.

Burglary Residence/Forced

12/29

11900 Middlebury Dr.

Civil Matter

12/29

7800 Broadstone Lp.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/29

W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.

Burglary Residence/Forced

12/30

11700 Derbyshire Dr.

Burglary-Armed

12/30

11700 Derbyshire Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/31

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

12/31

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

Drug Paraphernalia

12/31

14700 Ed Radice Dr.

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In Search of Manatees

One of the benefits of living in Florida is having access to the many interesting animals that call our state home.

Now through the end of March is a great time to go in search of manatees. When the temperature in the ocean drops below 68 degrees, the herbivorous marine mammals also known as sea cows go in search of warmer water, which they often find closer to shore or in clear springs that maintain constant temperatures. We have spotted manatees swimming around the piers at the marinas in Safety Harbor and Dunedin, and they can often be spotted in Spring Bayou near historic Tarpon Springs. But if you want to see a cluster of manatees, make the drive to one of the hot spots below.

Hundreds of manatees flock to Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach during the winter months thanks to warm water that is discharged into the Bay from the power station. 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. It is a very easy place for manatee lovers of all ages to visit.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the year-round home to four manatees that are unable to survive in the wild. During the winter months, the park opens a gate and allows wild manatees to swim into the warm spring water. The park has an observatory that allows you to get an underwater view of the manatees and fish while staying dry. Homosassa Springs is also home to black bears, bobcats, alligators and a hippopotamus. As a bonus, they offer educational manatee programs three times a day.

Three Sisters Springs is the largest winter refuge for manatees on the Florida Gulf Coast. As many as 500 manatees have been counted taking refuge in the springs during the coldest months. During manatee season, Nov. 15 through March 31, you can only access the springs by swimming in or by walking along the quarter-mile boardwalk that runs around one section of the springs. From April 1 through Nov. 14 you can access the springs by kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.

It’s important to remember that manatees visit warmer water during the winter months in order to reserve energy needed for survival. As with all wildlife, you should be on your best behavior and treat the manatees with respect – look, but don’t touch – no matter where you are.

Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center
http://www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc

Homossasa Springs Wildlife State Park
http://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Homosassa-Springs

Three Sisters Springs
http://www.threesistersspringsvisitor.org

Photos appear courtesy of Visit Florida.

By Marcy Sanford

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MOMS Club Rings in the New Year

We’re starting off the year with a bang!

The MOMS Club of Westchase bundled up and braved the cooler weather in January with a ton of outdoor activities. We rang in the new year at Highland Park with a Noon Year’s Eve playdate, complete with a countdown to noon, festive snacks and noisemakers. In addition, our Seahorses celebrated the New Year with a fireworks craft in the park.

The moms had a post-holiday venting session, otherwise known as a moms’ night out, at Wild Rover Brewery the first week of January. We also continued our monthly new member brunch, where we greet and get to know new and potential MOMS Club members.

We celebrated National Popcorn Day with all different varieties of popcorn at an open play on Jan. 19. The following week we headed over to Safety Harbor for an open-air lunch bunch at the Whistle Stop Grill & Bar, where fried green tomatoes reign supreme. Our Starfish play group celebrated Gasparilla with a pirate-themed playdate, and we ended the month with a visit to Lowry Park Zoo.

This month we donated to Kind Mouse, whose mission is to assist families in transition and their chronically hungry children while developing the next generation of volunteers to carry on the mission of The Kind Mouse. For February the club is honoring the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day with a financial contribution and encouraging all our members to wear red on Feb. 2. The mission of National Wear Red Day is to help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.

We are always looking to connect with new moms and local businesses - if you have a business or a babe, please visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure you’ll want us for keeps!

By Heather Dagostino

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Davidsen Music Department Shines at County and State Levels

The Music Department at Davidsen Middle School – Center for the Arts is starting off the new year with some exciting events!

Some of our band, chorus, and orchestra students are representing the school in the All-State and All-County Honor Groups. These students are performing with some of the strongest musicians from Hillsborough County and the entire state of Florida. They have worked so hard to be selected for these honor groups and we couldn’t be prouder of them.

Congratulations to these incredibly talented musicians: Gianni Spitale (trombone) was invited to play with the All-County Band and All-State Honor Band. Yasmine Bouanani, (soprano) will sing with the All-State Middle School Mixed Choir. Amiya Gary, Erika Hernandez, Natalia Milanes, Tommie Mallard, Noah Perez, Libby Bauder, Yasmine Bouanani, Julianna Vasquez, and Kyndall Williams will share their talents with the All-County Chorus. And Allison Naughton (violin) will perform with the All-State Honors Orchestra.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be on sale Feb. 16 for $10 a box. Proceeds will benefit Eighth Grade events.

The Spring Box Tops for Education Drive will conclude Feb. 16. This national program, sponsored by General Mills, supports education by donating 10 cents back to schools for every box top redeemed. Last year, Davidsen Middle School raised over $900 to support programs, events and capital improvements. Our goal this year is to surpass $1,000. Please take the time to clip Box Tops and don’t forget to look for eBoxTops and Bonus Box Tops. Ask your neighbors and relatives to collect for us too! Send all of your Box Tops to school in a plastic bag or attach them to a collection sheet and label them with your child’s name and homeroom teacher’s name. Questions? Contact kathycure@outlook.com.
Don’t bother cooking lunch or dinner on Feb. 21! Instead, join us for DMS Spirit Day at Burger 21 in West Park Village. A portion of sales will be donated back to our school all day.

The walls of our cafeteria have been painted with faux bricks by our art teacher, Mr. Heath. Personalize a brick to honor a student, teacher or staff member. Bricks are $10 each. For more information, contact waysandmeans@davidsenptsa.org.
Thanks to Ms. Supple, our Media Center Director, for hosting the fourth annual Davidsen Middle School Cookie Exchange in the Media Center. Participants were invited to submit their favorite cookie recipes, which were bound into a take-home recipe book. They also got to share their sweet treats at an after-school event on Dec. 18.

Many thanks to the sponsors and volunteers who made the annual “Dragon Blast” another overwhelming success. Our students had a great day and it wouldn’t be possible without your continued support.

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

Davidsen’s February Events

7      Eighth Grade Planning Meeting, 8:30 a.m.
9      Florida State Fair Day/Non-Student Day (West Hillsborough County only)
16    Krispy Kreme Doughnut Sale
16    Spring Box Top Drive Ends
21    Burger 21 Spirit Day (all day)

By Carolyn Reynolds

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February Programs at the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library

FAMILY PROGRAMS

Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Mon, Feb. 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Toddler Time (Ages 18 months to 3 years with caregiver): Tue, Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Storytime (Ages 3-5): Wed, Feb. 28 at 10:30 a.m.
Wee Artists (Ages 2-5):  Thu, Feb. 1, 8, 15 and 22 at 1:30 p.m.
The Case of the Missing Fables (Ages 3 and up): Wed, Feb. 7 at 10:30 a.m.
• Original live performance by Creative Arts Theatre Company based on Aesop’s Fables.
Color Wheelz: Mommy and Me (Ages 2 to 5): Wed, Feb. 7 at 1:30 p.m.
• Children will create a keepsake masterpiece that incorporates their hand print. Registration required.
Storytelling Workshop (Grades 1-5): Mon, Feb. 5 and 19, March 5 and 19, April 2
• Five-session storytelling workshop culminating in auditions for the 38th Annual Storytelling Festival. Registration required.
Block Party (Grades K-5): Mon, Feb. 12 at 3:30 p.m.
• Kids use the library’s collection of Lego building blocks to have a fun, creative afternoon.
Toddler and Preschool Yoga (Ages 2 to 5 with caregiver): Tue, Feb. 13 at 11:30 a.m.
• Introduce your baby and toddler to stretching, singing, story time and yoga.
Pig Out on Reading (Ages 2 to 5 with caregiver): Wed, Feb. 14 at 10:30 a.m.
• Join Farmer Minor, his famous pot-bellied pig, Daisy, and two pug dogs to share the love of libraries and the joy of reading.
Messy Mondays: Lace Resist Painting (Grades K-5): Mon, Feb. 19 at 3:30 p.m.
• Lace becomes an intricate yet easy stencil for a beautiful watercolor painting.
Safety Superhero Academy: Hot, Hot Hot! (Ages 3 to 5 with caregiver): Wed, Feb. 21 at 10:30 a.m.
• Join Hillsborough County Fire Rescue to learn not to burn by identifying hot and cold objects. Parents will learn safety tips and First-Aid.
Crochet Club (Ages 10 and up): Wed, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m.
• Learn the basics of crochet to create a unique item.

TEEN PROGRAMS

Teen Advisory Board: Thu, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.
• Get involved with the library’s teen programs and earn community service hours.

ADULT PROGRAMS

Intro to Ukulele: Wed, Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m.
• Introductory Ukulele Strum & Sing Jam hosted by Tampa Bay Ukulele Society. Beginners are welcome, but encouraged to arrive early.
Thai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, Feb. 1 and 8 at 1:30 p.m.
Sahaja Meditation: Sat, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24 at 10:30 a.m. (Advanced) and 11:30 a.m. (Beginner)
Chair Yoga for All: Wed, Feb. 21 at 1:30 p.m.
• Join instructors from Lucky Cat Yoga for this low stress slow-movement introduction to yoga.
Fiber Arts Group: Mon, Feb. 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 10:30 a.m.
• Gather with friends to knit and crochet.

Computer Classes:
Walk-in Tech Help: Tue, Feb. 6 and 20 at 2:30 p.m.  Tue, Feb. 13 and 27 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
• Ongoing training in computer and software basics.
One-on-One Tech Help: Thu, Feb. 1, 8, 15 and 22 at 2 p.m.
• Register for a personal technology appointment to answer your questions.

LIBRARY HOURS

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

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Westchase Seniors Valentine Party

Westchase Seniors are invited to a pot luck dinner at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s meeting room on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 5:30 p.m.

Plan now to participate in a wonderful potluck dinner prepared by some of the most experienced and best cooks in Westchase. Please R.S.V.P. by Thursday, Feb. 8, to Judith Mish (judithmish@hotmail.com or 380-8974) or Beverly Mask (bmask5@verizon.net or (850) 209-3244). Also, please bring an entree or dessert to the dinner to share. Drinks, paper goods and utensils will be furnished. All of us have had people in our lives who have brought great joy to our hearts. After our meal, we will share a memory of some person in our past who we appreciated and enjoyed being around.

New Neighbors Pictured here are two new Westchase residents, Pete and Judy Daniher, who recently retired and moved to Westchase. Their move here from historic Spotsylvania, Virginia, brought them closer to their two children and two grandchildren. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and both enjoy golfing, bridge, and fishing. Congratulations, Pete and Judy, and welcome to Westchase and the Westchase Seniors Group!

Visit to Leepa-Rattner Museum In January the Westchase Seniors Group toured the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs. We were the first to see a new exhibit of art by Steven Kenny that illuminates the bonds between humans and nature through surrealist context. The museum is well known for a life-size replica of Picasso's Guernica and features works by Abraham Rattner, Esther Gentle, and Allen Leepa and their responses to the cultural and political events of the 20th century. Also featured at this time are works of art by artists of Hillsborough County and a permanent collection based on the classical elements of the ancient Chinese tradition: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. After touring the art museum we all stuffed ourselves at the famous Lucky Dill Deli on Highway 19. We want to thank Evelyn Colon, who planned and coordinated this enjoyable Westchase Seniors Group outing.

Day Trips Join us for the upcoming senior day trips, sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center. On Thursday, Feb. 1, a bus will depart the Westchase Recreational Center at 9 a.m. to take us sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying lunch at Disney Springs in Orlando. There is no charge for this bus trip. On Thursday, March 1, the recreation center will offer a trip to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the cost will be $5.
Please make reservations by calling 964-2948. Space is limited so reservations should be made as soon as possible. You will be notified a day or two in advance if there is insufficient space for you. Unless noted otherwise, bring money for your lunch.

Please make reservations by calling 964-2948. Space is limited so reservations should be made as soon as possible. You will be notified a day or two in advance if there is insufficient space for you. Unless noted otherwise, bring money for your lunch.

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9-10 a.m. Westchase seniors are invited to meet at the Westchase McDonald’s Restaurant for coffee, breakfast and friendly conversation. The coffee is free with 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 get emails 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 costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Reclaimed Water Service: What is Going On?

Anyone who has tried to make sense of the county’s repeated changes to Westchase’s reclaimed water service shut down could be forgiven for asking, “What is going on?”

Or perhaps, “When is it going on?”

Last week, WOW staff elected to stop reporting the reclaimed water service play by play in hopes that the county would land on a consistent date. Then, without previous announcement, the service was simply shutoff early this week.

In short, the outage has been caused with trouble the current contractor on Linebaugh Avenue is having tying the newly installed reclaimed water pipe into existing infrastructure serving Westchase neighborhoods.

Today Stephanie Agliano, Hillsborough County’s Neighborhood Liason, informed the community that reclaimed water service, which currently is off, will be restored by the end of the workday on Monday, Feb. 12.

That, however, conflicts with information provided to the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) by another source that told the district the outage would persist through 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

Residents should at least plan for it being off through Feb. 13. Any further changes will be reported as WOW receives them.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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CDD Supervisors Address Landscaping Proposals and Lake Property Transfer

While the Feb. 6 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw over 50 residents attend to hear news of a proposed purchase of the Westchase Golf Course, supervisors also made headway on proposed Westchase landscaping improvements and the transfer to the district of a large lake adjacent to The Bridges.

CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart of Stantec stated that she still had not received finalized documents from M/I Homes related to the transfer of the lake between West Lake Townhomes, accessed off Sheldon Road, and the The Bridges’ subdivisions of Sturbridge and Stonebridge.

The lake, a former borrow pit, is currently owned by M/I Homes. It has previously overflown and flooded Stonebridge’s yards and road. Its potential recreational use by West Lake townhome owners and others has been a source of concern of Stonebridge residents, who have expressed a preference for rules against boating and fishing in the lake.

In an effort to protect The Bridges’ homeowners from future flooding and control the lake’s use, the district jumped nearly a near ago at M/I Homes’ offer to transfer ownership of the lake to the district at minimal cost.  Doing so would lessen costs associated with lake maintenance and environmental compliance for the developer and the West Lakes Townhome HOA when M/I transfers control of it to townhome residents, expected in April.

As part of the deal, CDD supervisors asked M/I Homes to provide funds to ensure the lake is transferred to the district in compliance with Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (SWTMD) environmental regulations. SWFMD will carefully monitor the lake for five years after the development’s construction. Stewart, however, said that the developer finally responded that it lacked the funds to cover compliance and requested it split the $4,000 annual compliance costs (over five years) with the CDD.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick, however, cautioned that while M/I had delayed transferring HOA control to residents for a month to give them more time to finalize the agreement, the SWFMD permit split between the HOA (which will still own the lake shore on which its development sits) and the district had to be complete before ownership of the lake and other shoreline is transferred to the CDD. She also asked Stewart if she had reviewed the lake itself for any compliance issues. Stewart stated she had not but committed to sending one of Stantec’s scientists out to look at the lake.

Supervisors ultimately voted 5-0 to accept  the lake provided M/I provides $12,000 for compliance. They also appointed Supervisor Matt Lewis as the point of contact for further issues or negotiations between meetings.   

Stantec Landscape Architect Neal Stralow then briefly addressed landscaping guidelines and templates he prepared for several Westchase’s entrances. Stralow advised supervisors to move away from the approach recently used at Westchase’s eastern entrance on Sheldon Road, which featured many different and intermingled plant varieties and heights and which left supervisors unhappy. Instead, his guidelines generally advised a re-grading of all Westchase entrances to lower them and bring them back to their original levels. He suggested that all tall hedges in front of entrances signs be removed so that the architectural beauty of the brick entrance signs – and the village and community names – are not obscured. The approaches to the signs, he said, should instead be landscaped with lower groupings of plants that will not grow to obscure the signs while providing different heights to better backdrop annuals planted in the very front. Stralow further advised planting taller decorative or framing trees on the sides of the monuments and, in areas where homes or businesses are visible behind the entrance monuments, larger, fuller trees behind the signs to shield them. The goal, he stated, was to incorporate broad bands of color and architectural framing that were pleasing to the eye at the speeds of passing cars while bringing the eye to focus on the entrance monument’s architecture. He suggested reserving the unpopular eastern entrance approach to landscaping for those areas dominated by pedestrian traffic, where they would be aesthetically more effective. Last, while acknowledging its expense, he recommended the district plan for the installation of lights at all unilluminated entrances to highlight them after dark.

Supervisors were positive and receptive to Stralow’s renderings, some of which will appear in the March WOW. Supervisor Brian Ross thanked Stralow and told him that he had provided the board exactly what they had asked for.  “I’d like to see the other three community entrance points addressed as well,” Ross stated.

Emphasizing the importance of Stralow’s lighting recommendations, even if undertaken in a phased approach, Supervisor Barbara Hessler Griffith added of the renderings, “It’s consistent with the Westchase brand.”

The next step, Stralow said, would be for staff to compile landscaping specifications and present them to nurseries to determine what can be accomplished within the district’s budget.

“It’s a great start,” complimented CDD Chair Jim Mills.

Supervisors then turned to preparations for rebidding out the district’s landscaping contract, the biggest component of its Operations and Maintenance budget. This year is the final year of the district’s landscape contract with Davey. That contract also entails a monthly inspection by OLM, Inc, a horticultural expert, which grades Davey’s work to determine if the company receives its 25 percent performance payment. During the district’s past bidding processes, OLM has also been hired to develop the bid specifications and oversee the bids. The entire process takes more than a half year and the new bid must be accepted to allow work to begin Oct. 1, the start of the district’s next calendar year.

Supervisor Ross, however, began. “I’m not sure where to point fingers,” he said, referring to Davey or OLM’s inspections. “But the maintenance standards for our landscaping are below the mark.”

Ross reiterated his recent complaints about visible weeds in plant beds and the poor appearance of hedges in parks and along Countryway Boulevard and Linebaugh Avenue walls.

Among other supervisors’ comments that weighed the usefulness of OLM’s inspections and grading approach to determine the performance payment, Griffith said she’s participated in ride-throughs with OLM during its inspections. “I’ve seen the community look less than desirable,” she said. “And I see OLM give them a pass, month after month.” Griffith and others expressed frustration that they had seen Davey fail the same parts of the inspection over several months but still manage to earn enough points to pass.

Supervisor Greg Chesney wondered if the contract should be changed to specify a minimum number of staff over winter months and to fail the landscaper when the company fails the same part of the inspection three months running, regardless of overall score. He also cautioned supervisors that they should likely expect a 20 percent increase in the landscaping bid, which hasn’t been competitively bid in four years.

Ross recommended that the district contract with OLM to prepare the specs and the landscaping contract in a way that gives the district flexibility to choose another inspector – or abandon the inspection system.

After District Manager Andy Mendenhall stated OLM might not be interested in undertaking the work on the contract without the commitment to maintain OLM’s inspections, supervisors asked Mendenhall to have OLM, two other landscape inspection companies and Stralow attend the March 5 workshop to discuss the matter.

CDD supervisors also spent a significant part of the meeting addressing the proposed purchase of the Westchase Golf Course. Coverage of that issue appears here.

In final remarks, Mills, Ross and Griffith all took time to compliment Field Supervisor Mays and Office Manager Sonny Whyte for their work in keeping the community beautiful. Mays thanked them and added his personal take on Davey’s performance as Westchase’s’ landscaper. He stated he’s been through several Westchase landscapers and he receives 22 compliments about the community’s appearance for every one complaint he hears. Mays stated, “Yes, we have outdated plant material.” He added, however, “I think Davey has done a good job with the property given the costs.”

In other actions:

Without explanation, CDD supervisors passed a motion to transfer the responsibility for chairing the meeting from District Manager Mendenhall to CDD Chair Jim Mills.

CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart stated she did not have time to work this past month on the development of a comprehensive district map or a document detailing Westchase pond best practices for incorporation into a future contract with the district’s aquatics management company.

CDD Supervisors voted to replace West Park Village’s street and traffic signage. Details of this action will appear in its own article in March’s WOW.

Field Manager Doug Mays stated that George Doster, a West Park Village resident who had explored the district’s interest in building a dog park on the Montague Street green as an Eagle Scout project, had withdrawn the proposal. Instead, Doster requested the opportunity to build two free little libraries, boxes that sit on posts and offer donated books to children who wish to read them. Residents can make donations of old children’s books to the libraries. Supervisors approved Doster’s request for permission to build and place one in both Baybridge and Glencliff Parks.

Supervisors approved Irish 31’s use the Montague Street green for a free community event on March 10.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated that Glencliff residents had expressed opposition to the installation of permanent shade structures at the far end of Glencliff Park’s fields for use by the Westchase Soccer Association. CDD Supervisor Griffith, who had requested the structures be explored, withdrew her request for them.

CDD Chair Jim Mills closed by asking Supervisor Griffith if she had received a copy of a Kingsford resident petition that took Griffith to task for leaving Hillsborough County the impression that her personal support for changing the traffic barriers between Kingsford and Davidsen Middle School was a district position. Griffith answered that she understood the concerns raised.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase CDD Makes Offer for Westchase Golf Course

While Westchase Community Development District (CDD) supervisors voted unanimously to make a $4 million offer for the Westchase Golf Course on Feb. 6, it’s nowhere near a done deal yet.

The golf course purchase was the main focus of discussion at the Feb. 5 Westchase CDD workshop at the Maureen Gauzza Library and the Feb. 6 meeting at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. The workshop saw about 10 residents attend and the CDD saw more than 50, making it the best attended Westchase community meeting in at least a decade. Field Supervisor Doug Mays rose twice during the session to bring out more chairs for later arrivals.

The vast majority of residents at the Feb. 6 official meeting of the district, however, seemed more content seeing what supervisors would do than speaking. Only six residents spoke at the session. Over the two days of meetings, not a single resident expressed opposition to the district’s purchase of the golf course. The meeting had a far different atmosphere than the more contentious district meeting in January, when some angry residents accused supervisors of planning to develop the land (which state law bans them from doing) or withholding information.

Approximately 16 residents spoke over the two February meetings, either offering support of the CDD purchase or advice on they should handle the purchase and golf course if acquired.

The resident who was nearest to questioning the wisdom of the decision was Harbor Links resident Reggie Gillis. “Is it a good idea or not?” he asked. “It depends upon the details.”

Gillis suggested supervisors create an advisory board to work with them through the due diligence period that would fall between the initial offer and the final vote to close on the land.

Dave Henderson of Glencliff stated that as one of the earliest home buyers in Westchase, he recalled the developer’s refusal to sell the course to residents. “If the golf course goes down the tubes or continues to go down the tubes, it is going to effect all of our homes,” said Henderson. “Having a golf course is what makes Westchase Westchase.”

Henderson added that if residents who live on the golf course most strongly want it to remain a course, perhaps it would be fair to ask them to pay more than other residents to maintain it as a course.

Harbor Links/The Estates resident Scott  Heydt encouraged supervisors to research the property to determine if the course is currently being used wisely. “The golf course going away would have long-term damage to our properties,” he said.

Village Green’s Ray Chiaramonte opened by stating he doesn’t golf. “But I do care about the golf course.” He cited recent golf course purchases and one that went bankrupt, declaring it a disaster for adjacent residents. Chiaramonte encouraged supervisors to buy the course. “To me this is about the community controlling its destiny.”

Glenfield’s Patrick O’Brien, who spoke at length at the Feb. 5 workshop, reiterated his comments. “I believe we should acquire ownership of the golf course and try and manage it,” he said. O’Brien stated the quality of the course needed improving and recommended making it easier, stating its current layout was frustratingly difficult. He told supervisors they should hire a manager and support staff but avoid hiring a golf course management company, which would take a portion of profits. He also encouraged supervisors to find ways to encourage Westchase’s women and children to play the course. “This is doable,” he stated. “We don’t want to be subsidizing forever the operation of the course.”

A number of other residents spoke to supervisors about the course at the prior day’s workshop. Fords resident Steve Ekovich offered his assistance, stating he had broad experience with assisting with golf course transactions and provided the district with the names of two specialized attorneys who could assist CDD Attorney Erin McCormick.

Kendra Sue of The Greens asked, “Is there going to be a development in my backyard?” She further asked if the course would be kept public or made private.

Mills responded that nothing had been determined yet but that the district was prevented by state statute from developing the land with additional housing or businesses should it buy the course.

A handful of others stated they were attending to learn more about the issue with Glencliff’s Ken Blair and Greens resident Sebastian de Alemenara both expressing a preference that the land remain a golf course.

Meanwhile, Harbor Links/The Estates resident Nancy Sells, stated it was prudent to get the course under contract. “Personally, I think it’s great you guys are looking into it to keep it in the community.”

Opening board and CDD staff discussion of the course at the Feb. 7 meeting, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she had researched the course’s deed and while there were many documents to go through, she has yet to see any information to support what some residents had insisted in January – that there was a legal agreement stating the golf course had to remain a course in perpetuity. She stated that it appeared the only restriction currently keeping the course a golf course was its county zoning designation, which, CDD Chair Jim Mills pointed out at the workshop the day prior, the original Westchase developer successfully changed to build Saville Rowe on what had previously been golf course land.

Based on input from supervisors in January, McCormick stated she had prepared a purchase and sale agreement rather than a letter of intent and simply needed supervisors’ offer for the course and the due diligence period they requested.

Citing feedback he’s received from residents, Chesney stated incredulously, “I have actually received no negative feedback about exploring the purchase of the course.”

After Chesney detailed his discussions with owner Nick Neubauer, supervisors agreed on a $4 million offer.  Citing the rationale for making a higher offer than Neubauer had previously received for the course, Chesney stated the community’s desire to control its future use gave the course a higher value for the district than other operators seeking a distressed golf course. “The price makes the golf course more valuable to us than it is to another operator,” he said.

After looking over the financials and recommendations Nuebauer recently received for course enhancements, Chesney stated, “There is a lot of room for growth.”

Supervisors ultimately agreed to the $4 million purchase offer Chesney stated Neubauer had informally agreed to.

Absent from January’s meeting, Supervisor Barbara Griffith then asked a number of questions of McCormick and Chesney. Asking the status of the current golf course five year lease of the course to Green Golf Partners, Chesney stated Neubuaer had suggested the lease was assumable (which would protect the district against any loss during its term) but he had not seen the lease and stated that Florida statute would not allow the district to simply purchase Neubauer’s holding company, Sano Corporation, the holder of the lease, as Neubauer had suggested.

Hearing that the lease guaranteed Neubauer a base payment and protected him from any loss during the course of the lease, Griffith asked, “Why are we having this conversation today and not three years from now?”

The question triggered the only audible consternation from the audience during the evening.

“What happens if it goes into less stable hands?” asked Chesney in return. “That has a great impact on the homeowners in Westchase.”

Griffith pressed, “Do you think we’re going to do a better job if we own it?”

Chesney responded that getting an answer to that question was the reason the board would hire a golf course consultant.

“Ms. Griffith,” Supervisor Ross stated, “I would respectfully disagree with your summary.” Ross stated the district was not buying the property that day. Instead, he said the board was voting to make an offer and requesting six months of due diligence to research and make that determination. By putting the property under contract, Ross added, the board would ultimately control the outcome, determining whether the course was worth buying or not.

Supervisors also discussed Neubauer’s suggested 60-day period of due diligence but all dismissed it as unworkable given supervisors’ inability to discuss the matter and make formal decisions between meetings.

Ultimately Ross’ motion to direct McCormick to offer either a letter of intent or a purchase contract (at her discretion) in the amount of $4 million with six months of due diligence passed unanimously, 5-0. “We’re going to work,” observed Mills. “Stay tuned, folks.”

Supervisors then briefly spoke to Zack Vervaecke, Vice President of Green Golf Partners, which currently holds the golf course lease. Vervaecke confirmed the lease protects the current owner from losses during its duration. He added that while his company has made improvements to the course, they currently are committing one percent of revenues to capital improvements, which supervisors observed would take a long time to restore the facilities to top condition. Vervaecke acknowledged the situation but added they had undertaken personnel changes in the last year and were looking for a new chef for the course’s dining room and hoped to roll out a new menu and prices soon.

When Supervisor Ross asked if Vervaecke’s company would be interested in signing a new lease if the current one is not assignable, Vervaecke responded, “It’s something we would consider. Strongly consider. I don’t want to over commit,” he said, stating he had to first consult his partners.

Supervisors then turned to a discussion on how best to move forward with the exploration of the potential purchase, agreeing with Supervisor Griffith’s and Ross’ suggestion that the research be undertaken by experts who know golf courses rather than left in the hands of supervisors or a resident advisory board.

A series of unanimous motions followed, including the hiring, at a cost of $12,500 plus travel expenses, of Christovich and Associates, a consultant that will review the business financials and the course itself for needed capital improvements. Supervisors also approved a motion directing McCormick to hire special counsel that is familiar with golf course legal transactions to assist her in drafting the offer letter and another authorizing District Manager Andy Mendenhall to contact the district’s current bank to acquire financing for the full purchase amount and a commitment letter. Supervisors further approved a motion authorizing Chesney to serve as board liaison between meetings with the district attorney and its consultants and make non-monetary decisions on its behalf.

Glencliff’s Cindy Coolidge observed that the board agenda still listed the evaluation of other uses for the golf course land. Ross clarified that the list of items on the agenda were both action items for that day and during the due diligence period. Ross emphasized he included the item to give all residents who are paying district assessments the chance to weigh in with their thoughts on the property should the district acquire it. He emphasized his desire to explore the purchase was to ensure the community decides its future rather than an outside entity with an eye toward developing the land.

Greenhedges resident Suzanne Buchmann stated she lived on the sixth fairway and that her home is regularly hit by golf balls. She complained that golfers walk through her property looking for lost balls with one even making a vulgar gesture toward her when she asked him to leave her property. She suggested that players be given a list of rules for play to improve some of their language and behavior.

O’Brien closed discussion be encouraging supervisors to use the first three months of due diligence to explore the purchase and the second three months planning to make a great impression on golfers once they own the property. “It’s not a good thing to hold back for six months,” he counseled.

Supervisors will undoubtedly return to the matter, in particular Mr. Neubauer's response to their offered contract or letter, at their March workshop and meeting. The March workshop will be held March 5 at 4 p.m. at the library and the CDD meeting will be March 6 at 4 p.m. at the WCA office building on Parley Drive.  Should the owner accept the contract, supervisors will still hold an additional vote to determine whether to move forward with the formal closing on the property after the due diligence period.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Feb. 7, 2018

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Three Seats Open for WOW Board of Directors

If you want to volunteer to serve Westchase and play a role in making WOW the best magazine around, read on.

Three 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 Ken Blair, Mary Griffin and Jeff Seligsohn (recently appointed to replace Paul Jones, who moved out of the community last year) are up for appointment.

The WOW, Inc. Board meets quarterly to oversee the magazine’s operations and set its operating policies. The board currently consists of five Westchase homeowners and is seeking candidates for the positions.

The process to fill the two-year volunteer positions will begin with all interested candidates and their resumes being presented to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors at their March 8 meeting. In his role as “The Member,” WCA Director Keith Heinemann, representing the WCA as the WOW’s single shareholder, will then cast the votes appointing the WOW, Inc. Directors.

Candidates must be WCA members in good standing; backgrounds in accounting, print and digital publishing and/or small business management are desirable.
Interested residents are encouraged to submit a resume, along with a one-page statement of interest in the position, by mail to the Westchase Community Association, Inc., 10049 Parley Drive, Tampa, FL 33626, via e-mail to manager@wcamanager.com and keith@tampabay.rr.com or by fax to 926-1821. Submissions must be received by Monday, March 5. For more information contact Heinemann at keith@tampabay.rr.com or 335-6579.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters Christen New Float

If you were in Westchase Town Center on Jan. 6 and thought you saw a giant pirate ship, rest assured. Your eyes were not deceiving you.

Members of the Ye Westchase Krewe of Freebooters were on hand that day to pose with their new parade float, dubbed “The Montague,” outside of the Seafood Exchange restaurant.

About 50 krewe, family and friends came out to get their first look at the new float, which was recently completed following months of design and construction. The float made its debut during the Gasparilla Children’s Parade on Jan. 20.

For those who are interested in seeing the float in all its glory, The Montague is scheduled to take part in the Krewe of Sant’ Yago Illuminated Knight Parade on Feb. 10 in Ybor City and the Rough Riders’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17 in Ybor City.

The Freebooters’ mission is to provide a social, leadership and charitable platform for the benefit of the community that it calls home. They are also committed to enhancing the level of local support and spirit that already make Westchase great.

During the parade season, the Krewe storms Tampa Bay with their beautiful mermaid team – the official Mermaids of Gasparilla. In the “off-season,” the Krewe also participates in regular social activities in addition to fundraising events associated with their chosen charities.

Among other things, in December the Freebooters participated in Santa’s Pre-Flight Parade in which the krewe entered a smaller float. That event helped bring Santa to Westchase, where he collected thousands of presents for needy children in Tampa Bay.

If you are interested in being a guest on the Freebooters float for an upcoming parade, email freebooterskrewe@gmail.com

By Melanie Casey

Photos appear courtesy of Nathalie Kobel and other generous Westchase Freebooters.

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Late Fees, Movies and Modification Approvals

January has come and gone, which means that if you have not paid your annual assessment, you have incurred a late fee of $25.

If you wish to deliver your payment to our office to ensure delivery and payment processing, please feel free to do so. You can also make a payment online using your debit/credit card. If you need instructions on how to do so, contact the management office or call Greenacre Properties at (813) 600-1100.

There are only two more months of Movies in the Park. If you haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying a movie outdoors under the stars, try to do so this month or in March. On Feb. 9 on the Montague Street green in West Park Village, we’ll show Despicable Me 3. March 9’s movie is The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature. After that, the movies won’t start again until October.

Now that the warm weather will be approaching us soon, many homeowners take advantage of the lovely temps to do some much needed landscape maintenance or sprucing up of their property. Please remember that any project to the exterior portion of your home must get HOA approval by way of a modification application. If you’re unsure as to what requires the Modifications Form, call the management office for assistance.

As always, we are here to serve Westchase residents. Please drop by our office or contact us at 926-6404 or through email at manager@wcamanager.com.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Westchase Open a Smashing Success

Unseasonable cold weather did not chill the enthusiasm for the inaugural Westchase Open Tennis Charity Exhibition.

On Jan. 5-7 more than 130 tennis players filled the tennis courts at the West Park Village Swim and Tennis Center and the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard. According to organizers, the event was an overwhelming success and they look forward to it becoming an annual event.

“It was a phenomenal event and could not have been accomplished without the support of our volunteers, sponsors and our community association,” said Radcliffe resident Eric Pogue, who, along with his family, conceived the idea of organizing the tournament. “We met our financial goal, raising just over $15,000 for the Westchase Charitable Foundation.”

Pogue said that tennis players competed in twelve different divisions including seniors, youth doubles and singles, mixed doubles, women’s and men’s doubles and men’s open. He added, “Not only did we meet our financial goals, but we celebrated our seniors, provided an example for our children on the importance of serving others, connected with our neighbors, met new friends and had a great time along the way.”

Last fall Pogue approached the Westchase Community Association (WCA) about the possibility of having a tennis charity event in Westchase. An active tennis player himself, Pogue has two daughters who are also very involved with the sport and who spend a lot of time on the weekends practicing or at tournaments. “Playing tennis tournaments had begun to prohibit us from doing some of the service projects we used to do,” said Pogue. “We wanted to use the sport as a tool for service.”

Pogue knew there were many tennis players in Westchase who would be interested in such an event and credits many of its residents with helping to make the tournament a success. “Rick Goldstein was our WCA board liaison and we had a core group who organized the event. Kristen DeAngelo was very involved with all aspects and did anything that needed to be done to make the event happen; Jim Morgan was our tournament director and corporate sponsor leader; Heidi Pogue organized the gala; Caren Smith performed many tasks behind the scenes and organized our silent auction items and Chris Henderson brought in a ton of highly-talented players and organized our exhibition game. This event would not have been possible without the help of these individuals.”

The exhibition game pitted Westchase resident tennis players against top players from across the area, including numerous former tennis pros. The Westchase team won 2-1. “It was a ton of fun,” said Pogue. “The tennis was spectacular.”

The tournament raised more than $15,000 for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), a non-profit organization founded and led by Westchase residents. The WCF supports families who have children or parents battling a serious illness or who are faced with a family tragedy. WCF President Sean O’Donnell, who has been with the WCF for more than 13 years, said that the typical grant to families is $5,000. “The Westchase Open was so fun and so well put together and it is going to allow us to help three families whose children have been harmed by a recent tragedy.”

Pogue is looking forward to the event becoming an annual tradition. “We already have people signed up to be involved next year and corporate sponsors who want to be sponsors again. Next year it will be even better.”

Corporate sponsors for this year’s event included Laser Locators, Onoxa, Annabelle’s Furniture, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, Tropical Risk Management, Embroidered Pelican, Seafood Exchange Grill & Bar, Advisar, pduff photography, ENT Associates and others.

To view and purchase event photos, visit http://www.pduffphotography.com/Events/Miscellaneous/Westchase-Open (See .pages 84-85 for some tournament photos.)

For more information about the Westchase Charitable Foundation visit http://www.westchasefoundation.org

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For more information about the tournament visit http://www.westchaseopen.com

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Westchase Open Tennis Winners

Seniors: Tony and Carmen Fiorito
Youth Doubles: Sophie Llewellyn and Ashlen DiCicco
Youth A Singles: Sophie Llewellyn
Youth B Singles: Audrey Pogue
Mixed A Doubles: Stephen Lappano and Stephanie Means
Mixed B Doubles: Jason Garcia and Mollie Garcia
Women’s A Doubles: Stephanie Means and Allison Lowie
Women’s B Doubles: Lisa Lowe and Theresa Smith
Women’s B- Doubles: Karen Miller and Rosemarie Kesselring
Men’s Open: Chris Henderson
Men’s A Doubles: David Hennessee and Sam Frizzelle
Men’s B Doubles: Karthik Thilakarajan and Rufino Medicielo

By Marcy Sanford; Photos by Pat Duffey

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The Importance of Local Reporting

One thing became apparent to me as I sat through the Jan. 9 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD).

A significant number of folks generally distrust government entities and the information they provide the public.

At that meeting, residents peppered CDD supervisors with questions about their plans for the Westchase Golf Course, which supervisors may decide to put under contract for purchase on Feb. 6. This edition of WOW is heavily focused on that issue. We have aimed to provide an accurate history of the process thus far and answer residents’ questions.

It is by no means a done deal. Even if CDD supervisors support a motion to place the property under contract, doing so simply affords them more time. They will use it to research the wisdom of the purchase, answer remaining questions and hear from concerned residents. Afterward they will take another vote on whether to buy the course.

WOW will continue to follow this issue on all residents’ behalf. I do, however, offer some words of caution. I have attended nearly every CDD meeting for the last 16 years. I’d like to personally assure our Westchase readers that the current board is made up of smart men and women who deeply care about this community – and its individual homeowners and their concerns.

I’ll add this. Be cautious about putting faith in neighborhood gossip or conspiracies. I’ve heard my fair share in recent weeks, rooted in little more than speculation and worry. In contrast to some previous CDD and WCA leaders I’ve worked with, both CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney, who is leading the district’s exploration of the purchase, and Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo have been incredibly forthcoming to WOW with information about the purchase. Some doubters seem convinced significant information is being withheld, yet a number of important questions have only been partially answered thus far (and we’re following them). In many cases over the years, I’ve seen the wheels of the district’s legal counsel and engineer not working quite as quickly as many – even supervisors – would prefer. Hopefully we’ll soon have more complete answers on the restrictions binding the golf course and the legal rights potentially belonging to its adjacent homeowners.

A final point. Part of supervisors’ hesitation about answering questions in January, however, was likely out of respect for the course owner. Mr. Neubauer has shared sensitive financial information with the district. Mr. Chesney was clearly hesitant to offer all that proprietary information in a public forum, particularly when it could complicate negotiations and benefit other potential bidders.

Take the time to read up on this historic decision that lies ahead of our community. And then take the time to communicate your preference to the CDD. They really do want to hear from other smart, well-informed residents.

Have a wonderful February and please remember to tell our advertisers, who make WOW’s coverage and charitable giving possible, that you saw their ads in these pages.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Woodbridge Donates Food Drive Prize Money

The Villas of Woodbridge took their generosity in the days after Thanksgiving a step farther.

At their December meeting, the HOA Board of the Villas of Woodbridge voted to donate the $250 block party award they won from WOW for being the most improved neighborhood in Westchase in the Nov. 19 Thanksgiving Food Drive. Instead of using the funds for a block party, the Villas of Woodbridge board members voted to donate the $250 to the New Seasons Apostolic Ministries Food Pantry of Seminole Heights in memory of Ronald Felton.

Felton was a volunteer at the food pantry and was fourth victim of the Seminole Heights shootings. Felton fell victim as he was walking to serve meals at the pantry on that fateful day.

“This was an extraordinarily generous thing to do,” said WOW Publisher Chris Barrett when he learned of the donation. “Everyone in Woodbridge should feel tremendously proud of how they continued to honor the spirit of the Thanksgiving Food Drive with this kind and selfless act.”

By Nilo Menendez

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To Buy or Not to Buy: That is The Question

It is, without question, one of the most historic decisions to come before any Westchase body.

At its Tuesday, Feb. 6 meeting, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center, supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) will likely consider a motion to put the Westchase Golf Course under a purchase contract for $4 million.

How are they going to vote?

Your guess is as good as WOW’s.

If supervisors vote “yay,” it doesn’t meant you’ll own it. The vote will simply protect the property from another purchaser while supervisors spend months investigating the wisdom of buying it – and undoubtedly hearing Westchase homeowners’ opinions about it. A later supervisors’ vote will ultimately determine whether the CDD buys what many consider to be the centerpiece of the community.

A centerpiece whose recent financial struggles have triggered concerns about its long-term future.

When news broke that supervisors were to hold their vote at their Jan. 9 meeting, more than 50 concerned residents showed up to ask questions, and, in some cases, to raise voices. A number of folks who made it into that forum (more were turned away by staff who incorrectly told them the meeting would be rescheduled) sought what no one can provide – a promise that the golf course remain a golf course in perpetuity.

A golf course, which, for the past three years, has lost tens of thousands of dollars annually.

That January vote got postponed to Feb. 6 on a technicality: the vote wasn’t properly noticed as a district agenda item.

To buy or not to buy.

It brings to mind two other past purchase decisions.

In the late 1990s, Westchase residents were asked if they wanted the Westchase Community Association (WCA) to buy the parcel of land that sits at the end of Montague Street along the railroad tracks for the construction of a community center.

After months of planning and anticipation, the roughly $100 a year decision got a thumbs down.

Later, when Westchase’s developer announced it would sell the beautiful Westchase Welcome Center – now a Realtor’s office on Radcliffe Drive near the golf course, the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) were asked if they wanted to purchase it for the association (which, at the time, hadn’t built the current Parley Drive building in West Park Village).

VMs gave it a thumbs down.

Both largely forgotten decisions still get talked about by some longtime Westchase residents and leaders as missed opportunities.

To buy or not to buy?

Supervisors began asking themselves the question at their November meeting, when Supervisor Brian Ross said that he heard the golf course was for sale. Supervisors asked CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney to reach out it current owner, Chicago resident Nick Neubauer, 71, who holds it through his Sano Corporation.

Before Chesney reached out, Neubauer himself called WCA President Ruben Collazo, saying he had read about it on WOW Online. It wasn’t the first time Collazo had communicated with the owner.

“I had heard the golf course was for sale a long time ago,” said Collazo. “Before that I had sent several backchannel messages to Nick asking for the right to make the first bid if it was sold.”

Collazo said that Neubauer must have confused the WCA with the CDD. “He said, ‘I hear you’re interested in buying the golf course. Let’s talk about it.’”

After Collazo put Neubauer in touch with Chesney, he participated in subsequent discussions. Collazo, Chesney and the CDD’s engineer toured the golf course property in mid-December before sitting down to lunch with Neubauer.

The owner’s won’t-budge price?

A cool $4 million.

Still a fire sale compared to the $7.75 million Neubauer originally paid for the course in 2005.

Yet, in recent years, other course buyers apparently passed on the struggling course when Nuebauer declined their $3 million offer.

For now, Collazo thinks it makes sense for the CDD to make the purchase. “Now that the CDD is taking the lead, the WCA is monitoring the situation,” he said, adding he’s ready to propose to the WCA board that it consider making the purchase if the CDD doesn’t.

So what’s Ross’ motivation?

“I want to avoid a bad outcome,” Ross said at the January CDD meeting. “I don’t want a bankruptcy there.”

Ross stated he was concerned about a future owner that might neglect the property, badly affecting adjoining homeowners and Westchase’s image at large. Worse, if the property is pulled through bankruptcy proceedings, Ross worries that current restrictions that require the land to be used as golf course could be lifted by courts.

To buy or not to buy?

How much would it set each Westchase homeowner back?

According to Chesney, $65 a year. But he projects the CDD could currently pay it without raising assessments. This year the district makes its final payments for park renovations, leaving them $340,000-$350,000 in capital funds annually for the project.

For some, that seems a reasonable move to save a community centerpiece from neglect or eventual development.

Yet word that supervisors had briefly discussed converting the course into a linear park of bike and hiking trails if they couldn’t keep the course from financially sinking upset some residents. Many who appeared at the Jan. 6 CDD meeting stated the primary reason they had bought their homes – and paid a premium for them – was because they were on golf course land.

They seemed in favor of letting Nuebauer keep it. He couldn’t sell it, they argued. They added he’d be forced to maintain it properly – to maintain its value in order to eventually sell it to another golf course operator.

For some supervisors, that’s a roll of the dice.

A lot of questions remain unanswered. If supervisors vote to approve a purchase agreement in February, it will trigger a lengthy due diligence process that will answer a lot of them.

Yet it may very well prompt others.

To buy or not to buy?

That is the question.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Public Notice of Woodbay Guideline Change

At their Feb. 13 meeting, Westchase Voting Members will consider, for the second time, an amendment to rules governing Woodbay’s gutters and drainage.

The potential change only affects rules in Woodbay.

The guideline amendment, if approved, would permit rain chains as alternatives to downspouts within Woodbay.
In addition to standard gutters and downspouts defined in Residential Guidelines Section 2.1.25s, rain chains would be allowed in Woodbay only as follows:

  1.  All Rain Chains must be tied into gutters and extend to the ground and secured at the bottom.
  2.  Rain Chains must not cause flooding or erosion to neighbor's yard as outlined in Section 2.1.25 Gutters and Drainage of the Westchase Residential Guidelines.
  3.  Rain Chains are limited to four in front of the house.
  4.  Rain Chains must be made of copper or aluminum.
  5.  Various designs and styles may be allowed by the Modification Committee .

The intent of this amendment is to add an additional option to the standard downspouts.

Once approved by its subassociation or a majority of its neighborhood’s residents, each guideline change has to be considered and approved by a supermajority of VMs at two meetings. It was approved for the first time on Jan 9.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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From the President, Jan. 17: Patience Counseled on Golf Course Issue

Congratulations to the Westchase Charitable Foundation and to the Westchase tennis community for the enormous success of the inaugural Westchase Open tennis fundraiser.

There is so much credit to go around. I'm afraid that if I start naming names, I will invariably miss a few and cause offense. So let me start by saying that this community is incredible. Westchase produces a bounty of volunteers, contributors and altruists. I know of no other community so dedicated to selflessness.

Back in July 2017 Eric Pogue came to me with this idea. And I remember saying to him, "Eric, this is a big idea and I love big ideas."

Well, Eric (and friends) pulled off one of the nicest, classiest and most energetic events Westchase has seen in a long time (outside of the Great West Chase, of course). So congratulations again to everyone who made this happen. I'm already looking forward to next year's Westchase Charitable Foundation tennis tournament!

The other really big thing happening in Westchase is obviously the potential purchase of the Westchase Golf course by the Westchase Community Development District (CDD). Let me begin by saying that as president of the Westchase Community Association (WCA), I have full faith and confidence in the abilities and motives of our CDD supervisors. They will no doubt do the appropriate and necessary fact finding and then make a careful, considered and intelligent business decision, focused on how best the community should move forward (or not) with this enterprise.

And I emphasize the “or not” part of my statement. There isn’t a supervisor on that board who wouldn’t hesitate to walk away from this endeavor if they found that it wasn’t a good idea or that an incontrovertible business case couldn’t be made for the purchase.

CDDs in the state of Florida operate under very strict guidelines under Florida statutes. They conduct business in the open (“the sunshine requirement”). And the Westchase CDD has a history of making thoroughly vetted, excruciatingly researched, legally scrubbed decisions that have withstood the test of time.

So I ask everyone to be patient. Please take a deep breath. Step back and allow our CDD supervisors to do their job. Right now that job is to get the property under contract and then conduct six months’ worth of due diligence. During which time everyone can attend meetings, ask questions, receive answers and state their opinions. Hang in there. Everything will be okay!

Last, I want to address the issue of spring cleaning. Spring in Florida really begins in February. In February the ravages of winter reveal themselves: dead plants, dead sod, moldy driveways and roofs, paint that needs refreshing and more. Every year our members are surprised when they receive the friendly reminders that they have not yet performed these necessary maintenance items. So my suggestion is to get ahead and stay ahead. Start your spring cleaning now! I know that I will.

My contact information is in the back of the WOW. Feel free to reach out to me anytime you need my assistance. Thanks for reading!

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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Top 10 Reasons to Play Tennis at Westchase

What are the top reasons to play tennis at Westchase?

1. Availability, quality, accessibility of our courts, bathrooms and parking.
2. Cost factor: Because of our management practices, we can offer the lowest cost programs in the area.
3. A high level of coaching from beginner to advanced. We offer all ages and levels USTA clinics, our Jr. program and private lessons.
4. Enjoyment of a recreational family activity in the outdoor environment with minimal and initial investment for recreational play; no long-term commitments.
5. Team play: Men and women enjoy USTA, and Ultimate Tennis in the competitive and leisure aspects of the game. Play at your level at your leisure.
6. Our highly developed, good natured camaraderie, community, and friendship factors.
7. The Jr. Tennis program offers character development, including the physical benefits of being active, tennis training and an opportunity to learn the game of tennis. Other benefits are the development of honesty, patience, fortitude, and respect for your teammates. Parents praise Coach Roberto Calla for his parenting skills; many see the long-term benefits that reach past the game of tennis.
8. Due to the successful USTA tournament results, individuals take clinics and private lessons from our international tennis coach, Roberto Calla. More independent players can progress at their own pace within their group of players.
9. Westchase is open to – and encourages participation from – neighboring communities. Come one, come all! This diversity of players and skills benefits the tennis community at large.
10. Unlike indoor sports facilities we are a truly all-weather, outdoor facility.

By Roberto Calla

Manager’s Report

Our first months of 2018 started off strongly. We hosted the Westchase Tennis Open Charity with three days of exciting tennis competition. Friends and family joined together for fun and fund-raising for those in need.
Westchase’s swim and tennis facilities offer Jr. Tennis programming after school five days a week, with adult clinics and private lessons scheduled throughout the mornings and evenings. Our TBAY swim team has not let the cold weather stop them from the chilly practice sessions. Our pool is maintained at a toasty 82 degrees for lap or casual swimming. Check out westchasewca.com for additional information on joining the tennis or swim teams or contact us at (813) 855-0662.

By Kelly Shires

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Reclaimed Water Outage Again Rescheduled; Now Feb. 16

The county's previously announced outage of Westchase's reclaimed water on Feb. 1 and Feb. 6 has been cancelled and rescheduled again, this time to Friday, Feb. 16.

Hillsborough County’s Water Department has notified the Westchase Community Development District that reclaimed water service to Westchase will be turned off from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 rather than on their previously announced dates of Feb. 1 and Feb. 6.

According to CDD staff, the work is related to the Westra construction of the Linebaugh reclaimed water line. Westra's crew will be installing main line valves so that water flow can be transferred to the recently installed reclaimed water line.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Baybridge Park Playground Closed Jan. 29-30

The Westchase Community Development District (CDD) has informed WOW that Baybridge Park’s playground will again be closed Jan. 29-30 for repairs.

The repairs are needed to complete work done during a previous closure over Jan. 16-19. According to CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte, during the previous closure the contractor was unable to apply a finishing top layer or sealant because the material could not be applied when temperatures fall below 50 degrees.

From Monday, Jan. 29 through Tuesday, Jan. 30, the playground in Baybridge Park will be closed to finish the project. All residents are asked to keep children from playing on the playground’s surface during repair work and the time it needs to cure.

Baybridge Park’s field and walking trail, however, will remain open during that time. Glencliff Park and its playground will remain unaffected and open.

Baybridge Park is located in The Bridges.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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CDD District Manager: We Welcome Residents to Weigh in at Two Upcoming Meetings

CDD District Manager Andy Mendenhall wants concerned Westchase residents to know they can weigh in on the district’s upcoming decision regarding a potential purchase of the Westchase Golf Course on both Monday, Feb. 5 and Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Mendenhall called WOW on Monday, Jan. 22 to address the fact that some residents attending the Jan. 9 meeting of the Westchase Community District were left with the impression that that meeting would be postponed or rescheduled, causing some to feel like they did not have a chance to voice their concerns or get questions answered. Mendenhall asked WOW to let residents know that they can attend two district gatherings in February at which the purchase can be discussed.

The first is the district’s workshop, which will be held at 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 5 at the Maureen Gauzza Public Library on Countryway Boulevard. There supervisors will hold an informal, open discussion about the course and how they might proceed with addressing it. Mendenhall stated that residents are welcome to attend the workshop, weigh in, talk to supervisors and get their questions answered. Because it is a workshop, however, no formal decisions or motions will be made on that day.

The next day, Tuesday, Feb. 6, Westchase CDD Supervisors will hold their official board meeting, where the golf course purchase is expected to be an agenda item for consideration. Residents can also weigh in at this more structured meeting, which will be held at 4 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s activity room on Countryway Boulevard. This represents a change of venue from their usual meeting to enable more space for residents interested in attending.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Wizards Talk Middle School to Parents

On Friday, Feb. 2, Westchase will celebrate the grandparents of students in Kindergarten through Grade 2 starting at 8 a.m. with a light breakfast in the MPR. Following the breakfast, grandparents will head to their grandchild’s class, where they can enjoy reading a favorite story with the class.

Do you have a fourth or fifth grader? Also on Feb. 2, the PTA will host Coffee and Conversation at 8 a.m. in Room 201. This presentation will focus on answering parent questions about middle school. We will have Principal Arena from Davidsen Middle School – Center for the Arts, and Mr. Murrillo, Area 2 Superintendent.

Look for information coming home regarding our Spring ASE classes. Registration will open on Feb. 7 and will again be online. The process is first come, first served. The eight-week session will start on Feb. 21-22 and run through April 18-19 (there are no classes during spring break).

Please be sure to support our Spring Box Tops drive, running through Feb. 16. Simply clip your Box Tops and send them to school in a plastic bag. Remember to include your child’s name, teacher and grade to get credit. The class who collects the most Box Tops will win a pizza party. We’re hoping to surpass the $1,300 raised in the fall drive!

Frames, Folk and Fitness is a great family fun night at Westchase. Come and see your child's framed artwork displayed in the MPR. You can purchase the artwork for $25 (cash or check only), and all proceeds go towards supporting the art department. While you are there, let your kids show off the folk dancing skills they are learning in music. There will also be fun activities on the covered courts conducted by our wonderful P.E. coaches.

The Sweetheart Dance will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 1-3 p.m. at the Westchase Recreation Center (9791 Westchase Dr.). All students and their parents/caregivers are invited to join us for light refreshments, a DJ and fun! This free, family event is brought to you by the Westchase PTA and the Westchase Recreation Center.

For more information, please visit http://www.westchasepta.org and like us on Facebook.

Westchase’s February Events

2          Grandparents Breakfast and Read to Me Day, 8 a.m.
2          Coffee and Conversation (Middle School), 8 a.m. in Rm 201       
7-8       ASE Registration (Classes begin Feb. 21 – 22) 
8          Conference Night      
15        Frames, Folk and Fitness Night, 6 p.m.
21-22  ASE Classes Begin
24       Sweetheart Dance, 1 p.m. in Rec Center

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Can You Lend a Wing?

The Stork Club is looking for a volunteer willing to greet Westchase’s newest residents.

One of Westchase’s dedicated Stork Club volunteers is retiring and a replacement is needed to help greet Westchase newborns home from the hospital. The current volunteer covers Berkeley Square, The Enclave, Keswick Forest, Radcliffe and The Shires. The new volunteer does not need to live within those neighborhoods, however.

When called, the Stork Club volunteer posts a stork in the newborn’s yard and drops off a birth-announcement form for publication in WOW. After a few days, they return to pick up the stork.

If you can spare a few minutes each month to help build a stronger community, please contact either Stork Club Chair Nancy Gerovac at wishyouwerehere@tampabay.rr.com.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Westchase Soccer Association Registration Feb. 3

The final open registration opportunity for Westchase Soccer Association’s Spring 2018 season will be held on February 3.

Please visit http://www.westchasesoccer.org for registration information and program offerings. WSA also offers volunteer opportunities for students to complete community service hours.

We anticipate Under 5, Under 6, Under 7, Under 8, Under 10 and Under 12+up age groups providing we have enough volunteer coaches. Age divisions are determined by the Florida Youth Soccer Association’s (FYSA) cutoff date of Jan. 1 (not the date the programs begin). Please refer to the Age Divisions chart on our website for participant eligibility. New and some returning participants in the U7, U8, U10 and U12+up age groups must participate in a mandatory 15-minute skills assessment in February to complete the registration process.

A MiniWee program will be offered to children who are 3½ to 4½ by the FYSA cutoff date of Jan. 1.

Information regarding WSA programs is subject to change without notice; please visit our http://www.westchasesoccer.org for the most current information.

Submitted by the WSA Board of Directors

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, January 2018

January’s fabulous fakery, The Shamerator on page 70, was inspired by all the social media shamers on Westchase Neighborhood News (the real group, not the fake one).

Did you know a photo of you cutting off someone on Linebaugh appeared online in December?

Because taking and posting pictures of bad drivers instead of keeping both hands on the steering wheel keeps us all safer.

After a handful of shaming doorbell videos were also posted, the group administrator, the victim of education by nun, posted a post shaming the shamers. He proclaimed that social media shaming was thereafter banned. In response, posters shamed the editor for promoting only positive and nice posts. It made the beleaguered editor long for a simpler, pre-digital world, when the only things we had to worry about were polio, smallpox and world wars.

(It was self-preservation actually. It was just a matter of time before a photo of the editor privately nose-mining at a Westchase red light was posted.)

Fortunately, something good came of it. Of all the correct fake ad entries, the entry submitted by Robin Marks of Woodbridge was randomly selected by the fake ad gods. As the result, Robin will be safely cutting you off on her way to 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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Westchase Reclaimed Water Off Jan. 16-18

Hillsborough County has informed the community that Westchase’s reclaimed water service will be shut off from Tuesday, Jan. 16 through Thursday, Jan. 18. The system will be shut down to enable Westra Construction, which installing the new reclaimed pipe on Linebaugh Avenue, to tie in that new pipe to existing reclaimed pipes at Gretna Green Drive and Montague Street.

The tie-ins are one of the last parts of the reclaimed pipe’s installation. Once the new pipe is connected and tested successfully, Westra will wrap up construction and begin the Linebaugh median restoration process.

Matt Hester, project manager for Westra Construction, estimated that the original Linebaugh traffic pattern will be restored by Feb. 19.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Marina’s: Simple, No Frills and Delicious

A local pizza shop offers a taste of Italy in our own backyard.

Most of you have already heard of Marina’s Pizza & Pasta. Located adjacent to Publix, it’s convenient enough to stop in for a quick dinner or pick up takeout on your way home from work.

But there are surely neighborhood newbies (or not-so-newbies, like myself) who haven’t tried it yet. This was a great excuse for me to finally take the plunge after living in Westchase for more than 5 years. I have friends who rave about it and get takeout at least once a week, but for one reason or another, I had never made it in.

Now that I have, I can tell you that I will be back.

The décor at Marina’s is simple and no-frills, but if you opt to dine in (on my visit, there was a steady stream of takeout customers but not many sit-down diners), it’s clean and welcoming. The servers are attentive, prompt and thorough.

We started with the Mozzarella Sticks ($5.95). They’re breaded and fried, and honestly not much different than most other mozzarella sticks you will encounter at any Italian restaurant. What makes this version stand out, however, is the accompanying tomato sauce. Clearly house made and fresh, it was really good.

On the suggestion of the waitress, I selected the Penne Alla Boscaiola ($13). A mound (and I mean mound) of penne came smothered in a delicious creamy tomato sauce containing ground sausage, sautéed mushrooms and peas. Tangy and very filling. My dining partner went traditional with the Lasagne Napoletana ($12.95). This is the stuff… so cheesy and meaty. Baked and still bubbling when it arrived, it was, as the Italians would say, incredibile. And enormous. Like my entrée, this dish can easily serve two. Finally, we tried the Linguini Alfredo with Chicken ($14.99)—another rich, creamy and filling dish that tasted amazing.
Our choices were all from the dinner menu. Marina’s also offers traditional pizzas (small cheese starts at $8.75; large supreme goes for $21), which I have on good authority are quite delicious; specialty “Brazilian-style” pizzas; hot subs, including Meatball ($6.99) and Philly Cheese Steak ($8); cold subs; and salads. The dinner options are served with bread and a dinner salad (with a fabulous house dressing) and as noted are likely enough for two.

To wrap things up, we shared an order of Tiramisu ($3.99). I’m not sure if it’s house made or not, but I could not stop eating it – it was that good. Other dessert options include Cannoli and Chocolate Cake ($3.99 each).

One interesting tidbit about Marina’s is that it doesn’t serve alcohol; however, customers are invited to “BYOB,” including wine and beer. Conveniently, there’s a liquor store (and a Publix) right next door. Marina’s has also recently added a delivery option (with a three-mile delivery area). You can even order takeout or delivery online.

If you’ve lived here for ages or are new the world of Westchase, stop by and give Marina’s a try.

By Melanie Casey

Marina’s Pizza & Pasta
4 STARS
http://www.marinaspizzatampa.com
12121 W. Linebaugh Ave.

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WOW Visits Utah and Niagara Falls

Over the summer WOW headed north and west.

Wycliff’s Matt and Melinda Lewis headed with their trio of kids to Utah while Vineyards resident Amanda Wynne visited Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario for a women’s half marathon.

The first photo is of Emerson, Allie and Ivey Lewis at Arches National Park in Utah. They are standing in front of the park’s famous Double Arch.

Arches National Park is a 120-square mile fantasy land of 2,000 natural stone arches located in eastern Utah near the Colorado River. Visitors to the park can hike among soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

The main source of erosion for the park’s geologic shapes has been water. Water wears away sides of 65 million-year-old sandstone cliffs, creating fins that jut outward. Over years, potholes in the sides of the fins grow until arches are formed.

Do any ever fall?

You bet. All are destined to give way to gravity and 43 arches fallen since 1977. On Aug. 4, 2008, Wall Arch, which wasn’t very thin or even noticeably cracked, gave way and collapsed. It woke campers in nearby Devils Garden Campground with a sound like thunder.

The park really only came to the Park Service’s awareness in the 1920s, when a railroad employee suggested it might be good for tourism. President Herbert Hoover declared in a national monument in 1929. Later expanded in size by two other presidents, Arches was declared a national park by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

Meanwhile June saw Amanda Wynn on a weekend trip north to Niagara Falls. “One of my girlfriends and I ran the sixth annual Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon yesterday,” Amanda wrote WOW on June 5. “The race is a partner event with Kathrine Switzer's organization, 261 Fearless.”

Switzer, you may recall, was a barrier breaker for women. She was the first woman to compete with a bib in the Boston Marathon in 1969. She was the subject of a famous photo of a race official attempting to grab her and seize her bib, before the official was shoved out of the way by Switzer’s boyfriend, allowing Switzer to finish. Women were not officially permitted to run in the race until two years later in 1972.

“Kathrine was on hand at packet pick-up to take photos and sign autographs,” wrote Amanda, who added Switzer high-fived runners during the race. “It was such an honor to meet her in this, the 50th anniversary year of her historic Boston Marathon run.”

Amanda also did some touring of the area. “We spent a day in Niagara Falls State Park (US), including going to the Cave of the Winds,” she wrote. “We also spent quite a bit of time in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area, touring the adorable town, taking in the views of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and visiting a few of the dozens of local wineries.”

Take WOW on Your Winter Trips!

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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Westchase Recreation Center Programs: January

Adult

Zumba
Join Greg and Peggy to dance and enjoy Caribbean rhythms.
When: Sat, 10 a.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Insane Fit Girls
Small group fitness training exclusively for women and tailored to your personal fitness level and goals in a supportive and safe group setting. Please email elaine@insanefitgirls.com.
When: Tue, Thu, Fri, 9:15 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

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

Seniors

Senior Field Trips
The first Thursday of every month seniors are offered a chance to take a variety of destination trips. To reserve your spot please call 964-2948. We are always looking for new ideas!

Thu, Jan 4: SS American Victory Ship
Thu, Feb 1: Disney Springs Orlando
Thu, Mar 1: Strawberry Festival

Seniors Outdoor Active Recreation (S.O.A.R.)
Seniors will have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful parks and resources with a guided tour.
Tue, Jan.9: Honeymoon Island
Thu, Feb. 8: Cockroach Bay

Ballroom Dancing
No experience or partner required. Enhance your social skills and exercise while having fun!
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Aerobics Lite
A fun movement class designed for active seniors who love to stay fit while exercising to music.
When: Tue, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $2/Class

Yoga
Come to the gentle yoga class and learn how to tone and stretch your body while incorporating ancient practices to calm the mind and rejuvenate the spirit.
When: Thu, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Chair Yoga
Chair Yoga is designed for those who find it challenging to get up and down from the floor. It is also appropriate for those with balance issues. In this class, classical yoga poses will be taught with the aid of a chair.
When: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Pickleball Instruction Beginners*
Learn the fundamentals and rules of the game. Please call to schedule: 964-2948.
When: Mon and Wed, 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m.
Cost: Free

Pickleball Open Play*
Pickleball is a racquet sport combining the elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. You’ll have a blast!
When: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Pickleball League Play*
Compete against other players at your skill level in league play. Please email kingsburym@hcflgov.net for more details.
When: Fri, 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free

Senior Tone and Stretch
Exercise to build strength and flexibility and increase range of motion.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Walking Club
Rain or shine, the gym is open. Join your friends and track your progress.
When: Mon-Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
Cost: Free

Appy Hour
Bring your cell phone or tablet and learn how to use the latest apps.
When: Mon, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free

Youth

Playing with Clay
Explore multiple ways to create, and decorate works of clay art. All creations will be kiln fired and painted the following class. Parents must stay and help children under 5.
Ages: All ages
When: Fri,
Cost: $10+$2 materials fee per class; each project requires 2 classes

Hip Hop with a Purpose
Exploring the rich history and culture of Hip Hop dance. Start Date: Fri, Jan. 12.
Ages: 8+
When: Fri, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $7/Class

Young Engineers
Join our fun and enriching science class where you’ll study a principle of physics, mathematics and mechanical engineering through experiments using original and motorized LEGO bricks. For more info email tampafl@e2.youngengineers.com.
When: Tue, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class plus one-time $10 registration fee.

Arts and Smarts
Hands-on enrichment classes featuring a variety of topics. Visit http://artsandsmartsinc.weebly.com or email artsandsmartsinc@gmail.com for class topics and registration information. It’s fun and learning – together.
Ages: 8 and up
When: Thu, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15/Class

Pure Art
While working with a variety of materials and techniques, learn about famous artists (http://www.purearttampa.com).
Grades: K-5
When: First and third Sat, 9:30 -10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-noon
Fee: $10/Class

Eagle Claw Kung Fu
Come and learn an effective, combat-proven martial arts form and stay fit while participating.
Ages: 8 and up
When: Tue, 6:15-7:15 p.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Karate Do
Increase fitness, strength, flexibility and awareness. Karate teaches practical self-defense while reducing stress and tension and improving self-confidence.
Ages: 4-up
When: Mon, Wed, 6:15 p.m., and Sat, 11:15 a.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Karate Do Black Belt Society
All black belts are welcome!
Ages: 15-up
When: Sat, 2 p.m.
Cost: $5/Class

Girls Elementary Volleyball
Learn the basic skills and fundamentals of competitive play and have lots of fun!
Ages: Grades 3-5
When: Tue, 6-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Girls Middle School Volleyball
Join our character-based program teaching volleyball skills, fundamentals and footwork.
Ages: Grades 6-8
When: Tue, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: $10/Session plus one-time $15 admin. fee (includes a T-shirt)

Tots

Toddler Time*
Activity zones are placed throughout the gym for toddlers to explore and socialize and play on with parent participation.
Ages: 5 and under
When: Thu, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Basketball*

Middle-School Basketball Skills and Drills League
Learn the essential skills of middle school basketball. For more information email mehdi@mbsportscamps.com or visit http://www.mbsportscamps.com
. When: Fri, 6-9 p.m., and Sat. 2-4 p.m.

Family Open Gym
Gym is open to families
When: Sat, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Adult Open Gym*
When: Thu, 6-9 p.m., and Sat, 7:30-11 a.m.
Cost: Free

*Online account required to participate.

Coming Soon for Tots:
Music and Mi
This mommy and mi class is a fun and educational approach to social, cognitive, self-esteem development. Classes include nursery rhymes, music and movement, sensory play, and much more. Visit http://www.facebook.com/musicandmi/ or contact dunialr@gmail.com for more information. Starts Mon, Feb. 5
Ages: 10 months-4 years
Cost: $3 Registration. $5 per session.

All activities take place at:

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

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Robinson Band Named Junior League of Tampa Grant Recipient

The Robinson High School Band Boosters, a 501(c)3 organization, has been selected as a 2017 grant recipient from the Junior League of Tampa.

Founded in 1926, the Junior League of Tampa is a volunteer organization dedicated to impacting the people, families, and communities of Tampa Bay through volunteerism and collaboration with community partners. The Junior League Enabling Fund provides financial assistance to organizations that provides a community need outside one of the core issue areas of the League. This year’s Enabling Fund Grants provided a total of $30,000 to 17 organizations.

The Robinson High School Band Boosters plan to use the funds for instrument purchases, repair and maintenance.

Robinson High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Program is one of Hillsborough School District’s zoned magnet IB schools. Several hundred students attend the program from the Westchase area, and IB students make up almost half of the RHS band, music and guard programs. Robinson High School is located in South Tampa.

You can learn more about the Robinson High School Band Boosters at https://www.facebook.com/RHSBandBoosters

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By Beth Edwards

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Westchase Rec Center Features New Bike Repair Station

Nothing can ruin a bike ride quicker than a flat tire or loose chain.

Dedicated cyclists and occasional bike riders can now easily make basic bike repairs at the new bike repair station located at the Westchase Rec Center at 9791 Westchase Dr.

In November the center became one of 10 Hillsborough County Recreation Centers or parks to have a bike repair station. The station is equipped with tools including screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, a headset wrench, a pedal wrench, box wrenches and tire levers. The screwdrivers and wrenches are on swivel connectors for easier use.

The station also has a heavy-duty universal air pump. The station makes it easy to perform basic repairs and maintenance, from changing a flat to adjusting brakes or derailleurs. A bicycle can be suspended from the fix-it station’s hanger arm, allowing pedals and wheels to spin freely while making repairs. The hanger arms can be mounted at 12, 3, 6, or 9 o’clock and are ADA compliant. A QR codes allows smart phone users to access a comprehensive bike repair web site.

The bike repair station is located on the patio behind the Rec Center. “Anyone in the community is welcome to use it,” said Recreation Program Supervisor Dona Smith.

A water bottle filling station is located in the same area. The bike repair station is accessible even when the Rec Center is closed.

Other nearby recreation centers with bike repair stations include Keystone Recreation Center and Northdale Park and Recreation Center.

By Marcy Sanford

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Bridges Resident Finishes in Top 20 in International Competition

In late August, Bridges resident Monika Cassidy represented her country in an international athletic competition.

Cassidy competed with Team USA’s triathlon team at the ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, Canada.

Cassidy was in the top 20 for her age group overall and in the top eight in her age group for Team USA. “It was a hard, mountainous course. It was amazing to experience,” said Cassidy. “If you’re a triathlete, you are always trying to get to an event like this. It was a dream come true.”

Cassidy has always been athletic. She competed in track and field while growing up in Hungary and played European handball. She has run in the Boston Marathon and has been an instructor and personal trainer at the YMCA for many years.  She decided to take on the challenge of a triathlon seven years ago and has been hooked ever since.

First, however, she had to overcome one major hurdle – she did not know how to swim.

“I grew up out in the country and was always outdoorsy and biked to school but I never learned how to swim. Hungary is a landlocked country and I did not have access to a swimming pool.”

Cassidy taught herself to swim as an adult but realized that she needed more instruction if she was going to compete in a triathlon. “It was a very humbling experience to be a good runner and then jump into the pool and sink. I took lessons with Kareem at the YMCA three times a week.”

Now Cassidy is a certified USA Triathlon coach and is hoping to pass along her love of triathlons to others. “I want everyone to try to do it, especially if you are already a good swimmer. It is a challenge and a wonderful achievement.”

Cassidy estimates that she trains 15 to 17 hours a week when she is training for a triathlon but says most of that time is spent on the weekend doing five to six hour bike rides. During the off-season, she works on her technique and speed and focuses on any other areas that need improvement.

For now she will continue to train herself and others and compete in local races. She is also looking forward to trying out for the 2020 World Championship in Spain.

If you’d like to join Cassidy’s triathlon training group, email her at monika.cassidy@gmail.com.

By Marcy Sanford

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Eighteen Healthy Suggestions for ‘18

The New Year is symbolic for new beginnings.

In a tip to 2018, here are 18 suggestions for achievable New Year’s resolutions and better health.

Be consistent with weekly meal planning. Select a day of the week when you will get your perishables like fresh fruit and vegetables; that same day, or a different day, prep meals and snacks for the week.

Try a new recipe once a month. If you are bored with your present menu, change it up by finding new, quick and healthy recipes.

Fast from eating meat one or more days each week.

Reduce sodium intake to 2,300 mg or less per day.

Reduce portion sizes of meals and snacks.

Eat at least seven fruits and veggies per day. Keep a bowl of fruit visible, make smoothies, and prepare or purchase organic dips of hummus, salsa and guacamole to make this an easy practice.

Drink eight glasses of water per day. Start and end each day with a glass of water; six more to go!

Take a good quality daily supplement.

Avoid late-night snacking. Have a cut-off of two hours before bedtime.

Consider a different exercise. Explore a new format, location, style or time.

Add more strength training to your workout regimen. Use free weights, machines, or your own body weight for resistance.

Get all medical check-ups, such as annual physical, dental and vision exams.

Use a tool like an iWatch or Fitbit for accountability.

Physically move three miles or 7,000 steps each day at a minimum.

Commit to 30 minutes of physical activity three to five days each week and 10 minutes of daily stretching.

Avoid obsessing over weight. Only get on the scale once a week or once a month.

Turn off the television and get adequate sleep each night.

Smile. Don’t take this suggestion lightly. I am not referring to a fake smile, but one that comes from the heart because of a change in perspective.  Focusing on what you have to be grateful for and treating others as you would like to be treated can add to your health and well-being. 

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

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By Shannon Thigpen

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Westchase Kindergarten Round Up Jan. 19

Happy New Year Westchase! We have one more week until the kiddos return to school, and I hope you are able to relax and enjoy this downtime with your family.

On Friday, Jan. 12, our fourth graders will travel to St. Augustine. They have been learning all about Florida’s history, and they will get a chance to tour the fort and jail and take a trolley ride around the town and Flagler College. This trip is definitely a highlight of their fourth grade year.

Don’t feel like cooking?  Please join us on Monday, Jan. 15 at Chipotle for our Spirit Night from 4-8 p.m. Fifty percent of the proceeds will be donated back to Westchase!

Jan. 16 is club picture day. If you are in Chorus, Orffins, World Drums or any other club, please remember to wear your club’s shirt on Tuesday. These pictures will be available for purchase, and they will also be put in the yearbook.

If you have a rising kindergartener and are interested in learning more about Westchase Elementary, please plan to attend the Kindergarten Round-Up on Friday, Jan. 19 at 8:30 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. 22 and runs through mid-February. The class who collects the most Box Tops will win a pizza party. Congratulations to Mrs. Barrett’s fifth grade class for turning in 868 Box Tops during the fall drive. Overall, Westchase raised $1,345.90. Please be sure to support our Spring Drive. Simply clip your Box Tops and send them to school in a plastic bag. Remember to include your child’s name, teacher and grade to get credit.

On Thursday, Jan. 25 the PTA will host our second general meeting of the year. PDQ is providing dinner, which will be served at 5:30 p.m. and is free to all PTA members. Not a member? No problem! We will have memberships for sale at the door ($8 for individuals and $25 for families). The meeting will begin at 6 p.m., and there will be supervised games on the covered courts for the kids. We will give an update on our progress for the year, and administration will discuss “celebrating differences.”

Last, registration for our Spring ASE will begin in early February. For more information, please check out http://www.westchasepta.org and like us on Facebook.

Westchase Elementary January Events

12 Grade 4 Trip to St. Augustine
15 Chipotle Spirit Night, 4-8 p.m.
16 Club Pictures 
19 Kindergarten Round-Up, 8:30 a.m. in MPR  
22 Spring Box Tops Drive Begins
25 General PTA Meeting, 5:30 p.m. in MPR

By Kathy Curé

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Abbotford Resident Changes Life in Sri Lankan Village

Abbotsford resident Nipuna Weerapperuma has visited family in Sri Lanka every few years since his birth.

Yet a chance side trip during one of his visits led to a service project that is helping an entire Sir Lankan village. 

“During one of my last visits, I noticed two young girls carrying pots on their heads walking down the road. When I asked them why, they told me they were collecting water from a well and they had to travel more than three kilometers.”

Once back home to Westchase, Nipuna decided to do something to help. He began researching ways the village could access clean water. A senior in Middleton High School’s STEM program, Nipuna has been interested in water extraction and engineering problems for several years. Through his research he discovered that a tube well could provide clean water.

Nipuna chose the school in the village as the site of the well. “The school has about 60 students and 10 to 15 teachers. They had a problem retaining teachers because many were leaving because not only did they not have easy access to drinking water, but they also did not have toilets or other basic sanitation needs.”

Nipuna used an online platform called CrowdRise to ask friends and family to fund the project and within months raised enough to build the well.

He visited the village for the well’s opening ceremony, complete with a parade and speeches. “When we went back to the school after the well was complete. They were so grateful. They children all thanked me. It was very humbling. It made me realize how big of an impact a person can make.”

Nipuna participated in the Mayor’s Youth Corps in Tampa but this was the first time he had undertaken a service project of this magnitude. While he’ll be headed off to college next year, he wants to continue to help others and the Sri Lankan school. “When I was there for the well ceremony, I noticed an issue with their music program. They do not have enough instruments. I talked to the principal about collecting instruments and right now we’re in the planning stages.”

By Marcy Sanford

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MOMS Club Gets in the Holiday Spirit

It truly was the most wonderful time of the year!

The MOMS Club of Westchase stayed festive and bright through the whole month of December. We kicked off the month with a moms’ night out Christmas party at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company, where we enjoyed tasty beverages and delicious food. We got our sugar fix, and then burned it all off, at an open play Christmas cookie exchange at the Westchase Recreation Center.

Two of our play groups, the Starfish and Seahorses, had holiday pajama party play dates, and our Guppy play group wrote letters to Santa. We continued the fun with a lunch bunch at the International Plaza food court, and a side of holiday shopping and Santa greeting. We ended December with a Noon Year’s Eve party open play at the playground at Highland Park. We look forward to many more adventures in the new year!

Last month our philanthropy outreach included a financial contribution to Toys for Tots, dedicated to providing a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas. We also supported New Beginnings of Tampa, which offers transitional housing and homeless recovery program that provides unaccompanied women, men and young adults over the age of 18 with a safe place to live and an individualized, gender-responsive program of guidance and job training programs to help them stabilize their lives.

In January, we are donating to Kind Mouse, whose mission is to assist families in transition and their chronically hungry children while developing the next generation of volunteers to carry on the mission of The Kind Mouse.

We are always looking to connect with new moms and local businesses. If you have a business or a babe, please visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure you’ll want us for keeps!

By Heather Dagostino

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Troop 46 Celebrates Newest Eagle

BSA Troop 46 congratulates one of their newest Eagle Scouts, Wyatt Howell, for achieving Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank and honor.

Wyatt, the son of Elizabeth and Jim Howell, 17-year residents of Bennington, has been in Scouting for nine years. He began as a Cub Scout with Pack 46 in Westchase and demonstrated his leadership first as webmaster, then as a patrol leader for the Honey Badgers and finally as an assistant senior patrol leader for the troop.

His community Eagle project consisted of creating organic grow boxes with a timer regulated irrigation system for the Westtown Church Preschool off Racetrack Road. The boxes included herbs like basil and vegetables like eggplant and kale. Scouts constructed them on site for use by the preschoolers. Wyatt’s project overcame a challenging water connection. The yield from the first crop was bountiful and future growing looks very promising.

Wyatt, 15, is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Robinson High School in Tampa.

Earlier this year, the Greater Tampa Bay Council celebrated the achievement of 113 Eagle Scouts in attendance at an event at MacDill Air Force Base’s Surf Club, where General George Norwood, USAF (Ret.) was also recognized with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. A total of 374 scouts achieved the rank of Eagle during 2016. The 2018 Eagle Scout Banquet, celebrating 2017 Eagle Scouts, is scheduled for May 10, 2018.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Helping youth is key to building a more conscientious, responsible and productive society.

Troop 46 meets most Monday evenings at the First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway. Stop by any time and speak to any adult wearing a brown shirt about the opportunities of Scouting or visit http://www.troopwebhost.org/Troop46Tampa/ We ar.e a member of the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council of BSA and the Fort Brooke District.

Our Scoutmaster is David Smith, our Troop Committee Chairperson is Kim Smith, and our Chartered Organization Representative is Elizabeth Howell. Wyatt’s father, Jim Howell, has been an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 46 for many years and his cooking-themed campouts are legendary, especially the annual pig roast.

By Tristan Goodrich

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January Programs at the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library

FAMILY PROGRAMS

Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Mon, Jan. 8, 22 and 29, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Toddler Time (Ages 18 months to 3 years with caregiver): Tue, Jan. 2, 16, 23 and 30, at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; Tue, Jan. 9 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Storytime (Ages 3-5): Wed, Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, at 10:30 a.m.
Wee Artists (Ages 2-5):  Thu, Jan. 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 1:30 p.m.
Block Party (Grades K-5): Mon, Jan. 8, at 3:30 p.m.
• Use the library’s LEGO blocks to build unique creations.
Polymer Clay Mini Monsters (Grades K-5): Thu, Jan. 11, at 4 p.m.
• Use polymer clay to design a 3D Silly Monster.
Robotix Blox (Children and Teens): Tues, Jan. 23, at 6:30 p.m.
• Participants will work together on robot building and coding.
Crochet Club (Ages 10 and up): Wed, Jan. 24, at 6 p.m.
• Learn the basics of crochet to create a unique item.
Pirate and Princess Party (Grades K-5): Thu, Jan. 25, at 4 p.m.
• Go on a journey filled with princess and pirate-themed games and crafts.

TEEN PROGRAMS

Teen Advisory Board: Thu, Jan. 4, at 6 p.m.
• Get involved with the library’s teen programs and earn community service hours.
Arm Knitting (Ages 16 and up): Wed, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m.
• Learn how to knit using only your arms in just a few simple steps. Registration required.

ADULT PROGRAMS

Intro to Ukulele: Wed, Jan. 3, at 6:30 p.m.
• Introductory Ukulele Strum & Sing Jam hosted by Tampa Bay Ukulele Society. Beginners are welcome, but encouraged to arrive early.

Thai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, Jan. 4 and 11, at 1:30 p.m.
Sahaja Meditation: Sat, Jan. 6, 13, 20 and 27, at 10:30 a.m. (Advanced) and 11:30 a.m. (Beginner)
Fiber Arts Group: Mon, Jan. 8, 22 and 29, at 10:30 a.m.
• Gather with friends to knit and crochet.
DIY Crafting: Heart Book Folding (Ages 13 and up): Wed, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m.
• Learn how to transform an old book into a fun piece of art like a heart. Registration required and all materials provided.

Computer Classes:
Walk-in Tech Help: Tue, Jan. 2, 16 and 30, at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Tue, Jan. 9 and 23 at 2:30 p.m.
• Ongoing training in computer and software basics.
One-on-One Tech Help: Thu, Jan. 4, 11, 18 and 25, at 2 p.m.
• Register for a personal technology appointment to answer your questions.
3D Design TinkerCAD Open Lab (All ages): Mon, Jan. 8, at 3:30 p.m.
• Experiment the basics of 3-D modeling with TinkerCAD, a free web-based application. Valid e-mail address required to participate.


LIBRARY HOURS

Sun, 12:30-5 p.m.; Mon-Thu, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Jan. 1 and 15.

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Life’s Unwritten Rules

The chief chaperone for Bus #2 (the friendly one who speaks in italics) sidled up to me.

Approximately 8.2 inches too close.

Compelling me to step back without appearing like I was stepping back.

“Well, that was a memorable experience.” Her italics made clear she was making a dramatic, unclear statement that compels a man to stop and listen.

Even though his bladder is screaming at him for drinking that second large cup of coffee waaaay back in Tampa before foolishly boarding an early morning charter bus to Orlando.

It was an IB middle school band trip to an invitation-only music clinic at Disneyworld. Perhaps the 40 young Mozarts on her bus had broken into a soaring, transcendental, acapella version of In Dulce Jubilo before annotating War and Peace and releasing a joint study announcing a groundbreaking Grand Unified Theory of Physics.

Or they had just behaved like 40 middle schoolers on a bus.

She heaved an italicized sigh. (The world would apparently be waiting for its Grand Unified Theory.)

She stepped forward. “There was a rather PG-13 version of Truth or Dare.”

I stepped back. “At six in the morning?”

Step forward. “And one of the boys stole one of the girl’s purses, removed a feminine product and began passing it around the bus.”

Step back. “Strawberry sparkle lip gloss?” (I was now pinned against a Disney hedge.)

Step forward. “No, the other feminine product,” she said. “How was the behavior on your bus?”

Nearly toppling over hedge. “Oh, it was great. The kids were very well behaved.”

At least that’s what my mouth said.

Meanwhile my brain was seriously rethinking the last 90 minutes.

Had the largest hole in my head spoken truthfully, it would have said, “Actually, I was sitting in the front of Bus #1 comfortably reading the paper and commenting to another chaperone that the bus driver clearly didn’t color inside the lines as a child because he certainly couldn’t drive inside them as an adult. And, frankly, the eighth graders could have stuffed the sixth grade bassoonist down the bus toilet and I wouldn’t have even noticed.”

Fortunately, I have a very active social filter and only say about 40 percent of the foolish things that flit through my skull.

She nodded. “Probably because the band teacher was on your bus,” she said.

I politely overlooked the fact that my own highly intimidating presence received no credit for the perhaps entirely fictional superior behavior on my bus. “Well, she even terrifies me, so you may be on to something there.”

Then I sprinted to the Disney bathroom.

Because, as everyone knows, you NEVER use the bathroom on a charter bus.

At least everyone apparently knew that except me.

In 2011 I once boarded a charter bus for a 9-hour trip to Sea Camp in the Florida Keys. And when I emerged from the bus bathroom, I encountered a red-faced, sputtering bus driver. “WHO USES THE BATHROOM ON A CHARTER BUS?!” he screamed.

I had violated an unwritten rule. Bathrooms on charter buses are like those expensive, fancily printed napkins on the sink in your neighbor’s guest bathroom.

You’re never supposed to use them.

(Important note to guys: Just shake your hands vigorously over the sink and wipe them dry on your buttocks.)

And here I was, chaperoning the precious offspring of real adults again, and I’d made another major misstep.

No one told me that chaperones were actually supposed to watch the kids while they were on the bus.

It frankly seems rather counter-intuitive. What farmer watches 40 free range chickens once they’re jammed into a small cage?

Apparently a good middle school chaperone does a lot more than repeatedly count to six or seven at Hollywood Studios and grumble, “For the love of gahd, would you people make up your minds?”

That’s the problem with society. It has a lot of unwritten rules you magically have to know.

Like when you step into an elevator full of strangers. You’re supposed to mutter a number and immediately whirl 180 degrees, facing the closing elevator door.

No exceptions.

You should never just board and keep facing all of the strangers. And then, to break the growing tension, loudly ask, “So what d’yall think of the president?”

Another unwritten rule?

Fifty-one year old men should not go into Disney parks alone.

Which is exactly what I had to do for three full hours before all the free-range chickens joined me at lunch.

“Awesome!” I first thought, speed-walking toward Toy Story Mania in Pixar Place. “I have three hours to do whatever I want to do at Disneyworld!”

Then I stopped. 

Because it was going to play out one of two ways.

I was going to climb into a single car all by myself.

And slooooowly roll past all the other people in line staring at the 51-year-old man riding the Toy Story 3D shoot-em game all by himself.

Or I was going to sit next the 8-year-old son of some couple from Italy. And, when I scored 150,400 to his 88,000 points, I would be screaming, “IN YOUR FACE!” in incomprehensible English to a complete stranger child instead of one of my own daughters.

I couldn’t figure out which made me feel more pathetic.

So I searched the town square for an empty park bench.

To keep me safe from all the ole-people scooters out in force, hunting potential victims that morning.

And because there is an unwritten rule that you just don’t sit down on a park bench that another person is already sitting on unless it’s longer than five feet.

Finally finding an empty one, I sat.

So that I looked like a proper dad waiting for his kids to get off a ride that started making him feel motion sick once he turned 40.

And I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Until another guy came up.

And plopped into the park bench beside me.

Long, awkward pause.

“An absolutely beautiful day, isn’t it?” he italicized.

The bottom quarter of my face smiled. And I slowly, subtly and incrementally slid away, politely wedging myself into the corner of my bench.

Because that’s what the other rule says.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Meet Lucy!

Lucy, a.k.a. Lu Lu, the Loving King Charles Cavalier, turned 10 years old on Sept. 2. Lucy resides in The Greens with the Pasquale Family after moving to Tampa five years ago from upstate NY. Lucy drove all the way from New York to along alongside owner David Pasquale and has since made herself at home in Westchase. Wrote Gina Pasquale, “Lucy  loves sunbathing in her lounge chair by the pool with her favorite magazine, WOW.”

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Davidsen Ends 2017 on High Note

The Davidsen Middle School (DMS) Center for the Arts closed 2017 with a variety of dance, chorus and band performances.

Our Dragons performed in the very first DMS dance recital on Dec. 1, and a winter concert was held on Dec. 7 featuring the Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced and Jazz Bands. The Jazz Band also provided entertainment during the Santa Pre-Flight Parade festivities at West Park Village on Dec. 9. Our teachers and students worked very hard to prepare and it showed in the level of their performances.

Several Davidsen students received awards at the Hillsborough County PTA/PTSA Reflections Awards Ceremony on Dec. 10 at Jefferson High School. Andrew Foster (Grade 7) received an Award of Excellence in the Musical Composition category. Kaitlyn Heinzelmann (Grade 8) received an Award of Excellence in Visual Arts. Stephanie Abrev (Grade 8) received an Award of Merit for Visual Arts. Award of Excellence recipients will advance to the state Reflections competition.

The Davidsen Boys Track team tied for first place in Hillsborough County. Darwin Cotto blew away his competition and wowed the spectators as he won first place in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the long jump. He is quite possibly the first person in the district to win three individual events at the county level! Reakwon Hopkins ran his personal best in the 800-meter run, finishing second in the county and setting a new school record. The 4x200 relay team, consisting of Angel Rivera-Garcia, Michael Rivera-Garcia, Advaith Pramod, and Kyrie Neverson, had a seventh place finish out of 22 teams. Serena Mercer had a new personal best in the 400-meter run, finishing second place in the county. Masqal Pierre, Nick Miguel, Lillian DiBacco, Lucy Montiegel, Abbie Kohler, Allyssa Bartolo, Joy LaMountain, Claudia Horvath and Mikaila Longway joined the county team in this fantastic finish.

Eighth Grade students are invited to attend “Move Up Night” at Alonso High School on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from the Alonso administration and faculty, enjoy a band performance and attend an Elective Fair.

Mark your calendars for the annual Dragon Blast on Jan. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. This carnival-type event is for students only. There will be games, food, music and prizes. Donations of gently-used stuffed animals can be turned into the office to be used as prizes at this event. All proceeds will directly benefit Davidsen Middle School. Flyers will go home with ticket order forms soon. You can also purchase tickets online at: https://squareup.com/store/davidsen-middle-ptsa/

.

Thanks to those who generously supported Deputy Noland’s holiday toy drive to benefit the Mary Lee House, a facility committed to protecting, respecting and healing the children of abuse and neglect. Thanks also to those who supported the Davidsen Middle School Angel Tree.

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 January Dates

9     Students Return from Winter Break
15   Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: No School
17   Eighth Grade Move Up Night at Alonso High School, 6 p.m.
26   Dragon Blast, 2-4 p.m.

By Carolyn Reynolds

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Real Estate Round Up, January 2018

Address

Sale Price

Days On Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full Baths

Half

Baths

Sq. Ft. Heated

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11616 Highbury Way

268,000

15

155.18

3

2

1

1,727

N

10706 Needlepoint Pl.

277,500

5

176.98

3

2

1

1,568

N

9006 Spring Garden Way

308,000

60

187.80

3

2

1

1,640

N

10014 Bentley Way

335,000

13

166.42

3

2

1

2,013

N

9915 Hartwell Bridge Cir.

345,000

103

146.06

4

2

1

2,362

N

10509 Greensprings Dr.

420,000

380

126.47

4

4

0

3,321

Y

9207 Woodbay Dr.

420,000

140

175.15

4

3

0

2,398

Y

9306 Rockport Pl.

440,000

173

182.27

4

2

1

2,414

Y

9617 Royce Dr.

452,000

29

185.86

4

2

0

2,432

N

10413 Brentford Dr.

468,500

3

178.95

4

3

0

2,618

Y

9406 Woodbay Dr.

469,250

9

184.67

4

3

0

2,541

Y

10458 Greendale Dr.

525,000

29

168.22

4

2

1

3,121

Y

10115 Parley Dr.

549,000

102

189.90

4

3

1

2,891

Y

9908 Emerald Links Dr.

563,000

140

178.50

4

3

1

3,154

Y

10028 Brompton Dr.

580,000

20

169.69

4

3

1

3,418

N

12106 Marblehead Dr.

597,000

64

194.78

4

3

1

3,065

Y

Highland Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11508 Splendid Ln.

457,000

37

163.21

4

3

0

2,800

N

14641 Canopy Dr.

540,000

116

139.43

4

3

1

3,873

N

11710 Lake Dagny Ct.

850,000

227

180.01

7

4

0

4,722

Y

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11318 Cypress Reserve Dr.

270,000

137

153.58

3

2

0

1,758

Y

11529 Cypress Reserve Dr.

290,000

3

164.96

3

2

0

1,758

N

11919 Northumberland Dr.

340,000

37

162.06

4

2

0

2,098

Y

12026 Northumberland Dr.

359,900

88

166.62

3

2

1

2,160

Y

12207 Coldstream Ln.

387,500

7

164.47

4

2

1

2,356

Y

West Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12926 Castlemaine Dr.

550,000

78

157.82

6

3

0

3,485

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14440 Pepperpine Dr.

300,000

67

174.42

3

2

0

1,720

N

12837 Tar Flower Dr.

362,500

26

188.21

3

2

0

1,926

Y

12820 Tar Flower Dr.

398,000

9

172.52

4

3

0

2,307

Y

Windsor Place

               

11145 Windsor Place Cir.

200,000

5

157.23

2

2

1

1,272

N

11229 Windsor Place Cir.

221,000

12

131.31

2

2

1

1,683

N

 

Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates

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33626 Crime: November 2017

Battery-Simple

11/1

11900 Cypress Hill Cr.

Drugs/Narcotics

11/3

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

11/3

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud-Other

11/4

11200 Windsor Place Cr.

Battery-Simple

11/4

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Battery-Simple

11/5

11200 Countryway Blvd.

DUI

11/6

Sheldon Rd./Citrus Park Dr.

DUI

11/6

Sheldon Rd./Westwind Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

11/7

12600 Race Track Rd.

Fraud-Swindle

11/8

8900 Promise Dr.

Disorderly Conduct

11/8

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Public Peace Crimes

11/8

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

11/8

8700 Hampden Dr.

Theft Vehicle & Other Mobile

11/8

10700 Preserve Lake Dr.

Theft From A Vehicle

11/8

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Burglary Residence/Forced

11/9

10000 Tate Ln.

Battery-Simple

11/9

9600 Lakechase Island Wy.

Battery-Simple

11/9

8400 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

11/10

Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Battery-Simple

11/11

9700 Meadow Field Cr.

Battery-Simple

11/13

11200 Countryway Blvd.

Fraud-Impersonation

11/13

12500 Bronco Dr.

Petit Theft-All Other

11/14

11200 Windsor Place Cr.

Fraud-Credit Card

11/14

11200 Windsor Place Cr.

DUI

11/14

8500 Fawn Creek Dr.

Grand Theft-All Other

11/16

12400 Race Track Rd.

Fraud-Impersonation

11/16

11900 Middlebury Dr.

Shoplifting

11/17

12100 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Prescription/Drug Fraud

11/17

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant Out Of County

11/17

Nine Eagles Dr./Race Track Rd.

Trespass Misdemeanor

11/17

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery-Simple

11/18

10400 Sheldon Rd.

Public Intoxication

11/18

12900 Race Track Rd.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

11/19

13000 Race Track Rd.

DUI

11/19

W. Linebaugh Ave./Lake Aston Ct.

Fraud-Impersonation

11/20

12200 Glencliff Cr.

Fraud-Other

11/20

10500 Castleford Wy.

Fraud-Other

11/21

10100 Bennington Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

11/22

10600 Tavistock Dr.

Battery-Simple

11/25

9100 Otter Ps.

Theft From A Vehicle

11/26

12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.

Curtilage With Theft

11/26

11700 Cypress Nk.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

11/28

8800 Key West Cr.

Theft From A Vehicle

11/28

8800 Key West Cr.

DUI

11/28

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Battery-Simple

11/29

10600 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud-Impersonation

11/30

12500 Shirebrook Ct.

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Raven Band Honors Veterans at Pearl Harbor

For the Alonso High School band, December’s trip to Hawaii was the experience of a lifetime.

It was filled with enduring friendship, excellent food, unforgettable vistas and two meaningful performances.

The band, which was selected to participate in the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony, had 30-minute concerts at the Polynesian Cultural Center and on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri battleship.

“We made memories that will never be forgotten,’’ Alonso band director Melanie DuBay said.

After applying to the program and a great deal of fundraising, 80 Alonso students – about half of the band members – made the trip, along with nine chaperones. DuBay brought her husband and their 15-month-old daughter, Emily.

On the morning of departure, Dec. 6, the band members reached the Tampa International Airport at 4 a.m. After traveling to Houston for a brief layover, it was an eight-hour flight to Honolulu.

“Once we got to Hawaii, everybody was really tired from the trip,’’ said Alonso junior Ray Andresen, who plays alto saxophone. “But then we stepped outside and saw all the mountains and scenery. That gave us energy. We were so fired up to actually be there.’’

The Alonso students loved seeing Waikiki Beach, the Dole Pineapple plantation and the view of Diamondhead, along with participating in a luau. They enjoyed a trip to a “secret island,’’ where there was kayaking and wake-boarding.

But the trip’s greater meaning wasn’t lost on anyone.

“I think it gave everyone a better appreciation for our veterans,’’ DuBay said of her students. “They need a good dose of history in their lives to appreciate what they have. I think this trip really helped in that respect.’’

Each year, there is a somber remembrance of Dec. 7, 1941, the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and sent the United States into World War II.

“I’m not sure I could describe what it was like to be part of it,’’ said Alonso junior Will Anderson, who plays tenor saxophone. “It was very patriotic. It was a chance to give back to all the fallen. It was humbling and breathtaking at the same time.’’

“It all meant a lot to me,’’ Andresen said. “It was very flattering and very gratifying that we were picked to do this. I’m sure I’ll remember it the rest of my life.’’

After the two musical performances, reality set it. The Alonso band returned home, traveling through the night and landing in Tampa at mid-afternoon.

The next day, they were back in school.

“That was part of the deal,’’ Andresen said. “We promised our principal that we wouldn’t miss any more time (than necessary). It’s hard, but making this kind of trip was well worth the sacrifice.’’

“Some of the people who made the trip had never even been on a plane,’’ Anderson said. “It was unforgettable to see all those mountains and the crystal blue water. We were still in Hawaii and many of us already had the feeling of how much we were going to miss it.’’

It was the trip of a lifetime.

By Joey Johnston

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Dedication and Celebration of the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library

With the start of a new year, the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library (MGL) is completing a transition to its new name.

You’ve probably already noticed changes to the Friends’ logo, Facebook and forms. Recently the library signage on Countryway Boulevard was updated to reflect the change. On Thursday, Jan. 25 the Hillsborough County Library Board will hold its regular meeting and the dedication ceremony there.

In recognition of the library’s 12th birthday and our new name, the Friends will hold a free Ice Cream Social on Saturday, Jan. 27. While it lasts, the ice cream will be served sundae style and you can choose your toppings. During this event the Gazebo Bookstore will also hold another sale.

As I begin my third year as president of its Friends chapter, I am grateful for a core group of committed volunteers as well as our increased membership. Your paid memberships, the purchase of leaves on the beautiful bronze tree in the lobby, as well as book donations and purchases from the Gazebo Bookstore provide funding for the programs and materials requested by our fantastic librarians. Thank you for your support.

Please join us at the dedication event and the free Ice Cream Social. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook for details and reminders.

We look forward to seeing you and hope you visit and enjoy your library during the coming year.

By Bobbie Muir, President of the Friends of the Library

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Westchase Q and A: What Are Your Resolutions?

This month we asked residents: What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

Jason Pithers, West Park Village
I make resolutions every year. Usually they are in the areas of health and fitness. This year I really want to spend more quality time with my family. Our son is a rising senior and he's already been accepted on a soccer scholarship to the University of Michigan. It's making us really aware that 2018 will be our last year with him home and we want to make the most of it. Of course, I also make business goals. One is to continue to keep Westchase as the preeminent residential community in Tampa. We've lived here since 2004 and love it.

Rick Goldstein, Woodbridge
I always set goals for myself. My 2018 resolutions are pretty much the same always: to be a good person; love and serve my community; enjoy family life; and to accomplish my personal goals. I work out with a personal trainer four days a week and I definitely plan to continue that. When you get older, it's important to stay physically active. It's true what they say about using it or losing it. Physical fitness adds so much to the quality of your life. We love to travel. In April we're traveling to Ireland. I guess you might call it a sort of a "bucket list" thing. 

Safet Shareknapa, West Park Village
I don't make annual resolutions; that's not really how I operate. I set mid-range and long-term goals in key areas of life regarding finances and family a long time ago. They really don't change much from year to year. For me, it isn't about starting new things so much as it is continuing to work on the goals I set years ago. I don't think you need resolutions as much as you need a commitment. We are originally from Sarajevo in Bosnia and are so happy to be in the States and live in Westchase. I would like to find ways to help my community. Now that I'm getting a little older and more settled, there are some things I would like to do. I would like to take my family to visit Europe.

Cindy Fry, West Park Village
I don't have any specific resolutions. I always have things I want to accomplish but I don't need to wait until the New Year to get started. It's just a date. You can start anytime. I want to continue being more mindful, to be aware of what's happening here and now. I'm looking for inner peace and I think practicing mindfulness is the way to attain that. We're all here in this world together and we have to help each other, not fight among ourselves. I've always enjoyed nature and plan to continue supporting causes and organizations that are working to safeguard and improve the environment for everyone.

Mary Anne Kirsch, The Fords
I don't usually make resolutions but I do like to challenge myself and my clients. A lot of people will start the new year by making goals to join a gym and or start exercising. That's great but goals like that are hard to sustain over the long term. If you stop, you feel like you’re a failure and it may be hard to start over. I think short term, even daily challenges are better. I guess I do have one resolution. I always say I want to get more sleep.

By Phil Dean

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Art Museum Tour and New York Deli Lunch

The Westchase Seniors will tour the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art on Saturday, Jan. 20. 

Evelyn Colon has arranged for a docent guided tour for Westchase Seniors at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs. The tour will cost $6 and start at 10:30 a.m. Car pools will depart the old St Joseph's Health Center parking lot at 10909 W. Linebaugh Ave. at 10 a.m. After the museum tour, the group will enjoy a New York style lunch at the famous Lucky Dill Deli on Highway 19, advertised home of the sandwich that ate Brooklyn. The museum is located at 600 E. Klosterman Rd, Tarpons Springs, and Lucky Dill is located at 33180 US-19, Palm Harbor. You may address questions about this Westchase Seniors outing to Evelyn Colon at evycolon@verizon.net or call her at 854-5922.

Christmas Party Pictured here are toys given to children at the Shriners Children's Hospital in Tampa. The toys were contributed by Westchase seniors attending the 2017 Westchase Seniors Group Christmas party. We wish to thank Beverly Mask for organizing this party at Catch 23 restaurant.

Day Trips Join us for the upcoming senior day trips, sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center:

On Thursday, Jan. 4 a bus will depart the Westchase Recreational Center at 9:30 a.m. to go tour the SS American Victory Ship in downtown Tampa. There is a $6 charge for the tour of the ship.

On Tuesday, Feb. 1 a bus will depart the Westchase Recreational Center at 9 a.m. to go sightseeing, shopping, and have lunch at Disney Springs in Orlando. There is no charge for this bus trip.

In March the Westchase Recreation Center will also be offering a trip to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. The date, time, and cost of this trip will be provided in the Westchase Seniors article in the February WOW.

Please make reservations by calling 964-2948. Space is limited so reservations should be made as soon as possible. You will be notified a day or two in advance if there is insufficient space for you. Unless noted otherwise, bring money for your lunch.

Tuesday Morning Coffee Each Tuesday morning from 9-10 a.m. Westchase seniors are invited to meet at the Westchase McDonald’s Restaurant for coffee, breakfast and friendly conversation. The coffee is free with 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 get emails 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 costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Veterans Expressway Opens New Express Lanes

Tampa’s rush hour has seemingly become more manageable during congested periods. The Veterans Expressway – a vital artery – has added an express lane.

But the opening represents the first step of the project and the new express lane’s benefits for Westchase residents are indirect.

While using the Linebaugh Avenue ramp, the most common path out of Westchase to the southbound Veterans, there is no access to the express lane.

The southbound Veterans express lane has an entrance just before Wilsky Boulevard, making Gunn Highway the first accessible ramp before the express lane entrance. It’s a much more viable route for drivers living north of Westchase.

Once drivers enter the southbound express lane, they must remain there until the designated exit at State Road 60, about six miles ahead. The express lane is separated from the other lanes by plastic poles.

In other words, there’s no merging into the express lane in midstream. And there’s no leaving the express lane until it ends.

For drivers heading northbound, the express lane begins just after Hillsborough Avenue and continues until Gunn Highway.

For now, the Veterans Expressway express lane is accessible at no additional charge.

Beginning this spring, using it will come at an additional price to the standard toll.

That’s when the express lane will be extended to Dale Mabry Highway, making it a 9-mile-long option.

The express lane’s toll price? Great question. And it’s one that doesn’t have a specific answer.

But there will be an express-lane toll (in addition to the $1.06 one-way fee during that stretch of the Veterans). Previously, Florida Department of Transportation officials said it would be an additional 25-cent fee.

Now, however, the additional express fee will be determined through “dynamic pricing,’’ meaning the toll price will rise and fall based on demand. If there’s heavy traffic, the express lane will have a higher price. The price will be set to maintain express lane traffic at a minimal 45 mph.

Ultimately, only one thing is certain.

The fully functional express lanes will only be available to drivers with a Sun Pass transponder. The toll-by-plate option, available to other motorists on the Veterans, will not be offered on the express lanes.

Further, only two-axle vehicles are allowed in the express lanes. Vehicles pulling boats or trailers are not permitted.

The Veterans Expressway widening and renovation project began in 2013. It will conclude later this year. Total cost: $380-million.

By Joey Johnston

Image courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation.

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Home of the Month: 12011 Brewster Dr.

Harbor Links resident Susan Hirsch has more than 1,000 varieties of plants in her yard.

That is even more amazing when you consider that the first time the New York native ever had a garden was when she moved to Tampa as an adult. “I lived in New York in the city my whole life,” Susan explained. “We moved here when my husband Larry got a position with the Lightning as a broadcaster doing the radio play-by-play. I had always lived in an apartment. I did not know how to drive. It was culture shock, but I always loved plants and animals and was so excited to have my first garden at our place in Carrollwood.” 

Susan’s current garden is considerably larger then her first one; however, it did not start out that way. “I was here every day during the construction of our house. When it came time for landscaping, I did not really know what to do.”

Shortly after moving into their new home, the Lightning was sold and Larry left the team. According to Susan, it was a very difficult time and she vowed to herself that when, “everything is better, every window I look out of is going to be beautiful.”

Fortunately, it did not take long for their fortune to turn and once she started picking out new plants for her flowerbeds, it became an obsession. Now, she sees the beauty even in the weeds that sprout up in her flowerbeds and has become adept at bringing unhealthy plants back to life and sharing the bounty of her garden with others. In addition to the front and back flowerbeds, she has ones around every tree and has made it a point to have something flowering during every season. “I like to mix plants and love variegated plants for their color and impact. I mix tropical with traditional and love unusual, exotic plants. I’m always looking for something new.”

A visit to Susan’s yard will certainly introduce you to new and unexpected plants. In addition to daisies, crown of thorns and vincas, she has a dainty Chinese Cap Tree that produces hat-like blooms in the spring, two types of bleeding hearts, red, blue and white lilies, a white weeping hibiscus and towering trees that started as saplings. “The birds have been good to my yard,” said Susan, who never throws any plant away until it has had a chance to grow and bloom and earn a spot in her garden. “I’m a big fan of the discards sections at Lowe’s,” she added. “I feel bad for the plants with nowhere to go.”

Happy gardening! And please remember to run changes to your yard and home exterior by the Modifications Committee first.

Variegated Bougainvillea

A native of Brazil, Bougainvillea is a great way to add winter color to your garden. It likes well-drained soil. A woody vine, it can be trained to grow on a trellis or fence or in a pot or hanging basket. In other parts of her garden, Susan has up to two different vines growing on the same trellis to provide color throughout the year.

Know a Westchase home that should be featured in our Home of the Month column? Please send its street address to Marcy Sanford at marcysanford@mail.com.

By Marcy Sanford

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A Couple Committed to Giving Back

After nearly 60 years of marriage, West Park Village residents Wil and Sylvia Coudriet continue to find joy in helping others help themselves.

While most married couples would never attempt to work with one another, the Coudriets are certainly an exception. Together they have owned several successful businesses, from donut shops to KFC franchises, even working with “The Colonel” himself. Along the way, Wil went in search of an opportunity to serve his community. Since 1977, he has served both his local community and impoverished areas around the world through his involvement with Rotary. Sylvia joined the organization in 1995 and together they helped establish new branches of the organization and served in leadership roles as well. Though now retired, the couple remains active in Rotary Club of Tampa-Westchase and has no plans to retire from that any time soon.

The couple met in 1959 when Wil was managing food services at West Virginia University. While glancing through the yearbook, one particular senior caught his eye. “That’s the girl I’m going to marry,” he declared when he saw a photo of Sylvia among the graduating class. It must have been fate that led her to his office soon thereafter to discuss a social event she was planning at the school. “I couldn’t believe it. There she was in my office!” he recalled. He wasted no time in asking her out for dinner. She said yes to his request and six weeks later, they were married! “It really was love at first sight,” he said.

“One of our first ventures together was a KFC franchise,” he explained. Getting in on the ground floor of the company in the early years gave them the opportunity to be trained by The Colonel. “He turned chicken into fast food when he came up with a system to cook it in eight minutes,” he said. Wil shared that even before he was famous, The Colonel dressed as he was seen on TV marketing the brand. The Colonel once told Wil of the company’s success, “We got mama out of the kitchen and she ain’t never going back!” When asked if he was ever privy to the secret recipe, he said he was not. “He did tell me that all 11 spices are common ones in everyone’s cabinet,” Wil said.

At age 55, Wil joined Rotary. “I decided we’d been ‘takers’ and I wanted to get out and give something back,” he shared. Rotary appealed to him because of the broad pallet of opportunities to serve. Through community, international, youth and vocational services, the couple has traveled to 15 different countries as Rotary representatives to work on projects including clean water and polio vaccines for children. “Being a member of Rotary really makes you grow as a person,” Sylvia said. Until a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1989, women were not allowed to join Rotary. Wil recalled the first time women were allowed into his group. “Several men got up and left the meeting,” he recalled. Today more than half of the 1.2 million Rotary members are women. Wil served as President of The Rotary Club of Vero Beach 1985 and as Governor of District 6930 in 1994. Sylvia served as President of the Asheville West Rotary Club in North Carolina, which was named Club of the Year.

The couple explained Rotary Club of Tampa-Westchase is quite active. Anyone looking for an opportunity to serve can surely find what they’re looking for with this group. Community service projects include a used bike collection drive after the holidays. “Kids get new bikes and then we collect the ones they don’t need anymore,” he said. The bikes are donated to children in need of a bike or adults who need a bike for transportation. Other favorite projects include their work with Trinity Café feeding the homeless and Rotary’s Camp Florida for children with cancer and other illnesses. To include high school students, Rotary sponsors high school Interact Clubs. “We work with students from Sickles and Alonso and we’ve really enjoyed our time with them,” he said. The Interact Club at Sickles has more than 150 members and was recently rated one of the top clubs in the world when they received an International Award for Service from Rotary. When they aren’t helping high school students earn service hours, they can often be found with a different type of senior as they host Bingo Night at nearby Aston Gardens.

According to Wil, the philosophy of Rotary is, “A hand up, not a hand out.”

He added, “We teach people how to improve themselves,” he said.

Many thanks to Wil and Sylvia for providing many “hands up” in their years of service to so many others. 

By Lisa Stephens

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

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, December 2017

We all have those moments during the holidays.

You know. When the thought of hiring a potentially dangerous biker gang to wrap all the gifts seems like a perfectly reasonable option.

Hells Elves Mobile Gift Wrapping, December’s fabulous fakery, offered just that service. They promised to wrap while you nap. Best of all?

They love Westchase moms.

Alas, it didn’t convince some of our Frozen Pizza Eaters (WOW’s euphemism for the Fake Ad Contest’s unwinners). Brentford biker Marty Hamilton observed, “Far be it from me to ever disrespect any motorcycle club, but for fear of coming home to find the ol’ lady with a bow on her head, I’m going to avoid Hells Elves (pg 58) for my mobile wrapping needs this year.”

The editor politely reminds Marty that he should never judge a motorcycle gang by their threatening looks and large knives.

Meanwhile, we congratulate Westwood Lakes resident Rosemary Jassoy, who kept her head over the stressful holidays. Her randomly selected correct fake ad guess won her a free dinner at Catch Twenty-Three to help launch her new year, courtesy of its proprietor Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

Get your January guesses in today, fake ad fans!

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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Past Meets Present at Egmont Key

You’ll find a little something for everyone on this hidden gem.

Located off the shore of Fort De Soto Park, Egmont Key features a lighthouse and remains of a military fort for history lovers, shells galore for shell collectors and crystal clear waters for snorkelers. We took a half-day tour with Calypso Cat out of the Tierra Verde Marina for our visit to this secluded island that is only accessible by boat.

The first stop on our tour was just to the west of the island where you can snorkel around remains of Fort Dade, a former military community of 300 people that remained active until 1923 and is now submerged by water and erosion. Neat corals and sponges have grown along the walls, attracting fish. Our tour included noodles, masks, snorkels and fins. The average depth of the water is 12 feet and it was easy for everyone in our group, from the 8 year old and up, to snorkel around the area. 

When we reached the island, we had plenty of time for hiking. We followed a trail to the lighthouse built in 1858 that still guides boats in and out of Tampa Bay, and walked along 100-year-old brick roads past more remains of Fort Dade.

Designated as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1974, Egmont Key is home to protected populations of gopher tortoises and box turtles, as well as several species of nesting birds. The water surrounding the island is very shallow making it easy to find and collect different types of shells. We even spotted a manatee swimming.

Another highlight of our trip was the boat ride home, as we were joined by many different pods of dolphins and our boat driver was willing to stop the boat to let us admire them.

There aren’t any stores on the key so whether you travel by private or tour boat, you want to be sure you have plenty of drinking water and sunscreen on hand. There are picnic tables on the island if you want to bring lunch or snacks.

If you’ve never visited Egmont Key and are interested, you might want to add it to your list of things to do this spring or summer. During the boat ride, our guide mentioned that the key is eroding and in 2017 the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation listed it as a threatened historic property. About 60 percent of the island has eroded since the 1850s. Once 400 acres, the island is now about 160 acres and is only two miles long and a half-mile wide.

Egmont Key
http://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Egmont-Key

By Marcy Sanford

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Weather Postpones Jan. 12 Movie in the Park

Tonight's Movie in the Park, which was to be Moana, has been postponed until next Friday, Jan. 19, due to rain. The movie is shown on the Montague Street green in West Park Village.

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Weather Postpones Jan. 12 Movie in the Park

Tonight's Movie in the Park, which was to be Moana, has been postponed until next Friday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. due to rain. The movie is shown on the Montague Street green in West Park Village.

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WCA Board Touts Tennis Tournament Success and Resolves Estoppel Fees

January’s WCA Board meeting saw directors praise organizers of the Westchase Open and resolve a five-month discussion on fees surrounding estoppels.

The Jan. 11 meeting also saw board members withdraw support for a West Park Village resident who has complained about music coming from Seafood Exchange’s patio.

Appearing before the board was Westchase Open Tennis Tournament organizer Eric Pogue and Westchase Charitable Foundation President Sean O’Donnell, the beneficiary of the event that worked with Pogue to organize it.

“Gentlemen,” said Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo,
“That really was a great event.”

Collazo added, “You and your team pulled off one of the best events we have had here in a very long time.”

The tournament, held the weekend of Jan. 6, raised $15,000, three times its goal, to benefit the WCF, a local non-profit that assists families that have experienced medical or other emergencies. O’Donnell mentioned that a portion of funds raised was already assisting a family with a member in ICU due to a tragic car accident. “So this money is going right to use,” he said.

“We had a great committee,” said Pogue. “We just had a real family feeling. It turned out so well.” Pogue added, “We just have too great a community for it to have turned out otherwise.”

The meeting, however, opened with WCA directors discussing the recent estoppel issue with Ryan Greenacre, the owner of their management company, Greenacre Properties, Inc. (GPI). In the fall GPI informed the board that it would be charging between $250-500 to home buyers and sellers for estoppel fees and other closing charges.

Estoppels are requested by title agents on behalf of home buyers to ensure that titles of purchased homes will be transferred free of liens, judgments and fines and to ensure association dues and capital contributions are paid in full.

The charge prompted the board to get a quote from their own attorney from Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick (SLK) for estoppels/closing costs and they responded with $175.
WCA Director Brian Ross led with a motion to accept the SLK bid, but it went down in a 2-5 vote.

Subsequently board members considered a counteroffer from GPI for a flat $225 charge. Ross, however, stated he was displeased with how a GPI official handled a meeting with board members, citing disparaging remarks the officer made about directors. GPI President Ryan Greenacre, present at the meeting, addressed the matter by stating of his employee, “No harm was meant by the remarks.”

With other directors citing their happiness with GPI’s Debbie Sainz and Charlotte Adams, who work in the Westchase and were not involved in the meeting, board members ultimately voted 5-2, with Ross and WCA Director Ashley Wait opposed, to approve the Greenacre estoppel and closing charges.

Making her report, Association Manager Debbie Sainz stated that it would take a while for ordered light poles for the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center to arrive. Later in the meeting, she offered for painting companies bids for repainting both swimming pool buildings and the WCA office building and directors chose the lowest bids for all three, from Harrison Contracting.

In other actions, directors reviewed imposed fines for deed restriction violations, imposing some, waiving others and granting one resident present an extension to address a violation for missing a row of hedges. They also transferred surplus funds from previous years into their appropriated fun, which contains six months’ operating expenses. WCA Director Forrest Baumhover also praised the performance of Facilities and Operations Manager Kelly Shires, asking Shires to detail what tasks he’s undertaken to save homeowners money. Reviewing Shires’ reported hours worked, Directors Brian Ross and Ruben Collazo directed him to take a vacation and reduce his time to strike a healthier balance in his life.

Director Ross also cited GAC Chair Rick Goldstein’s remarks at a recent CDD meeting where Goldstein and a Kingsford resident petition described the GAC and WCA as representing the sole voice of Westchase. Mentioning that the WCA solely represents homeowners in Westchase and not its businesses or community organizations, Ross encouraged Goldstein to embrace more caution in future language.

Rounding out major action, directors heard from Seafood Exchange owner Tony Bartolo. A number of directors praised Bartolo’s restaurant and thanked him for his willingness to address complaints about music from the restaurant patio, which Bartolo said he’s been assured by the county’s Environmental Protection Agency and sheriff’s office is in compliance with county codes. GAC Chair Goldstein informed Bartolo that the association had withdrawn its cooperation and support from a nearby resident who had complained about the music and subsequently sent a letter containing personal threats to Bartolo.

Directors adjourned at 8:07 p.m.

WCA Board’s December Meeting

The WCA’s December board meeting occurred after deadline for the January WOW and is available here. Among major actions the board took in December were:

• Directors removed Bridges resident Barbara Griffith from the GAC.
• Directors approved the Variance Committee’s ability to consult with CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart as needed for cases.
• Directors voted 4-3 to refund a homeowners Variance Committee application fee after she belatedly realized she did not have to seek a variance.
• Directors voted 5-2 to deny a homeowners’ request to put out his trash can early due to his work schedule’s conflict with HOA requirements for trash container storage.
• Discussing GPI’s proposed estoppel fees, directors voted 5-2 to counter with a proposed $150 fee for estoppel and other closing costs.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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VMs Hear About Westchase Crime and Road Repaving

The Jan. 9 Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting began with Hillsborough County Master Deputy Jeff Carson from District III providing a crime tips for Westchase.

Carson explained that residents need to check that all doors and windows are locked and advised. He said that it is a great idea to record serial numbers for items that might be stolen because after the theft, the sheriff’s office can check serial numbers in the pawnshop database. Residents should also take pictures of items like electronics and jewelry.

Carson advised residents, “Be the eyes and ears in your own neighborhood.”

Carson said that 70 percent of auto burglaries are to unlocked cars. He said that juveniles periodically roam neighborhoods checking for an unlocked car. Residents should also remove valuables from their cars and their garage door openers, which can be used to burglarize your home.

Carson concluded by detailing the sheriff department’s crime search map and its Tip 411 app for cell phones and tablets, offering a free, anonymous way to contact the sheriff’s office. To find it, simply search HCSOSHERIFF in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Vice President Rick Goldstein, who also serves as Woodbridge VM, chaired the meeting due to the WCA president’s illness encouraged residents to use the sheriff’s office’s vacation watch service and touted doorbell video cameras while Carson touted inexpensive game cameras as effective ways of catching criminals on video.

VM Eric Holt (Radcliffe) asked if there was a way to see crime resolutions. Carson responded that each victim or complainant is given a case number and they can call at any point in time to get an update and know whether the case is active or closed.

Goldstein then introduced Stephanie Agliano of Hillsborough County Neighborhood Relations. She introduced David Vogel, project manager for the Westchase resurfacing projects. He explained that the $1.2 million Westchase repaving project should begin at the end of January. That project and schedule will be detailed in February’s WOW.

Subsequently, VMs quickly approved the initial guideline amendment for Woodbay, allowing rain chains in lieu of standard downspouts.

VM Mary Griffin then asked VMs to get the word out about a community meeting on Jan. 18 from 6-8 p.m. about the Guardian Ad Litem program. She described it as an orientation session. She added she had been a volunteer in the past and would be starting again. She explained that there is a huge shortage of volunteers right now for the program, which has almost 8,000 children in some form of care in Hillsborough County and only 800 volunteers to help them navigate their dealings with the court system.

Goldstein announced that the Westchase Open Tennis Tournament was a huge success, with it raising far more than its $5,000 goal. Goldstein noted, “We have a great senior division with some players in their mid-80s.”

Last, VM Gerald Pappa (The Greens) stated that turn lane issues on Linebaugh have caused people to enter the Greens gate as visitors simply to make a U-turn to cross the street and enter The Fords. “We’ve almost had people run over and they are backing up the gate house. This is a big problem,” he said. Pappa asked VMs to send an email to their residents requesting they not do this. Pappa also said that CDD Field Supervisor Doug Mays told him that Christmas trees were showing up in the canals and in the woods. Pappa said, “You can’t dispose of your tree by throwing them in the canal.”

VMs adjourned at 7:53 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Jan. 12, 2018

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WCA Board Removes GAC Member

At the December meeting of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board, WCA Directors Forrest Baumhover recommended that Community Development District (CDD) Supervisor Barbara Griffith be removed from the WCA’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC).

Baumhover said that Griffith had taken some liberties with her position and had undermined a Kingsford resident’s discussion with county officials seeking solutions for safety and traffic issues at Kingsbridge Road and Montague Street during Davidsen Middle School’s dismissal. Director Rick Goldstein, the GAC chair, agreed that Griffith was not a good fit for the committee. Director Brian Ross asked if Griffith knew that her position on the committee was going to be discussed at the meeting. He said he felt there should be some preliminary discussion or notification. Goldstein said he had had discussions with Griffith and that she had said she did not care about politics but wanted to do what she thought was right.

Directors voted 4-2, with Director Joaquin Arrillaga and Board President Ruben Collazo casting the dissenting votes, to remove Griffith from the committee.

All voted in favor of Ross’ suggestion to add CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart as a consultant to the Variance Committee.

A previous WCA Board determined that the WCA keep six months of operating funds in reserve. Directors discussed moving $20,000 from pre-paid assessments to the reserve fund but decided to table the discussion until January so they could consult with the accountant. Arrillaga pointed out that the WCA’s budget is $1.5 million and gave kudos to the board and community association manager for managing the money so well.

A Woodbay resident asked the board to give her more time to fix problems with her lawn. She said her sprinkler was broken and that now there were areas of dead sod but that she had talked to someone who said he could have it looking good in 30 days. A few directors questioned if it was reasonable to expect grass to grow during the winter but Ross pointed out that the situation had been ongoing since August. All voted in favor of his motion to table the appeal for 30 days and uphold the fine if the situation is not remedied in that time.

Stockbridge residents also were at the meeting to appeal their fine for a vehicle parked on the street. They said that their daughter worked until late at night but that they usually stayed up to move cars around so that her car would not be blocking their cars in when they had to leave for work in the morning. They promised that she would not park in the street overnight again. All voted in favor of their appeal.

A Woodbay resident asked the board to refund her Variance Committee fee. She said she had installed rain chains instead of downspouts at her house and that after she received a violation, she went to the Modifications Committee, where her request was denied. She then took the issue to the Variance Committee and submitted an application along with the $150 fee. She said, however, she realized within minutes of being at the meeting that the Variance Committee was not the correct forum for her request. She has since submitted a guideline amendment for her neighborhood, which would allow rain chains. Collazo pointed out that there is a line on the Variance Committee application that says, “Click here for more information,” and asked why she did not read the information herself. She said she relied on the information given to her at the Modifications Committee. Directors voted in favor of her request 4-3 with Director Keith Heinemann, Collazo and Arrillaga casting the dissenting votes.

Directors denied a homeowner’s request to put his trashcan out early because he had to be at work during the time when it is permissible to have trashcans on the street. Goldstein suggested they talk to the man, who is a firefighter, about getting a larger trashcan so he will only need to put it out once a week. Arrillaga said that the other request to put out a trashcan early was because of a disability and therefore had to be approved but that this situation was different. Directors voted 5-2 to deny the homeowner’s request, with Director Ashley Wait and Goldstein casting the dissenting votes.

Directors discussed the vending machines at the West Park Village and Swim and Tennis Center facilities. They noted that the machines were often broken and had never been profitable. Arrillaga said the machines had been installed after a resident won a WCA contest that encouraged residents to submit suggestions for ways to make Westchase better. Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz said she had heard from someone who wanted to take over the operation of the machines and said she’d get more information for the next board meeting.

Directors have been discussing estoppel fees for several months. Over previous months they have questioned the fees Westchase’s management company, Greenacre Properties Inc. (GPI) charges to issue the certificates. Ross asked the association’s law firm, Shumaker Loop and Kendrick (SLK), for a bid for issuing the certificates. SLK said they would do them for a flat fee of $175 each. Collazo asked if the association would be in breach of contract if they went with another company. Ross said he would not suggest the association do something that would put it in breach of a contract but if it did, they could make the effective date later in the future.

Directors discussed the possibility that GPI would increase their management fees if they were not able to make money from the estoppel certificates and Goldstein said that if they did that, then perhaps it was time to get bids from other companies. Arrillaga responded that he did not think they would be able to find another company that manages as well as GPI. Baumhover said he had reservations that if there were already issues with GPI, that bringing SLK into the process could have a potentially negative outcome. Wait said she did not think that the WCA should be held in fear that GPI would not work well with others.

Directors ultimately voted 5-2, with Wait and Goldstein dissenting, in favor of authorizing the board president to approach GPI about issuing estoppel certificates for a flat fee of $150 with a 10-day turnaround time. Directors then defeated a motion, 3-4, to begin using SLK if GPI declined the offer, with Ross, Arrillaga, Heinemann and Baumhover casting the dissenting votes. A motion to begin requesting proposals from other management companies was withdrawn after several directors pointed out that the process would need to be more formally planned out.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Jan. 10, 2018

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Baybridge Park Playground to See Temporary Closure

The Westchase Community Development District (CDD) has informed WOW that Baybridge Park’s playground will be closed Jan. 16-19 for repairs.

In recent months the park’s rubberized play surface has peeled back in areas. The vendor who installed the park has committed to repairing and replacing its surface under the playground’s warranty. At recent CDD meetings, Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated the vendor believes the peeling was caused by applying the top layer too thinly.

From Tuesday, Jan. 16 through Friday, Jan. 19, the playground in Baybridge Park will be closed for the repairs. All residents are asked to keep children from playing on the playground’s surface during repair work and the time it needs to cure.

Baybridge Park’s field and walking trail, however, will remain open during that time. Glencliff Park and its playground will remain unaffected and open.

Baybridge Park is located in The Bridges.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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CDD Meeting Addresses County Sewer Project and Kingsford Complaints

The Jan. 9 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw supervisors tackle a number of projects in addition to their potential purchase of the Westchase golf course.

“As we can see this evening, we have residents with things on their minds,” said CDD Chair Jim Mills.

To handle the crowd of at least 75 folks attending the meeting to address various topics, Mills stated he had divided the agenda into three parts and residents wishing to address each one would be permitted in for that portion of the meeting until the room reached capacity.

With the golf course discussion third on the list (WOW’s coverage of the golf course appears here), supervisors first heard from Hillsborough County staff members about the current Northwest Wastewater Treatment Plant’s expansion. That project, which will be detailed in February’s WOW, will affect the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection for roughly five months. “The idea is to start in May and finish in September,” Bill Harrington of Hillsborough County Public Utilities said of the intersection work.

In order to both bore new sewer lines and a new reclaimed water line beneath the intersection, lanes in each direction will be altered in five stages of 30 days each. In all cases, two through lanes will be maintained and there will be a dedicated left turn lane. Right turns will still be permitted but, in some cases, a dedicated right turn lane would temporarily not exist. Speaking to supervisors, Harrington also stated that while pipe installation along Sheldon Road north of Westchase would be done by open trenches (the cause of the recent removal of oaks in the Sheldon median outside of Fawn Ridge), the installation of a new reclaimed water line down Westchase’s median from Sheldon Road to the entrance of Westchase Elementary would be accomplished by underground directional boring, approximately 20 feet beneath existing landscaping. “There will not be open excavation,” he said. “It will be under the median.”

Harrington added, “Where we cause damage, of course, we have to restore it.”

Supervisors thanked the county representatives and turned to their second agenda item, which saw ten residents in the room from Kingsford. Joining them were Government Affairs Committee (GAC) member Joe Odda and GAC Chair Rick Goldstein.

Kingsford’s Derek Rotolo, who lives near the intersection of Kingsbridge Avenue and Montague Street near Davidsen Middle School, read a lengthy petition signed by dozens of Kingsford residents. It complained that CDD Supervisor Barbara Griffith, who was absent from the meeting, had contacted Hillsborough County as a CDD supervisor and requested the county remove the traffic control barrier that permits only a right turn from Kingbridge onto Montague and prevents any Montague traffic from entering Kingsbridge Avenue. The petition expressed support for keeping the traffic barrier, stated that the Westchase Community Association (WCA) represented the voice of Westchase and requested that supervisors direct Griffith to cease and desist from representing her personal causes under the guise of the Westchase CDD.

Kingsford’s Brian Bobrovetski also voiced support for keeping the traffic barriers. “I don’t want it turned into another Countryway or another autobahn,” he said.

Describing the impact that Davidsen Middle School traffic already has on the neighborhood, Bobrovetski added, “We don’t need to make it a through street and add to the chaos.”

GAC Chair Goldstein, who successfully requested that the WCA Board remove Griffith from the GAC in December, stated, “Westchase speaks with one voice. That voice is the WCA.”

CDD Chair Jim Mills told residents that he was a former Kingsford resident who spearheaded the installation of the traffic control device 15 years prior to deal with the impact that Davidsen’s opening had on the neighborhood. He stated that only the same region of Kingsford could successfully request the traffic control device’s removal. He concluded, referencing District Manager Andy Mendenhall, “I will ask Andy to have a conversation with Ms. Griffith.”

WOW reached out to Griffith for comment but she stated she was departing for travel out of state and would be unavailable to discuss the matter until next week. “There are a lot of moving parts here,” she wrote.

Supervisors then turned to discussion of the potential Westchase Golf Course purchase, which WOW has covered here.

At their January meeting supervisors also heard from CDD Engineer Tonya Stewart, who stated M/I Homes had still not completed paperwork to transfer permits and actual ownership of the large lake between West Lake Townhomes, Stonebridge and east side of Sturbridge. She stated time was short before the association transferred over to resident control in March. CDD Attorney Erin McCormick, however, stated that it was unlikely the transfer could successfully happen in the time before its residents gain control of that association.

Supervisors also briefly discussed Stewart’s recommendation that the board members approve Best Management Practices for aquatics management and communicate them to A & B Aquatics, their aquatics management company. She also recommended incorporating them into the district’s contract with the company. Supervisors directed Stewart to proceed with developing the guidelines.

Making her report, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she had spoken to Dynamo Canada, the company who installed the Glencliff playground. She stated a representative would visit Westchase to examine and honor a playground surface warranty claim and discuss the potential addition of a small slide to the Glencliff playground.

Supervisors also voted 4-0 to approve the Westchase Soccer Association’s use of Glencliff Park fields for their spring and fall seasons, running March 3-May 19 and Sept. 8 to Nov. 17.

Supervisors also passed a motion authorizing Field Supervisor Doug Mays to hire Windows Depot install new windows and doors to the Greens guardhouse for $14,782.

Mays also stated he had obtained bids for two permanent shade canopies, each measuring 8’ x 20’, for the far side of Glencliff Park’s soccer field at a cost of $16,318. The project was recommended last month by Supervisor Griffith to offer shade for soccer teams of the Westchase Soccer Association. Supervisor Lewis offered to inquire with the Westchase Soccer Association to determine if they were in support of the installation of the shade structures. CDD Supervisor Brian Ross asked if staff planned to check if Glencliff residents had any objections, but Field Supervisor Doug Mays assured those present that if there was Glencliff opposition, staff would receive feedback once residents read the district’s meeting coverage in WOW.

Director Ross asked his fellow supervisors if there was a board willingness to convey their unhappiness with Davey, their landscaper, and OLM, their landscape reviewer, for failure to maintain a proper appearance of hedges in parks and along Linebaugh and Countryway. Supervisors concurred. Field Manager Mays added that after Davey heard of Ross’ concerns from him, Davey replaced about 30 hedges that had died due to its failure to maintain the irrigation systems in the areas.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated that the county had agreed to provide new signage for West Park Village and she was currently seeking bids for new sign poles for West Park Village, which uses specialty fixtures. She stated she would likely have bids by the district’s Feb. 6 meeting, which will be held at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center instead of its usual venue, the WCA office building on Parley Drive.

Mills added that supervisors needed to keep their eye on the calendar in preparation for bidding out the district’s landscaping contract for the new budget year, which begins in October. That bid preparation and acquisition process usually takes about six months.

Supervisor Ross concluded the meeting by stating the day after Christmas he walked out of his West Park Village home to see multiple neighbors and their children playing in the park across from his house. Calling it a “great advertisement for Westchase,” Ross added, I just want to tell you guys we live in a great community.”

Supervisors adjourned at 7:27 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Jan. 11, 2018

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CDD Consideration of Purchase of Westchase Golf Course Postponed to Feb. 6

It was one of the most crowded, most contentious Westchase community meetings of the last decade.

The Jan. 9 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) was dominated by Harbor Links and Greens residents’ reactions to news that the district would vote on a letter of intent to purchase the Westchase Golf Course. More than two dozen residents packed the small meeting room in the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office building on Parley Drive for a meeting that typically sees no more than two or three residents attend on average each month.

Outside there were as many as 40 more residents who wished to enter but were prevented due to the building’s legal capacity.

Under public notice requirements for the meeting, the district could not switch to a larger venue at the last minute. This left a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy and CDD staff to manage the outside crowd, which provoked a controversy of its own. The following day on WOW’s Facebook News Group, Westchase Neighborhood News, residents such as Amanda Siftar, Maria Kletchka and Sebastian de Almanara,  who showed up at the meeting but were not permitted to enter due to space constraints, insisted CDD staff members asked them to leave their names and told them the meeting had been postponed a week. This contradicted a notice on the building door that stated the meeting would address three topics and residents attending for each one would be allowed to enter as space permitted. When asked by WOW, CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated she hadn’t told waiting residents the meeting was cancelled. She stated she had informed them that no formal vote on the matter would be held in the Jan. 9 meeting but would instead be considered at the district’s Feb. 6 meeting, which will be re-noticed as occurring at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center, whose meeting room can handle a bigger crowd.

Contrary to impressions CDD staff left with residents who departed, the meeting was held, with the golf course purchase one of three major topics supervisors addressed. While many of those residents left, more than two dozen like de Almanara remained and eventually filled the meeting room to capacity when CDD supervisors turned to discussion about the course.

Upon the meeting’s start, supervisors did, however, briefly entertain the possibility of continuing the meeting to a later date at a site with a larger capacity. They ultimately elected to postpone any consideration of a formal motion about the golf course until Feb. 6.

Relying on conversations with CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney on Monday, Jan. 7, WOW Online reported that supervisors intended to vote on a letter of intent to purchase the golf course, triggering a six month period of due diligence before they held a formal vote to close on the purchase. Subsequently, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick informed supervisors that because the topic had not been put on the meeting’s previously announced agenda, no formal vote could be taken that day.

Instead supervisors addressed concerned residents’ questions, misconceptions and their motivation in considering the purchase.

Opening discussion of the agenda item, CDD Chair Jim Mills, who identified himself as a Greens property owner living on the golf course, joked with the audience. “After 20 years of living here, it’s amazing when something gets someone’s attention, you do take time and show up at the meetings.”

Mills observed that in the fall supervisors voted on the district’s sizeable budget establishing homeowners’ assessments and not a single resident was present for the public budget forum.

“We trusted you,” a resident shouted from the audience, triggering laughter.

The comment aptly captured the sentiment of the room, which appeared rooted in a level of distrust about the district’s handling of the golf course matter. “Could you tell us the truth of what’s happening?” another resident immediately pressed.

Supervisor Greg Chesney then described what the district had done thus far regarding the course. Chesney stated he was tasked by the board at its November meeting to meet with the golf course owner, Nick Neubauer, after Supervisor Brian Ross stated he had heard the course was for sale.

During the meeting, Chesney, and the WOW reporter present (when an audience member requested it), delineated subsequent district actions and discussions. In mid-December, Chesney, the district’s engineer and Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo took a tour of golf course property. Subsequently Chesney and Collazo met with Neubauer over lunch to discuss potential terms of a sale. At December’s meeting, Stantec landscape architect Neal Stralow, present to discuss potential plans for re-landscaping Westchase neighborhood entrances, also touched on whether the golf course could be turned into a linear park of bike and hiking trails if the district purchased the golf course and determined maintaining it as a course was no longer financially feasible.

Subsequently, Chesney emphasized, the district acquired more financial information about the course that gave him greater confidence that the golf course could be made more profitable with proper investments. He emphasized to residents present that there were no current plans for the district to purchase the course and immediately turn it into park space.

This didn’t fully mollify residents. The most vocal among them were Edward Titan and Todd Marks of The Greens; Larry Hirsch and Paul Fraleigh of Harbor Links; and Ken Blair of Glencliff. Hirsch and Titan demanded assurances from the district that if they moved forward with the golf course’s purchase that the district first guarantee that they be operated as golf courses in perpetuity.

In reality, the WCA Board and the CDD Board cannot bind future boards to any decision.

When Greens resident Sebastian de Almanara inquired how the district thought it could pay for the purchase, Chesney responded, “I believe we have the financial resources to pay for it.”

Chesney stated the district’s bank had informally assured him of a 20-year line of credit to cover the purchase. Chesney added, “We don’t think there will be any change to the assessments of any residents.”

Chesney added the district was in its last year of paying for recent park improvements, after which it had approximately $340,000 to $350,000 in capital funds available. Later, Chesney stated his initial calculations for the course’s purchase, its maintenance and the investment of $350,000 in upgrades would represent $65 per year of each Westchase home’s overall CDD assessments.

While Supervisors Mills echoed CDD Attorney Erin McCormick’s announcement that no formal decision would be made at the meeting, residents present still pressed a number of issues.

Hirsch insisted that as an original owner on the golf course, he and other homeowners were guaranteed that their properties would always be adjacent to a golf course. He insisted supervisors research original documents to discover homeowner guarantees of golf course property. “It’s our investment. And our money. It’s why we’re here,” he said.

Titan, who attended the meeting with a golf club, inquired about the course’s current zoning. McCormick stated it was zoned for a golf course and that residents could always weigh in should another owner attempt to change its zoning with Hillsborough County.

Chesney emphasized that while he had acquired some information about formal restrictions on the golf course’s future use. He added, however, “We are still in the process of determining what can be done there.”

Historically, however, despite the area being zoned for a golf course, Westchase’s developer was able to win county approval for the construction of Saville Rowe on what once was golf course property.

Chesney also addressed another resident’s concerns that the district was just acquiring the golf course to turn around and sell it to developers and Marks’ question about whether the district would be precluded from developing the land itself. Chesney responded, “We would be unable to develop it.”

McCormick clarified that under Florida law, residential and commercial land development is not included in a CDD’s permitted responsibilities.

Chesney also emphasized that historically the Westchase CDD had never sold land. Instead, he stated its practice has been to acquire land to protect the community from future development. He acknowledged that the district could get rid of land it owned but stated that the process was complicated.

Stating he supported the district’s research into the purchase, Harbor Links resident Terry Schechinger offered a cautious note to residents speaking out against it. He stated a previous community he had lived in decided to sell its golf course to a private owner to save residents money. “It went to hell,” he said. “It was not the same kind of environment or same kind of place.”

Residents in the back of the meeting room asked what the district’s rush was. One emphasized that the course had been for sale for years. “If he could have sold it to a developer for more money, he would already have done it,” one insisted, referring to the current owner.

Fraleigh emphasized that the district had to carefully lay out its rationale for the purchase, weighing whether it made more sense for the WCA to instead purchase the course. He offered an ominous warning unless communication was improved. “This is going to explode,” he said.

Supervisor Brian Ross then weighed in, saying there was no rush. “You guys are on mile 15 of a marathon and we’re on mile one,” he stated. He cautioned the residents present that the district’s desire for putting the property under contract was merely designed to give them time to investigate the possible purchase without undue pressure or competition from another potential buyer.

Addressing the concerns of Woodbay’s Ken Blair, who insisted it would be markedly unfair to owners on the golf course to change it to any other use, Ross added that he found it personally difficult to tell a golf course homeowner the property’s use would be changed. He added, however, that he had heard from other homeowners who would be equally assessed for the property, that they supported turning it into a park. “What do I tell them?” he asked.

Mills observed, “Less than ten percent of the community lives on the golf course.”

He added that if the district announced it was purchasing the golf course and maintaining it as a course simply to benefit the homes along it, the room could very well be filled the following month with residents opposed to footing the bill.

When Blair reemphasized that he bought his home many years ago specifically because it was on a golf course, Mills stated the district’s goal was to avoid the experience that golf course owners in Walden Lake in Polk County experienced. “They bought on golf course property. It failed,” Mills said. Saying those owners now lived adjacent to an overgrown, unmaintained mess, Mills said, “They’re screwed.”

Explaining his motivation in encouraging the board to investigate the course’s purchase, Ross stated, “I don’t want a bad outcome. I don’t want a bankruptcy there.” He added, “That’s not fair to those homeowners. That’s not fair to the community.”

Ross added, “I want to get it under contract,” stating that would allow the district to its research. At any time during the due diligence period, Ross added, the district could pull out of the deal having expended money only on its own legal counsel. “That is a good deal for the Westchase community.”

In recent years, the district has repeatedly approached the golf course manager to address falling maintenance standards along the rights of way and near Westchase’s residential properties. A repeated cause of concern had been the golf course’s previous management, its neglect of its ponds and its effect on nearby homeowners and the district. In recent months, supervisors have even expressed a willingness to approach the course and request a maintenance easement along course property lining Countryway and Linebaugh so that the area can be maintained to Westchase standards and not undermine them.

In recent discussions about the purchase, supervisors’ comments have made clear that, based on the course financials they have seen, the Westchase Golf Course has repeatedly lost money in recent years.

Closing discussion, CDD Chair Greg Chesney stated that while the district initially discussed turning the course into a linear park of trails, his exploration of costs associated with turning the golf club around and running it as compared to the expense of converting the course into parkland and maintaining that made him far less interested in the park idea. “It’s just a colossal expense,” he stated.

The conversation concluded when Mills announced the stenographer recording the meeting needed a break.

Marks requested that the next CDD meeting be scheduled after 5 p.m. to enable more folks who work to attend. While supervisors declined to change the traditional meeting start time, they did commit to holding discussion of the golf course issue toward the end of the February meeting, allowing those who arrive late from work to weigh in.

Supervisors may discuss the matter if they hold a yet-to-be determined workshop on Monday, Feb. 5, at the Maureen Gauzza Public Library on Countryway Boulevard at 4 p.m. During a workshop, however, they cannot take formal votes or actions. Thus, the next opportunity for supervisors to approve either a purchase contract or a letter of intent to purchase the golf course is at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 4 p.m. Due to expected larger attendance, the meeting venue has been switched to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center meeting room on Countryway Boulevard. All residents may attend.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Editor's note: Due to the length of the meeting and the significance of issues covered, this article represents WOW's coverage of only that part of the CDD meeting that addressed the golf course purchase. The balance of topics addressed at the Jan. 9 meeting appears in a separate article about the CDD meeting.

Posted Jan. 10, 2018

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Westchase CDD to Hold Jan. 9 Vote on Possible Purchase of Westchase Golf Course

At the Jan. 9 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD), the district’s five supervisors could make one of the most important and consequential decisions in the history of Westchase.

At that meeting, supervisors are expected to consider a vote on letter of intent to purchase the Westchase Golf Course for $4 million. Over the weekend, emails began flying in Westchase about the matter. WOW has closely followed the district’s negotiations with the owner since November. Appearing below, WOW attempts to answer significant questions about the potential purchase, the details surrounding it and the district’s motivation.

How am I hearing about this now? When did this all happen?

At the Westchase Community Development District’s (CDD’s) November meeting Supervisor Brian Ross stated he had heard the course was for sale. Supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Barbara Griffith opposed, to have Supervisor Greg Chesney reach out to the current owner, Nick Neubauer of Chicago, to explore the issue. WOW covered the matter in its CDD news coverage in the December WOW. Subsequently, both Chesney and Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo have worked closely on researching the matter, touring the grounds and negotiating a potential sale with its owner.

What are the details of the potential purchase?

The details won’t be finalized until the CDD Board votes to approve a letter of intent to purchase, which may occur at the Jan. 9 CDD meeting. That meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the WCA Office Building on Parley Drive. According to details shared by CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney, the purchase price is $4 million, considerably lower than the price Neubauer originally paid for the course. Mr. Neubauer has expressed an interest in holding the note for the purchase of the site, with payments to him spread out over approximately 13 years.

If the CDD votes for the letter of intent to purchase, is the purchase a done deal?

No, not by any measure. Here is an important thing to remember about the letter of intent to purchase: It simply secures the property from sale to another potential buyer while the district investigates whether it wishes to close on the property. Supervisors have requested a due diligence period of six months to make the final decision. During this due diligence period, depending upon community support and their further research of the property, the district can elect to abandon the purchase with no penalty to the district.

Why would the CDD be interested in buying a golf course?

As the popularity of the sport has shrunk in recent decades, hundreds of golf courses across the United States have closed, opening up many of them for housing and office developments. According to financial records provided by the owner to the district, the Westchase Golf Course is losing tens of thousands of dollars annually. Some CDD Supervisors are interested in exploring the acquisition of the course to protect it from development into additional homes, apartments and townhomes or commercial developments. Owning it would also resolve a constant headache in recent years: the proper maintenance of ponds that are owned by the district but which lie adjacent to Westchase homes and the proper maintenance of the golf course property along Westchase’s right of way, which have been in some supervisors’ view, below Westchase standards.

Are there other CDDs in the state that own golf courses?

Yes, Westchase District Manager Andy Mendenhall manages another CDD that recently purchased its golf course in order to keep it from being sold to another entity. CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney has studied that sale and has approached the company that that district hired to determine that golf course's potential for profitability. It is likely the Westchase district will use a similar agreement with the company to study the financial impact of the course's acquisition.

Would the WCA ever own it?

WCA President Ruben Collazo is a strong advocate for getting the course property under control by Westchase residents to prevent its development. He has stated that if the CDD doesn’t purchase it, the WCA certainly would consider doing so. There are pros and cons for ownership by each entity. WCA ownership would allow the club house and property to be closed to anyone who is not a WCA member. CDD ownership, however, would mean that no property taxes would have to be paid on the property, lowering its cost to homeowners although it may mean, like other parks owned by the CDD, that is it open to the public if it is ever used as a park.

If the CDD owned it, would it still be operated as a golf course?

That is a question whose answer may not be determined until after the letter of intent is approved or even after its purchase. In the short term, based on supervisors’ comments at their December workshop on parks, it is likely the district will continue operating it as a golf course. During that timeframe, the district will investigate what investments it would have to make to ensure the course operates profitably or at a smaller loss. The CDD would not manage the course; that would be left to a management company they would hire. If supervisors determined maintaining it as a course is not financially feasible, it would cease operating as a course.

If the district decides to stop using it as a golf course, what would it become?

Supervisors of the district have expressed no interest in developing the property or selling it to a developer. The only non-golf option they have discussed is the potential for turning portions of it into walking, biking and hiking trails and converting some greens back into forest or conservation lands. Every supervisor who has spoken on the matter has emphasized the importance of taking the concerns of homeowners who purchased properties adjacent to the course into consideration when determining the district’s long-term use of the property. The short discussions of converting it to trail use have emphasized the importance of protecting homeowners’ privacy.

Will my CDD assessments go up if the CDD purchases the course?

While the answer to that question depends upon the land’s future use, supervisors have noted two issues that should help minimize the purchase’s impact on Westchase homeowners’ CDD assessments. First, with the conclusion of the renovation of Westchase parks, the coming year will see approximately $370,000 in assessments that are not yet committed to any project. These funds could be applied to the purchase of the course or to new landscaping plans the district is currently entertaining. Second, between 2017-2018, CDD debt assessments for homeowners in The Fords, The Greens and The Bridges, representing almost half of Westchase homes, will come to an end, lowering CDD assessments by $600-$1,000 or more. Even if the district did purchase the golf course and had to increase its Operations and Maintenance Assessments to cover the purchase costs, these homes would still likely see an overall CDD assessment decrease.

Why hasn’t WOW covered this better?

WOW has actually closely followed the negotiations and Chesney and Collazo have regularly shared updates with WOW staff. Once WOW learned that significant negotiations for a letter of intent to purchase were underway it instituted its typical policy for handling CDD land purchases. It committed to placing a temporary news embargo on the matter to give the district time to negotiate a purchase. WOW did so with the provision that the letter of intent included a long enough due diligence period so that affected homeowners could respond and weigh in on the matter prior to the execution of the sale. WOW staff implemented the embargo to protect Westchase homeowners. When the Harbor Links VM circulated an email about the purchase this weekend, WOW informed supervisors that there was no point in continuing the news embargo.

WOW has used a news embargo when covering CDD acquisition of property in recent years because of a past incident. Approximately a decade ago, the CDD entered into negotiations with Westchase’s developer over the purchase of land at the southern tip of Montague Street in West Park Village for the developer’s asking price of $160,000. In its news coverage, WOW mentioned these negotiations. A Greens resident, reading WOW’s coverage, contacted the developer, purchased the parcel for the full price of $160,000 and then turned around and offered it to the CDD at a premium. The CDD declined to make the purchase. That land, originally considered for a CDD-owned community dog park, is now owned by a developer who has announced his intent to build townhomes.

WOW held off on publishing the Westchase Gold Course purchase news to ensure the district could conclude its negotiations in the most advantageous way for the community. With the embargo lifted, WOW will now provide information as it becomes available.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Davidsen Dancers Make Theatrical Debut

It began with an idea last year.

Take a Westchase middle school and give it a new opportunity and focus.

Thus, Davidsen Middle School became an attractor school for the arts, open to every middle schooler in Northwest Hillsborough who is interested in music, dance and art.

In December, Davidsen’s new experiment burst into creative reality.

Seventy-five seventh and eighth grade students from Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts presented their Winter Dance Showcase on Friday, Dec. 1 at Alonso High School’s Theater. Dance Director Julie V. Mac choreographed three dances for the showcase. “The dances highlighted what the students have been learning this semester. While some had taken dance in the past, it was the first time for many of them. I’m so proud of how hard they have worked and what they have accomplished in this first semester. I can’t wait to see how we grow in the future.”

Late last year Davidsen’s dance program enthusiastically greeted the completion of its new dance studio, featuring mirrored walls, a padded floor and two dressing rooms.

Yet the dance department at Davidsen is so new that Mac had to borrow costumes from Orange Grove Middle Magnet School. She is hoping to start a booster club at Davidsen to help the group with needs like costumes and backdrops. “Costumes are very important for dancers because they help the girls get into performance mode and add a professional element to the show. The right costume can help the dancer express the message of the dance. I’m hoping we’ll be able to form a booster group to help us build a costume closet and get dance uniforms for those who can’t afford them.”

In addition to the dance performances, attendees were able to bid on baskets created by each class. Each student brought in an item to include in the themed baskets. 

Dance classes at Davidsen follow a state curriculum for academics. All students learn about the history and cultural importance of dance as well as vocabulary and will have to take end of semester exams. In addition to the academic side of dance, students have four days of dance class, including ballet barre, ballet center and modern or jazz. Fridays are reserved for trying out different types of dance, including hip hop, salsa and African. One of Mac’s class periods is reserved for students with special needs.

The students’ next performance will be held at the end of the spring semester on May 7 at Alonso High School’s Theater.

This is the first year of the dance program. Davidsen was named an arts attractor school at the beginning of the school year. In addition to the new dance program, the school also added an addition art instructor. “Attractor programs such as the Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts provide additional specialized options for students,” said Hillsborough County Schools Marketing Support Advisor Joe Humphrey.

Humphrey added, “The Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts offers students a vast canvas for expression in visual, performing and practical arts. Students can study art, play in the band or orchestra, sing with the chorus, cook in culinary arts or build dance training into their daily schedule. Davidsen, located in the heart of Westchase, also offers a challenging curriculum including a variety of high school-credit classes.”

By Marcy Sanford; Cover Photo by James Broome Photography

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A New Year With New Goals

Welcome to a better and happier 2018!

December was great fun in Westchase and its surrounding neighborhoods. From the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Pre-Flight Parade for Santa on Dec. 9 in Westchase to the tree lighting in Highland Park and the fabulous home decorations in Mandolin Estates, our neighborhoods were filled with great holiday traditions.

WOW brings you our coverage of these great traditions and we ring in January with a New Year’s tradition of our own.

For many the New Year brings a moment of reflection about the coming year’s goals. Frequently this prompts some thought about improving health and fitness habits. This month, in a nod to greater health, WOW writer Marcy Sanford looks at some fun, new ways our readers can incorporate greater physical activity into their lives – including our youngest residents. In a toast to a new year filled with interesting, fun and new activities, we chose a particularly apt symbol – Davidsen Middle School’s first ever dance recital – to feature on our first cover of the new year.

This past year Davidsen Middle, located in The Bridges in Westchase, began its transition to an attractor school for the arts. This includes the construction of a new dance facility. The talented Dragon dancers made their stage premier on Friday, Dec. 1 at Alonso High School. Whether your child has interests in band, orchestra or dance – or even a high quality middle school’s standard curriculum – Davidsen hopes to be your school of choice in the new year. Speak to any family with a child at Davidsen Middle School. The Dragons are a proud, accepting, talented and accomplished family.

WOW also has new goals for the coming year. This month we welcome two new staff members to help bring those goals to reality. Stephanie Montini lives with her husband and children in Keswick Forest. She believes in Westchase and its northwest neighbors and believes in the power of effective, local news coverage – like residents find monthly in these pages. She’ll be handling WOW’s advertising sales and our new social media push into the new year.

WOW also welcomes longtime WOW contributor Karen Ring, who is expanding her role with WOW to assistant editor, with a special focus on our new WOW Northwest edition. Karen lives with her husband and two sons in The Bridges. Those familiar with Karen’s work know her to be witty, empathetic and passionate. Expanding Karen’s role will help ensure WOW’s expansion area gets the time, attention and care it deserves. If you live in Highland Park, Mandolin, Westchester, Westwood Lakes, Windsor Place or West Hampton and you know a person or story that WOW should feature, please reach out to Karen at wownw@westchasewow.com.

Please remember that WOW receives no financial support from your HOA or CDD. We entirely depend upon our advertising revenues to bring you high quality local news and fund our non-profit charitable endeavors. Please let our advertisers you see them in WOW and appreciate their support of your community.

Happy New Year!

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WCF Seeking Candidates for Tampa Bay Woman of the Year

The Westchase Charitable Foundation is looking for candidates for its Woman of the Year award.

And winning the title entails all the candidates to fundraise for a great cause.

The Eighth Annual Tampa Bay Woman of the Year fundraiser to support the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF) will take place on Friday, March 2, at the Sheltair jet hangar from 6:30–11:30 pm. The event will feature a “Jetsetter” theme and include live music, delicious food from some of the best local restaurants, complimentary drinks all night, free valet service, a tour of private jets, networking, an exclusive VIP lounge with special perks, a 50/50 raffle, silent and live auctions and more!

The WCF is currently seeking candidates to compete for the 2018 title.

What does it mean to be a candidate? Over a dozen women invite friends to attend the event, collect silent and live auction items, obtain in-kind donations, sell sponsorships, and host their own mini fundraisers over an eight-week period. The top four women to raise the most money and/or donations are announced live on stage in front of more than 400 attendees. The winner receives a featured billboard, a crown and sash, one year of free hair care, a convertible ride in the 2018 Westchase Christmas Parade, a celebratory dinner for eight, gift certificates and more. More important, each woman can say they had a small part in helping WCF raise funds to continue helping deserving families.

Any women interested in serving as a candidate should attend the Kickoff Event at Donatello’s on Thursday, Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

The WCF is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity that provides financial assistance to Tampa Bay families that have children battling a serious illness or that have faced 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. One hundred percent of WCF event proceeds go directly to helping families most in need.

Visit http://www.TampaBayWoman.org more details.

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

By Kimberly Wander

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Pet Complaints Common at WCA Manager’s Office

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and happy and safe New Year!

By now you should have received and paid your 2018 annual Westchase Community Association (WCA) assessment notice of $275, due Jan.1, 2018. If you have not yet done so, please be sure to mail your payment with the coupon to the address noted on the coupon no later than Jan. 31 in order to avoid additional fees. Feel free to drop off your payment (checks or money orders only) to our office. You can also make an online payment. If you need the information on how to do so, please contact our office and we can mail you the instructions. Also, if you have not received your notice, please contact our office immediately so we can print a duplicate statement for you.

As of November, our Village pool went into our winter part-time hours: Monday-Friday, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Occasionally we post our most common complaint sent to us by WCA residents. These last few months have pertained to dogs. We have gotten numerous complaints about owners walking their pets off leashes, with a rare occasion of a pet being aggressive towards another or towards a resident while being off the leash. Other complaints were made about pets being left outside to bark incessantly. The most common complaint has been about owners not picking up their pet’s waste off a neighbor’s property.  We ask each resident to please be aware of your pet’s actions and to please obey the law and our documents and pick up all pet waste. Community and county rules also prohibit cats from being left to roam the neighborhood.

And don’t forget our Movies in the Park. Our Jan. 12 showing of Moana on the Montague Street green could be a chilly, so don’t forget those blankets and that cup of hot chocolate or tea.

As always, we are here to serve Westchase residents. Please drop by our office or contact us at 926-6404 or through email at manager@wcamanager.com.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Radcliffe Enjoys Oktoberfest

Radcliffe residents enjoyed their annual block party hosted by Radcliffe Voting Member Eric Holt and his wife Tammy on Oct. 21.

A crowd of some 60 neighbors and perhaps 30 children took time to mingle, hoist ein Prosit, and snack on a real German-style spread.

Eric and Tammy provided the main victuals, featuring brats, potato salad, brotchen, sauerkraut, beer and soft drinks. Neighbors brought their own potluck to add to the spread, and everyone had plenty of great food.

Newcomers, original residents and anyone in between got to reacquaint themselves in a relaxed autumn afternoon.

The Holts have been hosting the block party for a number of years, and we, the loyal neighbors, salute their hospitality.

By Keith Heinemann

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Westchase Colts Win National Championship

On Friday, Dec. 8 the Westchase Colts JV football team brought home the big trophy.

The team won the national championship game against Connecticut’s West Haven Seahawks to become the Pop Warner D2 JV National Champions.

Head coach Kurt Wilder led the team.

“They have had a remarkable season to get to the national championship games,” said mom and team volunteer Heather Clute.

The Colts ended their regular season on Oct. 28 with a division title win against teams from across Tampa Bay. Also impressive, the team went the full regular season without being scored on by another team. They won all four games of the Southeast regional playoffs and had a 32-0 score for their final game.

“Westchase should be proud to have these kids representing our great area in a national championship game,” said Clute. “We have traveled all over the state representing Westchase over the past few months. Everyone asks, ‘Where is Westchase?’”

This is the first year the Westchase Colts have been a part of the Pop Warner division. Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. (PWLS) is a non-profit organization that provides youth football and cheer and dance programs for participants in several states and countries around the world. Consisting of approximately 325,000 young people ranging from ages 5 to 16 years old, Pop Warner is the largest youth football, cheer and dance program in the world.

Pop Warner was founded in 1929. It continues to grow and serve as the only youth football, cheerleading and dance organization that requires its participants to maintain academic standards in order to participate.

Westchase Colts Youth Football was founded in 2001 and now has more than 200 families as members. The Westchase Colts is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides an extensive youth tackle football and cheerleading program to children ages 5-14 across Tampa Bay. The program stresses learning lessons about self-discipline, teamwork, concentration, friendship, leadership and sportsmanship.

Registration is open for the Fall 2018 season. For more information, visit http://www.westchasecolts.com

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By Marcy Sanford

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GAC Update: Parking, Traffic and Power Outages

With the arrival of a new year, I offer an end-of-the-year report of GAC’s activities for 2017.

The Government Affairs Committee (GAC) of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) was involved in 16 projects during 2017. These included West Park restaurant noise, parking and traffic issues, a community clinic, low-income affordable housing, Glencliff and Westchase Swim Tennis Center crosswalk signals, and representation to the FDOT Transportation Working Group for Northwest Hillsborough County.

An interactive Transportation Forum was held in Westchase in November for our neighbors to voice their concerns and objections to proposed state and regional transportation systems.

I am pleased to report that construction on the Citrus Park Drive Extension will begin in January 2018 and Joe Odda continues to follow this project.

Two major issues consumed most of GAC’s activity: TECO and parking/traffic issues.

The GAC initiated dialogue with the county last year to develop a comprehensive Westchase traffic and parking study. I hope to view aerial photos within the next few weeks. Major concerns are delays to emergency vehicles because of vehicle obstruction. This is of paramount importance in West Park Village and the Woodbridge gated entrance, where overflow parking prevented vehicles from entering and leaving Woodbridge; and in Kingsford, whose residents are impacted by parking and speeding by Davidson Middle School parents. These are just the GACs’ beginning areas of concern.

As reported on the Westchase Neighborhood News Facebook page, WCA President Ruben Collazo and I met with TECO representatives to discuss Westchase power outages. The post-Irma power outage was due to debris knocking down wires and flooding of the substation. Special equipment was required and we had to wait for our turn (TECO triages power restoration sequences.). Ruben and I inquired about their priorities  and procedures and we found them to be reasonable. We further discussed ongoing power outages, including seconds-long power lapses. These normal minor outages are designed to prevent actual power outages due to overloads, peak times, etc. They result from a safety mechanism during which the system self-corrects. Longer power losses concern not only us but also TECO. TECO’s engineer explained that TECO is researching when, where, and how long these outages occur. I hope to have the study’s results soon.

We asked about connecting western parts of Keswick Forest, Glenfield and Woodbay to the Westchase grid. Due to the loss of power over longer distances and its negative impact on existing Westchase areas, a new substation would be needed for the connection and construction of a new substation is not economically feasible.

I remain in regular contact with TECO to work toward a satisfying and acceptable solution.

By Rick Goldstein, GAC Chair

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From the President, January 2018: WCA to Host Former Association Leader

A very special guest will come to visit us in January.

The Honorable Daryl M. Manning of the Hillsborough County Thirteenth Judicial Circuit will be presiding over the Voting Members’ (VMs) January meeting.

You might remember Daryl Manning as a former Westchase resident and former president of the Westchase Community Association. As a former Judge Advocate General, Daryl has adopted a new mission in life: helping veterans with legal problems navigate the judicial system in Hillsborough County. He will be speaking to the VMs and telling us all about this new mission, his successes and what life is like after the Westchase homeowner’s association. Daryl is a great leader and a fun guy. The meeting should be very interesting and fun too. Please make a note to attend the VM meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard.

If you haven’t yet paid your annual assessment, now would be a good time do so – because no one likes late fees or worse! Please make your payment while you’re thinking about it. I’ve written about this before and I think it’s worth repeating. Your HOA depends on you to keep things moving along by making a timely payment of your annual assessment. Fortunately for us we mail very few late notices to unpaid accounts. Even better, we have very few delinquencies, but it does happen. Be aware that in those cases that are late or even delinquent, I have seen legal costs, late fees, interest and penalties add up to hundreds and even multiple thousands of dollars.

My questions are: Really? Why?

Why would anyone allow a $275 annual assessment get away from them to the tune of several thousand dollars? It leaves me shaking my head in utter disbelief when it happens. As president it is my obligation to collect on those assessments. And trust me when I tell you that is pains me terribly when I have to pull the trigger on legal action, up to and including foreclosure. It is so unnecessary and so stressful on the parties involved. Including me! I get no joy out of doing that part of this volunteer job. So please don’t let this happen to you. Please mail your $275 payment on time.

Last, as we begin the New Year, we have a lot on our HOA plate. This includes potentially adopting a new metal roof guideline, planning a Veterans Day event, building a new Westchase mobile app and, of course, executing a charitable tennis event and perhaps even planning a charitable swim event.

It is going to be a busy year indeed and I’m really looking forward to it.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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Westchase Open Tennis Charity Exhibition Jan. 4

The Westchase Open Tennis Charity Exhibition, featuring an evening of tennis and charity, is Thursday, Jan. 4 from 7-9 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center.

The event benefits the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), which assists families experiencing a crisis, and consists of a fun weekend of tournament play for local youth and adults.

This special event will feature live tennis with top open level tennis players, food, beverages, a silent auction, raffle prizes and family fun. One hundred percent of proceeds from this exhibition will go to the WCF.

Whether you are a tennis enthusiast or someone looking for a fun event, we welcome you to join us! Admission to this event is included with all tournament player entry fees. A donation of $15 is suggested for additional guests and spectators. For more information, visit http://www.westchaseopen.com

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By Kristen DeAngelo

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Public Notice of Woodbay Guideline Change

At their Jan. 9 meeting, Westchase Voting Members will consider an amendment to rules governing Woodbay’s gutters and drainage.

The potential change only affects rules in Woodbay.

The guideline amendment, if approved, would permit rain chains as alternatives to downspouts within Woodbay.

In addition to standard gutters and downspouts defined in Residential Guidelines Section 2.1.25s, rain chains would be allowed in Woodbay only as follows:

  1.  All Rain Chains must be tied into gutters and extend to the ground and secured at the bottom.
  2.  Rain Chains must not cause flooding or erosion to neighbor's yard as outlined in Section 2.1.25 Gutters and Drainage of the Westchase Residential Guidelines.
  3.  Rain Chains are limited to four in front of the house.
  4.  Rain Chains must be made of copper or aluminum.
  5.  Various designs and styles may be allowed by the Modification Committee .

The intent of this amendment is to add an additional option to the standard downspouts.

Once approved by its subassociation or a majority of its neighborhood’s residents, each guideline change has to be considered and approved by a supermajority of VMs at two meetings. It will be considered for the first time on Jan 9.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Westchase Street Parking Enforcement Temporarily Suspended

In a nod to the holidays, Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo announced today that the association’s enforcement of a ban on street parking will be temporarily suspended.

The street parking ban, which exists in all WCA neighborhoods outside of West Park Village, will not be enforced from Friday, Dec. 22 through (and including) Friday, Jan. 5.

“We’re doing it because of all the kids coming home from school, all the holiday parties and all the gatherings,” said Collazo.

Enforcement of the no-street parking rule will resume on Jan. 6.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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VMs Learn of Coming Traffic Delays at Sheldon Road Intersection

The Dec. 12 Voting Members (VMs) meeting began with Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chairman Rick Goldstein introducing county representatives.

County staff detailed the upcoming River Oaks Wastewater Diversion Project, which will impact Westchase’s eastern entrance this summer. The goal of the project is to retire two outdated wastewater treatment plants, expand the Northwest Regional Water facility and reroute sewage flow. Staff announced its new route will go up Sheldon Road through Linebaugh’s intersection, and construction of the line will impact traffic.

Goldstein asked “We already have traffic problems on Linebaugh. Now this will cause additional problems. How much longer will the Linebaugh [reclaimed water] project be?”

Project Control Manager Bill Harrington answered, “It will finish before we start this project.”

Harrington stated they were targeting a summer start and detailed the project's impact on the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection, projected to last from May through September. Several VMs complained about the issues that will arise at the very busy intersection of Linebaugh and Sheldon. While work will occur at that intersection over the five month period, Harrington stated the most disruptive time period will last 35 days when the left hand turn lane on Linebaugh Avenue will be closed for the work. To compensate, the eastbound lanes will be reconfigured to still permit left turn lanes. The current left lane for through traffic will be turned into a  left turn lane. Meanwhile the dedicated right hand turn lane will be converted into an additional through lane to compensate for the loss of the left lane. Residents will still be able to make left and right turns, although traffic may see greater disruption because the right most lane will be shared by through traffic and drivers turning right onto southbound Sheldon Road.

When VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) inquired if work could be done at night, Harrington replied “If we do it at night, the risk goes up and we don’t get more production.”
More information about the project can be found online at hcflgov.net/WWC.

Addressing power outages in western villages, Goldstein announced WCA President Ruben Collazo and he met with TECO representatives. Goldstein said that TECO explained that Hurricane Irma produced a lot of debris that knocked down power lines and they could not easily access the substation due to flooding. Goldstein reported that TECO is currently researching the outages to pinpoint their location and frequency.

VM Brian Loudermilk (Keswick Forest), whose residents are now experiencing outages, asked how many homes were impacted and how much it would cost to put his village on a different grid. Goldstein said that he is actively working with TECO on the items and that they are sending a representative to the February VM meeting.

Collazo then presented Joe Odda with the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award. Collazo noted that Odda had spearheaded the Northwest dog park project, led the street paving effort and volunteered for a number of Westchase roles, including board member, VM and GAC chair.

Touting others’ support in writing emails to support the projects, Odda accepted the award saying, “I have so many people to thank so I accept this award for them as well as myself.” He added, “My successor, Rick Goldstein, is an extraordinary leader. I also appreciate Ruben Collazo for his leadership. Thank you.”

In October Director Brian Ross, Chair of the Variance Committee, had brought up suggested changes to committee rules. During that meeting, VMs voted to ask the board and legal counsel to review the proposed changes before VMs considered them. Ross stated at least one proposed change sought to address an increasing tendency of homeowners to undertake expensive projects without association approval and then seek relief from the Variance Committee when they are found in violation. Ross explained that he had consulted with CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart, who suggested the committee needed to be consulting with an engineer or a landscape architect for some projects. He added two more homeowners were now seeking variances for non-permitted projects on the sides of homes.

Goldstein commented, “In this case, we have incurred thousands of dollars in legal fees.”

In response to the continued violations, many VMs voiced concerns about deterrents for not following the process. Other questioned why homeowners would not follow rules and regulations that they agreed to when moving into Westchase.

After much more discussion, VMs voted to approve Ross’ proposed amendment, which sought to allow the Variance Committee to suggest an acceptable alternative to disallowed projects with the consultation of a technical expert (rather than have the owner pass through the modifications process a second time). VMs, however, voted to reject the second proposed change, which would have barred the homeowner from attempting to go to the Variance Committee after they were already found in violation of community rules. VMs felt that the committee should follow the existing process.

In closing the meeting, Collazo said that there were already two volunteers for the Metal Roof Guideline Committee, but they wanted at least one more. He added there is also an opening on the Covenants Committee. Interested residents can contact the association manager at 926-6404 or manager@wcamanager.com.

VMs adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Editor's note: The original version of this article described the impact of the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection work as lasting 30 days. County staff subsequently reached out to WOW to state this was inaccurate. The county stated that the intersection will see impacts from the construction of the sewage line from May through September. WOW regrets the error.

Posted Dec. 14, 2017; corrected Dec. 15, 2017

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WOW’s 2017 Holiday Decorating Contest Winners Light Up the Night

Cool temperatures swept into the bay area just in time!

It felt a lot more like Christmas as judges took to streets Dec. 9-10 to determine the winners of the annual WOW Holiday Decorating Contest. With an expanded territory to include the readers of the the WOW NW issue, their task this year was even greater.

The Westchase individual home winners saw last year’s winners jockeying for different positions. Having taken second place in 2015 and 2016, Summer Sanacore of 10451 Green Links Dr. in Village Green literally jumped for joy upon hearing the news of her family’s first place win this year. Her Classic Holiday Movies theme featured nostalgic window displays stuffed with items from movies, including Polar Express, Elf and Rudolph. She was even able to track down a fishnet tight covered leg lamp and pink bunny suit as seen in the movie A Christmas Story. “Watching these movies are part of a lot of families’ traditions so I wanted to go with that this year,” she explained.

Second place for 2017 went to Daniel Good and Robert Franceskino of 12428 Bristol Commons Cir. Their display included Santa and his reindeer, one more than he had last year, atop the roof. The lawn display included handmade decorations, toy soldiers lining the sidewalk and plenty of lights. Their efforts to include their neighbors also won Westchase Best Neighborhood Winner for Bristol Commons Cir. in Woodbay. Stringing lights from tree to tree and crossing the strands back and forth over the road was not an easy task. Neighbors pitched in with extension cords to help power the display. “Every house on the street decorated this year and it’s so much fun to see everyone else really get into the spirit of holiday,” Good said.

Third place went to the Moyer family of 10002 New Parke Road in West Park Village. Their “Believe” theme featured a huge handmade wooden sleigh, a dancing Santa on the second-floor balcony and post box for letters to Santa. “The concern now is where am I going to put this sleigh?” said dad Jeff of the massive display. “If anyone needs a sleigh ride in June, just let me know,” he added with a chuckle.

The WOW Northwest contest included stiff competition this year as well. The Mauldin family of 11305 Minaret Dr. in Mandolin Estates took First Place. “It’s all Jeff,” said Heather of her husband’s effort in producing the massive light display adorning their home. Viewing the home from the street, finding anything on the house or lawn that did not have a light attached to it was a challenge. Their display was also part of the reason Mandolin Estates took NW Best Neighborhood Winner award. The homes at 11305, 11307 and 11309 Minaret Dr. together prompted the judges to deem the united display neighborhood winner worthy.

Pablo Smith of 11307 Minaret Dr. explained the guys had to go up in a bucket truck this year to cover the trees and hang the enormous lighted ornaments from the high tree branches. His garage houses the hub and controls for all the extension cords and synchronized music set to the twinkling lights that the combined display features.

Second place winners, Dean Blair and Kwang-Sun Cho Blair, were thrilled with their second-place win! Their home at 11633 Renaissance View Ct. featured a spectacular show of lights as well. “The blue lights along the roofline are a tribute to our Jewish friends because we wanted to include everyone,” he said.

Third place went to the LoRusso family at 12021 Mountbatten Dr. of Westchester inside Newcastle. Their lawn decorations were all handmade wooden structures, including candy canes, wreaths, trees and a snowman. “It’s all built from scratch and he takes great pride in his decorations,” Legina said of her husband Philip.

Congratulations to all our winners and the honorable mentions!

Westchase Individual Home Winners

First Place: 10451 Green Links Dr. (Village Green)
Second Place: 12428 Bristol Commons Circle (Woodbay)
Third Place: 10002 New Parke Rd. (West Park Village)

Westchase Individual Home Honorable Mentions
10315 Seabridge Way (The Bridges)
9946 Stockbridge Dr. (The Bridges)
10740 Chelmsford Dr. (The Fords)
12014 Wandsworth Dr. (Radcliffe)
10719 Ayrshire Dr. (The Shires)
10743 Ayrshire Dr. (The Shires)
10709 Sierra Vista Pl. (The VineyardS0
10016 Seymour Way (West Park Village)
12421 Bristol Commons Circle (Woodbay)

Westchase Best Neighborhood Winner
Bristol Commons Circle in Woodbay

Westchase Best Neighborhood Honorable Mention
Seymour Way in West Park Village

WOW NW Individual Home Winners

First Place: 11305 Minaret Drive (Mandolin Estates)
Second Place: 11633 Renaissance View Ct. (Mandolin Estates)
Third Place: 12021 Mountbatten Dr. (Westchester inside the Newcastle entrance)

WOW NW Individual Home Winners Honorable Mention
14621 Galt Lake Drive (Highland Park)

NW Best Neighborhood Winner
Mandolin Estates (11305, 11307, 11309 Minaret Dr.)

By Lisa Stephens; Home photos by James Broome Photography

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Finding the Right Fit for Fitness in 2018

Losing weight and eating better are among the most popular New Year’s Resolutions made every year.

Unfortunately, many of us – up to 92 percent according to some polls – have forgotten about those good intentions by February. According to Fords resident Mary Anne Kirsch, Group Exercise Coordinator for the Northwest and West Park Village YMCAs, the best path to success will be different for every person.

One key, however, is true for many: if you find an activity that you enjoy, you are more likely to stick to it.

“If you hate gyms, don’t join a gym,” said Kirsch. “Try hiking or biking or join a run club. If you need someone to be accountable to, maybe joining a gym or hiring a trainer would work best. Find something you love do.”

Fortunately, plenty of options exist for all ages right here in the Westchase area. What are some exercise options that might prove a good fit?

Over the past few years the number of boutique workout studios in the area has blossomed. Now you can easily find a class that meets your interests, whether it’s yoga, Pilates, cycling, jazzercise, boot camp, boxing, barre or martial arts. Drive down Racetrack Road and you’ll see several studios devoted to personal or small group training. Most will allow you to take one free class so you can try it out. Sometimes you can find package discounts on Groupon or Social Living sites.

The Northwest and West Park Village YMCAs offer many different classes throughout the week as well as personal training and cardio and weight machines. Kirsch recommends that if you join any gym, you ask for an orientation. “Many people are intimidated when they walk into a gym. Ask for help and make sure you get an orientation for the equipment so you are not afraid.”

Some of the newer classes at the Y include Piyo, a combination of Pilates and yoga, Cize Live, a dance class, and Insanity, cardio and plyometric drills combined with strength, power, resistance and core training. They also have small TRX classes, developed by a former marine. The suspension training equipment used in the class allows you to use your body weight to create resistance and is good for your core, balance and stability. 

The Westchase Rec Center offers classes for all ages throughout the week. All are less than $10 and some are free. They have a walking club that meets daily, a small group fitness class just for women, adult open gym basketball, badminton, pickleball and zumba.

Additional the Rec Center has a very active senior program. One of the newest offerings for seniors is ballroom dancing. “Our seniors requested it and we found two volunteers who teach every Monday at 10 a.m.,” said Recreation Program Supervisor Dona Smith. “You don’t need a partner and you don’t have to have any experience.”

Smith said the program started in November and that they already have about 15 regular participants. In addition to ballroom dancing, the Rec Center offers stretch and tone and aerobics light classes for people 50 years and older. Smith says they will be adding chair yoga this year.

The local YMCAs also have popular senior programs. In addition to monthly social gatherings, they offer water aerobics, stretching and ab, intro to zumba and yoga classes geared specifically for seniors.

If the gym or rec center is not for you, you might want to try taking a hike or riding your bike. Both are exercises that all ages can enjoy. There are plenty of sidewalks and bike lanes around Westchase if you just want to start from your front door. If you’re willing to travel a bit, there are plenty of great hiking and biking trails around the Tampa area.

Bridges resident Monika Cassidy, who competes in and trains others for triathlons, says that the Suncoast, Upper Tampa Bay and Courtney Campbell trails are among her favorite area bike trails. “You can do a 100-mile ride on the Suncoast Trail, the Upper Tampa Bay is good for shorter rides and Courtney Campbell is 16 miles from Ben Davis Park to Clearwater,” she pointed out.

Many of the trails have stops along the way where you can use the restroom or refill your water bottle.

Hillsborough County has more than 100 recreational parks and hundreds of miles of hiking trails. For the second year in a row, the county is promoting its Hiking Spree program to encourage residents to go hiking. One of last year’s participants, Claire Brantley, credits the program with helping her to lose weight and finally introducing her to exercise she enjoys. “I needed to lose weight. I had been successful with the Weight Watchers program in the past but have never combined exercise with the program because I’ve never enjoyed exercise,” she said. “I am klutzy, have never found a sport I enjoyed playing and would rather be reading than working out. But a friend took me on my first hike last year and I loved it.”

Through March 31, people who register with the program and hike any eight of 19 designated trails will receive a medallion to put on their hiking stick or an Access Hiker patch.  All the hikes are ranked by level of difficulty, making it easy to choose one that works for you.

Once you’ve found an exercise you love, you may want to motivate your child to do so as well. If your teenager is not interested in sports, it might seem like an uphill battle to get them interested in working out, but Kirsch says the Y offers options for tweens and teens.  The age limit varies for each class but at the West Park Village Y children 8 years and older can walk on the treadmill after they’ve attended a youth fitness orientation, provided their parent is on the one next to them. Teens 15 and older can use free weights.

The Rec Center also offers clinics and classes for children of all ages who are interested in a specific sport as well as open gym time. Lori Goede, co-owner of Westchase Jazzercise says they have had children as young as 11 attend class with their moms. Green Locus Yoga offers a weekly yoga class for tweens.

Think creatively to get those kids moving. Davidsen Middle School now offers dance classes as part of the curriculum, no experience required. You can’t beat – or avoid – exercise built right into the school day.

Just find an activity you love.

That’s the key to finding your right fit for fitness in the New Year.

By Marcy Sanford

2018 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.

Advanced Chiropractic & Rehabilitation
(813) 925-1700
http://www.AdvancedCenters.com
Excellence in family chiropractic treatment with on-site massage therapy and physiotherapy. In-network with most insurance companies. Auto accident treatment relief.

Centra Care - Florida Hospital Urgent 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.

Essentials Massage & Facials
(813) 475-6996
We currently have 28 locations throughout Florida and Essentials continuously has repeat business from clients due to our spa experience, service, ambience, and our incredible prices.

The Eye Institute of West Florida
(813) 518-6038
http://www.EyeSpecialist.com
The Eye Institute of West Florida is a multi-specialty ophthalmic practice offering surgical and non-surgical vision care for every eye disease with six locations serving Tampa Bay.

Florida Hospital Carrollwood – Surgical Services
(813) 932-2222
http://www.FHCarrollwood.org
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.

Florida Hospital Physician Group
(844) DOC-2DAY
http://www.FHPhysicianGroup.com
With nearly 200 providers, in over 60 locations, representing more than 30 medical specialties, we provide a broad range of primary care, specialty and surgical expertise to help our patients live healthier and happier lives.

Internal Medicine & Pediatrics of Tampa Bay
(813) 961-2222
http://www.MyTampaDoc.com
Offering acute care and preventative healthcare for all ages. Our doctors and nurse practitioner are all board certified or eligible.

The Oasis at Tampa Community Hospital
(Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center)
(813) 933-3869
Tampa Community Hospital is one of the few hospital-based, medically supervised detox units in the country. We treat addiction as a disease not as a weakness. Please call for more information.

Pam Velez – Yoga
(813) 362-6909
Curious about yoga?  No flexibility required.  Get stronger, reduce stress and gain flexibility with private yoga lessons customized to work with your injuries and limitations.

StretchRX
(813) 382-2363
http://www.StretchRxFlorida.com
Stretch Rx offers Therapeutic Stretching, Exercise and Massage. Customized sessions can help people decrease pain, increase flexibility, improve posture, tone muscles and lose weight.

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CDD Board Hears Road Preservation Pitch

The Dec. 5 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw a presentation on road preservation.

At the session, supervisors also addressed Glencliff Park playground repairs and considered an inquiry from Woodbridge HOA about the district’s willingness to take ownership of its gates and roads.

The meeting opened with a presentation by Lenn Morse of Whittaker Construction Company. Morse pitched the application of sealer on roads offered by the district as a way of prolonging their lifespans. Many of the district’s roads, consisting of West Park Village alleys and roads tucked behind gates, have been repaved in recent years. CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart encouraged supervisors to consider hiring the company to apply the material. Both Morse and Stewart stated a management plan to shut down the roads to allow them to be resealed would have to be worked out and effectively communicated to residents. Rather than bid out the project, Stewart stated supervisors could explore piggy-backing on an existing bid won by the company for work in Orlando, bringing the price for the Westchase work to $295,000, which would be paid for out of road reserves. She recommended the project, however, be completed sometime between January and May, to avoid the rainy season.

Returning to a topic the district has discussed for months, Stewart stated she was still working with Betty Valenti of M/I Homes, who built the West Lake Townhomes development across the lake from north side of Stonebridge and east side of Sturbridge. Stewart stated the townhome board had approved the property transfer of the lake to the district, which has, in the past, flooded Stonebridge and prompted privacy concerns from its residents about folks accessing the area through West Lake Townhomes and fishing. She stated the developer was eager to transfer the lake and surrounding land to the CDD before turning control of the townhome board over to its residents.

Prior to transfer, Supervisor Ross requested that the developer write restrictions into the townhome HOA documents limiting its residents’ access to and recreational use of the lake.

Supervisor Barbara Griffith, however, questioned why the district was so eager to limit the residents’ use of the lake and even acquire its ownership. “I kind of get the theme we have to  own everything.”

Field Supervisor Doug Mays responded that owning the lake was the only effective way the district could control its outflow structures and water levels to prevent flooding.

“We’re so afraid of what might happen,” Griffiths countered. When she added she didn’t understand why the district would buy the lake, supervisors corrected her and stated M/I Homes was not selling the parcel to the district but transferring the lake ownership so that it was not responsible for its maintenance.

“I’m absolutely convinced it’s in the best interest of the Westchase community to get control of it,” concluded Supervisor Brian Ross.

Stewart then updated supervisors on her efforts to build comprehensive print and digital maps of Westchase and the district’s property and encouraged supervisors to ensure that best management practices for the maintenance of pond banks, essential to reducing erosion, be incorporated into the landscaping and pond contracts to ensure contractors observe them.

Making her report, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she had reviewed the contract for the Glencliff Park renovation and concluded its two-year warranty provided a legal basis for the the district to send a demand letter to the contractor to address the peeling rubber surface around the merry-go-round feature.

Echoing advice he gave at November’s meeting, Supervisor Brian Ross suggested that, rather than dealing with the recalcitrant subcontractor who is refusing to honor the warranty, staff reach out to Dynamo, the Canadian company who undertook the contract and hired the subcontractor.

Supervisors then briefly addressed plans to replace West Park Village’s street signs and traffic signs, which no longer meet county or state codes. Supervisor Brian Ross district staff if they were motivated to make the change more for esthetic or safety reasons. When Office Manager Sonny Whyte responded it was for greater safety, Ross responded, “If we think there is a safety issue, I’d really like to hear quite a sense of urgency.”

In response, staff stated they would meet with the county engineer to determine how much of the signage the county would be willing to cover (Hillsborough County’s standard signage is far simpler and less expensive than West Park’s decorative signage.) Once Whyte has final numbers, staff can determine whether the project would require bidding based on state thresholds.

“Why wouldn’t we want to go out and bid it?” asked McCormick.

“I would be in favor of that,” added Supervisor Griffith.

Supervisors then touched on the ability of the district to also assess the West Park Village Apartment complex, whose residents depend on the signage, as well as West Park residents for their estimated $200,000-$250,000 replacement cost. McCormick observed that she saw no legal obstacle to doing so.

Supervisor Griffith then raised a few issues. She stated she had investigated the continuation of the sidewalk or a mulched path on the west side of Montague Street from its current end at Westchase Drive to the Linebaugh intersection. Supervisor Chesney cautioned that the district had planted the area with a number of trees and hedges to encourage students walking from Davidsen to use the school district’s designated crosswalk rather than walk down the grassy stretch. “We’d essentially be undoing what we did,” he said, adding it was done to keep kids on the sidewalk and prevent them from darting into traffic.

Citing her inability to get a crossing guard for middle school students at Westchase Drive, Griffith also suggested the district might consider a speed bump on Montague Street to slow traffic down. “I’m committed to getting mobility in Westchase to be safe,” she said.

Chesney cautioned that putting a speed bump on Montague Street would likely prompt strong resident opposition.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte assured Griffith that she would speak to the county the next day to explore the extension of a safe path. 

Supervisor Chesney then inquired about whether McCormick found a requirement that the Westchase Town Center along Linebaugh had a requirement to provide a continuous sidewalk along its front. Its current sidewalk is used as outdoor seating for a number of restaurants along the commercial strip.

McCormick, however, stated the requirement for the sidewalk could only be enforced by the now defunct Westchase Commercial Association. She added that due to limitations on the district’s easement along the Linebaugh right of way, which was limited to wall building and maintenance, if the community wanted a continuous sidewalk on the south side of Linebaugh Avenue from West Park Village to Sheldon Drive, the next step would be to figure out a proper alignment to avoid wetlands and have the Westchase Community Association’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) advocate for its installation by the county.

Office Manager Sonny Whyte then stated she had been approached by a representatives of the Woodbridge homeowners association, who asked whether the district was open to being transferred ownership of that gated neighborhood’s gates and roads for the districts to maintain and assess Woodbridge residents for. Supervisors expressed a willingness if Woodbridge residents supported the transfer.

Closing the meeting, Supervisor Griffith asked if the district could construct a shed at Glencliff Park in which to store the soccer goals to improve their appearance over the current practice of chaining them to a tree. Field Supervisor Mays, stated, however, the structure would have to be quite large to fit the goals.

A volunteer coach with the Westchase Soccer Association (as is Griffith), Supervisor Lewis cautioned that the goals were quite heavy. “You don’t want to carry it too far.”

“They’re an eyesore,” Griffith said. “They’re just an eyesore.”

Griffith also inquired whether the district could provide more permanent shade structures for parents using the field but Mays cautioned that a previous plan to shade the existing bleachers prompted significant opposition from Glencliff residents. He did, however, commit to exploring possible shade options for the other side of the field.

Supervisor Ross requested that staff also reach out to Glencliff’s voting member to give the neighborhood notice about the proposal.

Supervisor Matt Lewis concluded the meeting by requesting that staff explore the possible addition of a slide to Glencliff Park. Stating there was room within the playground for a small slide for younger children, Mays responded, “It’s doable.”

In other matters:

Supervisors gave their blessing to putting up some holiday decorations on The Enclave’s gate and entrance. Owned by The Enclave’s HOA, the district has historically left its decoration to that community, but CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated the community’s property manager was out on medical leave.

Supervisor Matt Lewis asked CDD staff to inquire with the county about the possible installation of blinking lights that are activated by residents wishing to use the crosswalk on Countrway Boulevard between Keswick Forest and The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center.

CDD Dec. 4 Parks Workshop

Westchase Community Development District Supervisors met for a workshop at the Maureen Gauzza Public Library on Monday, Dec. 4, where they tackled a number of topics related to parks.

At a workshop, supervisors can hold discussions but cannot vote on motions or make official decisions.

Among other matters, supervisors addressed West Park Village resident George Doster’s proposal to turn a portion of the West Park Village Town Center green on Montague street into a small, fenced dog run or dog park. CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney stated that Jordan Petras, manager of the West Park Village Apartments and commercial area, had conveyed to the district the preference that the area not be converted to a dog park.

While supervisors took no formal vote, the conversation suggested the idea lacked supervisor support for that location. Supervisor Barbara Griffith, however, expressed support for shifting the location to an area under TECO’s high voltage wires adjacent to the parking lot for the David Weekley Townhome development, just south of Fifth Third Bank. Griffith stated she had received tentative support for the idea from the property owner, Alan Charon of Real Property Specialists. Supervisors encouraged Doster to inquire with TECO about its willingness to allow a dog park on the area, with some suggesting the location no longer made it a CDD matter. Other supervisors suggested the district might hammer out a use agreement with Charon.

Supervisors also discussed the development of a landscaping plan to redesign and replant Westchase’s neighborhood entrances with Field Manager Doug Mays and Neal Stralow of Stantec, the district’s engineering firm. Stralow committed to developing some CAD drawings and recommendations with the assistance of Mays, who estimated that landscaping could be redone for between $1,000-$3,000 at each subdivision entrance.

Supervisors closed with a brief discussion of the planned replacement of street signage in West Park Village.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 11, 2017

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Are You Complicating Your Child’s College Transition?

With winter on its way college students only have one thing on their mind:

It’s generally: “When will this semester be over?”

Despite long nights in the library, many underclassmen find themselves reflecting on the past three months and realizing how their parents’ responses to their college transition this fall or even last year complicated their college experience.

While college is one of the most difficult and enjoyable times in a young adult’s life, students face challenges adapting to living on their own away from their family for the first time. The struggles they encounter can help them grow into adults. If not correctly handled, however, the transition can trigger distance among student and parent.

Transitioning to being a college student is difficult. It isn’t just about learning to be responsible; it’s about learning who you are without the guidance of parents.

This is no easy task, and can become especially difficult with parents interfering in students’ day to day life. Parental interference in the college transition is unavoidable, and can sometimes even be positive. There are, however, some transitional mistakes that Westchase college students found particularly straining on both their collegiate and home lives.

Parents and students are regularly told that going home too often is a mistake.

Going home is said to create a toxic cycle in which you either end up getting homesick each time you return, or you never quite find your place at school because you’re consistently at home.

Going home conditions a student to rely on parents and high school friends rather than committing to college life. Parents who are eager to prepare their child for everything don’t necessarily help.

“Having parents who prepare you for college is good, but at a certain point you realize they can’t prepare you for everything,” said Virginia Howell, a University of Florida freshman and Bennington resident.

The issue with going home too often is that it makes parents feel like they can and should do everything for their college student. Simultaneously, students are caught between one world in which they must fend for themselves, and another in which they’re taken care of.

Going home means that mom and dad cook meals, do your laundry, and buy you groceries for back at school. Or they at least have the opportunity to do so, making the student less likely to learn for themselves.

Another common mistake for parents is micromanaging. Even when they aren’t there to monitor their child’s every move, some call and text obsessively to find out.

“Many parents don’t think their kids are capable of managing themselves on their own. They call or text to remind you to do the smallest things,” Brett Steinfeld a UF sophomore and resident of The Fords said. “My mom even called me a couple times last year to remind me to eat.”

While parents have the best interest in these scenarios, students grow quickly annoyed with frequent phone and text reminders. It’s a sign to back off and let the student grow in independence.

Choosing and sticking with a major is one of the biggest challenges college students face, especially when feeling pressure from a parent to stick with something about which they’re not passionate.

“I felt a lot of pressure to stay in a major I didn’t really enjoy because my parents confused the stress associated with that major with being overwhelmed by the whole college transition. They thought that things would get better with time,” Lindsay Peterson, a Georgia Tech sophomore and Greens resident said.

Luckily, these kinds of issues often resolve with time and communication.

“Now that I’ve changed to a degree path I’m more passionate about, I see positive changes in my college life and relationship with my family,” Peterson said.

Although some parental college mistakes are larger, even small assumptions can end up being false.

For instance, most parents and students imagine college dorms to be shoeboxes with hardly enough space for one person, let alone two. Contrary to popular belief, spacious dorm rooms aren’t completely unheard of.

“When I was packing for college I remember my mom telling me not to pack too many clothes. She told me not to bring anything I didn’t need since we assumed I’d have a tiny closet. But when I moved into Springs (a UF dorm), I ended up having a huge closet and even brought clothes back from home to fill up the empty space,” Kristen Gajewski a UF freshman and Harbor Links resident said.

While many students feel their parents made mistakes in the college transition, overall most feel the transition was successful.

“Honestly my mom supported me in getting prepared for college, and although the transition wasn’t easy last year, I think that any tension we may have had then is gone now,” Olivia Granaiola a UF sophomore and Fords resident said.

During the transition to college life, it’s important for parents to keep in mind that mistakes will happen.

Nevertheless, supporting your child through these challenges will decrease tension and make for a happier and more successful college student.

By Julia Andreson

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

Yes, automated cars can do amazing things, but can they perpendicular park?

The editor doubts it.

That’s why you need to hire Wild Milly’s Driving School (page 64 of November’s WOW) for your new teen driver.

Call Milly now before learning to drive a car goes the way of Morse Code.

Milly was inspired by the editor’s mother, who recently ripped another side view mirror off her Honda. (She’ll probably just duct-tape that one back on too.) Mama is, however, an accomplished perpendicular parker and dismissive hand gesturer.

Alas, in the celebrated history of the Fake Ad Contest, Milly represents the second fake ad for driving lessons. Five years ago, right after the conclusion of the third season of Downtown Abbey, the editor ran a fake ad for the Matthew Crawley School of Driving.

He still has neighbors who won’t speak to him after that one.

Meanwhile, because Woodbay resident Debbey Pittinger’s correct fake ad guess was randomly selected by the fake ad gods, Debbey will be carefully driving over to dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

Get your December guesses in today, fake ad fans!

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 winner each month.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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