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

WCA Board Votes to Replace Pool Chairs; Ties on Resident’s Fine Appeal

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors heard requests from two residents during the open forum of the August meeting.

The first, a resident of The Vineyards, told board members that she had lived in the neighborhood for 17 years and had just recently received a violation notice because her air conditioning unit was not shielded on all sides although her landscaping around it had always been the same. She pointed out that the unit could not be seen from the street only if someone parked and walked down the sidewalk between the houses. She said that her AC company had told her she needed to keep one side open, so they could access it for repairs and because it was not healthy for it to be covered on all sides. She pointed out that because of the layout of the neighborhood that the guideline should be amended using common sense. Board President Ruben Collazo said that the Voting Members (VMs) were the group who could change guidelines, not the board, and that he would ask them to look at it. He also told her he would ask the documents review committee to contact her.

Shires Resident Eric Pogue, who was instrumental in organizing last winter’s Westchase Open Tennis Tournament, said he wanted to petition the board to use the tennis courts for another tournament. Collazo said that since it was not an agenda item, the board could not discuss it, but that Pogue could have two minutes to talk about the tournament. Pogue said that the tournament had raised more than $15,000 for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), which provides financial help to families who are facing financial difficulty due to a family illness or tragedy. He said that he had trademarked the name of the tournament so that the money would always go to the WCF but that he believed there were some hard feelings on the board because of that. He stated he still hoped that the board would consider letting the tournament use the tennis courts for the event. Bridges Resident Patrick Duffy told the board that he had participated in and donated his services to the tournament and that it, “represented the best of what Westchase is,” and that he hoped they would be able to do it again.

A representative from Dwight Darby & Company, the association’s accounting firm, presented the board with a review of the 2017 draft audit. She said that the association was doing a good job and that since WOW was no longer consolidated, the WOW did not need an audit along with the WCA. Board Secretary and WOW liaison Keith Heinemann asked if WOW had retained the firm’s services and was told that no, the magazine did not have to have an audit at all.

Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover’s requests to use $7,997 from the vending machines’ reserve funds (the machines are no longer owned by the WCA) to help pay to replace the metal roof at the West Park Village pool cabana was approved by all board members as was his motion to fully fund the increased deductible for geothermal equipment and $18,000 to replace deck chairs at both pools.

A fine appeal from residents of Chelmsford was tabled until next month because board members could not reach an agreement. Baumhover told board members that he was friends with the residents and that when they first received the violation notice, they came to him asking for advice about what they should do. He said he walked them through how to fix everything but that when the correspondence from the association came, one of the owners was in the hospital and that was why everything was not taking care of in a timely manner. He added that every violation was now corrected and he made a motion to waive their fine. Director Joaquin Arrillaga, however, said, “in the past we have reduced the fine by 90 percent. Everyone has hardships and reasons, but if we go this way, it could be looked at as us discriminating against others.”

Arrillaga made a substitute motion to waive 90 percent of the fine and the vote was tied 3-3 with Arrillaga, Heinemann and Director Ashley Wait voting for and Collazo, Baumhover and Director Rick Goldstein voting against; Director Brian Ross was absent. Baumhover said that he could not recall any time when someone had been in the hospital and that the board had imposed the fine. Arrillaga asked, “Once open, where do we stop?”

The vote for Baumhover’s original motion was also tied. Collazo’s motion to table the vote until the next meeting when all board members were present was approved by all.

Government Affairs Committee Chair Rick Goldstein said that he was talking to the county about changing the timing for the traffic light at Montague and Linebaugh so that traffic would move more quickly during the drop off and pick up times for Davidsen Middle School. He also reported that construction on the extension of Citrus Park Drive should begin in spring of 2019.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that employees had been busy cleaning and updating the facilities. Her request to fund Movies in the Park for $695 a month for six months for the 2018-19 season was approved.

Collazo reminded board members that it was their duty to inspect the facilities but asked that they not bring private contractors with them and that they bring any concerns to the board president and not give directions to association staff.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Aug. 14, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

West Park Village Tot Playground Temporarily Closes

The Westchase Community Development District (CDD) will temporarily close the West Park Village tot playground on Montague Street on Tuesday, Aug. 14. According to CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte, a contractor will be installing a new shade canopy and new park benches in the playground area. Whyte added that staff currently had no estimate for when the park will reopen, stating work could be affected by weather. The playground will reopen when work concludes, she said.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, July 2018

July’s fabulous fakery was an attempt to nudge pedagogy away from teaching to the test.

Because we really should be teaching to the child. And what better way to do this than with the county’s latest fake charter school: the Hillsborough IBS Academy for Video Gaming, which held two open houses in July where teens could try to video-game kill each other to win coveted spots.

Of course, IBS.

Get it?

The fake academy promised to work video game play into all areas of the curriculum, including PE and lunch.

Because American children need to put down all those silly books they’re reading.

The editor’s brother dreamed up this dream school. It was inspired by his daughters’ IB middle school carpool. Right before summer break, when he’d ask his carpoolers how their school days were, they’d cry out, “Stop talking! Some middle age lawyer on his lunch break up in Tuscaloosa is trying to snipe me!”

Like millions of middle schoolers every afternoon, they were playing Fortnite, which is basically Hunger Games for your smartphone.

“Wait,” he responded. “Is that game violent?”

“Daaaaad,” his daughter moaned. “It’s not violent. We’re just killing each other. There’s no blood or guts at all.”

Which actually constitutes a highly persuasive political argument these days.

Meanwhile, we congratulate lucky Fake Ad Contest winner, Linda Connolly of Bennington. She’ll be pausing her Fortnite slaying spree to dine 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Seniors Group Donates Toys for Hospital

It was Christmas in July for some happy children!

On July 10 St. Joseph's Children's hospital was thrilled to receive a car full of new toys from the Westchase Seniors Group. The toys were to be given to children in the their hospital.  Hadley Trull, Child Life Clinical Supervisor, and Corina Wian, Special Events Coordinator, were impressed with the number and variety of age appropriate toys they said will be very helpful in the treatment of many children, not to mention their attitudes while in the hospital. 

We thank the Westchase Seniors who contributed time and money to this Westchase Seniors Group activity. We enjoyed shopping for the toys, most of which we had never seen before. It was even more satisfying to know they would all be given to ill and injured children. After purchasing the toys, some of us celebrated by having hamburgers and milkshakes at Steak and Shake. Mmmmm good!

August Seniors Activity Pete and Judy Daniher are inviting the Westchase Seniors Group to their home on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 5 p.m. for a menu themed "Tampa All-American Summer Pot Luck Dinner."  The Danihers live at 10411 Greenhedges Dr. in The Greens.  They recommend those who can to carpool since there is limited parking space at their home.  If you plan to go, please R.S.V.P. by Aug. 14 to Judy at jdaniher77@gmail.com or call 792-8663.

Active Adult Activities With many children’s programs running through the summer months at the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center, the county-sponsored activities for adults have had to change and the trips for seniors have been canceled until September. The summer schedule follows and you can call (813) 964-2948 for more information:

• Walking Club: Wed and Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
• Tone and Stretch: Wed and Fri, 9 a.m.
• Yoga: Thu, 9 a.m. ($3/class)
• Ball Room Dance: Mon, 10-11 a.m.
• Pickelball: Fri, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Chair Yoga, Light Aerobics and Ball Room Dancing will not be offered until further notice.

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

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

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

To Shame or not to Shame? That is the Question.

Social media can be a great way to connect with family and friends, find recommendations for reliable businesses and keep up to date on current events.

It can also be used as a platform to air grievances.

This is becoming increasingly evident in the posts and comment threads of neighborhood Facebook groups. While pointing out the wrongdoings of others may seem like a way to blow off some steam, it turns out public shaming posts have the potential to land the poster in hot water.

The arose recently on the Westwood Lakes Facebook group. A member of the group posted about a car driving far too fast through the neighborhood, giving a detailed description of the vehicle. Several people commented that the post was not only inappropriate, but also a potential precursor for legal action. Brian Esposito, owner of BJE Law, P.A., was among those who raised a red flag.

His point was that posts of this nature could potentially open the door for a defamation suit. Defamation is a broad term for any statement that damages someone's reputation. There are two types of defamation: Written defamation is known as libel; spoken defamation is known as slander. Posts and comments on a Facebook page therefore fall under the umbrella of libel. 

“In Florida, my understanding is that the statement must be false but presented as a fact,” Esposito explained. “So, you cannot get sued for giving your opinion.”

He gave the following example: “You can’t sue someone for posting on the internet, ‘I don’t like Brian’; however, if someone says something like, ‘Brian is a murderer’ and he’s not, then he could sue.”

Esposito added that what many residents may not understand is that the statement posted does not have to explicitly mention the person by name. A description or photo that makes it easy to deduce the person being referenced may suffice.

“To complicate it even more, a statement of opinion can be actionable if it appears to be based on specific facts, and an express allegation of those facts would be defamatory,” Esposito stated. “For example, a statement like, ‘I would not trust Brian around the cash register’ implies personal knowledge of dishonest conduct by Brian, and thus may be actionable.”

“Let’s say your hypothetical bad driver drives for a living. You posted your described scenario. He/she loses business because if it. I think that a lawsuit is there,” Esposito explained.

Whether there is actually a case to be made is another question, as there is a lack of clarity in Florida law if the burden of proof falls to the plaintiff or the defendant to prove the truth or falsity of the defamatory statements. “But, is it worth being sued? Having to pay thousands of dollars to an attorney to defend you?” Esposito questioned. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk. I’d recommend NOT posting stuff like that just to be safe.”

Legal ramifications notwithstanding, are public shaming posts appropriate, especially on Facebook groups serving as community forums?

Susan Rose does not think so. After attending several HOA meetings, she launched the Westwood Lakes Facebook group in April of 2012 to enhance neighborhood communication. “As a community member who was attending meetings I wanted to share some of the board’s discussion with the community,” Rose explained.  “Prior to Facebook I was printing flyers and leaving on door handles to invite my immediate neighbors to events I was hosting, such as Taste of Tar Flower driveway pot luck or the Great Egg Hunt on our street corner.”

Rose added that when her family moved to Florida in 2007, they did not have extended family in the area. Her neighbors on Tar Flower Drive filled a big hole in her life. Wanting to find a way to help others build relationships like those she had on her own street, Facebook seemed like a great way to reach people. As the administrator of the page, Rose had a goal was of posting community activities and updates related to Westwood Lakes – while giving all members having the ability to post.

“Over time, the Facebook community group has shown to be a great way for neighbors to reach out to each other for different needs, including bus stop emergencies, power outages, storm tracking, lost pets, wildlife spotting, lost and found items, event announcements, restaurant news, business references and HOA questions,” Rose stated.

She added that unfortunately there are often those who choose to use the group to complain or shame other neighbors, vendors or local businesses. “The intention of the group is to build people up and encourage and support each other. The use of complaining with no resolution and/or posting photos of houses, cars, dog poop or describing someone’s physical appearance is upsetting, negative and personally annoying.”

That is not to say there is no room for disagreement. “I do enjoy owners expressing differences of opinion; however, sometimes those discussions become personal attacks and divert from the real discussion,” Rose added.

Chris Barrett, WOW Publisher and administrator for the Facebook page Westchase Neighborhood News, noticed an uptick in the number of negative posts meant to shame others soon after its creation. In response, the group adopted a policy of deleting such posts. Exceptions are made only when the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office or Westchase Community Development District (CDD) requests the posting of surveillance video to help find someone as part of investigation.

“Many folks view deletion of public-shaming posts as ‘censoring’ or a meddlesome attempt to control negativity,” he stated. “The truth is that their deletion is about protecting the poster as much as the group and its moderators.”

Barrett noted it is rare for someone to post a photo or negative comment 24 hours after an incident. Instead public shaming posts tend to happen in the heat of the moment. “Most folks, given more time, really don’t want to be remembered for the moments they erupt in anger and frustration.”

Barrett added that another reason for deleting public-shaming posts is that they rarely accomplish what they purport to do. “While they’re intended to notify a person that he’s been caught and called out, odds are the person won’t even see it. But it tends to trigger an explosion of negativity in the group that doesn’t reflect well on the poster or the community.”

Posts related to the behavior of kids are also grounds for deletion. “As a society, we hold kids to a different standard than adults,” Barrett noted. “We extend them special protection and rightly so. Because their brains aren’t fully developed yet, their judgment and risk assessment are notoriously poor. WOW staff deletes public-shaming posts because we’d want other folks to show the same sensitivity to our kids. It’s better to have these conversations in private like our parents used to.”

The group’s key reason for deleting public-shaming posts, however, is that they usually do not tell the whole story. “Was the car that cut you off racing to the hospital? Did the driver of the car parked in the handicapped space forget to take their handicapped placard out of their glove box?”

Ultimately, Westchase Neighborhood News bans public-shaming posts in order to protect the poster and the group moderators from a potential defamation suit.

That is something that Rose worries about. “I am not on the group 24/7 because the intent is for communication to be between residents and not intended to be a highly censored group page,” she stated. “Posts do not get deleted unless brought to my attention by either a message or someone reporting it, unless I happen to be on the group and see a photo that is inappropriate or read something that is a personal attack.”

She noted that with 730 members in the group, the majority of posts are positive neighborhood communication, but her fear lies in what legal liability she is exposing herself to when negative posts arise. “Censoring a community forum is no easy task,” she stated.
Venting can be cathartic, but negative posts on a public forum, especially those intended to shame others, can quickly get out of hand. “If you need to say something, keep it very general,” Esposito advised. “A simple post like, ‘The speed limit in our neighborhood is 35 m.p.h. I hope we are all following that,’ will do.”
 
In the end, Esposito concluded that it all comes down to risk versus reward. “What are you really gaining? And is it worth the post to risk a lawsuit?”

By Karen Ring

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW in Tasmania and Seoul

Over the winter, WOW traveled to Oceania and Asia as part of its world travels.

Brian and Teresa Keefer of The Greens took WOW with them on their trip to the Korean peninsula, where they were fortunate enough to attend the Winter Olympics. “Our son-in-law is stationed there with the Army and we went to spend some time with our daughter and him in Pyeongtek,” wrote Teresa.

The Keefers sent photos of various sites in South Korea. “While we were there we toured Seoul, where we experienced the culture, the nightlife, and went to the top of the Seoul Tower,” Teresa added. “We visited the site of the 1988 Summer Olympics, where the flame still burns and the flags still fly. We also were fortunate enough to get tickets to a 2018 Winter Olympic Ice Skating event in PyeongChang.”

In their photo here, Teresa and Brian are shown at the Olympic flame that still burns at the site of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Meanwhile, the same month that the Keefers were bundled up for the South Korean winter, two Westchase area couples were enjoying balmy summer temperatures despite being at a similar longitude to South Korea.

Rudy and Cathy Powell of Mandolin Reserve and Ron and Diane Shaver of Glencliff, vacationed on a 12-day cruise starting in Sydney Australia and traveling to Melbourne, Tasmania, Fiordland, Dunedin, Akaroa, Taurangua and Auckland.

Can you place Tasmania on a mental map? Perhaps you can picture Australia in the Southern Hemisphere with the islands of New Zealand to the southeast of Australia. Tasmania is an island state of Australia and sits like a broad smile due south of the Australia’s eastern side. Tasmania is 26,410 square miles, a bit larger than West Virginia’s 24,230 square miles.

Yet all of Australia and Tasmania lie below the equator in the Southern Hemisphere. Morever, Tasmania sits as far south of the equator as Pennsylvania and Ohio lie north of it. And when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere as it was in Korea in February, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. So while the Keefers and the Powell/Shaver party were at similar longitudes, their far different latitudes had them experiencing opposite seasons. 


As for the second picture here?

“This photo was taken at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania,” explained Cathy Powell. “The sanctuary is dedicated to rehabilitating and releasing Tasmania's injured and orphaned animals, including one of the largest kangaroo and wallaby free-ranging refuges.”

At the refuge the couples were able to see Tasmanian devils, koalas, wombats, wallabies and golden possums. “Tasmania also is the world’s largest producer of lavender as well as growing and exporting cherries and hops,” Cathy added.

We thank the Keefers, the Powells and the Shavers for sharing their travels with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Summer Vacations!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your summer vacation 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Tampa’s History Carved in Stone

Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Tampa just a mere two blocks from I-275 you’ll find an important piece of Tampa history—Oaklawn Cemetery.

Established in 1850, Oaklawn was the first public burial ground in Tampa, which was, at the time, a struggling town of 500 persons.  According to the minutes of the Alachua County Commissioners meeting, Oaklawn was designated as the final resting place for "white and slave, rich and poor."

The founding of Oaklawn followed a trend then occurring in many U.S. communities of creating rural or garden cemeteries. Up until this time the only option for burial had been in a church graveyard. Many of those were becoming overcrowded. 

Gloria Beauchamp with Hillsborough County’s Parks and Recreation Department said that it is hard to determine the earliest burial date in Oaklawn. “Unfortunately, the original plot assignment record was lost sometime after the Civil War,” she said. “Subsequent confusion as to the exact place and name of many of the burials stems from the fact that many early grave markers were made from carved cypress, which was subject to rot and fire. Moreover, periodic storms and hurricane forces displaced many markers or washed them away entirely.”

A walk around Oaklawn Cemetery, however, still reveals Tampa’s history. It also shows the Victorian era’s emphasis on gravestones as a way to memorialize the dead. You can find gravestones with images that were popular at the time, including the broken column, suggesting a life cutoff; lambs, especially on children's graves, symbolizing innocence; the draped urn, referencing both ancient burial practices and the veil between life and the afterlife; the rose, frequently seen on women's graves, expressing purity and fragility; as well as fraternal emblems or mottos, indicating the decedent's membership in Freemasonry, Woodmen of the World, Elks or the American Legion.

Oaklawn is the final resting place for many individuals who were instrumental in Tampa’s development as well as home to mass graves for the area’s earliest settlers. Many of those buried in Oaklawn were lost to a yellow fever epidemic that struck Tampa shortly after the cemetery opened. “The 15th governor of Florida, Henry L. Mitchell, is [also] at rest in the southwest corner,” said Beauchamp. “Nearby stands the marker for Judge Joseph B. Lancaster, who served as a Florida Supreme Court judge and has the further distinction of being Tampa’s first mayor.” Lancaster’s memorial also features the seal of the city for which he served.

Beauchamp added, “Also interred in this portion of the cemetery are framers of all five Florida constitutions: William B. Hooker, James Gettis, Simon Thurman, James T, Magbee, C.R. Mobley, Dr. John P. Wall, and Captain John T. Lesley, who also served as Tampa’s 12th mayor.”
Located in the southeast section of the cemetery is the McKay family plot, which contains the graves of the pioneering family of which three served as mayor: James McKay Sr.(Tampa’s sixth mayor), James McKay Jr. (34th) and Donald McKay (38th and 42nd).

Oaklawn Cemetery is located at 606 E. Harrison Street and includes a section for Catholic burials called St. Louis Catholic Cemetery. The two graveyards were added as a Historic District to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 19, 2017.

The cemetery is open to the public everyday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. You can find a walking tour guide online at http://www.tampagov.net/parks-and-recreation/cemeteries/oaklawn-walking-tour

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Nipuna Weerapperuma

The son of Dilrika and Viraj Weeraperuma of Abbotsford, Nipuna Weeraperuma graduated from Middleton High School with an atmospheric 9.02 GPA and 402 community service hours.

In the fall he will study computer engineering at University of Florida.

Dual enrolled at Middleton and Hillsborough Community College and University of South Florida, Nipuna had a transcript that featured over 11 honors courses and 17 AP courses, as well as multiple computer coding and engineer courses. A National Merit Finalist, Weeraperuma was also a National AP Scholar, a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) E-Business Champion and a Hillsborough County Master Musician.

As a talented violinist and section leader with the Middleton Orchestra, Nipuna founded the school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society. He was a captain of the varsity swimming team and founded Middleton’s popular Table Tennis Club and the Middleton Math Mondays Club. He also was vice president and founding member of the National Business Honors Society. He even held part-time jobs, including the creation of a start-up company named Teaving, which seeks to spread traditional teas to the West.

His hundreds of hours of community service were earned with several organizations. He was a member of the Tampa Mayor's Youth Corps, a volunteer with St Joseph's Hospital in Tampa and the National Cancer Hospital, Shantha Sevena Hospice in Sri Lanka, a camp director at Museum of Science and Industry and a founder of the Summer Stem Academy At Bible Truth Ministries Academy. Most significantly, Weeraperuma raised funds for and planned the construction of a 110-foot deep tube well for a village school in Sri Lanka. So grateful were the villagers for Weeraperuma’s project that when he visited for the well’s grand opening, the village threw a parade in his honor.

Wrote Suzette Dean, one of his primary community service supervisors, “In all my years of experience, some individuals stand out for their great qualities and Nipuna is one of those people. He is well known for his stellar work ethic, courtesy, and teamwork mindset.” She added, “He has shown me time and time again that he is a positive, motivated leader with limitless potential.”

Congratulations to Nipuna and good luck at UF!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Spreading Joy at Publix and Beyond

For most, shopping for groceries isn’t at the top of the list of favorite things to do. Stockbridge resident Marty Alderman makes that task a lot more tolerable.

Alderman cheerfully greets customers at the end of the checkout lane at Publix, helping fulfill the store’s motto: “Where shopping is a pleasure.” For 13 years, Alderman has worked as a bagger for Publix, making sure the customer has a pleasurable experience until the bitter end of the shopping task.

Alderman almost always has a smile on her face as she bags groceries and assists customers to their cars. Her cheerful demeanor and positive outlook on life are contagious to those fortunate enough to encounter her while she works. Unfortunately, life for Alderman did not start out that way. At birth, it became clear that life would not be easy for her, yet she managed to overcome several birth defects and defy a dismal prognosis from doctors. “Marty wasn’t due until Labor Day but I went into labor in June,” explained her mom, Dianne Lehmann. 

Doctors were able to stop the labor and Lehmann was bedridden until mid-July, when Marty was born prematurely with floating retinas, blocked eardrums and a blocked esophagus. When she was just 9 months old, surgery was performed to attach her retinas. She fell into a coma that lasted for five days. At 13 months, she endured surgery to correct her eardrums. It was during that time that doctors discovered that part of the frontal lobe of her brain never fully developed. This would affect her attention span, as well as her occupational and developmental skills. Doctors gave Lehmann the grim news that her daughter would probably not live beyond 13 years. That news, Lehmann said, was unacceptable. “No, we’re gonna fight this because there is a power bigger than any doctor,” she told herself. 

And fight, they did. 

Alderman entered school and went on to graduate from West Orange High School in Winter Garden. Along the way, she entered the Best Buddies program. Best Buddies is an international program that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, employment training and leadership development for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. They also help members learn to live independently, secure jobs and improve communication skills. “It’s a wonderful program and they really helped us a lot,” Lehmann shared.

“That’s how I learned to bag groceries!” Alderman said of their job-training unit.

It was through Best Buddies that she participated in the Special Olympics, where she earned four first place ribbons. “It was amazing and so much fun,” she said of the experience.

After graduating from high school, her first job was at a daycare where she worked as a lunch assistant and playground helper. She did this until 2003 when they moved to Westchase. 

At the advice of a neighbor, Alderman applied for a job at Publix and was hired as a bagger.  July 14 marked her 13th year at the Westchase Publix location. She enjoys the customers as they come through her line but she admits she does have some favorites. The Aston Gardens residents are among those who seek her out as they go to the checkout lines. 

Celebrations for special milestones have been marked by parties, Alderman explained.  “We did big, bigger and biggest,” she said. 

When she turned 13, they threw a big party to mark the year she was not expected to live past. A bigger party was held to celebrate her high school graduation. The biggest party she’s ever had marked her 30th birthday. More than 200 people attended the surprise birthday party held at a local restaurant. “Oh I was shocked. I cried and all I could say was, ‘This isn’t for me, is it?’”

Her friend, Hugh, from Aston Gardens said it best when he told her, “If Marty isn’t here, it isn’t a party.”

Cruising is her favorite pastime. She has been on more than fifty!  Favorite locations include the Panama Canal and Honduras. Through the years, she has even become Facebook friends with many frequent shoppers. “They want to see my cruise pictures,” she chuckled. 

Be sure to look for Marty Alderman at the checkout line the next time you’re in Publix. She’ll be the chatty one with a smile who is ready to assist you!

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

By Lisa Stephens

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Imagine Museum Brings Studio Glass Movement to St. Pete

St. Petersburg is home to museums showcasing fine art, photography and Salvador Dali.

The newest member of the museum family, The Imagine Museum, is dedicated to The American Studio Glass Movement. Opened earlier this year, the museum’s mission is to educate its visitors about the movement while showcasing more than 500 pieces of American Studio Glass created by more than 55 artists who were, and continue to be, integral to the development of glass as a fine art form.

“We are the only museum in the U.S. devoted entirely to the American Studio Glass Movement,” said Imagine Museum Deputy Director Jane Buckman. “Other museums have collections along with their other areas of art, but we are the only one with this distinct focus. The founder, Trish Duggan, was determined to bring this museum to St. Pete because of the vibrancy of the cultural arts in St. Pete and her interest in studio glass and the number of people and venues displaying or working in the glass medium in the region.”

The Imagine Museum’s regular collection tells the story of the studio glass movement from its beginning in 1962, when a University of Wisconsin professor began experimenting with hot glass in his studio, to the present. The collection includes pieces and artists that best represent the history of the movement. It was awesome to see the variety of pieces and ways they were designed. From glass houses to a glass chair, small pieces to large statues, the museum will put you in awe of the beauty of glass and how something so delicate can be manipulated in so many ways.

I have loved Dale Chihuly’s work since I first saw it at a museum in Memphis but until visiting The Imagine Museum did not realize that there was an actual glass movement or just how many other American artists have chosen glass as their medium.  

In addition to the regular collection, the museum hosts special exhibits throughout the year, such as the one currently on display: Paul Stankard’s Unseen Worlds featuring 100 glass paperweights in a garden-like installation. According to Buckman, “Paul Stankard is considered a pioneer in the studio glass movement and an internationally acclaimed glass paperweight master.”

Buckman added that the museum will host several special events in connection with the exhibit. “Throughout the fall we will be hosting artist Skype lectures on Sundays, a weekend with Paul Stankard and educational program collaborations with various groups in the region.”

Additionally, the museum hosts After Hours events on Friday evenings as well as story times and family days.

Imagine Museum
1901 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg
(727) 300-1700
http://www.imaginemuseum.com

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Spice Kitchen Delivers Distinctive Flavor

I have a confession to make: Until last month, I had never eaten Indian food.

When I heard Spice Kitchen was opening in the old Enzo’s spot (and the old Nabruzzi, and the old Zerillo’s before that), I admit I was a little intimidated. How could I provide a valid review with no frame of reference? But then I saw a few comments on Facebook from other Westchasers who had never eaten Indian food either, so I decided to take one for the team.

Let me say this – it’s definitely distinctive. There’s a smell, a taste, a consistency that is like nothing I’ve eaten before. I don’t mean this in a pejorative way at all… but it’s good to know going in (particularly if you are an Indian food newbie). It’s different. 

The space, however, is much the same. It’s still one big room with a bar in the front, this time decorated with a tasteful rustic look. Real tablecloths and napkins and fresh flowers on every table add a nice touch. The names of the menu items at Spice Kitchen are all Indian, but the ingredients for each dish are listed, so I kind of knew what I was getting. I did rely on our server, Kristin, for information and recommendations. She was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and suggested the Pakoras ($6) and Samosa Chaat ($7) for starters.

Both were an entirely new experience. The Pakoras reminded me of fritters – dense, packed with veggies and quite filling. They were served with a sweet tamarind dipping sauce and, although a tad bland, were good. The Chaat looked like nachos but tasted nothing like it. However, it was a nice fusion of textures and tastes and was surprisingly good.

There are plenty of choices for the main course including sizzlers, seafood, curries (including lamb and goat), vegetarian dishes and Biryani, which is described as “a standard in Indian cuisine.” However, we opted for items that had been recommended by friends: half a Tandoori Chicken ($13) for my dining partner, boneless Butter Chicken Curry ($16) for me and garlic Naan bread ($4) to share. 

Several dishes have adjustable spice levels (from 1 to 5, Kristin explained, along with “Indian hot”). My dining partner likes his food about as spicy as ketchup, so he went with level 1. Still, it made my eyes water. I can’t even imagine what a 3 or 4 would be like. The butter chicken was a bit more mellow (even though I opted for level 2). It’s served in a bowl, almost like a soup, and is accompanied by a heap of fluffy white rice (which I really loved). The chicken was fall-apart tender and flavorful, and when spooned with the sauce over the rice it was really delicious.

For dessert, we tried the Gulab Jamun with ice cream ($6). Essentially a fat deep-fried donut hole, it’s smothered with a warm, super-sweet syrup and served with vanilla ice cream. Everything comes in a separate dish, and it was kind of fun to dump it all together. I also had to try the Masala Chai ($4), which is a spiced tea with milk. It comes unsweetened and hot in a small glass and I’ll be honest, it smells a little weird. However, by the time I finished it, I had decided I liked it better than my usual chai go-to (Starbucks).

Spice Kitchen won’t be for everyone. But if you’ve never had Indian food and are on the fence – go. You might be surprised.

Spice Kitchen
4 Stars
spicekitchentampa.net
11653 Countryway Blvd.
Closed Mondays; lunch special Thali (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) available weekdays; brunch available weekends

By Melanie Casey

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Do You Know Where and When to Vote?

It’s time to vote in 2018 primary elections!

Where should you vote? Early voting (Aug. 13-26) has specific locations, with the closest being the Maureen B. Gauzza Library. But if you’re voting on the day of the Aug. 28 primary election, your precinct may be elsewhere.

On election day, if you live in Westchase within The Fords and The Greens and all villages east of there, you vote in Precinct 500, at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. If you live in Radcliffe, Saville Rowe, and Harbor Links/The Estates and Westchase villages off Countryway Boulevard, you vote at Precinct 508 at the Maureen G. Gauzza Library.

If you live in Windsor Place, Mandolin, Westchester or Highland Park, on election day you vote at Precinct 506, located at Bay Hope Church at 10701 Sheldon Rd. Residents of Westwood Lakes and West Hampton cast ballots at Precinct 527, in the Bayanihan Center’s Philippine Art and Cultural Foundation, 14301 Nine Eagles Dr.

Every cycle we get folks who show up at the wrong polling station based on where they live. “But I voted here last time,” they say. Perhaps, but they probably did early voting. During early voting you may vote at any early voting location in the county. But on election day it must be at your assigned precinct.

If you’re new to Florida, please note that we have a closed primary (registered Democrats can vote for Democrats only, and Republicans can only vote among their candidates). This restriction does not apply in the general election.

It’s worth noting, too, that if you are registered as No Party Affiliation (NPA), you have a smaller list of offices you can vote for during the primary. But it is still important for you to educate yourself on those races open to you (such as judicial and school board races).

Visit http://www.votehillsborough.org for more detailed information and to see your sample ballot.

Important Election Dates

2018 Elections

Registration Deadlines

Mail Ballot Request Deadline

Early Voting

Election Day

Primary Election

July 30

Aug. 22

Aug. 13-26

Aug. 28

General Election

Oct. 9

Oct. 31

Oct. 22-Nov. 4

Nov. 6

By Keith Heinemann, Precinct 508 Clerk

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Home of the Month: 10345 Green Links Drive

The Greens resident Chris Planeta attributes his lifelong love of gardening to his Sicilian father.

When Chris Planeta was growing up, his family’s yard, hedges and plants were impeccable. His father Salvatore took great pride in ensuring that their yard and landscaping was always meticulous. Today Chris has followed in his father’s footsteps, working hard to maintain a perfectly manicured yard.

Hailing from Connecticut, Chris moved to Florida in 1997 with his wife, Kerry, who is originally from Pennsylvania, when he was a Marine Corps Major stationed at the US Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB. A few years later, they moved to Westchase, where they’ve resided for the last fifteen years. Five years ago, they moved into their current home on Green Links Drive, where they live with their three children, CeCe, 20; Bo, 17; and Ava, 12.

Their home sits on a peaceful, tree-lined street with huge Birds of Paradise plants and palm trees framing the front of their house. The backyard is a tranquil setting with a big, open, non-screened pool on the conservation, enfolded by beautiful palms and several different types of plants. Asked if they have a favorite flower or plant in their yard, they found it hard just to name one. They love the larger palms out back, as well as the Birds of Paradise surrounding the house. There is an array of potted plants around the back porch that include eight different pots with jade plants in them. “I reproduce jade plants, crown of thorns plants, and all kinds of cactus plants,” he said. “They’re all around my house in pots now.”

As for the upkeep, Chris said that there’s lots of trimming, cutting, and watering on a weekly basis, along with weeding, which comes with the territory. “There is a lot more weeding to do since it’s so tropical here.”

Having adapted to gardening in Florida, the one piece of advice he offered to those looking to landscape their homes is to remember that we live in the Sunshine State. “The sun is hot. Go with plants and trees that are capable of handling direct sunlight year-round.”

Happy gardening! Please remember to run changes to your yard and home exterior by the Modifications Committee first. Know a home that should be featured here? Send its street address to Brie Gorecki at brie.gorecki@gmail.com.

Birds of Paradise

The Bird of Paradise plant is a native plant of South Africa. Also known as crane flowers, these plants get their name from the unusual flowers, resembling brightly colored birds in flight.

By Brie Gorecki

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Real Estate Round Up: June 2018

Address

Sale
Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full
Baths

Half

Baths

Living
Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10023 Bentley Way

217,000

7

149.45

3

2

1

1,452

N

10605 Cobham Wood Ct.

275,000

5

143.75

3

2

1

1,913

N

9830 Gingerwood Dr.

304,000

33

196.89

2

2

0

1,544

N

9004 English Silver Way

306,000

41

185.91

3

2

1

1,646

N

10045 New Parke Rd.

315,000

17

187.50

3

2

1

1,680

N

12331 Glenfield Ave.

319,000

88

176.34

3

2

1

1,809

N

10016 Bentley Way

329,000

15

195.83

3

2

1

1,680

N

10014 Bennington Dr.

380,000

30

166.89

4

3

0

2,277

Y

9611 Gretna Green Dr.

385,000

2

205.11

3

2

0

1,877

N

9614 Greenpointe Dr.

392,000

712

182.41

3

2

0

2,149

N

10740 Ayrshire Dr.

395,000

19

193.82

4

2

0

2,038

Y

10618 Chambers Dr.

397,800

3

148.60

4

3

0

2,677

Y

9807 Woodbay Dr.

400,000

13

216.80

4

2

0

1,845

N

10602 Chambers Dr.

425,000

5

183.66

4

3

0

2,314

N

10323 Millport Dr.

455,000

30

166.36

4

3

0

2,735

N

10442 Greendale Dr.

470,000

133

168.34

4

2

0

2,792

Y

10516 Castleford Way

470,000

19

180.01

4

3

0

2,611

Y

11927 Keating Dr.

530,000

2

210.32

4

3

0

2,520

Y

10524 Greencrest Dr.

538,000

275

164.12

4

3

0

3,278

Y

10415 Brentford Dr.

545,000

24

176.83

4

3

0

3,082

Y

10521 Gretna Green Dr.

550,000

3

195.45

4

3

0

2,814

Y

11906 Keating Dr.

580,000

2

191.48

4

3

0

3,029

Y

10039 Brompton Dr.

622,500

2

199.78

4

3

0

3,116

Y

12005 Brewster Dr.

625,000

84

193.14

4

3

0

3,236

Y

10405 Green Links Dr.

635,000

2

180.65

5

4

1

3,515

N

10513 Greencrest Dr.

640,000

30

173.68

4

4

0

3,685

Y

10550 Greensprings Dr.

660,000

219

188.03

4

3

0

3,510

Y

12117 Clear Harbor Dr.

660,000

41

177.85

4

3

1

3,711

Y

10525 Greensprings Dr.

700,000

70

177.71

4

4

1

3,939

Y

Highland Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14718 Brick Pl.

335,000

3

153.11

3

2

1

2,188

N

11510 Splendid Ln.

550,000

41

184.63

4

3

1

2,979

Y

14708 Canopy Dr.

640,000

2

179.07

4

3

1

3,574

Y

14610 Bournemouth Rd.

251,000

52

172.87

3

2

1

1,452

N

14527 Cotswolds Dr.

372,000

0

139.64

4

3

1

2,664

N

11530 Fountainhead Dr.

230,000

11

156.46

3

2

1

1,470

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11241 Blacksmith Dr.

385,000

21

145.50

4

3

0

2,646

None

11673 Renaissance View Ct.

485,000

27

168.58

4

2

1

2,877

Y

Tree Tops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9716 Tree Tops Lake Rd.

960,000

194

225.41

4

4

0

4,259

Y

West Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12838 Stanwyck Cir.

542,000

10

173.44

5

4

0

3,125

Y

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12221 Bishopsford Dr.

295,400

17

168.03

3

2

0

1,758

None

12007 Mountbatten Dr.

340,000

92

155.25

4

3

0

2,190

Y

11933 Northumberland Dr.

330,000

233

149.32

4

3

0

2,210

Y

11903 Northumberland Dr.

419,500

27

153.44

5

3

0

2,734

Y

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14609 Coral Berry Dr.

470,000

96

164.45

4

3

0

2,858

Y

11259 Windsor Place Cir.

215,000

19

127.75

2

2

1

1,683

N

 

Information Provided By Doug And Nancy Wood Of Smith & Associates

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD Approves Linebaugh Turn Lane Expansion

The July CDD meeting saw Westchase supervisors give their approval to a county plan to expand a turn lane on Linebaugh at its intersection with Sheldon Road.

Hillsborough County representatives Larry Josephson and Bob Campbell appeared on July 10 to ask for the Westchase Community Development District’s (CDD) support for extending Linebaugh Avenue’s eastbound turn lane to northbound Sheldon Road. The project is aimed at reducing the backup of traffic on Linebaugh exiting Westchase.

Supervisors ultimately approved the project, 4-0. Supervisor Barbara Griffith was absent.

The project is slated to begin in October, roughly coinciding with the end of the current sewer line project that has impacted the turn lane. The work will maintain but reconfigure the current closed turn into CVS while more than doubling the length of the two turning lanes.

The current turning lane is 205 feet long. When complete, the new turn lane will be 445-feet long.

Josephson stated that during afternoon rush hour, the eastbound Linebaugh wait time for motorists at the Sheldon intersection averages 342 seconds. During afternoon rush hour, 1,889 vehicles use the intersection, with 459 of them turning north and 202 turning south. By extending the northbound turn lane, the overall time to pass through the intersection will decrease by 42 percent.

Extending the turn lanes to 445 feet will come at the expense of the existing landscaped median, however. Josephson said, in addition to shrubbery, the extended lanes would result in the removal of 12 grown trees, including seven bald cypress, four sycamores and one large oak.

At the meeting CDD Field Manager Doug Mays made a push to save more of the sycamores by attempting to convince the county to shorten the new turn lane into the CVS. He stated only one or two cars queue in the CVS lane at any time and he saw no point in lengthening it. Josephson responded that the plan didn’t lengthen the CVS turn but rather kept it the same length but simply repositioned it. Eyeing the plan, Mays’ responded, “I disagree,” and reemphasized the importance of saving the trees. Mays added that numerous residents expressed opposition to the recent removal of mature but diseased trees in the median during landscaping improvements.

When Supervisor Brian Ross expressed concern about the appearance of the proposed three-foot wide concrete divider between eastbound and westbound lanes closer to the intersection, Campbell committed to having staff work with the district to come up with options for permitting landscaping or decorative bricks in the narrow strip.

Josephson also addressed whether the future construction of the Citrus Park Drive extension, expected to be completed in 2020, would alleviate the need for the turn lane expansion. Even with the completed Citrus Park Drive extension, Josephson said, eastbound Linebaugh traffic is expected to more than double by 2040, requiring further work at the intersection. “In the future,” he said, “it’s still going to be needed.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Grace Wilcox

The daughter of Pam and David Wilcox of Sturbridge, Grace Wilcox graduated from Robinson High School’s IB program with a 6.84 GPA and 415 community service hours.

She plans to study engineering at University of Florida in the fall.

Grace’s IB transcript featured seven honors courses, three AP courses and a number of rigorous IB courses widely considered by state universities to be the equivalent of AP coursework. A member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, she was named National Merit Commended Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction.

A dedicated Girl Scout, Wilcox received Girl Scout Starfish Award, Silver Award and Bronze Award. Maura McCallister of the Girl Scouts, observed, “Of the hundreds of Girl Scouts I have known through Scouting there are few whom I’ve seen stay as focused and dedicated to her family, school work, and community as Grace.”

In addition to Scouting, Grace was an accomplished musician, playing oboe, clarinet and piano. Her junior year she was named to a leadership position with Robinson’s band when chosen as band librarian. A three-year member of the Marching Knights, she also was first chair oboe, initially in Robinson’s Concert Band and later in the school’s Wind Ensemble. Wilcox was named to the All-County honor band as a junior and played piano in one of her high school’s jazz ensembles. She was named by her peers to the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

She earned her service hours with multiple service organizations, including serving as counselor for Girl Scout Camps and as a member of the Girl Scout Advisory Board. Grace also played concerts at local nursing homes with Robinson’s Tri-M Society.

Erika George, Robinson’s IB guidance counselor wrote, “Grace has constantly pushed herself in her academics- although she makes it look easy. She has taken the most demanding coursework offered and recommended: IB higher level math with double science in physics and chemistry. This young lady knows how to manage her time and academics!”

Congratulations to Grace and we wish her the best of luck at UF in the fall!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Lofty Climb

Another Boy Scout from Troop 46 recently made the lofty climb to Eagle Scout, scouting’s highest rank.

Congratulations to Justin Boyles, 15, who recently ascended to the position held by so few. The Eagle Project Justin completed was to lead a group of fellow Scouts to build and install a set of bat boxes for Robles Elementary School. The project fulfilled a need at the school for bat conservation and to provide the bats an alternate roosting location other than the school buildings.

Boyles is an incoming sophomore at Steinbrenner High School, serves as a Sergeant in the Junior ROTC, and plays the alto saxophone in band. He was named to the All County Honors Band and All State Honors Band and received a superior rating at the Florida State Solo and Ensemble this past year. A high honor roll student, Justin is a member of the Raiders Competitive Team in Junior ROTC. Justin stays busy; he holds a brown belt in karate, ran his own car wash business with three employees, and gardens vegetables.

He began his Scouting career as a Tiger Cub with Pack 646 and then crossed over to Troop 46. During that time, he achieved 26 merit badges and a Bronze Eagle Palm and served in leadership positions as a Den Chief for a Cub Scout Bear Den and Chaplain’s Aide. He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow fraternity. As a member of the Yellow Submarine Patrol, he attended out of state summer camps and weekend camping with the troop and made lasting friendships there.

Justin Boyles lives in Mandolin Estates with his parents, Cheryl and William Boyles, and his younger brother Joshua. The family attends Grace Family Church and Justin volunteers regularly at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa.

Troop 46 meets most Monday evenings during the school year at First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway. The Scoutmaster is Mr. David Smith. Anyone interested in Scouting can stop by anytime and speak to any adult leader in a tan shirt. This summer, Troop 46 scouts attended Camp Mount Rainey in Georgia.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Straight Up Health

There are growing concerns about the impact hand-held devices (HHD) like smart phones and tablets are having on our health.

While the debate about screen addiction rages, one thing is not controversial: the role the devices can contribute to poor posture. With the increased usage of HHDs, more time than ever is spent in forward flexion, with the head tilted down, creating potential postural problems with the upper back, shoulders, and neck.

Both the neck and lower back have a normal inward curve to help absorb the loads from the weight of the body. The average adult head is eight to 10 pounds, the weight of a bowling ball! Since the repetitive position when using HHD cause rounded back and a lowered, improperly supported 10-pound head, it reverses the cervical curve. Without correction, it can create poor posture, weakness in the ligaments and muscles, muscle stiffness, and moderate to severe pain in the neck and back.

Not only is this a growing problem among adults, it has also an increasing concern with children. Linda Parin, a sixth grade World History teacher at Davidsen Middle School, is noticing that more students are coming to class with rounded shoulders and poor posture.
Chiropractor, Dr. Andrew Danks, who has been practicing for over 10 years, is also noticing children with posture issues is on the rise. “You are always training your body to be better at what you do,” Danks said, adding that it’s crucial to address the potential postural problems early on. “Children are more adaptable than adults,” he said.

Good posture can be taught. Some potential considerations to aid in the prevention of HHD postural issues include:

• Consider how early you give children hand held devices.
• Balance the time children spend sedentary with HHDs and the time spent participating in physical activity.
• Monitor posture and if you notice changes, be proactive in corrective measures.
• Use parental control software to limit time spent on devices.
• Implement stretching and strengthening techniques to correct potential imbalances.
• Set a good example by demonstrating good posture and having periods of not using HHDs.
• Attach your HHD to a wall or refrigerator.
• Avoid studying in bed.

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>

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Carly Henry Takes Part in D.C. Leadership Conference

On June 10-15 Kingsford resident Carly Henry joined outstanding middle school students from across the nation in Washington, D.C.

There Henry participated in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference (JrNYLC), a unique academic and career-oriented development experience. The JrNYLC enables students to explore their interests and experience learning beyond the classroom.

Henry, a rising seventh grade student at Davidsen Middle School and the daughter of Patrick and Valerie Henry of Kingsford, was nominated for JrNYLC by her advanced math teacher, Melissa Green, for her academic achievement and demonstrated leadership potential. At Davidsen, Henry achieved the distinction of Principal’s Honor Roll each grading period of the 2017-2018 school year. Henry is also a Girl Scout Cadette in Troop 968 and enjoys mentoring first grade students at Westchase Elementary School and participating in community service projects around Tampa Bay.

While in the Washington, D.C. area, Henry explored leadership through the lens of American History and developed key skills that will prepare her to create positive change in her school and in her community.

Henry respects the hands-on leadership style of both her Davidsen Middle School principal, Mrs. Stacy Arena, and her Girl Scout troop leader, Angela Brigato. When asked to describe important leadership traits, Henry said, “A good leader knows they are not just a boss that sits back and directs others but is part of the group—they roll up their sleeves and pitch in, when needed, to help achieve the goal.”

By Thomas Rodgers

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Trippe!

Trippe is a 5-year-old Beagle Susan and Terry Schechinger rescued when he only a few weeks old. Trippe is very sweet and loving and gets very excited when visitors come over. He thinks they are visiting just to see him! He has met several friends since the Schechingers moved to Harbor Links last August.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Sizzling at the Beach

The lightning bolt slams into the parking lot as we are unloading our luggage and our precious Trader Joe’s snacks.

A distinct crackling splits the air followed by a thunderous roar.

I like to think of myself as having a level head during emergencies.

This is a figment wrapped in a fantasy tucked into a crock of fabrication.

Do I look at my daughters and bravely bark brilliant orders to lead my platoon to safety?

No.

I fling myself against the minivan, flailing my arms in the air like a 1920s movie starlet fighting off King Kong’s giant hand.

While that hole in my head beneath my nose emits the world’s most offensive vulgarity.

Then I dash forward.

And backward.

And forward again.

Like Super Mario when he singes his buttocks on lava.

That’s when I just look at them, wild-eyed, and scream, “RUN!”

At least that’s what my daughters insist. I have no memory of this. My brain was apparently wiped clean by electroshock therapy.

They shoot off like antelope.

Leaving all five minivan doors open, the luggage strewn everywhere and our Trader Joe’s chocolate covered almonds, the Speculoos cookie butter, the Quinoa and Black Bean Infused Tortilla Chips AND the Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole strewn across the parking lot.

Leaving me alone to throw everything on the bellman’s cart, slam the minivan doors shut and attempt to run, in a straight line, pushing the stupid cart with a hinky wheel as the thunder roars. I hit 30 mph and it wildly skews right and left across the cobblestone lot.

From the perspective of the teenager videoing me from the second floor of the condo complex, I look like am trying to leap onto the back of a rabid bull, wildly trying to buck me, while nearly overturning twice.

In my fear, I have become my crazy Aunt Petronella, born in 1917. During “electrical storms,” Auntie would sit in the middle of the living room with the lights out, rolling her rosary beads, believing that the only thing protecting her from being reduced to ash by Thor’s wrath was the rubber-soled sneaker she clutched in her left hand.

And I think: “I am pushing a large metal cart across a flat, exposed parking lot at the beach. I am going to die.”

Before I have even opened the Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole.

I finally roll up to the front of the beach condo. It sits behind a large, green, ominously smoking electrical transformer box.

My wife is already on the phone to the manager’s office. “Our building has no power. And there’s a big green electrical box outside our front door that’s making sounds like Darth Vader dying.”

“Oh,” the property manager says. “That’s probably a problem.”

Probably.

So there we are. In our beach condo. With no electricity.

It was time for mature, leveler heads to plot a sensible survival strategy.

“We should eat all our snacks immediately so they don’t go bad,” I announce.

The antelopes gather.

“DON’T YOU DARE OPEN ANYTHING!” She Who Controls the Universe seizes the opened guac from me, tosses it in the freezer and slams the door. “NO ONE OPENS THE REFRIGERATOR!”

The antelopes scatter. “But there’s nothing in the refrigerator,” I mutter, walking away. 

I flop onto the bed, getting up once to turn on the ceiling fan, then looking around to make sure no one was videoing me.

She Who Controls the Universe’s head appears in the door. “If the power is not back on by four o’clock, we’re leaving,” she announces.

She disappears to guard the refrigerator.

When the storm passes, I step outside.

An old lady looks up the steps from her first floor condo. She throws her hands on her hips and shoots me a threatening look. “WHEN IS THE POWER RETURN?”

She has a crazy thick accent that might be Russian. Or it might be Spanish. Or Spanglorussian.

“Um,” I say. “I don’t know.”

“AM I SUPPOSE TO JUST STAND HERE WAITING FOR THE POWER RETURN?” she challenges.

Because, in addition to lightning, I’m also a magnet for crazy.

Before I can even figure out how to answer her question, she screams, “CUCARASKAYA!”  

She points to the porch ceiling above me. “CUCARSAKAYA!” She keeps pointing like she’s trying to hurl her hand at me. “GET IT!”

I look up.

There is a four-foot cockroach above my head that also apparently came outside to cool off.

“GET IT!” she screams.

And because I’m a good Irish Catholic boy who would jump off a tall building if an old lady screamed to do it, I actually reach up to “get it.” Then I suddenly remember that grabbing a cockroach is about appealing as drooping a necklace of snakes around my head. 

My hand pulls away. “But it’s outside!” I cry.

“THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK!” she shouts. “GET IT!” 

I shake my empty hands at her. “WITH WHAT?”

We have known each other for 28 seconds and already we’re yelling at each other like we’ve been married 50 years.

She rolls her eyes like I’m the village idiot. “WITH THE SHOE!”

I rip off both my sneakers.

I’m squatted into a proper cockroach fighting posture, holding one of my sneakers like a cell phone when She Who Controls the Universe’s head pokes out the condo door. “If the power is not back on by five o’clock, we’re leaving,” she announces.

But she’s chewing.

“Are you eating my guacamole?” I ask.

The condo door closes.

“GET IT!”

I flail my cell phone sneaker and jump. But it’s out of reach. The cockroach skitters into a corner over the next unit’s door.

Waving her hand, the old lady mutters something in Spanglorussian. But her universal sign language clearly conveys: THERE ARE DEAD CATS THAT ARE MORE USEFUL THAN THIS MAN!

“I WILL GET THE RAID!” she announces.

She disappears then lumbers up the steps. She then gases the both the cockroach and the north half of Longboat Key with a half can of Raid.

The cockroach peels off the ceiling. We both leap back in horror.

“LOOK!” she says, slapping my arm very hard.

I realize I’m still holding my shoes.

“Do you bring a can of Raid on every vacation you take?” I ask.

“OF COURSE!” She nods proudly.

A man clears his throat on the sidewalk below. He extends his hands like he’s holding angry peasants with pitchforks at bay. “Just an ETA on the power thing,” he says. “The power company is out and investigating. We think the lighting probably affected the transformer box.”

The transformer box that is still smoking by his right foot.

“The only problem is that to get their equipment in here to replace the transformer, we’re going to have to take down the tiki hut.”

He nods toward the entrance to the courtyard, where there is actually a tiki hut.

He lets the full weight of the mindboggling engineering challenge of moving four wood posts and a bunch of dead palm fronds sink in.

“So ETA on power is ten o’clock,” he says.

The old lady flails her arms stomps off, clearly conveying: ANOTHER USELESS MALE WHO SHOULD LOSE ALL BREEDING RIGHTS.

I sit on the steps for a while. Three men soon arrive. They commence a careful study the highly complex tiki hut.

When I return to the condo, the entire bag the Quinoa and Black Bean Infused Tortilla Chips has been reduced to crumbs. I shake the empty container of Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole. “You ate all the snacks!” I cry.

“We left you the Rosemary and Thyme Maple Toffee Sunflower Seeds,” the antelopes say.

“I hate the Rosemary and Thyme Maple Toffee Sunflower Seeds!”

“If the power is not back on by six o’clock, we’re leaving.” She Who Controls the Universe says, wiping green stuff from the corners of her mouth.

I go off to Publix to buy a sandwich and lie across the frozen foods for an hour.

When I return, the sun is setting. The old lady is back outside, staring at the three men, who have progressed to vigorously shaking the highly complex tiki hut.

At eight o’clock, the inside of the condo is pitch black.

“If the power is not back on by nine o’clock, we’re leaving,” a voice announces in the dark.

The antelopes titter.

I go outside to check on the progress. The old lady is still glued to her spot. The three men are now moving about the tiki hut with flashlights.

Suddenly, after nearly three hours of studying, conversing and shaking posts, the men whip out saws, decapitate the tiki hut posts at eye level and hurl the tiki hut roof into the bushes.

The old lady looks at me. Her head shakes, conveying through the dark: I WAS RASH IN MY JUDGMENT. YOU ARE NOT THE MOST USELESS MALE ON THE PLANET.

At ten o’clock, I do what people in parts of the world do when they don’t have electricity:

I decide to go to bed.

I shiver through a cold shower with the help of my cell phone light.

Then I lie in bed, wide awake. Because a tractor is now shaking the condo. And dozens of condo rental folks are standing on their balconies, transfixed by installing a transformer.

Because Netflix ain’t workin’.

Meanwhile four children in the adjacent condo stand outside my bedroom window screaming at how disgusting the dead cockroach on our porch is.

I find myself thinking about how an enormous bolt of terrifying power earlier that day had upended so many people’s lives by destroying their access to power.

“DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT COCKROACH, TOMMY!” a little girl shouts. “DON’T YOU, DARE! DON’T YOU THROW THAT—“

A bloodcurdling scream. 

And every single light in the condo blazes on.

A thunderous cheer shakes the courtyard.

The tiki hut morons are suddenly heroes.

I mutter and get up to turn off all the lights.

“They don’t know how lucky they are,” She Who Controls the Universe mutters from bed. “I was just about ready to leave.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso Championship Team Notches Best Flag Coach and Player Awards

Best team. Best coach. Best player.

Now it’s official. Alonso High School’s flag football team reached unparalleled heights in 2018.

About one month after capturing the Class 2A state championship to clinch an unbeaten season, the Florida Dairy Farmers named Alonso’s Matt Hernandez as the state’s Coach of the Year and Ravens quarterback Jazmin Rhoden as the state’s Player of the Year.

“It was already a season none of us will ever forget, but for our program to receive state-wide honors, it makes all the accomplishments even sweeter,’’ Hernandez said.

Hernandez, who led Alonso to the state’s only unbeaten record (17-0), has a career record of 132-37 in 11 seasons with the Ravens.

Rhoden, who is completing her first summer college semester at the University of Central Florida, completed 322 of 490 passes (65.7 percent) for 4,015 yards, 71 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In the state championship game, Rhoden rallied the Ravens from a 7-0 halftime deficit by throwing three second-half touchdown passes in a 19-7 victory.

The teams from Alonso and Robinson (Class 1A state champions) were honored at Tropicana Field on July 9 before the Tampa Bay Rays faced the Detroit Tigers. Rhoden was selected to throw out the first pitch.

“I was really nervous about it and I wanted to practice a few days before,’’ Rhoden said. “Coach (Hernandez) said the (pitching) mound was 60 feet, but I heard 60 yards. So I’m out there wondering why I can’t throw a baseball that far. He had to remind me it was 60 feet.

“The whole thing has just been pretty cool. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about what we accomplished. I have the (state championship) medal in my room (at UCF). It’s going to be a memory that lasts forever.’’

Rhoden said she was surprised to receive the state’s Player of the Year Award (officially known as Florida’s Miss Flag Football).

“People keep telling me, ‘Wow, that’s great! You must have been the best player on your team,’ ‘’ Rhoden said. “I don’t really see it that way. I consider it more of a team award. If I didn’t have so many great receivers and teammates around me, nobody would’ve known about me as a quarterback. So I think it’s something we all should share and feel good about.’’

Hernandez said Rhoden clearly deserved the award because she was the catalyst behind Alonso’s powerful offense.

“She did some absolutely amazing things and was able to put the ball in all the right places for the athletes we had at receiver,’’ Hernandez said. “I think we had a pretty sophisticated offense for the things that we tried to do and Jazmin made it all work.’’

As a coach, Hernandez has added layer upon layer to Alonso’s program, making it almost unrecognizable from the plan that led the Ravens to state runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011.

“We had Carlee North, our quarterback in those years, at our banquet and we told her, ‘If we were anywhere near the coaches that we are now, we definitely would’ve won back then,’ ‘’ Hernandez said. “We do so much with Robinson in our own city, competing against them, that it has led both us to keep pushing the bar and keep getting better.

“Our plays are much more diverse and involved. We’ve just continued to evolve and find ways to compete as the sport has grown. We came close in the past and we were kind of driven to find a way to get to the top. It’s very satisfying that we were able to push through and finally get it done.’’

Hernandez is the department head for Alonso’s business education. He teaches accounting and economics. He considers coaching as an ancillary duty to his primary position.

But it’s much more than a side hobby. By immersing himself in strategy and technique, by working with summertime AAU programs, Alonso’s flag football approach has kept the Ravens at the top of their class. And Hernandez has become one of the game’s sages.

“Our school has done a really good job of embracing the program,’’ Hernandez said. “With flag football being relatively new and not a scholarship sport for college, it’s sometimes treated as a (second-class) sport. At Alonso, everyone is all in with the kids and treating them like the players and athletes they are.

“My style has been adapting to the players as much as possible instead of forcing them into a certain mold. At times, they need correction. But we try to let the players play and just guide them. It all came together perfectly this season.’’

Best team.

Best coach.

Best player.

That’s Alonso flag football.

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Q and A: Social and News Media Sites

We asked residents, “Do you feel that sources of information such as social media and news media are helpful or harmful?”

Oscar and Hildelisa Sarduy, The Shires

We get most of our news from print, The Wall Street Journal and the Tampa Bay Times. I also check the Journal's web site at WSJ.com for breaking news. We don't watch much television, but when we do it's usually the Public Broadcasting Service. It's our preferred source for news. In my opinion they are the most honest and least biased source of news. At least they are less blatant with their opinions. The commercial networks seem to sensationalize everything so that they can get you hooked and make you feel that if you don't watch them you are going to miss really important things.

Ryan and April Nimtz, Brentford

We don't have cable anymore. We found that the cable news channels were not really news channels at all. They were opinion channels with talking heads yelling at each other. We get our news from the Internet and podcasts. We still use Facebook but not for news because it's not a very reliable source. We use Facebook to keep up with family and friends and that's pretty much it.

Leslie Galloway with children, Alexa Galloway and Nick Estrada, Woodbay

I have pretty much given up on mainstream television news watch. I watch a little bit on CNN and Fox just for the news, I don't stick around for the opinion. I was a faithful news watcher a few years ago. I watched Good Morning America every day for 20 years but even that became too much. The political climate in this country has become so volatile. It's like everyone has lost their minds. I just decided to drop out but not totally out. I'm connected enough on social media to know when important things happen. Twitter is good for letting you know about breaking news. If you need or want more information, you can look it up on the Internet. I still enjoy Facebook, but if friends or sites that I follow start pushing a political agenda, I don't have any problem unfriending or blocking them.

Clay Grissom, West Park Village

I get most of my news from social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. I'm not on Facebook. When I watch TV, it's usually Fox but I find that I can't watch it for very long or on a steady basis because it just wears you out. I enjoy listening to podcasts and satellite radio when I'm driving. When something important happens, you will hear about it fast enough and then you can search out more information if you want to.

By Phil Dean

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Crime in 33626: June 2018

Theft of a Vehicle

6/1

10100 Montague St.

Fraud-Credit Card

6/1

12300 Wycliff Pl.

Fraud-Impersonation

6/4

9900 Stockbridge Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

6/4

14600 Coral Berry Dr.

Battery-Simple

6/7

9400 Lakechase Island Wy.

Battery-Simple

6/8

11900 Dietz Dr.

DUI

6/8

12900 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud-Other

6/8

11200 Blacksmith Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

6/10

Countryway Blvd./Woodbay Dr.

Theft Motor Vehicle Parts

6/12

8000 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud-Impersonation

6/12

14700 Waterchase Blvd.

Arson

6/12

12000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Vehicle

6/13

9800 Montague St.

Fraud-Impersonation

6/14

11600 Meridian Point Dr.

Battery-Simple

6/14

10400 Greenhedges Dr.

Grand Theft-All Other

6/14

11600 Sweet Tangerine Ln.

Fraud-Impersonation

6/15

14600 Bournemouth Rd.

Accidental Injury

6/15

9600 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

6/18

10500 Montague St.

Warrant In County

6/18

10500 Montague St.

Burglary Residence/No Force

6/19

13400 Roslyn Pl.

Fraud-Credit Card

6/20

12800 Stanwyck Cr.

Warrant out of County

6/21

9800 New Parke Rd.

Warrant out of County

6/22

Gunn Hwy./Citrus Garden Dr.

Fraud-Impersonation

6/25

10700 Ayrshire Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

6/27

13800 Mccormick Dr.

Curtilage with Theft

6/27

9800 Meadow Field Cr.

Warrant In County

6/28

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Drugs/Narcotics

6/28

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Harassing/Obscene

6/28

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

DUI

6/30

Race Track Rd./Twin Branch Acres Rd.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

2018 CDD Assessments See Significant Declines for 17 Westchase Villages

The Aug. 7 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw supervisors pass their 2018 budget, which will see 17 Westchase subdivisions no longer paying district debt assessments.

CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney stated he had gone through the budget carefully with CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte. He stated they paid particularly close attention to neighborhood specific funds for villages who pay for additional district services for such things as street lights and gates, alley and rights of way maintenance. His goal was to make sure they made sense, said Chesney, and their review led to one reduction.

Homeowners CDD assessments are made up of as much as three different components: debt service, which covers 20-year bonds that paid for Westchase infrastructure and which is paid off in many Westchase villages already; maintenance and operations, which covers costs associated with common areas, parks and ponds; and neighborhood specific funds for gates and private roads. Most non-gated neighborhoods outside of West Park Village do not have neighborhood-specific assessments.

Supervisors stated their goal was to pass a budget that saw no assessment increases. Because of reductions in its neighborhood-specific assessment, however, Harbor Links and The Estates will still see small decreases. Both will see a 1.71 percent overall decline due to a nearly three percent decline in their neighborhood specific fund.

Many villages in The Fords, The Greens and The Bridges will see far steeper decreases as they paid the final year of their debt assessment in the fall of 2017. The table following this article details their last debt payment payments made in 2017. That amount also represents the total expected decline in the neighborhood’s overall CDD assessment in 2018, now that the bonds have been fully paid. In many cases, these neighborhoods’ 2017 debt payments already saw a decrease over the previous 19 years of debt payments due to surplus funds in the villages’ bond accounts, which paid a portion of their 2017 debt bill.

With the complete dropping of these debt payments, the only Westchase neighborhoods still paying off their 20-year infrastructure bonds – and thus continuing to be assessed by the CDD for debt payments – are Greenpoint, Village Green, West Park Village and The Vineyards. All will complete their debt payments in the next few years.

Turning to other matters, CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart announced that the GIS map her company is building of Westchase, at an expected cost of $17,714, was ready to be finalized with the input of data layers supervisors wished that it display. Supervisor Matt Lewis was named the board liaison to work with Stewart to identify the information to be included with the map. The map’s purpose is not only to identify district owned parcels but also quickly illustrate the district’s past maintenance of areas such as ponds.

Stewart also stated that six townhome owners from West Lake Townhomes, including at least one member of its HOA board, had paid their HOA’s landscaper to cut back CDD owned property. West Lake Townhomes’ developer recently transferred that property, adjacent to the community, to the district. Field Supervisor Doug Mays and Stewart identified the areas as upland areas rather than wetlands. The unauthorized cutback, however, did not sit well with supervisors, particularly Supervisor Brian Ross who stated, “Not suggesting something nefarious, but to me it’s somewhat shocking that people think they can go onto property they don’t own and make changes on it.”

While supervisors initially agreed to request insurance information from the West Lake Townhomes HOA board, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she was still working with that HOA on sensitive matters related to a SWFTMD permit governing the land transfer and suggested the action could impede a successful outcome. Instead supervisors agreed that the district would send a letter to all homeowners adjacent to the CDD land making clear its ownership and the district’s intention to protect it from future cutbacks.

Field Supervisor Doug Mays asked supervisors to approve bids to repair two portions of Westchase’s brick walls, one area near The Greens along the canal adjacent to the tennis courts and the other along Countryway Boulevard between Glenfield and Keswick Forest. Mays said The Greens repairs would cost $4,087 and the Countryway repairs would cost $6,827. The board unanimously approved both bids.

Mays also brought a bid for 1,000 feet of cattle fencing and a gate to prevent access to the newly acquired lake between Stonebridge and Sturbridge and West Lake Townhomes. Mays stated the lake has seen individuals pulling trailers with boats to its banks. The fence, he stated, would prevent the trespassing of boats and folks fishing on the lake behind the Westchase homes. Supervisors approved the $5,326 bid 4-1, with Supervisor Barbara Griffith opposed. Griffith stated she did not support the motion based on the fence’s appearance and was not swayed by Mays’ assurances that the fence would soon be hidden by hedges and other growth.

Mays also informed supervisors that the entrance call box to Harbor Links/The Estates on Countryway Boulevard was damaged by a tractor trailer. While insurance is expected to pay for repairs and he added staff was able to stand the box upright so that it could function, Mays said its full replacement would take place over the next few weeks.

Concluding the meeting, Hillsborough County representatives Larry Josephson and Alan Howell of Public Works offered updated plans for the extension of Linebaugh’s northbound turn lane on Sheldon Road. After July’s initial presentation of the project, supervisors requested the county use a landscaped lane divider rather than the suggested full-concrete, low barrier. Howell stated they were able to expand the divider to six feet with five feet of it reserved for landscaping. Supervisors backed Field Supervisor Doug Mays’ choice for plantings and Mays stated he was leaning toward a flowering plant called Dwarf Ixora. Josephson stated the county construction plans for the project would be ready by October, at which time the work would begin. He was unable to give an estimated completion date. Supervisors thanked the county representatives for working with them. As they departed, Mays again requested they work to shorten the proposed turn lane into CVS to preserve more of the Linebaugh median and its trees.

Closing the meeting, the board entertained supervisors’ comments. Supervisor Barbara Griffith encouraged supervisors to consider reaching out to cell phone carriers to offer land for a cell tower in Westchase to improve service. District Manager Andy Mendenhall cautioned, however, that while residents of districts often like the idea of improved service, once a tower location is announced, many residents will show up to meetings to oppose it. CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated she would make some phone calls to explore the issue.

Supervisor Greg Chesney inquired whether the board supported assessing a portion of the expected $140,000 cost for replacing West Park Village’s street and traffic signs to West Park’s commercial property owners. The current neighborhood-specific West Park Village fund, however, simply assesses homeowners. “It would be a lot simpler to just assess the residents,” he said. “Normally I don’t think about it, but it’s a fairly substantial number.”

District Manager Andy Mendenhall stated he would discuss the appropriate possible division of the assessment with his financial team. 

In other actions:

Supervisors discussed actions taken and further steps the district will need to take to ensure the CDD’s web site is ADA compliant.

Supervisor Greg Chesney stated there were no further developments related to the district’s potential purchase of the Westchase Golf Course. He stated he had a meeting with the owner scheduled for mid-August.

Supervisors requested additional bids for pond erosion repair work in West Park Village after seeing a bid for $19,000 from BioMass to repair 220 linear feet of a pond bank.

CDD staff reported that residents of Harbor Links/The Estates were pleased at the recent replanting of landscaping and the installation of landscape lighting at the neighborhood’s Peabody entrance off Countryway Boulevard.

For the meeting, CDD Chair Jim Mills attended telephonically but excused himself at 5:35 p.m. Supervisor Matt Lewis arrived to the meeting, which began at 4 p.m., at 4:45 p.m.

Supervisors adjourned at 5:59 p.m.

Westchase Villages Dropping Bond/Debt Payments in 2018

Village

Last Debt Payment in 2017 (Decline in 2018 Assessment)

Overall Percentage Decrease in CDD Assessment

Greensprings

$583.51

-35.17%

Greencrest

$969.00

-47.39%

Greenhedges

$501.68

-31.81%

Greenmont

$762.00

-41.47%

Greendale

$775.00

-41.88%

Castleford

$313.55

-39.21%

Stamford

$313.55

-39.21%

Baybridge

$250.84

-34.03%

Wakesbridge

$276.08

-36.22%

Abbotsford

$389.00

-44.45%

Chelmsford

$313.55

-39.21%

Brentford

$599.00

-55.20%

Kingsford

$529.00

-52.11%

Stockbridge

$457.00

-48.45%

Sturbridge

$288.31

-37.22%

Stonebridge

$220.25

-23.11%

Woodbridge

$367.00

-43.01%

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Aug. 8, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Four Seats Open in Sept. 11 WCA Board of Directors Election

Have you considered serving your Westchase community as a board member?

On Sept. 11, 2018 the election of four Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors seats will take place at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. Voting members (VMs) will elect the new directors, each of whom is to serve two-year terms. Current WCA directors whose terms expire this year are Brian Ross, Keith Heinemann, Forrest Baumhover and Ruben Collazo.

The WCA Board of Directors is responsible for compliance with all deed restrictions, maintaining both of our swim and tennis centers, and setting WCA policies. Every board member is a volunteer. More detailed descriptions of the board’s role may be found in the Government Primer at the back of WOW or by calling the WCA office at 926-6404.

Any homeowner is eligible to serve and nominate himself or herself, or to nominate another resident they believe would be a good addition to the board. Although not required, experience in Westchase governance, such as serving as a voting member or alternate, as a WCA committee member, or on a sub-association board, is helpful background for board membership.

Florida statutes require new board members to complete a form stating that they have read the association’s Declaration of Covenants, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and current written rules and policies. They also commit to upholding such documents and policies to the best of their ability and to discharge their fiduciary responsibilities to the WCA members in good faith at all times.

If you are interested in WCA Board membership, please prepare a short narrative biography of approximately 250 words for the VMs to review and email it with a high resolution photo to manager@westchasewca.com. Candidates’ photos and biographies, written in narrative form rather than resume form, will be printed in the September WOW if received by the Aug. 10 deadline. Nominations from the floor will also be accepted at the Sept. 11 meeting.

Feel free to reach the WCA office at 926-6404 or manager@wcamanager.com or contact Nominating Committee Chair Rick Goldstein at rick.westchase@gmail.com, with any questions. Rick may also be reached at (813) 920-6470.

By Rick Goldstein, Nominating Committee Chair

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW Wants Your Back-to-School Photos

Westchase’s best and brightest return to school Aug. 10!

And WOW and WOW Northwest want your back-to-school photos to run in our Back to School photo spread in September’s editions. Go ahead and put a reminder on your smartphone calendar right now!

To help make the influx manageable, please observe the following guidelines:

1. By Aug. 12 send your photo of your child or group of children as a high resolution JPEG file attached to an email addressed to editor@westchasewow.com.
2. Be sure that the email’s size is smaller than 10 MB.
3. Do not copy and paste your photo into the email or an attached Word document.
4. Do not let photo software reduce the resolution of your photos for faster upload via email. Photos with low resolution (generally below 300 KB in size) won’t reprint well.
5. To make the photo influx manageable, please send only your best photo of each child or group of children. Please do not send multiple shots of the same children.
6. Please do not send WOW links to photo sites to download your images. WOW staff will be unable to go to the site, register for an account and download the photo.
7. While WOW loves group photos, rather than sending several different photos of your child with two or three different friends in each, please gather them all in a larger, single group for one photo.
8. Often different parents will send in photos of the same bus stop. Please identify the bus stop so we don’t accidentally include two or three photos of the same group.

Thanks for your help in making the Back to School photo spread a success!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, August, 2018: The Importance of Respect

As part of my volunteer job, I listen to complaints all day long. But I have a compliant of my own.

I’ve written about this before. Our young people at our swimming pools are Westchase Community Association (WCA) employees who are trained and authorized to enforce our rules, policies and procedures. They work to ensure the safety, wellbeing and security of our residents who utilize our recreation centers. They are here to serve and help our community. I am therefore at a loss to explain why so many respectable, upper-middle class, mostly college-educated adults in this community feel that it is OK to yell at, argue with, berate and belittle these wonderful young people who are simply performing their duties.

It is plain wrong. While it gives me no pleasure to write this, it’s important for the offenders to understand that the disrespect they are paying to our young staff can no longer be tolerated.

The WCA Board of Directors just approved a new set of rules and policies. One of the new rules gives the association greater discretion to call out misbehavior at our recreation centers. It also empowers us, if necessary, to suspend the use rights of any homeowner or guest that is mistreating the community’s staff. There is obviously a due process clause. Nevertheless, I just wanted to let everyone know that the board believes it’s necessary to offer our staff some protection from the minority of residents who are mistreating them.

Please remember that these wonderful young people are doing their jobs.

Thanks for reading.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Budget Workshop Aug. 29

The meeting where the 2019 WCA budget will be crafted is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Aug. 29.

But I’d like to begin by giving a big thanks to all our patient tennis players, who were very understanding while the association figured out what needed to be done to repair the court cracks at the West Park Village Courts 9 and 10. We are happy to say that the cracks have been patched and courts are now open. While a month may not seem very long, for our active tennis community it may have seemed like a lifetime. Just this morning while parking my car, I noticed that every spot in our parking lot was utilized due to large groups of tennis players. So, if you didn’t know it yet, we are now back in business at the Village courts

On Aug. 29 your association will be hosting its annual budget workshop to review the proposed 2019 budget. If you wish to understand what goes into the preparation and calculation of your annual assessment, this is a great time to learn more about it. It will be hosted at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s activity room at 6 p.m.

At the Aug. 14 Westchase Voting Members meeting a final vote will be taken regarding a revised roofing guideline that will allow specific types of metal roofs within the Westchase HOA. Keep in mind, however, that some neighborhoods have their own restrictions that will supersede the master guideline on roofing. If you wish to see and touch some samples, they are available at the management office located on Parley Drive.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Summer Break Gives Way to Summer

With this WOW we enjoy the last few days before public schools return on Aug. 10.

To mark the occasion, we’ve sharpened some new pencils and have filled this WOW with great back-to-school articles.

For our cover feature, Joey Johnston, our talented sports writer, and James Broome, our amazing photographer, teamed up again to highlight some impressive Alonso athletes to watch in the coming year. James and Joey enjoyed their opportunity to meet and chat with this great group of kids. On page 5 they share what the community will see on the school track, court and field.

July also saw the state of Florida release its school grades. The Westchase area is blessed with some of the very best schools in the state. Our area also has parents who are deeply involved in their children’s schools. Much rides on these tests and the schools’ grades, which can shape residents’ decisions whether to send their children there or embrace other magnet, charter or private options.

WOW, however, doesn’t simply report school grades. Our article on page 44 offers a more comprehensive look at score performance and how it improved or declined for each school compared to last year. A couple of our local schools saw some fine improvement. Most saw minimal change. Three, however, saw some test score decreases that prompted WOW to reach out to discuss them with our local school leaders. We hope our coverage helps bring attention to the positives of Westchase’s great public schools but also arms parents with the information they need to challenge schools to enthusiastically address areas where they might improve.

This school year also brings a notable shift. If your child attends public school, their start times and end times are changing this year. On page 58, we share an article written by Chris Farkas of the Hillsborough School District. He details the changes so that you can prepare your family’s schedules for the shift.

Once your first day back arrives, we’d love your photos of your kids returning to school. On page 56 we offer information on how you can send them to us to run in September’s WOW.

In preparation for September’s WOW, I would also like to request your help. In September we will report the winners of our annual dining survey. From Best Chinese and Best Pizza to Best Sushi and Best Craft Beer, we want to report your favorites. The key to the survey’s success, however, lies with you. Many times the folks filling out the survey fill in the eateries that are geographically closest to their stomachs. How can we ensure that the very best establishments win?

By your participation! You can find the survey here: https://wowmagazine.polldaddy.com/s/wow-2025

.

To thank everyone for completing it, we’ll also randomly select three survey takers names and award them with dinner for two at one of the winning establishments.

Thanks for reading! And, as always, be sure to tell our valued advertisers you saw them in WOW!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Village Voices: The Vineyards

Village Voices: The Vineyards

Greetings, Vineyards residents!  I hope you have been enjoying your summer!

As summer winds down, so is our oak tree pruning/removal project. The next phase of our community beautification project will include tree replacement and enhancing our common areas along the Apple Valley, Chilmark, and Wild Meadow conservation as well as the conservation area along Sierra Vista. The board would like to thank the landscaping committee for all their hard work and recommendations. 

In other good news, the Westchase Voting Members approved The Vineyards’ painting guidelines. Please visit our website (http://www.westchasevineyards.org) for the list of approved colors. 

Hillsborough County students return to school on Friday, Aug. 10. Be on the lookout for more information regarding our back-to-school ice cream social!

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

By Nicole Robertson, Vineyards HOA Secretary

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso: Six Raven Athletes to Watch

Alonso High School is one of Hillsborough County’s largest, so it makes sense that it features a diverse group of students with varying interests.

Athletics has always represented a special part of Alonso’s school culture.

“It’s something that people pay attention to and follow, so we certainly want to be the best we can be on the fields and courts,’’ Alonso principal Kenneth Hart said. “They work awfully hard in their sports and in the classroom. We’re really proud of the accomplishments of our student-athletes.’’

It will be a difficult act to follow at Alonso because last year brought a fast-finishing 5-5 football team that prompted optimism, double district champions in boys and girls basketball, a state champion team in flag football, plus plenty of individual accolades.

As the curtain is raised on the 2018-19 school year, here are some Alonso athletes to watch. Some names are familiar. Others might be more unknown. But they are certain to have something special to offer.

SAGER CAVALIER

Around campus, he’s already well-known as a shooting star. Some students actually address him as “LeBron.’’

“I just laugh that off,’’ Cavalier said. “I don’t talk about my basketball—ever. I think it’s better that other people talk about my game instead of me talking about it. I just want to stay in the background. I mean, LeBron? Come on.’’

Then again, his last name is “Cavalier’’—as in the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that LeBron James once led to an NBA championship.

“Yeah, I root a little bit for the Cavaliers,’’ Cavalier said with a laugh. “Everybody loves a winner, right?’’

Right.

Alonso’s boys basketball team had that distinction last season. The Ravens were 21-7 and captured the Class 9A-District 6 title—the first district title in program history—by defeating Sarasota Riverview 65-54 in the championship game.

Cavalier, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound forward, was powerful in the clutch with 30 points and 12 rebounds. And as the final seconds ticked away, assuring that a new banner would be hung in Alonso’s gymnasium, Cavalier sprinted to join Coach Todd Price near the bench.

They shared a joyful embrace, then jumped up and down in glee. That scene made for a memorable photograph in the Tampa Bay Times.

“It’s one of those feelings you’re never going to forget, a lifetime feeling,’’ Cavalier said. “Not many teams get to feel that and we were the first Alonso boys basketball team to feel it. It was amazing.’’

The same adjective can be used to describe Cavalier’s season. After averaging about seven points a game as a sophomore, he jumped to 19.9 as a junior. “You never see somebody increase their scoring average by 12 points like that,’’ Price said. “So Sager’s impact was enormous.’’

Cavalier, whose first name is pronounced Suh-gear, had a career-high 39 points during the regular season. He was a matchup nightmare for opponents—too quick to be defended by a post player, too powerful to be stopped by a smaller guard.

“I think my understanding of the game has grown and my role has gotten bigger,’’ Cavalier said. “I’ve worked harder on my game. I’ve worked out. I’ve just gotten better.’’

Cavalier’s parents were born in Haiti. His first name is French and it means “wise and kind.’’

“I definitely think I have acquired some wisdom throughout high school because it has been a learning experience,’’ Cavalier said. “I have grown and changed. I really want to have a great senior year. I’m determined to be a better basketball player and an even better person.’’

JAEL FELIZ

After last season’s football opener, when Alonso stunned Sickles, Feliz went to the doctor for what was believed to be a broken left hand.

Doctor: “You need to be out for six to eight weeks.’’

Feliz: “With all due respect, I’d like a second opinion.’’

At first glance, there have always been varying opinions about Felix, who entered Alonso as a smallish, underachieving running back.

Now he’s a 6-foot, 215-pound linebacker—unquestionably the heart and soul of the Ravens—and a player who rarely gets doubted these days.

Last season? Despite the doctor’s recommendation, Feliz missed just one game. He played with a wrap on his left hand, a club of sorts, and still performed at an all-star level.

His career has been a maze of contradictions—and confusion. Brian Emanuel was his head coach for two seasons. Then it was Reggie Crume in 2017. After Crume’s departure for Calvary Christian, now it’s former assistant Ron Perisee, elevated to the top job.

Four seasons, three head coaches.

“It has been tough,’’ Feliz said. “It’s very hard not having the consistency you want. Every time we got a new head coach, I’ve tried to be the guy who was the consistency of Alonso. At least you knew that Jael Feliz was back.

“Honestly, I think Coach P (Perisee) will give us consistency. He cares about the program more than anybody I know. I think he’ll definitely turn the program around. It starts with the seniors. We want this season to translate for the rest of Alonso history. When Alonso is contending for state championships, we want to know that we got it started, we had a hand in that.’’

Feliz, entering his fourth varsity season at Alonso, figures to make a name for himself.

And speaking of names?

Jael?

It’s pronounced Jay-El.

“My mother said she got it from the Bible,’’ Feliz said. “My theory is it’s a combination of the names of my aunt and uncle—Janet and Noel—my mother’s sister and brother. My mother said, ‘I never thought of it that way.’

“I have never actually met another person named Jael. I’ve seen the name before, but it’s always of somebody who lives in another country or halfway around the world. I think I’m kind of unique.’’

Feliz expects a big season. He competed in track and field last spring, hoping to boost his speed and quickness. He continues to be a demon in the weight room, where he squats 450 pounds. And his leadership is unquestioned.

“Even when things haven’t been great, we have been relentless,’’ Feliz said. “There’s no quit in our team. We want this program back where it belongs. With the seniors, we know that will start with us.’’

CONOR MCNAIR

McNair, a resident of The Bridges, has had several memorable moments in his three seasons of varsity baseball with Alonso. None were bigger than his home run against Treasure Coast in the 2017 region quarterfinals. And, of course, there was the 2016 run to the Class 9A state final four when he was a freshman.

“It’s hard to get so far in the playoffs and not be able to finish it out,’’ McNair said. “There are so many great players in Tampa and Florida in general. They all have that same goal. Coming up short leaves a nasty taste in your mouth.’’

Shortly after last season’s 1-0, 11-inning defeat at Vero Beach in the region quarterfinals, McNair plunged into preparation for his senior season.

He has been working at Tampa’s Baseball University, which emphasizes practice and preparation instead of voluminous summer games. McNair is confident that focus will give him a shot at a prominent role this season.

“I definitely feel good about it,’’ said McNair, who has a 3.4 grade-point average and hopes to pursue a career in some form of sports science, perhaps physical therapy. “I feel like I’ve worked on my craft and gotten a lot better as a player.

“Baseball teaches you character, being able to work in a group and a strict work ethic. These are all things you need to succeed. I want to put myself in the best possible position so I can help my team.’’

McNair said he primarily thinks of himself as a third baseman, so he’s shooting for playing time at that position. He’s also a capable outfielder and first baseman.

“I like being versatile, but if I could lock into one spot and be that person, that would make for an ideal senior year,’’ McNair said. “I’m excited for it and hope it will go really well. I’m not sure where the time went. It seems like just yesterday I was walking into this giant school as a freshman and now I have just one year left. It went fast.’’

McNair began playing competitive baseball at Keystone Little League when he was 5. He has always loved baseball, particularly the game’s strategy and its mental side.

When McNair was 9 and walking home from Westchase Elementary School, he stopped by the former Starbucks location in West Park Village. Sitting outside was Derek Jeter, the Tampa resident and Yankee legend.

McNair pulled out some paper from his elementary-school agenda and asked for an autograph. Jeter obliged, even asking, “How is your day going?’’

When McNair gets the opportunity to play baseball, it’s always a good day. He’s relishing his final opportunity at Alonso and wants it to be the most memorable chapter yet.

MADDIE MULLINS

Mullins enters her senior year knowing it will difficult to equal the accomplishments of 2017-18.

She was a starting cornerback on Alonso’s unbeaten Class 2A state championship team in flag football.

“It was an amazing experience,’’ Mullins said. “I will always remember winning state. I will always reflect back on those moments. I know that hard work pays off.

“Of course, I’d like to do it again.’’

Repeating can be a tough proposition, though. Mullins said she knows the Ravens have lost plenty of great players. But she also knows what’s required for a successful journey.

“Whether it’s sports, academics or any kind of worthwhile activity, you have to be dedicated,’’ said Mullins, who also plays club soccer for Tampa Bay United. “I’m in leadership classes and involved in a lot of community service. I’m usually very busy, so it’s important to organize my time.’’

Mullins, who has a 5.6 weighted grade-point average, is president of Alonso’s National Honor Society as well as a member of the school’s Beta Club.

She plans to pursue a medical career—maybe in orthopedics because of her sports interest—and is currently doing an internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“I’m excited for what’s ahead of me as a senior,’’ Mullins said. “I think it’s going to be fun.

“In a way, I think we’re all still thinking about winning that state title. That feeling won’t go away. We’re going to get (championship) rings and that’s a great thing to know that I was part of something big at the school. I don’t really seek the spotlight, but I won’t forget being part of that. I’d love to have that feeling again.’’

MIA RAFFAELE

She’s versatile. That’s a good way to describe Raffaele, a resident of The Fords and an elite student-athlete.

She makes all A’s (her weighted grade-point average is 6.16). Pretty much, when she attempts a sport, success is sure to follow.

Raffaele was a standout gymnast in her early years. Since age 7, she has participated in 5-kilometer races. She has competed in stand-up paddle-boarding, where she generally places first in her age group and has been sponsored by a Michigan company.

“It has all been fun,’’ Raffaele said. “I wouldn’t say I’m completely fearless, but I’m not afraid to try new things or adapt to become good at them. I like to have new experiences.’’

At Alonso she began with a focus on cross country, where she was named the program’s newcomer of the year as a sophomore.

Last season she began track and field, mostly competing in the 100-meter hurdles and pole vault. She earned a regionals berth in the hurdles, finishing seventh, and compiling a personal-best time of 16.42 (Alonso’s school record is 16.15). In the pole vault, a complicated discipline that requires athleticism and nerve, she improved to a top vault of 8 feet, 10.25 inches (Alonso’s school record is 9 feet).

“I would like to leave Alonso with the school record in both of those events,’’ Raffaele said. “I’m excited about track and field because there are so many different events. It’s not just running. It’s fun. And I’m looking forward to improving.’’

Raffaele said athletics are just part of her Alonso experience. She’s determined to excel academically—and that will drive her decision on where to attend college. She’s considering the University of Miami and Vanderbilt University, among others.

Even if college athletics aren’t in her future, recreational sports will probably always be part of her life.

“I like being active and being a well-balanced person,’’ Raffaele said. “I don’t really have my life completely figured out yet and I’m not quite sure about my major in college. I’m trying to experience as much as possible. In time, I think it becomes clear what you want to focus on, what you really love.’’

CHRISTINA RODRIGUEZ

She will become a four-year varsity starter in soccer, a tenacious defender who provides energy and passion for the Ravens. But she also serves as a rusher/running back for Alonso’s Class 2A state champions in flag football.

All in all, athletics have been great for Rodriguez.

“I think playing sports have helped to develop me as a person,’’ said Rodriguez, a resident of Sheffield. “I have made so many different friends through my teams and I’m grateful for that. It has helped me stay in shape and I realize the importance of staying healthy throughout my life.

“I think I’m going to stop playing (after high school) and concentrate on the academic side of college. But I’m always going to have great memories.’’

Rodriguez said one of her fondest memories was playing Alonso soccer as a freshman, when she was guided by a collection of senior team leaders.

Now she is that senior.

And she can’t wait for that.

“Sometimes, when you’re new to a team or just starting out, you need someone to look up to,’’ said Rodriguez, who’s considering USF or FSU as a future destination, where she might major in nursing. “I think that will be fun to be one of those people. I want to be a role model, someone the others can look up to and maybe give advice about school or anything.

“I’m more the type to lead by example instead of being the loudest person in the room. But I think I can lead.’’

That’s obvious, when considering Rodriguez’s spot in the Beta Club, the National Honor Society, the Anchor Club and her 5.3 grade-point average.

She’s hopeful of another state-championship run in flag football and continued improvement in soccer.

Mostly, though, she wants to continue the same feelings that began when she first started kicking around a soccer ball in the backyard with her father.

“I think everybody wants to win and have some individual success,’’ Rodriguez said. “But I think the things that stick with you are the memories you make and the fun that you have.’’

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Public Notice of Guideline Changes

At their Aug. 14 meeting, Westchase Voting Members will consider a community-wide change to roofing material rules and a neighborhood specific paint guideline amendment for The Reserve at West Park Village

Community-Wide Roof Materials Guideline Amendment

VMs will consider a change to the community-wide roofing guideline, affecting all Westchase homes. The proposed changes appear below in italics within the existing guideline’s wording. To be approved, a community-wide guideline must be approved by VMs representing 66 percent of Westchase homes at two consecutive meetings.
The change to the existing roofing materials guideline follows:

Composition

Roofs must be composition dimensional, fungus resistant fiberglass shingles, clay or cement tile, stone coated metal, or slate (If proper architectural modifications have been made). Other types of metal roofing are allowed as long as they give the appearance of shingle, tile, slate or shakes (a.k.a. wood). See INSG for any additional restrictions. All other roofing materials including, but not limited to, wood, copper and sheet metal Key West style roofs (also known as standing seam or vertical panel roofs) are not allowed.

Specifications

Roofs must meet Florida Product Approval (FPA). Energy Star rating, impact resistance, and stain resistance are desirable features. All roofs must carry a manufacturer’s warrantee of at least, or in excess of, 30 years.

Colors

Roofs must be solid colored or mildly variegated. All colors must be black or soft, muted earth tones or neutrals. A subdued shade of Mediterranean red is acceptable for tile style roofs only.

Styles

Styles of roofs may be: conventional dimensional shingle; designer shingle; barrel, flat, or boosted mortar tile; shingles whose style mimics gives the appearance of wood (a.k.a. shakes) or slate; and metal roofing whose style gives the appearance of shingle, wood (a.k.a. shakes), slate or tile. There are no restrictions on shape and oversized tabs may be used.

Proposed Paint Palette Guideline for The Reserve at West Park Village

To be adopted as the color palette for Building 4 of The Reserve (the new David Weekley Townhomes behind Fifth-Third Bank, a supermajority of VMs will have to approve the following colors for its units at their Aug 14 and Sept. 11 meetings. The paint swatch numbers reference Sherwin-Williams (SW) colors:

Lot 1/Block 3/Building 4 (9571 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Mocha (SW 6067); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed {SW 6328).

Lot 2/Block 3/Building 4 (9569 Cavendish Drive): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Modern White (SW 6168); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 3/Block 3/Building 4 (9567 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Bracing Blue (SW 6242); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 632.S).

Lot 4/Block 3/Building 4 (9565 Cavendish Dr.): Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Halcyon Green (SW 6213); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

Lot 5/Block 3/Building 4 (9563 Cavendish Dr.) Stucco: Divine White (SW 6105); Siding: Butter Up (SW 6681); Trim: Pure White (SW 7005); Front Door: Fireweed (SW 6328).

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

August’s Irish 31 Thankful for Your Neighbor Award Winner: Joseph Ziarno

As a Florida native, respect for nature is engrained in West Park’s Joseph Ziarno.

That’s why he didn’t hesitate to recently jump into his neighborhood pond to fish the trash out of it.

West Park Village resident Joseph Stafford nominated by his neighbor for the award. Stafford caught Ziarno on video standing in the pond behind their homes, pulling garbage out of the water. "That's a great resident there…cleaning out all of that trash," said Stafford in his video. Stafford later added, “It’s clearly evident that he really cares about our neighborhood and what it represents.”

Ziarno lives in West Park Village with his wife Alycia and daughter Emma, 12. The couple moved to Westchase in 2009.

Service has been a key component in Ziarno’s career. He served over 24 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a master sergeant a few years ago. “I’m a stay at home dad right now,” he said.

What inspired him to clean out the pond?

“You know. I’m a native Floridian. I grew up in South Florida. It doesn’t take much time to pick up after yourself,” he said.

The pond he cleaned out is adjacent to West Park’s apartments and a lot of trash makes its way from the complex into the water. “You can complain all you want but sometimes you have to take action yourself,” he said.

Ziarno cited a lesson learned during his Army days. “If it doesn’t grow, pick it up. It doesn’t take too long. Ten, fifteen minutes,” he added.

WOW thanks and congratulates Joseph Ziarno for being a Good Neighbor. Joseph received a $50 gift certificate, courtesy of Irish 31. Thanks, Irish 31!

Nominate a Good Neighbor!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Tennis Player Sees Success in National Tournament

One of our Westchase junior tennis players, Fernando Bauermeister, was able to compete in a National Tournament in Mississippi in July.

Fernando played in the Boys 14’s division in both singles and doubles, against some of the best juniors in the nation.

After 10 hard-fought matches over three days, Fernando won the consolation draw for singles and was a finalist for doubles! Fernando has been training with Westchase Coach Roberto Calla and is very grateful for the opportunity to train at Westchase!

By Kelly Shires

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Real Estate Round Up: May 2018

Address

Sale
Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full
Baths

Half

Baths

Living
Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10005 Tate Ln.

225,000

18

176.33

2

2

1

1,276

N

9812 Brompton Dr.

255,000

6

183.98

3

2

1

1,386

N

9857 Bridgeton Dr.

288,000

12

186.53

2

2

0

1,544

N

12115 Glencliff Cir.

312,800

45

149.24

3

2

0

2,096

Y

11847 Derbyshire Dr.

315,000

77

172.13

3

2

0

1,830

N

10106 Sadler Way

336,000

16

217.34

2

2

0

1,546

N

11819 Easthampton Dr.

351,000

0

179.08

3

2

0

1,960

Y

11724 Derbyshire Dr.

365,000

39

206.10

3

2

0

1,771

Y

12318 Ashville Dr.

380,000

111

172.10

4

3

0

2,208

N

11713 Derbyshire Dr.

399,900

28

199.15

4

2

0

2,008

Y

12432 Bristol Commons Cir.

412,000

72

165.59

4

3

0

2,488

Y

9618 Gretna Green Dr.

420,000

22

188.85

4

3

0

2,224

N

10760 Tavistock Dr.

425,000

3

177.16

4

3

0

2,399

Y

9917 Bridgeton Dr.

430,000

11

178.72

4

2

1

2,406

N

12011 Wandsworth Dr.

445,000

1

182.38

4

3

0

2,440

Y

11903 Keating Dr.

450,000

1

185.03

4

3

0

2,432

Y

10139 Belgrave Rd.

452,500

3

209.59

4

2

0

2,159

N

10321 Lightner Bridge Dr.

453,000

15

186.04

4

3

0

2,435

Y

10210 Newington Pl.

487,000

3

192.87

4

3

0

2,525

Y

10501 Castleford Way

520,000

13

179.62

4

4

0

2,895

Y

9626 W Park Village Dr.

530,000

39

162.58

4

3

1

3,260

N

10501 Gretna Green Dr.

560,000

79

179.26

5

4

0

3,124

Y

10418 Greenhedges Dr.

564,900

1

212.69

4

3

0

2,656

Y

10540 Greencrest Dr.

580,000

21

169.74

5

4

0

3,417

Y

Highland Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14614 Galt Lake Dr.

860,000

0

238.56

4

4

1

3,605

Y

11632 Ecclesia Dr.

345,000

1

184.10

3

2

1

1,874

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11208 Cavalier Pl.

390,000

4

190.52

3

2

0

2,047

Y

11244 Blacksmith Dr.

430,000

8

152.54

5

3

0

2,819

N

11672 Renaissance View Ct.

475,000

4

168.50

4

3

0

2,819

N

11610 Greensleeve Ave.

325,000

204

157.54

3

2

0

2,063

N

West Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12833 Stanwyck Cir.

509,000

4

171.61

4

3

0

2,966

Y

14120 Lincolnshire Ct.

550,000

2

171.98

5

4

0

3,198

Y

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12215 Coldstream Ln.

305,000

2

173.49

3

2

0

1,758

N

11248 Cypress Reserve Dr.

295,000

1

191.56

3

2

0

1,540

N

11308 Cypress Reserve Dr.

328,000

35

186.58

3

2

0

1,758

N

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12838 Tar Flower Dr.

465,000

26

174.81

4

3

0

2,660

Y

12516 Loquat Way

355,000

3

155.77

3

3

0

2,279

Y

12502 Blazing Star Dr.

332,900

21

193.55

3

2

0

1,720

N

12509 Deerberry Ln.

410,000

4

170.69

3

2

1

2,402

Y

14324 Moon Flower Dr.

375,000

7

148.87

4

2

1

2,519

Y

14302 Moon Flower Dr.

400,000

1

181.32

4

3

0

2,206

Y

Windsor Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11208 Windsor Place Cir.

197,500

16

155.27

2

2

1

1,272

N

11243 Windsor Place Cir.

238,000

9

141.41

2

2

1

1,683

N

Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Erin Piacitelli

An early love of robotics inspired 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar Erin Piacitelli.

The daughter of Andrea and Matt Piacitelli of The Greens, Erin Piacitelli graduated Middleton High School with a 7.16 GPA and completed 302 hours of community service. She will be studying biomechanical engineering at Georgia Tech.

Illustrating her commitment to academics, Erin took a host of engineering and computer courses in addition to at least 10 honors level and 13 AP courses.

An Honors student, she was named AP Scholar with Distinction and placed first in Computer Integrated Manufacturing at the 2017 Technology Student Association National Conference and was a three-time competitor at the annual FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships.

Outside of the classroom she served as Middleton Robots Club President and FRC team co-captain as well as Chair of Outreach for Middleton's Society of Women Engineers. She served as a member of Technology Student Association, a member of Society of Manufacturing Engineers and a member of National Technical Honor Society.

Also an athlete, she played varsity volleyball all four years and served as co-captain of Middleton’s volleyball team two of those years.

Piacitelli made robotics the focus of her community service by working in and establishing programs with middle and elementary schools to introduce girls to STEM careers. She organized a partnership with Lockhart Elementary where students in her Society of Women Engineers club assisted students researching their STEM Fair projects while encouraging girls to pursue STEM studies.

Wrote Richard Berglund, one of her mentors on the robotics team, “Erin’s commitment to community service is unparalleled and she exhibits them at outreach activities and general volunteer work,” He continued, “She understands that service to others is the best way to reach and influence young people.”

Berglund added, “Erin is one of those rare kids who displays great maturity far beyond her peers, a trait seldom seen in today’s youth. Erin knows what she wants out of life and works deliberately to achieve those goals. She will succeed and thrive in [her] college community.”

Congratulations to Lauren, whom we wish the best of luck at Georgia Tech!

By Chris Barrett; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Spice Kitchen Serves Up Contemporary Indian Cuisine

There is a new restaurant in town and it is unlike anything else in the area.

Spice Kitchen opened in mid-June in the shopping center at the corner of Race Track Road and Countryway Boulevard. Owners Sanjay and Shweta Verma and Inder and Navi Gill are close friends who share the same love for Indian cuisine and passion about dining experiences. “Every time we get together, our conversations are all centered around food,” said Shweta. “We had been looking for the right spot to open our restaurant and were very excited when the opportunity came up in the Westchase area.”

In just 10 days, with help from Gilmore Interiors, Shweta said they, “spruced up the restaurant to make it bright and inviting while adding new chandeliers and Indian artwork.”

Spice Kitchen serves authentic North-Indian cuisine, as well as fusion dishes that were created by Sanjay, who has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant business. One fusion dish that Shweta calls the “ultimate comfort food” is Poutine Delhi Style – masala fries topped with butter chicken gravy. The fusion menu also features a Naan Burrito and Chicken Tikka Sliders.

Instead of the traditional Indian buffet that many may associate with Indian restaurants, Spice Kitchen serves Thali, which is a selection of the most popular dishes from the menu—all served on a traditional Indian platter. The Thali is a weekday lunch special, available with vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes. Shweta says that the Thali is an excellent choice for diners who love trying a variety of dishes and that, “it is also a good starter for someone not familiar with Indian food.”

The restaurant has a full bar. All draft beers are from local breweries including Wild Rover, Tampa Bay Brewing Company and Cigar City Brewing. Shweta says that the entire beer and wine selection is a result of tastings that were conducted to find which ones would pair best with Indian food.

Spice Kitchen also has a special brunch menu that is available on the weekends and includes dishes from the streets of New Delhi.

Spice Kitchen Indian Cuisine is located at 11653 Countryway Blvd. For more information, visit http://www.spicekitchentampa.net

.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

More Westchase Candidates File to Run in Elections

Recent weeks have seen more twists in local political races than a season of Game of Thrones.

While one Westchase-area candidate dropped out of her race, two others threw their hats into the ring in mid-June.

May’s WOW featured articles about Greens resident Todd Marks and Bridges resident Heather Kenyon Stahl. Marks had announced he was running for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners while Stahl announced she was taking on incumbent Florida House Representative Jamie Grant.

Flash forward six weeks and all that has changed.

District 64, Florida House

On May 22 Stahl surprised her volunteers and supporters by dropping out of the race. Citing a recent health scare that left her husband in need of care and solid health insurance, Stahl stated, “Over the past month I have obtained a new job which provides great health benefits and allows me to work from home.” Stating the job would make her unable to spend three months in Tallahassee for the legislative session, she added, “Being able to work from home allows me the ability to be there if he needs me.”

District 1 and District 7, County Commission

Meanwhile a June 8 announcement by County Commissioner Sandra Murman scrambled political races for District 1, which represents the Westchase area, and District 7, a county-wide seat.

Facing term-limits in her current District 1 seat in 2020, Murman had previously filed to run this year for the county-wide District 7 seat on the county commission. To do so, Murman, however, would have had to resign from her current seat, triggering an election for a replacement for the District 1 spot.

Expecting her to run, Greens resident Todd Marks had announced he was running for District 1, along with another Republican and a sole Democrat.

On June 8, however, Murman took everyone by surprise by announcing she would remain in her District 1 seat until its term ends in 2020.

With Murman no longer clearing the field in District 7, a horde of other candidates filed to run for the county-wide seat in the following days. They included Marks, a Republican, and his original Republican primary competitor for District 1, Aakash Patel. As of mid-June they were slated to face off for the Republican nomination with Cherie Denham, who has raised a fraction of the funds Patel and Marks have.
Murman’s announcement, however, also triggered new candidates on the Democratic side of that commission race.

West Park Village resident Ramond Chiaramonte, the executive director of Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) immediately announced he would run on the crowded Democratic primary, which will also see Democrats Mark Nash, the former legislative aide of County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, as well as Charles Davis, III, Kimberly Overman, Corey Reynolds and Sky White.

“I am running for the Hillsborough Countywide District 7 commission seat because I feel that we are at a critical time in our history when it is time to move forward now with transit alternatives that make sense both financially and in practicality to serve our community,” said Chiaramonte in his announcement. “If we are going to continue our prosperity and growth as a community we need to face the reality that things are only going to get worse without addressing our transportation issues. 

Chiaramonte added, “I feel in my roles as Executive Director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Planning Commission, and Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority I am in a unique position to provide a positive direction toward a brighter future for Hillsborough County.”

Chiaramonte and Marks are the first residents of Westchase to run for the Hillborough Board of County Commissioners. If both won their primaries, they would face off in November’s General Election, ensuring a Westchase resident eventually held the seat.

Hillsborough School Board, District 1

June’s deadline for current officeholders to file resignations to run for other offices brought another surprise. Current School Board Member Susan Valdes, who represents Town N Country, Egypt Lake, Westchase and areas north, belatedly stated she would resign in November to run for state house seat encompassing her Town N Country home. Her announcement triggered a new election for her district this year.

In reaction, Egypt Lake resident Bill Person, a school teacher and former school district administrator who lost to Valdes in a squeaker in 2016, suggested he might shift from his current District 6 county-wide race to the smaller District 1 race.
In mid-June Westwood Lakes resident Steve Cona, who previously ran for the County Commission as a Republican, also announced he was running for the non-partisan seat. Cona is president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.

Cona stated, “As a school board member, I will work to ensure our students are prepared to be career and college ready. As a father, I want to ensure we are utilizing all of our current resources to provide the best learning environments for our students. My expertise and experience will provide a fresh set of eyes and solutions to build the best school district in the country.”

Filing deadlines are June 22 and more candidates may have filed to run after WOW’s mid-June deadline.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Great Summer Reading at Minimal Cost

Summer is here and many of you enjoy having books to read on your travels, as well as while relaxing at home.

The Gazebo Bookstore in the library is run by members of the Friends of the Library, a nonprofit volunteer organization. Proceeds from the sale of books, DVDs and CDs in the store fund many wonderful library programs for all age groups. So while you are spending, you are supporting your community too!

The bookstore is open whenever the library is. You may find a volunteer when you come in, but we rely on the honor system. Most items are in good to great condition for generally $2 and less. Small paperbacks are just 50 cents. Most children’s books are $1 and less. It’s the same pricing as when we opened in 2005. We need to sell a lot of books at these prices to obtain the $13,000 we agreed to spend for programming this year.

Without more volunteers it is difficult to have huge all-day book sales, but we announce and hold Pop-Up Sales and special events on our Facebook Page: Friends of the Maureen B. Gauzza Library. You’ll recognize the beautiful gazebo that’s in front of the library as our profile photo. Do like and follow us. Share our posts with your Facebook friends as the Maureen B. Gauzza Library supports the area beyond just Westchase.

The Friends always need members and bookstore volunteers, but if your interests include public relations, social media, graphic design, merchandizing, fundraising or leadership, I’d love to hear from you. Send a message through Facebook or email me at friendsmgl2017@gmail.com.

Bobbie Muir is president of the Friends of the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library.

By Bobbie Muir

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD Supervisors to Golf Course Owner: Ball’s in Your Court

At their June 4 workshop, Westchase CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney briefed his board on his efforts to negotiate a purchase and sale contract with Westchase Golf Course owner Nick Neubauer.

Chesney stated of Neubauer, “He kind of stopped the conversation.”

In May, supervisors sent back Neubauer’s proposed purchase and sale agreement with a number of changes.

At issue, according to Chesney, was the CDD’s requests that Neubauer purchase the current leased equipment to transfer it to the district, that he establish an escrow account to cover costs associated with issues discovered after the purchase and that he commit to maintain the course as a first class facility during the transaction.

Further detailing the growing costs of the transaction and deferred maintenance discovered by a golf course specialist’s property review, Chesney added he was disinclined to offer any concession to move the deal forward absent a formal counter from Neubauer. “I learned early in my career you don’t negotiate against yourself,” he said.

The end result?

While supervisors expressed an openness to return to the negotiation table should Neubauer offer a counter, they felt, under the current circumstances, it was disadvantageous to the district to continue pursuing the purchase at this time.

Chesney stated that Neubauer left him with the impression that the owner felt the $4 million purchase price, contained in their Letter of Intent, was for the purchase of the course as is.

Chesney, however, pointed out that the due diligence report, done by golf course specialist Greg Christovich after the signing of the letter, had found significant deferred maintenance. A review of the course’s financials also found that the course had lost $800,000 in the last five years, with the most recent loss being $152,000 in a year that the course made no new capital expenditures.

While supervisors have purposefully not taken possession of the full report from Christovich to keep it out of public record (where a potential rival purchaser could request it, thus acquiring the due diligence discoveries on the district’s dime),

Chesney requested that Christovich provide a memo that detailed his main findings. That memo stated, in part, “If operated in the manner as it is currently, the golf operation going forward will continue to perform at below break-even levels, and the existing deferred maintenance issues will become more acute over time.”

The memo stated that Christovich had found deferred maintenance and repair issues totaling $383,000. In addition, it stated an additional half million dollars would be needed to make the course profitable again.  “The estimated capital improvement requirement to reposition the club operation to a higher level of quality in the competitive market totals approximately $914,000 in the first two years of operation,” he wrote.

Adding in costs for financing and the district annexing the golf course property, Chesney stated, “The transaction becomes a lot more expensive.”  Pointing out that the $4 million price for the course would quickly rise above $5 million, he added, “Then it becomes a very expensive golf courses to operate.”

When pressed by supervisors, Chesney added about pursuing the purchase without a counter from Neubauer, “I would feel uncomfortable.” He added, “It’s going to make it hard to make it profitable.”

When Ross asked if it was his recommendation that the board take no further action until he heard back from Neubauer, Chesney responded, “Yes.”

Ross concurred. “That would be my suggested course of action as well,” he stated. “My experience is when someone cuts you off, it doesn’t get better.”

Ross and Supervisor Jim Mills acknowledged that they did expect the due diligence to discover deferred maintenance which they were open to negotiating over. “I always thought we were going to sink money into it,” said Ross. “I’m not shocked by the numbers.”

Ross added that many of the concerns Neubauer had with the district’s purchase and sale agreement could probably be negotiated to the satisfaction of both parties.

Nevertheless, both Mills and Ross it wasn’t advantageous to the district to pursue the purchase further if Neubauer had declined to offer a counterproposal to their purchase and sale agreement, which didn’t even address the maintenance issues.

“I have no problem with walking away from the transaction,” Ross said. Reminding everyone that it has always been his goal to avoid a bad outcome, he added, “I don’t see a good outcome as one where one of us is going to take his toys and go home.”

“I agree,” said Chesney about the potential for successful negotiations, “but I would expect the deferred maintenance to be covered.”

Chesney then detailed one of Christovich’s significant findings: that the golf course’s irrigation pump house was not only in need of complete replacement, its floor was verging on a dangerous collapse. “It not only needs to be repaired soon, it is unsafe,” Chesney said. “That’s a six figure item right there alone. I expect that to be paid.”

Chesney stated of Neubuaer, “The avenue he kept coming back to was ‘What’s my downside?’” Chesney stated Nuebauer’s current lease with Green Golf Partners, the company running the course, guarantees him a payment and protects him from major losses.

He added that, in his conversation, Neubauer also played the development card. While most of the course’s fairways and greens, which sit between homes in The Greens and Harbor Links/The Estates, are too narrow to be developed with houses and roads, Neubauer said he could develop the larger, open parcel fronting Linebaugh Avenue and said he could make $3.9 million from their sale, while still leaving him with the remaining course acreage.

“I said, ‘That’s if you think you can get it developed,’” commented Chesney, stating any attempt to get the land rezoned from golf course to residential would likely trigger vast number of Westchase residents to flood the county center for meetings.

“That suggests to me that he’s starting to read social media around here,” said Mills. “I don’t think it’s something realistically that could get rezoned.”

Mills pointed out the course’s significant losses over the last five years. “That’s why he couldn’t sell to a golf course [operator].”

“He threw that [development threat] out, quite frankly I think, as a negotiating ploy,” said Chesney.

Citing the continued losses under the current lease that has Green Golf Partners running the course, Chesney wondered how long the group could continue operations with a $150,000 annual loss. He pointed out that, while he was unsure who was responsible for paying them, the golf course’s $74,000 property tax bill for 2017 was still unpaid.

Chesney also added that his personal visits to the course have made him concerned about the course’s drainage. Present at the meeting, Harbor Links resident Dale Sells concurred, stating the course has always been wet and observed its conditions leading up to the greens were not conducive to his game.

Sells then pressed Chesney about the owner. “Does he want to sell the golf course or is he willing to sell the golf course.”

“I’d say he’s willing to sell the golf course,” Chesney responded.

Closing discussion, supervisors made clear they were not closing the door on the purchase but that the ball was in Neubauer’s court. “Know if it comes back and you negotiate,” Ross said to Chesney, “We’ll back you.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Christmas Giving in July

The Westchase Seniors Group will participate in the Christmas in July toy collection for children at St Joseph's Children's Hospital.

On Tuesday, July 10, Westchase Seniors will form car pools at 10:30 a.m. adjacent to the Westchase McDonald's and go to the Oldsmar Walmart to purchase toys suitable for children confined to beds in St Joseph's Children's Hospital. A list of recommended toys to choose from will be furnished to each shopper. Following our toy purchases, we will have lunch together at the Steak and Shake restaurant adjacent to Walmart, and then return to the parking lot at McDonald's. The toys will be delivered to St Joseph's Children's Hospital that afternoon by Westchase Senior volunteers.

No reservations are required. Just show up at parking lot next to McDonald's with some cash or a credit card to use to purchase toys. If you are unavailable to go shopping that day but wish to contribute, you can give your money to the Pattersons and they will ensure you money is used to buy toys for children in the hospital. It will make a sick child's day better and give you a good feeling.

Flag Day Celebration Pictured are some of the Westchase Seniors who celebrated Flag Day at Rumba Island Bar and Grill in Oldsmar. We want to thank Anne Hewett, Jean Gaskill, and Janet Baker for planning and hosting this luncheon and celebration of Flag Day.

Active Adult Activities With many children’s programs running through the summer months at the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center, the county-sponsored activities for adults have had to change and the trips for seniors have been canceled until September. The new summer schedule follows and you can call (813) 964-2948 for more information:

• Walking Club: Wed and Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
• Tone and Stretch: Wed and Fri, 9 a.m.
• Yoga: Thu, 9 a.m. ($3/class)
• Ball Room Dance: Mon, 10-11 a.m.
• Pickelball: Fri, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Chair Yoga, Light Aerobics and Ball Room Dancing will not be offered until further notice.

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

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

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Skate, Rattle and Roll

Given our world of electronics, it is exciting to find a physical activity your teenager loves.

One popular sport among teens is skateboarding. The U.S. has over 6 million skateboarders, the majority of whom are teenage boys and young adult men under 25. Skateboarding is an overall fitness sport. It burns calories and improves balance, coordination, agility, endurance, strength and some flexibility. You can skateboard to travel short distances, engage in casual recreation or compete.

Some people may look down on skateboarding, perhaps in part because it is fast, and you need a hard, smooth, spacious surface to skateboard. Not only does that make skateboarding dangerous, there are not many locations that want a bunch of teenagers zipping around on wheels outside their place of business. Other dangers include injury from skating where there is traffic, skating in inappropriate weather conditions, skating with bad lighting, and attempting complex moves like kickflips and frontside boardslides before mastering the basics.

You should always wear a standard skateboard helmet. Elbow and knee pads, mouthguards, wrist bands may also be a good idea. Closed toe leather or suede shoes are also essential for protection and safety. Marketing of these and other related products by companies like VANS, and thrasher T-shirts, along with professional skateboarders, magazines, and competitions have made the industry worth billions of dollars.

Skateboarding continues to grow and broaden its reach. Heide Olive Ferrara learned about A.skate Foundation for children with autism and introduced skateboarding to her son Alex. Alex, 12, skates with his mom around his neighborhood. He is having fun while sharpening motor skills, coordination, balance and focus.

Over the years more advocates have begun petitioning for funding and support to provide locations for skateboarders to hang out and learn. There are a few parks in the Tampa Bay area that offer clinics and summer camps for kids. Westchase resident Mikaela Kwan, 16, has taken to the sport. “I think it is a great cardio workout. I like making friends and knowing the workers.”

Mikaela most recently began helping coach an all-girls clinic at Skatepark of Tampa (SPoT).

So encourage your kids to stop spinning their wheels on video games – and hit their skateboards instead!

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>

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Scalloping Season in Crystal Springs

If you’re looking for a weekend (or weekday) getaway this summer, the town of Crystal River is a fun place to explore.

Located a little more than an hour drive from Westchase along Central Florida’s “Nature Coast,” the area is home to the Crystal River, several natural springs, many parks and preserves and a cute downtown area with several shops and restaurants. Be warned, however! If you’re going for the shopping, they all seemed to shut down at 5 p.m. Fortunately for us, we did not go to Crystal River for shopping but for more nature-loving pursuits.

You can explore the river and springs by kayak, paddle board or boat. I have read about and wanted to see Three Sisters Springs for a few years. The pictures of it look gorgeous and I’m happy to report the area is just as beautiful in person. The water is crystal clear and the springs are surrounded by towering trees, making you feel like you’re miles away from civilization.

During the winter hundreds of manatees migrate to the area for protection from the cold Gulf water, but during the summer, you probably won’t see any manatees there. You might, however, find a few in the surrounding river. The water is 72 degrees year-round. In June it felt actually a little cold to us—a welcome relief to the summer’s heat.

During the summer most visitors head to the area for scalloping season, which begins in July and runs through September. If you choose a guided tour, they will take you to the shallow waters of the Gulf to search for the miniature mollusks. Scallops like to hide in the shallow, grassy areas, where you might also see starfish, seahorses or turtles. The scallops are easy to spot because they have 30 to 40 blue eyes that glow underwater. One of the residents we talked to likened scalloping to an underwater Easter egg hunt.

Once you’ve caught your limit of scallops, you can take them home and clean them yourself (we were told they would keep in the refrigerator for a few days). Several places in town will clean them and some will even cook them for you. The Plantation on Crystal River is one. During scalloping season, they offer a package that includes accommodations, a guided scalloping tour, souvenir bag, and a dinner of your just caught scallops prepared by their chef.

When you’ve had your fill of scalloping, the hotel also has plenty of other activities to keep your family and you entertained, including a river-side pool, a 27-hole golf course, a volleyball court, croquet lawn and a full-service spa for those who would rather relax before dinner then dive for it.

Crystal River also has several state parks and preserves. They include miles of paved trails and hiking paths in the Withlacoochee State Forest and a seven-mile loop and eco-walk in the Crystal River Preserve State Park.

Crystal River, Florida
http://www.discovercrystalriverfl.com

Plantation on Crystal River
http://www.PlantationonCrystalRiver.com

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Eagle Project Brings Library Boxes to Westchase Parks

West Park Village resident George Doster started out hoping to build a dog park for his Eagle Scout project but ended up building multiple boxes to help spread the joy of reading.

When his idea for a dog park was not proceeding as quickly as he hoped, he talked to Westchase Community Development District (CDD) Field Manager Doug Mays about improving the local playgrounds by installing handcrafted book boxes inspired by the Little Free Library project. Mays and the CDD quickly agreed to the proposal.

“We knew we wanted two levels for the books,” said Doster. “My dad helped me design the boxes.”

The two-story book boxes have water-tight roofs and doors and are painted light blue inside to ward off insects. A rising junior at Berkey Preparatory School, Doster says he’s always enjoyed reading and was happy to see the way the boxes immediately inspired young children. “After we installed the one at Baybridge Park, we went back to the car to get more books to put in it. When we came back, there was already a little girl who was looking at the books in the box. I like the idea that it will help kids enjoy reading.”

Doster says the hardest part of the project was planning and organizing. “I thought we could do everything in one day, but it took one day to gather all the materials, one to prep and paint, one to build and another to install.”

Two other members of Doster’s Scout pack, Troop 46, started a non-profit organization that collects used books and distributes them to schools, hospitals and other organizations as their Eagle Scout project. They were able to donate books to stock the book boxes initially.

In addition to boxes at Baybridge and Glencliff Parks, Doster installed two boxes at Upper Tampa Bay Park. Anyone may take a book from the book boxes for free but Doster asks that if you do so, you leave one behind for the next reader who visits the box.

A member of Troop 46, Doster has been in Scouts since he was 6 years old. He has served as senior patrol leader and will continue to help plan meetings, camps and ceremonies for his troop. He is also looking forward to continuing his participation in Venture Scouts and will go hiking with the group in New Mexico this summer.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

“I was kind of hoping this isn’t really fake,” wrote Frozen Pizza Eater Don Roszel of The Greens.

Who could blame him? Anyone who has driven up the Atlantic Coast on Interstate 95 has encountered them – the gas station bathrooms that could use a little sprucing up.

Say, with a flamethrower.

For just 30 bucks a month, June’s fabulous fakery put an end to the highway restroom horror. Air P&P offers the places to go when you gotta go – inside a proper bathroom of a nice home. Now, when your newly literate Kindergartener emerges from the bathroom, he won’t ask the meanings of all the profane words he’s learned from the stall walls. Instead, he’ll actually use their proper names, culled from the edition of Cosmo he found in the basket by the commode.

Best of all, with Air P&P, the editor’s brother redeemed himself. After absolutely denying that he came up with the previously run Lemen’s Autos (he totally did), he flushed this one out of the ballpark!

Meanwhile, we congratulate lucky Fake Ad Contest winner, Alex MacCormack of Greencrest, who will be enjoying dinner and the clean restrooms 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen’s Shane Heath Named Art Teacher of the Year

Davidsen Middle School’s Shane Heath was named Hillsborough County’s 2018 Middle School Art Teacher of the Year.

To those who know Heath the best, that honor was not surprising.

“When you go in his room, you can just feel the energy,’’ Davidsen principal Stacy Arena said. “Kids love what they’re doing. He’s not having to push them. They push themselves.

“He makes kids care about art. If I wasn’t good at art, I might be afraid. But if I took his class, I wouldn’t feel threatened. I think I’d feel like I could be myself and that would good enough. I think that says something.’’

It says something for Vanessa Smith, the 2017 award winner from Martinez Middle School, who joined Heath as a Davidsen art teacher during the past school year.

“Watching him make connections with kids … it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,’’ Smith said. “I always said I’d love to work with him. I got my chance this year. And it probably surpassed the expectations I had.

“He gets information across in a unique way and he even gets the kids who are tough to buy in. Everybody works and expresses themselves. This is a middle school award, but Shane teaches at a high school level.’’

Now that’s official.

Beginning in August, Heath will teach at a high school level. With a mixed sense of excitement and melancholy, Heath has transferred to Alonso High School, leaving behind a career full of memories at Davidsen, where he has worked since the school opened in 2000-01.

“I always joke with the kids that I fell asleep out in the field and they built a school around me,’’ Heath said. “I’m nervous, anxious and eager about the challenges ahead, but I will certainly miss Davidsen because it’s home. In a larger sense, I don’t know that it will be a significant transition because I feel like I have always treated my kids like high school kids with the curriculum I give them.

“I like to push them with ideas and thoughts. My main goal is to create an appreciation and respect for the arts. That’s for everyone. For the kids who are going to do art in the future, I try to help their skill level and push them out of their comfort zone.’’

People have recently asked Heath: What kind of art are you going to teach at Alonso?

“And I always say, ‘Whatever they need me to do,’ ‘’ Heath said. “That’s the way I have always viewed art. I can draw a realistic-looking photo, but that’s not what I always love (the best).

“Sometimes, I can use recycled goods to make something. Sometimes, it’s clay. There’s drawing, painting, sculpture … and all different levels of it. Some people interpret it differently. I like to have an open mind. Perhaps it’s because I have a building background.’’

Heath, who grew up in the Gainesville area while remaining an ardent Florida Gator fan, worked at his father’s construction company. But he attended UF and USF, becoming the first person from his family to earn a college degree.

He probably could have majored in construction, architecture or engineering.

He chose art.

“Art was my way of expressing myself,’’ Heath said. “I was very lucky to have good teachers who pushed me in the right direction.

“I also play the guitar and sing. I have done it at weddings. I dabble in music and the link is so strong between art and music. There’s a huge connection. I guess I just like to express myself in various forms and I’m thrilled when I see that from my students.’’

Although Heath said he didn’t need an award to affirm his job performance, he was excited to be nominated and recognized by peers, while sharing the moment with his family—wife Heidi and their four children, Harrison, Averie, Landon and Beau.

“I just finished my 22nd year of teaching art and I always tell other teachers that the secret (to success) is how you connect with the kids,’’ Heath said. “If they feel like you care about them, you can really get things done. You must be flexible when it comes to their needs in class because you have all types of learners, cultures and backgrounds.

“I feel like one of my strengths is energy and passion. It’s big for the kids to know what you’re teaching them is important—and you’re not just doing it because it’s a job. This award, of course, is a big thing and I’m honored to be recognized. But I have little battles I win on a daily basis. They are equally as big. When I see the kids create something, do something amazing, something new, something fresh and have that satisfaction … that’s why I do this. That feeling always will be bigger than any award.’’

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

MOMS Club Wraps Up the Old Year and Ushers in the New

The Westchase MOMS Club kicked off the fun this month by heading to Dunedin’s Splash Pad

There the kids took a break from splashing to craft their hearts out for their dads for Father’s Day. Next, we toured the Westchase Fire Department and learned all about fire safety and firefighting equipment. We closed out the month with a lunch bunch at Ford’s Garage, thrilling the group’s junior car enthusiasts. We held our end-of-the-year party at the Fountainhead Wine & Beer Bar, where we thanked our current board for their service and welcomed in the new board.

We thank our outgoing board, Mary Kate French, Kim Bittle, Elexa Booth, Maura Cheatham, Hailey Goodrich and Heather Dagostino, for their work over the past year, and we’re so pleased to introduce our new board. Melisa Mathis, who once opened the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, will be taking over as the club’s president. Terese Roberts will be the new membership chair, and recently enjoyed an Alaskan vacation. Lauren Novatkoski, once a college rugby player, is our new vice president. In addition to her role as vice president, Lauren has a full-time career and brings valuable perspective for all our working moms to the board. Our new treasurer, Serina Pascale, once raced canoes competitively, and our incoming secretary, Kelly Walton, was a guest at the world premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

Our June philanthropy was in support of a local mom, Mandy Law Hucks, and her newborn son’s battle with a rare form of cancer. Our July charity will be a school supply drive to support Voices for Children of Tampa Bay, an organization that works with Guardian ad Litem volunteers to provide support and advocacy for children in Tampa Bay.

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Home of the Month: 9602 West Park Village Drive

West Park Village resident Desmond Curran’s love of gardening started when he was just a young man.

At his family’s home in England Desmond helped his mother tend the garden. Later in life, after his wife, Maryke, and he and had moved to the states, he had two-acres of land around his home in New Hampshire. There he started planting an orchard before they decided to move to Florida to be closer to their daughter and her family.

“It has taken some time to build the garden here,” said Desmond. He pointed out that he was accustomed to the plants and growing seasons up north and had to learn about all different types of plants and what would grow here in our climate. “Amanda at Green Thumb Nursery and Cindy at the Race Track Lowe’s have been very helpful,” he said, adding that he gets all his trees from Laurel Oaks Nursery.

Desmond likes to use flowering shrubs and plants with variegated leaves to add color and contrast to the flower beds. He is particularly fond of the different types of hibiscus he has found, including weeping hibiscus, creeping hibiscus and one that even has two different colors of flowers when it is in full bloom. He says that when one of his hibiscus plants was diseased with bud drop last year, he called the UF/IFAS Extension of Hillsborough County and the experts there gave him the solution to save the plant.

While others in Tampa lamented the plants lost to this winter’s freeze, Desmond saw it as an opportunity to try new and different plants. He has planted Mandeville, Bougainvillea and Mussaenda along the side of his house to add tropical flair and color.

The backyard of his home looks out over a pond but also has a sidewalk that is heavily trafficked. As the result, he has planted a mix of shrubs and flowers to provide privacy while still allowing a nice view of the surrounding landscape.

As the result, his home adds even further beauty to the neighborhood.

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

Know a home that should be featured here? Send its street address to WOW Editor Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com.

Copper Plant or Copperleaf

There are several different varieties of copper plant, but all have beautiful, brightly colored leaves. They grow well in full sun or part shade but the more sun they get, the brighter the colors of their leaves will be.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Kool Aid Crotch’s Great Adventure

I balanced the Dixie cup on my leg and struggled to shove the cheese back into my bologna sandwich with my index finger.

My father was flying 80 mph down a New Jersey highway in our Ford LTD Country Squire.

You remember the Country Squire. It had those fake wood panel stickers down its sides that a highly dedicated 7-year-old could tear long strips out of to stick to the sides of his dog.

Because dachshunds can rock a faux wood look.

That old station wagon had all the stability control of an enormous refrigerator box perched on a red wagon. I know this because I once climbed into a large refrigerator box perched on my old Radio Flyer at the top of Marion Street.

What can I say? It was the 1970s. Back then even Nixon seemed like a reasonable idea.

“Gerard!” my mother screamed.

Dad flipped lanes and the refrigerator box leaned. My grandmother, two sisters, my toddler brother, a large paper sack of bologna sandwiches and the drink cooler slid across the seat and crushed my skull against the back seat window.

I held out my bologna sandwich to avoid its crushing.  “Be careful, Chris!” my grandmother shouted, “Don’t spill your—”

Too late.

The Dixie Cup toppled and a large red cherry Kool Aid stain spread across the crotch of my favorite plaid summer shorts (the ones with the cool-looking fringe circling my now sticky cherry thighs).

My older brother and older sister, in the way back, screamed like hyenas.

(Please keep track now. There were six of us.)

“KOOL-AID CROTCH!” my older brother shouted.

The station wagon exploded. “KOOL-AID CROTCH!” my little sisters screamed.

I whirled to my grandmother for justice. The old lady was struggling to stifle a smile.

“KOOL AID CROTCH!”

“DON’T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER!” my father roared.

“GERARD!” my mother cried again.

Another swerve.

This is why, if you have six children and someone suggests you go on a family vacation, you should just go outside and lie in the yard until the feeling passes.

Especially if that vacation is taking you from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Central New Jersey.

We were headed to Great Adventure, a new amusement park with exciting rides AND an amazing, open animal safari you drove through in your own car.

“Tommy McGrath has a cousin whose aunt drove through the Great Adventure safari in a car with a vinyl top,” said my oldest sibling, Kate. “And you know what happened when she drove into the baboon area?”

We fell quiet.

“What happened?” Brian said.

“The baboons jumped on the car and RIPPED off the roof!” Kate cried, with a dramatic, ripping flourish.

Megan gasped.

Maura started crying. “Did they eat her?”

Shrug. “You’ll have to ask Tommy McGrath.” Kate sat back and twirled her hair.

Brian looked at Maura. “Probably,” he said.

“DON’T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER!”

But we were already at a dead stop. The longest line of cars I’d ever seen was trying to get into THE BEST AMUSEMENT PARK EVER.

Only it was 95 degrees outside. And our station wagon had just spent the last two hours flying 80 miles an hour, carrying about 800 pounds of human flesh, bologna sandwiches and Kool Aid across two states.

Which is why smoke started seeping out the hood of our LTD Country Squire.

(Which is really why cars should never be made of wood, real or otherwise.)

Dad pulled right up to a restroom, flung open the hood and began waving his hands around.

Here’s the thing about my dad. He wasn’t at all handy. He knew just enough about cars to seriously hurt himself.

But he was a guy. And because he was a guy, he drove for hundreds of miles without a map or asking for directions.

Because he was a guy, he tried to fix things he should have left to my grandmother to figure out.

I hung out the window. Dad ran into the restroom, brought back a container of water and poured it into the radiator. He immediately disappeared in a shroud of a dense fog.

I could only hear the cursing.

He flapped wildly and quickly poured another gallon of cold water into the red hot radiator.

He paused and the car made a sputtering low growl.

And Dad leaned over to pour more.

With a whoosh, the radiator erupted like Mt. Vesuvius.

We screamed.

The girls in the next car over screamed.

Dad screamed.

And when he finally got his steaming shirt off, he looked like a slice of bologna.  

Then Dad vanished for hours.

Meanwhile my grandmother and mother took all six kids into the park to ride on THE BEST RIDES EVER.

While every single person I walked past stared and pointed at my cherry red crotch.

“Don’t worry,” Grandma lied. “No one even notices.”

Meanwhile, the sweat and humidity just made everything stickier. So, at our next restroom stop, I secretly flushed my undies down the toilet.

It didn’t help.

Dad reappeared at 3 p.m., wrapped in gauze, looking like an Egyptian mummy. By that time my thighs were so glued together, I was walking just from the knees down.

Dad marched us back to the car.

Because we hadn’t driven through the Great Adventure’s Wild Safari yet.

A normal guy might have stopped and thought, “Hey, it’s 95 degrees out and my car just overheated. Maybe I shouldn’t pile 800 pounds of human flesh inside it and drive it into fields of wild animals at dinner time.”

But dad wasn’t a normal guy.

After paying 26 bucks to get each of his six kids in the park, nothing could stop him from taking his Country Squire through enormous paddocks holding elephants, giraffes, baboons and lions.

Upon entering the safari’s 350 acres, warning signs were everywhere.

LEAVE WINDOWS UP!

REMAIN IN CAR AT ALL TIMES!

The Wild Safari was 4.5 miles of multiple sections holding hundreds of animals. What could go wrong? We’d breeze through and finish before the car heated up.

But dad didn’t account for the fact that we’d be going at idle speed, because 32,000 people in New Jersey also wanted to gawk at baby elephants.

The car started gurgling and steaming in the baboon section. “I’ll put on the heater. It will help cool the engine,” Dad announced.

“OHMIGAHD!” Kate moaned.

Ten minutes later it was 120 degrees in the car.

Grandma started panting.

“OHMIGAHD!” Maura moaned.

A baboon leapt on the car hood, curious about the rising steam. “He’s gonna scratch my car!” Dad cried. “GET OFF!” he shouted, waving his hands. “GET OFF MY CAR!”

Dad beeped the horn. The baboon just turned around and stared.

Because it was a baboon from New Jersey.

Unable to bear the heat any longer, I began to lower my window.

“PUT THAT WINDOW BACK UP!” my mother shouted.

“BUT—“

“BUT NOTHING!”

I cranked the window up but left it open an inch.

“CLOSE THAT WINDOW NOW!” Mom began climbing over the front seat into the back. “THAT BABOON WILL RIP THAT WINDOW RIGHT OUT!”

I closed it and Megan moaned.

Steam was pouring from under the hood. Dad pulled up to the park employees at the next paddock’s opening.

“Sir, you appear to be overheating,” the highly observant park employee observed.  Looking at my father, beat red, profusely sweating and wrapped like a mummy, he hesitated. “Are you OK, sir?”

“We need to turn around and get out of here!” my father said.

“Sir, there is only one way out.”

Dramatic pause.

“And that’s straight ahead.”

A normal man would have turned the ignition of his Country Squire off right there. “That’s insane,” a normal man would have said. “I am not taking a boiling-over station wagon with six kids, a grandmother, a mother and a bag of bologna sandwiches into an enormous paddock of lions.”

My father was not a normal man.

Dad gunned the engine into the lions’ den.

Grandma moaned.

That’s when I knew we were doomed. 

If we broke down and had to make a run for it, I’d be the slowest. My thighs were glued together, my legs flapping uselessly below the knees. Even Grandma, carrying the Kool-Aid cooler, would outrun me.

The Country Squire sputtered and died halfway through the lion’s den.

Mom moaned.

Today, you’d just whip out your cell phone, right?

This was 1975, the era of sit and wait and hope someone notices there are nine humans slowly roasting in a Ford LTD.

And this was Jersey. In the ’70s abandoned cars on the sides of the road were as common as grass. The only thing that might get people to stop and take notice?

We still had our tires. 

“We should just feed ourselves to the lions,” Kate panted. “Get it over with.”

I looked out.  A half dozen lions were now padding around the dead car.

We waited.

And complained.

And waited some more.

And complained some more.

“Complaining will only make you hotter,” Grandma lied.

“I lost my gum!” Maura announced.

Grandma reached up and cracked opened her window a notch. Mom whirled around. Grandma eyed her, daring her to climb over the front seat. “They are not baboons, Barbara.”

As if this made any sense.

That inch of outside cooled nothing.

“Has anyone seen my gum?” Maura repeated.

Megan shrieked.

I looked over. Megan’s left hand was glued to the side of her own head.

“That’s where my gum went!” Maura proclaimed.

Megan tried to pull her hand away. Half her hair rose with it, matted to her fingers by five enormous hunks of chewed-up Bubble Yum.

Megan shrieked again. In five seconds flat, Grandma also appeared to be glued to the side of Megan’s head.

My dad finally groaned.

Kate pointed to a lion that flopped down under a nearby tree and began licking its lips. “She’s waiting us out,” Kate proclaimed.

Brian inched up, flopped over the seat and breathed his bologna breath all over me. “You know what she’s looking at, don’t you?”

I turned. “No,” I said, worriedly. “What?”

“YOUR KOOL AID CROTCH!”

The entire car screamed. “KOOL AID CROTCH!”

Dad shouted, “DON’T MAKE ME GET OUT OF THIS—”

Dad’s voice died. There was no way in hell he was getting out of the car.

“KOOL AID CROTCH!” Brian whispered into my ear.

I launched myself over the backseat, intent on ripping the ears off the side of my brother’s head. Grandma shouted, reached over and seized my belt loops to haul me back.

But her Bubble Yummed hand only came back holding my cherry red-crotched shorts. I landed on Brian, buck naked from the waist down.

That’s when the park ranger knocked on the window.

We froze and fell silent.

Mom lowered the window two inches. “Oh, hello sir!” she said, acting as if everything was perfectly normal.

The park ranger took it all in.

A red-faced, heat-stroked mummy at the wheel. Mama, struggling to maintain her best Jackie Kennedy Onassis, sweating off her makeup and squeezing her lips out a crack in the window to suck in some air. A grandmother with a pair of boys shorts in her raised left hand and her right hand glued to the head of a weeping child. Two other children were near death. And in the way back, a 13-year-old girl was rolling her eyes. And a naked child was lying on top of the brother, trying to pull his ears from his head.

“Well, well,” said the ranger. “Looks like quite the great adventure in there.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library’s New Administrative Librarian

Allie Brazis brings a wealth of experience and a penchant for community service to our local library.

Have you been to the library lately? In case you haven’t, you’ll be surprised to know the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library offers much more than a really good book to read. Besides educational and fun programs for both children and adults, our local library offers resources for people seeking employment, small business owners, opportunities for teens to volunteer and technology programs as well. In May, the staff welcomed new Administrative Librarian Allie Brazis. Her goal, she said, is to bring the community together through resources found at the library.

Originally from Ormond Beach, Fla., Brazis recalled her first experiences in the library as a young child. “Story Time with Mrs. Stanley was a positive experience. I remember the library as being a warm and friendly place to be,” she said. 

As a student at Seabreeze High School, she played soccer and ran cross-country. “Running on the beach was a workout!” she said with a chuckle. 

She was also a member of Student Government, National Honor Society and president of Key Club. “I had a strong desire for community service and helping others.” 

Brazis attended Flagler College in St. Augustine where she majored in history. Her dorm, she said, was once the Ponce de Leon Hotel and featured stained glass windows and large murals in the dining hall. “It was almost like going to school at Hogwarts!” she said of the portion of the school that reminded her of a scene from a Harry Potter movie.  

Brazis found herself in the library much of the time helping friends find articles and researching topics. When someone suggested she consider becoming a librarian, she realized she’d found her calling. She graduated from University of South Florida with a master’s degree in Public Library and Information Science.

Today Brazis brings a wealth of library experience to our community. Through the Temple Terrace, Clearwater City, Ruskin and John F. Germany libraries, Brazis was promoted through the ranks to senior and principal librarian. With her move to the Maureen B. Gauzza Library at the end of May, she took on the responsibilities of administrative librarian. “I’m so excited to meet the people in this community and to let them know we’re here for them,” she shared. 

Her goal, she added, is to help unite the community through library resources, continue programs for all ages and build new partnerships with local businesses and organizations.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Eric, Brazis is a busy mom to 2-year-old Caleb and twins Olivia and Harper, 6 months. “We’re outnumbered by our kids now, but my husband and I are a great team,” she explained.  

Brazis noted that summer programming is now in full swing at the library and it is not too late to join in on the fun. A children’s favorite, “Tricky Dogs,” is coming back on July 11 with two shows.  “Wonders of Nature” on July 26 will feature live animals as well.  Tickets to these free shows will be handed out one hour prior to show time. For teens and adults, Brazis suggested coming to the library to try out a Tai Chi or Yoga class. If music is your thing, you can join in on the fun with the “Intro to Ukulele” class. These are just a few examples of what the library is offering at no charge!  Is your teen interested in working at the library to gain library experience or to earn community service hours? The Teen Advisory Board meets once a month to discuss the programs teens would like to bring to the library. 

In addition to the in-house programs, Brazis explained the library offers a lot that most people are not aware of. The library portal, for instance, features several databases free of charge – a service that would cost money if used outside the library website. Lynda.com is a great example of a site with courses in web development, photography, small business, etc.  This site normally charges a monthly fee; however, if accessed through the library website, it’s free!  Ancestry-library edition is also free and Brazis likened it to the popular Ancestry.com.

She welcomes those who have not been to the library to stop in and see what the library has to offer or fill out a suggestion card to let them know about programs you would like to see at the library. And in case you have an old past due library book tucked away, bring that with you. The library has eliminated late fees!  “We don’t want to keep people from being able to check out more books and resources because they have a fine on their account,” Brazis explained. 

Welcome to our community Allie Brazis!  We’re glad you’re here.

By Lisa Stephens

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Katie Morello

Katie Morello graduated with a 7.84 weighted GPA and will attend University of Florida in the fall.

Her Alonso transcript, consisting of straight A grades through all four years, listed at least 17 honors courses and 11 AP courses, making her Alonso High School valedictorian.

The daughter of Stamford’s Marc and Kathleen Morello, Katie also completed 120 community service hours.

An Honors Student who was dual enrolled at Hillsborough Community College, Morello named an AP Scholar with Honor, an AP Scholar with Distinction and a National AP Scholar.

In addition to working part-time, Morello was played in the Alonso HS Band where she served as Drum Major. She also co-founded Alonso’s National UNICEF Club, serving as its vice president and president, and served as vice president of Alonso’s Future Business Leaders of America, where she placed second at the state conference. An athlete of note, she was named Varsity Volleyball captain and Flag Football captain, leading her squad to state championship play. She also was a member of Alonso’s National Honor Society and Beta Club member, which tutors other students.

She volunteered as a Davidsen Middle School track coach volunteer and a Relay for Life team member. She tutored at Alonso, assisted with the Anchor Club’s service projects and Alonso Raven Pride Clean up and worked with the music department as a solo and ensemble volunteer.

Katie observed of her multiple interests and accomplishments in her personal essay. “I was told all my life. ‘You can't do it all; you can't be an athlete, a musician, and successful in school.’ So I made it my goal to ‘do it all.’” She added, “I know once I graduate and attend college my quest to be challenged will continue. I know I will fail and overextend myself at times, but I will never get comfortable.”

Citing Morello’s long list of academic accomplishments and leadership in extracurricular activities, Alonso Principal Ken Hart stated, “Katie has earned every accolade given to her.  In addition to all of that, however, she is a young lady with high standards.  She is honest, courteous, respectful, humble and committed to doing the right thing all of the time.”

Congratulations to Katie, to whom we wish the best of luck at University of Florida!

By Chris Barrett; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Shires Resident Savors State Title

Westchase resident Marc DeGusipe fulfilled his baseball dreams on May 31.

He helped the Jefferson Dragons capture the Class 6A state championship at Fort Myers.

“I’ll have this memory for the rest of my life and, in a way, that’s hard to believe,’’ said DeGusipe, a resident of the Shires, who was a junior pitcher/first baseman for the Dragons. “We came together at the right time and played great in the playoffs.

“I know there aren’t a lot of guys who get an experience like this, so I’m going to cherish it forever.’’

It was the first state title in Jefferson’s 78-season baseball history, a legacy that includes players such as Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, along with perennial all-stars Fred McGriff, Tino Martinez and Luis Gonzalez.

DeGusipe, a rising senior, and his teammates finished 22-8. At times, things didn’t look especially promising, particularly when the Dragons went out early during the Saladino Tournament during spring break.

“We kept believing,’’ DeGusipe said. “We knew we had a great team and we would pull it together.’’

Jefferson peaked at the right time. In the district semifinals — an elimination game — the Dragons got past Robinson 7-4 in nine innings, surging ahead on DeGusipe’s RBI triple. Even though Jefferson fell against Jesuit in the district championship game, it advanced as a district runner-up.

That meant constant travel throughout the regionals, but the Dragons thrived, even defeating Jesuit in a regional semifinal rematch.

“We played better on the road, surprisingly,’’ DeGusipe said. “We didn’t feel any pressure.”

When Jefferson junior Oscar Galvez lined a two-out hit into right center field, allowing Ty Evans to score the state championship-clinching run, DeGusipe hopped over the dugout fence and raced to the field in a mob celebration.

“To be regarded as the first Jefferson baseball team to win a state title, it’s an awesome thing,’’ DeGusipe said. “We had the perfect ending.’’

DeGusipe became one of Jefferson’s key pitchers, going 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA. At the plate, he added 23 RBIs, tying for second on the team.

DeGusipe has committed to play at Florida Atlantic University.

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Filling the Zerillo’s Void

Leave it to Facebook to tell me where to eat.

Seriously, how many neighborhood posts have you seen asking, “What’s a good restaurant in the area for kids?” or “Where I can I go for a romantic dinner?”

This population never fails to impress—there are usually lots of great suggestions and (spoiler alert!) I get a lot of my review ideas from these types of posts.

So when the conversation turned to the sudden closure of Enzo’s (formerly the much-loved and missed Zerillo’s), Westchase Facebookers turned to each other for ideas about how to fill the void. 

Many recommended a place called Joey’s in Palm Harbor. I had never heard of it, so my interest was piqued. I’m always up for a great pizza (and hopefully a great review to share with you), so I dragged my dining partners out and off we went.

Joey’s New York Pizza and Italian Restaurant is tucked in a strip mall at the corner of Curlew Road and Highway 19 that you’ve likely passed many times on your way to Honeymoon Island. It’s pretty nondescript except for the life-size pizza guy out front. Once inside, you’ll find a large open space with plenty of seating (and most likely packed; expect to wait on weekends). The décor is a bit rustic, but nothing fancy, and there’s a decent wine list with good prices.

We started the evening with garlic rolls, which were doused in parmesan cheese and heavy on the garlic—but quite delicious. Next up was the Caprese ($8.95; don’t call it ka-pres or ka-pressay, it’s ka-pray-zay—my dining partner will be sure to set you straight). Though it looked pretty tasty and the mozzarella and balsamic dressing were good, the tomatoes were green and tough. The waiter even apologized when he noticed a few of them stacked up, uneaten. Since ripe red tomatoes are not difficult to find right now, we were a bit surprised. My dining partners said they’ve had better at pretty much any restaurant, anywhere.

Next up were the Stuffed Mushrooms ($6.95). If you’re used to a crabmeat stuffing, you’ll be a tad disappointed. These are stuffed with sausage; however, the overall flavor, enhanced by lots of cheese and a tangy sherry sauce, is good.

For the main course, I wanted something more traditional, so I ordered the Stromboli (a steal at $7.95). The portion was huge—bigger than my plate, in fact—and it was packed with lots of gooey cheese and served with a house-made marinara that was very good. My dining partner also went traditional (and inexpensive) with the Italian Combo hero sandwich ($6.95 and easily enough for two), which was packed with several types of meats and topped with provolone, all the fixings, and Italian dressing. It hit the spot.

There are a handful of daily specials on the menu at Joey’s, so we ordered one of those as well—the Ribeye ($22, with two sides and a house salad). Served with a burgundy sauce that my dining partner declared a definite “no go,” it was otherwise fantastic: moist, perfectly cooked, and accompanied by a huge mound of house-made mashed potatoes and broccoli with mild garlic cloves.

I also ordered a cheese pizza for my daughter to go, because it was cheap ($10.95 for a large, Neapolitan style). It was just okay, but I’d like to go back to try a more adventurous pie (maybe the Sicilian) and nosh on some of the other menu options, like Lasagne ($10.95), Chicken Parmesan ($13.95), Linguine with Clam Sauce ($13.50), or Shrimp Alfredo ($14.95).

Joey’s isn’t around the corner, but it’s close enough for a weeknight dinner. It certainly fills the void left by Zerillo’s (and Enzo’s… and Nabruzzi) for those in the neighborhood looking for tasty Italian.

Joey’s New York Pizza & Italian Restaurant
Joeysnypizzeria.com/palm-harbor/
30681 U.S. Highway 19 N., Palm Harbor

By Melanie Casey

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Crime in 33626: May 2018

Fraud-Impersonation

5/1

9600 Tree Tops Lake Rd.

Carrying Concealed Weapon

5/2

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/2

Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/3

Countryway Blvd./Bennington Dr

DUI

5/5

Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft of Bicycle

5/8

7800 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

5/8

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Battery-Simple

5/8

12100 Bishopsford Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/9

11300 Countryway Blvd.

Fraud-Credit Card

5/10

11200 Sheldon Rd.

Accidental Injury

5/10

11800 Cypress Hill Cr.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/10

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/11

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Prescription/Drug Fraud

5/11

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

DUI

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Health/Safety

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

DUI

5/12

Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

DUI

5/14

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant (Local Leo Agency)

5/15

Fawn Creek Dr./Antler Point Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

5/15

13400 White Elk Lp.

Warrant (Local Leo Agency)

5/15

Fawn Creek Dr./Antler Point Dr.

Warrant (Local Leo Agency)

5/15

Fawn Creek Dr./Antler Point Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/16

13600 Staghorn Rd.

Grand Theft-All Other

5/16

13000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Battery-Simple

5/17

14100 Stilton St.

Grand Theft-All Other

5/17

12400 Berkeley Square Dr.

Fraud-Credit Card

5/18

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/18

12500 Twin Branch Acres Rd.

Warrant out of County

5/18

10600 Esher Wood Ct.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/21

11900 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/21

14600 Turning Leaf Ct.

Battery-Simple

5/21

10500 Montague St.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/21

11700 Lake Aston Ct.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/21

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

5/21

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/22

8800 Royal Enclave Blvd.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/22

10900 Wetherby Park Ct.

Battery-Simple

5/23

11100 Roseate Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/23

12000 Whitmarsh Ln.

DUI

5/25

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft by Employee (On Duty)

5/26

9900 Race Track Rd.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/26

8900 Citrus Village Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/30

8800 Key West Cr.

Burglary Business/Forced

5/30

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/30

14600 Coral Berry Dr.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

MOMS Club of Westchase Made A Splash in July

The MOMS Club has been taking this summer by storm. We started the month off at Lunch Bunch and had a delicious lunch at Burger 21.

We visited the sprayground in Oldsmar where the kids had some fun splashing around the water park. We stayed cool indoors. had a ball and jumped around at Pump It Up. Then went to the dollar movies at Regal Cinemas where we watched Trolls. The MOMS Club also enjoyed a kid free Saturday and had some fun in the sun, paddle-boarding on our MOMS Day Out.

The MOMS Club charity for July was a school supply drive for Voices for Children. Moms donated many new backpacks and school supplies in hopes that the children will have a fun and enjoyable school year. The month of August the MOMS Club will be making a monetary donation to Bridging Freedom to help build safe houses for sex trafficking victims in the Tampa area.

The MOMS Club has always amazed me on how well it truly reflects its meaning, Mothers Offering Mother Support. It has brought this community together in so many positive ways and continues to make a difference in the Westchase community. As a new mother myself, I have been amazed by these mighty moms, whether they are making a meal, giving diapers or clothes to a member’s family who just welcomed a new bundle of joy, sharing new information on our Facebook page, or simply helping with the kids of new friends at lunch These women are always there for each other and have shown me that first hand.

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

By Kelly Walton

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

CDD’s Golf Course Purchase Back On?

At the July 10 Westchase CDD meeting, supervisors got word that their purchase of the Westchase Golf Course may be back on.

The meeting began with a brief discussion of the district’s proposed 2019 budget. With its expected approval at the Aug. 7 meeting, supervisors made no changes to the draft, which holds homeowners’ assessments at this year’s levels.

After supervisors heard from Hillsborough County representatives about a project to extend the left turn lane on eastbound Linebaugh Avenue at Sheldon Road (This issue will be covered in August's WOW.), Supervisor Greg Chesney updated supervisors on recent discussions with the golf course owner, Nick Neubauer. After not hearing a counterproposal from the owner in May, supervisors decided to put action on the course on hold until they heard back from Neubauer.

“After last meeting I was contacted by the owner of the golf course,” said Chesney. Referring to the first purchase and sales contract offered by Neubauer, Chesney stated, “We agreed to go back to his agreement with some modifications.”

While Chesney did not go into detail, he did say that the district’s requests that Neubauer purchase all leased agreement – as well as other items that the district asked to be added – were taken out of the purchase and sale contract. Chesney stated Neubauer also expressed a preference for changing the six-month due diligence period and making the purchase contingent solely on approval of financing and the resolution of boundary issues, but Chesney declined. Referring to environmental studies to ensure no contamination of the property, Chesney said, “My recommendation is we not change it. We haven’t done any environmental work.”

Chesney added that Neubauer also wanted a commitment that the district not develop the property. (Under state law, however, CDDs are not permitted to develop properties.) Further, Chesney committed to not releasing the due diligence report about the course into the public record until a signed agreement was in place.

Saying he had spoken to him earlier in the day to encourage him to email a response prior to the meeting, Chesney added he did not email him before the meeting. “He still has some issues,” Chesney said, referencing the agreement. “We sent that to him a week ago Friday [July 6] but he has not returned it.”

“Suffice it to say,” CDD Chair Jim Mills said, “Discussions are ongoing and restarting.”

When Supervisor Ross asked if Chesney would have a finalized purchase and sale agreement distributed to supervisors for review before the next meeting, Chesney responded, “I’m starting to wonder.”

Supervisors concluded with a lengthy discussion about landscaping with CDD Field Manager Doug Mays and Paul Kovacik, the Davey supervisor who oversees the district landscaping. CDD Supervisor Brian Ross stated he understood that Davey was fulfilling the requirements of their contract, that much of the community’s original landscaping was aging out and that Mays has always done an admirable job watching the district’s landscaping dollars. Ross, however, asked the board to convey its support for increasing the financial commitment to replacing aging hedges in parks and along Linebaugh and Countryway Boulevard. Mays estimated that doing so would likely require an additional $100,000 be added to the existing $150,000 budget line for plant replacement. Supervisors expressed their support for the investment and Ross encouraged Mays to prepare some proposals for landscaping enhancements.

Mays added that, working with a local nursery, the district has been replanting a different subdivision’s entrance every other month.

In other actions:

District Manager Andy Mendenhall briefed supervisors on steps the district should take to ensure the district web site is ADA compliant for the sight-impaired.

Supervisors voted 4-0 to adopt a policy of using Positive Pay for all checks the district writes to lessen the chance of any checks being intercepted and used fraudulently.

Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated that the district had obtained new signage from the county and would be likely be replacing West Park’s signage during the third week in July.

When supervisors again inquired about CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart’s promised map of the district and its assets (Stewart was absent but has repeatedly committed to its finalization in recent months), Office Manager Sonny Whyte said she had reached out to the county for its digital maps and the county has expressed a willingness to share Westchase portions of the county maps with the district to move the project forward.

Supervisors adjourned at 5:46 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted July 13, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Approves Committee Members and Bids

The one hour July 12 meeting of the WCA Board saw directors appoint three new residents to committees and approve a few bids for new projects.

The board opened with a resident forum that saw no community members speak.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Directors then turned to committee reports and appointments, unanimously naming Kate Francis of West Park Village to the Covenants Committee, which addresses fines for unresolved deed restriction violations; Michelle DelSordo of West Park Village to the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), which works with local government entities on Westchase priorities; and Sue D’Auria of The Greens as an alternate to the Modifications Committee, which reviews homeowners’ requested changes to yard and homes.

GAC Chair Rick Goldstein announced that DelSordo would hold a meeting of West Park Village Voting Members to address neighborhood concerns regarding issues like parking and speeding. He also praised Director Ashley Wait, who recently worked with the manager of the Westchase Town Center to post no skateboarding signs in the center, where kids have interfered with traffic in the traffic circle. Wait, however, stated her job wasn’t quite done. “It’s not good enough,” she said of the signs. “I couldn’t even see them.”

As the result, she stated she would request more prominent notices.

Making her report, Association Manager Debbie Sainz stated she had completed some recent projects. A new $515water fountain for the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center courts had been purchased for installation. In addition, the air conditioning unit at the Westchase Tennis Cabana at the center also had to be replaced for $1,475. Sainz concluded her report by stating that outstanding assessments had been reduced to 46 homes, totaling $13,723 in uncollected fees. She stated these homeowners will now be receiving notices of the association’s intent to foreclose due to their unpaid assessments.

Later in the meeting, the board accepted bids for a number of items. With the goal of replacing the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s lounge chairs, Sainz suggesting acceptance of a bid for $2,960 for 35 new lounges. She stated staff could then move the remaining ones to the West Park Village Swim and Tennis Club. Director Wait, however, recommended simply purchasing new lounges for both pools, doubling the purchase to 70 chairs for just under $6,000. When Director Joaquin Arrillaga expressed concerns that the lounges may not be commercial grade, directors made the motion to purchase them contingent on confirming that the lounges were durable, commercial quality. Directors voted 6-1, with Director Keith Heinemann opposed, to approve. Following the meeting, however, Sainz said it was likely staff would return to the board in August with a bid for more durable lounge chairs.

Directors also gave their final approval to a lengthy list of facility rules, offering only two tweaks to its language. The board also approved a bid for $4,580 to replace the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s deck drains.

Rounding out new business, directors approved the auditor’s demand for an a fee increase of $750 to incorporate Glencliff Villas books into the WCA’s audit, with the contingency that Glencliff be invoiced for the fee increase. That brought the total audit costs to $6,250.

Directors also briefly discussed Westchase Voting Members’ (VMs) recommendation that the board allow estate sales with defined parameters. Stating they would consider future requests while keeping VM recommendations in mind, the board expressed a preference that the issue be referred to the Documents Committee, currently compiling potential amendments and additions to Westchase rules.

The balance of the July 13 meeting addressed three homeowner appeals, two for imposed fines and an additional request for more time to implement a fix. Directors approved waiving all but 10 percent of a Woodbay homeowner’s two fines, provided the homeowner complete repainting his home and installing shrubbery to screen his AC unit from view. Directors also waived one violation of a Shires’ resident’s street parking violation notice (the car did not belong to the resident) and suspended collection of a $100 fine for the remaining violation, provided it not reoccur in three months. A second Woodbay resident received an extension to the end of August to complete work correcting a violation.

Directors also waived all but 10 percent of the fine on a Chelmsford homeowner’s violation for dead sod, provided that the matter is repaired by Aug. 8.

As it does each month, the board also passed a motion imposing approximately a dozen various fines (some with additional stipulations) on homeowners with unresolved rules violations.
Directors adjourned at 8:04 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted July 13, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW’s Online Dining Survey: Win Dinner For Two!

In keeping with tradition, September’s WOW will be dedicated to gastronomy and we need your taste buds to make it a success!

Each September WOW runs the results of its annual survey of readers’ favorite restaurants and take-out establishments and the balloting for the winners is often competitively close.

Do you really want your taste-challenged neighbors who never eat more than a mile from home leading the community astray? If not, complete the survey here: https://wowmagazine.polldaddy.com/s/wow-2025

To entice your participation, we will be giving away dinner for two to three randomly selected individuals who take the time to complete the survey by Aug. 5. Best of all, we’ll be sending them to restaurants that the survey crowns Westchase’s favorites.

When completing the survey, simply cast your vote in those categories with which you are familiar. Participating will take less than five minutes.

To participate, simply log onto WOW’s homepage at http://www.westchasewow.com and click the link to the Dining Survey, located just beneath the menu bar of links crossing the homepage. 

Be sure to complete your online survey by Aug. 5 to help us pick the best places to eat in Tampa Bay.

The epicurean fate of Westchase lies in the balance.

How to Participate

Complete the WOW Dining Survey here: https://wowmagazine.polldaddy.com/s/wow-2025

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

VMs Recognize Carlos Quiros; Give Initial Approval to New Roof Materials

The July 10 Westchase Voting Members meeting began with recognition of a longtime Westchase volunteer, Carlos Quiros.

Over his many years in Westchase, Quiros served in multiple roles including voting member, board member, HOA president and member of many different committees. Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo said that Quiros had taught him many things over the years. He remembered once when they disagreed about something, Quiros stopped the conversation and said, “Ruben, it’s not personal. It’s business.”

Collazo said, “I’ll always remember that. It was good advice.”

The final vote for the Vineyard’s Paint Guideline was quickly approved along with the initial vote for a paint palette guideline for Building 4 of the Reserve at West Park Village with one dissenting vote from Cynde Mercer (The Bridges). [Editor’s note: This Reserve guideline vote will happen again in September and October as it was not noticed in WOW as required by Westchase rules.]

Jim Dickens of Lake Roofing Systems, invited by the Metal Roof Committee to speak to VMs, then explained the pros and cons of metal roofs. Dickens said that metal roots last much longer than other roof types, with some lasting more than 50 years with proper upkeep. He added that metal roofs are more energy efficient, providing cost savings of 20-25 percent. Other benefits are that they can resist winds of up to 120 miles per hour and higher and they are 100 percent fire resistant. He said it is a myth that they are louder and attract lightning. He stated insulation reduces noise and added, “They attract no more lightning than your satellite dish or a flagpole. Lightning will strike the highest point but there is no evidence that a metal roof attracts lightning.”

Although he did not describe it as a con, the major downside is the higher price. He provided some sample prices for homes in Westchase in the 2,400 to 3,000 square foot range with prices being in the $50K to $60K range. Dickens did say that higher sale prices of homes with metal roofs could offset the cost. Dickens repeatedly stressed the importance of hiring quality installers who are experienced and certified in their installations. Brochures from the company will be kept in the HOA offices if residents want to look at them.

The Metal Roof Committee did want to reiterate that Key West style roofs are not acceptable. VMs voted unanimously to pass the new metal roof guidelines.

VM Rick Goldstein (Woodbridge), chair of the Nominating Committee, advised the group that they have made a few small changes to the nominating procedures for the upcoming board elections. They are now allowing candidates three minutes instead of two for respones and they can use PowerPoint and/or a multimedia presentation. Aug. 10 is the deadline for candidate submissions. Mercer (The Bridges) suggested questions for candidates with no experience versus those who have served be different but some VMs preferred the current method, which gives all candidates the same question. Collazo said he would discuss it with legal counsel.

Collazo informed the VMs that a developer will speak about plans for West Park Village land adjacent to the railroad tracks on Tate Lane at the bottom of Montague Street on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the WCA office building. The meeting is open to the public but primarily for the West Park Village VMs.

During the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) update, WCA Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock advised the group that the management company for the Westchase Town Center, where World of Beer and Tijuana Flats are, have agreed to put up a no skateboarding and no rollerblading sign for safety.

Bridges resident Joe Odda, who sits on the county’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee, offered a brief overview of what that committee has been working on. He stated an item that could have an impact on Westchase is the Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, which will be an amendment on the General Election ballot in November. Odda said the good news if it is approved would be that taxes would go down but the bad news would be that the county projects it would lose $28-$30 million a year starting in 2020 from the reduction, which would impact project work. Odda reminded residents of the street paving, the Citrus Park Extension and other recent projects which required funding. GAC Chair Rick Goldstein added that the Metropolitan Planning Organization will be coming to the August VM meeting to talk about their plans and get feedback from the community.

The annual WCA Budget Workshop to craft the 2019 association budget will be held Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. Residents that have funding requests should get those to Association Manager Debbie Sainz as soon as possible for inclusion.

Keith Heinemann (Alternate VM, Radcliffe) advised the group that Tuesday, Aug. 28 is primary election day and people must be registered to vote at least 29 days prior to that day.

VMs adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted July 12, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Girl Scouts’ Blessing Box Fights Hunger

Girl Scouts Troop 806, primarily comprised of Westchase residents, has developed a service project that it believes will help people in need while building a sense of charity throughout the community.

Troop 806 will install a “Blessing Box’’ cabinet near the entrance of the Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA. It will hold donations of non-perishable food items—provided by organizations or individuals—that are available for anyone who needs them.

To place the Blessing Box, the troop received permission from Marilyn Gyselinck, the YMCA’s executive director. The project’s spirit might be best summed up by the slogan: If You Need A Blessing, Take One; If You Can Leave A Blessing, Leave One.

“The philosophy is discovering a need, connecting with your community and putting it into action,’’ Troop 806 Leader Susan Campbell said. “It’s teaching them about leadership and community service. We think it’s something that’s sustainable and can be passed down.’’

The project is part of the Girl Scout Silver Award—the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette (pre-high school) can earn. The organization said, “Earning the award puts you among an exceptional group of girls who have used their knowledge and leadership skills to make a difference in the world.’’

“We were thinking about problems in our community and we realized that sometimes at our own schools, some kids don’t have enough to eat,’’ said Kelly Westmoreland, a Fords resident and former Davidsen Middle School student and rising freshman at Alonso High School. “We hope this idea can help some people get the food that they need.’’

While doing research, the girls in Troop 806 learned that Florida is ranked fourth nationally for family hunger and 60 percent of the West Central Florida population is eligible for food stamps. According to Feeding Tampa Bay, many at-risk students won’t eat at all between lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday during the school year.

“I have seen it at my school,’’ said Kenzie McMurray, a Fords resident who attended Stewart Magnet Middle School and is headed for Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School. “A lot of people can’t afford food and they live off the breakfast and lunch that’s provided (at school). This is something that affects me every school day, so it’s personal.’’

Silver Award projects are executed by four-girl teams. Westmoreland and McMurray are joined by Olivia Decossas (Berkeley Prep, Harbor Links resident) and Sadie Campbell (former St. Lawrence Catholic School student now headed to the Academy of the Holy Names).

“I like what our idea stands for,’’ Sadie Campbell said. “There are a group of kids who are dependent on the YMCA for food. If this Blessing Box is there, it’s going to make a difference in someone’s life. And it makes me feel good to know that a few years from now, the Blessing Box will still be there and still be helping.’’

“It’s really sad when you hear the stories about poverty,’’ Decossas said. “This is a way to make an impact. This is one of the great parts of being in the Girl Scouts.’’

Westmoreland, McMurray, Campbell and Decossas, who all attended Westchase Elementary School, have been in the same Girl Scout Troop since kindergarten, when they were Daisies. They plan on staying together through their senior year of high school and possibly becoming adult members.

Campbell, the troop leader, said Girl Scouting isn’t just a random activity. It’s a way of life.

“This has been such a great experience,’’ Westmoreland said. “Even though we’re all at different schools, we’re always there for each other. That means a lot.’’

“Keeping friendships going is a lot harder than when we were little,’’ McMurray said. “I don’t think any of us want to lose that. We have a lot of fun, but we’re also able to do a lot of good for people. That’s the great thing about the Girl Scouts.’’

The Blessing Box project is also supported by the other members of Troop 806—Libby Bauder, Ann Bordin, Yasmine Bouanani, Casey Ingram, Audrey Jones, Natalia Milanes, Emily Rieth, Jillian Stafford and Brooke Williams.

The project is using a slogan—“The Hungry Are Counting On You’’—in its flyers and marketing materials. Troop 806 will hold a fundraiser night at Chipotle Mexican Grill, 9466 W. Linebaugh Ave., on July 8 from 5-9 p.m.

To learn more, to offer donations or to financially support the project, send an e-mail to: troop806blessingbox@gmail.com.

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

New Owner? Remember Modifications Approvals

Now that school is out, we’ve seen a big rise in the number of new owners within Westchase.

Some are familiar with homeowner association (HOA) restrictions and others are not. For those who have never resided in a deed restricted community, I’d like to offer some very helpful information.

First and foremost, it is imperative that you become familiar with the restrictions and guidelines that govern our HOA. We refer everyone to Article XII of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and to the main section of the Residential Guidelines. Article XII details what is not permitted while the Guidelines tell you what is permitted—most with a modification application.

Any exterior alteration, even if it’s like for like, requires a modification application to be submitted to our office for review by the Modifications Committee. For paint colors, you can view the color palette for Westchase’s master HOA at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center office on Countryway Boulevard. If you are in a sub-association, you may have additional restrictions. When in doubt, contact our office first and we will do our best to assist you.

We have seen a large amount of modifications being done without written approval by the committee, thus resulting in violation letters to owners. While some of these modifications may already be an approvable item, it still requires submission of the application to us to ensure you are complying fully with the guidelines as they are currently written.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Want to Write for WOW?

We are looking for talented, experienced freelance writers to enhance our magazine.

If you think you would be a good fit, please read on.

Our magazine’s two editions are dedicated to serving as a local resource for the Northwest Hillsborough County communities of Westchase, Highland Park, Mandolin, Westchester, West Hampton, Westwood Lakes and Windsor Place. Our primary goal is to cover the unique neighborhood news stories relevant to those areas. We are currently in search of a writer to take on our Home of the Month column, as well as monthly feature articles as needed. If you have ideas for stories you feel may be relevant to our WOW readers, we are open to those as well. Writers will be compensated based on the length of the assigned article.

If you wish to be considered for one of our freelance writer positions, please send an email to WOW Publisher Chris Barrett at editor@westchasewow.com outlining your interest and experience along with several samples of your work.

By Karen Ring, Assistant Editor

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

From the President, July 2018: Complaint? Why Not Volunteer?

In Westchase you don’t get to complain. You get to serve on a committee.

Often social media is an all-too-easy outlet for hyperbole, speculation and conjecture. I’ve recently read in a popular online forum that the board/association doesn’t listen to residents and doesn’t keep current, competitive architectural standards and doesn’t provides any information.

I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ll start with perception of an “information” gap. I recently read a post that demanded monthly public board meetings to give residents an opportunity to voice complaints and seek redress of their grievances.

So I kindly and professionally reminded the poster that we’ve conducted open resident forums every month at the board meetings for the past 20 years. I also pointed out that the WOW magazine publishes monthly chronicles of board discussions and decisions, voting member meetings, CDD meetings and even updates from our local school PTAs. I never heard back from that person.

Another complaint insisted certain neighborhoods were “falling apart” and that the association wasn’t enforcing the deed restrictions. Now I know that we do enforce the deed restrictions. Nonetheless, I participated in a ride-along inspection of that neighborhood with our property manager. I scrutinized every neighborhood detail. I did not see anything “falling apart.” In fact, I saw a well-maintained neighborhood with a few minor infractions. I observed the usual stuff, like garbage cans left out too early, a dirty driveway here and a dirty mailbox there. I invited that person to call me so that I could report my findings. I never heard back from that person.

Another complained that our standards aren’t up to date and that our guidelines needed modernization. Well, if you follow the VM meetings you would know that we make updates to the guidelines on an almost monthly basis. Neighborhoods get new features and standards all the time. Admittedly we could update our master guidelines to reflect some of the more common, more modern “in demand” architectural features. So I invited those individuals to join a committee and do something about it! Much to my surprise three people signed up for duty. I’m looking forward to working with that committee to update our “look.” It should be an exciting exercise for all of us.

Because in Westchase you don’t get to complain. You get to serve on a committee and do something about it.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

West Park’s Town Center and the Golf Course

While July often sees many of us relaxing and enjoying time off, WOW has worked hard to tackle two significant stories for you this month.

June’s workshop and meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw a significant shift in discussions regarding the CDD’s potential purchase of the Westchase Golf Course. In short, the owner now appears to be unwilling to discuss further the district’s requested changes to the purchase and sales contract. Adding to some supervisors’ concerns?  During their professional’s review of the course as well as its current operations and maintenance, supervisors have gotten a better picture about the course’s financial struggles – and the extensive repairs they would need to make if they did acquire the course.

For the first time we share in this month’s WOW the conversation that occurred at the CDD Workshop in early June.  Is the district’s pursuit of the course really over? Check out page 14 to learn more.

This month’s cover feature also tackles many questions about West Park Village Town Center, its store vacancies and its future.

The closure of the West Park Village Town Center’s Starbucks has had a significant effect. It has also triggered many rumors. Is Starbucks purposefully keeping the parcel vacant? Is another coffee shop about to sign a lease? More disconcerting, will the town center’s retail stores now start tumbling like dominoes with the drop in foot traffic after Starbucks’ closure? As for the future, are CDD assessments causing high rents, making it harder to fill Westchase vacancies?

Over the past few weeks, WOW has conducted extensive interviews with tenants of the town center – owners of successful, struggling and even failed stores. We also spoke to the property manager of the leasing center. While the status of the Starbucks parcel was still in flux when we went to print, our cover feature tackles a lot of the hard questions. Some of what we may discovered may surprise you.

Rounding out this edition, we introduce two more of our 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholars. And we also bring you the latest updates in the topsy-turvy world of local politics. For the first time in Westchase history, two residents are running for a county commission seat. And depending upon the outcome of the last August primary, they may ultimately face off against each other in November’s general election. See page 38 for the latest.

As always, we thank you for reading these pages. As you know, quality print journalism—with a dedicated focus on our neighborhoods— is increasingly hard to find. WOW is a non-profit, 5019c3 charitable entity whose mission it is to offer Westchase-specific coverage while supporting local schools and charities. We receive no financial support from WCA or CDD fees. We make this happen solely through the generous support of our advertisers. Please tell them you’ve seen them in these pages and you value their support for our community.  

Happy Independence Day!

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Children’s Town ’N’ Country Clothing Charity Seeking Assistance and Volunteers

Started by a former teacher who saw children in her classroom everyday who needed clothing, the non-profit organization operates stores in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. There children on free and reduced lunch can “shop” for clothes twice a year. In 2017 they gave more than 10,000 outfits to children. Later this month they will be opening their first Hillsborough County store in the Town ’n’ Country area.

The new location is open at 5011-H W. Hillsborough Avenue Tampa, Florida 33634.

“More than 40 percent of the 104,000 students in Pinellas County are on the free or reduced lunch program,” said Clothes To Kid Board Member Amanda Saft. “The number is even higher in Hillsborough County – 60 percent of 200,000 children. We felt like there was a need in this county and that the area was not being served.”

Saft said that Clothes To Kids is different from similar organizations that give children clothing because at Clothes To Kids, children get to choose the clothes they want in a retail-like atmosphere. “Our stores look like new stores. The children are treated like shoppers. We feel like this empowers the children because they get to choose the clothes they want.”

Saft said Clothes To Kids is hoping people in the Westchase and Northwest areas will help the organization help area children. They need clothing donations and volunteers to help make the store a success. Clothes To Kids is looking for organizations or individuals who would like to hold clothing drives for them as well as volunteers to work in the store. Clothing needs to be clean and in good condition. Students from pre-K through 12th grade shop at the store so Clothes To Kids accepts clothing in kids’ sizes 4–16, women’s 0–22 and men’s 18–44 as well as shoes, bras, belts, purses, hats, jewelry, backpacks and new underwear and socks.

Volunteers are also needed to help sort and stock clothing and to work in the store checking shoppers in and helping them shop for outfits.

“The schools identify the students who are on free and reduced lunch,” said Saft. “They are invited to come to the store twice a year, where they can pick out five tops, four bottoms, shoes, underwear, socks, a coat in season and a dress for the girls. We are a very community-based organization.”

Groups or individuals who would like to help Clothes To Kids can find more information online at ClothesToKids.org or by calling the Tampa location at (813) 616-6430.

How Can You Help?

Clothes to Kids accepts new and used clothing in good condition and cash donations.

• The cost for Clothes To Kids to provide a week's wardrobe of school clothing to an eligible student is only $50.
• 87 percent of expenditures go directly to the program; for every $1 you donate, $.87 goes directly to clothing a child!
• More than 73 percent of Clothes to Kids funding comes from individuals like you.
• Clothes To Kids is 100 percent privately funded by individuals in our community, as well as businesses, organizations and private foundations.
• All donations are tax-deductible.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW from East to West

In addition to far flung corners of the world, WOW has traveled from the U.S. Atlantic coast to the Pacific coasts of Hawaii since last summer.

In recent years Radcliffe’s Don and Mignon Patterson have spent the summer traveling extensively with their children Lila and Luke, always with the WOW in hand. Mignon just forwarded last year’s photos but some of their geothermal themes proved timely.

The photo of the Lila and Luke Patterson at the Halemaumau Crater was taken about 15-20 miles from the Hawaiian volcanic activity recently in the news. The crater is located in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, a park established in 1916 on the big island of Hawaii. That park features two active volcanoes: Kīlauea, the volcano whose eruptions have kept us in awe, and Mauna Loa, a massive shield volcano. Currently the Kīlauea area of the park is closed due to its dangerous activity.

Luke and Lila are also shown at Yellowstone’s famous Old Faithful geyser, which regularly erupts every 44 to 125 minutes. Perhaps the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful, along with the rest of Yellowstone National Park’s extensive thermal features, sit atop the Yellowstone caldera, a supervolcano in Northwest Wyoming. It has seen three massive, continent-effecting eruptions, roughly one every 600,000 years. They occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 630,000 years ago. Given the time frame between the current era and the last eruption, scientists nervously watch the area for unusual activity. Keep your fingers crossed because its next supereruption would likely devastate most life in the United States. The good news? Among the lower 48, the two states that are least likely to be affected are California and Florida.

More recently Nancy Pease of the Greens visited Mystic, Connecticut’s seaport. In November she held WOW with the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship behind her. In the colonial era and 19th century, Mystic Connecticut was a leading maritime port and today the Mystic Seaport Museum is the largest maritime museum.

The ship was built and launched in 1841, a year that saw three different U.S. presidents. The year began with one-term president Martin Van Buren. March saw the inauguration of William Henry Harrison, who died after just 31 days in office, making John Tyler president. (Only one other year, 1881, saw three U.S. presidents.) The year the Charles W. Morgan set sail saw the whaling industry at its highpoint as thousands of ships rendered blubber to produce whale oil, the fuel most commonly used in 19th century oil lamps and a popular ingredient in soap. It set off on what today are highly controversial hunts just 10 years before the publication of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Located at the Mystic Seaport Museum, the ship was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It’s the oldest surviving U.S. merchant ship (only the U.S.S. Constitution, a warship, is an older, surviving seagoing vessel in the U.S.) The Charles W. Morgan is also the only surviving wooden whaling vessel.

We thank the Pattersons and Nancy Peas for sharing their travels with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Summer Vacations!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your summer vacation 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

New Vet Comes to Town

West Park Animal Hospital opened its doors to dogs and cats this spring.

Located at the corner of Race Track Road and Countryway Boulevard, the practice is co-owned by veterinarians Danielle Churchill, David Gosche and Erin Hyde. Churchill said she and her husband (Gosche) had been thinking about opening their own practice for several years. “Many practices are becoming corporately owned and that can lead to cookie cutter care. We wanted to establish a locally owned place where we could tailor care specifically to the animal.”

Churchill said that one of the missions of the practice is to ensure that all pets and their owners feel comfortable and at ease when coming for a visit. The doctors and staff are working to complete feline friendly and fear-free certifications. “It is important to us that we promote a stress-free environment for pets. There are lots of cool tricks and tips you can use to help both dogs and cats feel comfortable during their visit. We book extra time for every appointment. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable here.”

In addition to wellness and preventative care, the doctors and staff at West Park Animal Hospital can perform routine surgeries, take advanced digital x-rays, and offer day-time emergency services. Churchill said they offer advanced digital dentistry and are able to perform surgical extractions when needed. They also have an ultra sound that can be used for emergency services.

In additional to making sure pets and their owners are comfortable and well cared for, Churchill said that West Park Animal Hospital is committed to giving back to their community. They have partnered with Owl’s Nest Sanctuary to care for and rehabilitate injured wild life. Recently they cared for a soft-shell turtle who had been hit by a car. Churchill said the turtle had lots of eggs, which she laid while being cared for at the clinic. “We took care of both mom and her eggs. It was a great experience.”

West Park Animal Hospital is located at 11659 Countryway Blvd. For more information visit http://www.westpark.vet

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Village Voices: Radcliffe

There’s a lot of recent activity in the amount of new for sale signs in the neighborhood. Got a couple inquiries about our mailboxes, and I guess it’s time to refresh for all Radcliffe residents. We have very specific requirements.

Section 4.1.5 of the Residential Community Guidelines states that all neighborhoods shall maintain a common standard mailbox. For Radcliffe this means among other things that our mailboxes will be constructed of aluminum with stainless hardware and shall be purchased through Metalcraft Industries, Inc., located at 120 Cypress Road, Ocala, FL 34472. Furthermore, all mailboxes shall be bronze aluminum (not black) with the Westchase logo. Numbers must be added on in brass. Replacement numbers can also be obtained from Metalcraft. Contact Robin Liles at http://www.metalcraftindustries.net by ph,one at (888) 609-3779, or fax at (888) 242-0652. A replacement number set can be obtained for $31, tax included.

Also, if your box is showing its age, Robin can also quote you a reasonable price for a replacement. Metalcraft has a maintenance team in Tampa weekly, and they are easy to deal with.

By Keith Heinemann, Radcliffe Alternate VM

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Public Notice of Guideline Changes

At their July 10 and Aug. 14 meetings, Westchase Voting Members will consider a community-wide change to roofing material rules and a neighborhood specific guideline amendment for The Vineyards.

Community-Wide Roof Materials Guideline Amendment

VMs will consider a change to the community-wide roofing guideline, affecting all Westchase homes. The proposed changes appear below in italics within the existing guideline’s wording. To be approved, a community-wide guideline must be approved by VMs representing 66 percent of Westchase homes at two consecutive meetings.

The change to the existing roofing materials guideline follows:

Composition

Roofs must be composition dimensional, fungus resistant fiberglass shingles, clay or cement tile, stone coated metal, or slate (If proper architectural modifications have been made). Other types of metal roofing are allowed as long as they give the appearance of shingle, tile, slate or shakes (a.k.a. wood). See INSG for any additional restrictions. All other roofing materials including, but not limited to, wood, copper and sheet metal Key West style roofs (also known as standing seam or vertical panel roofs) are not allowed.

Specifications

Roofs must meet Florida Product Approval (FPA).  Energy Star rating, impact resistance, and stain resistance are desirable features. All roofs must carry a manufacturer’s warrantee of at least, or in excess of, 30 years.

Colors

Roofs must be solid colored or mildly variegated. All colors must be black or soft, muted earth tones or neutrals. A subdued shade of Mediterranean red is acceptable for tile style roofs only.

Styles

Styles of roofs may be: conventional dimensional shingle; designer shingle; barrel, flat, or boosted mortar tile; shingles whose style mimics gives the appearance of wood (a.k.a. shakes) or slate; and metal roofing whose style gives the appearance of shingle, wood (a.k.a. shakes), slate or tile. There are no restrictions on shape and oversized tabs may be used.

Proposed Paint Palette Guideline for The Vineyards

The following guideline amendment was approved by The Vineyards subassociation. To be adopted it now has to be considered and approved by a supermajority of VMs for a second time at the July 10 VM meeting. The amendment follows:

1. Color palette was revised in 2008. Vineyards homes must be painted every seven (7) years. All exterior painting/repainting of homes must be submitted for approval to the Vineyards Architectural Review Committee. Mod request form is on website. If ARC approves, form is sent to WCA MC for final approval. If ARC does not approve, homeowner is contacted.
2. Approved exterior paint colors are on the website http://www.westchasevineyards.org and in spreadsheet titled Vineyards Master Color Palette 2008-06.
3. Only those exterior paint colors which are listed on spreadsheet are permitted. Any paint manufacturer may be used so long as color is matched to the approved Sherwin Williams paint color.
4. A minimum of three (3) and maximum of four (4) paint colors are permitted per unit. One color must be declared the house body color. For 3 colors – body, trim, shutters and front door (if painting the same color), OR for 4 colors – body, trim, shutters, front door. Coach lights are not considered in either number (see below #9).
5. Any siding must be painted body color only.
6. Home additions must be painted the same color as the existing body. Existing body colors no longer on the color palette will be grandfathered in for home addition painting only. If the existing portion of home needs repainting at time of construction, than an approved color from the current palette must be selected for the entire home.
7. Body colors shall not be the same color as adjacent homes and/or directly across the street.
8. Only three (3) Trim and Garage Door colors are approved: Pure White; Extra White; or Ceiling Brite White
9. Only four (4) Coach light colors approved: Pure White; Extra White; Ceiling Brite White or Tricorn Black
10. There are 3 colors that are on the door/shutter color palette that are ONLY for doors: Red Bay, Tanager and Rave Red. These 3 colors cannot be used for shutters.
11. Shutters and front door have approved colors different from body color. Shutters and front door can be different colors as long as they are on our palette.
12. Front porch concrete shall be maintained and if painting new, it must be done as the same color originally used by the developer, known as “battleship gray.” Closest color is SW-7023 Requisite Gray. Painting not required for porches that have pavers.
13. Pillars/Rails don’t need to be painted however, they must be kept clean
14. Sheen of paint shall not exceed semi-gloss for the body/wall.
15. Definitions:
• Body/Wall – Wall, siding, patio/porch ceilings, utility connections, cable and phone boxes, solar piping on wall
• Trim and Garage doors– Soffit, gutter, contrasting border around windows, includes side garage door if applicable to your home
• Front doors and shutters (faux shutters around windows and/or on body wall)
• Coach lights – at garage doors

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

West Park Village Town Center: a Looming Ghost Town?

In recent years, the West Park Town Center, at the intersection of Montague Street and Linebaugh Avenue, has been notable not for its store openings.

It’s seen a stream of store closings.

In the last two years, a fruit fondue establishment opened and closed within months.

Starbucks, arguably the commercial center’s anchor, built a new establishment in the Costco plaza. After months of denied rumors about its West Park location, it shuttered in February, its windows quickly covered with brown paper.

In June Donna and John Woelfel, Proprietors of The Olive Tree, would have celebrated its fifth anniversary. On May 2, the couple sent their regulars an email. “Over the past eight months circumstances at West Park Village have deteriorated to the point that it was extremely difficult to continue operating our business. As a result, we decided that it was in our best interests to move on and focus our efforts on our Wesley Chapel store.”

Now two other proprietors, Southern Bay Bakery and Painting With a Twist, admit to struggles. Jennifer Bobrovetski, owner of Painting With a Twist, says they’ll be unable to renew their lease next summer unless something significantly changes. “If this is not the kind of business that Westchase is interested in supporting, than we just won’t make it,” she stated, pointing out she has as many customers from Oldsmar as she does her surrounding community.

On social media, theories about the closures abounded in recent months. The rents are too high, some argued, blaming Westchase Community Development District (CDD) assessments on the properties. Some, including proprietors, pointed to the lack of community support. Others flat out blamed Starbucks for playing spoiler.

Starbucks: An Outsized Impact

Getting anyone to talk on the record about Starbucks’ departure was a challenge, yet every one of the struggling businesses placed a good portion of the blame for the town center’s recent struggles on the coffee shop’s relocation – and suggested Starbucks’ refusal to fully vacate the premises was placing a drag on the center’s other tenants.

Katrina Williams of Carroll Management’s West Park Town Center leasing office observed in late May, “Starbucks has us in limbo right now.”  She added, “They’re still paying rent on that space.”

It was a shrewd move for Starbucks. By keeping out coffee shop competitors who have expressed interest in the space, it compelled Westchase folks looking for their caffeine fix to go elsewhere, many of them to Starbucks’ new drive-through in the Costco Plaza.

With their lease still intact, Starbucks also directly impacts sales at Southern Bay Bakery

“Because of the lease, we can only do 10 percent in coffee sales in a month,” stated the bakery’s owner, Haylee Beach Shaddock. Beach Shaddock added the Starbucks’ lease forbid other businesses in the center from selling espresso-based drinks.

“To my understanding, Starbucks would like to do that until 2021,” she said.

Beach Shaddock added, “The leasing office is trying to do everything they can.” She added, “Hopefully the leasing office will have the space back at the end of this month. And the coffee exclusivity that Starbucks had will be gone.”

The ability to sell more coffee and espresso drinks, she said, would be key to her bakery’s survival.

Carroll’s West Park Property Manager, Clint Snouwaert, who was named the leasing center’s manager in January, stated he was unable to comment on the matter but acknowledged the leasing center was working to exercise its right to reclaim the vacant anchor space despite Starbucks paying the rent. “I really was told not to speak on this,” he said, adding that he might have news about a new tenant for the space later in June.

Snouwaert added, referring to Starbucks, “Even before they were moving out, we were working on a solution for it.” He stated that the solution has taken time but the leasing office understands the importance of filling the anchor spot. “We know it’s good for the other retailers. We know it’s good for the residents,” he said. “We’re working to get it filled as soon as possible.”

For John Woelfel, Starbucks’ closing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. “That killed our foot traffic,” he said. “That business was critical to that community. That gave us a lot of exposure.”

“A lot of regulars in the area stopped coming,” Beach Shaddock agreed. “They’ve slowly come back but they’re not around as much.”

One rumor Snouwaert wanted to tamp down concerning Starbucks departure?

The leasing office didn’t raise Starbucks’ rent. The company had a number of years left in its 10-year lease.

Other Tenant Complaints

Woelfel stated he regretted their plans to expand The Olive Tree by opening a gourmet market. The plan was to get an alcohol permit to permit the store to sell select wines. When the couple signed the lease, Woelfel said they were told the parcel was wet-zoned. When the couple went to get a county permit, they discovered it wasn’t. Woelfel added that when they approached Carroll Management and requested they share the costs of wet-zoning the parcel, the leasing office declined. With Publix opening a liquor store and the newly opened Costco offering a wide selection of wines, the Woelfels decided it made no sense to spend the money for the alcohol permit.

Woelfel added another frustration about the leasing office. “The maintenance was just horrible. When you called to get something done, nothing was ever done with it,” he said.

When WOW asked Catherine Ansel of Couture, the other anchor store owner in the center about the town center’s maintenance, she initially responded with a frustrated grunt. “Ugh,” she said, before adding. “It’s fine. Let’s just say that.”

When asked if she thought the center’s maintenance was handled well, Beach Shaddock “Yes and no. Some things they move very quickly on. Other things they do not move very quickly on.” The bakery owner noted that her exterior commercial sign broke last year when they attempted to change the bakery’s name on it. “We still don’t have a sign,” she said. “Things like that are just a little frustrating.”

Snouwaert, however, insisted his office strives to be responsive. “The only complaint I’ve got that I’m working on this week is old signage issues that need to be removed,” he said. “I don’t get a lot of complaints about maintenance issues.” He added, “Most of the concerns are about the vacant Starbucks space. We’re more than happy to fix things.”

Woelfel also said that Carroll Management, which owns many residential apartment properties across the U.S., lacks experience with commercial centers as most of Carroll’s complexes don’t have them. For one, Woelfel said, he was frustrated that the center never advertised or promoted the center and its businesses.

Snouwaert acknowledged that few of Carroll’s properties have a commercial component. “We primarily focus on residential. This property is unique in that it has a retail factor,” he said, adding “This is one of our larger properties.”

Their West Park Village office manages over 600 apartments in addition to the retail space.

Addressing Woelfel’s complaint that the company didn’t advertise the complex, Snouwaert said they did promote the businesses among their apartment residents – an assertion Beach Shaddock agreed was accurate. Snouwaert said that Carroll also advertises its apartments and townhomes. As for the businesses? “To be honest, I believe they are responsible for their advertising,” said Snouwaert. “We’re a landlord that manages space. We don’t run the businesses. Each of the retailers is responsible for running and managing their business.”

Rents: Are They Too High?

WOW inquired whether the Westchase CDD’s assessments led to higher rents on the commercial properties but not a single tenant interviewed said that rents were out-of-line for the area or too high. In addition to rent, tenants pay taxes and maintenance fees, referred to CAM fees. All said the total commercial fees, tax included, came to just over $30 per square foot annually.

Only Beach Shaddock observed that the rent she was paying for her Westchase location was markedly higher than what she’s paying for her St. Petersburgh bakery.

“It’s high,” Ansel said of her rent, “but I think it’s comparable to other nice plazas.”

For comparison, Woelfel stated that their current commercial space in farther out Wesley Chapel is equally expensive. He downplayed the rent issue as the cause, pointing to the failed expansion as the real financial burden. “It definitely was a mistake,” he said.

Yet, it’s a commonly heard observation – that Westchase CDD assessments push rents so high that they put undue pressure on the tenants and leave Westchase retail space vacant.

To test the assumption, WOW spoke to Tom Brubaker, a commercial Realtor with Tam-Bay. “They’ve had this problem in this center before,” he said. “When the market crashed, they lowered rents. And,” he added, referring to existing tenants paying higher rents, “that pissed off everyone in the complex.”

From Brubaker’s perspective, Carroll Management might temporarily prefer vacant spots than hold a fire sale.

Yet an annual square foot rental price of just over $30 doesn’t appear to put the West Park Village Town Center’s rents out of line with nearby complexes – even those whose owners don’t pay CDD assessments.

Brubaker shared typical rents in comparable complexes with retail stores. Among those that are also assessed by the Westchase CDD are the western part of Westchase Town Center, holding  5/3 Bank, Jersey Mike’s and Chipotle. That area charges $34 per square foot plus an additional unknown CAM charge. The eastern side of Westchase Town Center, holding Maloney’s and World of Beer, charges $29 plus an estimated $9 per square foot CAM fee.  That’s breaks $40 per square foot, tax included.

The least expensive CDD-assessed retail strip?

The Village Plaza at Westchase, the home of Mother’s, Surf Shack, Froyo and Surf Shack, charges $21 with an $8.50 square foot CAM. With the 6.8 sales tax on commercial rents, even this plaza reaches an equivalent to rents reportedly paid in West Park Village Town Center.

What about non-CDD assessed plazas’ rents?

According to Brubaker, Citrus Park Crossing, the complex between Firestone and DQ and holding BedPros and AT&T, has square foot rents of $24 annually, plus a $6.48 square foot CAM, an equivalent rent when tax is included.

Citrus Falls Commons, the home of Grille 54 and Mellow Mushroom, has a square foot rent of $20 plus $7.76 CAM. With tax, it comes in just shy of $30. The Winn Dixie shopping center at Race Track Road and Nine Eagles Drive has rents of $27.48 per square foot, CAM and tax included. Yet it’s surrounded by markedly fewer homes within a five-mile radius.

The only noticeably lower Northwest retail plaza with lower rents lies adjacent to the abandoned Sweetbay on the corner of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh Avenue. The home of Focus Nails, Super Cuts and My Gym, its rents are $20.16 per square foot, everything included. Yet its tenants have to contend with a perpetually empty anchor store that, Brubaker mentioned, Sweetbay was purposefully keeping vacant to reduce local competition.

In short, CDD assessments don’t appear to be significantly increasing West Park Village Town Center’s rents over rents in nearby retail plazas.

Community and Business Support

“As the owner of Painting with a Twist, we are struggling,” said Bobrovetski. “And whenever a business closes, everyone is so quick to say it's because the rent is high.  But in reality, it's not the rent. It's the community.”

“If the community doesn't support its small businesses, it doesn't really matter how much the rent is, they aren't going to survive,” said Bobrovetski.  “Westchase residents need to support their small businesses and in return those small businesses support the community,” she said, emphasizing their support of local schools and charitable groups.

Woelfel also pointed to a lack of community support – not the CDD fees – as prompting the closing of The Olive Tree. “I felt the Westchase community let us down,” he said. Woelfel detailed their investments to create a high-class retail environment. “It was done the right way. It just wasn’t supported.”

He added that cooperation in the center itself from fellow businesses was lacking, saying that commercial owners  once tried to have a tenants’ meeting but only six of the 20 business owners bothered to show up. This lack of cooperation, Woelfel said, made it hard to plan events, a challenge worsened by the CDD’s refusal to allow businesses to use the Montague Street green for for-profit events and the leasing office’s penchant for last-minute event planning.

When asked if she felt that Westchase residents supported local businesses enough, Beach Shaddock, said, “Yes, in a way. But I think they could do a little better supporting local businesses.”

While Beach Shaddock acknowledged she needs to do a better job at getting word of her bakery out, she said there were great benefits supporting local bakeries over commercial bakeries in supermarkets like Publix. “You’re buying quality, fresher ingredients from us.”

If residents thought about it more, she added, they’d feel uncomfortable with the fact that commercial bakeries leave things like cupcakes with buttercream frosting – supposedly made with butter that requires refrigeration – out on display for hours. “If you are wanting to pump your body with preservatives, go to Publix and fill your body with their cakes and cupcakes,” she said.

Does Carroll Management see a problem with community support of the complex’s stores? After some thought, Snouwaert said that he’s only been on site since January, but he’s actually been impressed with the number of community events he’s seen that use the town center as their focus, like The Great West Chase and the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Santa Parade. “I think there is more in the Westchase community than other communities,” he said.

Town Center Success

It’s not uncommon for some Westchase residents, upon seeing a new business open up in Westchase commercial areas, to trade snarky estimates on how long they think the business will last. “We would have customers who would come in and tell us, ‘You’ll never make it here. This a revolving door here.’” said Woelfel. “How would you like to hear that?”

Woelfel added with frustration, “And to have that happen to us five years later and see the people who left and see it become a revolving door.”

Yet there are tenants that have clearly defied the revolving door. Catch Twenty-Three is an original tenant as are Bright Eyes Vision Care, the YMCA as well as a financial advisor and dentist. Woof! Here It Is, a pet supply and grooming store has been open eight years (with a previous dog store and bakery open in the same spot two years prior to that).

Meanwhile Couture Designer Resale Boutique, the town center’s other anchor on the corner of Montague and Linebaugh, is also an original tenant. Its owner moved her smaller store to the larger anchor spot when her business grew in West Park Village. Owner Catherine Ansel consigns previously owned designer apparel, shoes, bags and jewelry. Last year, she said, the store hit $3 million in sales and now has 10 employees, with 55-60 percent of her business done online.

“We have a lot of repeat customers from over the years and we have new customers. We’re pretty busy most of the time,” Ansel said. “People come from all over the place.”

Half of her rented space customers don’t even see. She reserves it for stock, preparing and shipping packages and even a photo room, to get pictures of her consigned items for posting online.

A look at her Internet presence makes clear Ansel has mastered online promotion and advertising. Yet when asked what she attributes her success in the town center to, she said, “Merchandise and service. We offer luxury at a discounted price.”

Ansel added, “We reach out to the community very often. We do parties. And we do marketing online.”

A steady advertising budget is also key to her business’ success. “We also spend tons of money so everyone can find us.”

“We’ve grown over the years and keep growing,” said Ansel. “We’re very fortunate.”

What Next?

What will the post Starbucks West Park Town Center look like?

Late in May, Snouwaert said, Carroll Management approved the paint swatches that were applied around the former Starbucks entrance some weeks ago. That pattern will eventually cover the entire retail complex with Catch 23 and Irish 51 perhaps featuring different end-cap colors.

The exterior of the 600 apartments will also see repainting, with Snouwaert stating he hoped that the commercial storefronts would begin being repainted around the third week of June (after WOW deadline).

As for what might fill the empty storefronts?

“I do know there’s interest in some of those spaces,” said Snouwaert, “but I can’t say who or what or timelines or anything like that.”

Snouwaert added some good news. He acknowledged that there is interest in the Starbucks spot. And he promised he will announce the new tenant as soon as he is able.

In the meantime, the business owners in West Park Town Center invite residents to stop by – because, they say, it’s in your interest too.

“If you don’t support small businesses, then you have a big ghost town,” Bobrovetski said. “And then it affects your real estate values. I think it has such a domino effect, and I don’t think people realize it.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

WOW thanks Tom Brubaker of Tam-Bay Realty for sharing the commercial real estate data used in this article.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Bella and Luka!

Bella and Luka reside in their “furever” home with retirees Kathy and Marty Spolarich in West Hampton.  These two domestic short-hair cats are littermates born in April 2007 and adopted later that year from the rescue organization Cats Are Tops. 

Bella and Luka love to prowl their home’s lanai enclosure searching for lizards and bird/squirrel watching. (They get into trouble when they bring the lizards back in the house.)  They have many toys to play with and enjoy napping and sleeping with their parents.

Life is good!

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Q and A: Celebrating the Fourth

We asked Westchase residents, “How do you celebrate Independence Day?”

Steven and Hailey Black, The Greens

We're originally from Pittsburgh and usually head for Pennsylvania this time of year. We want the kids to stay connected to the family up there and to enjoy our family roots. We try to get to a Pirates game. It's usually cooler up there and if we’re lucky, we'll have lightning bugs for the little ones to see. Of course, we'll have a picnic on the Fourth. I'm sure we'll have sparklers for the kids and watch a fireworks show, but it's mostly about relaxing and just enjoying being with family.

Kelli Bradley, The Enclave

We are definitely "fireworks people." Our kids are 3½ and 6 they love them too. Every year we try to go someplace different to watch. This year we decided we wanted to go to Washington, D.C. for the Fourth. It's been on our bucket list for a long time and the kids are old enough now that they'll enjoy it. Our son was watching A Night At The Museum on TV and said, "Mommy, that's where I want to go." We are really looking forward to seeing the sights and museums in Washington. I think is will give our children great memories that will last a lifetime, and I can't wait to see the fireworks on the Mall.

George Lakiotis and Dominic, Tree Tops

I grew up in Florida and when I was a kid we'd always go to Clearwater Beach to watch fireworks. My wife's family is from upstate New York and for the past couple of years she and kids have been spending the summer up there. I go back and forth. We'll all be there for the Fourth this year, weather permitting. Last year, I had to come back early because of the hurricane heading for Tampa. My wife's family has a place on a big lake. There are at least 40 camps on the lake and every one of them seems to have fireworks sometime during the evening. The best thing is the cooler weather.

Sierra and Ben Grasel, Abbotsford

Sierra: The Fourth is a big birthday time for us. Ben's birthday is July 3 and several others have July birthdays so we usually have a combination Fourth of July/birthday party on the Fourth. I make a Red-White-Blue cake and Ben does the grilling out by the pool.

Ben: I love to grill and it's great that we can have family over to enjoy the pool. We usually go someplace to watch a fireworks show. We like Channelside but we're always looking for new places.

By Phil Dean

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Four Seats Open in Sept. 11 WCA Board of Directors Election

Have you considered serving your Westchase community as a board member?

On Sept. 11, 2018, the election of four Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors seats will take place at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. Voting members (VMs) will elect the new directors, each of whom is to serve two-year terms. Current WCA directors whose terms expire this year are Brian Ross, Keith Heinemann, Forrest Baumhover and Ruben Collazo.

The WCA Board of Directors is responsible for compliance with all deed restrictions, maintaining both of our swim and tennis centers, and setting WCA policies. Every board member is a volunteer. More detailed descriptions of the board’s role may be found in the Government Primer at the back of WOW or by calling the WCA office at 926-6404.

Any homeowner is eligible to serve and nominate himself or herself, or to nominate another resident they believe would be a good addition to the board. Although not required, experience in Westchase governance, such as serving as a voting member or alternate, as a WCA committee member, or on a sub-association board, is helpful background for board membership.

Florida statutes require new board members to complete a form stating that they have read the association’s Declaration of Covenants, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and current written rules and policies. They also commit to upholding such documents and policies to the best of their ability and to discharge their fiduciary responsibilities to the WCA members in good faith at all times.

If you are interested in WCA Board membership, please prepare a short narrative biography of approximately 250 words for the VMs to review and email it with a high resolution photo to manager@westchasewca.com. Candidates’ photos and biographies, written in narrative form rather than resume form, will be printed in the September WOW if received by the Aug. 10 deadline. Nominations from the floor will also be accepted at the Sept. 11 meeting.

Feel free to reach the WCA office at 926-6404 or manager@wcamanager.com or contact Nominating Committee Chair Rick Goldstein at rick.westchase@gmail.com, with any questions. Rick may also be reached at (813) 920-6470.

By Rick Goldstein, Nominating Committee Chair

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WCA Board Revisits Covenants Committee Kerfuffle

At the June 7 WCA Board of Directors meeting, directors clarified that their mission was to treat both volunteers and residents equally.

Opening the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board meeting, all directors voted in favor of Harbor Links resident Wendy Baire’s request to allow the Westchase Women’s USTA 4.0 tennis team to use the tennis courts despite not meeting the 50 percent Westchase resident requirement. She estimated that 25 percent of the team lived in Westchase. She added that it had been reported incorrectly in WOW’s previous meeting coverage that the non-residents on the team did not want to pay the $25 non-resident fee. “I was told we could not play and said that, ‘If we could not play, they did not want to pay,’ but if we are able to play, we will pay.”

Directors then tackled Director Brian Ross’ concerns about communication from a member of the Covenants Committee, the group that handles fines for homeowner violations.

After the May WCA meeting members of the Modifications Committee felt that the WCA was not appreciative of their work or considering their suggestions when evaluating homeowners’ appeals. Committee Member Nancy Sells sent an e-mail to WCA directors with a statement that Ross thought could be perceived as encouraging the board to give favoritism to the committee’s word over the homeowner’s word when considering fine appeals.

Ross said that since all WCA emails are public record, he thought that WCA President Ruben Collazo should send a response stating that it was the board’s policy to treat all homeowners equally and that volunteer service did not give anyone the right to special treatment. Otherwise, he said, he felt the email could put the WCA at legal risk. Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock said that emotions were very high after the meeting and that she took the question in the email to be rhetorical, not a legitimate request. Sells clarified that she was not asking for volunteers to be put on a different level than residents but said that many on the committee felt like they were under attack at the meeting.

Modifications Committee Chair Dale Sells, Nancy’s husband, said that the resident at the May meeting had made allegations against the Covenants Committee and that the committee members, “were not given the opportunity to talk.” He said that they did not say anything during the meeting because they did not want to, “ruffle any feathers.” He added, “There have been two incidents where the perception has been that volunteers’ work, opinion is not valued. The intention of the email was to ask the board to give volunteers the same treatment as residents.”

Ross said, “I’m not looking to make anyone feel bad. Lawyers can seize upon language and twist it. I agree with what Dale said [that] everyone should be treated equally. There is a mission statement that should be made that all are treated equally.”

Collazo asked the board what directors wanted him to do. Ross said he thought that Collazo could craft an email that addressed the concerns. “I understand their feelings. My intention is not to go after the committee. Just to clarify that we treat all volunteers and residents equal. There is no preferential treatment.”

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that Arehna Engineer concluded the cracks in the West Park Village tennis courts were caused by decomposing palmetto tree roots under the courts. “The ground settles and then the courts crack,” she said. All voted in favor of spending $1,650 to repair the cracks versus an estimated $100,000 to redo the courts.

Sainz reminded directors that budget season was about to start and asked them to forward any items they would like to see incorporated into next year’s budget.

Government Affairs Committee Chair Rick Goldstein warned everyone that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office would ticket residents driving through the CVS parking lot to avoid the Sheldon/Linebaugh intersection. He said the new no turn on red rule was put in place by the Department of Transportation for safety concerns. He added he was working with the county to get a no parking zone established near Seafood Exchange in the Westchase Town Center and that Wait-Woodcock was working to get no skateboarding signs posted in the same area.

Goldstein also said that the groundbreaking for the extension of Citrus Park Dr. was scheduled for spring of 2019.

All board members voted to appoint Stockbridge Voting Member (VM) Ed Siler chair of the Document Review Committee and Keswick VM Brain Loudermilk, Bennington VM Russ Crooks and Chelmsford resident Paul Meyer to the Drainage Committee. Goldstein was appointed chair of the Nominating Committee.

A Fords resident said that part of the plants to screen his air conditioner were in place and that the rest would be by the weekend. Directors denied his request to appeal his fine but agreed to to allow his family to use the WCA facilities again because of the health benefits his wife received from swimming.

A Shires resident told the board that he felt he had been treated unfairly and differently from his neighbor over a parking violation. He said that after he received violation letters noting two incidents of street parking, he called Sainz and told her that it was not his car and that she said she’d take care of it. He then got a notice that his fine had been suspended and that he was on probation for three months. He said his neighbor had the same violation but that it was taken care of with one call. He said that another association employee had told him he needed to bring in pictures of his cars and proof of insurance and that he thought that was a violation of his privacy. Director Brian Ross told him that at different points in the violation process, things were resolved in different ways and made a motion to rescind his fine and use suspension. All voted in favor.

Director Joaquin Arrillaga was absent from the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted June 15, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

VMs Applaud Management Renewal; Criticize “Guideline Amendment Creep”

At June 12 Voting Members meeting, WCA President Ruben Collazo announced a five-year renewal of the association’s management contract with Greenacre properties.

Hearing they would keep the existing management team, VMs applauded.

Collazo then gave Hillsborough County’s Stephanie Agliano an award for her responsiveness and assistance to Westchase. Agliano responded,“It’s been a pleasure working with Westchase. Everybody comes together to get things done. Rick (Goldstein) has been wonderful. I appreciate this.”

Deputy Hugh Alter, Westchase’s Community Resource Deputy, provided an update on Westchase crime, describing it as “relatively light right now.” He acknowledged West Park Village had more issues than other neighborhoods with car related crimes and “car hopping.” He advised residents to always lock their car doors even if they live in a gated community. Another trend involves smash and grab thefts of purses and valuables when people briefly go into a day care centers. He suggested never leaving valuables in vehicles.

Alter also announced that residents can no longer turn right on a red light at the corner of Linebaugh and Sheldon heading west on Linebaugh. He said that people have been driving through CVS and Burger King to avoid the intersection, but law enforcement officers will be ticketing.

Related to the many complaints in West Park Village about parking issues, Deputy Alter responded that they have been writing warnings and citations and reminded everyone that it is illegal to park too closely to intersections. “I’ve written citations for that,” he said. Alter added the sheriff’s department has now been given county approval to issue citations inside of The Greens.

A vote to appoint Dan Peters to the Variance Committee was unanimously approved as was a final vote for Glencliff’s guideline amendment for driveway pavers.

The proposed Vineyards Paint Guideline was approved with one dissenting vote by Cynde Mercer (The Bridges), who expressed concern that this guideline is less restrictive than the master Westchase guideline.

The Metal Roof Committee also brought samples of various approved roof materials. Collazo said that VMs would likely be asked to make their first vote in July for a proposed guideline change for acceptable roofing materials.

Dale Sells, Modification Committee Chair, wanted VMs to understand the documents which govern Westchase and how these are used by the Modifications Committee. He explained that they do have an architect and retain if one is needed but they try to limit the architect’s attendance due to the expense. He suggested that before people submit a modification, they check their individual neighborhood guidelines first. He explained “The biggest thing I’d point out is that we deal in facts. Whether or not it looks nice is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what our opinion is. It’s all what is in the documents.”

Sells then discussed the recent issue where a Bridges resident painted their garage door a faux wood color, stating the Modifications Committee had approved a UV protectant clear coat. He said that if the committee had known the intent was to paint the garage door an imitation wood brown, it would have been denied. He also said that the committee had never changed their minds about the decision. Board member Ashley Wait-Woodcock who was in attendance said, “It was confusing because it said clear but there was a picture of a brown garage door attached.”

Sells responded, “We talked about it as a group and came to the same conclusion that everything said clear.”

Kingsford VM Forrest Baumhover, who is on the committee, agreed. “All four of us in the room thought the request was for clear,” he said.

Sells concluded by stating that the governing documents are all “living documents” and that it was time to update them again. He was requesting volunteers to serve on the Documents Committee and recommended VM Ed Siler (Stockbridge) chair the new committee.

VMs final discussion was around “Guideline creep,” which Collazo had written about in the June World of Westchase. In the article Collazo had explained that he opposes entertaining individual neighborhood specific guideline change requests (INSG)s to resolve an issue where the homeowner made a modification without getting approval first. Collazo asked VMs to stop approving any INSG that is borne out of a violation.

Goldstein approved. “I am in complete agreement,” he said. “It disturbs me when someone has a violation then asks us to excuse the violation by proposing a change.”

VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) added, “In the past, there have been people who painted their house with an unapproved color and they have been forced to repaint. This is how we stop them.”

VM Gerald Pappa (The Greens) also agreed. “We have to stay firm and draw the line in the sand. We have to stand firm as a group.”

VMs adjourned at 8:13 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted June 15, 2018

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Elementary Receives New Principal

After its principal suddenly departed on May 4, Westchase Elementary saw the school board name its new leader on May 15. Named principal by vote of the Hillsborough School Board was Elise Suarez.

Named principal by vote of the Hillsborough School Board was Elise Suarez. Area 2 Superintendent Marcos Murillo said Suarez was the top candidate based on her knowledge and experience.

Suarez has been assistant principal at Westchase Elementary for a year and a half. While she has been acting as principal since May 5, Suarez will officially take the position July 1.

A graduate of Sickles High School, Suarez earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, her master’s degree from Framingham State University and her Education Specialist degree from the University of Massachusetts. She has taught Kindergarten, second, fourth and fifth grades in Durham, North Carolina, and Watertown, Massachusetts, and Tampa This is her fifth year as an assistant principal. Before coming to Westchase Elementary School she was assistant principal at Woodbridge Elementary School.

Not only did Suarez grow up in the Westchase area but she now lives here with her husband, Joey, son, Landon, and daughter, Aubrey. “I’m elated to be principal of Westchase,” Suarez said. “I know that we are going to continue to grow and foster a positive learning environment.”

On May 4, WOW learned that former Westchase Elementary Principal Eric Holley would be leaving his position at Westchase Elementary to take persona leave. When WOW broke the news, parents at the school had not yet been informed of the change. They were notified by text and phone call that afternoon – the last day Holley was on campus.

Holley was named principal at Westchase Elementary in November of 2013, replacing then principal Scott Weaver.

“He’s a really great guy who’s worked well with kids,” Peters said of Holley. “We’re excited about whatever he’s decided to do.”

WOW has reached out by phone to Holley and left him a message requesting more information about his plans. Holley, however, did not return WOW’s phone call.

By Marcy Sanford and Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Vineyards Resident Honored for Volunteerism

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, Regions Bank hosted the Community Impact Dinner for the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA’s most dedicated volunteers.

That evening, one of our own Westchase residents was honored. Brian Simmons, a Vineyards resident, was named the 2018 YMCA Volunteer of the Year for the Northwest Hillsborough Family and West Park Village Express YMCAs.

Brian has been a youth basketball coach at the Northwest YMCA for ages 9-10 and 11-12 for the past four years. He began his journey as a coach when his own daughter expressed interest in playing. Even now that she has aged out of the program, Brian continues to volunteer his time, and recently, his daughter joined in as assistant coach.

Brian has dedicated countless hours, working with girls and boys, coaching multiple teams at a time, with many winning seasons under his belt. In addition to the regular seasons of YMCA basketball, Brian has successfully coached his youth girls' teams to bring home the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA All Star Classic tiles for the last four years in a row.

Along with his dedication, his many volunteer hours have earned him recognition from his employer, as a top volunteer in the company. That recognition has won Brian grants that have brought in more than $10,000 to the YMCA that will help fund future programs like youth basketball. One of Brian’s greatest joys is watching the progression of his players from being brand new on the court to being good enough to become starters on their middle school basketball teams, and even move on to play on their high school teams.

Brian would like to thank the YMCA for this honor and he looks forward to many more years of coaching and mentorship. His family is so proud of his passionate dedication to sports development and to the youth in our community.

By Susie Simmons

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

A Love Letter to the Other Moms

In May we celebrated Mother’s Day with all the lovely moms of our club. We celebrated the moms whose relationship with motherhood is uncomplicated, and we celebrated the other moms. This article is for the Other Moms, the ones who have lost babies, the ones who have struggled for months or years to get pregnant and the ones whose desire to be a mom stays only in their hearts. Today we’re celebrating you.

Before we started trying to start a family and before joining the MOMS Club, I was only vaguely aware of how complicated it could be to have a baby. It wasn’t something anyone in my family or group of friends talked about. When my experience turned out to be more difficult than I expected, it was an incredibly isolating experience. Since joining this wonderfully supportive group of women, who share their joys and successes just as they share their struggles and heartaches, it has opened my eyes to just how many families are affected by pregnancy, infant loss and infertility. I still have a hard time opening up about what I’ve gone through, but I’m hoping to change that and, in doing so, encourage others to do the same, reducing its stigma.

The Other Moms put themselves through acupuncture, supplements, hormone injections and blood draws. They take pregnancy tests that never cooperate, they have ultrasounds that are deafeningly silent, and they hope desperately for a different outcome. What makes it all a little easier is having other moms—moms who understand what they’re going through.

I fall firmly in the Other Moms category, but I have a beautiful, healthy daughter and the support of my MOMS Club, and I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

We are always looking to connect with new moms—both uncomplicated and Other Moms. Visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. I know you’ll find it as supportive and welcoming a community as I have.

By Heather Dagostino

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

WOW at the End of the World

WOW can now say it’s seen the end of the world.

Last December Julie Williams, a former WOW Scholar who used to call the Greens home, sent me a photo (taken by her dad, Mike) holding WOW at the end of the world. “For the past six months, I have been studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taking classes at a university with local students and conducting research in a children’s hospital,” she wrote. “At the end of my studies, my dad came to join me for a Patagonia adventure. We (including the WOW), travelled to Barliloche, where we hiked by a waterfall. We then travelled to El Chalten and hiked the mountain, Fitz Roy, that inspired the Patagonia logo. In El Calafate, we trekked over the Perito Moreno Glacier. Our adventure ended in Ushuaia, the “end the world,” where we walked with penguins and rode an airplane over the Beagle Canal. It was an incredible trip, filled with Argentine steak, great wine, and once-in-a-lifetime adventures!”

Those who can conjure up a map of the world in their heads know that Argentina is the large country in South America that, along with Chile, reaches the southernmost tip of Latin America. That part of Argentina lies only a few hundred miles north of Antarctica. In fact, many boat tours of Antarctica leave from Ushuaia.

Meanwhile the Shehu family of West Park Village brought WOW with them on a European adventure to visit family. “My husband Ermal, myself and our three children – fifth-grader twins Briana and Jorik and our third grader Tea – went to a trip back home where my husband and I were born, Albania, “ wrote Rudina Shehu. “We have visited Albania before with the kids but as they grow up we'd like to go more often so they can spend as much time as possible with their grandparents that live in Tirana, Albania.”

Rudina included several photos. “Each time we go back we try to tour other countries in Europe as part of our trip. This year besides Albania, we also visited Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Italy.”

WOW decided to share her photos of her beautiful homeland of Albania.

Can you place Albania on a mental map?

Albania is a small Mediterranean country of 3 million people. It sits right on the beautiful Adriatic and Ionians Seas across from Italy – 50 miles from the heel of the Italian boot. It is bordered by the Adriatic, the former countries of Yugoslavia to its north and east and Greece to its south. Its center is bisected by the Albanian Alps and the country is host to beautiful castles and medieval architecture.

We thank the Williams and Shehu families for sharing their travels with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Summer Vacations!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your summer vacation 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Allison Foster

This August will find Greens resident Allison Foster studying pediatric nursing Auburn University.

She recently graduated from Alonso High School with a 6.07 weighted GPA, earned over a challenging course of studies that included 14 honors courses and 10 AP courses.

The daughter of John and Sandi Foster, Foster earned an AP Capstone Diploma at Alonso, where she repeatedly was named to the Principal’s Honor Roll and received the AP Scholar Award. Foster was also a member of the National Beta Club National Honor Society and was selected to participate in the Florida Ambassadors of Music Summer European Tour during which she performed in seven European countries.

A talented musician who played the flute in the Alonso band, Foster won superior ratings in her District Solo and Ensemble Competitions and State Solo and Ensemble Competitions. Foster served as band librarian her junior year and section leader senior year.

Outside of school, Foster participated in Lumina Youth Choirs. She was a four-year member of Auditioned High School Girls Choir, Voci de Lumina, and a two-year member of Advanced Auditioned Choir.

Asked at the WOW Scholars dinner what her greatest accomplishment thus far was, Foster answered that it was performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City twice. “Music has impacted my life and choir is one of my favorite things. My parents have supported me endlessly and performing at Carnegie Hall is a dream come true for any musician,” she said.

During high school Foster earned 450 community service hours. She served as a tutor through Alonso’s National Beta Club, and also tutored children at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church. A volunteer at multiple summer camps, Foster also volunteered for Relay for Life fundraisers and local hospitals. 

Observed her service supervisor Elizabeth Ayers, “Throughout her high school years, Allison continued to develop leadership skills, practice public speaking and hone her social skills with an eye on achieving high grades and academic success. With the support of her family and a natural affinity for connecting with people, Allison has grown into an exceptional young adult.”

Congratulations to Allison and best of luck at Auburn!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Steve Jerve: A Calming Voice in Hurricane Season

WOW recently sat down with the Storm Team 8 meteorologist Steve Jerve to get his advice on staying sane this storm season.

Jerve knows a few things about storms. He has been a meteorologist for the past 35 years, 27 years of those years in Florida and 20 right here in Tampa Bay. He has covered Andrew and Wilma and Charley. When Irma set her sights on Tampa last year, it had been 13 years since the last true threat, Charley, barreled through Florida’s midsection. While Irma was certainly not a welcome visitor, Jerve pointed out she just might have been a needed wake-up call. “People need a personal point of reference to take [hurricanes] seriously, so they can go, ‘Holy cow, that was scary. I’m going to take this seriously and be ready next year.’”

Irma was indeed scary. The fickle storm had people running from coast to coast or out of the state entirely. Those who stayed rode out a very nerve-wracking close call. Irma spared us, but she left us shaken. For those who are feeling a bit uneasy heading into the 2018 season, Jerve has some words of advice.

Don’t pay too much attention to the numbers.
During the early days of hurricane season, many people begin monitoring the predictions for the coming months. In April, Colorado State University published its annual prediction of hurricane activity with a forecast of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, which is slightly above average. What does that mean? In the scheme of things, nothing. “It doesn’t matter the average number of storms or predicted storm activity; it just takes one storm,” Jerve explained.

He used Andrew as a case in point. That was the first storm of 1992, a year predicted to have low activity, and it was devastating. Instead of trying to play the numbers game, simply stay informed of what is happening at the moment.

Prepare your home like you are going to get hit.
“Your strategy for protecting your home should be the same every year,” Jerve said.
That means preparing for the worst.

“Don’t be paranoid; don’t be scared – just be prepared,” he added. “Start by taking an hour to survey your home and go from there.”

Decide on a strategy to cover your windows, and also think of ways to brace your garage door and front door if it opens inward. “The key is to keep the wind out,” Jerve stated.

When it comes to supplies, many hurricane prep lists suggest a three-day supply of food and water. Jerve, who has ridden out power outages before, likes to think more in terms of three weeks. He also suggested taking note of all the things in your home that rely on electricity and coming up with a back-up plan for each of those things should a power outage occur.

“There is a 90 percent chance you won’t have to worry about it, but why not just have preparations in place?” he concluded.

Understand when and how to evacuate.
As the saying goes, “Hide from the wind. Run from the water.” Irma proved that we were a bit rusty with this concept. Evacuation orders or not, people began running in every direction, many at the last minute. To make an informed decision on evacuation, Jerve advised that everyone know which flood zone they are in. Readers of WOW Northwest should refer to the Evacuation Map on pages 28-29 of this issue. By knowing your flood zone, you will be prepared to leave if an evacuation order is called.

It is also important to understand that evacuating doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the state. “If they are telling you to leave, go, but you don’t have to go to Atlanta,” Jerve said. “You can go five miles away to a friend’s house and you should have that plan in place ahead of time.”

If you are not being called to evacuate, Jerve advised that is in your best interests to fortify your home against the wind and stay put. Not only will you be on hand to monitor your property; you also avoid putting yourself in the potential path of a hurricane while on the road. And, if your preparations are in order, you will simply be more comfortable.

Listen to credible sources.
Staying informed during a hurricane is important. Staying informed through reliable sources is imperative. “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet or social media – especially social media,” Jerve stated. “Find a credible source, like Storm Team 8.”

Irma was an anomaly. She lasted seven days, three of those at Category 5 strength. Projected paths shifted, spaghetti models swallowed the state, and many national outlets milked it for all it was worth. “They don’t know Hillsborough County,” Jerve said. “We live here. Our families live here. This is what we do every day – forecast weather for Tampa Bay.”

Thanks to Steve Jerve for taking the time to sit down with us and ease our minds. He left us with this: “I can promise you that I will be completely honest with you, completely fair and not hyperbolic about it. If you watched Storm Team 8’s coverage of Irma, you know that to be true.”

To follow Storm Team 8 during storm season, download the free Max Defender 8 App.

By Karen Ring

Photo credit: Matt Larson

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, June 2018

It was a lemon of a fake ad.

In fact, it was such a lemon, that the editor’s brother, who suggested it a few years back, denied it was his idea when the editor sent it to him.

“I did not think up that fake lame idea,” he said.

But he did. Years ago it got written down in the editor’s file titled “desperate solutions when you got nothin’.”

And last month he had nothin.

Interestingly, Lemen’s Pre-Pre-Owned Autos (Tagline: “We’re probably safer than Craig’s List.”) on page 84 triggered a handful of readers to dub Proprietor Bob Lemen “suspicious looking.”

Despite the fact that half the guys at the editor’s 20th high school reunion back in 2004 looked just like him. (The editor skipped his 30th when none of them paid him back for the money he lent them for the cash bar.)

May’s lucky Fake Ad Contest winner, Summer Parisi of Highland Park, made this lemon into lemonade. She may even get a wedge of lemon served with her 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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

In Pursuit of Tantalizing Tacos

I’m always on the lookout for good Mexican food.

Señor Tequila satisfies, and its sister store, Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co. (recently reviewed here in the WOW), isn’t half bad either. But you know how it is. There could always be something different.

Something better.

Enter Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar. Located in Tampa adjacent to the International Mall (where the Blue Martini used to be), Rocco’s has been open since late last year. I only heard about Rocco’s recently (and heard good things), so, even though it is a bit far from home, I figured I’d give it a try.

After a nearly one-hour wait, my dining partner and I were seated at a spacious booth. Festive Mexican décor, lots of leather and wood, two expansive bar areas, and a nice outdoor patio give it a definite Tex-Mex vibe. If you are looking to drop $5,000 on a bottle of tequila (or stick with $9.75 for a house margarita), this is the place. With more than 250 specialty tequilas, they serve an array of margarita varieties and other tropical tequila concoctions, but also mojitos, frozen drinks, and house-made sangria. On weekends, bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys are just $13.

My Pama-Rita (delicious) went down quite well with the Totopos (chips and salsa, $4.50). Chipotle powder-dusted chips accompanied three salsa varieties—house, verde, and rojo. We added on the queso for a few bucks more. All were good but not great. If you want great chips, salsa, and queso, I’d recommend the Green Lemon in Soho instead.

Next up was the Chicken Tortilla Soup ($4.50; $5.50 on dinner menu). I was expecting a light, traditional broth-type of tortilla soup; instead, I got a thick tomato-based dish that was more of a bean dip consistency (we actually did dip our chips in it). Disappointing. I’d recommend the tortilla soup at Chevy’s instead, but you’ll have to drive to Orlando for it.

Thankfully, the California Fish Tacos ($17.50; $19 on dinner menu) delivered. Crispy fried mahi-mahi was served in a soft flour tortilla and topped with a tangy avocado salsa and an interesting pineapple cabbage slaw. A great combination, and quite delicious. The accompanying rice and beans left a little to be desired, however.

My dining partner chose the Wet Burrito con Rojo ($13.50; $14 on dinner menu), which was more like the size of a lasagna. It was stuffed with chicken, beans, rice, and cheese and slathered with a red sauce and more cheese. It was huge, Tampa, huge! And it was good, but way too much for one person.

The menu at Rocco’s Tacos has most of the items one would expect from a Mexican restaurant—lots of taco choices, combination dinners, enchiladas, fajitas (served on a sizzling rock, naturally) and burritos. There are also a few “healthier” options, such as a Mexican Cobb Salad ($15) or Quinoa Bowl ($16). If you are in the mood for Mexican, I’m sure you’ll find something that strikes your fancy. However, if you are in the mood for Mexican and don’t mind a drive, do the Green Lemon instead. If you want good fish tacos, go to Rubio’s (also by the International Mall and not as fancy, but their fish tacos rule). Otherwise, stick close to home with Señor Tequilas or Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co.

They’re closer, cheaper, and, in my opinion, better.

Rocco’s Tacos
3 STARS
Roccostacos.com/tampa
2223 N. Westshore Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33607  
813-800-TACO

By Melanie Casey

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Meet Bandit!

Bandit, an 8-year-old ShihTzu, belongs to Linda and Art Partin of Bennington. A rescue dog, Bandit came to the Partins as a foster pup that was ill and previously mistreated. “But one look into his face, and we knew he was our forever dog,” said Linda.

It took Bandit nearly a year to finally come around to feeling safe, loved, and carefree. But now Bandit loves to prance, talk in humming sounds and cuddle. He even guards the car when he thinks the Partins are leaving without him. “We are so grateful to Lea Haverstock, of the Greens and her Maxx & Me Pet Rescue for providing us with the opportunity to love this precious little guy,” wrote Linda.

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Elementary Boundaries Expand

On May 1 Hillsborough County School Board voted to expand Westchase Elementary’s attendance boundaries.

The change took two parcels along Lake Sunset Drive, located off Sheldon Road across from Flippers Car Wash, out of Deer Park Elementary’s attendance boundaries and placed them into Westchase Elementary’s attendance zone.

Prior to the change, homes accessing Lake Sunset Drive on the north side of the road were zoned for Deer Park while homes along the south side of the road were zoned for Westchase Elementary. With the change, all homes and land parcels accessing Lake Sunset will be zoned for Westchase Elementary. “We wanted to have some consistency with Lake Sunset,” said Lorraine Duffy Suarez, General Manager of Growth Management and Planning. “That was the whole motivation behind it.”

Duffy Suarez acknowledged there was no public meeting about the boundary change. “There was no public meeting because quite frankly there are no [affected] parents,” she said. “The school board made the change May 1.”

Duffy Suarez stated the change only affected two existing homes sitting on 1.75 acres along the road, an area that may eventually see development with a higher number of homes or apartments. An adjacent parcel, currently owned by Beazer homes, is just kicking off development. Once complete, The Reserve at Citrus Park will hold 77 single family homes priced in the high $300,000 range, according to a Beazer representative.

According to Duffy Suarez, the 77 Beazer homes would be expected to send 15 more students to Westchase Elementary. “That’s the average we have to use for our planning purposes,” she said. “It was just a minor adjustment.”

The parcels are also currently zoned for Davidsen Middle School and Sickles High School and those boundaries will remain unchanged.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Local Students Perform at Carnegie Hall

It was the trip of a lifetime in early April when six Westchase area middle-school students performed with the University of South Florida’s Lumina Youth Choirs at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall.

The Amiaza (intermediate) Choir included Davidsen Middle School students Payton Heckman, Alyssa Kobel, Tommy Mallard, Cari Murphy and Derialisse Rivera, plus Farnell Middle School student Valerie Grimaldo.

For nearly three decades, the Lumina Youth Choirs have provided a not-for-profit choral arts organization for Tampa Bay area students in kindergarten through high school. The idea is using choral music skills to develop creativity, confidence, problem-solving skills and literacy.

As part of the program, the Lumina Youth Choirs usually take an annual trip and this year’s destination was Carnegie Hall. The students got to work with several world-renowned clinicians, while mingling and practicing with other choirs. The highlight was the combination of all the choruses—about 900 vocalists on five balconies, which surrounded the audience—and the performance of an original piece that was written for the occasion.

“It was an amazing experience,’’ said Judy Romera, conductor of the Amiaza Chorus and director of the Davidsen chorus. “I have a large mix of kids. For some of them, just getting on an airplane was mind-boggling. Going out to eat was new. A subway? Maybe they never heard of it.

“Many of them had heard of Carnegie Hall, but never dreamed they’d actually go there, let alone be on the stage. It’s the kind of thing that can change your world forever. What a wonderful thing for kids who love music, whose chorus activities are their identity.’’

Carnegie Hall, located in midtown Manhattan, was built in 1891 and remains one of the world’s most iconic and well-known entertainment venues.

Who has played at Carnegie Hall? Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Harry Belafonte, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, just to name a few.

And now, of course, the Lumina Youth Choirs.

“When Carnegie Hall was initially mentioned, I’m not sure if some of the kids really grasped it,’’ said Stacy Heckman, Payton’s mother. “But once they started fundraising for the trip, and family and friends always had the reaction of ‘Oh my gosh, you’re singing at Carnegie Hall?’ it began to sink in. They knew how special it was.’’

“My kid can be really quiet, almost non-expressive,’’ said Nathalie Kobel, Alyssa’s mother. “But once she was in Carnegie Hall and part of it, the experience brought the biggest grin to her face. She was just like, ‘Wow.’ It was a million-dollar smile.’’

Romera said performing at Carnegie Hall was a “bucket list item,’’ but the trip was filled with meaningful moments. The chorus worked with distinguished clinicians, such as Dr. Andre Thomas from Florida State University. It performed before the critical eye of judges, scoring A-ratings. And it performed a debut piece of music—“Get Busy’’—written by Reosephanye Powell of Auburn University.

“Fourteen other choirs joined in to perform this music,’’ Romera said. “It was special because it was about the things we want to represent. It was about getting busy in the community. You can’t just talk about change. You have to be the change.

“It was about the kids coming together, collaborating and using our role for the common good. It was a good message.’’

When they weren’t performing, the chorus members took in the sights of New York.

They visited Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a spot with singing waitstaff that has launched scores of Broadway careers. One of the waiters said she had been in New York for 14 years, but never performed at Carnegie Hall, so she was impressed by the Tampa kids.

They visited the 9/11 Memorial—an educational experience for kids who weren’t even born when the 9/11 attacks occurred—and were touched when they saw a birthday white rose placed by the name of someone who had perished.

They had a dinner cruise on the Hudson River. As they passed the Statue of Liberty, a perfect backdrop for their party, the kids were dancing and singing.

There was a disappointment. They had tickets for a Broadway show on the first night, but couldn’t attend because of fog at the New York airports. The plane was diverted to Albany, N.Y., but even that turned into a positive. The chorus members sang enthusiastically to entertain the other passengers.

“These are extraordinary young people with a lot of talent and very big hearts,’’ Romera said.

The Lumina Youth Choirs are seeking new members for next season. Potential choir members must apply, audition and interview. For more information, log onto http://www.LuminaYouthChoirs.com

.

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Home of the Month: 10112 Parley Drive

West Park Village Villa owner Kathy Dunn is proof the even if you don’t have a big yard, you can still enjoy gardening.

Dunn has even had something of a plant miracle occur on her front porch – blooms on her snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue. In most parts of the country these plants are considered houseplants but thanks to our temperate weather, they can be outdoor plants here. “You don’t have to give it any attention,” said Dunn. “I only water it twice a month.”

Dunn has had the plant for four years, but this is the first time she’s ever seen it bloom. “It only blooms at night and it smells like honeysuckle.”

Dipladenias and Begonias in pots provide lots of color on Dunn’s cozy porch. She said the begonia did not like the winter’s cold weather but after clipping it all the way back, it has come back to life.

In her backyard, Dunn has planted hydrangeas as a tribute to her sister, who passed away last year. The hydrangeas are surrounded Lantana, Mexican petunia and herbs with a few sunflowers sprouting up, thanks to the birds that visit the feeders in her yard. Dunn says she’ll have to wait and see what plants survive the summer heat since her HOA replaced her large bottle brush tree, which provided shade during the heat of the day, with a smaller crepe myrtle.

Dunn said gardening is a welcome retreat after a busy day at work. “It calms me down after work. Watering the plants is very soothing and is like mediation. I love having an outdoor living space. The porch here is one of the things that drew me to this villa. It is like having a living room outside.”

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

Snake Plant

Snake Plants are very versatile. They can handle low light, full sun and drought and have few insect problems. They can become invasive if planted in the ground, so it might be best to keep them in a pot. They need a pot and soil that drains well. They are most likely to bloom when they are in a container and have grown to fill it completely.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Help a Child Through Guardian ad Litem Program

“I want to give back, but I don’t know where or how!”

For a growing number of Westchase area residents, the obvious choice is right here in Hillsborough County.  They have all become a Guardian ad Litem volunteer!

Nearly 3,500 abused, neglected or abandoned children are in Hillsborough County’s foster care/dependency system. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program is a statewide network of volunteers. They share the belief that every child has the right to be safe and have hope. GAL volunteers visit the child regularly, interact with the case management team, ensure the child’s best interest is represented in court, and advocate for programs and services to help the child throughout the case.

“You can make a huge impact on a child’s life,” says Kelleigh Ambs. 

Kelleigh lives in Sheffield and is a veteran GAL with 13 years of experience. She works full-time and takes one case at a time. She enjoys seeing the case through to a conclusion and getting to know each child.

Kristy McAdams of West Park Village considers it her career, managing 12 children’s cases. She also serves on the Rapid Response Team, which assesses the need for a GAL when a case first comes in. Sadly, only about 62 percent of kids in care are assigned GALS because there just aren’t enough to go around. The need for more volunteers is clear!

GAL veteran Patricia Longnecker, also of West Park Village, has been volunteering with the program for 12 years. She says that the best part of being a GAL is getting to know the kids and having a relationship with them—often the only one—that they can depend on.

Being a GAL offers independence and flexibility. There is no preferred profession or experience that is required.

Glenciff’s Tony McGlone is a newly minted GAL volunteer. He was “moping” once he had to give up golf due to a bad back. A friend asked what he might have liked to do if he hadn’t pursued his former career. He said, “I would have been interested in law.” Being a GAL has opened his eyes to the foster care system and the legal structure surrounding it.

Colleen Meloff, of Westwood Lakes, sums it up nicely. “It’s a relatively modest time commitment that brings a huge reward.”

Want to learn more? Call 272-5110 or go to http://www.galtampa.org

.

By Carol Parish

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Taking Flight

Another brand new Eagle Scout has taken flight from Tampa’s Troop 46.

Congratulations to Avery Hames on achieving Scouting’s highest rank after a recent Eagle Scout Board of Review at the BSA Council headquarters in Tampa. Avery joined Troop 46 while in sixth grade and has served in leadership roles while attending many campouts and BSA summer camp at Camp Woodruff in North Georgia. Based on his love of animals, Avery’s Eagle project benefitted Pinellas County Animal Services in Largo. He constructed platforms and ramps for dogs to run on, increasing their opportunity to obtain exercise and to enhance their overall well-being.

Avery, 14, is completing eighth grade at St. Lawrence Catholic School. In the fall he will attend Jesuit High School, where he now plays spring hockey as an incoming freshman. He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and Duke TIP for his academic achievements. He is the son of Lyn and Fred Hames and the family lives in Dana Shores with their 2 dogs and 5 chickens. Avery’s older brother Alex also received his Eagle Scout rank as a member of Troop 46.

In addition to Scouting, Avery is an altar server at St. Lawrence Church in Tampa and just last year, began his own organic egg selling business. Well done, Avery!

Troop 46 meets most Mondays at the First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway during the school year.

By Tristan Goodrich

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen’s Yassy Bounani Selected for All-State Chorus

Davidsen Middle School eighth-grader Yassy Bouanani has a passion for music.

It paid off when she was selected for the Florida Music Educators All-State Chorus, which performed in downtown Tampa.

“It meant a lot to me because I worked really hard and went through a lot to accomplish it,’’ said Bouanani, who will attend high school at the Academy of the Holy Names. “When my teacher told me I made it, I was very excited. After that, I feel like I started believing in myself a lot more.’’

Davidsen chorus director Judy Romera said all-state selections were made after a three-part process.

* A high-level music theory test.
* A sight-reading test, where students must quickly study 32 measures of music, then sing them before two choral directors.
* If the student passes through the first two levels, they are told to learn a variety of music selected by the all-state conductor. On audition day, they are given the music and measures to sing for a recording. All the singers are rated and ranked based on their performance.

“There are only so many seats (300 for students from around the state of Florida) and Yassy got one of those seats,’’ Romera said. “I was not surprised, not at all. She deserved it.

“Yassy is an amazing student. She’s a leader in our classroom and in our school. She’s kind, caring and helpful to everyone. And she’s extremely talented.’’

Bouanani, the only Davidsen student selected for all-state chorus this school year, began singing while at Westchase Elementary School. In the third grade, she was cast as Marie in “The Nutcracker’’ and continued with other chorus activities.

Bouanani, a soprano, has been a constant in Davidsen’s chorus program, which is three years old, at the middle school that now emphasizes performing arts.

“Yassy has been instrumental in helping to shape and develop our program,’’ Romera said. “She’s one of those all-around great kids. Of course, she has a beautiful voice. But more importantly, she’s a good student, a good human, a good citizen. She’s going to succeed at whatever she attempts.’’

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Q and A: Coping With Traffic

We asked Westchase residents, “How do you cope with traffic?”

Sandy and Gordon Richter, Keswick Forest

Sandy: I'm a nurse. I work in Safety Harbor now and with my shifts I'm able to miss the rush hour, so overall it's not too bad for me. I used to work in the University of South Florida area and it was much worse. I experimented with different routes until I found the one that works best for me. I find Race Track Road is better than Forest Lakes probably because of the schools.

Gordon: I work in St. Petersburg and find that the traffic varies from time of day and time of year. We have a lot of "snow birds" in the area and when they head back north, things get better. And when the kids are on holiday breaks or summer vacation, it's better. Otherwise, I think you just have to deal with it the best you can.

Mike Smith with sons Levi and Landon

I'm an emergency room nurse and I've worked in a lot of big cities and I also travel a lot. Compared to many places I've been, Tampa is not too bad. On a relative basis, I'd say we were fairly lucky here. I was in Boston recently and traffic there was awful but nothing compares with Los Angles and Atlanta. They are at least five times worse than Tampa. Those places seem to be in permanent gridlock. If you can, try to avoid school hours. The people who planned our communities are trying to make this place something it's not. They didn't seem to take traffic into consideration when they laid things out. I really feel sorry for the people who work downtown. 

Alex Pinzkoski, Keswick Forest

I'm in real estate sales and buyers always want to know about traffic. I always suggest they use one of the online GPS programs to do some research. They can give you a pretty good idea about the travel time between two points. If it seems to be too long, just look for some place a little closer. The problem is everything is growing so fast that travel time today will likely change over time as more people move in. I work in Carrollwood Village. I'm usually able to adjust my departure time to after 8:30 or 9 a.m. and that helps.

Ilaria Venditto, West Park Village

I'm a full-time mom. I also go to Hillsborough Community College and help my husband in his business. The thing that most concerns me about traffic is the parking situation here in the village. People park on both sides of our two-lane roads, which doesn't leave enough room for cars coming from opposite directions. People also park too close to intersections, which blocks the view of oncoming traffic. I know people want to park as close as they can to where they are going, especially the shops and restaurants, but it creates safety issues. I think we should have more one-way streets and restrict parking to one side like they do in Highland Park. People might have to park further away, but it would be safer. We need more signs and we need better enforcement of existing parking laws. Overall, I don't think traffic is too bad if you don't include Linebaugh Avenue. You just need to be patient and courteous and that will help to keep everybody from losing their temper.

By Phil Dean

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Davidsen Hosts Sixth Grade Success Academy

This summer Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts is pleased to present a new program aimed at increasing student achievement and creating community among incoming sixth grade students.

The Sixth Grade Success Academy will be held on Wednesday, July 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at Davidsen Middle School. During their time together, future Dragons will learn helpful organizational tips, create achievable academic and social goals, tour the school, meet some teachers, make new friends and have lunch! For more information, call the school at 558-5300.

The month of May was filled with outstanding performances by the Davidsen Band/Orchestra, Chorus and Dance programs. Our Dragons worked very hard all year long and their dedication really shined. Incoming sixth graders may sample these programs through the elective “wheel” during their first semester.  

Davidsen Middle School maintains a clothes closet for those in need. Black or tan uniform bottoms for boys and girls of any size are needed. You may drop them at the front office.

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 July Dates

25 Sixth Grade Success Academy

By Carolyn Reynolds

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

County Commits to Traffic Study on Royce Drive

Residents on Royce Dr. in West Park Village have been complaining for years about drivers speeding down their street.

Yet no actions to correct the problem were ever taken until a young girl was hit while biking to school in late April.

West Park Village Resident Tina Hall said that while the County did a traffic study two years ago, many homeowners thought that the results were not accurate since the study was done just before winter break. “Lots of people use our street to cut through West Park Village during drive time. Many kids are walking to the green square and people aren’t looking when they are driving.” Hall pointed out that the speed limit in West Park Village is 25 miles per hour, which she considers too high when you compare it to the 30 miles per hour speed limit on Countryway Boulevard. “There is a big difference between a divided street without houses directly on it and our street.”

Hall said it is even hard to leave her driveway during certain times of the day. “Drivers cutting through will give you a dirty look when you’re trying to back out of your driveway,” she stated.

After the accident in April, Hall posted her frustration on Facebook and her post was seen by the local ABC news station who sent a reporter to cover the story. Hall said the report led to increased patrolling by the sheriff’s department and new discussions with Hillsborough County. “Hillsborough County Public Works created a ticket to start studying traffic calming options,” said Hall.

One of the criteria for designating a street as having a problem with speeding cars is if 85 percent of the cars on the street are speeding. Class I means 85 percent of cars on the street are driving less than 12 miles over the posted speed limit; Class II means 85 percent of the cars are driving more than 12 miles over the posted speed limit. “It will be interesting to see what the study says,” said Hall.

According to Hillsborough County Senior Public Relations Strategist Kara Walker, now that the service request has been started, the next step will be for a traffic engineering team to come study the area and see what options there are for traffic calming.

By Marcy Sanford

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Alonso Seizes Flag Football State Championship

The frustration has ended for Alonso High School’s flag-football team.

After a decade at the elite level, the Ravens capped a dream unbeaten season by capturing the Class 2A state championship on May 12.

Officially, it was Alonso 19, Seminole Ridge 7 in the state-title game at Boca Raton High School.

“It’s what we’ve been striving for,’’ said Ravens coach Matt Hernandez, whose team defeated Wekiva 33-0 in the state semifinals earlier in the day before winning the championship. “A lot of work went into it. It’s very rewarding. We’ve been through some heartbreak in past seasons, coming really close and losing every crazy way you could lose. It’s wonderful to get it done and know we were the best in the state.’’

Numbers alone couldn’t tell the story of the Ravens (17-0), a 16-senior unit that was diverse, ultra-athletic, supremely prepared and, at times, incredibly dominant.

The Ravens won all 11 of their regular-season games, then captured the district title by defeating Plant, the defending Class 2A state champion, 20-0 in a riveting result that caught everyone’s attention.

And it occurred just one week after Alonso closed the regular season with an 18-12 overtime victory against Robinson, which just won its third consecutive Class 1A state championship.

“Two wins in a short period of time against two defending state champions … that was special,’’ Hernandez said. “But we had the type of team that could do things like that.’’

Alonso’s programs tasted success in the infancy of flag football, reaching the state-championship game in 2010 and 2011. Hernandez was convinced that the Ravens could compete at the sport’s highest level.

“A lot has changed,’’ Hernandez said. “That first state-title game, we had four plays that we ran. Now it’s, um, significantly more than four plays.

“But one of the biggest things has never changed and that’s the enthusiasm of our players. They have embraced the sport of flag football and they look forward to the competition. It’s a great group of girls.’’

Katie Morello, one of the team’s top receivers, was also Alonso’s valedictorian. That was interesting, considering that Alonso’s graduation rehearsal fell on the same day as the state-title game.

“I told Katie all along that we’d find a way for her to rehearse her (graduation) speech before we played for a state title,’’ Hernandez said. “It was tough timing, missing the rehearsal. But I think our seniors were OK with it. They wanted to finish the job.’’

Alonso’s team also finished athletes from other sports, such as basketball’s Jacquelyn LeVay and Alyssa Jones, and Letrice Hall, who captured a track and field regional championship in the shot put.

“We have so many kids who are good at other things,’’ Hernandez said. “We have super smart kids who are respected for the way they handle themselves in school. We have kids in school leadership roles who are respected for the way they interact with people. We have kids in other sports who are well-known and respected. We have kids who are so dedicated to flag football and they are respected for that.

“We have a team of kids who all relate to each other in so many different ways. It’s crazy how well it works. On the surface, these are all very different kids in what they do and how they go about their days. But then they get together in flag football, become a team and mold together as one. It has just been amazing to be part of that.’’

Hernandez said the fun of flag football shouldn’t obscure the preparation made by all the players. Many participated in offseason AAU tournaments, which had some players competing in approximately 130 games during their careers.

Hernandez prepared as well. This season, fiery Ron Perisee was added to the staff, bringing motivation and inspiration. Perisee was hired as Alonso’s head coach in boys tackle football, but he continued as the flag assistant.

“Ron was our secret weapon,’’ Hernandez said. “I call him our ‘Human Turnover Chain.’ He provides so much excitement and intensity. The players responded to that. We had a really cool atmosphere.’’

Hernandez’s experience also paid off. He learned how to build a program, teaching flag-football principles that are easily understood and executed, particularly by athletes coming from other sports.

He also changed the way Alonso played, morphing from a consistent possession-receiving team to a unit that passed downfield and went for the jugular. That was made possible through quarterback Jazmin Rhoden, a three-year starter.

“I’ve never seen a more athletic team, let alone getting to coach one like this,’’ Hernandez said. “We had receivers who go and get it and a quarterback who puts the ball wherever she wants to put it.

“We were building to this point. Having 16 seniors (on a 25-player team) was pretty random and hard to believe, but that experience really paid off. It put us in position to make the run that we made.’’

By Joey Johnston

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Joshua Cruz

A graduate of Jesuit High School, where he received a 4.61 weighted GPA, Brentford’s Joshua Cruz plans on studying biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech this fall.

Cruz’s Jesuit transcript is filled with straight A grades over four years and lists 14 AP course and eight honors level courses. (Note: Private and public schools weigh honors and AP courses differently).

Cruz, the son of Reinier and Terri Tully Cruz, racked up awards during his senior year. He was named a National Hispanic Scholar, National Merit Scholar and National AP Scholar Finalist. A member of the National Honor Society, he received The St Robert Bellarmine, S.J. Theology Award, the Richard Stephen Jenkins Award for Superior Achievement in Science and the Fairfield Book Award.

Among his extracurricular activities, Cruz was vice president of the Jesuit’s Spanish Club and served on Hillsborough County’s Youth Leadership Council. An athlete with crew, he also served as a Key Club member.

Over the course of high school, Cruz accumulated 550 hours of community service at places like the Westchase Recreation Center, The Stewards Foundation, Jesuit’s Key Club, Metropolitan Ministries and the Good Samaritan Project.

In his personal essay, Cruz wrote, “Regardless of the career I opt to pursue during the upcoming years of my life, there is one facet I know will be present in any profession I choose: working toward the prosperity of others.” He added, “I realize it is a bit cliché as most everyone wants to help others in some form or another throughout their lives; however, I feel that this drive to assist those around me is an inherent aspect of my character because it is a part of everything I do—whether it be through school, extracurriculars, or sports.”

Wrote his service supervisor Dona Smith from the Westchase Rec. Center, "He's an amazing example of what we aspire for all of our children. He sets a remarkable standard in academic achievement, devoted quality time to kids after school and during the summer, and lived up to the motto of Jesuit High School: ‘A man for others.’”

Citing Cruz’s hopeful and positive spirit, Smith added, "He demonstrates exceptional wisdom and maturity with kids, peers, parents and coaches.”

Congratulations to Joshua and best of luck at Georgia Tech!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Guest Opinion: In Defense of Oaks

Where are our values?

While there was a lot of good information in the recent article in May’s WOW on oak trees and how to take care of them, I am concerned about the general attitude expressed. There may be rare circumstances where an oak may cause a problem that cannot be dealt with because of location or disease. Removal, however, should be very rare. What are our values when a cracked or raised sidewalk, which in most cases can be fixed, is more important to our community than a beautiful oak tree?

Oak trees provide tremendous climatic benefits when they are used as street trees. When streets are shaded by large oak trees, they make a difference in the temperature of a neighborhood in the summer. Try standing out in the hot sun in July along a street with no trees and then do the same on a street lined with oak trees.

Oak trees also play a tremendously important role in helping to clean our air and offset the effect of auto emissions on Tampa’s air quality. Before Westchase was created in the early 1990’s, local development rules did not allow new subdivisions to have street trees at all. Go back and look at neighborhoods built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in Hillsborough County when no county tree ordinance existed and when developers did not incorporate street trees into their plan.

Someone commented in the WOW article, expressing surprise at the individual who was responsible for allowing trees to be planted where they are. When I worked for a quality residential developer in the 1980s and we wanted to save a large oak tree that would have been partially in the right of way of a new road, the county declined our request to preserve the tree. We were told we would have to remove it. I was taken back that our county, which is supposed be looking out the for the well-being of the community, was not supportive in saving the oak.

At the time I did some research and found out that all the rules that created the best neighborhoods in Tampa Bay were all gone – replaced by rules that promoted nothing but bland, look-alike efficiency with no thought to how the county’s neighborhoods would evolve over time. I told the county staff at the time that I would go in front of the county commission and challenge them to publicly tell me, a developer, that the county wanted me to destroy a grand oak. At the last minute the county staff backed off.

I told them I would thank them for allowing the tree to stay but there was a bigger problem inherent in the very rules themselves. The county commission that existed at that time agreed and soon they changed the rules. Now street trees are required in subdivisions and Westchase became one the first to be developed using them. A popular and very successful developer in the 1990s was Bill Bishop. Bill recently passed away, yet he was a brilliant developer who created a new model for mixed use communities that used generous landscaping, including large street trees, as part of the model.

That community was Westchase.

Bill went on to develop Waterchase and Highland Park.

My family is now living in our fourth house in West Park Village. Every time we looked at other neighborhoods we ended up just moving a block or two away. The reality is that no community we found looked as attractive as Westchase – with its heavy landscaping and tree-lined streets.

Part of that charm is clearly the beautiful oak trees found all over our communities.

These trees add value to our homes. Just ask any Realtor. They help keep our area cooler and provide shade, help clean our air, and help create an attractive, great neighborhood. Similar communities like Hyde Park, Seminole Heights, and many others have thrived. They have a street tree canopy that was encouraged by the city beautiful movement of the 1920’s. The people who live in these neighborhoods guard their oak trees with great intensity – because they realize their remarkably important value.

Removing a mature oak should be the last resort, not the first. I am very concerned that we will be undermining the very things that make our community special by making oak trees easier to remove instead of doing all we can to save them and replace them if needed.

Ramond Chiaramonte is Executive Director at Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority on a longtime resident of Westchase and Northwest Hillsborough County.

By Ray Chiaramonte; Photo by James Broome Photography

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Westchase Seniors Celebrate Flag Day

The Westchase Seniors Group will celebrate Flag Day at Rumba Island Bar & Grill in Oldsmar.

On June 14 at 11:30AM Anne Hewett, Jean Gaskill, and Janet Baker will be hosting a Westchase Seniors Group Flag Day celebration luncheon at Rumba Island Bar and Grill. Rumba's is located at 3687 Tampa Rd. in Oldsmar and features authentic island cuisine with delicious and artfully prepared creations from their transplanted Jamaican chef's wealth of traditional recipes. Reservations are required by June 12 by contacting Anne Hewett (926-5366), Jean Gaskill (746-8679), or Janet Baker (janetbaker55@gmail.com).

Tuesday Morning Coffee Pictured here is a typical Westchase Seniors 9 a.m. Tuesday Morning coffee at the Westchase McDonald’s. The coffee is free to Westchase Seniors Group members with any food purchase. This is a great time and place to meet new people and make new friends who enjoy some of the same things you do. Grab your breakfast and join the crowd. You can’t miss us. We are the “older” but “young at heart” people laughing and having a good time.

May 8 Dinner We had a large turnout for the Westchase Seniors Group dinner at the Noble Crust Restaurant on Dale Mabry. The menu is not very extensive, but if you are looking for a few good Italian dishes prepared with seasonal farm-fresh flavors, this might be a place you will want to try. Their menu can be seen at noble-crust.com.

Active Adult Activities With many children programs starting this month at the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center, the county-sponsored activities for adults have had to change and the trips for seniors have been canceled until September. The new summer schedule is:

• Walking Club: Wed and Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
• Tone and Stretch: Wed and Fri, 9 a.m.
• Yoga: Thu, 9 a.m. ($3/class)
• Ball Room Dance: Mon, 10-11 a.m.
• Chair Yoga: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
• Pickelball: Fri, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Chair Yoga will not be offered until further notice.
• Light Aerobics will not be offered until further notice.
• Ball Room Dancing will not be offered until further notice.

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

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Aging with Balance

June is National Safety Month.

What is one step to improve safety for our older relatives? Among them is fall prevention.

According to the Center of Disease Control, falls are the number one cause of injury and complications that lead to death among older adults. Adults age 65 and older continue to grow. In just a few years, the number of older adults in the US is expected to be 20 percent of the population.

Of course, aging is a natural part of life, however, developing and maintaining a level of functional fitness can substantially reduce the risk of falling. Balance and stability are key factors in functional fitness.

There are internal factors and external factors that can compromise balance. Internal factors such as vision, the auditory system, muscular strength, cognition, the neurological sensory abilities of limbs, flexibility, mobility, and reaction time influence our ability to balance and prevent falls.

External factors may include the amount of medications you take, various floor surfaces like rugs, cracks in sidewalks, wet and slippery floors, and many other environmental conditions. Footwear is another external factor.

Improving internal factors will improve functional fitness. Resistance training can help to improve muscular strength, and power. It can be done using your own body weight for resistance or using fitness tools like hand weights. Core strength, along with stronger quadriceps and hamstrings, and the ability to dorsiflex your foot are also significant in taking a step. Flexible muscles, achieved by different stretching techniques, can move through their full range of motion. That will help you to have a good stride (gait). Doing drills at different tempos and challenging movement in different directions challenge your ability to shift your weight, balance on your weight baring leg, and move with agility. Closing your eyes or turning your head to look away while standing in place test your proprioception, which is your ability to know where you are in space without looking.

This type of exercise training can be done at home or in a gym setting. Working with an experienced trainer or instructor will ensure you are using proper form and technique and will reduce the risk of falling.

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>

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.

Robinson to See New Classroom Wing and Driver’s Ed Lot

Robinson High School, home to the Westchase area’s International Baccalaureate Program, is slated for a significant construction project.

Robinson, located on S. Lois Avenue and W. Mango Avenue and Rembrandt Drive in South Tampa, has seen significant population growth in recent years with the expansion of its IB program and construction of housing developments and apartments in the neighborhoods surrounding MacDill Air Force Base. “In 2019, we are planning to open 12 new classrooms for Robinson,” said Lorraine Duffy Suarez, General Manager of Growth Management and Planning.

The expansion, which will break ground on May 29 (the week after school ends), will construct a new classroom wing in the front of the school along S. Lois Avenue,. The building will rise in the grassy area between the visitors’ parking lot at the school entrance and the large student parking lot on the southeast corner of the campus. The new classroom wing will also hold new bathroom facilities and a custodial closet.

Meanwhile, to open up more room in the student parking lot, a portion of the open field across Rembrandt Drive will be paved. Currently the school’s drivers education course uses the western portion of the student lot. Drivers education will be moved across Rembrandt Drive to the new lot, opening the student lot to more parking. .

To inform surrounding homeowners of the plans, the school district held a neighborhood meeting on May 29, from 6-7 p.m. in Robinson’s media center for adjacent neighbors to see what the addition will look like.

As for construction schedule and the future use of the classrooms?

“It may very well take the bulk of next school year,” said Robinson Principal Robert Bhoolai of the building. He added, “It will most likely be a mix of traditional and IB classrooms.”

When asked if it was the growth of the traditional or the IB program that sparked the need for greater space, Bhoolai responded. “It’s a combination of the two. Our incoming freshman IB class is the largest of its kind ever and the traditional side is the largest that it’s been since the IB program has started,” he stated. “I’m just happy the timing worked out that it can be of service to those students.”

More than 100 students from the 33636 zip code make the trek to South Tampa to attend Robinson’s rigorous IB program.

Bhoolai stated that while the new classrooms likely won’t be available until sometime in 2019, he hoped the new driver’s ed lot will be completed in time for school’s start in August. “That would be ideal,” he said.

In the meantime, part of the student lot will serve as the construction staging area. “We are anticipating changes to the student pick up and drop off,” he added of next fall. “But we should have that resolved here in the next few weeks.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

COMMENTS

Please login or register to post a comment.