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WCA Board Extends Management Company Contract

The May 10 meeting of the WCA Board saw directors vote 5-2 to extend the contract they have with their management company, Greenacre Properties, Inc.

The meeting opened with Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors acknowledging Bivens Orthodontics for support of Movies in the Park.

WCA Board President Ruben Collazo presented Bivens Orthodontics Marketing Specialist Rhonda Danzebrink with a medallion at the May meeting. “The community is not just about neighbors but also about small businesses that provide the services people need,” said Collazo.

During the open forum directors heard from a homeowner confused about the $5,000 in fines on a foreclosed house he had bought. Collazo told him that since the matter was now with legal counsel, he would have to discuss the matter with the attorney.

Harbor Links Voting Member Nancy Sells said she wanted to address the abuse WCA staff was receiving from some members of the Westchase Neighborhood News Facebook group. She said that people need to realize that the staff was working for the community’s good.

Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock said that the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) was working with the Department of Public Works to address parking concerns and driver who are ignoring West Park Village stop signs and that the county would be sending an engineer to look at the neighborhood issues.

GAC Chair Rick Goldstein said that TECO had cleared up the problem areas where electricity outages regularly occurred in Westchase. Goldstein also said that once construction was complete at the intersection of Montague and Linebaugh, the traffic signal would be altered to get traffic flowing on Montague to help alleviate traffic issues during Davidsen Middle School drop off and pick up times.

Members of the Covenants Committee attended the meeting to ask directors to give them information about the reasons that committee fines for unresolved deed restriction violations were tabled. “One of the reasons we are puzzled is why something gets tabled repeatedly,” said Covenants Committee Member Mary Griffin. “Is there any way to include information on why something is tabled?”

Collazo said he had talked to Community Association Manager Charlotte Adams about briefing her before she attends the committee meetings. Director Brian Ross added, “Sometimes it is hard to say why everything was tabled. If the Covenants Committee doesn’t know, I think it’s good because it means there are multiple examinations of the file. It is a fresh review.”

Griffin responded, “It is hard to look at the same violation and for one it has been tabled seven times and the other two times and be consistent. I find it difficult to defend the WCA, and the time it takes for people to get repairs adds to the problem of people thinking the process is unfair when we don’t know why something was tabled.”

Ross pointed out that out of 10,000 inspections a month, the WCA received maybe one complaint. Discussion, however, turned back to the Westchase Facebook group’s comments. Sells said, “Complaints are rampant and getting worse.”

WCA Director Forrest Baumhover observed, “For the past nine months for every single negative comment about the WCA on Facebook that I’ve noticed, I’ve offered to talk one-to-one with everyone who I thought had a legitimate gripe. I’ve extended the invitation to six to eight people. Zero people have taken me up on my offer, but the offer still stands.”

“You have to take a lot of what you read on Facebook with a grain of salt,” said Wait-Woodcock. “If people do what they are supposed to do after the first, second or third violation notice, then there would not be a problem. I don’t think we should jump just because people are complaining on Facebook.”

West Park Village Voting Member Mary Griffin said she disagreed, saying, “I’m worried about the impression it makes.”

Turning to other matters, directors approved a request from the local Boy Scout Troop to use a Westchase pool for badge swim requirement tests.

A Bridges homeowners’ appeal was denied 6-1 with Wait-Woodcock casting the dissenting vote. Directors denied the appeal because he had not replaced the sod in his yard even though he had said it would be replaced in February. Before the meeting the homeowner had sent an email detailing his perceived mistreatment by members of the Covenants Committee, who he said made a joke about him and laughed at him in front of his children. Goldstein asked him to clarify what had happened and Wait-Woodcock also asked for details of the encounter, but Director Joaquin Arrillaga pointed out that since the matter may potentially become a legal issue, the board should stop talking about it.

Directors voted 5-2 with Ross and Wait-Woodcock casting the dissenting votes to renew Greenacre Properties, Inc.’s contract to manage the WCA. Ross said he was opposing the motion because he thought they owed it to the community to put the contract out for a bid and include management of social media sites as something the property management company should address. Collazo said he supported the motion because he did not think they needed to change staff.

Directors approved a request from Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz to have Arehna Engineering test the subsurface soil at the West Park Village tennis courts to determine why the courts are cracking.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted May 14, 2018


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Covenants Committee Chair Resigns

Covenants Committee Chair Cynthia Mercer resigned from heading her committee in protest on May 14.

Mercer’s resignation followed an email that committee member Nancy Sells sent Westchase Community Association (WCA) board members following the May 10 WCA Board meeting where a resident with a deed restriction fine before the committee said he arrived late to the meeting. He accused departing committee members of laughing at him, charging that one stated he could just write a check.
Committee members have denied such behavior occurred.

The Covenants Committee sets fines for unresolved deed restriction violations.

Sent the day after the meeting, Sells’ email stated that while the board regularly asks for volunteers, “Last night, however, I came as close as I ever have to resigning on the spot, particularly when not one, but two board members expressed disapproval of the purported actions of the Covenants committee.”

At the board meeting, when WCA President Ruben Collazo attempted to cut short discussion of the committee’s behavior, WCA Directors Ashley Wait-Woodcock and Rick Goldstein, who encouraged continued discussion and an investigation into the matter.

Mercer’s resignation letter stated, “In light of the recent comments at the WCA board of directors meeting regarding lack of confidence in and concerns with the Covenants Committee, I hereby offer my resignation effective immediately.” She added, “I would like to add that in my 20 years of experience serving on various committees and boards in Westchase, service to our community is a thankless job. Not only do you not get a thank you, more often than not, those who serve get kicked to the curb, literally.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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VMs Receive Guideline and Committee Updates

The May 8 meeting of the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) saw committee updates and discussions about a Glencliff guideline change.

VM Gina Coutras (Glencliff) began by explaining Glencliff’s proposed guideline revision for driveways and sidewalks. The new guideline, if adopted, will provide more specifics about what is allowed and not allowed in Glencliff. It also adds more options, such as cobblestones and pavers on the walkway to the porch and the use of clear sealants on sidewalks and driveways. VMs voted unanimously to approve the new rule in their first of two votes over two months.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Rick Goldstein updated VMs on TECO’s work to curb power outages in Westchase. Goldstein said that he met with TECO and they had completed a review of the entire system and had expedited plans to trim trees near above-ground wires and had discovered some rodent issues causing power outages. Since the cleanup, TECO’s testing has shown no outages or glitches for the past several weeks. Goldstein asked VMs to notify him if they know of any outages or problems.

VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) of the exterior paint palette committee stated that her committee had met and made a list of the items they want to review. She stated they will address colors associated with door hue issues that have recently arisen. Sells stated they may add some colors but they won’t have anything to present until July.

VM Michelle DelSordo (Classic TH) of the Metal Roof Committee said that they had met a few weeks ago and are carefully learning a great deal about roofs. She stated they discussed metal roofs with the fire department and county staff, who stated they had no safety concerns. They met with one roofing company and they will be speaking with another company. They will get samples, review solar roofs and hope to conclude their recommendations in the next 30 to 60 days.

Brian Ross, Chair of the Variance Committee, spoke to the group about a variance issue his committee has encountered three times regarding the WCA’s three-foot turf requirement guideline. As discussed in past meetings, some residents have bypassed the proper procedures to resolve water and mud in side yards by adding river rock or walkways, removing landscaping or adding French drains. Ross requested that the VMs define the best way to deal with the issue, which he stated also impacts rain water flow, neighbors’ yards and ponds.

Sells made a motion to create a drainage committee and allocate funds to hire experts to explore solutions. VM Gerald Pappa (The Greens) added, “Some people have forgotten about not landscaping around the entire perimeter of your house. Many people have put in French drains. It amazes me that spouting and down spouts were not required.”

The vote to form a drainage committee was unanimous and WCA President Ruben Collazo said he would begin to solicit volunteers to join the committee.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock brought up concerns about estate sales in Westchase, which may not be held without written permission by the board. Wait-Woodcock stated some requests have come before the board and they have been denied. In response to those denials, one suggestion is for residents to hold estate sales when the community-wide garage sale happens but this could be difficult for an out of state family member to coordinate.

VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) suggested that estate sales could be held with restrictions such as not putting items outside like during the garage sale and requiring people to go inside the house. Sells agreed, stating, “Nothing outside. Everything inside.”

VM Forrest Baumhover (Kingsford), also a WCA Director, agreed saying “Open houses are like estate sales, so the board would be largely comfortable with some guidance from the voting members.”

Collazo agreed to go back to the board and see what they would say about allowing estate sales within certain parameters.

VMs adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted May 14, 2018


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Westchase Seniors Head to New Restaurant

On Tuesday, May 8, the Westchase Seniors Group will dine at the new Noble Crust Restaurant in Carrollwood.

May 8 Dinner The Noble Crust Restaurant uses seasonal farm-fresh flavors to craft creative dishes that make it difficult to taste where Italian ends and Southern begins. Executive Chef Rob Reinsmith is a Pinellas County native who spent several years working with some of the most noted chefs in New York City before returning to the Tampa Bay area to help open three new Noble Crust Restaurants in Carrollwood, St. Petersburg, and Wesley Chapel. Featured entrees include fresh seafood, chicken, bistro steak, pork, pasta, and pizza. Reservations for this dinner are required by May 7 and may be made by contacting the Patterson's at or 926-5473. We will car pool to the restaurant from the old St Joseph's Health Center parking lot at 10909 W. Linebaugh Ave at 4 p.m.

Chihuly Glass April's trip to see the new Chihuly Glass Museum and watch decorative glass objects being created was very interesting and enlightening. If you have yet to see St Petersburg's collection of Chihuly glass in the new museum built just for this collection, we highly recommend it. Not only is the collection outstanding, videos of the history of glass blowing and how Chihuly creates and displays his unusual forms of glass are interesting and educational. While in the area, be sure to also visit the Glass Studio and Hot Shop at 713 North 1st Avenue to watch decorative glass objects being created. Demonstrations are hourly from noon to 4PM. Watching some of the more complicated pieces being created will certainly create a greater appreciation these glass objects.

New Home Carlos Quiros has moved from Westchase to Aston Gardens, 11752 Lake Aston Court. Carlos has been a member of the Westchase Seniors Group since 2001 and says he will continue to come to our Tuesday morning coffee and monthly activities. Carlos has had an outstanding career, including serving as Secretary of State for Puerto Rico, serving in the Agency for International Development for the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., and serving Westchase as an HOA board member and as a Voting Member for West Park Village. We are happy he will continue to be a member of the Westchase Seniors Group.

Active Adult Activities Hillsborough County offers the following adult activities at the Westchase Recreation Center, 9791 Westchase Drive.

• Walking Club: Mon, Thu, Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
• Tone and Stretch: Mon, Wed, Fri, 9 a.m.
• Aerobics Light: Tue, 9:30 a.m.
• Yoga: Thu, 9:30 a.m.
• Ball Room Dance: Mon, 10-11 a.m.
• Chair Yoga: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
• Picketball: Mon, Tue, Wed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.;Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Picketball League: Fri, 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m.

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

Put Life in Your Years If you are a Westchase resident over 55 years old and looking to enjoy life, join the Westchase Seniors Group and add some fun to your life. To get emails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473). It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson


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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

April’s fakery came at a most propitious time.

With large numbers of residents falling for the WOW’s April Fools stories in WOW and WOW Northwest, last month a lot of folks were in need of some comforting.

Comfort Creatures on page 58 offered rentals of non-traditional comfort creatures. You could cozy up to a comfort porcupine or even their newest addition, a comfort Komodo dragon.

Just please don’t let it poop in your neighbor’s yard. WOW staff does not want to be sent that doorbell video.

The fake business was perfect for Scott Shellabarger, who initially fell for the WOW Northwest story that Oldsmar was annexing his neighborhood and building a baseball stadium on Race Track Road. “The April Fool's Cover Story got me,” he wrote. “I could totally see Oldsmar annexing Westwood Lakes It was very stressful, however, to see the tax increases.  I found myself looking for a Comfort Creature.  Then I thought:  Why not send a Comfort Skunk to the mayor of Oldsmar (or Boldsmarket)?  Yeh, your joke stinks...a little.”

Fortunately, Scott included a smiley emoji, meaning he still loves us. But he’ll be doubly happy to learn the fake ad gahds randomly selected his fake ad entry, winning him dinner courtesy of Catch Twenty-Three’s 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 Write Fake Ad Contest as the subject. One correct entry will be randomly chosen as winner each month.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Hannah Cushing Named WCF’s Tampa Bay Woman of the Year

The youngest candidate in the event’s history was named Tampa Bay Woman of the Year on March 2.

Hannah Cushing was one of 16 women who competed to raise much needed funds for children facing a serious illness or devastating family tragedy.

The Tampa Bay Woman of the Year (TBWOY) is the largest fundraiser for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families with children battling a serious illness or that have been faced with a devastating family tragedy.

The 2018 TBWOY took place on Friday, March 2, 2018 at the Sheltair private jet hangar. The popular event was attended by 500 people.

The women competing for the title assisted with obtaining sponsors, collecting auction items, getting in-kind donations, and planning parties to raise funds for the foundation. Trey Corish, WCF Secretary and Event Chair, said, “I have to say we were very blessed to have had this group of amazingly talented and philanthropic women running. With their dedication we were able to raise over $120,000.”

Hannah Cushing, just 17, took home the title this year. She is a senior at Steinbrenner High school, currently in her fourth year of the Sports Medicine program. Next fall, she will be attending Florida Gulf Coast University, majoring in Exercise Science.

Hannah raised almost $38,000 with the help of generous sponsors, friends and family. “Hannah contributed so much time and energy towards her campaign and won the crown with integrity. We are all proud of this young lady.” said Ahmed Bhutta, WCF Treasurer.

“The amount of good that comes out of this event is really special. We are thankful to be able to help so many families in need in the Tampa Bay area.” says Sean O’Donnell, WCF President.

Supporters this year included Absolute Marketing Solutions, Community Brands, Continental Wholesale Diamonds, ExecuJet, Laser Locators, Smith & Associates, Tampa Bay Lightning, The Wood Team, Tito’s Vodka, Westchase Limo, AT&T, AVSS, Cool Breeze Beverages, Corish & Company, DeBartolo Family Foundation, Elevated Events, GiveSmart, IM Events, Perfectly Bare and Westchase Law.

For more information on the WCF, the event and the candidates, visit


By Kimberly Wander


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Living With Oaks

If you’re a homeowner with an oak-tree problem, if their root systems are creating pushed-up sidewalks, elevated driveways or damaged plumbing systems, what to do?

You do have options.

But first, here’s what not to do.

Do NOT take matters into your own saw-clutching hands.

Do NOT try to level a sidewalk or grind down a root system on your own.

Your first obligation is to bring in an expert, preferably a board-certified arborist to analyze your oak-tree situation.

“What kills the tree is beating the roots with an ax,’’ Westchase Community Development District (CDD) Field Manager Doug Mays said. “If your arm is removed surgically and properly, you will survive. But if your arm is cut off with an ax, you probably won’t. With a tree, if it is cut properly, there shouldn’t be an issue.’’

“You must have someone who understands trees and engineering,’’ said Rob Northrop, an urban forester with the University of Florida’s extension service in Hillsborough County. “You don’t want to oversimplify an approach to solving the problem, so you’re spending more money than you need to or making a bad decision. Bring in somebody who knows what they’re talking about.’’

In most areas of Westchase and its surrounding neighborhoods, street trees, easements and sidewalks are county-owned property (exceptions exist for gated neighborhoods and roads in Highland Park; these are generally owned by your CDD or HOA). Removing an oak tree – even if it was creating damage – used to be a difficult proposition.

No more.

In today’s litigious society, Mays said there have been a few “trip-and-fall’’ lawsuits filed over uneven sidewalks and driveways. Mays said residents should keep the county apprised of needed repairs for their sidewalks because it’s conceivable they could named in a lawsuit.

Perhaps because of legal concerns, the county’s procedures have become more forgiving and the Westchase CDD now has a tree-removal program in Westchase neighborhoods (where the Westchase CDD handles all street trees).

‘To remove any tree above 5 inches on county property, a county-issued permit is required. It costs $35. With an approved permit, the Westchase CDD will remove the tree (even while using a tree service, with prices ranging between $500 and $700, the costs so far have been covered by the CDD budget).

“Twelve years ago, the Westchase board asked me what kind of issues I saw as future problems here,’’ Mays said. “I didn’t hesitate. I thought it would be the trees. I said we needed to put together a program.

“We do not replace an oak with an oak. If we remove an oak tree, we put back a tree not as damaging – a palm, a holly, maybe a crepe myrtle. A lot of people will hate to see these oak trees go. But residents have to make these decisions. If the county would keep up with the repair of these sidewalks, maybe it would be a different story. They are approving the permits, so now we’re able to help them with the tree removal.’’

What if 40 residents from one community suddenly request permits and want their oak trees removed?

“Then we might have a problem,’’ Mays said. “We probably couldn’t keep doing this, but we should. The preference is to not remove trees. It’s to live with it, maybe to grind down the roots and replace the sidewalk. But when they (roots) start getting in your pipes, there’s nothing (else) you can do.

“If everybody is going to need their oak trees removed, we need a good policy that everyone in the community can adapt to. It will certainly be an additional expense. Do we re-budget other items and maybe not have as many nice flowers? Or do the residents pay another $10 a year to help with the tree removal? In my opinion, you have to pay a little more to live here.’’

The City of Tampa, which has replaced downtown oak trees, has developed guidelines on spacing for trees. It’s recommended that any live oak tree be located at least 10 feet away from anything engineered, such as a sidewalk slab or driveway.

“People might think these things are unnecessary and they always point to the exceptions, but trees are not engineered and all the roots are not evenly spaced,’’ Northrop said.

Another oak tree-related issue, more of a cosmetic one, involves the difficulty of consistently growing grass under the leafy shade. There are shade tolerant varieties of St. Augustine grass, the sod required by Westchase’s rules. It’s a possible first step. Yet even shade tolerant varieties do require some sun.

“If you want good grass on a yard shaded by an oak tree, my recommendation would be to get rid of the tree,’’ Northrop said. “The trees will block the sun. If you have grass that needs full sunlight all the time, it’s not going to work out well.

Northrop fired questions behind the grass-tree dilemma. “What the HOA wants is a manicured lawn, but you just don’t get that with oak trees. Can the HOA change what it allows? You can’t change the trees and what their requirements are. And who made the decision to put these trees there in the first place? There are some ground coverings that don’t require full sunlight, but are they allowed?”

To that end, homeowners can explore with the WCA office what ground covers other than grass are permitted. Flexibility helps but itwon’t fix all problems.

“We want this natural beauty, but keep imposing all these human requirements,” Northrop said. “It’s not a good mix and it doesn’t work.’’

By Joey Johnston


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School Bus Wars

“What, for the love of gahd, are we going to do about the bus to Robinson?!” the text reads.

I plopped my cheek down on my computer mousepad.

The &%$#& Robinson bus again.

I decide to stay there until a meteor crashes through the roof and crushes my skull.

The &%$#& Robinson bus picks all the nerdy, overachieving IB high school kids from Westchase. It then, if it feels up to it, trickles 45 minutes south to Robinson High School, located at the southern tip of South Tampa so the IB nerds can annotate Othello and learn dozens of IB helpful acronyms to assist in comprehending sentences like: “In addition to your CAS hours, did you complete your IOS for HL Chem before your EE is due in your APUSH class or are you gonna wait for your JA?”

The &%$#& Robinson bus.

Which is late 33.56 percent of the time. (A Westchase IB parent told me this. But I rounded the decimal because my eyes glazed over after the sixth digit.)

The &%$#& Robinson bus.

Driven, if parents’ texts and email are to be believed, by a direct descendant of Genghis Khan.

I start typing my response.“I can’t decide between a good fire-bombing or picking it up with one of those large vehicle magnet thingees and dropping it into ginormous vat of acid.”

I hit send.

Then I quickly type a clarification. “Preferably with most of the kids off it.”

My phone dings for the arrival of a new text. “No. Really.”

But I WAS being serious.

My hatred of the &%$#& Robinson bus began five years ago. I was sitting in front of Westchase Elementary, waiting for Number One’s return home during our very first week of high school. We had never used a school bus before. It was bound to be as cheery and exciting as the old Wheels on the Bus song, right?

“Where are you?” I texted after 30 minutes of waiting.

It was our first experience with Hillsborough County School District’s Transportation Department.

Which, as bureaucracies go, make the most bananas of the world’s banana republic governments look like the pinnacle of brilliant competency.

With buses as new and reliable as all the Chevys in Havana.

“I’m not sure,” my freshman responded. “But we’re surrounded by water.”

Her next text carried a scenic photo of dolphins and a screen shot of Google maps.

The Robinson bus to Westchase was headed across the Courtney Campbell Causeway to Clearwater.

“Has anyone told the bus driver she’s going in the wrong direction?” I texted.

“A bunch of seniors are yelling at her and waving their phones,” Number One texted back. “But she just keeps yelling at them to shut up.”

After a full scale parental revolt some months later, that driver vanished. And for nearly two years, we had an extremely competent, polite and much beloved driver.

Competency being as rare as snow leopard in the district’s transportation department, he immediately got promoted. So that another homicidal nomad could again be directly responsible for our children’s safety.

Among Genghis Khan’s myriad abuses?

She assigns seats.

Despite not actually knowing any of the kids’ names.

Or apparently faces.

Last year at the beginning of the second quarter, Genghis kicked one of the Westchase IB nerd boys off her bus after accusing him of sneaking on it. He was left in the parking lot shouting, “BUT YOU’VE BEEN DRIVING ME FOR EIGHT WEEKS!”

Genghis bans athletic equipment.

Genghis also bans all musical instruments, unless you can convince her your clarinet is really your nerd lunch. (It’s happened.)

Genghis bans happiness and sunshine.

Genghis bans everything.

Because, it turns out, you can’t fit 75 high school kids on a single bus with IB backpacks AND still let two lacrosse sticks on because those stick will take up all the remaining space left for oxygen.

There’s been so much Genghis banning that parents have begun researching official bus rules.

Like this one: “Number 1: The bus driver is the authority on the bus.”

Let’s just skip over that inconvenient one and find something more interesting.

Other rules?

You can’t eat. You can’t fight.

My favorite?

“Rule 9: Do not carry onto the bus any glass items, reptiles, insects, pets, weapons or sharp instruments.”

So, IB nerds, you’re gonna have to leave those taped eyeglasses at home but by all means, bring any amphibian, spider or mammal along provided they’re not your pets.

Even three fully grown bull elephants.

Which, according to Hillsborough County School District’s Transportation Department, will comfortably fit three to a seat.

Or this: “Rule 10: Keep the aisles clear at all times.”

Which runs smack into school district officials’ insistence that 77 high schoolers can fit on a school bus.

Three to each 39-inch seat.

That’s officially 13 inches per butt.

Genghis actually berated my six-foot tall Elf, now a freshman, because her right buttock wouldn’t fit on the seat she was assigned to with a wrestler and a football player.

Genghis, however, doesn’t scream when she stops to pick up 25 more kids from the Alonso stop, whose bus driver apparently works every other week. Maybe you caught that video of 80 kids on the Robinson bus, sprawled on backpacks in the aisles, on the local news?

You gotta keep the aisles clear so the district can fill it with more teenagers.

Up in that hotbed of progressive liberalism called North Carolina, the state’s school rules say that only two kids in Grades 7-12 can ride in a single 39” seat. Because they realized high schoolers are a tad larger than Kindergarteners.

But we’re in Florida.

Where we have rules that ban reptiles from buses.

For years Westchase parents have offered conspiracy theories about why the Robinson bus route is the Titanic of competency. “The district is purposefully making it bad so families just start driving and they can cancel the magnet bus, saving them money,” the parents whisper.

The theory is believable enough.

Except for the fact that it requires a level of cunning, complexity and planning that the district’s transportation system has never once manifested.

This is, after all, a transportation system that forbids its drivers from using GPS systems.

Of course, it hasn’t occurred to Genghis to sit the nerdiest kid on the bus behind her, with a GPS open, telling her where to turn.

Because the Westchase nerd children, being the spawn of Satan, will trick her into something foolish.

Like driving across the Courtney Campbell Bridge to Clearwater.

Each year starts the same. The teetering, creaky bus takes the slowest possible route down Sheldon Road. For the tenth year in a row, Westchase parents launch an email campaign to get the bus to use Veterans Expressway so that the kids don’t spend an hour getting to school in a bus. Two weeks later they win a toll transponder.

Until the next year when it happens again. “Do you think maybe you could write this down this time?” I once suggested a district transportation official at a meeting.

He looked at me suspiciously.

Then last week, another parental text. “Our kids are still sitting on the bus that left for Robinson at 6:30 a.m.”

It was 8:30 a.m.

I texted Elf.

“The Alonso stop’s bus to Robinson didn’t come so we had to go down there to get the Alonso kids,” she texted back. “Then our driver drove back up to Linebaugh Avenue to get on Veterans,” she wrote. “Then there was this accident on Veterans...”

She included a video. Fully grown high school kids were mashed three and four to a seat. Ten kids were sprawled across backpacks clogging the bus floor.

In the background came a shrieking voice. “PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY!”

I texted back. “Make sure both buttocks are safely on the seat.”

And I rested my head on the mousepad.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Fly Like an Eagle

Troop 46 recently honored its newest Eagle Scout, Brenden Martensen.

Now 17 and a junior at Sickles High School, Brenden has been on the path to Eagle in Scouting since he was 6. He was awarded his Eagle rank in December 2017 and shared an
Eagle Court of Honor in April with recently celebrated fellow Eagle Scouts Matthew Dawes and Wyatt Howell. Long lasting friendships with exceptional boys who live the Scout oath daily has been one of the many benefits of Scouting Brenden has enjoyed.

As a young Scout, Brenden had an early opportunity to display leadership and Scout skills. He and his Eagle Scout father, Fred Martensen, sprang into action to save the life of a 1 year old that had fallen in a swimming pool and stopped breathing. While Dad performed CPR on the child, Brenden found the pediatric nurse neighbor to assist and directed paramedics to poolside. This girl lived and today shows no effects from the trauma but will be bonded to the Martensen family forever.

Brenden has earned 39 merit badges and attended four summer camps with Troop 46. He graduated from BSA’s National Youth Leadership Training and served as Patrol Leader for the Phoenix Patrol and Troop Webmaster. He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.

A lifelong resident of Fawn Ridge, Brenden gave back to his neighborhood with his Eagle Scout project by installing dog waste stations, a park bench, and restroom signage in Hillsborough County’s Fawn Ridge County Park.

At Sickles High School Brenden is a member of the National Honor Society and the interscholastic track team. He has plans to pursue a major of computer engineering in college. Brenden also has a dog walking business, assists with lost dog rescue locally, and continues to develop his webmaster skills. He is the son of Helena and Fred Martensen.

Troop 46 meets most Mondays at the First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway. For more information about joining, stop by anytime. Our Scoutmaster is David Smith.

Congratulations, Brenden, from Troop 46!

By Tristan Goodrich


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Meet Monroe!

Monroe is a 14-year-old Hemingway kitty who lives in Sheffield. Monroe likes to sun himself outside on the porch, chase lizards and snuggle at night with his family. He also likes to annoy and pester his 2 fur siblings, Scout and Frankie


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Alonso Hosts Busy May

May is going to be a busy month for current and incoming Alonso students.

In addition to finals, playoffs and, of course, graduation, there are a number of important events and activities to mark on your calendar:

May 17        Spring Football Jamboree (Gaither High School)
May 12        Graduation Rehearsal (Florida State Fairgrounds)
May 21-25   Exam Week (Alonso Campus)
May 29        Graduation (Florida Fairgrounds)
May 29        Fall Sports Meeting (Alonso Auditorium)
May 29-31   Cheerleading Tryouts (Alonso Gymnasium)

Athletes Wanted
For those interested in playing a fall sport, Alonso will host an hour-long informational meeting on Tuesday, May 29. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the school auditorium and will give parents and students the opportunity to learn about Alonso athletics in general, speak with various coaches, and hear about individual team deadlines and requirements.

Meet the New Head Football Coach
Following the general session (approximately 7:15 p.m.), Alonso football will hold a brief orientation in the school media center for anyone interested in trying out for the 2018 season. For many, this will be the first chance to meet new head coach Ron Perisee. (See page 58.) Coach Perisee will be on hand to answer any questions, discuss summer workouts, and talk about his expectations for the team.

Join the Team!
For more information about school events or ways to support Alonso athletics, please join the Alonso High School Facebook group, or visit the Alonso Booster Club website at


By Les Young


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WOW in the Indonesia and England

In recent months WOW found itself visiting extended family in Indonesia and celebrated a wedding anniversary in the UK.

Late last summer Ratna and Kamesh Bulusu of The Bridges traveled to Indonesia to visit family in Surabaya, East Java. “While we were there, my husband, Kamesh, made some time to check out some famous temples in Central Java while I stayed put with the kids in Surabaya,” wrote Ratna.

Here Kamesh is pictured at Borobudur. “Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world,” explained Ratna, adding that the photo did not do justice to the temple’s beauty or size. “Built around the ninth  century, it was a mix of native Indonesian's cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana.”

Indonesia, an archipelago consisting of hundreds of islands off the southeast coast of Asia, saw the rise and spread of Buddhism due to popular trade routes. Buddhism like Hinduism, arose in India and reached its height in Indonesia’s islands with its eighth and ninth century Buddhist kingdoms. While the religion went into sharp decline in Indonesia with the arrival and spread of Islam in the 13th century, many of the Buddhist temples remain and see significant tourist activity.

Meanwhile Chris and David Colden celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary with a 12 day cruise from Amsterdam to the British Isles. There they attended The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale. Here the happy couple is pictured with the famous Claret Jug on the Sunday morning before it was presented to Jordan Spieth. Chris also is pictured hanging with a famous rocker outside the UK pub where the Beatles got their start.

Take WOW on Your Spring Trips!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your spring 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 with a few sentences about your trip and the location of the photo(s).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Alonso Greets New Head Football Coach

The Alonso High School football program, stunned by the abrupt departure of its head coach, quickly rallied with the elevation of assistant coach Ron Perisee to the top job.

Perissee hopes to continue building on an improved foundation.

Alonso principal Kenneth Hart said Perisee, a social-studies teacher at the school, is hard-working, personable and loyal. Perisee was chosen from a field of 60 applicants.

“He bleeds blue and Vegas gold,’’ said Hart, referring to the Alonso school colors.

“This is the only place I want to be,’’ said Perisee, 39, who was Alonso’s defensive line coach last season. “I think Alonso is one of the best-kept secrets in Hillsborough County. The train is not stopping. We’re going to keep going and keep getting better and better.’’

The train did briefly come off the tracks, though, with a major surprise. Reggie Crume, who engineered a 5-5 record in his first season and showed all signs of someone who was building for the long haul, resigned to take the head coaching position at Calvary Christian in Pinellas County.

“It caught me completely by surprise and didn’t make me remotely happy,’’ Hart said. “That being said, it’s never my intent to talk someone into staying. You move on. There’s always controversy and hurt feelings and the thought among some kids and parents that the grass is greener (at another school), so you want to stop the bleeding.

“Ron Perisee’s name quickly rose to the top. The fact that he is a teacher on our campus (Crume was in private business) was what we were looking for. Ron is an enthusiastic, talented coach and loves our school. We feel he has solid potential to become a great head coach.’’

Perisee has a diverse background. As part of a military family, he played high school football in Columbia, S.C. and semi-pro football in Germany. He also played rugby at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He majored in international affairs at Rollins College.

After working in other fields to start his career, Perisee said he felt the pull to become a high-school teacher. He interviewed at five places, but was most impressed by Alonso, where he said “the teachers care about the students, the parents are involved and the kids are all pretty good kids.’’

He was Alonso’s offensive-line coach in 2016, then was hired by Crume last season. Perisee said he wanted to eventually become a head coach, but Crume’s departure moved up the timetable.

“Reggie made the move that he thought was best for him and you can’t fault a man for taking care of his family,’’ Perisee said. “You never know when your opportunity will come about. When it does, you have to step up and take charge.’’

Alonso has had just four winning seasons (and one district title) in 17 years of football, but 2017 was a step in the right direction.

The Ravens finished 5-5, beating rival Sickles for the first time since 2010 and capturing their first homecoming victory in five seasons. At the season’s lowest ebb, the Ravens were 1-4 and trailing 21-0 against Palm Harbor University, but they rallied for a season-turning 35-28 triumph.

In all, Alonso won four of its last five games. And its junior-varsity squad finished 5-1, providing more encouragement for the future.

“The cupboard is not bare,’’ Perisee said. “We need to build upon the momentum we have established. And that’s what we intend to do.’’

Perisee intends to be a game manager as head coach. He will hire an offensive coordinator to call the plays and a defensive coordinator to work with the defense. Perisee will oversee special teams and have a hand in all aspects of the team.

“When we interviewed Ron, he made it clear that some things will change, but he will also keep many of the initiatives that Reggie started,’’ Hart said. “He’s not looking to make sweeping changes. If there are changes, they will happen gradually and for the positive.

“Is the timing of all this difficult? You might say that because our spring practices (which began April 26) were coming up. But football is now a year-round sport, so our kids have been working out, studying, preparing. We don’t think we’re going to miss a beat.’’

Judging from last year’s prelude to spring practice, Perisee said the Ravens are much better prepared to attack the season. What is needed most?

“We could be a little bit more disciplined and academically oriented,’’ Perisee said. “The kid who cuts up in class or is late, I’ve noticed that same kid is the one who’s prone to making a crucial mistake or missing an assignment.

“When you do things right, winning will come. It’s a byproduct of the process. I’m a big process guy. We are bigger, faster and stronger than last year with a better football I.Q. We have the right things in place. Now we need to go out and do it.’’

By Joey Johnston


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Davidsen Center for the Arts Prepares for 2017-18 Finale

As the curtain closes on the 2017-18 academic school year, Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts has many exciting events planned to celebrate student accomplishments and milestones.

We also welcome a new member of the administration.

Our new Assistant Principal, Raechel Schuerman, joins us after having served for the past five years as an A.P. of Student Affairs at Alonso High School. She hopes to help reduce the gap between middle and high school and believes DMS is great fit!

The eighth graders will celebrate their last year of middle school beginning on May 4 with a Yearbook Signing. The Eighth Grade Awards Ceremony (invitation only) is May 16 at 6 p.m. and the long-awaited Eighth Grade Dance will be May 18 at 7 p.m. Volunteers are needed for the dance. If you’re able to help, please contact Joanne Westmoreland at

The Sixth and Seventh Grade Awards Ceremony will be held on May 17.

There will also be a Fifth Grade Informational Night on May 17 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria. All incoming sixth graders are invited to attend with their families. And, new to DMS this year, there will be a Sixth Grade Orientation Camp on July 25, from 9 a.m. to noon. Students will meet some teachers, learn how to use a locker, and become more comfortable with the transition to middle school. Information will be sent to all feeder schools in the coming weeks.

The Dance and Music Departments have a full calendar as well. The Spring Dance Performance is May 7. The Music Department will take a field trip to see the Blue Man Group in Orlando on May 8. And there are several must-see spring concerts, including the Band Concert on May 10, Chorus Concert on May 14 and the Orchestra Concert on May 15.

This year, 19 eighth-grade DMS students participated in a high school credit course called Digital Information Technology. The HCPS middle school goal for this course is to earn the MOS Bundle, consisting of an Industry Certification in MS Word, MS PowerPoint and MS Excel – the same certification granted to adults! As of this writing, 18 students have achieved the goal and the 19th is on track to complete certification by the end of the year. DMS has awarded 55 certifications so far. This course is offered to eighth grade students as an elective with teacher approval; ideally, students will have completed Business Keyboarding as a sixth grader and/or CAB/EITC as a seventh grader. For more information, contact Janice Moumne, Business Technology Teacher, at

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

Important May Dates

1 PTSA Board Meeting at 9:15 AM
4 Eighth Grade Yearbook Signing
7 Spring Dance Performance
8 Music Department Field Trip – Blue Man Group
10 Spring Band Concert
14 Spring Chorus Concert
15 Spring Orchestra Concert
16 Eighth Grade Awards
17 Sixth and Seventh Grade Awards
17 Fifth Grade Preview Night
18 Eighth Grade Dance

By Carolyn Reynolds


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MOMS Club Celebrates Earth Day

To kick off the month, our moms snuck away for a much needed moms’ night out at the prohibition era-themed Repeal 18, where the ladies sipped on hand-crafted specialty cocktails.

We also welcomed new members at our monthly new member brunch. Last month’s picnic-style lunch at Glencliff Park was such a success that we decided to do it again this month at Fawn Ridge’s playground. This time the MOMS Club provided lunch from Chick-fil-a. Mid-month we splashed into the Florida Aquarium to take in the sea life and romp in the outdoor splash pad. The month culminated in a scavenger hunt and play at the Upper Tampa Bay Park in honor of Earth Day.

Our April charitable cause was Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, where we made a donation to honor Earth Day. To celebrate Mother’s Day in May the club will make a monetary contribution to the National Healthy Start Association, committed to improving birth outcomes and health disparities that exist within communities of color throughout the U.S.

This month I’d like to share one of my favorite – and most used – benefits of the MOMS Club, the recommendations from our moms via our members-only Facebook page. Whether I’m seeking a new doctor, embarking on a home improvement project, or flying with an infant for the first time to a below-freezing vacation destination, the MOMS Club is my first stop for always reliable advice. We’ve had so many over the years that we’ve compiled a list of recommendations for the most frequently asked topics, and the list continues to grow as more questions are asked and answered.

We are always looking to connect with new moms and local businesses. If you have a business or a babe, please visit 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 – and our recommendations – for keeps!

By Heather Dagostino


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Spa Spoiling Mom on Mother’s Day

Looking for a different treat for mom this year?

All sorts of interesting spa treatments are popping up around the Tampa Bay area.

From salt rooms in Wesley Chapel and Valrico to Fish Spas in Clearwater and flotation therapy in Carrollwood, if your mom has an adventurous spirit and you’re tired of giving the same manicure/pedicure gift certificate each year, a visit to one of these new spas might be the present you’re looking for this year.

With the benefit of a Groupon and the excuse of celebrating a birthday, my friend Nikki and I tried out the Garra Fish Spa in Clearwater earlier this year. According to the spa technician who helped us there, the Garra Rufa fish kiss your feet with a micro massage that leaves them clean and soft with the added bonus of improved blood circulation throughout the whole body. He said the treatment has been popular in many Asian, European and South American countries for quite a while but is relatively new to the U.S.

The water in the aquarium is room temperature, not at all cold like we thought it would be, but it is startling to have fish swarm your feet as soon as you dip them in the water. We screamed a bit, we laughed a lot. Maybe my feet were softer – not sure about my circulation – but it was a fun time together.

Fish not her thing?

She can still get the benefits of the ocean air by visiting a salt room – according to one website, 30 minutes in the room is like three days at the beach. According to the same site, the mineral salts found in salt rooms have strong rejuvenating properties and are reported to do everything from improving skin issues and supporting your immune, nervous and lymphatic systems to reducing stress and headaches and increasing energy. I have not actually been to a salt room since the thought of driving to Wesley Chapel or Valrico causes more stress than could be cured by any spa treatment. But when one opens closer to Westchase, I’ll be there.

I did, however, make the drive to Carrollwood to float in a dark pod for an hour. It was much better than it sounds. I didn’t know what to expect when I visited Tampa Floats Wellness Center in Carrollwood. But my guide Alex talked me through the float. “You’ll be in a large pod filled with 10 inches of water and 1,000 pounds of salt. It is buoyant like the Dead Sea and you’ll float effortlessly.” Alex said that the pressure of gravity is removed while you’re floating, which allows your body to relax, improves your circulation and can help relieve depression. He said that it would be completely dark in the pod and that because of the sensory deprivation, my brain would run at a more efficient level.

I had my doubts as to whether I could float in the pod for an hour but amazingly the time went be very quickly. Did my brain operated more efficiently? That night at dinner, my family asked, “What did you think about for an hour?”

The answer?

“What are we going to have for dinner?”

Since I had to go to Publix on the way home, I thought maybe if I concentrated on that, I’d come up with something really original and yummy for the evening. That didn’t happen – we had our standby grilled chicken dinner. But I was more relaxed, happier and energized while making it.

By Marcy Sanford


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Plan for All Shapes and Sizes

Although it’s common for people to compare the way they look to others, it is often not a fair comparison.

Everyone is not built the same. Working toward a goal should be one that is attainable. f you are an adult male who is 5’10”, it is obvious that you will not be 6’4”, no matter how much you aspire to be. If you have bigger bones and a naturally muscular physic, for example, setting a goal to have a longer, lean frame will also have its restrictions. Embracing your body type and the acceptance that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes is a powerful awareness. Then set goals for being your healthiest, best self.

The fitness community defines three major body types; ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. It is very likely that you are a combination of two, with one type being more dominant. Knowing your body type, you can come up with a plan that is specific to your success.

Ectomorph: Typically long, lean muscles with small joints, ectomorphs find it hard to gain muscle. They have a faster metabolism. With narrow hips and thighs, weight gain often occurs in unwanted areas like the waistline. Ectomorph workouts should be shorter with intense exercises for larger muscle groups. Weights would be heavier with fewer repetitions. Ectomorphs need healthy sources of protein and good carbohydrates.

Mesomorph: With larger bone structure and naturally athletic build, this body type is strong and can easily gain muscle mass. Mesomorphs can also burn fat relatively easy. If they do not want to bulk up, the mesomorph would lift light to moderate weight and include more bouts of cardio. Eliminating processed foods and sugar from their diet can quickly reduce body fat.

Endomorph: Endomorphs gain weight very easily. Their metabolism is slower. Endomorphs are strong, but it is usually more difficult to lose weight. It is very important for this body type to limit processed foods and sugars to lose body fat and not be discouraged when weight doesn’t drop immediately. Daily cardio at a higher intensity is recommended. The activity could be any number of things, including walking, biking, dancing, swimming, or running.

Of course, lifestyle, consistency of training, genetics, hydration, and adequate rest are also important elements in your plan.

By Shannon Thigpen

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


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Home of the Month: 10016 Seymour Way

Rob and Michelle Sulzer have lived in their West Park Village home for 15 years.

In that time they’ve seen their son Robbie grow from a toddler to a teenager, welcomed their daughter, Maddie, and enjoyed hanging out on their porch meeting neighbors and making lifelong friends.

This year, however, they decided it was time for a fresh start – at least with their landscaping. “We replaced everything about 10 years ago,” said Michelle. “But with the way the sun hits the house, the plants on one side were larger than the plants on the other. The holly bushes were too big and overgrown. Even though we had maintained a lot, it was still out of control.”

The Sulzers called on Aventura Nursery and Landscaping to remove the old shrubs and plants and plant new ones and replace a tree that was lost during Hurricane Irma. Michelle said the family had fun exploring the 36-acre nursery located in Spring Hill. While they decided to use many of the same plants they’d had before, they all agree that their home looks brand new thanks to the new landscaping. In addition to fresh plants and shrubs, they added new dramatic lighting to accent their house.

While many of the plants in their yard are perennials that provide greenery, Michelle changes out the flowers in the flower beds several times a year to add color. Meanwhile lots of window boxes and large containers overflowing with succulents, herbs, flowers and ferns add flair to the home. “I come outside every evening to water the plants or trim them. It is my time to decompress. I truly enjoy gardening. It is my therapy.”

In addition to providing stress relief, the Sulzers have found that gardening is a way to teach their children the value of working with their parents while earning some money on the side. “They come out and work with us in the yard,” said Michelle. “Maddie helped rake up pine bark when we were changing the plants.  Robbie has been mowing the yard since he was 14.”

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


Succulents are able to store water in their stems, leaves or roots. Because Florida doesn’t have a dry season, they tend to do best in containers here. You can group several together for a unique look. They tend to propagate easily, and you can repot new plants in a different container to add to your collection.

By Marcy Sanford


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Noble Crust Dishes up a Taste of Italy

The Southern-inspired Italian eatery delivers tasty nibbles, fantastic service and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Always on the lookout for a fresh, new place to dine, I happened upon Noble Crust recently in Carrollwood. Open since December and located on Dale Mabry where the old Outback used to be, Noble Crust is outside of the Westchase area but close enough for a midweek meal.

The rustic open-concept interior lends itself well to the mostly hipster crowd—at least in the bar area, where we grabbed a first-come table to avoid an hourlong Saturday night wait. There was a smattering of young couples and families in the dining area and outdoor patio as well, so it is a nice mixed crowd. The house music is a bit loud, and there’s a buzz of activity due to the open kitchen and lack of interior walls, so I wouldn’t call it cozy and romantic. Still, it works.
Because it is farm-to-table (many of the menu items are grown locally) and selections change seasonally, Noble Crust has a surprisingly small menu. There are only a handful of appetizer options and 10 main course entrees (not counting pizza) from which to choose. But what’s there is predominantly house-made, fresh and fantastic.

We started with the Ricotta Gnocchi ($10.50). House-made potato dumplings are stuffed with ricotta and doused in a light cream sauce flavored with pancetta and pecorino. To me, it was reminiscent of my Mom Mom’s chicken pot pie. The dumplings weren’t dense, as gnocchi can be, and the sauce was creamy and light.

Next up was the Bronzed Salmon ($19), which was topped with a tangy sauce and served alongside grilled cauliflower and fabulous garlic whipped potatoes. The fish was cooked perfectly and the potatoes were smooth and delicious. My dining partner had the Rigatoni and Short Rib Ragu ($18.50). It featured chunks of tender rib meat in a tangy tomato sauce over pasta topped with a healthy dollop of burrata cheese. Primo!

Since it’s an Italian-inspired restaurant, we felt obligated to try the pizza. This was the single disappointment of the evening. Though not bad by any stretch of the imagination, the Pizza Margherita ($12) left a lot to be desired. The pizza sauce was tasty, but the crust was a bit lifeless. We did see several diners order pizza with a fried egg on top – maybe that’s the secret ingredient.

One downside to the open kitchen is that you can see all the dishes as they come out, and everything looks so good, you’ll want to try it. This is how we ended up with Strawberry Shortcake ($8) to end our evening. Fresh sweet strawberries, crumbly cheesecake and a mound of homemade whipped cream pair together perfectly—and it’s plenty to share. 

The service at Noble Crust was, in a word, superb. Our server was knowledgeable, patient and personable. The wait staff completes an extensive training program, and it shows. She knew all of the ingredients, made wonderful suggestions and delivered excellent personal service.

Though it’s not around the corner, Noble Crust is an excellent option for dinner (or, on weekends, brunch). “People from Westchase will make the trip,” proclaimed my dining partner. And they should.

Noble Crust
11618 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Hours: Open at 4 p.m. Tue-Fri; 10:30 a.m. Sat and Sun; closed Mon

By Melanie Casey


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Davidsen’s Spring Showcase May 7

The Davidsen Dance Program will cap off a successful first year with a Spring Showcase on Monday, May 7, 7 p.m., at the Alonso High School Theater.

Dance Teacher Julie Mac has worked hard this year to build up the program and is excited about how far it has advanced in so little time.

Just this semester they’ve had a Student Showcase and been the recipient of an anonymous benefactor.

“Our Spring Showcase will feature five dances plus one student choreographed dance. I had so many students that wanted to create a dance for the spring show that we had to have a student showcase to pick one.” Mac said, adding that 11 different dance students ended up creating their own dances for the student showcase. “A student emceed the event and they made their own costumes.”

Speaking of costumes, Davidsen dancers had to borrow costumes from another school for the Winter Showcase. This semester they decided to increase their fundraising efforts so that they could buy their own. Mac put a request on Go Fund Me and while the donations began to trickle in, she and her students could not believe it when an anonymous benefactor donated $2,000 to get them to their goal before the deadline was up. “It was wonderful what he did,” said Mac. “I’ve ordered the costumes and the dancers were so excited to see them.”

After the showcase, the costumes will remain at Davidsen for future dancers to wear.

But Mac said the biggest accomplishment is hearing students talk about what the dance class has meant to them.

“Since I have been in dance, my discipline has improved,” said one of her students. “I have ADHD and its helped my grades come up and it helps me calm myself. I have a brand-new group of friends that are very accepting and a teacher who I can relate to.”

Said another student, “Dance has released my fear of being intimidated and now I have confidence.”

The Spring Showcase is open to the public with a suggested donation of $5 per person. All proceeds will benefit the dance program.

By Marcy Sanford


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Crime in 33626: March 2018

Accidental Injury


9000 English Silver Wy.

Grand Theft – All Other


7900 Gunn Hwy.



8800 Sheldon West Dr.



7900 Gunn Hwy.

Theft from a Vehicle


10800 Preservation View Dr.

Burglary Business/No Force


10600 Sheldon Rd.

Obstruct – Police (Non-Violent)


10600 Sheldon Rd.

Theft from a Vehicle


10100 Montague St.

Warrant in County


10600 Sheldon Rd.

Accidental Injury


12900 Sheldon Rd.

Battery On Elderly – Simple


11500 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Obstruct – Police (Non-Violent)


11700 Casa Lago Ln.

Burglary Residence/Forced


8800 Key WeSt. Cr.

Burglary Residence/Forced


8800 Cameron Crest. Dr.

Burglary Residence/Forced


13400 Iola Dr.

Warrant in County


8800 Cameron Crest. Dr.

Other Weapon Violations


11000 Sheldon Rd.



11000 Sheldon Rd.

Drug Paraphernalia


11000 Sheldon Rd.

Petit Theft – All Other


11800 Glen Wessex Ct.

Theft from a Vehicle


9700 Westchase Dr.

Theft from a Building


10000 Sheldon Rd.

Grand Theft – All Other


11400 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Trespass Misdemeanor


11400 Cypress Reserve Dr.

Grand Theft – All Other


11800 Cypress Hill Cr.



11800 Cypress Hill Cr.



W. Linebaugh Ave./Countryway Blvd.



10500 Montague St.

Disorderly Conduct


10500 Montague St.

Theft from a Vehicle


14200 Waterville Cr.

Warrant In County


12000 Mountbatten Dr.



Montague St./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Felony Battery


9700 Magnolia Blossom Dr.



7900 Gunn Hwy.

Curtilage With Theft


7800 Broadstone Lp.



Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drug Paraphernalia


Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Building


7800 Gunn Hwy.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


12700 Race Track Rd.



Sheldon Rd./Westwind Dr.

Drug Paraphernalia


Sheldon Rd./Westwind Dr.



13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Warrant in County


11000 Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Business/Forced


11300 Gate Ln.

Battery – Simple


11200 Sheldon Rd.


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Fifth Grade Leopards Look to Middle School

Lowry’s fifth graders are getting ready to leave the nest. Next year, they will experience new challenges and will start a new adventure in middle school! There are, however, a few more adventures left like the Fifth Grade Banquet and the field trip to Busch Gardens! Most students are excited to ride the roller coasters and enjoy this fun trip to create a few more elementary school memories.

We wanted to know how students at Lowry felt about going to middle school. Maya Fivecoat said, “I am not looking forward to changing my elementary school routine.”

On the other hand Nate Casabang is “excited for a new experience.” Most of Lowry’s fifth graders will be attending Farnell Middle School and some will be going to Davidsen.

Isabella Smith, who will be attending Davidsen, said, “It will be a fun opportunity to learn and make new friends”

The students seem most concerned about keeping up with academics and being able to open their locker. We are sure Lowry students will be great next year and that they will cherish the enchanted memories they created at Lowry Elementary School.

For the remaining students at Lowry, May will be a time to wrap up those final projects and finish out the year strongly. We wish all of our fifth graders well as they embark on their new adventure and look forward to welcoming back all of our other students in the fall!

Have a safe and wonderful summer!

Lowry May Events

24 Fifth Grade Banquet
25 Fifth Grade Clap Out, 11:45 a.m.
25 Last Day of School/Report Cards Go Home


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Walker Girls Notch District Soccer Championship

The Walker IB Middle School Girls Soccer Team made school history this spring.

In defeating Barrington Middle School 4-3, the squad became the District Champions for Hillsborough County.

This was the first time any girls athletic team at the school has won a district championship. “Walker girls played hard, fought hard, and they did it as a team and accomplished something great,” said Head Coach Jennifer Shubert-Finch. “They will continue to accomplish great things.”

The Wolves ended their regular season against Smith, Hill, Farnell and Davidsen Middle Schools 4-1. During the championship season, they played four games in four days, winning all. First they took a tie-breaker game against Martinez to become the West cluster winner, then prevailed in the quarterfinals against Turner/Bartel and the semi-finals against Mulrennan Middle School before advancing to the final game. The girls scored a combined 26 goals during the season and only had 1 goal scored against them.

The team was honored at a Hillsborough County School Board Recognition Meeting on March 27 that celebrated achievements from across the district.

Team members included Madeline Busch, Thein Cordero, Natalia Febre, Keira Gonzalez, Ashley Paul, Gabriella Peralta, Keegan Dunnam, Sarah Halabi, Ella Paulsson, Alexandra Raquet, Mackenzie Sekulits, Tara Senkowicz, Reagan Wilson, Kendall Wright, Jasmine Camejo, Alyssa Dukes, Haley Enright, Alexa Gilland, Julia McCollough and Danielle Musry.

Selina Orde and Joe Cordero were assistant coaches for the team.

By Marcy Sanford


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County Commission Seat Shuffle Leaves Northwest Hillsborough Representation an Open Question

What’s happening with the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners this election year?

You’re not alone if you’re confused about the seat representing Westchase and Northwest Hillsborough.

It’s currently held by Commissioner Sandra Murman, reelected in November 2016 to her last term in that seat. Term limits will prevent her from running again for the seat in 2020.
Meanwhile, four residents of the district, which stretches from Odessa down through Westchase and South Tampa before jumping Tampa Bay to include Apollo Beach, have already filed to run for her seat in 2020. One, Todd Marks, is a Westchase resident.

Why the early start?

Two issues are at play.

Murman herself has filed to run for District 7, the county-wide seat currently held by term-limited Al Higginbotham (Rep.) this upcoming election season. Like other commissioners before her, the seat shuffle would re-set her term limit clock. It’s likely Murman views Higginbotham’s seat as more winnable than another county-wide seat that would open in 2020.

Here’s the complication, however. To qualify as candidate in June for Higginbotham’s seat, Murman would have to resign from her current District 1 seat by June 8. That would leave it open, triggering a special election and prompting the candidates who have filed for 2020 to fight for the seat in this August’s primary and November’s general election instead.

But wait. There’s more.

At a Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners meeting in early April, Murman confirmed rumors of an attempted reconfiguration of the board by floating a plan to restructure it. Currently it has three at-large seats elected county-wide and four geographically specific seats. Citing the county’s growing population, she pitched changing the board to seven or nine geographically specific districts, meaning Westchase through Odessa could receive its own seat. If approved, the changed district boundaries would also reset the term limit clock for everyone currently on the board, likely in 2020. Restructuring the board, however, would require five of the seven current commissioners votes. While it appeared to receive lukewarm support in early April, Murman prevailed upon county staff to prepare a staff report on the proposal anyway.

Meanwhile the three candidates who have currently filed for the 2020 District 1 race are playing a game of wait and see – while quickly raising cash to make a run in 2018 if necessary.

The Democratic side currently has only Florida Representative Janet Cruz of South Tampa as filed and running with $62,000 in her campaign chest. In recent weeks, however, Cruz has indicated she may change her mind and instead challenge Florida State Senator Dana Young (Rep.) in 2018. Young’s state senate district also represents the Westchase area. That move would leave no current Democratic challenger in the District 1 BOCC race.

On the Republican side, Westchase attorney Todd Marks, who previously ran unsuccessfully for the Florida House, and South Tampa newcomer Aakash Patel, were filed and running by mid-April.

As qualifying does not end until mid-June, other candidates may join the races.

Patel, the owner of Elevate, a networking firm that he founded in 2012 and that employs eight people, has been a formidable fundraiser, with $289,000 banked for the race. A resident of Tampa since 1998, he’s a graduate of Sickles High School and Florida State.

A resident of The Greens in Westchase since 2005, Marks announced his candidacy more recently and kicked off his fundraisers in March. At deadline, he had raised $55,000.

An attorney, Marks attended the University of Cincinnati College of Business for his undergraduate degree and completed his law degree at George Mason University in Virginia. Marks touts himself as owning numerous companies and is the founder and managing shareholder of Westchase Law and Westchase Title, which employ between 12-15 people. Active in Hillsborough County’s Republican Party, Marks also has served on various boards including Hillsborough County’s Land Use Appeals Board and the Westchase Charitable Foundation.

Marks jumped into the race with the expectation of a possible 2018 run. “I believe we need common sense conservative leadership and there were community leaders that were looking for just that and asked me to consider serving the community in that capacity.”

A single father of three, Marks said, “I am guided by my faith in God and certain core values such as lower taxes, limited government, pro-life, pro-second amendment and I have been a lifelong conservative Republican.”
When asked how he was different from Patel, Marks responded, “Voters are smart enough to make good choices on their own but what I will say about myself is that I am a consistent conservative father of three, business owner, and attorney who has been engaged in local, state, and national politics and government since my teen years. My understanding of law, business, and government combined with my community service and overall life experiences make me a better candidate to represent the district, and in particular Westchase.”

Marks added, “My opponent recently said that he does not ascribe to a Republican or Democrat philosophy but he is pro-Hillsborough. I am a consistent conservative Republican with core values and a strong history of supporting Republicans on the local, state, and national levels.”

Of Patel, Marks charged, “He’s not a real conservative and I don’t think he’s a real Republican. He’s supported Democrats for office instead of Republicans in Tampa or St. Pete.” Marks added, “You can’t be all things for all people. What you get from Todd Marks is you know where I’m coming from. We need someone with conservative values and core beliefs so you know what you’re getting when you vote for them.”

When asked his top three priorities if elected commissioner, Marks stated, “My pledge is to make constituent service my top priority. As a district commissioner, my first priority will be constituent services.” He added, “My commitment is to be actively engaged to help ensure our quality of life here in Westchase and throughout the district. Solving our transportation issues, transforming the local economy to create new and better jobs to strengthen our economy, and smart growth and development will remain at the forefront of my priorities.”

Offered the opportunity to respond, Patel stated, “My strong conservative values are evident by the support I’ve gained from over 1,000 individual contributors who have financially donated to my campaign. To date, I’ve raised over $400,000 and received thousands of signatures from knocking on doors of residents throughout District 1.  Citing endorsements from Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz and Gus Bilirakis, Republican Representative Joe Gruters, and former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, Patel also touted his appointment by Gov. Rick Scott as Chairman of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County in 2014. He added, “I will put my consistent conservative values to work for all of Hillsborough County when elected by prioritizing important issues such as transportation, education, economic development  and government efficiency.”

In District 7, Murman currently faces a primary against fellow Republican Cherie L Denham to determine which will run against the winner of the Democratic primary. Charles Davis III, Kimberly Overman, Corey Reynolds and Sky White are Democrats who have filed for that county-wide primary.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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What Was Your Reaction to April’s Cover Story?

Is it too late to say, “April Fools”?

If the past is any measure, most readers have figured out by now that WOW’s April cover, announcing the Linebaugh construction work had to be redone (with the possibility of an above-ground pipeline), was a complete fabrication.

Then again, if past is any measure, some are realizing that right…about…now.

(In our defense, we did include a note at the end of the story telling you that.)

WOW actually had a different story planned for the April Fools tradition, but the editor’s brother, a resident of Village Green, insisted that we run the story of the failed construction project. And his wife concocted the backwards-installed pipe reason.

So, really, it’s all their fault. The editor just wrote it.

The day the April WOW landed, members of the Facebook group Westchase Neighborhood News were treated to a hysterical string of reactions from those who fell for the gag.

Wrote one, “The contractor attached the reclaimed water pipe backwards? Really? Are they for real? For me, it is a no brainer you make the contractor do the job properly even if it means digging up the road.” Before calling on folks to write their CDD supervisors in protest, she added, “They also suggest painting it to make it aesthetically pleasing. So then we can have a painted above ground pipe running down Linebaugh. An above ground pipeline will make Westchase look trashy and ridiculous. We get letters in the mail for chipped paint on our mailboxes and now they are advocating putting an eyesore like this down Linebaugh Avenue!”

Another chimed in. “I can’t even park my company vehicle in my driveway and they think anyone will be OK with an above ground pipe down the median?! What happens when someone runs into it?! Replace it again? Lol. What a bunch of idiots.”

When another member posted a comment breaking the news it was an April Fool’s gag, she quickly deleted that comment and posted a gif of a famous dude intently eating popcorn in its place, watching others post outraged remarks.

The gag even fooled a former member of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors, who has lived in Westchase for more than 20 years. “I must tell you all that I was shocked and mad as hell to hear that the county’s contractor installed the pipe on such a major and critically important project backwards,” he wrote to CDD supervisors. “Are you kidding me!”

Yes, we were.

Others were, um, slightly less polite. One West Park Village resident wrote CDD Chair Jim Mills. “I just read the article in the April edition of WOW. Why has incompetence become the standard for workmanship around here? I haven't read or heard that the BONEHEADS that are responsible for this wasteful situation are going to be sued or at least penalized in some way. You D*** IDIOTS should not have access to any of our hard earned tax dollars if you hire CLOWNS LIKE THESE for public projects. I AM SOOOOOOO SICK OF THE INCOMPETENCE.”

Mills forwarded it to WOW’s publisher, “You want to handle this?”

After WOW’s publisher encouraged the resident to read the article’s last paragraph, the resident wrote back. “My wife and I read the editor’s note. She is laughing out loud at my e-mail and calling me an idiot. I fell for that April Fools joke - hook, line and sinker. Sorry about my strong response. YOU DEFINITELY GOT ME.”

Others also let us know they got fooled. Wrote Kate Francis, “We are getting ready to move from the San Francisco Bay Area to here and decided that Westchase is home of our future neighborhood,” she began.

“Today we met our Realtor in The Greens of Westchase and the guard at the gate gave us a copy of the WOW magazine. When we got back to our temporary residence, my husband read your article, Linebaugh Faces Construction Project Redo: Which Approach Do You Favor?

“He told me that after reading the article he was having second thoughts on purchasing a house in West Park/The Greens and maybe we need to really consider Highland Park instead.”

Kate’s husband then handed her the article to read. “I got to the end and agreed with my husband. Then he said, ‘Did you read the editor's note?’”

Kate concluded, “We both had a great laugh and the timing for us to read the article was perfect!”

Even Westchase veterans wrote in to let us know they enjoyed the annual tradition. Wrote Dave Wynne of the Vineyards, “The annual April Fools article is the funniest one yet. You had me laughing from the start.  But I about fell out of my chair over the ‘emotional support pigs.’ Great job this year.”

WOW thanks all the folks with a great sense of humor who admitted to being fooled.

And as a reward, you will be permitted to turn left and right into The Fords going forward.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Westchase Parks Get Additional Slide and Shade Structures

Residents who requested more shade in Baybridge and West Park Village’s parks and a slide at Glencliff Park will see those requests come to fruition in upcoming weeks.

At the May 3 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD), CDD Field Manager Doug Mays brought three proposals for park enhancements before supervisors. Mays stated that the items had been requested by a number of residents since the parks’ renovations.

Mays’ first request was for the addition of an eight-foot slide to the end of Glencliff Park’s climbing dragon structure. To retrofit the structure and add a rope ladder and the slide would come to cost of $24,000. “We’ve had a lot of requests from residents who go to that park,” he said.

Supervisors unanimously approved the work, 4-0. (Supervisor Barbara Griffith was absent.)

Mays addressed a CDD staff concern at the West Park Village tot playground. While that playground’s equipment is shaded, a portion of the playground’s bouncy surface is not. “Nobody told us it got that hot,” he said of the playground’s pour and play surface. Suggesting the board take action to keep the park visitors safe and comfortable, Mays pitched an additional shade canopy, consisting of four supports and a cover, for $37,000. Approval for West Park tot lot’s shade canopy passed 3-1 with Supervisor Greg Chesney opposed.

Supervisors then turned to Mays’ third request for a shade structure to be placed over the three spring-loaded rocking animals at Baybridge Park, an area of the park immediately identified as too hot immediately after its opening. Mays stated that the equipment would have to be moved a few feet for clearance for a single support structure for a canopy. Priced at $6,850, the structure again saw approval 3-1, with Chesney opposed. Chesney, a Florida native, stated he wasn’t convinced the need for the shade structures justified their expense.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Image courtesy of Dynamo.


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Westchase Artists Creating Street Chalk Art

On March 17 and 18 some of our artists got their hands dirty at the Bloom N Art N Chalk Fest in Safety Harbor.

This was their 10th Annual Chalk Festival, where artists from around the country created sidewalk art using chalk or pastels. Proceeds from the event went to benefit the Safety Harbor Regional Museum to fund local art projects and scholarships.

Vanessa Montenegro and Marilyn Chaulk, both Westchase Artists Society members, joined forces to replicate one of Vanessa's wildlife art pieces in the event. While both artists have been painting and using pastels for years, they had never participated in a street chalk festival before. They worked on the piece most of Saturday and early morning Sunday, with a bit of help from Talia Semaan, one of Vanessa's art students. Together they were able to accomplish their goal of finishing the art piece before noon on Sunday. Both artists enjoyed learning from the other artists who participated, getting their hands dirty with the chalk and working together on the project.

Student Art Show

We are happy to present the 2018 Vanessa’s Art Studio Adult Student Show at the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library from April 1 to May 31. The art show includes oil and acrylic paintings, drawings, watercolors, pastels and color pencils by a wonderful group of talented students. The themes are landscapes, ocean scenes, people, and animals. The opening reception was Sunday April 15. Stop in and see the impressive works of art by these amazing students before the exhibit ends on May 31.

The Westchase Artists Society meets monthly, typically on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Maureen B Gauzza Library on Countryway from 7-9 p.m. Artists of all kinds are welcome to join. Visit and follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on our activities and find out about meeting dates and times.

By Vanessa Montenegro and Diana Ranstrom


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Real Estate Round Up: March 2018


Sale Price


Sq. Ft




Sq. Ft.











9856 West Park Village Dr.









10409 Crimson Park Ln. #107









10312 Saville Rowe Ln.









10101 Bennington Dr.








Single Family

9606 Royce Dr.









10357 Lightner Bridge Dr.








Single Family

11821 Easthampton Dr.








Single Family

11801 Middlebury Dr.








Single Family

9715 Royce Dr.








Single Family

10602 Wild Meadow Way








Single Family

10208 Newington Pl.








Single Family

9601 Greenpointe Dr.








Single Family

10512 Brentford Dr.








Single Family

10621 Weybridge Dr.








Single Family

10017 New Parke Rd.








Single Family

10125 Belgrave Rd.








Single Family

10301 Welbeck Ct.








Single Family

10528 Greensprings Dr.








Single Family

12131 Clear Harbor Dr.








Single Family

Highland Park









11505 Fountainhead Dr.


















11626 Greensleeve Ave.








Single Family

West Hampton









12606 Stanwyck Cir.








Single Family

Westwood Lakes









14305 Sky Flower Ln.








Single Family

Windsor Place









11022 Windsor Place Cir.









Tree Tops









9523 Tree Tops Lake Rd.








Single Family

Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates


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WCA Violations: How Common Are They?

Ever wonder if you're being singled out for unfair treatment by the WCA's deed restriction enforcement team? Or if the WCA team is regularly overlooking rules violations in your neighborhood while focusing on you?

Click here the most recent list of outstanding and unresolved deed restriction violations notices, dated May 7. WOW has pulled resident names and home addresses from the list to protect their privacy. But you can see the violations currently being tracked in your neighborhood.

While you may feel singled out, the data suggests otherwise. In one recent 18-month look at Westchase deed restriction violations, we discovered that over the course of a year and a half, four out of every five Westchase homes received at least one violation letter.

How typical are violation notices given in Westchase? In January of 2018, 433 violation letters were mailed to Westchase's roughly 3,500 homes. February saw 579 letters. March brought 398 letters. April's total, due to a staff member's vacation, fell to 90.

The open violations list is far longer than those numbers listed above. Why? The violations list includes all outstanding, unresolved violations the WCA is currently tracking. For violations such as garbage cans, street-parked vehicles or basketball hoops, the violation remains on the list for roughly three months. If it does not reoccur, it falls off the list.

One important rule to remember? When you do receive a violation letter, always communicate quickly with the management staff about your plans for resolving the violation.


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Westchase Elementary Principal Erik Holley to Bid Farewell

Westchase Elementary will be led by a new chief wizard when the new school year begins in August 2018.

On May 4, WOW learned that Holley would be departing his position at Westchase Elementary and taking persona leave. It was not clear when that leave would officially begin. On May 4 Holley was still working on campus in the leadership role.

Harrison Peters, Chief of Schools for the Hillsborough County School District confirmed his departure. “He will be transferring out as principal and we’ve already advertised the position,” he said. “We’ll be looking to appoint a new principal in the coming weeks.”

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. Staff will add to this report as more information becomes available.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Association Manager Releases May 5 Big Ticket List

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) manager’s office has released the Big Ticket List for the Westchase Spring Garage Sale on Saturday, May 5.

The Westchase Garage Sale runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Click here to view the list.

In order to improve traffic flow and access by emergency vehicles, the Westchase Community Association (WCA) asks that residents not sell food items or collect outside items for sale as part of a large, charitable event.

All unsold items can be donated to Goodwill, which has trailers at the Primrose School, 12051 Whitmarsh Lane, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

For answers to questions about the sale, please call the Westchase association manager at 926-6404. For more information about the Goodwill donation locations, please call (888) 279-1988.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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CDD Passes Draft Budget; Inches Closer to Golf Course Purchase Contract

The May 1 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw supervisors pass an initial draft budget for next year, move a step closer to a purchase contract for the Westchase Golf Course and begin maintenance of a large lake they recently acquired.

The large lake, a former borrow pit, sits between the Westchase subdivisions of Stonebridge and Sturbridge and a new M/I Homes townhome community accessed off Sheldon Road but visible behind Davidsen Middle School. In recent years the lake overran its banks, flooding Stonebridge yards. Stonebridge residents have also expressed concerns about trespassing along its banks, over which their back yards look. In April the CDD agreed to take ownership of the lake from M/I Homes to better maintain it, control its banks and potential flooding, and limit boating and fishing to protect homeowners’ privacy.

CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart of Stantec recommended the board take two steps. Supervisors unanimously supported a motion, 4-0 (Chair Jim Mills was absent.), to request a change in the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFMD) permit, which delineates maintenance and reporting responsibilities for the lake, from M/I Homes to the district. As part of a new development (M/I Homes), SWFMD requires regular reports on its condition for several years.

Supervisors also passed a motion, 4-0, to accept a $4,800 bid from A&B Aquatics, their pond management company, to bring the 38-acre lake up to Westchase standards by treating it for hydrilla and other invasive aquatics.

Staff also proposed supervisors pass a motion authorizing an increase of $1,500 monthly to A&B’s contract for continued maintenance but supervisors asked staff to first clarify with the company whether the price included the completion of the required SWFMD reports.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she had incorporated supervisor feedback from the April 30 district workshop into the Westchase Golf Course purchase contract. She stated she would send the completed draft to the seller by noon on May 2. If accepted, CDD Chair Jim Mills could sign it afterwards.

CDD Supervisor Brian Ross, however, emphasized that his vote to ultimately proceed with the purchase would hinge on the clarification of what assets were involved in the sale. Further, Ross stated that he would not vote for the purchase if any equipment necessary for the course’s smooth, continued operation was not available to the district immediately upon the property’s transfer. Ross emphasized that he believed it would be a bad outcome if the district, lacking equipment, had to shut down the course temporarily before reopening it. Ross stated that any shutdown, however temporary, would damage the course in a competitive market and potentially expose the district to claims from any potential memberships.

Ross said it was important to clarify ownership or leases for such things as golf carts, kitchen equipment and even the club house’s phone equipment.

“It is very common to purchase it without other stuff and you purchase it yourself,” cautioned Supervisor Greg Chesney, who has overseen negotiations.

“I would probably not support the transaction if it did not come with all that stuff,” responded Ross, who suggested he thought most of it would be transferred under the $4 million purchase price. “We wouldn’t be in the position to perform. That would be a bad outcome for me, to purchase a million dollars in [additional] equipment to run the golf course.”

Ross added that he wanted to see a copy of the lease for the current golf course management company and asked staff to begin Phase I of the environmental studies to determine if all the golf course’s ponds had any significant erosion or water quality issues.

Asked by Harbor Links resident Reggie Gillis about the due diligence report compiled by Greg Christovich, Chesney stated he had not yet received it.

When Harbor Links resident Ward Farley inquired about what the district’s plans were for managing the golf course, Chesney responded that that was a discussion for after the sales contract, once they had Christovich’s recommendations in hand.

Ross concluded with praise for Chesney’s work guiding the process. “I think Greg has done a fantastic job in protecting the interests of the district,” he said. Ross emphasized that he agreed that the focus had to be on clarifying assets involved in the potential purchase now and dealing with management questions during the six months of due diligence that will follow the signed purchase contract.

Ross also added that he hoped District Manager Andy Mendenhall of Inframark would be more proactively engaged by offering advice to the board about the course and its management as the board moves forward. Mendenhall acknowledged that districts Inframark manages already own and maintain golf courses.

June's WOW will run more information about the golf course purchase and the finalized purchase contract.

Supervisors then passed their draft budget that provides a spending outline that will be honed between now and the budget’s approval at the district's Aug. 7 public budget hearing. The budget, which represents the highest possible assessments that will be levied on homeowners and commercial properties in the district, is required for Hillsborough County’s Truth in Millage (TRIM) Notices that are mailed in the fall. Once submitted, supervisors cannot raise asssessments indicated in the approved TRIM budget but they have, in the past, further reduced them.

The approved budget shows next year’s operations and maintenance assessments for homeowners showing no change over this year's. It does, however, include a 1.88 percent increase for commercial properties. When Chesney inquired by commercial properties were seeing an increase while residents were not, staff stated that irrigation repairs, budgeted at $25,000 this year, were projected to run $46,000 by year’s end and that line item had to be increased. Under the district’s assessment methodology, commercial properties pay a higher portion of maintenance costs for the community’s rights of way given that they generate more traffic through the community than a typical home. Further, increases to the residents for rights of way, were offset by reductions in other parts of the budget – such as parks – for which commercial properties are not assessed.

[Note: The above paragraph differs from the originally posted news article about the meeting. The initial version of the article, which appeared here briefly, incorrectly referenced an earlier draft of the TRIM budget distributed with the board packet before the meeting. That draft showed a small decrease in homeowner assessments. CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney reached out to WOW after its posting, however, and informed WOW staff that the draft supervisors approved at the meeting, however, showed homeowners' assessments remaining flat. WOW regrets the short-lived error.]

Citing the possible purchase of the golf course, significant planned landscaping improvements and the small possibility that the current landscape contract could see rebidding (which would be expected to produce an increase), WOW’s reporter asked if they could tackle all projects and still slightly decrease homeowner assessments.

“I’m comfortable with it,” said Chesney, who works closest with staff on producing the draft budget. “We have a fair amount of working capital,” he added.

District Manager Mendenhall stated that the district had $1.2 million in unassigned cash and at least that much in additional assigned reserves. A portion of that, he added, could be safely tapped should the district experience any deficit without harming its financial standing.

Supervisors unanimously accepted the budget and set the Aug. 7 budget hearing, 4-0.

The meeting closed with a number of supervisors’ inquiries and requests. Supervisor Brian Ross inquired about the recently planted bushes on Linebaugh Avenue adjacent to the golf course. “I’ve already had people mention to me they’re missing seeing the golf course,” said Ross.

Field Manager Doug Mays stated the hedges were planted at the request of Greencrest residents whose homes are on the other side of the course. Mays said the hedges were funded by the residents, who wanted them to screen their homes from the lights of the health clinic and road noise along Linebaugh. When Ross asked Mays if the residents knew that a new owner of the course could simply go in and decide to remove them, Mays stated the residents were aware there was no guarantee the hedges would remain.

Supervisor Barbara Griffith closed with a number of observations and requests. Stating she did not like the look of the large boulders used to keep vehicles from jumping the curb and damaging sod and landscaping along Montague Street and at the entrances to West Park’s alleys, she asked what alternatives existed. Field Supervisor Mays stated that bollards (pipes filled with concrete) could be used or the sod and landscaping could be pulled out and replaced by river rock. When Griffith described the boulders as an eyesore, Mays added, “I disagree. I think they’re aesthetically pleasing.” Mays added the boulders were added by West Park residents rather than the district.

“I like boulders because they’re cheap,” quipped Chesney.

With Supervisor Ross observing that the boulders at West Park’s alleys seemed to be “doing the trick,” the topic was dropped.

Griffith also inquired about the last time the district's management contract with Inframark had been bid out. Chesney responded it had been some time, but the contract can be bid out at any time supervisors want as it runs month-to-month. It currently renews each year with a CPI increase.

When Griffith inquired whether the board wanted to establish awards that would recognize good neighbors, the board consensus appeared to be that that role was more appropriate for the Westchase Community Association (WCA).

While a representative from Davey, the district’s landscaping company, was scheduled to appear before the board at 5 p.m. to discuss the possible extension of its contract for an additional year at no increase, supervisors adjourned at 5:21 p.m. without Davey’s staff appearing.

In other actions:

CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart stated that she and staff were looking at further erosion along pond banks in Wycliff and Bennington that were repaired last year with geo-tubing. She stated she would follow up with the company that did the work for possible warranty repairs.

CDD staff brought a proposal to increase the Greens’ neighborhood’s payments to its security guards, stating they had not had a pay increase in eight years. The proposal to increase their pay by $2 per hour to ensure they are retained, however, was put on hold when CDD Attorney Erin McCormick located an increase, passed in 2014. Supervisors asked staff to inquire with Securitas, the security company, why that requested increase, described as a pay increase, had not been passed on to the security guards.

At the request of the Greens Voting Member (VM), supervisors gave informal approval (without a motion) to staff purchasing and installing three additional speed limit signs for Gretna Green Drive. Each costing $750, the signs will be paid for out of the Greens neighborhood fund. Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated the signs were intended to address what he described as severe speeding issues on the road.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted May 2, 2018


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Village Voices: The Vineyards

Hello, neighbors! Thank you to our party planners and attendees of the annual Easter Egg Hunt. We had great neighborhood participation and a surprise visit from Peter Rabbit himself.

The social event prior to April's board meeting was very successful. It was great to see so many homeowners at the meeting.

The Landscaping Committee has recommended a vendor for oak tree pruning/removal and the board approved the recommendation. The next step is to schedule time for the vendor to be on property to start the work. We will be emailing/posting updates.

The board approved verbiage to our painting palette guidelines which allows for a maximum of four colors on home. The verbiage has to be posted in the WOW for a couple of months and will then needs to be approved by the Voting Members. The process is lengthy but we feel it is worth the effort.

We continue to work with Davey regarding irrigation and landscaping issues. If you see a broken sprinkler head, please take a picture and email to with the location/address of the broken head. We appreciate our residents being our eyes and ears to help with such matters.

May 5 is the community garage sale, which means it is time to clean out the garage so you can park the car in it and make some money selling things you haven't used in years.

By Lynn Adamson, President of The Vineyards HOA


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Public Notice of Glencliff Guideline Change

At their May 8 and June 12 meetings, Westchase Voting Members will consider an amendment to rules governing Glencliff’s driveways and sidewalks.

The potential change only affects Glencliff.

The current Glencliff guideline states, "All residential units shall have standard poured-in-place concrete only in driveways and sidewalks. Pavers and decorative concrete are not permitted other than that which has been previously installed. Painting or staining of driveways and sidewalks is not allowed."

The proposed guideline would replace that wording with the following:

“All residential units shall have standard poured-in-place concrete in sidewalks. Pavers, natural stone or cobblestone may be placed over the sidewalk section of any driveway only if prior written approval is granted from Hillsborough County and copy of said approval is submitted with the driveway modification application.

“Driveways and walkways [the “walkway” connects the driveway to the front porch] must be constructed of poured-in-place concrete, natural stone, cobblestone, pavers or a combination of these materials. Natural concrete color must be used; no added stain or color is allowed. Decorative concrete is not permitted other than that which has been previously installed. Stamped concrete is not allowed.

“Painting or staining of driveways, walkways and sidewalks is not allowed. However, a clear sealant in a no-gloss, matte or satin finish shall be permitted with modification approval for driveways and walkways only.

“All paver colors, cobblestones and natural stone must be natural, soft muted earth tones and neutral shades consisting of beige, brown, taupe, tan or gray. Any pavers, cobblestone or natural stone added to a lot must match existing pavers, cobblestone or natural stone. No asphalt, shell, mulch or stone driveway, sidewalk or walkway is permitted.”

Glencliff has obtained 42 homeowner votes in favor of the guideline out of 48 units total. Now the proposed guideline change has to be considered and approved by a supermajority of VMs at two meetings. The first is scheduled for May 8.

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA


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Code Ninjas Open House Set for May 5

Local resident Timothy Francis is hoping his new business will encourage and inspire the next generation of technology experts.

Code Ninjas will open its doors this month to children who are interested in learning to code. They’ll have an open house on Saturday, May 5. After that date, interested parents and kids can call to schedule a tour.

The new business located on Sheldon Road will offer coding classes and camps geared towards kids ages 7 to 14. “Everyone starts with the same basics,” said Francis. “But we have games geared towards the child’s age and interests.”

Code Ninjas will be open after school during the week. “With our drop-in program, kids can come by anytime during the week up to two times for hour-long sessions,” Francis said. “The program is self-paced but there are facilitators there to help if a student gets stuck and to check that they have done everything correctly before they go on to the next level.”
Francis said students could go from limited to no knowledge of coding to completely building their own game or product that can be posted on the app store.

He added that many of the Code Senseis (trainers) are area high school students and that they will receive benefits in addition to a paycheck. “Our Code Senseis not only train our younger Ninjas, but they also earn their own coding and training certifications from us that enhance their college applications and future job resumes. We want to help the young women and young men in the community as they go out into the world.”

Over the summer, Code Ninjas is offering weeklong camps in basic coding, beginning JavaScript, Minecraft create, coding drones and Roblox create. The camps will have a maximum of 20 campers each session and are available as half or full day camps.

Francis came across the franchise while looking for a business that would allow him to spend more time with his sons. “My boys are 8 and 10. I was looking for a business that made sense for them. They are into coding and technology and I wanted something we could do together.”

The company was originally developed by software developers in Houston, Texas, and the curriculum is developed by them. “I’ve seen how coding education improves lives,” said developer David Graham. “Every child should have the opportunity to learn to code and have a great time doing it. That’s what Code Ninjas is all about.”

By Marcy Sanford


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Hurricane Prep Program May 8

Do you really know what to do before, during and after a hurricane?

The Westchase Government Affairs Committee (GAC) is sponsoring a Hurricane Preparedness Program at the May 8, 2018 Voting Members (VMs) Meeting. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard.

“I was in New Tampa with friends to ride out the storm,” said GAC Chair Rick Goldstein, “and that Saturday that lone spaghetti line of a possible but not probable Irma track became a reality. We joined 1,500 other people at a local shelter and I remember all of the things I should have done to prepare for a catastrophe and didn’t do. I vowed that would never happen again. I would be better prepared.”

To help the Westchase community be better prepared, Ted Williams, the Senior Program Coordinator of Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management will discuss how to be better prepared for an approaching storm and how to be better prepared for evacuating to a shelter.

“Shelters are of particular interest to me, because having been in one and seeing the problems and, in my opinion, lack of preparedness on the part of shelter management, I want to make sure our community is prepared for what to expect when sheltering,” Goldstein added. “Going to a shelter is not what you might think it is.”

Because of the importance of this program, residents and non-residents are invited.

A special thanks to Hillsborough County for their continued help and support for our community.

By Rick Goldstein, GAC Chair

Editor’s note: June’s WOW will also contain the Westchase map for hurricane storm surge areas to help residents understand their evacuation zones.


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The Oak Tree: Our Beautiful Nemesis

Our live oak trees provide beautiful, leafy green canopies along our streets.

It’s comforting shade. It’s oh-so-Southern. And to many residents, it’s priceless. But there’s definitely a cost.

Back on the drawing board, when Westchase’s and surrounding neighborhoods’ development began in the early 1990s, such beauty was perceived as a huge selling point. Who wouldn’t love a look reminiscent of Savannah, Charleston or New Orleans? For the true locals, it was a nod to Seminole Heights or South Tampa’s Old Hyde Park.

Nearly a quarter-century later, our oak-tree investment sometimes translates into minor annoyances or major headaches caused by the large root systems. This ranges from pushed-up sidewalks, damaged driveways and plumbing issues to an avalanche of pollen and wilting, sun-starved patches of grass.

“It was a really poor decision to use for a street tree,’’ Westchase Community Development District (CDD) Field Manager Doug Mays said. “These are beautiful trees, probably my favorite. But it was still a poor long-term decision for this community.’’

“These oak trees have been around for 400 million years — before dinosaurs and certainly before homeowners associations,’’ said Rob Northrop, an urban forester with the University of Florida’s extension service in Hillsborough County. “You can’t predict their root systems. So Westchase and other communities are going to plant them along the street in the small easements, where they will inevitably interfere with sidewalks, driveways, plumbing and irrigation systems? Really?’’


Tell it to Mona Henson, a resident of The Bridges, whose driveway has been drastically elevated by the slithering root system of her home’s oak tree, which was planted near the flower bed by a previous owner. Before long, Henson said, her husband’s truck will not be able to fit in the garage without scraping its roof.

“I like trees,’’ Henson said. “But this is becoming a nightmare.’’

Tell it to Susan Rose, president of the Westwood Lakes HOA, which considered installing a root barrier so the rampant oak-tree growth wouldn’t interfere with sidewalks along the Westwood Lakes Boulevard walking path. It was cost prohibitive and there were no guarantees.

“I was riding my bike the other day and thought, ‘Wow, this is really uneven (in assorted places),’’ Rose said. “We have kids riding their bikes or walking to Farnell (Middle School) or Mary Bryant (Elementary School) along this path. This could be a safety hazard. And now with the school cutbacks, they can’t get bus service (to school). You are caught in the middle.

“I think it cuts both ways. People like the look. But when it infringes on your property and life, that becomes the priority.’’

Les Young, a resident of The Fords, once had concerns in his neighborhood over uneven sidewalks, but used a professional service to help level things. His children are now in college and high school, so everyday concerns have been abated, although he remembers a time when “kids were wiping out all the time around here.’’

When Mae Mastrorio and her husband Tony moved into The Fords, they tried to be proactive. Concerned about uneven sidewalks in front of their home, they called the county.

“There were other kids in the neighborhood, but that was back before we had a child,’’ Mastrorio said. “He was just a gleam in our eye, but we were looking ahead.’’

Lincoln Mastrorio is now 2 – and trying to navigate that uneven sidewalk during playtime.
“We called the county back and they said our request is still in there,’’ Mastrorio said. “I do like the shade of our oak tree, but not at the cost of an unsafe sidewalk or other damage.’’

Around The Shires, one of Westchase’s older neighborhoods, streets have mature oak-tree canopies nearly everywhere. During a recent 3-mile walk around the community’s perimeter, from the easternmost point back to Countryway Boulevard, there were nearly 80 sidewalk panels that were cracked or pushed up. In mid-April, though, significant sidewalk repair was done by Hillsborough County in The Shires, following similar work in The Bridges.

Mays said there also are big problems with Cypress trees in The Greens, which has CDD-owned sidewalks.

Mays said Cypress trees are generally used for conservation along a shoreline to prevent erosion. They develop “knees’’ or small roots that grow in knobs and push above the ground, sometimes by the dozen.

“These are trees meant for a backyard, along waterways,’’ Mays said. “But developers in The Greens, for whatever reason, saw them as a street tree. They are the worst choice to plant as a street tree. And we’ve got 160 of them in The Greens.

“Even if you have a nice front yard, sometimes little Joey and little Susie can’t play there because of all those Cypress knees. It’s another huge issue.’’

Oak trees, though, remain a signature feature of Westchase and neighborhoods like Westwood Lakes. They provide shade, scenery and a beautiful backdrop for neighborhood gatherings.

They also create problems.

“I wouldn’t consider this a major problem – yet – but it’s going to be an ongoing issue,’’ Mays said. “This isn’t going away. Trees don’t grow exactly the same. You might not have a problem and the guy next door has all kinds of problems. It might be the same nursery, the same seeds, but a completely different situation. Trees are not an exact science.’’

So considering the logic, why do oak trees continue to have attraction for neighborhoods?

“You really can’t beat the qualities of live oaks,’’ Northrop said. “They are resistant to hurricanes and strong winds. They are incredibly free of insect and disease problems. They are as good for the wildlife as any tree. They are economically suited to the nursery industry. They are native trees and easy to plant.

“These are trees that grow in girth and length. When they grow in girth, they’re powerful enough to take down mountains. We all know that, but we don’t connect with what we’re doing in the neighborhood. We’re setting ourselves up for problems. These are huge trees and it’s not logical to put them in small places.’’

By Joey Johnston


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WOW’s 2011 Scholars: Where Are They?

June’s WOW will announce the 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholars. This month we reached out to our 2011 scholars to see what they’ve accomplished.

Honored in 2011 for their commitment to academics and community service were Emily Caruso of Keswick Forest, Daniel Johnson, Jr. of The Shires, Alexander Lee Misarti of Radcliffe, Jacob Morello of Stamford, Michael Perkins of Brentford and siblings Erin and Stephen Seligsohn of Radcliffe.

Now calling Illinois home, Erin Seligsohn attended Georgia Tech, where she finished her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with highest honors in December of 2014 and a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering in May of 2016. “While I was in school, I did research, studied abroad in France, played percussion in the marching band and various other musical ensembles, and was in a music service organization that served the Tech band programs as well as the community,” she stated. “After graduating, I moved to Peoria, IL to work for Caterpillar as an engineer in engine simulation.”

Steven took an initially similar route. “I attended the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) from 2011-2015 and graduated with Highest Honors in Computer Engineering (BS),” he stated. “Since graduating, I have been working as a technology consultant for Deloitte Consulting.”

Steven still makes time for continued community service. “In college, I co-founded a pro bono consulting organization (Epic Intentions) that serves non-profit organizations in the Atlanta community. I am also involved with similar community consulting efforts at Deloitte.”

Their parents still call Radcliffe home.

Michael Perkins attended University of Florida and graduated with a major in Finance and minor in Entrepreneurship. “After I graduated, I moved to Jacksonville, FL to start my career in Corporate Trust banking, where I currently work as a Section Manager,” he stated. “I have continued my community involvement that I started in high school.”

Perkins said he was heavily involved in UF’s Dance Marathon, which raised between $1 million to $2.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network. More recently? “I co-founded and co-lead the Business Environmental Sustainability group, where employees from my company work to decrease our carbon footprint. I also joined the Women’s Initiative Network in support of equality in the workplace as well as in our communities,” he stated.

Perkins’ parents continue to reside in The Fords.

Jacob Morello graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in the Phi Beta Kappa honors society. He was designated as a Harvard College Scholar for having a GPA in the top 10 percent of his class. “I was primarily involved with political organizations there, including the Harvard Institute of Politics, where I served as the Vice President for a year. I was also very involved with Harvard Model Congress, a volunteer organization that seeks to teach high school students about American government by giving them the chance to play the role of a Congressman or Senator,” Morello stated.

Now working for Oliver Wyman, a Washington, D.C consulting firm, he’s focused on aviation and leisure projects, primarily helping airlines with strategy projects, which has enabled him to travel extensively. He will pursue an MBA in the fall of 2019 with a focus on management.

Morello’s parents still reside in The Fords.

Daniel Johnson graduated A.B. cum laude from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs with a major in Public Policy and minors in finance and Latin American Studies. “At Princeton, I was a senator at-large on the student government, a senior editor of the university newspaper, and a peer academic advisor,” he stated.

Over the summers, Daniel interned for the Executive Office of the President of the United States and well as for local U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis. Following graduation, Daniel worked as an Investment Associate at Bridgewater, a hedge fund in Westport, Connecticut. “I am currently a second-year student at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Harvard, I am the Articles Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy and the Captain of the Vis Moot Court Team,” he said.

Johnson will be working for Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York this summer. His parents continue to live in The Shires.

Alex Misarti graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in Finance. “Two weeks after graduating, I joined an independent financial planning practice that is located, ironically, in Westchase,” he stated. He spent the next few years learning the business and earning various licenses as part of his work with Mark Scheidter & Associates. He credits Scheider, a Harbor Links resident, with being an invaluable mentor.

“Personally, my next professional goal/milestone will be to earn my Certified Financial Planner credential, CFP,” he stated. “I hope to begin my studies in the next year or so, as it requires five years of experience to sit for the exam.”

At FSU Misarti stayed active in community service projects through his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. “These included hosting a large Christmas celebration for the local Boys and Girls club, equipped with a Santa Claus and presents for all the children,” he said. “Others included Dance Marathon benefitting the Children's Miracle Network and building houses to support Habitat for Humanity.”

Misarti resides in Channelside and his parents still call Radcliffe home.

Emily Caruso attended Florida State University for undergraduate and graduate school. She earned a B.S. in Family and Child Sciences and a master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis. “I just graduated in May,” she stated.

As for service, she’s stayed busy. “I was in Americorp College Mentoring and Success Program, where I completed a lot of hours. I worked with kids, mainly in middle school. That’s what landed me in the graduate program I was in. A lot of the kids had behavior disorders and that’s what I do now. I work with kids with behavioral issues.”

She added, “I moved to Atlanta, Georgia and I work for Integrated Behavioral Solutions, a behavior analysis company. I do home therapy as well as therapy in the clinic. I work one-to-one with different clients.”

Emily’s dad still lives in Keswick Forest.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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From the President, April 2018: A Few Friendly Reminders and Updates as We Head into Summer

I need to comment on something I’ve commented on before, and that is the need for Westchasers to respect the authority of our lifeguards at our swim and tennis facilities.

A complaint I frequently receive from our staff members is that they experience a fair amount of resistance and rudeness from the members of this association. 

As young as they are, our staff members are trained professionals. They are empowered to communicate and enforce board polices at our facilities – policies that are designed to promote the safety, wellness, security and enjoyment of our association members.

So, if you are asked not to change your baby on the picnic tables (where people eat their meals), or to keep your non-swimmer toddler within arm’s reach (for obvious reasons) or even to kindly present identification before entering our facility (the most successful component of our security protocols), know that there is a reason and a board policy behind that request. There is no need to express anger, resistance or defiance towards our young people. They need, deserve and expect your respect and your cooperation. Thank you in advance for helping our staff safeguard our facilities.

At our last board meeting we created a new paint palette committee. The goal of this committee is to review and update the Westchase-wide master exterior paint palette. If you have a color or combination of colors you would like to see considered, please email your request to our property manager’s office at Your request will be considered for inclusion. But let me be clear: Just because you made a color request doesn’t mean that it will make the final cut. It means that it will be considered by the committee and then by the voting members for inclusion in the master paint color palette. Many colors succeed in making it onto the palette; others do not.

Another end of the school year is upon us. If you are looking for terrific summer camp opportunities for your students, look no further than our own swim and tennis facilities. We have a lineup of fun and rewarding summer camps for the kids. And don’t forget that we have activities for the adults, too. So please come down and check us out!

Last, speeding in the community seems to have ticked up in recent weeks. It must be the winter thaw that kicked if off. Your neighbors and I would really appreciate it if we all could be more considerate and regulate our speed while on the roads. Remember, injuries and damage to personal property can be easily avoided by just slowing down a little bit.  And please watch out for the ducks crossing the street on Gretna Green! They are fat, happy and slow. Thanks for reading. You can always reach me via email at I typically respond within a few hours or, at most, the next day.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President


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Trees, Electoral Races and Storm Preparation

As the famous poem by Joyce Kilmer begins, “I think that I will never see/A poem lovely as a tree.”

With the exception of our nearby beaches, there are few things as iconic, majestic and beautiful as the live oaks in our yards.

There are no trees in the state that are as large, as impressive or as ancient.

Yet there are also few growing things that cause homeowners more headaches.

Live oak roots raise and crack sidewalks and driveways, creating tripping hazards. Their roots slide into cracks in PVC sewer pipes, splitting them wide and snagging debris, backing up sinks and bathrooms in the house.

While they offer wonderful shade from the summer sun, the biggest trees also make maintaining lawns beneath them a major challenge.

It’s clear that developers who planted the beautiful trees in the narrow spaces between roads and sidewalks were aiming for the beautiful tree canopies found in places like Savannah, Georgia and even Tampa’s Hyde Park. Yet they were also not taking the long view on the trees’ potential impact. As anyone who lives in our recently repaved subdivisions can attest, the county just spent tens of thousands of dollars on fixing and re-pouring sidewalks adjacent to trees.

In this month’s cover feature, WOW writer Joey Johnston takes a look at the oaks – as well as arborists’ views on their location. Most important, he offers some coping strategies to help you maintain your homes and yards while also living with our oaks.

Last month in this space I promised WOW would introduce some local candidates who are running for office. In addition to letting you know of some Westchase-specific races that will be on the upcoming General Election ballot, this month we also introduce Westchase residents who are running for county and state offices. Greens resident Todd Marks has announced that he’s running for the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners; it’s just not yet clear when that election will be occurring. Meanwhile, Bridges resident Heather Kenyon Stahl will be running to represent the Westchase area in the Florida House of Representatives. Together they represent the diversity of political opinion found within Westchase. Check out them and the folks they are running against on pages 24 and 26. 

I close with an invitation. On May 8 during the Westchase Voting Members meeting, Ted Williams, the Senior Program Coordinator of Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management, will discuss proper storm preparations as a guest of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC). If you’re a new arrival to Tampa or veteran, you’ll still learn something new. Drop by at 7 p.m. at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard and help keep your family safe this summer and fall.

Please remember that non-profit WOW receives no financial support from the WCA or CDD. We rely solely on our generous advertisers to deliver WOW free to you and fulfill our charitable commitments. Please help keep quality local journalism alive by telling our advertisers you found them in WOW.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Westchase Mom and Businesswoman Launches Bid for State House

This November will see a historic number of women running for state and national office.

Among them is a mother of four who lives in The Bridges.

Heather Kenyon Stahl is running for the District 64 seat currently held by James Grant (Rep.). That seat represents Oldsmar, East Lake, Safety Harbor, Westchase, Odessa, Keystone, Cheval, Northdale, Citrus Park (north of Gunn Highway) and Carrollwood (west of Dale Mabry Highway). She’s running on the Democratic side.

“I am running because I have had it with the dysfunction in Tallahassee,” Stahl told WOW. “I want District 64 to be a place that lures companies with higher wage jobs. In order to do that, we have to improve transportation infrastructure, invest in our education system, and offer good healthcare to all our citizens.”

Stahl is an executive at Miller Heiman Group, which does sales training consulting. Prior to that she worked for Apple and the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, which she helped found. “I helped start it and helped grow it to one of the largest technology organizations in the Southeast and was its CEO for three years.”

Stahl added, “For the past decade, I have been leading the effort to bring more tech business to Tampa. As the former CEO of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, I was a tireless recruiter of start-ups, talent, and technology companies moving in the area.”

A graduate of University of Florida, Stahl moved with her family to Florida as a high schooler. “I was the first graduating class of East Lake High School,” she said.

She’s lived in Westchase 10 years. Her husband, Craig, and she share four children, Tyler, Sarah, Kristin, and Hunter. Tyler and Sarah have attended Westchase’s public schools.

“While raising four children, I have seen first-hand what is not working in our schools,” she said. “I am dedicated to preparing Florida's kids for a technology advanced marketplace upon graduation.”

More recently, the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left a sharp impression on Stahl. “Every single one of the mass shootings has a big impact on me, but Parkland particularly so,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to get that phone call.”

Stahl attended the March 24 March for Life and credited Parkland students for keeping the issue on the front burner. “People are so upset about the NRA and how it’s coopted our legislative process. We were able to make some minor changes in the last legislative session but certainly not enough.”

If elected, Stahl said she’d work to adopt universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and support science-based gun studies that, until recently, federal law forbid the government from sponsoring or undertaking.  

“Our community deserves better,” said Stahl.

Barring another Democrat filing to run in the coming weeks, Stahl will face the winner of August’s Republican primary between incumbent James Grant and his opponent, Terry Power. Also in that race will be independent, Andy Warrener, a freelance journalist and carpenter and married father of two. Warrener, who has lived in District 64 most of his life, touts environmental protection, lower state corporate taxes, safer schools, restrictions on firearms, promoting solar energy, raising the state’s minimum wage to $10/hour, protecting home rule rights of counties and cities, and correcting what he calls the legislature's recent tilt toward private and charter schools.

On the Republican side, Power is running on a platform of lower taxes and smaller government. The founder and CEO of American Pension Services, Inc., Power has worked as an investment advisor and retirement plan wholesaler. Touting himself as a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and opponent to gun-free zones, Power also has called for reforms of family court laws, a position that stems, according to his website, from his own experience with divorce, and strict enforcement of Florida term limits, which he has accused Grant of sidestepping through loopholes. He touts his support for ensuring first responders have the tools and benefits they deserve and calls for safeguarding Florida’s beaches and natural resources. Charging Grant with corruption and personally benefitting from his House seat, Power has committed to donating his House salary, if elected, to local charities.

Grant, the son of former Florida Senator John Grant, is a lawyer and self-described small businessman. Unmarried, Grant touts himself as a pro-business, small government conservative.  While his website touts no specific policies or positions he supports, Grant prominently lists endorsements from the National Rifle Association (NRA), Florida Right to Life PAC, Tampa Builders Association, Associated Builders and Contractors and others. WOW invited Grant to offer his top three policy positions for the campaign and respond to Power’s charges, but he did not respond.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Linebaugh Avenue Median Crossover to Close at Cavendish Drive and Colonial Garden Lane

Beginning Monday, April 23, 2018, the Westchase median crossover on Linebaugh Avenue located at Cavendish Drive (West Park Village) and Colonial Garden Lane (The Vineyards) will be closed. Crews will be working to layout, assemble and install a pipeline segment under the Linebaugh Avenue median. This closure is expected to remain in effect through June 2018. This work was originally scheduled to begin in June, but must be done now, in advance of construction in the Linebaugh Avenue/Sheldon Road intersection.

Motorists traveling west on Linebaugh Avenue will need to make a U-turn at the median cut at Westchase Elementary/Fifth-Third Bank to access Cavendish Drive and the West Park Village neighborhood. Motorists traveling east on Linebaugh Avenue will need to make a U-turn at Sheldon Road to access Colonial Garden Lane and The Vineyards community. All through lanes are expected to remain open during the peak morning and evening commutes. During non-peak hours from 9 am to 4 pm, the inside through lanes (median side) between Cavendish Drive and Montague Street will be closed and merged with the outer through lanes which may increase travel times. Motorists are advised to exercise caution when traveling through the area.

Pipeline installation is part of the first phase of a Hillsborough County Public Utilities project to retire and remove the aging River Oaks Wastewater Treatment Plant located at the corner of Sheldon Road and Waters Avenue. Additional information about the project is available at Questions about the project may be directed to Citizen Engagement at (813) 272-5275. Para información, llame al (813) 272-5275. For Hearing/Voice impaired please call 711.

By Hillsborough County Staff


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Wizards Count Down to End of School Year

The countdown to summer is on, and that means this is the last month in elementary school for our fifth graders. They are rockin’ their way to middle school, and there are many fun activities planned for them this month.

The field trip to Busch Gardens is on May 9, and they will help to Feed Tampa Bay the following week with their service project. Then they will enjoy a PTA sponsored breakfast during the yearbook signing on May 22. The year wraps up with their banquet on May 24 and awards on May 25. Next year these Wizards will head off to 22 different schools, and we want to wish them all well on their adventures in middle school!

Thank you to the following restaurants who are donating food for the fifth grade banquet: Maggiano’s, Carrabba’s, Papa John’s, Olive Garden, Holy Hog BBQ, Nutrition Smart, PDQ, McDivot’s, Enzo’s, Dairy Queen and Marco’s. Thank you as well to the following businesses who donated money toward the banquet: Brighton Learning, Beyond Billing, Dawson Dance, Kids R Kids, Publix, Cub Scout Pack 46, HealthMap Solutions and Painting With a Twist – Westchase. Your generosity helps to make this event so special and memorable for our kids!

On Thursday, May 3, McDonald’s will host another Spirit Night for us from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Twenty percent of the proceeds will be donated back to our school.

We want to wish good luck to both of our Robotics teams. Mrs. Barrett’s team (Audrey P, Alexis H, Zack K, Gillian F, Colin S, Lizandro A, Yamaira O, and Josefina F) will compete in the WeDo Spontaneous challenge and Digital Portfolio challenge on May 10. Mrs. Brown’s team (Jago S, Lorelei P, Ethan W, Isabella A, Webster H, Austin B, Alex K & Noah O) will also compete in those challenges as well as the NXT challenge. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be given for each challenge, and the school that wins overall will receive trophies. Good luck, Wizards!

Back in February, our students participated in the American Heart Association’s nationwide fundraiser, Jump Rope For Heart. During PE classes, our first through fifth graders learned the importance of heart-healthy habits and learned that using jumping skills as physical activity can be a lot of fun and that raising funds to support cardiovascular research and education helps save lives in our community. Our school raised $15,754! Way to go, Wizards!

Thank you to our fifth grade patrols who worked hard all year to keep our kids safe on the bus and in car line. They get to enjoy a field trip on May 11 with other area patrols to celebrate their service and dedication to their school. Thank you as well to our Morning Show team, who keep us updated and informed. They will celebrate with a field trip to Channel 8’s news station on May 3. And last, thank you to all who purchased cookbooks and supported our Relay for Life team from Westchase.

For more information, please check out and like us on Facebook.

Have a safe, fun and relaxing summer Wizards!

Westchase May Events

3    Spirit Night at McDonald’s, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
9    Fifth Grade Field Trip to Busch Gardens
22  Fifth Grade Yearbook Signing
24  Fifth Grade Banquet
25  Last Day of School, Fifth Grade Awards, Dismissal at 11:45 a.m.


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WCA Board Grants Pool Vending Machines a Reprieve

Directors decided to give the pool vending machines one more chance at the April Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors meeting.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz presented directors with a proposal from Rolys Vending to take over operations and basic maintenance of the vending machines at the swim and tennis centers on Countryway Boulevard and in West Park Village. The vendor agreed to stock the machines, provide basic maintenance and give the WCA 10 percent of the proceeds from the machines. Board Treasurer Forrest Baumhover said that the machines were there to provide a service to the community and if an outside vendor could make it work, they were worth salvaging. He pointed out that currently the machines were usually broken because WCA staff was trying to maintain the machines themselves. “If it’s profitable, it will be a service to the community. If it’s not, we’ll get rid of them.” Directors voted to authorize Sainz and Baumhover to execute the contract with the vendor.

Summer Camp Director Garrett Lemos’ request to add an optional field trip to Busch Gardens for summer camp attendees was unanimously approved.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that association programs had grossed $25,000 for the month due in part to families signing up for summer camp and private swim lessons.

All directors voted in favor of suspending the use rights of the WCA facilities for homeowners who were more than 90 days delinquent in paying their 2018 annual assessments until the assessment and fees were paid in full. The suspension pertains to owners, owner’s renters, guests and invitees.

All directors voted in favor of moving Phil Renaldi from an alternate member of the Modifications Committee to a full-time member.

All voted in favor of appointing Harbor Links Voting Member Nancy Sells, West Park Village Voting Member Mary Griffin, Harbor Links Resident Carolyn Rogers and Vineyards Voting Member Lynn Adamson to the ad-hoc paint palette committee.

Directors considered a request to extend the exception of the 50 percent WCA Member Rule on USTA Teams for the 2.5 and 4.0 level teams. Currently 36 percent of the members of the 2.5 team are Westchase residents and 24 percent of the 4.0 team are residents. Non-residents have to pay an additional $25 fee to use the courts during tournaments. Facilities Manager Kelly Shires recommended that the board extend the exception for the 2.5 team because the team is still new and was working to recruit new members. He said the 4.0 members had said that they were not going to pay the $25 fee and had begun using other courts outside of Westchase for their tournaments. Ultimately directors decided to extend the exception for the 2.5 team for another year and to take no action on the 4.0 team’s request.

Directors heard from a Woodbay/Bennington Resident who had some questions about how many plants she needed to plant as well as spacing of the plants. The resident had been working with Sainz but her first attempt to correct the violation had not been completely successful. Directors encouraged her to continue to work with Sainz and said that if the violation was corrected by May 8, the fine would be rescinded.

Sainz presented the board with bids to redo the WCA website but since the bids were not comparable, directors agreed that they’d like to go back to the drawing board and request more specific bids. Director Ashley Wait asked why the website needed to be redone if it was now working. Board President Ruben Collazo said the current website was old and outdated and not user friendly.

Ross told the board that he thought a bad precedent was set when the board president sent out a message telling residents that parking restrictions would not be enforced over Easter weekend. “At some point there is going to be some knucklehead as president and do we really want to set the precedent? I also felt it was unnecessary. The property manager knows her job.”

Ross added that he thought the board president did not have the right to lift restrictions and that he had exceeded his authority.

All WCA Board Meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for May 10, 7 p.m. at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted April 16, 2018


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Eat, Exercise, Sleep

When it comes to fitness, everyone thinks about exercise, but it is only part of the equation.

In recent years, more people are also beginning to accept that nutrition is extremely important for fitness and overall health. You cannot, after all, out-exercise a bad diet. Yet another factor must also be incorporated for optimal health – the need for rest and recovery. Adequate sleep is vital for muscle tissue repair, weight loss and weight management.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of Americans do not get the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can arise from a sleep disorder like insomnia. It can also result from not experiencing good quality sleep, or simply not setting aside enough time to sleep. Regardless of cause, inadequate sleep has been linked to diseases and conditions like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression.

Experts recommend that adults over 18 get seven or more hours of sleep per night. Children should get more. The younger the age group, the greater amount of sleep the youth should get.

When you don’t have sufficient sleep, you can be irritable, experience decreased cognitive skills and an inability to focus, and have a greater tendency to gain weight. Inadequate sleep contributes to auto accidents, increased errors on the job, and work-related injuries.

If you do have a sleeping disorder, seek medical assistance to come up with a plan that is right for you.

Some things you can do to promote sleep are:

Exercising three or four times weekly can be beneficial for sleeping; however, avoid vigorous exercise a few hours before bed. Instead if you are doing physical activity closer to bedtime, enjoy some gentle form of yoga, Pilates or stretching.

Maintain a consistent time that you go to bed and get up. Develop a routine to unwind like taking a bath and reading a book.

Avoid electronics in the bedroom. Make your bedroom an environment for sleeping. Keep the room temperature cooler.

Avoid naps if sleeping through the night is a challenge.

By Shannon Thigpen

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


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Home of the Month: 10305 Millport

When lightning struck a Washingtonian Palm tree four years ago, it was just the spark Stamford homeowners John and Laura Garaffa needed to begin updating their yard.

“It was the tallest tree in the area,” said John, “but it caught on fire when it was hit by the lightning and died. We hired an arborist to help us come up with a plan. When we pulled the tree out, it left a giant hole in the ground so we knew it was our chance to renovate our yard.”

In just four months, with the help of Laurel Oaks Nursery and Tree Farm, the Garaffas’ yard was transformed with no signs of the fire left behind.

“Forrest at Laurel Oaks did all of the new landscaping. We told him that we wanted very low maintenance plants. He picked plants for Florida’s climate and we love the end result,” said Laura.

John and she said they only have to have the plants sprayed for pests and weeds and fertilized about every six weeks and trimmed back every six months. In addition to birds of paradise, their tropical yard is filled with asparagus ferns, Hawaiian Ti plants, hostas and other tropical, drought resistant plants. “Everything blooms at different times,” said Laura.

Once the front was transformed, they decided it was time to tackle the side and back yards. “We had french drains installed on the side yard because it was a swamp,” said John, “and then we extended the patio and lanai in the back. Before, the backyard next to the pool was just a patch of grass that never grew. It was unusable and mosquito infested. We had to work a lot on drainage.”

One of the additions they like the most is their durable and protective ultraviolet lanai screen. “We haven’t had any issues with it in four years,” said Laura. “When our relatives come visit us from Minnesota, they don’t understand why they are not getting a tan now when they lay out by the pool.”

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

Sun Hosta

Most hostas need a rest period with temperatures below 40 degrees for about eight weeks. However, some varieties, including the Sun Hosta, handle heat and are drought resistant and will grow very well in Florida.

By Marcy Sanford


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Westchase Elementary PTSA Meeting April 26

If you are looking for a reason not to cook, please join us on Tuesday, April 3 at PDQ for Spirit Night from 4-9 p.m.

Westchase will receive 10 percent of the proceeds from this event.

Don’t forget that our campus will be closed from April 9-May 2 due to state testing. No visitors will be allowed past the office during this timeframe. Also, please remember that Spring ASE ends on April 18-19. We hope your kids had fun!
Mrs. Williamson, one of our first-grade teachers, is coordinating a Relay for Life team from Westchase. The teachers and staff are putting together a cookbook with their favorite recipes to sell to raise money for the fight against cancer. Be on the lookout for more information on how you can support this great cause. The Relay for Life event will be held at Alonso on April 20 from 6 p.m.–6 a.m.

On Thursday, April 26 the PTA will host our third and last General PTA Meeting. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. in the MPR and is free to all members. After the meeting at 6 p.m. please stay to enjoy our International Festival. Our own Westchase Wizards will perform with their World Drums and Orff groups.

Attention, fifth grade parents! The fifth grade field trip to Busch Gardens will be on Wednesday, May 9. More details and permission slips will be sent home in your child’s Friday Folder on April 6. The cost is $68 for admission and a buffet lunch (or $23 for those who already have passes). All money and permission slips will be due back to school by April 16. Chaperones are welcome, but please make sure you have completed a YES application online. We’re looking forward to a fun day!

For more information, please check out our website, and l,ike us on Facebook.

Upcoming April Events

3 Spirit Night at PDQ, 4-9 p.m.
9 Closed Campus through May 2
18-19 Last week of Spring ASE
26 Third General PTA Meeting and International Festival, 5:30 p.m. in MPR

By Kathy Curé


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Alonso Theatre Star Plays Lead in Chicago’s Hamilton

More than a decade ago at Alonso High School, Jose Rosario Jr. already was a performer.

He played saxophone in the band. He discovered theatre. He sang at church. Now the dreams of his youth have been surpassed by his professional accomplishments.

Rosario, 30, is currently working in Chicago. He’s appearing in the Broadway-level version of “Hamilton,’’ a play that critics have described as one of the all-time smash hits.

Rosario’s role?

He’s Alexander Hamilton.

The lead.

The star.

“It was the first time I was about to go on stage as Hamilton and you go through the feelings of what brought you here,’’ Rosario said. “I had these feelings of gratitude. I thought of Alonso, being on that stage. I thought about 6299 (the number of Alonso’s Thespian Troupe).

“It all flooded back. I’m just a kid from Alonso, Tampa, the 813. If I didn’t have that time on stage at Alonso, where would I be? It’s crazy. I’m so grateful. But I can’t deny it. What’s happening to me now, it’s so, so cool.’’

That attitude, according to Alonso theatre teacher Lisa Vorreiter, is Rosario’s most special quality.

He’s gracious. He’s humble. He lives in the moment.

“The first time Jose sang on our stage during an audition, a few girls in the room started to cry,’’ Vorreiter said. “I’m not even kidding. They were trembling. They said, ‘He sings so beautifully.’

“People want Jose around. People want Jose involved with them. He has humility, just an honesty in his performance. He has the talent to back it up. He had these qualities from the first time I met him.’’

It was 2003. Rosario, who lived in The Bridges and worked part-time serving ice cream at West Park Village’s One Scoop Or Two, was headed to band practice. But he walked in the wrong door. Vorreiter’s theatre students were rehearsing.

“It was on accident, but I saw a bunch of people singing and dancing on stage, a bunch of ladies, girls … and I was like, ‘Wow!’ ‘’ Rosario said with a laugh. “But this became way more than just girls. I saw a bunch of talented kids really making something special on stage. And I thought I could do it. So I answered the next audition.

Very quickly, Rosario’s talent and presence filled up Alonso’s auditorium.

He became Jesus in “Godspell.’’

He became Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables.’’

“She (Vorreiter) used the talents that she saw in me and brought them out, kind of fine tuned them,’’ said Rosario, whose voice borders on baritone and tenor. “Sometimes, I would crash and burn. Sometimes, I would hit it on the money. She would be like, ‘OK, hang onto that, now add this.’ She cultivated my performance and definitely brought out things I didn’t know I had.’’

Upon his Alonso graduation in 2006, he headed for the University of South Florida to major in theatre. That only lasted a year. He left to perform at theme parks, then on cruise ships. He worked gigs in Singapore.

Back in the United States, he sought opportunities at the Broadway level. He became lead understudy for “On Your Feet,’’ the story of Gloria Estefan. Before long, he was playing Emilio Estefan, Gloria’s husband.

And now there’s Hamilton.

Vorreiter remembers Rosario’s senior year, when he was one of five Alonso students selected for a state festival. Another girl wasn’t picked. She desperately wanted to go.

“Jose asked me to give up his spot so that girl could go in his place,’’ Vorreiter said. “And that is Jose.’’

Rosario said he isn’t certain about his future. There’s film, television, new goals on Broadway. “There are plenty of things that interest me,’’ he said. Then again, Rosario isn’t the type to obsess over his future.

“I stay happy and try to make the most of every moment,’’ Rosario said. “Even if it’s singing on the street corner ‘a cappella’ for a tiny little gig, I try to find the joy in that. Because there is joy in that.

In January, Rosario flew Vorreiter to Chicago for a performance of “Hamilton.’’ Vorreiter described the evening as “surreal.’’ As usual, Rosario delivered the goods.

“There’s a point when Jose did, ‘It’s Quiet Uptown,’ (a song in ‘Hamilton’),’’ Vorreiter said. “Hamilton is estranged from his wife. His son has died. It’s a turning point for his character. Jose did it beautifully. He literally broke down on stage. It broke my heart in a beautiful way.

“Jose has always been so genuine, such good energy. He was my student. He sang at my wedding. I feel like I know him well. But to see him up there on stage at such a moment, I can’t possibly describe the pride I felt.’’

By Joey Johnston


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Did You Know?

Did you know there is a bookstore in the lobby of your local library, the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library?

It’s called The Gazebo Bookstore! The Friends of the Library is a non-profit organization that operates the bookstore.

• Hardback novels are $2. Large paperbacks are $1.50. Small paperbacks are 50 cents. Children’s books are typically 25 cents to $1.

• Most audiobooks, DVDs and CDs are just $2.

• Proceeds from the book store fund materials and programs for all age groups exclusively for your library! Programs include crafting classes, technology skills and internet safety, fitness classes, music activities and much more!

• Sales are on the Honor System as the bookstore is open whenever your library is. A black locked box is available for you to deposit payment. Prices haven’t change since the store first opened in 2005.

• New inventory is added throughout the week.

How Can You Help?

• Become a member of the Friends of the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library. Membership starts at just $10 per year. You receive advance notice of sales, and Friends receive private sale time. When elected officials consider library funding, the larger our group, the more likely they are to pay attention to our advocacy.

• Shop at The Gazebo Bookstore. It takes a lot of sales for the Friends to fund all the programs our wonderful librarians request.

• Spread the word about the bookstore, The Friends, and our library programs.

• “Like” and share the Facebook page of the Friends of the Maureen B. Gauzza Library. The profile photo is the gazebo in front of our library.

• Volunteer in the bookstore and on our board. Lots of different skills are needed. Your time and talent will enable us to make an even bigger impact in the community.

• Questions can be sent to

By Bobbie Muir


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Davidsen Band Wins Straight Superiors at MPA

The Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts Band had another stellar performance at their Music Performance Assessment (MPA)

The event was held at Sickles High School on Wednesday, March 7. This performance is considered the most important of the year by both the district and the state. The Dragons earned straight Superiors from all three stage judges, as well as the sight reading judge.

While Davidsen Band Director Mrs. Cochran doesn’t focus solely on ratings in the learning process, the DMS Band has a history of high marks at their MPAs. Under Cochran’s leadership, they’ve earned Superior ratings 10 of the past 11 years, and eight of those years were straight Superiors! The DMS Band students really do shine. They make our community proud.

Did your student have a growth spurt this spring? Consider donating your gently-used uniform bottoms to the DMS Clothes Closet. We are in need of khaki or black shorts, pants or skirts in all sizes for boys and girls.

DMS is also in need of flat screen TVs to use throughout campus. Two will be utilized in the conference rooms to display meeting information and save paper. One will be used in the main office to help promote campus information.

The walls of our cafeteria have been painted with faux bricks by our art teacher, Mr. Heath. Personalize a brick to honor a student, teacher or staff member. Bricks are $10 each. For more information, contact

For more information on any Davidsen Middle School programs or events, email and be sure to “like” Davidsen Middle School PTSA on Facebook.

Important April Dates

3    PTSA Board Meeting, 9:15 a.m.

By Carolyn Reynolds


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Walker Math Team Wins County Competition

Walker Middle Magnet's Algebra Honors Math League team won the Hillsborough County competition held at the Glazer Children's Museum on Feb. 22.

Walker scored the most points of 12 teams competing in Region 1. 

Team members included Luke Patterson, Diego Hernandez Nunez, Luke Couto, and Sara Fernandez (left to right in first photo). They were joined in the photo by Walker math instructor Ryan Dittmar, far left, and their principal, Anthony Jones, right.

By Mignon Patterson


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Aldi and SoFresh Open in Westchase

More dining and shopping options are springing up around the area.

On March 8 German based grocery chain ALDI opened a new location in the shopping center at the corner of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh Avenue. According to the company the new location presents a new look for the store. Some things remain the same, however. Customers need to pay a quarter, which is refundable, for a grocery cart, bring their own bags and be prepared to bag their own groceries. ALDI said this helps them keep their prices low.

More than 90 percent of the products carried at the store are ALDI exclusive brands, which the company guarantees are free of added MSG, certified synthetic colors and partially hydrogenated oils. ALDI stands behind their brand with a double guarantee: if for any reason a customer doesn’t like an ALDI exclusive brand food, ALDI will give them their money back and replace the product.

ALDI has produce, dairy, bakery and meat sections and carries the liveGfree gluten-free product line, the SimplyNature line of products and the Never Any! line of meats as well as the baby products line Little Journey, which offers customers diapers, wipes, training pants, formula, organic food and snacks.

The new Citrus Park location will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

SoFresh a fast-casual health food restaurant is coming to the Publix Shopping Center in Westchase. Owner/Operator Billy Wolf said they are hoping to have the restaurant open by the end of April or beginning of May. Wolf, who has lived in the Westchase area his whole life, said the restaurant is different from anything currently offered in the area. “We have very healthy and delicious bowls, wraps and salads. You can build your own or order one of our specialties. Everything is made fresh to order. If you want to eat healthy, this is the place to be.”

Wolf said they will also offer smoothies, homemade juices and will have a tea bar.

This is the fourth SoFresh location in Tampa. The first one opened in 2013 in the University of South Florida area. “I’ve been a customer of SoFresh for three years,” said Wolf. “I have been nagging them to open one in the Westchase area for a long time.”

SoFresh will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about the restaurant, visit


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Local Artists Enjoy Creating Together

Members of the Westchase Artists Society have been enjoying a shared passion for creativity with a focus on fun.

Spending time with friends and like-minded creatives, our group meets at the Maureen B. Gauzza Library on Countryway Boulevard each month. Whether working on their current projects, exploring new techniques or just completing a quick painting, our members learn and socialize while doing what they love. Our group includes a mixture of hobby and professional artists who specialize in a variety of art forms from pottery and photography to painting and drawing. Join us at our next meeting to feed your creative side!

Several of our members have started the year off with great successes. Photographers Christa Joyner Moody and Jennifer Lukas Joyner exhibited some of their stunning photography in "Wanderlust: A Visual Sojourn." Their amazing work was on display at The Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar this past February and March.

Artist Diana Ranstrom won Best Of Show at the 2018 Square's Off National Contemporary Competition and Exhibition. The show featuring all square artwork was on display at Center Place Fine Arts in Brandon this past January and February. Congratulations Christa, Jennifer and Diana for your accomplishments!

The next meeting of the Westchase Artists Society is April 24 at the Maureen B. Gauzza Library on Countryway from 7-9 p.m. Join us for a little creative fun! Visit our website, and f,ollow us on Facebook to stay up to date on our activities.

By Diana Ranstrom


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Wycliff Finds Common Bond in Book Club

With only 33 houses, Wycliff is one of the smallest neighborhoods in Westchase.

Yet a new book club is giving residents the chance to get to know each other and their neighborhood even better. Before the book club was launched, the people who live on the street meet would meet up at holiday block parties. Now they have a chance to get together on a regular basis.

Member Jamie Hughes said with a laugh, “Sarah and I are the odd ones out because we don’t have children.”

Hughes went on to explain that she’d often see other women in the neighborhood outside talking while their children played but didn’t join them. She added that the book club gives her an opportunity to catch up on what everyone has been doing and find out about the latest neighborhood gossip.

Sydney Niewierski and Melinda Lewis started talking about the idea of a book club last spring and were pleasantly surprised with the positive response they received from their neighbors and friends. “We sent out a text to the neighborhood,” said Sydney, “but weren’t sure who would be into it. Lots of people wanted to join and we’re growing each month when others hear what a good time we have.”

The ladies say they do typically talk about the book they’ve all been reading, but that discussion often turns to current events and other topics. Everyone agreed that in addition to the new and stronger friendships, another bonus of the group is receiving book suggestions from each other and being pushed to read something you might not ordinarily read. When one member suggested the sci-fi book “Old Man’s War,” most of the members of the group said they thought they would not like it and were surprised to discover how much they enjoyed the book. “It’s nice to have people who pull you out of your rut,” another member added.

What They’re Reading

“The Hypnotist” by Lars Kepler
“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty
“In the Woods” by Tana French
“Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932” by Francine Prose
“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate
“11/23/63” by Stephen King
“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

Tips to Start your Own Book Club

1. Start talking to friends and neighbors to find out who would be interested.
2. Set a meeting date. Usually once a month or every other month works best.
3. Decide where you will meet and if you’ll take turns hosting. In Wycliff the members who don’t have children say they are happy to host most of the meetings so the ones with children don’t have to worry about being interrupted. You could also meet at a restaurant or other public space.
4. Decide what you want to eat and drink. Members can take turns cooking dinner for the group or you can have everyone bring an appetizer or side dish to share.
5. Pick your book. Choose a book before the first meeting or use your first time together to talk about what everyone has been reading and then vote on what you’d like to read to prepare for the next time you get together.
6. Have fun!

By Marcy Sanford


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Westchase Seniors to Tour Chihuly Glass and Morean Arts Center

On Monday, April 9, Westchase Seniors will visit the Morean Art Center and take a guided tour of the new facility in St Petersburg constructed for the city's collection of Chihuly Glass.

Dale Chihuly is a pioneer of the studio glass movement and is credited with transforming the methods of creating glass art. He has led the development of complex, multi-part glass sculptures and environmental art. Our tour will be enriched further by also visiting the Morean Arts Center Glass Studio and Hot Shop, where we will watch glassblowers create one-of-a-kind pieces, have our own personal glass blowing experience and shop for unique glass art created by local and regional artists. The cost of admission will be $18 at the door and will include all of the exhibits, studios and shops.

If you wish to join this tour, please R.S.V.P. to the Pattersons ( or 926-5473) and meet at the old St Joseph's Health Center parking lot at 10909 W. Linebaugh Ave at 10 a.m. on April 9 to form carpools for the trip to St. Petersburg.

The Seafood Exchange Grill A large group of Westchase seniors enjoyed lunch together at the new Seafood Exchange Grill in Westchase Town Center. The food was good and the time spent having lunch together was enjoyable. You will likely be tempted to return and try more of the many menu items, and when you do, we recommend you invite another Westchase senior to go with you. If you do, the meal will be even more enjoyable. We thank Lee Mook and Diana Millman for planning and hosting this Westchase Seniors Group luncheon.

Day Trips Join us for the upcoming senior day trips, sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center. On Thursday, April 5 the recreation center will take you on a fun boat trip in downtown Tampa. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the cost will be $10. On Thursday, May 3 seniors will take a trip to Tarpon Springs. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the trip is free.

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

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

Put Life in Your Years If you are a Westchase resident over 55 years old and looking to enjoy life, join the Westchase Seniors Group and add some fun to your life. To get emails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473). It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson


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Meet Gigi and Gogo!

Introducing Gigi and Gogo of The Shires. Gigi (on the counter) is full of “cat-itude” and likes to be in charge – of everybody. Gogo (hiding out) is just a soft ball of sweetness and enjoys eating – a lot. They have very attentive staff, consisting of Joey (dad) and Joey (son) Johnston and their cleaning lady, Angela Johnston.


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Lowry Drama Club Opens Kids to New Experiences

The Drama Club at Lowry Elementary School is back in action this year thanks to the time and dedication of several teachers.

Tina de Almenara, a resident of The Greens, and fellow teacher Kim Pasch opened the club up to fifth grade students at the end of last semester and had so many interested students they had to ask for reinforcements. “We originally thought we’d only have room for 15 students,” said Pasch, “but we had so many who were interested in joining that we asked other teachers to help out.”

Students in fifth grade applied for spots in the club at the end of the fall semester and started practicing when they returned to school after the winter break. Thanks to the extra help, Pasch and de Almenara were able to accept 27 students into the club. The young thespians had the chance to show their parents and teachers what they’ve been working on at a showcase in March.

“Every Thursday I have kids come up to me and tell me how excited they are for the club that day,” said de Almenara. “I’ve heard from parents that their child is gaining confidence and found a place where they feel like they belong.”

“A lot of the students in our club don’t participate in other extracurricular activities or sports and this gives them a focus and a group to be a part of. I always hope that kids will find something they need in the drama club,” said Pasch.

In addition to learning how to memorize a script and collaborate together on songs and timing, the teachers say the children pick up valuable presentation skills from their work with the club. “Kids are usually not taught presentation or speaking skills in class. They do not know how to project their voice or how to be confident when speaking in front of a group,” said Pasch. 

Parents of students involved with the club agree that the experience has been an overwhelmingly positive one. Amy Spirides, mom of a fifth grade student at Lowry, said, “The drama club has been a fun experience for Lexi. She really likes how the students are divided into smaller groups and that the teachers individually work with those groups.  In addition, she really likes how Ms. Pasch explains how the club would work if it were a high school drama club.  We have such wonderful teachers at Lowry, and I’m so thankful to the team of teachers who are helping to run the club.”

Brian Evarts, whose daughter is also in the club, credits it with helping to bring her out of her shell. “She’s very excited about it and loves to practice the skits. She has said that being in the club has made her more confident, more outgoing and that she enjoys being a part of something.”

By Marcy Sanford


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Helping Your Kids Get Holes in Their Heads

An old memory sits like a scar in my brain:

Grunting, the Cable Guy slowly emerged from behind the entertainment unit, crawling backwards.

Technically it wasn’t really the whole Cable Guy slowly emerging. Just his prodigious crack, peeking precociously over his belt. “Step aside!” it seemed to cry. “I am here!”

I stepped aside.

But our fearsome beast, Dash, who runs in terror from the vacuum cleaner, eyed it suspiciously and then stepped forward for a big sniff.

I lunged for Dash’s collar.

The Cable Guy’s head popped out just as I appeared to be lunging for his backside.

“I WAS GETTING THE DOG!” I said too loudly.

The Cable Guy yanked the back of his khakis. “OK, that one’s done. Where are your other TVs?”

“That’s it.”


“That’s the only TV we have.”

“You only have one TV?” He was looking at me like a large crack had suddenly replaced my nose.

“Yeah,” I said. “That’s the only one.”

“Oh,” he said.

But it wasn’t just an “Oh.”

It was an “oh” that succinctly conveyed, “Oh, you’re one of THOSE parents.”

And I’ll be honest.

I was one of THOSE parents.

Back then owning a single TV did make me feel superior.

Except when I went the living room with a plan to watch all 80 cable channels for five seconds each before grunting and throwing the controller on the ottoman only to find my wife clutching the controller (and her pregnant belly) and turning white with terror as some lady died of eclampsia on Grey’s Anatomy. 

Then it would have been nice to be one of the other parents.

But my wife is a clinical psychologist who specializes in children and teens.

She is all about limiting the screens.

They are the opioids of the under 21 crowd.

So, one TV. In the living room.

Oh, and she refuses to let her daughters get their ears pierced until they’re 18.

Because her Puerto Rican mama waited exactly 30 seconds after she cleared the birth canal to jam pins through her baby girl’s ears.

So my wife has taken a clear stand against screens and youthful ear-piercing, both of which put holes in kids’ heads.

A kid cries in a restaurant? What does a typical parent do?

Hands him their phone. Or his own personal iPad.

It’s the world’s first babysitter that fits into a purse without all the awkward shoving and yelling.

Alas, if you’ve handed your child a screen like this, you have just condemned him to a lifelong attention span of a gnat, bed-wetting, low SAT scores, teen acne, multiple unsuccessful marriages and a future career as a prison inmate or a personal injury attorney.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should have handed him a book instead – even if he does try to eat it. Those pediatricians have a strict rule: Minimal to no screens until after the age of 2.

We followed this rule with our oldest to help protect her head from holes.

And when we finally let her watch Caillou and Arthur, our 2-year-old sat in front of the TV, her nose five inches from the screen.

Which was when we first discovered Number One was nearly legally blind.

So we got her some fancy thick glasses.

And she spent a whole following week walking around admiring those things on the end of her hands. “Look at what my fingers do, Daddy!” she cried.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.

But we were still superior because we only had one TV.

Then along came Elf, now 15.

And smartphones.

And Netflix.

It’s a lot harder enforcing the no-screens-til-two rule when you already have a 3-year-old bouncing up and down in front of the TV along with the leaping lemur on Zooboomafoo.

And because my generation also banned playpens, we couldn’t just drop our second born into prison until Number One finished her strictly monitored 45 minutes of screen time daily.

So we slipped.

Then Bee came along. And while the three of them still got fed and read books and played musical instruments and ate their vegetables, mistakes were made.

Corners were cut.

And then, because we sent our daughters away to magnet school in high crime or far flung areas, we slipped again.

We got them all phones.

We were officially on the expressway to hell.

Someone even gave the girls DSes.

I think it was their grandmother, the ear mutilator.

I don’t exactly remember. That whole decade is blur of STEM Fair projects, Sunshine Math and iXL.

Math that needed to be completed on a computer screen.

Then—boom!—in roughly 36 hours, they were all teenagers stomping about, accusing each other of wearing their clothes and spending their lives walking around, staring at or poking at screens.

It’s been terribly confusing.

Most nights, when I walk into Elf’s room to say good night, I’ve not been sure if she’s Facetiming her best friends Shea and Blair or watching Pretty Little Liars.

And the one time I was sure she was watching Pretty Little Liars, Blaire’s voice screamed over the iPad, “Are those cute little piggies on your pajama pants, Mr. Barrett?!”

The screen crackdown was inevitable. Especially after their smartphone-addicted Uncle Eddie walked off our cousin’s lake dock checking all his Facebook Likes.

No one wants an Uncle Eddie.

“We’re instituting some new rules in this house!” their mama, Dr. Clinical Psychologist, cried.

The good doctor announced new limits on screens. All phones and iPads and iPods and Kindle readers were to be placed on the kitchen counter at 8:30 p.m. (There would be no bed wetters or personal injury attorneys in this house!)

We expected blowback, a fight even.

But Elf, a high school freshmen, threw us a curveball. “I’ll do it on one condition with no complaints.”

My wife looked at me.

If you see Elf, be sure to compliment her on her newly pierced ears.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Crime in 33626: April 2018

33626 Crime: February

Theft from a Vehicle


8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Battery – Simple


13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Battery – Simple


9300 Lakechase Island Wy.



Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.



7900 Gunn Hwy.

Business Robbery


11300 Stable Gate Ln.

Aggravated Assault


11300 Stable Gate Ln.

Public Peace Crimes


9900 Brompton Dr.

Battery – Simple


W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.



Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Building


10700 Tavistock Dr.

Conservation Violation


12900 Dupont Cr.



7900 Gunn Hwy.

Theft from a Vehicle


7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant in County


8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Battery – Simple


14700 Waterchase Blvd.



14700 Waterchase Blvd.



Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.



Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.



12000 Tuscany Bay Dr.



7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud – Swindle


8900 Fox Tl.

Battery – Simple


Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

Petit Theft – All Other


8900 Sheldon West Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle


13500 White Elk Lp.

Battery – Simple


7800 Broadstone Lp.

Grand Theft – All Other


11900 Mandevilla Ct.

Theft From A Vehicle


10000 Bentley Wy.



8800 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Fraud – Other


9000 Sheldon West Dr.

Warrant out of County


11200 Sheldon Rd.



7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia


7900 Gunn Hwy.

Civil Matter


9800 Bayboro Bridge Dr.

Fraud – Impersonation


12700 Westwood Lakes Blvd.

Fraud – Impersonation


11700 Glen Wessex Ct.

Grand Theft – All Other


13100 Race Track Rd.


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Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library Programs, April 2018


Baby Time (Ages 0-18 months): Mon, April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Toddler Time (Ages 18 months to 3 years with caregiver): Tue, April 3, 17 and 24 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tue, April 10 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Storytime (Ages 3-5): Wed, April 4, 11 and 25 at 10:30 a.m.
Wee Artists (Ages 2-5):  Thu, April 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 1:30 p.m.
Block Party (Grades K-5): Mon, April 9 at 3:30 p.m.
• Kids use the library’s collection of Lego building blocks to have a fun, creative afternoon.
Toddler and Preschool Yoga (Ages 2 to 5 with caregiver): Tue, April 10 at 11:30 a.m.
• Introduce your baby and toddler to stretching, singing, story time and yoga.
Messy Mondays: Painting with Markers (Grades K-5): Mon, April 16 at 3:30 p.m.
• “Paint” with markers and rubbing alcohol to create a unique piece of abstract art.
Safety Superhero Academy: Don’t Touch Go Tell (Ages 3 to 5 with caregiver): Wed, April 18 at 10:30 a.m.
• Join Hillsborough County Fire Rescue with Special guest puppet “Telvis” to learn how dial 911. Parents will be able to teach children their own contact information to get help on the way.
Mad Science’s Spin, Pop Boom (Grades K-5): Thurs, April 19 at 4 p.m.
• Be there when the Mad Scientist is able to defy gravity in this energetic and spectacular special event. Presented by Mad Science.
Crochet Club (Ages 10 and up): Wed, April 25 at 6 p.m.
• Learn the basics of crochet to create a unique item.

Intro to Ukulele: Wed, April 4 at 6:30 p.m.
• Introductory Ukulele Strum & Sing Jam hosted by Tampa Bay Ukulele Society. Beginners are welcome, but encouraged to arrive early.
Thai Chi with Bonnie Birdsall: Thu, April 5 and 12 at 1:30 p.m.
Sahaja Meditation: Sat, April 7, 14, 21 and 28 at 10:30 a.m. (Advanced) and 11:30 a.m. (Beginner)
Planting a Vegetable Garden: Mon, April 9 at 5:30 p.m.
• Join local naturalist, Diana Kyle, as she presents an entertaining and educational program on how and when to grow vegetables at home.
DIY Crafting: Paint a Sharpie Mug: Wed, April 11 at 6 p.m.
• Learn how to decorate and customize a coffee mug for an easy DIY and personalized gift. Registration required.
DIY Recycle: Plastic Apple Shaped Gift Boxes: Wed, April 18 at 6:30 p.m.
• Learn how to transform a plastic bottle into a cute apple shaped box! Materials provided. Registration required.
Chair Yoga for All: Wed, April 18 at 1:30 p.m.
• Join instructors from Lucky Cat Yoga for this low stress slow-movement introduction to yoga.
Fiber Arts Group: Mon, April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 10:30 a.m.
• Gather with friends to knit and crochet.
Growing Your Nest Egg: Tues, April 10 at 11 a.m.
• Lori Nadglowski, a Certified Financial Planning professional will discuss the basics of retirement planning. Registration required.

Computer Classes:
Walk-in Tech Help: Tue, April 3, 10, 17 and 24 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m
• Ongoing training in computer and software basics.
One-on-One Tech Help: Thu, April 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 2 p.m.
• Register for a personal technology appointment to answer your questions.


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


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Teaching Media Savvy to the Pros

Roger Mills, an English teacher and coach at Alonso High School, spent 13 years of his professional life as a sports writer.

He has parlayed that experience into his own company – First Down Imaging – which trains professional athletes on how to deal with the media.

“Being on the other side for a long time as a writer, it sometimes struck me how ill-prepared many of the athletes were when giving interviews in the locker room,’’ said Mills, who covered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rays for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) before beginning his teaching career.

“That’s not an indictment on the public relations staffs with the teams because they are doing everything they possibly can. I felt there was a need for another voice who could provide ways to focus on how to better handle yourself in those situations. It has gotten tricky with the rise of all media, including the proper way to use social media.’’

Mills has given seminars to the NFL’s Bucs and Atlanta Falcons, along with the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies. He’s also interested in expanding his services to college athletics.

Mills generally takes his lead from the organization and its particular media needs. But a variety of subjects are generally covered – from the way an athlete appears on camera to crafting a positive message to the use of proper grammar.

“It’s the English teacher in me,’’ Mills said. “I can’t help myself. You want people to sound educated. The subjects and verbs must agree.

“One of the (team officials) said, ‘I can’t believe you said that’ (when correcting an athlete’s grammar). That’s the problem. No one is telling them. They sound like they have a fifth-grade education. The teams hire me to provide an open, honest and critical perspective, so things can improve. That’s what I do.’’

Mills’ methods have been effective, according to Nelson Luis, vice president of communications for the Bucs.

“We love having Roger coming in to talk to our players because it gives them an added perspective,’’ Luis said. “We’re constantly in their ear. But to hear it from someone who was actually on the other side (as a journalist) is always of great value for us.

“Roger does a great job of walking the players through some of the tricks of the trade. He makes sure they understand things from the perspective of the writer or media member. It breaks down barriers and allows them to have a broader perspective and, we think, a better interaction in their media opportunities.’’

Mills said he builds seminars around three basic principles. As a teacher, he quickly learned that students need models “that they can latch onto and assess meaning.’’

The First Down Imaging models include:

The Media Credit Line – Mills describes an athlete’s media image as a credit card. “You have to build it,’’ he said. “You have to make payments on it. If you don’t make payments, you have negative credit. As you make payments and extend your financial portfolio, the credit score goes up.’’

The CEO Model – Mills said each athlete is in charge of their own business marketing company. “If you want to be CEO of your company and its spokesperson, you have to be there in good times and bad times,’’ Mills said. “You don’t want anybody else speaking for your company other than you. Everything you say is a reflection of that company.’’

The Social Media Magnet – Mills speaks about the popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. He points out how they can be useful. He also describes how they can become dangerous.
Mills is adding a fourth model, which he calls a “media investment’’ that will have a payoff upon retirement. It’s based on building a positive media image, which could lead to lucrative post-career opportunities. Mills said media-friendly former Bucs, such as Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Booger McFarland, were prepared for new careers partially because of their media savvy.

“I find there are parallels between high-school teaching and doing these seminars,’’ Mills said. “I remember one time leaving Alonso after the school day and going to the Bucs for a seminar. It was going from a classroom of kids to a classroom of athletes.

“When I worked with the Memphis Grizzlies, somebody asked, ‘What’s harder, talking to us or talking to your class?’ I said, ‘You’re the same,’ and they loved that. But really, with 17 or 18 year olds, that’s the toughest audience you can imagine.

Teaching has allowed me to hone my communication skills and make an impact on the adults of the future. There’s no greater reward than that and it’s why I love teaching.’’

Mills devised Alonso’s Peer Mentor Program, which teaches leadership skills and problem-solving. Students must be recommended for the program.

“All of it – my teaching, the Peer Mentor Program and my seminars with athletes – is based upon effective communication,’’ Mills said. “The engagement of the athlete is like the engagement of the student. You want students to react and engage in conversation. That’s how they pass tests. If they think and have a reaction to it, that’s when we start going places.’’

By Joey Johnston


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Westchase Q and A: Gun Control

This month we asked residents: What do you believe about gun control?

Adam Smith, Bennington

I don't think we need to ban guns. When you try to keep guns away from responsible law-abiding citizens, you are not making the world safer. You are making it more dangerous. Firearms are not the cause of violence. Guns are tools that people use. It's not the gun, it's the person using it. I don't think anyone wants to see someone with a serious mental illness get a gun, but we have to be careful and make sure there is due process. The Second Amendment is there for our protection.
I'm very concerned about the ability of government officials to decide who should and should not own guns. With this latest school shooting in Broward County, there were lots of red flags about the shooter but the government did nothing. It's not worth giving up a Constitutional right just because it might make some people feel better. Most mass shootings take place in "gun free zones," which means people with criminal intent or a mental illness know they can kill a lot of people before someone with a gun can stop them.

Gina Potito and Lauren Northrup, Bennington

Gina: We should ban all assault rifles especially those that can be converted to full automatic or use a bump stock that allows for rapid fire. We need to improve background checks; get rid of the gun-show loophole; raise the age limit for owning a gun to 21; and keep the mentally ill from being able to purchase or own guns. I've been very disappointed in our political leadership at the state and national level. The only thing that seems important to them is staying on the good side of the NRA.

Lauren: Guns are way too easy to get. Other countries have been able to control guns and you almost never hear of mass shootings in those places unlike here where we seem to have them at least once a week. I'm a senior at the University of Florida and the thought of someone on campus with an AR-15, or any kind of assault rifle, is terrifying. I think arming teachers is a bad idea. Teachers carrying guns would just frighten young children. It's so hypocritical that some politicians demand a long waiting period before a woman can have an abortion, but have no problem with someone going to a gun show and buying a gun on the spot.

Hank Galloway, Glencliff

I was in the Navy during the Korean War and I am a Methodist minister. I don't think taking guns away from people is going to make us safer. Yes, we need to make it more difficult for the mentally ill to get guns. But, some seem to think the only solution is no one should be allowed have guns because you can never know who might misuse them. I don't think there's a problem with law-abiding responsible citizen owning a gun.

Ronnie and Jackie James, Brentford

Jackie: When the Second Amendment was added to our Constitution, people owned muskets that could only get off one shot a minute. I don't think our founding fathers could have imagined the kind of slaughter today's weapons are capable of inflicting. I'm not against people owning guns, but we have to use our common sense. Letting everyone have whatever kind of gun they want, or trying to take all the guns away is not using good common sense.

Ronnie: I'm a retired Air Force officer and do a lot of legal work on behalf of veterans suffering with PTSD. The Second Amendment gives people the right to own guns but not everyone should. There is so much stress in our culture today and unfortunately that often turns to violence. Our current "stand your ground laws" make it worse. People often have an irrational perception that they are in danger. If they feel threatened, they don't always respond rationally. They just react. Our courts are having a very difficult time sorting this out.

By Phil Dean


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WOW in the Snow

Usually WOW finds itself enjoying warm and sunny vacations with Westchasers. This month, however, we share two trips WOW recently took to the great white North.

One was a bit farther great white North than the other.

Jason Burns of Windsor Place submitted this shot of him holding WOW at his other home. “Since acquiring property in Westchase, we have enjoyed receiving the magazine,” he wrote. “The photo was taken at our summer home on Peabody Pond in Sebago, Maine.”

Jason added, “One day when we are fully retired, we hope to do the typical snowbird thing and spend winter months in Florida.”

Meanwhile Greens resident Sandi Foster (WOW’s Distribution Manager) enjoyed a trop to Alaska with her kids, Allison and Andrew. “In Skagway, I decided to take the WOW on a helicopter trip to the Denver Glacier to go dog sledding.  The Denver Glacier is located within the Tongass National Forest. “Allison, Andrew and I flew over the mountains and glaciers in a helicopter, landed in the middle of a glacier field, met the dogs, and an Iditarod dog trainer, who took us on a once in a lifetime dog mushing trip!”

Detailing the trip, Sandi said, “Our dog musher let each of us stand on the runners, and others took turns being pulled by the ten dogs on our sled.  After the trip, we even got to hold some 3-week-old Alaskan huskies.  

“We were very thankful that the weather cooperated, and we had a beautiful afternoon for the flight.”

Sandi added, “During our vacation in Alaska, we even met Libby Riddles, the first female race winner of the Iditarod, and in Anchorage, we met and spoke with one of the founders of the Iditarod race.”

The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an annual race run in March of each year between Willow (near Anchorage) on Alaska’s southern coast to Nome, on Alaska’s central western coast. The race usually lasts between eight to 15 days. Each sled driver has a team of 16 dogs, five of which must be on the towline when the cross the finish line.

The race began in 1973 as a challenge for the best sled dog mushers and teams. Teams race through blizzards and bone-chilling cold, covering nearly 1,000 miles as teams cross the state, checking in at 26-27 checkpoints along the way.

Riddles, the first woman to win the race, did so in 1985. The following year Susan Butcher became the second woman to win the race and went on to win it three additional times. 

We thank Jason Burns and the Fosters for sharing their travels with WOW.

Take WOW on Your Spring Trips!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your spring 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 with a few sentences about your trip and the location of the photo(s).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

What owner of teenagers isn’t ready to throw in the towel?

Foldeez, March’s fabulous fakery on page offered a revolutionary solution so you don’t insist your children air-dry themselves: self-folding and self-hanging towels. These miraculous objects come from the same company that introduced the self-making bed in 2013. Alas, they had to take it off the market three months later when it accidentally trapped a teen inside the bed for three days over Spring Break.

The boy’s parents only realized he was missing when his mother found no dirty clothes on his bathroom floor and grew suspicious.

Credit for inspiring March’s fakery goes to WOW Northwest Editor Karen Ring, who spent a week back in February posting photos of towels she found in various odd locations and angles around her home. Apparently an inability to fold and put towels back in order is tucked into a far corner of the Y chromosome. (But unlike the rest of the DNA, it’s unfolded.)

Congratulations are in order for Don Roszel of The Greens, whose correct fake ad entry was randomly selected by the fake ad gods. As the result, Don will be unfolding his dinner napkin 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 Write Fake Ad Contest as the subject. One correct entry will be randomly chosen as winner each month.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Lakeland Has the Wright Stuff

Up until a few weeks ago I had only thought of Lakeland as a place we drove past on our way to Orlando or Legoland.

Yet a neighbor’s son is a freshman at Florida Southern College (FSC) and she recently mentioned how beautiful the campus is, adding that it is home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world. Having visited Chicago a few years ago, I thought I’d had that experience while walking around Oak Park and so I was intrigued.

John Santosuosso, a retired professor from the college and current docent volunteer at the Frank Lloyd Wright Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center, confirmed the status of the collection. “We have the largest collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in one location designed for one client. Visitors from all over the U.S and world come to tour the collection.”

Santosuosso said that at the end of the depression FSC’s then president Dr. Ludd Spivey was desperately trying to come up with ideas to keep the small, struggling college open. “He felt he needed to do something spectacular so he sent a telegram to Wright asking him to help build an educational temple. By then Wright was pretty well known but he was always in need of money and never turned down any commission,” he said.

Santosuosso said the two met in person and became good friends, which probably was another reason that Wright took on the project.

The original plans for all the buildings and structures were drawn up in 1938 and most were finished by 1958. One, the Water Dome, has never fully functioned, however. Wright’s imagination called for fountains to shoot water 80 feet in the air but that was not possible because of water pressure at the time. In 2007 the college’s current president, Dr. Anne Kerr, led a campaign to restore the Water Dome so that Wright’s vision could be realized. “The Water Dome was the largest water feature Wright ever designed,” said Santosuosso.

However, he added that even with the renovations, the fountains do not shoot water 80 feet into the air. They max out at 45 feet instead. They still make a perfect dome of water, but unfortunately soak anyone near the fountain when the wind blows. So usually the fountains only run at about 30 percent of their capacity.

The college sells self-guided walking tour maps for those who want to visit the collection on their own but they also offer several different docent led tours for those who want to learn more.

Santosuosso said lots of people say their favorite building on the tour is the Danforth chapel, which includes the last specialty colored glass window that Wright ever designed. His favorite, however, is the Polk Science Building because there are “lots of good stories about Russian spies and ghosts” connected to the building. He also recommends that while you are in the area you visit the nearby Hollis Garden, a 1.2-acre garden that is home to more than 10,000 flowers, ornamental shrubs and native trees.

Frank Lloyd Wright Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center
(863) 680-4597

By Marcy Sanford

Photos courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center.


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Shortening the 68 Hours

For students who qualify for the free lunch program, the last school bell on Friday can mean 68 hours before they’ll be certain of another meal.

Bridges resident Sandy Kennedy works with an organization to send those children home on Fridays with a backpack of food.

Originally from Indiana, Kennedy grew up on a family farm where she helped gather eggs and milk cows. While at school, she was a member of the Sunshine Society, a service organization with the goal of scattering seeds of kindness among the sick, elderly and needy. “My family was always involved in humanitarian services,” she explained.

She recalled the story of her aunt who taken as a prisoner of war in 1943 after hiding Jewish children among orphans to keep them from harm. She was released a year later and eventually was awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations Award.”

Kennedy attended Goshen College, where she majored in elementary education and French. As a junior, she studied one year abroad at the University of Strasbourg. “I thought my French was pretty good until I got there,” she recalled.

Kennedy described the experience as the most influential year of her life. Because long distance calls were too expensive, she only spoke with her parents once while she was away. “There were 18 of us and we had very little supervision so we had to learn to do everything on our own.”

Her time spent in another country helped her value her own culture and learn to appreciate what she liked about theirs.

After graduation, she accepted a position teaching second grade. It was during this time that she met future husband, Brian. In 2001 the couple made a move to Florida to be near her mother. For ten years she worked as the technical coordinator at Berkeley Preparatory School. She still serves on the Berkeley faculty working on their website and repairing computers when needed.

Through a friend at church, Kennedy learned that approximately 61 percent of Hillsborough County students get free or reduced lunches. They learned about a program which was started in New Hampshire by a retired lieutenant commander, Claire Bloom. After discovering that many children go the entire weekend hungry, Bloom started End 68 Hours of Hunger, a nonprofit delivering food-filled backpacks to schools on Friday afternoons. “It’s approximately 68 hours between the lunch they get Friday and the breakfast they get on Monday mornings at school, Kennedy explained.

In 2016, Kennedy and others launched the program at Grady Elementary. They served ten families, including 40 kids. The numbers served have grown to 100 families including 284 kids today.

Four packing teams rotate time spent packing the backpacks, with one team covering each week of the month. Two people buy food and take it to the church, where the food is packed. Kennedy is one of the buyers. Always looking for a great deal and donations, she has become quite a bargain shopper. A few cents per item makes a big difference when you are trying to feed 100 families.

Each backpack is packed based on individual family needs. Each family receives three dinners, two lunches, two breakfasts and snacks. The basic meals include canned meats, canned vegetables and canned fruit. They also include soups, crackers and macaroni and cheese. The challenge is to pack the backpacks so they aren’t too heavy for the students to carry home. Since glass is too heavy, items such as peanut butter and pasta sauces have to be in plastic jars. Any donations they receive in glass containers are donated to other organizations.

Because the pantry they have access to is not large enough to hold a month’s worth of food, the shopping is done almost on a weekly basis. Kennedy takes care in what she selects or accepts for the kids to take home. “I try it and if I wouldn’t eat it myself, I don’t send it home with them,” she explained.

She said they target schools with children who would not have other options for food. “It doesn’t matter to me if they come from families with parents who might abuse the system. If the kids are still hungry, why would you not do whatever you can to help them?” she said.

To learn more about End 68 Hours of Hunger or to make donations, Kennedy invites Westchase residents to visit They .also have a Facebook page at End 68 Hours of Hunger Tampa.

As she helps to feed the hungry children of Hillsborough County, Sandy Kennedy continues to spread a little sunshine to others.  

By Lisa Stephens

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


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Make it Your Lucky Dill Day

If like many Floridians you are a New York City transplant, then the Lucky Dill Deli in Palm Harbor will feel a bit like going home.

Like NYC, it’s busy – lots of people, lots of stuff, lots of hustle and bustle. I’ve only been to New York City once, but it does capture the vibe. There are brick walls, subway station signs, and lots of flair throughout.

Don’t be fooled by the name. The popular nosh spot is much more than just a deli. It offers sandwiches and soups, of course, but also myriad other options including flatbreads, baskets, seafood, steaks, wraps, burgers, paninis, pasta and so much more. Breakfast is served all day, and daily specials augment an already overwhelming menu.

If you are in the mood for classic deli fare and gigantic sandwiches, look no further. Your options are practically endless – corned beef, egg salad, roast beef, tuna, and chopped liver (truly) are included in the “The Original” sandwich lineup. But there are also “Skyscraper” options with names like “Superfly” and “When Harry Met Sally” along with a variety of reubens that are so massive you won’t be able to get your hands around them.

Making a decision was difficult. So while poring over our choices, we started with an appetizer sampler, The Ritz Blitz ($12.99). It was definitely enough to share – meaty chicken wings were served alongside crunchy fried green tomatoes that were drizzled with deliciousness, and giant (what else?) mozzarella sticks with a tangy tomato dipping sauce.

After much deliberation, I opted for the Turkey Reuben ($13.99). Toasted rye bread was filled with a mound of sauerkraut and a mound of turkey and topped with Swiss cheese. It was served warm with thousand island dressing (they call it Russian), a crisp dill pickle and your choice of side. The cole slaw is a little on the mayonnaise-y side, but good. I’m fairly certain this was not a low-calorie meal, but it was pretty fantastic. Bonus: it was so huge, I had lunch for the next day.

My dining partner went with one of the day’s specials, Guinness Beef Stew ($12.99). Fresh carrots, peas, onions, and potatoes were mixed with tender chunks of beef and served in a rich but not overpowering broth – hearty and delicious.

Shaved roast beef and melted provolone made up the Classic French Dip ($13.99), which was served open-faced on crusty bread, old-school style. The accompanying au jus added just the right amount of savory. Finally, the Brooklyn Burger ($10.99) was a better-than-average burger served on a Challah roll to make it unique and very NYC.

If you order a drink of any kind (even soda or tea) at the Lucky Dill, you get a free dessert. Since you will likely be stuffed to the gills by the end of your meal, they will box it to go if you’d like. Most of the desserts are made from scratch at the attached Brooklyn Bakery, and it shows. We chose the cheesecake, which was rich (but not too heavy) with a heavenly graham cracker crust.

The service was spot-on. Nicole, our waitress, was enthusiastic, personable, helpful and very efficient even though she was clearly busy.

The only downside (if you can call it that) to this place is that you just get too much food. I don’t have enough space to get into what else the Lucky Dill offers – in short, there’s the aforementioned bakery, great specials, a hip little bar with live music six nights a week, craft cocktails and more.

Go check it out for yourself!

The Lucky Dill Deli
33180 US 19
Palm Harbor, FL

By Melanie Casey


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Troop 46: Camping Not Glamping

Troop 46 has scheduled some exciting camping opportunities in upcoming months!

Troop 46 meets most Mondays at 7 p.m. at the Citrus Park Baptist Church on Gunn Highway. Our Scoutmaster is Mr. David Smith; you are welcome to stop by any time to inquire about joining Scouting. Scouting helps youth develop academic skills, self-confidence, leadership skills, citizenship commitment, and more to influence their adult lives positively.

Upcoming Exciting Camping Opportunities

April Canoeing Campout
April 13 – Location TBD

May Shooting Skills Campout
May 4 – Sand Hill Scout Reservation
Brooksville, FL

June BSA Summer Camp
Camp Rainey Mountain
Clayton, Georgia

July Scout Expedition
July 21 – Philmont Scout Ranch
Cimarron, New Mexico

Our photos this month introduce some folks who are involved with Troop 46. Mrs. Gina Haberman is an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 46 and the longtime volunteer in the role of advancement chair. Her son, Sam, participates in the troop and is currently a Patrol Leader and Life Scout as well as a student at Sickles High School.

Troop 46 is divided into patrols and is a boy-run, boy-led organization. In our second photo Patrol Leader Shota Konno, a freshman at Robinson High School, interrupted troop campout planning briefly to pose with the Scouts of the Black Kat Patrol.

By Tristan Goodrich


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MOMS Club Off to the Races in March

Our group celebrated milestones and holidays this month.

The month of March got off to a great start with a moms’ night out at the new Fountainhead Wine & Beer Bar in Highland Park. The ladies enjoyed Fountainhead’s delicious cocktails and savory treats delivered from Atlas Pizza across the street. To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day we had an open play at the Highland Park playground, where the kids donned their emerald best and had the opportunity to do face painting. Next, we enjoyed a picnic-style lunch bunch at Glencliff Park, with lunch provided by the MOMS Club.

We continued the festive holiday celebrations with an Easter Egg Hunt at Baybridge Park. In addition, one of our own MOMS Club members, who happens to be a talented photographer, captured the tots in their sweet Easter outfits. Next month, we’ll celebrate Earth Day by getting back to nature.

During March the club supported March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to improving the health of mothers and babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For April the Club will be donating to the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation department in honor of Earth Day.

We’d like to extend huge congratulations to two of our members, Sandra Calkins and Lauren Greear, who finished in the Women’s Top 25 of the Fifth Annual World of Beer Westchase 5K this past month. All ladies of the group who are committed to living a healthy lifestyle and reaching their fitness goals while being a full-time parent inspire us every day!

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

By Heather Dagostino


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CDD Makes Advances on Landscaping Improvements and Potential Golf Course Purchase

The April 3 CDD Workshop and April 4 Westchase CDD meeting saw supervisors return to two topics that have dominated recent meetings: landscaping plans and the district’s potential purchase of the Westchase Golf Course.

“The Letter of Intent [to purchase the Westchase Golf Course] was executed and the seller provided a sale and purchase agreement,” Westchase Community Development District (CDD) Attorney Erin McCormick announced at the April 4 meeting.

The letter of intent locked down the $4 million proposed price and a commitment to provide six months for due diligence research, beginning with the signed sales agreement.

McCormick added that two lawyers who specialize in golf course purchases met with her on Monday, April 3, to review the sales agreement on behalf of the district. McCormick stated that she would be responding to the owner with requested sales contract changes in a few days and expected a finalized agreement to be ready for Chair Jim Mills’ signature the second week of April.

At the previous day’s workshop, CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney, who is overseeing staff work on the sale between meetings, stated that he had identified three potential hurdles to the sale. The first was the seller’s preference for selling the corporation that owns the course to the district for tax reasons. McCormick previously stated that under state law, however, the district could not own a corporation. At the April 4 meeting, McCormick stated the issue had been resolved and the seller was simply going to sell the course outside of its corporate entity.

Chesney, however, also stated that the district faced statutory limits on the length of time it could borrow to pay for the course. Stating they would limited to a five-year note rather than the far longer planned note, Chesney stated the district could perhaps get around the limit by structuring the loan as a five-year note with a balloon payment that could be restructured at the loan’s end.

The third issue Chesney identified was the fact that the golf course currently lies outside of the Westchase district. As part of the purchase agreement, the CDD would have to annex the property, a process that could cost in the neighborhood of $30,000 and which would involve approval by the Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission, consisting of the Florida governor and his cabinet.

Supervisors then turned to approving three other motions detailing enhancements at Glencliff and Baybridge Parks and the West Park Village tot playground. Totaling roughly $68,000, the enhancements will be detailed in a separate article in May’s WOW.

Mays also stated he was meeting with the contractor to review some wear and tear and rusted equipment bolts on Baybridge Park’s equipment, which are still covered by warranty.

Mays then turned to his discussions with Davey, Westchase’s contracted landscaping company. At the workshop, supervisors had requested Mays speak with Davey’s representative to gauge his willingness to extend the existing contract an additional year at no additional charge. Mays stated he also discussed with the representative Davey’s willingness to give up tree trimming and mulching responsibilities to enable the district to award them to other vendors. Mays said he also discussed changing the way the company’s independent grading system and performance payment is done in an effort to improve performance. (Currently Davey’s overall performance is graded and they receive 20 percent of their contracted amount based on a passage score in the high eighties.)

Mays said Davey’s representative was interested in maintaining the contract but less enthused about losing the more lucrative mulching contract. Mays stated he might be able to work out a compromise and agreed to have Davey’s representative attend the April 30 workshop to provide suggestions on how the contractor can meet the higher performance standards some supervisors are seeking.

When Supervisor Brian Ross pressed Mays for assurances the Davey representative clearly understood that supervisors felt some things were falling between the cracks, Mays responded, “I felt comfortable with the conversation.”

Supervisors then turned to the large pond, a former borrow pit, between M/I Homes’ townhomes development and Stonebridge and Sturbridge. For several months staff have been working with the developer to transfer the lake and its surrounding property to district ownership. The deal has been complicated by the fact that a wetlands permit, overseen by SWFTMD, runs over both the lake property and the townhomes. Sharing her discussions with M/I’s representative, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated M/I wanted to be indemnified by the district for any damages arising from the district’s inadequate maintenance of the lake, if transferred. On the district side, however, supervisors expressed concerns with McCormick’s discovery that the lake fell within the boundaries of the HOA and it could not be removed, according to M/I, before control of the association passes over the townhomes’ owners. That would subject the lake and its banks to potential rules by the HOA.

The district has expressed an interest in taking ownership of the lake to enable it to address any potential flooding risk it poses to Westchase villages and also to control townhome residents’ activities on the water and the pond’s banks.

Supervisor Ross asked McCormick to go back to M/I’s representatives and make clear they would have to offer an agreement to prohibit the HOA from enforcing any existing or new deed restrictions on the lake as part of any agreement. Since the agreement will have to be signed before May’s CDD meeting, supervisors passed a motion authorizing CDD Chair Jim Mills to use his judgement regarding whether to sign it and have the district accept ownership of the lake.

Field Manager Mays then briefed supervisors on plans for landscaping improvements at Westchase neighborhood entrances. Based on Stantec designer Neal Stralow’s standards, detailed in March’s WOW, Mays asked a local landscaper to develop more detailed designs and prices for all the neighborhood entrances on Countryway Boulevard (except at the intersection of Countryway and Linebaugh). Mays said the estimated cost was $89,000. He added, however, that the next step in the process would be for Stralow to review the plans from the nursery for consistency.

Closing major discussion, CDD Chair Jim Mills inquired with Mays about the Linebaugh contractor’s restoration of the median. Mays said he was thus far happy with the work, citing the contractor’s repair of broken irrigation wires, the replacement of sod and the reconstruction of curbs. Mays said the only aspect of the job he found wanting was the quality of the repaving done in the area. “There are a lot of uneven edges to it,” he said.

Mays committed to following up with the contractor on that issue and to ask whether they planned to repaint the yellow lines adjacent to the replaced curbs.

In other news:

Attorney Erin McCormick briefly touched on a county notice she received about a zoning change for a group of commercial offices. Located just north of The Shires, that complex has requested the change to enable it to add additional parking.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall informed supervisors that he would have the preliminary district budget at May’s meeting. That budget sets the high water mark for assessments for the county property appraiser’s Truth in Millage notices sent each fall to homeowners.

Supervisors discussed a request by Greens Voting Member Gerald Pappa to be given administrative access to the Greens gatehouse security system. The VM had been left with the impression he could use the system for neighborhood-wide communication. Chair Jim Mills, a Greens resident, stated that staff and he recently realized that any message would simply be delivered within the app the entrance system uses rather than email. This would require residents to open the app to find any messages. Under Mills’ recommendation, the board instead approved providing Pappa all of the neighborhood emails collected through the system but did not grant him administrative rights, which would grant far more access to resident information, such as guest and contractor lists.

After staff brought up the issue of cypress root encroachment from district lands onto residential properties and offered different opinions on whether the district should address them, Supervisor Ross asked Field Manager Mays, Engineer Tonja Stewart and CDD Attorney McCormick to discuss the matter and return to the board with a clear staff recommendation.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Oldsmar to Annex Northwest Neighborhoods for New Downtown Development

In a blink of an eye on June 1, nearly a dozen neighborhoods in Hillsborough County will be officially annexed by Oldsmar.

Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis announced the surprising plan in March as an effort to give his town an identifiable downtown and bring baseball and other tourist attractions, including a World War II submarine, to the north side of Race Track Road between Nine Eagles Drive and Waterchase’s entrance.

Bevis appeared at the March meeting of the Park Place CDD to which local HOA leaders were invited.

The plan, which saw a lukewarm reception at the community meeting, will pull hundreds of homes in Northwest Hillsborough off the Hillsborough tax roles and put them onto the Oldsmar and Pinellas County tax rolls. It will change mailing addresses and completely remake the Countryway Boulevard/Race Track Road corridor into Oldsmar’s official downtown.

“With the upcoming construction of the Citrus Park Drive extension, this area is well positioned to one day challenge downtown Tampa and St. Peterburg as a dynamic, urban core,” said Bevis.

While most annexations are subject to a vote by areas being absorbed by cities and townships, Oldsmar is taking advantage of a nearly century-old legal agreement approved when a growing Pinellas County, featuring two different urban areas of St. Petersburg and Tampa, was separated into two counties, Hillsborough and Pinellas. That agreement stipulated that for 100 years after the political division, the city of Oldsmar, then an old, sleepy fishing village, could annex any land within 10 miles for purposes of taxation and its economic development.

“That document expires in August so we’re getting this annexation in just under the wire,” said Bevis.

“I’m assuming this also includes Westchase?” said CDD Supervisor Erica Lavina.

“No,” said Bevis. “Westchase was formerly a large ranch that extended so far eastward into Hillsborough County at the time of the agreement, that it was exempted. The map of annexable land goes around it.”

Affected by the planned annexation are the Park Place Community Development District (CDD) neighborhoods of Mandolin, Windsor Place and Highland Park, as well as Westchester, West Hampton, Westwood Lakes, The Eagles and Waterchase.

“Let me lead with the question that’s on everyone’s minds,” said CDD Supervisor Tony Jones. “How will this affect my taxes?”

“Well, among wealthy neighborhoods like the ones we’re annexing, homeowners will hardly notice it. We think it will probably increase annexed homes’ property taxes by raising them somewhere between $500 to $1,500,” Bevis answered. “But I think once residents see what they’re getting in response, they’ll agree they’ve gotten the best deal around.”

Bevis then unveiled Oldsmar’s plans for their new downtown.

“I think everyone here was aware of Oldsmar’s pitch to get the Tampa Bay Rays to build their new stadium at the intersection of Linebaugh Avenue and Race Track Road. Needless to say, the Rays recently made a foolish decision to build in Ybor City instead of our great and thriving city.”

Bevis continued. “The team’s management stated they wanted to build in the urban core and they rightly pointed out that Oldsmar doesn’t even have a downtown.”

Turning to a number of large cardboard displays that appear to have been hand-drawn, Bevis said, “That rejection has caused our great and thriving city to step back, reevaluate and formulate an even bolder plan that will bring baseball to the heart of your community.”

Bevis’ displays held plans for converting the conservation area on the north side of Race Track Road between Nine Eagles Drive and Waterchase with a new stadium fronted by a new downtown area. “We envision turning this into a live, work and play area,” he said. “Right now it’s just more of a live, cut your grass and share a brewski on your neighbor’s driveway area.”

Bevis said that the stadium would be designed to serve as the nation’s best minor league baseball stadium and, in the off season, host concerts designed to appeal to local residents.
“What if we don’t want baseball in the heart of our community?” interrupted Park Place CDD Chair Doris Cockerill.

“Well, actually,” responded Bevis, “Our internal polling shows that you do want baseball in the heart of your community but you just don’t know it yet.”

Supervisor Jones asked, “Do you have a commitment from a minor league baseball team?”

Bevis responded, “We’re taking a ‘build it and they will come’ approach here. It’s worked quite successfully in other places, including Tropicana Field.”

“But the Rays are leaving Tropicana Field,” Jones pointed out.

“What I meant to say is we’re going to take a ‘build it better and they will come and stay’ approach here,” Bevis stated.

Bevis added that Oldsmar was currently in negotiations to acquire the Sushi Alive Japanese Restaurant and Walgreens. “Whichever one we get will become the new Oldsmar City Hall.” He continued, “To our surprise, our internal polling also showed a teensy problem with the name Oldsmar. Apparently the name unintentionally gives the impression to folks unfamiliar with Oldsmar that it is both old and marred. So we’re going to subtly upgrade its name by adding a B in front and the letters –ket at the end.”

Bevis unveiled a display of the new name in handwritten large letters and followed by an exclamation point:


“We’re very excited about this shift. It maintains all that was great with our original name while giving it the sense of being a bold, thriving place to buy and sell stuff,” he said.

Bevis’ displays showed the new Oldmar downtown main street will run parallel to Race Track Road and end at the lake that serves as the entrance to Waterchase. “We have some exciting plans for this area, let me tell you,” said Bevis. “Currently we have commitments from an Orange Julius, a new Goodwill store, Boom Boom Barbecue, an upscale pawnshop and an Amscot. It will have the look and feel of Main Street America, like Disneyworld’s Main Street.”

“You want to put a pawnshop on Race Track Road and you think it will be like Disneyworld?” said an incredulous CDD Supervisor Cathy Powell.

“Please forgive me,” responded Bevis. “Pawnshop is not actually in its name. It’s more of a high-end consignment shop for lawn tools, family jewelry, bikes and used guns. Ricketts’ Consignment actually focuses on the kind of upscale pawn activity one finds in affluent communities like Bucktown in Atlanta, Westchester County in New York and Northwest Hillsborough/soon-to-be Northeast Pinellas.”

Bevis continued. “Believe me, we have high quality commercial entities planned for that area. We’re currently negotiating with Topsy Turvy. Your kids will love it! It’s one of those pay-by-the-pound places. Only with Topsy Turvy, you go in, fill up bowls with all of your favorite cookies or candies – M&Ms, Skittles, Gummi Bears, Oreos, peanut butter cups, you name it – and then you can top it with one of ten different flavors of frozen yogurt. Their tagline is ‘Let’s Get Honest About Dessert.’”

Bevis pointed to the right side of the display. “As you can see, the new downtown Main Street both fronts and leads up to the ball stadium, but I want to call your attention to the new feature on the western edge of the lake at Waterchase’s entrance. We’re very excited about this feature as we’re confident it will be a huge tourist draw.”

Bevis pulled out another display, a photo of a vintage submarine from World War II. “Old timers from Tampa will remember this baby!” he said. “It’s the U.S.S. Requin.”

The U.S.S. Requin was a submarine commissioned in 1945 for service in World War II. Two weeks after it arrived at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and three days before its first mission in the Pacific, World War II ended. After two decades of work as a training vessel (the sub served as a target for sonar vessels), the U.S.S. Requin saw its only action off South America. During a Bolivian coup and anti-American uprising in the 1950s, the U.S.S. Requin single-handedly defeated the Bolivian Navy.

In 1972, the decommissioned vessel was brought to Tampa, where it sat as a tourist attraction in the Hillsborough River behind the Tampa Museum of Art and Curtis Hixon Hall (located where the park with the same name is today.) The Requin stayed there until 1986, when it closed due to lack of funding and support. It remained abandoned at the pier for four years until the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh acquired it.

“We’re bringing the Requin back home!” said Bevis. “It will once again be a successful tourist attraction, bringing thousands of visitors each year to Oldsmar’s magical new downtown.”

“If it failed as a tourist attraction in the 1980s in Downtown Tampa, what makes you think it will succeed here?” said Lavina.

“Marketing,” said Bevis. “Marketing and the fact that it was just stuck at a Hillsborough River pier in the 80s. Despite being on water, the submarine didn’t move. People just walked through it. It was completely boring.”

“What’s it going to do?” Lavina asked.

“Our plans, in contrast, will have it diving and traveling around the lake at the entrance to Waterchase, which will be possible once we dredge that lake so that it is about 80 feet deep,” said Bevis. “In time, if the Trump administration does pass an infrastructure bill, we will also be able to dredge adjacent Brooker Creek, allowing the sub to go as far south as Westchase. That way, the boring old submarine becomes an exciting, new submarine ride and potentially part of the county’s official transit system.”

Bevis added, “If the Japanese sushi place becomes City Hall, we’ll even have it fake shell the building in an exciting attack.”

That triggered some concern from Cockerill. “So this submarine ride of yours is going to make a lot of noise?”

“As we currently envision it, the explosions will be confined to daylight hours and will occur only as late as nine o’clock on weekdays. It’s no different than Disneyworld’s fireworks. After a while, the nearby neighbors just won’t hear it anymore.”

Bevis concluded, “Clearly exciting things are coming to New Northeast Pinellas County!”

Bevis concluded with a timeline that has groundbreaking for the new Boldsmarket downtown and stadium area occurring in the late fall of 2018.

By Husa Bintrict; Photos by James Broome Photography

Editor’s Note: In keeping with WOW’s annual April Fools’ tradition, this article (and only this article) appearing in the hardcopy edition of WOW Northwest is a complete fabrication. If you know of someone who got fooled (including yourself), be sure to let us know at We’ll publish the best e-mails in May’s WOW.


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Linebaugh Faces Construction Project Redo: Which Approach Do You Favor?

While a special March 10 meeting of Westchase CDD brought terrible news of the failure of the recently installed reclaimed water pipe on Linebaugh, the district is considering a fix that will interject more art into the community.

Supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD), however, are looking to residents to weigh in on which approach to fixing the problem they should support.

Hillsborough County Project Manager Matt Hunter, who oversaw the year-long construction project on Linebaugh Avenue between Radcliffe and Westchase Elementary, requested an emergency meeting in March with the district.

Hunter came bearing bad news, along with a sheriff’s deputy for the protection of county staff. “I know this is the last thing you want to hear but the reclaimed water pipe that was just installed has failed. And we need to replace it.”

The remark caused audible groaning among supervisors, along with several gasps and at least one unprintable vulgarity.

“This leaves us with two options,” Hunter said. “We dig up Linebaugh again for a year to replace the pipe, disrupting traffic more than even this past project did, or we opt for an above-ground pipeline down the Linebaugh median.”

Hunter stated that the pipe’s failure was caused by the fact that the contractor mistakenly installed it backwards. “As the result, much of the water in that pipe continues to flow in the wrong direction,” said Hunter. “When that happens, fluid dynamics take over, creating undue pressures at the pipe’s seams. The entire pipe separates at nearly all of its junctures, springing leaks that render its future use impossible.”

In recent weeks the pipe’s quick failure has caused repeated spot outages during periods of high use, with the most recent ones affecting portions of Harbor Links.

“What if we do nothing and just put up with the outages?” asked CDD Chair Jim Mills.

“If we were in Jersey or Nevada, that would be a realistic option,” said Hunter. “Unfortunately, as all of you know, Florida doesn’t sit on granite bedrock or sand. It sits on dissolvable limestone, which is called karst.”

“I actually didn’t know that,” said CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney. “I thought it was just dirt.”

Hunter continued, “The highly acidic content of reclaimed water quickly eats away at the limestone bedrock. In as little as two years, it can cause heavy surface structures such as walls and homes to start sinking.”

“So you’re saying all the West Park Village homes along Linebaugh Avenue could be sucked into a giant sinkhole?” asked Supervisor Matt Lewis.

“Not exactly,” said Hunter. “There would be no actual sucking sound. There would just be a lot of collapsing, which generally sounds more like popping, crashing and banging. Of course, if the natural gas lines break, there could be some booming explosions too. But technically no actual sucking.”

“It would certainly be a shame to see all of our brick walls collapse,” said Supervisor Brian Ross. “As the result, I’m inclined to support some kind of action here.”

Ross suggested the district purchase baking soda in bulk and have its landscaper spread it on the grass regularly to increase the pH of the soil and reduce the chance of the underlying limestone deteriorating.

“With all due respect, sir,” said Hunter. “We’re not talking about baking muffins here.”

“I have to agree with Mr. Hunter,” said Supervisor Barbara Hessler Griffith. “I’m not in favor of the baking soda approach. I happen to know from the volcano my son built for his third grade science fair project that if someone comes along and spills a bottle of vinegar after we put down all that baking soda, a good portion of Linebaugh Avenue could erupt.”

While CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart interjected she thought the possibility of an actual eruption quite low, Hessler Griffith added, “Is that really a risk we want to take?”

Ruling out the baking soda approach, Hunter stated the county was willing to take one of two options.

“We can’t bore a new pipe where the last one was put, so we need to move the new one over. That means completely losing the right hand lane of eastbound Linebaugh traffic,” said Hunter. “That will reduce eastbound traffic to one lane. To compensate, we’ll take one lane of westbound Linebaugh, likely the one closest to the median, and convert it into dual use, allowing traffic to travel eastbound on it during morning rush hour and westbound during afternoon rush hour.”

That, said Hunter, would ensure one dedicated lane of traffic in each direction.

When asked how long the new pipe would take to put in, Hunter said the project would last as long as the previous project – nearly a full year.

“There are some downsides to this approach, however,” Hunter said. “Because of the dual direction traffic, all left and right turns into The Fords would have to be banned during the course of the project.”

“Oh, dear Lord in heaven, save us,” said Chesney. “This is going to make the American Revolution look like a night at Bunco.”

Hunter tried to reassure supervisors that the county understood the inconvenience this was going to cause. “We’re cognizant of the fact that this is going to cause a significant reaction among your residents of The Fords. As the result, if you choose this option, we will make sure to have grief and anger counselors on hand for your residents throughout the year.”

This wasn’t enough for some supervisors present.

“I’d like to go a little further than that,” said Mills. “This board needs to be more proactive.”

Mills suggested the board at least temporarily rent or acquire some emotional support animals for use by the most distraught residents of The Fords. “At minimum, a puppy or two and a fluffy cat, preferably non-allergenic. And from what I understand, emotional support pigs and birds are also popular, but I would leave it to our staff to pick the appropriate breeds.”

Mills added that the animals could be kept at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office building on Parley Drive in West Park Village. “Residents could perhaps visit them there or even check them out over particularly high-stress time periods,” he added. “It would just be one more way of saying, ‘We care.’”

Supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Lewis opposed to explore the support animals idea, with Lewis stating he was more of a “emotional support craft beer kind of guy.”

To access The Fords, Hunter said, all residents will have to turn into The Greens, do a U-turn around the gate and then proceed into The Fords. To minimize the impact on Greens residents, Hunter suggested supervisors limit access to the Fords to only residents during the duration of the project. “Visitors or repairmen can park at the West Park pool and Davidsen Middle School and walk to their friends’ or customers’ homes in The Fords.”

Hunter added that all package deliveries could be made to The Greens guardhouse where they could be retrieved by residents driving through it during one of their many U-turns.

Griffith added, “It would be a nice touch if the Greens gate guard could distribute free water and perhaps granola bars to all Fords residents doing the U-turn. It might help take the edge off.”

“With all due respect to Mrs. Griffith, I’m going to disagree,” said Ross. “I personally find chocolate is more calming.”

Hunter than offered an alternative approach to the project for which supervisors expressed greater enthusiasm.

“Option two has no-traffic impacts and no closed lanes,” he said. “We would simply install an above-ground pipeline.”

Hunter said the most logical placement for the pipeline would be the landscaped median down the center of Linebaugh Avenue. “It’s a 24-inch pipe, which we would have to raise three feet off the ground.”

Hunter explained that the elevation of the reclaimed water pipe was necessary because of the reclaimed irrigation in the median. “Reclaimed water is very acidic. If we let it hit the outside of that pipe, it will deteriorate very quickly and start leaking. Raising it gets it out of the way of the sprayers.”

“But it puts it more obviously in view,” observed Lewis.

“That is why we’re willing to offer aesthetic mitigation.” Hunter explained that if the board picked the above ground reclaimed pipeline of Option 2, the county would provide acrylic paint for the pipe’s exterior. “First, it adds protection from reclaimed water. Second, it would allow the community to hire a painter to camouflage the pipe by painting it with grass, flowers, hedges and trees.”

Hunter added, “For many communities, these painted pipes become popular aesthetic additions.”

“I love this idea!” Supervisor Griffith said. “I am all about bringing art to the community. Rather than try to camouflage it with pretty greenery, we have an opportunity here.”

Griffith stated she would like to see the district commission several muralists to tell the story of the history of the Northwest along the length of the pipeline. “Either that or we could have a juried arts competition over the Fourth of July weekend, turning it into a fun festival.”

“That could get pretty expensive,” observed Chesney. “I would hate to have the district have to pass on the purchase of the golf course simply so we could artistically paint our new pipeline.”

“If funds are an issue, then we go to Westchase and Lowry Elementary, Davidsen and Alonso. We offer their kids the paint they need, divide the pipe into individual sections and tell them, ‘Have at it!’”

“Personally,” said Lewis. “I’d prefer to see the pipe become the official Westchase graffiti wall like they have up in Gainesville. It’s on 34th Street up there. It runs over 1,000 feet and all the University of Florida campus organizations and frats get a section that they get to paint every year.”  

“That might help reduce the tagging in the Baybridge Park pedestrian tunnel,” observed Field Supervisor Doug Mays.

Lewis continued, “We could give a section to each organization or business in the community, from the Westchase Seniors Group to World of Beer.”

“If I could offer a different approach,” suggested Ross. “While I love the enthusiasm that Supervisor Griffith and Lewis have for their ideas, I think we have a responsibility to maintain Westchase standards. The pipe has to be painted. But let’s just paint it one color, say green, and then have each resident who moves into the community coat one of their hands in a paint color and press it against the pipe. Over the course of years, we will have thousands of different hands that come together and make Westchase a community.”

Supervisors debated their preferred approaches to the pipe for 45 more minutes, with Lewis and Griffith ultimately backing Griffith’s mural idea and Ross and Mills backing Ross’ Hands Across Westchase approach.

When the board pressed Chesney to cast the vote for the tiebreaker if residents choose Option 2, Chesney said, “I actually like both ideas. So I’m going to propose a compromise. I think we should do the Hands Across Westchase thing down the north side of the pipe and Supervisor Griffith’s more artistic murals down the side of the pipe that faces south.”.

Closing discussion, supervisors decided to postpone their choice between Option 1 (tearing up the road) or Option 2 (using the painted pipeline) until their May meeting. “In the meantime,” said CDD Chair Mills. “We want to hear from residents. We would ask WOW to request that residents email us and let us know if they prefer Option 1 or Option 2 and why.”

Residents are asked to email supervisors, whose contact information appears on page 91, by Friday, April 6.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Editor’s Note: In keeping with WOW’s annual April Fools’ tradition, this article (and only this article) is a complete fabrication. If you know of someone who got fooled (including yourself), be sure to let us know at We’ll publish the best e-mails in May’s WOW.


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Westchase Spring Garage Sale Is May 5

It’s time to finish your spring cleaning!

The Westchase Spring Garage Sale is Saturday, May 7. The sale is one of two such events held annually on the first Saturdays of May and October. (The Westchase Fall Garage Sale is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018; please mark your calendars.)

The garage sale hours run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. In order to improve traffic flow and access by emergency vehicles, the Westchase Community Association (WCA) asks that residents not sell food items or collect outside items for sale as part of a large, charitable event. While there is no charge for Westchase residents to participate in the event, those residents who wanted items to appear on the Big Ticket List needed to e-mail their information to the association manager’s office at by Tuesday, May 1.

Printable copies of the Big Ticket List will be available on and They will also available at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center.

All unsold items can also be donated to Goodwill, which will have two donation locations around Westchase from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. On the day of the garage sale Goodwill will have trailers from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the health clinic parking lot, located at 10509 W. Linebaugh Ave. Each weekend Goodwill also has trailers at the Primrose School, 12051 Whitmarsh Lane, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Donations of clothing and household items will support Goodwill's services for people who are disabled, elderly or unemployed. Goodwill cannot accept mattresses, box springs or televisions. They will provide a receipt for tax purposes.

For answers to questions about the sale, please call the Westchase association manager at 926-6404. For more information about the Goodwill donation locations, please call (888) 279-1988, ext. 1440.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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It’s Time to Think Camp

Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time for parents to find something to keep the kids occupied until the school bell rings in August.

Thankfully, Tampa Bay is chock-full of camp options that meet both the interests of children and the scheduling needs of parents. While the options are plentiful, there is much to take in consideration when finding the right camp experience for your child. 

Knowing the Benefits of Camp

Before beginning the camp search, it’s important to understand the importance of camp. While parents often look to summer camp to keep kids supervised during the school-free days, camp is much more than just another childcare option. Experts agree that camp is essential to the education of the whole child, offering fundamental life lessons such as leadership, teamwork, empathy and problem solving. “Camp is just one of the many components of youth development. Camp is like a classroom without walls where kids learn in a different way than they do in the more structured settings of school and daycare,” said Katie Johnson, southeastern field office executive director with the American Camp Association.

The benefits of camp are many. Below are just a few of the reasons camp is good for kids:

Camp keeps kids active. According to surveys by both the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an American child is six times more likely to play a videogame on any given day than to ride a bike. The variety of activity that fills the camp day keeps kids away from the screen and on the move.

Camp fosters independence. Camp offers the perfect opportunity for kids to manage their daily choices in a nurturing environment without parents and teachers guiding every move.

Camp helps prevent summer brain drain. Research indicates that participation in intentional programs, like camp, helps reduce summer learning losses. The experiences at camp foster problem-solving skills that will carry over into the school year.

Camp lets kids try out new skills. Camp gives children the chance to break free from everyday expectations and try new skills in an environment that has no grading scale. The laid-back atmosphere at camp offers the ideal setting for kids to discover and develop the things they truly enjoy.

Camp reinforces the art of communication. In our technology-laden society, kids tend to communicate more through texts and tweets than through social interaction. Camp encourages kids to put down the gadgets and rely on communication that is based on teamwork and cooperative play.

Understanding Different Types of Camps

Camp offerings are as varied as the millions of children who attend camp each summer. Summer camps generally fall into three categories: traditional day camp, specialty day camp and resident camp.

Traditional day camps offer an affordable and well-rounded option for parents looking to sign their child up for a full summer or just a week here and there. Traditional day camps offer a wide variety of activities throughout the day and often incorporate field trips. We are fortunate to have three wonderful traditional day camp programs right in our own back yard: The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center Camp tennis and activity camps and the summer camp offered through the Westchase Recreation Center.

The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s two camps offer weekly full-day and half-day options. The days are jam-packed with swimming, arts and crafts, traditional camp games, as well as a weekly field trip. Discounts are offered to Westchase residents. The Westchase Recreation Center summer camp is offered in two-week sessions and the days are filled with activities including nature exploration, fitness, sports, crafts, reading and field trips.

Specialty day camps are those that focus on a specific activity with the intent of allowing campers to increase their knowledge and proficiency in it. Specialty camps are on the rise and there is a camp for practically every interest imaginable – from musical theater to flag football and everything in between. Many specialty camps will also include more traditional camp activities, but the main focus is on the activity at hand. 

Resident camps (or what used to be known as sleep away camps) are designed for campers staying at camp from several days up to eight weeks. Campers sleep overnight in cabins, tents or dorms and participate in a variety of supervised activities. For children who fair well away from home, resident camps offer the ultimate lesson in building independence and autonomy. Like their day-camp counterparts, resident-camp themes run the gamut from dedicated sports camps to music camps to the more traditional rustic camp experience. Choosing to send a child away for a week, or even an entire summer, can be overwhelming, and the American Camp Association’s Find a Camp feature ( is a great place to start. Because camps accredited through the ACA meet up to 300 standards for health, safety, and program quality, you can rest assured your child will be in good hands. 

Finding the Right Camp

While budget and proximity to work and home are important factors to consider during the decision-making process, the interests and personality of the child must also be taken into consideration. “Camp is so much more successful when the child has a say in the decision,” Johnson said. 

Of course, safety is always at the top of every parent’s list of priorities when turning their child over to someone else’s care. “The core elements of the health and safety of the kids always need to be a part of the camp experience,” Johnson added.

A well-run camp should be readily able to answer questions regarding its staff-to-camper ratio, procedures that are in place should a child become sick and what background checks are required for camp staff. A quality camp should also be able to supply a list of camp parents who are willing to share their experiences with the camp. For a complete list of questions to ask when researching new camps, visit


Making Camp More Affordable

A great camp experience does not come cheap, but there are ways to make camp more affordable.

Assistance offered from camps: Check with the camp of your choice to find out if they offer special discounts – for everything from early registration, multiple weeks or multiple enrollments from one family. Parents should also investigate scholarships or “camperships” offered by many camps and not simply assume their income doesn't qualify.

Assistance offered from the U.S. government: A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account offers tax savings by allowing parents to pay for childcare or adult dependent care expenses that are necessary to allow them to work, look for work or attend school full-time with pre-tax money. Visit for more information.

Furthermore, through the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, the IRS allows an income tax credit on dependent care expenses. The amount of the credit is based on adjusted gross income and applies only to your federal taxes. This can apply to qualifying day camp expenses as well. Visit for more information.

With the right amount of research and planning, summer camp can be a wonderful experience that will provide your child with memories and skills that will last a lifetime. Happy camping!

By Karen Ring

Summer Camp Summaries 2018

WOW thanks the following summer camps for helping to bring you the Summer Camp Special.

Adventures in Engineering
(813) 454-3115
Each week AIE campers will gain a hands-on STEM education! While practicing teamwork and innovative thinking, they will perform exciting engineering design and technology challenges.

AGA Westchase
Full and half-day summer camps and enrichments offered. Check our website for programs and registration! Visit or email

Berkeley Summer Programs
(813) 885-1673
With over 100 unique camps and classes, Berkeley has something for everyone: sports, fine arts, enrichment, and academic credit courses. Many new tech offerings! June 4-July 27. Visit


CAMP IDS at Corbett Prep
(813) 961-3087
Over 100 full- and half-day camps. PreK3-high school. June 11-July 27. Before- and after-care. Bus service. Fine arts, engineering, academics, technology, languages, cooking and more. Visit


Carrollwood Cultural Center
(813) 922-8167
Through art, music, dance and drama campers ages 4-12 will explore a different theme each week in a creative and safe environment. June 4-Aug. 10. Visit


Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science
(813) 793-6085
Join us at Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science for eight weeks of summer adventure, excitement and tons of fun! All age groups K- 8! Contact:

In The Breeze Horse Academy, Inc.
(813) 264-1919
Not for profit academy. All we do is horses. Our 25th year. "Any day the children are not in school, is camp day at ITB." Theme: swimming with the horses.

Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy
(813) 969-0240
Explore the world of performing arts. Dance, sing, and act with our professional instructors. Half/full-day camps, boys bootcamp, musical production, ballet intensives. Evening classes available!

Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA
(813) 249-8510
Get ready for the best summer ever! Our fun-filled camp options allow campers from preschool age to teens to enjoy sports, arts and crafts, swimming, games and more!


Smart Start Pre Prep Summer Camp
(813) 855-7333
Our summer camp includes all meals, three field trips per week, an 1,800-sq.-foot game room, a large outdoor playground and fun, weekly educational themes.

West Tampa Wolves Lacrosse
(813) 600-9993
Summer lacrosse? Look no further than West Tampa Wolves Lacrosse Camp, focusing on an introduction to lacrosse as well as skills development. for dates!

Westchase Activity Camp
(813) 855-0662
Want your children to enjoy a safe, fun summer right here in Westchase? Come join us for swimming, arts and crafts, field trips, games and sports activities.

Westchase Tennis Camp
(813) 855-0662
Learn the fundamentals of tennis through an action-packed week that will excite your child and inspire them toward a tennis-fitness lifestyle. Serving beginner players through the most advanced players.

The listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Summer Camp Special. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the camp directors and ask all relevant questions prior to engaging their services.


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Summer Camps and Elected Office

Blink twice and summer will be here.

It’s April, when one of WOW’s most popular traditions return.

Our Summer Camp Special, which begins on page 84, offers a look at why summer camp can be so beneficial to your children. Yet, not all camps are created equal. There are a number of important questions that you should ask of all camp directors before trusting your kids with them. Check out this important article by Karen Ring and it will help you discern which camps are deserving of your business. We thank all the camp directors who helped bring this special feature to you.

Of course, don’t overlook the Westchase Summer Activity Camp or the Westchase Tennis Camp. Both are incredibly popular with Westchase residents and non-residents alike and they fill up fast. So reach out to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center today.

This month’s WOW is filled with informative and entertaining articles. I want to particularly thank James Broome, WOW’s go-to photographer. Whenever we decide to do an important feature a story about an upcoming event or project, James always faces a challenge – how to capture something with the magic of Photoshop that has not yet happened?

James spent a good many hours trying to produce the artistic rendering  that reflects WOW’s feature story this month. James is a talented guy and we thank him for going above and beyond this month.
We hope you enjoy our feature and all of April’s informative articles. If you read them carefully and thoroughly, we guarantee you’ll be among the best informed residents in your neighborhood.

The mid-term election this November promises to be an exciting round of races. Many new folks are throwing their hats into the electoral ring for the first time. We’ll introduce some of these local residents in future editions. But there is still an opportunity for many residents to consider running for office. The Westchase Community Development District (CDD), along with the WCA, has a greater impact on our family’s daily lives than do any state legislator, governor or president. Yet every even numbered election year, seats on our CDD go uncontested. The incumbent often simply files to run and is automatically elected when he or she gets no competitor.

Two seats from your CDD will be on the ballot in November. You can still file to run for them. Just check out the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections’ website. The staff of that office is always very helpful and can walk anyone through the guidelines for filing to run for office. Deadlines are typically in June. There is no better time to serve Westchase than the present – and you’ll likely find it rewarding!

As always, we thank you for reading and ask you to please tell our valued advertisers you saw them in WOW.


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Village Voices: Road Repaving and New Neighborhood Officers


We all watched in anticipation as the heavy equipment, street signage and mailbox hangers came in the second week of February.

Radcliffe’s long-awaited repaving project was about to begin.

And begin it did. In just one short week, all three of Radcliffe’s residential streets were completed, along with the entry street, Radcliffe Drive. Sidewalk fixes (ADA compliant corners, and bulges between sidewalk sections) both preceded and came along after the repaving effort. At press time, the crews had also completed Baybridge and were beginning work in The Shires, with sidewalk work in process. Shires streets should be done easily before March ends.

None of this would have happened so quickly without the determination of a number of solid Westchase leaders. Joe Odda, past chair of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), was the driving force on the entire Westchase repaving project. Past Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Joaquin Arrillaga was also instrumental in getting the program going. Of course, recent support from current GAC Chair Rick Goldstein and current President Ruben Collazo have helped push the project over the top.

There was, however, a lot of support from within Radcliffe itself, none more important than the efforts of Eric Holt, and then Middlebury residents Darrick and Violeta Sams (Darrick was also a WCA director at the time). Joe, Joaquin, Eric, Darrick, Violeta, Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman and Public Works Director John Lyons stood in the driveway at the Samses’ home almost four years ago this month, and pretty much convinced the leadership that this project was indeed necessary.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to these leaders for getting the project approved and started.

Radcliffe was proud to be the first village, and we look forward to the completion of all the scheduled roads here in Westchase.

By Keith Heinemann

The Vineyards

Hello, Vineyards Residents!  We would like to take a moment and thank two of our outgoing board members, Kevin Kwan and Mike Florio, for their service and dedication to our community over the years! Our 2018-2019 board members are as follows: Lynn Adamson, president; Ann Parker, vice president; Nicole Robertson, secretary; Blakley Echeverry, treasurer; and David Wynne, member-at-large.

One of our priorities this year is to keep you informed! Please stay tuned for more information regarding social events, landscaping projects and just general info!  If you haven't done so already, please register on our website: And i.f you have a login, please take a moment to review your profile and make sure your email address is accurate. You can also follow us on our Facebook group:


If you are due to paint the exterior of your home, you should have received an updated copy of approved colors.  If not, you can find the list on our website.

If you have any questions or comments, please email

By Nicole Robertson, The Vineyards Secretary


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WCA President Suspends Street Parking Enforcement Over Easter and Passover

In anticipation of visiting friends and family this weekend, the WCA President contacted WOW and asked us to inform residents that he has suspended its parking enforcement over the holiday weekend.

WOW staff wishes all observant residents a happy Passover and Easter!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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WCA Online Payment Processing System Working

If you were hoping to register and pay for Westchase swim and tennis programs online at you c,an now do so again. During the first week of March Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo contacted WOW to publicize a work-around to the association’s non-functioning online payment option, which had broken. Collazo contacted WOW on Thursday, March 15 to announce that the online payment processing system was working again. “We managed to patch it up,” he wrote.

To register and pay for Westchase programs, simply visit and click on Westchase Recreation.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Northwest Hillsborough County Under Rabies Alert

Following several incidents where rabies has been found active in local wildlife, the Florida Department of Health has placed portions of Northwest Hillsborough County under a rabies alert.

The alert area lies outside of Westchase proper but residents are still advised to take precautions. The alert area runs from County Line Road to the north and Kennedy Boulevard to the south and includes the area between Interstate 75 to the east and Veterans Expressway to the West. The alert will last 60 days.

Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease that attacks the brains of warm-blooded animals, including humans. It can be prevented but not cured. It is also easily transmitted from animals to humans by exposure to the saliva of infected animals through open wounds, scratches or exposure to the mouth, nose or eyes. Any person who has been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County at (813) 307-8059.

How can you protect yourself and your pets from exposure to rabies?

  • Have your pets vaccinated for rabies and ensure they get revaccinated on dates specified by your veterinarian. (A one-time rabies vaccination does not last forever.)
  • Ensure your pet avoids contact with wild or stray animals.
  • Do not let your cat or dog wander alone. In addition to protecting them from predation, keeping your pets on leash (required by county law) ensures that you are aware of any contact they may have with wild or stray animals.
  • Don't feed wild or stray animals.

If your pet is attacked by a wild animal, wear gloves when examining your pet. Wash your pet with soap and water to remove saliva from the attacking animal. And do NOT let your pet come into contact with other animals or people until your pet is examined by a veterinarian and the incident is investigated by the county's health department.

For more information, see:


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From the President, April 2018: Late Assessments Trigger Legal Action and Fees

Unfortunately this year we have had an unusually high number of delinquent annual assessment payers.

Approximately 270 out of 3,512 members of the association (or seven percent of the total) have not paid their annual assessments. These assessments are now on their way to our attorney for collection. I implore you. If you fall into this non-payer category, please remit your payment as soon as possible. You are now subject to the late fee, plus interest, plus attorney’s fees.

The worst part is that attorney’s fees tend to rack up pretty quickly. In a very nominal amount of time, your $275 annual assessment could multiply by five or ten times that number! And sadly I’ve seen that happen. So please pay your invoice immediately. As I have said many times before in previous articles, it drives me insane when I (as president) have to sign off on legal authorization to collect HOA dues. There is absolutely no reason that a $275 annual assessment should accumulate thousands of additional dollars in legal fees. But unfortunately it happens. And it leaves me dumbfounded every time I see it happen. Please don’t let this happen to you.

This is also that time of the year when we solicit feedback regarding updating our deed restrictions and guidelines. During this feedback season we collect suggestions for amendments, edits, updates or fixes to our existing documents. We flesh out the suggestions and take them to a community-wide vote. So if you have any suggestions for deed restriction or guideline updates, please send them directly to your voting member (VM). Your voting member will then collaborate with the other voting members to ascertain your suggestion’s feasibility and oversee its possible inclusion in our rules amendments.

Also in a very short four months from now we will be sitting down to discuss next year’s annual budget for the association. If you have any ideas that you’d like to see implemented at our facilities, now is a good time to gather them up and submit them to your voting member for consideration by the voting members assembly.

Last, you may have noticed a great deal of construction and renewal activity in and around Westchase lately. That’s not by accident. We have many Westchase volunteers to thank for all of this activity around us – people who currently serve on boards and committees as well as people who have served on past boards and committees. Westchase has been very well served by a multitude of dedicated, talented, motivated and effective volunteers.

Thank you to all of you who have made all of these achievements possible. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for reading. I can always be reached via email at Feel free to send me your thoughts and suggestions on any matter or subject relating to Westchase. I’m always on email, so I typically respond to emails within hours.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President


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Pool Facilities and Management Office Repainted

Happy spring everyone!

Our odd temperatures over the last few weeks have taken its toll on a lot of landscaping. With the warmer temperatures, now is the perfect time to spruce up those garden areas, lay down some fresh mulch and maybe put it a few colorful flowering plants to add that extra pop to your property.

We offer some monthly reminders. March 15 was the final deadline to make your payment to Westchase for the 2018 annual assessment, due in January. If you didn’t make your payment, then your account has already been sent to legal counsel for collection. Additionally, your use rights to the facilities will be suspended until your account is paid in full. This applies to the tenants of the unit and any guests of the household. If you receive a notice from the association’s attorney, please contact them immediately to avoid any additional costs.

Next month our spring garage sale is May 5. Don’t forget to email Charlotte Adams, one of the Westchase association managers, your list of goods that you want to sell on our Big Ticket List. You can email Charlotte at This list gets posted on our website and printed and posted at the two pools.

Our pool facilities have gotten a bit of a facelift these last few weeks. Both have received a complete paint job, giving the buildings a fresh, clean look again. Additionally, with it being eight years after its construction, the management office has also been repainted. We’ve installed new light poles and LED lights on the pool deck Westchase Swim and Tennis Center off Countryway, providing a brighter swim experience before sunrise and after sunset. As our facilities age, we will continue to look at areas that can use some updating.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA


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Chipotle to Host Fundraiser for Alonso Lacrosse

Looking for an easy—and tasty—way to support Alonso boys lacrosse?

The West Park Village Chipotle (9466 W. Linebaugh Ave.) has generously agreed to donate 50 percent of all proceeds raised the evening of March 27. All you have to do is visit the restaurant between the hours of 4-8 p.m., tell the cashier you are there to support Alonso Lacrosse, and place your order. Dine in and take-out orders will count toward the team’s total, however, online and gift card purchases will be excluded. Remember, the more you buy, the more the team benefits, so be sure to bring the whole family.

By Les Young


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Westchase Recreation Center Programs: March


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

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

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


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

Thu, March 1: Strawberry Festival
Thu, April 5: Tampa Fun Boat
Thu, May 3: Tarpon Springs

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

Tue, March 13:  Green Swamp

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

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

Come to the gentle yoga class and learn how to tone and stretch your body while incorporating ancient practices to calm the mind and rejuvenate the spirit. (No class on March 1.)
When: Thu, 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

Chair Yoga
Chair Yoga is designed for those who find it challenging to get up and down from the floor. It is also appropriate for those with balance issues. In this class, classical yoga poses will be taught with the aid of a chair. (No class on March 1.)
When: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
Cost: $3/Class

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Music and Mi
Join our fun and educational approach to social, cognitive, self-esteem development. Classes include nursery rhymes, music and movement, sensory play and much more. Visit or contact for more information. 
Ages: 10 months-4 years
Cost: $3 registration; $5 per session.


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

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

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

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

*Online account required to participate.

All activities take place at:

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


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Westchase Q and A: Favorite Flicks

This month we asked residents: What is your favorite movie?

Eva Skarshinski, Village Green

I would say my favorite movie is "Forrest Gump." I saw it when I was in high school. It's such an entertaining and feel good movie and there's so much current American history and music woven into the plot that it holds your interest from start to finish. I have a 10 and 12-year-old I want to share it with when they're a little bit older. I also have a 4 and 2-year-old and they like "Frozen" and the other Disney movies but they're not really obsessed with them. They are obsessed with the movie "Annie" though. I bought a DVD for them to watch in the car and it is now their all-time favorite film. Something happened the other day and my 4 year old said in a loud voice, "Leaping Lizards!" They also insist on calling our new puppy Sandy even though that's not his name.

Debbie Clark, The Greens

I like comedies and thrillers the best. I don't mean real violent thrillers or science fiction, I mean films that make you think and have a lot of suspense. The Brad Pitt film "Seven" was terrifying in a good way. My favorite comedy is Steve Martin's "Father of the Bride." He is so funny trying to plan his daughter's wedding. I can relate. I have two daughters and planned their weddings. I also owned a Florist Shop in Plant City for over 30 years before I retired and saw lots of things from the shop in the film. I like to go out to the movies but Netflix is very convenient when you just want to stay home. One of my all-time favorite films is "Gone With The Wind." My daughters like it too and it's nice to share that with them. We are "real southern ladies" even though we're originally from Ohio.

Edwin Katabaro with Lily, Brentford

Any Disney movie. We have two young daughters under 3 and we watch a lot of Disney. We also love going to Disney World and seeing the characters. I can sing all the songs in "Frozen" and “The Lion King." It's hard to go out to the movies, so at this stage of our lives, we are more likely to watch movies on TV through Netflix and Amazon Prime. For me, I like all the Marvel Universe films. I'm really looking forward to seeing their newest super hero, "The Black Panther."

Allan Gordon and Dulca, West Park Village

I'm not sure I'm the best one to ask about their favorite movies. I think the last movie I actually went out to see in a theater was "The Shining." I don't watch them on TV either. If someone broke into our house and stole the television set, I'm not even sure that I'd notice it was missing. My wife likes to go out to the movies. In fact she and her girlfriends are going to the "The Greatest Showman" tonight. I prefer to listen to music. When I come home from a tough day at work, I put on some music. That's how I relax and get my entertainment. I also like to read. I'm a private pilot so much of my reading is about aviation and is technical in nature.

By Phil Dean


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Mexican Food without the Frills

Looking for a Mexican restaurant with good food and a casual atmosphere?

Look no further – Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co. has what you need. Located on Sheldon Road where the old Gondolier pizzeria used to be, Victoria Tacos offers a good variety of Mexican fare in a super casual setting. Unlike its cousin, Senor Tequila (they have the same owners), Victoria is less sit-down restaurant and more grab-a-quick-bite bistro. Bistro might be overdoing it – there’s a very small bar area/entrance and one big room with 16 tables or so spread out. There’s not a lot of intimacy, but odds are that’s not really what you’re looking for in this place. It’s definitely no frills and is almost fast-foodish in the setup – think plain tables and plastic cups.

However, the restaurant does have staff that is available to seat and to serve you. On my visit, the place was slammed (a good sign, I thought), so our service was a bit slow. However, chips served with fresh salsa, a mean queso (an extra $4.25) and a pretty cheap beer kept us quiet and patient.

One complaint – I get that it’s trying to be authentic, and I appreciate the effort – but the majority of the dish names are in Spanish. While I’m sure there are many Spanish-speaking Westchasians out there, I’m not one of them. The dish details are in English, but it can be a little overwhelming to try to read through all the descriptions to figure out what to order, especially if you are trying to wrangle kids.

As is probably to be expected, the food we sampled tasted similar to the dishes of the same name at Senor Tequila. Still good – just not that different of a flavor. The steak fajitas ($14.99) featured a mound of grilled meat, peppers, onions and tomatoes on a sizzling platter along with the usual accompaniments. Like its namesake at Senor Tequila, the chicken chimichanga ($9.99) is stuffed with seasoned and shredded chicken, topped with queso and served with shredded lettuce and a dollop of sour cream. It tasted pretty much identical, too. However, it is served à la carte, so no beans and rice for you (not that you’d have room for them, anyway).

The real winner at Victoria Tacos y Cerveza, in my opinion, is the fish taco (a steal at only $3.50). Since moving to Tampa, I have found very few fish tacos that I would say are “delicious.” I’ve tried quite a few – California Tacos (too greasy), Rubio’s (pretty good), and several at local Mexican eateries (almost always blech). This fish taco, however, was honestly the best I’ve had in my six years here. Piping hot fried fish is served atop a fresh warm tortilla and dressed with cabbage and a tangy fish salsa. As he brought the dish out, my waiter said it was his favorite item on the menu – and for good reason. If you’ve never tried a fish taco, this would be the place to do so. I highly recommend it.

To finish, we shared a plate-sized sopapilla ($4). Arriving warm, dusted with sugar, drizzled with honey and decorated with whipped cream and cherries, tt was a nice finish to a satisfying meal.

Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co.
3.5 Stars
11625 Sheldon Rd.
(813) 328-4094

By Melanie Casey


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Library Officially Renamed Maureen B. Gauzza Library

If you’ve lived in the Westchase area for less than 12 years, you may take the public library on Countryway Boulevard for granted.

But if it were not for the hard work and dreams of one woman, you might be driving to Town ’N Country or Lutz when you wanted to visit the closest library.

Kingsford resident Maureen B. Gauzza was instrumental in bringing the library to the Westchase area and the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library Board celebrated and honored her at their January meeting. This fall the board renamed the Upper Tampa Bay Library after Gauzza and the official renaming was unveiled in January. Andrew Breidenbaugh, Director of Library Services said, “The words that came to the top of mind when describing Maureen are tenacity, stubborn, tireless and unflagging.” He continued by saying that she was very deserving of the honor.

Greens resident Bobbie Muir, President of the Friends of the Library said, “Maureen’s determination about the library was about her community and everyone else.”

Friends of the Library Member and Westchase resident Bob Argus recalled the early days when the library was still a dream. “Maureen saw this plot of land on Countryway and became convinced that the library needed to be on this spot. She went to the CDD and convinced them to de-annex the land so that they would no longer collect taxes on it. It was the first time that had been done in Florida.”

Gauzza’s husband Charlie thanked everyone for coming and said that his wife would have been proud and humbled. “Maureen’s dream in 1998 was to have a beautiful library in the neighborhood. She had many friends and contacts who helped her achieve her dream.”

Charlie said that even after the library was built, Maureen continued to look for ways to improve it and make it a jewel in the community, from having the gazebo built to convincing Citrus Park Mall representative to donate statues. “From the whole family, we are very grateful to you for enabling her legacy to live on forever,” he said. “Thank you.”

By Marcy Sanford


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WOW in Hawaii and Canadian Rockies

WOW continued its far-flung travels with recent stops in Canada and Hawaii.

One of WOW’s favorite recent trips was its opportunity to travel to Hawaii with dozens of Alonso’s most talented students. The band was selected to participate in the annual Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony. In Hawaii, the band performed two 30-minute concerts, including one on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri battleship, where Alonso band parent Sandy Anderson took this photo of them holding WOW. WOW gives a special, proud shout out to these band kids for representing Westchase proudly at such an  important event!

Earlier in September, as Hurricane Irma was preparing to hit Florida, Jill and Scott Yantzer were safely far north with WOW in the Canadian Rockies. “The Lake O'Hara area in Yoho National Park shown in these pictures has limited access and we were very lucky to score tickets on the hiker shuttle bus four months before our visit,” wrote Scott Yantzer.

“We were very fortunate to have a smoke-free day as Canada had a record wildfire season,” Scott added. “In fact, the next park we had planned to visit, Waterton Lakes, was evacuated days before we were scheduled to arrive due to fire, which roared through the park destroying the visitor's center and 70 percent of the forested land.”

The Canadian Rockies are famous for their majestic peaks and their lakes with their eerie turquoise color. The lakes are glacially fed and the fine silt that the glaciers grind up as they progress down the mountains flows into the lakes. It remains suspended in the lake water for months, reflecting the sun and giving the lakes their famous tint, which fools some tourists into thinking that they’ve been dyed. The lake color is at its height in July and August and fades through the fall as the silt settles to the lake bottoms.

We thank the Alonso band (and Sandy Anderson) and the Yantzers for sharing their trips with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Spring Break Trips!

Please remember to take WOW or WOW Northwest with you on your spring break 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 with a few sentences about your trip and the location of the photo(s).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Going Above and Beyond

Community Development District (CDD) staff member Livan Soto knows Westchase like the back of his hand.

He daily goes above and beyond to keep our community parks, common areas and ponds in excellent condition.

Soto also went above and beyond to make a better life for himself when he left his home in Cuba in pursuit of the American Dream. The harrowing trip that lasted five days on the open seas in a catamaran with 11 other defectors was well worth it, he said. What he shares causes the listener to realize how fortunate they are.

Soto recalls his childhood as a happy one. His brother and he would play outside all day when they were not in school. “My home was two miles from the beaches so as a child, it was amazing,” he recalled.

His mother worked in the accounting department for the education system while his father worked as a field technician for Canon. “But as you get older, you realize the hard time your parents have just bringing food to the table,” he said.

Soto explained there was not access to the internet or any news outlets outside of Cuba. They had only two television channels, whose broadcasts were censored by government officials. Any news of the U.S. was always negative. “They never told the truth about the United States,” he explained.

Soto said as seniors graduated from high school, they had two choices. They could go to another school far away to attend classes during the day and then work on a farm in the afternoons or they could attend a technical school for five years. “I don’t like to be far from my family so I chose technical school, even though I didn’t like it,” he recalled.

Once he finished, he went to work with his father at Canon as a technician repairing copy and fax machines. He made what equates to five dollars a month. Soon he started to consider what other family members already living in the United States were telling him. “They would send money and clothes to us and tell us we needed to come to the United States.”

Though he made so little, Soto began saving his money.

He had a friend outside of Cuba who could get him in contact with someone who could help him get out. He never told his parents of his plan until just before he left because he did not want to worry them. After managing to save $6,000 for the escape, his last day in Cuba was Nov. 21, 2003. He told his employer he was going on vacation and went to tell his parents goodbye. “That was hard and they told me to be careful. But they never said don’t do it,” he shared.

It wasn’t until he arrived at the pickup location that he realized they would sail the seas in a catamaran. That was a better alternative than some people used, however. Soto explained that he had friends who died in their attempts when they tried tying inner tubes together to make the trip or even converting cars to boats. For five days, they slept at night and talked all day. With food and water onboard, there was not room for much else. They were constantly looking around in fear of being caught. During the last night, a violent storm set in. “It felt like the catamaran was going to split,” he said.

Fortunately, they made it safely to the Virgin Islands. They went straight to the Immigration Department, where they were given legal documents stating they would be allowed to stay for one year. From there, they took a plane to Miami. “It was so amazing to finally be here and see my family waiting for me.”

Although he couldn’t speak any English at the time, he obtained a work permit and landed a job loading trucks for $7.50 an hour. “Then I realized I did not like Miami. It’s like Cuba with money,” he said.

Eventually, he and his wife Addry, who came with him from Cuba, moved to Tampa. Fortunately, leaving Cuba was easier for his parents when they came three years ago under a Family Reunion Visa. His son Brayan, now 16, was born in Cuba and he lives here now as well. Soto and Addry are also parents to 10-year-old Brad, who was born in the U.S.

Soto couldn’t be happier with his CDD position. “When I go to work, I like to be happy. I love it here and I’m so happy with this community,” he said. And he has no regrets about the decision to make the U.S. his home. “Nothing is stopping you here,” he said. “You follow your dreams and you get what you want.”

By Lisa Stephens

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


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CDD to Replace West Park Village Street and Traffic Signs

In February CDD Supervisors signaled that a change is coming to West Park Village.

Addressing West Park road signage’s non-compliance with state and county sign codes, the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) voted to replace it in coming months.

West Park Village, like Radcliffe and Harbor Links/The Estates, features decorative street signage that differs from Hillsborough County’s standard signs. When installed during the village’s construction at the turn of the millennium, West Park’s signs complied with then county and state codes.

No more.

“We can’t use the existing signs,” CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte told supervisors at the February meeting. “The code has changed.”

According to Whyte, there is an additional issue. The signs with the streets’ names are losing their reflectivity, making them difficult to read at night.

After several months of discussing the best way forward, CDD supervisors voted at their Feb. 6 meeting to replace West Park’s street and traffic signs. Complying with existing codes is necessary to protect the district from liability claims despite the fact that mere inches differentiate current West Park stop signs from those required by code.

Current code also requires signs to be break-away.

CDD supervisors approved a motion to accept a bid from Arete for $134,925 for new break-away posts and signs. In an effort to lessen costs, Whyte reached out to Hillsborough County, which has agreed to provide all the street and traffic signs that the new posts will hold at no cost to the district.

The only issue remaining is how costs will be distributed. West Park Village residents are currently assessed for district-maintained items unique to their villages, such as signage and alleys. At the meeting, it was unclear what funds were available to pay for the project. The district may end up paying for the project from its fund balance, essentially loaning the neighborhood funds necessary for the work, and then assessing its residents over several years to recoup the costs. Supervisors also plan to discuss how to recoup some of the funds from the commercial property owners and apartment complex whose tenants and patrons also rely on the signs.

CDD Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated the new signs should be ready for installation in six to eight weeks.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Westchase Seniors Head for Seafood Exchange

On Thursday, March 8, at 11:30 a.m. Westchase Seniors will meet for lunch at a new restaurant in Westchase Town Center.

The Seafood Exchange Grill and Bar is a new casual dining restaurant whose vision is to serve the freshest and highest quality ingredients to ensure their guests have a great dining experience every visit. They serve a wide variety of seafood, salads, sandwiches and entrees that also include pastas, chicken, BBQ, and steak. Their full menu is available to see at Pleas.e RSVP by March 6 to Lee Mook (; 929-0440) or Diana Millman (; 749-0129).

Valentine Pot Luck Dinner As is normal when the Westchase Seniors Group have a potluck dinner, the food was great and plentiful! Also, we had a good time as we visited with each other and got to know our neighbors better by hearing some of their fond memories. We want to thank Judith Mish and Beverly Mask, pictured here, for organizing and hosting this enjoyable dinner.

Day Trips Join us for the upcoming senior day trips, sponsored by the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center. On Thursday, March 1 the recreation center will offer a trip to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the cost will be $5. On Thursday, April 5 the center will take you on a fun boat trip in downtown Tampa. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the cost will be $10. The trip on Thursday, May 3 take seniors on a trip to Tarpon Springs. The bus will depart at 10 a.m. and the trip is free.

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

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

Put Life in Your Years If you are a Westchase resident over 55 years old and looking to enjoy life, join the Westchase Seniors Group and add some fun to your life. To get emails about Westchase Seniors events, send your name, address, and phone number to or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473). It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson


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Glenfield Student Wins County Arts Contest

Glenfield resident Gigi Granger-Welch won an Award of Excellence for a photograph she entered in the 2017 Hillsborough County PTA/PTSA Reflections Arts Program.

Founded in 1969, the national program engages nearly 300,000 students and their families in arts education activities each year by encouraging students to explore the arts for fun and recognition. The National PTA Reflections program gives students of all ages and abilities the opportunity to explore and be involved in the arts in an educational way.

Through the program, National PTA, Florida PTA and PTAs across the country urge students in preschool through grade 12 to create and submit original works of art in the medium of their choice – dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts There also is a special artist division option for students with disabilities to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in the program. Each year the competition has a different theme. Students are recognized each year for their artistic ingenuity to bring the theme to life in a way that is personal and meaningful. The theme of this year’s contest was “Within Reach.”

A seventh-grade student at Walker Middle Magnet School, Granger-Welch’s photograph features a close up of a viola with sheet music in the background. The sheet music on the left is for a beginner’s song while the sheet music on the right features a more advanced composition. She came up with the idea for her photograph while practicing her viola outside the orchestra room during school one day. “I was practicing The Pirates of the Caribbean theme music for orchestra ensemble and it occurred to me that you always have to start from the bottom and keep practicing if you want to be good at something.”

This is the second time Granger-Welch has entered the Reflections contest but the first time she’s won at the County level. She says she has been interested in photography for several years now and typically uses her cell phone to take pictures and then edit them. “I like the fact that you can capture a moment so you’ll always remember it.”

Granger-Welch’s photograph will now go to the state level. If it wins there, it will go on to the national level. State winners will be announced at a reception on April 21 in Orlando.

By Marcy Sanford


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Getting Off the Grid

Federico and Antonella Giovannetti had considered having solar panels installed on their Fords home for several years.

But it was a presentation at an electrical engineering conference that made them decide to take the plunge. “Originally the idea of going green was our motivation,” said Federico, “but I was skeptical about the cost. I had thought about it, but never really sat down to research it. I was at a local exhibit from the Institute of Electrical Engineers and Tesla was there talking about their cars. There was also a representative from their solar division and that was the push I needed to learn more.”

Now the Giovannettis are more than half way off the grid. While you cannot see anything from the front of their home, solar panels on the side and back of their roof provide 60 percent of the energy they consume. “We worked with TECO to install a two-way meter so that when we need energy from them, we can have it and they also pull from what we produce. We could have installed more panels,” said Federico, “but it would not have been as efficient because of the path of the sun.”

Based on their past energy consumption, the Giovannettis say their average energy bill for their 2,800 square foot house was around $300 a month. Now their bill should be a third of that. The difference will go to pay off the loan from Tesla. They estimate it will take eight to 10 years to repay the loan and begin fully realizing the savings from the system. “We were comfortable with making the move in order to go green,” said Giovannetti.

Since the couple are now empty nesters, the thought crossed their minds that they might want to downsize at some point. Yet Federico says that according to his insurance company, having a solar power system increased the value of his home by $30,000. Even though they are not sure how long they are going to stay in the house, they feel confident that they will be able to sell it at a premium price and recoup their investment if needed.

Giovannetti added that he felt very comfortable with Tesla because they are a proven company in the solar industry and took time to answer all of his questions. They even came out to his house to determine if his roof was a good candidate for solar panels. “If I was going to install new technology, I wanted someone that would be there for the long term,” he said. 

But there are multiple solar installation companies in the Tampa Bay area that install solar panels for homeowners. 

Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, helps homeowners compare solar installation companies. Nick Liberati, Communication Manager for the company, explained, “EnergySage is like Expedia or Kayak but for solar shopping. We’ve made it as easy as possible for buyers and sellers of solar energy systems to find one another online. Our Solar Marketplace allows shoppers to comparison shop up to seven quotes online from local prescreened contractors in a way that insulates them from a pushy, misleading sales process.”

Everything from equipment to finance preferences can be stated and compared in an apples-to-apples format. Since EnergySage provides impartial content through a transparent marketplace, consumers are able to make an informed decision and are thus more likely to go solar and at lower costs. By efficiently connecting solar shoppers with multiple solar installers, EnergySage saves consumers 20 percent on installation costs and installers over 50 percent on customer acquisition costs.”

When many people think of solar panels, the first image that comes to mind may be ugly bulky panels. As in the Giovanettis’ case, however, often you will not even be able to see the panels from the front of the home. Some companies like Dow are now making solar roofs that look exactly like a regular roof’s shingles.

Giovannetti said they did talk to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) before installing their panels and that the only step they had to take was to paint the ducts to match the house. He said the WCA also had questions about how far the panels would extend from the roof but that by law an HOA cannot impede a homeowner’s use of solar panels.

As of now there are still federal tax credits offered for installing solar panels and Giovannetti said it was another deciding factor in moving forward.

“There are many different ways to design the system based on how much energy you want or are capable of producing and if you still want to be able to stay on the grid,” said Giovannetti. “It was a very good experience and we’re glad we made the switch.”

By Marcy Sanford


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MOMS Club Spreads the Love

February was filled with sweet treats and lovely meets.

The MOMS Club of Westchase kicked off the month of February with a Valentine’s Day-themed craft and play date in the park at North City Park of Safety Harbor. The tots loved decorating their hearts out with glitter, sequins and stickers galore. For lunch bunch this month, the kids helped make their own pizzas at the new Atlas Pizza in Highland Park, then enjoyed the pizzas they prepared at a picnic lunch in the park.

Mid-month the moms got together for another moms’ night in, featuring a fire pit, Valentine’s movie and, of course, cocktails. To wrap up the month the club hosted the very first Toddler Ninja Warrior at Westchase’s Baybridge Park, where the kids donned sweatbands and completed an obstacle course of fun and challenging activities.

The club also honored the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day with a financial contribution and we encouraged all our members to wear red on Feb. 2. The mission of National Wear Red Day is to help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.

During March the club will support March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to improving the health of mothers and babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

We continue to welcome new babies to our newest playgroup, the Jellyfish or “Jellies” as we like to call them. It’s made up of babies born between September 2017 through August 2018.

One of the many benefits to club members is our Sunshine Committee, where we sign up to bring meals to families who have just welcomed new babies. The meal train is an invaluable resource to our moms adjusting to life with an added member. As one member put it, “Thank you guys... we feel so blessed to be part of such an awesome support system!”

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

By Heather Dagostino


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What to Do with Cold-Damaged Plants

Record breaking freezing temperatures swept through Tampa Bay in January.

While it only lasted for a week, some homeowners realized that it had left behind lasting damage – dead-looking plants. Westchase Community Development District (CDD) Office Manager Sonny Whyte said that the CDD office heard from many concerned residents asking about how to tell if a plant was really dead and what to do if it is still alive but has frost damage.

Davey Account Manager Paul Kovacik, who handles the district’s landscaping, said the hardest hit plants in the area were Hawaiian Thai, Maui Ixora, Chinese Ixora and Variegated Arboricola. The easiest way to determine if a plant is dead? “Use your fingernail to scrape the stalk. If it is brown underneath, that is dead. When you see green, that is the part of the plant that is generally still alive,” he said. “Go two to six inches below the brown area and cut above the next lateral branch at a 45-degree angle so that water can run off of it. If you make a flat cut, the water can decay the plant.”

Kovacik added that by March it should be okay to begin pruning your plants.

If you do have to replace any dead plants, Kovacik says Viburnum Suspensum, Boxwood Holly and Indian Hawthorne are very sun tolerant while Ilex Schilling, Philodendron and Jasmine do well in the shade. All did well during this year’s cold snap and are very cold tolerant. (Check with your nursery, however, to see what our local voracious deer are eating.)

Other plants hit hard by the freezing temperatures were Firebush, Gold Mound Duranta and all varieties of crotons, but Kovacik said that you can cut any of these plants back to as little as four inches tall and that they will most likely rebound and re-flower.

“Starting in March you can fertilize and prune,” said Kovacik. “You shouldn’t need to worry about giving them extra water since they are already established. You want to have patience. Time heals all wounds.”

One resource that Kovacik recommends is the University of Florida Extension website. “You can find information for any landscaping problem,” he said.

A bit of good news? It had been eight years since the area had experienced temperatures as cold as we had this January. Hopefully any plants you do plant will have plenty of time to get established before the next record-breaking cold snap.


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Safe and Unscary Skydiving Fun

Have you always wanted to skydive but have held back due to a few nagging thoughts?

Like: can I really launch my body out of a plane? Will my legs break when I hit the ground? What do I do if the chute doesn’t open?

At iFly you can experience skydiving without having to worry about all those pesky safety issues and hang-ups. One short training session and you’re ready to go. Or, if you’re like me, one short training session and you’re ready to let the instructor do most of the work to keep you afloat.

Truly all you have to do is step into the wind chamber and lean forward. The 100-mile-an-hour winds do the rest and you can either float around or try out some spins and other airborne activities. Typically you’re about five to six feet off the ground, but during the high flight, you may soar up to 16 feet above the main base. iFly provides everything you need from a flight suit to earplugs and a helmet. Everyone was very helpful throughout the whole experience.

Operations Manager Jon Dixon says that iFly was originally started as a training facility in Orlando in 1998 but that they soon realized there was a lot of interest from people who had never skydived. “The technology was developed in the 1970s for civilian and military skydiving practice,” he said. ”Once we built the training facility in Orlando, people started asking about it.”

Now 20 years later, iFly has more than 60 locations across the U.S. “We have many non-skydivers who come in two to three times a week and treat this as a hobby. We have a variety of programs for kids and adults who want to pursue skydiving as a sport.”

In addition to individual fun flights and training sessions, iFly offers birthday parties, Scout and school field trips and sessions for people with special needs.

iFly opened in the Brandon area in 2016, joining Topgolf and Bass Pro Shops to make it a big-box entertainment destination. Now with the addition of Dave & Buster’s arcade and sports bar, you should be prepared to spend a good portion of your day exploring the area – especially if you’ve got kids with you. 

If you’re staying in Tampa this spring break and are looking for something out of the ordinary to do, consider making the drive to Brandon for daycare that everyone in the family will enjoy.

10654 Palm River Rd.
(813) 773-4359

By Marcy Sanford

Images courtesy of iFly.


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Spring Training is in Full Swing in Tampa Bay

Spring has sprung and that means it is time for one of the coolest, most accessible traditions in sports.

For more than a century, major league baseball teams have migrated to the warmer weather of Florida and Arizona to begin preparations for the season. In northern outposts, the wire-service photographs of baseball players working out underneath palm trees are nothing short of fantasyland, an unreachable nirvana.

For us, it’s an easy drive away.

Tampa Bay has long been a spring training hub with teams such as the New York Yankees (Tampa), Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater), Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin), Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton), Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota) and Detroit Tigers (Lakeland) located within an hour’s drive of Tampa International Airport.

Games are currently underway, making great choices for weekend activities, weekday diversions or spring break getaways. For those new to the experience, here’s a primer on spring training protocol:

Understand they are exhibition games

The idea is to look at young prospects and allow veterans to ease into action. Win at all costs? Not even close. It’s all about getting in work and studying potential lineup combinations.

Expect unfamiliar faces

Don’t see your favorite player out there? Especially early in spring training, it’s common to see no-names sprinkled throughout the lineup. If the stars are playing, once they get a few at-bats they are likely dressed and out the door before the game is finished.

Be smart about autographs

Spring training games are usually fertile ground to snag a few autographs, especially with the informal atmosphere. But here is the key: You must arrive early and you must be patient. This is the workplace for a player. They have limited time to prepare or make an impression. The best autograph strategy is to station yourself along the baselines or dugouts, getting the player’s attention as he enters or exits the field. It helps to actually know the player’s name. It’s always a good strategy to be polite and appreciative. It’s also handy to be a kid – or have a kid ask for the autograph. Getting autographs on baseballs or photographs has become a for-profit cottage industry, so players are responsive to giving an old-fashioned autograph for a starry-eyed kid. Also bring your own pen (and a backup) along with baseballs or autograph pads.

Use common sense

It’s usually very sunny and sometimes hot. Be sure to bring your sunscreen, and hydrate early and often.

Plan ahead

It’s better to buy advance tickets instead of showing up at the box office. Many games become sellouts and the premium seats can go quickly. Most ballparks do not permit personal coolers, backpacks, glass bottles or cans. Small umbrellas are usually allowed, along with blankets, which are handy for berm seating.

Tampa Bay Teams

New York Yankees: Steinbrenner Field, One Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa (813-879-2244).
Philadelphia Phillies: Spectrum Field, 601 N. Old Coachman Ave., Clearwater (727-467-4457).
Toronto Blue Jays: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin (727-733-0429).
Pittsburgh Pirates: McKechnie Field, 1611 Ninth St. W., Bradenton (941-747-3031).
Baltimore Orioles: Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota (941-954-4101).
Detroit Tigers: Joker Marchant Stadium, 2125 N. Lake Ave., Lakeland (863-686-8075).

A Dozen Can’t Miss Games

March 1 — Braves at Tigers, Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.
March 4 — Rays at Yankees, Tampa, 1:05 p.m.
March 6 — Braves at Blue Jays, Dunedin, 1:05 p.m.
March 7 — Red Sox at Phillies, Clearwater, 1:05 p.m.
March 10 — Rays at Phillies, Clearwater, 1:05 p.m.
March 10 — Mets at Yankees, Tampa, 1:05 p.m.
March 12 — Nationals at Tigers, Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.
March 14 — Yankees at Orioles, Sarasota, 1:05 p.m.
March 16 — Astros at Yankees, Tampa, 6:35 p.m.
March 18 — Red Sox at Pirates Bradenton, 1:05 p.m.
March 19 — Rays at Yankees, Tampa, 6:35 p.m.
March 23 — Red Sox at Yankees, Tampa, 1:05 p.m.

By Joey Johnston


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Crime in 33626: January 2018

33626 Crime: January



11500 Fountainhead Dr.

Burglary Business/No Force


10400 Sheldon Rd.

Theft from a Vehicle


9900 Brompton Dr.



9500 Tree Tops Lake Rd.

Grand Theft-All Other


12100 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drug Trafficking/Delivery


8600 Fawn Creek Dr.



11600 Maple Palm Wy.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


13900 Sheldon Rd.



W. Linebaugh Ave./ Countryway Blvd.

Drug Trafficking/Delivery


9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Vehicle


12600 Bassbrook Ln.

Burglary Business/ Forced


11200 Sheldon Rd.



9700 Meadow Field Cr.



Sheldon Rd./Old Linebaugh Ave.



11700 Derbyshire Dr.



Countryway Blvd./ W. Linebaugh Ave.

Grand Theft-All Other


14700 Coral Berry Dr.



10100 Montague St.



10500 Montague St.



Sheldon Rd./S. Meadowview Cr.

Drug Paraphernalia


Sheldon Rd./ S. Meadowview Cr

Theft from a Vehicle


9700 Westchase Dr.

Theft from a Building


10000 Bradwell Pl.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


10900 Dale Stitik Dr.



10000 Parley Dr.



12200 Lexington Park Dr.



7900 Gunn Hwy.



9500 W. Linebaugh Ave.



12300 Berkeley Square Dr.

Prescription/Drug Fraud


7900 Gunn Hwy.

Grand Theft-All Other


12500 Maverick Ct.



7900 Gunn Hwy.

Petit Theft-All Other


13500 Spotted Fawn Pl.



8400 Gunn Hwy.



10300 Abbotsford Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor


10000 Parley Dr.



11400 Crowned Sparrow Ln.



Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

Fraud-Credit Card


14500 Cotswolds Dr.



10300 Greenhedges Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle


14700 Ed Radice Dr.


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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, February 2018

Oh, February’s fabulous fakery threw some folks off.

It’s been more than a year since we ran a fake ad that big.

Course Corrections on page 71 tweaked the month’s big news –  that the Westchase CDD is considering purchasing the Westchase Golf Course to protect the community. Protect it, that is, from a bleak dystopian future when the only remaining American golf courses will have those annoying windmills that whack your ball away from the hole.

The closure of 200 golf courses annually is causing old white guys everywhere to shudder. You know how hard it is to get well-lubricated playing 18 holes of mini golf? (You’re returning your putter before your finish your second beer!) Plus, the paths aren’t big enough for all the mini golf carts they need to get their exercise.

Fortunately, Course Corrections will step in. Instead of more nasty homes and apartments (People? No, thank you!), Course Corrections will build theme parks, community nuclear bunkers, American Ninja Obstacle Courses and Spring Break resorts, the only other national “exercise” that results in more drinking than golfing does.

Congratulations are in order for Mary Ellen Selesnick of Berkeley Square, whose correct fake ad entry was randomly selected by the fake ad gods. As the result, Mary Ellen will be avoiding all the hazards on her way to dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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Westchase Artists Society Looks Forward to a Successful Year

The Westchase Artists Society began 2018 with excitement for the success of our artists and a renewed focus on interesting activities for the coming year.

In January we conducted elections of officers to guide us into new, exciting arenas in the local art world. Diana Ranstrom will continue as our fearless president and Judy Freeman has taken on the role of treasurer. The secretary position remains open at this time. We hope to reach more artists and art enthusiasts and be a positive presence in our community.

Under the direction of Jennifer Joyner, the Westchase Holiday Market on Dec. 10 at the Westchase Golf Club was the busiest yet. It featured many art, craft and food vendors, talented musicians and wonderful gift items for sale. Santa even made an appearance!

Local artists from the Westchase Art Society, as well as many other generous community patrons, stocked the raffles and silent auctions with artful baskets and unique gift experiences.

Its proceeds – almost $5,000 – went to benefit Autism Speaks, a wonderful cause which we all whole-heartedly support. We are very proud of Jennifer and her diligent, hard work in preparing and managing such an enormous event. The Holiday Market put the spirit of giving in the air and touched everyone. Thank you all who participated, either as a volunteer, vendor or patron.

The Westchase Artists Society invites all interested visual artists from the Tampa Bay area to join us. The Westchase Artists Society meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library on Countryside Boulevard. For more information, see us on Facebook or at


By Marilyn Chaulk


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Super Summer Sign Ups March 29

Conference Night is on Thursday, March 8 and the PTA will be on campus selling spirit sticks and discounted spirit shirts. Ten dollars will get you two T-shirts, and rhinestone shirts have been marked down to $20. A special spirit stick will be given away with every purchase.

Westchase will celebrate the end of the third quarter with Field Day on Friday, March 9. Our Wizards look forward to this fun day of activities, games, crafts and competitions. If you would like to be part of the fun, please sign up to volunteer!

Our spring Spirit Night at Skate World will be on Friday, March 23 from 6-8 p.m. Admission is $6 and skates are included (additional charge for roller blades). There will even be a free ice cream bar! Westchase teachers and staff receive free admission. All proceeds will benefit our fifth grade year-end activities.

Class, club and individual pictures will be taken on Tuesday, March 27 and Wednesday, March 28. Class and club pictures can be ordered for $10 each, and more information will come home regarding individual portrait sales.

Parents, summer is right around the corner! Don’t miss the opportunity to interview over 30 Bay area summer camps and programs for elementary through middle school children at our Super Summer Sign-Ups event – a vendor fair of summer fun activities. The event will be held on Thursday, March 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the MPR. And don’t worry about dinner. We’ll have free pizza, cookies and drinks for everyone. This event is not limited to Westchase families – all are welcome!

For more information, please check out our website: and like us on Facebook.

Upcoming March Events

1           PTA Information Breakfast, 8 a.m. in MPR
1           Spirit Night at McDonald’s, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
8           Conference Night 
9           Field Day
12-16    Spring Break
23         Skate World Spirit Night, 6-8 p.m.
27-28    Club, Class and Individual Pictures
29         Super Summer Sign-Ups, 6 p.m. in MPR
30         Non-Student Day


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