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Westchase Tennis Player Sees Success in National Tournament

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

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

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

By Kelly Shires

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Real Estate Round Up: May 2018

Address

Sale
Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full
Baths

Half

Baths

Living
Area

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10005 Tate Ln.

225,000

18

176.33

2

2

1

1,276

N

9812 Brompton Dr.

255,000

6

183.98

3

2

1

1,386

N

9857 Bridgeton Dr.

288,000

12

186.53

2

2

0

1,544

N

12115 Glencliff Cir.

312,800

45

149.24

3

2

0

2,096

Y

11847 Derbyshire Dr.

315,000

77

172.13

3

2

0

1,830

N

10106 Sadler Way

336,000

16

217.34

2

2

0

1,546

N

11819 Easthampton Dr.

351,000

0

179.08

3

2

0

1,960

Y

11724 Derbyshire Dr.

365,000

39

206.10

3

2

0

1,771

Y

12318 Ashville Dr.

380,000

111

172.10

4

3

0

2,208

N

11713 Derbyshire Dr.

399,900

28

199.15

4

2

0

2,008

Y

12432 Bristol Commons Cir.

412,000

72

165.59

4

3

0

2,488

Y

9618 Gretna Green Dr.

420,000

22

188.85

4

3

0

2,224

N

10760 Tavistock Dr.

425,000

3

177.16

4

3

0

2,399

Y

9917 Bridgeton Dr.

430,000

11

178.72

4

2

1

2,406

N

12011 Wandsworth Dr.

445,000

1

182.38

4

3

0

2,440

Y

11903 Keating Dr.

450,000

1

185.03

4

3

0

2,432

Y

10139 Belgrave Rd.

452,500

3

209.59

4

2

0

2,159

N

10321 Lightner Bridge Dr.

453,000

15

186.04

4

3

0

2,435

Y

10210 Newington Pl.

487,000

3

192.87

4

3

0

2,525

Y

10501 Castleford Way

520,000

13

179.62

4

4

0

2,895

Y

9626 W Park Village Dr.

530,000

39

162.58

4

3

1

3,260

N

10501 Gretna Green Dr.

560,000

79

179.26

5

4

0

3,124

Y

10418 Greenhedges Dr.

564,900

1

212.69

4

3

0

2,656

Y

10540 Greencrest Dr.

580,000

21

169.74

5

4

0

3,417

Y

Highland Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14614 Galt Lake Dr.

860,000

0

238.56

4

4

1

3,605

Y

11632 Ecclesia Dr.

345,000

1

184.10

3

2

1

1,874

N

Mandolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11208 Cavalier Pl.

390,000

4

190.52

3

2

0

2,047

Y

11244 Blacksmith Dr.

430,000

8

152.54

5

3

0

2,819

N

11672 Renaissance View Ct.

475,000

4

168.50

4

3

0

2,819

N

11610 Greensleeve Ave.

325,000

204

157.54

3

2

0

2,063

N

West Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12833 Stanwyck Cir.

509,000

4

171.61

4

3

0

2,966

Y

14120 Lincolnshire Ct.

550,000

2

171.98

5

4

0

3,198

Y

Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12215 Coldstream Ln.

305,000

2

173.49

3

2

0

1,758

N

11248 Cypress Reserve Dr.

295,000

1

191.56

3

2

0

1,540

N

11308 Cypress Reserve Dr.

328,000

35

186.58

3

2

0

1,758

N

Westwood Lakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12838 Tar Flower Dr.

465,000

26

174.81

4

3

0

2,660

Y

12516 Loquat Way

355,000

3

155.77

3

3

0

2,279

Y

12502 Blazing Star Dr.

332,900

21

193.55

3

2

0

1,720

N

12509 Deerberry Ln.

410,000

4

170.69

3

2

1

2,402

Y

14324 Moon Flower Dr.

375,000

7

148.87

4

2

1

2,519

Y

14302 Moon Flower Dr.

400,000

1

181.32

4

3

0

2,206

Y

Windsor Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11208 Windsor Place Cir.

197,500

16

155.27

2

2

1

1,272

N

11243 Windsor Place Cir.

238,000

9

141.41

2

2

1

1,683

N

Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates

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2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Erin Piacitelli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett; Photo by James Broome Photography

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Spice Kitchen Serves Up Contemporary Indian Cuisine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

By Marcy Sanford

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More Westchase Candidates File to Run in Elections

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

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

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

Flash forward six weeks and all that has changed.

District 64, Florida House

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

District 1 and District 7, County Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillsborough School Board, District 1

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Great Summer Reading at Minimal Cost

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bobbie Muir

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

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

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

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

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

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

The end result?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Christmas Giving in July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Skate, Rattle and Roll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Shannon Thigpen

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

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Scalloping Season in Crystal Springs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Eagle Project Brings Library Boxes to Westchase Parks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues

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

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

Say, with a flamethrower.

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

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

Meanwhile, we congratulate lucky Fake Ad Contest winner, Alex MacCormack of Greencrest, who will be enjoying dinner and the clean restrooms at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Davidsen’s Shane Heath Named Art Teacher of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that’s official.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He chose art.

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

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

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

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

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

By Joey Johnston

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Heather Dagostino

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Home of the Month: 9602 West Park Village Drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copper Plant or Copperleaf

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

By Marcy Sanford

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Kool Aid Crotch’s Great Adventure

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

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

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

Because dachshunds can rock a faux wood look.

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

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

“Gerard!” my mother screamed.

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

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

Too late.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“KOOL AID CROTCH!”

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

“GERARD!” my mother cried again.

Another swerve.

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

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

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

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

We fell quiet.

“What happened?” Brian said.

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

Megan gasped.

Maura started crying. “Did they eat her?”

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

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

“DON’T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could only hear the cursing.

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

He paused and the car made a sputtering low growl.

And Dad leaned over to pour more.

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

We screamed.

The girls in the next car over screamed.

Dad screamed.

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

Then Dad vanished for hours.

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

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

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

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

It didn’t help.

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

Dad marched us back to the car.

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

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

But dad wasn’t a normal guy.

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

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

LEAVE WINDOWS UP!

REMAIN IN CAR AT ALL TIMES!

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

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

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

“OHMIGAHD!” Kate moaned.

Ten minutes later it was 120 degrees in the car.

Grandma started panting.

“OHMIGAHD!” Maura moaned.

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

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

Because it was a baboon from New Jersey.

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

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

“BUT—“

“BUT NOTHING!”

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

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

I closed it and Megan moaned.

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

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

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

“Sir, there is only one way out.”

Dramatic pause.

“And that’s straight ahead.”

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

My father was not a normal man.

Dad gunned the engine into the lions’ den.

Grandma moaned.

That’s when I knew we were doomed. 

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

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

Mom moaned.

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

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

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

We still had our tires. 

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

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

We waited.

And complained.

And waited some more.

And complained some more.

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

“I lost my gum!” Maura announced.

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

As if this made any sense.

That inch of outside cooled nothing.

“Has anyone seen my gum?” Maura repeated.

Megan shrieked.

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

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

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

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

My dad finally groaned.

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

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

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

“YOUR KOOL AID CROTCH!”

The entire car screamed. “KOOL AID CROTCH!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

We froze and fell silent.

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

The park ranger took it all in.

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Stephens

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2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Katie Morello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett; Photo by James Broome Photography

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Shires Resident Savors State Title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DeGusipe has committed to play at Florida Atlantic University.

By Joey Johnston

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Filling the Zerillo’s Void

Leave it to Facebook to tell me where to eat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Melanie Casey

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Crime in 33626: May 2018

Fraud-Impersonation

5/1

9600 Tree Tops Lake Rd.

Carrying Concealed Weapon

5/2

13900 Nine Eagles Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/2

Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/3

Countryway Blvd./Bennington Dr

DUI

5/5

Race Track Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft of Bicycle

5/8

7800 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

5/8

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Battery-Simple

5/8

12100 Bishopsford Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/9

11300 Countryway Blvd.

Fraud-Credit Card

5/10

11200 Sheldon Rd.

Accidental Injury

5/10

11800 Cypress Hill Cr.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/10

W. Linebaugh Ave./Sheldon Rd.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/11

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Prescription/Drug Fraud

5/11

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

DUI

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

Health/Safety

5/12

W. Linebaugh Ave./Gretna Green Dr.

DUI

5/12

Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

DUI

5/14

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Warrant (Local Leo Agency)

5/15

Fawn Creek Dr./Antler Point Dr.

Burglary Residence/No Force

5/15

13400 White Elk Lp.

Warrant (Local Leo Agency)

5/15

Fawn Creek Dr./Antler Point Dr.

Warrant (Local Leo Agency)

5/15

Fawn Creek Dr./Antler Point Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/16

13600 Staghorn Rd.

Grand Theft-All Other

5/16

13000 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Battery-Simple

5/17

14100 Stilton St.

Grand Theft-All Other

5/17

12400 Berkeley Square Dr.

Fraud-Credit Card

5/18

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/18

12500 Twin Branch Acres Rd.

Warrant out of County

5/18

10600 Esher Wood Ct.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/21

11900 Sheldon Rd.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/21

14600 Turning Leaf Ct.

Battery-Simple

5/21

10500 Montague St.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/21

11700 Lake Aston Ct.

Drugs/Narcotics

5/21

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

5/21

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/22

8800 Royal Enclave Blvd.

Fraud-Impersonation

5/22

10900 Wetherby Park Ct.

Battery-Simple

5/23

11100 Roseate Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/23

12000 Whitmarsh Ln.

DUI

5/25

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Theft by Employee (On Duty)

5/26

9900 Race Track Rd.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/26

8900 Citrus Village Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

5/30

8800 Key West Cr.

Burglary Business/Forced

5/30

7800 Gunn Hwy.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

5/30

14600 Coral Berry Dr.

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MOMS Club of Westchase Made A Splash in July

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

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

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

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

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

By Kelly Walton

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CDD’s Golf Course Purchase Back On?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other actions:

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

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

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

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

Supervisors adjourned at 5:46 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted July 13, 2018

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WCA Board Approves Committee Members and Bids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted July 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The epicurean fate of Westchase lies in the balance.

How to Participate

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VMs adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted July 12, 2018

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Girl Scouts’ Blessing Box Fights Hunger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Joey Johnston

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New Owner? Remember Modifications Approvals

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Want to Write for WOW?

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

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

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

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

By Karen Ring, Assistant Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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West Park’s Town Center and the Golf Course

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

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

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

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

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

Over the past few weeks, WOW has conducted extensive interviews with tenants of the town center – owners of successful, struggling and even failed stores. We also spoke to the property manager of the leasing center. While the status of the Starbucks parcel was still in flux when we went to print, our cover feature tackles a lot of the hard questions. Some of what we may discovered may surprise you.

Rounding out this edition, we introduce two more of our 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholars. And we also bring you the latest updates in the topsy-turvy world of local politics. For the first time in Westchase history, two residents are running for a county commission seat. And depending upon the outcome of the last August primary, they may ultimately face off against each other in November’s general election. See page 38 for the latest.

As always, we thank you for reading these pages. As you know, quality print journalism—with a dedicated focus on our neighborhoods— is increasingly hard to find. WOW is a non-profit, 5019c3 charitable entity whose mission it is to offer Westchase-specific coverage while supporting local schools and charities. We receive no financial support from WCA or CDD fees. We make this happen solely through the generous support of our advertisers. Please tell them you’ve seen them in these pages and you value their support for our community.  

Happy Independence Day!

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Children’s Town ’N’ Country Clothing Charity Seeking Assistance and Volunteers

Started by a former teacher who saw children in her classroom everyday who needed clothing, the non-profit organization operates stores in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. There children on free and reduced lunch can “shop” for clothes twice a year. In 2017 they gave more than 10,000 outfits to children. Later this month they will be opening their first Hillsborough County store in the Town ’n’ Country area.

The new location is open at 5011-H W. Hillsborough Avenue Tampa, Florida 33634.

“More than 40 percent of the 104,000 students in Pinellas County are on the free or reduced lunch program,” said Clothes To Kid Board Member Amanda Saft. “The number is even higher in Hillsborough County – 60 percent of 200,000 children. We felt like there was a need in this county and that the area was not being served.”

Saft said that Clothes To Kids is different from similar organizations that give children clothing because at Clothes To Kids, children get to choose the clothes they want in a retail-like atmosphere. “Our stores look like new stores. The children are treated like shoppers. We feel like this empowers the children because they get to choose the clothes they want.”

Saft said Clothes To Kids is hoping people in the Westchase and Northwest areas will help the organization help area children. They need clothing donations and volunteers to help make the store a success. Clothes To Kids is looking for organizations or individuals who would like to hold clothing drives for them as well as volunteers to work in the store. Clothing needs to be clean and in good condition. Students from pre-K through 12th grade shop at the store so Clothes To Kids accepts clothing in kids’ sizes 4–16, women’s 0–22 and men’s 18–44 as well as shoes, bras, belts, purses, hats, jewelry, backpacks and new underwear and socks.

Volunteers are also needed to help sort and stock clothing and to work in the store checking shoppers in and helping them shop for outfits.

“The schools identify the students who are on free and reduced lunch,” said Saft. “They are invited to come to the store twice a year, where they can pick out five tops, four bottoms, shoes, underwear, socks, a coat in season and a dress for the girls. We are a very community-based organization.”

Groups or individuals who would like to help Clothes To Kids can find more information online at ClothesToKids.org or by calling the Tampa location at (813) 616-6430.

How Can You Help?

Clothes to Kids accepts new and used clothing in good condition and cash donations.

• The cost for Clothes To Kids to provide a week's wardrobe of school clothing to an eligible student is only $50.
• 87 percent of expenditures go directly to the program; for every $1 you donate, $.87 goes directly to clothing a child!
• More than 73 percent of Clothes to Kids funding comes from individuals like you.
• Clothes To Kids is 100 percent privately funded by individuals in our community, as well as businesses, organizations and private foundations.
• All donations are tax-deductible.

By Marcy Sanford

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WOW from East to West

In addition to far flung corners of the world, WOW has traveled from the U.S. Atlantic coast to the Pacific coasts of Hawaii since last summer.

In recent years Radcliffe’s Don and Mignon Patterson have spent the summer traveling extensively with their children Lila and Luke, always with the WOW in hand. Mignon just forwarded last year’s photos but some of their geothermal themes proved timely.

The photo of the Lila and Luke Patterson at the Halemaumau Crater was taken about 15-20 miles from the Hawaiian volcanic activity recently in the news. The crater is located in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, a park established in 1916 on the big island of Hawaii. That park features two active volcanoes: Kīlauea, the volcano whose eruptions have kept us in awe, and Mauna Loa, a massive shield volcano. Currently the Kīlauea area of the park is closed due to its dangerous activity.

Luke and Lila are also shown at Yellowstone’s famous Old Faithful geyser, which regularly erupts every 44 to 125 minutes. Perhaps the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful, along with the rest of Yellowstone National Park’s extensive thermal features, sit atop the Yellowstone caldera, a supervolcano in Northwest Wyoming. It has seen three massive, continent-effecting eruptions, roughly one every 600,000 years. They occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 630,000 years ago. Given the time frame between the current era and the last eruption, scientists nervously watch the area for unusual activity. Keep your fingers crossed because its next supereruption would likely devastate most life in the United States. The good news? Among the lower 48, the two states that are least likely to be affected are California and Florida.

More recently Nancy Pease of the Greens visited Mystic, Connecticut’s seaport. In November she held WOW with the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship behind her. In the colonial era and 19th century, Mystic Connecticut was a leading maritime port and today the Mystic Seaport Museum is the largest maritime museum.

The ship was built and launched in 1841, a year that saw three different U.S. presidents. The year began with one-term president Martin Van Buren. March saw the inauguration of William Henry Harrison, who died after just 31 days in office, making John Tyler president. (Only one other year, 1881, saw three U.S. presidents.) The year the Charles W. Morgan set sail saw the whaling industry at its highpoint as thousands of ships rendered blubber to produce whale oil, the fuel most commonly used in 19th century oil lamps and a popular ingredient in soap. It set off on what today are highly controversial hunts just 10 years before the publication of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Located at the Mystic Seaport Museum, the ship was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It’s the oldest surviving U.S. merchant ship (only the U.S.S. Constitution, a warship, is an older, surviving seagoing vessel in the U.S.) The Charles W. Morgan is also the only surviving wooden whaling vessel.

We thank the Pattersons and Nancy Peas for sharing their travels with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Summer Vacations!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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New Vet Comes to Town

West Park Animal Hospital opened its doors to dogs and cats this spring.

Located at the corner of Race Track Road and Countryway Boulevard, the practice is co-owned by veterinarians Danielle Churchill, David Gosche and Erin Hyde. Churchill said she and her husband (Gosche) had been thinking about opening their own practice for several years. “Many practices are becoming corporately owned and that can lead to cookie cutter care. We wanted to establish a locally owned place where we could tailor care specifically to the animal.”

Churchill said that one of the missions of the practice is to ensure that all pets and their owners feel comfortable and at ease when coming for a visit. The doctors and staff are working to complete feline friendly and fear-free certifications. “It is important to us that we promote a stress-free environment for pets. There are lots of cool tricks and tips you can use to help both dogs and cats feel comfortable during their visit. We book extra time for every appointment. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable here.”

In addition to wellness and preventative care, the doctors and staff at West Park Animal Hospital can perform routine surgeries, take advanced digital x-rays, and offer day-time emergency services. Churchill said they offer advanced digital dentistry and are able to perform surgical extractions when needed. They also have an ultra sound that can be used for emergency services.

In additional to making sure pets and their owners are comfortable and well cared for, Churchill said that West Park Animal Hospital is committed to giving back to their community. They have partnered with Owl’s Nest Sanctuary to care for and rehabilitate injured wild life. Recently they cared for a soft-shell turtle who had been hit by a car. Churchill said the turtle had lots of eggs, which she laid while being cared for at the clinic. “We took care of both mom and her eggs. It was a great experience.”

West Park Animal Hospital is located at 11659 Countryway Blvd. For more information visit http://www.westpark.vet

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Village Voices: Radcliffe

There’s a lot of recent activity in the amount of new for sale signs in the neighborhood. Got a couple inquiries about our mailboxes, and I guess it’s time to refresh for all Radcliffe residents. We have very specific requirements.

Section 4.1.5 of the Residential Community Guidelines states that all neighborhoods shall maintain a common standard mailbox. For Radcliffe this means among other things that our mailboxes will be constructed of aluminum with stainless hardware and shall be purchased through Metalcraft Industries, Inc., located at 120 Cypress Road, Ocala, FL 34472. Furthermore, all mailboxes shall be bronze aluminum (not black) with the Westchase logo. Numbers must be added on in brass. Replacement numbers can also be obtained from Metalcraft. Contact Robin Liles at http://www.metalcraftindustries.net by ph,one at (888) 609-3779, or fax at (888) 242-0652. A replacement number set can be obtained for $31, tax included.

Also, if your box is showing its age, Robin can also quote you a reasonable price for a replacement. Metalcraft has a maintenance team in Tampa weekly, and they are easy to deal with.

By Keith Heinemann, Radcliffe Alternate VM

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Public Notice of Guideline Changes

At their July 10 and Aug. 14 meetings, Westchase Voting Members will consider a community-wide change to roofing material rules and a neighborhood specific guideline amendment for The Vineyards.

Community-Wide Roof Materials Guideline Amendment

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

The change to the existing roofing materials guideline follows:

Composition

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

Specifications

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

Colors

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

Styles

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

Proposed Paint Palette Guideline for The Vineyards

The following guideline amendment was approved by The Vineyards subassociation. To be adopted it now has to be considered and approved by a supermajority of VMs for a second time at the July 10 VM meeting. The amendment follows:

1. Color palette was revised in 2008. Vineyards homes must be painted every seven (7) years. All exterior painting/repainting of homes must be submitted for approval to the Vineyards Architectural Review Committee. Mod request form is on website. If ARC approves, form is sent to WCA MC for final approval. If ARC does not approve, homeowner is contacted.
2. Approved exterior paint colors are on the website http://www.westchasevineyards.org and in spreadsheet titled Vineyards Master Color Palette 2008-06.
3. Only those exterior paint colors which are listed on spreadsheet are permitted. Any paint manufacturer may be used so long as color is matched to the approved Sherwin Williams paint color.
4. A minimum of three (3) and maximum of four (4) paint colors are permitted per unit. One color must be declared the house body color. For 3 colors – body, trim, shutters and front door (if painting the same color), OR for 4 colors – body, trim, shutters, front door. Coach lights are not considered in either number (see below #9).
5. Any siding must be painted body color only.
6. Home additions must be painted the same color as the existing body. Existing body colors no longer on the color palette will be grandfathered in for home addition painting only. If the existing portion of home needs repainting at time of construction, than an approved color from the current palette must be selected for the entire home.
7. Body colors shall not be the same color as adjacent homes and/or directly across the street.
8. Only three (3) Trim and Garage Door colors are approved: Pure White; Extra White; or Ceiling Brite White
9. Only four (4) Coach light colors approved: Pure White; Extra White; Ceiling Brite White or Tricorn Black
10. There are 3 colors that are on the door/shutter color palette that are ONLY for doors: Red Bay, Tanager and Rave Red. These 3 colors cannot be used for shutters.
11. Shutters and front door have approved colors different from body color. Shutters and front door can be different colors as long as they are on our palette.
12. Front porch concrete shall be maintained and if painting new, it must be done as the same color originally used by the developer, known as “battleship gray.” Closest color is SW-7023 Requisite Gray. Painting not required for porches that have pavers.
13. Pillars/Rails don’t need to be painted however, they must be kept clean
14. Sheen of paint shall not exceed semi-gloss for the body/wall.
15. Definitions:
• Body/Wall – Wall, siding, patio/porch ceilings, utility connections, cable and phone boxes, solar piping on wall
• Trim and Garage doors– Soffit, gutter, contrasting border around windows, includes side garage door if applicable to your home
• Front doors and shutters (faux shutters around windows and/or on body wall)
• Coach lights – at garage doors

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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West Park Village Town Center: a Looming Ghost Town?

In recent years, the West Park Town Center, at the intersection of Montague Street and Linebaugh Avenue, has been notable not for its store openings.

It’s seen a stream of store closings.

In the last two years, a fruit fondue establishment opened and closed within months.

Starbucks, arguably the commercial center’s anchor, built a new establishment in the Costco plaza. After months of denied rumors about its West Park location, it shuttered in February, its windows quickly covered with brown paper.

In June Donna and John Woelfel, Proprietors of The Olive Tree, would have celebrated its fifth anniversary. On May 2, the couple sent their regulars an email. “Over the past eight months circumstances at West Park Village have deteriorated to the point that it was extremely difficult to continue operating our business. As a result, we decided that it was in our best interests to move on and focus our efforts on our Wesley Chapel store.”

Now two other proprietors, Southern Bay Bakery and Painting With a Twist, admit to struggles. Jennifer Bobrovetski, owner of Painting With a Twist, says they’ll be unable to renew their lease next summer unless something significantly changes. “If this is not the kind of business that Westchase is interested in supporting, than we just won’t make it,” she stated, pointing out she has as many customers from Oldsmar as she does her surrounding community.

On social media, theories about the closures abounded in recent months. The rents are too high, some argued, blaming Westchase Community Development District (CDD) assessments on the properties. Some, including proprietors, pointed to the lack of community support. Others flat out blamed Starbucks for playing spoiler.

Starbucks: An Outsized Impact

Getting anyone to talk on the record about Starbucks’ departure was a challenge, yet every one of the struggling businesses placed a good portion of the blame for the town center’s recent struggles on the coffee shop’s relocation – and suggested Starbucks’ refusal to fully vacate the premises was placing a drag on the center’s other tenants.

Katrina Williams of Carroll Management’s West Park Town Center leasing office observed in late May, “Starbucks has us in limbo right now.”  She added, “They’re still paying rent on that space.”

It was a shrewd move for Starbucks. By keeping out coffee shop competitors who have expressed interest in the space, it compelled Westchase folks looking for their caffeine fix to go elsewhere, many of them to Starbucks’ new drive-through in the Costco Plaza.

With their lease still intact, Starbucks also directly impacts sales at Southern Bay Bakery

“Because of the lease, we can only do 10 percent in coffee sales in a month,” stated the bakery’s owner, Haylee Beach Shaddock. Beach Shaddock added the Starbucks’ lease forbid other businesses in the center from selling espresso-based drinks.

“To my understanding, Starbucks would like to do that until 2021,” she said.

Beach Shaddock added, “The leasing office is trying to do everything they can.” She added, “Hopefully the leasing office will have the space back at the end of this month. And the coffee exclusivity that Starbucks had will be gone.”

The ability to sell more coffee and espresso drinks, she said, would be key to her bakery’s survival.

Carroll’s West Park Property Manager, Clint Snouwaert, who was named the leasing center’s manager in January, stated he was unable to comment on the matter but acknowledged the leasing center was working to exercise its right to reclaim the vacant anchor space despite Starbucks paying the rent. “I really was told not to speak on this,” he said, adding that he might have news about a new tenant for the space later in June.

Snouwaert added, referring to Starbucks, “Even before they were moving out, we were working on a solution for it.” He stated that the solution has taken time but the leasing office understands the importance of filling the anchor spot. “We know it’s good for the other retailers. We know it’s good for the residents,” he said. “We’re working to get it filled as soon as possible.”

For John Woelfel, Starbucks’ closing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. “That killed our foot traffic,” he said. “That business was critical to that community. That gave us a lot of exposure.”

“A lot of regulars in the area stopped coming,” Beach Shaddock agreed. “They’ve slowly come back but they’re not around as much.”

One rumor Snouwaert wanted to tamp down concerning Starbucks departure?

The leasing office didn’t raise Starbucks’ rent. The company had a number of years left in its 10-year lease.

Other Tenant Complaints

Woelfel stated he regretted their plans to expand The Olive Tree by opening a gourmet market. The plan was to get an alcohol permit to permit the store to sell select wines. When the couple signed the lease, Woelfel said they were told the parcel was wet-zoned. When the couple went to get a county permit, they discovered it wasn’t. Woelfel added that when they approached Carroll Management and requested they share the costs of wet-zoning the parcel, the leasing office declined. With Publix opening a liquor store and the newly opened Costco offering a wide selection of wines, the Woelfels decided it made no sense to spend the money for the alcohol permit.

Woelfel added another frustration about the leasing office. “The maintenance was just horrible. When you called to get something done, nothing was ever done with it,” he said.

When WOW asked Catherine Ansel of Couture, the other anchor store owner in the center about the town center’s maintenance, she initially responded with a frustrated grunt. “Ugh,” she said, before adding. “It’s fine. Let’s just say that.”

When asked if she thought the center’s maintenance was handled well, Beach Shaddock “Yes and no. Some things they move very quickly on. Other things they do not move very quickly on.” The bakery owner noted that her exterior commercial sign broke last year when they attempted to change the bakery’s name on it. “We still don’t have a sign,” she said. “Things like that are just a little frustrating.”

Snouwaert, however, insisted his office strives to be responsive. “The only complaint I’ve got that I’m working on this week is old signage issues that need to be removed,” he said. “I don’t get a lot of complaints about maintenance issues.” He added, “Most of the concerns are about the vacant Starbucks space. We’re more than happy to fix things.”

Woelfel also said that Carroll Management, which owns many residential apartment properties across the U.S., lacks experience with commercial centers as most of Carroll’s complexes don’t have them. For one, Woelfel said, he was frustrated that the center never advertised or promoted the center and its businesses.

Snouwaert acknowledged that few of Carroll’s properties have a commercial component. “We primarily focus on residential. This property is unique in that it has a retail factor,” he said, adding “This is one of our larger properties.”

Their West Park Village office manages over 600 apartments in addition to the retail space.

Addressing Woelfel’s complaint that the company didn’t advertise the complex, Snouwaert said they did promote the businesses among their apartment residents – an assertion Beach Shaddock agreed was accurate. Snouwaert said that Carroll also advertises its apartments and townhomes. As for the businesses? “To be honest, I believe they are responsible for their advertising,” said Snouwaert. “We’re a landlord that manages space. We don’t run the businesses. Each of the retailers is responsible for running and managing their business.”

Rents: Are They Too High?

WOW inquired whether the Westchase CDD’s assessments led to higher rents on the commercial properties but not a single tenant interviewed said that rents were out-of-line for the area or too high. In addition to rent, tenants pay taxes and maintenance fees, referred to CAM fees. All said the total commercial fees, tax included, came to just over $30 per square foot annually.

Only Beach Shaddock observed that the rent she was paying for her Westchase location was markedly higher than what she’s paying for her St. Petersburgh bakery.

“It’s high,” Ansel said of her rent, “but I think it’s comparable to other nice plazas.”

For comparison, Woelfel stated that their current commercial space in farther out Wesley Chapel is equally expensive. He downplayed the rent issue as the cause, pointing to the failed expansion as the real financial burden. “It definitely was a mistake,” he said.

Yet, it’s a commonly heard observation – that Westchase CDD assessments push rents so high that they put undue pressure on the tenants and leave Westchase retail space vacant.

To test the assumption, WOW spoke to Tom Brubaker, a commercial Realtor with Tam-Bay. “They’ve had this problem in this center before,” he said. “When the market crashed, they lowered rents. And,” he added, referring to existing tenants paying higher rents, “that pissed off everyone in the complex.”

From Brubaker’s perspective, Carroll Management might temporarily prefer vacant spots than hold a fire sale.

Yet an annual square foot rental price of just over $30 doesn’t appear to put the West Park Village Town Center’s rents out of line with nearby complexes – even those whose owners don’t pay CDD assessments.

Brubaker shared typical rents in comparable complexes with retail stores. Among those that are also assessed by the Westchase CDD are the western part of Westchase Town Center, holding  5/3 Bank, Jersey Mike’s and Chipotle. That area charges $34 per square foot plus an additional unknown CAM charge. The eastern side of Westchase Town Center, holding Maloney’s and World of Beer, charges $29 plus an estimated $9 per square foot CAM fee.  That’s breaks $40 per square foot, tax included.

The least expensive CDD-assessed retail strip?

The Village Plaza at Westchase, the home of Mother’s, Surf Shack, Froyo and Surf Shack, charges $21 with an $8.50 square foot CAM. With the 6.8 sales tax on commercial rents, even this plaza reaches an equivalent to rents reportedly paid in West Park Village Town Center.

What about non-CDD assessed plazas’ rents?

According to Brubaker, Citrus Park Crossing, the complex between Firestone and DQ and holding BedPros and AT&T, has square foot rents of $24 annually, plus a $6.48 square foot CAM, an equivalent rent when tax is included.

Citrus Falls Commons, the home of Grille 54 and Mellow Mushroom, has a square foot rent of $20 plus $7.76 CAM. With tax, it comes in just shy of $30. The Winn Dixie shopping center at Race Track Road and Nine Eagles Drive has rents of $27.48 per square foot, CAM and tax included. Yet it’s surrounded by markedly fewer homes within a five-mile radius.

The only noticeably lower Northwest retail plaza with lower rents lies adjacent to the abandoned Sweetbay on the corner of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh Avenue. The home of Focus Nails, Super Cuts and My Gym, its rents are $20.16 per square foot, everything included. Yet its tenants have to contend with a perpetually empty anchor store that, Brubaker mentioned, Sweetbay was purposefully keeping vacant to reduce local competition.

In short, CDD assessments don’t appear to be significantly increasing West Park Village Town Center’s rents over rents in nearby retail plazas.

Community and Business Support

“As the owner of Painting with a Twist, we are struggling,” said Bobrovetski. “And whenever a business closes, everyone is so quick to say it's because the rent is high.  But in reality, it's not the rent. It's the community.”

“If the community doesn't support its small businesses, it doesn't really matter how much the rent is, they aren't going to survive,” said Bobrovetski.  “Westchase residents need to support their small businesses and in return those small businesses support the community,” she said, emphasizing their support of local schools and charitable groups.

Woelfel also pointed to a lack of community support – not the CDD fees – as prompting the closing of The Olive Tree. “I felt the Westchase community let us down,” he said. Woelfel detailed their investments to create a high-class retail environment. “It was done the right way. It just wasn’t supported.”

He added that cooperation in the center itself from fellow businesses was lacking, saying that commercial owners  once tried to have a tenants’ meeting but only six of the 20 business owners bothered to show up. This lack of cooperation, Woelfel said, made it hard to plan events, a challenge worsened by the CDD’s refusal to allow businesses to use the Montague Street green for for-profit events and the leasing office’s penchant for last-minute event planning.

When asked if she felt that Westchase residents supported local businesses enough, Beach Shaddock, said, “Yes, in a way. But I think they could do a little better supporting local businesses.”

While Beach Shaddock acknowledged she needs to do a better job at getting word of her bakery out, she said there were great benefits supporting local bakeries over commercial bakeries in supermarkets like Publix. “You’re buying quality, fresher ingredients from us.”

If residents thought about it more, she added, they’d feel uncomfortable with the fact that commercial bakeries leave things like cupcakes with buttercream frosting – supposedly made with butter that requires refrigeration – out on display for hours. “If you are wanting to pump your body with preservatives, go to Publix and fill your body with their cakes and cupcakes,” she said.

Does Carroll Management see a problem with community support of the complex’s stores? After some thought, Snouwaert said that he’s only been on site since January, but he’s actually been impressed with the number of community events he’s seen that use the town center as their focus, like The Great West Chase and the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Santa Parade. “I think there is more in the Westchase community than other communities,” he said.

Town Center Success

It’s not uncommon for some Westchase residents, upon seeing a new business open up in Westchase commercial areas, to trade snarky estimates on how long they think the business will last. “We would have customers who would come in and tell us, ‘You’ll never make it here. This a revolving door here.’” said Woelfel. “How would you like to hear that?”

Woelfel added with frustration, “And to have that happen to us five years later and see the people who left and see it become a revolving door.”

Yet there are tenants that have clearly defied the revolving door. Catch Twenty-Three is an original tenant as are Bright Eyes Vision Care, the YMCA as well as a financial advisor and dentist. Woof! Here It Is, a pet supply and grooming store has been open eight years (with a previous dog store and bakery open in the same spot two years prior to that).

Meanwhile Couture Designer Resale Boutique, the town center’s other anchor on the corner of Montague and Linebaugh, is also an original tenant. Its owner moved her smaller store to the larger anchor spot when her business grew in West Park Village. Owner Catherine Ansel consigns previously owned designer apparel, shoes, bags and jewelry. Last year, she said, the store hit $3 million in sales and now has 10 employees, with 55-60 percent of her business done online.

“We have a lot of repeat customers from over the years and we have new customers. We’re pretty busy most of the time,” Ansel said. “People come from all over the place.”

Half of her rented space customers don’t even see. She reserves it for stock, preparing and shipping packages and even a photo room, to get pictures of her consigned items for posting online.

A look at her Internet presence makes clear Ansel has mastered online promotion and advertising. Yet when asked what she attributes her success in the town center to, she said, “Merchandise and service. We offer luxury at a discounted price.”

Ansel added, “We reach out to the community very often. We do parties. And we do marketing online.”

A steady advertising budget is also key to her business’ success. “We also spend tons of money so everyone can find us.”

“We’ve grown over the years and keep growing,” said Ansel. “We’re very fortunate.”

What Next?

What will the post Starbucks West Park Town Center look like?

Late in May, Snouwaert said, Carroll Management approved the paint swatches that were applied around the former Starbucks entrance some weeks ago. That pattern will eventually cover the entire retail complex with Catch 23 and Irish 51 perhaps featuring different end-cap colors.

The exterior of the 600 apartments will also see repainting, with Snouwaert stating he hoped that the commercial storefronts would begin being repainted around the third week of June (after WOW deadline).

As for what might fill the empty storefronts?

“I do know there’s interest in some of those spaces,” said Snouwaert, “but I can’t say who or what or timelines or anything like that.”

Snouwaert added some good news. He acknowledged that there is interest in the Starbucks spot. And he promised he will announce the new tenant as soon as he is able.

In the meantime, the business owners in West Park Town Center invite residents to stop by – because, they say, it’s in your interest too.

“If you don’t support small businesses, then you have a big ghost town,” Bobrovetski said. “And then it affects your real estate values. I think it has such a domino effect, and I don’t think people realize it.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

WOW thanks Tom Brubaker of Tam-Bay Realty for sharing the commercial real estate data used in this article.

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Meet Bella and Luka!

Bella and Luka reside in their “furever” home with retirees Kathy and Marty Spolarich in West Hampton.  These two domestic short-hair cats are littermates born in April 2007 and adopted later that year from the rescue organization Cats Are Tops. 

Bella and Luka love to prowl their home’s lanai enclosure searching for lizards and bird/squirrel watching. (They get into trouble when they bring the lizards back in the house.)  They have many toys to play with and enjoy napping and sleeping with their parents.

Life is good!

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Westchase Q and A: Celebrating the Fourth

We asked Westchase residents, “How do you celebrate Independence Day?”

Steven and Hailey Black, The Greens

We're originally from Pittsburgh and usually head for Pennsylvania this time of year. We want the kids to stay connected to the family up there and to enjoy our family roots. We try to get to a Pirates game. It's usually cooler up there and if we’re lucky, we'll have lightning bugs for the little ones to see. Of course, we'll have a picnic on the Fourth. I'm sure we'll have sparklers for the kids and watch a fireworks show, but it's mostly about relaxing and just enjoying being with family.

Kelli Bradley, The Enclave

We are definitely "fireworks people." Our kids are 3½ and 6 they love them too. Every year we try to go someplace different to watch. This year we decided we wanted to go to Washington, D.C. for the Fourth. It's been on our bucket list for a long time and the kids are old enough now that they'll enjoy it. Our son was watching A Night At The Museum on TV and said, "Mommy, that's where I want to go." We are really looking forward to seeing the sights and museums in Washington. I think is will give our children great memories that will last a lifetime, and I can't wait to see the fireworks on the Mall.

George Lakiotis and Dominic, Tree Tops

I grew up in Florida and when I was a kid we'd always go to Clearwater Beach to watch fireworks. My wife's family is from upstate New York and for the past couple of years she and kids have been spending the summer up there. I go back and forth. We'll all be there for the Fourth this year, weather permitting. Last year, I had to come back early because of the hurricane heading for Tampa. My wife's family has a place on a big lake. There are at least 40 camps on the lake and every one of them seems to have fireworks sometime during the evening. The best thing is the cooler weather.

Sierra and Ben Grasel, Abbotsford

Sierra: The Fourth is a big birthday time for us. Ben's birthday is July 3 and several others have July birthdays so we usually have a combination Fourth of July/birthday party on the Fourth. I make a Red-White-Blue cake and Ben does the grilling out by the pool.

Ben: I love to grill and it's great that we can have family over to enjoy the pool. We usually go someplace to watch a fireworks show. We like Channelside but we're always looking for new places.

By Phil Dean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rick Goldstein, Nominating Committee Chair

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WCA Board Revisits Covenants Committee Kerfuffle

At the June 7 WCA Board of Directors meeting, directors clarified that their mission was to treat both volunteers and residents equally.

Opening the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board meeting, all directors voted in favor of Harbor Links resident Wendy Baire’s request to allow the Westchase Women’s USTA 4.0 tennis team to use the tennis courts despite not meeting the 50 percent Westchase resident requirement. She estimated that 25 percent of the team lived in Westchase. She added that it had been reported incorrectly in WOW’s previous meeting coverage that the non-residents on the team did not want to pay the $25 non-resident fee. “I was told we could not play and said that, ‘If we could not play, they did not want to pay,’ but if we are able to play, we will pay.”

Directors then tackled Director Brian Ross’ concerns about communication from a member of the Covenants Committee, the group that handles fines for homeowner violations.

After the May WCA meeting members of the Modifications Committee felt that the WCA was not appreciative of their work or considering their suggestions when evaluating homeowners’ appeals. Committee Member Nancy Sells sent an e-mail to WCA directors with a statement that Ross thought could be perceived as encouraging the board to give favoritism to the committee’s word over the homeowner’s word when considering fine appeals.

Ross said that since all WCA emails are public record, he thought that WCA President Ruben Collazo should send a response stating that it was the board’s policy to treat all homeowners equally and that volunteer service did not give anyone the right to special treatment. Otherwise, he said, he felt the email could put the WCA at legal risk. Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock said that emotions were very high after the meeting and that she took the question in the email to be rhetorical, not a legitimate request. Sells clarified that she was not asking for volunteers to be put on a different level than residents but said that many on the committee felt like they were under attack at the meeting.

Modifications Committee Chair Dale Sells, Nancy’s husband, said that the resident at the May meeting had made allegations against the Covenants Committee and that the committee members, “were not given the opportunity to talk.” He said that they did not say anything during the meeting because they did not want to, “ruffle any feathers.” He added, “There have been two incidents where the perception has been that volunteers’ work, opinion is not valued. The intention of the email was to ask the board to give volunteers the same treatment as residents.”

Ross said, “I’m not looking to make anyone feel bad. Lawyers can seize upon language and twist it. I agree with what Dale said [that] everyone should be treated equally. There is a mission statement that should be made that all are treated equally.”

Collazo asked the board what directors wanted him to do. Ross said he thought that Collazo could craft an email that addressed the concerns. “I understand their feelings. My intention is not to go after the committee. Just to clarify that we treat all volunteers and residents equal. There is no preferential treatment.”

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that Arehna Engineer concluded the cracks in the West Park Village tennis courts were caused by decomposing palmetto tree roots under the courts. “The ground settles and then the courts crack,” she said. All voted in favor of spending $1,650 to repair the cracks versus an estimated $100,000 to redo the courts.

Sainz reminded directors that budget season was about to start and asked them to forward any items they would like to see incorporated into next year’s budget.

Government Affairs Committee Chair Rick Goldstein warned everyone that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office would ticket residents driving through the CVS parking lot to avoid the Sheldon/Linebaugh intersection. He said the new no turn on red rule was put in place by the Department of Transportation for safety concerns. He added he was working with the county to get a no parking zone established near Seafood Exchange in the Westchase Town Center and that Wait-Woodcock was working to get no skateboarding signs posted in the same area.

Goldstein also said that the groundbreaking for the extension of Citrus Park Dr. was scheduled for spring of 2019.

All board members voted to appoint Stockbridge Voting Member (VM) Ed Siler chair of the Document Review Committee and Keswick VM Brain Loudermilk, Bennington VM Russ Crooks and Chelmsford resident Paul Meyer to the Drainage Committee. Goldstein was appointed chair of the Nominating Committee.

A Fords resident said that part of the plants to screen his air conditioner were in place and that the rest would be by the weekend. Directors denied his request to appeal his fine but agreed to to allow his family to use the WCA facilities again because of the health benefits his wife received from swimming.

A Shires resident told the board that he felt he had been treated unfairly and differently from his neighbor over a parking violation. He said that after he received violation letters noting two incidents of street parking, he called Sainz and told her that it was not his car and that she said she’d take care of it. He then got a notice that his fine had been suspended and that he was on probation for three months. He said his neighbor had the same violation but that it was taken care of with one call. He said that another association employee had told him he needed to bring in pictures of his cars and proof of insurance and that he thought that was a violation of his privacy. Director Brian Ross told him that at different points in the violation process, things were resolved in different ways and made a motion to rescind his fine and use suspension. All voted in favor.

Director Joaquin Arrillaga was absent from the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted June 15, 2018

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VMs Applaud Management Renewal; Criticize “Guideline Amendment Creep”

At June 12 Voting Members meeting, WCA President Ruben Collazo announced a five-year renewal of the association’s management contract with Greenacre properties.

Hearing they would keep the existing management team, VMs applauded.

Collazo then gave Hillsborough County’s Stephanie Agliano an award for her responsiveness and assistance to Westchase. Agliano responded,“It’s been a pleasure working with Westchase. Everybody comes together to get things done. Rick (Goldstein) has been wonderful. I appreciate this.”

Deputy Hugh Alter, Westchase’s Community Resource Deputy, provided an update on Westchase crime, describing it as “relatively light right now.” He acknowledged West Park Village had more issues than other neighborhoods with car related crimes and “car hopping.” He advised residents to always lock their car doors even if they live in a gated community. Another trend involves smash and grab thefts of purses and valuables when people briefly go into a day care centers. He suggested never leaving valuables in vehicles.

Alter also announced that residents can no longer turn right on a red light at the corner of Linebaugh and Sheldon heading west on Linebaugh. He said that people have been driving through CVS and Burger King to avoid the intersection, but law enforcement officers will be ticketing.

Related to the many complaints in West Park Village about parking issues, Deputy Alter responded that they have been writing warnings and citations and reminded everyone that it is illegal to park too closely to intersections. “I’ve written citations for that,” he said. Alter added the sheriff’s department has now been given county approval to issue citations inside of The Greens.

A vote to appoint Dan Peters to the Variance Committee was unanimously approved as was a final vote for Glencliff’s guideline amendment for driveway pavers.

The proposed Vineyards Paint Guideline was approved with one dissenting vote by Cynde Mercer (The Bridges), who expressed concern that this guideline is less restrictive than the master Westchase guideline.

The Metal Roof Committee also brought samples of various approved roof materials. Collazo said that VMs would likely be asked to make their first vote in July for a proposed guideline change for acceptable roofing materials.

Dale Sells, Modification Committee Chair, wanted VMs to understand the documents which govern Westchase and how these are used by the Modifications Committee. He explained that they do have an architect and retain if one is needed but they try to limit the architect’s attendance due to the expense. He suggested that before people submit a modification, they check their individual neighborhood guidelines first. He explained “The biggest thing I’d point out is that we deal in facts. Whether or not it looks nice is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what our opinion is. It’s all what is in the documents.”

Sells then discussed the recent issue where a Bridges resident painted their garage door a faux wood color, stating the Modifications Committee had approved a UV protectant clear coat. He said that if the committee had known the intent was to paint the garage door an imitation wood brown, it would have been denied. He also said that the committee had never changed their minds about the decision. Board member Ashley Wait-Woodcock who was in attendance said, “It was confusing because it said clear but there was a picture of a brown garage door attached.”

Sells responded, “We talked about it as a group and came to the same conclusion that everything said clear.”

Kingsford VM Forrest Baumhover, who is on the committee, agreed. “All four of us in the room thought the request was for clear,” he said.

Sells concluded by stating that the governing documents are all “living documents” and that it was time to update them again. He was requesting volunteers to serve on the Documents Committee and recommended VM Ed Siler (Stockbridge) chair the new committee.

VMs final discussion was around “Guideline creep,” which Collazo had written about in the June World of Westchase. In the article Collazo had explained that he opposes entertaining individual neighborhood specific guideline change requests (INSG)s to resolve an issue where the homeowner made a modification without getting approval first. Collazo asked VMs to stop approving any INSG that is borne out of a violation.

Goldstein approved. “I am in complete agreement,” he said. “It disturbs me when someone has a violation then asks us to excuse the violation by proposing a change.”

VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) added, “In the past, there have been people who painted their house with an unapproved color and they have been forced to repaint. This is how we stop them.”

VM Gerald Pappa (The Greens) also agreed. “We have to stay firm and draw the line in the sand. We have to stand firm as a group.”

VMs adjourned at 8:13 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted June 15, 2018

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Westchase Elementary Receives New Principal

After its principal suddenly departed on May 4, Westchase Elementary saw the school board name its new leader on May 15. Named principal by vote of the Hillsborough School Board was Elise Suarez.

Named principal by vote of the Hillsborough School Board was Elise Suarez. Area 2 Superintendent Marcos Murillo said Suarez was the top candidate based on her knowledge and experience.

Suarez has been assistant principal at Westchase Elementary for a year and a half. While she has been acting as principal since May 5, Suarez will officially take the position July 1.

A graduate of Sickles High School, Suarez earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, her master’s degree from Framingham State University and her Education Specialist degree from the University of Massachusetts. She has taught Kindergarten, second, fourth and fifth grades in Durham, North Carolina, and Watertown, Massachusetts, and Tampa This is her fifth year as an assistant principal. Before coming to Westchase Elementary School she was assistant principal at Woodbridge Elementary School.

Not only did Suarez grow up in the Westchase area but she now lives here with her husband, Joey, son, Landon, and daughter, Aubrey. “I’m elated to be principal of Westchase,” Suarez said. “I know that we are going to continue to grow and foster a positive learning environment.”

On May 4, WOW learned that former Westchase Elementary Principal Eric Holley would be leaving his position at Westchase Elementary to take persona leave. When WOW broke the news, parents at the school had not yet been informed of the change. They were notified by text and phone call that afternoon – the last day Holley was on campus.

Holley was named principal at Westchase Elementary in November of 2013, replacing then principal Scott Weaver.

“He’s a really great guy who’s worked well with kids,” Peters said of Holley. “We’re excited about whatever he’s decided to do.”

WOW has reached out by phone to Holley and left him a message requesting more information about his plans. Holley, however, did not return WOW’s phone call.

By Marcy Sanford and Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Vineyards Resident Honored for Volunteerism

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, Regions Bank hosted the Community Impact Dinner for the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA’s most dedicated volunteers.

That evening, one of our own Westchase residents was honored. Brian Simmons, a Vineyards resident, was named the 2018 YMCA Volunteer of the Year for the Northwest Hillsborough Family and West Park Village Express YMCAs.

Brian has been a youth basketball coach at the Northwest YMCA for ages 9-10 and 11-12 for the past four years. He began his journey as a coach when his own daughter expressed interest in playing. Even now that she has aged out of the program, Brian continues to volunteer his time, and recently, his daughter joined in as assistant coach.

Brian has dedicated countless hours, working with girls and boys, coaching multiple teams at a time, with many winning seasons under his belt. In addition to the regular seasons of YMCA basketball, Brian has successfully coached his youth girls' teams to bring home the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA All Star Classic tiles for the last four years in a row.

Along with his dedication, his many volunteer hours have earned him recognition from his employer, as a top volunteer in the company. That recognition has won Brian grants that have brought in more than $10,000 to the YMCA that will help fund future programs like youth basketball. One of Brian’s greatest joys is watching the progression of his players from being brand new on the court to being good enough to become starters on their middle school basketball teams, and even move on to play on their high school teams.

Brian would like to thank the YMCA for this honor and he looks forward to many more years of coaching and mentorship. His family is so proud of his passionate dedication to sports development and to the youth in our community.

By Susie Simmons

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A Love Letter to the Other Moms

In May we celebrated Mother’s Day with all the lovely moms of our club. We celebrated the moms whose relationship with motherhood is uncomplicated, and we celebrated the other moms. This article is for the Other Moms, the ones who have lost babies, the ones who have struggled for months or years to get pregnant and the ones whose desire to be a mom stays only in their hearts. Today we’re celebrating you.

Before we started trying to start a family and before joining the MOMS Club, I was only vaguely aware of how complicated it could be to have a baby. It wasn’t something anyone in my family or group of friends talked about. When my experience turned out to be more difficult than I expected, it was an incredibly isolating experience. Since joining this wonderfully supportive group of women, who share their joys and successes just as they share their struggles and heartaches, it has opened my eyes to just how many families are affected by pregnancy, infant loss and infertility. I still have a hard time opening up about what I’ve gone through, but I’m hoping to change that and, in doing so, encourage others to do the same, reducing its stigma.

The Other Moms put themselves through acupuncture, supplements, hormone injections and blood draws. They take pregnancy tests that never cooperate, they have ultrasounds that are deafeningly silent, and they hope desperately for a different outcome. What makes it all a little easier is having other moms—moms who understand what they’re going through.

I fall firmly in the Other Moms category, but I have a beautiful, healthy daughter and the support of my MOMS Club, and I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

We are always looking to connect with new moms—both uncomplicated and Other Moms. Visit http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. I know you’ll find it as supportive and welcoming a community as I have.

By Heather Dagostino

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WOW at the End of the World

WOW can now say it’s seen the end of the world.

Last December Julie Williams, a former WOW Scholar who used to call the Greens home, sent me a photo (taken by her dad, Mike) holding WOW at the end of the world. “For the past six months, I have been studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taking classes at a university with local students and conducting research in a children’s hospital,” she wrote. “At the end of my studies, my dad came to join me for a Patagonia adventure. We (including the WOW), travelled to Barliloche, where we hiked by a waterfall. We then travelled to El Chalten and hiked the mountain, Fitz Roy, that inspired the Patagonia logo. In El Calafate, we trekked over the Perito Moreno Glacier. Our adventure ended in Ushuaia, the “end the world,” where we walked with penguins and rode an airplane over the Beagle Canal. It was an incredible trip, filled with Argentine steak, great wine, and once-in-a-lifetime adventures!”

Those who can conjure up a map of the world in their heads know that Argentina is the large country in South America that, along with Chile, reaches the southernmost tip of Latin America. That part of Argentina lies only a few hundred miles north of Antarctica. In fact, many boat tours of Antarctica leave from Ushuaia.

Meanwhile the Shehu family of West Park Village brought WOW with them on a European adventure to visit family. “My husband Ermal, myself and our three children – fifth-grader twins Briana and Jorik and our third grader Tea – went to a trip back home where my husband and I were born, Albania, “ wrote Rudina Shehu. “We have visited Albania before with the kids but as they grow up we'd like to go more often so they can spend as much time as possible with their grandparents that live in Tirana, Albania.”

Rudina included several photos. “Each time we go back we try to tour other countries in Europe as part of our trip. This year besides Albania, we also visited Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Italy.”

WOW decided to share her photos of her beautiful homeland of Albania.

Can you place Albania on a mental map?

Albania is a small Mediterranean country of 3 million people. It sits right on the beautiful Adriatic and Ionians Seas across from Italy – 50 miles from the heel of the Italian boot. It is bordered by the Adriatic, the former countries of Yugoslavia to its north and east and Greece to its south. Its center is bisected by the Albanian Alps and the country is host to beautiful castles and medieval architecture.

We thank the Williams and Shehu families for sharing their travels with WOW!

Take WOW on Your Summer Vacations!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Allison Foster

This August will find Greens resident Allison Foster studying pediatric nursing Auburn University.

She recently graduated from Alonso High School with a 6.07 weighted GPA, earned over a challenging course of studies that included 14 honors courses and 10 AP courses.

The daughter of John and Sandi Foster, Foster earned an AP Capstone Diploma at Alonso, where she repeatedly was named to the Principal’s Honor Roll and received the AP Scholar Award. Foster was also a member of the National Beta Club National Honor Society and was selected to participate in the Florida Ambassadors of Music Summer European Tour during which she performed in seven European countries.

A talented musician who played the flute in the Alonso band, Foster won superior ratings in her District Solo and Ensemble Competitions and State Solo and Ensemble Competitions. Foster served as band librarian her junior year and section leader senior year.

Outside of school, Foster participated in Lumina Youth Choirs. She was a four-year member of Auditioned High School Girls Choir, Voci de Lumina, and a two-year member of Advanced Auditioned Choir.

Asked at the WOW Scholars dinner what her greatest accomplishment thus far was, Foster answered that it was performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City twice. “Music has impacted my life and choir is one of my favorite things. My parents have supported me endlessly and performing at Carnegie Hall is a dream come true for any musician,” she said.

During high school Foster earned 450 community service hours. She served as a tutor through Alonso’s National Beta Club, and also tutored children at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church. A volunteer at multiple summer camps, Foster also volunteered for Relay for Life fundraisers and local hospitals. 

Observed her service supervisor Elizabeth Ayers, “Throughout her high school years, Allison continued to develop leadership skills, practice public speaking and hone her social skills with an eye on achieving high grades and academic success. With the support of her family and a natural affinity for connecting with people, Allison has grown into an exceptional young adult.”

Congratulations to Allison and best of luck at Auburn!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

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Steve Jerve: A Calming Voice in Hurricane Season

WOW recently sat down with the Storm Team 8 meteorologist Steve Jerve to get his advice on staying sane this storm season.

Jerve knows a few things about storms. He has been a meteorologist for the past 35 years, 27 years of those years in Florida and 20 right here in Tampa Bay. He has covered Andrew and Wilma and Charley. When Irma set her sights on Tampa last year, it had been 13 years since the last true threat, Charley, barreled through Florida’s midsection. While Irma was certainly not a welcome visitor, Jerve pointed out she just might have been a needed wake-up call. “People need a personal point of reference to take [hurricanes] seriously, so they can go, ‘Holy cow, that was scary. I’m going to take this seriously and be ready next year.’”

Irma was indeed scary. The fickle storm had people running from coast to coast or out of the state entirely. Those who stayed rode out a very nerve-wracking close call. Irma spared us, but she left us shaken. For those who are feeling a bit uneasy heading into the 2018 season, Jerve has some words of advice.

Don’t pay too much attention to the numbers.
During the early days of hurricane season, many people begin monitoring the predictions for the coming months. In April, Colorado State University published its annual prediction of hurricane activity with a forecast of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, which is slightly above average. What does that mean? In the scheme of things, nothing. “It doesn’t matter the average number of storms or predicted storm activity; it just takes one storm,” Jerve explained.

He used Andrew as a case in point. That was the first storm of 1992, a year predicted to have low activity, and it was devastating. Instead of trying to play the numbers game, simply stay informed of what is happening at the moment.

Prepare your home like you are going to get hit.
“Your strategy for protecting your home should be the same every year,” Jerve said.
That means preparing for the worst.

“Don’t be paranoid; don’t be scared – just be prepared,” he added. “Start by taking an hour to survey your home and go from there.”

Decide on a strategy to cover your windows, and also think of ways to brace your garage door and front door if it opens inward. “The key is to keep the wind out,” Jerve stated.

When it comes to supplies, many hurricane prep lists suggest a three-day supply of food and water. Jerve, who has ridden out power outages before, likes to think more in terms of three weeks. He also suggested taking note of all the things in your home that rely on electricity and coming up with a back-up plan for each of those things should a power outage occur.

“There is a 90 percent chance you won’t have to worry about it, but why not just have preparations in place?” he concluded.

Understand when and how to evacuate.
As the saying goes, “Hide from the wind. Run from the water.” Irma proved that we were a bit rusty with this concept. Evacuation orders or not, people began running in every direction, many at the last minute. To make an informed decision on evacuation, Jerve advised that everyone know which flood zone they are in. Readers of WOW Northwest should refer to the Evacuation Map on pages 28-29 of this issue. By knowing your flood zone, you will be prepared to leave if an evacuation order is called.

It is also important to understand that evacuating doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the state. “If they are telling you to leave, go, but you don’t have to go to Atlanta,” Jerve said. “You can go five miles away to a friend’s house and you should have that plan in place ahead of time.”

If you are not being called to evacuate, Jerve advised that is in your best interests to fortify your home against the wind and stay put. Not only will you be on hand to monitor your property; you also avoid putting yourself in the potential path of a hurricane while on the road. And, if your preparations are in order, you will simply be more comfortable.

Listen to credible sources.
Staying informed during a hurricane is important. Staying informed through reliable sources is imperative. “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet or social media – especially social media,” Jerve stated. “Find a credible source, like Storm Team 8.”

Irma was an anomaly. She lasted seven days, three of those at Category 5 strength. Projected paths shifted, spaghetti models swallowed the state, and many national outlets milked it for all it was worth. “They don’t know Hillsborough County,” Jerve said. “We live here. Our families live here. This is what we do every day – forecast weather for Tampa Bay.”

Thanks to Steve Jerve for taking the time to sit down with us and ease our minds. He left us with this: “I can promise you that I will be completely honest with you, completely fair and not hyperbolic about it. If you watched Storm Team 8’s coverage of Irma, you know that to be true.”

To follow Storm Team 8 during storm season, download the free Max Defender 8 App.

By Karen Ring

Photo credit: Matt Larson

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Catch Twenty-Three Fake Ad Contest Continues, June 2018

It was a lemon of a fake ad.

In fact, it was such a lemon, that the editor’s brother, who suggested it a few years back, denied it was his idea when the editor sent it to him.

“I did not think up that fake lame idea,” he said.

But he did. Years ago it got written down in the editor’s file titled “desperate solutions when you got nothin’.”

And last month he had nothin.

Interestingly, Lemen’s Pre-Pre-Owned Autos (Tagline: “We’re probably safer than Craig’s List.”) on page 84 triggered a handful of readers to dub Proprietor Bob Lemen “suspicious looking.”

Despite the fact that half the guys at the editor’s 20th high school reunion back in 2004 looked just like him. (The editor skipped his 30th when none of them paid him back for the money he lent them for the cash bar.)

May’s lucky Fake Ad Contest winner, Summer Parisi of Highland Park, made this lemon into lemonade. She may even get a wedge of lemon served with her dinner at Catch Twenty-Three, courtesy of its proprietor, Rob Wickner. Thanks, Rob!

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

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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In Pursuit of Tantalizing Tacos

I’m always on the lookout for good Mexican food.

Señor Tequila satisfies, and its sister store, Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co. (recently reviewed here in the WOW), isn’t half bad either. But you know how it is. There could always be something different.

Something better.

Enter Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar. Located in Tampa adjacent to the International Mall (where the Blue Martini used to be), Rocco’s has been open since late last year. I only heard about Rocco’s recently (and heard good things), so, even though it is a bit far from home, I figured I’d give it a try.

After a nearly one-hour wait, my dining partner and I were seated at a spacious booth. Festive Mexican décor, lots of leather and wood, two expansive bar areas, and a nice outdoor patio give it a definite Tex-Mex vibe. If you are looking to drop $5,000 on a bottle of tequila (or stick with $9.75 for a house margarita), this is the place. With more than 250 specialty tequilas, they serve an array of margarita varieties and other tropical tequila concoctions, but also mojitos, frozen drinks, and house-made sangria. On weekends, bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys are just $13.

My Pama-Rita (delicious) went down quite well with the Totopos (chips and salsa, $4.50). Chipotle powder-dusted chips accompanied three salsa varieties—house, verde, and rojo. We added on the queso for a few bucks more. All were good but not great. If you want great chips, salsa, and queso, I’d recommend the Green Lemon in Soho instead.

Next up was the Chicken Tortilla Soup ($4.50; $5.50 on dinner menu). I was expecting a light, traditional broth-type of tortilla soup; instead, I got a thick tomato-based dish that was more of a bean dip consistency (we actually did dip our chips in it). Disappointing. I’d recommend the tortilla soup at Chevy’s instead, but you’ll have to drive to Orlando for it.

Thankfully, the California Fish Tacos ($17.50; $19 on dinner menu) delivered. Crispy fried mahi-mahi was served in a soft flour tortilla and topped with a tangy avocado salsa and an interesting pineapple cabbage slaw. A great combination, and quite delicious. The accompanying rice and beans left a little to be desired, however.

My dining partner chose the Wet Burrito con Rojo ($13.50; $14 on dinner menu), which was more like the size of a lasagna. It was stuffed with chicken, beans, rice, and cheese and slathered with a red sauce and more cheese. It was huge, Tampa, huge! And it was good, but way too much for one person.

The menu at Rocco’s Tacos has most of the items one would expect from a Mexican restaurant—lots of taco choices, combination dinners, enchiladas, fajitas (served on a sizzling rock, naturally) and burritos. There are also a few “healthier” options, such as a Mexican Cobb Salad ($15) or Quinoa Bowl ($16). If you are in the mood for Mexican, I’m sure you’ll find something that strikes your fancy. However, if you are in the mood for Mexican and don’t mind a drive, do the Green Lemon instead. If you want good fish tacos, go to Rubio’s (also by the International Mall and not as fancy, but their fish tacos rule). Otherwise, stick close to home with Señor Tequilas or Victoria Tacos y Cerveza Co.

They’re closer, cheaper, and, in my opinion, better.

Rocco’s Tacos
3 STARS
Roccostacos.com/tampa
2223 N. Westshore Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33607  
813-800-TACO

By Melanie Casey

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Meet Bandit!

Bandit, an 8-year-old ShihTzu, belongs to Linda and Art Partin of Bennington. A rescue dog, Bandit came to the Partins as a foster pup that was ill and previously mistreated. “But one look into his face, and we knew he was our forever dog,” said Linda.

It took Bandit nearly a year to finally come around to feeling safe, loved, and carefree. But now Bandit loves to prance, talk in humming sounds and cuddle. He even guards the car when he thinks the Partins are leaving without him. “We are so grateful to Lea Haverstock, of the Greens and her Maxx & Me Pet Rescue for providing us with the opportunity to love this precious little guy,” wrote Linda.

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Westchase Elementary Boundaries Expand

On May 1 Hillsborough County School Board voted to expand Westchase Elementary’s attendance boundaries.

The change took two parcels along Lake Sunset Drive, located off Sheldon Road across from Flippers Car Wash, out of Deer Park Elementary’s attendance boundaries and placed them into Westchase Elementary’s attendance zone.

Prior to the change, homes accessing Lake Sunset Drive on the north side of the road were zoned for Deer Park while homes along the south side of the road were zoned for Westchase Elementary. With the change, all homes and land parcels accessing Lake Sunset will be zoned for Westchase Elementary. “We wanted to have some consistency with Lake Sunset,” said Lorraine Duffy Suarez, General Manager of Growth Management and Planning. “That was the whole motivation behind it.”

Duffy Suarez acknowledged there was no public meeting about the boundary change. “There was no public meeting because quite frankly there are no [affected] parents,” she said. “The school board made the change May 1.”

Duffy Suarez stated the change only affected two existing homes sitting on 1.75 acres along the road, an area that may eventually see development with a higher number of homes or apartments. An adjacent parcel, currently owned by Beazer homes, is just kicking off development. Once complete, The Reserve at Citrus Park will hold 77 single family homes priced in the high $300,000 range, according to a Beazer representative.

According to Duffy Suarez, the 77 Beazer homes would be expected to send 15 more students to Westchase Elementary. “That’s the average we have to use for our planning purposes,” she said. “It was just a minor adjustment.”

The parcels are also currently zoned for Davidsen Middle School and Sickles High School and those boundaries will remain unchanged.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Local Students Perform at Carnegie Hall

It was the trip of a lifetime in early April when six Westchase area middle-school students performed with the University of South Florida’s Lumina Youth Choirs at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall.

The Amiaza (intermediate) Choir included Davidsen Middle School students Payton Heckman, Alyssa Kobel, Tommy Mallard, Cari Murphy and Derialisse Rivera, plus Farnell Middle School student Valerie Grimaldo.

For nearly three decades, the Lumina Youth Choirs have provided a not-for-profit choral arts organization for Tampa Bay area students in kindergarten through high school. The idea is using choral music skills to develop creativity, confidence, problem-solving skills and literacy.

As part of the program, the Lumina Youth Choirs usually take an annual trip and this year’s destination was Carnegie Hall. The students got to work with several world-renowned clinicians, while mingling and practicing with other choirs. The highlight was the combination of all the choruses—about 900 vocalists on five balconies, which surrounded the audience—and the performance of an original piece that was written for the occasion.

“It was an amazing experience,’’ said Judy Romera, conductor of the Amiaza Chorus and director of the Davidsen chorus. “I have a large mix of kids. For some of them, just getting on an airplane was mind-boggling. Going out to eat was new. A subway? Maybe they never heard of it.

“Many of them had heard of Carnegie Hall, but never dreamed they’d actually go there, let alone be on the stage. It’s the kind of thing that can change your world forever. What a wonderful thing for kids who love music, whose chorus activities are their identity.’’

Carnegie Hall, located in midtown Manhattan, was built in 1891 and remains one of the world’s most iconic and well-known entertainment venues.

Who has played at Carnegie Hall? Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Harry Belafonte, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, just to name a few.

And now, of course, the Lumina Youth Choirs.

“When Carnegie Hall was initially mentioned, I’m not sure if some of the kids really grasped it,’’ said Stacy Heckman, Payton’s mother. “But once they started fundraising for the trip, and family and friends always had the reaction of ‘Oh my gosh, you’re singing at Carnegie Hall?’ it began to sink in. They knew how special it was.’’

“My kid can be really quiet, almost non-expressive,’’ said Nathalie Kobel, Alyssa’s mother. “But once she was in Carnegie Hall and part of it, the experience brought the biggest grin to her face. She was just like, ‘Wow.’ It was a million-dollar smile.’’

Romera said performing at Carnegie Hall was a “bucket list item,’’ but the trip was filled with meaningful moments. The chorus worked with distinguished clinicians, such as Dr. Andre Thomas from Florida State University. It performed before the critical eye of judges, scoring A-ratings. And it performed a debut piece of music—“Get Busy’’—written by Reosephanye Powell of Auburn University.

“Fourteen other choirs joined in to perform this music,’’ Romera said. “It was special because it was about the things we want to represent. It was about getting busy in the community. You can’t just talk about change. You have to be the change.

“It was about the kids coming together, collaborating and using our role for the common good. It was a good message.’’

When they weren’t performing, the chorus members took in the sights of New York.

They visited Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a spot with singing waitstaff that has launched scores of Broadway careers. One of the waiters said she had been in New York for 14 years, but never performed at Carnegie Hall, so she was impressed by the Tampa kids.

They visited the 9/11 Memorial—an educational experience for kids who weren’t even born when the 9/11 attacks occurred—and were touched when they saw a birthday white rose placed by the name of someone who had perished.

They had a dinner cruise on the Hudson River. As they passed the Statue of Liberty, a perfect backdrop for their party, the kids were dancing and singing.

There was a disappointment. They had tickets for a Broadway show on the first night, but couldn’t attend because of fog at the New York airports. The plane was diverted to Albany, N.Y., but even that turned into a positive. The chorus members sang enthusiastically to entertain the other passengers.

“These are extraordinary young people with a lot of talent and very big hearts,’’ Romera said.

The Lumina Youth Choirs are seeking new members for next season. Potential choir members must apply, audition and interview. For more information, log onto http://www.LuminaYouthChoirs.com

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By Joey Johnston

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Home of the Month: 10112 Parley Drive

West Park Village Villa owner Kathy Dunn is proof the even if you don’t have a big yard, you can still enjoy gardening.

Dunn has even had something of a plant miracle occur on her front porch – blooms on her snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue. In most parts of the country these plants are considered houseplants but thanks to our temperate weather, they can be outdoor plants here. “You don’t have to give it any attention,” said Dunn. “I only water it twice a month.”

Dunn has had the plant for four years, but this is the first time she’s ever seen it bloom. “It only blooms at night and it smells like honeysuckle.”

Dipladenias and Begonias in pots provide lots of color on Dunn’s cozy porch. She said the begonia did not like the winter’s cold weather but after clipping it all the way back, it has come back to life.

In her backyard, Dunn has planted hydrangeas as a tribute to her sister, who passed away last year. The hydrangeas are surrounded Lantana, Mexican petunia and herbs with a few sunflowers sprouting up, thanks to the birds that visit the feeders in her yard. Dunn says she’ll have to wait and see what plants survive the summer heat since her HOA replaced her large bottle brush tree, which provided shade during the heat of the day, with a smaller crepe myrtle.

Dunn said gardening is a welcome retreat after a busy day at work. “It calms me down after work. Watering the plants is very soothing and is like mediation. I love having an outdoor living space. The porch here is one of the things that drew me to this villa. It is like having a living room outside.”

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

Snake Plant

Snake Plants are very versatile. They can handle low light, full sun and drought and have few insect problems. They can become invasive if planted in the ground, so it might be best to keep them in a pot. They need a pot and soil that drains well. They are most likely to bloom when they are in a container and have grown to fill it completely.

By Marcy Sanford

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Help a Child Through Guardian ad Litem Program

“I want to give back, but I don’t know where or how!”

For a growing number of Westchase area residents, the obvious choice is right here in Hillsborough County.  They have all become a Guardian ad Litem volunteer!

Nearly 3,500 abused, neglected or abandoned children are in Hillsborough County’s foster care/dependency system. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program is a statewide network of volunteers. They share the belief that every child has the right to be safe and have hope. GAL volunteers visit the child regularly, interact with the case management team, ensure the child’s best interest is represented in court, and advocate for programs and services to help the child throughout the case.

“You can make a huge impact on a child’s life,” says Kelleigh Ambs. 

Kelleigh lives in Sheffield and is a veteran GAL with 13 years of experience. She works full-time and takes one case at a time. She enjoys seeing the case through to a conclusion and getting to know each child.

Kristy McAdams of West Park Village considers it her career, managing 12 children’s cases. She also serves on the Rapid Response Team, which assesses the need for a GAL when a case first comes in. Sadly, only about 62 percent of kids in care are assigned GALS because there just aren’t enough to go around. The need for more volunteers is clear!

GAL veteran Patricia Longnecker, also of West Park Village, has been volunteering with the program for 12 years. She says that the best part of being a GAL is getting to know the kids and having a relationship with them—often the only one—that they can depend on.

Being a GAL offers independence and flexibility. There is no preferred profession or experience that is required.

Glenciff’s Tony McGlone is a newly minted GAL volunteer. He was “moping” once he had to give up golf due to a bad back. A friend asked what he might have liked to do if he hadn’t pursued his former career. He said, “I would have been interested in law.” Being a GAL has opened his eyes to the foster care system and the legal structure surrounding it.

Colleen Meloff, of Westwood Lakes, sums it up nicely. “It’s a relatively modest time commitment that brings a huge reward.”

Want to learn more? Call 272-5110 or go to http://www.galtampa.org

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By Carol Parish

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Taking Flight

Another brand new Eagle Scout has taken flight from Tampa’s Troop 46.

Congratulations to Avery Hames on achieving Scouting’s highest rank after a recent Eagle Scout Board of Review at the BSA Council headquarters in Tampa. Avery joined Troop 46 while in sixth grade and has served in leadership roles while attending many campouts and BSA summer camp at Camp Woodruff in North Georgia. Based on his love of animals, Avery’s Eagle project benefitted Pinellas County Animal Services in Largo. He constructed platforms and ramps for dogs to run on, increasing their opportunity to obtain exercise and to enhance their overall well-being.

Avery, 14, is completing eighth grade at St. Lawrence Catholic School. In the fall he will attend Jesuit High School, where he now plays spring hockey as an incoming freshman. He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and Duke TIP for his academic achievements. He is the son of Lyn and Fred Hames and the family lives in Dana Shores with their 2 dogs and 5 chickens. Avery’s older brother Alex also received his Eagle Scout rank as a member of Troop 46.

In addition to Scouting, Avery is an altar server at St. Lawrence Church in Tampa and just last year, began his own organic egg selling business. Well done, Avery!

Troop 46 meets most Mondays at the First Baptist Church of Citrus Park on Gunn Highway during the school year.

By Tristan Goodrich

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Davidsen’s Yassy Bounani Selected for All-State Chorus

Davidsen Middle School eighth-grader Yassy Bouanani has a passion for music.

It paid off when she was selected for the Florida Music Educators All-State Chorus, which performed in downtown Tampa.

“It meant a lot to me because I worked really hard and went through a lot to accomplish it,’’ said Bouanani, who will attend high school at the Academy of the Holy Names. “When my teacher told me I made it, I was very excited. After that, I feel like I started believing in myself a lot more.’’

Davidsen chorus director Judy Romera said all-state selections were made after a three-part process.

* A high-level music theory test.
* A sight-reading test, where students must quickly study 32 measures of music, then sing them before two choral directors.
* If the student passes through the first two levels, they are told to learn a variety of music selected by the all-state conductor. On audition day, they are given the music and measures to sing for a recording. All the singers are rated and ranked based on their performance.

“There are only so many seats (300 for students from around the state of Florida) and Yassy got one of those seats,’’ Romera said. “I was not surprised, not at all. She deserved it.

“Yassy is an amazing student. She’s a leader in our classroom and in our school. She’s kind, caring and helpful to everyone. And she’s extremely talented.’’

Bouanani, the only Davidsen student selected for all-state chorus this school year, began singing while at Westchase Elementary School. In the third grade, she was cast as Marie in “The Nutcracker’’ and continued with other chorus activities.

Bouanani, a soprano, has been a constant in Davidsen’s chorus program, which is three years old, at the middle school that now emphasizes performing arts.

“Yassy has been instrumental in helping to shape and develop our program,’’ Romera said. “She’s one of those all-around great kids. Of course, she has a beautiful voice. But more importantly, she’s a good student, a good human, a good citizen. She’s going to succeed at whatever she attempts.’’

By Joey Johnston

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Westchase Q and A: Coping With Traffic

We asked Westchase residents, “How do you cope with traffic?”

Sandy and Gordon Richter, Keswick Forest

Sandy: I'm a nurse. I work in Safety Harbor now and with my shifts I'm able to miss the rush hour, so overall it's not too bad for me. I used to work in the University of South Florida area and it was much worse. I experimented with different routes until I found the one that works best for me. I find Race Track Road is better than Forest Lakes probably because of the schools.

Gordon: I work in St. Petersburg and find that the traffic varies from time of day and time of year. We have a lot of "snow birds" in the area and when they head back north, things get better. And when the kids are on holiday breaks or summer vacation, it's better. Otherwise, I think you just have to deal with it the best you can.

Mike Smith with sons Levi and Landon

I'm an emergency room nurse and I've worked in a lot of big cities and I also travel a lot. Compared to many places I've been, Tampa is not too bad. On a relative basis, I'd say we were fairly lucky here. I was in Boston recently and traffic there was awful but nothing compares with Los Angles and Atlanta. They are at least five times worse than Tampa. Those places seem to be in permanent gridlock. If you can, try to avoid school hours. The people who planned our communities are trying to make this place something it's not. They didn't seem to take traffic into consideration when they laid things out. I really feel sorry for the people who work downtown. 

Alex Pinzkoski, Keswick Forest

I'm in real estate sales and buyers always want to know about traffic. I always suggest they use one of the online GPS programs to do some research. They can give you a pretty good idea about the travel time between two points. If it seems to be too long, just look for some place a little closer. The problem is everything is growing so fast that travel time today will likely change over time as more people move in. I work in Carrollwood Village. I'm usually able to adjust my departure time to after 8:30 or 9 a.m. and that helps.

Ilaria Venditto, West Park Village

I'm a full-time mom. I also go to Hillsborough Community College and help my husband in his business. The thing that most concerns me about traffic is the parking situation here in the village. People park on both sides of our two-lane roads, which doesn't leave enough room for cars coming from opposite directions. People also park too close to intersections, which blocks the view of oncoming traffic. I know people want to park as close as they can to where they are going, especially the shops and restaurants, but it creates safety issues. I think we should have more one-way streets and restrict parking to one side like they do in Highland Park. People might have to park further away, but it would be safer. We need more signs and we need better enforcement of existing parking laws. Overall, I don't think traffic is too bad if you don't include Linebaugh Avenue. You just need to be patient and courteous and that will help to keep everybody from losing their temper.

By Phil Dean

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Davidsen Hosts Sixth Grade Success Academy

This summer Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts is pleased to present a new program aimed at increasing student achievement and creating community among incoming sixth grade students.

The Sixth Grade Success Academy will be held on Wednesday, July 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at Davidsen Middle School. During their time together, future Dragons will learn helpful organizational tips, create achievable academic and social goals, tour the school, meet some teachers, make new friends and have lunch! For more information, call the school at 558-5300.

The month of May was filled with outstanding performances by the Davidsen Band/Orchestra, Chorus and Dance programs. Our Dragons worked very hard all year long and their dedication really shined. Incoming sixth graders may sample these programs through the elective “wheel” during their first semester.  

Davidsen Middle School maintains a clothes closet for those in need. Black or tan uniform bottoms for boys and girls of any size are needed. You may drop them at the front office.

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

Important July Dates

25 Sixth Grade Success Academy

By Carolyn Reynolds

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County Commits to Traffic Study on Royce Drive

Residents on Royce Dr. in West Park Village have been complaining for years about drivers speeding down their street.

Yet no actions to correct the problem were ever taken until a young girl was hit while biking to school in late April.

West Park Village Resident Tina Hall said that while the County did a traffic study two years ago, many homeowners thought that the results were not accurate since the study was done just before winter break. “Lots of people use our street to cut through West Park Village during drive time. Many kids are walking to the green square and people aren’t looking when they are driving.” Hall pointed out that the speed limit in West Park Village is 25 miles per hour, which she considers too high when you compare it to the 30 miles per hour speed limit on Countryway Boulevard. “There is a big difference between a divided street without houses directly on it and our street.”

Hall said it is even hard to leave her driveway during certain times of the day. “Drivers cutting through will give you a dirty look when you’re trying to back out of your driveway,” she stated.

After the accident in April, Hall posted her frustration on Facebook and her post was seen by the local ABC news station who sent a reporter to cover the story. Hall said the report led to increased patrolling by the sheriff’s department and new discussions with Hillsborough County. “Hillsborough County Public Works created a ticket to start studying traffic calming options,” said Hall.

One of the criteria for designating a street as having a problem with speeding cars is if 85 percent of the cars on the street are speeding. Class I means 85 percent of cars on the street are driving less than 12 miles over the posted speed limit; Class II means 85 percent of the cars are driving more than 12 miles over the posted speed limit. “It will be interesting to see what the study says,” said Hall.

According to Hillsborough County Senior Public Relations Strategist Kara Walker, now that the service request has been started, the next step will be for a traffic engineering team to come study the area and see what options there are for traffic calming.

By Marcy Sanford

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Alonso Seizes Flag Football State Championship

The frustration has ended for Alonso High School’s flag-football team.

After a decade at the elite level, the Ravens capped a dream unbeaten season by capturing the Class 2A state championship on May 12.

Officially, it was Alonso 19, Seminole Ridge 7 in the state-title game at Boca Raton High School.

“It’s what we’ve been striving for,’’ said Ravens coach Matt Hernandez, whose team defeated Wekiva 33-0 in the state semifinals earlier in the day before winning the championship. “A lot of work went into it. It’s very rewarding. We’ve been through some heartbreak in past seasons, coming really close and losing every crazy way you could lose. It’s wonderful to get it done and know we were the best in the state.’’

Numbers alone couldn’t tell the story of the Ravens (17-0), a 16-senior unit that was diverse, ultra-athletic, supremely prepared and, at times, incredibly dominant.

The Ravens won all 11 of their regular-season games, then captured the district title by defeating Plant, the defending Class 2A state champion, 20-0 in a riveting result that caught everyone’s attention.

And it occurred just one week after Alonso closed the regular season with an 18-12 overtime victory against Robinson, which just won its third consecutive Class 1A state championship.

“Two wins in a short period of time against two defending state champions … that was special,’’ Hernandez said. “But we had the type of team that could do things like that.’’

Alonso’s programs tasted success in the infancy of flag football, reaching the state-championship game in 2010 and 2011. Hernandez was convinced that the Ravens could compete at the sport’s highest level.

“A lot has changed,’’ Hernandez said. “That first state-title game, we had four plays that we ran. Now it’s, um, significantly more than four plays.

“But one of the biggest things has never changed and that’s the enthusiasm of our players. They have embraced the sport of flag football and they look forward to the competition. It’s a great group of girls.’’

Katie Morello, one of the team’s top receivers, was also Alonso’s valedictorian. That was interesting, considering that Alonso’s graduation rehearsal fell on the same day as the state-title game.

“I told Katie all along that we’d find a way for her to rehearse her (graduation) speech before we played for a state title,’’ Hernandez said. “It was tough timing, missing the rehearsal. But I think our seniors were OK with it. They wanted to finish the job.’’

Alonso’s team also finished athletes from other sports, such as basketball’s Jacquelyn LeVay and Alyssa Jones, and Letrice Hall, who captured a track and field regional championship in the shot put.

“We have so many kids who are good at other things,’’ Hernandez said. “We have super smart kids who are respected for the way they handle themselves in school. We have kids in school leadership roles who are respected for the way they interact with people. We have kids in other sports who are well-known and respected. We have kids who are so dedicated to flag football and they are respected for that.

“We have a team of kids who all relate to each other in so many different ways. It’s crazy how well it works. On the surface, these are all very different kids in what they do and how they go about their days. But then they get together in flag football, become a team and mold together as one. It has just been amazing to be part of that.’’

Hernandez said the fun of flag football shouldn’t obscure the preparation made by all the players. Many participated in offseason AAU tournaments, which had some players competing in approximately 130 games during their careers.

Hernandez prepared as well. This season, fiery Ron Perisee was added to the staff, bringing motivation and inspiration. Perisee was hired as Alonso’s head coach in boys tackle football, but he continued as the flag assistant.

“Ron was our secret weapon,’’ Hernandez said. “I call him our ‘Human Turnover Chain.’ He provides so much excitement and intensity. The players responded to that. We had a really cool atmosphere.’’

Hernandez’s experience also paid off. He learned how to build a program, teaching flag-football principles that are easily understood and executed, particularly by athletes coming from other sports.

He also changed the way Alonso played, morphing from a consistent possession-receiving team to a unit that passed downfield and went for the jugular. That was made possible through quarterback Jazmin Rhoden, a three-year starter.

“I’ve never seen a more athletic team, let alone getting to coach one like this,’’ Hernandez said. “We had receivers who go and get it and a quarterback who puts the ball wherever she wants to put it.

“We were building to this point. Having 16 seniors (on a 25-player team) was pretty random and hard to believe, but that experience really paid off. It put us in position to make the run that we made.’’

By Joey Johnston

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2018 WOW Sylvester Scholar: Joshua Cruz

A graduate of Jesuit High School, where he received a 4.61 weighted GPA, Brentford’s Joshua Cruz plans on studying biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech this fall.

Cruz’s Jesuit transcript is filled with straight A grades over four years and lists 14 AP course and eight honors level courses. (Note: Private and public schools weigh honors and AP courses differently).

Cruz, the son of Reinier and Terri Tully Cruz, racked up awards during his senior year. He was named a National Hispanic Scholar, National Merit Scholar and National AP Scholar Finalist. A member of the National Honor Society, he received The St Robert Bellarmine, S.J. Theology Award, the Richard Stephen Jenkins Award for Superior Achievement in Science and the Fairfield Book Award.

Among his extracurricular activities, Cruz was vice president of the Jesuit’s Spanish Club and served on Hillsborough County’s Youth Leadership Council. An athlete with crew, he also served as a Key Club member.

Over the course of high school, Cruz accumulated 550 hours of community service at places like the Westchase Recreation Center, The Stewards Foundation, Jesuit’s Key Club, Metropolitan Ministries and the Good Samaritan Project.

In his personal essay, Cruz wrote, “Regardless of the career I opt to pursue during the upcoming years of my life, there is one facet I know will be present in any profession I choose: working toward the prosperity of others.” He added, “I realize it is a bit cliché as most everyone wants to help others in some form or another throughout their lives; however, I feel that this drive to assist those around me is an inherent aspect of my character because it is a part of everything I do—whether it be through school, extracurriculars, or sports.”

Wrote his service supervisor Dona Smith from the Westchase Rec. Center, "He's an amazing example of what we aspire for all of our children. He sets a remarkable standard in academic achievement, devoted quality time to kids after school and during the summer, and lived up to the motto of Jesuit High School: ‘A man for others.’”

Citing Cruz’s hopeful and positive spirit, Smith added, "He demonstrates exceptional wisdom and maturity with kids, peers, parents and coaches.”

Congratulations to Joshua and best of luck at Georgia Tech!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photo by James Broome Photography

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Guest Opinion: In Defense of Oaks

Where are our values?

While there was a lot of good information in the recent article in May’s WOW on oak trees and how to take care of them, I am concerned about the general attitude expressed. There may be rare circumstances where an oak may cause a problem that cannot be dealt with because of location or disease. Removal, however, should be very rare. What are our values when a cracked or raised sidewalk, which in most cases can be fixed, is more important to our community than a beautiful oak tree?

Oak trees provide tremendous climatic benefits when they are used as street trees. When streets are shaded by large oak trees, they make a difference in the temperature of a neighborhood in the summer. Try standing out in the hot sun in July along a street with no trees and then do the same on a street lined with oak trees.

Oak trees also play a tremendously important role in helping to clean our air and offset the effect of auto emissions on Tampa’s air quality. Before Westchase was created in the early 1990’s, local development rules did not allow new subdivisions to have street trees at all. Go back and look at neighborhoods built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in Hillsborough County when no county tree ordinance existed and when developers did not incorporate street trees into their plan.

Someone commented in the WOW article, expressing surprise at the individual who was responsible for allowing trees to be planted where they are. When I worked for a quality residential developer in the 1980s and we wanted to save a large oak tree that would have been partially in the right of way of a new road, the county declined our request to preserve the tree. We were told we would have to remove it. I was taken back that our county, which is supposed be looking out the for the well-being of the community, was not supportive in saving the oak.

At the time I did some research and found out that all the rules that created the best neighborhoods in Tampa Bay were all gone – replaced by rules that promoted nothing but bland, look-alike efficiency with no thought to how the county’s neighborhoods would evolve over time. I told the county staff at the time that I would go in front of the county commission and challenge them to publicly tell me, a developer, that the county wanted me to destroy a grand oak. At the last minute the county staff backed off.

I told them I would thank them for allowing the tree to stay but there was a bigger problem inherent in the very rules themselves. The county commission that existed at that time agreed and soon they changed the rules. Now street trees are required in subdivisions and Westchase became one the first to be developed using them. A popular and very successful developer in the 1990s was Bill Bishop. Bill recently passed away, yet he was a brilliant developer who created a new model for mixed use communities that used generous landscaping, including large street trees, as part of the model.

That community was Westchase.

Bill went on to develop Waterchase and Highland Park.

My family is now living in our fourth house in West Park Village. Every time we looked at other neighborhoods we ended up just moving a block or two away. The reality is that no community we found looked as attractive as Westchase – with its heavy landscaping and tree-lined streets.

Part of that charm is clearly the beautiful oak trees found all over our communities.

These trees add value to our homes. Just ask any Realtor. They help keep our area cooler and provide shade, help clean our air, and help create an attractive, great neighborhood. Similar communities like Hyde Park, Seminole Heights, and many others have thrived. They have a street tree canopy that was encouraged by the city beautiful movement of the 1920’s. The people who live in these neighborhoods guard their oak trees with great intensity – because they realize their remarkably important value.

Removing a mature oak should be the last resort, not the first. I am very concerned that we will be undermining the very things that make our community special by making oak trees easier to remove instead of doing all we can to save them and replace them if needed.

Ramond Chiaramonte is Executive Director at Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority on a longtime resident of Westchase and Northwest Hillsborough County.

By Ray Chiaramonte; Photo by James Broome Photography

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Westchase Seniors Celebrate Flag Day

The Westchase Seniors Group will celebrate Flag Day at Rumba Island Bar & Grill in Oldsmar.

On June 14 at 11:30AM Anne Hewett, Jean Gaskill, and Janet Baker will be hosting a Westchase Seniors Group Flag Day celebration luncheon at Rumba Island Bar and Grill. Rumba's is located at 3687 Tampa Rd. in Oldsmar and features authentic island cuisine with delicious and artfully prepared creations from their transplanted Jamaican chef's wealth of traditional recipes. Reservations are required by June 12 by contacting Anne Hewett (926-5366), Jean Gaskill (746-8679), or Janet Baker (janetbaker55@gmail.com).

Tuesday Morning Coffee Pictured here is a typical Westchase Seniors 9 a.m. Tuesday Morning coffee at the Westchase McDonald’s. The coffee is free to Westchase Seniors Group members with any food purchase. This is a great time and place to meet new people and make new friends who enjoy some of the same things you do. Grab your breakfast and join the crowd. You can’t miss us. We are the “older” but “young at heart” people laughing and having a good time.

May 8 Dinner We had a large turnout for the Westchase Seniors Group dinner at the Noble Crust Restaurant on Dale Mabry. The menu is not very extensive, but if you are looking for a few good Italian dishes prepared with seasonal farm-fresh flavors, this might be a place you will want to try. Their menu can be seen at noble-crust.com.

Active Adult Activities With many children programs starting this month at the Hillsborough County Westchase Recreation Center, the county-sponsored activities for adults have had to change and the trips for seniors have been canceled until September. The new summer schedule is:

• Walking Club: Wed and Fri, 8:30-9 a.m.
• Tone and Stretch: Wed and Fri, 9 a.m.
• Yoga: Thu, 9 a.m. ($3/class)
• Ball Room Dance: Mon, 10-11 a.m.
• Chair Yoga: Thu, 10:45 a.m.
• Pickelball: Fri, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Sat, 2-4 p.m.
• Chair Yoga will not be offered until further notice.
• Light Aerobics will not be offered until further notice.
• Ball Room Dancing will not be offered until further notice.

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

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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Aging with Balance

June is National Safety Month.

What is one step to improve safety for our older relatives? Among them is fall prevention.

According to the Center of Disease Control, falls are the number one cause of injury and complications that lead to death among older adults. Adults age 65 and older continue to grow. In just a few years, the number of older adults in the US is expected to be 20 percent of the population.

Of course, aging is a natural part of life, however, developing and maintaining a level of functional fitness can substantially reduce the risk of falling. Balance and stability are key factors in functional fitness.

There are internal factors and external factors that can compromise balance. Internal factors such as vision, the auditory system, muscular strength, cognition, the neurological sensory abilities of limbs, flexibility, mobility, and reaction time influence our ability to balance and prevent falls.

External factors may include the amount of medications you take, various floor surfaces like rugs, cracks in sidewalks, wet and slippery floors, and many other environmental conditions. Footwear is another external factor.

Improving internal factors will improve functional fitness. Resistance training can help to improve muscular strength, and power. It can be done using your own body weight for resistance or using fitness tools like hand weights. Core strength, along with stronger quadriceps and hamstrings, and the ability to dorsiflex your foot are also significant in taking a step. Flexible muscles, achieved by different stretching techniques, can move through their full range of motion. That will help you to have a good stride (gait). Doing drills at different tempos and challenging movement in different directions challenge your ability to shift your weight, balance on your weight baring leg, and move with agility. Closing your eyes or turning your head to look away while standing in place test your proprioception, which is your ability to know where you are in space without looking.

This type of exercise training can be done at home or in a gym setting. Working with an experienced trainer or instructor will ensure you are using proper form and technique and will reduce the risk of falling.

By Shannon Thigpen

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

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Robinson to See New Classroom Wing and Driver’s Ed Lot

Robinson High School, home to the Westchase area’s International Baccalaureate Program, is slated for a significant construction project.

Robinson, located on S. Lois Avenue and W. Mango Avenue and Rembrandt Drive in South Tampa, has seen significant population growth in recent years with the expansion of its IB program and construction of housing developments and apartments in the neighborhoods surrounding MacDill Air Force Base. “In 2019, we are planning to open 12 new classrooms for Robinson,” said Lorraine Duffy Suarez, General Manager of Growth Management and Planning.

The expansion, which will break ground on May 29 (the week after school ends), will construct a new classroom wing in the front of the school along S. Lois Avenue,. The building will rise in the grassy area between the visitors’ parking lot at the school entrance and the large student parking lot on the southeast corner of the campus. The new classroom wing will also hold new bathroom facilities and a custodial closet.

Meanwhile, to open up more room in the student parking lot, a portion of the open field across Rembrandt Drive will be paved. Currently the school’s drivers education course uses the western portion of the student lot. Drivers education will be moved across Rembrandt Drive to the new lot, opening the student lot to more parking. .

To inform surrounding homeowners of the plans, the school district held a neighborhood meeting on May 29, from 6-7 p.m. in Robinson’s media center for adjacent neighbors to see what the addition will look like.

As for construction schedule and the future use of the classrooms?

“It may very well take the bulk of next school year,” said Robinson Principal Robert Bhoolai of the building. He added, “It will most likely be a mix of traditional and IB classrooms.”

When asked if it was the growth of the traditional or the IB program that sparked the need for greater space, Bhoolai responded. “It’s a combination of the two. Our incoming freshman IB class is the largest of its kind ever and the traditional side is the largest that it’s been since the IB program has started,” he stated. “I’m just happy the timing worked out that it can be of service to those students.”

More than 100 students from the 33636 zip code make the trek to South Tampa to attend Robinson’s rigorous IB program.

Bhoolai stated that while the new classrooms likely won’t be available until sometime in 2019, he hoped the new driver’s ed lot will be completed in time for school’s start in August. “That would be ideal,” he said.

In the meantime, part of the student lot will serve as the construction staging area. “We are anticipating changes to the student pick up and drop off,” he added of next fall. “But we should have that resolved here in the next few weeks.”

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Parenting Teens: Your Daily Chasm of Doubt and Humility

“Just had one of the best times exploring Duluth!” Number One’s text read.

Our college sophomore had flown out, on her own, in the wee hours. Now she was wandering with a friend around Minnesota, a state which once elected a pro wrestler named Jesse “The Body” Ventura its governor and which still has one of the highest numbers of professional bowlers per capita.

I don’t know about you, but having lived for six years in Washington DC’s inner city, that sounds fairly dangerous to me.

They were killing time, waiting to be picked up by Outward Bound, which would haul them northward to canoe the Boundary Waters Area. They were on the cusp of a life-transforming experience.

This is what affluent white America has come to.

We now have to spend thousands of dollars to send our children away for a week to experience real deprivation. Just so they will emerge from the tick-infested woods utterly grateful. With a squeal, they will hug their beds, relieved not to live like wild squirrels. They will finally be appropriately grateful for their cars, their iPhones and their dorm-room Keurig coffee pots, which eat $1 mini plastic cups like high school boys snort cookies.

My daughter will proudly sit in her college Starbucks in her Lilly Pulitzer dress and talk about how much she suffered in her North Face parka, properly layered over her $90 Lulu Lemon yoga pants and her $125 waterproof, fur-trimmed hiking boots.

And we will pat ourselves on the backs knowing we haven’t raised entitled children.

Only Number One threw me a curveball.

“I just did some spontaneous laser tag,” she bragged.

(Laser tag typically being an activity that an honors student carefully plans.)

“And look what I just found!” she continued. “SNOW! On the GROUND! Randomly by Lake Superior!”

Her text included a photo of the most pathetic, filthy snowbank I’d ever seen in my life (And, having grown up in Northeast Pennsylvania, I had a childhood filled with pathetic, filthy snowbanks.)

That snowbank looked like all of Philadelphia had had its way with it before turning it over to Newark for a good mugging.

And Number One was giddily excited about it.

I suddenly felt like a terrible father. I had let Number One grow up to be excited about a Charlie Brown snowbank. I, her father who grew up in the Great White North, had never taken her to see real, beautiful falling snow, which can frost and decorate the dingiest of old coal towns. My daughter had never witnessed a snowstorm hush everything and whisper, “Look how pretty I am!”

She was excited about a filthy snowbank

I just stood there staring at the picture.

What is it about parenting – about parenting teens in particular – that regularly convinces the most educated and competent people on the planet that they may just be abject failures?

At the end of a particularly trying day of parenting, my wife will often pose the same question after we’ve collapsed into bed.  “Do you think we’re doing a good job?” she says.

This from an amazingly educated, brilliant woman with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology whose work focuses on children and who has spent decades of her life reading up on the adolescent human psyche.

This is what raising teens will do to you.

“You’re asking me?” I respond.

Yes, she’s asking me. A guy whose biggest daily accomplishment is not leaping off the Sunshine Skyway after another resident has leapt onto Facebook to express outrage that Westchase’s sprinkler system got their car wet while driving down Linebaugh.

(What do these people do when it rains? Uber to Publix?)

I am entirely the wrong person to declare that any parent is doing a good or a bad job. My wife was lying beside a man still daily bamboozled by the staggering amount of crying that teenagering involves.

I survived my teen years through sarcasm. Meanwhile, my father survived my teen years by hiding behind the newspaper in a corner of the living room.

It was a highly successful symbiotic relationship.

My three daughters are an entirely different matter. They cry when they’re angry. They cry when they’re sad. They cry when they’re brilliantly happy.

Take the time one of them asked what we were having for dinner. When I responded, “Tacos,” she burst into tears.

Startled, I looked at her. “Why are you crying because we’re having tacos? I thought you loved tacos.”

“I do love tacos!” she said with a sob. “I think I’m crying because I’m so happy.”

Blink. Blink.

Where’s the instruction manual for this sort of thing?

My three teen daughters burst into tears. What do I do? 

My default is to wrap them in a hug.

“Aww!” you may be thinking, “What a good Dad!”

But I’m actually just doing that so they can’t see me rolling my eyes and desperately thinking, “What the hell do I do next?”

I am the LAST person people should be asking if they are doing a good job parenting.

“Do you think we’re doing a good job?” she repeats.

I lie there and silently weigh the facts: My teen daughters expect too much. They take too much for granted. They complain about chores. They slam doors.

On the other hand, they are not in prison (they’re actually pretty good students). They are not yet heroin addicts. I haven’t yet caught them crawling out their bedroom windows. And they are not pregnant and wondering which guy is the father.

The clinical psychologist with whom I share a bed props herself up and eyes me. “Are you even listening to me?” she says.

“I am going with yes,” I say definitively. “We are definitely doing a good job parenting.”

(Because if I didn’t say that, I’d be doing a terrible job of husbanding.)

“Hmph!” she says. “You’re just saying that.”

And she turns out the light.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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Have You Heard an Alpaca Hum?

No, we’re not pulling the wool over your eyes! (Get it?)

Homosassa, Florida, is home to many delightful places—state parks where you can hike and kayak, crystal clear springs and rivers where you can see native Florida wildlife like manatees and alligators.

And it’s home to Alpaca Magic USA, where you’ll find about 20 alpacas, numerous chickens and various other wonders. And while you could drive to Odessa if you just wanted to see alpacas from your car, Alpaca Magic USA is your chance to get up close and personal with these cute animals.

Located about an hour away from the Westchase area, the farm is also home to lots of recycled art work, a nursery with unusual perennials, butterfly plants and trees and a gift shop. While you take a self-guided tour of the farm and gardens, if you really want the full Alpaca Magic experience, call ahead to schedule a tour so that you’ll have a guide who will give you all sorts of interesting alpaca information—like the fact that they hum and that they all use the same spot when they need to go to the bathroom. If you’re really lucky, you might get the chance to feed the alpacas out of your hand. 

Our tour also included a fiber felting class, which I had never heard of before, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. When the class starts, you get a piece of cloth about the size of a piece of notebook paper and you pick out pieces of colored alpaca wool to make a design or picture. After layering the pieces of wool on top of each other, you spray it with water and then apply pressure. Repeat several times and, voila, you own an original work of fiber-felting alpaca wool art.

The gift shop itself is a testament to the versatility of alpaca wool—sweater, scarves, socks, stuffed animals. You name it, you can find it at Alpaca Magic USA or you can buy yarn and make something yourself.

The drive there is fairly easy although the driveway to the farm comes up quickly, so pay attention as you get closer to the farm. If you start to see open land with alpacas roaming around, that‘s a good sign you’ve gone too far.

Alpaca Magic USA is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. However, it is recommended that you call ahead.

Alpaca Magic USA
4920 Grover Cleveland
Homosassa, FL
(352) 628-0156
http://www.alpacamagicusa.com

By Marcy Sanford

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Crime in 33626: April 2018

Warrant out of County

4/2

12100 Calder Manor Ct.

Battery – Simple

4/2

10000 Montague St.

Drugs/Narcotics

4/2

9800 Bayboro Bridge Dr.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

4/3

11900 Sheldon Rd.

Burglary Business/Forced

4/4

14400 Carlson Cr.

Drug Trafficking/Delivery

4/5

Sheldon Rd./Gardner Rd.

Warrant in County

4/7

11100 Blaine Top Pl.

Theft from a Vehicle

4/9

12400 Glenfield Ave.

Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor

4/12

Sheldon Rd./Fawn Ridge Blvd.

Warrant in County

4/12

13500 Ironton Dr.

Battery – Simple

4/13

10400 Sheldon Rd.

Battery – Aggravated

4/14

8700 Hampden Dr.

Battery – Simple

4/14

8900 Citrus Village Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

4/15

14700 Via Estrella Pl.

DUI

4/15

Sheldon Rd./W. Linebaugh Ave.

Drugs/Narcotics

4/17

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drug Paraphernalia

4/17

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Harassing/Obscene

4/18

10000 Bradwell Pl.

Theft from a Vehicle

4/19

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Drugs/Narcotics

4/25

8800 Citrus Village Dr.

Theft from a Vehicle

4/25

10500 Chamberlain Ct.

Battery – Simple

4/25

7900 Gunn Hwy.

Battery on Elderly – Simple

4/26

10500 Montague St.

Health/Safety

4/28

7800 Gunn Hwy.

DUI

4/30

7800 Gunn Hwy.

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Juggling Family, Work and Service

With a love for her family, a passion for law and a commitment to her community, Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Ashley Wait-Woodcock manages to juggle the responsibilities of family, work and community service.

Her motivation, she said, comes from her desire to be an advocate for others. “I will always stand up for other people, especially when they can’t stand up or fight for themselves,” she said.

Originally from Wheaton, Illinois, Wait-Woodcock moved to Sarasota with her family when she was 2 years old. After graduating from Riverview High School, she headed to Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina on a soccer scholarship. Homesick for beaches and year-round sunshine, she headed back to Florida after just one year when she transferred to Florida State University as a political science major. “I always knew I wanted to be in law somehow,” she said of her decision to major in political science.

Her first opportunity came as she interned at the state capitol in the Sergeant At Arms office. She then moved on as a legislative aid for the House of Representatives majority whip. A whip, in case you don’t know, is a political party official who is responsible for ensuring party discipline and encouraging legislators to attend voting sessions and vote within the guidelines of party policy.

From there she moved into a position as a legal assistant for a tax and corporate attorney. This position led her to pursue a career as a paralegal. Along the way, she also worked in the restaurant industry and held positions as a substitute teacher. Currently, Wait-Woodcock is a Florida registered paralegal and probate specialist and recently joined AWS Title Services.

“I have been blessed with so many amazing positions working for companies and working with people that I look up to and admire,” she said of her work experiences.

The aspect of her job now that she enjoys most is her ability to share the knowledge she has acquired over the years to help others make educated decisions about legal matters. Wait-Woodcock feels her legal knowledge has greatly benefitted the residents of Westchase as she serves on the WCA Board of Directors. One example is her success in lowering the management company’s fees charged for obtaining an estoppel letter required for the closing of the sale of Westchase home. An estoppel letter is a certificate stating if fees are due to a community association and attests that the seller is in good standing. “Running a title company gives me the comprehensive knowledge that is needed to point out to the board where the downfalls of homeowner’s associations and management companies are,” she said.

Prior to serving on the WCA board, Wait-Woodcock served our community in other ways as well. She raised nearly $13,000 to help a family in need when she participated in the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Tampa Bay Woman of the Year. She also volunteered at the YMCA, where she worked with other business professionals to educate people about the programs available to them at the Y. At Westchase Elementary, she worked with children during her lunch break to help them with math and identifying site words. She served as homeroom mom as well. 

When she isn’t serving her community, she’s a busy wife and mom at home to husband Greggory and sons Jameson and Benjamin. Together, this Bridges family enjoys all Westchase has to offer. “We like to support the local restaurants,” she explained.

Her first date with Greggory was actually at the local World of Beer, where they played trivia. “I impressed her with my genius,” Greggory said with a laugh.

When the relationship grew serious, he actually proposed to her there as well! Wait-Woodcock explained our community reminds her of her childhood home and neighborhood—calming and comfortable.

“We’re Westchase through and through,” she said.

By Lisa Stephens

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

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Real Estate Round Up: April 2018

Address

Sale Price

Days
On
Market

Price
Per
Sq. Ft

Beds

Full
Baths

Half

Baths

Sq. Ft.
Heated

Pool

Westchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10305 Saville Rowe Ln.

301,000

8

185.69

3

2

0

1,621

N

9812 Royce Dr.

368,000

45

210.29

3

2

0

1,750

Y

11807 Lancashire Dr.

380,000

35

186.09

4

2

0

2,042

N

10002 New Parke Rd.

385,000

2

191.26

3

2

1

2,013

N

9625 Gretna Green Dr.

400,000

58

182.65

3

2

0

2,190

N

9936 Stockbridge Dr.

400,000

4

196.66

4

3

0

2,034

Y

9613 Greenpointe Dr.

435,000

181

188.97

3

2

0

2,302

Y

10201 Bennington Dr.

436,000

10

191.14

4

3

0

2,281

Y

10722 Tavistock Dr.

454,500

2

201.02

4

3

0

2,261

Y

10507 Rochester Way

455,000

3

195.20

4

3

0

2,331

Y

9506 Woodbay Dr.

475,000

21

187.08

4

3

0

2,539

Y

12309 Glencliff Cir.

490,000

13

190.07

4

3

0

2,578

Y

10005 New Parke Rd.

557,000

22

158.24

5

4

1

3,520

Y

10555 Greensprings Dr.

606,000

196

209.25

4

3

0

2,896

Y

10415 Greenhedges Dr.

670,000

15

183.26

5

4

0

3,656

Y

10554 Greensprings Dr.

683,000

11

172.69

4

4

0

3,955

Y

9809 Emerald Links Dr.

685,000

5

203.99

4

3

0

3,358

Y

10509 Greensprings Dr.

700,000

4

210.78

4

4

0

3,321

Y

11912 Marblehead Dr.

725,000

25

203.59

4

3

0

3,561

Y

Highland Park

               

14687 Canopy Dr.

599,000

6

173.82

5

4

1

3,446

Y

Mandolin

               

11663 Renaissance View Ct.

485,000

101

165.64

5

3

0

2,928

Y

Tree Tops

               

10712 Beagle Run Pl.

890,000

171

237.40

4

3

0

3,749

Y

Westchester

               

12039 Mountbatten Dr.

384,000

80

140.71

5

3

0

2,729

N

Westwood Lakes

               

12515 Blazing Star Dr.

319,900

9

194.70

3

2

0

1,643

Y

14627 Corkwood Dr.

320,000

11

169.67

3

2

0

1,886

N

12549 Blazing Star Dr.

356,900

12

197.73

4

2

0

1,805

Y

12706 Princewood Ct.

385,000

179

141.39

4

3

0

2,723

N

12835 Tar Flower Dr.

495,000

4

174.73

4

3

1

2,833

Y

Windsor Place

               

11109 Windsor Place Cir.

190,000

15

149.37

2

1

1

1272

N

11263 Windsor Place Cir.

192,500

56

151.34

2

2

1

1272

N

11253 Windsor Place Cir.

238,000

1

141.41

2

2

1

1683

N

Information provided by Doug and Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates

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CDD Golf Course Purchase Negotiations Hit Snag

The June 5 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw supervisors pass a corrected draft budget while addressing Greens guard house salaries, Greens speeding and increase the budget for Westchase’s holiday décor.

Supervisors also pressed the pause button on their potential purchase of the golf course when its owner declined to respond to the purchase and sale agreement the district sent him early last month.

Supervisors began, however, by addressing an item of old business. In May the district acquired a large lake and two smaller ones lying between Westchase (specifically the neighborhoods of Sturbridge and Stonebridge) and West Lake Townhomes, the new townhome development behind Davidsen Middle School. At May’s meeting, supervisors asked if a $1,500 bid for adding the lakes to the district’s pond maintenance contract with A&B Aquatics included mandated reporting to the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFMD). At the June 5 meeting, supervisors passed the bid unanimously, 4-0, when they were assured the reporting was included. (Supervisor Jim Mills was absent.)

Later in the meeting CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart also addressed the lakes, specifically the SWFMD permit covering their maintenance. The original permit for the area covers both the lakes and the townhome development. Stewart explained that in filing the permit transfer from M/I Homes, which the developed West Lake Townhomes, the permit was supposed to have been “split,” with the document making clear that the townhomes’ HOA was responsible for its property while the lakes became the responsibility of the CDD. Stewart stated that the new permit sent to her had responsibility for all of the area covered by the previous permit now listed as the district’s responsibility. She stated the board had  to follow up with SWFMD with a document to correct the new permit. Supervisor Chesney, chairing the meeting, agreed to sign the document, following CDD Attorney Erin McCormick’s review.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall of Inframark then asked supervisors to pass a new version of the draft budget for the county’s Truth in Millage statements, mailed to homeowners in the fall. Last month supervisors intended to pass a budget draft that held assessments the same as last year; the copy of the budget circulated with the agenda package, however, inadvertently pulled more than $60,000 out of the budget. CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney credited CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte with catching the error. To correct it, supervisors unanimously approved a corrected version of the budget, keeping assessments unchanged. The new draft also keeps commercial assessments flat rather than increasing them slightly as the last draft reflected.

Supervisors can continue tinkering with the budget, lowering but not raising the draft’s assessments. Given supervisors’ comments, however, it’s likely the passed budget will remain unchanged. The official budget, however, will be formally passed at the Aug. 7 budget hearing at 4 p.m. at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office building.

Supervisor Barbara Griffith inquired whether assessments for the new David Weekley townhomes in West Park Village had been appropriately updated to reflect their use as residential properties. When District Manager Mendenhall located documentation that suggested it had not, he committed to having staff move forward with implementing the change.

Supervisors then returned to the Greens guard house contract with Securitas. In May staff recommended a salary increase for the Greens guards, stating they, and particularly the gatehouse’s longtime supervisor, had not received an increase in eight years. Staff added they were in danger of losing the supervisor as a result. In May, however, supervisors postponed approving the increase until staff could research what a more recent 2014 increase in the Securitas contract covered. With staff stating the 2014 increase was to cover increased health insurance costs, supervisors unanimously passed the proposed salary increase, 4-0.

Supervisor Brian Ross then brought up an issue flagged by the district audit. Ross stated he was troubled that he had learned about a fraudulent check from the audit rather than from Inframark staff. The check was made out to an Inframark staff member (Inframark was then called Severn Trent), but it had been changed, with its amount and payee changed. While the district was made whole by the bank that cashed the fraudulent check, Ross stated, “I have litigated a lot of these cases. It’s almost always someone who is in possession of the check who alters the check.” He added, “I can’t help but feel there is someone working for your guys who mishandled the item.”

Mendenhall apologized for Inframark’s failure to notify supervisors, stating he was also only belatedly informed of the matter. He added that Inframark investigated the matter and found no employee at fault. Further, he stated the employee associated with the check had worked for the company for years and, in his opinion, lacked the sophistication to undertake the fraud and cash the check under a Russian name on the west coast of the U.S.

Ross, however, insisted that Inframark take the step of filing a criminal affidavit so that law enforcement might further investigate the matter.

Concluding the meeting, supervisors briefly discussed conclusions reached about the potential Westchase Golf Course purchase with Supervisor Barbara Griffith, who along with Supervisor Matt Lewis, missed the CDD Workshop on Monday, June 4. Summarizing the informal decision made by supervisors at the workshop, CDD Erin McCormick stated of the course owner, “At this point we did not get any written counterproposal to our purchase and sale agreement.”

“Nor have they accepted the agreement,” added Supervisor Greg Chesney.

The current impasse is rooted in disagreements between the district and the owner over terms of the purchase and sale agreement. While still open to hearing from and discussing the purchase with the owner, supervisors declined to take further action until they heard back from the owner, especially given a significant list of deferred maintenance issues they have discovered. Supervisors’ workshop discussion and due diligence discoveries will be detailed in July’s WOW. 

In other actions:

Supervisors approved a bid just under $6,000 for the installation of two traffic radar readout speed signs for Gretna Green in The Greens, provided the vendor provided a four-year warranty.

Supervisors also approved the purchase of a Ford F350 dump truck to replace the district’s 20-year-old dump truck, whose interior floors have rusted out. The cost of the truck is $45,575.

Supervisors also approved spending an additional $5,000 (over the $5,000 currently budgeted) for holiday decorations in November/December. Supervisors also asked that staff return to July’s meeting with some additional ideas for holiday décor.

Supervisors adjourned at 5:42 p.m.

By Chris Barrett

Posted June 7, 2018

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Alonso Golf Fundraiser July 14

In an effort to connect with the community, the Alonso High School football program has moved its fundraising golf tournament to the Westchase Golf Club.

The second annual Alonso Ravens Kickoff Invitational is set for Saturday, July 14 at 8:30 a.m. Cost for the four-person team scramble is $100 per golfer, which includes greens fees, a cart and lunch.

Last year’s inaugural event drew 140 golfers to Innisbrook Golf Club in Tarpon Springs.

“It was a huge success, but one of our core beliefs is keeping things as close to Alonso as possible and contributing to our community,’’ said Ravens first-year head coach Ron Perisee, who was an Alonso assistant for the past two seasons.

“Westchase is a huge part of what we do. Many of our players—and future players—live in the community. We want Alonso football to have a strong presence in Westchase and be something we all can cheer for and rally around.’’

Perisee said his players will be heavily involved in the event, including being stationed at each hole to greet the golfers.

“We want to thank everyone who participates and the players are the ones who benefit,’’ Perisee said. “We plan on using the funds to buy more field equipment and finish the work we began on our weight room. None of that is possible without help from the community, so we want our players to realize that and show their appreciation.’’

For more information on the tournament, contact Jack Brady at (727) 488-2431.

By Joey Johnston

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Scholarship and Storm Prep

June’s WOW brings one of my favorite annual traditions.

While other media outlets are consumed with coverage of all sorts of gloom and wrongdoing, June’s WOW offers a lead story of achievement, generosity and hope. June’s cover presents our 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholars, whom we recently honored for their remarkable commitments to academics and community service. Open to page 4 to meet this impressive group of residents, whom we will profile more in depth in upcoming months.

June offer another somewhat less popular tradition: storm season preparation.

It seems like yesterday I returned home after Hurricane Irma rode up the spine of Florida. I circled my home, holding my breath. A wave of relief washed over me to find multiple fallen tree limbs but my Westchase home undamaged.

As someone who has lived in Florida for 20 years, I was embarrassed I let Irma sneak up on me. Two to three days prior, I was so certain it was Miami’s storm. Yet it made its predicted turn north late. Suddenly my plan to stay in a storm surge area on the west coast no longer seemed a wise one.

I vowed, for my family’s safety, that I would not be surprised again.

June 1 marks the beginning of our hurricane season. And while it the Atlantic and Gulf will spin into fuller fury toward the end of August and through September, the best time to prepare and pull together your plan is now. As all of us remember last September, locating needed supplies, from water and ice to gas and propane, became a stressful exercise within 36 hours of landfall.

To help preparations and better inform our readers, we include some valuable storm prep websites on page 26, followed by an updated map of Westchase storm surge evacuation zones on pages 28-29. All Westchasers live in zones that, under particular storm circumstances, can see many feet of water from Tampa Bay pushed into our homes. A decade ago next door neighbor, a Pinellas county fire fighter and emergency manager, was called up to the Panhandle after Hurricane Ivan. There he assisted families who didn’t take storm surge seriously. He told me a harrowing story of a distraught father who stood astride his attic rafters, his children in his arms, as the water continued to rise up his legs. Please take the map and any mandatory evacuations seriously.

As always, we thank you for reading these pages. As you know, quality print journalism – with a dedicated focus on our neighborhoods – is increasingly hard to find. WOW is a non-profit, 5019c3 charitable entity whose mission it is to offer Westchase-specific coverage while supporting local schools and charities. We receive no financial support from WCA or CDD fees. We make this happen solely through the generous support of our advertisers. Please tell them you’ve seen them in these pages and you value their support for our community.

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Public Notice of Glencliff and The Vineyards Guideline Changes

At their June 12 and July 10 meetings, Westchase Voting Members will consider neighborhood specific guideline amendments for Glencliff and The Vineyards.

Glencliff Guideline for Driveways, Sidewalks and Walkways.

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 second and final vote is scheduled for June 10.

Proposed Paint Palette Guideline for The Vineyards

The following guideline amendment was approved by The Vineyards subassociation. To be adopted it now has to be considered and approved by a supermajority of VMs at two meetings, scheduled for June 12 and July 10. The amendment follows:

1. Color palette was revised in 2008. Vineyards homes must be painted every seven (7) years. All exterior painting/repainting of homes must be submitted for approval to the Vineyards Architectural Review Committee. Mod request form is on website. If ARC approves, form is sent to WCA MC for final approval. If ARC does not approve, homeowner is contacted.
2. Approved exterior paint colors are on the website http://www.westchasevineyards.org and in spreadsheet titled Vineyards Master Color Palette 2008-06.
3. Only those exterior paint colors which are listed on spreadsheet are permitted. Any paint manufacturer may be used so long as color is matched to the approved Sherwin Williams paint color.
4. A minimum of three (3) and maximum of four (4) paint colors are permitted per unit. One color must be declared the house body color. For 3 colors – body, trim, shutters and front door (if painting the same color), OR for 4 colors – body, trim, shutters, front door. Coach lights are not considered in either number (see below #9).
5. Any siding must be painted body color only.
6. Home additions must be painted the same color as the existing body. Existing body colors no longer on the color palette will be grandfathered in for home addition painting only. If the existing portion of home needs repainting at time of construction, than an approved color from the current palette must be selected for the entire home.
7. Body colors shall not be the same color as adjacent homes and/or directly across the street.
8. Only three (3) Trim and Garage Door colors are approved: Pure White; Extra White; or Ceiling Brite White
9. Only four (4) Coach light colors approved: Pure White; Extra White; Ceiling Brite White or Tricorn Black
10. There are 3 colors that are on the door/shutter color palette that are ONLY for doors: Red Bay, Tanager and Rave Red. These 3 colors cannot be used for shutters.
11. Shutters and front door have approved colors different from body color. Shutters and front door can be different colors as long as they are on our palette.
12. Front porch concrete shall be maintained and if painting new, it must be done as the same color originally used by the developer, known as “battleship gray.” Closest color is SW-7023 Requisite Gray. Painting not required for porches that have pavers.
13. Pillars/Rails don’t need to be painted however, they must be kept clean
14. Sheen of paint shall not exceed semi-gloss for the body/wall.
15. Definitions:
• Body/Wall – Wall, siding, patio/porch ceilings, utility connections, cable and phone boxes, solar piping on wall
• Trim and Garage doors– Soffit, gutter, contrasting border around windows, includes side garage door if applicable to your home
• Front doors and shutters (faux shutters around windows and/or on body wall)
• Coach lights – at garage doors

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Westchase Summer Camp in Full Swing

I cannot believe that school is over already and summer camp is in full swing.

The little ones (and bigger ones too) are out and about playing in their yards, and sometimes roads, riding their bikes, and just having a good, old time. Nowadays everyone seems to be in such a rush to get places that they tend to forget that kids and pets are outside enjoying the beautiful Florida summer days. It is imperative that we all take a moment to check ourselves when we’re driving and be on the lookout. It takes just a quick second for a ball to go in the road and a child to chase after it.

Now that summer is here, our office has been swamped with residents submitting modifications for landscaping, house painting, roofing, etc.  For those of you fairly new to Westchase, please keep in mind that anything done to the exterior portion of your property – front, sides and back – must get modification approval first. We have seen first-hand how costly it can be for those who proceed on a project only to find out it’s not permitted. Before installing a fence, painting your house or ripping out landscaping, come see our management team and we will guide you on what is and is not allowed here (with Modification Committee approval, of course).

On a final note, our management staff would like to thank all of you for your patience and understanding while we investigate the source of extensive cracking at the West Park Village tennis courts. The board of directors is undertaking their due diligence by hiring a professional to perform subsurface soil tests and we hope to have the two courts reopened as soon as possible.

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

By Debbie Sainz, CAM, CMCA

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Westchase Government Affairs Committee Update: TECO

I met with representatives from TECO towards the end of April to further discuss past Westchase area power outages, mitigation efforts and TECO’s future direction.

It was a very positive meeting and I offer my continued thanks to TECO for their ongoing efforts on behalf of our community. And we agreed to move forward.

The area impacted by power fluctuations is the west side of Westchase, largely Keswick, Glencliff and Wycliff. Back portions of these neighborhoods are connected to the Double Branch substation grid.

TECO has undertaken a number of steps to mitigate the power problems. Their research determined that outages were caused by a variety of factors including power line contact with trees, squirrels/animals, weather/lightning, vehicles hitting poles, and TECO equipment problems. Additional research using infrared equipment identified additional issues with localized line clearance, repair equipment and lightning arrestors. These mitigation efforts were completed in November and December 2017. TECO then completed tree trimming along the entire Double Branch circuit at the end of April.

Per TECO records, there does not appear to be any outages impacting Westchase on the Double Branch circuit thus far. TECO will continue to monitor circuit performance and we will maintain ongoing communication with each other.

TECO has provided the following links regarding power updates, outages, hurricane preparedness:

Power Outages: tampaelectric.com/outages
Outage Map: tampaelectric.com/outagemap
Hurricanes: tampaelectric.com/stormsafety

Solving the TECO-West Westchase power outages is a major GAC goal. If you experience any power issues, please contact me at rick.westchase@gmail.com.

By Rick Goldstein, GAC Chair

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An Extraordinary Commitment to Service and Scholarship

This year’s 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholars Dinner proved an impressive celebration of six residents’ intelligence, hard work and selflessness.

Gathering on Monday, April 23, six graduating Westchase high school seniors were named our 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholars. Each received a $2,000 award.

Established in 2006, the scholarship recognizes college-bound Westchase residents for their commitment to academics and community service. The scholarship is named after Ernie Sylvester, a former WOW Board member who volunteered extensively in Westchase during his lifetime.

“This year’s Sylvester Scholars are an impressive group, representing the best of our community’s commitment to community service and excellence in academics,” said WOW President Jonathan Stein. “These hard working students are to be applauded for their commitment and their achievements.  The WOW appreciates the opportunity to recognize these special young people, and we look forward to good things to come from each of them.”

Selected from a strong pool of applicants were Brentford’s Joshua Cruz, the son of Terri Tully Cruz and Reinier Cruz; Allison Foster, the daughter of Sandi and John Foster of The Greens; Katie Morello, the daughter of Marc and Kathleen Morello of Stamford; Erin Piacitelli, the daughter of Andrea and Matt Piacitelli of The Greens; Nipuna Weerapperuma, the son of Dilrika and Viraj Weeraperuma of Abbotsford; and Grace Wilcox, the daughter of Pamela and David Wilcox of Sturbridge.

At the dinner the 2018 scholars were celebrated by the WOW Board, which sets policies for the magazine. Attending were WOW President Jonathan Stein of The Estates in Harbor Links, and fellow WOW Directors Mary Griffin of West Park Village, Ken Blair of Glencliff, Carolyn Reynolds of The Greens and Jeff Seligsohn of Radcliffe. Also attending were WOW staff members Chris Barrett and Leslie Blaze as well as Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Keith Heinemann, who serves as the liaison between the WCA and WOW Board.

Heinemann kicked of the night by greeting parents and offering praise for their sons’ and daughters’ accomplishments. During dinner each scholar was then asked to tell those in attendance about their accomplishments and where they would be headed in the coming year.

A graduate of Jesuit High School, Cruz  earned a 4.61 weighted GPA and completed 550 hours of community service. He plans on studying biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech.

Cruz’s transcript shows straight A grades over four years, as well as 14 AP course and 8 honors level courses. (Note that schools weigh honors and AP courses differently in calculating weighted GPAs). Over the course of high school, Cruz accumulated 550 hours of community service. Asked which teacher had the greatest impact on him, Cruz cited Ms. Barry, his Kindergarten teacher from Westchase Elementary, for pushing him in reading and mathematics and Mr. Austin Freeman, his sophomore and junior teacher of English and AP Seminar at Jesuit. “He was the first teacher to seriously push me in English to learn how to interpret text, write coherently, and clearly present my ideas in front of an audience,” said Cruz.

In recommending Cruz for the scholarship, Joe Monroe, the coordinator of the Hillsborough County Youth Leadership Council, which provides students an opportunity to participate in civic, leadership and community service programs, stated, "Joshua is very detail-oriented, reliable and caring." Monroe added, "Joshua has a passion for helping others and continues to encourage his peers to assist.”

Allison Foster graduated from Alonso High School with a 6.07 weighted GPA and will be studying pediatric nursing Auburn University. She completed 450 community service hours during high school.

Foster’s impressive academic history saw her taking 14 honors courses and 10 AP courses. When asked which teacher most impacted her, Foster picked Ms. Jennifer Gilgan, her sophomore year AP Capstone Seminar teacher, who challenged her students to master the research class. “Ms. Gilgan was always caring and supportive of everyone’s project and was someone I could look up to when things got rough,” said Foster. “I’m glad to have had her as a teacher because I not only grew as a student, but also as a person.”

Wrote Gilgan while recommending Foster, “Knowing Allison as a person, not just as a student, she genuinely cares for people. She demonstrates a mature self-awareness I don 't see in many students and has shown a quiet courage and strength to push through both personal and academic challenges.”

Katie Morello graduated with a 7.84 weighted GPA and will attend the University of Florida in the fall. While yet uncertain on a major, her current interests include nutritional sciences. Her Alonso transcript, consisting of straight A grades through all four years, listed at least 17 honors courses and 11 AP courses, winning her the honor of valedictorian out of 625 students. She completed 120 community service hours.

She cited her flag football coach at Alonso, Mr. Matthew Hernandez as the teacher who made the greatest impact on her. “[He] has been my coach for four years and accounting and economics teacher for two years. He introduced me to flag football and has helped shape me as a player and as a person. He truly cares about me as a person and is always there to support me.”

Recommending Morello for the scholarship, Karina Bletsch, her AP Chemistry teacher, cited "a work ethic like no other" and mentioned she was always prepared and helped other students master the class concepts. "Students like Katie Morello are rare and they leave a lasting impression,” said Bletsch. “She has challenged me and I truly feel that our interaction has made a better teacher."

Erin Piacitelli graduated Middleton High School with a 7.16 GPA and completed an impressive 302 hours of community service. She will be studying biomechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. Her transcript, with very few grades other than A grades, featured at least 10 honors level and 13 AP courses and a host of computer and engineering courses.

Piacitelli cited Mr. Scott Meade, who taught her Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Principles of Engineering while mentoring Middleton's Robotics Club, as having the greatest impact on her. “In as early as my freshmen year, Mr. Mead taught me how to put fear of failure aside and dive into my education,” she stated. “He has taught me to believe that my goals are achievable and how to always keep them in sight.”

Wrote Meade of Piacitelli, “While she possesses the intelligence to learn quickly, she also applies herself to go beyond expectations. She strives for a deep understanding while making connections among multiple concepts.” Citing Piacitelli’s establishment of programs with middle and elementary schools to introduce girls to STEM careers, he added, “Erin’s commitment to community service is an intrinsic part of her personality.  She has led the [Middleton] robotics club to become as much of a community service organization as it is a competitive team.”

Nipuna Weeraperuma graduated from Middleton High School with an atmospheric 9.02 GPA and 402 community service hours.  In the fall he will attend University of Florida, where he will study computer engineering with either a double major or minor in business administration. Dual enrolled at Middleton and Hillsborough Community College and University of South Florida, he has a transcript that features over 11 honors courses and 17 AP Courses, as well as multiple computer coding and engineer courses at the college level.

Weeraperuma cited Mrs. Robertson, his AP Language and AP Literature teacher, as the instructor who has had the greatest impact on him. “She’s definitely one of the hardest teachers I’ve had, and she’s extremely politically informed and opinionated,” he said. “With her as one of my teachers, I’ve been constantly challenged, but in such a way that’s helped me develop my writing capabilities and my capacity to have my voice heard.”

Observed Weeraperuma’s orchestra instructor Bennie Leverett of his achievements outside of his class, “Nipuna is an exemplar of being balanced.” Leverett added, “He’s directly founded two clubs, amassed community service far beyond any minimum requirement, and tutored his peers in and out of the classroom. Additionally, he’s been elected as the varsity swim team captain, commemorated as a National Merit Semi-Finalist, and designated one of seventy-five dual AP and PLTW scholars nationally.”

Grace Wilcox graduated from Robinson High School’s IB program with a 6.84 GPA and 415 community service hours. She plans to study engineering at University of Florida in the fall. Her IB transcript featured seven honors courses, three AP courses and a significant number of rigorous IB courses widely considered by state universities to be the equivalent of AP coursework.

Naming her most inspiring instructor as her math teacher, Ms. Judi Charley-Sale, Wilcox stated of her, “She taught us extremely difficult college level calculus and beyond in an easy to understand manner. She solidified and expanded my love of math, giving me the confidence to know that there is no problem that I cannot solve.”

In turn, Erika George, the Robinson IB guidance counselor, strongly endorsed Wilcox for the WOW scholarship. “Grace has constantly pushed herself in her academics – although she makes it look easy. She has taken the most demanding coursework offered and recommended: IB higher level math with double science in physics and chemistry.” George concluded, “This young lady knows how to manage her time and academics!”

Congratulations to our impressive 2018 WOW Sylvester Scholars!

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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From the President, June 2018: The Problem of Guideline Creep

There was a time when our biggest community challenges were mundane things like schools, roads and new development.

Now we have a unique, more insidious challenge to Westchase – the magical transformation of unapproved violations into approved modifications via the individual neighborhood specific guideline process.

Guideline creep is accomplished via an individual neighborhood specific guideline (INSG) amendment process initiated by a homeowner who has installed an unapproved, non-standard modification. He or she then seeks approval from the community after the fact in order to avoid fines, reversal and uninstallation of the offending modification.

In the past homeowners would allow modification ideas to germinate throughout their village then seek approval through the formal INSG process. Under this process 51 percent of the homeowners in a village would have to sign off on the idea (via a petition) and then two-thirds of the voting members would have to approve the guideline change via an extended two meeting discussion and voting process. No one could build or install these modifications until they were first formally approved and codified into the Westchase guidelines.

Originally these modification ideas were relatively benign: mailboxes that were unique and complimentary to the neighborhoods; screen doors; color combinations within certain neighborhoods and even “rain chains” come to mind.

In more recent history this process has been abused. Bigger, more egregious, unapproved modifications have been built then fought for by their owners. We have seen “in ground/above ground” pools installed, violated, then fought for. Painted garage doors were installed, violated, then fought for. Unapproved fencing was installed, violated then fought for. My question becomes: At what point does “Westchase” cease to exist and individual neighborhoods with their own unique guidelines become dominant?

When does the commonality of our deed restrictions become obsolete and succumb to the individualism of differentiation according to the rule of exception? Why aren’t we compelling homeowners who install unapproved violations to rip them out and adhere to the guidelines as written? The answer is complex but not complicated. The rules allow homeowners to marshal support for their violations while the enforcement process is put on hold. Why? Because we’ve been too nice and too neighborly. To avoid conflict with our neighbors we grant them the leniency to follow through on their INSG proposal – even though they are in violation of the guidelines.

But here’s the rub. Even if a neighborhood votes to approve an INSG, the voting members don’t have to approve the INSG. We, the voting members, have traditionally done so because we’ve avoided interfering in the internal affairs of other villages when these INSG have followed the path of normalcy – that is from idea to approval PRIOR to anyone building them out. So we have voted in the affirmative and avoided the inevitable conflict of ideas.

Well, I think it’s time that the voting members take a stand. They should stand up for the rule of ask first for permission prior to building, not build first then beg forgiveness after the fact. They should change the zeitgeist of Westchase from one of permissiveness to more restrictiveness. We’ve gotten away from the premise that individual neighborhood guidelines should be more restrictive than the master guideline, not less restrictive. We’ve become too permissive and, as a result, our once tight deed restrictions are loosening. This is a trend which I feel will erode our community’s appearance and hence our property values.

I’m asking my fellow voting member to take a stand on behalf of the greater good of Westchase and reject any INSG that is born out of an existing violation. Make that neighbor rip it out and start over. Let’s not throw our hands up and say “whatever.” Let’s regain control of our deed restrictions. Let’s start now.

By Ruben Collazo, WCA President

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WCA Closes Pools and Tennis Courts May 26-27

With Subtropical Storm Alberto promising a wet and windy weekend, the Westchase Community Association announced the closure of its pools and tennis courts over the weekend.

“Out of an abundance of caution we are going to close the pool and tennis courts on Saturday and Sunday,” said WCA President Ruben Collazo in a call to WOW.

While the storm is currently projected to make landfall on the Gulf coast of Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama without reaching hurricane status sometime Monday or Tuesday, current forecasts have Florida receiving some winds and heavy rain, totaling three to five inches by Monday evening.

Collazo emphasized, however, that the activity room at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center will remain open to the residents who have rented that facility for parties this weekend.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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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 http://www.westchase.seniors.com 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 westchase.seniors@gmail.com or call Lewis and Rama Patterson (926-5473). It only costs a smile to join and the dues are just as cheap.

By Lewis and Rama Patterson

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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 editor@westchasewow.com. Write Fake Ad Contest as the subject. One correct entry will be randomly chosen as winner each month.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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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 http://www.tampabaywoman.org

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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 http://www.alonsoboosterclub.com

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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 Editor@WestchaseWOW.com with a few sentences about your trip and the location of the photo(s).

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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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 jwestmor@tampabay.rr.com.

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 Janice.Moumne@sdhc.k12.fl.us.

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

Important 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 http://www.momsclubofwestchase.com to get in touch. Interested in becoming a member but not ready to commit? Attend an event before joining. We’re sure you’ll want us – 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 http://www.shannonthigpen.com<./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

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
http://noble-crust.com
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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