Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 23, 2017

In this news brief: home market tracker Zillow says Tampa has the nation’s third-fastest appreciating housing market; a man is arrested for swinging swords at a Brooksville Wal-Mart; Hillsborough’s Department of Health issues advisory warnings for two local beaches owing to the presence of enterococci bacteria; Publix, a Lakeland-based grocery chain, ranks third out of 100 companies for social responsibility and emotional appeal according to a national consumer survey; TripAdvisor ranks Clearwater beach number one in the nation and number 20 in the world.

 

Florida Focus News Brief: Feb. 22, 2017

In this news brief: A suspect is in custody for a series of gas station robberies; an  abortion lawsuit bill narrowly passes a Florida house panel;the first Sprouts Farmers Market in Florida is now open; Bradenton public transportation could be taking to the water; kids will now eat free at Steak N Shake any time any day.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 21, 2017

In this news brief: A pregnant woman is the victim of a largo home invasion, neither victims have life threatening injuries and the suspect is in custody; two people accused of killing their landlord over two weeks ago appear in court today; Hillsborough Deputies are investigating a string of early morning robberies; Tampa Police are looking for a Walgreens cigarette thief; UPS announces that they are developing a new way to deliver packages right to your front door.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 20, 2017

In this news brief: Deputies shot and killed a Hernando County man who broke into a home; a man is dead after a hit-and-run in Tampa; Pinellas County deputies have arrested a corrections officer for DUI; Body cam footage show a dramatic car rescue in Pasco County; the largest-ever traffic study ranks congestion in cities worldwide; the University of South Florida earns the 2016 Tree Campus USA.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 16, 2017

In this news brief: 11 year-old Jenna Irmler has Asperger’s Syndrome and was found 30 miles from her Brandon home today after reports that she was missing yesterday; a woman warned a burglar that she was armed, and shot him when he ignored her; Winn-Dixie is revamping their private label brands; Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office hosts “coffee with a cop” at a local McDonalds stay involved with the community.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb 15, 2017

In this news brief: a man is in custody today after fatally shooting a bar cook; a 15-year-old is accused of killing his mother’s boyfriend; forty two people are arrested in a Polk County undercover sex offender investigation; the Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department is closing their door due to violations; today is the second annual Florida Craft Beer Day.

Florida Focus New Brief Feb. 13, 2017

In this news brief: the search continues for a missing plane and its three passengers; an elderly woman escapes an early morning fire; one dog is shot and another is in animal control custody after a pit bull attacked a Lakeland Electric employee; Pasco County is exploring a new way to help their homeless population.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 8, 2017

In this news brief: A highwire accident injures Sarasota circus performers; Tampa’s fire department rescued a man from inside a garbage truck; A standing room-only crowd gathered to discuss new medical marijuana rules for Floridians; An apartment fire claims the lives of two dogs; Tampa police and fire rescue are making their television debut on a new reality show.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 6, 2017

In this news brief: President Donald Trump visits MacDill Air Force Base; a Bradenton man is in custody following a police standoff; Pasco County launches a recycling survey designed to better understand residents habits; a police dog and his partner are back to work.

 

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 24, 2017

In this environment brief: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission finds a Florida Panther outside its known breeding range; the Rising Tide Exhibit at Busch Gardens is developing sustainable aquaculture; the number of manatees killed in Florida reaches an all-time high; the Florida Aquarium and Cuba are working together to preserve coral reefs.

Holiday Fun For A Good Cause

 

The Festival of Trees offered an early holiday experience for visitors this past weekend. An entry fee of $5 allowed visitors the chance to venture through a gymnasium where hundreds of decorated trees were displayed.

In its 32 years of existence, the Festival of Trees has raised over $1 million toward its mission to foster community awareness, involvement and financial support for The Arc Tampa Bay, a non-profit organization providing services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Tampa Bay community.

Private citizens, craft clubs and even other nonprofit organizations donate their holiday themed decorated trees so that they can be sold in an effort to benefit the Arc Tampa Bay.

Kiersten Finchum, Festival of Trees Co-chair and Arc Tampa Bay volunteer, Driven by her passion to give back to the Arc  decorated her own tree for the festival this year.

“The Arc Tampa Bay is a great cause,” said Finchum. “I happen to be the parent of a special needs child and it’s nice to be working in a community with people who share a common thread.”

Although not everyone who walks through the Festival of Trees’ doors know the cause behind the annual event, they are certainly left enlightened by the end, much like Denise Fougere who came in support of a friend who had a tree on display.

“This is my first time visiting the Festival of Trees and I love it. It’s like a magical winter wonderland walking in the doors,”said Fougere. “the fact that all of this money and all of this is going toward that foundation is such a blessing.”

 

New housing to put life in campus

TAMPA- The $133 million student housing project at the University of South Florida is well underway.

“The Village” will replace what is now the Andros area on campus. The project includes five new dorms, a dining hall called “The Hub,” and a recreational facility named “The Fit.”

The first installment of the project will include 2 dorms that will open for Fall 2017. The second installment will begin after that and include the rest of the facilities. The entire project is expected to be finished in time for the Fall of 2018.

Assistant Director of Communications, Gregory Bowers, said that there has been a push for more housing on campus for quite some time now. He believes that adding more beds will provide an opportunity for more students to succeed by living on campus.

“The conversation about bringing new halls on (to campus), of course, is always going to be a financial one from the start.” Bowers said. “The way we were able to move forward was by doing what is called a public-private partnership.”

The project is receiving private funding from Capstone-Harrison Street. The agreement is that the company will finance, build and operate The Village for the next fifty-two years. USF will then become the owners of that space.

Residents in the area are noticing some noise throughout the day. Ryan Williams is a freshman living in the Kappa dorm. He’s excited about the project, but does admit the noise can be annoying.

“It’s a little loud sometimes. Sometimes there will be a really loud, low vibration you can hear pretty much anywhere. That’s a little annoying,” Williams said.

Williams said he is excited to see what The Village will bring to the north end of campus.

“It’ll bring a lot of people together to live on campus,” Williams said.

Riverfront Park asset to students

The University of South Florida Riverfront Park offers a unique experience to its students and alumni by providing outdoor recreational activities from canoeing to even a ropes course.

With the advantage Florida brings to its residents, USF is able to offer its students and alumni a place to de-stress and relax after a hard day at work or from studying. The park has a wide range of activities available. The ropes course is a common favorite among it students and is an activity many people have never done before.

“I take them up on the ropes course which is about 55 feet high and they go through obstacles and stuff and they eventually zip line down,” ropes course facilitator Hunter Mitchell said.

The park is also on the banks of the Hillsborough River, allowing the park to offer canoeing and kayaking to its visitors. Many times, canoeing and kayaking is very expensive to go out and experience. At Riverfront Park students can rent canoes and kayaks from $5 to $10 and a full usage pass for $45.

“At USF Riverfront Boat House, we provide students the opportunity to rent out kayaks, single-person kayaks, two-person kayaks and canoes,” boat house facilitator Esteban Baute said.

The park also offers team-building activities that help USF students build leadership skills and make new friends.

“It gets people talking in case they don’t know each other and we just really establish trust and communication and really get groups closer together after they come out here,” Mitchell said.

With over 49,000 students at USF, making friends can be tough. USF Riverfront Park allows students to make new friends easier and bring different people together by offering these activities.

USF Sport Clubs: A chance to play

Sport Clubs at the University of South Florida offer students the chance to be able to live out their sports dreams of being college athletes, but not necessarily playing at the Division 1 level.

 

“This way students that are not at as high a level as NCAA athletes, still have an environment where they can go out and have fun and participate in their sport of choice.” Supervisor Sam Cathcart said.

 

USF Sports Clubs offers many different types of sports to USF students. They also offer unique sports including Water polo, Quidditch, and even Kendo. The wide range of sports available allows many different students to get involved with the sports clubs.

 

Also, many students who play sports during high school assume they are going to play sports in college and are often disappointed when they try out for the college team and do not make the cut.  USF Sport Clubs allows these students to still be able to play the sports they loved back in high school. Club teams are often much more laid back than college teams allowing the players to enjoy their time more while they are playing.

 

Students are also able to create their own clubs if they wish to do so. “There’s Bullsync that you can go onto if you are interested in joining a sports club. That has all the information,” Jordan Mckenzie of USF Campus Recreation said. “As well as how to join a club. If you want to start a new club you are able to go on Bullsync and that’ll answer your questions as well.”

 

USF Sport Clubs give a unique future to something many students thought they would never be able to do again.

 

Mini Doughnut Factory Celebrates First Birthday

Mini Doughnut Factory Turns One

Tampa — They may be tiny, but they are the hottest shop on the block. The Mini Doughnut Factory is celebrating their one-year anniversary and the Tampa Bay community couldn’t be happier.

“I’m a regular customer, I come here all the time,” says customer Geena Casey, “I’m so happy for them reaching their one year anniversary.”

This is the first retail location in the country that specializes in gourmet miniature doughnuts.

The owners thought of the idea a few years prior to opening the factory but since it’s opening, they never looked back. In fact, they have plans to open another store in St. Petersburg in the beginning of 2017.

“Pat and Zee had the idea for about three years and just decided to go for it and now they are about to open another store,” employee Kayleigh Frank tells us.

Saturday and Sunday are when you will most likely notice a line wrapped around the building on South Dale Mabry Highway, and while this makes employees like Frank very busy, this makes the owners, Pat and Zee, extremely happy.

“The weekends are definitely the busiest but it just means we are getting more business so I can’t complain,” Frank says.

From bacon to Pop Rocks to Sriracha hot sauce, the toppings at the factory are endless.

For more information on the Mini Doughnut Factory, including store hours, head to their Facebook page here, https://www.facebook.com/minidoughnutfactory/.

Immigration Under Trump Administration

As the American people prepare for the upcoming election, many are excited about playing a part in the democratic process. But for others, like first generation Mexican-American Paloma Narvaez, each day closer to the election is potentially one less she could have with her family and friends.
There has been a lot of discussion on both sides about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposed plan to combat people entering the country illegally. Many people, like Narvaez, who are close with numerous undocumented people in the U.S., fear for the future of the nation if Trump’s plans are put in place.
Narvaez spoke of a friend of hers, an undocumented graduate student at USF conducting research in chemistry.
“She can get deported when she’s doing so much good here,” the junior accounting major said. “How are we going to lose someone so valuable?”
Trump’s plan on his website includes building a massive border wall on the southern border of the United States, extreme vetting for entrance into the country and the ending of sanctuary cities. The majority of Americans who oppose Trump’s proposals believe they are unethical and go against what America stands for. However, Trump’s supporters believe his plan will be a way to crack down on crime and aid in the safety of our nation in the future.
Michael Varicak, a USF alumnus with a degree in business, said he has been a Trump supporter since the day he announced his candidacy. Although he is an independent voter, Varicak said Trump’s “lack of a Washington, D.C. filter” got him listening to what Trump had to say.
Varicak said in a phone interview that he believes the immigration process has to be reformed. He also said he believes that although Trump may not build the massive wall he has been describing, he will definitely strengthen border security as a whole.
“I don’t think it’s unethical to enforce a country’s boarders and security,” the recent USF graduate said. “Especially at a time when you have ISIS and other things going on.”
The most talked about aspect of Trump’s plan is building a border wall, and making Mexico pay for it. David Jacobson, Ph.D., a USF professor and expert on immigration, said he doesn’t foresee the wall happening as Trump has described to his supporters.
Jacobson said although putting up a wall is legal, it would be nearly impossible to get another country to pay for it without using coercive measures. Jacobson pointed out that these tactics would pose issues, especially since the two nations are so close.
Since Jacobson doesn’t see Mexico paying for the wall in any way, he added that if the U.S. were to undertake this task alone, it would be a giant expense.
“It would be an enormous cost,” Jacobson said. “It would involve a massive investment, so it’s not really feasible.”
Originally, another pillar of Trump’s plan was mass deportations of undocumented people in the United States as soon as he went into office. Jacobson said mass deportation would not work on a logistical or legal level.
“That’s not really practical to deport 11 million people,” Jacobson said. “Each individual has a right to due process. It just becomes much more complex to even think about that.”
Although Trump has softened his stance on that in recent months, Narvaez said many in her community and family do not believe his change of heart.
“The way he portrayed himself initially, we already know he has that bias,” Narvaez said. “What has changed from then to now to change his stance?”
Narvaez and her family have a lot riding on this election. The outcome will likely determine whether many of her family members can stay in America, or will be forced back to the small Mexican town of Mazamitla, the name of which she has tattooed across her forearm.
Narvaez said regardless of what Trump says or does going forward, she will never respect him after his comments claiming that Mexican immigrants are bringing drugs and crime to the U.S. at the start of his presidential campaign.
“That’s my family he’s talking about,” Narvaez said. “Those are people I work with and study with.”

Brickworld event in Tampa sparks creativity

Tampa Fla.— Brickworld Tampa, a convention of LEGO creations, held a 2-day event at the Florida State Fairgrounds throughout the weekend of November 19.

Brickworld is a convention of LEGO creations brought to cities around the United States to be put on display by their creators.

“The whole reason we started Brickworld was education and inspiration” Bryan Bonahoom, the execute director of Brickworld, said.

Bonahoom has been a part of the convention for 10 years. Other than providing a way for fans to experience creating, Brickworld is also involved in the community through holding auctions and donating money to multiple charities.

“We typically raise about $25,000 on this Friday night event each year at our show in Chicago,” Bonahoom said.

A few of the charities they donate to include FIRST LEGO League, The Riley Children’s Hospital, Creations for Charity and Make-a-Wish.

Hundreds of creations were on display for the community to visit, and shops were set up throughout the convention selling LEGOs to build. One of the more popular displays this year was a 26-foot-long model of the USS Missouri WWII battleship.

Vera Anjo, a retired teacher, believes that building these creations is a way to keep her sharp and allows her to interact with people.

“Life is never static,” Anjo said.

 

Edited by: Samantha Nieto