Local Dads, USF Student Team Up to Save Lives

Two Tampa dads are hoping to prevent hot car deaths with the help of their new invention. It’s called Sense-a-Life and it’s a wireless and Bluetooth powered system made up of sensors, pressure meters, and a cellphone app.

Fadi Shamma, a pharmacist, and Jim Friedman, an engineer, teamed up to end tragic stories of children being left in vehicles.

“It brings such agony of a child being hurt no matter who it is,” Shamma said. “And so I’m like, ‘Jim, you’re an excellent engineer. You’re great at what you do. You know, here’s a problem, let’s come up with a solution.’”

When the driver door opens and a child is in the car seat, a voice alert comes on to remind the parent to take the child out. Then, an alert is sent straight to his cellphone. If the child is still not removed, an alert is sent to a second parent or guardian. The app will also notify police, if needed.

The app was created by USF student Masud Hossain, who is the co-founder and CFO of Sense-a-Life.

“It’s very easy and simple to use and I think it’s a simple solution to a common problem”, Hossain said.

According kidsandcars.org, 38 children die each year from being left in a hot vehicle.

“We’re selling a simple reminder,” Shamma said. “And if our simple reminder system, you know, will help a parent double check or think twice and it saves one life a year, we’re happy.”

Friedman, Hossain, and Shamma’s collective goal is to make this device affordable so that every car seat has a Sense-a-Life installed. Their product will be on the market later this year. For more information and to support their Kickstarter campaign, visit www.sensealife.com.


Hillsborough Gets Strict About Ridesharing

Hillsborough County has been cracking down on ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft ever since House Bill 509 did not pass in early March.

This bill was presented by Matt Gaetz hoping to provide regulations throughout the state. Florida lawmakers turned the bill down and refused to side with ridesharing companies.

In the last month, over thirty drivers were given citations from the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission. There were a total of four citations that cost up to $900. One of them included a $500 citation for operating a public vehicle without a certificate.

Drivers for Uber and Lyft are not only frightened, but upset that the state is not doing anything about this— drivers like Chauncey Ball.

“I think that the people that’s really sending citations to this new procedure of transportation should just look deeper into it, because a lot of people are scared of change,” Ball said. “This is just a new generational wave that a lot of people is (sic) not accepting at this time.”

Florida State Representative Matt Gaetz wanted to reassure drivers that “Help is on the way.”

Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft are paying for the citations given to drivers. They say they are standing by their drivers.

‘Make your own’ style at Florida Strawberry Festival

The Florida Strawberry Festival is the talk of the town in Plant City, but the talk of festival, is the “Make Your Own” Strawberry Shortcake booth. Whether you want cake or a biscuit, or little or a lot of whipped topping, Saint Clement Catholic Church gives visitors the chance to make their perfect shortcake. 

Saint Clement’s booth is one of the three booths that sell shortcake on the festival grounds. The “Make Your Own” style is what makes the church’s booth stand out from the rest. With the help from parishioners and volunteers, the booth has been running for 43 years. The organization has two coordinators that make sure the project continues to be successful. 

“I think it’s an astounding event and I love to be a part of it.”, said co-coordinator, Paul Hetrick. 

Hetrick has been a coordinator for three years, but has volunteered since 1987. His hard work and dedication to the project would not be complete without his co-coordinator, Kevin McFaul and committee. 

“The committee, it just makes this whole thing smooth. I mean there are just so many things going on. That are a part of this operation.”, Hetrick said. “And as coordinators, we are not necessarily checking up on them on a regular basis. They’re taking care of, because the people that are running them are autonomous.” 

There are over a 150 volunteers that contribute to the success of the booth. The committee and volunteers spend many hours of their day preparing berries, washing buckets, and working the booth at the festival. Some volunteers, like Joseph Herrmann, have been helping out since the project first began. 

“I’ve been here since the start. 43 years.”, Herrmann said. “And the first day we actually cut berries by hand with the prairie knives.” 

Now, there are machines that cut and wash the berries, which makes the process easier. 

Hetrick hopes that people visiting the festival not only get a delicious shortcake, but a friendly and welcoming experience. 

The booth is running all 11 days of the festival. Tickets are four dollars and can be bought at eight different Publix locations beforehand.


Lott invests into hauling junk

Trent Lott recently graduated from the University of Tampa and is already making big moves, as he is now a College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise owner.

College Hunks Hauling Junk is a moving company that also specializes in junk removal. The company originated in 2003 and now has over 60 locations. Trent Lott will be adding to the list when he opens his location.

Lott’s relationship with College Hunks Hauling Junk started over the summer when he was hired as a mover.

“The first couple of weeks I was just kind of doing the job to get money,” Lott said. “then I really started loving the company.”

His drive for entrepreneurship motivated him to start his own franchise.

He started doing his research and asking his general manager, Brandan Underwood for some guidance.

“It was a breath of fresh air to sit down with someone and kind of talk to them about the business side of things,” Underwood said. “I think he saw the potential here in kind of like the same way that I did and he wanted to go forward and purchase a franchise.”

After looking for a couple of months, Lott found an old tire shop in Plant City to use as his location.

Since January he has been planning and remodeling the location. Lott expects to have the College Hunks Hauling Junk Plant City location up and running by March 1