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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Hillary Clinton spent her 69th birthday on the campaign trail in Florida, attending rallies in both Lake Worth and Tampa. Early voting began on Monday in the state, causing both major party nominees to return to encourage supporters to show up to the polls.
The rally included guest appearances from Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett. All speakers emphasized the necessity of early voting and the weight the swing state holds in the general election.
Florida Aquarium employee Eric Hovland and guest Angela Moody share a passion for marine life and the environment in which they live.
Hovland has seen The Florida Aquarium blossom into the popular Tampa attraction that it is today.
“I’ve worked here at The Florida Aquarium for going on 22 years in May and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Hovland said. “Seeing the facility grow over the years and being able to work with all of the diverse species of marine life on a daily basis has been a dream come true for me.”
Located in downtown Tampa, right next to Port Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium offers its patrons a unique experience that is unlike any other aquarium in the United States.
“I had no idea until I got here that you could dive with sharks at this aquarium,” Moody said. “I’ve never heard of anything like that at any other aquarium I’ve ever been to.”
The Florida Aquarium was the first aquarium in the nation to offer an uncaged dive with sharks experience.
“We have the sand tiger sharks and all of our diverse fish that you can get to know,” Hovland said. “Learning about sharks can really accelerate when you can see sharks being sharks.”
People from all over the world travel to Tampa, which in turn brings many diverse people and cultures to The Florida Aquarium.
“Whether they’re getting off a cruise ship and stopping in for a visit, we really do get a diversity of the world’s culture,” Hovland said. “It’s nice to see our impact reaches much further than just the Tampa Bay area.”
Roland Strobel is the co-creator of The Cider Press Cafe located in St.Petersburg. They create tasty dishes from natural ingredients without using an oven, stove or microwave.
“It is a vegan restaurant but we are mainly a raw and gluten free restaurant. We don’t cook a lot of our dishes but we prepare them in ways and process them without cooking them,” Strobel said.
Kitchen manager Christina Barbara has been working at the cafe since it opened August of last year. She has maintained a smooth operating kitchen by making sure the preparation is done correctly. “The prep work is the main art of the food here basically. That is the most important, the most crucial thing cause if you don’t have that recipe down right then it doesn’t even taste right,” Barbara said. Barbara has expanded her knowledge of cooking and combining of flavors from working at the cafe. “Working here will definitely give you a different aspect of life. How to make your vegetables a new way of combining them into everyday eating and healthy living,” Barbara said.
The Cider Press Cafe incorporates paintings from local artists in the community to feature in the restaurant. The cafe also features an event night the first Wednesday of every month where guests can drink wine and beer and paint pictures.
The University of South Florida soccer defenders Estefania Fuentes and Grace Adams are not your typical college athletes, because both play soccer for their countries national soccer team.
Fuentes plays for Mexico’s and Adams represents Ghana’s national soccer team.
“In the national team you are representing a whole country, like everybody is paying attention to you and you need to be focused and know you can have fun, but with responsibility, because it’s not only you or your university,” Fuentes said. “It’s millions of people on your back.”
Coming from opposite sides of the world, both players are strengthened by their strong religious beliefs, which they believe is the key to their success. Adams says she always prays.
“I talk to my God communicate with him to give me the strength and remind me off everything that I learned in the field that my coaches taught us,” Adams said. “That is what I always do all the time.”
While both athletes continue to have a successful season, they also face challenges within the team.
“The language is a huge difference here at USF,” Fuentes said. “The language comes slower than Spanish so I have to be more focused.”
The language barrier does not intimidate either player. Both defenders strive for a victorious season finale at USF.
Led by recruiting coordinator Antonio Nelson and starting quarterback Brandon Conner, the Gattaca Junior College football program, a local Tampa Bay junior college, is making a name for itself.
Entering only its third season of football, GJC is striving to not only win games on the field, but develop the character of its players off the field as well.
“How to treat people, uh, be respectable, yes sir no sir,” Nelson said. “Just become a better young man overall.”
Located in Tampa, GJC offers full-time college credit classes online as well as in person at Hillsborough Community College campuses.
“That’s not only on the field, its off the field,” Conner said. “it taught me a lot, honestly like, but being a man is number one you know it’s time to step into the real world.”
As the recruiting coordinator, Nelson has the responsibility of bringing talented young men to the program. One of the main recruiting tools that GJC uses to keep in touch with recruits is the use of social media.
“Right now our biggest hit is Facebook,” Nelson said. “We get a lot of kids from the Facebook page.”
Although being a Florida-based program, GJC still travels all over the east coast to play other junior college opponents.
“We travel all over,” Nelson said. “We travel to Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.”
Gattaca started its program in August 2013 and will travel to Kentucky this season for the first time in school history.
In this Florida Focus Military Brief: 2017 Pay raise for our military is less than expected, U.S Navy will be getting new uniforms, Veteran Homelessness is cut in half and a new veterans resource center will be built in Hillsborough County.
In this episode: Police are searching for a hit and run driver. A drunk driver crashes into a home. New details in a seven-year-old case. Tickets go on sale today from Tampa to Havana and Amazon now delivers food to your doorsteps.
In this episode: Florida voter registration has been extended; Bill Clinton comes to Safety Harbour tonight while Donald Trump plans to campaign in Lakeland tomorrow; Hurricane Matthew has caused 80 insurance claims in Bay area counties; clown costumes have been pulled from local Goodwill shelves; the Tampa Police Department pays tribute to Lois Marrero.
In this episode: Florida earned an “F” in medical transparency, making it difficult for patients to compare prices and services among heath care providers; University of South Florida Professor Juan Sanchez-Ramos is using a nasal spray to treat Huntington’s Disease; the demand for home caregivers is increasing in Florida as the baby boomer population continues to age; Florida schools would need to triple the number of registered nurses to meet the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics; hospitals in the Bay Area are now available for virtual care through websites and mobile apps.
In this episode: Hillsborough County Deputies designed a campaign to educate drivers about bus safety; a study says that the learning gap between higher and lower income students is closing; the University of South Florida ranks 9th nationwide for universities granted patents; the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) now has more autism-accessible experiences.
In this episode: Sewage problems spread across the Bay area following Hurricane Hermine; Clearwater Police participated in opioid overdose training; City officials released new details about a High-Speed Ferry service; The church of Scientology hosted a prayer party for International Day of Peace.
On Saturday Mar. 26, the Solar Energy Society at USF held their annual Solar Energy Fair. It is an event created to help teach the Tampa community about the latest innovations and technologies offered around the city. At this year’s event, there were Question and Answer panels with University professors and specialists; however, the true heart of the event lies with the students who make it all possible.
This year, two USF graduates presented their research to the public in order to share their new ideas. “I have always been a solar enthusiast,” said Arun Kumar. “I hope that these technologies and my research can be used in Third World countries to help other people.”
New breakthroughs are also coming from female students, such as Francesca Moloney who said: “From an early age I knew I wanted to focus my career on something in the environment.”
Both of these students hope to take their research and implement them at the university and across the Tampa Bay area. If their research and innovations succeed, they hope to apply them around the world. They aspire to build awareness in the community about the research being conducted, so that people can make wiser choices in their everyday lives.
The founder and CEO of Tampa Bay AfroFit, is aiming to spread the influence of African culture into the Tampa Bay community by infusing it with dance and cardio.
Natacha Zamor was raised by Haitian parents in Montreal.
Zamor grew up learning Haitian folk dances with her grandmother.
“When we would dance, we would sweat, we really did sweat and I remember always thinking this is such a great workout,” Zamor said.
Before starting Afrofit in 2015, Zamor—who was been a registered nurse— saw the need for an exercise program like this in the community. She noticed many programs, such as Zumba, and thought that there was something missing for the people of African decent.
“It’s not just exercise, we dance, we laugh, and also she (Zamor) educates people,” Roberte Francios, an AfroFit participant, said.
Since starting AfroFit, Zamor has made it her mission to educate those around her about what they are really doing during their time with her.
“Our mission, our culture, doesn’t just rest on that, it rests on the younger generations, older generations, re-appropriating what has been lost,” Zamor said. Afrofit is located in Wesley Chapel Florida.
To learn more about AfroFit group classes, events and workshops please visit their website Tampabayafrofit.com or email them at Tampabayafrofit@gmail.com.
Pam and Tom Cronin, owners of the Shell Factory, spent years renovating and redesigning the park with families in mind- especially the kids. Field trips to the park are welcomed, and the Cronin’s are willing to help teachers overcome any obstacles to make the trips possible for the students.
“When Lee county stopped supplying school buses for the kids for field trips, Tom and Pam Cronin decided they would do it. So we pay for all the kids to come here,” Anne Sheridan, the Shell Factory general manager, said.
During these sponsored field trips, students get to experience nature up close in the Nature Park. According to the website, the Nature Park includes over 400 wild animals; aviaries filled with different types of birds, tortoises, turtles and iguanas; an Eco Lab for exotic snakes and more. Gator biscuits are also available for visitors to toss out to the alligators that live within the park.
“Our Nature Park Environmental Education Foundation has raised capital sufficient to fund field trips for over four thousand school children who otherwise would have been unable to visit the attraction,” The Cronins said on their website.
The park, however, is still growing and changing every year.
“As a work in progress the Nature Park is always expanding, improving, and acquiring new inhabitants,” according to the Shell Factory’s website.
Pam and Tom also host special events outside of school functions on the property. Weddings and corporate meetings can utilized one of two special rooms in the park- the Dolphin room and the Party Room- as well as birthday parties or other celebrations.
The factory was voted best shell store by North Fort Myers in both 2014 and 2015. Years in the making, the Shell Factory has become one of the best places in South Florida for locals and tourists alike.
Nearly 3,000 USF students flocked to the Marshall Student Center Ballroom last week for the annual USF Career Fair.
Students from all different majors were able to speak with hundreds of employers across the four different fairs held throughout the week. They were able to discuss future internship and employment opportunities in their chosen career fields.
“I’m excited about Career Fair because it’s a great opportunity to make connections and kind of get my foot in the door at the start of my career,” USF accounting major, Mitchel Geron, said.
The fair has been held twice a year, one in each fall and spring semester, for over 20 years on USF campus. This fair has given many students the platforms they need to learn the opportunities they have with the degree they will earn.
“Many of these interactions will lead to full-time job interviews, internship interviews, and summer employment opportunities,” Assistant Vice President of USF Career Services, Russ Coughenour, said.
USF Career Services will return with another career fair in the fall of 2016 with more employers and opportunities for students to network with major organizations.
Coughenour finished by stating, “These fairs get USF students the valuable out of classroom experience that they so desperately need so each year Career Services is very proud to bring Career Week to USF students.”