In this Florida Focus Brief: Hudson man is recovering after accidentally shooting; Duke customers are being scammed out of cash; grand opening of Tampa outlets; Tampa Bay area is one of the best markets for flipping houses; Walmart’s curb-side pick up program is now available at selected bay area superstores; Google Fiber could be coming to Tampa.
In this Florida Focus Education Brief: Trinity Home school Academy is adding a STEM class to their curriculum; USF bookstore price matches; new social media policy; Pinellas County school district cuts wireless network.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus was established f fifty years. The sailing program is not quite as old, but there is still a lot of history in those sails and even more in the surrounding waterfront.
The USFSP Sailing program has been around for approximately 25 years; the sailors have made a name for USF over time are recognized as a nationally ranked team. USF St. Petersburg has a unique campus, located the on Bayboro Harbor waterfront. The sailing program houses over 30 boats, making it easy for the students to get out of the classroom and right onto the water.
Team members say that a major reason they joined this sailing team was because of Coach Allison Jolley, an Olympic Gold Medalist in sailing. They are currently ranked tenth in the nation, with 45 members of the team.
“It’s really a lot of fun,” team member Alison Knowles said. “I have met my best friends on the team and we will be friends for the rest of our lives.”
The stomping grounds of the sailing team marks an earlier chapter of the campus’ history. In November 1939, much of the area became the US Maritime Service Training Station, where more than 120,000 members of the U.S. Army Corps, now the U.S. Airforce, trained during World War II.
This coastal campus holds a lot of history, and the sailing team plans to keep competing to make some history of their own.
Tampa Fla. – The Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance (HCADA) is combating prescription drug misuse in a unique way. HCADA is implementing a drug disposal program within Hillsborough County.
HCADA received ten thousand bags this past month and hopes to distribute these to pharmacies and clinics in the county. This is all part of a new national pilot program.
Hillsborough is one of three counties in the entire country partaking in this program.
The purpose of these bags is so you have a proper way to dispose of prescription medicines. HCADA says this is better than throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet, which has environmental effects.
“Different medications and antibiotics are actually showing in fish in the waters, where we obtain some of our food supply.” Ronnie Crescentini from HCADA says.
These bags add another way to dispose of prescription medicine. There are usually two drug take back days in the county where the coalition and members of the community can properly get rid of their unwanted medicine.
Dr. Thomas Towers, an assistant professor with USF says, “One of the benefits too is that there is a privacy to it.”
The bags can hold up to 90 pills and any type of medication can be put in them. The bags are easy to use with clear easy-to-follow instructions on the back. All you need is water. They can be thrown away and they will not harm the environment because they are biodegradable.
The long term goal for the program is that they are used by the public and funding will be awarded to keep the program going on a wider, more national scale.
The bags are free of charge and can be picked up at HCADA. If you cannot make it, HCADA will deliver one to you.
Armando Gort had one dream when he was a boy: to have his own farm. Today, that dream is a reality.
There are many animals on Gort’s farm, even though his original thought was that he would only have a few horses. He began riding horses as a young child.
“I started when I was five or six years old. My dad used to have animals, so he got me involved with animals,” he said.
He is now the founder of a nonprofit called HorsePower for Kids. Children and adults come to learn and interact with the animals.
All ages are welcome. There is a petting zoo for younger kids, and older kids can ride the horses.
It takes many volunteers to run the nonprofit. Saskia Ravelli, farm manager, says volunteers provide 95 percent of the help.
“On a regular basis during the week, we probably have about 80, but with special events, it goes up to about 300,” Ravelli said.
HorsePower for Kids is hosting a fall fundraiser with hay rides, live music, pony rides, games and activities. The event runs Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 3 through Nov. 1. Admission is $10 per person.
Money raised pays for the care of animals. Ravelli said it costs $25,000 to operate the farm.
The Tampa Police Department is teaming up with Meridian Pointe Apartments to make the city safer.
The City of Tampa Police Department presented Meridian Pointe’s property manager, Bob Kelsey, with the first ever “crime free” sign. The community came out to show their support.
Kelsey has been in charge of making the apartment complex safer for residents, which consisted of the installation of new doors, locks, lighting fixtures and securer windows.
“I wanted the residents to know that Richman Properties of Meridian Pointe really cares about each and every one of them and about their quality of life,” Kelsey said. “You can’t put a price on someone’s life.”
The result of the Tampa Police Department teaming up with Meridian Pointe has made residents and the police officers on duty feel protected and safe.
“I love working with the community,” Officer Kay Brown said. “My whole entire career that I have been here at the police department has always been community. That is my passion. To see smiling faces of people living in peace and harmony, without any interruptions from people who want to cause problems on the property, just brightens my day.”
“I know how instrumental the relationship between the police department and properties like Richman is and how important it is,” Kelsey said. “I just look forward to the future. I think it’s going to be a bright one for Meridian Pointe.”
In this Florida Focus News Brief: mother charged for contempt of court;two controversial gun bills; construction on Scott Street; Crist announces congressional run; parents want more recess; teal pumpkin project.
Ybor City streets were lined with classic cars and vintage motorcycles on Sunday as a charity event to benefit My Warrior’s Place, a nonprofit organization that serves the brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Only in its first year, this event met with great reception. The streets of Seventh Ave. were lined with cars, motorcycles and delighted spectators. Owners brought their trailer queens, the name given to show cars, from all over the state. There was something to suit everyone’s taste.
From the fields to the classroom, Marcos Gonzalez is an inspiration to his family and fellow USF students.
Growing up, Gonzalez was raised by migrant farmers who moved from city to city looking for work.
With each change of season, the Gonzalez family would be on their way to a new environment. They had no choice but to follow the crops in order to keep their family fed.
Gonzalez had to play the role of both son and student, which proved to be difficult.
“I did dual enrollment to ensure that college was an option,” Gonzalez said. “I would drive an hour to school and then an hour back, play baseball so that I had extracurriculars under my belt, then go work in the fields with my father.”
With dreams of his future constantly on his mind, Gonzalez worked diligently to apply to schools and scholarships. Sometimes, his migrant lifestyle got in the way of his college plans.
“I was actually a finalist for the Gates Millennium Scholarship for a quarter of a million dollars. Due to my migrant lifestyle, my GPA suffered and I didn’t meet the requirements.”
Even with these setbacks, he persevered. A member of the business community at USF, Gonzalez is also an ambassador and a world traveler. But he still believes that his family is what is most important.
“I have studied abroad in China and Italy yet I still work in the fields with my dad every summer. I guess some things will never change.”
Tampa, Fla.—The Feed-A-Bull food pantry gives emergency aid to students who are struggling to afford food.
Feed-A-Bull is a food pantry started by the Office of Student Outreach and Support (SOS), Wellness Education, and Feeding America USF. It is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We really want our students to use the pantry more than once if they need to,” the senior case manager for SOS, Callie Nettles, said. “It is on an emergency need basis, and we hope that’s honored, but we don’t want any reason for the students not to come back if they need to.”
Students who need to use the food pantry must have their USF ID or a valid U-number. They must also be enrolled in classes.
Students who use the food pantry receive prepared bags of food that are made by volunteers. Students with dietary restrictions or allergies may have food items substituted in their bags.
Feeding America USF Vice President Neesha Hira said that a lot of students have already used the food pantry.
“A lot of people come – boys and girls of different ethnicities,” Hira said. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Nettles said that Feed-A-Bull has received a positive response from students; some have even wanted to give back to the food pantry by volunteering.
“I’m really impacted by USF and how supportive it has been,” Nettles said. “It really seems to be a community that has got each other’s backs. Between the students that have been utilizing it and have wanted to give back, the students who want to donate or do food drives, and the faculty and staff who want to support the initiative, it has just been overwhelming.”
On North Howard Avenue hides a closet haven for Tampa women. Dress for Success of Tampa Bay is a non-profit organization that provides women with the attire for a professional career and the confidence as well.
The women of Dress for Success give women confidence, support and the little push needed to get women into the workforce.
“Most people know us for giving out suits, but we do more than that. We give out the suits, but we also give women hope,” said Katie McGill, executive director.
Dress for Success offers a 9-week career program called the “Going Places Network” which is for unemployed women seeking employment. During those nine weeks the participants have three mock interviews, a job coach and resume building classes. Along with building career skills, the program also increases the women’s confidence.
“It’s amazing! We are at over 83% placement. And what I see, they come in and it’s the confidence. They had no confidence and the self-esteem is low. And by the end of that nine weeks, when they have the graduation, they are totally different women,” said McGill.
After receiving her diploma Liliana–a recent graduate from the Going Places Network, expressed her appreciation and gratitude for Dress for Success during a speech she gave.
“The Going Places program has been exceptional. I did not know that programs like this existed before. I liked it so much I would like to repeat,” Liliana said.
Now in its 17th year, Dress for Success Tampa Bay is looking forward to many more years of helping, empowering and giving back to the women of Tampa Bay.
“I love Dress for Success because I see how it really makes women feel and change. The whole thing is to empower them so they can empower someone else,” said McGill.
Hillsborough County residents are keeping our waterways clean one garbage bag at a time. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful hosted their 28th annual cleanup of the Hillsborough River and coastal lines.
Thousands of volunteers came out to more than 80 Hillsborough County cleanup locations.
“We always have tremendous support,” said Tom Damico, environmental program coordinator at Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. “We have so many school groups, church groups, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and Eagle scouts interested in community service projects.”
When volunteers arrived at the Ben T. Davis Beach location they were given a free garbage bag, a pair of gloves, and a checklist. The volunteers were asked to check off any item they found and write in others that weren’t on the list. The top littered items were cigarette butts, bottle caps, plastic bags and beverage containers.
“At first I didn’t realize that all of these things would be on the list but as I looked around I was like ok, this is pretty common,” said Phillip Scott, a local volunteer. “I guess it was like an eye opener for me.”
Last year approximately 4000 volunteers helped collect more than 60,000 pounds of litter from more than 75 cleaning locations and waterways in Hillsborough County.
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful hosts two annual clean ups to benefit Hillsborough County. The Great American Clean Up in the spring and the River and Coastal cleanup in the fall. Even with those measures, there is still a tremendous amount of litter left.
“We have studies from the EPA that show that 80 percent of the litter that ends up in our neighborhoods, streets and roadways end up being washed into our waterways,” Damico said. “We’ve got to stop that cycle.”
For more information on upcoming clean ups and how to help keep Hillsborough County clean visit Keeptampabaybeautiful.org.
Randolph Link is no longer dealing with depression alone, he found The Diversity Initiative (TDI) and together they work on his confidence.
With several locations throughout the Tampa Bay area, TDI helps hundreds of people every year.
“Here it was very directed, they helped me with my resume, beef up my resume,” TDI client Randolph Link said. “And, they pointed me in the direction of companies that were really tailored made and suited for me. That’s why it was really good.”
Link recently closed his case successfully and now works from home in customer service.
“The ambition that a person has really dictates how well they are going to do, and I came in with a lot of ambition,” Link said. “And, they really helped me just by being there for me and helping me with my disabilities.”
TDI employment consultants work directly with their clients, helping them find a job.
“At least once a week, we have to coach them at work, we have to teach them how to be working, teach them how to wake up in the morning and take a shower and get up and go to work,” TDI Employment Consultant Margarita Rosario said.
According to Wallethub’s study, Tampa is ranked in the Top 10 for best cities for people with disabilities.
The process with a client at TDI consists of multiple professional workshops and educational programs.
“We can be working with them forever, or we can be working with them for two years,” Rosario said. “And, sometimes when they feel really comfortable they can be by themselves.”
This local organization financially secures its clients.
“So, it’s a good feeling to work and become tired from work, rather than just being tired because I’m depressed all the time,” Link said.
TAMPA, Fl.– Rocky D. Bull is an icon most known for his appearances at USF sporting events. The USF mascot’s history goes back some 50 years and is an essential piece of USF’s heritage, student life and athletic competitions.
“Higher-ups in the administration of USF wanted to have a mascot designated, so they left it up to the students,” USF Associate Librarian Andrew Huse said.
Students came forward with different suggestions including the Buccaneer, the Desert Rats and the Golden Brahman.
“A lot of people don’t know that Florida has a cattle history going back many centuries… and I think it was clear early on that the administration liked this one,” Huse said.
Conflict arose when the Buccaneer was the declared winner of the first student vote by a margin of three votes. Upon the naming committee’s discovery of a junior college in Pensacola already using the pirate as a mascot, a student petitioned for a referendum where the Golden Brahman Bull won.
When it comes to modern day Rocky, he is no longer a Brahman Bull. As just USF’s bull, he is now a nationally recognized mascot.
“Back in 2013 when Rocky won the Capital One Mascot challenge… It was a long season and every week we’d have to keep on voting and I remember by the end for our school to win, it was a big deal,” said USF cheerleader Heath Rinkus. “We were all really excited in the spirit department.”
The University of South Florida football team kicked off a brand new season against Florida A&M on Saturday. With a 51-3 win over the Rattlers, the Bulls’ new results have heightened fan expectations.
“Willie’s been working really hard with the team. It’s going to be really positive.” USF alumna Cara Zeph said. “I’m ready to see the student section this year. Hoping more fans come out!”
“It’s a great atmosphere. You guys put on a great show,” Bulls fan Matt Foy said. “We just need to start winning games. Like anything, when you start winning games, people come back and support your team.”
Support isn’t something the Bulls lacked at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night, with a full student section and a total of 30,434 people in attendance. Head coach Willie Taggart contributes some of the team’s victory to the support of the fans.
“That was big time. Best student section in the country. I’ll tell you what, that’s a big reason the guys played like they did,” Taggart said. “We intend on playing that way and keeping it that way. That’s how Ray Jay should be.”
USF won by its largest margin since a 54-24 win over the University of Texas at El Paso in 2011. Quarterback Quinton Flowers threw two touchdowns and ran for another, while Marlon Mack rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown.
“From what I saw today from our guys we’re ready to win. We’re tired of losing. That’s not South Florida,” Flowers said. “Coaches stress that every day. Let’s get us back to where we were. When tickets used to be sold out. We were going to bowl games. So that’s where we’re trying to get South Florida back at.”
In this Florida Focus News Brief: burglary in a north Tampa gun shop; red tide levels increase in Sarasota and Manatee counties; St. Pete/Clearwater airport sees record growth thanks to Allegiant Airlines; Amazon job fair in Ruskin; and the Hillsborough county fair is coming to town.