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.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 14, 2017

In this news brief: the coast guard says they have recovered the body of missing passenger; a man is charged with aggravated battery for hitting a deputy with his car mirror; Tampa Police Department is teaming up with a national non-profit to help at-risk youth; a prime location on Bayshore Boulevard is set to be a 24 story condominium; Publix is selling heart shaped steaks to help celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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.