Tampa Pride Remembers Pulse Shooting

Ybor City welcomed thousands to the Tampa Pride Parade on Saturday to celebrate the LGBTQ community and pay tribute to victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Centro Ybor was packed with events on the strip of Seventh Avenue, including a parade and street festival, all of which were open to the public.

Tampa Pride featured a special ceremony to remember the lives of victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting last June. This was the first Pride event since the shooting occurred.

“Since the shooting, things have been very different,” said Alisha, a Tampa Pride attendee. “It is nice to see everyone come together to support the cause and still see there are people in the community that support what we are doing here.”

Many local and national celebrities came out to support the festival, including Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and Scotty Davis, a radio host from 93.3 FL-Z.

Rue, a gay rights activist, spoke about the changes he’s noticed in the over 25 years he’s been attending Pride parades.

“It was mainly a march saying this is who we are and we’re proud to do it,” Rue said. “We didn’t have any elected officials behind us, you know, sponsors to say, so it’s a really different atmosphere.”

The crowd gathered to pay homage to the victims of the shooting in Orlando, while also celebrating the differences that brought them together for such a unique occasion.

USF Second Baseman Honored by Conference

Coco Montes,a USF sophomore infielder, was recognized by the American Athletic Conference during a big week for USF baseball. The team went 5-0 and had a huge win against Florida State. Montes totaled three runs, his second home run of the season and a team-high five RBIs. Montes said he is ready to continue this type of play throughout the rest of his sophomore year.

“My body feels a lot better than last year,” Montes said. “Just being able to come out here and start winning, that’s going to be the biggest thing for me.”

The second baseman was recruited out of Miami with the vision that he could immediately have an impact on USF’s baseball program.  Montes had a big freshman year, but has improved since then.

Both Montes and head coach Mark Kingston said they believe that confidence has a lot to do with it.

“He is just a better all-around player. He’s taken the second base very well,” Kingston said. “I just think his confidence is at an all-time high.”

Coco Montes says being AAC’s player of the week is nice, but he’s more proud of the fact that his team had a great week.

 

College Student Builds Own Iron Man Suits

 

A student in Lakeland has a unique way of spending his free time.

Dorian Alberti, an engineering student at Florida Polytechnic University, has a hobby of creating his own versions of the Iron Man suit. He has made 14 suits, and he is currently making suits 15 and 16.

“Well, since I was really young, and the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008, I actually started to think that I wanted an Iron Man suit,” Dorian said. “As I started to build them, my expertise wasn’t that great. As I grew up, it got more intricate and better looking.”

Dorian built his first suit when he was only in the fifth grade. He constructs the suits by himself in a shed behind his house in Madison.

“He went from using duct tape and cardboard, and from that, the suits are going to progress a lot more,” said Carlos Rodriquez, another student at Polytechnic University.

Dorian has high expectations for his future suits. He wants to include bullet resistance material, strength that exceeds human strength and the ability to fly. Dorian wants to work for a military contractor to build these suits.

“I feel like I could help a lot of other people with what I do,” said Dorian. “The more progress I make, the closer the gap gets of me being able to do that. I hope it can protect us as Americans, if I get to that point.”

Leadership Day Held at Fox Chapel Middle School

Students and parents filled the halls of Fox Chapel Middle School on Wednesday to take part in Leadership Day.

Arianna Carter, a seventh-grader and member of student government, spent the day playing in the band and working behind the scenes to make the day run smoothly.

“Leadership Day is a day that we show Hernando County what the seven habits are and how we use them to help the community,” said Carter.

The Leader in Me is a school transformation model, developed in partnership with educators, that empowers students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.

Magen Schlechter, a teacher at Fox Chapel, said this program allows students to learn what it means to be a leader and how little changes in their personal life can help them persevere.

“Each habit represents certain character features that we should work on and improve on day-to-day to help us be the most effective leaders we can be,” Schlechter said.

Over 25 projects took part in Fox Chapel’s third-annual Leadership Day. The school’s Beta Club will be nationally recognized by the Leader in Me program for completing over 350 hours of community service.

Carter, a member of the Beta Club, is inspired to continue being a leader outside the classroom.

“We really just help around the community,” Carter said. “I heard that high schools have beta clubs too and I’d like to help more.” 

For Schlechter, watching her students embrace this program is one of many things she’s happy about.

“I’m really proud that the kids have found something to be proud of,” said Schlechter. “You see kids in a new light and they become completely different people and it’s an awesome thing.”

 

Florida Focus News Brief April 3, 2017

In this news brief: A Hernando man confesses to fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend with a large sword; A $25,000 reward is being offered for the safe return of a missing teen; St. Petersburg police are cracking down on bike and pedestrian traffic violaters; longer life spans are leading to increasing numbers of neurological disorders.

Florida Focus News Brief April 5, 2017

In this news brief: new bell schedules are in the works for Hillsborough County schools to help the district save money; a Bradenton police officer speaks out after a vicious attack by a burglar attempting to rob a jewelry store; Panera Bread is being bought by more then seven billion dollars.

Florida Focus News Brief Apr. 6, 2017

In this news brief: a man is dead after holding a property manager hostage over a rent dispute; four local agencies conduct a search for missing teen Hailey Acierno; a woman faces child neglect charges after giving birth while on crack cocaine; Tampa celebrates National Burrito Day with Taco Bus’ El Jefe Burrito Eating Championship.

Florida Focus NOTD April 10, 2017

In this news brief: a brush fire in Hernando County is now 75 percent contained; Tampa gas prices increased more than the national average, jumping 18 cents in one week; a Springhill man died early this morning after an overnight head-on collision; a game of pool turns deadly at a St.Petersburg bar, and a man faces a manslaughter charge; Hillsborough wants to ban abusive cat and dog mills, encouraging the sale of rescue pets instead.

Florida Focus News Brief April 11, 2017

In this brief: two brush fires are on-going in Pasco County; the Hillsborough Planning Commission and the Florida Department of Health are holding a meeting to receive feedback on safety issues from residents of Terrace Park; a school bus crash in Sarasota sends seven students, a bus driver, a bus attendant, and driver of another car to the hospital; Zephyrhills Police are asking for help in their search for three men who stole weapons from the Sunshine State Armory after crashing a pickup truck into the store on Sunday.

Florida Focus News Brief April 12, 2017

In this news brief: The Bay area held a memorial for a teen in Tampa; a man died this morning after being trapped in a Pasco County house fire; Pasco County is now under a burn ban, and fires cannot be set in unincorporated areas without a permit; local organizations hosted over one thousand Bay area high school students for a construction career day.

Florida Focus News Brief April 13, 2017

In this news brief: crews in Pasco County are getting closer to containing four Pasco County wildfires; Pasco Sheriff’s Office is looking for two masked thieves who robbed a Wesley Chapel 7-11; a USF St. Petersburg historian is charged with child pornography; wildlife officials are asking parents to avoid buying ducks for Easter baskets; local tax service agencies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt will have extended business hours this weekend to help you file your taxes.

Florida Focus News Brief April 17, 2017

In this news brief: firefighters in Hernando County are still fighting a brush fire; a water shortage warning is in effect for South Florida; a man is in custody after he was found sleeping on a church roof; parents can now bring their obsolete car seats to Target; tax returns are due tomorrow and is bringing deals along with it.

New Head Coach for USF Football

In December of 2016, the University of South Florida named Charlie Strong the new head coach of the football team, following Willie Taggart.

With a few months under his belt, Strong is excited to build on the strong foundation that is already in place.

“I saw the program here and just knew that it had the chance to really develop and become something special,” Strong said.

In a short amount of time, the new head coach has already had an impact on the program for spring ball.

“We are just moving in the right direction, fast, and I believe he will have a great impact,” Elkanah Dillon, tight end, said.

Strong’s coaching career has included 15 years in Florida, sporadically, since 1983, according to ESPN. During that time, he built relationships with high school coaches, players and community leaders. These relationships may help Strong to continue creating strong recruiting classes in seasons to come.

USF football is on the rise. They won 11 games last season, but Charlie Strong wants to continue pushing the team to improve and make it to conference title games.

“That’s what you play for,” Strong said. “You want to make sure you go and compete and win.”

Clearwater Market Gives Local Businesses a Chance to Grow

The Pierce Street Market gives shoppers a unique experience and helps local businesses grow by interacting with the community.

Employee Brandon Hylton of Good Vibes Juice Company believes his employer has grown with the market.

“We’ve been here for a little bit over a year now and we kind of have started with them and now have created a nice, huge market,” Hylton said. “If you look around, there’s people everywhere, we started from a very small market and we have kind of grown with the market.”

The Pierce Street Market started in October 2015 when Natalie Nagengast, founder, was walking her dog around Clearwater and found an area that would suit a local market. 

“She lives in this downtown area,” Gutierrez said. “She thought, ‘what a great location to put a market,’ and from that idea we created Pierce Street.”

The waterfront market is located on Drew Street in downtown Clearwater under the Memorial Causeway Bridge. It has over 100 vendors where shoppers will find jewelry, clothes, art, produce, furniture, fresh flowers and food.

“We really pride ourselves on having a really good variety of vendors and really great quality as well,” Gutierrez said. “Our food trucks are to die for, so come hungry and you’ll leave happy.”

The market will be open the second and fourth Saturday of March from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On May 13, it will run on the second Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until September 9.

For any business interested in being a vendor at Pierce Street, submit an application form two weeks before the next desired day of the market. The vendor application form and FAQ page can be found at www.piercestreetmarket.com.

 

 

Film director travels across country for Gasparilla International Film Festival

 

A film director from Los Angeles traveled miles to see his film air in the Gasparilla International Film Festival.

Jordan Roberts’ movie “Burn Your Maps,” was selected to be the first film shown during the kick off night of the festival.

The movie is centered around an 8-year-old boy that realized he does not belong in an American society but rather in a Mongolian one. He goes to extreme measures to travel to Mongolia to reach, what he believes, is his true home.

“It’s based on a short story,” Roberts said. “It’s only about seventeen pages and I think the short story takes us about 15 minutes into the movie and then everything after that was invented.”

The movies shown in the Gasparilla International Film Festival are all selected by its president, Rachel Feinman. This is her third year as president and each year she spends hours watching movies that have the potential to be shown in the festival.

The Gasparilla International Film Festival has launched into eight full days of film and festivities for the first time in its existence.

“This is our eleventh year for the film festival,” Feinman said. “It’s something that brings unique films to the community and also supports our local filmmakers in the community.”

Education panels for the film industry also launched for this year’s Gasparilla International Film Festival.

 

New Port Richey running club promotes fitness at Gasparilla

The Gasparilla Distance Classic played host to numerous charities and running clubs, including a New Port Richey-based running group.

NPR Running’s founding members, Tammy Carr and Jaana Jala, started the group to help family members and their kids stay active in the New Port Richey community.

“We are an all-level, all-ages, fitness and running group from New Port Richey, Florida, and what we emphasize is that all levels get out there and just keep moving,” Carr said.

Today, NPR Running participates in marathons across the country, which was unthinkable to Carr and Jala given the adversity that they experienced nearly five years ago.

“I was just getting bigger and bigger so I decided it was time to make a life change,” Jala said. “I quit my job, moved to Florida, came down here with a suitcase. But the weather down here is beautiful and it was kind of like jumping off a cliff and changing your entire life.”

Gasparilla is only a local example of the runs that NPR Running participates in. The group travels across the country to triathlons in places like Savannah, Georgia, and Central Park in New York.

“We have racked up, like last year, 26,000 miles,” Carr said. “It’s the equivalent of going around the globe as a group in the miles that we’ve dedicated ourselves that we were going to do.”

Setting The Biscuit Bar In Tampa

 

Kathryn Fulmer is a culinary school graduate who turned her childhood dream into a reality with her handmade biscuits.

Bayshore Biscuit Company, opened in November 2016, is a catering company that specializes in “biscuit bars.” The biscuit bars offer a unique catering experience to consumers, with the biscuit being the center of attention.

“You can give someone a biscuit but if you have the whole spread like a biscuit bar and you’re able to customize it with fried chicken, pimento cheese, sausage gravy. Really the options are endless” Fulmer said. “It gives a new experience and a new life to the biscuit that people maybe didn’t always think about.”

Fulmer’s passion for making biscuits started in her grandmother’s kitchen when she was only 10 years old. Throughout the years, she has perfected her recipe.

“Biscuits as simple as they are, can be quite complex because the littlest measurement off of your ingredients can really throw off the recipe,” Fulmer said.

In early March, Bayshore Biscuit Company was a first-time participant in the Hyde Park Market in Tampa, Florida. All 250 biscuits sold out in only three hours.

“The strawberry biscuit was the best I ever had,” Michael Raphaely said, a first-time customer.

Fulmer plans to continue to participate in local markets, but she also wants to focus on the catering experience that Bayshore Biscuit Company has to offer.

“It’s different, but people love it,” Fulmer said. “People love different foods. So I’m really hoping to grow the catering side of the business and really give people an experience that they won’t forget.”

If you’re interested in having a biscuit bar at your next event, you can visit www.bbiscuitco.com for catering information. Bayshore Biscuit Company is also on Facebook and Instagram where you can find information on upcoming markets.

 

 

A Young Florida High Girls Basketball Team Heads to Lakeland

A Young Florida High Girls Basketball Team Heads to Lakeland 

After defeating their opponent during overtime to win the regional final, Tallahassee’s Florida High is ready for the state finals in Lakeland.

Last year, the Florida High Lady Noles had an unsuccessful season. They lost in the first round of the district championships. According to head coach Darryl Marshall, this year has been different.

“The season has been great. The girls came out mentally focused, ready for the season and ready for this run that we are on now since day one,” Marshall said.

The Lady Noles are now on the verge of making history as the youngest ever to win a 5A State Championship. Two of three team leaders are in eighth and ninth grade. Freshman Kendall Thomas and eighth grader Jordan Rosier have led this team to the state semi-finals.

“I’m the point guard, I am the leader of this team,” Thomas said. “I just go out and play my own game.”

“I had a lot more responsibility this year, I had to put on a big pair of shoes this year and step up,” Rosier said.

These young players must carry triumphant athleticism in their blood because 10 years ago it was their older sisters, Chelsea Rosier and Autumn Thomas that led the Lady Noles to win the state championship.

“Growing up it was always me and her and now it’s so funny to see Jordan and Kendall,” Chelsea Rosier said. “It’s like déjà vu.”

This young duo is only a small part of this dynamic team. The Lady Noles will play Fort Lauderdale’s Cardinal Gibbons on Wednesday, Feb. 22, as they strive to win the state championship and continue to make history.