Skateboarders Excited For Bro Bowl 2.0 Opening

 

After years of hard work and dedication, Bro Bowl 2.0 in downtown Tampa opened on April 16.

The skatepark is a recreation of the 1979 Bro Bowl in Tampa. City officials had plans to demolish the skatepark and rebuild Perry Harvey Sr. Park.

Shannon Bruffett, the director of The Skateboarding Heritage Foundation, was involved in the effort to save the skatepark.

“I grew up skating here for almost thirty years. (I’m a) Tampa native, so it means a lot to me and the history of Tampa and skateboarding in Tampa,” Bruffett said. “I wanted this to be acknowledged just as much as the rest of Central Avenue’s history, since it played a role in it.”

The skatepark was developed for beginning and advanced skateboarders alike to have a safe place to skate.

Organizations like Boards for Bros support skateboarding in the community and help people who are not able to purchase a board.

“We target unserviced youth and we make sure they can have whatever they need to have to skateboard,” Michelle Box, the executive director for Boards for Bros, said. “So, we supply them with skateboards, experiences at the skatepark of Tampa, lessons, peer mentoring and things like that.”

The skatepark not only attracts people interested in the hobby, but it also gives them the opportunity to express their love for skateboarding.

“Skateboarding has always been a part of this city as long as it’s been around, and hopefully it will (continue for) generations to come,” Bruffett said.

Honoring Veterans in Zephyrhills

Zephyrhills’ annual Veteran’s Day parade took place this Saturday. Roughly two hundred people showed up to support the veterans and show their appreciation.

After the National Anthem was sung and the Pledge of Allegiance was said, the parade participants began making their way down Fifth Avenue.

Various groups of veterans headed down the street one car or trailer at a time. They were followed by Zephyrhills High School ROTC and JROTC members, Helen’s Baton and Dance Studio dancers, several leagues of Boy Scouts and a few other veteran-supporting groups.

Also in the mix of veterans were the animals who served the country. These included dogs and horses.

Main Street Zephyrhills hosts this event every year. A member of the board of Main Street Zephyrhills, Jody Wilkeson, commented on the history of the parade.

“The Veteran’s Day parade has been going on for over ten years here in downtown,” Wilkeson said. “On and off, probably for twenty years since Main Street was first formed.”

The announcer of the parade, Greg First, was honored to recognize veterans again this year, as he has been announcing the parade for years. He too is a veteran.

“I was in during Vietnam, 1968 to 1972,” First said. “The war that no one really liked back then but I was happy to serve. I’d do it again.”

The parade reminds us to show gratitude to our veterans and remember all those who served.

 

WMNF Bridges the Gap

 

The WMNF radio station hosted its third Bridging the Gap series. The series was a fundraiser that included five poets and five rappers from the Tampa Bay area.

Xavier “Cool Kid” Grullon, a 22-year-old slam poet, was excited to perform at the show.

 “I think we’re creative in two different outlets, but I think we should be able to come together and share the same stage,” Grunion said when asked what “bridging the gap” meant to him.

Mike Mass, a rapper in the Tampa Bay hip hop community was also excited about the series.

 “There’s a shared interest between those two crowds and the consumers of those two crowds,” Mass said, 

Bridging the Gap is a semi-annual event designed to raise money for WMNF, a radio station run almost entirely on donations and volunteers. The radio event was aired on Saturday evening, and is available for download on the station’s website.

The event itself was not a competitive one. It was used primarily to bring the audiences of the Saturday night shows together. The ten performers were given roughly ten minutes each, or the equivalent of a set on a local stage. The show aired from 11 P.M. Saturday night to early Sunday morning around 1 A.M..

Non-profit organization helps children succeed

According to the website, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay uses hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with business and educators, Junior Achievement brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential.

Fifth grade student Sonja Assidy is the CEO of Bright House. She works hard to make sure her business runs smoothly.

“I take checks to Kane’s Furniture, I go get the checks from Kane’s Furniture, bring it here, make sure my CFO signs it and then put it where it needs to go,” Assidy said.

Sally Eidge is the Director of Junior Achievement and sees over a hundred students daily. She wants every student to learn a valuable lesson.

“They need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you actually have to earn it and then spend it wisely,” Eidge said.

Before visiting JA BizTown, students complete a pre-visit curriculum program where they learn basic economic principles such as how to manage their personal bank account.

Kelly Thorne is a fifth grade language arts teacher at Deer Park Elementary and prepared her students for 12 weeks prior to coming to JA Biztown.

“We spend a lot of time on how to write checks, how to deposit checks, that whole process and how to budget their money,” Thorne said. “How when they get a paycheck, they have to make sure they save some money for their lunch, and then they have some spending money.”

Tropicana Field Stingrays Find New Winter Home

 

The stingrays from Tropicana Field are making the Manatee Viewing Center their winter home.

Tampa Electric built a stingray touch tank at the Manatee Viewing Center, which is open from Nov. 1 through April 15. The stingrays will be in the Manatee Viewing Center for about four months. After winter, half of them will return to the Tropicana Field, while the others will stay in the center.

Steven Clemmer, who has worked at The Florida Aquarium for five years, emphasized the importance of kids playing and enjoy nature in a natural environment.

“Many children are afraid of touching the stingrays at the beginning,” Clemmer said. “However after they see us touching them, they feel more comfortable. It is kids’ natural curiosity to want to learn and try new things, even more so in a friendly environment.”

They are expecting over 5 million nature lovers this year, many of them children. The Florida Aquarium staff members are in charge of teaching about these animals.

“We have a lot of school groups that come here and it’s a cool thing because most of them don’t know this is here,” Clemmer said. “So, it is a good surprise whenever school groups do come because they get that hands on experience touching the rays. All our volunteers and staff members are qualified and knowledgeable.”

For more information visit tampaelectric.com/company/mvc 

Explore Tampa’s waterways with Riverwalk Boating Company

 

Jason Olewinski has lived in Tampa for nearly thirty years. A few years ago, he wanted to explore Tampa’s waterways, and what originated as a personal motorized kayak quickly became Jason’s reality and an affordable opportunity for both tourists and locals to enjoy Tampa’s canals.

“For the past few years our entertainment options have been limited,” Olewinski said. “So I went ahead and just bought a few and threw them down here and so far people have been loving it.”

Along the Tampa Riverwalk, next to the Convention Center, you will spot 6 green mini- powerboats floating in the water. Established in 2014, the Riverwalk Boating Company provides a thrill and unique water experience for all. Whether you have prior boating experience or not, you can be the captain of your own two- person mini- powerboat, minus the hassle of maintenance and repairs of owning a boat.

The mini boat can take you through the Tampa waterways. The winding Hillsborough River will take you north around the city and south along Bayshore to Davis Island.

Chris and Chantal are vacationing for the week and just happened to walk by the boats while exploring the city. The two decided to take out a boat for the afternoon and travel along Bayshore Boulevard.

“I loved it! It was so much fun. They go decently fast,” Chantal said. “The waves… that was fun, feeling it go all crazy for a second.”

Riverwalk Boating Company is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. until sundown. It is an enjoyable option for anyone 18 years or older with a driver’s license and a credit card, and dogs are also welcome onboard. The prices start at $35 for 30 minutes or $50 for one hour, and there are special rates if you rent out more than one boat.

To reserve your boat, visit riverwalkboating.com.

girl-dog

Freedom High School student commits to Tennessee Tech

A student at Freedom High School in New Tampa is living out a dream that started four years ago.

“Before coming to Freedom I wasn’t even sure I was going to make the team,” Megan Clark said.

Clark, who graduates in May, recently verbally committed to play basketball starting next Fall at Tennessee Technical University. She will sign her National Letter of Intent next month.

“Her talent is not what got her to where she is but rather her dedication, intelligence and desire,” said Joeyn Dearsmen, Clark’s assistant coach.

“Megan is the type of kid that goes above and beyond, and when something is asked of her she gets it done, no questions asked,” said Dearsmen. “She’s not your typical high school kid, works out most days before the sun is up.”

The Freedom High girls’ basketball team has a history of sending girls to play at the collegiate level, something Clark is so proud to now be a part of.

“It means the world to me to be able to follow in the footsteps of players like Taylor Emery (Tulane University) and Faith Woodard (Georgetown),” Clark said.

Sad that she has one season left, but excited for what the future holds, Clark is ready for this season to start and get her team to the FHSAA State tournament in March before heading to Cookeville, Tennessee to continue her student athlete career.

The Freedom High Patriots kick off their season Wednesday November 16 against the Alonso Falcons. For the rest of the Patriots’ season, you can head to http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/freedom-patriots-(tampa,fl)/girls-basketball/home.htm.

 

Is There a New Way to Test Batteries?

According to a recent Buzzfeed article, there is a new method to test the strength of batteries. By observing the bounce of batteries, you may be able to tell how much life is left in them.

“If you want to test that theory, you need to, you know one try will not do it,” physics professor University of South Florida’s Dr. Sarath Witanachchi said. “You’ve got to try maybe twenty times and see is there a pattern.”

USF engineering student Alex Tremper believes that such an experiment has already taken place and conclusions have already drawn.

“Princeton researchers have demonstrated that this can only tell you whether batteries are fresh, not whether they are charged enough to allow a device to function,” said Tremper.

Knowing whether or not batteries are fresh, can be useful in preparation for storms with potential, to cause power outages, like Hurricane Hermine. Battery-powered appliances can alleviate some of the inconveniences power outages bring.

“We had lots of flashlights, we actually had a battery-powered TV, radios, hand-held video games, things like that,” Tampa Bay Area resident Spencer Adkinson said.

Tremper and Dr. Witanachchi claim that a more reliable way to test a battery is with a voltmeter, which measures the voltage across the terminals of the battery. If the voltage drops below the amount the device requires, then the device will not function.

“This decrease typically happens slowly throughout the life of the battery with a dramatic decrease towards the end of the battery’s life,” Tremper stated.

 

OneBlood seeks donations after Hurricane Matthew

Blood donation centers on Florida’s East Coast resumed operations after the threat of Hurricane Matthew forced them to close their doors and halt donations.

As residents in the region prepared for the impact of the storm, hospitals and blood banks also prepared by ensuring that blood provisions were available.

“On a daily basis, blood is used in so many different ways to save lives,” said Dan Ebert, donor and community director at OneBlood.

While blood banks on the East Coast were closed, residents of the West Coast of Florida were encouraged to go out and donate in order to boost the blood supply. However, that would not be enough.

For the four days that donation centers were closed, thousands of possible blood donations from the East Coast were lost. Additionally, not enough people in the unaffected areas stepped up to give.

After the storm passed, the supply of blood, plasma, and platelets was critically low. Organizations like OneBlood have again asked people to go out and donate.

Frequent donors like Angeline Diamond understand the importance of donating blood.

“I’ve had plenty of family that been in car accidents and need blood. So I donate whenever I can just to help the community,” says Diamond.

For others, donating is a matter of their own health.

“When you donate you receive a wellness checkup,” explains Ebert.

The free wellness checkup includes a blood pressure test and cholesterol screening, which are valuable in accessing a donor’s health.

OneBlood and the Red Cross will be conducting blood drives all week long in order to replenish the blood supply.

For more information regarding donations, visit OneBlood online.

Wimauma Woman Offers Affordable, Comfortable Way to Get in Shape

 

After losing nearly fifty pounds, Rosie Velasquez is giving back to the community of Wimauma by hosting Rosie’s Boot Camp. The women-only boot camp helps females of all ages come together in a judgement-free environment for a common goal: to get in shape.

“Most of these women, they don’t go to the gym,” Rosie Velasquez said.  “They rather do a workout here in my boot camp because they’re, you know, shy to go to the gym.”

The women in her boot camp echo Rosie’s sentiment about favoring group fitness rather than the typical gym experience. Janet Huerta says that in addition to the group fitness environment she also likes the support she receives at the boot camp.

“I like the whole group fitness camp,” Huerta said. “I used to go to the gym but the whole group and the motivation that I get here is better than the gym for me.”

Velasquez also offers additional services for women who prefer one-on-one sessions.

“Well, I have some people…that are more shy,” said Rosie. “They don’t like to work out in front of people so they like to do…personal training.”

Rosie’s Boot Camp is offered Monday and Wednesday for five dollars.

Local Shoe Drive Helps Refugees in Need

National Welcoming Week is an event that encourages members of the community to promote unity by celebrating contributions from immigrants and refugees from all over the world with dance and performances. The University of South Florida hosted the event this year.

This year’s theme was centered on shoes for refugees with the theme being, “Small shoes, Big Journey.” Rachel Ackey, a 10-year-old volunteer, came up with the idea of a shoe drive to donate shoes to refugee children.

“I wanted to do something for them ’cause they have to run away from their homes ’cause of a war,” said Ackey.  “They probably just have the pair of shoes on their feet. So I wanna give them different shoes so they could feel welcomed and they could have new shoes for the school year.”

Volunteers hope to relay the message of unity to encourage the community to be welcoming to those transitioning from places where war, persecution or natural disasters are abundant.

In an effort to celebrate refugees and their backgrounds, event organizers hosted a fashion show where refugees got to participate in showcasing garments from around the world.

Over 100 pairs of shoes for kids were collected during the Week of Welcome, thanks to contributions and efforts from the community.

Experience St. Pete Through Dance

St. Pete Festival helps to build the city’s reputation as a harbor for the arts and celebrates local artists and their creations with 57 dedicated events ever weekend through September

On Sept. 17 a series of curated dance performances took the streets of downtown St. Petersburg. It was part of Our Town: A Moving Dance Tour of St. Pete, an original art installation directed by USF assistant professor of dance Andee Scott. Scott has wanted to create a piece of moving public art for some time now.

“I think it’s just fun to think of the audience as part of the performance,” said Scott.

The project received an overwhelming amount of support by all those who joined the tour and even those who chose to stay on the sidelines. Dozens of members of the community attended the event to discover something new about their city. Scott, together with the St. Pete Dance Alliance and Dance Linkages, are already in the process of putting together an even bigger art installation.

The audience traveled through the streets of downtown from one performance to the next and experienced historic sites in a new way. Dancers and performers from around the Bay Area were invited to participate in the event. Alex Jones, a choreographer from Collective Dance Soles Company, directed one of the seven performances of the evening.

“It was really nice to be asked to be a part of something so awesome,” said Jones.

 

USF Riverfront Park Offers Relaxing Escape For Students

Bonnie Buchanan, a student employee at USF Riverfront Park, and Olivia Parrillo, a Riverfront Park visitor and fellow USF student, both love the outdoors.

The students frequently visit Riverfront Park either to work, relax or enjoy the outdoors when they have time off school.

“It’s good for people to come out here and get in touch with nature and not be staring at their phones the whole time,” Buchanan said. “It’s just a really good way for students to enjoy what Florida’s wildlife has to offer.”

Riverfront Park is located in Tampa, close to a mile from USF’s Tampa campus. The park offers canoeing and kayaking rentals, as well as many other outdoor activities.

“I definitely would recommend it, it’s worth every penny, especially when you are on a college budget,” Parrillo said. “It’s worth the $10 for either two people or three people in a canoe or kayak.”

Riverfront Park is also home to a vast array of Florida wildlife.

“A big variety of wildlife, we definitely see a lot of alligators in the river and on the bank,” Buchanan said. “Definitely a lot of bird watching, different kinds of egrets.”

Buchanan has been a Riverfront Park employee for six months and graduates in the spring of 2017.

“My favorite thing about working at Riverfront Park is teaching the ropes course and seeing people face their fear of heights,” Buchanan said. “It sure beats sitting behind a desk all day.”

Riverfront Park is open Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Vegan Food Catering Business Embraces Education, Wellness

Yourhighness Tafari has been a vegan and Puritarian since 1998, which was a decision that motivated him in helping people improve their quality of health in the consumption choices they make.  Tafari’s devotion to spiritual purity, and food education soon became his life’s work.

In 2014, Tafari and co-owner Erica Cobb started the delivery/catering business The Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen in the Wesley Chapel/Tampa area. Over the past two years, the business has made a commitment to provide cleaner eating at an affordable rate while using precision in their vegan cuisines to benefit people mentally and spiritually.

Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen caters all local events, as well as appearances in all of the open air eateries in Hillsborough County.

The business concept arose when both Tafari and Negus traveled to New Orleans to do volunteer assistance with victims of Hurricane Katrina. Negus had already obtained a culinary degree from the University of Texas, and at that point, was not using it.

Tafari and Negus found the experience to be valuable and applicable to a business idea, which led to the creation of The Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen.

These two business owners specialize in all organic, non-meat food preparation.  Both owners show a passion for the work that they do, as well as passing on their culinary expertise to their children and youth of the community.

Tikur Negus, a chef from the Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen, said making quality vegan food and teaching people the benefits of vegan meals is important when representing the business.

“Our focus is on health, vision, and wealth,” Negus said.  “So we educate the people on the better ways of living, while providing food for them to show that vegan food is good for everybody.”

Tafari has been a lifelong Tampa resident. He can be reached through Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen on Facebook, as well as the “SourceTalk Saturday” monthly community events at the Tampa Community Center on 22nd Ave and Fletcher Ave.

The kitchen can be found on social media, as well as a monthly appearance at the Tampa Community Center. They offer monthly trainings for kids under 10 years of age.

Jumping Into Fitness

If you’re looking for ways to change up your fitness routine, jumping on a trampoline can do just that. Skyfit is a fitness class at Sky Zone that combines trampoline use and aerobic exercise.

The class is a circuit course that focuses on high interval training. The various exercises include planks, squats, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, step-ups, wall pushups and, of course, jumping. All of the exercises are done on a trampoline.

Amanda Dominguez is the manager at Sky Zone and says that jumping uses every muscle because it takes the stomach, arms and legs to bounce.

“You always keep that cardio rate going and you’re jumping,” Dominguez said. “So whenever you’re technically not doing a fitness exercise, you’re always exercising by jumping.”

Morgan Spaulding attended Skyfit for the first time and can’t wait to take the class again.

“I do feel the burn as I’m jumping,” Spaulding said. “When I’m down doing the different exercises, I can feel the different parts of my body being worked out.”

Spaulding felt safe while jumping and wasn’t concerned about getting injured. She states that you can just as easily misstep on the treadmill and fall down. Jumping on the trampoline is easier on her body than other cardio exercises.

The instructor, Jay Alvarado, said he tries to keep his class safe for everyone and structures it around each participant’s needs and abilities.

“We focus on awesome, healthy fun,” Dominguez said. “And an hour on the trampoline burns over a thousand calories.”

 

 

Local Junior College Begining to Make its Mark

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.

 

 

 

Social Media helps small business thrive

Local business owner Dee Laskowski is using technology to her advantage. She advertises her business products through social media sites including Facebook, Instagram and Etsy.

Laskowski and her husband own a small craft business called We Sell Sea Shells and More. She crotchets mermaid dolls in the comfort of her own home.

“I crochet the head and the body and I do it in custom colors so people can order whatever colors they would like,” Laskowski said.

Each mermaid doll costs about $45 depending on how customized the purchaser wants it to be. A lot of hard work goes into making the dolls and it takes an average of three days to make one.

“It takes about two hours to cut the yarn and put it on the doll’s head,” crafter Liana Laskowski said.

Laskowski advertises her business on social media sites including Facebook and Instagram. Recently she created a business account on Etsy, a popular crafting website.

“It seems like a lot of small businesses, craft businesses and baking businesses are using social media sites in this manner and getting orders that way,” Laskowski said, “there’s generally a website associated with the account where they can click on the link and go to that account to make purchases.”

Social media has become a prevalent part of today’s society. With Apple’s recent release of the iPhone 7, technology continues to change our everyday lives.

Millennials Will Be The Deciding Vote

Millennials get a bad rep and have been called the “narcissistic generation.” Campaigns do not depend on the millennial vote although they could actually be one of the most important demographics to target. The rising cost of college education and the labor market affects this generation, causing millennials to be concerned about their futures.

According to the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, 22-23 million young Americans voted in the 2012 presidential election Millennials currently make up the same proportion of the U.S. voting-age population as the baby boomers.

“That’s why Romney lost because Romney lost the youth vote and so, therefore, lost the general election,” said Chairman of the USF Republicans, Georgia Pevy. “We’re a big swing category. If people don’t focus on us, then they’re not going to win.”

More than ever, politics are gaining popularity on social media as candidates are trying to reach young voters, and while there has been the notion that millennials are apathetic towards public affairs, they are projected to make up 40 percent of the eligible voters by 2020, as per the Center for American Progress.

eVolunteers and polling center employees encourage voter participation and give a rousing ovation to first time voters.

The 22-23 million millennials who voted in 2012 make up nearly half of eligible young people. This year more is expected to take part and engage in the elections.

“There’s a lot of them, and if they did turn out, it would be a big deal,” Pevy said.

Local Photography Studio Captures Memories

Senior year of high school is best described as bittersweet: happy times mixed with sad. Mojo Studios is a professional photography business owned by Patrick Myers, which specializes in capturing the happy memories through a lens.

“We really focus on our customers and make each photo shoot unique to every individual,” Myers said. “That is what really sets us apart from every other photography business.”

Located in Wesley Chapel, Mojo Studios is family-owned and has proudly supported customers all over the Tampa Bay area over the last eight years.

He compares their likeness to that of the restaurant business, saying they’re similar to a steakhouse, suggesting that their higher prices come with a higher quality.

Wharton High School senior, Katy Kipp is beyond happy with making the decision to get her picture taken by Myers.

“I would highly recommend Mojo Studios because it’s just like you’re own personal photo experience that you wouldn’t get with any other photographer.”

The school year is just getting under way, but Kipp wanted to get her pictures done before the school year comes to an end. She said she first heard about Mojo Studios through social media.

“I got super jealous of all the pictures on Instagram and told my mom I wanted to schedule an appointment.”

For more information, visit their company website at www.mojo-studios.com, or call (813)-774-9444.

 

 

Trinity Cafe helps people in need in more ways than one

Trinity Cafe is a nonprofit restaurant in Tampa that serves meals to the hungry and food insecure — people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

“I can tell you what it’s not,” Don Gould, a volunteer manager, said. “It’s not a soup kitchen.”

Trinity is open every day of the year. The cafe is able to run smoothly with the help of 32 volunteers per day, as well as grants and donations from the community. The staff prides themselves on being able to set Trinity apart from other restaurants of its kind by the way they treat their guests.

“Their motto is to serve with dignity, kindness and respect,” Ellen Wolfe, a three year volunteer, said. “Why this place is different is because we want to pat them on the back, we want to hear their story, we want to love them.”

Guests at Trinity Cafe receive a three-course meal and a volunteer host at their table. The host’s job is to sit with the guests and have a conversation with them. Last year, 10,690 volunteers helped serve 99,222 meals. Trinity served their one millionth meal last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to a retired policeman and military veteran named John.

“For the people that we serve, it’s priceless,”said Gould. “There’s a huge hunger need across the country, especially in Hillsborough County.”

Trinity Cafe has been serving meals for 15 years. A second location, Trinity 2, will open on Busch Boulevard this year.