In this Florida Focus news brief: a multi-car accident leaves two children and three adults dead; a car crashed into the garage of a Lutz home early this morning; an overnight robbery turned into a homicide at a Polk county gas station; a large housing project was approved in Florida; and this weekend is your last chance to check out the Hillsborough County Fair.
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.
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.
In this episode: the Florida Democratic Party wants to suspend the Provisional Ballot Law so that newly registered but unverified voters can participate in early voting, but a federal judge denied the request; presidential campaigns are spending top dollar in our state, according to Politico; the nay area leads in sales for single family homes; Hillsborough county fair offers wholesome family fun.
In this episode: A mall fire rips through a shopping center on Hillsborough Ave; a Saint Pete officer is on administrative leave for his second DUI arrest; Florida gets a minimum wage increase of five cents; results from the University of South Florida election straw poll.
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 episode: the Florida voter registration deadline is extended until Tuesday the 18th; Hillsborough and Pinellas counties make a nationwide list of of counties with the most death sentences, according to a Harvard report; the ride-sharing company Uber is partnering with the Tampa Bay Lightning for an exclusive pick-up lane; Halloween costume stores are stocking up on presidential candidate masks.
TAMPA, FL-The Brew Bus made a metaphorical bus stop Saturday. Since 2011, the Brew Bus has allowed its patrons to ride around the Tampa Bay area drinking beer and touring breweries.
But with the grand opening of Brew Bus Terminal and Brewery, there is now a brick and mortar location for customers to go.
“It’s nice to have a brew bus spot for when I don’t want to be on the bus,” one patron said.
Company President Anthony Derby is proud of the history and quick rise of Brew Bus Brewing. It originally started out as an actual bus, but now also includes the new aspect of a concrete location.
“We heard of all the other local breweries in the area starting up, so my mom actually had the idea of buying a bus and traveling from brewery to brewery,” Derby said. “It’s not the bus rolling down the street or it’s mobile, it’s an actual tangible thing.”
The grand opening included live music, raffles and access to over 20 craft brews. Brew bus also has other beers that rotate in and out, as well as cider and wine.
“They have some great beers, they’re rotating their taps regularly,” another customer said. “I popped in a couple times during their soft openings as well and enjoyed it.”
The Brew Bus will maintain its mobile presence, with four buses in the Tampa Bay area.
Zumba classes are fun, active and free to everyone who stops by “Zumba in the Park” at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Meagan Simmons has been leading the class every Tuesday night for two years and enjoys seeing old and new faces.
“The great thing about Zumba is that you’re not here for your neighbor, you’re not here for me, you’re here for yourself,” Simmons said.
The class starts promptly as 6:00 p.m. and is a full hour of exercise in a family-friendly environment.
Laurence Alo is a regular at the Zumba class. He’s been coming ever since the downtown YMCA started offering the class in 2014.
“Zumba is best when we have weather like we do today,” Alo said.
The class’s popularity has grown immensely. The number of dancers has increased from 20 people in the first year to an average of 50 to 60 people now. Men and women of all ages are seen in the crowd.
“It is a great way to meet different kinds of people,” Alo said.
“Zumba in the Park” is held every Tuesday at Curtis Hixon Park from 6:00-7:00 p.m.
In this episode: Uber will pay $250,000 for a temporary license as part of their new agreement with Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission; Gabrielle Giffords led an anti-gun violence rally in St. Pete today; HRI Properties won a bidding war for an empty lot in downtown Tampa and plans on starting construction next year; Pinellas County Department of Health celebrates World Heart Day; Pinellas County firefighters exercise a way to rescue people from collapsed buildings.
In this episode: an elderly woman is injured when a car crashes into her home; Governor Rick Scott issued a new emergency rule; care for transgender patients is being offered in southwest and central Florida; a pilot program is expanding streetcar services in Ybor and downtown Tampa; and red tide has been detected in bay area beaches.re
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.
Proclaiming that they are the “first name in second chances,” Eckerd is a nationwide nonprofit organization that focuses on providing solutions that help struggling families and young adults thrive.
At the Eckerd Achievement Academy office in downtown Tampa, teachers Stephen Zambito and Tamara Johnson are just some of the staff that has been hired to teach some at-risk teens in the Tampa Bay community. Through this program their goal is to obtain their high school or GED diploma when traditional schooling options are no longer an option.
Johnson and Zambito create a safe place for these students who often come from broken homes and were children of the foster care system. Many of the students love it at Eckerd and consider it a family type atmosphere.
Every job comes with its ups and downs. Johnson said the hardest part of this particular job is getting attached to the students. “These kids are like my own and it’s really hard when one day they are here and the next day they are gone.” She also said that when they lack motivation it is hard to steer them in the right direction.
Zambito expressed the same sentiment saying, “Over the ten years I have done this I have definitely learned patience.”
Eckerd not only provides high school and GED diploma services, but also juvenile justice, child welfare, and behavioral health services for those in need. For more information about Eckerd please visit Eckerd.org or call 800-554-HELP.
Diamond View Studios is a local production company devoted to creating excellent content. With a crew of 15 team members, creative juices are always flowing in their new state of the art studio located right off Bearss Avenue.
“Every single person who works there is truly passionate about video and about creating terrific content,” said operations manager Jonathan Hickson. “You come in and we’re having fun and it looks like we’re just playing around but really, we’re working really hard and we’re creating content that we’re proud of.”
Diamond View’s clientele is quite diverse, ranging from the University of South Florida to companies like Red Bull and Allstate.
“We’re constantly looking for new creative concepts — new hardware we can use, new software we can use. We’re always just striving to take it to one more level above what we already are right now,” said Shane Sackett, a recent intern turned associate producer.
Founded in 2007, the company outgrew office space after office space before setting their eyes on an available brick building. The open space and modern design of the studio are hard to miss, and Tampa Bay Business Journal recognized them as the 2016 Coolest Office Space.
“I didn’t think I’d like working anywhere as much as I do working at Diamond View,” Hickson said.
Production inquiries can be sent through their website, diamondviewstudios.com, or their telephone number, 800-613-9693.
For Rychard Williams, being a basketball coach at Rey Park is more than just teaching kids how to score. It gives him the opportunity to help many students and keep them on the right path.
Williams started a nonprofit organization,“We Got Talent,” where he helps his students gain access to higher education by utilizing their athletic and academic abilities
“I was trying to figure out how I could do different things for my kids, to show them different things. I had students that didn’t receive college offers when I thought they should have,” said Williams.
Coach Williams trains his students with scholarship opportunities in mind, but to teach life lessons as well.
“I think I’ve learned how to be a part of a team better and how to carry myself better,” said Charles Dunn, a Blake High School freshman. “Knowing I’m a part of that foundation, coach has just helped me make better decisions and be a better person.”
He meets with his students every day after school to give them a place to be productive. This gives them an opportunity to do their homework, play games and workout.
Williams plans to take some of the kids on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia over spring break to keep them occupied. He will also take them to an Atlanta Hawks basketball game, which most of the students are excited about.
Donna Welch has made it her mission to educate young girls about their worth and their choices.
“We have learned that girls can have so many challenges in their life,” Welch said. “So having a program where they can come—it’s a platform open to the young ladies to discuss all the issues that relate to them…we cover it all.”
Welch established My Daughter’s Keeper of Tampa Bay, Inc. (MDK) in 2007. The St. Petersburg mentoring program aims to encourage and empower young women ages 10 to 18. The girls meet weekly to discuss anything from school to relationships to aspirations. The program also organizes workshops for the girls on etiquette, personal development, and any other needs the girls may have.
“I think that a lot of what is being talked about now is self-esteem issues and being confident in who you are and in your own skin,” mentor NaKeena Cromartie said.
There are currently 25 to 30 girls enrolled in the program. When Welch is not working with them, she is touring the Bay area, giving speeches and offering her services. Welch has an open door policy and loves when previous mentees like Cromartie come back to help out with the program.
“That’s the rewarding part,” Welch said, “to be able to see the young ladies that go off to school, or you know the military or whatever they choose to do in life, but they don’t forget the program that helped them get there.”
“I’ve known Ms. Donna for a very long time,” Cromartie said. “And she’s not only been and instructor from the MDK perspective…but also like a godmother to me.”
Welch hopes to continue to influence young girls by expanding her program to Tampa.
In this episode: a new education bill allows high school athletes to attend any school they choose, as long as there’s room for enrollment; Nature’s Classroom helps elementary school students learn about Florida’s ecosystem in a hands-on environment.
On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.
Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.
“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”
After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.
“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”
Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.
Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.
A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.
“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”
While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.
“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.
She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.
Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.
The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.