USF alumni eats like a caveman

 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.





Tampa park undergoes artistic renovation

Since 1979, Perry Harvey Sr. Park has been a staple in the Tampa Bay community. Named after the Bay’s first African-American councilman, the park has been a landmark for civil rights.

April 2 marked the grand opening of the park’s renovation. Various forms of artwork depicting civil rights leaders will be displayed throughout the park.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes


Monday, March 21, Lara Alexander helps put the final touches on the art gallery at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, commemorating civil rights leaders.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes


Michael Parker, the artist responsible for the renovation, labors under the sun. The commemoration took Parker a year to construct.


Photo by: Brian Fernandes


Parker constructed a stone portrait of one of Tampa’s African-American pioneers, Georgette Gardner. Gardner was a principal of several African-American schools in the Bay area.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes


Among other pieces of Parker’s work is this portrait of entertainer, Henry Joyner. Joyner established and owned the Tampa night club, Cotton Club.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes


A portrait of Tampa’s Meacham School founder, Christina Meacham. For 40 years Meacham devoted her life to teaching children in Florida.




Life experiences help to heal the grief

If Alexis Mootoo, 49, a doctorate student in government and adjunct professor at the University of South Florida, could give her younger self some wisdom or advice, she would tell her 20-year-old self one thing: people love you.

One fleeting glance in her spacious office reveals a lot about the woman behind the instructor. Colors of gold and brown adorn the various ornaments in the room. On the top part of the wall facing her back is a painting, “No Man Band”, by Leroy Campbell.

She spoke of her love for jazz music after the death of her father. The music helped her deal with the grief. She used to drive to the record store to listen to the music, particularly from the Harlem Renaissance age.

Mootoo left the United States at a very young age with her parents to go live in Bordeaux, France. Of the 10 years that she lived there, she remembers how it felt to be a part of a community. She remembers how kind people were, the food, the neighbor she sometimes stayed with when her parents were at school.

She remembers how close she was to her teacher, to the point that she refused to leave and started to cry when her father told her it was time to move again. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of how different her experience would be when they moved to the Republic of Congo.

Life in the Congo could not have been anymore different from France. Gone was the feeling of love and belonging. Gone was her nurtured yet ill-fated love for reading at least two books a week.

She was enrolled in a public school, and the experience was shocking to say the least.

“I looked different from everyone. It was much more striking than in France, maybe because of my hair being long and my complexion being different,” she said.

The difference extended to how everyone treated her as well. Teachers and students alike did not warm up to her.

She looks back at the experience now, and she wisely notes what it all meant. She realized that it was not about who she was as an individual, but what she represented.

“To them, I was supposed to be a rich person who didn’t need to be in a public school, but at the time I didn’t know the difference. It was a difficult time, and I was very upset,” she said.

Last year, Mootoo’s life came to a standstill when her mother died.

Even though she does not go to church, it gives her a sense of peace to know that her mother and father are finally together in heaven. In a way, she feels better knowing that her mother did not suffer that long through the cancer battle.


Mootoo’s interests are as extensive as they can get. She smiles sheepishly and admits one of her guilty pleasures is watching all “The Real Housewives” franchises at the end of the day. A proud look replaced her smile when she said that she also loves crocheting. Her phone is full of pictures of all the things she has recently made, including a sweater for her son, Harrison, who will be attending a university in Colorado.

Her face lights up when she talks of Harrison. She is amazed by how charismatic and talented he is. The courage she sees in her son is reflected by the comparison she makes of what she wishes she could do.

“I wish I could sing and dance and be as charismatic as my kid. It’s amazing how he’s able to do that,” she said. “I wish I could stand up in front of people and belt out a song, but I could never do that. I’d throw up.”

When she was asked what some of her failures in life had been, she said she does not want to view them as failures, but more of things that needed to happen. She recognized the difficulties she had of being a single mother and of not having a degree.

“I believe that my humility has to do with all these things that I thought were failures, but in fact were just life experiences,” Mootoo said.

Two rooms before Mootoo’s office is one of her colleagues, Saviya Jean-Baptiste. They have known each other for more than five years.

Jean-Baptiste credits Mootoo to showing her the beautiful and yet-to-be discovered spots in Tampa.

“She had a dinner party for the Super Bowl. It wasn’t anything fancy, but just the bursts of laughter that we had was completely different. It was goofy and comfortable,” Jean-Baptiste said.

Both Jean-Baptiste and Mariela Noles Cotito, a graduate assistant at the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean at USF, have one thing in common. They are in awe of the person that is Alexis Mootoo. Her story from studying for her bachelor’s degree all the way currently to her doctorate at a later age, and constantly breaking down social barriers as a black woman impresses the two to be inspired by her each day.

“She’s a great human being. We email back and forth sometimes and she uses this expression ‘cool beans’. Now that I know she’s older, it’s funnier to me,” Cotito said.

Technology implementation helps Bulls batters to improve their performance

Hitting a round ball with a round bat might be the single most difficult thing to do in sports. Baseball players of the University of South Florida spend a lot of time in the film room before they step inside the batters box.

“We’re able to look at guys swings in practice, in games, and in intersquads,” Bulls Head Coach Mark Kingston said. “How we like to use video the most is get a good library of when a guy is really swinging it well, and when he may be struggling, and then what we can do is put those videos next to each other, and you see what the differences are.”

Assistant Coach Mike Current is the czar of the film room and helps to mold his players into complete hitters.

“I think video is a big part of the instruction process. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain something to a guy and him listen to what you’re saying and understand how to translate it into action,” Current said. “But when he can actually see what’s going on and see what you’re talking about it’s a lot easier to make adjustments.”

Technological advances have ensured that players like freshman Garrett Zech have advantages that generation before his did not.

“The work we do in the film with Coach Current has definitely helped my mechanics and ability to compete at this level,” Zech said.

When Kingston played baseball professionally, the ability to watch video was not as easy as it is today.

“They’d sometimes bring out a camera, and you could watch it or you’d see the highlights on the news that night and tape it,” Kingston said. “These days guys can get instant feedback. I think the instant feedback is really the key to how video is used these days.”

Florida Focus News Brief March 2, 2016

In this episode: a nine-year-old girl is hit while waiting to board her school bus, two people and their dog are killed in a Lakeland mobile home fire, gas prices continue to rise, President Obama announces a historic trip to Cuba with the Tampa Bay Rays and the bay area ranks in the top 50 best metropolitan areas to live nationwide.



Young dreamer changes her life after a Christmas gift

Amanda Fernandez always knew that she was going to be a professional in the beauty industry. She achieved this dream by owning her salon 23.

The business has been open since June 28.

“I think I was really destined to be in this beauty industry,” Fernandez said. “I remember putting on my mom’s bras and walking in their heels, putting lipsticks all over my face.”

It all came true after a family member wanted to help her get on her feet. He invested in her and the studio.

“I just immediately started crying because it is always something I dreamed of, but I never thought at 23 that I would have been able to do that,” Fernandez said.

Bombshell’s Beauty Studio differs from other local salons because Fernandez uses social media to connect with her clients, including Periscope to live record working on their hair.

The name of the studio was inspired by the look Fernandez wanted her clients to have when they leave the salon. She said women do not realize how beautiful they are.

“When they leave here, I want them to leave feeling like a total bombshell,” Fernandez said. “I want them to say, ‘I look good. I’m gonna go home, and my husband is going to take me on a date.'”

Collecting The “Booty” From the Pirade Of Pirates

Photo by Dana Achatz

Even though some people view Gasparilla as a holiday to make it an all day party Marilyn Pereira wasn’t convinced. Pereira decided to stay away from the madness at Bayshore Boulevard and work a double shift as a server at World of Beer on Saturday. To her there was not much of an appeal to attend the event. It was more important to her to make some money than see the parade.

“I didn’t request off for Gasparilla because I didn’t really even know what it was,” Pereira said. “I just moved here and I didn’t know Gasparilla was today until pretty much everyone I work with requested off.”

Sometimes called the Mardi Gras of Florida; the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates attracts thousands to Tampa every year. The parade takes over the streets of downtown for a majority of the day. People from all over Florida make the trip to celebrate, and most of them are dressed up like pirates.

Pereira worked all morning and through most of the evening. She said she saw an increase in customers during her second shift Saturday evening after the parade had ended.

She described large groups of people of all ages weighed down with beads and wearing fake black beards and hats with giant feathers. She seemed to find the outfits a little silly. Even though she made more money than she had originally expected, she decided it might be worth it to attend Gasparilla next year.

“Yeah I would go. It would’ve been fun to tag along with someone,” Pereira said. “Maybe next year.”

Parking for booty during Gasparilla

Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group
Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group, P.A.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.








Along West Platt Street, people were profiting for different causes by offering parking spots in private properties.

Sherryl Cook, employment specialist at the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, was one of them. She started at the parking lot around 9:30 a.m.

The Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind is a non-profit organization that offers rehabilitation programs for persons who are blind or visually impaired.

“It usually picks up around one when the parade is going on,” Cook said.

The idea started 16 years ago when one of her coworkers discovered a group of homeless charging people for using their office parking lot during Gasparilla. They decided it would be a good idea create a fundraiser to collect donations to support the organization.

They agreed to a price match with other nearby parking lots to make it fair. This year they charged 20 dollars for each spot.

There were 50 spots, and Cook said she planned to be there until 2 p.m.

Cooks’ plans for the rest of the day were going home and resting after a long morning at the parking lot.

Henry Sutter, 57, was another Tampa resident who decided to make some profit out of Gasparilla.

Holding a “Best Parking” sign, Sutter started at 9 a.m. working at the parking lot with his wife Patty Sutter, who works as a legal attorney at the Business Law Group, P.A., a community association law firm.

They have done this before for collecting money and donating it to the Boys Scouts or churches. This year they did it if for their own profit.

“This is year is going to my daughter’s college car fund,” Henry Sutter said.

They had 35 spots. They charged 30 dollars per car.

“Once every two or three years, I’m here,” Henry Sutter said. “We rotate turns with other people from the law firm.”

Ex-pro passes on his basketball expertise through training program

To some, basketball may be just a sport. For Jean Carlo Rivera, it is a passion and skill he wants to share with all of Tampa Bay.


At the Harbour Island Athletic Club and Spa, Rivera has developed a basketball skills training program. After just a month and a half he has established a clientele ranging from high school students to professional players.


Rivera has been studying the game of basketball for years. He played four years of collegiate basketball at Florida College. Then he played professionally overseas in Puerto Rico.


He wanted to share all that he learned from his experiences. This helped spark the idea for his training program.


“Me training on my own, just, I wanted to help kids get better because nobody helped me get better, you understand,” Rivera said. “I had to help myself. So everything that I learned, I want to pass on to kids for the next generation, the next generation, the next generation.”


Rivera’s main focus is to develop his client’s basketball skills. He runs different drills with his clients that incorporate various techniques such as dribbling and passing.


“Being a basketball skills developer you do pretty much every type of drill. We do ball handling, shooting, rebounding, passing, post moves,” Rivera said.


Johnathan Gray, a professional player overseas, values Rivera’s training because it helps him focus on the little things.


“He really breaks down my footwork in terms of my shooting, my balance, and stuff like that that I really, you don’t really think about naturally,” Gray said.


This program is just the beginning for Rivera. He plans on expanding his program and growing basketball in the city of Tampa.



In the land of beaches and theme parks, craft beer is king.


Thanks to Cigar City Brewing owner, Joey Redner Jr., Tampa Bay has become a haven for beer lovers, geeks and connoisseurs alike.

Cigar City Brewing has taken over the craft beer scene in Florida, in a land where Budweiser has reigned supreme for decades.  Their dedication to Tampa Bay history, and their collaborative work with other local businesses has set them apart from their competition.

“We like to work with other local businesses in the area and support the community as much as possible,” Neil Callaghan, Tasting Room Manager at Cigar City Brewing, said.  “We work with companies like Buddy Brew, a local coffee beanery and roasting house, who roasts a coffee bean just for us to use in our beers.”

photo 3
The gift shop at Cigar City Brewing features Buddy Brew Coffee and locally made, beer flavored hand soaps .


The coffee from Buddy Brew is used in an award-winning beer called the Cubano Espresso Brown Ale as well as a few others.  Cigar City also work with other local vendors, including a local soap making company, that makes beer flavored soap for the brewery gift shop.

These are the taps for the core beers that Cigar City Brewing makes. The two taps in the middle feature figures of Joey Redner Jr. and Wayne Wambles. Redner is the founder of Cigar City and Wambles is the head brewer.
The taps for the core beers that Cigar City Brewing makes. The two taps in the middle feature figures of Joey Redner Jr. and Wayne Wambles. Redner is the founder of Cigar City and Wambles is the head brewer.

Cigar City also is involved with numerous charities in the Tampa Bay Area.  Their most recent charity event had some of the employees do something special for a great cause.

“Last week every employee had a huge beard but we all shaved them off for a charity event,” Callaghan said.  “It was to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer foundation. It was a great event that Cigar City was proud to be a part of.

Cigar City beers are sold all over the state of Florida now in your local gas stations and grocery stores.
Cigar City beers are sold all over the state of Florida now in your local gas stations and grocery stores.

The 6th annual Veredus|HAYS Cut for a Cure Charity Challenge got these brewers and bartenders to shave off their precious beards, which for many have become a rite of passage in the industry.

The gift shop at Cigar City which features local skateboards made by the Skatepark of Tampa.
The gift shop at Cigar City features local skateboards made by the Skatepark of Tampa.

Cigar City has become a leader in the community and a great business that leads by example.  Their beer is pretty darn good too.  They recently got voted the fourth best brewery in the entire world.

The very first brewery in the state of Florida, the Florida Brewery, located in Ybor City.
The very first brewery in the state of Florida, the Florida Brewery, located in Ybor City.

Increase in gun-related crime around Tampa makes USF sophomore wary

University of South Florida sophomore Emily Stencil never imagined she would feel unsafe around her own home.

Stencil, who has lived in apartments off campus during both of her years at USF, takes her dog Roxie for a walk every day she comes home from school. She then rides her bike if the sun is shining, and occasionally makes the 5-minute walk to campus.

Now, however, Stencil is beginning to rethink her routine, because of fear for her safety.

“I’ve never been afraid of leaving my doors unlocked or walking my neighborhood alone,” Stencil said. “Now, I’m afraid to leave my house past 8 o’clock.”


According to Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, there have been 235 gun-related crimes this year, up from 164 during this time last year.

The increase in crimes also includes 15 homicides — more than double the amount of this time last year.

Gun theft also has drastically increased since last year. According to TPD, 117 guns were stolen this year. That’s 65 more than this time last year.

Most eye-opening of all is that in the 10 days prior to March 23, 10 teenagers died from shootings.

One case involved a 14-year-old male who was shot and killed at a birthday party on March 21. Police estimate that dozens witnessed the crime, but none have come forward with information.

In another case March 14, Tampa teen Ikeim Bowell was killed in what was ruled an accidental shooting by the department.

According to the Tampa Tribune, a group of Bowell’s friends found a gun in a relative’s house they assumed was unloaded. But shortly after they started playing with it, the gun went off and shot Bowell in the neck.

“In the majority of the cases, witnesses and even victims are reluctant to cooperate with detectives,” Castor said in a statement. “The Tampa Police Department is urging citizens to get involved to stop the violence.”

Castor used a March 16 news conference to encourage members of the public to speak up if they have any information.


While gun-related crimes have risen in the city, major crimes on USF’s Tampa campus have dropped in the past four years.

According to the USF Police Department, in 2010 the crime rate dropped more than 19 percent from the previous year.

The USF Police Department reports that crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary have dropped 45 percent, but arrests have increased 52 percent.

USF Police lieutenant Marty King credited the improved efforts of officers for the drop in on-campus crime.

According to a release, more DUI checkpoints were added to areas surrounding campus. Officers also underwent extensive training, and a stronger traffic enforcement has led to the decrease in crimes.

The clearance rate, which is the number of reported cases successfully solved, has increased every year.

“Most importantly is the partnership we have with our community,” King said. “This partnership allows our campus community many options to report suspicious activity or crimes in progress. These efforts, coupled with the crime prevention initiatives we provide, can all play a factor in reducing crime.”

Still, Stencil is worried.

If the crime rate continues to increase, Stencil said she will consider moving on-campus to a dormitory, where she hopes she will be safer.

“It’s not something I want to do,” Stencil said. “But if it can save my life, I’m going to do it.”

Florida Focus 03-26-2015

In this Florida Focus episode: A tragic murder-suicide occurs in Pasco County; The I-4 corridor brings a population boom to Tampa Bay; Channelside Cinemas opens back up for the Gasparilla Film Festival; Zephyrhills High School students are banned from going to the bathroom alone; Tampa Bay police officers raise money for the special olympics.