New Lagoon Gets High Praise From Local Residences

 

Story by Dana Ferello

A crystal lagoon is under construction, and the neighbors are weighing in.

The 7.5-acre lagoon will be the centerpiece of over 2,000 homes being built in the new development called Epperson off of Curley Road. The housing complex currently has over 200 families on the waiting list.

The lagoon will be 200 feet wide and 8 feet deep.  It will also feature amenities for residents including a water slide and dock for paddle boarding, kayaking and small sailboats.

The lagoon can take up to three months to completely fill, in an effort to avoid any disruption that may impact the local water system.

Residents of nearby community, Watergrass, are interested to see how the location of the lagoon will play out for the value of their homes once it is completed.

“I feel like the lagoon is going to double or triple the value of my home,” Jennifer Hendricks, Watergrass resident, said. “The home values are just going to keep rising because it is going to be a local attraction.”

Epperson will feature an entrance and exit ramp for I-75, to clear up congestion that will occur once the homes are built around the lagoon.

“I think the promise for the area is impressive, what I think they are going to do for the community and what is surrounding the community,” Peter Castellano, Watergrass resident, said.

Construction of Epperson and the crystal lagoon is scheduled to be completed this fall.

 

 

New USF Student President Plans Hopeful Year For The ‘Herd’

This year’s student government elections at the University of South Florida may mean more for students than ever before.

Now that President Moneer Kheireddine and Vice President Shaquille Kent have secured the victory, they are pushing their platform, “Hear the HERD.”

“It stands for heritage, entertainment, access and representation,” said Kheireddine.

Their mission is to bridge the divide between the student body, student government and USF administration. One way in which they hope to achieve this is via an online petition system, meant to gather physical evidence in support of their agendas. The system would give students a voice to tackle obstacles like limited parking and dining options.

The two also intend to focus a lot of their efforts on mental health.

“We will be advocating to the Florida legislature to increase funding for mental health and also awareness,” Kent said.

They want to provide more resources not only to students, but also to the mental health counselors on campus, who are often fully booked by students. They aim to provide funding in order to increase the current amount of mental health employees USF offers.

Kheireddine understands that while they “won’t be able to accomplish everything on their platform within one year,” they still intend on making a difference.

 

Brooksville Group Coming Together to Help Homeless

People from all over Hernando County came together in a room at The Grande, an assisted living community in Brooksville, to help the homeless.

Dianna Seijas, a resident of Brooksville, is the project coordinator for Mats for a Mission, a volunteer group that makes mats for the homeless out of recycled plastic bags.

“Unfortunately it can happen to anyone, it doesn’t take a lot to change your life overnight,” Seijas said. “We do have a lot of people sleeping in the woods.”

Since starting in January, Mats for a Mission is getting a lot of attention. Volunteers ranging from teenagers to the elderly make up the over 200 members involved in the project.

Carly Nichols, who teaches at Fox Chapel Middle School, can see the benefit of getting her students to become a part of a mission like this.

“I teach sixth to eighth grade and they’re at a time where they are very impressionable, so it’s really important that we build a strong character base for them,” Nichols said.

It takes many hands and about 700 plastic bags to make one mat. From flattening bags, to tying yarn together, it takes a community to be successful.

“Come, volunteer, we have a lot of fun,” Seijas said. “Take it back to your community, we’d be happy to teach you.”

The goal of the group is to have 500 mats made by the end of the year.

“We realize that’s a lofty goal,” Seijas said. “But we have all the confidence in the world in this group and our volunteers that we will meet this goal.”

Mats for a Mission meets Saturday each week from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The Grande.

 

 

Minority women’s golfing group looks to bridge gap in professional world.

After leaving the corporate office one woman made the decision to build Women of Color Golf, an organization centered on golf and networking.

The organization’s founder and director, Clemmie Perry, made it her duty to increase the awareness of golf within the minority women community.

Women of Color Golf (WOCG) is a non-profit organization that sets out to promote and encourage minorities and women of color to learn the benefits of golf. Ms. Perry not only wants women to fundamentally understand the game of golf, but she also wants Women of Color Golf to be a gateway to networking and partnerships.

“We serve on various boards, such as the World Golf Foundation and other organizations that will help leverage our mission,” said Perry.

Many women within this organization have benefited from the outlets that Women of Color Golf provides. Robyn Thompson, the Millennial Leader for WOCG, says that this organization is the needed push to bridge the gap between male and female golfers.

“I think we have to educate women, and that’s one of the great things about Women of Color Golf. In the beginner session they basically educate you on what golf is, how you play the game before you even go out on the golf course,” said Thompson.

Perry has built an organization that is more than just “learning how to play golf.” Women of Color Golf has been national recognized by President Barack Obama for the diligence that it provides to the Tampa Bay area. There is hope for further expansion and an excitement for future endeavors.

Florida Focus News Brief March 28, 2017

In this news brief: a Chamberlain High School student stabs another student; a Temple Terrace woman runs into a car three times due to road rage, and is charged with aggravated battery and leaving the scene; meetings tonight and Thursday will discuss school zones in Tampa that could shift with changes in populations; Florida ranks third in the country for low taxes compared to quality of government services; the International Organization Oceana published a study on sharks, and found Florida shark encounters generate over $221 million annually.

Franchise a way to help center

By Ciara Cummings

TAMPA—This Dairy Queen franchise located on State Road 64 in Brandon works as a charity to financially support the Lakeview Center, a behavioral health and child protective services agency.

“We were on the way home from the golf course when we passed by,” said DQ customer Rita. “It looked like a really nice facility so we decided to stop here for dinner.

Like many customers, she had no clue that this franchise was purchased by Lakeview Associated Enterprises in order to keep their health center in Pensacola afloat.

The center that provides therapy, aid and treatments to abused children and adults who struggle with disabilities, needed some help of their own, more income revenue.

Instead of traditional methods of fundraising, they purchased an ice cream franchise. This Brandon location is just one of the three franchises the Lakeview Associated Enterprises owns. But in the future, they plan to own at least eight Dairy Queens.

All proceeds do in fact go to Lakeview Center, which makes DQ employees more motivated to come to work and perform their best.

Libby, a cashier, says “You come in, it’s not just like a normal job. It’s like you’re working for something and you’re helping out other people.”

Co-worker Hilary Borhas said seeing the customers reactions are even better. “I think the best part about it is when the customers read the plaque and they are motivated to keep coming back because they know their money isn’t just going to some big company.”

The employees receive their paycheck from Lakeview Associated Enterprises. If the store performs well during the quarter, the Enterprise has enough money to support their health center which allows them to take money from elsewhere, like state and federal funding, to support their employees.

 

Small Berries, Big Punch

A pharmacist at the University of South Florida demonstrates the power of blueberries.

Starting in 2001, Dr. Paula Bickford along with her colleague set out to reveal the ultimate antioxidant properties that blueberries contain. Bickford, Ph.D. in pharmacology, proves that this fruit is the hidden secret to perfect aging and adaptive brain memory.

“We were first looking at a number of different fruits and vegetables. A colleague of mine, who works at the USDA, had categorized twenty or so different fruits and vegetables for the antioxidant capacity. Blueberries come up pretty near the top,” Bickford said.

Once fully understanding the potential of the fruit, Bickford began to discover other properties of blueberries. She studied dozens of potential ingredients that could effectively combine with blueberries and enhance certain mechanisms of the body, such as fight damaging inflammation and promote new cell growth.

“When we combine the blueberries and the green tea plus the other ingredients we were actually able to boost the activity of each of the individuals, so that the activity of the individual is more than the sum of the part,” Bickford said.

Through her research, Bickford concluded that blueberries are more than just the fruit that one blends in their smoothie. This impactful fruit is an added support system or a “Band-Aid for the body” that anyone can benefit from.

Nielsen Visits USF, Seeking Passionate Students For Employment Opportunities

 

 

Nielsen is a widely known company, one that is constantly looking for new candidates to represent them. Nielsen studies consumer habits in more than 100 countries.

Jennifer Hurst is a manager with Nielsen, as well as a leader in the business-improving organization.

“Nielsen is a market research company,” said Hurst. “We are the science behind what’s next, so we measure what people watch and what people buy.”

Nielsen visits USF and surrounding communities every year, according to Hurst. The USF campus is one of the communities Nielsen enjoys visiting because of the type of candidates they receive.

The candidates chosen to work with Nielsen all have three key things in common: leadership skills, community service and passion.

Steve Filus, majoring in computer science at USF, cites the work environment at Nielsen as a major draw for him. Many potential candidates, like Filus, are excited to have the opportunity to get one-on-one time with a company of their dreams.

“So the work-life balance that they have there is the biggest piece for me,” said Filus. “They also are involved in the community. That’s one of the most important things for me for a place of work.”

The closest Nielsen in the Tampa Bay Area is in Oldsmar, Florida. However, the distance does not prevent the candidates and Nielsen from connecting.

Both parties know exactly what they want to gain from the other.

Nielsen is currently accepting applications on its website at www.nielsen.com/careers

USF Alzheimer’s Institute provides care to families along with patients

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute provides one of many support groups across the country that is host to caregivers of a family member with a mental illness such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Edward Batchelor and Margaret Hammoutree have attended the Byrd Institute’s support group for many years, and understand the stages of caring for a loved one.

“They educate them on what they can expect,” Batchelor said. “What possibly can they expect? Because you never know, and you can never fully prepare for what you might come across.”

According to Alz.org, 15.9 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in 2016,  valued at $230.1 billion.

The Byrd Institute, which has dedicated their focus towards patient caregiving and research for mental illness, holds open events for long-term caregivers and newcomers who have not experienced the impact of a support group.

“If you realize somebody else is going through the same thing you’re going through, it’s that kind of comradery and support that, ‘okay if this person can do it, I can do it too,’” Hammoutree said.

Eileen Poilley, the support group moderator at the Byrd center, has witnessed the learning curve that caregivers experience.

“They may learn a better way to communicate,” Poilley said. “They may understand some of the behaviors that their loved one does and not get upset.”

Poilley has also seen the changes to Batchelor and Hammoutree, and their outlook on the importance of attending support groups.

Batchelor took notice of the newcomers who broke down in emotion during the meeting, as he did on behalf of his wife when he first started attending.

“I continue to be involved in the support group because I feel like I can kind of help somebody else who’s behind me in this process as they get to that point, be prepared and make those decisions in a way that’s a good fit for their family,” Hammoutree said.

Studio Physique Offers Patented Lagree Method in St. Pete

Studio Physique offers hour-long workouts that are easy on the joints and tough on every muscle in the body.

This fitness studio is the first in the St. Petersburg area to offer the Lagree Fitness method: a combination of cardio, strength-training, endurance, and elements of balance. The method has recently been credited with shaping athletes, celebrities and models and is offered locally.

Studio Physique opened up in the summer of 2015 after the owner, Chris Field, tried the workout and loved it.

“I looked into bringing Lagree Fitness to St. Petersburg and Pinellas County and found out that it wasn’t in this area yet,” Field said. “So I jumped at the opportunity to be able to bring Lagree Fitness to this community, to my neighbors, and to my friends.”

The secret to the workout’s success is a machine called the MegaFormer. Sebastien Lagree created this patented machine to promote effective muscle stimulation without putting any unnecessary stress on the body’s joints.

“It is the first workout that I’ve done that hasn’t killed my muscles in a bad way. My muscles are sore, which is good, but not my joints. And that is a problem I had with a lot of other workouts,” Studio Physique member and certified Lagree Fitness trainer, Sabrina Feher said.

This workout is designed to fit the fitness needs of men and women with all body types.

“I’ve got triathletes working out next to couch potatoes,” Fields said. “And they all can challenge themselves or find the modifications that they need for any injuries and get an incredible full-body workout.”

CrossFit Aero Athletes Train for Reebok CrossFit Open

It’s 10 a.m. Monday; athletes from the Wesley Chapel and Tampa areas are using their mornings and bodies to the fullest potential at CrossFit Aero.

Wesley Chapel may still be growing, but it has been home to CrossFit Aero since January 2011.

CrossFit Aero, a privately owned and operated gym, offers challenges for people of all varieties. Whether you are new to CrossFit, or a certified trainer, CrossFit Aero has something for you.

Minnesota native, Jade Zeller, has been attending CrossFit Aero for the last four months since moving down south and shows no signs of stopping.

“I did a lot of research on google,” Zeller said. “I actually was talking to my sister who owns a CrossFit gym in Minnesota, and she was looking up all the coaches and their certifications and came across this one. I came in and did a free one day drop-in and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Many of these gymgoers are working toward their chance to compete in the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Open, which will begin on Feb. 23.

Jason Hamm, owner of CrossFit Aero, has incorporated a variety of workouts into the daily training that will also be included in the CrossFit Open.

Zeller said the daily practice helped everyone get more comfortable with these workouts.

CrossFit athletes like Jade, working toward their goals, become one step closer every day. But it is the progress along that way that makes it all worthwhile.

“I’m staying here for as long as I possibly can,” Zeller said. “This is my home gym. I’m happy here.”

For more information on CrossFit Aero and the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Open, please visit www.CrossFitAero.com and https://games.crossfit.com/.

Ex-professional tennis player becomes USF’s new head coach

Following the departure of Matt Hill, USF’s previous men’s tennis head coach, to Arizona State, the men’s tennis program decided that the best fit for the new head coach was already there. After serving as assistant coach for one season, Ashley Fisher was promoted to the head coach position for the 2017 season.

During his one year with the program, Fisher helped lead the team to their third-straight American Athletic Conference title, a No. 13 national ranking and their third trip to the NCAA tournament.

Before joining the USF tennis program, the Australian native had a successful 13-year professional tennis career. He was ranked in the top 20 in the world while winning four ATP World Tour doubles titles.

“We are a very lucky team to have an ex-professional tennis player to be as a head coach,” said senior player Vadym Kalyuzhnyy. “It’s just a more professional work environment.”

Although the ultimate goal is to win matches, Fisher is focused on the process this season.

“We just want to create a great program. We already sort of have that, there has been a lot of success here, but we want to kind of keep pushing forward and get the program into the top ten and start competing for national championships,” Fisher said.

Another mission of his is to connect and mentor each of the players.

“It’s nice to win tennis matches, but we have a greater responsibility in that we have to mentor these student-athletes and impact their lives and we have a big opportunity to do that,” he said. “I want to be remembered as a great tennis coach, but probably just as importantly I want to connect with these guys and kind of be there for the rest of their lives.”

Tampa Convention Center spices up menu options

The Tampa Convention Center will soon be partnering with a local restaurant to help further its menu choices.

Datz, a staple restaurant in the Tampa area, will soon be the new bistro for the Center. Datz has appeared on the show Food Paradise on the Travel Channel and is known for its creative food.

Doug Horn, the director of catering sales at Aramark for the Center, has worked with Aramark and the idea of bringing Datz into the 600,000-square-foot Center.

“Aramark has been trying to partner with local restaurants and local businesses to help develop, or further develop the local following for the Sail and the Convention Center,” Horn said.

The Center is located in the heart of downtown Tampa next to Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and many people stay in the nearby hotels, which increases the demand for food in the area.

The amount of people visiting the Sail Pavilion, Tampa’s only 360 degree waterfront bar, which is attached to the Center is overwhelming, leaving its single kitchen overwhelmed with the demand.

“Once these renovations are done we’ll have two different styled menus,” Horn said. “Also, if The Sail is busy, Bay Bistro kitchen is also very busy so we will be able to handle a greater volume of people for a lunch rush because we will have two separate kitchens.”

The Center has been serving the public for over 25 years. As the area expands with new buildings and restaurants, due to Jeff Vinik’s $3 billion development plan, the Center hopes to be able to draw in more business with the new partnership with Datz.

USF student lends hand to community

USF business student Daniel Iskander is taking a new spin on New Year’s resolutions and his version is not for his personal benefit.

Every day Iskander plans to help as many people as he can. Whether it is a monetary gift or a simple gesture of kindness, Iskander hopes to impact the lives of many this year.

“From now on, any time someone is in need I go out of my way and maybe get them some food or $10, $15, and then their reactions would make my day,” Iskander said.

Living near campus, Iskander has no trouble finding people around the area who could use some kindness and a helping hand.

Iskander said his inspiration comes from watching his father’s kind gestures as he was growing up. 

“My dad used to always give donations to everybody there and they all used to line up in huge crowds because they all loved him,” Iskander said.

Just like his father, Iskander sees himself taking his kind gestures to a larger scale and helping people out in third world countries later on down the road.

Misleading Labels on Healthy Snacks in Vending Machines

When choosing a snack from the vending machine you may only pay attention to labels on the front of the package; make sure to not let certain labels fool you into thinking you’re eating healthy.

Vending machines have made an effort to partake in the healthy transformation of food offered on college campuses. Snacks that are below 250 calories are now labeled with a green sticker.

There are also “2bu” vending machines, which are advertised as only being filled with healthy snacks.

Many people may think they are eating healthy if they choose a snack that is labeled organic, gluten free, natural or fat free.

Registered Dietitian Dr. Theresa Crocker said “labeling as a whole often misleads consumers.”

“Just because something is labeled organic or natural, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. But if instead, you set standards that all of the components in a vending machine meet XYZ standards then it’s guaranteed that people have access to healthier foods,” said Dr. Crocker.

James Thach, a student at the University of South Florida, has fallen victim of the misleading labels.

“If I saw something that was organic, I would assume that it would be a lot healthier than something that wasn’t,” said Thach.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The “2bu” vending machine offers a selection of organic options, including organic jellybeans. One package of these jellybeans has 58 grams of sugar. That is double the amount of sugar than a Twix candy bar, which has 28 grams of sugar per bar.

Although these snacks may not be mislabeled, the labels can be misleading. The nutrition facts will reveal more about what you’re eating than the labels on the front of the package.

Institute on Black Life Celebrates 30th Year

The University of South Florida’s Institute on Black Life celebrated their 30th Anniversary Symposium on Feb. 9 at the Alumni Center.

Highlighting research and promoting knowledge of Africa and the diaspora, or removal from ones homeland, is their main purpose. They believe this research will provide students with a larger perspective on the world.

Cheryl Rodriguez, director of the USF Institute on Black Life said African culture is everywhere in the world today.

“One of the things that we really need to try to understand in terms of Africa, is that through the transatlantic slave trade, people of African descent were spread all over the world.” Rodriguez said. “Even today, we have people who come from the African continent and go to different parts of the world like Europe, Asia and Latin America. Those travels, that spreading, leads to many different remarkable outcomes.”

African folk dancers  were in attendance to help the community experience African traditions and culture.

“My grandparents came to the United States in the early part of the 20th century from Cuba, so I am a third generation American.” Rodriguez said. “I think that our stories of making a life in America are very very important.”

Uwezo E. Sudan is a griot, which is a human repository of oral knowledge and West African history.Sudan said having a craze for making a change is all you need to become involved with their cause.

“How can people become involved? I think the first thing you need to do is probably begin to have a passion for justice,” Sudan said. “And begin to understand that you can make a difference no matter where you are.”