Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 26, 2018

In this news brief: Tampa Bay students rally in Tallahassee; Allergy sufferers beware of the oncoming season; A large shed caught fire in Brandon; Florida Highway Patrol is encouraging motorists to stay at the scene of a crash.



Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 9, 2017

In this news brief: Hillsborough County deputies are looking for a man who shot and robbed a woman; a house fire sends two people to the hospital; firemen from around the state come together to train in real-life situations; the University of South Florida is honoring veterans.

Local church benefits from carnival’s food, fun


Novemberfest is back in Brandon this weekend. The annual carnival, now in its 46th year, will be held on the grounds of Nativity Catholic Church.

R.J. Brauneker, the chairman of Novemberfest, has been involved with the event for the past 42 years. Brauneker attended the event when he was a student at Nativity Catholic School. His parents were on the committee when he was a child.

“It just seemed right to pay it forward,” said Brauneker. “I’ve enjoyed it just as much as they have.”

Novemberfest has become one of the more popular carnivals in the Tampa Bay area. Thousands of visitors funnel in for the food, countless rides and musical and dance acts.

Some of the rides featured this year are the Ferris wheel, the Moon Raker and the Ring of Fire.

Eighth-graders from Nativity Catholic School enjoy hosting the event.

“Kiddie rides are the best rides,” said one of the students.

“From the top of the Ferris wheel, you can see Tampa,” said another student. “It’s really nice.”

“I’m coming back every year until I pass away,” said another one.



The event is also the church’s largest fundraiser. Kim Rice-Spencer, a volunteer at the event, said that it is about more than raising money for the church.

“For every 50 people that are not a part of parish that come out, if they don’t have a parish or a church home – maybe one will – but even if they don’t, then it’s something we’ve done not just for our parish but for our community,” she said.

Novemberfest is made possible by hundreds of volunteers, like Brauneker and Rice-Spencer, who dedicate many hours of their time to making it a reality.

For more news about the event, follow Nativity Catholic Church’s new Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Novemberfest runs from Nov. 18 to Nov. 22.


Brandon woman beats cancer


Brandon, Fla.—Two years ago, Eva Johnson was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at age 30.

Johnson said it was important for her to remain positive while she was fighting the disease.

“I didn’t let it control me,” Johnson said.  “I was in charge of that cancer, so taking it day by day was first and foremost for me.”

Johnson underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries.

“Going through all of that, it’s nothing you want anybody to have to go through,” Johnson said.  “It’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever been through.”

Johnson said her family helped her through the process.

“I tried to be her strength when she was weak,” Nichole McDonald, Johnson’s sister, said.  “I just tried to be positive, encourage her through her rough days, and remind her that brighter days are ahead of her and she could get through it.”

Johnson’s positivity also came from her son, Mason.

“He needs his mommy, and I planned on staying around for him for a long time,” Johnson said.

A year after her first surgery, Johnson learned she was cancer-free.

“When I found out, I was at the car dealership getting my oil changed, and I had to wait a whole week,” Johnson said. “Those five days were the worst. I was stressed, I was on edge, I cried every day about it.  And then when I found out, I screamed, I was out in the parking lot. I said, ‘I got the news’.”