Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 6, 2017

In this news brief: President Donald Trump visits MacDill Air Force Base; a Bradenton man is in custody following a police standoff; Pasco County launches a recycling survey designed to better understand residents habits; a police dog and his partner are back to work.

 

Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market’s Unique Vendors Attracts Throngs Of Curious Crowds Weekly

On Tuesdays, vendors line the sidewalks of Gulfport’s historic Waterfront district. The Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market attracts more than 1,000 people from October through to April.

In 2006, the market got its start in a small courtyard with only three vendors. Today, the market hosts up to 80 vendors on any given Tuesday during the season and contributes to community projects by providing grants with the money generated.

Susan Blankenship, market operations manager, appreciates the community element of the weekly event as well as the opportunity for visitors to find out about the Gulfport community.

“It gets people who live close to come down and walk around,” Blankenship said. “They get to know each other and socialize, and (it) gives new people an opportunity to find out about our great community.”

In an effort to maintain variety, prospective vendors are decided upon by a committee that reviews application submissions.

Variety is something that does not come short at Jerky Man Dan’s, where jerky, ranging from kangaroo, ostrich, duck, elk, alligator and more, can be found.

After being idle for one year, Jerky Man Dan’s is now up and running but with a new purpose and owner, Ted.

After the death of his brother, 58-year-old Ted decided to continue his brother’s entrepreneurial pursuit with the aim of aiding his mother while she struggles with her diminishing mental health.  

Since coming to the market each Tuesday, Ted has seen a light in his mother. Coming to the market is something that his mother, Marie, enjoys doing.

“I’m blessed enough to be able to spend some time with my mother before she passes away, to get her out of the house and let her enjoy life,” he said.

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.

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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.

Florida Focus News Brief Oct. 12, 2016

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.

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Florida Focus News Brief Oct. 4, 2016

In this episode: Hurricane Mathew causes the White House to cancel a Florida visit; The University of South Florida fraternity is under temporary suspension; A mobile home park in Lakeland is being sued for racial discrimination; Hillsborough County Police are looking for two burglary suspects; Florida has the nation’s largest increase in household spending.

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Florida Focus Sept. 29th, 2016

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.

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Florida Focus News Brief Sep. 26, 2016

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

 

Florida Focus News Brief September 21, 2016

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.

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USF’s Solar Energy Fair

On Saturday Mar. 26, the Solar Energy Society at USF held their annual Solar Energy Fair. It is an event created to help teach the Tampa community about the latest innovations and technologies offered around the city. At this year’s event, there were Question and Answer panels with University professors and specialists; however, the true heart of the event lies with the students who make it all possible.

This year, two USF graduates presented their research to the public in order to share their new ideas. “I have always been a solar enthusiast,” said Arun Kumar. “I hope that these technologies and my research can be used in Third World countries to help other people.”

New breakthroughs are also coming from female students, such as Francesca Moloney who said: “From an early age I knew I wanted to focus my career on something in the environment.”

Both of these students hope to take their research and implement them at the university and across the Tampa Bay area. If their research and innovations succeed, they hope to apply them around the world. They aspire to build awareness in the community about the research being conducted, so that people can make wiser choices in their everyday lives.

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

USF Spring Game Introduces Block Party, Concert

 

Whether USF fans cheered on the White team or the Green team, a new experience was ushered in at this year’s spring football game.

Billed as the Bulls Block Party, the event started two hours before kickoff as 4,418 fans made their way through the Corbett Stadium gates.

“It’s creating the feel of the tailgate party we have in front of Raymond James stadium, but bringing it here to the spring game on campus,” said Leni Baga, USF Director of Event Marketing and Licensing.

The Bulls Block Party included bounce houses, food trucks, and a student tailgate section. Bulls Radio resident DJs provided music before the game. A student band performed during the post-game football autograph line.

“The spring game has been fun on campus,” said USF student, Taylor Sanchez. “But I think this is really the first year that they made it its own event.”

USF’s campus soccer stadium has hosted the football preview for three years, providing an opportunity for the athletics department to build new traditions.

According to Assistant Director of Athletics for Marketing Adam Schemm, one of those traditions was the Create Your Own T-shirt Station. Fans narrowed down 12 design options to three that they could choose to get printed on a T-shirt.

“The fans really like them,” Schemm said. “It’s something different from what you would be able to get at your normal retail store.”

Regular football season begins for the Bulls on Saturday, September 3 against Towson University at Raymond James Stadium.

USF Women’s Basketball Will Return to NCAA Tournament

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team is returning to the NCAA Tournament after earning a No. 6 seed during this year’s Selection Show on Monday.

The team joined fans at the USF Sun Dome for a selection show watch party. Players had front row seats to the screen, to watch the announcement was broadcasted nationally on ESPN.

“It was nerve-racking to think that you’ll be that next team called,” senior guard Courtney Williams said. “I’m excited that we finally got our name called and the teams that we’re playing.”

This year’s tournament begins for the Bulls in Los Angeles, where they will play a ranked Colorado State team currently on a 28-game winning streak. The winner of that matchup will go on to play either UCLA or Hawaii in the second round.

This group of seniors brings experience to the program’s twelfth post-season tournament appearance in 13 years. Three of the team’s four NCAA Tournament runs happened in the past four years.

“They’re a veteran team,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “They know what’s at stake. Your next game can be your last.”

USF opened the season with a victory over NCAA Tournament team Jacksonville before going on to eventually defeat top 50 rating percentage index teams Chattanooga and Oklahoma State. The Bulls maintained their AP top 25 ranking all season and finished the season with a No. 21 RPI.

The Bulls are scheduled to play Saturday.

Getting social with the USF brand

Social media has never been more prevalent in college and professional sports than it is today. At the University of South Florida, Mike Farrell is the man behind the computer screen.

“A lot of it is one, developing a voice for our social channels and then two creating content that’s going to engage our fanbase,” Farrell said.

As the Director of Digital Content, Farrell is in charge of churning out vines, tweets, pictures and more across all of USF Athletics’ social media platforms every day.

“One of the things we want to do and want to push is to create stuff that is engaging, stuff that people want to consume, share, retweet and help spread the brand,” Farrell said.

One of the most important days for any athletic department each year is National Signing Day. Student athletes from all over the country officially sign with the school of their choosing. The content created by Farrell and his team made waves on a national level, including an appearance on Yahoo! Sports Dr. Saturday blog.

“This year in particular we had a couple national organizations, blogs, write about some of the things that we did,” Farrell said. “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of people put in a lot, a lot of hours for what’s really just a glorified morning. But I do think that it pays dividends in the end.”

The work Farrell puts in on a daily basis is critical to the growing online presence that is USF Athletics.

“For a large subset of our fans, if you don’t have that presence, you’re irrelevant,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics Andrew Goodrich said.

Even though Farrell is fully focused on the day-to-day task of enhancing USF Athletics’ presence online, he doesn’t lose sight of the big picture.

“When one person leaves, somebody else can come in and there’s no drop,” Farrell said. “That’s the USF brand. That’s the USF Athletics brand. That’s the USF football brand. There’s no change. That needs to be a constant.”

 

 

 

America’s Greatest Drag Racer 84-Years Strong

 

 

Ocala – An 84-year-old drag racing legend from Florida, has all the time in the world these days to tell his fans the story of his successful racing career and antique car museum.

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Don “Big Daddy” Garlits smiles with delight on a bright and sunny Friday afternoon, as he poses next to his 2011 Dodge Challenger Pro-Stock dragster.
  (Photo by Daniel S. Fisher)

 

Don “Big Daddy” Garlits is a retired American drag racing driver, and an automotive engineer for American drag racing.  Garlits is the all-time winning drag-racer with 144 national event victories, and a record 17 world drag racing championships, according to his online biography on garlits.com.  During a private tour at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Garlits said he first earned the nickname “Big Daddy” from race announcer Bernie Partridge, after a dominant win at the 1962 U.S. Indianapolis Nationals in his famous Swamp Rat IV dragster.

“Back then, I was more of a top fuel driver because I like to build my cars light and fast,” Garlits said.  “When we first ran Swamp Rat IV at Indianapolis, the car kept breaking axles to a point where all the young drag racers started making fun of me.  Eventually, we got it fixed, and I set a new world record of 180.36 mph, and the announcer Bernie Partridge says, ‘Well, we’re gonna have to call him Big Daddy from now on, for he set a new world record folks.’ ”

Garlits eventually went on to break more quarter-mile speed records in his Swamp Rat dragsters, most notably for reaching a personal career best of 323.04 mph at the 2003 Gator-nationals in Gainesville, Florida with Swamp Rat 34.  In a 1985 Motorsport documentary by Steve Evans, Garlits said the Swamp Rat I was his favorite dragster.  In 1958, Garlits traveled to the Bakersfield quarter-mile in California with Swamp Rat I and became the first person to top 180 mph.

 

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To the right is Don Garlits’ Swamp Rat I, resting peacefully on a Friday afternoon in Swamp Rat Alley.  It was the first car back in 1958 to reach 180 mph on the quarter-mile.  (Photo by Daniel S. Fisher)

 

“Swamp Rat I is my favorite car in the whole world,” Garlits told Evans.  “It was the first car that I ran both nitro-methane gas, and the Chrysler Hemi engine.”

Even in retirement, Garlits still feels the need for speed, like a 5-year-old Ricky Bobby driving mama’s station wagon.  Garlits designed the world’s first and fastest all electric dragster in May 2014.  Garlits, who named the car Swamp Rat 37, set a 185.60 mph speed record at Bradenton Motorsports Park’s quarter-mile track.  Despite Garlits’ SR-37 being short from the 200 mph mark, he said he believes that the race is still on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Swamp Rat 37 is an all-electric dragster that I am experimenting with now,” Garlits said.  “Two years ago, I set a world record of 185.60 mph on batteries, and I am trying to make it go 200 mph.”

In 1984, during Garlits’ storybook career in drag racing, he and his wife, Pat, started preparing grounds for his famous antique car and drag racing museum.  Thirty-three years later, the Don Garlits Drag Racing Museum is still in business off of Interstate-75 in Ocala.

“In the opening year, we sold 27,000 tickets,” Garlits said.  “Since then, we have been averaging about 45,000 people a year, and have expanded the museum to about 65,000 feet of show area.  As you can tell, we are full up, so we’re going to need more space.”

Garlits was born in Tampa in 1932, and has remained a resident of the Sunshine State.  Today, he lives with his family in Ocala, on the same 16 acres of land near his museum.

Garlits has won the National Hot Rod Association U.S. Nationals eight times, and was the first to top 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, 260, and 270 mph, according to his online biography. For having such an illustrious career, it is no wonder that his name is synonymous in the Motorsports world.

Among the nine people who attended a private tour recently was Jim Morningstar from Dayton, Ohio.  Morningstar enjoyed his first time at the museum, which he said was part of his five-day Florida vacation.

“Recently, I have spent two days out of my five-day Florida vacation coming here,” Morningstar said.  “And I have enjoyed every minute of my time with Mr. Big Daddy.”