Florida Focus News Brief April 11, 2017

In this brief: two brush fires are on-going in Pasco County; the Hillsborough Planning Commission and the Florida Department of Health are holding a meeting to receive feedback on safety issues from residents of Terrace Park; a school bus crash in Sarasota sends seven students, a bus driver, a bus attendant, and driver of another car to the hospital; Zephyrhills Police are asking for help in their search for three men who stole weapons from the Sunshine State Armory after crashing a pickup truck into the store on Sunday.

Florida Focus News Brief April 12, 2017

In this news brief: The Bay area held a memorial for a teen in Tampa; a man died this morning after being trapped in a Pasco County house fire; Pasco County is now under a burn ban, and fires cannot be set in unincorporated areas without a permit; local organizations hosted over one thousand Bay area high school students for a construction career day.

Florida Focus News Brief April 13, 2017

In this news brief: crews in Pasco County are getting closer to containing four Pasco County wildfires; Pasco Sheriff’s Office is looking for two masked thieves who robbed a Wesley Chapel 7-11; a USF St. Petersburg historian is charged with child pornography; wildlife officials are asking parents to avoid buying ducks for Easter baskets; local tax service agencies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt will have extended business hours this weekend to help you file your taxes.

Florida Focus News Brief Oct. 3, 2016

In this episode: Rent prices in Tampa are double the national rate, rising over four percent; families at Mosley Motel are being evicted by the property’s new owners; an 18-year-old is found dead with a gunshot wound in Palmetto; the Howard Frankland Bridge won’t be getting an express toll lane; FEMA crews are assessing damages of Pasco County homes that could be considered for federal aid.

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The Cinderella Project Of Pasco County

The Cinderella Project of Pasco County is offering free prom dresses and accessories to students on a budget.

The organization has over 1,200 dresses to offer to any girl that isn’t able to purchase a dress of their own. The dresses come in both small and larger sizes.

“It just takes one. That one special girl to walk in and they don’t want to take the dress off,” said organizer Julie Rockwell. “It just takes one to come up and give you a hug at the end and tell you ‘thank you’.”

Along with dresses, there are also donated shoes, purses and jewelry for girls to browse through and match to their dress.

“I like giving back to the community,” said volunteer Laura Luter. “Seeing them have joy over finding the right dress for them, they know it immediately, and that’s the reward.”

The non-profit organization has been holding Cinderella boutiques around Pasco for the past 13 years.

Each boutique’s location is donated to the project for free.

“It’s important that they experience prom because it’s a chance at one night maybe out of the year that they get to really dress up and feel beautiful,” Rockwell said. “I would hate to see any girl be able to go because she couldn’t afford a dress or a pair of shoes or some jewelry.”

The last boutique is taking place this Saturday, March 12 in at 38022 River Road in Dade City from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Video: Christopher Hethcox turns lifelong passion for cheerleading into remarkable career


TRINITY — As an aspiring male cheerleading coach, Christopher Hethcox seemingly had the odds stacked against him early in life.

“The stigma of being a male cheerleader was something that was rough in the rural parts of Alabama,” Hethcox said.

But Hethcox didn’t let it bring him down. At age 13, Hethcox knew he had a passion for tumbling and gymnastics.

Twenty-two years later, Hethcox has turned that passion into a career as an instructor with All-Star Cheerleading at the Suncoast Gymnastics Academy in Odessa.

Though the profession does not necessarily have a large salary, Hethcox said he isn’t in it for the money — he just wants to help his athletes grow.

“I think I love the process of the training, performing, watching the development over the year of an athlete that’s had this place where they started,” Hethcox said.  “And then, where they end up.”

Hethcox coaches multiple levels of cheerleading with All-Star Cheerleading and has won multiple championships.

Competing at that level, Hethcox said,  is something that can give competitors butterflies. But for him, it’s all about keeping his team calm.

Mark Sczcepanik, whose daughter is coached by Hethcox, described him as passionate and driven.

“Coach Chris has done an incredible job with our daughter,” Sczcepanik said. “She went from never cheering ever six months ago to just doing an incredible job, thanks to his fine coaching.”

Hethcox doesn’t need praise, though. He just wants it to be about the kids.

“I want them to become sisters that they would do anything for each other,” Hethcox said.

Pasco County officials warn about mail ballot scams

This episode of Florida Focus covers news from around the region and from around the state for Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Pasco County election officials issued a warning about mail ballot scams.

A wrong-way driver was charged with a DUI on the Veterans Expressway.

Red light cameras in St. Petersburg were deactivated.

A suspicious white substance resulted in an evacuation, and a homeless shelter in St. Petersburg received $6 million.

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