Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 28, 2017

In this news brief: a bomb threat in Brooksville forces the evacuation of several businesses and a daycare; a Polk County woman dies in an early morning house fire; the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office releases new surveillance video of a car burglar; the 29th annual Black History celebration is at the Tampa Convention Center; over 500 sailors are racing from St. Pete to Cuba.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 16, 2017

In this news brief: 11 year-old Jenna Irmler has Asperger’s Syndrome and was found 30 miles from her Brandon home today after reports that she was missing yesterday; a woman warned a burglar that she was armed, and shot him when he ignored her; Winn-Dixie is revamping their private label brands; Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office hosts “coffee with a cop” at a local McDonalds stay involved with the community.

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.

 

Skateboarders Excited For Bro Bowl 2.0 Opening

 

After years of hard work and dedication, Bro Bowl 2.0 in downtown Tampa opened on April 16.

The skatepark is a recreation of the 1979 Bro Bowl in Tampa. City officials had plans to demolish the skatepark and rebuild Perry Harvey Sr. Park.

Shannon Bruffett, the director of The Skateboarding Heritage Foundation, was involved in the effort to save the skatepark.

“I grew up skating here for almost thirty years. (I’m a) Tampa native, so it means a lot to me and the history of Tampa and skateboarding in Tampa,” Bruffett said. “I wanted this to be acknowledged just as much as the rest of Central Avenue’s history, since it played a role in it.”

The skatepark was developed for beginning and advanced skateboarders alike to have a safe place to skate.

Organizations like Boards for Bros support skateboarding in the community and help people who are not able to purchase a board.

“We target unserviced youth and we make sure they can have whatever they need to have to skateboard,” Michelle Box, the executive director for Boards for Bros, said. “So, we supply them with skateboards, experiences at the skatepark of Tampa, lessons, peer mentoring and things like that.”

The skatepark not only attracts people interested in the hobby, but it also gives them the opportunity to express their love for skateboarding.

“Skateboarding has always been a part of this city as long as it’s been around, and hopefully it will (continue for) generations to come,” Bruffett said.

Zumba helps Tampa residents get active

According to the Presidents Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 28 percent of Americans aged six and older are physically inactive.

Every Tuesday, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is the site of an active, free fitness opportunity, known as Zumba In The Park, which is open to the public.

Zumba combines music with dance moves to create fitness routines that incorporate both interval and resistance training for a full-body workout.

Less than a month away from the end of daylight saving time, local participants are taking full advantage of the sunlight before the program ends.

Stacey Komanowski enjoys the outdoor aspect of the program; the Tampa skyline and Riverwalk.

Komanowski introduced her long-time friend, Lynn Trujillo, to Zumba In The Park.

“I absolutely loved being outside and getting a little exercise and fresh air,” Trujillo said.

Currently, there are over 200,000 Zumba class locations worldwide.

Meagan Simmons has been instructing Zumba for four years, starting out in Phoenix, Arizona before moving to Tampa.

Simmons was previously a professional hip-hop dancer but after an injury, she began participating in Zumba. After her first Zumba session, she was asked whether she was an instructor, which led her to become one.

“You know, the best part about being a Zumba instructor is just being able to inspire people every day,” Simmons said.

Simmons also thanks Zumba for allowing her to develop as a leader, saying that it is something that she has struggled with her whole life.

“Being out in the front of everyone, being able to talk, act crazy, dance… has really opened me up in a positive way.”

Florida Focus Nov. 14, 2016

In this episode: authorities respond to a fire inside a vacant mobile home and discovered anti-Trump messages on the neighboring home; one woman is dead and another is injured after their vehicle falls from a highway overpass; it’s Fraud Awareness Week and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is hosting workshops to protect you; a new mobile app launches for Hart Buses in the USF and Carrollwood areas; a new art museum to break ground in St. Pete.

 

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Florida Focus Health Brief Oct. 28th, 2016

In this Florida Focus Health Brief: an experimental drug is showing great promise in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease; sitting for long periods of time can affect your health according to a recent science advisory; researchers are developing an edible battery; and Tampa Bay area’s first medical marijuana dispensary is now open.

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Florida Focus News Brief October 27th, 2016

In this Florida Focus news brief: a multi-car accident leaves two children and three adults dead; a car crashed into the garage of a Lutz home early this morning; an overnight robbery turned into a homicide at a Polk county gas station; a large housing project was approved in Florida; and this weekend is your last chance to check out the Hillsborough County Fair.

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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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Vegan Food Catering Business Embraces Education, Wellness

Yourhighness Tafari has been a vegan and Puritarian since 1998, which was a decision that motivated him in helping people improve their quality of health in the consumption choices they make.  Tafari’s devotion to spiritual purity, and food education soon became his life’s work.

In 2014, Tafari and co-owner Erica Cobb started the delivery/catering business The Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen in the Wesley Chapel/Tampa area. Over the past two years, the business has made a commitment to provide cleaner eating at an affordable rate while using precision in their vegan cuisines to benefit people mentally and spiritually.

Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen caters all local events, as well as appearances in all of the open air eateries in Hillsborough County.

The business concept arose when both Tafari and Negus traveled to New Orleans to do volunteer assistance with victims of Hurricane Katrina. Negus had already obtained a culinary degree from the University of Texas, and at that point, was not using it.

Tafari and Negus found the experience to be valuable and applicable to a business idea, which led to the creation of The Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen.

These two business owners specialize in all organic, non-meat food preparation.  Both owners show a passion for the work that they do, as well as passing on their culinary expertise to their children and youth of the community.

Tikur Negus, a chef from the Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen, said making quality vegan food and teaching people the benefits of vegan meals is important when representing the business.

“Our focus is on health, vision, and wealth,” Negus said.  “So we educate the people on the better ways of living, while providing food for them to show that vegan food is good for everybody.”

Tafari has been a lifelong Tampa resident. He can be reached through Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen on Facebook, as well as the “SourceTalk Saturday” monthly community events at the Tampa Community Center on 22nd Ave and Fletcher Ave.

The kitchen can be found on social media, as well as a monthly appearance at the Tampa Community Center. They offer monthly trainings for kids under 10 years of age.

Florida Focus News of the Day Oct. 20th, 2016

In this episode: the Florida Democratic Party wants to suspend the Provisional Ballot Law so that newly registered but unverified voters can participate in early voting, but a federal judge denied the request; presidential campaigns are spending top dollar in our state, according to Politico; the nay area leads in sales for single family homes; Hillsborough county fair offers wholesome family fun.

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Local Junior College Begining to Make its Mark

Led by recruiting coordinator Antonio Nelson and starting quarterback Brandon Conner, the Gattaca Junior College football program, a local Tampa Bay junior college, is making a name for itself.

Entering only its third season of football, GJC is striving to not only win games on the field, but develop the character of its players off the field as well.

“How to treat people, uh, be respectable, yes sir no sir,” Nelson said. “Just become a better young man overall.”

Located in Tampa, GJC offers full-time college credit classes online as well as in person at Hillsborough Community College campuses.

“That’s not only on the field, its off the field,” Conner said. “it taught me a lot, honestly like, but being a man is number one you know it’s time to step into the real world.”

As the recruiting coordinator, Nelson has the responsibility of bringing talented young men to the program. One of the main recruiting tools that GJC uses to keep in touch with recruits is the use of social media.

“Right now our biggest hit is Facebook,” Nelson said. “We get a lot of kids from the Facebook page.”

Although being a Florida-based program, GJC still travels all over the east coast to play other junior college opponents.

“We travel all over,” Nelson said. “We travel to Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.”

Gattaca started its program in August 2013 and will travel to Kentucky this season for the first time in school history.

 

 

 

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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Brew Bus makes its final stop

TAMPA, FL-The Brew Bus made a metaphorical bus stop Saturday.  Since 2011, the Brew Bus has allowed its patrons to ride around the Tampa Bay area drinking beer and touring breweries.

But with the grand opening of Brew Bus Terminal and Brewery, there is now a brick and mortar location for customers to go.

“It’s nice to have a brew bus spot for when I don’t want to be on the bus,” one patron said.

Company President Anthony Derby is proud of the history and quick rise of Brew Bus Brewing.  It originally started out as an actual bus, but now also includes the new aspect of a concrete location.

“We heard of all the other local breweries in the area starting up, so my mom actually had the idea of buying a bus and traveling from brewery to brewery,” Derby said.  “It’s not the bus rolling down the street or it’s mobile, it’s an actual tangible thing.”

The grand opening included live music, raffles and access to over 20 craft brews.  Brew bus also has other beers that rotate in and out, as well as cider and wine.

“They have some great beers, they’re rotating their taps regularly,” another customer said.  “I popped in a couple times during their soft openings as well and enjoyed it.”

The Brew Bus will maintain its mobile presence, with four buses in the Tampa Bay area.

People of all ages get active at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Zumba classes are fun, active and free to everyone who stops by “Zumba in the Park” at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Meagan Simmons has been leading the class every Tuesday night for two years and enjoys seeing old and new faces.

“The great thing about Zumba is that you’re not here for your neighbor, you’re not here for me, you’re here for yourself,” Simmons said.

The class starts promptly as 6:00 p.m. and is a full hour of exercise in a family-friendly environment.

Laurence Alo is a regular at the Zumba class. He’s been coming ever since the downtown YMCA started offering the class in 2014.

“Zumba is best when we have weather like we do today,” Alo said.

The class’s popularity has grown immensely. The number of dancers has increased from 20 people in the first year to an average of 50 to 60 people now. Men and women of all ages are seen in the crowd.

“It is a great way to meet different kinds of people,” Alo said.

“Zumba in the Park” is held every Tuesday at Curtis Hixon Park from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

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