Tampa March For Our Lives draws thousands of protesters

Thousands of people gathered at Kiley Gardens in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on March 24 as part of a national protest against gun violence called March For Our Lives.

The march comes as a response to the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. Over 700 March For Our Lives protests happened worldwide, with about 800,000 people marching in Washington, D.C., alone.

According to the March For Our Lives website, its primary demands include universal background checks, a searchable database for the ATF and the ban of high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.

Thousands of students gathered in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, Florida, to advocate for stricter gun control. Photo by Maria Laura Lugo.

Susana Matta Valdivieso, a 17-year-old student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, spoke at the Tampa march.

“We are all here because we support this movement, this revolution that will not end until our cities, our towns, our workplaces, our schools and our nation is safe,” Matta Valdivieso said. “As citizens of the U.S. we depend on our Congress to make laws and policies to keep us safe. But when they fail to do so, it is our duty to take action.”

Matta Valdivieso isn’t the only student worried about her safety. Sickles High School student Elizabeth Collins is also concerned about the possibility of gun violence at school.

“Every day I come to school and I worry that someone is going to come and shoot us,” said Collins. “It’s a possibility for every person in America that someone is going to kill you because of a gun, because there are no gun laws. Every politician has a job to protect the people, and they’re not doing anything.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also spoke at the march in support of the protest. He called on people to be more politically active to help achieve their goals.

“If you want bump stocks banned, then I need you,” said Buckhorn. “If you want assault weapons out of the hands of people who don’t deserve them or don’t need them, I need you, so march on. If you want a waiting period, if you want background checks, then I need you, so march on.”

Brianna Aguasvivas, another student from Sickles High School, agrees that young people will be the ones to make a difference. He also believes that the recent gun violence in schools will lead to an increase in voter registration.

“Politicians should be scared because there’s a lot of kids who are either 18 or just under 18 that by the next election will be registered to vote,” said Aguasvivas. “We will be voting them out.”

 

The next step, according to the March For Our Lives committee, is to register people to vote so that they can vote for candidates who support stricter gun control.

For more information about the March For Our Lives movement, visit: https://marchforourlives.com/home/.

Florida Focus News Brief 19 April, 2018

In this news brief: New Tariffs set by the Trump Administration are causing job cuts in the Tampa Bay Area; Former Police Chief Jane Castor is running for Tampa mayor; In April alone Pasco County Fire rescue has responded to two fatal drownings; Tampa is ranked as one of the friendliest cities in the U.S. according to Homes.com.

 

Credits:

Anchor: Nathalie Moreau

Camera Operators: Gabe Freitas and Joshua Torres

Floor Manager: Gabe Freitas

Graphics: Maria Laura Lugo

Technical Director: Adam Zubek

Audio: Jacob Swisher

Prompter: Peter Gooden

Radio: Nada Blassy

Web Content: Olivia Forbis

Faculty Advisor: Cathy Gugerty

Graduate Assistant: Kelsey Baker

Teaching Assistant: Dakota Galvin

 

 

Florida Focus News Brief April 16, 2018

In this news brief: A month-long investigation into stolen cigarettes leads to fifteen arrests; Allegiant Airlines responds to the results of a 60-minute investigation; tomorrow is the deadline to file your federal taxes.

 

 

Credits:

Anchor: Jackson Cardarelli

Camera Operators: Anisa Kornegay

Floor Manager: Anisa Kornegay

Graphics: Morgan Hill

Technical Director: Hassan Khan

Audio: Greg DeDario

Prompter: Juliette Lowe

Radio: Marisa Trant

Director: Megan Perdomo

Producer: Marisa Trant

Web Content: Dakota Galvin

Faculty Advisor: Cathy Gugerty

Graduate Assistant: Kelsey Baker

Teaching Assistant: Dakota Galvin

New boba store hopes to appeal to USF students

With the rising popularity of boba, it’s no surprise that people can now enjoy a spot for the delicious dessert beverage near the University of South Florida.

Chewy Boba Co. opened its doors Jan. 11. It’s located at 2572 E. Fowler Ave., which is only a mile away from the university.

“We already have five stores in Orlando, Florida, and one in Las Vegas,” said Steven Page, the manager of Chewy Boba Co. “This is a great location. We get a lot of traffic from Chipotle and then the shopping center here is really good too.”

Chewy Boba is a new boba joint in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Yara Zayas.

Boba is a Taiwanese tea-based delicacy made from tapioca. Visitors can choose from an exotic menu that showcases flavors such as jasmine, mango, passion fruit and ginger honey.

“Our most popular are Thai and taro, and original milk tea and honeydew. ” said Page. “Those are the ones we have on tap. We also have other popular flavors like our blended specialties such as California Dreamin’.”

The shop also offers an assortment of macarons to complement the boba.

As customers enter the store, they are brought into a unique atmosphere filled with various pieces of art, books, board games and arcade cabinets. There are several tables and couches for people to sit and relax.

One of the favorite arcade games for customers to play is Dance Dance Revolution.

“The DDR machine, when it’s going, gets people in here all the time trying to play that,” said Page.

Customers can also participate in video game contests during certain weekends. Page described it as a great way to hang out and make some new friends.

“We have tournaments that we run for fighting games every other Friday, and then we have ‘Smash Bros.’ tournaments every other Saturday as well,” he said. “There’s no small spaces, people aren’t cramping together, everyone can walk around, it’s really great.”

Chewy Boba Co. displays a variety of artwork inside its store, which helps create a fun, modern environment.

Some of the art portrays “Star Wars” characters such as Chewbacca and Boba Fett. One of the founders of the company, Quan Vu, explained that the similarity between the name of the store and the movie was merely a coincidence.

“I’m an artist by trade, graphic designer, animator, illustrator and I do video productions,” he said. “I just came up with a few characters that kind of intertwined with the whole Boba thing and it worked out good.”

Vu originally started his business in 2002 as a trademark license under a different company. He was unsatisfied with how that company ran itself, which led him to creating his own business.

“They weren’t providing,” said Vu. “So, we decided that we would just switch over completely and start our own brand.”

Vu hopes Chewy Boba Co. will become a staple of the USF community. The store’s manager believes that it’s well on its way.

“We actually encourage USF students, they get a 10 percent discount,” said Page. “Students come in here all the time looking to study and kind of just hanging out. We got chill music all day.”

For more information about Chewy Boba Co., visit the company’s website: http://chewyboba.com/.

Local Tampa architect reveals unofficial Ray’s stadium design

The stadium design by Joe Toph includes a bird’s-eye view.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tampa architect has developed an unofficial visual concept for the proposed Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Ybor City.

Joe Toph released his vision for the new stadium on SkyScraperCity.com under the username Bueller. The designs are unofficial and the Ray’s team was not involved in their creation.

“I created these for fun,” Toph said. “I just wanted to get a creative dialogue started on the potential the location has.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan announced Oct. 24 that he found a site for a new baseball stadium. The 14 acre site is bordered by the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, North 15th Street, East 4th Avenue and Channelside Drive.

Locals and officials brought up one of the main issues with the location, which is parking. The lot is large enough for a baseball stadium, but there is concern that there may not be enough room on the proposed site for additional parking to be built.

However, the proximity to Ybor City and Downtown Tampa makes this site easily accessible through public transit. Toph’s plan includes the use of the trolley line, noting that it could also serve as a light rail line in the future. A possible Uber pickup lot and a water taxi marina are also included in the design.

If Toph’s vision does not pan out, and another garage cannot be built on the lot, there are other parking options. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told ABC Action News that the parking garages in Ybor City and in the downtown area are not used every night.

“The key will be to provide the linkages whether it’s a trolley or whatever to connect those garages to the stadium,” Buckhorn said.

The next hurdle for the proposed site will be finding the funding for the project.

“That’s going to be the $800 million question,” Buckhorn said.

The Rays will have to come to the table with a significant financial plan to fund the potential stadium. Mayor Buckhorn doesn’t want another stadium built on taxpayer dollars.

Raymond James Stadium is funded completely by taxpayer dollars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lease to play in the stadium. According to Buckhorn, another stadium funded the same way would leave future generations of mayors and locals with an unpayable debt.

Tampa Bay real estate agent and Palmetto Beach resident, Laura Meyer, is looking forward to the possible development of the new stadium in such close proximity to the neighborhood she has called home for over a decade.

“A stadium in Ybor would have a huge impact on the residential community here,” Meyer said. “It’s the kind of boost the neighborhood could use to really put it on the map as a new up and coming area for Tampa.”

Palmetto Beach sits south of Ybor, west of 22nd Street and tucked on the east side of Desoto Park. Meyer says the area has a lot of potential to be another residential hot spot like Channelside and Hyde Park have become.

However, other locals are not as convinced that a stadium located in Ybor would be good move.

“I don’t know how they are going to fit a stadium onto the lot they are interested in,” Justin Cales, a student at Hillsborough Community College, said. “The traffic would just be terrible, as if it isn’t bad enough already. A stadium over here would be chaos.”

Cales has been attending HCC in Ybor for over a year. The small brick roads have taken time for him to adjust to and the idea of stadium traffic on those streets isn’t comforting.

“Ybor is great the way it is now, I don’t why we’d want to mess up a good thing,” Cales said.

Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 16, 2017

In this news brief: Tampa police and local organizations are stepping up their efforts in Seminole Heights; Two Tampa beaches close for high levels of bacteria; The USF football team has had an impressive season and tonight they’re playing in primetime; Busch Gardens is asking you to name their newest baby.

 

Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 15, 2017

In this news brief: A crash involving a school bus and a car injures six people; A “skimmer sweep” in Pasco County finds devices on pumps in three different gas stations.; Police search for man who stole money at a Sun City Center Publix; A new app helps make parking easier in Sarasota; Chi Alpha works to ship packages to Puerto Rico.

Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 8, 2017

In this news brief: Sarasota police arrest 15 people in a major undercover drug investigation; in a new phone scam, callers are claiming to be law enforcement; a Tampa man convicted of murder is scheduled to die by lethal injection; Hillsborough County students protest teachers’ wages at several Hillsborough County schools.

Florida Focus News Brief Oct. 30, 2017

In this news brief: Jury selection in a quadruple murder trial begins; A Tampa woman is injured in an early morning shooting; The University of South Florida holds its first annual “Slut Walk”; Tampa International Airport is growing, adding 69 new shops; Dave and Buster’s opens its first in Tampa.

Tampa Police Museum educates its community

TAMPA- There’s no doubt that police officers have a risky job. Saving the lives of others and making sure citizens are safe on a daily basis is an officer’s duty and mission. You can imagine the constant fear that their loved ones may have while they’re out patrolling our streets.

Mother and volunteer, Kathy Belmonte, knows about feeling anxiety as her identical twin sons work for the Tampa Police Department (TPD).  In order to keep her mind off the potential safety concerns Belmonte volunteers at the Tampa Police Museum.

“First of all they’re shocked that it’s free,” said Belmonte, who has been volunteering at the museum on Saturdays for a year. “That’s always a big shock.”

Organized in 1995, the museum holds the history of TPD from as early as the late 1800s. The museum is located on Franklin Street next to the police station in downtown Tampa.

The museum was originally an old courtroom on Tampa Street that contained memorabilia. Lieutenants Robert Pennington and Roberto Batista decided to turn the room into what it is today. There’s much to discover as one walks through the museum for the first time. Visitors can expect to see both an artificial helicopter and a police car. According to Belmonte, kids love taking pictures with both artifacts.

Artifacts are not the only main attraction one can experience. Visitors will be able to “time-capsule” their way and gain insight of TPD, which was formed in 1886.

“What they should expect is to see how police work has evolved throughout the years,” said Paul Mumford, a volunteer and retired TPD officer. “From communications with a telephone, to communications with walkie-talkies and cell phones, and how the generation has gone from the old way of doing police work.”

One of Belmonte’s favorite parts of the museum is the “Andy Wade Memorial.” During his adult years, Wade traveled all over the Midwest to collect original police records of the world’s most notorious criminals. Some of the criminal records you will see include George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife Kathryn, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, Harry Pierpont and George “Baby Face” Nelson.

According to the biography attached to his memorial, Wade died in a car crash. His family donated the records he collected to the museum. Some may not know that back in the early 1940s and 1950s, Tampa itself was known to be filled with local gangsters and members of different mafias.

“I love looking at all these old mug shots of famous people,” said Belmonte. “I’m impressed. I feel like every time I’m here, I find something new that I didn’t really notice before.”

Mumford has been volunteering at the museum for two years. The majority of the museum’s volunteers are retired TPD officers. There are parts within the museum where officers donated items to be showcased. Although Mumford has not donated items, you can still see him donating his time every Monday.

“There’s a lot of displays that are from officers,”said Mumford. “There’s a display of badges and patches – those were all police officers that had collections that donated them to the museum so they could be displayed to the people.”

Even though the tour includes many fun facts, the museum is also filled with somber memories of officers who lost their lives on duty. One can sense the love and purpose to serve the community that the fallen officers had for their city. Even though the museum has been open for over 20 years, the goal is to inform and educate more people about the wonderful history of the great men and women who protect us every day.

The Tampa Police Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Florida Focus News Brief Oct. 18, 2017

In this news brief: Tampa police make an arrest for an early morning  homicide; A teacher’s aide is arrested for child molestation; Tampa area deputies are traveling to the University of Florida in preparation for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech; New bell schedules are coming to Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Local shelter provides safe place for Tampa’s homeless

It’s a homeless shelter run by homeless people. Located on Florida Avenue in Hillsborough County, Homeless Helping Homeless houses dozens of people.

“We are 100 percent donation based, so that limits the amount people we can help,” said marketing and social media coordinator Kristen Ellis. “We’re limited in the things we can do.”

The organization is looking to expand their outreach to at least 36 more beds within the year. Currently, they have room for 18 beds in the main office, and rooms for more people in need at their women’s facility right down the street.

“We don’t take grants because we serve a niche of people that don’t qualify for those grants,” Ellis said.

If they take federal assistance, they would have to drug test their clients and make them meet certain rules. Ellis wants people to know that is not Homeless Helping Homeless’s calling.

“These people have their own journey, though it may be why they’re in this situation. We believe everyone has the right to a safe place to sleep,” Ellis said.

Current client and former heroin addict Celeste Dogmi is a testament to this. Dogmi has been sober for over a year and says it’s because of the homeless shelter.

“I was thrown out of rehab with no place to go,” Dogmi said. “It’s helping me with sober living, food, shelter and stability.”

The organization’s intention is not to change an addict’s lifestyle, but to help in whatever way a client wants them to. But if their help leads to someone getting clean, they consider that a win.