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Letters to the editor: Distorted view

New President’s Goal To Reach Out To Keystone

Posted Apr 25, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 25, 2007 at 01:14 PM


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Rumor has it that it took a bribe of a lifetime supply of sour cream doughnuts to convince Tom Aderhold to agree to take the presidency of the Keystone Civic Association.

While Aderhold joked that did weigh in his decision, he said the clincher was that the opportunity arose at the perfect time in his life.

The volunteer Keystone position has been vacant for about a year, and with Aderhold’s recent retirement, the time just seemed right, he said.

“There was a need for a fundamental change and focus in the association,” he said.

Aderhold, 63, recently retired from PHR Associates, a human resources firm, where he was president. Since then, he has decided to invest more of his time in two organizations – the civic association and the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance. He serves as vice president of the alliance.

“Because the KCA is unique and does not just deal with bake sales, cutting grass and deed restrictions, it’s very proactive in dealing with issues affecting the way of life,” he said. “It’s not a fluff organization.”

Aderhold, born in Jacksonville, moved to Keystone with his wife, Barbara Dowling, in 1997. It didn’t take long before they both became involved with the civic association.

Soon after the purchase of their home, they were faced with the possibility of having cell phone towers on their property.

Dowling said they both became very concerned and began generating a grass-roots effort, which led to meeting members of the association who helped with the cell phone tower initiative.

“The agreement (with the county) was modified and included more protective elements for the community,” said Aderhold.

Now, some 10 years later, Aderhold has been elected president. After the March 22 election, he said he hopes to go back to the roots of the association and bring in more social aspects.

“The first thing is to have open conversation and meld focus and interest with our member base,” he said.

There are 350 families registered in the association’s membership and Aderhold said he hopes to reach out to many more Keystone residents.

“Everyone in Keystone needs to hear from us,” said Aderhold. “We need to reach out to business owners, homeowners groups and reinvigorate the social calendar.”

Being involved in the community is not something new to Aderhold. Throughout his life he has always managed to involve himself with different organizations.

Aderhold graduated with bachelor’s in psychology and engineering from University of Central Florida and later received a master’s in rehabilitative services from Florida State University.

While in the workforce he held titles like rehabilitation counselor, president of human resources and risk management and has also been involved with other organizations, like the citizens advisory committee for the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Beyond his present positions, he is also actively involved with current issues, such as property tax reform, the cell phone towers, lake management, “and any other important issue that comes along,” he said.

Dowling said many have been campaigning for some time now for Aderhold to lead the civic association. She added many view him as someone who gets the job done, is tough, fair, open-minded and has the ability to go downtown and present any of their issues.

“Tom’s been in the background for many years, always had a good eye on things going on and how they effect other things, said Woody Wood, director of the civic association. “He’s been involved in many groups and committees within the county. We had long discussed his taking over the president position and his work schedule finally made it possible. Our hopes and his are that we can get more people involved in the association through different programs and events.”

With his new position as president, Aderhold wants to ensure that he maintains open lines of communication with the community.

“I want to know how I affect the community and how people see me,” said Aderhold. “I want feedback this will help reduce barriers.”

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Westchase Resident Provides Insight On Restaurant Business

Posted Apr 25, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 25, 2007 at 01:10 PM

Ron Salerno, 43, is originally from Long Island, N.Y. He is now a Westchase resident and owner of Bellisimo Ristorante and Bona Pizza, 10102 Montague St.

Where did you go to school? What did you major in?

I graduated from Countryside High in ‘82 and took some business classes at St. Petersburg College but obtained all my formal training from my prior experiences.

What prepared you the most for your career?

I worked for McDonald’s for over 10 years, attended and graduated all of their formal business classes ... (I was also) recognized as one of the youngest general managers
ever promoted at that time. I also worked for Checkers Corporation for about 13 years and was director of operation services for over 1,000 restaurants. There I participated in taking the company public and had the privilege of watching it grow from about 60 restaurants.

How long have you been the owner of Bellisimo Restaurant and Bona Pizza?

I took over both back in September of 2006. However, I have been involved with the Brunos for the last five years or so. Working closely with them learning all aspects of the concept they began in 2001. Have been very hands on ever since, influenced by Chef Santo Bruno when it comes to sauté and recipes.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The most interesting part of this new endeavor is finally taking all that I have learned in the past 28 years and putting it to the test. So far, it has been a very challenging time in my life, but I love every second of it.

Did you always want to own a business, and how does it feel?

Through my entire career, I always imagined myself owning and operating my own restaurant and working with the Brunos, I am grateful that the opportunity presented itself. It has been a perfect fit as we compliment each other with different skills and experiences. I have been in the restaurant business all of my life and positioned myself on the front line of the service and hospitality aspect of it and have always appreciated the importance of guest satisfaction.

Now you are the new owner, what changes do you hope to bring to the restaurant?

Westchase is a great town and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this great community. It has grown leaps and bounds, especially in the last three years. We have seen many new businesses, including an abundance of new restaurant openings, so it’s imperative that we be on top of our game.

What are your future goals?

My goal is to stay close to the pulse of the community and deliver on great food and service while continuing to provide an experience to remember.

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Children Have Their Own Art Show

Posted Apr 25, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 25, 2007 at 01:03 PM


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Students at Westchase Elementary will not only have their art displayed, but will also have an opportunity to speak with some community artists during the annual Arts Festival.

Westchase Elementary art teachers Linda Whitelaw and Jamie Jensen have been working with their students throughout the school year in preparation for the festival, while
Lynne Piontek, PTA chairwoman for the event, has coordinated with artists to attend and speak with the children.

The end result is an opportunity for all students to have their own small-scale art show and gain some insight from different artists within the community.

“It’s a day for children to show off their own art and get in touch with different kinds of artists,” Piontek said.

The event, in its seventh year, will have about 10 artists from the community attending. The artists will include jewelers, watercolor artists, floral designers and more.

Piontek added there will be three students – a graphic designer, recording artist and fashion designer – from the International Academy of Design attending to provide information.

Whitelaw said about 800 students will have their artwork displayed.

She explained the children work on a specific project in class. The artwork is later mounted on a large banner with the child’s name underneath.

“You can see how everyone took one concept and made it their own and they get to show it off to everyone,” said Jensen.

More than 100 banners will be on display in the covered court area, Whitelaw added.

During the festival, classes will have a designated time when they are allowed to tour the art displays and then stop by the artists’ stations.
The children’s work will be on display for one week.

“It’s an opportunity to display what they have learned and they can take pride in what they did,” said Jensen.

Whitelaw said the event originally started as a small art show for the students and parents to attend in the evening.

After about two years, the PTA become involved and expanded the fest by adding community members to become involved and bring outside knowledge on various types of art.

“When you see the projects they do it’s not just paint on paper,” Piontek said.

“It gives kids who struggle academically to have their day to shine,” said Jensen.

The art fest will take place in the school’s covered court area, 9517 W. Linebaugh Ave., from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today.

For information, call Westchase Elementary, 631-4600.

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Keystone Fest Features Youngest Jazz Band

Posted Apr 19, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 19, 2007 at 11:44 AM


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The Keystone Civic Association decided to use its first Jazz Fest to advocate anything dealing with children.

So its Sunset Jazz Fest and Picnic in the Park April 21 at the Keystone Recreation Center, 17928 Gunn Highway, will have Sonny LaRosa’s America’s Youngest Jazz Band performing.

Debra Benoit, vice president of the Keystone Civic Association, said she found out about the band while searching online.

The association decided this year it wanted to host an event for the community. It requested a mini grant from the Hillsborough County Office of Neighborhood Relations to pay for the event.

“I think this community will thoroughly enjoy the band,” said Benoit, who hopes to make this an annual affair.

The fest will have a stage for the band to perform and attendees are encouraged to bring picnic baskets and blankets to enjoy the music.

The band based in Oldsmar is composed of 22 children ages 4 through 13. LaRosa, a former trumpet player, came up with the idea to offer children an opportunity to be in a formal jazz band about 30 years ago.

“Kids only have marching bands in school, so I thought about offering a jazz band,” said LaRosa.

The band travels around the United States performing at other jazz festivals or at shows with professional musicians.

“They play with world class musicians and it’s great for the kids to hear,” said LaRosa.

The band members have about two to three performances a month. Some of their upcoming performances include a concert with the Florida Orchestra at Raymond James Stadium and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute Swing into Spring Festival in California.

LaRosa said the money the band receives for its performances and through donations pays for its trips.

Currently the band is seeking additional funds to pay for its trip to California. During the Keystone festival, a donation jar will be available at the refreshment booth by the center.

“By our hiring them it’s going to help fund their trip to California,” said Benoit. “We are glad we can help and contribute.”

The band members rehearse at the North Bay Community Church, 3170 McMullen Booth Road, twice a week with LaRosa and are expected to practice everyday on their own.

While it’s a tough schedule to keep, LaRosa said it can be done. Children, he said, should not be intimidated with the music and feel they can’t play jazz.

“I work with them like crazy,” said LaRosa. “It takes time and it doesn’t happen over night. But kids have talent, they don’t know of.”

Many of the children play more than one instrument and sing. The band has saxophone, trumpet, trombone, bass guitar and drums.

The performances include singing, solo parts and dancing. Some of the tunes they play are “Stardust,” “Stomping at the Savoy,” and “Bugle Call Rag,” to name a few.

“It’s fun and I like to play jazz,” said Eddie Hernandez, a trumpet player. “With jazz you get more of a feel for it.”

“I have learned a lot from the band and we got to go places we would not have gone otherwise,” said Kyle Hughey, 14.

For information, visit

The free jazz festival in Keystone runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 21.

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Car Show Features Old Beauties

Posted Apr 19, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 19, 2007 at 11:41 AM


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Frank Tomes is always saying old cars equal happy smiles.

The Town ‘N Country resident began hosting car shows about three years ago. Every Wednesday, classic, antique, rod or muscle car enthusiasts display their hobby at the Flipper Car Show.

Tomes said he has loved cars for as long as he can remember. Both his grandfather and father worked at Ford in Ohio. And the hobby of collecting cars just grew on him.

Tomes started a club to go along with the shows called C.A.R.M, which stands for classics, antiques, rods and muscle cars. The club has about 140 members, all of whom collect these types of cars as a hobby.

Tomes said the members are a variety of different people, including women and seniors, and they come from all over.

Through the club, he began the car show. Originally held at the Chick-fil-A on Waters Avenue, it was known as the Chick-fil-A Car Show. It was not long before the show outgrew the location and they moved it to the Flippers Car Wash, 11203 Sheldon Road, about four months ago.

“It’s (the show) a way of networking and allowing others to enjoy cars and possibly start the hobby themselves,” said Tomes.

He explained there is no cost to club members for showing their cars. In fact, those who attend the event actually have a chance of winning prizes.

At every car show, donations are collected and a raffle takes place. It’s called a 50/50 drawing wherein those who purchase tickets have the possibility of winning half of the ante. The remaining half goes towards the club, which in turn is donated to different charities for orphans or abused children. Also, those who attend must register and the
names are entered into a drawing. Six people are selected to win and they can receive a prize provided by the sponsors of the car show. The prizes can be anything from a free car wash to an oil change.

The sponsors of the car show are the Sheldon Plaza, which includes the Shell, Clean Touch Dry Cleaners, Subway and Flippers Car Wash.

“The car show goes very well with what we are doing,” said Gary Kerr, co-owner of the Sheldon Plaza. “The fact that we have the car wash and deal with cars goes well.”

Tomes said the car shows also help the club members. Since they get to network, they find out about parts or someone who knows how to care for the car. He added the public can also venture to see if any cars are for sale.

“We have a good time,” said Tomes. “It’s an enjoyable evening out. Everyone visits and talks about shows and networks.”

The cars at the shows usually vary since not all members come at once. Generally, there is a good sampling of classics, antiques, rods and muscle cars, he said.

“When you look at it, it’s about looking at the workmanship,” said Jerry Levalette, a Tarpon Springs resident. “Every car is different.”

“There is something for everyone,” said Tomes.

For more information, call Tomes at 294-4774 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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57 Years of Gardening Fern Garden Club Celebrates Anniversary

Posted Apr 19, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 19, 2007 at 11:38 AM


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It has been 57 years since the women of the Fern Garden Club started meeting,  sharing and propagating plants.

The club started in 1950, after branching off from the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. While the ladies often tour different gardens, the chose to celebrate their anniversary by touring the garden of a fellow member, Alice Roberts.

The garden club has about 60 members and is based out of Odessa. One of the major fundraisers the club coordinates is the plant sale in October at the Keystone United
Methodist Church, 16301 Race Track Road. 

Jo Leonard, spokeswoman for the club, said money from the plant sale goes to supporting organizations like the USF Botanical Garden, Wildlife Rescue and Rehab, Foster
Angels and Operation Warm Heart, to name a few.

“All the plants are grown or propagated by club members, and each member donates 12 of them for the sale in October,” said Leonard.

Other than the plant sale, the members of the garden club meet the first Thursday of each month, September through June. During these meetings the women meet and discuss featured topics like types of gardens or birdhouses.

“Everyone always tries to bring plants to give away at meetings,” said Leonard.

To many of the women, the club has been a place to make friends and learn more about plants.

“All the friendships and basically all the caring and sharing,” said Pat Clason, a member since 1991, as to what keeps her in the club.

Leonard said many often think, based on the club’s name, that the club is strictly about ferns.

She explained that in reality the club is about overall gardening and nature. And the club’s name is inspired by their first meeting place on Lutz Lake Fern Road.

“We have grown over time and haven’t stood still certainly,” said Dora Kingery, a member since 1963. “All the knowledge has been so helpful.”

To help with the information sharing and learning about all the plants, Leonard said the group has a horticulture chairwoman, Kay Netscher, and they even have master gardeners.

Master gardeners go through a 13-week training program that teaches basic gardening information.

“I joined because I felt the need to learn more,” said Leonard. “You spend a fortune on plants and then they die if you don’t know about them.”

Fern Garden clubs meetings are held the first Thursday of each month, September through June, and begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Keystone Recreation Center, 17928 Gunn Highway. Club dues are $10 a year.

For more information, call Leonard at 996-1250.

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Personality, Respect, Honesty The Secret To Chef Bruno’s Success

Posted Apr 19, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 19, 2007 at 11:36 AM


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Westchase resident Santo Bruno recalls being in the kitchen in a basket since the day he was born. Although born in Sicily, when Bruno’s family came to America they opened a small Italian restaurant in Brooklyn.

“I grew up in a basket in the kitchen watching them (parents) make a living,” said Bruno.

Bruno explained he developed a passion for cooking and did lots of cooking with his older brother, who is now a master chef in Italy.

In fact, by 18, Bruno had his first pizza shop in Brooklyn. He later sold that shop and moved to Pennsylvania where he started another pizza place.

“They (pizza shops) kept getting bigger and bigger,” said Bruno.

At 24, Bruno decided to go back and get his certification. He traveled back to Sicily to earn a culinary diploma.

“I realized I needed to get diploma,” said Bruno. “It was not easy. You have to be good at everything.”

Around this time, Bruno explained he met a man who took him to Las Vegas and set him up to star in cooking shows. He added that sponsors wanted him to feature their
products that allowed him the opportunity to cook and be on television.

“It was a success and I got hooked,” said Bruno.

Through the shows, which he sometimes still does, Bruno has traveled to places such as Chicago, California and other locations. He mainly prepares southern Italian food for
the shows. However, it always varies and could be German or Northern Italian, which Bruno said has some French twists to it.

Bruno said his shows have been featured on the History Channel, Food Network, Oxygen and on Martha Stewart. He added he has even received awards based on his work, like Best Spaghetti from the Hotel Rio in Las Vegas about seven years ago.

Although he continues to appear on television, Bruno has also stayed in the restaurant industry. He’s opened restaurants in locations as widespread as South Carolina,
California, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia and Trinidad, to name a few. He has owned some of them and helped get others started.

“Personality, respect and honesty is what has made me successful,” said Bruno.

Now Bruno, 56, owns the two restaurants that are side by side, Bona Pizza and Bellisimo Ristorante, 10102 Montague Street,  located in West Park Village in Westchase.

Bona Pizza and Bellisimo Ristorante are in the transition of new ownership. Ron Salerno, who has worked with Bruno for the last five years, is the new owner.

“My goal is to make it a top notch restaurant and destination of choice,” said Salerno. “But I plan to maintain what Bruno established. Chef Bruno has a natural instinct for business and he is an entertainer.”

Now that Bruno is passing on his two businesses, he still plans on staying active.

“I am not planning on retiring,” he said. “I will continue to work and die happy, like my father did.”

He also continues to write articles for Bon Appetit Magazine, Total Food Magazine, Pizza Today Magazine and PMQ’s Pizza magazine. Bruno has been married to Susanna for 18 years and has three children Luis, 37, Tanya, 26 and James, 11.

“It has been some beautiful years of memories,” said Bruno. “I have had headaches and fun, and it’s an honor to meet great people.”

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CAUSE Members Try To Help The World

Posted Apr 11, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 11, 2007 at 12:39 PM


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Some students at Sickles High School have found a way to inform others about what is going on in the world.

An interest group called Caring Adolescents Understanding Situations Everywhere, also known as CAUSE, has been hosting activities and fundraisers since the school year started – all in hopes of spreading the word about major issues the world faces.

Right now, the group is hosting a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, where some members will be participating. CAUSE is hosting the Multi-Cultural

Experience April 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sickles High School auditorium, 7950 Gunn Highway.

Through the event members hope to not only raise money for Relay For Life, but also to inform the rest of the school and the public what their club is all about.

Amelia Singh, co-president of CAUSE, said the event will include different performances representing countries around the world and videos providing information about Relay
for Life and Invisible Children, which is a movement to help improve the life of children affected by war.

“It’s really good when students get involved,” said Singh, a junior. “We know we are making a difference.”

Some of the performances will include dances native to India, Africa and the Caribbean.

Singh and Tajhah Kittling, co-president of CAUSE, said they decided to start the club while having a conversation over the phone. The girls were discussing how teenagers are so consumed by what is going on in their own personal lives they forget what’s going on in the world.

“We are hoping students will change their views and not just focus on themselves,” said Kittling, also a junior.

Since they began the club, members have been hosting fundraisers, volunteering and even attending protests for some of the causes they have become involved in. The group currently has 60 members and meets once a month.

Some of the causes members have become involved with include raising awareness about AIDS and genocide in Darfur. They have also helped out groups locally, including Metropolitan Ministries.

“We want to show we care about other people,” said Kittling.

Amanda Jackson, vice president of CAUSE, said for the event she is working to get food vendors.

So far, she has Ballyhoo, Terra Sur Café and culinary students from the school donating food to raise additional funds for Relay for Life.

She is still hoping to get more food vendors to participate. She said the food will be priced between $1 and $5 depending on portion size. Food vendors interested in donating food, call Jackson at 963-5151.

Tickets for the Multi-Cultural Experience are on sale for $3 in advance. They are $5 at the door.

For information on purchasing tickets in advance, call Jackson or Kittling at 908-3767 and leave a message.

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Trash Available For Pickup Annual Event Set On April 21

Posted Apr 11, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 11, 2007 at 12:36 PM


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On Earth Day, volunteers across Hillsborough County can show their appreciation for the planet by picking up trash during the 14th annual Great American Cleanup.

Christine Commerce, executive director of Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful, said the cleanup started in the county as a pilot program about 15 years ago in Thonotosassa and Seffner.

“Concerned residents thought litter was a problem in their community,” said Commerce.

So they started the cleanup and after being successful, it was adopted countywide.

Since the program’s local inception, the event has been held on the third Saturday of April every year.

Commerce said the nonprofit organization always attempts to keep the date to coincide with Earth Day.

Last year, the event had about 2,000 volunteers throughout Hillsborough and about 122,128 pounds of trash was collected, said Commerce. Since the program started, about 2.5 million pounds of trash has been collected.

“This helps a lot looking at the big picture,” said Commerce. “If it wasn’t for these volunteers, we could have been buried under trash.”

This year’s cleanup, which is from 8:30 a.m. to noon, has about 21 sites open to the public and about eight sites with private parties as volunteers, which include schools and organizations.

Commerce said volunteers often find the most unusual items, including such things as money, wave runners, sinks and tires.

“I encourage people to come out,” said Commerce. “Basically it’s about picking up litter and educating about the hazards.”

She explained that litter impacts the community drastically by decreasing property values, affecting wild life and eventually even increasing crime.

Terry Raulerson, a site captain for Shimberg Park in Town ‘N Country, said there is a lot of activity at his designated site and many forget to take care of the mess afterwards.

“We have to make sure we don’t destroy the planet,” said Raulerson. “I want me and my children to live here a little longer.”

Other than picking up trash, volunteers are asked to fund raise for the organization. The Trash-A-Thon, a fundraiser to help maintain the cleanup program, is taking place for the second year. Volunteers are asked to collect pledges from the community. The group and individual who raise the most funds wins a prize.

Commerce said the pledges received will help purchase materials like bags, T-shirts and water distributed to volunteers on event dates. The design on this year’s T-shirts were the creation of an eighth-grader Ben Hill Middle School student named Jenny Loung.

The Trash-A-Thon will continue until April 21.

On Earth Day, April 22 a celebration known, as Earth Day Tampa Bay will be held for volunteers at Lowry Park, 7530 N. Boulevard, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pizza along with information about how to protect the environment will be provided at the celebration.

Instead of littering, Commerce suggests, individuals can contact the Hillsborough County Solid Waste Department and arrange trash pickups.

Holly Salmon, site captain for Ben Hill Middle School and a sixth-grade science teacher, said she is rallying the whole school to volunteer and pickup trash.

She is calling the school’s cleanup Party for Planet and teaching students the importance of taking care of the community.

“Many students are already motivated because they feel responsible in helping keep the planet clean,” said Salmon. “We hope it becomes an annual affair. It’s a wonderful
thing to impart to students and continue the tradition.”

In hopes of sending out the message that littering is not acceptable the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and other police organizations throughout the county will ticket individuals caught littering.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, penalties for littering range from $100 to felony criminal charges.

Volunteers for the Great American Cleanup should wear comfortable clothes, hats and closed-toed shoes. They can bring work gloves, sunscreen, insect repellent and water.

Gloves and water are available at the designated sites, but there can sometimes be a shortage.

Public sites in need of volunteers are:

-Hillsborough Community College, Dale Mabry Campus

-Hillsborough River at Lowry Park, 1101 W. Sligh Ave.

-Leto High School area (West Park), baseball park on Occident Street.

-Lutz Paint The Town, 105 2nd Ave. S.E.

-Nuccio Park, 4805 E. Sligh Ave.

-Perrone Park, 5010 Kelly Road, Town ‘N Country

-Shimberg Park, 7001 Armand Drive, Town ‘N Country

For information, call Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful at 960-5121 or visit Volunteers can just show up on the morning of the event to pitch in.

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Westchase Mechanic Seeks Challenge

Posted Apr 11, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 11, 2007 at 12:32 PM


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Working on Ferraris and Lamborghinis has been a part of Massimo Mondino’s life since he was 14.

As a teenager living in Boves, a small town in Italy, Mondino was recruited by his rally racing brother to be his mechanic. The trade stuck.

Now the Westchase resident owns his own business, The Auto Legend, Inc., 400 E. Douglas Road, Suite D, dedicated to maintaining and repairing the same Italian cars he learned about at a young age.

“Working on the everyday car is so boring,” said Mondino, 45. “This is more challenging and fun.”

Once his brother got him involved at 14, Mondino began an apprenticeship in Torrino, Italy, where he went to school and earned hands-on experience. By 18, he was working as a mechanic. Before he turned 20, he owned his first business, Dutto e Mondino.

When Mondino arrived in Los Angeles in 1987, he began working for a business. He moved around some before moving to Colorado where he opened up his own shop once again. Mondino Imports was his passion for about nine years.

He sold the business when he received a job offer he couldn’t refuse in Massachusetts. That position lasted only a year, he said, because of his dislike for the cold.

After that, he and his wife of 15 years, Leah, and two children Michelangelo, 14, and Gabriel, 11, have since made their home in Florida. They’ve been here for two years.

Mondino began The Auto Legend in Oldsmar about a year ago and has continued his trend of working with Italian cars.

“This location has worked out great,” said Mondino.

There are about 900 registered Ferraris in Florida, said Mondino. To keep himself busy, he sends out direct mailing and also acquires many of his customers through word-of-mouth advertising.

For Albert Andrion, a physician and Largo resident, having brought his car to Mondino made a difference.

He said his Ferrari was not working right and that he was going to get rid of it. Then he found out about The Auto Legend.

“I brought it to Massimo and he fixed it in 10 minutes,” said Andrion.

“These cars are like clothing, they are very personal,” Mondino said.

To keep himself up to date with the information on cars, Mondino said he reads lots of books and meets with other mechanics.

“Watching him, he has my absolute admiration,” said Leah. “He has the determination and persistence to diagnose and repair the problem. I’ve seen him design and create
his own tools to fix specific problems.”

He works on old and new models of these cars, and he occasionally works on other cars like Alfa Romeos, Mercedes and BMWs. However, his specialty is Italian cars.

“It’s a learning process that never stops,” said Mondino. “With every car, there is something new to learn.”

For more information, call Mondino at 814-4200.

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Rescued Horse Recovering

Posted Apr 4, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 4, 2007 at 11:09 AM


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Despite a serious case of swayback, parasites and worms that have turned his color from black to brown, Murphy still manages to be a happy horse.

He heightens his ears and waggles his tail at the sight of youngsters from the Florida Morgan Horse Association’s Tropical Trotters Youth Club , who approach him to feed him oranges. And although Murphy is in much better condition then he was when he arrived at his new home a month ago, he still has a long way to go.

Anne Winograd, co-owner of West Coast Morgans in Odessa, rescued Murphy from a pasture in Kentucky.

She said that the goal is to get Murphy back to good health, which could take about a year, and get him adopted to a good owner who will care for him.

Winograd said that once she saw the horse, she felt compelled to help him. She   had him hauled to West Coast Morgan, a horse stable which provides training for horses along with riders of all ages.

“There are so many cases like this,” said Winograd. “The tragedy is that instead of finding him a home, they throw them away.”

When Murphy arrived, he didn’t exactly have a place to stay. But Winograd’s neighbor stepped in and allowed her to keep Murphy in an empty stall and pasture she had available.

Since then, Murphy has made many visits to the veterinarian and has become more friendly.

He has even been eating more, said Winograd. 

So far Murphy, a saddlebred, has gained about 40 pounds. Based on Murphy’s serious case of lordosis (swayback), which has caused his back to cave in, no one will ever be able to ride him. He has also had his teeth cleaned and repaired.

Another condition Winograd is concerned about is that Murphy’s tear ducts have become calcified from being clogged for so long.

Winograd said she has spent about $700 on vaccinations and deworming, as well as on repairing Murphy’s teeth. Murphy’s mane, infested with fly eggs and parasites, was also clipped.

However, Murphy needs continued care to ensure he returns to good health, she said.

Winograd isn’t alone in her mission, though. Tropical Trotters have helped cover some of the expenses, as well. Tropical Trotters is a youth club that involves youngsters from all over Central Florida. Members meet periodically to learn about horses and attend shows. The youth group has been collecting money to help West Coast pay for the horse’s medical and living expenses.

“I needed an army to help and Tropical Trotters was there,” said Winograd.

Winograd explained that she approached the youth group and its leader, Tracy Bell, at a horse show and they quickly jumped on board to help.

The youngsters not only receive badges for their horse knowledge and experience, but also commit to community service.

“It has been one of the biggest projects we have taken on,” said Bell, who admits to having been weary about taking on a rescue project in the past.

Since they found out about the horse, the youngsters have rotated the duties of spending time with Murphy, grooming and feeding him.

The group of about 30 has raised nearly $900 from collections at various horse shows and by selling wristbands donated to the group by a member’s aunt, who rescues horses in New Jersey.

Included with the project, the youngsters have also helped Murphy become accustomed to being around people again.

“It took a long time for the horse to get this way,” said Spencer Conklin, 15, a Clearwater resident. “He deserves human attention. It’s great we can be involved.”

Murphy is estimated to be about 17 or 18 years old, according to Winograd.

All of Murphy’s past wasn’t grim.

While stumping for donations for the horse at a recent show, Bell said she found someone who recognized Murphy. He was a champion, whose show name was All Natural.

According to Bell, the trainer said Murphy won many competitions.

The revelation explains Murphy’s excellent posture and stance despite his present condition, Bell said.

“It’s amazing that a show horse can get this bad,” said Amanda Stacy, 12, of Town ‘N Country.

Members of the youth group are also planning on collecting funds outside of supermarkets and fundraising at their schools, which is not something they have attempted yet.

Since they found out about the horse, they have been trying to spread the word in hopes of receiving as much help from the community as possible.

“Everyone has come together to help,” said Diane Stacy, Amanda’s mother. “Even people from out of state.”

To completely cover the remainder of the expenses, Winograd said about $2,000 is needed. The horse needs about a year before his health is restored.

It is a slow process because his condition is so bad, she said.

Once Murphy is healthy, Winograd hopes to begin an interview process for possible owners.

She said she wants to find someone who will care for his condition.

She emphasized that although he can no longer be ridden, he will be an excellent petting horse that will cheer anyone up with his spunky attitude.

“We are really looking to get a happy ending,” said Bell. “He deserves so much more than what he has received.”

To donate money toward Murphy’s fund, call Anne or Glenn Winograd at 920-9870 or visit

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Lutz Resident’s Love For Music Inspires Her To Share

Posted Apr 4, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 4, 2007 at 11:06 AM


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Music has been a part of Rosi Stagi’s life for as long as she can remember.

Whether it was singing in choruses as a child and later as an adult, or teaching music at an elementary school, her passion has evolved throughout her life.

Now, she wants to share her love for music with more children, through the Kindermusik program. The program provides a variety of classes for children from infants up to 7 years of age. All the classes incorporate music to help in a child’s developmental process. Some
classes include sign language or other activities.

“Music is so important,” said Stagi. “The earlier you expose them, the earlier it helps with brain development.”

Stagi was born in Baltimore, but has lived most of her life in Town ‘N Country, attending local schools like Webb Middle School and graduating from Leto High School.

Stagi said she sang in chorus almost starting from kindergarten until the day she graduated.

“I love to sing with a group of people,” she added. “I love to get feedback from people and hear how music has moved people.”

Now Stagi continues to sing with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Richard Zielinski Singers and the Messiah Lutheran Church chorus.

Stagi, a Lutz resident, decided to get certified through the Kindermusik program back in the summer of 2005. Since then she began offering the program to students after school at Tampa Day School, where she teaches music and is a reading clinician for kindergarten and first grade. She has been teaching for the last 10 years and has a degree in elementary education from the University of South Florida.

Stagi recently offered different classes like the village class, which teaches rhythm and routine, at the Carrollwood Jazzercise Center, 4125 A Gunn Highway.

Starting in April she hopes to teach another village class and a sign and sing class, which involves sign language. By summer, she
anticipates having camps to offer additional classes.

“She is really good with kids,” said Marialba Baez, owner of Move ‘N Groove City. “Her classes are very interactive and dynamic.”

For information on registering for a Kindermusik class, call Stagi at 908-7730 or visit

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2nd Annual Egg Hunt Offers 13,000 Eggs

Posted Apr 4, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 4, 2007 at 11:03 AM


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Children from Northwest Hillsborough will have about 13,000 eggs to find at this year’s MorningStar Church Easter Egg Hunt April 7 at 9:45 a.m.

The egg hunt is set to take place at Sickles High School, 7950 Gunn Highway, where the church holds its Sunday service.

“We had heard of it at other churches and decided to try it, and it was well responded to,” said Mona Coats, associate pastor of the church and coordinator of the event.

About 250 people attended last year’s event and about 10,000 plastic eggs filled with goodies were hidden along the school grounds for children to find.

Coats said this year the church has 3,000 more eggs that were donated from Bridgeway Church in New Tampa. She added they order their eggs for the main activity from Ayers Distributing in Georgia. The company employs individuals with disabilities.

Like last year, the Easter Bunny will be present for photographs. Children will also be able to partake in activities and enjoy the bouncy slides and moonwalks.

“We had a great time,” said church member Heather Byrd, who volunteered at last year’s event. “It’s a really fun event and lots of people attended.”

MorningStar, a nondenominational church, has been in the Citrus Park area for about seven years.

The church started with a group of four members and now has a group of about 150 that meets at the school, said Coats.

Other than the Easter egg hunt, Coats said the church is also known for its summer block party and its delivery of Thanksgiving baskets.

Although the church has no permanent home yet, Coats said members have been raising money slowly.

“We don’t want to get in lots of debt,” said Coats. “So we are waiting to raise the money.”

Coats said the event, which also includes food and live entertainment, is entirely free to the public.

“The egg hunt is to tell Citrus Park that we care and offer them a free event,” said Coats.

Registration for the event will start at 9:45 a.m. it will be followed with activities at 10 and the actual egg hunt is at 11:30.

For information on event or church, call 948-0440 or visit

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Westchase Artist Society Hosts First Art Show

Posted Apr 4, 2007 by Jessica Balanza

Updated Apr 4, 2007 at 11:01 AM


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When Westchase neighbors Leah Mondino and Vanessa Montenegro met due to a broken air conditioner little did they know their friendship would lead to the inception of the Westchase Artist Society.

Six months later, the group has about 13 members from across Northwest Hillsborough and recently held its first art show, “Cars and Art,” March 24.

“It’s wonderful how the idea has managed to motivate so many in our area,” said Mondino.

As society members showed off their works of art at The Auto Legend in Oldsmar, the shop’s owner, Mondino’s husband, Massimo, displayed Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

“I think it’s a great combination,” said society member Michael Gaudet. “The two really go together. Cars have been featured in art since they were invented.”

The event held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 400 Douglas Road E., Suite D, location featured about 15 different upscale cars and 30 works of art. The art included paintings, mosaics, photography and more.

The group decided in December to have the show.

Although members had little turnaround time, many created works of art to go along with the theme of the show, Montenegro said. For example, some incorporated cars into their photos and mosaics were crafted with the Ferrari emblem.

“I normally take pictures that are dramatic and beautiful,” said Jennifer Jones, who included cars in her photos. “I wanted to do something that would resonate with people attending the show.”

Leah Mondino and Montenegro explained the concept for the show was devised with Massimo’s help. The cars, he said, are works of art, as well.

It’s not a car show, it’s more of customer appreciation since cars are also someone’s art, he said.

In fact, all the cars at the event were cars Massimo has repaired at some point.

With its first show complete, the group is hoping to create a trend, and host similar shows about four times a year. For some of the group members this was their first show and their first time actually selling one of their art works.

Leah said thanks to the show four items were sold.

“For me, it’s my first show and it has been a great opportunity to get started and show my work,” said Jeremy Ramos. “The cars are a great expression of art within itself and this is good exposure for the artist.”

Other than shows, the group hosts monthly meetings where members can exchange ideas. Meetings take place the second Thursday of every month at the Upper Tampa Bay Library, 11211 Countryway Blvd., from 7 to 9 p.m. The April 12 meeting features information on photography and will be hosted by Jennifer Jones.

For information, visit

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A Near-Miss Epiphany

Posted Mar 30, 2007 by Sherri Lonon

Updated Mar 30, 2007 at 01:22 PM

Blinking at the semi-truck barreling full speed down the road in my lane, charging for a head-on collision with my car, I realized my boss might in fact have been on to something.

Not too long ago, he suggested we start a traffic column for the Carrollwood News, Northwest News and Town ‘N Country News. The column would be dedicated to discussing roadway issues in the northwest part of Hillsborough County. In the perfect world, I’d write a little about my experiences on the roads while residents and their concerns would take center stage, filling out the bulk of the regular feature.

After catching my breath and checking to make sure my 22-month-old wasn’t plastered to the ceiling after I swerved to avoid the semi and had to slam on my brakes to miss hitting a tree, I resolved to follow through on this suggestion.

So, here it is.

Through On The Road, I will report on traffic issues, road closings and upcoming meetings that might be of importance to my readers.

Although I’ll be the one behind the wheel, so to say, this column belongs to all the residents in my readership. To make this truly so, I welcome your letters and e-mails about issues of concern to you. If there’s a pothole driving you crazy, you want to know why a light hasn’t been installed at an intersection, or even if you want to congratulate officials on a job well done, I want to hear about it. You can call me at 865-1515, e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or send letters to 5625 W. Waters Ave., Suite G, Tampa, FL 33634.

I will do my best to get to every letter, e-mail and call, and I’ll even try to hunt down some answers for you.

Since my car seems to have an intermittent Klingon cloaking device that renders it invisible to other vehicles on the road, despite its large size and daytime running lights, you’ll likely hear about some of my near-misses from time to time, as well.

Now, here are two upcoming public meetings residents in the area might want to mark on their calendars:

* A public meeting to discuss traffic calming on Northdale Boulevard from East Course Drive to Woodside Manor Drive has been set for March 29 at Northdale Recreation Center, 15550 Spring Pine Drive. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. A recommendation to the county commission will be based on the meeting.

* A public meeting about traffic calming on Countryway Boulevard from Race Track Road to West Waters Avenue is set for April 3 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting takes place at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library, 1121 Countryway Blvd.

According to Buz Barbour, manager of the traffic program section with public works, the Countryway traffic calming issue is a little more involved than the Northdale issue. Since Countryway is a major through road, traffic calming there is being addressed through the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program. This means two public hearings are required. The April 3 meeting will be followed up by a balloting process. Ballots will be mailed out to effected homeowners, and if 60 percent approve additional traffic calming along Countryway, the issue will go before the county commission.

Some traffic calming on Countryway has already been completed, Barbour said.

“We did half of it under an emergency situation,” he said, adding the new measures will simply complete the project and bring continuity to the roadway.

If residents agree that more traffic calming on Countryway is needed, some things that might be included in a final plan are such measures as additional speed humps, more high-visibility cross walks and so on, Barbour said.

“We have a lot of residents out there, a lot of bike riders and pedestrians,” he said. “We have to do something out there.”

Although the speed limit is posted at 30 mph, that isn’t what most drivers recognize, he added.

Meanwhile, the Northdale Boulevard meeting is being handled under the Residential Traffic Calming Program, which means it’s a little less involved. Residents will still have the chance to have their opinions heard and a balloting process will still be necessary, but only one public hearing is involved.

Having residents turn out to express their opinions and learn more about proposals is important to Barbour.

“It’s the only way we know what they want,” he said.

Generally, residents do turn out.

“The people that live in that neighborhood, they show up and voice their opinions and we hear it.”

For more information about either public meeting, contact Steve Valdez at 272-5275.

Sherri Lonon is the editor of the Carrollwood News, the Town ‘N Country News and the Northwest News. You can reach her by e-mailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or calling 865-1515.

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