According to the Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey which took a look at what makes U.S. cities drivable, 47% of Tampa drivers think the area is “very drivable” but 32% agree timing traffic signals better would make the Tampa area even more drivable. Is there a poorly timed traffic signal in your area? I’m looking for your insight (and be specific) for a future story… thanks! Alicia
This Father’s Day, as we all reflect back on our Dads, Granddads, Pop Pops, and other fatherly figures, I wanted to reflect back on my own. It’s a letter to my Dad in heaven. My world forever changed when my he died six years ago. Today, time has given me true perspective to see how blessed I was to have him in my life. I encourage you to take this Father’s Day weekend to celebrate those who have graced your lives and not miss a chance to say, “Thanks.” Feel free to leave your thoughts, memories, and stories here as well.
Since you suddenly passed away that awful Friday night in 2004, not a day goes by when I don’t think of you. I miss your “Hi Buttercup” greetings, the way you drowned your coffee in cream and sugar, and seeing your wallet and keys on the ledge in the kitchen. I miss your metal workbox, the sound of your truck pulling in the driveway, and watching a ball game in the living room on a Sunday afternoon. I miss our talks on the way home from a track meet at Westchester, Christmas mornings videoing each and every present, our Mayfair diner nights with Carolyn, and walking along the beach in Wildwood with Lauren and Katelyn.
Life events have come and gone when I longed for your advice, a smile to say “way to go,” and a shoulder to cry. I’m sad for all the times we’ve missed out on together and all the things I wanted you to experience with me. I’ve grown up a lot Dad. I made my way to morning TV, just like you said I should. I have hosted baseball games, traveled the country, and met people who have changed my life. I’ve tried to give back in ways you showed me, like all the time you spent volunteering at St. Chris and with Lower South softball. I try to take lots of pictures Dad too, just the way you would have wanted it. I’ve made mistakes since you left and probably life decisions which would have turned out differently had you been here. But so many times I have felt your presence. You are a part of me Dad. And I pray you are proud of the woman I have become.
There’s so many things I wish I could have said to you. So many times I wish I could have gone back and thanked you and hugged you and just said, “Dad, you’re doing a good job.” But in my youth, arrogance, and hurried life, I so often overlooked the tremendous blessing of you in my day.
So wherever you are, I hope you know how much you are forever in my heart. Thank you for showing me how to live with integrity, passion, and love. Here’s to long summer nights, a day trip at the shore, and a Phillies game with fireworks. Love you Daddy.
By ALICIA ROBERTS | News Channel 8
The Tampa Tribune
Published: June 7, 2010
TAMPA - Knocking over tables, stealing a loaf of bread off of a kitchen counter and digging giant holes may sound like a scene from the new movie “Marmaduke,” but it’s a typical day for Traci Rinoldi, who cares for three Great Danes.
Monte, a 9-year-old, 175-pound Brindle Dane, naps on the length of the couch while 5-year-old Emma and 2-year-old Sophie sit on the floor at Rinoldi’s feet or try to crawl on everyone’s laps.
Rinoldi, 43, is a member of the Southwest Great Dane Rescue Inc., which has placed more than 500 Great Danes into homes since it was founded in 1998. She loves the gentle giants but worries families who love “Marmaduke” will rush out to adopt a Great Dane without knowing the commitment it takes to raise and care for this breed.
“It’s not just for the right fit today, but the right fit for the life of the dog,” says Rinoldi, who owns two dogs and is fostering a third.
She took in Sophie when a previous family had to give her up because of the time, money and lifestyle needed to care for the animal.
Many people don’t realize Great Danes can have health issues. White Danes, in particular, can be deaf or have vision problems, Rinoldi said. She uses sign language to communicate with her white Dane, Emma, who is deaf and blind in one eye.
Rinoldi urges anyone considering adopting a Great Dane to do research.
She offers this advice:
• Great Danes are very social and love to be close to their owners, so it’s hard for them to be alone for long periods of time.
• Because of their size, Great Danes can be a little awkward when they move and can knock over things, something families with small children should consider.
• The breed’s average life span is 8 to 12 years.
• The dogs can have health issues, including a serious stomach condition called Bloat.
• Medical bills and food costs are higher for larger dogs.
• Great Danes generally are friendly dogs and highly trainable.
I-4 drivers watch for overnight traffic pacing tonight on I-4 east east of Fritzke Rd. from 50th Street to Park Rd (both east and westbound). TECO crews will be out removing an aerial transmission line from 12am until 5am.
Rachael Todd, the reigning Miss Florida, will be hosting the 1st ever “Miss Florida’s Birthday Bash” to benefit Hunger and Homelessness Prevention. The event will be held at the Westgate Villas Town Center on June 24th, 2010. Miss Todd attributes her passion for hunger and homelessness prevention to her work with her mother’s non-profit organization The HOPE Foundation, recognized in 2009 as Seminole County Regional Chamber Non-Profit of the Year. She also works with respected non-profit charities locally and across the nation, including the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the National Coalition for the Homeless. All proceeds from the event will be distributed to the 8 Feeding America Food Banks in the State of Florida as well as The HOPE Foundation. Hands On Nashville, a group that assists with flood relief efforts, will also receive a portion of the funds. Miss Todd plans to continue her education in Nashville, upon completion of her reign.
The event is a unique opportunity to meet Miss Florida 2009 Rachael Todd as well as the 2010 Miss Florida contestants vying for the title in St. Petersburg on July 10th. Entertainment will feature Ed Roland, lead singer/songwriter of iconic rock band Collective Soul; NSAI Songwriter of the Year, Wynn Varble; hitmaker Brandon Kinney and Nashville performing artist Chris Cavanaugh. Mingle with celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment, and distinguished members of the Miss Florida Board of Directors. The event will include a silent auction featuring artwork, vacation packages, concert tickets and more. Take part in a cocktail reception featuring hors d’ouvres from Central Florida restaurants, cash bar and a beer sampling provided by the Orlando Brewing Company.
Tickets are available online at http://www.MissFloridaGivesBack.org for $45.00 each ($50 at the door) or $80.00 per couple ($90 at the door), food included in admission, cash bar. Attire is resort casual and sponsorship packages are available.
WHAT: “Miss Florida’s Birthday Bash” Benefitting Hunger and Homelessness Prevention
WHERE/WHEN:Westgate Villas Town Center, 2770 Old Lake Wilson Road, Kissimmee, FL; Thursday, June 24th (6:30 pm cocktail reception, doors open at 7:00 pm)
For more information, check out http://www.MissFloridaGivesBack.org
By ALICIA ROBERTS | News Channel 8
Published: June 2, 2010
TAMPA - Artist Jason Hulfish paints murals as big as the imaginations of the children who sleep among the fire-breathing dragons, open-sea pirates and beautiful princesses he brings to life in their bedrooms.
Although Hulfish admits he was one of those kids who sketched designs in his notebook at school while he was supposed to be taking notes, his initial artscapes were a bit smaller in scale.
“I started doing T-shirt designs,” he admits. “My friends liked them and said, ‘Hey, can you put this on my wall?’ One thing led to another.”
Bringing form and function to fantasy takes work. Hulfish designs each room with one-of-a-kind murals, painting each from floor to ceiling. He also incorporates custom furniture such as a pirate or princess-carriage bed that he creates and builds.
The 39-year-old artist grew up in St. Petersburg and lives in Tampa. He went to college as a pre-med chemistry major, decided it wasn’t for him, and joined the corporate world for a while. He started painting murals at friends’ homes and turned his passion into a full-time job in 2005.
“It’s very hard work, with ladders, scaffolding,” Hulfish says. “Most of these jobs are construction sites. It’s 100-plus degrees in there, and there are people jackhammering tile. People think it’s very glamorous, but it’s not.”
He paints seascapes, pirate scenes, fairytale kingdoms and medieval-inspired playrooms. Typically, he charges about $1,000 to $1,500 for a wall; whole rooms, including ceilings, start at about $5,000. It takes him about two weeks to complete a room.
He’s also painted common areas at the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High in Tampa, the Ronald McDonald House at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and Square One Burgers in Tampa. Hulfish paints by hand, using airbrushing and hand-drawn images, then shading and contouring to bring the pictures to life.
You won’t see Hulfish’s work at his home. Like many artists, he is his biggest critic.
“I would never be able to enjoy it,” he says, laughing. “My mind would keep thinking of ways I could have made it better.”
Most of Hulfish’s clients hear of him through word-of-mouth. Right now, he’s working on a project that will take him through August.
Hello my fellow Philly transplants… Roy Halladay’s perfect game on Saturday night is just the 20th on record in baseball. Today, the Marlins will be selling unused tickets to fans who want to own a piece of history. Do you know someone who has/will be buying this souvenir? Alicia
FDOT has announced Florida has received $66.6 million in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a brand new high speed rail system between Orlando and Tampa. This grant is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) aimed at developing high speed rail in five states including Florida.
“Florida received the largest share of grant funds because our federal partners realize we are ready to go now with our high speed rail project,” said Governor Crist. “Florida’s high speed rail will create efficient transportation options, boost our economy and put Floridians back to work.”
Florida’s grant covers the next six months of work and will include completing 30 percent of the design for the Orlando-Tampa segment.
For more information, please visit http://www.floridahighspeedrail.org.
National Missing Children’s Day is today… and the The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) wants to remind parents to talk to their children about how to stay safe. Click on the link below for 25 child safety tips.
The Selmon Expressway interchange ramps at 39th Street will close permanently. This includes all three eastbound and westbound ramps. Crews will begin closing the ramps around 8 p.m. Thursday (May 13) night. Drivers can use the full interchanges at 22nd Street (Exit 9) or 50th Street (Exit 11).
This fall, the Selmon Expressway will shift all of its toll plazas to Sunpass… meaning no more fumbling for change or toll booth collectors. Officials say the change will improve efficiency and safety for its drivers. But what if you don’t have a Sunpass? No need to worry… You’ll be billed later. The Expressway Authority will take a picture of your license plate and send you an invoice in the mail. To learn more, visit the link below for the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority’s website.
A new website and fashionista has quickly taken the world of fashion by storm with a skilled blend of purchase power, personal style and passion. Chic Giraffe offers unique and classic fashion and personal image consulting for the “cost conscious.”
If you have ever looked into your closet and thought “I have nothing to wear!” – I feel your pain. Working as morning television anchor, wardrobe is a huge part of my on-air presentation. Keeping my look fresh and different was challenging for me until I met my personal fashion authority, Oksana Levin, better known as Chic Giraffe.
Being a national spokesperson and community host, I thought I knew what I was doing but I honestly never have felt as in touch with my sense of personal style as I do today. One meeting allowed me to transform my closet, using pieces I already had. I now go shopping with a strategy in mind knowing what works for my body, when to save and splurge, and how to morph a trend into a wearable TV and everyday piece.
Having this confidence in my personal image has changed my life… and my career path. I now receive dozens of emails each week regarding my style and my overall outside presentation gave me a chance to nab a key anchor role in a competitive market.
I wanted to share my story to inspire other women, wanting to look amazing while still budget sensitive. This is your chance to get chic. And while fashion can’t solve world hunger or cure cancer(although Chic Giraffe does give 10% of all of its proceeds to the American Cancer Society), it’s funny how when you feel better on the outside, you start to make changes on the inside too.
And that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.
Okay, thanks to the folks at Esurance for these carpool etiquette tips… now if we could only mandate these same principles on the beach (hello mister, yes I am talking to you, no really I don’t want to hear your radio a block away from your blanket!)
Buff up on current events
Catch the news or listen to AM radio before you leave. Your awareness of what’s new will come in handy during that long tunnel ride when the radio cuts out.
Discuss costs upfront
Generosity is king of the carpool lane. Make sure there’s no miscommunication regarding gas money, toll money, etc. When carpools are mutually beneficial and driving duties are split down the middle, there’s typically no need for money to exchange hands. But it never hurts to ask.
Get to know your fellow carpoolers
Ideally, carpooling is a way to meet new people and find out what you have in common with the guy in the next cubicle. It’s not always easy to be alert and friendly on a long drive, but when all else fails you can always crank up the tunes and hope you have similar tastes. Our friendly rideshare experts at Zimride call this phenomenon “to Gaga or not to Gaga.”
Cut back on cologne or perfume consumption
A little splash goes a long way. Consider your fellow riders’ proximity, and closely monitor how many windows are open. If it’s way too cold/hot for that many open windows, it may be time to recalibrate your scent’s potency.
Be on time, all the time
This one’s a no-brainer. You’ll be a welcome addition to any carpool when the driver knows you’ll be ready to go, like clockwork.
This weekend, I was honored to judge the 2010 Miss Florida Outstanding Teen Pageant in Dade City. It’s an affiliate of the Miss America Program and awards scholarships to teens throughout our state. Thirty-four beautiful, smart and intelligent young women competed but there could only be one winner and she is Orlando’s Outstanding Teen, MaryKatherine Fechtel. MaryKatherine will now represent Florida at the national pageant this summer.
Having competed in the Miss America program, what a humbling experience it was to serve as a judge. I was so impressed by all of these teens and feel confident their futures are very bright. I wish MaryKatherine and all the competitors the very best!
Video: Meet Myrrhanda Jones, Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen 2009, who is making a difference in the lives of sick children with her platform Hugs for Hurts.
On Thursday, I had the honor of speaking at Hillsborough County’s Turnaround Breakfast. It’s an award ceremony honoring middle school students who have made a positive change in their lives, despite very difficult circumstances.
Hearing how these students were able to change was absolutely inspirational. But what hit me most was that it was a CHOICE. Each decided they didn’t want to be a statistic, problem, or disappointment. It wasn’t easy and many still have a ways to go, but the point is that with each step they are closer to reaching their full potential.
In a day and age where sometimes we are all so quick to point a finger when something goes wrong, perhaps we need to follow these kids and look within.