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Monday, November 11 2019

      

By: Melody K. Morales, Contributing Writer.

Haines City - Today (November 11), the City of Haines City celebrated Veterans Day. During the event, the City recognized one special person. Meet the Haines City Veteran of the Year, our Founder and Editor-in-Chief Marielys Camacho-Reyes (M.C. Reyes)

   Being a member of the U.S. Military involves a strong commitment to our country, its wellbeing and the responsibility to fight for our collective freedom. As a veteran, it also involves understanding that this commitment does not end once your service to your country has ended; it carries out into your community and everyday life.

   SSG Marielys Camacho-Reyes’ military journey began in June of 1995 when she joined the 407 Medical Battalion unit in her hometown of Puerto Rico. Pursuant, she attended basic training in South Carolina and later moved on to AIT as a combat medic in San Antonio, Texas. Several years later, she was assigned to Special Operations Command South (SOCSouth) where she accomplished her duties as a human resources specialist in Homestead, FL. SSG. Camacho-Reyes served a total of 13 years in the U.S Army and fulfilled her commitment to her country in March of 2011. Although a veteran herself, she also proudly served her country as a military spouse alongside her husband, CW3 Alex Morales-Hernandez and her three children.  

   SSG Camacho-Reyes proudly represented the core values of the U.S. Army throughout her entire career. However, she firmly understood and believed that this commitment and responsibility did not end there. She was committed to making a difference in her community and wanted to continue upholding these values throughout her daily life. Upon returning to the United States following the completion of her husband’s service, Marielys and her husband settled down in Haines City, FL. She consistently searched for ways in which she could represent and assist Veterans in her community, as a means of carrying forward her promise to serve. Marielys was able to do this by joining a program called Vet Voices, which aimed at bringing awareness to the issues Veterans in our community face every day. She bridged the divide between service members and society by providing insight into the topics that are not always easy to talk about, but which are exponentially growing for our Veterans. Amongst these topics were the growing discussions on PTSD, depression, and suicide, which has accounted for hundreds of service-member lives’ in the U.S. The program proved to be a success, and Marielys promoted its existence through interviews with numerous media outlets, in hopes that other veterans seeking assistance or needing an outlet would come forward.  

   Yearning to leave an even greater impact on her community, Marielys began working on a project that would transform Polk County and the engagement of its residents. After months of hard work and dedicated efforts, The Northeast Polk Gazette was born and became the first non-profit news organization in the Polk County area. The Northeast Polk Gazette is a monthly editorial newspaper, of which every edition features a prominent thematic concern in our society. Some of the topics that these editions have covered, or will in the future, include Suicide Prevention Month, Breast Cancer Awareness, Hunger Awareness and Black History Month, amongst many others. Marielys’ goal with the creation of this organization was to: 1. Deliver insight on prominent community news and events that do not usually make the editions of larger news organizations, 2. Provide employment opportunities, as well as, a creative outlet for veterans interested in journalism or creative writing, 3. Bring awareness and raise donations for important causes in the Polk County area (Eg. K-9 for Warriors, Breast Cancer Awareness, Meals on Wheels). Additionally, the organization focuses on promoting and furthering education for high school students who are interested in The Northeast Polk Gazette’s mission, by providing internship/experience-bearing journalism positions. Since its creation, the community has been increasingly receptive to this organization, with many residents and businesses expressing their support.  

   In summary, SSG Camacho-Reyes made an oath to serve her country, during and after her career in the military. She firmly holds and believes in loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage, which are the values of the U.S Army. Her willingness to selflessly serve her community and those around her is a duty that she proudly carries throughout her everyday life. Marielys believes that no act of service or kindness is too little or too insignificant. She hopes to inspire others around her to adopt a similar sense of responsibility, in order to create a chain reaction that results in making the world a better place for us and the generations to come.  

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 03:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief.

Davenport - After his brother got a call to go to Afghanistan, Joel Rodriguez, one of the owners of Ovation Bistro & Bar Restaurant was already out of the military. After giving it some thought, he decided that he wasn't going to let his younger brother go to war alone, so he signed back on with the National Guard that way they could deploy together. Talk about brotherly love and dedication to your country, right?

   Last month, we had the honor of interviewing Joel and the story that he shared with us was, undeniably, amazing.

   Coming from an immigrant family, the Rodriguez' brothers didn't have much. Due to their parents' jobs in the fields, the season would determine where they would be. In one of those moves, they ended up in Haines City where the Rodriguez' brothers were finally born.

   "In the Florida orange groves during the rest of the year, we never complained and, in fact, are still very proud of the work that our parents did to provide for us. We have black and white pictures of them working in the fields in every one of our restaurants to remind us what hard work looks like and to remind us that, in the United States, anything is possible," shared the Rodriguez' brothers on the about page of their restaurant's website.

   A couple of years after returning from their deployment to Afghanistan, the Rogriguez' brothers decided that the skills they had learned while working for a big restaurant could be used to their advantage. That's when they decided to open their own restaurant, which they called Ovation Bistro & Bar. They opened their first restaurant in Davenport and after the immense support they received from the community, they decided to open two more restaurants... one in Lakeland and one in Winter Haven.

   "After returning back home in 2006, we both went back to work as cooks and then managers at a big Australian themed steakhouse. This is where we learned our way and the ins and outs of the restaurant business, eventually running our own locations. Managing a restaurant is hard work and long hours, but also fun," said Joel.

   "Having a passion for BBQ and steaks and enjoying nice wines and whiskeys... we asked ourselves, 'why can’t we go somewhere to get real good BBQ and have a nice glass of wine or a stiff drink?' So we decided one day, while we were smoking some brisket at home, that we were going to open our own restaurant, one that was BBQ based but felt like a steakhouse and not like a quick-service restaurant. Our new restaurant would not only have great BBQ, but a comfortable atmosphere, a sizeable wine list, full bar, specialty coffees, and desserts, we told ourselves. This was in late 2014, and that's how the Ovation Bistro & Bar was born," shared the Rodriguez' brothers on the about page of their restaurant's website.

   The Rodriguez' brothers' story is a great one, but what makes their story an even better one is what they are doing to help the community that opened their arms to them when they needed it the most. As part of the commitment to their community, they started The Ovation Bistro Foundation, a non-profit organization, whose sole mission is to help Polk County residents by donating meals to the Feeding America Tampa Bay Organization and also by supporting hundreds of charities. They have even given out scholarships to local deserving students. So far, the foundation has donated over 30,000 meals.

   Today, as we gather to bring awareness to the hunger and homelessness cause, we want to congratulate Joel and Fernando Rodriguez for the job they are doing to improve the quality of life for those around them. This, in our opinion, is what makes America great.

   We invite you to stop by their restaurant and say hi to them. According to them, they are in the restaurants on the days that end in “y,” so chances are, if you go and say hi, they will be there.

   One last thing... when we asked Joel what his favorite dish at the restaurant was, he said without hesitating, that his favorite dish was the smoked prime ribs. And, let me tell you... if they taste as good as they look in the photo that Joel showed me from their menu, I might have to go and try them myself.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

Winter Haven - Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird is seeking residents of Winter Haven, who are over the age of 18, to participate in the Winter Haven Police Leadership Council. The dates for the council will be held every other Tuesday beginning in January until the end of April 2020.

   The Council will consist of approximately 20 members who will serve voluntarily and meet every other Tuesday from 6 – 9 p.m. with Chief Bird and agency members from both Police and Fire for a total of eight meetings. The Council will begin on January 21, 2020. Participants will be asked to complete assignments and provide feedback on Department operations.

   Those interested in serving on the Police Leadership Council can request an application by calling 863-291-5858, ext. 2351. Applications can also be obtained by going to the Department website at www.WinterHavenPD.com and clicking the Community Services link on the homepage, or by sending an email to jbrown@mywinterhaven.com.

   Applications must be submitted no later than December 1, 2019 to be considered for the upcoming council that will begin on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

   Citizens awarded the opportunity to serve will be notified no later than December 15 in order to make plans for the meeting dates. A listing of meeting dates will be sent along with the application.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:29 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

Lakeland - On Monday, October 7, 2019, the Lakeland Fire Department recognized two teens at the City of Lakeland, FL - Government Commission Meeting for taking life-saving actions to help a near-drowning patient.

   This is what happened:

   "On Sunday, September 8, 2019, at 5:46 p.m. the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) was dispatched to a near-drowning incident at Carlton Arms Apartments of North Lakeland, located at 4500 Williamstown Blvd. The initial call stated that there was an unresponsive person located at the pool of the apartment complex. There was also information that a citizen was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

   There were several people in and around the pool area when the 15-year-old patient entered the water and began to swim. After approximately five minutes, a bystander noticed that the patient was at the bottom of the pool and called for others around the pool to help.

   At the pool that day was 16-year-old Jacob Serrano-Solis. Jacob jumped into the pool and retrieved the patient from the bottom of the deep end of the pool. Wasting no time, another teenager, 15-year-old Justin Taylor-Perez, who was swimming in the pool, swam over and assisted Jacob with pulling the patient out of the water.

   Once the patient was pulled out of the water, it was observed that the patient was unresponsive. Justin, who had taken CPR classes when he attended Kathleen Middle School, knew that the patient needed chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth. Thanks to his training in middle school, he corrected a bystander who tried to push on the patient’s stomach, took command and began chest compressions while having a family member of the patient perform the mouth-to-mouth breathing needed in CPR.

   After a few minutes of CPR, the patient became conscious, took a breath and began labored breathing. Soon after, personnel from #LFD and Polk County Fire Rescue arrived at the scene and took over the medical care of the patient who was airlifted to a nearby hospital.

   What Jacob and Justin did was highly commendable and greatly appreciated. So much so that their efforts are being recognized today with the Lakeland Fire Department’s Citizen Hero Award. Attending medics shared that they attribute the two teens' actions a contributing factor to the patient’s survival and eventual recovery.

   It is also important to recognize the impacts of in-school programs, like Kathleen Middle School’s Polk County Public Schools first-aid course; which taught Justin how to properly perform CPR and resulted in a life saved.

   The Firefighters / Medics at the Lakeland Fire Department are often lauded as being heroes in the community. However, today the department wants to recognize the unsung heroes in Lakeland; citizens like Jacob and Justin who did what they could to help. They each took actions that some would hesitate to, and did it all because they knew it was the right thing to do in someone’s time of absolute need.

   We would also like to thank the management at Carlton Arms Apartments of North Lakeland for making LFD aware of Jacob and Justin’s actions and providing helpful information that contributed to this award."

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:21 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

Lakeland - In preparation for Veterans day, our good friends at the Harry R. Alexander Memorial M.O.P.H Chapter 535 would like to invite those interested in purchasing an engraved brick around their purple heart monument to do so by either contacting them at (863) 647-2112 or by sending an email to srhillery@gmail.com.

   The engraved bricks will be placed around the monument, or on an adjacent brick wall. All the bricks will be placed randomly by the Purple Heart Chapter Officers. Interested in getting more information about this amazing opportunity?, Or are you ready to order your brick? Contact Mr. John Hillery at the number and/or email mentioned earlier and John will help you place the order.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:17 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: Staff Writer.

Davenport - On October 11-12, the City of Davenport, in partnership with Florida BBQ Association offered one of the most awaited events of the year... the Big Belly BBQ Battle.

   On Friday and Saturday, Market Street was filled with the delicious aroma of the many BBQ pits that visited us from around the area to showcase their exquisite dishes. From delicious pulled pork to homemade buffalo mac and cheese, the BBQ competitors had all kinds of dishes to meet everyone's expectations... including mine.

   During our visit, we had the pleasure of meeting three teenagers from St. Cloud, Lane Sandlin, Annie Setvin, and Devi Brown, who were working one of the BBQ shops, Smoking N' Pokin', to help their parents win the big price. Annie told us that they are not newbies to the BBQ competitions... they, in fact, have won many awards in the different events they have attended and are planning on continuing participating to add more prices to their already award-winning BBQ career.

   While interviewing Annie, she made a point of telling me that I needed to try their pulled pork, which I did. As a person who loves BBQs and pulled pork, I had big expectations, but let me tell you... when I tried their pulled pork accompanied by baked beans and homemade mac and cheese, I immediately realized that there was a reason why these teens were running their BBQ shop like experts in their field... and it was because their food was, in fact, award-winning material.

   During our visit to the event, we also had the pleasure of meeting the kids from the Country Ridge 4-H Club. These amazing kids were running the shaved ice shop and they were doing a great job not only with the enthusiastic advertising abilities but also with their customer service skills.

   We interviewed their vice-president, Kyndall Akens and we were amazed at the way she was running the shop with her friends. She shared with us that the purpose of the fundraising was to raise funds for their youth fair and also to be able to buy their club jackets. "We do great things and we help our community with our events. I am the vice-president, but I am running for president next year," said Kyndall before leaving the interview to go and take care of a customer who stopped by the shop to get a shaved ice cone.

   We also had the opportunity to interview another member of the club, Emry Dykes, who was in charge of holding the advertising poster to attract customers to the shop. Emry was a talkative little young girl who shared with us amazing information about what the club does. She also shared with us that she is not only a member of the 4-H Club but that she is also a participant of the Special Olympics. "I participate in paddle-boarding, swimming, and bowling," said Emry when we asked what sports she plays.

   For those of you who didn't know what the 4-H club is all about, let me explain... the 4-H Club is a program delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. For more than 100 years, 4‑ H has welcomed young people of all beliefs and backgrounds, giving kids a voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better. Through life-changing 4‑ H programs, nearly six million kids have taken on critical societal issues, such as addressing community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse and advocating for equity and inclusion for all.

   As you can see, the Big Belly BBQ Competition event wasn't only about BBQ... it was also about bringing our community together. This and other events similar to this one is what we need to be able to unite us as a community, and also for all of us to get to know the great organizations, like the Country Ridge 4-H Club, that are working to make the Northeast Polk County area a better place to live.

   We want to thank the City of Davenport and the Florida BBQ Association for coordinating this event. We can't wait for next year's competition.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:11 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief.

Davenport - For much of his childhood, Brandon's mother was a single working mom. Despite wonderful support from his grandparents, she still worked her fingers to the bone to provide for her family and, somehow, managed to achieve work-life balance. As he grew up, Brandon realized that their story wasn't uncommon and that many people were not nearly as blessed as they were. He then realized that we all can be advocates for families like that and make a real difference in their lives that can have a compounding effect on their futures. And it was due to that experience that he made it his goal to utilize his privilege to support the most vulnerable members of his community and to create an environment where they can thrive and pursue their dreams. We had the pleasure of interviewing Brandon, and this is what he shared with us:

 

NEPG: What's your position, and how long have you been in that position?

Brandon: I am a City Commissioner for the City of Davenport, Seat 2, and have held the office since I was elected to it in April 2018.

 

NEPG: What are your main responsibilities?

Brandon: As a whole, the City Commission is responsible for the long-range planning and vision of the city, being the voice of the city's residents. We pass all of the ordinances of the city, annually approve the city's budget, and are responsible for the city's three charter employees, the City Manager, City Clerk, and City Attorney, whom the remaining 50+ employees of the city report up to. Individually, I represent the city on other local boards like the Polk Transportation Planning Organization and the Central Florida MPO Alliance, as well as at other functions. It is also my responsibility to remain in touch with residents and their concerns and needs.

 

NEPG: How do you manage the different personalities among your staff to make an impact not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives?

Brandon: We are very fortunate to have a dedicated city staff that works very well together, as well as a Commission that is cordial and complementary in the way it works. Even when we disagree on policy or direction, we don't take it personally and always put our residents first. When we are working together for that common goal, it's easy to be gracious while still advocating for what is right. For our city employees, I recognize that they are our city's most valuable resource and believe that, if we take care of them, then they will take care of our residents. We have recently started an employee pension program that will make sure they are provided for and have done a compensation study to begin bringing pay scales in line with the market. I also worked with staff to make sure non-discrimination for all people was included in the city's employment practices. I have been fortunate to work for a company that puts its employees first in giving us the ability to focus on our personal lives and I have been an advocate for our employees asking staff to look into opportunities to provide similar benefits for things like paid sick, bereavement, and child bonding leave, family health-care coverage, and educational opportunities.

 

NEPG: Tell us a little bit about your family and how you manage your professional and personal life without allowing one to affect the other.

Brandon: Because my role on the City Commission is not a full-time job, I have to balance it with both my home life and my regular job as a system engineer at Disney. I could not do this without the support of my husband, especially, since the birth of our son in January. We were lucky that our adoption journey happened much faster than for most, but with that came the added responsibilities of a new parent. For me, family always comes first, and part of that is making sure I am able to support them with my day job as well as creating a better community for them through my work on the Commission. I use the little bit of compensation I receive for my work on the Commission to go toward hired help to assist with work around the house I might otherwise do myself so that I can focus on the city and my family, and it doesn't all fall back on my husband. In turn, my husband has readily stood beside me picking up the slack and making sure I had the time and space I need to prepare for, focus on, and attend important meetings, and he and my son both have always been there to prop me up when outcomes didn't go quite as I hoped. I am also blessed to have a job that has offered me great flexibility in doing my work and values the importance of serving the community.

 

NEPG: What message would you like to pass to your community, especially in moments when some of them may be losing trust and faith in their leaders and may see some of their leaders as their "enemies" instead of allies?

Brandon: I would like our residents to know that the two meetings a month they see us at for the Commission is just a small fraction of the work we individually put in behind the scenes working with staff and going through potential scenarios. Some individuals have this idea that we were put in place to do the will of the people, but we were elected to do what is best for the community and we take that responsibility very seriously. We do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions to understand how all of the back-end pieces work to deliver the services that residents expect. Many times we have to make tough choices that may not seem like they make much sense now, but are done to make things better in the future. Most importantly, I'm always happy to talk with residents about these decisions and their concerns because their feedback is important to me and a factor in that decision-making process. This is why I do monthly Chats with a Commissioner, as well as make myself available via email, phone, Facebook, and Twitter.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:04 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief.

Auburndale - This month, on The Student Leader of the Month, we want to feature a student from Auburndale High School who has used her leadership role to make a difference in her school. We had the pleasure of interviewing Deborah Powell, and this is what she shared with us:

NEPG: Which grade are you attending right now?

Deborah:  I am a sophomore at Auburndale High School.

 

NEPG: What leadership position are you responsible for?

Deborah:  I am the captain of the JV volleyball team at my school.

 

NEPG: Tell us about how your leadership approach has influenced others

around you.

Deborah: I try to encourage my teammates to stay positive on the court and to stay

calm and "out of their heads." I always want my teammates to be having fun and

succeeding in their sport.

 

NEPG: What are your plans for this school year?

Deborah: I plan to stay focused in school and on the court. Other than playing on the

Auburndale High School volleyball team, I also plan to continue playing on a club

team for Top Select Volleyball. I plan on doing volunteer work for The National

Honor Society and making the best of my sophomore year.

 

NEPG: What would be your message for younger kids who are planning on

taking a leadership role within their school and/or their community?

Deborah: To always stay positive and open-minded. When having a leadership role,

it's good to take it seriously but to have fun with it as well and to enjoy the experience.

Having a leadership role is such a great way to create amazing relationships with

others. From my experience, I have such a strong bond with my teammates now.

 

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:58 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief.

Polk County - On Friday, October 4th, I personally went to deliver some copies of the newspaper's October edition to our good friends at Government Buildings around the county. It was my first time visiting some of these buildings, so I was really excited to get to know the buildings and the people who worked there, and I have to say that, I was less than impressed by the treatment I received from the receptionist who was behind the counter in one of the buildings on that day.

   I usually don't like to complain about unnecessary things, but this time, I feel that it is my responsibility, as a person who represents the community, to bring this to the Government officials' attention. If this happened to me while wearing a shirt that fully identified me as a PRESS member, I don't even want to think how other members of the community are being treated when visiting this building.

   The main reason we started this section was to bring awareness to the great job that members of our community are doing. Therefore, writing this piece is not a pleasant feeling. However, I believe that it is my responsibility to also bring awareness to this terrible situation. The treatment, like the one I received, should not be tolerated in any business, let alone in the government that represents us, the community members.

   To the officials at the Government Buildings around Polk County, I want to say... do something about this situation. This is completely unacceptable.

   To the government employee who was rude to me while I was trying to do my job, I want to say... if customer service is not your forte, please find another job that doesn't require you to be nice to the public. There are plenty of people in ou community who need a job and have every intention to do what's required, including providing outstanding customer service to the people they serve.

   To the members of our community, today, I want to invite you to stand up against this kind of treatment. This is unacceptable, and if we continue to accept it and not hold people accountable for the way they treat us, we are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:53 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: Content Provided By The City of Lake Wales.

Lake Wales - Join us helping the City of Lake Wales in congratulating Ronald and Margrit McCown of Highland Crest Cir for being awarded “Yard of the Month” for October 2019.

   The City of Lake Wales Yard of the Month Award recognizes the hard work and pride exhibited by Lake Wales residents who beautify their yards.

   “Yard of the Month” sign provided by the City was placed in their yard and will remain for the duration of the month.

“Yard of the Month” is evaluated and awarded by the Department of Planning and Development Services and is intended to inspire others to improve and maintain their yards and increase the overall quality of life in Lake Wales.

   Have a yard you’d like to nominate? Visit the City of Lake Wales' Facebook page and send them a private message with the information on the yard that you would like to nominate.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:49 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

Content Provided By the City of Lake Alfred.

Lake Alfred - On September 26, Parks & Recreation Director Richard Weed presented the 10 Years of Service Recognition award to Kimberly Walker, Library Assistant in the Lake Alfred Public Library.

   Director Weed stated that Kimberly Walker has been working at the library for ten years, and has worked for him five of those ten years and does so much for the library. Kim performs all the everyday normal library duties like checking books in and out, weeding books, helping customers, processing and some cataloging. Kim is also pretty handy and fixes some of the minor things around the library to help the Parks and Recreation department team out. She is a team player and can always make you laugh. Her customer service is excellent; Director Weed stated, “I have personally witnessed this on many occasions where she went out of her way to help a patron.”

   Director Weed is proud to have Kim working with him in the Parks and Recreation department and couldn’t imagine the library without her. He hopes to work with Kim for another 10 years. Congratulations on your 10 years of service, Kimberly.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief.

Haines City - A  couple of days ago, we received the sad news that our beloved toy chihuahua, Ozzy, was suffering from a heart condition. No, we didn't see any signs, or symptoms that could indicate that something wasn't right with his little heart... it was a routine visit to his vet what helped us discover the delicate condition of his heart.

   The moment we arrived at The Heart of Florida Animal Hospital, we were treated like family. The receptionists were very caring towards our little guy and made sure all our paperwork was ready for his visit. But it was the moment we were called inside the exam room what made the experience an even better one.

   When we met Dr. Devon A. Watts, DVM, we knew from moment one that Ozzy was in good hands. Dr. Watts took his time explaining to us what he was doing to Ozzy and answered all our questions with the knowledge and expertise that characterize this amazing clinic... Dr. Watts was, in fact, the one who discovered Ozzy's heart condition and, after doing so, he immediately took control of the situation and prescribed Ozzy the medications that he will need to live a better life from now on.

   I have to say that we are more than thankful to Dr. Watts and his staff at The Heart of Florida Animal

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief.

Haines City - Delicious margaritas, exquisite Mexican dishes, and an incredible and energetic atmosphere... these were the things that were offered to the public by La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant during their re-opening and ribbon-curring ceremony on September 28.

   For Winter Haven's new residents, Cathy Schaefer and John Metzger, the opportunity to come and celebrate the re-opening was a great idea. Not only did they have a great time, but it also provided them the opportunity to captivate the other attendees with their colorful attire and cheerful personalities.

   As part of the celebration, the restaurant offered special dishes, gifts, and surprise awards as well as the performances from Mexican artists Simona Beltran, Los Brandys de Oro, and the mixes of enigmatic DJ. And if that wasn't enough, the celebration was livened up by La Raza 92.7 FM & 1570 AM.

   Located in their new home at the Maxcy Plaza in Haines City, La Fiesta Mexicana offers a variety of finger-licking authentic Mexican cuisine accompanied by tasty drinks (which include the best Margaritas in town).

   Did we convince you yet about giving them a try? Well, If we haven't, you need to go and visit them so you can see for yourself why people around town are calling La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant the best casual eatery serving a wide range of Mexican favorites in a warm, traditionally decorated space.

   They are located at 94 Maxcy Plaza Circle Haines City, and their hours of operations are Sunday -Thursday from 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM and Friday - Saturday from 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM.

   We invite you to go and try their delicious flautas and their "out-of-this-world" lime margaritas. We promise... you will not be disappointed.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:35 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: Melody K. Morales, Guest Contributor.

   If I could have a penny for every time I’ve heard the words “this new generation will be the end of us,” I’d happily be a millionaire. However, that isn’t the case, so instead, let me be the one to jump in the defense of the new generations… my generation.

   Our generation drives diversity and change, and for many, that is uncomfortable. This largescale diversity and change that is driven by our newer generations is not only physical but includes changes in the way we perceive information, process thoughts, and opinions, and then act on them. Our generation directly combats the idea that because something has been perceived and done in a particular way in the past, it has to continue being done that way in the future. The truth is that this makes "us" uncomfortable.

   The fear of the unknown is something that, with the newer generations, has been at the forefront of past generation’s minds. Living in an everchanging and modern world has opened doors for us today, that in the past, had merely been explored. Through the years, education has become more widespread and accessible, fueling the immense curiosity present in the younger generations’ minds.

   Today, our educators drive us to ask “why” and “how”, steering us away from simply accepting an answer for what it is. Therefore, it is possible to see that, with Millennials and Gen Zs, we don’t fear the unknown, but better yet... we explore it.

With time passing, education prevailing, and cultural norms evolving, the outcome has led to a shift in the moral compass of the newer generations. This means that the morals on which we were positioned by past generations have evolved and transitioned into our perception of them. For many, this is daunting and, at times, negatively emphasized, which portrays the youth as selfish and unaware. However, because our thoughts and perceptions are diverse, and because the world we are living in is that much different than the one experienced by previous generations, we “combat” our “battles” differently. Therefore, it isn’t the fact that we are falling short of the morals on which we were raised on, but instead, have shaped those morals into our interpretation of them.

   Overall, our generation’s differences and desire for change can be seen as a threat to the societal view on “tradition.” Instead of suppressing us or telling us we don’t understand, I encourage you to listen, and then ask “why” and “how.” I encourage you to ponder the idea that even though things may have been done a certain way for years, it is okay to deviate and seek alternatives. I ask that you join us in our battle for diversity and change because, after all, we are just trying to understand and make it in a world where the odds are against us.

About the Author:  Melody Morales is a recent graduate of The University of Tampa where she obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Business Management. She is a human resource professional with a passion for creative writing and thought-provoking discussions.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:22 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: Mike Fergurson, Guest Contributor.

Haines City - Mentoring from quarterbacks and skill players to participate at the highest levels of professional and college football will soon be available in Northeast Polk County.

   On Sept. 6, Feltrim Sports announced its partnership with Baylin Trujillo’s “Advanced Quarterback Camp” to bring camps to The Feltrim Sports Village inside Balmoral Resort. The camp will be open to children from second grade through high school.

   “Feltrim reached out to us not too long ago and I could see the potential,” Trujillo said. “We partnered right there on the spot.”

   Trujillo, 27, started hosting camps about five years ago in the Orlando area and thinks the partnership with Feltrim Sports could be a step in launching the camp to one of the more known quarterback camps throughout the country.

   The camp, which will cater primarily to quarterbacks, but is open to all skill players and linebackers, will be the first for Feltrim Sports as it is nearing completion of the multi-million dollar sports village, making it one of the premier venues in Central Florida.

   “(Trujillo) saw the environment, atmosphere, and facilities that we had to offer and liked what he saw,” said Douglas Leichner, director of athletics for Feltrim Sports. “He’s very good at what he does. We’re really excited about this.”

   The resumes of Trujillo and his fellow coaches speak for themselves. Trujillo played quarterback at the University of South Florida under head coach Skip Holtz before landing at Webber International University and with the National Arena League’s Orlando Predators.

   Other coaches include Quincy Carter, Stephen Garcia, Karlos Williams, Nyqwan Murray, Kevin Olsen, Bo Jack, and Garrett Johnson.

   Carter was a standout at the University of Georgia and the starting quarterback in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets. Garcia was a three - year starting quarterback at the University of South Carolina and led the Gamecocks to an upset of No. 1 Alabama in 2010 and the SEC East title.

   Williams, the current offensive coordinator at Ridge Community High School, scored 23 career touchdowns as a running back at Florida State before scoring a team-high seven rushing touchdowns as a rookie in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills in 2015. As a wide receiver at Kentucky, Johnson appeared in 47 career games and finished with more than 2,000 career yards receiving.

   After scoring the game-winning touchdown for Florida State in the 2016 Orange Bowl, Murray led the Seminoles in receiving in each of his final two seasons. The brother of Carolina Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen, Kevin Olsen played at quarterback at Miami and Charlotte. Jack, a former Florida A&M defensive back, is a speed-training specialist.

   “Kids are going to be able to get professional instructions from professional athletes,” Trujillo said. “That’s a big thing. We have guys who have been there and are here to really develop your skills.”

   The first camps at Feltrim Sports will be held on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Two-day camps are $200 for online registrants and $250 the day of. Trujillo said he plans on hosting four to five camps per year. Those interested can register at www.feltrimsports.com/camps.

   Provided with registration are lunch on both days, a camp shirt and drinks from BODYARMOR. Groups who choose to stay on-site at Balmoral Resorts will get a 25 percent discount by using the code, QBcamp. The recruiting service, Ally Recruiting, out of California will be on hand.

   ”We’re looking to bring high-profile quarterbacks to our facilities,” Leichner said. “We like what he has to offer. He’s a well-known trainer and we look forward to having him on our property.”

   Trujillo has trained a number of players currently playing at the college level, including Kent State’s Woody Barrett and Hampton quarterback Deondre Francois, who was a two-year starter at Florida State and the 2016 ACC Rookie of the Year. Tennessee starting quarterback Brian Maurer also attended the camp.

   I’m excited to see how this all works out,” Trujillo said. “I really feel like we could be the next (Jon) Gruden Camp. In the future, that could be my territory. You never know where this can go."

 

About the Author:  Mike Ferguson currently serves as the public information officer at the Haines City Police Department. A native of Polk County, Mike previously spent nearly five years as a full-time reporter at The Ledger. Mike contributes to a number of outlets and has work appearing in the Associated Press, Yahoo, FoxSports.com, Athlon Sports and Sports Illustrated online among other publications. Mike earned his bachelor's degree from Florida State University in 2009. Mike and his wife Jennifer live in Davenport, Florida with their two children.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:08 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 01 2019

By: Jennifer and Elizabeth, Cocoa's moms. 

   “I think they will take me home. Let me act normal. I am a very cute puppy, how could they not like me? I have beautiful green/blue eyes,” said Cocoa to himself after seeing two ladies approaching his kennel.

   “Hi, Baby! Wow, you are so handsome,” said Elizabeth as she sat on the floor with her heart full of joy looking at Cocoa.

   “Are you my new mommy? Will you take me home?” asked Cocoa.

   “Jenniffer, please! I want him so bad !” said Elizabeth to her girlfriend. Jenniffer, Liz's girlfriend then starts to play with Cocoa and tears of joy come running down her cheeks.

   “He is perfect,” Jenniffer said.

   “I agree! ” said Cocoa, as he then lets out a tinkle of joy for his new Moms.

   And, that my friends, is how our beautiful baby boy Cocoa came to be part of our family.

    Cocoa’s welcoming into his new home was a very wet one. He is a short hair Dachshund with more energy than our four-year-old son. And, he gets more attention than Brad Pitt. What makes Cocoa unique than other Dachshunds, you may ask? That's an obvious one! His beautiful blue/green eyes. Cocoa is a life full of energy but with a bladder that cannot hold off a tinkle while being pet by strangers.

   Oh, Cocoa!

   We will never regret the day we got Cocoa, our little hot dog. He loves to run in our back yard but when he does, he does not run, he hops. When he runs and jumps off a ledge, he then converts into Superman! (Super Hot Dog). Cocoa just had a birthday and let me tell you... his first Birthday went as perfect as him. Your moms love you, Cocoa! Our little bunny.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:02 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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