Archived Blogs & Articles

Posted: 4/15/2014
Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation donates gear for Hillsborough County fishing camps
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Hillsborough County’s summer nature camps teach local children a winning combination of conservation and sportsmanship. The successful program even hooked one of the biggest names in fishing — Guy Harvey.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is donating $10,000 worth of fishing equipment and supplies to the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department for use during a series of two-week camps scheduled between June 16 and August 8, 2014. The Guy Harvey Saltwater Fishing Camps will take place at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin and the Upper Tampa Bay Park in Tampa.

More than 300 lucky kids will have the opportunity to become world-class anglers. The Guy Harvey Saltwater Fishing Camps in Hillsborough County are open to boys and girls ages 9 – 15 years of age. Camps provide daily fishing instruction, educational seminars, plus outings and excursions. The camp cost is $120 per child, with some income-based scholarships available. Online camp registration begins on May 7, and space is limited.

The goal of the Guy Harvey Saltwater Fishing Camp donation is to expand fishing opportunities and provide outdoor conservation education and stewardship opportunities to the youth of Florida. The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida on behalf of the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network have recognized Hillsborough County’s youth summer fishing camp programs for offering superior conservation education.

To register for Hillsborough County’s summer Guy Harvey Saltwater Fishing Camps, visit Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department or call 813-635-3500.

Posted: 4/15/2014
Remembering FCAT, 1995-2014
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Photo by Norm Robbie

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is dying, say Florida education officials. By this time next year, the FCAT will be replaced with a new, Common Core-aligned assessment.

FCAT was born in 1995 in the humid June of a Tallahassee summer.

The Florida Commission on Education Reform and Accountability under Gov. Lawton Chiles gave birth to the test. It was part of a series of recommendations that were meant to give local districts more control and a better sense of how their schools were doing.

“At some point we may look fondly at the FCAT and wish we had it back,” says Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association — the umbrella organization for Florida’s teachers unions.

Eventually, Ford and the FEA would become outspoken rivals of FCAT, but the relationship didn’t sour immediately.

“It gave me information as a classroom teacher,” recalls Ford. “Unfortunately it was used as a political football to be the decision-maker for every decision that anybody wanted to tie to a test.”

Read/listen to this story on WUSF news...

Posted: 4/15/2014
Hillsborough County to consider land donation for veterans nursing home

A public meeting will be held on April 22nd

The Hillsborough County Real Estate and Facilities Services Department has scheduled a public meeting on April 22 to discuss a proposal to donate County-owned land to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs for a 120-bed nursing home.

Two existing County parcels, each 20 acres, are being considered. One parcel adjoins a Public Utilities Department maintenance unit at 10707 Rhodine Road in Riverview. The other parcel is located at 12239 Old Morris Bridge Road, southeast of the Interstate 75 and Fletcher Avenue interchange.

County staff will be at the meeting to review the proposed locations and answer questions from residents.

    When: Tuesday, April 22nd, 6:30 p.m.
    Where: Brandon Regional Service Center, 311 Pauls Drive, Brandon, 33511

All meeting facilities are accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additional necessary accommodations will be provided with a 48-hour notice.

For more information, call Steve Valdez, Citizen Engagement Manager, 813-272-5275. TTY: 301-7173

Prensa: Para información, llamar al 813-272-5314.

Posted: 3/31/2014
Updated: County Commissioners to honor local youth with YEA! Awards on April 2nd

  • What: YEA! Awards Ceremony
  • When: Wednesday, April 2, at 2:15 p.m. Note time change
  • Where: County Center, 2nd Floor County Commission Boardroom, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners will recognize six youth leaders on Wednesday, April 2 for their many positive contributions made in our community with the County’s Youth Excellence and Achievement Awards (YEA! Awards). The YEA! Awards will be presented at 2:15 p.m. in the County Commission Boardroom on the second floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa.

The YEA! Awards recognize three middle school and three high school students in Hillsborough County who have displayed initiative, innovation, a commitment to themselves and others, and a pursuit of excellence in a leadership capacity. The YEA! Awards recipients this year are:

Middle School
Leadership – Julia Woolley, Buchanan Middle School
Success Despite Difficult Odds – Leigh Dittman, Buchanan Middle School
Volunteer or Community Service – Sam Estes, Williams IB Middle School

High School
Leadership – Ervin Harris, Middleton High School
Success Despite Difficult Odds – Demonde Ragins, Simmons Career Center
Volunteer or Community Service – Derek Frantz, Jesuit Preparatory School

The YEA! Awards were created in 2010 at the request of Commissioner Kevin Beckner to honor outstanding students for their leadership roles in academics, community service, athletics, performing arts, conservation and other areas.

Additional information on the YEA! Awards, is available online at

Posted: 3/31/2014
"Fight the Blight" coming to Tropical Acres in April

What: Operation Fight the Blight: Tropical Acres by Hillsborough County Code Enforcement
When: April 1-4, April 7-11, and April 14, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Dumpsters will be located at Stephen J. Wortham Park, 12108 Rhodine Road, Riverview

Hillsborough County Code Enforcement continues its successful Operation Fight the Blight program with a cleanup campaign in the Tropical Acres community scheduled April 1-4, April 7-11, and April 14.

The cleanup boundaries are Rhodine Road on the north, Big Bend Road on the south, Balm Riverview Road on the west, and Lovers Lane on the east.

During the operation, several dumpsters will be located at Stephen J. Wortham Park, 12108 Rhodine Road, Riverview. Residents who live within the cleanup boundaries may dispose of various items at no charge by showing proof of residence, such as a Florida Driver's License, Florida Vehicle Registration, or a utility bill. The dumpsters will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each of the weekdays during the cleanup (but not on the weekends).

The following items may be placed in the dumpsters:

  • furniture, junk, trash, debris
  • metal
  • electronics
  • tires (limit 5 per residence)

Items that will NOT be accepted for disposal:

  • tree debris
  • commercial vehicle tires
  • hazardous chemicals

Hillsborough Code Enforcement officers are partnering on the cleanup campaign with several other County agencies, including Animal Services, Public Utilities, Office of Community Affairs/Neighborhood Relations, and Public Works, along with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Tampa Electric.

For more information, call Hillsborough County Neighborhood Relations at 813-307-3564.



Operation Fight the Blight: Tropical Acres is Code Enforcement’s second cleanup campaign of 2014. In February, Code Enforcement assisted residents in the Old Sun City area remove more than 23 tons of discarded items.

Posted: 3/26/2014
Register now for Mar. 28th Child Safety Summit

Join The Children's Community Conversation on Child Safety

Abusive head trauma, unsafe sleep, and drowning are the leading causes of preventable child death in the Tampa Bay Area. That's why the Children's Board — with the help of community partners - is hosting a Child Safety Summit to kick off a coordinated community response to end preventable child death in Hillsborough County.

Child Safety Summit
Guest speakers:
• Brooke Bennett, 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist and marathon swimmer
• Susan Martin-Warren, parent of abusive head trauma survivor

March 28, 2014
9:00 am – Noon
Children's Board of Hillsborough County
1002 East Palm Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605

For more information contact: Joanna Cheshire, Phone: 813-229-2884 or Email: Click here to register...

Posted: 3/24/2014
Florida DCF unveils "Who's Really Watching Your Child?" campaign

Campaign Provides FREE Resources for parents and caregivers

The Florida Department of Children and Families has announced the launch of the "Who's Really Watching Your Child?" campaign. More than 25 percent of child protective investigations last year involved a non-relative caregiver, such as a boyfriend, girlfriend or friend, as the alleged perpetrator.

The campaign offers many FREE resources at:

Here are a few highlights:

To talk one-on-one with a representative about how to provide a safe environment for a child, call 2-1-1.

Learn more about the campaign...

Posted: 2/10/2014
Thonotosassa Library to Change Operating Hours March 3

The Thonotosassa Library, located at 10715 Main St. in Thonotosassa, will change its hours of operation effective Monday, March 3. This is an effort to better meet the needs of the community. The new hours will allow more residents to visit the library and enjoy the variety of book collections, services and programs.

The new hours for the library will be:
• Mondays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
• Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, call 813-273-3652 or visit

Posted: 1/30/2014
CHIPS group to offer free co-parenting class Feb. 14th
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"Team Work Makes the Dream Work," a symposium produced by the Collaborative for Children in Hillsborough with Incarcerated Parents (CHIPS), focuses on co-parenting issues that arise during a parents' incarceration, their transition back into the community, and the parenting role. The symposium includes experiences from caregivers and parents who recently transitioned back into the community. They will share with participants some of the challenges they encountered during incarceration.

Participants also have the opportunity to hear about a research project that was conducted in the Tampa Bay area by the University of South Florida, School of Social Work.

Hillsborough County in 2013 was 2nd in the state at 4,970, for the number of reported children affected by having a parent incarcerated.

Founded in 2009, CHIPS is a collaborative of individuals, agencies and neighborhood groups who are working with and on the behalf of children and families of the incarcerated. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Hillsborough County leads the state in the number of children who have at least one incarcerated parent (close to 6,000).

Click here to register...

Posted: 1/22/2014
Cold Weather Shelters Open Tonight–Free Transportation Available
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Hillsborough County Sunshine Line announced it will begin a pilot program to offer transportation to various cold weather shelters Wednesday, Jan. 22 at no cost to individuals who are homeless or live in homes without adequate heat.

Due to freezing temperatures predicted for Hillsborough County, emergency cold weather shelters will remain open for Wednesday, Jan. 22. Individuals who need transportation assistance to a cold weather shelter in Hillsborough County, should call 813-276-8136 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. to arrange a ride.

Hillsborough County coordinates with the following organizations to provide cold weather shelters:

  • Brandon Community Center, 510 E. Sadie St. in Brandon
    This shelter opens at 6 p.m. and is for homeless individuals and families with children in the Brandon Area.
    Phone: 813-635-8179
  • Metropolitan Ministries, 2010 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa
    This shelter opens at 4 p.m. and is for families.
    After hours phone: 813-209-1077
  • Salvation Army, 1514 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa
    This shelter opens at 4 p.m. and is only for adults.
    After hours phone: 813-221-4440
  • Jackson Springs Recreation Center, 8620 Jackson Springs Road in Town 'N Country
    This shelter opens at 6:30 p.m. and is for adults and families.
    Phone 813-554-5064
  • Wimauma Community Center, 5705 Hillsborough St. in Wimauma
    This shelter opens at 6 p.m. and is for adults and families.
    Phone 813-635-3500

The Brandon Community Center, Jackson Springs Recreation Center, and Wimauma Community Center are also accepting donations of shelter supplies, such as hats, gloves, scarves, blankets, disinfectant wipes, disposable cups, coffee, creamer, paper plates, plastic utensils and sugar. Those wishing to donate supplies should contact each individual shelter.

Residents who need to be outside overnight or during the early morning hours are encouraged to dress in several warm layers and limit skin exposure to the wind. Pets should not be left outside during the cold weather. The lower than normal temperatures combined with strong winds could produce dangerous wind chills.

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