Archived Blogs & Articles

Posted: 1/8/2013
Hillsborough Libraries Offer FREE Downloadable Audiobooks, And eBooks - Anytime, Anywhere!

The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative offers FREE best-selling and classic audiobooks and eBooks, music and video selections 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at Hillsborough County library card holders may download best-selling novels, well-known classics, self-improvement guides, and much more to a computer or mobile device to enjoy from the comfort of home, or just about anywhere life takes them.

With hundreds of selections to choose from, the collection of downloadable materials is guaranteed to have something for everyone. And, there are no late fees! Downloaded selections simply disappear from a patron’s device at the end of the lending period.

This service, powered by OverDrive, is FREE with a Hillsborough County library card and is available for just about any device with a screen, including Kindle, NOOK, Sony Reader, eBook readers, Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad/iPod/ iPod touch, Windows Phone, MP3 players, and is compatible for Windows and Mac.

To Download FREE Audiobooks and eBooks 1. Have your Hillsborough County library card ready. Don’t have one? They’re FREE for residents! Just visit any public library in Hillsborough County to apply in person, or visit and click on Get a Card for details and to download an application.

2. Visit to browse the collection and select up to 10 items to download.

3. Follow the prompts to install the necessary FREE software for your preferred device.

4. Download and enjoy the selections!

For questions or help to get started using any of the FREE library services, call 813-273-3652 or visit

Posted: 12/17/2012
FREE and Discount Passes Available To Military and First Responders For Entry To County Parks

Hillsborough County is proud to offer members of the military and first responders FREE and discounted Annual Regional Park Passes to all Hillsborough County Regional Parks.

Passes can be obtained from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday at the Branchton Regional Parks Office, 15502 Morris Bridge Road in Thonotosassa. Cash, check and major credit card payments are accepted for the discounted pass.

The FREE lifetime family entrance pass is for Hillsborough County residents who are:

• Honorably discharged veterans who have service-connected disabilities

• Surviving spouse and parents of deceased members of the US Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves who have fallen in combat

• Surviving dependents of deceased First Responders killed in the line of duty who reside in Hillsborough County

There is a 25 percent annual regional park pass discount for: • Active duty members and honorably discharged veterans of the US Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves who live in Hillsborough County

• Active duty members of First Responders who live or work in Hillsborough County

• Hillsborough County employees

Those wishing to obtain free or discounted passes must provide proper documentation as outlined in the policies:

• First Responders - Policy • Military – Policy The free and discounted passes do not include the boat launching pass, which is $100. Regular cost for an Annual Regional Parks Pass is $50 for an individual, and $100 for a family.

View a list of regional parks online at additional information on Hillsborough County Regional Parks, discounts and free passes, contact the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department at 813-987-6240.

Posted: 12/13/2012
Florida DCF Makes Improvements to Child Abuse Hotline

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced improvements at the Florida Abuse Hotline in response to recommendations made last year by the Barahona Investigative Panel. Media were allowed to tour the Hotline, listen to live calls reporting abuse, and speak with Hotline counselors and child protective investigators about the changes.

A key component of the improved system will be a more comprehensive collection of data to provide investigators with better information about families at the beginning of an investigation, which will help them assess child safety and family risk factors. The changes also include an improved online abuse reporting tool that will be most beneficial to mandatory reporters, such as law enforcement and school personnel.

The Florida Abuse Hotline serves as the central reporting center for allegations of abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation for all children and vulnerable adults in Florida. The Hotline receives calls, faxes, and web based reports from citizens and professionals with concerns of abuse, neglect, or exploitation on children and vulnerable adults in Florida.

The Hotline assesses the information provided by the concerned person and determines if the information provided meets statutory criteria for the Department of Children and Families to conduct an investigation.

More than 1 million children are victims of child abuse and neglect each year. Yet, many of these victims don't receive the help they need because their abuse or neglect isn't reported to the proper authorities to intervene or investigate. These abused and neglected children span all ages, races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. Child abuse or neglect includes actions or omissions that result in imminent threat of serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, or death of a child under age 18 by a parent or other caregiver.

Visit the Florida Abuse Hotline website

Posted: 12/13/2012
HUD awards $30M for Central Park/Ybor redevelopment

WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced today (Dec. 13) that four communities will receive a combined $108.9 million to redevelop distressed housing and bring comprehensive neighborhood revitalization to blighted areas. One of the recipients will be the Housing Authority of the City of Tampa (THA).

HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. The $108.9 million federal investment of Choice Neighborhoods has generated $393 million in private investments and commitments from local jurisdictions and partners, a more than 300 percent leveraging.

THA's plan for transforming the Central Park/Ybor neighborhood centers on the redevelopment of the demolished Central Park public housing property. Central Park Village is now being redeveloped as the Encore mixedincome/ mixed-use community which, when completed, will consist of 1,127 mixed-income housing units that include 827 rental and 300 homeownership units. These units will be spread among three mixed-income rental apartment buildings, a senior affordable housing building, a market rate condo building, and a mid-rise senior apartment building. The development will also include a 60,000 square foot mixed-use office retail building, hotel, 35,000 square foot grocery store, and a town square. The development will encompass twelve city blocks.

The Central Park/Ybor neighborhood lies in close proximity to downtown Tampa and the business district. Despite concentrated poverty and persistent disinvestment over a period of decades, the neighborhood has drawn several large employers, including GTE Federal Credit Union, KForce (one of the nation’s largest temporary employment services) and Ikea. THA’s Transformation Plan will build off of these anchor institutions to facilitate improved access to opportunity for residents. In particular, the Housing Authority has partnered with GTE Federal Credit Union, Hillsborough Community College and the Tampa BayWorkforce alliance to create a job training center for the community, which will be located in the neighborhood on GTE’s campus. Hillsborough Community College instructors will staff the center and teach curriculum developed by GTE Federal Credit Union, Home Depot and other major Tampa-area employers.

In addition, the Encore development will be home to a host of new assets that will be open to the entire Central Park/Ybor community. This includes a new state-of-the-art health clinic which will provide free health care services to all neighborhood residents and a new early childhood education center run by the Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS). In 2009, HCPS received a multi-year Gates foundation grant, which it will use to provide focused training and support to improve and restructure all of the neighborhood schools. HCPS has also partnered with the University of South Florida to develop a 2-acre urban farm adjacent to the Encore site. The University will run its Gardening, Academic Improvement and Nutrition (G.A.I.N) initiative at the farm site, and the farm will also provide health education opportunities and fresh produce for the neighborhood residents. Hillsborough County will soon replace the local library with a 25,000 square foot facility that will offer a physical and programmatic connection to the adjacent Booker T. Washington Elementary school. THA will then partner with the new library to expand its literacy and mentoring programs. THA will also work with the city of Tampa to redevelop Peter Harvey Sr. Park, a 11-acre park adjacent to the Encore site. The redeveloped park will include cultural elements, an improved skate park and a community center.

Posted: 12/12/2012
Do Your Pipelines And Ours A Favor - Join The C.O.R.E. For The Holidays And All Year Round

The Public Utilities Department has launched C.O.R.E. – the Cooking Oil Recycling Effort - a new program that offers residents a convenient way to recycle their used cooking oil. Free cooking oil jugs are available from five cabinets located in selected areas. Used, cooled cooking oil can be stored in the jugs or other sturdy, spill-proof, non-breakable containers, capped securely, and taken to one of the cabinets.

Look for the brightly-colored C.O.R.E. cabinets at:

• Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department

Northwest Customer Service Center

15610 Premiere Drive, Tampa 33624

• Northlakes Recreation Center

2640 Lakeview Drive, Tampa 33618

• Woodlake Park

9207 Woodlake Blvd., Tampa 33615

• Town ‘N Country Pump Station

5505 Town ‘N Country Blvd., Tampa 33615

• Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department

Brandon Support and Operations Complex

332 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa 33619

Used cooking oils are a serious problem for home plumbing and Hillsborough County's wastewater collection system. Cooking oil that’s poured down the drain gels and solidifies into thick layers inside drainpipes, sewage pipelines and sewage lift stations, constricting water flow. Running hot water down the sink doesn’t help because the water eventually cools down.

The result not only can back up home plumbing, but also can cause lift station pumps and other equipment to malfunction. That can create sewage spills, overflows onto streets, and foul odors in homes and neighborhoods. It’s messy, smelly and costly to clean up.

The C.O.R.E. project is a pilot program for Hillsborough County. Although new for this area, the program has worked successfully at locations across the country.

C.O.R.E. is for residential cooking oil. Commercial and industrial customers must contact a licensed commercial grease hauler for cooking oil disposal options.

Also, all three of the County’s Household Chemicals and Electronics Collections centers accept used and leftover cooking oil during their designated monthly collection times. There is no charge.

The Household Chemicals and Electronics Collections facilities are located at:

• Northwest

First Saturday of the month, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

9805 N. Sheldon Road, Tampa 33635

• South County

Second Saturday of the month, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

13000 U.S. Highway 41, Gibsonton 33534

(use Powell Road entrance, off U.S. Highway 41, a quarter-mile north of Big Bend Road)

• East County

Third Saturday of the month, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

6209 County Road 579, Seffner 33584

(a quarter-mile north of Interstate 4, exit 10)

For more information, visit

Posted: 11/27/2012
Guardians ad Litem Courtesy Visitors Needed for Foster Kids

Hillsborough County currently has almost 2,954 children who have been removed from their home due to abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. 1,000 of these foster children are waiting for a monthly visit from a Guardian ad Litem "Courtesy Visitor". Can you help?

Would you visit a child in foster care and submit a report to the Supervisor and Attorney representing the child? Your report will give a crucial voice to the wants and needs of the child while he/she is out of home. Your visits will ensure that the child is receiving the basic human rights EVERY child deserves - the right to be safe, the right to be cared for properly and the right to be treated with dignity.

We need everyday people - from all walks of life - and no prior experience is necessary. We offer training at various locations. Please, consider this opportunity to lift up a child's voice. A child's life!

NEEDED: Guardian Courtesy Visitors. An adult to visit a child once a month (on your own schedule) and report observations (by email). NO COURT DUTIES.

Do you have time for a child in foster care?

Training close to home in January. The process to apply couldn't be easier - it is a yearly training site.

If you're interested, please contact me - fill out the application - and schedule your interview. That's it!

Enjoy the holidays and wait until January where you'll attend just three (3) Saturdays of training at the Bloomingdale Library and you can start visiting a child.

These kids need you more than you know. They're OUR future and it's our responsibility to show them that someone cares, especially while they've been placed in foster care where everything that was familiar to them is now gone.

Please volunteer... or help us find 1 person who can. Our deepest thanks!

Contact: Rene' Vojnovic
Recruiter & Volunteer Guardian ad Litem
Guardian ad Litem Program
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit
700 Twiggs St, Suite 750
Tampa, FL. 33602
(813) 393-9084

Learn more about the Hillsborough County Guardian ad Litem program

Posted: 11/1/2012
Tampa Bay Times series prompts State of Florida to investigate unlicensed children's homes

TAMPA – In response to a Tampa Bay Times investigation, state officials have launched a wide-ranging review of unlicensed children's homes, some of which have been caring for kids for years with no oversight.

The review has identified seven "boarding schools" with no apparent credentials — no state license, no religious exemption and no other state-recognized accreditation. The Times had previously uncovered four of those facilities.

In addition, state investigators now say more than a dozen foster children have been illegally placed in unlicensed homes since 2001. Officials continue to look for more illegal placements and are trying to determine why they occurred and how much taxpayer money was spent.

Department of Children and Families officials said they will work with homes to try to get them licensed or accredited. But homes that do not earn credentials could be taken to court, DCF officials said.


» Read the full story in the Tampa Bay Times

Posted: 10/31/2012
FCAT to be Retired, Replaced by More and Tougher Exams

The FCAT, long Florida's most important and sometimes most reviled exam, is headed for a retirement of sorts.

But when the state shuts the door on the math, reading and writing sections of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, it will usher in a new set of tougher standardized exams in those same subjects.

So Florida's public school students still will be taking tests. In fact, they'll be taking more exams — and asked to do more on them, with writing and "show your work" math problems part of the mix in all grades 3 to 11.

Florida plans to begin pilot testing the new exams this school year, even as it weathers continued criticism that it tests students too much. The new tests are to replace corresponding FCAT exams in the spring of 2015.

Click here to read the entire story

Posted: 10/29/2012
4-H After School Program Scholarships Available At Three Hillsborough County Recreation Centers

Hillsborough County has received a grant from the National 4-H Council and the MetLife Foundation to pay for 33 fourth and fifth graders to attend the Rec2Six after school program at three County recreation centers. Rec2Six provides fun, fitness and educational adventures for children in grades K-5, Monday – Friday, from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Applications are being accepted Monday - Friday from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. at one of the three eligible recreation centers listed below, and must be received by Oct. 18.

Those wishing to apply must:

• Complete a Rec2Six Scholarship Application

• Be in fourth or fifth grade

• Be eligible for a FREE or reduced school lunch letter

• Be able to attend one of the three eligible recreation centers

• Be willing to provide feedback in the way of survey’s and pre/post tests.

• Write a narrative describing the need for the scholarship and reason why the family cannot afford the tuition fee

Eligible Recreation Centers:

• Egypt Lake, 3126 W. Lambright St. in Tampa, 813-975-2103

• Roy Haynes, 1902 S. Village Ave. in Tampa, 813-903-3480

• University Area, 14015 N. 22nd St. in Tampa, 813- 903-2200

Only 11 scholarships are available at each recreation center. Parents are encouraged to submit their application and eligibility documents as soon as possible. Hillsborough County staff will review and rank the applications.

Rec2Six is more than just an after school program! It has joined America’s movement to raise a healthier generation of kids by encouraging healthy lifestyle-choices through physical activity and nutrition education. In partnership with Hillsborough County Extension Services’ 4-H Program, children spend 1-2 hours per week in a variety of different activities, each unique to a recreation center. All centers have a garden, and additional 4-H program choices may include robotics, building a butterfly garden, entrepreneurship, environmental learning, photography, theater arts, or visual arts. Learn more about the program at

Scholarships are made possible by the MetLife Foundation, National 4-H Council, Hillsborough County Extension Service, and Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department.

For more information, contact Shorty Robbins, Parks, Recreation and Conservation, at 813-635-3500.

Visit the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department online at for information on all their programs and services. Sign-up under Notify Me to receive News Flashes and announcements from the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department.

Posted: 10/19/2012
New Historic Marker To Be Unveiled Honoring Temple Terrace Founder Bertha Palmer

What:  Woodmont Clubhouse Historic Marker Presentation and Open House
When:  Monday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m.
Where: 415 Woodmont Ave., Temple Terrace

The first historic marker in Hillsborough County with a photograph will be dedicated to the historical significance of Temple Terrace founder Bertha Palmer and the only Palmer structure remaining in Temple Terrace - the Woodmont Clubhouse - on Monday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m. The event will be held at the Woodmont Clubhouse and Woodmont Park Gazebo, 415 Woodmont Ave. in Temple Terrace.
The public is invited to the formal dedication ceremony followed by an Open House of the clubhouse and grounds, hosted by the Woodmont Clubhouse Association, Inc.

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