Archived Blogs & Articles

Posted: 9/4/2012
Hillsborough County Taking Part In National School Lunch And Breakfast Program

Hillsborough County Department of Family & Aging Services will be a sponsor of the National School Lunch Program for the 2012-13 school year. Eligible children will receive meals at no cost. The Program is administered through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Program meets nutrition standards as reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans under The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. The guidelines are available at

All students attending the Dorothy Thomas School, 3215 Nundy Road in Tampa on the Department of Family & Aging Services Lake Magdalene Campus, will receive forms and information with their school packet on the first day of school. Household size and income criteria will be used to determine eligibility.

As part of the free and reduced meal policy, an official with the Hillsborough County Department Family & Aging Services will review applications and determine eligibility. If a parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the ruling of the official, he or she may wish to discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. If the parent wishes to make a formal appeal, he or she may make a request either orally or in writing to:


Director, Office of Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

or call 800-795-3272 or 202-720-6382 (TTY)

Hillsborough County Department of Family & Aging Services is dedicated to ensuring the best possible care and treatment for children and families by offering a wide range of programs to provide care and treatment for abused, neglected, abandoned, severely emotionally disturbed and runaway children and their families in Hillsborough County. Dorothy Thomas School students receive assistance and services from the Department of Family & Aging Services.

For more information or a copy of the application, parents and guardians should contact the Administration Office at Dorothy Thomas School, 813-975-7355.

Posted: 8/23/2012
Sandbags Available At All County Service Units Starting on Aug. 23

Hillsborough County is making sandbags available to the public from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., starting tomorrow morning (Aug. 23) at all three County Public Works Service Units:

o West Service Unit - 9805 Sheldon Road

o South Service Unit – 8718 Old Big Bend Road

o East Service Unit – 4702 Sydney Road

Filled sandbags will be available to the elderly/disabled. Sandbag materials will be available to those physically able to make their own. Additionally, each citizen must sign their name and provide their home address acknowledging the receipt of 25 sandbags or less.

Citizens also can call 813-635-5400 to report flooding/road problems or request additional information.

To receive the latest emergency and news announcements via email or text from Hillsborough County, sign up on the County's website.

Posted: 8/23/2012
University Area Community Plan Update to be Presented Sept. 27th

An Open House for the University Area Community Plan update is scheduled for Thursday, September 27th at the University Area Community Center, 14013 North 22nd Street in Tampa from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This Plan Update will focus on the most important areas to continue this progress into the next decade. Since early 2011, the Planning Commission worked with citizens, businesses and community stakeholders to draft the University Area Community Plan Update. The major topics the draft plan addresses include:

  • Improving residential neighborhood bicycle and pedestrian connection
  • Job opportunities and economic development
  • Redevelopment potential
  • Housing alternatives
  • Crime prevention
The Planning Commission wants to know if it have we missed anything important to you, whether residents agree or disagree to the Vision, Goals and Strategies being proposed. To make your opinions know, attend this important meeting.


The Planning Commission, Hillsborough County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 18th Floor, Tampa, FL.33602
phone:(813) 272-5940.

Posted: 8/13/2012
Hillsborough County To Celebrate Electric Car Charging Station Initiative On Dec. 12

Join Hillsborough County to celebrate the installation of the County’s first electric car charging station, located at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico. The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 12. This electric car charging station is the first of several to be installed at County facilities over the coming months.

This effort, led by Commissioner Mark Sharpe, District 7 Countywide, serves to develop infrastructure for increased electric vehicle use by consumers seeking cleaner and cheaper energy alternatives. Commissioner Sharpe stated, “This effort supports both business and consumer needs, while moving us toward energy independence.” Various local car dealerships are already bringing electric vehicles to their show room floors, and even more have plans to bring electric vehicles into stock.

In June, the County Commission approved participation in a two-year Department of Energy grant opportunity to install ChargePoint electric car charging stations, which are provided to the County free of charge. The County will cover the cost of installation and electric usage at the charging stations.

The County plans to install additional electric car charging stations at:

- Two at the County Center Public Parking Garage (aka Pierce Street Garage) at 319 N. Pierce St. in Tampa

- Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, 3629 Queen Palm Drive in Tampa

- Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave. in Tampa Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S. Manhattan Ave. in Tampa

- Plant CityCourthouse, 301 North Michigan Ave. in Plant City

Each charging station will be connected to an online network that allows drivers to use their computer or smartphone to locate stations nationwide, see which are in use, and the service fee for use. There will be no cost to electric vehicle drivers to get a charge at Hillsborough County’s electric car charging stations during the two-year grant period; they will only be required to pay the existing parking rate (if applicable) at the given locations. Each station will be able to charge electric vehicles from all major car makers.

At the end of the grant period, Commissioners can decide if they will keep the existing units and pay for their maintenance and upkeep, and for connection to the nationwide charging station network.

The grant program is part of Coulomb Technologies’ expansion of its $37 million ChargePoint America initiative to more U.S. cities. As a result, electric car charging stations are being installed throughout Florida and the Tampa Bay area, including at the St. Pete Times Forum, Hillsborough Community College, and various locations sponsored by the City of Tampa. The ChargePoint America program is part of a $15 million grant administered by the Department of Energy and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative.

To learn about Hillsborough County’s energy efficiency and alternative fuel efforts, visit

Posted: 8/1/2012
"Hortense the Beautiful" Gets a Facelift
News Image

She's almost a hundred years old but not too old to get a facelift. They call her "Hortense the Beautiful" and she's the old city hall clock tower in Downtown Tampa. She's been an iconic image for the city and has been under much needed renovations.

From ground level, Hortense the Beautiful may not seem to show her age. But standing ten stories high on metal scaffolding, up close and personal, you can see every blemish on her face.

The 1915 clock tower needed its leaky copper roof and dome replaced. Cracked terracotta had to be patched. The clock even needed new hands.

"This is a view most people don't see of the dome of city hall," said Dennis Fernandez, city historic preservation manager.

...story continues on

Photo credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Read about the history of Hortense the Beautiful on

Posted: 7/9/2012
Hillsborough Businesses, Non-Profits Eligible for Loans to Recover Economic Losses from Debby

Hillsborough County small businesses, including small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture businesses, as well as most private non-profit organizations of all sizes, may apply for the US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans to recover from financial, working capital losses caused by Tropical Storm Debby. Landlords who have lost revenue from their rental properties are also eligible. This Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage. At this time, Hillsborough County businesses and non-profits are not eligible for cost recovery for any physical storm damage.

Interest rates are as low as 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. The deadline to return economic injury applications is April 3, 2013.

Additional details on the loan application process and eligibility are in the attached fact sheet, and also by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, 800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, or by sending an e-mail to Impacted businesses may apply online using Electronic Loan Application on the SBA’s secure website (link below).

Individual homeowners suffering home damages can seek assistance from Hillsborough County's Homeowner Rehabilitation Program by calling 813-612-5397. To be considered for other disaster assistance, call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 800-621-FEMA (3362), (TTY) 800-462-7585 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Small Business Administration's Emergency Loan Application page

Posted: 6/28/2012
Missed the Bus? There's an App for That

Idea for catching a HART bus wins Tampa tech contest.

A team of web developers spent the weekend creating a program that will help riders keep up with the HART bus schedule and avoid long waits.

The text message program by team SPARKTECH was the $1,000 winner in the first city-sponsored Hack-A-Thon. Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced the winners Wednesday.

Click here to read the entire story on Tampa Bay Times

Posted: 6/5/2012
Free Vision Screening for Youth

Prevent Blindness Florida will be providing free vision screening (a $23 value) for children and youth ages 2-18. No appointment is necessary. To those who qualify, assistance will be provided for glasses and exams. For dates and times click the link below:

Posted: 6/5/2012
Hillsborough Public Meeting on Proposed Management Plan for the Lower Green Swamp Preserve

Hillsborough County will conduct a meeting to receive public comment on the proposed management plan for the Lower Green Swamp Preserve. The public meeting will be held at the Lower Green Swamp Preserve, 3536 East Knights Griffin Road in Plant City, on April 7 at 10 a.m.

Join us, learn about the preserve give us your feedback. The proposed management plan includes management of natural plant communities, wildlife management, habitat restoration, and recreational use. County staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Posted: 6/5/2012
Fairytales and Frogs - A Royal Celebration of Frog Conservation Sunday April 29

Lowry Park Zoo is hosting its first ever Fairytales and Frogs event!

Come dressed as your favorite fairytale character for a day of discovery and fun with frogs. Meet royal frogs and toads, and zookeepers who care for them. There is a VIP Tea Party and live entertainment by Radio Disney. The event starts at 11am and ends at 5 pm.

April is National Frog Month, dedicated to amphibian education and conservation action. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is currently one of 40 FrogWatch USA Chapters across the country, hosted by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and other like-minded organizations. FrogWatch USA allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads.

It is estimated that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Volunteers of FrogWatch USA can help scientists understand which frogs and toads may be increasingly common or in decline throughout the United States.

To learn more, visit the Zoo’s Harrell Discovery Center, presented by Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, featuring dozens of amazing amphibians from around the world. These exhibits, which call attention to the global amphibian crisis, are complemented by the Frog Listening Network, an interactive display which introduces visitors to both Florida native and non-native frogs and the calls they make.

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