Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Epilogue: Former Plant City mayor remembered for knowing and making local history

PLANT CITY — Terry Ballard was an encyclopedic source of this city's history. It was his hobby, friends say, and it helped shape his work and relationships.

"I would term him 'Mr. Local History,' " said Shelby Bender, 62, president and executive director of the East Hillsborough Historical Society. "I really would."

Mr. Ballard, a former Plant City mayor and commissioner, Florida Strawberry Festival president and retired brigadier general in the Florida Army National Guard, died on June 22. He was 79.

While mayor and commissioner in the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Ballard leaned on his knowledge of local history to make decisions, said Michael Sparkman, an on-and-off Plant City commissioner since 1989.

"He was very thoughtful," said Sparkman, 71. "He did his homework. He was kind of a historian."

To Mr. Ballard, who was born in Tampa, one of the most important goals was to spend city money wisely, Sparkman said.

"He spent the city taxpayer dollars like he would spend his own," Sparkman said.

But that doesn't mean Mr. Ballard was always tight with money. During his banking career at Hillsboro, SunTrust and Wells Fargo banks, he would sometimes help out people who couldn't qualify for loans, Sparkman said.

Plant City residents considered Mr. Ballard family, said his daughter Renita Boles, 52. Her father "could talk to anybody," she said.

"They were his equal," Boles said. "It didn't matter who you are. He cared about you and what you were going through in your life."

It's common to come across people in Plant City that Mr. Ballard helped, said Rick Lott, Plant City's mayor.

Lott, 55, said his brother was among those who received a loan from Mr. Ballard.

"Everyone has a story like that," he said, "Where somehow or another he had a hand in creating the next step in life."

One of Lott's first interactions with Mr. Ballard was when he made add-on donations toward the livestock Lott would show as a teenager during the annual Strawberry Festival.

Mr. Ballard was similarly generous with his knack for local history, Bender said. He would often drop by the historical society to share tidbits of Plant City lore.

Mr. Ballard was always on the quest for more knowledge to make decisions that would shape Plant City's future, Lott said.

Even while serving on the Strawberry Festival board of directors later in life, he said, Mr. Ballard was pragmatic.

"He got all the facts, and once he got all the facts he made the decision that was right for the city or the organization," Lott said. "If it wasn't good for everybody, it wasn't a good decision."

That steadfast sense of right and wrong made him "the city's rock," said daughter Teresa Salo, 56.

The irony, Lott said, was that through those decisions and his lifetime of public service, Mr. Ballard himself became a major historical figure in Plant City.

"He was the city's historian, but what made it unique is that he didn't just know the history," Lott said. "He was part of it."

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Samuel Howard at (813) 226-3373 or [email protected] Follow @SamuelHHoward.

Comments
Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Haley Loeun, a top aide to the embattled leader of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards, was fired Thursday from her $130,000-a-year position as business services director.Loeun came under criticism after the Tampa Bay Times reported that employ...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

One week after a mass shooter Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Broward’s top cop on Thursday revealed a stunning series of failures by the sheriff’s department.A school campus cop heard the gunfire, rushed to the ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

TAMPA — Across Interstate 4 from Ybor City’s nightlife, another part of the historic neighborhood has an odor less nostalgic — and much less pleasant — than cigar smoke and roasting coffee beans.V.M. Ybor, named after the Spaniard who founded the cit...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention — the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House — CNN’s Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republican’s affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Second stripper, same commissioner: Hernando County official’s home site of domestic dispute

Second stripper, same commissioner: Hernando County official’s home site of domestic dispute

SPRING HILL — Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson is in the midst of another personal controversy that is reminiscent of his relationship several years ago with a stripper who used drugs.A couple who rents a room in Nicholson’s home got into ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trump’s club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trump’s club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, the gala’s organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Updated: 3 hours ago