Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

Sunday Conversation: a homecoming of sorts for Hillsborough's new director of animal services

For the new director of Hillsborough County Animal Services, moving to Tampa meant moving home. • A native of Riverview, Ian Hallett, 35, spent the last several years in Austin, Texas, working as the deputy chief animal services officer for the city. • When the Hillsborough County job became available, Hallett jumped at the chance to bring his wife and 3-year-old son to Florida. Recently, Tampa Bay Times staff writer Shelley Rossetter sat down with Hallett to find out why the move filled him with nostalgia for his childhood home but left him pining for the vibrant city he left behind.

What was it like to grow up here?

My wife and I both went to Hillsborough High School together — which is how we met, even though we really only lived a mile apart. We were in the International Baccalaureate program, so we both moved from a rural area to going to school in the inner city.

We were in the program with people from all over Asia and somebody from Africa and some European people as well, and then we were in an inner city high school that was predominantly minority populations: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, African-Americans and actually, quite a significant Asian population. So we really got thrown into a melting pot and we loved it.

Now that you're back in Tampa, where did you decide to settle down at?

We are now in Temple Terrace. We initially wanted to move back near Hillsborough High School but then my mom said we should live near her, which we thought was a horrible idea. That is, until she told us that she could come over and watch our toddler in the evenings so that we could do stuff. Then suddenly that sounded like a really good idea.

So, now we are living in Temple Terrace. My mom lives in the same complex so she comes over and my wife and I get to go bike riding, get coffee or go see a movie. We're very happy in Temple Terrace.

How much has Tampa changed since you moved away?

I last lived here for about a year in 2002. What's really wild about Tampa is that none of the stuff that was here in 2002 has gone away, there's just new stuff next to it. Like this plaza at the corner of Falkenburg Road and Highway 60 looks exactly like it did when I left, which is crazy.

I think probably the perfect analogy is that in the plaza with Subway and Office Depot and Home Depot, nothing has really changed. There's the post office, then the First Choice Bar-B-Que, but now there's also a Jamaican restaurant and a Vietnamese boba tea shop.

So I think that kind of sums Tampa up almost, that it has become the thing I love most about it: how international it is. So the changes that I've seen here, just around the corner, really reflect that.

What brought you back to Tampa Bay?

I really loved Austin. I miss it. I cried when we left. The city is just amazing. So it's a combination of being home for me and the opportunity. If it hadn't been both together, I wouldn't have done it.

There is definitely a huge amount of nostalgia for me here. Now I'm getting to show my son the things I grew up with. He has been to the beach, which he loves, and he swims in a pool. He loves the water and that is how I grew up — always in the water. So it's fun to watch my son learn the same and to grow up in the same place I did and experience the things I did as a child.

What else do you look forward to doing with your son here?

Taking him to eat at different places that you can't find in Austin, like a Jamaican restaurant. Or to be around people that are so much different than us.

Austin has a large Mexican-American population, so there is a different culture — the Tex-Mex culture — but that's all there is. Whereas when I flew in to Tampa for the job, the cab driver spoke Haitian (Creole); there's Spanish everywhere and on the radio stations, which we don't really have in Austin. And here, he goes to a Montessori school and if you read names from his class, it sounds like an international school. It's neat.

What do you miss most about Texas?

What I really miss is the public transportation. We only owned one car until we moved here and had to buy a second car. I would ride my bike to work — it was 8 miles away and it was a very safe ride.

We had light rail, and it was a mile away from my house. I would ride my bike there and put my bike on the train then get off a mile before work and ride my bike.

Austin also had a car sharing program that had 300 cars that you could pick up anywhere you found one. They had a GPS phone app where you could track where the cars were, and I could actually put my bike in the car.

So I was riding the bus, riding light rail, doing car sharing, riding my bike and walking. It was amazing.

Then I moved from that to the most dangerous place to be a cyclist or pedestrian in the whole country. So that part really bums me out. If there was anything I'd like to see come to Hillsborough County, it's that.

Sunday Conversation is edited for clarity and brevity.

Comments
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with ďa lot to be excited aboutí

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with ďa lot to be excited aboutí

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the Capitals.Ge...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Hurricane hunters to investigate potential tropical system that could drench Tampa Bay

Hurricane hunters to investigate potential tropical system that could drench Tampa Bay

TAMPAó A hurricane hunter plane will investigate the area of low pressure in the Caribbean this afternoon as the likelihood increased that it will become the hurricane seasonís first tropical system.The reconnaissance plane will fly over the area to ...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Fatal pedestrian crash closes SB lanes on U.S. 19 in Hudson

PORT RICHEYó The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian at U.S. 19 and New York Avenue, in Hudson. Troopers said a vehicle hit an unidentified pedestrian. One person has died, according to troopers.According to b...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Two accused of turning St. Petersburg test drive into carjacking

Two accused of turning St. Petersburg test drive into carjacking

MADEIRA BEACH ó Two men were arrested Thursday after a carjacking during a test drive led to a crash on Gulf Boulevard less than an hour later, according to the Pinellas County Sheriffís Office. According to deputies, 30-year-old Robert Gajate went t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Indianapolis 500: How Danica Patrick changed racing

Indianapolis 500: How Danica Patrick changed racing

Tampa's Carlie Yent was at a racing banquet a few years ago when someone asked her to name the driver who influenced her the most.The answer was easy and obvious: Danica Patrick."She was someone I could look up to," Yent said, "and she was the most i...
Updated: 2 hours ago
After Danica Patrick, why arenít there more women in auto racing?

After Danica Patrick, why arenít there more women in auto racing?

If you assumed Danica Patrick's success would lead to a tidal wave of female drivers into racing's top series, you're not alone."I kind of thought the Danica thing would bring out a lot of people, honestly," said Tampa's Megan Rae Meyer, a 21-year-ol...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Latest on potential tropical system; taking action along dangerous Bayshore Boulevard; Denis Philips talks hurricanes and beer; Memorial Day things to do

The Daystarter: Latest on potential tropical system; taking action along dangerous Bayshore Boulevard; Denis Philips talks hurricanes and beer; Memorial Day things to do

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē Todayís forecast calls for warm and humid weather up until lunch time. Then in the late afternoon thereís an up to 80 percent chance of thundershowers and the rain wonít let up until ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR ó Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."Itís got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. Thatís not bad." Indeed, thereís a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Felled by fire, popular tower at Wall Springs Park to reopen soon

Felled by fire, popular tower at Wall Springs Park to reopen soon

PALM HARBOR ó The long, strange saga of the Wall Springs Park observation tower is finally coming to a close as county officials hope the rebuilt structure, along with refurbished decking leading up to it, will be open in time for the Fourth of July....
Updated: 4 hours ago