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Arleen Spenceley, Times Staff Writer

Arleen Spenceley

Arleen Spenceley is an editorial assistant and staff writer for the Pasco Times edition of the Tampa Bay Times. Before she joined the staff in July 2007, she wrote as a Times correspondent in Hernando and Pasco counties for three and a half years. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2007 and continued to work for the Times until Dec. 2012, when she resigned — albeit reluctantly — to finish her master's degree. She graduated with her M.A. in rehabilitation and mental health counseling in May 2013 and happily returned to the Times staff in November.

Phone: (727) 869-6235

E-mail: aspenceley@tampabay.com

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  1. Patrons can 'feel good,' sip tea at downtown New Port Richey tea room

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The White Heron Tea Room and Gifts seats only 12.

    It is tiny, admits owner Kelly Hackman. But that doesn't affect the goal Hackman has had for the "quaint, Florida-style gift shop and tea room" since she opened it last month.

    "I want you to feel good when you leave," she said.

    Hackman, 37, worked for the last two years as the executive director of Chasco Fiesta. She also has worked for the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, as a marketing director for Greater New Port Richey Main Street and as a youth pastor at her church....

    Kelly Hackman, 37, owns the White Heron Tea and Gifts in New Port Richey.
  2. Events scheduled to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

    Events

    Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and several events in Pasco County will commemorate the slain civil rights leader.

    A Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club of Lacoochee, 38724 Mudcat Grant Blvd. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Proceeds will fund scholarships.

    A parade will start at 9 a.m. Monday and travel through Lachoochee from Cummers Road and U.S. 301 to the Boys and Girls Club, where a commemorative program will start at 11 a.m. Those attending are asked to bring lawn chairs. Refreshments will be served....

    Marchers observe the Pledge of Allegiance during the raising of the colors at Chester McKay VFW Post during the African American Club of Pasco’s and the city of New Port Richey’s Happy Birthday, Martin! event in 2013 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [Douglas R. Clifford, Times]
  3. Arc Nature Coast needs funds for Neff Lake campus construction

    News

    BROOKSVILLE

    Mark Barry crossed the hall between classrooms during a tour of a building that once was a farmhouse.

    But since 1992, it has been the enrichment center at the Arc Nature Coast's Neff Lake campus, which was a chicken farm in the 1950s. The house is also a money pit, says Barry, who has been the Arc's director for 23 years.

    The nonprofit organization is a chapter of the Arc of the United States, which provides services for adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities....

    “It’s so difficult for our staff to manage wheelchairs and walkers and people with ambulatory issues in these facilities.They were never built that way and we’re serving and seeing more and more of those individuals.” Mark Barry, ARC executive director
  4. Pasco CARES president/CEO Bill Aycrigg retires after 28 years

    Human Interest

    HUDSON — Twenty-eight years ago, Bill Aycrigg got a job at CARES, a nonprofit organization that provides services and promotes independence for aging adults in Pasco County.

    He started the gig with a goal to make an impact in Pasco.

    "I wanted to lead and design services and programs that helped the local community," he said.

    And, for nearly three decades, he did. It ended last week when Aycrigg retired as the organization's president and CEO....

    Bill Aycrigg worked at the nonprofit for nearly three decades.
  5. Once just a dream, Pasco business now builds video games for all ages

    Business

    LUTZ — As a child, Adam Bohn had a hobby that one day would become his career.

    "I was obsessive about video games," Bohn, 39, said.

    It started with an arcade game at a grocery store. Then, he got a computer and a video game console.

    He liked to play the games, but he also wanted to create them.

    "I shoveled snow to get money to buy programming books," said Bohn, who grew up in Pennsylvania....

    Adam Bohn, 39, owns Artix Entertainment, a company that creates video games.
  6. Honesty, communication, respect led to 73 years of marriage, Hudson couple says

    Human Interest

    HUDSON

    On the love seat in their Hudson living room, Bessie and Bob Bianchi tell their story.

    She is 92; he is 95.

    They met as neighbors in a Washington Heights apartment building in Manhattan. He was 15 and played jacks and hopscotch with her. She was 12 and didn't like him.

    But "I told my mother, 'I'm going to marry that girl,'" Bob said.

    And he did — 73 years ago Sunday....

    Bob and Bessie Bianchi of Hudson married in 1942, seen on their wedding day in the frame Bessie holds. They will celebrate their anniversary Sunday.
  7. Local filmmaker's dream is to showcase Florida in project shot at Weeki Wachee Springs

    The Feed

    WEEKI WACHEE

    Bobby Marinelli stopped short en route to the underwater theater. He turned toward the actor who walked beside him.

    "Where's your tail?" he asked.

    She grabbed it and carried it to the dock between Buccaneer Bay and the theater, where she would play the role of a Weeki Wachee mermaid in an effort to help Marinelli pursue his dream.

    Marinelli is a filmmaker who, with a volunteer cast and crew, took three days at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park last month to shoot a four-minute sizzle reel — a trailer for a movie he hasn't made yet....

    Director Bobby Marinelli, right, talks with mermaid actor Emmy Buckner and Derrick Aguis, left, between takes outside the Mermaid Theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
  8. 'Good Cemeterian' volunteers to restore veterans' headstones

    Human Interest

    LUTZ

    At the Lutz Cemetery, Andrew Lumish kneeled in the grass over a World War II veteran's grave. Under a gray sky, he used a soft bristle brush to scrub the headstone.

    It had been darkened by "mold, mildew and 40 plus years of weather," Lumish said.

    He wanted to fix that, to honor a veteran whose stone had been forgotten. Doing that, he said, is his hobby.

    A few years ago, Lumish, 45, of Land O'Lakes, whose other hobby is photography, carried a camera into the Oaklawn Cemetery, an aged Tampa burial ground. ...

    Andrew Lumish washes away decades of dirt from a World War II veteran’s headstone. For more than two years, the history buff has voluntarily restored markers.
  9. Zephyrhills woman competes in 'the Super Bowl of bodybuilding'

    Human Interest

    ZEPHYRHILLS — In 2009, Jennifer Taylor paid $250 to a kickboxing gym — the entry fee for its body transformation contest.

    "I was unhappy with the way I looked," Taylor said.

    Taylor, 42, thought if she paid to be part of a contest, the results she wanted would follow.

    They did — and then some. She won, and found a passion for the sport in which she competed last month at Mr. Olympia 2015 in Las Vegas: bodybuilding....

    Jennifer Taylor, 42, recently competed in the Mr. Olympia competition in Las Vegas.
  10. Short film aims to show the 'hip' side of Dade City

    Tourism

    DADE CITY

    Tim Moore knelt in front of the counter at the back of Bonita Flower Shop. • He pointed his camera at the fruit of a floral designer's labor: an arrangement for a custom order — one of several scenes Moore's team from Diamond View Studios shot last week for a film project initiated by Dade City resident Jennifer Frazier. • The final product will be a four- to five-minute film designed to depict what Frazier says too few know about Dade City: that "it's actually pretty hip."...

    Lifelong Dade City resident Sara Ross works on a project at Quilts on Plum Lane in downtown as Diamond View Studios’ Tim Moore, background, and Alvin Renz shoot video last week.
  11. Pasco priest recalls 'beautiful moment' with Pope Francis

    Religion

    SAN ANTONIO — On Sunday morning, the Rev. Garry Welsh took a 10-minute walk along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from a Philadelphia hotel to a security checkpoint.

    There, the Secret Service stopped him.

    Welsh, 48, a Catholic priest and the pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Antonio, presented his credentials: a press pass and a ticket.

    Then, he was on his way — to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis....

    Rev. Garry Welsh, of St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Antonio, concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis in Philadelphia last weekend.
  12. Pasco holster company provides 'self-defense with fashion sense'

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — When Darlene Cahill's husband asked her to take a firearms training course with him, she was hesitant.

    She didn't like guns. She had never even touched one. But the class inspired the business that Cahill, 57, and her business partner, Doug Erickson, 49, co-own: Can Can Concealment.

    The business manufactures hand-sewn concealed carry compression holsters so women can achieve what Cahill sought when she bought a gun....

    Doug Erickson, 49, and Darlene Cahill, 57, co-own Can Can Concealment. Eighty retailers in country sell their holsters.
  13. TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park opens near Dade City

    Business

    DADE CITY

    Jennifer Spicer dodged puddles and mud in the mulch as she stepped into a harness. Sunday's rain had passed, which meant she would get to do what she had hoped: spend time in the trees with her family — a feat made possible by TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park.

    The attraction, which features zip lines and obstacles up to 50 feet in the air, had its grand opening Tuesday. Last weekend, Spicer, 38, got a sneak peek of the park, which is owned by Benjamin Nagengast....

    TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park staff member Cortney Miller navigates one of the courses during Tuesday’s grand opening. The facility features eight courses made up of wooden platforms, rope obstacles and zip lines of varying levels of difficulty.
  14. Big batches of sweets are the feature at That Little Bakery on Grand

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Her bakery is small. But behind the counter, Jess Glass bakes big batches of sweet treats.

    At That Little Bakery on Grand, there are lemon bars. And triple-layer cakes. And cinnamon rolls so big that Glass, 35, calls them cinnamonsters.

    But better than what she bakes is with whom she gets to bake it: her family — a result of her decision to chase a dream....

    Jess Glass, 35, runs That Little Bakery on Grand in New Port Richey with help from her husband, Michael Worssell, 37.
  15. West Pasco Habitat's Kinship Urban Farm is designed to feed and teach

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY

    Eric Stewart walked out of the sun and into the shade on a path between vegetable patches.

    He had dirt on his shirt and sweat in his eyes. But his work as part-time manager of West Pasco Habitat for Humanity's Kinship Urban Farm is worth getting dirty for.

    "This used to be a parking lot," Stewart, 30, said of the half-acre farm. "Now we're growing thousands of pounds of food."...

    Mitchell High School student and farm volunteer Zachary McKinley prepares seeds and soil in pots Friday morning. About 20 regular volunteers show up each week, Stewart said.