Pasco County entrepreneurs who have hoped for help launching a business have a shot to get it.
The SMARTstart Challenge is a competition being sponsored by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, the Pasco Economic Development Council, the city of New Port Richey Economic Development Department and SCORE. It is inspired in part by ABC's Shark Tank.
"If you've got a great idea for a business or you've got a business that needs support, consider applying for the SMARTstart challenge," said Chip Wichmanowski, president of the west Pasco chamber....
11/13/14 The Feed
Jason Hitch smiled as Cassia Tavares tugged on his blue, striped shirt. She smiled as he told his side of their story.
Hitch is from the United States; Tavares is from Brazil. He is 38; she is 23. When she suggested they date, he resisted. When he dated her anyway, they wound up engaged.
Then Hitch discovered 90 Day Fiancé, a TLC television docu-series that features Americans who are engaged to partners outside the country. The non-American half of the couple uses a K-1 "fiance visa" to move to the United States, but the visa comes with a catch: Wed within 90 days or be deported....
HUDSON — Tammy Viergutz likes to hear how customers refer to her sandwiches:
"The best in town," she said.
If you care to try one, Viergutz, 53, sells them — plus cold cuts, salads and pastries — at the deli she has owned since 2013: My Deli Button.
The deli opened two years ago this month, and Viergutz, who previously worked in banking, acquired it when the original owner retired....
Steve Bockus used a Bunsen burner's blue flame to do battle with a stubborn, stainless-steel flute. • He lowered the woodwind instrument into the fire, then tested its keys. • Still stuck. So Bockus persisted. • It's his job as owner of the Brass and Woodwind Shop, where, at benches buried by all of his tools, his work — fixing brass and woodwind instruments — makes music possible. • His interest in music dates back to when he was about 10. From his bedroom window, he heard live big band music from the fairgrounds near his house in New Hampshire. • "I was fascinated," he said. • So in fifth grade, he got a trumpet and joined the school band....
PORT RICHEY — After a divorce, Al Walker made friends in a singles group at church.
"They talked me into going dancing on a Friday night," said Walker, 65. He enjoyed it, he said, and made a decision: "If I was going to do this, I needed to do it right. So I signed up for some classes."
Now, 15 years after his first dance class, he teaches them as owner of Two Left Feet Entertainment....
WESLEY CHAPEL — In an appointment with an allergist, hairdresser Star Ryan got the bad news: The hair products she used at work were irritating her eyes, throat and lungs. Her line of work was exacerbating her allergies.
Then she did her research.
That's when Ryan, 62, owner of Star's Organic Spa, learned that the ammonia in products at salons is the same ammonia used in bombs and pesticides. It can cause respiratory problems and has been linked to cancer, she said....
Spotlight | Natural Seal
WESLEY CHAPEL — When bandages in an awkward spot on Dan Opp's hand couldn't seal, the cut underneath it wouldn't heal. When a MRSA infection developed in it and was so serious he had to have surgery, his wife was certain:
"There was nothing we could have done better," said Kerriann Greenhalgh. "Nothing could have prevented it."
Unless, of course, she invented something....
ZEPHYRHILLS — The ninth annual Sister Stroll 2.0 breast cancer walk is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, 7050 Gall Blvd., on the hospital's walking trail. Features food and swag, plus a car show and entertainment. The cost is $15 per person in advance and $20 per person at the event. All proceeds benefit the Simpson Breast Health Center at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills. To register or for information, visit FHZeph.org and click "events," or call toll free, 1-877-534-3108....
Spotlight | JL Video Inc.
TRINITY — On a football field as a sophomore in high school, Jordan Lung tore his right meniscus.
"I loved football so much I played (on it for) half my sophomore year," said Lung, 25. "My junior year, I tore my left meniscus right before our very first game."
Lung, who once had considered playing college football, accepted that his plans would have to change. His coach had an idea:...
09/18/14 Human Interest
LAND O'LAKES — In a text message last year, Jerry Brewster asked John Benedetto to meet to plan the first Land O'Lakes High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction.
Monday seems best, Brewster wrote. Is that an option?
Benedetto, the legendary Land O'Lakes football coach, wrote back.
I'll make it work.
Brewster will never erase those texts, he said. Benedetto died in his sleep five days after the meeting....
Spotlight | Hillbilly Farms
DADE CITY — Rhoda and Ken Mazerolle moved from Maine to Florida to retire. But when the opportunity arose to open a business, the longtime entrepreneurs couldn't resist.
Hillbilly Farms started as a produce stand in 2011 and is now a store and a cafe, named after what people called the Mazerolles when they moved south — "northern hillbillies," said Rhoda Mazerolle, 60. She and Ken, 80, also own a trucking company. Their daughter, Rasha Lowe, 41, oversees daily operations at Hillbilly Farms....
LAND O' LAKES — Players are sought for a 60 and over slow pitch softball league. Players can register and be drafted at 8 a.m. Sept. 12, 19 and 26 on Field 10 at the Collier Park Recreation Center Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway. Games begin Oct. 3rd. For information, call Walt Bockmiller at (813) 527-8211.
TENNIS: A tennis league for male and female players of all ability levels is forming now. Competitions will be in and beyond Pasco County. For information, call Walt Bockmiller at (813) 527-8211....
LUTZ — For a decade, Deb Fry managed military contracts at U.S. Central Command on MacDill Airforce Base.
Then the war ended.
"When the troops pulled out, contracts started disappearing," said Fry, 58.
She left MacDill in 2011, took some time off and then picked a new place to work: at parties. The onetime defense contractor is now a TapSnap franchisee.
"Some people call (TapSnap) a futuristic photo booth," said Fry. "There are no walls, no ceilings, no black curtains."...
08/28/14 Human Interest
DADE CITY — While his laundry spun in a dryer at the Restored Hope resource center, a 47-year-old homeless man sipped coffee from a plastic foam cup and told his story.
James, who did not want to give his last name, designs roof and floor trusses for a living. But the labor pool is small, he said, and he has traveled for 12 years, from one short-term job to another. Recently, while out of work, he stayed with a friend, but she booted him out after a disagreement. He said he is estranged from family and wouldn't want to burden relatives by asking for help anyway....
Spotlight RN Cancer Guides
WESLEY CHAPEL — Susan Scherer and Angelique Neumann know cancer. Scherer is an oncology nurse, and Neumann is a cancer survivor.
Their experiences sparked a question: How can we get people (who have cancer) through the hardest time of their lives?
The pair opened RN Cancer Guides in 2013 to be the answer.
The firm matches people who have cancer with "cancer guides" — oncology-certified nurses who help clients and their families "navigate all the emotional, medical and financial barriers to treatment," Scherer, 46 said. "Our job is to 'bubble wrap' our patients."...