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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


  1. Techsoft Academy to teach software to bloggers, business owners


    DADE CITY — Last month, Thomas Giella Jr. launched Techsoft Academy, a business he hopes will meet a need for business owners and bloggers whose work requires the use of lots of software — confidence.

    "Anyone can set up a blog," said Giella, 30. "Kids can do it; adults can do it."

    But, he said, the technology a person has to navigate after that can be overwhelming.

    "People don't know unless they're told," he said....

    Courtesy of Janel Norton Thomas Giella Jr., 30, the owner of Techsoft Academy, receives the third place award from Krista Covey of the Pasco Economic Development Council at the recent SMARTstart Challenge.
  2. Nonprofit 'farm' for single moms celebrates five years

    Human Interest


    Christine Collins smiled as she held Sierra Illes' infant in the kitchen at the Pay It Forward Farm, a nonprofit organization assisting struggling single moms in Pasco and Hernando counties.

    Collins, 55, founded the group. Last year, it served 16 single moms and 46 children. Currently, the organization serves six single moms and 11 kids. This week, it celebrates its five-year anniversary....

    “Becoming a single mom saved my life. It’s a motivator to have somebody you’re responsible for. I made it a priority to finish my education, and have a better life.”
Christine Collins, founder
  3. Ignoring naysayers, J. Joseph Salon owner opens second Pasco location in Lutz


    LUTZ — Roy Naccour was 25 when he bought J. Joseph Salon. The stylist, now 33, opened the salon's second location last year — a mark of success that might have taken some naysayers by surprise.

    "Nobody knew whether I was going to make it, especially being so young," Naccour said.

    But, he said, he worked hard.

    Naccour was born in Lebanon and raised in Sweden, where he decided after attending a hair show that he would become a stylist. He studied there to become a stylist and started doing hair professionally at age 16. At 18, he moved to Land O'Lakes, where his dad lived and he liked the weather....

    Roy Naccour, now 33, was just 25 when he bought the first J. Joseph Salon in Land O’Lakes.
  4. Veterans Alternative Therapy Center wins inaugural SMARTstart Challenge


    NEW PORT RICHEY — The owners of Veterans Alternative Therapy Center stood on a wooden stage in front of a panel of judges.

    As contestants in the inaugural SMARTstart Challenge, a Shark Tank-style pitch competition that began in November, Brian Anderson and Janel Norton had 10 minutes to prove that Veterans Alternative Therapy, which provides alternative therapy for veterans, is a viable business worthy of financial support....

    Janel Norton and Brian Anderson, co-founders of Veterans Alternative Therapy Center, leave the stage with a $5,000 check.
  5. Skin care expert promotes health, wellness through treatments, downtime


    LAND O'LAKES — While Lori Ellis worked as a registered nurse in the 1990s, a lot of her colleagues studied skin care so they could assist doctors who conducted skin-related cosmetic procedures.

    At first, she had no interest. But she decided to study it anyway. What she learned resulted in the business she started in 1999: Healing Touch Skin Care and Wellness Center.

    "Our skin is our largest organ; it takes a lot of abuse," said Ellis, 54, who maintains her nursing license but is now a medical aesthetician....

    Lori Ellis, 54, is a medical aesthetician and owns Healing Touch Skin Care and Wellness Center.
  6. 'Big Mike' from 'The Blind Side' combats bullying in Pasco talk Tuesday


    Quinton Aaron, the actor who starred as Michael Oher — a.k.a. "Big Mike" — in The Blind Side alongside Sandra Bullock, will give a talk about bullying at Saint Leo University in Pasco County. Aaron was bullied as a kid and is the founder of the Quinton Aaron Foundation, which focuses on bullying and childhood obesity. He will share his story at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Greenfelder-Denlinger Boardrooms at the university's Student Community Center, 33701 State Road 52, St. Leo. Free. For information, call (352) 588-8268 or email — Arleen Spenceley, Times staff writer...

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 12: Actor Quinton Aaron attends The Weinstein Company & Netflix's 2014 Golden Globes After Party presented by Bombardier, FIJI Water, Lexus, Laura Mercier, Marie Claire and Yucaipa Films at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
  7. Pasco business bridges the gap between patients and doctors


    WESLEY CHAPEL — When a colleague of Travis Bond's divulged her daughter's diagnosis of a rare autoimmune disease in 2010, he learned how a chronic illness affects a family.

    "All of a sudden, (she) had like 12 (medical) providers in three different states," said Bond, 47, who lives in Lutz.

    No quick way existed for the girl's mother to report to each doctor what all of the others had done. So, in 2011, Bond created one, called CareSync....

    Travis Bond, 47, founder and CEO of CareSync, says the app gives patients access to their records.
  8. Events honor Martin Luther King Jr. in Pasco County


    As the nation marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, several events in Pasco County will honor the slain civil rights leader.

    The African-American Club of Pasco will host a celebration at 10:30 a.m., beginning with a symbolic march from Union Missionary Baptist Church, 6235 Pine Hill Road, Port Richey, to the former Booker T. Washington School, 6105 Pine Hill Road. A speech will follow by Imani Asukile, the director of multicultural student affairs and equity services for Pasco-Hernando State College and president of the African-American Heritage Society of East Pasco....

    The African American Club of Pasco  marches in honor of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Jan. 20, 2014. This year's march begins at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.
  9. Pasco veterinary hospital gets new digs


    Spotlight | San Francis Veterinary Hospital

    SPRING HILL — Last month, San Francis Veterinary Hospital got new digs: a 4,400-square-foot facility, more than double the size of the hospital's previous site.

    Under its new roof, said veterinarian and hospital owner Dr. Carlos Campos, he and the hospital's five other vets aim to provide a service important to pet owners: "taking care of their babies."...

    Dr. Carlos Campos, 41, is the owner of and one of six vets at San Francis Veterinary Hospital. 
  10. Pasco woman brings salon experience to your home


    ZEPHYRHILLS — Amber Thomas Bateman knows that lots of women and men over the age of 55 are happy to have a pedicure.

    "Even if they don't go out much, it makes them feel better about themselves," she said.

    So Bateman, who has been a nail technician for about three years, has started a business that caters to older people in the privacy of their homes: Z-Hills Mobile Mani Pedi.

    Bateman, 47, provides manicures, pedicures and other salon services — including nail art, gel manicures and acrylic nails — at clients' homes in Zephyrhills, Wesley Chapel and Dade City. For an additional travel fee, she takes clients in west Pasco. She serves people of all ages, but specializes in clients who are over 55....

    Nail tech Amber Thomas Bateman specializes in clients who are over 55.
  11. New Pasco gym uses kickboxing, fast pace to foster fitness


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Anita Jones-Hilliard is a chemical engineer. But she's also a fitness enthusiast. So when she decided it was time for a change, she left her job in computer-based reliability modeling and opened a kickboxing gym.

    The gym, 9Round, has been open since October and is a franchise.

    Jones-Hilliard, 45, first got interested in fitness as a teen.

    "I was a chunky, chubby little girl," she said....

    Anita Jones-Hilliard, 45, created 9Round, a new kickboxing gym in New Port Richey.
  12. Spring Hill man's documentary, 'In Their War,' preserves veterans' WWII stories

    The Feed


    In his dimly lit home office, Matt Wilcox pointed at the black and white pictures of naval ships and soldiers pasted to the black pages of a spiral-bound book. It belonged to his grandfather, who operated gyroscopes during World War II.

    Wilcox, 25, has studied the war since he was a kid. He collects photos and letters, and decided a year ago to use them to create a documentary called In Their War. The movie's first segment, about the attack on Pearl Harbor 73 years ago, will premiere Sunday on local TV....

    “I hope that people are entertained, that they learn something new and that they go out and do some research on their own.” Matt Wilcox,  on his  documentary
  13. Land O'Lakes business can add bling to your wardrobe


    Spotlight | Cydne Pie Creations

    LAND O'LAKES — Cydne Pie Creations is family owned and built on a fun foundation: bling.


    "Everybody likes a little glitter," co-owner Cyndi Walker said.

    Two years ago, Walker, 49; her sister, Gynnifer Burnett, 39; and their mother, Darlene Goodman, 72, opened the shop. It is named after Walker's 9-year-old niece, Cydne, and sells custom items decorated with rhinestones and glitter vinyl....

    Cyndi Walker, 49, co-owns Cydne Pie Creations in Land O’Lakes with her mother and sister.
  14. Pasco entrepreneurs to compete for support in launching a business


    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....

  15. Spring Hill couple co-stars in TLC's 90 Day Fiancé

    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....

    Jason Hitch and Cassia Tavares met online two years ago through a mutual Facebook friend, and are now engaged.