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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. 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."...

    Kinship Urban Farm in New Port Richey grows peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and more to give away to those in need.
  2. Merger of Arc Nature Coast and Center for Independence expected to benefit both

    News

    Mark Barry, executive director of the Arc Nature Coast in Hernando County, had discussed a merger with the Center for Independence in Pasco multiple times.

    Both organizations are chapters of the Arc of the United States, which provides services for adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc Nature Coast serves more than 200 people; the Center for Independence serves about 30....

    Mark Barry, executive director of Arc Nature Coast, had made the offer before.
  3. Hot air balloonists provide tranquil rides in Pasco's skies

    Business

    LAND O'LAKES — Many mornings, Jessica Warren stands beside the basket beneath a hot air balloon that will rise with the sun.

    From inside the basket, "the sunrise is spectacular," Warren said.

    The first time she saw one from a balloon is why she and her husband turned what started as a hobby into a business: American Balloons.

    After their wedding in 1996, Warren, 37, and husband Tom, 39, moved to a house in Town 'N Country, where the woman across the street was a hot air balloonist....

    The American Balloons crew, from left: JD Allen, 35, John Conde, 21, Jessica Warren, 37, Tom Warren, 39 and Greg Smalls, 18.
  4. Pasco couple creates custom kegs — out of watermelons

    Business

    LAND O'LAKES — With a carving knife and a commercial kitchen spoon, Steve Stallone perfects his craft, which probably could be the highlight of almost any party: a watermelon keg.

    Stallone and his wife, Chelsea, both 27, co-own a business called Wikid Watermelon.

    Stallone started his culinary career at a couple of chain restaurants, Red Lobster and Cody's Original Roadhouse, in 2003, when he lived in Spring Hill. He later worked at Salishan, a retirement community in Hernando County, where colleagues noticed his knack for decorating buffets with fruit....

    An intricate decorative watermelon carving sits on the table as Wikid Watermelon owner Steve Stallone, 27, customizes a Jumbo Party Keg for a client's birthday. The jumbo watermelon keg includes two gallons of fresh "Nojito", which is Wikid's own watermelon non-alcoholic fresh mojito mix, and comes with the spigot installed and ready.
  5. New Port Richey gas station serves up a different kind of fuel

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Where fast food usually reigns, fresh food has taken root: inside a Pasco County gas station.

    It's "handcrafted barbecue," to be exact, said Dave Weisser, 52, who owns Dave's Pit and Pig.

    The restaurant, which has four tables and 14 chairs inside a Mobil station on Little Road, is the result of a passion that Weisser shares with his wife, Cheri, who manages the restaurant....

    It’s “handcrafted barbecue,” said Dave Weisser, owner of Dave’s Pit & Pig in New Port Richey. The restaurant is the result of a passion Dave Weisser shares with his wife, Cheri Weisser, who manages the restaurant, which is located in a Mobil gas station.
  6. Trinity coffeehouse owner wants to provide a place to build community

    Business

    TRINITY — When Clara Vanderhoof moved from Olympia, Wash., to Florida, she immediately had a question for Floridians.

    "Where are all the coffee shops?"

    Vanderhoof, 50, came from a coffee culture an hour south of Seattle, where coffeehouses are social hubs.

    "Not like the greasy spoon restaurant, not grab your coffee and go," she said. At an authentic coffeehouse, where "people create community."...

    Owner Clara Vanderhoof of Perks Coffeehouse uses local businesses to stock her coffee shop.
  7. Brothers-in-law brew 'good, local craft beer'

    Business

    TRINITY — John McGregor bought a beer kit in college, which marked the start of a hobby — brewing beer.

    Creating ale became a passion he shared with his brother-in-law, Matt Thompson, 39. So, brewing equipment eventually crowded McGregor's three-car garage.

    "I couldn't get one car in there," McGregor, 41, said.

    He had a choice: Store the equipment elsewhere or use it to start a business. McGregor, who worked in software sales at the time, chose the latter....

    John McGregor, 41, and Matt Thompson, 39, co-own Escape Brewing Co., a nanobrewery in Trinity. Their ales are on tap at their tasting room as well as a few Pasco County bars.
  8. Music school in New Port Richey to incorporate as nonprofit

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — While Eric Mullins' mom worked as a lifeguard when he was a kid, she couldn't afford the cost of music instruction for him. So she struck a deal with a pianist.

    The woman provided "piano lessons for my mom's kid, and my mom gave her kids swimming lessons," said Mullins, 37, now a music teacher at Genesis Preparatory School and co-owner of a music school called Mullins Music....

    Mullins Music instructors are, from left, Sam Williams, Niko Pelley, Marina Mullins, Coenraad Appelgrijn and Eric Mullins. Eric Mullins and his wife Marina Mullins co-own the school.
  9. Pasco business uses garlic, onion in skin and hair care

    Business

    LUTZ — For a while, Moses Medina didn't like having his picture taken.

    "You could see my shiny scalp," he said.

    Medina, 52, who now co-owns Vive Naturals, had alopecia, a kind of hair loss that resulted in a couple of bald spots.

    So, 22 years ago, a friend suggested Medina use what his friend's grandmother used to undo her hair loss: allium — garlic and onion.

    He minced the garlic and onion in his kitchen, mixed them with warm water and applied the mixture to his scalp, almost daily. A few months later, hair showed up where there hadn't been any....

    Annette and Moses Medina own Vive Naturals, a hair and skin care company in Lutz.
  10. 'Gutsy' art gallery and shop to open in Zephyrhills

    Business

    ZEPHYRHILLS — When artist Fran Byers house-sat for a Zephyr­hills couple last year, she used a vacant room in the home as a studio. There, she painted.

    The space, in which the home­owner once ran a health and wellness business, was "a bright venue with a lot of Zen" — the perfect place for an art gallery, Byers, 57, said to the home­owner.

    "Go for it," the homeowner told her....

    Fran Byers, 57, owns Bug’s Splatter, an art gallery and shop that will open next weekend.
  11. Port Richey butcher follows in grandfather's footsteps

    Business

    PORT RICHEY — For three years, Curtis Frantz served as a scout in the U.S. Army. Then he worked in food and beverage sales. Then, his mother-in-law made a suggestion.

    Why don't you become a butcher?

    "A light bulb came on," said Frantz, 30, who now owns Your Family Butcher with his wife, Amanda, 28.

    "My grandfather was a butcher for 60 years," said Frantz. "I spent a lot of time in his shops. I grew up hunting and fishing with him, and he taught me how to process my own meat."...

    Spouses Amanda Frantz, 28, and Curtis Frantz, 30, co-own Your Family Butcher.
  12. Pasco business uses thermoplastics to make house numbers shine at night

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — As the longtime owner a roof-cleaning company, Dante Rodriguez has rubbed elbows with lots of homeowners associations and with homeowners. He has learned about their concerns.

    Among them?

    "The spray-paint guys," said Rodriguez, 49 — the ones he says show up to paint people's house numbers onto their driveways.

    So Rodriguez did some research. And because of what he learned, he started another business: Bay Area Thermoplastics, which manufactures reflective curb markers that display a home­owner's house number and are an alternative to spray paint....

    Dante Rodriguez, 49, owns Bay Area Thermoplastics and its parent company, Bay Area Roof Cleaning Company, Inc.
  13. After starting with one van, non-emergency transportation service celebrates 30 years

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Next week, Wheelchair/Stretcher Limo, a non-emergency transportation service, will celebrate its 30th anniversary, a milestone that makes its founder, JoLynn Spivey, proud.

    In 1985, Spivey, now 57, worked as an emergency medical technician for an ambulance company in Pinellas County. There, she started a non-emergency unit to transport patients whose conditions weren't critical....

    JoLynn Spivey, 57, co-owns Wheelchair/Stretcher Limo with her brother, David Smith.
  14. After a fire, Custom Frame Store brings Pasco man's life full circle

    Business

    DADE CITY — Five months after Robert Schultz retired, a fire destroyed the uninsured double-wide mobile home he called home.

    In the fire's stressful wake, a friend of Schultz, 67, made an observation: He needed to relax.

    His friend suggested yoga. So Schultz took a yoga class at a studio attached to a frame shop, called the Custom Frame Store, which his yoga instructor owned.

    "I walked in (to the frame store) and told her this brought me full circle," he said. "I had learned framing in college to work my way through school."...

    “I frame just about anything — pictures, oils on canvas, baseballs people have caught at Rays games,” said Robert Schultz, 67, who owns the Custom Frame Store in Dade City.
  15. Port Richey motorcycle school teaches skills, safety

    Business

    Spotlight | Florida Professional Motorcycle Training

    PORT RICHEY — Dave Cruz's first crash on a motorcycle, in 1981, shook him. The recovery after his second crash, in 1997, took a year. But it wasn't until 2004 that Cruz took his first class on how to properly and safely operate a motorcycle.

    What he learned prompted a question, said Cruz, 59, who now owns Florida Professional Motorcycle Training: "How the heck did I stay alive on a bike for 35 years?"...

    Dave Cruz, 59, owner of Florida Professional Motorcycle Training, wants to help other riders manage risks on the road.