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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. Navy and Army veterans open Rebel Dog Brewing in Port Richey


    PORT RICHEY — When Nate Bryant, a Navy veteran, opened a home brewing supply store, Donn Daniels, an Army veteran, was his second customer.

    Daniels, 34, bought the supplies to brew his own beer, and Bryant, also 34, expressed an interest in brewing.

    He couldn't do it at the store, he said, because his only source of water was a sink.

    But Daniels, who became a regular customer, pitched an idea: Together they could move the shop and turn it into a brewery....

    Navy veteran Nate Bryant, left, and Army vet Donn Daniels co-own Rebel Dog Brewing, now open in Port Richey.
  2. New shop in Wesley Chapel bakes fresh donuts from scratch


    WESLEY CHAPEL — In high school, Dana Morris flew to France as an exchange student, and fell in love.

    That is, "with European pastries, and bakeries, and coffee," she said.

    It became the basis for her new donut shop, Buttermilk Provisions.

    Morris took culinary courses in France but studied accounting instead in college and worked after that as an accountant for a private club that had a pastry chef....

    Dana Morris is the owner of Buttermilk Provisions on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Wesley Chapel.
  3. Fitlife Foods offers healthy options for time-starved shoppers at new Wesley Chapel location


    WESLEY CHAPEL — David Osterweil is a husband and a dad, a CEO and a marathoner. That means he has felt like a lot of people do: too busy to prepare healthy meals.

    But he has a solution: Fitlife Foods, which opened its first Pasco location this month.

    The store is "for success-minded people who value their health, value their time and, most importantly, value great flavor," said Osterweil, 38, who founded Fitlife....

    David Osterweil, 38, is founder and CEO of Fitlife Foods, which opened a Wesley Chapel location.
  4. Despite defections, Gulf View Square tenants, manager see hope for mall



    At 3:45 on a recent weekday afternoon, a walk through Gulf View Square mall was mostly quiet.

    "To put it in perspective, I went to Countryside (mall in Clearwater)," said Steve Baginskie, who owns Yancy Street Comics, a comic shop at Gulf View Square. "They were as busy on a Monday as this mall is on a Saturday."

    But despite smaller crowds and recent defections of stores, Baginskie and other Gulf View tenants say all is not lost. And they still have hope for the 36-year-old mall's future....

    Yancy Street Comics occupies a 5,300-square-foot location in the Gulf View Square mall in Port Richey.
  5. Curiosity led to Dade City couple's love affair with alpacas


    DADE CITY — Eight years ago, Debbie Pettis read a newspaper article about an alpaca farm.

    "I had never heard of the animal," Pettis said.

    Alpacas, she learned, are of the camelid family — cousins to llamas. And they're strange looking, thought Pettis, who works part time for a global consulting firm. But she took an interest. So she called the farm she read about and scheduled a tour....

    Narvel Pettis, 54, and Debbie Pettis, 51, breed alpacas. Some are sold, but only if Debbie approves.
  6. Wesley Chapel family harvests, sells raw honey


    WESLEY CHAPEL — Monica Obando is an apitherapist and a beekeeper. So she respects what other people fear: bees.

    She and her husband, Juan Obando; her sister, Jenny Castro, and her mother, Maria Leguizamon own enough bees to have started a business: Santa Monica Florida, which harvests and sells raw honey.

    The venture began in 2011, when Monica Obando, 42, suffered from arthritis. Her husband had heard about apitherapy, the use of what bees produce, such as venom, to help alleviate pain caused by various illnesses. So they took a class in it....

    Maria Leguizamon, Monica Obando and Jenny Castro co-own Santa Monica Florida with Obando’s husband, Juan Obando. The business harvests and sells raw honey.
  7. Shop for 'shabby chic' furniture in New Port Richey


    NEW PORT RICHEY — When others see an old piece of furniture, Jenny Barker, who owns a downtown shop called Vintage Chickabees, sees an opportunity.

    "I upcycle it," she said — she uses chalk-based paint and wax to refurbish wooden tables and chairs and dressers that otherwise might be discarded.

    The art projects started when Barker, 38, a widow and mother of four, was a gymnastics instructor. She wanted to earn additional income. So she attended workshops where she learned techniques for restoring old furniture — she had a lot of it, she said....

    Jenny Barker, 38, upcycles furniture and sells it at her shop, Vintage Chickabees.
  8. 105-year-old Hudson woman: 'Don't be afraid of growing old.'

    Human Interest


    In her apartment at Atria Park of Baypoint Village, Clarice Emley stretched her legs so her feet would reach her organ's pedalboard.

    She is a musician who has played the organ since 1985. She is also a widow, an aunt, and a retired high school teacher.

    And "I have done something finally that not many people can do," she said — hit 105 years of age.

    Emley, whose 105th birthday is Sunday, was born in 1911 to an English dad and an Irish mom in Glade Valley, N.C., at the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains....

    Clarice Emley is still active and fondly remembers her time growing up on a farm as well as her career as a teacher.
  9. Land O'Lakes Winery celebrates first anniversary


    LAND O'LAKES — When Sue Hardy and some of her friends decided to make their own wine, she learned something new about the craft.

    "It's a science," Hardy said. "It's an art."

    And, she added, "it's fun."

    That's what led Hardy, 57, and her business partner, Corey Kempton, 37, to open Land O'Lakes Winery, which now has been in business for a year.

    The operation has three parts, Hardy said. There's the wine bar for patrons who wish to sip wine or craft beer, sans the work it takes to make it....

    Sue Hardy and Corey Kempton own the Land O’Lakes Winery.
  10. New unit allows Medical Center of Trinity to offer higher level of care to newborns



    In a dimly lit, quiet room at Medical Center of Trinity, Ashleigh Johnson held her day-old daughter, Emma.

    The baby's birth, in a birthing suite in the hospital's obstetrics unit, had been normal. The baby, healthy.

    "Then there was a change," said Johnson, 28.

    Emma, who already had begun to bond with her parents, started to have a hard time breathing.

    But the hospital's staff was prepared to handle it because of a recent addition: a $7 million Level II neonatal intensive care unit....

    An overnight “nesting’’ room for families transitioning to taking their babies home at the Medical Center of Trinity’s recently-opened Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The $7 million project is the first NICU in Pasco County and also serves patients from Hernando, northern Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
  11. Two teens saving for college with Two Hunks carwash business



    Tyler White smiled as he dunked a carwash mitt into a bucket of soap and water.

    Beside the bucket, White had arranged his arsenal: shampoo, conditioner and wax for cars, chrome polish and tire shine, cleaners for glass, plastic, carpet, leather and vinyl.

    White, who owns a mobile carwash business service called Two Hunks and a Hose, is meticulous. He is determined. He is also a sophomore at Land O'Lakes High School....

    Josh Columbo, 15, left, and Tyler White, 16, wash a Toyota Camry. White started Two Hunks and a Hose to help save for college. They wash cars by appointment after school and on the weekends. White wants to study business and management. Columbo wants to go to culinary school.
  12. Leaning Tower of Pizza, a New Port Richey landmark, turns 40


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Carl Serpe Sr. had been a cop for the New York Police Department for a decade when he had to do something he didn't want to do — retire.

    A back injury was to blame. But Serpe still needed an income. So, he opened a restaurant, which has turned out to be a much more successful endeavor.

    This year, Leaning Tower of Pizza is celebrating its 40th year.

    It's a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant — and also "a legacy," its owner says....

    Carl Serpe Sr. and Carl Serpe Jr. are the co-owners. “I started working (at the restaurant) when I was like 12,” says Carl Jr.
  13. Dade City business aims to protect smartphones from water


    DADE CITY — The Ray family knows well how smartphones fare when wet.

    "The five kids and my wife have all at one point dropped their phones in water," said Shannon Ray, who owns a company called Advanced Telecom Systems with his wife, Teasi Ray.

    "Typically, once water or whatever liquid hits it, (a smartphone is) completely ruined," Shannon Ray said.

    Each time it has happened, the Rays have tried tricks intended to save a wet cellphone, such as putting it in rice....

    Shannon Ray says he uses a special liquid to coat smartphones and prevent damage from water.
  14. Pasco couple's business helps remote owners monitor homes


    HUDSON — Last year, Mike and Brenda Martyniak noticed a problem in their neighborhood.

    "Squatters lived across the street from our house," said Brenda Martyniak, 56.

    At first, nobody knew that the squatters had moved in to what had been a vacant house, she said. Then nobody could prove that the people in it shouldn't be there.

    So she wondered if businesses exist that help protect remote owners of vacant homes from problems not limited to squatters. She and her husband ended up starting one: POV Home Watch....

    Mike Martyniak, 64, co-owns POV Home Watch, which monitors homes for owners who live far away or are away on vacation.
  15. Appraiser helps clients identify valuables and get top dollar for them


    ODESSA — While Dale Smrekar collected art and antiques, he observed a startling trend: Buyers took advantage of sellers.

    "Somebody would pay $75 for a $10,000 painting," said Smrekar, 66.

    Smrekar thinks people who sell an item "deserve to get as much as possible, whether they've inherited it or bought it themselves."

    So 13 years ago, he started a business designed to make that happen: Downsizing Advisory Service....

    Dale Smrekar, 66, who owns Downsizing Advisory Service, is a personal property appraiser and an estate liquidator.