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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. Terra, a Zephyrhills restaurant, offers fresh and healthy fare


    ZEPHYRHILLS — Iris Ivanac values healthy, fresh food, but she also values flavor. So last year she opened Terra, a family-owned and operated restaurant that fuses them.

    "We're trying to promote a healthy lifestyle — a healthy lifestyle that does not compromise taste," said Ivanac, 33.

    She has owned and operated restaurants all her life, as the daughter of restaurant owners. Prior to Terra, she owned a Zephyrhills pizza parlor. But her brother's health inspired the fare at Terra, which opened in December....

    There’s more to healthy eating than a “big ol’ bowl of kale,” said Iris Ivanac. Terra hosts meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans.
  2. 9/11 firefighter went in without delay

    Human Interest

    At his kitchen counter, Tim Harrigan flipped through the yellowing, plastic pages of the scrapbook. Part is pictures he took at ground zero. The other part, clips of Newsday articles about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Ten years ago, he put the book together for his kids.

    "I didn't know how long I was going to be around," he said. He didn't know if he'd get to tell them his story. ...

    Tim Harrigan, a retired New York Fire Department lieutenant, spent several months working at ground zero.
  3. It's time to reshape our beauty standards


    A friend of a friend recently asked a little girl a question: What's the one thing in the world you want most?

    "To look like Hannah Montana," she said, referring to the Disney Channel pop-star played by actor Miley Cyrus.

    My friend's friend retorted: "But I'd miss your face!"

    Disgusted, the little girl shook her head.

    "No," she said. "You couldn't miss that."

    She is one of many girls who sees her face and says it could be better, who believes something has to change before she can be good enough. But she is only 4 years old....

  4. Self-absorbed driving puts all of us at risk on U.S. 19 and beyond

    Human Interest

    Heading north on U.S. 19, I noticed a bunch of children buckled up in a big, black sport utility vehicle. Their chauffeur? A distracted driver.

    One hand on the wheel, his other typing on a smart phone. Eyes on the road only in short intervals. So when I moved from the middle lane to the right, and in front of him by a few car lengths, I had a feeling I shouldn't. But I did.

    I should have known better....

  5. Pasco couple steps in when two kids they know needed adoptive home

    Human Interest


    While steak simmered in a pan on the stove on a recent Friday night, Lauren Rivera slipped out to the back yard through the sliding screen door in the kitchen.

    She noticed no-see-ums. Watched her children play. Ten-year-old Lily laughed. Caitlyn, also 10, had her curly brown hair pulled up in a bun and held back by a black plastic headband. Lucas' black and blue sneakers slipped off the 12-year-old's feet while he hugged the football and ran across the yard....

    The Riveras adopted the children after Lauren Rivera recognized their pictures on the Heart Gallery website.
  6. Students decorate "retired" fire hydrants to honor 9/11 heroes

    Human Interest

    HUDSON — While his students decorated a set of 13 fire hydrants, Eric Johnson watched.

    They used paper and glue to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001, and paint and gold leaf to express their feelings about it.

    Johnson listened.

    "One said it gave her a chance to give a voice to the voiceless," he said. "That's deep for a 14-year-old."

    It's also part of the point of the project, he said. The hydrants honor the emergency responders who lost their lives on 9/11. The set, an exhibit called Three Hours, Two Towers, A Lifetime to Remember, is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa through Saturday....

    Student artists at Fivay High in Hudson painted “retired” fire hydrants to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The fire hydrant display continues through Saturday at MOSI.
  7. Fans work so that shows go on at Carrollwood Playhouse

    Human Interest

    CARROLLWOOD — At the start of 2010, the Carrollwood Players struggled to make ends meet. The theater company couldn't promise the public the Carrollwood Playhouse could stay open much longer.

    As the year comes to a close, group president James Cass admits things aren't necessarily looking up. But, said Cass, "they're not getting worse."

    Cass replaced Toni Germinario as president of the Carrollwood Players when Germinario's term ended over the summer....

    Cast members wait for their cues to take the stage during a performance of A Christmas Carol this month.
  8. An Odessa author hopes her book helps foster kids find permanent homes

    Human Interest

    ODESSA — All her life, Lori Diez has looked for a big way to help others. "I wanted to do something to better the world," she said. In childhood, she hoped to someday feed all the world's hungry children. That didn't quite happen, but the wife and mom of three still wanted to help kids in need. This year, she found a way. When Diez, 48, wrote a children's book, she decided to donate the proceeds to the Heart Gallery Tampa Bay, a traveling exhibit that encourages adoption so kids in foster care can get permanent families — something Diez doesn't take for granted....

    Lori Diez sits for a portrait in the back yard of her home with her book, Angel or Not? Angel for Sure! Profits from the sale of the book will be used to help foster kids find permanent homes.
  9. Skinny jeans bring enlightenment to potential buyer


    While I clutched my purse and pushed a cart through the juniors department at Target, I stopped short when I saw it: a sale on skinny jeans.

    I picked out a pair of them — whiskered, medium wash, skin-tight and perfect to wear with flats when it's hot or boots when it's cold. I'd been trying to find a pair for a while. Stoked about scoring a deal, I took my impending purchase to the fitting room and pulled it off the hanger....

  10. USF graduate student plans to return to Haiti and build a school

    Human Interest

    NORTH TAMPA — For now, Jean Francois Dujour spends his days in classrooms at the University of South Florida, studying and teaching French.

    In time, he hopes to have classrooms of his own back in Haiti, the homeland never far from his thoughts.

    After finishing his master's degree, Dujour plans to start a school so he can give to other Haitians something he says is invaluable: a good education. Getting that, he said, can be the reason a person solves problems instead of causes them....

    Jean Francois Dujour teaches French 2 as a teaching assistant while working on his master’s degree in French at USF in Tampa.
  11. USF taps into solar energy with special golf cart


    NORTH TAMPA — At the University of South Florida, nearly 600 golf carts regularly cross paths with students and staff on the Tampa campus' streets and sidewalks. About 75 percent of the carts are powered by gasoline. The rest run on batteries — with one exception.

    "I have been stopped by students who ask me what's on top of the golf cart," said Jose Rodriguez, assistant manager of building maintenance at USF's physical plant. ...

    Jose Rodriguez, 56, shows off the solar-powered golf cart that hasn’t needed to be charged since January.
  12. R.L. Stine got a generation hooked on reading with his scary Goosebumps series


    I blocked out the buzz of the rest of my third-grade class. I waited with wide eyes for the school day to start while I read another chapter of a book.

    Then another.

    And another.


    I jumped. I had missed almost a whole math lesson. Busted.

    "Put the book away."

    A little embarrassed, I sulked and stuck the book inside my desk. But the next day, I did it again, gladly. The risk of going red in the face always seemed worth it for a few extra minutes enthralled by a Goosebumps book....

    R. L. Stine, author of popular books for children, is the author of ``Superstitious’’ (Warner), his first novel for adults. (AP Photo/Warner, Richard Hutchings)
  13. If you give up sugar, know it will follow you


    Some might say I'm a quitter.

    In a way, they're right. If I don't need it, I don't want it. And if I don't want it, I give it up.

    The habit started when I stopped texting. I kept the habit up when I quit Facebook. When I tried to go vegetarian, it didn't last.

    But even if it flops, I do enjoy the occasional step toward simplicity. It's liberating. Figuring out what I need and getting rid of what I don't has been good for my soul. For about three years, it has been my trademark....

  14. Young woman left quadriplegic by car accident to speak at Disability Awareness Expo


    Katie Mathews can't remember the accident. But she says she knows why it happened.

    "I was using a cell phone, and it distracted my driver," she said.

    It happened four years ago on Interstate 75 in Venice. The driver lost control. The SUV rolled. The roof collapsed on Mathews.

    "Fortunately, the accident didn't kill me," said the 20-year-old. "But it left me a quadriplegic" — one who would eventually be crowned the first-ever Junior Miss Wheelchair Florida....

  15. Two bay area swimmers plan relay across English Channel


    Across 21 miles, the English Channel stretches cliff to cliff. It spans from England to France. According to Carey Rowan, it's the busiest shipping channel in the world.

    If you travel it, he said, you never know what you'll face.

    Worst case scenario? Heavy fog. A storm. Sea sickness. But for Rowan, the worst part of the English Channel might be the jelly fish. He'll find out this week, after he and some friends take turns swimming across it. ...

    Eye surgeon Dr. Carey Rowan, 41, of Clearwater Beach practices Tuesday during an open water swim training session 
at Sand Key Park. Rowan is in England this week to swim across the English Channel with four friends.