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. Learn about loquats at first ever Florida Loquat Festival


    NEW PORT RICHEY — In preparation for Saturday's inaugural Florida Loquat Festival, the venue is reserved, the preserves are canned and founder Dell deChant is aware of a common question:

    What the heck is a loquat?

    "We call it the urban fruit," said deChant, a master instructor of religious studies at the University of South Florida, whose penchant for loquats is an avocation. The loquat doesn't require a grove or a farm to grow....

    Loquats grow in clusters on trees. Sometimes, a loquat tastes like an apple; other times, like a plum.
  2. New Tampa fifth-grader wins districtwide lunch recipe contest


    NEW TAMPA — Ayushi Mavuduru carried a cardboard tray across the Bartels Middle School cafeteria Wednesday during a lunch party held in her honor. A clapping crowd followed her from the lunch line to her seat, where she sat to eat the turkey wrap she chose.

    For Ayushi, an 11-year-old Turner Elementary fifth-grader whose class eats lunch at Bartels, the wrap was far from the usual school lunch fare, and not just because it was new to the menu. Ayushi had created the recipe for the third annual Cook it Up Ultimate School Lunch Chef contest — and she won....

    Kamal Mavuduru congratulates her daughter Ayushi at Bartels Middle School Wednesday, where there was a special celebration for the young chef’s winning creation.      for the at a celebration for the youngster’s winning Shredded Turkey Wrap at Bartels Middle School in Wesley Chapel.
  3. Designer creates custom clothes in her Land O'Lakes home studio


    LAND O'LAKES — Marcy Budwick turned some coral fabric into an Easter dress for her daughter, Kaiya, in 2007. The finished product? A perfect fit.

    Budwick, then a mortgage sales rep, created more clothes for the baby — a hobby that would bud into a business called Kaiya Designs.

    After high school, Budwick, 33, studied fashion in Orange County, Calif., where she grew up. While she learned to turn fabric into fashion, she worked as a receptionist in the mortgage industry, until her boss made a decision:...

  4. It's Chasco Fiesta time in New Port Richey



    The Chasco Fiesta returns to Pasco County on Friday for the 68th time. The nine-day, multiple-venue event, which kicks off with the Lighthouse Coronation Ball and ends with a country music concert, features family-friendly fun, food and music.

    In the spirit of the first Chasco Fiesta, it's all for a good cause.

    In 1922, the event started as a fundraiser for the local library, said Kelly Hackman, executive director of Chasco Fiesta Inc. ...

    Last year’s Chasco Fiesta Street Parade drew pirates, among others, and those who wanted to see them.
  5. Stellie Bellies resale boutique opens in New Port Richey


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Crystal York inspects a set of tiny sneakers beside a cash register at Stellie Bellies. She buffs out scuff marks, attaches a price tag — $9.99 for a pair that costs $40 new — and puts the barely used shoes on a rack surrounded by bright and colorful clothes and toys for kids.

    York owns Stellie Bellies Kiddie & Maternity Resale Boutique, which opened on State Road 54 in February. The shop sells used clothes and accessories for newborns through children's size 8, and for expectant mothers. It accepts clean, modern clothes with no rips or stains in exchange for store credit. ...

    Shopping for children’s clothes, Sophia Edwards, left, and Melodie Macatee are helped by Crystal York, at the register, and Melissa Hudson at the new Stellie Bellies Kiddie & Maternity Resale Boutique.
  6. New Port Richey diner celebrates 10 years in business


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Ten years ago, when John and Nancy Caposey decided to open a family restaurant, they faced a predictable hurdle.

    "We were penniless," said Nancy, 45. "We went to six different banks and they all turned us down."

    But the owners of the diner they were eyeing supported the couple's goal. So they tried another way. The Small Business Administration agreed to assist the Caposeys in acquiring a loan from a private investor. Plus they "sold the house, scrimped and saved, borrowed a little from my sister," said John, 52....

    John and Nancy Caposey aren’t simply the owners of Caposey’s Whole Works Restaurant. They also work there. John can be found in the kitchen, cooking, and Nancy works as a hostess.
  7. Forget Pamplona, run with the bulls in Dade City


    A chance to dodge stampeding bulls used to require a flight to Spain. But thrill seekers who can't afford a trip to Pamplona for the running of the bulls, get excited: You can risk life and limb in Dade City instead.

    On Saturday, the inaugural Great Bull Run takes over the horse track at Little Everglades Ranch, where in six runs, humans and bulls will intermingle.

    "It's exhilarating when you're done with it" — assuming you haven't been gored, said Rob Dickens, chief operating officer for the Great Bull Run....

    Participants run with the bulls and steers as they stampede down the track in the Richmond, Va., Great Bull Run event last year. Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City will host its Great Bull Run on Saturday. The price to risk a goring: $65.
  8. Kids can ride with Curious George


    Recreation notebook

    Curious George Bike Day is from 9 a.m. to noon March 1 at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., New Port Richey. The day is designed for 3- to 6-year-old children and their families. The children are encouraged to bring their tricycles, bicycles or Big Wheels to ride at the park with Curious George. Free bicycle helmets will be distributed while quantities last. The day also includes stories, refreshments, healthy smoothie demonstrations, photo opps, free books, inflatable games and entertainment. Free. For information, call (727) 861-3033....

  9. Pasco County Fair arrives Feb. 17-23, aims for 50,000 visitors



    The 67th Annual Pasco County Fair returns next week with revitalized old favorites, additions and a happy anniversary.

    "I'm most excited about celebrating our 10th year with our Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo," said LeAnne John, fair board president. The rodeo is a fair staple along with the kickoff parade and the celebrity milk-off — in which local celebrities like Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley and Times staff writer Gail Diederich will, according to John, "battle it out to see who the best milker is."...

    The steer showmanship contest is one of the many events that hail the fair’s 
agricultural roots. In 2011, Bronte Conlin, with the Land O’Lakes High School FFA, 
entered the competition with Bullet.
  10. Business born in grief brings Spring Hill family together



    In pictures pinned to a corkboard in Lisa Kraus' sewing room, her son Matthew beams.

    Nearby, Lisa crosses the carpet, flecked with scraps of the fabric she uses to create bow ties like the ones Matthew used to wear.

    At the sewing machine, she cuts and traces, sews and presses. A bow tie takes about an hour to make. Then she packs it for shipping and picks out fabric for the next one....

    Wooden bow ties are the best sellers of Ella Bing, a bow tie maker that started as a tribute to Matthew Kraus.
  11. Zephyrhills restaurant offers Indian food, culture


    ZEPHYRHILLS — There are twelve tables, three servers and one chef at Mayoor. The small Indian restaurant has been open since November, and its staff has a big goal: to introduce the community to Indian food and culture.

    "The culture is very diverse, with influences from all around the world," said Jithin Sajan, 21.

    Sajan, the restaurant owner's son, lives in Brandon, majors in mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida and helps his father manage Mayoor....

    King Fish Curry is one of the offerings on the menu at Mayoor, an Indian restaurant in Zephyrhills. “Everything’s made fresh, every day,” Jithin Sajan says.
  12. Things to do in Pasco County


    Our picks

    An evening with the author: L.L. Dahl-Jensen, a local novelist, discusses her new book Rita, Rita from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Downtown New Port Richey Art Gallery, 6231 Grand Blvd. (727) 848-6500.

    Friday Flix: Film lovers gather at 8 p.m. Fridays for a movie at the New Port Richey Public Library, 5939 Main St. Some refreshments are provided and attendees are invited to bring more of their own. This week's film is Lion in Winter. (727) 853-1279....

  13. An eclectic music mix



    Local venues have schedules packed with performances by musicians with big names and big sounds. The artists' repertoires range in style from Celtic rock to jazz and swing. Music fans, mark your calendars:


    Jazz and swing: Rhythm Kings Dance Orchestra performs from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, 100 Beekman Lane. Show up at 6 for a free dance lesson (no partner required). The Rhythm Kings play jazz, swing and big-band hits of the '20s, '30s and '40s. Tickets are $12, or $10 for members and students. (727) 942-5605 or

    Gaelic Storm brings its Celtic rock sound to the Performing Arts Center at Pasco-Hernando Community College.
  14. Follow your nose to candle, soap shop 'Wilma' at the mall


    PORT RICHEY — When Wendy Zak's candle and soap shop outgrew a USA Flea Market table, she rented half a booth. Then she took it over.

    When the shop outgrew the booth, Zak rented two. But even in a double booth, "we were running out of room." Gulf View Square mall noticed. So Zak met with a leasing agent and signed a lease on Oct. 28, emptied the double booth by Oct. 31 and opened the shop at the mall Nov. 9. It's called Wilma....

    Brenda Kennedy and daughter Wendy Zak have started Wilma, named for Wilma Flintstone, at Gulf View Square mall. They are cashing in on scents.
  15. Hudson family launches Catholic T-shirt company


    HUDSON — Nick France calls himself a "strong Catholic," and his commitment to the church is apparent.

    "I've been a lector, a Eucharistic minister, a catechist," he said. He was a grand knight in the Knights of Columbus, started a chapter of Columbian Squires — a Knights group for Catholic young men — and played guitar in a church band.

    Last month, with his family's help, France, a graphic designer, launched a business he can add to his list of ministries: a Catholic T-shirt company called is a Christian t-shirt company based in Hudson run by Nick France and his wife Gretchen, with the help of their children, from left, standing, Bianca, Angelina, and Nick. France, 53, works full time for TECO as supervisor of the multimedia design group in corporate communications and does freelance web and graphic design.