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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. The name tells only part of the story at Market Off Main

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — When the owners of a Main Street produce market decided in 2008 to turn it into a cafe and creamery called Market Off Main, they picked an unlikely place to put it: in a run-down house.

    "It had been unoccupied for several years," said Jerry Kuss, 72, who found the building and now co-owns the business with Rose Mohr, 67.

    "It didn't look very inviting from the front," Mohr said. "It was a location that was not appreciated (by the public)."...

    Jerry Kuss, 72, and Rose Mohr, 67, the co-owners of Market Off Main, have turned a run-down house into a thriving business.
  2. Benedictine nun uses aquaponics to raise fish, grow food and teach others

    Human Interest

    ST. LEO

    Sister Miriam Cosgrove peeled back the black plastic tarp that covered a 250-gallon fish tank. The tilapia inside swam to the surface. "A feeding frenzy," Cosgrove, 73, said as the fish fought for each pellet of food that the Catholic sister dropped into the water.

    The tank is one of 10 in the greenhouse next to Holy Name Monastery, installed in December so Cosgrove, who will have been a Benedictine nun for 55 years this summer, could minister to the world in a new way: with aquaponics — "a sustainable, self-sufficient fish farm."...

    Sister Miriam Cosgrove, left, and employee Elizabeth Reasons work at Holy Name Monastery’s aquaponics farm in St. Leo.
  3. Illusionist makes magic happen in Pasco

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — On the stage at Merlin's Theater, David Evangelista entertains each audience with what he has practiced for decades: magic.

    A year and a half ago, the 53-year-old illusionist and magic shop owner opened the 65-seat venue — a place where he and other magicians can perform the tricks Evangelista first picked up as a kid.

    When Evangelista was 9 years old, his grandmother bought him a deck of magic cards. Then he got a magic set....

    David Evangelista, 53, owns Merlin’s Magic Shop and Theater.
  4. Pasco food truck owners turn hot dogs into gourmet meals

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — In a 24-foot-long truck called Americanwiener, Ben Laffey lives his dream: making hot dogs.

    Laffey, 39, co-owns the food truck with his wife, Amy, and has earned the distinguished title of "wiener creation genius."

    His penchant for using toppings to turn grilled dogs into gourmet meals was preceded by a decade in a corporate job. The journey started while he studied at the California School of Culinary Arts....

    Ben Laffey, 39, and his wife Amy Laffey, 39, co-own Americanwiener, a food truck that serves gourmet hot dogs and hand-cut fries.
  5. Perspective: How chastity can lead to good sex

    Perspective

    As a colleague and I crossed the parking lot at the Port Richey bureau of the Tampa Bay Times, he pointed at the bumper sticker on my car's rear windshield.

    He read it aloud: "Chastity is for lovers."

    He furrowed his brow and tilted his head, perplexed by what he had read.

    "How can chastity be for lovers if it means you can't have sex?" he asked.

    What I said surprised him:...

  6. Charter business promises glimpses of Pasco's beauty and stress relief

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — On Anclote Key in 2002, Wendy Longman and her husband met a retired aerospace engineer from San Diego. He had a goal: to charter sailboats as a business.

    "You know how to sail; we know how to market," Longman, 46, said she told him.

    Her husband, Bruce Longman, worked in marketing, so the couple helped him start Windsong Sailing and Fishing Charters.

    But "the 2004 hurricanes weren't nice to him," Longman said, and he also was going through a divorce....

    Capt. Wendy Longman and her husband and business partner, Capt. Bruce Longman, have dozens of rentable assets for customers to charter or take out on their own.
  7. Techsoft Academy to teach software to bloggers, business owners

    Business

    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.
  8. Nonprofit 'farm' for single moms celebrates five years

    Human Interest

    SPRING HILL

    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
  9. Ignoring naysayers, J. Joseph Salon owner opens second Pasco location in Lutz

    Business

    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.
  10. Veterans Alternative Therapy Center wins inaugural SMARTstart Challenge

    Business

    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.
  11. Skin care expert promotes health, wellness through treatments, downtime

    Business

    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.
  12. 'Big Mike' from 'The Blind Side' combats bullying in Pasco talk Tuesday

    Events

    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 sean.vanguilder@saintleo.edu. — 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)
  13. Pasco business bridges the gap between patients and doctors

    Business

    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.
  14. Events honor Martin Luther King Jr. in Pasco County

    Events

    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.
  15. Pasco veterinary hospital gets new digs

    Business

    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.