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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

  1. Pasco entrepreneurs to compete for support in launching a business


    Pasco County entrepreneurs who have hoped for help launching a business have a shot to get it.

    The SMARTstart Challenge is a competition being sponsored by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, the Pasco Economic Development Council, the city of New Port Richey Economic Development Department and SCORE. It is inspired in part by ABC's Shark Tank.

    "If you've got a great idea for a business or you've got a business that needs support, consider applying for the SMARTstart challenge," said Chip Wichmanowski, president of the west Pasco chamber....

  2. Spring Hill couple co-stars in TLC's 90 Day Fiancé

    The Feed


    Jason Hitch smiled as Cassia Tavares tugged on his blue, striped shirt. She smiled as he told his side of their story.

    Hitch is from the United States; Tavares is from Brazil. He is 38; she is 23. When she suggested they date, he resisted. When he dated her anyway, they wound up engaged.

    Then Hitch discovered 90 Day Fiancé, a TLC television docu-series that features Americans who are engaged to partners outside the country. The non-American half of the couple uses a K-1 "fiance visa" to move to the United States, but the visa comes with a catch: Wed within 90 days or be deported....

    Jason Hitch, 38, and his fiancee Cassia Tavares, 23, live in Spring Hill with Hitch’s father. The two, who met online, met in person for the first time at an airport in Curitiba, Brazil.
  3. Sandwiches and service are the priorities at Hudson deli


    HUDSON — Tammy Viergutz likes to hear how customers refer to her sandwiches:

    "The best in town," she said.

    If you care to try one, Viergutz, 53, sells them — plus cold cuts, salads and pastries — at the deli she has owned since 2013: My Deli Button.

    The deli opened two years ago this month, and Viergutz, who previously worked in banking, acquired it when the original owner retired....

    Owner Tammy Viergutz uses customer service rules she learned in banking.
  4. Pasco repair shop keeps brass, woodwind instruments in tiptop shape



    Steve Bockus used a Bunsen burner's blue flame to do battle with a stubborn, stainless-steel flute. • He lowered the woodwind instrument into the fire, then tested its keys. • Still stuck. So Bockus persisted. • It's his job as owner of the Brass and Woodwind Shop, where, at benches buried by all of his tools, his work — fixing brass and woodwind instruments — makes music possible. • His interest in music dates back to when he was about 10. From his bedroom window, he heard live big band music from the fairgrounds near his house in New Hampshire. • "I was fascinated," he said. • So in fifth grade, he got a trumpet and joined the school band....

    A trumpet is prepped for repair by owner Steve Bockus at the Brass and Woodwind Shop in Wesley Chapel.  “I absolutely love it,” says Bockus, who can repair or service virtually any band instrument.
  5. Retired Air Force captain is a DJ and dance instructor in Pasco


    PORT RICHEY — After a divorce, Al Walker made friends in a singles group at church.

    "They talked me into going dancing on a Friday night," said Walker, 65. He enjoyed it, he said, and made a decision: "If I was going to do this, I needed to do it right. So I signed up for some classes."

    Now, 15 years after his first dance class, he teaches them as owner of Two Left Feet Entertainment....

    Al Walker, 65, has a mobile DJ and dance instruction service.
  6. Wesley Chapel hairdresser treats hair, hair loss organically


    WESLEY CHAPEL — In an appointment with an allergist, hairdresser Star Ryan got the bad news: The hair products she used at work were irritating her eyes, throat and lungs. Her line of work was exacerbating her allergies.

    Then she did her research.

    That's when Ryan, 62, owner of Star's Organic Spa, learned that the ammonia in products at salons is the same ammonia used in bombs and pesticides. It can cause respiratory problems and has been linked to cancer, she said....

    Star Ryan, 62, owns Star’s Organic Spa and works as a hairdresser and a certified trichologist.
  7. Wesley Chapel chemist's invention prevents infection in cuts and scrapes


    Spotlight | Natural Seal

    WESLEY CHAPEL — When bandages in an awkward spot on Dan Opp's hand couldn't seal, the cut underneath it wouldn't heal. When a MRSA infection developed in it and was so serious he had to have surgery, his wife was certain:

    "There was nothing we could have done better," said Kerriann Greenhalgh. "Nothing could have prevented it."

    Unless, of course, she invented something....

    Kerriann Greenhalgh of Wesley Chapel is the inventor of Natural Seal, a liquid bandage.
  8. Pasco Recreation Notebook for the weekend of Sept. 26


    Recreation notebook

    ZEPHYRHILLS — The ninth annual Sister Stroll 2.0 breast cancer walk is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, 7050 Gall Blvd., on the hospital's walking trail. Features food and swag, plus a car show and entertainment. The cost is $15 per person in advance and $20 per person at the event. All proceeds benefit the Simpson Breast Health Center at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills. To register or for information, visit FHZeph.org and click "events," or call toll free, 1-877-534-3108....

  9. Pasco man's football injury led to career in video


    Spotlight | JL Video Inc.

    TRINITY — On a football field as a sophomore in high school, Jordan Lung tore his right meniscus.

    "I loved football so much I played (on it for) half my sophomore year," said Lung, 25. "My junior year, I tore my left meniscus right before our very first game."

    Lung, who once had considered playing college football, accepted that his plans would have to change. His coach had an idea:...

    Jordan Lung, 25, owns JL Video Inc. His wife, Brittany Lung, 25, helps him run the Trinity-based business. 
  10. Land O'Lakes High School hall of fame inductees to include Will Weatherford, John Benedetto

    Human Interest

    LAND O'LAKES — In a text message last year, Jerry Brewster asked John Benedetto to meet to plan the first Land O'Lakes High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction.

    Monday seems best, Brewster wrote. Is that an option?

    Benedetto, the legendary Land O'Lakes football coach, wrote back.

    I'll make it work.

    Brewster will never erase those texts, he said. Benedetto died in his sleep five days after the meeting....

    Tina McWithey White, Class of ’79, played three sports.
  11. Hillbilly Farms offers healthy food, simple fun in Dade City


    Spotlight | Hillbilly Farms

    DADE CITY — Rhoda and Ken Mazerolle moved from Maine to Florida to retire. But when the opportunity arose to open a business, the longtime entrepreneurs couldn't resist.

    Hillbilly Farms started as a produce stand in 2011 and is now a store and a cafe, named after what people called the Mazerolles when they moved south — "northern hillbillies," said Rhoda Mazerolle, 60. She and Ken, 80, also own a trucking company. Their daughter, Rasha Lowe, 41, oversees daily operations at Hillbilly Farms....

    Rasha Lowe oversees daily operations at Hillbilly Farms, which includes a store and a cafe and is owned by her parents. 
  12. Recreation Notebook for the weekend of Sept. 5


    LAND O' LAKES — Players are sought for a 60 and over slow pitch softball league. Players can register and be drafted at 8 a.m. Sept. 12, 19 and 26 on Field 10 at the Collier Park Recreation Center Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway. Games begin Oct. 3rd. For information, call Walt Bockmiller at (813) 527-8211.

    TENNIS: A tennis league for male and female players of all ability levels is forming now. Competitions will be in and beyond Pasco County. For information, call Walt Bockmiller at (813) 527-8211....

  13. Lutz businesswoman brings 'futuristic photo booth' to parties


    LUTZ — For a decade, Deb Fry managed military contracts at U.S. Central Command on MacDill Airforce Base.

    Then the war ended.

    "When the troops pulled out, contracts started disappearing," said Fry, 58.

    She left MacDill in 2011, took some time off and then picked a new place to work: at parties. The onetime defense contractor is now a TapSnap franchisee.

    "Some people call (TapSnap) a futuristic photo booth," said Fry. "There are no walls, no ceilings, no black curtains."...

    Deb Fry, 58, owns a TapSnap franchise. Guests at parties stand in front of a camera mounted to a 42-inch monitor for photo-ops.
  14. Ministry in Dade City helps east Pasco's poor and homeless

    Human Interest

    DADE CITY — While his laundry spun in a dryer at the Restored Hope resource center, a 47-year-old homeless man sipped coffee from a plastic foam cup and told his story.

    James, who did not want to give his last name, designs roof and floor trusses for a living. But the labor pool is small, he said, and he has traveled for 12 years, from one short-term job to another. Recently, while out of work, he stayed with a friend, but she booted him out after a disagreement. He said he is estranged from family and wouldn't want to burden relatives by asking for help anyway....

    Restored Hope resource center is a Christian ministry in Dade City that serves the poor and homeless.
  15. Pasco business pairs cancer patients with 'cancer guides'


    Spotlight RN Cancer Guides

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Susan Scherer and Angelique Neumann know cancer. Scherer is an oncology nurse, and Neumann is a cancer survivor.

    Their experiences sparked a question: How can we get people (who have cancer) through the hardest time of their lives?

    The pair opened RN Cancer Guides in 2013 to be the answer.

    The firm matches people who have cancer with "cancer guides" — oncology-certified nurses who help clients and their families "navigate all the emotional, medical and financial barriers to treatment," Scherer, 46 said. "Our job is to 'bubble wrap' our patients."...

    Susan Scherer, left, and Angelique Neumann opened RN Cancer Guides in 2013.