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Chamber to begin member card discount plan

Published Sep. 28, 2005

(ran EO edition)

Beginning in the new year, Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce members can register with a discount card program and save money on purchases made from other chamber members.

"The idea came from thinking about how to enhance the value of membership in the chamber," chamber chairman David Ormiston said.

"There's a variety of discounts," said chamber president Kevin Gartland. "It depends on what a business wants to offer."

So far, discounts offered include 10 percent off and 2-for-1 offers. For a fee of about $5, members also will be able to purchase a card for employees.

Gartland said the idea began about two years ago after an attempt to create a member-to-member discount proved to be too difficult.

For information on the Chamber's Member Discount Card program, call Brenda Robinson at the Chamber of Oldsmar at (813) 855-4233.

Alternative health

program offered

The Friends of the Library and the Adult Service Department will be co-hosts of a program on Alternative Health at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, immediately after a brief friends meeting at noon. The presenter will be Maria Moraca of the Clearwater Natural Medical Center. Moraca is licensed in acupuncture and makes use of nutrition, homeopathy, herbs and other natural remedies. For information, call the library at (813) 855-5940.

Donations to be used

for computer equipment

Donations from local businesses are buying new high-tech equipment for the 736 students at Oldsmar Elementary School.

The funds are being raised through the Internet/Networking Project, an effort started by the Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce and chamber member Tang Heihiep, owner of T&T Computers on Hillsborough Avenue.

Heihiep, also a member of the school's advisory committee, said the technology fund for the school amounted to $329 this year.

"The idea is to sell local businesses a $300 plaque of appreciation, which will hang in the school's lobby," Heihiep said.

Funds from the project will be used to purchase an Apple server, which will enable all classrooms to have Internet access, a network printer and a 17-inch monitor.

T&T has donated computers and software to local schools in the past. It also participates in the Oldsmar Elementary School's "adopt-a-classroom" program by donating money each year toward school supplies.

"I anticipate a lot of businesses will want to help with this project," Heihiep said.

Principal David Schmitt said the PTA and Pinellas County School Board helped pay for 20 new iMac computers purchased this year. The computers, along with the server, will bring the school's technology up to county standards.

"The community does a lot for the school," he said. "We've really benefited from their support."

Each classroom now has one or two of the school's 150 computers.

Firm picks Oldsmar site

as new headquarters

Cell Station, a new store at 3800 Tampa Road, is one of six franchises that 30-year-old Eric Bell has opened in the Tampa Bay area since June. The others are in Palm Harbor, Tampa, Clearwater and New Port Richey.

"We've made this one our corporate headquarters," said Bell. "The location is great. It's close to our home in Oldsmar, and easy to get to Tampa or Clearwater.

The 3,300-square-foot store, complete with an employee fitness center in a back room, is the fourth and largest store Bell opened after leasing the site from Discount Mattress, its previous occupant.

Bell said the stores are a family business with his wife, Liza, mother, Frahmann and stepfather, Mel. He established the stores after "stumbling into the pager business and seeing cell phones becoming more popular."

"I had been a U.S. Marine from Massachusetts and a veteran of the Persian Gulf," Bell said. "When I was discharged, I knew I wanted to live somewhere warm."

Packing up his 1976 Toyota, which already had 326,000 miles on it, Bell headed for Florida in May 1994. He said he first worked as a valet parking attendant before moving to jobs with paging companies. Then he saw a business opportunity in the growing use of cellular phones.

"Tampa Bay is one of the largest markets for them in the country," Bell said.

Bell said his 22 employees keep up with new technology and training, and that enables them to explain phone service to customers.

Louis Naranjo, who speaks both English and Spanish, manages a store in Tampa.

"We get to know our customers by name," he said. "It's important to us to be part of the community."

The company has donated money to children's charities and gives old mobile phones to the Sheriff's Office's domestic violence program. Bell would like to extend his community support to other groups.

"We're very interested in sponsoring local youth programs," he said.

Bell is now scouting sites in Tampa Bay for four new stores he hopes to open by February 2001. Another of Bell's managers, 24-year-old Robert Guiffre, said he expects the use of wireless phones will continue to grow.

"We're now starting to see what European countries already have," said Guiffre.

For information, call Cell Station at (813) 891-4200.

_ If you have news or photos about Oldsmar schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, contact Christine Graef at the North Pinellas Times. You can call her at (727) 445-4229, e-mail material to her at or mail material to North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.