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NOTES OF THANKS

The Spring Hill Garden Club's 15th annual memorial poinsettia planting on Dec. 13 was the most successful one to date, with more than 350 poinsettias adorning this historic monument.

I extend my sincere thanks to all of the residents who brought poinsettias to the garden club members, who assisted in the planting, and to Sheriff Richard Nugent for providing Capt. Mike Maurer and deputies Jeff Kraft and Frank Loretto to handle traffic control.

We are all grateful to Don Kubiak, past president of the garden club, who began this tradition by planting poinsettias at the waterfall in memory of his mother, who is buried in Chicago.

Each year, we have an opportunity to pay tribute to our departed friends and loves ones, as well as others worthy of remembrance, such as the victims of 9/11 and our military personnel who have lost their lives in order to preserve our freedom.

On behalf of the members of the Spring Hill Garden Club, I extend best wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

Sharon Swanson, president,

Spring Hill Garden Club

Cassidy Manning, 2, right, and her parents, John and Elizabeth Manning of Chester, N.Y., visited Cassidy's grandparents, Patrick and Isabel McGrory of Spring Hill. Together, the families planted four poinsettias _ two in memory of Cassidy's older twin brothers and two in memory of friends. Standing behind Cassidy are her dad and grandfather.

HIGH FIVES BIRTHDAY SURPRISE: Peg Prentice, right, of Spring Hill was surprised on her 40th birthday by friends and family holding a Happy Birthday banner in her driveway. She was even more surprised when she learned that for her birthday, she and her husband, Tom, left, would be going to Green Bay, Wis., to see the Packers take on the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. The Packers won the game, which made this "cheesehead" even happier.

RECREATION AND SPORTS

The amateur Ambassador Boxing Club of Spring Hill, under the direction of Cecil Lalas, director, founder and coach, has a new home for the new year. The location, 11178 Mercedes St., has a new line of Nautilus equipment to enhance the boxing program.

In addition, the site offers speed bags, heavy bags, double-end bags, a boxing ring and all the necessary equipment for effective training and competition.

The club, which began in Lalas' garage, had several competitions in 2003, including one in October in Sarasota. Ambassador boxer Joe Distafano was able to be matched and won his bout against Angel Monero of Sarasota in a unanimous decision.

The club thanked several sponsors who supported the club: Rich and Gale Poda, Mike and Rhonda Skipper, Jim McGuire, Jim and Sandy Fisher and P/C Miller Excavating.

The club is a nonprofit organization that is affiliated with USA Boxing Inc. and affords opportunities for different ages, genders and backgrounds.

Club members join for the fitness benefits, while others join in hopes of becoming active competitors. The program teaches self-motivation and that doing the right thing will make good things happen. Amateur boxing has been proved to be a deterrent to delinquency and helps participants control anger and aggression when the sport is taught properly. For information about membership or becoming a sponsor, contact Lalas at 688-4999.

_ Hometown Hernando welcomes reports on recreational and sports activities, both youth and adult, that do not normally run on the sports pages. Send your news and results to Jean Hayes, Hernando Times, 15365 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613-6174.

Staff and members of the amateur Ambassador Boxing Club of Spring Hill are looking forward to a successful 2004. Standing in back, from left, are Tony Lalas, fitness trainer and boxing coach; Al Lemire, heavyweight boxer; Ryan Valade, heavyweight boxer; and Eric Spevack, lightweight boxer. In front, from left, are Cecil Lalas, boxing coach, and Joe Distafano, bantamweight boxer.

NUTCRACKER BALLERINAS: Brittany Morgan, left, and Amanda Collins, students at Just Dance on Deltona Boulevard in Spring Hill, were selected to perform in the Nutcracker fantasy ballet by Expressions, the Dance Company, at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge in New Port Richey on Dec. 13. The girls performed in several dancing roles. Brittany danced as a soldier and gift bearer; Amanda danced as a mouse and a maid. Both girls train under the direction of Diane Morgan.

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