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Published Feb. 26, 2006

(Ran east edition of PASCO TIMES)

YOUTH WRITING CONTEST WINNERS: The Lutz/Land O'Lakes Woman's Club recently held its annual Youth Writing Contest awards reception at the Lutz Community Center.

More than 70 parents, teachers, club members and community members filled the reception hall as young people from first to 12th grade read their winning entries.

Club President Cheryl Bentonwelcomed visitors and briefly explained the annual writing competition. The contest invites all schoolage students to participate in the categories of essay/story or poem. Benton said that this year's contest drew 429 entries, a record. Students from Pasco and Hillsborough are eligible to participate with winners earning a $25 check from the Woman's Club, a certificate of achievement, and a $25 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

"We are very proud of all the boys and girls who took part in the contest," said Benton, as she spoke to the students sitting in front of her.

Benton introduced Sara Cooper, Woman's Club member who heads the committee that oversees the contest. Cooper introduced the young people one at a time, as each took center stage to read their submitted work that was judged a winning entry.

Winners from Pasco County were: Category 1 for grades first through third, story, Matthew Brink from Academy at the Lakes; and poem, Tiffany Valentino from Lake Myrtle Elementary.

Category 2, grades fourth through sixth, story, Frank Bianchifrom Pine View Middle School; and poem,Samantha Groomefrom Pine View Middle School;

Category 3, grades seventh through ninth, story, Tyler Tyndallfrom Pine View Middle School; and poem, Victoria Dahl from Pine View Middle School;

Category 4, grades 10th through 12th, story Angelica Kinchen from Gulf High School; and poem, Celeste Lipkes from Land O'Lakes High School.

Winners from Hillsborough County were: Category 1, grades first through third, story,Emma Doering from Berean Academy; and poem, Victoria AnhMinh Hoang from Tampa Palms Elementary.

Category 2, grades fourth through sixth, story, Luis Hill, from Williams Elementary; and poem, Daniel Carr, a home schooled student.

Category 3, grades seventh through ninth, story, Ellany Green from East Bay High School; and poem, Amanda Pillar from Blake High School.

Category 4, grades 10th through 12th, story, Heather Stewart from Blake High School. Winner in the poetry division was Lauren Polm who was not present at the reception.

Judges for the contest were, in the elementary division, Beth Colson and Helen Swisshelm. Judges for secondary entries were Virginia Blair and Charlie Reece.

After each student read their winning entry, applause ended and cameras stopped clicking, students and family members were invited to the rear of the room for refreshments.

The wall behind the refreshment table held large stars labeled with names, one for each of the winning participant. Students received the stars to take home with them as a memento of the occasion.

The Youth Writing Contest is one of many activities sponsored by the Lutz/Land O'Lakes Woman's Club. The local club, one of the largest of its kind in the state, holds fundraisers and contributes thousands of dollars each year in support of the local community.

TRASH-TO-TREASURE CONTEST WINNERS: Pasco County Extension Faculty, Betsy Crisp and Jean Hink, along with program assistant, Caroline Shelton, teamed up to provide an opportunity for local youth to use their creative minds and miscellaneous recyclable, recycled, or throwaway items from around the house to compete for cash awards and prizes in the annual Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H Trash-to-Treasure contest.

There were a total of 53 entries this year involving a total of 59 youngsters.

The contest was open to all who attend public, private or home schools from preschool through eighth grade. High school students were encouraged to enter the Art of Recycling contest.

First-, second- and third-place winners from the contest are displayed at the Pasco County Fair, which concludes today.

Cash awards and prizes will be distributed to winners next week. All artwork is to be picked up from the extension office at 36702 State Road 52, Dade City.

Winners in the Trash-to-Treasure contest are: Preschool division - first place, Jack Walsh, San Antonio; second place, Austin Mescko, Wesley Chapel.

In the K-2 division, winners are: first place, Meredith Abberger, New Port Richey; second place, Josiah Reckart, Zephyrhills; third place, Ciley Spates, Dade City.

In the third- through fifth-grade division, winner are: first place, Bethany Reckart, Zephyrhills; second place, Emma Cunningham, Land O'Lakes; third place, Alexander Maltese, New Port Richey.

Because of numerous entries in the sixth- through eighth-grade division it was divided into two groups.

Best of Show went to Abby Cunningham, Land O'Lakes; first place, James Campbell, Odessa and Angela Hagen, Wesley Chapel; second place, Danielle Bonilla, Wesley Chapel and Kimberly Griesman, Wesley Chapel; third place, Savannah Barrington, Zephyrhills and Amanda Wood, Holiday.

In Group Entries, first place went to Park Rangers 4-H Club of Wesley Chapel.

Judges for the contest were volunteers from Keep Pasco Beautiful.

The contest is made possible by the cooperative efforts of the University of Florida and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences 4-H Programs, the School Board of Pasco County, Pasco County Utilities, Pasco County Parks and Recreation, Pasco County Fair Association and Keep Pasco Beautiful.

For information about the 4-H youth program for youngsters ages 8 to 18 or Cloverbuds ages 5 to 7, contact Hink or Shelton at (352) 521-4288.


FINE ARTS SHOW: The Women's Club of Lexington Oaks will sponsor a fine arts show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 18 at the Lexington Oaks community center. The show will feature artists from the South Pasco Art Works and will include original paintings, photography, jewelry and more.

Lexington Oaks is on State Road 54, west of Interstate 75.

For information about this show call Dave Thompson at (813)996-4477.

GIRL SCOUTS TO HOST EVENT: Girl scouts in Land O'Lakes will be the hosts of Girl Scouts Around the World at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center from 5:30 to 8 p.m. March 9.

The event will begin with a Parade of Flags ceremony. All flags will be placed on a table, and voting will take place throughout the evening to determine the best made flag. After the parade, guests are invited to visit the country displays.

Each Girl Scout troop will choose a country to represent and will host an information booth during the event. The booth will include posters, games, books, brochures, pictures, food and drink. As guests visit each booth their passports will receive a stamp or sticker.

The evening's activities will conclude with the announcement of the flag contest winner and closing ceremonies.

The public is invited to attend this event, which takes place during Girl Scout Week.

For information about this event contact Roni Francois at (813)281-4475, ext. 230.

FLEA MARKET OPENS FRIDAY: The Lutz Land O'Lakes Woman's Club annual Flea Market will take place Friday and Saturday and March 11 at the Old Lutz School, 18819 U.S. 41 in Lutz.

Donations of clothing and household goods from local participants make this flea market one of the biggest in the area each year.

Money raised at the flea market will be returned to the community through projects the Woman's Club sponsors, including the awarding of several thousand dollars in scholarships in spring.

For information about the flea market or any of the Woman's Club activities, call club president, Cheryl Benton at (813) 948-0823.


RUN FOR CHILDREN DRAWS RECORD FIELD: Lee Stephens of Temple Terrace and Angela Hegge of Odessa led a record field of 127 runners in the 5K Run for the Children, which kicked off the recent Kumquat Festival in Dade City.

Through entry fees and sponsorships, Suncoast Voices for Children Inc., which staged the race on behalf of the Guardian ad Litem program, raised thousands of dollars to benefit abused and neglected children in Pasco County.

"The great thing about it is all the money, every penny, goes to the children," said lead sponsor, Lee Musselman of Dade City Realty.

"As good as it is to raise the money, it is even more important to raise awareness about the Guardian ad Litem program and how members of the community can help these children," said Jodi Bixler, community relations and volunteer coordinator for the program. "Hopefully, some people who heard of us through this race will want to enroll in training classes and become Guardians ad Litem themselves."

A volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem program is trained to be the voice of a child in dependency proceedings, the one person speaking solely for the child. Volunteers come to the Guardian ad Litem program from all walks of life. Volunteers must be at least 19 years old and pass a background check.

Volunteers are trained to conduct independent investigations into the lives of the children and their families and the circumstances that caused the children to be removed from their home.

During the course of their investigations, Guardians ad Litem speak with the children, their parents and other family members, social workers, school officials, health care providers and any others who know the children's histories.

Guardians ad Litem visit the children in their current surroundings at least once a month. Based on the results of their investigations, Guardians ad Litem make recommendations to the court.

Volunteers monitor the children's well-being and ensure that court orders are carried out, that the children are getting the assistance they need, whether it be counseling, tutoring, or medical treatment. Volunteers make sure the children and their cases are not lost in a large bureaucracy.

Unlike the Department of Children and Families case workers, who must consider the interests of all family members or attorneys representing the parents, Guardians ad Litem consider only the children's interests.

Through Guardians ad Litem, the children have a voice in determining their future.

In Pasco County, at the end of January, there were 840 children in dependency proceedings. Fewer than half of them, 371, had a volunteer assigned.

Training sessions for those willing to speak up for abused, abandoned and neglected children will begin in Dade City on March 14.

For information about the Guardian ad Litem program call (352) 521-5178 or (727) 834-3493.

LOCAL BUSINESS CONTRIBUTES TO LITTLE LEAGUE: Ierna's Heating and Cooling Inc., along with its heating, ventilating and air conditioning supplier, Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems, are doing their part to help ignite big league dreams in children at young ages. The Land O'Lakes business is providing a generous Little League sponsorship.

"We were looking for an opportunity to support children and found our local Little League to be a perfect fit," said Charlene Ierna,vice president of the company. "We hope that our participation will show how dedicated we are in supporting our local athletes as well as our community."

Ierna's Heating and Cooling Inc. donated equipment such as ball buckets, equipment bags, full-season score books complete with score book magnetic clips and water cooler suitable for dugout use.

"We're here as a locally owned and operated air conditioning company to cheer the (Little) League on and stand behind them 100 percent," said Ierna.

"Little League is a fantastic youth program. I was involved in Little League as a child and as a result earned myself a full softball scholarship to a Division I college. I strongly believe that having our young children involved in Little League, encourages discipline and structure. I feel that is positively strengthens our children's social and interactive skills while keeping our children active and involved in one of our nation's most favorite pastimes, baseball."

Since 2003, Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems has been a sponsor of Little League teams across the country and in 2005, more than 70 Bryant dealers participated in the program to donate $254,422 worth of equipment for that season.

The breakdown includes 3,293 equipment bags, 1,056 water coolers, 7,497 score books, 2,308 ball buckets, and 36,065 refrigerator magnets.

This will be Ierna's Heating and Cooling's first year as a Land O'Lakes Little League sponsor. The company's sponsorship will not only include supplies valued about $4,700, but is also involves a desire to continue sponsoring the local Little League for many years.

"We are so excited to be part of this league and the 83 teams that makes it such a fantastic organization," said Ierna.

For information regarding Ierna's Heating and Cooling or the Little League sponsorship call (813) 948-6355, e-mail or visit

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Hometown Pasco is the reader's page where all special events and celebrations are noted. Whether it is the events of a club or organization, a musical or drama event, sports accomplishment, a milestone anniversary or birthday, or a person's accomplishments in anything from Scouts to school to military, we want to recognize that achievement. Please remember to include a phone number where you can be reached and when scanning photos please use "jpeg' form. Your Hometown Pasco coordinator is Gail Diederich at:

PHONE: (813) 909-4614

FAX: (813) 909-4611


MAIL: 24038 State Road 54, Lutz, FL 33559


Pasco County student winners in the Lutz/Land O'Lakes Woman's Club Youth Writing Contest are: Front row from left, Tiffany Valentino, Tyler Tyndall, Matthew Brink, Samantha Groome, and Frank Bianchi. Back row, from left, Victoria Dahl, Celeste Lipkes and Angelica Kinchen.

WRITING CONTEST WINNERS - HILLSBOROUGH: Winners from the Lutz/Land O'Lakes Woman's Club Youth Writing Contest from Hillsborough County schools are: Front row from left, Emma Doering, Victoria AnhMinh Hoang, Daniel Carr, and Luis Hill. Back row, from left, Ellany Green, Amanda Pillar and Heather Stewart.

LEADS THE 5K FIELD: Lee Stephens of Temple Terrace led all runners across the finish line in this year's 5K Run for the Children. A record of 127 runners entered the race, which kicked off the recent Kumquat Festival in Dade City.

Angela Hegge of Odessa won the women's competition in the 5K Run for the Children with more than a minute to spare.