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Pasco needs ‘Santas’ for seniors and mentors for youth

News and notes from Pasco County
Pasco County community news [TMCCARTY80  |  Tara McCarty]
Pasco County community news [TMCCARTY80 | Tara McCarty]
Published Nov. 30


‘Big’ mentors needed for Pasco youth

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay has scheduled orientation for those interested in becoming mentors to youth in Pasco County. The orientations will provide prospective adult mentors with information on the children the organization serves, the requirements to become a “big,” volunteer commitments and expectations, how to handle cultural differences and the variety of programs offered through the organization. Big Brothers and Big Sisters can spend four to eight hours a month as a mentor. Upcoming sessions include:

• 10:30 a.m. to noon Dec. 7, New Port Richey Public Library, 5939 Main St., New Port Richey.

• 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 9, WellCare, 5113 U.S. 19, New Port Richey.

No reservations needed. For information, contact Deb Kristol-Irwin at or (813) 997-6881.

Santas needed for Pasco’s seniors

Home Instead Senior Care is hosting its “Be a Santa to a Senior” program in the west Pasco area, where community members can give a senior a special holiday gift.

“Be a Santa to a Senior” trees are at various locations through Dec. 16. Each tree is decorated with ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and gift suggestions. Holiday shoppers can select an ornament, purchase the requested gift and return it to the store with the ornament attached. Community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts in time for the holidays.

For tree locations and information, visit or call (727) 845-5819.

Hospice 2020 calendar now available

Gulfside Hospice’s 2020 calendar is available to purchase. The 15-month calendar featuring photos taken in Pasco County, is available at all six Gulfside Hospice Thrift Shoppes, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays.

The calendar is the product of a photo contest held in September. More than 300 photos of Pasco events, places, landmarks and wildlife were submitted, with 19 winning photos chosen to make up the calendar. All proceeds from the sale help support patient care.

The Thrift Shoppes have locations in Dade City, Hudson, Lutz, New Port Richey and Zephyrhills. The calendars are $5. For store addresses and phone numbers, visit or call (727) 845-5707.


Kids host holiday drive

Kids Helping Kids Pasco County will host a Christmas Drive from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 at Heritage Park, 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd. New, unwrapped toys, clothing and shoes will be collected to support local families. For details, visit the Facebook page at


Free HIV testing offered

In recognition of World AIDS Day, the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County will offer a free testing event from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at 10841 Little Road.

The event is held in conjunction with the Public Defender’s Mobile Medical Unit, which offers free rapid HIV and hepatitis C testing at several locations throughout the county each month. Additional free testing for sexually-transmitted diseases is sometimes available as well. For information, visit

Date set to collect hazardous waste

A household hazardous waste and electronics collection event will be offered from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at the West Pasco Government Center complex, 7536 State St. Pasco County residents may dispose of their waste at no cost, but there is a $5 fee for televisions, computer monitors, computer towers and laptops; there is a $10 charge for televisions 36 inches or larger.

For a full list of household hazardous waste items that can be dropped off, visit


County representatives team up for food giveaway

Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, Property Appraiser Gary Joiner, Sheriff Chris Nocco, state Sen. Ed Hooper, state Rep. Ardian Zika and state Rep. Amber Mariano, in conjunction with Farm Share, will host the 25th-annual Farm Share Holiday Food Giveaway from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 13 at Faith Baptist Church, 9230 Ridge Road.

The giveaway includes fresh food donated by Florida’s farmers, as well as meat and other items (hams, canned goods, etc.) needed to make a complete holiday meal.

This is a drive-through pickup event. Food will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. No food will be distributed before 9 a.m. For information, call (727) 847-8032 or (727) 847-8179.


  1. The new Maydell Drive Bridge will be a multi-use bridge to cater to cars, bicyclists and pedestrians with travel lanes, 8-foot shoulders, and a barrier-separated 5' sidewalk & 10' trail. [Hillsborough County]
    Hillsborough County closed the bridge in December 2015 after an independent engineering study found it was structurally unsound.
  2. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer]
    The School Board will consider a $2.2 million package at its Dec. 17 meeting.
  3. New Port Richey City Hall  ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times
    The revamped Sims Park is being used more by daily visitors and events drawing thousands. The New Port Richey City Council discusses how to protect its investment.
  4. Brett Griest, 61, and his wife, Shannon, are the proprietors of the East Main Street Coffee Shop & Sandwich Shop in New Port Richey. The coffee, specialty sandwiches and a neighborly feel keep customers coming back. [Michele Miller]
    Three years in, the East Main Street Coffee and Sandwich Shop is making a go of it.
  5. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. [Courtesy of Lynn Cristina]
    If it helps to pull some good behavior out of my youngest, it will be $29.95 well spent.
  6. Island Fin Poké Company offers freshly prepared and customizable Hawaiian style poké bowls.
    Diners can build their own bowls by choosing from seven proteins, over 25 toppings, house made sauces and mix-ins.
  7. An administrative judge previously said a Pasco County ordinance allowing solar farms in agricultural districts did not violate the county's comprehensive land-use plan. On Tuesday, the county rejected a settlement offer from the litigants who challenged the planned solar farm. [Times]
    Two residents proposed a $165,000 payment to end litigation over a planned solar farm in Blanton.
  8. The Legendary Sirens will perform Dec. 14 and 15 at Weeki Wachee State Park. The nostalgic show features performances by Weeki Wachee Mermaids from the 1940s to the '70s. [Handout]
    Things to do in Pasco and Hernando counties
  9. An artist's rendering of the planned Encompass Health Corp.'s regional office in the Bexley by Newland Communities in Land O' Lakes. [Pasco Economic Development Council]
    The company receives a $983,000 incentive package for the relocation
  10. Rooker Properties of Atlanta plans to build at least 400,000 square feet of industrial and office space at what is now county-owned land on Old Pasco Road, Wesley Chapel. Pictured is Rooker's Spartan Ridge Logistics Center, a 273,000-square-foot, Class-A industrial building in Spartanburg, S.C. It was constructed in 2018, and the company said the buildings planned for the Pasco County site will closely resemble this. [Rooker Properties]
    The inventive package includes a $3.7 million forgivable loan to Rooker Properties.