Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cornerstone Center

Historic former Plant City church building faces uncertain future

A decade ago, a group that wanted to save the former home of First Baptist Church was brimming with optimism.

Members of the nonprofit raised money and spent countless hours working to restore the building where thousands of Baptists worshiped for seven decades.

Today the renamed Cornerstone Center sits vacant, the paint on its sign out front peeling and cracking.

Cornerstone Chapel Inc., the nonprofit that took over the downtown landmark in 2002, envisioned the former church as a special events center. And a smattering of weddings, funerals and even a community theater performance were held there in the first years after the group took ownership.

But the cost to extensively renovate the building and bring it up to modern codes was...

photo via flickr
Cornerstone Center website

Downtown Decision?

Sale of downtown Plant City post office pondered

A top postal official is reviewing the potential sale of the downtown post office, which was shuttered in June 2013.

The Postal Service’s southern area vice president has to sign off on the sale of the building at 301 W. Reynolds St. A decision is expected... photo

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Picking Produce

U-pick field open Saturday to benefit 4-H

Strawberry farmer Carl Grooms will open his fields for U-pick from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to benefit students in 4-H.

The eighth annual strawberry U-pick event will be at Fancy Farms’ Rice Road entrance, off County Line Road. Berries will be available for picking for 50 cents a quart with no limit.

Containers will be provided.

Money raised by the fundraiser will...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Festival Finishes

Florida Strawberry Festival goes out in a big way

Sunday’s traffic on Interstate 4 was horrendous, vendors ran out of shortcake and Reba sold out 20 minutes before show time at the Florida Strawberry Festival.

It was just the kind of a day the festival needed to make up for a near washout earlier in its 11-day run.

“We ran out of shortcake on Sunday. That’s how packed it was. That was a first,” festival General Manager Paul Davis said.

Sunny weather on Saturday and Sunday helped draw big crowds, as did the final headline entertainer, Reba. Not a single seat in the 12,000-seat stadium was available by her 7:30 p.m. Sunday show time.

Total attendance for all 11 days was...

Carnivore Contest

Cooks can win cash and trophies at March 28 chili cook-off

So you think your chili is the best around?

On March 28, you’ll have the chance to prove it.

The Arts Council of Plant City will hold a chili competition from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum at the historic downtown train depot, 102 N. Palmer St. Spectators can sample the chili creations as well as chocolate from nearby Neumeister’s Candy Shoppe for $5.

Organizers of the event, Promoting the Culinary Arts through Chili and Chocolate, are accepting entry forms through March 18.

The entry fee is $15 and there’s more than bragging rights at stake; cash prizes and trophies will be awarded for the best chili in mild, spicy and novelty categories.

A panel of judges will decide on the winners and there will also be a...

Bargain Books

Bruton Memorial Library group to sell books on the cheap

Friends of the Bruton Memorial Library will hold a book sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Hardback books will sell for $1, and paperback and children’s books will be 50 cents. From 2 to 4 p.m. there will be a bag of books for a buck sale, and bags will be provided.

There will be numerous categories of books for sale, as well as...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

County Construction

New $8 million government center to open in Plant City in August 2016

Hillsborough County soon will begin work on a 36,000-square-foot, $8 million building designed to consolidate many county services under one roof.

The East County Government Service Center will include space for the property appraiser, health department, sheriff’s office, clerk of court and social services, among others.

The building is slated to open in August 2016, said Bill Hand, project manager for the county real estate department.

The two-story building will be at Michigan Avenue and Baker Street, next to the Plant City Courthouse, 301 N. Michigan Ave. The service center will be built in front of and replace a county office building at 307 N. Michigan Ave. that was once a grocery store.

The county plans to add 260 parking spaces and tear down the old building after the new one is completed.

The government service center, like the courthouse that opened in 2011, will incorporate...

hok via

Obsolete Office

Historic downtown Plant City post office set for permanent closure

Postal officials have decided that the downtown post office, closed since 2013 due to safety issues, should be shuttered permanently.

The U.S. Postal Service cited “dire economic times” in making the call to close the nearly 80-year-old landmark at 301 W. Reynolds St. A postal regulatory commission has until Feb. 27 to file any objections.

In the meantime, the postal service is seeking a real estate broker’s opinion to determine the value of the 16,000-square-foot building and the parking lot, spokeswoman Enola C. Rice said Friday.

The postal service estimates it will save $224,935 over 10 years, mostly for utilities and maintenance, by closing the building.

Postal officials have estimated it would cost $1.4 million to fix problems that include... photo

Comfy Climate

Tampa Bay area in its fifth winter without a freeze

While some early morning temperatures this winter have touched on chilly, they have not gotten down to teeth-chattering, long-johns wearing, frostbiting, icicles-forming-on-the-strawberries cold.

Another winter in Tampa, another season that came and went, well almost, without a big freeze.

It’s becoming a trend.

The National Weather Service in Ruskin, which keeps daily temperatures at Tampa International Airport, said the last time the mercury dipped below 32 degrees was on Jan. 13, 2010. That’s more than five years with no freezes, though it may feel like freezing to some on those cold winter mornings.

“For some Tampa natives, it’s freezing if it’s in the upper 30s,” said Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist with the weather service. “But the readings come from the airport, which is not far from the bay and that has an influence on the temperatures. There could have been some local spots that...

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Auditions Available

Auditions for PCE's new musical “Tavern Tales 2”.

Presented by Plant City Entertainment, Inc. Community Theater

February 9 and 10 at PCE.7:00 PM- 10:00 pm. Callbacks and possible rehearsal on Feb 16.  All auditions will be held at the Plant City Entertainment, Inc Theater,  101 N. Thomas Street in Plant City.

16 available parts (11 female, 5 male)  Age range Male 18+  Female 16+ (anyone under age of 18 must have parent present at auditions.)

Please be prepared to sing part of a character driven song, Celtic style preferred. Also reading from script will be required.

Costumes not required for auditions.

Please read play and character synopsis.