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Updated: 2 hours 54 min ago

SB I-75 closed at I-275 apex following crash near Bruce B. Downs Boulevard

2 hours 54 min ago

A crash with injuries early Tuesday morning has closed southbound Interstate 75 at the I-275 apex into Hillsborough County.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a three-vehicle crash that involved a semi-truck in the southbound lanes of I-75 near Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, according to an FHP spokesman.

Troopers responded to the crash just after 6 a.m.

The extent of injuries is not yet clear.

Motorists were being diverted onto southbound I-275 just south of Wesley Chapel.

Contact Devin Rodriguez at drodriguez@tampabay.com or Follow @devinreports on Twitter

Ernest Hooper: HCC helps light the way for those on life's winding paths

9 hours 10 min ago

After he graduated from a Maryland high school, Rickey Murray had a number of opportunities awaiting him at a number of four-year institutions.

He eyed the University of South Florida, applied to Florida International University and considered Virginia Commonwealth, where a friend assured him he would have a good time.

Murray, however, didn't think he was ready. With a father in jail and a mother battling drug addiction, he opted to move forward with a different plan: Hillsborough Community College.

"It's the best decision I ever made," Murray tells anyone willing to listen.

Too often, we expect young people to embark on a linear lifepath so straight and narrow it never allows for any deviation. Earn your diploma, go to a four-year university -- like your mom and dad -- and then get a job.

Except some moms and dads didn't go to a university, and some students may not be ready to leap onto a campus with 40,000 students, auditorium classes and "fit in or fall out" social demands. To paraphrase Oasis, the road can be winding and the lights can be blinding.

HCC sits at the intersection of divergent paths. Former HCC professor Liana Fernandez Fox shared the improbable rise of former HCC students Margarita Gonzalez and Shari Zamani, and then Murray and HCC honored alumnus Eric Bailey put exclamation points on the night's theme.

Whether it's a student like Murray who needed to slow life's pace or an underachieving high school student like Bailey, the institution serves as a sort of GPS for its students, lending direction to those whose road may have already gone through a series of twist and turns.

Sure, it draws a fair share of driven honor students and purposeful academics who have life all mapped out. More power to those folks. But in some cases, HCC provides a directional re-route for people who missed the turn, folks looking to change directions and the young and not-so-young who need to find their way home.

Both Murray and Bailey - one a future success, the other a current success - shared their stories at the recent HCC Presidential Showcase, which launched a year-long celebration of the college's 50th year.

Murray had to overcome a lot of challenges in his upbringing, but spoke of them with untainted innocence. He remains awed by what life has to offer and the role the college played in opening new doors.

During his time at HCC, Murray worked as supplemental chemistry instructor, mentored his peers and volunteered at St. Joseph's Hospital. Thanks to the influence of chemistry professor Brenda Alanis, Murray shifted his focus from nursing to medicine. Now he's enrolled in the University of South Florida and he has earned a spot in a prestigious Moffitt Cancer Center research program.

Bailey demurred, saying while Murray has made all the right decisions as a young man, he made all the wrong decisions. Still, he managed to graduate from Leto High School and eventually landed at HCC, where he literally grew more accountable.

He moved on to USF, earned a degree in accounting and now stands as co-founder and principal at CapTrust Advisors in Tampa. He also serves on a number of boards including chairing the United Way Suncoast Board.

Such stories and the realization HCC shines as a community crown jewel inspired supporters to ignite the HCC Foundation's capital campaign with nearly $5 million in donations, including a $1 million gift from Drs. Kiran C. and Pallavi Patel to the HCC for the Allied Health Building and scholarships for students enrolled in health science programs.

The donors know its workforce development programs will prove vital as the county continues to grow. They know with 160 fields of study, the college offers opportunity to anyone willing to put in the work.

They know the school's enrollment of 44,000 -- a third of whom are first-generation college students -- need a boost.

As a community, we can't just tell kids they can be anything they want to be. We have to light the path of success, help them pull through when they veer into dark passages, and never let them lose sight of the awards that await those who persevere.

When we lend support to institutions like HCC, we can be the ones that save them.

That's all I'm saying.

Seffner Chamber gets early look at sales pitch for school tax referendum

9 hours 10 min ago

By Crystal Owens

Times Correspondent

SEFFNER - Business owners have a lot to gain from a proposed sales tax hike to support the schools, Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins told an audience in Seffner last week.

In advance of the Nov. 6 election, Eakins has been making the rounds at groups such as the Greater Seffner Area Chamber of Commerce, which heard his presentation on Sept. 13.

It was an appeal to small business owners to do something not just for school children who are experiencing widespread air conditioning breakdowns, but also for the economy, which benefits from strong schools.Cathy Kudlinski, owner of Absolute Auto and a Seffner chamber board member, agreed, and said she expects to see an uptick in maintenance jobs at the district.

"[The school district] will give every opportunity for you to bid for those jobs," Kudlinski said.-"So, that money stays in our community if those businesses are bidding and getting those jobs. ... How many jobs are we creating by bringing that half-cent into our community? They're bringing the money back home to their families. They have the jobs available."

The proposed tax of half a penny for 10 years would be used for capital goods such as air conditioning equipment and security upgrades at the district's 250 schools.

As the chamber's guest speaker at its monthly luncheon, Eakins warned owners that allowing school buildings to deteriorate could keep businesses away from the county. Families look to good schools when deciding where to live, which in turn, brings in businesses to service their needs, he said.

"When the businesses come here, we've got to make sure we've got the best products we can show," he said.

The sales tax is expected to generate $131 million for specific, planned projects based on need and would cost a family with a medium income of $51,000 about $63 a year, Eakins said. The tax can't be charged on purchases such as groceries or medication and would only affect the first $5,000 of a large purchase.

The district, Eakins said, is in crisis mode as it is still paying $63 million a year on a decades-old bond referendum that helped to fund construction on 70 schools in 12 years. The 2008 recession also hurt Hillsborough County as it was eventually forced to give a half-cent of its operating budget to the state, totaling $30 million to $35 million annually. The county still gives that half-cent to the state, despite a turnaround in the economy over the years.

"Over the course of the last eight to 10 years, we have not received almost $400 million in revenue that would be going into taking care of our buildings and facilities," he said.

There are at least 40 schools in the district that currently need to be overhauled, the superintendent said, and the problem will grow as Hillsborough's population continues to boom.

In the last two years, especially in south Hillsborough County, Eakins said the district experienced a wave of growth with more than 5,000 new students this year. The district is expected to boast up to 222,000 students by the end of October. It's scheduled to start construction on 32 new schools in South County in the next 15 years.

Eakins said the district has run out of options in trying to find ways to generate revenue for the schools' maintenance. The district, he said, can't go into further debt and even lobbying efforts to get the state to return the half-cent to Hillsborough County won't be enough. The half-cent return, he said, would bring the district back a few million dollars each year.

"Right now, our debt is to the point where we have just enough money to keep everything barely afloat through a regular school year in our maintenance program," he said.-"With the investment that we currently have, I think the community is getting a pretty strong return on investment. And I think the teachers in our classrooms and the students in our classrooms deserve optimal conditions to continue that success," he said.

Deputies: Pasco woman escapes attacker after death threats, sexual assault

9 hours 10 min ago

PORT RICHEY - She was home doing laundry when he asked to come over. A few hours later she was running from his house, scared for her life after being raped, robbed and kidnapped, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office.

Tyler Edward Potter, 26, was arrested Sunday after deputies said he raped, kidnapped and threatened to kill a 37-year-old woman he knew.

It started around 3 a.m. Sunday, the Sheriff's Office said. The woman was doing laundry at home and Potter asked to stop by. Once there, the two entered her bedroom where, deputies said, Potter became upset with the woman. Representatives from the Sheriff's Office did not say how the two knew each other or what happened when the two entered the room.

The woman told deputies Potter then bent her over the bed and began raping her as she begged him to stop. He grabbed her by the throat and held her arms behind her back, deputies said, then forced her into his car. She told deputies she was afraid for her life and unable to resist due to Potter's size.

According to deputies, Potter took the woman to his house in Hudson. On the way, he threw her cell phone out the window, took her purse and wallet, and grabbed a silver chain with a cross pendant she had around her neck. Potter said he'd kill her if she called to report anything, deputies said.

The woman was able to escape Potter's house and call 911 from a gas station where deputies retrieved her.

Potter was arrested later that day and charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and robbery.

According to Pasco jail records, Potter has been arrested nearly a dozen times with multiple arrests for domestic battery and theft.

Contact Daniel Figueroa at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts.

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:18pm

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.

In late fall, Joe and Son's Olive Oils is slated to open a second location.

"I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my family's business in the neighborhood where I grew up," Gebbia said.-"My parents moved to original Carrollwood in 1975, which is only 1 1/2 miles from the new location."

Joe and Son's Olive Oils is a family-owned and operated specialty food store that began in 1938 when Gebbia's great-grandfather, Giuseppe (Joe) Favata, opened a neighborhood grocery store in historic Ybor City. Joe and his son, John, offered their customers the finest produce, meats, olive oils, and other staples, while focusing on providing excellent service to their customers.

Though the original shop closed in 1976, Gebbia reopened the business in 2011 in South Tampa.

Joe and Son's Olive Oils offers more than 50 varieties of ultra-premium, imported, extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, including single varietal extra virgin olive oils, infused and fused olive oils, seed and nut oils, and infused aged balsamic vinegars. All of the oils and vinegars are offered for complimentary tasting, and all bottles are poured on site.

Specialty foods include jarred olives, sauces, jams, seasonings, and charcuterie. Cooking demonstrations and events are also held at the store.
Joe and Son's Olive Oils will be located at 11618 North Dale Mabry Highway, next to Noble Crust. For more information, visit joeandsonsoliveoils.com.

SHARE YOUR NEWS: If you have an item for Everybody's Business, contact Danielle Hauser at danihauser20@gmail.com.

Franklin on Twiggs restaurant opens in former downtown Tampa Pita Pit location

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:18pm

DOWNTOWN - After a falling out with the Pita Pit corporate offices, Andrew Turek, the former owner of the SoHo location sold the property to Shula Burger and decided to open a new eatery and market called Franklin on Twiggs in the former downtown Pita Pit location.


According to Turek, they lost confidence in the brand which lacked input and marketing so once it was time to renew the lease, it was clear it was time to start something new.


"You're really controlled and restricted [in a franchise]," he said. "We wanted to try new things, but the brand didn't like us changing from the set norm. So it's really awesome, and probably the best thing we decided to do because it's our own creation now."


The new eatery is best known for its popular tacos, which sources its tortillas from local Red Mesa Cantina in St. Petersburg, and its poke bowls that come in tuna, krab mix, salmon, or spicy tuna. In addition it serves custom-made hot bowls where guests can choose either chicken, pork or steak and a white or brown rice base with black beans, cabbage and spring mix.


The market caters to the average take-out individual and offers easy-to-cook grab and go meals including macaroni and cheese, macaroni salads, chicken salad and more, and a variety of salads as well.


"The idea was to open up a deli market, but instead of doing your regular deli style with cold cut sandwiches and burgers, we decided to go the other route," said Turek.-"It's really cool just being able to offer the downtown residents and a younger crowd something unique- a market to buy your sides, and build your own dinner. Instead of having just one pre-packaged meal you have choices."


Aside from the eatery and market, the restaurant aims to cultivate an artistic experience featuring local artwork and invites guests to draw art on its black chalkboard tables. Brothers Andrew, James and Tom Turek, and Nate Chetelat opened Franklin on Twiggs Sept. 1 at 514 N Franklin St., Suite 105. The concept operates Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and possible plans to only open the market on Sunday.


For more information visit its Facebook page: facebook.com/franklinontwiggs.

SHARE YOUR NEWS: If you have an item for Everybody's Business contact Monique Welch at mwelch@tampabay.com

Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:18pm

In early fall, Retro Fitness will open a 17,000 square foot fitness facility in Citrus Park, and it plans for more Tampa Bay area locations.

Founded in 2005, Retro Fitness has 153 clubs throughout the United States and is the official fitness center of the New York Yankees.

"We're a full service fitness center," said co-owner Joe Liotine.

Husband and wife, Joe and Shawna Liotine, are excited to open their first location and plan to open three more in the north Tampa area.

Retro Fitness offers state-of-the-art equipment, cycling, yoga and Zumba classes, fitness assessments, hydromassage, a smoothie bar, sauna, locker rooms and a kid's club. Small group, large group and personal training and conditioning are available.

Joe Liotine has worked in the fitness industry for 20 years and as a former Marine shares a passion for helping fellow veterans. Retro Fitness Citrus Park includes a special ADA compliant workout area which Liotine helped design so that wheelchairs can have easy access to workout equipment.

In addition, he assists several veterans' programs and donates Retro Fitness memberships to veterans. Liotine also offers a special promotion for members of law enforcement and fire rescue.

Though Retro Fitness is still under construction, a preview center is open and membership registration is underway.

"The response has been amazing," said Joe Liotine.

Retro Fitness is at 6918 Gunn Highway in the space formerly occupied by D1. For more information, call (813) 501-6177, or visit retrofitness.com/citrus-park.


SHARE YOUR NEWS: If you have an item for Everybody's Business, contact Danielle Hauser at danihauser20@gmail.com.

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:18pm

RIVEVIEW - Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.

The short-lived Tap's Brewhouse-& Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to renovate a former bank footprint at 5914 Providence Road, Riverview over the past few years. She believes that her experience in property investment and in running four other Kung Fu Tea franchises will help her and her two business partners grow the brand throughout Florida. Lin, who moved from China to Clearwater when she was 18, opened Florida's first Kung Fu Tea near the University of South Florida in 2014.

Last month she brought the concept to the SouthShore area, with a few twists. In addition to serving classic teas (like green, oolong and black) using leaves that are fresh brewed for three hours, Kung Fu Tea also serves new mike teas, punch like honey lemonade and slush drinks like mocha. Lin brought only the most popular beverages from the more than 60 on the menu at the original Fowler Avenue store and she added a full food menu, the so called Chi Chop with hibachi, grilled and fried chicken entrees.

"I'm interesting, so I tried to do everything,' Lin said about renovating everything from the menu to the dining room.-"I think it looks better."

The fast casual atmosphere allows patrons to place their order where the bar used to be for the last two businesses, and take a number to newly-designed seating areas where the food is delivered to them. Lin said she installed sunset blocking divider walls and spent a lot of time and money on the color scheme, tables, chairs and upgraded bench seating.

"I spent a lot for the furniture so customers can relax and be more comfortable," she said.-"So the customers can enjoy not just the food only."

The new Japanese Hibachi fare starts at $9.95 for the chicken and increases for beef, shrimp and salmon options. Starters include fried calamari for $8.50 and a different fried experience with the Ninja chicken cutlet forr $8.50. Chi Chop takes an extra large, 12-ounce bone in chicken, flattens and deep fries it. If you like spice, ask for additional pepper powder.

Lin has plans to open more Chi Chop and Kung Fu Tea locations in Largo, Sarasota and St. Petersburg. She said all her restaurants will feature three pillars of success that she feels are important for the customer:-"fresh, clean and service."

Visit facebook.com/cckftriverview/ to see what she is referring to or stop into her newest store - she thinks it will be around for a while.

''I think it's a good location for me because of our products," Lin said.-"I like this area."

Caribbean cafe adds frozen meal offerings

Perhaps you've picked up one of their sauces in a booth at a show or event all over Florida, or grabbed a meal earlier this year at Hey Mon's Caribbean Café's newest location at 213 Kingsway Road, Brandon, F. Well now you can take a meal home for later as the Caribbean/American restaurant recently announced it is offering frozen meals.

Call your order in, drive to the side entrance and pick it up in approximately 10 minutes - hot or cold. Call (813) 502-5710. Also visit facebook.com/HeyMonsCafe/to see what event Hey Mon's will attend next

SHARE YOUR NEWS: If you have an item for Everybody's Business, contact Eric Vician at ericvician@yahoo.com.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: The Weekly Wrapup for Sept. 21

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:18pm

Lions Eye Ball: An Optical Illusion

If only Justin Sight could vanish corneal blindness, like the cards the legally-blind magician made disappear at the Eye Ball: An Optical Illusion, the 12th annual benefit for the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research Foundation which funds the processing and distribution of cornea tissue to those who cannot afford sight-saving surgery.

Saturday 's gala began atop the Tampa Airport Marriott with 360-degree view and appetizers from Roy's, Ava and Harpoon Harry's. Dinner and the magic show followed in the ballroom where CEO Jason Woody marked the organization's 45th anniversary.

"You can donate tissue through your driver's license and you can donate right here tonight," said auctioneer Sherry Truhler pitching a 52-card deck for $100 each; the winning cardholder getting to choose from the 10 packages in the live auction. Lucky Karen Santiago aced that "Best of" raffle and picked the New Orleans trip. Mystery Boxes sold for $50, $100 and $150, later revealed to be loaded with wine, hotel, restaurant and attraction gift certificates, helping to net $100,000 for the gratis ocular tissue program.

Fourth annual Beer and Bow Ties

Calls to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay nearly doubled in June when Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, said CEO Clara Reynolds at Beer and Bow Ties, an annual benefit to reinforce that fear, shame or stigma should never stop anyone from seeking mental health counseling.

Organizers more than doubled the ticket price this year to $100 and still easily filled the Orlo House and Ballroom in Hyde Park with 350 guests, mostly in the high-suicide demographic of 30 to 50ish, drawn to craft beers, intriguing cocktails restaurant bites and the vital message. Event co-founder Brent Kraus chose the sartorial theme in memory of his bow tie aficionado brother Matthew; Laurence Hall sponsored the Sept. 14 benefit in memory of his son Spencer.

EmpowerED luncheon

Hillsborough Education Foundation president Kim Jowell and Steinbrenner High senior Christian Bermudez kicked off EmpowerED (formerly known as the Teaching Tools luncheon) with a math lesson: $28 million in school supplies since 2002, more than $3 million to 174 schools last year. That includes 6 million pencils, not counting those forming the clever sunflower centerpieces on each table Sept. 11 at Armature Works. HEF averages 312 college scholarships annually and pairs 350 students with mentors.

Superintendant Jeff Eakins shared uplifting accomplishments despite dismal state resources, noting that Florida ranks 44th in education funding in the country. So vote yes Nov. 6, urged Jowell, to approve a half-cent local sales tax referendum.

Board chairwoman Kim Thresher presented the Sue House Champion award to George Suter for volunteering more than 2,500 hours over 11 years. Teacher David Seis and Memorial Middle School eighth grader Day'Nay Oates added their thanks as the event raised nearly $100,000.

Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:18pm

TAMPA---A southern white rhinoceros gave birth to a calf at ZooTampa on Sept. 12, marking the sixth successful birth of the species in the zoo's history.

In a news release, ZooTampa said southern white rhinoceroses are a nearly threatened species and can be found predominantly in four African countries -- Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"ZooTampa is deeply committed to the species' continued survival, both at home and beyond," said Chris Massaro, ZooTampa's general curator. "Every birth brings hope to the continued conservation of this incredible species."

ZooTampa says it participates in a rhino group with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that follows a survival plan for the southern white rhinoceros. ZooTampa has contributed $100,000 to rhino conservation projects, such as anti-poaching and habitat repair and restoration efforts.

A high demand for keratin, a protein found in rhino horn that is believed to have medicinal properties, is blamed in the poaching deaths of rhinos in record numbers, ZooTampa said in the release. The northern white rhino, a relative of the southern white rhino, has been considered extinct in the wild, with only two remaining in professional care.

The rhino birth comes just a month after the birth of a rare, endangered okapi -- a species of giraffe -- at the zoo.

ZooTampa says guests can see the rhino calf on the Zoo's safari tram ride, which is included with daily admission, or by adding a white rhino encounter experience for $10.

Contact Josh Fiallo at jfiallo@tampabay.com Follow @ByJoshFiallo.

Colombia-based body shapewear boutique, Sexy Skinz opens second location in South Tampa

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 5:03pm

After listening to the needs of men and women desiring and personally desiring to look slimmer without having to exercise, Colombia native, Elizabeth Muñoz spent years designing top-of-the-line body shapewear at her undergarment shop in Colombia.

Muñoz started by searching different manufacturers and fabric companies to create unique body shapers with the best fabric technology found in the market, and from her research she found most people desired comfort.

She operated an undergarment shop in Colombia and in 2006 she decided it was time to take her business to the U.S., so she opened her first American shop, Sexy Skinz in North Tampa.

Now after 12 successful years growing her business and learning that many of her clientele reside in South Tampa, Muñoz has recently opened her second shop in August at 3627 W Kennedy Blvd.

Sexy Skinz prides itself on its quality, comfortable fabrics all of which are made in Colombia and its elegant body shapers that are available in 59 different styles such as off the shoulder, open back, razorback, ones just for the waistline and more, and available in a variety of sizes from double extra small to double extra large.

In addition, all of the shapewear has a reducing gel on the inside, and there are a variety of body shapers such as post surgery ones, post partum, back support, waist clinchers, body waist reducers, and butt lifters.

-"It's just amazing and it's super comfortable to enhance your silhouette,' Muñoz said.-""Although you can find some online, you can't touch the material. Here you can try it on and you feel the difference than ones online, which are cheap material and get uncomfortable after a couple hours."

Muñoz, who is also a new mother, says the body shapers inspired her to stay in shape and makes her appear 10 pounds smaller. Prices for the body shapers start at $44 and increase to $198.

Sexy Skinz operates from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and plans a grand opening towards the end of this month. For more information visit sexyskinz.com.

SHARE YOUR NEWS: If you have an item for Everybody's Business contact Monique Welch at mwelch@tampabay.com.

Epilogue: Erin Kitzinger, filmmaker and yogi, remembered for caring spirit

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 10:56am

ST.PETERSBURG - Erin Kitzinger, a filmmaker and yoga instructor, always marched to the beat of her own drum.

"Even from an early age she never followed the crowd," her mother, Linda Zweifel, said. "She always wanted to do the right thing."

Ms. Kitzinger, 36, died last month after close to a yearlong battle with cancer. Her friends and family remembered her for her intense loyalty and caring nature.

Ms.Kitzinger was born in Tampa and moved to St. Petersburg, where she attended Childs Park and was part of the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.

She attended the University of Central Florida, where she studied film and psychology and then became a part of its first class of a Master of Fine Arts program in film, where she quickly made several lifelong friends.

Andrew Gay, who now teaches film at Southern Oregon University, said he first met Ms. Kitzinger through a mutual friend a year older than him who was at UCF.

"The next year when I started, Erin really went out of her way to check on me and make me feel welcome and make sure I was adjusting well," Gay said. "We became very close very quickly. ... She was really like a sister to me."

The two worked on many projects together and he produced the capstone film she directed.

"When I started producing my own stuff, she was always someone I wanted to be on set with me," he said.

Ms. Kitzinger's own films won her invitations to a women's leadership conference in Dubai, and one, Hope For a Thorn, won awards from the Gasparilla International Film Festival, La Femme International Film Festival Award and Sarasota Film Festival.

"She was very passionate about women's stories and women's experiences," Gay said. "Looking back at all her short films and her feature films, they all sort of dealt with a certain loneliness that maybe Erin saw with a lot of women, the burden that society creates that loneliness for women."

After graduating from UCF, Ms. Kitzinger moved back to St. Petersburg for a year before moving to Chicago for four and a half years where she worked as a freelance editor.

She wanted a taste of the big city life, her mother said, but decided to come back to St. Petersburg.

David Jones, a musician based in Canada who wrote the music for some of Ms. Kitzinger's films, said he was impressed with the insightfulness of her work.

"She was comfortable with the idea of exposing, I don't want to say dark, but the unusual side of things," he said. "That idea combined with a really good eye and a really excellent way of depicting it. Some of her films are really quite beautiful. She seemed to have that capability as a running consistency in her work."

Though they mostly stayed in touch online, Jones said he was in awe of how open she was to making connections.

Once, when he was about to meet her, he saw her crossing the road and stopping to chat with someone. He asked her if she'd run into a friend.

"She said 'oh, no,'" he said. "But the way she was talking ... she was just so open and kind. ...I think her personality came out in her work. That openness came out into what she was able to communicate in her movies."

Her father, Paul Kitzinger, remembered her as a creative kid who loved watching movies and reading.

The family had season tickets each year to the University of Florida football games, but it was only later in life did she develop an actual interest in watching the game. Paul Kitzinger said he remembered his daughter bringing books with her and reading through the entire game since the time she was in the third or fourth grade.

Her love for books stayed with her even later in life.

She and some friends once maintained a website where they committed to reading 50 books a year and blogging about each.

Kelly Kirschner, vice president and dean of the division of Executive and Continuing Education at Eckerd College, where Ms. Kitzinger worked as Director for Annual Giving in the advancement department, dated Ms. Kitzinger for a year and a half. Kirschner said he thought Ms. Kitzinger's quick wit and quips came from her love for books.

He'd met her at an Eckerd College function and later got to know her better through a weekly yoga and meditation program she started on campus with the campus chaplain. Ms. Kitzinger was also involved in the Tampa Bay yoga community.

"I was immediately struck by her radiant beauty, not just on the outside, but on the inside," he said. "Part of her beauty is that she's an incredibly creative individual and one of the most well-read people I've ever known. ... In the year she fought cancer, none of that beauty waned or wavered."

Kitzinger never felt sorry for herself, he said, and took to making art of her cancer treatment, creating photo shoots about finding comfort in a new body after she shaved her head and underwent a double mastectomy.

Paul Kitzinger said that after her death, the family learned of many women who had recently been diagnosed with cancer whom Ms. Kitzinger had reached out to and comforted, even in her final days.

Libby Carnahan had met Ms. Kitzinger about six or seven years ago through a mutual friend and had seen her at various events over the years.

Carnahan was diagnosed with breast cancer three weeks after Kitzinger.

Kitzinger messaged Carnahan on Facebook after learning of her diagnoses from the mutual friend and the two began texting each other daily through chemotherapy and radiation.

"You can't just talk about cancer to people who have never had cancer as much as other people want to help and empathize," Carnahan said.

She and Kitzinger both found comfort and community in Instagram, she said, and Kitzinger created an account where she chronicled her battle with cancer and connected with other women with similar diagnoses.

"She was incredibly open and honest and and very caring," Carnahan said. "She cared about other people. ...A lot of women are not happy about how breast cancer has been branded. People need to feel open and honest."

Carly Mertz, who met Ms. Kitzinger in yoga teacher training, said her greatest strength was her vulnerability.

"She was such a light in this world that can seem so dark at times," Mertz said.

On her 36th birthday in July after finishing radiation, Kitzinger posted a photo of herself from the year before.

"I'm not that person anymore, and I never will be again," she wrote. "In some ways, that's sad. I've lost a lot in the past year: my breasts, my hair, my ability to bear children, my naive sense of security in my health and the promise of a long life. But I've gained so much more than I've lost ... I've also allowed myself to become more vulnerable and open. I know the depths of my community. I understand love more than ever before. I know that nothing is guaranteed, and, no matter how much you might plan, the universe can throw you curveballs anytime. Life is a gift. However much time we have, all that matters is what we do with it."

Contact Divya Kumar at dkumar@tampabay.com or . Follow @divyadivyadivya.

Hillsborough deputy fatally shoots wife, turns gun on himself with children in home

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 7:44am

LAND O'LAKES -- A Hillsborough County deputy fatally shot his wife early Monday morning before turning the gun on himself in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

In an early-morning news conference, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said four children -- no older than 14 years old -- were inside the home in the 17000 block of Terrazzo Way at the time of the shooting around midnight.

According to Nocco, deputies responded when a 14-year-old ran from the house and called 911 after hearing an argument and a shot fired inside the home.

Once deputies arrived and entered the home, they found the body of a woman on a couch, Nocco said. Once they went up the stairs, they found three other children safe, but the unnamed deputy dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in another room, according to a preliminary investigation.

Nocco said the deputy did not appear to have used his service weapon in the shooting, and the Sheriff's Office had not previously been called to the home.

"Just pray for these kids," Nocco said.-"It's Monday morning, there's a lot of people waking up, getting ready to go to school, and there's four children trying to put their shattered lives together and figure out what just happened to them overnight."

Nocco said the 14-year-old who called 911 lived in the home, but the relationships of all the children were not clear, pending next of kin, Nocco said.

"Our biggest priority is the children," Nocco said.-"It's devastating for that woman, it's absolutely horrendous that she lost her life this way. But right now we've got to figure out how to help those kids."

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

A Hillsborough County deputy fatally shot his wife before turning the gun on himself early Monday morning.

Joe Henderson: Lesson learned from six weeks of kitchen remodeling - never again!

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 4:41am

Two amazing events just took place at my house. I unloaded clean dishes from our dishwasher and rinsed my cereal bowl in the kitchen sink.

Yeah, I know. So what, right?

Well, when you've been without a kitchen for about six weeks, small things become big things. And at Casa Henderson, that simple exercise meant normal had finally arrived. Sort of.

The lovely Mrs. H and I had planned this kitchen renovation for months. Actually, she planned it and I did what all good husbands do, nodding yes to basically everything she suggested.

New cabinets. New countertops. A new pantry. Raised ceiling.

The whole smack.

Our house was built in the mid-1980s. It had one of those drop-down kitchen ceilings that must have looked really groovy 30-some years ago but was about 20 years past its prime. It had to go, along with just about everything else.

If you have ever taken on that challenge at your house, you know what's coming next. If you haven't, be forewarned.

It got real when Hugh, our one-man-gang contractor, begin demolishing the old cabinets. That meant our refrigerator was moved to the living room, where it stayed for several weeks.

We packed food, silverware, dishes and assorted other stuff in boxes and stored them in the living and family rooms. That led to a lot of questions like, "Honey, which box has the salt?"

Did you know you can cook yellow rice on a gas grill? I took a risk. It wasn't horrible.

Well, our stove was in the garage, along with the dishwasher. Our kitchen sink was on its way to Habitat For Humanity. Our microwave was on the dining room table, under a pile of stuff.

There are about 87 bazillion styles of cabinets from which to choose. Mrs. H looked at all of them - well, close - and I just kept nodding in agreement. Whatever you say, dearest.

Those spiffy new cabinets need handles. I had no clue that choosing a cabinet handle was a big deal, but it is.

Now, Mrs. H can be, oh, what's the word? Exacting.

She watches all those home renovation shows, critiques their work - yes, even you, Property Brothers - and she is much better at figuring out how things go together than me.

She is methodical and doesn't like to make major decisions until she has explored all the options.

All. The. Options.

"Honey, do you like this paint?"

"What do you think of these handles?"

"You like this color for the cabinets?"

"How about this one?"

"That one?"

And that was before we went looking for countertops.

Granite?

Quartz?

Marble?

We prowled through a couple hundred giant slabs of high-grade, low-grade, and medium-grade rock before settling on a piece of white granite mixed with black-and-gray speckly things.

The cabinets were delivered a couple of weeks ago, and that's when we learned the new pantry was missing shelves. That meant about two more weeks of prowling through boxes in the living room looking for pasta or salt.

When they finally sent the shelves, Hugh went, "Uh oh," and started laughing.

That's not something you want to hear after six weeks of your fridge in the living room.

The company had sent the wrong hardware for the shelves.

But, I'm happy to report that we are almost at the finish line. The cabinets are in place. The fridge (icemaker!) is where it needs to be. The stove is out of the garage and it works. The microwave is installed over the stove.

The dishwasher works. We don't have to wash dishes in the bathroom any more.

The cabinets look great. Countertops look great. And I learned something valuable: The next time we do this - oh, who am I kidding.

There will be no "next time."

Pinellas news briefs

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 4:41am

Recreational fishing class to start at Madeira Beach Marina
Captain David Zalewski, operator of the charter boat Lucky Too III, will teach a six-week recreational fishing course beginning Oct. 10 at the Madeira Beach City Marina, 503 150th Ave. The class will meet on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Subjects to be covered include knot systems; care, selection and use of tackle; electronics; artificial lure inshore fishing; bottom fishing; live bait; hardware trolling, artificial reefs and the cleaning of fish. The fee is $60. For information or to make reservations call (727) 460-9893 or e-mailLuckytoo2@aol.com

Young Eagles Flight Rally set for Oct. 13
The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 282 will hosts a "Young Eagles" Flight Rally at Clearwater Airpark, 1000 N Hercules Ave. from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 13 for youth ages 8-17. Registration is open by going to eaa282.org and clicking on the "Young Eagles" tab. Other activities scheduled for the Flight Rally include a pilot's briefing, monitoring the aircraft communications and touring the Chapter 282 hangar where an aerobatic airplane is being built.

Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 78 offers safe boating program

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 78 offers a 12-week repeating cycle Safe Boating Program that meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 1500 Pass-a-Grille Way, St. Pete Beach. Start at any point in the cycle. Arrive the first time at 6:30 p.m. to register. Materials are included in the program, which costs $45 for 12 weeks ($60 for couples sharing). Call (727) 360-4846, (941) 504-4855 or (727) 865-2226.

Volunteer group seeks homes to paint in Safety Harbor

Paint Your Heart Out Safety Harbor, a group of volunteers 100-plus strong, is seeking homes to paint on Paint Day, March 9. To qualify, the homeowner must live in a house in Safety Harbor as their primary residence and have one of the following hardships:

· be over age 62 with a limited income, or;

· be physically disabled, or;

· have a family income equal to or less than the HUD poverty level.

Nominations can remain anonymous and individuals may nominate themselves. Email PYHOSH@gmail.com, or call PYHOSH President Rick Shampaine at (813) 758-8883.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 4:41am

Imagination, a gala

"Onward, Upward, Outward" reflects the ambitious goals and theme of Imagination, the 16th annual gala for the Glazer Children's Museum. Co-chairs Jennifer and Justin Phelps embedded bars and buffets within the exhibits, (antipasto, sushi, tacos, New York strip steak - SaltBlock Catering really kicked it up a notch this year), making each floor more fun. The 500 guests summited to the top floor for dessert, dancing and a super auction. How super?

Two Super Bowl LIII tickets with transportation to Atlanta on a private jet went to Matt Tolba and Tamer Youssef for $16,000. Amy and Raphael Drehsen bid $13,000 for the Manchester United super fan trip. A silent auction of career days for little learners and leaders added even more to the Sept. 7 gala proceeds.

CEO Jen Stancil and emcee Jason Alpert thanked all 50 sponsors before the band Frequency kicked in and a hot air balloon emblazoned with the gala logo landed in Curtis Hixon Park for late night photo ops.

KEEP UP: Track all the events of the season with Amy Scherzer's 2018-19 Social Calendar.

13th annual Martinis for Moffitt

Everybody was in a mood to party with the handsome and charming Bay Area Advisors, famous for hosting their Martinis for Moffitt midsummer blowout. The men's club maxed the attractivity score as 1,200 guests scoped out the highly Instagrammable scene July 21. DJ Fresh knows this crowd loves to dance, some swapped stilettos for flip flops from a big cart in the Straz Center lobby. They also like to sip Tito's Vodka lemonade and eat prawns, ceviche, short ribs and salads plus Boat Run Oysters and Cigar City Beer outside in huge air-conditioned tents.

A big, fat check is coming to the Moffitt Cancer Center soon from chairmen Matt Schwartz, Eric Rabinowitz, Ryan Conigliaro and Brady Diggs who collected a whopping $260,000 that night to add to the $1.2 million they have already raised for prostate cancer research and the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program.

27th annual Gourmet "Feastival"

VIP guests got dibs on a cozy lounge and Yacht StarShip scallops and pork bellies at the 27th annual Gourmet Feastival hosted by the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women. They had exclusive grazing privileges for an hour before another 1,000 supporters swarmed into Armature Works, the eaters as diverse as the edibles offered. ranging from Ava to Zeko's Grill. My fav: World of Beer's Guinness and mint chocolate ice cream float.

The Chello Hollyday Band amplified the vibe Aug. 23 while emcee Allison Kropff of WTSP-Ch. 10 inspired the foodies to raise more than $50,000 so the Centre can continue to offer financial, employment and wellness coaching as they have for 40 years.

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Whitman: Rainbow yarmulke signals arrival of new rabbi at Brandon's Beth Shalom

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 10:38pm

Rabbi Bryan Mann wears a rainbow yarmulke to offer a message.

Mann, the new Rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom in Brandon, wants all people to know they are welcome and accepted.

As a Jewish youth growing up in New Hampshire, Mann chose not to come out as gay. Religious teachings about homosexuality left him confused. Still, he felt a deep connection to the Torah and Judaism.

In high school, Mann became involved with NFTY NE, a Jewish youth group organization, in which he learned from his peers and became a leader. He later studied abroad in Israel, before earning a degree in Jewish Studies from Temple University. At age 19, he began speaking openly about this sexual orientation. He then went on to study at the Rabbinical school of Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, where he was ordained June 3, 2018.

Mann served as a social justice intern of Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Brookline, Massachusetts and was active in Keshet, an organization dedicated to LGBTQ persons inclusion in Jewish Life.

Congregation Beth Shalom is his first placement as a senior Rabbi.

I spoke to Mann, 29, about his new role and the acceptance of LGBTQ people within Jewish culture.

When did you first see yourself becoming a Rabbi?

I started falling in love with the Jewish rituals and practices through my youth group. When I was about 15 I became really involved. I was able to see my peers lead and had the opportunity to lead. My Rabbi at synagogue was never connected to the youth. So, at the time I thought being a Rabbi meant being like him and I didn't want to be like him. It wasn't until I was 19 and in Israel, when I had a spiritual experience, that I understood being a Rabbi was what I was meant to do.

When you started Rabbinical school, you were openly gay, how has your lifestyle been received within Judaism?

Well, being a gay rabbi, sometimes people do think twice about it. Sometimes people outside the Jewish world are shocked. Someone in the LGBTQ community will ask what I do and when I say I'm a Rabbi they say, 'A gay Rabbi, is that a thing? You can do that?' Within Judaism, people who are very involved in Jewish life usually understand that this is where we are at now, that it makes sense. People who haven't been to synagogue in years are sometimes surprised. Really, there are a lot more of us than there used to be. Another gay rabbi was ordained with me and there are transgender rabbis as well.

Judaism still has its own problematic history with acceptance of LGBTQ people. When I was a kid, I grew up hearing the Rabbi read the text on Yom Kippur, 'No man shall lay with another man' and without context, I didn't understand what that meant for me. It was really frustrating for me at 15, 16 and 17, not knowing what to do with that text.

That's why I wear my rainbow yarmulke to show LGBT Jewish people they can be involved in religious life, that it can be a community for them. It is important for us to say this is who I am. I am valued. I am loved.

How do you and others working toward change address the text on Yom Kippur?

I don't know yet how Congregation Beth Shalom handles the text. What I have done and have seen done well is to add your own words of interpretation before the text. One interpretation is that it is about two men laying together to worship another God. Another interpretation is about power dynamics. I will most likely bring in some of my own words.

What brought you to Congregation Beth Shalom?

Through Rabbinical school, I sent out resumes and went on interviews. I found Congregation Beth Shalom and they found me. They are a really great fit. They are welcoming and accepting, they have a deep love and respect for everyone in the community. A lot of congregations present themselves as being this way but the people at Beth Shalom really own it.

How are things going so far?

It's going well. It's been a little bit of a sprint with the High Holidays. I arrived in August so I had just over a month to get ready. I've been focused on meeting and getting to know the people. I've been doing care visits and try to be at religious school on Sundays.

What new things have you implemented? What are your plans for the year?

We started live streaming services online. I've been reaching out to members on Yahrzeit, the anniversary of deaths of loved ones, which gives them an opportunity to share stories and honor the person they are mourning.

Really, I am taking this time to really find out what the congregation needs, to sit down with people and ask what they are looking for from me, what programs and efforts do they care about? If I came in and said this is what I care about and this is what we need to do, that wouldn't work out well.

Will you offer programs for LGBTQ youth?

I don't really know how we will be involved as a community but youth are always welcome to come to me for support.

You are considered a young rabbi? Have you faced any discrimination because of your age?

Not discrimination. Some people will say you are the same age as my grandchildren or things like that, which can make me question if they see me as their rabbi or a grandchild, but they mean it as a way to form a sweet connection. With my messages related to activism, it can sometimes get tricky. Some elders sometimes see the world differently than I do. So, I try to come from a place of listening and trying to understand.

We as Jews have an opportunity right now to support these others groups who are dealing with oppression. We need to organize and support these communities. We need to work together.

How have you been involved in civil rights activism?

In Boston I was very involved. I participated in different organization and marched in March for Our Lives. Here I am still looking into organizations to become involved with and whether I will be involved as an individual, we (Beth Shalom) will be involved as a community or I will invite the community to be involved as individuals.

What advice do you offer LGBTQ Jewish youth?

Coming from my own experience, my advice for all youth is the same. For me, growing up, a lot of times it was implied to leave talking about God and religion up to the adults, that there would be time to get involved when we were older. I want youth to know they can get involved now.

Go different places, try different communities and if you don't feel right there, you haven't found your people yet. Keep looking. Jewish youth need peer support as much as they do adult support.

For more information on Congregation Beth Shalom visit bethshalom-brandon.org.

Contact Sarah Whitman at sarahrothwhitman@gmail.com.

MPOs survey SouthShore residents about transportation needs

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 7:23pm

RUSKIN -- The Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organizations say the time is now to improve the area's transit needs.

The organizations continued their joint effort to survey the thoughts of residents at a Sept. 13 community meeting at the South Shore Regional Library. They're working together to develop a long-range transportation plan to accommodate economic growth and implement transportation projects throughout the Tampa Bay region.

"We want to make sure we are meeting the needs and desires of the neighborhood," Sarah McKinley, the principal planner for Hillsborough MPO.-"We can bring up new cost estimates and a new implementation plan ... to hand off to HART and say, 'Here are the updated costs, here's sort of a phased approach to implement it.'"

The ultimate goal is to create a "master transit plan" as well as an "action plan" to move forward. The MPO has already hosted three community meetings with another one tentatively scheduled for the first or second week in November.

At the most recent meeting, organizers revealed what the MPO has learned and drawn up so far. Jeanette Berk, from Gannett Fleming, the engineering consulting firm working with the Hillsborough MPO and HART, said the idea is to create connectivity within the community and link it to major hubs.

"It's really two markets in the area," Berk said.-"Circulation to key destinations within the area itself and... the workers who need to get downtown or to MacDill."

Berk shared six different route scenarios and the operational costs associated with each. The cheapest route, running from the Park and Ride near the Amazon warehouse in Ruskin all the way to Downtown Tampa is estimated at $3.5 million.

Ironically, the two shortest routes, from Amazon to Gibsonton and from Amazon to the Brandon Mall are the two most expensive at approximately $6 million and $7 million dollars each. The problem of getting people to the bus stop by Amazon remains in each scenario. Berk discussed the notion of-"mobility hubs," which would be a short transit system running locally to help people in surrounding neighborhoods make the connection. A community-oriented type of system is often brought up in South Shore transportation conversations but rarely are logistics and specifics included.

In this case, Apollo Beach attorney Mike Patterson explained why there always seems to be a hang-up in regards to-"mobility hub" proposals.
Patterson, who worked on a transportation study of this area in 2014 found a-"chicken or the egg" type relationship between ridership and reliability. Riders won't take a bus route if it's not efficient and reliable. Transit organizations won't invest in a route if people aren't riding.

This conundrum leads the MPO to the next step of their plan, estimating ridership for the different alternatives. Once the ridership-to-cost math is worked out, an action plan can be phased and handed over to HART.

Steve Feigenbaum, the director of service development at HART said,-"This survey is the first step on a pretty long road."

Take the survey at ItsTimeTampaBay.org.

Times correspondent Kathy Straub contributed to this report. Contact Sara Straub at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Women's Expo to feature Tampa Bay Times staffers

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 4:06pm

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Times presents its inaugural Tampa Bay Women's Expo and the event will include an opportunity to meet many of its key women staff writers and editors.

Susan Taylor Martin (Senior Correspondent/Real Estate) and Managing Editor Jennifer Orsi (10 a.m.), Diggin Florida Dirt Gardening Columnist Penny Carnathan and Tampa marketing director Lynn Cristina (11 a.m.),Times Food Critic Laura Reiley and Things to Do Editor Sharon Wynne (noon), Times Book Editor Colette Bancroft and Times Tampa Social Columnist Amy Scherzer (1 p.m.), Arts Writer Maggie Duffy and Features Editor Stephanie Hayes (2 p.m.) and Bay Magazine editor Katherine Snow Smith (3 p.m.) will rotate through at the special Times exhibit table.

This one-day special event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (Sept 29) in the Entertainment Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301, and features exhibits, shopping, entertainment, giveaways, interactive seminars and education on a wide range of women's interests such as fashion, health and wellness, travel, beauty, lifestyle and more.

Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

At the same time, WBVM/Spirit FM 90.5 will host its fifth annual Catholic Women's Conference from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Special Events Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds as well.

This year's conference features Father Leo Patalinghug, the founder, host and director of Plating Grace and former competitor on Throw Down! With Bobby Flay, and singer-songwriter Sarah Kroger and Sister Mary Jackson.

The event has nearly tripled in size since its started in 2014 and the planning committee at Spirit FM expects an even greater turnout this year.

"We've sold out so quickly every year; we knew we had to make room to grow," said conference organizer Danielle Wright.

"There is definitely a need and a desire for this kind of event in our community."

Nativity Catholic Church and School in Brandon is a proud, presenting sponsor of the event and supports women wanting to grow in their faith and sign on as presenting sponsors.

"We are proud to support our women of faith, so they can recharge the fire in their soul and grace in their hearts," said Robert Martin, Nativity's director of finance and operations in a prepared statement.

Contact Monique Welch at mwelch@tampabay.com.

USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 4:06pm

Editor's note: Academy of the Holy Names junior Tress Jacobs spent the summer of 2018 shadowing Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper. To conclude the experience, she interviewed Academy alumnus Kim Wilmath Hill and filed this report.

By Tress Jacobs

Times Correspondent

TAMPA - Courageous, brilliant, an Academy of the Holy Names graduate, and an expectant mother.

It all describes Kim Wilmath Hill. At 31, she possesses admirable experience in a plethora of communications fields, from journalist to public relations, to working for the state university system Board of Governors and a cybersecurity firm to now serving as the assistant vice president of communications at the University of South Florida.

All of her jobs have required a vast skill set that few possess. The resume reflects the fact Hill is not afraid to take risks and try new things, but she was not always like this.

"I was shy and probably lacked the confidence, I think, that you need to really succeed in what you want to do," Hill said.

Hill, who attended Academy on scholarship, credited the school multiple times for her forward attitude and her development into the confident woman she is today.

"I tried to squeeze as much out of the experience that I could," Hill said.

While Hill holds fond memories of the school, the staff and teachers remember her as a natural leader.

"Kim was known for being a leader in her class," said Kerry Keegan, Academy's longtime college counselor. "I vividly remember her being the student that her classmates chose to give the senior farewell speech."

Hill always had a feeling that her career path would have something to do with writing but her passion for journalism began at Academy in her former English teacher's journalism class.

"I signed up for an elective one semester, which was journalism. I had no idea what it was, no idea ... luckily I loved it," Hill said. "I got really into the page designs, so I'd come to school early and I'd go on the computer and design out the pages and the layout and everything.

"And that was great because that really is what lead me to doing journalism in college."

It was in that class that Hill decided to continue her exploration of journalism at the University of Florida.

She progressed at the Alligator, the independent student paper that serves UF, going from designer to writer and earning internships at the Levy County Journal, High Springs Herald, Valley News (Vermont) and the Tampa Bay Times.

At the Times, she parlayed the internship into a full-time job where she wrote powerful stories that brought tears to readers' eyes. She worked to be an unbiased voice that presented current events to the public, often covering crime stories.

Hill revealed that journalism is a service job in which you serve the people by telling the stories that others can not tell themselves.

Her sense of service, instilled at Academy, continues to be a guide. Last year, she funded a small scholarship for students attending the school.

"She's always been involved in the community and she kept up with us," Keegan said. "I have nothing but good things to say about her. I love her to death."

The interview taught me so much about journalism and even a little bit about life. I'm proud to say that this accomplished woman is a former student of Academy of the Holy Names, and I know she will continue to set an amazing example for the girls at Academy.

And her baby.

Contact Tress Jacobs at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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