Computer club navigates programming basics

Roshan Kumaraswamy started programming computers in middle school — now he’s teaching the craft to others. Last month, the 16-year-old Land O’ Lakes High School senior created Coding Club, for tweens and teens aspiring to learn more about computer sciences. The club began meeting on Fridays in July, at the Land O’ Lakes Branch Library. It accommodates up to 10 people, who program on … [Read more...]

Vietnam veteran receives overdue honor

One Vietnam veteran has finally received his long-deserved welcome. The Wesley Chapel Noon Rotary Land O’ Lakes Satellite Club recognized George Voorhes on June 23 as its first recipient of the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemorative Lapel Pin. Voorhes, 82, retired from the army in 1974, following 20 years of service. He served in the Korean War and had three tours of duty in Vietnam, … [Read more...]

Tree house tutoring blossoms in nature

Teaching is not a profession that Sarah Christiansen expected to pursue. As a child growing up in the Virgin Islands, she hated going to school. “I had a difficult time listening and writing. I struggled with comprehension.” She couldn’t picture herself as a teacher. Times change. Christiansen, these days, lives in rural Pasco County where she tutors students – usually working with … [Read more...]

Local gymnast reaches ‘elite’ status

Hard work is paying off for Kristen Ng. The 17-year-old, who will be a senior at Wiregrass Ranch High School, can lay claim to being one of the nation’s premier rhythmic gymnasts. Last month she earned Level 10 Elite status — the highest level possible — at the USA Gymnastics Rhythmic National Qualifier in Lake Placid, New York. Only the top 20 senior finishers in the qualifier earn … [Read more...]

Retirement ‘bittersweet’ for Zephyrhills police chief

After 25 years of service, former Zephyrhills Police Chief David Shears is settling into retirement life. Throughout a respected career, Shears at some point worked every hour of the day, every day of the week and every day of the year. Now, he gets to relax. His last day in uniform was May 31. To Shears, stepping away from law enforcement altogether is “bittersweet.” “You enjoy … [Read more...]

National parks offer lessons in life, history

The nation’s history is recorded in books and taught in classrooms — but, author Penny Musco recommends another path of discovery. She suggests that you visit as many of the 417 properties in the U.S. National Parks Services as possible. That list includes 59 parks, 87 monuments, 15 rivers, three scenic trails, four battlefield parks, 11 battlefields, 78 historic sites, and thousands of … [Read more...]

Woman unleashes creativity through soaps

Step in Melissa Brown’s workshop, and you’ll see a woman focused on creating handmade soaps at her home business in Lutz. Brown launched her business —Nautilus Soap Company LLC — more than a year ago, and hopes one day to open her own storefront. Besides making scented and unscented soaps, she also makes bath bombs and shampoo bars. She sells her products at local markets, such as the … [Read more...]

Drawing portraits, one pet at a time

John LaFree was always told he couldn’t make a living as an artist. But he created a career with his artistic talents, as the proprietor of Canine Caricature Pet Portraits. Freelance and self-employed, LaFree operates his easel out of the comfy confines of his Wesley Chapel home. The pieces he produces are anything but ordinary. LaFree, 42, puts a “fun and whimsical spin” on the … [Read more...]

Using the power of music to help others

Emma Skantze was a 9-year-old student at Turner Elementary School when she decided she wanted to get involved to help others. After brainstorming with her mom, she came up with the idea of organizing a concert. The first event featured her and some of her friends. But now, as she prepares for the seventh annual Helping Hands benefit, she’s working out all of the details for having two … [Read more...]

Hungry Harry’s big heart receives community honor

Instead of going to their bank, law office, hospital or real estate company — or dozens of other businesses — these men and women showed up at Hungry Harry’s Family Bar-B-Que on a recent sunny and clear Wednesday morning. They were there to honor Harry Wright and his son-in-law, Chad Hudson, for their restaurant’s longstanding contributions to community life in Land O’ Lakes. Members of … [Read more...]