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...]

Lutz pilot honored for his angel flights

When Larry Marlewski flies his Mooney M201 out of Tampa Executive Airport, he’s often on a mission. He’s one of 650 volunteers who makes sure that Angel Flight Southeast passengers get the care they need. The pilots transport patients who have rare or complicated medical conditions and who have to travel hundreds of miles to and from their medical appointments. Marlewski, like the other … [Read more...]

She tends to much more than cuts and bruises

When Margaret Polk became a school nurse more than a quarter-century ago, there were full-time nurses in all of Pasco County’s public high schools funded by a grant. Those days and that funding are long gone. Now, “most of us have at least two or three schools,” Polk said. She divides her time between Pasco High School and the James Ervin Education Center, and recently picked up a third … [Read more...]

Her career touched many lives

Officially, Betsy Crisp’s last day of work was Feb. 3. But, based on her track record, it seems unlikely that the Land O’ Lakes woman will merely kick back and relax. Crisp retired after 29 years as the food and consumer sciences extension agent for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences – Pasco Cooperative Extension. She is the woman who crisscrossed … [Read more...]

Appreciating life, one moment at a time

Roslyn Franken doesn’t take life for granted. She understands its precarious nature. Her father was a prisoner of war in Japan, surviving the Nagasaki atomic bombing. Her mother was a Holocaust survivor, and later, a cancer survivor. And, in 1994, the then 29-year-old Franken also survived cancer. She shares what she has learned through her book, “Meant to Be: A True Story of … [Read more...]

Piano enthusiast opens Lutz store

Michael Pratt never owned a piano as an adolescent. He now owns a shop full of them. Last month, the 45-year-old Pratt opened Picarzo Pianos, 23916 State Road 54 in Lutz. As one of the few piano dealers in the Tampa area, the small, boutique shop specializes in Steinway and Hailun grand and upright pianos. The store also offers restored, early 20th century pianos, with relics built … [Read more...]