Pasco Sheriff named to Homeland Security advisory role

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco has added another leadership responsibility to his plate —an advisory role with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Pasco Sheriff is one of seven new members named to the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) by acting secretary Chad Wolf. The announcement came from the federal agency last month. The HSAC is a Department of Homeland Security … [Read more...]

30 years and counting for Dade City Commissioner

Scott Black was only 25 years old when he was first elected to the Dade City Commission, in 1990. Three decades later, he remains just as passionate about the post. “I still get excited about the meetings, I still feel like I’m learning things, I still feel like I’m kind of young with it,” Black said in a recent interview with The Laker/Lutz News. The commissioner, now 55,  jokes he’s … [Read more...]

Sharing the beauty of organ music is this man’s quest

He’s 74 now, but Dave Cucuzza recalls a moment from decades ago — as if it was yesterday. He was 8 years old at the time, living in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and his family was heading out to church. Their car was buried in snow, though, so they had to dig it out. By the time they arrived at church, it was the High Mass. “The organist was up in the balcony in the back, and it was a … [Read more...]

This animal control officer helps pets, and people

Michael Northrup, who works for Pasco County Animal Services, has been named Animal Control Officer of the Year by the Florida Animal Control Association. A nomination submitted on Northrup’s behalf said, in part, that during 2019 Northrup displayed “compassion, dedication, expertise, awareness and incredible decision-making.” The nomination noted that Northrup responded to more than 1,000 … [Read more...]

Special Olympics keeps athletes engaged — virtually

Like it has done with seemingly everything else — coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) threw a wrench into Special Olympics-Pasco’s event schedule for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The pandemic led to the cancellation of local and state-level competitions and practices for more than 1,500 local Special Olympics athletes. It also forced the cancellation of the … [Read more...]

Working with animals is this woman’s passion

Gina Botticello can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t love animals. It wasn’t because her house was full of them, though. Her dad was allergic to cats. So, officially, there weren’t any cats in the house. But, Botticello admitted: “I would find a kitten and hide it in my room.” That didn’t last long, though. “That was not OK,” she said. Still, even when she was very … [Read more...]

Lutz video game studio offers virtual concerts

As coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) is keeping most stuck inside home, a Lutz-based video game studio is discovering novel ways to keep users together and entertained. For years, Artix Entertainment has been creating free online fantasy-based video games filled with monsters, magic and storytelling. Among the most popular iterations is the AdventureQuest3D series, which takes … [Read more...]

Lifting spirits is his specialty

Whether it’s cracking jokes or serving up a friendly greeting, volunteer Brian Mason is known for his ability to lift people’s spirits at the East Pasco Family YMCA in Zephyrhills. His jovial demeanor and friendly approach draws attention — so much so that Mason was named the local branch’s “Volunteer of the Year” for the second straight year. The 50-year-old Land O’ Lakes resident has … [Read more...]

New Land O’ Lakes coach enjoys the gridiron

When Ronald “Trac” Baughn moved to Florida a couple years ago, his sights were set on enjoying retirement. He pictured himself fishing every day and visiting nearby family members on a regular basis. But, it wasn’t long before he fantasized about stepping back on the gridiron again. And that’s after three long decades of coaching high school and college football — mostly throughout … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes hoops coach retires after 31 years

Land O’ Lakes High School varsity boys basketball coach Dave Puhalski is ready for a timeout. After 31 years roaming the Gators sidelines, barking orders, drawing up plays, and molding boys into young men, the longtime coach announced his retirement following the 2019-2020 season. Puhalski’s swan song was a memorable one — sending off eight seniors to the tune of a 21-6 record, a 5A-7 … [Read more...]