In Print: The beauty of art, politics, nature

Megan Burgess likes to do many things young women her age do. She likes to paint, and create.

But Megan, 21, also is a low-functioning autistic. She has trouble communicating verbally, which makes it hard for her to express herself in ways others practically take for granted.

Megan Burgess doesn't want to lose her art class, so her family is looking for more students willing to take part. (Photo by Michael Hinman)

Megan Burgess doesn’t want to lose her art class, so her family is looking for more students willing to take part. (Photo by Michael Hinman)

But she does look forward to hearing to the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Center where she knows she’ll have a chance to express herself through art and music. That is, if the program can continue.

Low attendance is threatening the VSA Florida program, and that could be terrible news for Megan.

“It would be horrible,” Megan’s mother, Violetta Burgess, told reporter Michael Murillo. “You want the kids to be socializing.”

The classes require at least seven students, each paying about $40 each, to break even. The Land O’ Lakes program, however, is averaging about half that, and more is needed.

“My daughter would lose out because I don’t know what I would do,” Violetta said. “She’s older, and it’s hard to find something for her that’s close.”

What can be done? Find out in this week’s print edition of The Laker/Lutz News. Or you can read the online e-edition for free by clicking here.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with what’s been happening with The Laker/Lutz News, this week’s print edition is the last one you’ll find in what we in the industry call a “tabloid” format. Beginning Aug. 6, we’ll increase the physical size of our paper by 6 inches into a broadsheet format, typically what you would find with the daily newspapers in the area.

As we get ready for that big switch, we’re also getting you ready for the upcoming primary elections for later in August. We kick that off with profiles of two candidates who have not received a lot of attention as of late, because they haven’t actually drawn any primary opponents.

Beverly Ledbetter of Dade City is the Democrat seeking to replace state Rep. Will Weatherford in state House District 38, while Erika Remsberg of Land O’ Lakes is the Democrat who will face the winner of the primary race among Ken Littlefield, Mike Moore and Bob Robertson to see who will replace Pat Mulieri on the Pasco County Commission.

Both talked to reporter Michael Hinman this past week, sharing who they are and what they would do if elected to serve the residents of the region.

Beverly Ledbetter

Beverly Ledbetter

“One of the things that you learn as a teacher is to look at both sides of the issue,” Ledbetter said. “There are Republicans who have good ideas, just as there are Democrats who have good ideas, and they should be acknowledged.”

Yet, as in Washington, D.C., Tallahassee has had its share of polarization between the parties as well. And Ledbetter wants to head up there and fix it.

“There are a lot of things I see with our lawmakers that are very frustrating,” she said. “I’m particularly concerned with the lack of respect in Tallahassee.”

Remsberg has seen some bitter arguments among Pasco County commissioners lately, and she feels that her background as a social worker might help bring some understanding and better unity on the commission.

However, Remsberg also feels that the commission can’t lose its voice for the little guy when Mulieri retires.

Erika Remsberg

Erika Remsberg

“I have been very vocal that the county has not done enough to coordinate social service, and they haven’t done enough to deal with the critical needs in the county,” Remsberg said. “I think Pat Mulieri has done the best job in trying to advocate and listen, but now the best advocate that we have is now retiring.”

To read more about what both candidates think can help change lives for everyone in their communities, check out the print edition of this week’s The Laker. Or, if you would like to stay here on the Internet, read more about Ledbetter in our online e-edition by clicking here, and more about Remsberg by clicking here.

Finally, there are many beautiful places to travel to in Florida, and reporter B.C. Manion has been finding as many as she can share.

This week, she travels to Tarpon Springs to take a look at the various offerings of Sun Line Cruises.

The company started up on the other side of the county thanks to Suzanne Upchurch’s instant love she had for the Tarpon Springs area. She and her business partner traveled up and down Florida’s west coast looking for the perfect spot, and she found it right here in Central Florida.

Now they offer all kinds of boat rides, many inexpensive ways to get out on the water. But it’s also a good way to help the environment, Upchurch says, in more ways than one.

Aaron Kalwa, one of the ship’s captains, said a March outing became instantly memorable when a passenger saw something strange floating on the water.

“We were on our way out of Anclote River,” he said. “As soon as we got out to St. Joseph’s Sound, a passenger pointed out something floating in the water. We stopped to get a better look at it, and it looked (like) it was a turtle having some distress, struggling.”

What did Kalwa and the passengers do? Find out by picking up this week’s print edition of The Laker/Lutz News. Or if you really want to know without getting up from your computer or iPad, find this story in our online e-edition by clicking here.

All of these stories and more can be found in this week’s The Laker/Lutz News, available in newsstands throughout east and central Pasco County as well as northern Hillsborough County. Find out what has your community talking this week by getting your local news straight from the only source you need.

If The Laker/Lutz News is not coming to your door, call us to see where you can get your copy at (813) 909-2800, or read our free e-edition by clicking here.

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