Local youth attends Trump’s address to Congress

Like millions of other Americans, Colin Cagle viewed President Donald Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28. Unlike most, the 13-year-old Odessa resident, attended Trump’s speech in Washington D.C. He was the invited guest of U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis. That fact is even more impressive, considering each member of congress was allotted just one extra ticket for … [Read more...]

Freedom student is going to West Point

A Freedom High student recently received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. Dean LaGattuta received word that he’d been accepted into the prestigious service academy on Jan. 20. He accepted the appointment on Jan. 31. Ironically, LaGattuta, 18, was visiting the West Point, New York campus when he received the good news. “It was just complete disbelief. I really … [Read more...]

Student is military academy nominee

Dean LaGattuta’s interest in attending a U.S. Service Academy first piqued when he was an adolescent and he learned his grandfathers, on both sides of his family, served in the Navy. His interest in joining the service deepened through watching programs on the Military Channel and History Channel. “The family legacy and then getting into military history really sparked my interest in serving … [Read more...]

Mixed local reaction to new defense spending bill

The U.S. House passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act during a lame-duck session, but not all lawmakers are in support. U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, said the bill presented a "troubling dilemma for me and my colleagues." "After speaking with local veterans and military leaders in my community, I cannot vote for reduced benefits and a reduction in a pay raise for our service … [Read more...]

Local reaction split on president’s immigration plan

The debate on whether President Barack Obama has the authority to enact his own immigration reform without the help of Congress extends beyond Washington, D.C., and is drawing both criticism and praise from lawmakers here at home as well. But which side each congressman takes depends on what side of the aisle he or she is on. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis waited until Obama's presidential address … [Read more...]

Ross pushing forward controversial Ebola bill

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is against it, but that's not stopping U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross from introducing legislation that would curb flights from countries with outbreaks of the Ebola virus. Ross introduced his bill Wednesday known as the Contain Ebola and Stop the Epidemic — or CEASE — Act of 2014, which would prohibit certain flights from landing in the United … [Read more...]

Incumbents keeping seats on Hillsborough commission

Charlie Crist may not have been a winner in Florida, but another unrelated Crist will stay in elected office in Hillsborough County as Victor Crist won re-election to the county commission. Crist defeated Democrat Elizabeth Belcher 56 percent to 44 percent to get another four years in Hillsborough. However, the race was a lot closer for Crist's colleague, Al Higginbotham, who defeated Democrat … [Read more...]

Local congressmen support president’s ISIL plan

In a rare move, the U.S. Congress supported an initiative by President Obama Wednesday, voting to authorize limited military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or more commonly known as ISIL. Despite the U.S. House approving the measure 221-192, the area's two local Republican congressmen are still saying they're not happy with how Obama is handling the conflict in Syria … [Read more...]

Local Congressional districts should remain unchanged

Florida lawmakers are back in Tallahassee for a special session this week after a judge in Leon County declared the boundaries for two Congressional districts were unconstitutional. The districts, located in the Jacksonville and Orlando areas, were deemed by Florida Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to be illegal, and ordered those districts to be redrawn immediately. A proposed map from a … [Read more...]

Creativity wins local kids trip to Washington, D.C.

The trio jetted to Washington, D.C., to meet with a member of Congress, to hear remarks from the chief executive of an international company, and to take part in television interviews. And they are all still in elementary school. Joey Santana, Sophia Nobles and Catie Tomasello recently returned from a trip to the nation’s capital, and a whirlwind of appearances there. The Countryside … [Read more...]