One of the best things about working for a local publication are the stories.
Stories that are sometimes about your friends and neighbors and your children’s schoolmates, or the road you drive to work or your favorite local restaurant. And, there are the stories about people you didn’t know, but do now, and maybe you’ll share a wave at Publix that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Some are happy stories, and some are sad. Too many sad stories, sometimes.
But, almost all of them are memorable, in one way or another.
Here are some of the most popular, according to Facebook and our website, and memorable stories we wrote this year, in no particular order:
Hey, everyone likes a winner, right, and in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel we definitely had our share in 2018.
Like Nelson Agholor. It’s doubtful many people even knew the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver attended Liberty Middle School until he made our cover, and to be honest, we didn’t know either until his Eagles won the Super Bowl.
But sure enough, he was a flag football legend back in the day — and a pretty good hoopster, too — before going on to become a football star and a Super Bowl champ.
And, let’s not forget a little way up the road at Florida Hospital Center Ice, where the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team trained in preparation for winning their own championship, an Olympic gold medal in South Korea.
The nail-biting shootout win over arch-rival Canada was one of the most classic hockey finishes in Olympic history. Could they have done it without the warm weather and friendly hospitality of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel filling their souls with a strength unlike any other?
And, who has a friend that had a child play on a team that won a championship this year, like the Turner-Bartels boys hoops team winning that school’s first title, or the boys and girls track team winning a first district title for Benito?
There were so many stories we did on kids winning chess championships and math and debate competitions and starting their own clubs that we lost count (and by the way, keep those stories coming!).
But do you know what people really liked to read and comment on?
But mostly roads. So, which road do we start with?
We could start with Bruce B Downs, which we declared was Bruce B. Done, which was mostly true according to the county, until some paving issues arose, and those finishing touches that were supposed to be completed turned out to be more numerous than expected.
However….it’s still a dramatic improvement and soon, very soon, the big trucks and orange-vested fellows will be gone, and BBD’s completion really is the highlight of many people’s transportation year.
Now, about Kinnan-Mansfield…
Oh, never mind.
Even with 700 new homes okayed for neighboring K-Bar Ranch, Pasco County is standing firm in its opposition to connecting the two roads. It appears hopeless.
That leaves the folks in K-Bar with one way in and out, and that makes for a pretty bleak commuting future for those who can’t afford to put a helicopter pad in their backyards.
In with the new and out with old, they say.
Local voters nearly booted Ken Hagan off the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners, but while he survived, long-time resident and political representative Victor Crist did not. Same goes for fellow New Tampa resident Shawn Harrison.
But, fresh faces like county commissioner Mariella Smith (she defeated Crist) and State Representative Fentrice Driskell (she beat Harrison) should offer a fresh perspective and some new ideas. Hopefully, they will benefit New Tampa.
District 7 City Council member Luis Viera is running for re-election in 2019, and he had another busy year. We don’t want to say the guy is everywhere and at every event, but we actually saw him bagging groceries at Winn-Dixie, mowing our neighbor’s lawn, handing out programs at a Wharton orchestra event, helping someone find the right flooring at Home Depot, playing trivia at the Fat Rabbit and holding a townhall with three people at a bus stop.
And that was all in the same day!
We will say this — 2018 may have been as busy a year as there has been in terms of activism for bettering our area.
If you have a complaint, there’s a place for you in New Tampa. There is a New Tampa Council, there is a group that meets to fight for pedestrian safety, there is a group that argued against the re-naming of the New Tampa Library, there were multiple town halls, there were meetings at the library and there were forums and workshops and studies and presentations.
If you really want to know, there’s no excuse not to. It was a good year for New Tampa, as work continues on traffic issues, roads and sidewalks are being studied and the New Tampa Rec Center expansion and autism park steam towards completion — all items that continue to be pushed at the multitude of public events in New Tampa.
A beer tasting event in an event center at Catholic church?
Sign us up!
While there is plenty of room to improve, and we hope they stick around and give it a second shot because New Tampa needs more events like this.
The Taste of New Tampa was, as usual, another wonderful event as well, and nothing beats doing it indoors at the largest skating facility south of New York.
We want more, people. Get to work.
New Tampa has had its fair share of awful tragedy over the years, often making national news, and 2018 was no exception, as sadness gripped the area following the death of West Meadows resident Pedro Aguerreberry in June.
Riding bikes with his 3- and 8-year-old sons, 42-year-old Pedro was struck and killed by mentally ill Mikese Morse (who has since been declared unfit to stand trial).
It was a devastating loss for his family and friends. Pedro was universally loved by everyone who knew him.
And, while we didn’t, we certainly wish we had.