press releases

Libraries Celebrate The Big Read, USDA Begins Pilot Programs For SNAP & More

EHEAP and LIHEAP Assistance Program Funds Available
The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners announces the availability of the Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program (EHEAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Funds through March 31, 2011. The EHEAP program is designed to assist low-income Hillsborough County residents who are 60 years of age or older, with an income that is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and have received a past due or final notice for their home energy bill. The LIHEAP program is designed to assist low-income Hillsborough County residents with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, especially those with the lowest incomes that pay a high portion of household income for home energy, in meeting their immediate home energy bills. Priority will be given to households consisting of residents who are 60 years of age and older, the disabled or handicapped, homebound, and parents or guardians with children. Those residents who have never received LIHEAP assistance in the past will be given priority. To apply, call or visit the Neighborhood Service Center nearest you:
Plant City Neighborhood Service Center, 307 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 2, Plant City; 757-3871.
SouthShore Community Resource Center, 210 14th Ave. SE, Ruskin; 671-7647.
For more information, call 272- 6770.

Libraries Celebrate the Big Read
The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative invites everyone to read The Joy Luck Club and commemorate Asian Pacific Heritage Month by visiting the events taking place at Hillsborough County libraries during the month of May under the initiative of the Big Read. On Monday, May 17, at 7 p.m. the Chinese game of Mah Jong will be brought to the Bloomingdale Regional Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico. Players use strategy, luck and tiles to play this game.
For more information, call 273-3652 or visit

USDA Begins Pilot Programs for SNAP
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA will invest in pilot projects to increase access and participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, among low-income seniors. Award grants totaling approximately $8 million will allow state agencies to pursue innovative outreach and delivery pilot projects. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is encouraging state agencies to submit grant applications for programs designed to boost SNAP participation among Medicare’s Extra Help population. The deadline to submit grant proposal applications is Wednesday, June 30.
Interested state agencies may obtain grant applications at or

County Partners with Feeding America to Stop Hunger
Hunger is a yearlong challenge in Hillsborough County. To help fill this need, Hillsborough County Government, United Way of Tampa Bay and Feeding America Tampa Bay (formerly known as Second Harvest – Tampa Bay) are partnering to Stop Hometown Hunger by collecting and distributing nutritious food. The goal is to help more than 10,000 families. Residents can help by bringing the following canned or boxed goods during the following weeks, Friday-Friday, so the food pantry receives needed staple food:
May 14- 21- canned fruit
July 16-23- canned tuna
September 17-24- canned vegetables
November 12-19- peanut butter

Drop Box Locations:
District 1
•         Seffner-Mango Branch, 410 North Kingsway Rd. in Seffner

•         SouthShore Regional Service Center, 410 30th St. S.E. in Ruskin
District 4
•         Brandon Regional Service Center, 311 Pauls Dr. in Brandon
•         Bloomingdale Regional Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico
•         Plant City Courthouse, 302 N. Michigan Ave. in Plant City

Residents can also help by texting 50555 (Hunger) and make a monetary donation.
For more information, visit

Tell County Your Housing Problems
Hillsborough County Affordable Housing Department is currently surveying local residents and organizations about barriers that they have encountered in trying to obtain decent affordable housing and choices of housing in Hillsborough County. An online survey is available on the county Website in English and Spanish for residents to give their input. The survey, called an Analysis of Impediments, is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development periodically by local agencies that receive HUD funding, to ensure that the Fair Housing Act is being fulfilled in the community. The results of this survey and analysis will be used develop strategies and actions to reduce and/or eliminate the identified barriers.
To access the online survey, go to  and click on the “Fair Housing Choice Survey” links.

County Wants Your Input Regarding Services
Hillsborough County has added a new blog question to get online feedback on the county services residents think should be reduced. There is also a Matrix of Services that easily outlines the county services currently offered. All public comments, no matter through which form, will be sent to county management and budget staff and County Commissioners for consideration in developing the recommended budget.
The blog link is To find out details on the FY 11 budget, go to and click the megaphone graphic to go straight to all things budget. Residents will even be able to watch the budget hearings and workshops live or prior meetings on demand.

County’s Section 8 Program Rated Top Performer
The Hillsborough County Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program has recently received a High Performer rating by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Hillsborough County Section 8 serves more than 2,000 Hillsborough County residents annually.
For more information, visit

Housing Finance Authority Provides $20 Million to Residents
The Housing Finance Authority of Hillsborough County is offering eligible Hillsborough County residents low-interest, fixed-rate loans and down-payment assistance to help them buy a home.  The Housing Finance Authority has received $20 million for the program, through a federal stimulus initiative approved as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The program is available through local lenders, such as Bank of America, BB&T, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and HomeBanc.
Homebuyers or local lenders that are interested in participating in the program or finding out more information can call toll-free (888) 316-8536 or visit

Charter Review Board Invites the Public to Speak Up
The 2010-2011 Charter Review Board will hold a series of meetings throughout the year to conduct a comprehensive study of all phases of county government, proposing changes to the Hillsborough County Home Rule Charter. All meetings listed below will be held at County Center, 2nd Floor Boardroom, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa:
Friday, April 30, 9 a.m.
Direct access to the Charter Review Board is available at For more information, call 276-2640.

Public Works Launches Online Feature
The Hillsborough County Public Works Department has started a new community project information Web page that will give citizens the opportunity to view the status of major department projects under construction in the unincorporated county.
To access the project information page, go to

One Call for Public Works Help
Hillsborough County Public Works Department wants to remind residents in unincorporated Hillsborough County that they can call one convenient phone number – 635-5400 – to request a variety of department services, report a needed repair or find out more information about a Public Works Department project.
To request any of these services, call the Hillsborough County Public Works’ Customer Service Center at 635-5400 from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Comment Needed for Local Mitigation Strategy
The County’s Hazard Mitigation Section in the Planning and Growth Management Department is requesting public input from residents on its draft updated Local Mitigation Strategy Plan. The public can send their comments to Hillsborough County Hazard Mitigation Section, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 19th Floor, Tampa, FL 33601.
For more information, visit or contact Hazard Mitigation at 276-8245 or at

New Ordinance with Abandoned Property
Hillsborough County will become one of 13 local governments in Florida that have a new foreclosed property registry on their books. The county’s new Property Registration Ordinance is in effect. The new ordinance requires lending institutions to register all vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties with Hillsborough County Code Enforcement and provide periodic inspections of the property. Each registration costs the mortgage company $100 per property.
For information, log onto

County Unveils Website for Chinese Drywall
Residents concerned about problems associated with Chinese drywall found in some homes can view an online portal of resources by visiting and clicking on the Chinese Drywall button on the right-hand side of the page. It includes links to federal and state agencies handling investigations and findings, information regarding tax breaks offered by the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s Office and recent news coverage about Chinese drywall.

Changes for Hillsborough County Services
The following departments will be affected by change in hours of operation or locations, and/or new fee schedules: Animal Services; Library Services; Parks, Recreation & Conservation Services; and Veterans Affairs. In addition, Hillsborough County offices will close during the five furlough days that have been scheduled throughout the next fiscal year:
Friday, June 18, 2009
Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010
Emergency services, wastewater plants and some children’s services will not be affected by these furlough closures. Closures will affect all other Hillsborough County services, including Head Start centers, libraries, parks and recreation centers, neighborhood service centers and senior centers. In addition, book drop-off stations at libraries will not be in service.
For more information, the contact information for each department has is listed: Animal Services: 744-5660 or at; Parks, Recreation & Conservation Services: 635-3500 or visit; Library Services: 273-3652 or visit; Solid Waste: 272-5680 or visit; and Veterans: 975-2181 or visit

Solid Waste Disposal Limits Changed
Residents in unincorporated Hillsborough County will be limited to bringing in 10 cubic yards of solid waste material a year, which is equivalent to the material that can be put into a vehicle pulling a double-axle trailer or a loaded box/straight truck. At the yard waste processing facilities and the Southeast Landfill, which uses scales to weigh vehicles entering, the limits will be 2.25 tons of material a year at the landfill and five tons a year at the yard waste processing facilities. The annual limits will be tracked by the residents’ property folio numbers. If residents exceed the allowed amount during the year, they will be required to pay standard commercial disposal charges, or tipping fees. The county’s Solid Waste Disposal Facilities are located at:
Southeast County Landfill, 15960 C.R. 672, Balm
South County Community Collection Center, 13000 S. U.S. Hwy. 41, just north of Big Bend Rd.
Alderman Ford Community Collection Center, 9402 S.R. 39
Hillsborough Heights Community Collection Center, 6209 C.R. 579
Northwest County Community Collection Center, 8001 W. Linebaugh Ave.
Resource Recovery Facility (yard waste only), 350 N. Falkenburg Rd.
If residents have any questions, call 272-5680.
Life Workshop Offered At Library, Bunco with the Ladies of the Valrico Service League, Farm Hosts Singing Talent & More


Eat Out to Support the Jessica Rose Foundation
Joel’s Steak House, 1028 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, will host a Jessica Rose Foundation night on Tuesday, May 18, from 5 p.m. until close, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Jessica Rose Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to help families in the local communities when their child is undergoing cancer treatment.
To learn more, visit

Residents Invited to Hurricane Preparedness Workshop
A Hurricane Preparedness and Safety Workshop will be held at the Phoebe Park Pool on Saturday, May 15, from 10 a.m.-12 Noon. All villa owners and residents of SandHill Place, Heron Park and Phoebe Park are invited to attend. There will be speakers, a demo, food, fun and door prizes, sponsored and funded through a Neighborhood Mini-Grant by Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Hillsborough County Children’s Board and Frank Duckwall Foundation within the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
For more information, call 643-1004.

MOMS Club Holds Meet and Greet
MOMS Club of FishHawk-Bevis is holding a Meet and Greet on Monday, May 10, at 10:30 a.m. at Grace Community United Methodist Church of FishHawk, 5708 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., Lithia. Come join the group for coffee and some treats and meet some local moms who support each other via playgroups, charity work, Mom’s Night Out and various other activities.
Please contact Kristen Weber at for additional information.

Life Workshop Offered at Library
Instructor June Murphy, a scrapbooking consultant for over 13 years, will teach Illustrate Your Life Story on Saturday, May 8, from 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Using the theme of a “celebration” from your life, this workshop will introduce you to the many different ways to illustrate your story. Bring three-four photographs of a celebration from your life you wish to work on and, if possible, a half-page paragraph or two about the event. You will learn organization and preservation and everything in between using traditional pathways, digital or a combination of both.
To register or if you have questions, e-mail or sign up at the reference desk in Bloomingdale Regional Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico.

Bunco with the Ladies of the Valrico Service League
The Valrico Service League will be hosting Ladies Bunco Night on Tuesday, May 11, at 7 p.m. at Center Place, 619 Vonderburg Dr., Brandon. Tickets are $20 (includes refreshments) and available at the door. There will be door prizes and a 50/50 opportunity drawing, with proceeds benefiting local charities.
For more information, call 661-9359 or e-mail

Brandon Expo Announced
The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce will hold the 2010 Brandon Business Expo and Taste of Brandon on Thursday, May 20, from 3:30-8 p.m. in the Special Events Center at the Florida State Fair Grounds, 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301, Tampa. Exhibitor space is available now. Chamber member booth fees are $200 and prospective member space is available for $300.
For registration information, contact Jamie Reid with The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce at 689-1221, ext. 8843, or Registration is also available online at

Farm Hosts Singing Talent
Pick’n & Sing’n at The Farm, 7818 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., Lithia, will host Jayc Harold on Friday, May 28. Shows are held the last Friday of each month at 7 p.m. (Singers and pickers, please be here at 6 p.m.).
Call 967-3046 for more information or visit

Network Your Real Estate Needs
Realtors, builders and business owners who would like to network are invited to come and pitch their listings, buyers’ wants and needs and brokers opens at Big Belly’s, 109 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon, every Wednesday from 8:45-10 a.m. Vendors are welcome to come and share their services that complement the real estate industry. Coffee and a continental breakfast will be served. Raffles and giveaways occur every meeting.
Call Tim Ryan at 928-2862 for more information.

Support Group Welcomes the Depressed
DBSA Tampa Bay, Inc. hosts a depression and bipolar support group that meets on Mondays in Brandon. Open for family and friends as well as those diagnosed with mood disorders, this peer-led group meets free of charge from 7-8:30 p.m. at Brandon Christian Church, 910 Bryan Rd., Brandon.
For more information, visit

Democrats Meet
Please plan to attend the East Hillsborough County Democratic Club’s May meeting on Tuesday, May 11, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Giordano’s Restaurant, 11310 Causeway Blvd., Brandon.
Go to for more information.

Coin Show Coming
Brandon Coin Club Inc. is pleased to announce its next Coin, Currency & Stamp shows, taking place on Saturdays, May 22, July 24 and October 23, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Brandon Elks Lodge, 800 Centennial Lodge Dr., Brandon. There will be 30-35 dealers/ 40-50 tables, free admission/parking, door prizes, food available on-site and free appraisals. There will be free grab bags of coins for all children under age 12.
For more information, contact Mark Palermo at 361-0740 or

Volunteers Needed for U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Brandon U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 74 meets at 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at J.C. Handley Park, 3006 Kings Ave. S. Membership is open to U.S. citizens age 17 and older. Flotilla also conducts a one-day boating safety program the third Saturday of each month at their building in the park, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Call 1-800-704-4216 or go to for details.

St. Andrew’s Presents Comedy, Lithia Concert Recognizes Mother’s Day & More

Silvermans to Sing at Last BCWC Meeting
The Silvermans will be the feature program for the Thursday, May 20, meeting of the
Brandon Christian Woman’s Connection. This nondenominational group will hold its last luncheon, until September, at 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Special Event Center of Bell Shoals Baptist Church, 2102 Bell Shoals Rd., Brandon. The Silvermans will also be performing a full concert at the First United Methodist Church on Saturday, November 5. This will be their second concert for the Christian Woman’s Connection as their fundraiser for the year. The luncheon price is $12. Reservations are to be honored and must be in by Thursday, May 13.
For reservations and information, call 293-0095 or 740-0098
1Caption: The Silvermans will be the feature program for the Thursday, May 20, meeting of the Brandon Christian Woman’s Connection at Bell Shoals Baptist Church.

St. Andrew’s Presents Comedy
The St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church drama team will present the zany comedy, Don’t Drink the Water, for three performances Wednesday-Friday, May 5-7,  in the church sanctuary, 3315 Bryan Rd. All performances will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but a love offering will be accepted.
For more information, call 689-6849.

Lithia Concert Recognizes Mother’s Day
The community is invited to a free concert presented by the Eastern Hillsborough Community Band in recognition of Mother’s Day. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, which is the Thursday before Mother’s Day, at Grace Community United Methodist Church at FishHawk, 5708 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., Lithia.
Musicians of all levels of experience are invited to join the community concert band, which is open to high school students up to senior citizens. The band practices on Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. at Grace Community.
For more information, call 864-0287, e-mail or visit

Women’s Bible Study Announced
The Presbyterian Church of Bloomingdale, 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon, will be starting a new 10-week Beth Moore Bible study on Thursday, May 6, from 9–11:30 a.m. and 6:30–8:30 p.m. Workbook fees are $15 each.
For more information or to register, call 654-3699.

New Group Offers Support to Longing Couples
FishHawk Fellowship, located at 15326 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia, recently started Hannah’s Hope, a ministry for anyone who has longed for a child to be conceived, grieved for a baby who has died or lived through a failed adoption. The support group will meet on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, contact Kristina Frick at 351-8933 or via e-mail at

Ladies Invited to Come and Sing
The South Shore Sound Chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines International, invites all ladies who love to sing and have a good time to come join in, meeting each Monday at the Bell Shoals Church of Christ, 2908 Bell Shoals Rd., Brandon, at 7 p.m.
For further information, go to or call 1-866-730-7464.

Learn the Truth at Campo YMCA
The Truth Project will unveil every Thursday through May 27 from 7-8:30 a.m. at Campo YMCA, 3414 Culbreath Rd., Valrico.
For more information, call 684-1371 or visit

Thrift Store in Need of Inventory
Lighthouse Ministries recently opened a thrift store, The Bargain Center, in Brandon, 535 E. Brandon Blvd., a contributor to the organization’s men’s and women’s faith home. The items it receives are donated and then earmarked for resale at a discount rate. Contributions are currently slow and inventory levels are now at an all time low. It is in need of items that are in good working condition, such as furniture, clothing, dishware, toys, audio/video electronics, appliances and computer equipment.
To make a donation or for more information, call 677-5220.

Preschool Now Registering for VPK, FishHawk Soccer Club Announces Tryouts & More

Preschool Now Registering for VPK
St Mark United Preschool, 2914 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., Valrico, is offering programs for your preschool child this summer. State funded Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) will be offered at no charge, with classes meeting Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. beginning Tuesday, June 1, and ending Tuesday, August 10.
Call 789-1323 for dates, rates and registration information.

FishHawk Soccer Club Announces Tryouts
If you’re a U-9 to U-14 soccer player, then FishHawk Soccer Club has an opportunity for you. Girls and boys are invited to tryout for the FishHawk Soccer Club Select teams for the 2010-2011 season. New boys’ and girls’ teams are being formed and existing teams are filling openings. “Select soccer” focuses on all areas of skill development and team tactics, while also emphasizing fair play, sportsmanship, teamwork and the development of character. Tryouts for the select teams will be from Tuesday-Monday, June 1–7, at the FishHawk Sports Complex, 16120 FishHawk Blvd., Lithia.
More information is available at

Business Instills Motivation in Youth
Motivated Steps is increasing its role in empowering children by offering one-on-one in-home or library-based tutoring and mentoring services for ages 7-18 and an exclusive camp known as Girls Empowerment which will run from Monday, July 12-Friday, July 23 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Best Western Hotel and Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa.
If you are interested, e-mail or call 325-6779.

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