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Hometown Pasco

What's happening

By Times Staff Writer
Published February 5, 2006


SPOTLIGHT ON TALENT COMPETITION: Heritage Arts Center Association is busy planning for the 23rd Annual Spotlight on Talent competition, with the final competition scheduled for 6 p.m., April 22. The show will be at Wesley Chapel High School's Center for the Arts. Tickets for the event are $8 each.

Much preliminary work goes into producing Spotlight on Talent. Application forms were distributed to each school music teacher in central and east Pasco as well as to many dance, vocal and instrumental studios. Applications also are available at local chamber of commerce offices. Applications and information are also available at The deadline for applications is March 9.

The 2005 production of Spotlight on Talent proved to be a record-breaking year. According to Barbara Friedman, who heads the program, "Participation exploded and instead of the 85 acts entered in 2003, the judges evaluated over 126 acts with more than 230 students."

On March 25, preliminaries will determine the finalists who will participate on the final night in April. Participants are judged primarily on talent, but stage presence and appearance also are considered.

Friedman emphasizes that the competition is conducted in a professional atmosphere. Judges from Central Florida who are outstanding in their fields make the final determinations as to who goes on from the preliminaries and who is declared winners in the final competition. More than $1,800 in cash and trophies will be awarded to talented students, from grades kindergarten through high school.

"Singers, instrumental musicians, acrobats, piano players, bands, baton twirlers, dancers and other forms of entertainment are welcome to participate," said Friedman.

There are three age categories for solos and one general group category and a student may enter as a solo and with a group.

It is through the efforts of corporate sponsors that awards are made to winning participants. Friedman encourages anyone interested in becoming a corporate sponsor to call her at (352) 567-1720.

"This uplifting and exciting evening of entertainment is one of the highlights of the year for our community, and many gifted young people eagerly wait each spring for a chance to shine as a true star. Many of our former contestants have gained valuable experience and confidence, and have gone on to receive college scholarships and positions with professional performance organizations," Friedman said.


KUMQUAT FESTIVAL RECIPE CONTEST WINNERS: The Ninth Annual Kumquat Festival Recipe contest saw 12 young people and 19 adults take homes prizes in main dish, side dish, dessert, and miscellaneous categories.

Winners were announced Jan. 27 at a 4-H Barbecue Chicken dinner fundraiser at the National Guard Armory in Dade City.

Youth participants for the recipe contest were ages 8 to 18, and adult participants were 19 years and older.

In the youth category two entires tied for the blue ribbon first place in the main dish category. Becky Dowdy created blackened grouper with kumquat salsa and sauteed green beans. Brittany Thielen submitted pan roasted kumquats, chicken and olives. Second place red ribbon went to Louise Snipes. Third place white ribbon went to Stephen Harris.

Other main dish recipes by youth were entered by Roberto Colon and Mike Montano.

In the youth division for side dishes, Whitney Weems took first place for kumquat herb paste. Snipes captured second place in this category.

The dessert category, in the youth division, had 10 entries. Amber Godwin captured first place in this division and also took home Best of Show in the youth category. Her winning entry was Amber's crunchy kumquat cake. Second place was a tie with red ribbons going to Russell Leasburg and Weems. Third place, also a tie, went to Carl McQueen and Scott Walter.

Other entries in the youth dessert category were submitted by Jessica Branton, Michael Dorn, Hannah Hammond and John Sizemore.

In the miscellaneous category for youth, Danielle Elliott captured the blue ribbon with her festive kumquat dip and spread.

The main dish category for adults had five entries with Sandee and Ruth Sayers capturing the blue ribbon first place and also Best of Show for the adult division with kumquat piggy pudding. Second place went to Nancy Morrison and third place went to Mary Hunter. Other entries in this division were prepared by Barbara Beavers an d Marge Vanyur.

In the side dish category for adults, Beavers took home first place for her kumquat and wild rice salad. Robin Spires captured second place, and Morrison won third place.

Other entries in the side dish category were submitted by Jan Devine and Vanyur.

Ten recipes were submitted in the dessert category for the adult division. A three-way tie for first place saw blue ribbons going to Beavers for her candied kumquat confection and Betty Hayner for kumquat pie with a taste o'spice, and Morrison for kumquat dream cake. Second place was also a three-way tie with red ribbons awarded to Jean Gudauskas, Bertha Kimball, and Spires.

There was also a three-way tie for third place with white ribbons going to Mary Hunter, Naomi Kornfeld, and JoAnn Mow.

Audrey Oliver also had an entry in the dessert category for adults.

Fred Payne captured first place in the miscellaneous category for adults with a recipe for kumquat jalapeno corn muffins. Second place went to Vanyur and third went to Morrison. Beavers also had an entry in this category.

In addition to ribbons, cash awards were given for first, second and third place and gift baskets were presented for Best of Show. All participants received a 2006 cookbook featuring winning recipes through the 2005 contest.

The recipe contest is coordinated by Betsy Crisp, acting county extension director/family and consumer sciences faculty; Maxine Clayton and Jan Devine, home and community educator volunteers in cooperation with the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce.

WINDOW DECORATING CONTEST WINNERS: For the second year in a row, Sean Ashburn of Sugarcreek won first place in the downtown window decorating contest, held as part of the Ninth Annual Kumquat Festival.

A dozen shops and businesses participated in the contest, covering windows, doors and storefronts in a variety of kumquat themed creations. Winners were determined by originality, overall presentation and use of the kumquat.

Ashburn, who is also president of the Downtown Merchants Association, continued his winning streak with a Come Clean theme, featuring the kumquat and lime line of hand lotion, soaps, candles and room mist that he carries in his store. He added glitter covered brooms and large, paper kumquats which were also covered with glitter. Judges noted the creativity of the display and the amount of effort involved.

Ivy Cottage took second place in the contest with a large kumquat wreath visible from the street. Judges noted "curb appeal" and "overall presentation" of the display.

Third place went to Kiefer Village Jewels, for a combination of a sea of kumquats with gold jewelry. Millennium beads, kumquat candles and kumquat filled bud vases completed the display. Originality was noted as a strength of the Kiefer display.

Other participants in the contest were Lori Anne's, Glades Pottery, Grapevine Antiques, Sandbar Market, American Eagle Antiques, the Coffee Mug, Nancy's Natural Foods, Antiques on Main Street and After Thoughts - Old and New.


SPONSORS NEEDED: The partnership formed last year with Toys for Tots and East Pasco School Tools that Empower and Promote Success STEPS is looking for sponsors, according to Denny Mihalinec, Tri-Community team captain. The groups' goal is to raise enough money and school supplies so area kids and their families will have a smooth transition going back to school in the fall of this year. Trilby United Methodist Church will be the host sponsor for the Trilby/Lacoochee;/Trilacoochee families. Those considering sponsorships are asked to call Mihalinec at (352) 518-0980 or e-mail at

For information about the STEPS program visit

RAO MUSUNURU TO BE HONORED: On Saturday, Community Aging and Retirement Services Inc., aka CARES, will have its annual benefit dinner and toast at the Westin Innisbrook Resort. The event also will honor Rao Musunuru for his 25 years of service as a doctor to the Pasco community. In a modified This I >s Your Life format, participants will discover how the grandson of a farmer in India rose to national prominence in the medical and philanthropic communities in the United States.

Dr. Musunuru, director of cardiology at the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, has organized 14 annual national cardiology seminars at the Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor. He persuaded Drs. Christian Bernard, who performed the first heart transplant, and Michael DeBakey, who performed the first coronary heart bypass surgery, to come to Florida as keynote speakers for the seminars.

More than 1,100 medical and health care professionals from throughout the county are expected to attend the daylong 2006 Cardiac Conference on Saturday. The conference also will be at the Westin Innisbrook Resort.

Kiran Musunuru, son of Rao Musunuru, who grew up in Pasco County and is now a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School, will be a keynote speaker at the conference. The younger Musunuru authored a medical textbook at age 19 when he was an undergraduate at Harvard University. He also earned an editorial in Nature Medicine, a scientific magazine, for his presentation in San Diego when he was a medical student.

Rao Musunuru was the driving force behind the establishment of the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point's Heart Institute, which has been recognized as one of the best in the country. He has been on the governing district board of Pasco-Hernando Community College since 1999, appointed to that position by Gov. Jeb Bush. He was commended by Bush for his advocacy efforts in the passage of the Florida Stroke Act in 2004. He also was recognized by the Florida House of Representatives during the 2005 legislative session with a resolution on the floor congratulating and commending his dedication to improving the cardiovascular health and education of the people of Florida.

CARES is a charitable, not for profit corporation that provides a wide range of services to seniors in west central Florida, including free medical clinic, custodial home care, adult day care and skilled Medicare services. CARES operated six senior enrichment centers throughout the county. The centers provide wellness, educational, social and recreational programs.

A charitable contribution to CARES Annual Benefit Dinner and Toast will help pay for needed home care services to help elders remain safely and independently in their own homes and help support the senior enrichment centers that do not receive any federal or state funding.

For information about sponsorship opportunities or tickets to the event, call (727) 862-9291, ext. 224.

EAST PASCO QUILTERS: Anyone interested is invited to attend East Pasco Quilters meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Hugh Embry Library in Dade City. The group, formerly known as Pasco Pins and Needles, focuses on education, charities, socialization and fun. For activities this month, call Rozanne Ritter at 813 862-2779 or Susan Lord at (813) 264-1668 or e-mail at

ELECTIONS HELD AT POLITICAL CLUB: The East Pasco Political Club recently held its annual business meeting and election of officers at the Fung Garden Restaurant in Zephyrhills.

New officers are Dick Albrecht, president; John Watts, vice-president ; Wanda Stevens, secretary; and Ric Hunt, treasurer. Re-elected board members are Kruth Sombutmai, Margaret Kovachik and Tonya Holman.

Albrecht gave the club's annual report. Achievements for the past year include a 40 percent increase in membership, the successful 2005 Lincoln Heritage Award dinner at CafeKokopelli in Dade City, honorin g George Neukom Jr., of Zephyrhills; the recycling project and a new Web site.

The club was formerly known as the East Pasco Republican Club but found it necessary to change the name to East Political Club when they were unable to have the club rechartered under the original name. In order to continue with the same club objectives the group assumed the new name and continued with the same officers.

Albrecht said that a great club strives for great objectives and he outlined the 2006 objectives: Get Out to Vote Campaign, starting March 11 for all municipal elections; participating in the primary and general elections; conducting local candidate debates; possible opening of a campaign office; and endorsements of candidates. Local funding will be used to advertise and promote the new club. A new club banner, compliments of Sombutmai and Watts was displayed.

The 2006 Lincoln Heritage Award Dinner honoring Lowell A. Harris of Dade City will be Feb. 24 at Scotland Yards Golf Club.

The next meeting of the East Pasco Political Club will be Feb. 20. For information about the club and its activities call (813) 780-7328.


ART EXHIBIT: Ten artists, members of Alexandria Gallery Co-Op Art Group, displayed and demonstrated their talents throughout January. Participating were Arlene Mahoney, oil painting; Kathleen Robinson, watercolor painting; Peter Bonk, acrylic painting, Karen Bryant, botanical watercolor painting; Arnold Swepson, painting and wood carving; Kim Cagle, portrait and nature photography; Kathleen Durham, oil painting; Jason Hahn, nature photography; Judy Binaisz, oil painting; and Gainor Roberts, pastel portraiture.

"The talent level and diversity of the artists is amazing," said Genia Ward, manager of the gallery. For information about the Co-op Art Group call Ward at (813) 948-4447.

[Last modified February 5, 2006, 08:43:47]

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