Chamber of commerce officials are encouraging residents to line the streets early Saturday to bid farewell to a Plant City-based Florida Army National Guard battalion that is being deployed for the second time for Operation Enduring Freedom.
About 320 Florida Army National Guardsmen from the 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery, will leave at 6:30 a.m. from the armory at 4004 Airport Road. The soldiers are being sent to Qatar for nine months.
The departure route will be Airport Road to Turkey Creek Road to U.S. 92 to Branch Forbes Road to Interstate 4.
The battalion served in Kuwait and Iraq in 2005-06.
Optimists host oratorical contest
Six local students took home medallions in the annual Plant City Optimist Club Oratorical Contest.
The theme of this year's contest was "Why My Voice Is Important" and the students presented 4- to 5-minute orations in front of an audience of more than 50 people, including family members, club members and others.
Winners included Ashlyn Yarbrough, Tomlin Middle School; Mario Leon, Plant City High School; first place, respectively, in the girls and boys division; Emmalise Hunter, Plant City High; and Arie Fry, Tomlin Middle; second place, respectively, in the girls and boys division; and Katherine Ruppert, Tomlin Middle; and Chase Lott, Plant City High; third place, respectively, in the girls and boys division.
Judges included Plant City Toastmasters Club members David James, Rick Norman and Donald Scarmuzzi. The judges used such factors as poise, content of speech and presentation.
Ashlyn and Mario, who each won a $100 U.S. Savings Bond in the local contest, will advance to the zone level of competition in March in Mulberry against the top finishers from Lakeland and Winter Haven. Winners there advance to the North Florida District Southwest Regional Contest for the Tampa Bay area in April.
Regional winners compete in the North Florida District Finals in May, where a $2,500 college scholarship will be awarded to both the top male and to the top female participant.
A Plant City club representative has won the North Florida District competition three out of the last four years and, overall, six times in the past 12 years, including Jacob Rayburn, 2001; Caycee Hampton, 2002; Nathan Carson, 2008; Amanda Williamson, 2009; Mylie Feaster, 2011; and Jesse Bingham, 2012.
Church spaghetti supper is Saturday
Gospel METS Ministries, 1102 E. Laura St., will serve a spaghetti dinner from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
The meals cost $6 and include spaghetti, salad, bread and drink. The meals are available for dine-in or the church will deliver.
For information, call church pastor Edith Langston at (813) 754-1096.
Christian school to hold scholarship meeting
Faith Christian Academy, 1202 S. Collins St., will hold a scholarship meeting from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28.
The meeting will be geared for parents of prospective students. An open house will follow the meeting.
To RSVP, email info@fcapc .com or call (813) 473-2090 by Friday.
'Ladies Night Out' open to men
South Florida Baptist Hospital's next Ladies Night Out isn't just for women.
Men will be welcome during the session on heart health, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the administrative conference room of the hospital, 301 N. Alexander St.
Speakers from the hospital will talk about such topics as signs and symptoms of heart disease. A light dinner will be served.
There's no charge, but registration is required by calling (813) 644-6720.
Leave a mark on the festival grounds
The Florida Strawberry Festival is selling engraved brick pavers at the entrance to the Madonia agricultural center.
The bricks cost $150 each or 10 for $1,000 and are engraved with the name or names of the purchasers' choosing. The festival has sold about 300 of the 2,000 brick pavers available, festival spokeswoman KeeLee Tomlinson said.
To purchase a brick, call the festival office at (813) 752-9194.
Get your sweet tooth ready
Girl Scouts will set up booths for cookie sales outside local stores starting Friday.
Sales of Girl Scout cookies will continue through March 17. The cookies sell for $3.50 per box.
The scouting organization makes more money from cookie sales than any other fundraiser.
Varieties include Do-Si-Dos, Dulce de Leche, Samoas, Tagalongs, Thank You Berry Munch, Thin Mints, Trefoils and Savannah Smiles.
For information, go to www.gswcf.org/cookies or call (800) 881-4475, ext. 1796.
Mark your calendar
A celebration is planned March 23 to mark the 140th year of Turkey Creek schools.
The event will be at Turkey Creek Middle School, 5005 S. Turkey Creek Road.
Gates open at 9 a.m. and the program starts at 10 a.m.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, beans, chips and drinks will be served at no charge. A time capsule will be buried on campus and the alumni will have a slideshow and displays of various artifacts in the media center.
For information, call (813) 659-1240 or (813) 659-1098.
Community theater auditions next week
Plant City Entertainment will hold auditions for the comedy, "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood," at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
A cast of eight men and six women is needed. Callbacks will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 28.
The show will be directed by Tyler and Angela Hollis, who can be reached at gfy4dsny@ msn.com or (813) 503-7993.
All auditions and performances will be at the community theater, 101 N. Thomas St.
The show will be performed in May.
Six HCC students join service organization
Hillsborough Community College welcomed its first students into Collegiate 100 organization at a recent ceremony.
The Collegiate 100 — an auxiliary organization of the 100 Black Men of America — is open to all male and female HCC students who are in academic good standing and who have a passion for mentoring and serving their communities. Collegiate 100 members have opportunities to work closely with campus advisors and members of the 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Inc.
The students' activities will include such community service projects as serving as mentors to elementary school students.
Plant City HCC campus students inducted into the organization include Josh Donton, Shaquille Mitchell, Qwantavius Mays, Derrick Sample, Brianna Smith and Solomon Sykes.
Auto parts chain plans Plant City store
O'Riley Auto Parts Store has filed plans with the city to build a store at 1704 James L. Redman Parkway.
The company plans a 7,725 square-foot store on 1.2 acres adjacent to the RaceTrac that recently opened at James L. Redman Parkway and Park Road. The store will replace a red brick building that has been a home and office over the years.