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By Penny Fletcher

Local teen competes internationally

High school senior Ben Hoover from MiraBay in Apollo Beach has qualified to join Team USA for the 2013 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships being held in Szeged, Hungary, July 24.

Hoover’s team, the MiraBay Leviathans, was featured in The Observer News and The Current in May when the team, in cooperation with Newland Communities, MiraBay’s developer, hosted the local competition held by the sport’s main sponsor, the Pan Am Dragon Boat Association, LLC, based in Tampa. Pan Am is a full service dragon boat production company that sells supplies and also promotes clinics, camps and races all over the southeast.

Ed Norstrem is the local club’s president and is also the one who founded the Leviathans   after participating on a team in Tampa connected to his place of employment.

Anyone 15 years old or more may paddle in this sport and some paddlers in other clubs are in their 80s, Norstrem said.

A dragon boat without the head and tail is 40 feet long. With the head and tail it is about 47 feet long and weighs about 750 pounds, he explained. The full regalia is only used during competitions.

The sport is based on performing every move in unison. Whole families often participate, giving them something competitive all ages can enjoy together.

One of the sport’s rules states that in races at least 8 of the 20 seats in a full boat must be filled with women occupants, and the MiraBay team has several whole families that paddle together. A drummer who beats the cadence to which the paddlers stroke, and steer person make a team total of 22. 

More can be found about the MiraBay team at http://mbdbc.org and about the Pan Am Dragon Boat Association at www.panamdragonboat.com/.

To check out the upcoming international competition visit 2013 World Dragon Boat Racing Championship at http://hungary2013.dragonboat.hu/index.html

Community Foundation caught in the act!

From time-to-time our news coverage includes area charities and tax-exempt organizations helped by the Community Foundation of Greater Sun City Center, and once again the Foundation has been caught in the act of aiding those who aid the community. The Lord’s Lighthouse, a ministry founded by The Rev. Bill Sr. and Dora Cruz operating out of the annex at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 815 College Ave., Ruskin, has been awarded a $20,000 grant for its Hunger Relief program by the Foundation.

The ministry gives out food bags to approximately 250 families every week, as well as clothing and furniture when possible.

To find out more about this ministry call (813) 641-7100.

Parks projects on the move

In April we wrote that two separate but over-lapping projects were scheduled at the site of the Gardenville Recreation Center in Gibsonton and one project at the Ruskin Recreation Center.

The old Gardenville School built in 1926 is being completely renovated and brought up to current safety codes so it can be used as an activity and meeting center by the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department (that has inherited the building from the school district) and the existing Gardenville recreation center has a new 10,000-foot structure being added to the southeast side. Costs of the school renovation are approximately $800,000 while the new facility there will cost a little more than $2 million.

The Ruskin center has a similar project for a new building being added planned at a cost of approximately $2.2 million.

On June 27, Shortie Robbins, a manager for the county’s Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, said conceptual drawings have just been completed and will be released for public viewing within the next few weeks.

“We’re 100 percent on target,” Robbins said. A few things had to be changed from the original drawings, such as location of some of the doors. But things are going smoothly according to plan.”

The county is planning to break ground by fall with construction of all three projects going on simultaneously and each taking approximately one year.

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