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It's a Good Morning to be in Westchase

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Posted at 5:41 AM, Jan 14, 2022

At ABC Action News, we know it's the combination of all the communities that make Tampa Bay great to live in. That's why we've started a new series of reporting highlighting good things happening around town, discovering cool gems you may not know about, and uncovering the big news events impacting those areas.

On Friday, the Good Morning Tampa Bay team focused on Westchase.

Complete Coverage: GMTB Local Spotlight

Citrus Park Drive extension opens in western Hillsborough County to alleviate traffic

As western Hillsborough County has grown, so have traffic problems.

“Actually people who live in west Hillsborough County, the only ways that they have to east-west was either Linebaugh or South Mobley,” said Sandra Gonzalez, Design Manager for Hillsborough County’s Capital Program Department.

That’s where the Citrus Park Drive Extension Project comes into play, offering people another travel option while decreasing the distance and reducing the time.

New retailers coming to the Citrus Park Town Center

The Citrus Park Town Center has been a staple in the Citrus Park community since 1999. It's a 1.1 million square foot center with more than 5 million visitors a year.
Coming soon you'll find a new game day apparel retailer called Bows and Arrows. And hopefully by the end of the year, you'll find a new tenant inside the old Sears.

Original World of Beer started in Westchase

Now with more than 70 locations worldwide, World of Beer actually started in Westchase.

For 15 years they've called the location at the Westchase Town Center home. The community has supported them from day one.

King of the Coop ready to expand into Westchase

It's the restaurant that brought Nashville Hot Chicken to Tampa Bay and King of the Coop is quickly expanding.

"Nashville hot chicken. It's fried chicken and then you hit it with seasoned oil. And then you add extra seasoning for the spice, explains owner, Joe Dodd. "There's a cult following behind it where I like to see people push themselves like 'how hot can I really go' and it's it's funny to see reactions."

The original Seminole Heights location draws people from all over Tampa Bay. It quickly led to Dodd expanding in other parts of the Bay.

Irish 31's iCare Foundation launches 4th annual effort to thank educators

For the fourth year in a row, Irish 31's iCare Foundation will launch its Annual Cheers to Public Service Awards.

This year, the foundation hopes to identify Hillsborough and Pasco county teachers that have embraced this year's challenges.

In total, $20,000 will be handed out to our educators this year. The nomination period kicks off on January 19 and goes through April 8.

Hillsborough County works to expand Northwest Solid Waste Facility

Hillsborough County officials hope to start construction this year on the Northwest Solid Waste Facility off Linebaugh Avenue.

The expansion hopes to provide more access to people who live in nearby communities.

Right now, this facility is one of the busiest in the county but it's also the smallest. Residents can use the site for drop off but contractors also use it as a transfer station.

Dancing Goat Farm needs more volunteers

Nestled right off Race Track Road close to the Pinellas/Hillsborough county line sits a goat farm.

Probably not quite what you'd expect for the area but it's been a successful farm since 2007.

"I came out of corporate America in 2000 to start developing the farm. In 2007, we became legal, selling raw milk and that's our primary product here is the raw milk, raw goat milk. We are an urban sustainable, nonprofit farm," explained the owner of the Dancing Goat Farm, Pam Lunn. "Sustainable that we do water catchment, we're doing solar to charge our golf cart and to charge our various lawn equipment."

Westchase Colts dedicate Pop Warner Super Bowl to teammate after unexpected brain surgery

After a month in the hospital and two weeks of at-home recovery, Bruce was released just in time to join his teammates in Orlando for the Pop Warner Super Bowl national championship.

Westchase Elementary teacher writes book helping kids cope with classroom changes during pandemic

Emily Oquendo is a teacher and an author. But she is a mother first.

A worried mom of two young daughters.

That is how this whole bestselling book business started.

"Like any parent, I was losing sleep at night," says Oquendo. "How could I describe what school was going to look like to my daughter?"

Tampa teen helping seniors by creating gardens for grandparents

There is a Tampa teenager who saw a need for an herb garden at her grandmother’s assisted living facility, so she rolled up the sleeves and stuck her hands in the dirt.

Kelly Westmoreland grew up gardening with their grandmother Helen. It was a hobby Kelly hoped to carry on when Helen moved into Discovery Village at Westchase.

Then she found out the facility was so new that they didn’t have a garden.

So this Alonso High School senior took it upon herself to start two new herb garden’s in the courtyard. She called the project Gardens For Grandparents. Her grandma was impressed.

Young sisters in Westchase create 'Books Like Me' nonprofit so more students can read about diverse characters

Brooke and Haili Smith are voracious readers.

There's only one nagging problem.

"My sister and I noticed that in some of our favorite books, there weren't colored people or minorities, or members of the LGBTQ community," says Haili, who's 12. "Or if they were there, they didn't contribute."

The sisters from Westchase wanted more school libraries, from kindergarten to high school, to have a better selection of books that celebrate diversity.

"We want kids to have the opportunity to read about main characters just like them," says Brooke, who's 10.

So with the help of their parents, the sisters started Books Like Me as a way to get books with black characters, gay characters, characters with special needs, and all walks of life, into libraries.