Judi Gearsbeck, front row left, is heading up six monthly "Ice Cream Socials", from May through October for us "Sunbirds". Pictured above are some of the volunteers that help make these events so popular.

Attendees proceed through a condiment line where a choice of eight different toppings are offered for your cup of ice cream. I usually take a spoonful of each.......yes I do. If an ice cream sundae is not your "cup of tea", a root beer float can be had.

Later, contestants were picked from the audience to play in the old TV edition of the "The Match Game". And a good time was had by all of the 144 who attended.

"Burger King" is undergoing a facelift both inside and out.

A new bank is being constructed on the old "Whataburger"site next to the Microtel Inn & Suites motel behind Lowes.

A "Forth of July Picnic" was also held for us "Sunbirds". Here the barbecue crew, headed up by Randall Gearsbeck, second from left, prepares the burgers for the 146 attendees.

Inside Clubhouse #3, chief honcho Judi Gearsbeck, front row center, along with some of the volunteers, prepare the picnic menu of a burger, potato chips, drinks and for dessert, a brownie.

"Share The Wealth" and door prize tickets were also sold.

Entertainment was provided by the "Dynamic Duo" of Johnny Ellis and Denise Drew. There was also a "free pass swim day" for all Betmarians.

Installation of the new rubberized roof is now complete over the shuffle board court.

View of the new Wawa gas station site, across the street from the Marathon gas station on the corner of Gall Blvd. and County Rd. 54.

Also rumored, there will be a Culver's family restaurant going in next to Wawa.


Railroad & Industrial Federal Credit Union Opens Zephyrhills Branch

Railroad & Industrial Credit Union is opening its ninth branch in Florida at 36239 S.R. 54 in Zephyrhills, next to Dave's Soft Serve Ice Cream. The branch in the building where Center State Bank used to operate represents an expansion of the credit union into the Pasco County market, said Allen Jernigan, a credit union spokesman.

The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at the credit union at noon on June 22. There will also be business networking at the new branch from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on June 22.

A grand opening celebration will take place there on June 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with train rides, bounce houses, prize raffles, gift basket drawings food, drinks and giveaways for the whole family.

“We are excited to be offering our services in Pasco County,” said Pete Giorgianni, President and CEO of RIFCU. “The Zephyrhills branch is part of our strategic initiative to expand our footprint in the Tampa Bay market,” he said. RIFCU was founded in Tampa in 1935 as a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution. RIFCU had $70 in assets when 14 railroad employees met to charter the credit union.

Over time, assets have grown to more than $325 million. As well as offices, RIFCU offers a mobile platform, including a responsive design website, Apple App, and Google Play App.


Water Rate to Increase for Infrastructure Funding

ZEPHRYHILLS - As city officials report near completion of a controversial overhaul of Zephyrhills' water meters and billing system, the City Council is now eyeing a water rate increase next year to tackle aging underground infrastructure.

Council members got a first look at a study during a work session Monday night that proposes a 4 percent water rate increase and an 8 percent sewer rate increase for customers starting Oct. 1, 2018, and running through 2022.

The proposal would mean single-family homeowners that use 3,000 gallons of combined water and sewer a month would see their bills rise from $40.03 to $43.14, an increase of 7.8 percent. Users of 5,000 gallons would see their bills increase from $53.29 to 57.52, a 7.9 percent increase. The study found that 79 percent of residential customers use 5,000 gallons or less a month.

Plans call for the revenue from the rate increase to go toward utility operating expenses and $27 million in capital projects planned through fiscal 2022. City Manager Steve Spina told council members that the water and sewer infrastructure is in constant need of upgrades, adding that during a recent streetscape project, workers found pipes that were 60 years old.

The numbers in the study are not set in stone. The council is set to discuss them during its June 26 meeting, followed by two public readings of the ordinance should they decide to move forward.

During the work session, there were calls from council to explain the proposed increase to the public in as much detail as possible. Council members pointed out that the city is still in the midst of completing the meter upgrades and billing service changes.

Last fall, the city began rolling out a program through a contractor, Arizona-based FATHOM, to replace all of the city's meters and begin a digital monitoring bill-paying system that will cost the city $6 million over two years. Spina pointed out that next year's proposed increase has nothing to do with the project, but would be earmarked for infrastructure upgrades.

Spina admitted the rollout of the FATHOM program has been difficult and generated numerous complaints from residents, but said implementation is 90 percent complete. The city man ager told the Tampa Bay Times that the majority of complaints stem from people receiving higher bills because FATHOM's system is more precise in calculating usage and finds leaks that the old system did not detect.

City Council President Alan Knight said he has fielded many calls about the FATHOM project and expects public scrutiny over a possible rate increase.

'We have to have an answer for this, and we better have a very good answer,' Knight said.


As City Hall DemolitioBegins, Operations Relocated

Most services move to the old police station. Council meetings move to the library June 13.

BY ROBERT NAPPER, Times Correspondent

ZEPHYRHILLS - City operations are about to change in a big way as Zephyrhills readies to tear down City Hall and temporarily move to new headquarters while a new building is constructed.

City Council members described it as 'bittersweet' after holding the board's final meeting on May 22 at City Hall on 8th Street, reminiscing as Zephyrhills prepares to move city government into its former police station at 5344 9th St. The city will pay the property's owner, RTD Construction, $4,000 a month in rent.

The majority of city services will be moved to the old police station, though the planning department will operate out of the historic Jeffries House at 38533 5th Ave., where the city's Community Redevelopment Agency already resides. Council members will also see a change of venue. Starting June 13, council meetings will be in the meeting room at the city library at 5347 8th St. Should that room prove to be too small, the city has made arrangements to hold council meetings in the Alice Hall Community Center, at 38116 5th Ave.

The temporary move will have little effect on providing public services, other than plans to close for one day, Friday, with the goal of being fully operational again on Monday at the former police station and at Jeffries House, City Manager Steve Spina said.

There will be no changes to city telephone numbers, and mail sent to the current City Hall address will be redirected. The only thing not open for business by Monday will be the city's drive-through utility window for people to pay bills. Bill paying will take place inside for the time being.

The current 13,497-square-foot City Hall, which dates back to the 1950s, is slated to be demolished in July, and a new city hall will be built on the same location, with construction projected to take a year.

In January, the City Council voted to construct the new twostory, 19,615-square-foot building at a projected cost of nearly $6.2 million.

Though the current building will sit vacant for a few weeks, it will, the city will hold an auction there to sell furniture and other unneeded items on June 20. 'Our police and fire departments will also be using the building for training once we are out of there,' Spina said.

There's no more "Dirt" to dish out, so that's all for now............"Dirt Meister", Jim


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