LARGO - Veteran Scott Owens of Largo suffered a traumatic brain injury during a bombing in Iraq in 2006.
He came home to battle memory issues and post-traumatic stress disorder, sinking into depression as he searched and failed to find a job as a civilian. His wife, Shannon, worried as her husband pulled further and further away from her, to the point of becoming suicidal.
Michael Dunlap of Dunedin joined the Marine Corps fresh out of high school and served six years until he was discharged in 1982. He also struggled to fit into civilian life, roaming the country and once even living out of his car.
LARGO - The Largo Public Library hosted the second lesson in the Cuban-style salsa dance called Casino March 17, as part of Largo Turns a Page.
The lesson is just one of several events held for the inaugural communitywide read over the last several weeks. During that time, the library community participated in various activities themed around “Learning to Die in Miami,” an autobiography by Cuban refugee Carlos Eire.
LARGO - Shoe Carnival’s new store in Largo officially opened March 21 at 1511 Missouri Ave., in Midway Plaza.
The footwear retailer hosted a grand opening event. The first 100 customers received a $10 reward card. The event also featured drawings, door-buster deals, prizes and giveaways.
“We are excited to open a new Shoe Carnival location in the Tampa area,” said Todd Beurman in a press release. Beurman is Shoe Carnival’s senior vice president of marketing. “Shoe Carnival is known for our one-of-a-kind shopping experience, unbelievable product assortment and unique atmosphere, which creates a customer focused way to shop for shoes.”
LARGO - Five years ago, Lori Torman's daughter, Casey, graduated with a special diploma from Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg.
Casey was born with a rare disorder called Goldenhar syndrome, a congenital birth defect causing deformities of the face and spine and some mental disabilities. Realizing there weren’t many jobs for their daughter, Lori and her husband, Barry, decided to start a business for adults with special needs.
LARGO - Twenty-six years ago, Mary Byrd was a stay-at-home mom and loving it. She had no intention of going to work; her husband, Larry, was a banker and they were living comfortably.
That all changed when her husband was asked to find a buyer for a framing company on East Bay Drive. After two months, when no buyer surfaced, Larry and a friend called their wives and suggested they buy the place. They did and Byrd, now 70, has been running the Frame Factory ever since.
LARGO - The man who spearheaded the drive to revitalize the downtown Old Northwest neighborhood has died.
Joseph Stefko, 52, was killed in a single car crash at 7:30 a.m. March 16 near Tallahassee. According to Florida Highway Patrol officials, he was driving north on U.S. Highway 27 when his SUV went off the road and crashed head-on into an oak tree.
Stefko, who reportedly wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was declared dead at the scene.
LARGO - Once again this summer, Largo Cultural Center will offer opportunities for students of all ages to experience the magic of live theater.
Teens ages 12 to 18 may sign up for “Fiddler on the Roof Jr.,” scheduled June 8-26. Children ages 9 to 13 can register for “Honk Jr.,” scheduled July 20 through Aug. 8. Both are three-week day camps that run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Campers will be trained in developing audition skills, solo and ensemble voice development, choreography, prop and scenic design. Each camp culminates in a performance by the young actors on stage.
For those who are interested in working behind the scenes of a theatrical production, the Largo Cultural Center is hosting a technical theater production camp, scheduled July 27 through Aug. 8. Designed for students ages 13 to 18, this camp provides an opportunity to learn about working with scenery, rigging, audio, sound and lighting equipment. Campers will apply their new skills to support the summer camp production of “Honk Jr.” Professionals with years of experience in the entertainment industry will teach this camp.
LARGO - Mere blocks from where she identified her daughter’s body six years ago, Sharon Blair talked about the latest version of the Jennifer Act, a bill working its way through the Florida Congress designed to help those struggling with prescription drug addiction.
It’s a bill she’s lobbied for, year after year since her daughter’s death, contacting legislators, researching the lawmaking process and speaking at schools and churches. The bill is named after her daughter, Jennifer Reynolds, who died of a drug overdose in Largo at age 29.