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THE SOPHISTICATED GENTS FRIENDSHIP SCHOLARSHIP TOURNAMENT BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

 

Allen Jenkins – President

If you happen to stop by the Golden Corral on the first Wednesday of the month, you may meet up with The Sophisticated Gents of Florida. The Gents group is a non-profit organization within our local tri-county area. The club was formed in 2005 and now boasts over 130 members. Many are retired professionals of various backgrounds who have relocated from all parts of the country.

Allen Jenkins is the president and explains that the club has a “keen interest in matters that affect communities of color.” Friendship and brotherhood are always welcomed from any ethnic group with shared values. Members volunteer to support in a range of local programs including election poll monitoring, student mentoring and other events which support civic organizations and schools.

One of the club’s missions is focused on uplifting youth from underserved communities. High school students are mentored and encouraged to graduate and realize their dreams of a brighter future. Coupled with The African American Club of The Villages, over $280,000 in scholarships have been funded during an eight-year period.

On Wednesday, October 19, the Sophisticated Gents of Florida and The African American Club of the Villages welcome the public to a very special golf tournament at Harbor Hills Country Club. The proceeds of the Friendship Scholarship Golf Tournament will support scholarships for selected high school seniors in Sumter, Lake and Marion.

The tournament format is a four-person scramble with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. The $100 donation per golfer includes cart, green fees, lunch, prizes and more. A lunch-only ticket is also available for $35. Registration deadline is October 5. To participate or sponsor, contact Chair Bill Munnerlyn at 614-330-8131 or Co-Chair Bill Davis at 719-332-6922. Visit www.sophisticatedgentsfl.org for more details.

THE THIRD ANNUAL ALL-GERMAN CAR SHOW BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

ALL GERMAN CAR SHOW

The Third Annual All-German Car Show will be hosted by Harbor Hills Country Club on Saturday, October 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Show & Shine” will include  up to 150 vehicles. Sponsoring Villages clubs are Mercedes-Benz Club of The Villages and The Villages BMW Z Club. The show is open to all German vehicles.

Mike Roth, President of the M. Benz Club of The Villages explains that his affinity for German cars is due to their high level of engineering excellence and craftmanship. German auto production also excels in safety and technological advances. In 1978, while scouting for the “cheapest luxury car in California,” Roth became the proud owner of a 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300 SD Turbo Diesel. He enjoyed his green-silver ride for the next 13 years. Joining The Villages community in 2017, Roth’s love of the brand inspired him to create the M. Benz Club. Starting with only one other like-minded neighbor, the club now boasts 290 members.

In keeping with the Octoberfest theme, entertainment will be provided by The Villages German Band. Vendors including Mercedes-Benz of Gainesville and Gettel Automotive Group will offer products and services. Trophies will be awarded for Best of Brand and second and third places in addition to Best of Show. Lunch and beverages can be purchased at Harbor Hills Country Club. Registration is $35 per vehicle. After October 1, registration is $50 per vehicle.

All proceeds support The Villages Dollars for Scholars. College and vocational scholarships are awarded to students who are local residents. Their mission is to help our local students achieve secondary education through accredited universities, colleges, community colleges and technical or trade schools.

To register for the show on-line, visit https:tinyurl.com/agcs2022. Then click the orange TICKETS button. For more information, call Mike Roth at 513-646-6523.

LAKE SUMTER STATE COLLEGE GOLF TOURNAMENT BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

The Harbor Hills championship golf course overlooks scenic Lake Griffin. It’s the perfect setting for a very special charity golf tournament. On September 16, the 23rd Annual Lake Sumter State College Athletic Golf Classic takes place.

Lake-Sumter State College is home to the Lakehawks. In addition to academic excellence, the college offers an array of intercollegiate athletics. Included are women’s beach volleyball, volleyball, softball, men’s baseball, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s track.

Lake-Sumter State College athletic director Mike Matulia is excited for the annual golf classic at Harbor Hills. The event raises money for the athletic program and provides scholarships to student athletes who excel academically during their high school careers. “Harbor Hills does a tremendous job with the logistics and making our event special for our guests,” Mike explains. It will be a great day for “fun-raising” for the athletics program. Prizes include longest drive, closest to the pin, an exciting putting contest and a 50/50 drawing.

Sponsorships are greatly needed and start at only $100. The highest tier includes a $500 scholarship in the sponsor’s name as well as golf for four, sponsorship logos, special recognition, season passes for various games banners and more. It’s a great opportunity for local business exposure. To participate or sponsor a golfer, contact Matulia at 352-323-3645 or matuliami@lssc.edu.

LABOR DAY – A WORKINGMAN’S HOLIDAY BY NIKKI HOFFMAN


The first Monday in September is Labor Day. This is a special day that honors the American labor movement and pays tribute to the working men and women who help our economy prosper. It originated in 1882 as a “Workingman’s Holiday” honoring the industrial foundation of our great country.

Could those hardworking men and women ever have imagined how labor has changed? Today’s technology has altered almost every aspect of familiar tasks. Speaking into my television remote to select a show amazes me. I remember getting off the couch to change the channel! The camera on my phone is more powerful than the one around my neck. The coronavirus pandemic significantly increased our dependence on technology. FaceTime and Zoom visits often replace real-life visits with family members who live out-of-state. Even a doctor visit can be managed on-line.

To recall the original spirit of Labor Day, I have a challenge for you. Give yourself the day off from your daily tasks. Log off the computer, tablet and cellphone that connect you to your daily routine. Then relax and appreciate a device-free afternoon with friends, a scrapbook-inspired walk down memory lane or any device-free hobby that you enjoy.

Harbor Hills Country Club members and guests are celebrating Labor Day in style. Red, white and blue-decorated carts will make their way down our picturesque fairways in a four-person scramble. A traditional Labor Day cookout follows. Golf and lunch are $35 for members, $75 for guests. Lunch only is $30 per person.

Honor those hardworking Americans we celebrate today. Stay safe and welcome to our returning residents and those new to our area.

HELPING GIRLS MOVE CONFIDENTLY INTO THE FUTURE BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

Service. Scholarship. Determination. What connects these attributes? Jackie Croft can tell you. She is the director of the Miss Lake County Florida pageant. The non-profit pageant promotes community service and helps develop the skills needed to become tomorrow’s leaders. Under Jackie’s guidance, the pageant has grown in prestige and scope. “The most important benefit of the competition lies in community service, raising awareness and inspiring others,” Jackie said.

The reigning Miss Lake County Florida, Kate Mehr, graduated from Leesburg High School and will attend the University of Florida in Gainesville. She is majoring in Nutritional Sciences and has dental school in her future.

Along with her court, Kate represents Lake County at charity events, local festivals and fairs. The girls have helped with the Clermont Lake clean up, the Phantom Airborne Brigade, the Hometown Heroes program and various food drives. Other outreach events included Read Across America, Lake Cares bag drive for the homeless, the Fruitland Park Derby Race and the Diaper Drive for Clermont Women’s Center. They threw out the first pitch at the Leesburg Lightning game on July 21. The girls will have worked over 100 hours of community service at the end of their reign. They will be presented the Presidential Volunteer service award for their selflessness and service.

On Saturday, September 3, Harbor Hills Country Club is proud to host the Miss Lake County Scholarship Golf Tournament. All proceeds are designated for college scholarships. Registration opens at 7 a.m. with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. The cost of $75 per golfer includes tournament and lunch. Awards, prizes, chance drawings and a 50-50 drawing are included. Call the Pro Shop at 352-753-7711 to register or visit misslakecountypageant.com.

CELEBRATING HARBOR HILLS’ AVIATORS BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

National Aviation Day is this Friday. The date coincides with Orville Wright’s birthday. He piloted his first successful flight at age 32 in 1903. Orville and his brother Wilbur proved air travel was possible. Icon Amelia Earhart opened the skies for women in aviation.

The Blue Angels, the legendary U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, have selected the first woman pilot in their 76-year history. Lt. Amanda Lee piloted a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at the Pensacola Beach Air Show.

Another ground-breaking female in the field of aerobatics is Dr. Kathy Hirtz. A one-time Harbor Hills resident, Dr. Hirtz became interested in aerobatics with her husband and air show pilot Steve Wolf. She holds a 500-foot clearance designation, performing aerobatics at an altitude as low as 500 feet. She started WingOver Aerobatics for rides and aerobatic instruction.

Neighbor and Air Force pilot Steve Hritz flew C-130 Hercules transports out of Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. Other assignments included command of the 375th Flying Training Squadron at Scott Air Force Base. Harbor Hills aviators include private pilot Joe Dietrich who has logged many hours in the cockpit. Neighbor Rich Yoder is a Naval Academy grad, ex-carrier pilot and a former captain for Pan Am.

Two Harbor Hills aviators have sadly passed away. In World War II, Air Force Brig. Gen. Bill Wilcox flew 75 combat missions and received the distinguished Flying Cross. Bill McKillop, U.S. Marine Corps Aviation, served as a squadron pilot in Korea. In later years, he flew his old WW II Stearman, bi-wing, open cockpit plane, circa 1940-45. We honor all these brave aviators on this special day.

HARBOR HILLS IS LOCATED NEXT TO A NATURAL LANDMARK BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

August is Water Quality Month and it’s the perfect time to think about nearby Lake Griffin. The lake is adjacent to Harbor Hills, providing spectacular views as well as fishing from the neighborhood dock.

The area is part of the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area known as the Jewel of Lake County. It’s one of the most scenic sites along the Great Florida Birding Trail. This 7,089-acre U.S. wildlife area is maintained by the St. Johns Water Management District. In 1974, the conservation area was designated as a National Natural Landmark.

Florida is home on one-fifth of our country’s wetlands. Protection of these fragile areas is critical. Half of all North American bird species and other endangered animals use wetlands for feeding and nesting. In winter, songbirds, marsh birds and ducks migrate to Emeralda Marsh. Flocks of snowy egrets and sandhill cranes stroll gracefully through the nearby neighborhoods of Harbor Hills. The sturdy branches of our fairway trees provide ample cover and a grand perspective for the occasional bald eagle.

Today, area visitors find an abundance of wetland wildlife as well as boating, hiking and fishing. Open waters are stocked with fish by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Neighbors Butch and Linda Carlson, Dr. Dan Wassell, Dan Kurka and Mark Rhodes are a few of our recreational anglers. Others include Bill Bogert, Barry Palmer, Tom Ingram and Mark Witkop. They have enjoyed fishing the many interconnected lakes of the scenic Harris Chain. Much work has been done to improve our local water quality and restore a thriving habitat for our plant and animal life. For more information, visit floridaswater.com.

REACH OUT TO OLD AND NEW FRIENDS BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

Treat The Troops

Treat The Troops

July 30 is the International Day of Friendship, a holiday celebrated annually around the world. It was created in the hopes that fostering friendship among different cultures will inspire peace and understanding. It’s a great day to renew close personal relationships or simply have a good time with friends.

Nurturing friendships and reaching out to others is what makes living in Harbor Hills unique. Together, neighbors work hard to create charitable events that benefit the community. Food drives and clothing sales bring the women of Harbor Hills together to donate significant funds to local charities. Golf and tennis tournaments are played to benefit compassionate causes. The community of Harbor Hills blends fun, friendship and caring.

With fall fast approaching, it’s not too early for the women of Harbor Hills to garner support for the Harbor Hills Treat the Troops cookie drive. Treat the Troops is a nonprofit organization with the mission of reassuring deployed American military personnel that we think of them with pride and concern. We bake, package and ship baked goods to our troops free of charge.

Last year’s 2021 drive resulted in 84 boxes containing a total of 8,064 homemade cookies to deployed soldiers in Kosovo, Poland, South Korea, a ship in the Middle East and a military hospital in Abu Dhabi. Our challenging goal for 2022 is 100 packages shipped to our deployed troops.

We welcome support from Harbor Hills, The Villages and neighboring communities. The extensive team effort takes months in planning to meet a November ship date. This column will provide more information from co-chairs Roseann Cochran and Shirle Mabie in the coming weeks. Our soldiers deserve our gratitude and much more.

HEATHER OAKS FARM IS A HARBOR HILLS FAVORITE BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

HEATHER OAKS FARM

Maintaining good health is what is on everyone’s mind these days. With well-being in mind, Bob and Maria Tracy have established a quaint farm featuring locally grown produce with an emphasis on nutrition and freshness.

In a short 10-minute drive from Harbor Hills, you will find Heather Oaks Farm. Located at 4240 Christmas Lane, this family farm harvests local produce just like the neighborhood farms we remember from childhood.  Bob and Maria Tracy own and operate the farm which grows seasonal blueberries and grapes that you can pick yourself.

Throughout the year, tomatoes, kale, squash, peas and lettuce are grown aquaponically. Maria explains that this environmentally-friendly process uses less water and provides greater nutrition than traditional farming. Customers can call in special orders for aquaponic vegetables and in about two weeks, the order will be ready.

Farm fresh eggs are plentiful and available daily at Heather Oaks. Maria insists on purchasing certified organic feed for her chickens. “Conventional feed is cheaper,” she explains, “but may contain additives or antibiotics.”

New for sale this year are plumeria plants in stunning colors. Also known as frangipani, the flowers are most fragrant in the evening. In Hawaii, a token of welcome includes a lei, frequently created with these colorful flowers.

With a backdrop of sunflowers and sweet-smelling herbs, the pheasant and quail leisurely meander around the farm. It’s a fun place to take the children or grandchildren to watch the grazing sheep up close and help pick seasonal berries. Harbor Hills residents enjoy the fresh monthly selections and invite you to enjoy as well.

Maria Tracy can be reached for egg orders at 352-516-4986. Visit https://heatheroaksfarm.com for more information.

HONORING THE MEMORY OF OUR VETERANS AND POLICE OFFICERS BY NIKKI HOFFMAN

Nam Knights Motorcycle Club

The Nam Knights Motorcycle Club was inspired by a small group of Harley-riding combat vets of the Vietnam War. The club was founded in 1989 in New Jersey by Jack Quigley. Quigley served as a platoon sergeant with the 11th Motor Transport Battalion, First Marine Division.

Today, the motorcycle club consists of hundreds of members that include veterans of all eras as well as law enforcement personnel. There are 78 chapters in 18 states, Washington, D.C. and even one Canadian province!

The mission of the Nam Knights is twofold: to honor the memory of those veterans and police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty and to assist others when help is needed. Fund-raising events promote awareness and provide financial support to those who have given so much for our freedom and safety.

On Saturday, August 6, the Green Swamp Chapter of the Nam Knights of America will host a very special golf tournament at Harbor Hills Country Club. The aptly-named tournament is called “Golf for our Heroes.” The format is a four-person scramble with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. The $100 donation per golfer includes cart, green fees, food, prizes and much more.  Sponsorships are greatly needed. To participate, sponsor or volunteer, contact Bill Dashiells at 443-938-3130 or Cardio at 352-516-1868. Visit https://www.namknights.org/ for more details.

Congrats to the winners of the Harbor Hills Memorial Day golf tournament! Mixed flight: Steve and Sue Hritz, Ruth Chancellor and Bruce Goldsborough. Men’s flight: Bill Fagliano, Keith Schwartz and John Havanec. Fun flight: Frank and Jo Ann Zsilavetz, Dave and Diane Raymond. Guest/Social flight: Tripp and Kevin Watkins, Luke Wood and Ragan Smith.

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