Plant City High teacher dies after contracting COVID-19
The Plant City High School community mourned the death of Michael Wanner, a beloved science teacher at PCHS since 2004, last week.
Hillsborough County Public Schools confirmed Wanner, 61, died Nov. 3, several weeks after contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus and battling related illnesses. The school district made the announcement late Nov. 4 and the school had grief counselors on hand Nov. 5 for the many students and teachers who knew him. The school district said Wanner, an HCPS employee since 1998, did not contract the virus inside Plant City High School and had been quarantined away from campus for several weeks. He is the first teacher in the county known to have died from COVID-19 complications.
In addition to teaching, Wanner was also passionate about scouting and spent many years as a Boys Scouts leader, mentoring many Plant City youths and helping several reach the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Visitation and funeral services were held Monday at Haught Funeral Home.
Christmas lights display to reopen in late November
The Wonderland of Lights & Santa’s Village is all set to return Nov. 26 to bring holiday cheer to the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, 215 Sydney Washer Road, Dover.
The fifth annual event will offer attendees a non-contact, drive-through experience every week until Dec. 27. The light show is the main attraction from Monday through Wednesday. From Thursday through Sunday, attendees can also hang out at Santa’s Village to see Santa Claus himself. Also on the schedule are several family-friendly acts like Rulito’s Musical Comedy Extravaganza (Nov. 26), Nerdy Noah’s Comedy Show (Dec. 10-13) and the duo of Dennis Lee and Stephanie Ann (Dec. 24-27).
Tickets are $15 per car Monday through Wednesday and $25 per car Thursday through Sunday. If you donate blood or plasma at select OneBlood Big Red Bus locations in November, you can get a coupon for 50 percent off your Opening Night ticket. If you bring 10 non-perishable food items to donate to the United Food Bank of Plant City at the gate on Dec. 3, you’ll get $5 off for your ticket. At the end of the tour, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay will be set up in Santa’s Village for a pet adoption event.
COAST offender arrested after Plant City burglary
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday the arrest of Chad Leslie Clark after he was caught burglarizing a Plant City home last week and linked to at least two more in Hillsborough County.
Detectives started tracking Clark, 50, last week after his truck was filmed fleeing a female victim’s home in Seffner. The victim said she was asleep when the break-in occurred and she awoke to find a male suspect inside stealing her jewelry. Last week, HCSO detectives witnessed Clark casing several Plant City-area homes and on Nov. 6 saw him enter a home and leave with pillowcases full of jewelry, Halloween candy and an urn containing the ashes of a family’s deceased pet.
They followed Clark to a home on Sligh Avenue in Tampa and arrested him without incident. A search of the residence uncovered stolen jewelry from another burglary in which a total loss of $26,000 was reported.
Clark is considered a COAST offender and is required to register his residence with both lawn enforcement and the FDLE-maintained Career Offender Application for Statewide Tracking (COAST) program. He was released from Florida State Prison on Jan. 26 after serving 15 years for burglary. Clark currently faces charges of burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, felony petit theft, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, three counts of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, possession of burglary tools, grand theft (from dwelling), theft from persons 65 years of age or older and grand theft between $10,000 and $20,000.
“COAST offenders have a history of offenses that presents a threat to the public,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “I am proud of our detectives for getting this man off the streets so he cannot victimize any more people.”
Volunteers help city place flags on veterans’ headstones
The City of Plant City’s Cemetery Operations Unit had a big volunteer turnout on Nov. 7 for its initiative to place American flags on the graves of veterans for Veterans Day.
Forty individual volunteers of all ages came out that morning and helped the unit place flags at 1,170 military graves throughout the 52 acres of city-maintained cemeteries throughout the day. Parks and Recreation Department Director Jack Holland said volunteers will also be needed at 9 am this Saturday for the removal of the flags.