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Keystone Connection August 2022 Newsletter

    A Note From Your Editor, Cassandra Leonard

Please share your stories, pictures in area, recipes, hot news and  interview availability to:

If you have topics you would like to hear more about, please email to or fill out the suggestion cards at the Meeting(s) upon sign in, this will be passed on to our President and BOD for discussion and inclusion accordingly.   As a community bound together we are a strong force; protecting our Keystone 36 !

Teamwork as a Community is what it takes to protect Keystone.  

“United we are Strong, Divided we are Weak. Together we can accomplish ANYTHING. “

Please support our amazing Business Sponsors featured in this newsletter!
Become a KCA Business Sponsor Today



Variance Requests

22-0898 on 18289 Gunn Hwy Property Folio #: 837.0000 & 838.0000.   Resident applied to place an 8-foot concrete wall around entire parameter of property. Our current KOCP plans only permits 4- 6-foot barriers and the wall on the east side of Gunn facing west violates the KOCP Rural guidelines.  First Hearing July 25 with Appeal Results August 15 then 30 days to appeal.

22-0926 on 17000 Boy Scout Road. Standard Rezoning Request on this property. Hearing is continued to October 2022.

22-1135 Special Use 7720 Van Dyke Road. Public Hearing 8/22/22, 10:00 AM for Alcohol Beverage Permit for Wine/Beer.  The property is next door to a Church and a neighbor within residential area. A county ordinance waiver is required.

22-1105 on Rustic Woods Trail. Standard Rezoning Request. Notes reflect possible additional structures on property.

22-1338 on 16601 Boy Scout Road Distinctive Stables rezoning; Presently 1-5 acres with ten acres.  Hearing is going before BOCC on 8/25/22 and is recommended by KCA for approval. This approval is consistent with the Planning Commission, Developmental Services and the Zoning Hearing Master all recommending approval.

CLC Meeting next meeting to be announced present CLC stands with no changes.


Patterson Road Project Updates

The BOCC Emails helped, to all who sent them thank you!  Keep them going.  As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel eventually gets greased.

The 24 Hour Permit request Taylor Morrison applied for to install the water and sewer lines was rescinded by the county.    Taylor Morrison can only work on these during business hours not during peak traffic time.  They already have approved permitting to install water and sewer lines along Race Track and South Mobley Roads.  They want to be able to work 24 hours a day to get it installed as fast as possible. But that will not happen now.   They’re requesting one lane closure with flagmen from 9am-4pm.  Permits are valid until 9/23.  We are sure they are going to continue to push this through as fast as they can as they HAVE BEEN BREAKING THE RULES consistently as we speak.  Been caught by residents working at night!  And…they have cut down more OLD oak trees and burying them according to local resident pictures.      If you see any activity going on outside the regular scheduled hours allowed by PERMIT (9am-4pm),  PLEASE send in pictures or videos report it to the BOCC immediately. 

The link is provided below where you can email all  the Board of County Commissioners if you want your voices heard about this Taylor Morrison Project, it is suggested email ALL the BOCC.   Let them know about the environmental impacts this project will have etc. and whatever else comes to mind.    Go to this site and select the red “EMAIL ALL COMMISSIONERS” button.

Please pass this on to as many other people that you know to show we are united as a community to protect Keystone from developers who wish to be non-compliant to our  Keystone Odessa Community Plan (KOCP).

Status on legal case:    The Judge granted the request for Taylor Morrison to join the County in this suit against them.  Taylor Morrison law firm is Hill Ward Henderson. 

Meanwhile the resident team members who have initiated the  suit created a  great website that provides ongoing updates and ability to donate directly toward the legal fees of this project and review important updates.      The website address is :

From B. White :
There have been 2 MAJOR milestone victories for our community as of late.

“Beginning August 19, 2022, all new Planned Development (PD) and Major Modification (MM) applications must undergo a sufficiency review meeting after submittal”

Full description can be found at Hillsborough County – Planned Development

And zoning modifications, specific changes to the Land Development Code
ARTICLE II – ZONING DISTRICTS | Land Development Code | Hillsborough County, FL | Municode Library


Save the Date for our major Fundraiser!   Change of Date!
Sunday, September 11, 2022

at Historical Keystone’s Old McMicky’s Farm

KCA Fundraising Chair is excited to announce we have a our Special Fundraiser scheduled for Sunday, September 11, 2022  5PM – 9:30 PM with two live bands at Keystones  Old McMicky’s Farm! The opening band duo “Big Picture” and our cover band “Soul Circus Cowboys”  will provide great entertainment for everyone at our first Annual “Keystone Boots, Boogie and Brew”.  Country theme of course. This will also be a memorable event to honor the heroes we lost on 9/11.  We thank Keystone’s Old McMicky’s Farm for being a contributing sponsor to this event as we enjoy hosting it there.

This fundraiser will raise monies for replenishment and growth of funds for KCA. Protect our Keystone 36.      We are seeking Sponsors/Business Sponsors to  support the cost of Venue and special rate amount for entertainment production.  A sponsor package is in process and once approved by committee and BOD will be sent out to everyone.   Vendors welcome! We are seeking Food Truck vendors, beverage etc.

Residents/Members we need your support, please share this event information with anyone you know.   A formal flyer is in design process and will be sent out asap along with ticket purchase options.

If you are interested to support, join the fundraising committee now,  or be a sponsor for this event please email our Chair at:    We are seeking a Title Sponsor for this event ($5,000).    Any help will be appreciated to bring this event to the success we believe it will be to reach our needed goal!

News About Keystone Residents

Agritourism Story of the Month!

Jiretz Road Blueberries

By Jane Whitehurst

The KCA Agriculture Committee’s purpose is twofold.  One to show case and promote local farmers, and two to inspire others to pursue their agricultural dream farm in Keystone.  For this month we chose to feature Jiretz Road Blueberries.

Michael Capria is the proprietor of Jiretz Road Blueberries.  You might have already met Michael and his wife Nila if you attended blueberry picking at their farm.  Each year, around March, Michael begins emailing past customers a tentative schedule of days and times for picking.  He also puts a few signs out on Keystone Road to attract more pickers.  Each year the number of pickers increase.

Michael began growing blueberries at his 2 ½ acre farm approximately 8 years ago.    He has planted 1800 bushes throughout the years only losing 50 bushes. He has 4 varieties which mature at different times.   This helps extend his picking time.  Other than an irrigation system, everything else done to the blueberries is man- labor intensive.

Michael devotes 2 ½ hours a day, from 7:00 am to 9:30 am, on his knees, weeding and pruning.  He completes one row each day.  He uses no insecticides or herbicides.  The blueberries are grown in a purely organic environment. Not even gas- or diesel-powered equipment is used near them. Blueberries prefer an acidic soil and can succumb to many different types of molds.  For this reason, Michael stays away from fertilizers with nitrates using sulfur base fertilizers instead.

Jiretz Road Blueberry also does not use Dormex which is a chemical that makes plants go dormant.  Commercial blueberry farmers use Dormex so that all the plants are ready for harvest at the same time.  The more the commercial farmer can control the crops the less the labor hours.  Which will bring bigger profits for the farmer.  To cut down on weeds, the commercial blueberry farmers use pine fine between the rolls of blueberry bushes.   Since they have more acreage, the rows of blueberries are set wider apart so tractors and other equipment can move easily between them.  They also bring in bees at the appropriate time for pollination, regulate when the plants will produce berries, and use equipment to shake the bushes for the berries to drop.

Blueberries can be picked even when they are green because they will continue to ripen even after they are picked.   Blackberries, which are becoming an increasingly popular crop to grow in Florida, must ripen completely on the vine.  Fortunately, nature decided to help the blackberries with this situation by empowering them with thorns. This a deterrent for the birds.  To deter the birds from eating his blueberries, Michael uses a cannon.  It is loud but he finds it’s the only way to keep the birds at bay.

This past picking season was a disappointment for Michael.  His crop was down 95%.  In the years previous his crops have been bountiful. He questions whether he should have pruned his plants so far back even though this practice served him well all the other years.  Blueberries like to have a freeze in December and that didn’t happen also the rain fall was lower than average.  The life of a farmer is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Since Jiretz blueberries property does not have enough land for commercial use it is considered a hobby farm and unfortunately will not qualify for greenbelt exemption with Hillsborough County.  During most years Michael breaks even with his sales of blueberries if you don’t count his almost 1000 hours of labor. It seemed like the logical question to ask Michael is simply, “Why do you do it”?

He loves it, the blueberries themselves and all the hard work.  Blueberries are a superfood.  They are high in zinc, probiotics, prebiotics and, although not verified, an anti-covid food.   Michael is certain the reason he and his wife stayed heathy without any dangerous effects of covid is due to the magic of this berry. Michael also believes that putting your hands in the soil helps him connect with nature and bending down and moving through the rows of bushes, sometimes on his hands and knees, keeps him physically fit.

Michael and Nila also look forward to the 5 or 6 weeks of blueberry picking when they get to spend time with their neighbors and meet new people. If you haven’t gone picking yet make sure you bring head covering, sunglasses, and sunscreen.  Small children and pets are better off not attending to protect the bushes.  Michael will provide buckets, plastic bags, along with some classical music for your listening pleasure.

We appreciate the opportunity to speak with Michael and wish him good luck for a healthy, abundant 2023 crop.  See you at the blueberry picking!




Written by  C. Leonard

There is a “Berry” Good Way to Get Your Omegas and Immune Boost.

Since there was a great article completed on one of our local Blueberry Farms in Keystone (Jiretz Blueberries), I thought it would be appropriate to define to you more about this amazing fruit that we all LOVE to eat!   It is very true, the Blueberry is known for its high antioxidant values.

Did you know… you do not need to eat just fish to boost your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids.  In fact, you can find omega-3 in some surprising places such as the Blueberries!    A recent Norwegian study found that blueberries contain a similar amount of alpha-linolenic acid  (ALA) as some wild green vegetables known for being rich in ALA.

Bone Up on Omega 3 to avoid osteoporosis while it also boosts your immune system!   We know how important calcium is for strong bones, but omega-3 fatty acids may also play a key role in bone health.   A recent Penn State study found that plant sources of omega-3 could help prevent bone loss.   In a control group study researchers controlled everything people ate.  They compared a standard American diet to those with high ALA, linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid and linoleic acid (LA) , a type of omega-6 fatty acid.     The ALA diet led to a significant decrease in blood levels of N-telopeptides, a marker of bone loss.  Meanwhile markers of bone formation remained unchanged.  In other words, you’re still building bones, but they’re not breaking down as much.  That’s a good recipe for avoiding osteoporosis.   Walnuts , which also provide ALA and LA, made up a large part of the diet in addition to Flaxseed oil that boosted ALA levels.
The key findings were the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in your diet.

Blueberries have shown to protect against heart disease and cancer, and can also help maintain bone strength, mental health, and healthy blood pressure.

Fast facts on blueberries

  • Blueberries contain a plant compound called anthocyanin a type of flavonoid that gives blueberries many of their health benefits. Flavonoids are plant compounds that often have a powerful antioxidant effect. This gives blueberries both their blue color and many of their health benefits.
  • Blueberries can help heart health, bone strength, skin health, blood pressure, diabetes management, cancer prevention, and mental health.
  • One cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of a person recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.
  • Use blueberries to top waffles, pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal, blend them in a smoothie or syrup, or fold them into muffins and sweet breads.
  • People who use blood-thinners, such as warfarin, should speak to their doctor before increasing their intake of blueberries, as the high vitamin K content can affect blood clotting.

Vitamin C, vitamin A, and the various phytonutrients in blueberries function as powerful antioxidants that may help protect cells against damage from disease-linked free radicals.
Research suggests that antioxidants may inhibit tumor growthdecrease inflammation in the body, and help ward off or slow down esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate, and colon cancers.

Blueberries also contain folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair. This can prevent the formation of cancer cells due to mutations in the DNA according to Pub Med.

Memory Attributes :  Population-based studies have shown that consumption of blueberries is connected to slower cognitive decline in older women.  Studies have also found that in addition to reducing the risk of cognitive damage, blueberries can also improve a person’s short-term memory and motor coordination.

Healthier Digestion : Blueberries help to prevent constipation and maintain regularity for a healthful digestive tract because of their fiber content.  Dietary fiber is also commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management by functioning as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system. High fiber foods increase satiety, or the feeling of being full, and reduce appetite.  Feeling fuller for longer can reduce a person’s overall calorie intake.

Have fun on your next outing to go Blueberry picking!  Get Your Berries On!   Remember to support your local Keystone Farmers next time you need buy some!



  A walk down memory lane…


by C. Leonard. (by research completed online and writings of Charles Wilson)

Odessa/Keystone Back In Time

The Saw Mill Era


A Bit of Background on how Odessa evolved.

Apparently, Odessa was named in the 1880s by the Russian immigrant Peter A. Demens, who was instrumental in financing the Orange Belt Railway, which ran from Sanford to Trilby to St. Petersburg. He also named St. Petersburg. Both are cities in Russia.​

Odessa was originally situated in Pasco County, although today the town extends into northern Hillsborough County.​

On May 22, 1900, a post office was established at Odessa. Peter Strand was the first postmaster.

On Oct. 19, 1903, the Ocala Evening Star reported:

“R. S. Hall and Mr. Collier have begun operations at the big turpentine location that Mr. Hall purchased last month at Odessa, in Pasco county, from Hillman and Ivey. The firm name is Hall & Collier. This is an exceptionally fine location, plenty of good timber and on the railroad. Mr. Hall gave Hillman and Ivey $71,000 for the 23,440 acres. A good portion of the location is sawmill timber. The turpentine location itself is valued at $40,000. “
According to A. S. Gower, in 1912 Fivay saw mills closed down for good, the machinery was junked, and the timber rights were sold to the Gulf Pine Company, which established a mill at Odessa.

In 1917, the Dowling Lumber Mill was reported to be producing 100,000 board feet daily and the Lyon Pine Saw Mill was turning out 80,000 board feet daily. An earlier company, the Mueller and Lutz Saw Mill, operating in the first decade of the century, had gone out of business by the time the other two reached their peak. Workers were paid their $1 daily wage in tokens which were redeemable only in merchandise at the company store. [Information from The Historic Places of Pasco County]

On Jan. 12, 1917, Marvin L. Roberts was appointed the Odessa postmaster.  The 1920 census showed Odessa had a population of 700.

On Feb. 10, 1922, the Tarpon Springs Leader reported that Tom E. Chaires, postmaster at Odessa, was arrested by Post Office Inspectors on a charge of embezzlement of $4,000 in postal funds. Miss Donna McFarland was appointed acting postmaster.

On Oct. 19, 1922, the New Port Richey Press reported that the lumber plant and stored materials of the Dowling Brothers Lumber Co. at Odessa were destroyed by fire.

On November 24, 1922, the New Port Richey Press reported that work had begun to rebuild the mills of the Dowling Brothers at Odessa.

On May 15, 1925, the New Port Richey Press reported that fire had totally destroyed the lumber mill of the Lyon Pine Company at Odessa “last Saturday night.”

According to Historic Places of Pasco County, “Some old-timers maintain that the fires were not accidental.”   On Sept. 30, 1927, the Tarpon Springs Leader reported, “The Dowling company, which recently moved its large lumber mill from Odessa to Gulf Hammock, will not leave its old mill site a scene of desolation. Buildings are being sold and removed for lumber and the ground converted into a large citrus grove.”

Before we go further into this history, I have enjoyed this research in learning more about our amazing area.  It goes without saying, we certainly have nothing to complain about except to preserve what those before us laid out.   We are blessed to be a “community” and as such should always be united for our futures and the evolution of “change” around us.

The Saw Mill Era 1918-1919 Florida State Gazetteer and Business Directory

Most information researched by CHARLES R. WILSON. Compiled by PHYLLIS E. BINDER.   Contributed more researched information by C. Leonard

LUMBER was the magic word that produced this community of ours.

In 1899, there was one sawmill and one turpentine still operating in the area, run by prisoners who were kept in a stockade across from Lake Artillery. They maintained their own railroads. At that time, Odessa was a flag station for the Atlantic Coastline, which ran parallel to Route 54.

By 1904 both had closed. Then in 1907, Gulf Pine Lumber Company bought 50,000 acres of the surrounding area, held it for two years and sold it in 1909 to the Dowling Lumber Company, which erected a sawmill on Gunn Highway about 1/2 mile south of Route 54.

At about the same time, the Lyon Lumber Company established a slightly smaller mill, further south on Gunn Highway, at the present site of the Odessa Baptist Church, calling it the Lyon Pine Mill.

The Dowling Mill employed about 200 men, 75% of whom were blacks, who worked in the woods chopping down trees. They were paid with company coins, called Babbit, aluminum coins that could be spent only at the company store or commissary. Dowling Mill issued round coins, while Lyon Mill used egg shaped coins.

Most of the laborers were paid daily in the hope that they would spend their money before the weekend, when drunkenness was quite a problem. The wage at that time was $1.00 for an eleven hour day!

The mills built frame shanties for their workers, with a fireplace for heat. A few had beds, but most men and their families slept on the dirt floor. Their water was supplied by a pump in the yard. At that time, you could sink a 20 foot well and get clear, potable, drinking water. A school was provided for the black children at a charge of 25¢ a week per family.

Many northerners, especially from Michigan, flocked to the area to work in the mills when they opened. They bought property and built homes. Many cleared their land and planted citrus.

In 1913, Odessa had one telephone, located in the Dowling Mill, and three automobiles. Mr. Dowling owned a Cadillac and a Buick. He put railroad car wheels on the Buick, which he put on the tracks once a week, to make a trip to Tampa. Mr. McGraw, the sawyer at the mill, owned a Buick.

​Within a few years, Odessa was a bustling mill town of roughly 2,000, with the two mills the hub of activity. Within the area could be found several boarding houses, a meat market, drug store, hardware, barber shop, general store, and even a Ford Agency and a garage.​

There was one doctor who served the 6½ square mile township of Odessa. Men with families paid him $1.50 monthly, single men $1.00, which entitled them to medical care and medicine as needed.

A two story school house was built between the two mills for the children of the white community, and a church next to it.​

In 1917-18, Odessa was a rough town with little law and order. Moonshine and narcotics were easy to come by. There were nightly knife fights, and gun fights at least once a week. Many of the mill workers were escaped convicts from North Florida and Georgia. Eighteen men were killed in one two year period. One of these was investigated by the law. The center of all activity, including many of the fights, was the commissary.

By 1917, Dowling Mill was producing 100,000 board feet daily, while Lyon Pines output was 80,000 board feet. One board was reported to be 56” wide! Envision if you can, a tree that could produce such a board!

Trees were cut by loggers, who camped out in the woods. The cut logs were pulled to railheads by mule, where they were loaded onto log cars, that were then pulled by tram, to the mills. The logs were stored in millponds. There they were positioned on a log chain, that pulled them into the mill. Twenty to twenty-five carloads of logs were brought in daily to each mill, by way of their tram network.

There were six boilers at Dowling Mill, five at Lyon Pine, fired by sawdust and pine slabs, by-products of the lumbering operation. These boilers provided the power to run the saws and produce electricity for workers’ homes.

Many of the old homesteads in the area were built with lumber produced at these mills. The old farmhouse at the south end of Lake Pretty was built by Judah Marlow, prior to 1912, with rough sawn cypress boards produced by them. When the land surrounding the house was cleared to set out a citrus grove, later known as Handon Grove, some of the lumber produced from those trees, was used in building the Little Red Schoolhouse in Citrus Park.

During World War I, women were employed by the Dowling Mill, stacking lumber in the yards, and also working in the planing mill.

In 1923, the rural carrier, Lewis Hatton, delivered the mail three times weekly, traveling by horseback. The Postmaster at that time was Edward Roberts, father of Alice Roberts Bareford and Ruth Roberts Phillips.

It was inevitable that the supply of timber would dwindle to the point where it was no longer a profitable operation.

In 1922 Odessa Mill Burns Down; Loss of $250,000

This article appeared in the Tampa Times on Oct. 18, 1922.

Odessa, Fla., Oct. 18—Fire, which is believed to have started from a hot box in the planing mill, practically destroyed the Dowling Brothers’ lumber mill her early this morning. The loss is estimated by officials of the company to be about $250,000, partly covered by insurance. Only the dry kiln and machine shop of the mill escaped the fire. The Dowling Bros. mill was said to have been one of the largest in the state.

The fire, which razed the mill, was discovered by the night watchman about 2:30 o’clock. He gave the alarm and between 300 and 400 men were soon busy trying to check the blaze, which spread so rapidly that within an hour and a half, only smoking ruins, the dry kiln and the machine shop were left to show where the big mill stood.

The rapidity with which the fire spread throughout the mill prevented the volunteer firemen from using to any great advantage the fire fighting equipment scattered throughout the buildings. Bucket brigades and hoses were brought into play, but proved of little use. Approximately 250 men are thrown out of work by the fire. Officials of the company declared they did not know as yet whether the mill would be rebuilt or not.

Some old timers said the fires were not accidental fires, but deliberately set to collect the insurance.  That makes sense, it’s all about the money and control.

With the mills gone, most of the people involved with its operation moved on, leaving the original settlers, and a handful of others who chose to stay and make a new life for themselves in farming and citrus. Thus the boom of the Citrus groves in Odessa.   By the 1930’s the population had dropped to 250 or 300 persons, the nucleus of today’s thriving community.

Generations of families that stayed in Odessa, Florida and Keystone are the “hub” of what we have left of rurality in this beautiful historical area.   Odessa/Keystone has grown to est. 70,000 people in our square mile radius.   It is unfortunate that it is a fight for  today to preserve our history and what we have left, as outliers roll in to erase and to impact our wholesome, clean environment, and agricultural/farming community.   The difference is, we have from years prior and today, too much governed control over our lands while it is not working for us today.   The end result lies in the hands of the people in the community to overcome these impacts as a united front.    Do we claim our sovereignty in order to survive?   May we make history for the future of the children who will continue our legacies of tomorrow.  That is history!

Get involved with KCA


Below is a list of our Committees.  If you are interested to be more involved with KCA, we would love to have your support by joining one of our committees below.

Simply click the link to directly Email the Committee Chair and Co Chair to SIGN UP  or for your inquiries!   It is our goal to make “communications” easy for our members.


Reminder! Next KCA General Meeting will be August 25, 2022 6:30 PM  at the American Legion Post.

Have any questions? Please Email Us!

Thank You to our Keystone Business

Sponsors for their continued support!


Interested in supporting KCA by becoming a Business Sponsor?
Click here for more information!

Key Upcoming Dates

August 8: Planning Commission Hearing, Virtual 5:30 PM

August 11: BOCC Public Hearing, Virtual 6:00 PM

August 17: BOCC Public Hearing in person or Virtual at 9:00 AM  go to this link to register:  Hillsborough County – Board of County Commissioners Meeting (Hybrid)

August 22: Variance Hearing , Van Dyke Rd. for Wine/Beer License   10:00 AM

August 23: EPC will host a virtual community meeting on the ACI Project in LUTZ, that will affect Odessa/Keystone areas  at 6:00 PM.  Sign Up begins AUGUST 16TH go to this link:

August 25: General Membership Meeting Thursday, 6:30pm American Legion (minutes will be provided to membership week prior on Keystone Updates)

September 11:  Keystone FUNdraiser – Keystone Boots Boogie and Brew 2022, 5:00 PM-9:30 PM at Old McMicky’s Farm

Committee Meetings: TBD by Chairs via email / phone

Member Updates

Be sure to keep your information up to date. Visit our member portal to add a spouse, change your address, renew your membership and more!

Have questions on membership? Call our Membership Chair Janise Man-Son-Hing and she will be glad to assist you.