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News-Gazette Photo/Marc Clery
Circuit Judge Keith A. Carsten, center, poses with Benjamin and Annie Hill, and their adopted children, Camden Doval, Arabella Doval, Aubrielle Doval and Jayden Cruz on National Adoption Day at the Osceola Courthouse 
on Friday.

Area foster children find ‘forever homes’ on National Adoption Day

Posted on November 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm

By Charlie Reed Staff Writer With the adoption of 8-month old Camden on Friday, Annie and Benjamin Hill now officially have four children. Actually, they are the couple’s grandchildren. The kids are all under the age of 5, which blurs the lines when it comes to things like how they address the couple. Mom and dad? Grandma and grandpa? “They usually just call me ‘Ma’ – it’s kind of a

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  • Eat vegan at Chipotle with new Sofritas, plus dining out Thanksgiving Day

    Posted on November 20, 2014 at 3:21 pm

        By Peter Covino A&E Editor I had to drive some 700 miles to try my first Chipotle Sofritas burrito. Of course, they are available right here in Kissimmee and elsewhere in Central Florida, but the Chipotle folks had supplied me with a couple of “try me” coupons for their newest vegan offering and I just happened to be in Tennessee last week when hunger called. I guess the

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  • Get a jump on the season with Omni “Spa-lidays”

    Posted on November 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    By Charlie Reed Staff Writer A little indulgence never hurt anyone, right? With the holidays just around the corner, taking time to take care of yourself and others could be just the ticket to enjoying the season. If you’re looking for relaxation, a little pampering and chance to get away from it all for a few hours, stop by Mokara Spa at the Omni Orlando at Champions Gate Thursday for

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Travel

Where there’s smoke, there was a lot of fire. Fire and gasoline do mix in this week’s tech column

Posted on November 13, 2014 at 11:38 am

          By Peter Covino A&E Editor Technically, this is the semi-regular tech/Internet column, but before we get to that, just had to shout out a few paragraphs to the awesome bonfire over the weekend in west Kissimmee as part of Britweek. Several guys, as in Guy Fawkes were sacrificed to the blazing inferno, including a Homer Simpson “guy.” There also was lots of Brit food, music

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  • The Hunger grows. Lionsgate announces Hunger Games coming to the stage in 2016

    Posted on November 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Continuing the expansion of its global blockbuster Hunger Games franchise into new businesses, Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a premier next generation global content leader, is teaming with Dutch media company Imagine Nation and U.S. based Triangular Entertainment to bring The Hunger Games to the stage using innovative and immersive staging techniques, the companies announced today. The Hunger Games theatrical experience will launch in summer 2016 in a brand new purpose-built theater

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  • Get out your wands. Harry Potter special event is returning to Universal Orlando

    Posted on November 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm

        There is more magic in the air at Universal Orlando. The theme park resort and and Warner  Bros. announced today  that Harry Potter film talent Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Evanna Lynch are slated to appear at the second “A Celebration of Harry Potter” coming to Orlando in January. The special event allows fans to celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books

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Education

Velez

Former high school band director arrested, accused of sex with students

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 2:28 pm

By Ken Jackson Staff Writer The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office arrested the former band director at Poinciana High School Tuesday after authorities said he had inappropriate sexual relations with at least two high school students. Steven Velez, who resigned his teaching post last week after being questioned by Osceola County School District officials about the accusations, was charged with two counts of unlawful sexual contact with certain minors. Velez, 25,

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  • Mavericks school provides holiday meal for students, homeless

    Posted on November 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    News-Gazette Photo/Marc Clery
Students from Maverick High School get their Thanksgiving lunch in Kissimmee on Nov. 21.

    By Ken Jackson Staff Writer Instead of counting their money to put on their annual Thanksgiving celebration for its students, officials at Mavericks High School in downtown Kissimmee were able to sit back this year and count their blessings. The school has held a feast on Nov. 20 for its 550 students, who need extra or non-alternative assistance in gaining a diploma, since the school opened on Main Street in

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  • School District earns $2M STEM grant

    Posted on November 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    By Ken Jackson Staff Writer The Osceola County School District has made its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum a point of emphasis. Thanks to a $2.27 million grant from the Florida Department of Education, it can put teachers and students in a better position to teach and learn it. The amount, spread over three years, will be spent in part on training for science teachers that the teachers

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Religion

Evening of Praise events reaches ninth year

Posted on May 28, 2014 at 1:12 pm

By Tiffanie Reynolds Staff Writer Evangelist Rupert Henry, along with several local churches and foster care organizations, held an Evening of Praise recently to promote the awareness of foster youth in Osceola County. It was the ninth year that Henry has organized this event, not only to raise money for foster youth, but also to encourage communication between the churches and organizations that are working for foster youth in the

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  • Kissimmee pastor joins march to push immigration reform in D.C.

    Posted on May 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    By Tiffanie Reynolds Staff Writer Rev. Javier Figueroa, of Centro de la Familia Cristiana de Poinciana in Kissimmee, believes that immigration law should be enforced, but not at the expense of separating families. That’s why he, as well as religious leaders across the country, have joined the march to Washington, D.C. to urge progress on current immigration reform.  Figueroa, who is on the board of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition,

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  • St. Cloud church celebrates 25 years of worship

    Posted on August 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    By Tiffanie Reynolds Staff Writer Transforming from four families holding church services in schools around St. Cloud to a few thousand families, Cornerstone Family Church marked its 25th year in St. Cloud with a celebration that began Aug. 25. Nathan and Trish Blackwell, the church’s founders and leaders, said that, over the years, the church has changed in size and population, but its focus  has stayed the same. Cornerstone Family

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Health

Get a jump on the season with Omni “Spa-lidays”

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm

By Charlie Reed Staff Writer A little indulgence never hurt anyone, right? With the holidays just around the corner, taking time to take care of yourself and others could be just the ticket to enjoying the season. If you’re looking for relaxation, a little pampering and chance to get away from it all for a few hours, stop by Mokara Spa at the Omni Orlando at Champions Gate Thursday for

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  • World Vasectomy Day held in the city of Kissimmee

    Posted on November 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

    News-Gazette Photo/Charlie Reed
Dr. Doug Stein, a Tampa-based urologist, performs a vasectomy on Friday  at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Kissimmee for World Vasectomy Day 2014.

    By Charlie Reed Staff Writer Nearly 400 doctors in 33 countries performed roughly 1,500 vasectomies on Friday – 28 of them in Kissimmee, headquarters for World Vasectomy Day 2014. Now in its second year, the event aims to raise awareness about the benefits of vasectomy and the role of men in family planning and reproductive health. “World Vasectomy Day is not just about how many vasectomies are completed, but how

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  • Osceola County Grown brings local food from the farm to your table

    Posted on October 29, 2014 at 11:55 am

    By Charlie Reed Staff Writer Nancy Pratt is trying to start a food revolution, of sorts, with Osceola County Grown. The organization’s mission is to provide the community with locally grown fruits, vegetables and other agricultural goods – from the grass-fed beef she and her husband raise to orange blossom honey harvested at local apiaries. This weekend’s Fall Farm Festival in St. Cloud marked the first anniversary of the Saturday

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