Sundance makes first Gainesville Appearance with author Shelly Mickle

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Courtesy of Tioga Town Center

Sundance, the miniature horse that is a character in the just-released novel, JASON AND ELIHU, A FISHERMAN\’S STORY,
by Shelley Fraser Mickle, will be making his first Gainesville public appearance at the town square in Tioga Town Center Saturday, May 15th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sundance was trained to fulfill his role in the novel by learning to smile on cue and count out how many peppermints he wants.

JASON AND ELIHU is a children\’s novel set at our beloved Cross Creek in the literary tradition of THE YEARLING. It features an 11-year-old boy dream-bitten with the desire to catch Elihu, the legendary bass. Two foster children join the hunt and a young girl, named Jazel, who has to revise her dream of becoming an ice skater when a brain tumor robs her balance.

Whenever Elihu is caught, the mighty fish whispers a secret. That is, if Elihu is ever caught, since Old Snout, the gator, tends to rise out of the water and snap the line whenever Elihu is hooked. So when you learn the secret, you must keep it!

JASON AND ELIHU is a fundraiser for foster care with its focus on prevention. The novel is perfect for families to read together. Lynn McNeill, elementary school principal, says, \”This book needs to be in the hands of children.\”

Shelley will also be signing 101 DOG STREET, THE STORY OF AMOS, THE BUMMED-OUT CANINE, a chapter book for second grade that is a fundraiser for the Ferrero Children\’s Hospital Foundation.
Come meet Shelley and Sundance. Also Magic, the miniature horse, recently voted \”The Most Heroic Pet in America,\” will be there.

Both JASON AND ELIHU, $15 and 101 DOG STREET, $12, are published by Wild Onion Press, Books Starring Kids with Physical Differences with a portion of each books\’ proceeds going to its nonprofit partner.

By Shelley Frasier Mickle
10:27 am, April 22, 2010

Debbie Garcie-Bengochea

Tioga Jazzfest

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Courtesy of Tioga Town Center


Press Release

Gainesville, Florida
March 22, 2010

The inaugural TIOGA JAZZFEST will be held Sunday, November 14th, 2010 in the new Town Square at the award-winning Tioga Town Center! The event will feature National Recording Artist and jazz guitarist, Nate Najar, and will be headlined by smooth jazz superstar and saxophonist, Jessy J.

True Love. With these two perfectly chosen words, Jessy J has, in unveiling the title of her second Peak Records release, captured the blazing emotions of her legions of fans across the U.S. and Latin America who made her the breakout genre star of 2008.

With her sizzling mix of hot beats, Latin and samba rhythms, instantly captivating melodies and model looks, this Mexican American saxophonist/singer proved quite the sensation with her debut CD Tequila Moon–earning her such accolades as Radio and Records Debut Artist of The Year and contemporary jazz song of the year by R&R and Billboard for the title track, which stayed perched at #1 for an incredible eight weeks. Adding to this multi-talented rising star was her cover story in Jazziz Magazine, features in People Espanol, and JazzTimes, to name a few, plus numerous television appearances and radio interviews.

Jessy has also been making urban jazz fans across the U.S. dance up a storm these past two years as a featured performer with genre greats Gerald Albright, Peter White, Jeff Lorber, Euge Groove and Jeff Golub on the popular 2008-2009 editions of the all-star Guitars and Saxes tours. She has also headlined with her own band several times at the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival and at such events as the City of Lights Jazz and Rhythm & Blues Festival in Las Vegas and the 98.1 Anniversary Gaslamp Festival in San Diego. This burgeoning slate of shows complements her extensive schedule in the pop and Latin music worlds, where she continues to tour as saxophonist and backing vocalist for pop great Michael Bolton and has played extensively with two of Mexicos most popular artists, Gloria Trevi (aka The Madonna of Mexico) and Armando Manzanero (whom Jessy calls the Mancini of Mexico).

[Quote] After the success of Tequila Moon, it was inevitable that many fans would ask me, ok, so what is next? Where do you go from number 1?[End quote] says Jessy. [quote] But I never really worried about that pressure because I knew my approach would be to simply dig deeper into my essence as a person, songwriter and musician. My goal was to convey my True Love by putting 100 percent of my heart and soul into every note, every session and every song. As the journey of this new album unfolded, I discovered something amazing, a little secret I will now share: after all this romantic searching, I realize now that my True Love is actually my lifelong passion for music. Its a joy and an honor to have the opportunity to share more and more of this with the world as the years unfold. [end quote] For more information on Jessy, go to:

Ticket and Sponsorship information will be made available shortly.

For more information on the TIOGA JAZZFEST please contact Mark Nordman at 352-339-3285.

Producer Charitable Partner
Mark C. Nordman Catholic Charities
President, M&H Productions Gainesville, Florida
Gainesville, Florida Steve Henneka
352-339-3285 352-372-0294 x 18

By Mark Nordman

3:26 pm, March 24, 2010


Town of Tioga Ready to Go the Distance

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Courtesy of Tioga Town Center

The community of Town of Tioga will immerse itself in a benefit on Saturday.

The community just east of Jonesville on Newberry Road will host the inaugural “Run for Haven” to benefit Haven Hospice. The run will weave through the neighborhood and the paths surrounding it.

But this benefit features much than a 5K and 10K run.

Tioga residents will be competing in a contest to see who can decorate their lawn and balcony the best during the run. And after the run, an outdoor party will commence at Tioga Town Center, featuring the Rick Gordon Band, booths from the Town Center stores and catering from Adam’s Rib Company, Domino’s Pizza and Burkhardt Distributing. Registration for the “Run for Haven” starts at 2 p.m., and the run will begin at 4:30.

Catering and entertainment at the block party have all been donated, which means 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Haven Hospice and its many programs.

“We are very pleased at the turnout this far and grateful for the support from the community,” said Jenni Williams, communications coordinator for Haven Hospice.

According to Williams, about 250 people have signed up for the run so far, but she expects 600 people to show up Saturday.

It’s not just residents of Town of Tioga who have signed up to run, but also people with connections to the University of Florida, local public schools, running groups like the Gainesville Track Club and other members of the community.

Williams said the run is a first for Haven Hospice. “It’s targeting a new audience,” she said.

Grace Lambert-Horvath, director of marketing and leasing at the Tioga Town Center, said Saturday’s festivities “made perfect sense for everyone. We get to play up on the design and location of the new town square at the gateway to Town of Tioga.”

Tickets for just the outdoor party cost $15. For those who want to run in the event, the cost is $45, which includes a T-shirt, food and drink and attendance at the party, according to Williams. While online registration ended on Wednesday, people can still sign up to run Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.

For more information about the event, go to

By Gainesville Sun
5:36 pm, March 19, 2010

Sarah Clark

Tioga Town Center Welcomes Blue Highway Pizza

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Courtesy of The Gainesville Sun

Funky pizza place opening in Tioga

After celebrating a successful five years in Micanopy, Blue Highway Pizza will join the likes of Nature’s Table, Flour Pot Bakery, Dionysus Wine Bar, Northwest Seafood and Peterbrooke Chocolatier in the Tioga Town Center on Newberry Road.

Blue Highway, known for its fun, funky atmosphere and specialty pizzas, is expanding to its second location, which chef and owner Frank Ruffino hopes to open sometime in June.

“We get people from Alachua and from The Villages that make the drive to our restaurant,” Ruffino said.

The new location, which replaces Cucina Mia, a former gourmet cooking shop, will still maintain the family, hometown environment while enhancing the kitchen and menu.

Lee Deaderick, owner of the Northwest Seafood fish market in Tioga, said he his excited to have a new addition.

“It’s always good to have successful businesses around you,” Deaderick said. “They are good local business people, and most of the businesses here are local people.”

The 2,300-square-foot space – 1,200 more square feet than the location in Micanopy – will have more seating, between 75 to 80 instead of seating for only 37, and will have new equipment so Ruffino can also expand the menu.

“We are getting a fryer, so we will be able to offer things like fried calamari and wings,” he said.

The revamped menu also will include lasagna, pastas and piadines, a traditional Italian flatbread, which Ruffino said is one of the more popular items at his Micanopy location.

“It’s like a sandwich, salad and pizza all rolled into one,” he said.

Even during an economic recession, Ruffino is confident Blue Highway’s second location will attract new customers as well as maintaining its regulars.

“It’s a concern opening another place, but I can’t let that dictate what’s going on,” he said. “We are still going strong, and people enjoy the type of food and atmosphere we offer.”

Ruffino, a native of Chicago, got his start in the restaurant business when he bought his first restaurant in Sarasota at age 27. It was there that he met his wife, Winny. The couple was known as “Pop and Mom” to customers.

In 1978, he and Winny opened a seafood restaurant in Siesta Key.

After moving to Gainesville, where Ruffino was the executive chef at the University of Florida, in the late 1980s, the next stop was Pittsburgh in 1994, then corporate executive chef at Sedhexo and finally back to Gainesville.

“We love this area,” he said. “Then we found this beat-up, little place.”

That beat-up, little place was the former Witts Inn, 12 miles south of Gainesville on U.S. 441.

Ruffino bought the building, gutted it and in 2004 started Blue Highway Pizza, a family-run business with Winny, his son and daughter.

Blue Highway celebrated its fifth anniversary April 6.

Ruffino has won numerous awards, such as the Top 50 Research and Development Culinarians in the U.S.A. in 2003, the Menu Master’s Award in 2003 and Gainesville’s Fresh Food Challenge in 2007.

With Blue Highway, “I wanted something casual that people enjoy and eat all the time,” Ruffino said. “To be able to create a good pizza, that’s a beautiful thing.”

Ruffino said he only uses local fresh and organic ingredients and takes pride in making affordable dishes from scratch.

“We try to make all of our stuff in-house and just try to keep our service as friendly and efficient as it is now,” Ruffino said. “We try to create good food at a good value.”

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

By The Gainesville Sun
Hayley Mathis, Brian W. Kratzer/Staff photographer
5:13 pm, April 13, 2009

Media Contact: Frankel Media Group 352-331-5558

Tioga Center Breaks Ground

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Courtesy of The Gainesville Sun

The Tioga Town Center officially broke ground Tuesday on a 90,000-square-foot expansion with retail space and apartments that will more than double the development’s existing space.

The next two buildings will be behind the current retail and office space that opened about a year ago. They will include 30,000 square feet of retail on the ground floors and 40 apartments on the second and third floors.
The development is focusing on bringing in more restaurants, women’s apparel and accessories, and more services, according to Grace Lambert, director of marketing and leasing.

Completion is expected in the fall or winter of 2008-09.
The apartments will include one-, two- and three-bed and bath from 900 to 2,500 square feet. Prices are yet to be determined, Lambert said.
The existing town center includes 83,000 square feet of retail and office space, with the two center buildings housing retail on the ground floor and offices on the second floor, a Millennium Bank/office building and a day-care building.

The retail mix includes higher-end shops offering bath and kitchen accessories, furniture, books, a hair salon, cafe and specialty food and wine shops. The center also includes a 25,000-square-foot Gainesville Health and Fitness Center.

A seafood restaurant, Ocean’s Restaurant, will be opening in the spring, leaving one suite of retail unoccupied, Lambert said.
Steve Williams, of Tapas 12 West downtown, is opening the restaurant. He said it will be family friendly.

The first phase is nearly 90 percent full, with most of the vacancies in the office space, Lambert said.
With Gainesville’s western expansion, Lambert said the vision is for the center to be at the heart of west Gainesville, a place where people come to take care of daily business or just relax.

Brent Christensen, president of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, said this is the sort of development the county will love.
“Certainly, we have a developer here who does things right, uses all local labor, contractors, engineers and turns out a product that is, I think, superior to anything I’ve seen anywhere in the country and probably internationally as well,” he said.

Developer Luis Diaz said the goal is to make the town center a destination people want to come to. “We’ve got more things to come.”
Future plans call for another three-story office/apartment building and possibly a bed and breakfast/spa in about two years.
Charles Perry Construction is the general contractor on the expansion, with Ponikvar & Associates the architect and Brown & Cullen Inc. the civil engineer.

Anthony Clark can be reached at 352-374-5094 or

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

By The Gainesville Sun
Anthony Clark
12:28 pm, November 07, 2007

Media Contact: Frankel Media Group 352-331-5558