Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cut football schedules? Yeah, right

Why didn't they cut back on high school football?

That's the buzz I'm getting in the wake of the Florida High School Athletic Association's vote Monday to reduce game schedules for its membership's athletic departments by 20 percent the next two years.

Other big spectator sports like basketball and baseball go from 25 games to 20.

Wrestling goes from 18 matches to 15.

Other sports have been similarly affected.

So why not football?


Football is the revenue engine for the athletic programs at most high schools.

It's also a dependable revenue stream for the FHSAA, which never, ever misses a chance to get its cut of the gate.

You think they get it from tennis, golf and cross country?

Football is king.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Palmetto Gun Show ought to be busy

Think I know one place that’s having more business than usual this weekend.

The Palmetto Gun Show at the Manatee Civic and Convention Center.

Given the shocking succession of violent home invasions people in our community have been subjected to recently, I can’t blame them.

Ten attacks in Manatee and Sarasota.

All during daylight hours.

One against an 84-year-old woman, bound and pistol whipped last month in northwest Bradenton.

The most recent, an older couple on Riverview Boulevard brutally beaten last Monday.

It’s got usually tranquil neighborhoods on edge.

Whether it’s a single perpetrator or several, local law enforcement has yet to get the drop on them.

Even the FBI’s gotten involved.

Meanwhile, folks are wondering, who’s next?

Read more in Mannix About Manatee in Sunday's Herald and Bradenton.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Toby will be star of parade party


There's a parade party Saturday at the house where Toby lives, and it's a good bet he'll be among the topics of lively conversation.

Even if he doesn't realize it.

Toby is a frolicsome German short haired pointer who belongs to neighbors Lynn and Steve Carlsen.

Nary a morning goes by on my way to work I don't stop and pet him.

Well, not long ago there was no sign of the pooch for several days in a row.

Turns out Toby was in the doggie slammer.

It seems there was a new FPL meter reader who, unlike his predecessor, was unfamiliar with Toby. When he leaned over the back fence, the dog jumped up and got him.

The FPL guy's report said it was a bite; the owners said it was a scratch.

Either way, when animal control did their follow up, it was discovered Toby was behind in his shots.

So off he went to the doggie slammer for 11 days.

They even took his mug shot.

Paw prints, too?

"I went to see him, and he looked so sad," said Steve, who was none too pleased with himself.

By the time Toby got squared away on the shots and everything, his owner ponied up almost $400.

But all is well at the Carlsen homestead once more.

Toby's back running around, and he'll get all kinds of attention Saturday.

"He's a lover, not a biter," Lynn said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

First parade chairs already up

This had to be a first.

Drove along Manatee Avenue West at lunchtime and what did I see?

Two chairs!

So what, you say?

With the annual DeSoto Heritage Festival Parade coming up Saturday, it is customary for folks to begin lining the parade route with their chairs, staking out viewing places a few days ahead of time.

Chairs usually start showing up Wednesday.

This was Monday!

One chair was plastic, the other an old fashioned dining room number, both in front of DeSoto Plaza on the 3200 block along the south side of busy Manatee Avenue West.

I checked with Jane Simpson, the proprietor of Scissors who always hosts a big party, and she said the chairs weren't hers.

"We'll start setting up Wednesday or Thursday," she said.

They didn't belong to Lyn Lineberger of The Memory Maker.

"I'll block off our corner Tuesday," she said.

Folks over at Carrie Bendixon's BouTiki didn't know whose chairs they were, either.

"Somebody's got them out already?" one said. "Wow!"

A good omen.

Parade day is near

Friday, April 17, 2009

What's with MCC name change?

State College of Florida.

Say what?

Count me among those unimpressed by the newfangled name for Manatee Community College.

Good grief.

I understand the impetus for change because of the college’s evolving mission regionally. Witness the ramping up of its nursing program, and its designation as a state college.

So maybe good ol’ MCC didn’t carry the same cachet on a student’s resume anymore.

But State College of Florida?


Read more in Mannix About Manatee in Sunday's Herald and www.bradenton.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Long time 'Voice of Summer' is silent

The snapshot is from the Mayor's Box at McKechnie Field a few years ago when the Phillies were in town.

The visiting team's radio booth is next door and when he came out between innings I introduced myself and asked if he'd mind having a picture taken with me.

It was Harry Kalas.

"The Voice of Summer," I said, giving the longtime Phillies announcer an appreciative hug.

His passing Monday at 73 saddened millions in baseball and spurred so many memories.

Mine are of summer vacations in South Jersey where the family's lived for 40 years.

Going to Phillies games at the Vet. July 4th fireworks. The whole brood getting in for cheap. Soft pretzels a buck a bag.

Harry Kalas's sweet-sounding voice conjured up all of that.

Especially summers at the beach house my brothers, Jimmy and Joey, have rented forever in Surf City, N.J. Evenings on the deck listening to the ocean waves and the Phillies at twilight.

I was thinking of that when Jimmy called Monday.

You hear about Harry Kalas? he asked.

Yes, I said. Where are you?

His answer made me smile.

They were on the deck at the beach house.

Jimmy and Joey had driven to Surf City Monday to put a deposit on the place for mid-July and swung by the beach house when someone texted them about Kalas's death.

So they were feeling it, too.

Our "Voice of Summer" is silent.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fun and games with the phone company

Our phone companies' latest legislative gambit to bring us better service and competitive rates makes me laugh.

It also recalled this story.

My phone company returned my check for Febuary's bill.

The check's routing number is missing, the accompanying letter said.

Strange, but that line of numbers on the check's lower left corner sure looked like routing numbers to me.

I showed it to my bank rep, who called the phone company and said, folks, this check is good.

Well, the phone company rep said, they had just gone to a new billing system and were experiencing some problems.

They apologized for any inconvenience and waived the late fee.

But I could pay the bill over the phone --- for a $5 charge.

Nuts to that. I told them I'd mail it like I always do.

It gets better.

The phone company called me the next day. A different rep wanted to know why my February payment was late.

I lost it.

They return my good check and then have the audacity to ask why my payment is late!

What is wrong with that picture?

I received more apologies and promises this aggravation would not happen again, and please don't switch to another phone company.

But I could pay the bill over the phone --- without the $5 charge.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Children's Parade lives up to tradition

Loud sirens from fire trucks and police cars.

Folks flanking 10th Avenue West in Palmetto, craning their necks as they watched the excitement unfold near Sutton Park.

Why all the fuss?

The 2009 DeSoto Children's Parade on Good Friday.

Any apprehension parade chairman John De Lesline had about spring break hurting participation in the annual event passed.

Though the crowds may have been down a bit, the morning parade lived up to tradition and this year's theme: "Red, White and Blue. What Does It Mean To You?"

Gene Witt Elementary's float, which included a moving bald eagle replica as well as a moving replica of the school's flag-waving namesake -- wait, that actually was ol' Gene! -- won Best Use of Theme and the $1,000 from Bradenton Kiwanis that goes with it.

Wakeland Elementary's float won Most Imaginative; Stewart Elementary, Most Colorful; Bayshore Elementary's 50's shtick boppers, Most Crowd Pleasing; and Daughtrey Elementary's red, white and blue brigade, the School Spirit Award for the non-float entries.

Bradenton Twirling won Best Twirling Performance; Dynasty Dance, Best Cheerleading Team Performance; and Tara Elementary, Best Dance Team Performance.

Palmetto High's cheerleaders and softball team marched proudly, too. So did Harllee Middle's drumline and McNeal Elementary's float.

Parade judges included Pam Behr, Jay Burnell, Andy Minor and Melissa Trippi.

Visit http://www.desotohq.com/ for more on the DeSoto Heritage Festival.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Principals purge gives others pause

Bumped into a friend, a young assistant principal out on spring break.

Couple of high school openings coming up, I kidded.

Nooooo thanks, he said. I like the job I've got.

It's low profile, he added. Less of a target.

Which is probably what other assistant principals around the county are thinking after the shock wave from this week's purge, effective at the end of the school year.

Southeast High's Mike Horne. Out.
Palmetto High's Debbie Valcarel . Out.
Buffalo Creek Middle's Scott Cooper. Out.
Time for a change, Superintendent Tim McGonegal said.

How widespread a change is what educators have to be asking themselves, as the suits at the Manatee School District unsheathe their long knives.

Not a comforting thing to ponder on spring break.

You can have those two high school principal jobs, my friend said.

But his sympathy for the outgoing occupants only went so far.

You watch, he said. They'll end up with jobs downtown.

---Vin Mannix

Monday, April 6, 2009

Seafood Festival draws monster turnout

Even from my waterlogged vantage point in the United Way dunk tank Saturday, it was easy to see the annual DeSoto Seafood Festival was a monster event.

All those people!

"The crowds were huge," said Dave Quaderer, who has co-chaired the event the last 17 years with Rob Bell. He estimated the record turnout for the three-day bash between 40,000 to 50,000.

It seemed like that many on Saturday alone. Old Main Street and Barcarrota Boulevard were jammed.
One Night Rodeo and Tracy Byrd (see photo) were big reasons why Saturday night.

Same with Syesha and Cas Haley on Friday night.

Got to give props, as well, to Big Daddy, The Bone Shakers, Big Z Band, Dr. Dave Band and Kettle of Fish, who kept the crowds entertained at the west and south stages over the weekend.

"The free entertainment is what brings them," said Joe Miller, the outgoing Hernando DeSoto.

Folks definitely said to heck with the flagging economy for a few days.

Hopefully, the Old Main Street merchants got a shot in the arm, too, having worked out an agreement with Quaderer's committee to put up a stage at the south end of Old Main Street.

"People are tired of all the gloom and doom," said Kevin Taylor, a past Hernando DeSoto. "They just want to get out and enjoy themselves."

Visit http://www.desotohq.com/ for more on the DeSoto Heritage Festival.
-- Vin

Friday, April 3, 2009

Getting psyched for United Way dunk tank

"You are SOOOOO going down."

Such was the sweet text from my girlfriend Sherri Manring's niece, Lauren Pierce, upon hearing I was going to be a participant in the United Way dunk tank organized by Marcus Francis of Manatee County's Parks & Recreation Department.

It's today through Sunday at the DeSoto Seafood Festival.

You can check out the schedule of dunkees at www.quickscores.com/manatee, including 'CTQ's Rafferty, a new addition on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Visit http://www.1065ctq.com/

Anyway, I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person, even if it's on me.

What's really amusing is the reaction of my girlfriend's family at the opportunity to dunk my skinny Irish behind for a good cause.

Want to gauge how other people really feel about you?

Volunteer for a dunk tank.

Team Manring cut out my picture from the Herald, taped it to a wall and began firing away. They missed a lot.

Yet they're determined, all right.

Sherri's parents, Sue and Jim, even put off their periodic junket to Biloxi, Miss., to have a crack at yours truly.

Sherri got me water wings.

Her sister, Chris, is having her taxes worked on Saturday. But she's going to ask CPA Carol Foster to speed it up a little for my 3 p.m. turn in the tank.

"I cannot miss the chance to dunk your sorry butt," Chris said.

Bring it on, rag arm.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ol' dog enters blogosphere

Who says you can't teach an ol' dog new tricks?

Yours truly, who hits the Big 6-0 in October, is about to begin a blog after 37 years in this business.

Mannix on Manatee will delve into things having to do with daily life here.

Like my favorite neighborhood pooch going to the doggie slammer.

A recent fight with my cellphone company.

Or something of interest you want to share with me.

Readers have been an invaluable source during my 11 years with the Bradenton Herald and I want that to continue in the blogosphere.

I plan to blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting tomorrow.

See you then.