Thursday, March 31, 2011

A familiar voice brings back fond memory

Got a nice surprise phone call the other day.
“WAZZZZZUP?!” went the voice at the other end.
Longtime McKechnie Field fans would recognize him.
It was Kevin Beauregard, whose familiar cry made him a popular beer vendor for many a spring at the ol’ ballpark.
Kevin’s loving life in Spokane, Wash., got a management position with Arby’s, and he and wife Chandra are raising their 1-year-old daughter, Taeryn, and his 13-year-old daughter, Kaila.
He said he misses all his friends and fans at McKechnie.
We miss him, too.

Say it ain’t so! Steve Roe is about to hit the Big 5-0! The milestone lands on the Jupiter Marine lamination manager April 4.
Martha is amused.

Sea Breeze Elementary staffer Simone Perrotta just became a U.S. citizen. More than 500 people from 89 countries joined her. Proud husband Charlie was there, too.

That’s 29 years of wedded bliss for Drs. Suzanne and Tom Wilkinson.

The MSA Heat and Strikers dance teams perform in “Strike up the Heat” 7 p.m. April 7 at MSA. Tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the door.
Call 721-6800.

Siblings Alta Klimmer and Alton Wescott are 77.

Read more in Friday's Vin's People on

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Master Ellis leaves enduring legacy at MSA

Master Ellis.

It is how many students at Manatee School for the Arts referred to Kenneth Ellis.

He taught them world history and Tae Kwon Do.

Taught them about life, too.
Master Ellis.

It speaks of their profound respect and heartfelt admiration for this man, this teacher, this role model.

“I owe almost all I am today to Master Ellis,” junior Taylor Lesoine told The Herald.

Wednesday those two words were spoken in pained disbelief and with an unfathomable sense of loss.

A loss that shook the MSA family to its core and reverberated around our community.

Ellis, 61, was shot and killed answering the door at his home in North Port late Tuesday night.

Police said two unknown subjects in masks and dark clothes ran from the scene and neighbors said a dark sedan fled the neighborhood.

My God.

That this should happen to anyone in the safety of their own home is shocking enough.

That it happened to a man who is beloved and has been described by many as a gentle soul and a great teacher is outrageous.

This is insane.

Read more in Thursday's Mannix About Manatee on To leave a comment or remembrance, click here to go to the Legacy Guest Book.

Monday, March 28, 2011

One final spring training fling at McKechnie

McKechnie's charms lured young and old this spring.

Cheap seats?

Didn't matter.

Sitting in the top row of Section 20 of McKechnie Field's right field aluminum bleachers was a beautiful thing Sunday.

We were there for the Pirates' last Grapefruit League game and it was all that mattered.

Had a game-long breeze behind us and a good game before us.

Our gang included my wife, Sherri, her parents, Sue and Jim, my sister-in-law, Chris, and our niece, Lauren.

Even brought my glove for any potential foul balls, but that breeze kept every fly ball in the field of play.

Saw a lot of friends and familiar faces, too.

Looked like a lot of folks wanted to be there for the Pirates's final exhibition game and cling to spring training just a little bit longer.

That went for those of us who stuck around after the game to watch kids run the bases.

We've got to do this again, my sister-in-law said.

Hello-o-o-o-o, Bradenton Marauders!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pink Palace make-or-break deal for DDA

Stood under the green-and-white canvas awning at the “Pink Palace” the other morning.

Imagined people coming and going, families piling out of vans for a weekend stay, luggage lining the curb at the 10th Street West entrance.

A future 115-room Hampton Inn and Suites?


Sherri and I have stayed at a few in north Florida and Georgia.

Good beds. Great breakfasts.

We’ll have to see what a downtown Hampton has to offer.

If it comes to pass.

That the national hotel chain is a confirmed part of the Downtown Development Authority’s negotiation with Widewaters Group, Inc., the property owners and developers, is progress.

Having an actual name is more than we’ve had before.

Since the Riverpark Hotel & Senior Residence gave way to the Riverpark Grande, it’s been seven years of empty promises and dashed hopes.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee on

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No bestiality? No droopy drawers? We're saved!

All of us should feel so much safer, so much better today as Florida citizens than we did yesterday.

Thanks to two pieces of bold legislation moved to a final vote by the august Florida Senate, our great state is poised to take a giant leap forward.

That body of elected leaders in Tallahassee will be hailed as visionaries.

For outlawing bestiality.

And droopy drawers.

Let the rest of America laugh.

If Floridians can depend on one thing, it's the Legislature to give us comic relief.

Take the Senate's courageous stand against bestiality.

Sex with animals has long been a hot button topic with Florida's citizenry.

It surpasses education, economy and environment in importance.


Sen. Nan Rich has been the vanguard against bestiality, which the Senate has been trying to make illegal for the past three years.

A Democrat, she represents one of Florida's most rural districts --- Weston, a planned community that dates all the way back to 1996.

Weston? Rural? Sure. It borders the Everglades.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, another towering pillar of enlightenment, said she would not want to even speculate why there would be opposition to having sex with animals, a first-degree misdemeanor.

You mean, it's not a hanging offense?

Well then, wearing one's pants at half-mast must qualify.

For a paddling at the very least.
If the Senate has its way, students should not wear clothing which exposes their behinds or their BVDs in

Such was the resolute intent of legislation authored by Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, another paragon of propriety in a town bereft of same.

He termed his bill a "code of student conduct" and a "pro-family, pro-education, pro-jobs" bill.

If you're wondering making it illegal for youths to show their butts or boxers will strike a telling blow for education in Florida or generate more jobs, there's a simple explanation.

It had to be Gov. Rick Scott's idea

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hope we can hear all Chesney songs next concert

I may not be the biggest Kenny Chesney fan around these parts, but I'm up there.

Got his poster in my study.

Got one of his songs for my cell's ring tone.

Got all his CDs.

Sherri and I met Kenny at Dick Vitale's house last year, had our picture taken, and his dad invited us to join them at O'Leary's afterward.

We passed. Didn't want to push our good luck.

I really like his style.

I love his music.

Which is why we were just a little disappointed in last Saturday night's show at RayJay.

The acoustics were bad.

We had no idea what songs Kenny sang at the start of the show and though it improved somewhat as the performance went on, it wasn't as good as we'd hoped.

It's true our seats were in the nosebleed section in the stadium's northeast corner.

But we ran into a couple while shopping Sunday morning --- she wore one of the Goin' Coastal T-shirts --- and they said they couldn't understand the words to many of the song ---

And they had good seats.

As crazy as it seems, the one place I found where you could hear Kenny's songs clearly was from the speakers in the stadium bathrooms!

Still, we had a good time.

I'm glad we went.

Will we go next time Kenny's in town? Probably.

I just want to hear all his songs next concert.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Seniors cling to noble vision: teaching

They want to be teachers.

That’s what the Lakewood Ranch High School seniors said Tuesday morning.

They were undaunted by the uncertainty surrounding public education in this state due to a Florida Legislature so unrelenting in its incomprehensible hostility to teachers.

It didn’t faze the LRHS students.

Teaching is what they plan to do.

These students happen to be Golden Herald candidates and I was among volunteer judges helping conduct mock interviews to prep them for the real thing yesterday at the Bradenton Herald.

Whether I did them any good, they certainly impressed me.

Accomplished academically. Campus leaders. Involved in the community to a greater degree than you can imagine.

The arc of their considerable talents could take them on any number of career paths:



Veterinary medicine.

Yet they were adamant.

They want to pay it forward, using their gifts as teachers as others did for them.
Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee on

Thursday, March 17, 2011

$1 million shot we never got to see

Bobbi and Jimmy Windham show off BB&T's $2,500 check.
How many of us tuned in at halftime of last Friday night’s Duke-Maryland game to watch Bradenton’s Jimmy Windham attempt to sink three baskets for a cool $1 million?

We got shut out because he bricked all three shots from the 3-point arc at the BB&T Million Dollar Bank Shot Challenge at the storied ACC Tournament.

ESPN wasn’t showing that.

“You would’ve heard me yelling all the way from Greensboro, N.C., if I’d won,” Jimmy said. “But they were safe on that bet.”

He still got $2,500 and a whirlwind four-day, all-expenses paid weekend with wife Bobbi.

Jimmy had entered an online contest and was one of 12 names drawn, one for each ACC team.

Along with sons Hunter and Jackson, they’ll be at the ongoing NCAA tournament games in Tampa.

Read more in Friday's Vin' People at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Maury Power's spirit lives on St. Patrick's Day

One of the people whose memories I will toast St. Patrick's Day is Maury Power.
He was a pub owner in Delray Beach, who passed away in 1996.

When I wrote his obituary for the old Boca Raton News, I included the Irish saying, "May you be in Heaven a full half-hour before the Devil knows you're dead."

Maury Power was the leprechaun in our lives, bringing mirth and good deeds to his community, one I was part of for 19 years before moving to Bradenton.

Power's Lounge is gone now, but Maury's legacy lives on.

It is the St. Patrick's Day Parade down Atlantic Avenue now in its 43rd year.

After Maury moved his family from Chicago, he was vexed there was no celebration on March 17 as was the tradition in the Windy City.

South Florida in 1968? Go figure.

So Maury started his own.

After a few rounds with pals at another establishment, so the legend goes, he rose and when his cronies asked where he was headed, he said, "I need a parade," and off he went.

Strutting down Atlantic Avenue, which you could do in those days in broad daylight, Maury was on his merry way when a patrol car pulled up alongside.

"Maury, what do you think you're doing?" a member of Delray's finest asked him.

"I'm having a parade," he said.

It grew from there and I got to march in it, too.

A bar called Jethro's made me up as the Incredible Hulk -- dark wig, green painted skin, torn shirt and jeans -- and I rode atop their float the first couple of years.

Then the bar closed and I figured the Hulk was history.

Maury had other ideas.

"You march up front with us," he said.

I did that for more than a decade, basking in the glorious limelight that kind hearted man shared with us all.

When we crossed the Intracoastal Waterway drawbridge at the parade's start and you saw 30,000 people jammed along Atlantic Avenue as far as you could see, it took your breath away.

That was Maury's magic.

It still exists.

Not just in Delray Beach, but in my heart.

When I met restaurateur Sean Murphy in 1999, we raised a few glasses one Saturday night and from that came the inspiration for our own St. Patrick's Day Parade on Holmes Beach.

Last Sunday was the 13th annual.

Every year during the parade, which has grown thanks to Sean and
Fred Sullivan, I take a few moments to look back, Irish flag in hand, and marvel at all the bands, banners, balloons and floats and people enjoying this spectacle.

I think of Maury Power.

He'd love it.

I'm proud of that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seats in shade? Seats in sun?

This is the tale of two baseball Saturdays.

Two weekends ago, Sherri and I went up to Clearwater's Brighthouse Field to see the Pirates and Phillies.

Last weekend, we went to McKechnie Field with my wife's folks  to see the same teams.

The Pirates won up there; the Phillies down here.

But that's not the story.

When we went to Clearwater, we got seats on the berm, the grassy hill along centerfield, the least expensive tickets available at Bright House which regularly packs in Phillies fans. Grapefruit League games draw around 10,000 there.

We sat on a blanket behind right centerfield --- and got roasted.

It was 80 degrees and despite all the sunscreen we put on, we still went home with sunburns.

I wasn't going to make that mistake again.


So when I called the Pirate ticket office the middle of last week, I requested four tickets under cover for Saturday's home game.

Figured it'd be a good idea to avoid another ballgame in the hot sun.

Turns out that's exactly what we craved come gametime.

The temperature was 68 degrees --- and felt like 58 in the shade behind home plate at McKechnie.

Our seats were excellent, buit it was c-o-o-o-ld.

We made it through the seventh-inning stretch and split.

"Last week I had to go in the shade to get cooled off; this game I had to get in the sun to get warmed up," my wife said.

I'll get it right next game.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Golden Bear, state parks a big giveaway

Out of touch.

Heard that phrase a lot from protestors at the Awake the State rally last Wednesday afternoon on Cortez Road.

They directed it principally at Gov. Rick Scott, but the Florida Legislature got zinged, too.

As the ominous drumbeat continues out of Tallahassee, you have to wonder what they’re thinking up there.

Gutting the pill mill law.

Slashing unemployment benefits.

Cutting corporate taxes already among the nation’s lowest.

Whacking $3 billion from already underfunded education.

Eliminating 8,600 state jobs.

This from a governor whose mantra was: “Job, jobs, jobs.”

I don’t get it.

Nor do I get this:

Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses in five of our state parks.


That’s the goal of bills filed by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, an ideologue of the first order, and Rep. Pat Rooney, R-West Palm Beach.

It calls for Florida’s Division of Recreation and Parks to hire Nicklaus Design to build five courses, one in each region of the state.

The Jupiter resident’s fee is usually $2.5 million, but reportedly he’d charge just $625,000 per course for four and waive the fee for the fifth — Jonathan Dickinson State Park in neighboring Martin County.

Considering the pristine public land involved, it’s hardly a bargain.

It’s a giveaway.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee in

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Busy summer awaits Mustang cheerleader

LRHS cheerleader captain Tiffany Elder made the Universal Cheerleading Association staff after a rigorous Feb. 27 tryout at UCF. She is practicing with UCA staff this month and will be in South Carolina for summer training.The reigning Miss Manatee County Fair Queen, Tiffany will travel to campuses throughout Florida and the Southeast to coach high school girls at their summer camps.

If you spot an elephant lumbering around Holmes Beach Sunday, you’re at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Sean Murphy’s 13th annual zany pageant for people, pachyderms and Ireland’s patron saint proceeds at 4 p.m. from the Wachovia Bank parking lot at 5327 Gulf Drive.
Call Beach Bistro at 778-6444 or Eat Here at 778-0411 for details.

That's Clearwater's Shelly Starks with the color guard, comprised of members from Korean War Veterans Chapter No. 199, moments before she sang our national anthem before at Friday's Pirates game with the Phillies.
Speaking of national anthem singers, the lineup for Pirates games this week at McKechnie Field includes Nicole Wishon Saturday (Phillies), Heather Wainscott on Sunday (Red Sox), Stewart Harris on Wednesday (Blue Jays) and Bonnie Gray on St. Patrick’s Day (Orioles).

Read more in Friday's Vin's People at

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Free speech gets workout on Cortez Road

Larry Grossman lets his feelings show

Our right to free speech got a good workout along the 3600 block of Cortez Road.

“TAKE BACK THE STATE!” Sheryl Jordan cried.


“WHERE ARE THE JOBS?!” Rev. Bill Bailey shouted.


“RECALL SCOTT!” Bob Kaekel yelled.


The Awake the State rally almost turned out like a call and response session Tuesday afternoon.

Brandishing placards bearing angry messages in big bold letters for the Florida Legislature, 50 protestors drew plenty of long and loud reaction from motorists on the busy artery.

There were honking horns aplenty.

The rally was organized by the Manatee County Democratic Party, but there had to be plenty of Republicans driving those pickup trucks and SUVs.
Read more in Wednesday's Mannix About Manatee in

Monday, March 7, 2011

These garbagemen hit ground running

Willie "Pop"Brown, Waymon Bowden Sr., and Felton Miller worked hard, fast
I always wondered how long a day garbagemen had.

Not so long afterall, if they can help it.

They just work fast. Real fast.

Waymon Bowden Sr., newly retired from the City of Bradenton after 34 years, said he and his crew would be on the road by 5:30 a.m. and often be done with their route by 9:30 a.m.

Sometimes 8:30 a.m.

They hit it hard each of their four 10-hour days.

"We could've stretched it out until 3:30 p.m., but we got after it," the 61-year-old Bradenton native said. "It doesn't matter whether you get the job done in 10 hours or five. Just so long as you do the job. The money is the same."

But they worked for it.

Oh, yeah.

"Whether someone set out two garbage cans or 10. We emptied them all," Bowden said. "We ran."

Friday, March 4, 2011

No more Fisherman Joe's? Say it isn't so

Say it isn’t so.

Fisherman Joe’s is closing its doors by May 1 because its lease is not being renewed by the landlord?


After years in the doldrums, Old Main Street seems to be on the cusp of revitalization and one of its mainstays isn’t going to be part of it?

There’s something wrong with that picture.

Fisherman Joe’s is Old Main Street.

That Bradenton city leaders are encouraged by the changes happening downtown is all well and good.

But at what cost?

Losing one of downtown’s landmarks is not what I call progress.

Nor is losing a good man who was loyal to that same vision, pouring everything he had into his restaurant to reach it.

Joe McDonald is Bradenton.

Earnest, friendly, hard working, a big-hearted restaurateur who always made you feel welcome.

It was one of my favorite stops.

We’d go into Fisherman Joe’s, sit at the bar, shoot the breeze with friends and watch a Rays’ game on TV.

Joe McDonald gave back, too.

Two weeks ago there was a big benefit bash up the street at The Lost Kangaroo for 2-year-old Jake Kerrigan, whose dad Bill has been incapacitated by a severe stroke.

McDonald cooked and donated food for the event.

On a Sunday.

His day off.

It appears McDonald will have a lot of time off beginning May 1.
Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Whirlwind week awaits MHS junior soprano

Joy Lakin
Next week’s spring break promises to be a real whirlwind for Joy Lakin.
The MHS junior and first soprano sings our national anthem before Monday’s Rays-Pirates 1:05 p.m. game at McKechnie Field.
Then Joy and mom Joanne are off to Chicago for four days so she can sing with the American Choral Directors Association’s National Women’s Honor Choir at Roosevelt University.

That’s 53 years of wedded bliss for Sue and Jim Manring, who turns 73 years young.

Got someone in college playing a sport?
Sports Editor Timothy Wolfrum wants it for Campus Connection, a new Herald feature about our county’s athletes.
E-mail details to
Or call Tim at 745-7052.

Read more Friday in Vin's People.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Two words for plebe to remember: Beat Army!

What didn't matter in your choice of college? I asked Alec Bacon.

A party school atmosphere, the Lakewood Ranch High School senior said.

Good thing.

The Naval Academy is definitely not that.

"Yes," the 17-year-old said. "But I've heard they know how to have a good time."

Given the academic and physically rigorous culture at Annapolis, I would hope so.

Bacon will find out soon enough when he reports in June, one of 1,200 plebes.

I wondered what other qualities his peers looked for when considering what institution of higher learning to attend, besides its social status?

Football, he said.

What kind of football team a university had made a difference.


Well, I said, Navy has a pretty good one.

Bacon smiled.

"Beat Army nine years straight," he said.

A talented swimmer for the Mustangs, Bacon wants to play for Navy's water polo team.

Having seen the blood and bruises that's part of the sport, good luck to him.

Especially against Army.