Saturday, April 30, 2011

Are tornadoes an omen for hurricane season?

Destroyed homes.

Decimated towns.

Dazed survivors carrying everything that’s left of their earthly possessions in plastic garbage bags or bed sheets slung over their shoulders.

The images of the devastation in our neighboring states and across other parts of the South are hard to shake.

The death toll of nearly 300 — more than 200 in Alabama alone — is distressing.

It’s like a war zone.

If that doesn’t give you pause, nothing will.

It also raises this troubling question:

Is that us next?

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Southeast benefit golf tourney at Tara May 14

Paul Maechtle is looking for a few good golfers

Southeast’s 23rd annual benefit golf tournament is May 14 at Preseve at Tara.
AD and football coach Paul Maechtle seeks sponsors and players.
Call 741-3366, ext. 2194.

There’s going to be a good time for a good cause 1-8 p.m. Sunday at Mattison’s Riverside, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton.
They’re hosting a benefit concert for Michelle Bell-Nichols, a restaurant manager and mother of three, who suffered a stroke Jan. 17, was hospitalized for a month, has no health insurance and faces a ton of medical bills.
Groups performing are the Billy Rice Band, Shotgun Justice, The Arch, Shineola and Messenger.
There will be a live auction, raffles, dunk tank, boat rides, food and drink specials and Mattison’s Riverside’s first Waiters Cup.
Call Diane Walsh at 776-5843 or email:

Pat Geyer
Remember Pat Geyer Sunday, the first anniversary of “Miss Duffy’s” passing.

MHS alum Kendall Williamson graduated summa cum laude from UF’s school of nursing. Parents Marla and Buddy, sister Kallin and grandma Joyce Williamson are proud.

J oey Thomas got that shiner on his left eye in a manner unusual even for a rough-and-tumble Miller Elementary third-grader.
“I got in a fight a with a footstool and the footstool won,” said the 8-year-old G.T. Bray Little Leaguer.

Mike Parrott is recuperating from April 19 triple-bypass surgery.
“Just glad to be here,” the lucky 47-year-old said.

Read more in Friday's Vin's People on 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chairs a sign of a small town's character

Paul Catt had just begun unspooling the yellow caution tape when a kid leaned out of a pickup truck westbound on Manatee Avenue.


Yeah, try it.

The Trinity United Methodist Church custodian had 50 of them neatly lined up along the sidewalk, staking out the church's prime watching spot for Saturday's annual Hernando DeSoto Historical Society Grand Parade.

Last year he had 100.

"Haven't lost one yet," Catt said.

No surprise there.

Not only is it a Bradenton tradition to put out your chairs early, but it's also part of its small town character that nobody messes with your chairs.

Nobody steals them.

A colleague who is a Tampa native was incredulous.

"Try putting up chairs a couple of days before a parade in Tampa and you'll never see that chair again," he said.

Well, that's Tampa.

It ain't Bradenton.

Which is another reason to love this town.

I know when I arrived here 13 years ago, I was impressed at the sight of so many chairs up and down Manatee Avenue West days before the big parade.

That was on Wednesday or Thursday, too.

But now it's even earlier.

And nobody bothers with those chairs, either.

They just find spaces to put up their own, marking their places for Saturday night.

Seeing them is a cool sign of the fun that awaits us, a parade that's a glimpse into a small town's soul.

Plastic patio chairs and all.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A 14-year resident bids B'town fond farewell

The annual Seafood Fest is among things Kevin McCarron will miss.

The next time you  hear somebody say they can't wait to get out of Bradenton, remember Kevin McCarron.

Here's a nice email he sent after Get Down Downtown last Thursday, two days before he left town.

But he promised he'll be back.


"My family and I are from Pittsburgh and lived in North Carolina for four years before coming to Manatee County. We have been here for 14 years, and I am leaving to go back to North Carolina. I left Get Down Downtown this evening and can't believe I am leaving the place we call home. Ironically, when I arrived downtown tonight the Old Main's marquee said, 'Kevin, we will miss you forever.' I know this wasn't meant for me, but it hit a nerve. As I left tonight's event, I was overcome with emotions of the memories of Bradenton. I love this place!

"Bradenton isn't perfect by any means, but the mix of people and places here are something to behold. I'll miss my friends, but I will miss everything about this place. Every event, every establishment has a mix of bikers, snowbirds, rednecks and the rest. Everyone, everywhere we have been, gets along, whether it's the Seafood Fest, The Taste of Bradenton, The Rib Fest, Woody's River Roo or Downtown. Any event, anywhere, people are friendly and courteous. It's not Sarasota, it's Bradentucky.

"I'll miss all the events that Gold Coast Eagle sponsored, I'll miss the cheese steaks at Casa di Pizza (even though they are Buffalo fans), the bands at Woody's, the weekends we did our 'beach run' (hitting all the bars on Anna Maria) with my friends, all the country bands I've heard, all the people I've met and every place and event I've been to --- blue skies, warm water and golf. Manatee County will always be my home.

"I'm sure that we will spend every vacation on Anna Maria until we get back back here when we retire. Hopefully sooner? When I got got in my car to leave Get Down Downtown, Rodney Atkins was singing, 'These are My People.'

"Bradenton, you are the best! Don't ever change."

See you soon,
Kevin McCarron

Friday, April 22, 2011

Starting Ware's Creek dredging with a splash

Ware’s Creek dredging begins in June?

I can hear everybody’s reaction.

I’ll believe when I see it.

That is, when they stick the first shovel into the slop off of Virginia Drive, scoop it out and get down to actual work.

Or when Pat Glass and Bill Evers jump off the bridge into the creek.

Say what?

That’s coming from Glass, the doyenne of Manatee County politics.

Back in the 1980s, when she was a county commissioner and Evers was “Boss Hog,” Bradenton’s mayor, discussions about fixing Ware’s Creek began picking up steam.

Evers said they actually started when he was a councilman before that.

Anyway, anticipating the long, drawn out bureaucratic battle lying before them, Glass said she made a crazy promise.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sex business ordinance makes us feel so safe

I feel so much safer about living in Manatee County today.

Don't you?

That the county's ordinance governing sexually oriented businesses is finally good to go against any and all legal challenges after more than a decade legal wrangling makes me want to shout for joy.

It just makes me feel good all over.

The county's dogged defense of its finely tuned ordinance dealing with strip joints, novelty shops and massage parlors like those curious establishments on First Street was borne out of its devotion to protecting the health, safety and welfare of us residents.

But without trying to suppress said business's right to free speech or free expression, of course.

Think that means whatever enticing message is up on their neon signs at happy hour.

You know, "Cold Beer, Hot Ladies."

Or something like that.

The county's march through the courts to the moral high ground began in 1999 with a nudity ordinance, followed by a 2000 adult entertainment ordinance amendment.

More than a decade later, victory!

"It is undeniable that the county has made a substantial showing relying on as thorough a record as we have seen in these cases ... "  said a federal court of appeals.

Big whoop.

Is there a trophy that goes with that?

Remind of me of the significance of this legal breakthrough the next time the county starts making noises about closing down libraries in order to save money.

I don't even want to know what the amount of the legal bills

Our tax dollars at work.

Tuck money not included.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Friday night out gone horribly wrong

Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.

Heard that many a time.

What brings it to mind are the shooting deaths of two British tourists early last Saturday morning in a public housing project in Sarasota.

Police were alerted at 3:20 a.m. and found James Cooper, 25, and James Thomas Kouzaris, 24, on a dead-end street.

Shawn Tyson, a 16-year-old who had been arrested April 7 for aggravated assault with a handgun, was arrested 24 hours later and charged with two counts of murder.

Judging from video at one Main Street club, the pair were doing what most young folks do on a Friday night out on the town.

Yet what caused them to venture north into Newtown is anyone's guess.

Speculation has been all over the place.

All that is known is these two young Brits are dead, homicide victims.

One was an accomplished tennis player and coach.

The other, a world traveler.

They were sophisticated young men who could not have possibly foreseen the ghastly fate awaiting them.

Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DeSoto royalty to hustle tables at Demetrios

Want to see  former DeSoto queens, princesses and court members hustle tables at Demetrios?
The Hernando de Soto Historical Society’s Sisterhood of the Crown will be celebrity servers at a fundraiser 5-9 p.m. April 20 at Gus and Lisa Sokos’ pizza palace at 1720 Cortez Road.
Among them" will be former DeSoto Queens Veenie Goodson (1972), Gail Roberts (1959), Stacie Velliquette (1990), Sherri Buete (1991), Melissa Trippy (2005), Caitlen Murrell (2005) and former Princesses Ansley Boyd (2006) and Melanie Dan (1985).
Call 758-6478.

Pat Glass enjoys her big moment during Thursday's ceremony

 Pat Glass just returned from five days in Las Vegas, but Manatee County’s 2011 Distinguished Citzen, didn’t take in any shows or go near a gaming table the entire time.
Say what?
The beloved former Manatee County commissioner was officially honored Thursday with her own commemorative footsteps in the north sidewalk along the old courthouse.

Brooke James looks more like a hockey player than a T-ball first baseman these days.
The Gene Witt elementary first-grader has lost five teeth, including her upper two in front.
What a great smile!

Mike Suchy gets a big kiss from mom Mary at scholarship signing
Big ups to Southeast Seminole shortstop Mike Suchy, who signed a baseball scholarship Thursday with Florida Gulf Coast University, but will keep an eye on June’s baseball draft.
He’ll participate in pre-draft workouts with the Pirates and Orioles, and has been scouted by the Braves, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Phillies, Rockies and Tigers.

Saturday is the deadline for incoming FSU freshmen from Manatee County high schools to apply for Manatee Seminole Club scholarships, a program now in its 19th year.
Visit for details.
Or call 751-FSU2.

Last but absolutely, positively not least, Sue Manring, my favorite mother-in-law, is 39. Again

Read more in Friday's Vin's People on

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A day late, a dollar short

Some things are just not meant to be.

Sherri and I were all set to hit the road last Friday for a week's vacation when we got a phone call from our nephew, Kevin Haddon, a Special Forces sergeant with the Army's Black Dagger parachute team.

We're practically out the door when he said he was in Lakeland to jump at the annual Sun N' Fun Air Show.

When were you going to tell us this? I asked.

It was a long story.

When I told him we were headed to St. Augustine, Savannah and Charleston, Kevin stopped me.

"I think we've got a show near Charleston next weekend," he said.

Great, I said. I'll call you. We can hook up after all.

So that last Wednesday afternoon, Sherri and I are at this funky beachside bar on Tybee Island, Ga., outside
Savannah. We're talking to the pub owner and mentioned we were planning to see Charleston and catch our nephew at an air show.

Oh, yeah, he said. Beaufort, S.C., Marine Corps Air Station always has a good show.

It was right on our way, so I called Kevin and told him. We even got a hotel room for Friday night in Beaufort for the return trip from Charleston.

We were good to go.


When we drove past the air base that Thursday morning, there were no signs announcing an air show.


Spoke to Kevin later that day and said, you are jumping at Beaufort MCAS, right?

Yeah, something like that, he said.

So, after two fun days in Charleston, we're rolling by the air base again Friday evening.

Still no signs advertising an air show.

I call Kevin.

Uhhh, looks like we're not jumping at Beaufort, he said.


They were actually at Shaw Air Force Base --- only about two hours north of where we were.

We never did see Kevin jump.

Maybe next time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Journey to Fort Sumter reflective ferry ride

Old Glory, bearing 33 stars, tattered and torn.

Huge black cannons, their muzzles forever silenced.

Parapets and interior brickwork, scarred by shot and shell.

They are just a few enduring snapshots of an hour my wife and I shared at Fort Sumter on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Charleston, S.C., was the next-to-last stop on a road trip that took us also to St. Augustine, Fernandina Beach, Savannah, Ga., and Beaufort, S.C., last week.

A genteel city, Charleston was bustling with shoppers and tourists like us.

College of Charleston students seemed everywhere, too.

Yet there was no hint of the sesquicentennial of the cataclysmic conflict that divided and defined our nation.

There was no solemn band music that afternoon, like at Tuesday morning’s commemorative festivities at Charleston Harbor.

No Civil War re-enactors.

No sound of cannon, either.

The sight of Fort Sumter, 4 miles away, was alluring enough.

Read more Wednesday at