Thursday, May 26, 2011

PHS alum gets commission from president

Palmetto High 2007 alum Adam Tanner graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a management degree and was commissioned as an officer by President Obama at the May 18 ceremony in New London, Conn.
Adam will serve aboard the Coast Guard cutter Dallas in beautiful Charleston, S.C.
Parents Charlie and Marcie are proud.

Big ups to Kia McDuffie who got her bachelors degree in nursing from SCF. What a role model for daughter Perryauna Youmans and nieces Kyla and Kayla McDuffie.

King Middle’s third annual Staff vs. Firefighters benefit basketball game for Manasota Operation Troop Support, founded by teacher Jim Comkowyzc, is 2:30 p.m. today.
MOTS grant funding has been exhausted but the work continues community donations.
National Guard veteran David Southgate, just back from his second tour in Iraq, will be at the game.
Call Linda Craig at 518-8971.

Kenny and John Lakin pause between pints at Durty Nelly's
during a golf holiday stopover in Shannon, Ireland

Jamie Schindewolf is 21, graduated cum laude from UF in just three years and will go to grad school at FSU in urban and regional planning. Props from parents Ray and Connie.

Fran and Guido Guayasamin brag about grandsons Alex and Sam O’Dell — both Saint Stephen’s students — for honors achieved on the national Latin exam.

Keyboards and More owner Sharon Schultz is 65 years young and her legion of family, co-workers and fans will celebrate with a 50’s/60’s party at the Moose Club.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

School budget crisis could've been worse

Will I have a job?

It's the apprehensive question reverberating throughout parts of the Manatee School District family, a vibrant part of our community’s core and identity.

Such is the fallout from Monday night’s School Board meeting where Superintendent Tim McGonegal made his recommendations on budget cuts for the next school year.

School psychologists.


Social workers.

They’re among the jobs vulnerable to McGonegal’s Plan A, $12 million in cuts that calls for eliminating 19 staff jobs but all those are now vacant positions. He’s also proposing furloughs for administrators, supervisors and managers, and outsourcing work that involves 50 jobs, almost all custodial.

In addition, principals would have to whack from $30,000 at elementary schools to $88,000 at high schools out of their own budgets.

That will not be easy.

McGonegal’s Plan B is for $16.9 million in cuts, addresses the school district’s mismanaged health care program and calls for deeper individual school budget reductions and additional furloughs.

It could’ve been worse.

A lot worse.
Read more in Wednesday's Mannix About Manatee on

Monday, May 23, 2011

Clean garage mission accomplished ... almost

It took three weekends, including some Saturdays and Sundays, but Sherri and I accomplished a feat that can be daunting to many couples and families.

Just the words strike fear:


When my wife parked her SUV inside on Sunday afternoon after eight months on the driveway alongside my bucket-of-bolts, it felt like a triumphant moment, indeed.

Felt so good, Sherri put a picture of it on Facebook.

Her garage had been relatively uncluttered before we married 13 months ago and I moved in plastic bins and cardboard boxes of my "stuff."

Then my in-laws returned the family Sunfish they'd had for awhile, the boat took the SUV's place inside the garage and my things got moved into storage down the street.

That's the way it stayed until about a month ago when we decided to get busy.

Not only would we get the garage back, we'd save the monthly freight at storage, too.

Sure, there was the tedium of going through boxes, pitching this and saving that.

It's amazing how much stuff you considered invaluable a few years, but isn't so valuable now and gets tossed.

The real fun part was taking out a big cabinet along one wall that was probably had more things on top of it than were in the drawers.

Once we cleared it of everything, we removed the screws in the cabinet's walls, top and bottom and went to town with a sledgehammer.

Bing! Bang! Boom!

The only glitch occured when I struck a panel and a strip of wood flew off, knocked over a box of glass bowls we saved from our wedding reception, shattering one of them.

Since if came from the Dollar Store, Sherri wasn't upset.


That was two weekends ago.

This past weekend, we moved the boat against the wall, installed ceiling hooks for our bikes --- with a big assist from my father-in-law, Jim Manring --- and stacked plastic bins of things I still have to sort through.

At last, the garage was clear for Sherri's SUV.

What a feeling.

Now she wants me to do the same with our walk-in closet.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Can't you feel Guv's love for Floridians?

Rick Scott’s concerns for us fellow Floridians warms the cockles of my heart.

You could feel the Guv’s love this week.

Couldn’t you?

On Wednesday Scott, headlining the annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference, urged us to be vigilant and prepared for storms before hurricane season which starts June 1.

Don’t wait until the “Cone of Death” targets, say, Anna Maria Island.

Thanls, Guv.

Speaking in Fort Lauderdale, Scott trumpeted the new director of the Division of Emergency Management, and said his appointee has the organizational know-how to “ ... safeguard our state’s economy and the people of our state.”

See, Scott is looking out for our welfare.

He’s got our backs.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee on

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vote Bradenton onto Best of the Road

Vote for Bradenton!
Our town is up for “Most Friendly” and “Most Beautiful” in Rand McNally’s Best of the Road contest which ends today.
This is an opportunity to put B’town on the map in the 2013 Atlas and be included in a summer Road Rally trip publicized by USA Today.
Click on this link:

Paul Chambliss gets his business management degree from Eckerd College Sunday. Props from wife Betty, daughters Carlee Colonneso, Dreama Wren and Sarah Parrish, mom Jean and brother John.

The MHS Sugar ‘Canes host their 31st annual Spring Show 7:30 p.m. Saturday at SCF’s Neel Performing Arts Center.
Joining director Lori O’Leary’s dance team will be the Mr. Sugar ‘Canes, MHS Drum Line, Manatee Ballroom Club, hip hop groups from Sarabay Dance Studio and hip hop artist Chris Chawi.
For tickets $5 in advance, $8 at the door see any Sugar ‘Cane or e-mail

Emma Grace Harrigan, 4 going on 24, is graduating from Thompson VPK, and aunt Brittney Christie got her AA from SCF and is headed for MTI’s nursing program.
Mom Susan wonders where the years went.

The Our Lady Queen of Martyrs youth group car wash is 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Proceeds go toward their trip to Spain for a worldwide youth rally and meet the Pope.
Will Pastor Joe Connolly do the BBQ?

Read more in Friday's Vin's People on

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A compelling contrast at McKechnie Field

There was an interesting contrast at McKechnie Field Monday evening.

Well before the Bradenton Marauders played the Clearwater Threshers, the Manatee High School baseball team was gathering for a pregame ceremony.

Coach Dwayne Strong's Hurricanes were bound for the Class 5A Final Four at Port St. Lucie this weekend and the Marauders wanted to send them off with a gift and their best wishes.

For these kids, it was like going to the World Series.

Which is what a certain player sitting alone, meditating in the visitor's dugout knew something about.

It was Chase Utley, the Philadelphia Phillies' All-Star second baseman.

Patellar tendinitis in a knee had wiped out Utley's regular spring training.

So, with the knee rehabbed back into playing condition at last, Utley was working on getting his game back in shape playing with the Threshers, Philadelphia's FSL ballclub.

All teenagers, the Hurricanes carried themselves with youthful confidence as they took the field for the presentation.

Across the diamond, Utley, now 32, had to be contemplating the remaining years of a stellar career, built on a hard-nosed, grinding style of play that had taken a toll on his body.

Manatee's players each received Pirate travel bags and posed for pictures, then left the field to the crowd's applause.

The state tournament beckoned.

Over in the visitors' dugout, Chase Utley awaited his turn at-bat as the game began.

The Phillie veteran's comeback continued.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Publix policy change panics Coupon Queen

My wife was in a state of semi-panic.

For once it had absolutely nothing to do with something I said or did.

It was a story in Friday morning’s Bradenton Herald that rendered her speechless at breakfast.

Publix is changing its coupon policy.

Uh, oh.

Sherri is the Coupon Queen.

A term of endearment, of course.

But she is all business when it comes to collecting coupons so we can save a few bucks here and there.

You never saw someone cut up the ad sections in Sunday’s paper -- or any publication with ads -- like she can.

When Sherri wields a pair of scissors, I stay out of her way.

This is a woman on a mission.
Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee on

Friday, May 13, 2011

Big weekend at our favorite ballpark

 It’s Girl Scout Night 7 p.m. Saturday when the Bradenton Marauders host the Clearwater Threshers at McKechnie Field. All Girl Scouts are welcome in their Scout shirts and sashes, and pre-registered troops will have a pre-game parade around the field. The first 500 Scouts get a special patch giveaway.
Then 5 p.m. Sunday, it’s Bark at the Park. Bring your dog to the game. Pooch passes are $5 at the box office and proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Manatee County. There will be a dog-owner look alike contest and prize for the best dressed pet.
Call 747-3031.

 Speaking of McKechnie, check out the review of our favorite ballpark on Paul Swaney’s website, Stadium Journey, at:
PHS alum Karol Kavanaugh-MacQuarrie, a graduated enhancement resource teacher at the Harry Schwittman Education Center in New Port Richey, got her masters in education leadership from USF.
Hurrah! from parents Kevin and Carol Kavanaugh.
Bradenton barrister John Lakin will be on the air doing regular analysis of the Casey Anthony murder trial for CNN’s Headline News and TRU TV beginning May 23.
When I spotted a white bandage across Mike Suchy’s kisser at the Golden Heralds a week ago Thursday, I got a “Don’t ask,” look from the Southeast High shortstop.
So I asked his mom, Mary.
The day before at practice, Seminoles catcher Cameron Cox threw to second to nab Ethan Lundberg, but the ball glanced off his helmet and POW! smacked Mike in the mouth.
“Four hours later, we’re leaving the plastic surgeon’s office with about eight to 10 stitches total,” his mother said.
Dr. Jacqueline Royce did the honors.
The MHS Class of 1956 holds its 55th reunion May 20-22. Call Dewey Eason at 761-4804 for details.
Read more in Vin's People today on

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wanted: A 'Vinproof' waffle iron

My wife went shopping for a waffle iron the other day.

Found one she liked and has a coupon for, too.

"Is it waterproof?" I asked.

"You mean, is it 'Vinproof?'" Sherri said, semi-kiddingly.

OK, she got me.

In the 13 months we've been married, I have inadvertently trashed some things.

Did so before we got hitched, as a matter of fact.

There was the time I was on the cellphone, switched hands and dropped it into her pool.

Stupidly, I stared at the sinking phone in disbelief as Sherri jumped into the water to retrieve it.

Scratch that cellphone.

Then there was the episode with her parents' mailbox which I decapitated with my pickup truck's passenger side mirror.

You can imagine what it looked like when I walked into their living room, carrying the mailbox under my arm.

My in-laws do have a sense of humor, thankfully.

The waffle iron?

Not as funny.

I made waffles one Sunday morning, ladled a little too much batter onto the griddle and it ran all over the place when I closed it.

After breakfast, I decided to clean it ... in our kitchen sink.

"You are not doing what I think you're doing!" she said, catching me putting the waffle iron under running water to get all the goop out of it.

"It's waterproof, isn't it?" I asked.

Sherri told me it wasn't and she wasn't about to risk being electocuted the next time finding out, either.

I had an idea.

Hoping to dry it out good, I propped it open on our pool deck, figuring a few days in the sun would do the trick.

Then we got that tremendous downpour the middle of last week --- with the waffle iron still out there.

It went out with the rest of the garbage Monday morning.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Prayer card a message for Mother's Day

Eileen Mannix on Ireland's Cliffs of Moher

The photo is a silhouette of two people watching a sunset on Sanibel Island.

It’s me and my mother, Eileen.

Tucked into the frame is a prayer card with a green Celtic cross bordered by these words:

“Grieve not ...

“Nor speak of me with tears...

“But laugh and talk of me as though I were beside you.

“I loved you so ...

“‘Twas heaven here with you.”

It will be three years this October since Mom passed at the age of 82, and not a day goes by I don’t read that card.

I’ve got another dog-eared one in my pickup truck.

It makes me stop and think about this daughter of Irish immigrants, who bore me and my six siblings.

She raised the family after Dad died suddenly in 1972.

Which is one reason I smile after reading the last line in that moving inscription.

It was hardly heaven for her a lot of times.

What Mom managed to do, especially over those following two decades, is deeply appreciated by us, particularly three of my sisters who have children of their own.

As Maureen, a mother of three sons, aptly put it:

“I don’t know how Mommy didn’t kill all of us.”

Me included, even though I left home at 17 for college in the Midwest and headed to Florida upon graduating.

When I brought my future wife home to meet Mom during her final years, she was sure to kid that the oldest of her seven children was the biggest pain in the rear end of all of them.

Like Sherri needs reminding.

It was always good for a laugh.

What I wouldn’t give to hear Mom’s again.

When Sherri calls her mother daily I think how fortunate she is to have her mom around.

Truly, you never know how grateful you should be having someone like that in your life until they’re gone.

Not that I didn’t show Mom my indebtedness.

The surprise visits home.

Flying her here.

Our trips to Ireland.

I loved sending her flowers on the odd day for no other reason than as a sign of my love.

After Mom passed, I found out she’d saved the rose petals in a big glass bowl.

The last few years after I’d visit Mom in south Jersey and the airport limo arrived, we’d embrace several times, not wanting to let go.

Take your time, the driver would say.

Leaving at last, I’d always look back, waving and watching her until we were out of sight.

July of 2008 was the last time I saw her alive.

Yet it was not our final parting.

That farewell was truly mystical.

It was August 2009 and Sherri and I had brought Mom’s ashes to Ireland, so I could spread them at the foot of Benbulben Mountain in County Sligo, my ancestral home.

When I tossed up the first handful, they fell a few feet away.

But as I cast the second, a gust arose and carried the ashes into the wind.

The breeze continued until Mom’s ashes were gone.

‘Twas heavenly, indeed.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification purposes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Prayer card stirs Mother's Day memories

Eileen Mannix at Ireland's Cliffs of Moher

The photo is a silhouette of two people watching a sunset on Sanibel Island.

It’s me and my mother, Eileen.

Tucked into the frame is a prayer card with a green Celtic cross bordered by these words:

“Grieve not ...

“Nor speak of me with tears...

“But laugh and talk of me as though I were beside you.

“I loved you so ...

“‘Twas heaven here with you.”

It will be three years this October since Mom passed at the age of 82, and not a day goes by I don’t read that card.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Manatee Boys & Girls Clubs honor top youth

That's Boys & Girls Club VP Beth Work and Youth of the Year Brianna McNair.

A bow to Brianna McNair.
The MHS junior was selected the Boys Girls Clubs of Manatee County 2011 Youth of the Year.
The honor recognizes sound character, leadership skills, outstanding contributions to family, school and community, as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome.

The Anna Maria Elementary PTO’s annual dinner dance and auction is 6-11 p.m. Saturday at the AMI Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.
The Billy Rice Band will perform at the Giddy Up Gala.
Call 708-5525 for details.

Say it isn’t so! Linda Walters hit the Big 5-0!

Those are wedding bells for former MHS Sugar ‘Cane captain Erin Lilly and Todd Johnson. The Nashville couple will marry April 2012.
Her younger brother, Matt, is graduating from Fred Page High, Franklin, Tenn., where he was Emergency Medical Student of the Year. He’s on the Arrington Volunteer Fire Department and wants to be a firefighter/paramedic.
Parents Deb and Bob are doubly proud.

Catch the Kentucky Derby during VFW Post 10141’s 4-7 p.m. Saturday “Wish List” fundraiser at 420 67th St. W. There will be BBQ, tunes and raffles and the public is invited.
Also, the Post is looking for newspaper headline pages trumpeting the end of World Wars I and II as well as Vietnam to frame and hang at the Post.
Call Maureen Graham at 794-6394.

Read more in Friday's Vin's People on

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hard hats in fashion at McKechnie Field?

So the Bradenton Marauders' brass are taking off the roofs at McKechnie Field over the first- and third-base reserve seating for safety reasons.


All those foul balls that bounce off the roof on the third base side and carom onto Ninth Street West?

The fellas that run down those balls and turn around to try and sell are going to be losing out on most of their inventory.

As for the foul balls that usually bang off the roof on the first base side, land in the food garden and set off a mad scramble by kids waiting in line for a hot dog?

They'll be dive bombing into the stands.

Which I'm OK with because I always bring a glove to Marauder games.

Haven't caught a foul ball yet where I sit, but I will now.

As for my fellow season ticket holders in the reserved seating along both baselines?

If they don't bring gloves, hard hats might do.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Remembering best friend on momentous day

When I picked up the paper from our driveway Monday morning, it was folded inside the clear plastic in such a way the main headline wasn't full visible.

OSAMA BIN LA ... was all it said.

I was still half-asleep, but judging from the bold faced type and the headline's size, I knew what it meant before I pulled the paper out of the sleeve.


It stopped me in my tracks.

The world's most wanted terrorist, the evil face behind the slaughter of 3,000 innocent people on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001, had met his fate at last.

That it was accomplished by a courageous Special Ops team of Navy Seals made me proud.

Yet my thoughts throughout much of the day were of a cemetery in Alliance, Ohio.

It is the place where Bill Ruth, my college chum, best friend and the big brother I never had, is buried.

Bill perished at the Pentagon on 9/11.

That his death -- as well as all those caused by this hateful Islamist fanatic -- has been avenged is good and just.

I've never have been able to make peace fully with the fact this former Marine medevac helicopter pilot, who made it through Vietnam, died that terrible day at the Pentagon.

Closure was a word that was used a lot during Monday's coverage of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

I heard family members of 9/11 victims who said they didn't feel it.

What that despicable individual did to their families is something they can never forget.

They can take solace in knowing the U.S. lived up to its promise to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.

I know Bill would be proud of it, too.