Monday, December 31, 2012

Chic-fil-A Bowl on TV to be our New Year's bash

So what are you doing to celebrate New Year's Eve?
a.) Heading to a party?
b.) Going out to dinner?
c.) Staying home?
You can put Sherri and I down for that last choice.
We were invited last week to join friends at a gathering tonight, but I believe we're going to say thanks and just pass.
Think it's going to be dinner at the manse and watch Clemson-LSU at the Chic-fil-A Bowl.
We don't want to seem like party poopers, but this is one night we definitely prefer being safe.
Not sorry.
If one of the  neighbors was having a celebration we could walk to, great.
As for driving?
No way.
It's been a few years since I've done the New Year's Eve thing and driven somewhere.
The last time was to a bash at a home in River Club.
The party was going strong when I left just after 11 p.m. and it was raining.
I think I'd had one drink earlier in the evening and I was glad I'd played it smart for once.
By the time I got home I'd seen two overturned vehicles, one near Interstate 75, the other off State Road 64 East.
I've never forgotten that.
If there was ever a time where you have to be more concerned about the other guy behind the wheel, New Year's Eve is it.
Why take a chance?
Not tonight.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Some 2013 resolutions bound to be broken

Got your list of New Year’s resolutions?
Yeah, I know.
Ha-ha! Very funny.
Why bother, right?
Resolutions are only made to be broken.
As Mark Twain wrote, New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
A new year means a new start and that includes making some resolutions that are reasonable, attainable and will help you evolve into a better person in the long run just for trying to carry them out.
Or something like that.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Trips with dad to Iowa games son's fond memory

Jim Forssell’s passing on Christmas Day meant the end of an era. It also marked the close to one of the cooler father-son trips many would enjoy.
Each fall for the past decade the esteemed Manatee High music educator and son Jim attended a game at the University of Iowa where the father got his masters in 1960.
“He wanted to see every Big 10 team once at Kinnick Stadium and we saw nine of them,” the son said. “Ohio State was the only one left. But the way the Big 10 has been adding teams, I don’t think he would’ve lived long enough to realize his goal.”
Ironically, the last game they saw was Iowa’s 27-24 loss on Nov. 17 to Purdue, coached by ex-Manatee High assistant Danny Hope, who got fired three games later.
“Dad thought that would save Danny’s job, but I guess not,” the son said.
It was after they returned his father’s health began to fail.
“That trip was a big thing for him, so it was neat how we had that window for one last game,” the son said.

That’s 30 years of wedded bliss for Barbara and Pat Roff.

Ryan Fetchko got his civil engineering degree from the University of Central Florida and has a job to go with it! Tina and Ken are happy.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas shopping not a last minute deal here

Christmas is over.
Or is it?
I'll explain in a minute.
Santa was good to us..
Sherri got some bling.
Some sweaters.
A camera.
A Kindle, on which everything was in Japanese. Or was it Chinese?
Santa was good to me, too.
A nice sweater.
Three bottles of wine.
Two books by Bill O'Reilly about the JFK and Lincoln assassinations.
Zac Brown CD.
A DVD with old westerns I spent watching with my father-in-law Christmas Day.
The last time I watched the Lone Ranger that many times I was in parochial school.
Christmas was fun.
No hassle, either.
Most of our shopping was done early.
How early?
W-a-a-a-y early.
To give you an idea, on Wednesday, armed with a mess of day-after-Christmas sales coupons my wife, her sister and her mom hit several popular stores for some deals.
Oh and  to get a jump on Christmas shopping for next year, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top 5 finish for Manatee High JROTC at state meet

It was a Top 5 finish for Manatee High School’s JROTC at the Florida State Raider Challenge championships in Lake Wales last weekend.
Manatee had two squads of eight cadets.
Its all-male team tied for first overall, but lost the tie-breaker to place second, while the mixed team of male and female cadets took fourth.
The event boasted a 68-team field.
Among events Manatee dominated were the cross country rescue, where the mixed team took first and the male team second; the physical training test which the male team won; academics with the male team taking third and the mixed team fifth, and the rope bridge with the mixed team taking fifth.
Led by Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Thomas Zoch, the MHS JROTC includes Jonathan Alt, Challen Arellano, Hugo Arellano, Hivon Betancourt, Chris Booth, Aaron Boyer, Martinez Carolina, Christian Diaz, Mathew Hyatt, Alex Ladue, Jared Maguire, Christian Marsden, Cameron Ogle, Nick Paserillo, Connor Powers, Oscar Rodriguez, Rachel Rohde, Louis Rottes and Alexandria Salinas.

Outfielder Lastings Milledge had a good year in his first season with Tokyo’s Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Central League and signed a three-year $4.4 million contract with a mutual option for 2016.
Now 27, the former first-round pick out of Lakewood Ranch High School hit .300 with 21 home runs.

Big ups to Jordan Sanders. The Braden River High School senior saxophonist auditioned and was accepted to Boston’s Berkley School of Music and also received a $10,000 yearly scholarship.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Closing is never close until it's finally closed

Closing on selling your house can be an adventure.
So I've heard.
Mine, on my old abode in Ware's Creek, has been a relatively smooth process and the deal should be done before Christmas.
It better be.
I wondered about it, though, after a phone call I got Monday evening from the title company.
My wife and I were in Biloxi, Miss., wrapping up a long weekend getaway.
Did I have a home equity line of credit that was open?
They said everything was in order for them to get the payoff --- but for this little home equity line detail.
I was flabbergasted.
Talk about ancient history.
I'd opened up the credit line and used it to have my deck built and a new kitchen installed.
Then I'd closed it.
Or so I thought.
That was 2005.
Seven years ago.
So I called the bank Tuesday morning to nail down that loose end while we were heading east on I-10 for home.
Ever tried talking business long distance at 75 mph?
I don't recommend it.
Anyway, I explained my dilemma to a semi-interested bank associate, then gave them the title company fax number for the documentation that would show my home equity line was, indeed, closed and clear.
My wife, who was driving, said give them my email address, too.
Good thing.
When we got home Tuesday night, I checked and the email was there.
But when the title company called Wednesday morning, they said they never received a fax.
In a semi-panic, I asked if the letter the bank had emailed me would do?
Forward it to us and we'll run it by the underwriter and see, they said.
Got a phone call five minutes later.
We were good to go.
Crazy how stuff like this pops up at the 11th hour, even when you think you've got all your ducks lined up.
Going to be glad when this closing is closed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

School audit report Jan. 14 day of reckoning

There are three dates on the horizon many of us are looking forward to with anticipation.
Dec. 25. Christmas Day.
Jan. 1. New Years Day.
Jan. 14. A day of reckoning.
That’s when the public is supposed to learn the results of the ongoing forensic audit of the Manatee School District’s $3.4 million deficit.
At last, we should get some clarity to a baffling situation that has hovered around the school administration building like a storm cloud.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

NASA honors Palmetto FAMU grad with award

 KSC Center Director Robert Cabana, SMA Deputy Director Russ Deloach, Charmel Jones and Astronaut Daniel  Burbank
Congratulations to Charmel Jones, a NASA aerospace quality engineer at the Kennedy Space Center.
The 1998 Palmetto High School honors alum received NASA’s Silver Snoopy, a notable award recognizing her contributions, dedication  and professionalism in enhancing space flight safety and mission success.
The commendation was given to the 2003 Florida A&M University grad for outstanding engineering that contributed to the shuttle flights and the orbiter’s transition to retirement.
Charmel is with NASA’s safety and mission assurance directorate and is a member of the Women@NASA initiative that supports the White House Council on Women and Girls.
She is the daughter of Sharon Anderson and the late Johnny Lee Hart and granddaughter of Imogene Campbell.

Terry Wells has joined First America Bank.

Shirley Vandersall received a nice surprise when someone left a basket of goodies on her doorstep.
The attached envelope was marked, “Troop 10," which she found amusing.
Shirley is an 81-year-old widow.
“I’m sure this must be for some little boy or girl,” she said.
Anyone who knows about the basket can call 941-756-6700.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Can you spare a ham for Salvation Army Christmas?

Brothers and sisters, can you spare a ham?
Then the Salvation Army Manatee County can use it and more.
Volunteers will be serving more than 400 needy folks from 4-6 p.m. at  the annual community Christmas meal 4-6 p.m. Dec. 25.
Baked ham will comprise the main course with scalloped potatoes, green beans, rolls and dessert.
Kitchen manager Brian Schultz is reaching out to the community.
“We need to cook at least 100 hams in order to serve the expected numbers," he said.
Right now, they have 10.
Schultz and his staff will begin preparing and cooking hams this week to make sure everything is ready.
Additional needs include potatoes, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Donations can be dropped off at The Salvation Army, 1204 14th St. W., Bradenton.
Call 941-748-5110.
Or visit

Monday, December 10, 2012

Next RayJay trip? Maybe 2022. Or beyond.

Made it to the RayJay for my once-a-decade Bucs' game.
Saw them play the Lions in 1998.
The Eagles in 2006.
And the Eagles again Sunday.
So I'm good for another 10 years.
Maybe longer.
Had a swell time with friends, so don't get me wrong.
I'm not going to complain about the $91 tickets up in the nose bleed seats, either.
The Eagles even won.
Actually, I was hoping the Bucs would win because a victory would've meant more to them and their playoff chances.
It would've made my wife happy, too.
All it did for the Eagles, to hear my brethren Bird fans who descended like an invading horde on Tampa Bay, was mess with their first-round position in next April's NFL draft.
They had a point.
That team needs help.
Anyway, I'm afraid I'm just not big on the NFL stadium experience.
I don't give a rip what NFL czar Roger Goodell says.
Nothing beats watching the game from the comforts of your living room.
You don't have to shoot a whole Sunday driving to the game and then dealing with the inevitable traffic jam after it's over.
The game is simply better at home.
Not to mention a whole lot cheaper.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A welcome voice of wisdom, wit has gone silent


His phone messages frequently ended with a singsong Irish diddy that made me lean back and smile.
Then I’d replay it and listen to Ed Price's voice again and again:
“Have you ever been in an Irishman’s shanty where water is scarce and whiskey is plenty, to eat with your fingers and fought with their knives to keep the beggars from stealing their wives.”
Many are the memories people have of  the community’s beloved elder statesman who passed last weekend.
They reflect on his kindness and decency.
His integrity and conviction.
His piety and humility.
As Reubin Askew said of the man he wanted to run for governor, Ed Price loved Bradenton and Bradenton loved him back.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Join Manatee fans at Hurricane Watch Party

Marine PFC. Steven Grantham, a Saint Joseph Catholic School alum, with fifth-graders. His mom, Carol, is a first-grade teacher's aide.

There’s a Hurricane Watch Party at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, 4925 Cortez Road, for Friday night’s Class 7A state semifinal between Manatee and St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale.
It’s the online feed from and kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Call 798-6939 for details.

Melissa Smith graduates this month from Virginia Tech with a masters in structural engineering.
Hurray! from parents Janet and Mike, sisters Hilary Kahn and Lindsay Hussey and brothers-in-law Alex and Steven.

Mary Lou Zoback
Mary Lou Zoback, eldest daughter of former Manatee County Commissioner Kent Chetlain and his late wife, Joanne, was one of eight appointees to the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board by President Obama.
Mary Lou went to school here from 1957 until 1969 and is a consulting professor in the Environmental Earth System Science Department at Stanford University.

 When the “So You Think You Can Dance” tour hit Tampa last Tuesday night among the lucky Manatee School for the Arts students with backstage passes at the Straz Center were Colton Heier, Nicoletta Lanese, Devan McDuffie, Brandon Pavon, Lauren Pierce and Blossom Viruet.
They received them courtesy of the National Dance Association and were accompanied by MSA’s Kelly Burnette, the NDA National K-12 Dance Educator of the Year in 2007.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vote Noles vs. Canes as USA's No. 1 rivalry

Southeast  vs. Manatee, Florida's No. 1 high school football rivalry?
That's according to a USA TODAY poll, in which Bradenton's annual backyard brawl was voted most intense over rivalries like Naples Lely vs. Naples and Pahokee vs. Glades Central in the Muck Bowl.
The Muck Bowl? Wow!
The state voting according to USA TODAY went:
Manatee vs. Southeast (1,255 votes)
Naples Lely vs. Naples High (205 votes)
Pahokee vs. Glades Central (114 votes).
The regional competition is up now and you have six days to help move SEHS vs. MHS to the national competition and make it America's No. 1 rivalry.
The winning schools will split $10,000.
To vote, visit:
Regional voting ends 11 a.m. EST on Dec. 12. The four finalists advance to the championship round and you may vote as many times as you want.
Voting for the best national rivalry begins 11 a.m. EST on Dec. 13 and ends 11 a.m. EST Dec. 19.
Maybe by that time Manatee will be state AND national champion.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Decorating Christmas tree can be fulltime job

At last, our Christmas tree is finished.
Thank goodness!
Usually, we've been able to assemble and decorate it all in one day.
Or two.
This year it took two weekends.
Maybe I'm getting older, which I am.
Actually, I think my wife has more Christmas tree ornaments than last year and the year before that and the year before that, etc., etc., etc.
The wild thing about that?
There were plenty more left in the plastic tub!
My wife knows how to collect ornaments, too.
And they're from everywhere.
There are decorations from our family collections.
There are decorations from the Jersey Shore.
There are decorations from Biloxi, Miss.
There are decorations from St. Augustine.
There are decorations from Sheboygan, Wis.
There are decorations from Tybee Island, Ga.
There are decorations from Amelia Island.
There are decorations from Ohio's Circleville Pumpkin Show.
There are decorations from Breckenridge, Colo.
There are decorations from Ireland.
There are decorations from Charleston, S.C.
There are decorations from Alaska.
There are decorations from the Caribbean.
I'm sure I'm leaving some out, but that's cool.
It'll be a whole month before we have to take them down.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

CD for Manatee Players perfect stocking stuffer

Want to buy a cool Christmas CD featuring community folks singing holiday songs to help raise funds for the new Manatee Players home?
Thanks to a joint production by Jason Lipton and the Del Couch Music Education Foundation, the CDs are available at the Players box office, 102 Old Main St., Bradenton.
Or call 941-748-5875.
Among the singers are Ken Basque, Kim Betts, Wendy Brown, Jeff Cook (of Alabama), Steve and Diane Dawson, Rick and Jenda Derringer, Kathleen Fairchild, Grace Gibbs, Eliza Lipton and Delaney Couch, Denny Miller and Meg Newsome, the Players Choir, Professor Soup, John Rinell (who does a spot-on Frank Sinatra), Travis Rogers, Greg Weigers, Channing Wier and yours truly, primarily for comic relief.
CDs are $15.

Bayshore High School’s Fine Arts Dance Department, under the direction of Melecia Perren, presents its Fall Performance 7 p.m. Dec. 13-14 in the BHS auditorium.
Students will perform jazz, modern and ballet dance styles to familiar musical themes.
The public is welcome and tickets are $7.
Call 941-751-7004, ext. 2051 for details.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Chuck and Joey Lester, Wisconsin’s gift to our community, host the 11th annual Lester Family Fun Day, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Call 941-778-1908.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Palmetto Trojan Dance Team returns to nationals

Congrats to the Palmetto Youth Center’s Trojans Midget Dance Team.
They were second-place winners at the Southeast Region Cheer/Dance Championships, qualifying for the National Championships in Orlando Dec. 4–7.
This is the Trojans Dancers second trip to nationals in the last three years. 
More than 200 teams competed at the Regional Championship in Orlando over Thanksgiving weekend.
“The dancers, along with their coaches and parents, should be congratulated,” said Chris Lukowiak, the PYC executive director. “Their hard work has paid off and they’ve brought great recognition to all of us in Manatee County.”
The PYC, 501 17th. St. W., will be holding fundraisers to help cover the cost of transportation, meals and lodging for nationals.
“We are dedicated to ensuring the girls will be able to continue in the competition,” said PYC athletic director Tony Stephens. “We couldn’t be more excited for the girls and hope the community will help us to support them.”
There will be Dollar Day Yard Sales on 3-5 p.m. Friday and 7–11 a.m. Saturday.
For details, call the PYC at 941-722-0783.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Murphy's Law rules on outside Christmas lights

What do you do the Sunday after Thanksgiving?
If you're like us, and what looked like most of our neighborhood, you put up the Christmas tree and the outside lights.
Or try to.
It's always an involved endeavor --- and that's if everything goes according to plan.
Which it rarely does.
To wit:
The first thing Sherri and I tried to do was hang the outside lights, figuring we'd be back inside the house in time to do the tree while listening to the blacked-out Bucs' game on radio.
Fat chance.
First we had make sure the lights were all working.
They weren't.
They never are.
Doesn't matter whether you bought a new set the year before, either.
It's one year and pffft!
So Sherri had to make a quick trip to Walmart to get a new set to complement the two working strands we still had left
The other four strands went in the garbage.
My wife was back in short order and slowly but surely we hung the new outside lights without injuring ourselves or getting into a big argument.
That done, we assembled the artificial tree limb by limb as the Bucs played on the radio.
We also managed to get up a good number of decorations, before finally calling it a day somewhere after the game's disappointing conclusion.
There's still another plastic tub of Christmas tree ornaments to go.

To be continued ...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hey, somebody's got to pay for Citizens' lifestyle

Let’s play a little game.
Tell me which well known state-run company that does business with 1.4 million Floridians just got caught with its pants down. 
Three hints:
Overly generous severance packages for disgraced executives.
An employee ran a sex toy business using the office computer and work space.
Top managers enjoyed extravagant perks while traveling on official business even though they planned to drop clients and increase payments from the rest.
Can you guess?
Try Citizens Property Insurance, Corp.
Shocking, right?
Not today.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sit-Stay Guinness Record? Maybe next year

After getting 89 pooches to sit-and-stay at the inaugurual Guinness Challenge a year ago, only 78 could be documented last Saturday during the Canine Christmas at Bishop Animal Shelter.
“Maybe the third time will be the charm,” said organizer Laurie Crawford.

The Manatee County YMCA recognized its volunteers at its recent banquet and among the honorees were George Williams Award recipients Frank Peck (Bradenton branch), Nathan Lancaster (Lakewood Ranch branch) and Tom Norwood (Parrish branch).
Ben Jordan, a Parrish branch advisory member, received the Y’s prestigious John R. Mott Award.
Sean Allison, the Y president, emceed the event, during which the Manatee High fiddlers, under David Pope’s direction, entertained.

Bob Delaney would like to have your coats, gloves and scarves, too.
The Jersey Boy and retired NBA ref is holding an NBA Coat Drive to deliver warm clothing to folks who lost everything to Hurricane Sandy with winter around the corner.
The event is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2 at Ed’s Tavern, 10719 Rodeo Drive, Lakewood Ranch.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Cookies, kindness mark morning at Food Pantry

Sue Evans had been at the Food Pantry window for about three hours.
The line of folks outside St. Joseph Catholic Church seeking food for Thanksgiving Day seemed neverending.
It's always like that this time of year .
Yet whenever it was the next family's turn at the window, Evans would lean out, holding a plastic tray of cookies for the children.
It was a magnet for them, including the shy little ones.
"Say thank you," their mothers kept reminding them.
Evans' act of kindness was something to behold.
"Seeing those kids faces is the best part," she said. "That's worth staying here for four hours."
It was also a nice gesture that preceded Evans hoisting a grocery bag filled with food to those same mothers for their hungry families.
She'd lost count of how many people she'd given bags to, but each time it was done with dignity and a wish for a Happy Thanksgiving.
"It's hard, seeing parents' faces," Evans said. "Sometimes a lady will cry because they're so grateful. Those are the ones my heart goes out to."
Then she ducked down behind the window, getting another tray of cookies ready.
There would be more children along for sure.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Plenty of things to be grateful for at Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for?
Good health.
Still got a job.
The kids are out of the house, have children of their own and are finding out what you went through.
With Thanksgiving Day nigh, there are many things we are grateful for around town.
Some serious.
Some on the lighter side of life.
Here are a few of both:
Hurricane season is almost over and it appears we have survived those dreaded six months again.
We’re not in an email chain with Jill Kelley.
But I am with Dewey “Never Trust A Skinny Chef” Eason.
A mother-in-law who humors me

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Saturday big day for dogs at Canine Christmas

Manatee High senior Hayley Hawkinberry is Florida’s Teen Miss Hometown USA.
A reminder for dog owners that Saturday’s annual Canine Christmas Festival is 10 a.m. at Bishop Animal Shelter, 5718 21st Ave. W., Bradenton.
The Guinness Sit-Stay Challenge is 3:30 p.m.
For details, call 941-746-3611. Or visit

Big ups to Denise and Jeff Smith. Daughter Jen and son-in-law Keith Young became parents to twin boys, Wyatt and Colby, in Charlotte, N.C.

Kevin Neghandi is expanding his role at ESPN. Besides co-anchoring the 9 a.m. SportsCenter, the ABC 7 alum is taking over women’s college basketball coverage, which  includes hosting the women’s NCAA tournament and its Final Four, too.

Good luck to Joe Kinnan’s Manatee Hurricanes, Paul Maechtle’s Southeast Seminoles and Dave Marino’s Palmetto Tigers as they begin the state playoffs.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christmas arrives early at Palmetto Historical Park

Ready for an early taste of that holiday spirit?
Then check out the festivities at an old-fashioned Christmas at Palmetto Historical Park and Manatee County Agricultural Museum.
It's from 5-9 p.m., Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and there is something for everyone.
There will be creatively decorated buildings, vintage toy exhibits, children's crafts, entertainment and, of course, Santa.
Among featured activities will be letters to Santa, contests for prizes, letters to soldiers, birdfeeders with FFA, recipes to collect in each of the park buildings and a “Memory Tree” in the Military Museum.
Santa will arrive by fire truck at 6 p.m.
Bring a camera for a photo with Santa.
Food vendors on the premises include Demetrio’s Pizza, Word of Mouth BBQ and Snack It To Me.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand will be raising funds for children’s cancer research and the Sweet Shop will raise funds for family programming.
In the spirit of Christmas, help needy families by bringing canned goods for First United Methodist Church of Palmetto’s food pantry and drop them off at park entrances.
The park is 515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto.
Call 941-721-2034.
Admission is free.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday night drive home an eventful one

Driving home from work most nights is an uneventful 20-minute ride.
Monday evening was an exception.
Heading south on First Street I saw a couple of Bradenton's finest parked in the turn lane opposite RaceTrac.
Their cruiser lights were flashing.
Traffic stop? Fender bender?
Oh, man. Don't let it be another bicyclist like the man who was struck trying to cross First Street and died.
It wasn't.
It was a dog.
The pooch was on its side, bleeding, and a motorist was trying to comfort it as best she could while the police looked on.
A sad sight.
Hope they were able to save the dog.
Continuing onto US 301, I drove over the ramp and headed for the light at Ninth Street East.
Off to the right I could see a man on a bicycle pedaling full tilt boogie north toward the intersection with US 301.
The light was still green for me.
Is this guy going to stop or what? I said.
It sure didn't look like it.
I don't drive fast anyway, but slowed down.
The bicyclist swerved behind me and continued pedaling north across US 301.
Thankfully, the rest of my drive home was uneventful.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veterans Day epitaph for World War II soldier

Lorraine and Warren Sweetman

Warren Sweetman would sit at the counter in Popi’s Place IV eating breakfast, one of the regulars who enjoyed the family diner in Ellenton.
New patrons might take him for another retiree until they spotted his World War II veterans ballcap.
Maybe they’d nod respectfully and leave it at that.
Or maybe they’d ask him about the war.
Whether they did, the decorated infantryman was content to be in their company.
“When I see a family ... at the restaurant, I just feel like I had the privilege to fight so those people could go and do that,” he told the Bradenton Herald in 2004.
It’s a shame they won't see him anymore.
Sweetman died Oct. 23.
The former construction worker and Palmetto volunteer firefighter was 89.
Pancreatic cancer did what German artillery and machine gun fire could not.
Another member of the Greatest Generation is gone.
Sweetman will be memorialized at a military service 3 p.m. Nov. 16, at Impact Community Church, 209 Seventh St. W., Palmetto.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Get your dog ready for Guinness Sit-Stay Challenge

Trish Antonelli holds a sit-stay boot camp for dogs 10 a.m. Saturday at Bishop Animal Shelter, 5718 21st Ave. W., Bradenton, to prepare for the Guinness Sit-Stay Challenge, 3:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at Bishop.
Call Trish at 941-544-6907. Or call Laurie Crawford at 941-746-3611.

What do Chris Ciaccio, Dr. Joe Ganey, Mark Goodson, Ernie Lisch, Stewart Moon Jr., Chris Pennewill Jr., Will Robinson and Tim Vining have in common?
They’ll be honored Nov. 16 by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County as the 2012 Magnetic Men of Manatee for their personal achievements, community involvement and philanthropy.
The event, “Little Wishes, Big Dreams,” presented by Florida Community Bank, is 6:30 p.m. at the Bradenton Auditorium.
Bay News 9’s Summer Smith will emcee.
For ticket information call 941-761-2582. Or visit

Like good blue grass?
The Bradenton Elks, 2511 75th St. W., have a treat for you then when they host Highway 41 South, a renowned blue grass band 5 p.m. Nov. 17.
Call 941-792-1511 for details.
Tell them Dewey Eason sent you.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Audobon offers beginning bird watching course

Ever wanted to take up bird watching as a hobby?
Here's your chance to do so.
The Manatee County Audubon Society is offering an invitation to wildlife photographers interested in learning bird identification and location skills by taking the 2013 MCAS Beginning Bird Watching Course taught by Nancy and Bob Dean.
Information about bird behavior may be especially interesting to videographers as
well as folks who are simply charmed by the antics of the colorful creatures.
The Deans will teach the 2013 course 6:30-9 p.m. Jan. 21, 24, 28 and 31 2013 at the First United
Methodist Church of Palmetto, 330 11th Ave. W.
The course includes two full-day field trips that begin at 7 a.m., Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 2013
Fee is $50 plus the 2013 MCAS membership fee ($20).
Reservations are first come first served and must be reconfirmed between Jan. 11-18, 2013.
Call Nancy Dean at 941-792-9235. Or email:

Monday, November 5, 2012

No more TV campaign spots, no more robo-calls...

It's almost over.
No more TV spots.
No more mailers.
No more robo-calls.
Election day is almost here.
If I never hear "I'm (fill-in-the-name) and I approve this message" again it will be too soon.
The past month or more I would hit the mute button on our TV remote as fast as I could. 
I didn't always get to it in time, but my intentions were good.
Whether they were about the presidential campaign or the U.S. Senate or Congressional races, the TV spots passed the saturation point long ago.
Enough is enough.
That goes for the robo-calls, too.
They started up the last couple of week and have increased exponentially in number and level of annoyance.
I hit the off button on our wireless phones as quickly as I can, too.
But I listened to one Monday morning for a few seconds.
"Hi, this is Pat Boone. Yes, that Pat Boone, the one who sang ... "
I laughed and turned it off.
Pat Boone?
I thought he was dead.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reunion for Hurricanes 1992 state champions

Ex-Canes, Auburn's Mike Blakeley, Ole Miss's Chris Conley, after Oct. 13 Rebel win.
The Manatee Hurricanes 1992 state champions will be honored at a special reunion in conjunction with tonight’s Sarasota-Manatee Class 7A-District 10 finale at Hawkins Stadium.
The one-and-only coach Eddie Shannon, now 90 years young, will also receive a special award and recognition.
The celebration begins 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Main Street at Lakewood Ranch will hold its monthly Music on Main concert today at 6 p.m.
Shotgun Justice will entertain.
Volunteers and supporters of Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART), will be serving beer, wine and bottled water during the evening. Proceeds will benefit SMART.
Visit or
Or call 941-907-9243.

Who will be Mr. Sugar ‘Cane?
Manatee High’s Zane Butler, Christian Diaz, Matt Dinius, Michael Galati, Zach Hill, Dixon Jernigan, Danny Kerwin, Yuri Pereira, Zach Stephenson, Alex Timmerman and Aaron Vanhook will vie for the title at the annual Sugar ‘Cane fashion show fundraiser 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
It’s at the Davis Performing Arts Theater.
Former Sugar ‘Cane and DeSoto queen Caitlen Murrell will emcee.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Family in South Jersey survives Sandy

The phone calls were made over the weekend.
I called each of my five siblings living in South Jersey.
Brothers Jim and Joey on Saturday. Sisters MaryAnne, Jeanne and Patricia on Sunday.
So, I said to each of them, you folks ready for Hurricane Sandy?
It was weird.
Usually it's them calling me when another hurricane or tropical storm is steaming toward our neighborhood.
This time our roles was reversed.
But they knew the drill.
Got enough water.
Got a generator.
Got batteries and flashlights.
Already took down everything that might end up a projectile.
Turned out they made it through Sandy in good shape.
Spoke with two sibs Tuesday and left messages with the other three.
Nobody lost power.
Nobody's home suffered damage.
Nobody got flooded out.
Good news.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Pink Out' for big game at Hawkins Stadium

Going to Friday night's big game at Hawkins Stadium?
Think about wearing pink.
Fans of the nation’s No. 1 Manatee Hurricanes are asked to join the “Pink Out” at the showdown of unbeatens with the Palmetto Tigers, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Fans are also asked to bring non-perishable food items to the game for the Food Bank of Manatee.
For details, call Laurie Kitchie at 714-7300, ext. 2023. Or email

If you delivered the Bradenton Herald as a youngster, we want to hear from you for our 90th birthday edition. Call me at 745-7055. Or email me at

A salute to Thomas “Skip” Hannon, chosen Manatee County Veteran of the Year by the Manatee Veterans Council. He’s commander of Manasota Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association and the Mount Vernon Veterans Club.

Check out the Sertoma Club of Bradenton’s Pumpkin Patch at Westgate Shopping Center, 4201 Manatee Ave. W., 2-9 p.m., Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Call 941-896-7196.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

'Bayshore Bot Blast' a robotic Saturday

What's a bot blast?
Find out Saturday morning at Bayshore High School, which will host the “Bayshore Bot Blast."
It's a VEX Robotics competition featuring more than 30 student teams from high schools and middle schools around the state. At least four are expected from Manatee County.
VEX Robotics competitions require students to design and build functional robots to perform particular tasks. This year's competitions -- the “VEX Sack Attack” -- call on students to design robots that can pick up cloth sacks and deposit them in specific scoring areas on a 12-foot by 12-foot playing field.
Saturday’s VEX Robotics competition can qualify students for national and world competitions.
Teams will be coming from as far away as Miami and Fort Lauderdale, as well as Tampa, Brandon and other areas.
Former NASA shuttle launch director Michael Leinbach will be a featured guest judge. He is presently director of human spaceflight operations at the United Launch Alliance, headquartered in Centennial, Colo.
Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 9:45 a.m. with competition set to begin 10 a.m. and the event will conclude with an awards ceremony at approximately 5 p.m.
For more details, call Bayshore High health, applied science and engineering teacher Martha Jane Proulx at 941-751-7004, ext. 2078.
The school is at  5401 34th St. W., Bradenton.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Marching bands Saturday night at Hawkins Stadium

Looking to do something cool  Saturday night?
Maybe listen to some good band music and help our community's youngsters?
Then check out the Florida Bandmasters Association District 11 marching band festival Saturday at Manatee High School's Hawkins Stadium.
It's the event's 24th year at MHS, 902 33rd St. Ct. W., Bradenton.
The event begins at 5 p.m.
More than 1,300 high school students representing 15 bands from six counties are scheduled to perform, including Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to see our local high school bands at their best,"  said Jim Bruce, Manatee's longtime director of bands. "The bands work all season toward this event and we encourage the community to come out and support the kids."
Each band is judged for its music, marching, percussion, general effect and auxiliary.
Tickets are $7 for ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 6-12, free for those under 6 and will be available at the festival.
Parking is $3 per car.
Call MHS at 941-713-7300 for more details.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Riverwalk a potpourri of sights and sounds

Hey, can ya fish here?” asked the 40ish fellow, his coffee cup steaming in the bright morning sunlight. “It don’t say nothin’ about no fishin’.”
That was my intro to the Bradenton Riverwalk at 8:45 a.m. Friday.
The grand opening of the $6.2 million project came and went the day before. The hospitality tents were gone. TV crews, too.
Now it was just folks checking out 1.5-mile-long public park that hugs the Manatee River from the Green Bridge to Riverside Drive East.
Walkers. Joggers. Bicyclists. Elderly couples. Young families.
And one guy looking for a spot to wet a hook near the kayak-and-canoe launch opposite the Manatee Memorial Hospital parking annex.
Turned out there’s a fishing pier around the corner, but one of Bradenton’s finest patrolling the premises told me the man was good to go where he was.
Indeed, Riverwalk appears to have something for everybody, young, old and in between.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chowdown for Charity Oct. 25 at Riverhouse

Jim Davis is promoted to deputy fire marshal at West Manatee Fire Rescue District.

Hizzoner Wayne Poston, State Sen. Mike Bennett, Bay News 9’s Summer Smith and CTQ’s Maverick Johnson will judge the 4th annual Chowdown for Charity, 6-8 p.m. Oct. 25, at the Riverhouse, 995 Riverside Dr., Palmetto.
The Anna Maria Oyster Bar and nine participating restaurants will present their best dishes for the panel and guests, who will also be asked to vote for their favorite dishes.
Tommy Klauber of Pattigeorge’s and Polo Grill and Ray Arpke of Euphemia Haye will judge desserts prepared by the culinary students at MTI, Manatee and Southeast High Schools and USF Sarasota-Manatee.
The fundraiser supports ProStart, which assists culinary education programs in Manatee County, and the Food Bank of Manatee.
Guests who bring canned goods for the Food Bank will also receive beverage tickets.

West Manatee Fire Rescue District promoted inspector Jim Davis to deputy fire marshal and firefighter Keith Miller to fire inspector.

Check out the Hanbury Haunted Barn, 1703 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton, 7-10 p.m., Oct. 26-27 for a good scare and a great cause. Donations are $5 and go to the Gulf Shore Animal League.
Call Cheryl Hanbury at 941-962-6695.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tax Collector's humanitarian award makes debut

Congrats to Susan Profant, recipient of the Manatee County Tax Collector's office first Lillie Robinson Humanitarian Award for Community Service.
A staff member for 23 years, Profant is the office paralegal and has devoted untold hours pro bono to helping those in need. She supports Guardian Ad Litem and is active with the Paralegal Association. She has served as a volunteer and boardmember of the North River Pregnancy Center for 10 years. As a member of Emmanual Baptist Church, she plays the piano for worship services and teaches Sunday School.
Lillie Robinson was a former Tax Collector employee and role model for her community service, according to Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr.
"She gave financially, volunteered many hours and served with a giving spirit for many years," he said.
When Robinson passed, the Tax Collector staff voted to start an annual award to be presented to an office employee who mirrored the award namesake's devotion.
"We are very proud to recognize Susan Profant and her excellent service to Manatee County," Burton said.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Giving a Myakka City critter a helping hand

It had been an idyllic Monday afternoon outside Myakka City where I'd been talking to folks for an upcoming story.
The glimpses of critters and wildlife made it so.
Hawks on fenceposts.
Bald eagle overhead.
Cattle grazing.
Horses loping across sprawling ranches.
A turtle parked in the middle of Clay Gully Road.
There I was driving home about 6 p.m. when I saw this silhouette on the asphalt.
At first I thought it was an armadillo lying there after being hit by another motorist.
Slowing down, I saw it was actually a turtle.
An unharmed turtle at that, but not for long if it dawdled on the back country road.
So I pulled over, figuring I'd give it an assist.
But first I had to check.
Last time I tried to help a turtle, it turned out to be a snapping turtle on Lockwood Ridge Road.
When I went to pick it up, that sucker snapped at me and I jumped five feet in the air.
Not this turtle, thank goodness.
It was a harmless gopher tortoise.
So I picked it up by the sides of its shell and carried it to the grass on the south side of the road.
Then I resumed my drive home, content I'd done a good deed for Mother Nature and one of Myakka City's family of critters.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Getting a grip on Causeway horse manure issue

You’re driving along a nicely manicured highway somewhere, admiring the well kept landscape when you spot the signs.
Though they’re intermittently posted, they get your attention.
“$1,000 Fine For Littering.”
I guess they must work.
But how do they catch offenders?
I’ve always wondered about that.
What brings it up are the City of Bradenton’s efforts to gird its loins and deal with the effective removal of roadside debris of a decidedly malodorous kind.
Horse manure on the Palma Sola Causeway.
It’s been a messy ongoing problem, what with certain horse riders taking advantage of a good thing at a convenient locale like few others around Florida.
So officials from the city, state and Keep Manatee Beautiful have decided enough is enough.
They’re not going to take it anymore.
Pick up your pony’s poop!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Manatee's Got Talent win sweet birthday gift

Manatee High’s Randi Jackson celebrated her Sweet 16th in boffo fashion last Monday evening. She won the Manatee’s Got Talent school competition singing Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” at the Davis Performing Arts Center.
Holly Rizzo took second singing “Gimme Gimme” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
Cellist Luis Garcia and pianist Jun Cho collaborated on Yiruma’s “River Flows Through You” for third.
Faculty members had a blast strutting their stuff, too.
Spoofing “Physical,”  “Eye of the Tiger,” and “Chariots of Fire” were Kelly Althof, Linda Boone, Vicki Duquette, Nanette Johnston, Charles Kennedy, Katy Knowles, Jennifer Lages, Karen Marshall, Michelle McCarthy, Cyndi McMahon, Lori O’Leary, Michael Perez and Pat Zalo.
Not to be outdone, five Manatee men went drag as the Spice Girls. Performing “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life” were Ray Briggs as Ginger Spice, Anthony Losada as Scary Spice, Vince Trinci as Sporty Spice, Colby West as Posh Spice and Steve Gulash, the Hurricanes burly defensive line coach, as Baby Spice.
Judges were Tess Chawi, Paul Fournier and Rick Kerby
Melissa Trippy
was emcee.

The Community Coalition on Homelessness urgently needs volunteers to work its reception center. Call Cheryl Hedger at 941-747-1509, ext. 334. Or email:

The Manatee School For the Arts will put on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical classic "Oklahoma" Oct. 18, 19, 26 and 27.
Performances are 7 p.m.
Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for general admission to MSA, 700 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.
For details, contact Kelly Hillman at 941-721-6800, ext. 1095 or

The Manatee County Gator Club is sponsoring a charter bus to Gainesville Oct. 20 for what is shaping up to be a monster SEC East showdown between South Carolina and Florida at the Swamp.
The tariff is $40 per person, but does not include a game ticket.
Seats are limited and are first come, first served.
For details, visit Or email Dave Bolen at

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Get jump on Halloween at Palmetto Historical Park

Want to get a jump on Halloween with the kids?
Check this out.
Palmetto Historical Park and Manatee County Agricultural Museum will be celebrating Halloween 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 20. There will be trick-or-treating, crafts, games, face painting, a tattoo parlor, fortune telling and lots of other spooky happenings.
While in the park, you can visit the Wild West and train to be a Super Hero.
There will be a costume contest sponsored by Palmetto Publix at 6:30 pm.
Test your skill at the Pirates-Marauders Speed Pitch, proceeds to benefit family programming in the park. Decorated buildings in the park will be sponsored by the Ellenton-Parrish Lions Club, North River Kiwanis and the Manatee Riverside Rotary Club.
Demetrio’s will be selling $2 pizza and drinks and Alex’s Lemonade Stand will be raising funds for childhood cancer research with baked goods and lemonade.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
Call 941-721-2034 or 941-723-4991.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Signs, fines should get horse riders attention

Remember the last time the issue of critters on the Palma Sola Causeway beaches and walkways and the mess they're prone to leave came to a head?
It was about seven years ago and the issue involved dogs, primarily.
One City of Bradenton council member's suggestion was to post disposable sanitary bags for folks to use and clean up after their pets.
Not a big problem to get one's hands on -- or around -- when you consider it.
This time that same problem is a little bigger.
A lot bigger, actually.
Horse manure on the causeway.
Monday a group of state and local officials decided it's time to ramp up implementation of anti-littering laws in order to deal with riders who fail to clean up after their horses along the causeway and its beaches.
That includes putting up signs for horseback riders to do the right thing.
Evidently enough of them need reminding.
Pictures taken by area residents of horse manure on causeway beaches and walkways offer graphic proof.
That doesn't account for the business the horses leave behind them in the water.
What to do?
Providing disposable shovels is impractical, but riders should get the idea.
If not, the slapping offenders with some hefty fines should do it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Citrizens has homeowners in real predicament

Caught between a rock and a hard place.
Never has the idiom rung so true than now for homeowners in our community who are policyholders with Citizens Property Insurance.
The insurer of last resort.
Ah, yes.
Once upon a time that was a comforting premise to those of us who couldn’t get homeowner’s coverage otherwise.
Not so much anymore.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Saturday events going on around community

North Manatee Kiwanis’s first 5K Run/Walk-and-NFL Play 60 Children’s Event is 8 a.m. Saturday at Palmetto’s newly restored Sutton Park. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. There will be food, music, raffle drawings and awards, too.
For details call Barbara Barnett at 941-526-7750. Or email Barbara

The annual Kiwanis Classic Kar-B-Q will be cranking 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.
Hosted by the Manatee Sunrise Kiwanis Club and sponsored by the Early Learning Coalition, there will be classic cars, children’s events, food, craft vendors and live music from a boffo lineup that includes the Groove, Venturas, Big Daddy, Crushing Myrna, Katalyst, Whiskey Blind, Wikked Jester and Gypsy King Band.
Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children.
For details, email, or visit

There’s a 6 p.m. paddle-out Saturday at Manatee Beach in memory of Rich Salick, a surfing legend from Anna Maria Island who, despite a series of medical issue, co-founded the successful National Kidney Foundation Pro Am Surf Festival in Cocoa Beach with brother Phil and won induction into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame.
He died last July at 62.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

AARP can wait for my renewal check

AARP is a trip.
The American Association of Retired Persons, a nationally known advocacy organization for folks aged 50,  mailed me a membership card about the time I hit that milestone.
That was 12 years ago, coming up on 13.
I paid the dues, signed the petitions, read the periodic magazines and tried to stay current on the issues they brought to its membership's attention.
Wish I could say the same about them keeping current on its own membership.
Several months ago, probably longer, AARP was mailing me notices that my membership was about to expire and it was time for me to re-up.
But it wasn't time.
My membership doesn't expire until December.
The AARP card in my wallet says so.
So I'd toss their mail in the garbage.
Yet it kept coming, each form letter more urgent than the one before.
I got tired of it.
One day I photocopied my membership card, circled it and drew an arrow to the expiration date and mailed the copy to AARP.
It didn't do any good.
Not long ago I got another form letter from them.
AARP was cancelling my membership.
I guess it didn't matter I still had three months to go, according to my AARP card.
To heck with them, I decided.
Sure enough, I've begun receiving more mail seeking my renewal signature and check, too.
Got one just the other day, in fact.
Don't hold your breath, AARP.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Patch another sign October's here

What tells you October is here?
Cooler temperatures and breezes like we enjoyed Monday.
Blue skies with wispy clouds carrying the feel of fall.
The third annual Pumpkin Patch, Oct. 13-31 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 3200 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
Nearly 2,000 pumpkins of all shapes and sizes with a variety of autumn decorations will be on sale. Proceeds benefit youth ministries and services to the hearing impaired in partnership with the Sertoma Club of Bradenton.
Senior Pastor Jim Rosenburg invites families and groups to check out the inventory of pumpkins and bring cameras to the harvest-themed patch. 
Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Call 941-747-3704 for more details.
Or visit

Friday, September 21, 2012

Not feeling buzz over iPhone 5's debut

Long lines of people queued up outside area stores before dawn.
Some of them got there as early as midnight.
All were filled with expectation.
What gives?
Take your pick:
1.) Lady Gaga concert tickets went on sale.
2.) Unemployed job seekers hoping for a break.
3.) A practice run for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when hordes of shoppers traditionally go bonkers, raiding stores for early Christmas deals as if their lives depend on it.
If you said No. 3, you’re close.
Last Friday morning untold hundreds — thousands? — of eager Manatee County consumers were hot to buy Apple’s new iPhone 5, ponying up $200 and twice that for the latest smart phone with all the bells and whistles.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

There's a new state trooper in this family

 Judy Larrabee and son, new Trooper Jeremy Larrabee.

A salute to Jeremy Larrabee, a member of the Florida Highway Patrol’s 122nd graduating class. On hand for the ceremonies in Tallahassee were proud parents Ken and Judy and girlfriend Lauren Ceruti.

The 5th Volley for the Cure Fundraiser is 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at Southeast High’s Buzz Narbutt Gym. The Seminole spikers host the Manatee Hurricanes varsity and JV in the annual breast cancer research fundraiser that will pack the place with pink — pink volleyball, pink uniforms, ribbons and officials T-shirts and whistles, too.
For details, contact Lisa Pratt at

Remember Heather Koch?
She’s Dr. Heather Crawford now.
The former three-time state weightlifting champion at Lakewood Ranch High School has joined Hornback Chiropractic and Wellness, P.A. in Lakewood Ranch.
She married Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy Randall Crawford last April.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Beatles music comes to life Oct. 3 at MHS

Like Beatles music?
The Manatee High School Academy for the Performing Arts is hosting the "Liverpool Legends" Beatles tribute band 7 p.m., Oct.3 in the Davis Theater.
Students from the school's band, chorus, and orchestra programs will be performing with this group during several pieces.
The "Liverpool Legends" are a part of the "Help Keep Music Alive" program, the brainchild of Louise Harrison, sister of late Beatle, George Harrison.
Visit for more information on the band.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Student tickets are $10 with student ID.
Call Linda Boone at 714-7300, ext. 2093 for tickets or information.
Or email:
You can find more information at the following links:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dead fish? Buzzards? There's goes neighborhood

We had a stinky situation in our neighborhood. Literally. For the past week or more, the tilapia in our subdivision's lake have gone belly up and been floating on the surface dead. Not only did it create quite a stench, but it brought buzzards to our shores by the dozens. Ugh, what a scene. On a recent Sunday our homeowners association president and another neighbor walked the lake perimeter with rakes and big plastic bags to try to get rid of the dead fish. By the time the pair reached the back of our house, they said they had picked up 60. And they still had the other half of the lakeside to go. What was causing this dilemma? They weren't sure, but suspected someone had dumped something poisonous into the drink. If so, what a rotten thing to do. What the men weren't able to rake up and take away, the buzzards have tried to do their part, scarfing up the dead tilapia as they come to the surface and float to the shoreline. We love our wildlife, but what unwelcome guests.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Habitat official challenges Fitzgerald's claim

If Keith Fitzgerald wants to make a campaign issue over Cortez Landings in his race against Republican congressman Vern Buchanan, he won't do it with the help of Jim Frame and Manatee County Habitat for Humanity.

The Democratic challenger was quoted in Thursday's Bradenton Herald accusing his opponent of "'misleading' Habitat for Humanity in a questionable real estate deal."

Fitzgerald was referring to the East Bradenton property Habitat bought for $1.4 million in 2009 from Ed Buchanan, the Sarasota lawmaker's brother, and Cortez Landings LLC, among whose owners is Sandra Buchanan, the congressman's wife.

In 2010, Vern Buchanan used the Habitat mortgage as collateral for a $3.875 Bank of America loan.

Frame, president of Habitat's board of directors, has no problem with Buchanan's business decision concerning the mortgage and, furthermore, said Fitzgerald's claim the nonprofit was "misled" in its initial purchase is false.

"On the matter of our purchase of Cortez Landings ... from Cortez Landings LLC, I would say to any reporter that on behalf of the board of directors of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity that we do not believe we were misled by anyone in purchasing the aforementioned property," he said.

Though the appraised value of the property is now a third of what it was three years ago, Habitat is content with the still-undeveloped land on which it hopes to build homes for the poor.

"The use we intended it for is as good today as it was four years ago," Frame said.

The conressman's campaign manager said his opponent's statement is a blatant distortion.

"Fitzgerald should be ashamed of himself for dragging Habitat through the mud in a sleazy and now proven to be dishonest attempt to smear Vern," Sally Tibbetts said.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

'Red Out' at Booker-Southeast game

Angela Skinner of Venice won the Florida Highwaymen Robert Butler print drawing Sept. 4 at the Manatee County Agricultural Museum and Palmetto Historical Park.

Friday night's Booker-Southeast game will feature an American Heart Association “Red Out” to heighten awareness about heart disease — the No. 1 killer of all Americans.
Red AHA “Rock the Beat”T-shirts will be sold at the school and at Kiker stadium for $15.
Admission is half price if you wear it at the game.
All proceeds go to AHA research and education.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Vernon DeSear joined Veenie Goodson on the judge’s panel in Hoopeston, Ill., for the 2012 National Sweetheart Pageant, featuring all first runners-up from the Miss America state pageants.
There were 41 contestants in the five-day event.
Miss Virginia, Desiree Williams was the winner.
DeSear, a Manatee Memorial Hospital vice-president, was pageant director of judging.
Goodson was a four-time pageant winner and co-founder of DeSoto’s Sisterhood of the Crown.

The City of Bradenton Fire Department is losing a couple of veterans.
Training director/Capt. Tom Woods (29.5 years) and Battalion Chief Glenn Hudson (28.5) retire at the end of the month.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Four names, four friends, four fallen heroes

Russell Randolph held the homemade memorial with tenderness throughout Tuesday's annual Tribute to Heroes remembrance service at Palmetto's Sutton Park.
Small black-and-white photos were attached to four American flags on a small wooden stand.
The men in the photos were Jonathan Ielpi, Ray Downey and brothers Peter and Thomas Langone.
All but Thomas Langone, a New York City policeman, were New York firefighters. Downey was a widely respected deputy chief.
All were killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
All were personal friends of Randolph, a retired firefighter himself.
He knew the Langones and Ielpi when they were all volunteer firefighters in Long Island together.
"This day is about them," said the 51-year-old. "I like to remember them the way they were, four family men, four devoted guys, four brothers I miss very much."
Randolph was already in Bradenton when 9/11 took place, but those men are never far from his thoughts.
He builds a new homemade memorial every year.
"I usually leave it at the 9/11 Memorial (at Rossi Park), but this one I'm going to keep for next year," said the firefighter for 22 years, including stints with the Braden River and Southern Manatee Fire Districts.
Something Randolph's nephew did to honor them still gives him goosebumps.
Austin Slate, a Bayshore High School graduate, was a "green shirt" aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, one of the crew who handle the catapult and arresting gear and do aircraft maintenance, too.
He knew of his uncle's feelings for those four men.
So during the war in Iraq, Slate wrote their names
on the ordnance of an F-18 Super Hornet before one mission.
When the pilot saw this and asked the young carrier crewman what was up, Slate told him about his uncle and his four fallen friends.
"The pilot told Austin he'd be happy to drop 343 of them --- one for every firefighter killed on 9/11," Randolph said.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Answers must follow McGonegal resignation

Tim McGonegal fell on his sword Monday.
He had to.
It was the only way to go for the Manatee County school superintendent, whose resignation effective immediately was announced at Monday evening's school board meeting.
The dramatic development was just the latest in a chain of events that has staggered the school district and left the community wondering, What's next?
Last Wednesday when McGonegal announced his retirement, there was little or no surprise.
Considering the mounting problems he had been trying to deal with since he took over in January 2009 --- budget cuts, a fractured school board, personnel problems, etc., etc., etc. --- it made sense.
What happened two days later did not.
When the other shoe dropped on Friday, it did so with a resounding crash.
A $3.4 million budget deficit?
McGonegal's forte was his financial acumen.
So how something like this could happen on his watch is difficult to understand.
Fifty-eight new teachers are hired and that's not calculated into the budget?
Given the questions that have arisen over time about how the district spends our tax dollars, this egregious oversight absolutely warrants an audit from top to bottom.
If ever there was a crisis of confidence in how our school system conducts its business, this is it.
McGonegal said Friday he'd made his decision to retire long before there was a hint of this whopping discrepancy.
One had nothing to do with the other, he said.
Human nature being what it is, people will suspect otherwise.
So McGonegal did what he had to do.
He fell on his sword.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Being superintendent one tough gig

Who would want this job?
That’s the question which keeps coming to mind after Tim McGonegal announced Wednesday he’s retiring in Febuary as Manatee County’s school superintendent.
After nearly four years on the firing line, McGonegal is 54 but looks more like 64.
A tough gig, being our school superintendent.
It’s interesting that Wayne Blanton, the Florida School Boards Association executive director, anticipates 35 to 45 quality applicants for the job if a national search was held.
Being a glutton for punishment better be one of their bona fides.

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