Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Big cat makes a scene at Coquina Beach

There's going to be a retirement bash Wednesday night for Jay Moyles, the affable chief of Manatee County Marine Rescue.

The stories? There will be many, collected over a 31-year career.

Like this one.

Jay was in a lifeguard stand at the south end of Coquina Beach when there was screaming.

Not an unusual sound to his ears, which were always attuned to someone in distress.

Except it wasn't one person.

There were lots of people screaming --- and running.

Running right toward Jay's lifeguard stand.

"I get down to see what the heck was going on --- and there's a guy walking a tiger!" he said. "It was a circus guy with bleach blond hair and this tiger was huge."

Keeping a safe distance from the feline, Jay asked the gent what exactly did he think he was doing?

The man said he loved the beach and the water and so did his big cat.

"Can he go for a swim?" the fellow asked.

Uhhhhh, no.

"I told the guy we don't allow dogs on the beach, never mind a tiger."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Primary a pain in the ears

My desk phone rings plenty.
Mostly folks with story ideas, a tip or a column item.
Some want information.
Or just chew me out.
It goes with the territory.
But I did receive a phone call the other day that threw me for a moment.
It was a campaign rep for one of the candidates in Florida’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday.
He identified himself and said he wanted to tell me about his White House office-seeker.
Hold on a second, pardner, I said.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on Bradenton.com.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Southeast baseball Beast Feast Feb 3

Get your grub on at the annual Southeast Beast Feast, 2:30-8 p.m. Feb. 3 at the school cafeteria.The BBQ benefit for coach Dan Durrance’s Seminoles baseball team is co-sponsored by BJ’s Wholesale, Manasota Plumbing and Sam’s Club.
Call 741-3366, ext. 2217. Or email dadurrance@gmail.com.

When Palmetto football coach Dave Marino played at Rutgers in the 1980s, guess who was a grad assistant? New Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano.

The 13th annual Manatee Hurricanes Baseball Steakout & Reunion is Feb. 3 at McKechnie Field. Call head coach Dwayne Strong at 725-2293. Or Bruce Braithwaite at 720-9224.

Well done to Saint Joseph Catholic School’s winners in the Knights of Columbus Council #5604 Spelling Bee.
Lexi Boynes and MaryAnn Placheril went 1-2 in grades 7/8.
Ben Cendana and Elijah Gelongo were 1-2 in grades 5/6.
Not to be outdone, seventh-graders Leah Roddenberry, Mark Causin and Nate Ellis went 1-2-3 in the annual VFW essay contest.

Remember the national anthem auditions 9 a.m. Saturday at McKechnie Field, 1611 Ninth St. W.
Call Kris Koch at 747-3031, ext. 4361. Or email kris.koch@pirates.com.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on Bradenton.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

McKechnie auditions too good for Tyler

Steven Tyler's abominable singing (if you can call it that) of our national anthem at last Sunday's AFC championship game got me to thinking.

The rock icon burnout would've bombed at McKechnie Field this Saturday morning.

That's when the Pirates and Marauders are holding auditions for singers good enough to perform the Star Spangled Banner.

He isn't.

Tyler probably would've put people in the stands for a Grapefruit League game, but so what.

Guaranteed they would've booed his skinny rear end out of the ballpark.

But enough about him.

The national anthem auditions are always a fun experience at McKechnie.

Unless you happen to be one of those unlucky people who forgets the words in mid-song.

That hasn't happened a lot in the years I've covered them.

Most folks perform smoothly, despite the elements (seems it's always windy) and the funky PA system setup where singers can hear themselves like an echo.

You get all types auditioning, too.

The truly talented types who make the cut year after year.

The young lady who talks in a whisper, yet belts out our national anthem like a virtuoso.

The woman who is out for her regular morning run, hears the singing and decides to try out herself.

The waitress you've been served by so many times, yet you didn't know she could sing like that.

I wonder if she'll be there again Saturday.

I'm looking forward to finding out.

They'll all put Steven what's-his-face to shame.

"Oooooh, say, can you seeeee ... "

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fair was one heck of a party, all right

This was two weeks ago, the Monday before the start of the 96th annual Manatee County Fair.

Fair manager Dan West was running around the fairgrounds, taking calls, making calls, checking on this and that while he got back into his SUV.

Before he took off, though, he said something that said, he's got the right outlook on this 11-day affair.

What, Dan West worry?

"You know how you plan a party, making sure everything is ready, and checking things and re-checking things before it starts?" he said. "That's what the fair is like --- one big party. And when it starts and everybody shows up, you join right in and hope everybody has a good time."

Sounds like it was a whale of a party.

A record total of 172,400 people went to the fair, which wrapped up last Sunday, shattering the old high of 155,000 set by the 2006 fair.

The terrific weather throughout made a huge difference.

It used to be when the fair rolled around, rain came with it.

You could count on it.

Not this year.

The showers that fell one evening last week hardly mattered.

I'm sure a lot of folks who were outside during the past week-and-a-half would stop, take a moment to bask in the sunshine say, yes, it's another good day for the fair.

My family and I were at the fair during one of those glorious days.

Walked all around. Ate fair food. Rode the ferris wheel.

Had a real good time.

Yeah, Dan West and those fair folks sure threw a heck of a party, all right.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A man to be admired, emulated, mourned

A loving dad and husband.
A good coach.
A super neighbor.
Don Vautrinot was all those and more, attest friends and members of the Bradenton Christian School family.
A man to be admired.
A man to be emulated.
A man to be mourned.
Last Wednesday Mr. Vautrinot was found dead after an apparent weight-lifting accident at home, a tragedy that tears at the fabric of our community.
That his daughters Katie, 12, and sister Lauren, 10, discovered their dad like that is unimaginably painful.
So is such a sudden loss for his wife, Lynne.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on Bradenton.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rowlett's drum line makes big noise

Big ups to the Strikers, Rowlett Magnet Elementary School’s drum line.
Ably coached in cool and cadence by music specialist Cathy Noeth, they strutted their stuff in red berets and shades and brought down the house during the Manatee County Fair’s second annual drum line competition.
The Strikers are Katia Armonda, Jack Barnard, Jayden Bayne, Luke Brunner, Dyjore Holmes, Eli Jeffs, Aliyah Lopes, Mark Lozado, Victoria Thomas and Leland Wheeler.

A salute to Bayshore High senior Olivia Trevorrow, who received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

Speaking of crowd pleasing performances by our town’s students, “Yes, We Can Dance!” returns March 24 at State College of Florida’s Neel Performing Arts Center.
The fourth annual showcase will have a 3 p.m. matinee and a 7:30 performance, featuring high school teams from Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto, Southeast and Manatee School for the Arts along with middle school teams from Braden River, Haile, Lee and Sugg.
The event has been an annual hit, but needs business/organization sponsorships to continue.
Email Helen Dolbec at bhsmabear@verizon.net.

Props to Kevin Thielen, a new Eagle Scout for Troop 181 at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church.
The Southeast High senior planned, fundraised and built a recovery cage for raptors at Crowley Nature Museum.
Mark, Charlotte and Michael are proud.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on Bradenton.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Drum line camaraderie trumps competition

It was the coolest thing and kept happening over and over.

During Tuesday night's high school drum line competition at the Manatee County Fair, one drum line would be performing, singing out a chant as they rocked, rattled and rolled --- and the other drum lines would call out the chants right along with them from the stands.

For instance, Lakewood Ranch was up, performing and chanting.

Nearby Southeast chanted right with them, waving their arms, bopping along.

Manatee, too.

So did Bayshore over on the other side of the Bright House Main Stage tent.

What gives?

Bob Schaer, Ranch's estimable band director, indulged me.

"All these kids know each other and respect what everybody else does," he said. "The drum line world is a family. No matter what school you're from, they call and cheer for each other. It's very cool."

So "competition" is a misnomer, because it's more about camaraderie.

That was evidenced, as well, by the high- and low-fives drum line members from the Ranch and Braden River exchanged as the latter finished performing and left the stage area.

Bayshore got the same warm reception after its performance.

"These kids like seeing other schools and what they're doing," said Danny Boyd, the Golden Regiment's new band director. "They're all doing the same thing and they respect how much work it takes to get where they're at."

Even when it came down to determining the night's winner -- judges used a decibel meter to gauge each drum line's level of crowd support -- each team cheered for the other.

Southeast was the champion, but all those drum lines were champs Tuesday night.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fair weather good for grass, ducks

When the Manatee County Fair nears, historically it brings rainy weather, too.
Charles Panacek is well aware of the quirky phenomenon.
It happens here and at other fairs when his Belle City Amusements, Inc., rolls into another town, especially during those midwest summers.
“Farmers love to see us when they haven’t had rain for awhile,” he quipped

Big ups to Amy Whittington, Danielle Williams, Emily Egan,Christopher Lawless, Jason Besse and Stephen Desch, Ultra Mixed team winners in the 2012 Ragnar Relay Race from Miami to Key West.
Starting at 1 p.m. last Friday, they helped run 198.5 miles in 26:11.12 --- and then crashed.
“They were too pooped to party,” said Beth Egan, Emily’s mom.

Just as Juan Roldan, Iraq veteran and Wounded Warrior, was settling into his new Parrish home, he went into the Bay Pines VA hospital for aanother surgery on Jan. 3.
A double amputee, Roldan faces 12 weeks of recuperation and rehab.

Remember the 13th annual Manatee Hurricanes Baseball Steakout & Reunion, 5-9 p.m. Feb. 3 at McKechnie Field. Call head coach Dwayne Strong at 725-2293 or Bruce Braithwaite at 720-9224.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on Bradenton.com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What was commissioner thinking?

I don't know about you, but if I cause a fender bender on a major roadway, I'm not leaving the scene.

Even if the damage is slight.

Especially for a haircut appointment.

Which is tantamount to the little mis-adventure Commissioner Donna Hayes got herself caught up in Wednesday.

The 69-year-old East Manatee resident and prominent Manatee County Republican rear-ended another driver on State Road 70, gave the other motorist her contact information and told her she had to leave because she was late for an appointment.

At the hairdresser.

Well, excuse us.

Evidently, the Florida Highway Patrol was neither impressed nor sympathetic, even after Hayes reportedly took ill at the hairdresser and an ambulance was summoned, taking her to Blake Medical Center.

She was charged with careless driving and failure to immediately report a vehicle crash.

Hayes deserves ridicule for that stunt.

Now, I understand it's common for drivers involved in a minor fender bender to exchange the pertinent information and take care of business without involving law enforcement.

It happened to me and a neighbor years ago, we settled up no problem and no police were necessary.

But that was our quiet neighborhood street, not S.R. 70.

If it had happened there, I'm staying until everything is squared away -- and that includes the FHP.

Bug out for a haircut appointment?

Yeah, right.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ten winners for my (wife's) recipe book

Two years ago, the Manatee County Fair culinary volunteer judges had 80 entries to taste and tally.

A year ago, they had 140.

Last Saturday, it was 220.

Think I tried every one of them.

Or close to it.

The competition gets better each year.

Tastier, too.

During Saturday's grueling 2.5 hours of tough duty, I jotted down my favorites. They're listed 1 to 10 because that's the order in which I tried them, not ranking.

In fact, my favorite was one of the last entries I munched on.

If you recognize yours, I hope you win an award at the Fair.

If you don't, I'd still love a recipe!

1.) Nagasaki syrup.

2.) Acorn squash pie.

3.) Pumpkin crunch.

4.) Christmas cranberry cookie.

5.) Banana nut muffin.

6.) Double chip rocky road brownie.

7.) Banana pudding pie.

8.) Chocolate chip cookie dough brownies.

9.) Apple sauce cake.

10.) Marvelous canoli cake.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bus video glimpse at best, worst

Kids laughing.

A girl and boy flirting.

Indistinct music from the radio.

There wasn’t anything unusual happening aboard Manatee County School District bus No. 560 as it headed west on State Road 64 near Walmart with the surveillance video camera rolling Thursday afternoon.

How quickly calm became chaos for 26 Braden River Middle School students, most of whom would be hospitalized before the day was done.

A day they and their families won’t forget for a long, long time.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on Bradenton.com.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

From DeSoto queen to Miss America?

When Ellie Ohlman’s reign as DeSoto queen ends in April, that will not be the end of the pageant trail for the University of South Florida freshman and future DeSoto queens.
For the first time in the pageant’s 70-plus years, the DeSoto queen is eligible to vie for Miss Florida.
And if they win that, it’s onto Miss America.
Vernon DeSear, a two-time national judge for the Miss America Pageant and former Miss Florida Pageant vice-president, said the Miss America Pageant has expanded its qualifying program to include fair and festival pageant winners, not just the traditional 50 state pageant winners.
That also means reigning Miss Manatee County Fair Queen Tiffany Elder and her successors could vie for Miss Florida if the Manatee River Fair Association chooses to sponsor its 16-21-year-old "Miss" division winner.
"They’re looking into it," said DeSear, a Manatee Memorial Hospital vice-president.
The Miss Florida pageant is July in St. Petersburg.

James Haddon a winter resident from Gaines, Mich., is 91.
He and Corinne have been married 47 years.

Lakewood Ranch High School’s Silver Stars dance team performed during the Discover Orange Bowl halftime show.
They are captain Melanie Hahn, co-captain Jessica Goodwin, Danielle Calabrese, Caitlin Currey, Keeley Daily, Isabella Giacalone, Rachel Gross, Casey Henshaw, Michelle Jackson, Brooke Kiser, Heather Krizov, Kylee McKinney, Kelsey McVaugh, Tyrese Taylor and Samantha Thomas. Hope Hahn is coach.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on Bradenton.com.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ware's Creek is going to ... the hogs?

Just when we thought Ware's Creek was all set to be dredged out and straightened up minus any more fuss, the old channel is still being used as a dumping site.

For hog remains?


I've seen all sorts of refuse in the muck of Ware's Creek at low tide.

Patio furniture.

Rubber boots.

Plenty of beer cans. That's no surprise.

But wild hog remains?

How gross.

Bradenton City Councilman Pat Roff, whose home is on Virginia Drive on the channel's west side, said six carcasses have been dumped in the vicinity of the basin, just south of the Manatee Avenue Bridge.

Turkey vultures have been having feast.

He called it “unsanitary, unsightly, and certainly not civilized."

Roff might've included it stinks to high heaven, too.

Since wild hogs aren't part of the animal population in that part of Bradenton, it's a good bet they were caught in the rural parts of Manatee County east of the city.

That's natural.

But bringing their butchered remains all the way to Ware's Creek?

It doesn't make any sense.

Said City Attorney Bill Lisch, “Do we need to start a pig patrol?”


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Death breaks up lifelong rock duo

Larry Reinhardt. Mack Doss.

I can't think of one without the other.

What brings them to mind now is Reinhardt's passing Monday at 63.

I can only imagine how Doss is coping with the death of his lifelong friend, fellow guitarist and kindred spirit.

I met them years ago not long after I came to Bradenton in 1998 and wrote about them.

"Rhino," as Reinhardt was known, played with Iron Butterfly, an iconic rock group from the 1970s. "In A Gadda Da Vida" was their monster hit and defined that era.

Doss, played with Classics IV, known for their "Soft Southern rock" sound, with hits like "Traces" and "Spooky."

Those songs were part of the sound track of my life in college and in the early years afterward.

So it was a gas to meet Reinhardt and Doss, all of us in our 50s by then.

It was even sweeter to know and appreciate both were sons of Bradenton, who attended Southeast High School, then formed a successful local band, the Thunderbeats, before moving onto the big time.

Yet they never forgot their roots, playing gigs around town as Rhino & Doss.

One October a few years ago, they returned to Southeast, spoke to a first-year guitar class and were besieged by autograph requests. Afterward they jammed for Southeast's Renaissance students in the school theater.

The response was overwhelming.

When the duo played, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," and then, "Spooky," the students sang along, waving their lighted cellphones.

"Man, I can't remember the last time I had this much fun," Reinhardt said.

So did Doss.

"These are kids are hip and they've all got 3.9 GPAs --- just like me and Rhino did," he joked.

I hope Doss is comforted by the memories of those good times.