Friday, March 30, 2012

Ware's Creek project takes foolish turn

So the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs bigger bags for the gunk in Ware’s Creek.
At some point, they’re going to take down the Ninth Avenue Bridge, too.
Now the dredging project is pushed back to May or June.
What year?
Don’t laugh.
You haven’t heard the half of it.
This infernal undertaking might be here for a long time.
Like a few more years.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Old neighbors meet again at McKechnie Field

While Carol McKechnie Montgomery signs her book, "The Deacon’s Daughter" at McKechnie Field Saturday, there might be a reunion with Bob Blalock.
The Blalocks were neighbors of the McKechnies, who lived in Bradenton from 1947 until 1965 when Bill, a Baseball Hall of Famer, died in 1965. His wife, Beryl, died a few years earlier.
It was McKechnie who influenced Blalock to chair the task force that kept the Pittsburgh Pirates downtown and developed the plans for the current McKechnie Field.
"Bill McKechnie was one of the finest men ever," Blalock said.

Deputy Police Chief J.J. Lewis is retiring after 27 years with the city of Bradenton.

Big doings for Brian and Julia Schultz’s family.
Daughter Jessica and husband Troy Langford gave the folks another grandchild, Noah David, whose siblings are Addison and Nathan. Younger daughter Kristine got engaged to Derrick Gorris.
And the ol’ man, a restaurateur for years, just hired on at the Salvation Army as kitchen/commissary manager.

Steve Ramsey sings our national anthem Friday at McKechnie and Heather Wainscott does the honors for the Pirates Grapefruit League home finale Saturday.

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Big benefit Sunday for 7-year-old wrestler

There will be a big rummage sale/car wash 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday for Isaiah Jackson, the 7-year-old still hospitalized and undergoing intense therapy after he was hit by a dump truck Feb. 15 while biking home from Kinnan Elementary School.
The event is being held jointly at the Shell Station and Courtesy Cleaners parking lots flanking 35th Street West and Manatee Avenue.
It is spearheaded by the Manatee Kids Club Wrestling program at Manatee High — Isaiah was a member — and being supported by numerous businesses and service clubs.
Proceeds will go toward defraying his family’s mounting medical bills.
Call 729-2529 or 941-879-717 for details.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giving thanks after Sunday morning scare

It was one of those moments where you truly say, there but for the grace of God go I.
I was on my way to Sunday morning mass at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Whitfield.
Running a little late, I didn't want to wait for the light at Tallevast Road and US 301 and turned north.
There was one car in front of me in the left-hand turn lane for the light at Whitfield Avenue and when we got the green arrow the driver took his time making the turn.
I thought about passing him on the outside, but changed my mind.
Why push my luck.
So I took my time.
Good thing.
The car was 20-25 yards ahead of me when it happened.
A station wagon suddenly drove onto Whitfield from a street on the north side.
I'm like, this isn't really happening, is it?
Unfortunately, yes.
The auto T-boned the station wagon with shuddering impact.
I stopped as did traffic coming from the other direction to see if anybody needed help.
Incredibly, both drivers seemed OK.
Stunned? Yes.
But OK.
Same for the passengers.
Eventually I drove onto church, saying a silent prayer as I went.
That could've been me.
Thankfully, it wasn't.
I was driving my wife's SUV.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A 17-year-old like any one of our own

He texted at all hours and enjoyed playing sports video games.
High school chemistry was a bear, but he still planned on college.
He wanted to be a pilot.
Trayvon Martin sounds like he would’ve been a typical 17-year-old in our community.
He could’ve been Robert Powell’s son.
He could’ve been James Thomas’ son, too.
Both fathers were among concerned local people who journeyed to Sanford to join a rally protesting the fatal shooting of Martin on Feb. 26 by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
A tragedy that’s ignited a nationwide furor resonates here.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Manatee Hurricane bound for Defiance College

Big ups to Manatee Hurricane Garrett Waiters, who has committed to Defiance College, a Division III program in Defiance, Ohio.
Located in northwest Ohio, the school was founded in 1850.
The MHS senior played left guard for coach Joe Kinnan’s 2011 Class 7A state football champions and is a pitcher/first baseman for coach Dwayne Strong’s baseball team.
Cheers from proud parents Frank and Kathy, brother Chris and the rest of Team Waiters extended family.

A bow to Henry Lawrence, new Florida Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

Don’t miss the Manatee Patchworkers Quilt Show, "Quilting By The River," 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at State College of Florida’s gymnasium building No. 17, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton.
Proceeds helped to provide funding "Quilts for Cruisers," a program that has provided 300-plus quilts to law enforcement to distribute to children.
Visit for details.

My man Terry Wilson is retiring after 31 years with the City of Bradenton fire department.

Speaking of fire departments, Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue District’s Board of Commissioners 2011 Employee Award recipients were:
Lt. Marc Morgan, Officer of the Year.
Derek Foss, Firefighter of the Year.
Kevin Harvill, Rookie of the Year.
Bookkeeper Debbie Hiser, Staff Employee of the Year.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to iron T-shirts a life's revelation

It is really and truly amazing what practical things you can still learn every day even at this stage in life.
That is, as a 62-year-old male who gave up the wilds of bachelordom for the comforts of married life two years ago.
There I was ironing my baseball T-shirts, recently unpacked for spring training.
Over all those years past, I'd just whip out a T-shirt and pull it on.
Not after I married Sherri.
"You can't wear that," was all she had to say. "It's wrinkled."
Out came the ironing board and iron.
I always ironed my Hawaiian shirts, but T-shirts?
I do now.
Anyway, I was ironing one of my T-shirts with "Phillies" across the chest the other day and ran the iron across the letters.
Bad move.
Some of the them got messed up and came off on the hot iron.
It didn't bother me too much, because I've always figured the shirt's not really mine until I either spill something on it --- like mustard at a ballgame --- or have an ironing mishap.
I've had way more of the former than the latter until this particular day.
After I was done, I tried scrubbing the paint off the hot iron under running water in the sink.
"What are you doing?" my wife said.
I told her and why.
Her next words were a revelation for me.
Not to mention my T-shirt collection.
"Next time try ironing your T-shirts inside out," Sherri said.
Where has she been all my life?
Don't ask.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Seven ballgames in seven days

Seven ballgames in seven days.
That was my plan for vacation last week and I managed to pull it off.
Saw more baseball in one week than I ever have in any spring training.
What prompted it was simple.
During spring trainings past, I'd leave the office at lunch for a game at nearby McKechnie Field, grab a hot dog and soda, watch a couple of innings then head back to work.
I'm sure a lot of us who work in Bradenton do the same thing.
Nuts to that.
This year I decided to do it differently and enjoy a week of spring training like all those other lucky baseball fans who come here just for the experience.
So I took a whole week off.
Went to McKechnie three times to see the Pirates play the Twins once and Phillies twice.
Got to Sarasota's new Ed Smith Stadium twice to see the Orioles play the Rays and the Pirates.
Then I did Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater twice to see the Phillies play the Tigers and Braves.
Phillies fan though I am, Bright House was way too crowded for my liking and my wife's.
Each game drew more than 9,000 fans.
Good for the Phillies.
Bad for fans like me who enjoy a little elbow room.
The new Ed Smith?
Very, very nice.
They definitely got the bang for their taxpayers bucks in that $30 million renovation.
It's spacious, got great sight lines and plenty of shade, handy this unusually hot spring.
I especially like the dining area and seating directly behind left field, an idea I'd be interested to see the Pirates try when they begin the $7 million renovation at McKechnie after the 2012 season.
Even without that, McKechnie's got something we didn't feel at either of the other two ballparks.
McKechnie Field's got a coziness to it that can't be beat.
There's no place like home.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Homeless Coalition director: cuts devastating

Adell Erozer didn’t hear McKechnie Field’s PA from the ballgame going on across the street.
She didn’t look up when a staffer entered her office to place more paperwork on her cluttered desk.
The executive director of the Community Coalition on Homelessness was absorbed by disturbing numbers on a printout lying on a work table at the Bill Galvano One Stop Center.
It showed the Florida Legislature’s brutal handiwork on the budget for the Department of Children and Families Homeless Programs.
"It’s devastating," Erozer said.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Win streak continues for Southeast FFA

Big ups to Southeast FFA’s Kaylee Betts, Zach Butler, Sammy Dittmann, Hunter Horne, Francisco Lopez and Andrew Merrill, district land judging champions for the 13th straight year.

Circle Sunday, March 18 on the calendar.
That’s the date for Sean Murphy’s 14th annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Holmes Beach.
It starts 4 p.m. at the corner of Gulf and Palm Drives.
Call 941-778-6444.

That’s 54 years of wedded bliss for Sue and Jim Manring, who is somehow 39. Again.

The fourth annual "Yes We Can...DANCE!" returns March 24 to the Neel Performing Arts Center at State College of Florida. Co-directed by Helen Dolbec and Linda Boone, the showcase for Manatee County’s scholastic dance teams goes on at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
For ticket information, call 792-8274 or visit

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

McKechnie game day parking challenge

If you've got business in the part of town near McKechnie Field between now and the end of March, do yourself a favor and check one thing.
Are the Pirates playing that day?
No? Cool.
Yes? Change your plans.
Or make sure you're not driving there around the time of the first pitch at 1:05 p.m.
Unless, of course, you're going to the game.
Then you're on your own.
I had an appointment on 17th Avenue West and, for a change, it nothing to do with the ballgame,
There was no parking available at all along the north or south sides of the street that's the main artery to the ballpark, aside from Ninth Street West.
Nor were there any spaces available in the parking lot of my destination.
The person I was meeting said it'd be fine to double park, but I decided no thanks.
Given the congestion, I had no doubt my pickup would be towed away.
Game day or no game day.
So I ended up swinging down 18th Avenue and --- voila! --- found a spot.
It was in the volunteer lot for Our Daily Bread, but I was running late and decided to take a chance.
I got to my meeting and was finished in about 30 minutes.
I walked back to 18th Avenue West, turned the corner and --- my pickup was still there.
Next time I'm back in that part of town, it will be for a ballgame.
I've got a favorite parking spot for that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Psyched for Van Halen, but priced out

My youngest brother Joey called Monday evening.
"Yo! Guess who I'm going to see tonight?" he said from his South Jersey home.
With the Phillies having already played an afternoon spring training game in Clearwater, I figured that was out.
Unless he won some radio station trip giveaway.
"OK," I said. "Who?"
Van Halen, he said.
Ooooooooooh, you lucky dog, I told him.
Longtime Van Halen fans, we were pumped when they announced their 2012 tour dates a few months ago.
Then we got an eyeful of the ticket prices.
That cooled me off.
Not Joey.
"How much did you pay?" I asked.
"You're not going to believe it," he said.
Oh, yeah, I would.
When my wife went online to see what it would cost for the April 12 show in Tampa, she was aghast.
Every ticket was well north of $100.
That was before the service charge and all the little fees they add on.
Sherri and I had seen them in Tampa in 2009 for a lot, lot less.
As much as I enjoy Van Halen, we decided we were going to pass.
When Joey finally told me how much his ticket cost --- everything included --- I asked him to tell me again.
I wasn't sure I'd heard right.
Try $176.
He wasn't going alone, either. There was his wife Lisa, their son Steve and another guy.
More than $700.
I told Joey to tell me how it goes.
For that amount of money, it'd better be one rocking concert, too.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sights, sounds of spring training

Sights and sounds of spring training.
They’ve grown the last two weeks and are in full bloom as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Toronto Blue Jays at McKechnie Field in today’s official home opener.
Baseball is back.
To wit:
A foot-long hot dog, smothered with mustard and relish — or sauerkraut.
Meeting the Lott family of Portville, N.Y., Pirates fans who drive three hours each way to a game in Pittsburgh eight to 10 times a season.
Turning on an HDNet concert the other night just as ageless John Fogerty belts out his 1985 smash hit "Centerfield."

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

KC & the Sunshine Dancers rock FAU

Big ups to coach Kristina Castner’s KC and the Sunshine Dancers, who took a first place platinum, best showmanship award and special judges award en route to fourth place overall from a field of more than 100 routines during last Saturday’s Hall of Fame Dance Challenge at Florida Atlantic University.
Her dancers are Marisa Bagarozzi, Cris Beckwith, Jorge Cruz, Geoffrey Ea, Tyler Folsom, Luis Gonzalez-Hager, Juan Martinez, Brandon Pavon, Lauren Pierce, Peter Pinnock, Francesca Ricciardo, Lissette Serrano, Maddi Tate and Razan Waliagha.
Pinnock’s solo routine, choreographed by Chris Chawi, also won a first-place platinum award and judges entertainment award.

Coach Eddie Shannon is 90 years young March 7.

United Way board members Beth Bender, Bruce Body, Carlos Cardenas and Tim Henning raised $722.97 in tips at last Thursday’s charity bartending gig at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch.

The Wakeland Elementary School students who will perform our national anthem before the 12:05 p.m. Pirates Black and Gold Charity Game today at McKechnie Field are Aliya Carrington, Madison Dylenski, Silvia Hernandez, Emma Hodge, Leslie Miramon, Abby Watrobsky and Samantha Whipple. Amelia Lyons is their coach.

Manatee High lacrosse debuts 7 p.m. March 8. The Canes are coached by Ron Stephens, Matt Krella and Garrett Harte.

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