Monday, April 30, 2012

Clyde Butcher like our own Ansel Adams

Clyde Butcher.
If there's one photographer whose art always stops me in my tracks and makes me appreciate the message in his pictures it's him.
He is our Ansel Adams, a genuine American icon whose handiwork captured the natural majesty of the west.
Clyde Butcher does that for Florida.
That his exhibition is at South Florida Museum through August is wonderful, as chronicled by my colleague Wade Tatangelo in last Sunday's Herald.
Black-and-white photography has always fascinated me.
I've got several such prints of scenes around Ireland in my study.
I wish I had something of Clyde Butcher's to go with them.
His photos never fail to make me think --- these vistas and visions of nature are in our state?
They reinforce the beauty of Florida.
I'm hardly surprised when I read Butcher will take as long as several days to get the exact shade and shot he wants.
Such an artist is blessed to be able to make time work for him instead of the other way around.
Who else among us can say that?
No one.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mayor's race makes it chilly at City Hall

Mayor Marianne Barnebey.
It rolls off the tongue easily enough, but whether the title comes to fruition we’ll have to wait until Election Day.
That the 55-year-old Bradenton City Council member announced Thursday she’s running against Mayor Wayne Poston should make an interesting race.
To put it mildly.
You thought their relationship was chilly before?
Imagine how this affects the room temperature on the second-floor wing of City Hall that houses Bradenton’s semi-esteemed elected leaders.
Now that Barnebey is openly campaigning for Poston’s nice big office down the hall from her own, it’s bound to get a whole lot frostier.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

New officer, board for Adopt-A-Family

Adopt-A-Family’s new board and officers are president Kim Duty, vice-president Patti Peotter-Bettes, secretary Carol Williams, treasurer Jim Gay and Cindy Eliason, Elaine Henneberry, Diane Juncker, Jayne Kench, Linda Miller and Dixie Schlensker.

Big Daddy’s Laurie Fetzer is one year shy of the Big 4-0!

Manatee High head coach Joe Kinnan and his 2011 Class 7A state champion Hurricanes are the Grand Marshals for Saturday’s DeSoto Heritage Festival Grand Parade.

Southeast High sophomore Gillian Palino was a National Honor Society inductee.

Tara Elementary, Braden River Middle and Braden River High perform a year-end dance recital 7-8 p.m. May 15 at BRHS, 6545 State Road 70 East. Admission is free.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

KC & Sunshine Dancers hip hop state champs

Well done to KC and the Sunshine Dancers. Coach Kristina Castner's troupe shined at last weekend's Showstoppers State Dance Championship in Lakeland. The hip hop team won the senior large group division and the 2012 state champion title.

They are Tyler Folsom, Francesca Ricciardo, Marissa Bagarozzi, Razan Waliagha, Lauren Pierce, Lissette Serrano, Peter Pinnock, Jorge Cruz, Luis Gonzalez-Hager, Geoffrey Ea, Cris Beckwith, Juan Martinez, Brandon Pavon, Colton Heier and Matti Tate.

In addition, Folsom won a hip hop solo double platinum, first place in the 20-29 division and state champion for the adult league. Pinnock won a hip hop solo double platinum, first in the senior hip hop division and third in state. Ricciardo also won a hip hop solo platinum. Pavon took a contemporary solo-double platinum and fifth in state. Heier took a jazz solo double platinum and eighth in state.

The KC junior team earned a platinum and took third in state. They are Marley Gordon, Sierra Amato, Cheyenne Gilbert, Roosevelt Gadson and Christopher Horner.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Seven years later in Biloxi/Gulfport

The last time I'd seen Biloxi and Gulfport they looked like a war zone.
It was one week after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the region in 2005.
A team of us had volunteered to drive a fleet of small RVs to our sister paper, the Sun Herald, which had suffered immensely along with its community.
The difference seven years later was so striking as my wife and I spent three days-plus on vacation.
Casinos repaired.
Homes rebuilt.
Businesses back.
But not all of them.
There were more concrete slabs along Highway US 90 that runs along the beach than I could count.
They were like grave markers of places that never came back.
Antebellum mansions.
Modest family homes.
Mom & Pop restaurants.
Small hotels.
Souvenir shops.
The sheer financial losses, coupled with the prohibitive cost of property insurance post-Katrina and a daunting list of other costs have made it impossible for people to return.
We had lunch with one of my wife's former banking colleagues who stunned us with the living costs she deals with.
License fee? $800.
Property taxes? $3,000.
Homeowners insurance? $8,000.
And this person lives north of I-10.
We cannot imagine what folks must pay south of the interstate, closer to the beach.
Aaah, but that beach.
It was beautiful and inviting, just miles and miles of it going west toward Long Beach, Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis.
We are definitely bringing beach chairs the next time we go back.
We will go back, too.
The scars left by Katrina didn't diminish our enjoyment or appreciation of the local hospitality.
A friendly, attentive waitress.
A shop owner offering us sweet tea or lemonade.
A resident graciously giving us directions.
Sounds a little like Bradenton, doesn't it?
Well, that Southern Mississippi hospitality -- the resilience, too -- made for a memorable trip and we look forward to doing it again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Christmas tragedy resonates for LRHS grad

Michael Ohlman could be in Delaware today, catching for the Frederick (Md.) Keys in an early season Carolina League series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
What the Lakewood Ranch High School grad wouldn’t give to be there, crouched behind the plate.
Instead, the Baltimore Orioles’ prospect is back at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium, pushing himself though another rehab session on his injured right shoulder.
"It gets monotonous, trust me," the 21-year-old said. "Some days you go in, you might not be happy."
Ohlman’s pity party doesn’t last.
He doesn’t need the trainer to remind him how fortunate he is, either.
An 11th-round pick in 2009, Ohlman had spent three weeks in the big league camp, a last-minute temporary invitee because the Orioles needed another catcher.
"Everything was going great, better than I could imagine," he said. "Then it came to a pretty abrupt halt."

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who is Manatee High's top alum for 2012?

Who will be Manatee High’s Outstanding Alumnus this year?
Pro Build Lumber’s Rodney Potter, Class of 1954 and a former Manatee County Distinguished Citizen, was the 2011 honoree.Applications are at the school or online at
For more details, call assistant principal Laurie Kitchie at 941-714-7300, ext. 2023.
Deadline is April 30.

Southeast High grad Kevin Swan is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease and his legion of supporters march 10 a.m. Saturday in the Walk to Defeat ALS™ at Payne Park, 2050 Adams Lane, Sarasota."Swan’s (No Limit) Soldiers" — a reference to the days they’d wear warpaint at Seminole football games — have raised $50,000, tops among Florida’s ALS Association fundraisers and a single team record.For event details, call 888-257-1717 or visit

Author J.B. Crawford signs his book, "Nathan and the Stone Crabs," 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 21 during Music on the Porch at the Cortez School’s Bratton Store on 119th Street.
The book is about a boy who learns about his family history in the fictional fishing village of DeSoto in the 1880s.

Want to Beat the Heat?
Be at Bradenton Motorsports Park, 21000 State Road 64 East, Saturday to drag race against members of the Palmetto Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
Races are 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Beat the HEAT, Inc. is a national non-profit organization of police and firefighters who use marked emergency vehicle drag cars to conduct educational programs for youth.
The event will also raise funds for Palmetto High’s Tanya Clavey Memorial Scholarship. She was the sister of PHS Resource Officer Adam Spatafora and died in a car accident in 1989 at the age of 16.
For event details call Officer Roy Lovett at 941-721-6840, ext. 2010.
Or call Bill Lee Race Cars at 941-729-6000.

Lakewood Ranch High School cheerleader Hope Lowe is 15, Kelly Miller is "Sweet 16," and Allison Bednarz is 17.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Bradenton begins 1 p.m. April 21 and ends 7 a.m. April 22 at G.T. Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton.
For details, call 941-328-3775. Or visit
Locks of Love will be on hand at 5 p.m. to cut hair from donors. Call 941-504-1334.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Many fond memories of Little Havana

Little Havana.
It was certainly in the news the last few days, Ground Zero in the uproar over Ozzie Guillen's asinine comment about his mancrush on Fidel Castro.
The Marlins manager self-destruction aside, the flap brought back memories of my time in that colorful neighborhood in Miami.
It's where the spanking new Marlins ballpark is located on the site of the old Orange Bowl.
For 15 years every fall, I spent many weekends covering football at that historic stadium during the 1970s and 1980s.
Friday nights it'd be Miami Killian or Miami Palmetto against Miami High.
Saturdays it'd be the U before the Hurricanes got really good.
Sundays it was the Dolphins and that began with the Super Bowl years of Shula-Griese-Csonka-Kiick-Warfield, et al.
Whatever the game, I usually parked in somebody's backyard in Little Havana.
Old men would be holding up five fingers yelling, "$5! $5! No block! No block!"
That is, your wheels would not be blocked in when you got back after the game.
I usually parked further away and paid $2 or $3.
Never gave its safety a second thought, either, as I walked the six blocks or so north to the Orange Bowl.
I knew that old man would look after my car like it was his own.
The only time I had car problems, Little Havana came to my rescue.
I was headed toward the Orange Bowl early in the '80s for a Dolphin game, driving along a street in the neighborhood just east of the stadium.
Suddenly, my car stalled and I couldn't get it re-started.
Folks stuck behind me in that pre-game traffic were not happy.
Then a beautiful thing happened.
A couple of guys from the neighborhood approached me.
They didn't speak English.
I don't speak Spanish.
Yet they got under the hood, fixed whatever needed fixing and got my bucket of bolts running again.
I tried to pay them, but they wouldn't take my money.
They just smiled, we warmly shook hands and then they disappeared back into the neighborhood.
Little Havana and its people were good to me, all right, and I'll never forget it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A very good Monday for a change

Mondays I can do without.
You know how it goes, especially dragging to work after a weekend as nice as Easter was.
My wife will agree with me.
This Monday, though, was different for Sherri.
Around 9 a.m., she received a phone call at work from a friend who was listening to Jones & Crane on 107.9 WSRZ.
They'd announced my wife's name for her to call in as the winner in their online Easter egg hunt.
Happily, Sherri did to claim the prize.
Of course, she's going to split the loot with her mom, sisters and niece who contributed the names for the clues.
Yet there was another nice surprise in store for my wife Monday morning.
A little later Sherri received an email from one of her bank bosses.
Would she like tickets for Saturday night's concert at Tampa Bay Times Forum?
Not just any concert, mind you.
Van Halen.
Although my wife is not a fan of the fan, her husband is.
Biiiiig time.
So we are going to Van Halen and I know I will owe Sherri biiiiig time.
It was a good Monday, indeed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Public waits for other shoe to drop in jail probe

Conduct unbecoming.
A succinct term that should get your attention, especially if you wear a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office badge.
The words could get you fired.
Unfortunately, they ring hollow in the unfolding drama involving the operation of the Manatee County jail’s farm and cattle ranch.
Major Jamey Higginbotham, the former jail supervisor, and Sgt. Frank "Buddy" Parks were both cited for "conduct unbecoming a deputy" after an eight-month MCSO investigation into misuse of public property.
They’re alleged to have taken agency property — i.e., hay, feed, equipment — for their own use and allowed employees to do so, too, for years.
Theirs was an operation that had its own set of rules.
Higginbotham retired last June.
What a coincidence.
Parks retired recently rather than take a suspension and demotion.
Neither’s retirement pension will be affected.
Of course.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

School kids keeping up their guard

I walk for an hour three mornings a week, wearing a ballcap, windbreaker, shorts and sneakers, and I'm usually in a good mood.
So I nod and smile to some folks I pass and say good morning to others.
School kids?
Different deal.
I usually keep my mouth shut as I pass them by.
What brings it to mind is the report Bradenton Police were seeking a man who reportedly approached a 9-year-old girl walking to her bus stop Wednesday morning and asked if she needed a ride.
Bad news.
The man was described as being 35 to 55 with medium hair, a goatee and driving an older, boxy four-door vehicle, according to police.
Given similar incidents around here in the past, parents are cautioned to make sure their children know of the dangers of unknown people approaching them while they are on their way to school.
If approached, children should notify a school official or law enforcement immediately.
Think that message has gotten through with children from the subdivisions neighboring mine.
If I'm walking north and a child is heading south on the same sidewalk toward the nearby school bus stop, there is no eye contact.
Same thing if the child is riding a bike to school.
No smile.
No greeting.
I don't blame them for keeping up their guard.
It's just sad it's come to that.

PS: Anyone with information about Wednesday's incident should call Detective Michael Page at 941-932-9314 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS.

St. Joseph girls repeat soccer champions

Big ups to Saint Joseph Catholic School Lady Eagles soccer.
They’re repeat champions of the Florida Gulf Coast League with 23 schools from Palmetto to Port Charlotte.
St. Joe beat Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences in an OT shootout for the title. Coached by Laura Schafer and Jason Morrow, the champion Eagles are Lexi Boynes, Abby Cuva, Tiffany Daniels, Emma Fenton, Kei Foley, Hailey Heagerty, Emma Horne, Adriana Maldonado, Shelby Morrow, Sydney Morrow, Ferris Reed, Meredith Roberts, Jessi Schafer, Kaitlyn Schafer and Shaylee Yingling.

Manatee High sophomore Maggi Patterson received two Gold Presidential Service Awards from Manateens. She’s already volunteered more than 500 hours in community service with Red Cross, Manatee Art Center and Humane Society and is a counselor in training at the YMCA 59th Street branch.

Braden River High senior Timothy Parker II received a National Achievement Scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. He’s one of nearly 800 outstanding African-American high school seniors to win the award, which comes from a privately financed academic competition started in 1964 specifically to honor scholastically talented African-American youth.

These are good times for Carol Whitmore and husband Dr. Andre Renard.
The county commissioner was honored by the Tampa Bay Lightning as a "Lightning Community Hero" last Monday night.
Days before that, Renard was in Manhattan where his artwork was accepted at the International New York Artexpo.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Mount Dora an idyllic road trip

Spent the past weekend in Mount Dora, the charming town in Lake County.
Shopping. Strolling. Eating.
Sherri and I did it all and it was delightful.
One of our favorite stops was at the high school.
Mount Dora is the home of the -- ta, dah! -- Hurricanes, too.
Their FFA program hosted a chili competition Saturday evening and it was $5 per person for all you can eat.
The cups were small, but after sampling the wares from more about eight or nine booths, Sherri and I were full.
After we voted -- I like spicy, she doesn't -- we strolled down toward the football field.
Mount Dora's Canes are a Class 3A program and play in a stadium nestled into a hollow surrounded by woods.
It must rock on fall Friday nights.
After that we drove back downtown, listening to music, enjoying the evening breeze off of Lake Dora and watching the sunset.
We got some ice cream, too, at one shop that must've been built back in the early 1900s before calling it a night.
Definitely going back for another visit.
What an idyllic place.