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.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

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.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on

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.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on

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.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quite a summer for sendoffs by family

After seeing off two of their four children in summer weddings, Carol and Dave Grantham recently sent off son Steven to a decidedly different destination: Marine boot camp in Parris Island, S.C.
The 25-year-old is a Manatee and University of Central Florida alum.

Speaking of Manatee alums, the Class of 1967 has expanded its 45th reunion to include the classes of 1966 and 1968. The fun begins with a meet-and-greet Sept. 28 at the Courtyard Marriott. On Sept. 29, there’s a dinner buffet at the Bradenton Country Club.
Contact Sue Moran Robertson at 941-776-8330. Or Linda Norwood Kinnan at 941-795-6213.
Or visit

Manatee Elementary’s staff and students are collecting canned foods items for the Food Bank of Manatee through Sept. 28. They may be dropped off at the school ol office, 1609 6th Ave. E., Bradenton.
For details, call Bernadette Pletcher at 741-3319, ext. 2015.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

McGonegal's retiring comes as no surprise

That Tim McGonegal announced his retirement as Manatee County school superintendent effective Feb. 28 should come as no surprise.
Not after the result of last month's primary race for the School Board's District 2 seat.
When attorney David Miner, a longtime school board antagonist, became the prohibitive favorite in November's runoff after nearly winning it outright, McGonegal could see what lie ahead.
His skill is finance, working with numbers, so he can count.
Especially votes.
Votes by the citizenry and votes by the school board, McGonegal's bosses.
Unless Miner somehow throws away the position of strength he already established with voters --- 19,211 votes to Lakewood Ranch High teacher Robert Moates's 12,234 votes -- he should win.
That would likely align him with Julie Aranibar and Karen Carpenter, first-time school board members who frequently challenged the status quo, represented by incumbents Bob Gause, Barbara Harvey and Harry Kinnan.
When Kinnan chose not to run, Miner seized the opportunity, plugging into the undercurrent of public dissatisfaction with the school district.
Hence, if Miner wins on Nov. 6, there will be a sea change in the dynamics and direction of the school board.
That does not bode well for McGonegal's longevity as superintendent and he knew it.
So he's retiring.

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NFL cutdown day mostly forgettable experience

On the eve of another NFL season, players are still getting cut even though final cutdown day was supposedly last Friday.
One of the latest was David Garrard, a pretty good quarterback not long ago for Jacksonville, who was released Monday by Miami.
I witnessed quite a few of those final cuts by the Dolphins back in the day.
It was an uncomfortable role during 20-plus years of covering the Don Shula era for three different newspapers in South Florida.
There'd a flock of us outside the locker room main door at St. Thomas University in Opa Locka, waiting like buzzards for the newly released player to emerge.
Occasionally, an ex-Dolphin would try to slip out a back way, get spotted and a TV crew or two would go scurrying after him.
Most, though, exited that main door and faced a final interrogation.
It was awkward as heck.
The player usually had a big plastic garbage bag filled with his gear slung over his shoulder and he'd talk en route to his car for a fast getaway from this place.
Some would stop and try to share their feelings.
Others just split with nary a word.
Couldn't blame them.
Cutdown day was a downer.
I do remember one light moment, though.
It was back in 1989 and the Dolphins had been through a difficult training camp.
John Offerdahl, a fabulous young linebacker going in his fourth NFL season, was locked in an acrimonious contract holdout.
So was Sammie Smith, their No. 1 pick, the Florida State running back.
After finishing 6-10 the year before and missing the playoffs yet again, things did not bode well for the 1989 Dolphins.
The vibes were bad.
So when this particular player barged through the locker room door, scowling as usual, the media mob parted before him like the Red Sea.
Nobody made a peep.
Except me.
I couldn't resist.
"Hey," yours truly said. "Make the team?"
"Yeah," the player snapped as he strode by.
It was Dan Marino.