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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