Thursday, March 28, 2013

Saturday benefit for badly injured softball player

There’s a benefit in Bradenton for Mallory Massingille, 2-7 p.m. Saturday at Strike Zone, 5028 Lena Road. Struck in the back of the head by a ball thrown during a Feb. 2 softball game, the 21-year-old had to be airlifted to a hospital for emergency neurosurgery.
All proceeds go toward helping Mallory’s family deal with mounting medical bills incurred during her recovery.
Call Donna Copeland at 941-737-6750 or Stuart Harber at 941-518-2901.

Elaine Milner plays for her Lee Middle School students.
Good luck to Deborah Bender, Jim Campney and Elaine Milner.
The three Manatee residents will perform Monday at the 2013 Bright Stars Senior Idol at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

That’s 19 years of wedded bliss for Lynn and Fred Pierce.

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Pi Beta Beta chapter hosts the inaugural Coach Eddie M. Shannon Scholarship Golf Tournament, April 20 at Terra Ceia Bay Golf & Tennis.
Call Marcus Cowart at 941-224-8635 for details.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring training finale another McKechnie crowd

Estimating crowd size at a ballgame is an inexact science.
Tallying tickets afterward is the best way to do it.
But just seeing the folks pour into McKechnie Field Wednesday, you knew the last Grapefruit League home game for the Pittsburgh Pirates was going to be good.
Turned out to be great. 
More than 7,000 fans turned out and it was no surprise. 
Twins-Pirates was hardly a marquee matchup, but it was a sunny day, albeit chilly and breezy, and what better way to spend it than at the ol' ballyard in Ninth Street West. 
That it enabled the Pirates to set an attendance record at McKechnie was no surprise, either.
That $10 million renovation expanded its capacity by approximately 2,000 and has turned the charming ballpark into a destination more than ever.
Even with one rainout, the Pirates set new marks for total attendance, average attendance, and single game attendance during the 2013 spring training season.
The Pirates drew 93,433 people to 15 home games at McKechnie.
The total attendance mark surpassed the previous record of 88,003 from 2011.
The average attendance was 6,229 per game, shattering the prior high 5,500, also from 2011.
The extra seating, the boardwalk and standing room option meant record-setting sellouts like the new single-game record 8,541 fans on March 17 when the Yankees visited McKechnie.
Trevor Gooby must've had a good feeling seeing the size of the early arriving crowd Wednesday. the
“These records are the culmination of a lot of hard work by our organization, the City of Bradenton, and Manatee County to make McKechnie Field such a comfortable place for our fans while keeping the classic ballpark feel,” the Pirates senior director of Florida operations said.
Now lets see what kind of crowd numbers the Bradenton Marauders generate. 
First home game is April 5th.



Monday, March 25, 2013

'Yes, We Can DANCE' packs house at Neel

The fifth annual "Yes, We Can DANCE!" was a boffo showcase for Manatee County's scholastic dance teams last Saturday at the Neel Performing Arts Center.
The matinee was almost a full house and the evening performance was a sellout.
There were 27 acts in all.
The dance team directors who got their charges ready for the show were:
Melecia Perren, Bayshore High School Honeybears and Bruins.
Traci Cristello, Braden River H.S. Black Pearls.
Amanda Dawsey, Braden River H.S. Silver Pearls.
Bunni Roberts, Braden River Middle School Panthers.
Angela Babroski, Haile Middle School Dance.
Hope Hahn, Heather Selens, Lakewood Ranch H.S. Silver Stars.
Donna McElhiney, Ashley Hassler, Lee Middle School Lightning.
Tess Chawi, Xander Chawi, Manatee H.S. Ballroom Club.
Amber Platowski, Manatee H.S. Sugar 'Canes.
Francesca Ricciardo, Manatee JV Sugar 'Canes.
Elyse Born, Kristina Castner, Manatee School for the Arts HEAT.
Jonah Wright, MSA Strikers.
Shea Whidden, Tafara Callaway, Palmetto H.S. Dazzlers.
Katie Hillman, Southeast H.S. Nolettes.
Andrea Distelhurst, Nicole Tooley, Sugg Middle Cyclones.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Backyard chickens idea has wings, legs, too

My wife has gotten on this “grow your own at home” kick lately, and bought two Earthboxes.
One’s got strawberries; the other, cucumbers.
There may be more where that came from if this thing goes well.
Which leads me to wonder how Sherri would feel about some backyard chickens.
I can already hear her response:
Are you crazy?
Well, don’t look now, but that wacky idea — backyard chicken coops in our residential neighborhoods — has got wings.
Legs, too.
Sounds like it may fly since the Manatee County Commission agreed last week to examine the issue further much to the delight of its proponents, Manatee CLUCK — Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Buick GMC salutes Conley's 25th anniversary

General manager Herb Hoelle, General Motors district sales manager Angela Tamayo, Conley Buick GMC owner Jeff Conley and Buick GMC zone manger Greg Ross on Thursday. 
Big ups to Jeff Conley.
The Conley Buick GMC president was saluted Thursday on his 25th anniversary as a dealer by the Buick Motor Division. His dad, Iley, was a Buick dealer in 1960 in Portsmouth, Ohio, before moving the family to Bradenton in 1966. They once owned multiple Buick dealerships in Plant City, Cincinnati and Atlanta.
The Conleys have been with Buick 53 years. 

Check out the fifth annual “Yes We Can DANCE,” what’s become a popular scholastic showcase for Manatee County’s amazing dance teams.
It’s at the Neel Performing Arts Center, State College of Florida, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton.
There are shows at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $5 in advance; $8 at door.
Call 941-792-8274. Or email

Robin Fernandez will sing our national anthem before Friday’s sellout with the Rays.
Hannah Beatt from the Manatee Players does the honors for Sunday’s Orioles’ game.
Then Phil Carocci performs before the March 27 Grapefruit League home finale with the Twins.

Marine Corps League Detachment 588 is hosting “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,” 4 p.m. March 29 at 5225 26 St. W., Bradenton.
It’s part of a movement that’s gone nationwide to give Vietnam vets some recognition that is long, long overdue.
There will be burgers, hot dogs, side dishes and drink specials.
Call 941-301-4598.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

MSA Heat 7th in jazz, 5th in hip hop at NDA

MSA jazz team.
The Manatee School for the Arts Heat dance team took a seventh in jazz and fifth in hip hop at the National Dance Alliance Championships in Orlando, March 8-10.
It was MSA’s first time in the jazz division and second in hip hop.
They are coached by Elyse Born and Kristina Castner.
Their captain is Lauren Pierce and co-captain is Peter Pinnock. Their officers are Ashley Allen, Taylor Johnson-Pearson and Kristin Oberg.
The jazz team members were Lauren Pierce, Ashley Allen, Ayendi Polite, Taylor Johnson-Pearson, Tiarra Johnson-Pearson, Brandon Pavon, Ashley Mercado, Kristin Oberg, Megan Lipprandt, Keely Karalis, Colton Heier, Elayna Smith, Bethany Thurnau, Hailey Golden, Rayven Norman and Kadijah Antoine-Thompson
Hip hop team members were Peter Pinnock, Luis Gonzalez-Hager, Raphiel Aleman, Jose Jimenez, Lissette Serrano, Lauren Pierce, Ayendi Polite, Brandon Pavon,  Ashley Mercado, Megan Lipprandt, Keely Karalis, Elayna Smith, Bethany Thurnau, Hailey Golden, Ryan Golden, Kadijah Antoine-Thompson, Rayven Norman, Viviana Adorno, Devan Salati, Susett Guerra, Jamie Roelle and Alex Aragon.
Heat hip hop team.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Having an appendectomy at 75? No way!

There are some things that should no longer happen to us after we reach a certain age.
Like appendicitis.
Or tonsilitis.
Turns out we're not safe at any age.
My father-in-law, Jim Manring, found that out the hard way.
We'd gone to a spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium last Thursday and had a good time, but that changed after he got home.
That's when the abdominal pains began.
Despite his wife's concerns and offers to take him to the  hospital, Jim  toughed it out that night and most of Friday.
He figured it would go away, but it didn't.
Finally, Sue Manring took her husband to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center Friday night.
He would have to have an appendectomy.
A former three-sport athlete in high school athlete in Gahanna, Ohio, Jim figured he'd be in and out in no time.
Just like NBA players who are back on the court in a day or two after a similar procedure, he told the nurse.
Sue rolled her eyes.
"My husband forgets he's 75," she said.
Well, the procedure was Saturday morning and my father-in-law would have been out the next day, except for a stubborn infection.
So the doctor was going to keep him there a few more days.
We thought it would be the end of the week before Jim got out, but it was Tuesday afternoon when they decided he was good enough to go home.
I doubt they could've kept him much longer anyway.
He and his wife have an upcoming date in Biloxi, Miss.
Keep them from their periodic trip to play the slots?
Not a chance.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Remembering an Irish voice on St. Patrick's Day

Kevin Melia was dead.
A chance email from Ireland stunned me with the news.
It had been 20 years since I’d heard that name.
Kevin Melia.
Gone at 44.
Of many wonderful memories visiting Ireland, having the good fortune to be in that Kerryman’s presence is high on the list of sentimental favorites.
I’m far from alone.
At Kevin Melia’s funeral, it is said half the church was family. The other half were the bachelor’s ex-girlfriends who had fallen in love with his singing as much as the man himself.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Leadership Manatee to salute Jaymie Carter

 Jaymie Carter is the 19th annual Kent C. Schulz Distinguished Alumni Award recipient from the Leadership Manatee Alumni Association. Jaymie has been a tireless volunteer, serving on boards and committees and chairing fundraisers for numerous organizations. Past recipients are Rose Carlson, Amanda Edge, Tom Seguin, Bob Bartz,  Betsy Benac, Darrell Turner, John Vita, Edie Bustle, Connie Shingledecker, Diana Davis, Linda Agresta, Ruth Lawler, Cliff Walters, Robert King, Gerry Russell, Brenda Rogers and Bob Sweat.

Oh, no! Say it ain’t so! Bruce Braithwaite is about to hit the Big 6-0! The milestone lands on the Manatee Hurricane baseball assistant coach Saturday.

The Shamrock 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Women’s Resource Center of Manatee and Foundation for Dreams is Sunday. Registration is 1 p.m. and a post race party follows on Old Main Street.
Call 941-746-5659. Or visit or

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Thirteen delicious pies lucky duty for these judges

Cis Paulsen's winning blueberry cream pie ... what's left of it.
What a pie lovers' delight it was last Saturday afternoon at Palmetto Historical Park.
Lemon meringue.
Sweet potato.
That was only part of the lineup in the pie tasting before a hungry panel of judges including County Commissioner Larry Bustle, North River Fire Marshal Ron Cales, Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells and yours truly for Palmetto's Heritage Day Celebration.
Chief Rick Wells
There were 13 pies in all and each was wonderful.
If you like pecan pie --- and I do --- there wasn't just one or two, but three entries!
There were a couple of lemon meringue pies, as well.
And a banana cream pie.
And a butter milk.
And a couple of catchy creations called pie pops, shaped like hearts, one flavored lemon, the other cherry.
The darkhorse in the event had no catchy name but it did have killer ingredients like dark chocolate, maple, bacon and pecan.
Scoring was high across the panel and we thought the contest might end in a tie.
It didn't.
Third place went to a Ginny Whelan's scrumptious strawberry rhubarb pie.
Second, to Mary Alta Dowd Griffin's lemon meringue pie.
First place to went to Cis Paulsen's blueberry cream pie, a winner for taste and appearance, too.
The judges weren't the only ones who liked it most.
So did members of the audience.
By the time the Cis picked up her pan, there was one narrow wedge of her winning pie left to take home.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring breakers welcome, but be safe, smart

A really bad sunburn. A bath tub filled with cheap beer on ice. A hotel room view overlooking the sparkling Atlantic Ocean and all that golden sand under a blue sky that made yours truly decide, “This is for me.”
That was spring break in early March 1971 in Daytona Beach for several of us Bowling Green State University seniors.
Other than being emphatically uninvited to a party thrown in another hotel room by some Southern gentlemen —  “Y’all better hauuul a--,” the SEC tackle-sized guy at the door told us — it was a pretty tame week.
We returned safely to school, sunburnt skin peeling along I-75, and got on with our lives.
Which is what we wish for all spring breakers visiting our gorgeous beaches this month.
Enjoy yourselves but be smart and stay safe at the same time. We don’t mean just using plenty of sunscreen, either.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ohio State great speaks at alumni golf bash April 6

Wakeland Elementary  School's Mikaela Boelkins, Kamryn Clayton, Isabella Ferber, Kaylee Hodge, Olivia Hodge, Madelyn Stone and Anjali Visvalingam pose with the Pirate mascot and sing our national  anthem Feb. 22 at McKechnie Field, led by teacher Amelia Lyons.
Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin will be guest speaker at the 11th annual Sarasota-Manatee Ohio State Alumni Club Golf Outing April 6 at the Lakewood Ranch Golf And Country Club’s Cypress Links course.
For details, call Larry Hedden (941-359-0477), Dan Jannelli (941-244-0668), Gerry King (941-923-6050), Jim McMahon (941-377-4474) or Chris Hill (941-962-1857).

Palmetto’s Heritage Day Celebration is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and among the festivities at Palmetto Historical Park, 515 10th Ave. W., is a pie judging contest. The epicurean  panelists are County Commissioner Larry Bustle, North River Fire Marshall Ron Cales, Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells and yours truly.
We will accept bribes.

Ted Meekma will sing while Levi Waxler signs our national anthem for Friday’s Orioles-Pirates game at McKechnie Field. Ellery Carlson does the honors Saturday and Nelka Decius, Monday.
Andrew McCutchen’s mom, Petrina, will sing it with the Jays in town March 13 and Yarrick O’Connor will follow with “O’ Canada.”

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cold weather really just mind over matter

Walked across the street for a cup of coffee the other day during this latest cold snap. 
Had long johns on underneath my dress slacks.
Wore a sweater and a leather jacket over that.
I was  freezing.
Then I saw a couple leaving the coffee shop.
Both wore T-shirts and shorts.
I laughed.
I must be a wimp.
Having spent virtually all of my adult life in Florida, my blood is as thin as any longtime resident of Bradenton or the Sunshine State.
That's just the way it is.
I've never quibbled about it.
Although I thought I was dressed warmly enough when I left the house early Wednesday for my thrice-weekly morning walk.
That wind just went right through my sweats.
Made me walk faster than usual and covered what's normally a 75-minute walk in 65 minutes.  
As long as the sun is shining, cold weather like we've been having of late is OK by me.
There's another way I like to look at it, too.
Come August when the temperature in the 90s with humidity to match, I'll think back on this chilly weather.
It's really no big deal at all.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Getting one baseball autograph worth the wait

Getting baseball autographs is an infrequent exercise for me.
If I manage to have a ball signed once a year, I'm good.
The autograph scrums that take place before spring training games are something I try to avoid.
Anytime I see a throng of autograph-seekers crowded at the bottom of an aisle along the third base side of a ballpark, I stay away.
Navigating a pack of autograph-seeking fans armed with baseball card binders, photos, bags of balls, even bats, is a hassle.
Likewise, I know box seat ticket holders, trying to get to their seats, hands full with food and beverage, can be a little put out, too.
Anyway, Monday morning at McKechnie Field before the Phillies-Pirates game I staked out an empty aisle  further up the third baseline.
All I had was my glove, a ball and a Sharpie.
There were either of two guys I was hoping to get.
One was Ryan Howard, the Phillies' slugging first baseman.
The other, third base coach Ryne Sandberg. The Cubs Hall of Fame second baseman is heir apparent to succeed Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel.
As gametime neared the Phillies starters began trickling onto the field to stretch inside the third baseline.
Howard was one of them.
The cry went up nearby:
Howard kept on walking.
That left Plan B, because I wasn't sticking around any longer than I had to.
Aah, there came Sandberg, working his way along the railing, patiently signing as he went.
Keep coming, keep coming, I silently urged him as I held out my ball and Sharpie.
Finally, Sandberg arrived and took his time signing his name and his No. 23.
I thanked him and wished him luck.
Turning around, there was a mob of anxious autograph buffs behind me, but I quickly worked my way through it.
I had my prize.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Steube's bill unrealistic in school safety objective

Seeing a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office cruiser outside a school has an effect.
If I’m visiting, I’m on my best behavior.
If I’m a parent, it’s reassuring.
If I work at that school, same thing.
It usually means there’s a resource officer on duty, a professional law enforcement person trained to serve and protect.
I would feel nowhere near as confident knowing there is a school employee designated to do that important job.
It doesn’t matter who that person is, whether they’re packing or have ready access to a weapon.
Not the assistant principal.
Not the fifth-grade teacher.
Not the phys ed instructor.
State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton, believes otherwise.

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