Thursday, May 30, 2013

Combat veteran gets Air Force promotion

A salute to Capt. Robert W. Scott IV, who will be promoted to major today at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. The 1999 Manatee High School alum and 2003 Air Force Academy grad has been on active duty for 10 years, most recently serving with a bomb squad as an explosive ordnance disposal officer in Iraq and Afghanistan
Parents Bob and Janna and sister Sarah will be on hand for the ceremony.
Scott’s next posting will be at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

Lindsay Harper
Shirley Rampart enjoyed a recent whirlwind weekend.
Between granddaughter and Southeast High alum Lindsay Harper’s graduation with a masters in social work from the University of Tennessee, daughter Kerry Harper’s 63rd birthday, Mother’s Day and a trip to Dollywood, Grandma was on the go.
“I needed a rest!” she jokes.

Angela (Faith) Faust, Sheri Jacobs, Pamela Ross and Katherine Turenne were initiated into Delta Kappa Gamma’s Kappa chapter, which promotes the professional and personal growth of women educators.

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More host families needed for exchange students

Wanted: 15 more host families for French and Spanish teenagers.
Interested? Sherree Bowman hopes so.
Deadline is Saturday.
The local program leader for Education First’s Homestay Programs, an exchange student nonprofit, is bringing in 50 youths, ages 13-19, from France and Spain to the Bradenton/Sarasota area between July 6- 31.
But she’s only got 35 host families lined up to date.
“I’m stressing out trying to find more,” Bowman said, half-kiddingly. “We especially need families who can host boys. We also have two adult chaperones who travel with the students. So maybe there are families who would enjoy hosting an adult. Everyone is welcome to apply — families, single parents, retirees.”
Host families are not paid, but if they have a high school teenager, they will earn 60 community service hours.
EF exchange students are fully insured and bring their own spending money. Host families have 24/7 support from EF staff.
Call 941-545-7300.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Turning cheeseburgers into grassburgers made easy

Sister-in-law Chris Manring with the evidence.
Everything was going so beautifully last Sunday.
The family was relaxed, lounging around our pool deck, the Rays were winning on TV and my wife was in the kitchen getting the rest of the fixin's ready for supper with the help of her sisters and niece.
Then when the holiday meal was ready to be served, I dropped the ball.
The cheeseburgers, that is.
I'll explain.
A master BBQer I may  not be, but I love to work our grill, which is outside the house.
Haven't had any complaints, either.
I put that to the test Sunday.
There I was, firing up eight burgers for the team and, after slapping a slice of cheese on each and letting them melt, I carefully scooped each cheeseburger onto a plate.
Then I turned and tried to open the pool screen door, a maneuver I've made countless times.
Except Sunday.
The plate slipped out of my hand and eight cheeseburgers fell with it onto the backyard lawn.
It was like watching one of those slo-mo scenes.
This ... can't ... be ... happening.
But it did.
With an assist from snickering family members, I piled the burgers back onto the plate and deposited it on the table.
Voila! Grassburgers!
They ate every one.
It was an entertaining meal with a lot of  laughter, even if it was at my expense.
"Hey, roughage is good for you."
"Bet you can't do that again."
"Mmm, it actually tastes better with grass."
It will be a long time before I live it down.

P.S: I did ribs Monday evening for Sherri and I and dropped nary a one.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Remembering our heroes beyond Memorial Day

Hundreds of small American flags align both sides of Ninth Street East as you drive by Tropicana.
A granite marker with a metal name plate catches your attention in a quiet church garden.
You dust off the desk photo of a longtime friend who gave his life on 9/11.
Memorial Day is here.
Not long ago there was a prevailing sentiment the real meaning of this solemn holiday had been lost among all the other events that traditionally take place this weekend.
Big barbecues.
Bonanza car sales.
Beachgoers up north celebrating the unofficial start of summer.
Perhaps Memorial Day’s meaning is missing for some people.
Not in this community.
It’s in our DNA.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Southeast junior gets highest Girl Scout honor

It’s good to be Gillian Palino these days.
She received her Gold Award, the Girl Scouts’ highest award, at last Sunday’s Young Women of Distinction Luncheon in Port Charlotte.
The Southeast High School junior was also named assistant drum major for the Marching ‘Noles.
Congrats from Judy, Hayden, Dawn and Kyle.

• The Principal’s Wall of Honor at Lincoln Middle School has its first 10 names, including principals spanning the era from Lincoln Memorial High School in 1949 through the transition to a middle school in 1970 to the present day.
The honorees were Carlos E. Haile, James L. Gant, James Tillman and Joseph T. Bivens, whose tenure bridged the high school-to- middle school conversion during integration, followed by James L. Dupree, Richard A. Bills, Ronald K. Hirst, Reid E. Wallace, Curtis J. Davis and Ronnie L. King.
The Wall of Honor was unveiled at Thursday morning ceremonies.

• KC and the Sunshine Dancers host “Breaking Ground 2013,” showcasing talented high school dancers from Manatee School for the Arts, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto and Bayshore as well as Lee Middle School and SCF.
Showtime is 7 p.m. Tuesday at MSA, 700 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

BBQ sauce anniversary in time for holiday weekend

I'm a sucker for different barbecue sauces.
Got a favorite, but I like to sample what's out there.
Picked up something from New Orleans when Sherri and I visited last year.
Ditto for another from a street fair in Mount Dora.
Brought some home from Mississippi, too.
Haven't had the pleasure of trying some homegrown sauce.
May have to give Elmer Hilker's concoction a try, especially with Memorial Day weekend on tap.
See what all the fuss is over his Smoky Mountain Finishing Sauce and Smoky Mountain Killer Finishing Sauce.
Sounds like the Palmetto resident is on a roll.
Good for him.
Laid off as a government defense contractor 13 months ago, Elmer and wife Jan, who works for tax collector Ken Burton Jr., took a chance on bottling and selling their own BBQ sauce.
The Palmetto Meat Shop was the first to stock E's concoction.
It's got a lot of company now.
E's Best Barbecue is now sold in 37 retailers, including stores in Manatee, Tampa Bay, the Orlando area, Tallahassee, six cities in North Carolina and a chain in Cleveland, Tenn.
Couldn't happen to better folks.
They'll celebrate their first anniversary 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday with a tasting at The Chop Shop, 5906 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
I may have to drop by and get some.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Their numbers were small, but their message was writ large.
Nearly 100 people lined the sunbaked sidewalk along Manatee Avenue West in front of the Manatee School District administration building on behalf of teachers in the face of looming staff cuts.
The rally included parents and students from elementary schools like Anna Maria, Ballard, Oneco, Orange Ridge and Rowlett, as well as Palmetto High.
Most of them held up colorful posters that shouted their ardent support:
That one and ones just like it had the desired effect, with motorists leaning on their car horns, demonstrating their solidarity as they drove by.
Folks did more than wave signs.
Children chanted:
Unfortunately, the chorus fell on deaf ears.
One Oneco parent said 12 teachers and seven aides will lose their jobs.
Another parent said her daughter, a young teacher at Ballard, has also been notified she won't be back.
A Palmetto High teacher wondered aloud how the school district could still be in such bad shape financially even after all the pay cuts, furloughs and other financial sacrifices teachers have had to make these last few years.
Now this.
When asked where their anger was directed, several people turned and pointed toward the top floor of the admininstration building, where the suits work on the fifth floor.
"Why Must Teachers Pay For Their Mismanagement," another sign read, appropriately.
After 30 minutespeople in the rally left Manatee Avenue to make their presence felt in front of the administration building.
One person dangled a sign whose words, albeit unappreciated in these times, still ring so true:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day mementoes make magical memories

Mother’s Day mementoes.
All of us have them, something to remind us of mom and cherish year ‘round, not just on this day.
Especially if she’s gone.
Like my mother, Eileen, who passed in 2008.
I’ve got plenty.
Framed snapshots on our living room wall of her with Sherri and I at my sister’s backyard pool one of our last summers together.
Another picture in our hallway of Mom and Dad on their wedding day 65 years ago last week.
A photo on my work desk of the two of us silhouetted by a sunset we gazed upon from Fort Myers Beach.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

St. Joseph Eagles Gulf Coast League tennis champs

Big ups to Saint Joseph Catholic School’s tennis team, new Gulf Coast League Champions. They are Courtney Berardi, Danielle Bolle, Elijah Bolle, Karissa Bolle, Abby Cuva, Ethan Hudson, Jimmy Heagerty, Joey Heagerty and Noah Koike. Coach is Joe Cuva and assistant Jay Heagerty. Krys Kolbe is athletic director.

Good luck to the Miss Manatee 8-U All-Star team at the 2013 USSSA REC Ball Tournament this weekend at Palma Sola Park. The team includes Amanda Estling, Caitlin Flitcraft, Hailey Hirter, Brooke James, Amanda Lee, Riley O’Neill, Hannah Ott, Isabelle Pettis, Taylor Shephard, Miriam Traugutt, Kelsey Vogel, Jessica Wagner and Naomi Whinery. Coaches are Joe Ott, Laura Estling, Todd Lee and Jon James.

Manatee Cal Ripken Baseball’s 8U All stars are Christopher Conboy, Justin Cook, Alex Heintz, Judson Hildreth, Ashton Lamb, Jason McReynolds, Jack Muller, Ryan O’Sullivan, Dylan Reiser, Tristan Schellinger, Rylen Stockton, Jaden Stockton and Lucas Viera.The ballclub begins district tournament play at Ocala in June.
Coaches are Lee Heintz, Mike Stockton and Shane Reiser.Anyone interested in making a donation or being a sponsor call Kristin Heintz at 941-720-2356.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Favorite Ronde Barber memory? Not in football

My favorite Ronde Barber moment?
No, not his 2002 NFC championship clinching interception for a TD against my Philadelphia Eagles that sent the Bucs to the Super Bowl.
Nor his two INTs for TDs against the Eagles again in that 2006 regular season game won by the Bucs on a last-second 62-yard field goal at the RayJay.
My favorite moment and memory of the Bucs nonpareil cornerback who retired Wednesday after a 16-year career happened on an offseason plane bound for Columbus, Ohio.
I was flying up for a wedding and noticed this fit-looking fellow a few seats away.
Ronde Barber?
Can't be.
Then it hit me.
We were both going to the same wedding.
Greg Bellisari's wedding.
I had coached Greg in T-ball many moons ago in Boca Raton, followed him in high school, then later at Ohio State and remained good friends with his family.
He made the Bucs as a rookie free agent at middle linebacker, backing up Hardy Nickerson and playing special teams for one season in 1997.
His best friend? Another rookie, Ronde Barber.
Anyway, I took a taxi from Port Columbus Airport to the church and who should arrive about the same time, but Greg's former teammate.
We finally met during the reception and joked about the coincidence, small world and all that.
I flew back to Tampa the next day.
Greg is now an orthopedic surgeon in Columbus and his friendship with Ronde is as strong as ever.
How strong?
Ronde is godfather to one of Greg and Mary Bellisari's four children.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hear our orators of tomorrow on Saturday

Hear tomorrow's orators today.
Or make that Saturday.
That's when students in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, representing 35 Manatee County public, private and charter schools, will vie for top honors at the 44th annual 4-H/Tropicana Public Speaking Competition.
The event is at the Manatee County Agricultural Center, 1303 17th St. W., Palmetto and starts at 9 a.m. with the finals around 2:30 p.m.
The inspiration for the 4-H/Tropicana Public Speaking program traces back to Inez Pettigrew, a devoted teacher at Palm View Elementary School, who began working with students on public speaking skills more than 60 years ago.
Then in 1969, 4-H and Tropicana teamed up to offer this program to all Manatee County elementary and middle school students.
The program is now offered statewide.
For details, call Diana Smith, the county's 4-H coordinator and extension agent at 941-722-4524, ext. 244.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Would fixed span help or hurt for Cortez Bridge?

It’s not often I get to do it, but I enjoy driving across high-level fixed bridges in Florida.
Admiring the sweeping elegance of Sarasota’s Ringling Causeway on a lazy Sunday cruise.
Being mesmerized by the vast Gulf of Mexico from the crest of the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge on the way to visit longtime friends.
Taking in panoramic views from Florida’s East Coast high-level fixed bridges spanning the Intracoastal.
I’d like to imagine receiving the same aesthetic pleasure from such a soaring span replacing the old Cortez Bridge.
I just don’t know if it would work there.
What brings up that perennially nettlesome point are the Florida Department of Transportation’s unfolding plans for the aged 2,617-foot bridge that’s in dire need of repair or replacement.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Heather Hills neighbors rally 'round disabled couple

The Lockwoods try out their new golf cart.
Heather Hills Estates came to the rescue for Susie and Henry Lockwood, the disabled couple whose golf cart was stolen recently.
Fellow residents chipped in, along with mobile home park owners Chris and Rick Stephens, and bought them another one.
The couple received the golf cart at an emotional presentation last Saturday morning.
“My sister came and said she was taking us shopping, so it really was a surprise,” Susie Lockwood said. “We’re going to send out thank you cards to everybody.”
Not necessary.
“The Good Samaritan didn’t walk by the injured man, but stopped and took care of him,” resident Vi Brunner said. “So have the residents of Heather Hills Estates.”
“A very happy ending,” resident Jan Gorsuch said.

Future Florida Gator Lauren Pierce, competing for KC & the Sunshine Dancers, took first place with her solo ballet at the Edge National Talent Competition in Winter Springs.

Doss, Betts, Butler and Jaworowski.
Big ups to Southeast High School FFA’s Zach Butler, Kaylee Betts, Alyssa Doss and Brie-Ann Jaworowski.
They’re 2013 state champs after topping a 52-team field at the recent State Vegetable Career Development Event in Gainesville.
Butler and Betts finished 1-2 in the competition where students had to identify:
65 kinds and varieties of vegetables.
35 harmful and beneficial insects.
28 different diseases that affect vegetables.
24 kinds of vegetable seeds.
15 types of weeds.
There was also an exam with 25 multiple choice questions related to vegetable gardens in Florida.
Mike Buckley is the FFA adviser.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Good roadside BBQ stand pleasure to find

Every Friday evening  I'd drive by the roadside barbecue stand, beep the horn and keep going.
Sherman would wave back amidst the billowing smoke.
Gotta stop and try out what he's got one of these times, I'd tell myself.
Yet I never did.
Until last Friday night
Glad, too.
For a change, Sherri and I weren't going shopping at Publix, our usual Friday night date, nor did we know what we'd be having for dinner.
It had been a long week for her anyway.
So as I drove by the familiar BBQ stand I pulled over.
I called my wife, told her where I was, what I had in mind for dinner and she said, "OK!"
One problem.
After asking how much for a half-a-rack of ribs and a whole chicken and then ordering same, I realized I was a few dollars short.
Story of my life.
Sherman won my undying gratitude.
And business.
"Pay me the rest next time," he said.
That half-a-rack of ribs was more like a whole slab and we ended up finishing the rest of the chicken for lunch Saturday.
They were excellent.
When I asked Sherman what he used, he said a couple of things I can't remember at the moment.
But I can't forget the last ingredient.
"A whole lotta love," he said.
We drove back by the BBQ stand Saturday afternoon and paid the man what we owed plus a tip.
Drivers beeped their horns while we were there.
Sherman waved back.
"Could be our Friday night routine," Sherri said as we drove away.
It is now.