Friday, June 28, 2013

Late night weekend visitors no longer welcome

It’s been a late night ritual every weekend the last two months.
A club closes, the crowd empties out, piles into cars and heads down U.S. 301 to Sarasota.
Sometimes it’s a convoy of 50 to 60 cars with 200 to 300 people, maybe more, looking for a place to congregate and party some more.
Not all of them are tipsy joyriders, either.
Some are career criminals.
A recipe for disaster.
That’s what Major Kevin Kenney, a commander with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, calls it.
So does Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells.
City of Bradenton Police Chief Mike Radzilowski does, too.
Joined by Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, they’re among the law enforcement officials trying to resolve a nettlesome problem of mutual concern.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

State tournament awaits Cal Ripken All-Stars

Those Manatee Cal Ripken 8-&-Under All-Stars are on their way to state. Manager Lee Heintz’s ballclub remained unbeaten in postseason play, sweeping last weekend’s district tournament in Ocala, beating North Central Florida, 8-4, Oviedo, 9-6, and South Daytona, 9-1. The Cal Ripken State Tournament is July 3-8 in Palm Beach Gardens.
Brittany Wilson’s going to have an interesting summer. She’ll spend five weeks in Ecuador as part of Florida State University’s Travel Abroad Program. Brittany will stay with a host family, immerse herself in the language and take twice-daily classes, too.
 • Adam Mott just earned a bachelors degree in fire and emergency services from the University of Florida. He’s with the Port Charlotte Fire Department.
• That’s 59 years of wedded bliss Sunday for Jack and Darlene Stewart.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

A sentimental snapshot of summer long ago

Three barefoot boys are sitting on a fence in the shade of a big tree and the farmland beyond is veiled in a light haze.
It could be Myakka City.
Or Duette.
It’s Lancaster, Pa.
A few years ago, Sherri and I were driving through Amish country, saw the lads and stopped to take a picture.
Then we lingered awhile and gazed at the scene and its surroundings.
It was a mesmerizing snapshot of summer.
A wistful glimpse at those carefree days of our own youth when school was out, summer truly seemed endless and Labor Day was far, far away.
Summer’s official arrival last Friday, punctuated by the rising of Sunday’s “Super Moon,” brings back those feelings.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's been quite some week for McKechnie Field

Marty the Marauder has got some big dates ahead at McKechnie Field.
What a week for McKechnie Field.
First, the announcement it will host the 2014 Florida State League All-Star Game, bound to be a big bash for B’town.
Then the news its Independence Day celebration is July 2 with country music’s David Nail performing after the Marauders 5:30 p.m. game with Fort Myers.
Finally, 2012 Cy Young winner David Price makes his first rehab start Friday when Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate Charlotte Stone Crabs play the Marauders.
Game time is 5 p.m.

• Palmetto High School’s 74th annual FFA Award recipients were: Kathleen McClure, Farm Bureau Leadership; Aubrey Rife, Star Green Hand Award; Austin Hamblin, Star Agri-Business Award; Kara Varnadore, Jack Gay Leadership Award; Darrylin Cannon, Blue and Gold Spirit Award; Kristie Teachey, FFA Pride Award; Shea Hartford, Agriculture Scholar Award; Tyler Harper, Outstanding Beef Showmanship; Colin Kirker, Outstanding Swine Showmanship; Hannah Farabee, Outstanding Goat Showmanship; Jackie Ervin, Bradenton Kiwanis Award; Caleb Summeralls, Work Horse Award; Sam Jackson, Callon Keen Sr. Award; Chrissy White, Leona Keen Award; Rebecca Keefer, Susan Keen Award; Kelly Lowimore, Horticulture Crop In Honor of B.L. Groover; Avery Kotlarczyk, Jack Gay Dairy Award; Kaitlyn Richman, Outstanding Rabbit Showmanship; Deven Penaloza, Outstanding Poultry Showmanship; Shelby Falsetti, Jeanette Gay Horticulture Award; Bill Tillett, Mosaic; Audrey May, John P. O’Conner Award and CattleWomen Award; Sierra Oliver, Cattle Men Award; Tabetha Lex, Conservation Award.

• The Carl Weeks Retirement Tour makes a stop June 28 at the Palmetto Boys & Girls Club. The Boys & Girls Club of Manatee president, who’s riding off into the sunset in August after 42 years with the organization, will be honored by Denver Bronco Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s DRC Foundation and his father, Stanley Cromartie.
The event is in conjunction with the DRC Foundation’s Summer Basketball Camp Championship Friday awards ceremony at the Palmetto club.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

FDOT estimate on Cortez Bridge job a real lulu

We've known for awhile the ol' Cortez Bridge was heading for some changes.
The Florida Department of Transportation has been making noises about that inevitability off and on for the past 30 years.
High-level fixed span?
Mid-level drawbridge?
Or a major overhaul?
We've heard all that.
What we'd like to know is when does the rubber begin to meet the road on this project?
Uhhh, not so fast, the FDOT said Tuesday in the Manatee County Commission chambers.
They need to "properly assess" the repairs necessary and how much it will cost.
OK, how long should that take?
Better hold onto something.
Three years.
Not three weeks.
Not three months.
Not to actually fix up the bridge.
Just "study" it.
Excuse me, but wasn't it two years ago the FDOT announced a $1.5 million study on the structure's long term future?
And area residents said, hey, you guys have studied this thing long enough, haven't you?
What's more, including that 3-year study, FDOT officials estimate the project -- "We're looking at a rehab option" -- to be an 8-to-10-year job.
For a rehab?
For that amount of time and who knows how many millions, we better be getting something brand spanking new.
Our tax dollars at work, indeed.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lincoln urban farm vandalism hurtful, thoughtless

"I am heartbroken. My eyes are sore from crying."
Those were the words spoken Monday by Kimberly Lough, the agriculture/science teacher and urban farm program director at Lincoln Middle School for the past 10 years.
You feel her pain.
That's because for the second time in less than two weeks, some idiots have vandalized the school program's property, a place where students learn about growing plants hydroponically and vegetables and fruit the old fashioned way.
Now this  happens.
What audacity.
How senseless.
Hydroponic structures were shattered.
Rain barrels turned over.
Greenhouse benches with plants upended.
Tilapia taken out of their tanks and thrown on the concrete floor, left to die.
All told, the consecutive acts of vandalism did nearly $4,000 worth of damage.
This is outrageous.
How will those items be replaced?
Who's going to pay for them?
The Manatee County School District?
Lincoln Middle School?
Don't count on it.
Not with the financial difficulties our public schools are facing.
I hope the Palmetto Police Department arrests whomever is responsible.
Then make those morons pay for it and replace all they ruined.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Referendum going down to the wire

Property tax relief.
Double taxation.
New jobs.
A shell game.
Health care for the poor.
It’ll pay for abortions.
Guess some people didn’t think this campaign had gotten heated up enough over the past few weeks.
So let’s pour a little more gasoline on the fire.
What in blue blazes does abortion have to do with Tuesday’s half-cent sales tax referendum?
Manatee County can be justifiably criticized on enough matters when it comes to spending our tax money, but indirectly funding abortions?

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cal Ripken All-Stars crank out footballish scores

Manatee 8-&-Under Cal Ripken All Stars are (front row) Dylan Reiser, Lucas Viera, Rylen Stockton, batboy Sam Heintz, Ashton Lamb, Tristan Schellinger, Jack Muller; (second row) coach Shane Reiser, Judson Hildreth, Mason McReynolds, Justin Cook, Ryan O'Sullivan, Jaden Stockton, Alex Heintz, Christopher Conboy; (back row) manager Lee Heintz, coach Mike Stockton.
 The Manatee Cal Ripken 8-&-Under All-Stars tuned up for the June 20-23 district tournament in Ocala in overpowering fashion at the recent Suncoast Travel Ball Tournament.
Manager Lee Heintz’s ballclub swept Fort Meade, Sarasota and Riverview by a combined score of 65-0.
The closest score was 7-0; the biggest rout, 27-0.

.• Bob McComas alert! The Slippery Rock University sports information director and former Herald sports guy will be back in B’town for a couple of days beginning Sunday.
He’s now in Orlando at the national SID convention and wants to look up his ol’ pals when he gets here.

.• Blake Riley-Hawkins, a recent Lakewood Ranch High School graduate, will be a wrestling walk-on at Ohio State, the same path brother, Kyle, took a couple of years ago at the Big Ten program.
Blake wrestled at 132 pounds for the Mustangs. Kyle, a junior academically, wrestles at 184 for the Buckeyes.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

School board chair cannot be serious about plaque

Karen Carpenter (left) with MTI chief Mary Cantrell at last February's dedication.

Karen Carpenter cannot be serious.
The chairwoman of the Manatee County School Board wants to replace a plaque --- a plaque! --- at Manatee Technical Institute's new campus on State Road 70.
Its cost? $3,200. Or $5,456 for a rush job.
We'll get to that in a second.
But there is no good reason to even be contemplating this financial foolishness.
Not when the school district over which she is supposed to be a steward has been hemorrhaging millions.
Not when 180 teachers have lost their  jobs.
Not when 96 district staff have lost their jobs.
Not when schools have been closed.
Karen Carpenter cannot be serious.
So what if the present plaque at MTI has former superintendent Tim McGonegal's name on it, even though the explosive revelations of financial mismanagment that rocked the school district last fall erupted on his watch and forced his resignation.
So what if all the names of the current school board --- Carpenter's included --- are not on it.
Nobody in their ight mind, that's who.
Not when this school district is in such dire straits and new Superintendent Rick Mills is trying his darndest pull it off the rocks.
We're obsessing on a plaque?
As if our community needed one more reason to get rid of this school board.
Karen Carpenter cannot be serious.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

School's out, but summer doesn't feel the same

Superintendent Rick Mills
School’s out, but it sure doesn’t feel like the happy days and good times traditionally associated with the start of summer recess.
Maybe for kids, the way it should be.
Can’t say the same for the rest of us who understand and appreciate the important role the education community plays in our town and the vitality it brings to it.
Not after the sturm und drang the Manatee County School District has been going through of late.
Though it’s been anticipated for months there would have to be drastic measures taken after the revelations of astonishing mismanagement by district administration, the numbers brought on by the fallout are still staggering.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Manatee Y Tech High graduates its first class

Keynote speaker Nick Bollettieri congratulates a Manatee Y Tech grad.
Manatee Y Technological High School celebrated its inaugural graduation at the South Florida Museum and the graduates are Kelvin Arrington, Hildus Dawes, Keith Dean, Tron Edmond, Sandra Garcia, Laquinton Hart, Carneshia McCants, William Myers, Dannika Oliver, Crystal Palacios, Marquis Trice, Ashley Watson and Davon Whitfield.
Kiwanis Club of Bradenton also gave the Manatee County YMCA $10,000 for the 59th Street West YMCA SPLASH program.

•  Deacon Jones passing Tuesday touched a lot of people, including Pat Curran, my Lakeland College teammate in Sheboygan, Wis., many moons ago.
Pat played 10 years in the NFL and was a Los Angeles Ram rookie in 1969 when he got a personal introduction to the legendary defensive end in training camp.
“The first time in practice I’m playing tight end and the play was an off-tackle run,” said Pat, now a Snap On Tools exec in Escondido, Calif. “My job, down block the D-end. It was Deacon. The ball got snapped and
all I blocked was air. I asked Deacon, ‘How did you know I was going to block you?’ He answered, ‘You look at me before the snap, Rookie.’
“I never looked at him again, but still had trouble trying to block him.”
That went for half the NFL during Deacon’s 14-year Hall of Fame career.

• Circuit Judge Diana Moreland was the commencement speaker at the Jane B. Pratt Alternative School Just for Girls on Wednesday.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

One way to definitely not begin your morning

Do not try this at home.
Take it from me.
Monday morning I had just gotten back from an hour in the gym on the treadmill. I would normally have walked that hour around our neighborhood, but it was raining.
Anyway, I showered, toweled off and began going through my usual routine getting ready for work.
Deodorant there.
Powder there.
Body lotion there.
But I'd developed a bit of a rash from my elastic shorts and reached for the Cortizone.
Only I couldn't find it in the drawer where I keep those sort of things.
So I opened the medicine cabinet to see if I'd put it there.
Well, there was that good ol' red-and-white tube. I grabbed it, squirted a dab on my hands and began to apply it.
Uh, oooh!
It was BENGAY Ultra Strength.
I jumped back in the shower, turned on the cold water and doused the fire as best I could.
After a few minutes, I was as good as I would be, resumed getting ready for work and made a mental note to myself.
Next time, stupid, wear your glasses.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mural probably emulates superintendent's feelings

Don't know whether Rick Mills is an aficionado of modern art.
Or whether he's ever heard of Edvard Munch.
But I bet that extemporary 2-story mural hanging outside Manatee High School, an imitation of the Norwegian painter's most famous creation, made Manatee County's new school superintendent want to holler, indeed.
Or do a very slow burn.
The mural was made by 300 art students as a protest over school district budget cuts in general and the lack of kilns to make ceramics in particular.
They made the mural unveiled Monday out of trash.
There's a metaphor for you.
Especially on the same day Mills announced the results of a study conducted by a blue-ribbon panel of Florida Association of Area District Superintendents.
The findings?
Absolutely no surprise:
-People were hired without regard to the budget.
-Nobody understood the district's finances.
-The district is dysfunctional.
It's a mess. all right.
"More dire than anticipated," Mills said.
That mural at Manatee was meant to make a statement, but it probably captured the feelings of a new superintendent trying to save a school district that has gone off the rails.
It's enough to make a grown man scream.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Signs that tell you it is hurricane season

Our human resources department emailed each of us an employee locator form, which means one thing.
It’s hurricane season.
The bosses want to know our plans in case of the impending arrival of a Category 1 or higher hurricane.
That’s followed by the question — where will you go if told to evacuate?
I type in the same answer every year.
The Railway Tavern in County Kerry, Ireland, overlooking Tralee Bay.
I wish.
Instead, we’ll all be gearing up for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw our way.
The experts are forecasting an active or extremely active season, which is overstating the obvious because we’ve had nothing but active hurricane season forecasts for the past several years.
Besides, all it takes is one hurricane to ruin your day, not to mention rearrange your life.

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