Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving weekend? Christmas decorations!

"Honey, guess what we’re doing next weekend?”
My wife’s words pierced the noise of whatever NFL football game we were watching on TV like a bullet pass last Sunday.
Sherri always accuses me of never listening to her, but I heard her this time.
Loud and clear.
It was a rhetorical question, actually.
If it’s the weekend after Thanksgiving, then we are going to be putting up our Christmas decorations!
Can I get an amen, fellas?
Think I’m in good company when it comes to getting around to this annual pre-holiday exercise.
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Delaneys' busy Veterans Day in Washington

Lakewood Ranch’s Bob and Billie Delaney were in Washington for a series of Veterans Day-related functions, including a wreath-placing ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visiting war wounded.
He also spoke to an audience of 1,300-plus about operational stress/post traumatic stress education and awareness.
The former NBA referee even got out the ol’ whistle and worked a basketball game between troops stationed at Quantico, Va.
Judge John Lakin and  London's Sarah Pooley
• Twelfth Judicial Circuit Judge John Lakin recently spoke at the American Bar Association International Conference in London.
• Don’t forget Jeanne Parrish is 95 years  young Monday.
If you’d like to send a card, her address is:
6410 21st Ave. W.
Bradenton, Fl. 34209.
• There’s a rummage sale/fundraiser for Braden River High School’s chorus and band, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Dec. 7 at school, 6545 State Road 70 East. Call Maryann McDevitt at 941-742-3972 for details.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday raffle by Women's Leadership Initiative

Want to help Manatee County youth and get a limo ride for your generosity?
Then the United Way's Women's Leadership Initiative wants to talk to you.
These devoted women are sponsoring a Holiday Treasure Chest Raffle loaded with goodies like fine dining, the theater, golf and so much more.
There will be a holiday celebration 5:30-7:30 p.m., Dec. 5 at Ezra Cafe, 5629 Manatee Ave.W., Bradenton.
Among the goodies to be had are:
• Longboat limousine/3-hour rental (tip extra) valued at $350.
• Perrier Jouet champagne and flutes.
• Eat Here gift certificate valued at $75.
• Sandbar Restaurant gift certificate valued at $40.
• Ferraro's gift certificate valued at $25.
• Two tickets to Selby Lights in Bloom valued at $30.
• A pass for four to Longboat Key Club Islandside Golf Course valued at $300.
• A pass for four to Longboat Key Club Harborside Golf Course valued at $300.
• American Express gift card valued at $50.
• Two flats of Honeyside Farms strawberries valued at $50.
• Two Island Players Theater tickets valued at $40.
• Two massage gift certificates.
Visit for more details.
Or call 941-748-1313.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Friday craziness not for this husband

Black Friday was never for me.
Or my wife.
So I thought.
When it comes to shopping of any kind, I'm a hit-and-run guy.
I get what I need and get out.
The exception is when Sherri and I are grocery shopping at  Publix.
Our Friday night date, I like to call it.
Sometimes it's Saturday morning.
Whenever, it takes us awhile and I'm OK with that.
It's spending quality time together.
Or something like that.
But Black Friday?
When I hear friends gush about their experiences waiting on long lines outside a store in the wee hours before crashing the place to scoop up deals on who-knows-what, I just shake my head.
That is not for me.
Which is why I was amused when Sherri said she and her mother were going to join countless other Manatee County folks in this week's nocturnal shopping madness.
They've got a bead on one store that's got some great discounts on items of family interest and are gearing up to do their thing Thursday night.
Since the family is coming to our place for the traditional meal, we could be having Thanksgiving lunch.
Or breakfast.
When Sherri asked if I wanted to go along, I said no thanks.
She has Friday off.
I don't.
So I'll be sleeping.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bradenton Naval officer promoted to commander

A salute to Dan Brown, recently promoted to the rank of commander in the U. S. Navy.
The oldest of 11 children, he earned a degree in physics from The Citadel and an MBA in business from Embry-Riddle University and is stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.
Parents Margaret and George are proud. So are siblings Katie, Paul, Greg, Beth, Maureen, Megan, David, Maria, Carlos and Agustin.
• The indefatigable Jeanne Parrish, a beloved longtime English teacher at Manatee High School, will be 95 years young Dec. 2.
Like to send her a birthday card?
Mail it to:
Jeanne Parrish
6410 21st Ave. W.
Bradenton, Fl. 34209.
• Boston native Dora Langlois must be the oldest Red Sox fan in Manatee County, hands down. She’s 98 and followed them since childhood. Her secret to longevity? Besides a lifelong passion for the  Bosox, she told BayNews 9’s Summer Smith, she’s never drank or smoked and always used Ponds Cold Cream.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas comes early at Palmetto Historical Park

Christmas lights are already sprouting up around our community, have you noticed?
Well, circle Dec. 6-7 on your calendar as we continue getting ready for the holidays.
That's when the Palmetto Historical Park and Manatee County Agricultural Museum, 515 10th Ave. W.,  will celebrate its annual old fashioned Christmas from 5-9 p.m. both days.
There will be creatively decorated buildings, kids’ crafts, entertainment and, of course, Santa!
Themed around the 1940s, featured activities include letters to soldiers, a “Memory Tree” in the Military Museum, “Cooking on a Ration” recipes to collect in each of the park buildings, contests for prizes, model trains, a petting corral and letters to Santa.
St. Nick will arriving by fire truck at 6 p.m., so bring your camera for a photo.
Food vendors on the premises include Word of Mouth BBQ, Demetrio’s Pizza, Impact  Community Church 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.
On Friday night, the Palmetto Public Library across the street will be doing face painting, holiday photos and a children’s book and holiday ring giveaway.
Call 941-721-2034 for details.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Old ghosts, wild game a birthday present make

My 64th birthday was in October, but a gift arrived two weeks before.
It was up on the Lakeland College scoreboard, lights aglow in the gathering darkness enshrouding Taylor Memorial Field on Oct. 5 in Sheboygan, Wis.
HOME 40, GUEST 34.
Coach Kevin Doherty's Muskies had triumphed in one of the craziest and longest football games I'd ever attended, beating Wisconsin Lutheran in overtime.
Lakeland's season ends Saturday, but that was a memorable homecoming for several reasons.
I had not seen the Muskies play in many, many moons.
Try 46 years.
In fact, the last Lakeland football game I saw, I played in it.
It was Nov. 4, 1967 in Watertown, Wis.
I was 18, a freshman walk-on and the Muskies were blowing out Northwestern College.
With an insurmountable 61-13 lead, assistant coach Gary Wynveen sent me in on defense during garbage time -- the only time I ever got into a game -- during our eighth straight win for the Gateway Conference championship.
It was also our season finale because we just missed the NAIA playoffs.
We'd have done some damage for sure.
That squad was loaded with talent, led by Pat Curran, who played 10 years in the NFL, and ornery players who gave no quarter between the sidelines.
Our head coach was John Thome and he was another reason I'd come back to campus that rainy weekend.
He died in 2011 and the college was dedicating a monument and practice field in his name.
We were his first team at Lakeland and he and athletic director Duane "Moose" Woltzen gave me my chance to be part of something I will cherish always.
Thome coached the Muskies 14 seasons, won seven conference championships and was the program's winningest coach.
His widow, three children and grandchildren were at the ceremony.
Hearing a son and daughter talk so proudly of their dad sent me back.
Coach had gotten engaged to their mother my freshman year.
There were a number of former Muskies present at the ceremony from Thome's teams, but it was just me and Greg Weinfurt, an offensive center, representing the 1967 team, a squad that produced 14 Lakeland Hall of Famers, Weinfurt included.
I was hoping more of our teammates would be there, but time moves on and it hasn't been kind to us all.
Kit Redman had died recently, Greg said.
Kit and I were the two smallest players on the squad, each of us weighing about 145 pounds.
He was a hardnosed kid from Columbus City, Ind., and kicked my butt a few times in practice.
I wondered whether Kit and I could've played for the 2013 Muskies, now an NCAA Division-III program.
It would've been a gas in that wild homecoming game that began at 1 p.m. and didn't end until almost 6 p.m.
Just before halftime, the daylong fog turned into a nasty storm that chased players and fans from the field.
Lightning and a torrential downpour lasted nearly two hours.
It was just like Florida.
I spent some of the downtime cooling out in my rental car, a sweet canary yellow Camaro that drew some amusing reactions on campus.
When I arrived Friday evening, a couple of co-eds yelled out, "Nice car!"
Happened Saturday, too.
Too bad it wasn't 1967 again.
Before the second half resumed, the few of us who remained climbed back into the old stadium stands and I gazed around a place that's still got a hold on my heart, a grip on my soul.
Though mist still cloaked the campus, fall colors were beginning to show in the surrounding forests.
My favorite ghosts were out there and we were together again for a memorable Saturday afternoon in rural Wisconsin.
Lakeland and Lutheran traded touchdowns through the second half.
There would be 999 yards of total offense, 10 touchdowns and 42 first downs before it was over.
We just weren't sure when it would end.
Or how.
The last thing Muskie fans wanted was overtime.
Taylor Field has no lights.
Yet OT was exactly what happened.
The Muskies scored first, but the PAT was blocked.
If Lutheran scored and kicked their PAT, it was game over.
But the Muskies held.
When that fourth-down pass sailed incomplete, they ran together in a mad celebration, joined by the few fans left.
Yours truly was among them.
I shook hands, bumped fists, slapped shoulder pads and congratulated as many Muskies as I could in the merry melee.
A college football commentator, once a player himself, observed a similarly joyous scene after an SEC game earlier this season. He said it was the kind of rapturous moment former players wish they could all share again, but never really can.
I came close.
'Twas a fitting 64th birthday present, indeed.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Somber anniversary brings back many memories

The school play had just ended when the principal came to the podium that Friday afternoon at Nazareth High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.
I’m not sure whether any of my classmates realized the terrible irony in what Brother Thaddeus was about to tell us after we’d watched “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare’s tragedy about assassination.
It was Nov. 22, 1963.
President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, the stately Xaverian Brother prelate said, and news reports were he was dead.
Let us pray for him, he commanded.
Almost as one, the entire student body of Catholic high school boys fell to their knees.
I will never forget it.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Will Poston leave his two-headed coin at home?

Mayor Wayne Poston, here with architect Rick Fawley at McKechnie Field, will venture onto Hawkins Stadium's allowed turf for a pregame ceremony Friday night.
Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston will do the coin-flip honors before Friday night’s Class 8A-Region 3 quarterfinal between Vero Beach and Manatee at Hawkins Stadium. Hizzoner swears it won’t be a two-headed coin.
• VFW Post 10141’s Dan Suca is the Manatee County Veterans Council’s Auxiliary Member of the Year.
Jeff Hernden’s Braden River Pirates JV girls soccer team defeated his alma mater, Manatee, 2-0. Emma Tallas and Athena Kavis scored the goals and keeper McKenzie Moritz got the shutout.
• That wily ol’ stork is due April 17 for Chandler McClung and sweetheart J.T. Goode.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Imagine hunter's explanation about fake Bambi

Brett Russel Thompson must be embarrassed these days.
Mighty embarrassed.
He's the Myakka City fellow who got busted last Saturday morning after Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officers nabbed him for shooting a deer in rural East Manatee, according to the arrest report.
Except it wasn't a real deer.
It was a robotic deer.
Love to have been the fly on the wall when Thompson tried to explain that to his hunting buddies.
That ol' boy was in for some serious ragging.
I can hear it now.
A fake deer! Son, how'd you fall for that?
Sounds like he's not the first one.
Turns out the FWC has been using a fake Bambi for years to put a dent in poaching.
Evidently, the area they caught Thompson, south of State Road 70, has been a popular spot for hunters who figured they can bag a deer out of season and nobody knows better.
Well, when residents complained, the FWC listened.
Fake Bambi strikes back!
"It has been a great tool," said an FWC official. "Once word gets out there is a fake deer out there, it deters the bad hunting."
Bad hunting that can be expensive, too.
Oh, yeah.
Thompson posted $1,120 in bonds to get out of jail and faces a Dec. 12 court date.
If convicted, he's looking at a year in the slammer and $2,500 in fines.
Wonder if Thompson will take another crack at deer hunting before then?
Hunting season south of SR 70 opens Nov. 23 in Manatee County.
It opened north of SR 70 Nov. 2.
Maybe the man got his dates and directions mixed up, eh?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Salvation Army needs turkeys for Thanksgiving

Brother, can you spare a turkey?
If so, the Salvation Army Manatee County can use it.
A bunch, actually.
For the annual Thanksgiving dinner, 4-6 p.m. Nov. 28, the nonprofit at 1204 14th St. W., volunteers and staff are preparing to serve 500 meals, but in order to do so they need turkeys.
An estimated 100 turkeys will be used.
“The Manatee County community has always been so generous providing us with the supplies needed to prepare a traditional holiday meal for our neighbors,” saids Major Dwayne Durham, Manatee County Regional Coordinator. “Once again we are asking our friends within the community to journey with us as we make the commitment to journey with others.”
For many struggling families a consistent meal is the first step in their journey towards stability.
In addition to turkeys other needs include pies and desserts, vegetables, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Anyone interested in donating a turkey or other supplies to the community Thanksgiving dinner can drop off donations at 1204 14th St. W., 8:30am to 4:30pm. Monday through Friday.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday night lights shined brightly for Paul Maechtle

The job feeler had come from one of the Manatee school district’s assistant superintendents several years ago.
Paul Maechtle was asked if he might be interested in working downtown in administration some day.
Southeast High School’s venerable head football coach politely passed on the idea, which, given his droll sense of humor, he probably found amusing.
Paul Maechtle, a suit?
No, thank you.
It would’ve meant giving up coaching, something ingrained in him since he was a kid in Wisconsin, and doing it on a familiar tableau in an annual autumn ritual so many had the privilege of sharing with him for 40 years.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ohlman 2013 Carolina League Player of the Year

Big ups to Michael Ohlman, the 2013 Topps/MiLB Carolina League Player of the Year. The Frederick Keys catcher won the league batting crown (.313), took first with a club record slugging percentage (.524) and was third in on-base percentage (.410). Over 100 games, the ex-Lakewood Ranch Mustang had 29 doubles, 13 homers, 53 RBIs and a .934 OPS.
• Please remember Jane Evers in your prayers.
• Cortez author Joe Crawford signis his new book, “Arianna and the Spanish Sardines,” Saturday at the Boatyard Bash at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W.
As in his previous book, “Nathan and the Stone Crabs,” Crawford keeps it here, writing about Arianna visiting her grandfather in the fishing village of DeSoto on Perico Island. Arianna learns about bait fishing by hauling up Spanish sardines and finds out about local history and local landmarks.
• A salute to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin Ingraham, promoted on Oct. 1 at Forward Operating Base Tagab in Afghanistan. Ingraham is a squad leader with the 10th Mountain Division.
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Monday, November 4, 2013

River search sobering contrast to Riverwalk event

The helicopter circled high over the Manatee River, rotating around the DeSoto Bridge and just west of it.
A boat with its lights flashing trolled the same area beneath the chopper.
It was a grim ritual on a beautiful Sunday afternoon as law enforcement maintained its search for 51-year-old  Gary Robinson, who family members said jumped from the bridge around noon Saturday.
It was a sobering scene for the thousands of people who flocked to Taste of Manatee on the Riverwalk.
People ate ice cream along the railing, watching the quest for the missing man, then turning back to the sprawling affair for more fun and frolic.

Dance teams of little girls sang and performed at the bandshell before an appreciative crowd, while not far from there, Robinson's relatives kept a vigil underneath the DeSoto Bridge.
A jarring juxtaposition, if there ever was one.
More than a day later there was still no sign of the Bradenton man, described as someone who was fun, smiled a lot and had a knack for making people laugh.
They said he was going to get married soon, too.
Which makes you wonder what drove him to jump from the DeSoto Bridge.
Robinson had served more than half his life in jail, but had been a free man for the last two years.
Were not the bad times behind him?
Authorities finally found Robinson's corpse around nightfall.
But that was a few hours off when we left Taste of Manatee to go home.
The helicopter was still circling overhead.
The boat with it lights flashing stayed on its mission. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

School district budget mess? What year is this?

We may have gone back in time last week and we didn’t even realize it.
That it was near Halloween is appropriate, because it was scary.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t make believe.
To wit:
The Manatee County School District revealed on Monday its budget was short $3.9 million in unaccounted expenditures.
The school board was shocked! Shocked!
“We were not prepared and the information was not provided ahead of time,” said school board member David Miner.
If you think you’ve heard that somewhere before, you’re right.
Can you say deja vu?
It was about a year ago when a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall was divulged and forced Tim McGonegal’s abrupt resignation as superintendent. Amidst a public outcry, it brought about an overdue and significant overhaul in the district administration, not to mention the arrival of a new superintendent, Rick Mills.
Well, here it is a year later and we’re back to this bad budget business again?
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