Friday, November 6, 2015

One-room school house in Duette hosts fall festival Saturday, Nov. 7

Donna King at Duette Elementary School. Herald file photo

DUETTE -- Donna King, the longtime principal of Duette Elementary, is back in the classroom of the one-teacher schoolhouse again this year, and loving it.

The public has an opportunity to learn why King loves the school and its students so much by attending the 2015 Duette Elementary Fall Festival noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7.

Planned at the school, which originally opened in 1930 at 40755 State Road 62, are tours, food (hamburgers, hot dogs, fried green tomatoes, nachos, and barbecue sandwiches), crafters, and folk singer JD Lewis.

There will also be an auction at 2 p.m. with tickets to Disney, Sea World, Dinosaur World, and more up for bid. Other bid items include bikes, restaurant gift certificates, and a fishing trip.

Duette Elementary is Florida's last one-room school.

This year, the school has an enrollment of 11, and  Keen says she is retiring after this year.

"I really am retiring but no one believes it," said the 67-year-old cancer survivor.

For more information call 941-721-6674.
Duette Elementary School. Herald file photo

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lakewood Ranch Community Fund awarding $76,500 grants to local nonprofits

Meals on Wheels Plus is one of the nonprofits that will benefit from the latest round of grant awards from the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund. Shown above is Lakewood Ranch volunteer Don O'Leary. Herald photo

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund has selected 26 charitable or nonprofit organizations to share $76,500 in grants to be awarded from 4 to 5 p.m. Friday at Northern Trust Community Room, 6320 Venture Drive, Lakewood Ranch.

The John Clarke Humanitarian Award, normally awarded during the grant presentations, will instead be announced during a gala in March.

Grants range from $6,500 to the Stillpoint House of Prayer to help feed the needy to $500 to McNeal Elementary School for a fourth-grade claymation project.

The complete list:

Beyond the Spectrum - $3,500 to purchase technology items (tablets and walkie-talkies) to be used for education and communication purposes.

Childrens Guardian Fund - $2,500 to provide enrichment services for children in foster and State care.

Coexistence/Embracing Our Differences - $2,000 to provide school bus transportation to the Embracing our Differences exhibits.

Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities - $2,500 to Selby Preschool support for therapy, training and counseling.

Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing - $3,500 for communications program at Beyond The Spectrum for Lakewood Ranch children.

Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County - $4,000 to to purchase "Raising a Reader" book-kits consisting of books, book bags, library bags, and parent DVD.

Easter Seals Southwest Florida - $5,000 for Project Rainbow program support providing respite care services.

Elks Feeding Empty Little Tummies - $2,000 to purchase food for the backpack program.

Family Network on Disabilities of Manatee/Sarasota - $3,500 to provide in-home respite care services.

Family Resources - $1,800 for shelter enhancements (new blinds) and therapeutic rewards for youth.

Feeding Empty Little Tummies - $2,000 to sponsor children with weekend meals for the 2015/2016 school year.

Foundation for Dreams - $5,000 to provide scholarships for children to attend Dream Oaks Summer, Spring Break and/or weekend camp programs.

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida - $2,500 to support the "STEM Saturday" program in Lakewood Ranch.

Benjamin David Gullett Elementary School - $3,000 to support the "Power Hour" after school tutoring program.

Junior Achievement Sarasota/Manatee Chapter - $3,100 for Braden River Elementary School field trip to JA "BizTown".

Lakewood Ranch High School - $1,200 to purchase (4) Activeon DX Action Camcorders to be used in the Filmmaking/Media Literacy class.

Making Connections Counseling - $2,000 to support Mental Health Counseling (individual, family, couples, and group counseling).

Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary School - $500 to purchase materials needed to do a Claymation (Clay Animation) project in 4th grade.

Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee - $2,500 to purchase equipment for a media center at Daybreak Adult Day Center.

Miracle League of Manasota - $2,900 to purchase one adult changing table and two child changing tables for field restrooms.

Myakka City Foundation - $3,000 to purchase food for the food pantry.

Nature's Academy - $1,500 to support fifth grade students and teachers to participate in the Science Literacy Project.

Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) - $3,000 to provide partial and full scholarships of 120 therapeutic riding sessions to children with special needs.

Stillpoint House of Prayer - $6,500 to support the Benevolent Fund (for purchase of food for the needy). Includes $1,500 grant from John & Lydia Kolbas Fund.

Visible Men Academy - $2,500 to support Literacy on the Lawn and Literacy Labs programs.

Manatee County Family YMCA - $5,000 to assist the Y DASH Program for students attending Haile, Nolan and Braden River middle schools.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What about P.J.'s? Teresa Giles says her Parrish sandwich shop can't grow without county service

Teresa Giles of P.J.'s Sandwich Shop.
Herald photo
In a recent Bradenton Herald story, Sia Mollanazar, Manatee County's deputy director of public works, talked about the timetable for bringing sewer to the village of Parrish.

The southern half of Parrish already has sewer, everything south of County Road 675.

And the northern half will be getting it too, all the way to Erie Road. Parrish has been around for well over a century, and most residents probably don't mind waiting another year or so to have the modern convenience that we take for granted.

It'll happen as soon as developers start those big new developments around Parrish.

But just a minute, said Teresa Giles, owner of P.J.'s sandwich shop, which has been serving its tasty sandwiches for more than 30 years.

"What about us?" said Giles. Her sandwich shop is located north of Erie Road.

"I would love to be able to increase my seating, but I can't expand without sewer," Giles said.

At lunch time, P. J.'s has a crush of business, with customers literally lining up out the door to order a sandwich.

"We're at a standstill. I feel like we are always behind the eight ball," Giles said.

Mollanazar has an answer for Giles.

Sewer will become available to P.J.'s, located at the corner of State Road 62 and U.S. 301 North, when Cone Ranch, is built, Mollanazar said.

Cone Ranch, which is located several miles east of P. J.'s on S.R. 62, will need to run a sewer line to Parrish before it can start moving residents into the new homes planned there.

The Herald previously reported that 1,100 homes are planned for Cone Ranch.

Also planned near Cone Ranch are 584 homes by Neal Land Ventures on the Dakin Homestead.

The force main from Cone Ranch will be installed right next to P.J.'s, Mollanazar said.

The developer of Cone Ranch will install the sewer line, but the county will also participate in the project, Mollanazar sid.

"The idea is for growth to pay for itself," he said.

For more on P.J.'s and Parrish sewer improvements, check these links:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Parrish's Amber Putnam becomes first woman to command Florida Veterans of Foreign Wars

Amber Putnam at VFW State Convention in Orlando.
It's a record year for women commanders at state headquarters of Veterans of Foreign Wars around the United States.

This year, seven women took the helm at state VFWs, the most ever.

Never had a woman commanded the Florida VFW, however, until Amber Putnam of Parrish was installed on Sunday, June 14, at the state convention in Orlando.

Putnam, an Air Force veteran, was installed as the 85th commander of the combat veterans non-profit organization with more than 70,000 members.

For the next year she will lead the members who work in their communities to foster patriotism, assist veterans and their families and act as strong advocates for legislation affecting veterans’ benefits.

Putnam served in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve from 1978 to 2013 in worldwide assignments to include support of Operation Noble Eagle in Kuwait.

Her goals for the Florida veterans group are to support and attract younger veterans as well as women and minorities and re-invigorate the organization’s mission of fostering patriotism and service in the community.

For those interested in more information about the VFW mission and membership, visit or call 352-622-5126.

For more information:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Palm-Aire Country Club womens golf tournament has a classic fairy tale edge, really!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, second place winners.
Ruth Bley of Palm-Aire Country Club told us about her community's annual Spring Fling Golf Tournament on March 17 and March 19.

The Spring Fling is Palm-Aire's biggest ladies event of the year. This year the theme was Once Upon a Time: Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes, chaired by Barbara Saabye.

 A committee of 12 transformed the clubhouse into a fairy tale and wonderland. The field included 116 players, all of whom, paraded around in creative costumes.


The Brothers Grimm flight -- Pam Webster, Judy Bickford, Donna Neale, and Jimmy Hayes.

The Mother Goose flight -- Linda Miller, Debbie Stehle, Patty Stehle and Sally Read.

Aesop's Fables flight --Sherri Patchen, Tracy Graham, Lola White, and Pauline Bennett.

Hans Christian Andersen flight -- Verna Reber, Anne Pistilli, Linda Kitz, and Sandy Plette.

Raffle proceeds were donated to The Campaign for Grade Level Reading which is an innovative national reading program committed to help children become better readers.

The two-day event included a costume parade, lunch followed by golf on Tuesday, then golf on Thursday morning with a grand finale of dinner and prize awards, and a bedtime fairy tale, scripted and read by Anne Millard on Thursday evening.

Blackbirds, first place in the costume contest.

Red Riding Hoods.

First prize cart winner. Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lakewood Ranch woman chosen for Elizabeth Dole Foundation Fellows program

Patti and Kenneth Katter.
Patti Katter of Lakewood Ranch has been chosen for the 2015  class of military and veteran caregivers chosen for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Fellows program.

The fellowship is a national program of military and veteran caregivers who have stepped forward to serve as advocates and spokespeople for the 5.5 million parents, spouses, children and other loved ones caring for America’s wounded, ill and injured warriors.

“Our Fellows are the heart and soul of our Foundation’s work,” said Dole in a press release Friday. “The wisdom of their personal experience is invaluable, and it helps guide the focus of our National Coalition. I am personally grateful that these hidden heroes would add to the selfless service they already provide as caregivers by volunteering to represent the millions of their peers in need of better support from our nation.”

For more about the fellowship, visit

For more about Patti Katter and her family's service, visit

Art Association of Palm-Aire members visit studios of Clyde Butcher and Bill Farnsworth

Big Cypress National Preserve by Clyde Butcher.
Members  of the Art Association of Palm-Aire annually plan and take  a bus trip as a fundraiser for a scholarship awarded to a local student of the Ringling College of Art and Design.

This year, 72 members  visited the studios of famed Florida photographer Clyde Butcher and painter Bill Farnsworth in Venice, reports Charleen Gorbet.

Butcher is known for his large-scale black-and-white images of natural Florida and is particularly passionate about saving the Everglades.

A collection of Butcher's photos were shown at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2012.

 "We had a wonderful time seeing the artist in his Venice studio," Palm-Aire's Barb Gold said.  "He showed us his amazing cameras, and gave an explanation of the manual film processing techniques used to produce the immense black-and-white pictures seen throughout his studio. They show incredible highlights, subtle background and design in each hand-made print.”

Sharpness is the key to Butcher's nature portraits.

"That makes the viewer relate to my images in a way that is similar to the peace felt when being out in nature. I want my images to create a positive emotion in people, with the hope that they carry that emotion out into their lives to make the world a better place in which to live," Butcher said.

The Palm-Aire artists also got to  meet painter Bill Farnsworth, and one of the artists, Barb Saabye, won a drawing for one of his prints.

Farnsworth is a nationally known illustrator, portraitist and landscape painter,

"My goal with my work is to paint what I love and convey that honestly so the viewer can feel that as well," he said.
Barb Saabye and Bill Farnsworth.