Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Claire Strickland takes top individual honors in the 54rd Annual Manatee Land Judging Competition

Claire Strickland with award presenter Dan West.
Taking top honors in the 54th annual land judging competition sponsored by the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District was senior 4-H student Claire Strickland. She won the I.H. Stewart Award with the highest individual overall score, reports Gail Cameron Somodi, soil conservation supervisor for Manatee County Government. The top award was sponsored by ECo Consultants.

The 4-H senior team composed of Claire Strickland, Jesse West, Samuel West, and Benjamin Hoffner won the Callon Keen, Sr. Award for the team with the highest score overall. The team also won the senior 4-H division.

The intermediate 4-H team including Shelby Bryan, Janna Groover, Jo Hoffner, and Jay West, placed first in the 4-H intermediate division.  

Placing first in the FFA high school division was a team from Southeast High School, advised by Mike Buckley, with students Kenan Alemhoca, Isabel Cushing, Colt Travis, and Jasmine Villegas.

Placing second was the FFA high school team from Southeast High School, advised by Mike Buckley, with students Luis Solorzano, Jaimie Davis, Samantha Lockhart and McKayla

The FFA high school team from Braden River High School placed third, advised by Deb Barry with students Meagan Gigliotti, Christine King, and Emily Courson.

Buffalo Creek Middle School swept the middle school FFA division. Placing first at the middle school level was the team of John Greer, Caissy Chase, Savannah Cannon, and Camrie Henderson. The second place team, included students Zach Stolze, Faith Gilray, Jade Parrish, and Hannah Hattaway.  In third place, were Mara Behringer, Chloe Flourney, Alexis Orloski, and Sorryl Cannon. Steve Harber, advised all Buffalo Creek FFA students.

Medals were awarded to the high scoring individual at each of four fields.  This year, Claire Strickland was recognized for the highest score (perfect) at two of the four fields in the senior division.  Luis Solorzano and Jasmine Villegas, from Southeast also scored highest at the 3rd and 4th fields, respectively. Villegas had a perfect score at the 4th field.  Junior division winners, both from Buffalo Creek Middle School, were Fields 1, 2, and 3:  John Greer and Field 4: Camrie Henderson.

FFA teams from Haile and Nolan Middle Schools and Palmetto High School also competed. Participating as guests were Charlotte, Pinellas and Orange FFA students. In all, 83 students competed, resulting in one of the largest turnouts in recent years.

The winning FFA teams from Southeast High School, Buffalo Creek Middle School, and the intermediate and senior 4-H teams are eligible to compete in the state land judging competition to be held in late March hosted by the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The competition was held at Ed Chance Reserve-Gilley Creek Tract, a Southwest Florida Water Management District property, on one of the coldest days of the year. Students answered test questions concerning soil properties at four fields in such categories as slope, depth, texture, permeability, erosion and nutrients. One of the fields represented a potential homesite location, and students were questioned on how well the land could serve as a building site.

For more information visit http://landjudging.org/

4-H intermediate team: Shelby Bryan, Janna Groover, Jo Hoffner and Jay West.

4-H Senior Team.

FFA team from Southeast High School.

Students examining one of the fields in the land judging competition.

Chief Judge Juan Vega explains the results of the competition to the students.

FFA team from Buffalo Creek Middle School team.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

East Manatee's Rosedale community steps up to support Homes for Our Troops

Lt. Col. Steven Skelton, who provided the initial information to the Rosedale  community about Homes for Our Troops, is shown with his father, John Skelton.
Rosedale residents have decided that they need to do more than just say "thank you for your service" to grievously wounded members of the military who sacrificed so much in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recently, Rosedale held a golf tournament  that raised $18,275 to help build a specially adapted, mortgage free home for Marine Sgt. Anthony McDaniel in Navarre, Fla., reports Kathi Skelton.

"We started the first year, 2013,  with about a three-week window and just put an informational display and donation box in the pro shop. After sending out an email to Rosedale residents, we raised $4,500," she said.

The second year, 2014, Rosedale added the golf tournament as well as information and donation box in the pro shop, and raised $11,500.

"This year we tried to promote the golf tournament outside of the Rosedale community as well as within and raised the $18,275," Skelton said.

"The Rosedale community is very supportive since they are now very familiar with Homes For Our Troops. We are already looking to next year. The event will be the last Saturday in January and we have identified a new recipient. Our plan is to continue what we have done in the past but try to increase our fundraising goal by trying to solicit larger corporate sponsors," she said.

Purple Heart recipient Larry Gill addressed players after the Rosedale tourney.

Design on Rosedale's first tee.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Photos from Cracker Trail Ride bring us about as close to the event as possible without being there

Cracker Trail riders forge a small stream, and horses pause to take a sip.
Horses and riders streamed out of Kibler Ranch, located about 15 miles east of Bradenton on Saturday, headed to Fort Pierce.

They won't arrive on Florida's east coast until Friday, Feb. 20, as they retrace the cattle drives of the 19th Century.

The event is, of course, the annual Cracker Trail Ride, which takes its name not from Saltines, but the bull whips cowboys used in the old days to drive cattle.

Here are photos sent by smart phone to the Bradenton Herald by trail boss Suzanne Park, and some of the other riders. All were sent from horse back. They give a sense of  the fun and adventure, as well as some of the natural Florida beauty along the trail.


Riders get a view of new crops being readied under plastic.

A portion of the Cracker Trail takes riders along state highways.

Cracker Trail Ride is a family friendly event.

Horse seems to be smiling for the camera.

Togetherness on the trail.

Riders are happy when they reach open country.

Trail boss Suzanne Park.

Riders meet old friends and meet new ones.

Riders take over the road shoulder.

It is possible to kick back on horseback.

Open country.

Mule-drawn covered wagon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chester LeGrange was one of a kind, and he'll be missed by all who knew him

Chester LeGrange, left, with Skip Glasson at Terra Siesta in December.
JAMES A. JONES JR./Bradenton Herald
We met William A. "Chester" LeGrange, 99, while working on a neighborhood feature in December. He lived in Terra Siesta, one of the 55-plus communities along U.S. 301 North in Ellenton.

You knew right away that Chester was something special. He was beloved by his neighbors for his kindness and his concern for others, and his  sprightly sense of humor.

The day we met him, he was with Skip Glasson in a golf cart, and had just picked up a statue of a gnome that he was going to repaint for a neighbor.

Unfortunately, Chester, the oldest resident of Terra Siesta, fell and broke his hip some weeks later. But he lived to see the Bradenton Herald story, and was happy with it, we're told.

You know that the folks in Terra Siesta, and his family members are missing him terribly.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, we lived on 16th Street in Samoset. Each year he would put up a Christmas display that was a block long, He cut every piece out of lumber. The display was animated, and set to music," said his daughter, Norma Kennedy, who is now a civic leader in Parrish.

"People came from miles around to see the display. The ones who knew my family would stop by for coffee and the fruitcake that my mother baked," Kennedy said. "Christmas was always his thing, and when he was older, he would just decorate his golf cart."

In his younger days, Chester's home was on what is now Skyway Memorial Gardens, where was laid to rest.

Charles Lee Howell, property manager at Terra Siesta, says that Chester was the "happiest guy in the place."

Chester looked after his neighbors, and they looked after him, too.

"He was a heck of a carpenter, and there wasn't anything that he couldn't do," Howell said. "I always liked to drop in to see Chester. Some times I would see him napping in his golf cart."

When Dave Warner bought in Terra Siesta 15 years ago, Chester was his neighbor.

"He was pleasant and charming; just a very good neighbor," Warner said.

"Chester was a very active volunteer in the community, and over the years his activities changed as he got older, He used to lead all the golf cart parades. Chester was going great guns until the day he went down," Warner said.

Chester passed away Jan. 10, 2015.

He was born in Princeton, Ind., on Oct. 22, 1915. On December 23, 1936, He married Ruth Saunders LeGrange in 1936.

He was a carpenter at Miller's Trailers and Rasmussen Construction until retirement.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to Emmanuel Baptist Church, 8305 US 301, Parrish, FL 34219.

In case you missed that Terra Siesta feature, you can read it here, and learn a little more about Chester and his neighbors:


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Parrish residents come together to clean up their historic cemetery

Parrish residents gathered to tend the graves at Parrish's historic cemetery on Saturday.

An awesome day.

That's what Iris McClain calls Saturday, Jan. 17, when 65 black and white residents of Parrish got together to clean up the historic Parrish Cemetery.

"It was a community thing," said Floyd Dozier, who has many relatives buried there. "I think it was a good idea."

The cemetery, which opened in 1876 with the burial of an infant, Rose Lee Turner, belongs to all residents of Parrish, and is historically important to  Manatee County.

Major William Iredell Turner, a Seminole War and Civil War veteran, was a Parrish pioneer and Bradenton's first postmaster, when it was still called Braidentown.

Also interred there are World War I and World War II veterans.

Originally, blacks and whites were buried in separate parts of the cemetery.

But, that was many years ago.

"We took that fence down a long time ago," McClain said.

"What a wonderful day we all had on Saturday. It turned out to be a beautiful day with at least 65 people showing up to help make this old historical cemetery look beautiful again," she said.

"We all got to see people that we have not seen in awhile. When stopping long enough to rest a few minutes, we would visit a little and then get back to work," McClain said.

Prime movers in rallying the community to cleanup the cemetery were longtime pillars Vivian Boice and JoAnn Rogers.

"Our cemetery was just going down, down," Rogers said of her decision to personally recruit neighbors to come to the cleanup.

"We are all God's children. I asked the Lord to let me live a bit longer until we got the cemetery cleaned up," said Rogers, 86.

In addition to locals, some volunteers came from outside the county to tend to relative's graves.

McClain spent her day weeding around the graves of infants and children so that their names and other poignant information could be read.

"We plan to have another work day when the old leaves fall and the new leaves come in," she said. That should be some time in the spring.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ellenton's Colony Cove residents aid Marines by digging deep for Toys for Tots drive

Colony Cove residents donated 15 bikes for the Toys for Tots drive.
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

A little Christmas elf -- well actually it was Vickie Cochran -- told us that Colony Cove residents came through in a big way with their Toys For Tots drive on Dec 7.

"Sponsored by the New England Club this year, Santa's little helpers, collected over 800 toys including 15 various sizes of bicycles.  Also, the business community along U.S. 301 participated with boxes and also donated several toys for our drive," Vickie said.

Colony Cove residents collected $1,000 which will be used in Manatee County  for special needs kids.  The  money will help pay for  adjusting toys in a way that children with special needs will be able to ride or play with them.

Colony Cove residents started their evening with a spaghetti and meatball dinner, made by Fred and Carol Roselli.  Many volunteers helped out with serving more than 200 meals.

After dinner, residents got into their golf carts and drove through the community in their Christmas attire to pick up toys. The Marines came with their truck and collected the toys.

"All the residents involved hope that this will put a smile on a child's face come Christmas morning.  We all enjoyed being Santa.  Next year we hope the drive will be even bigger and better.  Thank you to all involved," Vickie Cochran said.

Spaghetti dinner for Colony Cove residents, and a ton of toys for kids..
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

Spaghetti dinner for Colony Cove residents, and a ton of toys for kids..
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Artists at Palm-Aire open their 23rd season with circus theme, circus legends

Pedro Reis, Helen Martin (Committee chair) and Dolly Jacobs.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

The Art Association of Palm-Aire opened its 32nd season with a champagne luncheon this month at the Palm-Aire Country Club, reports Charleen Gorbet.

Famed aerialist Dolly Jacobs and her husband Pedro Reis spoke to the packed house about their life in the circus, and Dolly added anecdotes about her father Lou Jacobs, renowned as one of the foremost professional clowns in the world.  His star was installed on the Circus Ring of Fame at St. Armand’s Circle in 1988.

If Lou was known as King of the Clowns, Dolly was Queen of the Air.  Her many accolades include her own star on the Circus Ring of Fame, awarded in 1997.  But Dolly did not speak of these; she and Pedro, who met on a circus tour, now share their passion for circus arts as founders of The Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota.

They developed and manage Circus Sarasota and its youth version, Sailor Circus.  Through teaching, outreach into the community, and performance, they promote and help to maintain the love of circus for which Sarasota is famous.

The circus theme was carried out with table decorations made by the members, and a  menu that used champagne in each dish.

Judy Hall with table decoration honoring Lou Jacobs.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

Circus scene became table decoration.
Provided photo by Nan Miller