Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy season . . .

It's the season for high school graduations.

This is Manatee County's biggest graduation week with the community celebrating 12 commencements:

Wednesday, May 27, Palmetto High, 7 p.m. at the Manatee Convention and Civic Center

Thursday, May 28, Lakewood Ranch High , 7 p.m., at the Manatee Convention and Civic Center.

Thursday, May 28, Edison Academy, 6:30 p.m., Bayshore Gardens Park and Recreation Center, 6919 26th St. W., Bradenton

Friday, May 29, Southeast High graduation, 7 p.m., Manatee Convention and Civic Center

Friday, May 29, Saint Stephen’s graduation, 7:30 p.m., Bradenton Municipal Auditorium

Friday, May 29, Bradenton Christian School graduation, 7 p.m., First Church of the Nazarene on 59th Street West

Friday, May 29, Manatee School for the Arts, 7-9 p.m. MCC Neel Auditorium

Saturday, May 30, Bayshore High graduation, 9 a.m., Manatee Convention and Civic Center

Saturday, May 30, Braden River High graduation, noon, Manatee Convention and Civic Center

Saturday, May 30, Out-of-Door Academy graduation, 2 p.m. Thunderdome at the Uihlein Campus, 5950 Deer Drive, Lakewood Ranch.

Saturday, May 30, Central High/Horizons graduation, 4 p.m., Manatee Convention and Civic Center

Saturday, May 30, Manatee High graduation, 8 p.m., Manatee High’s Hawkins Stadium.

Congratulations to the grads and their families!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Keep those canned goods coming!

Did you remember to put your canned goods out for your postal carrier on Saturday? It's the kind of thing I might often forget, but not this time. We contributed several cans of tuna, chicken breast and lemon pudding for the cause.

Later in the week, I had the opportunity to write a story about the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, and the last report I heard was that more than 140,000 pounds of canned goods were collected.

Nancy Thurkettle, who coordinates the postal carrier drive, said the support was heart-warming, and marveled that if every household put out at least one canned-good item, what a mountain of food that might be.

I can't remember a time when it seemed so possible that any of us could find ourselves in the predictament of needing help feeding our families.

Depending on the post office, postal carriers delivered their goods collected to either the Food Bank of Manatee or St. Joseph's Church. I had a pretty good idea about the scope of the wonderful work done by the Food Bank of Manatee, but I didn't know so much about St. Joseph's. It was eye-opening the scope of the pantry operation there.

As Kristen Theisen of the Food Bank noted, however, Saturday was a great day, but the need is so immense that unfortunately local hunger is far from defeated.

For everyone who gave, good job! And those who forgot, contact your favorite food pantry. They would love to hear from you!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Operation Prom

Operation Prom is quite an ambitious program aimed at local high school kids to give them pause about drinking and driving.

It includes a dramatized accident complete with first responders and real life testimony from the folks who have to deal with the carnage.

More than 800 Lakewood Ranch High School students received the program Thursday, and it will be presented at Bayshore High today.

Here's a note from a reader on today's article:

"I read you wonderful article this morning on the consequences of bad choices. We can only hope and pray that the reenactment shows our students what really does happen. It is with the help of all the dedicated departments you printed, however, you did leave out one company. Matt's Express Towing & Recovery, Inc., (Matt McKinnon, owner) is the company that stores the two DUI vehicles and sets up that portion of the scenario's for the high schools (at least LWR Ranch and Bayshore this year). Last year it was Braden River High School.

"Matt is moved each time he sees the reenactment. This is a contribution he does because as you may know, he sees the other side too. It's hard for a towing company to go on scene after these terrible accidents and deal with the families aftewards. Of course, he never fully knows the impact that the families go through, he can only imagine. Thank you."


Thursday, May 7, 2009

On the road again...

Saturday, I attended a mature drivers class, and wrote a column about it, that got more than the usual reaction.

Here's an email from one reader:

"I hate to burst your bubble, Mr. Jones, but my savings on my insurance after taking this course was only $3.03!!

"When my renewal came up with Travelers Insurance, it did not have a deduction listed for the safe driving course. When I checked, I found my three years were up and I needed to take the course again. So I did. I found you could take the course over the computer for $14.95. After I successfully completed the course (only 2 wrong out of 40 questions), I submitted my certificate to Travelers. Their response was a deduction of $3.03! Previously it had been $36.90 per each six months period. I am a safe driver, the only ticket I ever got was for parking at the school where I worked. I have never submitted a claim, been in an accident, etc. $3.03!!!!!

"If you get a better discount, I would like to know what company. Needless to say, I am searching for a better contract."

Others were amused at how I had swallowed my pride, and others still wanted to know how to sign-up for the class.

You can contact the MCC Traffic Safety Institute for a class schedule at 752-5286.

I was fortunate to have as my instructor Pat McCabe, who retired Tuesday. The class appreciated that Pat bought everyone coffee and donuts in the morning and pizza at lunch. Who else does that?

Here's a note I received from Pat:

"I want to thank you for all of the kind words directed toward myself and the Mature Driver class in last Sunday’s paper. You have made me a hero among my peers. It is a great way to end what has been such a rewarding career. "

my pleasure,


Friday, May 1, 2009

Old Florida, the real deal

As a boy growing up in St. Augustine in the 1950s, I remember visiting fishing camps a time or two along the St. Johns River. They were and still are unique places with wonderful views, fresh air, and plenty of characters.

But they seem to be disappearing. On Friday, Manatee County unveiled plans for Jiggs Landing Park, and a fomer resident who lived there from 1953 to 1964, was present. Understandably, she became emotional, but in a good way. Some of what she remembers will live on for future generations.

For more, see Saturday's Bradenton Herald.

Speaking of history, my mailbox lately has been seeing more letters advertising hearing aids, financial planning for retirement, and even inviting me to a mature drivers course. Is someone trying to tell me something? For more, see my column in Sunday's Herald.