Friday, June 26, 2009

Sometimes the consent is not there

Worth noting that going into the June 23 county commission meeting that a “quick take” resolution for 3.86-acres of land owned by John Neal and Charles Varah was item No. 6 on the consent agenda.

When it comes to that piece of land, there is nothing routine about it. Certainly not to Neal and Varah who believe the county’s valuation is way too low.

And not to the residents in Tara, Mote Ranch, University Place and University Park, who either passionately oppose the bridge being built, or think that it makes good sense.

For more, see my East Word column in Sunday's Herald.


Bravo: Latin Art Comes to the Ranch

The Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce recently moved its office to the ComCenter at 9040 Town Center Parkway, Lakewood Ranch.

One very big advantage is an art exhibition in the halls of that business office that wouldn't otherwise be at Lakewood Ranch.

Owner Bernie Croghan is a big supporter of the arts and through his encouragement, the Chamber arranged to have the Coalition of Hispanic Artists bring an exhibition to the ComCenter.

It's called "Latin Art Comes to the Ranch." The exhibition is free Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

With so much color and creativity, it will put a smile on anyone's face, I promise. For more, see the story in the June 29 Herald.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Visiting the Garden of Joy

While visiting Sarasota Baptist Church today to work on a story about their July 5 musical program, "Freedom: A Salute to American Liberty," I noticed that Central Church of Christ was just down the street at 6221 Proctor Road.

Afterward, as I headed back to our newsroom, I stopped at Central Church of Christ to visit "The Garden of Joy."

The garden is a memorial to Carlie Brucia, an 11-year-old girl who in 2004 was abducted from a public street in Sarasota and murdered. Her body was dumped behind the church. The tragedy touched a responsive chord in the public because of Carlie's sweetness and innocence and the fact that a surveillance camera captured the shocking crime.

I had never been to the garden before. What I found was a beautiful and wistful garden, a place where any child might enjoy playing. All alone in the garden, I said a little prayer for Carlie and her family. I left with a lump in my throat, still saddened by this senseless crime five years later.

Ironically, when I returned to the newsroom, there was a message on my answering machine from the "Keeping Kids Safe Project," who are planning a child safety program in Bradenton July 18-19. We'll keep you posted on that event.

If you've never been to the Garden of Joy, and you're in the neighborhood of I-75 and Bee Ridge Road some day, go south on Cattleman Road from Bee Ridge to Proctor and go east. Central Church of Christ is located just east of the I-75 overpass.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A rare honor . . .

Sue Curry, a fourth-grade teacher at Braden River Elementary School, is one of 200 teachers, chosen from a pool of 1,600 nationwide, to attend the 2009 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy.

During the academy, July 19-24 at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., teachers will learn to do experiments they can share with students to generate enthusiasm for math and science.

Did we say this is an all-expense paid trip? Not a bad thing in this day and age.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Senior dining in East Manatee

The buzz that Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee is hoping to open a Lakewood Ranch site for a Friendship Dining Center is good news for those who claim senior citizen status.

That’s because the four existing dining centers are one of the county’s best kept secrets for those age 60 and above.
You would think that the food served by Meals on Wheels Plus, which produces 4,000 meals a week, would be plenty good for you, but perhaps not adventurous.

But it turns out that the philosophy of Meals on Wheels Plus chef Pavel Hasenohrl is “hardy, homestyle comfort” food . On a typical week, diners might get Old World recipes like beef sauerbraten with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli . He also prepares tilapia with wild rice and mixed vegetables. Another is roast chicken over yellow rice with sautéed beets, pearl onions, and bean medley.

Prices of the meals vary depending on the diner’s individual income, Meals on Wheels Plus officials said.

For more, see story in the Wednesday Herald.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Row, row, row your boat . . .

I can't get the image out of my head of reporter Sara Kennedy backing a pickup truck, loaded with an enormous canoe jutting out the back. Somehow, she missed a couple of big trees in the Linger Lodge parking lot.

Sara had hoped to put the boat in the water at the quirky restaurant's ramp, but the level of water was too low because of the drought.

So Sara and her daughter Kate drove over to Jiggs Landing and put in there, while a flock of vultures watched their every move from a nearby tree and wall. Spooky.

It was all in a day's reporting for the Herald's multi-part series on the Braden River which begins Sunday, June 14, and runs through Thursday.

It's a really nice piece of work. We hope you enjoy it.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Southern Manatee getting new fire chief

Foster Gover, a 35-year veteran of the fire service in Manatee County, replaces Tom Hennessey as fire chief of Southern Manatee Fire Rescue on Friday.

Hennessey announced his retirement several weeks ago. Between the two men, they have more than 65 years of fire service experience.

Gover worked for the City of Bradenton Fire Department for 25 years. He has worked in the Southern Manatee Fire District for eight years as deputy chief and fire marshal.

Southern Manatee serves a 32-square-miles area of Southeast Manatee County. Gover will oversee the operation of five fire statiosn, an administration office, 94 personnel and an operating budget of more than $15 million.


Five tons of pull

What weighs five tons, has 30,000 times the magnetic pull of the earth and can actually run forever if it stays cooled by liquid helium?

It’s the magnet for the new $1 million Lakewood Ranch Medical Center MRI, built by Philips Healthcare.

The machine’s magnet is so powerful that it could cause a metal oxygen tank to fly toward it from across a room. That’s why the utmost in caution must be observed when it goes into use, probably sometime in late July.

For more, see Friday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New farmers market in Ellenton

If you’re a fruit and vegetable lover or just like to shop for the freshest local produce, you’ll want to attend the grand opening and ribbon cutting at the new Ellenton Farmers Market Saturday.

The market is planning its ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., featuring state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, and Manatee County Commissioners Carol Whitman and John Chappie.

The market at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, north parking lot, 5309 29th St., Ellenton, will be open from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

It is expected to be among the largest year-round markets in Florida specializing in "green" natural, organic and environmentally-friendly products that makes for a healthier lifestyle and a better environment, said owner Phil Pagano.

He is hoping local residents will rediscover the benefits of buying local produce that he says is fresher, tastier and more nutritious because it is harvested within hours of sale rather than weeks.

The market buys directly from local farmers, such as the True Family Farm, Dakin Dairy, and Sheppard Farms, to name a few, said Pagano, who added that “it also helps the local economy.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Villages of Lakewood Ranch South

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the developer of Lakewood Ranch, today is petitioning the Sarasota County Commission to approve comprehensive plan amendments that would waive certain greenbelt buffers on the perimeter of a new project, and OK the company’s request to remap a greenway area and remove a portion of wetlands from it, according to plans filed with the county.
The company is also seeking to designate Lakewood Ranch Boulevard through the project as a four-lane, rather than a two-lane, arterial roadway.
The company is planning nearly 5,500 homes on the same number of acres, along with 390,000 square feet of commercial space as part of its development, The Villages of Lakewood Ranch South, plans indicated.
The company envisions a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented community south of University Parkway, north of Fruitville Road and east of I-75. It proposes approximately 25 percent of the project’s residential units as affordable and workforce housing product; with a significant portion in close proximity to two major employment centers – Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park and the International Trade Center.
Plans call for additional north/south roadways and connections designed to relieve I-75’s use as a local roadway.
The company also hopes to provide a multi-tiered greenway and trail system that would accommodate pedestrians and provide links to the larger Lakewood Ranch community, according to the company.
For the outcome of today's meeting, see Wednesday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.


For more information, click on the following links

The Villages of LWR South Master Plan Map
Map of Proposed Amendment Areas
Reasoning for Proposed Amendment Changes

Monday, June 8, 2009

New city of Lakewood Ranch

Roughly 100 involved in Lakewood Ranch governance will preview a proposed city charter next week, as incorporation moves back in the spotlight.

But, with the economy still struggling, is this the right time to be considering such documents, some wonder.

Supervisors from community development districts and homeowner associations as well as neighborhood chairs and their voting members are expected to attend one of two by-invitation-only events.

The events are scheduled 6:30 p.m. June 15 and 5:30 p.m. June 19 in a salon in Town Hall.

For more, see Tuesday's Lakewood Ranch Herald


Friday, June 5, 2009

What the doctor ordered

At the commissioning of eight students at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton this week, Army Lt. Col. Walt Stanish told the new officers to “always choose the hard right over the easy wrong. Integrity is non-negotiable. Once you lose it, you can never get it back.”

Good advice for all of us.