Friday, November 27, 2009

Politics and pancakes

Politicians seeking high office in Florida are bringing their campaigns to East Manatee.

Recently, Marco Rubio, former Florida House speaker who is vying with Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, campaigned at the East Manatee Republican Club meeting at the Peridia Country Club.

Republican Bill McCollum, Florida's attorney general who is seeking to replace Crist as governor, will be at the Country Pancake House, 8205 Natures Way, Lakewood Ranch, 7:30-8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, at $50 a plate.

Billed as Breakfast With Bill, the event is being hosted by County Commissioner Donna Hayes with John and Pat Colon, David Garofalo, Kathy King, Jamie Miller, Don O'Nesky and Eric Robinson.

Others seeking to replace Crist are State Senator Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Democrat Alex Sink, chief financial officer for the state of Florida.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Arts and athletics

This morning, more than 250 runners took part in the Harvest Hustle 5 kilometer run at Lakewood Ranch, raising money for the All Faiths Food Bank to help feed the hungry.

The run started at Harvest United Methodist Church and looped through the Country Club neighborhood. Rev. Stephen Price said it was the largest turnout in the history of the event. Last year, there were fewer than 190 runners.

Also today, the Fall Art Show of the Creative Arts Association of Lakewood Ranch is underway at Town Hall. The show continues until 4 p.m. Lots of arts to see, friendly artists to meet, good things to eat, performances to enjoy from the Southeast High School band, and therapeutic massage by Sarah J. Hunter.


Friday, November 20, 2009

It does make a difference

At the annual Church Women United Migrant Tea today, there were a couple of young men in the audience: Roy Garcia and Tomas Carrillo, both Lakewood Ranch High School graduates.

They are sons of farmworkers, with one spending part of his growing years at Falkner Farms near Myakka City and the other at Harllee Farms, at what later became Heritage Harbour.

Both have since gone on to college and are trying to help other children of farmworkers stay in school and get their education.

Friday, the chuch women were serenaded by preschoolers from Redlands Christian Migrant Association.

The blankets, clothing, and cookies the church women gave the youngsters are much appreciated in the farmworker community, Carrillo and Garcia said.

"It's wonderful and very beneficial to the migrant farmworker families and kids," Carrillo said. "They greatly appreciate everything given to them."

It's a bumpy road farmworker families travel in helping harvest U.S. crops. The church women helped smooth the way Friday.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Maersk Alabama attacked again

Last April, the Maersk Alabama, a cargo ship, was en route to Mombassa, Kenya, with an emergency shipment of food when pirates tried to take over the craft.

The crew, including second mate Ken Quinn of Lakewood Ranch, thwarted the takeover by barricading themselves in a room and eventually overpowering the pirates.

Early this morning, Somali pirates again attacked the same cargo ship. This time, however, the crew was able to keep the pirates from boarding.

Quinn was not aboard the Maresk Alabama today.

But when he came home in April, he said he continued to be concerned about piracy around the Horn of Africa and worried that effective, coordinated strategy had not been developed to deal with the problem.

Clearly, piracy in the region remains a problem and the Spanish this week paid $3 million in ransom to rescue another crew and ship.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Farmer comes to town

The Lakewood Ranch Farmers Market reopened for the season today. It's open every Saturday from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

It's a good place for fresh produce, creative and crusty breads, honey, orchids and more. The people watching is fine, too.

Check it out, down at Lakewood Ranch Main Street.


Friday, November 13, 2009

A proper Veterans Day week observance

Braden River Middle School put the exclamation point on local Veterans Day observances this week with their celebration on Friday, Nov. 13.

Each year students complete another large, patriotic ceramic plaque that joins others on a wall of honor. The names of local veterans are inscribed on each new plaque. A highlight was seeing Vietnam vet Robert Somers learning that his name is on the new plaque, courtesy of his grandson,Cody Kaleskas.

"I am very proud of my grandson and all the kids here who put this on," Somers said.

Also, the Korean War Veterans Association annually awards U.S. Savings Bonds to students who submit winning patriotic essays. Winning a $500 bond for the first-place essay was Tayler Shreve. Second place with to Kayla McNulty and third place to Michael Sarna.

Below is Tayler's winning essay:

How Should We Honor Our Vets?
Braden River Middle School

“America, Land of the Brave.” We are indeed the land of the brave; men and women willing to give their life to fight for their country. Our war veterans are amazing and dedicated people and I think they should definitely be honored. I believe we should honor our veterans by sending letters and cards, visiting and spending time with veterans, respecting them and the sacrifices they made for America. Our veterans and troops are fighting for each and every one of us and they should be especially honored.

First, I think we should honor veterans by sending thank you notes and letters to them. I personally think veterans, elders especially, would appreciate people young and old to just say thanks for their hard work and sacrifices. Our veterans fought for us and if we mailed letters, cards, or just simply a note to say thank you and how much their commitment and determination means to us, would show them how much we appreciate them. Just imagine opening a card from a six-year-old boy saying “thank you.” I would just put a smile on your face and make you proud to be an American.

Second, I think visiting the elderly veterans in nursing homes or just in your neighborhood would honor them and show appreciation. If you know a veteran, they love sharing their stories, I know my uncle does. His name is Lewis and he served in Vietnam and he definitely has his share of war stories. I asked Lewis how he thinks we should honor veterans. He told me that he would personally just like to share his stories here and there and to talk to the youth of America. Lewis walks with a limp as his knee was blown apart while hiding in a dirt bunker during combat. But he says he loves being with “youngsters” and making sure we know what we take for granted. I think visiting with our veterans is a good way to honor them.

Lastly, respecting our veterans us a key part of honoring them. Honestly, as a 13-year-old, I know plenty of kids would see a man missing an arm or leg and just laugh. Personally, I would feel ashamed if that was me standing there. Respect means a lot to everyone, especially to someone who really deserves it; and to have fought for our country definitely qualifies, so the least we could do is respect them by acknowledging them by at least giving them a passing glance and just saying thanks. So when you see a veteran remember that song, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” Well, to those veterans it means a lot, so respect them.

To conclude, our beloved country wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for our veterans. Try to send a letter to a veteran, visit a veteran, and just respect them. Trust me, they deserve it.

For more about Friday's observance, see Saturday's Herald.


Sunday, November 1, 2009


BooFest started out as a nice little Halloween gathering a few years ago at Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

Now, it's a nice huge gathering. Friday night, it seemed like half of Manatee County was there. When we arrived shortly after 6 p.m., the Main Street and Town Hall parking lots were full and so was the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center parking lot and adjacent grassy field across the street. Cars parked up and down the boulevard. I've never seen that.

I think the community was looking to blow off a little steam and have some good clean, family Halloween fun. We enjoyed it, just mixing with thousands of others, seeing the parade and all the costumes. If you like people watching, this was the place to be.

It could be that Lakewood Ranch, as a community, took it to a new level Friday.

By the way, check out the conquistador from Bradenton, handing out beads. It's symbolic maybe of established Bradenton welcoming a younger sibling into the family. I like it, with the dramatic sky as a backdrop, the gleaming armor, and the angle of the shot.