Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Completion of local 911 memorial delayed

The completion date for a Sept. 11 memorial slated for installation in the Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue administration building has been moved  back to early November, said Chief Foster Gover.

A 12-foot I-beam salvaged from the World Trade Center was brought to Manatee County in July by a four-member team from the fire district.

Originally, plans called for completion of the memorial, built around window column in time for this year’s Sept. 11 observance. But the time table proved over-optimistic.

The memorial is being designed and built with volunteer talent.


Dallas Leitner designed the memorial that will be located at Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The political dust settles

Ron Reagan, the retiring state representative for House District 67 from the Braden Woods neighborhood, was at Lakewood Ranch's Polo Grill Tuesday night for Greg Steube's victory celebration.

Steube had just defeated Jeremiah Guccione and Robert McCann in the primary to claim the Republican nomination. He won it going away; it wasn't even close.

You might expect Steube to be a bit emotional, but he was as even keeled as he had been throughout the campaign. He talked about staying on message and staying positive throughout the campaign, and he talked about heading to Tallahasee Thursday for a GOP strategy session for the general election.

It was Reagan who showed the emotion of the moment.

In his heart of hearts, Reagan would have liked another term in Tallahassee. He thrived in legislative chambers, and served as president pro tempore of the House, where he frequently presided, filling in for the House speaker.

But term limits mean that two Bradenton lawmakers who were rookies themselves eight years ago -- Reagan and Bill Galvano -- will be stepping down.

When Galvano and and Reagan were first elected, it was at the end of John McKay's years in Tallahassee. The Bradenton resident was one of the most powerful members of the legislature and a former Senate president. Folks wondered what Manatee County would do without his clout.

Eventually, time and experience answered that question.

Eight years. It goes by quick. Reagan looked around at the Polo Grill and noted that it didn't even exist eight years ago, nor did any of Main Street at Lakewood Ranch.

Steube has likely already won the hardest part of his battle to win admission to the Florida House. He still faces a challenge in November from Democrat Z. J. Hafeez and  no-party candidate John Studebaker. But Steube is the odds-on-favorite to claim Reagan's chair.

For more, see Thursday's Herald.

Changing of the guard: Greg Steube (left) with Ron Reagan.

Sheriff Brad Steube and his wife, Debbie, parents of GOP House
 nominee Greg Steube (center) and Grant and Julie Steube.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More about fatlighter pine

Massive pine beam holding up the roof of John McDonald's barn is still straight and strong.
John McDonald's barn is a landmark east of Myakka City on the north side of S.R.70.

Our story Aug. 8 on John McDonald's distinctive red barn in Myakka City and the "fatlighter" pine beams that hold the roof up after so many years brought this response from a very knowledgeable Ralph Ehrhardt of Ellenton:

Dear Mr. Jones:

 Your story on preserving the past in Myakka was very interesting and a wonderful way to acquire "history" from the people who were there.

Interesting observation that John McDonald's barn suffers from termite infestation, but the massive heart-of-pine beams, what country people call fatlighter pine, still look straight and strong.

When the time comes for this barn to collapse, hopefully the massive beams will be saved as the heart-of-pine trees were very old and contained a sap which made the trees waterproof and bug resistant . Mr. McDonald's barn beams will ooze this sap when cut...after 300 years. It is an unusual tree and used for special purposes such as sailing ships.

In 1976, I met a Lumberman in Orangeburg, S.C., who operated a saw mill and he was very knowledgeable about the native pine trees that had grown along the Eastern Seaboard -- from Virginia to Florida and then west toward Texas. These were virgin trees, many over 100 feet long and 6-8 feet in diameter. They were unique, as the sap in the trees was water proof and bug proof. As such, these trees were ideal for building the large sailing ships that England had all over the world.

King George the Third, declared that ALL of these trees belonged to him and the colonists could use only those trees that that were felled by storms. Hence, we have the origin of "windfall" and this lumberman stated it was these trees that started the war against King George III, not raising the tax on tea as we read in history books.

This may be folklore, but it also would be logical, as the value of the lumber would have a greater impact than an increase in tea taxes.

While I was touring the sawmill operations, the workers X-rayed the huge timbers looking for metal hand made nails, which were dug out and dropped to the ground.

Walking on all those nails was an odd feeling, it was a needed process, as a nail would disintegrate a saw-blade instantly. .....a safety hazard for sure. While I was there, the workers cut a very long timber in two for easier handling and sawing into wood for furniture, or flooring or other purposes. This timber was about 6 foot square and when it was cut the sap oozes out. The mill owner explained that the land owners, after the Revolution, had sold the trees to be harvested and cleared for farming.

The trees were often used to build cotton warehouses in the South. Over time, the cotton warehouses were no longer used and this lumberman had them carefully dismantled and shipped to his mill for cutting into lumber for various uses. This mill was water-powered ( river) and all the equipment was vintage types. It was
a wonderful lesson in the lumber business and the history of our young nation.

Hopefully, you will share this story with the Myakka people.

Sincerely, Ralph Ehrhardt, Ellenton

Thanks for the information, Mr. Ehrhardt,


Fundraiser for Lakewood Ranch SmartFarm

Some weeks ago we wrote about plans to create a SmartFarm project on five acres at Lakewood Ranch.

Organizers and volunteers plan to build the project in October. It is intended to offer out-of-door instruction to children on where food comes from, encourage healthy eating, and provide a place where families can lease a plot of land to grow some of their own food.
Here's an update from Ngan Gilkison, one of the organizers:

"Please spread the word and join us for our first fundraiser event 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26. Polo Grill and Bar on LWR Main Street has generously given us the bar for the night.

"Members of the SmartFarm team will be guest bartenders working for tips. Guest bartenders will include SMR President/CEO Rex Jensen, Irwin Davis, Jaden Hair, Tara Raven, Camillia Mankovich, Jan Timney and Ngan Gilkison.

"No cover charge. Just come and have fun with us, and hear about our plans for the SmartFarm!

"If you can't make it and would like to make a donation, please make checks payable to SmartFarm at Lakewood Ranch and send to:

SmartFarm at Lakewood Ranch
c/o Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Corporate Headquarters
14400 Covenant Way
Bradenton, FL 34202

there you are,

For more information, visit  http://www.communitysmartfarms.com/

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fast and furious debate on Fort Hamer bridge

The U.S. Coast Guard is hosting a "public scoping" meeting on the proposed Fort Hamer bridge project 4-8 p.m. Aug. 17 at Carlos Haile Middle School, 9501 State Road 64 East.

The public meeting has to do with the environmental impact statement that will be required before any pile-driving begins.

How long might that be? Somewhere between one and 20 years. Seriously.

Some folks aren't waiting for that public hearing Tuesday. They are already commenting away on a federal website.

For more, see Wednesday's Herald.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Goal met!

Charles Young and Bayside Community Church finished their quest for 1,000 backpacks with a rush.

At 3 p.m. Thursday, Young, sitting 40-feet in the air in a cherry picker, got his 1,000th backpack.

That spared him from another 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. shift today. In all, he spent 3 1/2 days 18 hours up in the air.

The church will distribute those backpacks later this month to disadvantaged children from Oakridge Apartments in Palmetto, and students who attend Oneco Elementary School and Pace Center for Girls.

The backpacks are still arriving. Just how much the church surpassed its goal has not yet been calculated.

Good work for all who helped out, and especially to Charles who really got out of his comfort zone.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

500 and counting

Spend more than 15 hours a day, 40 feet up in the air under the Bradenton sun when the heat index hits a sizzling 100 and it will wear on you.

The cool of the evening must be relief.

You could tell that Charles Young was feeling the effects of his time in a bucket truck this afternoon, as he reached the halfway mark in his efforts to collect 1,000 backpacks for disadvantaged school children.

But he was encouraged that some 500 backpacks have been donated.

His brother-in-law, Jordan Becnel, stopped by and said, "You look like you still have life in you."

Young plans to stay in his bucket truck at the Creekwood Chick-fil-A 6:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. through Friday to get the remaining 500 backpacks he needs.

Bayside Community Church will distribute the backpacks to kids from Oakridge Apartments, and to Oneco Elementary School and Pace Center for Girls.

For more on this and other efforts to help local families get their children ready for school, see Thursday's Bradenton Herald.

Charles Young accepted two more backpacks Wednesday as he hit the halfway mark of his goal.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More backpacks

Bayside Community Church will be distributing, hopefully, 1,000 backpacks a little later this month.

Another congregation, Journey Church, 5017 37th St. E., Bradenton, also will be giving away some backpacks.

Journey's “Back to School Bash” is set for 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, for prekindergarten through-12th grade students. Parent must accompany children 13 and younger.

Backpacks filled with school supplies will be given to the first 150 school-aged children (one per child). Also planned: free immunizations, miniwater park with games and giveaways, rock climbing wall, food for sale, as well as free doughnuts, water, popcorn, and cotton candy.

Information: (941) 758-2935.


Watching those clouds roll in, and the backpacks, too

Charles Young was watching the skies this afternoon, looking for signs of lightning. He's sitting atop a bucket truck, 40-feet in the air.

But so far, so good in his quest to collect 1,000 backpacks for children who live in Palmetto's Oakridge Apartments, or who attend Pace Center for Girls or Oneco Elementary School.

Charles' church, Bayside Community, is collecting the backpacks, filled with school supplies, to assist students from some hard-luck neighborhoods.

Midway through his second day in the cherry picker, Charles reported receiving 356 backpacks, putting him one-third of the way to his goal.

With today's story in the Bradenton Herald, traffic to his cherry picker, parked near Chick-Fil-A, 5206 73rd Lane East, has been much heavier, he said.

Donors get a little payback too: a coupon for a spicey chicken sandwich inside the restaurant.

Let's get Charles out of the skies so he doesn't have to stay up in the cherry picker until Friday night. More backpacks, please, for a worthy cause.

Charles Young handed a chicken sandwich coupon to a backpack donor on Monday.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Don't think about it, just do it

Interesting Manatee County barn shows its years.
Great view from Charles Young's cherry picker
I spent a good part of Monday crawling through an old barn -- I can't tell you where right now -- and hoping I wouldn't fall through a floor.

 It was dirty, hot, and full of interesting old things, and my shirt was soaked through with sweat. I couldn't have been happier.

Less than an hour later, I stopped at the Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Creekwood to interview Charles Young, who was surely crazy, up in the air 40 feet trying to persuade folks to donate 1,000 backpacks for local school children. As soon as I walked up, Charles invited me to come on up.

Without thinking, I accepted and took a wobbly ride in the cherry picker basket straight up. Who's crazy now, I wondered, trying to keep my balance with a camera and notepad.

The way Charles put it, he was trying to get out of his comfort zone and do something that needed to be done for disadvantaged children. He succeeded.

For more, see Tuesday's Herald.

Charles Young seemed close to heaven as he collected backpacks for local students