Thursday, July 28, 2011

Arrest made in Lakewood Ranch home invasion

"It was just out of character," a Lakewood Ranch resident said of a pair of home invasions in the same gated neighborhood of Lakewood Ranch during the last two weeks.

Tonight, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office announced a 26-year-old Bradenton man has been arrested.

Ironically, it was domestic disturbance call that put investigators on his trail.

For more, watch breaking news at tonight, and see our full story in Friday's Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton Heralds.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Second home invasion reported in Ranch gated community

For the second time in recent weeks, a home in the same gated neighborhood in Lakewood Ranch has been hit by a home invasion.

"It's the same person, we think. We're going on the description, the proximity, and the M.O. (modus operandi," Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, said today.

Tuesday night, two people were robbed at gunpoint in their home in the 8400 block of Misty Morning Court, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported.

“It’s frighting, two of these in the daytime. This guy is crazy,” Don O’Leary, a Lakewood Ranch resident and community development supervisor, said.

For the full story visit:


And watch the Lakewood Ranch Herald and for developments.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Can you name that construction site?

Ready to move dirt. (Photo by Jim Jones)

The pile of dirt and the construction shack give it away.

Yep, it's a construction site. They pretty much all look the same.

This one has been talked about quite often since 2003. That's when the Lakewood Ranch branch of the Manatee County YMCA opened. Almost from the start, the new facility was too small for all the demands on it.

What's proposed will just about double usable space. For more, see Tuesday's Bradenton Herald.

Stepping up to save pets

Pictured from left at the grand opening of the 2nd Chance Boutique: Cathy Hanselman, County Commissioner Carol Whitmore,  Susan Giroux, Judy Kamps and Debbie Rubin. (Provided photo)

It was a big week for efforts to save pets in East Manatee.

On Friday, the 2nd Chance Boutique, 6293 Lake Osprey Drive, Lakewood Ranch, had its grand opening. Proceeds from sales at the shop go to support the Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch.

And on Sunday, Dog Days of Summer was held as a fundraiser. For more, see Richard Dymond's story:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lost Creek Apartment complex getting easier to find all the time

Lost Creek Resort Apartments rising rapidly. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)

It used to be that when you would pull out of Lakewood Ranch High School and stop at the red light, you could admire good-looking cows grazing in the pasture on the other side of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

The traffic light is still there, but now you see the rapidly rising 272-unit Lost Creek Resort Apartment complex.

Look for a lot more single-family housing at Lakewood Ranch, but also look for a quantum leap in the number of apartments.

If anything, Lakewood Ranch is under-served with apartment units, says Milt Flinn, president of LWR Communities.

Prime potential tenants include all those students at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine attending class nearby, as a well as anyone already in the work force.

So, just how fast is the Lost Creek Apartment complex going up? See for yourself. Here are photos from the site published the last week of June, and a new photo taken within the last week.

Lost Creek Resort Apartment construction site in late June. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)

For more on the developer of the new apartment complex, see Sara Kennedy's story below:


Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's official: New Lakewood Ranch manager signs contract

Eva Rey smiles after signing a contract making her Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority executive director effective Aug. 1. At right is Steve Zielinski, who held the job on an interim basis. Also signing the contract is Tom Green, chairman of the IDA. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- With a few strokes of the pen, Eva Rey, 43, signed a contract today making her new community manager for Lakewood Ranch effective Aug. 1.

Also signing the contract, worth a salary of $130,000 a year, was Tom Green, chairman of Lakewood Ranch's Inter-District Authority, which oversees Town Hall operations.

"We have a new executive director," Green announced to applause after Rey's contract had been signed.

Rey replaces Bob Fernandez, who resigned from the post in February to accept employment elsewhere.

Steve Zielinski, finance director, had served as interim executive director after Fernandez' departure.

Zielinski, who had been a finalist for the executive director job, thanked the Inter-District Authority for its support and trust.

Zielinski said he was looking forward to going back to "his old digs."

"We are very thankful you provided the direction over the past few months," Green said.

For more about Thursday's district meetings at Lakewood Ranch, see Friday's Herald.

For more about Eva Rey, see a full story at:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Those tasty dogs of summer

It sounds like a lot of fun.

Ten teams grilling hot dogs, with chefs from local restaurants judging them professionally, and regular folks casting people’s choice votes for best tasting dogs.

The winning team gets a traveling trophy that it gets to keep for the next year. Competitors include  Bistro Figiulo, Community Bank, Florida Cancer  Specialists, Integrity Title, Main Street Lakewood Ranch, MGA Insurance Group, Michael Saunders, ReMax Alliance Group, and SunTrust.

Dog Days of Summer, set for 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sunday  at Greenbrook Adventure Park in Lakewood Ranch, has a more serious purpose, too.

It’s a fundraiser for the Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch.

For more, see Thursday's Herald.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lakewood Ranch district buget set for public hearing this week

Steve Zielinski

 At the onset of budget workshop meetings in February, Lakewood Ranch finance director Steve Zielinski told the Inter-District Authority supervisors, the board responsible for Town Hall operations, that it would be a tough year.

Declining property values, mortgage foreclosures, and the area’s high unemployment rate would ensure another tight budget year, including no raises for Town Hall staff.

True to Zielinski’s forecast, the Inter-District Authority budget that will be rolled out for public comment at a public hearing Thursday at Town Hall totals $3.41 million, down more than $86,000 from the current fiscal year. District meetings start at 9 a.m.

For the full story, see Wednesday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.


Woodland mourns The Rev. Keith Martin

Keith Martin

EAST MANATEE -- The Rev. Alan Keith Martin, 53, last led a service at Woodland Baptist Church on July 4.

He did that despite being terminally ill with cancer, a disease which he had fought for several years.

“Why sit around the house when I could be out there serving the Lord?” is how The Rev. Banks Corl remembered his friend and colleague who died July 15 with his family at his side.

The Rev. Martin served as associate pastor of worship arts -- music, drama and media -- for the more than 2,500 members of Woodland Baptist, 9607 State Road 70 E., for more than six years.

For funeral arrangements and to read more:

Sign the Guest Book for the Rev. Alan Keith Martin at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Home invasion a first at Lakewood Ranch

LAKEWOOD RANCH — A man rang the doorbell at a home in a gated community about 5:30 p.m. Sunday and forced his way in when the resident answered, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported Monday.

The intruder held the victim against his will, ransacked the residence, loaded personal items into the resident’s vehicle and ordered the victim into the vehicle, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report.

The victim was released on the side of the road at Lorraine Road and University Parkway, and later treated for minor injures, deputies said.

The stolen vehicle was found at Market Street and University. It had been set on fire.

Charges of home invasion, false imprisonment, grand theft auto and arson await the suspect.

“We don’t think this was random, but we don’t know for sure,” said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Lakewood Ranch has until now been spared from home invasions in Manatee County.

Don O’Leary, a community development supervisor who lives four doors down from the Waters Edge Way address, said the home invasion is one of the most serious crimes at the Ranch he can recollect.

“You don’t expect that in broad daylight,” O’Leary said.

Anyone with information about a crime is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS (8477).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Save a life, help an Alzheimer's caregiver get help

It was 10 years ago this month that my sisters and I lost our mother. She didn’t have Alzheimer’s but our stepfather did, and we believe that her death was hastened by the huge burden of trying to care for Harry.

My mom wasn’t one to complain. She was living in the New Smyrna Beach area and I was working in Bradenton. But I made it a point to see her once a week, and it finally dawned on me that Harry’s situation had gradually moved from simple forgetfulness to something a lot worse.

For the full column, visit:


Friday, July 15, 2011

New veterinary clinic proposed for Lakewood Ranch area

Progressive Veterinary Practices plans to build an 8,000-square-foot veterinary clinic at 10915 State Road 70 East, located just west of the Lakewood Walk shopping center, and the Manatee County Tax Collector's Office.

Members of the Manatee County Planning Commission this week approved, with stipulations, the general development plan for a 2.25 acre site. Among those stipulations: buffering and fencing.

The site was formerly used as a Disabled American Veterans post, which was demolished several years ago.

A subsequent owner proposed building a medical office building there, before selling it to K2M LLC which paid $2.95 million for the property.

K2M proposed building a drive-through bank there. The bank was never built and the preliminary site plan expired.

Area marked in blue on Manatee County staff report map is where a proposed veterinary clinic would be located.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

San Marco Plaza: Its day has come

Venetian architecture at San Marco Plaza. (Photo by Jim Jones)

Plans for San Marco Plaza were first announced in early 2004.

 "Three restaurants -- two of them Italian -- and two art galleries, along with other shops and a movie house have all expressed interest in joining San Marco Plaza. The movie house ... would feature more artsy and foreign films, " according to Herald archives.

Also planned was a move of the Golden Apple Dinner Theater into San Marco Plaza.

Those initial plans either failed to materialize or didn't work out.

Things were complicated by a meltdown of the economy and some of the investors going into default.

It's been a tough slog, but there is reason for optimism among the business survivors at San Marco Plaza, and  several new businesses that are set to join the mix.

For more, see Friday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Call it C & H Baseball Plus

Former Braden River High School athletes Stephen Fischer and Lauren Powell are working as summer camp counselors at C & H Performance Center. (Photo by Jim Jones)
C & H Baseball has worked quietly in the Bradenton community for many years while building a national and international following.

True to form, the company quietly moved into a new 17,000-square-foot, $1.5 million facility earlier this year at 10615 Technology  Terrace, Lakewood Ranch.

It's still manufacturing the  high-end batting cages, wall pads and more that major league sports requires.

In addition,  C & H Performance Center has been added to help athletes of all ages sharpen their skills and get in the best shape possible.

For more, see Thursday's Herald.
Rob and Danielle Huff have realized there dream of an indoor facility where athletes of all ages can work on their skills. (Photo by Jim Jones)

Straw poll coming on LWR incorporation; two sides debate

Tom Thomaides (left) and Bob Hendel (right) presented the pro and con, respectively, of incorporation for Lakewood Ranch. At center is Chris Wille, editorial page editor for the Bradenton Herald and Lakewood Ranch Herald. (Photo Jim Jones)
With a straw poll awaiting Lakewood Ranch’s registered voters in early August on whether they want cityhood for their community, proponents and opponents fought it out Wednesday before an influential business group.

Cityhood would mean more effective government for local residents, better access to state grant funds and incentives, more control over their community, and more say on where impact fees collected at the Ranch are spent, Tom Thomaides of the Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Group told members of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.

Bob Hendel of the Friends of Lakewood Ranch, a group that says this is not the right time to consider incorporation, disagreed.

Incorporation now is too risky, and the economic feasibility study is flawed, Hendel said in the debate at the Fete Ballroom of the Polo Grill. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

For more, see Thursday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.

Celebrity bartenders to raise money for Ranch commemoration of 911

Bob Delaney (Herald file photo)
LAKEWOOD RANCH — To raise money for the Lakewood Ranch Remembers 911 flag dedication and memorial, a celebrity bartending event is set for 6 -9 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at Polo Grill & Bar, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch.

Celebrity bartenders will include National Basketball Association referee Bob Delaney, State Rep. Greg Steube, Sen. Mike Bennett, county commission candidate Vanessa Baugh, and Tim Mulqueen, director of sports at Lakewood Ranch.

A gift  basket donated by Dick Vitale, and the celebrity bartenders will be raffled.  The public is invited.

Music will be provided by Goodbye Eddie. Tips go to 911 event.

Lakewood Ranch Remembers is set for 5-8 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Premier Sports Campus.

Highlights will include 2,752 flags to represent those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the dedication of a flag and pole, the singing of patriotic songs, speeches, and a silent procession of emergency service vehicles led by bag pipes.

For more information call Lakewood Ranch Community Activities at 757-1530 or visit

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Manatee County represented at Florida Cattlemen's Convention

Manatee County Junior Cattlemen attended recent state convention. Shown above, from left, front, are Cully Rowell,  president; Jessica Bailey; Lacy Kersey; Courtney Wingate; Jessie Embach; Casey Wingate; and Kelly Davis, Florida Cattlemen's Association 2010-2011 Sweetheart, (and back, from left) Clint Thum; Zack Quattlebaum; and Chicolm Thum.
Forty Manatee Cattlemen, Cattlewomen and Junior members represented Manatee County recently at the 2011 Florida Cattlemen's Convention at the Marriott's Marco Island Resort.

Local members participated in several junior competitions at the convention.

The marketing team of Lacy Kersey, Courtney Wingate and Jesse Embach placed third in the state competition  and Casey Wingate won first place in the Landscape division.

The Florida Junior Cattlemen's Beef Show will be in Kissimmee August 4 - 6.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Selective lot prices going up at Lakewood Ranch

Roofers at work in Country Club East. (Herald file photo)

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The developer of Lakewood Ranch is preparing to selectively raise lot prices for the first time since 2006.

Prices will be going up $8,000 to $18,000 for the larger or premium lots carrying a current price tag of $80,000 to $200,000 in Country Club East, said Milt Flinn, president of LWR Communities LLC.

No other neighborhoods at Lakewood Ranch will be affected by the price increases set for July 25.

Country Club East has been a hot spot for new-home construction, and the price increase is in response to market forces and an  effort to control the mix of property for sale, Flinn said.

There are currently 160 new homes under construction at Lakewood Ranch.

Alan Anderson, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association Manatee-Sarasota, said that the price increase is in line with what builders have been saying about the market at Lakewood Ranch.

"We have had pretty good success in the low end of the market and the good news is that the mid-range stuff is picking up," he said.

For more on the price increase, see Tuesday's Herald.

For more on the home-building boom at Lakewood Ranch, see:


Friday, July 8, 2011

Local martial artists take first place at U.S. Open

First place winners,  left, Cassidy Lawless, Ale' Shepard, CameronTille, Paige Oswald and Tiffany Butz. (provided photo)
Five local martial artists from the Ming Wu Martial Arts academy took home top honors with five first place rankings at the Martial Arts U.S. Open competition recently. The U.S. Open is an annual world level tournament held at Disney’s Coronado Springs. This year the event had several thousand competitors.

Paige Oswald, a 17-year-old 3rd degree black belt and daughter of Ming Wu owner and founder Jessie Vi and Miranda Oswald, captured a first place in self defense and a fifth place in Traditional Forms.

Paige is no stranger to competition. Last November she won three gold medal world titles at the World Martial Arts Games.

Winning first place in Creative Forms were Cameron Tille, 20-year-old brown belt; Ale’ Shepard, 17-year-old purple belt; Tiffany Butz, 14-year-old brown belt; and the youngest Ming Wu competitor this year, 7-year-old blue belt Cassidy Lawless.

Cassidy, Cameron Tille and Ale’ Shepard also took fourth place honors in traditional forms. Ale’ also won a fifth place in Self Defense.

Other black belt competitors from Ming Wu:

Brandon Ramirez, 15, with fourth place in Traditional Weapons; Michael Santoni, 14, with two second place wins in Creative Weapons and Traditional Weapons, as well as two fifth place wins with Creative forms and Traditional Forms;

William Quevedo, 15, with fourth place in Traditional Forms; Roman Goldsby, 11, with fourth in Creative Weapons, fourth in Creative Forms and fifth in Traditional Forms;

Joey LaPerriere, 9, with a third in Traditional Weapons and third in Traditional Forms;

Samantha Chaulsett, 9, with a second in Creative Forms and a third in Traditional Forms;

Derrick Lezama, 8, with fourth in Creative Weapons, fourth in Traditional Weapons, fifth in Creative Forms and second in Traditional Forms.

Other under belt competitors bringing home trophies were Vincent Butz, Olivia Priovolos, Emily Wood and Victoria Butz.

These 17 competitors represent the largest showing that Ming Wu has ever had at the U.S. Open. The students all attend one of two Ming Wu academies located in Sarasota at Fruitville and Beneva or in Lakewood Ranch at Lorraine and S.R. 70.

Ming Wu will be opening a third academy next month in Lakewood Ranch at the Market Street shopping center off University.
The crew from Ming Wu. (provded photo)

Cassidy Lawless. (provided photo)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Former Lakewood Ranch student experiences weightlessness

Harrison Brit experiences weightlessness. (NASA photo)
MANATEE --  After testing their self-designed and constructed experiments on board a gravity-defying aircraft, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota  students are evaluating their data collected during a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston from June 16 – 25, according to an SCF press release.

Six SCF students -- James Mohan, Joe Comer, Alexa La Motte, Brenan Flint, Harrison Brit, and Mario Osborn -- participated in NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, which gives teams of undergraduate students nationwide the opportunity to propose, design, build, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment.

Brit is a former Lakewood Ranch High School student and Palm-Aire resident.

The team was selected from more than 70 proposals based on scientific merit and education outreach potential.

The team tested their experiment, “Magnetic Forces between Dipoles in Microgravity,” which measured the force between two magnets with dipoles opposed during the reduced gravity flights aboard NASA’s “Weightless Wonder.”

The microgravity aircraft produces periods of weightlessness lasting 18 to 25 seconds by flying a series of about 30 parabolas – a steep climb followed by a free fall – over the Gulf of Mexico.

“This experience surpassed my highest expectations. I’m proud to be one of the first SCF team of students to participate in NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program,” Mohan said.

The team will send a final report analyzing the experiment’s effectiveness, scientific findings, and conclusions to NASA within the next three months.

'We try to make people feel better'

Cris Valentine with Jelly Watches and costume jewelry at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center gift shop. (photo Jim Jones)
Just inside the front entrance of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center is the gift shop, operated by Crowder Brothers Ace Hardware Gifts and Gadgets.

It's not every hardware store that could pull off operating a hospital gift shop, but it's not every hardware store that carries fudge, designer handbags and more, either.

Cris Valentine was behind the counter this week, admid all the bling, glitter and fun stuff.

"We try to make people feel better," she said. "To make their minds off things."

Among their most popular sales items are Jelly Watches, selling for $14.99.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Marauders have a night for Lakewood Ranch residents

Marauders mascot at McKechnie Field. (Herald file photo)
It's Lakewood Ranch Residents Night at the Marauders baseball game Sunday, July 3. Gates open at McKechnie Field in downtown Bradenton at 5:30 p.m. and the game starts at 6:30.

There will be a  patriotic jersey auction. Winning bidders take the jersey right off the player's back.

After the game, there will be a fireworks show.

Stacy Morgan at Pirate City said she can take ticket orders until 3 p.m. Saturday.

Game tickets, prepaid, are $5. Group hat prices are $5, and food vouchers are $7.

For more information or tickets, call Stacy at (941) 747-3031, ext. 4365.