Monday, August 29, 2011

Straw poll results put Lakewood Ranch cityhood quest back on the shelf

Jo Anne Dain, Keith Davey and Tom Thomaides lead the quest for incorporation of Lakewood Ranch. (Herald file photo)
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- More than half those who took part in a straw poll on cityhood for Lakewood Ranch opposed incorporation.

The final count submitted to members of the Manatee and Sarasota county legislative delegations showed that 2,349 of 4,154 who voted -- 56.5 percent -- opposed incorporation, according to Kerkering, Barberio & Co., Certified Public Accountants, in a press release this afternoon.

Favoring cityhood were 1,805 voters, or 43.5 percent of voters.

Less than half the 11,961 ballots mailed Aug. 1 were returned to Kerkering, Barberio by the deadline of Aug. 22.

"From the beginning of the incorporation process, our mission was to determine if incorporation was financially feasible and to educate Lakewood Ranch residents about the issue," said Keith Davey of the Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Study Group.

"We have at all times used facts as the basis of our communication process and hoped that residents would see the opportunities in becoming a city and choose this path," Davey said in a statement released after the straw poll results were made public.

"It is clear that the majority of voters participating in the straw poll believe that the time is not right for incorporation. While we are disappointed in the results of the poll, we are at the same time proud that we were able to get a very important discussion started which engaged thousands of residents in the process," Davey said.

Rob Lane, managing partner at Kerkering, Barberio, said his firm was very satisfied with the process.

"We did receive about 200 inquires from residents who had issues with not receiving ballots. Upon analysis, some were not registered voters in Lakewood Ranch, some did not receive forwarded mail and some simply did not receive a ballot. As members of the Lakewood Ranch Community, we have been pleased to provide our independent services to this very important issue," said Lane in a press release.

The Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Study Group will, as promised, be putting its efforts "on the shelf" at this time, Davey said.

"Perhaps the question will come up again in the near future and both the proponents and opponents will have benefited from what has transpired over the past few years. We thank everyone who gave us their support," Davey said.

For more, see Tuesday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kids, get your sunscreen, swim suit ready for Saturday

Splash Bash fun from 2010. (provided photo)
You could call it a one-day reprise of summer.

Even though students went back to school in Manatee County on Monday, they have the opportunity to recapture a little bit of free summer fun Saturday, Aug. 27, with the back-to-school Splash Bash.

Children of all ages and their parents are  invited to the event 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Lakewood Ranch branch of the YMCA, 5100 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., just north of Lakewood Ranch High School.

Activities include  over-sized water slides, games in the outdoor pool, a dunk tank, a slip-and slide inflatable, snow cones, and a water balloon sling shot.

For more, see Saturday's Herald.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ranch residents feeling better about security

Residents of  the Edgewater and Country Club villages, which comprise Community Development District 2, had plenty to say Thursday about the district’s proposed $2.3 million budget for fiscal 2012.

Almost all of it focused on whether $15,600, which had originally been earmarked for a pilot tree project, should instead be put into a fund to study security concerns.

Those concerns stemmed from a pair of armed home invasions in gated Edgewater village. One of those occurred July 17 on Waters Edge Way, and the other on July 26 on Misty Morning Court.

Apparently those concerns began to ebb after the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a suspect on July 28.

Thursday, the majority of residents who spoke to district supervisors during a public hearing on the budget, asked that the $15,600 not be put aside for a security study.

For more on Thursday's meeting, see Friday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.

For more on the home invasion arrest, see our previous story:


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pat Neal came away enriched, and inspired

SCOPE program taught more than music and dance. (provided photo)
Lakewood Ranch-based developer Pat Neal recently came away impressed by a music and dance performance on the final day of Summer Community Outreach Program of Enrichment, held at the Ward Temple A.M.E. facility in Bradenton.

And the life lessons taught kids ages 4 to 17  in the program.

How impressed was he?

"I’m going to share the script with my sales staff,” Neal said in a press release.

"They put on an excellent performance that even included an inspiring message about not making excuses, not quitting, and believing in the impossible,” Neal said.

Neal is among the financial supporters of the program.
Pat Neal and Rev. James Golden with staff SCOPE participants. (photo provided)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Massive Labor Day soccer tourney set for Lakewood Ranch

It will be wall-to-wall soccer players at Lakewood Ranch's Labor Day weekend soccer tournament at Premier Sports Campus. Shown above in a Herald file photo are a group of players from a few years ago at a big tourney at Sarasota Polo Club.

An estimated 300 teams from around Florida are expected at Lakewood Ranch's Premier Sports Campus for Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3, 4 and 5.

It will be the the biggest tournament yet at the new complex.  The Clearwater Chargers and Fusion Futbol Club will be hosting  the 2011 Labor Day Showcase for age groups including boys and girls 9-18 years old.  

More than 18,000 athletes and fans expected over the three-day period, according to a press release from developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.

“The economic impact that this campus will have over the next few years, with its sheer size and capacity to host hundreds of teams, is enormous,” said Jason Puckett, director of sports for the Sarasota County Sports Commission, in the press release.

“Last year, when 170 teams competed in this event at the Sarasota Polo Grounds, the tournament produced $2.5 million of economic impact, 1,232 room nights (based on hotel reporting) and 3,230 non-local competitors.  With estimates of 300 teams for this year, the projected economic impact could be $4.1 million, 2,500 room nights and 4,750 non-local competitors.  It’s huge for this area,”Puckett said.

For more, visit our previous story:


News to use for Lakewood Ranch residents

If you are a Lakewood Ranch resident, you probably have a complaint about water. Water pressure, maybe. Or being limited to one-day-a-week lawn irrigation while other county resident are allowed to water twice a week.

District supervisors talk frequently about water problems.

So, what's being done about it?

Officials  will conduct a presentation 2 p.m. today at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall to update the public on the status of the irrigation study being conducted by Azad Shah, of the engineering firm LPA Group, Inc.

The two-year study focuses on three major categories: metering and billing, infrastructure improvements, and water pressure, including water quality improvements.

The public is invited.

Also this week,  community development district supervisors have set public hearings Thursday, Aug. 25, at Town Hall for their 2012 budgets.


8 a.m. for District 4 (Greenbrook)

8:30 a.m. for District 1 (Summerfield-Riverwalk)

9 a.m. for District 2 (Country Club-Edgewater)

Again, the public is invited.

For more on Lakewood Ranch local government, follow this link:


Monday, August 22, 2011

Station 400 moving into vacated Serving Spoon space

 LAKEWOOD RANCH — Station 400, a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant in a vintage 1852 railroad depot building at 400 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota, is opening a second restaurant at Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

Owner Eric Bein, the 29-year-old owner of Station 400, signed the lease for the former Serving Spoon property last week, and was working with a crew Monday to clean up the space. The previous tenant, The Serving Spoon, closed in June.

“We have a lot of work to do. We are anxious to get in there and get started,” said Bein, a Cardinal Mooney High School and Culinary Institute of America graduate.

While Station 400 at Lakewood Ranch won’t be located in a renovated railroad depot, like the one in Sarasota, which was disassembled in Kentland, Ind., brought south , and reassembled, it will have plenty of rail ambience.

For more, see Tuesday's Lakewood Ranch Herald. For previous coverage, visit:


Tally of Lakewood Ranch incorporation ballots underway this week

LAKEWOOD RANCH  – Kerkering, Barberio & Co., Certified Public Accountants, will finalize its counting of the straw poll ballots this week on whether Lakewood Ranch should incorporate.

All ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 22 to be included.  On the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 29, a report of the results will be provided. 

Ballots were mailed to nearly 12,000 registered voters with Lakewood Ranch addresses the first week of August.

“We will be performing a final count and verification of the results this week.  We will then release the outcome on the 29th to Sen. Mike Bennett’s and Rep. Greg Steube’s offices to be followed by a general press release from our firm.  We are pleased to assist the Lakewood Ranch Community in obtaining an insight into how the voters feel on this issue,” said Rob Lane, managing partner, in a press release.

For more on the straw poll, visit:


Friday, August 19, 2011

Manatee High grad hired as ShelterBox program assistant at Lakewood Ranch

Heather Murray
 LAKEWOOD RANCH -- ShelterBox USA, an international disaster relief organization with U.S. headquarters based in Lakewood Ranch, announces the hiring of Heather Murray, a Bradenton resident, Manatee High School grad, and recent USF graduate, as program assistant.

In her role, Murray will provide support for the charity’s volunteer and youth programs, as well as its communications initiatives, including social media and event coordination.

“Heather originally joined us as public relations and marketing intern,” said Tiffany Stephenson, communications manager in a press release. “She has an incredible work ethic and enthusiasm for our mission, and we’re looking forward to having her as a member of our team.”

Murray, a recipient of the Florida Bright Futures and local Brunch on the Bay scholarships, recently graduated from USF Sarasota-Manatee with a degree in marketing.

For more on ShelterBox USA, see:


Manatee students recognized in national competition

Lakewood Ranch students and adviser: Briana Nelson-Canty, Kiona Poyner, Miranda Lim, Christina Rothenberger, Micaela Figueroa, and Mrs. Elaine Bowling

Here's news from Anaheim, Calif., where Manatee County students were recently recognized during the  Family, Career and Community Leaders of America’s 2011 National Leadership Conference. 

Braden River Middle School student  Ariel Collins received a bronze  medal in interpersonal communications, Marianna Haluska and Nicoletta Freer received a silver medal for chapter showcase display and Hailey Todoroff received a gold medal for recycle and redesign.

Lakewood Ranch High School students  Micaela Figueroa and Kiona Poyner received a silver medal for chapter showcase display and Christina Rothenberger and Miranda Lim received a gold medal for focus on children.

Southeast High School students Madison Hubbard and Melyssa Godfrey received a gold medal for chapter showcase manual. 

 More than 6,300 members, advisers, alumni, and guests from across the nation attended the meeting.
District Advisors Jill Bergeron of Braden River Middle and Elaine Bowling  of Lakewood Ranch High escorted the students to the National Conference.   

Also representing Manatee County and the State of Florida were Micaela Figueroa, Florida FCCLA’s state president-elect; Briana Nelson-Canty, Florida FCCLA’s state secretary; and Jessica Hagood, past national VP of  community service.

Throughout the year, FCCLA members tackle issues such as teen violence prevention, traffic safety, family issues, career exploration, and much more. FCCLA programs and competitions enrich student learning, improve self-esteem, and serve students with a range of ability levels, economic situations, and cultural influences.
Southeast High School students:
Madison Hubbard and Melyssa Godfrey
Braden River Middle School students and adviser: Marianna Haluska, Hailey Todoroff, Mrs. Jill Bergeron, Ariel Collins and Nicoletta Freer.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cost of legal battle comes home to Ranch residents

A long-simmering dispute over sinking storm drains in the Country Club neighborhood of Lakewood Ranch  has resulted  in a tax increase for residents of Community Development District 5.

Several of those residents  asked  district supervisors Thursday why they are facing a 7.4 percent increase in assessments for fiscal 2012, at a time of economic hardship and when many government budgets are being cut.

For more, see Friday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sad news for Manatee firehouses

Glenn Davis
Glenn Davis, well-known East Manatee Fire and Rescue District commissioner, and retired Bradenton Fire Department captain, died today at 63.

He was universally described as a big man with a bigger heart, who devoted nearly a half century to keeping folks safe.

For more, see Wednesday's Herald.

Frog blog

Maybe it was an omen.

A gorgeous little green frog, the symbol of environmental health, was on my windshield Tuesday when I returned to my car after covering a Lakewood Ranch  supervisors meeting.

An omen because much of the meeting was about environmental health at the Ranch, a certified green community. 

Here's a sample of our story from today's meeting:

Green-sounding street names like Honeysuckle Trail, Atrium Drive and Natures Way co-exist at Lakewood Ranch with street names that almost have a sci-fi flavor: Communications Parkway, Solutions Lane, Technology Terrace and Internet Place.

Now, Lakewood Ranch seems poised to merge its green side with cutting edge technology in a new way.
Charging stations for a new generation of electric and hybrid cars are planned for the visitor information center on University Parkway, and at Main Street.

Tuesday, supervisors from the Ranch’s Inter-District Authority, which is responsible for Town Hall operations, heard a request from  Lakewood Ranch resident Ken Stokes to add a third station at Town Hall.

For more, see Wednesday's Herald.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

They heard the rumble of empty bellies

They may number only about 70 members, but to use a basketball analogy, they play high above the rim.

We're talking about the Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club which Wednesday bought and donated $3,000 worth of nonperishable food -- about 2,985 pounds worth -- to the Manatee Food Bank.

And that's after dividing more than $100,000 in grants to two dozen charities just a couple of months ago.

For more, see Thursday's Herald.

And for more on the food emergency in Manatee County, see our previous story:


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lakewood Ranch not immune to crime

It became painfully obvious after two recent armed home invasion robberies in the gated Edgewater neighborhood at Lakewood Ranch that no one, anywhere, is immune to crime.

 Fortunately, in those home invasions a suspect is in custody and no additional crimes of that kind have been reported at the Ranch.

But this week, there were reports of crime at the Ranch that were costly and annoying to residents and businesses alike.

Someone caused about $300 worth of vandalism at Greenbrook Park on Monday, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Two water fountains were damaged along with a bathroom stall door, which was kicked in, according to a sheriff's report.Ranch supervisors have long struggled with this sort of vandalism to community property.

And then there was the report of backflow preventers being  cut and stolen from four businesses at Lakewood Ranch, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Sometime between 5 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday, a thief (or thieves)  cut the copper pipes and took five backflow preventers from behind the businesses at at 11535 Palmbrush Trail, Lakewood Ranch.

The businesses  affected were AAA, Luxury Nail and Spa, and UPS. A sixth backflow preventer was cut from the copper pipe but was left behind the property of M&I Bank.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011.

— For more information on Manatee County crime visit

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sad news down at Lakewood Ranch Main Street

Holly Baracchini, left, and her daughter Heidi Allwood announced today that they are closing Little Bookworms on Friday. (Herald file photo)
After 6 years in business, Little Bookworms will close its doors, owners Heidi Allwood and Holly Baracchini announced today.

The recession, along with a dramatic decline in book sales, have made it nearly impossible to stay profitable, they said in a press release.

“We are deeply saddened that we have to make this decision, but it is the only option for us right now,” Allwood said.

“We have loved being a part of Main Street at Lakewood Ranch. It is such a vibrant and exciting retail location. Main Street itself is thriving, but our store in particular is faced with such a drop in book sales over the past 2 years that we can no longer stay open.”

Heidi Allwood said she has taken a position with Charles A. Roy Roofing in Bradenton, and Holly Baracchini is a nurse at Healthcare America in Bradenton.

Little Bookworms plans to close its doors for good on Friday, August 12.

For more, see Tuesday's Herald.

Got a hankering for politics?

No doubt about it, the straw poll that was mailed to Lakewood Ranch registered voters last week is the biggest political news of the week in East Manatee.

Voters are being asked whether Lakewood Ranch should incorporate. They have about two weeks left to get their ballots in to be counted.

The legislative delegations in Manatee and Sarasota will take their cue from straw poll results on whether now is the right time to proceed with a special act to set the stage for cityhood.

Another political story of interest to East Manatee voters is who will replace retiring county commissioner Donna Hayes. Thus far, Vanessa Baugh is the only announced candidate, but Joanne Klement is strongly considering entering the race.

Want more politics in East Manatee? Here are several events that may satisfy your longing:

1. Former Sarasota mayor Kelly Kirschner, an opponent of Arizona-style immigration bills who has joined forces with, will be guest speaker at the Lakewood Ranch Democratic Club monthly meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. The public is invited.

2. Julie Aranibar, Manatee County School Board member,will discuss school board budget and educational services at the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club noon Aug. 19 at the Lakewood Ranch Holiday Inn, 6231 Lake Osprey Drive.

Reservations requested by Aug. 17. Visit or call Dr. Craig Trigueiro’s office at (941) 753-7843. Lunch cost: $20 0r $25 if reservations are made after Aug. 17.

3. The East Manatee Republican Club will meet 11:30 a.m. Sept. 8 at the Peridia Golf and Country Club; 4950 Peridia Blvd., Bradenton, for its first meeting of the fall season.

Guests will be Reps. Jim Boyd, Ray Pilon and Greg Steube. Cost of luncheon: $15. Dues: $18 single and $35 a couple. Call Diane Garcia for reservations at 739-3813 or email her at

For more about the straw poll: