Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday decorating, shopping, and a whole lot more

It's the busy time of the year in East Manatee, and that's on top of all the holiday baking, decorating and shopping.

Should you have openings in your calendar, consider these events:

Keep 'em locked up, or enroll them in pretrial services?
LAKEWOOD RANCH  — Twelfth Judicial Court Chief Judge Andy Owens has invited state lawmakers, county commissioners, law enforcement officers and the public to a Pretrial Services Symposium to highlight the value of pretrial release programs.

The symposium will be held 8:30 a.m. Friday at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

Recent proposed state legislation has suggested limiting pretrial release programs to only indigent defendants, forcing most defendants either to pay a bail bondsman or to remain in jail at taxpayers’ expense. The average cost per day to host an inmate in jail —$71 in Sarasota, $67 in Manatee — is significantly less than the cost for a defendant to enter pretrial services programs— $3.71 a day in Sarasota, $1.91 a day in Manatee.

Information or to RSVP: 941-861-7817.

Founders’ 50 plaque unveiling set
LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund will unveil a bronze plaque on Lakewood Ranch Main Street to recognize the Founders’ 50 donors, who have established permanent charitable funds dedicated to causes and interests that impact the Lakewood Ranch community 4 p.m. Friday.

This permanent plaque will serve as a prominent centerpiece on Main Street to honor philanthropists who support the needs of the community through the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.

Myakka Christmas parade set for Saturday
MYAKKA CITY — The Myakka City Christmas Parade will be held 4 p.m. Saturday. Wauchula Road from Bradenton/Arcadia Road north to the Myakka City Community Center at 10060 Wauchula Road will be closed 4-5 p.m..  At the conclusion of the parade at the Myakka City Community Center the festivities will continue with food and game vendors at the park.

Film on bullying to be shown
LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Sarasota Film Society and Inspired minds have teamed up to offer a free screening of The Good Kids, a short film that addresses the serious concern of bullying.  The Good Kids was created by elementary, middle, and high school students during the Inspired Minds’ Film Kids Camp, and provides a student perspective on the problem of bullying.

The screening will be held at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas at 9 a.m. Saturday. This event is open to the public.

Patrick Lay Memorial Car Show set
EAST MANATEE — Patrick Lay Memorial Car Show, hosted by the Braden River High School FFA Alumni, is set for Sunday  at Braden River High School, 6545 State Road 70 E.

Registration is set for 8-10 a.m.  Cost for those who pre-register is $15. For those who register the day of show, the cost is $20.

The car show is named after Spc. 4 Patrick Lay, a Braden River graduate who was killed in action in Afghanistan in August.

Planned: DJ, cars, vendors, food, and more.

All proceeds benefit BRHS FFA Alumni scholarship fund. Information: Vanessa Giamannco at 941-751-8230, ext. 2141.

Decorating party for Braden River Library set
EAST MANATEE — Friends of Braden River Library are hosting a holiday decorating party 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday. Everyone is invited for fun and refreshments.  Donations of Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas decorations are welcome.  Food Bank donations are also accepted.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Need a stopper for that wine bottle?

Wine stoppers by Silvia Engel. (Photo by Jim Jones)
We were just at the Suncoast Food &  Wine Fest at Lakewood Ranch.

Coincidentally, look for our story Monday previewing the10th annual Creative Arts Association sale and show at Lakewood Ranch 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov, 19.

Why coincidentally? you ask.

The show will have paintings and sculptures and more. Among the more, pick up a very wild, and I might say, beautiful, wine stopper made by Lakewood Ranch artist Silvia Engel. Available for not very much money.


Beautiful day for a beautiful event at Lakewood Ranch

 Kelli Strach of Main Street Trattoria greets Jay Goodwill at the 10th Annual Suncoast Food & Wine Fest on Saturday. (photo by Jim Jones)
For a young organization, the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch has enjoyed phenomenal success with the Suncoast Food & Wine Fest.

The 10th annual fest today was expected to push the total raised for charity past $1 million.

Originally, the event was called Suncoast Winefestival, but the name was changed in 2009 to reflect the equal emphasis on food.

Check out a gallery of photos from the event today:

//// target

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lakewood Ranch residents: Here's what your elected supervisors will be doing

Next week is go-to-meeting time for Lakewood Ranch district supervisors.

Here's what's on tap:

 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov.15, agenda workshop meeting.

 8 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, district supervisors have their regular monthly meetings starting at 8 a.m.

The meetings are open to the public and are at Town Hall. Want to know more? Here's what's on the agenda:

District 1 agenda (Summerfield-Riverwalk)

District 2 agenda (Country Club-Edgewater)

District 4 agenda (Greenbrook)

District 5 agenda (Country Club)

Inter-District Authority District

Job connection specialist position being created at LWR

The Goodwill Foundation announced it will hire a new job connection specialist at Lakewood Ranch with the help of a $5,000 grant from the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation.

The job  specialist will work one-on-one with folks who  have been chronically unemployed and offer guidance and encouragement  with resume writing, employment applications and job interviews. 

For more on the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund grants:

For more on the recent opening of the Goodwill donor center:

Happy Veterans Day!

Pictured above, from left, retired Col. Jerry L. Hearn of the Rotary District 6960, who served two tours in Vietnam; Christopher Wenzel, student at USFSM, a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force; and Ross Alander, a professor in the College of Business at USF Sarasota-Manatee, who was a combat engineer during the Vietnam War. (provided photo)
In Manatee County, the big Veterans Day event today is the Veterans’ Day parade, sponsored by the Manatee County Veterans Council starting at 10 a.m. at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.

The parade moves to Sutton and Lamb Park. Service is set for 11 a.m. with Brad Smith, who was held as a prisoner of war for seven years in Vietnam, as featured speaker.

The Veterans Committee at USF Sarasota-Manatee hosted their second Veterans Day Ceremony this week, honoring students, staff, faculty and community members who are veterans of the United States military.

Retired Col. Jerry  Hearn of Lakewood Ranch addressed the audience at the ceremony as the keynote speaker and discussed “Honor Flights,” a project run by the Rotary District 6960 that will take 60 WWII Veterans to Washington, D.C. to view the WWII and other memorials.  Honor Flights are taken at no cost to the veteran and will occur in June of 2012.

For more on this project:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Council's burgers are art, too, and worth risking the war zone

Dwayne Johnson was installing a new water meter in front of Council's on Tuesday. (Photo Jim Jones)

Noon today, we stopped by Village of the Arts to interview a wood sculptor who will be taking part in The Creative Arts Association 10th Annual Art Show and Sale 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Nov. 19 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

The need to get a story is a powerful motivator, but so is hunger. On the way back to the newsroom we stopped by Council's Recreation Parlor, 536 12th St. W., Bradenton.

For those who have never been, Council's is a pool palace with well worn linoleum  floors and lots of Florida Gator and Manatee High School football memorabilia on the walls. But the burgers, served on a napkin, are the main draw. Best in town, and like they say, they were making burgers back in the day that if someone said McDonald's, you  thought they were talking about a farm.

Council's sits across the street from the historic Manatee Courthouse which is undergoing renovations. It's on a street where people come who are in trouble: lots of bail bondsmen and law offices. 

The Manatee Avenue widening project has many streets in the area that are torn up or blocked off. And on top of that, the sidewalk in front of Council's has a big hole in it, where Bradenton workers are installing a new water meter and backflow preventor.

In other words, it's a war zone. To get to Council's these days, it takes courage, determination and an overwhelming burger drive.

Happy to say that in spite of the difficulties, the lunch counter was packed. Lots of courthouse workers in white shirts and ties, along with blue-collar laborers and a senior citizen or two. Ah, the power of a well-made burger!


The courthouse across the street from Council's is under renovation. (Photo Jim Jones)

Dwayne Johnson stands in a hole in front of Council's where a water meter is being installed. (Photo Jim Jones)

Charlie Brown would be proud: the Great Pumpkin decorating contest

Shades of Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, the Cabbage Patch Kids and Charlie Brown.

How could anyone resist the fun of  Dr. Jeff Thompson's second pumpkin decorating contest.

The second-generation Bradenton orthodontist  provides and delivers pumpkins to more than 20 local dental offices. 

"We wanted to do something fun, unique and get the whole dental team involved. We have one rule, which is that they cannot cut, gut or carve the pumpkin. Other than that anything goes and it’s all about imagination. It’s been amazing to see all the creativity," he said in an email to the Herald.

" Two weeks prior to Halloween each of our patients vote on which pumpkin they feel is the most creatively decorated. We’ve seen everything from a red M&M to an aquarium, a beaver to Dracula, scuba diver to Jack Sparrow and a graveyard. They’ve all been incredible," he wrote.

The grand prize winner also gets their name engraved on a traveling custom made trophy,what he calls the Stanley Cup of pumpkin decorating."

 It brings the community and our local dental professionals together.  Then everybody’s a winner and smiling, he said.

This year's winner: Dr. Margaret Kirkland’s office.

Check out the gallery:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Calling all runners to Lakewood Ranch for Veterans Day Challenge

Manatee Technical Institute’s Law Enforcement Academy at Lakewood Ranch will hold its third annual 5K Veterans Day Challenge and one-mile walk on Saturday, Nov. 12.  Registration is at 7 a.m.; the race starts at 7:30 a.m.

The run is scheduled in honor of all veterans.  Law enforcement basic recruits will be running alongside all participants.  The funds raised will help send students to state and national SkillsUSA competition. 

Refreshments will be provided.  The first 100 to register will receive raceT-shirts.  Post-race chair massages will be available to all on a first-come, first-serve basis.   Pre-registration cost is $20; registration is $25 the day of the race.  A $5 discount applies to all veterans, military, police, fire rescue personnel, and students.  Register online at (a $2.50 fee applies).  

The race will be held at MTI East Campus, 5540 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. Information: Pat Proudler, 941-751-8479, ext. 2015, or

Event sponsors include On a Shoestring, Suncoast Striders Walking and Running Club, Publix, New Balance, S & R Uniforms, and Road Runners Club of America. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brunch on the Bay a winner

Rebecca Gutherz and Rick Fawley show their Bulls pride at the Brunch on the Bay event for USF Sarasota-Manatee. (photo Jim Jones)
So, this is what 1,000 folks under a circus tent look like, I thought.

It was the 18th annual Brunch on the Bay at the Powel Crosley Estate, located just to the west of USF Sarasota-Manatee on Sarasota Bay.

Impressive sight today, with folks from East Manatee to Anna Maria Island and points in between coming out for a really good meal (try lobster and flank steak before morning) and helping local students with scholarships to USF.

Among those from East Manatee I spotted were John Clarke, former CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch; Anila Jain and her mother Mona; Eva Rey, executive director of the InterDistrict Authority at Lakewood Ranch; Ken and Judy Larrabee; Scott Rudacille and his wife Janae; and more.

For more, see Monday's Herald.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Got a smart phone? Get your Lakewood Ranch and East Manatee news on the go!

The new generation of smart phones puts the world at your disposal.

You can tweet, check your Facebook page, get travel directions with GPS, listen to your favorite music, make a web search, video something crazy you might have just seen, or take a photo.

Did I mention that, yes, you can even make a phone call?

What the smart phone does so well is to keep you in the loop, no matter where you may be.

We invite you to check out throughout the day for news of our local community. It's a robust, dynamic presentation of news, sports and entertainment.

For a sample of what anyone with a smart phone might see, here's a screen grab of the mobile version of the Lakewood Ranch webpage.

Check in often, let us know what you think. And we'd love to hear your news tips and suggestions for news coverage in general.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pincher's promises to grab you

Developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch has long sought to bring a traditional American seafood restaurant to Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

Now it has one.

 Pincher’s Crab Shack, what owner Greg Phelan calls the quintessential Southwest Florida seafood restaurant, is headed to Lakewood Ranch.

It's going into this vacant space next door to Lakewood Ranch Cinemas. For more, see Thursday's Herald.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Goodwill donation center sets up shop in Lakewood Ranch

A little coaching for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of a Lakewood Ranch Goodwill donation center. (Photo by Jim Jones)
Once upon a time, Goodwill was a place where persons with disabilities and other barriers to employment went to find a job.

But with the the prolonged economic slump, there's now only one criteria to seek a job at Goodwill: to be unemployed, said The Rev. Mr. Donald L. Roberts, CEO of Goodwill Manasota.

Roberts made his remarks Tuesday at the opening of the Lakewood Ranch donation center at 9135 Town Center Parkway.

The new center is expected to take in 16,000 donations a year and to create 10 "sustainable" jobs, Roberts said.

For more, see Wednesday's Herald.