Monday, January 30, 2012

$16,000 boost for Manatee Food Bank from University Park Women's Club

President Cheryl Kleiman, left, with Food Bank of Manatee County representative  Kristen Theisen.  (provided photo)
University Park Women's Club members stepped up recently with a $16,000 donation to the Manatee Food Bank.

The money was raised at the club's 7th annual Diamond and Crystal Ball  on Dec.4.  In addition to the check, members donated useful items and chocolates for 250 gift bags to be delivered to Meals on Wheels recipients on Valentines Day, said Katy Arrillaga, club historian in a press release.

 The check was presented to Kristen Theisen, Manatee  Food Bank representative, in January at the club's "Walk The Red Carpet" general meeting, lunch and fashion show at Michael's On East Restaurant.

Tables were named for past Oscar winning movies, such as "Chariots of Fire,"  "Gone With The Wind," and "Schindler's List".

Club  President Cheryl Kleiman  introduced new members and thanked the committee for making the event an "Oscar Winning Performance."
Brenda Ottaway and Jeanie Blazey. (provided photo)
Four of the eight models relaxing before show time, from left, Fran Vaka, Michele Beni, Judy Jones and Jean Brown. (provided photo)

The locomotive from Church Street Station coming to Parrish this week

Frisco engine 3749 is headed to Parrish this week. (provided photo)
Gene Hughey of the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish reports that the locomotive -- the most eagerly awaited portion of' the  train that had been at Orlando's Church Street Station for 35 years -- is due to arrive in Parrish this week.

The engine will arrive sometime late Friday and be unloaded about 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4.

"The Museum is excited to accept this equipment so that it may be preserved. We will place the engine on display and plan on putting at least one railcar into service. How soon all this takes place will depend on donations, ticket sales and volunteers," he said in a press release.

The Florida Railroad Museum is located at 12210 83rd St. E., Parrish.

For more on this new addition to the museum, see our previous story:


Sunday, January 29, 2012

East Manatee students soar at science fair

EAST MANATEE — Cristos G. Nikitopoulos , a student at Haile Middle School, and Jack W. Bailey, a student at Lakewood Ranch High School, were honored by the Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of the Air Force Association for their Aeronautical and Space themed projects presented at the Lockheed Martin Manatee Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

Christos’ project  “Shifting Shapes” investigated how different wing shapes affected the distance a glider could travel.  Jack pursued a similar tack, investigating how different shaped nose cones fitted on model rockets would affect the altitude to which they could fly.

Chapter President Mike Richardson presented each winner with an AFA Certificate of Achievement and Achievement Medal, an Atlas of Space Exploration published by the Smithsonian Institute, and a variety of Air Force promotional items provided by the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Manatee County Air Force recruiters.

Additionally, on behalf of the U.S. Air Force, the chapter recognized two honorable mention winners: Haley Weltzen of Haile Middle School and Stephen Lindsay of Braden River High School  for their projects.  They each received an Air Force Certificate of Achievement an assortment of Air Force items.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Roping and riding builds friendships and families

First time participant in the SMR Cup cowboy Brian Jones came with twins Cady and Cooper and his wife, Cassidy. (Photo by James A. Jones Jr.)
Former Southeast High School sweethearts Cassidy and Brian Jones were there, and their twin baby girls, Cady and Cooper, too.

In addition to being a new dad, Brian Jones is also an old hand as a cowboy. He formerly worked at SMR, but for the past few years has worked at Longino Ranch in Sarasota. Brian is an old hand as a cowboy, but a rookie participant in the SMR Cup.

“I just got the opportunity this weekend. I am pretty excited,” he said.

Also present was another sure enough working cowboy, George Lusby, and his wife Jackie.

George Lusby’s cowboying days may be over. As are his 27 years with the  Manatee County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse.

After all, he is 81.

That’s a good age to  revel in the sunshine, surrounded by family and old friends. What better way to spend the day than sitting on a hay bale and watching the youngsters in your family compete in the SMR Cup?

Or to bounce Dewey David Parks, his 3-year-old great-grandson, on his knee?

“We’ve been back in these woods chasing cows,” Lusby said, recollecting his years working at the former Reagan Ranch on Upper Manatee Road.

The Lusbys said they liked the shooting and fishing competition, and what they were watching at the moment, the roping contest, all of which mix and match cowboys and polo players.

The final day of the SMR Cup is Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Sarasota Polo Club, located near the southwest corner of Lorraine Road and University Parkway.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Admission is $10. Children under 12 are admitted free. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the weather and a little polo. And look for the horse race at halftime.

For more see Sunday's Herald.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

1925 Pullman sleeper arrives in Parrish

How the Monte Rose got its groove back in Parrish. (Photo James A. Jones Jr.)
So, you have a vintage Pullman sleeper car in Orlando and you want to move it to Parrish.

The catch is you can't use any of the rail lines between Orlando and Parrish.

How do you get it from point A to point B? Very carefully.

Lots of heavy duty lifting required. Some assembly and disassembly as well.

But R. Johnson and Sons House and Building Movers in Parrish are old hands at this sort of thing.

They take off the steel wheels and put on rubber tires and haul it down the road.

No kidding. That's how they do it. The Monte Rosa got off the road and onto the tracks at the Florida Railroad Museum on Thursday.

Formerly part of Church Street Station in Orlando, lots of folks saw the Monte Rosa over the years as they went to a night out at Howl at the Moon. Great place.

Now a piece of Church Street Station has come to Parrish. And there's more coming.

See our story in Friday's Herald.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You never know what you'll see at the county fair

Here's looking at you at the Manatee County Fair. (Photo James A. Jones Jr.)

The steer showmanship judging was at the Manatee County Fair Wednesday night.

With so many four-legged critters and young people taking part, you never know what you'll see.

There might even be steer just as curious about you as you are it.

FYI, if you haven't been to the fair yet, what are you waiting for?

The fair ends Sunday. Bet there is a corn dog or dish of strawberry shortcake with your name on it.

One of the main attractions of the fair is the steer sale. That's set for 2 p.m. Saturday. Come on out and buy one at auction, or sit a spell and watch the bidding action.

For a story on the results of the steer showmanship competition, see Thursday's Herald.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Now that's a gavel!

Bobbi Larson handed off the chairmanship of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance today to Brian Volner.

There was a gasp from the audience at the size of the huge gavel that Larson passed to Volner.

It's one that Robin Parsons, the Alliance's business development director, bought at a garage sale months ago for $10 and kept under wraps. Wednesday was the first time Alliance members, including Volner, had seen the symbol of authority.

What's the history of the big hammer? All the fellow knew that sold it to Robin is that he bought it at a yard sale, too.

Talk about walking softly and carrying a big stick.

For more on the Alliance's first membership meeting of the year, see Josh Salman's story in Thursday's Herald.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dorothy and Toto? Timmy and Lassie?

When I heard that there was going to be a pet Walk of Fame at Lakewood Ranch, I had this image of  Charlie Chaplin doing that shuffling ramble he was famous for, and twirling that cane.

Maybe there will be one. Would love to see the dog twirling the cane.

There could be a Superman with his Superdog. And maybe Annie will come with Sandy.

There could be  lookalikes where there are Indiana Jones, Tom Cruise, or Natalie Portman guys and dogs.

Naturals would seem to be Dorothy and Toto. Or Timmy and Lassie.

We will see 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, at Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

Among the awards, will be best duo, best ensemble, the sweetest, and the best resemblance to a celebrity.

Participants will walk a chalked red carpet. Winners will receive “golden bowls,” rather than Golden Globes.

Many area animal rescue groups have been invited and the event will offer an opportunity to adopt from a wide range of pets.

In addition, there will be about 65 vendors taking part.

Register at

Saturday, January 7, 2012

National lacrosse talent finds its way to Lakewood Ranch

Lacrosse players warms up at Lakewood Ranch. (Photo by Jim Jones)

Some of the best young lacrosse players in the country  are at Premier Sports Campus this weekend

They are here for 3d Blue Chip, a national recruiting camp.

We stopped by the fields on Saturday and talked to a group from Pittsburgh.

The sport looks like a lot of fun. The camp also represents an infusion of dollars into the local economy.

For more see Sunday's Herald. And if you're in the neighborhood, drop by and see it for yourself. No admission charge and games are set for 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sunday.

So many bikers, so many stories to tell

Richard Blake's riding vest documents the 65 years he has been riding motorcycles. (Photo by Jim Jones)
The 14th Annual Thunder by the Bay Motorcycle Festival is underway.

We visited with several bikers at Dealer Day at Bradenton's Manatee River Harley Davidson on Saturday.

Really nice people they were, too, with some fascinating stories.

Among them was Richard Blake, an 83-year-old Korean War veteran. His military service is recorded on his motorcycle.

For more, see Sunday's Herald. Lots of events are planned Sunday on Main Street in downtown Sarasota.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New to Lakewood Ranch? This one is for you

Lakewood Ranch Town Hall officials will conduct a resident orientation 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11,  at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

The orientation is designed to remove the confusion over what a  community development district does, and how it differs from a home owner association. It will also explain how the Inter-District Authority fits into the mix.

Lakewood Ranch is not a city, but it nevertheless has its own elected government.

Attendance is open to any Lakewood Ranch resident. Seating is limited.

RSVP by 5 p.m. Jan. 9 to Kay DePaolo at 941- 907-0202 or via e-mail at

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Human Condition to perform at Music on Main

The Human Condition performs at Skippers Smokehouse. (provided photo)
Baby it's cold outside.

But it should be warming up just  fine for The Human Condition to perform rock and acoustic songs at the first Music on Main concert of the year at Lakewood Ranch Main Street 6-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6.

The Bradenton band offers a diverse set, showing influences from Led Zeppelin to Radiohead.

The public is invited to the free concert.

Proceeds from beer and wine sales go to benefit We Care Manatee, which promotes and facilitates the provision of free specialty and primary medical care to low-income, uninsured residents of Manatee County.

Music on Main is always a fun, relaxing way to end the week. Plan to check out The Human Condition.

The Human Condition. (provided photo)