Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lakewood Ranch residents, new and existing, can learn plenty from orientation

By Nick Williams

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Though many in attendance were in their 50s and 60s, it was back to elementary school for those attending the Lakewood Ranch Resident Orientation on Wednesday inside Town Hall.

Nick Williams
While many were probably expecting a rundown of the ins and outs of their community, they were also given a history lesson about Florida, Manatee County and Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.

The orientation, which is held once a month, is geared toward new residents in Lakewood Ranch, but existing residents are invited as well. 

Eva Rey, the executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority, tested the room of nearly two dozen residents on their knowledge of Florida and Lakewood Ranch history with a "did you know" session. 
"When did Florida become a state?" she asked. "How many cities are in Florida?" "How many districts in Manatee County."

Some residents excitedly responded and were given a treat if they answered correctly.

Considering the diverse background of the residents -- one couple moved to the area from Ottawa -- it serves a great purpose. 

"Everyone is interested in different things," Rey said. "One resident has come to the last two orientations, just to learn everything. Residents see it as a refresher."  

During the two-hour the orientation, residents also received a slideshow presentation informing them on general  laws of the state, county and development, the districts in which they live and how they operate, the differences between home owner's associations and community development districts, emergency contacts and general maintenance of their property and all of Lakewood Ranch.

 They were greeted by the Community Activities Director Lori Basilone, who briefly spoke about upcoming events and how to get involved in the community and residents were also made aware of Happy, an alligator that lives in a lake inside one of the subdivisions.Because there are many preserves inside Lakewood Ranch, residents were made aware of the natural inhabitants. 

Residents were encouraged to ask questions and take notes during the orientation for future reference.

Nick Williams    
News Reporter  
Bradenton Herald\ Lakewood Ranch Herald  
Twitter: @_1NickWilliams

Florida Rail Experience to recognize leaders of effort to preserve train history

Ben Jordan, president of the Parrish Civic Association, looks over plans for Florida Railroad Experience.  (Herald file photo)

EAST MANATEE — Nominations for the inaugural Florida Railroading Historic Preservation Award were announced by Florida Railroad Experience this week.

The nominees:

* Greg Turner of Fort Myers, a noted author of Florida railroad history.

* Joe Oates of Dover, retired from the Seaboard Air Line & Seaboard Coast Line Railroads and founder of the Atlantic Coast Line & Seaboard Air Line Historical Society.

* James Langston, III, of Brandon, CSX Phosphate Division business manager and director of The Friends of Tampa Union Station.

* Thomas W. Moody of Milton, officer of the West Florida Railroad Museum and author of books on Northwestern Florida railroading.

Nominations were made by the general public with an interest in railroading.  Final judging for the award was completed by representatives of Florida Railroad Experience.

The winner for 2012 will be announced 7 - 9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, during a wine and cheese tasting to kick off Remembering the Railroads, a collection of Florida railroad photographs.  The reception will be held at Winestyles, San Marco Plaza, Lakewood Ranch.

Tickets may be purchased at the door.  The cost is $50 per person or $75 per couple.  Proceeds go to Florida Railroad Experience in Parrish to fund its projects and educational programs.

Information: or call 941- 302-8600.

For more about the Florida Railroad Experience, visit our previous story:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Here are the results from the Sarasota Invitational Rowing Regatta

Rowers at Nathan Benderson Park on Feb. 24. Herald photo by Grant Jefferies)

We reported Saturday that rowing teams from as far away as the Midwest,  Canada and the United Kingdom were in town for the Third annual Sarasota Invitational Rowing Regatta.

Even if you didn't attend the competition, you knew they were here. Hotels and restaurants were jammed, especially along the University Parkway corridor.

That's what happens when 1,500 rowers, plus their families and friends converge on area.

For results of the competition, check out Jason Dill's column at:

 and visit:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Growth, expansion are encouraging words

By Nick Williams

I recently interviewed State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, about the two growth management bills he’s sponsored. His bills, 842 and 1180, aim to reduce government regulation in the regional planning councils to allow counties and cities to work more directly with private companies. The end result is quicker development.

In the interview, Bennett, expressed the satisfaction he felt about the economic and cultural growth of the Bradenton-Sarasota area. He mentioned the universities and colleges in the area, the opera and  the ballet.

“You don’t get that without growth,” he said. “We’re doing better than most.” recently ranked the Bradenton-Sarasota area as the No. 5 turn-around community in the U.S. based on housing market figures.

Nine new businesses will open in Main Street in Lakewood Ranch this year. During a period where America is seeing more “going out of business” signs or just vacant office spaces, there are actually “coming soon” signs in windows. 

While many counties across the state are eliminating parks or don’t have enough funds to improve the ones they have, Manatee County will make several improvements to Lakewood Ranch Park, a 150-acre site near Lakewood Ranch High School. 

The improvements will include the expansion of a storm water pond, playground area, four parking areas, an add-a-brick gathering plaza with a gazebo and flag pole, rest rooms, a concession building, a 6,000-square-foot locker room, sidewalks, security lights, handicap accessibility in the parking lot, exercise trails and a 1,200-square-foot expansion for the Braden River Soccer Club.

And the housing market continues to grow.

Medallion Homes Gulf Coast, Inc., a home-building company in Bradenton, is seeking a general plan approval from the Manatee County Planning Commission to begin developing 1,282 residential units inside the Cross Creek subdivision near the intersection of Old Tampa and Fort Hamer Roads in Parrish. 

Stirling Equity Group, a subsidiary of Neal Communities, has requested approval to build on 33 lots in the Belleisle subdivision in Lakewood Ranch. The request is for the second phase of a construction plan. At build out, the company is expecting 181 total lots. Two-thirds have already been released for sale and 46 lots owned by Neal Communities have already been sold inside Belleisle since they were put on the market last February.

On Saturday, the Florida chapter of the American Institute of Building Designers took a tour of The Lake Club inside Lakewood Ranch. At least 50 members made up of architects, designers and planners from around the state toured several homes in the exclusive, gated community. The focus of the meeting and tour was to identify trends in luxury homes and what buyers are looking for.

We all want a healthy economy in Florida. From the looks of things, this area could serve as the instructor for others seeking to stimulate their new home market.

Tweet: @_1NickWilliams  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Payton Wright Foundation announces its 4th Annual Golf Tournament and Dinner

Payton Wright

The 4th annual Payton Wright Foundation Golf Tournament is set for May 4 at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.  The tournament will be followed by a  banquet, which will include dinner, live music, and a silent auction.

Proceeds will be used to support the Payton Wright Foundation in its fight against pediatric brain cancer. The Payton Wright Foundation, is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit public organization founded in 2008 by Patrick and Holly Wright.

The Wrights established The Payton Wright Foundation in memory of their daughter Payton who passed away at the age of 5 from brain cancer.

“We all tend to forget that health insurance only covers so much. When a family is caring for a child with brain cancer, their only focus is to save their child’s life. It should not be worrying about their bills or how to get to treatments. The Payton Wright Foundation financially assists families so that they can concentrate on their child’s care,” said Holly Wright.

Those interested in donating to the silent auction, becoming a sponsor, or learning more about the Payton Wright Foundation, should email Holly Wright at or call 941-228.-4886.

More information:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Notable events for the common good in East Manatee set for Saturday in Myakka

Can't remember a time when there were two big benefit concerts the same day in the Myakka ZIP code area.

But there are two set for Saturday, Feb. 25, and they are for worthy causes.

First up is the Home Grown Band Bash To benefit Myakka City Foundation, Inc. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. at  at 37155 State Road  70 E. Myakka City.

The mission of the foundation is to assist Myakka City  residents who are struggling financially due to life-threatening illness, chronic illness, or major accident resulting in significant medical attention requirements

The other big musical event is Hunsadser’s Rockin’ Ranch Concert is set for 4 p.m.- midnight  to help offset the medical costs associated with the Christmas night tragedy that took the lives of  Lakewood Ranch High School students Josh Rogers and Brett Wagner. The Hunsadser’s concert will be held at 23810 53rd Ave. E., Myakka City.

Here's some helpful information about the two concerts:

Home Grown Band Bash - admission free, barbecue plates available for $10.

Several talented local bands will be performing throughout the day on two stage areas. Also planned, a silent auction.

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, but pets, coolers, beverages and firearms are not permitted.

The foundation’s goal is to raise $20,000 to $25,000. Sponsorship for this event is available. All proceeds from the Home Grown Band Bash will benefit the Myakka City Foundation.

Need more information? Call Rose Riggle at 941-350-2079 or email

Hunsadser’s Rockin’ Ranch Concert - cost: $10 per person. Children under 12 admitted free.

The musical lineup: 4 p.m.  Danny Toler with Faith Worship;  6 p.m. till 9:30, the Mumbo Jumbo Band; and Tony Tyler with Come Back Alice starts at 10 p.m. and wraps up the night.

The evening will feature live bands, food, mechanical bull riding, face painting, raffles, including a 50/50, and bonfire.

For information on donations, email For information regarding the event, contact Van Balam at 941-757-9307.

If that weren't enough, or maybe you're looking for something a little quieter, you might want to consider  the Myakka Conservancy's trail ride on horseback or a hayride on a wagon pulled by Clydesdales followed by a “Florida Cracker” barbecue to benefit conservation efforts for the Myakka River Magical Mile.

 The trail ride and hay ride will be from 4-6 p.m. with the barbecue, live music, dancing and a silent auction following at 6:30-10 p.m. Costs are: $125 for the trail ride and barbecue; $75 for the hay ride and barbecue, and $50 for the barbecue only. Register online:

 To learn more, visit the conservancy’s


Monday, February 20, 2012

More help announced for Taylor Emmons Foundation

Taylor Emmons

Salt & Light Productions, a project of the Center for Faith and Freedom, announced today that it has awarded a cost-sharing grant to the Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund.

The Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund provides opportunities for socio-economically diverse students to experience an independent college preparatory education at The Out-of-Door Academy's Upper School.

"We are pleased to be able to offer non-profit organizations like the Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund the opportunity to work with us in producing a high-end media presentation. I understand that we are in challenging economic times and we know from many years of experience that a video presentation is an indispensable tool for marketing and development efforts,"  said Stuart J. Roth, founder and president of CFF.

For more about Taylor Emmons:

LWR youth fishing tournament set for Saturday

Red Bailey heads up the annual youth fishing tourney at Lakewood Ranch. (Herald file photo)

The 6th annual Lakewood Ranch catch-and-release youth fishing tournament is set for 8:30-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Summerfield Lake on the east end of Summerfield Parkway.

Hosted by the LWR Anglers Club and LWR Community Activities, the tourney is for anglers ages 5 – 15.

Trophies and prizes will be awarded in age groups and all registered participants will receive tournament T-shirts, cooler bags by Pulmonary Associates of LWR, lunch and more.

Cost:  $5 per angler. Register on-line at or obtain registration form at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

Space is limited to the first 125 registered.  Call 941-757-1530 for more information.

 A free lunch will be provided to all registered young anglers.  Parents and other family members may purchase a lunch for $3.

For more on the tourney, visit:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Building the Manatee County economy, adding jobs

We've had a prolonged bit of misery in our economy. Understatement of the year perhaps.

Out of the blue -- actually it was gray and rainy -- made a couple of stops Sunday on the Home Builders Association Manatee-Sarasota Parade of Homes.

Model homes were doing a really brisk business with lots of foot traffic. Let's hope there was some buying going on as well.

Very encouraging sign for our local economy.

For more, visit:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Frisco steam engine has arrived!

The 1911 Frisco steam locomotive has arrived in Parrish at Florida Railroad Museum.

Take a look at Grant Jefferies' photo gallery:

Brisk business at Manatee County's e-scrap collection on 3rd Saturday of the month

Getting rid of toxic waste the safe way today at the Lena Road landfill. (Photo James A. Jones Jr.)

Got old paint, batteries, TVs, computers or other hazardous waste in the garage or elsewhere on your property?

Throw it in the car or truck and head out to the Manatee County landfill on Lena Road.

It's hazardous waste and e-scrap collection day.

Great service provided by the county to properly dispose of toxic stuff that could otherwise come back to haunt us. Free service, too (well, already prepaid by taxpayers).

Just got back a few minutes ago from making a haul of my own. Last time, it was all done out of doors.

Now there is a drive-through building, and the unloading is done in the shade and out of the weather.

There was a good size line of vehicles, but the very motivated and professional staff kept things moving smartly.

You don't even get out of your vehicle. County workers do it all for you.

I was very impressed. Kudos to the county for such a great operation!

E-scrap and hazardous waste collection day is 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. the third Saturday of the month. So you've got plenty of time if you want to get your yucky stuff to the landfill the safe way.

If you're headed from Bradenton or Palmetto, best bet is to take I-75 to State Road 64 and head east. Look for Lena Road and follow the signs. The way through the landfill is well marked. If you're heading in from the east take S.R. 64 to Lena Road and hang a left.

Can't say how happy I am to have an old computer screen, my old paint cans and two ballasts from fluorescent lights out of my garage.

Residents line up to dispose of their hazardous waste at Lena Road landfill. (Photo by James A Jones Jr.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lakewood Ranch grad takes part in FSU Dance Marathon for kids

 TALLAHASSEE  – Kyle Dunnington, a political science major at Florida State University and a 2008 Lakewood Ranch High School grad who calls Bradenton home, is external fundraising chair for the 17th annual Dance Marathon.

The program  benefits Children’s Miracle Network at Shands Hospital for Children and the FSU College of Medicine’s Pediatric Outreach Program.

The marathon will be held at the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center on Feb. 17-19.

More than 3,000 students are expected to participate, with 1,800 of them volunteering to dance. The 40-hour event is split into two 20-hour shifts, where dancers commit to being on their feet for 20 hours straight pledging to “stand for those who can’t."

To support Kyle Dunnington and Dance Marathon at FSU, visit and click on “donate now.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

East Manatee Fire Rescue promotions, honors, announced

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The East Manatee Fire Rescue District held their annual promotions and awards program this week during a meeting of the board of fire commissioners. Among the promotions announced by Chief Byron Teates:

* Firefighter III Eric Hoying to engineer.

* Firefighter III Danny Chappell to engineer.

* Engineer Kyle Taylor to lieutenant.

* Engineer Kim Chevalier to lieutenant.

* Lt. Will Hall to captain.

The Firefighter of the Year award was presented to Firefighter Derek Smith.

The Fire Officer of the Year award was presented to Will Hall.

Other awards presented:

* Five years of service to Jason Henderson, Paul Wren, and Derek Parker.

*  Ten years of service to Joe Griffith, Jacob Lilly, Ryan Taylor, and Hall.

* Fifteen years of service to Beth Mikulski and Rick Wren.

* Twenty years of service to Bob Conley.

* Twenty five  years of service to Bob Mikulski and Troy Toman.

* Battalion Chief David Gilchrist was presented his retirement badge after 24 years of service.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Frisco engine 3749 making its run at night

Frisco engine 3749, the 1911-vintage steam engine which was expected to roll into Parrish on Feb. 14, has been delayed again.

"The engine is half way to Parrish and now Florida Department of Transportation says the mover must have more police and run only at night," Gene Hughey of the Florida Railroad Museum said in an email today.

Barring any additional delays, the engine is expected to be unloaded Monday. Feb. 20, he said.

 Frisco engine 3749 has been part of Orlando's dining and entertainment district, Church Street Station, for the past 35 years.

Frustration grows over lead foots at Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch supervisors asked today: what's the hold up in dealing with speeders? Shown above, from left, are Dave Emison, Jean Stewart, Tom Green and Executive Director Eva Rey. (Photo James A. Jones Jr.)

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Supervisors of the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority expressed frustration today at the slow pace of putting more muscle into speed limit enforcement.

Supervisors have sought to pay off-duty deputies to provide additional traffic control in the gated Country Club and Edgewater villages.

But recent changes in federal signage requirements have forced an overhaul of signage in the gated communities.

In response to a request from Chairman Tom Green for a status report on efforts to clamp down on lead foots, Operations Manager Ryan Heise said $4,000 worth of new signs have been ordered, following a county inspection of the area.

Once those signs are installed, Manatee County inspectors will be invited back for another look.

If the new signs get the green light, the off-duty deputies could potentially start stepped up enforcement as soon as March, said Steve Zielinski, chief financial officer.

"The people ask me, 'where is the sheriff,'" Green said. "I don't know what's behind all this."

For the past 10 years, deputies made traffic stops in the gated communities, supervisor Dave Emison said, expressing bewilderment over what has changed.

"If want to pay the sheriff to come in for additional policing, the existing signs aren't good enough?" Emison said.

Executive Director Eva Rey said that what has changed are those new federal signage requirements, and many communities have had to spend extra money to get into compliance.

"It sounds like an unreasonable bureaucracy and the taxpayers are having to pay for it," Emison said.

For more, see Wednesday's Herald.

Monday, February 13, 2012

U.S. Security contract up for renewal at Lakewood Ranch

Ina Gross' death earlier this year at Lakewood Ranch remains a mystery.


Looking ahead, there is an interesting item on the agenda for the Lakewood Ranch Community Development Districts supervisors meetings on Tuesday and Thursday at the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

Community Development District 2 (Country Club- Edgewater) plans to discuss the renewal of contract with U.S. Security.

Concerns over security were heightened by two armed home invasion burglaries in Edgewater Village late last year and more recently by the first homicide in Lakewood Ranch history.

In January, 78-year-old Ina Gross was found dead in her home. No arrests have been made have been made in that crime.

Supervisors typically meet in a workshop session on the second Tuesday of the month and then follow up with a regular meeting on  Thursday.

Meetings start at 8 a.m. both days.

Frisco engine 3749 due in Parrish on Tuesday

Frisco Engine 3749
Train buffs who have been awaiting the arrival of Frisco engine 3749 from Church Street Station in Orlando won't have to wait much longer.

The steam engine, which  was originally built in 1911, was expected to arrive at  the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish more than a week ago, but was held up by a permitting problem.

During its working life, Frisco engine 3749 spent 35 years at the Orlando dining and entertainment district, switched cars around in various freight yards, including in Pensacola, and did hard time at the  state prison in Atmore, Ala.

Inmates there were, well, working on the railroad all the live-long day. In the late 1950s it was sold to a scrapper who never got around to scrapping it,  Glen Miley of the Florida Railroad Museum, previously told the Herald.

Here's the text of an email from Gene Hughey of the Florida Railroad Museum we just received on the  status of Frisco engine 3749:

"This is it!

"The steam engine from Orlando Church Street Station is on its way.

"The engine will depart Orlando at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 14, with police escort.

"The engine will take most of the day to arrive in Parrish between 4 and 5  p.m., they hope.

"The engine will be unloaded at the Florida Railroad Museum, 12210 83rd St. E., Parrish, on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at around 9 a.m."

Food Network star Mary Nolan plans appearance at Lakewood Ranch

Mary Nolan


LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Bon App├ętit Chef and Food Network star Mary Nolan will bring her "Chic & Easy" show to Lakewood Ranch this summer to film a segment for the network, SMR spokesperson Candice McElyea confirmed Monday.

The segment will be called 'Chic & Easy ... an Around the Ranch Event'. The filming will take place in Lakewood Ranch, June 8-10, McElyea said.

The event will include a meet and greet at the Viking Culinary Center on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch along with a demo, luncheon and champagne brunch at Polo Grill and Bar, also in Lakewood Ranch.

For more about Mary Nolan and her show, visit:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Neighbors come to the aid of Levi Dakin

Myakka City residents have risen to the challenge of helping Levi Dakin and his family in his battle with cancer. (provided photo)

Here's an update on the Levi Dakin “Believing in the Cure” ranch rodeo fundraiser held recently at Circle S Rodeo Arena on Clay Gulley Road, Myakka City.

So far, the rodeo  has brought in $48, 420, reports Maureen Flaherty, who handled publicity for the event

Proceeds will go to help Levi Dakin, 33, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, anaplasic astrocytoma, in September of 2011.

He has completed six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. More treatments will follow. The family is expecting the birth of their third child in four weeks.

Mo forwarded several photos from this event, where neighbor helped neighbor.

Children took part in a boot race at the Levin Dakin benefit. (provided photo)
Erin Drake was one of the leaders in organizing a benefit rodeo for Levi Dakin. Also shown is Myron Albritton. (provided photo)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Premier Sports Campus Lakewood Ranch's expanding reach to the world

By Nick Williams

The high quality level of sports programs and athletes coming through the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch is making the area a national and international destination.

Pretty soon, it may have to be referred to as "Training Town USA".

Here's a rundown of what's happened in January alone:

* 50 youth teams converged at the campus for a chance to advance to the USSSA National Championships.
* Members of the U23 U.S. Womens National Team team trained there. Some of the members have a shot at making the U.S. Women's Olympic soccer team.
* Major League Soccer's DC United held its preseason training there.
* Athletic Edge Sports on Main Street began training nearly two dozen NFL prospects.

Mike Gough, who founded and operates Athletic Edge, has trained professional baseball players, golfers and tennis players. All of whom may be seen walking down Main Street throughout the year.

"Working with the sports campus, I partnered with them to support all of the athletes that are training on the fields as well," Gough said. "That was kind of the vision SMR had when they wanted to build this out. They were going to open up a training facility and they were looking for someone to do that and I was already established."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Josh Rogers and Brett Wagner benefit concert set

Brett Wagner
Josh Rogers

All proceeds from Hunsadser’s Rockin’ Ranch concert 4 p.m.- midnight Feb. 25 will go to offset the medical costs associated with the Christmas night tragedy that took the lives of  Lakewood Ranch High School students and best friends Josh Rogers and Brett Wagner.

The concert will be held at 23810 53rd Ave. E., Myakka City.

The evening will feature live bands, food, mechanical bull riding, face painting, raffles, including a 50/50, and bonfire.

The musical lineup: 4 p.m.  Danny Toler with Faith Worship;  6 p.m. till 9:30, the Mumbo Jumbo Band; and Tony Tyler with Come Back Alice starts at 10 p.m. and wraps up the night.

Cost: $10 per person. Children under 12 admitted free.

For information on donations, email For information regarding event, Van Balam at 941-757-9307.

Event to honor fallen Navy SEAL Brian Bill

Navy SEAL Brian Bill lost his life in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan Aug. 8, 2011.

Sarasota resident Scott Bill received the terrible news last August that his son Brian Bill had been killed in a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of 22 Navy SEALS, elite members of U.S. Armed Forces.

Scott Bill is heading up a benefit honoring his son and other Navy SEALS 10:30 a.m. Feb. 24 at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, 10715 Rodeo Drive Lakewood Ranch..

It's called  “Honoring Navy SEAL Brian Bill and His Fellow SEALS: A Benefit for the Navy SEAL Foundation.” 

A reception at 10:30 a.m. followed by a noon private screening of “Act of Valor,” a movie inspired by true events and starring active-duty Navy SEALs, is included in the $50 tax-deductible ticket price. 

 Event sponsors include Sarasota Film Society and Eliza and Hugh Culverhouse, who have issued a $2,500 matching gift challenge for funds raised by the event.

Visit for more event information and to purchase tickets.

The Navy SEAL Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax exempt, national non-profit charitable foundation. The Foundation provides support in times of adversity and achievement to U.S. Navy SEALS, special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, Naval Special Warfare support personnel and their families.
For previous coverage, visit these links:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Never know who you will meet out on the street

The folks you meet on the street. (Photo James A. Jones Jr.)
Friday night at Music on Main, the street was jammed with folks, all the way from Polo Grill to Lakewood Ranch Cinemas.

The parking lots were jammed too, and so was overflow parking across the street north of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. What will they ever do if development comes to those vacant lots?

You never know who you will see on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Here are links to two galleries, one from Friday night and one from today at Ovation, the celebration of arts and entertainment.

Take a look at all those faces. The one that jumped out at me was Mark Twain, portrayed by Bradenton's Rod Rawlings.


A reporter's journey through East Manatee

Nick Williams
Massive churches, growing communities, fun places to go and historic places to see...

Welcome to East Manatee County!

Greetings, residents of Manatee County and readers of the Bradenton Herald and Lakewood Ranch Herald. My name is Nick Williams and I will be helping keep you updated on what's going on in East Manatee.

Friday, East Manatee editor Jim Jones gave me tour of the area and I'm still absorbing all of which I saw.

To start the day, we headed down State Road 64 near I-75 when we received a call about a possible dead panther on the side of the road. Fortunately (and unfortunately), it wasn't a panther, but a 60-pound bobcat.

After that, here's the rundown of what I can recollect:

The Sheriff's Youth Ranch on Rye Road,  the Manatee County rowing facility in Parrish where the Canadian Olympic team is training, a public hearing sign in front of Cross Creek,and seeing a neglected mansion on Rye Road,

The Florida Railroad Museum, eating  delicious barbecue in Parrish,

Meeting community development manager Jahna Leinhauser with Manatee Chamber of Commerce -- she gives a shoutout to Strike Zone, a $2 million indoor sports complex in East Manatee,

Driving past Manatee Technical Institute, stopping at  LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine) and meeting Michael Polin, head of communication, and while we waited, the LECOM security guard as well. He is from a small town in Pennsylvania and is a retired military man and police officer,

Heading over to Main Street on Lakewood Ranch, where we run into Bob Stepleman, chairman of Community Development District 2.

We also meet Mike Gough who is training 21 college football players who hope to gain entry to the NFL.

We stop by Honor Animal Sanctuary where contruction is underway to build bigger and better kennels for the dogs there, and then we motor over to the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch (wow!).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lakewood Ranch High junior has golden voice


It's very inspiring to listen to 17-year-old Channing Weir talk about her dreams of becoming a Broadway performer.

You can read about her talents here

On Saturday, Feb. 4, Weir will be among several local entertainers performing at the 5th annual Ovation Celebration on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.

But to actually hear Weir sing is the real satisfaction.

You can listen to some of her performances on YouTube on the following links:

Delivery of locomotive to Parrish delayed

New domed passenger car at Florida Railroad Museum. (Photo James A. Jones Jr.)
The delivery of Frisco engine 3749 to Parrish is going to take a little longer than anticipated.

The locomotive, which had been at Orlando's Church Street Station for 35 years, was expected to arrive in Parrish this week.

But in an email today, Gene Hughey of the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish reports there has been a glitch.

"Florida Department of Transportation has not issued the necessary permits to transport the steam engine from Church Street Station," he wrote. "The engine will not arrive as scheduled on Saturday, Feb. 4."

We dropped by the museum grounds at 12210 83rd St. E., Parrish, today and noticed that the passenger car with dome roof has arrived from Church Street Station. Cool looking piece of rolling stock. See the photo above.

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


Manatee community rides to the aid of father battling brain cancer with ranch rodeo

Levi Dakin

MYAKKA CITY —  The Levi Dakin “Believing in the Cure” ranch rodeo fundraiser is set for 11 a.m. 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Circle S Rodeo Arena, 32450 Clay Gulley Road, Myakka City.

Levi Dakin, 33, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, anaplasic astrocytoma, in September of 2011 and has completed six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. More treatments will follow. The family is expecting the birth of their third child in four weeks. 

Gates open at 10:30 a.m. for early registration of the live auction.

 Admission for the event: $10 for those 12 and up, $5 for children 6 - 11, and free for those under 5.  All proceeds will benefit the Levi Dakin Trust and his continued effort in battling brain cancer.

The day’s event will include a live auction at 11 a.m., ranch rodeo competition, boot scramble, raffle, silent auction, barbecue pork sandwiches, and more.

 Live auction items include an autographed Bucs football, half-day quail hunting trip for one person, 40-inch Toshiba HD LCD flat screen TV, three-tier wooden wine rack, cross bred Jersey- Holstein heifer calf, Hobby Campbell framed print, 20 rolls of cow hay, a custom made fire pit, saddle, I Pad II by Apple, full day offshore fishing trip for four persons, a Bokeelia fishing weekend duplex and much more.

Donations will be accepted the day of the event or can be directly made to the trust.

All checks can be made payable to Levi Dakin Trust Fund and be mailed c/o Erin Dakin Drake at 38310 Clay Gully Road, Myakka City, FL 34251.  Contributions can also be made at any First America Bank location in Manatee or Sarasota counties.